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your name is the splinter inside me

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Will Graham spends a lot of time taking on the mindset of criminals. He has imagined, quite viscerally, many, many forms of murder. And yet, until tonight, he's never really given much thought to this part of the criminal experience.

It's cold in the holding cell, and Will's shivering in his boxer shorts and thin T-shirt. They'd given him a pair of hazard orange scrub pants, the standard prison uniform, but he's not touching those.

Will tenses, hearing the hollow echo of approaching footsteps. A burly guard approaches the door to his cell, taking his time to find the right key.

"You're free to go," he says gruffly. "Your shrink came for ya."

This comes as a surprise. Will had called Hannibal first, but he hadn't gotten an answer, so he'd called Jack instead. Jack must've gotten in touch with Hannibal and pawned off the task.

Feeling small and ridiculous in his bare feet and sleeping clothes, Will trudges after the guard, his eyes on the ground until his vision floods with the florescent light of the police station lobby.

Squinting, Will lifts his head, and immediately pulls up short. His insides contract inward, and he's overwhelmed with the instinctive urge to spin on his heel, run back to the jail cell and lock himself in.

Alana's standing on the other side of the police desk, looking pale and impatient. She's thrown a coat over a black tank top and red flannel pajama pants, her hair tamed into a hurried, messy braid, and her whole face relaxes when she sees him.

Will hasn't taken a step forward since he noticed her. He lowers his head, heat rushing to his cheeks, humiliation dovetailing with something like anger, and his voice comes out terse and accusatory as he blurts, "What are you doing here?"

"Jack called." He still isn't moving, so Alana approaches him, resting a hand on his forearm, her voice gentle as she tells him, "C'mon, let me take you home." Her eyes sweep his form quickly, and Alana peels off her coat and offers it to him.

For a moment, Will ignores her and the gesture; in the next instant, however, he becomes suddenly and acutely aware of his own state of undress, and he reluctantly accepts the coat, drapes it over his shoulders, and follows Alana out of the police station.

"Did you tell them you're my shrink?" Will mutters as soon as the cool night air hits them. He still can't shake that accusatory note from his tone.

Alana doesn't acknowledge it, though, answering calmly, "No, I told them I was a shrink. And that I work for the FBI, and so do you."

"I tried telling them that," Will says bitterly, self loathing coating every word. "Think it just added to the appearance of insanity. And obviously - " he waves a sardonic hand, indicating his outfit. "- I didn't exactly have credentials on me."

Alana glances at him out of the corner of her eye but doesn't say anything. They've reached her car, so they move apart and climb inside.

She waits until she's pulling out of the parking lot before asking hesitantly, "So...can I ask how you ended up sleeping in a public park at 2 in the morning?"

"Apparently so," Will mutters before he can stop himself. He twists a little further away from her, curling in on himself in the passenger seat, his gaze fixed out the window. Sighing, he answers, "I don't know what happened. I fell asleep in my house. The next thing I knew the cop was waking me up and I was in the park."

Alana cuts her eyes at him, alarm seeping into the edges of her voice, "You were over five miles from your house."

"Yeah. Well." He can't think of a follow up. He doesn't want to tell her that versions of this have been happening for months, that this isn't even the first time the police have been involved.

The truth is, he doesn't want her here. Doesn't want to be talking to her about this, or riding in her car, or wearing her coat. If he hadn't been able to reach Jack or anyone else on the phone, he'd planned to wait in the holding cell all night rather than try Alana.

Alana's silent for the rest of the ride, and Will gladly follows suit.

But when they get to his house, Alana parks, gets out of the car, and walks in with him without explanation. And Will doesn't stop her.

~(W*A)~

 

Alana hovers without really knowing why. It's painfully obvious Will doesn't want her there, and it's not as though there's anything she can do for him at this point.

He shrugs out of her coat when they're inside, wordlessly handing it over. The dogs swarm them within seconds, sniffing and nuzzling, and it's a good momentary distraction.

As Will eventually starts to move further into the living room, his canine brood at his heels, Alana shifts uncertainly, feeling the need to justify her continued presence. "Are you gonna be okay?"

"As long as I don't go back to sleep for the rest of the night," Will replies dispassionately.

She frowns. "You should really-"

"I'm fine," Will snaps. "And I doubt you want Jack calling you twice in one night to be my shuttle from jail."

Alana visibly grimaces at the comment, and Will regrets it immediately. He thinks of Jack's words to him last week: Fear makes you rude, Will. Apparently so does shame.

"Sorry," he murmurs, chagrined. He lifts his eyes, studying her from a distance, and gradually sharp, hot guilt begins to trickle through his embarrassment. Alana looks edgy and exhausted, and in spite of himself, Will can't help but appreciate that he has someone in his life who worries about him, someone willing to get out of bed in the middle of the night and come pick him up...even though he wished she didn't have to.

Tone conciliatory, Will ventures, "It's kind of a drive back to your place. If you want to grab a couple hours sleep here, you can." Alana studies him, her expression neutral, trying to gauge his sudden change of countenance. After a moment, he adds earnestly, "You can take the bed."

"I'm not gonna kick you out of your own room."

"You wouldn't be." Will jerks his head, indicating the stack of pillows and blankets on the couch. "I usually sleep down here, now. I...ended up on the roof once. Don't want to walk off without realizing it, or even just fall down the stairs..." He trails off as Alana's face softens, all traces of her own hurt and exhaustion immediately chased away by that not-quite-pitying mingling of sympathy and concern she often gets around him lately.

It turns his stomach. It shames him. And it fuels him, just as it did the night he kissed her.

Will crosses the space between them, movements slow and deliberate, all careful, precarious control. "Although...if you wanted to stay with me...I wouldn't have to worry." He brushes his hand across the top of hers, then lightly trails his knuckles up her arm. He takes his time, never breaking contact, as he moves from her shoulder to her collar bone, brushes her hair away from her neck, and eventually lets his thumb trace the base of her jaw.

Alana freezes the second he touches her, and stays stone still as his fingers glide across her skin. When he's close enough that she feels his breath on her face, Alana drags her eyes to meet his.

"Will." She means his name as a deterrent, but it comes out a small, shaky plea. "We ca-"

He covers her mouth with his, smothering her protests. She's kissing back immediately, sinking into it, her hand snaking around the nape of Will's neck. It's like a fan gets turned on in her brain, scattering all rational thoughts, and it takes some time before they settle.

Will bites her bottom lip lightly, once, then deepens the kiss. He fists a handful of fabric from the side of her tanktop and presses their bodies closer.

Like merciful, frustrating clockwork, Alana's brain clicks back on, and she curls her lips inward, tilting her head slightly away from him. "Will." His name, spoken in a breathy whisper, sounds like stop. Don't. Please.

"Stay." He punctuates the word with a brief kiss, urgent and demanding, a contrast to the needy desperation of his next word. "Please."

Alana kisses him back even as she formulates her reply. "I can't..."

He pulls away, forehead against hers, his hand releasing its grip on her tank top and sliding up under the fabric, fingers splaying across the bare skin of her hip. "Just for tonight. It doesn't have to mean...just stay tonight."

There's a feeble attempt at bravado and confidence in his voice, and Alana's sure Will has no idea how desperate he sounds, how fragile, like he'll dissolve into molecules if she lets go of him.

"Will-"

He kisses her again; the fan turns on, her protests flutter away. That's something else Will is unaware of: the hold he has over her. Alana's sure he'd be bewildered to know he has the power to hurt her, to break her, even. He'd be shocked to hear how close he's come already.

Once again she disengages their lips, moving so her temple is pressed against the side of his forehead. Will's undeterred; he traces his lips along the edge of her jaw, along the column of her throat.

"Will." Stop

His hand creeps higher up her waist.

"Will." Don't.

His tongue swirls around the hollow of her neck.

"Goddamn it, Will." Alana wrenches away, shoving Will slightly, and he stumbles back, wide eyed. She fixes him with a hard, blazing look, clenching her hands into fists to disguise how much she's shaking. "Don't do that."

Will blinks at her dazedly. He looks like someone just jerked the ground out from beneath him. "I-...sorry. But...you kissed back."

"And you wouldn't stop!" Alana retorts heatedly. "I'm not a fucking...therapy tool, Will. So don't use me as one, that isn't fair."

"What?" He's drowning in his own incomprehension. "I'm using you?" Suddenly his jaw tightens, eyes narrowing. "You rejected me. Twice now, actually." He lets out a short, harsh laugh. "But you come here, you kiss me back..."

"I told you I have feelings for you, Will," Alana grits out in as calm a voice as she can manage. To her utter humiliation, she can feel hot tears welling in her eyes, a lump clawing up the column of her throat, and her voice catches. "An admission, by the way, that you never returned-"

Will gapes at her. "You think I don't-"

"I want you, Will," Alana's voice, thick with threatening tears, falls like a cleaver between them. "But you...you just need me." The muscles in her face tighten into a childlike mask of hurt, and she amends, "You need someone. You start to feel out of control, and you grab onto whatever - or whoever - is closest. I could be anybody."

The indignant anger evaporates from Will's face, and for a moment he can only stare at Alana, utterly taken aback.

Alana exhales sharply, angry with herself. She swipes the heel of her hand under her eye as she bends down to pick up her coat, which somehow ended up on the floor between them. "I'm gonna go," she says in a low voice, brushing past him toward the door.

"Wait..." Will seems hesitant to touch her; instead, he reaches past Alana and flattens his palm against the door until she throws him a frustrated, helpless look over her shoulder. "You're not..." He sighs, struggling with his phrasing. "I think you've been trying so hard not to analyze me that you missed something pretty obvious."

"What's that?" she asks dully, her back still to him, eyes fixed on his hand against the door.

"That you're the best person in my life," Will tells her quietly. "That you're the only person who cares about me for no reason, not because it's your job. You just care. And I'm grateful for that. But sometimes it's...sometimes it's the worst possible thing, because you caring means you notice. You know how messed up I am." He swallows. She turns slowly to face him, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. "And I have feelings for you. I have since we met. But I know you're right, and that I'm no good for you right now, that I can't possibly handle a relationship. But I wish it wasn't true. I wish you didn't know I'm so bad for you and...when I kissed you, the first time, you knew I was hearing things. And tonight, you had to pick me up from jail in the middle of the night and I just...I wished I could make you forget. But I know I can't, and that I shouldn't, so I'm sorry."

Alana looks up at him; there's a long, loaded moment of silence. She lifts a hand, slow and tentative, and cups his cheek with infinite tenderness. Will closes his eyes and leans into the touch. Finally, she says in a slow, careful voice, each word chosen deliberately, "You have to choose, Will."

He opens his eyes, confused. "Choose...what?"

"You've got to decide if you...want me in your life." He opens his mouth to protest, and Alana cuts him off gently, "You can't have it both ways, Will. I told you I want to be your friend, and I do, and that means...I can't not worry about you. I want to be there for you, I want you to be able to call if you need bailing out of jail, and I want to be able to check on you if you've been having a bad week but..." She pauses, worrying her lower lip between her teeth, expression pained. "But if me being around you when something happens is making it worse, or hurting you more, then...then I'll back off." Her throat tightens, and Alana stares at Will intently, trying to gauge his reaction. "I don't want to make things harder on you. But...you have to decide what it is you want from me right now."

Will's quiet for a moment. What he wants with Alana, of course, isn't something he can have right now. So he weighs his options.

It's surprisingly simple.

"I want you," he states, his voice all quiet, fierce conviction as he consciously echoes her earlier statement. "The worry, the bailing me out of jail-" he cracks a tiny smile. "-all of it. I'm sorry I made you think I didn't."

Relief washes over her face, and Alana smiles. "Good." She takes a step forward and puts her arms around him. Just as the last time she hugged Will, Alana can feel the tension drain from his body and he clings to her, burying his face in her hair and giving into his own vulnerability and weakness.

She becomes the strong one by default, by necessity. And again Alana thinks that Will would be shocked to know the hold he has over her, how powerful it can be. She would do so many things for him, including walk away if that's what he wanted...but doing so could have broken her.