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Maybe Next Time We'll Be Ready

Summary: 摘要

Will and Hannibal navigate their “what’s next” post-fall. They’re both alive, barely, but not without sacrifice. Hannibal has a limp, and Will tries to come to terms with how he feels about that. And how he feels about Hannibal.
威尔和汉尼拔在坠落后如何应对 "下一步"。他们都勉强活了下来,但并非没有牺牲。汉尼拔一瘸一拐,威尔试图接受他的感受。还有他对汉尼拔的感觉

Chapter 1: Introït et Kyrie
第 1 章:引言和凯歌

Notes: 备注

This is just a brief departure from the norm. I intend for this to have a couple chapters (?), but will just wing it and see where these two take me.

Hope you enjoy slow sadness!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text 章节正文

He opened his eyes but saw nothing.

“...found us when she did.”

Hannibal’s voice was lilted. Breathless around the edge of his vowels. He almost couldn’t finish his sentence.

Hannibal continued to talk. He never stops talking. Will didn’t want to listen so he didn’t. He couldn’t, he found. His head was plunged under the surface of the Atlantic still, his vision blurred by the screen of seawater that frosted over his eyes. The ocean had breached his ear canal and fought to occupy the open waters of his mind, so all he felt was the sea breeze, tugging at his lapels and pulling upwards at the frown on his lips, and all he knew was his pale little boat on the sea, with the bewitching monsters of the deep greeting his lost vessel with their sharp-toothed grins, guiding his ship towards south of the horizon, towards the dark seavalley instead, some shadow of death, as his silhouette disappeared. Do unto your neighbors as they do unto you, Will feels one say. 
汉尼拔继续说着。他总是滔滔不绝。威尔不想听 所以他没听他发现自己听不进去。他的头仍然沉浸在大西洋的海面下,眼睛被凝结成霜的海水遮住,视线模糊不清。大海冲破了他的耳道,争先恐后地占据了他脑海中的空地,所以他只感觉到海风吹拂着他的衣襟,拉扯着他皱起的眉头,他只知道他那艘苍白的小船在海面上航行,那些迷人的深海怪兽用它们尖牙利齿的笑脸迎接着他那艘迷失的船,引导着他的船驶向地平线以南,驶向黑暗的海沟,驶向死亡的阴影,他的身影消失了。以其人之道还治其人之身,威尔感觉到有人这样说。

“This is going to hurt,” Will hears from another. “Breathe slowly. Don’t hold your breath.”

Will lets them tow his ship and he sits without moving his arms or legs and sighs before closing his eyes. He doesn’t hear, and he doesn’t feel when his boat tips, swallowed whole by the tsunami and he’s plunged under again. 

All he sees is a billiard blue pattern. Royal and steel, with a pocket for things. Some checkered wave with a long black tie at the crest that leaves a bleeding trail at its trough. There’s red footprints in the sea.

And if he did wild or wicked things it was because he could not help them. How very Ernest Hemingway.

He thinks of the waves, how prettily they lap at the hull. Like dogs of the ocean. And he drifts away.


When his eyes crack open a second time, they find that he’s no longer on the sea. He’s in a dimly lit pantry-sized room, max size thirteen-by-thirteen—its bruised walls were peeling yellow with use and decay and the torn plaid curtains in the far corner hid the only window in the entire room. A thin stretch of sunlight smuggled its way through the material regardless. 
当他第二次睁开眼睛时,发现自己已经不在海上了。他在一个光线昏暗的储藏室大小的房间里,最大尺寸是 13 x 13,墙上的伤痕因使用和腐烂而剥落成黄色,远处角落里破旧的格子窗帘遮住了整个房间唯一的窗户。尽管如此,还是有一丝阳光偷偷地透过窗帘照射进来。

Beside the window, there’s a little wooden workbench with one of its drawers missing. It looks handmade. Above it, on a painting-sized black billboard of a sign, reads: It’s better to sit in a boat thinking about God than to sit in a church thinking about fishing, in a font so cursive and unnecessarily onbrand, Will thinks Hannibal wrote it. He stares at the sign for longer than he meant to.

There’s a toilet near the cracked door on the far right side of the room, golden and proud and fitting as a decoration as any, and above the toilet, a steady drip of water falls from somewhere in the low-tilted ceiling. Will doesn’t hear when the water hits the ground.

 Instead, he nestles into the navy blue cotton covers laid over his legs and chest. It smells like the Downy brand he uses for dryer sheets, the one that reminds him of his childhood, their garden, his mother. 

Will feels himself swaying back and forth in his bed, rocked to rest on this strange bed, in this strange room, in front of a strange toilet, and into the strangely comforting blanket. The distant hum of a lullaby forgotten drifted through the little sunlight in the window as he lay, and it came to tickle his ears and heart as he rocked, and rocked, and rocked, and floated, and faded, and smiled. How freeing it felt to be back in his cradle.


He blinks open his eyes again, the third time now.

The sunlight has faded, the ocean is a gentle purr, and a grey seagull honks relentlessly outside his window.

He can hear now. 他现在能听到了。

The room is still as it was, lonely and cool as the orange evening settles, blistering blond paint and the fishing sign beside the window more relieving than he’d care to admit. But a smell suffocates him now, rotten meat with a tinge of sickening sweetness, stealing him from pleasantry and sanction as it grabs him by the throat and stabs him in the eyes. It was a stench he was all too familiar with.

It pained him somewhere to glance to his right, at the small school chair that propped a dead body atop of it. Will wrinkled his nose. But as the first tide left out of his ears, the rest of the seawater began to drip out of his eyes and the stain of the ocean faded.

And he could see now.

Shadowed and cold, Will witnessed Hannibal in the seat to his right, motionless and quiet, and Will stared. They stared at each other, the ocean meeting the autumn forest edge, for what felt like an eternity.

The smell danced around them.

Then Hannibal blinked at him, coming to life again, golden-amber eyes crinkling around the edges as a lifted smile revealed his canines when he opened his mouth to speak.

Will, relieved and unbelievably upset, shifted back towards the curtains and went to sleep.


He shoots upwards in his bed when consciousness finds him again.

Not a bed, but a triple-cushioned, old pine-green couch.

The peeling paint of the ship is gone, as is the little window in the far corner, but the toilet is still there, at the edges of the room, just hidden behind a tall, brazenly brown door this time.

The cotton, navy blue blanket is gone as well, but a fleece one, cream and checkered, wraps around him instead, snugger and softer. It smells the same as the blue one.

He winces as he moves, tempted to try shooting up from his spot, consequences be damned, but ultimately favors sitting upright as a sort of stepping stone to standing. He moves the fuzzy blanket off his shoulders and onto his lap, not willing to part with the touch of the fleece on his bare legs just yet.

The rest of the room screams apartment, as opposed to a house or another boat cabin. The small open kitchen sits to his far left, already scattered with a few pots and pans across the slim-cut smoke-counters. The island range hood that borders the apartment door whirs gently, the few folded papers resting atop the two barstool chairs flittering gently with the fan speed on low.

There was a stubbed hallway past the kitchen where Will could make out three stark brown doors. One was a bathroom, two were bedrooms most likely. All were shut.

With a decently-sized TV propped atop a miniature caramel entertainment center and a foggy glass coffee table a breath’s-length in front of him, it was pretty obvious that he was sitting in the skeleton of a living room.

There were no decorations, outside of the strewn pots and pans in the kitchen. It looked like there was a patio to his right, though he could barely see it with the drawn black curtains. Amusingly, however, Will spotted the same black and white sign from the boat in the far right corner of the room, up by the TV, next to the closed patio doors.

‘It’s better to sit in a boat thinking about God than to sit in a church thinking about fishing,' it read again. Now Will was sure Hannibal wrote it.

The groan of the front door opening a good three feet to his left startled him, more-so because he’s lived alone since seventeen. His dogs can’t open doors. 

And for the first time in what feels like ages, Will gets a good look at Hannibal. He’s dressed to the nines in heavywear, a long black trench coat atop what looks like another trench coat, with thick grey pants and a feathered maple scarf stranded over only one shoulder. Nothing matched.

His hair was an unsettling mess of flyaways and greys, the blond that usually streaked his strands undefined in the dimness of the room. He carried a stately white bag without brand in his right hand and a long metal pole with a rubber tip and tassel in the other. But with the ugly green arm of the chair obstructing his view, Will couldn’t see the rest of his body. Underneath the layers and layers of winter gear could be a spectacle of scars, wounds, damage dealt from the brutal, battering waves, the brunt checkered rockface, and the fire-breathing Dragon.

It’d be a spectacle. Of bright blues, scarlets, and grim yellows with ugly violets in the middle, maybe even worse than Will’s. No, definitely worse than Will’s.

He would never admit it out loud, but he didn’t like not knowing.

Without thinking, Will moves to stand, grimacing as he does, and Hannibal rushes from the door, dropping the white bag with a stumble so he could safely catch Will’s shoulder before he fell straight through the coffee table. 

Will inhales deeply through his nose in upset, an attempt to summon self-control or perhaps lack thereof. This was for several reasons, but notwithstanding Hannibal’s death-grip on his shoulder, the immediate one was his startling lack of motor ability.

Fingers brush the arrant hairs against his neck while the remainder of the hand wraps around to steady. Will’s neck-hair was already grown and curled from lack of attention. 

The touch against him was subtle, but strong. Stable. It was nice. But he was then given no time to acknowledge anything else as Hannibal screwed him back down towards the couch with one hand grasping his shoulder, the other holding the long pole. It was inevitable he be returned to rest (his knees hurt anyway), but Will, stubborn than most, placed a palm on Hannibal’s broad chest and pushed himself away just enough to prove a point. Not out of their hold, but away. 

He stood as straight as he could to face Hannibal’s imposing height over him, suddenly feeling the need to be close. To be level.

Hannibal though, clearly on his own agenda, still held to him with inscrutable amber eyes, his right hand an iron-clasped grip to Will’s shoulder. Will frowned, more-so because he couldn’t read his expression, and he didn’t sit, move, or speak. 

Hannibal’s lips finally twitched downward with something that marked displeasure. The sharp inhale through his nose was impatient in following (the kind one does when they’re practicing self-control or lack thereof), but it was reluctant, like it upset him to be the scrupulous doctor to his very callous and uncooperative patient, who was used to downing Aspirin for seizures and double-shot coffee for encephalitis.

Cautious, but resolute, Hannibal was. Is. Healthcare wasn’t just a former job, but a way of life. And in a way, always will remain a part of who Hannibal is at his core.

Will finally allowed his eyes to wander back up to Hannibal’s, ocean blue eventually meeting the outline of his brisk, but warm autumn-amber; a sacred part of him was still somewhat vulnerable whenever close contact turned into a touch, which was never often but more of a special occasion with him. But even something as meager as a finger brushing his bare skin was a cause for uncertainty, and so was the ripe-apple gaze that unapologetically explored every crevice, scar, and frown-line from his forehead made ugly by numerous ‘complications’ down to his untrimmed stubble, borderline-beard. 

There’s a certainty to Hannibal. To his style, his character, his taste. There was always a certainty, but Will wasn’t used to it, and don’t think he ever will be.

“I understand you are troubled and would sooner fall from another cliff than admit it, but I need you to recognize the severity of your situation,” he rumbles, hand falling down Will’s arm so that he could be guided towards the couch again. Like an old lady. Will didn’t protest, but held Hannibal’s gaze with a determined frown.

Hannibal seemed at ease with the way he responded, lips flipping upward with a crooked smile as he absently pulled the white fleece blanket over Will’s lap. “The Great Red Dragon left lasting scars on you and me both,” he comments, tucking the edges under Will’s bare legs. “He was retelling William Blake, watercolors recast to a medium much more suited to the dragon—broader strokes, abusing alla prima , more Van Gogh than Blake, made of poppyseed oil and bordered by desperation. A painting of his own design.”

Will drew his eyebrows together, finding his voice for the first time in what seems like months. It hurts when he rasps, “What day is it?”

“Sunday,” Hannibal replies on the ready. He’s standing over Will now, holding the pole to his side. “You’ve been in and out of consciousness for three days now. Our Passover meal was on Good Friday, and much like the Son of Man, here you are, risen again three days later.”

“After being betrayed by Judas with a kiss,” Will remarks without even thinking, eyes gracing the fishing sign by the window, something familiar.

Hannibal’s gaze traced his scars, the faded line above his eyebrow, and the crimson bloom on his cheek. “Then I should be grateful you pulled us over the bluff when you did,” he smoothes, amused. “Atop the cliffside, you struck me so enormously that I feared I was close to reenacting the Betrayal of Judas, blood and all. A reckless line I’ve tread. But you’ve saved us a spot in Heaven, Will.” Hannibal let out a sigh as he turned to follow where Will was staring, like moving was a monumental task. He clicked his tongue with a smirk when he spotted the black and white sign. “If either of us are ever fit enough to climb the stairs to get there, do let me know.”

Will let a huff of air escape through his nose to that, but said nothing.

He noticed how Hannibal tried to find his eyes, dipping his head to search his face for something to lead on. Will could barely feel the outline of Hannibal’s black dress shoe against his pink sock. He still felt like he was still floating in the ocean, in some other ocean. Still paddling for purchase in the sea of his mind. He wondered if Hannibal put painkillers in the water he drank out of the sea. Then winced at himself when that didn’t really make any sense.

“How’s your vision?” Hannibal asks, doctorly but concerned with a furrowed brow as he carefully watches Will grimace his way back and forth between pain and the lack thereof. He knew that Will was drifting with nothing to hold onto.

“Fine,” throws Will, a little too off-handed and bitter to be considered the truth. He didn’t mean to sound so angry, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to talk about anything, really. 

 The sight in his right eye was blurry, but he didn’t want to mention that either. Will assumed that was from being stabbed in the face. Possibly the lack of blood flow. Possibly the painkiller’s Hannibal gave him. In his seawater.

He audibly hissed when he became painfully aware that his hand had been unconsciously feeling for the lack of skin on the right side of his face.

Hannibal was fast to react. “Stop moving,” he ordered tightly, the lightning-quick grasp over Will’s hands so sudden that Will’s mind couldn’t keep up with anything else. His hands were fixed in place for a moment, frozen by the sudden foreign feeling of touch that tore his fingers from his face. The hold on Will’s wrists wasn’t painful, but strangely firm, and Hannibal physically relaxed his tight shoulders as Will found his way back to his lap again.

Hannibal was never one to become physically upset, but here they were. It was both unnerving and comforting, to be held so securely. Even if Will fidgeted, Hannibal’s grip wouldn’t budge. He squirmed just to test his theory. Nothing. Will snorted in disbelief and Hannibal took his cue to finally pull away.

“If you poke at your wounds, they will reopen.” Hannibal sounded upset when he spoke again, his voice deep and eyes lowered. “Leave them alone so they have time to heal.”

Not up for negotiation.

If not for you, for me, was the plea Will was left with.

And he was so momentarily struck to do the exact opposite, tempted to rip off the proverbial and actual bandage in the form of stitches just to spite Hannibal, that it was a bit unreal to be thrown back to times before this. As if any times before this were all a dream. He let the moment pass by wriggling to get less uncomfortable in his spot instead, noticing the way Hannibal’s lips twitched downward when he did.

There was so much to say, instead of, in reply of, to talk about, to discuss , but as his mouth opened to ask, gaze turning back to Hannibal, he then realized with a start, “Where’s my dogs?” His face burns when it stretches. Are they still with Molly? He couldn’t bring himself to say her name in front of Hannibal.

“Well-cared for. You will be able to see them, but not today. It will take more than time to heal all wounds.” Hannibal raises an invisible eyebrow. There’s dried blood above it. “Patience, I hear, is hard to come by nowadays.”

Will grimaced, less than amused. They’re not with Molly. “Not anymore than being straightforward. Where are my dogs, Hannibal?”

Will watched Hannibal give him a once over with glazed amber eyes, maybe storing this beaten and upset image of Will someplace inside his mind palace. Hannibal tapped the metal pole. “They are with an acquaintance of mine,” he drawls, slowly, but catching Will’s incendiary stare out of the corner of his eye must have compelled him to reimagine his storytelling. “Mrs. Komeda,” he elaborates, turning his attention back towards the curtains. “She’s a well-known novelist and an excellent librettist. Both reputable and responsible professions. She works out of the Boston area with her husband and often accepts my dinner invitations.” He paused. “ Did often accept my dinner invitations. I enjoy her company and respect her greatly.”

Will listened but didn’t really hear. He couldn’t look at Hannibal, even though he knew he did the best he could with the options he had. Whatever options he had.

Molly always said that she’d watch his dogs if anything happened to him. Will wondered if anything happened to her.

It was hard to think.

Hannibal tilted his head, trying to search Will’s absent blue eyes again, but Will was more than resolute to not return the favor.

“She owed me a few favors from my former life and knows very well that I don’t take kindly to any form of rudeness, renegers especially.” He reached into his coat pocket with his right hand. “I contacted her under a different number, worked through the minor details, and being the smart woman that she is, she agreed almost immediately. She takes very good care of your dogs, Will.”

And Will stopped when Hannibal turned his body so he could sit on the couch, meeting the ugly green cushion with half a bounce and half a sigh. The pole met the table and rested, and the somehow upright white bag was forgotten at the entrance.

Hannibal reached across him to repurpose Will’s cotton cream blanket higher up his legs before taking the time to fix the corners when it slipped off his lap in the process. It was like it was an unconscious act, as opposed to a planned one, and Will could only stare.

Then, Hannibal took both his hands and leaned to his left, turning his phone so that he fell into Will just light enough so that their shoulders bumped. Just light enough so Will could catch his weight when he fell.

Will leaned into him without thinking, the weight a pleasant support for his back. And with the buzz of the roiling Atlantic still an echo around him, his eyes flitted to the phone Hannibal held for the both of them.

“The Komedas had just adopted a new dog. A poodle, five months, I believe.” Their bodies were comfortably pressed up against each other, with Will barely resting his head on Hannibal’s shoulder in order to make out the fluffy upside down puppy dressed in a thick carpet of unusual blue curls, its big tongue front and center on Hannibal’s phone screen.

An unbitten grin found its way onto Will’s face, and Hannibal huffed with an easy smile at the sight of it, not bothering to hide his delight when his eyes traded between Will’s expression and his phone.

His voice was newly light when he spoke, “I’m no expert by any means, but from the looks of it, I would say they all look quite content.” 

He began to scroll through the different photos, and Will simply watched. He didn’t ask how the photos came to be on his phone in the first place, and he didn’t really care.

The dogs looked good. Handsome, the eight of them. Happy. Satisfied without him, and maybe that’s for the better.

Will let Hannibal flip wordlessly through a dozen more before braving himself to take the other side of the phone with a beckoning of his left hand, just to get a better look. He made no comment on the way Hannibal’s fingers lingered when Will’s brushed his, since the hesitation only lasted a bare second and the deed was already done. He did, however, openly appreciate being allowed to hold things as a prospective “patient,” since that much he was capable of, and quietly rewarded Hannibal by allowing him to fuss with his blanket again after already having fixed it in place twice.

It was comforting, seeing the photos. It was like a piece of him forgotten had returned, even though they both knew it was both temporary and fragile.

And one photo, in particular, was so outrageous that Will audibly chuckled, a light and hopeful thing, even to his own ears. It hurt to laugh, no matter how soft, but it felt good.

Hannibal tilted his head in question and leaned a little more forwards, searching the phone with a newly keen interest.

“You said they all look content?” he says with a note of sarcasm, raising his eyebrows in fondness as he turned the phone towards Hannibal.

It was an action sequence, where a brown-fluffy smudge with teeth on the screen had Buster’s entire head in his mouth, with Buster’s eyes pointed in different directions and jaw half-opened in a scream. It was all in good fun, though, you could tell by the way their tails were blurry from wagging in the back. Jackson in the background was running so fast across the frame that it looked like he had two heads.

Most of them look content,” Hannibal switches after seeing that, and Will can’t help but scoff at the turn around.

“What’s its name?” He nods wearily towards the poodle no longer in the picture.

Hannibal smiled then, leaning a little closer to Will. Their forearms were touching. “Jezebel. I offered something more memorable like Aethra, for the color of her fur, but unfortunately, the name was pre-decided.”

Will almost shook his head. For the first time today, he was grateful to Komeda. Dr. Hannibal Lecter had a way with words, and coerced her to keep his dogs for the time being, but she’d be damned if she had to name her new blue poodle Aethra, out of all things, on top of that.

Will relaxes a little and lets Hannibal take the phone back. “That’s good. Jezebel’s a good name.”

Hannibal buries the phone in his coat pocket and repositions himself so his back barely rests on the couch. “You’d have named her Jezebel, were she yours?”

“Oh, I’d name her Georgette.”

Hannibal paused, easing a little bit more into the ugly-comfy green cushion. “You’ve had that ready,” he remarks, intrigued.

Will smiles. “For a long time.”

“Any particular reason?”

Will closed his eyes and then opened them, repeated the process before loosening his posture to meet the back of the cushion with a sigh, his fingers tracing invisible circles in the cream blanket on his lap. “I only had access to one animated film as a kid,” he replies, staring absently at the ceiling. “Oliver and Company. I always told myself that if I ever got a dog that looked like the ones in the movie, I’d name it after them. A sort of homage. Never did end up happening.”

Will listens as Hannibal inhales again, and then exhales through his nose. “And what’s to say it doesn’t? Your future is still uncharted, unpredictable. Give it time,” he hears Hannibal reply, and it's the gentleness of the words that makes Will turn. Hannibal’s gaze is poised on the empty flatscreen ahead. It’s absent and far, like staring into a mirror. His own thousand-yard-stare reflected back, and Will’s eyes can’t tear away from it.

“Patience is hard to come by nowadays,” Will says slowly, unsure where the mood was settling.

But Hannibal huffed at that, ducking his head to hide the way the corners of his lips rose, which brought a relentless smile to Will’s face and an exhale of relief. It still hurt, but masochism was always inherent.

Sena meilė nerūdyja,” Hannibal echoes now, his smile beginning to fade as his gaze floated back to the empty screen. Will’s smile also lowers, and the black and white sign in his vision begins to blur. His heart skips a beat.

“An old love does not rust,” Hannibal drawls, eyes lowered. “A Lithuanian proverb. It was my mother’s favorite saying. She would remind us every night before we went to bed, and every morning when we woke up again.” His lips were parted like he was ready to say more, and when Will searched his face, it was clear he wanted to say more. But the spark had left his eyes, and the memory had faded from his face. He looked like a husk, momentarily. Broken, red-rimmed, and dying.

Hannibal hummed sadly, painfully, and Will could only stare.

Sena meilė nerūdyja,” he tries again, his voice lower, rougher. “The proverb applies to you and many aspects of you. A selfless love for your dogs that never grows old.” Hannibal leaned backwards and closed his eyes. “The loyalty you harbor for the ones you love is something else. Relentless in its persistence. Your dedication is unrivaled.”

“I wouldn’t say loyalty. I’m relentless because I have to be. Without persistence, I die.”

“Without persistence, we all die.”

“Well,” he goads, and after a beat too long, snarks, “obviously.”

The corner of Hannibal’s lips lifted a little and he leaned back in his spot. “In persistence, this is the lesson,” he says. “Never give in.”

“Never give in,” Will repeats, drawling the syllables.


“Never never?”

Hannibal smiled. “Never.”

Will smirked and closed his eyes too. “I…didn’t take you for a Winston Churchill fan.”

“I’m not. But the way he speaks sometimes reminds me of you, Will. Do you know what else he said? ‘If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once, then come back and hit it again. Hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.’”

“I tend to beat the point to a slow and tremendous death instead of a whack.”

“So did Churchill. Was his ‘never-never’ speech not an obvious giveaway?” He shrugged only slightly. “It’s whatever gets the point across.”

“What pleases the masses,” Will remarks.

“What rallies them.”

There was a pause where neither of them spoke, and it was then that Will closed his eyes, inhaled deeply through his nose, and then out his mouth a few seconds later.

“Thank you,” he whispers, “for the dog pictures.” And he means it.

Hannibal blinks finally and returns to himself, transitioning from the flatscreen to Will. And in that moment, Will recognizes Hannibal knew he meant it. “You’re welcome, Will,” Hannibal replies with a soft glow in his eyes.

There was another beat of silence between them. Something comfortable and quiet, soft to the touch like the cream fleece blanket he found cocooning his entire body. A blanket of warmth that shouldn’t be disturbed. A truce. He felt somewhat drowsy in this pocket of ease, and wasn’t too sure if he was ready to simply doze off again.

He glanced at the long black curtains. “Can you…open the blinds? I miss sunlight.” It hurts to move. 

Hannibal faltered in his spot. “For a limited time. It is not an exaggeration to say the entire country is with pitchfork in hand. There is no doubt in my mind that they’d march straight to this hovel from all corners of the continent if they could.”

Will spoke absently, as if being here in the present moment was still a bit surreal. “Knives are fine, but big forks are too much.”

“Better than big spoons,” he muses and tilts his head. “The whole scene would be quite hysterical.”

“I’d rather have the big spoons. At least then, I’d know I’m dreaming.” Will waited, opening and closing his fist. “You’re afraid of being recognized?”

“I’m afraid you may be recognized. Especially because the couch faces the window.” His eyes chanced the drawn black curtains, like the glass behind them could be broken at any second. As an afterthought, he added, “And big forks can be thrown.”

“I’ll turn,” Will says and tries to demonstrate, only to stop halfway through as he finds that it’s a lot more difficult than he thought. Now his left hand is bent at an odd angle, but he’s too proud to actively fix it.

Hannibal made an exasperated noise as he watched, barely audible as it was. He was still on the edge of the cushion. “No, not with that wound on your cheek. It needs open air. And time.”

Will, now too proud to backpedal, thought for a long time on how to reply.

“I’ll turn anyway,” he decides stubbornly, and promptly tries it again, only to come out half-victorious as half his body is now off the couch. 

His eyes are facing the backrest of the torn moss-cushion, but now the fleece blanket has fallen off his shoulders and his legs are still firmly glued to the floor. He’s not sure how to get out of this one.

He heard Hannibal scoff in disbelief behind him, and felt the corners of the blanket touch his shoulders again.

“Even the gods themselves would fear your stubbornness,” he hears Hannibal say.

“Without persistence, I die.”

“We would both die, were you not so difficult.”

Will huffs into his pillow. “Call it a character flaw.”

“No. A character feature, yes. Your tenacity is what sets your principles. Sets you apart. The makeup of your moral, Will, and is one of the many reasons I am entirely taken by you.”

Will feels the couch shift as Hannibal stands. He’s once again thrown and left empty on how to reply, if he should even reply at all. In times like this, Will’s reminded that there’s a certainty in that too.

He furrows his eyebrows and releases a breath he didn't even know he was holding, opening and closing his mouth twice before quietly adding his voice. “What am I supposed to say to that?” he whispers bitterly, and finally turns to see Hannibal, to really see Hannibal, who’s expression was already covered by the shadow of the tall black curtains. His face is turnt away.

“What would you like to say?” his tone is neutral as he tugs at the blinds behind. 

The curtains remain still. It’s the other side that needs to be pulled, Hannibal probably realizes. But as he takes a step forward, as he tries to take a step forward, the long metal pole clicks disjointedly on his right side, the tassel swishing in a circle, and he staggers, like his third leg is not yet an extension but a nuisance to his mobility. In time, it will get better, the cane. It’s new to him. It’s new to them both.

Hannibal limps and Will's brain draws to a halt. His whole world freezes. “What’s wrong with your leg?”

Hannibal staggers again. “You’re changing the subject.”


It was the first time Will’s called him by name today. No, that’s not right. It was the second time.

His voice was upset, concerned, uncertain, and he reached outwards, blindly and toppled, but Hannibal caught him, clung to him, and they almost crashed into the mold-green sofa in an embrace. Hannibal stopped their fall with a hand to the back of the couch, tilting Will backwards lightly until his back rested comfortably on the forgotten plush pillow. The blanket was on the floor. Will didn’t meet his eyes. He couldn’t even think right now.

“It’s not permanent,” Will says to his leg. He doesn’t sound like he’s asking.

“I’m not sure,” Hannibal answers simply and straightens up from leaning over the couch.

Will, tired of his complacency, grabs the corner flap of his black trenchcoat, underneath the larger overcoat. Hannibal raises his eyebrows, but he doesn’t notice. Will's seething when he tells him, “You’re a doctor.

“Yes, and I have limited access to supplies.” Hannibal looks down at the five-fingered grip on his coat, then at his crooked right leg, considering all things naturally. “I’ve felt around and concluded it’s either a severe dislocation or a torn muscle, likely having to do with the gluteus medius.” He tilts his head upwards again, but Will doesn’t meet him there. He’s still staring at the pole, at Hannibal’s leg, gruesome scars and grizzled tissue invisible behind clothing.

“But I don’t have x-ray vision to say for sure, Will. It will all depend on how it heals, and if Chiyoh returns with more medical aid.” Hannibal announces it so simply, matter-of-factly, as though these issues could be chalked up to fate. Like something gone too far between them was bound to happen, if it hadn’t already.

Scars were something. Proud signatures to be seen by all, staples of victory, of revenge and ownership, and also of mistakes, past sorrows, and sadness—a painful kind of sadness. A medal that represented tenacity; you were in the trenches and made it out alive. Will never hated Hannibal, not fully, not truly. But they’d chased each other for so long, that it was hard to remember why they were still running. 

It had always been either life or death for the two of them, no halfways or things in between. This, however…this was something in between. To cripple the born beast so that it would live knowing it may never flex its gripping claws, stretch its powerful legs, and run free again was a fate worse than either. And Will wasn’t sure how to feel about that.

He hears Hannibal sigh deeply above him, eyes tracing his forward frown lines, the wrinkles pushing the skin at his forehead, like he can hear his haunting convictions. “There is no use in crying over spilt milk, as it were,” Hannibal says and smiles softly. Before he pulls back completely, he allows his free hand to come forward, skimming against Will’s temple, smoothing away the tired wrinkles, the worry, and dismay with a careful brush of his thumb. 

Will wants to close his eyes. He wants to fall asleep so he doesn’t have to think about anything. He wishes the world to right itself again, where the hard questions didn’t have to have hard answers. How much simpler the world would be if peace of mind really existed.

Hannibal’s fingers linger over his curls, brushing them away from his eyes before he stands up completely again, or best he can. “Please sit and stay awhile, Will,” he goes and shifts his attention towards the black and white fishing sign, huffs, and steps towards the far black curtains, his right leg completely stiff as he walks. Limps. “I’ve picked a very inconspicuous place to vacation. We can relax here for as long as you’re willing. And as for the curtains, you’ve convinced me—” his tired smirk hurts, “I believe a little fresh air and sunlight will do us both some good.”

Will waits for the sunlight to stab his face. He winces when the curtains draw back, only slightly and yellow beams streak the room. He winces because it was bright, because his vision was still blurry, because it hurt, and because of Hannibal. It was always because of Hannibal.

He looks on at an older man in his hard heavywear, who was growing irritated that he couldn’t figure out how to properly open the back blinds, and Will says nothing else.


Let me know if I should continue a little more on this. Like I said, I'm thinking it'll only be a couple more chapters. I don't usually write these two in a more serious light (granted, they're still cracking jokes), so I find this pretty interesting.

I appreciate any thoughts, ideas, or comments, constructive or not haha. Thanks for reading!

Chapter 2: Offertory


Been a while since I wrote so not sure how I feel about this one. School is ridiculous.

Bathe in more sadness, regardless.

Chapter Text

He feels translucent, like he’s fading. A spectator to his own fate, a spector attending his own cataclysm.

He has no say once he’s tipped them over—in that moment, he’s handed the scissors to the Moirai, who’ve all but been expecting, with their forked hooves, and paws, and claws tangled in webs of needle and thread. He’s taken his torch and tossed it into the sea, and now he stands and looks them in the eye, admiring their surprise while he allows final judgement to pass. Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of our world.

Have mercy on us all. 

He dreams of smashing into the ocean from off the bluff, all three and a half seconds of finalesque clarity to be obliterated by this thundering roar that always follows the fall. It chases him as he free falls down the cliffside and beats him back upwards from the undercurrent.  This roar was his encore—one last hurrah before the finale. And he supposes that would suit him fine, though he still clenches his fist open and closed as he feels for scissors that aren’t really there.

The first time he dreams, he’s alone, and when he tips, he feels suspended on air, if only for a moment of divine hilarity. Experience the transcendental right before the thread snaps and descend into the pit of madness.

He catches movement at the edge of the house before he goes, and his eyes tear away to his counsel of three, to what he believes to be his Moirai in that moment, meant to spin, to draw, and finally, to cut his thread of life.

He sees something prehistoric, something boned, skeletal—with the quick claws of a wolf and the powerful jaws of a bear. It lurks on four legs and waits. Then he looks to the stag, one unfamiliar to him. A tall, broad head with a thicket of endless antlers, a pelt cut from velvet and amber blood with sightless blue eyes. It watches him patiently and intently. And in the undergrowth, lies a serpent, with pale twisted horns, great red wings and wild golden eyes that pin him in place and set fire to his own black feathers. And that’s how he falls, flightless with eyes torn away, and smashes into the Atlantic with a brutal plunk, believing the thread to be snipped at last. Now he rests, a weighted stone that sinks and sinks and sinks further to the bottom until he starts sinking into the flesh of the ground and into molten rock itself. He becomes the salt of the earth from the salt of the ocean. He sees the bold, withering outline of Jack, and the bleeding, blending outline of Alana, both looming above the surface; and then of sirens, and squad cars, and forensics from under the water, growing more clustered as his vision strings shapes together and blurs the silhouettes of the masses.

‘The Fall of the Lamb,’ he hears himself tell them. ‘All of God’s little angels waving as I disappear beneath the clouds.’

The next time he meets the water is with a plop, and he’s light with molting feathers, gravity has turned on its head, but he’s quiet and alone where the entire way down he considers screaming and never finds the right time to start. Because when the tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, it makes no sound, and he likes to keep it that way.

He plonks next and his arms tear off, but he lands enveloped in acceptance shattering the sound barrier. Hannibal’s here at last, and he remains here for the next few falls. But each and every time, Will can’t see his expression; he just feels his arms wrapped around his body, borderline strangulation from how tight the hold is. Their black feathers are restored, but they’re still unable to fly.

The promise of their embrace is deafening, more than the thundering roar from above and below, and the relief in this finality is sanctifying, so much so Will believes Hannibal would righteously quote God and scripture if he could, if not for their vow of silence. 

His head rests towards the horizon now, no longer facing the jagged, jutting stone-faced rocks that flit past his vision as he goes. The whole way down, and a few times afterward, he’s spent considering the moon.

He breaks his neck on the surface of the ocean and jolts upwards into consciousness, wincing immediately at the sudden onset of pain that accompanies rapid movement in his cheek, his shoulder, and his ribs. 

Hannibal, who has been quietly finding a reason to be around Will while he’s slept for the past couple days, quickly sets his book down on its face and goes to pick himself up from the kitchen stool, reaching for his metal cane to which Will immediately grimaces.

“No, no. Sit down, ” Will growls and Hannibal sits and stares, the two of them silent as Will maneuvers his legs over the lip of the couch to where he’s able to brood with his heavy head in his hands. He allows himself to sigh through his wounds before he raises his face and obliterates the coffee table with a scathing glare of self-loathing. “I don’t need your help. I am not your patient.”

He hears Hannibal pick up his book again, flipping to find the page. “I know you’re not, and I don’t believe you to be.” Hannibal folds his limbs together now, legs clad in grey cotton slacks. “It’s called concern, Will. I’m concerned because of your restlessness, your need to be anywhere but where you are, as it may impede your healing process.”

Will gifts him a weighted stare. “That’s hypocritical.” 

“I suppose, if only slightly,” he answers with a huff and purposefully trains his eyes away. “Though can’t you afford me at least a little bit of worry?”

Now it was Will’s turn to look away. “No, I can’t,” and he opens his mouth but says nothing, left unsettled as a syrup-like bile clogs his throat, preventing him from elaborating more. 

It’s quiet again, distantly so; only the gentle hum of the heater in the closed room on the right keeps them from complete silence. Hannibal’s mentioned the adjacent room in passing, meant for him if he ever wanted—complete with washed pillows, a fresh blanket, and a heater—but he’s insisted on sleeping on this dingy green couch because (though he hates to admit) he’s unbelievably sore and (he even more hates to admit) the cotton cream blanket is here so leaving it seems like a disservice after all it’s been through with him already.

He finds himself lost within the herringbone patterns of the fleece and squares his shoulders back to meet the couch, blue eyes drawing patterns on the ceiling as it were.

He knows Hannibal is considering him as their quiet stretches out. Out of the corner of his eye, he recognizes the gentle stillness of his posture. The careful way he tilts his head. He knows him, and his silence gives it away.

“Are you angry with me, Will?” Hannibal asks eventually, his hands moving to set his book down, controlled to lay the cover closed atop the counter this time, bookmarked in memory.

Will breathes in deeply and aborts from eye-contact with the ceiling. “I’m not angry,” he answers, much softer than he intended. Hannibal examines his hands over his lap.

“I beg to differ.”

“I’m tired.”

A pause. “Are you upset with yourself then?”

Will closed his eyes. “I don’t want to talk about this now.”

And he hears Hannibal scoff, his indictment bruising when he comments off-handedly, “When do you ever,” and it was then that Will immediately opens his eyes, finding himself snapped upright, his reaction against insult instinctive, quicker than his brain had time to fathom, ready to fight whatever the hell it is Hannibal is trying to start right now.

“When my brain isn’t spilling out of my skull,” he starts low with twinkling eyes, biting against every syllable. The bandage against his temple and cheek begins to burn. “Maybe by then I’ll have enough peace of mind stapled back together to deal with you.”

“Deal with me,” Hannibal repeats, testing the words on his own tongue like they were acidic and bitter. The chuckle that followed his thoughts were empty and humorless. “You make it sound like I’m keeping you here against your will. A caged animal, is it?”

“Isn’t that what you’re doing?”

Hannibal’s eyes were drawn, distant and naked in the absence of a mask, but Will waited at the ready with a reply regardless. Something sharp, a blow to end the conversation.

“I would let you leave, Will,” Hannibal says eventually and catches Will off guard, like it’s truly that simple. It’s never that simple.

“You wouldn’t have a choice.”

“You’re willing to test that now?”

Silence again, only this time, it’s consideration. Heavy and tangible like a stone thrown into the ocean. Hannibal’s words were honest and his eyes were on fire. This game they were playing. How far would they go?

“You’re not listening,” Will seethes and pinches the bridge of his nose. A slow headache begins to pound his brain, a heartbeat within the confines of his own skull. “I said I didn’t want to do this now.”

You have no choice,” and the force of the comment, a command , startles Will so much that he’s left speechless along with Hannibal in that rare moment of vulnerability, the two of them trapped in time where all they can do is just stare at each other. Until Hannibal picks back up again, “This goes both ways, though you like to believe it doesn’t. You can’t simply expect life to be the way that it was before by ignoring what’s changed.”

“Trust me when I say that I’m probably doing the exact opposite,” Will lies and sits there. “I made my bed. I’m lying in it. I’m just…” his eyes glaze over. “I need time to think.”

Hannibal continues, “So you are a caged animal, forced to live in the hole you’ve dug. Or maybe I’ve dug it. A friend of the worms and ants. Another prisoner, is it? A bat beating its beautiful wings against the iron cell, clinking each time bone meets bar until you’ve exhausted yourself black and blue. To ruin, Will.”

They were both facing each other now, shoulders turnt and eyes scalding. Restless and endless, their suffering. 

Will lowered his gaze and sneered, “Don’t talk about iron cells.” He found his hand clenching at the cream cotton blanket.

“Who better to talk about them with? We’re both familiar with the concept.”

You lived in luxury.”

“I lived in solitude.” A moment taken. “For three years, waiting for you.”

“And I was there two months because of you.” Will barked out a hollow chuckle. “It’s all good then. Balances out.”

Hannibal’s face actually clenches a little, and Will rewards himself the small little victories. “That prison was your past,” Hannibal tries stiffly, tapping his book, “not your future. Certainly not your present.”

“Oh, you made sure of it? Or you’re going to make sure of it? We’re at large but it doesn’t matter as long as we have each other, right? This,” he gestures to the space between them, “isn’t that simple. That’s not what I signed up for when I threw us over.”

Silence, again. God, Will is so sick of this silence.

And Hannibal’s expression withered, and if Will didn’t know any better, he’d have thought Hannibal was a little hurt by that last part. Hannibal quiets his voice, almost to a whisper, and vacantly asks the curtains now, “Isn’t it?”

“Wish in one hand and shit in the other,” Will decides, regrets it, and winces in earnest. “That goes both ways too, doesn’t it.”

He waits for a snark reply, for Hannibal to call back the reference again, to say anything so he can end the conversation and be done with this. But Hannibal leaves him alone and stays mute. Still poised as ever with his hands folded in his lap, a soft grey sweater overhead and light blue pants that match with nothing. He seems softer with his hair tousled, and Will’s known it’s from lack of sleep. He’s known since the first day he’s gotten here. He knows Hannibal doesn’t rest, obediently watching over Will when he sleeps like an angel of sorts. It should be unsettling, but it’s not. And of course, the quiet wincing when Hannibal thinks he’s turnt away whenever Will catches his eye, that’s not from lack of sleep. That’s from pain, and Will can’t look away. He hates looking away. And now…

Will’s tries to meet Hannibal’s gaze from across the threshold, but Hannibal remains absent, his deep and sunken amber eyes on the drawn black curtains a ways away.

And now, Hannibal’s looking away from him.

Will softens his tone, “I let the Moirai decide. I didn’t choose to live, and I didn’t choose to die.” He threads his fingers through the knitted cotton and joins Hannibal in staring down the curtain-drawn window. “I actually didn’t ‘sign up’ for any of this. I don’t know why I said that.”

“Peace of mind is a fable,” Will hears him begin, and feels soft eyes upturned towards him now as Hannibal eases himself in the forgotten beige armchair near the entertainment center, cane against his leg. “Don’t rely on others to make the decisions for you, Will. They are yours to make.” He sighs when he meets the cushion and looks away again. “To still make.”

Will closes his eyes, speaking more to himself now, “I would’ve been fine either way,” he breathes, and Hannibal follows him there before finding the book he brought with, opening the cover to read it again.

Will means it, and thinks back to his dream. How they flew, and how they fell. Live or die. He really does mean it. Either way, he’d have been fine.

He blinks open his eyes and notices how Hannibal is actively avoiding to answer, or a follow-up at least, flipping through his old novel that has a cover so brittle, rotten, and grey the title was hieroglyphic. 

“You can’t expect me to pretend like I’m suddenly free of every burden I’ve collected over the past five years,” Will says quietly now, eyes flickering back and forth between Hannibal’s fingers and the cream blanket. “We didn’t elope and run off into the sunset together. We can’t. This isn’t some fairytale. I pulled us off a cliff. We almost died. I mangled your leg.” He winced and turned away. “We’re anything but free.”

Will hears the book shut. “You know that’s not true.”

That’s the reality. So don’t…” he sighed deeply through his nose, “don’t lecture me on pretending, it’s hypocritical and rude. Projecting doesn’t suit you.”

A dampness swamped the room as Hannibal folded one leg over the other. “Nor deflection, you,” he says without inflection, his tone perfectly simple as he stares straight through Will.

“Deflection?” Will almost laughs and unflinchingly stares right back at him. “No, I’m finally taking aim.” And he tries to look more steady and vain than he actually feels when he declares, “I’m just looking for the right time to shoot.”

But Will forgets Hannibal can be just as scornful.

“You already have.”

Hannibal’s gaze never leaves him, unwavering and still as his eyes traced his face, his ruined cheek, his chin, and then rested wholly and still on his chest. But Will couldn’t reciprocate the gesture, instead, finding himself glaring a hole through Hannibal’s limp leg, slim under the bulk of the blue pants and then to the cane that held him upright.

He froze in time and looked away. “I’m not going to forget everything at the drop of a hat to serve your needs.” It’s so difficult to speak. To look. To see. “You won’t control what the outcome is. You can’t.”

“I know I can’t, as you’ve proven very recently—”

“Your recent words say you think otherwise.”

“...But I do my best to prepare ourselves for every possibility.”

Will shook his head, finally finding it in himself to glance up at Hannibal, to meet his waiting gaze again. “It’s my life, Hannibal.”

“I know it is, Will,” Hannibal answers, and looks somewhere else now, somewhere far away. “I simply wish to be a part of it.”

And for the first time since three days ago, Will is left stunned. All the fight and bitterness that he’d been bunching and gathering into little troughs since the beginning of this debate had left and gone just as quickly as it had taken shape. He feels something shatter and clenches his cotton cream blanket even tighter.

He has no idea what to say.

Hannibal recognizes the mien of absence on his face and smiles painfully up at him, and Will’s heart wretches at the sight, and he hates that he looks away. God he hates that he looks away again.

“Even if you refuse to look,” Hannibal tells him, “I can still see you.”

Will grinds his teeth until it's painful, ignoring the way Hannibal considers him fondly.

“The decision you’ve made only days ago was purposeful. But I can’t help but wonder if you regret it.” Will heard Hannibal pick up the book and place it in his lap. “Do you regret it?”

And he opens his mouth to reply, not sure what it is he’s going to say, but in the end, after all of this, no words come out and he closes his lips again. Instead, he looks away more, to some place further beyond than the midnight curtains or the rusted window that is shadowed by them, or the pitchforks and big spoons that await them wherever, and he closes his eyes and swallows. “I don’t know.”

And that’s all that was said.


The rest of the day was spent working around each other. Hannibal left Will the living room to his own devices and disappeared into one of three bedrooms with the door shut closed behind him. 

Will laid on the old, pine-green couch for a while, back on uneven springs with his feet over the armrest on the other side, toes pointed towards the ceiling while he laid and rested. He wonders now how long he spent there, studying the ceiling with it’s chipping white plaster, little bumps and crevices sculpting stalactites made of dried paint. He feels like he’s been here a while. He knows he’s been here a while when the beams of yellow filtering through the translucent back fabric on the curtains dissipate and he’s left staring at a ceiling he can’t see.

How funny this was, and he’s almost inclined to laugh. Lost track of time again, he muses and urges his creaking body to sit up with a grunt. He guesses this is what the masses call a trip down memory lane, though in his case, he supposes it’d be the opposite of the memory part.

He finds it easier to stand now and tests his luck by jumping lightly on his toes a couple times over, then hops on one foot and almost tumbles, but is satisfied when the acute pain’s no longer searing through his cheek and shoulder, instead settling somewhere in-between around the chest area.

He spares a glance towards the closed bedroom doors near the bathroom. Not the one across from the bathroom, but adjacent on its right. He doesn’t remember Hannibal ever leaving. And based on the state of the kitchen Will ambles in now, strewn pots still stacked in a neat little pile by the dishwasher with a mess of folded papers spread evenly between the two barstools, he’d bet that Hannibal probably never left the room, at least not since this morning.

It’s hard to remember the last time either of them ate a decent meal, he thinks as he’s wandering the tile, the two of them surviving mostly on bread and lunch meats with the occasional fruit here and there over the past couple days. Each and every time though, per usual, there’s at least three different colors on the plate, and every time he was served, on the same hour since three days ago like clockwork, he was handed a fork, a knife, and a smile, left to eat in comfortable silence rather than their usual endless company discussions followed by a reference to religion. He’s curious if Hannibal is capable of pity.

Will runs a hand over the edge of the barstool and notices the lump of keys acting as a paperweight to hold the flittering loose-leafs down. Three silver, one gold a little longer and older than the rest, is fastened on a circle metal chain, and Will graces them with his fingertips, the three silver first and then the gold one last.

Something inside him steers him towards the front door, only an arm’s length away, and to the bronze coat rack shaped like an upside down fishing hook, and maybe he’s drawn to that because of his roots. Whatever it is, he’s tired, and is getting increasingly more upset as he strolls the empty kitchen, and needs to get out of here. A breath of fresh air outside would do him good, wherever outside even was, he realizes with a start. Where the hell even were they?

And so, Will stuffs the keys in his pocket, ignoring the embarrassingly loud jingling they emit, and snags Hannibal’s long black trench coat to throw over his soft fleece T. Then he spots the thick grey pants Hannibal wore the first time Will saw him come through the apartment door and decided to throw those on over his shorts as well. Winter and all that, he rationalizes and shoves his pink socks into polished black dress shoes a size too big. And he swings open the front door, takes one last long look at the upside down coat rack, squints at the feathered maple scarf that waves at him through the outside breeze, and throws that on too.

That’s how he finds himself at some bar at, what is it, around ten, eleven at night now? He hops over a puddle of melted snow and glances up cooly at the moon. 11:30-ish, if he’s trying to be exact. A bar wasn’t exactly his first choice in pit-stop on whatever excursion his feet had him on, but it was a welcome one as soon as he heard the clinks of whiskey and the calls for bourbon or a beer.

He pauses by the open doors and takes a chance to take in his surroundings, the dimming lights of the city streets, the brown-logged bars and their corner shops, birds or coons of some kind sleeping on some telephone poles lined above the highest buildings. If he squinted hard enough, past everything else, he could make out an outline of mountains in the back. The Blue Ridge Mountains, he guessed, by the way they looked like rolling hills from a distance. A different angle, sure, but he remembers the way they looked in Wolf Trap—the closer you got, the more you came to realize that these weren’t snowy hills, these were Appalachian. A sight for sore eyes now, since this is what he saw every time he had to drive to Richmond for the FBI “annual dual-component conference” for “the elected” of the sort.

So Hannibal chose more urban. And somewhere Southern at that. He smirked and entered the pub. He’d know because he saw two Food Lions on his way here.

He’s at the end of the bar with only a seat to his left. It’s funny, because in the pocket of Hannibal’s trench coat is a pair of tinted sunglasses, so he decidedly wears the pair before seating himself at a chair. He wonders if Hannibal knew he’d have flown the coop and planned for rations since there’d be no way Will would’ve come prepared to face the “new world.”

A bartender takes a cloth to his spot and dunks a mug under a nozzle. “What’ll it be?”

Will didn’t look up. “Whiskey. Any’s fine.”

The bartender, an older gentleman with dark grey hair and a long faded scar over his eyebrow, stalled as his eyes flicked up to Will’s temple-bandage, to his painfully conspicuous sunglasses, but he followed up with nothing else and immediately disappeared from Will’s peripherals. 

Will’s elbows finally meet the table and he lets out a breath he didn’t know he’s been holding, melting into his seat, into his hands and this peace he suddenly feels, recognizing it as an abrupt stab at normalcy. 

He twists his chin and allows his eyes to wander, past the two to his right, beyond the empty window and the gold-handled door. He allows his mind to follow, slowly as it goes, his sailboat of thought suspended distantly over an ocean of black tar, its little hills rolling like waves, bumping and scraping against each other with the kind of hurry you expect to find elsewhere, anywhere but the sea. Will doesn’t feel in a hurry. As he listens, to the waves, the clinking bottles, wet coughs, and Billy Joel telling him “Only the good die young,” he glides, goes where the wind takes him, and finds his peppered shot glass within arms-reach, filled barely halfway with what better be at least 115 proof.

Billy Joel repeats himself, louder now, like Will’s not listening, and the bar sings in rounds on its chorus, so Will finally gives up, swirls his glass, and adds, “Yeah, because the bad ones are sentenced to life,” before tipping his head back to let the tar burn a sticky trail all the way down his throat. 

His eyes find spots then on the melting plaster above, perhaps where stars are peeking through, and it occurs to him with a sudden stroke how lackluster the ceiling is, how plain and blank-faced it stares back at him, and how small it makes him feel. So he winces as though it’s personally offended him before falling forward in his spot, flipping the shot glass upside down and raising his finger for another.

He should be more wary of his surroundings, of the straying looks to his right, the hidden meanings between the words, the waiter’s words, the bartender’s words, Billy Joel’s words, considering they’re both wanted men and really shouldn’t take apparent normalcy lightly. He swirls his second finger now, considering the light amber sap as it kisses his corners, whirling into a thickening vortex. Will’s actually not sure. How the story was spun, with its discolored yarn, its flaxen thread, that is. 

Wo, wo be unto the inhabitants of the earth,” a latent warning quoted from a movie replaying in his mind, and Will turns an ear to listen. The voice rises like smoke from the floorboards, engulfs him—proud and full.

He sees empty bleachers, rows and rows of students bumping and scraping against each other to huddle up against a steel-framed box-radio, all quiet as the broadcast replays ten years later again over some news channel in the 90s. He’s in college, he thinks, and blinks and is transported.

And he beheld Satan,” the box drones now, warbled and contorted with static. He sees pencils flying quickly. He doesn’t need notes.

And he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.” He sees Carlos Asay as he speaks through the radio, slow-spoken and purposeful, wearing big-brimmed glasses with a black tie and a priest’s cassock that leaves a bleeding trail as it drags. He sees Carlos, his deliberance, the spoken-word—but he hears a tease in-between the phrases, some wicked nuance, and the rising baritone of endless delight. He hears his dream, and he hears Hannibal.

Will squirms in the front row, and apologizes to the person on his right for bumping their shotglass.

The chain held by Satan is referred to in the scriptures as ‘the chains of hell,’” Hannibal quotes now, “'the bands of iniquity,’ ‘chains of darkness,’ and ‘the everlasting chains of death’. Such chains are used to make us captives of the evil one. Normally, they are not thrown over us suddenly or in one single act.

They start as flaxen threads and encumber us habit by habit, sin by sin, and strand by strand, ” Will replies and nods at the bartender, taking hold of his third full glass.

And if not cut and cast off through the process of repentance, they can become heavy chains and the awful ‘snare of the devil,’ so said Timothy.” Hannibal waits. “And us? Where do we stand, Will?”

Will shakes his head, swirls his Whiskey. “You can’t stand at all. Not with that leg. Not anymore.”

He hears Hannibal huff. “If our earlier disagreement was anything to go by, I argue we both have trouble standing. Following your accusation, both physically and metaphorically.”

“You’re deviating from the script.”

“That I am.”

Will takes two fingers to split between the bridge of his nose and lets out an exhale. Slow and final, long enough you’d think he was a man with the world on his shoulders. Sometimes, he allows himself the title of Atlas, just for therapeutic self-loathing purposes, and takes another sip of a now-empty shot glass.

Hannibal says nothing as the bar joins Billy Joel for a broken rendition of “Piano Man” now. Will’s lips lift slightly as the tables are pushed closer and the cheering grows louder with each passing phrase. He joins in halfway to sing in a Danish accent, “Will, I believe this is killing me!” and chances a glance to his left to find Hannibal had gone.

“Long night?” sounds a voice to his right, and it’s drawn, Southern and light. The ceiling lowers a few inches and Will leans forward in his spot, left twirling an empty glass on his own again.

“Long life,” he replies, to his classmates, to Carlos, to Hannibal, and to Billy Joel, who’ve all left him here in his sailboat on the sea.

“You want something stronger than Whiskey?”


“That was me offering to buy,” she suggests now and leans a little closer. “Anything you set your heart on. Except the top shelf.”

“I’m not interested,” he supplies, a little more slurred than he intended, and makes it a point to not even look at her.

She found that somewhat of a hoot. “That’s funny,” she laughs and falls back in her seat. “Trust me, I’m not either. But I know an old soul when I see it, hence my gesture. Alcohol makes a friend out of anyone.” She makes a waving motion over her face like he’s looking. “It’s your eyes, I mean. Behind the sunglasses. You’ve got that thousand-yard-stare look about you, not quite here, not quite there. Like you’ve been through hell and back. Don’t get to see that look a lot on the younger ones.”

They’re playing Piano Man louder, Will thinks, and ascertains that this is the reason Hannibal left.

“I’m thirty-eight,” he says eventually, just because he was getting sick of the staring.

“And I’m forty-five. Don’t look it, though. Something we share in common,” she smirks and turns back towards the front. “Anyone younger than me is a younger one. All babies of the homeland in my eyes.”

“But it’s better than drinkin’ alone,” Billy whistles at him and Will takes a sip, his glass magically refilled. He sincerely hopes he brought enough cash.

“You’re not from here, though.” And she takes his silence as confirmation, nodding. “You’ve got the drawl, subtle though it is, but you’re more Western. You Louisianian? Lafayette?”

“For crying out loud, Laila,” booms an older, rougher voice further down the bar, “leave the boy alone. He’s not here to have a conversation.”

Laila called back, “You’re just jealous. I’m being friendly, not poking him with a stick. He don’t have to answer anything he don’t want to.”

Will doesn’t hear her.

“Laila, if the world worked like that, we wouldn’t be sittin’ here.”

A man who has been through bitter experiences and traveled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time, Will recalls reading in Hannibal’s study, some lifetime ago.

“You have the Odyssey,” Will remarks. “Not the Iliad?”

Hannibal smiles down from the second-floor landing, and then considers the weathered umber book in Will’s hands. “Not for the public eye, but I do own a private collection. Some of my favorites are there, old ones and new. You’re welcome to them, Will, and I would be more than happy to show you, were you ever curious.”

He remembers Hannibal’s Iliad, translated by Alexander Pope in 1719, golden-stained (loved), bought two weeks ago at the Capital Collections Auction in Rockville, so said the tag. “Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” He imagines Hannibal’s low rumble, but it was Achilles that said that. Actually, he didn’t just say it—he proclaimed it.

“Let the kid drink his Whiskey and rest in peace,” Henry coughs, calling the bartender over for two more bottles with a wave.

 Will waits for that day still, for the enjoyment of life to gut his sufferings, to shoot, saw, or swallow them, as even Death denied him that sense of peace. More times than he can count.

“Y’know, he’s not dead, Henry,” the woman broods now, her voice coming back to invade Will’s ears and the man on her right throws a scoff in the other direction.

“He’s gonna be by the time you finish talkin’ at ‘im,” Henry folds and waves what’s probably a beer bottle in his peripherals. “Give the boy a breather. He’s not dead yet, but he sure as hell looks like it.”

“And say ‘Man what are you doin’ here!’” The bar cheers and laughter erupts from the crowd.

“Now don’t get ahead of yourself. Drink any more of that and you’ll find yourself right beside him. If he’d die now, at least the kid’s got a pretty face.” She takes a moment to frame Will with her fingers, and Will lets her because the photo isn’t real.

She then turns to Henry, “How you are now, Tommy Boy, you look like a ripe and roasted pig in a blanket.”

He’s tipsier than he intended to be, and feels Hannibal smile, so he smiles a little at that one too to keep him company, and peers just enough to his left as the conversation floats away, finding the lonely bar chair vacant and his shot glass painfully empty. He finds himself lingering over the spot in a haze so decidedly blinks and turns, beginning to fish into his pockets for cash he knows Hannibal would have "left" him.

Laila clinks Henry’s bottle, “Fat guy in a little coat~”

“Rather die comfortable than purdy,” Henry tells to whoever now, and with a grunt.

“And that’s prolly why half the town looks like you. Damn shame, is what it is.”

Will, groggy and impatient, as alcohol usually likes to emphasize, threw a twenty and ten over the bar and called it even, pointing to the cash as the bartender glanced over at his spot and held up a thumb.

But of course, as soon as he stands up, closing his buttons with surprising ambidexterity, the lady on his right shoots up to quickly join him.

“Hey, hey—you were enjoyin’ your peace and quiet ‘til we came along hollerin’,” she tries and Will ducks his head, patting his pockets for invisible keys. “We’ll get outta your hair. No need to leave.”

“I was heading out anyway,” and Will finally turns to the two of them, nodding at the space in between. He doesn’t care to study their expressions, and partially lies, “Appreciate the company,” where Henry waves his beer and Will turns to leave out the swinging doors.

“Hold on!” he hears hollering and ignores it, holding the door open for a little old lady with a walker, who thanks him with a ginger smile that he tries to reciprocate and turns away.

“Wait a minute!”

“Wh—Laila!” Henry groans and calls after her, “Sit down Laila, where the hell you goin’?”

Maybe it was the breath of fresh air he needed, or maybe it was to get away from the people, from what felt like a return to normalcy. It could even be because he’s half-drunk, pink-cheeked with wistfulness and almost steady-footed with confidence, but whatever ‘it’ was, it felt nice to close his eyes and exist out here. Like he wasn’t Atlas for a change, and that tomorrow, he’d head to the Academy but end up back in his house, piecing together an old boat motor someone left dumped off of Swinks Mill with his six, now seven dogs lolling about his room. He hears his phone ring over eleven times and finally answers it on the twelfth, sliding it over to Winston sprawled in front of him, who squints a little bit so Will has to lean over and show him. “It’s for you,” he explains, and sits there smugly as Jack’s voice tries to howl over Winston’s.

The blanket of soft snow protecting what was probably downtown was picturesque, a brittle winter wonderland saved for the sacred few that braved the moors this late. Though he can’t help but feel that the effort was somewhat wasted, and finds his eyes following the cloud-like mountains behind them all. The snow, that is, since it’ll probably melt overnight.

“Hey!” and Will glances over his shoulder.

It was the first time he’s actually looked at someone since being here. Someone from here, anyway. And of course, it’s the woman from the bar that called another guy a “pig in a blanket” that led both him and imaginary-Hannibal into silent hysterics, if he wasn’t there already. 

Longer auburn hair, taut, tanner skin with a tight smile and pointed eyebrows drew her countenance. A little shorter than he is, and wearing what looked like his old cotton blue fishing jacket, actually. She looked like a therapist but spoke like a mechanic. “Never caught your name,” she tells him, and he trains his gaze to the shadowed Blue Ridge Mountains in the back.

“Don’t take it personally, but I’d rather it stays like that.” 

“Alright then. Will we be seein’ you around?”

He paused at that and answered with a distant smile. “Hopefully not.” And then turned around and went away.

Chapter 3: Sanctus


Hello, hello. I love this melancholy shit. And sadness! So much sadness. I had to split this chapter into two because it ended up being way too long (I'm hoping to keep each chapter around 6k words), but I hope you enjoy it regardless.

Happy suffering!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

It was well past midnight when he left the bar. Damp, defeated, and profoundly distilled in his agitation by both company and liquor, Will is aggrieved to learn that his traitorous feet and his legs, body, and head that follow were steering him back towards the direction he came. He’d hoped to stay out a while longer, maybe until dawn, watch the sun spill over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the silent city whirr to life, but his intentions and his reality were locked in odds right now, and nature over nurture was unfortunately winning by a generous lot.

It was unsettling and admittedly freeing to sit second-seat and simply do for once rather than think, though. Where his mind wandered in its weary half-drunken fog, past the corner’s lamppost, the first and second Food Lion, petting the stray cat probably infested with fleas, and then away down the low corridor and through the dismal alleyway—his body just led them home.

Will laughed a little to himself while he walked. “There’s no place like home,” he jeers and smirks at a squirrel that winces at him.

He took a second to find himself at the front entrance of the dark three-story apartment complex, rubbing his right eye as it spasms, shoving the sunglasses he forgot to take off into the trenchcoat pocket, fishing out the key ring in the other. It’s funny how okay with this he feels. How easy it is for him to come back. To propel his way through some push doors, stumble up the emergency stairs, kicking up muck and snow that were plastered to his dress shoes as he goes. To wander through the long hallway and then down the next. There should be some sort of signpost that marks where the individual apartments are. Something that announces on what side the tens sit, then the twenties, where the thirties are in the back and the forties are on the other side. There’s not, and yet he still finds himself on the second floor, steering through the corridors without breaking stride, only stopping when he trips over an obnoxiously yellow ‘Welcome’ mat with a sunflower on it in front of a faded grey 222.

Will giggles a little at it, to himself mostly, before jamming the key in three times before realizing the door’s been unlocked the whole time. He wonders if he should take a moment to consider what it is he’s going to say before he enters, if he should say anything at all. Or if he should just return to his triple-cushioned green couch and pretend there was no fallout afterall. That they were fine and everything was fine.

You can’t simply expect life to be the way that it was before by ignoring what’s changed, is what he hears answer to that.

Will wants to strangle him.

A strange air settles over his shoulders when he finally ends up staggering in through the ancient front door. A weighted blanket of sorts, but an uncomfortable one, almost suffocating like he can’t shake it off. This feeling dips between his ragged breaths as his heartbeat slowly begins to rise and his smile falls into an anxious frown. It’s a sickly feeling, whatever this misplaced urgency is, clammy and bone-dry at the same time with the alarms in his head firing off without any reasons as to why. It only worsens when he gets halfway through shucking off his square-toed shoes, a subtle glance to the black and white fishing sign and then over towards the bathroom and notices the steely wooden door at the far end of the hall was standing still and wide open. The one that Will’s never seen open before in his three days here—the one to Hannibal’s bedroom.

Garbage and debris is littered all over the carpet from what he can see, a winding trail of sheets, of clips, pencils, broken glass, and shattered carvings leading to the parts of the room he could not. There was a pink sock at the end of that trail, just one. The keys fall from his fingers and into the mouth of his right dress shoe at the sight of it. A million thoughts cross his mind then, but it’s his legs that move before anything else. Just a pink sock was all it was—a strap of fuzzy wool, a foot clothed in its armor, but it was motionless, lifeless, toes pointed to the ceiling with the leg it was attached to out of sight. It was enough for Will to break into a half-sprint from the door, his beanie and scarf flying off in the process as he rounds the corner of the bedroom and grinds to a halt in front of Hannibal, breaths hoarse and chest heaving as he does.

He takes a second to register Hannibal sitting on the ratted blue carpet, his legs stretched languidly out in front of him with his back and shoulders set square to the footboard of his bed. Immaculate posture with an otherwise uninjured form. Hannibal glances up at him then, under his tired grey flyaways and his gold-carved lashes, deliberately long and mild with an air of preposterous chutzpah around his sanction of trash and littered things. They lock eyes from across the threshold and it’s only then that Will realizes how heavy his own breathing is.

Yes, Will wants to strangle him, but he instead lets out the ragged sigh he’s been holding, barely toppling when his knees nearly give, and winces as his right eye starts twitching again when he straightens.

He wants to strangle him. He wants to throw his arms around him. He wants to hold him tight and never let go.

Before Hannibal has a chance to open his mouth, however, Will says, rushed and low: “What the fuck ” from his spot in the doorway. He thinks he’s bristling from adrenaline with the way Hannibal openly assesses him, gauging his midnight capacity for conversation with just his eyes, scanning everywhere but his face.

Hannibal smirks up at the dark-tailored fleece around Will’s shoulders. “Did you forget your coat?”

“Why are you on the floor?”

“Why are you not?”

Will squints manically at how Hannibal sneezes into his sleeve afterward in the case that he missed something here, but takes note of the unfiltered smiling, the garbled words, the subtle swaying, and the half-baked color to his usually pure amber eyes and has to do a double take to come to terms with it. Because the signs are there—he’s seen it before, hell he’s felt it before. Actually, he’s feeling all of—he glances over to Hannibal giggling on the floor— whatever this is right now, just more unbalanced and less giggly.

“Are you…?” Will takes a deep breath like he himself can’t believe it. “Are you drunk?”

Hannibal lingers a little to his right, mumbling something under his breath, and Will has to inch closer to hear him. He’s now staring a hole through his pant leg, and after a minute of dead silence, Will thinks he might’ve actually fallen asleep in that position until he swings to his left and rolls his gaze to his fingers.

“No,” Hannibal rumbles, hands smoothing down his crumpled white dress shirt. “I’m on pain medication. Vicodin.”

“So you’re high.”

Hannibal closes his eyes. “I’m sitting on the floor, Will. I wouldn’t consider that high.”

In his stifled disbelief, Will lets out an involuntary snort through his nose because he honestly can’t believe this is happening and considers this whole situation more than unbelievable. But smiling anyway, he finds himself easing into a squat before Hannibal, elbows on his knees as his eyes trace the pale features before him for any abnormalities in a serene moment of private observation. It’s a miracle Hannibal is made of solid rock and even more-so that he keeps his eyes closed. Small mercies.

“Did Chiyoh come by?” Will hears himself ask, moving to make room so Hannibal could lay his hands across his lap.

“No. I am still waiting to hear back from her.”

“Where’d you get the Vicodin then?”

Will places a palm over Hannibal’s damp forehead before he could stop himself, Hannibal seemingly unphased when he replies, “The kitchen cabinet. I’ve had stores of aid saved for medical emergencies—prescriptions that last for a while, but not forever. It would be a shame to let the medication expire.”

“You feel hot.”

That earned him a mild smirk, eyes still closed. “Should I say thank you?”

Will raised an eyebrow, then both, and chuffed, a half-smile teasing teeth behind his lips. He shouldn’t laugh, not really. They’re supposed to be fighting, or at least at arms with each other. This felt like cheating, his fingers over Hannibal’s furrowed brow, skin on flushed skin pulled taut over his forehead with fingers freely mustled in strands of stray hair—soft to the touch with a gentle thrum behind closed eyes, it reminded Will that Hannibal was alive and so was he. They both were, in this loop of time, and Will carefully drew his hand back to his side and waited. What for, he didn’t have a clue.

A long moment passed, and so did another, gaze raking once over and back again, before he finally realized he’d been staring unbiddenly for a while now and so eased into the space on Hannibal’s left with a low grunt, sprawling his legs out in front of him with his back and head rested against the bluewood footboard. He kicks off the left dress shoe he didn’t get to leave at the door, watching it end up flying backwards behind them and disappear into the navy-burnt bed. Will ignored it in favor of nestling into the lapels of his black trenchcoat, shutting his eyes with an inhale deep and an exhale deeper so he could simply breathe and just be.

So here they lay with their backs to the end of the bed and their fluffy pink socks curled towards the ceiling. Will wiggled his toes and so did Hannibal. Then Hannibal stretched his heel and Will answered with the same.

“How’d you get on the floor?” Will says eventually, pointing his toes to his right. “Really.”

There wasn’t an answer at first. Will would’ve let it be, he’d like to think, and they’d sit here forever. Hannibal might’ve passed out again, was a consideration of his, if it wasn’t for the hands Will noticed he had folded together, trimmed nails digging into either side of his knuckles, first red and then stark white. 

Will blinked and let the moment pass, voice deathly quiet when he asks, “Did you fall?”

Hannibal let out a sigh. “I descended.”

Will smiled ruefully and chanced a glance to his right, a choke of sadness washing over him in a wave of grief. Hannibal still had his eyes closed. “Are you okay?”

“It will pass, as all things do,” Hannibal replies after a gentle pause. “Grudgingly, but eventually.”

Not all things pass, he wants to tell him. On occasion, the glaciers collide with the icebergs, and one is ripped apart while the other slows to a halt in between the ice. Time sleeps—it stops and they harden, they mold, and they never move again. He’s lucky his face remains opaque.

Will trains his gaze frontwards, towards the wall, through it and beyond. “I wish you would’ve told me,” he whispers, and feels Hannibal turn. “That it was that bad.”

Limbs shift beside him, and Will lets a sigh pass through his nose.

“What could you have done?”

“There’s a pharmacy up the road,” he’s quick to share with the wall, less-quick to share with the pink sock. “I could’ve used the thirty for that, gotten you some painkillers, Aspirin. I would’ve worn the sunglasses.” He adds, after a moment. “The ones you left.”

His head spun in a tiny little circle as he lay with his legs bowed. Even with his shoulders against the backboard, he finds himself swaying back and forth. More sailboats, more open water.

He doesn’t realize what he’s said until it’s out there, attempting to still his head bobs until Hannibal makes it a point to very obviously stare at him from the side.

“Did you drink, Will?” He goads with a rising smile. He has the gall to act surprised, though it’s a deliberate half-truth in good-humor. Will doesn’t even give him a glance, tilting his nose upwards.

“I think you know the answer to that.” He squints when his eyes find another lackluster ceiling, but it doesn’t keep him from smirking. So he does, again, and widens it when he finds Hannibal smiling at him too. How lovely a thing sorrow can be, and how beautiful it blemishes the skin.

He looks at Hannibal’s face, the dress shirt tucked into his silver sweatpants, then at his own matching pair, the snow sweater, grey cargo pants, pink socks too, and wonders what it would be like if the FBI found them like this. Joint inebriation on the stained carpet of some dime-a-dozen apartment complex in the South. They’re both wearing the same color clothes where one of them is in another dimension while the other’s on his way there. Freddie Lounds would think it’s hilarious. Jack, on the other hand, would not.

There’s a fists-width hole on the far back wall that he spots when he finally looks back at the open door on passing, too low for the door handle, but too high for an animal. He stares at it in an attempt to either plaster it up or make it bigger, whichever one telekinesis allowed, and wishes he was in that other dimension already, just so he could leave his thoughts and be somewhere else.

“Did you descend into the wall, too?” He can’t help himself to ask, nodding to it like it’ll move if he doesn’t. He blames the alcohol, whatever ends up coming next.

“No,” Hannibal breathes next to him. It’s waxy, almost unreal when he does. “The wall was not an accident.”

Will nods again and lets his head loll this time. It almost finds Hannibal’s shoulder, but ends up inhaling the breath of the room the next time it swings around. It takes him two seconds to find the bridge, the glass and garbage strewn, the things thrown, a fist through the wall, and it’s not him, or at least he doesn’t think it’s him, that crosses this line they’ve been so careful not to tread over since the course of his stay here.

“Did you think I wasn’t coming back?”

Will hears his heartbeat in his ears, a pulse in the arm that rested up against his. They’re both alive, he tells himself.

“I considered it,” Hannibal tells him after a long time, his voice even but not unkind. 

Will thinks he’s getting more drunk by the minute instead of less.

“So the thirty and sunglasses,” he tries now and the heartbeat aches behind his eyes. “That was for a bus ticket.”

 “Or a taxi. Whichever you preferred.” Hannibal sounds exhausted when he adds, “Whichever was quickest.”

If the FBI did find them like this, Will would have it coming. He’d stayed away by virtue of a toss-up at self-preservation, like if he didn’t look, it wasn’t there—if he ignored it, then it wasn’t true. If he paid for drinks with a mysterious thirty in his pocket, that’s what the thirty was meant to be for. If he took a leisurely night out on the town, then they weren’t both on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. If he looked at Hannibal at face value right now, the gentle smiles he’s come to know and the acts of service through food, bandage changes, fishing signs, or how he finds his cotton cream blanket always soft-to-touch and smelt fresh of Downy dryer sheets, then that’s all there was to know. That he wasn’t in pain, that the leg was only temporary, like he’d said, and that the Vicodin was a one time thing. All things pass, apparently. That he smashed any object within reach, tore off the sheets and trashed the room in a quiet moment of vulnerability, a moment where he had believed Will had left him, and punched a hole in the wall not because he was scared and wounded, but because he was this great big beast that acts on impulse, and adrenaline, and lives to do nothing but sleep, eat, and kill? He can’t die, and he never will. See? Saying it like that sounds ridiculous. 

Will turns in his coat, only remembering that it was Hannibal’s in the first place when he lifts up his palms and looks at them for a while. The calluses are fading, and so are the scars from jutted rocks and seastone. And he turns and turns in the trenchcoat and can’t get comfortable so folds his palms over his eyes when the right one begins to twitch and sting again.

“I wasn’t serious,” he hears someone say, only realizing that it’s him when he feels rather than hears the quiver tremble his voice. “About earlier, I mean. About leaving.” His hands pull down. “I’m sorry.”

Actually, it was Hannibal that pulled his hands down, to his chest, and then to his lap to huddle there. Deliberate, but as gentle as can be. “And I apologize for yelling,” Hannibal answers honestly before retreating back to his own space to resume his quiet vigil, his eyes open this time. “I don’t know what came over me.”

“I don’t regret it,” Will tells him now and he can’t believe he’s saying this. “I know I don’t.” He breathes a laugh since his mouth is sputtering and spewing the depths of his mind anyway. “Hell, I wouldn’t have orchestrated your escape if I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Hannibal actually sat up for that one, raising his eyebrows so far above his head, it just made Will laugh again.

“It’s different, admitting it out loud. Feels like I’m breaking a Commandment. Or ten.” He chews on air and grits. “Man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another. As if none of this was real until this moment. I’m willing my transgressions into existence, now that I’m uttering them aloud. It’s…liberating.” He chances a glance over his right to mimic Hannibal’s open wonder, raising an eyebrow of his own in some sort of odd equilibrium. “It’s also easier to bleed my heart out to you because you’re high and I’m still half-drunk,” he snorts. “There’s a sort of cheap commonground to be had there on a bed of drugs and liquor.”

There’s a look of honest pride in Hannibal’s bleary eyes that swells Will’s heart when they peer at each other from the side for a moment. Like Hannibal wants to touch him again, his hands, his neck, his face, but doesn’t know if he’s allowed to. It catches Will off guard, to be so taken by the honesty, but he just laughs to himself and sways a little more. Okay, ‘half-drunk’ is definitely not right.

“What better place to be than here, in the moment itself.” Hannibal’s voice is higher and lighter, more tonal now. “Be it drugs, liquor, or the filthy carpet we lie on, the domain of our concessions is rooted in evolution. You’ve evolved, Will. Your personal growth has set you at a standard above.”

“We adapt to change,” echoes Will. “That’s the nature of evolution.”

“Adaptation to change does not necessarily breed evolution,” Hannibal replies naturally.

“Then the opposite is true as well.”

“Without persistence, we die?”

Will feels a snort escape his chest under threaded fingers and Hannibal only rewards him with a long-lasting smile that pinks his cheeks.

“Something like that.” He shrugs and dips to his right, jutting an elbow into the arm that bordered his. “You’ve evolved too.”

Hannibal chuffed in response. “Because of you. It won’t be long now until we’ve become a foreign species entirely.”

“I think we’re already there.” He waits a moment before raising a hand to gesture to Hannibal’s body. “You look like you have four arms,” he slurs, and counts the two standing strands of hair on Hannibal’s head. He then takes another moment to consider how insane he must look, notwithstanding how insane he feels, and almost topples over on his trip to Hannibal’s shoulder. “I should really lay off the Whiskey.”

They both end up turning to glance at each other at the same time in equal parts disbelief and a look that calls bullshit, the two of them trying and failing to look serious where they end up falling into a pit of helpless chuckles before swaying back to meet the footboard they shared.

“We probably won’t even remember having the bulk of this conversation in the morning,” Will announces now.

Hannibal only nods, “That’s something to be determined in the morning.”

He doesn’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, to forget. There’s a comfort in knowing that whatever he lays on the table can be chalked up to murmurs made maunder by alcohol if he plays his cards right. Murmurs of truth, is what he really means—the stones that sit in his chest that he has trouble voicing because lucidity is an awkward headspace to navigate and he’d much rather be in the other dimension.

“Hey,” Will blurts quickly, treading across that line again before it’s too late. “I don’t want to live like this.”

He doesn’t know if Hannibal is going to say anything to make him elaborate. Live like what, Will, he might be thinking. Or maybe he already knows what he’s thinking. God, he always knows, and yet, he remains stagnant and stone from what Will can see, still as a guardian statue to a tomb with his posture immaculate and his face otherwise unscathed.

Will doesn’t care if he’s listening or not. “Hiding away. I feel…small. I feel trapped. Look, I—” and he falters, his fingers threaded under the trenchcoat, searching for a warm fleece blanket to hold onto instead. That’s why I left, he winces, and went to the bar. And considered not coming back. But he doesn’t say it out loud. 

I thought of you, though. 

He blames his numbing lips this time, contemplating if that was an effect of alcohol too. 

The entire time. Does he really want to do this now?

Yes, fuck this, he’s doing this now. 

“You need to understand that I’m not afraid of getting caught. It’s not that. I’m not afraid of confronting… whoever again.” He sucks in a breath. I’m afraid of… “I’m afraid of,” because he wants to say this part aloud: “normalcy.”

There it is. It’s finally out. He doesn’t look at Hannibal, and he doesn’t feel the need to. He takes a deep breath because he feels devoid of oxygen in his lungs and he feels, no, he just knows Hannibal does the same.

It’s finally out there in the open air, mixing with all the words that have ever been spoken, and it feels great. Liberation, right? Vive la révolution. His ancestors would be proud. 

So he takes the feeling in stride, the fog of his mind clearing by the second, and he runs with it. “I’m afraid that once we settle, once we’re finally out of the smoke and we get comfortable,” he starts, listening from the outside to words that don’t even feel like this own, “the minute that we drop our guard, one of us is getting shot in the head and the other is going to be dragged to Baltimore, half-blind from the blood spatter, to spend half a century in a holding cell the size of a closet.” 

He takes a moment to spit out a hollow laugh. It’s a wonder why everything is so funny today. “We’re mediating honesty, right?” he goads, gesturing to the space in front of him. “I’m afraid you’re going to be shot in the head, and I’m gonna have to live in a self-created hell all by myself without any sharp objects in my vicinity to off myself with because I’m strapped to a table for the next forty years or so.”

He doesn’t laugh this time, the sea of his mind is near-crystal when he continues after a pause, “Alana will be there, Jack will be there. So will the press, Chilton, and Freddie Lounds.” He’s no longer smiling. “But you won’t be, and I don’t think I can handle that.” Actually, he embarrassingly believes he’s on the brink of passing out when he chokes the next part, hiding his face away in his hands and knees as he breaks. “God, I can’t even handle the idea of that.”

Confessions should be rewarded with either absolution or damnation, says natural law. He doesn’t know why he stalls for either. His brain is mud. His thoughts are jumbled. He wouldn’t even know if he was saved or tossed into the ocean. But he awaits, with his head heavy in his hands all by himself, in this thirteen by thirteen room with peeling white walls and a low melting ceiling, for some sort of signal or sign on what to do next. To be lifted off his hands and feet, to be left at the bedside alone. For something. For anything. So even in the darkness of the crook of his arms, when he feels a brush of fingertips against his trenchcoat, he doesn’t flinch. When the whole hand comes to nestle against his spine, rubbing a languid line across his back with the ghost of nails barely there, he doesn’t move away. His breath catches, and he sobs into his arms once or twice, but he’s still there.

“L'amore è composto da un'unica anima che abita due corpi,” Hannibal lulls above him in a long breath of words, almost singing to him now. “E quando uno di loro incontra l'altra metà,” he says, and Will lets him go on, “la vera metà di se stesso, i due si perdono in uno stupore d'amore, di amicizia e di intimità e non si perdono di vista nemmeno per un momento.”

Will opens his eyes and uncurls himself from his body. Hannibal’s hand still brushes over the trenchcoat on his back, back and forth, sideways to the shoulder and down again by his torso. A simple gift, with no greater meaning behind it other than for what it was at face value—to let him know Hannibal was there, drugged, but still present in the moment. Will lets his head rest back against the board and exhales through his nose. “I don’t know what that means,” he tells the ceiling eventually.

“And I don’t want you to know,” Hannibal replies with an easy smile and fixes his tired eyes on the hole in the far wall. His hand still scratches Will’s back. “Essentially, Aristotle and Plato say we are conjoined through the very essence of our souls. Two bodies and one breath.”

The darkness of the room seems to settle around them, a blanket to curl up their necks and into their eyes, wrapping them in a cocoon of warmth, comfort, and home. Hannibal continues almost dreamily, “Even us two, who defy most prosaic convention, cannot deny the red string of fate of whom wraps itself across and around the span of all its living things eventually. The string itself is eternal and cannot be cut, and it can never be unwound. It can coil around our necks, or rest nestled between our fingers. We could be lost, on opposite ends of the world, or in another dimension entirely, and the thread would still hold us tight.”

His expression is hidden in a shroud when his warm gaze casts over Will. They both are weary. “I worry for you as well, Will. I worry for your health, your mind, body, and where the string has tied itself to you. I worry endlessly and often.” Hannibal takes a breath, “But a life spent stagnant, considering what could happen is squandered waiting for perfection rather than enjoying what’s not.” Will looks at him then, though Hannibal is turnt towards the wall with a cheerful twinkle in his eyes, tired though they are. “You and I will not lose each other unless God himself set fire to the thread that binds us both. Wherever you go, I will follow. And wherever I may lead, I will not leave without you.”

Will’s eyes are now drawn forward, at less of a distance and in less of a haze than they had been in before. “You and I are stuck in a hellish synch of reciprocity,” Will tells him evenly. “Ceaseless and unyielding in its pursuit.” He takes the moment to close his eyes and another to refocus on the hole in the far wall. “There’s an honesty to be had in the red string of fate, in the tug. Could even be that there’s multiple strings, drawn taut over bone, different ropes of different colors of varying lengths. Winding lines of reel that bend and loop down every possible path only to all end up in the same place eventually. I admire that honesty, that fate is indefinite, inescapable, and all roads lead to Rome, essentially. Maybe all roads lead to Hell, I don’t know. At least here, in this dimension, in this space and time continuum in whatever universe we’re in, I know all roads eventually lead to you.”

He knows he’s rambling, but he can’t seem to help himself. Hannibal is silent beside him for once, and it’s not often he gets this opportunity. “Sometimes I feel my strings are plucked, pulled, and squeezed until they snap,” he shares slowly, “and other times, I hear a song played in a choir over all of them. Maybe it’s not bone the strings are drawn over,” Will closed his eyes. “Maybe it’s the heart. You could be killing me and not even know you’re doing it. Who knows—maybe you already are. I wonder if I die, if the string tied to us both kills you too. If it snakes around your neck, squeezes until the breath escapes your lips, ties your wrists and your legs so you can’t move a muscle. It would be chalked up to fate, your death,” he says again and opens his eyes. “It was meant to be,” the whisper leaves his tongue and he looks over to his right.

Hannibal’s eyes are carefully shut with the back of his head against the mellow blue footboard and his hands rest folded atop each other in his lap. The soft noises that escape his nose are as good an indication as any other, along with the relieved furrow of his brow and the light smile on his face, that Hannibal had truly fallen into a peaceful sleep. Will leans forward then and huffs fondly, considering using his speech-revelations sparingly if Hannibal’s just going to doze off next time he tries. With the way Hannibal’s ashen face flushes pink around his pointed-cheeks and at the edge of his nose, smoke-tipped hair fallen over his forehead, crinkles around the eyes, chin upturned towards his left with lips slightly parted, Will wouldn’t mind if he fell asleep like this again. Maybe they should do drugs and drink more often.

Hannibal’s head inched only a fraction closer to Will’s shoulder in his sleep, but Will couldn’t help himself and before he knew it, he was reaching out with fingers that acted on their own, the tips tracing Hannibal’s soft blond eyebrows, the right and then over to the left, pausing there for a moment to take in the picture before them with a lingering start. Will takes over then, drawing his hand down the side of Hannibal’s face, still warm to the touch, tracing over the jutted cheekbone before dipping under the earlobe to caress the side of his cherry red ear. 

Hannibal still doesn’t stir, which makes Will all the more bolder. He twists his fingers lightly in the hair that touches the tips of his knuckles and reaches out to take more of it, carding his fingers and eventually his whole hand through a short wild mess of blonds and greys, up through the strands and to the scalp. It’s prickly almost, but only the ends are pointed, where the top and sides feel like felt, silky and lush, but frayed and brittle at the ends. 

He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s doesn’t know why he’s doing it. He tears his hand from Hannibal’s scalp, but remains in place at less than an arm’s length away. It’s then that he flexes his hand, taking the time to curl his thumb around his fingers into a fist, gripping his palm and squeezing it tight, remembering the hole in the far wall as he does. He repeats this maybe three times or more before glancing over at the folded hands in Hannibal’s lap. From his point of view earlier, Hannibal had immaculate posture with an otherwise uninjured form, he had said. Now he slumped with his head lolled near Will’s and snored silently through his nose, and his right knuckles were a blatant spectacle of chapped skin and dark ruby ribbons.

Will grimaced and took hold of the hand, laying it in his open palm, bringing his other to Hannibal’s forehead. Still hot, he thinks and finally eases himself up from his spot. His right eye seers with a bleeding pain when he stands, the right side of his body achingly numb from sitting, but he pushes through and shakes it off, only gripping onto the bed rail for a maximum of three seconds.

The next part was difficult. With Hannibal conked the hell out on the ground, Will had to hoist him upright into an awkward half-hug, clasping his own hands together under Hannibal’s arms and around his back so he wouldn’t fall, and then lift and drag all one-hundred eighty pounds of dead weight across the floor and around the bed.

He’s surprised he wasn’t as winded as he imagined he’d be and knelt down on his knees so that Hannibal wouldn’t fall on the bed springs and then bounce off the mattress and onto the floor again. It does, however, take an effort to maneuver Hannibal’s long limbs into a tidy line, which he finds he has a fun time figuring out, as Hannibal, limp and completely out cold with his mouth half-open, is currently sleeping on his back like a vampire in a coffin. But in a funny mismatched sort of way, it suits him and Will smiles just a little bit as he pulls the snow-white comforter over Hannibal’s chest and up to his shoulders, taking the time to also drape over a checkered navy blue cotton blanket he thinks he’s seen before found folded at the edge of the bed.

He stands there and goes to fetch some first aid, but not before smoothing away the strands of silver stuck to Hannibal’s forehead, quickly retreating into the bathroom next door when he finally came to his senses.

It was simple, cleaning the star-shaped wounds with water, dabbing the excess with cotton balls, wrapping the gauze around his knuckles, and it feels familiar and pleasant so Will takes his time doing it. When he’s done, he likes to think he’s done for good, so puts away the first aid, comes back with a hand over Hannibal’s forehead, sighs when he feels it's cooler than before, and heads out the bedroom door, ignoring the scattered beanie and scarf to retire to his ugly pine-green couch in the sorry little living room he called home. 

But he lingers there, beside the coffee table, and waits. What for, he’s still not sure. Whatever it is, though, he can’t blame it on the liquor anymore. He’s definitely flushed most of the whiskey out of his system—talked himself to sobriety, as unfortunate as that is. And fortunately, Hannibal talked himself to sleep—which he snorts at and relents, because Jesus he just can’t help himself.

So he dumps the black trench coat over the arm of the old mold couch, snags the second barstool chair from the kitchen, the one without the papers, and drags it all the way through the corridor, past the bathroom, into Hannibal’s dim-lit bedroom, and sets it down right at his bedside, where he climbs into the seat and just sits there with his legs folded together. He sits there and folds his arms together too, and wonders what he’s even doing. And once again, why he’s even doing it.

Hannibal hasn’t moved from the spot Will put him in, body still with his back braced against the mattress, poised and quiet on his back with the barest glint of fang seen through the bow of his half-open mouth. He looks dead, if it wasn’t for the rise and fall of the navy checkered covers. So Will will sit vigil over him, in case he does die in his sleep, perhaps in the same way Hannibal had sat vigil over him these past three days. Six days, if they’re counting the boat as well. Will still has yet to ask about that.

His eyes wander. He still has yet to ask about a lot of things.

Despite being more than sober now, Will feels a little dizzier than normal, even sitting on a barstool instead of standing. He understands that his vision has been getting worse lately, and the alcohol probably didn’t help much, but this is beyond what should be considered standard. Light is somewhat sensitive now, and the brightness near burns his retinas to ash. Everything bleeds together, seeing out of his right eye alone, and he tests this theory by closing one eye and opening the other. He never did need a prescription for glasses. Not really. Now, though…this was getting bad.

Will considers this is the damnation he foretold, or guessed would be inevitable. And he laughs on his tiny little barstool, in this tiny little room, next to Hannibal’s tiny little bed because it is somewhat ironic considering what he does. What he did. What he saw, and sometimes, still sees, especially in his dreams.

Blind in an eye definitely doesn’t sound too enticing, but considering what he’s done…he frowns at the ceiling and then at Hannibal, who smiles back at him with closed eyes still sleeping. What he’s done to Hannibal’s leg—maybe he deserves it.

And if Hannibal did eventually kill him, be it by plucking his heartstrings or by consuming him whole, he’d deserve that too. He wonders if that would be the end of their entangled red string of fate. If that’s just simply destiny—if it was just simply meant to be.


Here’s essentially what Hannibal's Italian said (or at least I think it said): “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of sight of the other even for a moment.”

Thanks for the kind words everyone! Really keeps me going!

P.S—I changed my username from honeysmaxks to shimber.

Chapter 4: Sequentia, i. Dies irae


Hello, everyone. I apologize for the significantly long wait, half a year to boot, but I finally have this at a good place. The way this part of the story is going to be split up is into four parts, this title being the first. As the next chapter is almost completed, I don't imagine the wait for it will be as long as this one haha.

Hope you enjoy the read and good luck!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Will wakes up half out of his mind and almost falls out of the barstool he evidently fell asleep on.

The headache that absolutely beats his brain and threatens to bust out his skull is deafening, and he has a hard time feeling for his surroundings through the gritting and wincing in order to gauge what time, what year, and where the hell he was. But he manages to flutter open both eyes, the right one still having a hard time adjusting to the thin streak of sunlight threatening to brighten up the room, and re-adjust himself on the brown-cushioned barstool chair beside Hannibal’s bed, straightening his back, rolling his arms without them really going anywhere. It’s then that he feels the blanket around his shoulders.

He blinks. And it’s the white cream fleece one. And he blinks again, because oh shit, Hannibal’s bed was empty and pristine-looking, the comforter drawn and the navy blanket folded, which means he not only eventually got up and made his bed, but he probably saw Will on the barstool completely passed out and draped his comfort blanket over his back while he was sleeping.

He wants to throw himself in a closet when he takes a hand to his face to scrub away the exhaustion and embarrassment of it all and feels for what’s most definitely dried and wet spit smeared across his lips, cheek, and chin. Forget the closet, maybe he’ll just go for the cliff again. 

Will takes a deep breath through his nose, hugging the blanket one last time before tearing it off and folding it over the crook of his arm, leaving the chair where it was before flattening a palm to his white T-shirt, his grey pants, and then to his hair that’s surprisingly mustled in every which way possible. He doesn’t even know how that happens, but smooths it down anyway with an audible groan. How unbelievably mortifying this all was—he doesn’t think he’s ever been so awkwardly caught off-guard in his life—but considering he barely remembers past the time Hannibal told them they were conjoined, he should probably shut up about surprises since bad hair could be the least of his worries.

When he considers himself moderately composed and more-or-less presentable, Will braves through the threshold of Hannibal’s room, baby blue carpet now tidied and spotless, and to the bedroom door, which he finds closed and has to open to leave.

He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t uneasy for what comes next. For what should or could come after what Will sincerely hopes wasn’t some kind of…confession last night, whatever that entails. He stops with a hand to the edge of the doorframe, placating his twitching right eye with a few healthy swears in an irritable mumble. No, I was drunk but still sane, he tells himself, says it again just so it sounds believable within his own head, and forces himself upright. Somewhat sane, at least. 

When he steps through the barrier, across the edge of the carpet to spotted wood panels, or when he lifts his heel-heavy walk to the balls of his feet, carefully stalking into their shared open space, he doesn’t know what he’ll find. It’s the prospect of not remembering, or rather not knowing that feeds his unease like a tumor on the back of his neck, adhesive invisible under the sweater collar, suffocating him slowly from the inside-out. He tries to keep his head down to his ugly green couch, he really does, but as soon as he shuffles across the living room and spots Hannibal in the kitchen, he stops dead in his tracks and can’t help but stare.

Hannibal’s back is facing him, but he’s wearing some sort of velvet shawl, which hilariously looks like a Roman toga from this angle, with his hedge-trimmed haircut looking more tidy—fluffier, cleaner, and his cuffs curled neatly around his elbows, forearms baked in some kind of powder, fingers pressing against hot oil-spritzing pans where a stray splash catches his cheek and an unbitten smile wears at his face. The gauze Will had wrapped around Hannibal’s right hand last night was still there, blatantly so—and from what he could see, wholly untouched since. For someone who redos their own stitches because they're not perfectly parallel, it was touching to see Hannibal had kept his bandage-job. It made Will smile. 

He looks good. Healthier. Brighter. It’s the first time he thinks he’s seen Hannibal genuinely happy, not just content with circumstances or at peace with what will or won’t happen. Will feels the bubbling unease melt and die away, a bloom of warmth spreading through his chest to take its place. And God he really just can’t help but look, can he. That really was one of his problems. Hannibal was always so magnetic, a force of gravity, a whole planet’s worth of pull—with his uniquely angular bone structure, his low-curling accent, and the dark shadowy glow that peaks the edges of his autumn-colored eyes—and Will, after spending days treading on broken glass around each other, feels the tug and finally allows himself to follow it, glass be damned. 

He wades over to the ugly green couch, tosses his cream blanket over the tattered arm, and crawls into the remaining barstool chair that sits at the counter, eyes tracing and following Hannibal as he easily moves back and forth within the kitchen, as if they were transported back into their old lives, free of all ailments—to a time before.

“Good morning, Will,” Hannibal says without turning around. His head was tilted upwards, inhaling what Will hoped wasn’t sour sweat and leveled nerves. Instead of feeling self-conscious, however, Will drapes half his body across the counter and rests a hand against his cheek.

“Mornin’,” he mumbles back.

Hannibal’s eyes were honey-colored when they peaked at him from the stove, brighter than the usual amber, more crinkled around the edges, and the smirk he wore was embarrassingly contagious. So much so that Will decides the stack of papers strewn across the counter are far more interesting to consider than Hannibal’s reclaimed freshness. 

Hannibal sees this and happily hums, “I hope I didn’t wake you. If I did, I apologize. The tower we were building with the dishes in the sink finally collapsed and alerted the authorities in the process.” He tapped a spatula to the pan. “They will be here to pick us up in ten minutes so I opted to make breakfast in the meantime.”

“You didn’t wake me up,” he tells Hannibal now, who just smiles and moves to the sink. “And I didn’t hear any falling dishes so I think we’re safe at least until lunch.” 

“Excellent. That means we can enjoy breakfast in relative peace.” 

Relative,” adds Will on the off-hand. If Hannibal caught any implication in his tone, be it by Will’s wandering eyes or the way he did his best imitation of a statue immediately afterward, he politely mentioned nothing and just smiled instead, reaching for a nearby fork to scrape the bottom of the metal pan with. Will doesn’t know why he said that. Said it like that. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing. All of this feels weird.

“It smells like you’re making eggs. And pancakes,” he tries, forcing himself to sound more cordial and curious. Which he is, especially because Hannibal is cooking in the kitchen again, but when Hannibal gifts him a raised eyebrow that calls his tonal bullshit from over the counter, Will thinks, Screw it, and elegantly slumps in his spot.

“Frico,” says Hannibal pleasantly, “a Friuli peasant dish born from recycled cheese rinds.” He tilts the pan towards Will so he can see, tracing the edges of what looks like a wheel of burnt cheese with his finger. “It may look like a pancake, but is made of potatoes, onions, and Montasio cheese. All is fresh and homemade of course.” Fresh and homemade. Will twists the words over in his mind, searching for some kind of ‘in’ on a well-placed secret jab, but warily finds nothing and trades an easy glance with Hannibal. “Traditionally, we would pair this dish with a red wine and eat it either as an antipasto or as a later snack in the evening. But I saw the ingredients all bundled together and couldn’t resist making it for you now.”

Will planted his elbows on the corners of the counter, head in his hands as he considered the way Hannibal left him there after a moment between them to whirl about the kitchen. He wore a loose-fitting sweater now, patterned with yellow stripes and tucked cream edges; behind the flowing velvet robe, of course. Strands of hair were swiped back from his face, and though he wore no apron, a ghost of one followed him as he commanded his station, cracking eggs with one hand while absently setting the oven timer with the other. Without the metal cane propped up against the dishwasher, it was like peaking backwards in time—to before, where they stood shoulder to shoulder after he’d “killed” Freddie Lounds, Hannibal trimming the meat and him chopping the vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, and ginger, only separated when Hannibal left to mess with the radio dial.


Hannibal had beamed back at him with something like fond indulgence. Fauré.

Will presses his fingers to his bandaged cheek and shoves the fluttering feeling away. “Did you go somewhere?” he asks, gesturing to the fresh food, the new fruits piled near the sink.

Hannibal’s careful eyes met his own over the counter and for once, Will didn’t look away. “The farmer’s market,” he starts and holds up a palm when Will’s eyebrows immediately raise. “ Very briefly before you argue with me. I went looking for remedies and food essentials and immediately returned no later than an hour after I left.” Hannibal turned back around to flatten the batter against the pan, the potatoes and cheese-mix crackling a sizzle sound under the rubber spatula. “I am always careful. Cane aside, it’s much easier to blend into the crowd without the accessorial glasses, mask, and large hat.” It doesn’t matter. Will holds his breath. “Hiding in plain sight is the best disguise afterall. You forget that I’ve had extensive prior experience.”

“Don’t,” he begins slowly and sighs deeply through his teeth, “Don’t go out again. Not now at least; experience or not. I’m sick of reminding you that you’re not invincible.” 

Hannibal paused to argue, “I hardly believe th—”


His right eye sings sharp of erosion and disease as though it’s been stabbed with a fork and left to rot; he winces so hard he breaks the skin where his fingers are pinching, holding onto dear life. He hates feeling like this—dead-eye be damned, the hollowing in his chest as though his feet have been taken out from under him was much worse. The mere idea of Hannibal being caught by just horrible coincidence, thrown to the ground, or even worse, shot and sedated, separated from….he feels like he’s said this before.

Will tries to hide best he can by trembling in his spot and swallowing his breaths, repeating to himself that this is anxiety, the anxiety is talking and that they’re safe, they’re okay, they’re gonna make it, they they they… it’s a small mercy that Hannibal keeps his eyes trained over the stove, his lips softly flipping upwards along with the pancake. “Then I will refrain from leaving the premises without your permission if it worries you so much.” He finally turns over his shoulder with a smirk, but by then, Will had effectively masked his desperation. “I hope you’ll return the favor?”

Crazy how startling the returning blossom simply relieves the hole in his chest; Will couldn’t help but feel his heavy frown lifting just a little. “Only if I get ¾ of that freak-o,” he replies easily, leaving Hannibal to squint by himself before Will huffs and gestures towards the sizzling pan.

“Ah. Frico.” Hannibal searches for a clean plate, shooting a glare at the fallen tower in the sink. “Lighter on the ‘i’. Bounce the vowels. Frico.”


Hannibal pauses searching completely, blinking back at Will with what looked like slow-to-go, genuine surprise. “You sound native-born when you put effort into it.”

“Italian is close to French. And I was in Florence too—I picked up a few accents.” Will closes his eyes and rests against the back of the barstool. “I just like giving you a hard time.”

That gets a sigh out of Hannibal. “What a menace you are.”

“Well I aim to please.”

With his eyes closed, he felt it safer to smile, even if it did stretch his stitches a little. Only when he heard the shuffle of silverware and a clink of glass being placed in front of him did he open his eyes, a half-crescent of charred cheese, potatoes, and vegetables with a garnish of parsley on his plate. Will points to the parsley addition and Hannibal shrugs, turning back to the sink now with a good-natured smile.

“Thanks,” Will tells him before he reaches for the silverware and catches Hannibal’s eye.

Hannibal watches him take a bite. “My pleasure.”

I’m sure it is, he thinks with a roll of his eyes and lets warm food grace the back of his throat, one bite at a time.

You know, he forgot how much he missed this. Maybe not so much the weight of everything that came with it, but he’d be lying if he said Hannibal’s food wasn’t some of the best he’s ever tasted. And, even on rations, this… Will poked at the cheese pancake and made a face when it sighed back at him, thing, weird-looking though most of his dishes are, was no different. Maybe, if he finds a fishing rod, he’ll make Hannibal something with fish. Someday.

Hannibal was staring at him with his back leaned up against the sink, messing with a hand towel buried up to his forearms, and when Will eventually called him out for it, a cocked eyebrow and a tilt of his head, Hannibal only chuffed and returned to his station at the stove, leaving Will to smirk around a spoonful all by himself when Hannibal’s gaze was safely averted. 

There’s a newspaper folded on the counter, partly conspicuous under a stack of strewn looseleafs. Will doesn’t immediately spot it, the better part of him ignoring its presence in his peripherals on purpose. But a clipped “H” caught his eye midway through another bite of the cheese wheel, and before he had a chance to finish breakfast, the whole fold of paper was in his hands.

This wasn’t a Freddie Lounds article. There weren’t any snide jibes, no funny titles, no go-arounds or jabs at Will just because. This was real.

The newspaper was thick, the whole front page, titled “Breaking News: Cannibal Serial Killer on the Loose,” was littered with small text and spoken sources; opera goers, musicians, and doctors who’ve claimed to really know “Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the Chesapeake Ripper.” “Lawyers plead for ‘worst of all killers’” stands out as significantly larger and blockier font than the rest, directly headed under the “Defense is Canned” subsection. Luckily, there’s no mugshot, just a cropped image of the BSHCI. Probably Chilton’s copyright on Hannibal the Cannibal, and everything that goes along with it. Small miracles.


“You do know I was born with a name,” says Hannibal breezily, taking a sponge to the dishes in the sink. “Several, in fact. According to tabloids, I’ve also adopted a few others.”

Will stabs the front page with his finger, directly over the winding paragraph regarding “Gruesome Affairs” and drops his fork in the process so Hannibal turns to see over his shoulder. “Where’d you get this?”

Hannibal regards him curiously, with a raised eyebrow that predicts exactly where Will is trying to lead him. “I found it at our doorstep,” he answers quickly, turning away so Will has time to grab at the words for what they mean.

Will feels like he’s been shot as all the air leaves his lungs. His heart drops in his chest, eyes widening with a dawning realization, one that involves yelling, gunfire, a thud. With his whole body prickling in thrumming anticipation, he eerily rises from his chair, bracing himself against the counter with white knuckles and wildly scans the kitchen for the knife block.

Hannibal saw this and set down the sponge. “It was left on everyone’s doorstep,” he chimes with a hint of amusement. “I honestly doubt the FBI would bide their time by playing such an odd game of chicken.”

Wouldn’t put it past them, he’d like to say (because it’s true), maybe even take up arms with the very few sharp ends they had available, but he forces his nerves down his throat when Hannibal, who was leaning easily against the counter, found his troubled gaze with his head tilted in a sort of gentle, Trust me on this, kind of way, and so Will took a moment to regather himself, let the adrenaline whittle back down, and heaved himself back into the barstool chair with a much-needed sigh, folding a hand over his eyes. This paranoia bullshit is going to drive him insane.

Hannibal went about the kitchen unfazed, best he could without his cane. “Though as far as captures go,” he muses lightly, “I will say that the approach is one I’ve never even considered—and would unwittingly be well-done on their account, perhaps even successful. If we are taken under those circumstances, know that you are free to berate me the whole car ride back to Baltimore.”

Behind the palms to his face, Will ends up breaking facade as light chuckles leave him at the absurdity the image paints, brief flashes of what would’ve been, and what still could be, he reminds himself, flitting behind closed eyes.

Alana is there, four armed escorts at her side in the back of the van. She’s in a well-fitted suit, sharp blue with a white undertone. The frown on her face is magnificent. Hannibal is in his velvet robe, Will in his sweat-stained T. Both of them are chained in their old masks, one smiling the other not.

“An unfortunate game of chicken afterall,” Hannibal would say.

Guns would draw and Alana would slowly raise her hand when Hannibal leans over to Will, rolling his eyes as he does.

“Next time there’s a newspaper, remind me to use the peephole before retrieving it,” and Will would struggle not to laugh.

He pulls his hands away from his face when the boiling-over (smothered) hilarity leaves him and they’re back in the Southern apartment, Will at the counter with Hannibal leaning against it. He takes one look at Hannibal, a long look at himself, and finally says, “And you are free to never speak to me again if we’re arrested looking like this.”  He gestures to the both of them when he says this, so when Hannibal grandly swivels around with two floating eyebrows, the offended expression of: Whatever do you mean? blatant on his face, Will is overcome with the need to just take a picture of the two of them to simplify the point. Hannibal is wearing some sort of long velvet robe brandishing a soapy sponge with a knitted hand towel over his shoulder and Will, who tries to run a hand through his hair and gets caught on the first few curls, can only assume he looks and smells like he’s just woken up inside of a dumpster. The fresh drool stains on his shoulder don’t help his case. “I also can’t remember the last time I took a shower,” he adds unfortunately.

“I hardly see an issue with what we’re wearing,” says Hannibal in all seriousness and makes it a point to flaunt his robe like a cape when he spins back towards the sink. “Have you considered you may just be allergic to having your picture taken because you believe you are not photogenic? Which is completely false, might I add.”

“Allergic?” scoffs Will. “I’m not even sure what to say to that without swearing.”

“Oh, are you allergic to swearing now too? The pollen must be insufferable if that’s the case—I’ve always considered profanity to be one of your inherent trademarks. As are flannels,” Hannibal adds.

It’s January. “It’s mid-January, and wow, it’s not the pollen that’s insufferable.” With Hannibal turnt at the sink, Will takes a gentle moment to consider all things fairly, gaze resting on the back of Hannibal’s head as he stacks dishes. “You’re a lot more…upbeat than you usually are,” Will tells him, and wonders why that is.

Hannibal doesn’t turn around, just continues scrubbing plates, passing them to the right side of the sink and repeating the process. “I’m in a good mood,” he answers eventually.

Will contemplates pushing, asking for a better answer, to give him something else to go off of, a hint of what changed, how it changed, but some part of him already knows the answer to that. Something about last night, that happened last night, and of course, it was something he barely remembers. The knowledge, or lack thereof, squirms inside him like a tapeworm, wiggling itself around his organs and up his esophagus, growing legs to crawl around in his throat. He doesn’t like not knowing, but considering Hannibal was also not exactly “sober,” Will can’t imagine it to be anything too…elaborate.

Will cracked his neck and turned back to his now-lukewarm food. “It’s not about being photogenic. You know damn well why I refuse to get incarcerated in pink socks and spit in my hair with you on my right masquerading in some medieval bathrobe and a spatula in your hand.”

Again, Hannibal said nothing, so Will glances upwards to meet an expression so dead-panned, you’d think someone just spat in his food. “Victorian,” Hannibal corrects with a dignified sigh. “Belarusian cloth embroidered in the 19th century. I have two stored away in every one of my houses just to be safe. I believe I’ve worn the grey one for you before.”

“You look like a housewife.”

“Then that would make two of us,” Hannibal replies easily and Will immediately raises both his eyebrows for emphasis because what does that mean, and Hannibal, with a cheerful set-down of his sponge and slung-over towel, takes hold of his cane and shuffles out of the kitchen into the bathroom closet, his dressing gown following him close behind. Will watches him as he does this, and when Hannibal pops his head back out of the bathroom, he’s holding up another flowing robe—same style, same velvet material. Except this one was a blaring blue, dark like the sea. “Or perhaps you would consider yourself the opposite, a categorization of your own—a Homemale.” Hannibal looks to the robe and then back at Will. “The tiny sidekick: Flatboy.”

Wonderful. “Lovely. Now it just sounds like you’re straight up insulting me.” He cannot believe Hannibal got him a matching robe (yes he can) and very blatantly ignores the way Hannibal is currently considering him like he’d be offended if Will didn’t put it on. “As long as I wear the robe like a cape and it’s longer than yours,” Will amends, “that would make you the sidekick. Per Batman and Robin rules.” He leans back against the counter.

Hannibal huffs and limps into the living room now, folding the robe over the beige armchair. “Are we Batman and Robin?”

“Mm…more-so Wifehouse and Housewife. Actually that’s not much better—makes me sound like I can transform into a brothel at will.”

“Quite the imago. But there are worse transformations, I imagine.”

“Oh yeah?”

“None that come to mind right now.”


Hannibal smiles so softly, and then eases himself into the armchair with a long exhale. “Bearing in mind the state of this…what should we call it—ah, a hobbit hole, I argue you could be considered a hobbitwife instead. With there being two of us, we could be hobbitwives together.”

“Or Wifeholes.”

“Hole-wives,” Hannibal follows thoughtfully.

Good God. That one broke Will and he snorts, chuckling at the wall while Hannibal did the same.

“I sometimes wonder why God gave us the ability to speak,” Hannibal starts now in mock-seriousness, clearly aggrieved at his own vulgarity, but smirking nonetheless. “It was clearly a mistake.”

“A grave one,” Will answers mildly, folding his arms. “It’s a shame he isn’t here to take it back.”

That got Hannibal’s attention. “God is gone?” he asks, newly intrigued.

Will looks to him then, in his haughty Victorian robe and smoothed-down grey hair, and very nearly smiles. “He created the world as a well-oiled machine. Wound it up and watched it go—let nature take its course into whatever direction it leads.” Will’s eyes wander to the black and white fishing sign, to the drawn curtains, and then back to Hannibal’s cane leaned against the chair. “He doesn’t interact with his creations and never has. He’s been gone for a while now.” 

“If nature is the end-all-be-all to life and death, then God has left for a reason. No doubt a consequence of you and me.”

No doubt. “We’re what’s natural? Seems like everything is somehow a consequence of you and me.”

“Naturally.” Hannibal thought he was funny with that one, Will could tell by the little quirk of his lip. Kind of duck-like whenever he does that, Will thinks, and opts to stare at the TV away from the armchair. “All capes and holes aside,” Hannibal says now, “I rather like this robe. The color is a welcome rarity in my already limited wardrobe.”

“Yeah. It matches.”


Will gestures to his own face, but doesn’t look at Hannibal. “Your eyes.”

“Ah.” Will could just hear the absolute grin in his voice. “By your logic then, if taken how I am now, my printed mugshot, which they’ve chosen to neglect in this edition,” he nods to the newspaper, “would look quite distinguished, considering I would be matching. If there is only room for one of us to be photogenic, then it appears you may have to leave the hobbit hole indefinitely. You have my permission, of course.”

“Seriously.” He shot Hannibal a grimace that he hoped was severe. “Don’t go getting ideas.”

But Hannibal, as always, is on his own agenda anyway, so why even bother at this point. Nonetheless, Will still appreciated that he had the grace to at least look nonplussed with a hand held over his heart. 

“I would never.” Would this face lie to you? Hannibal was saying and Will shook his head with a roll of his eyes, Yes, in fact, it would.

“Besides,” Will starts, easing back into the barstool chair, “forget getting arrested; I hardly think we’re restrain and detain material anymore. Shoot-on-sight with a rocket launcher is more like it. The right to remain silent. Forever.”

Hannibal hummed in agreement. “No doubt our Uncle Jack has had enough of us now, seeing as he’s resorted to using a rocket launcher. Grown tired and weary of the chase,” he muses and adds, “of the solo rescue mission.” There’s a significant pause that follows, a moment taken for consideration, a lick of the lips, before Hannibal decides to speak again, deliberately now. “Years from now, when you and I are far away, do you think he would still come to look for you?”

Now there’s a thought, is the first thing that comes to mind. “I think he’ll always be looking, even when he’s given up. He’d want to see me,” Will stutters with a half-laugh and sighs when the possible trains of consideration all collide into each other. “Or maybe he’s seen enough of me.” He then goes on to add, “Though I wouldn’t be able to exactly plead ‘damsel in distress’ anymore. I’d be older, with grey hair, a cane…” he trails off when his wandering eyes decide to grace over the metal pole and tassel gracing Hannibal’s leg against the armchair. 

Half that prophecy is already fulfilled, one of the two of them already meeting two requirements. They’d both be older though, more wrinkles, especially around the eyes and jawline. The couple strands of silver in his hair already at least promises that he’s not going to be bald. Will would have to help Hannibal walk, if his leg never ended up healing correctly. Up stairs, back down again. Outside, down the streets, away from prying eyes. Maybe that’s just his destiny, for causing the leg situation in the first place. It was simply meant to be.

He suppresses this severe line of future-thinking with a brief image of those food store motorized wheelchairs instead, trying to make himself feel better about the “leg” prospect by imagining Hannibal zooming around in one of them. It does, briefly help, (Hannibal is literally running people over in the cereal aisle), and so Will hurriedly tags on with a humorless chuckle, “All that ideally with a sun tan,” like he didn’t just picture some kind of painful future where they grew old together.

Again, always on his own agenda, Hannibal smiles in his Cheshire-like fashion across the room like he knows something Will doesn’t, and Will can only lean back and hope Hannibal doesn’t hear his thoughts.

“I don’t think I’d be able to pull it off,” Will announces thoughtfully, watching Hannibal gradually lift himself from the armchair, grab the cane, and make his way back over to the kitchen with small steps. “But who knows—maybe we should update our disguises anyway. To appear more…in distress.”

Hannibal huffs as he passes Will’s space at the counter. “You would look very beautiful in a dress, damsel or not.”

“And you would look very ugly in one,” Will fires back as he feels the heat rise to his cheeks. Hannibal raises his eyebrows with his hand gripping the counter for balance, and Will makes it a point to flick his eyes to the long-flowing vermillion robe. “Matching or not,” he adds.

Hannibal’s the first to break into a light, hiccup-y kind of laughter and Will, who can’t keep his eyes off the back of Hannibal’s head as he detaches himself from the counter to wade through the kitchen once more, finds himself following the same, his breath leaving him in quiet warm gasps as he brings a hand to his mouth to hide his all-teeth smile.

Will likes to imagine that this is what it feels like to be somewhat happy. The rancorous ocean that’s been in and out of his ears for what seems like years now, when it’s only been a couple days, is finally retreating for the first time, he feels. Is he in pain still? Hell yes. Notwithstanding last night’s visit to the bar where he is currently suffering from a mild hangover, his shoulder hurt to roll, and the inside of his cheek was constantly on fire. Not to mention the eye, but that can always be bagged for later. But in the spirit of anomalies, he feels more at peace with himself than he did half a month ago, surrounded by people who knew him, hunting through mountains of profile-paperwork on the Red Dragon, toasting to a “happier world,” Jack had boomed, that existed without the famed and free Chesapeake Ripper. 

That seems like a lifetime ago, that feeling. Today, in this life, the only physical thing missing are his dogs, which he will one day rectify. And last night’s excursion was less-so a step forward, but he feels like he’s getting better. He’s not all the way there, and doesn’t imagine he’ll be there for a long, long time, but he’s on the path that he’s supposed to be on. And isn’t that what counts?


His spoken name dragged him out of brief daydreaming. Will glanced up from where he’d been staring lost within the speckled pattern of crumbs over the counter, meeting the gentle, and yet fading smile across the room, and Hannibal turned his head back to fiddle with pans at the stove.

“I’m going to take a trip to the Charlotte Street Animal Hospital down the road,” he says.

And that brief sliver of hope, that warm sensation of possibility in Will’s chest, achingly dims just as Will’s smile did, and the confused, squinted lour that replaces it yanks at his stitches. “What? Where is this coming from?”

“I believe I’ve mentioned before,” Hannibal answers quietly, cracking an egg over the pan, making breakfast for himself now. “As of early this morning, the supply has dwindled to almost nothing, which is why I went to the Farmer’s Market seeking aid, though I came back with little luck.” 

Will’s having a hard time processing all this, stunned for probably a beat too long, and Hannibal cracks another egg. “The very few things Chiyoh was able to bring us the night we came here have long since been used, and I’ve been unable to get in contact with her since.” The sizzling in the pan grows too loud and Hannibal caps the top with a lid. “We’re left floundering in the sea with salt pouring in our wounds.”

“Hold on,” Will finally goes and holds up a hand, absolutely baffled. “So you’re going to an animal hospital? It’s not that simple. You can’t just walk in and demand medication.”

“Yes, I suppose you would know.” Hannibal tilts his head over the stove and smiles. To Will, to himself, who even cares at this point. “I imagine the problem would be made easier if we had one of your dogs. Perhaps I could speak with Mrs. Komeda—”

Will immediately interrupts, “This isn’t a joke.”

“I’m not trying to be funny.”

“You’ll be instantly recognized.” He can’t believe he even has to verbalize this. “Granted, I don’t know what picture they have up of you on the news and the bulletins, but I doubt it’s exactly subtle. You said it yourself: the country’s bearing pitchforks. God only knows if someone so much breathes your name, there’s Jack close behind.” 

And behind Jack, the Navy Seals, the National Guard, the Green Berets…probably the fucking president and tax collectors, while we’re at it.

Will grits his teeth at the way Hannibal seems so unbothered by the shit that’s just pouring out of his mouth, and very nearly chucks a plate at him when Hannibal closes his eyes and sighs through his nose.

“Yes, dear old Uncle Jack,” Hannibal muses serenely. “Admittedly, a confrontation now would be inconvenient, but not unwelcome. You haven’t seen the news yet, have you. Freddie Lounds has quite the cult following—so much so that she has worshippers across the globe claiming to have seen us, or different versions of us. The FBI is and will be in a frenzy for quite some time.”

“The news doesn’t matter. And I don’t give a shit about Freddie Lounds we’re not seeking out Jack.” 

Hannibal considers that with no great weight. “Y-e-s, which is why I don’t intend to visit Charlotte Street during the usual hours.” Apparently, he was getting tired of this back and forth too, given away by the smell of burnt eggs on the stove.

“So, what, you’re gonna sneak into a family-owned veterinary hospital? For medical supplies designed for animals that we’re gonna hoard for ourselves?”

Hannibal only scoffs. “You make us sound like squirrels ravaging for winter.” A moment taken. “No, not hoard. I will only take what is absolutely necessary.”

“I told you I could go to CVS or a Rite Aid for whatever you need.” Will senses his tone rising, his ears heating, and can practically feel the sneer on his face, the desperation in his voice. “Pills, prescriptions, bandages, first aid…then okay, if we need surgical equipment, I could do the animal hospital. I can make it work.”

The eggs have officially been abandoned. Hannibal’s now on the other side of Will’s counter, so greatly frowning in his own turmoil that Will himself feels afflicted by the palpability. “No,” Hannibal prods gently. He’s reaching out his hand now. “No, Will.”

“No what? Are you serious? You can’t even walk how is you going better than me?” Will tears himself away from the chair and faces Hannibal, standing straight upright; equal heights now. He’s seething at this point, practically boiling over.

Hannibal faces him right back, silence drawn between them before the edge of his solemn voice catches on a whisper, “Because I don’t want you to go.”

“Well I don’t want you to go either!”

Will doesn’t realize what he’s said until it’s already out of his mouth, which is a terrible thing to become accustomed to. Especially since he’s not even drunk. God he doesn’t want to deal with the implications of whatever this is now.

He brings a hand to his forehead, realizes he’s trembling slightly, and then mustles the sweat and grime that’s built up in his hair to cover it up, ignoring the way his eye is beginning to twitch all on its own, stress response maybe. It’s a struggle for him to find words afterward, Hannibal too, for a start, but Will eventually does. Sighing first, and then succeeding with a hiss, he relents, “Did you put your head through the wall too? Why even take the risk?”

“Because of you, Will,” croaks Hannibal, and he turns back towards the stove, grunting when he finds the forgotten eggs charcoaled. “And what you said to me. Last night.”

If all hell hadn’t broken loose before, it certainly was about to. Will was frozen, the heat that had been rising between them turned ice-cold, his blood, heart, and lungs all dead within him, and oh, he realizes, belatedly, so belatedly, that he had been off all this time. Not about something happening between them—because something did happen between them, something significant evidently—but about the equal credibility of their recollections thereafter. 

“Last night…?” his voice trails off as he tries to piece together in a matter of seconds all possibilities under the same umbrella.

Last night. What did I do last night?

What did you do last night?

What did we do last night?

He couldn’t, for the life of him, remember beyond the flutter of fingernails across his back, the passing smiles, and Hannibal’s low rumble: “Two bodies and one breath,” he had said. He barely remembers what they spoke about before. The sharp pain returned to Will’s eye.

Hannibal took a long time to answer. Hands gripping the side of the stove, cane left tilted against the counter. You’d think he was deliberating what to leave out of what he was about to say next. Hannibal doesn’t look at Will when he eventually finds his voice, “I’m afraid of normalcy, you said.” The words spoken through Hannibal don’t sound like his own. Will was zeroed in regardless. Rendered immobile against his barstool. “Afraid that we would leave each other to someplace far away from here. Tempted not by freedom from the other, but by the possibility of it together. All roads lead to me, and all roads lead to you.”

He doesn’t remember uttering anything deliberately, but as Hannibal speaks them into existence, some nagging part in the back of Will’s mind seems to recall the familiarity—long lost glances, heavy words without hidden meanings… he vaguely remembers his past resolve:

Does he really want to do this now?

Yes, fuck, he’s doing this now.

“You’ve chosen already, Will,” Hannibal continues, eyes glued to the counter. “I don’t want to take that choice away from you. Especially not with how far you’ve come.”

When did I choose? I was drunk, he almost hollers, and Will can’t believe the blur that still fogs his mind, even with the hints and allegations that spill from Hannibal’s mouth. But none of that saves from one simple fact that Will can’t help but feel betrayed by: Hannibal remembers.

“...I thought you were high on Vicodin.”

Hannibal wipes his hand on a found towel. “I was lucid enough to remember. Opioids alter or embellish memories very rarely removing them entirely. They’re not like alcohol in that retrospect. And I haven’t been taking them for so long that they would pose that problem.”

Will grimaces at that, because of course, it was so fucking obvious, wasn’t it? Should’ve known all along. “Well, then that’s my fault then isn’t it. Sorry—I never did drugs to know that.”

“Now you’re upset again,” prompts Hannibal with a long-suffering sigh that just makes Will’s blood boil. “Must I assume why or will you use your words?”

“There’s a lot of words I’d be very open to using right now. Inherent-swearing trademarks included. But you know, at this point, I’m more-so just resigned. But you probably already knew that though, didn’t you. Why do I tell you anything when you’re just going to wait until I’m drunk or…unguarded to squeeze it out of me anyway.”

Hannibal frowns severely. “You’re jumping to conclusions.”

“No, I’m trying not to put a knife in your fucking shoulder blade.” Will, who meant every single word of that, inhales deeply through his nose and just… laughs at the absurdity of it all, hands over his eyes and head thrown towards the ceiling. “God, I just keep falling for it, don’t I?”

“I’m under the impression you seem to believe the dosage of my pain medication was much higher than it really was. That isn’t to say I wasn’t as intoxicated as you—mine was simply a different kind of experience.” Hannibal was still on the other side of the counter, apparently deciding that cooking and cutting potatoes was more important than whatever the hell was currently happening.

Will hisses, “You’re not making this a competition.”

Hannibal follows, “And you’re not understanding the point.”

“No, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of the point. You pretended to be high to get me to pity you so I would open up.”

Now Hannibal finally narrowed his eyes, the forbearing grip on his serrated knife so stiff it drew Will’s gaze. “Now you’re conjuring make-believe,” he reports evenly. “I never once pretended. You seem to think I am some malicious machine that is programmed to always find a way to twist you into whatever shape I see fit. I thought we were beyond such proclamations, but that’s clearly a misconception on my part. It would be wrong to admit that wasn’t an intention in the past, but I’ve been done for a while now, as I thought you were too.” He lifts his head and now looks Will in the eyes. “You forget my blood also bleeds red, black under the full moon—I am just as tired as you are.”

Bringing mention to the unmentionable. I am just as tired as you are. It curbs Will’s red-hot, fiery anger, and apparently, it halts Hannibal’s too. The two of them stand on opposite ends of the counter, one of them searching the other’s eyes while the other’s gaze is cast to the stove. Sometimes, it’s difficult to discern who is who.

“We’re fading, Will.” That’s Hannibal’s voice, steady and unyielding. “The both of us. Without proper medical attention with adequate materials, our bodies may one day simply give up. I went to the Farmer’s Market this morning to test how I’ve been healing, and not to my surprise, I am stiff-limbed and unbearably sore. It was difficult to walk, and I had to take a break on my way home. I can only imagine what you must feel—your cheek, your shoulder. I would ask how you are, but I can already guess what you’re going to tell me.”

Only the whirr of the fan spurs the silence forward. Will loses his hold on his feelings, on why it is he was so upset, on the “stiff-limbed” and “difficult to walk,” and “had to take a break…,” on the distant sea that poked out from behind the long-drawn curtains, and says nothing in reply. And yet, I’m fine sits starkly between them.

“I fear for the worst. Which is the reason for the hospital visit, albeit an animal hospital visit. A heist, you would call it. Know I will be quick, and I will be careful, as always, but that I must go nonetheless. I’m going to see if I can contact Chiyoh on my way, but I have little faith. We’ve both been fortunate and unfortunate in respect to relying on time to heal all wounds.”

Time to heal all wounds… that sounds like something Alana would say, that last part. The only wound that bound her was her pride, Will bets, and her fear, two vices that couldn’t coexist without the other. He wonders how she’d react if she saw them now. He manages to blink, but astutely looks away from where Hannibal stands, poignant and thoughtful.

Hannibal waits in the case Will wants to pitch in, but he doesn’t, so he won't. “You’re still angry with me,” offers Hannibal when the silence stretches, still searching Will’s face with only his deep amber eyes from across the counter, his fingers skimming the marble like they were tracing the scars across Will’s brow. “I can’t apologize more than I already have, especially when, surprisingly, I have done nothing wrong. I’m not saying that to save my ego, Will. I’m saying it to save yours. You’re angry with me not because you believe I tricked you, which I haven’t, but because you feel vulnerable. Exposed. You feel as though you’ve been manipulated because your mind perceived reality as a different sequence of events than what really unfolded. That, Will, is a burden you’ll always have to bear—a consequence of your beautiful and endless imagination.

“Though I suppose I’m not really helping your insecurity, am I. Especially when I say I’m leaving for an indefinite amount of time. It makes it sound like I’m leaving you, even though the both of us know that’s not true.” Hannibal pauses like he’s said something wrong. “Crudely put, yes, but stripped to its barest bones, I can’t think of a better way to say it. Being straightforward, if I recall, is hard to come by.”

While he would never admit it out loud, most everything Hannibal spoke was true. He’s right , to some extent, never fully grasping the whole picture, but never doing wrong by stating just how things were. But in light of this recent upset regarding assumptions, it doesn’t matter, right and wrong, because he doesn’t want to think about this now.

“Where have you gone? Come back to me.”

Why does he have to think about it now? Why does everything need to be sought after? Can nothing wait for another day? Must everything be so black and white? The answer is no, because self-autonomy and free will do exist. So to hell with not “ignoring what’s changed,” this is all too much.

“Will,” he hears distantly his name and suddenly there’s a warm hand against the stubble on his cheek. “Will, look at me.”

Will snaps out of the trance and takes hold of Hannibal’s wrist in a tightly-wound grip. But the fire in his eyes slowly withers when Hannibal’s own doesn’t match the intensity, instead flickering at a low wick. Calm and collected as always, concern underneath it all, but at least he’s got shit figured out.

Will hisses and lets go of Hannibal, turning in place a couple times before fully beginning to pace the apartment. 

Everything feels so small all of a sudden, suffocating. He has to just…leave, and figure this out later. Consequences be damned, future be damned. 

He doesn’t care how childish he sounds when he announces, “No, I don’t want to do this right now. I’m heading out.” 

Will spots money on his fifth trip around the apartment, at least another thirty, tucked under the newspaper on the counter conveniently trapped under a rusty gold spare house key, and Will snatches it to shove into his grey pant’s pocket. He doesn’t bother changing, shoving on those random square-toed dress shoes from the night before, wincing when his right heel strikes something odd inside.

He knows Hannibal is looking serene at his place behind the counter. He should just live there—it would complete the plastic, box-like image of the tiger in a cage. Though, he already did that, didn’t he? For three years. Hannibal takes his hurried packing in stride, watching Will dump a key out of his dress shoes before throwing on the dark-fleeced trench coat Hannibal had hung back up last night. “I don’t believe I gave you permission,” he tries to crack in all-good fun.

“I don’t give a shit,” Will answers and promptly throws on the cashmere scarf slung over the coat rack, along with shoving on his black beanie and sunglasses hidden in his pocket, all automatic.

“Should I deposit another thirty into your pocket?” Will’s attention is caught and he swivels to finally look at Hannibal who he’d left behind in the kitchen, and who has now returned to plating charred eggs and uncooked potatoes at the stove. “Just in case?”

He pats his pants pockets and ignores the faded smile ghosting Hannibal’s lips. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.”

“A deaf ear doesn’t change the truth,” remarks Hannibal.

“Then it’s a good thing I’ve got a blind eye too,” and he goes to tie his shoes.

But he hears the plates clatter and a muffled, “A blind eye?” before he witnesses Hannibal circle the counter, staggering towards him as he goes.

Shit. Just another thing in his hat that he currently does not want to deal with. Will grimaces and stands up with a hand outstretched, stopping Hannibal before he gets too close. “It’s nothing, I’ll be back later.” He manages to turn the knob part-way, but can’t help but delay at the door. Hannibal was still patiently waiting behind him, kind of like one of his dogs. “Don’t go anywhere,” Will says back and accidentally finds himself literally pointing to the ground. He pulls back his hand. “To the Farmer’s Market, or the animal hospital, or to the doorstep to get the newspaper. Stay put.

Hannibal leans beside where his brown-cushioned barstool stands. One hand against the crest rail with the other at his side. “I did promise, didn’t I?” He’s attempting to sound reassuring, for Will’s sake. “At least for today.” 

They make brief eye-contact from over Will’s (Hannibal’s) scarf, and although everything else is off the table for discussion, Will recognizes the upset behind Hannibal’s blank stare, he’s felt it himself when he couldn’t physically see Hannibal, and relents one nod in acknowledgement.

“And Will.”

Will turns back again, promising that this is the last time he’s going to do so, and faces Hannibal halfway out the door.

Hannibal seems older over there, sullen and drawn as opposed to a few minutes ago. Will doesn’t say this, but Hannibal seems to understand the look on his face. Let me leave, it says. I’m coming back.

Hannibal gets it, he always did, and dips his head in resignation like he’s read Will’s mind. “I hope you’ll allow me to check you over. At least the wounds that matter. I can’t take ‘it’s nothing’ or ‘it’s fine’ for an answer anymore.” A moment taken, meant for both of them. “Whenever you come back will suffice.”

Will pauses at the door for the last time, the real last time, takes his own moment, and then leaves.


I would like everyone to know that the reason Hannibal was in a dress shirt in the last chapter was because he wanted to feel what it was like to be in a suit again (what it would be like to get dressed and ready to go out). I wonder if that'll be brought up in the future.

Thanks for reading, and as always, I appreciate you more than you know!

Chapter 5: Sequentia, ii. Rex tremendae


The one where Will goes to the Farmer's Market to escape Hannibal only to end up thinking about Hannibal the entire time.


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

The brisk air sings bittersweet against his skin. He didn’t have enough foresight to grab gloves and going back is out of the question. So he has to make due with stuffing red hands in his pockets, the cashmere scarf around his neck smuggled against half of his face, the other hidden behind a popped collar. Consequences are something he’s still trying to take in stride.

The streets ahead are winding, not to mention slippery as hell. Now that he’s determined he’s in the South, and zeroed in on about four states considering the Blue Ridge Mountains, logic follows that he should just ask someone since excuses as to “why” aren’t too difficult to pull out of his ass: got off at the wrong bus stop, grandmother can’t work the car’s navigation system…deliberately tripped off a cliff or something, amnesia is real and so is this knife.

A part of him feels like that’d be too simple. Asking, that is, not the knife. The other part really doesn’t give a shit, but the main consensus is that he doesn’t care enough to ask, and also doesn’t care enough to be accidentally “found out” in this very mediocre kind of way, regardless of whether he’s visually recognizable or not.

The fact that he’s even considered being “found out” should be a step forward. The prospect of mediocracy being the greatest of sins in this thought process, is not. His head hurts. Every stride forward rattles his skull, and his right eye doesn’t mind reminding him that it stings.

Ahead of what he can see, every street corner is lined with a bare tree, curved to dangle over both the sidewalks and thin roadways. There’s leftover Christmas lights stretching over each and every one of them, ornaments loosely dangling on a couple. Only thing cheerful about the mush he’s currently stepping through, though, is that it’s melting, the morning sunshine particularly vibrant despite the windchill. The warmth seeps through his clothes, pinks his cheeks, and while yes, unmoored snow is otherworldly and yes, while the current sensitive state of his right eye is having him consider otherwise, nothing beats the feeling of spring sun, or a spring sun to-be, and all that follows it. 

Spring, rebirth. New life in bloom, and the re-emerging of old life again. The rising temperatures make for more adventurous walks in the woods, quiet lake-trips with the dogs, and the sunset after a rainstorm, he’s sat across from so many times back over the stalky broomsedge fields at his old house…the streaking purples and reds looked like exploding fireworks, or if he was lucky, there’d be blots of marmalade whisking the clouds into a fluffy puff of swirling red. Kind of like cotton candy, or gunshot blood spatter, if you’re more morbid.

He steps over a stubborn ice patch, rounding the sidewalk with too-loud a sniffle and stops against the long stretch of white-road ahead. There’s an ancient-looking diamond watch tower at the end of the path, its shining pointed top an arrow to the sun. Behind it sits a row of snow-dusted houses and shops alike, the horizon covered by a brush of decorated pine trees that stood on the spaces in-between, golden-glowed and warm-feeling with a picture of parents and their children laughing over breakfast, over a losing game of charades, or a newly-made memory they just shared.

Yes, the spring sun. Perfect for fishing, for family outings, or to simply be.

And so it’s settled. He walks east. Towards the sea.


It’s been a long time since he’s been to a farmer’s market.

He remembers they’d hold one every Wednesday and Saturday morning off the port back when he worked in New Orleans. Not that he went regularly, but it was nice to get out. He supposes this is something similar—a good amount of locals swaddled in their hats and puffy coats, cradling a steaming cup of what-have-you, perusing the different pop-up shops that housed anything from an old man selling hot sauce to a sprightly young woman in yellow glasses going on about her knitted dog figures, which he of course stops at, but has to abruptly make his exit once he hears the smallest one is a hundred dollars.

He didn’t really mean to end up here. It was more of him wandering aimlessly, finding curiosity in following small herds of people around until he realized they were all funneling towards this side of town. So he explored himself, and lo and behold, this is what he finds.

It’s nice, he decides. Cozy.

He turns his head towards the horizon. The lakeview is a plus. Boats of all types, mostly fishing, gently rocking on rolling waves, anchored by a few ropes strung to the outreaching docks. Cold sand met the lakeshore, barely fifteen feet before the brick sidewalk stretched past; it curved like a boardwalk of sorts for the people on the right to steer into the market, the ones on the left able to stroll right along by. Snow and slush was still scattered here and there (he should’ve jumped ship, literally, with boots), but once again—it was melting. Thawing. It was good. Not great, but well…it was alright.

“Hey, you!”

Scratch alright, his heart suddenly dropped to his knees. Normally, he’d be inclined to ignore any kind of risk that could have them found out. Having been pointed out of the crowd as a one in a couple hundred follows this train of thought, but he brings his fingers to poke at his sunglasses, his thick-cut black beanie, and the cashmere scarf fit snug around half his face and assures himself that people don’t see what they want to see if they’re not looking. Hiding in plain sight really is the best disguise, despite the anxiety it gives him (and that that would mean Hannibal was right), and that’s how he finds himself in front of some great older woman’s tent with what looks like a professional camera in his hands. 

“I can’t afford this,” he tells her softly and she bursts out laughing, smacking the two men to her right.

“Good!” She barks, “I’d just like you to take a picture, is all. Of us three here, if you could.”

Will notices how the older man tenses and narrows his gaze, eyes raking across Will’s scarf, his barely-visible cheek bandage, his sunglasses and hat. Will doesn’t blame the wary hostility—he probably looks fresh out of a war, a marooned soldier hiding in the enemy camp. In a way, he is.

“Oh, uh…” He turns the camera in his hands and then offers the family of three a weak smile to seem less threatening, though he’s not sure they can even see it. “I’m not really good with taking pictures.”

“Oh, honey, you just press that button there. Doesn’t have to be perfect!”

He doesn’t know how he gets roped into these things. All the time, he adds as an afterthought, and raises the camera just as the younger blond boy squirms out of frame.

“I don’t want to take a picture,” he complains and the older woman braces him right against what Will assumes is the father.

“You better smile,” she warns and smacks the boy on the back of the head, “or so help me.”

Will snaps the picture after the family plaster on their grins, even the older man shows teeth for the sake of his wife. Will thinks he looks like a chimpanzee. He takes a couple more just in case, thinks that’s probably what Freddie Lounds would do, is absolutely aggrieved he even made that comparison, and delivers the camera back with a readjustment of his scarf.

The man quickly steps in front of his wife before Will can hand the camera back off. “Thanks again,” the man tells him severely and snatches the camera out of his hands. He looks like a lumberjack and keeps his eyes on Will’s sunglasses, and Will, who can already feel the violent unease radiating off the man, understands that his presence is unwanted and takes a step back to demonstrate his intention to leave.

“I have to go,” he announces and offers an awkward half-wave before turning. “Nice meeting you.”

“Oh!” The woman waves at him from his peripherals. “We sell jerky. The real stuff. Have been for ten years. Just take a look before you go.”

Will raises his eyebrows. He’s had the real stuff, he could tell her, really tip his hand and his hat, but doesn’t think the lumberjack would find it too funny or really get it for that matter, so adjusts his scarf one last time before shaking his head and taking his leave, ignoring the way the women goes to call after him and her husband holds her back, steering her around to other customers with a big smile. Will tries not to think too much about it. Hannibal would find it funny. He’d get it.


That particular interaction didn’t sit well with him. He knows deep down that the likelihood of being reported as a suspicious individual who’s wearing the entirety of REI on his head is much higher than being recognized as one half to a very bloody and very reputable equation, but being reported still involves police and Will has had enough of them to last a lifetime.

He still doesn’t know what the news is saying about him. Hannibal told him that the entire country was with a pitchfork in hand, and there was that “Breaking News: Cannibal Serial Killer on the Loose” newspaper, but nothing specifically about Will—and considering recent events, he’s not too sure how much he trusts his own deduction when it comes to assuming Hannibal’s bullshit aligns with his own. Are people upset because he’s complicit? Or do they believe he’s Hannibal’s hostage? Maybe he’s presumed dead—or maybe the FBI is still trying to fathom how the hell they didn’t see this coming.

He ambles by a stall that sells…he squints at the sign best he can before the three women behind the counter start looking at him weird…is that eggs for $10? Might be worth it, maybe the eggs are coated in gold and have the power to change your fate. Hannibal would probably start arguing with the sellers, claiming to have raised chicken himself as some kind of rural, country farmer and that not even a golden goose’s stock would be worth $10. Curious, Will opens a carton, sees that four of the dozen are cracked and promptly ignores the lady that tries to reel him in before walking away.

Also, on the subject of fate and serendipity, he doesn’t understand how there could be any misunderstanding regarding his and Hannibal’s priorities considering Hannibal rhymes with cannibal and Will rhymes with kill. It honestly merits an award for how long Jack was in the dark for, and literally everyone else for that matter. Then again, if like in the Bible, names are puns and often coincide with the bearer’s action in the world, Jack the Ballsack’s thickness was inevitable and Alana the Prima Donna’s self-assurity against Hannibal was the reason Will was able to orchestrate Hannibal’s escape. Miss the forest for the trees—

“The parable of the drowning man,” Hannibal would muse with his devil’s grin. Will considers firing back, “Or that one about Jehoram and the cannibal mothers” with a devilish grin of his own, but ultimately just keeps moving. 


Alana probably knew actually, and Jack did too, somewhere, but had just refused to believe it. Even after they were all gutted, him most literally, he’d sat in Hannibal’s empty house, sailed across an ocean to Lithuania and Italy, and even after the three years that followed Hannibal’s arrest, he’d still awkwardly sneak out to an occasional opera, drink himself to sleep at the bar in the lobby there, or find himself pulled towards the classic literature section in the bookstore. Sometimes, he’d be sat alone on the bank of a river sketching the scenery or imagined versions of his dogs, or torture himself by re-living that one time he tried his hand at a gaudy joke in a parent get-together only for no one to laugh, or he’d don a three-piece suit put together at Marshalls whenever he and Molly had a “date night” because he realized that was the only time she ever called him a handsome man as opposed to a sweet one. She had often asked him who picked out his navy blue suit since it’s apparently clear he doesn’t have the sense to come up with something like that himself. An old friend, he had answered wryly and had meant Jack at the time because it was Will’s “disability benefits” (ironically inflicted and instated by Jack and the FBI) that paid for the whole thing. But a memory comes to mind then, and as he’s pushing in between stalls and bundled-up people, the Farmer’s market shops melt into the stout little Italian houses along the great Arno river, and the sound of Southern seagulls transforms into distant laughter, cheers in the form of “Salute!”, and a swell of viola music down the winding, 15th century stone alleyways. 

After being shoved off a train, he’d walked aimlessly in the dark until his feathered stag halted to the curve of a train track, and by daybreak, Will found himself at the edge of Florence. It was by some miracle he spotted Chiyoh hours later, in a thick overcoat and eating a sandwich, and followed her to a haughty third-floor apartment overlooking the city where she climbed through the window and came back out again a few minutes later. It was only after she’d left that Will discovered Bedelia there, and after falling through the same window himself, belatedly realized that Chiyoh had probably led him there on purpose. With Bedelia out cold, empty syringes and needles riddled around her, he had wandered through the apartment. Very Sir John Soane—torn right out of a 1920s vintage newspaper, and felt it in his very bones that Hannibal had made this his home. He knew Hannibal wasn’t there, opened a few of his drawers and even played a couple notes on the Steinbeck just to make a point. But it was when he opened the hidden bedroom closet that he stopped, because there, owning the left side of the space, were wrapped flannels and short-sleeved shirts, pants of every kind, and two sets of three-piece suits—one a blaring cream color and one a righteous blue. He had taken hold of the navy suit by the collar, ran the silk-cotton material between his fingertips, and felt for the neck tag that, in very proud Times New Roman print, only offered him two letters: “W.G.” This was before he encountered Jack outside, climbing out the back window this time to meet him at the Capponi Library a little ways down, and Will had mentioned nothing of either previewing the apartment or what he had found inside.

The limelight of Florence fades and so does the cityscape-river view from Hannibal’s apartment.

An old friend, is it? That was still true, but the context has changed. Even then, he’d still been thinking of Hannibal and didn’t even realize it.

All those years—all those memories, wrapped so tightly around the resolution to forget only to overlook what it was he was really doing. He was spending time with Hannibal, living vicariously through him while simultaneously joining him on the different excursions he would have enjoyed, and isn’t that the greatest sin of all—the act of quality time together. To become so deeply interwoven within each other that the subconscious action of doing, regardless of whether the other one was there or not, was the company itself.

It really was Hannibal. It was always Hannibal.

God, Jack and Alana were both holding out hope for him, weren’t they? They had no idea he was already gone.

“Dressed for winter, are ya?”

Yanked out of his daydreaming and half-past the booth already, he’s forced to backtrack and has to double-take when he doesn’t see the tiny old man behind his massive stacks of wafers. 

“The weather’s unpredictable down here,” Will tells him over the counter, feeling a little awkward using his rusty Southern-drawl out of nowhere (a consequence of thinking about Hannibal and how easily he can jump from one persona to the next). He tugs down his beanie. “Snowed yesterday,” he quickly adds, “clear skies today. I wouldn’t be surprised if a hurricane appeared and blew the whole market away.”

The man offers Will a grin. “Not the whole market. Every lil pop-up but here.” He beckons Will forward and he peeks behind the counter to see where the man’s pointing. “I put stakes in the ground,” he whispers proudly, pats the two poles holding up the tent. “Ain’t nothin’ is movin’ me from this here spot unless a meteor falls from the sky.”

Will nods. “Wouldn’t be surprised if that happened either.”

The man laughed and eased into the foldable chair, tipping his huge white hat to Will when he went to go, who raised his arm for a quick wave back with a smile. The smile pulls at the hole in his cheek, stings the inside of his eye, but he owns it. And he feels owed to it.

Now, that particular interaction did sit well with him. So much so that he feels lighter on his feet and makes it a point to smile at the kind-faced lady at the stall over who offers him a sample of honey, which he tells her that it’s absolutely delicious and she gets all red because of it.

He’d be lying if he said the old man and his big-brimmed sun-hat in the dead of winter didn’t make him feel a little better. At least from how repressive and out of place he was feeling earlier, especially after encountering that territorial lumberjack and his jerky. And with the whole…revelation regarding he-who-shall-not-be-named. He guesses fresh air will do that to you, and a real, easy conversation with someone without an agenda who doesn’t care if he’s “dressed for winter;” that and he feels at home by the sea. He rolls his right shoulder for emphasis, still straining three-quarters of the way through, but is at the very least surprised he managed to get it fully around. So he continues moseying his way through the market, around tons of chatty people slung around their friends, some dogs he stares too intently at, and noisy college kids he’d rather not encounter, and finds himself at the edge of the boardwalk overlooking the water. The beach is a stone-throw’s away and he can’t help but watch the sunlight sparkle and the cool waves roll.

“Hello there,” he hears and turns around.

It’s a younger woman, younger than him, with big green eyes, tied-back hair, and the puffiest jacket he’s ever seen. She holds a leash in her left hand, but whatever’s on the other end of it is hidden under the cream cloth-covered table.

“Hi,” he says back.

“Looking for anything in particular?”

“No. Just looking.”

He considers the variety of her selection, glittering jewelry and big bright ornaments with sayings, framed prints of famous paintings coupled with things that dangle from hooks and long feathered dream catchers that seize each other in the wind. He wonders what specialty she sells.

The young lady watches his interest and leans back in her foldable chair. “Looking for anyone in particular?”

He almost laughs but smiles softly for her sake, even if she can’t see it, and lifts his fingers to a framed photo he spots, gracing the darkened wings of an imagined god—Zephyrus, Hannibal once explained to him, in a printed version of the Primavera by Botticeli. “Nope. Still just looking.”

“Well, take your time then. These are our most popular. Couples go crazy over matching pairs.” He leaves the printed photo to find her crouching behind some clothes and has to squint to make out the two glittering rings held in her hands. “Pretty aren’t they?”

 He answers automatically, “Very,”

“You could always put two on your finger.” She demonstrates for emphasis. “One on the ring, one on the thumb if you’re waiting for your special someone.”

He does chuckle a little at that and pulls his scarf back up when it falls because of it. She reminds him of his better students—the ones with unyielding smiles and a mind always eager to learn. The innocent ones. “My special someone is a dog,” he says and finds his eyes following the leash to the floor.

“Oh,” she laughs, “then congratulations. I know the perfect thing.”

When she disappears behind a wall of polyester long-sleeved shirts, Will folds to his knees and very carefully lifts up the edge of the overflowing table cloth. There’s an old yellow lab there on the ground, at least ten by the old-man grey around his mouth and eyes, sleeping soundly with his head between his paws, and Will beams at it like he’d just found some ancient buried treasure. Old-man grey, he muses and snorts when Hannibal’s short, soft-to-the-touch hair comes to mind, letting the cloth fall back in place before heaving himself off the ground to meet the younger woman who was approaching him with…were those dog collars?

On the subject of Hannibal—

“What is it?” She asks, note the genuine concern in her voice as Will is relentlessly breaking into silent hysterics, shaking like an epileptic while she just thinks he might be crying. “Wrong color?”

“No, no. I just…” had a really funny image of Hannibal in a collar. “He already has a collar,” he tells her airily and feels a dutiful amount of satisfaction in sharing that information, regardless of double meanings or otherwise.

“Ah. Something else then?”

Will thinks about it, opens his mouth to tell her, No, I’m all set, just out of habit, but his eyes can’t help but wander back to the left side of her stall and he gestures to that inclination with a tilt of his head. “I might be back for that,” he says steadily and points to the Primavera, still laying sideways after Will had picked it up earlier.

The young woman smiles after his hand. “Okay,” she grins as he turns to leave. “I’ll hold you to that.”

Will nods. “Have a good one.”

“You too,” she replies and watches him walk away.


The sun is higher now, but often blocked by stray clouds. A good thing for him, since it’s easier on his eye. He checks the shaded sky, offers whoever’s up there his thanks through a nod, and then takes off his sunglasses. He wonders how long he’s been wandering. A while for sure, but it is nice to not keep track of time and to just let himself be for enjoyment’s sake for once. He’ll leave once he gets to the end. Then again, that means he has to go back to the apartment, and he’s not sure he’s ready for that yet.

There’s a vendor selling cheeses. A Swiss man with a thick accent, who hollers for his son every time someone inches up to his table and delicately asks for a sample. Electing this as most definitely the place Hannibal got his Montasio cheese from this morning, probably in the form of fluent Italian bullshit and flattery, Will rolls his eyes and passes by with a smile at the leashed brown mutt sprawled on the floor there.

A flower shop sits two places down; stick-out lime green plants and flowers of every color you could think of near the end of the whole row actually, and he smells the wafts of fresh floral and spiced herbs before he sees it. 

He likes to think that he didn’t trip on air walking what was essentially twenty feet from one place to the other. A meteor fell from the sky, says the old man feels like a great excuse, so that’s what he goes with when he loses his footing over the gravel and falls flat on his face.

“Shit,” he spits sharply. Landing on his bad shoulder may not have been the best move, he finds very quickly, and glares at the ground with the very real consideration of punching it (maybe imagining it’s Hannibal) just to feel better. Instead, he braces himself on his hands and knees to stagger to his feet, more angry than embarrassed, and letting people steer awkwardly around him, pushes out an extra, much-needed, “Balls,” for good measure.

“Careful,” Hannibal says, taking Will’s hand in his own to help him up. “Honestly, I wonder how you manage without constant supervision. You have a supernatural tendency to gravitate towards things that can kill you. And the alternative—things you can kill.”

Now fully to his feet, Will has to double take not once, not twice, but three times with his face so scrunched up together, he has to take a genuine moment in time to look to the sky in all his numb disbelief and then back down to where Hannibal, with his matching taupe grey trench coat and unbelievably smug smirk, was currently standing in front of him.

What,” is all he manages to get out before Hannibal closes the distance between them, lifting his hands to gently re-wrap the brown scarf around Will’s neck that unfurled when he smashed into the gravel.

“I do have a name,” he tells Will now, “several in fact. One of which is apparently ‘hey’ and much preferred over ‘what.’” Hannibal beams at him and his work, taking a step back to consider the scarf with a hand to his chin.

What the actual—

Will, who is honestly half out of his mind right now, is more than tempted to tear off the scarf and chuck it at Hannibal’s holier than thou, “Look at me! I’m walking around in public!” smirk. But his fingers only get as far as touching the fringe before he decides Forget this, and lowers his voice to a hiss, “How about ‘why?’ Is that better?” 

“What a surface level question,” says Hannibal serenely, not even bothering to lower his voice. “I’m sure it won’t take you long to come up with your own answer.”

“Okay, then how about a surface level answer.” Will scowls at Hannibal, who just tilts his head. “No.


“Yep. No. No way.

He realizes pretty belatedly that he’s making kind of a scene, stopped in the middle of the walking pathway waving his hands around like he’s playing charades to break the language barrier between him and his estranged uncle with an accent back from the European lowlands. So he doesn’t fault the passing glances he garners, or the way some little girl asks her mother, “Is he okay?” (no, is the answer) or the way a couple at the cheese stall have stopped to whisper to each other with pretty conspicuous gestures towards him. It does, however, feed his anxiety in a gnawing and vicious kind of way, so he does his best to hastily scrape down his beanie as far as he can, bowing his shoulders, and repurposing his sunglasses back over his nose to hide the frantic expression on his face. Hannibal looks to him then, in that moment—the hunched figure falling in on himself, and with lips lifted in great fondness, he tilts his head towards the sun and bathes in the warmth.

And not even two seconds later, Will unfurls himself once he’s self-deemed “safe” with his cover up secure again and growls. He’d gotten too comfortable, mingling in a new public he’d assumed didn’t know him (now he’s not so sure), and now Hannibal’s just decided to throw himself into the mix without even a disguise, which… why, and so when Will goes to confront the unbelievable idiot for his audacity (and reel him in so they could go and hide not in plain sight), he realizes with a panicked check frontwards, backwards, to the ground and to the sky that oh shit—Hannibal’s disappeared.

He should’ve seen this coming. By all accounts, he should’ve been ready for it. But urgency paired together with calamity (losing the FBI’s Most Wanted at a Farmer’s Market) is a funny thing, so instead of taking astute action, such as promptly finding where the hell this very conspicuous man in a three-piece suit, no less, went, he instead hisses and spits and spurs inherent-swearing trademarks to himself and to Hannibal, when the poor people treading by probably thought he was a mental hospital escapee (for the second time). Imagine that’s how he gets caught.

“Fuck. Shit. Piece of shit—”

“Will,” Hannibal calls to him and Will’s attention snaps to behind, where he finds Hannibal had eerily just… floated away to the retro flower stall. It’s then that Will starts to get a hint, the distance put between them a significant touch, nothing too great, but enough. And Hannibal beckons Will over with a wave and another smile, the lady on the other side of the stall short-limbed and deaf to his presence. “I should like to buy these flowers. The red bunch here.” His fingers grace the petals of crimson flowers, a striking and delicate bunch, and Will wades his way over to touch them himself. “Sweet Williams, they’re called, paired with Bleeding Hearts. A stroke of serendipity, I say. Do you know what red symbolizes in floriculture, specifically amongst the William family?”

They’re rubbery to the touch, plastic-stemmed and fragrant paint polished onto the petals to brighten the luster. Fakes. He watches Hannibal now, his smoke-tipped hair, his straightened back, his proud eyes, and his steady hands as they caress the Bleeding Hearts, he said, apple-shaped bulbs dangling from a winding branch like bats on a tree.

There’s no cane. And Will knows, in the secret sad part of his soul.

He knows.

“You’re not real,” he says eventually, and doesn’t register how much that hurts.

Hannibal offers an empty smile for him, like it pains him to break the dream, fingers still brushing the faux stems and leaves of the many flowers. “I am real to you and only you,” Hannibal offers. “Isn’t that all that matters?”

A humorless laugh escapes Will’s breath before he can help it. He shakes his head and brings a hand to his forehead, the other raising to wave away the lady behind the counter that looked like she was about to offer him, the only one at the stall, some flower advice. “You’re another figment of my imagination,” he tells Hannibal, refusing to face the figure in his peripherals directly. “Go figure.”

“Your imagination is just as real as everything else. Your mind is implicated by conjuring images of what you wish to see rather than the monotonous reality of what everyone else does.” Now it was Hannibal’s turn to laugh, a humorless and quick breath through his nose. “You can’t hide from me, Will. For better or for worse, I am with you and that alone makes me real. Just as real, in presence, as these flowers.”

 “Are ya gonna buy those or not?” The lady, rightly weirded out by the guy talking to himself, checks Will up and down before wincing in earnest, and for that, he can’t even blame her.

Will follows where she’s pointing, to the bundle of Sweet Williams and overhanging Bleeding Hearts, all wrapped up in a bundle of plastic overlay that she keeps gesturing at with raised eyebrows.

He relents with a frown. “Yes,” Will and Hannibal chorus at the same time, and Will passes her a ten from his pocket (“It’s twenty, actually,”) before tearing himself away from the stand and wondering why the hell he even bought this massive bundle of fake flowers.

He really does consider passing them to Hannibal for him to carry, curious how that would even work, but Hannibal is nowhere to be found, and after a brief survey of the area, finds that he’s up and disappeared again entirely. Always a man to follow his own agenda, even within the freedom of Will’s imagination.

So Will checks over his shoulder and leads along the back wall of a red-bricked building he discovers at the end of the tent-row, back-tracking to where he passed a thin alleyway with a dumpster in-between the houses where what seems to be throw-up reeks like sour milk and a bag of what he hopes isn’t drugs lays glued atop the gruel-splattered pavement. He sets the bouquet at the wheel of the open dumpster, shoves the leftover bills in his other pants’ pocket, and returns to the bright, public minglings of the Farmer’s Market with none the wiser.

He doesn’t look back.


"That one about Jehoram and the cannibal mothers:" In 2 Kings, famine and misery wipes Samaria. Two mothers agree to eat their children to live, but only one goes through with it. Now, the king at the time, Jehoram, is shit (worshiped false gods, terrible person) and after hearing this happening, he attributed that this agony and deceitfulness was because of God. He tries to kill Elisha, a prophet of God, blaming the prophet by proxy for the misery that wipes his land, but—in the spirit of missing the forest for the trees—doesn’t realize that it’s his own disobedience that is to be blamed for his region’s suffering.

TLDR: It's a Biblical cannibal joke, of course.

Thanks for reading and your continued support.

Chapter 6: Sequentia, iii. Recordare


Hello, hello. Welcome back! I feel as though there's a little bit of rambling in this chapter, but I hope you still enjoy it regardless!


(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

This is…new, to say the least.

In the past, his hallucinations have normally meant to be symbols for something deeper. Garett Jacob Hobbs, the Othering of himself. The ravenstag, the layered connection between him and Hannibal. They’ve served a purpose in order to bring his brain up to speed with what his subconscious already knew.

A hallucination of Hannibal, though? And a very realistic one at that? He half-expects to wake up in a hospital room any second now, guarded by agents, doctors, and nurses, with Jack lowering a hand to his shoulder, grumbling, “It’s alright now, Will. You made it.” Maybe his brain is trying to tell him this whole East-coast traversing bullshit has been a dream this entire time.

But the longer he looks, the longer he moseys through the Farmer’s Market, the longer the hallucination sails alongside him, and the more he understands how much this is as real as it’s gonna get.

 The long-legged stride, the rolled back shoulders, and the gelled and fussed-with hair. That unbearable paisley tie on a glen plaid three-piece, the same one worn when they had trout with Jack (and Will wonders why his subconscious decided that moment to relive). The lift of his lip when he’s impressed, the avian tilt of his head when he’s curious, the climbing of his invisible eyebrows when Will points to another greens-vendor and asks him if he wants a potted plant he can name Planty for his room. All of it complimented by that trademark self-satisfied smirk, the one that he always falls back on as it fits on his face and is always impossible to decipher—and no one else manages to pull off that play so flawlessly because it belongs to and is so impossibly him. And yeah: that’s Hannibal.

Will follows close behind this version of Hannibal, the one that charges headlong into tented shops without a second thought to his not-well-received notoriety and then disappears the moment Will tries to find him inside. He doesn’t know how to feel, what he should be feeling as they walk side by side, wind picking up the hems of both their overcoats, grounding them as both real and here. In the present moment, he enjoys Hannibal walking at pace with him. The bum leg healed and the self-assured posture restored. In the same light, Will’s still unbelievably upset in many regards—the blatant disrespect through manipulation, the animal hospital suggestion, or just a lack of self-awareness in general, and now he has to deal with a floating spector-thing that just likes to pop in and out of reality whenever he feels like it. Leave it to Hannibal Lecter—even as a hallucination, he still finds a way to make everyone else’s lives more difficult. Jesus where the hell did he go now?

He slows his step when he spots Hannibal at a peculiar vendor, bent over a heavy wooden table and surrounded by hanging winter jackets. Will has to peer over Hannibal’s shoulder to catch his attention. “Do you want something?” he asks, part of him wishing he hadn’t with the way Hannibal startles out of some kind of daydream, the golden magic in his eyes sinking to a deep and hollow nothing. He had been looking at clothing spread across the table, specifically at a tiny linen costume with beautifully woven patterns, cross-stitching, and vibrant 20th century damask-design—a summer’s dress made for a little girl.

Hannibal passes him with a sad smile, leading the way. “Don’t we all?”


It was probably around noon now. With the market bustling more fervently than ever, the local food trucks have multiplied for the potential of a lunch rush and seemed to have hitched their posts to the next door road, blocked off by signs and orange cones.

Strolling next to Hannibal, their pace an easy linger, Will’s eye catches on a black sprinter van a few rows down, visible in-between the tents, it's great winding line of people curling around the boardwalk, and Will nudges Hannibal in the side to point at the pink lettering of “JOE’S BBQ” dashed across the truck with a dead cartoon hog painted over the hood.

“Seems like they pitched up a stand just for you,” he says and shrugs when Hannibal’s eyebrows disappear into his hair.

“Are you insinuating that I would buy from them or are you calling me a pig, Will?”

“You said it, not me.”

They walk like this for a bit, side by side in gentle comradery. Hannibal still disappears and it still pisses Will off, but he keeps that to himself. Until Will’s bent over to tie his shoe and Hannibal decidedly materializes.

“Oh, it seems they also put up a stand for you as well,” comes Hannibal’s amusement and Will heaves himself out of a squat to see. They’re standing at the entrance of another alleyway and Will follows where Hannibal’s head is tilted, to the dumpster and garbage can spilt with paper towel and diapers escaping. Will squints when a rat leaps out of the nearby dumpster to run away with one of the mushiest of the diapers, and Will just gapes at Hannibal, who stands there with a polite smile, probably thinking he’s the funniest person in the world right now. Will snorts, turning away, and Hannibal huffs helplessly out of his nose.

“Flattering,” Will ends up saying. “You callin’ me a garbage can?”

“That’s assuming. I believe the colloquial term is ‘trash.’” Hannibal rounds his accent on the constants and it makes Will laugh.

“You mean tray-sh. You need the Southern drawl. Elongate the vowels.” Will stops to face Hannibal. “Tray-sh.”


“It just sounds like you’re saying ‘trace.’ Or Trish.”

Hannibal rolls his eyes and pulls Will forward with a gentle hand guiding his shoulder, releasing his hold when they’re both away from the alley and ambling down the rows of the market again. “While you may be able to adopt each and every accent the world has to offer,” he muses proudly, “I am only mortal and can only achieve so many.”

Will only registered the hand once it had left, and he decidedly makes his own sort of effort by bumping ever-so lightly back into Hannibal’s shoulder.

“So you’re admitting that I’m better than you? That’s actually very therapeutic to hear.”

The shoulder that had leaned into Hannibal was suddenly wretched backwards and it takes Will a minute to process some guy, shorter, stubbier, and the literal color red, had just completely taken him by surprise and shoulder-checked him.

“Hey, watch it, man,” the guy grunts and Will raises his eyebrows.

 “You watch it.”

“Wh—you bumped into me!

“Yeah?” Will goads, taking a slow step towards the man. “And I bumped into you.

The guy was sputtering, unbelievably confused in what the hell was even happening, and Will took the chance to look around for Hannibal.

“Are you tryin’ to start somethin’, my guy?” taunts the man, who was now puffed up like a baby gorilla and semi-sober.

Will can’t help but squint. “I’m not your g—” 

His sentence falls short and it’s that oh shit moment where he remembers that they’re technically on the run. Or at least, hiding from any form of being recognized at the moment. Will sighs like this reminder has personally aggrieved him, and is more annoyed that he can’t put this guy in his place, but nonetheless, still waves his red hands in amends. “No. No, I’m actually not trying to start anything.” He grits his teeth for this part, “Sorry.”

The guy probably would’ve said something back if Will hadn’t ducked his head and made his getaway under the guise of his now pulled-up scarf and smashed down beanie. He finds himself shivering and stuffs his hands in his pockets, ignoring the way his fingers are beginning to turn numb.

Even though no words are said, Will can feel the presence lingering behind him. It’s like a second part of him, a phantom arm—even if that limb’s not really there, it still feels real enough to be.

He sighs into his scarf and lowers his eyes. “You disappear when it counts,” he says softly, bitterly.

Hannibal doesn’t move, but Will knows he’s frowning. “I don’t think I have much control over my spiritual presence, Will.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” and Will pulls away, Hannibal following behind him shortly thereafter.


He doesn’t know how it got to be so fucking cold. The sun has been out for the past couple hours and the snow has been melting at a steady pace and now it’s just decided to disappear at the drop of a hat just like everything else in his life.

Will blames Hannibal. Why not? He was the reason Will was at this Farmer’s Market in the first place—left back at the apartment so Will could get away for a minute. He was also the reason Will’s mood has dipped into foul territory, not only from the recent blunder with the drunk guy, but with the other blunder with The drunk guy—himself—and the fact that the Other drunk guy—Hannibal—wasn’t actually drunk and couldn’t even give him a heads up that maybe hinted at some limits if confession-laying was inevitable. Will wasn’t ready to just…lay it all on the table.

Whatever. Even though he only remembers bits and pieces, it couldn’t have been…Will frowns. No, it couldn’t have been that. He couldn’t have said that, could he?

Will snatches the sunglasses off his face and shoves them into his pocket. He’s somehow made it to the end of the market, walking along the road that housed all the food trucks, except he’s more towards the city, less people over here. He still has a great view of the water and decides to take advantage of it, stopping mid-stride to neatly haul himself on top of some three-foot brick wall that separates the sidewalk from the beach. His stupid square-toed shoes dangle over the edge of the wall, shadowing snow-laden sand, and half his trenchcoat is completely soaked, along with the entirety of his ass, but who gives a shit.

He’s glad Hannibal wasn’t here for this. He’d sit there, sure, but he wouldn’t appreciate why they were sitting there. The way the wind pushes against his cheeks, puffing them red, or how the white beach dips at an incline until it meets the lake, footprints in the sand remaining since they’re made of slush and snow. Birdsong overtakes the wild music playing over the Farmer’s Market and he immerses himself in it—catching the eyes of sanderlings huddling together in the shallowest of water, little plump things with long beaks and black-beady eyes. Along with the birdsong comes the shushing of the blue waves, lapping gently against the shore and rocking anchored bass boats, pontoons, and a couple jon boats along with it. Can’t have anything too big and fancy on the lake, so it’s nice to spot some familiar styles. Makes him feel better. Makes him feel somewhat at ease, at least enough to unwrap his scarf so that it dangles from his neck.

The thing that pulls him from this place is not time, Hannibal, or the police, but some kind of warbled shriek calling him from behind. He doesn’t take the bait at first, unbelievably wary from the get-go, especially since the echoing makes it sound like this person’s shouting “Will!” in a heavy Southern accent, but he eventually turns and scoots himself off the wall, warily following the loudening shrieks down the street, blaming his FBI roots along with Hannibal’s contagious curiosity for the uncertain as he goes, until he realizes it’s not his name he’s hearing, it’s meowing

While the market is still visible, he’s more-so left it behind and scrambles over sidewalks, waving as a car honks at him when he shoots across the street, and finally slides in front of a storm drain down an empty alley when he’s circled the rest of the area and this is the loudest the meowing has been. There’s a small pocket under the sidewalk, crumbled so that it creates a cave that connects to the storm drain, and Will squints best he can, getting down on his hands and knees, not minding the mushy sludge and slush. Two blue eyes glitter back at him and his mouth falls open just a bit.

“Hey, little buddy,” he whispers sweetly, lowering himself to his elbows now to peer a little closer into the pocket cave. Even though the alley’s mostly empty, some people do whisk by in his peripherals; they probably think he’s insane, talking to a storm drain. Wouldn’t be the first time. “The insane part, not talking to a storm drain,” he amends aloud and tentatively reaches his hand towards the pocket hole. The kitten inside, which can’t be more than seven weeks old he realizes, squeaks a hiss and bats him with a tiny orange paw.

“How hideous,” comes Hannibal’s voice from above and Will audibly groans. “It’s a wonder anyone finds them worth keeping.”

“Pspsps,” Will coos to the kitten, making a point to completely ignore all things not helping with this current situation, and very narrowly avoids tagging on, Same can be said about you.

Hannibal bends down to Will’s right. “Do you need help? Perhaps I should call for somebody. Like pest control,” his voice draws off, “Or Sanitation.”

“Shut up. I don’t want to talk to you.” He reaches for the cat only to be batted and hissed at again. Fake Hannibal very obviously congratulates himself with a smirk and disappears from Will’s peripherals.

Finally, Will flops on his stomach so both hands can reach into the cave, and despite the initial hissing and spewing, he manages to catch the kitten by the scruff and hauls it out from under the concrete. It’s covered in grime, dirty from all the gunk and slush it was stuck in for God knows how long, but it’s pretty clear the kitten’s an orange one, all spiked-up like a porcupine and the way it’s spitting and mewing makes Will chuckle. He huddles it inside his trenchcoat, wiping at its tiny little face with the edge of his sleeve.

“There you go. See? You’re good. You’re okay.” The kitten seems to have calmed down for the most part, bundled in Will’s arms, and Will heaves himself to his feet, even though it’s still mewling. “I know, I know,” he whispers, one hand holding the kitten to his chest while the other strokes it’s head. “He’s annoying, isn’t he. I’m planning on stapling his mouth shut sometime in the near future.”


He never considered himself a cat person, but walking on the boardwalk with a fist-sized kitten huddled to his chest is a new experience, and he can’t say that he’s not endeared by the way the kitten’s snuggling his neck. That might not be a good idea—fleas and all sorts of diseases. And they can’t very well pop into the ER unless they dyed their hair and had face surgery. He checks the kitten’s breathing and strokes it’s fur, brittle and sticky, with two fingers, rediscovering the brick wall he’d hopped up on before and attempts to sit on top of it again, this time with a tiny abandoned kitten in his trench coat.

Well, if anything, he’ll spread whatever roundworms he gains to Hannibal and maybe, if they’re lucky, won’t die but get to suffer indefinitely for all the horrible shit that they’ve done.

He peeks into the bulk of his trench coat at the bleary-eyed kitten. “Wouldn’t that be a fun way to be found out,” he says to it, staring straight ahead. “Freddie would have a field day with the tabloid titles. Jack would kick my ass. Alana probably wouldn’t even talk to me. Be a nice reunion.”

The kitten yawns in reply and he smiles at it like he would a lost puppy. He’s tried caring for street dogs before, or the water dogs, strays that used to hang out by the Lake Pontchartrain docks that the fisherman would feed, but feral cats are a new territory for him. And the consideration of those dogs he used to know brings to mind his seven rescues, Buster, Max, Zoe, Harley, Ellie, Jack, and Winston. He wants to ask them how they’re doing, where they are, if they’re all right, if they remember him. Not that they’d respond, but the big smiles and lolling tongues—Zoe’s snorts, Ellie’s excited dance, Max’s heavy woofs, Harley’s toothy grin, Jack’s smiling eyes, Buster’s happy twirls, and Winston’s eager yips would be enough of an answer.

It’s then, for the first time in a little while, that he feels a genuine pang of sadness for something other than Hannibal. He misses his dogs, that much is apparent. The ease that came with caring for them, not that they were easy to care for, but they made him feel comfortable. They held no expectations of him beyond food and play and didn’t go around pointing fingers and then guns at murderers. And they definitely didn’t go around killing people and eating them, at least not to his knowledge (Mason doesn’t count). 

They loved him and he loved them. So simple.

He stifles a sigh and looks down at the kitten, completely engulfed in his trench coat like the filling in a burrito; it’s big blue eyes blink back up at him. “You look too young to be out on your own,” he tells it thoughtfully. “Though I guess I don’t know much about cats. Do people put collars on their cats?”

The kitten meows and digs its claws into his shirt until it poked it’s head out of his trench coat. He raises his eyebrows and tries to grab the kitten to pull it back into his arms, but it wiggles itself free of his grasp and of course beelines it for distant stairs that lead down to the beach.

“Hey!” he hollers automatically, leaping to his feet on top of the brick wall. “Hey, hold on!”

Will breaks into a sprint best he can in the sand, tailing the little orange fuzzy that’s bouncing over slush mounds and snow. It occurs to him on the chase that he probably looks half-out-of-his-mind, especially when he’s tripping over strewn sticks and foliage and is audibly blaming that on Hannibal too. But the real kicker is when the kitten zigzags him from the beach to the stairs again and then down to the docks outstretching into the lake with a couple of anchored boats he’d taken notice of earlier. There’s a good-sized Bayliner laying on top of the panels there, and though he’s very inclined to ignore it and the people that are sure to be around it, the kitten, of course, flies forwards and Will, in that moment, really wishes he had as much of an affinity for cats as he does with dogs.

“Well, look who it is!” 

The voice physically knocks him backwards and with his heart in his mouth, it takes every ounce of willpower not to frantically scour the area for its origin. When he spots her hanging off the edge of the beige Bayliner boat on top of the dock, the older woman from the bar?, he realizes, she makes an attempt to meet him, and he winces and accidentally says, “Fuck.”

“So much for stayin’ away, Whiskey-boy,” she locks eyes and leans up against one of the wooden posts. “I knew I had a sense ‘bout you.” Even behind her sunglasses, he can tell that she’s trying to piece together his story. The way she’s tracing his face, which without his sunglasses, is probably a portrait of scars and blue bruising.

He looks away and shoves his sunglasses back on. “Oh,” he manages to sound somewhat convincing in his unsurprise and gestures towards the dock. She turns and he nods at the little orange menace that was now curled up behind a wooden post on the planks halfway down. “That yours?”

“What? Oh, the cat? Nope. Lots of strays ‘round here. This guy lives around the docks so we let him stay.”

He frowns when she seems unbothered, rummaging in the front pocket of her overalls. “He was stuck in a storm drain,” he says evenly.

“Explains why I haven’t seen him much ‘round,” she chirps and grins when finding a lug wrench in her pocket. “Hey, do me a favor, will ya? The SSS keeps taking on water so I’m checking to make sure the engine’s not overheating. Can you find some muffs to slide over the garden hose? And then slide that apparition over the inlet holes. I’ll let you know when to turn on the hose.” She gives him a once over, “Might wanna take off those sunglasses and scarf so you can see.”

Will hesitated naturally—spent all this time out in the open and now he’s just a beacon all by himself with some person on the docks. He tosses one glance over his shoulder, to the rest of the beach and the outskirts of the Market for both uniforms and possibly Hannibal, real or not, before turning back with a slow nod, fingers carefully working to remove his glasses and scarf tucked into his coat. 

He feels the burn of her stare when he pockets his scarf, oily skin and a couple day’s worth of stubble doing nothing to hide the long line of crooked stitches on his pink cheek. They were once perfectly straight, five millimeters apart and seamless, but he’d undid Hannibal’s handiwork in favor of his own a couple days prior because he liked the way Hannibal’s face would scrunch up whenever he’d accidentally glance at them.

She no sooner turns away and directs him to a nearby toolbox. There’s a gnawing feeling eating away at his ribs, the guilty kind you get when you pretend to fiddle with the radio when some homeless person at a stop light limps down the middle lane with a sign. He can be good. He has to be good, earn a few brownie points here and there—if not for whatever higher power is holding the murder shit over his head, then with the other half of his brain that knows for a fact he can’t commit to completely basketing morality.

So while he’s not personally eager to showcase this need-to-do-good servitude, he focuses on the more positive light of this situation—which is that, even for a very brief moment, he gets to “work” on a boat again. 

Even though he’s given no extra information, he knows exactly what the Bayliner needs. He finds the muffs in a side pocket of the toolbox, sticks them on a snaking garden hose attached to a nearby house bib on the small outhouse building, and suction-cups the whole apparition over the inlet holes. He starts the hose and she starts the engine, lowering the drive.

“Looks good to me,” she hollers over the screaming boat engine. “Looks like the Impeller’s properly cooling the engine. So it’s not overheat that’s leaking my boat.” She turns off the engine and hops off the boat. “And hey, good work on the muff stuff. You know your way around.”

He heaves himself out of a squat. “I’m competent enough.”

“No, I mean you actually know your way around a boat. What the hell are ya doin’ now, Jimmy Buffett?”

“Jimmy B—” he squints back at her and she gestures to his thicker mustache and beanie. What he would give to be home right now. Instead, he kneels next to the overdrive and says, “The underside of the bellow’s leaking water.” She joins him in kneeling, following where he’s pointing to the dribbling stream of water leftover from the hose. “Over time, that water’ll get into the boat. Probably why you’re taking on water when you shouldn’t be.”

She lifts her sunglasses into her hair, amber eyes blinking as she takes a moment. “So, what, I need to replace it?”

“Repair, more likely. I’m thinking that your drive bellow’s not seated. The clamp’s probably pushed too far forward or too far back. How do you store your sterndrive?”

“In my garage for winter.”

“Up or down?”

“I store it down,” she says. “The original owner stored it tilted up.”

He is unavoidably reminded of his Academy students in this instance, and sighs from the depths of his soul. “Water gets into the exhaust hub when you store it up.”

“So I’ve been told. But we’ve had it for half a year and had no problems.”

“Spring’s coming so the ice crystallization built up in there is most likely melting. Either your bellow’s pulled away from the bottom or the strain from the upright position is stretching them too thin. In the latter, that could cause your bellows to crack. And that leads to leaking. Leaking leads to sinking.” He finds that he’s been staring a good while assessing the rest of the boat and it’s external problems, so when the woman eases herself back into his space, he’s a little more than irritated and unhelpfully voices it.


“You’re good.”

“So you’ve said.”

“Who taught you how to work?”

“My father.”

“He from here? Do I know him?”



Great. Now tell her you’re most likely on the FBI’s Most Wanted List while you’re at it.

“Knew it,” she beams and cups a hand over her mouth. “I knew you had the blood. Hey Henry!”

Fucking shit. Will rears around when a head pops out one of the boat’s windows. “Huh?”

The woman makes a grand gesture to his existence. “Look who I found!”

“Laila! What the hell you got homeless kids workin’ on your boat now? Where’d that nephew of yours go off to, huh?” From this distance, the guy’s face looked completely covered in hair like something shriveled up and died on it, and when Will squinted at the guy in attempt to pinpoint where he’s seen him before, the guy’s great mustache wiggles and his narrowed eyes squint right back at him.

“Hey, I know you.”

Oh fuck. Will slides a hand into his pocket for a knife that was definitely not in there.

“It’s the Whiskey-boy,” the woman, Laila apparently, answers and pats him on the shoulder. “Affectionately known as Jimmy Buffet.”

 “Then I think I’ll call ya Jim! Assumin’ you don’t wanna share your real name.”

“Slim Jim is more like it. Look at the kid—he’s skin and bones.”

Will winced and tore his hands out of his coat. He shouldn’t be here. He fishes for the sunglasses in his pocket. “I should get going.”

“Going?” Laila pipes up, a frown re-molding her face. “You just got here.”

He tries to amend her disappointment, “I came out for some fresh air. And I got it. I appreciate it, but,” he tosses over the muffs he’d taken off the hose, “I’ve got somewhere to be.”

With that, he fits the sunglasses on his face and tosses a quick glance over to where the orange kitten had been hiding earlier. Engine probably scared her off, he thinks depressingly when the kitten’s nowhere to be found, more upset about a few things than he’s willing to share, and he’s about to trudge back through slush and sand when Laila literally jumps in front of him.

“Okay, hang on,” she announces, holding up both her hands in almsgiving. “I couldn’t find anyone willing to diagnose, let alone take a look at the SSS in anything under a two week frame, costing both my time and half my bank account, and you just did it in five minutes.” He blinks and she’s holding up a full wad of old bills, twenties and hundreds splayed together. “I may be a boat beginner,” she tries evenly, “but I know a seasoned mechanic when I see one. I’ll pay you five hundred in cash if you can get started on this thing for me. And then you can just leave. Alright?”

He steps around her. “No.”

It’s clear she’s taken aback with how easily he’s just rejected her and in an attempt at appealing to his better nature, repurposes herself in front of him again. “Seriously, literally just…one hour. That’s it—not even an hour and this is all yours. You can keep the incognito stuff on if you want, I don’t care.”

Okay. That actually does stutter him to a stop. The incognito stuff? Does she mean the sunglasses? He knew he stood out, but was he really so inconspicuous? And goddamnit, that got him thinking about other points too: money would be nice. His own money, not Hannibal’s hush or buried-in-some-forgotten-estate-in-France money, but Jesus, what time was it now? He’s been out here for a while—and he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t slightly worried that Hannibal might come looking for him—or worse, despite his promise, decide to pop in for a quick visit to the animal hospital. 

But even worse, there’s a good chance these people’ll ask around the neighborhood for him—a new and mysterious definite mechanic with an eye-twitching problem and a series of facial scars of who no one knows about, but everyone’s willing to look into to find out more; he’s already in too deep, shit. 

Fix their problem, and get the hell out of this place. Negatives, he gets found out and fucking dies. Positives, he gets to work on a boat. And do a “good deed,” apparently. And there’s also a cat.

He regrettably makes up his mind.

“Thirty minutes and you forget you saw me.”



He’s been here for at least four hours, give or take. 

He initially only took the outdrive off to make his life easier, but after removing the bell housing and a few more screws so that the bellows were fully exposed, found more problems than he knew what to do with. “Bellow’s pulled away from the bottom,” he told Laila, reaching his hand inside. “Your gimbal bearing needs to be replaced too. Listen.” He stuffs his hand into the drive and rotates the gimbal bearing. When he did this way back when, his father would say a shot gimbal bearing would sound like dropped marbles. Will always thought it sounded like a low animal growl. “Bring all your tools here and I’ll make do with what you have. Do you have a replacement gimbal bearing? I’ll also need a gimbal bearing puller, a grease gun, and spline grease.”

So that’s where he’s been, working on boat motors again. Needless to say, after about the thirty minutes he was allotted, he got a little too-in-the-zone and let the comfort in problem solving, rebuilding, and repairing wash over him. Must be the old mechanic in him—and that “do-good” burden that’s been plaguing him ever since coming to today’s Farmer’s Market.

And although Fake-Hannibal hasn’t popped up since he’d pulled the kitten out of the storm drain, there’s no way both the real one and the illusion are just sitting on their hands doing nothing, whether it be lounging in the apartment or inside of Will’s mind. There’s always a scheme, a plan, a foresight of something going on and it irritates the fuck out of Will that he can’t have peace and quiet when the Hannibals, real or fake, are both not even here right now. He grunts and tightens a few screws. If I go home and you’re not there, I swear to God, I will kill you. And no, it won’t be with my hands. It’ll be with a gun, just to piss us both off. A derringer. 

He’s sitting cross-legged on the ground working up a sweat with his coat sleeves pulled back. The light is leaving the sky, the sun not exactly setting yet, but on the verge of beginning its descent behind the sea. With each passing minute, he’s torn between feeling guilty and not—leaving Hannibal (the real one) all by himself versus returning to something comfortable, as close as he’s gonna get to the life he left behind. Nothing says he can’t have both pictures. But that would require a confession of sorts and pride coupled with admitting aloud Hannibal’s “You can’t simply expect life to be the way that it was before by ignoring what’s changed” is dead on the nose is ridiculously difficult to really consider.

Fuck you I didn’t come out here to think about this, Will thinks and happily shoves a Bras d’Honneur to the sky above and then to the ground below (because when the bastard dies, that’s where he’ll be going) before returning to very loudly beat in some wayward screws.

But of course: quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue—speak of the wolf and you see his tail, even if it’s in the form of being punched in the face with smoke-and-spice scented Dolce and Gabbana cologne before even seeing the stupid three-piece in his peripherals. Jesus, and he thought smelling people was Hannibal’s thing.

“Are we able to discuss what seems to be our fifth argument in the past week or is addressing the elephant still against your law.” Fake-Hannibal in a completely new get-up—light beige jacket, beige vest, white dress shirt with a stupid purple paisley tie this time (The Christening with the ortolans, is what comes to mind)—is standing over Will’s shoulder, probably considering the mix-matched boat parts with no real weight.

Will doesn’t say anything, ignoring the way Hannibal leans a little against him as he fiddles with the new gimbal bearing and a couple screws. 

“You believed us to be on equal playing fields when we were sitting on the floor,” Hannibal recalls now. “The both of us equally-as intoxicated.”

Will’s grip tightens, but he remains poised and pointedly chucks an unneeded wrench at the nearby toolbox.

“Which is why you felt cheated. You felt as though we were both relinquishing control in exchange for honesty with one another. Honesty is a difficult emotion, and in the spirit of reciprocity and drugs, where I am not really me and you are not really you, it becomes a much more fluent concession blamed on a third-party substance rather than the hidden-away dwellings of our own consciousness. Intoxication enhances thoughts already present within the spanse of our minds. It emboldens our ability to act on those thoughts and feelings without the inhibition of possible regret.”

“Well, I call bullshit because I’m feeling a lot of regret.”

“Say somethin’, boy?” calls Henry from over top of the boat.

“No,” Will says back.

“Why? Because you were openly honest with how you feel? Dragging the unspoken truth to light?”

 Will stands up from his spot and relocates next to the outdrive he’d tilted over. “It’s because I don’t remember much of the unspoken truth.”

 Hannibal doesn’t move from his spot by the bottom of the boat. “Ah, so you’re upset because you don’t remember and I do. Your body betrayed you, as did I. Seems a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?”

“Fuckin’ piece of dog shit.” Will slams his hand against the metal bearings and both Laila and Henry pop their heads up over the upper boat railing.

“You good? Need help?”

He seethes, “No, I’m fine. It’s just this annoying-ass pipe won’t shut up.”

When the two uneasily look at each other and retreat back on top of the boat, Will sends a glorious glare over in Hannibal’s direction, to which the latter simply smiles, albeit much softer than any of his typical self-satisfied victories.

“Consider this, Will—you do remember, simply because you’re acknowledging there is an unspoken truth in the first place.” Hannibal’s footsteps grow louder behind him. “Guilty by admittance. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Will grunts and checks the u-joints. The lady doth kick your ass back to Lithuania.

“But even so—now that you know I was more-or-less aware of my actions, your own seem bleak and uninspiring in comparison. That is essentially what I gather from your upset.” Fake-Hannibal takes a moment before reaching Will, coming to rest at his side before easing into a squat with a light, gentle exhale. “Why do you compare yourself to me so often? You are your own person.”

Will doesn’t look at Hannibal then, though a great part of him wants to. He drenches his hand in grease and continues his banging-on-metal much quieter than before.

Fake-Hannibal looks to Will though, with admiration, fascination, and a powerful kind of longing, so much like the real one that it hurts to tell the difference.

“We are alike in many ways, Will, but no matter how unified we become, there will always be you and there will always be me.”

“I know,” Will says quietly and his gaze falters, as do his deftly-moving fingers.

“I never once took advantage of your situation,” amends Hannibal, making an attempt to meet Will’s eyes. “In fact, I was rather touched that you were comfortable enough to openly share fragments of your ailments. I find I am endlessly wondering about you, and with the pieces you do share, I can’t help but consider what else I could still learn about you. What else I could still learn from you. And you, about me. From me. You are addictive in every sense of the word, Will Graham. A one-of-a-kind sweet treat for an Epicurean at heart. I can’t get enough of you.” 

Will finally paused his work to turn his gaze just barely, finding Hannibal there with one singular eyebrow raised in mock-seriousness. Will just snorts and turns away with a smile, lost in so much feeling that his fingertips were going numb—and this time, it wasn’t from the cold. He sets down the spare u-joints and closes his eyes, just for a minute, opening them again to Laila and Henry arguing up on the deck, and then back down to Hannibal again, who was still here, right by his side.

He shakes his head sadly and finishes up what he can. “You’re not even here. I-I’m making up with a hallucination.” Hannibal only tilts his head, taking no offense. “I don’t even know if I have it in me to repeat this conversation to your actual face.”

Mylimasis.” His voice is unwavering, smooth and soothing like a sailboat on a windless sea, whispered so gently that Will’s head immediately snaps up to where Hannibal’s fingers brush deftly against his cheek. “You won’t have to. I would take one look at you and already know.”

Will’s dry lips part automatically, his mouth opening to say something, anything, but by the time he finds the words, Hannibal is gone yet again. His proud voice, however, so light and fond, still echoes back and forth within the halls of Will’s mind: mylimasis, it rings. His heart thumps heavily in his chest as he wonders both what it means to Hannibal and what it means to him.


Couple things: I understand this is painstakingly slow (this ran a little longer than I would have liked), but the next chapter, which I'm hoping is the conclusion to the Sequentia series, will be an important one for them.

I also researched a bit on boats, but I am still unbelievably ignorant on all things a real mechanic would know so I hope I spoke fluent enough bullshit to convince you otherwise. If not, well. Better luck next time.

Thank you very much to everyone that reads this story! I really do appreciate you all so very much!

Chapter 7: Sequentia, iv. Lacrymosa


How nice! Only about a week between the last update! This will never happen again aha.

Hope you enjoy this one! It's the last one of this sequence!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

By the time he was done installing the new gimbal bearing, the new u-joints, and greasing up what was necessary before reattaching the outdrive, the sky was a painting of red and black, the only blue being the lake that stretched out in front of him. His plan was to stop into a bar for a quick drink—numb some of the feelings stuck like a lump in his throat. Yes, he needs to get back to Hannibal, but today’s been a rough day, and he’s almost certain that if he goes back now, still sober and sensitive, there’ll be some kind of falling out between the two of them in one form or another. Which is not ideal, considering he’s both mentally tired from all the turmoil and physically tired from the relentless ache and weariness in his breath and bones.

“Throwing yourself off a cliff tends to have such an effect,” Hannibal had told him, Fake-Hannibal that is.

Will had gifted him a side-eye and answered, “I should’ve thrown us headfirst so your mouth was in some way maimed instead of your leg.”

“Better luck next time.”

“Here’s hoping.”

Somehow, after pocketing the five-hundred that Laila promised him, he was roped into going to a bar with both her and Henry. If he’s being honest with himself, currently sitting at the edge of the counter swirling his third whiskey, he doesn’t know why he agreed. The whole place was rowdy and chaotic—John Denver over the old speakers, every chair filled with every tired or unruly adult in the city that’s over forty, a vacant saloon-style piano in one corner of the room with some kind of forgotten Trivia going on in the other. It wasn’t for the ambience, or maybe it was. Easier for people to skim right past you and your portrait of scars when you fit in with every other Joe and Jim here.

“And I kid you not, Jim: snakes. There were snakes everywhere.” Yeah, speaking of Jim. “It was like Indiana Jones—you see that movie? Pit of snakes and I had to wade through ‘em like they were knee-high muck. Halfway through I just…grabbed Elise by the waist and hurled ‘er over.”

He sips gently at his glass. “Elise?”

“Ah. I guess you haven’t met her.” Laila wipes her mouth with a long striped sleeve and hollers at the bartender for another beer. She turns to grin at him. “You’re easy to talk to, kid—I feel like I’ve known you for years. Maybe that’s why I never elaborated.”

He doesn’t say as much, but he smiles when the last of his whiskey warms his lips: easy to talk to because he doesn’t talk.

“Elise is my wife,” she’s rambling now. “Has been for a…Jesus, a decade and a half now. Well there’s a scary thought. Fifteen years. That’s half the age of my nephew.”

Will just hums when Laila closes her eyes and folds her arms, leaning into the back of her barstool. He sways a little when he looks down at this empty glass. Maybe he was here for the ambience, sure, or maybe it was because Laila reminds him of someone. Someone who used to sit exactly like that with the same self-assured grin on her face. He smiles sadly at the thought, tapping the table twice so the bartender knows to fill him another glass.

“Nephew’s name is Niall. He may act all angry and closed-off, but he’s good. He’s got a good heart like his mother. But that,” she opens one eye and snags the new pint mug at her spot, “is a story for another time. Never a time. Another time when you’re a little less drunk than I am. You’re gettin’ there, your eyes are all over the place.” She leans over her stool to wave a hand in front of his face and he decidedly waves right back. He waves at Henry too, who’s passed out on Laila’s left with his cheek smashed against the counter and his beard smothered in spit and ale. Then Will snatches his waving hand with his other hand when his brain gradually catches up to what the hell’s he’s currently doing and he comes back to himself when he finds he’s punched his forehead against the table in embarrassment. He sighs and taps the table again, now with his fist, when the bartender never came back with his whiskey, or bourbon, or whatever the hell he was drinking.


The night comes and goes like this in staggered pauses and extended lengths of clouded clarity. He doesn’t remember most of it, both because he was deeply nestled into his corner cradling his glass of mixed liquor and because he chooses not to.

Four drinks in, he’s still somewhat mentally stable and coherent.

“Ya know,” hollers Laila, “we’re out here havin’ the time of our lives and I don’t even know your name.” She has to be a few beers in because she’s currently talking to his hand. Henry is still passed out on the counter. “Cause you’re Mr. ‘I’d rather it stay that way’ with your nice trenchcoat and dressy boots. So what is it? I’ll give ya mine if ya give me yours.”

“I already know your name,” he says slowly, steadying himself by leaning his right shoulder up against the wall.

“Then what’s yours?

Will opened his mouth and then immediately closed it. “Jack.”

“Jack. Jack.” She repeats the name a few more times before squinting at his face. “Jim…Jack…no it ain’t. Try again.”

“If you don’t believe me, that’s fine.”

“I don’t believe ya because it’s not true. So I’ma just call you Whiskey-boy. Either that or it’s back to Slim Jim, your choice.”


Five (maybe six?) drinks in, he’s thoroughly plastered and all intelligence is thrown out the window.

“You single?”

“I’m taken,” Will says immediately and sips his drink. “By God.” He lifts his gaze to the sky, or the ceiling in this case, and closes his eyes as though he may be taken up by a beam of light at any given moment.

The poor young woman that had gladly stolen Laila’s empty chair and was clearly hitting on him, witnesses this and can only blink. “I mean do you have a girlfriend?”


“Do you want one?” She tries to close the distance between them with explorative fingers on his shoulder, but he hisses at her and she genuinely flinches, withdraws her hand, and has no idea what to do.

“I have eight,” he tells her now.


Will clears his throat. “Eight,” he repeats again and thinks of each one of his dogs. “Nine if you count the old man probably sulking in my chair. Which speaking of—he better not be using my blanket.”


He notices that she’s currently wincing at him like he’s insane so he amends that by tagging on, “Oh, and if I find out he’s anywhere but the apartment, I’m gonna kill him. But with a shotgun just to piss him off.”

By the time he has one of those clouded flashes of clarity, she’s removed herself from Laila’s stool and taken it upon herself to evacuate to the entire other side of the room. Laila, who’d been lurking in the background then, pops back into her stool with a water in her hand.

“You’re scarin’ away the pretties.”

“Good,” he says and goes to sip at his drink. “There’s only room for one pretty and that’s me.”

Laila snorts and points to his raised glass. “Okay, girl. Take it easy on the whiskey now, you’ve got all night.”

Another brief moment of clarity. He sighs and scrubs a hand over his sweaty face, “I’m going to drink this over there.” He’s teetering a little bit in his seat, but still manages to gesture towards the opposite end of the counter, an even more reclusive spot than his special corner seat.

She raises an eyebrow in his direction. “Drink enough and you won’t be over there for long,” she says and he raises his glass to that.

“Then here’s hoping I pass out before that happens.”


Six drinks, he thinks. Six? Probably. Hopefully not anymore than that. Hannibal is going to kill him. Will is going to kill himself first though, maybe with enough booze or just another cliff, so the threat of a not-very-happy Hannibal is not really a big deal. The night is no longer young, pitch black through the windows, and the amount of people in the bar is devastating—not so many as to cause a bar fight, but enough to occasionally bump his shoulder on accident—and now, somehow, there’s live music complete with a terrible guitarist and a semi-decent bassist playing over the John Denver radio station.

Laila somehow migrated to his lonely spot at the bar. Maybe because he started talking to the wall on his left (Jesus) or maybe it was because he may have gotten a little emotional and tried punching the wall (fucking hell), but whatever it was, he was aggrieved that he was essentially being babysat so the bartender, who was a fifty-or-something year-old dark-haired woman who absolutely loathed him, wouldn’t throw him, and subsequently, Laila and Henry, out of the place.

“S-o-o,” she tries and pokes his shoulder so he tips into the wall and stops swaying. “You’re taken, huh?”


“By God.”

“Oh. Yep.” He pops the “p” and giggles. Then he realizes he’s just audibly giggled and is so incredibly mortified that he drops his head into his hands.

Laila observes this with interest. “And by a little miss Other.”

He’s not even listening and mumbles back, “Not even sure what that means.”

“I think you’re married,” Laila tells him, “And it ain’t to God.”

And so genuinely out of his mind, he spits out half of his whiskey which ends up both on the counter and on his trench coat, and then is left coughing and weezing as amber liquid and snot drips out of his nose.

“That’s a yes!” laughs Henry from the literal other side of the bar, who’s sprouted to life in order to laugh at Will for five seconds, before blacking back out onto the countertop.

“Wh—” Will tries and coughs again, “I am definitely not married.”

He’s fighting for his life and Laila just takes his refusal as denial, leaning back into her barstool with folded arms. “You’ve got the frown lines of someone that’s married. Trust me,” she gestures to her own face, “I know.

What the actual fuck, he manages to stutter, but is not sure whether or not he said that out loud. “ No. I am not married. I’m a sad nomad that hitchhikes cross country.”

“That may be true but you’re a sad, married nomad that’s probably the most stubborn passenger princess this side of the Mississippi has ever seen.”

Passenger what—“Whatever,” he exclaims and promptly raises his glass. “I’m married to my work, if that’s what you mean. I am Jack and Jack is me.”

Laila raises her own glass and hollers over the music, “Okay kid, I think you’re fading away. But that’s what tonight’s about—here, I’ll join you for a sip. Don’t think you need a shot.”

Bleary-eyed and happily numb from feeling, Will shakes his head and goes to stand. “A la sante des gens que j’aime,” he announces, and grins at the way Laila tries to stand with him, both of them stumbling and nearly falling over the other.

“Oh God, he’s speaking Creole,” she laughs and clinks their glasses together, her water and his mud-mixture of something, with a hearty bellow. “He is from Dixie!”

The whole place seems to chorus in agreeance around him and at that point in time, he falls into one of those “leaves of absences” again—the “leave your body and brain” kind of absence, and returns to himself sometime later, fingers red and aching with his scarf tied around his forehead like a bandana as he slowly comes back and turns his gaze to the distant cloud-like mountains in the foreground, realizing that, when hit with a bitter gust of wind and stinging ice-snow, he’s now outside.

He tries to ask what the hell happened, where the hell he was, and why he was currently outside, but the two people dragging him forward, both probably drunk themselves with the way they’re zigzagging, don’t seem to hear him or don’t care until one of them lets him walk on his own and shoves a finger in his face.

“You’re ma-r-r-i-e-d,” she announces to the sleeping neighborhood and Will tries hissing at her.


“You are. I know it. I just k-n-o-w. Okay then, riddle me this: what were those Sweet Williams for, hm? I saw you put ‘em near a dumpster at the Farmer’s Market.”

Will waves her off, not in the mood. “Who’re you callin’ sweet? I’m pretty.”

“Not you, the flowers. ” Laila paused, seeming to slowly register something. She taps Henry on the shoulder and they all pause on the snow-laden sidewalk. “Your name is William?”

Will now actually does manage to hiss at her and shoves his way through the two of them blocking his way home. “No, it’s Will. Why does everyone assume it’s William?” And of course, too little too late comes the shining moment of clarity where he blinks, pauses, and closes his big mouth. “I didn’t say that out loud. Forget I said anything.

Laila leaps to his side and Will starts to sway in uneasiness. “No, your name is Will! I know it is! Will, Will, Will, Will—”

“I’m going to bed now, goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” She waves when he conks the hell out right then and there, half-sprawling into the slush on the street and of course, now comes her brief moment of sobriety (after he’s already laying on the concrete). “No, wait! You can’t sleep here, kid—I mean, Will! Here let me help you up!”


Yes, Hannibal is going to kill him. Holy shit he’s going to be pissed. Good thing or bad thing? Will still doesn’t know. And as mentioned before, the bastard better still be at the apartment or so help them God, there will be hell to pay.

They’ve probably been walking for nearly thirty minutes maybe?, Laila and Henry now choosing to reduce most conversation to basic questions as much as possible probably so Will doesn’t accidentally say something he shouldn’t, which he appreciates. And though it feels like the long walk coupled with the cool air and quiet night are finally starting to sober him up, the tall, less-than-pleased, three-pieced shadow to his left says otherwise.

“You’ve been drinking,” Hannibal says tersely, the fake one again of course.

Will glares at the guy’s stupid outfit, a beacon in the dead of night—a decked out cream-colored three-piece, a gently pink collared shirt, maroon paisley tie, with a gold watch strapped to his wrist and shin-high socks to match. Will can’t place where he’s seen this suit before. “No shit, Sherlock,” he grumbles and allows himself to be tugged forward by Henry, who grunts at him in drunk-speech to keep up. 

“Will,” Hannibal now begins with a frown, keeping stride with their crooked ambling, “drinking so much does nothing for your already deteriorating health. In fact, it expedites the process. Not only does it seer the wounds, but excessive drinking also damages the lungs, the liver—”

Will swings to his left and seethes, “Can you just shun the fug up?”

“I didn’t even say anything,” Laila replies on his right and Will just waves a hand in frustration.

“No, not you. You’re okay, Beverly. I’m talking to Dr. Lecturer.”

“Beverly? My name’s Laila, not Beverly.”

Will freezes, mind and body in accordance for once—all immediately sober. God…fucking…shit… he brings his sleeves to his eyes and covers his face, tugging down his bandana-scarf. “Sorry,” he grimaces, everything too real all of a sudden. “I’m really drunk.”

He doesn’t look Laila in the eye, but she doesn’t seem to mind. “I know,” she tells him, patting him on the back with a gloved hand. “Me too.”

Silence follows for a long time after that, Fake-Hannibal thankfully disappearing from his peripherals and both Laila and Henry going rightfully quiet. There’s a gloom that hangs over Will’s head now and he feels sick to his stomach. All the alcohol sure, but it’s more of a disgusting and violent feeling that’s been brought back to the surface after years of repression. There’s a good chance he may throw up.

They pass the familiar Food Lion, the darkened parking lot bare save for a handful of cars, and Will tries to ignore the way Laila keeps peeking over her shoulder, probably looking for the right time to start a conversation that doesn’t include “who’s Beverly” and him having to answer with “a good person.”

“You know,” she begins by saying, awkwardly attempting to change the subject, “I wanna apologize on behalf of Henry. He gets real quiet when he’s drunk. It’s really funny.”

Will just mutters something and falls flat on his face.

“Woah!” Both Henry and Laila haul him to his feet, Laila laughing to break the tension before going quiet again, patting-borderline-punching him in the arm to get his attention with a sudden frenzied look in her eyes. “Hey, is that the place? You said it was literally just up the road.”

“When did I everrr tell you where I…” he squints as he tries to rack his brain for when it was he said anything about his living situation, including but not limited to where he lived, but falls short when the only thing that comes to mind are blank gaps and his not-so proud moments of clarity. He winces at past him, promises to punch that guy in the face if he ever sees him, and tries to tune back into Laila, who’s trying to get his attention by waving her arms and yelling something.

“Will! Is that your apartment place? Will?” She’s pointing at the dark three-story apartment save for the streetlamp that highlights the old grey door leading to the front entrance. Some kind of monstrous rat chooses that exact moment to dart into the wilted, pale shrubbery that decorates the building’s front and it’s genuinely depressing, so much so that he considers commenting on the absurdity of it.

Instead, all he does is hum at how generally abysmal and desolate the place looks, smiling weakly as he does. “Huh? Oh~yep. That’s it. Good job, you found me.” He clinks his wrists together and raises his fists. “I’m not goin’ without a fight. Put ‘em up, Jack. Put up your dukes.”

“I don’t have any dukes to hold up ‘cause they’re holding up all of you. What number you in, I’ll take ya up to the door.”

Sober again, Will tumbles back into himself and mutters between Henry and Laila, “ No. No, I’m okay. Thanks. Just leave me here, I’ll be okay.” He brings a hand to his forehead as Laila looks at him with a solid frown.

“You’re really not. If I let go of you, you’re gonna fall over.” 

Will snorts at that. “I can walk in a straight line I’m just choosing not to because I am a manipulative bastard only second to the King of all manipulative bastards: he who shall not be named.”

“Okay, you’re really gone and I’m finally sobering up.” Laila takes hold of his arm. “What number do you live in? Tell me or I’m going to start pounding on each and every door there is—”

He tears himself away and steadies his posture. “I told you no. How many times do I have to say it? Thanks, but no thanks.” In that moment, he does try to smile, at least for them—be cordial, be kind, they did you a huge favor; fake it ‘til you make it. They can’t see Hannibal. But it falls short just barely and they’re still staring at him unconvinced.

“Please,” he pleads, softer than he would have liked as he feels the lump in his throat harden. “I can manage. Seriously.”

Laila looks to Henry, who’s also unsteady, but apparently more sober than he lets on because he grabs Laila by the arm and pulls her back towards the main road. “Let’s go. The kid’ll be fine.”

Laila frowns, but eventually relents—small mercies. Before the two disappear down the sloped road, she calls back to Will, who’s leaning against the mailboxes outside the building to keep his balance. “You better come back to the docks!” she hollers warily, and he tries to nod, but feels a great wave of nausea overtake him so simply ducks his head and holds up a thumbs-up he hopes she can see.

He stays there for an extra five minutes, just in case they decide to come back and follow him inside. Just in case, what-if…he doesn’t want to risk the possibility, so he calls it safe eventually and does the best he can to stagger back up to the room. This proves to be more difficult than necessary, as the emergency stairs seem to swivel out of the way with every step he takes to get up to the second floor. He will never tell Hannibal this, but he did have to get on his knees and crawl up at one point for fear of falling backwards and breaking his neck.

So now he’s swaying back and forth down the blue-carpet hallway, careful not to accidentally bump into any walls and extremely careful that he doesn’t end up in front of anyone else’s door other than his own. God there’s the obnoxious sunflower ‘Welcome’ mat—and it nearly doesn’t register that this is his place until he tries to twist the lock and finds himself inside.

He hates this place, is the first thought that comes to mind. He hates that there’s two welcome mats, an ugly sunflower one outside the door and this one right here—a light tan coir material that crunches under his square-toed dress shoes. He hates how, as he staggers trying to take off his shoes, he almost impales himself on the coat rack hooks, wooden and bare since he’d stolen the trench coat off it earlier this morning. He hates the layout of this place, it’s terrible lighting, how the kitchen fan whirrs constantly because the off-switch is apparently broken. With his coat and shoes almost off, he glares at the closed black curtains and the black and white fishing sign that exists to the left of them. He also hates the stupid fucking sign, how “It’s better to sit in a boat thinking about God than to sit in a church thinking about fishing” somehow reminds him of his dogs, of working on boat motors, of his old conversations with Hannibal where they had a hard time looking each other in the eye because they’d break down into hysterics if they did; of gentle ease, peace and quiet, and happiness—the opposite of fuckall right now, and decidedly chucks his balled-up cashmere scarf and black beanie at it, hitting the coffee table instead.

But do you know what he hates most of all? How he’s sweating and grunting trying to fling his clothes off and Hannibal is just staring at him the whole time from his beige armchair next to the TV. How he is just so judgemental in the softest sweater Will’s ever seen, something cherry red and casual, and, more specifically, how he is literally reading by the lamplight with a book in his hand and a steaming coffee or tea sitting on a little table to his right.

When he lowers the reading glasses off his nose and very obviously wrinkles his nose, Will humorlessly snorts and almost falls over the arm of the stupid green couch.

“You reek of alcohol,” says Hannibal, eyes narrowed and lips downturnt.

What are you, my mother? Will has a hard time standing still, but when he finally shucks off his right dress shoe (success!), it goes flying into the barstool along with his pink sock and he almost collapses trying to retrieve it. “Y-e-a-h,” he says to the shoe, and to his sock, throwing both at the door while staggering into the living room. “I cam fake being shiiit-faced, unfortunately.”

“I hardly believe arguing with you while you’re intoxicated will benefit either of us.”

Will makes a face at Hannibal, who raises both eyebrows in question, and Will now actually does tip over onto the green couch. “You’ve been arguing with me allllllll day,” he groans loudly. “Don’t try playing moral high-groum right now I am this close to actually decking you in the face.”

Hannibal’s response is to simply raise his eyebrows higher and tilt his lips upward in a slight smile, curious, but still ever-poised with his cotton-clad legs folded over each other in his kingly chair. Will grimaces at this.

“Are you faking that too?” he asks.

Hannibal cocked his head, furrowed his eyebrows.

“The l-i-m-p,” Will drawls and zeroes-in on the debilitating bastard, to which Hannibal finds somewhat endearing by the way he unfolds his limbs and sets down his reading glasses.

“I wish,” comes the easy reply. “More than you know.”

Will considers firing back something about Hannibal being stupid and that he can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first, but has to stop himself when Hannibal considers him with sincere fascination and suddenly opens his arms.

“Come here.”

“What?” Will squints from across the room and slouches even further into the green couch. “No. Get away from me, I hate you.”

Hannibal taps the arm of the chair. “Then come sit by me. You’ve been gone all day and were terribly missed.”

“There’s nowhere even to sit,” he announces and shakes his head. Though his mind says one thing, his body does another, picking itself up and doing its best to clamber over to Hannibal’s side without tripping into the TV.

Hannibal’s eyes are golden and glowing under the lamplight, and Will focuses on that as he perches himself on the left arm of the single-person chair, grunting and mumbling to himself that this was dumb and that he should’ve just made Hannibal move instead.

Hannibal hums, of course unbelievably pleased, and allows the fraughtness of their close proximity settle before he speaks. “I smell cat hair,” he says gently, and Will turns his head slightly, watching the way Hannibal tilts his nose upwards. “The beach.” His nose wrinkles a little when he turns to glance at Will. “And both sewage grime and spoiled food. Did you crawl into a dumpster near the lake to save an animal?”

Will ignores him, tearing away to glare at the black and white fishing sign. “Tell me what ‘mylimasis’ means.”

He doesn’t think it’d catch Hannibal as off guard as it did, but his complete and undivided attention is on Will’s expression now, and Will somewhat wishes he hadn’t told him. Will winces and pushes himself off the arm of the chair.

“Where did you hear that?”

“You called me that on the boat,” says Will, swaying now that he’s standing. “Technically next to the boat. With your stupid purple tie.”

There’s a hand on his forehead, brushing away the sweat and stuck hair there before Will can even process it. “You have a fever,” Hannibal tells him, having abandoned the armchair to stand in front of Will, eyebrows furrowed with a great frown etched into his expression.

Thump thump thump. Will’s heartbeat quickens, just slightly, just barely, but it’s enough to put him over the edge. He shoves Hannibal away, or more accurately, shoves himself away and laughs humorlessly at the ground, “Probably explains why I’m seeing shit again.”

“Was I there with you?” comes Hannibal’s even voice from behind him, “At the Farmer’s Market?”

Will immediately rears around. How did he know I was at—but with the way Hannibal just simply considered him, with a calming kind of assurity, like this was all very natural to him, Will doesn’t even need to finish the thought. Because of course he just knows—it’s always been that way.

Even so, Will doesn’t answer that, the silence more telling than not. He eases himself onto the ugly green couch best he can without appearing too drunk. He was sobering up from this conversation, that’s for sure, so maybe this was a good thing. 

With his back against the cushion, Will closes his eyes and sighs deeply, “Do you want to know why I like whiskey?”

Hannibal, curious as to the reason for the subject change, wades across the room with slow even steps, his dead-leg dragging a little behind. “Because it is high in alcoholic content?” he asks, a stretch of humor lacing his words.

Will snorts and shakes his head, still rocking and still slurring the words that just can’t help but free-flow from his mouth, “Be serious. It’s because with each sip, you taste something different. A note of citrus, hint of vanilla, spark of fruit. Even though I’m essentially drinking the same thing over and over again, it’s like a new experience each time the cup meets my lips.”

Hannibal sits on the other side of the couch with a strenuous grunt. “A creature of habit that longs for the unknown. Always the paradox. Always the in-between.”

“I’m conflicted, you know. Actually, you would know.” Will pauses, closing his eyes again. “Inner turmoil, nothing new.” Outer turmoil too, he thinks. For this, he doesn’t really process before he says it, but he opens and closes his mouth a few times anyway, turning instead to stare aimlessly into the kitchen. “I miss you. I mean it. All the time.”

He doesn’t know Hannibal’s expression when he replies, “I am right here.”

Will laughs though, a bitter and humorless thing, and he slumps further into the couch, looking back to the entertainment center. “No. Not this you. I mean the old you. The one from the night on the cliff.” He turns away. “Ever since I maimed your leg, you’ve been different. Less physically-able, sure, but…it’s like you’ve gotten older. More hesitant.” A pause. “‘Domesticated’ is a good word for it. Like I’ve caged and tamed the beast.” 

Hannibal is silent beside him and in this moment, Will does dare to gauge his reaction. The coolness in his eyes, the quick fall of his half-smile, the emptiness in his expression—a man who’s waiting for all the potential of what is to come after, depending on how Will replies. In the same light however, they really are just talking—Will can tell. There’s no threat behind his gaze, piercing and relentless as it is.

“And how does that make you feel?” Hannibal asks evenly, tilting his head, “Now that you’ve finally ‘caged’ and ‘tamed’ the beast?”

“I feel fraught,” Will tells him honestly. “Torn in two different directions. Because this version of you is interesting too. Easygoing and funny. Gentle and patient. I wouldn’t say it’s a person suit, but it’s also not truly you.”

Hannibal considers him after a moment, maybe thinking of the past, the future. Will allows him his minute of silence. “The monster that maims,” Hannibal starts slowly, “that mangles, and kills for pleasure, unapologetically so—is that the true ‘me’ you miss?”

Another pause, but more out of habit than consideration. Will eventually nods to that. “It’s one aspect of your true self. All these pieces and parts you're throwing away and hiding, exchanging one facet for another—they’re all aspects of you. But I can’t ask you to go back to the way you were before when so much has changed, physically and well, emotionally. Took a long time for me to realize that, he thinks, and would like to say, but doesn’t.

“So you do not like the version that is sitting at your side, currently. Or rather, you’d prefer other versions of which you’ve seen before.”

“Honestly?” Will frowns. “I don’t prefer any of them. I prefer all of them be merged into one single being, but I don’t even know if that’s possible. Listen. What bothers me is you choosing to throw away or exchange pieces and parts of yourself that you think I would either benefit from or enjoy more based on your perception of my character. You are changing yourself for me. Which is flattering, great, but not what I’m looking for, Hannibal. Okay, Jesus, I don’t particularly like you killing innocent people just for the hell of it, but I’m not asking you to change the foundations of what makes you you in order to feed my ego.”

“So you would rather me kill what you would consider “innocent human beings” than change aspects about what I am and what it is I do.”

There seems to be some rising tension that Will is not necessarily a fan of and he grimaces at the implications of what it is Hannibal’s telling him. “No. Okay, you’re missing the point. I’d rather you talk to me about it like adults and we could work out a compromise. Doesn’t have to be so black and white.”

Hannibal folds his limbs in response. “So killing only on special occasions. Only when you say it’s okay.”

“I don’t even think you should even be talking about killing anyone with how fucked up your leg is. And you were shot? Did you forget that too?”

Hannibal looks over at him now, the way a parent may look over to a child, Will notes. “Will,” he says, more-so states. “You just brought up how I am not the same person I was on the night of the cliff. How astute you are, as that is usually how time works, at least to my knowledge—always changing, evolving into something not necessarily greater, but different than before.”

“Don’t get smart with me.”

“I am saying that you crave the monster that I was. That you were. You crave that feeling of elation. Of epiphany. Euphoria. And now that we’ve more or less settled the dust, broken in the wake of our victory, there is either a slim chance or no chance at all that we can return to our so-called ‘glory days.’”

Will winces, unsure how to respond. “I don’t know for sure about anything. I just hate how ‘okay’ you are with everything. Like the leg is a minor ‘inconvenience’ or how trying to steal medicine from an animal hospital would be shitty, but not that big of a deal? Or that you may never kill again.” He stands up from his seat and finds himself pacing around the apartment. “I could up and leave right now and I don’t think you’d stop me. A version of you in the past was obsessed with control over me. You would have either drugged me or killed someone I knew to keep me at your side. Now, you’d just let me go.”

He turns to Hannibal now, waiting for some kind of response. But Hannibal looks him in the eye and says nothing. He denies nothing. Will’s lip twitches as his anger begins to flare.

“And a big part of me,” he’s started and now he can’t stop, “actually, the whole part of me feels like that’s on me. That that’s my fault, because I screwed up your leg. I made my decision, that night on the cliff. With great fucking strain, but I made it regardless. And I stuck with it, and I still stick with it.” He starts to laugh at the absurdity of this situation— their situation, in general, and with an enormous amount of restraint, stops pacing to look heavenwards. “I’m angry that this,” he gestures to everything with a rising voice, “might not work. That we keep pushing each other because we’re trying to minimize some aspect of our character in order to present a “better version of ourselves” to the other. Granted I think I’ve just been an asshole to you this whole time, so at least there’s solace in knowing I think that’s a ‘better version of myself.’” Bubbling laughter escapes him again, and he continues laughing until he almost starts crying. 

“I am just so pissed off all the time because all things feel out of my hands. Who’s to fucking know if you step outside and just instantly explode? Or, probably more realistic, just get hit by a car? By someone looking at their phone or a drunk driver. Do you know how lame that would be?”


Will shakes his head. “Or if I slash your throat in your sleep? Because my dreams are getting worse, violence-wise,” he laughs, “and I wouldn’t be surprised. Would you fight back? I’d want you to fight back, but could you even? Physically? Emotionally?”


“And when, not if, the FBI busts down our doors because of some goddamn newspaper article, are you gonna be the one that gets shot? Because I don’t even know what the news is saying about me, so who knows if I’m an accomplice, a hostage, or a bystander, and guess what? That also. Pisses. Me. The. FUCK. OFF.” With three long strides, Will crosses the length of the living room to put his fist straight through the hanging black and white fishing sign. He hits it as hard as he can, blood pounding in his ears, spraying against the wall, and with a vengeful holler, he hits it again. And again. And again. And again.

And he keeps hitting it, even when it’s been torn off the nail and fallen onto the floor. Because when his fists are flying, he doesn’t have to think about anything else. The world can come to a stop and there’s just this—fuck Jack, fuck Hannibal, fuck people being nice to him, fuck Farmer’s Markets, and fuck wanting his dogs back: he’s just so tired and angry and needs to hit something. And if he can’t hit Hannibal, and he can’t hit himself because of Hannibal, then goddammit, he’s going to smash the next best thing within his proximity which is this hoaky fucking word art sign because he doesn’t deserve peace or happiness or fucking anything. These past couple of days, everything has just been so bottled up inside that it’s only right it comes to fruition in the form of violence. Violence is what they understand, isn’t it? Be it in the form of psychological torture or just straight up murder—why fucking fight it? It feels good, doesn’t it? To finally, finally, just let it out in all it’s red-hot fury.

Though, in this fury, he doesn’t register when a warm body clasps him from behind, hauling him to his feet as he’s scrambling to beat the fishing sign into the floor. The water that’s streaming down his face, he’s not sure if that’s sweat, snot, or tears, probably everything all at once, but at least he does know that the searing liquid stuck to his knuckles is blood, spraying against the walls and floor as he’s doing everything in his power to break free from the death-hold that threatens to drown and take him under. But Hannibal doesn’t let go. Even when Will is squirming, thrashing, and screaming at him in all his slightly slurred drunken-speech to get off, to get away, to be anywhere else, Hannibal stays behind him and holds him tightly to his beating heart. And Will is transported to the cliff, a step backwards in time with the roles reversed. He feels the gentle wind in his hair, sees the breathtaking fall before him, hears the ocean call to him so serenely. And he closes his eyes, and lets himself be brought in that embrace—tipped over the edge when he goes bone-tired from the exhilaration, allowing Hannibal to take them when they tilt towards the floor. Death is imminent, sure, but goddamnit it’s gonna take a lot more than a little fire and brimstone to kill them both, resilient and stubborn beings that they are. It feels good knowing that, at least to some degree. 

He passes out before they reach the ground.

Notes: 备注

And scene. Finally, there seems to be some commonground. And I don't just mean the literal floor. Thank you all very much for all your wonderful comments, kudos, and bookmarks! We've reached a turning point in the story (about time) and now, much of the relentless angst and individual pining is gone in favor of together-ness fluff and humor. So we'll see what happens with that.

Also, special guest star next chapter (in a good way) :)