Summary: Will hasn't eaten meat since his dad died when he was a kid-hasn't been able to stomach it. It's not moral, it's just unappealing. Too bad his dad never gave him the name of his butcher.
He doesn't mind Hannibal's cooking, though, and if he could only remember to ask him who his butcher is...

Hannibal is simply curious how deeply Will's nature is buried. He'd almost missed seeing it himself.

*looks away* I know, it took a while.

I'm not sure if I'm really all that great writing Hannibal… Ill still try, I think, for another chapter from his perspective, but I'm not promising it or anything.

Enjoy!

The Vegetarian Option

Chapter 3—Potage

Hannibal has been doing this for a long time.

There are very few he'd deign to tell quite how long, however, and he is usually happy with that.

(You can't have too many hunters in one area, after all.)

But Hannibal finds himself less annoyed at the possibility Abigail Hobbs presents than he'd realized—he'd warned her father, true, but that was only polite. There were so few of them after all, and if dear Will was correct…

That remains to be seen.

Until Abigail Hobbs wakes he will not know how long she and her father had been indulging, will not know how far along she is or even what sort she would be…

Garrett Jacob Hobbs, unfortunately, had been of Hannibal's own ilk—though infinitely more distasteful, certainly, his ability to kill his wife and make an attempt on his daughter rather showed his hand.

That, along with the lack of any pets, made it more than doubtful he had the pack mentality of the Other.

How quickly Abigail woke would also tell him how far along to Becoming she was, but the lack of pets at home said nothing of her own orientation.

In any case, Becoming so young would be to her benefit, if Hannibal's suspicion proves correct.

His mind, unwittingly, shifts to his favourite profiler.

Shaking, covered in blood splatter, lungs contracting in gasping breath—

Will Graham was, in a word, exquisite.

His mind was unlike any other that Hannibal had experienced before; unlike any he encountered.

He was rude, jittery and twitchy in a way that should be distasteful but is instead… charming. It is obvious that he protects his beautiful mind from others with barbed words, sarcasm and blunt remarks pushing people back with varying success, his sharp wit discouraging any attempt to get closer than absolutely necessary.

So different from Hannibal's steel walls covered in silk, the bristly covering he keeps so close to his hide is a fascination. It is to Hannibal's benefit that he sees and knows to navigate between the thorns.

Will Graham knows what to do when faced with the ugliness of humanity, even if he doesn't know quite what to do with it afterwards.

What fascinates Hannibal is that Will has no idea what to do in the face of kindness.

It is what allowed Hannibal into his motel room; it is what allowed him to feed him.

And feeding Will Graham was a pleasure.

There was something strange in the look he was given when he handed out the protein scramble, not something Hannibal could put his finger on. Will was deliciously open with his opinion of Hannibal's culinary abilities, the small noises he let out unwittingly almost as sweet as the unabashed groans. His appreciation for food warmed him almost as much as the knowledge of what he was feeding him.

One day, he would have him at his table.

Perhaps eating another morsel from a crime scene he'd dipped his beautiful brain into.

The thrill and pleasure he got from giving Will the leftovers of Cassie Boyle's lungs, from dear Will's poorly contained interest…

He would have Will at his table for a proper meal.

He wondered how much of his nature Will picked up on, if he would make the jump to cannibal when put against one of his crime scenes as quickly as he had with Hobbs. He knew a mind like Will's wouldn't jump to anything beyond that, certainly not to Wendigo, but it was a dangerous thrill to poke at such a mind. To stroke sharp-tipped fingers across those synapses…

Hannibal wanted to do more than that. If he could be given free reign to dear Will, he would spend some time teaching him how to fully appreciate caring for his body, would scrub any trace of the outside world from his skin, gently comb through those perpetually mussed curls, dress him in fine fabric…

He would see in time if Will proved to be more than a passing interest and until then Hannibal would simply enjoy his reactions.

Hannibal made it a policy not to introduce anyone into the possibility of Becoming, made sure that there is enough time between meals that those he interacts with won't slip onto a path he didn't want them on, but if Will allowed himself to sink into the potential killer he had on a simmer just below his skin…

Well.

He had been beautiful, covered as he was in Garrett Jacob Hobbs' blood, his hands wet and shaking at Abigail Hobbs' throat…

There were few individuals Hannibal wished were the same sort of monster he was, and fewer still he wished were Other, and Hannibal is certain that Will Graham would take to either beautifully.

Regardless of whether he took to the sword or sling aspect of their rather small community, he would be lovely.

When he learns that Abigail Hobbs has woken, he can't decide which he would prefer; to be the first to inform dear Will, or first to speak to Abigail.

He gets to do neither, which is just as well.

Alana Bloom facing off against Jack Crawford is a fascination. Two very different people in some aspects, very similar in others, both people in the exclusive group of Will's extremely limited social circle. Hannibal has a paper being written in the back of his mind simply from this exchange, this fight over Abigail Hobbs and (to a lesser extent) Will Graham, and waits for his moment to speak.

When it comes, he plays his part as needed. He is the concerned attempt at a neutral party, leaning more towards Abigail's innocence. Alana is the true neutral, willing to entertain the possibility of Abigail's guilt, but equally interested in her innocence.

Jack is firmly, and correctly, of the opinion that Abigail had assisted her father in the murder of all those girls, and if it weren't against his interests to do so Hannibal would be assisting him. The friendly regard he was nurturing would benefit, but it would not be any lesser for Hannibal to play this particular ruse.

Until he can properly converse with the girl, it's better that he play the role he's set up, that serves the double purpose of connecting him more firmly to Will Graham's mind and puts him closer to Abigail.

That she is manipulative is not a surprise—how else would she live this long when her father wanted to kill her? How else could she lure away so many girls?

Jack's interest in having Will talk to her is within Hannibal's interests, but foolish otherwise. Dear Will killed her father, and helped save her life; that level of emotional attachment would cloud anyone's eyes, let alone someone as empathetic as Will.

As head of the Bureau, Jack is astonishingly blind.

.

"There was a ninth victim who also filled Abigail Hobbs' profile, but Garrett Jacob Hobbs didn't murder her. The killer who did wanted us to know he wasn't the Minnesota Shrike; he was better than that."

It was delicious… as if dear Will were listening to the whispers of Hannibal's mind, like an invisible specter of Hannibal's being spoke directly into his ear.

It was heady, to be understood this way.

"He is an intelligent psychopath; he is a sadist—he will never kill like this again. So how do we catch him." It isn't a question, and Hannibal doesn't wonder if Will allows any conversation in his classes. I don't find you that interesting, Will had once said, and yet here he unknowingly was.

"Giving a lecture on Hobbs' copycat?" he asks, because he wouldn't have seen this scene before.

"Well, we need every good mind we can get on this."

You will need more than that, Uncle Jack.

"This copycat is an avid reader of Freddie Lounds and tattlecrime dot com. He had intimate knowledge of Garrett Jacob Hobbs' murders, motives, patterns, enough to recreate them and arguably—elevate them to art."

Will says this, obviously uncomfortable voicing the socially incorrect thought, uncomfortable with his delicious brand of honesty, and internally Hannibal basks in the words. He, as the Chesapeake Ripper, has many fans, but none have praised him so matter-of-fact. None before have been able to look beyond the show and see more, and Will's words send a thrill straight through him. His frank words were better than any other sort of flattery.

He continues to address the darkened mass of the room, eyes flickering about behind his glasses. The appearance of looking for his students' faces in the dark, rather than the fluttering looks of a man desperately dodging it.

"How intimately did he know Garrett Jacob Hobbs. Did he appreciate him from afar, or did he engage him, did he ingratiate himself into Hobbs' life. Did Hobbs know his copycat as he was known?" Finally, he poses it as a question, rather than a statement for consideration. "Before Garrett Jacob Hobbs murdered his wife and attempted to do the same with his daughter he received an untraceable call—I believe the as of yet unidentified caller was our copycat killer."

His dear Will is so close, his beautiful mind drawing him ever near, and all Hannibal wants to do is lean close and taste.

.

The Port Haven Psychiatric Facility is charming and sterile, and one of the nurses is tending a bite wound down the hall. Hannibal assumes the biter has been moved.

As interesting it is to see Will steel himself against the intruder in Abigail's room, interesting how his attention is immediately caught as obviously unfamiliar protective instincts rise up in the man, he cannot say meeting Freddie Lounds is a pleasant experience.

Her manipulation is obvious and crude and has obviously worked for her in the past—he is curious to see if it will work on Abigail, especially if Alana's words are true. He looks past where Lounds is baiting dear Will with some difficulty to see that Abigail is staring at Will—

Though, instead of the uncertainty that one would expect after Lounds' words, she seems interested; and, by the slight frown wrinkling her forehead, confused at her own fascination.

Hmm.

He soothes the ire Freddie Lounds incites by imagining the rude woman encountering the biter on her way out; imagines finding her himself, later.

He'd marinate her thighs in red wine vinegar, he thinks.

Or perhaps the oysters from her back…

Hmm.

He will have to have Will over for dinner, and soon.

He interjects.

"I really must insist you leave the room."

Freddie Lounds pricks at his patience, but leaves—he is interested in how quickly Will plucks the card from her fingers. Less, in this instance, the intent behind it, he is more focused on the actual speed.

It is easy to forget, with Will's tired eyes and full body disinterest in conflict, that he hasn't even reached forty, yet.

He wishes, to some degree, that he could witness Will and Abigail's interaction as a fly on the wall, unnoticed.

Being there, at his back, meant that Hannibal could further reinforce himself as someone on Will's side…

But gone, unnoticed, he could fully appreciate the barely restrained protective instincts flaring strong and awkward in his dear Will, the way his body language fairly screamed at how hard he was trying.

The glasses so often a wall against eye contact came off, and he seemed to try so hard to keep his eyes off the floor. He doesn't shuffle his feet or hunch his shoulders, doesn't try to move unobtrusively to the back of the room…

Hannibal suggests a walk.

Movement will give him a better chance of observing their interactions—it will also give him ample opportunity to discreetly check Abigail's scent for any trace of that oh so familiar musk.

After eight months…

If one ate enough human meat, one could become a Wendigo. The younger you started, the better, as you would likely Become in your prime, and once you had made the transition the aging process slowed considerably.

Cocky young bucks flaunted their age to fellow Wendigo, but you could tell the truly ageless ones by their silence on the topic. They, the more experienced ones.

The ones you avoided in territory conflicts.

Abigail was a prospect, a promising one based on her reactions alone—but then, Will's reactions, the information revealed…

He told Jack that Will had 'pure empathy', which, while one aspect of the Other, was not the whole. But if Will had the other aspects, and then Became…

Hannibal had never entertained the thought of what would happen when a person who already had the characteristics of an Other was cultivated into Becoming, but Will Graham—

A thought for another time.

He breathes deeply, evenly, as they move to the greenhouse, and there—the faint earth-tone, coppery and smooth under the smell of antiseptic and soap.

He takes another deep breath to be sure, while Will reassures her that there's nothing wrong with her, that there was nothing wrong with loving her father—and there wasn't, Hannibal could agree with that—when he catches another scent.

Earthy, smooth copper, but older, richer… and mixed with cologne that most likely came from a bottle with a ship on it.

His eyes cut to Will.

It's deeper, richer than Abigail's scent, but faint; he knows he hasn't been feeding Will enough to start the transition, and yet… And yet.

His mind catches once again on the conversation.

"So killing… even if you're forced to do it… it really feels that bad?"

"It's…" Will hesitates just as he'd done in Hannibal's office, caught between what he experienced and the socially acceptable answer, and finally says, "It's the ugliest thing in the world."

The subtle shake in his voice told Hannibal the lie, and the way Abigail's wide eyes cut first to Will and then to Hannibal…

Hannibal is sure that Abigail can see the mistruth as well as he could, but the words seem to hit her all the same; he wonders if she remembers helping to kill all those girls, or if she has blocked it from her memory. He is sure it will be interesting either way.

He breathes deeply again, and decides to look more into dear Will's personal life soon.

.

"Miss Lounds, it's not very smart to piss of a guy who thinks about killing people for a living…" Jack quoted, looking up from his computer. "Know what else isn't very smart? You were there with him, and you let those words come out of his mouth."

He blinked at Jack, his only outward reaction to the words. The words still send a delightful heat through his chest, amusement and interest and a slight hunger at the promise in the words…

"I trust Will to speak for himself." He says the words because a response is expected—he says those words to cement his place at Will's side, to remind Will that Hannibal hasn't tried to control him… so far as he's aware. Jack has already gotten across with his choice of words he considers Hannibal more in charge of Will than Will himself.

"Evidently you shouldn't."

"I'm just happy the story wasn't about Abigail Hobbs."

Alana's words distract attention away from the slight smile Hannibal gives at how thoughtlessly Uncle Jack had shifted responsibility, had shifted control of dear Will to Hannibal. It would be amusing by itself, but the words said by Jack in front of Will meant that Hannibal's words would forever have slightly more weight to them.

It was likely not what he was intending—it's more than likely not at all what Uncle Jack will want in the future.

Hannibal appreciates the unexpected gift.

He makes note to invite Jack to dinner sometime soon.

.

The graffiti on Abigail's house is… distasteful.

The house hasn't been burned down, however, so it isn't as bad as it could be.

(Sometimes he mourns for the so-called progress of the human race; other times, he is glad for their progression past the more barbaric options that were once the norm.)

The stains left behind by her mother still leave off scent—this time, Hannibal watches Will closely, sees the way his eyelids flutter, how his nostrils flare.

He cannot be sure if it is a reaction to memory, the sight, or the scent.

It is still one more puzzle piece to fit into the greater picture of Will Graham.

As he'd noticed before, the house stunk of the musk of Another, buck heads mounted on the walls in a distortion of the Ways Of Old…

He'd never much appreciated the decorations made from human remains; few took the time to properly bleach the bones or tan the hide, and oftentimes whole limbs were wasted to rot just past the threshold.

He saw what must have been the mothers taste in the paintings on the walls, dried flower stalks hung on walls as accent pieces and lending a slight floral scent to the room.

He would never choose laminate flooring himself, but he could appreciate how difficult it was to stain—unlike the brown stain on the front walk, only memory and a keen sense of smell showed where Abigail had nearly bled out.

There were faint red-brown marks on the lower cabinet doors to show where Garrett Jacob Hobbs' had leaned, dying.

He appreciates the subtle manipulation in Abigail's words and questions to Will, finds it easy to watch the way she picked at the edges of the metaphorical protective blanket he'd thrown over her, fraying the material even as she tangled it around her further. Her fingers tugged, gripped at the tangle of feelings.

"The attacks on you and your mother were different; they were desperate. Your dad knew he was out of time, someone told him we were coming."

"The man on the phone?" He hadn't exactly hoped she would be too jarred to remember, however… He looks at her, interested in what she will allow to develop.

"It was a blocked call. Did you recognize his voice?"

Her eyes do not waver.

"I never heard it before."

He suspects that, should she continue to develop, she would be more like him than Other. He wonders at why she would lie for him—what she is hoping to gain from it. Her eyes flick for a half second to him; he tilts his head minutely, considering.

"Can you catch somebody's crazy?"

They'd moved to the living room, sorting through boxes marked as 'Evidence', following Abigail's movements and allowing her to set the pace.

"Folie à deux," Alana replies.

"What?"

"It's a French psychiatric term… Madness shared by two."

He sees Will glance up, looking faintly troubled; Hannibal doesn't smile, instead moving to stack another box to the side.

"One cannot be delusional if the belief in question is accepted as ordinary by others in that persons culture or subculture," he says, knowing he has Will's full attention. Knowing that no one else knows of his second meaning. He looks to Abigail. "For family." All Wendigoes are family of a sort—those who survive Becoming find their way into the community at some point or another, and though they are not necessarily the most social of groups Hannibal can admit to finding some satisfaction in knowing that he is not alone in this, at least.

At the talk of gathering evidence, Abigail clings to the topic, of acting out the scene.

"You be my dad," she says to Will, "you be my mom," to Alana, "and you be the man on the phone," she finishes, the look on her face not quite a challenge so much as a confirmation. He does not enjoy being toyed with, but he can appreciate the message; she is deliberately not identifying him.

He splits his time between watching Will and watching Abigail, is interested in this cabin she gives them directions to—is only mildly interested in her friend, Marissa.

It passes soon enough; young enough to be coddled, old enough to feel coddled, unprepared for the world but ready to rebel against the rules set for her—visiting Abigail is the ultimate thrill for her right now, with the whole world wondering if she'd helped her father. Visiting the daughter of the crazy cannibal was risqué enough even without bringing up the possibility that Abigail might have helped him.

He's sure there's some small remnant of friendship between them, doesn't think it will last.

She and Abigail walk in the back yard and, with Will and Abigail focused on watching them through the window, Hannibal takes the chance to observe Will.

He'd run his fingers through his hair at some point, ruffling it, and one hand was fiddling with his coat pocket—by the size and shape, Hannibal assumes a small container of aspirin.

"It's good that she could meet her friend, here," Alana says, "she'll need support to get through this, beyond what we can offer."

Will laughs, a short low sound. "Maybe she needs a dog."

Alana turns away from the window to raise an amused eyebrow at Will. "Will…"

He tilts his head her direction, but doesn't move his eyes from the back yard. "I think someone once said, dogs keep a promise people can't?"

It is rather obvious that he's quoting Alana, from some previous conversation. Over Will's shoulder, Hannibal catches Alana's eye, curious.

She gives him a small smile.

"Will, I don't think she could handle as many dogs as you have… though I don't think it would do any harm if she got the chance to meet them, at some point." To Hannibal she says, "Will's dogs are very well trained. Which is impressive since he has… six…?" she confirms with Will.

"Seven, actually."

Hannibal's thoughts are set in motion at this unexpected, slight confirmation.

But then there's a boy shouting in the yard, confronting Abigail and he and Will are racing around to the back—Marissa Schurr's throwing arm is commendable, but her reaction to her rightfully concerned mother…

Extremely rude.

He notices the rock that struck the boy, and kicks leaves over it; he remembers it, and remembers Marissa's address.

.

It's not hard to leave the motel unnoticed, and the small emergency kit he keeps in a small hidden compartment in his suitcase is easily accessible and easily tucked into the rental car.

He almost smiles when he finds Marissa Schurr sneaking from her house—he watches as she checks the road, looks back at the lone light still on in her house, and crosses the street to the Hobbs residence.

When she crouches at the side door, slightly out of direct sight of the road, pulling something from her pocket he doesn't sigh, but he does park a small ways away. Pulls on his gloves, preps an injection of phenobarbital, and moves quiet and shadow-like through the small bit of forest accessible from the road, and approaches from behind.

Closer, he can see her fiddling with the lock, the faint clicking of the girl attempting to break in by picking the lock (likely worried about the noise braking the glass would make), and when she takes a moment to toss her hair over her shoulder, he moves forward and punctures her neck, pushing the plunger in one smooth motion.

She makes an aborted sound, surprise not enough to push past the silence she'd imposed upon herself, and stumbles.

Though phenobarbital wouldn't be enough to knock her out, it would still her movements, make her drowsy and clumsy—it's simple to pull her into a fireman's carry, her attempts at attacking him vague movements against his back. He stoops to pick up the rock with the boy's blood on it.

He appreciates the throwing arm Marissa Schurr has on her.

At his car he sets her down on the plastic sheeting he'd set out along his back seat, ignores her heavy-eyed panic while he binds her hands and feet together with zip ties.

Her breaths are only mildly labored as he closes the door, moving around to the driver's side and starting the car.

He turns on the heating to lull the girl to sleep, and only feels mildly annoyed that he cannot place her in the trunk—A few of Abigail's and Alana's things had been placed there, and he hadn't wanted to risk moving them.

The trunk would be easier to clean should she vomit; though, this late at night, that should not be a problem. He suspects her mother has a dinner schedule.

It doesn't take long to get to the cabin, and he leaves the girl in his trunk for the moment; he had his suspicions, but he'd like to see what he'd have to work with.

The floors were scuffed and had a few stains, but were clean; dust hadn't had the chance to settle in any obvious way, yet.

Up the stairs, a small section of caution tape stuck to the door leading to the antler room…

Yes.

It would not be to the artistry of his usual standards but… yes.

Pictures hadn't done it justice.

He doesn't go far into the room, simply looks over the placement of the antlers to decide in his minds eye how best to stage this for his dear Will… and Abigail. He had no doubt that Uncle Jack would want her here. The plans that had seeded in his mind merely from pictures grew and took root until he knew exactly what he wanted.

It would be regrettable that he could not take anything from her, not when he wouldn't have a chance to have anything properly refrigerated for when he got home; he would have braised her tongue in red wine, or perhaps he'd have it with capers and a thick tomato sauce…

He thinks of Will's appreciation for his cooking, of the underlying scent he'd yet to explore, of the pack of dogs he apparently kept on call at his home…

He wants to be there when dear Will reads this scene.

Marissa Schurr is asleep when he carefully lifts her and carries her into the cabin, starts to rouse as he strips her in the antler room, but only manages to keep her eyelids open once he has her down to a thin t-shirt with some graphic printed over the chest and her undergarments.

"N… no, nono…"

He pushes her hands away easily, her grip weak and ineffectual, and lifts her top off; uses it to wipe away at where tears had smudged what remained of the days mascara down her cheeks.

Her soft whines and murmurs are sweet, for all that they're quieter than he's used to—He's sure that this room has never witnessed any sounds of pain before now, sure that the girls killed by Garrett Jacob Hobbs had died well before they could be part of any truly interesting works…

Hannibal smiles, thinking that the sweetest part of this would truly be in Will's experience.

She is so much dead weight to him now as she tries to struggle in his hold, as he lifts her—her wiggling about would no doubt ruin the image he was hoping to paint for Will so he takes a moment to crouch and hit her head once, hard, against the flooring. Not enough to kill, not enough to bleed, but she would be stunned a while longer, the drug in her system helping keep her movements sluggish. Even as her mind cleared.

She was a healthy weight as he hefted her up, her head hung limply forward while he chose the best angle from which to push…he did not want bruising to distract from the overall aesthetic, not when the room had been set up with an attempt at symmetry in mind. He eyed a certain set; the pointed tips already stained a dull brown where others had hung previously.

She was blinking at him; dull terror glazing her eyes when he firmed his grip around her ribs and pushed

She did cry out then, jerking where she was impaled by the antlers, and he pushed again, harder, until he was sure she would stay. Until her own weight hooked her firmly in place. Antlers were sharp, but nowhere near as sharp as his knives, but Hannibal was strong. He would not even leave bruises from the force, keeping his hands splayed and pressure careful.

She gasped, a weak gurgle of pain as Hannibal stepped back.

She clutched at her stomach where the antlers distended the skin in unnatural peaks, and thrashed forward into the points of another set of antlers, crying out again as blood spilled down her chest.

It dripped down her chest in two streams, soaking part of her underwear before continuing down her thighs, dripping into a steadily growing puddle of her own lifeblood.

Hannibal stands back to watch, her struggled weakening, hands grasping at the antlers around her as if to lift herself from them; she would not.

Her weight was pushing her further down.

When her movements slowed to a faint trembling, Hannibal used her discarded shirt to wipe the flecks of blood from her hands, lifted her arms to drape horizontally across the curves of more antlers. Skin chilled to the touch and twitching ever so slightly, she gives no resistance to the manipulation.

Her pleas, an unoriginal litany of faint 'no, no, no's, had quieted to shallow, wet sobs.

Her eyes are unfocused when they find his, and her mouth moves to form a different word.

Why?

He does not answer.

Instead he looks down at where the antlers had pushed through her body further from her struggle. His eyes crinkle in faint approval to see that she hadn't smudged blood around the exit wounds; he wouldn't have to use her shirt

He waits until even her trembling stops, breathing in the perfume of her blood, the stink of her terror, and feels his mouth water. He would have to wait until he got back to Baltimore to sate his body's needs.

He scrapes the bloodied rock on her teeth, careful not to grind at it and leave mineral fragments, lets her head hang forward. Considers her for a moment before pulling a larger section of her hair over her left shoulder to provide better symmetry.

There.

Carefully, he checks his watch (knows that the small dose he'd given her would be out of her system by now) and leaves the cabin to make the drive back to the motel; he could still get a few hours sleep in before they were set to head out. He pulled the caution tape back across the door, wraps Marissa Schurr's clothing in the plastic he'd used to protect his seats, and tucks it into a garbage bag next to his emergency kit.

He drives.

.

Will's hair is damp from a morning shower, and even through the cheap travel shampoo Hannibal can catch a faint hint of sweat… night terrors, he thinks. He'd forgone his regular cologne.

Somehow dear Will looks as though he'd gotten less sleep than Hannibal…

At the cabin, Hannibal watches as Abigail frowns at the interior, watches with slightly more interest as Will's nostrils flare, his head turning minutely as if looking for something… tracking the scent.

Blood hangs heavy in the air for those with the senses to detect it. That Abigail automatically moves directly under where Marissa Schurr is staged, just under where the scent was emanating strongest… blood drips from the ceiling to her forehead, baptizing her.

Will goes upstairs.

Hannibal listens to his footsteps and wants to follow, wants to see, wants to pick at his brain now

Settles with the thought that there would be time, later.

.

"Cassie Boyle had a brother, Nicholas," Will tells him, eyes flicking between him and the body, back again. Hannibal suspects they are standing closer to the body than is strictly necessary, but he stands next to Will with the knowledge that it was Will who put them there. "… But Garrett Jacob Hobbs didn't kill Cassie Boyle."

"I know," he can't help but say. Speaking with Will on the crimes he himself had committed… Will looks at him. "Garrett Jacob Hobbs would have honored every part of her," he finishes, making sure not to react to the way Will stares. It is somewhat astounding how many chances Hannibal gets to establish and reestablish himself as the person who understands his dear Will…

Already shaken, Uncle Jack's attack on his previous profile—on his mostly correct profile, Hannibal could confirm—only reinforces Hannibal's steady presence.

"He wouldn't kill this way again, that's what you said."

That he immediately moves on from attacking Will to using leading questions geared towards Abigail…

"Agent Crawford," he says, reproach faint but present in his voice. He doesn't think Will notices how he leans minutely backwards, toward Hannibal and away from Jack. He doesn't think Jack is in the right frame of mind to notice and understand what it means, either. Not when he's so firmly sure of Hannibal being on his side.

The thrill he gets from Will's words, how he sees what Jack and the rest of the BAU seem blind to…

He breathes in deeply, cherishes how Will's scent melds with his kill site.

.

"Why'd you come back here, why'd you come back?" Sobs Marissa's mother, her tears wetting Hannibal's sleeve. He holds her back, looking towards where the police are keeping the press away and searches for red curls—A reporter like Freddie Lounds would not miss an opportunity like this.

Though, a reporter like Freddie Lounds also wouldn't wait behind a police barricade…

Alana leads the distraught woman away, into the arms of a policaman, and then she joins Hannibal in walking Abigail to the door…

"Abigail."

"Ms. Lounds. You are on the wrong side of the police line." He is sure she notes his lack of surprise, but he is nott her target.

"I've been covering the Minnesota Shrike long before you got involved," she tells Abigail, moving with the officer who'd appeared to lead her away. "I want to help you tell your story. You need me now more than ever."

She does not shout, or struggle against the officer's hold, and Hannibal walks with them all the same. He listens to what she says, and suspects the other set of eyes 'peeking through doors' belong to someone who will make the night rather more interesting.

He stops the Officer, and Lounds turns to face him.

"Did you see a young man. Mid twenties. Ginger hair, unwashed?"

"I'll tell you if you tell me why it's important."

Hannibal feels his lips twitch into a small smile.

It was to Lounds' benefit that she was more than a rude reporter.

.

He smells fresh spilt blood first thing wen he walks back into the house—sees Abigail walking, gasping as Will had, hands covered in blood. If it weren't for the rasping, panicked edge to it, he might have said that she, like Will, seemed to be tasting the blood in the air…

"Abigail?" Alana calls out, sounding only as concerned as she ever had before. Hannibal moves quickly.

"Abigail?"

It's a quick movement to approach from behind and shove, one hand firmly pressed to the side of her head to smash it into the wall just hard enough to knock her out. He is quick to lay her on the floor, careful to keep her from further damage.

She would have quite the headache once she woke, he didn't see the need in further harm.

He hears Abigail's gasping breath lose its rasping edge when she sees Hannibal, Alana…

"She'll be alright." Once he's sure Alana wouldn't shift and roll against her head wound, he straightens and turns.

"Abigail," he says, firm. "Show me what happened."

She is still shaking, but obeys. She keeps her hands held out in front of her, palms up as if in some sort of prayer. Perhaps in an attempt to carry the weight of blood on her hands.

Regardless, it keeps the blood from staining her clothes.

The room fairly reeks of fresh blood, but not, he notes approvingly, of the sour rot of punctures organs.

"He was going to kill me," she says. She is in shock, he knows, and is impressed that her mind has already brought up a proper defense.

"Was he?"

She doesn't say anything in return, but crouches with him as he surveys her kill.

Neat, if clearly unplanned—the carpet could not be cleaned quickly as the flooring would, but the wound was a clean upward strike. A credit to her fathers teachings, he assumed.

In his peripherals he sees Abigail's bag, cut leather ties and a spill of dark hair—he revises his opinion of her father. As garish as he found the quantity of mounted heads, he did indeed know how to properly bleach bones and treat hide. Hannibal hadn't even noticed the human skin and hair mixed with the deer pelt. He doesn't say this.

"This wasn't self defense," he says instead, though he was sure with the right wording it could be construed as such. "You butchered him."

"I didn't…"

"They will see what you did. And they will see you as an accessory to the crimes of your father." He says this plainly, matter of fact, because they would. Abigail would get away with it, he was sure, even with Uncle Jack breathing down her neck… but her hide was thick enough, he thought. But, as she started to shake her head, as her eyes narrowed where they were still focused on Nicholas Boyle's body, Hannibal decided she needed sharper teeth, quicker reflexes to be able to properly survive this. Hannibal could help her with that.

"I wasn't." Hannibal is unsure as to how much she believes that, how strongly in denial she could be.

He waits the appropriate amount of time for a proper show of reluctance, as if he was battling the very human morals that stood against such a thing…

"I could help you. If you ask me to." She started to frown, eyes still riveted to her kill. "At great risk to my career and my life," he adds to be sure she knew she would be in his debt, that he would be making a sacrifice for her, and her eyes finally moved from the body. Hannibal kept his face in an expression of open neutrality. "You have a choice. We can tell them you were defending yourself, when you gutted this man… or we can hide the body."

The manipulation was clear to him and, he suspects that if she were not in shock it would be clear to Abigail as well… Slowly, ever so slowly, she turned back to her kill, breath still coming in short pants, but this time… this time Hannibal is not mistaken, watching as she licked her lips and tasted the blood in the air.

They would have to move quickly.

.

It is not difficult to clean up enough of the blood on the linoleum to make the blood spot smaller, the result of a less fatal wound. He has Abigail squeeze at the boys body to have blood well over the clean lines where blood had been wiped away—with instruction and a guiding hand, her shaking had subsided and she'd moved, if not confidently, then quickly.

That she did not balk when he'd told her to squeeze for more blood from her kill said much for her.

When Hannibal had asked after hiding spots for the body; cellar storage, a freezer, an unused, not easily-accessible part of the house… She showed him the Freezer within the cold locker in their basement that they used for storing the smaller cuts of meat, long emptied by the FBI.

It did not take much from Hannibal to gear Abigail back up into a panic, to have her hold onto the hunting knife she'd used on Boyle, to clear their story once more, before he headed back up the stairs. Slightly further from where Alana lay, Hannibal sat with his back to the rungs of the bannister. He shifted until his head was just at the right height with the railing before taking a deep breath, leaning forward, then slammed his head back.

Pain lanced through his skull, the force enough to render any normal man unconscious. Hannibal blinked past that, and waited until he could feel a slight egg-shaped lump forming. Listened as Abigail's panic brought a concerned officer to the door, and then got up and stumbled his way to Alana.

He checked her head, though he knew she would be fine, and sure enough the sound of footsteps could be heard at the bottom of the steps.

"Sir? Is everything alright?"

Hannibal made a show of squinting slightly, either against the light just behind the officers or at the volume of the man's voice he let them decide.

"I am alright, but I think you ought to call an ambulance. I was attacked, and my colleague is unconscious."

.

"Hello Abigail."

"How did you know it was me?"

Hannibal is tempted, for a moment, to tell her he could hear her before she'd reached the deliberately squeaky floorboard by the doors. To tell her that her scent had reached him before that.

He doesn't say any of that, of course. She will learn, in time.

"The Hospital called. You climbed over the wall."

She would also learn how to properly cover her tracks.

"Where else were you to go? Your house is no longer an option…" He looked up at where she is, and wonders if she can still smell Will from when he'd perused Hannibal's bookshelves. "Come down from there."

It takes her a moment to react, but when she does she does her best to keep Hannibal within her sights.

"Will likes it up there? In here, I mean?"

Hannibal smiles and puts a hand to her back, supporting her as she steps off the ladder. "I like to think so. But I suspect there is something else you'd like to talk about."

"I don't want to go to sleep." Her hand goes up, almost making it to where a scarf is wrapped about her neck. It doesn't make it, though Abigail does not seem to notice her own movement.

"You can't anticipate your dreams. Can't block them, can't repress.

"I didn't honor any part of him so it's just—murder, isn't it?

"Most would argue self defense."

"…Then why not tell the truth?"

"Most would argue. There would still be those who would say you were taking after your father." His words do not say, one way or the other, what Hannibal's opinion is on the matter.

"…You're glad I killed him." It is still a question, her eyes searching.

"What would be the alternative?" Hannibal answers. It is not the answer to what she is truly asking, and they both know that, but it is the correct answer none the less. "That he kill you?"

"I couldn't have known if he was going to."

"No, you don't." And she didn't. The move to attack was… instinctual.

"You're the one who called the house… you talked to my dad before… what did you say to him?" There is agony in the question, but also curiosity.

"A simple conversation, ascertaining if he was home for an interview." Of what sort, he does not say.

She turns, another unconscious gesture that says far too much.

"… Then why not tell the truth?"

"I think you called the house as a serial killer." Her expression twists for a moment before smoothing out into a pleading expression. Please, it says, I only want to know… Hannibal would be impressed if he had not heard the same theory form Will. Though, he freely admits that having it directed at him specifically is…

"…Just like my dad."

He sees the manipulation there in her words; the plead, the comparison, waoting for some sort of reaction…

Yes, he decides. Abigail was far more like Hannibal than like the Other.

Her instinct to attack while also working on her own protection was admirable in one so young, but also brought sharp contrast to dear Will's inclination to follow… to track.

Where Abigail brought her nose up, scenting for blood on the wind, Will kept his nose to the ground, waiting for blood to fall.

Unless he could convince Will to stay for dinner, he would have to make up some leftovers for him to take home, and soon.

Perhaps he would make up something for Abigail, too.

"I am nothing like your dad." Hannibal would never make so many mistakes, would never leave such an obvious trail for the FBI. "I made a mistake… something easily misconstrued." He changes tone, making his voice slightly lighter. "Not unlike yourself."

"I'll keep your secret."

"And I'll keep yours."

Her mouth firms, an imitation of confidence while her eyes search. She's unsure if his secret and hers are truly equal… It was true, Hannibal helped her get away with murder, had called her dad that day… there was still a body of evidence that she'd killed Nicholas Boyle whereas the evidence against Hannibal was on her say-so.

Saying that he had been the one to call might bring Will to mistrust Hannibal… but she could not know how much Will already trusted Hannibal, or if it would be enough. She did not know either of them enough to be able to tell.

On top of that, the longer she took to identify Hannibal as the man on the phone, the more questionable her statement would be.

She could not guarantee that Will's interest in her would outweigh his interest in Hannibal.

"No more climbing walls, Abigail."

Hannibal turns to head back to his desk, leaving her a moment to decide quite what he means by that. He starts putting his pencils away, and smiles.

"Now, let's get you something to eat. I'm sure the hospital is looking after you but… well." He turns slightly. "Let's see if we can't get you something better."

.

.

To be clear, I wasn't intending on this chapter taking so long. Also I know very little about medicines and drugs, so the stuff Hanni uses in his 'emergency kit'… Yeah, Idek. I probably got that wrong. I felt very suspect looking up what sort of drugs could be used to knock people out. Yet another chapter of "I'm Not A Serial Killer/Terrorist/Other, I'm Writing A Story!"

I also, as I said before, I don't think I've written Hannibal very well… meh.

More into Wendigo stuff next chapter. Glad I finished this before work…

Thanks you all so much for the support!

~Doodled93~