Wolf Trap, Virginia is a tiny, barren place. The population is mainly trees, really. It might as well not even be a recognized location.
That must be ideal for Will Graham. No one around, no one to look any closer than the very surface. No one to see what goes bump in the night. Unless they come looking for it.
Freddie Lounds parks a significant distance away from the small Colonial Revival-style house. It's in the middle of nowhere, her car is basically just in the woods, but she doesn't want to risk alerting Graham of her presence. She knows about his obsessive dog-rescuing, doesn't want them to hear her car or see the headlights.
It's a clever tactic, the stray collecting. On the surface, it establishes Will Graham as a compassionate, caring person, despite his cruel personality. The ulterior motive, Freddie suspects, is a constant security system, alerting him of any danger. Tonight, Freddie is the danger.
It's half-past two, the world is all but silent. Graham and his dogs will be asleep. Freddie's boots crunch softly through the snow. She's armed with a recorder, a camera, her cell phone, and her lock-picking kit for the shed outside. She knows this is risky-downright stupid, even- but she just can't shake the feeling. Will Graham is hiding something, she has to find out what it is.
Freddie approaches the house from behind, like a hunter stalking her prey. Her main objective is the shed- she's not stupid enough to break into Graham's house while he's home- but she pauses when she rounds the corner.
Graham's Volvo is parked outside, naturally, but it isn't the only one. A sleek-looking black Bentley is also here, parked beside it. Freddie snaps a photo of the Bentley, fully covered in snow like it's been here for hours. Interesting.
She creeps around the side of the house, nearing the cars. She tries to wipe some frost away from the Bentley's driver side window, peering in through the glass as well as she can without drawing attention with a flashlight. The interior is spotless. Nothing of interest. She turns and repeats the process with the Volvo. Old receipts, empty water bottles, air freshener from a local car wash- standard stuff.
Freddie moves back to the side wall of the house, crouching beside a window. She recognizes the car, is more intrigued than surprised. Lecter and Graham have been up to something since Abigail Hobbs, she knew he'd be involved somehow. But why is he here now? Could they be working on something, preparing a plan in the dead of night? Maybe they're both in the shed, right now, something dark brewing between them-
She freezes. The sound came from the window above her. Freddie would've recognized that accented voice anywhere- Hannibal Lecter is inside. Awake.
She strains her ears, listening carefully. Presses her ear to the wall. She hears creaking- floorboards? Movement.
And then Freddie hears an unmistakable moan. In the voice of none other than Will Graham.
Freddie raises her eyebrows. She turns on her recorder and holds it close to the window. More sighs, more creaking- not floorboards, she realizes, but a bed frame-
"H-Hannibal, fuck-" Will's voice whines through the glass, panting. "God, Hannibal-"
Lecter answers in a groan that has a blush rising to Freddie's face. She turns off the recorder, for now. Your own therapist, Will? You're shameless. What would Jack Crawford say?
...What would Crawford say? Lecter has consulted on multiple cases with Graham, and even if their relationship as doctor and patient wasn't officially on the books, it's still public knowledge. It would be a bad look for Graham, Crawford, and Lecter if this got out.
Definitely in their best interest to keep it quiet, whatever it takes.
Slowly, carefully, Freddie rises. The window beside her is situated in Graham's bedroom, if the increasing thud of a bed against the wall is any indication. The curtains are drawn, but there's a small sliver at the edge of the window that the curtain doesn't cover. With a feather-light touch that she prays won't draw attention, she clears some frost from the window. It must be very warm inside, because any cold on her end relents easily beneath her gloved fingers. She pulls out her camera and peeks in.
For a moment, she's slightly stunned by the scene in front of her. Shit Graham, wasn't sure you had it in you. Will Graham dives down, knuckles white where they hold Lecter's knee to his chest, and bites his neck with a growl. Lecter's back arches off the bed beneath him.
Will sits at his desk, trying much too hard to focus on the essay before him. Maybe he could just give them all B's and call it a day. He shakes his head, tries to re-center and actually absorb his student's words.
His thoughts keep drifting back to last night. To the evening that led up to it and every day before, before, before.
Will's always hidden things. More often than not, he was hiding them from himself as much as from others. But this is new. Now, he's hiding things with someone, someone who really understands him and gets it and makes hiding fun. It's almost dangerously fun, sneaking around with Hannibal.
His thoughts are interrupted by Jack Crawford storming into Will's classroom.
"These papers need grading, Jack. Can it wait?" He asks, even though he can tell by the other man's body language that it can't.
"My office. Now."
Will narrows his eyes. Jack is furious about something, that much is clear. "Another body?"
"There's gonna be if you don't start moving."
Will follows Jack to his office in tense silence. He's retracing every step, trying to recall what might have incurred his boss' wrath. A few things come to mind. Will swallows hard and tries to keep from sweating.
Jack sits at his desk and Will sits across from him. There's a small, gold flash drive sitting on the desk. Something about it makes him nervous.
Jack takes a deep breath and looks Will in the eyes.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Will?"
"I don't have the list on me right now, I'm afraid," Will responds with a slight smirk.
Jack picks up the flash drive. "I found this in my mailbox this morning," He says with a glare. "It's from Freddie Lounds. Looks like a teaser for a new Tattlecrime article, you wanna see it?"
Will shakes his head. He's poking the bear and he knows it, but he's found himself caring less and less about Jack, lately. "I've never really cared for her work."
Jack narrows his eyes, plugs the drive into his laptop and turns it to face Will.
Will's eyes go wide. The color drains from his face.
It's dark, grainy. The quality is terrible, and the photo is partially obscured by his bedroom curtains. Even so, it's undeniable what the photo depicts. His own face is turned away, occupied with Hannibal's neck, but his mess of sweaty curls is still pretty recognizable. Hannibal's face, however, is mostly visible, lips parted to release a sound that is currently ringing in Will's ears. Freddie had mercifully censored the more delicate aspects of her subject matter, but the arch of Hannibal's spine and the leg thrown over Will's shoulder left very little to the imagination.
It doesn't skirt his attention that Hannibal is much more...on display than Will. He knows she did that on purpose. The photo was definitely embarrassing for both of them, but he knew the other man would be nothing short of humiliated. He feels his blood boil.
"There's an audio link too, but I'll spare both of us and just tell you that it's exactly what you think it is."
Will takes a slow breath, tears his gaze away from the photo to rub at his eyes. "Christ." He dares to look at Jack. He's annoyed, disappointed. Thoroughly unamused. Will bristles a little. "I mean, it's not exactly scandalous enough for Tattlecrime, is it? Not typically Freddie Lounds' MO. It's more of a...personal slight, than anything she would actually publish. Just trying to get under my skin."
"You think so? Read the article and tell me if you think it's something her readers would want to hear."
Will grits his teeth, looks to the text beneath the photo.
FBI Darling and known killer Will Graham is redefining Doctor/Patient Privileges with the help of his co-consultant and psychiatrist, Doctor Hannibal Lecter. It seems that the man entrusted with keeping Special Agent Graham from falling off the deep end is also entrusted with...
Alana exits the elevator, starts down the long marble hallway to her office. The sound of Will's voice catches her attention.
"I'm not officially Hannibal's patient. We've always just been...having conversations."
She pauses. The sound is coming from Jack's office, the door left partially open in haste. She usually tries not to eavesdrop, but the mention of Hannibal's name catches her attention.
"You know just as well as I do how bad this makes me look, Will," Jack's voice replies. "Lounds is right, I put my trust in Doctor Lecter to look after you."
Alana frowns. Freddie Lounds? What's she done this time?
"Well, clearly he is," Will deadpans.
Alana can practically feel how angry Jack is through the crack in the door. "When I sent you to Doctor Lecter, I didn't think it was necessary to clarify that it wasn't so you could sleep with him."
Alana's jaw all but hits the floor. She steps closer to the door, fully engrossed.
"You don't have any say in what I do with my personal life, Jack, and neither does Freddie Lounds."
"It isn't your personal life, Will! Lecter is your therapist, unofficial or not, and more importantly he's worked with us on multiple homicide cases. You want to sleep with someone, Will, be my guest. I don't care if you pull every sucker in Baltimore back to Wolf Trap with you, it's not my business. But you've put me at risk by keeping this from me." Jack sighs heavily. "I wish you'd told me, Will."
"So you could've tried to protect me?" Will says.
"So I could've tried to talk some sense into you before you got involved in this mess!"
Alana frowns to herself. She wishes Will had told her, too. She thought Will was her friend. Maybe he thought she would be upset, because of the crush he doubtlessly knew she harbored for Will. Or maybe it was because he knew she agreed with Jack, that getting romantically involved with Hannibal Lecter was a flag so red and so large that Will must have seen it.
Will is silent for a moment. She hears the sound of a laptop closing. "So what is this? Is Freddie just...tormenting us? Making sure we get an early screening before it's released?"
"No. It's Blackmail."
Will and Alana both balk at this. "What, information in exchange for her silence?"
"Seems that way, yes."
Will lets out an exasperated chuckle. "She can have it."
"That's not your decision to make."
"You already said this going public would be detrimental for you, Jack. I'm not too keen on the idea either. I keep my private life private for a reason."
"Well, maybe you should've thought about that before you had sex with your therapist."
"I don't think it's fair to be having this discussion without Hannibal present," Alana blurts out at last, moving from behind the door and finally entering the room.
There's a closed laptop between them, and a flush comes to Will's face when he realizes Alana's been listening.
"Even if it isn't technically official, having a romantic relationship with someone who is known to be one of his patients...it would destroy Hannibal's reputation. His practice might never recover."
Will nods, still looking at the laptop.
"I'm aware," Jack says. "I'm also aware that Freddie Lounds has been directly responsible for ruining multiple high-profile investigations. And that she won't hesitate to do it again if it gets her more attention, which it will."
Alana and Will both look at Jack, but before either can speak, he continues.
"I have to keep my priorities in order. You think I like putting both of us and Doctor Lecter on the chopping block? But at the end of the day, it's either Public Humiliation or Obstruction of Justice. And that's a choice I'll make any day."
Will grinds the heel of his palm into his eye socket. Alana feels a pang of sympathy. She still agrees with Jack, that Will had been stupid to pursue Hannibal, but Will's been happier than ever the last couple of months. She never considered it might be due to a relationship, but the more she thinks about it, the more it makes sense. Her heart reaches out to him and her hand follows behind, landing on his shoulder.
"I want you to stop seeing Doctor Lecter," Jack says at last.
Will looks up at him, eyes narrowed. "As my therapist or as my boyfriend?"
Alana smiles despite herself. The idea of Hannibal Lecter, paragon of sophistication and class, being referred to as someone's 'boyfriend' is surprisingly sweet. It makes this entire situation feel all the more unfortunate.
Another dark laugh leaves Will. "I'll stop our sessions. I should've done that a while ago, but he is actually very good at what he does. But you can't make me break up with him just because it makes you look bad."
"I agree with Will," Alana interjects, catching a glare from Jack. "If you're letting Lounds expose them, then the damage is already done. There's no point in separating them now."
"Doesn't matter either way," Will says. He stands from his chair, gently shrugging Alana's hand away. "I don't care how much hot water it lands me in, I'm not doing it."
Will nods to Alana on his way out the door, effectively ending the conversation.
"Well," Alana says once the door is closed behind them. "That went even worse than I imagined it would."
"You know I'm right, Alana. Those two being involved won't end well for any of us. From a professional or personal standpoint."
Alana shrugs. "Maybe so, but I don't think making him resent you was the proper response either."
Jack sighs. "I was trying to make him see reason."
"And you succeeded in making him want to dig his heels in the ground, Jack! You know Will, there's nothing he hates more than being told what to do."
Jack pulls a gold flash drive from the laptop and puts it into a plastic bag. She wonders what dirt Freddie Lounds had dug up to cause this discussion. "You know, sometimes I feel like Will sees Doctor Lecter and I as opposite sides of an axis. I have for a long time. Maybe it's being encouraged. Maybe Hannibal wants to pull Will as far away from me as he can."
Alana thinks it over. She sees it, in a way. "If that's the case, then it seems like you might've lost Will a long time ago."
Will slams his car door, taking the steps up to Hannibal's office two at a time. If he can't stop Jack from letting this all go public, the least he can do is give Hannibal a warning.
There's someone in the waiting room. Will forces himself to slow down. He clears his throat.
"Um, do you know if Doctor Lecter is with a patient right now?"
The man shrugs. "There usually isn't someone right before me. At least, I never see anyone leaving as I'm coming in."
Will nods, already opening the door.
"Hey, you're not really supposed to-"
He closes the door behind himself. Hannibal is sitting at his desk, jotting something down. Will feels his nerves settle somewhat at the very sight of him. God, I love you. I'm so sorry.
"Will," Hannibal says. "You know that I'm busy in the afternoons, you should've called in advance."
He stands when he takes in Will's appearance, distressed and flustered. "Something's happened." Hannibal says, the faint annoyance in his voice giving way to concern. He crosses the room to meet Will in the middle, places a cool palm on his cheek. "Mylimasis, what's wrong?"
Will grits his teeth in frustration. You deserve better. I let this happen. "They know," he says. He watches a primal fear flash in Hannibal's eyes for a fraction of a second before he says "About us. Our relationship."
Will closes his eyes, can't bear to look as he confesses. "Freddie Lounds. Alana Bloom. Jack Crawford. Soon everyone will know. I'm so sorry, Hannibal."
Hannibal's thumb strokes Will's cheek, keeping him firmly planted on the ground. "What happened, Will. Tell me."
He takes a deep breath before the words come out in a rush. "Lounds was at my house last night. I-I don't know how neither of us noticed, I don't even remember the dogs barking. She- she took pictures, Hannibal. Recordings. Sent it all to Jack."
Hannibal lowers his head, presses their foreheads together. It's soothing, it forces Will to take another breath, try to stay calm. "I'm sorry. If I hadn't made myself a target for her, she wouldn't have even been in Wolf Trap. This is all my fault, I let you down, I'm sorry-"
"Will," Hannibal whispers. Will makes himself stop talking, waits.
Hannibal kisses him softly and Will fights the urge to melt into it. It feels like mercy, like forgiveness. Like unconditional love.
"None of this was your fault, my love. I'm not upset with you." Will smiles, tries to let some of the tension leave his shoulders. "Although I confess I'm furious with Miss Freddie Lounds."
Will chuckles despite himself. "I'm more angry with Jack, myself. Lounds has always been a viper, I've come to expect it." Will pulls away a bit, gives them both some space to breathe. "He tried to make me stop seeing you, not just professionally but altogether."
Hannibal tilts his head. "And what did you say?"
"I told him to go fuck himself, obviously. Jack can't control me. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, Hannibal, he can pry you from my cold, dead hands. They all can."
There's dark pleasure written across the other man's features when Will speaks and it makes the events of today suddenly seem meaningless. Will knows Hannibal loves this side of him. The side that's possessive, that loves him viciously. The side that's willing to throw everything else away if it means Hannibal will keep looking at him like that.
Will steps forward to reenter Hannibal's space, gathers up a hungry fistful of his jacket. "Nobody's pulling us apart. Not now, not ever."
Hannibal smiles. "Then why should the article matter?"
Will breathes out a laugh. "I was...concerned for your reputation, I suppose. Aren't you?"
"Not particularly. You aren't my patient, despite what Freddie Lounds might have people believe. If anyone comes looking to confirm that matter, I'll deal with them, simple as that."
Will smiles. "Deal with them. Yeah, you're right. It'll be fine." He sighs, releases Hannibal's jacket and smoothes the fabric there. "Still, I will miss the thrill of hiding it."
Hannibal cocks an eyebrow. "You find it thrilling?"
He's teasing. He knows Will enjoys their secrets, all of them. Will indulges him regardless. "Of course," He says lowly, close enough that his breath is ghosting against Hannibal's cheek. "I love sneaking through the dark with you, up to no good." He kisses Hannibal's jaw, drifting down to his collar.
"Then you'll be glad to know that I am always, entirely, and exclusively up to no good."
Will laughs against Hannibal's skin. Yes. Very glad to know.
"Unfortunately, I do have a patient whose appointment should be starting now," Hannibal says, gently stepping backwards from Will's attentions. He smiles softly. "Don't spare Miss Lounds another thought, love. I'll see you tonight."
Will nods, gives Hannibal one last quick kiss before leaving through the lobby.
For someone who has surely gathered the ire of many dangerous people, Freddie Lounds' apartment is quite easy to find. She smiles when she opens the door, looking very pleased with herself. For now.
"Doctor Lecter, what a surprise." She holds the door for him as he passes her threshold. "How are you this evening? Sore, I'm guessing."
Hannibal swallows the urge so snarl at her crass remark. "I've always detested your work," He says, "But even then, I never thought you would stoop so low."
She looks him in the face as she settles into a small armchair, still smiling pleasantly. "Will Graham is a violent, unhinged sociopath who is acting in the FBI completely unchecked. I think the public deserves to know that."
"I am keeping him in check."
She smirks. "Is that what they're calling it these days?" She crosses her legs, stares him down. "I'm publishing the article, Hannibal. The only thing you can control now is its ending. Will I have to add an anecdote about how I was threatened by the predatory doctor who was supposed to keep Will Graham from hurting anyone? The irony would be deeply unflattering."
Hannibal almost laughs. "I'm not here to talk you out of posting the story, Miss Lounds."
He allows himself to smile. He thinks of Will, furiously proclaiming that he would choose Hannibal over Jack Crawford until his dying breath. Miss Lounds' blackmail had been the final push Will needed, and now he was fully against the FBI. Cemented within Hannibal's guiding arms. He would be thanking her, if her methods weren't so unforgivably rude.
"Fortunately for both of us, your actions, however despicable, may come to benefit me." When she gives him a questioning look, he shrugs. "A man can only keep so many secrets, especially when it comes to matters of the heart."
"So why are you here, then?"
For a brief moment, Hannibal lets his polite veneer slip away. His gaze becomes cold, and the effect is clear on Miss Lounds' face. "I would advise against bothering Will Graham again," He says simply. "Your...stunt, today has not ruffled my proverbial feathers, but I will tell you that you've left my Will very displeased." He takes one smooth step towards her, still plenty of space between them. "You'll find that I'm quite invested in his happiness, Miss Lounds."
He lets the words hang between them for a beat, two. Then he slips the mask back on and smiles. "I should be going. Thank you for your time, Miss Lounds. I look forward to reading your article."
She surprises him somewhat by standing and once again opening the door.
Will is standing outside, poised to knock.
"Will Graham," She says, confidence already resurrected from Hannibal's previous slaughter. "My my, it's quite the revolving door today, isn't it?"
Will barely looks at her. "Hannibal," he says, and the sound of his name on Will's mouth makes him smile. "I wasn't expecting to see you here."
"Hannibal and I were discussing some professional matters," She says easily. "He's a very fierce negotiator, I'm surprised to say he came out on top," She gives Will a pointed look an lifts an eyebrow. "For once."
Hannibal is disgusted by this woman, and her continued jabs about their sex life. The flush that rises to Will's cheeks at her comment is undeniably pretty, though.
"Come, Will," Hannibal says, gently guiding him by the shoulder as he leaves the apartment. "Thank you again for speaking with me, Miss Lounds."
"Have fun, boys!" She calls after them, and Hannibal grips Will's shoulder so tightly that he worries it will hurt him.
"So what happened back there?" Will asks.
"I told her not to bother you anymore. At least if we catch her again, we can say that we tried."
Will snorts. "That's very laissez-faire of you, Hannibal. I'd almost think I was making you soft, if I didn't know any better."
Hannibal lowers his hand to take Will's and finds that he's wearing gloves. He lifts Will's hand and regards it. "It seems Miss Lounds should be counting herself lucky that I came knocking before you did."
Will sets his jaw. "I don't like the position she put us in. It was rude. Shockingly rude." Will looks up at Hannibal as they walk through the parking lot, big blue eyes making his heart stutter. "She deserves to be dealt with."
Hannibal brings the gloved hand to his lips, kisses the leather gracing his beloved's knuckles. "You should be relieved, mylimasis. Our entanglement at the time completely distracted her from her investigation. If I hadn't been there, she might've gone into the shed."