Days were beginning to meld together.
Since Will began investigating for Jack and the FBI he was losing countless hours of sleep. Whenever he shut his eyes, ghastly images would appear…and once they were there…they were very hard to get rid of.
Time was no longer making sense.
Will felt like he was losing himself.
The black water was rising around him. He could feel its weight descending on him, drowning him completely and swiftly.
He knew he had to fight against it, not give in and get away. However he also knew he was paralyzed…knew he was doomed yet still wanted to try to evade. It burned his lungs, he struggled and began choking.
There was no rescue from it.
Will’s eyes snapped open as he jerked awake and began desperately fighting to catch his breath.
His eyes darted around to see where he was, realizing he was in bed safely in his home he tried to calm down. He hadn’t been wrapped in his blanket but saw he was surrounded in a puddle of sweat. Will sat up and rubbed his dripping face, he looked over at his canine companions who only stared at him with questioning looks.
He took deep concentrated breaths as he went to fetch some towels, before he laid back down he noticed his phone was buzzing. After taking a lick of whiskey, hoping it’d help induce sleep, he checked his mobile.
Jack Crawford (8)
Incoming call 8:06 pm
Incoming Call 8:32 pm
Incoming call 9:53 pm
Incoming call 9:58 pm
Incoming call 10:10 pm
Incoming call 11:15 pm.
Incoming call 11:20 pm
Just looking at the list made Will get annoyed and wish he could throw his phone out the window. Of course it wasn’t just calls from Jack but text messages as well, ten calls to be exact. While the next notifications from his friends weren’t as excessive as Jack’s they were still a bit much.
Beverly K. (3) Messages
Alana B. (5) Missed calls
“Didn’t know I was so popular…” he muttered while flashing his phone at his dogs. The bright light became annoying quickly to his eyes so he shut if off completely. He knew in the morning that he would likely regret it since he’d get an earful from Jack, but decided he still needed sleep. He laid back down on the towels as he put the blanket over himself. Taking deep breaths he slowly shut his eyes.
The moment sleep was slowly coming over him, the alarm went off.
It read 6 am.
Will groaned as he turned it off and buried his head into the pillow. After a few seconds of denying getting up he reluctantly rose to his feet. Running his rough hands against his drowsy face and hair he stood to get ready for the day. Without thinking he looked back his clock and froze in place.
The clock was different.
Will wondered if he had read it wrong the first time. (The alarm though…) he thought. Will knew he definitely heard the ringtone and very clearly pressed the off button. However the clock was still telling him something else. Again Will questioned if he imagined it the first time. Or was it all in his head? Was he so used to the routine of waking up he accidentally responded instinctively?
Blinking a couple times he stared at the clock to see if it would change again. For a whole ten minutes it refused to change so finally Will wrote the mistake off as a symptom of sleep deprivation.
He tried to relax again as he returned to his small bed, forcing his thoughts of doubt away. If he began to worry more about the small hallucination he wouldn’t get a wink of shut eye in. (Not as if it was going to happen anyway…) he scoffed. He just hoped not to have another nightmare. Which he knew was another unlikely thing not to happen.
The sun’s rays from the window were a definite sign to Will that it was actually morning. This time he didn’t bother looking at the bedside clock and just rose to take a shower and head to the Lecture Hall.
As Will was setting up his projector and laptop he heard familiar heavy footsteps approach.
Jack’s voice boomed in the empty classroom “Did you suddenly go deaf? Why the hell haven’t you been answering your phone?” he yelled the question Will knew he’d ask.
Will turned to him, an apology ready but knowing that wasn’t what Jack wanted to hear he instead went with “I couldn’t sleep so I turned it off…”
“You can’t do that Will. If a case comes up or new Ripper evidence appears I need you to be available!” Jack instantly snapped back.
“I’m sorry, Jack.” Will finally said.
“I don’t want to hear it.” He rebutted. Taking a deep sigh and closing his eyes Jack calmly said this time “Just…promise me you’ll keep it on from here on out.”
The most Will could manage was an “I’ll try.”
It seemed to satisfy the man “Alright. Now come with me, we’ve got work to do.” He gestured with his finger at Will to follow as he turned to the exit.
Will argued “I have class today-“
“No you don’t. Consider it cancelled.” His voice answered from down the hallway.
Will internally groaned, wanting so much to yell ‘no’ but locked his jaw as he followed quietly. As much as he wanted to keep arguing he was too tired to do so.
In the car, Will could feel his eyes aching to flutter shut. So many times he had to secretly pinch himself from falling asleep. He gave up on paying attention when Jack spoke every now and then. It had begun raining and the sounds of it along with the smooth movement of the car were becoming too difficult to fight.
Jack noticed Will’s head nodding so he asked, “If you’re that tired Will, take a nap. I need you to be fully awake and focused before we get to the sight.”
“I’m fine, Jack.” Will retorted.
“You’re obviously not, so shut up and sleep. This is not a suggestion, it’s an order so do it before I get angry.” Jack never took his eyes off the road while speaking.
There was no use fighting “Alright…” he said as he crossed his arms and put his head against the window. Its coolness felt comforting so he drifted off in seconds.
There was a high pitched noise in his ears.
It continued to get louder and louder, so excruciatingly loud Will felt like his head would split. He couldn’t see anything, it was dark.
Will was surrounded by darkness yet again. No light in sight nor any sign where the sound could’ve come from.
He hears it again but in low tone, looking around there was still nothing in the black void but him.
The body sneaks up on him.
It’s levitating in front of him and dead eyes stare back at his.
A pair becomes many dead eyes.
Young girls and men, victims from past cases and some he didn’t recognize.
Cutting through them…was Garrett Jacob Hobbs.
Will was nudged hard awake.
“Sorry about that, Will. Hit the brakes too hard I guess. Anyway we’re here.” Jack pointed ahead.
Removing his glasses so he could rub his eyes Will looked ahead to see they were in the woodlands. Since the cold season was close most of the trees were bare and black in color, some still held leaves but they had no color to them. Stepping out the air was chilly, the rain had stopped but still every step they took crunched with dead leaves.
Among all the dark, dull colors Will spotted something bright in the distance. He didn’t have time to wonder what it could be because Jack began to talk.
“We have a new killer this time. An elderly couple discovered while hiking, the bodies of eight people here in the forest.” Jack walked towards the large trees with Will beside him. The empath soon realized they were heading towards the bright anomaly. “Six females and two men, all in the same age range but otherwise no other similarities other than the way they were displayed.” He stopped in his stride and Will now saw a new ghastly scene.
The victims were arranged in a circular pattern, their hands were joined with one another but otherwise their bodies stayed separate. Their eyes were closed so they looked like they were all peacefully asleep enjoying nature. The materials on the bodies were what interested Will.
All the victims were covered from neck to toe in autumn colored leaves. Red, light, brown, yellow and orange leaves covered inch of their skin other than their faces and hair. Will bent down beside one of the female victims and saw the foliage wasn’t lying on the bodies but attached to the skin. Which meant the killer hadn’t just covered them in a rush or to make it look like it was nature covering his tracks, he wanted them to it was his personal work.
Will couldn’t say it aloud, for he knew he’d get some strange looks from the other officers around the crime scene, but thought…it was somewhat beautiful.
The colors were truly a sight compared to their background. He didn’t have to get into the killer’s mind to see his perception of beauty.
This was his design, his masterpiece.
“So what do you see, Will?” Jack’s voice broke through his inner thoughts. “Is this the work of the Ripper?”
Jack hid it pretty well but Will could see the small glint of hope that this was a lead on the Chesapeake Ripper. “No, I don’t believe so. The Ripper displays his victims in a fashion as to humiliate them…there’s emotion towards these bodies, as well as the way he left them. The Ripper has no emotion for those he kills, all he cares about are his trophies…this scene is the new murderer’s trophy.” He took a pile of dead leaves beside, “It’s not him, Jack. “
Jack clicked his tongue in disappointment “We’ll have to keep looking then.” He turned to the search team “I want a widespread search of the area, look for footprints, hair, and hidden paths, anything that might be a lead.”
As everyone else busied themselves, Will closed his eyes. He tried to focus on everything before him…it was just for a moment. He saw darkness and expected the pendulum to sway.
But it never did.
He kept waiting yet nothing changed. Waited for time to reverse so he could see what happened or at least get a deeper sense of it. Yet nothing but darkness awaited him.
What he sees, what he feels…is falling. Will saw himself falling, what awaited him was a pile of leaves. However as he falls into them and they separate the sound isn’t right. They sound more like glass breaking.
The sound is intense and surreal.
It slowly disappears and some other noise takes its place. Barking, low barking that seemed to be far away at first then right beside his ear.
His eyes snapped open and he was in a place he didn’t recognize.
His dogs were barking as they looked down at him, which didn’t make sense since they weren’t supposed to be at the crime scene. (Am I at the crime scene…? Where…Where am I?) Above him was not the same sky he was looking at before with Jack in the woods or the roof of his house. Will was still outside but not in the colored pile of leaves he imagined…instead in rotten, soaking, icy leaves and mud.
Will rose to see he was near his home, somehow he had gotten home. It was already night and the only light was coming from the high moon. Until he had awoken he hadn’t realized he was freezing. Wearing only his sleeping attire he felt his toes and fingertips were numb from the cold, he began to furiously shiver and headed immediately towards his house.
He built a quick fire and first began to properly warm up his canine friends who no doubt had been out in the cold for as long as he was. Before he went to take a much needed hot shower he took a look at his clock.
He sighed and went for his shower, in the comforting heat he finally began to consider the questions he kept pushing away.
(How did he get home?) His car was in the driveway so he possibly got dropped back off at the school and drove himself home. (Did Jack notice a change in him?) He couldn’t remember any conversations after he had closed his eyes at the crime scene. (Why did he end up out in the cold instead of seeing what he was supposed to?) Things weren’t adding up…not understanding what was happening was making him get anxious.
Dismissing any more doubts so he could calm down, Will dried himself off as he prepared for bed. When he sat down he felt something slide against his thigh, it was his forgotten cellphone. Picking it up it vibrated to show there were notifications. The blinding light made him squint for a moment then once again he saw numerous calls and text messages. Most were from Jack and Alana of course, but as he kept scrolling through the log he stopped on a name he wasn’t expecting to see.
Hannibal Lecter (1)
Yesterday 10:00 pm
Will was surprised to see the doctor had called him, usually he’d make in person visits if he needed to speak with the empath. Will figured Jack or Alana must have pressured the man into calling to see if he’d actually answer.
Either way it was he felt bad for not at least explaining why he hadn’t picked up. He thought about sending a message as a way of apology but hesitated on the send button. Considering the time he figured the doctor would undoubtedly be asleep. Sending it would just be an annoyance to the doctor, so in the end Will thought against it.
He tossed the phone on his bedside table, drank some alcohol and forced his mind to quiet down…it wasn’t as easy as he’d have liked it to be.
Due to unexpected harsh weather, Will had to reschedule his classes.
Sometimes he seriously worried if he should’ve let another professor teach his students, what with his now unpredictable work schedule. Alana probably would have been a better fit. Instead of staying home attempting to get rest that would never come, he’d make himself useful by being at the lab.
There the science trio did their usual routine and came up with some new details.
“Victims were all killed the same way, strangled. Large hand spreads were found on their throats, but no eligible fingerprints to go on…bastard was wearing latex gloves.” Zeller sighed looking at the bodies, he continued on “They found some very enormous boot prints behind some trees after one of the investigators noticed some leaves scattered in a strange way.” He gestured to some photos taken “Size 11 men’s shoe, sucker has some giant ass feet.”
“Maybe it’s Bigfoot?” Price’s comment achieved him some unhappy looks from Zeller and Katz, “What? I’m just saying it could be a possibility. Big foot size, heavy weight, roaming in the woods…He obviously must have been strong enough to carry eight bodies since there were no signs of tire tracks.” he went back to examining the corpses.
Brian argued “If it was Bigfoot there would have been hair samples left as evidence.”
Jimmy narrowed his eyes at him “Oh since when did you become such an expert on how Bigfoot sheds?”
“I don’t have to be a monster expert to know it’s not him!” Brian debated quickly.
“What about the leaves?” Will interrupted in a low but audible voice.
Beverly answered this time “Every single leaf is real, not one fake. They all grow from the trees where the bodies were found, the reason they didn’t brown or fall apart was thanks to a special adhesive not well known to some. It’s a strong binder to keep an object in place without damaging it. Not only was it used to meld the leaves to their skin but also to keep their hands entangled.” She pointed at the bodies’ conjoined hands “Whoever this was must have collected these leaves before the seasons changed and had kept them alive just for this purpose.”
“Other than their necks there was no other harm or damage to the bodies. Not even signs of sexual assault on the female bodies.” Zeller added.
Jimmy picked up a single red leaf “What’s amazing is the lining of these little fellas. All set in almost perfect lines straight across every part of skin. Not one broken or lazily placed…guy put a lot of attention to detail.” He exhaled noisily but still looked impressed.
“He cared about this picture he was painting.” The team all looked at Will, who had never once taken his eyes off the bodies on the tables. “This wasn’t rushed or meant to look gruesome. This killer had a vision; he wanted to honor them…so he had to make it perfect. There are many conflicted emotions in this scene…suffering is one of them, but not from the victims…I don’t believe he’ll be hard to catch…” Will hadn’t noticed his hands were mildly shaking so as nonchalantly as he could he crossed his arms to get a grip on himself.
The room got quiet and the three exchanged some looks but not saying anything aloud. Until Price broke the tension with another joke “I always wanted to prove Bigfoot was real.”
Brian had a comeback “I’ve never been a believer in him.”
Jimmy looked offended “Of course you don’t you’re no fun.”
Now Brian took offense “What? I’m not fun because I don’t believe in hoaxes?”
“Yet you believe in aliens?” Beverly pointed out joining in on the humorous change of subject.
“There are millions of other galaxies beyond ours of course there has to be other intelligent life somewhere out there!” Zeller exclaimed which led to Price mocking him in the best alien voice he could make.
Team sassy science had definitely veered off the point of no return so Will watched quietly for a few minutes before he could no longer handle all the noise. He retreated to the break room, grabbing himself a cup of tasteless but warm coffee. He gulped a few sips thinking the caffeine would help with his drowsiness but proved to be futile. Sitting down at the far corner table, the sound of the air vents and humming of the fridge started to become soothingly rhythmic.
Will’s eyes were starting to flutter so he laid his head against the wall, took a deep breath and shut his eyes.
“I wouldn’t recommend napping here, hot stuff.” Beverly’s voice snapped him alert; she held another Styrofoam cup and took a seat across from Will “Unless you wanna wake up to a face full of graffiti.” She hid her smirk by putting the cup to her lips.
He straightened in his chair, “Thanks for the warning.” He rubbed his eyes “Sorry I wasn’t much help earlier…seems I gave more insight on the killer’s mind than solid leads.”
“You did enough. Don’t sweat it. You look like hell anyway.” She bluntly said.
“I feel like hell.” Will admitted, no longer caring about feigning healthiness.
Beverly crossed her arms “Why are you still here then? You should go home and sleep!”
Will muttered “Sleep is the problem…”
Her face softened “What do you mean? You can’t sleep?”
“I want to…but things…keep waking me up.” Will tried to avoid the actual word for his problems. Before Beverly could ask more questions and he let something slip he added quickly “I think if I just take a short nap I’ll be okay…”
She gave him an uncertain look but replied “Okay, if you say so…” she stood back up “But seriously you shouldn’t sleep here, Jimmy and Brian will make you regret it.”
Not heeding her warning again he began to take off his coat, “I’ll be okay, Beverly.” He folded it into a pillow of sorts, he tried to get comfortable.
“Alright then, don’t blame me for what’s on your face after you wake up!” she said as she walked out of the room.
Will smiled at her leaving figure then concentrated on falling asleep. His last thought was how annoying it was that sleep came faster when he wasn’t in his own bed.
Darkness came but no nightmares this time.
Will was relieved but thought it was because he wasn’t fully asleep. His eyes were closed and while sleeping on a chair was uncomfortable it was enough at the moment.
Sudden calming heat came over him. His body now felt weightless.
The embracing warmth was so soothing Will felt himself leaning into it. An exotic aroma filled his nostrils, spiced yet sweet. He really wondered what this presence could be but then it vanished. A cold rush came over him in its place yet he felt more relaxed than he did before.
In his short but comfortable daze he heard a voice calling his name.
“Will…Will?” the man awoke to his female friend hovering over him “Guess you did think twice about sleeping in the other break-room.” She smiled looking down at him.
He blinked a few times “What?” he perched himself on his arms to realize he was actually lying down. Looking around he saw he was in a completely different room, no longer in a chair but on a couch with his coat draped over him like a blanket.
The question ‘How did I get here?’ formed in his head but didn’t leave his mouth. Will could not recall leaving the previous room, he wondered if he moved subconsciously. Had he sleepwalked again? Or…had he been carried?
Will briefly looked at Beverly and quickly concluded she wouldn’t have been able to have moved his heavy body. He questioned who would have bothered to move him all the way here, certainly not Jack or the science duo.
Beverly noticed Will’s confused expression and asked “What’s wrong? You look like you don’t know what’s going on.”
Before Will could answer or ask her his question, Jack stood in the door frame and ordered “Beverly, Will. In the lab, now.” He left as soon as he arrived. Beverly gave Will an apologetic look and waited for him to stand so they could leave together.
Returning to the lab, the two saw a new visitor had joined the investigation team.
Will stopped in his tracks as Hannibal turned to face them, coat in his arm and looking as calm as ever.
Jack greeted him first “Dr. Lecter, thank you for joining us today.”
The psychiatrist gave a polite nod at him “It’s my pleasure, Jack.” His sanguine eyes looked to Beverly next “Good evening, Beverly.” Then locked eyes finally on Will and gave a small smile “Hello Will.”
Will couldn’t seem to find his words but gave a courteous nod while Beverly responded so easily, “Hey there Hannibal, any new leads on our leafy guests?” she walked from Will’s side over to the dynamic duo.
Hannibal broke eye contact with Will and addressed her “Unfortunately no. According to Mr. Price and Zeller there aren’t any more leads we may be able to go on. Other than the large boot prints found at the scene.”
“Bigfoot remains at large like always.” Jimmy announced.
“I doubt Bigfoot would have this much artistic skill.” Brian said which earned him a glare from Jimmy. “Also since when did that giant ape start wearing winter boots?” he raised his hands in a questioning manner.
“Frostbite?” Jimmy joked and got a smack to the head from Beverly right away, Jack thanked her for it.
Will tried to join in the conversation with some actual insight; he stood beside Hannibal “He is an artist. Strong physique to help him in his hobby…it’s turned down a new path….his vision expanded and this was his new canvas. This was his first experiment with these new…materials.”
Hannibal completed Will’s next thought “Artists have a deep connection to their artwork, most never consider a piece finished. Perhaps this was an unfinished piece as well.”
Everyone looked at each other as they considered what Hannibal was suggesting. Jack pondered aloud “You saying this guy could return to the crime scene to add more to his work?”
“It’s a possibility.” Hannibal licked his lower lip, “Some artists and sculptors spend years on a single piece, though they may procrastinate or leave it for a period of time…they always return to it. If this killer is as passionate about these canvases as Will claims, there is a high probability he’ll return.” He turned to Will’s blue eyes, the empath growing more and more aware of how much they really thought alike.
Jack looked at Will as confirmation and when he nodded back, everyone became on high alert.
Jack didn’t need to hear more as he started barking orders at his team and had Will and Hannibal accompany him back to the crime scene, they headed for his car. While the heavier set man hastily walked in front of them and began making calls on his phone, Hannibal took the chance to speak privately with Will.
“I sincerely hope you don’t mind me saying this, but…you’re not looking well, Will.” The doctor said staring at Will’s face. The younger man wanted to be satirical but no words came to him, he stayed quiet and looked straight ahead as the perceptive man continued “Your skin is pale, you’re thinner, bags under your eyes and I’ve noticed you trembling. “
Will asked sourly “So what in your professional opinion, would you say is wrong with me, Doctor?”
“You tell me, Will.” The man was starting to use his psychiatrist antics.
Letting out a dry laugh Will answered “I really don’t think we have the time right now to talk about everything that’s wrong with me, Hannibal.” He really didn’t want to discuss the truth of what could be happening.
“I have all the time in the world for you, Will.” Hannibal’s face showed no sign of joking when he replied, his expression was blank but his eyes displayed honesty.
Will held Hannibal’s stare but again didn’t reply early enough.
Jack yelled “C’mon you two, let’s go!” he reached the exit.
Hannibal responded “Yes, Jack.” Then leaned a little closer to Will as he said low enough only for him to hear “We’ll speak some more later.” Again there was sympathy in his voice that caused Will to go mute so he only agreed with a nod.
Will then later realized he had forgotten to apologize for missing the man’s call the night before. The opportunity slipped by but he thought he might get a better chance later on. Heading back to a crime scene was hardly the time to do it.
In Jack’s car they high tailed onto the highway and headed for the forest. Hannibal and Jack discussed up in front while Will sat quietly in the back. Knowing full well it was an inappropriate, Will’s eyes began to droop. He tried to stay awake by listening to the men’s conversation but it was useless. His breathing began to slow and the movement of the car was relaxing.
He tilted his head to the side and shut his eyes for a mere second…
The engine of the car quiets and Jack and Hannibal’s voices begin to fade away.
Will wonders why everything has drowned out and opens his eyelids.
He finds himself alone, no longer in the car but standing alone in the woods.
Dark, blackened trees surround him and the ground is nothing but leaves of all colors. He knows this must be another illusion and wants to squeeze his eyes shut and shake himself awake but felt compelled to stay in place.
Its night just as it was on the car ride yet everyone has disappeared as well as the police tape and investigation equipment. Will is by himself, not even the sound of the wind could be heard. It was as quiet as a morgue.
He feels the ground begin to quake, the leaves rustling as if something was about to erupt. Out of the sea of fallen leaves emerged the multiple bodies of the victims. They rise, lifeless and still yet begin to come closer to Will. They form a circle around him and he’s terrified, however he’s unable to run away.
There’s a lump in his throat, his head feels on fire and he wants to get away from the surrounding corpses. They’re leafy covered bodies are so close he felt he could reach out to them, their dead eyes stare at him until he can no longer bear it.
Beyond the circle of deceased he saw a tall obscure figure of a man forming, he strains to see who it is but then began to feel an excruciating pain. Will gripped his chest and felt the pain shooting all through him; he panicked at how intense the sensation felt. He feels sharp points dig into his back and pierce their way through him. The dead raise their arms as he’s being lifted and the dark figure vanishes; Will believes his heart has stopped.
He sees too late he was being impaled by antlers. Sharp, pointed spikes like that of a stag…
As he opens his mouth to scream…suddenly he feels something warm grab his shoulder.
“Will.” a familiar voice called, “Will, wake up.” He looked to see Dr. Lecter’s composed face but concerned eyes.
Will had to do his best to keep the trauma he just experienced to himself. He tried to play if off by covering his eyes with one hand so the observant man couldn’t look into them, he asked as cool as he could “Are we here?”
For a few seconds it was quiet and Will was praying the psychiatrist didn’t mention his odd behavior, he was certain once he was forced to speak about it…everything else would spill out in a mess.
He was relieved when Hannibal just answered his dodging question, “Yes.” The man turned away from him, Will took the short time to compose himself before he stepped out.
A sense of déjà vu comes to Will as he walks out into the same scene from before.
Even with the others around him now he still doubted if he was awake. Hannibal watched him from the side and followed when he walked over to Jack.
“I see no signs of anyone here. What do you suggest we start looking for?” Jack asked his breath showing in the cold air.
“Any sign of life that’s been around here…?” Will proposed, not knowing any more than he did about what they should search for.
Jack didn’t like the vague answer Will gave but began giving out orders to the crew. All the men and women split up and searched the whole area. Will and Hannibal assisted, looking at every leaf pile and behind all the trees. Throughout the entire time Will noticed the doctor was watching him closely but ignored him as much as possible during the investigation.
After about two hours they all met back at the crime scene, one investigator reported “Mr. Crawford we’ve searched the entire area but were not able to find anything or any trace that anyone was here.”
Jack sighed in frustration and despite everyone’s tired expressions; Jimmy couldn’t help but try to crack a joke “Well as always the elusive Bigfoot remains a mystery.”
Brian commentated “That’s a big boost of confidence.”
Jimmy went on “Maybe eventually we’ll get lucky and get a picture of him that we can sell for big bucks.”
“You’re starting to sound like Freddie Lounds…” Will blurted out, everyone looked at him in surprise he attempted to be comical.
Beverly stifled a laugh as well as Brian, Will even saw the Doctor secretly grin for a moment. Jimmy retorted “I’ll take that as offensive.” He put his hands to chest for dramatic effect.
Jack cut through them all “Everyone shut up and listen.” The short pause in tension ended “We’re going to have round the clock surveillance in this area where the bodies were discovered and along the next few miles surrounding the woods. I want everyone who lives nearby these woods to be fully interrogated; maybe one of the residents saw something or someone suspicious. For now, everyone clear out!” Right away everyone began to pack up what they didn’t need and loading into the FBI cars. The three lead investigators made some more humorous commentary amongst themselves.
Will was growing physically tired so he felt extra irritated, his complaint came out before he could think twice “We came all this way for nothing…”
The science duo gave the empath wide eyed looks before they quickly cleared out, Beverly the only one who stayed behind. Jack who was practically in earshot of course heard it and said in a stern voice “I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that.” He began walking back to his vehicle “Now get back to the car, I’ll drive you home.”
Beverly whispered to Will as she passed him “I know you’re tired but quit trying to get yourself killed.”
Will stayed staring at the dark scenery, the lingering daydream from before still disturbing him. He looked into the black spaces between the trees, thinking the the black figure would emerge again and they could finally put an end to all this. It was one of his impossible hopes and he kicked himself for not even believing it when he thought it.
Hannibal lightly touched his arm and it brought him back from his fantasizing. The doctor asked “Shall we go?” Will didn’t answer aloud but gave a quick nod as their feet crunched back to the car.
Snow was lightly falling on the way back to Wolftrap. Jack pulled into Will’s house and the other two men stepped out as well much to Will’s aggravation. He reached his house first; he looked inside to see his dogs sleeping peacefully. Turning around he faced the men but didn’t plan on inviting them inside.
Jack spoke and Will tried to prepare himself for what he was going to say “Will, I know the last days have been rough and you’re tired. I’m as exhausted as you are but that doesn’t mean we can start snapping on each other, that won’t help anything.” Will agreed shaking his head, “So if you continue having an attitude with me I’ll force you to sleep and you won’t like the way I do it.” Jack gave a small grin with his last sentence.
“I am sorry, Jack.” Will said actually meaning it.
“I want to help you, Will, I do but I need you to help me first.” Will nodded, knowing the man was right. Jack’s face softened a little “Get some rest if you can, be sure you do what you promised me okay?”
“Yeah. It’s right here in my pocket.” He held his phone out, “It’ll be on all night I swear.” Jack patted his shoulder as he said goodnight and headed back to his car. Will sighed and realized Hannibal was quietly remaining by his side instead of following Jack.
“May I inquire what this promise about your mobile was about?” Hannibal asked tilting his head slightly to the side.
Will shrugged his shoulders “I’ve been having some issues with not answering my phone so Jack made me promise to keep it on hand. I’m trying to be better at it…”
Hannibal chuckled softly “I suppose that is a pretty peculiar demand to make.”
Will appreciated his attempt at sarcasm “No, in the end it’s really not. There’s a lot going on and I need to be able to help as soon as possible.”
“You also need to worry about getting proper rest as well, Will.” Hannibal counteracted surprising the empath, “I do not want you to put yourself last.”
Will looked at Hannibal, remembering when the man once said “I don’t care about the lives you save, Will. I care about your life.”
The memory made Will’s heart skip a moment and he felt his face heating up, he was thankful it was dark enough the doctor probably couldn’t tell. He didn’t know what to say to the man’s honest words so there was a short silence.
Then Will blurted out what he had wanted to say long ago “I’m sorry I missed your call before, Dr. Lecter.” Hannibal raised his eyebrows at him, Will explained “It was rude of me, I should’ve apologized sooner but…the timing was always wrong….so I’m sorry.”
Hannibal smiled fondly which made Will stare at him. Will could see so deep into Hannibal’s eyes and was growing more consciously aware how close their bodies were. He could practically feel the other man’s body heat, it made his heartbeat quicken.
“Thank you, Will.” The empath thought he saw Hannibal’s eyes drift from his eyes to his mouth, but his gaze was immediately back to his eyes too fast to confirm it “Please know that should you ever need assistance with anything do not hesitate to contact me.”
Will stuttered his reply “Thanks…Thank you too, Hannibal.” Again Hannibal smiled softly at Will who couldn’t break his eyes away from his stare.
Abruptly Hannibal turned away as he began to step off of Will’s porch as he said “I should go, I’ve been making Jack wait long enough. Goodnight, Will.” He looked back at the younger man “Please don’t forget what I said, I always answer the phone for friends.” Just then Will swore the man winked at him but didn’t say anything since Hannibal swiftly left and got into Jack’s car.
They drove off and Will was left alone.
After taking care of his companions’ needs and his own, he immediately headed for bed after the long day. Before he tried to sleep though he pulled his phone out from his coat pocket and placed it beside his pillow. He checked to make sure the volume was on its highest setting and stared at the screen’s light until his eyes fluttered closed.
While the next few days didn’t prove exactly to be sunny it was only cloudy, the cold however refused to let up. The first weekday Will tried to do his teacher duties and was headed into his classroom where his students were waiting to start. Just when he took a step in the doorway a hand firmly gripped his shoulder and pulled him back, Will turned to the one who was impeding him “Jack what are you doing?”
Jack’s face was still as stone and his eyes were dead serious, his shoulders were squared and his body was rigid yet teeming with energy. Bluntly but seriously he announced “Bigfoot’s been caught.”
Looked like Will was going to cancel another class.
Back at the FBI headquarters, Will was joined by the other agents. Beverly, Brian, Jimmy and himself watched from behind the one-way mirror as Jack, accompanied by Hannibal, entered the interrogation room with the man named ‘Bigfoot.’
Price and Zeller voiced Will’s surprise when they all caught their first glimpse of the man.
He was tall as they had predicted, large frame, around late 30's early 40's. The man had pale skin and blue eyes that refused to look up from his twiddling thumbs. His hands as well as feet had been cuffed; his orange jumpsuit was tight around his muscular arms and stretched with every movement.
“Aw man he’s bald!” Price exclaimed, “Was really hoping he’d be hairy like the actual Bigfoot.”
“Male pattern baldness is common among men.” Beverly commented.
“Not all of them.” Price and Zeller laughably pretended they had flowing locks as they threw their heads back like the fashion models did.
“Seriously though…he doesn’t have the look of a killer…” Beverly said then looked at Will “Don’t you think so, Will?”
While Will didn’t say it he did agree that even if the man had an intimidating physique, there was innocence to him. Will saw a twitching man, riddled with guilt and misery, he almost felt pity for him.
Will finally knew now that he could see his eyes that everything he did wasn’t out of a bloodthirsty need…it was out of pure desperation.
Jack started the interrogation by laying out the various photos of the victims, the man briefly looking at them before turning away like he’d been slapped. Crawford began to slowly walk around the small table while Hannibal had sat across from the suspect, his composure as perfect as always.
Crawford spoke and all the attention turned to him “Billy Keller.” he started off saying the man’s name “Baltimore born and longtime resident. You were a former professor of creative arts at a local college until you were fired for sexually assaulting a female student. After that…you were reported to have continued your artistic ways in a woodland house out of the city. A house only one mile away from where the bodies of eight people were found. Upon interrogation of everyone who lived nearby…one of your neighbors reported spotting you out of your house, which you never supposedly leave until recently, throwing away multiple giant suspicious bags which through further investigation were filled with fall colored leaves. Thus leading to the search of your house and the discovery of your…workplace.”
Jack stopped walking and stood beside the fidgeting man “Not only were the belongings, personal pictures of the victims and their families, make up, jewelry and clothing found but as well the traces of their hair and skin follicles on your stone slab in your garage. The cans of bonding glue we found also matched the same substance used to attach the leaves to the victim’s skin. ” The man squeezed his eyes shut, “All the evidence we found is why you’re here now. You got anything to say for yourself?” Jack towered over the taller man whose cuffed restraints jingled from his shaking.
The man’s mouth kept opening and closing as he struggled to talk so Hannibal said with an encouraging voice “Take your time, Billy.”
Will watched closely as the large man took a deep breath and began spilling his tale.
His voice was full of grief, Will couldn’t help but shut his eyes as he listened “I…I remember being happy at first…I was able to teach the passion I loved and was able to create and be creative among others. It was fun…it was fulfilling. I never had any trouble creating anything, with every piece I did the praise came naturally…” his voice was full of longing for the past but he continued at Jack’s urging “The new semester was…was when I saw her…and when everything changed. I thought she was beautiful, so beautiful I thought she deserved to have her own art museum. I didn’t want anyone to touch her…to defile her beauty. Please believe me when I say I only wanted…to preserve her beauty; preserve it in some way forever. Much like how Hjalmar Poelzig in the movie ‘The Black Cat’ kept his dead beautiful wives in glass cases, they stayed lovely forever while he quietly watched over them…” He moved some photos around so he could see one shot of a female body clearly “When I tried to explain it to her…she looked at me with such horror and disgust….that’s when I felt myself breaking. Soon afterward I lost everything, my job, friends, family…my inspiration to create…I didn’t know what to do…I couldn’t think, eat, above all I couldn’t sleep….soon I felt restless. I began to feel this…ache. This ache in my hands to create something…That’s when the voices started.”
Chills go down Will’s spine; everything else begins to drown out except the man’s voice. Images began to form before him; he could feel every emotion the man went through.
Billy went on “In the beginning it started out as one, not sounding like mine or anyone else’s I’d heard before. Eventually more began speaking in my ear, they would be so loud and constantly talking…they’d keep me awake every single night it became unbearable…so, out of desperation…I began to listen to what they had to say. They were kind to me, even listened to when I had something to say. They encouraged me to make art again. They said I must create a masterpiece. It was my duty. However…no matter what I painted or sculpted they were never satisfied…and neither was I. I needed a bigger canvas, something better for my vision…that was when I found myself wandering the woods. I’d been there several times before, hiking or just a simple walk when I got a touch of artist block. This time though I walked the furthest inside I had ever gone and…I found the place I wanted. At the time it was fall and the colors of the leaves struck a chord deep within me…I had found my canvas, my inspiration in the leaves of the season, but I still needed the right…materials. That’s when he realized what the voices had wanted me to do all along.” There was pure lament in his shaky voice, “The thought terrified me…I thought I couldn’t go through with their wishes…that’s when they lost all their compassion. They stopped talking…and began screaming. Such horrible high pitched screaming I felt like my head was going to implode!”
Will is surged with the intensity in his words and begins having trouble breathing; he does his best to make sure no one notices. He continues listening “I…I didn’t have a choice! I couldn’t stand their screaming any longer…! So I…I did what they wanted me to do. I know…I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t stop myself…they were all so beautiful….I had to…I had to preserve their beauty. I needed them…to finish my masterpiece. It wouldn’t have been complete without them! If it wasn’t complete the voices wouldn’t leave me in peace! They would’ve kept screaming at me! I just wanted them to shut up!” he covered his face with his hands; he was on the verge of tears “I just wanted to sleep! I just wanted… for everyone to see the beauty I did…why…why…why did it all go wrong?” His sobs were agonizing and he could no longer form coherent sentences so Jack ended the interrogating, he had his confession.
The bodyguards escorted the grief-stricken man out with Jack right behind them, Hannibal followed shortly but not before discreetly looking at the mirror almost directly at Will. Meanwhile the empath couldn’t catch his breath so he ran quickly out of the small room, not stopping when the science crew asked if he needed help. Out in the hallway where he thought no one would find him he sat on a bench, holding onto himself. He tried to concentrate on regulating his breathing but it was so difficult with the past few minutes of listening to the man repeat in an endless loop in Will’s mind. He felt all the man’s anguish and misery like it was his own, like he had been the one to kill all those people for the sweet relief of sleep.
His lungs were on fire from the lack of oxygen and his mind felt like it was melting.
Someone called to him “Will? Will, are you alright?” Hannibal looked at him and right away knew he wasn’t. He kneeled in front of the empath “Will, breathe.” he tried to answer the man but nothing intelligible came out, then Will felt Hannibal’s hand cover his eyes “Will…I want you to listen to what I say. Forget everything else, don’t focus on anything other than my voice. Concentrate.” He instructed him. Hannibal’s warmth felt strangely familiar to Will but he didn’t spend long thinking how he recognized it as he tried to follow the doctor’s order. After a few minutes he finds the pacifying darkness and the man’s tranquil voice slowly working; he was able to get a single breath followed by another. “Breathe in, Breathe out. Now, tell me who you are and where you think you are.” Hannibal asked keeping his hand in place.
Calmly Will answered “My…My name is Will Graham…and I’m at the Federal Bureau of Investigation building…with Hannibal Lecter kneeling in front of me.” He added in the last part and got the softest chuckle from the doctor.
“Good.” Hannibal lowered his hand, now looking directly into Will’s eyes “Tell me. What did you feel listening to Mr. Keller’s story?”
Hannibal waited for Will to compose himself then Will answered acidly “Everything.” He rubbed his face “His passion, his grief…his desperation. Everything…”he sighed realizing he was visibly trembling.
Will felt the man staring at him then Hannibal advised “Your temperature is high, Will. If you feel unwell I suggest you go to a medical professional. You could be on the verge of a panic attack.” He sounded genuinely concerned.
However Will insisted “I’m alright….really I’ll be okay. Besides….I have to get back to teaching my class. I should at least be a responsible adult and do my job properly…” he attempted to stand, but saw he wasn’t perfectly straight.
Hannibal had reached out a hesitating hand but didn’t touch Will, he asked “Are you certain, Will?” Will reassured the psychiatrist he was fine and gave the man a small smile. Hannibal didn’t argue with him and watched as Will left.
Even if Will did feel a mess he was too stubborn to admit it and carried on. Internally praying to get at least through the lecture.
News of the killer being captured had reached the student body very swiftly and Will received applause when he walked in. He appreciated the gesture but disliked it more so he asked them to stop as he turned on his projector and began his speech.
Will began by discussing the Bigfoot case, showing the images of the killer’s victims. He noticed he sometimes stared too long at the pictures, “Our killer was an artist. Like any artist this man was so passionate…so devoted to his skill that in the end…it was his downhill.” He continued the slideshow, “After losing everything in his life he turned to art for salvation…not satisfied with his usual means of supplies, he decided he needed new…materials to compose his latest piece. You can tell by the amount of detail he put into every body that he was very serious about how the final composition turned out…he wanted everyone to see the beauty he saw.”
He flipped onto the image of the first young female victim that was the recipient of his unhealthy love, he felt a tightening in his chest “Sleep deprivation played a major factor in this killer’s crime…in his self-induced isolation he began to experience hallucinations and hearing voices…” Will felt like he was speaking about himself “This distraught man claims these voices were so excruciating he had no choice but to listen to them. And that’s where he made his mistake…” he begins to feel short of breath but pushes on “By listening….and heeding their demands he gave them power. He gave them power over him and truly believed that only by completion on his masterpiece…he could be free of their nuisance. This man believed wholeheartedly that doing these deadly deeds was his only way of obtaining sleep.” Will then feels a droplet on his coat sleeve and realizes he’s sweating.
Will removes his glasses and wipes his face with his sleeve as he walks behind his desk, he distracts the class with a reading assignment. He quickly feels hot and suffocated in his coat, as he sheds it off he feels something weighing down his left pocket. Pulling out the object he sees his reflection on his cellphone screen.
He contemplates on using it as he turns on the screen and begins looking through his few contacts. Some students distracted him with some questions and he answered them the best he could so he could get back quickly to phone. He turns his back to his students and goes back to looking at the snapshots of the Bigfoot victims.
Hearing soft clicking he realizes his hand was moving on its own. When he looked down at the screen to see what in the world he was texting he gasped when he read Message Sent.
Beginning to worry about who he sent the message to and more importantly what he sent he tries to go to his messages when the phone suddenly vibrated.
Will’s eyes widen and his heart stops when he sees who replied.
One New Message: Hannibal Lecter (1)
I’m on my way.
Hannibal had been the one to receive Will’s delirious text and now he was on his way to the academy.
Now in a full state of panic, Will’s sweaty palms made him drop his phone.
As he bent down to retrieve it, it was gone.
Will blinked a couple times and patted the floor in search of it but found nothing. He dismissed his panicked thoughts as he remembered he still had the class waiting on him to continue.
Standing back up he turned around, ready to apologize for his abnormal behavior but froze.
The classroom was empty.
All the students were gone, not even their voices could be heard in the hallway.
Will staggered backwards into his desk chair. Now he was panting as he clawed his face with his moist hands, he put his head in between his knees.
He tried to concentrate on his breathing and not his hysterical rising thoughts.
(Why was his phone playing tricks on him again?)
He remembered being back in the forest with the corpses surrounding him.
(What had he sent the doctor?)
The colors of the leaves…his body falling into them as the sound of glass pierces his ears.
(What happened to his students? How had they left without him noticing? He couldn’t have imagined them from the beginning could he? He knew he had answered their questions…they had to be real, right?)
He remembers his body being impaled. His brain catching fire.
(What was happening to him?)
His heart was pounding in his ears; he gritted his teeth and wanted to scream to shut out his thoughts.
His name gets called.
“Will?” it’s a calming sound, “Will!”
Will’s eyes snap open and he slowly unfolds himself as he sees Hannibal enter the room, so composed as always it almost annoys Will. There was still some small relief now that Will knew he was definitely awake.
The man quickly walks over to him and removes Will’s hands from his face. Hannibal’s large warm hands instead touch his forehead and behind his neck. His face is so close, so near, that Will openly stares through half-lidded eyes he guessed the doctor wouldn’t notice.
Hannibal says nothing as he grabs Will’s discarded coat, helps Will put it back on despite it being uncomfortable and begins leading him out. His grip is like iron as he keeps a tight hold on Will for fear he might fall or unable to walk.
Will and Hannibal step out into the chilly night air, still in that steady voice the doctor instructs “Close your eyes, Will.” The twitching man complies “Take long deep breaths. Breathe in the cooling air…inhale through your nostrils. Clear your head…just like before.”
Listening to the man, Will did as told. His chest no longer felt tight and as he breathed the crisp air it felt soothing and was relieving the immense heat he felt before. The doctor stayed so quiet Will thought he vanished too until he got a whiff of his cologne. It smelled expensive to Will but he actually liked it, musty yet warm like spice. He began to wonder if it was really cologne or his natural scent. Strangely it smelt familiar.
“Do you feel better now?” Hannibal asked bringing Will back to his senses.
“Much…Thank you, again, Dr. Lecter.” Will made eye contact with him, suddenly remembering why he was here “Oh…! I-I mean I’m sorry…” the empath changed his mind of where he was leading the conversation, “I...I mean I’m sorry but do you mind me asking...if you saw anyone come out of the building?” Will looked away, unable to make eye contact.
Hannibal blinked then replied “Only your students.”
Will asked, surprise in his voice “You...You actually saw them leaving?”
“Yes. I inquired one of them where you might be and they informed me you were still the classroom after having released them for the night.” Hannibal answered coolly like he didn’t find it a strange question at all.
Pure solace washed over Will and released a shaky but relaxed sigh “Oh...that’s...right.” there was still worry in his mind over not remembering any of it but more relief from knowing everything hadn’t all been a figment of his imagination.
After a short of silence, Will was about to approach the subject of why Hannibal was really here but the doctor instead asked out of the blue “Would you like to join me for dinner, Will?”
Will squinted like he didn’t understand the question “Excuse me?”
The doctor rephrased “I’ve noticed you looking thinner recently and I worry you aren’t properly feeding yourself, so I’d very much like the opportunity to feed you myself.”
Will hesitated with his response “I’m not sure...I think I should go home…”
Hannibal looked deep into Will’s blue eyes and immediately said “I insist.” he gave a small smile “I’d like to enjoy your company a little longer.”
Will felt a hard thump in his chest, with some more internal debating with himself he finally shrugged “You did come all the way here…” he couldn’t manage a direct ‘yes’.
Regardless it was enough to make Hannibal grin enough to show teeth.
Hannibal aggressively offered to drive the empath in his car despite Will having his vehicle in the parking lot, but he didn’t argue too much since he figured he was in no state to drive alone.
Everything had happened so fast that while gathering his things, Will remembered his phone was still missing. He had no idea of where it could be and refused to ask for help since he still wanted the subject of phone messages with Hannibal.
Will tried to nonchalantly search for his phone on the car ride to the doctor’s house but wasn’t having any luck. Hannibal had noticed Will’s frantic searching but never asked anything and kept quiet.
When they arrived at the man’s house Will gave up on his lost cell but tried to retrace his steps from earlier. Meanwhile Hannibal had helped Will take off his coat and made the empath jump when he put his hand on Will’s lower back side to guide him forward.
Hannibal led him into the kitchen and Will took a seat, still feeling the warmth of his hand even after he removed it.
After taking off his suit jacket, rolling up his sleeves and putting his apron on the doctor went straight to the fridge and started pulling out various containers with different ingredients. He put on some pans, oiling and buttering them as the room already began to smell good. He mixed some spices together as he began butchering some meat into cutlets and massaging the rub onto to them.
As he started to sear them, the aromas filling Will’s nose and reminding him of his empty stomach, he opened a bottle of wine and began pouring it into a pan. A slight fire arose when a pan got doused but it never bother the culinary man while on the other hand it impressed Will a bit. The doctor smiled at him and Will’s lips twitched into half a grin.
He multi tasked on several other components of the meal but gave them all the same amount of focused attention. Will watched as sometimes the doctor’s shirt tightened around his biceps and chest whenever he moved a certain way.
Will tried not to openly gawk like he knew he was doing so instead tried to make conversation “That smells really great…” he honestly said since his mouth watered every time he looked at the meat.
“That’s good, you’ll enjoy it more when you taste it.” Hannibal began to chop some vegetables skillfully with his sharp knife, “Dinner is almost ready, would you like to go have a seat in the dining room?” he looked at the empath who didn’t need to be told twice.
Entering the room Will looked at the table which was strangely already set for two. He wondered if the well-dressed man had been expecting someone else for dinner or he had planned for Will to come all along?
The frosty windows distracted Will from thinking too long on his question. The coolness that came from them felt good and Will found himself leaning his forehead against them.
“Will…” A whisper in his ear made him almost yelp. He turned around to see Hannibal smiling at him, two plates being held expertly on his arm. “Dinner is served.”
“Oh...thank you.” Will ignored his heating face and took his seat besides Hannibal’s at the head of the table.
“Beef tenderloin with a red wine and port sauce…” he placed the elegant plate in front of Will “Garnished with carrots, cooked shallots, asparagus and potatoes.” Hannibal set his own plate before undoing the button of his returned suit jacket, he poured Will a glass of wine “If I had the proper time I would have constructed something more extravagant, I apologize for that.”
Will picked up his fork and knife, “No...No this is more than enough for me. Even ‘simple’ according to you is more elegant for someone like me.” he cut into the meat and took a bite, “This is delicious…” every bite after that was more and more fulfilling.
Hannibal gave a pleased smile as he watched the empath eat “Thank you. I’m happy to hear that.” he savored his food as well.
After dinner was finished Will did feel better having a full stomach. The two men retreated from the dining room into Hannibal’s parlor. It was dimly lit and the few lamps gave off soft light, all around there were paintings as well as various antiques. Hannibal poured Will another glass of wine and himself one as Will glanced around the room. The scent of flowers filled the air and the piano seemed like it was ready to be played for an audience. However as Will slid his hand against it’s shiny cover, violin music played instead.
While Will found the music lovely in his ears he still felt unsure of what to do now that he and Hannibal were alone without distractions. Speak honestly with his accommodating psychiatrist or turn tail and run to the safety of his home?
He took a chance “Maybe I should head home…” he lowered his cup.
Right away Hannibal wrapped his fingers around Will’s hand holding the stem of the wine glass, he brought it back up to Will’s lips as he persisted “Please. We haven’t gotten the chance to speak properly.”
Will felt his pulse jump at the touch and took a long drink of the liquor until it was finished. He needed all the ‘encouragement’ he could get.
The whole time Hannibal watched closely with that sharp gaze, patiently waiting on Will to start the discussion.
After a deep inhale Will said “You were right, Doctor Lecter.” again Hannibal slightly rose his eyebrows at him, he explained “I should have gotten medical help after the...interrogation. I wasn’t feeling well...as you saw.” he leaned against the piano as he turned his head away.
Hannibal looked at the ground then said “Regardless of what you didn’t do...I am happy you sought out my help.” Will heard him walking away, he looked at his back as the man headed towards the sofa. Thinking it was his chance to ask about his text message he opened his mouth to speak but the doctor added “That must have been a difficult thing for you to do.”
Will held his empty glass with two hands as he took steps forward “You mean because I don’t ask for help when I should?” he question was accusing even though he didn’t completely mean for it to be.
“You don’t like to admit weakness, Will.” he locked eyes with the empath, who looked at him with surprise “We all want a sense of power...of control over what goes on in our lives. However admitting we are weak is not an invocation of weakness, it is a sign of resolvement.” Will now looked at his feet, still listening intently “Whatever is plaguing you, Will… you fear it. You fear what it could do to you...what it could mean. You must speak about what haunts you...those monsters that lurk in the dark don’t go away on their own.”
Will felt his chest tighten a moment then set his cup down on a small table as he went to sit beside Hannibal on the couch.
He held his hands together like Hannibal often did, his head slouching as he said “It’s nightmares that lurk in my darkness...not monsters.” his voice was low but he knew the man could hear him.
“Are they what cause you to lose sleep?” Hannibal asked..
Will let out a choked short laugh “I’ve always had trouble sleeping...the nightmares aren’t really anything new but...but what that man said during the interrogation...hearing things...hallucinations...I...I felt like he was talking about me…” He recalled how intense the murderer’s words had surged through him, how he related so much to the foolhardy man who just wanted sleep.
“Perhaps I’m a fool too…” Will unintentionally said aloud.
Immediately Hannibal replied “You are no fool, Will. You understood his ache for peace because you seek it as well.” Will nodded “What is it that truly scares you from understanding that man’s perspective?”
Will gripped his hands tighter together “I don’t want to become so weak that I end up...becoming like him.” frantically he continued “Poelzig sacrificed his beautiful wives for the satanic ritual he did...Keller sacrificed those people and his sanity for art!” He knew he was loud but he no longer cared, he closed his eyes again and tried to calm his furious heart. Hannibal hadn’t said a word so Will could finish his agonized thoughts.
Slowly opening his eyes and turning to Hannibal he spoke almost in a whisper, he asked miserably “What am I going to sacrifice to stop feeling like my mind is on fire…?”
The doctor was about to say something but decided not to say whatever it was, he licked his lips as he said “You must remember Will...you are already stronger than you think you are.” Will was taken aback.
“Anyone else with these gifts of yours no doubt would have crumbled at their weight. Yet you fight your way back to yourself each and every time…” not knowing what to say the younger man only stared, “It is truly an incredible feat...but challenging also.” Hannibal smiled, though it appeared friendly it seemed to have another meaning behind it.
Will was still stunned at the encouraging words but had the strange feeling of being mocked too.
Then he noticed the doctor was sitting nearer than before. Their knees were closer and their faces no more than a foot apart. Suddenly his heartbeat was in his throat again and he tried to focus on the small table’s decoration, a jaded vase with some intricate designs he started to mentally trace. Again the closeness made Will able to smell the doctor’s scent, the exotic mixture now stronger than before. He tried to get back on topic “I guess I’ll ask you once more, Dr. Lecter...what do you suggest I do?”
With the proximity Will could feel whenever the man shifted in his spot, “The only resolution I see is not necessarily a resolution so much as the simplest course of action. First eating properly for your body to feel whole, clearing your mind and the relaxation of your body at night.”
Will wanted to laugh at the man’s overdone explanation “In other words, just to get some sleep.”
Hannibal couldn’t hide his smile but sent it away when he said “I apologize if that is not the answer you were expecting.”
Will snickered “I’m not sure if it wasn’t...but for now...it really is the only thing I can try.” he sighed, his body feeling a little lighter “Just...talking about it has made me feel a bit better.” this time he did give a sincere smile, one Hannibal mirrored as well.
Peaceful silence fell between them.
Will felt completely at ease for the first time in weeks, the warm atmosphere so calming he felt himself getting drowsy. He blinked several times to keep his eyelids from getting too heavy, each time he thought he was getting closer and closer to Hannibal’s face. His thin pink lips looking softer and the man’s dark eyes seeming more hypnotic.
He felt, he knew he was being drawn in. A quick thought came to him that he had to stop whatever was happening yet part of him didn’t want to...but as luck would have it he didn’t have to fight himself over what to do when the clock decided for him.
Hannibal’s antique clock chimed from behind them, the hour reading eleven.
Will tried to hide his relief, Hannibal didn’t appear to notice as he stood up “My apologies, Will. I hadn’t meant to keep you here this late an hour.” Will got to his feet, “Shall we be on our way?”
“Yes, thank you.” Will hurried, reprimanding himself for getting swayed so easily and never asking what he meant to.
In the vehicle, his returned unanswered questions returned but were overpowered by drowsiness.
(Where’s my phone…? Did I leave it at the academy after all…?) Will’s head began to nod off, the heater pleasant and the smooth movement of the car lulling his eyes to shut.
(What did I send to Hannibal?...Was it so distressing for him to have rushed over?) He felt his head leaning to the left, instead of touching the cold window he pressed against something firm yet warm.
Too in his sleep daze to question moving from the comfortable position he continued his thoughts. (What did I say to make him so considerate…? Was he like that with everyone who suddenly asked him for help...?) Will knew he was slipping deeper into sleep and his mind was quieting, his last question was one he hadn’t thought before (Why would he do so much for me…? Why for me…?) He buried his face into his strange pillow, it’s aroma familiar and pacifying.
Will slept the entire car ride home, Hannibal honestly enjoying being used as a arm pillow.
Though the ride to Will’s house was a few hours long, it wasn’t long enough for him and he was still tired after the nap. He dragged himself out in the cold, up his porch steps and guessing he’d have to call in a favor from Jack or Beverly to fetch his car tomorrow, he decided not to worry about it till later. He was glad he didn’t have any classes to teach the following day as well.
Will figured his dogs must have been asleep since they hadn’t barked once at their arrival. He stood by his screen door and saw the doctor had joined him. Unlike before when they were joined by Jack, the porch-light was off so Will couldn’t see Hannibal too well. The moon’s beams reflected off the snow covering the ground, they almost glowed behind Hannibal’s dark figure.
“Hannibal…” Will rubbed his sore neck, in the dark no longer feeling so embarrassed to face the man. He knew even in the dark that Hannibal was staring straight at him, “Thank you...for the meal and the ride home.”
“Believe me, it was my pleasure.” he sounded like there was a smile on his lips. “I wish there was more I could do for you.”
Will’s heart did a small jump, he took his chance “I don’t see why you would want to be so considerate about me…”
He regretted his phrasing but knew it was the best way to get right to the point, however his heart refused to remain calm in the seconds to Hannibal’s answer. Will heard Hannibal shuffle his feet like he was getting closer as well as the breath he let out “Because I care about what happens to you, Will.”
Will retorted “You’re my psychiatrist...is that not part of your job? Although I figured you wouldn’t be so personal…”
Now Will could feel Hannibal’s warmth right in front of him, his instinct was step back but he didn’t knowing he’d collide with the screen so he stayed in place. “Will…” Hannibal’s voice seemed deeper than before “You are not just a patient for me…” Will’s breath caught in his throat “I consider you a dear friend...I wouldn’t hesitate to help you if you asked me. Please remember that.” now Will could practically breathe in the man’s fragrance.
The proximity impulsively caused Will to want to flee but a part of him wanted to stay rooted where he was. Regardless of his vision being obscured by the dark he knew Hannibal’s eyes bore right into him, right through his being. He felt so exposed but the fear was more thrilling than frightening,
As the moment progressed Will could begin to feel Hannibal’s low breaths begin to hit his face, soon he believed he could breathe them in as his own.
Will clenched his fists, unsure what to do with them, he made sure to stay perfectly still and fought against his trembling and keep his uneven breathing from sounding too violent. Without realizing he had slightly tilted his head, no longer able to stare ahead he shut his eyes. His heart slammed into his rib-cage with every passing second he waited.
A thought came to him that he should stop whatever was occurring, that even though the urge for something to happen was strong it was somehow wrong, but the doubt was soon dismissed.
Something so warm and soft made contact with Will’s lower lip, sparking a current to course through Will’s entire body. His desire to lean into the contact was so fierce it scared him.
Unfortunately the fates were set on impeding Will from succumbing to his impulses.
The door slammed behind them as Will’s dogs began to furiously bark in excitement.
Will snapped out of his trance and turned away from Hannibal to speak to his companions “Hang on, guys. I’ll be right there.” they calmed down a little but some still barked to be let out. He looked back to the man and felt the need to apologize “I’m sorry…”
“No, please...forgive me for taking up your time again. I should be going.” he didn’t take a step away.
Will turned completely back to him, despite his embarrassment telling him to do the opposite and just go inside and say goodbye with a door between them “Hannibal...thank you again...for everything you did I mean…”
The slight twitch of Hannibal’s ears let Will know he was smiling, “As I said, Will...should you ever need my assistance please do not hesitate to ask.” his figure leaned close to Will again.
Will nodded “Okay…” he stood frozen when he thought he saw Hannibal leaning closer, his lips parted and he shut his eyes. The man’s body warmth was near like before and he waited for the brief contact from earlier to continue where it left off.
He shuddered when a whisper hit his ear, “Have a goodnight’s rest, Will.” then the warmth left him completely.
Opening his eyes he saw Hannibal’s back leaving for his car, his dogs started to bark louder now, when he got to his door the Lithuanian man smiled once more at a confused Will then was on his way.
Almost breathless now, Will tried to figure out what had happened. He felt a mix of being toyed with, disappointment yet content that nothing happened. His face still felt flushed so as he let out his dogs he remained outside, taking the chilly air in slow deep breaths.
Will tried to summarize all that happened throughout the day and concluded that while he didn’t really get his questions answered he came to a solution for his fatigue. Speaking about his troubles had helped him but now his emotions were jumbled up. The good doctor had certainly done a lot for him that night and despite all the thoughts rising in Will’s mind he just wanted appreciate the meal he had with the man and the listening ear.
It had been an enjoyable night, for the most part.
He watched as his dogs had ran up the road where Hannibal’s red tail lights were disappearing and some played around in the snow. Will stuck his cold hands in his coat and felt an object in the right pocket.
A scream of frustration wanted to leave Will’s mouth when he pulled out his missing phone.
He got aggravated on why he couldn’t locate the damn phone before but focused on the main task and instantly got to looking through his messages. Will found the message he didn’t remember sending and was so astonished he became unsteady on his feet and had to sit down on his porch. Tiny snowflakes began to fall from above but he couldn’t pull his eyes away from the device screen.
He feels like his heart has fully stopped and goes into further chaos on how he should feel.
His message was so vague anyone else would’ve ignored it, thought he was probably joking, or just have called to see how Will was doing but...Hannibal instead drove all the way to his school to come help him personally.
The man went completely out of his way to almost pamper him, whether it was because the message sounded distressed or he was truly worried because he thought Will a friend...he wasn’t sure about.
Despite the cold, Will’s face was heated with embarrassment though of course his dogs didn’t notice his struggle except for Winston who sat beside him, tilting his head in a questioning manner.
He aggressively ran his hand through his curls and his face, wanting so much to just toss the phone as far as he could throw. Will stared more at the message that caused so much trouble.
Sent 9:05 pm
Save me my head is in flames.
Will glared at the message until his eyes could no longer stand the bright light.
All the interactions with Hannibal from tonight came flooding back to Will.
His smiles, his dauntless gaze, his calming voice.
That small contact. The brief but intense sensation he felt.
(How could have that delirious text have made Hannibal be so considerate? It was so ridiculous I would have thought it was a strange joke! Yet he took it seriously....Why did he do all this for me...?)
The real questions that were being juggled in his head were he had to admit (What would’ve happened if he and Hannibal hadn’t been interrupted before…?)
Will touched his bottom lip, still vividly recalling the soft texture against it. (Would he have been okay if they actually...if their lips had made full contact?)
He furiously shook his head, it was all too much to think about and he was exhausted as it was.
Will felt he’d somehow been tricked in some way but knew whatever future situations came up he’d probably come out losing no matter what he did. Seemed it was always that way for him.
He let the annoying thoughts pass and exhaled a deep sigh to rid him of everything. After his dogs were done they all headed inside to call it a night.
With the fireplace warming everyone and the sight of the falling snow outside, Will found himself easily drifting off. His body felt relaxed and his mind was actually quiet.
Before he completely rested he put his phone on his bedside table, far away yet close enough for comfort. Finally he got some decent sleep, not perfect but sleep nonetheless.
No nightmares, no overwhelming sensations, just simple sleep.
And after everything that had passed, it was enough for him.