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Title: Running Out of Options
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Will Graham/Everett Hobbs (Original Character)
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sequel to "Not Admitting Defeat."
Author's Note: Everett's face is Benedict Cumberbatch.
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Will Graham or Lee Fallon, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


Everett frowned down at the papers on his desk, trying to concentrate.

He had pictures of all the crime scenes associated with the Chesapeake Ripper; he'd looked at them all for what seemed like hours. He knew all of the grisly details.

They had everything that they needed in those pictures. Even though he hadn't seen the actual crime scenes -- at least most of them -- he felt as though he'd been there.

Those pictures told the stories that they needed to tell -- and Everett was sure that somewhere, in at least one of those crime scenes, at least one of the snapshots taken from them, that there was a clue, no matter how minute, to the person who had committed those crimes.

Somewhere in those pictures was the proof that it had been Hannibal Lecter who was the perpetrator of those horrors. He just had to bring it to the attention of the world.

He sighed, resting his head on his hand, closing his eyes. How could he think that he could bring that fact to light, when no one else had been able to do so?

Maybe he was expecting too much of himself.

If Will hadn't been able to prove that it was Hannibal who had done such terrible things, WIll with his marvelous ability, then how could he think that he would be able to prove Hannibal's guilt?

Still, he had to try. He had no choice in the matter; he was the only person who seemed to care enough about putting Hannibal behind bars, other than Will. The FBI wasn't even considering Hannibal a suspect; Jack Crawford had turned away from that idea, and he and Will were on their own.

There was something in these pictures, some clue, no matter how small, that should be able to convince the FBI to take a closer look at Hannibal Lecter's activities.

The problem was finding that minuscule clue.

Everett sighed, opening his eyes again and staring at the pictures scattered in front of him. He knew that the clue was here somewhere. It had to be.

But he had no idea where to start trying to unravel the intricate maze that would lead to that clue. He'd looked at the pictures so many times that they were now blurring before his eyes.

He needed fresh eyes, really. Will should look at these pictures again, but he didn't think that was going to help too much. Will had also seen them so many times that he could easily overlook the one thing that might lead their pathway directly to Lecter's door.

How could they prove that it was Lecter who had done this? How could they suddenly pull a rabbit out of a hat and present that proof to the world?

This was going to be much harder than he'd originally thought.

For a moment, just a brief moment, Everett considered putting all of this aside, leaving the country with Will and going back to Britain, to make a life together there.

But that could never happen, not while Lecter was still free. He would come after Will; Everett had no doubt of that. Will could never be safe with that madman on the loose.

Hannibal would never relinquish what he thought of as his.

And as far as he was concerned, Will belonged to him. His last face-to-face meeting with Everett, brief though it had been, had proved that beyond a doubt.

The thought of that monster getting his hands on Will made Everett shiver; he didn't want to think about what Lecter would do to exact his revenge. And Everett had no doubt that he would take revenge; that was how the mind of a serial killer, a conscienceless murderer, worked.

He had to find something in these pictures that would convince the FBI to investigate Hannibal Lecter. If he didn't, then neither he nor Will could ever feel safe again.

He bent over the pictures again, his gaze combing them for whatever he could find .But try as he might, he still came up empty. No new clues were presenting themselves to him.

Something was missing, and he didn't know what it was.

How was he supposed to find that missing piece, that one single clue, when he and countless other people had studied these pictures time and time again and found nothing?

Maybe he was barking up the wrong tree, he finally told himself, leaning back in the chair again. Maybe the clue wasn't in the pictures, or even in the crime scenes. Maybe it was in Will's mind; maybe the clue would be found in what Will had experienced when he had gone into the killer's world.

Or maybe the clue would come from Lecter himself. Everett sighed again at that thought, this time in frustration. No, Lecter would never give up a clue that would help them.

It looked as though they were stymied in every direction, with nowhere to turn.

He wasn't going to risk Will's safety by asking him to go back into Lecter's mind. He didn't know what that kind of contact might do to Will. It was far too risky.

And he also didn't know if Lecter would somehow be able to sense that contact, to know that Will was trying to get back into his thoughts, and act accordingly.

Everett shuddered at the thought of Lecter coming after Will, of him trying to take some kind of revenge out on the man Everett loved. No, he wasn't going to take that chance. Nothing, not even catching Lecter sooner, was worth risking Will's well-being. That wasn't even an option.

Of course, if there was another killing, the FBI might expect Will to go back into the Chesapeake Ripper's mind. They would cross that bridge when and if they came to it.

He hoped they wouldn't, though. More and more, he wanted to get Will out of Wolf Trap, away from the FBI, to take him to London and start a life together there.

That is, if they were allowed to do so, he thought with another heavy sigh.

The FBI might not want to let Will out of their sight. As far as they were concerned, he was still their best link to the Chesapeake Ripper, and they would be reluctant to let him go.

Even if Will were to state that he wanted to leave the FBI, they would try to find some way to keep him tied to them, even to play on his conscience by telling him that he had to help them find this killer. They would appeal to his innate sense of justice, and Everett knew that Will would listen to that.

So it still came down to finding out any clues that they could from these pictures, or from the accounts of the crime scenes, or the forensic evidence left behind.

None of which seemed a very viable solution to him.

He had to find the clue that would lead the authorities to Hannibal. And that clue had to be rock-solid; it had to provide incontrovertible proof that Lecter was indeed the Chesapeake Ripper.

Once he found that clue, then he and Will would be safe, and Lecter would be behind bars. The two of them could get on with their lives without a cloud hanging over their heads.

He just hoped that he could find the clue that would set them free.

Everett bent his head over the pictures again, trying to go over them with an eagle eye. Maybe this time, he would see something that he'd missed before.

With any luck, something, anything, would jump out at him and send him down the right path. All it would take was one clue -- and he was sure that it had to be there.

If it wasn't, then he and Will were running out of options.