Hannibal sat in front of the man that claimed himself to be Wills father, internally picking apart his brain, trying to sift through it all and root out what he could find about Will.
The man spoke with a distinct accent, one similar to the one Will let slip the last time they talked to each other.
“So, you’re the guy they got to make sure the boy’s safe?”
“More or less, yes I am.”
“Don’t look like any of the workers I met, you one of them fancy European types?”
“Figured. So, did they tell you about what you’re dealing with?”
“They told me that Dr. Graham has an empathy disorder, and to make sure that he stays mentally well as he works.”
“No not that, about the rougarou.”
“Will told me that you were paranoid and had delusions that you thought he was a monster, yes.”
Wills dad slammed his hands on the table, “I’m not delusional!”
“He also said that you were quick to aggression, and that he often felt physically threatened by you.”
“You want proof? I’ll give you some goddamn proof,” he took out a Polaroid and dangled it in front of Hannibal until he took it, “Rougarou, plain as day.”
Hannibal glanced down at the old photo, it was one of Will, he was thin and wiry, even more so than he already is, he was grinning widely, stood over a deer that he most likely had hunted, he had curly shoulder length hair that had been cut into a messy mullet.
He pondered the idea of Will having a mullet again before looking closer at the image, there was a dark liquid coating his mouth and neck, almost pitch black as it glistened in the photo with a morbid beauty that Hannibal was all to familiar with.
“You don’t seem too surprised with this image of your son eating raw deer.”
“Like I said, he got it from his mom, rougarou.”
“What is a rougarou?”
“Ah, forget you’re European, didn’t know that was his type. Anyways, it’s a monster that lives in Louisiana, I guess the closest thing for you European types is a werewolf.”
Hannibal looked incredulously at the man, “A werewolf?”
“Not a werewolf, rougarou.”
“Right... how long have you been thinking this way for?”
“His mom was one, was meant to hunt her back when I was a lad, but we ended up hitting it off after we spoke. When she was pregnant with the boy, she promised not to turn, cause it’d make him one...”
“And she did?”
“Yeah... never told me, gave birth in secret, he was tiny when he was a baby, here,” he passed Hannibal more photos, “that’s him there with his mom.”
Hannibal looked down at the photo, there was a tiny mess of golden curls in the blonde woman’s arms, he admired how truly small Will looked as a baby, looking at his mother, he guessed Will must’ve inherited most of his genetics from her, minus the hair colour.
“Your wife seems like a lovely woman.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, what happened to her?”
“When Will was... damn, he must’ve been around 3 at the time? A hunter found out about her, broke into the nursery, she went in to go check and then boom... bullet to the chest.”
Hannibal’s brow furrowed, “and Will?”
“He was too young to really remember it, far as he knows she died at birth, completely forgot how to turn, never taught him how, all he knows is that he’s a rougarou and that I protect him from the people that want to kill him for that.”
“Could you tell me more about that? I’d like to make sure he’s safe with me.”
Margot dropped Abigail off home early, allowing the adults to get very very drunk.
And oh boy, did the three of them get very very drunk.
Beverly was giggling away with Will when Margot returned with more wine, she sat back down, watching Will nurse his whiskey, she wrapped an arm around him, leaning in a little too close for sober standards.
“Hey girl, what’s the matter?”
“Just a headache, happens all the time, ‘specially when I’m having strong emotions.”
“Sounds shit,” she admitted, pouring her wine into Wills whiskey glass and swirling it about, “you ever done something like this before?”
Will downed the rest of his newly created New York Sour and shook his head, “Nu Uh... never really got to, and being...” he gestured lazily, “autistic, y’know?”
Beverly leaned over and grinned, “I think it’s time we start heading home girls... it’s getting pretty late, don’t want Wills sugar daddy getting nervous.”
Margot chortled, “Let’s go then! Walking or Uber?”
Beverly glanced down at everyone’s heels and shook her head, “Uber for sure hun.”
Will giggled and rubbed the side of his jaw, feeling the start of another headache coming on.
“Will! Come on! Rides here!” Beverly shouted, dragging him and Margot across the dance floor and into the car, chatting away with the Uber driver as they took them home.
“So Will,” Margot started, leaning against his shoulder and humming, “I heard that you’re friends with Alana?”
“Is she single?”
Will giggled and nodded, “Mhmmm...”
“Can I get her number?”
“I’ll ask her... I’ll take a photo of you, let her know that you’re really pretty, she’s gotta thing for pretty girls.”
Margot grinned and nodded, pulling a pose for Will to take photos, she looked over his shoulder and lit up.
“Damn! I look hot.”
“Oooh, lemme see!” Beverly asked, looking at the photos, she nodded vigorously, “Alana will definitely wanna hit that.”
“Hell yeah! We should invite her on our next girls night, whatcha think Will?”
Hannibal helped a very drunk Will upstairs into the bathroom, undressing him out of his clothes and easing him into the warm water.
Will groaned and leaned his head against Hannibal’s shoulder, Hannibal looked down at him as he rinsed his hair.
“How was your night?”
Will grinned widely, “My nails are pretty, and my skin...”
“It looks very smooth, did Beverly take you for drinks?”
“Oh yeah, Margot showed me how to make New York Sours, mixed her wine with my whiskey, it was good, I’ve got a headache though.”
“You may lie down once we’re finished.”
Will rolled his head back and fell asleep against Hannibal, he sighed and gently pulled Wills head to rest against his chest, keeping him from going under.
He knew that Wills behaviour was mainly fuelled by his fathers own delusions, viewing his son and wife as a monster, perhaps in order to shield from the festering guilt of her murder, by extension causing Will to develop a distorted sense of self, only exacerbated by him being ‘othered’ for neurodivergent traits.