Will stared at the scene before him, rage burning like coals under his skin. He knew Jack waited just to the right and behind him. Waited for him to delve into the mind of this sick bastard and come back out with some miracle insight that would help them catch the media named ‘Doll Maker’. Not a very original moniker as he was sure over the years there have been more than one serial killer coined the ‘Doll Maker’. Sadly, it was apt though.
The child couldn’t have been more than twelve. Small in stature. Thin boned with soft, lovely features. Her hair fell in gentle waves around her shoulders. A cascade of haloed blond, so fine it looked like silk. Her blue eyes, once he imagined were crystalline when she peered up at you, now filmed over with the whitish haze of death. Her skin had been carefully, meticulously painted with a white base. The paleness of it was highlighted all the more by the ruby shine of the lipstick applied with a calm measure to her lips.
She was posed in a blue dress, laced with white trim. The black dress shoes, Mary Jane style if Beverley was correct, shone a gleaming ebony against the grass. Sat atop a recreated tuffet from the Victorian era, another slash of deep black in a field of rich green, she looked like any well-to-do English noble having a restful day in the sun. The bowl glued to her hand was fine china, pearl white with tiny blue flowers imprinted along the lip. From the outside, she was beautiful. The picture perfect recreation of the fairytale. All the way down to the large and hairy spider that looked to be reaching to crawl into her lap, front feet raised and almost touching the dress, body lengthened out to look as creepy and disgusting as possible.
He didn’t want to look. He didn’t want this killer in his head. He knew, to try to stop another child from becoming yet another fairytale horror, he would have to look. He would have to open his walls, sink into the darkness, wrap his mind around the man responsible and drown in the pleasure of his sickness. For the first time ever, Will was truly afraid to use his gift.
It was always painful to do it. To let them in. Lasting impressions of each one stamped along his soul as he lost another part of himself to the abyss. Before, he did it eagerly, determined to be useful, to bring another monster to justice. He hated the nightmares. Hated the slim that clung to his mind days, weeks, months after. But he did it without hesitation, without fear, knowing he was the key to catching them before more people died. But this…
It was too much. The murder of children was always hardest on any law enforcement. For him, it would be the very definition of hell on Earth. He knew he would lose some important piece of himself if he looked. This stain wouldn’t slowly, over time, release him from it’s grip. It would settle in, borrow under his skin and never leave him in peace. It would join Garrett Jacob Hobbs in his dreams and his waking delusions.
Unless he finally stopped playing his side of the game and finally opened and let in the one monster that above all others would rule every space in his well hidden darkness. He felt his fear receding, falling back to be replaced by certainty that the one thing that would save him was the one thing he shouldn’t want but couldn’t help yearning for. The one creature in all their lives that he refused to catch, to capture, to see locked away.
Decision finally made, Will breathed out a slow exhale before closing his eyes and letting the pendulum swing. Let the monster crawl into his veins, take up space in his mind, try to devour his soul. He knew, in the end, possession of this kind would never be allowed once the truth was in the open. He would be saved even as he was damned. The killer’s smile crept slowly over his face as he opened his eyes and the scene started to rewind. Salvation through damnation wasn’t optimal… but it was available.
He walked silently beside Hannibal, tremors making his limbs clumsy and his breathing erratic. He could feel the glee along his veins. Feel the need for the picture to be perfect. His own personal fairytales, brought to life by his hands. He had made them real. He had made them perfect .
The child was just another tool, like clay to a sculpture. She was needed in order to show the world the beauty in fear. To show that ‘Once Upon a Time’ did not necessitate ‘Happily Ever After’. Too many delusional souls wandering the world, lost in their daydreams, head in the clouds, never seeing that underneath all the stories of good and light, there was darkness waiting to devour the heroine or hero. He had done that. He had made them see. Made them fear.
Will shook his head so hard he tripped, hands automatically reaching out to catch his fall when strong arms wrapped around him and pulled him into a firm and warm chest.
Hannibal’s voice was a balm. The killer in his mind shying away from the bigger predator. It reminded him of his earlier decision, the resolve to finally step fully onto the solid ground being offered through manipulation and a daring dose of affection. He turned, his eyes taking quick stock that they were alone before he forced his eyes up to meet that enigmatic maroon gaze.
“I want his head on a platter, Hannibal.”
The Doctor tilted his head to the side, his patent patience on clear display. Will swallowed his frustration at not being understood just yet.
“You will catch him, Will. You always do.”
Will shook his head, hands reaching to grip Hannibal’s biceps, nails digging in to further articulate his need.
“No, Hannibal. I don’t want to catch him. That means he gets to live out his days in a cell. I want his head on a platter. I want him to suffer. I want him to scream. And I want him to die painfully, methodically, brutally for what he has done to these children.”
The calm gaze turned curious. Hannibal’s breath stilling in his chest as he observed Will.
“What are you saying, Will?”
Will leaned forward until they were almost nose to nose, enough space so their gazes didn’t blur from the nearness. His words, when they came, were a whispered seduction he didn’t know until this very moment he was capable of.
“I want him hunted and captured by the Chesapeake Ripper and I want him to feel his unique brand of wrath.”
He felt the moment the implications settled over Hannibal. The slight stiffening of his body. The shift of his feet as if he was readying for a fight. His gaze shifted to that blank stare he could get in a moment’s notice as he looked into Will’s open eyes.
“Will… I don’t under…”
Will interrupted him, not caring how rude it was.
“Yes. Yes, you do. I know . I have known for months, Hannibal. You have been playing games, with my head, with my affections and emotions. You have been trying to mold me to some vision you see in me that you want to bring to the surface. Quid Pro Quo, Doctor. You want. I want. Give me the ‘Doll Maker’, tortured and brutalized and dead and I will give you what you want.”
The slight hitched inhale would have been missed if they were not standing so close. But Will didn’t miss it and he knew he had him.
“And what is it you seem to think I want, dear Will?”
Will felt his lips peel up, a parody of the killer's smile, trying to peek out. He saw the moment the interloper was registered in Hannibal’s eyes and deemed unwelcome. Slowly, like the wilting of a flower, Hannibal’s mask dropped until his burning gaze bore its way into Will’s, through his already crumbling walls to take hold in his mind. Will waited until the last of the killer’s persona fled in terror under the weight of that gaze before answering.
“You want to be seen. You want someone who will know, understand, accept the man and the monster. I see you, Hannibal. I understand you. I accept you.”
He stepped closer, their chests brushing, thighs lining up as he leaned to speak directly in the other man’s ear.
“I fucking want you, all of you. Show me I’m not just a play thing. Prove to me your need, your devotion, the depth and danger of your affection. Give me the Doll Maker and you will never be alone again.”
There was no outward change, no sign that he had heard or cared about anything Will had just said. But Will felt it. In the connection between his empathy and Hannibal’s gaze. Between the still air and the heartbeats in his ears. He felt the moment that Hannibal became inexplicitly and utterly his. He could feel the awe, the worship. Could feel the want and ever-tearing need. A yearning so thick it almost choked him in its potency.
He slid back, putting space between them once more. They stared at one another for several long moments, sharing space, sharing their minds, becoming one. Finally, Hannibal broke the comfortable silence, his words soft, measured.
“Do you wish to observe as your design is created or do you wish only to see the end result?”
Will’s lips tilted up into a devious smile. One he realized with no small amount of shock was his own for once.
“I want to see it all .”