"No, please, no no no," The girl begs, blue eyes wide with fear as Will stalks toward her, knife in hand. She's backed up against a tree, body frozen still with terror, and Will can feel his mouth curling up into a wicked smile already. He's a predator - a wolf, circling a small deer before attacking - and she's his prey, trembling and scared in front of him. She’s pretty – petite with long, flowing blonde hair – and Will thinks that it will look good soaked in blood.
He moves quick at that, pinning her up against the tree, using his free hand to press roughly into her neck, even lifting up a little bit. She's small, easy to lift. Easy to kill. "Beg all you want," He hisses into her ear, mouth watering with anticipation. "Nobody can hear you out here."
She would scream, cry or call for someone, but his hand is cutting off her airway and all she manages is a small whimper, tears falling freely from her eyes now.
"You're mine," Will whispers, then plunges the knife deep into her stomach.
Blood drips out of the corner of his mouth and down his chin. He feels and odd sense of calm, even as he looks down at the lifeless body beneath him. She was beautiful once, with long flowing blonde hair and flawless, carefree smile. Even though Will never saw it, he can imagine it when he closes his eyes and leans in, ripping another chunk of her flesh out with his teeth.
The blood feels good, warm and comforting as he tears into her body.
Suddenly, the tree line becomes fuzzy around him. The girl's body disappears beneath him, and before he knows it, Will is standing at the head of a long table in the middle of a lavish dining room. The blood is cleared from his face and hands and in its place, he's wearing a black, neatly tailored suit.
He looks out over his dinner guests - all of his colleagues, along with Abigail and Hannibal and the blonde girl from the woods, hair wet and matted with blood - and smiles that same wicked smile.
"Bon appétit," Will hears himself say, and then he's looking down at his beautifully plated dinner. In the middle of the dish is a still beating heart, and some part of him just knows that it's the girl's.
He wastes no time in picking the heart up and sinking his teeth into it, disregarding the faint gasps and screams he can hear in the background. The blood paints his hands and face again, and Will wants to laugh with the joy it makes him feel. It isn't until the heart is fully consumed that he looks back up at his dinner guests. The room is dark now, the table almost completely empty save for Hannibal, sitting at the far end, watching Will with his quiet, all-knowing eyes.
And suddenly, he's by Hannibal's side, knife in hand.
He leans down to press a kiss to his lips before pulling the weapon, hard and deep across Hannibal's throat. He wants to drink his blood.
When Will awakes, it's with a loud gasp and a pounding heart. The room is pitch black, and he glances around, panicked when he can't see anything.
"Hannibal," He gasps, struggling to take in steady, deep breaths. He reaches out for something, anything to anchor him to the world of the living.
It was just a dream. It was only a dream. It had to be.
And then suddenly, there's a hand gripping his own in the darkness. It's warm and sturdy and comforting and most importantly, real.
It only takes a couple of seconds before the lamp on the bedside table is flicking on, and Will is blinking quickly, willing for his eyes to adjust-
It was just a dream...
"Will," Hannibal's voice is soft and comforting, and it reaches out to him, pulling him back in.
He's okay. You're okay.
Will sucks in a shuddering breath before collapsing into Hannibal's waiting arms, face pressed into his chest. He inhales, and his body visibly relaxes at Hannibal's warm, familiar smell. One hand holds him close to Hannibal's chest, the other moves soothingly over his back, calming him down.
It isn't until Will is breathing normally, body done shaking, that Hannibal speaks again. His voice is soft and careful. He's dealt with this before. He's Will's anchor. "It was just a dream," He soothes, the hand on his back traveling to pet softly at Will's hair, "You're alright."
Will nods softly against Hannibal's chest, "I know."
He pulls away at that, frowning at the two wet patches he managed to leave on Hannibal's grey t-shirt. He'll say that he doesn't mind, but Will doesn't care. He feels like a big baby, crying to Hannibal whenever he has a night terror.
Hannibal just smiles a sad smile, reaching forward to pull a strand of Will's sweaty hair away from his face. And Will can't help but be embarrassed. It's one thing to do this at his own house, but he hates when it happens at Hannibal's, even if he is happy to comfort him. He feels dirty.
"Were you Garret Jacob Hobbs again?" Hannibal asks, his tone soft and soothing. It's the same way Will would talk to a skittish dog, though he supposes that's kind of what he would compare himself to right now...
He shakes his head, "No, not this time."
"Another killer then?" Hannibal asks, cocking his head to the side. He's used to Will dreaming that he is the killers that he profiles, and knows exactly how to deal with it. And though Will honestly doesn't feel like having a therapy session in bed or at - he looks at the clock - 2:16 in the morning, but he knows that Hannibal just wants to help.
"No," He replies, looking down, "I was... uh, I was just myself this time."
If Hannibal is surprised or worried by Will's answer, he doesn't show it. Instead, he just looks at him expectantly, waiting for him to go on. And though he doesn't want to, Will can't deny him.
"I was uh - I was eating this girl. This pretty blonde girl," Will explains, and he avoids Hannibal's eyes in shame as he does so. He must think that he's a monster, having dreams like this. "Raw," He continues, "And I liked it."
He wants that to be the end of it - doesn't want to tell Hannibal any gory details or about the end of his dream - but when their eyes meet, Hannibal reads him like an open book.
"What else happened?" He asks softly.
Will sighs. He can feel his hands trembling underneath the blanket. He runs one of them shakily through his hair before answering. "I uh... I killed you. I slit your throat."
Once again, if that information worries Hannibal, he doesn't show it. Instead, he reaches forward and takes Will's shaking hand in his own, squeezing it softly, holding him still. "It was just a dream, Will," He assures, "I'm right here."
"I know," Will replies quickly. I'm not stupid. "It just felt so... real."
He doesn't say good, for fear of what Hannibal might think.
At that, Hannibal leans in, cupping Will's jaw with gentle fingers. And though Will doesn't want to make eye contact, he can't help but look up at him in return. "Will," He says softly, "I'll be here when you fall asleep, and I'll be here when you wake up. You won't hurt me."
Will swallows the lump in his throat and nods, silently wondering how he got lucky enough to end up with someone who puts up with his crazy shit as much as Hannibal does. "Thank you," He whispers in return.
Hannibal leans in at that, pressing a soft, sound kiss on Will's lips, as if to prove that he's real - that he's not going anywhere. "Now sleep," He murmurs once he pulls away, forehead pressed gently against Will's sweaty one.
While Jack Crawford and the rest of Will’s colleagues haven't been informed of the extent of Will and Hannibal's relationship, Will is certain that they have a few ideas. He won't confirm or deny anything, but he's well aware that just about everyone at the bureau knows that their relationship extends far past Doctor and Patient.
Regardless, Will is still a little bit surprised when Jack starts to distance him from a few cases.
At first, he doesn't really notice it. After all, Jack has always treated Will differently, skirting around sensitive issues, especially the copycat killer or anything to do with Garret Jacob Hobbs. He's always been aware that Will is slightly unstable and treated him accordingly, but even Will notices when Jack begins to exclude him from more meetings, about three months into his relationship with Hannibal, if he remembers correctly.
And at first, it's just the little things, like leaving Will out of a few meetings here or there, or making a point not to mention the copycat killer around him. At first, Will chooses to ignore it or brush it off as Jack being Jack, but then, he suddenly can't.
Will knows that eavesdropping probably isn't very professional, but he can't help but freeze just outside of Jack Crawford's office early on Monday morning. Normally, he wouldn't even be there that early, but between his horrible dreams the night before and the delicious smell of Hannibal's cooking in the morning, he didn't get much sleep, and had decided to get an early start. So he's certain that Jack probably doesn't expect him to be walking by when he mentions the copycat killer case to the silhouettes of two other agents - probably Zeller and Katz - sitting across from him in his office.
And Will, despite his better judgment, finds himself stopping dead in his tracks and pressing up against the wall outside of Jack's office, straining to overhear their conversation.
"So you think they're connected?" He hears Katz ask through the wall, and he's silently thankful that her voice projects more than the others.
"I didn't say that," Jack corrects. He sounds frustrated and cranky already, and Will winces slightly at the sound of his voice.
"You loudly implied it," Zeller presses, always willing to argue.
It's quiet for a beat, and Will begins to panic, prepares to gather his things, fearing he's been caught, until he hears Jack speak again. His voice is quiet, barely audible between the noise outside of his office and the fact that Will's listening through a wall, but he can still hear it. "I'm just suggesting that we look at all of the possibilities. The copycat is obviously smart. He knows what he's doing and how do manipulate us, and that's exactly what the Ripper has done in the past."
Will feels his body tense at the mention of the Chesapeake Ripper and the copycat in the same sentence - could they really be connected? - but forces himself to keep listening when he hears his own name brought up.
"Shouldn't we get Will's opinion on this?" Beverly asks, sounding skeptical. Will would smile - she's always the first, besides Alana, to defend him - but he's too busy worrying, waiting for Jack's response.
"No," He hears him say, so quiet that he almost misses it, "I don't want him getting that close to the copycat again. It's not good for him."
Oh, now you're looking out for my well being.
"I'm just saying, I'm sure he'd have some sort of insight on this," Beverly argues, "He is the one the pointed out that all of the copycat killings were related."
"And I'm just saying that we don't need him working on this one. Not this time," Jack bellows, obviously growing more frustrated. It's quiet for a beat before he mumbles out a few instructions to the two of them, too quiet for Will to hear, and he actually presses his ear to the wall, struggling to listen. He's sure that he probably looks ridiculous to anyone who's watching him, but what else is new?
Between not hearing what Jack says and the rustling of someone putting papers away behind him, though, Will is taken off guard when the door to Jack's office swings open and Beverly steps out. He jumps in surprise, trying to straighten himself out - trying to make it look like he wasn't just listening in on their conversation about him - but she spots him almost immediately and shoots him a sly smile as she walks out of the room. "Morning, Will," She says pointedly, loud enough for Jack to hear from inside the office.
Will nods a greeting in her direction, watching as her and Zeller disperse, obviously doing whatever Jack had instructed them to, and he prepares to head off to his classroom until he hears his own name.
"Graham," Jack calls from inside his office and he freezes again, closing his eyes.
"I know you're there," Jack pushes, voice agitated. And with a sigh, Will takes a few steps forward until he's standing in the doorway, looking at a very frustrated Jack Crawford.
Will has never really been good with words, or trying to weasel his way out of a shitty situation, so instead of trying to explain himself, he just waits for Jack to say something. And Jack, sensing it, sighs and sits back down behind his desk, motioning for Will to enter the room. "Come in."
Though it's probably the last thing he wants to do - Will feels self-conscious and maybe even a little bit angry after hearing the way that Jack was talking about him - he finds himself closing the door behind him and sitting across from Jack Crawford, where Beverly was just sitting. He surveys the room, looking for any clues about the case they were discussing - especially the fact that the Chesapeake Ripper and the copycat might be related - but the only notable thing that Will sees is a rather large file in the middle of Jack's desk. And Jack, watching his gaze, promptly grabs it and throws it in a drawer, out of Will's sight.
Once again, it's not the first time he's hidden something from Will, but it definitely gets his attention. What was in the file that Jack didn't want him to see? Part of Will almost wants to lunge across the table and grab it. How dare Jack take keep him away from one case that he's been working so hard to solve.
"I don't know how much you overheard," Jack starts after he leans down to lock the drawer, "And frankly, I don't want to."
Will narrows his eyes, "Okay..."
"I do, however, stand by my word," Jack says, voice firm, "I want you to stay out of this copycat case, Will. It's not good for you."
And though Will wants to hold his tongue, he bites out, "Is that it? Or are you just worried that I'm too close to it?"
Jack's eyes narrow in response, "Both. And that's exactly what I'm talking about."
Will opens his mouth to speak, but it's probably for the best that Jack cuts him off before he has a chance to say anything. "This is your chance to take a break from this, Will," He pushes, but Will can tell that not even Jack believes what he's saying, "It'll be good for you."
"Fine," Will mumbles, standing at that. He's heard enough from Jack, and frankly doesn't want to listen to anything else from him.
"If we need you, you'll know," Jack calls after him, even as he leaves the room, and Will silently wonders if that's what Jack considers reassurance.
The day goes by in a blur after that. Will isn't sure if it's Jack - what he said and the anger that Will felt leaving his office - that keeps his mind occupied for the majority of the day after that, or if it's the mysterious folder that Jack had so obviously wanted to hide from him. He decides that it's a little bit of both, and can't deny that he wants nothing more than to break into his office and see exactly what it is that is being hidden from him.
He's not losing time - he hasn't in a while - but one moment, Will is in his lecture hall, speaking to students, and the next, he's pulling up to his house and walking through the front door, surrounded by his dogs.
Sometimes he feels bad when he's gone at Hannibal's for days at a time, only coming home after work to check on the dogs and give them food and water, but at the same time, Will knows that it's good for him. Out of everything, Hannibal is one of the only stable, sturdy things in his life. Ever since their relationship had grown (saying that they're dating still sounds weird to Will) his life just started to feel a little bit more sane. With someone to hang onto, Will's night terrors haven't been as bad. He doesn't lose time or sleep walk as often either, and he attributes that to having Hannibal as his anchor.
So while Will feels bad that evening when he returns home to the wagging tails and happy faces of his strays, he can't help but want to get back to Hannibal, especially after what happened with Jack.
Hannibal will know how to fix this. He always does.
It's almost seven by the time that Will finally makes it back to Hannibal's from his house, wearing a clean change of clothes that aren’t covered in dog hair. He's not planning on staying the night - he does still need to be home every once in a while, after all - but Hannibal had promised him dinner, and who was Will to deny him?
"Sorry I'm late," Will mutters out, shucking off his jacket and hanging it up by the door before making his way toward the kitchen. At this point, he knows not to even bother ringing the doorbell, not while Hannibal is cooking. It's like a performance, watching him cook, and Will would be stupid to want to interrupt it.
When he rounds the corner into the dining room, he finds Hannibal, just setting two plates down across from each other. They look like works of art, per usual, and Will's mouth waters. "You're just on time," Hannibal assures, motioning for Will to take a seat, and he does. And for a moment, sitting across from Hannibal, eating his wonderful cooking and glancing up shyly at him as he does so, Will almost forgets about his confrontation with Jack at work. Almost.
"How was work?" Hannibal asks conversationally, halfway through dinner, as he reaches across the table, topping off Will's glass of wine.
Will can't help but cringe slightly at the mention of it, and he knows that Hannibal notices it. Hannibal always notices it. "Alright," He mutters, taking another bite of chicken.
"What happened?" Hannibal presses slightly, obviously concerned at the look on Will's face.
Will sighs. He's rather not discuss it over dinner - it'll ruin the fact that Hannibal probably spent hours working on it, and the last thing he wants is to make it seem like he's not grateful - but when Hannibal cocks his head slightly, setting his fork down, Will knows that there's no escaping it, not now.
"I overheard Jack this morning," He answers, setting down his own fork as well. It's going to be a lengthy discussion, he can tell by the look in Hannibal's eyes. "Apparently he's under the impression that the copycat and the Chesapeake Ripper are connected somehow."
"A bit of a stretch," Hannibal says at Will's pause, "Is he certain?"
Will sighs, "I don't think so. I think he's just looking for answers."
"Understandably," Hannibal replies, "And he wants you to help?"
Will shakes his head, mouth shut in a tight line. "Nope." And when Hannibal just raises his eyebrows, waiting for him to explain, he does. "He's been shutting me out of anything to do with the copycat for a while now," He mutters, "He was being careful about it at first, but now it's obvious. I overheard him telling Beverly not to get me involved."
Hannibal narrows his eyes, "Why wouldn't he want your help?"
"I've been on the case since day one, so your guess is as good as mine," Will replies, frustrated.
It's silent between the two of them for a moment, Will staring down at his food, having suddenly lost his appetite, until Hannibal breaks the silence, voice quiet and careful. "There's more."
"Yeah," Will mutters, eyes unmoving from the table, "He called me into his office afterward, and there was this file on his table the he obviously didn't want me to see. The second I looked at it, he took it and locked it up."
"You're worried that he's hiding something from you," Hannibal infers.
"I know that he's hiding something from me," Will corrects, finally looking up.
Hannibal doesn't say anything at that. Instead, he stands, taking their plates into the kitchen where he rinses them off. Will joins him after a moment, wine glass in hand, and leans against the counter, waiting. He knows that Hannibal is thinking - mulling it over in his head because he never speaks until he's ready to say exactly what he wants to - and he tries to be patient, he really does, but it's difficult.
He fidgets nervously against the counter, watching Hannibal carefully clean off the pans that he used to make dinner, until enough is enough. "What do you think?" He finally asks, nerves getting the best of him.
Hannibal stops at that, turning the water off and drying off his hands before he turns to Will. He makes his way over to where he is standing, and reaches down, fingertips playing gently at the palm of Will's free hand. "I think," He says carefully, eyes bearing into Will's, "That Jack is desperately trying to piece the two cases together."
"You don't think they're connected?" Will asks, holding the eye contact.
"I don't know," Hannibal replies, "But I do think, despite how often Jack Crawford disregards your well-being, he's just trying to look after you right now."
Will's eyes widen, "You agree with him?"
"I agree that you should distance yourself from the copycat killer," Hannibal answers, successfully avoiding the question.
"But what about Jack?" Will pushes, "He's hiding something from me. I know he is."
"And I know that you didn't get much sleep last night," Hannibal counters, stepping forward and taking Will's hand. It's a distraction - he doesn't want Will to worry about it anymore - and it works. Will relaxes slightly into the touch, closing his eyes. "If Jack Crawford needs you, you'll know." They’re almost the same words that Jack had used on him earlier in the day, but for some reason, they make a lot more sense coming from Hannibal.
Hannibal leans in at that, taking the glass of wine from Will's hand to set it on the counter. His fingers intertwine with his other hand at that, and before Will has a chance to argue, he's pressing a silencing kiss onto his lips.