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A Cliff And The Wine Dark Sea

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The room is a wayplace, the only sound it holds a soft breathing in the grey morning light. Even as the figure in the bed shifts there is nothing but stillness. A soft peace.

Overly cheery posters and a stiffness that speaks of both an overabundance of personalities and none at all linger in the room, a place made for strangers. Filled with simple, clean furniture, the kind you get at Walmart for $19.99 and put together with pegs and a few muttered, exasperated curses. It is the type of room Will had grown familiar with early on, a place for stashing the lost for a lack of anywhere else to put them.

Suddenly the figure in the bed freezes, stops breathing entirely before his back arches up, up, up. Painfully so. His mouth is open in a silent cry.

And that is his first thought, here in this room that he hasn't seen since he was ten years old. Why doesn't it hurt? Even as his body crashes back against the bed he's moving, sitting up with his naked back against the cheap headboard, staring around in utter confusion because he knows this room. But that can't be right, can it? He hasn't seen this room since the time his father went on a bender and left him in a hotel for two weeks. They'd caught him scavenging in the trash at a local dive, scrubbed him down, and placed him in foster care.

It's been so long he can't remember the name of the family that had taken him in for a paycheck, they'd only had him for three weeks before Bill Graham had shown up, sober and sorry. He was always sorry, afterward.

What's happening? Hannibal, where's Hannibal? He can feel how hard his heart is beating, raging against his chest because they'd... and then... and now he was alone. Bereft in this place, without his anchor. I can't be alone. Not again. His hand flies up to his neck, terror reaching a new level to find that the freshly laid bite, which should have been hours old, is absent. No, no, no.

But wakefulness has brought another piece of clarity to him, a shocking thought that is almost violent in it's intensity: Mischa might still be alive.

With a quickness he'd forgotten he possessed, Will is gracelessly scrabbling off of his twin bed and down the stairs, without another thought. Given the year he won't be able to easily access a computer, especially at this hour, but a newspaper... he thinks he remembers this family getting one. Barring that he can always turn on the news, but he's reluctant to disturb the quiet of the morning. There's something sacred about it. He's never been particularly superstitious, but Will is suddenly convinced that he's tucked away in a fragile moment in time and space. If he isn't careful, he'll be plucked right back to his own time. To a cliff and the wine dark sea.

To that end, he slows down, forces himself to be cautious as he slinks down the stairs, hyper-aware of everything.

It's too early for the family to be awake. He's recalling more about them now, the frumpy beta housewife with nicotine stained fingers and a lifetime of resentment. The balding alpha father, completely checked out from life. He thinks they might have had children, once. But he'd never met them, only saw their smiling faces in photographs crookedly lining the stairwell.

His mind is buzzing. He doesn't know, exactly, the year that Mischa Lecter died. Her headstone didn't say and asking Hannibal felt profane, somehow. The sort of violation they'd never committed against one another. (The only one, possibly.) But if he's right, then it's sometime soon. She'd been very young, but Hannibal had remarked once that she'd been closer to Will's age than his own. Even now, it could be too late. Hannibal could be staring in dawning horror at three little milk teeth in the bottom of a roughly made bowl.

No. Will can't accept that, and doesn't question why. The idea of not at least trying to stop that from happening is impossible. He doesn't think beyond it. He can't. Whatever is happening, whatever has happened, he's living in a world where the most precious thing Hannibal's life still lives and breathes. And like hell is Will going to not do everything he can to keep it that way.

Later he can think of consequences, of what it might mean for him. For them.

Sneaking out on bare feet he quickly finds the newspaper, confirming that he's right. It's late October and he's in Shreveport, Lousiana. The faded paint on the mailbox says Grimsley. Fitting.

Okay, so this is happening. Unless it's a strange delusion or the world's strangest fever dream... no, I'm going to operate on the assumption that this is real. He squeezes his fist hard in his hand, hard enough that the nails dig in to the meat of his palm. It feels real.

Will goes back in to the house and up the stairs, thinking hard about what he knows for certain. Hannibal is in Lithuania. Has he... is he like me? Displaced in time? There's only one way to find out: Will is going to have to find him.

Good thing I've always been particularly good at that.

Trouble is, there isn't a boat handy, and he's stuck in the body of his ten year old self. That could be a problem. Will dresses quickly, tugging an overworn tshirt over his head. He doesn't have many belongings here, having arrived with a trashbag full of clothes and a stack of books, but if he's going to bullshit anyone at the airport convincingly he'll need luggage.

That part is easy. He digs out a battered brown duffel bag from the hall closet, fills it with what he has and rounds it off with some food from the kitchen. He sneaks in to the Grimsley's bedroom and finds an old handgun under the bed, tucking it in to his belt after checking that it was loaded. He won't be able to take it on a plane, but he could sell it, maybe. There's money in the man's wallet, a tattered twenty and a few ones, but he needs more and pockets the debit card too. Thankfully, Michael Grimsley was a lazy, careless man and has the pin number taped to the side of his card with a piece of paper.

Will thinks about taking their car, a dated blue sedan as neglected as the rest of the house, but decides against it. The paper told him it was Saturday, which meant they probably wouldn't be leaving the house and thus wouldn't notice the debit card or the money being gone, but the car would give him away immediately. Another memory hits him, of being in this house. Staying up in the room they'd stowed him in because he could feel how unwanted and disliked he was.

They wouldn't notice he was gone for a while. Maybe all day.

Strange that it hurts, a little. He didn't even particularly remember them or like them, but rejection never gets any easier. And having strangers hate him just because he was different had never gotten any easier for him. It doesn't matter. They don't matter. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Graham. Focus.

He hefts the duffel bag on to his shoulder and leaves out the back door. The sun is still barely up, looming just at the tree line. He walks for several blocks until he spots an old Ford parked at the curb which he quickly hotwires. Reaching the pedals is a problem, briefly, before he digs the books out of his bag and uses them to drive. He won't need them for long, just until he can reach downtown.

This is where things could potentially go wrong. Will has a rough idea in his head about how he's going to get out of the country, but that's going to depend on what obstacles he encounters as he goes. This next stop has the potential to make or break him. But it's not going to. This is going to work. It has to work.

The truck lurches to an uneasy stop in one of the seedier parts of town, near the bridge and a few blocks away from the bank where he's just stolen six hundred dollars from the Grimsleys, withdrawing it with a confidence he doesn't feel. He remembers passing this place on the school bus in the morning, a sort of camp where the homeless tended to gather. All he needs is an adult who can convincingly pass as his parent that can buy him a ticket and send him off on his way.

Will's never been more grateful for how lax the laws used to be than he is now. He doubts they'll even ask for much ID.

After a pause, Will digs the gun out of the duffel bag and tucks it in the front of his pants. Better safe than sorry. Then he exits the truck - leaving it running and hoping that nobody steals it (for the second time) this early in the morning. He's already got a vague idea of who he's going to ask to help him. He's seen him before, a bit haggard with a shaggy beard and hair, probably in his mid 30's. He panhandles and sometimes can be found by the docks, drinking and working for a quick buck.

He finds him easily, already awake and huddled by a small campfire. Predictably, the man greets him with a brush off. "We don't take in runaways, boy."

"Not a runaway." He man glances up, briefly, but doesn't make eye contact.

"You look like one."

Will doesn't deny it. And, technically, he supposes he is, even if it's absurd to think at his age (his real age) he's a runaway child. "I have a job for you, if you're interested." The man hunches over on himself, but he looks up again, holding Will's eyes.

"I've seen you before."

Though it's a surprise to be remembered at all, Will supposes he would have been noticed. A young omega child, unattended in a busy boatyard. "Yeah, you have. My dad works at the docks, sometimes." He shrugs, shifting his weight. From what he's seen of the man he's fairly decent, the sort who wants to do the right thing but often falls short. An alcoholic, but he has a wedding band, so he's probably got a family. Maybe a kid. Will's counting on him wanting to help him, which is why he's come up with an angle the man will find harder to say no to. "Listen, the state took me away. I just want to go live with my mom. She's in Paris for the summer, and my dad... she thought I'd be okay with him."

It isn't the worst lie he's told, and he can see the man thinking about it. If nothing else the man does believe him.

"I can pay you. It's not a lot, but she left me some money when she dropped me off." He pauses, allowing tears to build up in his eyes. "I just want my mom, okay?"

After a long silence, the man nods. "What do you need me to do, kid?"

"Just pretend you're my dad. Buy me a ticket at the airport. That's it. I'll give you $100 and buy you a new outfit. Shoes, too." Appeal to his need, to his sense of right and wrong. "Please. My foster dad... he's an alpha. And he scares me." Will knows what he looks like now, eyes big and beseeching. Distressed.

The homeless man might be a beta, but an omega in trouble is something that's hard to resist, especially a child.

"Okay, I'll help you." He stands, brushing off his knees before holding a hand out. "My name is Jim. Yours?"

"Will." He wouldn't have given his real name, but he'll need to know it at the airport. "Let's go."