Jack Crawford called at three in the morning. Buster climbing on top of Will to get to his phone woke up the sleeping man, who gently pushed the dog off and answered the phone. He didn’t say anything, just stared into space with the phone against his ear, absentmindedly stroking Buster’s fur. Buster yawned and settled on Will’s lap.
“Will?” Jack asked on the phone.
“Yeah?” Will hummed, considering hanging up. Buster rolled over for a belly rub. Will hummed.
“Did I wake you?” Jack questioned.
“No, no, of course not,” Will responded, his weariness making his sarcasm more apparent. “It’s only, what, three? Of course, I was up. Why wouldn’t I be up?”
“I get it, Will,” Jack grumbled. “I don’t want to be awake, either.”
“There’s something we have in common.”
Jack’s silence was judgemental. Buster, however, was not judgemental, only content and licking Will’s hand, so Will ignored Jack and focused on his dog. Buster appreciated it more than Jack ever had.
“There’s been a murder, Will,” Jack broke the silence.
“Oh no,” Will replied, voice monotone. “I thought you were calling to ask for a cup of sugar. Huh, Buster?”
Buster lapped at Will fingers. Will smiled at him. Jack’s sigh was heavy and put-upon, but Will didn’t feel sorry. Not at three o’clock in the morning.
“Will, please. I’d like you to come to the scene and tell me what you think,” Jack explained, sounding grumpy. Will thought it was a bit unfair that Jack got to be upset.
“What I think?” Will repeated. Jack gave an short grunt of affirmation. Will stated, tired and sarcastic, “I think the victim is probably dead.”
“Will Graham, I swear-”
“Shit, don’t. It’ll ruin my fucking fragile self-esteem.”
“Will, I’m picking you up in ten minutes and you better be awake.”
“No worries, you woke me up.”
Jack hung up. Will considered his phone, thought about the fact that he was in underwear, then looked at Buster. Buster looked up at him, panting and smiling a dog smile that made Will want to smother him in affection. It was three in the morning, so Will began smothering the dog with affection. Buster and Will were both pleased with this decision.
It was a half an hour after Jack’s call when Will’s door opened. Will and Buster were both half asleep, but Buster perked up at the sound. Will rolled over to hug a pillow when Buster jumped off the bed and waddled into the other room. Distantly, Will heard the floor squeak under someone’s weight. The dogs’ nails clicked on the floor, there was a dull thump as one of their tails hit the wall, and Will decided he didn’t care. As long as he got to stay in bed, being murdered or robbed was fine with him.
“Will?” a voice that sounded vaguely like Hannibal Lecter spoke up from the doorway.
“Go ‘way, ‘Nibal,” Will grumbled, his face buried in the pillow.
“Jack sent me with a key,” Hannibal explained, coming closer if the click of his shoes was any indication. “He said that you’d probably be asleep.”
“M’wake,” Will slurred, Hannibal’s gentle hands rolling him onto his back. “Why’d you do that?”
“Have you been drinking?” Hannibal asked, voice quiet.
“Only a bit, a few hours ‘go,” Will responded, throwing his arm over his eyes to block out the minimal light from the doorway. It was true. He’d started drinking at midnight, finished at one or sometime after when he passed out in bed. It hadn’t been that much, only a bottle or so.
“Are you feeling sick?” Hannibal asked.
“I’d feel more sick if Jack brought some dead bodies to my house,” Will replied.
“He didn’t,” Hannibal offered. “If it’s any consolation.”
“T’is,” Will hummed.
He rolled back into his pillow. He couldn’t see Hannibal, but he could feel the psychiatrist’s amusement. The bed dipped as Hannibal sat on the edge, carefully not close enough to touch.
“Jack wants you at a crime scene,” Hannibal commented, his tone vaguely uninterested.
“Wow, what a shock,” Will grumbled, rubbing his face on the pillow. “I had no idea. Tell me more.”
Hannibal, to Will’s surprise, laughed. Will looked at him over his shoulder. He sat, primly, on the edge of Will’s bed with his legs crossed. The dogs were scattered on the floor, Winston sitting beside the bed with his chin on the bed. His eyes watched Hannibal closely. Will reached over and patted his head.
“How many dogs do you have, exactly?” Hannibal asked, observing Winston.
“Not enough,” Will answered.
“I counted seven.”
Will pulled his hand away and buried his face into the pillow again.
“I’m not leaving,” he stated.
“I noticed,” Hannibal replied. “What do you want me to tell Jack?”
“Tell him I faked my own death and eloped to Spain,” Will suggested, shrugging one shoulder.
“Oh? Who did you elope with?” Hannibal hummed, amused.
“My secret lover,” Will grunted, tightening his hold on the pillow. “Alexander the Third.”
“Alexander the Third? Indeed? What a catch.”
Will snorted into his pillow. A weight settled on top of him, a quick glance confirming that it was Winston. Will didn’t move him or care.
“Are you sure Jack will believe that?” Hannibal asked, disgustingly reasonable.
“Fine,” Will grumbled, rolling onto his back. Winston resettled on his stomach. “Tell him I eloped with my secret lover, who’s so secret that I don’t even know their name. I’ll leave later, so that it’s credible.”
“You can’t stop me. I love my secret lover. Thus, the name.”
“The crime scene can probably wait until you’re a bit more awake,” Hannibal suggested. “I’ll tell Jack that my car broke down, we’ll be there at noon.”
“I don’t wanna go,” Will huffed, pulling the pillow onto his face. “Elope with me. We can go to Spain.”
“I have standards, Dear Will,” Hannibal responded, gentle still, some emotion in his tone that Will couldn’t quite identify. “It’s Italy, or nothing.”
“Italy’s fine,” Will said. “Long as I don’t have to go to work.”
“It seems like quite a jump, work or eloping,” Hannibal noted, slightly distracted.
“Eloping or dying,” Will corrected. “Those’re the only excuses Jack’d ever accept.”
“I see,” Hannibal responded. “Would you really be so fine with eloping with me?”
“S’fine,” Will hummed. “You’re nice. Nice voice. Gotta nice body, too. I can dig it.”
“Are you awake, Will?”
“Yeah, ‘course. Why…”
Will fell asleep. Hannibal muted his own phone, then Will’s. It wasn’t ignoring Jack’s calls if he didn’t hear them.
Jack and Hannibal stood side by side, observing the dead body in Hannibal's car. Hannibal himself had been with Jack all morning, including picking Jack up in this car since Jack’s car was in the shop. It very obviously couldn't have been him. He hadn't left Jack's sight.
The body had all of its skin removed, said skin sitting on the dashboard. Hannibal looked pretty upset, more so that his car was ruined than anything else. Jack made a few calls, then called Will.
“Eeyyy,” Will answered. Jack could almost smell the alcohol. “What up?”
“Will, it’s nine,” Jack stated.
There was silence for a moment, before Will muttered, “AM or PM?”
“Cool, that explains all these empty bottles,” Will laughed.
“Will, there's been a murder,” Jack told him, impatient as ever. “You can't be drunk. I need you to sober up so you can help-”
“I can't help, Mister,” Will giggled. “M’elopin’. M’already in Spain or whatever.”
“Will, you aren't dating anyone,” Jack argued, ignoring Hannibal's look of confusion and amusement.
“You don’ know that!” Will huffed. “I could be datin’ someone secretly.”
“You are acting like a child.”
Jack handed his phone to Hannibal, banging his head on the brick wall surrounding the parking lot. Hannibal pressed the phone to his ear.
“Good morning,” he greeted.
“Nibal! I was jus’ thinkin’ ‘bout you!” Will laughed. “Whatchu doin’?”
“There's a dead body in my car,” Hannibal replied.
“Why is there a dead body in your car, honey?”
Hannibal made a mental note to buy Will more whiskey. He had to stifle his laughter when Jack glared at him.
“That’s what Agent Crawford would like you to find out,” Hannibal explained, ignoring Jack’s pointed look. “How long have you been up?”
“Yesterday,” Will replied, vaguely. “Anyway, ‘Nibal, I was thinkin’.”
“My dogs. I don’t think I have enough. So, I was drivin’ ‘round yesterday, when I saw a dog.”
“Did you pick up another stray?”
“No! No, I picked up a dog. Han, there’s a difference. Anyway, it’s really cute, but it keeps hangin’ on my shirt.”
“Are you sure it’s a dog?”
Will was silent for a long time. Hannibal was tempted to see if he’d hung up, when Will let out a small grunt.
“You’re right!” he exclaimed. “This is a raccoon!”
This time, Hannibal laughed out loud, Jack’s glare ignored.
Alana had been at Hannibal’s office, mostly because she’d had a long day and he kept beer in the back, when Jack called the psychiatrist. It was a short, streamlined conversation that was just Jack complaining about Will for five minutes so Hannibal would go see why Will wasn’t answering his phone. Since Hannibal looked more amused than concerned, Alana assumed this was a frequent occurrence.
“Will has been drinking more often, as of late,” Hannibal told her, setting his phone aside. “Agent Crawford has been doing his best to avoid dealing with him in this state. He’s hard to deal with, or so Jack says.”
“We should check on him,” Alana stated, only a bit tipsy and wanting to steal Will’s quality beer, which he kept in his home even though he didn’t even like beer.
So, Hannibal driving, they arrived at Will’s small house, both somewhat surprised to see seemingly every light in the house on. They approached the door slowly, but it was thrown open before they got to it. Will’s dogs swarmed out, only glancing Hannibal and Alana’s way before dashing off. Will stumbled out behind them, clad in only his underwear, and seemed uncomfortably comfortable in the cold, fall air.
“Good evening, Will,” Hannibal greeted pleasantly.
“Heya, when did you guys get here?” Will hummed, swaying slightly. Hannibal could smell the whiskey on his breath, sparing a brief moment to consider that Will spent his money on quality liquor instead of food or clothes before Will sat down heavily on the chair beside his door.
“How much have you been drinking?” Alana questioned.
“A li’l bit,” Will giggled, which meant he’d drank at least two bottles. “I keep gettin’ calls from Jack, but I don’ know where my phone went.”
“Is it in your pocket?” Alana suggested, with full, tipsy logic.
“It might be,” Will admitted, then looked a bit downcast. “I’m not wearin’ pants!”
“We noticed,” Hannibal stated.
“Nice legs, Bud,” Alana agreed.
“Thanks,” Will murmured, yawning. “I’ve got beer in my fridge.”
“Cool, I’m leaving.”
Alana left them alone. Will didn’t seem to notice, instead choosing to stare out into the distance. Hannibal considered how to broach any subjects with him, but Will began to speak.
“‘Nibal, I think Jack might kill me,” Will sighed, running a hand through his curls.
“Neither I nor Alana would allow that to happen, Will,” Hannibal admitted, deciding honesty would be best, especially if Will wouldn’t remember most of it.
“Yeah, but would I allow that?” Will questioned, swaying in his seat. “‘Nibal, le’s go to Italy. It’ll be fun. The’ll be beer. An’ whiskey. An’ wine. ‘L be a party, Nibal. Le’s go.”
Will had drank, at the very least, eight bottles. He might be dying.
“Will, I would love to go to Italy with you,” Hannibal offered, gently helping Will to his feet. “After you drink some water and eat something.”
“I don’ wanna,” Will whined, looping his arms around Hannibal’s neck and nuzzling his shoulder. Hannibal was suddenly very aware of Will’s state of undress, his curls, and his very convincing eyes. “Don’ you wanna elope, ‘Nibal?”
“There is very little that would make me happier than to steal you away from Jack and sweep you away with me to Italy to have a lovely wedding in the countryside followed by a small chateau in the alps where we can have a large field and raise your dogs,” Hannibal stated.
“Soun’s great,” Will agreed, smiling openly.
“I don’t think you’ll agree when you’re sober,” Hannibal added.
“I hate it when you’re right,” Will grumbled, sighing heavily. He leaned up and pecked the very corner of Hannibal’s lips, then rested all of his weight on Hannibal. “Carry me to bed, Babe.”
Hannibal wondered, as he carried Will to bed, how well received a stronger alcohol would be.
It was lightly raining when Hannibal and Jack arrived at Will’s house. It was also almost midnight, but that didn't seem to matter very much to Jack. Hannibal was just interested in how Will would react.
Before they even reached the door, it opened and Will stumbled out amongst his dogs. He looked at them, alcohol saturating his very being, then sighed. Hannibal almost laughed out loud.
“S’midnight, Jack,” Will whined, flipping down on the chair beside his door. “I wanna sleep.”
“Will, you have a job-”
“God, no, really?”
“I'm not going through this again.”
Jack left to Will's kitchen, either to drink all the whiskey or get rid of it. Will giggled, tugging on Hannibal's sleeve.
“How many motels accept pets?” he asked.
When asked later, by an angry Jack, Hannibal would lie and say that a bear had attacked. He'd had to get Will and all of his dogs into his car and down the freeway, Will giggling all the while, to escape the bear.
The motel had been cheap. Will had collapsed on one of the beds, dragging Hannibal and seven dogs with him, and fallen asleep in seconds. Hannibal’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He ignored it.
Will wasn’t drunk. Not even a little bit. Instead, he was intoxicated by pure exhaustion. His eyes were barely open, he swayed on his feet, and he was holding Winston. Jack looked about ready to murder someone, Hannibal thought that was a bit funny, Will was exhausted, and Winston looked really happy. The dog’s tail whipped back and forth, its tongue lapping Will’s scruffy face. Will was too used to it to notice.
“Hiya,” he greeted. “Is someone dead?”
“You will be, if you don’t sleep, soon,” Hannibal commented, before Jack could say anything. “When was the last time you slept, Will?”
“Nineteen forty-five,” Will responded.
“Oh my god,” Jack whispered. “This is the profiler I trust.”
“William, why don’t you put down the dog?” Hannibal suggested.
“I love him,” Will whined, burying his face in Winston’s fur. Winston didn’t mind, but Buster, at Will’s feet, seemed to be a bit jealous.
“Oh my god,” Jack repeated.
“Winston, you’re a good boy,” Will murmured.
Winston’s tail whipped back and forth a bit faster. Hannibal had no idea what was going on, anymore, but he supported every second of it.
“Why aren’t you sleeping?” Hannibal asked.
“I don’t remember,” Will grumbled, narrowing his eyes at the ceiling. “I’m gonna blame Jack.”
Jack didn’t even say anything. He just left. Behind them, Hannibal heard the sound of Jack’s engine turn on, the crunch of tires over asphalt, and then silence. Jack had actually left. It amused Hannibal more than it probably should have.
“Why’re you here?” Will yawned, sleepily setting Winston down on the floor.
“A body was discovered,” Hannibal explained, watching as Will approached him slowly.
“Oh no.” Will didn’t sound even remotely upset. He draped himself on to Hannibal, clinging to his neck.
“Indeed. It was discovered in my living room,” Hannibal continued, allowing Will to do whatever he wanted.
“Stop murderin’ folks, Hannibal,” Will huffed.
He fell asleep leaning against Hannibal. Hannibal wondered which was better, drunk Will or exhausted Will, then dragged him to his bedroom.
The crime scene made Will’s stomach turn sickeningly. He wobbled a bti on his feet, frown deepening as he considered the body parts and blood that littered the living room. According to Jack, the victim was a little old lady who owned four puppies and donated her time to the city to clean up litter on weekends. Will felt disgusted.
“What do you think?” Jack questioned, voice a tired rumble.
“I’ll take the dogs,” Will replied, kneeling down to meet said dogs. They whimpered and looked scared.
“About the murderer, Will,” Jack grumbled.
“Probably a dick,” Will responded, focusing on the dogs in hopes it would make him feel better. It helped only the tiniest bit.
“That’s all?” Jack muttered.
“I don’t want to be here, Jack.”
“Neither do I. It’s six in the goddamn morning.”
“No, Jack. I can’t be here.”
Jack recoiled, hesitated for a moment, then shooed him off. Will gathered the dogs, miraculously blood and human-body-parts free, into his arms, then hurried outside. He set them in his car, petting them absentmindedly as he hit his forehead against the roof of his car. He heard Hannibal before he saw him.
“Will? Are you alright?”
“It’s disgusting,” Will growled. “Murdering an innocent, defenseless old woman like that. It felt like he was trying to emulate the Chesapeake Ripper, make a message or an art piece out of gore, but all it was was sickening.”
“I see,” Hannibal hummed, thoughtful. “Can you catch him?”
“I don’t want to,” Will grumbled, straightening suddenly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jack approaching them quickly. Right as he entered hearing range, Will put his hand on Hannibal’s shoulder. “Let’s elope, Hannibal.”
Jack froze. Hannibal stiffened, though it seemed to be out of barely-contained laughter more than surprise. He smiled.
“Italy?” he offered.
“A chateau in the alps,” Will agreed, sliding his hand down Hannibal’s arm to take his hand. “Plenty of room for dogs, kids.”
“Tempting,” Hannibal purred, pulling Will’s hands up to his mouth. He murmured into the skin, “Who will be invited?”
“Only us,” Will claimed, drawing Hannibal closer with an arm around the waist. “Is anyone else necessary?”
Jack sighed, finally overcoming his shock. Will and Hannibal turned to him with twin glares.
“Do you mind?” Will asked haughtily. “I’m proposing, Jack.”
“Terribly impolite,” Hannibal tutted.
“He wasn’t invited in the first place, but he’s officially uninvited,” Will huffed.
There was a brief moment of silence, before Will broke it by snorting. He laughed, burying his face in Hannibal’s shoulder to stifle it. Jack sighed, rubbing his face wearily. Beverly, having just arrived, whistled, but Will only laughed harder.
“I’m so tired,” he wheezed, pulling away from Hannibal. “I’m gonna go home.”
“Will,” Jack argued.
“If you’re so tired, I’ll drive you,” Hannibal offered, as though Jack hadn’t said anything.
“Dr. Lecter!” Jacked exclaimed.
“Goodbye, Jack,” Will huffed, his faux annoyed tone ruined by his grin. “The next time you’ll see me, I’ll be a taken man.”
Will and Hannibal left. Unfortunately, in Hannibal’s opinion, Will fell asleep before he could offer him an elope, for real.