The harshly heated throb of his heartbeat thudding in his eardrums, and the noisy rush of blood circulating fast within his veins, drew him slowly from the comforting lull of a dreamless slumber. The pain was the first thing that licked his senses, like a relentless scourging wildfire.
Over the more harrowing years of his youth, he had learned to train his mind and body to become accustomed to and ignore trivialities such as pain. He would never again let himself feel the weak limitations of the body or let them dilute his physical or mental abilities in any shape or form. Weakness, be it in mind or body, was not something he could simply afford.
Before now, he had never let any emotion rule him or truly overtake his actions, other than pure, unadulterated anger; only on occasion did the messy, primal need of satisfaction that could only come from shedding off his person suit to completely strip himself bare, as the world had truly intended him to be.
He had not allowed himself the mercy to feel much of anything at all since the passing of Mischa; for a time he had been content to just continue to survive and be numb. Though that was before he met him -- Will Graham, a name that would forever to be carved inside of the very core of his being, of that he was certain; even in death, he would not have forgotten it. As soon as their eyes had met their fates had been inexplicably and irreversibly changed.
Over a short span of time, they had grown so severely interwoven, that they had begun to blur at the edges. Where it was that he began and Will ended, he was not certain of anymore.
A burning ache flared deep inside his abdomen; spiking bits of white-hot pain, his breath taken nearly away as he moved to untangle his uncooperative, heavy limbs from the warmth of the duvet enveloping him.
“Hannibal.” The calm steady voice of Chiyoh sounded softly next to him instantly anchoring him back to reality.
He grimaced and blinked through the misty haze of painkillers that he knew for certain were clouding his senses. His dark-maroon gaze finds the concerned, chocolate-brown eyed woman gazing back; her body hovering closely.
The room smelled thick with the dust of disuse; there was furniture in the background covered in white sheets to block out the wear and tear of time. Instantly, he pieced together his surroundings. Realizing then they were more than likely in one of the safe houses that he had purchased years ago, in British Columbia, Canada.
Suddenly, he remembered that someone dreadfully important to him appeared missing; Will was startling absent from the room.
He felt the absurd need to feel around for the smaller man’s body on the bed next to him. Swallowing harshly, his Adam's apple bobbed uselessly in his throat. An icy panic shoots through him when he realizes that he is the sole occupant of the bed.
“Where is Will?” He questions, his accented English heavy and thick taking on a raspy quality.
Chiyoh remains completely still her spine as straight as an iron rod, her dark brown eyes unwaveringly calm betraying nothing.
A long silence stretches over them awkwardly, as a coil of fear outweighs the burning in his gut, “Where. Is. He?” He bites out louder than before; forcing his body upright.
Frowning deeply at his unusual lack of self-control, Chiyoh blows out an aggravated breath; she doesn’t even try to stop him.
The Japanese woman merely gives him a disappointed, chastising look of annoyance before speaking again, “He is in one of the guest rooms down the hall. I should warn you, his current condition is not at all ideal. He was not breathing when I pulled you from the cold ocean waters. Even after resuscitation, his very body seemed to deteriorate as the days passed. The wound to his cheek is severely infected, while the wound to his shoulder is very deep. He also has several broken ribs.” She paused, carefully regarding Hannibal’s closed off expression.
“I treated both your wounds and his to the best of my abilities, but you know I am nowhere near as skilled as you are in either medicine or surgical repair. I did, however, manage to collect some much-needed supplies at a veterinarian’s office on the way here. I have him currently hooked up to a strong dose of antibiotics and pain medication but I am afraid it does not seem to be working. His fever is steadily climbing and has been for days. Unfortunately, I could not simply leave to fetch something stronger while you lay unconscious. Your well-being will forever be more important to me than his.”
Hannibal’s face, for the most part, is blank, which swiftly sent up red flags inside Chiyoh’s head.
The man’s anger was almost tangible in the air; cloaking them heavily. His dark gaze bores into her before swiftly yanking out his IV. Pushing his legs over the side of the bed, he forces all his strength into them to remain standing upright. Swaying on his feet, he roughly moves past the wildly protesting Chiyoh; ignoring her, he stumbles into the hall toward the nearest guest room as quickly as his body would allow him.
Muscles taut under his skin, he inhales deeply his nostrils flared as he searches for Will’s scent in the air; his uneven footfalls echoing in soft thuds against the hardwood floor. Chiyoh follows silently behind, like a loyal watchdog, as he forces the guestroom door open with more strength than is necessary.
The room is dimly lit by several candles sitting upon the mantle; the biting claw of antiseptic and the unpleasant, heady scent of illness cling so strongly to the air, Hannibal’s nose twitches in disgust.
Lying in the center of the queen-sized bed is Will; the younger man’s skin is so worryingly-pale, it’s almost gray, save for the heated flush of fever seated high on his cheekbones. He looked terribly fragile and so much smaller than Hannibal remembered seeing him. It brought forth an unrelenting ache of fear and protectiveness to settle uneasily within his chest.
An IV was hung skillfully over a hook on the wall not too far from the bed, the line leading to the top of one of Will’s hands; said appendage remained eerily still with a doll-like fragility upon the bedspread.
Will’s cheeks were surprisingly clean shaven, making him appear several years younger; Chiyoh must have taken it upon herself to tend to the bedridden man’s needs after having cleaned and stitched the wound. Will’s injured cheek was covered in stained gauze, now stained a pinkish-red; his chest and shoulder were also wrapped, the gauze much cleaner in those two areas.
Gasping, wet-sounding breathes issued from Will’s chapped and parted lips, hanging in the air above them like falling knives. Sweat beaded copiously in a cool sheen over every inch of the younger man’s skin that remained uncovered.
Stumbling forward Hannibal inhales sharply, his dark eyes dilating ever so slightly in panic. The sickly sweet tang of fever, sweat, and blood hits him like a tidal wave, “Chiyoh.” He rasps out.
Quickly stepping to the side of him, Chiyoh inclines her head slightly in question, “Yes, Hannibal?”
“Quickly. Leaf through my Canadian contacts and find one of my preferred private doctor acquaintances; make sure they are to know the severity of the situation and that they are to come at once.” His voice is low and calm but the uncharacteristic tenseness, underlying, is not lost on Chiyoh.
Pausing momentarily, for a quick once-over, she nods before hesitantly exiting the room.
Gingerly easing himself upon the bed, Hannibal takes prudence to not jar Will or the IV, in any way. But it would seem that even sitting upright was taking a toll on his reserves; despite this, he made no move to lay down. Ignoring the pounding, aching-burn in his stomach and side, he hovers over Will. His one hand steadying himself as it splays lazily against the bedspread on the other side of the still form next to him.
Bringing his thumb to skirt and glide over the underside of Will’s wrist, he feels for the pulse point; an unsteady beat thumps over the flesh of his fingers.
Twitching downward, his lips purse, forming a grim line before he places a shaky palm to atop the sweat-soaked, chestnut-brown curls clinging messily to Will’s forehead.
Brushing the damp curls gently aside, Hannibal cups the side of Will’s undamaged cheek; his thumb stroking slow, tender circles over the side of it. “You intended for this to be the end of our story, didn't you Will? Unfortunately, the final curtain has fallen, but the ending you had so strived so hard for, has eluded you.”
Moistening his own chapped lips, a shiver of exhaustion courses through his spine. “Did you truly wish to leave me so badly? As you believe I once did to you. Perhaps this finely crafted revenge was your attempt to bleed me dry."
A soft whimper spills helplessly from Will’s mouth as his chest shudders uselessly in an effort to fill his straining lungs.
The pained noise emitted lances through Hannibal’s chest like a well-guided scalpel, cutting away his own bated and uneven breath in seconds.
“Was this your plan all along, I wonder, to change me as much as I have you?” Hannibal murmurs softly before allowing himself to lean back against the pillows next to Will. Pulling down the blankets, he spoons Will, ignoring the angry protests of the gunshot wound in his gut he pulls the sweat-soaked heated, unconscious form protectively against his chest.
Encircling his arms tightly around the slighter body, Hannibal lets a pained breath rock through him. His eyes feeling oddly constricted and wet for the first time in many years, “You are not allowed to venture toward such unrelenting darkness that I cannot readily follow you into.”
Will’s smaller wiry pliant form fit perfectly tucked away against his own larger muscled build. Seemingly fitting together like two uniquely missing puzzle pieces having only just finally found one another after so long of them being apart.
The younger man’s gasping pants of pain seemed to have slowed to a more manageable and relaxed released puff of hot breath.
Hannibal burrowed his face into the tilted, deliciously-pale expanse of Will’s neck. Breathing in heavily, he tried to strip away the overwhelming impurities of dried blood and the sickeningly-sweet scent of fever to the underlining scent beneath. He smelled purely of the forest -- woodsy pine, damp soil, and a hint of sweet summer's rain.
The fog of exhaustion soon bid invitation to a splash of blackness that encroached upon his vision. His mind practically begged him to remain awake, alert, and ever watchful over Will; his body, however, had other ideas.
Almost too far gone to the pain and exhaustion to feel the pricking sting of a needle at the base of his neck, he utters a snarled groan. The rage he feels is too soon a fleeting thought as it spirals out of reach with the syringe emptying itself into his bloodstream. He is soon lulled by the silent thrumming of Will Graham’s beating heart, which could be felt thumping wildly through the younger man’s back, as the wings of a hummingbird.
Like an all-powerful crashing wave, Hannibal’s consciousness fades to gray, where he is once again lost to the ever-expanding rooms of his memory palace.
He awoke with a sharp intake of breath bursting from his lungs; his lips in turning up into an animalistic snarl. He tried to regain control over his senses but the lingering after-effect of drugs still in his system seemed to rebel against his every attempt.
Laying very still, his chest heaved unevenly for a few moments as he forced his body to calm itself; the room was bathed in moonlight and darkness of early morning. Fumbling in the dimness of the room his fingers ghosted clumsily in search of Will when his mind quickly registered that the other man was no longer in the safety of his arms.
His vision was still a bit blurred with the combination of whatever he had been dosed with and the remnants of sleep. That was when the realization came to him that he was once again in his master bedroom where he had first woken only hours before.
Frowning deeply, he tamped down the rising bubble of anger that was beginning to overtake him. Chiyoh had not only drugged him against his will, but she had also denied him Will’s presence.
Letting an annoyed breath fall from his lips, he sat up in bed very slowly as to not agitate his wounds before pulling out his IV line. Surprisingly, Chiyoh was not in the room to reprimand him this time, and in fact, by the smell of it, she hadn’t been for quite some time.
Easing off the bed, he stood; his legs feeling less-coltish and stronger than his last attempt. Making his way toward the guest room, he was stopped in the hall just outside of Will’s door by a firm hand wrapping around the back of his arm.
“Hannibal.” Chiyoh speaks softly yet her voice was stern, “You should be in bed resting, not wandering the halls.”
Wrenching his arm out of her grip, he turns toward her, his dark-maroon eyes flashed a warning against the glow of the candlelight of the hallway. “You of all people must know what the clarity of lucidness means to me. If you attempt to drug me again without my explicit permission, there will be severe consequences that.”
Her lips twitch into a grimace but she stands her ground, not cowering before his anger or dark promises, “I did what was deemed necessary. Your injuries aren’t to be taken so lightly Hannibal, you aren’t invincible; you nearly died. Your gunshot wound may not have hit anything of vital import but you had nearly bled to death. The chance of infection is still high given your weakened state and previous blood loss. I knew you would not allow yourself to sleep properly without my aid.”
Before he could respond the door of the guest room clicks open, revealing a man of average height and advanced age, his salt and pepper hair cropped short; he wore thin wire-rimmed glasses that reflected a grim expression in his pale, gray eyes, “If you want my professional opinion, this man should be moved immediately to an intensive care unit. He is in the beginning stages of sepsis; the wounds to his face are severely infected and need to be properly cleaned.”
Hannibal eyes the short, older man before him, a coil of distaste and disgust riling about in his stomach, “We are currently dealing with circumstances which do not allow for safe travel.”
The old doctor regarded him with obvious unease; he clears his throat to speak again, “I’ve changed the antibiotics that he was on to a more aggressive brand. I have also hooked him up to oxygen, seeing as he was nearly hyperventilating upon my arrival. His chances of survival are quite obviously, minimal. If you do not take him to a hospital, you needn't worry I suppose, he will survive, albeit, it will take work. The only sure thing is it we have caught the sepsis before any lasting damage to his kidneys, or liver failure had a chance to occur.”
Pulling out a prescription pad from his coat pocket, the doctor signs two sheets and holds them out to Hannibal, “For the antibiotic drip and pain medication.”
Taking them both, Hannibal nods stiffly; his dismissal of the old man, quite apparent.
Wordlessly, Chiyoh leads the old doctor down the hall and out through the front door.
Reeling uncontrollably, Hannibal swallows ponderously before returning to Will’s room.
Lying on the bed, ever pale, Will remains unmoving; the disappointment stings Hannibal unbearably hard. He had hoped Will’s fever would have abated by now, but after hearing the doctor’s prognosis, he is left with a rather sour aftertaste.
This is not what he had wanted for him; for them. Their becoming had been meant to be something ethereal; a breathtaking dance of flesh and blood; unifying their very souls.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, almost hesitantly, chest tight with emotion, Hannibal gazes down at Will’s supine, slightly-shaking form; Will is still dappled with cool sweat which pearls at his temples, and curls giving his pale skin a luminous glow. The only change to the younger man’s face is the crease of pain, furrowed in the arch of his brows.
“Will, you must wake soon. I cannot bear seeing you descend further from my grasp,” Hannibal's voice soft, and thick, with uncharacteristic desperation.
Slowly he runs his long, thin fingers over the underside of Will’s jawline. “You are so close to my side of the veil... come back to me."
Will’s face contorts into a painful wince; glazed-over, ocean-blue eyes open at half-mast. Confused, he slurs the name of the older man.
Hannibal’s eyes widen; delightedly shocked by the change. “Hush, my dear Will. I am here.” Lacing their fingers together in a comforting fashion, Hannibal softly caresses Will's cheek.
“Han…” Will mumbles. He blinks; his gaze regaining some of their earlier appeal as he becomes more lucid. “… W-where...?”
“All you need to know is that we are safe."
"Canada. In one of my safe houses. Just as soon as you are more stabilized, we will need to relocate. The more distance we put between us and our pursuers, the better."
“Mmmm…” Weakly squeezing Hannibal’s fingers, Will shoots him a look of concern, “…You… were shot.”
Slightly amused, Hannibal's eyes light up, “Indeed I was.”
“Y-you are… still in pain… I c-can feel it… you can't hide anything from me. You… should be resting.” Frowning, Will tries to appear stronger than he currently is.
Smiling softly, Hannibal cups the undamaged side of Will’s face, careful not to jar the breathing mask, “We are a unique symbiosis, you and I. Somewhere along the way, we aspired but failed to cut away the connection we share as if it were a malignant mass.”
Letting out a soft snort that soon became a gasping cough, Will leans into Hannibal’s; a yearning, clear as day. “We… are conjoined. I … doubt either of us… c-could s-survive separation now.”
“Very well put, Will. Even if we wished for it to end now, I doubt it would be anything but chaotic. Wouldn't you agree?” Hannibal muses; his heated gaze never leaving Will’s.
With his free hand, Will gingerly settles it against the softly, curved peak of Hannibal’s cheekbone. “You always saw s-so deeply... th-through me… like no one el-else ever... possibly could.” Tears collected at the edges of his eyes; he blinked them back, his lashes caught one before letting a few more roll down the slope of his cheeks.
Hannibal emitted a soothing noise that caught thickly in the back of his throat. Leaning ever closer, he disentangles their fingers. Bringing both of his large, callused hands to cup the sides of Will’s face, he tenderly thumbs over them; brushing away the stray tears with utmost care. “My darling boy, no one has ever, nor will they ever be allowed to see you as I do.”
More tears well in the depths of the stormy green-blue eyes staring back at Hannibal. “A-am I... d-dreaming Hannibal? P-please… don’t be a dream... I can’t…” His voice, in pleading desperation, trails off.
Pressing his forehead against Will’s sweaty, dark-chestnut curls, Hannibal shushes him softly. “I am not a hallucination, Will, nor am I dream."
A shudder shoots through Will’s spine at the intimacy of the moment; the fanning heat of Hannibal’s breath gliding over his face. His body feels, suddenly, very heavy; lowering his hand, it settles limply against the sheets; the internal urge to flee where Hannibal is not, leaves Will as his head lulls backward against the pillow, and his lids begin to droop.
“Will?” Hannibal felt his heart seize; nearly escaping his chest in blind panic. “Will!” His fingers frantically knead and press the side of Will’s neck to locate a pulse; the slow, steady thump against his fingertips prompts a near-frenzied reaction from Hannibal. Relieved, he clenches his eyes shut. Bringing his lips to Will’s forehead, he plants a gentle kiss. “I predict you will one day be the end of me, sweet William.”
Upon waking, Hannibal could feel the searing heat of Will’s body, tucked tightly against his chest; the younger man’s curls, a sweaty, tangled mess spread out over the fabric of Hannibal’s shirt. A looming presence near the door, had his eyes snapping sideways.
Standing stiffly, cool indifference on her face, she tells Hannibal, “I determined moving you would only cause you to lash out at me, as you had done earlier.” She promptly walked over to the bed to change Will's three near-empty IV bags containing saline, antibiotic, and pain reliever.
“When it comes to knowing my every thought, Chiyoh, you are by far the most intelligent person I have ever met.”
Lifting an eyebrow at that, Chiyoh snorts derisively, “Even more so than Will Graham, I take it?”
Appearing to actually consider that, Hannibal’s mouth slowly takes an upward turn. “Well, perhaps we should not go that far.”
“I will never understand what about him captivates you so. He is a twitchy, disheveled, un-stabled mess,” She remarks bluntly, unafraid of how her words may affect or anger him.
“Will is everything that I am, markedly not, while at the same time, being everything that I am. We are forever interchangeable in that regard. It is not at all surprising that you cannot see the depth of his true worth; not many can or have,” Hannibal states, his tone notably approaching that of irritation.
“If you insist on staying in this room with him, I must insist on hooking you up to your own IV drip. At least until your strength returns,” Chiyoh's tone bordering on authoritarian.
It’s Hannibal’s turn to raise a brow; his eyes narrowing ever so slightly, showing vexation. “Orders, Chiyoh? What makes you think you hold the power in this situation?"
“Are you really going to stop me, Hannibal?"
When he doesn't reply, Chiyoh adds, "consider it retribution for the past hurts you have caused me." Picking up a new IV bag, she quickly hooks it up to Hannibal.
“I will not be confined to this bed for long, Chiyoh,” Hannibal informs her, in a dangerously calm tone.
Choosing to ignore the underlying threat, she asks, “Do you think he will survive?”
The tensing of Hannibal’s shoulders gives her pause; she blinks, scanning his now blank expression.
“Will is stronger than anyone, me among them, has ever given him credit for. Breakable he may be, but he is a true survivor. Will reminds me much like the phoenix of lore, as it rises from the ashes of its past-selves, in glorious rebirth.”
“You seem to have high hopes for him.” She murmurs softly.
Carding his fingers through Will’s damp curls, Hannibal sighs contentedly. “I always have."
Like grains of sand in an hourglass, the days had begun trickling, profoundly slow. The cool chill of morning air that settled upon the room had Hannibal making mental notes for Chiyoh to turn up the heat. Frost laced the windows with intricate patterns; dense white storm clouds hung lazily overhead.
With Hannibal’s routine gradually blurring together, his mind refused to break through the cloudy cocktail of medications Chiyoh had insisted he take. Chiyoh made sure that he ate properly, while she went about the task of changing his bandages; begrudgingly, she also took on one more duty; that of practically force-feeding Will simple broths, whenever the younger man was lucid enough.
Due to her efforts, Will’s fever was down; though not enough for Hannibal’s liking.
Today, as he mutely acknowledged, was the day Will's facial wound was to be cleaned. They did not have the proper anesthetics, so a local numbing agent would have to do.
The younger man seemed to be trapped within the confines of his own mind, the majority of the time. It took a lot of patience and time on Hannibal’s part to gather even the smallest of reactions; to say the least, it was quite troubling. Normally, Will’s perplexities had his interest peaked with the many possibilities; it was certainly never boring to be around Will.
It was, however, disconcerting to not be able to hold conversations with the other man, like they were so apt to do back in Baltimore. Three, seemingly endless, long years of isolation in Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, had Hannibal in such a severe state; the long nights of pining for Will had nearly driven him over the edge. As Hannibal had often found, the only way to hold onto his sanity was to journey through the vastness of his mind palace; a place that only he and Will had traveled.
Will seemed to be inexplicably haunted within himself; his mind and soul both at war for dominance within the darkness. Hannibal would be lying if he said he was not responsible for at least half the trauma lurking about inside of Will. He would never apologize though, for he did not regret much. However, he would if given the chance to do it all over again, change quite a few things, for the better.
Will was forever surprising him in ways not a single other one had even come close to doing. It was one of the many things that drew him to the younger man, much like a moth to a flame. -------------------------------
When his mind finally cleared he was instantly alert to the fact that Will was no longer on the bed beside him, the Iv that had been attached to Will dangled uselessly against the bed sheets.
Darting upright with such intensity that it made the stitches in his gut burn like lava he quickly scanned the room for Will; Hannibal’s eyes quickly found the bathroom door slightly ajar to the left of him.
Sighing heavily Hannibal pulled out his own Iv and made his way off the bed toward the bathroom only to find Will curled up on the floor shaking. Will’s eyes were a half laden unfocused clouded ocean blue, drowning and trapped in unseen terrors that only he could see. The younger man panted out in uneven gasps in the throes of what was clearly a panic attack of some sort.
Kneeling gingerly in front of Will, he seated himself on the cold tiled floor. Hannibal carefully pulled the slighter male close seating the younger fully onto his lap, “Will, can you hear me? Try to focus on my voice please.”
Working to keep his voice both calm and soothing Hannibal carded one large hand through Will’s sweat-soaked curls as the other rubbed soothing circles into the middle of the younger’s back. “Han…bal….can’t…b-b-brea…the…” Will whimpered out breathily his pupils blown wide in fear as he swallowed sharply.
Hannibal slowly turned the distressed man in his lap and gently pressed his broad chest flush to the dark brunette’s, “Will, I need you to listen to my breathing. Feel the breath I take into my lungs, and then out. Do you think you can you do that Will?”
Will then shook his head back and forth helplessly, causing his dark brown curls to fall over his eyes, “C-ca… n’t hurts… c-can’t… focus... Han... bal...”
The older man speaks reassuringly to him not losing patience at all, “You can, I know it must hurt but you are going to be fine, I promise you. I am here, and I would never let anything take you too far away from my sight. I know it must be hard to trust me in that regard after everything, but try to match and mimic my breathing. Clear your mind slowly and only listen to the vibrations of the breath within my chest. Do you feel it, Will?”
Will’s chest stuttered weakly in protesting uneven hiccuping gasps before the muscles in his in his back and shoulders steadily un-tensed; His brain trying desperately to focus solely on Hannibal’s voice and breathing.
After a few minutes of silent sobbing and rocking his body back and forth against the chest of the older man who’s arms were still securely wrapped around him Will finally calms down enough to let his face fall forward into the crook of Hannibal’s neck.
“Fuck…haven’t had one…of those…in ages.” Will murmurs out his lips grazing the heated skin of Hannibal’s shoulder.
Repressing a shiver at the feel of Will’s lips against his skin, Hannibal allows himself a small genuine smile and lets out a soft chuckle in response, “I am rather surprised that you did not have one before now. It merely proves the sheer strength of your willpower and it clearly goes to show how far you have come mentally and emotionally. One should be proud of such accomplishments.”
Will let out a strained snort of laughter, his words coming out sounding somewhat slurred because of the straining stitches in his cheek, “Let’s face is Hannibal, I’ll always be a bit unstable to everyone’s eyes. Even when wrapped in a cocooned sense of false hope of the security and illusion of normalcy that I had crafted and created for myself, I will forever be just a shattered teacup in the end. Chipped and frayed around the edges and rim, held together with a bit more crazy glue than broken pieces and parts with little to no real foundation left.”
Hannibal was silent for a few moments taking in Will’s words, absorbing them desperately like a man parched of thirst that had only just now had come in contact with water again.
He quietly thumbed away the few stray tears that had since leaked down from the edges of Will’s eyes, “So you readily admit to creating such illusions in life; a loving caring and dutiful wife, having the safety net of a non-biological child in which you have no need to fear the possibility of passing on your darkest, innermost qualities to, and the calming, but quaint guise of a stable home hidden away from the most prying eyes?”
Will stiffens marginally in his arms; ocean blue eyes locking into Hannibal’s own dark maroon defiantly before he worries his lip with his teeth and sighs in a defeated manner.
Wetting his lips nervously with his tongue Will lowers his head averting his eyes, “No matter how many shortcuts or detours I try and make in my journey away from you, my path always seems to lead me right back here where I began.”
“Is that truly such a bad thing Will? You always have fought against your true nature, your fate and destiny as some would label it; perhaps now after all of the years of fighting it by making excuses it is time to fully accept yourself in every aspect of the word.” Hannibal brought his fingers to catch the corner of Will’s chin tipping his face upward so that their eyes met again in a duel heated gaze.
“Normal is healthy for me Hannibal. Normal means stable, which is generally more accepted by the population than crazy tends to be. Besides, literally, no one looks for a broken unstable man to befriend or date. And seriously Hannibal, what makes you think that because you suddenly decide to weasel your way right back into my life with your arms spread practically wide open that I would just simply fall back into your manipulative clawed grasp again so willingly?” Will glares up at him his voice clipped and challenging.
Smirking ever so slightly Hannibal’s gaze sharpens predatorily, darkening it becomes smoldering at Will’s defiance, “What makes you believe that you ever left my arms, to begin with, my dear William? You said it yourself that we are conjoined, that we are beginning to blur beyond the confines of what can ever be considered singularity. I would have hoped that you would be more open and honest with yourself if not to me; even after so long of us being apart, but I can see quite clearly now that you are still very much in denial.”
Grimacing Will’s lips twitched into a snarl his eyes turning stormy as he breathes noisily out his nostrils, “Well as astonishing as it might seem to you, not everything in my life revolves around you Doctor Lector.”
“So you so fervently claim, I suppose only time will tell in the end,” Hannibal responds eerily calm before removing his arms from around the younger as he sets Will onto the cool tiled floor. Standing with as much grace as his healing injuries will allow Hannibal stares down at Will for a long moment of silence, his face is completely emotionless and almost closed off to the younger’s empathy, “If you can stand on your own, I need to hook you back up the iv line that you so needlessly and quite unintelligently tore out.”
Will frowns at the older man’s calm yet clipped tone, and at the underlying anger that he felt and heard buried within it. The younger man chewed at his bottom lip again to keep himself from responding back in kind hastily in returned anger. He chose to remain silent while he used the wall to clumsily stand and stabilize himself, his leg muscles spasm from disuse wobbling like jello but he managed to stay upright.
Turning his back to Will after making sure that he would not fall over, Hannibal leaves him behind in the bathroom.
Taking one unsteady step at a time Will follows him back into the guest room. Just making the short trip from the bathroom to the bedroom nearly zapped all of the energy from his limbs and made him feel overly dizzy and lightheaded.
“Sit.” Hannibal prompts curtly his hand motioning toward the bed.
Will obeys without complaint but only because he knows that he might fall on his ass if he tries to keep standing; even though it would probably make him infinitely happier to just defy Hannibal outright he chooses against doing so.
Skillfully the older man attaches the IV line to the slowly bruising flesh of the top of Will’s left hand, “We shall soon have to reopen the stitches to your cheek wound and clean it out. How does it feel pain wise? I did not think to check if he had clipped your tongue or not, but seeing as you can still speak with little to no problem you are most likely fine in that regard.”
“My tongue feels fine, but the rest feels stretched and pinched like I have a gaping puckered hole in my face that’s trying to break open every time I talk. Which isn’t far from the truth I guess..? The pain is okay for the most part right now, but I assume it’ll be hard to eat much of anything without screaming for some time huh?” Will muses out sullenly keeping his eyes downcast.
“You’ve been on a strict Iv intake for the past week and a half, along with the small consumption of chicken and vegetable broths that we could manage to get into you during your more lucid moments. Now that you seem to be staying awake longer, I recommend only mashed foods until your wound heals enough to not be aggravated. And If I were you I would try not to speak as much as possible until your wound heals a bit more.” Hannibal replies in a detached clinical tone.
“Are you angry at me or something?” Will asks in confusion his eyebrows furrowing together in question.
Eying Will briefly his eyes unreadable Hannibal says nothing before turning toward the door dismissively.
“Wait…Hannibal…I…” Will trails off not sure how to word his next words without making himself look like a complete idiot.
“I will make you something for lunch and dinner; in the meantime, I would like it if you were to allow yourself some rest. Your body is still in the early stages of healing, and your fever is still present.” With that Hannibal exits the room without another word. --------------------------------------
Upon exiting the room Hannibal walks calmly toward the kitchen navigating the halls seemingly on autopilot lost to the barrage of his own unsavory thoughts.
“Not how you expected it to go is it?” Chiyoh’s voice sounds off from behind him just as he enters the kitchen.
Not even sparing a glance back at her he pulls out several ingredients from the well-stocked fridge, “I cannot say that I know exactly what you mean.”
Letting out a soft snort of annoyance Chiyoh stalks forward into the room, “Will Graham, can he be trusted, Hannibal? What do you intend to do about him if or when he recovers?”
Taking out a cutting board and one of the knives off of the knife rack Hannibal is quiet for a moment as he examines the knife in his hand watching his face reflected back at him in the gleaming smooth surface of it, “What I do, has always been entirely up to Will’s actions. All I have ever wanted for him has finally come to fruition; it is up to him on what he does with his current self. Whether or not he accepts what has finally emerged from the chrysalis of his becoming is Will’s decision alone.”
Lifting an eyebrow in dubious question Chiyoh’s lips quirk a bit in a condescending sort of way, “Really Hannibal, I would think that you would have liked to hold all of the cards in the end. This is quite unlike yourself.”
After cleaning off the vegetables he begins peeling and cutting them silently before replying, “Will Graham has the surprising knack and unsettling talent of throwing off all sense of my known self; even from the very beginning I could never have guessed or even fathomed the true nature of the twists and turns of the harrowing journey of our tale and how it would ultimately end.”
“And is it the ending that you had hoped and strived for?” She murmurs out curiously as she takes a seat on one of the chairs situated next to the kitchen island table.
Hannibal’s lips twitch some as if unsure whether to frown or smile but gets stuck somewhere halfway in between the two expressions creating a melancholy somber sort of smile that gives the Japanese woman pause, “We are not yet on the last page of our story, so I cannot fully give you the answer in which you seek Chiyoh. Although I can say this, I do not regret having met him.”
Frowning, Chiyoh’s dark brown eyes narrow slightly, “Can you fully regret anything I wonder? What is it that is so special about this man that he makes you so wholly human for the first time since the passing of Mischa?”
The knife in his hand pauses mid-slice, his posture stiffens almost painfully so before he forces himself to relax and continues chopping the vegetables.
Receiving no answer from Hannibal she sighs some, “You don’t know, do you? You don’t see how much he’s changed you, do you? It’s almost maddening to watch it all play out; I would believe it all to be a dream if I did not know for certain that I was in fact very much awake.”
“Is it such an improbability or impossibility for me to care for something or someone other than my sister in your eyes?” He responds his voice calm but soft, betraying no true emotion to her ears.
Chiyoh eyes the back of his head her gaze boring into him momentarily as she speaks, “If I had not seen it firsthand how much you loved your sister, I would have believed you incapable of feeling anything at all Hannibal.”
He makes a soft hum of acknowledgment in the back of his throat as he moves on to shredding and cutting the cooked chicken that Chiyoh had boiled the day before; he then cuts it into small bite sized pieces after discarding the bones and cartilage.
“When I met Will Graham I had many thoughts about him. He seemed rather broken and deeply lost in search of something he did not quite realize was so very precious and dear; I could not have guessed that the something in which he had been in search of would turn out to be you. That man is many things jumbled together rolled up into a tangled mass. Most of them are good qualities at first glance, but he seems to hold a deeply rooted darkness that upon seeing it up close reminded me jarringly of only one person.”
Smirking slightly Hannibal washes and wipes his hands off on a dish towel, “Oh?”
Glaring some Chiyoh sighs again, “Do not pretend to act surprised Hannibal. You have seen yourself in Will Graham have you not? Is that not exactly why you feel so unnaturally drawn to him?”
“Calling it an unnatural pull of sorts is perhaps insulting the beauty of the bond that Will and I seem to share in all of its entirety,” Hannibal remarks his dark maroon eyes flashing slightly as their gazes meet.
“But do you readily admit that there is something odd there between the both of you that you have never felt before with anyone else correct?” She persists before leaning forward in her seat her eyes calculating and defiant.
“There has never been anyone to captivate and capture my attention so acutely before now, and I very much doubt I will find anyone else to do so ever again after him.” He appeases softly before returning to cooking the meat and vegetables laid out on the countertop.
“And you would be satisfied even if he left you here alone, to never be seen again? If he chose to go back to live his old life, to the life without you in it?” Chiyoh casually inquires her dark brown eyes watching him like a hawk would its prey.
If Hannibal was shaken at all by the questions he did not show it outwardly he merely looks over his shoulder at her the same reminiscent almost sad smile tugging at his lips from previously, “What Will does is solely up to himself. I think he would more than wholeheartedly agree that I have already taken away too many decisions from him thus far. As for your question from earlier about him having changed me? I would dare to hope that perhaps we have both irrevocably changed each other in the end.”
“That was what you wanted from the start right? To mold and change him into a better sort of self? The one you saw the potential for him to become? Though I doubt you could have imagined that he would turn around and change your shape as well.” Chiyoh states softly before standing, “Oh and Hannibal if he does try something, know that I will take care of him. After all your aunt left me in charge of your safety, whether you wish for me to do so or not, your well-being will always come first and foremost.“
With that, she walks out of the room leaving Hannibal to grip the counter top's edge in a white-knuckled grip as he stares unseeingly out the window ahead of him. ------------------------------------
The sound of someone slowly and softly closing the door to his bedroom is what draws Will out of his slumber first. Second is the smell of something strange yet delicious smelling wafting up over from the table next to him.
Opening his eyes Will flicks his gaze to the bedside table where a covered bowl and a glass of water rests awaiting him. No note, just food.
It seemed almost un-Hannibal like to be so blunt but the message was clear as a bell.
The very obvious “eat” was not needed to be said aloud or written down.
Sighing he sat up gingerly trying not to tangle himself in his iv wire, inching over to Hannibal’s side of the bed he uncovers the still steaming dish to reveal some sort of light, Asian, rice-based like porridge.
Frowning Will places the lid back over the bowl. He felt unexpectedly defiant at the moment, and if Hannibal wanted or expected him to eat anytime soon then the cannibal would just have to stop ignoring him like a child.
Eyeing his iv drip he rips away the tape keeping it in his hand and pulls it out completely before standing.
Will vaguely remembered Hannibal stating that they were somewhere in Canada, but other than that, he didn’t remember much more than the fall. How long have they been here? Where was here? Were they really safe? And did he want to stay?
His mind was whirling with run-on thoughts that just seemed to be bouncing around his skull, like ricocheting fireworks, with nowhere to go.
Unsteadily Will made his way out of his room and into the hall, he cringes some as his bare feet touch the cold hardwood floor as he searches around for any sign of Hannibal.
After what seemed like twenty minutes of wandering the halls of the extremely large house Will finally finds him.
Following the flickers of candlelight lit along the walls of the hallway he comes to a doorway to what could obviously only be a makeshift study of sorts for Hannibal.
The door is slightly ajar and as soon as Will gets closer he can hear the slight scratching of pencil sketching over a paper.
Pushing in the door with his one hand Will stands in the doorway for a moment more, going seemingly unnoticed at first before Hannibal’s head snaps up his eyes alert and aware before they soften somewhat around the edges.
“Will, you should not be up on your own.” Hannibal chastises as he places his sketchbook and pencil down on the desk beside him.
Holding onto the doorway for leverage Will snorts some, “Well you’ve been acting like a spoiled child whose favorite toy has been taken away from them, what did you expect me to do? Sit in my room and eat my dinner like a good little boy? You and I both know I don’t like rules, or listening to people Hannibal; and if this is some sort of ploy to make me trust you. You’re clearly going about it all wrong.”
Standing Hannibal merely watches him carefully before walking forward so quickly that Will almost takes a stumbling step backward, but at the last minute he stands his ground.
Swallowing thickly Will frowns, “Speaking of injuries, should you even be up? I mean for fuck's sake Hannibal you were shot.”
The older man’s dark maroon gaze takes on a glint of amusement as he stops right in front of Will, “I am by no means disillusioned to the fact that you currently do not trust me, nor am I in any way plotting or scheming to make you do so against your will. The puppet strings Jack Crawford gave you have long seen been cut. Your actions when concerning myself are your own, as they always have been. As for my wounds, I have always been a fast healer. Luckily the bullet went clean through without nicking any vital organs in the process.”
Will’s lips twitch into a grimace his ocean blue eyes becoming icy, “You are damn right I don’t trust you, Hannibal. I’m not sure I ever will again, to be honest. Too much bad blood has been split between us, both metaphorical and real. Sometimes, I wish we could go back to a simpler time. A time when I believed you were the only person who truly understood me and accepted me for me being me. I never had to jump through elaborate hoops to impress you or pretend to be normal around you, I miss that.”
Hannibal’s gaze turns smoldering again at the last admission from Will, “Is it so hard to believe that I ever stopped understanding you?”
Will closes his eyes sighing softly as if saying or thinking these things were physically painful and straining for him. Opening his eyes again he looks the older man straight in the eyes, “You warped and mutated any bond of understanding that we had Hannibal. Every good part of our past has become infected by the bad; I can’t even remember a time where we weren’t trying to kill each other in some way shape or form. I mean I know for a fact in the beginning at least I wasn’t, but to you, it was all just a game to pass the time.”
Stumbling past the older man Will sat in the armchair Hannibal had previously been seated in and rubbed his hands over his face tiredly, “I wonder if you ever really cared about me at all? Or was it all some intricately planned out manipulation to see how long it would take before I broke completely. Did I sate your thirst and boredom? Was it worth it in the end? I have so many questions and none of the answers to any of them. I’m so confused as to why I’m even still sitting here. Why am I still alive Hannibal? Why haven’t you killed me yet?”
Hannibal seems to be stunned into an uncharacteristic bout of silence momentarily before he turns away from the door spinning on his heel to stride over to the other armchair in the room.
Sitting down still very silent Hannibal leans back against the chair his eyes never leaving Will’s form before he finally manages to speak, “After our first meeting I cannot say I understood the sheer volume of what our companionship would entail. I was intrigued; my interest was piqued for the first time in over twenty years. You were and still are very much an ever constantly contradicting enigma Will. Someone I could see bits and pieces of darkness in, very much like dapples of sunlight filtering in through the stagnant waters of the world around us. You could be best described as a diamond in the rough, a stone or gem in need of molding or polishing.”
“Is that what you decided to do? Polish me Doctor Lector? You saw the rawness of my deepest darkest desires and thoughts that I denied; you saw fit to bring them forth from me like oil from a bubbling geyser?”
“In so many words yes, I saw myself in you in more ways than one. You had and still have so much potential to be so much more than you are currently.” Hannibal states with a well-measured amount of pride coating his words.
“What right did you have to change me? To try and make me into such a malleable beast; one which only you could control and hold the end of the leash to?” Will breathes out shakily through his nose noisily as he rubs at his bloodshot eyes.
“Are we humans or some manner of a beast? I have only ever changed you, as much as you have inevitably changed me.” Hannibal replies calmly as he leans forward on the edge of his seat watching him carefully in case the younger passed out suddenly.
Bringing his hands slowly away from his face Will looks at Hannibal closely for the first time in ages; he really looks at the man he once called a friend, “You finally admit I’ve changed you then?”
“I think it would be futile and foolish on my part otherwise to pretend that you haven’t. After the years of knowing you, although it pains me and dents a bit of my ego and pride in doing so to admit. You have indeed altered what I’ve always known about myself. I doubt even if we did manage separation that I would be able to revert back to a time without having known you.” He says softly his dark maroon eyes flickering in the dimness of the room like twin flames.
“That’s just it isn’t it? We are now so interwoven together, that we can’t even figure where one begins and the other ends. Is that why you haven’t killed me? I mean I basically tried to kill both of us by falling off the cliff.” Will muses aloud.
Chuckling softly Hannibal folds his hands over his lap neatly looking more than a bit amused, “I cannot say I have not entertained the idea briefly of killing you. But in my defense, I discarded the thought quite quickly.”
“Oh gee that’s reassuring,” Will states rather dryly.
“I should think you being alive would benefit us both much more in the long run than you being dead,” Hannibal smirks.
“Well that’s good I guess? Can’t say I’m in much of any shape to put up a proper fight against you right now anyway.” Will snorts as he uses his good hand to card his fingers through his hair careful as not to jar the stab wound on his shoulder.
Before they can continue talking Will’s stomach takes that moment to let out a loud growl of hunger.
“Did you not eat your dinner?” Asks Hannibal as he lifts an eyebrow.
Shifting some in his chair Will has the decency to look a little embarrassed, “I wasn’t hungry when I woke up, besides you were being a sneaky asshole. You’ve been avoiding me ever since this morning.”
“You simply cannot just decide not to eat whenever I am not around Will; you are recovering and need to build up your strength.” Hannibal chides as he stands up and holds out his hand for Will to take.
Looking up at the older man Will eyes the outstretched hand as if it would burn him if he grasped hold of it. He hesitantly places his hand into Hannibal’s, “I know that, but I couldn’t shake that you were mad at me for something.”
“I was not angry with you; disappointed perhaps is a better choice of wording,” Hannibal says as he guides Will back down the halls toward his bedroom making sure to go slow so the younger did not stumble or fall.
“Disappointed? I suppose you aren’t going to elaborate as to why?” Will inquires softly as he sits back on the bed in the guest room.
“You are a smart and cunning boy, I’m sure you can figure that all out on your own.” Hannibal calmly states with a bit of a half smile touching his lips as he places the tray of untouched food onto Will’s lap, “Now please try to at least eat half, then in a few hours we will redo the stitches in your cheek.”
Shaking his head in defeat Will sighs and uncovers the bowl again, the food is still moderately warm, “Did you even eat yet yourself?”
Smiling some Hannibal sits next to him on the bed, “Careful Will, you might give me the impression that you actually care or worry about my health.”
Snorting Will eats slowly wincing and cringing every so often as he chews from the pain of his wound.
“Slow small bites.” The older man orders softly.
“I’m trying, it just feels like my face is going to rip open.” Will snarks back at him grumpily.
A knock comes to the door and it opens to reveal Chiyoh.
Will looks up at her curiously, “I should have figured that you would be here.”
“It is nice to see that you are finally lucid enough to eat your own food without me having to make sure that you do not drown in it,” Chiyoh states coldly at him.
“Now, now do try to behave. Neither one of you is a child” Hannibal reminds them while giving Chiyoh a warning glance.
“Hannibal, might I speak to you privately?” She asks all the while eyeing Will with outward disdain.
Standing he looks back to Will, “Remember, eat at least half of it.” He then walks into the hall closing the door behind him. Looking at her he frowns, “What seems to be the matter?”
“I could be wrong, but I was out restocking supplies in town when I overheard a few people talking about American police coming around asking locals questions. I did not stay for too long to hear anything else, but I suggest perhaps that we should leave as soon as possible.” Chiyoh says as she shifts from one foot to the other her eyes serious.
“I’m not sure it would be wise to move him right now, are you sure that you heard correctly?” Hannibal frowns.
“I would not be telling you otherwise, I also have a sinking feeling of dread, my feelings are usually valid.”
“Gather our supplies and ready the car, we will leave in under an hour.” Hannibal orders before he turns re-entering Will’s bedroom.
Blinking Will looks up, “Am I allowed to hear what you guys were whispering about? Or am I not in the club yet? Do I have to do some sort of initiation ritual to be in the loop or something?”
“Change of plans, it would seem that we need to leave,” Hannibal states hurriedly as he gathers the pain medication and antibiotic Iv's into a duffel bag. He opens one of the dresser drawers pulling out socks and shoes placing them down next to Will on the bed.
“Shit, did something happen?” Will says as he furs his eyebrows, he puts the half eaten food on the tray aside and pulls on the socks and shoes he was given as quickly as possible.
Hannibal is now holding out a winter coat for him to wear, “We will discuss everything when we are on the road and far from here.”
Taking the coat from him Will tries to shrug it on stiffly to get his injured shoulder into the sleeve hole until he begrudgingly lets Hannibal assist him in doing so.
After also changing into the necessary clothing and shoes himself Hannibal shoulders the duffel bag and helps lead Will out of the room.
Will’s energy levels seemed to start to flag alarmingly as they walk, making Hannibal wrap a steadying arm around the younger’s waist to balance and ground him.
Chiyoh is waiting in the front hall, “Everything is ready and packed.”
Once they are all situated into a small ford minivan with Chiyoh behind the wheel; Will finds himself fading in an out.
He barely registers Hannibal hooking him up to another iv, and getting cocooned in a warm blanket with a small travel pillow being placed under his head before he’s overtaken by the exhaustion.
“Do you think he will be alright with traveling?” Chiyoh questions as she pulls out of the driveway.
Hannibal is briefly silent as he looks into the backseat where Will is now fast asleep, “He is stable currently, I just have to keep an eye on his temperature and make sure it does not grow too high. Otherwise, I think he will be alright in the meantime.”
“I’ve never seen you act so human with emotions before. I know I have commented earlier about it but it is still very strange to witness.” Chiyoh murmurs.
“Love by usual definition is sometimes scary and all-consuming. To deeply care about something or someone to the point that it infects and affects every aspect and thought of your life is indeed quite terrifying, but it can also be extremely beautiful. It is like an incurable disease, one that leaves you both in pain and pleasure.” Hannibal remarks his voice sounding oddly calm given the situation.
“I am not so certain that I would call love to be what you share with him, but love sounds a bit grandeur does it not?” She questions sounding unsure of herself.
They ease into an uncomfortable silence as the street lights around them begin to turn on one by one while the sun sets.
“I see that you went back to him in the end; I knew that you always wanted to, but you’ve always been a tad too stubborn to do so. I’m glad that at least one of us got to, though it would have been nice to all go together. I guess some things aren’t meant to happen though, not in the way that we intend or wish for them to at least.” A soft female voice echoes through the film grained like fog around him.
The sound of water dripping as it rushes forward to overlap his senses almost startles him upright. It encroaches in on him in an ever imposing glittering all consuming darkness that threatens to sweep him into the vast unknown depths of it.
He had always wondered what would happen if he just let go. Would he simply fall forever, floating in the inky blackness of it all? Or would it be much like the dark velvety promising welcome of death, swift yet peaceful like a siren’s hypnotic song.
It would be so very easy to just let his head dunk beneath the waters that wished to swallow him whole.
A tender caress to his hair jars him from his thoughts, a blurred silhouette of a young woman with medium dark brown hair to her shoulders peers down at him with her startlingly clear blue eyes. Her hair falls down to veil and obscure half of her face as she bends closer to look him in the eye.
Their shared gazes of varied shades of blue clash like electricity as his breath catches and lodges in his throat thickly making him let out a pained gasp, “Ab-Abigail..?”
Abigail smiles a small melancholic half smile as she thumbs away a beaded drop of sweat from his temple, “You’ve finally let yourself have something you’ve always wanted, but are you going to run away from it? You both tend to run in circles around each other I’ll admit, but you Will are always the one who forces his hand. Though for some reason I don’t think he’ll chase after you this time if you chose to leave; I wonder why that is?”
He lets his eyes fall at half mast letting her voice and words wash over him like the first inkling warmth of spring, “Are…you…trying to…imply something about…Hannibal and I?”
She lets out a soft breathy sort of laugh that makes his stomach clench at the sound of it’s delicateness, “Nothing you don’t already know yourself I’m afraid, but then again I’m not really here am I?”
Tears leak out the corners of his eyes and her fingers dart out gently to collect them.
Letting out a shaky exhale he opens his eyes wider trying to take in every detail of her face and etch it in memory forever, to encase the moment in amber. Hesitantly he reaches up and cups the side of her face carefully as if she might shatter like glass.
Abigail’s hand comes up to overlap his with her own and she smiles down at him, her eyes looking slightly wet and shiny, “Hey, can you promise me something Will?”
Wetting his lips some his eyebrows knit together slightly in confused desperation, “W-What do you want me to promise Abigail?”
She smiles sadly before speaking, “Stop running. You know deep down what it is that you want but you’ve never really felt like you deserved any of it. People have always taken what they wanted from you and never gave anything back in return; you’ve been used and manipulated time and time again by people masquerading as friends or family. Even when you finally realized and found what makes you truly happy. Even after being shown what fully makes you, Will Graham. You didn’t really know what to do with it all because it was overwhelming and scary, so you ended up running from it. But don’t run from this Will, you will doom more than yourself if you do that.”
“Running?” He lets out a sharp bitter laugh that feels like it just might strangle him with the true weight of it, “Running is all I know how to do Abigail. Is it not pure instinct to run from what tries kills you? I knew from a very young age that survival of the fittest although quite cruel in the vulgarity of it all, is necessity.”
“And you keep surviving even now, but are you really living? Or just existing? I’d like to think there’s a distinct difference between the two.” Abigail murmurs out softly not at all fazed by his biting words.
“For a time I thought I was living…perhaps I was just passing the time by pretending?” He wonders aloud his voice tinged with a confused regret.
“What were you passing the time in wait for?” She inquires with a slight tilt of her head making the curtain of dark brown hair fall out of her face to reveal the livid reddish purple scarring on her throat.
Eyeing the wound on her neck with bated breath, Will instead of answering closes his eyes.
“It’s okay. I think that he pretended a lot of the time too, though in others ways and for reasons mind you. You both ran from the truth for a very long time, you danced around it until it grew too big to ignore. I think he handled it a bit better than you did though.” She smiles a bit, “He’s always been flamboyantly flashy when he feels something strongly enough for it to affect his actions, but then again you know all of that already don’t you?”
Sighing softly he listens as the sound of rushing water grows louder in volume, “Are you insinuating that Hannibal…actually has feelings other than hate for me?”
“You’ve already asked someone that question before me, did you not like the answer that they gave you so much that you had to ask someone else to see if they would give you a different one?” Abigail remarks curiously, open amusement showing on her face.
Daring to open his eyes once more Will gazes up at Abigail silently for a moment before he speaks, “Even if he did actually care for me in a way other than the purely negative, it’s long since been too late for such niceties to develop again between the both of us.”
“Is it really? Why is it that you get to be the only one to decide that? Loving someone is that person’s personal conscious decision. The person they love can either accept the feeling or not, but they cannot simply decide to erase it out of existence. No one has the right to say what another person can do or feel, not even you.” Abigail states evenly in a sort of reprimanding way.
“So am I just supposed to ignore all of the hurts? Simply forget all of the betrayal and sorrow that was felt?” He questions accusingly at her his breathing coming out in uneven painful hiccups of breath.
“There’s a saying for that I think, “Forgive, but never forget”. No one is telling you to ignore any of the past, but perhaps you need to accept it to be the truth and finally move on toward the better. The only one keeping you here is yourself.”
“B-But..he…he killed you…Abigail.” Will gasps out as tears silently burn their salty trek down his face.
“Didn’t you already tell him that you forgave him? Or was that also a lie?” Abigail murmurs her words cutting him like knives.
“I…I…..” Will stumbles over how to word things properly but they all seem to get stuck in his mouth before he can voice them.
“Like I said, the only one keeping you from happiness is yourself. Maybe, just maybe you are enjoying this misery a bit too much. Self pity is unbecoming of you Will, you’re certainly better than that.” She gently tucks one of his curls out of his face before leaning back away from him, “I think you know exactly what you want to do, the question is will you be brave enough to do it?”
Her voice seems to taper off and evaporate into wisps of smoke, as the current again sloshes around him in frigid biting coolness that makes him fade to black.
The lights of the highway around them dotted the sides of the road like will-o'-wisps guiding lost souls home.
About two hours after having left the safe house Hannibal had to have Chiyoh pull into one of the nearest rest stops. It had quickly become startlingly obvious that Will’s fever was back with a vengeance, and climbing with renewed vigor.
Parking away from prying eyes Chiyoh watched cautiously quiet as Hannibal injects more liquid pain killers and another dose of antibiotics into Will’s awaiting iv line.
Hannibal’s lips twitch downward as he presses his fingers to Will’s wrist gauging his heart rate, which was thready and uneven.
Taking out a bottle of water from the cooler Chiyoh had packed he pulls out a wash cloth from one of the bags and spills some of the cool water over it before wringing it out. Bringing the cloth to the burning soaked skin of Will’s forehead he wipes away the sweat collected there. Gently he lifts the unconscious brunette’s head up to clean the back of his neck as well as the sides of it.
“His fever is too high isn’t it? I can tell by the look on your face that he’s taken a turn for the worse Hannibal. It’s not too late you know. We could leave him outside of a hospital and leave, he doesn’t have to die here.” Chiyoh says from the side of him.
Hannibal stiffens ever so slightly at the suggestion his eyes turning steely as he looks back at her, “Under no circumstances are we leaving him behind anywhere. Until Will is conscious enough to make his own decisions on whether he wishes to stay or not, he will not be going anywhere.”
“Hannibal try to see reason, as he is it’s doubtful he will survive the night. If his fever gets too high he could begin to seize, then what will you do?” Chiyoh frowns as she tries to convince him.
Will lets out a distressed mumble of slurred speech and tries to sit up, he utters a name that Chiyoh has not heard before, “Who is Abigail?”
The younger man’s ocean blue eyes are cloudy and unseeing to the world around him.
“He seems to be caught in a hallucination.” Hannibal replies ignoring her previous question. Turning back toward Will he hushes him soothingly as he cups and caresses the side of the younger’s face.
“You are many things Hannibal, but I did not think stupid to be among them.” Chiyoh remarks before getting back into the driver’s seat.
Ignoring her completely Hannibal stays next to Will in the back seat for another ten more minutes until Will seems to quiet and calm down, his breathing uneven but no longer overly troubled or panicked. Whatever ghostly spectre that had been haunting him seemed to have vanished for the time being.
Smoothing out Will’s damp chestnut curls out of his face Hannibal gets out of the back seat to return to the front.
“I’m not sure he will make it if we try to drive straight through to the next safe house.” Chiyoh voices softly, “Perhaps we should stop at a motel for the time being?”
Mulling over their options silently Hannibal nods in agreement. They had no other real choice, it was either they stopped for the night and got Will’s fever down or kept going and hoped for the best.
Either way it was a risk, staying so close to the last safe house with the possibility of the FBI on their trail was a coin toss of possible outcomes, either they went unnoticed or someone would find them. But currently Hannibal did not have a safer route to keeping Will alive.
After an hour more of driving they arrived in Fort Nelson at the Bluebell inn. They got some much needed gas for the car first before Hannibal instructed Chiyoh to get a room as he checked on Will.
What few early birds that were awake at this hour watched them keenly with the sheer rudeness of most nosy people as they smoked their cigarettes next to the gas and go just outside of the motel inn.
Settling next to Will in the back seat Hannibal gingerly and mindful of his own wounds slowly pulled the younger man onto his lap until Will’s head fell limply to rest against the crook of his neck. Will breathes harshly in and out causing hot fanning breaths to tickle deliciously against the hollow of the older man’s throat.
He slowly brings his long fingers to card gently through Will’s tousled tresses, marveling absently at how perfectly the unconscious man on his lap fit so neatly in his arms.
Before his thoughts could travel elsewhere Chiyoh taps on the window before opening the door, “I’m not sure how you want to do this, it might draw attention."
Frowning ever so slightly Hannibal let out a breath of annoyance. She was right after all; they were trying to make as little of an impression on the people around them as possible.
“Will? I need you to wake up for a short while. Will?” Hannibal speaks softly to the other man as he gently shakes his shoulders.
At first all Hannibal gets in response is a pained whimper at being jostled, but then two feverish ocean blue eyes blinked lazily open.
“Are you with me now Will?” He asks tilting Will’s face up away from his neck so that they can look each other in the eyes.
“Mmm…Han..bal…..whe..re..?” Will mumbles out incoherently.
“At the moment we are at a motel on the way to our next stop, I need you to try and stand for me, can you do that for me Will?” Hannibal asks as he soothes a hand down the small of Will’s back.
“…Stand…? Yeah…I…I..can try…I don’t…I don’t feel so good…s’hot….” Will says softly his eyes squinting at Hannibal and Chiyoh as if trying to figure out if they were real or not.
Getting out of the car first, Hannibal pulls Will up by the armpits and turns him so that the younger can try and stand.
Placing down his feet unsteadily his legs quiver and shake causing Hannibal to loop and wrap a strong arm around Will’s waist to steady and keep him upright.
“That’s good, one step at a time Will.” Hannibal encourages him.
Chiyoh hovers off to the right of them eyeing the gas station workers who luckily seemed too busy bullshitting while they took their cigarette breaks to notice them at the moment.
It takes them a bit over five minutes to get into their room and situated properly. By the time they get there Will is a shivering shaking mess and dripping with sweat; what little energy he saved to walk had quickly left him.
“Chiyoh, I need you to go to the small store attached to the inn and see if it’s open yet, if it is then get some ice.” Hannibal orders without looking at her he guides Will toward the bathroom.
Without saying a word of argument Chiyoh leaves the room to do as she’s told.
Eyeballing the small cramped slightly dirty bathroom Hannibal’s nose wrinkles in obvious disgust as he steps inside of it. Ushering Will to sit down onto the down resting toilet seat cover he makes sure the younger won't topple over off of it before turning toward the bath tub.
Putting the stopper in place he begins filling the tub with cold water.
“S’nah a dream…is it? Yer’ here…m’nah dreamin’ you?” Will slurs out in an unsure uncharacteristically small sounding voice that makes Hannibal’s chest involuntarily tighten to hear the sound of.
Looking back at the brunette Hannibal allows a small smile to tug at his lips in reassurance, “I am afraid that you are not entirely lucid at this moment in time, but I do promise you that I am in fact real.”
Will rests his head on the wall behind the toilet his damp curls falling over his eyes slightly hiding his expression from view, “Good…I…I dun..wanna…be ‘lone…not..not anymore…”
Hannibal stands and walks over to Will before kneeling in front of him taking a hold of both of the younger’s slightly smaller hands within his own larger ones, “You are not alone Will, I would never leave you without good reasoning. And even then I would not have truly left you behind completely, after all we cannot fully escape one another even when apart now can we?”
The younger man’s eyes get glassy as tears bead at the edges of them wetting his lashes as he tries to keep them at bay as his words begin to slur and mash together, “Y-you…lie…every…e-everyon’ leaves e-eventually….you will too, ‘sides you a-already tried to once.”
Swallowing back the unidentifiable thick bout of emotion welling up in his throat Hannibal looks at a loss of what to say for a moment before he takes Will’s knuckles to his lips and kisses it tenderly. Pulling away he smirks at the slight shell-shocked expression now taking over Will’s face at his actions.
“W-what…why d-did you..?” He stammers out in confusion.
Before Hannibal can answer him Chiyoh walks in holding a bag of ice, she lifts an eyebrow at the odd positions they are in, “Am I interrupting something?”
Will looks adorably clueless too fever ridden to truly comprehend what had just happened properly enough.
Chuckling softly Hannibal stands taking the bag of ice from her, “Thank you Chiyoh that will be all, please bring in our things from the car.”
Nodding she looks at Will briefly before exiting.
Opening the bag of ice Hannibal pours it into the bathtub water.
Will’s head lulls to the side and he squints in renewed confusion up at Hannibal, “Han…bal..?”
Looking down at him, Hannibal regards him quietly for a moment before moving forward so quickly that Will sees double vision of the man for a split second.
Hannibal hovers closely to Will, the older man’s face displaying its usual polite well constructed mask that gives nothing away. Although his eyes told a different story altogether, they were conflicted and filled with an immeasurable amount of concern he couldn’t seem to hide or suppress.
He cups the side of brunette’s face gently; his hand is so cool and pleasant to the touch against Will’s fevered skin that it makes the younger keen softly and nuzzles into it blindly trying to alleviate some of the heat from his body.
Brushing his thumb over the jutting arch of Will’s cheek bone on the left side of his face Hannibal takes a moment of appreciation before he forces himself to pull away. He then starts tugging up the bottom of Will’s shirt exposing his lean flat stomach and the deep pinkish red upturned smile like scar etched into it, “Arms up Will.”
The younger sluggishly tries to comprehend the order and murmurs something out in a garbled mash of Hannibal’s name and a handful of syllables before he starts to pull off his sleep shirt getting stuck halfway inside of it as he tries to pull it free.
“Such a good boy you are for listening to orders, but please allow me just this once to take care of you Will.” Hannibal states gently as he helps pull free the shirt from over the younger man’s head.
Will lets out a low whine of protest but slowly realizes he’s far too tired to care or put up much of a fight at this point and allows Hannibal to help him.
Hannibal seems frozen solid and for a moment, after breaking free of his shock he hesitantly brings up shaky fingers to skirt over the sensitive knotted skin of the scar seated on Will's lower stomach.
“I had almost forgotten, no perhaps I had tried to erase this memory completely from my mind. Too painful a time to remember properly or give name to, a place soaked to the brim, with stagnant blackened blood and betrayal; It is not something I had wished to ever revisit.” Hannibal’s accented English takes on a rougher edge with the sheer amount of emotion that bleeds into his words.
Will pales slightly registering Hannibal’s words through the hazing veil of his fever, “I…dun’ wan’ tah t-talk ‘bout this Han…bal….pl-please…”
The older man’s fingers continue to run over the curves and jutting arches on the knotted flesh; it almost felt achingly familiar like a lover’s intimate touch.
“Does it hurt?” Hannibal finally asks as he breaks the silence.
Will lets out a stuttering sigh of breath letting his eyes flutter shut briefly before he stares up glassy eyed into the dark maroon pools of Hannibal’s eyes, “S-sometimes, n-not…so much…’nymore…”
Staying oddly silent Hannibal just watches Will for a stretch of time, “Pants next.”
Blinking owlishly at the order Will frowns, his tongue darts out of his mouth to wet his lips nervously.
Hannibal’s eyes eagerly follow the movement of the small pink muscle with something almost akin to hunger showing openly on his face. He leans forward his hot breath ghosting over Will’s face sending shivers down the younger’s spine.
His brain tries not to short circuit from both his high fever and the confusing situation at hand. Will then moves to stand wobbly as he shimmies out of his pajama bottoms leaving him in just modest gray boxer briefs.
Hannibal motions expectantly at his undergarments.
Will looks uneasy when his mind finally pieces together what Hannibal wishes for him to do next. Biting his lip some he pushes down his boxers and stumbles out of them falling head first against Hannibal’s firm broad chest. Strong arms instantly settle and encircle around his waist both steadying and embracing him possessively.
“Easy now Will, we don’t want you harming yourself even further.” Hannibal remarks as his eyes scan up and down Will’s naked form. His eyes linger far too long taking in Will’s pert rosy erect nipples; he also notes the lack of overall body hair save for a light dotting of a dark treasure trail at the bottom of the younger man’s stomach leading down to his genitals.
Will was indeed much thinner than he ever remembered the younger being before his three year imprisonment away from him. He would surely have to fix that once they were both healed up properly and out of harm’s way.
“Let us get you into the tub now Will.” Hannibal instructs him softly with a hint of something unidentifiable tingeing his voice as he leads the naked male toward the bath tub.
Will stumbles clumsily but Hannibal keeps him upright making sure that he doesn’t ever fall.
The younger man warily eyes the ice water and almost pleadingly looks back at Hannibal as if to try and convince him against the idea.
“Do not worry so much, it will be a quick bath. We need to get your fever down, soon you will be clothed and warm.” Hannibal says soothingly as he helps Will step forward to lower himself into the tub.
Will’s skin pales instantly and his head spins dizzily at the biting chill that sends electric shocks of awareness going up his spine painfully. He tries to voice his displeasure into words but he only manages to let out a heartbreaking soft whimper past the chattering clack of his teeth.
Hannibal eases Will back into a half seated half laid back position and starts wetting Will’s hair to begin washing it, “It’s just for a few minutes Will, I promise. Try and bear with it for the time being.”
The younger man leans heavily against the back of the tub as the fevered flush of his skin recedes a bit to show just how unhealthy and pale Will has become. Having never been very tan to begin with Will had always been on the pale side but without the fevered flush overtaking his cheeks it showed just how drastic of a change had taken place.
After quickly washing the sweat out of Will’s curls he watches the younger begin to convulse into increasingly large shivers. Will’s teeth click and chatter together as he tries to suppress the cold that he’s feeling.
“S’cold….too…cold…Hannibal…please…” Will whimpers out pleadingly.
Pressing the palm of his hand to Will’s forehead he takes notice that Will’s temperature has fallen slightly to a more manageable range, not so dangerously high anymore.
“Alright, I think that’s quite enough of this don’t you?” Hannibal questions smiling some to Will who only stares blankly at him in an annoyed fashion.
A knock comes to the door and Chiyoh pops her head inside, “I took out a change of clothes for him, I’ll leave them here on the sink.” After setting them down she leaves closing the bathroom door behind her to give them privacy.
“Do you think you can stand? Or do you need help?” Hannibal inquires as he reads Will’s expression expertly. Chuckling softly he takes the silence and slight glare as a sign and permission to give aid.
First helping Will sit up better he loops his one arm around the back of Will, “I cannot lift you fully unfortunately due to my own healing wounds, so please meet me half way on this. On the count of three alright? One, two, and three.” Hannibal lifts Will out of the water as the brunette weakly pushes all of his strength into standing.
His legs nearly buckle out from under him but Hannibal is quicker and steadies him as he guides him onto the bath mat.
Shivering badly Will smooths a hand into his messy dripping wet curls trying to get them out of his face. Hannibal takes one of the large towels Chiyoh had left behind next to the pile of clothing. Having not trusted any of the towels provided in such a dumpy establishment he is rather grateful for her quick thinking.
Wrapping the towel around Will’s shoulders he slowly dries the slighter man off, internally berating himself when his hands linger in certain places for too long.
Guiding Will to sit on the edge of the bath tub he then takes a smaller towel and uses it to sop up the excess water in Will’s hair.
Yawning some Will looks half awake at best, “M’tired…”
Hannibal shakes head slightly at the adorable sight that Will makes currently, “You can sleep in a few minutes, but first we must dress you.”
“Why? Din’ yah want….me…naked anyways?” Will slurs out sassily.
Lifting an eyebrow at him Hannibal smirks in kind and replies without missing a beat, “Perhaps we shall revisit this conversation another time in a different setting, and under much less stressing circumstances.”
Blinking at him Will’s eyes widen marginally when Hannibal’s words register in his sluggish brain.
Without waiting for Will’s response he begins to help him get dressed; much like a parent would to a small child, instructing him to hold up his arms and step into his pants at the right moments.
After making sure Will’s hair had properly dried enough not to give him a chill the older man herds him out of the bathroom and onto one of the two full sized beds in the main room.
Will sprawls sleepily over top of the scratchy blue comforter on the bed. He burrows his head against one of the stray pillows nearest to him and curls his body sideways into a fetal position, his legs curling inward protectively against his chest.
“I take it you got his fever to go down?” Chiyoh voices from where she is seated on the other bed in the room.
“Thankfully yes, it is much lower now.” Hannibal replies as he stiffly walks over to the other side of the bed that Will is on and pulls back the covers to sit down.
Lifting the blankets he pulls them gently out from under Will’s half asleep body and then tenderly tucks the smaller man in.
Will murmurs a soft “thank you” and promptly drifts away into a hopefully peaceful sleep.
“You should rest, you’ve been straining yourself too much today Hannibal, I’ll check your stitches in the morning.” Chiyoh states reprimandingly her voice booking for no argument.
Hannibal sighs letting out a noise of annoyance under his breath before he eases down gingerly against the pillows behind him. The burning stretching pull of his gunshot wound was almost verging on intolerable but he would never admit that to anyone out loud.
“I will keep watch, I don’t need as much sleep.” Chiyoh says quietly.
Turning on his uninjured side he seeks out Will’s warmth and presence; he takes one of Will’s hands and interlaces their fingers together. He quietly watches the currently peaceful soft rise and fall of the younger’s chest for a few minutes before he allows himself to fall away into a light sleep.