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"NIGHT OF THE RIPPER"

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At his first sight of Martinique out the plane window, Will was transfixed by the tiny island that was almost swallowed up in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.  As the plane made its decent toward the Aimé Césaire International Airport, the white sand beaches outlining the island were so white they seemed to shimmer.  Will’s eyes darted from the exotic palm trees to the lush forested hills to the colorful towns scattered throughout the island with fascination.  It was just so unlike anything he had ever seen before. 

While packing for the trip it had occurred to him that he had never actually taken a vacation before.  Oh, when he was working for the Wolf Trap Police Department he had taken a day off here and there and gone fishing, but he had never taken an entire week off and actually gone somewhere new, and the feeling was unexpectedly exciting. 

Exiting the plane with his carry-on and wondering what to do next since Hannibal and Abigail were nowhere to be seen, he was pleasantly surprised to see a driver holding a placard with his name on it waiting to pick him up, even though he hadn’t arranged for one.  The driver drove him to a beautiful hotel sitting right on the beach, then smiled at him, handed him a key, and told him he was already checked in and to have a pleasant stay.   

After stopping at the front desk and asking if there was a Hannibal Lecter registered at the hotel (which unsurprisingly there was not), he had dropped off his single bag in a luxurious room, kicked off his shoes, rolled up his pant legs, and stepped out of his balcony doors right onto the beach.  He knew that Hannibal would make himself known when he was ready.  Until then there was no reason why he should stay cooped up in his room when there was so much to see.  And so here he was, strolling along the beach of one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen feeling like he had stepped into paradise. 

He stopped for a moment and flexed his toes, moaning in delight at the feel of powder soft sand squishing between his toes.  Raising his face to the sky with his arms held out to the sides, he just stood there and reveled in the feeling of being bathed in the sun’s sultry rays.  It occurred to him then that this was strangely reminiscent of the invitation Hannibal had left him with the victim’s face upturned toward the sun.  Will knew in that moment that this was exactly what Hannibal had wanted him to experience.  It seemed kind of strange to think that he had Hannibal to thank for him taking his first ever vacation, but then again Hannibal did have a way of forcing him out of his comfort zone and into trying new things, both good and bad. 

Hannibal, Hannibal, Hannibal.  What was he going to do about Hannibal?  His logical side was berating him for even being here in the first place.  As an FBI agent, his feelings regarding Hannibal should have been crystal clear and he should have just ignored that unorthodox invitation and left things as they were.  And yet, here he was.  However, he did need to make a decision about Hannibal once and for all and stick with it this time.  He thought he had made his choice that day with Dr. Gideon when he had put aside his feelings and decided to escape.  Apparently not because here he was feeling just as torn and conflicted about Hannibal today as he had on that day.  The problem was, despite all the negative things that Hannibal had done, some positive had come out of it as well.  Hannibal had made him stronger and given him a sense of worth and confidence that he had been lacking.  He had also given him a sense of belonging and family that he hadn’t experienced since he was a small child.  And he believed that he in return had helped Hannibal come to terms with the loss of his family.  It’s like they had helped each other heal old wounds that had been festering down deep inside for far too long.   

Still, the whole thing was crazy and he still couldn’t believe that he had decided to come here.  Shaking his head, he continued down the beach deep in thought.  Hannibal’s invitation had made it clear that even after all the time that had passed and even after Will had betrayed him and run off that he still wanted him.  It was hard not to be flattered by that.  And although Will should not even be considering being in a relationship with someone who had killed, didn’t that make him a hypocrite?  Had he not himself killed?  Even excluding the people that Hannibal manipulated him into killing, he had still killed both his father and Henry Madsen.   

The fact that he worked for the FBI could most definitely be problematic, but right now Jack and the FBI felt like they were a million miles away and seemed like the least of his concerns.  It was so freeing knowing that Jack couldn’t just call him day or night and demand that the turn up at a crime scene.   Will vowed then and there that no matter what happened between him and Hannibal today that he would start taking yearly vacations and go somewhere.  He had to admit though that it would be nicer to be enjoying this beautiful island with someone he cared for.  Vacations were also things that families did together.  He realized then that this was one of the reasons why Hannibal had chosen this location to meet.  He had learned that everything Hannibal did was calculated, strategic and had purpose behind it.  It’s funny how clearly Will could see his manipulations now. 

Will wasn’t sure how this meeting was going to go, or what he even expected or wanted to happen.  He didn’t think he would know until he actually saw Hannibal.  How he felt when he saw him again would decide how things proceeded.  At that point he would either indicate to Hannibal that he was open to some type of a relationship, or he would tell Hannibal unequivocally never to contact him again or risk being arrested.  If the latter were the case, things could end up going south very quickly and then the vacation would be over with.  But he hoped not because he was already in love with this place.   

Sighing, we went back to sightseeing.  Looking out at the boats on the ocean, he wondered if he might be able to do a little fishing while he was here.  He had never fished on an ocean before.  He remembered as he’d instructed Abigail how to make a lure that he’d promised to teach her how to fish, and this could be the perfect opportunity to fulfill that promise.  But there he went getting ahead of himself. 

Looking around, he saw people sunbathing or swimming, children building sand castles.  Up ahead he saw a lively game of volleyball in progress.  He smiled as he watched seagulls vying for food as they fished for small crabs at the waterline, running back and forth as they dodged incoming waves while other gulls circled overhead making their haunting seagull cries.  He was so distracted by all the sights and sounds and smells that he nearly walked right past them. 

“Papa?  Papa!” Abigail cried, running up to him and literally throwing herself into his arms.  Will wasn’t use to uninhibited demonstrations of affection, but he remembered that Abigail had always been a hugger so he forced his body to relax and hugged her back.  The fact that she still called him papa after all this time had him instantly choking up. 

He held her at arm’s length then and took a good look at her.  “You can’t be Abigail.  Abigail is a child and you’re a grown woman,” he said, noticing how much she had changed and feeling a touch of sadness that he had missed it.  Her hair was back to its natural auburn color, and she wore it in a long glossy sheet halfway down her back.  She was tanned and radiated good health. 

He spotted Hannibal over her shoulder then, looking totally relaxed in a loose-fitting white gauzy short-sleeve shirt and beige shorts.  His skin was bronzed and his hair glistened with sun-kissed highlights.  He was standing back and watching them with an expression on his face that Will could only describe as pleased.  As soon as Will laid eyes on him, any remaining doubts about being here were swept away with the ocean tide.  His mouth had gone dry and his heart was trying to pound its way out of his chest at the mere sight of him. 

“Hello, Will,” Hannibal said, speaking first. 

“Hello, Hannibal,” Will said back.  He had wondered what he would say to Hannibal when he first saw him.  This initial meeting after not having seen each other for so long and considering the way they had parted could most definitely be a bit awkward, the conversation stilted.  But he suddenly knew exactly what to say to break the ice.  “I have a question for you, Hannibal.” 

“Oh?” Hannibal replied curiously, smiling and cocking his head in a way that was both familiar and endearing.  “And what would that be?” 

“Why in the world would you let Abigail go out in public like this?  I mean, what is she even wearing?” he asked, looking scandalized as he eyed the two strips of cobalt blue material that barely covered her private areas. 

“Apparently it is called a bikini, and quote ‘all the girls are wearing them’,” Hannibal said wryly.  “Believe me when I say that we have already had this conversation.  But as Abigail is now 18, she needs to be free to make her own choices.” 

“Don’t be such a fuddy-duddy, papa,” Abigail replied sassily, tossing her long hair over her shoulder.  “Having a beautiful, healthy body is nothing to be ashamed of.”    

“You’re right, having a beautiful body is nothing to be ashamed of,” Will said.  “I just don’t think you should be showing off that much of it outside of a marriage bed.” 

“You’re such a square,” Abigail said, rolling her eyes dramatically in typical teenage fashion. 

“Oh, then I suppose it would be all right with you if I paraded down the beach wearing nothing but a G-string, demonstrating that I also have nothing to be ashamed of,” Will countered, cocking a defiant eyebrow at her. 

“Oh my god, you wouldn’t?!” Abigail said, looking at him with real horror. 

“I just might if you keep wearing that,” he replied. 

Hannibal chuckled and stepped up to Will then and hugged him.  “I’m the psychiatrist here, but you seem to have a better handle on child psychology,” he said, holding him tightly like he didn’t want to let go. 

After a second Will found himself sighing and melting against him.  It’s funny how perfectly they fit together.  He had to admit he had missed being held like this.  And why did Hannibal always smell so damn good? 

“Fucking queers.” 

All three of them looked over with surprise at a man who had just walked past them. 

“Get a room, homos,” the man added, shooting them a look of contempt over his shoulder. 

Will felt Hannibal’s muscles tense, but he made no attempt to go after the man. 

“You’re showing a remarkable amount of restraint,” Will commented, looking at Hannibal. 

“That man was terribly rude,” Hannibal said stiffly, “but someone convinced me that rudeness is not a good reason to kill a person, so I have been practicing restraint.  I will admit that it has not always been easy.” 

“Father’s been trying to change to please you,” Abigail chimed in. 

Will was most definitely pleased by this.  If he had to pick one thing that was the biggest argument against being with Hannibal, that would have been it.  So to learn that Hannibal had already taken it upon himself to change in order to please him meant a great deal.  “You haven’t changed totally though, have you?” Will said.  “While most people send flowers in a vase with a card when they want to reconcile, you sent me flowers in a dead predator with your message carved into his heart.”   

“I had hoped that my eliminating another predator would be perceived as a gift.” 

“Well, if you had killed an innocent person, we most definitely would not be standing here talking right now,” Will said.  He wanted to make sure that Hannibal knew exactly where things stood if there was any chance for….whatever this was to work out.  “I was frankly surprised to get your invitation at all after so much time had passed.  I thought for sure that you and Abigail had forgotten about me and moved on with your lives.” 

“We could never forget about you, Will.  You are a part of us.  I just wanted to give you some time away from us to be able to think clearly, and I then waited for what I perceived to be the right moment to approach you—the moment when I felt you would be more open to finally joining us.  I have been following your career closely in Freddie Lounds’ articles, and when I read about Henry Madsen, that’s the sign I had been waiting for. 

“Henry Madsen?  You mean the child killer who slipped and fell to his death while I was pursuing him?” 

“Slipped?” Hannibal said, smiling and raising an eyebrow.  “I know better, Will.  I may be the only person who truly does know and understand you.” 

Will realized then that that was probably true.  No one in the FBI could understand how dark his thoughts could get when dealing with some of these killers.  It was as if he became tainted by the criminals he tracked down, and that taint did not go away once they were caught.  And who could he talk openly with about these occasional darker tendencies he had?  Jack?  Dr. Chilton?  No, Hannibal was the only one who would not only understand him, but wouldn’t judge him for it.  “Well, perhaps I did help him a bit,” Will admitted.  “The thought of someone who enjoyed killing children drawing one more breath was just inconceivable to me.  Someone that vile, that evil, who had destroyed so many lives had no right spending one more second among the living.  Which actually brings me to an interesting fact about that very rude man who just passed us.” 

“Oh?  And what fact would that be?” Hannibal asked, frowning as he looked down the beach at the man growing smaller the distance, and Will could see the effort he was making even now to restrain himself. 

“As it so happens, I recognize him.  His name is Nicholas Ryan and he’s currently being sought by the FBI on 23 counts of swindling seniors out of their life’s savings.  When the FBI was about to close in on him, he suddenly disappeared with their money.  It would appear that this is where he ended up.” 

“So…” Hannibal said cautiously, “would you agree then that a man who preys on the elderly has no right spending one more second among the living?” he asked, using Will’s own words and searching his eyes hopefully. 

“You know,” Will said, smiling and putting his hands on Hannibal’s shoulders, you taking on other predators makes you kind of like a super hero.  It’s actually kinda hot.” 

Hannibal started to move after the man, but Will held him back.  “If you start following him now, he’ll see you and get spooked.  Let Abby track him,” he said, looking over at the girl, who had been listening in on their conversation intently.  “She can follow him and find out where he’s staying and if he’s rooming with anyone, and then you can take care of that particular problem later on tonight.” 

“Perhaps we can take care of it together?” Hannibal asked tentatively, searching Will’s eyes.   

“Perhaps.  But no Ripper tableau.  I certainly don’t need the FBI getting wind of anything like that.  Jack is already suspicious about that kill you dropped in our back yard.  He’s a smart man and I’m not sure he fully bought into the copycat theory.  Mr. Ryan will just disappear, like tourists do.  And definitely no organ removal.  While I’m here on this island I want to eat fresh seafood, not whatever ‘catch of the day’ you might have squirrelled away somewhere.  Understand right now that I am not turning cannibal just to please you.” 

“Whatever you say,” Hannibal replied, smiling, because if Will was negotiating with him, that meant he had already made the decision to stay with him. 

Hannibal felt lighter than he had in a long time.  He had to admit that he had been plagued with doubt as to whether Will would show up or not, and that uncertainty was something he was not at all used to.  It’s just that Will could be so unpredictable, which was unfortunately part of what also made him also so appealing.  He had known that In order to keep Will that some compromises would have to be made, and he was willing to try in order to please him.  He actually found killing other predators to be surprisingly satisfying.  They were more challenging prey because they were less fearful, confident in their misconception that they are the biggest, baddest thing out there, and it was satisfying to see the look of shock upon their faces as they realized the error of that thinking.  That lack of fear until the very end also meant that the meat wasn’t infused with that bitter taste that prolonged fear caused. 

Unable to hold off a second longer, Hannibal kissed Will then, his hands finding their way into his hair, tightening his grip on those curls of his and angling Will‘s face so that he could deepen the kiss.  He was glad Will hadn‘t started wearing his hair short because, god, how he loved the feel of those silky curls.  He could sit for hours just touching his hair.  They broke apart, both flushed and panting slightly, recognizing that this was neither the time nor the place.  As they looked over at Abigail, she was giving them that look that kids got when they realized their parents do get intimate, and she was looking totally embarrssed by their public display. 

Will smiled at her and said “Go,“ pointing his chin down the beach toward the soon to be deceased Nicholas Ryan, and Abigail nodded and headed after him.  Will and Hannibal continued walking down the beach side by side.    

“So, what have you and Abigail been up to the last 18 months while I‘ve been fighting crime and making the world a safer place?” Will asked, trying to get his mind off that scorching kiss.   

“Abigail and I went to Italy for a few months where I changed my name to Roman Fell.  When the newspapers proclaimed with certainty that the Chesapeake Ripper was dead and I was certain that you weren‘t going to pursue things further in an attempt to convince them otherwise, we moved back to Baltimore.  I studied for a degree in psychiatry,and received it fairly quickly since I already had a medical degree under my belt, and I now have my own private practice in Baltimore.  Abigail is enrolled at Johns Hopkins and is excelling in her pre-med studies.” 

Will nodded.  “Not surprising.” 

“We have been relatively happy but have both continued to feel that a very crucial part of our lives was missing.  You‘ve made us both very happy by coming here today, Will.  I‘m not sure what I would have done if you hadn‘t shown up, ” he said, taking Will‘s hand and squeezing it affectionately.  “Now, tell me what you have been up to—besides fighting crime, that is?  Have you...been seeing anyone?” he asked casually, but Will heard the underlying tension in his voice that he was trying to hide.   

“No, I‘m not seeing anyone.  Believe it or not, I moved back into my old house in Wolf Trap.” 

“Why in the world would you do that?” Hannibal asked with genuine surprise.   

“I know it seems strange, but sometimes we miss things, even when we know they’re not exactly good for us,” he said, looking at Hannibal meaningfully.  “I also have two dogs now.  Not watchdogs—these are the lovable mutt types that sleep on the furniture and leave hair everywhere.”  Will laughed at Hannibal’s expression. 

“Clearly there are things that we need to work out if you are open to continuing this,” Hannibal said cautiously. 

“As much as I was hoping that seeing you again would help me walk away and forget about you, it is proving to have the opposite effect,” Will said.  “You would know better, but I believe a noted psychologist by the name of Carl Jung said, ‘What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size,’ and that would appear to be true.  I have resisted my feelings for so long, and it’s just made me miserable.  So maybe it’s time I stop resisting and just go with the flow and see where it takes me.  If you’re willing to meet me half way on certain things and we take it slow—and I’m talking baby steps here—maybe, just maybe we can find a way to make this work.  I have no desire to live in Baltimore, but I have no problem spending weekends there.  I’d be nice if you and Abigail came out to Wolf Trap from time to time.  I could teach you both to fish.  We can try and make this work,” Will said.  “But so help me, Hannibal,” Will warned, “if the body of a single innocent should ever turn up with your signature on it, I will stop being the object of your affections and become your worst nightmare:  that is, a man with a gun and a badge who knows how you think and won’t underestimate you.”  Will sighed, “I daresay Jack is not going to be happy with me when I’m not able to solve this ‘copycat killer’ case.” 

“Speaking of Jack,” Hannibal said casually, “he contacted me a few days ago.” 

Will stopped dead in his tracks and Hannibal chuckled at his stunned expression.  “He contacted me in a professional capacity,” Hannibal clarified.  “A colleague of mine, Alana Bloom, recommended me to Jack.  Apparently Jack has an agent that he wants me to speak to and evaluate.  It’s another psychiatrist’s opinion that this agent is dealing with the aftermath of a past trauma that may be affecting his job, and Jack wants a second opinion on the matter to make sure that this agent is stable enough to perform his job.  I told him I would be happy to evaluate this agent.” 

Will groaned.  “That must be Dr. Chilton.  He’s always trying to get me to talk to him and to open up about my time spent with the Chesapeake Ripper, but I had no idea he was expressing concerns to Jack.” 

“This could not be more perfect though,” Hannibal said, “because it will provide a way for us to publicly meet and eventually start an open relationship.  Fate has once again interceded on our behalf.” 

“So it would seem,” Will said, shaking his head at how Fate did seem to keep sticking its nose in their business.  After a few seconds of walking in companiable silence Will said, “I have to ask you, Hannibal...” 

“Please, call me Roman.  You‘ll need to get used to calling me that name now as the name Hannibal Lecter will raise red flags with your FBI associates.” 

“Is Hannibal Lecter even your real name?“ 

“It is, but very few people living are aware of that fact.“ 

Will nodded.  “Roman then, if you knew that I was going to try and escape after all your careful work and planning, why did you let me go?”  Will needed to hear the reason for himself. 

“A rather droll American novelist by the name of Richard Bach once wrote, ‘If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.’  As I came to care for you, I wanted our relationship to be on an equal footing and for you to choose to stay with me of your own free will, but as long as you felt you were my prisoner or under my influence, you were never going to accept the fact that you did have feelings for me.  So I had to let you go to allow you time to examine your feelings away from me and without feeling you were being influenced by me, but I needed to do it in such a way that I protected both Abigail and myself, and it was my sincere hope that your feelings for us were at least strong enough at that time that you wouldn’t protest too strongly to Dr. Gideon being thought the Ripper.  Believe me when I say that leaving without you was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  But I needed you to want to be with me.  I needed to know if you could want me as much as I wanted you.” 

Will sighed.  Hannibal had basically just admitted that he loved him, and although Will wasn’t in a mindset to say it back yet, it did validate to him that he made the right choice coming here.  Love often came from the most unexpected places.  “I was so confused and angry at first when I realized that you had tricked me, but then when Jack first told me the Chesapeake Ripper was dead without me knowing that it was Dr. Gideon, I think that’s when it first struck me how much I did care.  I never want to feel that devastated again.” 

Hannibal smiled.  He had always considered himself a patient man, ruled by his head, not his heart.  But that was before he had met Will.  It had taken almost two years for Will to finally accept the fact that they belonged together, and those two years had severely stretched his patience to the breaking point.  But now it appeared that his patience had paid off. 

“Oh, and Roman?” Will said sweetly. 

“Yes, darling?” 

“If you ever, and I mean ever, cut off another piece of Abigail like you did her ear, I guarantee that you will sorely regret it.” 

“I understand,” Hannibal replied, trying his best to look contrite, even as his heart soared.  Oh, how he had missed his stubborn, sassy Will. 

~~~⊰X⊱~~~

When Abigail returned from following Nicholas Ryan, Hannibal took his family out to lunch and Will happily ate fresh seafood while listening to Abigail chat away about Italy and school and this boy she was interested in, and anything else she could think of. 

Then later on that night Will went along with Hannibal and watched as he showed Nicholas Ryan the error of his ways.  Abigail had wanted to come along too, but Will had put his foot down.  It was his hope that Abigail would turn out normal and not follow in Hannibal’s footsteps.  Will had to admit that watching Hannibal in action against another predator was….stimulating. 

Before Hannibal took Nicholas Ryan’s life, Will asked Hannibal politely if he would please find out what Mr. Ryan had done with the money he had swindled from all those seniors, which Hannibal had happily and most effectively done.  Will would take that information and make sure that Jack received it anonymously, and although he knew it wouldn’t be easy, it was his hope that Jack would be able to recover the money and return it to the victims. 

Then afterwards, while the excitement of watching Hannibal had Will’s blood running hot, he took Hannibal back to his room where they dropped all pretenses.  Frantically ripping at each other’s clothes, all the pain, the loneliness, the sorrow and longing that had been bottled up for nearly two years erupted in a display of pent-up passion that was primal, raw and intense as they joined in mind, body and spirit, and the next day both would bear the marks of that explosive first encounter.  Will wondered if this was why his flings had always fallen so short.  Having people consider him a quote ‘pretty boy,’ they tended to treat him like he needed to be handled gently in the bedroom.  Gentle treatment in the bedroom bored him.  Hannibal had opened a door and shown him what it felt like to totally let go, to be uninhibited and free and able to unleash his baser side, and it felt good to be with someone who didn’t hold back, who gave as good as he got and who reveled in the savagery every bit as much as he did. 

When they made love a second time, they did it in the shower, taking it slower and getting reacquainted with each other’s bodies.  Then later on as they lay wrapped in each other’s arms they were each lost in their own thoughts. 

Will wondered if there was any way this could have been avoided.  As much as he had resisted it, it did seem like that fickle bitch Fate kept trying to throw them together.  Fate certainly had a twisted sense of humor pairing a cop with a killer.  On the other hand, wasn’t it a common saying that opposites attracted? 

Hannibal was thinking that nothing would ever separate Will from him again.  He hadn’t felt this happy since before his sister died.  Will seemed to be a soothing balm to the blistering pain that had been created by Mischa’s death, and he needed him in his life like he needed the air to breathe. 

Someone coined a phrase ‘you can’t have everything’ but Hannibal thought that that person was a fool because they obviously set limits on how far they would go to get what they wanted.  Hannibal’s thought was that if you wanted something bad enough, there should be no limits to what you are willing to do to achieve it.  He’d had to kill, kidnap, imprison, drug and manipulate, but in the end he now had everything he wanted, and woe be to anyone who tried to get between him and what was his.  As he tightened his possessive hold on Will he vowed that anyone who tried would quickly find out that the day might belong to them, but the night belonged to the Ripper. 

~ The End ~