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Title: Winter in His Soul
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 looked up at the sky, squinting. Winter would be here soon.
Yes, winter was coming, and there had still been no sign of Hannibal, he thought, shoving his hands into his pockets and trudging down the front steps of his house.
Winston was waiting for him, bounding around the front yard and yapping. The other dogs were inside the house; none of them had seemed to want to brave the cold for a walk. Probably because they'd already been out just an hour or so ago, Will told himself.
But Winston would go anywhere with him, he thought with a smile. This dog had appointed himself Will's protector; he'd even come back to the house constantly when Will had been in prison.
If only everyone in his life could be as loyal as Winston, Will thought with a sigh. But no, everyone had turned away from him when he was in jail, even the people who had always claimed that they would stick by his side, the people who had said that they believed in him.
How quickly the tables could turn! But he had to admit that Hannibal's frame-up had been brilliant; the evidence had been so overwhelmingly against him that no one had been able to see the truth.
Hannibal was good at pulling the wool over everyone's eyes, he had to admit that.
But Hannibal had also, for his own reasons, gotten Will released from jail, and cleared his name. He still hadn't quite managed to figure out just why that had been done.
Probably because Hannibal had wanted the pleasure of killing him on his own, Will thought sourly. Gingerly, he reached down to touch the wound on his stomach, grimacing as he did so.
He still wasn't fully healed from this, but at least it hadn't impaired him permanently. He would always have the ugly scar there on his flesh to remind him of what had happened, though. It would never go away, never be out of his mind for very long. It would always lurk in the back of his mind, as well as on his body.
He would never be able to forget the emotions that went along with that scar -- the shock of finding Abigail still alive, and the horror of seeing her murdered in front of his eyes.
He'd known that Hannibal was a killer, a monster, barely human. But he hadn't realized that Hannibal's revenge for his deception would be so utterly cold and cruel.
That night was when winter had truly come to him, Will thought bleakly.
That night was when a coldness had settled into his heart, a coldness that would never go away, no matter how much he might try to find warmth and wrap his soul in it.
He didn't think that he could ever find warmth again, not after that horrible night. Not after what he'd witness right in front of his very eyes, the horrors that he had seen -- and felt.
Murders were committed every day. He knew that. He saw some of them on an almost daily basis, and he saw the worst of them. He'd seen Hannibal's murders, even felt connected to them when he used his empathic gifts. But he hadn't been prepared for the horror of watching someone he loved being brutally killed.
He hadn't been prepared for the suddenness of it. for the coldness and emptiness in Hannibal's eyes when he had drawn the knife across Abigail's throat and her blood had come pouring out.
He had known that Hannibal was cold and merciless, but he had never dreamed that he would dispatch Abigail in such a horrible way, simply to punish Will for his betrayal.
it still seemed surreal to him; he could remember every second, etched on his memory with crystal clarity, but it seemed like a film reel spooling out, a movie that he had been watching. Everything had felt, for those few moments, as though it was moving underwater, as if he was trying to walk through heavy syrup.
But it had been real. It had happened. Hannibal had murdered Abigail, and then he'd moved towards Will and embraced him -- only to gut him with that same small knife.
Will hadn't expected that; he had prepared himself for a blow, not to feel as though his lifeblood was gushing out of him, as though his last breath could come at any moment.
He had sunk down to the floor, closing his eyes to blot out the sight of Abigail's lifeless body.
And the cold had seeped into him, the cold that seemed to permeate his flesh, his bones, his very soul. The cold that he knew would never go away, that could never be assuaged by any kind of warmth.
It was too late for him to feel that warmth. Hannibal had taken it away from him, and left him with an everlasting winter in his soul that would never allow him comfort.
Winter was coming to the world, but it had come to his soul that night. There were times when Will felt as though he was now made of ice, nothing more than a sculpture of a man that could be shattered into millions of tiny shards with one wrong move, one word that would bring those moments back to him in living color.
There were nights when he awakened in a cold sweat, the memories coming back to him unbidden, tears on his face that he hadn't realized he'd cried until he was wide awake.
Those were the times when he felt as though he was breaking, when the ice around him cracked and threatened to fall away, to let searing hot pain in to wound him even more.
He didn't know which was worse -- the icy coldness of isolation, or the scalding pain of his memories.
Both of them were horrible, he thought with a sigh. Both of them made him feel even more alone than he actually was, isolating him behind a shield that he tried to use to keep himself safe.
He had learned the folly of getting too close to people, he told himself bitterly. He had loved Abigail, and look where that had gotten both of them. He'd been close to someone else, trying to forge a relationship, and the slut had slept with his worst enemy, turning against him and betraying him in every way.
And worst of all, he'd let himself get close to Hannibal before he had realized just what a monster he was, letting his guard down and being stupid enough to trust.
He'd never do that again. He would make sure that winter surrounded him and closed him off to others, even though it could be painful to feel so alone. It was better to be alone than to open himself up to that kind of pain again. He didn't ever want to feel those sorts of regrets again, not for the rest of his life.
Being close to anyone would only bring more pain in the long run. It was better to live in a perpetual winter, to lock his soul away and never let it be seen.
It was a lonely way to live, but it was the only way he knew.
Was Hannibal feeling the same way? Will doubted that; he was sure that the monster was even now finding another person to bring under his spell, someone else to use and then toss away.
And he was sure that Hannibal wasn't done with him yet. Sooner or later, he would show up again, and they would have one final confrontation, from which only one of them could emerge the victor.
He wanted to be prepared for that confrontation, and he wanted to be sure that Hannibal wouldn't be able to find even one shred of his life to be used against him. He wouldn't let anyone get close to him, for fear that Hannibal would use them, take them away from him, even as he'd taken Abigail.
Hannibal had destroyed his world once, and almost destroyed him along with it. He wouldn't let that happen again. So he would let winter settle deep into his soul and take him over.
It was safer than the alternative. Locking himself into a wintry landscape of the soul would ensure that he wouldn't be caught unawares again, that he would be ready for anything Hannibal could throw at him.
Winter was coming to the rest of the world, but for him, it had already arrived -- and it wasn't leaving.
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