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Title: Tooth and Nail
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Target on His Back."
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 stopped his car in front of his house, waiting a moment before getting out.
He could hear the dogs inside, barking at the door. They wanted to be let out, to have their run and then be fed. He would do that in a few minutes, but at the moment, he needed to relax.
The first few days back at work hadn't been as rough as he'd thought they would be. He was still physically weak, but his mind was as strong as ever.
At least he wasn't hobbling around on a cane or anything like that; he hadn't thought that he would have to, not really, but he hadn't been sure about that. There had been times when the pain in his stomach had nearly doubled him over, and he had almost wished that he'd waited longer to come back.
But that had passed fairly quickly, and now he felt that he could handle full days, at least in his classroom. He hadn't been back out in the field yet, and maybe that was a good thing.
He wanted to keep helping Jack. He knew that what he did saved lives, and that was what he wanted to do. But he wasn't up to full strength yet, and Jack understood that.
He hated this weakness, but it wasn't something he could wish away.
It would take time for him to be back up to speed, and he knew that. But it was so frustrating not to feel completely himself again, to be back on his feet at full capacity.
Still, he was doing well. He wasn't having any nightmares about Hannibal any more -- at least, not yet, Will told himself grimly. Those were probably coming; he didn't doubt that Hannibal would find some way to invade his dreams, just as those postcards invaded his waking hours.
He hadn't received another one yet, but he checked the post office every day -- twice a day now. He was just waiting for the next missive to come his way.
When it did, he hoped that he'd get some clue as to where Hannibal was.
That probably wasn't going to happen, he thought with a grimace. The bastard was too good at covering up his tracks. If anyone knew how to hide away, it was Hannibal.
And when he came back out into the light, it would probably be with some grandiose gesture, Will thought sourly. He was good at that, too. Hannibal knew all about grand guignol.
Sighing, he opened the door and got out of the car, walking slowly to the front porch and up the steps. He would let the dogs out to run, then feed them and make his own dinner, and spend the evening with a book. Or maybe he'd even try to go to bed early and get more rest than he'd been getting lately.
He saw it the moment he stepped onto the porch; a neatly folded sheet of paper tucked into the crack between the door and the frame. He didn't have to ask himself who it was from.
A piece of paper; not a letter, not a postcard. This hadn't been sent through the mail; it had been hand-delivered to his door, left here by the hand of the person who had sent it.
That meant Hannibal was here. If not in Wolf Trap, then close by, watching and waiting. Will swung around to study the woods around his house, narrowing his eyes. If Hannibal was out there, then he was well-hidden, and he wasn't going to show himself yet.
No, he would wait until Will was off-balance, until he had let his guard down. Then he would appear, and Will's entire world would turn upside down yet again.
Will didn't want to touch that paper. He knew that if he did, then he would be drawn into Hannibal's world again; the playing field would switch to one that gave Hannibal the advantage.
He was already off-balance and unsteady. This would just make things worse.
But he couldn't simply stand here staring at that piece of paper. He had to touch it, unfold it, read it and see what it said. He had to know whatever it was that Hannibal had to say to him.
His hand trembling, he reached out and took the paper. Will closed his eyes, taking one deep breath, then another. He was going to need all of his fortitude if he wanted to read this page without feeling panic rise in him; he hadn't expected this to happen, wasn't prepared for any kind of confrontation.
He wasn't confronting Hannibal, he reminded himself. Not yet, anyway. This was only a piece of paper with some words written on it. This was just a preliminary.
It was only the first step of whatever was to come.
The note was short and simple, with only two lines. "I'm here, Will, and I'm watching you and biding my time. We will see each other soon enough." There was no greeting, and no signature.
Will couldn't hold back a shudder of revulsion. He didn't want to hold this piece of paper in his hands, knowing that Hannibal had touched it.
He didn't want anything more to do with Hannibal. That monster was out of his life; he wanted things to stay that way. But Hannibal had made it more than plain that they had unfinished business, and Will knew that he had to confront his nemesis at least once more for all of this to be over.
He wouldn't be free of Hannibal until that final confrontation was over and done with, and one of them had come out the winner. Only one of them would emerge from that confrontation victorious.
He had the feeling that only one of them would emerge from it alive. Will shivered at the thought; Hannibal had almost killed him once. He didn't want to give his enemy another chance to do away with him.
But if he didn't confront Hannibal, then he would spend the rest of his life running.
He couldn't do that. He couldn't let Hannibal take charge of his life in that way, send him scurrying towards a hiding place any time it looked as though they might clash.
If that happened, then Hannibal would be the victor, and he wasn't going to allow that. He was going to stand his ground, confront the man who had caused him so much pain and turmoil, and he was going to do his best to defeat that monster and either send him to hell, or put him behind bars.
He didn't have much of a choice in that, Will thought as he pulled out his keys and unlocked the door. It was either face up to Hannibal, or be a scared rabbit for the remainder of his days.
He wasn't going to be a damned rabbit. He was going to stand up and fight.
Will's lips thinned into a grim, determined line. The last time he and Hannibal had confronted each other, he'd been too emotionally stunned to put up a fight. Well, the next time would be different.
He hadn't seen this one coming, hadn't expected any kind of contact from Hannibal this close to home. But he would deal with it, and not let it weaken him.
That was what Hannibal wanted to do. He wanted Will to be weak and confused, and then he would choose his time to attack, when Will least expected it. But he would find that it wouldn't be so easy to back his intended victim into a corner this time, Will vowed.
This time, Hannibal was going to find that a cornered rabbit could still turn around and bare its claws. That was exactly what he would do -- fight tooth and nail for the final victory.
He would fight, and he would win. There would be no more running, and when he and Hannibal met again, their final battle would result in a very different outcome.
The time had come to take a stand, and that was just what he would do.
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