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Title: Comfort in the Night
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Table: Otherwordly Challenge, tv_universe
Prompt: Nyctophilia - Love of darkness or night, finding relaxation or comfort in the darkness.
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.


He'd always found comfort in the night before this, Will thought with a sigh.

There had been a time when he'd enjoyed wandering in the woods after dark, going down to the river with a couple of dogs and sitting there in the moonlight.

But now, the night didn't feel comforting any more. It terrified him, knowing that there was someone out there who was killing men who looked like him, and that he could easily be the next victim. He hated that his love of the night was being taken away from him.

He didn't want to lose that fondness for the night. He didn't want to feel as though it had turned against him, become frightening rather than soothing.

He'd always been a nyctophiliac, even when he was a kid. Back then, he had stolen out of his bedroom by way of a large tree that was right by his window; it had been easy to climb out and shimmy down the tree trunk, then go for a long walk when he couldn't sleep.

He had continued that practice into adulthood -- though now, of course, he didn't have to sneak out and go down a tree trunk whenever he wanted to take a night walk.

Now, something other than parental authority kept him inside.

Will hated feeling afraid of the night. It felt as though a part of himself had been shut away, a part that he'd always taken refuge in.

But he couldn't help agreeing with Hannibal that it would be dangerous for him to go outside at night, even here in the relative safety of the forest around his own home. If this mysterious killer was stalking him, then he would more than likely be in those very woods.

Finding Murphy two nights ago when he'd expected to come face-to-face with a psychopathic murderer had been a relief, but he couldn't count on that to happen again.

His new dog was fitting in well with the others; Will had given him a bath, and had taken him to the vet's to have him checked out and get all of his shots. Somehow, seven dogs didn't seem like more than six; he supposed that even ten woudn't feel like too many.

Especially now that he felt uneasy in his own home after nightfall, he thought bleakly. Ten dogs didn't seem like it was too many at all.

Somehow, he felt that he needed all the company he could get.

Company, or protection? he asked himself. He wasn't entirely sure of the answer to that question; the dogs didn't seem like they could really protect him.

Well, the smaller ones didn't, at least. But the larger dogs, like Winston, and Jasper the Husky mix, were more than capable of taking down anyone who they deemed a threat.

And they would, too, Will thought, petting Winston's head affectionately. The dog looked up at him from where he lay by the couch at Will's feet, those soulful brown eyes fixed on his. It was as though Winston was somehow trying to reassure him.

It was hard to be reassured by a dog, but he did feel better knowing that Winston was looking out for him. This dog was his guardian angel.

Still, maybe he should take Hannibal's words to heart, the words that the other man had spoken the last time Will had left his house after a session.

Hannibal had told him that it would be a good idea for him to stay in Baltimore for a while, as a guest in that very house, where he would be safe and protected. But Will had refused; he hadn't wanted to leave his own home. It just .... didn't feel right.

He didn't want to leave his dogs here alone, even though, as Hannibal said, he could come here during the day and make sure that they were fed, and had time outside.

But he still stubbornly refused to spend nights away from home. It would be turning tail and running, giving up, letting this killer have his way.

He wasn't going to be intimidated or frightened away from his home.

Will couldn't help feeling that was what this killer wanted -- not just to frighten him, but to take away a part of his life, a part that meant something to him.

He had already taken away Will's enjoyment of the night, and that felt like a huge loss. He refused to let this bastard take anything else from him. And somehow, he was going to get his love of the night back, once this murderer was caught and put behind bars.

Once this person was apprehended and he had nothing to fear any more, then he could resume his walks under the night sky with perfect safety.

Will wanted to get that time back; he wanted to be able to step out of his house into the woods, amble down to the river with Winston or one of the other dogs, or maybe even all of them, by his side, and relax with a cold beer by the river's edge under the moon.

It had always been a way of soothing himself, ever since he'd moved here. And now, it was one more path of relaxation and comfort that was lost to him.

But not for good, he told himself firmly. He would get it back.

This was just a temporary loss, until they caught this killer. He didn't doubt that they would; it was one of the FBI's priorities, especially since an agent had been targeted.

Will didn't fool himself into thinking that the FBI cared so much about him -- it was his singular abilities that they prized. That empathic ability was the reason they wanted to protect and preserve him; he knew that he wasn't important to them as a person.

Still, he was important to himself -- and to Hannibal, he thought with a wry smile. Funny how someone who was outside of that protective sphere seemed to care the most.

Maybe he should take Hannibal's invitation to stay at his house seriously; it might be a good thing to get out of Wolf Trap for a while. But he didn't like the idea of running away. The last thing he wanted was to feel -- or be seen as -- a coward.

No, it wouldn't be cowardly to accept that invitation. It would simply be prudent, a way to ensure that he was kept safe, that he wasn't alone and defenseless.

Defenseless? He was hardly that. He knew how to protect himself.

He was safe here, as safe as he'd ever been. Yes, there was a killer who was fixated on him, but that was part of the job he did.

Will took a deep breath, stroking one hand absently over Winston's head. He wasn't going to run away from his home because he was threatened; he was going to stand and fight, protect his own space and his own life. He wasn't going to hide behind anyone else.

His nyctophilia hadn't been destroyed; it was still there, he just couldn't make use of it at the moment. It was best for him if he stayed inside.

But he wouldn't always have to do that, Will told himself, keeping that inner voice strong and firm. It was only until his team could track down this killer who seemed to be so fixated on him and put them in jail. Then he would be free to roam in the night again.

He'd be able to pull the night around him, indulge his love of the darkness, and once again have the night as a source of relaxation and comfort.

Hopefully, that would happen sooner rather than later.