CH 5: Fractured
Despite Hobbs' warning, Abigail had continued to see Steve in secret. During the past four months, it was like a dizzy merry-go-round of joy and pleasure in ways neither had ever experienced. Abigail's repression and Steve's neglect had made them both skeptical of affection, but there was no mistaking that theirs was genuine.
Hobbs' body count had continued to rise – eight now, the last time Abigail had checked – but Steve's love and support had somehow kept her afloat. If she kept her focus on him, it was almost as if she wasn't trapped in a never-ending cycle of lies and deceit.
"Ice cream at Dolly's?"
Abigail smiled, holding the garage phone as she twirled the cord around her finger. "I'll have to stay with my parents for a while longer, but why don't you stop by in maybe fifteen minutes? Park up by your usual spot, and I'll come out and meet you as soon as I can."
Steve grinned. "I really have turned you into a deviant, haven't I?"
"A regular badass, I think you mean," Abigail quipped. When he laughed, she promised, "I'll see you soon."
Hanging up, Abigail retained her chipper demeanor as she headed for the kitchen. Her parents were already hard at work fixing breakfast, and she flashed them both a smile as she reached for a stack of plates. That was when the kitchen phone rang.
Worried that it might be Steve, Abigail quickly rushed over and answered the call. "Hello?"
"Is Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbs available, please?"
Bemused, Abigail blinked as she tried to process the accented voice – it was unlike anything she had heard before, and she somehow doubted this was one of Hobbs' work friends. Nevertheless, she answered him, "Just a minute," and turned toward her father. "Dad, it's for you."
"Finish the eggs and sausage, puffin," Hobbs instructed. Now taking the phone from her hand, he lifted it to his ear and canted his head. "Hello?"
Abigail took hold of the spatula and poked at the eggs. Despite it being rude to eavesdrop, she couldn't help but feel ill at ease by the quiet, thick tension that had suddenly filled the room. "Dad?"
Slowly, Hobbs hung up the phone. "Wrong number," he mumbled.
"What? That seemed a little long for a wrong number," Louise said.
"I'll be right back," Hobbs announced. "Lou, honey, can you help me with something, please?"
Wiping her hands off on her jeans, she nodded and moved away from the toast she'd been buttering. As they headed out into the hall, Abigail turned off the stove and moved the skillet to a cool burner. That was when she heard the screams.
Racing out into the hallway, a sharp gasp caught in Abigail's throat when she saw her father, hacking away at her mother's jugular while she choked and gargled on her own blood. Abigail yearned to scream – to run – but found she couldn't move.
Hobbs lumbered past her, opened the door, and then shoved Louise's fading body out onto the front porch before locking her out. As Hobbs seized Abigail's wrist and dragged her back toward the kitchen, she briefly caught sight of a wide-eyed, bespectacled agent rushing toward the house. Again, Abigail wanted to scream, but somehow found herself unable.
With Hobbs' bloody hunting knife perched beneath her chin, Abigail tensed and whimpered when he restrained her from movement.
"It's okay," he whispered in her ear. "I'm so sorry, puffin, I'm so sorry – just hold still, and I can make the pain stop, I promise."
The front door kicked in, and a warbling sense of hope filled Abigail's chest. The agent from earlier rushed inside, his gun unsteady as he bellowed, "Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbs! FBI!"
Hobbs squeezed Abigail in a backwards embrace. "I'm gonna make it all go away," he promised. Though when he moved to cut her throat, the gun went off and struck Hobbs in the shoulder.
Abigail cried out, stunned, before she went hurtling to the speckled floor. Almost instantly, she realized blood was gushing from the deep wound on her neck. Oh God, he'd cut her, oh God, she was going to die!
A succession of eight pops followed, then she yelped when Hobbs slumped down against the counter, riddled with bullets and barely clinging to life. She gaped back at him, choking on her own blood as the agent fell down at her side. His hands moved to her neck, but she could only focus on her father struggling for breath.
Another man entered the scene then, and Abigail found herself growing increasingly dizzy. Hands poked and prodded at her, and then a pair of expert fingers pinched at the right place to stem her blood flow.
"Dad," she choked. "Dad, I…I'm so sorry, I…"
"Do not speak," the man holding her throat admonished. Even amidst her delirium, Abigail realized it was him…the man on the phone.
Feeling a spike in her pulse, Abigail whimpered as the EMTs arrived just in time. They coaxed both men into stepping aside, and then they set to work on prepping her for the ambulance.
Steve checked his watch with impatience. He knew Abigail was going to be late, but he hadn't realized just how late. Maybe he should brave it and scope out her house?
While he contemplated this, an ambulance and two police cars went peeling down the road alongside him. Oh, God… Were they headed to…?
Not allowing himself to finish the thought, Steve started up his car and went tearing after them. With the taste of bile in his mouth, his heart dropped when he saw the vehicles all turn up Abigail's driveway.
Slamming on the brakes, Steve immediately parked his car and went racing up the gravelly pathway. Two agents were there to stop him.
"No, you don't understand!" he cried. "My girlfriend lives here, and I just-"
"Sorry, kid," the man on the left said. "This place is a crime scene, so we can't let you in."
Steve paled. "Oh, God… Please, you need to at least tell me if she's alright!"
In the distance, he could see two EMTs wheeling Abigail toward the ambulance on a stretcher. He once more tried to break through, but the agents were quick to catch him.
"We said no!" the female agent snapped. "If you leave us your contact information, we can let you know which hospital she'll be staying in. Until then, I'm afraid you'll only be getting in the way."
Steve's eyes puddled as if he'd been struck. "C'mon, haven't you ever been in love with someone before? Wouldn't you do everything you could to be with them?"
The woman's expression softened, but she shook her head. "Sorry, but no. It'd go against our policy, and it's imperative that we ensure safety and zero contamination."
The male agent handed Steve a card. "In an hour or two, give this number a call, and someone should be able to fill you in on the girl's condition."
Steve nodded gratefully. "Thank you… We'll be in touch."
When he returned to his car, he doubled over and screamed into the steering wheel.
"Abigail's being kept at St. Mary's. I want to go over there after dinner."
Steve's mother appeared concerned, her eyes nervously flitting over toward her husband. "Oh, dear… Well, this certainly is bad timing, isn't it?"
Steve's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"Well…" Still looking at Craig, Martha plastered on a smile and clasped her hands. "As you know, your father and I went on that business trip a few months ago."
"And, things went very well for your father."
Tucking his glasses into his breast pocket, Craig almost appeared snide when he explained, "I got a job offer in Hawkins, Indiana. They were so impressed that they want me to transfer immediately."
Steve's mouth fell open. "But…b-but what about Abigail? What about school? I've finally found a place I belong, and now you want me to uproot for some shitty, hole-in-the-ground town?"
"You watch your mouth!" Red-faced, Craig pointed his finger. "When that girl wakes up, you're going to tell her that it's been swell, but you're moving. I didn't think much of her anyway."
"Oh honey, be nice," Martha admonished. "That poor thing has been through so much!" Looking to Steve, who quite frankly was ready to commit murder, she reached across the table and touched his hand. "You're eighteen, honey, so before you know it, you'll be able to move out. And when you've got the means to do so, maybe you can come back here and be with Abigail."
"The sooner, the better," Craig agreed.
Eyes stinging, Steve swallowed around the lump in his throat and nodded. "May I be excused, please?"
"Of course, honey."
Not waiting for his father's approval, Steve rose from the table and rushed off to grab his car keys.
- Three days later -
"Follow the light for me."
Tired and obedient, Abigail glanced toward the flashlight one way, then the other as the doctor moved it back and forth.
"Very good," he praised. "Can you remember what happened?"
"Yes," Abigail rasped. Due to the knife having severed her windpipe, it currently hurt to talk. The bandage on her throat bobbed as she swallowed, and with a shaking breath, she asked, "Are my parents okay?"
Tucking the flashlight into his coat pocket, the doctor sighed. "I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to discuss that," he said. "The FBI requested that I leave all the details to them, so you'll have to get your answers when they arrive for questioning. And given how they've been informed of your condition, that should be any time now."
Abigail shook her head. "I don't want to speak with them. Ever since I woke up, I've been poked and prodded and interrogated by total strangers. If I have to be poked and prodded and interrogated by even more strangers, I'm going to scream. So please… Let me see a familiar face."
The doctor frowned. "Just who did you have in mind?"
Steve was surprised and overjoyed to get the call. He hadn't realized Abigail had finally woken up, but now that he had this bit of news guiding his mood, he had a lighter air to him as he traveled in to St. Mary's.
The staff was friendly (perhaps too friendly, he decided), and as a young nurse led him into Abigail's room, his heart swelled at the sight of her.
"Hey," he greeted. "You look…"
"Like hell, I know," Abigail rasped. Smiling with tears in her eyes, she reached out for him. "Come sit with me?"
"Of course." Moving over to the chair at her side, Steve sank down and curled his hand fondly over hers. "I was so worried about you," he whispered. "The media's saying awful, awful things, but they don't know shit."
"I don't care what they say," Abigail agreed, even though she did. "They didn't know my dad…they don't know me."
Squeezing her hand, Steve nodded. "I'm so sorry I didn't see the signs."
"How could you have? No one did…not even me or my mom."
Drawing her fingers to his lips, Steve kissed her knuckles and exhaled. "I really don't know what to say…looking back, it kind of makes sense, but-"
"Please don't analyze my family," Abigail pleaded. "I'm sure the media's doing more than enough of that."
"You're right. I'm sorry." Gently rubbing her hand in between his palms, Steve asked, "So what did you want to talk about? When the orderly called, he said you had something you wanted to discuss with me."
Abigail paled, now guiltily lowering her eyes. "Maybe later…right now, I want to hear something normal. Please tell me about your weekend."
Now it was Steve's turn to appear guilty. He wasn't sure if on top of her trauma, she could handle his life-altering announcement. But when she looked back at him with her wide, pleading eyes, he knew he could never lie to her.
"Abigail," he whispered, lifting a hand to gently brush back her hair, "I got some pretty bad news this morning."
She swallowed. "What kind of bad news?"
"The domestic kind. My dad got a job in Hawkins, Indiana, but it's okay, 'cause I can eventually get enough money to come back to you. And then maybe we can move in together, and-"
"I want to break up."
A silence overcame the room then, thick and suffocating, and Abigail's eyes grew wet as she tensed her hands in her lap.
Steve felt as if he'd been struck in the chest. "I…w-what?" Nearly collapsing back in his seat, he withdrew far enough to regard her more clearly. "Why would you want…? You don't mean…"
"I do," Abigail evenly said. "I want to break up."
"But why?" Steve weakly asked. "Don't you love me?"
Abigail's chin quivered, and for just a moment, she nearly lost her resolve. Since she did love him, she needed to do this – she needed to free him before it was too late.
"No," she whispered. A slight crack filled Abigail's voice, and she quickly shook her head. "No, I don't love you."
Steve swallowed with a low, disbelieving scoff. "You're a liar," he accused. "I've always known when you're lying."
"Get out," Abigail pleaded. "You may think you know me, but you don't."
Steve's hurt expression finally turned cold. "That's an awfully presumptuous thing for a stranger to say."
Abigail drew in a quaking breath. Whether he meant it or not, he was spitting out the exact same words she'd said to him during their first conversation, and with such biting venom that she swore she felt her heart break.
"Steve, please leave," she begged. "I can't do this right now."
Steve, don't go. I love you.
With a bitter laugh, he rose and gave her a sarcastic salute. "Don't worry, I'm gone. You'll never have to see me again."
Steve left the room with a slam of the door, and once Abigail was certain he was out of sight, she doubled over and burst into tears.
- Several months later -
"Steve? Um…Steve, honey? There are some men here to see you."
Martha sounded nervous, which in turn made Steve nervous as he headed down the stairs. Spotting his mother with two men – a weary, bespectacled man and a tall, grave-faced African American – his brow creased with concern. "What's going on?"
"Steve Harrington," the latter man said, "I'm Special Agent Jack Crawford, head of the behavioral unit of the FBI. This is one of our criminal profilers, Will Graham, and we're here to discuss a few things, if you wouldn't mind."
Steve's mouth suddenly felt like cotton. "Uh…sure, what's this about?"
"Abigail Hobbs." Gesturing toward the sitting room, Jack asked Martha, "May we?"
"Oh! Oh yes, of course. Would you lovely gentleman like some coffee?"
"None for me, thank you," Will said, sounding soft and defeated. Clearly, something was weighing quite heavily on his mind.
While Martha bustled off toward the kitchen, Steve uneasily led the two agents into the sitting room. Taking the couch across from two over-stuffed, high-backed chairs, Steve folded his hands and nervously leaned forward on the edge of his seat.
"Look, if this is about what happened with Abigail's dad, I honestly can't help you. Was I surprised to learn that she had been living with a serial killer? Yes. But that doesn't mean-"
"Steve, we're not here to interrogate you." Will's voice was soft and almost soothing. "Given your response, I'm going to assume that you've been unaware of Abigail's tragic activity over the past several months." When Steve balked, Will continued, "She was manipulated by a Dr. Hannibal Lecter – I take it you've at least heard of him? – and he faked her death to keep her out of the FBI's path. You see, she helped her father with those girls, so Hannibal took an interest in her potential."
Steve felt his heart drop. "Wait…she helped? But…"
"Not directly with the kills, no, but she found out basic information – where the girls would be, where they lived – so that her father could come for them without incident." Will's gaze grew pained. "She felt she had no choice, Steve – her father was sick, and he told her several times that if he didn't kill those girls, he'd have to kill her."
"Oh, my God…" Dropping his face down into his hands, Steve shuddered and shook his head. It was all beginning to make sense now – Abigail's behavior, her actually admitting her father was sick – all of it.
"That brings us to the point of our visit," Jack said.
Nodding, Will continued, "As you may or may not know, Dr. Lecter is currently the world's most wanted man. When we realized what he was, he felt cornered and attacked four innocent people. One person died. And while we were searching Dr. Lecter's home, we found a note addressed to you. It seems that while Abigail was living in his basement, she'd written to you and intended to mail this."
Will reached into his pocket, but Steve immediately shook his head.
"No, no, I don't want it," he pleaded. "She made it very clear that she didn't want to see me again, so-"
"She won't," Jack evenly cut in. "We've kept it out of the headlines for now, but the victim who died during Lecter's attack was Abigail Hobbs. I hate to be the one to tell you this, Mr. Harrington, but she just couldn't pull through this time around."
"Jack and I were also there," Will said, his eyes filling up with tears. "We were victims number two and three… I tried to save her, Steve, but she'd just lost too much blood."
As Steve gaped back at them in stunned disbelief, it took him a moment to realize he was crying. Wet, hot tears coursed down his cheeks, and his body quickly began to rack with sobs.
"I can't," he choked. "I can't look at it, I just can't…"
"And you don't have to," Will assured him, "but we're going to leave this here for you to do with as you see fit." Face ashen and filled with regret, he leaned over and placed the letter onto the coffee table. "I loved her too, Steve. She was a lovely, sweet girl who unfortunately attracted the attention of a very bad man. And given how Lecter's 'love' reflected that of her father's, she didn't stand a chance."
Martha came in then, bright and chipper with her coffee mugs. "Who likes cream and sugar in theirs?" she asked. Looking at her son's tears and then the stoic, unreadable faces of the two agents, she instantly lost her smile and gasped. "Oh! Oh dear, is everything alright?"
"I don't think we'll be needing that coffee after all, Mrs. Harrington," Jack said. Now motioning to Will, the two men rose from their chairs. "Thank you for your hospitality."
To Steve, Will added, "Take care of yourself – I'm so sorry I couldn't do more for her."
After the men had left, Steve glossed over his mother's questions in favor of solitude. With Abigail's letter in hand, he went upstairs and shut himself in his room. Nancy would probably be calling soon – she often liked to talk with him in the evenings – but he knew he wouldn't be able to speak with his girlfriend. Not right now.
With tears still streaking his face, Steve unfolded the letter and read:
I don't know why I'm writing you…I'm not even sure if you still like me, but I needed to get some things off my chest. I found some paper in Hannibal's escritoire, and I know he'll be home soon, so I don't have very long to write. I probably won't even find the courage to send this, 'cause I know what he'll do, but it still feels good to vent. I'm lost and scared and I don't know why this is happening. I'm not even sure I know who I am anymore. He chose me, but I didn't ask to be chosen. Why aren't you here? Why haven't you come looking for me? I know we left things on bad terms, but couldn't you tell I was lying? Please, Steve, I feel so alone, please don't let me be alone anymore. I'm sorry. I know I'm a terrible person, and that I don't deserve your forgiveness, but you're the only one keeping me sane right now. Please don't hate me. Please come find me. I wish I could've had the courage to keep you in my life, but I didn't deserve you. I'm too cowardly and broken. I just wanted you to know that I love you and I never hated you. I hope you're okay, and that maybe one day, we can live together in that apartment you spoke of, with dappled sunsets and house plants and a small cat with bright blue eyes.
I have to go now.
Steve stared down at the open letter for a long time. With a sharp, tight pain in his chest, he thought of Abigail and her sunshiney smile, and the way her nose wrinkled when she was deep in thought, and how he would never be able to see her sweet face again.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Stevie, honey?" Martha poked her head into his room, her gaze soft and uncertain. She only called him Stevie when she knew he was upset, but somehow Steve was appreciative in that moment.
"She's gone, mom," he softly said. "They told me Abigail died."
Lightly stepping into the room, Martha shut the door and had a seat alongside him. "Oh honey, I know it hurts, but-"
"Why didn't she tell me? If she'd just told me, maybe I could've helped her! Maybe…" Trailing off, Steve choked on his own words and miserably wiped his eyes. "I just don't get it, mom. In this letter, she finally admitted that she loved me, but I guess that wasn't enough for her to trust in me, too."
Martha's eyes softened. "Sweetie, I'm sure she was just scared. She was being abused by her own father, so it's difficult to turn on someone you love. And maybe, in her own way, she thought she was protecting you."
"But what about her?" Steve weakly asked. "Why didn't she ever think about who could protect her? I hate that I was so goddamn stupid, because even though I did feel uncomfortable and suspicious about her dad, I decided he was just oddly overbearing."
Martha gently rubbed his shoulder. "Blaming yourself won't bring her back – you know that."
Suddenly, it seemed as though all the energy had drained from Steve's body. He slumped against his mom in a defeated heap, his eyes wet and his mouth trembling as he shook his head. "And this other guy…what are the odds of her being manipulated by not one, but two serial killers? How did she end up so lost?"
"It's possible that she felt guilty…that maybe she even felt she deserved it," Martha said, "but I agree. It's very tragic and unusual."
"In her letter, she sounded so hurt and scared and confused," he whispered. "I just wish I could've been there for her."
"I think you were," Martha whispered. "You may've not been able to physically be there, but from what I've gathered, she certainly kept you there with her spiritually."
Steve smiled, his eyes glistening with tears. "Thanks, mom."
Gently, she curled him into her side and stroked his hair. "Tomorrow will be better."
Steve couldn't bring himself to agree. Any day without Abigail would never be "better," but he would learn to live with only her memory. And then, when his heart was far less battered and bruised, he would finally look at "dappled sunsets and blue-eyed cats" again and smile.
A/N: This took quite a bit of editing, but it's finally done! Originally, it wasn't supposed to end so tragically (it was basically just supposed to end where S1 of both Hannibal and Stranger Things began), but then I realized I wanted to see what Steve's reaction would've been to Abigail's death. It hurt to write, but it seemed to be a more fitting stopping place than their breakup. Also, if anyone wants to write this ship, PLEASE do and let me know! The tragic thing about writing a crossover couple is you're basically the only one who ships them! lol
Anyway, I feel like most of my readers are familiar with Hannibal, seeing how quite a few of my fics pertain to that fandom, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask! Hope you all enjoyed! And as always, comments are love! ;) You can find me on Tumblr at musicboxmemories.