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The Pines

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After hours of suspiciously quipless, good-natured conversation, Will swallows another hydrocodone he takes from his jacket pocket and interrupts what may as well have been silence.

“So. Finland.”

“In a cabin tucked between the inland towns in a country full of lakes." Hannibal sighs out. "Perfect for fishing. I have enough money to carry us through the foreseeable future, but fish markets are consistent income and I know – what?” He pauses his rattling off at the sight of Will’s curious smile.

“I assumed you’d planned your escape for you, but you had me in mind?” He carefully watches Hannibal for any telling microexpressions. “Or are you just selling me on it?”

“Which story would you prefer? That I planned our joint escape or that I have made the last minute decision to take you along?”

“I think you planned our leaving together,” Will accuses. 

“And you prefer that story? That I created a future for us?”

Knowing that he can not let himself fall so gracefully into Hannibal’s flirtation, Will pivots. “So, do we run after this? Is it just this?” He gestures ahead of them.

“With this plan, they lose us. They’ll be looking in countries with no extradition treaties or with high population densities, where we speak the language, with less bureaucratic organization. But they can’t imagine us looking for freedom in the vast wild.”

“It’d be too obvious.” Will smiles. It’s such an antique concept that is harder and harder to pull off: disappearing by simply hiding far away. “So we’ll be two men living in a secluded cabin in Northeastern Europe.”

Hannibal responds in a low but rosey hum, “we will never be found.”

Their energy for the remaining stretch of the trip borders on manic, both masking their thrill with electric back-and-forths. Through hours of flights and tense, thinly veiled flirtatious resentment for each other, they both also do the difficult work of hiding all real battle scars, even swallowing the pain of walking on perhaps shattered ankles from their fall. Luckily, their bags are nearly empty save their documents and medical gauze.

 




The cabin is nicer than Will had pictured. Instead of the gray, creaking, and unsealed wood he associates with the word “rustic,” there are light pine walls sealed cleanly together. There is no stain or varnish on the wood and some of its knots jut out, giving the cabin a youthful, raw, and bright feeling. Still, it’s clear that it was made by nearly expert hands. Will smiles at his mental image of the polished and wealthy city man sawing and hammering for weeks to create a future getaway cabin. It actually makes some level of sense, though.

 

The walls will hold in heat pretty well, giving no hint of the outside wind once they shut the door behind them. There’s a small fireplace in the corner and slim stairs to a lofted area tight to the ceiling, a potential storage space.

“I built this place years ago. Before we met.”

“From scratch?” Will’s idea of a Baltic lumberjack hiding in a Scandinavian forest is thoroughly disconnected from his view of the man in front of him.

“Something funny?” Hannibal unconsciously puffs out his chest to remind Will he’s not always tied up in literature and art history. “I admit I purchased the wood. I’m not a mountain man.” He quirks his face into a charming smile.

“Ah.” Will returns the smirk and continues to look around. “It shouldn’t be this difficult to picture you wielding an axe.” He mumbles mostly to himself.

“So there is a bed in that room,” Hannibal points through an open doorway to a queen sized bed, “and another right here,” he lists, pointing now to a narrow twin that might just be a cushion along the window, “and, well, this is the kitchen.” In the annexed area, there is an unplugged and empty refrigerator with transparent doors, a large stone island for meal preparations, and a gas stove. In a fittingly backwoods style, there is a wooden dining table with four wooden chairs, though nicely varnished and fixed on a dark slate floor.

When the older man hangs his coat before walking through the kitchen, Will notices a wet patch of blood is shining on his lower back.

“Oh. Hannibal, your wound reopened.”

“Ah, okay.” He immediately sits at the table and removes his shirt. “Can you fetch my supplies from the smaller bag?”

Will grabs the whole bag to bring to the table. “What… do you need?” He stares down a little helplessly at the leaking wound, also pausing at the expanse of deep blue bruising around the right side of his rib cage.

Hannibal boldly reaches around his back and presses into his own wound. “Luckily, it doesn’t need to be restitched. Just blotted and re-bandaged.” He swivels to Will with humble eyes. “Would you?”

“Oh, sure.” Will rustles through the bag to find gauze, topical antibacterial gel, and an unused rag that he promptly soaks and wrings in the sink. Instead of climbing back into the seat behind Hannibal, he stands the man up and replaces him in his chair to have a better look.

Hannibal feels vulnerable and a bit childish now, not used to being nursed to health. Usually his scars can’t be discussed with hospital staff.

Will methodically blots away his blood, making sure that the opening isn’t actively gushing. It isn’t. When he lightly applies the gel and tapes a large square of fresh gauze across the broad back in front of him, Will isn’t entirely sure why he takes his time. 



“There will be more medical supplies in the bathroom, which is attached to the bedroom.” Hannibal points carefully back out through the annex doorway. “It’s best that we stay off our feet and avoid jostling too much.”

 

In the bedroom, Hannibal robotically pulls himself to lay flat on the bed. “I want to remind you, Sam, that I gave us a proper pharmaceutical cocktail to allow us to move with minimal pain across the world. If you don’t give yourself over to these opioids and submit yourself to bed rest, you will regret it. Now is not the time for reality.” Hannibal drifts off quickly with the aid of oxymorphone.

Will acknowledges his own need for some level of sobriety while they still wear ankle braces and blood-saturated gauze, but he takes a single hydrocodone pill and climbs into bed alongside Hannibal, where they lay, skinny and ravaged and unsure they’ll open their eyes again.