AN-All info is provided by Wikipedia. I do not own it or Hannibal.

"O Fortuna" is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the 13th century, part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about fate and Fortuna, a goddess in Roman mythology and the personification of luck. It was set to music and is one of the most recognizably operas today. O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis Translation-
O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
I felt it was fitting for the mood of the story.
NO BETA

oOo

"Every brutal choice has elegance…..grace. The Ripper is an artist. A performer.".

Hannibal had to use ever fiber of his iron clad control not to react to the indirect admiration. Behind his façade of calm, cool, and so utterly collected professionalism, he could feel his inner monster, his true self, awake unbidden, unfolding itself within its shell so that its claws started to scrape down along the sides of its person suit. It wanted to peek out through carefully half lidded eyes at the man….no, the other monster in the room.…the one who had seen it for what it was and was complimenting it. Hannibal was surprised to realize that the beast just wanted to look though, not touch, not react. There was no hunger there, just a curious need to peer from out behind his human eyes.

"Dr. Lector, are you all right?" were the hesitant words that snapped Hannibal out of his daze, the cannibal tapping down his monstrous self. Will was too focused on him to risk exposing the entire game right now.

"My apologies. I was just caught off guard that you would ever refer to a killer in such becoming terms." Hannibal spoke in half truths and a surprising amount of honesty. He reminded himself to try and stay humble while doing so.

"Usually I wouldn't but the Ripper…" Will sighed, accepting Hannibal's excuse of his attentive lapse. "…but this killer…..he has a definitive voice, powerful yet haunting. He's an old hand at his metier. He has been practicing and honing his craft for years. Whether it is appreciated or not, the Ripper is giving us a performance. An aria, if you will, in blood."

The beast inside purred, rumbling Hannibal's ribs from the force of the sound as it started to preen, talons clicking against scale. Hannibal struggled not to follow through with the feeling, at the most running a hand through his hair as if to fix the already immaculate coif. It was a risk but Will was too busy pacing to really notice the hidden killer's tell. His little mongoose was manically chasing its tail, sensing the snake somewhere in the room.

"He is putting on a show for his own self amusement, or at least he was. No one else was in on the joke before or were too busy glamorizing the gore to notice the deeper meanings behind the acts. In the past, this made the Ripper flippant in his humor, more sardonic and dark in tone if you can believe that.", Will rambled on, talking as much with his hands as with his quick words. Hannibal shifted in his chair, subtly bracing his feet against the floor to keep himself properly upright. It simply wouldn't do for him sway, though it was a new sensation being recognized, his performances judged, his humor noted and considered. Will was seeing him, or at least the most fierce aspect of him, was truly seeking him out where others had merely glanced.

No, not glanced. The few and far between that had seen his true self for what it was had run away screaming. Or had at least tried to. Will though….Will was staring directly at him and he kept right on looking. There in lied the problem though. Hannibal was a dark sun to the Will's fading moon, threatening to be eclipsed by it. As an explorer, if Will just took a step back, he would see the entirely of what Hannibal was in balance with the rest of the universe.

It was only a matter of time. Either Will would go blind staring into the sun or he would realize he had been orbiting Hannibal this entire time. The question now was did Hannibal let his Galileo lose his sight, or did he give him the keys to his bloody kingdom.

"You speak well of Jack's problem. What does he think of that? Of you waxing pleasantly about the Ripper?" Hannibal prodded. Jack would not be pleased if he thought Will was beginning to empathize with the Ripper in a way that was not conducive to his capture.

"Jack…." Will's face fell, stress eating new lines into the empath's face around tired blue eyes that threatened to fade to gray. "Jack wants to wrap my head so tight around the Ripper I won't be able to rest until he is caught. So that I can't think of anything else, anyone else. To find Jack's killer, I need to breathe in his very essence into myself, this poisonous miasma of cold instinct and vicious purpose. If I am to do that on a constant basis, I can not think of him as evil. Poison is not evil, merely its application, or more accurately, the misuse of its application.".

"So you are building up a tolerance then, taking in a little bit more of this poison every day?" Hannibal ventured, not knowing whether or not to be amused.

"Yes, in a way. Every murder, every performance is a new dose." Will muttered, the words meant more for himself than his audience but were overheard anyway. "At this rate, I might be becoming a junkie."

"In his reckless haste, Jack would have you overdose.", Hannibal observed. "You need to be more careful taking in so much as once. It will overwhelm you when you least expect it. Poison is tricky that way."

Will gave some noncommittal noise of mixed agreement seeped with disgust in passing answer. "Jack has you looking for monsters at every turn but tell me how you see the Ripper." Hannibal asked, feeling like he was shamelessly digging for compliments. He got to watch as Will came to a stop, the empath staring off into the distance at something that only he could see. He was quiet for so long, Hannibal wondered if the man had slipped into a catatonic state when he wasn't looking.

"Endurant.", Will said abruptly, coming back to life. "He is first and foremost a survivor in every extent and meaning of the word. He will do anything to continue existing. The rules that a society lives by are fragile, weak things to him. To the Ripper, they are made up concepts, breakable and bendable tools that he will use only when its convenient or beneficial to him. Because of this, he will hide in plain sight, his disguise seamless in design and construction, the world moving around him none the wiser of the threat."

"He will be beautiful….." Will paused, his eyes flitting about over the personification that refused to come together wholly in his head. He was getting there though, slowly but surely. "Beautiful but not in the normal sense of the word. He'll be attractive in some way, shape, form, or fashion. He will have a profession where he can be admired but not just for his physical appearance. A job or pastime were he can be appreciated from afar, from such lofty heights, a station or place of power. Something with a title that denotes intellect, though with some form of separation from the masses and the rabble."

"Being an intellectual and hunter, he will have poise. He will be in complete control of his kingdom, his space." Will could feel it. He was so close, his mental pathways clicking into place as they painted in the gaps, the Ripper finally coming into view. Will closed his eyes, letting the pendulum swing, clearing out everything that was not the Ripper disappear.

"He will have refinement. His personal standards will allow for nothing less and will expect others to adhere to these unofficial rules set by him. Those who do not or dare to offend him will be eliminated. It is the way of the world, his world." Will's eyes flew open. The answer was clear.

"You are the design."

It was then that Hannibal realized that Will keeping direct eye contact with him and had been this entire time, unwavering as moonrise. Will wasn't just looking anymore. He was seeing.

"You have never heard anyone appreciate your art before have you?", Will said softly. He was tense, but that was to be expected upon noticing the lion in the room, his body tense and prepared for the imminent fight or flight between them. To his credit though, Will's manner remained mild, almost oddly poignant in temperament. The man was a survivor in his own right, his mind fending off every monster that threatened to pull what was left of his psyche under a constant surface of blood, pain, and death. Will knew he was deep in the heart of the spider's web, his odds of coming out of this alive slim to none.

Sizing up his mongoose, Will looked as if he would be quick. He might even make it to the door in time but not out of the waiting room. Hannibal was more than used to chasing down prey. Will had the option for going for his gun as well, but he was unsure of what arsenal Hannibal had hidden within his reach. A thrown blade or even heavy enough book, of which there were many in Hannibal's office, could be just as effective as a bullet when thrown by the right person.

So they talked.

"The point of art is to express an opinion and change the world around it, not to seek validation. That is simply a byproduct like criticism and adversely devotion." Hannibal said lightly, beginning the dance of words between them.

Will licked his cracked lips as he rubbed his stubbly jaw line with a surprisingly steady hand. "Appreciation is a form of payment for effort and time placed into each piece. Is it still art if no one looks at it?" he parried back.

"Painted vividly enough, how can anyone resist a display dripping with saturation? It is simply human nature to be drawn to conflicts in color. Over time, the message eventually becomes apparent, at least to a few." Hannibal said, watching Will maintain a careful distance between them. Prudent but it was an ultimately useless gesture in the grand scheme of things.

"Isn't the subject matter relevant to its creator, in direct correlation with its god? Or will it be merely remembered for its obscene vulgarity? Messages can be overlooked, camouflaged, or even lost entirely if the delivery is flawed." was as close as Will had ever come to openly insulting Hannibal where it really hurt. The only movement from the physiatrist was the narrowing of his eyes but that was more than enough to convey his building rage. Will met the slitted look with his own mild one. "I'm calling your medium into question, not your sense of style. Not your voice."

"I did not chose my method. It was chosen for me. I simply learned to work with what I was given." Hannibal said in a stiff tone, placated but still prickly.

"So am I to be your muse or your clay?" Will asked wistfully, already having a bad feeling about the answer.

"I would prefer you to be my equal, a co creator. At the very least, a patron of the arts." Hannibal admitted, pleased Will had found the courage to ask the hard question. "You have the keen potential for the former."

Will stared back, considering the doctor's words well. They had merit and even worse, truth but Will was very familiar with his kind of crazy. "My 'talent' lies elsewhere." he smiled sadly, looking somewhat disappointed by the admittance but if Hannibal wasn't going to lie anymore, he wasn't either.

"You could be so much more though.", Hannibal said softly. He found himself wanted this, this connection between them, earned for it like he had never wanted anything before.

"That is your design, not mine.", Will pointed out with a rueful grin, watching as he destroyed Hannibal's most intimate of wishes. "I know what you have been doing….trying to do."

Hannibal bowed his head in acknowledgement. "I guess the only question that remains then is, what now? Do I kill you or do you kill me?"

"There in lies the problem. I don't want to do either." Will sighed, sitting across from Hannibal once again. Hannibal had to give credit where credit was due. Let it never be said that Will was a coward. Braver, saner men would have tried to flee by now.

"Why?", Hannibal mused and amused.

"Short answer- You're the only one who treats me like…..like I'm real. Like I'm normal." Will mumbled, pained by his own words, his own self truths.

"You are not, you know. You are like me, wearing a person suit.", Hannibal observed, getting a laugh out of Will, a sharp barking sound.

"Person suit? I like that. Mine has always felt…..confining." Will chuckled darkly, "So what am I, Doctor? Monster or mongoose? Fine china or chipped mug? Light, air, and color or dark, spillage, and ruin?"

"What do you want to be, Will?" Hannibal asked, genuinely curious.

"Normal." Will said with a dying quirk of a self deprecating smile.

"I do not appreciate having my time wasted. Give me a real answer or we will end this session now." Hannibal frowned, letting the real implications of his words speak for themselves.

"An honest answer? Like you have been honest with me?" Will shot back.

"I'm honest.", Hannibal countered.

"Not really. A half truth is still a lie" Will pointed out, eerily reminding Hannibal of another poignant conversation. "No. As tempting as it is, I can not be what you want me to be."

Hannibal sighed, resolving himself to end this quickly. Will deserved that much respect or so he thought until the empath started to speak again.

"I could be your patron though….your guardian, if you will allow me to. Every artist need an audience and the support that comes with that." Will said. "And it doesn't make me any less of a monster. I'm just a different breed." Hannibal found himself holding his breath in anticipation. He felt as if something momentous was about to happen.

"I like to watch."

Feeling momentarily faint, Hannibal took in a deep breath of air as the deeper meaning of the empath's words sunk in. The reality of it all was truly magnificent in its entirety when he allowed himself to finally and freely think about it. Will's abilities added a new dimension to his art, one that Hannibal would have to consider and think about from now on. He would have to incorporate that knowledge into all of his future performances. No artist could ask for a more attentive audience that a patron who could see every view point involved from victim to killer and everyone else in between.

Warmed within by this new insight, Hannibal watched as Will rose his seat, crossing the space between them so that he stood before him, invading his personal space. Unasked, Hannibal accommodated him by uncrossing his legs so that Will could stand between them, which he did so, the empath moving in even closer. Rough hands tipped with thoroughly chewed fingernails reached out to cup Hannibal's face, gently tipping it upward. Hannibal let him, curious to see what Will was planning to do. Damaged lips brushed against his own silken ones in answer, the kiss between them brief, a dry passing of skin over skin.

It was enough for now, Will resting their foreheads against each other, his hands still framing Hannibal's face, his calloused thumbs rubbing up against prominent cheek bones. "Are we men pretending to be monsters or monsters pretending to be men?" Will whispered. This up close, Hannibal could scent him fully, the empath smelling of sweetly of fever, dampness that only comes from rain mingled with sweat, and old earth, the kind found in forgotten cemeteries and wild woods. The underlying spice of it held the warmth of cinnamon, the bite of cayenne, and the intrigue of contained psychosis which oddly enough reminded Hannibal of having star anise notes to it. He found its bouquet intoxicating.

Smiling, Hannibal leaned into the touch, the hold upon him, his own hands finding their way to Will's sides. Long, artistic fingers curving into the flesh of slim hips under baggy clothing, holding Will fast into place.

"Does it matter?"