Hannibal allowed his new kitten to sit perched on his shoulders to observe Will and his new dog, affectionately named Moose, run around the garden together to try and release some of the pent up energy they both had.
“I suppose you need a name too, don’t you?” He asked, looking up at the kitten as it cleaned its paws.
Hannibal looked out the windows at Will as he slowly introduced Moose to the rest of his pack, the rest of the group took a liking to Moose almost immediately, and Will went bounding off across the fresh snow with the others hot at his heels.
He rubbed his finger against his kittens small head and smiled as it purred affectionately.
“You look like a Cleopatra to me, a strikingly intelligent woman who managed to charm men into doing her will, hmm?”
Hannibal noticed that the pack had started barking up a frenzy, he placed Cleopatra into her cat tree and tossed on his jacket before stepping out into the woods behind his property.
Will had picked up some animal bones he found as his pack followed behind, he had found the skull of a badger and was running his hand across the smooth texture of the bone when he realised that his dogs no longer were following him, and that the woods he were exploring no longer looked familiar.
He panicked slightly, turning around to see where he had walked from, but his trail in the snow had vanished, as if he had just simply appeared there.
A brilliant black stag stepped out into the clearing, it lowered its head and allowed Will to reach out and touch it. It was solid and felt real, he rationalised, so that must mean he wasn’t hallucinating.
He walked alongside the stag, unable to shake the feeling of him being watched. A voice resonated in his head:
“You’re far from where you call home, Will”
Will looked around in confusion, “Who said that?”
“You keep trying to balance normal life between that of the FBI, yet you can’t even find balance within yourself. Tell me, when was the last time you ever felt truly in control?”
The stag turned its gaze towards Will and shook its head disparagingly at him, puffing air through its nose in a deep sigh.
“You see? The beast in the woods knows.”
“The beast? What beast?”
“The beast that you let come inside you, he is always possessive of things he considers his, and he will uproot your entire life if it means he can keep you to himself.”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“A warning perhaps? Or maybe premonition, either way, you dance the fine line between sustaining friendships whilst also flirting with a great danger. The beast will harm you to make sure you know how much he wants you for himself.”
Hannibal spotted Will crumpled in the snow like a ragdoll, his pack swarmed around him and barking loudly while nudging and pawing him, Hannibal assumed he had some form of seizure or episode again.
He scooped Will up in his arms and carried him back home, wrapping him up warm in bed and turning the heating up for the dogs to all warm up, but the pack seemed more interested in Will.
Hannibal picked up his notes and jotted down their behaviour, he had never seen a whole pack of dogs treat their owner with such concern for their health, though he wasn’t so sure Will could be considered an “owner”, he never treated the pack like average dogs, he often treated them as his equal, which could be put down to how he was raised.
He had remembered Wills recount of his childhood, on account of never knowing his mother, as she went missing after he was born, and living on a boat with his father and a large Rottweiler dog he had named Bowie.
There was a specific part of his childhood that Hannibal took interest in, he pulled out the old file from his bookshelf, it was after his fathers death when Will and Bowie were picked up by police, as he had stolen bandages from a nearby pharmacy.
He was taken into a troubled youths centre, where he had threatened a worker with a blade he had fashioned out of a door handle when she had tried to separate him and Bowie, which ended up forcing him into mandatory therapy sessions.
He sat in the room with his therapist, he had refused to sit on the chair in favour of the floor alongside his dog, his therapist peered down at him through the wire frames of her glasses before clearing her throat.
“We tried finding out who you are, but we can’t find any records, what’s your name?”
Will had frozen, he didn’t know what name to reply with, if they didn’t have any records of his old name, then he guessed he could just come up with a new one, one that wouldn’t make him recoil every time he heard it, he poked at the floor.
“Alright... Will Graham, my name is Simonetta Lecter, I’ll be your therapist here while you recover.”
Hannibal read the name of Wills therapist a few more times and looked down at him curled up in bed with his pack, he reached his hand out and ran his hand through Wills dark brown hair, causing him to stir.
“Did I fall asleep?”
“I think it might’ve been an episode, or another seizure, you were laying in the snow with all your dogs going crazy. That’s how I knew something was wrong.”
“They’re good dogs... Max once helped the FBI track me down when I was younger.”
Will rubbed his neck, clearly embarrassed by the memory, Hannibal pulled him up to sit on his lap while he recounted it.
“I ran away because of a... mental breakdown, it was the longest I’ve ever been missing, Jack drove up to the house to bring me in for interpreting the evidence... found Max sat on the porch waiting for him, got the whole FBI involved thinking I had been kidnapped.”
“No... Max tracked me down to a gas station on the state border, I had cut all my hair off as well to try and look different.”
“I don’t think I can imagine you with short hair.”
Will smiled and nodded, “had a buzz cut, it wasn’t really good, I think I still have pictures.”
He rooted around in his room before pulling out some large picture books and sitting back down next to Hannibal, he opened up one and pointed to him, his hair was definitely buzzed and he had managed to look even more exhausted than he usually does.
“You look so much more... different.”
“Testosterone does that to a guy... completely changed my face.”
“I prefer you now, you look a lot happier.”
“I feel a lot happier too.”
Will rubbed his eye and picked up the file Hannibal was reading, “Finding out where all my trauma is?”
“You had my mother as your therapist.”