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: The pieces of Will are starting to pile up, and the good doctor looks forward to counting and cataloguing every one of them in therapy.
Author's Notes: I think that covers it. Thank you for reading!
How It Ends: Reprise
Hannibal wishes he could be around waking-Will more often. There's a look that crosses his face as he rouses, one of such monumental confusion, that the good doctor's convinced Will's never certain of who he is when he wakes or if he's actually waking up at all. Today there's the added disorientation that comes with anti-psychotics and benzodiazepines, restraints and lethargy and pain, that makes Will come to by uncoordinated degrees. He struggles to see before his eyelids can open, tries to speak before his mouth can form words, and tugs at his wrists before he's really strong enough to fight the restraints.
The discovery of the restraints changes Will's expression rapidly. There's just so many layers of terror in his face: terror that this is a dream he can't distinguish from reality, terror that this is reality, terror that this imprisonment won't ever end. Hannibal is torn between settling Good Will's nerves and watching him panic for a little while longer. Somewhere in between the two lies the dependency he craves.
As with the forest though, Hannibal lets Will come to him.
The younger man's eyes, when they do finally open, fix on the ceiling and stay there. Disassociation, Hannibal identifies, not to mention the only recourse Will currently has against tears. He starts to hyperventilate again, but after several long moments, Will manages to get himself back under control. "Baltimore?" he asks humourlessly by way of greeting, "Or Washington?"
"Washington," Hannibal replies, "Georgetown University Hospital, actually."
Will's eyes close again, but his face remains tense. "Am I...awaiting transfer?"
"I felt your transfer to a psychiatric facility was premature given that your psychoses were drug induced. I anticipated you would have requested nothing less."
"Thank you," Will breathes, but he doesn't relax. "When can these come off?"
There's an undercurrent of panic simmering just below the surface of Will's voice despite the anti-anxiety medication they have him on, and Panicked Will is easy to play with, because he can't comprehend who's pulling on his strings. "My apologies, Will," Hannibal plays the party line, "You have been in quite a state. A danger to yourself and others."
"I can't..." he chokes on the word, because there's just so much he can't, "I'm...really tired. I couldn't lift my arms if I tried. And I would rather not be on my back right now."
Will has been on his back for a long while now, but Hannibal knows it's not just the strain causing Will to list. Lying prostrate, wrist slightly suspended to accommodate an IV, Will looks like one of Stammitz's mushroom beds. Hannibal wants to pry – Stammitz's madness was, in a sense, the clearest metaphorical response any killer could ever hope to achieve of Will's gift – but he doesn't want to push right now. Will's admission of helplessness is what he's been waiting to hear since arriving at the hospital.
"Are you experiencing any predilections towards aggression, Will?"
Hannibal anticipates sarcasm but receives the pitiful shake of Will's head in response instead. There's nothing left of the young profiler, not even a resonance of Hobbs or some other killer, except the sad admission of a sad fact: he's broken in a way that he can't fix, restrained in a ways the bed only begins to express. Hannibal doesn't want to let him go just yet, but to not do so seems like a greater gamble. He wants Will back in the game as soon as possible.
So he rises from the chair and starts undoing buckles on the restraints.
Will generally responds to physical contact the way most people respond to third degree burns, but he apparently wasn't lying when he admits that he didn't have the strength to do anything. Hannibal tests the boundaries, brushes his fingers deliberately over Will's coarse hands and ankles, and the profiler reacts with only hitched breath or subtle twitches. Once freed, he draws his hands to his waist, wincing, and folds his legs up the few inches his muscles will allow.
"Thank you," Will says quietly before attempting to shift onto his side. Navigating the numerous wires and tubes attached to his body results in some difficulty, but Will's determined and needs to feel independent again, so Hannibal stands by, waiting for an invitation he knows will probably never come.
"How long...am I here for?" Will asks, breath heaving, when he's finally settled in a clumsy approximation of the fetal position. His eyes closed, but his breathing remains so steady, so controlled, that Hannibal knows he hasn't fallen asleep.
The doctor settles back into his seat. "Anywhere from forty-eight to seventy-two hours to ensure that no lasting psychological damage has been incurred," Hannibal hopes, for his own sake, there is none. "You have already slept eighteen."
"I don't feel like I've slept at all."
"Normal, given what you experienced."
Will chuckles softly, mirthlessly. "I'm not even sure what I experienced."
Hannibal reveals nothing in his expression. He keeps the gun carefully concealed beneath his professional veneer. "What do you remember?"
The younger man's face twitches, an involuntary reaction to whatever he's reliving. He fixes a stare on the floor beside Hannibal. "I remember Abelman," Will's face sours at the name, "I remember the injection. I remember..." he makes a sound somewhere between a laugh and an objection. "I remember punching Jack...?"
"You sound uncertain."
"I feel...detached from it all. Like I'm just seeing the world through someone else's eyes."
"Disassociation is a side-effect of PCP. As is aggression."
The words come easily for Hannibal. He made a similar observation to an enraged Jack Crawford just after Will disappeared from the scene, when the EMTs were checking out the bruise blossoming around the older agent's left eye. His explanations don't have any effect on Will though, no matter how true they might be. Will doesn't like being reminded about how little control he has, and PCP has shaken the already shaky foundations of his psyche.
Hannibal wonders what the memories of the gun will do. The pieces of Will are starting to pile up, and the good doctor looks forward to counting and cataloguing every one of them in therapy.
The young profiler's doesn't let him down. "I didn't punch anyone else, did I?"
"No. You dashed off into the forest in pursuit of something."
"Stag hunting," Will breathes.
"Of your own accord or that of Jacob Garrett Hobbs?"
Will doesn't answer that, and not because he doesn't have an answer: only because a greater answer plagues him. The little colour in his face disappears. "I'm sorry, Doctor Lecter."
Hannibal tries not to smile. "For what, Will?"
"I seem to recall-" another laugh, this one sharper and bitterer than the first, "-holding a gun on you."
The revelation is satisfying for Hannibal. As damaged as Will most assuredly is, he's not damaged beyond repair. He doesn't need to be baited; his faculties seem to be more or less intact. If anything, Will's brokenness seems tailor-made for Hannibal's purposes: enough that he still needs the good doctor for a while longer, but not so broken that they can't be a match for one another.
Will's doe eyes rest somewhere around Hannibal's shoulder, wounded in a way they haven't been since that first conversation after Hobbs. "I'm sorry, Doctor."
Moments like these, Hannibal wants to show his true self: let even a glimmer of the monster out so he can watch Will's face fall. He keeps his desires sufficiently suppressed for now though. The only thing more satisfying that hurting Will now is hurting Will later, when he's rebuilt, reconstituted, when he has so much further to fall.
Hannibal's smile is small but genuine. "You have nothing to apologize for, Will. The voices in the trees are to blame."
"I feel like it was more than that..."
"More than auditory hallucinations and drug-induced paranoia?" Hannibal's eyes narrow infinitesimally, searching Will's profile for an explanation. Is it the years of practice written into his facade? Will's empathy? He has to know. If not the PCP, what was it that revealed him to be more monster than man? His mind reels through contingency plans, other possible endings, and decides that while Will's imprisonment in a psychiatric institution would not be a satisfying main course, it would suffice. He could have the young profiler all to himself, locked up mind and body, completely aware of Hannibal's true nature but unable to articulate it.
Will's eyes tic across the ceiling. "I remember everything felt so real, like the voices were the truth itself ringing out in my head. They were a conclusion that I'd drawn a long time ago but only just acted upon."
Hannibal sighs inwardly. Will's suspicions might exist at an unconscious level, but they are easily disguised as paranoid fantasies in this case. "I do not need to explain the effects of PCP to you, do I, Will?"
Will closes his eyes and shakes his head, "No. I know, Doctor. I'm just...I'm sorry that was the way the drug manifested. I couldn't help thinking those things."
"So long as you don't think them now."
"I don't," Will replies sternly, fixing his eyes on Hannibal's cheek – as close as he will get to making eye contact. "I just...I don't know how to make sense of what I felt then and what I feel now."
"What do you feel now?"
"Shame. Embarrassment. Doubt."
The word does not come quickly to Will. He has to struggle to wrap his lips around it, to support it over his vocal chords. "Yes."
Hannibal moves to checkmate. "Whatever impulse compelled you to punch your superior officer and draw a gun on friends was chemically induced," he states flatly. "There is no need to doubt who you are."
"Who I am..." Will laments. "Who is that, I wonder?"
"We are defined by our choices, Will: Abelman took those away from you. PCP forced you to point a gun at me. It was your own true nature that inspired you to turn the gun away."
And will inspire him to turn the gun away again, at the end of all things, Hannibal believes.
The answer settles upon Will uncomfortably. He wants to be in control of even his awful actions just so that he's in control, but there's no telling where he ends and the monsters begin anymore. Hannibal is offering the only silver lining left in a brutal situation. He's the anchor for Will's psyche, the light in the windows, and Will, true to form, always makes port. He relaxes into the pillow and takes Hannibal's analysis, because any other explanation justifies the restraints binding him to the bed.
Hannibal, satisfied, says, "You do not seem to be suffering any ill psychological effects from the injection."
"From the injection," Will repeats sardonically. "I have plenty of ill psychological effects from everything else."
"I look forward to getting to know them," Hannibal replies with a smile.
This is my design.