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The Borderland State

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The Borderland State: A term used to describe Hypnagogia, the state between wakefulness and sleep, when visual and auditory hallucinations can occur.


This isn't Wolf Trap. There are no mist-shrouded fields outside his house. He no longer walks in the dead of night, taking comfort in the sight of his little house floating on a sea of fog. Wolf Trap rests somewhere behind him, a faded point along the narrow path of his history. He barely remembers it.

This is delta country, sandy shores and marshy ground where the Savannah empties into the sea. In the winter the wind is biting and cold, and in the summer it rains endlessly. Mist still rises off the river, but it feels different here, oppressive in a way that reminds him of endless childhood. If he walks at all, it is down to the wooden dock stretching out over the river, tiny row boat tied to its end. He takes the boat out sometimes, feels his muscles strain against the drag of the water's weight. Other times he'll sit and listen, the night alive with sound like it wasn't in Virginia.

Mostly he stays indoors.

He doesn't own a television, or a radio for that matter. Sometimes, when he goes into town to pick up supplies he'll grab a newspaper, browse its headlines. More often than not the paper ends in the fireplace, unread. It's easier to shut himself away and not think about the things people are capable of: easier because it means not having to confront the things he's capable of.

Besides, that life is about as far away as Wolf Trap. It no longer defines him.

He's not sure if this life defines him either--most days he can barely convince himself this isn't some elaborate dream. But here when he feels the flush of sweat upon his skin it is weather driven and not born of nightmares. Here when he breathes humid August air it doesn't stick in his throat and threaten to suffocate him. Here there are no elaborate puzzles; no trails of body parts leading to the one place he would have rather they hadn't led.

Here his dreams are fleeting and scarce, his mind blissfully silent for the first time in what feels like an eternity.

There's a breeze coming in off the water. It carries with it the scent of brine, something he still associates with his childhood. It's no longer enough to displace him, but he feels a momentary tug for something he can't bring himself to name. Instead he watches his curtains flutter in the window. They billow out across the table, knocking aside some of his fishing tackle, then fall back against the screen, perfectly still.

There's a storm brewing.

He can feel it in the air, the heavy press of tension that comes before a downpour. Slowly, Will eases himself from his chair, his leg stiffening beneath him. He rubs absently at the mess of scar-tissue that cuts across his thigh, muscles screaming their protest. It is a long while before the pain recedes; longer still before he can put his weight down on the leg.

The sky has already opened, drizzle coming in through the screen to dampen his table. He half-walks, half-hobbles to the window and pulls it shut. Outside, against an ever darkening horizon, twin spots of light navigate the long, meandering path of his laneway. Will watches the vehicle's approach, stomach twisting into knots.

Hearing the approaching engine, the dogs begin to gather at his feet, ears stiff with interest. Will settles them with a raised hand, then crosses to the door where his shotgun sits, propped against its frame. He tucks it into the crook of his elbow and then heads outside.

He doesn't move beyond the porch, the rain coming down in sheets now. The wind's picked up again, sending it sideways so that even protected he's getting wet. Not as wet as Jack, who's busy climbing out the passenger side of the SUV, unprotected from the downpour.

"The answer's no," he calls over the din of the rain. Jack doesn't answer. He jogs the short distance from the car--still running, headlights highlighting the falling rain--to the porch. It's too dark to see who's driving.

"Inside," Jack says when he reaches Will's side, though it's more of a barked command. Will's tempted to refuse him, but the rain is still falling and he's standing on his porch in his underwear.

Will brings them inside.

He makes sure to slam the door shut behind them, anger a low coil of heat in his gut. The anger is easier to manage than the fear, so Will clings to it, feeding it his irritation until he's clenching his jaw and balling his hands into tight fists. His words, when he speaks, come out like venom.

"I said no, Jack. And this is the third time you've come out to ask. I'm not going to change my mind."

Jack takes a minute to shake off excess water. He's soaked through with it, the ends of his coat dripping onto the floor. Will hazards a brief glance to his features; takes in the dark circles beneath his eyes before focusing his gaze somewhere in the vicinity of Jack's chest.

"I need you to sit down," Jack says as he strips off the coat. He hangs it over the back of one of Will's chairs. It continues to drip. Indignation flares hot in Will's chest. He's still holding the shot gun. He sets it down by the door.

"We've been over this. I can't do it anymore, Jack. Not this case, not the next case, not the case after that. Or were the six months I spent in Spring Grove not enough for you?"

It's the first time either of them have mentioned Will's stint in the psychiatric hospital. Jack visibly flinches. Will runs a shaking hand through his hair, his breath coming in laboured pants. It's been a long time since he had a panic attack. Jack's last visit, if he's not mistaken.

When he speaks again it's through gritted teeth.

"I can't do it, Jack. Find someone else."

He collapses rather than sits in the old recliner by the fireplace, its fabric worn almost bare. One of his dogs sticks his head in Will's lap. Will sets his hand atop Wilson's head and strokes the soft fur of his ears. The fuzzy edges of his vision begin to clear.

Jack, who hasn't said anything else, drags one of the kitchen chairs into the living room. He sets it before Will's chair, straddling it so that they sit face to face. Embarrassment seeps into Will's cheeks, staining them red. He ducks his head.

"Sorry, I..."

"It's fine," Jack says. Will nods. "I'm not here about a case."

There's something in the way that Jack says it that makes Will glance up. He looks this time, really looks, seeing past the usual dark circles and exhausted lines that come with a case. This is worse, far worse. The last time Will saw Jack looking like this his wife was dying.

He looks terrified.

"What happened?" Will asks in spite of himself. He's terrified of the answer. After his extended hospital stay, he pocketed his pension and left without a backwards glance. He has no idea what became of those--his colleagues, his associates, his friends--he left behind.

Jack, when he answers, speaks slowly, his words clear and precise. It doesn't make it any easier for Will to understand. He feels like he's hearing it from the end of a very long tunnel, the words tinny and distant, hollow in a way that lacks true meaning.

"Sorry, what?" Will says when Jack has finished speaking. His words are still ringing in Will's ears, Will scrambling to grasp their meaning.

Jack clears his throat and repeats them.

"Yesterday morning, at 8:15 Eastern Standard Time, there was a power failure at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Several systems were compromised, including the lockdown system. Several inmates escaped from their cells and staged a riot. During the riot, Hannibal Lecter disappeared from his cell. We don't know where he is."


She's long since muted the television, but Hannibal's image is still splayed across the screen. Bedelia glances at it occasionally, feels the cold press of paralytic fear creeping up her spine every time she does. She finishes what's left of her wine in a long swallow; refills the glass.

They called her immediately of course; offered to have someone stay with her until Hannibal was caught. They won't catch him, not a second time. The only reason they caught him the first time was because he couldn't bring himself to kill Will Graham. She didn't tell them that. Instead she accepted the car parked out front--not that two officers could stop Hannibal if he was determined to come. She knows why he might. The officers outside--and the FBI for that matter--don't. She hasn't told them everything. She still believes in doctor-patient confidentiality.

The second glass of wine goes down smoother, the alcohol settling nicely in her stomach, infusing her blood with artificial warmth. Between the wine and the Valium she thinks she might be able to sleep. The television, still flipping through images of Hannibal's crimes, says otherwise. Bedelia sets her empty glass down on the counter. She leaves the television on.

She's halfway up the stairs before she thinks better of it. She knows the danger of obsession; knows she could spend her entire life constantly looking over her shoulder, waiting for something that might not come. She knows, too, that that isn't a life. Hannibal will come or he won't, and if he does he'll either kill her or he won't. It is out of her hands now, and for as much as she wants to live--as much as she wants this whole mess behind her--she knows better than to think she has any control here.

She pads back down the stairs on silent, slipper-clad feet. When she reaches the television she finds Graham's image displayed across the screen. Bedelia reaches for the remote.

The kitchen falls into darkness.

There's no relief in having made the decision, however decisive. She's still tense, mind on edge as she turns to leave the room. She doesn't make it very far, a single step before a shadowed figure fills the kitchen door. Hannibal is back-lit by the light in the hall, so she can't make out his features, but it is undeniably him.

She wishes she was surprised.

She wishes, too, she'd had more wine. Two glasses were clearly not enough.

"Hello, Hannibal," she says, outwardly calm, though her heart is lodged in her throat and her pulse is racing. Hannibal, she suspects, sees past her veneer. He was always very good at that. She, apparently, is not.

"Bedelia," he says, casual, like there isn't a squad car parked outside, like he's not the subject of an intense manhunt. Bedelia wonders if the officers out front are even still alive. She can't picture him sneaking in through the back.

He takes another step into the kitchen, Bedelia starting to feel a little penned in. She positions herself so that there is an island between them, the knife drawer within reach. Hannibal appears unconcerned with her posturing. If anything, he seems a little amused.

She can see him now, faintly in the dim light. If the reports are right, it's been a little over thirty-six hours and yet somehow in that time he's managed to find a three-piece suit. He's lost weight, enough so that it no longer fits him as well as it once did, the pants hanging from his hips, the jacket loose in the shoulders. His hair is slicked back, longer than he normally wears it, and he's freshly shaven. The only outward signs of his incarceration are the prominence of his cheekbones and the sallow tint of his skin.

"Are you here to kill me?" she asks. She doesn't think there's much point in formalities, not now.

A look of distaste crosses Hannibal's features. He schools them just as fast.

He steps further into her kitchen, running a hand along her counter. He glances briefly to the television set. She tells herself she's imagining the clenching of his jaw. He does a full circuit before finally coming to stand on the other side of the island. He leans across it, perfectly at home. She forgot how imposing a man he was. How much he looms.

"If I wanted to kill you, do you really think I'd choose the kitchen?" He tilts his head as he says it, studying her, as though she's an insect; he a spider and this his web. She has to remind herself that he, above all things, respects her. Enough to show her the cracks in his facade. She sees them even now.

"Then what do you want, Hannibal?" she asks. She shivers as she says it, remembering then the feel of a patient's hands around her neck. She doesn't want to fear Hannibal, but she does. She supposes that is the point.

Hannibal scans her face. "I think you know," he eventually says.

"I don't know where Will Graham is. I'm sorry," she says.

The change in his expression is minute, fleeting, but she catches it all the same. She knows immediately he has changed his mind, that he will kill her now that he no longer has a use for her. She doesn't back down, instead straightening her shoulders, stepping forward so that she is flush against the counter. Hannibal shakes his head.

"That is... unfortunate," he says, and then, to her complete and utter surprise, turns on his heel and leaves the room.

She spends a long minute rooted where she is, staring at the doorway and the hall beyond, waiting for him to come back. When he doesn't, her knees buckle, the only thing keeping her from crumpling to the floor the counter. Another minute passes before she is capable of crossing to the phone. She dials Jack Crawford's number; gets his voice mail.

"He was here," is all she says, and then hangs up. Pours herself another glass of wine.