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Nietzsche Eagle

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If anyone were to walk down into the deep levels of the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane, they would hear the echoing wails and screams of the mad, the rough, bellowing answers of security personnel adding to the cacophony of metal bolts sliding and doors slamming. Hannibal Lecter only heard the airy sparkling notes of Bach’s Goldberg Variations played by Gould, a personal favorite rendition of his, winding and twirling down around and through him. The soft crinkle of the butcher paper under his felt tipped marker was the only other disturbance he selected to hear.

His method of Ioci was a practiced stronghold, helping him find solace in the seemingly endless amounts of stimuli and information he has picked up over the course of his life. Hannibal has been able to keep his spirit alive for the year he has spent inside this gray prison cell, owing most to the comforts of his memory palace. Hannibal Lecter is a talented mnemonist; the tutors of his youth recognizing his talents from the age of 6, nurturing him and helping him solidify the first corridors of his mind palace, choosing beautiful baroque architecture even at a young age. It wasn’t long before he started adding his own touches, assigning specific music inside the corridors, and the colors in his mind carefully coordinated.

If any kind of outside provocation were to occur, it would take form inside of his head as simply voiced, pointed messages for him either to take interest in or let them perish. Currently, Hannibal was perusing around past visited Italian cathedrals, taking in all the bronze doors, the frescoed chapels, and especially the art from the finest Italian painters in the corresponding period. The Duomo di Orvieto played out in his interests today, respecting the depicted scene of Judgment Day inside, as well as the very recent addition of the life of Christ on the bronze doors. Idly, in the real world, he sketched figures from Signorelli’s Antichrist, when a small message in his own voice echoed in the empty cathedral.

‘A new arrival.’  It resonated around the large space, accompanied by the vibrating sounds of struggle.

The cell was back into view at his curiosity, his eyes adjusting infinitesimally to the abysmal lighting glinting off the tops of the table not covered by the brown butcher paper. He capped and put down his felt tipped marker, sliding off the bench attached to the chrome desk, feeling it shifting slightly under his movement but unable to move further due to the bolts burrowing down into the concrete floor.

The cell’s inside this corridor were all cookie cutter gray rooms made entirely of concrete. Each cell had a double barrier, a steel barred sliding door on the very outside of the cell from long ago as well as a transparent slab of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene inches back from the bars. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a strong polymer known for being flame, chemical, and impact resistant, making it a perfect substance for the circumstance. The only imperfections in the clear barrier were the strategically placed air holes down toward the top and bottom, as well as the edges of the cell door and the rolling food carrier. A small twin-sized bed with white sheets and a white cotton comforter, a toilet with no protective screen, a sink with a rectangle mirror covered by another acrylic sheet, a bookshelf filled with books approved by the administration, and the desk where all the amenities that were to offer.

The ruckus of the uncooperative patient bounced down the hallway to his cell, reverberating in the small gray space. From the commotion, the scene laid out in front of Hannibal, showing him the three orderlies, who were normally stationed in the small security office right before turning into the corridor where Hannibal’s cell was located, fighting with the new arrival. After a few more shouts, an order from the general administrator Frederick Chilton, as well as one other distinctive shout that must have belonged to the new patient, things quieted down. Hannibal knew that the administration here wasn’t above drugging someone into submission, having arsenals of syringes filled with Haloperidol or Lorazepam at the ready.

The sound of two wheels rolling reached his ears, the newly admitted strapped upright to the metal dolly they used to transport the exceptionally volatile patients. Pressing slightly against the cool barrier, he could just see the tall and dark-haired man being trundled into the cell directly next to his. The cell had been vacant for weeks after Hannibal convinced the previous owner into swallowing his tongue to silence his filthy mouth forever. The new inmate’s head was lolling forward with his transportation, but beneath the wild and dark curls, the man’s unfocused eyes flashed bright blue at Hannibal. His eyelids were starting to droop heavily, the man fighting off the drugs as passionately as he had been fighting the guards.

Hannibal tilted his chin upward, angling his nose toward the air holes at the top of the barrier. Hannibal often identified people and things by their scent, his hyperosmia playing a big role throughout his life. Coming in from the next cell, Hannibal smelled the expected heady aroma of his perspiration. There were things that Hannibal could determine about the newcomer from his smell. His body temperature was extremely high, and his diet consisted mostly of meat, coffee, acetaminophen, ibuprofin, and large amounts of alcohol. His blood sugar level was also very low. There were traces of fear in his sweat, normally undetectable to humans. As well as having hyperosmia, Hannibal also has a vomeronasal organ that is used to detect pheromones. Many animals have it, but it isn’t functional in the humans that do have one, the sensory neurons having no connection with the central nervous system. Hannibal, however, has found over time that his works just fine, requiring minimal mental training to conclude what smells meant what.

Hannibal was about to step away from the barrier when another scent lingered over after everything else. It was a subtle smell, something that Hannibal hadn’t smelled in a long time. The smell immediately reminded Hannibal of the earlier years of his medical training. It was a fevered smell that usually corresponded with a bacterial or viral infection, although he wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly which could be affecting him. With time, more behaviors besides his fever might present itself to indicate his ailments, but without a further physical inquiry, there wasn’t anything Hannibal could deduce. It could just be as simple as influenza, although something prickled in his mind that told him that there was something else remaining in the smell.

Hannibal heard two of the three orderlies’ heavy footsteps retreat to the front of the corridor, the resounding vibrations from the struggle finally ceasing, causing a quiet stillness in its wake. After a few beats, Hannibal heard Chilton in the cell next to him, talking quietly in comparison to the noise the inmate had caused.

“You caused quite a bit of discord this morning. I hope that you are feeling a little more cooperative? I honestly expected a little more professional behavior coming from someone like you.” Silence from the new arrival, most likely still reeling from the shot they administered, prompting Chilton forward.

“We will treat you just as nicely as you treat us, make sure you keep that in mind. The rules here are fairly simple to remember, although if you ever have any questions, I’m sure one of the orderlies will answer you fine enough.”

Hannibal tuned out the droll of rules and conditions set up by default, knowing full well that they were only spoken amenities, the likeliness of Chilton bending the rules to his controlling whims extremely high. Hannibal started to look at the figures he had been drawing, fine tuning a few details as well as he could with his felt tipped marker. His attentions returned to the administrative lead, however, hearing tension in his voice.

“After you’ve grown used to the way things are run around here, you’ll start supervised therapy sessions with me. We’ll start with therapy three times a week and then, depending on how well you respond to an effective treatment, we’ll think about lessening your security status and lowering the amount of time you spend in therapy. How does that sound?” The silence seemed more prominent between them in the wake of Chilton talking.

“Mr. Graham, it’s rude to completely ignore the person addressing you. You’re only making this harder for yourself. The sooner you conform, the easier your transition will be, William. I’m only here to…”

“…The person?” A deep voice just then, groggy and thick with disuse, muddled slightly with the after effects of most likely Haloperidol.

“Excuse me?” Chilton asked, wanting clarification to his seemingly irrelevant statement.

“Completely ignore the person addressing me?” He sternly reiterated, receiving momentary silence from Chilton, although Hannibal could smell the anger rolling off him.

“Yes, right, like I was saying before…”

“What you don’t understand is that you aren’t a person to me, no more than unknown and unseen entities or concepts are people to anyone else at any given time. Even standing here in front of me, you barely register as a physical representation of anything, and I’m known to see things that aren’t there. You don’t even trigger a neurological response as something to notice. It’s why no one consults you or your professional opinion. It’s why you cling to your mediocre advancements, the thick paper of your achievements hanging up in your office as fragile as your self-esteem, desperate and pathetic. You lack, Dr. Chilton, and I don’t find you interesting enough to waste the time I don’t even have on something as made up as you.” The silence after rung with condescension.

Hannibal thought that they might get along just fine.

After that outburst, Chilton rattled off a few words about eventual amenities, his patience thinned and his confidence shaken. Stepping outside the cell, the guards slamming the doors behind him from the guard office, Chilton appeared ruffled in front of Hannibal.

“Don’t smile so wide, Hannibal, lest people start believing that you are capable of any real emotion.” A pathetic and shallow jab. Hannibal continued to grin, turning his back on Chilton to sit back down at his desk. Chilton continued to speak from behind him.

“Can I have your word that you will keep this one alive? God forbid you kill off another one of my patients, regardless of how… utterly rude they can be,” His tone was directed back toward William. “Although, maybe I just damned myself by saying something, considering how this one likes to copy the work others.”

Taking the newcomer’s lead, Hannibal didn’t respond, playing as if Chilton wasn’t there, but his mind began to race at what Chilton had just said. Chilton was insinuating that this William Graham was the Copycat Killer that had been murdering across the Midwest and Southeast, always following shortly after a string of crimes in the same nature and style. Hannibal had only heard the banal off-handed remarks of the guards whenever they dared to whisper about it to each other, knowing that this particular subject matter was heavily discouraged in the hospital, especially down in Hannibal’s ward where it was the most likely to stimulate some of the inmates. Even certain psychological reading material that Hannibal had asked after was rejected by the administration.

Hannibal extrapolated from the useless pieces of insight the orderlies did decide to discuss, learning that the Copycat Killer had been someone who was working in law enforcement, the guards not specifying which force. Apparently, William had been involved enough to know exactly what to do and how to make it look like another killer’s victim pattern and killing technique, hiding behind someone who had been active in the same area. Hannibal mused whether this was murder plagiarism on a whole new level. He remembered that the Copycat Killer was on trial for murdering five known subjects, each one in the same style as a murder that, now piecing everything together, William must have been working on prior. To gain such insight and work with that much-detailed evidence, he must have been some kind of investigator, or a profiler. Maybe, FBI at most, thus the publicity, it being an interesting enough case to even reach down here in the pit.

That means that he might know Jack Crawford personally. This made Hannibal smile wider.

It didn’t take as long as he expected before Chilton, red faced and tight lipped at the lack of response, stomped off down the corridor. Hannibal, smile still in place, had only briefly begun to inspect his drawings idly, musing more about who William Graham is, when all the lights down the corridor shut off, engrossing them in nearly complete darkness. Some of the more unstable inmates ruined the silence, the disturbed shouting out frightfully into the sudden, consuming darkness.

“Keep them off until lunch.”

The guards begrudgingly went from cell to cell, simultaneously calming the inmates and bitching about Chilton.

“Always have to fucking clean up after his god damned ego. Either calm down and back away from the barrier or receive a shot. The guy’s ego is as fragile as a woman’s heart, I swear to you.”

Hannibal took this opportunity to take out a new piece of butcher paper, the last sheet that he would undoubtedly get for a while after his behavior towards Chilton. In the darkness, he began to draw. Although it was almost pitch black, the feeble light of the guard office barely trailing its way down to his cell, Hannibal drew with his eyes closed, submerging himself completely in the velvety dark. He drew the flash of blue eyes that he saw, unfocused with the injected sedative but nowhere near as lifeless as every other inmate Hannibal had seen admitted here. Next, he drew different sections of the dark brown curls that appeared black in the hallway, the appearance of them looking long overgrown in Hannibal’s opinion, like William hadn’t been able to take care of himself for a while.

After Hannibal was sure that he had filled the page with sketches, he retreated to sit on his bed, his ears subconsciously straining to hear anything from the next cell. In the echoing dark, the most he could make out was breathing, shaking in random intervals, and the soft mewls of intense dreaming, the Haloperidol surely putting William to sleep. Hannibal took a deep breath through his nose, scenting the newcomer again, still wondering at the sweet heat that trundled off him.

William had mentioned to Chilton that he saw hallucinations, but psychosis or schizophrenia did not smell like this. There were several mental illnesses that caused hallucinations, but remembering his flashback to his medical years before psychology became his study, Hannibal believed then that he was originally correct in his theory that William has some form of infection. He smelled before that William was a drinker, but Hannibal didn’t think that he was experiencing alcohol withdrawal delirium. Without really being able to ask William questions, or at least watch his physical behavior, Hannibal wouldn’t be able to conclude the ailment, much to a slightly surprising chagrin.

Considering the puzzle of William Graham’s illness currently unsolvable, Hannibal retreated back into his mind palace and up to the cliff side town of Orvieto, reveling in its Italian quaintness. Hannibal stayed in his reverie until he was aware of a faint putrid food smell that was out of place with the surroundings of his projected location. The lights flashed back on blindingly, although the light source itself was weak. Once again, the mad wound up their siren like wails, the calls echoing through the corridor. Through the noise, Hannibal heard the squeaking wheels of the food cart, stopping and starting again after dispensing food to each cell inhabitant.

They stopped outside of William’s cell, the voice of Barney talking sternly but kindly to him. Barney was Hannibal’s personal favorite out of the orderlies, admiring him for his pursuit in knowledge and commitment to his mail-order night courses for school. Hannibal knew that Barney wanted to see every Vermeer before he died, and that Barney agreed with him that psychology wasn’t a science. Barney, tall and broad, dark and smart behind wide set eyes, was the only person he had found interesting enough to talk to for some length. Hannibal respected Barney, just as Barney respected him, although never forgetting who Hannibal was.

“William Graham? Mr. Graham, my name is Barney Matthews. I’m the head orderly that you’ll be seeing most of the time while you’re here. It’s 1pm now, which is when we start to dish out food for lunch, but I’m sure Dr. Chilton discussed that with you.”

“If he did, I don’t remember…” A whisper, his voice gentler than before, higher pitched.

Hannibal could picture Barney’s white baby teeth, his higher pitched voice odd coming out of someone so tall and broad. After a few seconds of silence, Hannibal straining to hear William’s breathing pattern, and finding him still awake, Barney opened the door of the rolling food carrier, setting the tray inside.

“It’s hard to get accustomed to the comings and goings of a place like this, but it’ll be easier for you if you at least try. If you aren’t hungry now, you can leave the food. Come morning, though, we’d like to see you eat. We have appetite encouraging medicine we can give you if you continue feeling ill.” Hannibal smiled at Barney’s willingness to help. The willingness wasn’t lost to William Graham, hearing him softly mutter out a kind but thick voiced reply.

“Thank you, Barney. And, you can call me Will. I prefer Will.” The sincerity in his voice plucked at Hannibal, wondering where the brutality he saw with Chilton went.

“All right, Will. I’ll come check on you in an hour’s time. Try to eat, I know it doesn’t look good but it tastes better than you might think.”

Barney wheeled out in front of Hannibal’s cell, and Hannibal stood up politely.

“Good afternoon, Barney.”

“Good afternoon to you, too, Hannibal. Sorry about the lights earlier.”

“That’s quite alright, Barney. We all know how Chilton loves petty torments. How are the mail-order classes coming along? Are you still on the science courses or have you moved on?”

“Moved on, actually. Starting with general social studies, which consists of nine themes, starting with culture.”

“Culture? That is a bit general. Can’t imagine you could fit a whole world of culture into a single mail-order course.” Hannibal agreed with Barney and moved forward to collect the tray, eyeing the contents for what he would eat and what he’d leave behind. Fortunately for him, half of the food on the tray looked passable, more than what he usually consumed per meal.

“Yeah, we’ll have to see how it goes. The reading material is quite hefty, although I highly doubt it could cover all possible bases. Maybe we can talk about it sometime later when I really get into it.”

“I look forward to that, Barney. Until then.” Hannibal tipped his head and waited for Barney to wheel back to the guard office before turning his back to the double barriers of his cell.

Hannibal set the same prison gray tray down onto his table, taking up the dry wheat bun and eating it first, pulling tufts of dry fluff out of the roll and slowly eating each piece. Hannibal had been paying some attention to whether William, or Will as he had asked to be called, had risen and received his tray during his conversation with Barney. Endeavoring to listen fully with no one to interrupt, Hannibal found Will still awake, his breath shaky and fast, but no sounds of eating or tray scraping found his ears. Flaring his nostrils again, he could smell over his lunch the fear in Will’s scent, increasing steadily with his breathing. Fear was natural and second hand in here, the backbone of most establishments like this one.

Hannibal started to separate the vegetable medley of plastic-like green beans, carrots and corn, stabbing his fork into the adequate looking pieces and eating them. It took Hannibal almost a full hour to finish separating and eating his lunch, combing through the rest of his vegetables as well as eating most of his mashed potatoes, starch aplenty in the meals here, but consequently being the only decent thing to eat. Regardless, Hannibal never ate the meat provided.

While he picked apart his meal, he looked over the series of drawings he had done in the darkness, reviewing and following the lines of his art, previously learning many years before that it helps to never pick up your medium. All his sketches on the page were essentially one continuous line. The only time he picked up his marker was to move after he completed what he was drawing. On the brown page, the black lined shapes of Will’s eyes, some of his curls, as well as the different shapes of his drugged body limply strapped to the dolly were scattered around the sheet of paper, completely filling the page.

Will in all that time hadn’t moved toward the food, prompting more conversation with Barney later when he came back to collect the trays. Will didn’t answer, causing Barney to prompt more health specific questions toward him. Hannibal waited, hoping he would open up a bit more about his physical state, maybe clueing him in on his condition, wanting to solve the puzzle of part of his smell.

“You look a little pale, Will. Are you feeling alright? Looks as though you might have a fever.”

“…Always have a fever…always...” Barely a mumble, trailing off at the end, but Barney and Hannibal heard well enough.

“If I go and grab a thermometer, would you allow me to take your temperature? This will give me the time to show you how the orderlies operate going in and out of a cell.”

Barney moved out of Will’s cell after that, moving quickly for a man of his size, walking down the corridor and back again in a small amount of time. After some gentle verbal direction, Barney tended to Will.

“If I could please have you lay face down on top of your bed for me. Thank you. Put your hands behind your back where I can see them? Thank you again.” The cell doors slid open, and Barney entered, handcuffing William.

“Well, I can tell without the thermometer that you have a really high fever.” A swift pause and a digital repetitious beeping. “That’s what I thought… We need to get you upstairs to the infirmary immediately. You have a fever of 104.”

“No…” A weak waver escaping from Will.

Without further consent from Will, Barney rose from the bed and started on his medical and security protocols, notifying another guard to let Dr. Chilton know and to ask for a stretcher.

“No…” Will repeated feebly, the blankets on his bed shifting against themselves. Hannibal pictured what was happening based on sound, seeing Will with a sheen of sweat on him rising from the bed to stop Barney from continuing. Ignored now by Barney, realizing that Will needed medical treatment regardless of consent, he continued to talk to another orderly until the sound of more wheels carted down towards Will’s cell.

“Please, Will, if you could continue to lay face down with your hands where I can see them, we can get you upstairs to…”

“No, please. It’s alright, I’ll just be wanting some aspirin.” Will argued shakily, the fatigue and strain in his voice apparent, leaving him sounding breathless. Hannibal heard the springs of his mattress strain and then a solid thud as Will plummeted off the bed.

“With a fever of 104, aspirin is only going to do so much. You’re in some serious danger if you don’t get looked at. Please cooperate, or I’ll have to use force and I really don’t want to do that, so if you could please allow me to help you?”

Will was panting against the floor, silent and unresponsive except for the puffs of exasperated air and thick swallows. After a few moments, Will conceded with a heavy sigh, allowing Barney to handle him while still lying on the floor to pick him up onto the stretcher that arrived. Hannibal leaned forward, pressing lightly against the barrier. With Will laying down on the stretcher, Hannibal was able to get a better look at how wild his hair was, how full his beard was, how pale he was besides the deep bruising color around his eyes, and the sheen of sweat that covered him. He was tall, but not as tall as Hannibal, and much too thin, like he hadn’t eaten a good meal in quite a while. Will had the overall appearance of someone who hadn’t be able to take care of himself properly for a long time.

Will’s eyes were closed, the look on his face a mixture of exhaustion and frustrated exasperation. Once he was strapped into place and the stretcher was lifted to lock in a more upright position, Will opened his eyes and looked directly at Hannibal’s face, his eyes skirting around him, not able to look directly into his eyes. Will blinked, and Hannibal blinked back although he didn’t need to blink, before he was carted away. Will didn’t look away from Hannibal the whole time, and Hannibal looked back. Blue eyes crashed against maroon briefly before the corner around the guard office to the infirmary interrupted their momentary glance.

In that swiftest of moments, shaking recognition flashed across Will’s eyes, a resonating and intimate understanding. It was quick, difficult to place in the face of utter exhaustion, but Hannibal felt it from inside his cell, something coiling up deep inside his gut and pulling. Will knew him. His notoriety was worldwide, Hannibal knew, but this was something beyond the social awareness or tabloid infatuation.

He believed more in that moment that Will Graham knew Jack Crawford, Agent in charge at the FBI, and the man who caught him.

 

Chapter Text

While Hannibal Lecter was imprisoned in Baltimore, Will Graham’s body in Wolf Trap, Virginia felt filled with a large mass of swarming insects, from his head to his toes, he was vibrating in horror. The blood in his ears was rushing violently, feeling like it was threatening to spill out down his face. Shaking and dripping in sweat, he stared down into his sink, unbelieving at the human ear that he had vomited up with the handful of aspirin he had desperately swallowed to stop the unrelenting agony had been consuming his life for the past several months, accompanying his fevered nightmares.

Will wanted to know if this was real, and he needed to find out before he did anything else. He reached out apprehensively, his fingers caked with solid dirt, shaking with his fear, and touched the insipid human ear, horror cutting him deep inside at the solid tissue that received his touch. It was real. This wasn’t another nightmare, this was someone’s actual ear. Will moaned in terror and grasped onto the sink again, violently retching into it, heaving roughly, his body wanting to spill over nothing he had. As soon as he felt certain he wasn’t going to be sick, he dashed for the phone and dialed Jack Crawford’s home number. His voice seemed not his own, rushing words out that didn’t make any sense to him, didn’t really touch him.

“Jack, it’s Will. There’s an ear, I had an ear… in… the pain this morning was just so bad, so I took aspirin and oh my God, Jack, I threw up someone’s ear. I don’t remember. I lost time again, had another nightmare, but it’s real. This is real… it’s real…” Jack hung up the phone. Will ran over to the sink to heave again.

It took a little less than an hour for the shining black SUV’s of the FBI to pull into his driveway, the sounds of large tires grinding down the snow barely reaching him in his state of bewildering dismay. Will Graham, dressed only in a t-shirt and some slacks, was found curled in on himself on his patio, his muddy arms wrapped around his shaking shoulders, rocking and shaking slightly. His breaths puffed out of his mouth in half-formed ghosts, disappearing as quickly as they appeared with his panicked breath. Jack stepped out of the front car, and uniforms started to appear around him in time with the cacophony of doors open and slamming. Jack held his hand up to the squad, stoic and calm, and walked to Will. Blue with cold, he looked up to Jack’s face, unable to look him in the eyes.

“I-I thought I just had a nightmare… I was running, I had a gun… I found something, blood on the trees, and…” He stared down to his feet, thickly caked with the same dirt that was on his arms, barely disguising splatters of blood.

Jack was well trained in keeping most emotions out of his face, but the pity couldn’t help but reach his eyes. Furrowing his dark brow, Jack went inside to Will’s house, dogs barking at his entry into their home. It didn’t take long to find the ear, smelling the vomit and seeing some spread on the counter-tops closest to the sink.

Jack came back out, the screen door clunking closed behind him, the dogs still talking at him. Will peered up at Jack again, still shaking with a mixture of dead horror and bitter cold.

“When was the last time you saw Abigail Hobbs?”. Jack prompted, the deep timbre of his voice calmer than Will knew he personally felt. Will’s eyes swelled with tears at the question, thinking about yesterday and how it seemed like light years away, thinking about the last time he saw Abigail Hobbs inside her dead father’s cabin, the fright on her face framed by the protruding bones of so many antlers, and then Will thought about how time vanished, and he woke up in Virginia alone.

‘You’re sick.’ Her words were ringing in his head, her head shaking and her bright blue eyes defensive, afraid, in his presence.

“Yesterday…” Will whispered.

“What are we going to find in Minnesota, Will?”

“I don’t know…” Will’s tears spilled over as Jack Crawford ordered the squad to process him.

Uniforms blurred around him, people hesitantly going about their jobs, hard for them to process someone who had just been one of them. Will, after receiving some more of his clothes for warmth, was led handcuffed to one of the black SUV’s, passing by people he worked with, none of them having the strength to look him in the face. Will had just managed to dry his tears, feeling embarrassed by his emotional outburst considering the situation, when two of the police officers came out of his house with all his dogs, leashed, ignorantly happy besides Winston who stared at him in the car. His tears spilled hot against his cold cheeks.

Evidence processing, usually painstakingly slow, went by swiftly, Will contently finding a disassociating numbness to live in. Even here when the science team he worked so closely with was searching his body for physical evidence, and finding a sickening amount, no one spoke to him, too bewildered and confused. Will watched Beverly Katz scrape a tool under his fingernails, flakes of deep brown mixed with bright red floating down onto the evidence collecting sheet, the colors contrasting bright against the white paper, the aliveness of the color of blood bleeding into the air around it. She muttered a little under her breath, Will not responding.

“I can’t believe at what I’m finding…”

Will could feel their incomprehension thick in the air, the buzzing terror from this morning resonating off the people around him. Their confusion paled in comparison to Will’s, finding himself still unbelieving in the moments when the numbness unfortunately died. He had killed Abigail, interpreting the evidence that they had found, examining his own arms and finding hidden defensive scratch marks under the dirt. The image shrieked into his mind, ripping himself apart. Pale thin fingers digging desperately at her attacker, a large black creature with antlers rising tall above it, seemingly unresponsive as the girl struggled underneath it. The black creature, lifting his head, eyes red in the faint forest lighting, stared directly at Will as Abigail’s form stilled.

Eventually dressed in orange prison scrubs, Will found himself set in an interrogation room, the two-way glass ironically showing him his reflection on the wrong side. Everything about this was wrong, this fact screaming around in his head. The numbness faded with the recognition of Dr. Alana Bloom’s voice, someone he once distantly hoped would be interested in something like him. She didn’t commit, afraid that he truly was as unstable as everyone thought, and being a professional, it made her feel guilty at their romantic inclinations. His whole life was full of different people telling him in different ways how he was unstable. There were points in his life that he saw his instability clearly, recognizing certain brands of truth. What Will couldn’t grasp was that he was unstable enough to be killing without his knowledge, unstable enough to not remember anything but the projected images of his nightmares, and the vague memories he had while he lost time.

“We’re going to have to do some tests. Standard psychopathology tests.” Alana Bloom had flipped open a black binder at some point, a notepad on one side full of her writing sprawled on it in black ink, as well as a few packets of paper on the other side, staples cleared as a safety precaution.

“Starting out with a structured interview? Asking me about my psychiatric history, medications I’m taking, suicidal ideation, alcohol usage, history of sexual offenses?” His tone was tight and defense, growing louder with the anger that bubbled up in him, a mixture of past and current resentments. Will wiped at his face with his shoulder and upper arm as he talked, his movement restricted by the handcuffs connected to the table, a sheen of sweat he hadn’t noticed before covering him and making his prison romper feel sticky.

Alana continued, ignoring Will’s behavior. She knew that fear often made him rude. Digging into the binder to pull out some papers, she slid them over to Will. It was a testing of intelligence to screen for mental retardation. His indignation slapped her hard in the face, his uproar reverberating in the room.

“I’m not insinuating anything by having you take this. You know that this is standard procedure. If you want to, for now, we can skip ahead to the four-page questionnaire. There’s only 11 questions for you to…”

“I know those 11 questions. I know these tests. After this, do you need me to do a MMPI-2? Bender-Gestalt? WRAT? You can’t test me, I know too much, plus I don’t want to be tested, I don’t need to be tested.” Will panted as he spoke, the color had drained from his face, and the sheen he had just wiped off his face was back.

Alana Bloom watched him then, writing simultaneously notes inside of her notepad, required to do so in an evaluation like this. Her lips pursed contemplatively as she looked over his form.

“You feeling okay, Will? Looks like you have a fever.”

“I tend to run hot. I feel like I’ve had a fever for months.” He said dismissively.

She turned the test she had slid to Will around, exposing the blank backside. She set her pen on top of the paper for Will to use.

“Humor me, Will? I want you to draw a clock for me, please.” Will picked up the pen, the chains clinking irritably as he moved. Hastily drawing a clock, he turned the paper around for her to see, a strange stoic look growing roughly in place as she observed him draw.

“Alright, see? I can draw a clock. Telling time or drawing isn’t my problem, Alana.” Will stated defensively, unable to see that the clock he had drawn didn’t remotely look like one. The circle was there, but both arms of the clock were separated and off center, and the numbers were scattered haphazardly along the bottom right of the clock with no order. She blinked her wetting eyes at him, and swallowed.

“No. It’s the least of your problems.” Alana told him with a sad smile.

Alana left Will alone after that, disappearing out of the room and most likely going to meet up with Jack who had been standing behind the glass the whole time. Will didn’t know that for certain, but he could feel an audience of eyes on his skin the whole time she had been talking to him, and he could still feel the electricity now. He took the time to rest his head on his hands, anger plucking at him at the reminder that he was handcuffed to the table, the sound of the chains sliding irritating. He wished this situation was a dream, and he wished more so that it would feel like one, but nothing felt remotely similar. He felt stone cold sober and unfortunately awake despite the chilling fever that exhausted him.

“You’re sick, Will.” The shock of Abigail’s voice made him turn around, but it was Jack who stood there instead, the fading echo that seemed so loud in the wake of silence deep toned and sympathetic. He stood back and away from Will, watching him. Will looked up at Jack’s face, traces of sadness found behind Crawford’s dark eyes.

“I-I wasn’t consistent with taking my antibiotics. The fever came back.”

“We’re going to move you to a secure medical ward. We’ll get to the bottom of whatever it is that’s wrong with you, and we’ll make sure that you get whatever kind of treatment you need.” The word wrong resonated in Will’s ears, making them feel hot. Will felt torn between feeling even more indignation at Jack’s words or comforted. He knew that the FBI didn’t always try this hard to reform the accused. Will, loyal to the FBI, had its resources as bedrock, something no one else in his position could say. He found his gratitude was drowned out by his bitterness toward the situation.

“And then what? Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane?” Will almost felt insulted at the insinuation, knowing all the kinds of monsters that permanently find a home there, and knowing that he did not belong there just as much as he didn’t belong here.

“This job doesn’t generally lend itself to optimism, all right? But, I desperately want to be optimistic about an alternative to what every fiber of the evidence is telling me you’ve done.” Jack tried to keep his tone calm, but his personal feelings toward Will betrayed him in his voice.

“I can’t confess to something I don’t remember…”

“The question is, how much more is there that you don’t remember?” Will turned his head away from Jack, staring at his reflection, ugly in the orange overalls.

“We found your fishing lures, Will.” Will rounded back to Jack, the confusion at such a random statement furrowing his brow. He was extremely proud of his fishing lures, each one designed to catch a specific fish, made from collected pieces of animal remnants, from fur and feathers to fish scales, all he had found himself.

“Yeah… I should hope so. They were on my desk right by the front door.”

“We found human remains amongst the materials that you made them from; The human remains of Cassie Boyle, Marissa Schuur, Donald Sutcliffe, and Georgia Madchen.”

Will blanched, turning his pale and sweaty face up at Jack, his eyes shaking back and forth between Jack’s, desperately searching for the lie, for any hint of deception. Jack’s voice saying, ‘human remains, whatever it is that’s wrong with you’ repeated in his head, creating a symphonic harmony between Abigail saying ‘You’re sick.’ and Beverly Katz’s voice whispering ‘I can’t believe what I’m finding.’ These thoughts repeated, attacking his mind, screaming loud and faster, the voices combining to create a screeching whirr.

“…No.” A sick whisper slipped out between his chapped lips, his head shaking in denial, eyes widening in horror.

“Yes.” Definitive and solid.

“I wasn’t… I wasn’t sick when Cassie Boyle was murdered… At least, I didn’t think I was…” Will whispered, horror reemerging in his body, slicing up his middle. Jack hung his head at these words, exasperatingly shaking it.

If he wanted to look at the situation in an unbiased manner, he would recognize that at the worst of his health, the memory gaps lasted for substantial amounts of time, definitely substantial enough to do enough to somebody. Every prominent ailment that he was afflicted with currently happened after Jack had asked him to join the BSU, specifically after Jack asked him to start consulting on the Garrett Jacob Hobbs case.

Jack and Will had met twice before, the first time drawing out an argument, Will finding Jack a victim of hammy tabloid-ism, even though that couldn’t have been helped under the circumstances, news media adding pressure. The argument had been about Quantico’s Evil Minds Research Museum, an inappropriate name in Will’s opinion, borderline fetishing the caught unstable.

The second time, Will had been recently hired on at the FBI Academy, recovering from a stab wound in the shoulder from his time as a homicide detective in New Orleans, the right people recognizing his good eye and his ability to project. Jack had visited him, interested in his law enforcement background, and asked him if he would consult the evidence of the Chesapeake Ripper murders. Will, new and mostly embarrassed at his last meeting with Jack, agreed to look at the case file and make a few notes, not promising much. He returned the file to Jack the next day, the case file full of new pages with poorly written notes Will had taken. With a sickly glow about him, he promptly asked Jack not to be a part of the case, informing him on people he could ask to consult instead. Jack understood, knowing that Will had just been cut. Jack had looked at the notes and had tried to call him, but Will couldn’t answer.

For his third appearance, Jack Crawford found him one day during one of his class, impressed with his lecture on profiling, using the recently caught Chesapeake Ripper as his main example, his tastes ultimately failing the killer. This added to Jack’s personal fervor for wanting Will to help the BSU interpret evidence, remembering that his insight on the Chesapeake Ripper when he had been last asked was outstanding, personally believing that Will’s notes sped up the case significantly. Jack waited until the students had cleared the room before approaching Will, a bit stiffly considering he had been in the hospital recovering from the curving stab wound Dr. Hannibal Lecter had left him in his own psychiatric office.

Jack pumped Will up this time, though, desperate and needing to borrow his imagination to use it for the greater good, convincing Will that he could save lives if he helped them out. Jack was still under the impression that they would have caught the Chesapeake Ripper faster if Will had helped with more than pointed notes, albeit impressive ones. Will could tell that Jack was stressed, the BSU catching so much hell with the number of missing Minnesota girls rising exponentially. Jack had pictures of the missing girls on his person, showing them. Will agreed, speaking to the girls more so than Jack, hoping for helpfulness then, wanting to save more maiden-haired brunettes like these, the color of their eyes like tears.

Will vaguely entertained the dare to ask Jack how he felt about that now, apparently ending lives while not necessarily saving them.

Will never admitted this to Jack but he had connected with both Lecter and Hobbs right away. He had felt frightened at himself when he cracked open the Chesapeake Ripper case, the reason behind him denying Jack’s offer, but now with fear under control, he extrapolated the evidence as well as gaining a whole new insight on Hobbs with the body Elise Nichols tucked back safety and delicately into bed. Will, sharing his insight, stunned Jack into silence. Later, Jack cornered Will in the men’s bathroom, adamant in his belief that Will knew something about the killer in a more intimate way than anyone else would be able to interpret. Will was defensive at first, saying that he couldn’t have picked him out in a room if he was there, failing Jack’s unrealistic standards, but he didn’t want to admit that he saw so much in that dead apology, tender antler velvet placed in her wounds to promote the healing, undoing a blatant murder.

He went deep into Hobbs’ case, diving in and breaking himself open, allowing his empathy to absorb and expand more than he had ever allowed it before. It wasn’t completely inconceivable that he may have connected a little too deep with Hobbs, understanding and possibly idolizing him on a subconscious level, reenacting his work unknowingly.

“That’s not an argument you want to be making right now, Will. Not with me.” Jack threatened, still shaking his head.

“Because… then I’d be a psychopath?”

“My biggest fear is that we find out that you knew what you were doing the whole time.”

“You don’t have to be afraid of that, Jack. You should be afraid of the person who is doing this to me.” It sounded pathetic and desperate, Will hearing his words but not feeling them being spoken. He knew that this was a horrible way to convey himself, sounding paranoid and delusional. He hated how cookie cutter that made him, knowing from experience that most criminals start their case off with this exact alibi.

“You think someone is doing this to you?” Emotion rarely found Jack’s face in a professional setting, but again his personal feelings for Will betrayed him, his eyes squinting toward Will. Will detected a hint of disappointment in Jack’s voice.

Will, in his last effort at a defense, began his attempts to convince Jack that he was being set-up, his face failing to keep the impatience he was feeling out of it.

“He would know the cases, know forensics, he’d know you, probably work with you, someone who would know I was unstable…” Will’s voice died. Even his defense made him sound guilty, knowing he fit perfectly with every suggestion.

“So, that’s it? It’s a set-up? Do you even hear how paranoid you sound?” Jack didn’t keep the disappointment out of his voice this time.

“Or it could just be you, then I’d be really screwed, wouldn’t I?” Will’s joke was distasteful, tainting his mouth, making him frown after a faulty breath of laughter.

The stillness in Jack after he had said this felt like an institutionalized stillness, a procedural silence. Jack tentatively walked around to the chair opposite Will, a sorrow filling the space between them.

“Don’t…”

“I wanted to be the one to do this…” Will steeled himself, closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath, knowing what was about to happen.

“Will Graham, you’re under arrest for murder. You have the right to remain silent…” Jack’s voice died away behind his closed eyes, Will disassociating completely until he was aware of being outside, the winter atmosphere looking half finished.

Will, still handcuffed, went down the steps, feeling harsh hands on his shoulder directing him into the back of a secured truck. He walked by Jack, not able to look at him as he passed, instead focusing on the consuming space inside the armored truck. An armed guard followed him into the truck, watching him closely and sitting across from him. Their bodies shifted with the start of the truck, and Will felt the inspiration bloom sickly in his stomach.

Sitting in the back of the truck, Will was reminded of Able Gideon, a pathological narcissist doctor with psychotic episodes who had killed his wife and children. Abel Gideon was being transferred, when he broke his thumb to slip out of his handcuffs, attacking the guards inside. The driver had stopped at the noise, opening the back unsuspecting of a coiled prisoner. Will weighed the consequences, knowing that if he did this, that he’d look guiltier than ever before.

With a panicked yelp, he thrusted the weight of his upper body down onto the joint of his thumb, a sickening crunch as he snapped it out of place, Will slipping out of the handcuff and disarming the guard. At the noise, the driver pulled aside, throwing the gravity in Will’s favor. He was wrestling and punching at the guard, not seriously wanting to hurt him. The driver opened the back door and Will threw the disarmed guard out the back, tumbling on top of the driver. In both of their stupor, Will booked it for the driver’s seat, slipping inside and slamming his foot on the gas, the doors closing with the force of his acceleration.

He couldn’t drive too long, completely overwhelmed by the white-hot pain in his hand and now feeling the full effects of his fever. Will only made 5 miles down Highway 95, driving into Dumfries. He managed to park into an obscure alley, unable to safely drive due to the worsening tunnel vision. His hand radiated from the pain, swelling fast, his whole body ached cold from his fever, and his head threatening to split open. Will sat in the driver’s seat, wet from sweat and shaking, unable to block the awful reprise of screaming in his ears, his victims screaming as he had gored, sliced, burned, and devoured. The more he thought about each victim, tuning into each screaming voice, the more he felt the responsibility, and the more he felt their deaths on his hands, up his arms, presenting themselves as defensive wounds.

Cop cars surrounded the truck quickly, screeching tires and gun cocking loud in the alley. Will complied with their armed directions, exiting out the car slowly with his hands where they could see them. He turned around to start walking toward the apparent peacekeepers, the lights bright from all the cars surrounding him, when everything switched to black, and consciousness slipped out of grasp.

Will woke three days later tethered to a hospital bed, finding new shiny sets of handcuffs prominent on his wrists and ankles as he jerked awake, shocked at his location. He remembered pulling into the alley way, barely able to drive, feeling tired deep in his bones, and hurting more than he had in a long time when the cops showed up. Will didn’t have the strength or the energy to run, not even having the capability to drive safely, so he handed himself in. Through the heavy cloud of sedation, he could tell that his fever had broken and his migraine had abated for now, the worst of the pain he felt shooting in random intervals through his hand. Will hazily turned his head to look at his bandaged hand, contemplating the weaving of the material when it dawned on him that he hated hospitals.

“I’m glad to see that you’re awake.” The voice of an elderly nurse, soft through all the years of comforting people on the worst days of their lives.

“When did I get here?” His hoarse voice was barely a whisper, catching him by surprise.

“This will be your third day here, Mr. Graham. How are you feeling? Your fever was dangerously high when you came in, which was our top priority. I haven’t seen influenza that bad in a really long time.” She was busy going back and forth between charts and equipment, Will looking at the IV in his arm but not taking it in until a few seconds after he started looking at it. The slithering feeling of clawing at it, ripping it from him, curled deep in his gut. He ignored it, instead paying attention to the soft beeping of his heart monitor.

“I feel okay. Thirsty.” Another whisper.

“You were extremely dehydrated, which is what the IV is for. I can run and grab you some water with lots of ice in it.” She had seen Will peering at his IV, emotions playing over his sedated face without him realizing it. He didn’t feel okay, and with all her years in the hospital, she knew a runner when she saw one. Turning out of the room to get his water, she ran into Jack Crawford.

“He’s better now, definitely calmer than a few days ago, and you can talk to him for a little bit. I also suggest someone keeping an eye on him, he looks like he wants to bolt out of here.”

Jack was vaguely reminded of the nurse that he had back home taking care of his wife, Bella, and listened to what she said, heeding her advice before turning into Will’s room. He summoned another person on the force before he walked into the room, finding Will peering down at his bandaged hand, his IV, and his handcuffs.

“Not going to try and run again, are you?”

“I couldn’t, even if I wanted to.” Will whispered, pulling at the handcuffs, making them even tighter against his skin. Will saw the other individual standing behind Jack, propped in the door way, a pistol on his hip. “I didn’t realize I was worth this much trouble.”

“You are when you try to escape from the law, Will. You attacked a guard, threw them out of the truck, leaving them out in the middle of Highway 95, you stole their law enforcement vehicle, and then try to attack another officer upon apprehension. What do you expect me to do?”

Will blinked at him, things ringing true deep inside except for the last part, sitting odd inside his head. “I attacked an officer?”

“You complied, at least until you got close enough to attack an officer. I’m sorry, Will, but all of this? These are not the actions of an innocent man.”

“I don’t remember…” Will’s whisper died, not having the energy to fight with Jack, having to accept these sayings as truths for now.

“Yeah, you’ve told me before.” Jack broke off, hearing the nurse excuse herself past the guard in the doorway.

She padded lightly over to Will, hovering a full glass with ice water just under his face, a straw extending toward him. He leaned forward, extremely stiff, and sipped thankfully, slowly drinking to prevent his stomach from cramping. After drinking a third of the glass, he thanked the nurse and meant it. Flashing a customer service smile, she checked a few more things before giving Jack the room again.

“You know, Alana Bloom tried to convince me that you weren’t guilty. I told her exactly what I told you, your behavior just not correlating with innocence to me. She said that you were impaired, not guilty, and then she showed me your clock drawing.”

“Again, with the clock? I’m surprised she kept it.” Jack was unfolding a piece of paper from the inside of the inner pocket of his blazer.

“Considering you aren’t that great of an artist?” Jack quipped, showing Will the deformed clock he had drawn in the interrogation room.

Looking at it, it’s sad minute and hour hands away from the middle where they belonged, as well as the numbers in disarray, scribbled in his hasty handwriting away from the face of the clock, Will felt like he was plummeting. The beeping of his heart monitor sped up as he looked at the clock, his breathing escalating with his heart. He clearly remembered drawing that clock, and it was normal. It was just an average clock. Alana’s stoic face and wetting eyes, in hindsight, told him everything he needed to know.

‘No, it’s the least of your problems.’ She had said. Will realized he had been struggling against his handcuffs, the swelling in his stomach and throat threatening.

“Jack… I think I’m going to be sick…” Jack got there just in time with a small garbage can, Will throwing up only water and bile. No human ears this time.

“I-I’m sorry, thank you…” Will whispered, panting, heat radiating his whole person from embarrassment and from the effort of being sick. The inability to reach out and grab the trash can as he needed it stabbed the embarrassment even deeper.

Jack, having seen worse with his career and his sick wife back home, set the garbage can inside the bathroom attached to Will’s room, turned around, and scrutinized Will from the doorway. Alana had mentioned to him that he said it was normal, frustrated at the banality of the test, and seeing his reaction now, could see where Alana was coming from in her belief that he was impaired. There was a chance that Will could be faking it, definitely smart enough to have faked the test, but watching his heart rate increase, and watching the anxiety from the clock making him physically sick, Jack didn’t know what to believe.

“I wish you a speedy recovery, Will. I truly do. Once you’re released back into custody with a clean bill of health, we can work on the court dates. I’ll make sure to get the nurse back in here.”

Jack, hardly speechless, didn’t know what else to say. Will didn’t respond.

Chapter Text

After the shining, insipid form of Will Graham had been wheeled around the corner, Hannibal reluctantly turned back around to his cell, the gray suffocating cocoon looking much bleaker than before. Unblinking, he stared down at his drawings, the gaping eyes of Will peering back at him beneath strands of dark curls, black lines from his marker. In his own time, Hannibal slid around the chrome table and regained his seat in the Duomo di Orvieto, contemplative toward the mystery of the Copycat Killer, and the fevered smell rolling off him in waves that stuck out strangely here among the dust and stone of the cathedral. Idly, he refined his drawings of Will in the sunlight pouring through the stained glass displays in the church, perfecting the shapes of his thin form on the butcher paper.

Will wasn’t unattractive, even though his current being was disheveled and less than healthy. His bright blue eyes held a lot behind them, observing more than most could, emotions running through them as easily as a blade sliced through water. The combination of his dark brown curls and bright blue eyes pulled at Hannibal in a twisted way, reminding him simultaneously of the color of his late mother’s fine hair and consequently the color of his late sister’s eyes, bright blue and expressive like Will’s. Hannibal could tell that Will had a ruggedness about him, slightly ebbed away with his declined health. His beard was overgrown, but Hannibal could tell that he usually kept it at a shorter length. Thinking of Will possibly having his dark curls trimmed, and a shorter beard, Hannibal was reminded of a man fond of the countryside, of foaming riverbeds, and plaid flannel that he would bet Will owned.

Hannibal decided then that he’d exit the calm of the church and walk around the decorated cobblestone streets of Orvieto, the peace he had found before Will’s arrival and departure lessened with his racing mind. His curiosity was overwhelming, wanting to piece together the skewed information from the orderlies’ gossip with a real account from Will’s mouth, the man he had seen looking so unlike any killer he had ever come across, the distinctive dead eyes and human mask that they sometimes wore lacking completely. Above all else, Hannibal wanted to verify that he had worked with Jack Crawford at the FBI, his memory palace slipping away with the memory of their last encounter. Hannibal peered down at his abdomen, watching blood spread under and through the white silk cotton shirt, the contrast outstandingly beautiful, before he blinked the memory away and returned to the safety of empty ancient streets, Orvieto being a city that had been populated as early as 700 BC.

Hannibal sought out different comforts of his mind palace until he heard the head night orderly roughly putting his dinner tray into the rolling food carrier and sliding it through with a crash, the orderly gawking slightly at Hannibal considering he hadn’t moved in 6 hours. Hannibal rose stiffly, the chrome bench attached to his desk a less than comfortable place to sit for extended periods of time. He pulled back the carrier to inspect his food, finding it extremely lacking and almost inedible. He reached in for the dry wheat bun that almost always accompanied his meals, and slid the rest of the food back through to the other side. His ears strained for activity in Will’s cell, finding him still admitted into the infirmary, expected considering the dangerously high level of his fever. If they had any sense, they would keep him overnight.

Hannibal picked at his wheat bun like he did before, pulling small knots out of the bread and eating them slowly. There was a point when he was first incarcerated when he considered the bread he now ate inedible as well, Hannibal inspecting the recipe and bake of the buns and finding both appallingly incorrect. Knowing his body, and more importantly his mind, were desperate for nourishment, as well as knowing that if he didn’t comply with their prisoner meal protocol that unnecessary force would be taken to insure he did, he ate what he dared. Although it was easy for him to retreat to the luxury of his mind palace to escape the physical realities of his confinement, it was harder for him to convince himself he wasn’t tasting what he was eating.

He’d love to escape in the sensual, aphrodisiac inducing tastes of pasta with delicious uni, or sip slowly on some black chicken soup, full of goji berries, burdock root, and plenty of ginger. Even for Hannibal it was difficult to concentrate on the flavors of Ortolans, the sinful and illegal dish that involved gorging and drowning rare song birds, them meeting their deaths in a vat of Armagnac, when he was chewing on the plastic consistency of the vegetable medley that was promised to be served with at least one of the meals each day. At the memory of the Ortolans, a golden euphoria bloomed and settled throughout his abdomen, reminiscing the first time he had one, a black veil placed over him to hide his face from God.

Hannibal slowly paced the small enclosure of his cell, not wanting to sit after being mentally absent for 6 hours. Hannibal, once walking by the small bookshelf, picked up a book at random, having read everything on the shelf numerous times. He recognized the poetry book by the touch. Poems Every Catholic Should Know was embossed into the front cover. He flipped the book open to a random page, a poem by Richard Crashaw peered up at him.

‘The world’s light shines; shine as it will,
The world will love its Darkness still:
I doubt though when the World’s in Hell,
It will not love its Darkness half so well.’

Hannibal threw it back on the shelf and took out few of the other books that were on the bottom of the shelf. Behind them, the bible was put flush against the back. He took it out and put the other books back into place. There was other religious literature available to him, Chilton pushing religion as a petty torturing tool. There were times, when he found Hannibal’s behavior unacceptable, that Chilton would get the orderlies to wheel a tube TV down in front of his cell, an evangelical channel roaring full blast, the sermon screaming at him, accompanying crippled people rising. Laying across his cot, his restlessness unabated, he flipped the good book open to Revelations, showing him a thick assortment of tiny folded pieces of ripped newspaper and magazine paper. He unfolded each one gently, treating each news story, psychology article, and some pictures with respect.

It was rare that he got newspapers, even rarer to get glossy magazines, only able to receive these things without Barney’s presence. In the year of his confinement, Barney had only missed a handful of days, mostly due to his continuing education, requiring the establishment to bring in temporary workers. Budget cuts allowed this for the most part, Hannibal noticing even with the subjectively short time he had been imprisoned that the staff was dwindling. Only male orderlies and male nurses were hired for work down here, women causing trouble for most of the insane. It suited Hannibal having new faces to read and to take apart. On those days when Barney was absent, he was able to convince the temps to get him small, seemingly innocent things he wanted, mostly new reading material, ripping what he liked out of the pages, keeping them hidden and flushing the rest.

Hannibal took his time looking over his paper treasures, the paper already soft and fading from handling. He knew these stories extremely well, not necessarily needing the physical copies to appreciate their contents, but he liked to take them out and feel them in his hands, enjoying the contraband. His most read clippings were the church collapses he collected, his personal favorite a church collapsing in Italy during a special grandmother mass, killing them all. Hannibal felt a smirk twitch on his face, thinking that God is no God without worshippers, and he just took them with one swift action. He always liked that imagery. As well as the article clippings, folded and faded pictures kept his attention, one of the magazines he was able to receive being a National Geographic, a special edition on Giuseppe Verdi, leaving Hannibal feeling personally blessed.

Hannibal, at seeing some of the articles about Verdi, recalled his Messa da Requiem, starting from the first movement and building up to the damning judgement of the next movement, Dies Irae. Hannibal closed his eyes, and reopened them to find himself in front of a large chorus, the power and intensity of the music filling him with euphoria, threatening to bring tears to his eyes. Watching the chorus sway with their passion, he remembered the story about the Jewish choir who performed Messa da Requiem in front of the Nazi’s at Theresienstadt. The choir had met in secret after harsh hours of forced labor, finding some solace in practicing music, learning the Latin by memory, their numbers dwindling every day. Rafael Schächter lead them with a broken piano in a dank basement, directing them to perform in front of their captors. Their final performance provided dignified self-expression for them, as well as attempting to symbolically communicate the conditions at the camp to a visiting Red Cross delegation, the Dies Irae movement condemning and promising judgement. Like souls from hell, they cry out,

‘Dies irae /The day of wrath
dies illa /that day will
solvet saeclum in favilla /dissolve the world in ashes,
teste David cum Sibylla /as David and the Sibyl prophesied
Quantus tremor est futurus /How great will be the terror
quando judex est venturus /when the Judge comes
cuncta stricte discussurus! / who will smash everything completely!’

Hannibal wondered how the promise of judgment from a catholic God felt in tortured Jewish mouths.

Hannibal waited to phase back into his imprisoned reality until the requiem was finished, feeling significantly better now that he was filled with music again. It was personally disappointing to him that, as used to his confinement as he was, one thing could completely throw his trained patience off-kilter. Will Graham had only in his cell for a little over an hour, and now the solitude and empty of the cell pressed into Hannibal if he let it, a strange weight in the absence of someone worthwhile.

Not wishing to ruin the music he still felt resonating within him, he rose off his bed, calculating that he only had two hours left until lights out after consulting an old wooden clock he used to have as a child. Hannibal’s father had hired a tutor, and it was he who recognized Hannibal’s talents, seeing that he was able to keep watch on the clock in the room and have multiple conversations at the same time. He briefly trained him in the method of Ioci, however, Hannibal becoming orphaned at the age of 8. Still, Hannibal has kept that clock inside him all this time, the first room of his memory palace. Hannibal looked at the fronts and backs of the butcher paper he had, finding possible gaps to be filled. He wanted to distract himself, throw himself into whatever he had available to him until lights out.

He started to draw borders around each of his drawings, deciding to fill in the gaps between all his sketches with flowing art nouveau inspired designs, recalling the styles of Klimt, Gallé, Whistler and Mucha, reminded of French advertisements and lithographs popular in the 1890’s. Hannibal usually found the artworks of the great renaissance artists most appealing, remembering the paintings he had hanging in his house, as well was the paintings he visited often in Florence’s plethora of museums, loving the Galleria degli Uffizi, the Galleria Dell’Accademia di Firenze, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Palazzo Vecchio.

Hannibal recalled his earlier years in Florence, a young man filling pages after pages with drawings and writing alike, his own anatomical and historical studies of these marvelous paintings and statues. Hannibal spent the most time studying Botticelli’s Primavera or the Allegory of Spring, a painting that would change his life in Italy.

Hannibal found the painting full of allegorical connotations, interpretations from art historians still uncertain and controversial. There had been many theories proposed over the last decades, the most documented being the interpretation of the painting as the realm of Venus, determined by the ancient poets and by Poliziano, a famous scholar at the court of the Medici, an important Florentine banking family and eventual royal house of Tuscany. On the right of the painting, Zephyrus is represented as a blue-faced young man, chasing Flora and fertilizing her with his breath. Flora then turned into a representation on Spring, the next elegant woman in the frame scattering her flowers over the world. On the left, the three Charites, identified as Voluptas, Castitas, and Pulchritudo, iconically dancing while holding hands, the representations of Pleasure, Chastity, and Beauty. Mercury can also be seen, dissipating the last clouds. The overt theme of the painting has also been interpreted as an illustration of the ideals of Neoplatonic love, an ancient conception of philosophical and aesthetic movement trying to blend Plato with the noblest concepts of Christianity, popularized among the Medici’s as well as influencing the Renaissance culture.

Hannibal could see firsthand the humanistic meaning of the work, Venus representing the Humanitas, or the goodwill, promoting the idea of a positive person, confident in abilities, but sensitive to the needs of others. On either side of Venus, a distinct difference between material values and spiritual values were apparent to Hannibal. The boldness of the painting flushed back into view at his reminiscence, his memory overtaking him, and Hannibal was unable to refuse the soft smirk that found his mouth. The painting had taken up a lot of his time in Florence, using it as inspiration for his Il Monstro murders. It had been a while since he had thought about those, garish couples displayed in places lovers escaped to, posed like Zephyrus and Flora, flowers decorating the scene.

His ideation for the painting had been a close call for him, Rinaldo Pazzi of the historical Pazzi family being as sharp of a detective as Jack was. He had been the reason for Hannibal leaving Florence, the detective finding him one afternoon in front of the Primavera, drawing and redrawing the two forms that he had been recreating with the murdered couples. It had been careless of him, remembering the tension that filled the entire space upon him arriving, the detective aware almost immediately. Hannibal had learned, however, time pruning all who let it.

He had just finished filling the second sheet of butcher paper with the graceful art nouveau inspired designs when the lights snapped off, enveloping him again in near darkness. Finishing the last of his sheet in the dark, he rose from his desk begrudgingly, laying down on his cot to the sounds of the insane being wound up again by the sudden envelopment. After the guards tended to the unstable, the silence afterwards pressed deep into Hannibal’s ears.

For Hannibal, his nights went by the same way, him hardly sleeping when everyone else did, reveling in the momentary quiet of the anguished, even the mad needing to recharge their fervor. There were times when they were restless, like his last neighbor often had been, but the orderlies excelled at keeping them sedated, even if it was more for their own laziness than the actual medical efficacy of the treatment. In terms of other treatments, Chilton proved himself to be a mundane psychiatrist, as well as a horrible surgeon, Hannibal had found out. In the beginnings of their therapy sessions, Chilton was often drawn into long conversations about himself, rarely catching himself, monologuing pompously and continuously. Hannibal, realizing first and second hand how poor of a doctor Chilton was, used to pass time talking to his past two cell neighbors, and in some cases, attempted at some form of therapeutic rehabilitation. So far, Will was the third neighbor he had. He was the last cell in the corridor, thankfully only ever having to deal with one neighbor at a time.

First, he had Sammie, an intensely religious catatonic schizoid, admitted for putting his mother’s head in the collection plate at church, it being the best thing he had on him at the time. Chilton misdiagnosed him as a nebephrenic schizoid, but within a few nights of studying his behavior, and drawing what little conversation he was capable of, he knew that wasn’t correct at all. Nebephrenics are hard to treat, their personality disintegration leaving no room for cognitive therapy, as well as their tendencies for deep and terminal withdrawal. The night Sammie proved Chilton wrong, he had given a note to Barney for him, and a crude poem about wanting to go to Jesus was shakily scrawled onto it. Structure thinking, nothing like a nebephrenic. It was a shame when Sammie was transferred.

His past neighbor, Multiple Migg’s, wasn’t worth thought, all his personalities disgusting and vile. The only thing Hannibal liked to think about concerning Migg’s was the sound of him choking on his own filthy tongue.

Now, it was Will Graham, the Copycat Killer, most likely ex-FBI and murderer of four. Hannibal hoped that Will would find solace in him at seeing how truly inept Chilton was. Recollecting his earlier viciousness, Will had mentioned nobody wanting to consult Chilton’s professional opinion. Hannibal hadn’t thought much about it at the time, his ears practically ringing with Will’s sheer audacity and the harsh assessment of Chilton, used to the obligatory ‘fuck you’ Chilton received, but that phrase obviously indicated that he had been in a situation when that subject needed to be discussed. If Will had been FBI, they had discussed the possibility of using Chilton’s knowledge, and actively turned against it. Considering Hannibal had worked with the FBI, successfully so, this fact pleased him greatly.

If he did sleep, it was usually brief and uneasy. Hannibal’s mind palace, although subjectively beautiful and extensive, had its shadowed areas, physical representations of times in his past left purposefully unnoticed and untouched, mental cobwebs clinging to the dark walls and unopened entrances. The beautiful music that existed in any other corridor seemed swallowed by the sorrow. It was here that in the stagnant traumas of his past, Hannibal heard the cries of a little girl, small enough to not be able to pronounce his name properly. German opera resonated horribly behind one of the doors, cruel voices almost shouting,

‘Ein Männlein steht im Walde ganz still und stumm.
Es hat von lauter Purpur ein Mäntlein um.
Sagt, wer mag das Männlein sein,
das da steht im Wald allein
mit dem purpurroten Mäntelein?’

'Anniba! Anniba!’ Thin and desperate cries, and vivid blue eyes thrown wide.

Relief came in the form of loud sliding doors, squeaking wheels, and the smell of strong soap. Hannibal opened his eyes, dissipating the image of Mischa laughing at him in the tub, watching him making bubbles with her silver bracelet. He rose, and the wind of his rising made him aware of the droplets of cooling effort on his olive skin. Getting quickly out of his bed and away from the bad sleep, he strode to the sink, turning it on and washing the nightmare from him to the sound of Will being directed, complying by the sound of Barney’s thanks. Soon, the orderlies slid his cell doors closed and the wheels squealed down the corridor. It wasn’t just yet breakfast time, the lights still off but Barney on duty. After letting the water drip dry off his face, Hannibal went to the front of his cell, breathing at the scent of the soap. Will must have had a shower. Remembering Will’s viciousness toward Chilton, he wondered how well he handled a supervised shower.

His fevered smell had faded, muted by the soap, but it wasn’t entirely gone. Hannibal wondered if he had been unruly, maybe attacking one of the staff like he himself had done six months ago, returning here before proper treatment could take place. Another possibility is that petty Chilton only allowed the bare minimum of treatment. A syringe, or an IV, was administered, Hannibal also smelling a fresh bandage and just a drop of blood. After everything else, stress lingered in Will’s scent, anxiety tingling back in Hannibal’s mind. Now that he had noticed this sensation, the tension that was building between the sounds of him awake in his cell as well as the sounds of Will returning to his was palpable. Hannibal wondered if Will had something to say given his reaction to seeing him watching. He would not pressure him yet. Let it cook.

It wasn’t long before the lights shuddered back on, flickering in different intervals before finally staying on, a faint humming filling the air. In fifteen minutes, breakfast would be served, and he could ask Barney for more paper, maybe potentially convincing him for any section of a newspaper. Hannibal had a suspicion that Chilton would still be miffed about yesterday, so his hopes weren’t too high on either item. Fortunately, today was also mail day. Chilton had tried to withhold his mail once, shortly after Hannibal had published a paper on Chilton while he was having his first attempts at therapy sessions. Hannibal remembered how he sat with a blood pressure cuff on his penis, looking at an assortment of wreck pictures, Chilton with his grabby eyes, greed all over him. Before Chilton could accomplish anything, he published what he had learned about Chilton first. Chilton, in his rage, took everything from his books to his toilet seat. Hannibal called his lawyer.

Now, he finds some enjoyment responding to serious correspondents, and he often submits further work for possible publication in the psychiatric journals, ironically the same ones he can’t even read. So far to his knowledge, only a few of his articles have made it to publication, and he wondered if people were just after the shock value. His work on surgical addiction in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry was top-notch, though, he was happily able to admit to himself, even more so impressive considering his lack of material to consult.

Hannibal also found the rare occasion when people dared to schedule a visit with him immensely satisfying, comparing it to pray unsuspectingly straying too close to a tree, while coiled in the depths of the leaves, a leopard is suspended, waiting, curious. He sipped often at their primal fear, relishing their uneasiness in his presence. Hannibal had witnessed it in plenty of others before, the reptilian brain innately fearing a larger toothy maw, and as their personal flaws made themselves apparent, he pounced. It was entertaining to see them flounder.

Hannibal organized the few things that were on his table, still feeling the strings of anxiety stressed tight between the new neighbors. He could hear Will’s steady breathing, and him walking gently the length of his cell, physically assessing the size he guessed, or possibly pacing in anxiety. After a few more steps, Will walked over to his desk, sliding onto the bench. The table groaned and shifted with his weight, and Will tested the unevenness, shifting and finding where it was off kilter. The sliding of the guard office door signaled breakfast, and Hannibal smelled biscuits, sausage and eggs, a fruit cocktail with heavy syrup, and burnt coffee. Hannibal rose and stood in front of his cell, expectantly, listening to Will do the same thing and the same time.

Chapter Text

Will rose at the sound of the breakfast trays, conscious of Dr. Lecter moving identically. His heart palpitated at their movements, reflecting each other even though they were separated by concrete a few inches thick. He could have been put next to anyone, but of course it would be the Chesapeake Ripper. He had seen him as he was being dragged off to the infirmary, standing tall and regal, dignified considering where he was.

Dr. Lecter had deep and dark eyes that appeared maroon, the light of the corridor and his cell gleaming red sparks on his irises. His gaze was electric, stoic, and piercing. Dr. Lecter’s pale ashen hair was longer than it had been in the media coverage, his bangs touching the prominent ridge of his eyebrows and threatening to fall onto his eyelashes. Dr. Lecter’s face was angular, his high cheek bones were highlighted with the feeble light and they casted soft shadows on his olive toned face. Dr. Lecter’s full lips were shaped in a soft and natural pout, which to Will gave him the appearance of looking like he was in deep contemplation. This opinion was aided by a feeling and knowledge that there was a dark intelligence behind Dr. Lecter. Will had never felt a glance like that, electricity shivering around his body and face. At the last moment, Will dared to acknowledge those eyes, and found them intense and overwhelming, happy when the orderlies turned the corner. Will, denying Jack’s offer to work on his case, never had the opportunity to meet him in person, finding his presence unlike anyone’s he had ever felt. He had only seen him in the newspapers, and they didn’t do him justice.

Will felt a mixture of gratitude and anger that came with returning to any hospital setting so shortly after he had left one, having to deal with even more poking and prodding, another IV being administered. Dr. Chilton appeared in the morning, his disfavor for Will presenting as a deep scowl. His reaction surprised Will, remembering the brief period of interaction between them as they had been introduced upon him entering the ward, but Will had been exhausted by the trip and his fever had been steadily increasing with the stress of travel and the anxiety of arrival. Will did not remember much after formally meeting him, trying his best to be civil considering his circumstances while fighting the urge to scream. He had been outside, and the orderlies with Dr. Chilton were moving him into the building when he succumbed to both his fever and his situation, slipping unconscious for only a moment, exhausted and worn down.

He woke up to his name being called, the shaky image of one of the orderlies from before standing in front of the double barrier. It took Will a moment to realize where he was, not remember ever entering his cell. He remembered how he felt when he woke up, sedated beyond all belief, finding speech with Barney extremely difficult, and movement even more so. He had to have been drugged, most likely in the interval between him falling asleep and him waking up in his cell. Will wondered whether that was standard procedure with new inmates arriving in such a temperamental ward.

Dr. Chilton appeared around his bed and looked over his charts with an air of condescension, promptly kicking him out since his fever had broken overnight. Looking over Will with distaste on his face, he rudely ordered a shower and a haircut. The supervised shower was more humiliating than he could anticipate, the orderly telling him how and where to wash properly. The anger toward Dr. Chilton blossomed red over his face and neck as he showered, and something he hadn’t felt before bubbled in him low at the thought of him and their time to come together. Will was apprehensive about starting therapy with Dr. Chilton. Alana had mentioned him once or twice before while they had been consulting on murders happening within Maryland, Will puzzled why they hadn’t gone and consulted him for his professional opinion before. After discussing it with Alana, he found that they thought Dr. Chilton was mediocre, and to Will he sounded deficient in personality. This is found to be true and false, only seeing Dr. Chilton be greedy with Will’s media coverage, rude, flaunty and pompous. He wasn’t going to let someone like him fumble around in his head. He’d sooner take therapy sessions with Dr. Lecter, someone renowned for his talent both in and out of the psychiatric field.

'Try and clean him up. He looks like a god damned mess.’ Dr. Chilton had said, turning around and practically peacocking out of the room. Well, he wasn’t all that wrong. He had been a mess, clearer to him after the shower and haircut.

He had both dreaded and looked forward to getting back to his cell. He was happy to be away from intrusive care giving, happy to be away from Dr. Chilton, but dreaded returning into confinement as well as feeling hesitant to be back by Dr. Lecter. The corridor was dark, and the hope that Will perhaps arrived while he was sleeping vanished with the sound of his sink running, and him splashing water onto his face. Will, his empathy already opened toward Dr. Lecter from the night he explored his case file, detected stress in his breathing, him sighing shakily against the water he felt he needed to cover himself with. Will figured he could have been an early riser, too, naturally getting up before necessary. It was nicer to imagine Dr. Lecter seeking out the diver’s reflex that is automatically initiated when cold water is liberally applied to one’s face, calming the breathing regardless of your state of emotion.

Now, needing to break their symmetry, he peered down at the legs of his desk, seeing that one of the bolts that dug the foot into place in the concrete was loose. The area around it was banged and bent, too, like the owner previous roughly handled the furniture. Something echoed in his mind as he thought about the previous prison who inhabited the cell.

‘Can I have your word that you will keep this one alive? God forbid you kill off another one of my patients.’ Rang in his head, the voice of Dr. Chilton toward Dr. Lecter. The rest of the night previous was a blur before Barney came around, the fever relapsing in a rush upon arriving at the hospital. Will wondered how Dr. Lecter could have been responsible of a cell neighbor’s death, considering the physical restraints and limitations. Will wondered if his words were just as painstakingly accurate, just as surgically precise as his execution was.

Looking down at the loose bolt, he smiled hopefully at it, rising again, promising to return to the bolt tonight when the lights shut off. The opening and closing of the food carrier grew louder as they made their way down the corridor, the smell of food wafting over. Barney walked in front of the cell.

“Nice haircut, Mr. Graham. How are you feeling?”

“Fine, thanks.” Will knew that Barney deserved more of thanks for getting him upstairs, but he was still feeling bitter towards his health, really wishing he could have had aspirin and some alone time for sleep. Will stepped forward to operate the rolling food carrier after Barney slid his food through, taking one look at it and took a shuddering breath. For a split second, the food had been covered in maggots, but after the initial shock, they disappeared.

“You sure you’re okay? Still look a bit pale. I could have a word with Dr. Chilton about getting you back…”

“N-No, please, it’s… it’s okay. Really. Just tired.” A little bit desperate sounding. Will took his tray and made his way across his cell to his bed and laying his tray on his lap, dismissing Barney to continue down his projected path. It took a few moments, Barney’s scrutiny heavy before taking off.

Will raised his hand, itching at his face a little, his skin dry from the soap he was required to use. After Barney was out of sight, he closed his eyes with a heavy sigh, his calloused hand rubbing at them, and then back through his short hair anxiously. His hair wasn’t too short, but they had taken a significant amount off, the sides and back of his hair shorter than the hair on top. It vaguely reminded him of a more military haircut, the shortest it’s been since his time training for the New Orleans police. The memory of him young and fresh in his law enforcement career was astounding to Will, the sensations of his life then so less stressed and painful as they were now.

He couldn’t really blame the jury for their final verdict, the evidence astounding in quantity. He had been convicted for four out of the five alleged deaths, the only evidence from Abigail Hobbs being her ear. Due to his past psychological record, his empathy disorder out now for everyone to know about it, as well as the understanding that he was on the spectrum, they felt it would be more beneficial for him to live out his sentence in a medical ward rather than a prison. When the judge had announced that he would be sent to this hospital, he couldn’t help but look at Jack, who had already been looking at him.

Will took a sip of coffee and coughed. It was beyond horrible. He hastily picked up a biscuit, taking a large bite out of it to get the taste out of his mouth. Will sighed into his chewing, realizing how hungry he wasn’t. He briefly looked over his tray, deciding to keep the biscuit he was already chewing, and went to put it back in his food carrier for pick up. Barney and Dr. Lecter’s voice rang into his cell, reverberating through the air holes at the tops of his clear barrier.

“Good morning.” Hannibal’s European accent only skated his speech, the timber of his voice deep in comparison to Barney’s higher pitched voice.

“And to you, Dr. Lecter. I’ve brought along your mail.”

“Thank you so much, Barney. Do you think it would be possible to get more sketch paper as well as stationary paper for my correspondents?”

“I’m sure it is. I’ll bring some along when I come back to retrieve the trays.”

“That would be wonderful. Thank you again for the mail.” His tone was courteous, his manners impressing Will. It was strange how normal he sounded, Will having a more intimate knowledge of his murders than maybe anyone else did. He had seen pigs slaughtered and public displays of shame in his murders, his nature practically condescending. He was either lying through his teeth, or he respected Barney enough to go through the effort of politeness.

“Is that all you’re going to take to eat Doctor?” Barney had asked, the food carrier sent through before he had left. “That makes a few meals in a row where you’ve just eaten the bread.”

“Afraid so, Barney. Biscuits will hold me over just fine until the, I’m sure, wonderful lunch selection blesses us with its presence.” There was the condescension Will initially anticipated, although at the look of his own food and the taste of the revolting coffee still lingering in his mouth, he didn’t blame him one bit. Dr. Lecter looked healthy enough, comparing him to when he was first apprehended.

Barney was on his way back when he stopped in front of Will’s cell again, seeing the tray in the carrier.

“You, too, Will? Just the biscuits?” Barney was shaking his head, collecting the tray. “I have some appetite inducing medication if you want some. I also meant to ask you if you wanted anything, books, paper, that sort of stuff?”

“I’m fine on the medicine, thank you… and sure, books and paper would be great.” His voice didn’t sound as enthused as his words were, but Barney took the tray all the same and left.

It unnerved Will that Dr. Lecter had only taken the bread, too. Will wondered how they ended up doing the same things at the same time, and whether the openness of his empathy was driving him into assumed appropriate behavior or if it really was coincidental. This connection needed to be maintained, and Will was determined to exercise restraint. He had seen the power in his eyes in the corridor, and Jack had mentioned off-handedly once how it would be the worst thing to let someone like him inside your head. Will remembered how he had joked before about rather having Dr. Lecter as his therapist instead of Dr. Chilton. Now, in proximity of him again, he wondered how accurate that statement was. Although, Dr. Lecter had been a renowned forensic psychiatrist, a close partner with Jack Crawford, consulting on cases, his own included. There was a reason why they consulted him, his insight well respected by most people within the community, Dr. Alana Bloom included.

His murders were on a completely different level than anyone had ever seen before. The level of diligent meticulousness was astounding to Will, and his murders were, in a macabre sense, works of art. Will’s mind flared at remembering the Chesapeake Ripper’s case file, a feeling deep inside him humming alive at the thought. The FBI and the respective local police did a fine job at taking numerous pictures, Will spending most of his time staring at them. Recalling some now, his breath hitched and he flinched, screams often associated with his memories, sharp and painful in his ears. His dreams had been strange the following night, his body feeling torn and off when he awoke, convincing him that he couldn’t work on a case like that. Will hadn’t been ready for someone like him.

Will remembered the pictures of a bow hunter, his body splayed and stabbed like the medieval picture of Wound Man, and the victim left on a church pew, his severed tongue being used as a page marker in a bible he was reading. Each killing was a message, a signature, the rude finally transformed into something more worthwhile and entertaining. These observed facts were written on the pages of notes he lent to Jack, needing it out of his head after the horrible nightmares that plagued him all night. Writing his observations down and giving them to Jack made him feel a little better, like he was passing a baton of burden. To his mixed pleasure, Jack assured him that his notes sped up the hunt significantly, and that was a fact that he thought Dr. Lecter should never find out.

The media covering his trials was extensive, considering his position with the FBI, the media thirsty and desperate all the way through his court dates. He wondered how far news traveled around a place like this, hopeful that Dr. Chilton wouldn’t allow much talk about that down here. Still, the guards do chat, and he was sure he saw personal reading material inside the guard office when he was being brought back down from the infirmary. Dr. Lecter most likely knew that he had worked with the FBI, specifically working with Jack Crawford. Will would have to tread lightly if that topic ever occurs, knowing that Dr. Lecter wouldn’t be above using him to get closer to Jack. He guessed that the strangled silence between them would eventually be broken, he himself feeling on the verge of initiating conversation, a question or comment set just under his tongue, ready to slip out at the next appropriate comment, and he could feel in the air between them that Dr. Lecter felt the same way.

Will had a sneaking suspicion that Dr. Lecter wouldn’t break the silence first, however, and a part of him wanted to get it over with. He heaved a sigh, and laid on his bed, contemplative over his next course of action, knowing how dangerous of a game he could be playing. Will knew that he was going to be here for a very long time, and his neighbor happened to be one of the most dangerous criminals that has ever been caught. It might just work out in his favor if he were to approach Dr. Lecter, paying attention to be courteous and civil. Dr. Lecter might see right through him, however, having a feeling that Dr. Lecter often saw past the veils we drape over our true selves on a day to day basis. If he had some kind of pre-ordained agenda, Dr. Lecter would know. He decided, a little reluctantly, that he’d play it safe, feeling more secure in indifference.

Dr. Chilton’s voice could be heard softly, having come down after his own breakfast. Will heard him making conversation with the orderlies down at the end of the corridor, their voices growing louder as they walked together to collect the trays. Barney and Dr. Chilton, the contrast between Barney’s dark broadness and Dr. Chilton’s pale meekness outstanding, appeared in front of Will’s double barrier. Dr. Chilton was holding supplies in his hands, the few books and several sheets of paper that Barney had offered to give to Will.

“You asked for these?” Dr. Chilton lifted the items up for Will’s inspection. His face was failing at keeping calm, the smugness looking awkward with his attempts. To his resentment, Will rose off his bed and met Dr. Chilton at the barriers.

“They were offered to me, and I accepted, yes.” Will was shocked at how deep his dislike for Dr. Chilton already felt. To be honest, it was extremely unlike him, even considering their interactions so far. The closer he got to the barrier, the more he felt the pit in his gut widen, deepen, threatening. Will had found enough people in his lifetime annoying, but this feeling was something else entirely.

Dr. Chilton sauntered over to the rolling carrier, his mouth opening as he was preparing for speech.

“Well, here you go. Hopefully these books amuse you for some time, I picked them out especially. Our supply is fairly limited, unfortunately, so if they seem a little blasé, my deepest apologies.” Dr. Chilton didn’t sound apologetic. He set the amenities into the carrier, and paused a little too long before sliding them home. Will, patience worn thin already, took a hold of the paper, the small books, and the felt tipped black marker. He took note that neither Barney or Dr. Chilton had any more paper, remembering that Dr. Lecter requested some. Taking only some of the paper and the rest of his supplies, he slid the carrier back through and spun to place them on his desk, peering at some of the titles of the books Dr. Chilton had picked out ‘especially’.

The Renewed Mind: Becoming the Person God Wants You to be, Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, and Telling the Truth to Troubled People. Three lovely sounding titles, no doubt the rest of the books being just as wonderful.

“You forgot some of your paper.” Dr. Chilton had said behind him. Will, fighting down the flush that threatened to bloom across his skin, half turned to speak to him.

“I noticed neither Barney or you had any more paper.” He turned around again, as if that explained everything.

“Mhm, and why would we need paper?” Dr. Chilton asked, his voice tighter than before. Will turned around, a look of impatience edging his features. He kept his voice light enough.

“I remember Dr. Lecter had asked for more sketch and stationary paper, actually, he had asked first, which is why Barney even questioned whether I would want any. Considering that’s all there is, and you don’t have any more with you, I thought I’d leave some for you to give to him.” Will walked around his desk after he said this, sliding onto the bench carefully as to not agitate the wobble in the table and give the defect away. He tried to look busy with his supplies, inspecting the butcher paper with minor curiosity. He was being clearly dismissive. Daring to anger him further, Will hesitantly drew his eyes up to him, and looking like maybe he missed something between their interaction. “…Well, thank you.” Spoken like Dr. Chilton was a simpleton. The anger that mottled his face was worth the speech he felt building in Dr. Chilton’s chest.

“Mr. Graham, you do not get to decide when our conversations are dismissed. I am the general administrator of this hospital which means you are my patient. You will fall in line, or you’ll be punished accordingly. Now, I understand how stressed and frustrated you must feel, freedom being something newly lost to you, your rights revoked, and your liberty taken away. So, for now, I’ll let this behavior slide, but I warn you, I will not tolerate any more of the appalling behavior I have seen so far. I will not tolerate the way you spoke to me when you first arrived here, and I won’t tolerate the way you were speaking to me just now. I deserve respect. I expect better from you, William, and I will receive it.”

“Only the best.” Will promised. He flashed Dr. Chilton a smile, biting down his scowl, and returned to his papers, pulling out the felt tipped marker and inspecting it. Dr. Chilton grabbed the remaining paper from Will’s carrier, turned and walked back up the corridor through the orderly’s office, yelling at the guards to open the doors unnecessarily. Power trips whenever he is hurt, Will noticed.

Will, after making sure Dr. Chilton was gone, asked Barney to stop when he was attempting to follow the administrator. Barney, curious, turned at the sound of the carrier being rolled in and out of the cell. More paper was inside for Dr. Lecter. Will watched Barney contemplate on the paper, his wise eyes filling with deep thought, worried at the breach of contact between the two, but understanding at the courteousness behind the gesture. Hesitantly, he withdrew the paper, and quickly walked over to the other cell to slide it through into Dr. Lecter’s possession. Will turned back to his cot, laying down, puzzled at something Dr. Chilton had said. It hummed in the back of his mind,

‘I will not tolerate the way you spoke to me when you first arrived here.’ Will was struggling at this, trying to remember outside of the hospital when they were first introduced. He knew he hadn’t been the most approachable person at that time, his fever and anxieties rocketing, but he wasn’t outwardly unpleasant. At least, that he could remember. He had fallen asleep while being brought inside the hospital, managing to stay awake the whole duration of the trip. Will remembered waking up in his cell, the sedation beyond anything he had felt so far, the suspicion of drugs still relevant, and Barney mentioning Dr. Chilton going over hospital regulations with him.
‘If he did, I don’t remember…’ He had mumbled out at the time.

Will also felt the overwhelming distaste Dr. Chilton had for him, unveiled in the infirmary the next day, bewildering at the time considering their lack of interaction.

Will, in the interval when he had slipped unconscious, had obviously said something to Dr. Chilton. This piece of information broke him a little. If he was capable of speech to someone while he was unconscious, how capable of action could he be? There was the gleaming hopefulness that it was just brought on by the sickness, feverish sleepy mumblings that had happened to be insulting at the time. Will strained his mind, trying to pick up any sensation that he felt between the moment he succumbed to his illness and the moment Barney woke him up in his cell.

Velvety blackness, and a sweet relief. It had been lovely to give up, let go, slip into the quiet of the stream, drift far away from this situation. Other than the light blinking out behind his eyes as he fell into his illness, he remembered nothing. He sighed defeatedly, his hand raising to his face and rubbing at his eyes. The sound of Dr. Lecter gathering his paper on his desk reached him, and Will became aware of the tautness between them again.

If the tension had been thick between them before, nothing burned like it did now. He almost regretted paying attention to Dr. Lecter’s cell, finding the reality crashing back down on him, ripping him from his reverie. Will, accepting his fate, cleared his throat anxiously, kicking himself mentally after he did so.

“I’m sorry I didn’t give you more, Dr. Lecter. I imagine your correspondence requires it.” His voice was even, surprising himself a little. It didn’t resemble the way he felt toward this situation at all. His body was responding to the higher threat in the next room, the sensations similar to the feeling when purposefully playing with fire. Will’s hands found the seam of his gray prisoner pants, pinching and flicking at the seam nervously.

“Considering you didn’t have to give me anything at all, I thank you for your courteous donation.” Will’s stomach clenched at the sound of his recognition. His voice had a deep timbre to it, his European accent foreign but indistinguishable from where exactly, and his tone was cool and seemingly conversational. He recalled that Dr. Lecter had been born in Lithuania, but traveled extensively through his youth and into his adulthood. Will couldn’t help when his body quivered as Dr. Lecter’s voice resonated from inside the next cell, not sure if what he was feeling was regret in opening this door.

“You’re welcome.” Will left it at that, not wanting to push further than he just dared. He wanted to spend some serious time thinking about his memory gaps, the gaps of time that inevitably damned him to this life. The hope he felt toward his possible nonguilt was a sickly feeling, a mocking ringing deep inside his gut. This inner jaded feeling toward his own innocence didn’t sit well with Will. No one else was going to hope for him. He heaved another sigh, bringing both of his hands up to cover his eyes and rub at his face, his breath hot against him, feeling slightly better in the dark.

“Is your fever still plaguing you?” Hannibal’s voice was calm, evenly toned, and calculated. Will was slightly surprised that Dr. Lecter would want to continue conversation.

“N-No, it’s much better today. Thank you.” He added the thanks on at the end, regretting how discourteous Dr. Lecter made him feel in comparison to his elegance. In his self-consciousness, he introduced himself. “My name is Will, Will Graham, but I’m sure you know that already.”

“I do, yes, just as you know me. Still, introductions are appreciated all the same. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Will Graham. I’m Dr. Hannibal Lecter.” Will could tell in his tone that manners were a well-practiced art form for Hannibal.

“…Likewise, Dr. Lecter. How do you do?” He had hesitated at responding, the social automatic ‘nice to meet you, too’ not sounding right in his head. Will really didn’t know how else to say that, meeting Dr. Lecter in a secure medical ward for the insane not the nicest places to meet anybody, but society hadn’t found an appropriate phrase for introductions in a less than ideal situation like his.

“Well enough, considering. And, you?”

“Fine, thanks.” Will tightened his mouth a little, clipping his answer, knowing full well that both him and Dr. Lecter knew that wasn’t true.

“I’m sure.” Hannibal’s voice skated over some gentle sarcasm. Will let out a swift breath of laughter.

“Small talk like this is abysmal, isn’t it? Social obligations driving out banal conversations. Courtesy is extremely important to me, but it often leaves things predictable.” Hannibal continued.

“Yeah, it’s pretty horrible actually.” Will let out another rushed breath of laughter, grateful at the honesty. At hearing his words, he corrected, “…Not that talking to you is painful.” Will kicked himself again, wondering where the floundering calm was from before. He sighed and continued explaining, “Social graces, although seemingly necessary, and yet circumstantially unnecessary, are extremely exhausting.”

“Yes, indeed, they can be for some. Your courtesy has been appreciated, though, as well as this possible conversation, however limited.” From his conducts to his cool collectiveness, his conscious calm, and his complete control, Will can say he’s never talked to anyone like Dr. Lecter before. To anyone else, this conversation sounded just as banal as Dr. Lecter said it did, but Will’s empathy made him more sensitive toward dialogs like this with people like him, and this conversation was thriving with emotions and intent. A part of him knew that he was projecting onto this discussion the feelings and opinions he had made over the course of time, specific actions drawing out specific conclusions. He was expecting the passionate person he saw slaughtering the sounders of people, condescending and ruthless, marring while the pigs were still breathing.

“I’ll be honest, I’m a little surprised at your willingness for communication.” Will noted that as he said this, he didn’t feel the deep regret he expected to feel. The fear and hesitance at opening this door was ebbing away with the calm of Dr. Lecter’s voice, his empathy still sharp in detecting any possible dangers.

“Well, we have to find fun where we can, don’t we? And, we won’t find any fun in the books that Chilton picks out ‘especially.” Dr. Lecter’s European accent faded a little as he said this, shifting into the slight southern accent that most people from Maryland wore, imitating Dr. Chilton’s manner of speaking. Another smile was brought to Will’s face at this, surprised at himself with his bouts soft laughter so far.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, Doctor. He was kind enough to give me quite the exciting workbook, judging by the spiraled spine. I’m sure I’ll find lots of long lasting entertainment and help in the pages of the…” He rose off his bed and walked the three steps to his desk, finding the thick workbook. “…Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic Workbook: Treatment Strategies for Cluster B Personality Disorders.” A mocking scoff came out of Will at the sound of the title. He continued, “There are worksheets, assessments, and exercises! Sounds like oodles of fun!” He threw the book down onto his desk as he sat on the bench, his enthusiasm purely sarcastic, causing to draw soft mirth out of Dr. Lecter.

“If that is his pre-diagnosis for you, suggesting that you are afflicted with any of the cluster B personality disorders, he’s more mundane of a psychiatrist than I have originally thought.” Dr. Lecter said with the chuckle still in his voice.

“I think he’s not so subtly hinting at my…” Will’s throat closed slightly, his mouth feeling suddenly full at his attempt at talking about the copycat murders. The humor died a little between them, regrettably, and Will swallowed at the anxiety, finishing with a less confident tone, “My… apparent tendency to copycat others. Cluster B people often suffer from a complete non-existent sense of self, mirroring or copying others for some form of stability.”

“Would you say that you consider having a vacant or distorted sense of self?” This was a probing question, and Will wondered if Dr. Lecter was trying to psychoanalyze him, perhaps getting a better read and possible diagnosis before Dr. Chilton did. Will plunged in with a heavy breath, keeping mind to tread lightly.

“This past year, possibly, but it’s not so much a distorted sense of self as it is a desperate attempt at keeping track of my actions while missing time. I suppose memory loss could constitute a vacant sense of self, considering I usually render unconscious for hours at a time.” Will chuckled darkly, not finding it funny, and then continued, “If I were to look at myself unbiasedly, I could see where Dr. Chilton would see that I was exhibiting a mirroring trait, mirroring being one of the top traits exhibited by people with personality disorders. Granted, he is just extrapolating possible disorders I could have based on widely blown-out news coverage. Hardly something to care about.”

“Extrapolating is just a method of conclusion based on statistics and on unknown situations by assuming existing trends will continue. If this was true, I would think you would have adopted some form of personality from the few people you’ve managed to familiarize yourself with, myself included, even though this is your second day here. There may have been a moment or two when I detected Chilton’s and other people’s speech rhythm and syntax in your own, but I truly believe that it has nothing to do with Cluster B personality disorders, or your copycat murders.”

“You are correct, Doctor. It doesn’t.” Will’s tone was still darkened, and his face felt hot with their conversation, listening to Dr. Lecter’s words ringing from the other cell. Will mostly felt embarrassed, his imitating speech patterns something unconscious in his behavior that he had tried to control but couldn’t.

“I have a few theories of my own, but may I ask what it does have something to do with? Your tone suggests you know what I am talking about.”

“It’s public record now that my horse is hitched to a post that is closer to Asperger’s and autistics rather than narcissists and sociopaths.” His voice delivered that as mono-toned as he did in court. His memory resonated the image in his head momentarily as he spoke, the gawking eyeballs creating a sea of white, and then opened mouths of the surprised enveloping him.

“Hm. Tell me, what else about you is public record?” Dr. Lecter’s voice cooed, light and soft. The contrast between the man murdering and the psychiatrist that sat next to him was completely night and day. No wonder it took so long for people to catch him, the Chesapeake Ripper murders going back years.

“My empathy disorder.” His tone was as bitter as he felt, so much discord in his life caused by this disorder, this instability. The statement rung between them tautly. Will detected that Dr. Lecter’s sharp interest and curiosity was more abundant now than before, the humming of tension and the pressing of his interest slightly overwhelming. Will, a little against his better judgment, closed his eyes and opened himself to Dr. Lecter, sensing his deep interest, but not necessarily any maliciousness. Yet.

“Could be another reason why Dr. Chilton hinted to the Cluster B personality disorders, considering most people with BPD are naturally highly intuitive and perceptive.” He continued, reopening his eyes.

“People with BPD also exhibit frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Do you ever feel abandoned, Will?”

“Abandonment requires expectation.” Will said flatly. He could feel Dr. Lecter’s smile before he heard Hannibal chuckle and continue,

“Is there a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with your family, friends, loved ones?”

“Can relationships that don’t exist be unstable? I don’t have much family left, and I guess my friendships are fairly limited. In terms of loved ones, the only ones who might have some kind of affection toward me would be my dogs.” Surprising himself, Will felt his eyes sting with threatening tears, the thought of all his dogs being impounded pulling tightly at his heart and filling up his throat, making him feel nauseous. Will steadied his breath as quietly as possible, hoping Dr. Lecter wouldn’t pick up on his unexpected sorrow.

“We’ve already covered distorted self-image. Are you impulsive? Do you have a tendency to indulge dangerous behavior like being promiscuous, having unsafe sex, or excessive spending or eating?”

“Aside from the bottles of whiskey I was drowning myself in toward the end of my freedom, no. I don’t drive recklessly, as far as I know. I hardly eat, and if I can be frank to say this, but, what sex?” Will flushed with embarrassment. Will often felt plenty of emotions at once, a mixture of his and the other people that surrounded him at that time. People he worked with weren’t aware of this, at least before his trial, but he often picked up vibes from other people without realizing it. Now, he was angry, nauseous, and anxious at his situation. He was filled with deep sorrow over the loss of his rescued family, embarrassed at the bluntness of Dr. Lecter bringing up sexual history, lost and confused concerning his ailment, and hopeless.

“I think it’s safe to say that the only trait you share with those afflicted with BPD, or any of the Cluster B personality disorders, is your severe dissociative symptoms, but there are plenty of other answers why you could be cut off from yourself, or losing touch with reality, and you won’t find answers in those disorders.”

Will stayed silent, the question of what he is suspended on his tongue, tasting acrimonious and desperate, burning his mouth. What did it matter what the official diagnosis of him was? Would that excuse his apparent dangerous unconscious behavior? Would that allow him to be exempt from the guilt of murdering five people that they know of? Would that mean that he would be omitted from the thirty years he was expected to serve here in this pit of a medical ward? Will lowered his head back into his hands, running his hands through his hair and attempting to grab at his shortened curls, angry and relieved that they weren’t long enough to pull. He wasn’t aware of the ongoing silence, his head buzzing again, his body feeling overwhelmed, until he heard Dr. Lecter prompt for conversation again.

Chapter Text

To the tune of Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: I. Grave, Hannibal watched Barney and Chilton from his cell, sitting on the bench of his desk with his back against the wall, also noticing the lack of additional paper when petty Chilton gave it all to Will. Hannibal, although separated from the incident, was able to manage a few smells and tastes of Chilton’s anger, smiling predatorily at the red creeping up his neck and across his face as he started to shout, the smell of his blood close to his skin. It was only Will’s second day here, and the frustration that he had been able to produce out of Chilton so far was impressive and personally delightful, allowing a moment to bask in his vendetta. William wasn’t going to pull any punches, and Hannibal couldn’t wait for more of the viscosity that he had seen earlier, the deepened, articulate voice that calmly explained Chilton’s publicly known inadequacies. Hannibal felt himself smile at the memory.

When Chilton had grabbed the rest of the paper and tantrumed up the corridor, Hannibal had settled for reading all his correspondence instead, having a large stack to peruse through, not having to respond immediately, if at all. Let insignificant Chilton have his paper. He didn’t expect to hear Will Graham call to Barney, the rolling carrier signaling to Hannibal that he was giving him even more of his amenities, the blind kindness striking Hannibal through the interactive tension between the two. Barney’s hesitance said it all as he still watched from his desk. He was worried, this initial sacrifice for communication, and he was correct in being so. Hannibal was feeling immensely grateful toward the conversation that they had started in the wake of such generosity, surprised and eager at Will’s intuition, intelligence, as well as his initial kindness with the butcher paper. His thankfulness before was honest and true toward the apologizing Will, Hannibal marginally confused at his request for forgiveness. Playing at meekness, or possibly defensively submissive.

Will’s responses at first were typical and expected. They had been careful, courteous, and clipped, his nervousness trundling off of him in electrical waves of scent. Hannibal appealed to the honesty he heard in between Will’s words, hearing him deeply sigh from his cell, exasperated and full of unease. He knew is wasn’t the fever when he pursued Will’s health, the hot smell still faded and recessed, hiding behind the strong hospital soap. Hannibal was delighted when his personal inquiry was rewarded with a formal introduction. Although he respected his stiff courtesy, Hannibal hoped he would be able to see more of Will unchecked and uncalculated.

As they started to chat more comfortably, slowly getting the back and forth going, Hannibal took his newly acquired butcher paper and his felt-tipped marker and sketched different images of Will, consulting his vast artistic and anatomical knowledge. To Hannibal, it sounded like Will’s voice was coming from bed, so he drew Will as he thought he would be laying on his back, with shortened curls pressed onto his pillow, his hands up in his hair and on his face in personal anguish. He drew some rough sketches of the pale and outstretched bodies of some of the nymphs represented in art by Poussin and Amigoni, the white sheets of Will’s bed draped along with his lithe form. The images of the hedonistic nymphs surrounded by nature prompted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 into his head, the hopping and bouncing first movement cheerful, hearing bird song represented by the flutes, the expression of pan’s pipe music.

Upon approaching the conversation of Chilton, Hannibal found inspiration and immediately changed to draw Will in the likeness of David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, thinking that Will’s dark curls matched the ancient painting beautifully. Pointedly, he replaced Goliath’s head with Chilton’s, his wilting dead mouth gaping, a trickle of blood trailing from the corner of his lips and down his decapitated neck. With every turn of their conversation, there was some attribute of Will that Hannibal found to his liking, Will’s soft puffs of laughter coming more frequently, and his sarcasm causing Hannibal to chuckle also, surprising himself. Reading aloud the workbook, which given to the right person could help potentially rehabilitate, riddled Hannibal with good humor, knowing that Will did not belong in the cluster B personality disorders. There is nothing quite like the bond between two people when they are bonding over something similarly disliked, both finding some comfort and solace in their hatred for the chief of staff.

Although Hannibal was delighted for their communication, and grateful that someone intellectually stimulating was assigned as his neighbor, he felt stimulated at the hitch in Will’s breath when he was approaching the subject of his crimes, and proud when he managed to talk about them. Prompting more, Hannibal asked pointed and probing questions, thoroughly ready to disprove Chilton as well as learn more about Will. He was more knowledgeable in the fields of psychology than anticipated, making strained but adequate observations about the possible correlation between him and Chilton’s pre-diagnosis. His frank honesty toward himself was respectable, and he was thankful to see Will establish a kind of trust, opening up about his personal life. Will had confirmed Hannibal’s previous detections, admitting to drinking whiskey, and he imagined a feverish Will plagued by nightmares, drowning his terror.

Abandonment requires expectation, Will had said. This simple phrase told Hannibal so much about Will and his perspective, a tiny amount of sympathy pooling low in his chest. Knowing now about his empathy disorder, Hannibal could see all the disappointments that Will had to have experienced, people not having the common decency to speak their mind truthfully, Will finding out the alternative desires through glimpses under the veil of social behavior.

Hannibal had bristled in a pleasant way when Will told him about his empathy disorder. Will Graham, more fascinating than anticipated, the conceivable power of his empathy disorder calling all sorts of thoughts and ideas into Hannibal’s head. He breathed, steadily, calming the rising animated feeling of possibility. Will hasn’t give him reason to disrespect him with something as small-minded as attempts at solidifying possible career advancement and social status elevation. Will was something else entirely, and Hannibal believed that he, so far, deserved something else entirely.

Just like his own personal fervor toward his imprisonment, he thought that Will didn’t belong here. Neither of them belonged in here. Gods usually have no place among mortals, but to reap the benefits of their servitude and sacrifice.

Now, he breathed at the air silently, keenly, his nose detecting the rolling waves of stress that Will’s body was gradually revealing. The conversation had been a wild ride of smells for Hannibal, Will being as sensitive as he had hoped he would be, certain questions emitting certain pheromonic responses out of him, adding to Hannibal’s olfactory profile of Will. He didn’t want to pry or jab too much now, afraid that Will would withdraw completely. Hannibal didn’t want this to end too soon, wanting to slowly extract the experiences, to shape the pliable matter of these imperatives. His silence was styptic, purely defensive against the overwhelming emotions Will must be feeling currently.

“Will?” Hannibal cooed at Will’s exponentially increasing rate of breath. He sounded on the verge of an anxiety attack, stress still rolling from him in waves. Hannibal rose from his desk, noisily enough to announce his rising, to sit at the end of his bed, feeling close to Will now that the only thing separating them was the concrete wall. “Try and concentrate on just your breathing. Count your breaths if it helps you.”

To his pleasure, Will obeyed, hearing him take slower breathes, allowing the air in, holding it, and slowly letting it out. After five deep breaths, Will managed to rise, walking to his sink to splash cold water on himself. He panted lightly into the water, turning it off and letting the water drip slowly and rhythmically into the sink. The sink resonated his shaky reply, an echo behind his words.

“Thank you, Dr. Lecter. Sorry, that came out of nowhere…” Disappointment decorated his voice, him still taking deeper breaths.

“Understandably so, Will. It’s perfectly normal considering your current circumstances. There is no need to apologize for it.” Unnecessary apologies from him, a staple of his neuroses.

“Normal, huh?” Hannibal thought his tone sounded bitter through the resonance of the sink. The water on his hair and face picked up and strengthened the powdery smell of hospital soap, releasing it into the air between them. After a few moments, Will managed his way back to his desk, the sounds and smells of him even stronger now that they were almost opposite each other.

“Exceedingly so, yes.”

“I don’t feel normal. I feel… impacted.” His voice had deepened slightly with his unhappiness.

“I imagine what you see and learn touches everything else in your mind. Your values and decency are present yet shocked at your associations, maybe appalled at your dreams. No forts in the bone arena of your skull for things you love. What you have, as you said, is pure empathy and projection. You can assume anyone’s point of view, mine included, and some of those points of view might scare you. It must be such an uncomfortable but exceptional gift. Perception’s a tool that’s pointed on both ends; it’s almost logical that you would feel affected, considering what you most likely dealt with on a day-to-day basis, as well as what you must absorb unconsciously and unwillingly from your surroundings. I think you deal with a lot of fear, fear being the price of your remarkable instrument, and perhaps you are afraid. You might be afraid, but you are not a coward, Will. As far as I know, you’ve pursued a career in a field which requires you to continually provoke those aspects, exposing yourself to the bottomless and cavernous dark of your own extensive imagination. I believe in some sense you fear me, but you still initiated conversation. Without our imaginations, we'd be like all those other poor dullards.”

The silence after his speech hummed between them, and Hannibal hoped that Will could feel the sincerity behind his words. The quiet stretched on, Hannibal not wishing to break it or pursue Will unwantedly.

“…Are you profiling me, Dr. Lecter?” Will finally broke the silence, a slight humor in his voice, the deep sadness of earlier seemingly abated by Hannibal’s unusual compliments.

“Observing is what we do. I can’t shut mine off any more than you can shut yours off. We don’t need to discuss your anomalies if you don’t wish to. I would apologize for my analytical ambush, and maybe I should, but I know I will soon be apologizing again and you’ll tire of that eventually, so I have to consider using apologies sparingly.”

“Let’s… not get into psychoanalyzing. You might not like it if you psychoanalyze me. Or me, for that matter.”

“Oh? Distaste for my profession? That’s surprising coming from your background.”

“Yeah, something like that. I just don’t like people poking around inside of my head. At least you are an esteemed professional, and I can see why. You have more insight than anyone I’ve ever met in your field. I’m just sorry to say that therapy doesn’t really work on me, Dr. Lecter.”

“I’ll try my best to stay professional, then. Or, we could just have conversations. God forbid we become friendly. Also, in my opinion, albeit biased as it might be, therapy does work and can work if you let it, Will.”

“Are you saying I should let someone like Dr. Chilton fumble around in my head? Let him try to solve me, fix me?”

“I would never wish that upon anyone, especially someone worthwhile.” His tone was blunt, and he meant it completely. Hannibal found his growing passion for Will surprising, and if he was honest, a little inconvenient. “Do you think you are broken?”

“I think other people and institutions think I’m broken.”

“Tell me, Will, did you advance in your career because of your empathy?”

“... At times, but not always.” His voice was clipped again, but Hannibal continued past his defensiveness.

“I think they used your empathy to get what they wanted. They convinced you to get on board when their own mental power proved faulty, didn’t they, waiting until too many were already dead before turning to you, making you look at them all? The mathematics of human behavior--all those ugly variables, and you the only one to decipher them. I think they must have viewed you as a decorative teacup, fragile and easily broken, the finest china only used for special guests and for special occasions.” Will’s unexpectedly laughed, the laughter bubbling from him twistedly, surprising Hannibal as it resonated in the small spaces of their cells. Hannibal smiled wide at his laughter, not really laughing back out of mirroring mirth, but finding Will’s humor in his parallel interesting.

“A fragile little teacup, that’s a new one.” Will reiterated, the chuckle still alive in his voice. Then, Will fell silent, and Hannibal wondered if he had insulted him, even with the laughter. Fortunately, Will continued the conversation after the laughter died.

“You’ve been wholly, even grossly, correct so far, much to my personal chagrin. You see a lot, Doctor. It’s been the most accurate valuation, and the most eloquent, I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard all sorts of opinions about the way I am and the way I think. There has definitely been a lot of crap speculation about the way I think. I’m not going to deny anything that you’ve said, but I have to ask, considering your annotations before were so direct… although I may regret the answer.” Will paused, perhaps waiting for Hannibal to interject. Hannibal remained quiet, and Will pressed on.

“How do you see me, Hannibal?” It was the first time Will had said his name, driven by professionalism or hopefully respect. Hannibal, however, found he didn’t mind at all.

“Truthfully, Will? I see you as the mongoose I want under the house when the snakes slither by.” Hannibal said calmly, his face stony although Will couldn’t see it, his tone dead serious.

Hannibal had hoped for and received Will’s pensive silence, his contemplation heavy in the air between them, and the length of it steadily grew. Hannibal rose after a few moments and walked back to his desk, sitting where he thought Will would be sitting at his own desk, and promptly started to refine his rough sketches, allowing Will the chance to mull. He started with the sketches of Will laying outstretched on his bed, his handed curls up against his hair and eyes in personal vexation. Hannibal continued to refine the sketches well into the late morning, making his way from the nymph-inspired drawings to the Caravaggio duplicate. Here, he took his time, relishing in Caravaggio, tuning into Vespers of the Blessed Virgin by Monteverdi as background music from his mind palace. It was nearing 1pm when Will finally prompted for more conversation.

“There's no consensus in the psychiatric community what you should be termed. Upon your capture, Dr. Chilton said ‘There
is no name for what this man is; He may not even be a man.’ Then, a little bit later, you were declared officially insane, meaning you’d be spared the federal death sentence. The needle was guaranteed, they had enough to convict you a dozen times over. You've long been regarded by your peers in psychiatry as something entirely…other. For convenience, they term you a monster.” Will’s limited insight was effective enough, dry and to the point.

“Indeed, they do. They love slinging around demeaning names, don’t they? Tell me, what do you term me as?”

“I don’t. You defy categorization, defy generalization. If anything is obvious about you, psychologically speaking, you aren’t insane.”

“Did you happen to read Chilton’s book?”

“…Yes.” A curt answer, hesitant, but full of distaste. Hannibal smiled.

“What did you think?”

“Knowing Dr. Chilton more than I did before, I think the true crime novel was deliberately filled with inaccuracies, most likely in order to spare your life for his own reasons.” Hannibal smiled even wider at that clever assumption.

“Your intuition is astounding.”

“I can see him now, joining his hands together in a prayer of gratitude, thankful for God allowing him to remove the monster of monsters from the flock. Because of Dr. Chilton, you’ll probably spend the rest of your life in a state institution, watching the diaper cart go by.” Hannibal detected something odd in the way Will said that, unable to decide whether it was a negative connotation or something else entirely. Their conversation was interrupted by the buzzing sounds of lunch, metal doors sliding open from the guard office and then closing again. Hannibal rose from his desk, thankful that they were interrupted until his nose smelled the putrid combination of Taco Tuesday and Chilton.

Hannibal rose from his desk and stood politely by the food carrier, aware that Will did the same thing in the next cell. Peering close to the barrier, he was able to see Chilton march forward in front of the food cart to Will’s cell.

“Is there something I can I help you with, Dr. Chilton?” His voice had deepened slightly, crisp exasperation plain in his voice, the sparkling notes of anger starting to light up Hannibal’s olfactory organ. Hannibal thought in that moment that he heard his own speech pattern in Will’s voice, and he wondered how long Will had been thinking about everything that had been said between them, hoping that it had been long enough and constant enough to allow Will to slip into his neurosis.

“Oh, I do believe so, William. You see, I was thinking about the typical patient arrangement that we have here, and I came to the conclusion that we’re going to deviate from it; an atypical arrangement for the atypical patient, you might say.” Hannibal didn’t need to see Chilton physically to know the smile he used to punctuate his sentences.

“You did? Enlighten me, what atypical fun are we going to have? Should I bring my workbook?” His voice sounded bored, even though the sarcasm. Chilton’s face gently mottled, though less than any of the instances before.

“Did you have a chance to flip through it? Interesting stuff, isn’t it? Anything resonating with you specifically? I thought that since Borderline Personality Disorder is also sometimes called Mal-formed Identify Disorder, that there might be a few things for you to ponder on.”

“Well, you know, I did glance at it, but I’m sorry to say that nothing piqued my interest, not in the slightest bit. Then again, that isn’t a surprise. You’ve been way off on your diagnoses plenty of instances before.” Hannibal smiled. He was sure Will was referring to their interrupted conversation. Barney parked the cart against the wall, waiting for Chilton to be finished.

“Well, anyways, my day is fairly busy, what with being able to contribute to society and everything, and I just don’t have that long to chat. I just wanted to let you know that instead of the two weeks we generally give patients for pre-rehabilitation, it will be cut down for you starting today. You’ll be having supervised therapy with me starting Thursday morning.” Another slimy smile from Chilton appeared in Hannibal’s mind.

“I look forward to it, Dr. Chilton! We’ll have plenty of time to go over and disprove all of your theories about me.”

To Hannibal’s mixed pleasure, Chilton hummed a laughed and walked down the corridor and back upstairs, not bothering to gawk into his cell. He heard a calming breath come from Will, Chilton an obvious vexation. Barney deposited lunch in both of their carriers, his wise eyes shifting between Will and Hannibal, assessing. He heard Will open the food carrier and close it again, not bothering to take the tray out. Hannibal peered inside the carrier as well, seeing rice that looked edible. He picked up the plastic spoon that was given with the tray and ate the side in a few bites, then closed the carrier again.

“If you are up to date on literature about me, am I safe to venture that you are familiar with my work as well?”

“…You would be.” Hannibal could feel Will’s mind working from here, his voice still deepened defensively and tight, a rush of heat escaping his body, kicking off that lingering fever smell.

“The media coverage of your trails reached in some capacity down here in the pit, though reiterated poorly by the orderlies. Before, I brought up your advancement through your career, the rumors stating that you worked with law enforcement. As you can assume, literature of that kind isn’t allowed, so I’m not up to date on details about you.”

“Don’t… Dr. Lecter, I know what you are trying to ask and the answer isn’t what you expect it to be. I’m afraid I’m not feeling so well. I think I’ll lie down.” His fevered smell was swelling again, and Hannibal let him rest.

In the absence of Will, Hannibal settled for tuning back into his art. Moving onto a new drawing, the feverish smell stimulating his imagination, he drew Will in the likeness of the Young Sick Bacchus painting, still consulting Caravaggio in his memory palace. As he drew, his ears refilled with Élégie by Fauré, a somber cello piece that opens with a lingering, wallowing sadness, then builds and bursts open with an intense, fast-paced climax, before the slow return of the melancholic opening theme, reminding him of Will’s torment and explosive anger. Will only woke once during the night, growling out past his nightmare, then turning over and falling back to sleep. Hannibal listened to the sounds of his dreams, his mumbled words and shaking groans, mixing with the music Hannibal tuned into through the darkness and into the early morning, inspiration plucking at him in a intense way that made sleep undesirable and unnecessary.

Chapter Text

The rush of frigid water was lapping at Will’s knees, the slight pressure of the water dancing against him and swiftly turning around his leg was euphoric in his stomach. His eyes were closed, and his ears were full of the sounds of the flowing river he stood in, the whispering of the turning water a blissful additive to the cacophony of nature. If he focused, he could hear the vocalizations of black-capped chickadees, blue jays, and goldfinches, and he could smell the wet earth surrounding him, slightly putrid to most who don’t find deep pleasure in lake sides and fishing. Reeling his pole back and thrashing it forward, Will wished as he cast his line, hopeful for catching a big one. The custom-made fish lure flashed brilliant blood red before piercing the water, the sound of the sliding guard’s office door and squeaking wheels following the lure.

“It’s breakfast time. Are you hungry, Will?” Barney’s high voice ringed him out of his peace, Will groggily declined, and fell back asleep.

Will awoke sighing, and he reluctantly opened his eyes sometime after breakfast, glaring into the dim light bulb of his cell light. He thought that it might have been the sun he stared into, his reality reluctantly phasing into view. The winding wails of the mad started at the sounds of the sliding doors, excited and volatile. The orderlies made their way from cell to cell, strapping some of the inmates onto the two-wheeled dolly that was used for prisoner transportation. Will rose, his muscles resisting painfully, and pressed himself against the clear barrier of his cell to see the first four of the unstable being carted into the corridor. Watching the forms twitch and shake away into the orderlies’ office, he turned his head to speak toward Hannibal, surprised that he was hoping he would be willing to talk.

“Dr. Lecter, does something happen on Wednesdays?”

“Wednesdays and Fridays, the two days where we get hoisted and strapped into a harness attached to the ceiling and walked around in a heavily supervised circular room. My lawyer is always fighting with the administration for better accommodations, and this was something they came up with together. It makes me wonder who the bigger fool is. They’ll take us by fours, in our case, however, it will be the two of us, considering there are only 10 prisoners at a time down here. They let the inmates inside the exercise room by twos, followed by a supervised shower. Then, toward the end of the night, supervised cell cleaning is carried out by the orderlies for paraphernalia. This will also happen on Friday.”

This information settled hot over his face and chest, his heart kicking up in speed. He’d be out of this cage, able to run if he’d like, but more pressingly, Dr. Hannibal Lecter will be strapped in directly behind him, most likely be his second in the exercise room. He prepared himself for the concentrated electricity of Dr. Lecter’s maroon eyes that would undoubtedly be cast upon is him, decorating him with his intense glances. Will heard himself suck air into his nose at the thought of Hannibal being out of his cell, holding the breath for a few counts, and then slowly releasing it, much like he had done when he first talked to Dr. Lecter. The stirrings of anxiety were fluttering up and down his abdomen, his heart beat confused and palpitating against the wings of his stress.

“Are you alright, Will? Your sleep sounded rough last night.” Dr. Lecter asked, his voice as soft and kind as it had been before.

“I’m just imagining something a wary and tired adult would use on their child with ADHD. I can’t tell if I’m looking forward to it or not” Not completely true, but true enough. He wasn’t offended by the idea of the harness, although bitter that he’d have to be inside of it.

“You aren’t entirely wrong. Imagine a straitjacket harness, your arms folded against and around you, and a rope connected to a pulley system in the ceiling attached in the back.”

“A leash, sounds charming.” This prompted soft laughter from Hannibal, which made him smile slightly in response.

Will walked around his cell, stiff from tightened postures in his sleep. He often slept completely curled and clenched, which caused some minor pain in the morning when he tried to unfurl himself. His eyes scanned across his cell to the desk, remembering suddenly the loose bolt in the ground. The orderlies shouldn’t be back for a few hours, and Will decided to take the plunge, even though before he had wanted previously to wait until nightfall.

“You wouldn’t happen to know if Chilton is the kind of bottom-feeder to plant mics and cameras down here without consent?” Will asked as he padded lightly to the desk, lowering to pick softly at the bolt, watching it able to spin freely around inside the ground between his fingers.

“I think we both already know the answer to that, but to my knowledge, neither device is present this far down the corridor. It would make going to the bathroom more pain-staking than it already is, I suspect. No doubt people well enough to complain have complained.”

Will flushed greatly at that, flashing a look at the open toilet, no privacy screen or obscurity of any kind for dignity. It was borderline obscene, but his empathy made his own judgments and personal morals feel half true, understanding any side of any point of view. From an administration stand point, especially considering the types of criminals they keep down here, he could see why cameras and microphones would be necessary, maybe even being an advocate at one point considering his law enforcement background.

He rose and sat at his desk, thankful that in his high anxiety state that his body hadn’t deemed purging necessary, as well as trying to be a little less conspicuous about the loose bolt. He probed at it between his feet, shuffling papers to cover up the small scrapings the bolt made against the metal brace coming out of the ground. It rose several inches off the ground, the size exciting Will. It would make a decent tool in the future. He lowered his shoulder and arm until he felt the top, sliding the rest of it up out of the ground. The length of it fit from the tip of his middle finger to just about his wrist, approximating 6 inches in length. Smiling victoriously, he thought about possible hiding spaces for the bolt, but remembering the supervised cell cleaning, concluded that the safest spot would be right back into the ground. He slid the bolt in, the metal scraping noisily. That would be something to work on at night when visibility was lowest. There wouldn’t be any way to keep Dr. Lecter from hearing, however. This could potentially be quite dangerous.

“Do you dream much, Will?” Hannibal’s voice rang into the corner of his cell, louder than it had been before. His heart fluttered at the sudden noise but calmed immediately. He must be on his cot, his voice so close. Subconsciously, feeling slightly disassociated as he did so, Will sniffed at the air, closing his eyes heavily and taking in the dank smells of the basement corridor. He came back to himself, confused and not sure what he was smelling for, or if he was smelling anything at all. Shaking his head, he finished with a sigh.

“In this past year, more than I have in my whole life I think.” He scrubbed at his face with his hand, the exhaustion sticking to him. As he passed his hand by his face, he could smell the concrete and metal from the loose bolt in the ground.

“What are they like? I could imagine that your dreams were the one place you could be safe, but maybe not anymore.”

“Have you studied oneirology, Doctor?”

“I hope you’ll come to find that I’ve studied many things. I wouldn’t call myself an oneirologist, but work in oneirology can overlap with neurology. The study itself can fluctuate from quantifying dreams to evaluating brain waves, and also from studying the effects of drugs and neurotransmitters.”

“I suppose I shouldn’t confuse oneirology with dream interpretation. Are you familiar with Freud’s book?”

“I’ve read it, yes.”

“If I tell you about them, promise me you won’t start writing them off as wish-fulfillment dreams caused by general day residue?” Another light chuckle sounded from Hannibal, his lax amusement another little victory for Will.

“I shall try my best.” The humor hadn’t completely left Hannibal’s voice.

“My dreams are hard to place, only because I typically remember fragments, varied images glitching back into my mind. The longer I’m awake, the less confident I feel in those images, as well as the frequency in which they pop back into view.”

“What do you remember from last night?”

“I remember water before Barney woke me up for breakfast. I had gone fishing. Before that, it’s just hazy darkness.”

“You’re a fisherman?” Dr. Lecter had probably pegged him for a hunter considering Will’s infamy.

“I was a fisherman.” Will’s stomach sank at the realization that he’d probably never feel his fly rod in his hands again, that’d he never be able to sit and work on his lures ever again either. His lures flashed brilliantly in his mind, followed by Jack’s voice breaking the awful news to him that they had found evidence of his apparent victims in his lures. He had been so proud of them, remembering the joys of the search for adornments and the satisfaction when he finished one. The memory brought smells and textures to his mind, wet earth and fish scales. Will wondered if fly fishing would feel the same if he ever got out of here, but as soon as he had that thought, he knew that he would probably never be able to fish again. Dr. Lecter seemed to sense his discord, prompting him out of his sorrow.

“What happened a year ago that elicited your extreme dreams?”

“I started working in the field again.” The truth was too dangerous to reveal to the doctor, Will recognizing that his intense dreaming started after looking at Hannibal’s case file, as well as increasing with the Hobb’s case.

“I’m sure you’re aware that stress can be a psychological trigger for dreams and nightmares. What kinds of things did you see in the field?”

“I’m not so sure I should get into that with you, Doctor. Confidentiality shouldn’t wane because of circumstance. I would think you’d agree considering your profession.” Rising from his desk, he made his way across his cell and back to his cot, not wanting to hear Hannibal’s voice so close to him, the slight increase in physical separation easing Will’s mind. Will wasn’t against the idea of wading gently in the water, but diving deep would surely cause him to drown.

“The moral code of confidentiality in psychology necessitates that information shared by a client with a therapist during treatment is to be not shared. This principle, the therapeutic alliance, promotes a trustful environment. However, there are important exceptions to confidentiality, specifically where it clashes with the clinician's duty to warn or protect. I wouldn’t consider it your duty to warn or protect anyone anymore, especially the already dead. I’m sure you are also aware that one’s duty is subjective. What may cause concern for one won’t for another.”

“Well then, what do you dream about, Dr. Lecter? What can one deduce from your dreams based on what you have seen and done? I remember coming back to the cell after the infirmary and feeling anxiety prickling in the air, thick and clammy, sticking to me like sweat. Or maybe you're afraid of yourself, as well as your dreams.” Hannibal’s silence was foreboding, and he immediately regretted his defensiveness, the dread increasing deep in Will’s stomach.

“Sorry, Dr. Lecter. I’m just not comfortable with interactions like these. Like I said earlier, you might not like me if you psychoanalyze me.”

“On the contrary, I’m sure I’d like you just fine if I were to psychoanalyze you.” Will couldn’t help but scoff softly.

“Nothing feels better than solving a puzzle.” Will couldn’t help but feel bitter. To professionals, that is just what he was, his neuroses attractive to career climbers.

“Your distaste for my profession seems to run a little deeper than simple evaluation aversion. It sounds like you’ve been thoroughly used both by law enforcement superiors as well as mental health specialists. It’s a shame.” Will could tell that he had meant it.

“You’re telling me.” Will thought that Hannibal might feel more pity toward his own bitterness than he did, the clay of his being forever molded by the external decisions of others.

Hannibal’s sympathy was odd, feeling strange inside of Will’s head. Hannibal shook the very definition of sociopathology, and Will, as well as many other professionals, didn’t know how to feel about that. Dr. Lecter wasn’t, and isn’t even now, insensitive. He showed empathy and passion on certain occasions, and he saw it both now and as well as when he looked at his case file. Will was able to deduce from his crimes that The Chesapeake Ripper wanted to perform, to educate even, his fierce, controlled choices sophisticated and elegant, and his mutilations ultimately hid the true nature of his criminalities. He had some of the characteristics of a sociopath, showing no remorse or guilt at all, but Will wondered to what extent. Hannibal also wasn't much a drifter, and he had no history of trouble with the law. This, along with a non-visible motive toward any of his victims, made him the hardest to catch. Now that Will saw Hannibal physically, he could concur that he looked normal, and understood how nobody could tell what he was. Will wondered whether he would have been able to see behind the carefully constructed mask Hannibal wore if they had known each other, if he had agreed to work with the BSU on his case. The idea of them possibly becoming friendly made him shiver.

“I’d advise not to let the past hold too much reign over you. Granted, it's admittedly nice when someone sees us, or at least has the ability to see us. It requires trust; trust is difficult for you.”

“Trust is tricky and fickle; it’s hard to earn and easy to lose. I imagine you also spend a lot of time building walls, Hannibal, considering how detailed your fashioned person suit is.” Will’s keen observation was rewarded with pensive silence.

Dr. Lecter stayed silent, and in his silence, Will had no stimuli buffer to drown out the building anxiety of the exercise privileges. There was a small hope that bloomed against his chest that given both of their apparent violent tendencies, that solitude may be the best course of action. In the absence of interest, he tried to calculate how long it would take the guards and their charges to get upstairs, the 30 minutes for exercise per two inmates, the supervised shower, and the return of the inmates, guessing it wasn’t too long until it was their turn. His heart jumped at the sound of the orderlies’ door opening, even with the vague calculation he made, the instable being wheeled back in, sedated and showered. With every inmate that returned to the cell, the same powdery smell of strong soap began to fill the corridor. Will wondered if they were going to have to shower together too, his face heating up at that thought. Barney and his assistant appeared at his cell door, two-wheeled carts with straps connected at the ready. Barney also had the straitjackets that Dr. Lecter had mentioned.

“Hello, Will. Glad to see you up. I trust you slept well?”

“Fine, thanks.” Pleasantries. He hoped those would die with familiarity.

“Wednesday’s and Friday’s are exercise days, as I’m sure you’ve been told,” Barney’s dark eyes couldn’t help but shift over to his neighbor’s cell. “So, I’m going to ask you to do some things for me so I can get you into your harness. If you fail to cooperate, I will use force. Understand?”

“Crystal.” Will clenched his jaw reflexively. He wished he had the liberty of denial, even if he was looking forward to stretching and using his legs.

“Good, thank you. Could you lay on your cot face up with your arms crossed on top of your chest?” Barney signaled to the guard to open his double barrier when he complied.

After the sliding ended, Will closed his eyes in preparation and heard Barney’s footsteps as well as creaking springs in Dr. Lecter’s cell. He must still be on his cot, too, possibly laying back like Will. Barney laid the white straitjacket onto his chest, helped Will’s arms inside, and then helped him flip over to strap the jacket in place. By the end, Will couldn’t help but jerk away from Barney’s big helping hand, not wanting to be handled or tousled anymore. Barney, always attentive to aggression, allowed him to step onto the two-wheeled cart himself, the assistant binding him in place. From behind him, a clear plastic mask came into view over his head, slipping onto his face. Will jerked his head back as the cold rim of the mask settled strangely on his face, his breath fogging the inside, even with the small airholes in the mask.

“Is this really necessary?”

“Unfortunately, it is for the charges that are kept down here.” Will shook his head in disbelief, letting an irritated sigh slip out heavy, the plastic blurring again and clearing with temperature regulation. He was wheeled out into the corridor and set with his back to the wall, and the assistant orderly locked the wheels in place and proceeded with Barney to Hannibal’s cell.

As Will had guessed, Hannibal had been laying on his cot, his feet barely visible at the edge of his cell. With a slight quiver of his abdomen, he took this time to gaze into the space of Hannibal’s cell, absorbing the anatomical sketches and European cityscape drawings that lined the walls, drawn in unbelievable quality despite the rough butcher paper and felt-tipped marker. The sheer precision was astounding, and the more he looked at Hannibal’s art, the more he saw it reflected in his murders, even more than he had allowed himself to admit before. The drawings prompted a memory in Will when Hannibal was first processed. He remembered reading about a young Hannibal Lecter gaining an internship to John Hopkins Hospital because of his drawings, and vaguely wondered if artistic qualities were beneficially correlated with how adept of a surgeon you could become.

His eyes drifted toward the chrome desk, taking a second before realizing he was staring at various drawings of himself, all precisely drawn in a baroque art style that reminded him of various pieces he’d seen in museums. The image of Hannibal bent over his desk patiently plotting the lines of his form added to the heat he was feeling inside of himself, almost feeling him drawing his outline. He was also surprised at how accurately he had been drawn considering their lack of physical familiarity. He knew he had been seen by Hannibal only twice, and Hannibal had been able to see him, even though he was most likely obscured by the angle of the cells and the double barrier.

Between his obvious talents in the traditional arts, it was also known that Dr. Lecter was successful in the culinary arts as well, presenting most of his victims as beautiful dishes. His murders were beautiful all the way through, between the presentation in their bodies, as well as the presentation of their stolen offerings. Will wondered how someone who mirrored the most elegant of worlds, using his vast knowledge obtained over the years to continually source other’s, could also have the capability of having such a truly unique and original medium. Will shook his head gently, grounding him in the swaying sensation. He blinked tightly, clenching his eye muscles and relaxing them a few times, anything to feel back in the now. Something had been pulling him away while he was looking at Hannibal’s drawings of himself, his empathy peaking and flaring at the images.

Barney didn’t have to command Hannibal, opting out instead for polite conversation since he was more used to the hospital schedule and security procedures. Will looked away as he was taken off his cot, his face blooming red simultaneously with the creeping anxiety that crawled up his stomach and into his chest. He knew nothing would prepare him for the piercing scrutiny of Dr. Lecter, but he counted his breaths as he was encouraged to do so before, his eyes closed, the hazy dark comforting. Will didn’t need to open his eyes to know when Hannibal looked at him, his maroon eyes set on olive skin flashing brilliantly against the backs of his eyelids while accompanying the prickling feeling he knew he’d feel on his skin. The sensation was immediately on his face, Hannibal’s eyes seeming to dart immediately to his own, then seeing that Will’s eyes were closed, decided to gradually move down his face and body. The tingling stopped suddenly, and Will opened his eyes to see that the assistant orderly was standing between them, unlocking his wheels and starting to transport them.

The last time he had made a journey out of the pit, he had been mercilessly ill, but now that he was quite awake, he found himself absorbing everything. Will tried to take in every turn, every hallway, and every possible landmark he could, ignoring the electricity that was dancing around his scalp with a bit of effort, however, the longer they were in transit, the more aware of both Hannibal and his own shaking anxiety he became. As they were traveling to the farthest side of the hospital, Will had started counting his breaths, his head hanging low enough for his mask to touch his collar bone, and he gave up the rest of the journey for the safety of his eyelids. It took him a few seconds after his arrival to realize that they had begun unstrapping him from the dolly.

“Will, you alright?” Barney’s safe voice resonated behind him through the sounds of fabric sliding. Will didn’t answer, lifting his head slightly and opening his eyes. Barney’s large frame appeared into view shortly after, remembering Will’s irritation and allowing him to step off the cart himself.

“I’ll explain a few things before you head in. First, you have 30 minutes inside. There is some heavy supervision, officers armed with batons and mace, so I suggest you keep to your side of the ring. Dr. Lecter will also be in the room with you, staying to his side of the ring. Running is discouraged, unless you and Lecter discuss otherwise. As soon as you enter, someone will connect your jacket to a pulley system in the ceiling to prevent you from going over the red security line. As soon as you reach the farthest side of the ring, I’ll let Dr. Lecter in. Do you have any questions?”

Will shook his head, both in answer to Barney’s question and to try to calm Hannibal’s gaze on his skin. Will, defensively disassociating, stoically turned his head over his shoulders to flash his eyes sharply at Hannibal, seeing his maroon eyes fixated on him already. Hannibal’s eyes shook between his own, his pupils and nostrils flaring slightly in response to his sudden and direct attention.

“If it is alright with you, I would like to be able to run.” Will said to Hannibal, his head dropping instinctively as he talked, peering over at him through his eyelashes. Will could act like the docile lamb if he wanted to, appealing to Hannibal’s nature, thinking he might enjoy the sight of Will timid and cautious. Then, Will thought, that Hannibal would most likely like him better as the mongoose he mentioned earlier, just in case of snakes.

“If you wish.” Hannibal inclined his head politely, mirroring Will, but his eyes angled up with the descent, never losing sight of him.

Will blinked, stared at Hannibal for a second longer, almost subconsciously giving him something to perhaps draw later, then turned toward Barney and nodded. The door was opened to him, and an officer took him by the shoulder to clasp the rope to his back. The sounds echoed through the large open space, the arena inside reminding him simultaneously of a high school gymnasium with a half-constructed ice rink in the middle, the white barrier embedded in the ground empty of the tall protective poly boards you would see at hockey games. There was a wide blue walkway around the waist high barrier of the rink, edged with the red security line labeled DO NOT CROSS in black.

“Go ahead. We’ll be watching.” Unable to determine where that was a comfort or a threat, Will looked inside the gymnasium, seeing there was an officer stationed on each side, all armed with the mace and batons Barney mentioned. Looking over to the officer to his far left, he noticed a small gun with tranquilizer darts.

Feeling the officer release his leash, Will started to jog, feeling awkward without the use of his arms. The area was large enough for him to run at least 10 seconds before he heard Hannibal enter the room. The image of a harnessed Lecter running behind him made sweat threaten his temple, so he fixated his eyes ahead. Hannibal’s steps echoed lightly with his own as they ran, and he could still feel Hannibal’s gaze all over his form. After a few minutes of running, Will found some mediation within the counting of his steps and the controlled timing of his breath, realizing the more he ran how grateful he was to be able to. Halfway through his exercise time, he became aware of the drips of condensation building on his mask and the sweat sticking to his face from his breath. Slowly, he began to ease his pace, his heart thumping madly in his chest from the jog. Hannibal’s steps fell in line with his own, and both stopped to walk at the same time.

Will took a chance and peered over to him, seeing his lips rosy and parted, huffing slightly from the exertion as well. Hannibal’s short prison-cut hair was ashen colored in the lazy gymnasium light, sticking slightly to his dampened forehead, the builders only putting in the minimal number of windows in the ceiling. His cheeks were flushed and mottled lightly, and his eyes appeared dark from his side of the arena. Hannibal’s eyes flashed up to his, and Will looked away, walking off his already stiffening muscles. He felt out of shape, his heart pounding and his lungs threatening fire.

The end of their exercise was announced by a sudden deafening buzz, echoing around the walls and attacking Will’s head. Will couldn’t help but jump as it sounded, the buzzing filling his body even after it had stopped its call. Will didn’t have to look to know that Hannibal didn’t jump. He thought he saw a smirk decorate Hannibal’s lips, but decided to keep his gaze fixed on the floor, making his way back and around the arena. The officer that helped him before was waiting for him at the door, and the heavy boot steps from the far end officer could be heard approaching Hannibal from the other side.

Unleashed and re-strapped, they were carted to an area that Will was familiar with, the smell of hot, soapy water lingering in the humid air. The pit of his stomach was aching with stress, the pain climaxing when he heard both him and Hannibal being unstrapped from the two-wheeler once they reached the showers. Barney prompted them forward toward a door leading to a small locker room, the humidity from the hot water even more suffocating inside. Will entered first with the other orderly, Barney understandably wanting to direct Hannibal himself rather than have an assistant do so. Will was directed to the right of the small locker room and was told to undress after the straitjacket had been removed, while Hannibal was directed to the left. Will kept his eyes fixated at a black and chrome lock that was tethered to the locker directly in front of him, hotness spreading from his face down his neck from embarrassment. Disassociating once more, a flash of himself entered his mind as if he saw his form from above, short dark curls shaking with the effort of undressing as well as anxiety, his pale skin mottled with red in blotches from both the humiliation as well as from his running.

“Count your breaths, Will.” A soft, accented whisper found his ear, the deep rumble of Hannibal’s voice soothing. Will heard himself then, his breaths shaking and increasing in rate. Although he was breathing fast and hard, Will felt like he was choking, the anxiety crushing the air out of his chest. He closed his eyes and counted, four counts in, seven counts holding, eight counts exhaling, and then removed the prison scrubs. Will thought that the electricity of Hannibal’s gaze would rake all over his skin as he stripped, naked and bare, his form at Hannibal’s disposal, but thankfully it wasn’t there. Will realized then, as he was continuing his breathing, that it should have been more embarrassing, Hannibal obviously hearing him start to hyperventilate out of panic. Will was surprised to not feel more ashamed for his weakness rather than his naked form, but the easy tone of Hannibal’s consolation lessened that inclination. Will’s empathy felt interrupted by his immediate stress, but Hannibal’s offering of help had been sincere.

Both now undressed, Barney asked the assistant to wait outside, feeling comfortable enough supervising them both. Hannibal finished first, heading past Will’s peripherals and into the shower area, his head held up regally and unashamed. Will meekly followed Hannibal, trying to watch where he was going without seeing too much, still habitually counting his breaths. Hannibal walked up straight and confident, no hesitation in his stride, his posture impeccable. Will’s breath was still shaky, and through his shame tried to emulate Hannibal’s poise. He raised his head to face the communal showering area, the breathing exercise relieving some of the stress. He strode as he thought Hannibal might, feeling light on his feet, his jaw set. Barney was behind them both, and he gave them permission to turn the water on.

Will reached to turn the faucet as Hannibal did, jerking back slightly at the cold water that had settled in the pipes. He could feel goose bumps rise on his skin defensively, but after a few seconds, the water was pleasantly hot. He was facing the shower head, content with the steaming hot water that was spraying all over his face, letting the water douse his dark curls and make its way down his body. Will stood there, losing his anxieties and stress with the running of the water, feeling his troubles dissipating and running out of his body and cascading down the drain. After a few minutes Barney interrupted his contentment, telling him that they were only allowed a maximum of 10 minutes for their shower and that he should start washing. Will raised a hand to his face to wipe at his brow and eyes before reaching for the bar of soap that had been lying on a small divot inside the shower wall next to a small tube of shampoo. He scrubbed at himself quickly, having spent a majority of his time finding haven in the steaming water. He rinsed, turning his body against the stream to rinse, trying not to peek toward Hannibal, but failing.

Will could see that Hannibal was now mirroring his behavior earlier, facing the shower head with his eyes closed and his angular face relaxed. Will could also feel that Hannibal was relishing the water, his enjoyment almost rolling off of him in waves, and he wondered what of Hannibal’s troubles washed down the drain to mix with his. Hannibal’s olive skin shined with the water, some reluctant beads clinging to the curves of his eyelashes, shoulders, ribs, and back. Hannibal was thinner than he had been when he was first arrested, looking lean but not malnourished. Some muscle definition was there naturally with his leanness, but he wasn’t sharply toned. Will wondered how many days at a time Hannibal would go not eating what they were serving, considering his culinary preferences as well as personal genius in the field. Will’s eyes landed on some scars that were scattered across his abdomen, remembering that Jack had managed to stab and shoot him in defense after receiving a curving smile-shaped wound; a macabre eye for an eye scenario. Will turned around completely, feeling guilty for staring but also recognizing the human propensity to stare, so he let the water beat against his back, calculating that they only had two minutes left of water time. He’ll forgo washing his hair until Friday.

The expression on Hannibal’s face reminded Will of someone enjoying something particularly captivating, and music swirled into his head from nowhere, deep cello notes twirling in between the on and off calls of the orchestra, the song dying as soon as it started. Will thought that Hannibal may have been playing music in his head, this specific intuition not new to him. The times before when they were speaking, it often felt like Hannibal was there but not, or that he might have been busying himself with something, remembering Hannibal’s drawings. Will heard Hannibal turn the water off, breathe deeply in and letting it out slowly, and his hand idly sliding through his wet hair. Will turned to do the same, opting out for turning toward Hannibal rather than give him his back. He forgave Hannibal’s glance, his front lighting with fire, Will more distracted in his lament of the loss of water. Why not give Hannibal another drawing, considering he peeked, too?

As Will was turning back, feeling Hannibal peering quickly at the stab wound at his shoulder, he looked at Hannibal once more, watching his chest rise and fall with his breathing. Feeling brave, his eyes jumped up to his face, seeing Hannibal also decide to look at him at that moment, his long eyelashes revealing his intense maroon stare. Will was sure that Hannibal also looked away, but couldn’t be certain considering how fast he set his head elsewhere, as well has the fact that he could still feel the gaze resting against his face, white hot. Will stepped forward first, the anxieties before now muted by the chill that was starting to replace his skin. Barney had a small white towel for each of them, asking them to dry off in here before they go back to the locker room.

Will started with his hair, scrubbing at his shortened curls, and then started to make his way down his body. Hannibal’s electricity found him again then, skating quickly across his wet back and sides, disappearing when Hannibal also went to dry his hair, and then reappearing in a fleeting consistency, seemingly following the towel. Will closed his eyes and tipped forward slightly, running the towel up and down his muscular calves, the hair standing on end after he was finished. Hannibal was kind enough not to look at his behind, but when Will went to dry his thighs, he could feel his gaze grazing against them with the towel. He finished by wrapping the towel around his waist, feeling sufficiently dry.

Food was waiting in the rolling food carriers upon their return, the timing odd with lunch. Warm and dressed, the feeling of rushing water still clinging to his skin, Will looked at the food and sent it back through, not waiting for Barney to make his way up the corridor.

“You gotta eat something, Will. We are required to make sure that you eat, by whatever means necessary.” Barney took the tray regardless, adding, “I’ll put some appetite inducing medication with your supper. Please try to eat something; it doesn’t have to be much.”

Will nodded and apologized softly as Barney walked away with his tray, but even with the reprimand, he didn’t plan on eating his supper either.

Chapter Text

“Trust is tricky and fickle; it’s hard to earn and easy to lose. I imagine you also spend a lot of time building walls, Hannibal, considering how detailed your fashioned person suit is.”

Hannibal almost blanched, feeling his eyebrows rise slightly at his subtle shock. He didn’t often lose composure, and it was difficult to surprise him, if ever, but Will’s astute observation shot to the core of him. He felt his own words adamantly at Will’s unyielding perception, realizing more how truly nice it is when someone sees us, and Hannibal was starting to feel the weighted prickle of recognition. He saw that Will out of anybody would be the person who could truly understand him, see him for what he was. Hannibal, learning to do so early in life, was always guarded and veiled, creating not only walls for people to climb over but intricate labyrinths only for the worthy to get through.

As well as knowing the necessity behind guarding himself, Hannibal knew and saw that the majority of the demographic don’t look kindly towards people like him, and over time he has perfected his infiltration into society, specifically high class society. Along with the unfamiliar stirrings of recognition came simultaneously the feelings of growing curiosity towards Will’s perspective of him and his so-called anomalies, as well as the need to continually shield himself from sight. These opposing feelings reminded Hannibal of the false sense of security people and animals tend to feel in corners; no one can come up behind you unexpectedly, but there is also nowhere else to run. Trust is indeed fickle, Hannibal unable to say it better himself. His escalating interest in Will made him momentarily forget his pursuit toward Jack Crawford. Hannibal had been accurate before when he initially thought that his interest would eventually become inconvenient.

Hannibal couldn’t quite see where his loyalties lay at this point in their relationship, so early on and yet feeling not so, the intensity between them palpable at the first glance they shared. Now a condemned agent of the law, Will had the potential for deep dislike toward the institution, which could aid Hannibal in his pursuits later on. The idea that Will could, and can with his empathy, come around to his kind of thinking rather than whatever quoted social honor he learned with Crawford pleased him immensely when he thought about it. Will has the potential, even with the deep-rooted morals that Hannibal knew he lived by. He was already displaying his own brand and style of murder, even if the style depended on another seasoned killer. That specific thought was enthralling, Hannibal seeing the possibilities he had seen earlier this week when discovering his gift, but also remembering to quiet his mind at the ruminating thoughts. With Will’s empathy, Hannibal realized how careful he needed to be with his thoughts and emotions, imagining that Will would be able to see them resonating and blurring the immediate air around him.

Along with the sound of returning inmates came a startled breath inward from the next cell, noises seeming to easily start Will’s nerves. Hannibal inwardly grinned at the possible sight of Will shocked by the buzzer indicating the cease of exercise time in the gymnasium. Reflecting inwardly at himself, he also recognized the beginning of excitement stirring inside of his abdomen, expectation and anticipation prickling the insides of him. Hannibal relished the moments outside of his cell, even with being strapped in the two-wheeler and under constant armed supervision. There are moments in the path to the exercise room when Hannibal could glimpse through a window to see the sky, the turning trees, and the occasional dusting of snow. Although he thought his lawyer was pursuing a foolish endeavor with the administration when it came to the amenities he would be receiving, he was thankful enough to be able to walk, to really stretch his legs and burn off energy, and the 10 minutes of steaming hot water that he was going to stand under. Hannibal was more thankful now than ever before, considering who his company was going to be. Multiple Migg’s had been his previous partner, and he often masturbated in the shower, gaining a quick orgasm before the guard could stop him.

“Hello, Will. Glad to see you up. I trust you slept well?”

“Fine, thanks.” Hannibal grinned at Will’s tone, getting the impression that he was tired of having to act socially courteous.

“Wednesday’s and Friday’s are exercise days, as I’m sure you’ve been told,” Hannibal felt the attention on him, his smirk staying in place. “So, I’m going to ask you to do some things for me so I can get you into your harness. If you fail to cooperate, I will use force. Understand?” Hannibal had found out the hard way that even though Barney was his favorite and they had grown to be relatively friendly, he would use force. With his size and weight, he had broken Hannibal’s collar bone in a struggle to get him off the nurse that was giving him a physical. Her cheek and part of her tongue was the reward well worth the pain of a broken bone.

“Crystal.”

“Good, thank you. Could you lay on your cot face up with your arms crossed on top of your chest?” Hearing the command, Hannibal laid down with Will, guessing by sound at his neighbor’s actions. He heard a reluctant breath escape Will, the sounds of the straitjacket slipping into place, and Will’s displeasure at the mask.

Hannibal didn’t need to be told to do much, maintaining the pleasantries that he was sure Will was already tired of. Hannibal tried to be as low maintenance and as bothersome as he possibly could be in here. When it came to Barney and some of his assistant orderlies, he was respected and respectful enough to follow orders without much complaint. When it came to the administration, however, his purposeful demands to Chilton and his lawyer were as hiddenly grand as he had dared, his grandest victory yet the exercise room, considering the cost of the gymnasium. His lawyer had framed the pitch with a statistical glory that the administration for the hospital couldn’t really refuse.

The moment he could, Hannibal looked up at Will, seeing his eyes closed tight against a reddening face, and he glancing around at his jacketed body strapped tight against the dolly. The straps were tethered down, his prison romper puffing slightly after the edges of the straps. Hannibal could tell he was mentally counting his breaths as he was instructed to do before, and he felt a satisfaction wash over him. The fact that Will decided to continue following his suggested direction toward anxiety relief settled warmly inside of Hannibal, staying inside his abdomen as they both started their journey to the gymnasium.

Like clockwork, Hannibal turned his head in a routine of glances. He mostly looked for the windows that let him glimpse the outside world, but when there were none, there were some decently reconstructed paintings of soothing images, imitation hospitalities inside this hospital. His favorite pieces to gaze at were some recreations of the Water Lilies Series by Monet, three of the approximately 250 oil paintings by the French impressionist artist hanging delicately on one of the walls, although not particularly the best ones. He looked at Will in that moment, seeing the top of his dark curls momentarily framed by the Monet’s, and an image surged into his head. Hannibal saw them standing together in an ancient museum with Will’s head angled up toward the lights, the light casting chocolate highlights in his dark hair, scrutinizing the Monet paintings that hung in front of them with bright eyes squinting under dark brows.

“Will, you alright?” Barney’s voice broke him of his momentary reverie. They had stopped a little way past the Monet paintings, Will defensively hanging his head low to his body. He didn’t stir when the orderlies made to undo his bindings, taking a few seconds before hesitantly stepping off the dolly.

“I’ll explain a few things before you head in. First, you have 30 minutes inside. There is some heavy supervision, officers armed with batons and mace, so I suggest you keep to your side of the ring. Dr. Lecter will also be in the room with you, staying to his side of the ring. Running is discouraged, unless you and Lecter discuss otherwise. As soon as you enter, someone will connect your jacket to a pulley system in the ceiling to prevent you from going over the red security line. As soon as you reach the farthest side of the ring, I’ll let Dr. Lecter in. Do you have any questions?” Will shook his head at Barney.

Then, styptic and smooth, Will turned his head delicately towards Hannibal, peering at him over his shoulder. Piercing blue met his bloody maroon, and Hannibal couldn’t help breathing in at the feeling of Will’s own sharp intensity. An eye for an eye, Hannibal aware that his gaze was completely scrutinizing, making people often feel unnerved and vulnerable.

“If it is alright with you, I would like to be able to run.” Hannibal inwardly bristled in a pleasurable way at soft-voiced Will asking for permission, his head dropping and his gaze obscured slightly through eyelashes. The image burned deep into Hannibal, his timid manner and hesitance attractive on a person that had the capabilities for great violence.

“If you wish, Will.” Hannibal politely inclined his head with his approval, finding personal excitement to run a little, but his eyes angled up with the descent, not wanting to lose sight of Will. Their glances lingered, more images collecting inside of Hannibal’s mind with each passing second. He felt a surge of anticipation toward the art he was going to create once he was back in his cell, his mind desiring the erosion of the unexplored form of Will.

Will turned away from him and entered the gymnasium. Hannibal watched him start to jog from the doorway, waiting until he was almost half way around the exercise arena before entering. The officer leashed his straitjacket, and Hannibal started at a decent pace, consciously trying to match their echoing footfalls. Hannibal was content with viewing Will’s bound form run, watching contentment settle over him and habitual running and breathing habits being implemented. Hannibal figured he wouldn’t be able to run long, Will refusing most food since he arrived here, but Hannibal was pleasantly surprised that Will, as well as himself, jogged for 15 minutes straight. Seeing Will decrease in speed, wary of the officers and their desires to approach an inmate under any possible circumstance, he timed his steps, both halting and walking at the same time, both puffing from the effort. The smell of Will’s perspiration was strong now after the running, Hannibal sniffing at the air keenly while running behind him.

Will peered over at him then, slightly surprising Hannibal at his initiative. The piercing of his gaze found his face and skirted around his hairline, the glances attaching to the small beads of sweat that clung there. Hannibal returned his glance, and Will looked away as expected, either unable to handle his gaze, or simply afraid to. Hannibal consulted the antique wooden clock inside of the first room of his memory palace, excited in a conflicting way that it was almost the end of their exercise time. As suspected, Will’s whole body twitched with shock of the horridly loud alarm, the buzzing call echoing around the gymnasium, Hannibal feeling it within his chest as it screamed. Will’s eyes were thankfully dead set ahead of him, Hannibal unable to hide a small smirk that pulled at his lips.

The scent of powdery soap was floating heavy on the humid air in front of the locker room, causing Hannibal to recall the images of little Mischa in her shining copper tub. Hannibal blinked them out of view, instead preferring to watch Will become untethered to the two-wheeler. His body was vibrating, his chest already heaving, and Hannibal watched his shortened curls shake as they walked into the locker room. Used to the ways of the hospital, Hannibal felt calm but eager to be out of the straitjacket. As soon as he could feel it loosen, he worked on getting it off as well as his prison romper. Through the sounds of the coarse fabric sliding off of his form, Will’s shaky breaths sped up to an alarming rate. Hannibal used his peripherals to look at the assistant orderly that had been driving and directing Will, seeing a glazed nonchalance look. He could also see Will with minimal effort on his eyes, Will’s partially exposed body brilliantly pink instead of his normally creamy skin, beads of sweat clinging his temple and neck from the run and increasing panic.

“Count your breaths, Will.” A whispered suggestion he hoped Will would take again, having been good enough to implement it before. Hannibal dipped his head at the rouse of taking off his remaining garments, happy to see Will stop and close his eyes, collecting his calm like a survivor collects dew. Hannibal, although tempted to look at a more exposed Will, took his peripherals off him as he took the plunge and purged the remainder of his clothes.

After Barney had asked the nonchalant assistant to leave, Hannibal padded ahead, feeling the cold ceramic floor stick lightly to the bottoms of his feet as he walked. Hannibal tried his best to purposefully exude his confidence outward by appearance and mental prowess, idly wondering whether Will would be able to feel it, maybe latch onto it for strength. Hannibal held his head high, his back naturally straight, honest in his lack of shame. The piercing of Will’s glances didn’t find him wholly, Will trying to navigate the showers without gawking. Hannibal had a mixed appreciation to Will’s hesitance to stare, feeling grateful considering his last cell neighbor who openly mocked.

Hannibal wasn’t able to tell whether he had reached for the water at the same time as Will did, or the other way around. They had been identical, and Hannibal felt pleased at the prospect of them falling into the same movements so early on. It had briefly reminded him of the movements made by the coup de ballet, the body of the ballet who aims to be identical. Music from Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird burst into his head at the thought, meek at first but consistently building. The frigid standing water was welcomed against his hot flesh, growing cold while resting inside the pipes. Not long after, both shower heads pumping steamy water, the showering area became suffocating with the humidity. Hannibal washed in a quick and routine manner, grabbing the bar and scrubbing at his body with the powdery soap. Leaving some of the suds on him, Hannibal then grabbed the small tube of shampoo, no conditioner, and washed his hair, rinsing both his head and the rest of his body to conserve time.

Hannibal took notice that Will in all that time had been silent and still, his breathing no longer panicked, eased at the sensation of hot water. Hannibal could almost feel his non-presence, his mind obviously lost within the comfort. Barney’s high-pitched voice seemed to jar Will into action, the sounds of his sudden, swift washing mingling with the Stravinsky that was still filling his head. Hannibal breathed in rough and deep, feeling like he needed more air considering the humidity.

Done with washing completely, Hannibal imitated the stillness of Will and stood with his eyes closed toward the shower head, letting the hot water beat on his face and neck, enjoying the feeling of the water rolling and trickling down and against the contours of his body, mentally following the sensations all the way down his chest, stomach, thighs and feet. While he was mindfully tracking the water against his body, Hannibal became aware that some of the sensations weren’t from the hot water or his mental tracking, but from the shy, piercing glances of Will next to him. Hannibal kept his face relaxed and his eyes closed, feigning ignorance, not wanting to discourage Will’s natural curiosity. The piercing of his gaze hovered on his face and danced against his eyelashes, then quickly darting down and around his body. Will’s eyes moved very quickly, seeing much in a short amount of time.

Will’s eyes lingered longest on the series of scars that were decorating most of his abdomen, his fight with Jack Crawford fierce. As the piercing of Will’s glass blue eyes touched his scars, Hannibal remembered the sensations of them fresh and open, the improvised antiqued weapon Jack had found in his office lodged deep into his middle, accompanied by a scattering of gunfire in his sides and shoulder when he saw that Hannibal was still capable of rising. Hannibal knew he had been luckily, and his hospital stay had been long and tedious before his damnation here at the BSHCI.

Will’s piercing glances moved back to his face, taking in Hannibal’s relaxed and pleasurable expression, and Hannibal discovered he was sad at having to break both of their reveries, the wooden clock chiming time. Hannibal reached forward to turn the water off as Barney directed them to, breathing in the powdery smell of soap as well as the scent of Will, him having decided to not wash his hair. The water molecules seemed to absorb Will’s scent, Hannibal noting scents of nature decidedly, akin to earth after a thunderstorm.

Hannibal ran the water off his face and slid this wet hair back in a tight fashion, squeezing most of the excess water out with his hands and down his body. To his pleasure, Will turned and faced Hannibal to turn the water off, giving Hannibal his front completely, him unable to resist the offering. Will’s form was nimbler than his prison overalls had made him seem, muscular and lean. He was shining in front of Hannibal from the water, droplets decorating the edges and points of him, hair heavy with water but unable to subdue the curls completely. Hannibal thought he looked better with his shorter hair and stubble, finding his own earlier assumptions of a healthier and lively him accurate enough.

He felt a swift pleasure at the scar at Will’s shoulder, taking in and medically evaluating the trauma. Will began turning back to him then, and always polite, Hannibal looked away. The piercing of Will’s gaze however drew his eyes back, and Hannibal’s blood integrated into Will’s water unexpectedly, their eyes meeting with devastating intensity. Will didn’t like eye contact, and that had been clear to Hannibal almost right away. With Will’s empathy disorder, as well as his personal neuroses, he could postulate that eye contact was too stimulating for Will, him seeing too much too quickly, both physically as well as mentally. Will stepped forward first to take one of the hospital white towels that Barney had over his shoulder. Hannibal couldn’t resist taking in the back of him, making sure to peer through his peripherals again. Not only was Hannibal growing more conscious about keep his inclinations intact, but he was also wary of Barney.

Hannibal dried his hair and his body, skating more glances at Will’s moving form, watching him towel at his wet skin, personally finding his physique more spectacular in more than one sense as he looked at it. Inspiration was blooming hot in his chest and fingertips, enthusiastic at the idea of getting back to his cell and butcher paper. When Will bent forward to dry his legs, Hannibal finished his scrutiny, business like in his own drying. Hannibal finished first, despite Will grabbing the towel before him, and they were both directed into the locker room where washed undergarments and overalls were waiting, haphazardly folded on the bench.

Hannibal’s trip back to the pit was a trip of mirrored routine glances like before, seeking the light of freedom outside. He could smell the food in the upper levels of the hospital, the two-wheeler following the scent down into the corridor. The food was lukewarm by the time they returned, and Hannibal only politely reached in to grab the bread, pacifying Barney enough for him to grab his tray and walk back toward the guards’ office.

“You gotta eat something, Will. We are required to make sure that you eat, by whatever means necessary.” The threat was there, and Hannibal knew that Barney meant it. “I’ll put some appetite inducing medication with your supper. Please try to eat something; it doesn’t have to be much.” Will mumbled an apology, but Hannibal got the impression that he didn’t mean it.

Hannibal waited until the corridor stopped vibrating with Barney’s activity before walking to his desk and sliding onto the chrome bench, finding his felt-tipped marker and butcher paper with a fervor he hadn’t felt since before his imprisonment. Ready to draw, and water still on the mind, Hannibal filled the silence with Jeux D'eaux by Ravel, a solo piano piece that was dedicated to his teacher Gabriel Fauré and inspired by Franz Liszt’s own Les jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este. Hannibal started to write on the top of his fresh butcher paper, his curling, elegant handwriting spelling out ‘Dieu fluvial riant de l'eau qui le chatouille’, just like the manuscript of the Ravel music. Although the temptation to slip completely into his mind palace was there, considering the past year he had been continually seeking out his comforts inside, Will proposed a better alternative to slipping away from reality.

Adding to his Caravaggio inspired drawings, Hannibal began sketching Will, starting from how he looked upon immediately seeing him, eyes closed tight in defense of all the possible inevitable horrors he’d be having to face. His lines were measured out and plotted precisely, most of the time finishing a picture he already had seared into his mind. Hannibal emphasized how Will’s prison romper puffed lightly after each of the tight straps, the fabric before the strap pressing against Will’s solid body. He also accentuated the beads of moisture that clung to the inside of Will’s clear mask, and he tried to captured the way Will’s eye muscles fluttered whenever he had his eyes closed, seeing behind the blankness. To the sides of the sketch, not wanting to waste any of Will’s paper, he completed view of Will scrutinizing the Monet painting, his profile prominent among the stone of the museum walls behind him. The sounds of his sketching fell wonderfully with the music, the butcher paper limiting his ability to sketch quietly to any degree.

As the rest of the day went on, he continued to spend quite a lot of time on the series of drawings depicting Will’s form. He had quickly sketched various images of his running form, strangled by the jacket, parts of the fabric stretched tight against him with his movements. As Hannibal progressed with his drawings, he was realizing that Will was a natural beauty, effortlessly artful. His shapes were hidden by his public appearance, the public prejudices sticking to him. Hannibal thought that in the outside world, Will wasn’t a stranger to social awkwardness, often acting out of the norm whether he meant to or not.

Finishing the scene of Will inside the gymnasium, Hannibal switched to another sheet of butcher paper, excitement gently nudging his heart at the prospect of recreating his naked body. Hannibal spent the most time on these drawings, plotting cautiously and consciously, undesiring for any mistake. Will’s body was wonderful to recreate, the lines feeling attractive under his hand and in his fingers. Hannibal was just starting to emphasize the unmistakable stab wound that Will had on his shoulder, the scar revealing the trauma in his mind, when Will woke up with a coughing breath. He rose noisily from his cot, clamoring to the sink. It splashed on violently, and Hannibal heard the water being muted by a hand or mouth as desperate gulps of tap water were drunk.

Hannibal continued with his art, music rampant in his mind, interest plaguing his heart for the mysteries of Will’s past trauma.

“What are you drawing, Dr. Lecter?” Will’s voice sliced through the pastoral movement of Symphony No. 6 in A minor by Mahler, and Hannibal smiled.

Chapter Text

Will often dreamt of water, both during the day and at night, whether it was fishing or otherwise. There was one river he usually visited, not knowing if it was a place from his memory or a place he had dreamt up. The calm, shining river called to him, begged him to enter its depths. He took off his clothes, eager to dive and submerge himself in the cold quiet. He was floating on his back, letting the soft currents run and twirl over the edges and plains of his body. It seemed as soon as solitary refuge was found, he heard a thunderous noise reverberating through the water from behind. He turned around too late to protect himself from an enormous tidal wave that rushed and crashed over his body, the river revealing its expansive, abyss-like ocean depths, the black water pulling him under and threatening to drown him.

Despite his dream, he woke up with a dire thirst, desperate for the water that had been down his throat. Will turned the sink on and dipped his hands under the splattering stream, desperately gulping palms of water. Unsurprisingly, the water tasted as bitter as the coffee he had tried to drink earlier. Feeling better now that his stomach was full of cool water, Will stretched, feeling the muscles of his body taut from the arduous run and sudden rest.

Over the sounds of his own movement, he heard the soft crinkling of the amenity butcher paper. Remembering his exhibitionism for Dr. Lecter when he was out of his cell, he didn’t find the sound surprising. Suddenly, he became aware that he could feel the lines of his body being drawn and transferred on the paper, Hannibal’s hand paying tribute. The sensation was odd, like someone was running their fingers constantly down and around all his shapes like the water in his dream.

“What are you drawing, Dr. Lecter?”

“I have a feeling that you know exactly what I’m drawing.” Will could feel Hannibal’s tone was dripped in knowing pleasure.

“I saw cityscape drawings hanging in your cell earlier. Did you really draw all of those?” He elected for not commenting on Hannibal’s sharp insight, him being wholly correct. Will felt that the hairs on his body were standing on end, bunching uncomfortably under his romper.

“I did, yes. It’s a good way to keep the better memories alive and unforgotten, and in here, memories are all that we really have.” Will wondered about the horrors Hannibal didn’t draw, wondered past the crime analysis and profile that he had already drawn up for Jack. He spent most of his time trying to understand Hannibal’s killings, picking out possible clues and common behavioral patterns for the capture, but he hardly spent time thinking before that or past that. Now, he couldn’t tell if he was too afraid to.

The usual clatter of yelling patients and squeaking wheels announced dinner, and Will felt a small spasm of regret at sleeping his time away after his run and shower. As promised, although forgotten by Will, a paper cup holding some small white pills was delivered with his food. The white pills had a black RL printed on the front, and he recognized it as Dronabinal, which surprised him.

“You’ll have to take those here in front of me, unless you want to try and eat your food on your own.” Barney’s tone was kind enough, Will understanding that he ultimately wanted to help more than he had an obligation to help.

He lifted the tray and the cup from the food carrier, tipping the cup back and dry swallowing the two small pills. After showing his mouth, feeling absurd as he lifted his tongue, he turned around to sit on his chrome desk gingerly, still remembering the bolt that was loose in the ground. Once he heard Barney speak to Hannibal, Will fished the pills out of his mouth, drying them off with his shirt and palming them.

Will took a large gulp of breath and began to eat his food swiftly, trying his best not to let the tastes linger on his tongue for too long. He ate what he thought would be enough to pacify the administration, dumping the tray back into the food carrier only a few minutes after Barney and the squealing cart left the corridor. The sensations on his body never halted, even with the arrival of dinner, Hannibal never stopping his sketching. Will strained his ears and confirmed the marker was still on the butcher paper.

“Did you take the Dronabinal?” Hannibal asked, amusement in his voice. Hannibal must have been given it before.

“Barney thought I did. I’m surprised they would use something like that. Isn’t Dronabinal a man-made form of Tetrahydrocannabinol?”

“Correct, it is. My educated guess is that other appetite inducing medicine that are on site here would be some form of antidepressant, and they often have adverse effects with existing medications. What are you going to do with your pills? Saving them for a rainy day?”

“Or something like that, yeah.” A dry chuckle lead his sentence, Hannibal’s gentle humor appreciated. Then, surprising himself, he prompted, “They gave me two, would you like one?”

Hannibal’s laughter was soft and light as he contemplated. “I appreciate the sentiment, but must decline all the same. I wouldn’t say no to a glass of Bâtard-Montrachet if you happen to have one.”

“If only.” Will sighed, remembering his attempts at buying and saving decent bottles of scotch and whiskey. Toward the end of his freedom, he was enjoying at least two glasses of three finger widths before bed, ruining his attempts completely.

Remembering the fire that whiskey would ignite in his stomach and settle heavy into his limbs, he looked at the slightly deteriorated pills and gulped them down. He heard Hannibal chuckle, and wondered if it was possible that Hannibal could see him.

An hour passed wordlessly, the sensations of Hannibal drawing his body numbing with the Dronabinal, although giving birth to feelings completely different. Barney came to collect the trays, finding Will relaxed on his cot, his eyelids heavy but open, sleep tempting him again even though he just woke up.

“You feeling any better, Will? I’m happy to see that you ate quite a bit.”

“I feel fine, thanks. Just tired now.”

Once Barney was clear, Will prompted conversation again.

“Have you really been drawing me since we got back?” Will’s voice was quiet with fatigue, but he felt bolder in his tiredness, his inhibitions lowered slightly.

“I have, yes.” Will found he was thankful for the truth.

“I was feeling you draw me, even before the pills. I’ve felt it since I woke up.”

“…And you are sure that isn’t the Dronabinal talking, Will?” More humor in Hannibal’s voice, which Will grabbed onto gratefully.

“You’ve spent the most time on the scar on my shoulder. You’ve been almost… delicate with it. It hardly hurts anymore, although now I think that you’ve been drawing my hands. Either that, or it is the Dronabinal.” In an almost stereotypical manner, he lifted his hands in front of his face, the drug making him hyper-aware of his body, the bone frame of him, the skin draped over.

“You’re not going to lecture me on using drugs recreationally, are you, Doctor?”

“Hardly. There are those psychiatrists who believe altered states are highly beneficial to the recovery process. I’ve known professionals who use psilocybin in a safe manner to help patients recover traumatic memories, as well as supplement them with positive associations. Infusing psilocybin into the bloodstream before psychotherapy can elicit a positive, even spiritual, experience for patients. May I ask what happened?” Hannibal asked abruptly, and he didn’t confirm or deny that he was drawing Will’s hands. Will wanted to believe he was correct.

“I have a feeling that you know exactly what happened.” Will smiled hazily as he used Hannibal’s words.

“You were stabbed.”

“Yeah, when I was working homicide in Louisiana. Nothing I have compares to the scars that you have, though.” He could feel his scar twitch now, the memory relapsing old sensations through his shoulder.

“Do you find that when you reflect on your experiences that you are grateful for it?” Hannibal asked.

“For what? My scars?”

“Our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real. It anchors us. We all need to be anchored.”

“I think I feel more tethered than anchored to my past. My more recent past, anyway.” Will’s stomach filled with dread, the memories of all the dead floating into his mind, as well as the recollection of Dr. Chilton’s therapy session that was scheduled for tomorrow.

“Would you desire to be untethered, uncontrolled by your past?” His voice was like a deadly whisper, a fatal promise.

“Depends on what it even is. I’m in a position of both fortune and misfortune. I want to know, but I’m thankful that I don’t. The feeling is akin to being cornered, both safe and vulnerable.” Will closed his eyes against the rising anxiety, trying to find comfort behind the darkness of his eyelids. “Can I assume that you feel grateful for your scars, Dr. Lecter? I personally would see them as a permanent reminder of my own failure.”

It took a moment for him to answer, as if Hannibal had been distracted by something else in that moment. When he spoke, Hannibal’s tone was surprisingly light for the question.

“Do you think I failed?”

“You got caught.”

“And that means that I failed?”

“…For now, at least.” Will conceded. Hannibal beat all odds with his insanity plea and he would be confined for the rest of his life. If he is ever declared sane, he would have to stand trial on nine or more counts of first-degree murder, with an abundance of evidence against him. This didn’t necessarily mean that Hannibal was out for the count. The idea of Hannibal escaping into the world again made his hair stand on end.

“Yes. For now.” Hannibal said, a smile evident through his tone.

Comfort from his anxiety arrived with the feeling of fingers embedding in his curls, a soothing, stroking motion electric on his scalp, causing Will to fall asleep.

 

Will roused from a deep and dreamless rest, blinking a few times into the impenetrable darkness. It took him a little longer than normal to realize that his eyes were open and blinking, but that the lights were out. Rising, unsure of what had woken him, he relieved himself for the first time in his cell, deciding not to flush for fear of disturbing the other inmates. He turned around unsteady in the dark and was reentering his bed when he heard soft moaning and muttering coming from Hannibal’s cell. After another gasp and a grunt, Will recognized the nightmare sounds, deciding those were the noises that must had roused him.

Will laid and listened to Hannibal’s struggle, half-formed words sounding gibberish to him, some being spoken in a different language. After a strangled yelp, and a loud, beckoning for ‘MISCHA!’, Will heard Hannibal sit up on his cot, panting.

“Are you alright?” Will whispered, wondering if Hannibal would even be able to hear him.

“I’m fine, thank you.” Hannibal breathlessly whispered back, the terror still clinging onto him palpably. Will could feel the fear from his cot, a sharp stabbing deep in his chest accompanied by a profound longing.

 Will found his curiosity strange, recognizing that he wanted to know about what he dreamt, and remembering his revelation toward Hannibal’s past life and undoubtedly the horrors of his earlier years. The deep wounding of Hannibal’s nightmare ebbed away to reveal a familiar embarrassment. Will, used to nightmares of his own, understood the chagrin. Nightmares are typically outgrown in adult years, but apparently, stick to the traumatized.

It wasn’t too long until the lights shuddering on, signaling a new day. The food cart squeaked down the corridor, bringing the tempting smells of breakfast. Will couldn’t understand how food that smelled decent could taste so bad, but he took the tray and ate as much as he dared, his stomach fearing the impending session with Dr. Chilton. The coffee was steaming attractively, but remembering his mistake last time, he didn’t touch it.

Barney wasn’t alone to collect the trays, an orderly readied with the inmate transportation dolly, straitjacket thrown casually over his shoulder. Will remembered the steps from yesterday, preemptively laying face up on his cot with his arms visible.

Each bump and shift of the dolly sent shots of dread to his gut, mixing poorly with the food. As they approached Dr. Chilton’s office, he appeared outside the door, opening it for them, Will almost believing that his dread must have summoned him. Will started to ready for the orderly to touch and handle him out of his jacket, when he locked the dolly wheels and left the office.

“Good morning, Mr. Graham. I have to say, I’ve expected you to come to my office for some time now, but I never could have imagined it would be like this.” Dr. Chilton’s smile roused an anger inside of Will. He must have been waiting for so long to say that.

“You know, it would be a really wise decision to not insult your patients if you expect their cooperation.”

“I’m sorry, did I insult you?”

“Just being here is an insult.” Will looked around Dr. Chilton’s office, a mixture of inability and lack of desire making it difficult to look directly at Dr. Chilton and his smile.

“I thought we could start our sessions with doing some tests. I can see here that you refused to do any of the standard psychopathology tests upon your apprehension. Dr. Bloom took some very interesting notes on you, and they’ve been more or less helpful, but I’d prefer for us to complete the tests and go from there. I’ll read aloud some prompts and situations to you, and I want you to answer as best as possible.”

Will sighed, almost bored and definitely irritated with this situation.

“True or false, you are glib and superficially charming?” Dr. Chilton started, Will unable to stop himself from rolling his eyes.

“I’m not going to play along with you, Chilton.” Will’s voice was deep with warning, his eyes shaking with his contained, shackled displeasure.

“And fortunately for you, I don’t have anywhere else I need to be. True or false, Mr. Graham?”

“I can’t possibly determine that. How would I know your schedule?” Will retorted, looking up just in time to see Dr. Chilton’s face fall and eyebrows knit together with his lack of cooperation.

“Do you consider yourself to have a grandiose sense of self-worth?” Dr. Chilton continued. Will, feeling brave in his anger, looked at him in the eyes.

“I am not playing this game.” Dr. Chilton haltered, his jaw clenching before he started to speak again.

“Do you fail at accepting the responsibility for your own actions? Well, I suppose even if you don’t cooperate, I can answer that one for you.”

Sweet, complete blackness entered Will’s vision then, his anger slipping away into its inky depths.

---

 

Deep in the pit, Hannibal laid stone still on his cot, the organized chaos of his art surrounding and flowing into him, the walls more covered with beauty than they had been before. Will Graham continued to be an amazement to Hannibal, his current reminiscing’s of their prior conversations solidifying this fact from fiction and assumption. He was finding tranquility in his ink strokes, in the carved-out form of Will Graham, when a noise floated down and mingled in the air around him, heavy and tasting like lightning. The surrounding inmates reactionary shuffling didn’t fall on Hannibal’s ears, and neither did the orderlies’ rough attempts at initiating calm.

A great, primal screaming was all that Hannibal could hear. He knew without seeing that it was coming from Will Graham’s mouth, and Hannibal hoped that the scream was bellowing past stained teeth.

---

 

Will woke up, his mouth tasting like blood, his throat ripped and his muscles atrophied from sedation. He knew even in the dark that he wasn’t in his cell, wasn’t anywhere that he had been before. Straining, he found himself untethered to the bed below, lifting his torso to cut through the thick darkness. The space felt small around him as he swung his legs to drape over the edge of the bed. Shaking, he rose, his head immediately swimming and humming full of rushing blood. Will staggered forward, only taking two steps before he fell against the opposite wall, confirming that the space must have been only as wide as he was tall.

Nausea reared its ugly head, swelling up into his chest and throat. Will groped in the dark, finding a bedpan and promptly vomiting into it.

Footsteps, hushed voices and flickering memories was all Will Graham had for three days in the dark. Most of the time, he knew the voices, concentrating on them and identifying the comings and goings of the staff at the hospital, keeping him cognitively aware of the time passing.

Other times, when his memories and daydreams would swell to the front of his mind, there was another voice. It was deep, clear and calm, telling him something he already knew.

Chilton needed to die.

Chapter Text

Three days.

Hannibal had sped through all the butcher paper that Will had gifted to him, his mind palace doing little to ease his containment for the first time in his apprehension, unable to quell the profound pit that had manifested in Will’s absence. The caress of Hannibal’s passions couldn’t touch him. Art, literature and music in his mind simply glided over him, evading him completely. He missed the reverberation of shouting voices and thundering instruments in his heart, the explosive burst of seductive color from a worshipping, desperate artist. There was an unmistakable veil over his whole world, tainting his perspective, itching and irritating as it misguided his senses.

If there was one thing that Hannibal knew about himself, it was that he was a patient man, able to keep steadfast and static depending on his needs and the ends to meet them. He also knew that boredom was a painful, unnecessary experience. It wasn’t something he had to deal with often, monotony easily rectified by the expansive haven within the realms of his mind. Even with his resoluteness and ingenuity, however, three days without the possible interaction from Will was akin to torture.

Hannibal was never one to flirt with denial, but even he had to bite down the nearly overwhelming swell of relief that came when Will’s heady scent found him, his ears droning out the squeaking wheels and calls of the mad with the second movement of Concerto in A Minor by Vivaldi, a piece he picked at random. He casually rose, trying to keep his face light as he leaned against his double barrier to look at Will.

Hannibal had expected Will to have his head down, his eyes closed again to protect himself from the restricting nightmare of his confinement, but he was pleasantly surprised to see Will with his head held high, his eyes already on Hannibal’s cell. Their eyes clashed, Hannibal stepping back away from the barrier as Will’s doors opened for him to re-enter, sitting back down onto his chrome bench in an attempt to appear nonchalant.

They both waited until the vibrations within the corridor ceased, the stagnant quiet reaching them both.

“Three days.” Will said with a hoarse whisper. His voice was rough with disuse, Hannibal hearing his throat swallow thickly after he spoke, minimal splashing as he turned on his sink and drank.

“A new record for Chilton, considering he typically uses it as a manipulative threat. Even Dr. Petty Freddy Chilton can’t deny the effects of solitary confinement on mental health.” Hannibal thumbed through his drawings as he talked, his senses completely opened toward the other cell, grasping every possible provocation that he had been denied. “You must have made him really angry.”

Hannibal heard a rhythmic lifting and placing of bare feet, Will somehow pacing in his cell in time with the largo tempo of the Vivaldi piece he was still playing in his head. Hannibal silently scented the air, confirming that Will was the angriest he had been in their passing moments together. His anger was heavy in the space between them, tingling the pit of his stomach. Will’s scent not the subdued sweetness he had become familiar with, even with the intentional neglect of hygiene.

“A record? I’m honored.” Hannibal smiled inwardly at Will’s rage, the last word seething.

“May I ask?”

“May you ask what I could have possibly done to end up in… a place like that?” Will’s breath rushed, his whispering anger boiling with every work he spoke. “Well, don’t bother… I… I don’t remember. I can’t remember… I’ve been trying. I thought I knew, I thought I saw…”

Hannibal decided to stay silent for the moment, feeling unspoken words pushing against Will’s mouth, threatening and desperate to be free. After a few moments, Will’s breath quickening in shaky, sudden intervals, Hannibal pursed his lips.

“Will?” He asked softly, trying to keep his voice level.

“Doctor?” Will whispered.

“What did you see while you were in solitary confinement?”

“Lots of things… Some real, some imagined… I’m not really sure which was which.” Will continued to whisper. Hannibal heard the soft sound of springs condensing. Hannibal didn’t rush him, leaving his papers alone and rising to sit on his cot as well. After a few shaky sighs, Will continued.

“I don’t know what is real, Doctor, even back out here. Reality seems suspended, inconceivable…” Will stopped speaking abruptly, the entry gates slamming open and furious footfalls finding them both.

“…And irritating.” Will added on with obvious distaste. Hannibal heard him rise off his cot before he smelled the mixture of Chilton’s hair product and stale blood with disinfectant.

“Good morning, Will. How was punitive segregation? Did you enjoy it?” Chilton’s tone wasn’t the usual defensive, tight tone he used when faking pleasantries, all civilities gone.

Will stayed silent, his ire burning white hot underneath, the smell of his fever rising suddenly.

“So, now you have nothing to say for yourself? You had plenty of things to say in our session, and even more in the SHU!” Leaning against his double barrier at the poorly bottled emotion, Hannibal saw that Chilton’s face was partially covered with a bandage, biting down his grin at the sight and leaning away from the barrier again to hide his pleasure.

“I find it curious that someone like you, albeit a failed doctor, who deals with life and death situations every day would be so frivolous, so nonchalant, with a person like me.” The deep timbre of his voice surprised Hannibal, vaguely reminded of when Will first arrived. His tone was easy and calm, not like it had been just moments before.

“What are you suggesting?” Chilton spat.

“The strange thing to me is that despite your should-be-easy familiarity with human mortality, you aren’t able to readily apply such a scenario to your day by day life. One might wonder what that says about you.”

“Tell me something, Mr. Graham, are you that desperate?” Chilton didn’t clarify what he meant, his tone shaking with his vexation.

“In fact, I personally wonder… being surrounded by death, seeing that mortality ending so frequently in your line of work, does it start to make you feel like it’s always other people? Do you ever feel that it couldn’t, wouldn’t, possibly happen to you? See, I think that maintaining a distance is necessary in order for medical professionals to be able to do their job well. In your case, had you done your job well, you would still have the rest of your face.”

Hannibal couldn’t fight the smirk any longer, grinning victoriously. His memories surged to the front of his mind, seeing the detached head of the disgusting butcher who had insulted his aunt, Lady Murasaki, the oaf’s cheeks sliced off like a fish, a tip he had received from his aunt’s chef.

He compared what Will had just admitted to doing to what he had said before Chilton’s appearance. He claimed he didn’t remember what he had done, yet he stood there, stoic and rigid before the man he affronted, his breathing calm. Hannibal scented the air again, strangely joyous at the return of the sweet heat he had first come to know, detecting the scent notes along with the increase in Will’s natural body odor from perspiration.

Unsure of whether he was saving himself or Will from more solitary confinement, Hannibal spoke before Chilton could react.

“Chilton?” Hannibal called, hoping to get a better look at the injuries he sustained.

“I am not talking to you!” Chilton raged, his voice booming loud and shattering against Hannibal’s ears. The rest of the prisoners responded to Chilton’s voice in kind, the corridor suddenly filling with loud wailing.

“If I could send you to a worse place, I’d send you there. Another word out of you, and it’s back in the SHU.” Chilton continued his conversation with Will, his voice still raised to combat the mad.

“Please, Dr. Chilton, I insist.” Hannibal called enticingly, using his title for the first time since he was incarcerated. He tried to speak before Will could reply to his threat, hearing the orderlies start to go up to every cell in the pit and force calm upon the prisoners, barks of pain from the syringe calling after their help.

Chilton appeared expectedly, his eyes dark with fury, much of his face not covered by his bandage scarlet with anger. Hannibal barely breathed, the smell of Chilton’s old blood pooling and scabbing under the bandage on his cheek inviting.

“And what… could you possibly want?” His voice was dripping with venom. Chilton’s attentions were momentarily diverted, his eyes shooting to the new pictures on the wall.

“My God, obsessed much? Where did you get the butcher paper...?” Chilton mocked, no doubt noticing that most of the new pictures were of Will.

Hannibal had wondered whether Chilton would have ever noticed, glad that he deciding to play it safe and hide the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio look alike in his bible. Hannibal stared down straight into Chilton’s face, unresponsive to his remark, watching his hazy blue eyes waver cowardly back to his own, blinking with mixed emotion.

“You know that the SHU would just make matters worse. You think he’s unreachable, untreatable now…” Hannibal left the sentence open, appealing to Chilton’s intellectual vanity.

Chilton clenched his jaw rhythmically, releasing and grinding his teeth with his contemplation, Hannibal watching something akin to an unwilling acknowledgement and acceptance of what he was saying settle over his mottled face.

“Also, Dr. Chilton… you might want to change the bandage.” Hannibal’s breath hitched a little after he spoke, the scent of old blood overwhelming, causing both horrifying and delightful images to swirl into his mind.

Chilton glared, reaching up to rub at the bandage while walking back over to Will’s cell, his vexation barely ebbed.

“I suggest some heavy introspection, Will. I may not have the sole power to send you anywhere, but I know people who do. Prove you are worthy of rehabilitation, and prove you aren’t the man everyone thinks you are, which you have done very poorly. You have until next Thursday.” Chilton started walking away, passing the orderlies and confirming out loud that they should drug Will, too.

“Don’t touch me.” Will started as the orderlies appeared in front of his cell, his voice backbiting.

“Please, Will…” Barney’s high-pitched speech rang above the dying calls from the other inhabitants. “I don’t want to use force on you, and I know you don’t want that either. Let’s just calm down, and I won’t give you a shot.”

“Am I worth betraying your orders?” Will quipped, his tone quiet but still defensive.

“I like to think that the advancement in shared and mutual trust is worth it. What do you think? I’m willing to cooperate with you, if you are willing to… Are you feeling alright?” Barney broke off, sudden worry decorating Barney’s attitude, followed by a solid smack as Will’s body crumpled and hit the floor.

“Are you okay? Can you hear me? If you can hear me, please respond.” Thumps of silence as Barney waited for a response, then dire calling to open the double barrier to his cell. Among the rush of responding orderlies, Hannibal picked up frightening sounding breathing, evidence that Will was having a seizure.

“Grab his pillow, get it under his head!”

Hannibal leaned against his double barrier, wishing that he could observe. He consulted the old wooden clock in his mind palace, keeping the time.

“Make sure he doesn’t hit anything. No, don’t hold him down! Just, make sure he doesn’t get harmed.” Barney reprimanded.

Everyone waited, the crazy quiet from shots, the seizure ending swiftly. Hannibal found fleeting happiness raking in his chest as the seizure didn’t last more than five minutes.

“Help me get him in the recovery position, then go grab the stretcher.” Hannibal postulated from the sounds, hearing the rough fabrics slide against each other as they rolled him over to one of his sides.

“Will, can you hear me?” Barney’s voice was muffled, Hannibal guessing that he was leaning down to check Will’s breathing. Will made a whining sound, trying to speak just as the stretcher reached them in the corridor.

“Wh…What…” Will’s voice whined, his wrath ebbed, the viciousness gone as quickly as Chilton had left.

“It’s alright, we have you now. You’re at the BSHCI, remember? You’re in your... room.” Barney elaborated, omitting Will’s real location as to not aggravate him more. “Are you able to stand? Don’t try and force yourself. Help me lift him.”

An insipid, perspiring and soiled Will emerged from his cell strapped to the stretcher. The dark curls of his fringe lightly stuck to the sweat drops that clung to his forehead, and his eyes moved behind his closed eyelids. As they started to cart him out his cell, he opened his eyes, searching. They rested on the area by Hannibal’s cell, his eyes shaking from effort to keep them open. Hannibal was unsure whether Will could see him or not, until one of Will’s clenched hands released its whitening grip, his fingers outstretched, his hand shaking as he was reaching toward Hannibal. Hannibal instinctively raised his hand and pressed it against the cool barrier, his fingers spread. Will blinked at him, and Hannibal blinked back, just before Barney appeared after the stretcher, blocking Will completely with his broad form.

Hannibal stayed against his barrier long after Will disappeared around the corner and up the stairs toward the infirmary, his forehead resting against the back of his hand, idly aware of the small droplets of condensation sticking to his palm. His mind was racing, taking in the infectious, feverish smell that accompanied Will’s anger. He stood and thought about Will’s black outs and memory gaps, his hallucinations and nightmares, all overwhelming enough to the point of a seizure, concluding that it was most likely a febrile seizure.

Hannibal turned away from his barrier long after the lights went out, sitting back down at his bench, picking up some of the decorated butcher paper and writing notes in the spaces he knew were empty.

‘Headaches, high fever, vivid hallucinations, memory loss, confusion, seizures, personality changes and fits of rage.’ Hannibal wrote down, staring at his pseudo-copperplate handwriting in the dark while he thought.

This was either the absolute worst case of influenza that Hannibal had ever seen, recalling back to his first inclinations toward the familiar clinical smell of his fever, or Will was suffering from viral meningoencephalitis, possibly anti-NMDA encephalitis. Hannibal scented the air again, hopeful that some of Will’s fever lingered, swallowing past the plunge of momentary disappointment that it was gone.

In the dark, Hannibal wondered how an ailment like that affected the gifted minds of people like Will Graham. This prompt, this thought, was a prickling weight, heavy in his mind. To be able to study the psychological effect of this type of malady on a person’s mind, and more rare still to study the neurological effects, was an intellectual burden that Hannibal caressed throughout the night. Typically, patients with encephalitis would undergo a wide-ranging neuropsychological assessment, specializing in memory tasks that have shown to be sensitive for hippocampal dysfunction. Any psychiatric treatments would include various antipsychotics, steroids, such as azathioprine or mycophenolate mofetil, and possible plasma exchanges. He wondered how far the hospital staff was going to go in their care, curious whether they would just break his fever and send him back or inquire further, vaguely speculating if the hospital was equipped well enough to treat something like encephalitis.

He hoped they wouldn’t try too hard.

After concluding on a possible diagnosis, he began ruminating about Will’s change in behavior, particularly his defensiveness manifesting oddly in his voice. Will admitted earlier on that he often copied the rhythm and speech patterns in other people, that he couldn’t control it, but Hannibal didn’t feel satisfied by the answer. The question that remained was who Will was imitating when he became defensive, noting the deeper, calm voice and his sharp, pointed insults.

Sleep didn’t find him, Hannibal realizing this when the lights quivered back into life, signaling 7 o’clock. The poor lights caused a hum in the air that burdened his ears. He replaced the sound with Jean-Baptiste Barrière’s Cello Sonatas, thinking the music reminded him of Will’s volatile behavior, cello and harpsichord pushing and pulling against each other in a variety of intensities and tempos, clashing and resolving throughout the different pieces.

Breakfast was abysmal, Hannibal picking at one of the biscuits while he laid back on his cot. Now that the feeble light was back, he could look up at his drawings again, the hospital kind enough to have given him a small roll of dusty cellophane tape. It was fortunate that the butcher paper was light enough, the adhesive on the tape old and weak. In the wake of Chilton’s rage, he contemplated taking them all down, deciding he’d add them to his other paper treasures tonight when the lights are out, concerned that Chilton’s observation of them was going to prove difficult for him.

Staring up at the glances and forms of Will, Hannibal finally found some interrupted rest, dreaming of fire.

Just before lunch was served, a soapy scented Will came back down the corridor, strapped in place on the dolly, his head down this time. Hannibal noted the clear face mask, wondering if, like him, it was going to be a staple in all transportations. They laid a limp Will on his cot, Barney asking for some help lifting him off the dolly, puffs of cleanser and bleach from the hospital finding Hannibal’s nose with the activity. Although Will was quiet, his breathing indicated that he was not unconscious like the orderlies surely believed. Hannibal waited until they departed and came back with the food before prompting conversation.

“I think your fever is gone for now.”

“Yes, I think so.” Will responded softly, his voice high with fatigue, something akin to apathy in his tone.

“How are you feeling?”

“Does it really matter?”

“Yes, quite.’” Hannibal admitted.

“Why? Old habit from your practice?” A good question, one that momentarily stopped Hannibal. He tried to keep the rise of his thoughts quiet, not necessarily afraid to expose himself just enough, but ambiguously worried that Will would pluck his consciousness out of the tense air that always hung between them, just as Will had walked with the tempo of his music.

“If I said yes, how would that make you feel?”

“Like you were lying to me.” Hannibal smiled.

“You're very frank, Will. I think it would be quite something to know you in private life.”

Will paused, quiet with contemplation.

“Thank you.” He finally said, a little breathless.

“How are you feeling?” Hannibal repeated, hoping that Will wouldn’t retort again.

“Just… tired. Both physically and emotionally. I’m tired of being confused, tired of… feeling not like myself. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in some kind of strife or pain.”

Hannibal waited until he finished his biscuit, chewing dryly and rising for a small drink of metallic water. He shut off the water, the pipe shuddering a little as the pressure lessened. He was wiping the bottom half of his face, clearing it of remaining water, when Will continued.

“Doctor?” His voice wavered. Hannibal sat down at the edge of his cot, his shoulder against the concrete.

“Yes?”

“I…” Will gulped, sniffing a little, Hannibal smelling tears.

“I need your help, Doctor…” Will whispered.

Hannibal grinned.

Chapter Text

Will hoped beyond the shaky imagery in his mind that he really didn’t attack Chilton, that it was just been another pointed dream displaying the ill contempt he was feeling towards him and the whole institution. He had woken inside the SHU with his mouth tasting like blood, and he had pleaded to the unhearing,

‘Please let that be my own blood.’

A voice just then, clear and calm as it spoke to him, Will desperate but unable to block it out of his mind,

‘Chilton needs to die. Chilton must die’.

The voice accompanied him throughout his unending time in the SHU. Along with its message, it slowly started to show him things involuntarily, Will trying to battle against the images just as he had tried to do with the voice. These images always seemed to rush past what he was currently thinking, screaming into the front of his mind. The voice showed him imageries that Will knew he had seen before both in real life and in his nightmares. He deduced that some of the forced visualizations were crime scenes he had visited, the evidence still fresh in his mind even after the initial arrest and the seemingly endless court appearances. He could digest these images at first, the crime scenes not feeling wholly uncomfortable besides their own personal level of morbidity.

To his absolute horror, the images started to turn into the victims before the crime scenes. Quick and loud recollections of Cassie Boyle, Marissa Schuur, Donald Sutcliffe, Georgia Madchen, and his last victim Abigail Hobbs, before they were found. Will battled with the voice, his own inner voice just as loud as the other one, arguing that he couldn’t possibly know what they were doing moments before their deaths, that these images were merely an overactive imagination caused by the isolation of the SHU.

The voice started to show him more, showing himself as he was when the murders were taking place, showing him hunting, stalking, fighting on some occasions, and eventually maiming. Will recognized that even with his own peculiarities that the vivid specifics shown couldn’t have possibly been deduced to this level of detail when looking at forensic evidence. What had made him vomit for the second time into his bedpan was the horrific realization that they felt more like memories than postulations, the blood in his mouth more reminiscent than not.

Will was aware of one thing when the orderlies finally opened the door to his cell. It wasn’t relief like one might expect after three days of being kept in a dark room with the only interaction being the voice in his head and the passing of meal trays that he had resolutely denied.

It was a peculiar kind of desperation that Will felt.

It was a feeling that the open air would somehow shed light onto the truths the voice had shown him, the truths he didn’t want to accept, and that real answers could now be available to him.

As he was being carted toward the showers, he could feel the draining mental effects from the SHU, sometimes finding himself surprised at being out of solitary confinement and being back outside although he had been conscious when they came for him, but the desperation continued to plague him. Will comprehended that he had the sinking feeling of wanting them to hurry up and bring him to a place no normal person would want to be brought to.

The desperation continued to stick to him until the mandatory scrubbing that the orderlies gave him, unable to wash himself due to their own sick policies. Will realized with the shower that the memories which had consumed him during the time in the SHU started to wash away with the soapy water, with the lighted areas of the hospital. As they scrubbed remorselessly, his skin feeling red and raw by the time they were done, Will felt empty. He was only aware of a fleeting feeling that there should be more than what he knew now, things that he had possibly been privy to in the darkness.

After the shower, there was a moment with Barney about the food he hadn’t eaten in three days.

“Will you eat?” Barney asked, his face a mixture of disappointment and frustration. 

When Will stayed silent, they brought out some medieval looking equipment that he knew had to be illegal. Will felt a small injection just as he started to struggle helplessly against his restraints, sweating immediately from a mixture of fear and anger. Will tried his best to send his mind away with the drugs as the feeding tube slipped past his mouth. The feeling of suffocation was heavy even with the sedation, not being able to breathe until the tube reached his stomach. Liquid food was poured in slowly, small sloshes at a time, and the tube was removed. Will was allowed to rest for 30 minutes, the orderlies most likely wanting to watch for vomiting. The sedation was already wearing off by the time they started to wheel Will back down to the pit.

The desperation that had confused Will before the anger which settled in didn’t reveal itself until he was being carted down the corridor to his cell, his eyes forward and already searching for the maroon pair that he had known, without really knowing, would be watching. Like a punch to his gut, Will knew that if he wanted to remember, that he’d have to ask Hannibal for help.

He had fought people psychoanalyzing him before, fought against those who wanted to poke and prod his mind like there wasn’t a person living life attached to the matter. In his weakness, he contemplated reaching out to the only conceivable help, knowing full well that sessions with Chilton could never be fruitful.

“Three days.” Will said, his throat torn from the feeding tube. He walked over to the sink and gulped water, saddened by the fact that the water tasted like blood.

“A new record for Chilton, considering he typically uses it as a manipulative threat. Even Dr. Petty Freddy Chilton can’t deny the effects of solitary confinement on mental health. You must have made him really angry.” Will heard butcher paper being played with after taking some drinks of water, Hannibal always drawing or writing.

“A record? I’m honored.” Will paced around in his cell, desperation making him feel self-loathing and indignation toward himself. He didn’t want to talk about the has-been Chilton, wanting to separate himself from the doctor completely.

“May I ask?” Hannibal’s tone was easy, but in a greasy way. Hannibal would ask anyways.

“May you ask what I could have possibly done to end up in… a place like that?” Will felt short of

breath, the traumas revealed to him inside the SHU bouncing around in his mind, slipping just out of reach before Will could get a clear picture of it.

“Well, don’t bother… I… I don’t remember. I can’t remember… I’ve been trying. I thought I knew, I thought I saw…” The bouncing images wouldn’t stay still, wouldn’t reveal themselves again, the voice he thought he had heard finally quiet and non-existent.

“Will?”

“Doctor?” Will whispered.

“What did you see while you were in solitary confinement?”

“Lots of things, I think… Some real, some… hopefully imagined. I’m not really sure which was which.” He sat down on his cot, it now seeming a lot more comfortable than it did before. His head started to pulse a little with his rising anxiety. The recognition that he had known in the darkness but didn’t here in the light was bitter tasting and mocking.

“I don’t know what is real, Doctor, even back out here. Reality seems suspended, inconceivable…” Will stopped speaking as the entry gates opened, hearing relentless footfalls echoing down the corridor. He knew, again without knowing, that Chilton was on his way.

There was nothing more that Will wanted right then while hearing those angry footfalls was to be back in the SHU. He was beyond exhausted, the whole ordeal over the past days finally causing him to reach a breaking point. Closing his eyes and taking a sharp breath, he simply fell asleep, slipping comfortably inside the black pit of his hatred toward Chilton in that moment.

He woke up surrounded by orderlies in his cell, a thought floating above the chaos telling him that he was on the floor and not on the cot where he just laid down. His head was livid, the orderlies causing his headache to pulse keenly with every noise. Will couldn’t help but whine on the floor with each sharp pang.

“Help me get him in the recovery position, then go grab the stretcher. Will, can you hear me?” He recognized the voice as Barney’s although it sounded far away. He tried to open his eyes but couldn’t.

“Wh…What…” Will couldn’t speak, sensations slowly coming back to his body, nausea as deep as the headache was painful. He blinked, feeling that his eyelids were open although his sight wasn’t there. His vision slowly came back to him, the stretcher squeaking down the corridor.

“It’s alright, we have you now. You’re at the BSHCI, remember? You’re in your... room.”

He did remember that he was incarcerated, remembered that he just had a shower and a horrible force-feeding instance, remembered that he was only minutes back into his cell when he decided to fall asleep as a weak attempt to ignore Chilton.

That didn’t explain the stretcher, or why he felt like he was just hit by an 18-wheeler. Maybe he had fallen off his cot and cracked his head on the floor, knowing that his nightmares caused him to thrash, even walk….

Even, possibly, kill.

It seemed to take a long time for them to load him up, realizing with the movement that he had soiled himself, feeling a cold and itchy wetness down his legs. He was carted out into the corridor, inwardly screaming that he just wanted to stay safe inside his cell. His eyes wouldn’t open for longer than a moment at a time, using all his strength to pry his eyes open. Beyond his feet, he saw a shadow, knowing that it was Hannibal. They started to cart him away, and Will was reaching for his freedom until an orderly came out of his cell to help drive the stretcher.

He was informed when he woke up the next day that he had a seizure, one that was most likely caused by the high fever that he’s had since he first arrived. The hospital staff seemed bitter toward the establishment at this, knowing that the three days inside solitary exacerbated his condition but having no right to question anything. Once Will had been consciously left alone, he let himself cry.

His health seemed passable after breakfast, and he was subjected to another embarrassing shower considering his fit had ruined the one they had given him. Scrubbed raw, he was carted back to his cell, being gently placed on his cot and left alone. He felt some small fear at being back in his cot, like the cot had some part in why he just had a seizure. The feeling was similar to the unease of using a bathroom someone had just vomited in, even with knowing it wasn’t the rooms fault but still being afraid to enter it.

“I think your fever is gone for now.” Hannibal knew he wasn’t asleep.

“Yes, I think so.” He could hear how weak he sounded, hating himself for it.

“How are you feeling?”

“Does it really matter?”

“Yes, quite.” He didn’t want to admit how nice it sounded, defensive against anything pleasant.

“Why? Old habit from your practice?” It was a shallow dig, his energy levels too low for any proper retort that he believed in.

“If I said yes, how would that make you feel?”

“Like you were lying to me.”

“You're very frank, Will. I think it would be quite something to know you in private life.”

“Thank you.” This broke something inside Will. How could a monster’s admittance at finding him interesting, a monster being the only one to consider him, give him this much hope for truth. Through the trauma of Chilton’s therapy session, the exhaustion of the SHU, the embarrassing showers, the force-feeding, and finally the seizure, Will gave up.

“How are you feeling?” Hannibal repeated, Will wondering if Hannibal could feel his resolve crack.

“Just… tired. Both physically and emotionally. I’m tired of being confused, tired of… feeling not like myself. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in some kind of strife or pain.” The tears were building again now like they had in the hospital. Now was the time to ask, to solidify his determination and desperation he had felt upon his exiting of solitary confinement.

“Doctor?” Tears spilled as he prepared.

“Yes?”

“I need your help, Doctor…”

 

Hannibal was surprisingly silent at the request, Will feeling his pleasure palpably in the air. It made him regret his decision almost immediately, wondering what his desperation was worth.

“I suggest a long rest first, as long as you can. We can talk more about it in the morning.” Hannibal responded coolly, although Will could feel the tension in the air was anything but cool.

“Will it be Tuesday morning?” Will asked, wanting clarification. He had smelled lunch, thinking that he got out of the SHU Sunday morning.

“Yes, Tuesday.”

Will couldn’t help but heave a large and loaded breath, wanting to recant his request, his tears now drying and the desperation ebbing with the recent crying.

His second day at the asylum, which seemed so long ago, he hadn’t felt the regret as keenly when he first started to talk with the doctor. Dr. Lecter’s tone was calm and open, and Will had found him full of surprising humor and intense intrigue, remembering how Hannibal would inquire delicately but with definite purpose. He hadn’t minded the small attempts at psychoanalysis then, Hannibal not feeling at all malicious, but now he couldn’t help but feel like a lamb brought to slaughter, a martyristic sacrifice.

The same questions he had been asking himself then flooded back to his mind, recalling the first conversation they ever had together, Dr. Lecter denouncing Chilton’s theories about Cluster B personality disorders.

What did it matter what the official diagnosis of him was? Will was disappointed in himself to find that it did matter to him now.

Would that excuse his apparent dangerous unconscious behavior? Would that allow him to be exempt from the guilt of murdering five people that they know of? Of course not, but regardless of the perils, he wanted to know. There had been too many conversations had, too many impulses acted upon without his conscious permission, the impulses manifesting in his incrimination, flesh between his teeth, and solitary confinement.

After the questions, he remembered a part of their conversation from that same day.

“I’ll be honest, I’m a little surprised at your willingness for communication.” Will had said to him then.

“Well, we have to find fun where we can, don’t we?” Dr. Lecter had responded.

Will realized that was ultimately what made him so afraid. The case files against the Chesapeake Ripper had made him aware that the man committing those crimes did so because he enjoyed it. Will wondered whether he would feel like a butterflied chicken when they were finished with whatever this was going to be, metaphorical oysters missing, the most tender parts of him.

“I suggested rest, and I meant it. I can feel your mind racing from here.” Hannibal’s voice burst through his reverie, a sped-up version of the following day flashing briefly behind Will’s eyes, He remembered simultaneously Hannibal running after him in the gymnasium with his arms bound tight, showering with him, waking to the sensations of the doctor drawing him, the Dronabinol luring him asleep.

“We’ve been open and honest with each other before.” Will whispered, mostly to himself in an attempt to recognize that this couldn’t inherently be bad.

“I like to think so, yes. In the short time we’ve known each other, our conversation has been relatively titillating. We’ve been courteous to each other, and we’ve both been receptive to each other’s courtesy. We’ve both inquired upon each other unnecessarily, asking if we’re alright. I think we both know that we aren’t alright considering, but the inquiries make a difference, don’t they?”

‘They do, but I won’t tell you that.’ Will thought, keeping pensive.

“Did things seem readily available to you in the dark?” Hannibal pursued the conversation in his silence.

“I have the nagging feeling that things long forgotten came back to me in the darkness, shirking away from the light. What things? I’m not sure. Dreams, fantasies, memories… they all seem possible.”

“Ralph Waldo Emerson said something that sticks out to me just now. He once said, ‘As gaslight is the best nocturnal police, so the universe protects itself by pitiless publicity.’ In more conventional terms, it means that darkness conceals identity and thus decreases inhibitions. It’ll not be any surprise to you that darkness is correlated to crime, as that idea of darkness promoting unethical behavior can be dated as far back as even Plato’s time, and you have seen it in action. I’ve always found it curious that darkness can facilitate dishonest behavior, without the extremes of sunlight or nighttime. Don’t you feel a little safer when wearing sunglasses, when your personal reservations for staring at what you please are lowered?”

“It’s all very interesting, Doctor, but what does that have to do with me?”

“Your guaranteed anonymity in the dark makes me think that your mind felt less threatened against certain things you wish to forget, certain things perhaps related to your so-called crimes. If I can be honest, it gives me a good indication on where to start if you continue to want my help.”

“In the dark?"

“In the dark, yes.”

“Aren’t you concerned for increasing melatonin levels? Hasn’t it been suggested that melatonin can block or hurt memory formation?”

“Not in this instance, no. I don’t seem to find that concerning.” Even Will knew that it was a weak refutation, a defense mechanism in the face of doubt and regret. He could hear the slight humor in Hannibal’s voice when he retorted, feeling the smile from his cot.

Will took another deep breath, rolling from his left side onto his back and staring unseeing at the ceiling. He could gain so much by letting Hannibal help him recover the truth, feeling surprised in the confidence he had in the doctor, the surprise mixing strangely with his inherent doubt. He lifted his rough hands to rub at his eyes and face, his body feeling half there, like some of his nerves had been left elsewhere.

“Considering your previous declarations of distaste for my profession, I will accept a recant. I personally think that you don’t need help, Will. Maybe you simply want to know the truth.” Will wondered if he had voiced his preference for a recant aloud, unknowingly voicing his desires even now when he was awake. The wondering felt like lead in his stomach.

“I can tell you that nothing about me wanting to know the truth is simple.” Will whispered roughly, his eyes covered by his hands, the dark not feeling as safe as it once had been.

“Then please, recant. The choice is yours.”

“Why do I feel like you want to help me?”

“Most likely because I do want to help you.”

“Why?”

Hannibal fell silent at this, Will’s mind groping for the presence in the other cell. What could he feel in the air between him? The anticipated electricity that he had grown accustomed to, a weighted intrigue that paradoxically made him feel safer rather than in danger, and possibly a self-conscious hesitance.

“Why, Doctor?” He asked again, this time a little stronger.

“You may not like the answer.” Hannibal finally said, his tone still cool although worry started to creep into Will’s mind from his cell.

“It won’t be as bad as what I assume.”

“Do you assume the worst of me?” Will bit his lip with the sudden tone change, feeling that his answer mattered to Hannibal, feeling that Hannibal was concerned.

“No, actually. I’ll admit something to you if you admit to me why you want to help me.” Will said honestly, feeling surprised by that answer and the compromise.

“I want you to know your truth, and I want to be the one to help you find it. I want to help you because I want you to see the best in me, as I see so much greatness in you. My desire to help you is steeped in selfishness, yes, but not completely, Will.” A shocking answer, one that left Will reeling for a beat before holding up his end of the bargain.

“I don’t assume the worst of you. I thought I would, but… you’re not what I expected. The murderer I read about was sadistic and ruthless, his crimes a passionate, condescending slaughter… marring while the pigs were still breathing.” His mind drew the memories from when he reviewed the case file, his body suddenly feeling as he felt when gazing mostly at the pictures. It was suspended horror, like Will was waiting for himself to realize the horridness of the crimes, the horror manifesting later in his dreams.

“The man I’ve gotten to know is full of humor despite his situation, keen and aware, and now worried about my opinion of him? Someone who sees the greatness in me and wants to help? It doesn’t really fit, to be honest. You’re full of surprises… and unexpected comforts.” Will had hoped his tone didn’t mock.

“And the man I have gotten to know is more fascinating than anticipated, although, I didn’t know what to anticipate considering the less than apt re-telling of your trials. I understand your hesitance, and I want to assure you, no matter what my word is worth to you, that I wouldn’t disrespect you by being light-hearted or haphazard with your confidence. You are something else entirely, and you deserve something else entirely. You’ve surprised me, too. I mentioned before when you questioned the validity of therapy that I wouldn’t wish Chilton upon anyone worthwhile, and I meant it. You asked me what I thought of you, and I answered honestly. I haven’t been dishonest with you, as I respect you enough to not be as such.”

“I want to believe you.” He sounded a little breathless when he said this, the same feelings plucking at him as they did when Hannibal first mentioned what he thought and what he imagined it must be like to be him. He had felt deep sincerity and honesty in Hannibal, the sensation playing with his assumptions.

“Trust is tricky and fickle; it’s hard to earn and easy to lose.” Hannibal said, mirroring what Will had once said to him. Will let out a breathy laugh despite himself, the smile manifesting from the laugh feeling odd and tight on his face.

“A therapeuric alliance, isn’t that how you once phrased it?”

“I did, yes, and I believe it. Confidentiality or not, I think it would be most beneficial for you to talk about what you saw in the field, and consequently, your dreams.”

 Dreams, memories, fantasies… Would therapy with Dr. Lecter really bring the clarification he longed for? He once said that therapy didn’t work on him, his career keying him into all the tricks.

“What should I expect?”

“I will tell you tomorrow after you’ve rested, if you would still like me to.”

“Can you at least tell me if there will be any kind of psychological evaluation test? I doubt you have a copy of the Minnesota Multiphasic with you.”

“No, I don’t have one with me, although I don’t need it.”

“You haven’t memorized the questions.” Will stated this as if the alternative actuality was absurd.

“Would it surprise you?”

“It would, considering the long form of the revised test is over 500 questions long.”

“Well then, be surprised.” Will almost scoffed, catching it in his throat and swallowing it, not wanting to be offensive.

“Besides, I think we should talk first. No violating testing or unnecessary probing, just talking… If you’d like, of course.” Hannibal continued, saying this in an easy way, as if just talking was so simple.

“I’ll think about it.” Will decided on, quietly rolling over to his right side and facing the concrete wall of his cell. He didn’t slip into the covers, and Hannibal didn’t prompt for any more conversation, leaving Will wondering whether this was a road he wanted to travel down.

Chapter Text

Hannibal listened to Will slowly fall asleep, sketching as he waited. Will slept past the dinner cart, Barney not making a fuss for once.

“Did you force feed him?” Hannibal asked, not worrying of Will overhearing.

“Unfortunately.” Barney said, shame and resentment obvious in his tone.

Force feeding, how barbaric, even with its continued use in prisons in present time.

“How wide was the tube that was inserted?” Hannibal opened the food carrier and reached in for his tray, sitting down on his chrome bench and placing the tray on top of some of his blank butcher paper.

“Too wide. It’s very primitive looking, and way out-of-date. I’ve talked to Dr. Chilton about it but he doesn’t seem too concerned, even though it’s over twice the size of the tube used in places like Guantanamo Bay.” Barney was looking down at Hannibal’s tray, his dark brows furrowed over his deep eyes.

“Maybe one day, Chilton will be able to experience a feeding tube for himself.” Hannibal mused, picking apart some bread in tufts and eating them slowly.

“Doctor, you know not to talk about him like that. I feel, and I guess I have, an obligation to tell.”

“But you won’t?” Hannibal asked, his eyes boring into Barney’s face. Hannibal knew he wouldn’t, as Barney usually understood the resentment the more capable prisoners felt.

“Eat as much as you can. I’ll be back.” Heavy footsteps and squeaking wheels sounded his departure.

In his freedom, he started to ruminate on how best to tackle Will Graham’s therapy, idly plucking parts of the bread and eating. He needed to be tentative but unyielding, and establishing trust was the main priority. Hannibal thought he had an idea, thinking someone like Will would benefit greatly in starting his own mind palace. Although Hannibal believed that like most skills, it is best to start as a child, however it is far from impossible for adults to initiate the practice.

And how pleasurable it would be if Will’s first room was one of his.

The hour flew by quickly, Hannibal thinking about Will and managing to pick and separate his food into edible and non-edible components. Half the food was left on the tray when he put it back into the food carrier and sent it through for pick up. Hannibal sat back on his chrome bench, the blank butcher paper begging to be marked. Picking up his felt-tipped marker, reminding himself to ask Barney for a new one when he came to pick up the tray, he started to pristinely sketch.

He drew inspiration from a modern painter whom he admired, Roberto Ferri. Ferri’s study of the old masters is obvious, his painting style comparable to Caravaggio and others, although Hannibal would not participate in the mass by calling him “Caravaggio’s heir”. Still, his talent was undeniable, his figure paintings and occasional horror surrealism extremely attractive to Hannibal.

There were a few paintings in particular he immensely appreciated, and he decided to play with one now, covering the butcher paper near black. The marker shined purple against the harsh light, wings starting to appear effortlessly on the page. He plucked a passionate piece of music from his mind as he drew, deciding on Zigeunerweisen by Pablo De Sarasate. The violin in this piece is bold, fiery, lamenting, all qualities that he saw inside Will. He decided on a rare recording from 1905 he had the pleasure of hearing once, Sarasate himself playing his piece. The quality of the recording was slightly subjected to time’s relentlessness, but overall it was preferred, Hannibal enhancing what needed to be in his mind.

Soon, long forgetting to ask Barney for a new felt-tipped, a beautiful dark-haired angel with gentle curly hair and black wings graced his paper, ankles bound by think cuffs and feet etched darker than the rest of his skin. The angel was perched high above a scattered background of faded trees, one hand on his knee, Will’s head angled down and away from him, eyes closed.

Darkness slammed into his vision once he finished, hours passing like mere moments as Hannibal became absorbed in his drawing. With the privacy of the dark, Hannibal rose, meticulously and carefully taking down all the drawings in his cell. He folded them gently and hid the drawings in different books. He knew it was just a matter of time before he’d have to find better hiding places, wishing that there was any alternative. He could only assume where the cleaners and orderlies looked when they occasionally searched the inmates’ cells, the establishment being painfully thorough. He considered hiding them in the envelopes of mail he received, knowing that the administration wasn’t allowed to open his mail. Tomorrow, he would, then try his best to reseal the envelopes.

Just as he finished hiding his drawings, a soft whimpering came from the next cell. His interest piqued, Hannibal sitting on his cot and laying himself down on his right side. He faced the cement wall that separated the two of them. He didn’t need to close his eyes to concentrate on the sounds but did anyways, content with listening to Will’s fitful sleep. Hannibal spent his time postulating on what Will could be dreaming about, the sounds resonating as both fear and pleasure in his mind. The answer arrived quickly, a sedated, shuddering gasp and then the sudden smell of release as Will climaxed in his sleep.

Hannibal wasn’t surprised by the smell, it not unusual in the least down here with his powerful nose. However, he was surprised to find that his ears were burning white hot with the tantalizing sounds, his member erect. The sounds had pulled at him sensually in two distinct ways. The possible uncut strife in Will’s nightmares with him calling out to no one who could help him was wonderful. He could enjoy the torment with abandon, the sounds raw and uncontrolled. Now as the night music had identified themselves as pleasure, they too also pulled at Hannibal, sex being one of those things that he had long used more as a manipulative tactic rather than a personal act. Hannibal couldn’t help but contemplate a healthy sexual life, wondering whether he had missed out on certain experiences. Best not pull that thread, as Hannibal knew he had been denied some life, both with and without his consent.

Will did not wake despite his climax, falling back into fitful sleep. Wanting Will to rest, Hannibal selected another tune from his memory. He played Gustav Holst’s The Planets - II. Venus, The Bringer of Peace, hoping that Will could hear it. Hannibal mentally projected it into the air as he imagined a psychic would do. Minutes later, the song mostly over, Will silenced with a final deep hum. Hannibal followed shortly after, sleeping and sharing Will’s peace.

Hannibal woke with the lights, his senses automatically tuning into the next cell. He heard Will’s breath even over the chaos of the rest of the patients rising, a sharp intake of breath notifying his waking. Hearing Will rise from his cot, he blocked out the other cell from his senses in respect, knowing that most people relieved themselves in the morning upon waking. He rose in his own time, stretching and feeling a few things inside his body shift with the ill support of the cot.

“Good morning, Doctor.” A tired sounding Will said, making Hannibal pause in his stretching, pleasantly surprised at the initiation.

“Good morning. I hope you slept well.” Hannibal bent, his hands in the very small of his back, bending backwards over his hands and hearing a small pop.

“I think so. I’ve never been someone to actually feel awake in the morning, regardless of how much sleep I got.”

The smell of a slightly spicier than normal breakfast wafted down the corridors as he said this, the opening and closing of food carriers growing louder.

“Good morning, Will. How are you feeling?” Barney said, his voice hesitant. Will didn’t respond.

“After breakfast, I’m to come in and take your temperature. Considering your seizure, we’ll have to be a little more vigilant in your care.” Hannibal heard Will take his breakfast tray and sit at his table, still unspeaking. Barney sighed and continued down the way, appearing in front of Hannibal’s double barrier.

“Good morning, Barney. Say, would it be possible to get a new felt-tipped marker?”

“Morning, Doctor, and sure. I’ll grab one for you when I come to collect the trays.”

“Any chance I can persuade you for a fine-tipped marker this time?”

“You know there are regulations.” Barney said, trying to stop a smile from appearing on his face.

“Yes, I do know, but you can’t blame me for trying.” Hannibal stepped forward and pulled back the food carrier, seeing a horrible pseudo-Mexican breakfast, explaining the smell of spice.

“The eggs and salsa are pretty good. I hope you try them.”

 "We’ll see. Although, I think I could manage to eat a whole tray of food… for a fine-tipped pen or marker.” This caused Barney to laugh.

“I’ll ask, alright?”

“I’m sure you will, thank you, Barney.”

Quattro Pezzi Sacri for Chorus and Orchestra by Verdi accompanied his attempts to eat breakfast, the eggs not as bad as expected, particularly coated in the finely ground pepper they were given in two small paper packs.

“I didn’t realize that institutions like these force-fed patients.” Will’s tone was bitter, his voice a little thick, perhaps with some reminiscing.

“Unfortunately, yes. It’s predominantly used in high security prisons. Inmates might lash out at nurses or correctional officers, spit in their faces or refuse to eat. I want you to know that Chilton’s feeding tube, as I found out last night, is bigger than regulation.” Hannibal smiled outwardly as he sensed the sweet heat smell drift over to him, mixing well with breakfast.

“Did they drug you?”

“Yes.” A whisper.

“Are you eating your food?”

“No.”

“They won’t hesitate to do it again. I suggest you eat some. The tortillas look alright.” Hannibal reasoned, happy when he heard some small scraping noises as Will ate off his tray.

“I suggest choosing your battles, Will.”

“Hard to choose when they are all justified.”

“Don’t I know it.” Hannibal agreed, scraping the last bit he dared to eat off his tray. He stood to put the tray back into the carrier before returning to his cot, laying down and feeling Will just on the other side of the wall.

“How did you feel when they force-fed you?”

A dry huff like laughter came to him.

“Are we starting already, Doctor?”

“Not at all.” Hannibal got the impression that Will used his professional title when he felt especially resentful.

“A drug was administered once I recognized the hose. I barely fought, although I remember feeling like I was suffocating until the tube reached my stomach. It didn’t hurt, I don’t think. The drug, whatever it was, didn’t last long. They waited 30 minutes to see if I’d vomit, I think.” Will’s voice was soft with defeat, losing the edge in it.

Inwardly, Hannibal was shaking his head. He was no stranger to torture, both enduring and endorsing it. However, the way this place was run was staggering to him on some occasions. If any of the inmates here got out, what stories they could tell. It sounded tempting, thinking about whether he’d ever be able to share his experiences and bring them to the public. He’d omit Barney, of course, wanting to damn Chilton as much as possible.

Hannibal capped his revenge for now, focusing on more important things.

“Midazolam is my guess. It’s a sedative, highly effective for minor surgical procedures. It wears off fast and doesn’t have too many side effects. I’m surprised it didn’t register you unconscious, though.”

“I’m not. It would have saved me a lot of embarrassment. God forbid I keep some of my dignity in this place.” That proclamation pulled at Hannibal.

“Did you dream last night?” Hannibal changed the subject, not wanting Will or himself to wallow. Will didn’t respond right away, eventually taking a breath and letting it out slowly.

“I think so.” Will said after a long while. His tone was clipped and tense, defensive, probably against the dream that caused his orgasm.

“Can you remember?” Hannibal knew he shouldn’t pry, thinking that prying was often transparent in other people. He suspected that most people appeared transparent to Will.

“Interpretations of dreams… do you really think that dreams amount to anything? That we should take warning and advice from our dreams?”

“Maybe not, but certain things have become clearer to me after I’ve dreamt. I don’t believe we should solely base our lives and actions off what we dream about, but I also don’t think they are hardly worth ignoring in their entirety.”

“Do you think having a high level of reasoning can alter psych evals?” Will asked, changing the topic suddenly.

“I can take a hint. I won’t ask about your dreams unless you bring them up in the future.” Hannibal said with a slight laugh, propping himself up a little with his right elbow, resting his hand against his neck.

“As to your question, perhaps. The highly capable and highly intelligent have been found to be innately predisposed to a plethora of psychological and physiological implications. In terms of reasoning, I think that’s hard to determine. Reason is just as subjective as anything else. Where many people pull inferences from complex situations, following with hopefully thoughtful deliberations, others simply couldn’t be bothered. Most psychological testing that is performed attempts to counteract relative levels of reasoning, or rather reasonable reasoning. As with everything, they aren’t perfect.”

“I’m sorry, it may have been rude of me to change the topic so suddenly.” Will said, not commenting on the answer to his question. He continued,

“It’s just… maybe I don’t share this dream. Not yet.” A confused whisper.

“In your own time, Will, always.” Hannibal heard Will shift around on his bench, his clothes grating against the cement barrier between them, extrapolating by sound that Will was now sitting with his back against the wall.

“I think I want to remember more than I don’t. I always seem to change my mind as soon as I make it up. I'm trying to place myself somewhere in the frame of my mind and I have no bearings. No landmarks to tell me who I am. Images bounce around my head and I don’t know where they came from, and soon I forget them.”

“You have an incomplete self. We are who we are in the now and we are the sum of our memories. There are pieces of you that you can't see.”

“I'm afraid to see. I don't know who I am anymore and I'm afraid.” He could hear Will swallow thickly, could smell Will’s sweet heat flicker as he said this.

“Without remembering, you're seized by something imagined. It has the brilliant immediacy of a childhood fantasy and is just as real.”

“I want… I need to trust you.” Will whispered.

“You can trust me.” Hannibal said, a quiet confidence radiating from his tone.

“I’m… very confused.” Will’s tone was muffled, possibly words slipping between his hands.

“Then please, let me help you.” He didn’t need to say please, but he wanted to.

“Yes.” Salt splashed in the air, mixing well with his heat.

The sound of squeaking wheels ended the conversation, Will clearing his throat and rising suddenly to turn on the spluttering faucet and wash his face.

“If I could please have you lay face down on top of your bed for me and put your hands behind your back where I can see them?” Will seemed to comply, the cot springs squeaking slightly. The cell doors slid open and Barney entered, the metal sound of handcuffs signaling a bound Will. A pause and a digital repetitious beeping, Barney sighing.

“It’s elevated, but not too bad. I brought a mixture of ibuprofen and acetaminophen for you to take.” Barney rose and set the pills on the table.

“Please stay on the cot with your hands behind your back as I leave your cell. Don’t rise off the cot until you hear both doors close, alright?” He didn’t wait for an answer, and none came, the cuffs unhinging before Barney was in front of Hannibal’s cell, the doors slamming closed.

Barney took the food tray and put some items into the carrier before sending it back. Hannibal rose and peered into the bin, seeing two different felt-tipped markers, one barely considered fine-tipped and the other the typical size. More butcher paper was inside, as well as soft blank envelopes for correspondence.

“Thank you so much, Barney. I truly appreciate it.”

“Yeah, yeah. No more favors for a while, though, okay?”

“Right you are.” Hannibal agreed, watching Barney leave. The hall had grown quiet once more, Will speaking first.

“When?”

“Whenever you’d like to, although to keep matters private, I was considering asking whether night therapy would be more attractive. I think we’re the only two patients down here who are not required to have drugs administered for sleep.”

“Tonight, then, after the shots.”

“Certainly.” With his victory, he sat down on his chrome bench and looked at his new markers.

The temptation to start using them was heavy, battling with his logical side to use the other marker until it was completely dry beforehand. He reached far behind him, the bookshelf just within reach, and took the books he had hidden his drawings in. He carefully slid them from between the pages, inserting them into a few envelopes, sad that he had to fold a few of them smaller to fit. Once they were safe in the envelope, he licked the adhesive on the back, sealing them up and writing his old home address on the fronts of each envelope, sliding them back into the books. Now, they wouldn’t be able to open them without a warrant.

With Will quiet, he took out a new piece of butcher paper, staring at the opportunistic blankness. He wanted music to draw by, and he started to pick out a few of his favorites when Will talked from the next cell.

“What are you going to draw?” Will asked tentatively from his cell.

“That is a great question, I’m not so sure. I was picking out music first.” Hannibal said honestly, thinking this a good way to bring up mind palaces.

“Music?”

“I have almost every piece of music I’ve ever heard and enjoyed at my disposal, tucked away in my mind palace for me to visit and reproduce with stunning clarity and accuracy.”

“Do you have an eidetic memory? I’ve heard of mind palaces before and have wondered if they would be beneficial for me to try and learn.” Genuine interest was evident in Will’s tone. Hannibal smiled at the interest.

“Not quite eidetic, no. I wholly believe that the method of Ioci would be extremely beneficial for you.”

“Maybe you could help me with that some time.” Hannibal felt his eyebrows raise at the willingness to learn.

“I had planned on it, if I can be honest.”

“What song are you going to listen to?” Hannibal inwardly fluttered at the continuing intrigue.

“A violin concerto, I think, either by Paganini or Vieuxtemps. I’m leaning more toward Vieuxtemps today.”

“Classical, I should have guessed.”

“Do you like classical music?” Hannibal started to stretch his hands and fingers, having caved in and decided to use the fine-tipped marker, thinking it still too thick for the detail he really wanted but appreciating the gift from Barney all the same. Continuing his theme from last night, he continued sketching dark-haired angels, unashamed that they were all Will’s face and body.

“It’s never been my favorite. I think that’s more out of ignorance than disinterest, though. Not enough exposure.”

“Do you listen to music?” Hannibal couldn’t imagine his life without it.

“On occasion. I think I’ve spent most of my time listening to folk music, not going as far as country. Whiskey River isn’t too bad. Black Mountain Rag is nice until the fiddle break. It’s music of my past, though. I’m not too sure what I would like now.”

“Would it surprise you to know I’m familiar with Doc Watson?”

“Absolutely.” Hannibal laughed a little at that, switching from his fine marker over to his older one, coloring in wings, repeating aloud some lyrics of a song covered by many artists, Doc Watson included.

“‘One of these mornings,

You’re gonna rise up singing.

You’re gonna spread your wings,

And take to the sky.’”

 

“I’m not completely one-sided when it comes to my interests. I’m into more than just baroque, wine, and fine dining.” Hannibal gently filled in each feather separately with his marker, following the grain.

“Quite the things to be into.” Will’s tone stopped him from his art for a moment, tilting his head and staring at the spot in the wall he knew Will to be behind. His tone was curious, like he knew something Hannibal didn’t.

“Music of my past, too.” Hannibal said gently, blinking away images that surfaced to his mind at the memories. He wouldn’t dwell now, filing traumas away for another time, concentrating on dark wings.

“What was your home life like?” Will’s voice seemed closer now, clearer, like he had turned around on his bench to face the wall.

“What was your home life like?” Hannibal mirrored his request, feeling the smirk on his face before he registered the action.

“Maybe… we can cover that in therapy.” Will sighed out.

“My home life was… wonderful. It was wonderful up until the very moment when it wasn’t.” He blinked some more images away.

“What was Lithuania like?” Hannibal mused on how much Will knew about him before he was admitted here. With his conviction, it was known he was a Lithuanian-American, but the specifics of his family were never discussed. He hoped that Will knew nothing about him, being a mystery largely preferred, but found himself surprised that he also wished that Will had wanted to know everything publicly available.

For his own pleasure, he pictured Will gazing wide-eyed at his wreck pictures, possibly even at a crime scene, later digging around at the available media and reading his post-crime biography with a paradoxical interest. The created image of Will searching for personal knowledge of him even after experiencing the horror of his killings was extremely titillating.

There is some fascination for his kind, Hannibal knew. He had received a handful of fan letters in the year he had been admitted here, people wanting to touch some greatness, fools telling him that they, out of everyone, understood.

“I’m not sure I would be the best person to ask. My life started out quite differently in comparison to other Lithuanians, or even the general masses of civilians in any given place.”

“Rich?”

“Rich, yes, at first.” Hannibal concluded that Will must not have been growing up.

“Tell me about it?” Will’s tone was gentle, curious, and Hannibal pursed his lips. Will’s sudden interest felt odd to Hannibal, although he couldn’t place why. It wasn’t like Will hadn’t asked him personal questions before, but his past and family life wasn’t information anyone really cared to ask about.

“Why?” Hannibal prodded.

“I just want to know a little bit more about you before you find out everything about me. Quid pro quo.” Slightly defensive, although Hannibal didn’t mind. In fact, he adored hearing Will speak Latin.

“Quid pro quo, a marvelous idea. Would that make it a little easier for therapy if I were to tell you a few things about myself after you’ve told me about yourself?”

“Would you be willing to do that?” Skepticism. Hannibal hoped that would eventually fade.

“I think so, if you consent in allowing me to omit things I’d rather not talk about. I can extend to you the same courtesy, but I implore you to try and share everything you may think, no matter how painful or unnecessary you may find the thoughts. If you want to recover your memories, find out your truth, you need to be mentally willing to let it happen. If you try to block or defend yourself, if you doubt, it’ll be that much more difficult for the both of us.”

“I understand.” Out of everyone, Hannibal thought that Will could understand, in the least significantly more so than the fools. He regretted that Will said this with a grave tone, feeling a little sorry to darken the fleeting moment of Will’s curiosity, regardless of why he was curious.

“I was born in Lithuania to an aristocratic family. My father’s side of the family was descended from a known warlord who defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald in the beginning of the 15th century. My father married very well, my mother being descended from both the Visconti and Sforza families who ruled Milan for 250 years.”

Speaking of his mother, he felt himself frowning, intensely remembering that he had his mother’s eyes and his father’s ashen hair. With the images of his parents came three distinct scent memories, shocking in the recreation it almost staggered his breathing, causing him to swallow thickly. One memory was the sun-warmed wood of his mother’s ancient furnished room. It had been his favorite room in the whole castle.

The other was the initial smell of rancid, watered down soup, mixing horribly with the smell of rotten breath on the spoon.

Quickly, he selected the adagio movement of Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major by Mozart, finding sudden peace in the turns of musical phrases framed by twinkling piano keys, Mozart the master of cleverly placed accidental notes.

“There was a period of my life not too long ago when I spent massive amounts of energy pursuing my ancestry, and I managed to find surprising ties as far back as the 12th century buried deep in the ancient libraries of Italy.” He decided to not give too specific of information, although curious as to what Will would think if he told him he was related to Machiavelli.

“What about you, Will? Where did you come from?” He began to sketch again, wanting to change the subject away from himself.

“I was born in Louisiana. Lineage wise, I’m not too sure beyond knowing that both of my parents were from there. I traveled around a lot growing up, came back to Louisiana in my adult years and stayed until I was injured working in Homicide.” Will sounded bored. Hannibal waited, wanting him to give up more information on his own fruition as he had done.

“How about your parents? What was your mother like?” He finally prompted, setting down his marker at the finished wings.

“That’s some lazy psychiatry, Dr. Lecter. Low hanging fruit.” The gentle teasing was pleasant.

“I suspect that fruit is on a high branch, very difficult to reach.”

“So’s my mother. I never knew her. I guess I never really knew my father either. I followed him around from the boatyards of Biloxi and Greenville, all the way to lake boats on Erie. He was a fine enough man.”

“A boat house lifestyle, sounds quite curious.”

“We all can’t be born with silver spoons and ivory towers.” A low blow, confirming his earlier suspicions at the absent wealth of Will’s childhood.

“Harboring a half-buried grudge against the rich?”

“Aren’t we all?”

“Did he teach you how to fish?” Hannibal changed the conversation back toward his parents, getting up from the bench to sit at the foot of his cot, the sound of springs announcing his movement. He leaned against the cement as Will responded.

“Yes.” Will didn’t move away, his voice so close now.

“What else do you remember of your childhood?”

“Nothing now. I seem to remember them more when I’m not actively thinking about them. I see my mother in the faces of others, lifestyle decisions represented in ways I thought uniquely our own. Sometimes, I forget again. How about you? Do you remember much of your childhood?” Will’s voice was soft as he spoke, sorrowful reminiscing sounding wonderful on his voice.

“I remember everything.” He hadn’t meant to mirror Will’s tone, but he heard it bounce off the cement and crash back into his ears. He didn’t pity himself, just as he hardly pitied others.

“There were a lot of past tenses when you talked of your parents.” Will observed.

“Dead. In fact, all of my family is dead now.” He thought of the last parental figure he ever had, the beautiful Lady Murasaki, married to his long late uncle Robert Lecter and living in France. He had been thirteen years old when they adopted him.

“When was the last time you visited Lithuania?”

“I left Lithuania when I was thirteen. I haven’t been back.”

“Would you ever want to go back?” Hannibal frowned a little at this question.

“I think you know as well as I do what the sentence is for my crimes.” He couldn’t help but sneer at the word crimes.

“That was stupid of me to ask. I wasn’t thinking.”

“Even if I somehow gained my freedom, I think I would rather not go back. There are far better places to be, I can assure you.”

“I’m sorry you lost your family.” Will sounded very genuine when he said this.

“Thank you, but don’t be. I’m not, at least, not really.”

“Would you mind if we changed the topic? I’m feeling a little over the whole nostalgia thing.”

“Of course not. Thank you.” Hannibal was grateful, also ready to change conversations.

“How far did you get on your drawing?” A more tentative tone when he asked this.

“Far enough. I’ll finish it later.” This was far more interesting anyway.

“Were you drawing me again?” Hannibal felt his insides pull a little, the shy whisper of Will’s voice playing in his ear and sounding wonderful.

“Yes, Will. I have been.”

“Why do you draw me?” A great question, considering Hannibal wasn’t sure why he did himself. He supposed he was intrigued by Will, fascinated in his pathology, thinking his brutal way of viewing the world highly attractive. He had regarded Will’s form before, thinking him as fine and lean as the forms he had seen in the paintings he revered.

“To be honest, you match quite a few models painted by the old masters. It’s easy to place you in pieces that I’ve been inspired by. Your personal aesthetic fits well within a Caravaggio.”

Expectedly, Will fell silent. Not wanting him to withdraw just yet, Hannibal continued.

“Tell me, how is your fever? Did you take your pills?” Hannibal knew by smell that his fever was much the same.

“No, I didn’t, and please don’t ask me to.”

“I won’t.”

“Not aloud anyways.” Hannibal chuckled a little.

“Guilty.”

“They won’t help. I used to take these things by the handfuls to no success.” Hannibal bit his lip, curious as to what Will’s liver would taste like after abuse from NSAIDs and alcohol. Will sighed and Hannibal heard him rise off the bench, the spluttering of water being heard a second later as Will took his medicine. Will swallowed thickly and sat back on his chrome desk, clothing shifting against the cement signaling his back was once again against the wall. Hannibal mirrored him, sitting at the very end of the bed where the bench might be.

“Which did you pick, Paganini or Vieuxtemps?” A hoarse voiced Will asked, his constant personal inquiries delightful. Hannibal smiled, surprised Will even remembered, thinking that Will’s voice speaking French was beautiful.

Hannibal had to bite down hard at his reverie, seeing himself teaching Will the French he may have known at one point in his life, reteaching him proper pronunciation and articulation. Hannibal wanted to teach Will many things, he found, shaking his head to regain sobriety.

“I may have strayed from my original choices. In the end, I had picked Piano Sonata No. 12 in F Major by Mozart.”

“Is it still playing?”

“Can you hear it?” Hannibal mused. It took moments for Will to answer.

“I think so. I shouldn’t be able to do that, should I? This place… is it actually making me insane? Or, have I been insane this whole time.”

“You are not insane. We can both agree over the fact that no one is completely normal. People tend to float in a state of sane insanity, a self-defensive state learned over past failures. It’s healthy. Abnormal is normal. I wouldn’t worry.”

Will, shocking Hannibal to his core, started to hum a phrase of the Mozart piece that had been drifting between them in Hannibal’s mind. Hannibal cut off the music in his mind, his senses absorbing Will and his singing. It was wonderful to listen to, Hannibal devoid of any tangible music for a long time. When he finally finished his humming, they both sat in silence for a few beats.

“Beautiful, Will. You have a very pleasant singing voice.” Quiet honesty decorated his tone, Will obviously far from a professional but able to match pitch very well. He kept his quiet tone level as he complimented, but his insides were actively reeling at the fact that Will could pluck a song he most likely had never heard before out of the air between them.  Hannibal didn’t necessarily believe in psychics, but Will was so completely other that he didn’t want to sweep it under the rug by casually brushing it off as coincidence.

“It’s very beautiful. Peaceful. I think it had started just after you talked about Lithuania.” Will complimented, his voice sounding breathless, the sweet heat flickering back into Hannibal’s senses stronger than before. His fever was increasing, and he wondered if there was any correlation between the spikes in Will’s illness and his increasing empathy.

“You sound exhausted. Maybe it would be best for you to rest until this evening.” Will hummed in contemplation at the suggestion, taking in a deep breath and releasing it slowly.

“Will you play some music for me as I fall asleep?” Hannibal smiled, his heart plucking oddly in his chest at the request.

“Yes, I can.” Hannibal pondered at what to play for Will, deciding on Brahms’ Cello Sonata No.1.

“Lovely.” Will commented dreamily as his cot springs squeaked, the fatigue finally taking him.

“Will?” Hannibal asked a moment later, giving Will time to grow sedated, wanting him on the cusp of sleep when he asked this.

“Hmm?” A soft hum of an answer, his voice high-pitched.

“What did you dream of last night?” Hannibal whispered, hoping he was heard.

“You.” Will whispered back, promptly falling asleep.  

Chapter Text

Will was floating in a black abyss and looking down at himself in Chilton’s office, strapped to the two-wheeled dolly, angry and bored. It was evident all over his face, even with it shirked to one side set with determination.

“Do you consider yourself to have a grandiose sense of self-worth?” Dr. Chilton continued. Will, feeling brave in his anger, looked at him in the eyes.

As he stared down at himself and Chilton, Will remembered the buzzing in his eyes when he had looked at Chilton, the hatred deeper than anything tangible.

“I am not playing this game.” Dr. Chilton haltered, his jaw clenching before he started to speak again.

“Do you fail at accepting the responsibility for your own actions? Well, I suppose even if you don’t cooperate, I can answer that one for you.”

Then, Will lost himself, the scene disappearing in thick black smoke. In engulfed him, flooded into his nose and mouth, pushing past his ears. He felt himself filling up, knowing he was going to explode, his head practically bursting. Just as the pressure became too much, he exploded into a visceral screaming.

Once the screaming had finished, strong olive-toned hands appeared on his shoulders.

"Ready when you are.” The voice purred.

 

Will woke at dinner with a slow start, having been lulled to a fine sleep by cello music he wasn’t sure he actually heard. He rose slowly, feeling that he sat on the verge of remembering something but having no recollection of what it was. The squeaking wheels of the food trolley grated closer, and Will starting to steel himself against another temperature reading in an hour’s time, knowing that one temperature check wasn’t going to be enough by a long shot to placate them.

He stood and stretched, realizing he was dry and feeling a small personal relief that he didn’t have another wet dream. The embarrassment of the one before still ran very deep, his shame only moderately calmed by the hopeful assumption that Hannibal had been sleeping as well. He wished to no one in particular that Hannibal hadn’t heard, or at the extreme least, assumed it the sounds of night terrors. God forbid Hannibal ever found out that the dream had been about him.

It had started as a nightmare, horror encompassing him at first as a tall, thin and completely shadowed figure with huge antlers was staring at him. Will recognized the woods he had been in, knowing them as the same trees that made up the forest by his old farmhouse in Wolf Trap, VA. The black figure had one knee on the ground, kneeling and waiting, unblinking red eyes staring directly at him. Will remembered the feeling of his heart pounding in his throat, unsure of whether to run. His decision was made for him when the antlered shadow suddenly burst forward and sprinted directly towards him in the darkness. Will had ran until he thought he thought he would collapse, running and breaking through the scattered trees and directly into his safe farmhouse on the opposite side of the yard.

Once inside the house, locking the door with a loud snap and leaning his front against it, arms enveloped him warm and secure. Will fell back unquestioningly into the solid body that the arms were attached to, humming in satisfaction at his assured security. The hands started to wander, feeling every part of him and calming his terror. They pulled at his hair, traveling gently over his face, neck, shoulders, and over his pectorals to spend some time playing with his sensitive nipples. Unfortunately, they eventually voyaged away from his chest to his arms, fingers digging in all the recesses of his muscles. It had felt amazing, his skin lighting up all over, the hands unrelenting as they carved out all the shapes of him. His breathing started to hitch a little when the strong hands ran down the front of him, dipping into his protruding ab muscles and navel, roaming lower and lower, fingers spreading wide over his hips and thighs.

Will remembered trying to angle his most sensitive parts against the hands, them evading his attempts completely, teasing every part of his body from his head to his feet except the place he wanted to be touched most. The groping of the strong hands was tormenting, the teasing building painfully until the fingers finally tangled delicately in his pubic hair. Will had been unable to hold back anymore as he came without any direct contact against his desperate member. He had buckled back against the body behind him, shaken to his core at the strength of his release. He peered up at his savior, his security, registering olive skin, ashen hair, and deep maroon eyes.

“Are you okay?” Barney said, the tray long in the food carrier, his dark face staring pointedly at him with obvious worry. Will breathed in suddenly, desperate for air. He had been holding his breath, unrealizing it as he had fallen back into his dream.

Will walked forward, wiping his clammy face with his hands and taking the food out of the carrier, plopping it down on his chrome table with obvious discontentment. He didn’t respond to Barney, still bitter over the force feed, his resentment blooming with the knowledge that the tube they forced into him had been larger than necessary. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t Barney’s fault, but he didn’t want to face that fact just yet. Barney sighed again as he had done at breakfast and walked to Hannibal’s cell.

A blush crept up to blotch Will’s face at the man occupying the other cell. They had been talking very well into the late morning, Will shocked to find that he had genuinely enjoyed talking to Hannibal. It had been a little hard to make conversation at first, both from the shocking submission and readiness for therapy as well as the unrelenting and plaguing dream that continued to wade to the front of his mind. He didn’t know what to think, and even now, he didn’t know what to make of it. This wasn’t his first wet dream, and he reasoned that it most likely wouldn’t be his last. He wasn’t inherently ashamed of it, knowing it completely normal and purely biological, but the fact that Hannibal was the one in his dream to protect him from the monster, to bring him over the edge…

'Were you drawing me again?’ He had asked, the sensations coming and going from his body.

'Yes, Will. I have been.’ Will wondered whether he was drawing as he slept, fear creeping up at the possibility that Hannibal had indeed heard him, surprise also blooming among the fear that he felt keen on the idea of Hannibal drawing him again.

Will shook his head, not wanting to dwell on it anymore. He felt alright, his senses back and his fever there but low. The medicine had worked well enough, although the familiar stabbing pain in his gut told him that his body still hadn’t recovered from his abuse of NSAIDs before his conviction. He was sad, as well as surprised in his sadness, to note that no lingering music was able to be heard wafting over from the next cell. Will idly strained his ears above the commotion of trays and wheels. Once the corridor quieted, music absent, Hannibal spoke.

“You must feel better.” Will wondered how he knew.

“Quite, thanks.” Will spooned in some rice and chewed slowly.

“But not completely?”

“No, not completely.” His skin felt thinner, the fatigue coming easier now than it ever had before.

“Will you be okay to stay up tonight?” Will frowned a little, swallowing some more rice and sighing through his nose. Hannibal seemed so eager to start, the trepidation that had been momentarily placated before creeping up again. Will mentally tried to hold onto the confidence he felt in Hannibal, regardless of how odd it was.

“I think so, yes.” He said slowly, setting down his plasticware and scooting his tray away from him. The anxiety made the food taste even worse.

“It may be difficult to do so, but in your condition, I highly suggest eating as much as you possibly can.” Hannibal offered from the next cell.

“You’re one to talk.” He quipped, feeling the small smile that graced the doctor’s face.

“I recognize the hypocrisy, absolutely. Still, I’m not the one who has been fighting a losing battle against illness.”

“Illness? What makes you say that?” Will knew he had been battling the fever for some time, but he had personally concluded that it was due to the near constant state of stress and anxiety he found himself in, knowing that stress could do wonders on the immune system.

“Would you like the honest answer?”

“When do I not?” Will asked, looking back down at his rice. He considered it again, Hannibal shaking his nerve a little, and started to pick at his food. If he had been suffering from an illness, wouldn’t that have been addressed at the hospital? Will had spent three days in their care. His inquiry was interrupted as he heard Hannibal take in a big breath, the inhale sounding much closer than his voice had been a second before.

“Your smell.” Hannibal’s tone was right by him, and it filled Will with a different sense of apprehension.

“You… Did you just smell me? Can you really smell me from there?” Will felt slightly disconcerted at the invasion, swallowing and trying to recompose himself as he heard the confusion borderlining intrigue in his voice. In his own privacy, he leaned his chin down to smell toward his body, scenting some perspiration and the harsh cleaning products they used on the prison romper.

“I have had an extremely strong sense of smell since childhood. I was aware one of my teachers had stomach cancer before they did.” Will’s eyebrows rose a little with the news, the embarrassment slowly seeping in with the knowledge, his face mottled hot again.

“Hmm… this might be the first time I wish I had allowed you to omit the truth.” He said honestly. He couldn’t even envision what it smelled like down here in the pit with Hannibal’s sense of smell, feeling wholly self-conscious.

“I’m sorry.” Hannibal muttered, the apology sounding odd.

“Me too, actually. I can only imagine what you’ve had to endure down here, as well as throughout your whole life. I also feel like I should apologize for… uh…” Will was blushing for a completely different reason than he had been before, Hannibal cutting him off.

“Please, don’t apologize. If it makes you feel better, I have trained myself to block out all senses I find personally intrusive, sights and sounds included. It’s not only a defensive mechanism for myself, as you can imagine, but also done out of respect. I try my best to keep my senses to myself… unless deemed necessary. I don’t wish to be a literal nosey neighbor.” The unexpected pun momentarily brought a smirk to Will’s face, him always appreciating Hannibal’s subtle humor. Even with the humor, Will recognized that his wording was dangerous.

Hannibal’s subjective ruled above all around him in his life, the rest victims of his whim.

“Respect?” Will questioned.

“Certainly.”

Hannibal’s proclamation settled over him like his olive-toned hands had done in the dream. From the glimpses of his crime scenes and wreck pictures, Will recognized the blatant disregard for people’s lives, them amounting no more than pigs regardless of their personal circumstances. Parental figures and children of others alike had not been enough to save them from Hannibal’s personal brand of justice, the rude insolent no matter who they were to anyone else. The respect that others had not been given made him feel remarkably safe and utterly in danger.

“Thank you, Hannibal.” Will whispered thickly against the memory of Hannibal caressing him, trying to blink it away. He continued to eat, finishing almost the whole tray.

“Of course, Will.”

“So, uhm… what illness do you think I have?” Will continued, coughing a little in the rise of sudden awkwardness.

“I don’t think I want to divulge on that information just yet, as my guess is purely that. There is no real certainty, although I think I may have ran into something similar when I was only a medical student. The smell brought me back, sent me into a recollected clinical setting, and at first, I thought it may be influenza. Your symptoms and the general observations I made in terms of your behavior told me that it wasn’t as simple as that. I had smelled it on you right away, the first night you came in here. Do you remember?”

He closed his eyes and thought back to the transport truck he had been captive in, falling asleep just as he had met Chilton outside.

“I remember that I had tried to stay awake as they brought me inside, although shortly after I formally met Chilton outside the hospital I fell asleep. I think the stress from traveling and general anxiety wiped me out. I remember that I woke up sometime inside my cell and Barney was talking to me.”

The silence that lingered between them after he had explained this felt suffocating, something as easy as his recollection playing oddly in the air. Will mentally groped for the other cell, feeling slightly guilty as Hannibal had just clarified that the respect he felt for Will kept his own senses to himself, and felt a subtlety of surprise.

“What is it?” Will asked after too long of quiet.

“You don’t remember fighting with the orderlies?”

“What?”

“You caused quite a bit of commotion when you first arrived. I remember I was revisiting Orvieto at the time in my mind palace and the ruckus brought me back. I listened as you were fighting against three orderlies, Chilton commanding something I couldn’t make out over the fighting and then it all went quiet. They had to drug you into submission, Will.”

His eyes widened by the recounting, a tight sickness in his stomach enveloping him. He remembered he had felt sedated when he awoke to Barney the first night, remembering that it had been hard to move and hard to talk. He also recalled feeling surprised when he spent the first night in the hospital wing upstairs, as it was revealed to him that Chilton already felt such disfavor for him. He had been practically kicked out of the hospital once Chilton learned his fever had broken sometime throughout the night, adding insult to injury as he had to deal with his first supervised shower.

“I’m so tired of finding out things that I have done while I was unconscious. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” Will whispered, his near rage causing him to shake, the food he had just eating threatening to rise.

“Try and calm your breathing, Will.” A spark of deeper worry flared from the next cell, Hannibal’s tone concerned.

“What else have I done? What else have I done?” Will asked, knowing Hannibal didn’t have any answer for him, reaching up to grab at his short curls.

“We’ll find out together. We’ll find out everything you want to know and more.” Hannibal’s quiet confidence helped, his assurance seeming infallible.

Will swallowed, fighting back impending tears.

“May I ask another question?”

“Sure, why not?” Bitterness was evident.

“Do you remember biting Chilton?” Hannibal cut straight to it, no questions leading up to this one.

At the prompting, small flashes of certain images pushed their way to the front of his mind, remembering flesh between his teeth and his mouth bitter.

“No… I mean… I had hoped… Oh, Christ.” Will spat, angry that tears started to spill. When has he ever cried this much? Pathetic.

“It’s okay, Will.” Hannibal said in a consoling matter.

“Is it, Dr. Lecter? Is it okay?” Will’s anger flared violently in a rush, tempted to take his food tray and throw it across his cell. He stood up instead, walking the small paces from his cot to bookshelf, the size more oppressing now with his anger, fueling it.

“It’s okay that you don’t remember.” Hannibal clarified cool and slow, ever patient even with Will’s rage.

Breathing out a slow breath to stop himself from yelling again, Will asked,

“Did I really bite him? I was conscious when I went into therapy. I was there.” Incredulousness was evident in his tone, and he felt like he was grasping toward hope one more time before it died.

“And then what?”

“I…” Will strained, trying to remember how he had gotten from the office to the SHU.

“What is the last thing that you do remember? What is the clearest memory or sensation that you have before you went to solitary?” Will closed his eyes and searched before the SHU but after he had left his cell. It was tough to pinpoint, the memories buried behind three days of darkness and lingering ghosts.

“I denied taking the MMPI. I knew by his questions what it was. I felt… insulted.” He started, his eyebrows scrunching up in the effort of recollection.

“I felt angry.” He whispered, it suddenly filling up in his stomach and then drifting away.

“Then I… went away. I don’t remember leaving, I just... Did I really bite him?” He finished, opening his eyes.

“It’s unfortunate, but if we extrapolate from the timing of the occurrence, the commotion I personally heard from my cell, and the simple fact that you said so yourself when Chilton came to see you, I’d have to say yes, Will. You all but admitted it just before your seizure.” Hannibal explained, his tone odd.

Will clenched his fists. More. There was always more.

“What did I say to him?” Will asked in a deadly whisper.

“It’s not uncommon to experience some amnesia after a seizure.”

“Just answer the question, Doctor.” Will said impatiently, his voice rising a little.

“I will recount the conversation to the best of my ability.” Hannibal responded, Will thinking his tone sounded a little stiff.

“Good morning, Will. How was punitive segregation? Did you enjoy it?” Hannibal started, doing a surprisingly accurate impersonation of Chilton’s slight southern drawl. Hannibal paused, and Will was about to ask why he had stopped when he started again in Chilton’s tone.

“So, now you have nothing to say for yourself? You had plenty of things to say in our session, and even more in the SHU!” Will gulped, wondering what he said and having no clue.

“I find it curious that someone like you, albeit a failed doctor, who deals with life and death situations every day would be so frivolous, so nonchalant, with a person like me.” Hannibal continued, switching his tone to sound a deeper version of Will, American accent seamless. His imitations were almost spot on, and even through Will’s fiery anger and total shock of the apparent conversation, he had to appreciate it.

“It sounds like me, but doesn’t feel like me.” Will thought, and he tried to squeeze the anger, putting an icy cap on it. He wanted to really listen, quieting his turmoil for the moment.

“What are you suggesting?” Hannibal spat as Chilton must have done, angry at Will’s words.

“The strange thing to me is that despite your should-be-easy familiarity with human mortality, you aren’t able to readily apply such a scenario to your day by day life. One might wonder what that says about you.” Will couldn’t believe what he was hearing, understanding where he had apparently been coming from, but he was getting the distinct impression of someone else’s words flowing, as if he was a messenger of someone else’s thoughts.

“Tell me something, Mr. Graham, are you that desperate?” Hannibal continued,

“In fact, I personally wonder… being surrounded by death, seeing that mortality ending so frequently in your line of work, does it start to make you feel like it’s always other people? Do you ever feel that it couldn’t, wouldn’t, possibly happen to you? See, I think that maintaining a distance is necessary in order for medical professionals to be able to do their job well. In your case, had you done your job well, you would still have the rest of your face.”

Hannibal fell silent after he said this, and Will felt close to being sick, the taste of blood filling up his senses again. He let the words sink in, wanting to question Hannibal’s transcription, desperately wondering if he had spiced up or altered the discussion in any way. Will closed his eyes, his hands shakily running through his hair over and over again, unable to control himself. In the darkness behind his eyes, he remembered knowing that Chilton was on his way down to see him, and in his desperation to not see him, he fell asleep.

“Will?”

Will didn’t respond.

“Talk to me.” Hannibal asked, his voice suddenly lighter with trepidation.

“Hannibal could be lying… How would I be able to tell? I had three days in the SHU I can barely remember. I was so tired when Chilton came to poke at me. I knew I had fallen asleep... I had fallen asleep.”

“Please don’t lie to me…” Will whined out quietly, feeling tears stinging his eyes again. He quickly blinked them away.

“If Hannibal wasn’t lying, though…”

“I repeated the conversation word by word. I didn’t alter it in the slightest. I’m not lying to you.” Hannibal’s voice was so soft and gentle, the gentlest he had heard it.

“You sounded like me, my character met, but those words don’t feel like mine. I don’t remember saying those things to Chilton. I know I had fallen asleep. It… wasn’t me.” Will stopped and shook his head.

“I’m not lying to you.” Hannibal slowly repeated more confidently, and Will probed the next cell with his mind. He felt many things, mostly transparent honesty mixed with the heavy intrigue that always seemed to accompany their conversations.

Then, just lingering over the concern was relish.

The sound of the orderlies coming back haltered their heated conversation, Will pacing in his cell until he had to put the tray into the carrier, slamming it through with unnecessary force.

Barney looked at him. Will could feel his eyes across his back as he walked away from the tray.

“How are you doing?” Barney said pointedly. When Will turned back around to face the carrier, he registered with a quick glance at his eyes that Barney was keenly picking up any hostile behavior. Barney looked at him with concern, as he always did, but there was recognition behind his dark gaze as well.

Will wanted to scoff. He grunted a noncommittal noise instead, wiping at his face and hair.

“I’ll be needing to take your temperature…” Barney started, Will stopping his pacing in the middle of his cell and dropping his head forward in frustration, his hands placing on the back of his neck as he stood his ground.

“It’s fine, really. Much of the same.” Will attempted.

“Please lay down on your cot like you did before.” Barney directed. Will sighed, shaking his head after a few seconds.

“Barney, please.” Will asked quietly, turning to look at him square in the face. Barney pursed his lips, conflict evident in his face.

“Listen, I get it. We’re invasive, but we have to be… You’re sick, Will, and right now you’re as white as a ghost and slick with sweat.” Will didn’t miss how Barney’s eyes flickered toward Hannibal’s cell for a moment, blinking whatever thought away and bringing his attention back to Will.

‘You’re sick’ Sounded in Will’s head, the voice of Abigail, Jack, and Barney ringing.

“Please lay face down on your cot. Let’s see how your temperature is.” Barney coaxed.

“If I may say so, I strongly recommend listening to what he has to say.” A voice came from nowhere, the southern slang widening the pit in Will’s stomach.

“You know, he won’t be afraid to use force.” Chilton appeared to the left of Barney, having crept down here to monitor him.

“Do you really have nothing else better to do?” Will asked him, refusing the temptation to look at the damage he had done to his face.

“Lay down on your cot.” Chilton commanded, ignoring his jab.

“No.” The hatred for Chilton welded up inside him, his stomach boiling.

“You don’t and you go back to Seg.” Will didn’t react, but couldn’t stop the thought,

“And be alone again. I’m not ready. Not yet.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Chilton derided in Will’s sudden silence, and he could feel Chilton’s greasy smile from here.

Will laid face down on the cot without another word, desperate now not to go back into the SHU, his rage practically shaking the handcuffs when they slammed closed around his wrists. He was swallowing hard against his emotion, resolute in not showing Chilton his terror of the SHU.

“101. It’s coming back up.” Barney said after the digital beeping of the thermometer.

“Not too high. We’ll wait.” Chilton said from outside the cell.

“With all due respect…” Barney interjected.

“With all due respect, we are done here, and I suggest you finish collecting the trays.” Chilton mocked, Will seeing the sneer without looking at him.

Barney’s silence was near malevolent, his anger pulsing hot against his hands as Barney undid the handcuffs. Barney seemed to hover for a moment in Will’s cell, Chilton’s footsteps traveling back upstairs.

“I’ll leave you some more ibuprofen.” Barney said quietly, not wanting Chilton to hear. He pulled out some small red pills and put them on the chrome table, both barriers closing before Will dared to move.

Will curled up into a ball on his cot, his mind feeling full and heavy, his skin prickling.

There was something about him acting out while he had consciously decided to sleep that bothered him more than it ever had before. It was different than what he had already suspected of himself, and much harder to accept. Nothing about this was easy to admit, knowing that for the remainder of his life he would regret slaying all that innocence, but it would have been easier to do had he been acting out in his sleep with no control over what happened between the periods of consciousness.

He didn’t want to contemplate the possibilities of him committing his crimes more than he needed to, having just recently decided to search out those buried memories in the foolish hope that they didn’t really exist, that someone might have been causing this to happen all this time. The evidence was overwhelming, but that hadn’t really been enough for him. Now, hearing that he was having full conversations that were relatively intelligent while he had decided to sleep, it stabbed at him. Everything was true. The proof was more than fishing lures and sinew, more than an ear floating in a puddle of vomit. It was possible, conceivable, undeniable.

He was a murderer.

 

This thought kept Will quiet until the lights shuddered off and the shots were administered to the inmates, Will’s stomach flipping with fright, feeling Hannibal readiness to talk in the air.

“May I continue?” Hannibal asked in the darkness, his voice close to his cell.

“What else could I tell you? You know more than I do it feels like.” Will asked softly, unable to hide the emotion in his voice. He felt disappointed, frightened, confused, and angry. So angry.

“You mentioned that you slipped away?”

“That’s what I think I did. I don’t know how to describe it.”

“What makes you think that?” Will closed his eyes in the darkness with a sigh, re-concentrating on his session with Chilton.

“I was there, talking to him, feeling bored and insulted at the same time, and then… I wasn’t.” He reiterated, trying to get himself back to where he was before.

“Can you remember the last question he asked you?” Will strained against this question, Hannibal patient and quiet until he came up with his answer, the memory coming easier now that he was sure they were alone.

“Do you fail at accepting the responsibility for your own actions?” Will said, scoffing.

“Then he said, ‘Well, I suppose even if you don’t cooperate, I can answer that one for you.’ That’s the last thing I remember.”

“How did that comment make you feel?”

“Angry.”

“Then darkness?”

“I remember waking up and knowing I wasn’t in my cell. I could tell the room was very small even in the complete darkness. My throat hurt, and my mouth…” Will swallowed, hearing his voice waver with the emotion. Then, he continued,

“My mouth tasted like blood, and there were… bits… in between my teeth.” Will ignored the heady interest that floated to his cell from Hannibal’s.

“What else?” His voice was husky and soft.

“I’m not sure… the SHU is a blur to me. I have a heavy sensation in my mind that I had been privy to things inside solitary, but once I was out, they were gone. It’s like the three days vanished completely and I found myself suddenly outside.”

“How did you feel when you were out?”

“Desperate to be back here, back to… safety. I felt confused and tired.” Will admitted, curling up a little more on his cot, swallowing thickly.

“How much of our conversation do you remember?”

“All of it, at least, until I went to sleep as to not deal with Chilton. I remember thinking I would have rather been in the SHU than deal with Chilton in that moment. Then, I woke up on the floor.” Hannibal hummed in contemplation, Will wishing he could hear what he was thinking.

“Tell me about some other times you knew you had been unconscious but woke up to a different story?” It was a request rather a demand. Will remembered that Hannibal would allow him to omit things he didn’t want to talk about.

“Are we still doing the quid pro quo thing?” Will asked with some hope, thinking that they could share the vulnerability just a bit. The soft chuckle from Hannibal made him feel a little better.

“If you’d like, of course.”

“Tell me more about when I first arrived here?”

“Well, after you had been drugged into submission, you talked to Chilton a bit in your cell. Insulted him pretty good, too, if I remember correctly.” Hannibal’s tone was full of humor then.

“I talked to Chilton?” Will’s stomach dropped, hoping that Hannibal wouldn’t have had anything to say. Will vaguely wondered when hope would die completely and leave him the hell alone.

“Yes, he was droning about protocols and regulations. I blocked those out as Chilton deviates from policies often enough to not take what he says seriously. You were quiet, reeling from drugs I think, and he scolded you for ignoring him. Shall I repeat the conversation?”

“Please…” With dread, he listened.

“Mr. Graham, it’s rude to completely ignore the person addressing you. You’re only making this harder for yourself. The sooner you conform, the easier your transition will be, William. I’m only here to…” Hannibal started, the drawl back and making Will feel uncomfortable. Even an imitation of Chilton’s voice caused a full body reaction, his emotions spiking.

“…The person?” Hannibal continued as him, his voice deep and malicious. It made Will’s heart beat erratically, a deadly threat already lurking behind the inquiry.

“Excuse me?” Hannibal asked as Chilton.

“Completely ignore the person addressing me?” Hannibal said, breaking off for a moment to add in his normal speech,

“This was the first time I smelled your rage. It was white hot and completely defensive.” Will stayed silent, and Hannibal continued.

“Yes, right, like I was saying before…” A less confident southern drawl.

“What you don’t understand is that you aren’t a person to me, no more than unknown and unseen entities or concepts are people to anyone else at any given time. Even standing here in front of me, you barely register as a physical representation of anything, and I’m known to see things that aren’t there. You don’t even trigger a neurological response as something to notice. It’s why no one consults you or your professional opinion. It’s why you cling to your mediocre advancements, the thick paper of your achievements hanging up in your office as fragile as your self-esteem, desperate and pathetic. You lack, Dr. Chilton, and I don’t find you interesting enough to waste the time I don’t even have on something as made up as you.” Hannibal’s imitation of Will faltered slightly, feeling his wide smile from his cot.

“I remember thinking that we would get along. You rattled Chilton from the start, Will.” He said fondly.

“That would explain why he was so rude in the hospital. I had no idea what I had done to make him so malevolent against me. I thought maybe it had to do with the fact that we hadn’t worked together in the past.” Will swallowed, not meaning to bring up his career into the conversation and hoping this slip of the tongue wasn’t going to open the can of worms. He continued, not wanting Hannibal to respond.

“Thank you for telling me.” Will said honestly.

“I’ll excuse the discussion of your career for now as I’d rather you be more comfortable with me.” Hannibal said pointedly, obviously noticing his disdain.

“Would you be offended if I wasn’t completely comfortable with you? I don’t mean it malevolently, I just can’t see how I could be any more comfortable with this situation than I already am.”

“Would you lend me your creativity for a moment?”

“How can I do that?” Will asked tentatively, unflexing from his cot with some effort. He turned to face the concrete wall, toward Hannibal’s voice.

“Surrounded by your prison, I know the inhibitions your environment creates. There are ways to send your mind to a safe place, to allow yourself to open your mind without hesitation. If I were to conduct some hypnotherapy, do you think you could manage to be responsive?”

“I think I can manage that.” Will whispered, nervous to willingly slip back and engulf himself in Hannibal’s described world.

“You think? I want, need, you to be comfortable with this. Otherwise, it may not work. Conscious critical faculties are something we’ll need to bypass together.”

Will swallowed.

“I can manage it.” He whispered, feeling Hannibal’s soft smile from his cot. In preparation, Will rolled over to his back, comfortable enough on his cot.

Then, Hannibal began tapping in a rhythm, Will hearing the plastic container of his felt-tipped marker bouncing off the cement walls. Will listened to the rhythm, aware that it kept pace with his own heartbeat.

"As I speak, you will relax.” Hannibal’s voice filled his head in the darkness, not louder than it had been before, but more apparent.

“Close your eyes.” Will complied, sighing.

“Feel the heaviness in your limbs.” Hannibal’s voice rang, tingling his ears, his voice husky and relaxing.

“Imagine yourself in a safe and relaxing place…” Hannibal’s voice was getting farther away, Will’s mind flooded with the warm lighting of his little farmhouse living room, it flickering away like the flames in his fireplace.

“...safe and secure, safe to relax completely... No matter how deeply you go... My voice will go with you.” With a sudden rush, his body feeling as if it was being pulled, he was standing solidly in front of his fireplace, the fire warm on his face and crackling animatedly. He lost himself in the warmth for the moment, breathing in deep and letting it out, all stress forgotten.

A creak behind him made him aware of a tingling in the room, electricity sparking up his back. He turned, his usual tentative nature seemingly absent as he turned to face the presence in the room.

Hannibal Lecter, dressed supremely in a familiar blue colored three-piece suit and fine brown shoes, was standing in the middle of his living room. His maroon eyes were fixed on Will’s, the electricity between them the heaviest it had been.

Hannibal blinked, and Will felt himself blink back, the pair of them simply standing across the living room from each other, observing each other.

“You can see me?” Will whispered.

“Yes, Will. I see you.”

Chapter Text

Tap, tap, tap, a shuddering, releasing breath, and Will was his.

Hannibal breathed in, the mind of Will Graham mostly at his disposal. The curiosity of so much boiled just under the surface of Hannibal’s skin, but he ignored the temptations. He wanted to focus on what they had agreed to, and Will’s fragile trust was more important than grasping for knowledge he might find out on his own.

Hannibal’s ears were buzzing with concentration, wanting to make absolute sure that Will was fully under before he stopped his rhythmic tapping, using his own heartbeat as a guide. Will’s breathing was noticeably different, deep and relaxed. Hypnosis is much easier when you are physically in front of the person, knowing that those new to hypnosis often require deepeners as well as tests of suggestibility, but he would make do. Hannibal closed his eyes as he concentrated on his senses, relying on hearing, scent, and his imagination.

“Are you safe?”

“Yes.” A relatively normal sounding response considering his breathing.

“Where are you?”

“Home.” A sweet tone in his voice, like relief.

“Tell me about it?”

Hannibal let Will take his time with his details, only probing occasionally when he felt it necessary, not wanting to interrupt the exquisite detail of Will’s recollection. His mind grasped onto whatever Will was saying, extrapolating with vivid detail the small farmhouse that Will obviously cherished. While listening, Hannibal vaguely wondered whether Will would describe his home in the same manner regardless of the hypnosis.

In response to Will’s subjectively forced forthcomings, maintaining the quid pro quo agreement, Hannibal also opened about himself in his daily life, hoping that Will’s opened imagination was as keen of the details as he was. Hannibal explained himself as he thought others would see himself, three-piece suits sharp and custom. Will hummed along with the details, letting Hannibal know he heard and understood.

“Where are you inside your home?”

“In front of the fireplace.” Hannibal, his eyes still closed, latched onto the image of plaid-shirted Will, his hands in his pockets in a relaxed state staring toward the stone laden fireplace.

“There you are.” Hannibal whispered, the details more powerful than the drawings he was slowly becoming accustomed to.

“You can see me?” A hesitant question.

“Yes, Will. I see you. Do you see me?” This phrase made Will suck in a breath unexpectedly, the cot jostling slightly with perhaps a body tremor.

“What is it?”

“It’s… him. Why is it always him?” Will’s voice was shaking with the sudden rise in emotion, his fever puffing out against Hannibal’s delicate nose.

“Who?”

“Garret Jacob Hobbs…” A deadly whisper, the name familiar.

“The Minnesota Shrike?” Hannibal’s stomach tingled a little, his initial thoughts of Will working with the FBI solidifying with the statement. The realization didn’t feel like he thought it would, his mind on revenge against Crawford when Will was first brought in. With a slower awareness, Hannibal recognized that he cared less about getting back at Crawford than he did before, the priority somehow lessening over the short period of time.

Hannibal concluded, with some surprising regret, that if he ever found out that Will helped Crawford catch him... 

Hannibal shook his head, not wanting to think about it, wanting to stay with Will as he was now.

“I see him all the time. I know he’s dead. I killed him, yet… I see him everywhere.” Will continued, not negating the question. Hannibal mentally recollected all that he had read about Hobbs, thinking that the name of the special agent that shot and killed Hobbs wasn’t mentioned.

“Is he alive when you see him?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes, he’s full of the holes I put in him.” Will continued to whisper, struggling.

“You shot him?”

“I shot him nine times.”

“Have you shot anyone before when you were on duty?”

“No.”

“Did you kill anyone before Hobbs?”

“Apparently, yes…” Will said with some disbelief. 

“Why did you have to shoot him? How did this meeting come about?” Hannibal would round back to the apparently a little later. 

“It was coincidence, a guess. We had found a piece of pipe metal in one of the victims’ clothes which led us to Hobbs’ old work place. His resignation letter was peculiar in a vague sort of way, and we were grasping at anything. There were some odd reoccurring absences, but the thing that stuck out to me was that he didn’t leave any sort of address on his resignation letter.”

“You believed he had something to hide?”

“Everyone else had left addresses, but he only left a phone number. We managed to get his address, and we pulled up to the house. I was walking up to his front door when it opened, and Hobbs pushed his wife out onto the porch steps. She was bleeding. He had cut her throat too deep for me to help her. I left her to die on the steps while I went inside Hobbs’ house…” Will’s breath had started shaking with his recollection, knowing that the images had to be painfully vivid behind his closed eyes.

“I found him in the kitchen with a knife to his daughter Abigail’s throat. Oh, Abigail…” Will whined in a tense whisper. The emotion towards Abigail wasn’t explained, but Hannibal doubted he would be kept in the dark for long.

“Then what happened?”

“Hobbs slashed Abigail’s throat like he had done to her mother, and I started to shoot him. I shot him once in the shoulder, but he wouldn’t stop going after Abigail. He raised his knife high in the air after he staggered back, wanting to finish her off when I fired eight more times, finally sending him crashing back against the corner of his kitchen cabinets… I was on the ground with Abigail, trying to stop her bleeding, when…” Will paused, straining with the emotion.

“You can tell me.” He said soothingly, listening with rapt attention.

“I almost didn’t hear him speak to me over Abigail’s wheezing. He died hissing the question ‘See?’ to me. He repeated it twice… dared to smirk… and died.”

“What do you think he meant by it?”

“Abigail was his golden ticket, the muse for his murders. His victims looked just like her, and I knew that he was killing these others because he wouldn’t kill her…”

“You saved her?”

“Yes. Her cut wasn’t as deep as her mother’s. She survived… until… I…” Salt hit the air, mingling wonderfully with his heated sweetness.

“You killed her?”

“I ate her.” Will moaned out, tears heavy now.

“Do you remember eating her?”

“I… I can’t… I think…” Will was stammering, the high level of emotions toying with the should be clarity of his memories. 

“Will, look at me. I want you to look at me and stay grounded. I’m here with you in your farmhouse, and you are safe, remember?” Hannibal asked, hoping that in Will’s mind that he was back in the safety of his farmhouse and staring at Hannibal’s face rather than in the bloodied kitchen with a girl dying under him.

“Safe.” Will coughed, sniffing from a runny nose.

“I’m stepping forward toward you. I’m directly in front of you now.”

“Yes.”

“I’m putting a hand on your shoulder. Can you feel it?”

“Yes.”

“I have the confidence in you that you don’t have in yourself. Trust my judgement, trust the confidence I have in your ability to remember.”

“I don’t want to remember. Not her. Not yet.” Will trembled, pulling a little at Hannibal’s chest. He didn’t want to remember, either, equally as guilty of shoving any memory of Mischa away.

“Who would you consider your first victim, Will?”

“Cassie Boyle.”

“Tell me about her.”

“Not here. I’d like to go somewhere else. I can’t talk about it in my home.” Hannibal smiled, the respect he had for his house apparent through his trance, not wanting to spoil the memories of his home and bog them down with the long dead.

“Alright, I want you to close your eyes. I want you to listen carefully to what I’m saying, and I want you to imagine yourself there with me.” Hannibal knew that Will’s eyes were still closed from before, but he wanted Will to concentrate.

The explanation of his old psychiatric office took some time, Hannibal personally getting lost in the grandeur of it, the colors, the textures of his chairs and fainting couch, reveling that he still remembered each book that had been tucked away on the bookshelves and on the loft above the ground floor. Will listened, his breathing calming as Hannibal continued to go into unnecessary detail.

“There are two black leather chairs set five feet apart from one another near the middle of the room. I’m sitting on the edge of my desk, looking into the room. Where are you?”

“Near the ladder to go up into your loft.” Hannibal proceeded to picture him there, leaning against the ladder with his fists clenched tightly on either side of it. He would draw that later whenever he had the time.

“Why don’t you have a seat in one of the chairs? Make yourself comfortable.”

“Alright.” Will’s voice sounded with displeasure, Hannibal assuming Will’s discomfort for his profession carried through even under trance. Hannibal smirked a little at this, imagining Will walking over to one of the black chairs and sitting down, his eyes on everything else but him.

“I’m walking over and sitting in the chair opposite you. Although this isn’t your home, this is a safe place. You can tell me anything in here, no matter what.”

“You still want me to talk about Cassie Boyle?” Will asked with a slight sigh, as if he was impatient or displeased.

“Please, I would like that very much.”

“What would you like to know?”

“Tell me, with as much detail as you can, when you thought you first met her.” Will took his time, and Hannibal allowed the silence to drag on, knowing Will would speak when he was ready.

“I had thought I first met her dead in a field in Minnesota. I had already been awake when I got Jack’s call. I had recently adopted a new stray, Winston, and he wasn’t used to the pack’s schedule.” Hannibal swallowed at the mention of Jack’s name.

“I remember hearing a low and deep humming over Jack’s voice, the humming threatening to burst through my ears. I had to take the phone away from my face because I was worried Jack would hear it. Sounds silly to say it out loud.”

“Jack called and you left?” All this talk about Jack was ruining his mood slightly, but he ignored it.

“I travelled to Minnesota. Jack had briefly described the crime scene to me over the phone, but it didn’t prepare me for what I saw in that dead, golden-colored field. The murder of crows were calling deafeningly and circling overhead when I was walking toward the rest of the agents. The call of the crows mixed with the crunching of dead grass and hay in the field that sounded like bones under my boots. The presentation was obvious even from the area where I entered, and I had to keep my distance at first. The murder was eating the murdered, I remember, the crows eventually scared away by someone from the science unit.”

“And then what?” Hannibal’s voice was quiet with intrigue, his mind recalling smells of nature and death at Will’s words, hearing the crows call out as if they were in his cell, hearing bones snap beneath Will’s feet.

“Thin channels of blood had curved their way down her mounted body, dripping onto the creature that was propped underneath her. Her blood created a shocking contrast between the dried, husky hue of it and her insipid skin. A large stag’s head was what mounted her up like a table, large antler prongs raping through her chest, hips, and thighs to keep her level. Her too familiar maiden brown hair was coiled untidily underneath her head and her arms were sprawled out on either side, resting down by the prongs of the beheaded stag, the dead weight of her pulling them down and stretching her small shoulder joints. Even though I was standing in front of her, I felt like I was dreaming. I had thought that this criminal had never left any part of any of his victims for the FBI to find before, aside from the mistaken murder of Elise Nichols who was left apologetically in her bed. Now, there was everything the FBI could want besides what I had guessed correctly were missing organs.” Will’s voice grew quieter as he talked, losing himself in the details much to Hannibal’s pleasure.

“At the time, I had thought that Hobbs wanted her to be found this way. It’s the homicidal equivalent of fecal smearing. It’s petulant. I almost felt like he was mocking her… or he was mocking us. I eventually walked completely up to the body, my senses filled with the woman so disrespectfully displayed in front of us, when Jack said something that opened my mind to the obvious fact that whoever had killed those girls, whoever had accidentally killed Elise Nichols, had not killed Cassie Boyle.”

“How did you know? What did Jack say?”

“Jack asked, more in rhetorical way, where all of his love went. See, the Minnesota Shrike loved women. Cassie had been displayed vulgarly, and yet Elise had been tucked into bed with deer velvet in her wounds to promote healing that would never happen. As expected, Cassie’s lungs were missing, and the science team were positive they had been removed while she was still living. I had the distinct impression that whoever had killed Cassie thought she was a pig. Once this realization hit me, I tried to leave the crime scene, as I knew that this was no Shrike murder.”

“Do you think some of you knew that Hobbs didn’t kill her because you had?”

“At the time, no. All that insight was based on the comparison between the crime scene in front of me and the lack of crime scenes before. There wasn’t a scrap of evidence that was left behind by Hobbs until the metal shred. The blaring differences, if anything, helped me see Hobbs more clearly than ever before. It helped me see that he had at least two houses or a cabin, one of which had to have had an antler room. The field kabuki made me aware that Hobbs also had a daughter with the same hair and eye color as the rest of the girls. The crime scene had been practically gift-wrapped…”

Hannibal marveled at Will for the moment, his empathy gift continually impressive. It was becoming clearer to Hannibal that Will had gotten so far inside Hobbs’ frame of mind that he had been unaware of himself killing someone that fit within the mold of victim. The only thing that stood out to Hannibal was the disrespect in which Will had chosen to display her. If he had been completely fused with Hobbs’ mindset, why the disrespect? Why the aptly worded field kabuki?

“Thank you for telling me. Your recollections are astounding on their own, Will. Now, if you can, I want you to try and tell me when you actually first met Cassie Boyle.” Will paused for a moment, his breathing slow and calm, and his voice came out quiet and slow with his recalling.

“…I had first met her in a bar. I can’t remember which one, but I remember I was sitting there stewing about… well, a lot of things. I had met with Jack before he had… officially called me to go to Minnesota. The investigation wasn’t going well, and it was even more difficult because of a journalist releasing classified photos and insight into Hobbs’ crimes. They must have had someone inside the FBI, and too many people had been calling in, confessing with too many details. I left to go teach a class on psychoanalyzing after the meeting and was going over the case file when I got home that night. I remember staring at the white lines drawn between the cities and the corresponding victims when…” Will took in a big breath, releasing it slowly with his concentration.

“I remember leaving, but not leaving. It was like a dream where I was going along for a ride somewhere. I felt suspended, not in control, simply watching as the drive took place to the airport, as the airplane took off into the air and landed in a bleak landscape hardly over winter. I was sitting in a bar, like I had said, thinking a lot when a young girl with maiden brown hair and bright blue eyes sat down near me. Most establishments don’t allow smoking inside apart from some casinos, but she lit up a cigarette and ordered a drink. The bartender seemed to know her, not caring about the cigarette, and I remember he gave her a poorly hidden pitying look when he poured her a double and gave it to her. I was looking at her brown hair shining in the dim light of the bar when she caught me looking. She took a drag of her cigarette and blew it into my face, making me look away as she pounded her drink and got up to sit in a different seat. That’s when I knew she had to die.”

“Why?” The question was fairly humorous to Hannibal, as if someone had willingly blown smoke in his face, he would have killed them, too.

“She had been very rude. What was I to do about that?” Will said, his voice huskier than before, slightly deeper than the recollection he had just finished. His voice stirred Hannibal, the carnality of it, the fatality of it rang out as something other than Will.

“What were you to do, indeed.” Hannibal mused with a slight smile.

“Surely you understand. It was intolerable, unacceptable, an insult. She wasn’t there for very long, as her and the bartender had a small disagreement after she ordered another drink. I think, as I found out not much later, it was because she had liver cancer. She went home… and I followed.” Will finished, his voice still deep.

“Will?” No answer but a low humming, like someone was uncertainly amusing some idea.

“I think it’s time for you to go to sleep. You’ve done so well. Thank you.” Hannibal started his tapping as he had done before.

“No, thank you, Doctor.” Answered the deep voice, it more sedated now.

“When I clap my hands, you will fall into a very peaceful, dreamless sleep. When you wake up, you will remember everything you have seen and told me.”

“Yes.” Will said, his voice higher pitched again and sounding dreary.

When Hannibal felt ready, he clapped his hands, and waited until he heard Will’s soft sleeping sounds.

 “Who was I just talking to, Will?” He asked to nobody.

Chapter Text

Will begrudgingly pushed himself away from the ladder that went up to Hannibal’s impressive loft, vaguely wondering what kinds of books he had on all the shelves that lined both the ground floor of his office and the loft. Some of the books appeared to be more like ledgers, or sketch books, their spines blank of titles and authors but ornamented with a few fine scribbles of handwriting he couldn’t read from this distance but recognized.

He sat down in the crisp, black leather chair that Hannibal pointed out to him, slightly surprised to have not seen it there before. After he sat down, he continued to peer around the office, glad that Hobbs’ bloodied, pale-skinned form hadn’t followed them here. Hannibal was sitting on the very edge of his grand desk, his wine-colored eyes all over him, and Will couldn’t ignore the lightning that was sparking up his skin from Hannibal’s unrelenting gaze. He felt uncomfortable being in this kind of setting, knowing what Hannibal wanted him to talk about, and Hannibal’s penetrating stare did nothing to calm his worries.

At least, they did nothing in comparison to the sturdy hand on his shoulder in the moment of near hysteria back in his farmhouse. The image of Hannibal walking proud towards him, unblinking, dressed perfectly in a fine suit of orchid purple that complimented Hannibal’s olive skin and ashen hair, made his insides shiver now that he wasn’t crippled by anxiety but safe in the leather chair. He hadn’t felt it before in his panic of mentioning Abigail’s name, but now in the relative near calm of Hannibal’s office, he couldn’t help but think about how his hand had felt like it had during his dream. He could feel the blood creep up into his neck, and he took in a shaky breath to calm himself. Adding those confusing feelings and thoughts to the mixture of pure unease would not help his concentration.

“I don’t want to remember. Not her. Not yet.” He had said, and something had flashed in Hannibal’s eyes that rang deep and forgiving, a dark understanding that made Will want to know why. Fortunately, Hannibal didn’t push, instead having him focus on the very first victim. Will had the feeling they would work their way to Abigail, allowing Will to get comfortable with this macabre resurfacing of memories.

Hannibal walked away from his desk, his shoes making no noise on the floor as he sat opposite him in the other black chair, the electricity of his eyes more apparent with the smaller distance between them. Will couldn’t look at him, his fingers nervously finding the seam of his jeans and picking at it.

“Although this isn’t your home, this is a safe place. You can tell me anything in here, no matter what.” Will felt that to be true, both from a personal standing as well as a professional one, knowing that Hannibal would uphold the subjectivity of confidentiality.

“You still want me to talk about Cassie Boyle?” Will sighed, feeling his stomach drop as his eyes landed on one of the statues in his office. It was a stag, and Will couldn’t help but wonder if it was really there or if he was imprinting certain images onto reality. For a second, the statue seemed to drip black, feathers sprouting from its mane, but when Will blinked, the statue disappeared.

“Please, I would like that very much.” Hannibal’s politeness never faltered.

“What would you like to know?”

“Tell me, with as much detail as you can, when you thought you first met her.” Hannibal’s wording was so particular, valuing that Will had thought he first met her in a completely different fashion than when he actually had.

Will took his time to start speaking, closing his eyes some of the time and allowing the images that seemed nonexistent before to burst clear as day into the space around them. During a few moments of his recollection of his first ever murder, he could swear he saw Hannibal there, lurking in the shadows even though Will knew he hadn’t been there at the time. Other times, Hobbs would creep back into his vision and then out again, flickering and fading as soon as Will would recognize the fear in the pit of his stomach.

Hannibal’s tone maintained the quiet intrigue which he had grown accustomed to feeling in his cell, occasionally daring to open his eyes and peer at Hannibal sitting relaxed in the black leather chair. Hannibal’s legs were nonchalantly crossed, an elbow on one of the arms of his chair and his hand resting against his chin in contemplation. Hannibal’s lips were always pursed as if he was thinking, and Will concluded that there was a good chance that he always was. In some desperation to not completely lose himself in Cassie Boyle’s end, Will noticed that Hannibal didn’t blink as much as a normal person did. He noticed that Hannibal didn’t fret or fidget like a normal person did, maintaining completely stillness at all times. It was unsettling and intriguing.

“She took a drag of her cigarette and blew it into my face, making me look away as she pounded her drink and got up to sit in a different seat. That’s when I knew she had to die.” Will finished, and suddenly Hannibal was gone.

Hannibal blinked out in front of his eyes, the grand office with its books and fine furniture was suddenly consumed by thick, liquid night that crashed from the seams of Hannibal’s office at once. Will stood up on his chair in fright, seeing no escape from the all-consuming darkness that began to flood the office at a surprising, unrealistic rate. It was as if every time he blinked, the room was twice as full as it was before. Will started to float in the inky black, unable to touch the chair or the ground, and the liquid started to push all the way up to the ceiling of Hannibal’s office, filling up his ears, nose, and mouth. Will could feel the fluid sliding down his throat bitter and metallic, and he knew he would drown.

“Why?” Hannibal’s voice rang in the blackness, a slight humor that was intentionally clipped although Will could detect it.

“She had been very rude. What was I to do about that?” Someone responded, their voice close in tone and timbre to Will’s.

Will dared to lift his arm, feeling that his mouth was agape with the desire for air but didn’t feel it moving with speech. He wasn’t speaking, but someone else was. He closed his eyes against the fear, dominating it in an attempt to not let it control him. Sudden light filled his vision from behind the thin skin of his eyelids, and he opened them, seeing Hannibal still sitting in his chair with a different kind of expression than the contemplation Will had seen before. It was defensive and stern, his eyes narrow in suspicion and his jaw set tight.

Will dragged his eyes away from Hannibal with much fearful chagrin, seeing that the black chair was now accompanied by something horrifying. A thin, black, antlered being with shining dead eyes was sitting where he had been, staring at Hannibal with a predatory smirk on its face.

“What were you to do, indeed.” Hannibal responded with a soft smile, Will seeing the understanding over the suspicion. Could Hannibal see the blackened creature before him? He wasn’t acting like he could, but there was something in the narrowing of his eyes that made Will feel like Hannibal knew that he wasn’t there, that he had been pushed aside and encompassed in the drowning dark.

“Surely you understand. It was intolerable, unacceptable, an insult. She wasn’t there for very long, as her and the bartender had a small disagreement after she ordered another drink. I think, as I found out not much later, it was because she had liver cancer. She went home… and I followed.” It grinned, baring blood-stained teeth.

“Hannibal?” Will called out to him, Hannibal not stirring at the call. He couldn’t hear him, but Will needed to tell him that it wasn’t him.

“Please, Hannibal?” Will asked again while trying to move toward him, to protect him against the sickening display of pure malice that was sitting across from him. He could feel his lips, but when he looked down, his body wasn’t there. Will was aware of sensations, could see well enough into the room now that the black ink had suddenly disappeared, but he might as well have been as perceptible as the confessions that decorated the air in the room from long ago when Hannibal had his practice.

“Will?” Hannibal asked suddenly, still staring at the creature sitting before him. Will almost let out a breathy laugh of relief, Hannibal’s perception as pointed as his own, him seemingly aware that Will was absent.

The antlered creature tilted its head gently, smirking its black lips against the stark black face, and simply hummed with amusement. He wouldn’t respond to Will’s name, as that was not Will.

“It’s not me, Hannibal. It’s not me.” Will could feel hot tears streaking his face.

“I think it’s time for you to go to sleep. You’ve done so well. Thank you.” A rush of relief suddenly filled his body, regrettably replaced with pain as familiar tapping entered Will’s head, loud and crashing sensitively against his eardrums.

“No, thank you, Doctor.” Answered the creature with a hazy smile before turning its full attention to where Will was floating in the room.

“Ready whenever you are, Will.” It whispered, before a sudden clap of Hannibal’s hands sent Will into the most peaceful sleep he had ever experienced.

 

Will didn’t stir as the lights shuddered on, the food deposited and ignored as Will continued to sleep blissfully. It wasn’t until Barney was coming back to collect the trays did he make an attempt to wake Will from outside his cell.

“Glad to see you are sleeping so deeply, but I’m afraid we need to take your temperature.” Barney announced, bouncing the full tray against the metal bars on the outside of his cell to create some stirring noise.

Will jumped awake and opened his eyes slowly, blinking them against the dim light. Will didn’t respond to Barney, aware that he was feeling many things at once even upon his first moments of consciousness. Initially, he felt pleased at how well he had slept as no dreams ruined something so long overdue. Then, as he became more awake, he realized that he wasn’t back in his old farmhouse, nor was he in Hannibal’s office. Blinking against the lingering sleep, he finally sat up in bed and looked around his cell with obvious sagging disappointment. For the length of last night, he had been so sure he was free again, curious about Hannibal’s grand office and sad that he couldn’t pick through the books that laid mysteriously up in his loft. Once the disappointment of where he was set into his mind in a familiar way, crisp and vivid detail of his own recounting of Cassie Boyle’s murder sounded off in his head. Will shook his head as the images came back to him, accompanied by the words he had spoken to Hannibal in his office as well as in his farmhouse.

He wanted to push a little further into what he was starting to remember, when Barney once again interrupted his sedated reverie.

“You doing okay, Will?”

“I was sleeping so well…” Will complained in a whisper, his voice still asleep.

“I know, I’m sorry to bother you as you really do need some rest, but we need to take your temperature. Can I have you lay on your cot for me in the typical manner?” Barney was always so polite, always asking first before pushing his power over anyone. Will had once hoped that the pleasantries would die with routine, but now he found himself grateful that Barney was strong enough to always display kindness in the faces of socially proclaimed evil.

Will appreciatively laid back on his cot, closing his eyes and allowing some of the memories to fill up the back of his thin eyelids while Barney handcuffed him and took his temperature.

He saw himself laying on his cot as everyone had finally been drugged to sleep, watching from a strange perspective as he spoke to Hannibal in a trance. Will’s mind jumped from cell to farmhouse, remembering that Hannibal seemed to be really standing with him in his living room, the moment ruined as Hobbs suddenly barged in, the fear slightly abated with Hannibal’s secure hand on his shoulder. How he could have forgotten so many details of when he shot Hobbs and rescued Abigail, Will would never know. He had carried around the baggage of shooting Hobbs for so long that he couldn’t believe how much of the situation he really had overlooked. He hardly thought about how he abandoned Hobbs’ wife on the ground, ditching the unsaveable, pitiable woman to pursue the Minnesota Shrike.

“High fever again today, Will. Are you in any pain?” The echoing, muddled voice of Barney cut through his memories.

“Bit of a headache. Just tired, but I’m fine.” Will said into his pillow. Barney hummed in response.

“How about I leave the food tray here and you try to eat something. I’ll bring you some medicine, but I don’t want you to take it on an empty stomach. Sound like a deal?” Will nodded into the fabric of the pillow, saying and doing anything that would hurry Barney up to leave him alone to collect his thoughts. Thankfully, Barney uncuffed his wrists and sped out of the cell, the doors barely closing before his tray was sent through his sliding carrier with his cold food and medicine.

“I’ll give you as much time as I can to eat, but I’ll be having to put you in your harness soon.” Will furrowed his eyebrows, the word harness not really making sense. With a slower realization than normal, sleep extremely tempting now that Barney was about to leave him in peace, he remembered that it was Wednesday, the exercise and shower day. He had missed the last day due to his unfortunate visit in the SHU.

“Try and get up now, Will.” Barney said, still standing in front of his cell. Barney was good, obviously seeing Will’s desperation for sleep.

With some chagrin, he sat up from his warmed cot and swung his bare feet onto the cold floor. He rested there for a moment, breathing deeply before pushing himself up and walking over to the food tray. The food looked as it always did, but Will took the tray and sat down on his chrome bench and started eating.

“Thank you, I appreciate it.” He whispered, and Will could feel Barney was pleased.

With Barney’s retreating footsteps, his mind decided to vacate from his small time in the farmhouse to concentrate on what had been said in Hannibal’s beautiful office space. The images came more clearly than when he had just woken up, almost feeling the leather chair pressed up against him as he spilled out one of the many incriminating moments he had thought was lost forever. With some sickening realization, while staring at his prison food, the validity of his crimes sank into him.

“It actually happened.” Will whispered, knowing that Hannibal was awake and listening to him.

“What actually happened?” Hannibal’s tone was delicate and clipped but rang with pleasure.

“You were able to help me remember… you helped me remember that I killed Cassie Boyle.” He continued to whisper, idly scraping at his tray.

“What do you remember of last night?”

“Everything.” Will recalled how he spoke of Cassie Boyle, seeing him meeting her at the bar and stalking her home. Then, just as he was staring into the burnt coffee that was always served with breakfast, he remembered that the office had filled with a malicious black fluid and the monster that replaced him in the chair.

“Hannibal, something was in your office last night.” Will started.

“You must surely be dreaming, Mr. Graham. How are you possibly to know what was in Dr. Lecter’s office last night while you were stuck in here? Maybe the fever really is worse than we all originally thought.” Chilton’s voice rang from in front of him, Will’s reverie blocking himself from Chilton’s sudden appearance.

Will continued to stare at the burnt coffee, taking in a deep breath and closing his eyes in an effort to push the rising tide of anger that threatened to pulse through him.

“Yes, I was dreaming.” Will stated simply, flashing his eyes up to Chilton without lifting his head.

“And, why in heaven’s name would you be dreaming about Dr. Lecter’s office? Have you been there before? I was unaware you two knew each other. An old patient perhaps?” Chilton sniggered, his face still lightly bandaged. Will took the image in, the pressures from other more important things completely wiping the fact that he had assaulted Chilton. Before, he had been mortified that he had done something of that brutality to another person.

Now, he felt proud.

“Who knows why anyone dreams anything?” Will stated quietly, not humoring Chilton’s poor attempts at a joke.

“At any rate, I’m only down here because Barney seems to be concerned about your fever. Is Will not feeling good?” Chilton said with an obvious mocking tone, falsifying sympathy.

“I appreciate Barney’s concern, but I’m fine.” Will said, still staring straight into Chilton’s eyes.

“Well, that’s good to hear. Barney has always been a little soft for the prisoners, but he gets the work done. See, he keeps bothering me with the opinion that you should apparently be upstairs all comfortable in our hospital wing rather than down here.”

“Like I said, I appreciate his concern, but I feel fine.”

“Here I thought you were just trying to snake your way into our hospital wing to get a break from your cell. Some inmates have been known to do that, fake an illness just for fun. Our resources are valuable, as is all of my medical staff’s time. Don’t waste anyone’s time, Will.”

Will didn’t move, ignoring the desire to blink and look away from the bandaged Chilton. Chilton’s face seemed to falter a little before he steeled himself back up, puffing up with forged bravery.

“If you are indeed feeling fine, I suppose I won’t resort to blocking your exercise and committing you to rest in the cell.” Chilton was just wasting time now, and Will finally broke his attentions from him and continued to scrape his tray.

“How kind of you.” Will said with a full mouth, looking down at his table, not wanting to grace Chilton with his gaze again.

Chilton was just about to retort when some commotion at the far end of the pit required his attentions. An inmate was fighting the harness, and Will took the time to whisper tensely to Hannibal.

“There was something, I don’t know what it was, but there was a point where I was swept away by darkness, and…”

“Yes, Will, I know.” Hannibal whispered back in a rush, his voice close to him, Will thinking that he was on the end of his cot just on the other side of the cement barrier.

The relief that flooded Will surprised him, glad that Hannibal really was as perceptive as he had thought. He didn’t pursue the conversation further, not wanting to be interrupted again by Chilton. Thankfully, Chilton seemed to forget about poking at Will, accompanying the now drugged inmate and the orderlies upstairs and out of sight.

“There was someone… something in your office. It was sitting where I was in your chair.” Will started again but was interrupted by Hannibal.

“We’ll talk about this at a different time. For now, eat your breakfast and take your medicine.” Hannibal’s cot squeaked, and footsteps retreating away from the wall was heard. The disappointment of Hannibal walking away from him was startling and confusing, but Will tried his best to finish his tray, dumping out the burnt coffee and drinking his pills down with metallic water instead.

The corridor was slowly emptied out and then refilled, the same soap scent lingering closer and closer to his cell as it became nearer to his and Hannibal’s turn.

Barney came back a bit later than expected, collecting the tray and returning with transportation, the harness’, and the face masks for both Will and Hannibal. Will’s stomach clenched at the sight of the harness and face mask, preemptively laying on the cot before Barney had to say anything. Will remembered how he felt the last time he had to do this, shocked and insulted at the appearance of the face mask. Now, with what he started to remember, he recognized its unfortunate necessity. It was quick work with the straitjacket, and soon he was strapped securely to one of the two-wheeled carts and outside of his cell. Will tried his best to not peer into Hannibal’s cell but failed, appearing casual and nonchalant as he leaned his head a little to look inside.

Hannibal’s cell was much barer than it had been when he last saw it, no pictures of European landscapes or portraits decorating the walls. It looked bleak and depressing, the cement walls suffocating. There were a few papers on Hannibal’s chrome table like there usually was, and Will made an effort to decipher the content. In the back of his mind, Will was aware that he was looking for himself, but couldn’t place whether it was genuine curiosity and intrigue or hope he was feeling. As his eyes scanned the table, he thought he had just started to recognize another drawing of himself leaning up against the ladder of Hannibal’s office when Hannibal’s electric gaze found him, his hair instinctively raising and bunching up against his prison romper.

Bravely, Will peered up, seeing Hannibal’s eyes on his own, face mask slightly obscuring the bottom half of his face. Will’s insides squirmed as he took in his unfaltering regard, fortifying himself to not look away from him this time. They blinked together, and then Will was turned by one of the other orderlies and Hannibal was out of sight.

“Eyes forward.” The other orderly mumbled gruffly, Will unrealizing that he had been chasing the sight of Hannibal even after he had been turned.

Will felt blood start to bloom hot across his chest and up his neck, embarrassed at forgetting himself and gaping openly. Through the embarrassment, Will was pleased with himself as he remembered most of the turns that they had taken before to the gymnasium, slightly tilting his head this way and that way preemptively to any turn that they took. Will didn’t lower his head as he did last time, and he didn’t ignore the electricity dancing on the back of his scalp from Hannibal’s eyes either. His anxiety was lessened through repetition, and he was aware that he wasn’t as afraid of Hannibal as he had been before. In his lapse of nerves, he saw some paintings he thought he recognized, and noticed that nearer to the paintings, Hannibal stopped peering at the back of his head, observing them.

The orderlies parked their carts just outside the gymnasium as they had done before, and Will was glad when he was able to step off his own cart. Another memory crashed into his mind, remembering that he had purposefully peered over his shoulder to stare at the then seen as monster, giving him something to draw later. The blatant exhibitionism felt foreign, something that he wouldn’t have ever done before. Now, in almost a sense of tradition, he peered back through his eyelashes, looking just over his shoulder as he did before, Hannibal’s eyes already on him. Will felt pleased when Hannibal’s pupils grew wide in recognition and acceptance of his attentions.

“May I run?” Will asked in a low voice.

“If you can manage, of course.” Hannibal replied. Although his face was stoic, Will saw and felt the smile in his eyes. Will glanced his smile back, trying to appear casual in the face of high scrutiny that was Barney.

“30 minutes.” Barney reminded Will, and the door opened. Once he felt the leash attach to his back, he started to jog. It wasn’t too long before he heard the echoing footsteps of Hannibal entering the room, matching his own footfalls as to not get reprimanded.

Will could only jog for spouts of five minute at a time, instantly becoming fatigued with the little bit of effort. He had started to sweat profusely and felt that color had drained from his face. He had tried to start jogging again after a small break of slow walking, but a hiss carried over the gymnasium from Hannibal.

“Don’t overexert yourself.” He whispered.

“Be quiet.” The orderly that was armed with the tranquilizer gun chastised more loudly than necessary, and Will took the chance to look over to Hannibal. Hannibal kept his head straight, but the blackened points of his eyes signaled to Will that he was watching.

By the end of the thirty minutes, Will’s lungs felt on fire, and his romper was visibly darker under the straitjacket. His shortened curls were plastered to his pale forehead, and he attempted to brush them up and away from his face using his shoulder, reminding himself of when he was talking to Dr. Bloom when he was recently apprehended. Will couldn’t catch his breath, and his head was pounding with each step that they took in unison. The end of their exercise was again announced by the deafening buzz, echoing around the walls. The buzz filled Will’s head with such crippling pain, he bent over at the sound, his shoulder slamming against the tall protective poly boards. Echoing footsteps replaced the buzzing, and Barney was there before Will could compose himself. 

“Maybe you should go back to your cell.”

“N-no. I’m desperate for a shower.” Will struggled to say, the pain limiting his ability to keep his eyes open. Through the squinting, he noticed that Hannibal’s body was against the poly boards on the other side of the cell in obvious concern.

“Are you sure? You look near dead on your feet.”

“Please, a shower and a shave would do wonders.” Will rasped out, leaning back up after some time although the pain in his head increased with every movement.

With the aid of Barney, he walked slowly back to the door and was unleashed from the ceiling. Barney made quick work of the two-wheeled cart, driving him towards the heavily scented and muggy air that lingered outside the changing room. Barney helped him off the cart and out of his harness, his prison romper dark and soaking wet when the straitjacket was finally removed.

Slowly and shakily, Will undressed, not nearly as embarrassed as he had been the first time. Hannibal’s eyes kept finding him, concern floating on the air along with the strong soap. Will managed a glance toward Hannibal, surprised to see slightly furrowed eyebrows on Hannibal’s usually stone still face. Once they were both completely undressed, Will lead the way to the shower, reaching out and turning on the water with haste. The cold water that pooled in the pipes came out wonderfully, hitting Will’s feverish body. Will couldn’t help but moan thankfully at the sensation, allowing himself to lean forward and press his hands against the cold tiled wall, hanging his head down.

“Can you run and grab Will a shaving razor?” Barney asked the other orderly who was supervising the shower. The other orderly audibly gaped at the request, not having any idea where they were. Barney made some futile attempts at telling the other guard where they were but sighed tensely through his nose at the incapability.

“We’ll be right back.” Barney nearly growled, the frustration sounding odd with his high-pitched voice, leading the other orderly out of the showers with quickened steps.

“Will, I am concerned for you.” Hannibal whispered, his tone sweet, and Will couldn’t help but smile. He regrettably lifted his head, the movement racking pain throughout his whole body and causing him to lean farther to rest his temple against the tiled wall.

“I’m… I’m okay.” Will whispered back, blinking a little rapidly as he turned his attention to Hannibal. He didn’t want to gape like he did outside his cell, but he couldn’t deny himself the chance to really look at him unaccompanied by medical staff.

Hannibal’s olive skin was beaded and dripping from the shower, his ashen hair neatly and tightly slicked back with wetness, water droplets clinging to the light-colored body hair that decorated Hannibal’s torso. His head was tilted in his open observation of Will, his eyebrows still uncharacteristically furrowed in concern over darkened, suspicious eyes. The obviousness of his worry was endearing to Will, and Will couldn’t help but smile softly towards Hannibal before he made himself look away, resting his forehead against the cold tile for a moment to collect himself, happy that the electricity lingered.

Will pushed himself off the tile wall painfully and started to wash, the water now heating up. He made relative quick work of washing his body, his fatigue slowing down his movements significantly, and Hannibal’s eyes openly followed the movements of his hands all the way down until Will’s hips before he respectfully looked away.

Will rinsed off the small amount of soap suds and leaned forward against the tile wall again, the small effort of washing reducing him to a panting, tired mess. Will hung his head, the pain pulsing along with his rapid heartbeat. Will’s shaky hand rose blindly toward the shower handles, desperate to turn the hot water down a bit, wanting the coolness back against his fevered body. Unable to find it, Will was just about to try lifting his head again when the coolness returned. Will opened his eyes and looked at the floor, seeing Hannibal’s feet by his own. Hannibal had leaned in and turned on the cold water, and he was so close. Will, with obvious pain that he couldn’t keep away from his face looked up at Hannibal. They were only inches apart, easily the closest that they had ever been. Hannibal stared unblinking and unashamed at Will, tall and regal amid the steam of the duel shower heads.

“Really, Hannibal… I’m… I’m okay.” Will slurred in a whisper, but Hannibal merely blinked, unwilling to give up his concern.

Will felt a tingling in his hand, recognizing it as the desire to reach out and touch Hannibal. Will denied it with some fear, disinclined to read into what that meant. Will thought that in the darkness of Hannibal’s eyes, the same desire was apparent, and before either of them could say or act, Hannibal defensively backed off farther than he needed to, footsteps close by in the changing room. Will dropped his head thankfully and continued to rest his hands against the tile wall.

Without a moment’s notice, Will’s world flipped completely upside down. His body felt as if he had been picked up and tossed to the side like a ragdoll, and pain like he had never felt before struck deep inside his head, making him call out with the sheer force of it. With a cold and ruthless crash, Will was on the shower floor, the ceiling spinning each time he tried to open his eyes. Through the pain, he could feel strong hands on him, heard Hannibal calling out to him with a direness in his voice. Will opened his eyes, seeing two of Hannibal directly above him, the stream of the shower bouncing off their backs and sending small water droplets cascading off of his skin.

“Will?” Hannibal continued to ask, and although Will tried, he couldn’t answer. The pain was too much, too deep. He lifted a shaking hand and touched whatever part of Hannibal he could, resting his hand against what felt like Hannibal’s calf.

With a scream of indignation, the younger orderly came at Hannibal, baton out and crashing down against Hannibal’s slick back. Hannibal kept the pain out of his face, merely blinking upon impact but not moving from Will. Will blinked rapidly against the light and water, the pain demanding him to keep his eyes closed, and saw no hunger in Hannibal’s eyes to be afraid of.

“No…” Will managed to whisper out, an obvious misunderstanding. Hannibal was picked up and thrown off of Will by the younger orderly, and Barney appeared in the tunnel vision that was now encompassing his sight. Their voices were too loud to hear what they were saying, the shower room echoing their calls painfully inside his head.

“Hannibal.” He whispered out, wanting and needing help from nobody besides him.

“Are you alright? Can you hear me, Will?” Barney’s white uniform was drenched as he didn’t care about the water streaming down upon him from above, concerned with Will lying on the floor.

“Did he hurt you? What happened?” Barney continued to ask, too many questions that Will didn’t have the strength to answer.

“No… H-Hannibal?” He managed to say again.

“Will?” Hannibal returned his call from somewhere in the shower room, a calm tone to anyone else but Will.

“You shut the fuck up before I hit you again.” The younger orderly threatened.

“You will get him back into his cell before I hit you!” Barney yelled, the echoes from both orderlies making Will cry out in more pain. His hands whipped up to his ears, the pain shattering his resolve, causing Will to become a mewling, convulsing mess on the ground.

“Never mind getting him to his cell, get a stretcher.” Barney ordered, his voice sounding farther away than it had been before.

“Barney, it’s encephalitis.” Hannibal’s voice sounded, just as far away as Barney’s had been. Everyone was slipping away, the blackness that had been creeping inside his vision overtaking him.

“I said shut the fuck up!” The sound of a baton hitting flesh was recognized by Will.

“He’ll need MRI or CT, maybe an electroencephalogram and samples of blood, urine or excretions from the back of the throat.” Hannibal continued in a rush, uncaring at his physical harm.

In the middle of the pain, Will felt his anger boil at the orderly who continued to abuse Hannibal.

'Ready whenever you are, Will.’ A voice, the same voice from the SHU, spoke from inside his mind, louder than the rest, full of maliciousness.

Will shook at the sound.

‘No, this can’t be true. You’re not real.’ He argued.

‘As real as you are.’ It quipped.

Will couldn’t hold on, and finally, he slipped away.

Chapter Text

Hannibal was laying tenderly on his stomach, back in his cell and sprawled on his cot, the baton heavily bruising two spots on his back from the unnecessary reprimanding of a young orderly who was thirsty for action, bored with the routine of perimeter checks and cell clean up.

Little did he know, that if Hannibal had it his way, he would have given him all the action that he could ever want. Hannibal would have given it to him right then in the shower room if his concern for Will as well as hesitance in Barney’s presence hadn’t dominated the situation.

‘Did he hurt you?’ Barney had asked, and Hannibal tried not to take it personally, as only he believed only himself and Will, and possibly the wise Barney, really knew the extent of which he was capable.

Laid over Hannibal’s pillow were a few sheets of butcher paper, and although his hand was busy sketching out the moments of which Will and Hannibal had been out of their cells, his mind wasn’t on his drawing wholly. Hannibal had speculated previously whether the hospital wing here would be equipped in dealing with an encephalitis case, if they were able to confirm that is what Will has been suffering from. Hannibal hoped that the MRI or CT scan would be enough of a diagnosis, and nearly balked at the idea of someone trying to do a spinal tap or biopsy here.

Hannibal prayed to the God he resented long ago that they would not cut into Will’s brain to receive a tissue sample, hoping that the scans and diagnosis from urine or throat cultures would be enough to confirm his personal suspicions. Encephalitis is potentially reversible and has a good clinical outcome if diagnosed and treated promptly, which in the unfortunate case of Will was not. Immunosuppressive therapy including steroids, immunoglobulins, and plasma exchange may result in favored advancement of neurological symptoms, but Will was going to need long-term follow-up examinations both from a medical standpoint and a psychiatric one. Pharmacotherapy remains the preferred treatment in most of these cases, but not always. The thing that bothered Hannibal the most, he realized, was that a common length of intensive hospitalization care for encephalitis patients were a few months.

A few months without Will. And he thought that three days had been trying enough.

His sketching hand stopped at this realization, and Hannibal closed his eyes. He had nearly ignored his mind palace in exchange for the keen interest he found in Will, with the exception of pulling pieces of classical music out of the depths of his memory whenever he needed them. Now, defensively protecting himself from the mundane unworthiness of the situation around him, Hannibal dived back into his mind palace.

Hannibal opened his eyes and found himself back in the Duomo di Orvieto, the place he had been when he was interrupted by the ferociousness of Will’s entering of the pit. Fauré's Requiem by the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus filled the stone columned interior, Introït et Kyrie floating and lingering in the air around him. Requiem compositions held a special place within Hannibal’s vast mind. From Mozart to Verdi, Saint-Saëns to Dvořák, requiems often echoed the admiration of God that man have always felt stricken by, even tormented by in some occasions. They are typically an emotional mixture of adulation and fear, eternal judgment embodied in one of the ways that man can personify something so grandly other. The Duomo he found himself in now was another of the many examples of a way that men have decided to personify their veneration for their God. Cathedrals and frescoes that took years to build, blood, sweat and tears for their maker.

Mozart's requiem, a well-known and borderline mainstream requiem, reminded Hannibal of the massive, unyielding power that God possesses, a power inspiring as much horror as it does reverence. God, the everlasting and all-knowing designer capable of wielding the most inexplicable and often times unnecessary mercy while never refuting that unworthy souls are thrown into a pit of despair dare they attract his indignation and vengeful wrath. Even unbelievers and skeptics like Fauré and Brahms couldn’t escape the universality that is the desperation for belief and spiritual acceptance.

Hannibal could spend out the rest of his life here, jumping from memory to memory, fabricated room to fabricated room. Would he necessarily be happy here? He had thought so at one point, especially with his sentence that would outlast his own life. Hannibal wasn’t sure if he felt the same, usually unwilling to be satisfied with sub-parity.

“Why did you think it was encephalitis?” Chilton’s voice crashed through the requiem, Hannibal stopping his sketching hand and blinking back to his very gray cement cell.

“I said, why did you think it was encephalitis?” Chilton repeated, Hannibal not answering quick enough.

“I thought you were a doctor. Surely you can figure this one out on your own.” Hannibal countered from his cot, giving Chilton his back and refusing to look at him.

“It typically takes CT imagery and/or other invasive testing to identify this particular infection, and yet, you were able to do just that without any contact with Will.” Hannibal scented the air, smelling a fresh bandage over his still marred face intertwined with general anger. Chilton was angry, and Hannibal postulated it was because he had been correct all along in his assumption.

“It was encephalitis, then?” Hannibal asked casually, not expecting a real answer from Chilton.

“How did you know, Hannibal?” Hannibal inwardly flinched in disgust as Chilton had the gall to address him by his first name. Hannibal himself only ever called him Chilton, refusing to use his title or first name the majority of the time, using it only when he knew he needed something from him or to insult him.

“An educated guess.” He continued to give Chilton his back, his shoulders bunched enough to hide the figure drawing of Will leaning forward under the shower head, resting his temple against the tiled wall seeking comfort from the fever, the softest smile gracing his face as he openly appreciated Hannibal’s concern. The look had made Hannibal feel like he had been cut in two.

“How?” With more emotion in his voice now. Hannibal summoned some music to drown Chilton out, selecting a more loudly and live aria, Vagaus - Matrona inimical by Vivaldi.

“Damn it, Hannibal!” Chilton said as he banged against the clear barrier of his cell, the sounded echoing loudly in the small space. Hannibal capped his felt-tipped marker, sliding the butcher paper under his pillow, and gingerly rose from his bed to face Chilton.

Hannibal stood his full height, almost six inches taller than Chilton, and strode slowly forward to the barrier edge. To his delight, fear entered Chilton’s eyes.

“An educated guess, like I had previous stated, constructed by ways that you will never be able to experience. What can I tell you, Chilton? What do you want me to tell you?” A slow, calm tone that seemed even more so in the fury of Chilton’s emotions. Hannibal used his peripherals to check out the bandage, wondering how bad the bite was underneath.

“Try me?” Chilton took a step back, his hands on his hips in a way that flipped up the sides of his blazer.

“By his smell.” Hannibal admitted with some disdain, wanting to get rid of him as fast as possible. To his annoyance, Chilton laughed.

“You have to be joking.” Hannibal didn’t respond.

“That’s impossible.” Chilton laughed, shaking his head.

“Well… that, and the overwhelming evidence of specific neurological tendencies and physical symptoms. If you wish, I can educate you more thoroughly about how obvious his affliction was.” Chilton’s laughter died, his face falling and wilting like bad fruit.

“At the onset of the infliction, the more distinctive features include pronounced psychiatric symptoms such as seizures, confusion, and memory loss. Patients will sometimes show bizarre and often rather disturbing behaviors. They may see things which aren’t there, develop strange beliefs or appear agitated without much cause. Patients often develop a movement disorder and variations in blood pressure. Their heart rate and temperature may become less conscious. Need I go on, Doctor Chilton?”

Chilton was dead silent, his eyes a little wider than they had been before, his jaw clenched.

“As I said… It was obvious, even without the distinct smell of his fever.” Hannibal continued to stand tall, unblinking, peering unnecessarily downward at Chilton to emphasize both their physical and intellectual differences.

“It could have just as easily been a pneumococcal infection.” Chilton tried to reason.

“It could have been. It could have been influenza, a drug allergy, a stroke, residual effects of a concussion, CFIDS, even sleep apnea or hypoglycemia. Unfortunately for Will, it wasn’t. Now, if you don’t mind…” Hannibal turned his back to Chilton, laying down on his stomach again and waiting to hear the retreating footsteps before slipping the drawing back out from under his pillow.

The lights shuddered off hours before they were intended to, and the insane started their frightened calls into the dark. Hannibal continued to draw unaffected by the darkness, calming his mind from the small vexation by a small man. He slipped back into the sunny Italian Duomo and concentrated on the figure drawing of Will leaning up against the shower wall.

“Will, I am concerned for you.” Hannibal had whispered, an escaping truth that felt foreign against his lips. 

Will smiled sweetly at him, resting against the shower wall with the water sliding shining down his toned back. Even with the lack of weight on him, Hannibal could tell that Will wasn’t a stranger to hard labor, the farmhouse most likely requiring him to find fallen trees, cut them to size and split them for his stone decorated fireplace.

“I’m… I’m okay.” Will whispered back to him, blinking against the lights of the shower room and the water spraying. Then, to Hannibal’s concealed delight, Will started to look at him.

Hannibal’s hair stood on end as he remembered Will’s open observation, nearing appreciation, as he looked into his eyes, his face and hair, down his torso. His glances were sharp, like a fine-tipped needle that ran across his skin. He wondered whether Will was appreciating him as he appeared, unashamed and bare, or whether he was appreciating his concern. In return, Hannibal stared back, watching him wash himself sluggishly as his fatigue was mounting. The slow circles of his hands gripping the bar soap, suds resulting in his efforts, was memorizing, and he had followed his hands until he reached his hips. Hannibal looked away respectfully, although he would admit to himself that his peripheral vision was sharp, and he had been primitively curious.

The lights shuddered back on signaling dinner, although it took until Barney was in front of the double barrier of Hannibal’s cell to bring him back to the here and now.

“I brought some medicine for your back.” Barney slid the food tray through carefully, as he had also provided a rarity of a small bottle of purified water.

“I appreciate that, Barney.” Hannibal rose gingerly off his cot, sliding the drawing beneath his pillow and taking the medicine but leaving the food. He had zero appetite.

“I’ll need to confiscate that bottle.” Barney said, being kind and not commenting on Hannibal not touching his tray. Hannibal finished the bottle in a few gulps, relishing the non-metallic taste, wishing that Will could have also enjoyed some.

“I’d also like to apologize for…” Barney had started.

“It’s not necessary. Guards reprimand prisoners, it is the course of things.” Hannibal slid the bottle back into the rolling carrier, sending it through for Barney to collect. Barney picked up the bottle, fidgeting with it but not taking the food.

“Not for that, although I had half a mind to talk to Dr. Chilton about it. I wanted to apologize for incriminating you. When I saw Will on the ground and you hovering close to him, I thought the worst.”

“Of course, you did. You are a wise man. Once again, the apology is unnecessary. I’m trying not to take it personally.” Hannibal smiled, the smile not really crinkling his eyes in a friendly way, but more of a way to punctuate the end of his sentence.

“Let me know if you need anything else. I’ll leave the food here. Try and eat.”

“Will do, Barney. Thank you.” Hannibal didn’t turn his back until Barney was out of sight.

 ---

 

Will was standing in front of his fireplace, the fire bright and lively, crackling attractively and filling the small space behind him with the comforting scent of cedar. He took a deep breath in and let it out, lifting a hand a feeling that he was indeed smiling. Behind him, mingling with the cedar smell, was gorgeous orchestral music featuring a passionate solo violin. As usual, Will was unsure of what the song was, but enjoyed the way it complimented the snapping and popping of the dry logs in the fire.

“A few months without you. What am I to do in all that time?” A deep voice said behind him.

Will turned around and spotted Hannibal standing in front of the door.

“Are you concerned?” He mocked lightly, his back now being warmed wonderfully.

“Mildly.” Hannibal mocked back.

“You’ll be alright.” He said, the warmth from his back disappearing suddenly.

“He will be, but will you?” Another voice interjected, and Will turned around to see the black creature that had taken over him in Hannibal’s office.

Will jumped back, his stomach twisting dangerously at the fear.

“Why so afraid, Will?” It asked.

“No. You’re not real.”

“We’ve been through this. I am just as real as you are.” Will started shaking, could feel the sweat suddenly sliding down his neck.

“Was it you?” Will demanded, his voice braver than how he really felt.

“What was me?” An innocent tone coming from something so monstrous.

“Did you kill all those people? Did you kill Abigail? Will asked, hearing that he sounded like he was crying. He lifted a hand to wipe annoyingly at tears he hadn’t felt coming.

“We did.” It purred.

 

Will had somehow curled up on his hospital stretcher, tightly coiled into a little ball, grabbing his pillow and enveloping his torso around it. The shaking wasn’t stopping although the voice was quiet again. He put his face against the top part of the pillow, covering his mouth and nose, his body convulsing. He took some of the pillow into his mouth and bit hard, clenching his teeth to keep himself from crying out, his tears hot on his face and wetting the pillow. He was vaguely aware that he wanted to rip the pillow with his teeth as he had Chilton’s face. He pulled at the pillow, the tension in his teeth oddly satisfying. Before he could rip the pillow or pull out his teeth, he stopped. He proceeded to continue pulling until the same fearful tension was apparent and then stopped, repeating the action over and over, the sensation surprisingly calming.

“Get that pillow out of his mouth. He’s not breathing.” A strange voice said from nowhere. Will opened his eyes, his vision blurry, and let go of the pillow with a loud, shuddering breath. The oxygen rushed to his head, causing him to feel dizzy and good, suspended from his emotions momentarily.

“I heard it… I heard the voice again.” He confessed in a whisper to whoever was around him, his own voice sounding far away and breathy, his heartbeat sending quick tinges of pain to the roots of his teeth and corners of his mouth. Will blinked his eyes repeatedly and cleared his vision, blinking against the high of oxygen, seeing that the pillow was wet with his saliva and tears, his teeth marks indented into the wet fabric.

“Whose voice?” A familiar voice said from near his feet.

“He killed all those people.” He said in a rushed whisper, the shaking resurfacing as he said it out loud.

“What are you saying?”

“He killed all those people… when I was asleep.” Before he knew it, he convulsed and threw up all over the side of the stretcher. He lifted his hands, feeling odd pulling sensations against his skin as he tried to wipe his mouth. Someone else was there, cleaning up his mess although he couldn’t see who.

‘See?’ A voice boomed in his ears.

Will blinked again, his vision coming back to him, and Abigail was standing with a soiled cloth in her small, pale hands. Her ear was missing.

‘See? See?’ The voice repeated in his head like a mantra.

“No… no it can’t… you’re not real. Abigail… you’re dead.” Will wailed at Abigail, the hope that she was really alive too much for him to handle.

Abigail turned from him, calling into the hallway for the doctor to return to the room, and when she came back, she was Dr. Alana Bloom, the look of pure worry decorating her starkly pretty face.

“What…” Will stammered, blinking at her, finally looking around the room he was in and seeing that he was admitted into a different hospital than the BSHCI. Suddenly, the mantra died, and in place was his heartbeat represented as a digital beep.

“You were dreaming.” She said, the soiled rag covered in his vomit still in her hand.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered, and the doctor came back in. For a split second, he had looked like Dr. Sutcliffe, his jaw hanging downward against his collar bone and his tongue protruding bloody against stark white teeth. Before Will had a chance to scream, the image cleared to someone else he had never seen. He watched as he fiddled with one of his IV’s, and soon, Will drifted back asleep, whispering to Alana,

“It was him. It wasn’t me. I didn’t do it.”

“I know, Will. I know. We’ll figure this out.” Was the last thing he heard.

 ---

 

Hannibal slid another set of drawings into one of the empty envelopes he kept stashed in the bible, licking the envelope liberally before shutting it tight and addressing it to himself. The pages of his bible were thick and bulging with the various envelopes he was hiding inside of it, the amount of drawing increasing significantly with the continued absence of Will. It had been two weeks, and Hannibal kept himself occupied with anything that wasn’t his current reality.

It was just about dinnertime, Hannibal steeling himself against the fact that he really would have to eat this time, not wanting to be force fed like Will had once endured, when the barriers at the far end of the gate opened early, signaling a guest. Some of the inmates whooped at the newcomer, and Hannibal barely scented perfume in the air and heard heels click down the cement corridor before someone he hadn’t seen in a long time stood resolutely in front of his double barrier.

Hannibal rose from his chrome bench politely, not stopping the soft smile as Dr. Alana Bloom stood in front of him.

“Hello, Dr. Lecter. May I speak with you?” She asked, her voice clipped defensively.

“Of course, Dr. Bloom. What an absolute pleasure it is to see you again.” He said honestly, hoping that she believed him.

Alana and Hannibal had known each other long ago when she had been one of his students, and eventually one of his closest friends. She was smart and witty, strikingly observant with the right amount of empathy that was beneficial rather than a handicap. They had often disagreed when they had been in each other’s lives before, but regardless of differencing opinion, they had been close. Many of the other students thought that they had been lovers, and Hannibal reflected that maybe they should have been.

Too late for that now.

“Would you like me to ask Barney for a chair? Or will you not be staying long?”

“I won’t be staying too long, thank you.” Color entered her cheeks as she started to prepare herself for what she wanted to say. Hannibal stayed quiet, watching her handle the fear remarkably well.

“I wanted to talk to you about Will.” She said finally.

“I was unaware you two knew each other.”

“Is that true?”

“I had found out without Will telling me directly that he had worked with the FBI, worked closely with Jack Crawford. Are you an FBI consultant now?”

“I am, yes.”

“You wouldn’t happen to be filling in my shoes, would you?” Hannibal attempted at some humor, seeing that Alana wasn’t having it.

“I would be more offended at being regarded as a silver trophy if I hadn’t known you personally.” Hannibal grinned inwardly, sipping up the compliment regardless of whether or not she had meant it as one.

“How long do you think Will has been sick?” Alana cut straight to the point.

“Is this inquiry related to his defense?”

Alana’s silence told him yes. He smiled softly and looked away from her toward Will’s vacant cell, the sweetness of his fever long gone from the routine cleaning.

“Automatism, am I correct? It allows a defendant to argue they shouldn't be held criminally liable for their actions due to unconsciousness. Neurological dysfunctions like encephalitis can be considered an acceptable excusing condition.”

“You’ve thought a lot about Will’s defense.” A pointed observation, and Hannibal won’t deny it. She continued.

“I’m under the assumption that he didn't have any control of what he was doing, much less remember doing it. Would you consider that a valid assumption?”

“I believe that the evidence convicted Will. There is a beauty in its certainty. No need to intuit, or trust. It’s much simpler than psychiatry and will be more wholly accepted than a plea of unconsciousness.” Hannibal said honestly, noticing the small amount of darkening that played in Alana’s eyes.

“Were you expecting me to say any different?”

“I’m not sure what I expected, to be honest. I’m not really sure why I’m even here. With the right defense…” Alana started, but Hannibal interjected.

“Have you seen him?”

“Yes.” She said after a long while, obviously weighing the options of telling him or not.

“How is he? Improving?”

“Slowly. His illness was advanced.”

“Have you talked to him about his short time here?”

“No. I try not to. He needs rest.”

“I helped him recover one of the memories of his murder. Hypnotherapy proved extremely useful. Does that change your opinion of him?” Silence.

“Do you want him to be free or do you want him to be innocent, Alana? I will tell you this much. Will Graham is not innocent. It’s ultimately up to you whether you think him being mentally absent during the murders is innocent enough. You will chase after what you think is right, regardless of what anyone else has to say about it. I’ve always admired that courage.”

“You flatter me.”

“I speak the truth. I always have in regard to you.” Indignation flushed hot on her face when he said this.

“Hannibal… I still can’t drink beer after I found out what you were putting in mine.” She said darkly. Then, she was gone, her heels clicking away, cat calls disgustingly thrown after her by the more literate inmates.

Chapter Text

“Do you think he can even hear us when he’s like this?”

“I don’t think so. He never responds to us when we ask him shit. I don’t think I’ve even seen him blink.”

“It’s fucking creepy, if you ask me.”

“Damn straight. Let’s go.”

Voices sounded momentarily past Violin Sonata No1 in B minor by Bach, Hannibal easily blinking them out as soon as he detected them. Hannibal continued to walk serenely in sunny Versailles, France, the Sun King’s castle gardens easily spanning almost 250 acres of land. The land is riddled with paths that lead to beautiful lush greenery, and Hannibal preferred the quiet corners that were decorated with classical statuary of Apollo, a homage to the Sun King himself. Often, he would stop and sit out at one of the ornamental lakes, watching the wind ruffle the shining water from the brilliant sun he missed. This week, he had been visiting every garden he ever had the chance to visit during his freedom, and although the gardens of Versailles weren’t the largest, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew he had just visited yesterday being nearly 76 acres larger, he enjoyed the labyrinthian hedges and canals that the king would travel down by gondola.

It had been a month and a half since he had last seen Dr. Bloom, their visit together short and brief. Hannibal had mulled over what had been said, curious that she would be seeking out advice on a defense for Will. It made him wonder if Alana and Will had been involved in the ways that others had assumed that they had been, and Hannibal hadn’t been sure how the thought sat with him. He recognized that his opinion didn’t matter, and that it wasn’t any of his business, but questioned it all the same. For some reason, he hadn’t seen Will involved with anyone, marriage or otherwise. Will’s gifted peculiarities, Hannibal thought, most likely went unappreciated by most, the human species ultimately superficial and judgmental from days long past.

Some many days later, while Hannibal was sketching out sectional drawings of Will’s hands, including the moment when it had grasped feebly on his own calf, he reasoned with himself that he would much rather Will be branded forever as a murderer if it meant he would spend as much time down in the pit as he would. The idea of Will gaining freedom caused some mixed emotions to play throughout Hannibal. Will, as well as himself, deserved freedom, regardless of what socially deemed evils the two had accomplished. Both of them were worth so much more than rotting down here.

The only time Hannibal dared to step out of his mind palace was for meal times and the now lonely exercise days, the routine reminding him of the year he was incarcerated before Will’s arrival. He had blissfully spent the year in all places of the world, reading books that the administration refused to provide, attended concerts and galas that he had in the past. There were days he didn’t sleep, childishly afraid of the increase of nightmares he had started to have. On the nights that he did sleep, all sorts of confusing dreams came to him. Mischa would make an appearance often, although not always in her child form, white baby teeth gleaming. Will entered his dreams as well, and out of them all, they were usually the least horrible. They would have conversations that Hannibal would think that they would have had he been here, and he hoped that wherever they took Will, thinking that they would most likely take him to John Hopkins Hospital, he was having the same conversations. Hannibal often sent out music as well, remembering the strange incidence where Will claimed to hear it.

In one bizarre dream, they engaged intimately with each other, Alana joining in, and when Hannibal woke that morning with a sticky romper, he couldn’t help but draw parallels with Will’s personal experience, although Hannibal still didn’t know what exactly was dreamt that night. If Will ever came back, he would ask.

Nighttime was when Hannibal played the most, the quiet and blindingly dark environment perfect to draw all sorts of things, think about all sorts of things, play all sorts of things on his harpsichord. Hannibal was pleased that in the lapse of worthy stimulation, he was composing. It usually took a long time for him to complete a work, months if not years. He hoped, that if he were to remain imprisoned forever, he would have a plethora of pieces that might be published, maybe even recorded.

Nighttime was approaching now, dinner dropped off and partially eaten, Barney collecting the trays before he would return to wherever he went when he wasn’t here. Barney and Hannibal’s conversations were lengthier than they had been before, Hannibal refamiliarizing himself with Barney’s mail-in school lessons, often giving him advice on a particular subject and once helping with homework. Between this and Alana’s visit, Hannibal was aware that he vaguely missed being a teacher, a mentor, as nothing felt better than enlightening those eager.

The sound of the gates opening pushed past the Bach violin sonata, having moved onto Violin Sonata No. 4 in C minor, and a familiar smell not belonging to the lush greenness of Versailles wafted over to him. Hannibal blinked, opened his eyes, and heard the sound of squeaking wheels mixing with footsteps creeping closer to his cell. When Will’s double barrier opened, Hannibal calmly rose and looked, just seeing sets of brown curls passing the barrier.

---

Hospitals. Will hated them then, and he hated them now.

He had been put into a medically induced coma after he had taken a turn for the worse after arriving in the ICU, doctors desperate to reduce the swelling in his brain and stabilize seizures that came and went with deadly randomness. Once he had awakened, he had been transferred to the neurological wing of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland, his doctor asking him questions like,

“Do you know who the president is? Can you tell me what 5 plus 5 equal?” At first, he had thought the answers, but when he tried to open his mouth, nothing happened. Will had expected the worse, thought that maybe he’d never be able to speak again, move again. How frustrating it had been knowing the answer to every prompt, the voice in his head clear and definitive, but not being able to form them.

The day to day business of hospital staff was often confusing to Will, unable to keep up with the comings and goings, regardless of their routineness in nature or how often he had seen the same things happen day in and day out. At one point, Will had a small panic attack as he had forgotten why he was even in the hospital, not understanding the fuss of the hospital staff and those poor few that were shadowing the doctors and nurses at the time. People came to visit Will, he knew, but he couldn’t remember who had, when they had, or why. He vaguely remembered Alana visiting him, one of the first new memories that stuck in his mind, but he had no context about what they had said to each other. A part of him wondered if they had even spoken at all.

A month went by almost in a blink, although he was sure that at the time, the days dragged on and on, never ending. Through the confusion, Will recognized a familiar longing to get back to a place that maybe he shouldn’t want to go back to.

Physical therapy, as soon as the confusion had eased and Will was able to answer questions and talk with hospital staff, had been an embarrassing journey. At first, he needed a leash and a person standing on either side, a heavily armed officer always around where ever he went like an ominous shadow. After the first few days of physical therapy, his ability to move improved immensely, making large jumps in progress at a time.

The doctors were all impressed considering the advancement of his encephalitis, although Will had still been receiving daily IV treatments to ensure the swelling of his brain remained down. Even though there was the armed officer always stalking him, the hospital staff had allowed him minimal on-site privileges when he was able to walk. Will was able to take small walks around the cafeteria, around the hospital until the presence of the armed officer caused a stir. In one instance, although it had been cold, Will was allowed outside under heavily armed surveillance. The air froze his lungs, but he continued to suck down the fresh air like he had been drowning this whole time. Walking was easier than it had been after he had woke up, but fatigue still plagued him early. It was a chore to walk, small distances sometimes rendering him a sweaty, panting mess.

The exhaustion eased after a month or so, and the head pressure lapses that Will would experience eventually lessened. The discussion of his release back into the care of the BSHCI was had between everyone but himself, and finally after two months of rehabilitation, he was going back.

Anti-viral medication, anticonvulsants, and cortisteroids were supplied to BSHCI, as well as instructions of some fairly intense aftercare including routine visits to John Hopkins for immunization shots to prevent a relapse. Will had managed to listen to the doctor advising cognitive rehabilitation as well as any physical, speech, and occupational therapy that was needed, and he couldn’t help but laugh inwardly. He knew that Chilton would not be so kind as the seemingly unbiased doctor he had been blessed with. Chilton would be damned if an inmate was going to be this high maintenance.

Other staff, when they thought he couldn’t hear them, talked about him. The news of who he was and what he had done traveled fast, the armed officer doing nothing to help suspicions by being poised at the door at all times. Some of the nurses seemed to purposefully treat him subpar, understandable although inconvenient and embarrassing for Will, but his doctor cared for him as he would any other human, even perhaps more so considering the rarity of encephalitis in general. Will was dubbed a survivor, as not a lot of people survived this illness.

On his way back to the BSHCI, Will was pleased to see that the prisoner transfer truck had tiny windows, and he could watch the landscape drift by during travel. The sight of the sign outside his prison made his stomach lurch with a mixture of disappointment, apprehension, and lastly excitement. Will would be a fool to deny that his mind had drifted towards Hannibal, the more stressful moments of his hospitalization spent out within the safety of his farmhouse and Hannibal’s office. Often times, when he was confined to bedrest, he would play out conversations that they might have. Daydreaming was aplenty in the nonmoving portions of his day, and Will also spent a lot of time fishing in the river that he was still unclear on whether it was a real place he had visited.

“Feeling better, Will? I personally thought you weren’t going to make it.” Chilton was there to greet him.

“Wouldn’t that have been a shame? A mass murderer trained in criminal psychology? A prized patient, or should be, if I had any desire to speak to you about anything.” Will quipped, and he was pleased to see the anger boil red against his face.

Chilton’s double crescent shaped scar on his cheek, however, did not burn red as the rest of his skin did. Will stared at it as long as he could with the transportation back inside the hospital. Chilton saw this and raised a hand defensively to touch the uneven skin. At the observation of Chilton’s scar, Will remembered the physical sensations of skin between his teeth, feeling it now as they brought him inside and down to the place that sunlight never reached. He slowly swiped his tongue around his teeth, feeling each one to be sure there was no sinew trapped, no blood coating.

Will hadn’t been awake the last time he made his first trip down to the pit, and Will counted the open and closing of five doors between him and the outside world. They brought him through the orderlies’ small office, seeing the docked syringes they must have used on him previously. The final fifth door that opened to the long corridor filled his abdomen with fluttering, fleeting sparks. The last corridor at the end loomed heavy in his mind, the closer he got, the more he felt the tension in the air. Hannibal didn’t approach the barrier until the very end, small curiosity lingering in the air and then exploding with an unrecognizable elevated feeling as the double barrier opened for him.

Will collected himself as they unstrapped him from the travel dolly, took off his face mask and backed out of the room. As soon as the gates at the end of the corridor slid home, the lights followed suit, shuddering off animatedly before dying. The night officers began their doses of sleep medication for those they didn’t want to deal with, skipping Will and Hannibal’s cell at the very end. Will stood in the middle of his cell, surprisingly awake as the amount of travel that was required was very small, John Hopkins Hospital maybe a ten-minute drive to the city of Baltimore. Will continued to stand until the night officers left and the sounds of the inmates quieted down. Eventually, only breathing was heard in the corridors.

Will felt intention on the air from Hannibal’s cell, and he wasn’t sure what to do. A part of him wanted to drive right back into conversation as if he hadn’t left for two months. Another part of him wanted to see how long it would take before Hannibal prompted conversation first, as the last time he had been the one who initiated conversation by offering up his amenities.

Will staggered in the dark the small distance to his chrome table, his walking well enough but physical fatigue plaguing him somewhat. As he sat, the table shifted under his weight, and he remembered that one of the long screws bolting the table into the ground was loose. With the reminder, he leaned forward and slid it out of the ground, feeling the length of it, the thread lightly engrained into the steel. Will thought of what he could do with this, thinking that there had to be some creative way to implement it. His initial thought of a shank was ridiculous, although he didn’t count it out of the equation. Will wondered how far he could get with a six-inch steel screw as a weapon, stealth being key. It could do enough damage as long as no one saw him coming.

Will wondered whether the screw could be used as a digging tool, maybe even able to chip away at the concrete in his cell or in the SHU if he ever had to go back. The routine cleaning and paraphernalia check of his cell made that prospect difficult, as he had never seen what all the officers check. If Barney had anything to do with it, the cell was checked extremely thoroughly, although not thoroughly enough as the stability of the table hadn’t been questioned. Will mentally looked at his cell, the dark making it impossible to see any kind of detail. He tried to remember whether the small bookshelf on the right-hand wall towards Hannibal’s cell was bolted down. He rose slightly wobbly in the dark, walking just a few steps before feeling the bookshelf with his outstretched hand. He knelt to the floor, and quietly tried to slide the bookshelf. It was definitely bolted down, but just like the table, one of the sides was able to pivot, loose from rough handling by the previous owner of the cell.

Will pulled against the one side that was able to move, the small amount of books haphazardly placed on the shelves rattling softly with the movement, and with his fingers guessed that it could reach a maximum distance of five inches. He was able to sneak some of his arm behind the gap, feeling the cold and smooth cement behind it. He withdrew his arm from behind the bookshelf and peered behind him in the dark, knowing that his toilet was nearby. He reached his other arm into the darkness, attempting to feel for it, finding it after lightly leaning away from the bookshelf. The toilet was almost a straight shot in front of the bookstand.

“What are you up to, Will?” A humor filled voice floated lightly over from the next cell. Will grinned sheepishly in the dark.

“Do you really want to know?” He teased.

“Of course.”

“Can you tell me a little bit about the previous cell occupant?” Will asked before answering.

“I.J. Miggs, better known as Multiple Miggs. He was a particularly volatile patient with a dirty mind and a dirty mouth.”

“I think I remember Chilton talking to you about him when I first arrived. I’m trying to think about what he had said.”

“I’ll save you the mental effort by admitting that I convinced him to swallow his tongue.” Hannibal stated outright.

“To silence his filthy mouth forever?” Will asked, and Hannibal’s momentary silence ringed with a stunned stillness.

“Precisely.” He whispered, then asked again,

“What are you doing in your cell, Will? You sound like you’re searching for something.”

“Well… If I tell you, will you promise not to tell anyone?” He joked.

“Cross my heart.”

“One of the first times I sat down on my table, I noticed that it shifted slightly beneath me.” Will started explaining, dropping his voice to a whisper in case anyone was listening. At the drop of his voice, Will heard Hannibal’s cot springs squeak, fabric gently scraping at the other side of the cement wall. Will rose and sat down on his bench again, sliding to the corner of the bench nearest to the cement wall.

“I checked the screws and found one of them completely loose. I’m holding it in my hand right now. I keep it inside the hole in the floor for safe keeping, as I don’t think there is any other way to hide it. I was testing the other furniture in the cell and found that the bookshelf is loose on one of the sides as well, and I was seeing how far away from the wall I could pull it.”

“Not thinking about trying to dig out of your cell, are you?” Humor in his voice told Will that Hannibal knew that Will knew better.

“Not necessarily, although…” Will continued, still whispering. The idea that the bookshelf was directly in front of his own toilet gave way to a possibility that he wasn’t sure he’d ever act on.

“Although?” Hannibal prompted, obviously intrigued.

“I think, if I’m remembering the cells correctly, your toilet is just on the other side of the concrete wall behind my bookshelf. Spatial reasoning in more recent times as never really been my strong suit, but if my mental measurements are correct…” Will suddenly felt his face grow white hot, embarrassed to admit. He swallowed against it and continued,

“If my measurements are correct, the screw is just longer than the thickness of the cement wall between each cell. I could possibly dig against and around the pipes connected to your toilet. If a hole was to be undetected anywhere in these cells, it would be around the piping in the back.”

Hannibal’s silence was anything but empty. Will could feel elation on the other side of the cement wall, the deep intrigue he found he missed, the possibilities soaring.

“If you were caught, you’d probably spend the rest of your days in solitary.” Hannibal whispered.

“It’s a possibility, definitely. It was just speculation. I’m not sure if I’m going to risk it. Barney, I think, would eventually see it.” Will swung his legs around to sit with his back toward the double barrier of his cell, resting his right shoulder against the concrete.

Silence lingered between the pair of them, the air heavy with tension.

“How are you feeling?” Hannibal softly asked, his tone shockingly genuine.

“The best I’ve felt in a long time, although I get tired fairly easily. I don’t have too many headaches anymore.” Will answered back, raising his voice slightly as there was no reason to whisper.

“Acyclovir, Phenytoin, and cortisteroids?” Will smiled softly in the dark.

“Precisely, Doctor, although they were debating about the cortisteroids.”

“Yes, the effectiveness of corticosteroids in some virus encephalitis strains haven’t yet been proven.” Hannibal explained.

Silence again between them.

“Hannibal?”

“Yes?”

“Do you think we could resume therapy again?” Will’s voice dropped back down to a whisper.

“You wish to regain the rest of your memories?”

“I think so. I was hoping that throughout my time in the hospital that they would come back to me, but instead I feel like I’ve forgotten even more.”

“Memory loss is quite common. You should be pleased you remember at all. Your recovery is surprising, Will.”

“The doctor said so, too. I’m lucky.”

“I have no qualms in continuing hypnotherapy with you, however, I think we should wait until you’ve had more time to heal and recuperate. The last thing you need, which is near impossible to escape considering your circumstances, is unnecessary mental and physical stress. Relapse isn’t unheard of.”

“Hannibal… I want to say that I appreciate your concern, both now and two months ago. It was unexpected. Thank you.” Hannibal didn’t respond, but Will felt his acceptance.

“Are you okay?” Will asked suddenly, the foggy memory of the last moment they had coming back. He remembered seeing the younger orderly hitting Hannibal on the back with his baton, and possibly hearing him strike again after he was forced off of him.

“My back has long healed, if that’s what you are inquiring about. The bruising wasn’t deep.”

“You knew I had encephalitis.” Will said a little airily, the foggy memories still coming back to him slowly.

“I had assumed.” Hannibal quipped.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to be wrong. Encephalitis isn’t common.”

“But you were right. How did you know?” Will felt a small pang of humor come from Hannibal, like he was missing an inside joke.

“I told you.”

“My scent?” Will remembered how embarrassed he had felt when he learned about Hannibal’s power.

“Encephalitis, and other illnesses like it, has a peculiar scent that was more so apparent when your fever was at its highest.” Hannibal explained.

“What does it smell like?”

“Heat and sweetness. As I had mentioned before, it was an assumption.”

“Heat and sweetness.” Will repeated, wondering if he had scented any sweetness in the smell of his perspiration.

“Much like you. Uncapped fury mixed with tender empathetic tendencies.” Hannibal observed, and Will felt his blood creep up his neck again.

“You’re a paradox yourself.” Will said, swallowing thickly.

“Am I?”

“Yes.” He whispered, not wanting to clarify.

“You’re blushing, Will. I am curious what is going through your mind at this moment.”

“Don’t tell me you can smell a blush, too?” He asked in quiet incredulity.

“Blood creeping closer to the surface of your skin, a small rise in body temperature. It puffs out gently, mixing with a small increase in perspiration that you can’t control.”

“Again, I’m left feeling wholly embarrassed.”

“Why is that?”

“If you can smell something as undetectable as blood underneath someone’s skin…” Will gulped, remembering simultaneously of the call of nature as well as his wet dream. Semen has an odor that is detectable, although often faint. Not as faint as a blush.

“If you recall, I mentioned to you that I can tune out provocations if they are deemed an annoyance.”

“If.” Will repeated, the key word. Will suspected that him climaxing in his sleep would not be considered an annoyance.

“Are you concerned about something in particular?” Hannibal’s voice dripped in humor.

“Perhaps.” Will bit his lip. He was sure that he wanted to talk about other private things with Hannibal, but this territory felt taboo.

“Ask me.” Hannibal whispered.

“I… I had a dream.” Will admitted, his face full fire now, the blush long blooming past his chest and neck, it feeling intense enough to burn his ears.

“What was it about?” Hannibal usually withheld his intentions from his manner of speaking, but the curiosity seemed too strong for even Hannibal to deny it.

“I’m not sure…”

“You don’t often lie to me.” Hannibal pointed out, the humor still ringing, Will glad that he wasn’t holding it against him.

“Should I add lies to the list of things you shouldn’t be able to smell?” Hannibal breathed out a small laugh.

“There are definitely physiological reactions when someone is lying.” Will sighed, bringing up his hand to rub at his face and run his fingers through his now longer hair.

“Why do I have the feeling that you already know what the dream is about, and you just want to hear me say it out loud?”

“Because you are perceptive, aware, and intelligent, even without the use of your gifted empathy.”

“You admit it, then. You know?”

“Kind of.” An odd answer, considering he often answered definitively.

“Did I tell you?”

“My answer still stands. You mentioned the subject matter, but absolutely none of the details. I know, but I don’t know.” Will found that through the embarrassment, he was grinning like an idiot. The blush still prickled his skin, and even he could smell the slight increase of sweat production that the rise in body temperature caused.

“When did I tell you?”

“After you asked me to play you some music to help you fall asleep.” Hannibal’s tone was endearing, as if he treasured the moment.

That had been a wild ride of conversation, Will straining to remember everything. He had learned much about Hannibal, that his family was all dead, that he’d never go back to Lithuania, that he believed Will’s personal aesthetic fit well within the renaissance art style he preferred. His fever had been high then, and fatigue settled in quickly after their conversation. Cello music filled his head, then, and Will asked,

“The music you played… was it cello music?”

“Yes.”

“So, I did hear it…” Will felt some small wonder at his own ‘gift’, as Hannibal kept referring to it

Cello Sonata No.1 by Brahms.”

“Why that piece in particular?” Will was glad that their conversation had started to drift away from his wet dream.

“I’ll tell you if you tell me what your dream was about.” Hannibal teased.

“That is hardly a fair exchange.” He argued.

“Hmm… What if I told you that while you were away, I had a dream about you, too?” Hannibal whispered tantalizingly, his voice close to Will’s ear suddenly, like he was speaking right against the concrete.

“You did?” He didn’t believe it, couldn’t really believe it.

“I did, yes.” Although his voice was quiet, no shame decorated his tone.

Will’s curiosity felt odd, immoral, but undeniable. Besides the small flirting affair that he had with Alana that time ago, romance in his life was absent. Will hadn’t considered himself depraved, but do the depraved ever do until they know better?

“I suppose that is fair.” He finally reasoned, swallowing thickly, his heart palpitating hard against his chest. He sighed through his nose, closed his eyes although he couldn’t see in the dark, and admitted,

“It had started as a nightmare…” He suddenly remembered, and as the dream became clearer to him, he remembered with a small gasp that the demon lurking in the dark of his dream was the same monster that had replaced him in Hannibal’s office.

“Will?”

“Hannibal, when I was in your office, when I was under your trance, I had mentioned to you that I had changed.” He said swiftly, feeling slightly guilty at changing topics.

“I remember.”

“I had just admitted my intent to kill Cassie Boyle, when dark ink flooded your office and overtook me. I thought I was drowning, the darkness filling me up, when suddenly the light of the room came back and… there was someone sitting in the chair. I was floating in the room, I couldn’t see my body but I could feel sensations around me, and there was this… this black, antlered man sitting in the chair.” He felt horrible admitting it out loud, sounded crazy admitting it.

“Go on.”

“It was thin and tall, its body and large antlers completely black except for two dead colored eyes. He was the one talking to you towards the end… I think you knew. I remember seeing your expression change in the office. You said my name, and I was trying to call out to you, tell you that I wasn’t there.” His heart was racing now, the fear regripping him as if he was back there.

“It didn’t respond, it only hummed, then you ended the trance… is that why?”

“I suspected…” Hannibal admitted quietly.

“Hannibal… what was it?”

“I admit that I’ve had some time to contemplate on this.” Hannibal sounded hesitant to reveal his opinion.

“Please tell me?”

“It’s not conclusive enough for a definite diagnosis, you understand.”

“Please…” Will asked again.

“In my opinion, it was an alter.”

“An alter?”

“I believe you suffered from, and perhaps still suffer from, dissociative identity disorder.” Will went silent.

“I’ve been torn whether your encephalitis encouraged it. In time, we will find out. Tell me, have you seen it recently?”

“I don’t think so, although I’m not sure. The hospital visit is mostly a blur, as I was in a medically induced coma for some of the time, and I was having a hard time remembering anything when I did wake up. I don’t think I’ve seen it.”

“The next time you do, will you tell me?”

“That depends, Doctor. Will you tell me the next time you talk to it?” Will felt a little betrayed that Hannibal had walked away from the last time he tried to approach the conversation of what happened inside the office.

“Had I known your illness would take you, I would have discussed it with you after the fact. I wanted to wait until we have more privacy.”

“Will you tell me?” He asked again, not caring much for excuses.

“Yes, I will tell you. Now, you were saying?” Will wondered whether he should continue, the fear ruining the strange, alluring moment between the two.

“I recognized where I was in the dream… There is a small scattering of trees near the farmhouse, but I don’t know why I was there. The… monster was across the way staring at me, kneeling on the ground when all of a sudden it started sprinting toward me. I ran toward the farmhouse, managed to make it across the yard and inside. I locked the door and leaned against the front of it, both relieved to have made it inside the house and wanting to make sure it couldn’t get in when…” Will swallowed again, the blush that had drained in his small panic starting to appear again.

“I felt arms wrap around me.” He started, whispering again. He heard Hannibal’s cot springs squelch a little with the drop of his voice.

“The arms were warm and safe, and I remember leaning back into a solid body. I felt assured in my security, like nothing was going to hurt me.”

“Then what?” Hannibal whispered back.

“Hands started to wander, outlining me, feeling me and calming me. They were moving endlessly around my body, up in my hair, down my face and neck, across my shoulders, over my chest…” Will’s mouth went dry, remember the time the fingers spent playing with his sensitive nipples, deciding to leave that information unsaid.

“My skin felt alive, and the fingers were unrelenting. They seemed to dip into the recesses of my body, my muscles, exploring everywhere except… the most sensitive area. There you wouldn’t touch.” He concluded, not sure how graphic he should get and finally admitting that it was indeed Hannibal in his dream.

“I hadn’t known it was you until… after. I registered your olive-toned skin, and stared up into your maroon eyes… Then, I started dreaming about something else.” Will finished, his body reacting to the recollection.

“Thank you.” Hannibal whispered, Will detecting slight breathlessness even through the whisper. The idea that Hannibal was excited, titillated by the recalling of his dream made Will’s insides quiver.

“Quid pro quo?” Will teased, and Hannibal breathed a small laugh.

 

------------

 The cell layout, if anyone was curious :) 10ft by 10 ft, which is actually 4ft by 2ft larger than the average prison cell.

Chapter Text

Hannibal watched Will from the doorway of his small farmhouse, silently closing the wooden door and the screen door behind him. Upon entering the room, music floated gently in from behind him, Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64. Will, dressed in a gentle blue button-down shirt and pressed khaki slacks, was standing in front of his fireplace with his back to him much as the first time Hannibal had been in the room. The fire was bright and lively in front of his shadowed form, crackling attractively and filling the small living space with the earthy scent of the cedar wood Will was burning. Above the popping of the small fire, he heard Will take in a deep breath and letting it out, lifting a hand and feeling his face.

“A few months without you. What am I to do in all that time?” Hannibal softly spoke from behind him, the truth slipping out more easily than expected.

Will turned around and spotted Hannibal standing in front of the door. Hannibal watched as many emotions played on Will’s face, fleeting behind his sweeping gaze.

“Are you concerned?” Will mocked lightly.

“Mildly.” Hannibal mocked back. He enjoyed toying with Will, enjoyed the small appreciation for his small humors.

“You’ll be alright.” Will said, his tone practically dismissive, and he made to turn around back to the fire. Hannibal stepped forward and grabbed Will’s wrist lightly, stopping him from turning.

“Will I?” Hannibal challenged. Will stopped in his grasp and Hannibal could feel the piercing, sweeping glances against the skin of his hand. He wasn’t holding Will tightly, just enough for Will to feel him and to feel Will’s erratic heartbeat through the delicate skin of his wrist.

“Won’t you?” Will whispered, his eyes still fixated on Hannibal’s hand. Hannibal watched as Will blinked, his eyelashes fluttering as erratically as his heartbeat.

“I thought so once. Now… I’m not so sure.” Hannibal watched Will’s eyes bravely flick up to his own, although Will’s body was still facing slightly away from him, caught in his half turn back to the fireplace.

“What’s changed?” Will’s eyes didn’t waver, and Hannibal took this very rare time to appreciate the wide spectrum of colors within Will’s irises, confirming his personal unspoken hope that Will’s eyes picked up colors that were around him, in some cases behind him. Hannibal determined that they were blue, but now found that the color wasn’t as simple as that. Will’s eyes reflected bits of the gray stoned fireplace that was behind him, the green of the forest outside of the windows, and now that he was staring into Hannibal’s eyes, maroon.

“I didn’t know you before.” Hannibal dared to whisper. Will finally blinked, his eyes looking between Hannibal’s, and Hannibal plunged predatorily against Will’s mouth.

 

 

“Quid pro quo?” Will teased from inside his cell, and Hannibal couldn’t help but let a small laugh escape through his nose. Hannibal would tell him some things but not all.

Hannibal was sitting on the very end on his cot, his legs fitting tightly in the small space between his inner cell barrier and his mattress, his shoulder pressed firmly to the concrete. Hannibal was still reeling from the readiness of Will, surprised that he would want to dive back into invasive therapy so soon after serious hospitalization, and even more surprised at how well he took the news of a possible alter. Once the conversation had been breached, Hannibal suspected that Will’s willingness to recount his dream would cease, trumped by more important and pressing matters, but to his surprise Will continued.

Will’s recollection of his dream had sent chills throughout Hannibal, Will being tasteful and hesitant, his body reacting to the recalled images in a very pleasing way. What astounded Hannibal the most was the parallels he drew from Will’s dream to the instance Will took Dronabinal to help stimulate his appetite, Will claiming to have felt Hannibal drawing him since they both got back to their cells.

“Have you really been drawing me since we got back?” Will sounded brave, the drugs lowering inhibitions surely.

“I have, yes.” Hannibal had responded, Will prying the truth out of him long before he was aware of it.

“I was feeling you draw me, even before the pills. I’ve felt it since I woke up.”

Hannibal had been drawing Will extensively the night he had his exciting dream, the sensations of hands traveling all over his body besides his aroused genitalia matching how Hannibal typically drew him. Hannibal, until two months ago, never drew Will’s most private area. Not only was it out of respect, but he hadn’t taken note of its appearance until the last time they had been in the shower together. Even then, it wasn’t completely intentional.

Hannibal wondered if Will would still be able to feel him drawing his body. Hannibal wanted to test this out, and as quietly as he could, he rose in the darkness and felt for some butcher paper and his marker. He sat back down on his cot and draped the butcher paper over his thighs.

“Quid pro quo… Well, to start with, I chose Cello Sonata No.1 by Brahms because of its lingering sadness and its slow, poetic progression between cello and piano, between beauty and tragedy. It reminded me of you, that confliction.” Will stayed quiet, and Hannibal decided to play the piece for him again.

“Can you hear it?” Hannibal whispered.

“…Yes.” Will proclaimed after some concentration, Will’s breathing slowing, the cell growing quieter in his deliberate focus. Hannibal smiled with the news, and promptly started to sketch on the butcher paper. Hannibal didn’t want to be heard, the felt tip barely grazing the surface.

“I’ll start by saying how curious it is that my dream also took place in your farmhouse. It appeared much the same as it had when you described it to me during your trance. The fire was alive, the scent of cedar wood heavy between us, a violin concerto playing softly in the background.” Hannibal paused to listen to Will’s breathing, as he had thought he heard a small gasp. He stilled his marker from sketching, having just started to draw Will’s face as it looked beneath his before Hannibal had devoured his mouth.

“We spoke minimally, idle banter. You were going to turn around to face the fire, and I stepped forward and stopped you. I grabbed your wrist lightly but hard enough to feel your heartbeat. I could feel it pulsing unsteadily under my fingertips, and I could feel your piercing gaze on my hand. I’ll be honest, Will, I know when you are looking at me. Your gaze has a strange weight to it, a piercing quality, like the tip of a needle dragging across the top of my skin. I’ve felt it in the shower, in the gymnasium.” Hannibal finished sketching Will’s ears, moving down to his neck, admiring the way it was twisted so Will could stare at him without moving.

“You wouldn’t look me in the face, as we both know how much you just love eye contact.” Hannibal joked, thinking Will wouldn’t mind a little humor mixed into the equation. The small laughter from the next cell was lovely to hear.

“I managed to get you to look at me, to stare up into my eyes. Your eyes, rogue like in their deception, once identified as blue now apparent in their capability to attract colors from the world around you. Your eyes were blue, gray, green, and suddenly maroon like my own, and I remember staring intently at them…” Hannibal swallowed, remembering that Mischa’s eyes also had the capacity to bloom different colors depending on what she was observing at the time.

“How your eyes shined with unspoken intent. I looked into them until I had to claim your mouth with mine.” Hannibal said a little breathlessly, his lips tingling with false remembrance. Although he had been finishing up the sketch of Will’s face, he started to trace over his mouth in the dark. Will’s breath was a little more audible than it had been before, the heated tang of Will’s arousal filling the air to Hannibal’s sensitive nose.

“We made ourselves comfortable in front of the fire, and soon you were bare before me, and I you. The fire cast delicious shadows across your skin, and I leaned down to taste each shadow.” Hannibal’s sketching hand jumped from Will’s face to a new part of the paper and he started to make its way down Will’s body, feeling a small amount of hesitance in recalling his dream. Hannibal toyed with the idea of telling Will the truth and decided that he’d rather know how Will would react to Alana making an appearance.

“Hannibal, are you drawing me?” Will asked suddenly.

“Yes, I am.”

“It’s making it very difficult to concentrate if I’m honest.” Teasingly, Hannibal lifted his marker, hearing a small relief noise from the next cell. He started to speak again and brought the tip of it lower as he talked.

“My mouth caressed your shadow laden skin from the top of your neck to your shoulders, across the broadness of them and down to your chest, kissing your abdomen before hovering over your hips.” Hannibal’s marker seemed to match his words, hastily outlining the shadowed hills and valleys of Will’s exposed body, vicariously re-living those caressing kisses through his hand.

“I was poised above you, ready to devour you, worship the sensitive part of you I apparently had ignored before, when…”

“When?” A breathless Will called after Hannibal continued to mull over whether to mention Alana. Hannibal’s sketching hand didn’t falter like his words, affectionately drawing Will’s outstretched body, black marker marking out the light of the fire, the desire behind Will’s dark gaze.

“…when I felt a pair of small hands slide across my shoulders and down my back. I turned to see Alana, desire to join us apparent in her blue eyes that remind me of yours, the fire lighting up the long dark hair that was framing her face.” Will’s bench suddenly shifted under his weight, and Hannibal stopped sketching. He heard some small footsteps, away from him then back toward him, the ebb and flow of uncertainty.

“Alana?” Will wanted clarification, something uncomfortable in his voice as he seemed to pace in the darkness of his cell.

“Dr. Alana Bloom, yes.”

“I was unaware you two knew each other.” Will said, Hannibal detecting something like bitterness in his tone.

“Interesting. That was the exact same thing I told her when she came to visit me while you were in the hospital.”

“Why?” Will kept his voice quiet, but it didn’t mask the confusion, the accusation.

“Just to clarify, Alana used to be one of my medical students, although we had been close friends longer than I was her mentor.”

“I’m not really sure I’m much interested in your history with each other.” Will nearly spat, and Hannibal smiled in the dark. His sketching hand picked up its pace again, twirling in Will’s dark curls in an attempt to soothe the irritated Will. Although Will seemed frustrated, his scent told Hannibal other things.

“She came to ask me about your defense. As much as I had selfishly thought that she had come to see me, as we had been close friends for so long, it was clear that her intentions were wholly focused on you. I hope that is some consolation, if I’m detecting jealousy in your voice.”

Will scoffed, his soft footfalls echoing farther away and then closer again.

“Jealousy?” Will repeated incredulously, as if that notion was impossible.

“Your reaction makes me think that you two had known each other fondly in the past.” Hannibal knew Will would deduce what he meant. Surprisingly, Will chuckled darkly.

“Alana and I… She was someone I once distantly hoped would be interested in something like me. She didn’t commit, afraid that I was as unstable as everyone thought, and being a professional, it made her feel guilty having any romantic inclinations… or, it made her feel guilty because she had professional curiosities about me. I guess I can’t blame her now that I know she was right all along. We kissed once, briefly, but…” Will stopped speaking, trying to calm his sudden rise in emotion. Hannibal found himself surprisingly comforted at the fact that they had not been involved.

“I apologize for making you upset.” Hannibal said quietly, half meaning it and not really attempting to hide it. His marker moved away from Will’s saturated curls and started to slide the tip of the marker along the rim of his ears.

“What did she ask you about my defense?” Will tried to speak clearly, but Hannibal could tell that he was indirectly influencing him.

“Sit down, Will. I don’t wish for you to overexert yourself, emotionally or otherwise.”

“Tell me what she said, and I’ll sit back down.” Will bartered.

“She asked me how long I thought you had been sick. Alana was, and possibly still is, considering using automatism as a bargaining chip for your freedom. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what automatism is, but considering your diagnosis, she believes that you shouldn’t be held legally responsible for your murders.”

Will stayed quiet before Hannibal heard him sit back down on his chrome bench, the prison romper sliding against the cement between them.

“What did you say?” Some of the indignation had left his tone, although it was clear that he was still bothered by her unexpected presence, her surprising vigilance in questioning ways to free him. Hannibal continued to sketch out different sections of Will, swirling his curls, outlining the shadows on his abdomen, playing with his ribs, his chest muscles, Will’s nipples. Will took a sharp breath inwards as Hannibal circled the marker around his nipples, and he continued,

“I told her that she will always go after what she thinks is best regardless of any external opinions. I told her that it was a quality I admired when we had been friends.”

“Why do I feel like that isn’t everything you said?” Will whispered tensely, his tone clipped to keep himself sounding calm. Hannibal took note of the sensitivity in Will’s chest, discarding all desire to postulate how Will knew where he was drawing and when.

“You want me to tell you I supported and encouraged her automatism theory? That I considered it full of merit and possibility? I don’t want to disappoint you, Will.”

“There was so much evidence.” Will continued to whisper, disappointment mixing with desire.

“Precisely. I’m an advocate for both of our freedoms, I hope you don’t misunderstand me, but sometimes facts are impossible to ignore.” Hannibal moved the marker tip lower to circle around Will’s navel.

“Did she say whether she visited me in the hospital?” Will almost panted, and Hannibal could hear him swallow thickly.

“She did, although I don’t know when or for how long. Do you remember seeing her?”

“I thought that I had seen her, but… if it was earlier on, I don’t recall much about those weeks.” Hannibal was content with his lack of memories, and to reward Will’s memory lapse, started to drag his marker tip farther lower, resting it just between his hips.

“Please, Hannibal, you’re still drawing me.” Will nearly whined, the whisper emphasizing his desperation.

Hannibal mused, lifting his pen away from the butcher paper. Will responded with a shaky sigh, a small clearing of his throat. Hannibal bit his lower lip with devious contemplation, and gently lowered the marker back down to the butcher paper, running it slowly up and down the outline of Will’s thighs. Immediately, Will sucked in a breath.

“How…?” Hannibal asked rhetorically, his voice dropping to a tense whisper to match Will’s.

“Your intentions are so heavy, so palpable. I was able to feel them before and I still can now. I was able to feel your nightmares between our cells, clammy and metallic with fear. When we would talk, heavy intrigue would swarm me, fill me up… You’re always so intrigued when you talk to me, curious and defensive, clipped and calm to hide your true meanings from me. You can’t hide from me, not completely. You say my gaze feels piercing, well, yours feels like electricity. I know when you are looking at me, too…”

Hannibal had been more cautious with his emotions and thoughts at first, initially perplexed and near frightened by Will’s gift. Hannibal felt some small pangs of regret as he had started to be so careless, and he started to consider drawing back and protecting himself as Will spoke up again.

“Hannibal?”

“Yes, Will?”

“In your dream, the banter before you kissed me… What did we say?” Will’s tone indicated an idea, as if he was already pursuing an answer he knew to be true.

“Why?” Hannibal pursed his lips in the darkness. Will stayed silent, his breathing still shallow with the stimulus until he spoke.

“A few months without you. What am I to do in all that time?” Will said, pulling the words that he had spoken in his dream out of nowhere. Hannibal stilled himself, his sketching hand poised over Will’s hips as he had been in the dream.

“Are you concerned?” Will continued to reiterate.

“Mildly.”

“You’ll be alright.” Will finished.

Hannibal was stunned, waiting to hear the rest of it, finding himself afraid to hear the rest of it.

“I had a similar dream, too, although that interaction was interrupted by the monster… Pleasant dreams often turn sour for me.” Will confessed much to Hannibal’s relief.

“Me too.” Hannibal mirrored Will’s confession, knowing that after Alana and Will had gone from his dream Mischa made an appearance.

“What did you do while I was in the hospital?”

“Much the same. I created more art, I started composing again, and I visited many places from long ago.”

“I guess I was right after all.” Will commented, his tone sounding a mixture of disappointment in being correct and wonder at what it even meant. Hannibal put his marker back down against the paper, knowing where all points of Will’s body were even in the pitch blackness of the pit. Hannibal gently started to sweep his pen strokes along Will’s thighs again, upwards to the curves of his hips, happy when Will sucked in another breath in a poor attempt at being quiet.

“You said the dream had been interrupted by the monster?” Hannibal asked, the shock of Will’s reiteration of the dream he assumed was completely his own not fading.

“Yes. Rather rude of my apparent alter.” Will whispered back. Hannibal knew that the seriousness would hit him eventually but was contented that Will was currently suspended between the realm of knowing and the realm of understanding. Ignorance is only bliss until you know better.

“Rude, indeed. May I ask what happened between the two of you?” Hannibal’s mind filled with the image of Alana, Will and him on the floor in front of the fire, them looking like shadowy monsters in their own right, overtaken by desire. Hannibal took this time to move between Will’s hips, tracing the line just below where a belt would sit.

“I can’t remember. Maybe that is something that you will be able to help me with in therapy.” Will offered with a slightly shaky voice.

“Speaking of rude…” Will said, his breathlessness unable to be hidden now.

“I shouldn’t press boundaries, take advantage of you like this. It’s wholly unfair, and to be continually transparent, completely unlike me. I’m learning all sorts of things about myself.” Hannibal confessed, thinking that the sexual intimacy he had experienced couldn’t compare to what was going on between himself and Will. Sex was something so easily exploitable, the perfect manipulation in most cases, but now Hannibal felt a legitimacy toward wanting Will to feel pleasure that he hadn’t ever felt before towards another person. Foreign feelings were hard to come by, and Hannibal didn’t like not knowing what to do. Hannibal stopped his hand completely and was rewarded by a quiet relieved moan from Will.

Hannibal sat in the dark after he finished toying with Will, the marker heavy butcher paper still laying over his lap. He felt conflicted about future interactions with Will, the keenness of his empathy once again shockingly inconvenient and detrimental. Therapy aside, as he personally wanted to get to the bottom of his memory blocks and the monstrous alter, he would have to limit and control these new feelings until he could better put them to use.

“Thank you for telling me about Alana. I have to admit, I’m surprised she didn’t tell me she knew you.” Will finally said, the tone in his voice ringing conflicted, the heavy sensation of ebbing desire mixing oddly with past resentment.

“Would you have told her about me had you known me before my incarceration?” His question wasn’t accusatory, more clarifying, as Hannibal did not hold it against her personally for purposeful neglect of their history.

Will remained silent, but an unmistakable air of confirmation shifted between them. Will didn’t want to say it out loud, and he didn’t need to.

“I’m sorry.” Will muttered quietly, shame evident as he recognized that no answer was often more telling than any vocal riposte.

Saying nothing, Hannibal got up and slipped the butcher paper under his pillow. Although the lines burned clear in his mind, he wanted to look over it in the dim light before he destroyed it. In the sobering reality of their own situations, their own histories, and their own inconceivable futures, Hannibal contemplated destroying all of the drawings he had kept hidden.

‘You can’t hide from me, not completely.’ Will had said, and this stunning fact made Hannibal shaken. He always melded in with the environments around him, able to slip between all sorts of human suits, nearly invisible to law enforcement as Hannibal managed a perfect non-assuming nature.

That was before Will lived next door.

Hannibal laid down on his cot, the conversation leaving them both silent, an odd tension between them that felt completely different than the other rigidities they have had between them before. Hannibal believed that there were many unspoken thoughts in the air, suffocating the pair of them, himself having difficulties grasping his intentions and feelings toward Will, toward Alana, toward his imprisonment. Although Hannibal preferred Will’s company, he recognized how much simpler his incarceration had been before Will. With this, Hannibal relaxed his mind and his breathing, summoning up the gardens of Versailles he had been in before Will’s arrival and started to slip away.

“Why does it feel like you’re leaving?” Will asked, his voice echoing far away.

“I am. Rest now, Will.”

“Where are you going?”

Hannibal didn’t respond.

---

“Quid pro quo… Well, to start with, I chose Cello Sonata No.1 by Brahms because of its lingering sadness and its slow, poetic progression between cello and piano, between beauty and tragedy. It reminded me of you, that confliction. Can you hear it?” Will felt his eyebrows raise at the prompt, concentrating in the foreign sexual tension between them. Shockingly, with concentration, he could, the same lulling cello that he hadn’t been sure existed.

“…Yes.” Will didn’t know what to think of that, knowing that his empathy had recreated some incredible things before in the past, but those things were conceivable, near cause and effect. Will was about to delve further into personal theories of how it was possible for his empathy disorder to allow him previously unknown knowledge when an electric sensation started to fill him, coat his hair and his face. It was odd and displaced, something external making its way over to him to coddle and caress his hair and face. Although it was odd, it was also familiar, but Will couldn’t place what it was. He allowed the feeling to linger, paying attention to it as Hannibal started to speak.

“I’ll start by saying how curious it is that my dream also took place in your farmhouse. It appeared much the same as it had when you described it to me during your trance. The fire was alive, the scent of cedar wood heavy between us, a violin concerto playing softly in the background.” Will took a sharp intake of breath as the scene started to lay out before him familiarly, his stomach at first churning with the privy of Hannibal’s dreams before the shock engulfed his whole body. Will knew this scene, as it had been one of the dreams he had remembered in the hospital, cedar wood and all.

Surely, the music in the air and them sharing dreams was impossible.

“We spoke minimally, idle banter. You were going to turn around to face the fire, and I stepped forward and stopped you. I grabbed your wrist lightly but hard enough to feel your heartbeat. I could feel it pulsing unsteadily under my fingertips, and I could feel your piercing gaze on my hand. I’ll be honest, Will, I know when you are looking at me. Your gaze has a strange weight to it, a piercing quality, like the tip of a needle dragging across the top of my skin. I’ve felt it in the shower, in the gymnasium.” Will’s ears burned with Hannibal’s words, the tingling sensations never ceasing while he was talking, the shock of knowing what the banter had been mixing with the taboo of their conversation. The emotional turmoil was overwhelming, Will feeling so many different things, both physically and emotionally. Once Hannibal had mentioned the way his gaze felt, embarrassment and surprise creeped up into the cacophony of feelings.

“You wouldn’t look me in the face, as we both know how much you just love eye contact.” Hannibal added, and Will surprised himself by genuinely laughing. They hardly had the time to look at each other, and yet Hannibal could tell in those fleeting moments how hard it was for Will. His perception was so dangerous, and Will wondered if what he was feeling was how others had felt towards him his whole life.

“I managed to get you to look at me, to stare up into my eyes. Your eyes, rogue like in their deception, once identified as blue now apparent in their capability to attract colors from the world around you. Your eyes were blue, gray, green, and suddenly maroon like my own, and I remember staring intently at them…” Will listened to Hannibal’s tone, the unique way he spoke, his subtle accent, all vocal sensations swirling with the physical feelings that didn’t stop with his hair and face and were working their way down his neck. Will felt awed by Hannibal in this moment, the world around him as vivid as Will’s, his dreams just as invasive and consuming.

“How your eyes shined with unspoken intent. I looked into them until I had to claim your mouth with mine.” Hannibal spoke a little breathlessly. With his words, Will felt the electric vibrations move from his neck to his lips, attacking them as surely as Hannibal had in his dream. The electricity felt hot and overwhelming, and Will raised a hand to touch them, shocked to find nothing there. His body hadn’t yet calmed down from his own embarrassing recollection, and as his arousal continued to pulse, Will was sent spiraling into contemplative confusion.

Was he sexually attracted to Hannibal? His first initial reaction was a resounding no, as his past had proven that he was heterosexually inclined. Even heterosexually inclined, Will recognized he hadn’t had the most number of opportunities when it came to any partner, female or otherwise. His sexual history was limited in what he would compare it to someone else his age, and that thought bloomed into contemplation over Hannibal’s past, his inclinations. Will wasn’t given much time to consider, as Hannibal continued his recounting.

“We made ourselves comfortable in front of the fire, and soon you were bare before me, and I you. The fire cast delicious shadows across your skin, and I leaned down to taste each shadow.” Will’s stomach lurched with new sensation, the vibration jumping from his now slightly swollen lips to his abdomen, mirroring Hannibal’s description. Will wasn’t controlling this, wasn’t putting any mental effort into recreating what Hannibal was saying. Will tried to remember the last time he had felt this way, some external force causing physical ambiances, when he remembered the time he had taken Dronabinol for his appetite.

“Hannibal, are you drawing me?” He asked suddenly, feeling slightly bad for cutting him off in the middle of such a tender recreation.

“Yes, I am.”

“It’s making it very difficult to concentrate if I’m honest.” Will said, reaching back up to feel his swollen lips, trying to ignore how tight his prison romper felt. Suddenly, the vibration ceased on his midriff, and Will couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Hannibal started to talk again, and as he did so, the vibrations were back on his stomach, his abdominal muscles. Will meant to say something when Hannibal’s words cut his abjuration.

“My mouth caressed your shadow laden skin from the top of your neck to your shoulders, across the broadness of them and down to your chest, kissing your abdomen before hovering over your hips.” The electricity was conclusively matching Hannibal’s words, the reverberations hasty over all areas of his body, making Will a victim of a near forced imagining of Hannibal’s dream. The impressions made him imagine what Hannibal was saying, making it seem more real than if he had just been listening to Hannibal’s re-telling. It reminded Will of Hannibal’s strong hands gliding and searching his body in his own dream, finding all the recesses and natural shapes of him. He could feel himself pulsing with desire again, and Will bit his lip to try and bring himself back down to this plain of existence, unsure of when he last felt this on edge sexually.

“I was poised above you, ready to devour you, worship the sensitive part of you I apparently had ignored before, when…” Will bit his lip harder, imagining a predatory looking Hannibal naked above him basked in the warm glow of the fire, his eyes shining red with desire. Hannibal was propped on his elbows, leaning his head low towards Will’s hips, ready to coax pleasure from him, when Hannibal stopped speaking.

“When?” Over the desire, Will felt hesitance and internal debate. Will sensed that Hannibal was about to tell him something, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to find out, not wanting whatever was going on between them to end.

“…when I felt a pair of small hands slide across my shoulders and down my back. I turned to see Alana, desire to join us apparent in her blue eyes that remind me of yours, the fire lighting up the long dark hair that was framing her face.” Will’s desire instantly crashed away from him, hearing Alana’s name coming out of his mouth completely jarring him and shaking him momentarily free of the overwhelming need.

Will rose with his sudden disbelief, anger and confusion filling him up and causing him to pace his cell. He could feel the weight of his want as he walked, it only adding to the ire.

“Alana?” Maybe Hannibal had meant a different Alana.

“Dr. Alana Bloom, yes.”

No.

Will racked his already stressed memory, trying to remember if Alana had ever mentioned that she knew Hannibal, knew the Chesapeake Ripper. Nothing came to mind, their experiences together limited because of her defensiveness.

“I was unaware you two knew each other.” He finally said, the bitterness in his tone evident.

“Interesting. That was the exact same thing I told her when she came to visit me while you were in the hospital.” Will’s stomach lurched at this, Hannibal hinting that they had talked about him while she visited. Will tried not to think about the fact that he had willingly talked about Jack Crawford with Hannibal in his trance, stated outright that he had worked with the FBI. Hannibal’s behavior hadn’t changed toward him as Will most likely confirmed his suspicions, but he couldn’t count it out completely. Will would have to be more on guard.

“Why?”

“Just to clarify, Alana used to be one of my medical students, although we had been close friends longer than I was her mentor.” Will furrowed his eyebrows at the explanation, unimpressed.

“I’m not really sure I’m much interested in your history with each other.” Will said, the truth of it sounding harsher than he originally anticipated. The frustration he was feeling was confusing, as it subjectively didn’t have any justification. It was a knee-jerk reaction, surprised and defensive that she would appear in his dream, visit him in jail. Had she done so within the year of Hannibal’s incarceration? She never mentioned it, and Will wondered if that was what bothered him. As he was contemplating why he was feeling suddenly perplexed, the familiar, probing electricity found its way back to his hair, swirling and stroking the curls that had grown out in the months of his hospitalization. Will sighed, the sensation of fingers in his hair feeling fine but slightly ruined by his poor mood.

“She came to ask me about your defense. As much as I had selfishly thought that she had come to see me, as we had been close friends for so long, it was clear that her intentions were wholly focused on you. I hope that is some consolation, if I’m detecting jealousy in your voice.”

Will scoffed in reaction, his eyebrows raised at the proclamation, the insinuation of his jealousy.

“Jealousy?” He repeated, the word sinking in. It didn’t sit well with him, as he had no reason to really be jealous of either Alana or Hannibal.

“Your reaction makes me think that you two had known each other fondly in the past.” The suggestion made Will laugh darkly, the idea of Alana and him being together long dead even before his incarceration.

“Alana and I… She was someone I once distantly hoped would be interested in something like me. She didn’t commit, afraid that I was as unstable as everyone thought, and being a professional, it made her feel guilty having any romantic inclinations… or, it made her feel guilty because she had professional curiosities about me. I guess I can’t blame her now that I know she was right all along. We kissed once, briefly, but…” Will stopped talking, his face falling at the reminiscence. It was like she had known his potential all along.

“I apologize for making you upset.” Hannibal said, his tone quiet and solemn, although Will detected that this was a half-truth. The buzzing against his scalp moved as Hannibal apologized, the rim of his ear tingling with repetitious finger strokes. It made his ears burn, the touch soft in its caress.

“What did she ask you about my defense?” His voice came out softer than predicted, the caressing of his ears throwing him off kilter. Hannibal was consoling him, trying to calm his sudden anger. The intent was endearing, but Will’s confusion and irritation was making this exchange less appealing than it had been before.

“Sit down, Will. I don’t wish for you to overexert yourself, emotionally or otherwise.”

“Tell me what she said, and I’ll sit back down.”

“She asked me how long I thought you had been sick. Alana was, and possibly still is, considering using automatism as a bargaining chip for your freedom. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what automatism is, but considering your diagnosis, she believes that you shouldn’t be held legally responsible for your murders.” Will was near shocked at this, the idea of Alana still desperate for his innocence striking deep in his core. Will didn’t want to read too much into this, knowing her battle was folly.

Keeping his word, Will sat back down on the chrome bench, resting his right shoulder against the cement barrier between them. Will’s mind was heavy, downtrodden with a plethora of emotions and questions.

“What did you say?” Will asked, aware of the travelling vibrations moving back into his hair, gliding down the front of his torso to circle his ribs and back up to his chest. Will gasped softly as his nipples lit up with fire, the finger stroking striking down to his now softening member. It felt amazing, and Will felt that it was a shame this news was killing the intimate moment that unexpectedly flourished between Hannibal and him.

“I told her that she will always go after what she thinks is best regardless of any external opinions. I told her that it was a quality I admired when we had been friends.” Will shook his head, both from feeling groggy with the sudden rise of sexual tension when he wanted to be clear headed and also because Hannibal was keeping something from him.

“Why do I feel like that isn’t everything you said?”

“You want me to tell you I supported and encouraged her automatism theory? That I considered it full of merit and possibility? I don’t want to disappoint you, Will.”

“There was so much evidence.” Will whispered, thinking that unconsciousness would only do so well as a defense against physical pieces of his victims found in his fishing lures.

“Precisely. I’m an advocate for both of our freedoms, I hope you don’t misunderstand me, but sometimes facts are impossible to ignore.” The finger strokes moved away from his chest, travelling down toward his navel and circling the sensitive skin of his stomach. Will felt the blood creep back into his face, his nipples still burning from the stroking. He tried to keep his mind on their conversation, but Hannibal’s teasing made it near impossible, the stroking so low on his body.

“Did she say whether she visited me in the hospital?”

“She did, although I don’t know when or for how long. Do you remember seeing her?” Will strained his memory, the vibrations along his stomach overwhelming.

“I thought that I had seen her, but… if it was earlier on, I don’t recall much about those weeks.” With that said, the electricity travelled lower towards his hips, settling just above where the waist of his pants rested. Finally, the fingers so close to his renewed vigor, he protested.

“Please, Hannibal, you’re still drawing me.” The feelings stopped, leaving an empty cold impression where the probing fingers had been. Will sighed in relief and cleared his throat, his mind heavy with the teasing. He had to be deprived, such indirect stimulus causing him to nearly collapse. Just as he was starting to work up something to say next, the damned electricity found Will’s body again, gently teasing the outside of his thigh. He sucked in a breath at this, his hair standing on end all over his body at the delicate touch.

“How…?” Hannibal asked, the intrigue thick between them again, his own voice whispering.

“Your intentions are so heavy, so palpable. I was able to feel them before and I still can now. I was able to feel your nightmares between our cells, clammy and metallic with fear. When we would talk, heavy intrigue would swarm me, fill me up… You’re always so intrigued when you talk to me, curious and defensive, clipped and calm to hide your true meanings from me. You can’t hide from me, not completely. You say my gaze feels piercing, well, yours feels like electricity. I know when you are looking at me, too…” Will felt the intrigue between them clip off suddenly, like someone had left the room. Will regretted mentioning this, Hannibal’s defensiveness understandable but unfortunate.

Will didn’t want to admit that he had been fascinated himself by Hannibal, not respecting his privacy in the least and prodding his cell with his gift, wanting to understand, to know Hannibal. He concluded that this had been because of the initial notes he had made for Jack, questions unsolved even now.

“Hannibal?” He asked after some quiet, his thighs still alight with Hannibal’s fingertips.

“Yes, Will?” His tone sounded more cut off than before, heavy with contemplation, perhaps uncertainty like Will.

“In your dream, the banter before you kissed me… What did we say?” Will wanted to know whether they had shared a dream although so far apart. The idea of a connection established between them that granted them insight into each other’s minds played with Will.

“Why?” An accusatory tone, aware that Will was trying to pry knowledge from him. Instead of answering, Will closed his eyes, momentarily blocking out the fingers skimming the length of his thighs.

“A few months without you. What am I to do in all that time?” Will reiterated, wondering if Hannibal would ever really say something like that. It was tender, meant affectionately, his tone sounding unbelieving at his own dilemma of a Will-less existence.

“Are you concerned?” He had joked in his dream, Hannibal returning the humor.

“Mildly.” It was more than mildly, Will remembering the seriousness of his demeanor in the shower, his attempts at cooling down his fever, and how quick he had come to Will’s side when he near fainted.

“You’ll be alright.” Will finished, the assumption of his existence playing no real part in anyone’s life ringing deep with truth, even with the humor. Hannibal would be alright if Will wasn’t nearby, and Will would argue that Hannibal might even be better off. A stunned silence came over Hannibal’s cell, even the touching of his thighs ceasing at the shock. Perhaps they had shared the dream, Hannibal’s stillness confirming.

“I had a similar dream, too, although that interaction was interrupted by the monster… Pleasant dreams often turn sour for me.”

“Me too.” Hannibal whispered, the relatability tugging at Will’s chest.

“What did you do while I was in the hospital?”

“Much the same. I created more art, I started composing again, and I visited many places from long ago.”  Will’s suspicions were confirmed, Hannibal’s life carrying on without him. Will wondered why that hurt, why he felt some small disappointment.

“I guess I was right after all.” He said, and the sensations were back on his body, soft and hesitant fingers on his thighs and moving upwards to the sharp angle of his hip bones. Will bit his lip, trying to calm his breath.

“You said the dream had been interrupted by the monster?” Hannibal continued, not confirming or denying.

“Yes. Rather rude of my apparent alter.” The news of his identity disorder had settled oddly in Will’s mind, thinking it both hardly the case while also probable. The illness could have explained the apparent disorder well enough, and Will hadn’t seen his alter since the dream.

“Rude, indeed. May I ask what happened between the two of you?” Hannibal’s fingertips moved from the edge of his hips, moving inward toward the waist of his pants again and dipping dangerously lower. Will let out a quick breath, the sensations so close to his now fully erect member.

“I can’t remember. Maybe that is something that you will be able to help me with in therapy.” Will blushed as he heard the shake in his voice, the touching undoing him like it had in his dream.

“Speaking of rude…” He added on, realizing with another sharp stab of embarrassment that he was subconsciously angling his hips toward the invisible teasing.

“I shouldn’t press boundaries, take advantage of you like this. It’s wholly unfair, and to be continually transparent, completely unlike me. I’m learning all sorts of things about myself.” Hannibal’s tone was torn, perplexed, and for the first time in Will’s accompaniment with him, emotional. In this moment, he understood that what Hannibal was doing to him was just as much of a first for Hannibal as it was for him. The sensations ended, leaving behind that cold, empty feeling. Will couldn’t help but moan in relief, his member pulsing painfully against the taut fabric.

“Thank you for telling me about Alana. I have to admit, I’m surprised she didn’t tell me she knew you.” Will tried again for conversation, the quiet going on too long.

“Would you have told her about me had you known me before my incarceration?” Will grimaced at the question, knowing full well that he wouldn’t have told anybody had Hannibal and him been close friends before he found out about his tendencies, his macabre preferences.

“I’m sorry.” Was all Will could manage to say, the silence and tension still growing between them. Will heard Hannibal shift away from the cement wall, laying back on his cot. Hannibal felt withdrawn to Will, his shields up. It was this stark feeling that made Will realize that his shields had been down with Will most of the time they had been speaking, allowing himself to be open with him. Now, he regretted the way Hannibal felt distant.

“Why does it feel like you’re leaving?” He asked to the half presence in the other cell. The sudden withdrawal of Hannibal made Will’s stomach clench with anxiety.

“I am. Rest now, Will.”

“Where are you going?”

Hannibal didn’t respond.

Chapter Text

Hello all!! ^^

I just wanted to thank everyone for the love and support I've received while writing my first ever fanfiction! The response was beyond expectation, and it means so much to me that people would be willing to read my work, give me kudos, bookmark, and/or comment on my fiction!

Thank you so much!!!

With that being said, after much deliberation, I think I'll need to have a period of reflection when it comes to this story. Not only are the chapters not following my original layout (writing without a layout is perfectly fine, but for me, it has deviated very much so from the original story line I thought up almost a year or so now) but I've also determined that the lack of realism in my story is very bothersome for me. I've been trying to cram so much into such a short amount of "real time" (real time meaning the timeline in the story) that it's just not working for me personally. As my story is 17 chapters long, it's been difficult for me to keep up with what I've already established. There was one chapter in specific where I wrote over 3k words that I ended up needing to erase because the point had already been made prior in one of the first earlier chapters, and the scene I was writing just didn't add up with what I already established in my story. I really want this to be as seamless as possible, and I really want it all to make relative sense.

I know I'm not the only one who constantly deals with self-consciousness or general questioning of self-worth when it comes to posting any original work, but looking back at how the latest chapters stack up in comparison to the first chapters, I find myself disappointed with how I've decided to go about writing my story. It is lacking for me, and I want to take some time to really beef it up, explain and rework somethings that aren't sitting well with me, as well as keep it more cohesive with the story I initially wanted to write.

It's tough because with the job and general schedule I had before, I was able to sit down and dedicate hours into writing, even after I got home from work. Now, I've switched jobs to something that requires more of my attention as well as the fact that it's a night shift. I also recently got married and bought a new house, and life has just been moving so fast and it always gets in the way of the fun little things that I want to do (not that getting married isn't fun >< <33).

I hope you all can understand where I am coming from! I won't delete or remove this from the site, but I will definitely be revamping my chapters, redesigning a more concrete story line, and hopefully start posting new content really soon. I haven't yet figured out whether I will post each chapter as I've updated it, or if I will try and post the new content all at the same time.

Thank you again to all the people who have been kind enough to read my fic, give me kudos, bookmark my fic and leave such wonderful comments. The support has really helped me keep going, as I think we all know the feeling of inadequacy.

<3 you all,

MNXombi :)

Chapter Text

Another update, probably the last one for a long while :)

Thank you to the people who left me feedback on my poll! I appreciate the comments on the posted chapter as well explaining their vote. I really enjoyed the feedback!

After three days of having the poll up, here are the results:

Psychic - Music and dreams shared between them, Hannibal drawing Will - 63% approval
Somewhere between the two - (Idea) The illness increases Will's sensitivity, but fades after hospitalization. - 29% approval
Empathy - Canon-material based accuracy. - 8% approval

As shocked as I am that so many people voted for the psychic element for the story, I am very much so aware that a lot of people voted for a hybridization. I will definitely keep both things in mind when I start to revamp my story, as I don't want to make my story purposefully unappealing to anyone.

Thank you again for giving me feedback! I'm loving the communication between me and the readers, as ultimately I want other people to enjoy my story as much as I want to enjoy it.