"You're taking his dogs? All of them?"
"Yes. Is that a problem?"
"What do you mean? He has seven."
"… They belong to Will."
It was late when she arrived home. Alana unlatched her screen door and stepped over the threshold only to be met with the wagging tails of a pack of dogs. They crowded her, cool snouts nuzzling her forearm and handbag. Though still upset with everything that had transpired, the corner of her mouth tilted up in a half-smile and she ran a hand lazily through the thick coat of an Aussie, closing the door behind her.
"You guys thirsty?"
Pets weren't exactly her forte; she'd spent more time around colleagues, students and children then animals in any case. Still, she didn't regret volunteering to keep them. They were sweet animals, neither vicious nor trained to attack. The dogs were kind – the way that Will had taught them to be.
Their tongues lapped up the cool water that she'd taken and poured into several saucers.
Occasionally, Alana would glance over from the loveseat she'd collapsed on to catch the sight of one of them sniffing curiously at a potted plant, or another licking at a front paw. It took awhile before they stopped roaming around the space of her living room and settled themselves to sleep near the unlit hearth. The brunette felt her stomach tighten just a bit as she watched the closely-knit dogs – one was practically piled upon the other as they slept.
They were a family; but of course they weren't gathered around her at the sofa. She wondered how much they missed Will… and if they felt lonely. She felt even worse when she thought about Will feeling that way.
Alana shook the thought away, turning her attention back to the journal cradled in hand before burying her nose into yet another encephalitis text.
Will Graham couldn't see the storm, but he could hear it.
The ceilings were arched and high in the third-story room so that all of the sounds seemed to echo and bounce off of one another. With his eyes closed he could hear the wind, the heavy splatter of water upon shingles, and the sound of hail driving against the roof. It wasn't a peaceful shower… it bothered him. It was actually scary. One of his hands subconsciously gripped and twisted at the cloth of an expensive sheet. The other soon followed suit.
Lines marred his forehead and he kept his eyes pressed shut. He hadn't slept. Instead he would lie still and occasionally remember something he preferred not to have remembered. He pushed the most recent of memories back and kept attempting to think about things that weren't terrifying. Not of storms, or of Minnesota, or of the hospital, or of Doctor Lecter -
Doctor Lecter, and the strong fingers of broad hands roughly entwined into the mess of hair at the base of his neck.
Doctor Lecter, and the light scrape of canines upon the flesh of his bared throat, his tongue sweeping over a delicate pulse point.
Doctor Lecter, whispering words against his lips that he could not remember over the swirl of distorted noise that had swept over his conscious.
These were the things he did not want to think of, and the things he did not want to remember.
He didn't understand. Didn't want to, either.
Thunder would have been better received than that of the deep accent that cut through the room, disrupting his troubled thoughts.
"Will – " the voice began, and the young man startled in reaction as his captor finished his thought, "I am afraid the rain will continue on throughout the night."
Will Graham had scrambled upright, opening his eyes.
Hannibal lingered in the doorway; apparently the click of the unlocked knob had been drowned out by the storm. Lecter offered to him a mere sliver of a smile and a knowing look, watching the young agent's features shift and twist through that of several different emotions – his expression a palette comprised of a variety of divine colors and sentiments.
"Is your heart still racing?"
Almost certainly, the man was referring to that thing he didn't want to think about. He didn't like it. Will swallowed. He sat there for a moment before he found himself shaking his head, the motion tense.
"Ah. You are frightened of the storm, then. Or perhaps another nightmare."
Maybe he wasn't fine, but it wasn't as though he wanted to talk about it. Will didn't want his words to sound strained either, but they had surely come out like that. He bit his tongue at the realization and looked away to focus on a panel of wood flooring.
"You do not look as though you are fine," the velvet tone pointed out, and Hannibal tilted his head to adopt an almost sympathetic expression.
"I do hate to see you in distress, Will."
Will couldn't help but laugh at that, finding it ironic; the faintest trace of hysteria etched itself into his tone, "Yeah, well – forgive me if I don't believe you."
Hannibal frowned slightly before stepping into the neat little room. Will abruptly stood in response, feeling unsteady on his feet and fearing for a moment that he would stumble and fall over. He didn't, to his surprise, instead finding himself unable to move and glued to the spot as his psychiatrist slowly approached him.
"They would have allowed you to rot in there," the smooth voice spoke, soft and silken, "… subject to whatever appalling atrocities Chilton dares label suitable treatment."
Will shook his head in confusion, a weary look planted on his features.
"You think that this is better?"
"I think I can protect you here."
Before he knew it the swirling sound in his head had returned. Hannibal was standing right in front of him. He twitched slightly and registered a gentle hand pushing unkempt bangs back from his forehead. The touch was cool in contrast to his feverant skin.
"You have a fascinating mind, my darling boy. And to have let it waste away in such a horrid environment would have been more than a mere shame."
Feeling his pulse begin to race, Will managed to turn his head from the man's touch in a small attempt to gather control of the situation. He wanted to push him away – to fight – but he couldn't. He found it difficult enough to speak his protest and it sounded more like a weak whimper as opposed to a demand.
"William," the accented purr tutted at him, reprimanding and controlled, "You shouldn't be rude."
Hannibal moved with Will, and the young agent could feel both hands resting heavy on his shoulders, fingers trailing down his arms in a soothing motion.
"What do you want then?"
Hannibal watched the muscles in Will's throat constrict as he swallowed; he could smell the apprehension and fear on his delicate little agent as easily as he'd detected his illness months beforehand. Everything about his Will was divine – and he wanted to contain him; to keep him; to create and change and sculpt him into an image as dark and as beautiful as his twisted, empathetic mind.
Doctor Lecter paused at that thought, drawing in his bottom lip for a fraction of second before answering. He took a hand from Will's arm and positioned it under his chin before tilting his face upwards – urging pale blue eyes to meet his dark ones.
Will didn't connect, but he settled his gaze on a high and defined cheekbone. Hannibal looked past this.
"I would like for you to open up to me as you have done before – reveal to me your most disconcerting thoughts, and allow me to listen and to guide you. It is nothing you haven't done before."
Will shifted under his hold and the weight of his stare. He didn't care whether or not he'd done it before. When it came right down to it, talking to Hannibal Lecter was exactly the sort of thing that landed him in this mess.
"I… I don't want to be here," he managed softly, turning his chin up and out of the light grasp.
He attempted to pull away but felt himself held still and restrained by two strong arms when he tried – his form swallowed by the larger one into what might have passed for an awkward excuse of a hug. One hand stroked his back in a comforting gesture; Hannibal nuzzled Will's shoulder and the crook of his neck for a while; breathing in his scent and listening only to the sound of the other man's unsteady breathing.
"That is your misfortune, dear one," he had whispered softly into the young empath's ear, "As I can assure you will not be leaving."
The office wasn't tasteful. Rather, it was more akin to a room stuffed full of degrees, medical journals, and encyclopedias openly put on display as if to advertise an egotistical level of conceit and false aptitude. It practically rang Frederick Chilton.
"I'm just curious as to why this hospital's precautionary measures still aren't up to standard considering its most recent incident with Dr. Gideon," Alana pointed out, arms crossed.
"I assure you that our standards are more than sufficient."
The middle-aged man who answered with practiced patience was serving as stand-in to a hospitalized Chilton. He laced his fingers together over the sturdy wood desk, occasionally glancing down at the files upon it. Jack all but barked back at him from across the room.
"And you can't tell me how this all managed to happen?"
He cocked his head, appearing relatively calm,"… If you are asking me to explain why we experienced a power failure and as a result of such a failure Will Graham managed to escape and murder the night staff - then no, I cannot."
Alana cast a look of disbelief towards Jack before speaking up again, her tone taut and her expression hard.
The sitting doctor scoffed, raising a brow, "For factors playing a part in this that were entirely beyond my control?"
"For failing to provide a secure and safe environment for an involuntarily admitted patient in a mental health unit," the brunette woman corrected with grit.
Alana had pushed for it –demanded that Jack look into the background of the hospital staff and anyone who had access to Will. Jack lacked her perspective, but agreed nonetheless. He didn't have a problem eliminating the alternatives, even if he doubted their existence to begin with. Just as well, he knew just how responsible he was. He'd been the one to pull him out of a classroom. He could admit that.
They shared a car back to the academy; Alana's eyes followed a river on her side of the road as she stared out of the window. She admired how calm it was. She imagined it cool and tranquil.
"I think you should consider taking a break from the case," the voice at her side started, pausing when the woman turned her head sharply to stare at him before adding on, " – just for awhile."
Lips pursed and eyes narrowed, she replied, "And are you suggesting this based off of what's best for me or yourself?"
"Alana, the team can cover this," and again he tacked on for the sake of temper, " - for awhile."
"Of course they can. Just like you covered Will."
Jack sighed, shaking his head, "Just because you let your relationship with Will become romantic…"
"Yes Alana, romantic!" the federal agent all but snapped back.
She fumed, eyes flickering, "It's not about me Jack. It's not about you!"
"I'm not saying it is," his tone rough as he turned the steering wheel, "I'm saying that when we find Will we're going to have a difficult time finding some evidence that doesn'tmake him look guilty as hell."
"Then I'll find it," she bit back, turning her head back to look out the window once more.
Silence was the tune for the rest of the ride to the academy. Both minds had been running rapid despite the lack of conversation. Alana nearly snapped the car door in half when she stepped out and shut it when they got into the parking lot. She gave Jack a sharp look before heading over to her own car.
"Don't you dare tell me to leave the case again. Ever."