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Title: Taken Unawares
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Tooth and Nail."
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.
***Another message. One that he didn't want to deal with.
Will looked down at the piece of paper in his hand. The words on it chilled him; he wanted to obliterate them, not only from existence, but from his mind as well.
"Are you ready for us to meet, Will? I am. It will happen sooner than you think." Those words seemed to stare at him, taunting him, taking on a life of their own.
No, he wasn't ready to meet Hannibal. He knew that he wasn't strong enough yet, either mentally or physically. He hadn't really had enough time to process everything that had happened and come to terms with it, and he didn't need to have a confrontation with Hannibal on the table as well.
Yes, he wanted to confront that monster, but not at this point. It wasn't time yet. Seeing Hannibal now, being face-to-face with him, would only throw him off-balance.
That was probably why Hannibal was sending these notes, and why he was staying close. It was his way ot trying to intimidate Will, trying to get back inside his head.
Will didn't intend to let that happen. Not now, and not ever.
The thought of Hannibal Lecter getting into his head again was more terrifying than anything he'd ever faced before in his life -- even more so than Hannibal gutting him.
Having that monster inside his mind again, knowing his thoughts, divining how he felt, would be the ultimate horror. Now that he knew exactly what Hannibal was, everything that he was recoiled from being anywhere near that reptilian being -- he couldn't even see Hannibal as human any more.
He wasn't human, Will told himself, shuddering. He was a monster. He had no redeeming qualities at all; there wasn't one single about him that Will could like or admire.
Yet at one time he had admired Hannibal, and he was ashamed of that fact.
How could he have been so blind? How could he have been led so astray, and actually believed that Hannibal was a decent person? Why hadn't his empathy told him something, warned him?
That had been the one time his empathy seemed to have failed him; somehow, he couldn't help feeling that he should have known that Hannibal was a horrendous monster. But he hadn't known until it was too late, and he had been snared in that particular spider's web.
Of course, the scales had fallen from his eyes after that had happened, and he'd finally been able to see clearly. But that clarity had come too late, and at a high price.
He'd lost his freedom, and lost his good reputation for a while. He had been exonerated, but there were still people who looked at him as though they felt he could have been guilty.
He was still recovering from that experience, and there were times when Will wondered if he could ever completely get past it. That experience had been devastating in so many ways; some nights, he still woke up in a cold sweat, feeling as though he was locked into that cell and would never have his freedom back.
But he was free, and he had been proven innocent. Though he hated the fact that his innocence, as well as his incarceration, had happened because of Hannibal's machinations.
Hannibal was the puppet master, pulling the strings of Will's life.
How long was this going to last? Will wondered. When would Hannibal come to his home and confront him, and try to finish what he'd started at their fateful last meeting?
Will stared at the words on the paper again, written in Hannibal's neat, precise script. The truth was that no, he wasn't in any way ready for them to meet again. He didn't want to see Hannibal Lecter again unless the other man was behind bars, at a safe distance from him.
But he couldn't tell Hannibal that, of course. Acknowledging that he wasn't ready for that confrontation would give his nemesis far too much power over the situation.
He had to pretend that he was ready, and that he was prepared for anything.
"What do you think?" he murmured, looking down at the note in his hand again. He wanted to crumple it up and throw it away, but he couldn't do that. He would have to take it to Jack.
He realized that he had answered Hannibal's question with one of his own -- and he had to wonder just what his former associate's answer to that question would be.
Did Hannibal know full well that Will wasn't ready to face him yet? Did he know of the quivering fear that still trembled inside Will whenever he thought of that last encounter, the sickening feeling of vertigo that came over him when he let himself remember how that knife had felt slicing open his stomach?
He shook his head as though to clear it, clutching the note in his hand. He hoped that Hannibal didn't realize any of that. If he did, then he most definitely had the upper hand already.
Will squared his shoulders, his manner determined. He wasn't going to give Hannibal that upper hand. He would be ready when they met again, no matter what it took.
He could only hope that the confrontation wouldn't come too soon and take him completely unawares.
Hannibal had managed to do that once, but Will didn't intend to let him have that chance again. This time, he knew just what Hannibal was capable of doing.
Inadvertently, his hand went to his stomach, fingers tracing along the scar. Even though he wasn't touching his flesh, only feeling the scar through the thin fabric of his shirt, he could feel every detail of it. He'd touched it often enough, his fingers following it, hating it even as he memorized how it felt.
The next time they met, Hannibal would no longer have the power to take him unawares. And he wouldn't have to answer a question with a question.
The next time, he would have an answer -- and he would wield the upper hand.
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