Contains solid Season 2 spoilers!
Rated T because of some moderate slash scenes, non-descriptive mentions of hetero-sex, mild language, explicit imagery of alcohol consumption, mild imagery of prescription drug abuse, and mild mentions of canon-typical violence. If you need more specific warnings, feel free to ask me in a private message to send those to you personally before you read the story.
Thanks so much to Silverfeathered_Angel for the wonderful betawork.
Chapter 1: Plans
Jack Crawford really meant to talk about his idea to Will. While he was crossing the path leading to the entrance of the lonely house, he was still lost deep in his thoughts to figure out how to present his plan in the least awkward way. When he finally deemed the potential part of the dialogue ready, he rang the doorbell with a firm push.
Jack made an absent-minded motion to adjust the collar of his coat. Five months had passed, but the scars were still distantly aching. Was it going to be like this for the rest of his life? Or did he just need some more patience before it all went away?
When he didn't hear the approaching steps of Graham, he pushed the button of the doorbell again. Then again.
Still no answer.
He chose to try whether the front door was locked, and it opened on the first attempt.
As Jack stepped in, he caught site of Will in the living room, lying on the creaking, old sofa, which had a dim, worn shade of brownish green, sleeping with half of his limbs uncomfortably hanging from the piece of furniture. Crawford entered the place, and Graham opened his bloodshot eyes, lightly lifting his head up from the edge. "J-Jack?"
"Are you alright?" Jack risked the question.
A muffled, numb groan. "Er, I'm... yes, I am, I'm just... I'm still on heavy medication... because... because of the wound, you know," Will bumbled, then let his head fall back on the armrest of the sofa.
Crawford had a look at the empty bottle of Scotch standing on the coffee table. The distinctive smell of alcohol drifting from the direction of the cheap, stained jacket covering the younger man's shoulders was quite suggestive, too.
"Did you drink all of that alone?" Jack's voice turned from astonished to concerned. "Will, this is utterly dangerous, particularly together with medicines."
"I'm okay." Will closed his eyes wearily, while mumbling, "I'm just... I'm just tired and I need some sleep. Can you come back later, at another time?"
Yes, Jack really meant to talk about his idea. But as he stood there, looking at Graham's broken, crumpled figure, he couldn't stop thinking that the poor man was literally a wreck, both mentally and physically, and upsetting him with plans and ideas would be sheer cruelty. He was not even sure that Will was in the condition to be capable of understanding more than two or three coherent sentences.
Therefore, Crawford went into Will's bedroom instead, searched for a bluish blanket which wasn't completely covered with dog hair, and returned to put it around Graham's shoulders. Will slightly flinched at the touch on his arm, but he didn't open his eyes.
Jack saw that there was no use staying there. Will was supposedly not under life-threatening conditions, and he couldn't help. He felt some remorse for not visiting earlier, and he promised to himself that he was going to come around tomorrow to check on Graham.
As he left, ponderingly tapping his restored FBI badge under his long, black coat on his way to his car, the vague thought crossed his mind that, perhaps, he had never really wanted to ask for Will's permission in the first place, knowing that the answer to his idea would be undoubtedly, "No". And now he just grabbed the first suitable excuse, namely, Graham's miserable condition...
Jack quickly tried to avert this idea, because he didn't particularly enjoy it. No. He wanted to do this the right way, but seeing the impossible state Will was in, he was left with no other choice. And that was it. There was no room for further questions.
Bedelia Du Maurier had imagined her stay in Europe to be much more thrilling than it turned out to be. She'd expected her escape together with Hannibal Lecter to be the adventure of her life; a real incalculable mystery. Now she had to admit that she had been awfully mistaken.
Her former colleague was unable to overstep the past, and concentrate on anything else but the dark disappointment he felt over Will's betrayal. And, since Bedelia was still the closest he had to a therapist, he shared all his thoughts about the topic with her.
Every second day, Hannibal was determined to convince himself that the way Will had figuratively stabbed him in the back was the end of all what he had together with the younger man... But the other days, he shared long monologues with Doctor Du Maurier about his plans to find a way to send signs to Will... To creep back inside his head... To make him unable to forget... To remind him... To stay with him from afar...
First, Bedelia tried to list him rational reasons why Hannibal should just leave Will's memory behind and completely turn his attention towards his future – which didn't include Will in any way. After seeing that these attempts had been in vain, she tried to simply switch the topic, but sooner or later, all conversations ended somehow with Will.
Lately, she didn't even bother any more. She had gotten used to Hannibal's changes of mind about Graham, and almost from the first blink every morning, she could already figure out if Doctor Lecter had one of his days of 'Giving up on Will' or the ones when he was over-occupied with creating endless, risky plans to catch Will's attention again and torment him from the distance.
Bedelia understood that this was not easy for Hannibal. For a psychopath with a badly repressed god-complex, nothing could be worse than becoming confronted by the fact that he couldn't possess the things he wanted the most. Also, the dark, burning wish of his hurt pride for vengeance tormented Lecter like poison. But for Doctor Du Maurier, this started to get less and less interesting.
And, ultimately, all of their dialogues uncontrollably spiraled into Hannibal's unavailing, constant pining after his only friend.
On a Wednesday morning, as Bedelia was sitting by the round, shiny-polished marble table of the hotel's restaurant, she started to definitely feel that this got too much for her.
Hannibal was sitting opposite her, in his tailor-made, reddish brown, three-piece suit with a matching patterned tie and cream-colored shirt. The doctor was slowly eating a salad. Bedelia had long finished her omelet, being the one who mutely listened, while Hannibal kept minutes-long pauses between each bite to discuss some details of a new idea that occurred to him throughout the night.
This was one of the days of 'Not letting Will forget about his betrayal until the end of time', so Bedelia had to keep listening to an extensive explanation on how Hannibal wanted to send a distant message to Graham in the form of a mutilated corpse – in a way only Will was capable of understanding. However, when it emerged from the train of thought that what Doctor Lecter had described during the complete breakfast was only the first step of a way more complex plan he had just started to introduce, Doctor Du Maurier couldn't help but interrupt.
"What is it that makes you this persistent?" she asked, hoping that she might be able to change the direction of the conversation before she would be forced to become familiar with the whole plan.
Hannibal was just about to pin a half shrimp from his salad on his fork, but now his hand froze in the middle of the motion. Bedelia expected the usual answer about avenging betrayal, but Doctor Lecter's face turned strangely pale and stiff instead, and then suddenly, he admitted, "I still want his friendship."
Doctor Du Maurier felt a brush of sadness run through her mind.
"Do you understand the impossibility of this wish?" she replied earnestly. "You can't control him. If you could, you wouldn't be interested in him. A submissive puppet is not what you need. You would get bored with him, you could not respect him for who he is and for what his mind hides. All the beauty you admire now would crumble in front of your eyes if you saw him lose his own personality and the things that make him strong and unique... But if he stays who he is, he'll always betray you. Don't you see this?"
Hannibal maintained eye contact, cold and without a stir, like a reptile. "I understand this, yes."
"So why don't you just let it go?"
"Because I'm unable to."
And the next moment, Doctor Lecter continued explaining his pointless plan again.
Jack was sitting in his FBI office, staring at the screen of his palmtop. He spent the last hours browsing online dating sites for adults living in all different corners of the world. He filtered those out in the first round which proved to be dubious or frivolous, and continued to re-check the ones that seemed to be reliable, respectful web pages to find partner for long-term relationships.
He was searching for the appropriate website to upload Will's profile.
He felt content, as he pondered over his plan while clicking from window to window. This is going to annoy that bastard to no end. Seeing that Will got over his tortures so soon... That Will searches for a peaceful life with a nice, decent woman, and tries to build normal relationships with normal human beings... That monster simply won't be able to ignore the fact that he is this easily losing the leverage he believed to have over his former friend. And if he contacts Will, I'll be here to decoy him into a trap and catch him.
Jack paused for a moment to let the idea fill his head with the forceful, burning wish to succeed, and then he returned to his determined search for the proper site.
Bedelia was alone in the lounge of the hotel, under a palm tree planted in a wooden pot behind her armchair. She held her iPad on her left knee, and solved an over-repeated crossword puzzle. It was still more interesting than listening to Hannibal's lengthy musing over Will Graham in the room they shared on the fourth floor.
She wished to get a job or some free time hobby, which could fill her days. But she agreed with Hannibal on not showing up at any public event or applying for any kind of position before the end of the year, in order to avoid attracting some unwanted attention. So all she could do was sit in her hotel room or in the corner of the lounge, and spend her time browsing online.
Most probably, this dull, lonely inactivity was the reason why she first clicked on the web page called International Love.