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Title: Make A Choice
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: Sequel to "Frosty Atmosphere."
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.
***"That dog really doesn't like me, Will."
Hannibal's voice was quiet, but decisive. Will stiffened at his tone; he didn't like it when Hannibal sounded like that. It was as though he was about to make some kind of pronouncement.
"I don't know what's making him act so unfriendly," Will mumbled, shaking his head. "He's a sweet dog, Hannibal. Really. You two just got off on the wrong foot, that's all."
"I have no idea why he would be so antagonistic towards me," Hannibal said with a frown. "But I don't intend to put up with it. The other dogs don't seem to have a problem with me, so why is this particular one so adamant? I don't want the others to follow suit."
"They won't," Will promised, knowing that he shouldn't say that, as he couldn't predict how any of his pets would act. "I'll make sure that they don't."
"How can you do that, Will?" Hannibal shook his head, his slight frown growing more pronounced. "I think that you should find someone to give this dog away to."
This time, it was Will's turn to shake his head slowly.
"I won't do that, Hannibal," he said, keeping his tone quiet, but firm. "He's my dog. We already have a bond, and I"m not going to just abandon him."
"You wouldn't be abandoning him, Will," Hannibal said, his tone that of a man who was patiently explaining the situation to a child. "You can find him a good home, I'm sure."
"That's not the point," Will snapped, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest. "Max isn't some toy that I can just get rid of if I decide I don't want to play with it any longer. He's a life. Maybe not a human life, but a life nonetheless, and I took responsibility for him."
"Then you need to teach the animal some manners," Hannibal told him, sounding even more frosty than he had when Max had snarled at him. "I won't put up with that attitude."
Will glared at his boyfriend across the table. He had no idea why Max was acting the way he was, and he hadn't wanted to fight. But somehow, it had happened.
He hated arguing with Hannibal. It always made him feel as though he was turned inside out and upside down. He didn't like to see his boyfriend upset, but then again, he didn't like being upset, either. And talking about getting rid of one of his dogs was sure to upset him.
"Max is staying with me," Will said, his voice ringing with finality. "Hannibal, you don't live here. I can always keep him away from you whenever you're here."
"You have to make a choice now, Will," Hannibal told him, not backing down a bit. "It's either that dog, or me. I can stay away from Wolf Trap as long as he is still here."
Will hadn't thought that Hannibal would be so implacable.
"That's ridiculous," he protested, spreading his hands out to his sides. "It's not like you're here more than a couple of times a week, at most. Max will eventually warm up to you."
"And what if he doesn't, Will? I am not going to feel unwelcome in your home simply because a dog has decided that it doesn't like me," Hannibal shot back, his tone icy.
"I'm not getting rid of him," Will said, refusing to back down. "Like I said, you don't live here, Hannibal. I can find a way to keep you and Max separated whenever you're here. But he's my dog, and this is my home. You don't have a right to dictate to me which dogs I can and can't keep."
At those words, Hannibal nodded slowly, looking sober. "You're right, of course," he said, sighing softly. "I'm sorry, Will. I seem to have overstepped my boundaries."
"It's okay," Will murmured, wanting things to go back to normal between the two of them. "I understand how you feel. But things will get better, Hannibal. You'll see."
Hannibal shook his head, standing up and starting to gather the dishes.
"I hope they do," he said, his voice steady and even. "Until then, I think I should go, Will. Perhaps the next time I"m here, your new dog will have learned better manners."
Will didn't help Hannibal as he gathered the dishes and put them in the sink. He would wash them later; at the moment, he didn't feel like doing much of anything.
He couldn't believe that his boyfriend was acting like this, simply because one of his dogs hadn't taken an immediate liking to him. He didn't know what was wrong with Max, but he didn't know what had come over Hannibal, either. The entire situation mystified him.
But maybe Hannibal was right. Maybe he should try to teach Max better manners before his boyfriend came here again. It could be just a matter of time, and some training.
Hannibal packed the uneaten food away, then picked up the basket. "I'll see you later, Will," he said. "I hope that your dog will learn something before I come to your home again."
Will nodded, getting to his feet and seeing Hannibal to the door.
Max growled again as Hannibal walked down the steps to his car, but he didn't move from his place by the rocking chair. When Hannibal had driven off, Will sat down heavily in it, looking at Max.
"What was all that about?" he asked the dog, shaking his head. "That didn't seem like you, Max. You're not some unfriendly dog. I've got to make Hannibal see that, or else I've got to get you some obedience training before he's here again. You don't want to screw things up for us, do you?"
He reached down to pet the dog, and Max responded by licking his fingers. This dog wasn't mean, or vicious. Will had no idea why he didn't seem to like Hannibal.
He rubbed a hand over his eyes, feeling suddenly tired.
He wasn't going to think about it any more tonight. Whatever the problem was, they would manage to work it out somehow. He wasn't going to give up his dog, or his boyfriend.
Standing up, he headed back inside the house, holding the door open for Max to bound inside after him. Now that Hannibal was gone, the dog seemed to be back to his usual self.
It was strange, that negative reaction to Hannibal.
Somehow, he had to find out what was wrong, and do all that he could to change it.
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