It's Beverly who first notices it, perceptive, clever Beverly with her sharp, dark eyes. Hannibal was with Will going over some details of the copycat killer case when Will was called in to survey a particularly gruesome scene involving embroidery floss and stainless steel nails. No one's really certain why Hannibal tagged along, but Jack isn't saying anything, so neither are they.
She's not exactly sure what gives it away. Maybe it's the way Hannibal lingers at Will's side in a way that places his body directly between Will and anyone else who might need to speak to him as Will looks over the remains of what was once a very pretty blonde. Perhaps it's the way Will's eyes make more of an effort to approach Hannibal's than they ever make with anyone else. It might even be the way that they invade eachother's personal space without a thought, hardly speaking but seeming to communicate, nonetheless.
Whatever it is, Beverly's lips carry an enigmatic tweak that have Zeller and Price glancing at her nervously as she calmly deposits a severed finger into an evidence bag.
Freddie Lounds has her next blog post half-composed three seconds after she witnesses Hannibal offer a hand to help Will to his feet at a scene where the grass has been lovingly painted with blood, lines curving and swirling like patterns on a butterfly.
And Will takes it. And then maybe holds on to it for a moment or two longer than strictly necessary as Hannibal speaks to him in hushed tones that don't really carry all the way out to where she's standing behind the yellow tape.
But Freddie definitely doesn't need to be any closer to realize that something is going on, and that something, if spun correctly, could get a maximum amount of hits while getting a minimum amount of flack from Jack Crawford for it. Really it's all just a matter of wording and letting the audience draw its own conclusions... After all, I can't really be held responsible for how people read into my completely innocuous words--
Her thoughts are interrupted by the piercing gaze of Hannibal Lecter drilling into her own even from 20 yards, and Freddie gets the unnerving impression that somehow he's reading every thought crossing through her mind. His expression is inscrutable, and she can't help but recall their last meeting. "You've been terribly rude, Ms. Lounds..."
She stares at the completed write-up that night, heaving a frustrated sigh before dropping it into the bowels of her hard drive.
Hannibal has always struck Bedelia as lonely. Not in an overwhelming sort of way, but as a sort of quiet shadow that hangs over him. He's a peculiarly unique man, and she can understand where he might run into trouble in that aspect of his life. Still, when she does initially wonder about Hannibal, she can't help but wonder how a man as cultured and economically stable as he is could lack for companionship. Although perhaps those factors themselves might be one of the sources of his reservations...?
Her curiosity is piqued, however, when Hannibal begins to mention male acquaintances and patients with increasing regularity. Franklyn, the perturbingly obsessed client, Franklyn's friend, Tobias, who in turn seems to be rather keen on being Hannibal's friend...
She of all people understands quite well that being a wealthy middle-aged bachelor with a penchant for dressing well and a love of food, wine, and music is likely just an indicator of refined European tastes and have absolutely no correlation with sexuality, but sometimes she just wonders if “friend” might not be code for something else entirely...
"I met a man," Hannibal tells her one afternoon, quite matter-of-factly, and her expression betrays only the mildest hints of professional interest. She's really quite proud of that one.
"Well that settles that," she thinks to herself, as Hannibal proceeds to occupy their next several visits with talk of Will Graham.
But really it’s just been such a pleasure to see Hannibal again after so long, Sutcliffe hardly minds that he’s being called in as a personal favor. After all, not the first time he and Hannibal have done personal favors for eachother, all the way since their second week of medical school together. Certainly makes one wonder how personal he might be getting with this blue-eyed hot mess...
And of course, good old Hannibal, so certain of his diagnosis even before the test results are revealed. Sutcliffe might have been impressed with his little super-sniffing hat trick back during their residency when it was a great ice breaker with the nurses, but for Hannibal to smell something like a brain infection seemed to be pushing it juuuuuuuuuuuuuust a little bit.
He can’t help but ask exactly what anti NMDAR Encephalitis is supposed to smell like, expecting some full-of-shit pretentious answer like tiger lilies with a base note of sandalwood.
“It smells of heat, a fevered sweetness,” says Hannibal, and his expression makes Sutcliffe think that this is a scent Hannibal has mulled over countless times and rolled around his mouth like wine.
He knows better than to say a word, though. Last time Sutcliffe teased Hannibal on a paramour, he found a disembodied hand beneath his pillow the following night. He has zero interest in having the rest of the body turn up.
Jack is really just beginning to grow exasperated with this whole Will-and-Dr. Lecter situation. He's actually grown to expect it at this point, walking into Will's classroom to find Lecter already there, or ringing up Lecter's office asking after Will and not being shocked in the least when Will happens to be visiting after all. Where one goes, there's the other, and it almost always guarantees that he'll have an extra pair of feet on his crime scene.
Still, he’s noticed lately that having Lecter there often seems to ground him after he slips out of a violent criminal's mind. The shakes lessen more quickly, his breath comes more evenly, a brief touch from Hannibal on his arm and his entire demeanor relaxes.
“I don’t know, am I being too hard on them? If Hannibal keeps Will from fraying at the seams, it can’t hurt to have him around, right?” he asks Bella one night, and she just shakes her head with that small, knowing smile he is still in love with after all these years.
“Well, I hardly think you could separate them at this point, even if you wanted to,” she remarks lightly, and Jack frowns as he turns her words over in his mind.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s with that face?”
“Oh honey.” She can’t keep the laughter out of her voice, and now Jack knows he’s definitely missed something. “Jack, you work in the behavioral unit of the FBI and you can’t fathom why Will and Hannibal are always together? Have you listened to a word you’ve said?”
She raises both her eyebrows at him and Jack feels his mind clumsily scrambling to retrace his steps and make the pieces click and---
The litany of vitriolic obscenities he lets loose leave his wife unfazed, and she leans to press a fond kiss on her husband’s brow before reaching to the lamp and leaving him to fume at his obliviousness in the dark.
It’s been a longer, tougher case than usual, and Will’s gone days without proper sleep (and possibly food-- at this point he can’t really remember). He’s holed up in a corner of the forensics lab poring over evidence, the rest of the place deserted save for Price, who is off doing god knows what, and Beverly who's run off to god knows where. Will doesn’t particularly care, as it simply allows him to slip more easily into his grotesquely useful absorption.
He has just run his head into the wall for what feels like the eighteenth-thousandth time when Beverly abruptly appears, a small tupperware in her hands that Will immediately recognizes. He doesn’t smother the soft smile on his face nearly soon enough.
“So your boyfriend dropped this off just now, said to make sure you didn’t just set it aside and forget about it,” she comments as she drops the container into Will’s hands, noting his alarmed expression with a small drop of satisfaction, before turning and walking off. “Just make sure you eat it all, I can already see Jack’s face if Dr. Lecter starts showing up here to force-feed you himself.”
A dishwasher couldn’t have done a better job of cleaning that plate.