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Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Prelude."
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.
***Everything had moved so quickly after their initial meeting.
At the time, it had felt as though he was taking his time in getting to know Hannibal, but their friendship had moved by leaps and bounds.
It had been like a rapidly plucked toccata, springing from one point to another; he had revealed so much about himself, let Hannibal get into his head so quickly.
That was what he was supposed to do, wasn't it? Hannibal had been his psychiatrist; he'd been the person who WIll should have been able to trust completely, and for a while, he'd let himself do that. He had hoped to find a friend, to finally have a person in his life who understood him.
When had that friendship subtly shifted towards a relationship? When exactly had he let not only his mind, but his heart reach out to the other man?
Will couldn't exactly put a finger on when his feelings had changed, but that didn't matter. The fact was that they had, and that had been his downfall.
There had been so many changing emotions in those first weeks.
He'd gone from uncertainty and doubt, to love and longing -- and he'd let himself fall even when he'd known that it was dangerous for him to do so.
Dangerous in that he knew how susceptible he was to his emotions; if he let them have free rein, then he might throw caution to the winds and forget to protect his heart.
He'd never allowed himself to do that in the past; he had always been cautious, always protected himself from any kind of serious involvement first and foremost. Well, he'd protected himself from any involvement at all, WIll thought with a wry smile. He'd never let himself go, not with anyone.
With Hannibal, he'd not only tested the edges of the barriers be'd put up around himself for all of his life, but he'd burst through them, making them crumble into dust.
And now he was regretting those impulsive decisions, regretting what he'd felt. Regretting all that he'd so unknowingly let himself believe, all that he'd done.
He regretted falling in love with Hannibal.
Whoever loved Hannibal was ruined. He knew that now, all too well. He knew that he should never have let himself get so close to the other man, never have let himself feel.
He'd been a fool to believe that Hannibal could care about him in the same way. He should have known that he would never be anything more than an experiment to the other man, that Hannibal had never looked at him as anything more than a curiosity, a plaything to be used and then tossed away.
Will doubted that Hannibal had ever loved him as he'd said he did. Oh, he might have thought that Will was his friend, but he had a twisted, perverted view of relationships.
Hannibal used people. He always had, and he always would. If only he'd been able to see that before he had let himself fall, let his heart become entangled.
Hindsight was always 20/20, wasn't it? Will thought wryly. It was easy to look back now and see everything that he should have seen, to tell himself what he'd done wrong. But in the heat of the moment, seeing any flaws had been next to impossible, even though they'd been right there in front of him.
He'd been so enraptured by the rapid pace their relationship had taken that he hadn't been able to do anything but catch his breath and try to keep up with it all.
Which was exactly what Hannibal had wanted.
He had intended to sweep Will off his feet -- and he'd done just that. Will had been running to keep up, exhilarated by the direction his life seemed to be taking.
It had never occurred to him that he should slow down and be a little more cautious, that he should be more careful to preserve his memories and take care of himself.
He'd been under the impression that Hannibal was going to take care of him, that he had finally found the soul mate he'd always yearned for but had never thought he would find. He'd been so swept up in the intricate, quick steps of that toccata the two of them seemed to be dancing that he'd been blind.
He had let himself be swept away by the passion of new love, of desires that had finally risen to the surface being assuaged for the first time. He hadn't looked for trouble.
And when he had found trouble, he'd done the only thing he could do. He'd backed away from it, doing what he knew was the right thing even though his soul rebelled against it.
Would he ever be able to forgive himself?
He'd asked that question so many times since that fateful day, and he still didn't have an answer for it. Will wondered if he ever would. He doubted it. The question was unanswerable.
He didn't want to think that he would feel guilty for the rest of his life, but the truth was, he probably would. He had been the one to end their magical interlude.
He had been the one to bring it all crashing down around them. But what else could he have done? he asked himself. He'd never have been able to let Hannibal touch him again, not after what he'd discovered -- even though he still craved that touch more than he'd ever wanted anything.
Would he always feel this way, conflicted between knowing that he'd done the right thing and the crushing guilt he felt over what he'd had to do to the man he loved?
Will was sure that he would. The guilt was always be there, eating away at him. And even though he'd only done what he had to do, he knew that he would never escape that guilt.
There would be no rapid toccata to enable him to dance away from it.
No, he would always be faced with that guilt, and he would never be able to look Hannibal in the eye again because of it. He would never be able to see his former lover again.
If he did, he knew that all of those feelings would come pouring back over him again, and he couldn't risk that. There was no way that he could let those feelings break through the ironclad conviction that he'd only done what was right -- even though he'd had to betray his own heart.
He would live with that betrayal for the rest of his life, and he would build up yet more barriers around his heart. Barriers that would never again be broken through by anyone.
This time, he would keep himself safe -- from his own heart as well as from the world.
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