Bedelia had been right, Will was definitely Bluebeard’s wife, and as such, he should have been more cautious around locks. Yet, the small box he found in Hannibal’s desk bothered him. Why did Hannibal Lecter have a lock box? After nearly a year of blood, death and beauty, what could Hannibal possibly have to hide from him? He put the box back under the papers in Hannibal’s bottom drawer, he would not be Pandora in this little drama, he’d been the star of enough tragedies in his life.
Will’s resolve lasted a day.
When Hannibal was safely ensconced in his garden, fussing at the dogs and examining his tomatoes, Will made his move. With a screwdriver and some liquid courage, Will approached the box.
“Please don’t be naked pictures of Bedelia, please don’t be naked pictures of Bedelia,” Will begged whatever higher power was listening as he forced the lock.
“Will? Where are y- PUT THAT DOWN!” Hannibal was in the doorway, eyes wide. If Will didn’t know any better, he’d describe Hannibal’s face as panicked. The doctor seemed frozen in place. Will took his chance and looked down.
The box held a stack of papers, drawings and words. Will scrunched his nose and met Hannibal’s horrified face.
“Is this? Did you draw a comic book?” Will glanced down again, yup, that was definitely him in a dress on the cover. “A comic book about me?”
“Pretty Guardian Sailor Ravenstag is a manga,” came the soft reply. Hannibal seemed to be leaning against the door to keep from collapsing.
Will examined the cover. Yup, that was definitely him, in a pretty little frock with a sparkly brooch and blood spatter. Did he have antlers? Oh Jesus.
“Volume one? Christ, how many volumes are there?” Hannibal sulked by the door. Will pulled the papers out of the box and raised an eyebrow. “Well?”
“I had storyboards for seven more installments.”
“You’re never boring, I’ll give you that,” Will murmured, sitting in Hannibal’s chair and propping his feet on the desk. Hannibal Lecter was turning red, Will didn’t even know he could do that. This thing must be better than he thought. He turned to page one. “Let’s see how I messed up my pretty dress, shall we?”
“Hannibal, please, I’m reading.”
Will Graham was out in the yard fixing a boat motor, as was his habit. He was a beautiful and sensitive boy, and there was much cruelty in the world, so he usually kept to himself. Engines and dogs were his preferred company.
It was a Sunday afternoon like any other, his dog Winston faithfully keeping watch at his side, when he heard something rustling in the bushes. Winston growled.
“Look! You drew me a little flannel!” Will crowed. “Also, Winston was a mutt not a…what the hell is this?”
“It’s a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.”
“I should have known it would have eight names if you drew it.”
“Shh, Winston!” Will said, hiding behind the engine.
At first, there was nothing. Will thought he may have imagined the sound. But it came again, along with the unmistakable fall of hooves on the grass. A stag came into view, barely visible through the trees. Rather, it appeared to be a stag, but it was black, and covered in… feathers?
It was staring directly at him.
Curious, Will shifted with the intention to creep forward, to get a closer look. So focused was he on the stag that he didn’t notice his toolbox until he tumbled over it. Winston barked. When he looked up, the stag was gone.
Will smiled and looked up. Hannibal had moved closer, sitting on the edge of the desk.
“Is this what you did with the notes from my sessions?” Will pointed to the feathered stag on the page. “No wonder I’m batshit. You owe the FBI a refund.”
“The Ravenstag was a powerful image in your mind, and one that I believe-”
“Hannibal? Less explaining, more whiskey.”
Hannibal huffed, but headed for their bar cart.
Strange as it was, the incident was soon forgotten.
Days later, on his way home from school, Will came upon a stray puppy. It was a pitiful thing, and Will crouched beside it, holding out a cracker. Whenever Will came upon a wounded or stray animal, he had to try and help. He was at heart as kind as he was beautiful.
The puppy inched forward, whining and sniffing.
“Come on, nothing to worry about,” he said gently. “That’s it…”
The puppy stopped in its tracks, twitching. A low growl turned into a horrifying screech as the puppy seemed to bubble and expand, growing into a giant beast.
“What the heck?!” Will fell back, terrified.
“When the heck do I say ‘heck’, Hannibal?” Will giggled. “Heck.”
The beast lunged for him and Will rolled out of the way, his backpack flying into the bushes. It came at him again. Will ran.
In his fear, he didn’t pay attention to where he was going. Before long, he found himself in the dead end of an alleyway, the beast bearing down on him fast. Tears ran down his face as he closed his eyes to accept his fate.
“Open your eyes!” A voice came booming from above.
Will looked up, but saw nothing.
“It’s time to fight back, Will!”
“What? Who are you?!”
“It’s not important, here!”
Something hit Will’s chest, and he caught it in his hands on the rebound. It looked like a brooch or a compact of some kind, with a skull design inlaid with gold and jewels. “What the…?”
“Say ‘Ravenstag Sanguine Power, Make up!’”
“That’s just stupi–”
“Oh my god, just DO IT!”
“Hmmmm, whoever could this longsuffering Ravenstag be?” Will tapped his finger on his lips, scrunching his eyebrows. “If only there were contextual clues. If only silly Will would just shut up and listen to him…”
Hannibal rolled his eyes.
“FINE!” Will held out the brooch and yelled, “Ravenstag Sanguine Power, Make up!”
Brilliant lights flashed all around him, enveloping him in warmth. Ribbons of red and purple and black surrounded his limbs and torso, spinning and forming into a sailor outfit. The brooch was at the centre of his chest with a bow made of antlers. Antlers grew from his head as well. As the transformation settled, Will seemed to sparkle with an inner light, enhancing his already stunning yet delicate features.
“What now?” Hannibal sounded tired.
“You have such a fucking crush on me.” Will smiled, rocking smugly as Hannibal huffed.
“I would have thought that was apparent considering all the sex we have.” Hannibal picked invisible lint off his sleeves, cheeks still pink.
“Are you disappointed that I don’t sparkle when I come?” Will’s face was the picture of innocence.
“Please give me the rest of the pages.” Hannibal made a grab for the pages. Will defended, kicking out a foot to impede the doctor.
“I’m not judging, just saying if you need me to make a quick glitter run to the craft store, let me know.” Will waggled his eyebrows.
“Shhhh! I’m reading.”
“What the heck?!”
“Fight the beast, Sailor Ravenstag!” Finally the source of the voice revealed itself - the stag Will had seen days before. It was indeed covered in raven-black feathers, standing proudly beside him. “It’s your destiny!”
Will was in no position to argue. He turned his attention back to the puppy monster, pointing at it. “Stop right there, monster! You lured me with your cuteness, and that’s just rude! Rudeness requires transformation. In the name of the ravenstag, I’ll change you!”
The beast paused and blinked, confused. Shaking its head, it roared and lunged again.
“So like, when do the tentacles come out?” Will raised an innocent eyebrow.
“Will, that is an entirely different genre,” Hannibal sniffed.
“Oh, forgive me for ascribing you a kink side,” Will said apologetically. He returned his gaze to the page, turning it slightly as he scrutinized it. “Remind me again why the skirt on my sailor outfit is so short?”
“Crap! What now?!” Will glanced at the ravenstag, his dark curls wisping about his face.
“Take off your tiara! It will turn into a weapon to help you!”
Will did as he was told. Sure enough, the tiara glowed and shifted into a glittering blade. This time, he knew the words.
“GLINT OF MERCY!” he shouted, running toward the beast to plunge the blade deep in its chest.
Great gouts of blood flowed over Will’s hands and arms, splashing him in the face. It was so warm. It also did nothing to diminish his loveliness. In fact, the contrast of red against his pale and smooth skin served to enhance the exquisiteness of his features.
“OK,” Will looked over the papers and sighed. “I’ve told you like 300 times, blood as lube is NOT HAPPENING.”
“If you would let me mix it with-”
Will held up a finger. “NOPE. Let me get back to glitter princess and the short skirt of destiny.”
“That is not the name of the-”
“One more word and I’m faxing this to Jack and Freddie.”
Hannibal grabbed the glass of whiskey off the desk and took a gulp.
As the beast crumpled to the ground, Will cradled it in his arms, a bloom in his cheeks. Its breathing slowed, blood rattled in its lungs. Then, finally, it stopped.
Another bright light surrounded them, concentrated on the beast. When the light disappeared, all that was left was a tiny puppy once more, alive. It was asleep, no doubt exhausted from its ordeal.
“Well that was pretty weird.” Will looked up to address the ravenstag, but it was nowhere to be seen.
With a shrug, he stood and took the puppy home. Having received no answers for what had transpired, he thought perhaps it had all been a vivid hallucination. Whatever it was, he decided not to concern himself.
After all, there were more important things to worry about, such as a new puppy.
Will stayed quiet for a long moment. When he met Hannibal’s gaze, his face was serious, but his eyes were sparkling.
“So,” Will said, sitting the pages on the desk, careful to put them well out of Hannibal’s reach. “Does this mean I’m getting a new puppy?”
“Will you forget about this if I get you another mutt?” Hannibal eyed the stack of papers. Will grabbed them again, cradling them to his chest.
“No, but I’ll shut up about it for an hour or so.” Will cocked his head. “Who knew that the great Hannibal Lecter could have joined the Manga club with the kids in Walt’s class. Do you secretly dye your hair purple and spike it when I go to town?”
“There is great narrative significance to the magical girl tropes in Manga,” Hannibal pouted.
“I fail to see the narrative significance of my skirt being blown up in the last panel.”
Hannibal glared, Will felt his lips curl.
“So do you remember that time you told me John Wayne was a ridiculous symbol of masculinity?”
“I’d like you to tell me what this is a symbol of…besides the need for Johns Hopkins to up it’s writing requirements.”
“I don’t believe I asked for a copy editor.”
“That much is clear.”
Hannibal frowned at the paté, it wasn’t setting to his liking. He scraped the plate clean and put the mixture in a piping bag. Will watched as the doctor bit his tongue, carefully decorating plates with grey goo.
“What are we having for dinner?” He pressed a kiss onto Hannibal’s shoulder as he moved to the fridge.
“I’ve prepared a delicate offal paté with roasted loin of-”
“Ravenstag Sanguine Power, Make up!”
Hannibal sighed, putting the pastry bag down and fixing Will with a murderous glare.
“Will you can’t just say that whenever you don’t like something.”
“Why?” Will blinked, eyes wide and innocent.
“It doesn’t make sense.” Hannibal was getting that little line between his eyebrows. Will liked to think of it as the Graham Divide.
“It is a sacred incantation.” Hannibal explained with an exasperated swipe of his hand. Will laughed and wrapped his arms around Hannibal, who stiffened, but allowed the snuggle.
“I fucking love you sometimes, Sailor Cannibal,” Will whispered in his ear.
"I’m the Ravenstag.”
“You’re the fucking nerd.” Will kissed Hannibal’s neck, then let his smile press into the soft flesh. “I have to wonder, when did we make the leap from drawing my naked ass in those ‘studies’ you used to do to drawing me in a cute little onesie?“
"It is simply the style of art, why are you so fixated on the outfit?”
“Because I fucking know you,” Will said, pushing back to catch Hannibal’s eye. He cocked an eyebrow. “And I’m wondering when I’ll be presented with an exact replica.”
“I have no such replica.” Hannibal’s eyes dropped.
“So it’s on backorder?”
“…it will be here in 4 to 6 weeks.” Hannibal returned to his piping, leaving Will to smirk at his back.