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Title: Burnout
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sequel to "What He Can't Have."
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.


"What do you mean, I'm on an enforced leave of absence?"

Will blinked, unable to believe what he was hearing. Jack couldn't be doing this to him. Jack, of all people, knew how important his work was to him.

Without his work, he wouldn't be able to keep his sanity. Even though he saw those unnerving premonitions of himself meeting his death whenever he was at a crime scene, his job was still the one thing that could keep him grounded and make him feel useful.

Of course, he had his teaching, too, and he could cling to that. But there were only so many hours a day that he could teach classes, and be in his office.

Jack couldn't take this away from him.

"Jack, I need to work," Will began, hoping that pleading with his boss would make the other man change his mind. "I can't just sit at home and do nothing."

"Then don't do nothing," Jack told him, shaking his head. "Go fishing, Will. Read a book. Take a trip to some place you've never been before that you've always wanted to go. Just spend some time relaxing. Do something other than go to crime scenes."

"I don't have any place to go," Will muttered, shoving his hands into his pockets and resisting the urge to pace around Jack's office. "You know that."

"I don't know what to tell you, Will," Jack said, leaning back in his chair. "But I think you need a break. You're burning out, and that won't help us in the long run."

"Hannibal told you about the visions I've been having, didn't he?" Will said, his voice quiet. His body had gone taut, and all he could feel was indignation. He hadn't expected Hannibal to go to his boss with this. He had trusted the other man to keep things to himself.

"He told me because he's worried about you, Will," Jack said, his voice soft. "And so am I. Neither of us wants to see you head into a downward spiral."

Will's lips twisted in a parody of a smile. "I see."

Yes, he did. Jack didn't want him to burn out, because then, he wouldn't have anyone to solve crimes for him, and he wouldn't be able to take the credit and be in the spotlight.

He'd never cared before whether he pushed Will too hard or not. He'd never given a damn if anyone burned out. He just used people, and then threw them away when they were no longer useful. That had always been his way, and Will doubted that he'd suddenly changed.

Somehow, Hannibal had obviously managed to convince Jack that he needed a break. Hannibal was right, of course. He did. But that didn't mean that he wanted to take that respite. He didn't feel that he could. He needed to find out what was causing his visions.

If he didn't, then he was going to drive himself insane. Or maybe, Will thought with another twist of his lips, maybe he already was.

He certainly didn't feel as though he was in control any longer.

Jack had never been perceptive, or attuned to the personal needs of anyone who worked for him. And he wasn't now, Will was sure of it. This was Hannibal's doing.

All right, so Hannibal was worried about him. That was understandable. But it still galled Will to know that Hannibal had gone behind his back in telling Jack about what was going on. This wasn't something that he wanted to discuss with his boss. It was too personal.

There were some things that Jack didn't need to know. And anyway, this wasn't affecting Will's work. He could still do his job. Some of the thing he saw now were just .... disconcerting.

But those things wouldn't keep him from doing his job, Will told himself firmly. He wouldn't let them. If he did, then he might as well turn in his FBI badge.

If he could no longer do his job properly, then he had no place out in the field. He was there to help solve cases, to help people get closure. He was there to aid the families of the victims, to find out who had dispatched their loves ones, to put criminals behind bars.

If he couldn't do that, then he had no need to keep working for Jack. If he was held back from accomplishing what he was there to do, he should just turn his back and walk away.

Though for him, that was far more easily said than done.

He couldn't just walk away. He'd spent too much of his time helping those people, put too much of himself into what he did. He couldn't just leave it behind.

His teaching was fulfilling, in a way. But it didn't give him that satisfaction of knowing that he'd done something for the good of the world, putting a killer behind bars and making sure that they wouldn't harm anyone else. Nothing else could give him that feeling of doing some good.

And that was why he'd gone into law enforcement, wasn't it? To do some good in the world. To help people. He couldn't just stop doing that at a moment's notice.

Sighing, he sat down, nodding slowly at Jack.

"Okay. I'll take a leave of absence. But you have to trust me to know when the time is right for me to come back, and not question me about it. Deal?"

Will held his breath, hoping that Jack would agree. If he didn't, then they'd have another arguments on their hands -- and it was one that Will knew he wouldn't win.

Jack did, after all, have Hannibal on his side. Hannibal, who believed that Will needed to take a break. Hannibal, who had talked to Jack without telling Will that he was going to. Will's hands clenched, his eyes narrowing. He would definitely have a talk with his psychiatrist.

The sooner, the better. He was going to confront Hannibal about this, and it was an argument that he intended to win. He was, after all, in the right.

Maybe he was in danger of burning out. But that was for him to decide. Only he could know when it was time for him to pull back, to take a break.

Hannibal and Jack had no right to force it on him. None at all.

Jack nodded slowly, letting out a breath. "All right, Will. You can decide when you're ready to come back. But under one condition. Hannibal and I both have to agree with you."

Will hesitated, then nodded, knowing that agreeing to that stipulation was the only way that he would get what he wanted. And what the hell -- maybe he did need a break. Maybe the reason he was seeing his own death in those visions was simply because he was overworked.

He hoped that was the only reason, but something told him that it went much deeper than that. There were more causes for what he was seeing than just working too hard.

But he wasn't going to find those causes if he did indeed burn out.

Will stood up, nodding to Jack as he left the office and made his way out of the building. The next order of business was to have a talk with Hannibal.

He wanted to find out just why the other man had gone to Jack behind his back. It didn't seem like something that Hannibal would normally do, and Will was sure that there had to be some reasoning behind it that Hannibal had been reluctant to share with him.

Whatever it was, he wanted to find out just why Hannibal would have done something like that. He didn't think it was just out of concern for his well-being.

He couldn't help but feel that he was getting close to some answers.

Hannibal wanted to help him find those answers, he told himself as he pulled his car into traffic and headed towards the freeway that would take him into Baltimore.

When he got to Baltimore, there might be an explosion, Will thought as he pressed his foot harder against the gas pedal. He just hoped that there wouldn't be a lot of nuclear fallout after it happened.