Not Beta Read. Read at own risk.
In spite of his very clear instructions on the matter, it came as little surprise for Hannibal to find Will already in Jack's office. As per his agreement with the FBI in exchange for Will's services, the empath not supposed to be allowed out in the field or left alone with another Alpha(i.e. Jack Crawford) without Hannibal there.
Though he had flexible up to a certain point in the past about this for his own reasons and certain advantages, Hannibal didn't like that the rules were being broken by someone else other than him, especially after the Tobias Budge incident. Sensing his Alpha's ire through their bond, Will knew this as soon as Hannibal entered the room, the Omega sinking lower into his seat when Hannibal fixed a cool look upon him. He chose not to say anything until later when they were alone. Aware of the other Alpha in the room, Hannibal was unwilling to give Jack any ground to gain leverage upon.
The agent was looking for any loophole to take Will from him by any means possible. It didn't help that Will was constantly being emotionally black mailed into undermining efforts to protect him. Hannibal had already spent too long picking the other Alpha's mental hooks out of Will, fixing the damage done by them. He was not one to waste time and effort on projects or see them ruined by other people.
Setting aside the issue for now, Hannibal went over to the evidence board instead to look at the smiling faces of dead girls, eleven in all now. Ten had disappeared without a trace. There was one anomaly though with the eighth, Elise Nichols. She had been left in her bed for her parents to find, returned to her home by her killer for reasons yet unknown.
"I don't know what you expect from me, Jack. You know I need more than just pictures to work with. I'm not psychic. My kind of weird only goes so far." Will said in frustration from where he was seated, throwing the battered case file back on Jack's desk. The agent had passed it off a while ago to Will, but there had been very little that he could do with it. His type of talent was more 'hands on'.
"You must be getting something though. You can empathize with sociopaths and psychopaths. Tell me what kind he is." Jack pressed, leaning in to look over his folded hands at Will like that was going prompt the man's brain work faster for him.
"I can empathize with anyone." Will snapped back, his frustration a tangible thing in Hannibal's head. While Will hid in the woods to avoid confrontation, the fields that lay between them in their shared mindscape grew stormy, wind whipping up the pale grass there. "It has less to do with a personality disorder than an overactive imagination."
"So use it. We have nothing to go on. No bodies, no parts of bodies, nothing that comes out of bodies. Nothing." Jack argued. The agent was as impatient as ever, this case beginning to wear him down thin. Jack Crawford was a man who was tired of killers eluding him. He was beginning to feel mocked by them.
"Except for one. One that was returned for the most part whole." Hannibal pointed out, tapping the board. He mentally nudged his mate, sending a wave of calm toward him like a sun breaking through the clouds, watching as Will breathed out in relief from it outwardly and inwardly as their fields grew green again.
They had become more in synch with each other since their near death experiences at the hands of Tobias Budge. It had prompted both Alpha and Omega to accept their Bond mentally, though each in their own unique way and on different levels. Physically speaking, Hannibal's leg was mostly healed with only a thin scar as a reminder, the Alpha still walking with a slight limp that he assured Will would go away over time. Though the wounds in his hand had healed cleanly thanks to Hannibal's expert care, Will's ruptured eardrum was taking longer, his hearing still a bit off from it.
"Yes, all except for Elise Nichols. I need you to tell me why. All the whys and everything else that goes with that. Like where and when was she abducted? Why she was returned? How is he making them disappear? Tell me what you see." Jack wasn't shy about asking for it all.
"You need to stop calling them that…abductions. We all know that they are not. He's killing them. The eighth is proof enough of that." Will grimaced, nodding to the abandoned dead.
"Then where is he taking them from? Elise Nichols disappeared on a Friday, the weekend she was supposed to be house-sitting for her parents." Jack said, getting up out of his seat to glare at the evidence board which was depressingly bare of any real evidence save for smiling pictures.
"Whatever he is doing to them it takes roughly three days to do it." Will reasoned out.
"So where were they taken from?" Jack muttered.
"I don't know, Jack. Someplace else." Will huffed, getting up to stand beside Hannibal. He didn't like the Alpha so close to his mate, placing himself between the two. Not the smartest move for an Omega, but one Will felt he needed to do. Hannibal was his….everything, and that was something he had never been able to claim before. He wanted to keep what they had safe, felt driven to do that. "He's keeping them somewhere while he works."
"They are all quite dead you know." Hannibal quietly offered up, letting his shoulder brush Will's own. They needed to keep it professional, but he found Will's gesture of protection touching, like a mongoose guarding a snake. Misguided and foolish, but touching none the less.
"I know. He keeps getting himself a new one." Will sighed, wanting to lean into the man beside him. His old friend exhaustion was gnawing at his nerves, bringing his bitch headache with him.
"So we will focus on the anomaly then. She is our key to all this." Hannibal said, touching the picture's edge to get a momentary burst of mirth through their bond from Will for some reason.
"You mean she's the only body we got." Will said, running his hands over his face. He leaned in to study all the girls, his eyes lingering over their visages' details. "They are all very mall of America, don't you think?"
"Same hair color, same eye color, roughly the same age, weight, and height as well. This killer is particular. That is important." Hannibal nodded. Particular and stupid. Having a type of victim narrowed it down, made it easier to make a profile and find connections that led back to the killer. It was one of the reason he picked his pigs from all different creeds, genders, races, and colors. Luckily for his kitchen, rude was universal.
"What is it about all these girls?" Jack looked but didn't see, not like how the pair was doing beside him.
"It's not about all these girls. It's about one of them." Will said softly, making the two Alphas look over at him. The Omega hardly noticed though, too busy chasing the thinking of a killer as he tilted his head in thought. "He's like Willy Wonka. Every girl is a candy bar. Hidden amongst all those candy bars is the one true intended victim, which if we follow through on the metaphor, would be your Golden Ticket.
"The question is then is he warming up for his Golden Ticket or reliving whatever he did to her?" Jack said, going along with the ride for now.
"No. He's hiding how special this young woman is." Hannibal mused aloud. In a way, it was very clever thing to do for such a stupid killer, seeking replacements like that so he would do no harm to the original, keeping this prized girl all to himself. Part of him was distracted by Will working in his gallery, contrasting and changing his newest exhibition of this killer as his mind gathered more information. It was a continuous process of renovation and change.
"Do you have the autopsy report on Elise Nichols?" Will asked, Jack moving to find it for him. The proof would be in the pudding as some would say. This killer had kept all the others except this one. There was something special about Elise or something very wrong. It was his job to find out which. He was creating a space in his head for this killer, fleshing it out of wood and backdrops of midnight.
Report in hand, Will's eyes skimmed over the details, feeling Hannibal's presence at his shoulder, the Alpha reading over his shoulder. "There was antler velvet in the wounds?" Will asked without really doing so. His brain was working overtime now, calling up facts and seeing how they fit before discarding them to move onto something new.
"Yes. Why is that special?" Jack asked. Hannibal wanted to mock his attempts to try and keep up with them. Watching Will from ground zero was thrilling, though Hannibal kept his own observations to himself not wanting to taint Will's process. He had a different sort of insider's look on the matter anyway. He wanted to see where Will's mind took him, how clever his mate was.
"In some cultures, antler velvet is thought of to promote healing." Hannibal considered to them, growing impatient enough to give Will a prompt. "But I think it would be safe to presume that this is not the case in this situation."
"Then why would it be there?" Jack growled. He wanted answers, not useless information.
"She was mounted and bled." Will said, already seeing it in his mind. Hannibal appreciated the view as well, peeking on Will to see Elise losing life in liquid form from her archaic crucifixion. Standing in snow covered wood at night, he moved to stand just behind Will as the empath stared up at her, at the cruel tips that pierced her flesh. His mate's becoming was so near at hand, Hannibal could practically taste blood from Will's future kill. He grinned into the back of Will's head, hiding his near gleeful expression in dark curls.
"Her liver was removed then placed back within her." Hannibal noted, keeping his tone flat and clinical. Will hummed in agreement, leaning back into his mate as he stared at what his imagination had created for them. There was really only one reason this killer would have done that. This man, this hunter, had been rash and was already making mistakes. If you were going to leave a body behind, you should never do so out of remorse. Emotions made one careless.
"Why cut out her liver at all if he was just going to sew it back in again?" made Hannibal wish he could gut the other Alpha, the pair hearing Jack on the edge of their perceptions. To Will's amusement, he noted that Hannibal found Jack insufferable blind to the obvious.
"Something was wrong with the meat." Will said too harshly as he came back partially to himself to keep Jack in the loop, the empath choking on equal parts air and realization. In the mirror of his mind, he was pulling Elise's liver out of her body, could feel the weight of it in his hand. He was inspected it alongside Hannibal who looked down at the organ in a disapproving manner, the way he did when he found sub par ingredients in his kitchen.
"She had liver cancer." Hannibal clarified to the agent, tapping it out on the autopsy report as his inner image put the liver back in Elise's body for safe keeping. Will was too busy staring down at the crimson stain that coated his hands thick and wet up to his wrists.
"Bad meat." Hannibal whispered in Will's ear. He liked how blood dripped off his mate's hands, drying under his fingernails, and marking his skin with the scent of iron.
"It's an apology." Will faintly said aloud, so that everyone could hear.
"What is he apologizing for?" Jack was like a third wheel. Greedily, Hannibal felt that this pivotal moment should be all for them, a cornerstone in making Will into the predator he was always meant to be.
"For killing her…" Will said as light and delicate as an Oracle of Delphi, high and brilliant on ancient poisonous gases. "...it's a waste."
"A waste of what? In what regard?" Jack pressed and pushed for his answer, relentless now that it was in sight.
"He's eating them." Will confirmed for the room, his voice reedy and wavering. His hands shook as he ran them down his face as if to clear his eyes of such grim knowledge though his mind was shining bright with it and full of death, beautiful in its starkness. "That's why we're not finding any bodies." Will whispered, pushing back to escape from the men in room and the grim art of his own twisted mind. "Excuse me…"
Running, Will barely made it to the bathroom in time to empty out his stomach's contents. For some reason the taste of sausage he'd eaten for breakfast made him throw up some more until he was left dry heaving.
Something else was there, sitting on the edge of his perception, bloated and evil, but a headache and this case was keeping it at bay for now, coloring everything around him red, like blood in the water. When he was sure he was done and his stomach was twisted out dry, Will swished his mouth clean, washing his face for good measure as well. That was how Jack found him, bent over a sink with his face dripping wet.
"What are you doing in here?" the agent barked.
"I enjoy the smell of urinal cake." Will said dryly in a rasping voice, sore around the edges from all the stomach acid. He didn't want to be here anymore. He wanted his soft bed at Hannibal's house, their home, with the warmth of his Alpha beside him. He didn't want to think about dead girls or the cannibal that was eating them anymore. Will just wanted to give in for once and let himself be protected, guarded by his Alpha.
"Me too. Let's talk." Jack snapped, making it obvious that he wasn't about to let Will go without a discussion. The door opening behind them told of another joining their presence uninvited.
"Use the ladies room!" Jack bellowed, throwing his power as an Alpha about. Will winced as he felt it slap up against him, uncomfortable but ineffective despite how ill and tired he was.
"I will decline." Hannibal stated calmly, arching a brow at Jack. He was completely unaffected as well, moving to stand close to Will. He could smell the sickness coming off of his mate's skin, fever sweet. His Omega's Heat was coming, creeping into every part of his being. It wouldn't be long now.
"Do you respect my judgment?" Jack asked them both, demanding their attention elsewhere.
"Your judgment, perhaps. Your motivations, not so much." Hannibal answered for Will who turned his head into his side. He realized his mate must be tired if he was willing to let Hannibal speak for him, seeking out the comfort of his close presence. "I understand your wanting to catch this killer, but your methods leave a lot to be desired."
"We have a better chance of catching this guy with Will in the saddle." Jack argued, raising his voice but not daring to come closer. It was a well know fact that an Alpha became aggressively protective when an Omega was injured or sick. This feeling was only amplified when the pair was bonded. With soul mates, it would be considered suicidal to try and come between the two. Will was definitely looking under the weather, the man pale and sweating out enough pain to scent. For once, Jack wisely chose to keep his distance.
"I'm in the saddle, but I'm confused about what direction I am being pointed in. I don't know this kind of psychopath. Hell, I don't even know if he is a psychopath. He's not insensitive. He's not shallow. I've never read anything before on a mind like this." Will mustered up his reserves to face Jack though he kept close to Hannibal's side.
"You could tell something about him or else you wouldn't have said that this was an apology. What is he apologizing for? For not eating her?" Jack started to pace. He didn't like killers who got creative and didn't fit the formulas.
No!" Will snapped, beginning to lose his patience. Did he really have to explain everything for him? Did they really not see? Was everyone just that blind? "For not honoring her."
"Feeling bad defeats the purpose of being a psychopath, doesn't it?" Jack argued, stopping short to give Will a hard look.
"Yes. Yes, it does. At least in the way we understand it." Will sighed, feeling at a loss. Hannibal's hand on his back steadied him though as his shoulders began to slump with fatigue once again.
"Then what kind of crazy is he?" Jack yelled, coming to the end of his patience. Will would have jumped at the sudden increase in volume if he weren't so used to it.
"He couldn't show her that he loved her by eating her, by honoring her so he put her back where he killed her. Whatever crazy that is." Will growled back, feeling a particular sort of frustration that came from dealing with 'normal' people. He didn't experience this sort of aggravation when he was with Hannibal.
"You think he loves these girls? This is about showing his love? Psychopaths can't do that. Their kind of crazy doesn't allow for love." Jack said, staring Will down while doing his best to ignore Hannibal who kept himself in-between them.
"Psychopaths are not crazy. They are fully aware of what they do, and the consequences of those actions. Even those concerning love." Hannibal interjected. He was on the strange precipice of that emotion as well.
"Well, he loves one of them, and I think by association, he has some form of love for the others." Will nodded, his mate's incite welcome.
"There was no semen or salvia. Elise Nichols died a virgin and her corpse kept that promise." Jack said, proving further to Will that he just didn't get it. The rumble of appall in his mind made Will realize that Hannibal picked up on this as well.
"That's not how he's loving them! He wouldn't disrespect them like that!" Will yelled more out of disgust that anything else.
"One doesn't mate with meat." Hannibal added on a more personal note, not that anyone noticed.
"He doesn't want these girls to suffer. He's killing them with what he thinks is mercy." Will said, at a loss at how to explain it further in terms that Jack could grasp.
"A sensitive psychopath? One who would risk getting caught just so he could tuck Elise Nichols back into bed? How do I catch that kind of crazy!?" Jack asked, despite having been given his answers. Hannibal considered them wasted on the man.
"I don't know!" Will shouted in aggravation.
"Well figure it out!" Jack bellowed back, his expansive voice bouncing off of tile walls harsh enough to make Hannibal wince.
"Why don't you figure it out if you don't like my answers!? You're the head of behavioral sciences! Come up with your own answers if you don't like my own." Will sassed, having been pushed to his limit and then over it.
"I'm not hearing this!" Jack roared, moving forward until he found could not. Hannibal's power was sword and shield as he pushed Will behind him, his eyes flashing scarlet in warning at the other Alpha.
"Will, go to the car. We are done here." Hannibal said in a tone of voice that brooked no disagreement. Will felt too tired to argue so he ducked his head, refusing to look over at Jack as he left.
"Jack…" Hannibal chided, well within his right to do so. He could have Jack's proverbial head served up on a silver platter for his gross professional misconduct. An Alpha threatening a claimed and bonded Omega would not go over well with any board of employment, the gender basically considered property.
"I need to push him. I need answers. Those families need answers. Their dead daughters need their killer caught and brought to justice." Jack said, trying for the moral high ground. Hannibal was unimpressed by its height, easily overlooking it.
"That may be but Will must get there on his own. He will get there. Eventually." Hannibal shrugged, taking his own leave. He was amused when Jack followed him out in a vain attempt to reason with him. Hannibal already had some thoughts in motion on the matter. Jack's wishes were inconsequential at this point.
"I don't have time for 'eventually'." Jack grumbled, coming up short when Hannibal stopped suddenly, turning to smile at the agent. And how could he not?
This case was perfect, practically tailor made for what Hannibal needed. He would create the ideal moment to reveal his true nature to Will, set off his Omega's Heat with just the right amount of stress applied to frayed nerves, and turn his mate into the perfect companion for him, an equal in the know to hunt with.
"This cannibal you have my mate getting to know…..I think I can help good Will see his face."
Will woke up hard and wanting, breathing in deeply the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla and musk that were all Hannibal. He vaguely remembering coming home, of being carried to their bedroom, and Hannibal stripping him down before joining Will in bed. Breathing out heat, Will crawled across the king sized mattress to where his mate was lounging, Hannibal awake and watching him. It wouldn't have surprised Will at all if Hannibal had simply left his side to see if he would wake up or not upon noticing his absence. Will found that he didn't give a flying fuck. He just wanted Hannibal.
Choosing to settle between Hannibal's legs, Will shoved them apart to create more space for himself, Hannibal smiling indulgently at the aggressive gestures. Will could read that the Alpha was curious to see what Will was planning on doing.
Feeling vicious and not knowing why, Will bit down on Hannibal's thigh in answer, the inner part where it was soft on everyone. Gasping, Hannibal's hands flew to his head, but made no attempt to pull Will off as his teeth broke skin. Trim fingernails grazed Will's scalp, making the Omega purr as he tasted blood. Releasing the bruising flesh, Will lapped at his mark, the perfect indentations left behind by his teeth. The scent of Hannibal's musk was heavy here, making Will feel almost drunk off the pheromones.
Turning his head to the real prize at hand, Will laved his blood coated tongue over the velvety skin of Hannibal's balls, the Alpha tensing as his breathe stuttered to see if that precious bit of sensitive skin would get the same treatment as his inner thigh. Will noted that the thought didn't seem to bother Hannibal much though, the Alpha's cock responding beautifully to either sensation.
"Masochist." Will chuckled darkly, before running his tongue up Hannibal's length to take the bulbous tip into his mouth. Swirling his tongue over and along the slit to taste bitter salt, Will scraped his teeth gently against the side of the swollen flesh.
"Sadist actually." Hannibal corrected, stroking his fingers through Will's curls and marveled at their shine and softness. His care for the Omega was reflecting in the man's appearance, Will's skin, eyes, and hair glowing with health from regular meals and expensive product. Strong hands were on his thighs, Will keeping them apart and his hips in place. The comment made Will's come off of his erection though, the Omega looking up at him with a thoughtful look as he traced a finger through Hannibal's blood, the wound in his thigh oozing.
"Do you want to hurt me?" Will asked curiously, proud of himself for being able to do. Not too long ago, any of this interaction would have ended the moment between them. Now he could hear and feel Hannibal in his mind, unfurling within him to scrape at his own inner walls, could feel the Alpha growing more excited as he watched Will draw patterns on his skin in his own blood.
"No, beloved. Not unless you asked me to." Hannibal sighed out in pleasure as Will began to give him slow and easy head, his hand placed firmly over the bite mark to make it sting and contrast with all the pleasure he was receiving. "And even then, I believe it would be very hard for me to do so."
"I don't know what I want anymore. I feel too much. It's confusing." Will rasped, throat still too sore from earlier to keep doing this sort of thing. He rose off of Hannibal's cock, leaning up give his Alpha a wet kiss. Hannibal could taste himself on Will's lips as he licked his way into his mate's mouth, nipping at his lips to bloody them in turn.
"You'll be in Heat soon. I can smell it in your skin." Hannibal mouthed the words into Will's neck, decorating the pale column of it equally with nips to redden and kisses to tingle. Will's scent was strong here, making Hannibal feel heady and light headed as he touched and was touched just as greedily back in return.
"What does it smell like?" Will arched his throat and tilting it to the side, baring it perfectly for his mate to claim and mark. He already had a collar of scars, but he knew Hannibal loved to put another link in the chain whenever he could. He bit his lip to keep from making a sound as Hannibal did just that.
"A fevered sweetness, light and delicate." Hannibal growled out as he released Will's flesh, his teeth stained with blood.
"Do I have time to catch this killer?" Will considered, pushing his mate back against the bed to straddle him properly. Grabbing hold of Hannibal's cock, Will aligned himself with it, his opening already slick enough to drip excess down his thighs. As he pressed inch after inch into himself, watching Hannibal's face the entire time, Will found it was still a tight fit, making both still for a moment to level out and gain back control.
"Yes. I believe so." Hannibal licked his bottom lip before running his teeth over it, the habitual gesture endearing to Will. It meant he was having an effect on the stoic Alpha, that he held that kind of power over his mate. Hannibal's large hands stroked Will's sides before coming to rest on his hips, gently rocking the Omega so that his cock settled further in him. "I am confident enough in my assessment to leave you for a time…"
"What? What are you talking about? We are in the middle of a case." Will gasped as Hannibal flexed his hips to thrust upward, Will bracing himself with his thighs and splayed out hands on Hannibal's chest for traction and resistance.
"An old patient of mine is asking for a favor. I will only be gone a few days. You can stay in Wolf Trap while I'm away and visit your pack." Hannibal offered sweetly, leaning up so that he could taste Will's mouth and the blood on his neck again. Will moved to accommodate, the position difficult for a wide range of movement, but wonderful for feeling the Alpha so swollen and heavy inside of him.
"How very primitive of you. Leaving me out in the middle of nowhere, far away from any other Alpha who might come and claim me at my weakest moment." Will laughed, baring down with his weight to take in more if he could, liking the way he could make Hannibal grunt and move beneath him in answer.
"I wouldn't be considering this if I didn't feel you were safe." Hannibal said as he marked Will's shoulder and chest further in mild retribution for evoking such undignified behavior from him. Will yelped in surprise and over stimulation as his nipples were bitten, a ring of teeth left around both to match.
"Where are you going? Someplace exotic?" Will reached to cup Hannibal's face with his hands, asking each question with a kiss, touching the Alpha's sharp cheekbones and bridge of nose with his lips. "How long will you be gone?"
"Three, four days at the most. As for exotic, I doubt many could claim that sort of descriptor about Nebraska." Hannibal told his mate. He was flying into Omaha to visit a colleague just long enough for an alibi so that he could drive into Minnesota unnoticed. He had plans there for the Minnesota Strike.
"My condolences." Will snorted, not bothering to hide his amusement and smug joy about not having to go. "I hope you enjoy corn. I hear they grow a lot of it out there."
Hannibal found he liked this, this almost tranquil pace between them, the flow of conversation as they rose and fell in time with each other. This sweet and easy peace between them was seductive and Hannibal wanted to make it commonplace, the thought strengthening his resolve to leave, even with Will on the brink of Heat. He would move quickly and with purpose. The results would be well worth the hardship of being so far from his mate.
Falling forward so that Will's back hit the mattress, Hannibal drove himself into Will making the Omega cry out at the deeper penetration. Will wrapped his legs around Hannibal, hooking his ankles together to help encourage this. Arching his back and doing his best to keep up with the brutal pace, Will clung to Hannibal as the Alpha claimed him thoroughly, teeth embedded in his neck again.
It was like he only existed for this now, this moment of perfect clarity between them as he came with his cock trapped between them, the slide of their sweat covered stomachs over it soon coated in white.
Feeling boneless and loose limbed, Will panted as he felt Hannibal fill him with a noticeable warmth, the Alpha's cry muffled by the flesh he held between his teeth. Flexing his neck, Will winced knowing that he would have several more marks to tend to. Instead of fear worming its way into his head though about it, he felt a strange sense of pride instead, knowing that other Alphas would see his scar collar. Know that he was claimed and bonded, could never be theirs. It was a hallmark desire of his gender, but one Will could finally feel comfortable embracing. Hannibal had proven to him that Will could trust his mate.
As Hannibal cleaned his neck with broad tongue strokes, Will's thoughts wandered to his own mark on Hannibal's inner thigh, wondering if the Alpha would let it scar. Will had the strangest feeling that he would, his arms wrapping around to caress the lithe muscles of Hannibal's back, slick and fragrant with sweat and musk.
"What if Jack calls me while you're away?" Will asked, not really wanting to. He didn't want this moment to end.
"Then go to him. I trust you." Hannibal practically purred out the words in Will's skin, hiding his smile against his Omega's neck. He was counting on Jack calling Will and Will answering that call to set his plans into motion.
"You know who you belong to."