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Title: Burning Out
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Untold Secrets."
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Hannibal Lecter or Will Graham, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***Maybe most people wouldn't see this as a vacation, but Will certainly did.
He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around his knees, drawing them up under his chin as he gazed out into the still waters of the lake spread out before him.
So he had decided not to go anywhere, but had instead opted to take his two weeks of vacation time here at home in Wolf Trap. This was the place the loved best, the most relaxing place he knew; there wasn't any other destination he'd wanted to head for.
Hannibal had agreed with him that staying at home would probably be the best way for him to take a vacation. He didn't need the stresses of traveling.
Staying here at home would allow him to do all the things he most enjoyed doing -- walks with his dogs, going fishing, relaxing at home with a good book -- and he wouldn't have to leave the place that made him feel the most safe and secure.
That was what a vacation was all about, right? he asked himself. Feeling relaxed and comfortable, letting all of his worries drift away and simply enjoying himself.
Though Will had to wonder if he would ever truly be able to do that.
He still felt too pressured to capture the killer that the FBI had been after for so long, too caught up in that to let himself fully relax.
Even when he was here fishing, when he should be at his most comfortable, there was always that little niggling thought in the back of his mind that he should be working; he should be doing something to catch the Chesapeake Ripper, not taking time off.
Hannibal would disagree with that, he knew. Even Jack would, now that Hannibal had explained to him that Will was starting to crack around the edges.
Will had to smile bitterly at that; it had taken Hannibal's words to convince Jack that he was burning out, that he needed some time off. Will himself hadn't been able to do that convincing; Jack hadn't listened to him, had simply steamrolled over his words.
Yet Hannibal had been able to convince Jack that Will needed a break, that he was going to end up as nothing but a useless husk if he didn't take some time away.
Everyone would listen to Hannibal, but never to him.
There were times when he felt as though he was being pulled in all directions, like a piece of taffy, with no thought given as to what that was doing to him.
No one cared how he felt, or what he needed. No one thought of the effects that any of this had on him, only of what they could get out of him.
And when they were done with him, they would discard him, throw him away, toss him aside like a used tissue. He had always known that the FBI could be callous and that their main objective was to catch the criminals they were after, but he hadn't realized that it would be at his expense.
Sometimes he hated what he did, hated being part of the FBI, hated using his abilities to help people who didn't give a damn about what it did to him.
Will sighed softly, closing his eyes and resting his chin on his knees. At least he was here, on vacation, rather than having to deal with yet another dead body.
That would happen again all too soon -- the merry-go-round would start up again, and Jack would expect to be able to trot him out to perform for him, to lead him to a killer who seemed to be ever more elusive, a killer who was always at least one step ahead of them.
He was becoming more and more burnt out the longer they worked on this case; the frustration was getting to him, more than it seemed to be with anyone else.
No one gave a damn, Will told himself. If he burned out, they would just leave him on the side of the road, a smoldering husk that was no longer of any use to them.
The FBI didn't care. Jack didn't care. There was only person who did.
Hannibal cared about what happened to him, whether he burned out or not. Hannibal knew how much all of this was affecting him, the toll it was taking on him.
Hannibal was the one who had pushed for him to take a vacation, who had managed to get him this time off. And he was eternally grateful for it, even though the enforced inactivity wasn't exactly what he wanted, either. He wished there was a happy medium that he could find.
Either he was working himself too hard, or he felt as though he was doing nothing. There had to be a point between those two extremes; he just had to find it.
Maybe Hannibal could help him with that, Will told himself, his spirits rising at the thought. He had given the other man an open invitation to come here to Wolf Trap if he had some time off, or if he simply wanted to get away for a while. Maybe Hannibal would enjoy being here.
And if he was here, then Will would have someone he could talk with, someone he was coming to feel that he could trust and open up to.
If Hannibal spent some time here, maybe Will could finally see behind his mask.
That was really why he wanted to spend time with Hannibal, wasn't it? To get to know the other man better, to get a peek behind that facade he always wore.
Hannibal intrigued him more than he was willing to admit, to himself or to anyone else. He wanted to find out how the other man's mind worked, just what was hidden behind that enigmatic mask he presented to the world. Will wanted to dig deeper, to find the man behind that mask.
He had no idea just what he would find, but he wanted the chance to lift that mask and know the entire man, not just the face that he showed to everyone.
It felt as though Hannibal had somehow set this up, arranged for him to have time away from work so they could meet here, on his turf, and he could once again take the lead in this complicated dance they were weaving their way through.
If that was so, then Will was more than ready to do that. It was his turn to guide them through the next few intricate steps, to make their way down the path they were treading.
He was ready to find out just where that path was leading them.
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