None of the characters are mine, I'm just happy to borrow them.
Will clutched his coat around himself on his way down the hall. Someone had just left the building and let in a draft that went straight to the slight boy's bones. He stopped outside Dr. Lecter's classroom and took the time to straighten his teacher recommendation form before knocking on the door. He almost decided to run the other way and ask some other teacher for a recommendation, but he had already asked Dr. Bloom and Mr. Crawford and he needed a third recommendation. English was one of his better classes after all. No other teacher would be able to write something honest about him; he was too reserved in other classes. English allowed him to be expressive and he felt that Dr. Lecter appreciated his contributions to class discussions.
Will's contemplation was interrupted as Dr. Lecter opened his door and stepping back, invited the boy into the room.
"Will, good to see you. Please have a seat." Dr. Lecter pulled a seat over to the front of his desk for Will before taking his seat on the other side.
Will sat down and couldn't help fidgeting in his chair as he tried to casually avoid Dr. Lecter's eyes. Dr. Lecter studied the boy briefly before leaning forward. "Surely there is a reason for your after-school visit, will you tell me what it is?" Will bowed his head feeling nervous as he pushed the recommendation form across the desk.
"I was hoping you would write my third college recommendation letter." Purposely avoiding Dr. Lecter's face, Will could only listen attentively to the slight scrape of Dr. Lecter's cufflinks on the desk as he pulled the paper closer to himself. After a minute of relative silence Will risked a glance up to try to judge Dr. Lecter's reaction. As if he has been waiting for that moment, Dr. Lecter smiled and pulling a fountain pen out of his desk, signed the form before pushing it back across the desk.
"I am very pleased you asked me Will, you know that most students see me as too strict to give them a good recommendation. I have enjoyed your presence in my class thus far; I can't imagine I will have anything bad to say about you." Will looked up with a start as he put the form back in his bag. Dr. Lecter smiled calmly at Will's shocked expression. "You seem surprised Will. Yet you know you are the best contributor in class, and you are a polite student. The last is key to my good opinion." Dr. Lecter chuckled a bit at the last part and Will smiled shyly in reply.
"Thank you Dr. Lecter, I should really get home now." Will stood quickly and walked to the door. He never heard him get up, but Dr. Lecter was there beside him in an instant, opening the door for him.
"I have one small condition Will, you must join me at some point each day of the school week to talk. If I am recommending you, I feel I will need to know more about you than what I can glean from your class discussions."
Will panicked a little trying to think of a time when he would be able to talk to Dr. Lecter that wasn't after school. He had be home in time to feed and walk his dog, Frank, before it got dark, and today he was late enough it couldn't be repeated.
Dr. Lecter knew the boy was socially awkward and wouldn't be missed by any friend at lunch, sensing his distress Dr. Lecter invited Will to join him in his room at lunchtime.
"I don't want to keep you from eating with the other teachers." Will felt strangely about Dr. Lecter sacrificing his student-free mealtime to talk to him.
"I would not have suggested it if I was not willing to make the sacrifice. Since today is Monday we can begin our talks tomorrow and they will go on until I have sent off your letter. Agreed?"
"Yes, of course. Thank you again Dr. Lecter. Will rushed down the hall and out to his old car, anxious to get home and take care of Frank.
The next day Will passed by the college advisor's office and gave the elderly woman the signed recommendation forms. She glanced up at him quickly when she saw the one signed by Dr. Lecter but said nothing and filed them away.
Later, in class, Will couldn't decide how to act. Lunch was a class after English and Will wasn't sure why, but he felt like he was carrying some big secret. He had a little trouble focusing in English because he kept thinking about having lunch with Dr. Lecter and how no one else in the room knew they'd be eating together. Will wasn't accustomed to eating with anyone at lunch; he usually ate on a bench far from the lunch tables set up outside the cafeteria. He wondered what Dr. Lecter ate, if they would have to finish eating before talking, or if they'd talk throughout the meal.
After a particularly long moment of silence Will reemerged from his thoughts, embarrassed to find Dr. Lecter watching him. While the rest of the students were using their in-class-reading-day to catch up on the latest chapters of Crime and Punishment, Will had sat there staring into space. Dr. Lecter tilted his head to the side and blinked. Will felt like that blink was very purposeful, but not knowing what it meant he blushed and rushed to pull out his book.
Will was relieved when the bell rang; he had felt Dr. Lecter's eyes on him the entire time he had been trying to read. He was feeling tense and uncomfortable as he left for his next class, calculus with Dr. Bloom. Will couldn't help worrying that he had ruined any good impression Dr. Lecter had of him. He was so wrapped up in his anxiety that he ran into his desk and fell to the floor.
Dr. Bloom rushed over to him and helped him up. She studied him closely as he readjusted his glasses after taking a seat. He glanced up quickly to give her a rushed smile and she hesitantly turned away from him to walk back to the front of the room. The rest of class passed fine and Will was able to immerse himself in the equations and temporarily forget his anxieties. Only when the bell rang and he had his things packed away did his thoughts come back to crush him.
He could feel the sweat pooling and drenching his clothes as he make his way towards Dr. Lecter's classroom. He paused before knocking, wishing he could will away his embarrassing sweat patches, luckily his sweater was dark and didn't show much, but he felt it all and he wasn't sure if he smelled or not. Just a few seconds after he knocked, Dr. Lecter opened the door and gestured him in. Will could feel his teacher's eyes on his back as he made his way to the chair that was waiting for him. He really hoped he didn't smell.
As soon as Will was seated, Dr. Lecter began speaking.
"Will, I hope our…sessions…have not made class awkward for you in some way. You seemed to have trouble focusing in class today. It's very unlike you."
"Oh no, of course not." Will wasn't sure why he lied, but it just came out that way. He couldn't help tucking his chin down a bit more as he pulled his food containers out of his lunch box.
"Will, I hope you will refrain from being dishonest with me in the future. If these discussions are to be a successful look into who you are you shouldn't lie to me." Dr. Lecter sat down with his own lunch box; a deep burgundy that struck Will as perfectly suited to the man sitting across from him.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that. Yes, I was somewhat uncomfortable in class. It just felt odd, I'm sorry." Will raised his eyes to Dr. Lecter's face and focused on the bridge of his nose. Dr. Lecter opened a container to reveal some vegetables and a piece of meat that, to Will's untrained eye, looked something like a tongue.
"Will, you must not apologize for feeling uncomfortable. I should place some boundaries immediately that should help you feel surer of how to act around me in class. If you like, you can think of class as a precursor to our discussions. I would suggest separating class completely from our discussions, but I think that may prove difficult. I am your teacher Will, you cannot think of us as equals, but you may think of me as an older friend, given time. I will demand respect but I also want to gain your trust and I would like these discussions to be something you look forward to."
"Of course, thank you." Will was stunned, Dr. Lecter was one of the most intelligent people Will had ever met, he couldn't help the small burst of pride that he felt. Dr. Lecter just gave Will another one of his calm smiles.
The rest of lunch passed quickly, mostly with Will answering a few questions posed by Dr. Lecter. Will talked extensively about Frank, and explained how his father made them move a lot so Will never learned to make friends. Dr. Lecter was sincerely interested in Will's answers and his eyes were almost constantly focused on Will's own, though Will only made fleeting eye contact. Will enjoyed the feeling of having someone value what he had to say. It was an unusual occurrence; the only other creature that paid such close attention to him was Frank.
Both Will and Dr. Lecter were startled by the bell signaling students had five minutes to clean up and get to their next classes. Once packed up, Dr. Lecter walked Will to the door and bid him good-bye. Will smiled and thanked him for his time before rushing to US government with Mr. Crawford.
That afternoon at home, Will was feeling unusually happy and hummed as he helped his dad put away their leftovers from dinner. He was already planning what he'd take for lunch tomorrow.
When Will woke up the next morning and was getting dressed he caught himself trying to pull out an old blazer he kept hidden in the back of his closet before he even realized he was looking for it. It usually felt too nice to wear for school, but Will couldn't help feeling like a slob in comparison to the classy suits worn by Dr. Lecter. Matched with his usually worn jeans and plaid shirts the blazer didn't seem too dressy, but it was also a small improvement on his lumpy old sweaters. Will packed last-nights mac n' cheese along with a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and grabbed a juice box on his way out the door. Frank trotted along next to him until he got in the car and Will rubbed his dog's head before shooing him back towards the house and driving to school.
Will was afraid he'd repeat yesterday's folly in English, but he was pleased to find he felt at ease in class. Even with Dr. Lecter giving him a particularly bright smile when he walked in the door. English went well but it was Calculus, afterwards, that turned out to be a problem. He tried to absorb the lesson as easily as he usually did, but he couldn't get himself to focus on the problems as much as he used to. It wasn't a big difficulty; he still got all his work right, he just didn't offer up solutions in class as usual. If Dr. Bloom noticed, she kept it to herself, but she did give him a curious look as all the students filed out of the room for lunch.
Will didn't pause outside the door today, and Dr. Lecter opened the door immediately after the knock. Will thought that was strange, if Hannibal wasn't waiting by the door, how could he get there so fast? But Will didn't dwell on it. They sat down to eat and Dr. Lecter began their conversation asking about Frank. Will smiled and told how he had to shoo Frank away from his car so he could leave in the morning and Dr. Lecter chuckled at Frank's antics.
"Your dog is very fond of you. You know, animals are usually good judges of character." Dr. Lecter smiled at Will over another one of his fine looking meals.
"Usually, but then I am the one who feeds and cares for him. He was a stray, so I think he's extra grateful to me." Will smiled fondly as he picked at his mac n' cheese. Dr. Lecter glanced at Will's lunch and frowned. He had assumed leftovers were a normal food for most students who brought their lunch, but this was the second time Will had mac n' cheese. Dr. Lecter couldn't help his distaste, Will happened to look up and catch the look. Feeling unsure of himself, Will followed Dr. Lecter's gaze to his food. Will couldn't help a laugh escaping; he found Dr. Lecter's distaste childish. Food was food; Will didn't have time or money for meals that resembled Dr. Lecter's.
Dr. Lecter's gaze moved from the offensive food to Will's face when he laughed. He looked confused and surprised; Will couldn't help laughing a little more. Dr. Lecter's lips twitched in reply to the boy's amusement.
"This is the first time I have been laughed at by you, I suppose you think I'm being snobbish. I am very particular about my food Will, I hope you'll allow me to cook for you tomorrow. You will see then why I reacted the way I did."
"You don't have to cook for me, that's too much to ask." Will felt anxiety creeping up on him.
"Nonsense, I have offered and I will follow through. I enjoy cooking, I'd be glad to have someone else appreciate my food." Dr. Lecter cut a sliver of meat and extended it towards Will. "Tell me if you like it, if not I won't cook for you tomorrow." Will wasn't sure if he should eat off of Dr. Lecter's fork, but his face was so nonchalant that Will went ahead and ate the slice. He was shocked by how much flavor the meat held. His eyes widened and met Dr. Lecter's as he chewed. Dr. Lecter smiled, pleased.
"That was very good! Was it pork?" Will wiped his mouth with his napkin to remove any leftover juices.
"Yes…so I will bring you lunch tomorrow then?"
"Please." Will couldn't help a small blush that heated his cheeks. Dr. Lecter was already being so kind to him, he wasn't sure how he could show his gratitude. Dr. Lecter's smile brightened his whole face and Will couldn't help making brief eye contact. They passed the rest of their meals in companionable silence as they finished their respective meals. Once it was time to go to class, Dr. Lecter waved him goodbye from the doorway.
Will used his extra time from not packing a lunch in the morning to choose a nicer shirt and one of his nicer sweater vests, which he then coupled with a warm coat due to the winter chill. His dad gave him a strange look as he headed out to school but Will paid him no mind. Frank didn't think anything was strange, and that was enough for Will.
The day flew by and Will couldn't wait to eat what Dr. Lecter brought. Will had been amused when Dr. Lecter had casually moved his lunchbox to the top of his desk in English, as if to assure Will that he had not forgotten. Will's excitement was not unnoticed; Dr. Lecter had to turn away from his class for a second to hide his amusement at the boy's eager expression.
Later, in Dr. Bloom's class Will again did well on his work, but hardly contributed in class. Dr. Bloom wasn't sure if she should talk to Will, he never did anything wrong, but she felt that something was different. She decided to wait a little longer and see if things would return to normal. She watched the quiet boy smiling to himself as he nearly skipped out her door to lunch, and wondered what his secret could be.
Will was smiling so much his cheeks hurt by the time Dr. Lecter beckoned him into his room. Dr. Lecter had arranged their respective food onto plates after he had heated the meals in his microwave in the corner of the room. Well-arranged silverware glittered at Will as he took his seat. Will smiled across the desk at Dr. Lecter as he seated himself.
"Bon appetit Will. Don't worry about what fork to use, I have only supplied them in case you should want to use them." Dr. Lecter's eye's crinkled with amusement as Will nodded back before going to take a bite of the liver on his plate.
Will sighed contentedly as he worked through the meal Dr. Lecter had made. It was like no food he had ever eaten before. Not even the one meal he had as a small boy with his father at a nice restaurant could rival this meal. Will was so involved with finishing his meal Dr. Lecter waited until they had both finished eating to talk to him.
"Well we've finished our lunches in record time Will. Is it safe to assume you have enjoyed your lunch?" Dr. Lecter put away the silverware and dishes to clean when he got home.
"Yes. I've never had a meal like that in my entire life." The boy's sincere expression caused Dr. Lecter's mouth to quirk with a pleased smile. Will hoped he wasn't being too personal, Dr. Lecter needed to learn about him, not the other way around, but he asked when Dr. Lecter took an interest in cooking.
"Hmm…after I quit medical school my appreciation for anatomy and skill with precision cutting lent itself well to preparing meals. I have always been particular about my food; I found it only natural that I should teach myself to prepare my own." Will nodded along as if he understood. At least, he could understand the desire to have a meal like that more often. As if Dr. Lecter could read Will's mind he offered to cook for Will for as long as they shared their lunchtime.
"That's really generous…are you sure it isn't too much trouble? I'm also doubling the amount of cleaning you have to do." Will winced thinking of extra dishes to wash after meals. Dr. Lecter chuckled.
"My dishwasher does the extra work Will, not me." Will flushed; he had forgotten Dr. Lecter was better off than him and his father. After the old dishwasher in the house broke, Will's dad refused to have it fixed. He said it was cheaper to have Will clean after meals. "Now, Will, we have a few minutes, what would you like to talk about."
"Oh, I'm not sure. I could talk about Frank for ages, but I don't think you want to hear me tell the same stories over and over. Is there anything you want to talk about more?" Dr. Lecter readjusted his coat and leaned back in his chair. He knew Will didn't eat with other students at lunch, but he wondered if the boy had anyone to talk to at all.
"Would you tell me about your social life? Any good friends?" Dr. Lecter leaned forward a bit to focus on what he could see of Will's downturned face.
"Friends? Hah, no. That would require that I be sociable. This is the longest I have been at one school so far, and I've only been here a year and a half. I'm not sure how to make friends. I get along with my lab partner, Beverly katz, but I don't think we are friends." Will picked at his sleeve, feeling self-conscious.
"Beverly, I recall her being quite bright from my other English class. She's a good student, you are sure you don't wish to be her friend? If you can't see her as a friend, you aren't perhaps interested in her romantically?" Dr. Lecter turned his head slightly to judge Will's reaction better.
"Beverly! No, she's a nice girl…but I don't think my interests lie with her. I just, I don't mind not having friends. I have my dog and that's enough." Will steeled himself and looked Dr. Lecter in the eyes quickly, as if to show his sincerity.
"Well then, I won't pry into your social life more if I can help it, but I am your friend now, remember. Although we differ, you should remember you may rely on me if you need someone who can do more than bark." Will's face split into a grin and he couldn't help the mental image of Dr. Lecter with dog-ears that popped into his head.
"Thank you Dr. Lecter, I do appreciate your kindness. I have to be honest though, I am struggling to see you as my friend. You're too much of an authority figure, I feel like I'm being disrespectful." Will tapped his fingers on the edge of the desk and glanced up occasionally at his teacher. He hoped he hadn't insulted Dr. Lecter somehow by admitting that.
"Perhaps then Will, it would be better if you called me Hannibal. Being comfortable using my first name may help you see me as less of an authority figure. Though, in front of other adults at least, it may be better to refer to me by Dr. Lecter. Is that ok with you?" Hannibal leaned closer and studied the boy's face, pleased by the light blush in Will's cheeks.
"Ok…Hannibal." The bell interrupted Will's inner turmoil at this development. He gratefully rushed from the room, and tried not to think too much about Hannibal until he was out of school.