Disclaimer: The characters and concepts in this story are the property of Thomas Harris, Bryan Fuller, and their related affiliates. This is an amateur writing effort meant for entertainment purposes only.

Summary: You can take the man out of the psychiatric hospital, but you can't take the psychiatric hospital out of the man. Will recovers from Baltimore after his release. Post-Savoureux.

Author's Notes: Shantih is described as a great, overwhelming state of peace.

"Shantih shantih shantih"

~The Wasteland (V 433)


He hobbles along the hospital corridor. Past dusk, the floor is quiet. The occasional nurse or doctor makes their way from the main station to a patient's room. Will passes by without so much as a glance. He's become a permanent fixture in the wing. The world has forgotten about him just as he has forgotten about it.

The pain in his abdomen is fading. Will still wakes up prying at the skin though, because the itch remains, buried deep between his organs. A piece of the knife lodged in his flesh forever perhaps, or the doctor's phantom fingers prying at him from Baltimore. One of the two. He is going to be released soon, but no one will clarify as to whether that's a euphemism for transfer.

(He can make two laps of the floor now before his legs start shaking. Given enough time, Will expects to walk out of the hospital when the doctors aren't looking and disappear for real this time.)

"Mr. Graham?"

Will responds out of habit and only just. He stops walking and looks back to the feet of the attending standing several paces behind. "I know it's late, but you have a visitor."

He is tired of visitors. Alana spends more time at his bedside than she does at work. Jack's wife comes in his stead. Bev stays for old movies. Will can't retreat with all these wandering eyes and grasping hands. He directs a hardened gaze towards the visitor's chest, preparing a curt apology and dismissal as he does so, but he never gets the chance. The silver jewellery, the polite attire, the watery stare swallow up any rebuttal he might develop.

"Hello, Will," she says kindly.

He greets the floor, "Hello, Dr. Lampman."

"I'm sorry about the late hour." She's not. Lampman chose the hour intentionally. She knows Will is more cogent at night than he is during the day. "I have been meaning to come visit you. Tonight seemed as good a time as any."

Will holds his pose, a rock against the rising tide. He wishes there were words that would make her leave, words that wouldn't hurt her more than he already has. There aren't. Words are in pathetically short supply.

Lampman comes with plenty, and she shares them openly with Will. "May I walk with you?"

He musters a nod, if the quick, jerking movements of his head could be called that. Lampman thanks the doctor and takes her place at his side. Her stride is inconsistent now, the left leg lags, but she has otherwise recovered from her ordeal without incident.

Will lets her occupy a void in his vision. He doesn't so much glance her way as they creep around the corridor. Lampman, as per usual, allows him to set the pace and tone for their time together. She is content to be regarded as empty air. At least Will's responding to her.

One lap is enough to cripple Will in her presence. He finds himself increasingly dependent on his IV stand. Gravity is gaining force, dragging him back into the ground. He finally has to come out with it, even if the words aren't quite right. "I didn't want to hurt you," Will says breathlessly. He comes to a halt near his room and finally looks at her (well, at her folded hands). His tics come back in full force. "I shouldn't have done…what I did. I shouldn't…and I'm sorry."

Lampman is too calm. Will wants fury, deserves scorns, has earned some level of resentment, but aside for the slight pain in her expression, Lampman remains accepting, open. "Thank you, Will," she replies. "I appreciate that."

He wants to scream. There's a good one building under the hook-shaped gash running across his waist. Lampman's unerring gentility sets him on edge. "Why are you here?" Will demands. "You aren't looking for an apology. Why are you here?"

"You're still my patient."

"A formality, Dr. Lampman. And an unnecessary one."

"Why do you say that?"

"I'm fine. I'm fine!" his throat closes, refusing to say more.

Lampman stares him down. It doesn't take much to cast fissures on Will's fragile mental state. He starts to crack the second he finishes speaking, and her gaze causes what little repair work he's done to burst. Will chokes for breath, clasping in vain at all the many hurts he's experiencing. "I...need…to get out of here. Out of me, out of this hospital…he's…he's still alive. We're both in that basement together now, and it's killing me. But I can't go to another hospital. I can't deal with any more doctors."

Her silence is so forgiving. Will feels himself diffusing, feels the walls he's built up slowly start to expand. The crushing weight of his self-imposed imprisonment ceases to hold him down. "You were good for me, Dr. Lampman," he breathes. "I wish we had met when I needed something good for me."

"What about now?" Lampman offers.

Will laughs. "I assaulted you, Doctor. The same night I assaulted my previous psychiatrist…" he hasn't noticed the consistency of his actions until now. "You might be good for me, but I'm not good for you."

"I'm a psychiatrist, Will. None of my patients are good for me."


Lampman flashes one of her characteristic micro-smiles. The image fades as quickly as it appears. "I won't force you to come back to Bethesda."

"I'm not going back."

"Your doctors are insisting that you receive psychiatric treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder though. I don't disagree with them. Do you?"

Will can't. He knows the signs of depression: the apathy, the dreaminess, the sleeplessness. PTSD has been chasing him since Hobbs, so that's nothing new. "I feel better when I'm sick," he admits. "People bother me less."

"People don't go away just because you're sick."

"I can go away because I'm sick."

"You want justification."

"I want liberation."

"Let me help you, Will."

He has to lean against the wall for support. The IV stand requires too much of his strength to grip. Lampman hovers but not claustrophobically. Will still has the ability to walk away from her if he can find the strength. "I can't go back to who I was," he says. "I don't even know who that was anymore."

"I don't know who that was either," Lampman agrees. Her intention is to draw him forward, not pull him back. The exact opposite of Hannibal.

Will considers her. Considers the offer, the implications, the risks. "It's not like-" he laughs, "It's not like I can do any worse than right now."

Lampman, mercifully, doesn't respond to that. "Think about it," she says. "I understand if you would prefer another physician."

He nods, mouth dry. The thought of having his brain worked on is unappealing even in his depressed state, but Will can't deny that if he's ever come close to being free, Lampman's the one who got him there. He glances into her eyes in thanks, then peers down the hall.

"I'm supposed to make another lap," he says.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

Will shakes his head. No, he doesn't mind. In fact, Lampman's presence bolsters him to the point where he can keep going. He pushes off from the wall and begins the long walk around.

Some parting thoughts:

Part of the reason the writing in these chapters is so non-specific is because of Will's state of mind. Depression and post-traumatic stress do cause fatigue, disorientation, loss of energy and interest, and disassociation.

The final fight between Will and Hannibal is based on the account provided in Red Dragon. The curved blade Hannibal uses is supposed to be a linoleum knife.

Stewart is based on information from the novel too. Apparently, Will was accompanied by an Officer Stewart at Hannibal's house. Stewart ended up leaving law enforcement and managing a hotel after seeing Lecter's basement. I think Lecter is being sarcastic when he praises Stewart in the book, but I decided that she should be a genuine opponent for him.

I really hope that you have enjoyed this fic. It is a real joy to hear back from so many readers. This has been one of the longest running stories I've completed in a long time, and I could not have done that without support. Thank you for joining me on the he-ate-us! Your kind words and readership are greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing you all around the site. Thank you so much!