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Title: To Dust and Ashes
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Room Full of Memories."
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Hannibal Lecter or Will Graham, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***His life felt as though it had turned to dust and ashes.
Why was he the one who remained alive, when those he cared for were gone?
Yes, he had managed to put Hannibal behind bars. But that was cold comfort, considering all that he had lost, the people who were now gone from his life.
There was no sense of triumph, as he'd thought he would have. He only felt empty, cold, and even more closed off from the world than he'd ever been.
Will had thought that he was starting to climb out of that self-imposed isolation he'd always put himself in; he had begun to think that maybe, just maybe, he could lead something of a normal life. But that had been before Hannibal had framed him for murder.
Spending those months in jail had pushed him down further than he had ever been before. Though he had never for one second contemplated ending his own life.
Maybe a lot of people would have sunk that low. But he had let his thirst for revenge, his need to make Hannibal pay for his crimes, drive him.
That was what had gotten him through it all.
If he hadn't felt that need to repay Hannibal for all the evil that he'd done, for all that he himself had suffered, he wouldn't be here today.
That ambition had been realized, and now he could put it all into the past and get on with his life. Though that would be a lot harder than it sounded.
He still felt lost, in some ways. He had his job back; he was working with the FBI again, though he wasn't sure that he wanted to do so. Still, he had this strange, unique ability, and if he could save lives with it, then he felt that he had a responsibility to keep at it.
If only that ability could bring him happiness, Will thought with a sigh. But he didn't think that happiness was in the cards for him.
He doubted that he could ever manage to be happy again.
His happiness had been destroyed when he had found out that one of the only two people in the world who he completely trusted had murdered the other.
Or, at least he had thought that Hannibal had murdered Abigail. He had received the shock of his life when he'd discovered that she was still alive.
And then, Hannibal had killed her again. Right in front of him.
Will knew why he'd done it. Hannibal had wanted him to suffer, and he had known that taking away the one person Will still cared for would do just that.
Hannibal had wanted to incapacitate him, to make him feel helpless. And he'd managed to do not only that, but to make Will feel, for at least a brief time, that he wanted to die as he'd laid there on the floor, bleeding out, staring at Abigail's dead body.
But he hadn't let himself feel like that for long. He had felt a need for revenge, a need to go after Hannibal and make him pay for all that he'd done.
He still felt that need. He still wanted Hannibal to pay, for the rest of his miserable life, for all the pain and suffering he'd caused to untold numbers of people.
It wasn't just him who had suffered. There were countless others.
Hannibal was evil, and Will was proud to have been the one to stop that evil from spreading in the world and causing any more pain to innocent victims.
Though his own pain hadn't stopped, and he wondered sometimes if it ever would. He doubted it. He was sure that he'd always feel the heartache of his losses.
He didn't intend to spend the rest of his life mourning what could have been. He didn't want to grow old as a bitter, lonely man, forever sighing for the life he could have had. Hannibal would win if he did that, and he wasn't going to let that bastard destroy his life.
But there were times when it felt as though everything had crumbled to dust and ashes on that night; his life had been forever altered, in all the ways that mattered.
He had known that he would never lead what people referred to as a "normal" life, but he'd hoped that he was starting to stabilize himself at that point.
Then Hannibal had ripped everything to shreds.
Will was sure that he could still taste the ashes and dust that his life had crumbled into every time he thought of Hannibal. That taste would never go away.
Whenever he thought of the other man, the worst enemy he'd ever had, his thoughts would always return to this house, to what had happened within this very room.
He would always see Hannibal slitting Abigail's throat, then throwing aside her lifeless body as though she meant nothing more to him than a rag doll. She probably hadn't, he told himself miserably. Hannibal cared about no one but himself. He wasn't capable of the finer emotions.
Hannibal had never been his friend. Not truly. He wasn't capable of love or affection. He was a serial killer, a conscienceless murderer.
If only he had known that from the beginning, somehow been able to sense what Hannibal was, then he wouldn't have been put through such utter hell.
And maybe Abigail wouldn't have died.
Will closed his eyes, sorrow coursing through him. He would never get past all that had happened. It would color the rest of his life, haunt him for all of his days.
He would always blame himself for Abigail's death. If he had only realized what Hannibal was sooner, then she could have survived. He would have been able to take her away from Hannibal, legally adopt her, and try to give her the best life that he could.
Instead, all she had was a cold, desolate grave. And all he had was an empty heart, one that wasn't capable of feeling anything any more but sorrow and regret.
That wasn't the way that either of them should have ended up.
Swallowing hard, trying to slam a door on all of the memories that crowded into his mind, Will turned away from the room, moving towards the doorway.
He had to leave this room, this house. If he stood here any longer, letting the memories flood over him, he was going to sink to his knees in a flood of tears, and he wouldn't allow himself that kind of release. Not here. Not now. Not in the room where it had all happened.
He would wait until he was home to set his emotions free, where he didn't feel that he was haunted by the ghosts that would always populate this house.
Will left the room, slamming the door behind him.
He knew that he wouldn't be back. He never wanted to see this house again. He never wanted to revisit these ghosts. He just wanted the memories to go away.
But he knew that they never would. He didn't have to be a genius to know that what had happened in this house had changed his life irrevocably, and that the memories would never fade. They would only grow stronger over time, and they would haunt him until his last breath.
It wasn't what he wanted. It wasn't what he had asked for. But it was all that he had, and he would just have to get used to that albatross around his neck.
As he left the house, the taste of dust and ashes rose into his mouth.
He knew that the taste would never go away.
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