Will's mom didn't talk much. They spent a lot of time in companionable silence, and he grew used to a lack of answers to questions he wanted to know. He loved her completely, but he knew there were many he wouldn't dare to ask, even as he grew older, maybe even especially then. The greatest of these remained the questions of his father, and whether her mind bent into the same horrible shapes as his did.
He would never know. Once she was gone, he had no one left, and no answers. Shortly after, he had a knife rammed into his shoulder, and a mental breakdown.
But he got out fine. Quantico was fine. Everything was fine.
He emptied a clip into Garrett Jacob Hobbs, and his life changed. His mind bent, and the girl bled in his dreams. So many bled in his dreams, and he shook when he woke.
Will knew something was different about Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He stood out, that much was obvious, in refinement, clothes, food, opera, art. Fine. Something else was different, something in his eyes, something familiar enough for him to dare speak even a little of what was swirling in his fucked up mind in the last few weeks.
Not much, though. "Some things are too horrible to voice," Will said, hand resting on a bookshelf, gaze off some feet away from Lecter.
"Not here," Lecter said. "There is nothing to fear in this place."
He smiled without a trace of happiness. "Dr. Lecter, there's something to fear in every place."
Lecter's tone had mild amusement in it, though. "Do you truly believe that?"
Silence fell between them, a companionable enough one. Will managed to relax some. Then Lecter spoke again. "Your dreams, your thoughts. They have no hold on you that you do not willingly give them."
Will sent him a skeptical look. "That's very easy for you to say."
"I know this, Will." Lecter barely paused. "And I know that I might ease your pain."
"Through talk therapy?" He managed to restrain the sardonic laugh that wanted to bubble up inside of him. "These talks are enough for me as it is."
"No." The answer surprised Will, but not as much as the next. "You have not recognized what is inside of you yet, have you? What is part of you?"
He immediately jumped to the defensive. "What are you talking about?"
"Will," Lecter said patiently, "do you know what you are?"
"I'm a professor at Quantico on loan to the FBI," Will shot back promptly.
That got him a look. "I knew from the moment I met you. But I see that I will need to convince you."
"You're talking in riddles," Will said, to the point.
"There are many words for what the two of us share," Lecter said, his gaze tight on Will. "Words that are different in each culture. But it all relates to abilities inherent to bloodlines." He spoke gently, then. "You did not know your father."
Psychiatrists. "No. What abilities?"
Lecter tilted his head just slightly. "You have a vision beyond what many can comprehend, even those in your field. Yes?"
"Yes," Will agreed.
"You call them guesses, but you are most often correct." He raised his eyebrows. "You see things."
It was hard not to get snappish, though he couldn't put a finger on why. "I understand things. As they happened at the scene."
Lecter paused. "You see, Will. There's no need to deny it."
Will put his hands up. "I'm not denying anything."
"The way your mind works is not a result of study," he pressed. "It is a gift. A sight beyond. One you received from your bloodline. From your father."
Will couldn't help but bristle. "You don't know anything about my father."
Lecter considered that. "I know what I see. I know that you are like me."
Maybe he was afraid. But he couldn't think about that. "And what gifts do you have, Dr. Lecter?" he retorted.
"A singular one." Lecter smiled faintly. "One that could ease your pain."
"Ah, yes, the compassion of the mental health professional," Will said, a little sardonic yet.
"No." He began to approach Will. "I can take this vision from you. Not forever, but for a time. I merely need your trust."
This was nonsensical. "You can what?"
Lecter stopped a foot away from him. "I can free you from the burden of seeing what these people do, Will."
"Explain," Will said shortly.
"You have magic," he said calmly. "As do I. My magic can ease yours. I am, at least, fairly certain of that."
"Magic." This was verging on the surreal. "Dr. Lecter, please."
"You think I am insane." Lecter conceded it with a small smile. "But I can prove it to you. All you must do is trust me."
"You're being terribly vague." Will rubbed his temples. "Prove to me that what you say is true."
Lecter took the remaining steps to stand within his personal space. "I will. And I will ease your pain."
He looked at Lecter, and tilted his head up. "Go on," he challenged idly. "Cure me."
It happened in one fluid motion; Lecter grabbed him by the shoulder and the face, baring his neck and yanking a piece of flesh out with his teeth. Will spluttered helplessly under Lecter's grip, then he came to realize that everything was different; Lecter was gone, and a horned creature he recognized with dawning horror had a mouth soaked in blood. Before he could stop it, its grip tightened and it licked his bleeding neck, which immediately began to itch horribly. He shook and nearly dropped to his knees once the room was bright again and Lecter was casually wiping his mouth with a handkerchief.
"What the fuck," Will pronounced; he pressed his hand to the wound, only to find it… wasn't there. He trembled before he could help it: he was losing his mind. "Dr. Lecter. Please tell me what just happened."
"You will find," Lecter said placidly, "that your troubles should be less for… at least a few weeks. Come to me again if they return to you."
It all sank in, in one horrible moment. "You," he said, and pulled himself up. "Dr. Lecter, you…"
"I am what I am," Lecter said, "and you are what you are. Yes?"
Will had no clue what to say. "Yes," he said, for lack of anything else, and went to the door.
"Oh, Will." He didn't look back at Lecter as he spoke, didn't dare. "This will remain our secret."
He laughed shortly, unamused at the absurdity. "Yes," he said, and escaped.
Will slept through the night two days in a row: no horned creatures, no blood dripping to dark floors. It felt ridiculous to wake refreshed and ready for the day the murder arrived on Jack's desk.
But he saw nothing. He saw the Chesapeake Ripper's victim, the site, but he saw nothing.
Jack pulled him aside after the cold, static deductions he gave. "What's going on with you, Will?"
Will knew. This will remain our secret. What did he even have to tell, that wouldn't land him in a padded room? "Nothing. Everything's fine."
That, in and of itself, should have been a clue to Jack that everything was not fine. But Jack Crawford wanted Will to be fine, so he accepted it with eyebrows raised and went on giving orders.
It was only when Will arrived home that the shock receded enough for him to realize what this meant.
I can't see the Ripper. I can't see anyone.
He made his way to Lecter's apartment and knocked firmly, his indignation retreating a little when he realized the insanity of what he planned to say to the man. He considered leaving, but Lecter opened the door with a faint smile. "Will. Come in."
Will nodded slightly, and made his way inside, his jaw slightly tense as he considered what to do next. Lecter shut the door, and Will made himself speak. "Whatever it was you did. It worked."
Now the faint smile broadened into something small. "Oh? I'm glad to hear it."
"No." His feelings were incomprehensible in that moment, a terrible mix of fear, confusion, and desperation. "Whatever abilities I have. I need them back."
Lecter's mouth turned into a quizzical frown. "I don't understand."
"I need to solve this." Will stood firm. "Help me get them back."
"Are you not happier without them?"
"Of course I am." He scoffed. "But I'm useless."
"I doubt that," Lecter said. "You're a trained profiler and forensic expert."
"You know what I mean," Will snapped.
Lecter considered him for a moment. "I do. But my concern is you."
"And not the victims I could save from the Ripper," Will said tightly, "and those like him?"
"I think you are fully capable of doing so without the dreams and visions that torture you." Lecter's tone was nearly gentle. "You do yourself a disservice to think otherwise."
Will felt a headache tugging at his temples. "If they want someone who can read a crime scene because of what they've read in books, Dr. Lecter, there are thousands of people who can do that. They chose me because of what I can do."
"Is this your only concern?" Lecter asked. "That you won't be able to do this without your visions?"
"Of course I can – " No, he had to backtrack. "What do you mean?"
Lecter tilted his head. "Is that what bothers you?"
"Yes, of course it does." Will hesitated, though. "I saw something. I mean, I've seen it… more than a few times."
"What did you see, Will?"
He had to be careful. "It looked like you did. When you did whatever you did."
Lecter paused. "I am not the only one of my kind. Was this in connection to a crime?"
"I think so." Will might not have had magic to help him, but he did have experience to draw on, and he knew he couldn't let his doubts of Lecter show. "But I'd have to think."
"Let me know what you remember," Lecter pressed lightly. "Please, Will."
Will gave a short nod. "Dr. Lecter," he said after the briefest pause, "I have to know the things I know. See the things I see."
"I see." Lecter offered the faintest smile again. "Let me know if you change your mind."
He knew he had to leave, because his instincts were that he had no clue what might happen next. "Thank you," he said, and withdrew.
Two weeks of nothing. The mounting anxiety that usually roiled through him was gone, beyond that of feeling useless. Jack knew not to ask anymore.
It was strange to feel nothing there, no creeping horror along his mind. He saw more things that he imagined most people did: small smiles from passersby on the street, the faces of the people around him who weren't Jack or Lecter or Alana.
When Alana asked him to dinner, he said yes.
A week later, Alana left his house in the morning with a smile. It was supremely surreal in a way the visions had never been. His phone rang, shaking him out of his thoughts, and he answered it. "Jack."
"Yeah," Jack said, "there's another one."
It came back with the impact of being hit by a train. Will left the crime scene silently and drove nowhere for an hour until he found himself arriving at Lecter's apartment again. He could see in Lecter's face once the door was open that he looked like shit.
"Hannibal," he said, and wasn't sure if he regretted it. "Help me. Help me figure it out."
Lecter gestured him in. "What do you need to figure out?"
"What do I do?" Will couldn't go back, but the Ripper would keep on his work no matter what.
"You need to decide what your priority is, Will," Lecter said patiently. "The perfect solution to this case and your suffering, or a somewhat rougher road for the case and your peace."
It was in the back of his head: you only saw the creature once you met Lecter. He had a terrible feeling again, like he was teetering on the verge of something awful. "You think I could have peace?"
"Yes." Hannibal. His name was Hannibal. He wanted Will to be at peace. Why can't you trust anyone, Will? "I think if you allow yourself to, you will find peace, for yourself, for the Ripper's victims as well. Don't you?"
"No." Will wasn't good at not being honest. "Do it anyway."
This time Hannibal pushed him gently to the couch to lay down, and undid his shirt, ripping strips of flesh from his stomach once he was dark and antlered and horrible. He felt a dark sort of pleasure rising in his stomach even as he felt blood spilling from the wound, until the creature's tongue lapped against the wound. The room flickered back, and Will came to realize with horror that he was half-erect against Hannibal's body.
Thankfully, he didn't seem to notice, and Will hurried to do up his shirt. "I should go," he said.
"I will see you soon," Hannibal promised. "Take care. Enjoy yourself."
Will nodded, and hurried off.
A new sort of horror was dawning on Will's life. Alana was happy. He was happy. But people were dying, and he saw nothing. It wasn't just the Ripper, it was the others, it was how he felt Jack looked at him now, doing his absolute best which didn't feel like anywhere close to enough. He went back and back again to Hannibal's apartment, and the yank and tear of flesh from his bone became a rush and promise of safety from the problems that had dogged him for decades.
Why do I trust you? Will stared down at the creature that was Hannibal as he ripped chunks out of his thigh, and made no effort to hide that his cock was hardening at the contact.
Hannibal became himself again, mouth still wet with blood, and looked at Will, eyes shining with something that Will couldn't begin to name. "Will," he said.
Will yanked him forward by the shirt and kissed him, not caring that his blood entered his mouth coppery and wet, maybe wanting to taste the price of his freedom. They kissed and kissed until Hannibal pinned him down and touched him until he was so hard he couldn't handle it. "Please," he managed. "Hannibal, please."
"Not yet." Hannibal's voice was barely audible. He became the dark creature, and his antlers brushed Will's chin as his teeth ripped into Will's belly.
"Oh, god," Will breathed, and keened his cock up into the creature's chest.
The wounds itched as they healed, but Will didn't care, his cock yanked hard in his hand as Hannibal fucked him roughly against the couch. Blood dried on the corners of his mouth. He didn't care. He didn't care if his suspicions were right.
This was the price of peace.