Induced fever and heavy intravenous medications made reality seem almost like a construct.  Will was soon lost to dreams and half-thoughts and hallucinations.

He was informed, quite firmly, that the fever must spike before it receded, and the hospital would help him with that artificially.

Klara had gone home for the night with Hannibal, who was quietly distressed that Will somehow left the house and ended up over an hour away, barefoot, cold, alone, and sleeping.  Gabija was with her, no doubt, wonderful ball of fluff that she was, as would Winston, their newest addition to the family.

When Will dreamed he remembered the reporter—Lounds, he thought—who asked him for a comment on the mushroom case.  Whatever Will gave her, and he didn’t really remember what he said, it was boring enough that it never made it to print… or into her blog.

Will, in the great world of trashy tabloid journalism, wasn’t even a footnote.

He couldn’t have been more grateful.

When they were looking for the lost boys who were killing their mothers, Katz had told him one of the other lab techs was on suspension for having had an affair with Freddie Lounds.  That wouldn’t be enough, Will knew, to merit a full-out dismissal.  Law enforcement and journalism could possess a symbiotic relationship—or could go to the opposite end of the spectrum and become toxic.  The lab tech must have fed Lounds information, then, or she had gotten it out of him some way or another.

Will didn’t want to think about it too much, even as he floated in and out of consciousness in his bed at Johns Hopkins.

… Upon the occasion of their marriage, Hannibal had received a note on expensive paper with flowing script.  When Will asked who it was from, not really curious except for Hannibal’s lack of expression (which was damning evidence), his husband had informed him it was from an aunt.

That, however, was a little vague.

“Not the same aunt…?” Will checked, clearly knowing that Queen Mischa was referred to in such ways upon occasion.  Hannibal’s voice never showed emotion, his eyes never spoke a truth, out of some misguided attempt to not influence Klara.  Their daughter, however, was quite intelligent and knew (even at such a young age) that no emotion was usually a negative emotion, wrapped up in politeness.

“No,” Hannibal had answered, setting the card down in a place where it could remain private without putting it away in a drawer.  There was an openness to the gesture.  It was not an invitation for Will to look at the card, but an olive branch—See!  Here it is.  You may look if you make that conscious choice.  “My own uncle’s wife.”

Will smiled sadly to himself.  “The one who wasn’t your mother.”

Hannibal thought for a moment, perhaps recalling the earlier conversation.  “Yes.  She was more a mother to my sister.—She at least took her side when we quarreled.”

Carefully, Will mused, “I would think you beyond childhood squabbles.”

A tweak of Hannibal’s lips showed discomfort more than amusement.  “They were in adulthood.”  With that, the subject had been closed.

Will did not go and look for the card.  It could still be where Hannibal had placed it all those weeks before.  Will had respected Hannibal’s privacy enough not to go looking.

… Will had had a student once, just as he was beginning out, named “M. Lass.”  Beyond that he couldn’t recall.  It’s how he first became aware of Jack Crawford as more than a name in a directory, before even “The Evil Minds Museum.”  When he’d gone to input M. Lass’s final grade—respectable, but by no means perfect—he saw that Jack Crawford was her advisor and she logged several hours doing whatever grunt work Jack Crawford had his students performed under the guise of advising.

Will had never asked M. Lass about it, even when she came to dispute her grade.  She claimed she was ready for fieldwork, hinted she’d been drafted into it before, but Will knew she was just grandstanding.  He lowered her grade by two points after the conversation, as was his discretion, and cited the reason as “self-aggrandizement and lying to my face.”

She never passed her final examinations.  She moved on to her next option—which wasn’t teaching or anything to do with the F.B.I. as far as Will could tell—and Will never thought of her again… until he dreamed.

… Will came home early one day.  He’d thrown his briefcase off to the side and gone into the kitchen to wash out his travel mug, the bright pink of the mold making him smile even though he was tired.  Hannibal was supposed to have patients until six and Will was to pick up Klara on his way back from Quantico, now being on the list of “approved adults.”

It was nine days before the wedding, and he was nervous.

Will hadn’t noticed that Hannibal’s Bentley was in the garage because he had no reason to look for it there or to look for it at all.

Having discarded his glasses, he went to soak the travel mug so it wouldn’t stain.  It also gave him something to do before he got back in the car in twenty minutes and drove to Klara’s school.

The water must have lulled him into a sense of quiet because he was surprised when Hannibal came up behind him and kissed the back of his neck before sliding his arms around Will’s waist.

Startling, Will dropped the mug and turned off the flow of water.  “Where did you come from?” he asked, tilting his head to the side to look at Hannibal through his peripheral vision.

“A patient canceled.  I thought I’d reorganize the basement freezer before we leave.”

Will laughed, happy in the moment.  “I’ve never seen your basement.”

“Old canvases,” Hannibal informed him, leaning down to kiss the side of Will’s face.  “Industrial freezer for some choice bits of meat—”

“You and your ‘choice bits of meat’,” Will teased, now turning fully into Hannibal’s arms.  “Klara is the best fed child in the entire world with the duck and the lamb and the boar she eats—”  He leaned up to brush his lips against Hannibal’s and sighed.

“And are you not the best fed fiancé?” Hannibal hummed against his mouth.  “You’re no longer quite the skin and bones you were when we met.”

Will blushed a little but still brushed his wet fingers against the side of Hannibal’s well-loved face.  “You asked me out.  I think that says more about you than—”

Hannibal caught him in another kiss, and if the couple were a little wet when they went together to pick up Klara before going for hot chocolate, neither of them bothered to care.

… Every Tuesday Will takes his lunch outside, unless it’s raining.  It has more to do with the fact that tours happen on Tuesdays, bright young trainees with clipboards, interns looking to get to see the building, and—worse—the outside public.  They usually don’t go down the side hall and down the flight of stairs to the closet that is Will’s office.

He could sit, removed on a bench, and watch the trainees as if he were a god surveying his kingdom.

At first he didn’t notice the man.  He was always wrapped up in his expensive coat and scarf, hands tucked into his pockets.  His face is always pale, his hair a dark curling mess that is at least better controlled than Will’s own.

This man appears to watch everything and anything about Will with a casual nonchalance.

One week he was smoking a cigarette.

The other man noticed Will at some point, looked him over for several long minutes, but then found him unimportant and moved on in his peculiar surveillance.

The day before (or perhaps the day of) Will’s impromptu sleep walk to Wolf Trap, Virginia, Will actually spoke to him.  Or, rather, the other way around.

“Light?” the man asked, words curled and posh.  He was, at least, holding a cigarette in his hands.

“Don’t smoke,” Will answered, not bothering to even look up.  He knew what he would see.  Condescension and pity, most likely.  It’s the sort of response he usually got when he couldn’t make eye contact or appeared only as a straggly professor of little importance. Of course, the jeans he was wearing were certainly designer and he wouldn’t even be able to guess the thread count of his pale blue dress shirt.

The man looked him over once and then put the cigarette back in a case that appeared out of nowhere.  “Didn’t think so.  Thought I’d ask.”  Then, without another word, the man just walked on.

This dismissal, as if Will had just passed some test, confused him, and Will looked up and over his shoulder to see the man walking purposefully across campus, coat flapping dramatically behind him.

That night he mentioned it when he and Hannibal made dinner together, Hannibal having gone down to the cellar to get out a leg of lamb (or something) that had been marinating away from small yet inquisitive children.  Hannibal gave the story the attention it deserved, but they knew little if anything, and the man appeared to be harmless, if potentially addicted to nicotine.

The conversation turned to other addictive substances, such as caffeine.

“You can function without inordinate amounts of caffeine,” Hannibal noted, a slight tease in his voice.

Will glanced over his shoulder to where Klara was dutifully working on her numbers, as she did every weekday evening before dinner.  He then slid his eyes toward his husband.  “You benefit when I’ve had too much and can’t sleep at night.”

Hannibal smiled at the words.  “I would never think to complain.”

Looking over at the leg of lamb they were preparing, Will mused, “We should eat more fish.”

“I would only eat what you catch,” Hannibal informed him primly.  “I couldn’t trust the quality of it otherwise.”

A laugh formed in the back of Will’s throat, and he let it out as quietly as possible so as not to disturb Klara.  “And you trust the quality of this leg—even though you, yourself, are not the butcher who slaughtered the animal?”  This was said in a low murmur, as small ears would be distressed by such talk of slaughtering.

The corner of Hannibal’s mouth quirked.  “I could develop the talent.”

“You were a surgeon.  You have the talent,” Will corrected with another small smile before going back to the Brussel sprouts he was preparing.

Hannibal sniffed for effect.  “My scalpels are only for sharpening pencils.”

“I know, darling,” Will agreed, pausing until Hannibal looked at him so he could kiss him softly.  “I know.”

… When Will was a kid of fifteen years old, he noticed that Billy Horner liked to watch him.  When Billy kissed him after three weeks of watching and waiting, Will finally thought that he had found someone who might be his friend.

It helped that he liked the kisses as well.

The next day in school, Billy’s girlfriend—a girl with dark roots but bleached hair and eyes the color of dish water—called him a “fag” and accused him of trying to “gayify” her boyfriend.

He was beaten up after school and the teachers turned a blind eye.  Billy was the one who kicked him repeatedly in the balls, so much that Will couldn’t even drag himself home until late that night.

The next day he was sick and didn’t go back.

His father, Beau Graham, came to sit beside his bed the next day, and they each pretended his eyes weren’t red from crying.  “I think we might head on North, away from this pansy-ass lot,” his father suggested.  When Will didn’t respond, his father patted him awkwardly on the knee and went to go finish the bottle of bourbon he hadn’t yet opened.

Two days after that, they were all packed up and driving up along the highway. 

Will didn’t kiss a boy again—after all, Hannibal first kissed him.

… The ravenstag was pure and powerful.  It watched over Will as he slept, silent in the darkness, but ever present.  At first Will thought it was a dream, until he realized that Garrett Jacob Hobbs was not also there … but as soon as he began to sleep within Hannibal’s embrace, the ravenstag disappeared and was barely remembered… until he found himself walking along the highway in his pajama bottoms and bare feet.

… “Try again, my darling,” Hannibal urged just before the wedding as they stood, hand in hand, in the living room.  Hannibal had a disc of waltzes that he was playing throughout the house on his sound system, and he seemed determined to teach Will how to waltz before their wedding.

“Isn’t this a dance typically between a man and a woman?”

“It is a sensual dance,” Hannibal responded, releasing Will’s hand only to run the back of his finger’s down Will’s smooth cheek, “between the lover and his beloved.”

Will twisted his lips slightly, trying not to laugh.  “Which one am I?”

“You are most loved,” Hannibal informed him, as if it were as simple as breathing. 

Will looked into Hannibal’s dark eyes, flecked with red, and couldn’t look away.  His breath caught in his throat as he empathized with the enormity of what Hannibal felt, and wondered if he could ever be worthy of such devotion.

The spell, however, was broken when Klara came dancing into the room in her ballet slippers, Gabija barking behind her.  Soon she had been lifted into Hannibal’s arms as he twirled her around—the moment turning warm and loving and free.

… Abigail Hobbs was awake and when Will woke from his nightmares, bathed in a light sweat, he would sometimes go downstairs for a glass of water after checking that Klara was safe.  He would look out of the window and fear that he would find Abigail Hobbs looking back in the moonlight.

He still refused to meet with her, no matter Alana’s pleading or Crawford’s silver-lined threats.  He didn’t need to consult; he was a teacher… and Will wished in his darkest of moments that he had put a bullet through Abigail Hobbs’ head as it seemed that justice would never be served.

Her father lay cold in a pauper’s grave. 

She was warm and breathing and ready to find her next victim and suck the life out of him as well.

Would he be a father figure?  Perhaps.

Would he be older? Certainly.

Handsome? If he were also easily manipulated.

She’d probably go for someone wealthy this time, someone who could buy off the press and the F.B.I. if they ever came knocking, and Will hoped that they would, so he wouldn’t be involved.  Whoever it was would have a passing interest in shooting, even if only for appearances sake. 

A profile formed in his head as he sipped his water at the kitchen sink.  He heard Hannibal come down the steps, the sound of his slippers and his gait familiar to him, and Will leaned into the light touch of Hannibal behind him.

“It’s too late, Mylimasis,” Hannibal murmured in his ear, “and you’re too warm.”

“I’ll take some Aspirin before I go back to bed,” Will promised, his eyes still looking out into the darkness.

Hannibal nodded against his shoulder, breathing in Will’s natural scent.

“Did you just smell me?” Will flirted, putting down the glass and turning to face his husband of less than a month.

“I’m sorry.  I couldn’t quite help it.”  Hannibal’s lips formed into an amused smile.

Laughing, Will informed him, “I’m no longer wearing an aftershave with a ship on the bottle.”

Hannibal’s only response was to kiss him there in the kitchen.  “Come to bed,” he urged, and Will found no reason to refuse him.

… The pieces fell one by one in between every one of Will’s heartbeats.  The fever burned brightly and as it receded memories clicked into place.  The connections before had been so tenuous Will hadn’t even realized there were even connections at all.

When he finally opened his eyes, Will looked over to see that Hannibal was sitting beside his head, dozing lightly in sleep.  The strong hand that held his was not just the hand of a surgeon but the hand of someone who prepared his own food… which he collected for himself… not from butchers.

He swallowed dryly as the idea bubbled into his mind.

He was far too practiced in the kitchen for this to be a new pursuit. 

He was far too stealthy for Klara or Will or anyone else to catch him red-handed. 

However, as Hannibal dozed beside Will’s bed, Will knew that there was a crack in his perfectly crafted plans.  Someone had gotten in and taken Gabija.  Someone had somehow found Will while he was sleepwalking and taken him back to Wolf Trap—away from Hannibal’s influence, to where he had lived before their engagement.  But who?  Who was playing cat and mouse with a cannibal?  A cannibal so skilled that Will doubted he was even on the F.B.I.’s radar?

But as Hannibal’s fingers began to twitch in his grasp, showing that Hannibal was in the early stages of waking, Will pushed these thoughts aside as he looked at the man he adored.  He should feel horror welling inside of him.  He should take Klara and run—but their family meant everything to him, and Will wouldn’t sacrifice it… and he certainly did not know all of the facts yet, only bits and pieces clogging together in his brain like a monstrous jigsaw puzzle that wasn’t quite fitting together.

“You’re awake, beloved,” Hannibal murmured, sitting up and leaning toward him.  He pressed the back of his free hand against Will’s shoulder to check himself for fever, and sighed when he pulled away.

Will licked his dry lips and admitted, “I’ve been having strange dreams.”

“Feverish dreams, no doubt,” Hannibal comforted.  “You might tell me about them after we’ve called for a nurse.”

“No,” Will refused, pulling Hannibal closer as he reached up and twisted his fingers in Hannibal’s shirt.  “Later.  Now I just want to be happy I have a tomorrow—with you and Klara—”

“And the baby,” Hannibal agreed after Will hesitated.

“And the baby,” Will agreed.  “We should get a silly name book so I’m not bored when you and Klara aren’t here.”

Hannibal smiled at him lovingly, both sharing the dream of a child.  “Already purchased one, beloved,” he promised, letting his eyes drift to the bedside table, where Will saw a stack of books on the subject of babies and names.

The thought should choke him, make him feel even more trapped than he did, but something about the fever had burnt away who Will Graham was before he met Hannibal Lecter.  It was almost like a cleansing fire from the hearths of the gods, if he were feeling at all whimsical.

“Well, then,” he decided, “go get that nurse so I can start making suggestions you’ll hate.”

With a deeply loving look, Hannibal lifted Will’s hand and kissed the pulse point before doing just that.  Will reached up and picked up the first book.  He noticed Hannibal had made a few notes notes, and he opened the book only to realize his vision was a bit fuzzy from exhaustion: he couldn’t make out a single word.

Still, it didn’t matter.  The book would keep.  They had all the time in the world.

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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