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Title: Searching So Long
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Table: Quotables, Part 2, tv_universe
Prompt: "I've been searching for someone like you for a very long time."
Author's Note: Sequel to "An Acceptable Risk."
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.
"I've never liked parties. I just don't feel comfortable at them."
Will fidgeted as Hannibal reached out to adjust his tie; he wanted to shrink away from those hands, but he knew that he had no choice but to accept the gesture.
Hannibal straightened the bow tie of Will's tuxedo, then stepped back and tilted his head to the side, regarding the younger man with a smile.
"Well, you may not be entirely comfortable in a suit, or amongst people, but you look absolutely wonderful, Will," he said, his voice soft and entirely admiring. Try as he might, WIll couldn't hear any edge of mockery in those words; Hannibal apparently meant what he said.
That was certainly something new. Hearing admiration coming from Hannibal wasn't something that he was used to, and he couldn't hold back his own smile.
Careful, he told himself. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that Hannibal is a good guy who's on your side. You know that he isn't.
Oh yes, he knew that all too well.
"Thanks," he murmured, managing a small smile. He really didn't want to go downstairs and circulate among all the people he knew would be here, but he had no choice.
This was what he had to do to make Hannibal believe that he was an obedient little automaton who was under the spell of his so-called "mentor," he reminded himself.
He could pull this off. He would do it. And in the end, he would either gather enough evidence to prove that Hannibal was the Chesapeake Ripper, or he would get the man to confess to at least some of the killings within his hearing. Then he could arrest Hannibal, and his job would be done.
It wasn't going to be easy to carry out that plan. He'd known that from the start. But he had to do it. He had to put Hannibal behind bars. His sanity depended on doing so.
"I know that this isn't easy for you," Hannibal said softly, his gaze fixed on Will's face. "But you need to get past your dislike of socialising, Will. You need to be more open with people."
"You know I've never been good at that," Will protested, shaking his head and sighing. "But I"ll try, Hannibal. I know you want this party to go over well." He actually meant those words, he told himself wryly. He would have to try to be social tonight, whether he liked it or not.
"I know you will," Hannibal told him, reaching out to smooth back an errant curl from Will's forehead. "I love that you are trying to be what I want you to be, Will."
Hannibal loved that, and he himself hated it, Will thought, almost wanting to laugh. But he didn't dare. That would give the game away, and alert Hannibal that something wasn't quite right.
He had to be careful, and watch his back at all times.
Hannibal moved closer to him, his voice low when he spoke. "I have been searching for someone like you for a very long time, Will. And you are turning out to be all that I could have dreamed of."
Will forced another smile, feeling more than ever that he wanted to shrink away from Hannibal. This wasn't a situation that he'd been prepared for, and he didn't know what to say.
He tried to make his tone light when he spoke. "I just hope that I won't say or do something gauche at your party. Don't be surprised if I do. You know I'm not used to these big shindigs. A quiet party with just a few friends is more my speed. I might feel like I need to clam up at some point."
Hannibal shook his head, smiling. "You won't, Will. I'm sure of it. You are becoming more open every day. I believe that you will eventually overcome your dislike of being social."
"You think?" Will laughed softly, knowing that Hannibal was dead wrong.
By the time he got over that dislike, Hannibal would be long behind bars, and he would be old and grey. Even then, he didn't think it would happen.
He'd never be comfortable around people. He never had been, and that fact didn't bother him. He had long since been able to accept the fact that he simply wasn't a social being.
Hannibal might think that his search was over, and that he'd found the perfect patsy -- but Will was going to prove him wrong about that. This time, he was going to be the one to weave a spider's web, draw Hannibal into it, and trap him there in those sticky threads.
This time, he would be the winner of the constant battle that the two of them waged. He wasn't going to lose. Not again. This time, he'd come out on top.
"Are you ready?" Hannibal asked him, stepping back and indicating the doorway with a gesture. "It's nearly time for the first guests to begin arriving."
Will nodded, taking a deep breath and exiting the room ahead of Hannibal.
As he moved down the stairs, he couldn't help but think of Hannibal's words. I've been searching for someone like you for a very long time. Had there been others in this position before him?
That was something he would have to look into, Will told himself as Hannibal moved to the front door to open it and admit the first guests. He needed to dig into Hannibal's past.
That could be dangerous, but he was willing to take the risk.
He had an idea that what he would find there could give him more insight than he'd bargained to have.
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