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Title: Jumping Off the Edge
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Table: stories_a_z
Prompt: J
Author's Note: Sequel to "Speak."
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.


"I feel like I'm ready to jump off the edge," Will said quietly, not able to meet Hannibal's gaze with his own. "Like I'm being pushed to do that, whether I want to or not."

Hannibal frowned, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.

"Will, that doesn't sound good at all," he said, his voice very quiet. "If you feel that you are being pushed to harm yourself, then this person who harmed you truly does need to be caught."

"I ...." Will's voice trailed off; he didn't want to put forth the theory that he'd come up with. "I don't think it's a person that harmed me. I think we've been looking for the wrong thing."

He hated to admit this, hated to think that he could be so far off the rails that his theory could possibly be the truth. But if he didn't talk with Hannibal about it, who else could he talk to? This man was supposed to be his psychiatrist, after all, albeit in a roundabout way.

"What is it, Will?" Hannibal's gaze seemed to bore into him, as though his lover was trying to reach to the very depths of his soul and dredge up what was hidden there.

Will took a deep breath, still not looking into the other man's eyes. He had to say this, had to get it out into the open, no matter what Hannibal might think of him.

Still, it was so hard to force the words out, to admit what he was thinking.

"I-I think I might have been the one who hurt myself," he admitted, his voice barely above a whisper. "I think I did it, Hannibal. I couldn't tell you why, but I think I'm the culprit."

Hannibal sat back, raising his brows, looking surprised. Will glanced at him, feeling a flush come into his own cheeks. He hadn't wanted to say those words, hadn't wanted to see the shocked look on his lover's face, but there it was, as plain as day. He wondered what Hannibal's assessment would be.

"I see," Hannibal said, the words coming out slowly and hanging inthe air. "Why would you think this, Will? Has there been some breakthrough in your memory?"

Will shook his head, sighing as he did so, wondering what he should say.

"I just don't see any other explanation," he said, choosing his words carefully. "If it had actually been another person, I think I'd have remembered something about him by now."

How could he explain this so that it made sense? It didn't really even make sense in his own mind; he was still puzzling it out, wondering just how he had come to this pass. But he was becoming more and more sure that he had somehow done this to himself, that it was his own psyche trying to tell him something.

"I know what I see," he continued, heaving another sigh. "I see a man with a stag's head. It's weird, I know. But it's not a mask. It's a half-man, half-stag. So it can't be real."

That much he knew. What he saw wasn't possible, not in this world; it had to be a dream, a hallucination. It was something out of his own mind, not something that actually existed.

There was no other explanation. He didn't think that an actual person could have attacked him, even though it was what everyone seemed to think had happened. He was more and more sure, the more he pondered it, that he'd done this to himself, for some reason that he couldn't fathom.

Why would his unconscious mind do something like this? Was he trying to punish himself for something? Or was his mind trying desperately to tell him something .... or to warn him?

Will sat back, his blue eyes widening at that thought.

He hadn't considered that before. A warning? But what could his mind be trying to warn him about? There didn't seem to be any immediate danger around him -- except what his mind was doing to him.

Of course, his job was dangerous, but that was a given. Anyone who worked for the FBI, or in any of the branches of law enforcement, lived with a certain amount of danger. And since he worked in the field these days more than within his classroom, he had to expect danger to be a part of his life.

But he didn't think it was his job that his mind was possibly trying to warn him about. No, it felt as though those warnings were pointing to something within his personal life, something heretofore unseen.

He felt as though he was being pushed ever closer to the edge of a precipice.

Sooner or later, he would have to jump off, to try to leap the yawning abyss beneath him. Could he make it to the other side safely, without falling into that abyss?

If he fell, then he would never be able to crawl out again. He would spend his life wandering in that stygian darkness, forever searching for a way out that he would never find.

Will knew that he was on the edge of that darkness, and that if he wasn't given a reason to step away from it, he would hurl himself off the edge, in an attempt to leap the abyss. Maybe he would make it, and maybe he wouldn't. But the best alternative would be not to jump at all.

Could he keep himself from doing that? Could Hannibal keep him from it? He didn't know. But he knew that at this point, he had to reach out to his lover, in the hope that he could hold on.

"It may not be real, Will," Hannibal said, his voice very soft. "It may be all in your mind. And if it is, then we have to find out exactly why you are conjuring this .... vision."

Will nodded slowly, knowing that Hannibal was right.

He didn't want to ask the question that hovered within his mind. He didn't want to know if there was some possibility that it wasn't just a vision, if what he thought he saw could possibly exist.

As though Hannibal had divined his thoughts, he shook his head, still gazing directly at Will. "No, I do not think that this .... person, or whatever you wish to call it, could exist in the waking world. I believe it is a combination of all the demons that chase you, Will. It isn't something that can follow you into the real world."

Will finally lifted his head and looked Hannibal directly in the eye, knowing that he needed to get a definitive answer. He couldn't settle for less. "If it can't, then how did I get those bruises?"

Hannibal opened his mouth to answer, then closed it again and shook his head.

Maybe he would have to jump off the edge to find the answers to his questions. And it was very possible that he wouldn't make it across, that he would get lost in that darkness and be lost forever.