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Title: More Than You Realize
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Prompt: #481, Kindred
Author's Note: Sequel to "Things Better Left Unsaid."
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.
***"We are much more alike than you realise, Will."
Hannibal's words almost sent a shudder through Will. He didn't want to be anything like this monster; it was hard enough to pretend to be like him.
Trying to convince Hannibal that he was turning into a killer, that he was transforming from a decent human being into a conscienceless monster, was going to be the best piece of acting he'd ever done. Will wasn't sure that he was up to the challenge.
But he had to be, he reminded himself. He was deep in it now; if he didn't dissemble to the best of his ability, then his life could very well be forfeit.
This thing that was standing in front of him wasn't a man. It was a monster, a killer. He had to be very careful that he didn't let himself slip and fall into that abyss of Hannibal's making, even though he was sure that he'd be tempted to at some point.
It would be so easy to let himself become like Hannibal, to eschew all responsibility for anything he did and to embrace that evil.
But he wouldn't do it. That wasn't who he was.
He would never be like Hannibal, and he was proud of that fact. He was nothing like this monster; he was a good man, and he always would be.
Still, he knew from experience just how tempting the darkness could be. He'd let himself sink into it when he had looked through the eyes of killers; he'd known how comfortable it could be to let go of who he was, to let that darkness envelop him.
It was terrifying to think that he was capable of doing that, frightening to think that he could could go so far as to let himself feel that Hannibal was a kindred spirit.
That was exactly what he had to caution himself against.
Feeling any kind of empathy for Hannibal was ridiculous. He couldn't let himself see things from Hannibal's point of view, couldn't let himself wonder what it was like to be in the other man's mind, what his life had been like. He couldn't empathize. Not at all.
That would be the first step on a long and slippery slope, one that would eventually land him in a black hole that there would be no escaping from.
He couldn't let that happen. He would somehow have to make Hannibal believe that he was falling under a spell, that he was changing, without actually letting himself be caught up in that change. He would have to be sure to stay a few steps back, observing but not interacting.
This was going to be the hardest thing he'd ever tried to do.
Hannibal's next words jolted him out of his thoughts, and back to the present moment. "I believe that your time in prison was good for you, Will. It made you think about us."
Good for him? Will felt a surge of anger sweep over him, so strong that he almost turned and leveled a fist at Hannibal's smug, ugly face. This bastard thought prison had been good for him? Would he say the same if it had been him behind those bars?
Of course he wouldn't. But then again, Hannibal was more than likely silently congratulating himself for all that he had accomplished in turning Will's life upside down.
He swallowed his anger, tamped down on it, tried to hide it.
He couldn't let Hannibal see that anger. If he did, then the game was already over before it had started. He had to make Hannibal think that he bore him no ill will.
That was a lie, of course. He bore this monster nothing but ill will; he wanted to see Hannibal in the same position that he himself had been in so recently, behind bars, deprived of his freedom, with no hope of release. He wanted Hannibal to feel that same hopelessness.
He would, in time, Will reassured himself. This creature would get everything that was coming to him, even if it took a little time for that to happen.
He would see to that. The threads of the spider's web were already being woven around Hannibal; in time, he would become caught in that web, unable to escape from it.
He swallowed back his angry words, trying to keep his reply measured and quiet. "Maybe it was," he said, surprised at how calm he sounded when he spoke. "I had a lot of time to think about my accusations. All of them were wrong. I can see that now."
"Can you, Will?" Hannibal's voice was soft, but there was a slight tone of menace underneath his words. "I hope that's true. You need to see things more clearly."
Oh, he saw things clearly, all right. His vision was now crystal-clear.
He knew that this monster had set him up to take the fall for his crimes; he had never doubted that. He just couldn't let Hannibal know that he still bore a grudge.
Was he a good enough actor to make Hannibal believe that he'd had a complete mental turnaround? Was that the way to play this? Or should he let Hannibal know that he still believed in his guilt, but that he was willing to reach out for that darkness?
He had to make Hannibal believe that he had been seduced by the darkness within him. That would be the only believable way to play this, to gain Hannibal's trust.
And there was no time like the present to start doing that.
"I know you had to save yourself," he began, speaking slowly, as though he wasn't sure of entirely how to form the words. "I guess I can't blame you for that. But don't think I'm such a fool as to think you weren't responsible for all of it, Hannibal."
Hannibal raised a brow, his dark eyes glinting. Will was sure that he could see a trace of humor in those dark depths, and he had to tamp down on his anger again.
This wasn't funny. Nothing about the situation he'd been in was amusing, though of course, it made sense for Hannibal to see it that way. To him, it was amusing that someone else had been imprisoned for crimes he had committed. Once again, he'd gotten away with it.
But not again, Will vowed silently. Never again.
Hannibal wasn't going to be able to harm innocent people again. Somehow, he would make sure of that. He would keep Hannibal from committing any more murders.
If they were lucky, then Hannibal would become so caught up in being sure that Will was becoming just like him that he would turn away from his murderous intentions for a while. All Will had to do was convince him of that transformation, and keep him occupied.
And, of course, he had to keep Hannibal from expecting him to commit any murders himself. He couldn't do that. He couldn't let himself become like this monster.
If Hannibal expected that of him, then they'd cross that bridge when they came to it.
"Of course I was responsible for you being in jail, Will," Hannibal said, his voice steady and even. "You've always known that. But I had good reasons for doing so."
"To save yourself," Will prompted him, hoping that Hannibal would say more, that he would keep going, that he would confess all that he had done. That would make things so easy; if he had some kind of confession, then he would be able to arrest Hannibal right here and now.
But no .... that would be too easy. And Hannibal might still be able to slip through the net and evade justice. No, he needed more than this.
He needed Hannibal to admit to what he was -- a murderer and a cannibal. He needed Hannibal to say out loud that he was the Chesapeake Ripper, that he had murdered dozens, maybe even hundreds, of innocent people -- and eaten parts of their bodies.
Only then would they have all the evidence that they needed to put this monster away for good. He had to be patient, to wait until that happened.
He had to gain Hannibal's trust. That was the first step.
"Would you like for me to enumerate all the ways in which we are kindred, Will?" Hannibal continued, his gaze fixed on Will's face. "I can do so, if you'd like to hear them."
But Will shook his head, not yet quite ready to deal with those words. "I don't think we're as much alike as you'd like to believe we are," he told Hannibal, meeting the other man's gaze with one that he hoped was bland and indifferent, keeping his voice level. "But we'll see."
It had started now. The game was afoot, and it was a game that Will intended to win. If he was able to be patient enough, he would be the victor in the end.
He just had to be sure not to make any fatal missteps.
And that, he told himself, might be harder than he thought it would be. But he would do his best to avoid making any overt mistakes.
He would have to tread very carefully from here on out. He'd already stuck a toe in to test the waters, so to speak, and now he was beginning to wade out into those waters, finding them navigable. He just hoped that he wouldn't run into any dangerous undercurrents.
It would be all too for him to be caught up in those currents, to get swept out to sea, and never be able to find his way back to safe, dry land again.
The danger might be far more potent than he had imagined.
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