Title: Chasing Shadows
Summary: Will and Hannibal have been solving cases together for two years now; they are partners and lovers and everything in between. Then the Chesapeake Ripper starts killing again.
Case One: The Silk Handkerchief
Will can tell before he's even entered the room that this isn't the Ripper's work, he can feel it, like a pulse through his entire being that leaves him empty and disappointed. The apartment's living room is small, sparse, and spartan outside of a laptop perched on an old coffee table, a couch, lamp, TV, and a pair of sneakers kicked carelessly behind the door. There is blood speckling the area in front of the couch and a body lying on it's side in a pool of congealed blood, but this isn't (can't be) the Ripper because there are no missing organs.
This knowledge doesn't stop Will from kneeling down beside the body though. What has him kneeling beside Eduardo Perez's prone cold body is the the impeccably dressed man walking toward him to lay a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He can vaguely hear Jack giving Hannibal the details of their victim and knows that he'll fill him in (if he needs it) before all sound fades and the pendulum swings as time winds backwards. He slips into the imprint of their killer's mind with ease (like a well fitted glove) and opens his eyes to see Eduardo Perez staring up at him. The man is on his knees with his hands tied behind his back and a handkerchief shoved into his mouth.
Perez makes a strangled noise as he moves behind him, toward the small table beside the couch that bears a hunting knife. His gloved hands tremble ever so much (in excitement or nervousness he doesn't know) as he presses the knife to the soft tissue under Perez's chin, blood trickling from a fresh cut before he drags it lower (over his carotid artery) and presses firmly. He draws his arm back in a quick vicious motion and arterial blood sprays outward, coating the table a few feet in front of him with red. Perez gasps and gurgles, choking around the blood in his mouth and lungs, arms struggling (futilely, hopelessly, absurdly) against his binds in an attempt to press his hands to the gushing wound.
"Perez bleeds out on the shabby carpet of the apartment, hands still bound behind his back. I'm perfectly clean, not a speck of blood on me to give away my crime. I leave the apartment after throwing the knife beside my victim. There won't be any clues to my identity except," And now Will paused to pry the handkerchief free as he comes back to the present. "A handkerchief with my initials on it."
"He finally made a mistake," Hannibal said from his station by Will's side, tone doubtful as he watched Will's fingers skirt around the blood on the piece of square cloth to the two damning letters engraved in the corner.
"You don't believe that." Will observed as Hannibal retrieved the discarded hunting knife from the floor.
"No, the Ripper wouldn't be this careless." Hannibal replied as he examined the victim's throat. "The cuts are sloppy, most likely from an unsteady hand, and there are traces of tobacco ash on the knife's hilt."
"My," Will paused (he is not a killer), clearing his throat. "The killer's hands were shaking. It didn't feel like excitement though. There was anger and resentment but no excitement."
Hannibal nodded. "An intention tremor perhaps."
"He was also wearing gloves."
At this Hannibal smiled, "Excellent. It would seem that the handkerchief is our best clue toward our killer's identity."
Their handkerchief maker is a middle-aged African American woman by the name of Sarah Eckerton who owns a dye and tailor shop on the corner of Third Street. The little establishment is modest and clean, designed to be welcoming but elegant with it's rich mahogany counter and shelves and airy cream colored curtains.
"I remember this kerchief well, Mr. Lecter." Sarah said after a moment of examining a photo of the cloth.
"Do you remember who bought it, Mrs. Eckerton?" Hannibal glanced down at the photo, at the beautiful silk dyed a deep plum purple with gold and silver detailing. The woman nodded and pushed her reading glasses higher on her nose before peering at her computer.
"A man by the name of Cadbury, Henry Cadbury. He's a charming man, and so polite for his age, but," And now she paused to look up at Hannibal, then back to the photo. "Whatever could you need him for?"
"He's someone that we'd like to help us gain some insight on a murder but I'm afraid that's all I can tell you." Hannibal replied firmly after a moment of deliberating his words.
Ms. Eckerton looked a little shaken at the prospect of murder but Hannibal's phone chose that moment to ring. Collecting the photo as he nodded in farewell to Sarah Eckerton, he answered it. "Lecter speaking."
"How did your meeting with the shopkeeper go?" Will's voice sounded from the other end of the line as Hannibal made his way to his car.
"As well as could be hoped for." He ducked down into the driver's seat. "Where are you?"
"I'm heading back to the apartment to look for any more clues."
"I presume that the knife had no prints." Hannibal pulled into traffic, heading toward the apartment as well.
"No, it didn't." Will replied with a sigh.
"I didn't think it would, my dear Will." Hannibal said with a faint smile. "I will call you when I reach the apartment."
Will let out another sigh as he flipped his phone walk to Perez's apartment was quiet outside of the normal sounds that an overcrowded apartment complex could churn up. When he reached the door labeled two-oh-five, however, he was caught off guard to see a young man standing by the door. His dirty blonde hair was tousled, his bottom lip held between his teeth as he traced the apartment number with the knuckle of his right thumb.
"Did you know him?" Will's voice seemed to startle the man out of his thoughts and he focused his eyes (which were a dazzling mix of blue-green) on him.
"Eddie?" He tucked his hands into the pocket's of his jeans. "Yeah, we are, uh were, best friends."
"Do you know if he had any enemies?" The man looked perplexed at Will's question for a moment before shaking his head.
"Not really. He'd complain about this one busboy at the hotel where he worked. Kid never did his job right or something, and it always made Eddie mad."
"Could you tell me where he worked?"
"He worked at the Hotel Monaco in Baltimore. They host a lot of events for a social group my mom is in and she'd drag me to them. Eddie would always join the group during break, dressed in his staff tux even though he could get fired if he was caught. He made it a lot less boring, that's for sure." The man's lips tugged up in a fond smile but his eyes were sad.
"I'm sorry for your loss..." Will began, feeling out of place, and those sad, stunning eyes locked with his before he looked away, back at the apartment numbers.
"Henry, Henry Cadbury." Henry pulled a card from his pocket. "Give me a call when you find the guy that killed him."
"I will." Will promised, then watched as the blonde made his way down the hall.
Eddie Perez never seemed to have settled well into Baltimore. The apartment held little about him, the only picture in the whole space being a photo of him and an older woman, presumably his mother considering the striking resemblance between them. The laptop was sleeping but as Will revived it it lit up to show an email addressed to Henry about an upcoming hunting trip.
The apartment was stifling as well, holding the echoes of death, the coppery smell of blood, and the mixed feelings of a killer that Will had empathised with. It tingled on his skin like an irritating bug, and (not for the first time) itched at his mind despite how hard he focused on finding clues. It was no wonder, then, that the sound of his phone's shrill ring sent a wave of relief through him.
"I may have found our killer." Hannibal began and Will could feel his own eyes widen.
"You... but how?" He managed after a moment and could practically here the smile that Hannibal was undoubtedly hiding in his voice.
"There is a knife shop not a block from the apartment. The store owner recognized the blade, having made it not a month ago for a man named Henry-"
"Cadbury." Will finished as he left the apartment. "He was here about half an hour ago."
"At the apartment." Not a question, an observation as Will pressed the apartment elevator's button with a sharp jab of his finger. "How odd."
"Odd?" Will felt light-headed as he made his way into the office and handed the apartment key over to the receptionist with a mumbled thanks.
"Why would Henry go back to the apartment?" Hannibal's voice was curious and Will shrugged, even if the other couldn't see it.
"To revisit his crime." Will spotted Hannibal's car and made his way toward it, closing his phone as he walked.
"I don't think so, my dear Will." Hannibal replied as soon as he was in the car. "What did Mr. Cadbury say?"
"He said that they were friends; that they had met at the hotel Perez workesd at." Will finished, after telling Hannibal of his encounter with Henry.
"What hotel was it?"
"Hotel Monaco in Baltimore." Will looked out the window briefly and frowned. "Where are we going?"
"Home, and then out for dinner." Hannibal replied and Will resisted the urge to slap him.
"I don't think now is the time for a date."
"No," Hannibal agreed. "Not a date, a dinner party."
"Remind me why we're doing this again." Will said as he tugged on the cuffs of the only suit he owned. Hannibal was walking beside him, impeccably dressed (of course) and Will felt both awkward and out of place.
"To catch our killer." Hannibal replied as they were let into the hotel's extravagant dining hall. It was decorated tastefully, overly bright, and full of people dressed just as impeccably as Hannibal with more money in there pockets than Will could ever hope to see in his life time. He felt like running.
But Hannibal's hand was on the small of his back (guiding, reassuring, grounding), so Will swallowed his nervousness and let himself be led.
"You think Henry Cadbury is our killer?" Will asked and Hannibal gave him a look that clearly said 'Oh my poor, dear Will'.
"No, but he will be here." Hannibal said as he gestured discreetly toward a pair of well dressed people. One was Henry Cadbury, looking bored and somewhat depressed, and the other was a beautiful looking blond woman. She was tucked against Henry's side and talking to a tall brunette woman. They were the perfect pair, and Henry looked absolutely miserable.
"Shall we go talk to them?" Hannibal asked, then steered them toward the perfect couple before Will could reply.
Henry's face lit up considerably when he caught sight of Will, a silent question in his eye. Will gave a small shake of his head and had to look away as the blonde's face fell.
"Mr. Cadbury," Hannibal greeted, extending a hand for the other man to shake. "I believe you've met my partner Will Graham."
Henry nodded before shaking Will's hand as well. "Yes, I have. Although I must admit I'm surprised to see you here."
"It has been a while since I've joined in a social night out." Hannibal agreed. "If I had I certainly would have met your fiance before now."
"Cecilia Rivers, although it will be Cadbury within a week." The blonde woman said as Hannibal kissed the back of her hand lightly. She turned to Will expectantly, only to frown when he merely nodded at her.
Henry had a light smile on his face, but hid it quickly when Cecilia looked over at him.
"A while back you were wearing a beautifully made suit with a plum tie." Hannibal said to Henry and the blonde looked perplexed.
"Yes, I bought it at little shop but misplaced the handkerchief. I've been meaning to get another one made." Henry's tone was politely curious as he replied and Will noticed Cecelia's grip on his arm tighten ever so much.
"That was my fault, I'm afraid." Cecelia said with a little laugh. "I misplaced it during a dinner party a couple weeks back."
Hannibal smiled at her. "An honest mistake I'm sure."
Cecelia nodded mutely before looking away from Hannibal's gaze. "Dinner is ready." She said as she looked toward the doors before leading her fiancee to one of hall's many tables.
Dinner was served as soon as everyone was seated, uniformed waiters filing in with covered plates as the head chef announced their first course.
The silver domes were lifted away to reveal a Fish Bisque Flambe. It tasted great, delicious in fact, and Will very nearly hummed in satisfaction. Hannibal glanced over at him with a smile before turning his attention to a blonde woman dressed in a scarlet blouse. She was a university friend of Hannibal's, Dr Bedelia Du Maurier.
Will watched them talk, half-listening as they conversed about the inner workings of the human mind. Half-way through a discussion on Memory Manipulation Will's attention was drawn by a man to his left who had leaned forward to regard him with a deliberating expression.
"Excuse me for interrupting your conversation," The man said with a small smile aimed at Will after introducing himself as Dr. Frederick Chilton. "But I read your paper on Benedict Cuthridge. For a research paper in a minor class it was exceptional to read."
Will was caught of guard for a moment. Benedict Cuthridge had been a killer he had chosen to research for his finals in Criminal Psychology his fourth year of college. Cuthridge kidnapped the woman he had dated, burning her eyes out and kept her alive in his house until he had hammered a nail through her heart. Even after fifteen years Will remembered the case in vivid detail, recalling the dizzying cocktail of emotions that Cuthridge had felt toward his victim; the loss, hurt, abandonment, and anger that had coursed through his veins as he had killed her. It had been one of the first cases he'd connected with, he had been one of the first killers Will had empathized with, but Will couldn't help but be confused to the assignment's relevance at the moment.
"That was a long time ago." Will reached for his wine glass, taking a longer drink than was adequate and felt the winter wine flow to his stomach, bringing a warmth that spread to rest of him.
"It was," The man agreed with a somewhat apologetic nod of his head. "But in your paper you mentioned something that intrigued me Mr. Graham; you said that the killer's actions were born on hate and fear."
Now it was Will's turn to nod. "Cuthridge's girlfriend was unfaithful during their relationship."
"Yes, that explains the hate but not the fear." The other said as he placed his spoon down beside his now empty bowl.
"He feared unfaithfulness, he feared her ability to hurt him by leaving." Will supplied with a slight scrunching of his brows. "I said as much in my paper, Dr. Chilton."
"But you never exactly said how you reached that conclusion. That was your paper's one fault. Cuthridge let his fear rule his actions, killing his girlfriend in order to conquer that fear."
There was a small smile shining in Chilton's eyes as Will turned toward him in his seat, giving him his full attention.
"Is there something specific that you wanted to discuss with me Dr. Chilton?" Will asked and this time the other man let his smile show.
"Your paper was remarkable work, even for a minor college class. From my understanding you majored in law with the ambition of working for the FBI."
"I wanted to become a criminal profiler." Will told him around another sip of wine, wishing that he had a glass of scotch instead.
"Ah, then my actual question is, why didn't you? You're a smart man Mr. Graham." Chilton handed him a stark white business card with a flick of his wrist. "It'd be a shame for your mind to go to waste."
Will gave the card a once over before tucking it into his pocket. His barely touched bowl had been taken away, replaced by a baked Salmon Roulade, but Will's appetite had diminished completely. Hannibal glanced over at him, over the rim of his wine glass with a smile gracing his lips and Will felt his stomach flutter.
The rest of the meal passed quickly and Will soon found himself bundled against Hannibal's side as they made their way to the alley beside the Hotel Monaco and ducked beneath the yellow police tape strung there. Jack had called just as the meal was wrapping up, informing them that another body had been found, this time a chef named Samantha Carter.
As Will went to kneel beside the body Hannibal stayed at the mouth of the alley, standing beside a gangly busboy with a cigarette stuck into his mouth. His eyes shifted between Samantha and Will, head tilted ever so slightly as he smoked. His hands trembled ever so much as he raised the cigarette to his lips, even though he's wearing gloves against the cold.
"She's dead ain't she?" The boy asked and Hannibal nodded. The youth let out a short humorless bark of laughter. "Bitch had it coming to her then."
Hannibal raised an eyebrow at that. "Is that so?" He asked, just a hint of disdain coloring his tone. The other nodded, eager to vent his dislike.
"Yeah, she always acted so stuck up and preppy, too dumb to realize that she was at the bottom with the rest of us."
"That must have been difficult to put up with." Hannibal remarked after a moment and the other snorted.
"You have no idea man. I'm just glad I no longer have to work under her." He said and smudged his cigarette out against the wall behind them. Will was rising from beside Samantha's body and Hannibal could see him take a shaky breath before expelling it into the chilly air. He glanced at the man beside him then over at Jack.
"The blood on your sleeve, where did it come from?" Hannibal asked just loud enough for Will to hear as he passed by on his way to Jack. The boy looked down at the red stain marring the white material of his uniform.
"Handling the meat scraps in the kitchen." He said with a shrug and Hannibal nodded. By now Will and Jack were making their way towards them and the busboy did't realize what was going on until Jack flashed his badge. However, he had nowhere to run as Jack cuffed him and pulled him toward a cruiser.
"Please call Mr Cadbury. Tell him to meet us in the lobby." Hannibal told Will and the brunette frowned but did as he was asked. He followed Hannibal into the warmth of the lobby for the second time that night, the echo of Samantha Carter's death clinging to him and causing his stomach to roll.
Henry was waiting for them in a corner of the lobby that housed a set of chairs and motioned for them to sit. Cecelia was still by his side, a shade paler than normal as she clung to her fiancee's side.
"Did you find the killer?" The blonde man asked and let out a relieved sigh when Will nodded.
"Actually," Hannibal began, locking eyes with Cecelia. "We found one of them."
"What do you mean?" Will turned to Hannibal, confusion flooding through him but the older man never broke his silent staring contest with Ms. Rivers, who now had a white knuckled grip on Henry's arm.
"Cecelia arranged for Perez to be killed." Hannibal said after a moment and Cecelia's bottom lip trembled but Hannibal had turned his attention to her husband-to-be. "You and Eduardo Perez were lovers. Ms. Rivers knew this, even before Henry's mother arranged their marriage."
"He didn't need him any more." Rivers said, a flash of anger rising in her tone before dying out and being replaced by desperation as Henry pulled his arm from her grip.
"He was just a gutter rat, nothing more." She defended. "No one would have missed him."
"I missed him!" Henry's voice sounded strangled, anger, disbelief, and pain mixing in a tone that was almost painful to hear. Will held back a gasp as he felt Henry's emotions flood through him in a whirlwind, how hopeless and trapped he felt. He felt how hollow and dead Eduardo's death had left the other man and his own heart ached in response.
"You fucked him." Cecelia said disgust filling her voice, but then she flinched back as the blonde man rose from his seat to put more distance between them.
"I loved him, you spoiled tramp. More than I could ever love you." Henry snapped, letting his true feelings show for once.
Cecelia slapped him. The sound of it cut through the air like the snap of a whip and Will had grabbed Cecelia by the arm before he even realized he was moving.
"Let go of me!" She shrieked and Will ducked as she attempted to slap him as well.
"I think that'll be enough." Hannibal said, catching her arm before the blow could connect. His auburn colored eyes were cold, showing more red than brown as Cecelia slumped against Will.
"You paid the busboy to kill Eduardo Perez, didn't you?" He asked and she gave a defeated nod.
"He wasn't supposed to kill again. No one was supposed to know."
"But he killed the chef and got caught." Will filled in for her. Another silent nod before she aimed a glare at Hannibal.
"How did you know?" She asked and Hannibal tilted his head.
"You told me." He said and Will's eyes widened.
"The handkerchief." He breathed and Hannibal smiled before turning his attention back to the blonde woman.
"You were the last person to have it and most likely gave it to the busboy, telling him to plant it on the body in the hopes that your fiancee would get blamed for the murder."
"You would have been married to him by the time he was arrested and gotten his money." Will added and glanced over at Henry, who was now slumped in a chair with his head in his hands as he listened. "Both Eduardo and Henry would be gone from your life while you played the unfortunate wife of a murderer."
"He deserved it." She hissed out, hands clenched at her side. "He gave his love to that worthless low-born scum of a man instead of me. Eduardo was going to talk him out of the marriage, away from me, and what would I have? What would I have?" She was yelling now, hands clenched into fists.
"Will, please call Jack." Hannibal had heard enough by now, as had Will. Rivers let out a strangled cry but fell into a dignified silence when she noticed the small crowd of people looking on, attempting to play the martyr.
Jacked arrived soon after Will called, a pair of handcuffs tucked under his belt for Cecelia. She glared at them all, turning away in disgust when she passed by Henry and Will felt pity rise in him for the man.
Hannibal led the way back to the car and Will climbed into the passenger seat with a tired sigh. The drive home was short and silent, Will resting his head against the chilled glass of the window as he watched Baltimore pass by.
Once inside Hannibal's home he buried his head against Hannibal's chest as the other man pulled him into an embrace.
"That was horrible." He said, voice muffed by the material of Hannibal's coat.
"We've had worse cases." Hannibal reminded him but Will just shook his head.
"Not the case Hannibal, the people."
"You empathized." Hannibal said and Will nodded.
"With Henry." And Will didn't need to say anymore because Hannibal had pulled him into a kiss that made Will's knees weak. It was calming, grounding, dizzying as Will pressed himself closer to Hannibal with a sigh.
"You're not him." Hannibal told him as he held Will's gaze. "You have control over who you are and what you do."
"Sometimes it doesn't feel that way." Will chuckled and Hannibal placed a firm kiss to his forhead before leading him to the bedroom.
As he stripped Will of his clothes he pressed kisses to each revealed section of skin and Will shivered. Hannibal was still fully dressed by the time Will's last article of clothing slipped away and the brown haired man frowned.
"Your wearing too much clothes." He groaned and Hannibal chuckled, eyes twinkling as he pressed a kiss to Will's neck.
"My apologies ." He breathed against Will's skin and the other let out a breathless laugh as he proceeded to remove his clothes and set them aside.
Will cupped a hand around the back of Hannibal's neck and pulled him down into a kiss as the other man came to kneel on the bed between Will's legs.
By the time they broke the kiss both were breathless, Will ducking his head to place a kiss to Hannibal's shoulder.
"Thank you." Will murmered as Hannibal prepped him but his lover merely shook his head and caught his hand.
Bringing it up to his lips he placed a kiss into Will's palm. "You're brilliant Will; there's no need to thank me." He replied and Will simply nodded. Pressing another kiss to his lips, Hannibal set a gentle pace between them. He smirked when Will urged him to move faster, choosing to ignore him in the stead of gyrating his hips in a manner that he knew drove the younger man crazy.
Will's hands scrambled, found purchase on Hannibal's hips, and gripped tightly as he arched against the other with a bit off moan. Ducking his head down to Will's shoulder, Hannibal placed a quick bite to his collarbone before licking the abused skin with a swipe of his tongue.
"Fuck," Will bit out hands tightening to near bruising.
"Language." Hannibal chuckled and Will groaned as Hannibal placed another bite next to the previous one.
After that words were forgotten, replaced with broken breaths and moans as Hannibal urged Will toward his release. The brunette came with a cry between them, Hannibal riding it out as his own climax washed through him.
As Will laid there, basking in post coital bliss he felt Hannibal place a final kiss to his curls.
"Brilliant." Hannibal echoed himself from earlier, pulling the covers over them as Will pressed close to him.
A/N: I hope you liked the first chapter. (Trust me, it gets better.) There are about seven more planned out. Yes, Hannibal is still the Chesapeake Ripper.