"Can you look?"
It's the impossible-to-answer question, the one that keeps coming back to Will, and there's no way he can look this time, but he has to.
"I…" Will pauses, before nodding, not looking at the agent. "I can look." He stares at the mutilated body, heart taken, ribs rearranged into an intricate sculpture, as he listens to Jack call out for the rest of the FBI team to clear the room. This one is in Baltimore itself- too close to home, he thinks- and he has no idea yet what the ramifications of that may be.
Will closes his eyes. One, two, three swipes. The man's chest seals closed and the pool of blood shrinks back into the empty cavity. He has a heart again.
Will opens his eyes. He is not Will Graham. He is the man who will murder this human being.
Two steps forward, throw the man into the back wall of the room. Knife wound to the left arm and a slash across his face. He feels a fingernail scrape his jawline. The knife flips in his hand and he gets the man in a stranglehold. Another scrape to his arm. He jabs the knife behind the man's right ear, just next to the back of his jawbone. He kills him in this way to keep the heart whole.
This is his design.
Quick, surgical incisions expose the rib cage, which he cuts carefully. He'd meant to do this the whole time. He removes the front of the rib cage, setting it aside as he removes the heart, full of hot, heavy blood. The scissors separate the ribs neatly and he begins to arrange them. There is a specific way they must be.
This is not art. This is a message to someone very important, one that only they can see.
Will realizes what the message is and in the same instant, he is in Hannibal Lecter's office, unable to count for the shift. Lecter is standing before him, looking composed as always, waiting for a response to an inquiry Will doesn't remember.
There is a scrape on his face, and a bandage on his arm.
The gun comes up to point at Lecter's head before Will's mind can catch up.
"It was you," he gasps, not out of surprise, but out of a sense of betrayal. Instead of denying it, as Will expects, he nods.
"Yes, it was," Lecter murmurs in his lilting accent. "But are you really going to tell anyone?"