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Title: Ready
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sequel to "Taken Unawares."
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.


This was crazy. He was losing his mind.

He was letting his fear push him ever closer to the edge, until he tumbled over it into eternity. If that happened, he'd never be able to climb out of that abyss.

He would never find sanity again if he let go of it now. He had to push this darkness away, go on with his life as he normally would, and not let Hannibal affect him so much.

Will raised a hand to rub at his eyes, knowing that he wasn't going to move from his position in front of the door.

He'd been sitting here all night, ever since he had found that note from Hannibal. What else could he do? He was sure that nis nemesis was coming for him, and as crazy as it sounded, he was determined to be prepared. He would know the second that Hannibal was outside his home.

He had to protect himself. He had no other choice.

He swallowed hard, jumping slightly in his chair when he heard a sound outside. Was it Hannibal, coming up the front steps to knock on the door?

No, he was being silly, Will admonished himself. Hannibal wouldn't simply walk up here and knock. He would take Will by surprise, coming unbidden out of the darkness.

That was his way, Will thought bitterly. To take people by surprise when they least expected it.

Unwillingly, his fingers found the scar on his stomach, tracing over it again and again. This was what he had left of his last fateful meeting with Hannibal, the scar that would be with him for the rest of his days. He would never be able to erase that memory from his mind, not with the physical reminder on his skin.

And Hannibal had known that. He knew that he would be leaving Will with a memory that would remain as fresh as it had been when it had been carved into his flesh.

He knew that Hannibal was coming for him. It was only a matter of time; he'd known that ever since he'd awakened in that hospital bed and known that he was still alive.

The postcards, and the last handwritten note that he'd received from his nemesis, were only proof that Hannibal meant to finish what he'd started on that dark night that seemed so long ago now.

It hadn't been that long, not really. But it seemed like a lifetime.

Will could still remember every detail of that night, from the moment he'd called Hannibal to let him know that the FBI was closing in, until he had passed out in a pool of his own blood.

That night still came back to him in his dreams, every detail of all that had happened so crystal-clear in his mind. Going into that house, finding Abigail still alive -- and then watching her die at Hannibal's hands. Then the fatal embrace, and the thrust of that knife into his stomach.

He could still feel it, twisting, turning, gutting him. Will closed his eyes, pushing back the panic, taking deep breaths. He couldn't afford to lose his composure. Not now.

Not when he knew that Hannibal had to be out there somewhere, probably closer than he realized.

Oh yes, Hannibal was out there. He might not be outside the house at this very moment, but Will didn't doubt that he was watching. Waiting, and planning for his next move.

Another sound from the front porch made him gasp and clutch the gun that he held in one hand even more tightly. But as he listened, he could hear nothing else, no sound from outside.

It must have been an animal that had come up onto the porch and, finding nothing there, had scampered away again, he decided. There was nothing out there, nothing but the night and the wind whistling intermittently through the trees. He had nothing to worry about. Not tonight.

Hannibal wasn't out there, waiting patiently for him to let his guard down so he could find a way into the house. Sitting here like this waiting for him was a waste of time.

He was making a fool out of himself. He should know that by now.

That was what Hannibal ultimately wanted of him, wasn't it? Hannibal wanted him to look foolish, to run in circles chasing some phantom that he could never catch.

Hannibal also wanted him to unravel, to lose his sanity bit by bit. Hannibal wanted him to become so paranoid that his mind became completely unhinged.

Well, that wasn't going to happen. He wasn't going to come undone.

He had more sense than that, Will told himself firmly, standing up and turning the chair back around in the position it had been sitting in before he'd decided that facing the door was the safest option. He wasn't going to give in to Hannibal's manipulations again.

That was what this was. It was Hannibal manipulating him, only from a distance this time.

How he would laugh if he was here and could see this! Will thought, clenching his teeth. He would think that this was all a grand game, one that he could be proud of.

After all, he'd engineered the game, and he was pulling it off in a grand style. He was literally making his victim crazy, which was exactly what he wanted to do. Will put the gun down on the coffee table, clenching his hands at his sides into fists. Well, he wasn't going to give in to that manipulation. Not this time.

He'd had enough of playing Hannibal Lecter's games. This time, if there was a game to be played, he would be the one who made the rules.

He was strong. He was prepared. He was ready.

But this wasn't the night for their confrontation, Will told himself. Maybe he was ready, but there was a part of him that still felt panicked at the thought of facing Hannibal again.

There was still a part of him that wanted to skitter away in fear. Sighing, Will turned towards the stairs that led up to his bedroom. Maybe he could find oblivion in sleep for a few hours.

The breath froze in his throat as he instantly recognized the dark figure standing on the bottom step.

"Hello, Will." Hannibal's voice seemed to reverberate in the quiet room.