Jack Crawford is the first agent on the scene.
He had expected the blood. The broken glass. The signs of a difficult struggle.
What he hadn’t expected was to find only a single corpse waiting for him when he arrived at Hannibal Lecter’s hidden little home by the sea.
Francis Dolarhyde lays torn and bloodied in the center of the little courtyard that stands between the back of the house and the cliff’s edge. Blood pooled around him like great terrible wings spread in flight. It only holds his attention for a moment before he continues his search for who he’s really interested in finding now that he knows the Dragon is dead.
“WILL! WILL CAN YOU HEAR ME?” he yells into the night, hoping the other man is still close by. The pool of blood surrounding Dolarhyde is already looking as though it’s frozen solid to the ground. It’s been a particularly cold night, and the wind off the ocean is amplifying its effects. Meaning he has no idea how long it’s been since Dolarhyde was killed. It could have been twenty minutes, or two hours ago for all he knows without more information from the forensics team.
Quick footsteps alert Jack of the other agents approaching from all sides. “Fan out! I want people searching the woods and the beaches nearby. And get an ambulance here, now. Both Graham and Lecter are likely injured and will require medical attention when we find them!” he orders as he follows thick trails of blood as well as a few bloodied shoe prints to the edge of the cliff. He looks down, shining a flashlight for a little extra illumination along with that provided by the slowly setting full moon. There’s no sign of any bodies in the water below, or on the rocks along the foot of the cliff that are peeking up from the water as the tide moves out. So that’s something at least.
“Sir, the dash-cam of the squad car was left recording this whole time,” an agent says as they approach from inside the house with cautious steps, trying not to disturb the scene of broken glass and bloody carpet.
“And?” Jack glances back at him, waiting for the agent to elaborate on the importance of that information.
“We’re pulling the footage now. The car had been positioned to get a full view of the house on camera. If they left on foot we’ll have an idea as to which way they went at the very least.” The agent looks nervous, knowing the alternative to leaving would be falling from the cliff into the freezing water below. This time of year that’s most definitely a death sentence. And with blood loss and possibly severe injuries on top of the freezing cold? A man wouldn’t stand a chance.
Jack nods his understanding and holsters his gun at last as he looks again at the blood that’s covering the ground. Streaks and pools of it cover the spacious courtyard. More than could have come from Dolarhyde alone if he had to guess. He definitely injured Will and Hannibal in their struggle. The question is, was it fatal for them as well, or only Dolarhyde?
Hannibal gasps for breath as he finally feels sand beneath his feet.
The water is so bitterly cold that he can barely feel his own body, let alone Will’s where he drags it with him through the churning waves of stinging saltwater.
Will went unconscious as they feel from the cliff. Maybe even before that. Hannibal isn’t quite sure. What he is sure of, is that the nearest house is still half a mile down the beach from where they’ve come ashore. And FBI agents will be arriving at his beach-side home sooner than later most likely, leaving no time to waste.
With a pained hiss, he pulls Will’s prone form onto the shore with him. Laying him out in the frigid night air a moment before mustering what strength he can in his sluggishly numb extremities and hauling him up into a carry with much more difficulty than he cares to admit to himself. Then, he walks, Will’s head tucked under his chin in a way that lets the blood still flowing from his mouth run down and be absorbed by their clothes. Keeping him from choking on it.
The waterfront homes in the area are empty along this particular stretch of the Chesapeake this time of year. It is both a boon and a curse upon their fortunes, as the odds of them getting away are contingent on what he finds in the nearest dwelling.
Turning his head, Hannibal can see the cliff that his old summer home sits upon. Sees the faint light that comes from the courtyard to cast out into the dark bluish-black of the night. The breeze picks up, sending an uncontrollable shiver through him, and he turns away to continue the difficult trudge through the sand. Will is heavy in his arms. Breathing shallowly as he too shivers almost violently from the harsh bite of winter, it’s effects no doubt amplified by blood loss.
The cottage they come to is smaller than his own. Tucked back into trees that block it from the view of his own dwelling less than a mile away. There are wooden lounge chairs set out in the back yard where it faces the water, and he rests Will on his side on one before searching for a key or some other means of entering the dwelling with as little disturbance to their surroundings as possible. He would prefer not to break anything if at all possible. Too likely to draw attention if any agents wander through searching for them.
The moonlight makes his search easier than expected, as it gleams off the shiny metal of a hidden key tucked under the rocking chair he tips over by the front door. Taking care, he rips off a piece of cloth from his ruined shirt and uses it to take the key and unlock the door.
To his surprise, the electricity is on when he tries the light switch. He grabs Will from the cold of the outside and lays him down on the sheet-covered couch before he moves to turn on just enough lights to see by without making it obvious someone is in the home to any passersby. \
He finds the door to the furnace, thankful it’s a simple electric one with a power switch. He gets that running before going to retrieve Will from where he set him on the couch.
They’re both hypothermic. Soaked to the bone with their clothes frozen to their skin in places thanks to the harsh bite of the ocean breeze. And worse yet, they’re both still bleeding sluggish from their wounds.
So, Hannibal does the rational thing to help them both warm up quickly. He finds towels and what clean clothes he can that might fit either of them. Once they’re gathered, and with increasing difficulty, he picks Will up once again and sets him in the tub before turning on the shower as hot as it will go.
Will doesn’t so much as flinch at the feel of the almost scalding spray hitting him. Body still shaking from the cold in his unconscious state. Hannibal watches him a moment before kicking off his shoes and picking him up just enough to climb into the tub behind him.
It’s uncomfortable at best. Too small a space for two men of their size to really fit together. But discomfort is worth it as the warmth quickly starts to seep into both of their extremities. It burns fiercely as it does so. Nerves flaring back to life where they had been shut down from the cold in the on-setting hypothermia.
Hannibal finds he somewhat likes the sensation. It distracts him ever so slightly from the pain in his side where the bullet went clean through him. And from his worries for Will, whom he now holds a cloth to the face of to staunch the bleeding where he had been stabbed just below his right eye. The blade clearly went in at an angle. Going through the bones and down to come out the roof of his mouth.
They stay in the all-consuming warmth of the water until Will’s shivering completely stops and the room fills with so much steam that breathing becomes almost difficult.
That’s when Hannibal finally reaches out and shuts off the spray, much to the protest of his aching body. He wants more than anything to simply close his eyes and join Will in unconsciousness. But that would be foolish. And likely deadly to one, if not both, of them.
He leaves Will in the tub, curled on his side with his head propped on the edge, and drags himself out onto the cool tiled floor. His capability for focus and rational thought is dwindling. He knows he needs to act quickly. They’ve both lost far too much blood and need more than just a few cloths pressed to the wounds to stop the flow.
There’s a sewing kit in the small linen closet next to the bathroom door. That along with the first aid kit from under the sink provide him just enough supplies for what he needs.
He strips Will of his sodden clothes first. Assessing the wound on his shoulder as well as the one in his mouth. He doesn’t have the tools needed to close that one. But he has enough gauze to pack the side of Will’s mouth for now. He does so and then stitches his cheek quickly and efficiently before moving on to his shoulder.
When he’s done he does the same with himself. The entrance wound on his back is clearly one he can’t stitch himself, the angle is just too difficult even for someone uninjured to attempt, but the exit wound on his abdomen is one he can close himself. He does his best to apply a makeshift pressure bandage to his back before wrapping an ace bandage around his waist tightly. When Will wakes later he can talk him through stitching the wound on his back, but for now, the bandage will have to do.
Glancing down at Will from his place seated on the edge of the tub, Hannibal wonders if he will try to kill him upon waking. If he’ll try to turn him over to Jack Crawford like he’s planned to in the past. Based on how the evening turned, he doesn’t see that as likely. Not after the way Will looked at him. Held him close as they both stood soaked in blood in the brilliant moonlight.
He doesn’t dwell on that train of thought long. His body feels heavy with exhaustion. So he gets changed into a dry shirt and a pair of slacks he found before hauling Will out onto a towel on the bathroom floor. He would rather take him into one of the bedrooms, give him a more comfortable place to rest, but it’s just too difficult to move him any further. So he gets Will dried off as best he can before getting him into a soft t-shit and worn jeans that are a hair too big for him.
Feeling the last of his energy leaving him quickly, Hannibal drags himself over to the linen closet once more, pulls out a thick blanket he finds there, and drags it back over to Will. He shows no sign of waking any time soon, so he might as well try to make him comfortable here. If not for Will’s take then his own.
Hannibal does his best to get Will covered in the heavy duvet, his head resting on a towel as a makeshift pillow.
With a small smile at what he’s managed to accomplish despite his own injuries dragging him down, he collapses beside Will a moment later, one hand still holding the blanket as the world goes dark and unconsciousness takes him.