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Title: Who Knew
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Author's Note: One-shot. Major character death.
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.
***"Who knew that it would come to this, Will?" Hannibal's voice was barely a whisper; Will almost had to strain to hear him, even though it was deadly quiet all around them.
The dogs weren't with him; he usually had at least a couple of them with him when he walked through the woods, but this time, something had told him to leave them at home.
The quiet was like a shroud, wrapping around the two of them, himself and this man who had once been his friend and had somehow become his deadliest enemy. He didn't even want to call Hannibal a man, not after he'd seen the atrocities that the person standing so near him had committed.
Hannibal was no better than an animal in his eyes. One that should be put down, for the good of the world. If he wasn't, then more innocent people would die.
It would never stop, not as long as Hannibal was alive. As much as he didn't relish killing, Will knew that it was what he had to do. He had no choice in the matter.
Still, he would never have known that it would come down to this.
He hadn't wanted this. He hadn't wanted to be the one to have to pull the trigger, and to be alone with Hannibal when it happened. But that was how things had gone.
The silence seemed to close in around them, and his finger trembled on the trigger. He knew that he should shoot and end this, but a part of him wanted to draw out the moment of his victory.
The cards had all been drawn, and played. The game was over. The chase, the hunt, had come down to this last confrontation, one that Will knew he would win.
He held the gun. Even if Hannibal had one, which he doubted, the other man could never pull the trigger in time to shoot Will and save himself. Will was the one who had the upper hand, for the first time in their long relationship. This time, he was the one leading in the dance.
"Who knew?" he whispered, his gaze never wavering from Hannibal's face. "When I first met you, I would never have guessed that you were such a monster."
"Ah, but monsters can be beautiful, Will," Hannibal murmured, tilting his head to the side. "You may not like what you see, but there are others who appreciate my strange and terrible beauty."
Will shook his head, a small, wry smile curving his full lips. "Beauty? Maybe so. But all I can feel when I look at you is disgust. Not just at you. At myself, too, for letting you fool me for so long."
Hannibal shook his head, looking sad.
"You could have become so much, Will," he said softly, dropping his hands to his side. "You could have been my pupil, my protégé. You could have been so much more than what you are."
Will's features twisted at those words; he was unable to stop the look of disgust that spread over his face. "I'd rather be dead than be anything like the monster you are."
"I could have taught you so much," Hannibal continued, as though he hadn't seen the grimace on Will's face or heard the words he had spoken. "You could have been feared. You could have stood tall among men, ruled along with me. But now, you will never what you could have been."
Will stood up straighter, disgust and hatred dripping from his voice like rancid honey when he spoke. "I am who I am, and I'm happy with that. I'm a hell of a lot better than you ever could have been."
"Who knew?" Hannibal whispered, a small smile playing around the corners of his lips. "Who knew that you would be the one who would cause my downfall?"
"I knew," Will whispered, his finger squeezing the trigger.
At first, it didn't seem possible that Hannibal was dead. The small hole directly in the center of his forehead almost didn't look real. It seemed more like a decoration.
Hannibal didn't blink, didn't cry out. He simply swayed, first to the left, then to the right, then dropped to his knees and fell forward, his body relaxing in death.
Will looked down at him, feeling no remorse whatsoever for what he had done. He had done the right thing; he knew that. But there was still a residual aura of regret for taking a life, any life, even one as evil as Hannibal's had been. It wasn't something he enjoyed, even though this had been necessary.
He didn't need to nudge the body with his foot to know that Hannibal was dead; it had been a clean shot directly to the brain. The Chesapeake Ripper was dead and gone.
Will stood looking down at Hannibal's body for what felt like a very long time, but was probably only seconds. When he finally spoke, it was in a barely audible whisper of sound.
"I knew," he murmured, his voice soft and husky. "I always knew."
With those words, he turned and walked a few feet away, pulling out his cell phone to call Jack Crawford. Now the legal process of a shooting death would start, and he would be in the middle of it.
He felt .... free. Free of a dark miasma that had hung over his life for far too long. Free of a blackness that had been closing in around him for so long that it had almost become normal.
That darkness would never plague him again. He could lead what most people would refer to as a "normal life" now -- if anyone with his abilities could be called "normal."
He had always known that it would come to this. And he had always known that he would win this game. He had doubted himself at times, but he had come through in the end, just as he had always known that he would. Good had triumphed over evil, as it was meant to do.
Will couldn't help smiling at that thought. For a moment, just a moment, he felt like Superman, vanquishing evil, winning one for the good guys.
He took a deep breath when he heard Jack's voice on the other end of the line.
It took him a few moments to explain what had happened to Jack. He nodded at the other man's words, then said goodbye and closed the phone.
With one last look at the body on the ground, he turned and started to make his way out of the woods to wait for Jack and the agents that would be coming with him.
It was over. At long last, Hannibal was dead, and he could let himself relax. The worst nightmare of his life was finally at an end, though he knew that he would never forget all that had happened.
Who would have known that it would end here, in this particular way? He certainly hadn't. But now it was done, and he could move on, going from the darkness into the light.
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