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Title: His Cross To Bear
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Table: writers_choice
Prompt: #568, Candle
Author's Note: Sequel to "Prisoner."
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.


What was he doing here in a church?

It had been a long time since he'd been in a place like this, Will thought, taking a few steps forward. Religion had never been something that he took comfort in.

Least of all since he'd started working in law enforcement, and had seen all of the horrible things that people could do to each other -- some of them in the name of religion. For him, it offered no succor; it only pointed out the hypocrisy of the human race.

But for some reason, he'd felt the need to come here tonight. To a Catholic church, at that, he thought, his lips twisting wryly, when he wasn't even Catholic.

But there was something about the ritualistic atmosphere of a Catholic church that felt comforting to him at the moment. He wasn't going to question that feeling, and he wasn't going to fall headlong into religion. He was just going to take that comfort where he could find it.

The candles and incense, the feeling of being in a safe place, was something that he needed right now. He wasn't going to turn his back on those needs.

He might not share the beliefs of this church, but he could appreciate them.

Why did lighting candles for the people who were no longer in his life because of Hannibal's evil feel like the right thing to do? He didn't have an answer for that; it was enough that he'd felt the need to come here to this church to do just that.

Will didn't want to question his motives. He didn't want to ask why he suddenly felt the need to light those candles, to be in a church, to feel safe.

Hannibal was in jail. He knew that. The monster was locked up and carefully guarded; he wasn't suddenly going to break out and go on a bloody rampage. He wasn't going to kill any more people. This was real life, not a fantastical horror movie.

But Will still couldn't help feeling uneasy.

In the last months, Hannibal had turned his life into a horror movie. That monster had killed so many people he had known, people he had cared for, people who he wished could still be a part of his life, people who he desperately wanted to still have around.

He'd destroyed lives, friendships, families. Hannibal was nothing but a destroyer; there wasn't one spark of human decency within him.

Just thinking of all the lives he'd destroyed almost made Will want to sink to his knees and cry. He hadn't been able to prevent Hannibal from taking those lives; he had realized far too late just what that monster was, that he was a demon who wore a human mask.

There he was again, equating Hannibal with some fantastical creature. No, he wasn't a demon; he was a man, albeit a twisted, perverted one.

And being a man, he had eventually made mistakes. His own hubris and belief that he couldn't be caught had tripped him up, and given Will the opening he'd needed.

It was a victory for the good guys, Will told himself with a sigh, but it was still a hollow victory. It had come at such a high price; he himself had been changed irrevocably, and so many lives had been lost, lives that shouldn't have been taken.

The only thing that he could do now that they were gone was to honor those lives, and not forget the people he had known and lost to that monster's evil.

Slowly, carefully, Will took two candles from the altar, lighting them and fitting them into holders. One for Beverly, and one for Abigail. He would come here and light these candles, keep their memories alive in his heart. He would never forget the two of them.

Hannibal couldn't take the good memories of them away from him.

Abigail, who he could have been a father to, who had needed him -- and who he had let down in so many ways. And Beverly, who had lost her life trying to prove his innocence. They would both live on in his heart and in his memory; he would never let them fade away.

They had both meant so much to him, in different ways. They had been two of the very few people he had trusted -- and they had trusted him, too.

By taking so long to realize just what Hannibal was, Will felt that he had let down so many people who had cared about him, so many people who had needed his help and his protection. Even people who he didn't know, people who had been Hannibal's victims.

If he had seen behind the mask sooner, they would still be alive.

No, he couldn't keep doing that. He couldn't let himself take sole responsibility for not stopping Hannibal's murders sooner; it wasn't his fault.

Hannibal was clever; he had known how to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. He'd been able to hide behind that mask of humanity for far too long; Will wasn't surprised that no one had ripped off that mask sooner, and exposed Hannibal in all his monstrous evil.

Well, it was done now. He had been the one to rip that mask away, and the world would be a better place now that Hannibal was safely locked away behind bars.

He could be proud of himself for doing that, even if it had taken him far too much time to know what had been hidden underneath that mask. Once he'd found out, he'd done all that he could to strip it away, to prove that his words were the truth.

He'd come here periodically and light candles not only for the people he had lost, but for himself, as well. He might need those candles to help guide him through the future.

He was still navigating a dark, uncertain path.

Will didn't know where that path would lead him. But he did know that he had been changed by all of this, changed in ways that he couldn't even begin to comprehend yet. And he knew that those changes would stay with him far into the future -- and for all of his life.

Hannibal Lecter had gotten under his skin, and that would forever be his cross to bear.