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Every step of the way

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Will's footsteps echoed in the gloomy abandoned slaughterhouse .Everything smelled of corroded metal and old blood. Some hooks hung from the ceiling. The light coming from his goggles allowed him to see a few meters ahead. Jack and the team were waiting outside. They had quickly check the scene. They had found nothing. Jack decided to wait for Will and  processed the scene later.

Will's breathing was normal and calm, but there was a tingling on the back of his neck that told him that things were not what they seemed. He went through an open door at the back of the gallery and saw shoe prints and drag marks that led to a wall.

He  got tensed. There was a delicate line on the wall. It looked like a door. Forensics and Jack's team hadn't gotten this far. Understandably since the door seemed to be camouflaged by the corrosion of the walls and grime accumulated by years of neglect.

Will pushed open the metal door with his shoulder, while holding up his regulation weapon. He entered through the small gap. He did not open the door fully. His breathing sped up. Will began to tremble a little when he saw the scene before his eyes.

There was a small shape of a kid hanging in chains by his arms. He was suspended in the air one meter above the ground. Thousands of rats filled the floor of the place. Some mounted on others trying to reach the little one. His naked body was covered in small cuts that dripped blood to the ground. 

Hannibal who was watching everything thanks to the cameras in Will's goggles spoke to him through the earpiece in a soft and calculated voice to calm him down.

- "Will..remember that I am with you .."

Will interrupted him whispering.

- "Yes .. I know .. Every step of the way .."

He could hear Hannibal smile a little. He then instructed him to shoot the rats to disperse them.Jack would come immediately because he was watching the live video and if not he would come  at the sound the gunshot.The murderer would probably have left by now as in  previous scenes. Will fired.

The little boy seemed unconscious. He  was startled at the sound .He began shaking a little and was whimpering. The rats dispersed immediately. Will ran to  free the little boy. He carried him in his arms and at that moment Jack arrived with the rest of the team. Several agents surrounded them and one of them released the little boy from the chains, while Will carried him.Another officer put a shock blanket over the boy's shoulders. Jack watched the whole scene with a bitter expression. 

Will whispered words of encouragement into the little boy's ear. The child was still crying. After a few hours the forensic team found no leads. Not even the signature of the red dragon. Will was in the ambulance with the child in his arms. His wounds had been examined and disinfected and then covered with bandages. Only his face was not covered in cuts.

He had fallen asleep in Will's arms and refused to be carried by someone else. Jack approached them. Soon they would be leaving in the direction of the hospital where the boy's grandparents were waiting.

- "Do you think he remembers something about the murderer? .. He did not leave anything this time .. would it be that this kid is his last victim in a while? .." 

- "It is possible  he covered his face, Jack .. We will not know until they question the child. I do not know If it's his last scene. Plus they haven't found the rest of Mr. Marlow's body yet. Hannibal thinks the killer expected us to be late, Jack. His game was to humiliate us. We both thought that maybe after a while he'll do it again and give us clues where Mr. Marlow body is or maybe he did and we haven't found them. "

Will was silent for a few seconds.

- "Analyze the dirt that was just below the child. The one that seems darker than the rest of the room. It may not be just blood..I don't know. It's just a hunch .."

- "Sir! .. Agent Crawford."

They both turned to see an agent approaching them. He came running and when he was a few steps away, he saw the boy sleeping and spoke in a low voice.

- "We found a piece of paper with a symbol on one of the rafters that held the hooks to the ceiling. And Dr. Katz believed the dirt in the scene is different in composition from the dirt surrounding the place, Sir."

Jack nodded and left Wil to accompany the agent.Will looked up at the abandoned building and then at the sky that was beginning to turn pink from the approaching night.


- "Thanks for dinner, but I have to go. Good evening, Hannibal. And Will..thanks for agreeing to work with us .."

Jack smiled finishing the last of his beer. Will also said goodbye.

- "I must go's getting late."

They said goodbye to Hannibal and went on their way with Reeba who was also leaving for the night .Hannibal stayed in bed for a few minutes, reading the files for more clues leading to the capture of the red dragon.

The doctor looked up to see  the door opening slightly. He frowned and prepared  mentally for the encounter. The suspect calmly walked to where Hannibal was after silently pushing the door shut behind him.

They both looked into each other's eyes. Hannibal said in a low, grave tone.

- "Francis".