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: Will flirtatiously changes the subject; Alana finds a way to get them back on topic.

Author's Notes: Inspired by their kiss last week and Alana's observation to Hannibal from the week before.

I hope to eventually write something cute and fluffy where Will isn't drugged, but this is not that story. Apologies.

Bittersweet Remedy

This is what friends do, Alana told herself: they help each other. And Will needed help right then. His tone alone communicated that over the phone, not to mention the fact that he called her. Not Jack, who would walk him from the hospital to another crime scene, and not Hannibal, who might insist that he stay longer. Alana would swoop in and take him home. Because she was his friend, and what are friends for?

She scoffed at her line of reasoning as she parked her car. Yeah, right: no friend of hers would check her out of the hospital AMA after sleepwalking down a highway. Of course, Alana didn't have a problem with hospitals – or sleepwalking – so maybe she was a bad example. Will had problems with both and then some.

He was waiting for her in a chair by the nurse's desk wearing some borrowed scrubs and a tortured expression. She was reminded of the illustrations from her first-year psych textbooks, the ones of dogs in Seligman's experiments. Learned helplessness, she recalled. Life had kicked Will Graham so much that he had long since stopped fighting back. Last night's events came as a blow, but he just stood there unhappily and took it.

"I want to talk to your doctor first," Alana said, stopping him in his tracks. Will's expression got even more downtrodden – no matter how impossible that seemed – but he nodded anyways, eyes fixed on the floor. Alana almost changed her mind right then. There was just so little of Will left. His face was ashy and sunken; his countenance appeared hollow. There were dark circles under his eyes a week of sleep wouldn't correct. "You really should stay," she sighed.

"I don't want to stay," was Will's clipped reply.

"They'll be able to monitor your sleepwalking. In fact, I can ask them to give you a muscle relaxant..."

"I don't want a muscle relaxant. What I want is to go home, please," he sighed and dared to meet her gaze for just a moment to say, "You're my friend. Just take me home."

Alana didn't know what to say. The hospital had chemical restraints and trained professionals; home was comfortable and familiar. Will, seemingly reading her mind, added, "Look, it doesn't seem to matter where I am. If I am going to sleepwalk, I'd much rather sleepwalk at home."
She couldn't fault him for that, no matter how awful he looked. Still, Alana wanted to be safe about it. She patted Will's arm, "Where's your attending?"

The petite doctor was competent, and she'd handled Will's case well: warm fluids and heating blankets to treat the exposure, antibiotic ointment and clean dressing for the wounds on his feet, bed rest for the exhaustion. Will had refused any kind of anti-anxiety medication or sedation, of course, and upon regaining his senses completely demanded an AMA and a phone call. "You'd think we were a maximum security facility, the way he was acting," the doctor sighed.

"It's nothing personal. You did a great job," Alana replied.

"Thanks. You're taking him home?"

"I don't think he's going to stay here one way or another."

"He needs to stay in bed one way or another," the doctor said. "Loads of rest, lots of fluids. He said he was a teacher? Does he work days, nights, and weekends?"

"He consults with the FBI. His job is very high stress."

"The officer said this wasn't the first time they found him sleepwalking, but it was the first time he was non-responsive after they pulled up. Has he been referred for psychiatric evaluation?"

"He's receiving treatment," Alana replied.

"I'll just give him something mild for the anxiety then," the doctor made a note on her clipboard. "He probably won't take it, but I'll write it anyways."

"I'll make sure he takes it."

The doctor handed her the script. "There's an antibiotic on there too and some T3s. His feet are a mess from the walk. I'm chalking up the non-responsiveness to sleep deprivation and exhaustion for now, but he's gonna get himself killed if it continues."

Alana agreed. He couldn't go on like this. She couldn't go on like this. Being a buffer between him and Jack was one thing, but there was no way Alana could serve as a buffer between Will and sound medical advice...or Will and himself for that matter.

She stopped at the dispensary for Will's meds, and then met him back at the nurse's desk. Will's brow raised slightly, like he was surprised she'd come back at all. Where else would I go? Alana resisted asking; the answers were too depressing. "Wait here," she said, glancing at his bandaged feet and wincing. "I'll bring the car up for you."

Will thanked the tile next to his left foot. Alana felt crestfallen. She was getting Jack Crawford on the phone the second she had the chance.

The drive to Will's was quiet. Alana tried her best to mask probative questions as small talk, inquiring how his night went, but it seemed like a typical night for Will. Two fingers of whiskey, a walk with the dogs, bed...and then waking up in the emergency room. "Yep," Will mumbled sardonically, "Typical night."

"You know there are medications that can help with sleepwalking. There are some alternative treatments too."

"Alternative treatments don't work on me."

"That's what you said about therapy."

"And here I am: sleepwalking. Actually, sleep-marathoning would probably be a more appropriate term."

"Well, what about Trazodone or Klonopin? They've both been very effective at treating this kind of behaviour."

"I wouldn't be able to work on Trazodone or Klonopin."

"I've seen you teach on less energy."

"Jack wouldn't allow it. Nothing that would shut down my imagination."

Alana tightened her hands on the wheel. Her phone call to Jack was getting longer the more she thought about it.

The dogs crowded around Will and Alana when they entered the house, each one vying for attention, yearning for affection, needing to confirm that Will was still alive and well. Alana turned on the lamp while Will catered to his canine brood. He gave them each a tired pat, scrubbing down one retriever in particular, and slowly made his way to the bed he made up in the living room.

"Don't you have a bedroom?" Alana asked.

"Sleeping upstairs seemed like a bad idea," Will replied. "Sleepwalking off the porch would be okay, but tumbling down my stairs..." he gestured to the stairwell. "There's a corner to catch me, I guess, but I didn't want to...take the risk."

He slumped down on the edge of the bed tiredly, scrubbing his hand through his dogs' fur once more before they retreated to the space heater on the fire place. Alana surveyed the room a little, trying and failing not to analyze. A thick layer of dog hair covered every surface, suggesting that Will hadn't cleaned for a while. The lack of new lures on his workbench was equally indicative of this. Jack was calling him more and more frequently; Will's brain was getting more and more taxed.

She sighed and reigned herself in, reminding herself that friends didn't analyze other friends. They showed concern, but they didn't analyze.

"You don't have to stay," Will said.

Alana hadn't realized how quiet the house had gotten until he spoke. "I'll get you settled," she replied, walking over to the kitchen. "The doctor made a list of things for you to take."

"Crawford might call."

"Crawford can wait," Alana said, filling up a glass with water. She brought it back to Will along with his meds. "You just sleep-hiked who knows how many miles down the highway tonight, Will. You're frostbitten. Your feet are mangled. You need to give yourself a break. I'll handle Crawford."

Will was silent. Either he didn't have the energy to argue or he didn't have an argument to make. Alana hoped it was the latter. She handed Will the water, plopped down on the bed next to him, and started digging through his medications.

The bottle anti-anxiety meds were in her hand when she felt Will's fingers trailing over the elbow of her jacket. He was treading softly, so the touch was difficult to read. Was this just neediness on Will's part, or was this another attempt to distract her using flirtation? Alana would hate to rebuke him when he just needed to touch something for balance.

She got her answer a second later when Will set the water aside and brushed the hair away from her neck, trailing his fingers along her ear lobe in a way that was a little more flirtation than needy.

"Will," Alana said. She meant to sound at least halfway stern but his name came out in a breathy whisper. Not the best sound to make when trying to avoid flirtation. Will's hand came to rest on her shoulder. She fumbled with the lid on the prescription bottle, trying to ignore the way the hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end and every pore in her body started to hum. Realistically speaking, Alana reminded herself, finally getting the pills open, even if she was interested in doing anything with Will...correction: even if she allowed herself to do anything with Will, he wouldn't be up for it. Not tonight.

Will didn't seem to agree, not completely anyways. He let his hand drop but seemed to be even closer to her on the bed now. Alana hazarded a glance at him, finding Will's gaze fixed somewhere at her chin. "I don't...need those."

Ah, so that was what he was running from. Alana held up the pills. "These are non-negotiable, Will."

"I'm not anxious right now," he remarked. "You don't make me anxious."

"I can't stay here forever."

"Then just stay tonight."


Sighs weren't the only way to say his name, but Alana's throat seemed to think they were, mainly because his shoulder was pressed to hers now. His face was getting awfully close to her hair too. "If you're not looking to be analyzed right now," Alana said mildly, "a psychiatrist who picked you up from the hospital AMA is not the best place to start."

"You're not my psychiatrist," he reminded her, nuzzling her hair a little. Alana let him. For Will's sake, she told herself, but something weird, wild, and wonderful was pooling inside her stomach as it happened that made it difficult to turn away. She didn't mind Will touching her but wished it could be under different circumstances. When he was stable and comfortable, or at least less breakable. Alana was terrified he was going to shatter if she breathed on him too hard.

"You're not going to find stability on the roof of my mouth," she informed him.

Will shrugged, lips trickling over her cheek as he spoke. "Maybe I just haven't looked hard enough."

He caught her; she let him. Cheek to cheek at first, then lips to lips, and then his tongue was flitting under her incisors and Alana nearly dropped the pills on the floor. The kiss was everything Will was: soft, tender, unassuming, with just a hint of desperation and yearning, just not for Alana. There were those thoughts again, pesky and nagging and totally right. He wasn't really kissing her; Will was bracing for impact. Alana was the last thing in his reach before the fall.

She pulled herself away from him then, holding him at length, forehead-to-forehead. Will let her, yet another solid indication that no matter how many butterflies swarmed in Alana's gut, it wasn't the kiss he was craving. "I'm sorry," he said softly. His breath spiralled with Alana's between their mouths. He drew a hand around her ear. "I shouldn't. I'm sorry that I am."

She hushed him. "No, no, you don't...you don't have to be sorry."

But he really should have stopped there. Alana couldn't open bottles and count pills when he was nuzzling her face or plying her lips like that. She bottomed out, no longer feeling the satisfying tickle of arousal, only the fear that she was approaching the point of no return. Or that she had already passed it. They had done this once before after all. Eventually there would be a kiss that would change everything. Alana hoped this wasn't it.

She held up a hand to his mouth, restraining him just by touch, and that's when the idea came to her. Weird and wild but not wonderful: this was a thought borne out of her own personal desperation, her deep sadness for Will. Will, who kissed out of pain rather than pleasure, who was hanging from a brink that was constantly slipping out of his grasp; Will, who received no respite, even in sleep, from all those terrible things Jack Crawford forced him to see. Alana plucked one pill from her hand and slipped it up, covertly, to Will's mouth. She gently pushed it between his lips, and then sealed it with a close-mouthed kiss of her own.

Will sensed the betrayal, but like one of Seligman's dogs, he didn't fight it. He didn't accept it either; Alana felt as much in the kiss that followed, the deep, dark, desperate embrace of his lips against hers. Her face screwed up tight first against his mouth's demands, refusing to yield to the jagged little pill she'd force fed him. Very quickly, Will's face twisted into a tortured expression of his own, silently begging don't do this and please don't leave me and I will do anything you want and make it stop all in the same miserable instant. A sound swelled up from his throat right before he swallowed, a terrified, whimpering sound that cleaved Alana right in two.

She still brought up another pill from her hand, opening her lips just enough to entice Will to let her in again. He made a small crying sound, don't do this please don't do this I don't want to, but accepted the pill just the same.

He had to grab onto more of Alana in order to swallow the second time round. Will was nothing but raw anxiety and an awful existential ache now, a constant shout in the darkness for who he was instead of everyone else. She felt the tension in his hands as they gripped her shoulders, straining for even a semblance of control, even as he surrendered. Alana wrapped an arm under his and brought it to rest over his shoulder blades, holding him steady. There was no stability on her roof of her mouth, but she was built strong enough to support him right now at the edge of the night.

The kiss moved then – Alana leading, Will following...or maybe he was leading and she was following? Alana's mind was less on the movement and more on making sure Will didn't fall over or pass out on top of her – until they were both on the makeshift bed. Alana on her knees, Will clinging to her for dear life, a hot mess of emotion and restraint, of want and better judgment, of loss and more loss. Tears and twisted expressions: his in fear, hers from anguish. This was a kiss that changed things, and they both knew it, though Alana knew it clearest of all from the way Will took hold of her shoulders and drew her so tight that he was resting on the roof of her mouth. But he wasn't stable; he was shaking. From his bones to his skin, Will Graham was shaking, and try as she might, Alana couldn't steady him on her own.

The medication took hold before she lost her grip, and the kiss ended the way it began: with soft gestures and tender touches. Will's brow eventually fell against hers and stayed there, his eyelids drifting shut. His body slackened. Alana ran a hand over his cheek, brushing away tears and perspiration while trying to not think about what the ratio was between the two. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm sorry, Will."

"You have nothing to be sorry for," he mumbled sweetly. "Nothing."

Alana didn't believe that for a second, but she let it slide. No use fighting with a drowning man. "Lie down," she urged him, guiding his head towards the pillows and body under the rumpled blankets.

She had to uncoil Will's hands from her coat lapels for him, but they continued to find her every step of the way. They swept over her wrists, grasped helplessly at her fingers, then twitched on the pillow in search of whatever it was she represented for him. That sacred something she possessed that he wanted to drink in with kisses. "Don't leave me. Please, don't leave me," he begged.

"I'll be right here," Alana said, drawing a hand through his curls. She gagged on the lump of sheer sadness in her throat. "I'm right here, Will."

And she was. Sitting once again at arm's length, Alana was right there with him.

Happy reading!