Hannibal was taken aback by the news. This was not part of the plan; it was never supposed to be in his plans. However, no one more than Hannibal knew how serendipitous life is. Like everything else in his life, Hannibal merely had to adapt.
The problem that stood before Hannibal is that in taking responsibility for this tiny boy his current lifestyle would have to change drastically, but if he refused custody, he would be corrupting the last vestiges of his humanity by neglecting his remaining family, the reason behind his transformation to begin with. The monster within Hannibal wanted to turn away and go back to an easy life of cannibalism and fine art.
As this inner battle unfolded at the speed of light in Hannibal's mind, Will was suffering similarly. Will had been so sure that this had been a goose chase, choosing to ignore Hannibal since hi initial observation of the man. Now that it was announced that this stranger was his biologic father, Will was struck with various emotions, some of which felt external to his own. His initial feeling of apathy to the situation melted away to make room for horror that his dad hadn't been his dad, relief that there was someone living who was related to him, and confusion about the state of his future. Unknown to Will, he started to pick up on the uncertainty occupying Hannibal.
It was the social worker who broke the awkward silence.
"Well, that's great news."
Turning to Hannibal, the worker asked, "Would you be interested in filling out this custody paperwork, Dr. Lecter?"
The question jarred Hannibal back into the present. Glancing down the child, Hannibal was met with blue eyes staring at him from behind dark chocolate curls. It was startling how similar this child looked to Misha; he looked to be around the same age as she had been before her untimely death. He could not abandon those eyes twice.
Turning away from the child, Hannibal directed his gaze to the eyes of the social worker.
"Yes. I would like to have custody of my child."
The room seemed to sigh in relief.
Will looked away from his soon-to-be parent in favor of playing with his shirt seam. He was unsure how to take the news. It was great that he was going to have a parent again, but at the same time, he missed his dad who he just found out wasn't technically related to him. As well, there was something off with this stranger's behavior and it seemed that no one else was noticing. After observing the man for the past few minutes, it was clear that the man hid his emotions behind many walls and possessed a predator nature. It scared Will.
After the social worker heard Hannibal's response, he reached into his briefcase and pulled out the paperwork, handing it seamlessly to Hannibal.
"Please fill this out and I can take it back with me today. Following that, the state will send out a person to review your home, and hopefully, we can have will in your care by the start of next month."
"Alright," said Hannibal as he filled out the forms. "Where will the young one be staying during this process?"
"William will be taken care of by a local foster family that has agreed to look over him until the custody is settled. We encourage you getting to know William during this transition period, so here is a card with the Foster family's phone number and address. Please note that your interactions cannot be private until your background check is done. The situation has already been explained to the Crawford family, so feel free to contact them as soon as you wish."
Finishing with the paperwork, Hannibal handed it back to the social worker.
Turning his attention back toward William, Hannibal crouched to his level, but the boy's eyes continued to evade his own. "I look forward to getting to know you better, William."
Will avoided the predatory gaze of Dr. Lecter. It felt to soon to address him as anything but that title. He did not know how to feel about getting to know this man better or spending more time with him at all.
All too soon, Hannibal stood up and away. The social worker took this as their cue to leave, grabbing William's hand and nodding his head to both doctors as they made their exit. Not long after, Hannibal left, heading back to prepare his dwelling for the upcoming guests and future occupant.
Following the Hospital trip, Will found himself being dropped off at a nice house. As the social worker rang the bell and knocked on the door, Will turned around observing his surroundings. There was a white picket fence, pristine columns, and a well-maintained landscape. From his previous experience, it was clear that his new foster family was well-off, but lacked a familial ambiance. There were no obvious signs of pets or children ever being present on the property. It seemed that this family either recently decided to get involved in fostering or only had interest in short-term care. Either way, it did not really matter with Will; in his short time in the system, he had already experienced worse environments than this. By the time Will turned his attention back onto the social worker, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford had answered the door.
"Hello. You must be Mr. and Mrs. Crawford, correct? I am Simon Daft from Child Protective Services. I'm here with William."
The man shared a look with his wife before speaking and swinging the door open wider. "Yes. We've been expecting you. Please come in."
Will was pulled in front of the social worker, walking into the cold house. The social worker briefly glanced around, not seeing any signs that would inhibit his leaving William with the couple.
"William, why don't you introduce yourself?"
Will knew it was more of an order than a suggestion, so he mumbled out "I'm Will. It's nice to meet you."
The woman stepped in front of her husband and bent down to Will's eye-level. "It's nice to meet you, too. I'm Bella and that's my husband Jack. We'll be taking care of you until things get settled with you relative, alright?"
Will nodded, and let his eyes drift from hers to his shoes.
"Well, now that that is settled, I'd like to get both of your signatures on the transfer paperwork. As you know, Will's relative has been given your contact information. Please attend all meetings between Will and Dr. Lecter until the background check has been cleared. We appreciate your help during this turbulent time."
Jack spoke up, "We understand. We're glad to offer Will a place to stay."
Will looked at his foster parents. They seemed nice. Sad, but nice. Jack seemed a bit stern in appearance and his wife had a soft edge but could clearly hold her own. Why they did not have children of their own, Will could not discern.
It did not take long for the paperwork to be signed and for the worker to leave. Will felt drained from the day's events and had a quiet dinner with the Crawfords followed by a quick bed time.
While Will spent his time getting accustomed to his temporary Residence, Hannibal was adjusting his for future occupancy. Before this fiasco began, Hannibal saw his house as a treasure trove, a place to bring raw materials and host feasts for high society. Now, Hannibal had to make it feel homey, hide his cannibalistic tools and hints. To help in this endeavor, Hannibal began his evening by contacting his personal interior designer, and his friend, Alana Bloom. The interior designer would come by next week with ideas for softening the environment and making the house more child friendly. Alana Bloom had provided an interesting conversation on child rearing and had offered to come with him during some of his visits with the child. For a short-while it felt like things were moving far too quickly; for once, the ground beneath Hannibal felt like quick sand sifting beneath his feet. It was time a hunt. It was better to stock up the food before the child arrived and hunting became harder, but where could he store the meat?
The following days saw Hannibal building plans, sifting through documents, calling around, and talking with many people. This resulted in Hannibal gaining ownership rights of some land in Wolf Trap, Virginia, having a home renovation, and learning how to better interact with his child. On the side, Hannibal began storing organs in freezers hidden all over the Virginia property. Meanwhile, the background check would take time, but a pair of home inspectors had come by and approved the house for child occupancy. It would seem that it was time to schedule a meeting with Will and the Crawfords.
Jack Crawford was feeling slightly depressed. Nothing was going right. First, a new serial killer showed up, being proclaimed the Chesapeake Ripper. Not only had the killer gotten away with six kills over the past ten months, he had appeared to have gone silent only to come back with a vengeance. Now there were six new victims being examined in the morgue, none of which followed the same timing as the last kills. What would make the killer change his pace? Jack had no idea!
Secondly, Bella had been acting strange for three months. If he had to describe what was happening, he would say that she was subtly distancing herself from him. He did not know whether she was seeing another person or what. To offset this distance, Jack had tried to spend more time at home, even recruiting a FBI trainee to give him more slack at work. However, whatever he tried it did not seem to work.
Finally, Jack had been contacted by the local CPS to provide short-term housing for a child in the middle of a custody trial, which he had forgotten he had signed up for. When explaining it to Bella, it had been quite awkward due to the previous night's argument on having their own child. Then when they had finally met the kid, the little guy appeared to be extremely quiet. A fragile little tea cup. Jack did not know how to interact with the little guy. As well, having the boy living with them was causing the couple to become sad at not having children of their own. Sadness seemed to sap into the very fabric of their home. And, Jack did not know what to do to make the kid open up more or to make his wife happy.
Jack was at a loss.
A ringing in his ear brought Jack back from his dazed state to his office where his phone sat at his desk, he looked at the caller ID but did not recognize the number. Answering it, "This is Jack Crawford. Who's this calling?"
"Hello, this is Dr. Hannibal Lecter. I am calling to schedule a meeting with my son, William."
Taken aback by the smooth foreign voice, Jack stumbled a bit to collect his thoughts.
"Yes. I was expecting your call eventually. Are you free this Saturday around 3 pm? We can meet at my place if you have the address."
"Yes, that suits my schedule fine. The social worker gave me your address, so I should be able to find it without problem. Thank you, I look forward to our meeting. Good evening."
Disconnecting from the call, Jack stared at it with a mix of confusion and slight daze. That man had sounded a bit different than expected. Maybe it would not hurt to look into Dr. Lecter before their meeting. After running a few preliminary searches using the FBI's resources, all that he found was a connection to the FBI instructor, Dr. Alana Bloom.
The next few days saw Jack Crawford talking with Dr. Bloom and reading up on Dr. Lecter's publications. It all lead up to the meeting with the esteemed doctor.
-Part 12 –
Hannibal rolled up to the Crawford house with amused eyes. After contacting Jack Crawford, Hannibal had been doing some research of his own. It would appear that his offspring is currently living with the primary agent set on catching him. This would be a great opportunity to get to know the hunter better. To see the process behind the curtain. Of course, Hannibal knew that Jack had been doing his own snooping, having talked with Alana bout her interactions with the man. If nothing else, Hannibal could invite the foster parents of his child over for dinner sometime. After all, it was only polite.
With a slight sickening grin, Hannibal left his car and strolled up to the quaint house. It was not quite up to his standards, but it was adequate. In no hurry, Hannibal rang the doorbell and waited patiently for a response. He was not left waiting long as the door swiftly opened to reveal the imposing figure of Jack Crawford and the miniature stature of William.
Smiling at the man, Jack greeted the doctor, "Welcome to my home. It is good to finally meet you Dr. Lecter."