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5 Years 7 Months Earlier

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John Grey stretched and yawned, squelching his toes in the dew-damp grass beneath his bare feet before he retrieved the now soggy paper from the lawn. That damn kid could never get it on the porch.

He opened the fragile, wet pages gingerly as he started back to the house, not looking up until he heard a throat being cleared and was greeted with a mug of coffee being thrust at him. He smiled his thanks as he took the mug. The manipulation of his facial muscles caused a slight tightening over his cheek - a reminder of the scar there, mostly hidden in his beard.

“Thanks darlin’” A Southern drawl that seemed to have resurfaced after the first six months in California, drawn out by the desire to keep something of himself, something from before. Long before.

“Don’t thank me! You’re the one cooking breakfast, and we’re out of eggs… so… drink up!” A bright tone, bright smile.

Craig was undeniably a morning person, and generally a happy guy. In that respect, he should balance John out. Be a counterbalance to the moody, grumpy person that John often was. He should stop John from spending too much time in his own head, which was no good for anyone.

John Grey was pretty sure he could be happy, settled, content, with Craig Harris.

Will Graham wasn’t so sure.

5 Years 7 Months Earlier

“It’s beautiful…”

He meant it. He had never meant anything so desperately in his life. Never wanted anything so desperately. The blood, the thrill of the kill, hunting like a pack with Hannibal.

Hannibal.

He had known for a long time, a very long time, that Hannibal was in love with him. He hadn’t realised until he had asked Bedelia in his almost consuming desire to confirm what was already clear, that he was in love with Hannibal too.

Will Graham hadn’t really had much experience with love. His childhood had given him a rocky start and his empathy disorder had put paid to anything remotely meaningful until he had met Hannibal Lecter. Not that he had realised it at the time.

No, he hadn’t realised what that was - he had thought it was a close friendship, something he’d also had little experience of, until he met Molly. The way it was with her reminded him of his friendship with Hannibal. It was the way things went with Molly - the friendship they built, the relationship on top of that, that he seemed to let build up around him that had made him finally realise. He had been - he was - in love with Hannibal Lecter.

His inability to know how to deal with that love, both his own and Hannibal’s... The inability to understand himself better, accept himself sooner, and find a happiness that reflected Hannibal’s - had lead them to the top of the bluff. Had lead him to make a split second decision in his head. No rationale, no premeditation. Nothing beyond: Live together or die together. And in that moment, fresh from the kill, overwhelmed by his lust for blood and Hannibal alike, living felt too overwhelming. Too complicated and bloody and full of more of the pain he had experienced all his life, but especially since meeting the man he had come to love.

5 Years 5 Months Earlier

“Will?”

The voice was familiar. Concerned.

“Will? Can you open your eyes?”

He did and was immediately blinded by sterile white light. His senses flooded with the sounds and smells around him - monitors beeping, antiseptic, decay. Death.

“I’ll go get Doctor Montgomery.” A light all-business voice left the room.

He managed to narrow his senses and finally focus his eyes on the figure at his bedside. A bearded, scruffy looking Jack Crawford stood next to him. Next to his hospital bed. He was in a hospital bed. A private room. Alone. Except Jack…

“Ha… Anniba?…” His voice broke painfully and he erupted into a coughing fit,doubling over painfully - his whole body heavy and aching. Jack tried to gentle him back onto the bed and then handed him a cup of water with a straw directed at his mouth.

“You’ll do just fine Will...You’re doing just fine. You’re on the mend, and you’re awake now. Don’t worry about anything else right now. You’re safe, Hannibal’s gone. We just need to get you better. That’s all that matters.”

Hannibal. Gone.

What did that mean? His throat was raw, every part of his body burned from lack of use. His eyes felt heavy and began to slowly close again despite the effort he put into staying awake.

Will felt tears prick his eyes. Felt a tight pull in his chest. The only thing that truly mattered could be lost to him for all he knew.

5 Years 1 Month Earlier

Will had finally settled into a routine. It wasn’t one he especially liked - with three sessions of physio a week, the psychiatrist once a week, and Jack’s regular friendly visits - but it was a start. Rehabilitation had been going well. You could almost not tell at all that his right leg had been pretty much smashed, unless of course you saw him stand or walk - or had the misfortune to see the scarred flesh that covered metal plates and pins. He spent a lot of time thinking how he would clearly have been better off if they had amputated. Instead he had to lug around this piece of half-dead meat that they assured him would improve if only he gave himself the chance and worked at it. That was usually right before they called his therapist to come in ahead of schedule.

“Mr Graham is having one of his black days.”

Well who fucking wouldn’t?

He’d wanted to die when he went over that bluff. He’d wanted to die for a second so brief it was devastating to realise the consequences of it. He’d wanted to kill them both and have them forever conjoined in death. But, really only in that terrible and everlasting moment. He wasn’t suicidal, or at least he hadn’t been, not really. It was a bizarre gut reaction in the heat of a very extreme moment.

Now was a different matter. He still wasn’t really suicidal, and although he was depressed, he was unable to reveal the real reason behind that to the staff and to Jack. He was fed up. And with Hannibal gone there were some days when he didn’t feel like he had an awful lot to live for, but there wasn’t a lot to die for either.

His doctors, Jack, the FBI - none of them knew the truth of what had happened that night. He had been found smashed on the rocks, Hannibal missing presumed dead. He had woken up nearly 2 months later, brought around from his medically induced coma, to find the story everyone had decided on in his absence. That he and Hannibal had clearly been attacked and had fended off, and killed, Dolarhyde. There had then been a further scuffle when Will had tried to apprehend Lecter - Jack insisted on this even though his looks told Will he secretly believed he tried to kill Lecter and do the world a favour. Either way, they’d both gone over, dropped like stones into the roiling Atlantic.

And now Will was stuck in this weird limbo life of recovery without really anything to go to. No Walter and Molly, she’d sent a letter- a much nicer letter than he deserved. He tried to feel the loss of them but couldn’t - which he felt terrible about on their behalf. They had the dogs. The dogs he would miss. He hoped he could arrange to at least get Winston back once he was released. He had a connection with that dog above the rest. He had found him the same time he had met Hannibal.

Margot and Alana had gone. Used their vast wealth to say fuck it all and leave it all behind, and who could blame them. Jack seemed to alternate his time between visiting Will and visiting his local bar. He’d been suspended over Lecter’s escape and the internal investigation was still dragging on. Will hated hearing about it, but didn’t have the heart to tell such a broken man to fuck off.

Mostly it was just Will and the staff at the centre, and they were a mixed bunch. The only one he really had time for was a young man named Wes who was so flamboyantly camp that he annoyed the living fuck out of everyone. Except Will - he liked that Wes knew this about himself and was of the Fuck ‘em all attitude. It was refreshing. He was also very openly gay and liked to flirt with Will in a way that indicated he thought Will was straight but up for a bit of banter. Will wasn’t really sure about a lot these days, but whether he was straight seemed not only at the bottom of his list of concerns, but also irrelevant. It wasn’t something he had dwelt on in the past and he wasn’t going to dwell on it now. He wasn’t going to question, and there was no point in exploring, the fact that he had fallen in love with another man. Hannibal was gone so what did it matter?

A knock at the door drew Will from his exercises - his ‘physio homework’

“Mr Graham? I’m Agent Starling. May I come in?” A comforting Southern drawl made him instantly like the petite but steely looking young woman at his door.

“Of course. Is this about Jack?” He had already been debriefed on his involvement in the plan to use Lecter to trap Dolarhyde, but with the no end to the investigation in sight, he wasn’t surprised they would want more from him.

“Jack? Jack Crawford? Oh, no sir. I’m not dealing with his investigation - he used to be one of my instructors so it would be a conflict. I am here about Doctor Lecter.”

“Oh. I see… well, I’ve told your colleagues everything I can remember, and my memory is only going to get worse with time so I don’t know what help I might be…” He found his own long buried Southern twang sounding through a little.

“Ah, no Sir, you misunderstand me. My fault - I should have explained better.” She stepped closer and he picked up on her nervous energy; she was very new, fresh from the Academy he expected. Maybe he’d even taught her in class though she didn’t seem immediately familiar. “There’s been a sighting.”

“What do you mean? A sighting of Hannibal? Of Hannibal Lecter?” He quickly added the last to seem less familiar.

“Yessir. He was sighted in Argentina. We’re pretty sure it’s a positive ID - we have security footage and a team from the local authorities went in and printed the area. A partial was found that appears to be a match.”

“I don’t know… I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information…” Will wasn’t really directing that at Starling, the words just spilled out. He had no idea how to process this. What did he do now? Where did he go? What did this mean? How could he find Hannibal, or did he wait for Hannibal to find him? Hannibal would look for him… surely?

Starling obvious picked up on the confused and painful emotions that crossed Will’s face.

“Please don’t fret sir, don’t upset yourself. I have a couple of agents with me outside the door who will be taking it in turns to watch over you here. We’re making arrangements now to move you somewhere safe, somewhere more secure. WitPro will be here in the morning to start going over the process with you-”

“Witness Protection?” Will interupted, confused for a moment before realising their version of events had him as another Lecter victim, one lucky to still be alive. There was nothing he could do to stop this from happening without telling them the truth and that was not an option.

His stomach dropped and his blood turned to ice in his veins. How will Hannibal ever find me?