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Nothing Without You

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Death.

What a concept.

Death is a foreign, unknowable thing. Humans try to understand death. Try to reason with it, try to make sense of it, try and try to know what happens when death occurs. Death always leaves survivors, those who it didn't take. Those left, after Death has come and gone, are left with the knowledge that someday it will return for them too. Death claims all at one point or another. Yet it's the most foreign concept the mind has ever invented. One day here, the next gone. Trying to understand, to reason, to feel, to know, is impossible for the human mind. Death came, one way or another, by the hand of another or by nature itself. Death comes and it takes. And what it leaves behind is a shell, a hole where life once filled. 

It was raining, the world grey and gloomy as though it knew. It must know something. Death comes for everything and everyone. Maybe the world knew about this death too. There weren't many people at the funeral; one or two coworkers, an acquaintance or two, and a son who wasn't really a son at all. He was as much a son as the man in the coffin was a father. It rained, but he didn't use an umbrella. The rain beat down on his hair, on his clothes, on the unrepentant ground. It tried to wash everything away, and one day it would. One day, everything would be water once again, everything would be claimed once more. He watched as the wooden coffin was lowered into the dirt. He watched as the ground claimed the wood grown from its depths once more. He watched as wires lowered, he watched as rain splattered on the surface. He watched. The clouds wept for a tragedy they didn't understand. But he did not weep. He only watched. 

One by one, the others filtered away, with pats on shoulders and gruff goodbyes. Death claimed another and he watched them pull away.

He stood there, at the edge of the pit as wet dirt was poured over the coffin, as the ground closed once more around that which it gave. 

Will watched, his hands in his drenched pants pockets of the suits he hated wearing as the ground claimed his father once more. It had been a hard battle, as all were against Death. Some went quick, some went slow. Some went painlessly, and some went with the pain tearing them apart on the insides. Some knew who they were when Death came, and some didn't know that their last enemy was coming at all. Life was a fight, life was hard and terrifying and fulfilling and monumentally insane. And they still lived it, until Death came for them. 

He didn't know what emotions he was feeling as he stared into the ground. He could see the dirt, he could see the wood, he could see the sorrow in the faces around him as they filtered away one by one. He could feel their emotions as if they were his own, but they weren't. In fact, he wasn't certain he had any emotions at the moment. He just felt numb. 

Will had taken care of his father as Death crept toward him. His father had fixed boats up and down the length of the Mississippi, everywhere from Michigan to Louisiana. It was a poor job at some points. Some shipping yards weren't well maintained, and some of the boats were old. Asbestos wreaked havoc on the body. That, coupled with little access to health care, had sent Wills father to the grave. Cancer was a terrible foe and that was the fight his father had lost. 

The rain beat down, echoing off of his suit jacket, beating on his head and plastering his hair against his scalp. On days like this, his shoulder hurt. Reminders of the days he had spent as a cop, the day he was stabbed. He lifted his head to the grey sky, letting rain batter his cheeks, his forehead, his eyes, his nose, his chin. The rain would pass, the days would continue moving by. And he would move with them. He would be there through storms and Death and days until the day Death returned for him, to claim him once more. 

Life and Death were lovers, sending gifts between them. But sometimes, they would give those gifts a gift of their own. It wasn't that he believed in God, or that he didn't believe in God. It was that he had never truly thought about what occurred between Life and Death and beyond Death. But those cruel deities had given them something else to manage the in-between. Souls, and those who occupied the other half. His father had never found or foraged a soulmate, the only person he truly left behind was Will, his son. Will could understand others, he could live in their shoes as if they were his own, but he was separate from them. Always separate. He kept himself separate. Even with his father, he had learned that keeping a distance was the most advantageous thing he could do. He had followed his father across the country, his father worked and he went to school. And then they were apart. His father worked and he went to school. And then he returned to the first place he could call home, he tried to save lives to beat back the darkness within, the capability of Death he held in his hands. Death tried to come for him, but it missed, leaving him with a reminder always. And then Death was ready to visit him once more, but it wasn't him Death came for. He watched as Death slowly collected pieces of his father, and pulled him into the grave. 

His father never found a soulmate. He thought he wouldn't either.


Life is filled with choices, choices that could mean the difference between continuing to live or falling into the clutches of Death. He knew those choices exist, he had been faced with one himself. How terrifying it was to see Death so intimately, and yet he was never terrified. He was never afraid. Mostly because Death had yet to come for him. But it was close. One wrong move and he would embrace an alternate eternity. He believed in God just as he believed in the Devil. He wasn't going to meet them yet. 

His parents died when he was young, leaving him with his sister in his care. Disease didn't care who it took, it didn't care who it left. It took his parents, they died only a few days apart from each other. First his mother, and then his father. It left him with his sister, seemingly alone in a wide, empty world. He did his best, to take care of them both, but he was still a child himself. No matter how much of a father he tried to be to his sister, he wasn't. Disease didn't care how rich or poor someone was, it didn't care that they lived in a castle. It didn't care. Just as others didn't care. When Mischa's death came, Hannibal was faced with a choice. Join her and their parents in Death, or fight to live. Fight to stay amongst the right. Fight to continue fighting.

He chose life. 

He chose to live and to fight and find a life worthy of him to live. 

That life was Death. He had become intimately acquainted with Death. Death was his bedfellow. His uncle took him in when he was 16, three years after the death of his parents and one year after the death of Mischa. He wasn't with his aunt and uncle long, only long enough to find more family and to find the one who took the last of his immediate family away. He never lied when he said it was another person who killed Mischa. She died at the hands of a man who stumbled upon Castle Lecter, expecting to find it empty and abandoned. It wasn't abandoned, but after Mischa's death, it might as well have been. He left the man in the care of another, making his life hers to give or take as she pleased. He hoped it would be the latter.

He and Death stayed acquainted as it claimed his aunt and uncle. At 18, he left what little was left of his family, and began to search out Death on his own. He could manufacture it with his own hands and he began to. Life had given him art, to see, to understand, to copy. And he made art of Death. Whatever game Life and Death were playing, he was playing too. He laid his art at the feet of Death, hurrying along the gifts Life had given. He gave Life a gift as well, making that which he took into the art it provided. The world was beautiful, harsh and unyielding, but beautiful. He wanted to contribute to that beauty.

His life had been forever changed when he chose to keep living it. His tastes were refined, expanded. Life and Death provided him with art and nourishment, and in return, he gave his own art. His own contribution to the harsh beauty around him.  

The beauty of Life came in various forms. Before his parents had died, they had been soulmates. Perhaps that's why father followed his mother into the grave so willingly. To live without the other half of one's soul was not living at all. 

He believed in God, he believed in the divine beauty of God's work and wrath, but he never believed that God had forged his soul in two, as he had with so many others. Pairs came together, completing the whole. He had thought his soul stood on its own, his darkness stood on its own. Like Life and Death, darkness and light were counterparts, and he stood with one foot in each. It was as unlikely that someone straddled the two worlds the way he did. He stood in moral ambiguity, seeing both darkness and light, seeing the best and worst in himself, and he embraced both. He wasn't dark and he wasn't light. He wasn't Life and he wasn't Death.

But he had the makings of all of it within himself.