Disclaimer: The characters and concepts in this story are the property of Thomas Harris, Bryan Fuller, and their related affiliates. This is an amateur writing effort meant for entertainment purposes only.

Summary: It's just so anti-climactic, especially given all of Hannibal's careful planning, that the game should end with Will shooting him in a PCP-induced frenzy.

Author's Notes: I am no expert on either PCP or hallucinogens, so kindly forgive any glaring medical inaccuracies in this text.

How it Ends

Hannibal Lecter has given very serious thought to how this game will end.

Whimper, not bang, he's concluded. Good Will eventually finds himself staring at the world through Hannibal's cannibal eyes one day, and the doctor has no other choice than to cut the still-beating heart from the young man's chest.

This is my design.

He is open to variations of course. Like Will, Hannibal possesses imagination, and in some of his fantasies, Good Will likes what he sees through blood-coloured glasses. He murders his way through an FBI task force and cuts Jack Crawford to pieces. Hannibal isn't foolish enough to hope for this outcome, but still, he's only human, and the desire to trade Good Will for Bad is strong enough to fuel even the most ludicrous of fantasies.

Still, Hannibal's fairly confident that neither he nor Will has fantasized about this particular ending. It's just so anti-climactic, especially given all of Hannibal's careful planning, that the game should end with Will shooting him in a PCP-induced frenzy.

He's not sure what part of the situation disappoints him the most. There are a lot of factors vying for the top position: John Abelman, their newest serial killer, who got the brilliant idea to administer PCP to a man with unlimited imagination; whose brilliant idea is now costing Hannibal the one man in a million who might actually be his equal. Will's brain is taxed enough already by Crawford's prodding. It wouldn't take much PCP to push him over the edge.

The gun Will has trained on him unnerves Hannibal too. Guns are so impersonal, and what exists between them even now is very, very personal. Their final course should be served up with knives or rope or gloved fingers, not a firearm.

There's also the little matter of this whole showdown being nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence.

Hannibal concedes. That is what angers him the most. He's spent so much time cultivating his relationship with Will and waiting for the man's remarkable brain to open itself up to him, that to have Will kill him because of a paranoid delusion is the worst of all possible losses. Hannibal can cope with losing based on his own merit. He could even cope with losing to Will someday, perhaps. But Hannibal refuses to lose because of someone else's stupidity, and he most certainly refuses to have his plans undone because of an idiot like John Abelman.

Abelman can wait though. For now, Hannibal relaxes his stance, keeps his hands in plain view, and fixes a hard stare on Will's eyes. "Who am I, Will?" he asks. "Stammitz? Hobbs? Some Ghost from a Case File Past?"

The question unsettles an already unsettled Will, because apparently he's not even sure what he's looking at right now. He only knows that it terrifies him. He stinks of fear: reeks of it, in fact. Fear is etched into every one of his features, from the twisted, near-tearful expression on his face to the ragged sounds of his all-too-rapid breathing. Will's twitches and tics have activated their own fight or flight response too, and it's positively dizzying to watch him try to hold a stance. The drug has rewritten him into the fragile little teacup that Jack Crawford sees, and Hannibal feels a twinge of regret that Good Will's about to break. All his hard work will have been for nothing.

"No," Will's bottom lip quivers, "No, you're just you, Dr. Lecter."

"And what is it you see that compels you to point a gun at me?"

"You're the snake slithering by."

Hannibal half-smiles. PCP annoys him. It doesn't reveal anything about the psyche, just causes the imagination to flail without impulse control, which psychologically isn't too different from how Will seems to operate normally. Except that Will's imagination doesn't flail, and he wouldn't normally try to shoot any of his projections outside of a shooting range. Where did Will's deductions end and the drug-induced paranoia begin? Hannibal had to be sure.

"I wonder what it was that gave me away," Hannibal says calmly.

Will's head twitches towards the empty miles of forest surrounding them. "They tell me things."

"Voices in the trees," Hannibal nods. All is not lost then. There might still be a chance to salvage Good Will's mind. Better still, Hannibal tries not to smile more wickedly at the thought, Will's bad trip might inspire greater confidence between them. Fear and guilt are great motivators. "That kind of evidence isn't admissible in court."

"It's more than just...voices. I see you. I see you, Dr. Lecter! I see the way you hide behind propriety, the way you deflect..." Will loses his train of thought to more sounds Hannibal can't hear and images he can't see. The younger man is really crumbling now. "The way you deflect any of my observations with more of your own! You're disarming me! You want me...dependent! On you!"

Hannibal sighs. These conclusions are always more satisfying from the sober. "You know John Abelman likes to drug his victims."

Will starts shaking his head, lips pursed, and looks more and more like a child having a tantrum, but he still hasn't fired. That fact alone keeps Hannibal talking. "A small dose of PCP. Just enough to scare them."

"He didn't do that to me."

"He was hiding at the scene, Will."

"No! No, I see you!"

"He attacked and drugged you."

Will waves the gun at Hannibal. "I'm not insane."

"I know," Hannibal keeps his tone as formal as possible, not wanting to patronize the rattled young agent. "You're not insane. But you're not well, Will. It's quite chilly outside today, but you're perspiring. One of the effects of PCP is an increase in body temperature. You're also, if I'm not mistaken, experiencing an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration."

Will's only response is to shake harder, all the way from the bones out. His body seems to recognize the wrongness of its current condition, even if his brain is universes elsewhere. "Stop analyzing me. I don't need to be analyzed."

But his resolve is starting to crumble, and despite all the rage he's holding back, Will still hasn't fired. Curious, Hannibal considers, and hazards the smallest of steps towards the younger man, testing his boundaries by degrees, as always. Will merely takes a step back. Even in his current state, he can't bring himself to take a life.

The thought warms Hannibal. Irritated as he is – with Abelman, not Will – he is aware, at last, that this isn't the end. This is merely foreshadowing. Young Agent Graham will play the lion and end up the lamb. Hannibal might even serve him with mint sauce.

He's not content to win so easily though. Hannibal can forgive Will his rudeness because of Abelman's intervention, but he's always looking for ways to hurt the young agent. And this will hurt Will, Hannibal knows, first because he held a gun on his friend and then, later, because he didn't take the opportunity to fire when he had the chance.

Hannibal therefore opts against wresting the gun from Will's hands by force. Will has to give him the gun out of his own free will. That was the only way to pain.

"See yourself through my eyes, Will," Hannibal prompts, "A young man lost, confused. Throwing punches at superior officers and pointing guns at friends to satisfy paranoid fantasies."

Will's face crumples. He stops searching Hannibal's periphery for phantoms and steadies his gaze on the doctor's chest. Hannibal shifts closer, inspecting Will's eyes. They look aware: ashamed but aware. That impossible imagination of his has responded to Hannibal's suggestions and entered into a bizarre feedback loop, where empathizing with the good doctor finally allows him to empathize with himself.

"There's nothing to fear, Will."

"I should fear you."

Hannibal hopes that's not the PCP talking. "Do you?"

Will's bad shoulder drops, easing the gun down several inches until it's hovering somewhere around Hannibal's midriff. He makes several attempts to correct his stance, but he physically can't. "I don't know," his chest caves. "I just don't know."

Hannibal nods in understanding. "It will come to you, Will. When all this is over, it will come to you. And when it does, I'll be there."

The gun falls another few inches. Will deflates, "I lost him. I was so close, and I lost him."

Hannibal holds out his hand. "Give me the gun, Will."

The younger man hesitates and fights tears. Hannibal doesn't back down. He so wants this moment. He needs it. If Will is to be broken, and this experience already has broken him terribly, than he can at least be broken in a way that suits Hannibal's agenda.

Will takes the gun by the barrel.

"You want me hopeless," he says sadly.

Hannibal sighs. "Give me the gun, Will."

Will does.

The good doctor smiles.

This is my design.

I don't think this work is quite finished just yet; hopefully, I'll figure out where these plot bunnies are leading me soon. Either way, thanks for reading!