It begins as a buzzing, a low intermittent restlessness beginning at the base of Will's skull and spreading outwards. There is a crawling sensation under his skin, one of his legs twitches as if in an effort to escape. Will takes a deep breath and tries to hold it. Walks to the corner of his cell where there is a cup of water and takes a swig. This feeling is a little like thirst, a lot like drowning. He can't keep still but movement brings no relief. The buzzing has evolved to a high pitched whining sound in his ears, his skin prickling, chest aching. He imagines a swarm of bees trapped inside the hollowed out drum of his chest, crawling over one another, and butting against his ribs. He clutches at the roots of his hair, tugs at it, bites at his lips. Nothing helps. He can feel every fibre of the shirt on his back, clinging to his suddenly far too sensitive skin. He struggles with the urge to tear it off, aware that the cool press of air would be just as bad.
"This isn't psychosis," Will says.
It's been hours since it started and Will is crouched, huddled in the far corner of his cell, cheek pressed against the metal legs of his bed.
"How can you be sure?" Hannibal's voice seems to ripple through the darkened room. Will imagines the molecules in the air shifting with the sound waves, tries not to flinch at the thought of them moving against his skin.
"This isn't – normal – for me. Something…" Will gasps out. He rubs at his eyes. "You did something."
"Hmmm," Hannibal reaches for the chart on the other side of Will's door, flicks though it. "You may be right."
Will looks up disbelievingly.
Hannibal's head is slightly bent, eyebrows raised in what looks like contrition. "It's possible that what you are experiencing is the interaction effect of two different medications. I was unaware Dr Chilton had prescribed meclizine. A case of too many psychiatrists spoil the broth, I'm afraid."
"You-" Will says. "I want to come off it."
"Of course," Hannibal says. "I'll make a note to discontinue the meclizine immediately."
"No," Will says.
Hannibal raises his eyebrows, questioningly.
"I want to come off all of them. All the medications. Please."
Hannibal sighs. "Will, I cannot guarantee your safety – the safety of the others in this building, if you are unmedicated. I would need to see significant improvements before I take such a step,"
"What –improvements would you need to see?"
"I need you to be open with me…"
"I am," Will says, hoarsely. "I am open with you."
Hannibal tilts his head. "Hardly, Will. There is still so much that you keep from me. I suppose – " he hesitates.
Hannibal sighs. "It's difficult for me to work under these conditions. Sharing you with other doctors. You see what happens when two psychiatrists work at cross purposes," Hannibal waves the chart.
"You want me to ask for you as my psychiatrist – only you."
"I believe the authorities might take your wishes into account - if you think it would be helpful."
Will stares at Hannibal, a long cold stare. "No more visits from Chilton, then."
"If you were under my exclusive care, no. No more visits from Dr Chilton, or Dr Bloom…."
Will draws in a breath. "You said she didn't want to see me,"
Hannibal shrugs. "I can't say I consider such an encounter advisable, not at present. Upsetting for you both."
Will holds his gaze for a long moment. "Fine." He says. "No Chilton. No Alana."
Hannibal's mouth twitches almost imperceptibly at the corners, "Well then," he says. "That's settled."
The buzzing dissipates slowly, leaving in its place a blunted nausea that sits low on Will's stomach. When he sits up his head swims, so instead he lies, legs carefully crossed and arms folded on his chest waiting for the withdrawal to fade. He imagines himself somewhere else, somewhere green and open, with the sky stretching above. He can almost smell the damp sweet smell of the earth, hear the distant rushing of the river – and over it the hard distinct click of shoes on linoleum.
"Back so soon."Will says. It's rude of him, but he can't bear to open his eyes. The world behind them is beautiful.
"I was concerned with how you might be feeling after the reduction in your medication," Hannibal says."But you look well."
"I feel better," Will says.
"Well, it's to be expected. And how are you feeling about the other conditions of our agreement?"
Will opens his eyes a little to look at Hannibal. The light stings, and he can only make Hannibal out dimly, a dark shadow in the doorway.
"A question for a question,"
"Quite," Hannibal says. There is a pause during which Will wonders he might be spared the ordeal this time. But no.
"Tell me about your mother."
Will's eyes do snap open at that."You've asked me this before."
"And you lied to me," Hannibal's voice is soft, reproachful. "We've agreed that you aren't going to do that anymore."
Will shuts his eyes again, presses his palms against them hard enough that he can see spots dancing in front of his vision.
"I don't really remember her."
"You remember something."
"Yeah, maybe." Will says. The green fields have vanished now, but the sky above him is still open, a pale endless pitiless blue. The air tastes thick with heat and dust, and he can feel the backdraft on his face from passing cars, the sound of them cracking like a whip as they pass him.
"Will," Hannibal's voice carries a warning note.
"She took me with her," Will says. "When she left my dad. I remember being, on – on the road with her. Sitting next to her in the front of the car. She was crying."
Hannibal lets out a soft breath, a sound that could mean approval, satisfaction. Will isn't stupid enough to take it as permission to stop talking..
"All of a sudden she pulled over to the side of the freeway. It was the middle of nowhere. She got out of the car, lifted me out and set me down. She was – still crying. She didn't even look at me. "
Will stops, takes a breath. The air around him feels too hot and close. He has the roaring of traffic in his ears.
"She drove away. She just left me there, on the side of the road with all the cars going past. You know how is feels when a car speeds past you? Like it's ripped the air around it clean in two. They went past, car after car. I couldn't hear myself think, couldn't call out to anyone."
"How long were you beside the roadside?"
"I don't know," Will says. "Not long. "
"Yet you remember it vividly."
"I'd rather forget it."
Hannibal makes a noise in the back of his throat.
"My turn," Will says. His throat still feels dry.
"Very well," Hannibal says.
"Your parents. Tell me what you remember about them."
"I've told you before," Hannibal says, in a bored tone. "I remember nothing."
"How old were you when they died?"
"Twelve," Hannibal said.
Will turns his head sharply to look at Hannibal. He's in the same position at the door, face expressionless.
"How did they die?"
"You've already asked your questions, I believe," Hannibal says.
Will frowns at him, and Hannibal smiles a little indulgently, a kindly uncle granting a child a favour.
"They were on holiday –hiking in the mountains. The mostly likely explanation is that they somehow lost their way and died of exposure."
"You were with them."
Hannibal shrugs. "As I said, I remember nothing about it."
"Don't you want to?"
Hannibal tilts his head, giving Will a long assessing look.
"Where do you think your mother went after she left you, with the tears streaming down her face, by the side of the road? What do you think she intended to do?"
Will looks away.
"Sometimes," Hannibal says. "Ignorance seems like the kinder option. Does it not?"
There is a short silence.
"I think we've made progress today, Will." Hannibal says, and Will looks up, hating himself for feeling a momentarily flash of pleasure at the warmth in his voice.
"I think so," Will echoes, dryly.
"Let me know if the nausea persists."
Will nods and closes his eyes again, as he hears Hannibal's footsteps echo into the distance. It isn't the field he sees now, or a deserted highway. Instead he imagines the cold sweet air blown over the top of the mountain, the distant bubble of a brook. Slowly, turning the images over in his mind, he starts to fall asleep.