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Title: Throwing Down the Gauntlet
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: One-shot.
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.
***Will stared at Hannibal through the bars of his prison, his blue eyes narrowing.
"You bastard," he hissed, knowing that no matter how softly he spoke, every word would be picked up by the hidden cameras and microphones that Chilton used to spy on inmates.
It was because of Hannibal that he was in here. He knew that now. Memories had come trickling back, memories that Hannibal had tried to hide from him. They'd shaken him, weakened him -- then, slowly, they had begun to strengthen him, to form the resolve of what he knew he had to do.
He had to prove his innocence, get the hell out of here and stop Hannibal from killing any more people. Hannibal Lecter was the Chesapeake Ripper, and he had to find a way to prove it.
On the other side of the bars, Hannibal shook his head, feigning sadness. "Will, you really don't still believe that I am the person responsible for your incarceration, are you?" he asked, his voice heavy. "I would have thought that you'd had time enough to think about that by now, and realise the truth."
Will wanted to hold himself back, but he couldn't. He was so angry that he didn't think about the future, or his own safety. He threw caution to the winds, stepping to the bars and replying in a hoarse whisper.
"You did this. I'm here because of you, and I"ll prove it, no matter how long it takes."
Hannibal shook his head again, and Will wished that he could leap through the bars and grab the other man's throat, squeeze the life out of him until he was blue and gasping for breath ....
No. He wouldn't do that; he wouldn't even think about it. Thoughts like that made him no better than Hannibal, and he wasn't going to let himself sink to that level. People might believe that he was a killer thanks to Hannibal's brilliant frame-up job, but he didn't have to give them any concrete reason for that belief.
He wasn't a killer. Even when he'd had those blackouts, the ones that Hannibal had induced, he couldn't have killed anyone. He didn't have it in him to kill. He wasn't a murderer.
He could kill in self-defense, yes; anyone could. But he'd never take a life for pleasure.
The very thought of that made Will's stomach churn; it was the main thing that set him apart from Hannibal. He actually had a conscience, which was something he was absolutely sure that Hannibal didn't possess.
When he looked at Hannibal, he no longer saw a man. He saw a monster, an animal, a thing. He would never be able to see this person in the same way again, and he had to marvel at the fact that Hannibal had managed to conceal his true nature for so long, hiding himself behind a skillfully crafted mask.
But now, that mask had been ripped away, and the proverbial scales had fallen from Will's eyes. He was seeing Hannibal in truth now, filled with all of the horror and loathing that came along with that sight.
He knew what Hannibal was. He had to prove that to everyone else.
But how could he do it, when he was trapped here behind bars? The smug, satisfied expression on those ratlike features told him that Hannibal was pleased to see him to helpless.
Will's fingers curled around the iron bars, clinging to them until his knuckles were white. He knew that if he didn't clutch them, then his hands would be clenched into fists at his sides, and he would be seen as some kind of menace, that people would think he might intend to do Hannibal harm, to perpetrate some violence.
He wanted to. He couldn't even begin to put into words how much he wanted to smash that hideous visage into the wall, grind it to nothing but dust and bones.
He wouldn't be given that chance, not until he could prove his own innocence and be set free. That wasn't going to be easy, and he knew it. Hannibal would have left no stone unturned in this framing.
"You thought it all through so carefully, didn't you?" he whispered. "You knew right from the beginning that you were going to do this. I was never anything but an experiment, a way to see how far you could push someone. And when you got to the end of that rope, you made a noose to dangle me from."
Hannibal shook his head again, crossing his arms over his chest. "You have quite an imagination, Will. It is no wonder that you could commit the acts that you have, if this is truly what you believe."
Will had to bite back angry words; he knew that they would get him nowhere.
There was nothing he could say at the moment, and nothing he could do. He would just have to wage this war in his own way, with whatever weapons might come to hand at some point.
But he wouldn't have long to do that, he knew. Time was against him. He didn't doubt that the courts would seek the death penalty, and that a lot of people wanted to see him dead for what they thought he'd done. Hannibal had certainly managed to wrap this all up neatly for them, complete with a little red bow on top.
Somehow, he had to find a way to make people believe him. He had to get Jack Crawford, as well as anyone else who had some influence and power, on his side.
How the hell was he going to manage to do that from where he was?
For a moment, just one moment, Will could feel his bones caving in to despair, a wave of it washing over him, so black and bleak that he almost wished he could expire on the spot.
No, he told himself, gritting his teeth and reaching for his optimism. That's what Hannibal wants. He wants to see me as a victim, completely discouraged and defeated. I'm not going to give him that kind of satisfaction. I'm going to fight him all the way, to the bitter end. Whatever happens, I'll go down fighting.
"I'm going to win this fight," he said, his voice only marginally louder than it had been. "It might take a long time, but I'm going to prove what you are. And then you're going to be the one behind bars."
Hannibal sighed softly, shrugging his shoulders in a gesture that was almost nonchalant. "If you persist in these delusions, Will, then I can't help you," he answered, his gaze never leaving Will's face. "I want to help you, Will. But first, you have to be willing to let me do so. You have to lt me in."
Will couldn't keep back a snort of derision. "Help me? This is what you've done to me," he almost snarled. "You've never helped me. You've always been looking out for yourself, and nobody else."
"I am your friend, Will. You should realise that." The words were spoken softly, but there was an underlying bite to them.
Will knew those words were false. He knew that Hannibal was a liar -- and he was going to prove it. Somehow, some way, he was going to lay bare the face of the monster for the entire world to see.
"You've never been my friend," he said, somehow managing to keep his tone flat and even. "Not in the past, and not now. You're a monster, and I'm going to show the world exactly what you are. Consider that me flinging down a gauntlet. If you've got the balls to pick it up, that is."
Hannibal studied him, those dark eyes seeming as though they were trying to bore a hole through his soul. With a nod, and without another word, he turned and left the room, leaving Will staring after him.
It was done. The challenge had been made, and now it would be battle between them.
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