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 Two: A Study In Fear
Will stifled a yawn with his hand as he typed up the case report he owed Jack. He was mostly finished, having compiled all their collected evidence as well as statements from Rivers, Cadbury, Eckerton, and the hotel's busboy. Will also included his own observations from his empathetic viewpoint, something Hannibal had managed to convince him to do after their third case together. The report would then pass to Beverly Katz as head of forensics to allow her and her team to add any further evidence notes before finally landing on Jack's metaphorical desk.
It was long and boring work and Will knew exactly why Hannibal had passed the job on to him to do.
Flexing his fingers with a small cracking noise he set back to typing and then let out a sigh as he closed the word editor. However, as soon as he pushed send on the email containing the report and a brief greeting to Katz the phone rang. Reaching over, Will hid another yawn behind his hand and greeted whoever was on the other line with a tired expellment of his last name.
"Glad to know you're awake." Jack's voice intoned from the other end and Will clambered out of the bed with an unspoken curse. "I need you and Dr. Lecter to meet me at a crime scene in Lanchester."
"Lanchester, Maryland?" Will echoed as he made his way down the stairs to the first story and then on to the kitchen. Hannibal looked over at him but only gave a small nod before turning back to their breakfast.
"Yes, Maryland." Crawford confirmed, even if the question was somewhat rhetorical. He gave Will directions to the crime scene, the brown haired man muttering them back to himself as he committed them to memory.
Hannibal removed their breakfast (what happened to be a glorified version of a Monte Cristo sandwich) from the burner and placed it on plated for both of them. He retrieved orange juice from the fridge and two glasses from the cupboard, setting them on the island and joining Will as he ate.
"There's a new case in Lanchester Maryland." Will began after a couple of bites from his sandwich and Hannibal nodded.
"It wouldn't be like Jack to give us a day between cases." Hannibal said with a smile and Will chuckled. "Did Jack tell you any details of the case?"
"No, just directions to the the scene. We should get going though."The brunette told him and Hannibal nodded once more, standing up.
Will looked over at Hannibal as he collected their empty plates and placed them in the sink but the blonde man had already left the kitchen.
They met in the hall, Hannibal having grabbed a coat for both of them as Will quickly washed and stacked their dishes.
"Shall we be on our way then, my dear Will?" Hannibal asked with a somewhat boyish grin and Will followed him out the house, a small smile lighting his features.
"Will, Hannibal, glad you could make it." Jack greeted them upon their arrival. Hannibal and Jack shook hands, Will bypassing them both to reach Beverly Katz, who was leaning over a large wooden box, gloved fingers carefully combing through its contents. Zeller and Price were also present, standing beside her and offering their own commentary as they examined the body that had been laid out on a blue plastic tarp.
Will glanced over at the body briefly before turning his attention to the wooden box. I was roughly six feet in length and fill with fine red colored dirt. Retrieving a pair of gloves from one of the CSI guys, he ran a hand through the dirt and looked at Katz.
"Ultisol," She said, answering his unasked question. "Commonly known as Red Clay soil."
"It's usually found in the southern states but there are some places here in Maryland where you can find it naturally." Price added and Will nodded.
"According to jack our victim is Samuel Ferric. A groundskeeper found him this morning around five when he was making his rounds."
"He died from lack of oxygen." Zeller said from his position by the body.
Hannibal crouched beside him and peered into Ferric's mouth. "There are dust particles in the back of his throat." He observed. "The dirt would have gotten into his lungs and impaired his breathing to the point of being impossible to take in air."
"Well there's that, but he was also trapped in a box barely bigger than he is. It's small and sealed off completely so it's also as likely that he ran out of air to breath, especially if he was panicking." Zeller shot back and Hannibal raised a brow at him, a faint smile flickering across his face.
"How about we just let Will do his thing and find out before you two start up a debate?" Katz said with a pointed look at all of them and Will sent her an appreciative look as she led the others away.
Closing his eyes, Will let the pendulum wind back time.
"Good morning Samuel." He greets Ferric, a welcoming smile gracing his face as he waves the other man into the room. The scenery of the park has been replaced by the walls of an office and he now stands behind a large oak desk. The details of his surroundings are hazy though, unsure and shifting as his mind fabricates an unknown location.
Samuel nods his head in greeting, too anxious to speak as he wrings his hands in front of him. Today is the day they'll attempt to overcome his fear and he supposes that Ferric has every reason to be intimidated.
Moving around the desk to stand beside a large wooden box, he motions Samuel forward with a wave of his hand and raises the lid to reveal the red dirt inside.
"As we've discussed before, you have an acute fear of being buried alive, or what is called Taphophobia. In this session we'll be attempting to overcome that fear." He pauses to make sure Samuel is following and smiles when the young man nods. "Now, you'll be enclosed in this box for thirty seconds. It won't be locked so you'll be able to open it whenever you'd like."
Helping Ferric into the box, he waits until the younger man is lying down to close the lid and retrieve his notebook. He sits in the lid of the box and places a padlock through the latch. His patient is just beginning to panic, yelling for him to let him out and he whistles softly to himself as he jots down Samuel's reaction. After a couple of minutes Ferric quiets down and he writes that down as well, wondering whether or not the young man has decided to conserve his air.
Will came back to himself with a sharp intake of breath. He held it in his lungs for a moment before letting it out and blinking his eyes open. He was no longer in the office, the bookshelves now replaced by trees and the box now open with Samuel Ferric's body beside it.
Hannibal was crouched beside the body, inspecting Samuel's fingernails when Will looked over at him.
"He died from fear." Will said after a few moments of watching Hannibal work. "He was afraid of being buried alive and our killer locked him in a box full of dirt. It caused too much adrenaline to go to his heart and Ferric went into cardiac arrest."
Hannibal was looking at him now as he stood up. "That would explain the reason behind our victim's fingernail's being lodged into the lid of the box. He was trying to claw his way out."
"Wouldn't you?" Will asked sharply but the other man only raised a brow in question. Will muttered an apology under his breath and Hannibal chuckled.
"Did you find out anything else?" He asked and Will nodded.
"He wasn't killed here." Will gestured to the park. "I was in an office and I placed Samuel in the box and locked him in with a padlock.
Then I sat on the lid and took notes, waited for him to stop struggling before I went back to my desk." He paused, brows knitting together in thought. "It was a therapy session."
"Brilliant." Hannibal leaned down and pressed a quick kiss to Will's lips before motioning Price over.
"In the autopsy, pay close attention to his heart. Check for any problems he might have with his heart as well as any excessive amounts of adrenaline."
Price nodded before he looked over at Will. "Both of them were wrong then?" He asked good-naturedly and grinned when Will nodded.
"Meet victims number one and two." Zeller announced as he showed Will and Hannibal the bodies of Arthur Emerson and Jane Gille.
"Our first victim, Gille, was frozen and Emerson here was burned alive. At first we thought he was killing them with each of the elements,"
"Actually, that was just Brian that thought that." Price cut in and Zeller glared at him half-heartedly.
"And our third victim seems to confirm that theory since he was buried in dirt. That's three out of the four main elements."
"Then Will brought up phobias and we turned our attention their."
After that Hannibal and Zeller began a game of throwing ideas and motives back and forth at each other. If Will didn't see Hannibal as a such a mature, put-together human being he would have pegged it as childish banter. Katz and Price worked around them, feeding Will the information they had gathered from autopsy and analysis of the victim's clothing.
Glancing over at Hannibal briefly to see him and Zeller bending intently over a body, he returned his attention to the others only to be met with the hazy interior of what appeared to be a restaurant kitchen. As with the previous time in the office he can't make out details, just the impression of stainless steel tables and a large door to his right.
He is once again waiting patiently for his next appointment to arrive. This time it is a young raven haired woman with startling grey eyes. She returns his warm smile with one of her own and shakes his hand firmly.
"You look much more relaxed than I had anticipated." He comments as she sits her Coach bag down on the table beside a black leather bound notebook.
"I was going over calming exercises my yoga instructor taught me the whole ride hear to be honest." She informs him with a small nervous laugh. He nods in sympathy and guides her toward the large metal door. It is a storage freezer with a large handle and even larger lock. The woman's gulp is audible as he leads her toward it but she relaxes slightly when he places a hand at the small of her back.
"That's good." He tells her reassuringly. "You'll need to be as calm a possible today since we'll finally be facing your fears."
"Yes." She agrees as she walks into the freezer. A shudder runs through her body that has nothing to do with the cold of the room. Her breath ghosts into the air as she looks around her at the various frozen items around her.
"No need to get panicked." He assures with a warm smile and she relaxes again. "You'll only be in here for thirty second, less if I see that you can't handle it."
She nods, a brief flash of panic bursting in her eyes as he makes his way back to the door. The door is shut with a firm hiss of the airlock. Much to his pleasure it takes a full minute before he hears the scrape of her nails on the door as she searches for a way to open the door. It is an old freezer with an old design, one he'd chosen because of the added detail that there was no way to open it from the inside. The banging follows afterward and he can here her calls to let her out ringing through the thick metal. Picking up his notebook he opens it to a fresh page and begins to take notes.
It takes a whole hour before she falls silent and another three before he opens the freezer door. She is pressed against the freezer wall beside the door, frozen and lifeless in curled position to conserve warmth. Her grey irises are practically white, colorless from the frost that has settled over the motionless orbs. Her lips are now a dark blue color along with the veins that stand in stark contrast to her pale skin. Crouching down, he pulls her body into his arms and makes his way out to the empty parking lot where he then dumps her. Someone on the morning shift will find her.
"They were receiving treatment to overcome their phobia's." Will spoke up as his eyes blinked open. He motioned toward the body of the raven haired woman currently laying on a stainless steel slab before them. "She was terrified of freezing to death and came to our killer for help. Instead he locked her in a storage freezer and took notes."
"If he's focusing on fear, then perhaps we should as well." Hannibal said after a moment of thought and Will nodded.
"Way ahead of you." Will said with a smile. (And he really shouldn't be smiling, not after what he'd just seen.) Hannibal didn't comment on the bout of glee and instead followed Will out of the Bureau.
"A pleasure to see you again. Mr Graham." Chilton said as he shook Will's hand.
"The pleasure's all mine." Will assured as Hannibal surveyed the office, noting the medium sized black notebook that was now being stowed away from their sight. Dr. Chilton was all welcoming smiles and polite curiosity as he motioned for them to take a seat. Will obliged but Hannibal chose to remain standing, moving slightly behind Will's chair and placing a hand on the seat's backing beside his partner's shoulder.
It was a possessive gesture that Will chose not to comment on but still sent a chill through his body.
"At dinner you mentioned that Cuthridge let his fear rule his actions."
"Yes, killing his unfaithful girlfriend to conquer that fear." Chilton cut in with a wave of his hand.
"I wanted to speak to you about that." Will said in a clipped tone. Hannibal's hand moved down to his shoulder and Will's anger against the doctor's dismissive attitude diminished slightly.
"Speak to me about what, Mr. Graham. You'll have to be more specific." The other man said in a mockingly polite tone and Hannibal's eyes narrowed ever so much.
"Conquering fear, Dr. Chilton." Will snapped, patience running thin. Chilton only glanced at the clock to his left, ever-present smile on his face.
"'You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so.'" The psychologist began and Will's brow furrowed.
"'For remember, fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind.'" Will finished and Chilton clapped his hands together once.
"Ah, you know the quote. You see, Cuthridge made up his mind to conquer his fear of abandonment by making sure his girlfriend never got the chance to leave. In his case, that fear was all-consuming and deadly, but in all reality Mr. Graham, fear is one of the best defense mechanisms we have. It heightens our senses and allows us to connect with our surroundings in a way that no other emotion can. When you conquer your fears you open the gateway to perseverance, and by extension, survival. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment to keep."
With that, Chilton left the room and Will pinched the bridge of his nose. A heavy sigh fell from his lips as he closed his eyes tightly for a moment. When he opened them Hannibal was standing behind Chilton's desk with a black leather-bound book in his hands. A jolt ran though him as he watched Hannibal leaf through the pages.
"Where did you get that?" He asked as he stood up and grabbed the book from Hannibal's hands.
"Chilton's desk; he hid it when we were first arriving." Hannibal told him as Will turned through the pages. He came to a stop on a nearly empty page, marked only with the name Rebecca Morgan and an address. Will took a moment to curse himself having never told Hannibal about the journal in both flashbacks, because of course Hannibal wouldn't have connected evidence he knew nothing about.
"We have to find Chilton." Will told him as he raced from the room.
On the car ride to the address in the book, Will called Jack and informed him of what they'd then gave the man the address and silently hoped that they'd reach it in time.
They arrived at the address in the journal to see Chilton lowering Rebecca from the roof with a rope swing. She was visibly shaken and Will felt his stomach knot as he took note of the balcony below and just to her right. He could make it, he thought, but only if he hurried.
Taking off for the entrance, he spared a glance over his shoulder to see Hannibal moving in the opposite direction. He focused back on the reaching Rebecca as he took the stairs two at a time. As he reached the balcony there's a scream from above that sends his heart into his throat.
The woman fell, legs kicking and arms pinwheeling as a scream is ripped from her throat. Will reaches her just in time, fingers latching onto the tips of her own and then slipping away.
A strangled shout is ripped from his throat as she continues to fall. He can't look, can't watch. But he sees. He sees her plummet toward the ground below. Sees the arm reach out from the balcony opposite him and one story below. See's her buckle against the strong arm pulling her over the rail.
Breath rushed into his lungs in a sigh of relief and Hannibal caught his eye for a moment before turning his attention to the distraught woman in his arms. Will drew his gun and made his way to the elevator. One it reached the ground floor it dinged open and he raised to point at Chilton, who calmly raises his hands.
"Please step out of the elevator, Mr. Chilton." Will commanded and the other man complied, hands still in the air.
"May I lower my arms?" He asked with his ever present boyish smile. "I'm afraid my fingers are starting to tingle."
"Go right ahead, Mr. Chilton. Although I'd do it slowly if I were you." Jack told him as he arrived in the hall. Chilton did as asked and Jack caught his wrists and cuffed them before grabbing a tight hold of the psychiatrist's upper arm. Will walked beside them as Chilton was led to the cruiser, not allowing his gaze to slip to the ambulance now parked in the lot. Hannibal was there, he knew, along with Rebecca. The woman whose life he'd let slip through his fingers. He shuddered and looked over to see Chilton smiling at him with a knowing look.
Jack pushed him into the patrol car's back seat and slammed the door.
"You okay?" He asked and Will nodded.
"Yeah," He pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm fine."
"Good. Get Hannibal and go home. Get some rest." Crawford commanded and Will let a smile tilt his lips.
"Sir, yes sir." He mumbled as he made his way to the car. A few minutes later Hannibal joined him and started the engine.
"She's fine." The older man told him. "Just a little shocked. She's going to be taken to the hospital just so they can keep an eye on her for a few hours and she'll most likely need to give a statement of events, but she's fine."
Will sighed as they reached a red light. "Is this your way of telling me that I didn't fuck up?" He questioned and a somewhat boyish smile lit Hannibal's face.
"No, this is my way of telling you that she's perfectly okay and that there's no reason you should feel guilty." The red light changed to green.
"I let her fall." He pointed out and Hannibal glanced at him before focusing back on the road.
"She slipped through your fingers. You didn't let her do anything.I highly doubt she'd hold any ill will toward your for trying to save her life catching her would-be killer." He paused and brushed a lick of brown hair from the frame of Will's glasses. "So don't hold it toward yourself."
Will didn't agree with him but he didn't reply either.
That night when Will asked Hannibal to fuck him the older man simply held him and placed a kiss to his shoulder. He promised Will that he'd never hurt him and if Will shook ever so much in his arms, he didn't mention it.
He held him and called him brilliant.
A/N: So, so, so, so, so, sooooooo sorry for the long waiting period for this second case. I lost all my outlines and hand to rewrite them, then my internet got turned off. It's back on now though, so I'll start speeding up my writing by A LOT.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the chapter!