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Title: Not Just A Friend
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Table: writers_choice
Prompt: #482, Survivor
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. soar


Will turned his head to the side, his gaze resting on the man in the chair next to his hospital bed. He hadn't expected Hannibal to be here when he'd awakened; he'd drifted off to sleep comforted by the other man's presence, but he hadn't thought Hannibal would stay.

Apparently, he'd spent the night here in the hospital, watching over him. That was more than anyone could expect; no one else had even wanted to be around while he was still awake, much less when he'd been sleeping and oblivious to the world.

His mouth twisted slightly at the thought. For all of their protestations of friendship and caring about him, the people he worked with had been all too quick to leave.

He knew who really cared about him. It was obvious from the stubble on Hannibal's jaw that he'd been here all night; he hadn't bothered to go home to change clothes, shave, or make himself look more presentable. That was all the proof Will needed of his concern.

If Hannibal was here, it meant that he really cared.

He had to hold on to that, had to believe that he had at least one friend in the world. No, not just a friend, Will corrected himself. A lover. Hannibal was much more than just a friend. He was proving that simply by being here, by caring.

Will surreptitiously watched his lover dozing in the chair; Hannibal looked exhausted, as though he hadn't slept in days. Maybe he hadn't, Will thought, feeling guilty for being a little cheered by the idea. If Hannibal had been that worried about him ....

It didn't seem possible that anyone could care for him enough to put their own safety on the line to rescue him from the situation he'd been in. But Hannibal had done just that.

Hannibal had risked his own life to save him. And even though he wasn't completely sure that it had happened and he wasn't simply dreaming it, he thought that Hannibal had brought him back from that hazy shadow world that had been leading to death.

He had felt death coming for him, felt its icy breath on the back of his neck. He'd even thought he saw it reaching a bony hand out to him, beckoning him forward, letting him know that if he hesitated to take that hand, it would descend on him and claim him for its own.

But Hannibal had kept that from happening.

Was he imagining things, or had he felt Hannibal's lips on his, breathing life back into his body when death had been insisting that he no longer had a place in this world? Did he owe Hannibal his life, many times over? Something told him that hadn't been his imagination.

If that was true, then Hannibal was far more to him now than just his lover or his friend. He was the man who hwd selflessly saved his life.

How could he repay someone for that? He had never thought he would be in that position, but yet, here he was, in a hospital bed, safe and protected -- and all because Hannibal had rescued him and brought him out of the nightmare he'd been thrust into.

Will lay back against the softness of the pillows, wincing as he shifted position and hit a bruise. It was going to be a while before he was fully recovered from all that had happened; not only nearly losing his life, but .... everything else.

He didn't want to think about what had been done to him. He wanted to push all of that away and slam a door on it, lock it firmly into the back of his mind and pretend that it didn't exist, that it hadn't happened. But he knew that he couldn't ignore the facts.

He was a survivor. He always had been. He would get past this.

But at the moment, it was hard for him to believe that he would be able to put this behind him and move on easily. What if this had set back his relationship with Hannibal? Will was sure that it would; just the thought of being touched made panic rise in his throat.

How long would Hannibal put up with something like that? He wasn't the kind of man who would wait for long. He didn't have infinite patience.

Will swallowed hard, closing his eyes. If this had wrecked his relationship with Hannibal, then he would dig up the dead body of his rapist and spit on his bones. There was nothing he could do to exact payback now, but he would curse that bastard until his dying day.

He didn't want to believe that this had ruined the relationship he shared with Hannibal. Of course it was going to be a while before he felt comfortable with being intimate again. But Hannibal wasn't going to walk out on him just because he had been damaged.

At least, he hoped not. He didn't want to think that Hannibal's regard for him was so ephemeral that his lover would turn his back now, when Will most needed him. He wanted to believe that their relationship, new as it might be, was stronger than that.

If it wasn't, then the whole thing had been a mistake.

He supposed they would find out where they stood once he felt well enough to go home -- he doubted that Hannibal would wait very long to test the waters. He just hoped that he would be strong enough to let himself be immersed in them.

What if he wasn't? Fear caught in Will's throat, freezing a small sound there that sounded suspiciously like a sob. What if he was tainted goods now, damaged beyond repair?

What if his relationship with Hannibal never recovered from this? What if they were never lovers again? What if the trust that they were building between themselves was lost for good, all of it gone in one sweeping motion, and they could never get it back?

As though his thoughts had awakened the man sitting in the chair by his bed, Hannibal's lashes fluttered, then his eyes opened. He shook his head slightly as though to clear it, then looked directly at Will, leaning forward to take the younger man's hand in his own.

"I thought you would never wake up," Hannibal said softly, squeezing Will's hand, his touch gentler than Will would have ever dreamed it could be. "How do you feel?"

How did he feel? That was an easy one.

"Like I was kidnapped, tortured and raped by a psychopath, and like I nearly died and somebody who cares about me brought me back to life," Will said, the words making his throat ache. It hurt to speak so much; his voice was rough and gravelly, as though he'd swallowed rocks.

It almost seemed as though Hannibal wanted to laugh at his words; the corners of his mouth twitched up slightly, then he shook his head.

"Don't try to talk too much," he said, reaching out to smooth Will's tangled dark curls back from his damp forehead. "You shouldn't exert yourself too much, Will. You need to spend a few days here to recover. You did have a near-death experience."

"So I didn't just dream that," Will murmured, his gaze riveted on Hannibal's face. "You really did bring me back to life, didn't you?" He swallowed hard, the words he wanted to say all seeming to jumble up in his throat, vying for the right to be said.

"Thank you," was all he finally managed to get out. "I owe you my life, Hannibal. I can never repay you for that. Never. But I'm going to try."

Hannibal smiled, shaking his head and squeezing Will's hand again. "No thanks are needed, Will. A world without you in it would be a much less interesting place for me -- and it would be a world that I doubt I would particularly like. I couldn't bear to lose you."

Will's breath caught in his throat. Had Hannibal just said what he thought he'd heard?

Was that proof that Hannibal truly did care about him, that their relationship was about more than just the slaking of their physical desires?

He hoped that was the case. He hoped that he hadn't heard wrong, that the words Hannibal had just said were words that he meant. But he wasn't going to ask if they were true, not now. He was just going to hold those words close and let them comfort him.

He was a survivor; he'd gone through a lot in his life. But here, lying in this bed and feeling as though he'd been run over by a steamroller, he was weak and vulnerable. And those words got to him in a way that nothing else possibly could.

Will closed his eyes to hold back the rush of tears that rose behind them. He wasn't going to cry. Not here, not now, not in front of Hannibal. This wasn't the time or the place. He could cry and let his emotions out when he was alone, when they wouldn't be witnessed.

And he could thank Hannibal in a much more effusive way when he had recovered.

That was what he really needed to do, Will told himself. He needed to get past what had happened, to prove to Hannibal that this wasn't going to destroy their relationship, that he could still be all that Hannibal needed. But his lover would have to help him do that.

He hoped that Hannibal understood what they were facing. He couldn't do it alone. He needed help, and that help would have to come from the man who was sitting here holding his hand, the man who he had given himself to, the man who he trusted more than anyone.

The man who had saved his life. The man who he owed all to, even though it felt a little uncomfortable to know that he was so obligated.

"Sleep, Will," Hannibal told him, his voice soft. "You need to give yourself time to heal. Everything will seem less complicated when you awaken again. We can talk about all that's happened later. For now, rest and get your strength back."

Will closed his eyes and did as he was told, relieved to let slumber take him over.