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Title: Mixed Signals
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Focus."
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.
A stag. He must be losing his mind.
There was no such thing as a man with stag's antlers sprouting out of his head. What was wrong with him? He was really starting to sound crazy.
Maybe it was just the lack of sleep, Will told himself with a sigh. That would be enough to make anybody start hallucinating about strange things. Impossible things. Yes, that had to be what it was. If he could get his body onto a decent sleep schedule, his mind would calm down.
Or would it? He distinctly remembered a few frightening dreams where he had been the one with those stag's antlers weighing him down.
But he couldn't have been attacked by a deer. No animal would have left those bruises on his body. It had been a while ago, and they'd faded now. But he could still remember how painful they had been -- and yet he couldn't remember what had caused them.
The memory of whoever had attacked him was there; he knew it was. But it was buried so deeply that his mind refused to access the image.
Why was that the only mental picture he had?
Had he been so utterly terrified by his attacker that any semblance of reality had been drive out of his mind, and replaced by the image of a stag?
Will sighed, resting his head in his hands. That was the only rational explanation that he could come up with; his mind had just been so started by the unexpectedness of being attacked that his confused brain hadn't been able to fix a clear picture of his assailant.
Because he most definitely had not been attacked by a deer, or by a man wearing a deer's antlers on his head. That was too fantastic to believe.
If only those mists in his mind would clear away!
All he needed was a clearer picture of his assailant's face, and he was sure that the features would come into view, that he'd be able to give a decent description.
That was all it would take. A description given to a sketch artist, a little time spent probing his memory for that face, and they could start looking for this person. They'd eventually find him, and people would be able to feel safer and sleep better at night.
Well, he himself would certainly feel safer, Will told himself dryly. He'd know that if he happened to walk in his sleep again, he wouldn't be assaulted.
Not that sleep had ever come easily to him, Will thought with another wry smile.
But ever since the attack, he'd been even more unable to sleep. Just when he thought every night that he'd be able to drop off to sleep, he would be jolted back into wakefulness.
Was that simply his body trying to warn him that he couldn't let his guard down, or another attack would happen? He didn't want to think that he was so unconsciously paranoid.
But there was a good chance he was, Will thought tiredly.
All of this had not only robbed him of his sleep, but his peace of mind. He wasn't going to rest until he was able to put an identity to his assailant.
Which seemed to be impossible. He'd been so sure that hypnotism would work, but instead, that had only driven his recollections of that face further away from him, making those memories retreat into the mists, tantalizing and beckoning but never delivering.
He had to get a handle on those features, he told himself, closing his eyes and slumping back in his chair. He had to know who had done this.
If he didn't, it would drive him slowly out of his mind. He was already getting there.
Without realizing it, he was sliding slowly into sleep; his head was still propped in his hand, but his eyes had closed, his mind drifting.
He was walking along the road near his house, putting one foot in front of the other. He didn't know where he was going; he didn't seem to have any particular destination in mind. He was just walking aimlessly, unsure of what he was heading towards.
There was a presence behind him. Will could feel it even before he turned around, before his gaze took in the spectacle of what stood there.
A man. No, not a man, not completely. A man with stag's antlers.
The face looked somehow familiar. He squinted, trying to make out the features, but they appeared to be as dark as a moonless, starless midnight.
What was it about that face under the antlers that tugged at his memory? Why did he feel that he'd seen that face before, looked into those eyes that now glowed red in the darkness? Who was this person, that they could haunt him so profoundly?
Why couldn't he bring those features into sharper focus? He was looking directly into that face; he should be able to recognize whoever this person was.
And then, with a sudden, clear certainty, he did. Will didn't know just what it was that suddenly blew those mists away, what made him see that face clearly for the first time. He could only put it down to having the scales stripped away from his eyes, to gaining an almost painful clarity.
He saw that face, those eyes, and knew exactly who it was. The shock of recognition jolted him awake; he raised his head, blinking and gasping.
That wasn't at all what he had expected.
At first, his conscious mind refused to believe what he had seen. It was just his imagination fusing with his reality, creating something that hadn't really been there.
But no, that wasn't so. That face, that body .... they had seemed familiar before, but now he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt just why they had been. This was a person he knew intimately, someone who he never would have thought would want to hurt him.
No. It couldn't be. His mind was confusing the stag in his dreams with the person who had attacked him. He wasn't going to believe this new vision. It couldn't be true.
His mind was lying to him. It had to be. It was sending him mixed signals.
He refused to believe what he had seen. Refused it categorically. It wasn't true. His mind was playing tricks on him, trying to turn him inside out.
There was no way that Hannibal could be the person behind his attack. Not the man who was his lover, the man who had taught him so much about himself. Hannibal wouldn't hurt him. Will was sure of that, more sure than he'd ever been of anything in his life.
His mind was taking his place of refuge and turning it into a dark, frightening abode. He wasn't going to let that happen. He wasn't going to turn away from his lover.
Will's senses reeled, his thoughts swirling with the implications of what this could mean. He'd never felt so frightened in his life, so .... lost. He was wandering around in a daze, completely unsure of what was reality and what had been part of his dreams.
What was he going to do? Why was his mind mixing up images of the person who had so brutally attacked him with the one person he trusted, the one person he could go to for help?
Could he trust Hannibal? Or was this some kind of a warning sign?
Was Hannibal the stag of his dreams? Or was he somehow transferring his visions of his attacker to the man he shared his body with? And why would he do that?
Suddenly, his safe haven didn't seem nearly as safe any more.
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