When Will and Hannibal first met, they both heard the flutter of wings. Will barely noticed the faint sound, subconsciously passing it off as a bird outside Jack's office, but Hannibal saw. He kept the surprise and delight from his expression as he surveyed him; it wasn't hard after centuries of playing human. Will's body was outlined in a weak, white glow as his shadow, splayed across the wall, showed a flash of wings extending out from his shoulder blades.
Will was unimpressed by him, which only intrigued Hannibal more. He wanted to learn everything he could about him, to open up his skull and read the folds of his brain like words in a book. Years had come and gone since he'd seen another angel but he had yet to see one that didn't recognize Hannibal for what he was. When Will sat down in the chair beside him in front of Jack's desk, Hannibal stretched out his own wings, black and ragged like scorched drapes. Falling from heaven had not been kind to him.
He burned as he dropped from the clouds that day, his once beautiful, well-kept wings turned to tatters. The bitterness he still felt over it pumped through his veins, continuously kept alive by the beating of his heart and his inability to forgive.
He was a rebellious son, a brother none of the angels ever cared about until he did something they believed was wrong simply because their father deemed it so. He, like Lucifer before him, was banished from the kingdom of Heaven except, unlike him, he was banished to Earth. There were times when Hannibal believed Lucifer received the superior deal.
He cared for the humans better than his Father and that was his undoing. They were all beneath him and he knew it, no more exceptional than the cattle and pigs that roamed and grazed upon the earth. However, he felt a fondness and fascination toward them, the way a human child might feel about an insect. They didn't know how to properly keep themselves alive and that's all Hannibal was trying to do. He devoured the worst of the meat to preserve the rest so they could live out their insignificant lives.
What made them so great in his Father's eyes that he would cast out his own son? He couldn't fathom an answer even after living among them for so long. Hannibal continued to treat the humans the same way he always had, the way that caused him to fall from grace, like cattle.
As far as his Father was concerned, Hannibal was damaged goods that He couldn't bring himself to smite down. Instead, Hannibal hid away amongst the masses, believed dead by his own family, until he found himself in Jack's office where a young, impressionable angel sat ripe for manipulating. He learned a lot more about Will during their first meeting than he could've ever suspected. He was a fledgling, naïve, aware of his power with no real idea how to wield it.
Those who misunderstood said he was overly empathetic, but so were all angels. Hannibal could feel the pain and fear and joy and sadness of humans, he just chose not to. Long ago, he decided not to care. He felt a kinship to Will, seeing a younger, idealistic version of himself in him. He wanted to study him, get to know him, break him. Will, a mere child of an angel, out of the arms of God and into Hannibal's clutches.
As time passed, the two grew closer as Hannibal asserted his influence and control over Will without him realizing. He confided in him, his thoughts, ideas, and fears, and Hannibal soaked it all in like it sustained him. He kept Will close and methodically began to shut out everyone else in his life. Hannibal wanted to be the last bridge, the final pillar still standing, so Will would have nowhere else to go when he started to crumble.
Will's abuse of his empathy slowly overwhelmed his mind the more he wielded it without control or practice. He delved too far in, leaving a piece of himself behind each time while taking something back that didn't belong to him. It consumed him, eating at him from the inside until he was forced to run to Hannibal for help.
"I feel like it's getting to be too much," Will said as he burst into Hannibal's office without so much as a hello.
Normally, such behavior would be inexcusable to him, but Will was his soft spot. He quickly forgave and forgot as he shut the door behind Will and turned to listen to him talk. Will dropped into one of the two adjacent chairs, elbows propped up on his knees as he rested his head in his hands. Hannibal watched him curiously, opening up his own empathy to feel the strong waves of emotion that Will secreted.
He felt worry and fear, both of which were inundating, but Hannibal managed to keep everything behind a calm mask. Beyond that, he felt a growing sense of peace and stability as Will settled into Hannibal's office as one would their own home. He turned his empathy off once again as he approached and sat opposite Will.
"Your appointment isn't for another hour."
Will glanced up at him, surprised, as he started to stand. "Oh, I—"
"Sit," Hannibal commanded and Will relaxed back into the seat. "You're already here and, luckily for you, my six o'clock cancelled."
"Thank you," Will said, meaning the words so much that they brushed up against the steel doors of Hannibal's empathy like hungry flames.
Hannibal nodded, shifting back in his seat as if he could escape the range of Will's emotions. "So, what is it that's getting to be too much?"
"This job with the FBI," Will admitted, his face contorting as if it pained him to speak the words. "I wanted to help people, I want to help people, but I don't think I ever realized how much doing that would hurt me…"
"Perhaps you should take a break, tend to your own well-being. I'm sure Jack would understand," Hannibal suggested.
"I'm not so sure he would…"
"As important as catching murderers and psychopaths is, you are far more important. If need be, I'll speak with him myself. Doctor's orders, Will. If you don't have some time away, it could damage you permanently."
Will rubbed his face with his hands as if he could wipe away the weariness and distress. "Do you really think so?"
"You've been hearing things, possibly hallucinating. That is bad enough on its own, imagine how much worse it could become from there," Hannibal said with a pointed look.
"Maybe you're right," Will said, nodding to himself. "I'll talk to Jack tomorrow, try to get a week or two off. But with the Chesapeake Ripper still out there…"
"Well, we can only hope he'll stop killing for the time being so you might get a chance to rest."
Hannibal stood and walked over to one of his cabinets, pulling out a half full bottle of wine and two glasses. He removed the cork and poured out the deep red liquid until both glasses were a little more than a quarter full before leaving the bottle out of the counter. He brought the glasses back to the chairs, holding one out for Will to take.
"Until you receive your work leave, hopefully this will ease the stress you feel, at least for today."
Will smiled and grabbed the glass, stealing a small sip. "Is this your prescription, Dr. Lecter?"
"Not normally, but I find you are a special case," Hannibal replied before sipping from his own glass.
Will shrugged. "I'll take that as a compliment."
"You should," Hannibal replied with a smile.
The next day, Will arrived once more, his stress level spiking so high that Hannibal could feel his own blood pressure rise. He could hear Will's feathers ruffling as he flexed his wings like fingers in order to physically express the tension that coursed through him. Both he and his current patient, Elizabeth Dougherty, looked up at him as he bounded through the doors. Elizabeth, eyes red and face blotchy as she was forced to stop in the middle of a personal breakthrough, opened her mouth to say something but Hannibal held up his hand to stop her.
"Will, I know we're friends, but you must stop barging into my office," he said, standing up to meet him halfway. "Not every minute of my time belongs to you."
Will appeared stunned to see another person there, guilt and embarrassment clear on his face. Young angels wore their emotions like clothing, bared for all to see. Will seemed to be no different and Hannibal had learned to use it to his advantage.
"It's all right, Will," Hannibal said in attempt to curb the apologies he could see bubbling up. "I want to hear what you need to say, I'm concerned for your well-being, but I have a job to do, just like you."
"I'm truly sorry," Will said, his eyes tired but still shining with doe-eyed innocence.
"I know you are. Please, wait outside for fifteen minutes and then we can talk."
Will nodded as Hannibal led him to the door he'd crashed his way through and shut it behind him. Hannibal sighed, the sound barely audible. He silently cursed his self-built human obligations but only for a moment. He swiftly recomposed himself and turned to Elizabeth with a charming, apologetic smile.
"Sorry about that, Mrs. Dougherty. He's one of my regular patients and has a knack for showing up at inconvenient times. Now, where were we…"
The fifteen minutes passed quickly while Hannibal finished up their session as if he were on autopilot. He remained kind and polite as he told Elizabeth her hour was up and showed her out of his office with a warm smile and an indication of their next appointment. As soon as he shut the door behind her, the door to the waiting room opened and Will timidly walked in. Hannibal gestured for him to come in further and Will complied, closing the door behind him.
"Sorry again," Will said with a small, nervous laugh.
"It's quite all right," Hannibal said, sitting down in one of the chairs. "What's on your mind?"
Will licked his lips before daring to sit in the chair across from him. "Jack… he wouldn't give me the time off. But, maybe I don't really need it. I would be of much better use out there, saving people's lives."
"As much good as you do, Will, that good is limited if you run yourself into the ground," Hannibal said as he leaned forward, arms resting on his knees. "You're hurting yourself by abusing your power. You dig too deeply into the minds of these killers Jack wants you to catch and where does that leave you?"
Will mulled over his words for a moment, a frown forming on his face. "Nowhere good…"
"Allow me to speak with Jack," Hannibal offered. "You at least need a few days rest and maybe we need to up our sessions until we work through this."
"Do you go through this much trouble for all of your patients?" Will wondered aloud.
Hannibal smiled. "I consider you to be more than just a patient. I care about you, Will. I want nothing more than to see you well."
Will stood from his chair and Hannibal rose to meet him. He hesitated, looking down at his hands and up at Hannibal without ever meeting his eyes. After a few moments of awkward standing, Will stepped forward and embraced Hannibal, wrapping his arms around his neck to pull him in. Hannibal hesitated but reciprocated soon after, holding onto Will in a gentle grip.
To him, Will smelled like dog and sweat and that dreadful aftershave but all of it hit Hannibal as familiar, like Will had always been a part of his life rather than just a recent and unexpected addition. He realized he preferred to have Will there rather than no one. He looked into his own future and saw a lonely eternity without him, always changing to keep up with the times, trying to ward off suspicion as decades passed but he never aged a day. But the angels always returned to Heaven and so would Will, unless something happened to clip his wings.
A few seconds later and they stepped apart, Will holding onto Hannibal's shoulders. "I honestly can't thank you enough."
"There's no need to thank me. I'm just doing my duty as both your psychiatrist and your friend."
Will smiled and let him go before exiting the office. Hannibal watched his every movement until the door closed behind him, leaving him alone with nothing but the classical music playing in the background and his own thoughts.
The next day, Hannibal did as promised and drove the hour and a half to Quantico, Virginia in order to speak with Jack. While he didn't miss heaven, in times of long travel, he did miss his wings and the power that being connected to heaven granted. He'd become such a fixture around the FBI as of late that no one looked twice as he walked into the FBI Training Academy and headed down toward Jack's office. Jack seemed even less surprised to see him when Hannibal knocked on his door before letting himself in.
"Dr. Lecter," Jack said curtly, barely glancing up to see him.
"Jack. I take it by your less than warm welcome you know why I'm here," Hannibal said as he walked into the room and helped himself to one of the chairs in front of Jack's desk.
"I can't afford to let him go now," Jack said, finally sitting up to look Hannibal in the eye. "I understand that he has some issues to work through but I'm pretty sure that's what you're being paid for."
"As good as I am, I can only do so much. All of this is slowly corroding his mind. He needs a break."
Hannibal watched Jack as he quickly formulated a response, a way to change Hannibal's mind or, at the very least, make him leave. Any attempt he could think of would be laughable, though Hannibal would never laugh aloud. He flashed a perfectly friendly smile as Jack stared at him like a code that needed cracking. To Hannibal, Jack was an open door he'd picked the lock to long ago; he just wasn't aware of it.
"You need Will at the top of his game," Hannibal said before Jack had the chance. "But he isn't. He is worn and overused and could fail at any moment. What if he failed, Jack? What if a killer was left uncaught or what if Will immersed himself so deeply that the next body you found was of his own making?"
Jack sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Is this a real, immediate danger?"
"I believe so. If you want a second opinion, by all means, consult Dr. Bloom, but she will say the same."
Jack stared hard at Hannibal, carefully considering his words. "Fine. He gets one week but I want him to see you every day of that week. You fix him," Jack added darkly. A warning.
Hannibal nodded. "I'll do my best."
He stood and left the office, feeling Jack's eyes on him the whole way out. He felt a swell of accomplishment as he'd gifted himself with the time and opportunity to manipulate Will under the guise of help. He did want Will better, of course he did, but he also wanted to cut his ties to Heaven like the strings of a marionette. And when he fell, who else would be there to catch him but Hannibal?
Once outside of the building, standing beside his car, Hannibal pulled out his phone and immediately called Will. It rang once, twice, three times before he finally answered. His voice sounded groggy, his tone as frayed at the edges as his mind.
"Dr. Lecter?" he asked like speaking caused him pain.
"Hello, Will," Hannibal replied in a significantly cheerier tone. "I've just spoken with Jack."
"Oh? Oh! What did, uh, what did he say?"
Hannibal stared at each of the students filing in and out of the academy as if he could read their sins. "He's given you a week of leave on the condition that we meet each day of it to work through your dissociation problem."
He grunted in agreement. "I'm afraid that's the case."
"Well, all right. I'll work something out. Maybe I can stay up in Baltimore for a week as long as I can get Alana to check in on the dogs each day…"
Hannibal smiled to himself. "I'm sure she'll have no objections. I'll cancel my appointments for the latter half of tomorrow so we might have more time."
He could almost hear Will nodding through the phone. "Sounds good. Thanks again, for all this."
"It's no problem, Will. See you tomorrow."
Hannibal ended the call and returned home, occupying the long drive with thoughts and plans of how the coming week would go. By the end of it, he would have exactly what he wanted, an unwitting companion for the long eternity ahead. Ideally, he could change Will, make him truly see from Hannibal's point of view and accept his fate, but nothing ever ran that smoothly. He would control what he could and contain what he couldn't. No matter the outcome, Will belonged to him because, once Heaven found out what he'd been eating, they'd never take him back.
Will arrived just in time for the lunch Hannibal had just prepared. Poulet au Porto made from a young man who was attempting to assault a young woman when Hannibal happened upon them. He'd just set down the plates, his own at the head of the table, when Will rang the doorbell. He wiped his hands off on his apron and left it folded up on a kitchen counter before letting him inside.
He smiled at the sight of the worn out Will in an attempt to set him at ease. Almost immediately, Hannibal could feel him relax as he walked in, acclimatizing to the foreign environment that was Hannibal's beautiful home. He quickly settled in as if it was his own and Hannibal smiled again, to himself, because Will was making it all so easy for him.
"I'm glad you could make it for lunch," Hannibal said as he took Will's jacket and led him through to the dining room.
"Well, your cooking definitely makes it worthwhile," Will said with a small smile.
"Pleased to hear it!"
Hannibal walked around the table and pulled out the chair to the right of his own for Will to sit in. Will hesitated but smiled at Hannibal and plopped into the seat as Hannibal helped him to inch the chair forward. Hannibal settled into his place beside him and they both dug into the artfully plated food before them. He took pleasure in the sounds Will made as the flavors stimulated his taste buds. It reinforced the power he felt over him, how deeply Will was under his spell.
A hum of enjoyment filled Hannibal's ears and all he wanted to do was press his lips to Will's and feel it. He wanted to taste what Will tasted on his own tongue, to swallow every moan that vibrated in his throat. He wanted to absorb him, eat him whole and keep him forever.
Hannibal ruffled his charred feathers and he could see Will run rigid at the sound. He hesitated mid bite as the cogs of his brain began to turn. After a quick glance around the room and in Hannibal's direction, he started eating again as if nothing had happened.
"So, Will, how are you feeling today?" Hannibal asked, trying to gain Will's full attention.
"Um, pretty good," he said, trying to hurry up and swallow what he was chewing. "I haven't lost any time but I haven't been on a case either, which I'm sure helps."
"Indeed it does. I think your week away will help to bring you back down to earth," Hannibal said with a smile that was lost on Will. "You know, you don't have to stay in some dirty motel all week. My house is large with more than one unused guest room."
Will looked taken aback. "I wouldn't want to intrude…"
"It's no intrusion. In fact, it's entirely selfish. It would be much easier for me to treat you if you were here for me to observe in all facets of your life," Hannibal said, watching Will's face for any and all movements.
"…Are you sure? I just feel like I'd get in the way."
"I'm positive. We share a hidden kinship and I want to see you well."
Will laughed. "Kinship? You're successful and cultured and I'm a broken teacher with a family of stray dogs."
"I meant something on a deeper level than mere life choices," he said, ruffling his wings once more.
Will's eyes narrowed before going incredibly wide. His fork dropped onto his plate with a clang as Hannibal smiled at his realization.
"An angel?" Hannibal finished for him.
"H-how… How did I not notice?" Will asked, mainly to himself.
"Don't blame yourself, Will. I prefer to keep my identity well hidden."
"Apparently," he replied, his incredulous expression slowly cracking into a smile.
He stood from his chair, nearly knocking it over, and pulled Hannibal up into a hug. A stunned look crossed Hannibal's face as he found himself in Will's arms but he quickly dispelled it. He returned the hug before prying him off to hold him at arm's length. Will stared at him with a newfound admiration, the untainted awe of the young.
After a moment, Will took a step back and contorted his face in concentration until the air around him started to ripple. A pair of wings sprouting from his back became visible, a small pair that spanned little more than his own height in length. At the top, where the bones formed an outline, the feathers were a white even more pure than fresh snow but as Hannibal's eyes travelled down, light and dark grey speckled the pristine absence of color until it turned into a sheet of grey at the bottom like a bundle of storm clouds blocking the sky.
Hannibal reached out and brushed his fingertips along the soft, grey feathers toward the bottom of his left wing, causing a slight tremor to run through Will's body.
"Beautiful," he whispered, the word carried off on his breath but still loud enough for Will to hear.
Will swallowed hard as Hannibal's fingers brushed over his feathers once more. Hannibal liked the reaction, he reveled in it, before grabbing the front of Will's shirt and pulling him close. Will's prominent Adam's apple bobbed with each nervous swallow, prompting Hannibal to run his thumb across it. He could easily dig in his fingers and pull, ripping out the skin and veins and arteries, but he didn't. He didn't want to. Instead, he looked into Will's eyes and placed a soft, chaste kiss on his unsuspecting lips, eliciting a small gasp that prickled pleasantly at Hannibal's predatory senses.
When Hannibal pulled back, Will wore a startled look like he'd just experienced a short and unexpected earthquake. Hannibal found that his eyes were fixated on Will's lips, tracing their outline, the sheen from saliva, the ragged edges from being chewed on like gum. He couldn't help but kiss him again, more deeply, causing Will to grasp Hannibal's lapels for a meager sense of balance. He dragged his teeth along Will's bottom lip, leaving a mark, an indentation, without breaking the skin.
Will was breathless when they parted once more, still holding onto the front of Hannibal's suit with a vice-like grip. Hannibal stroked his face, running his thumb along his cheekbone, his fingers toying with the hair at the nape of his neck. When he regained a steady pace of breath, a question tumbled off of Will's well-kissed lips.
"Can I see yours?"
"My what?" Hannibal asked, his thoughts still with the feeling of Will's lips on his own.
Hannibal stilled, his hand frozen mid stroke, his expression turned to stone. "I… would rather not."
Will frowned, letting go of Hannibal's lapels. "Why not?"
"They're not in the best condition," Hannibal said, pulling the right phrasing out of thin air. "There was an accident… Holy fire."
Will's expression turned to deep concern. "When?"
"Long ago, Will. No need to fret over it. I've lived like this for a while now."
"I still want to see," Will said, resolute.
Hannibal stared down at him with unsurity in his eyes.
"Please," he said, his expression a mix of pleading and demanding.
A short sigh escaped Hannibal's lips as he released Will and stepped back. It didn't require nearly as much effort as it had for Will to reveal his wings and in the next moment, they were unfurled for him to see. He stretched them out to their full length, having to fold the ends in with the twelve foot wingspan. They hung down in shreds, the bottom half of his pitch black wings missing and the top half scorched and torn. They didn't hurt, not anymore, just scarred limbs that dangled nearly useless from his back.
Will looked horrified, reaching out to touch but unable to actually go through with it. Hannibal caught his hand and brought him closer, resting it over an area of his right wing that was all feathers, only barely singed. He ran his hand over the wing, his eyes expressing worry and fascination. He dropped his hand and looked up at Hannibal.
"I'm so sorry this happened to you," he said, his voice barely a whisper. "Why hasn't anyone helped you? Anyone in Heaven…"
"I'm afraid I lost all ties with Heaven when my wings were destroyed," Hannibal said, his tone the vocal equivalent of a shrug.
Will glanced from Hannibal to his wings and back. "I can fix it," he said, his voice barely a whisper.
"I can fix it," he repeated with more confidence.
Hannibal frowned. "But you're not—"
"A healer? I am. Or I was. Before I chose to hone my empathy instead. Healing was always too draining, but I can fix this."
"I wouldn't advise—"
Will cut him off by gently touching his fingertips to one of Hannibal's wings. He closed his eyes and concentrated deeply as Hannibal stared on in wonder. Could he do it? Would it kill him? He didn't have much time to speculate as an electric shock ran down his back and through the bones of his wings. He could feel them growing, the feeling returning to his nerves. With a deep gasp, he fell to his knees and Will fell with him. Will opened his eyes for a moment to see his work and gave a tired smile before collapsing into Hannibal's arms.
Hannibal flexed his wings, feeling out his feathers, and looked at them as they were restored to their former glory. Then he looked down at Will who seemed to be gasping on shallow breaths.
"Foolish angel," Hannibal whispered as he carried Will out of the dining room, wings folded up on his back.
Some time later, Will finally opened his eyes. To his right sat Hannibal in a red armchair, patiently waiting with an open book on his lap for Will to stir. Hannibal noticed his movements almost immediately, closing the book and setting it on the end table between them. Will struggled to sit up, digging his palms and fingers into the mattress as he put all of his strength into it. In the end, Hannibal stood from the chair and helped him, propping up the pillows behind his head to make it easier on him.
"That wasn't very smart of you," Hannibal chastised as he settled back into his chair.
"But I did it," Will replied, a smile tugging at the edges of his lips.
Will looked completely drained, his flesh pale and clammy, his eyes dark and sunken. He committed an act of healing reserved for the top healers in Heaven and almost paid for it with his own life, but Hannibal wouldn't let him die. He nursed him back to health, employing a few healing techniques of his own from his time as a surgeon.
"You did," Hannibal said, an expression of endearment flitting across his face. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Ugh, how long have I been out?" he asked, rubbing his eyes.
"Almost a full day."
Will's eyes bulged, panic overtaking him. "I… I need to call my house and check in with Alana and get my things from the motel. I—"
Hannibal arose from the chair to sit on the bed beside Will, placing his hand on Will's to interrupt his train of thought. "Calm down," he said soothingly. "I took care of everything."
After a moment, giving himself a chance to process the words, he relaxed back into the pillow. "You keep doing so much for me."
"Look at what you've done for me," Hannibal said, staring into Will's eyes. He could see that they were hazy, unfocused.
"It was… the least I could do…" Will struggled to say.
Hannibal could tell he was about to pass out again. "It was more than you ever needed to do, though I appreciate it all the same. You should rest now."
Will nodded and let his eyes close, sinking further into the pillow at his back. Hannibal moved from the bed so Will could lie down and sat back in the armchair to look after him. He opened up his empathy and felt the sheer exhaustion that Will felt, a mere blanket over the feelings of accomplishment and comfort. He stayed with him until he was sure he was asleep before leaving to take care of other business.
Soldiers of Heaven would be coming, Hannibal knew that. Will's display of power was an act they would've noticed and one they couldn't ignore. Everything started to move much faster than anticipated but Hannibal had learned over the years to be prepared for anything. Adaptation was one of many keys to staying in control and he would maintain control.
He prepared his home for their arrival, making sure nothing was out of place. Their appearance would be unexpected, which set Hannibal on edge, though he'd never show it. He did know they would wait until Will was well again, which gave him time. Time to prepare Will for what he knew was going to happen.
Ever since Will repaired his wings, a hum of power began to build in his veins. It wasn't much, he knew, not compared to what he used to have, but to have the ability of swift movement back felt like a, for lack of a better word, blessing. He was able to use his wings to appear inside of Will's motel room to retrieve his belongings and be back within a matter of minutes.
Will was healing well under his treatment and, by the next day, when Hannibal was cleaning his kitchen, he felt well enough to dress and walk down the stairs. He found Hannibal aggressively running a rag over the already shining countertops. He stood there for a few moments as Hannibal barely registered his presence before speaking up.
"Need any help?" he said in a still weakened voice.
"Not at all. I just finished. Hungry?" Hannibal said, folding up the used rag before setting it down.
Will shook his head as he crossed his arms over his chest. Hannibal tilted his head to the side a little, staring at Will in a way that looked through him rather than at him. Will shifted uncomfortably under his scrutiny.
"How are you feeling? Not just physically, but mentally," Hannibal asked, expressing concern.
"Well, tired still. Drained. Better than yesterday, though," he said with a short laugh. "I, uh, I'm not sure how I feel mentally."
"That's perfectly normal. You've been removed from the toxic environment that was causing your problems, the symptoms of it may not be as apparent."
"Or they might be gone," Will suggested hopefully.
"It's rarely that easy, I'm afraid," Hannibal said, walking around the counter. "However, now that we both know a little more about each other, it opens doors and pathways to reach the root of the problem."
"Well, let's start with why you chose to come to Earth," Hannibal said as he placed a hand on Will's back and led him into the living room.
He sat him down on the plush couch in the extravagantly decorated room before dragging over a wooden chair with a red cushioned seat that had been situated beside a bookcase. He positioned himself directly across from Will so that they were on the same level, two equals, two angels, both working through the same process to reach separate goals. Will wanted to be fixed while Hannibal wanted to break him further until he could fix him in his own image.
"Um, I just wanted to help people," Will said honestly. "I thought I could use my empathy to help them catch the worst of their kind to make the world a little safer for the good ones."
"But there will always be the bad with the good," Hannibal replied. "Why just assist the FBI? Why not use your power to go after them yourself? You would do a lot more good with more efficiency."
Will seemed taken aback at the idea. "It's not my place to judge humans for their actions. It's up to them to govern themselves, I'm just helping them by their own laws."
"But you know how they are with their laws. There are so many flaws and loopholes. The innocent become the convicted, the guilty go free. If you were to pass judgment on your own, that would make the world safer, would it not?"
Will frowned and licked his lips, processing every word. He leaned forward and rubbed his face with his hands as if it would make an answer appear. "It's… it's just not my place."
Hannibal contained a smile at the seed of doubt that started to grow. "Why not? You know who is guilty and who isn't. You are above the laws of humans. Imagine the good you could really do."
"I might be above the laws of humans but I know the archangels wouldn't be happy," Will said, clasping his hands together before resting his chin atop them.
"Do you know that for certain?" Hannibal asked as he leaned back in his chair, becoming a more distant observer of Will. "You've already killed once, just as God kills, and you made the humans safer by ridding them of a dangerous man. The angels did not punish you then."
"I guess that's true…" Will mused.
"It is. You'd be doing them a service far greater than any mortal man could accomplish," Hannibal reasoned.
"Is this what you think is right or what you think I should do?" Will said, a critical tone in his voice as he stared hard at Hannibal.
"It's merely a suggestion based on your own thoughts and actions," Hannibal said, crossing his legs and intertwining his fingers before setting his hands in his lap.
Will chewed on this bottom lip until he drew a drop of blood, prompting him to stop. Hannibal swallowed hard, having to hold himself back from lurching forward and kissing the blood from his lips. He watched as Will's tongue licked away the drops and watched as they reformed and pooled within seconds.
"You're a good man, Will," Hannibal said, trying to distract himself. "You're innocent, pure, and that is both your strength and your weakness. You stick too closely to the rules set for you by both Heaven and Earth and it's hindering the possibility of greatness within you."
"Would you do that kind of good, Dr. Lecter?"
Hannibal licked his lips. "I won't say it hasn't crossed my mind."
"I suppose it has crossed mine too. Once or twice…" Will admitted.
"Why not act on it?"
"It seemed… wrong."
"I… I don't know. I need time to think."
Will stood up and ran his hands through his hair. He turned to walk away, to go back to his room, when Hannibal soundlessly stood and grabbed Will's arm to stop him. Will slowly looked down at Hannibal's hand then up at his face, his expression confused. Hannibal pulled Will toward him and grabbed his face to drag him even closer. Their eyes met for a moment before Hannibal took Will's bottom lip between his own and tasted his bitter, metallic blood.
He pulled back, letting Will's lip slowly slide free, before kissing him. It was hard and fast and left Will breathless once more but when Hannibal pulled away that time, he was done and Will knew it. Hannibal let him go and he turned away and left the room, his footfalls from jogging up the stairs echoing through the house. Hannibal savored the taste on his tongue like a fine wine as he watched Will go. He knew he had more manipulating to do, but Will was on the edge. All he needed was a strong shove over.
Word of a new killer on the loose reached Hannibal's ears a couple of days later. He'd unsuccessfully attempted further manipulation with Will but his morals and world views seemed resolute as if he'd bent them as far as they would go. There was no more give unless he could apply enough force to snap him. This killer was brimming with the opportunity to help him do just that.
The FBI knew nothing about him except that he was leaving experimented on bodies around the state of Pennsylvania within university biology and anatomy labs. They'd been skillfully opened and rearranged, not just the organs but limbs and facial features as well. It had been a gruesome and sickening surprise for all of those poor, unsuspecting students who'd arrived to class and the FBI team didn't fare much better, though they were able to hold down their stomach contents.
The modus operandi of the killer triggered alarm bells in Hannibal's mind, a ringing familiarity. A name made itself known, one he remembered from medical school. Brian Dillard, a fellow surgical student. He could smell the psychopathy on him even then, a harsh, bitter scent. One he knew all too well. Hannibal had known him to be capable of terrible things, but he never suspected anything so extreme.
On one hand, he could inform the FBI and stop the horrific murder spree or he could go another route with the same destination and solve all of his other problems in between. A smirk spread across his face for a fleeting moment as he sat back in his office chair. He'd finished all of his paperwork for the day after meeting with all of his clients and intended to go home to see Will. As a plan started to form, he chose to take a detour through Pennsylvania to see how his old colleague was doing.
He grabbed his phone from his pocket and dialed Will to inform him he'd be out. He didn't need Will out looking for him where he was intending to go. It rang twice before he answered.
"On your way back?" Will asked as he picked up.
"Hello to you as well," Hannibal replied. "I'll be a little late. I have an extra piece of business to attend to."
"Okay. What about dinner?"
Hannibal smiled. "I have a few containers in the refrigerator that only need heating up for such an occasion."
He listened as Will padded over to the fridge and pulled open the door, hearing the rush of the cooling unit inside. "All right, well, hurry back."
"I'll be home in no time. No extravagant celebrations in my absence."
"Yeah, I'll tell that to all my hallucinated friends," Will said dryly before hanging up.
He replaced the phone before stretching out his long unused wings, the black feathers falling around his frame like a starless night. He barely had to flap them once before being transported, cutting through the pleasantries of mortal movement to choose a place, no matter how near or far. A moment later, he was standing outside of the Pennsylvania state line, not precisely where he wanted to be but close enough for being so out of practice.
Hannibal concentrated again, remembering the address of the latest publicized murder, and transported himself in a flutter of wings. He opened his eyes to see the darkened campus of UPenn, just outside of the Schmidt biology lab. He'd intended to go in and look around but the lab was occupied and the crime scene cleaned. However, Hannibal could still smell the evidence of it on the surrounding air as well as the distinct scent of one particularly bitter human soul.
Every human on Earth held a unique scent carried in the core of their bodies and once Hannibal smelled and stored it, there wasn't anywhere that person could hide. He could follow the trail to exactly where Brian went after he set up his last murder, hopefully leading him to wherever he was hiding out between kills.
One more flap of his wings and he was following the path to a busy area of Philadelphia in front of an older looking building. He checked the apartment numbers outside of the front door and bypassed the old lock with a swift tug. Almost silently, he climbed the narrow steps until he reached the third floor, apartment B. He only had to knock once before a familiar voice answered.
"Who is it?" a frantic sounding tenor asked.
"An old friend," Hannibal replied.
"How did you get past the door, I didn't buzz you in."
"Precisely. So, I suggest you open the door. I'd rather this not come to blows."
Hannibal could practically hear his thought process before he unlocked and opened the door just enough so he could see out. His eyes were a dark blue and the skin around them was purple and sunken in. His blonde hair was clearly receding, thin and pale. He looked starved, the bones in his oval shaped face more prominent than they should've been.
"Hannibal!?" he said, his eyes widening.
"Brian," Hannibal replied, tipping his head forward slightly in acknowledgement. "Are you going to let me in?"
"Why should I?"
"Because I know what you've been doing and I want to talk."
Brian seemed to wrestle with himself internally, wondering what his options were. After a few moments, his shoulders sagged forward and he opened the door for Hannibal to walk through. The apartment was small, one person, with a connected living room and kitchen area, a bathroom and a bedroom. It was fairly well kept, clean in most places, but the care put into it had begun to deteriorate.
Dust had layered itself over everything and the trash was starting to overflow, causing the whole apartment to carry a faint, rancid smell. Hannibal could tell that Brian was starting to lose himself in what he was doing. That made him both unstable and easier to sway in the direction he wanted him to go. Another puzzle piece slotted into place.
Brian hurriedly shut and locked his door before turning to face Hannibal. "What do you want?"
"I told you. To talk."
"About what?" Brian hissed, trying to keep his anger and fear in a low tone.
"About your displays for attention you've been leaving around," Hannibal said, remaining completely calm. He noticed Brian's eyes wandering toward the small kitchen area and a display of knives sitting on one of the counters. "I wouldn't do that, Brian."
"Why not? Are you here to turn me in?"
"Not at all. Please, sit down," Hannibal said, indicating a worn, brown leather chair. "I'd like to discuss business."
Hannibal returned home just past eleven. Will had already gone to bed so Hannibal followed suit rather than choosing to wait it out until morning. He wasn't sure when his business with Brian would transpire, but he knew he'd receive a call when it did. Hannibal slept well and Will slept restlessly into the late morning hours when the shrill sound of the doorbell rang out into the large, silent house.
They both stirred easily. Hannibal stood from his bed as if it required such little effort to be awake in the mornings and wrapped the robe he left hanging up around himself. He exited his room just as Will appeared at the top of the stairs in nothing but a white t-shirt and boxers. Hannibal held up a hand as he passed, telling him to stay there as he checked who it was. Unsurprisingly to him, Jack was the one on the other side as he opened the door.
"Jack? What are you doing here?" Hannibal asked, perfectly imitating surprise and confusion.
"I'm here for Will," he replied shortly.
"Please, come in," Hannibal said, opening the door wider as Jack pushed his way inside.
Will warily walked down the steps and into the conversation, immediately attracting Jack's attention. "What is it?" he asked, his face showing just how tired and drained he felt.
"Have you heard about our most recent serial killer at large?"
Will shook his head and looked to Hannibal for answers.
"I've been withholding the news from him to keep his mind on our sessions and off the job," Hannibal said as he closed the door without looking in Will's direction.
"Well, the short version is he seems to be killing indiscriminately in the state of Pennsylvania and leaving the bodies in college labs. He… mutilates the bodies, taking them apart and putting them back together however he sees fit. Except this time… this," Jack paused to compose himself, losing the ability to form the right words. Hannibal and Will waited until he was ready. "Will, we think it's Alana."
"Alana Bloom? What makes you think she'd be killing—"
"No," Jack interrupted, hiding a pained expression. "Not the killer."
"Then wh—no…" Will said as the truth hit him. "No. No no no how… how can you be sure? I-I mean with what you said he does to the bodies, you can't…"
"Will, we're as sure as we possibly could be without taking the body back to the lab," Jack said.
"Then take it back to the lab and make sure!" Will shouted, his voice cracking.
"WILL!" Jack said, demanding Will to focus. "Whether it's her or not, we need you to help us catch who did it. Are you up for that?"
Hannibal frowned, looking between Will and Jack. This was exactly what he wanted, but what kind of psychiatrist would he be if he didn't try to protest? "If it is Dr. Bloom, I really wouldn't advise—"
"I'm not asking you, Dr. Lecter," Jack snapped, giving him a pointed look before turning back to Will. "Well?"
Will looked frazzled and frayed, ready to scream or lash out or burst into tears. Still, he stared Jack steadily in the eyes before he answered. "I can do this," he growled.
"Will—" Hannibal tried again.
"No. I want to. I'll help catch the bastard that did this. I swear it," Will said, his expression hardening until his emotions were unreadable.
Hannibal reached out to him with his empathy and felt the torrent of emotions so hard that he had to quickly withdraw. He felt anger and sadness and confusion and pain and hate, all covering a thin layer of hope. Hope that it might not be her.
Will took off up the stairs to dress and Hannibal did the same, dressing in a three-piece suit faster than some would putting on jeans and a t-shirt. Still, he found Jack and Will waiting on him when he left his room and the three of them left for the crime scene, Jack in his car and the other two in Hannibal's.
What normally would would've been a less than two hour drive turned into three and a half long hours spent idling in traffic as Will sat beside him, releasing a fog of emotions strong enough to suffocate the average empath. They were headed to Drexel University in Philadelphia where the body that might be Alana was on display.
It was almost a relief when they finally arrived, just to be out of traffic and out of the car, but Hannibal could feel the darkness and dread spread across the sunny campus. The building itself was huge and gleaming, comprised of mostly windows that were blinding in the daylight. Hannibal followed Jack to find parking, a miracle among the busy area, but they managed to find a couple of open spots after about ten minutes of looking.
Will sat with his glasses on, a security blanket, a wall between his own mind and that of any other. Once they'd parked, they all piled out of their vehicles and headed wordlessly into the basic Biology lab. When they arrived, Zeller, Price, and Katz were all sat outside of the lab itself, talking in hushed tones. They immediately grew silent as soon as they saw Will, looking despondent and apologetic.
Will opened his mouth to say or ask something of them but closed it soon after as if the words would never come. He looked down at his feet then at the door to the lab, his skin turning a sickly pale. Hannibal placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder and Will leaned into the touch.
"You don't have to go in there, you know," Hannibal said softly at his ear.
"I do," Will replied resolutely. "I absolutely have to. For her. If it is her."
"I'll be right here if you need me. Don't push yourself."
Will nodded, turning to look Hannibal in the eye. "Thank you."
Hannibal gave a short nod in response as Jack approached.
"Are you ready?" he asked, eyeing Will as if he might physically fall apart.
Will stole a deep breath and nodded curtly, standing still until Jack stepped forward and opened the door for him. The lab was large, the floor space filled with long, black-topped tables, each one with numerous storage drawers, and short metal seats. The walls that weren't made up of windows were lined with testing equipment and storage spaces filled with items like microscopes and labeled specimens.
Not too far inside the door, Will and Hannibal could see the body. It was displayed atop two of the tables that were pushed together. The chest was opened and the skin was pinned back so anyone viewing it could see the horrific work that was done inside as well as out. Will walked toward it slowly, a wave of nausea clearly overtaking him the more he saw of the scene.
Hannibal wanted to walk with him but was forced to stand at the doorway by Jack, only to watch from a distance. He could see that Will wouldn't be able to handle it, but he was going to try and it would break him like glass. Will sucked in a deep, calming breath before he reached up to remove his glasses. He closed his eyes and Hannibal tensed slightly, knowing that he wouldn't be able to go through with it.
Less than a minute later, Will returned to his conscious mind with a gasp and immediately started gagging. He dropped to his knees, shoulders heaving, and wretched onto the clean floors. Jack and Hannibal rushed to his side as he barely held himself up off the floor with shaky arms. Hannibal grasped one of his arms and helped him to his feet and Will threw his arms around Hannibal's shoulders for support as he sobbed into the crook of his neck. Hannibal held onto him as if no one was watching, even though everyone was. If he didn't give Will the support he needed, the trust between them wouldn't remain strong enough. Their relationship needed to be solid if he wanted it to survive the fall.
"Oh God, Hannibal," Will said, his voice muffled and broken between sobs. "It was her. It's her."
"It will be all right," Hannibal replied.
"H-how? She didn't deserve this. No one does."
"She will have justice," Hannibal said, speaking softly just for him to hear, like the voice of a conscience. "If not by the FBI, then by us."
Hannibal led Will out of the room, not allowing anyone to speak to him for fear of further damaging his already fragile state, or so he said. He just knew he couldn't allow anyone else to give him emotional support. He was the only person Will could rely on and he needed him to believe it. They reached Hannibal's car in the parking lot minutes later just as Will's sobs started to subside into a dead stare and occasional sniffles.
Hannibal looked at his car and then out at the heavy traffic. "Are you able to take both us and the car back to my home?"
Will stared emotionlessly at the vehicle in front of him before turning his cold eyes to Hannibal and nodding. They both climbed in and Will grabbed onto the dashboard as he uncurled his wings. A moment later, they were sitting in Hannibal's driveway and the silence in the air grew deafening.
They sat there, unmoving, for several long seconds until Will spoke. "What did you mean by we could give her justice?"
Hannibal hesitated in his answer, looking for the words to motivate rather than ones that might scare away. "Would you not want to? Without you, without what you glean from these crime scenes, will they catch him? Would just catching him be satisfying enough?"
"…No. It wouldn't be. He deserves more…" Will said slowly, his anger bubbling up into his tone.
"And who would be the one to give him that?"
"Me," he growled. He turned to Hannibal, a fire burning in his eyes. "I'm going to find him and do worse than what he did to her."
"You won't have to do it alone," Hannibal said.
He looked out of the windshield toward the front of his home where he spotted a figure inside, brushing past one of his windows so quickly it could've been a trick of the light. An involuntary rush of air entered Hannibal's lungs, a pained sound, as if he'd been burned. Will turned to him, a concerned expression on his face.
"What is it?"
"It seems we have uninvited guests," Hannibal replied as he popped open his door and exited the car.
Will followed close behind as Hannibal walked up to his front door and threw it open. Just inside, a serious-looking man and woman outlined in bright light turned to see them entering the house. They both wore all white suits that were so blindingly pristine, Hannibal wanted to look away, but he refused to break eye contact. Both of them had harsh, unforgiving faces that would've been enough to set any human on edge. The woman had brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and dark brown eyes and the man had short blond hair and blue eyes.
Hannibal shut the door behind them without looking away as the two of them approached in unison, practically backing Will and Hannibal against the door. Will glanced between Hannibal and the two of them, genuinely confused.
"What's going on? What's the council doing here?" Will said.
The two of them who were staring down Hannibal as if they hoped he would burst into flame turned to look at him. "We're here for you, William," the woman said, her voice commanding the room.
"Why?" Will demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
"You drew attention to yourself, Will. When you healed me," Hannibal said.
"We've reviewed your time on Earth and your current situation and have unanimously chosen to charge you on two counts of treason," the man stated simply, his expression remaining unreadable.
Will's resolve crumbled into disbelief. His arms dropped to his sides and his eyes widened as he looked to Hannibal, clearly pleading for help. Hannibal shot him an apologetic look. There was nothing he could do and nothing he wanted to do.
"What are the charges!? What do you think I did?"
The woman reached inside of her suit jacket and extracted a folded piece of paper. She flattened it out and read from it in a flat, emotionless tone. "William, of the chosen name Will Graham, son of God, has been charged with treason by way of aiding a known traitor and enemy of Heaven, one Hannibal, of the chosen name Hannibal Lecter, banished son of God."
Will's expression ranged through various stages of incredulousness and denial as she read aloud. He turned to Hannibal in search of an explanation. "Traitor? Banished!? Hannibal… you're fallen?"
Hannibal did his best to look both hurt and ashamed. "There was never a right time to tell you."
"No! Of course not! When would there be?"
Will threw his arms in the air dramatically and walked away, brushing by the two members of the council of Heaven. He could see him struggling to come to terms with the situation; he could see his trust wavering. Hannibal could only hope it was strong enough to hold together. After all, he didn't want to have to kill him.
"What did you do?" Will asked as he turned back around, his voice rising in pitch.
"NO! You are the only person I have left to put my trust into so you stop lying right now," Will said, his voice echoing through every corner of the house.
Hannibal paused, looking him over. He turned to the woman who still held out the paper as her and her partner watched the explosion of emotion with growing disinterest. "Read him his second charge."
"That doesn't answer my question," Will interrupted as she was about to speak.
"It will," Hannibal said calmly.
He nodded to her to continue and she waited for a moment in case of further interruption. When no one moved or spoke, she looked down at the paper and read verbatim. "He has also been charged with treason by way of the consumption of human flesh against the expressed orders of God Himself.
"After a long deliberation between the council, we have determined his punishment for the crimes in question is to be expelled from the kingdom of Heaven to live out the rest of his days on Earth," she finished, folding up the paper and returning it to her jacket.
"Eating people?" Will exclaimed, his emotions running high into hysteria. "And you're kicking me out? Don't I even get a trial?"
"There is no need for a trial, we see your crimes," the man stated. "Just as we saw his many centuries ago."
Hannibal could see all of the questions and emotions piling up inside Will with no idea which to express first. He collapsed to his knees and held his face in his hands. "This is your fault," Hannibal heard him whisper. "Why? Why would you do this to me?"
"NO! DON'T TALK TO ME," he screamed as the two angels approached his kneeling form.
"We must return now, so we'll make this quick, William," the woman said.
He looked up at them with the purest hate in his eyes. "Just do it," he hissed.
The man placed a firm hand on Will's forehead and concentrated. A blinding light began to emit from his palm, seeping into Will, through him. His body lit up like the sun as the light filled and burned him. A scream tore its way through him, starting out as any normal man would scream under extreme duress before slowly turning into white noise that caused the glass of Hannibal's windows to shatter. Will's wings emerged, the muscles as tense and in pain as those in the rest of his body. The grey and white feathers shook as the light touched them until they caught fire.
Hannibal flinched at the sight, remembering his own banishment. He wanted to help Will, truly, but they wouldn't let him get close while they were there. Finally, as a few blackened feathers started to fall from Will's back, the man let go and the two angels disappeared. Hannibal swiftly removed his jacket as Will slumped forward and used it to put out the flames. He quickly assessed the damage after, some bad burns, lost feathers, but not unusable. Will had been spared the worst.
Still, he remained on the floor, holding himself up with his hands lest he collapse completely. Hannibal moved around to kneel down before him but Will refused to look at him. Out of nowhere, Will pulled back a fist directed at Hannibal's face, but Hannibal caught it in his own hand and used his free one to force Will to look at him.
"Will," he said as he tried to pull away from him. Hannibal dropped Will's hand and used it to hold Will's face with both. "Will, listen to me."
"You're the Chesapeake Ripper, aren't you," he said weakly.
"Yes. I am."
"You got me kicked out of my home… by my own family…"
"They were never family to you," Hannibal said, speaking softly and carefully. "I am your family. Do you think they ever loved you?"
Will stared at him with an emptiness that said he didn't know anything to be true anymore. "I don't know."
"They say they do to keep you in line. They feed you scraps of love so you don't disobey their rules."
"Wh-Why eat people, though? I don't get it…"
Hannibal released Will's face and stood up from the floor. He grabbed Will's arms to steady him and helped him up too before leading him into the living room. He sat Will down and grabbed a chair so he could face him.
"I do what God refuses to do. I care for His creations," Hannibal said as soon as he knew he had Will's attention.
"How is that caring for them?" Will asked, his expression nearing disgust.
"He made them and loves them but He lets them all run free and rampant, to govern by their own flawed rules and laws. The innocent and kind are left at the mercy of the guilty, the rude, the criminals. Their system works occasionally, but not well enough. God doesn't understand that the bad should be weeded out so the good can live happily," Hannibal paused, looking Will over. "If God had taken care of the man who murdered Alana, she would still be alive and well as she deserved to be."
Will frowned, his mind working hard to process what he said. "But… it's not God's place to interfere…"
"No, of course not," Hannibal said, leaning forward as he clasped his hands together. "So, I made it mine and I was banished for it. But I made the world safer, Will. Just as we discussed. I continue to do so."
"By eating them?"
"It's a way to dispose of the remains by turning death into life. In the end, these bad examples of human beings were made useful. I don't hate humans, Will. Quite the opposite. I am so fond of them that I do all of this for them."
Hannibal watched Will carefully, every movement and reaction. He was broken, bent, and bruised just enough that he could see the logic in it. He knew he had nowhere else to go and he and Hannibal were one in the same, after all. Two angels, fallen from Heaven for what they saw as trying to do good. At least that's how Will was trying to rationalize it. There was only one path and it ran straight into Hannibal's open arms.
"You could too," Hannibal said as Will stared down at his hands.
He slowly looked up into Hannibal's eyes and Hannibal saw willingness and desperation. He saw the strings attached to his limbs that Heaven had cut loose and Hannibal picked them up and tied one to each of his fingers, able to play him so easily. He did love Will just as he knew Will loved him, but it was a love that depended on him being completely under his spell. The way Will stared, looking for guidance and hope, he knew there would be no more problems there.
He stood and held out his hand to Will who grabbed it with only minor hesitation. Hannibal pulled him into a hug, wrapping his arms around Will's shoulders and Will threw his whole body into it as if he wasn't able to stand on his own anymore. With a faint flutter, Hannibal extended his dark wings and shrouded Will in a protective cocoon.
"We will find justice for Alana in killing the man that killed her. We will make this world a better place," Hannibal said.
"Okay," Will said almost inaudibly as he buried his face in Hannibal's neck and choked back belated sobs.
They found the killer, Brian Dillard, in his rundown apartment on the third floor of an older building in Philadelphia. He was curled up on his stained couch, whispering to nothing but the air around them when Will knocked on the door. He'd lost it after Alana, after he'd been forced into a kill. He refused to open the door for them but they'd expected that. After a few minutes of trying, Will kicked the door in and marched inside, gun raised.
Hannibal stayed back, hovering in the doorway, both because he was Will's to kill and he didn't need poor, delusional Brian recognizing him in the midst of it. Brian clutched his head as he sank back into the ugly, plaid couch as if he thought he might melt into it. Will approached carefully, taking slow steps so as not to provoke him. Will cocked back the hammer of his gun and Brian whimpered, shaking like a sickly child in the winter.
"Think about the other people in the building, Will," Hannibal warned. "We're not alone."
Will glanced back, looking slightly annoyed, but unlocked the hammer and stowed away his gun. Instead, he drew a sharpened knife from a leather sheath and pounced on top of Brian, pinning him to the couch.
"Oh God, please don't kill me," Brian whispered as he saw the blade. "Please don't. No."
"Is that what Alana Bloom said when you murdered her?" Will growled, his feathers ruffling in irritation.
"I'm sorry about that. So sorry. About them all." Tears welled up in his eyes and spilled over onto the sallow skin of his face.
Will grabbed Brian by the throat and slammed his head against the arm of the couch. "I bet you are now, but apologies aren't enough. I don't want to hear them."
With a knee firmly planted on Brian's chest, he forced open his mouth and grabbed his tongue, pulling it out as far as it would go. Without a moment's hesitation, Will cut Brian's tongue from his mouth and watched as he started to gag on the pool of blood that spurted out. Will climbed off of him and forced him forward so that the blood spilled out onto the couch and floor.
"Don't die on me yet, you're not allowed that luxury. How long did your victims stay alive as you mutilated them?" Will spat in disgust.
Brian gurgled an indistinguishable answer.
"We're going to keep you alive for a lot longer. Hannibal," he said, looking up briefly, "take our friend back home. I'll clean up here."
Hannibal stepped in and grabbed Brian firmly by the arm, forcing him to his feet. Brian, wide-eyed and making frantic noises, had no choice but to go with him despite attempts to wriggle his way out of Hannibal's hold. He was too weak and scared and light-headed from blood loss.
"Hello, Brian," Hannibal said with a smile.
Brian opened his mouth to call for help when Hannibal transported them both to his home where no one would hear his unintelligible screams. Will arrived soon after, drained of the energy it took for him to use his wings after the fall. Still, his anger and guilt kept him going, kept him strong enough to take it all out on Brian who lasted about five hours under torture with Hannibal's help.
"Do you feel any better?" Hannibal asked as Will sat against a wall of Hannibal's kitchen, blood staining his skin and clothes.
Will stared up at him, considering the question before slowly shaking his head. Hannibal dropped the rag he was using to wipe his own hands free of Brian's blood before reaching out to Will. He pulled the broken angel into his arms before kissing him in an attempt to distract from the pain. Their wings appeared, Hannibal's strong and well-kept while Will's still looked frail, the ends of the feathers singed a permanent black like an infection of darkness on his once pure soul.
Killing, Hannibal knew, grew easier with practice and pain always faded into nothingness along with memories long since passed. He had Will for the long run, for all of eternity, and together they would scrub the Earth free of imperfections.
"You will in time," Hannibal assured as he pressed his forehead to Will's, looking deep into his eyes.
And, of course, Will believed him.