Prelude

Will was losing his mind at a faster pace than normal. He would make sarcastic jokes like, "You can't lose what you never had." But he knows what's happening. The cases Jack's been giving him are speeding up the process. He's not grateful to him for the work. He wants them to stop. But then he doesn't. He doesn't want to be the cause of these horrible crimes. Because that's what he believes. If he doesn't use his gifts to stop the crimes then its like doing them. Will is an overly emotional, broken man. But even though he may be that, broken, he can't stop himself. Stop blaming himself for others' misdeeds, stop neglecting himself the necessities of survival. Thoughts blasting through his traumatizing daydreams. "Could've gone faster! To slow, slow, SLOW!" There's blood splattered on the walls of his psyche, in reality his body is stained permanently in bright scarlet that nobody else sees. "Why didn't Hannibal help? Why, why, WHY?" Because he's a civilian. Then why was he at a crime scene? Because he's a civilian hired by the FBI. Will knows why, he knows.

Will dreamt of his friends that night. Anna and Jack and Abbie all strung up on the trees of his forest. Blood protruding their layered work clothes. The black elk stood aloofly watching them, hair swaying in the chilled air. Will's dream became erratic. Visions switching between the leaves, the elk and the bodies. Over and over again until Will woke with a shout. This happened night after night. Will was terrified, he did not go back to sleep that night. He never went back to sleep, unable to anymore. Instead he watched the numbers on his digital clock count up, tossing back Advil every four hour period. His alarm went off at seven. He flinched. He'd already been awake for six hours. He chugged more Advil as he got in his car.

He held his lecture without stopping. If he stopped then he would drop. Pass out from exhaustion and lack of nourishment. He hadn't eaten in two days, when Hannibal persuaded him to eat. But Hannibal hadn't visited since then because he had been busy with appointments. And although will would never say it out loud, he missed his..."Doctors, friends, colleagues?" Company. Without him there Will had been slipping back into some old habits. His nightmare truly did get better when he talked about them, especially with Hannibal. The older man's voice was soothing, a calm to the chaos that was going to consume him. Oh if only he knew. He always looked composed, never judging Will, like everyone else. Will knew he needed to be, being a psychiatrist. But Will had gone to other ones, they judged him. "Freak, freak, FREAK!" But Hannibal was so unlike the rest, not judging, never judging Will. He was calm, safe... It wasn't what he expected in their first meeting, when Hannibal psychoanalysed him. It seemed like judgment, but it was so far from that... It was just a calm statement of collected thoughts. He said he couldn't turn his off either, but Will knew that was a lie. His own was a gift of chaos and death. Hannibal's was neat and tidy facts. Hannibal had a soothing voice, like one of a hypnotist. That was his gift. He could do whatever he wanted with it. He could turn good Will to evil-"No! Hannibal's a good man. I just spend all of my time thinking about death. I'm pushing my delusions onto reality." Oh if only he knew.

As Will's lecture came to a close he felt a growing anxiety. "Everyone's leaving, leaving me! Don't be alone alone, ALONE!" But he couldn't delay it any longer. The class left and Will again felt the urge to collapse. He needed something to do, and that something then walks through the door. Jack Crawford, his one time savior? "No he's a demon! Making you be evil." The selfish voice screamed at him. "Tell him to go away! No more blood, no more death!" He doesn't listen to the only sensible thing in his head. Instead he wills it away and shuffles to his boss. Never once making eye contact.

"Will!" Jack's voice booms. "There's been another one, we need you."

Will sighs and squeezes his temple. He reaches into his pocket, Advil. It always helps, this mild relief. Before taking them he rushes out a response, "Lets' go then." He hopes it didn't come out as shaky as it sounded to him. Not that Jack would care, or notice. He's always shaky.

The crime scene reminds Will of a circus. Crowded with bright lights and radiant colors. People trying not to be bored or excited. Will hated the feeling of crime scenes. Jack leads him through the mob of uniformed men until he reaches the blood stained leaves. The body was, was a woman. Now she's just a pile of guts with bits of shredded cloth thrown in. Will wanted to cry, he wanted to vomit, hide, fall into a never ending sleep. But instead he walked forward. He slowly segregated himself from everyone. With the timing of a grandfather clock, the redhead was an actual lady again. Sewn back together only to be thrown back into the field of terror. This time frightened of Will. "No, not you. Never actually you." A new voice echoed in his noggin. A calm voice, one that sounded much like Hannibal. "You're not the murderer Will, you just are taking a walk in his mind." It calmed him down, if only just a fraction. The scene commenced. The ginger was strangled, her screeches dimmed down with the rising bruises. Will, No the murderer, took a curved blade and dug into her ribcage. Searching, searching for something. Creating a scramble -scramble, why does that word ring a bell?- Of her lungs, no that's what he was looking for. He took her lungs. Like in the first case. "The gift. But why would the copycat help? Why, why, WHY?" Will returned to reality with a flash, he reviewed his observations quickly and then stepped back. He told what he learned to Crawford and then slipped into his car. Chugging more Advil he asked himself, Why?

Will hasn't eaten in three days. If he did try it would've all tasted like blood to him. Blood of the people he -No never me! Not me!- Killed, murdered, ravaged. He wanted the world to stop but he knew that could never happen. He was alone, stuck in his dreamed-up world. To him there's no longer a distinct reality. The bitter scarlet forms from his nightmare tinting the pale walls of his home. Even though Will doesn't want to help Jack that day, go into reality that day, he still goes. He leaves his own chaotic solitude into the real world thats stock full of killers and cannibals. Will knows that the only reason he left was because he didn't want to be a burden on the reality he hates.

He can smell the blood before he sees it. Another girl, this time a blonde. She was strangled, to the outside world it seemed like the body was a mess. To Will it went like this, "He found her disgusting. A hunk of rotten meat, to sour to be eaten. Devouring her would be a crime against the killer's digestive system. -My system- She was a common whore." Will stared down at his hands, the blood dripping away as he slipped into the land of the living. Jack was staring at him, waiting for the synopsis. Will spoke in a stuttered tone. "This death wasn't the killers true purpose, neither was the last. The deaths almost feel like they're part of a grotesque love letter...To whom, I'm not sure. The next one will show us who its for."

Jack scowled at Will, no sympathy in his harsh gaze. "Are you telling me we have to wait for the next body to drop? Do you really want that blood on your hands?!" Will always hated screaming, especially when it was directed at him. Will kept his eyes on the floor, not bothering to lift them as he stuttered out a response.

"N-no, but he isn't done. T-that's all I said." Crawford just grunted and walked away. Will never lift his eyes.

Will went home and stared at his door for two hours. Just watching the light dim down into darkness. His feet screeching their protest, completely ignored. When it turned pitch black outside his eyes regained their blue shine. When he opened the door he heard the collective barks of his dogs. They all seemed relieved, probably had been calling him since he got home. He could imagine the light scratches and whimpers going on for hours. Collapsing on his knees he called everyone to him. They circled around their master, wet noses and rough paws searching his body. Will lifted his arms for them to go under. He smiled when they followed his unspoken request. The dogs lowered themselves down, providing warmth and comfort if only for a short while. Will didn't dream that night.

For at least the first part of the night. When Will's eyes cracked open his dogs were growling. The raven-feathered stag standing aloofly in front of them, pushing chilled air out of its nostrils. Will sat up slowly, keeping his eyes on the large animal. Lifting up his hand he lowered it on the stag's large snout. Feathers warm and soft under his cracked skin. Will laughed, one so small it could count as a wheeze. A little grin that only his imagination will ever see. "You know." Will spoke, his voice distorted oddly in the dream land. "You're the only one I can ever look in the eye." He laughed again, this time louder. Will layed his head against the stags. His laughter the only noise echoing throughout his dreamed up house. With every second the laugh grew louder and more insane.

Will doesn't go to work that day. He just sits on the floor where he slept the passing night. Only getting up once in the early morning to feed his dogs. "You guys need to eat, for both of us." Then he sits again, lying his head on the hard floors. He hears the endless buzzing of his phone around two o'clock. He doesn't go get it, he knows who it is. Jack asking him to come to a crime scene full of people disgusted by his talents. Full of the sour smell of blood that follows him everywhere now. Jack will yell at him for doing what he asked, breaking his promise of protection, of not going alone. I'm always alone. He wishes Hannibal was the one that called him, but he knew it probably wasn't him. If Hannibal he wanted to talk he would've just shown up at Will's house, silently demanding his attention. Slightly putting Will back together again. But Hannibal wasn't going to show up so Will was left staring at the wall and listening to the buzzing die down.

Will didn't know when he fell asleep. All he knew was when his glazed eyes returned to normal Jack and Alana were in front of him. Calling his name, concern on their faces, even Jacks. Will frowned, it was bright outside. Looking down he saw he was still in his grey underwear and shirt, he felt the urge to cover himself. Even though he was completely drenched in sweat, he still had goosebumps. Winston was next to him, and so Will continued to ignore his human company, choosing to instead collapse next to his dog and rub his head. His feet were bloody, rocks and shards of glass jagged into his bare soles. "Will!" the voices called again. Will finally looked up to them, their faces baring intense emotion. Concern, wonder, so much worry. Jack even looked a bit guilty, Alana looked like she was trying not to hyperventilate.

Will frowned, not bothering to move his shaggy hair out of his eyes. "Hello" He said awkwardly.

Alana seemed relieved that he was talking, Jack was angry.

"What the fuck is this Will?!" His face reddening as he continued. "We've been calling your name for ten minutes!" He sighed, "You walked into the fuckin road!"

Will flinched and responded before Alana had a chance to say anything. "I have a sleepwalking problem. I was sleeping."

Jack's anger dimmed out and now he was radiating fear. Alana spoke quickly so she'd have a chance. "You weren't at school today, we were worried." The, I still am went unsaid. Alana's hands were outspread in front if her, signaling safety.

Will sighed. "I was at home, I felt sick."

Jack was still terrified. He spoke next. "You didn't answer our calls."

Will shook his head, gesturing around him. "I was asleep."

Alana took a few steps forward, "Do you think you're asleep now?"

Will shook his head. "This happened before." at their looks of confusion he elaborated. "I sleep-walked into this road, two cops took me home, I think."

Jack shook his head. "Unbelievable." A sigh. "You walk into the road often Will?"

Will shuddered, then bit back. "Its not the most dangerous thing I do."

Alana broke the staring contest. "Jack stop it!" He looked at her, unamused. She tilted her head to Will's direction and shook her arms a little.

"What?" Will asked pointing to himself, "I'm right here."

Alana sighed, "We're worried about you Will, it's why we're here."

Will stared at her for half a minute and then it was like in his dream, he started laughing. Quietly at first, but then it grew louder. Will glanced at them as he did so. Both Alana and Jack were gaping at him, he never laughs. After a few minutes the laughter died down and Will was just staring at them again.

"You, Aha, care?" Alana had no idea what was going on, a mental breakdown? "Maybe you Alana, but not Jack." Will's face flipped to serious like magic. He threw his hands up in the air, which caused the other two to flinch. "I'm fine, fine everyone. Don't go out of your way, its not like you promised each other to make me not go alone."

Jack started to reject, but Will interrupted him. "Its not like my reality is covered in blood and I don't know what the difference from my dreams are anymore. And I don't care you broke your promise, not at all." Will sucked in a big breath of air, "I'm peachy, fine. Just fine."

Will patted Winston and started walking back to his house. Leaving two concerned colleagues behind him."

Jack pulled out his phone and dialled Hannibal. Lots of hushed anxiety and calm yesses and alrights went through the line. Jack didn't hear the smile in Hannibal's voice and when the call ended, Hannibal was ecstatic. Pulling together his things, he left his home. Only an hour and a half until what he was waiting for for a long, long time happens.

Hannibal couldn't wait.

Will collapsed on his floor as soon as he opened the door. Again, his dogs piled around him. Their warmth lulling him to sleep. The new dream was as erratic as the last. It started with Will awakening outside, a dusty fog covering his face, blinding him.

"Why are you here? Who are you?!" Will shouted brokenly into the dust of his dreamland.

"You know who I am William" The dark voice boomed, it wasn't choppy. It was unlike anything in his mind, and it seemed the most real. "You just have to think."

Will tried to grasp his thoughts but he was unable before he screamed out into the dark. "You're the Ripper! You're him!"

The voice chuckled, a supposedly dark sound, but it was proud. "Congratulations William, but can you find out who I really am?"

Will looked down at his hands, they were flickering in this reality. The darkness surrounding him trying to snuff out his pale light. "Your true Identity?"

"You know it my dear Will, you've always known." A strong hand grasped Wills shoulder, air pushing on his neck. "Just think, then you'll be able to see me."

And so Will did. He blocked out every other thought but the Chesapeake Ripper and his dreamed up hand on his shoulder. And he leant into the touch at long last. Turning around he saw the face he's learned to love. "Hannibal, you're Hannibal." And the dream ended with the sound of the Rippers happy chuckle.

The first thing Will did when he woke up was to the restroom and vomit, it came out mostly water. The second thing he did was run out the door. He drove in his car recklessly, the only thought in his mind was where he needed to go. Hannibal.

It was an hour and a half before he got to his front door. And his thoughts didn't have a chance to catch up with him before he knocked on the door rapidly. Hannibal came to the door after two minutes, dressed impeccably in a navy blue suit a sly smile on his face.

"Good evening Will." And it was only then Will noticed it was dark outside, pitch black. "What can I do for you at this late hour?"

Will said nothing just lifted his eyes until he made eye contact with the older man. The burgundy eyes gazing into his soul, his mind. "Oh dear. It seems you have found out, haven't you." Hannibal was full on smiling now.

"You're him, you're the Ripper Hannibal." Will spoke in monotone, but his eyes were blazing. He just didn't know what with, yet.

"I am my dear Will and you haven't contacted anyone else about this matter, have you?" Hannibal looked truly happy and Will just smiled back.

"We're friends right Hannibal?" Will asked with a tilt of his head.

And Hannibal's grin showed his teeth, "Of course we are Will."

And Will's smile just grew, he believed him. He only believes him. "You're my only friend Hannibal. How do you feel about dogs?"

And Hannibal just opened the door and let him in. Wrapping his arm around Will's smaller shoulders as he did. "Do you want some dinner? You looked like you haven't eaten in Days."

Will nuzzled his head into Hannibal neck. "I'm absolutely famished, Who are we having for dinner?"

And Hannibal just laughed that warm chuckle of Wills dreams and whispered the name into his ear. "Freddie Lounds."

And that was the best Will had ever felt in a long time.