the cold light of day [fic & concept]

A Hannibal S4/Fortitude crossover concept with two vignettes …

No Fortitude spoilers below.

Hannibal and Will are on the run post-fall when an idea for a temporary home strikes Hannibal. He knows of a secluded spot to hide, out of the reach and jurisdiction of the people hunting them.

Rated: G

At the top of the world, ice blankets the frozen, forgotten landscape.

Barren.

Cold.

Desolate.

Emptiness at the end of the earth.

Flying to this place is out of the question – too many eyes, too many trails.

Good evening, Mr. Overgård. They hear it everywhere now, his new name the only thing that follows them – no APBs, no FBI, no second glances. They travel up and out – to Norway – hidden on trains with forged tickets until they find what they are searching for: a nearly out of work American fisherman. He agrees to drop them at an outpost close to a Russian mining town deep in the Arctic circle.

However, they never catch the fisherman’s name, never divulge their own, never shake his hand. He drops them – spouting warnings of a dying economy, trigger-happy men, and man-eating bears, but is met with no questions asked, no answers given. Only Will’s mind reels with the potential danger.

Is this survivable? Can he limp across this barren wasteland? Will Hannibal kill him when his guard drops? Can he stop this monster in a frozen prison or is an icy valley where a cold-hearted killer thrives? Can they trek across the endless tundra with only packs and heavy, stumbling steps?.

Jeg vet ikke.

Kicking snow from their boots and tightly donning hats and gloves, they fight the cold and the wind until their joints ache. They fall asleep in a tent, turned away from each other, the only warmth shared being the heat of the fires in their bellies and their eyes.

Lonely and lost, a husky finds Will and won’t leave his side. The dog is hungry and reminds him of his own pack – also lost or abandoned, not by choice, but by necessity – and a warm finger of familiarity plucks at Will’s icy heartstrings.

Much to Hannibal’s disgust, Will feeds it the last meal they’d packed.

Nook. Will name’s the dog Nook and Hannibal scoffs again.

Over rocks. Over snow.

Past the outcropping marking their way, it follows.

Quickening winds bite cheeks. Nook nips and whines.

Rocks give way to a ridge and the dog howls. The men look over a small, quiet town – a frozen, forgotten place nestled on top of the world.

Space – privacy – everyone is friendly, so they say.

The only part of consequence: just four police officers await them.

Unsuspecting townsfolk see an educated former doctor who speaks French and Italian and a scruffy looking stranger who is very comfortable around boats. Neither were considered suspicious in Fortitude. Most of the current occupants are running from the law themselves or plain old Russian miners.

Vinden har snudd.

With no questions, they settle in a newly unoccupied house outside of town. Cash. Ignore the blood. Here’s the key. Welcome to town. The door is shut behind them.

Xenial is what he calls this place through an obnoxious, fogging huff from his nose: friendly, hospitable. Will finds neither to be true. It is not friendly. It’s tolerant. It is not hospitable. It’s bitter and frozen, like him.

Yoke-devil is his new goading nickname for his comrade-in-arms. You choke me, he sneers. You stumble, I fall. He bites and snarls. You drag me down with you. He fights, but he also cries. Not in front of Hannibal – never – but he will in his room when the house empties of man and beast. The chill of the house is nothing compared to the fostbite in his chest. It burns. He throws his fists and insults with ease, but Hannibal never acknowledges except with biting glances and grinding teeth. He has his own flowery language to use with the color-starved locals.

Zoilist. His lover is a zoilist, bless him. It rolls from Hannibal’s tongue with no explanation despite the confusion on the faces around him. Will has to look it up. He is Hannibal’s charming and faithful, though rude and hateful critic. Such a fussy, acrid man who yoked himself to the devil.

At their new freezing, minimal bungalow, Will’s idle hands fuss and rattle his proverbial chains. The food is nauseating, the ground frozen, the company Hyperborean to a disgusting degree. He needs new food, new friends, new hobbies. He becomes overly obsessed with taxidermy. Keeps his hands from choking the devil he’s tethered to.

But to Hannibal, this new obsession of Will’s is fascinating, endearing even. Will finds it his only outlet in the frozen prison he’s trapped inside.

Caribou, foxes, an occasional seabird – he studies with a local man and his unmountable messes turn somewhat arresting after a few rigorous weeks. When not in the workshop, he spends every waking moment studying Hannibal – writing, sketching, logging it all in his mind. This is not a honeymoon post-fall. This is and always will be about the last man standing.

Dan Anderssen, Chief of Police and fellow big hat enthusiast, questions Hannibal one afternoon. Nothing major, just a few issues with the townsfolk hearing strange noises coming from his and Mr. Graham’s new, husky-protected home.

“Elk? Bears maybe?” Hannibal crosses his legs. It’s strange to try to seem formal in a very informal place. He’s still dressed in his fur-lined coat and stocking cap. No ties and jackets for miles.

For five weeks they’d avoided the police station. They rarely spoke to anyone except the grocer and a few outcasts in their neck of the woods – the shaman taxidermist included. This is the first time Hannibal’s seen the inside of the station. It’s minimal – clean – seemingly too high tech for a cut off town. But there’s a research station in Fortitude. The town needs to stay in the know.

Glass walls are the most striking feature in the station: holding cells. Three. They’re highly protected – keypads and windowless – solid glass walls reminiscent of Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Hannibal leans back in his chair opposite the chief’s desk. “I have yet to see a bear, of course, but I hear stories from the townspeople. Tear a man apart.”

“Indeed they will, Mr. Overgård, but no. These were human noises, not bears. Screaming. Clawing. Begging for help. We know bears here, and they don’t beg for help.” When Hannibal doesn’t answer, he asks, “Do you have another explanation for the noise?” No answer, then a long pause.

“Just a skulk of chatty foxes trapped in your shed then?” wonders the chief.

“Kennel’s not soundproof. Could be the dog.”

“Lying to the police is not looked at kindly, Mr. Overgård.” He glares. Hannibal glares. They glare at each other – a cold, striking scowl that fights, then bends angrily into forced amicability in the middle of nowhere.

“Maybe I’m not lying,” said Hannibal. “Maybe the wind plays tricks. Maybe my dog’s restless, and maybe bears should beg for help. I’m sure they don’t appreciate the melt.”

“No, I bet they don’t.” The chief scowls. “Because I am so trusting and you are so innocent, I’m sure you won’t mind me popping in on occasion. Newcomers don’t know the lay of the land yet anyway, and I haven’t properly given you a tour of the town.”

“Obstructing your duties is not my intention, but are the police truly the welcome wagon here? Seems you have more important tasks.” His hand flicks to a large cork board by the sergeant’s desk. It’s covered in papers, lists, and photos of a bloody patch of ice and snow.

“Police are in charge of many things in this town – keeps us well informed. I can either stop in and give you a quick, painless tour, or I can set you free to fend for yourself with a plate of lutefisk as a welcome gift. You’re choice, but I wouldn’t take the lutefisk.”

“Quite a tempting offer, Chief … but as much as I’d enjoy you dropping by, I think I’m suddenly craving a little lutefisk.”

Right after their arrival, Will obtained a crabbing boat despite every sailor he met telling him it’s a dying business. He’s back to his pre-Hannibal self, nervous around people, only now he’s dealing with his own questionable morality while living with a killer in his head and in his makeshift home. He justifies life on the outskirts as doing what is necessary for the greater good: quarantining himself and Hannibal away from the unsuspecting populous.

Sergeant Eric Odegard and Will venture out on his boat, not by Will’s choice, but at Eric’s well-meaning insistence.

The boat rocks as Eric leans on the rail, watching Will endlessly tie and untie the knots connecting each loop to everything else. “Fortitude’s an interesting town to settle in, Mr. Graham. Takes a certain type of man.”

“Undeniably so, but I’m not settling,” he says with an icy, stuttering sigh. “The ground’s too frozen to dig in roots.”

“Vacationing then?”

“We travel. We explore. We happened upon a map of Fortitude, it looked good for now, so we bought a house.”

“X marks the spot,” he snickers. “You’re not staying for the long haul then? I assumed you were here specifically to study with Tavrani. He said you’re a natural with flesh and bone.”

Yes, Will was a natural. Dissection – evisceration – skinning. It all came so easily now.

“Zoonomy is a relatively new hobby of mine,” he says, coiling a wet rope around his arm, “not that animal behavior and physiology hasn’t always seemed fascinating to me. But this place offered my first taste of preserving their physical form. Seemed useful to know.”

Aching, burning breaths catch in Will’s throat – the frozen air cutting his mouth and tongue. He tries to suppress the sting – hide his failing health from the sergeant, but succumbs, doubling over as he hacks and coughs against the boat rails.

Bears only kept some new folks out of Fortitude. The isolation and chill kept out the rest.

Coughing. Hacking. Mumbles of apology. I must have a cold, he says. It’s the dry air. It’s an old wound. Sometimes it acts up.

Den gudene elsker, dør ung.

Eric lets him compose his struggling lungs, then looks out across the endless sea. The truth is that no one really settles in Fortitude. It’s a dying town in need of help, but the winds whipped those pleas from its mouth before they had a chance to drift overseas. “Why’d you leave the States?”

Frozen fingers drop the rope, and Will sniffs his running nose. “That is a very long and boring story.”

Go figure. Eric gestures into the silence around them and laughs. “Bore me then.”

“Health concerns and a failed love interest, maybe three. My old boss became overbearing. It was all the consequences of staying in one place too long.” He got to know people. He got to feel them. He let himself get too close and paid the price.

“In the end,” he continues, “I only had one valid reason to leave, and no legitimate reasons to stay.”

“Judging by your sudden move here, it must have been one hell of a compelling reason.”

“Kismet,” he says. “Called by a higher power.”

“Luck?” snickers Eric. “You don’t strike me as the religious type.”

“Morality is still a higher power, as is destiny and fate – no religion necessary.”

No one else is out on the water so Will cuts the engine and they drift for a bit. Just seabirds. Silence. A restless crew of two.

“Odd jobs seem to keep you and your … ?”

“Partner,” finishes Will. “He’s my partner.”

Questions might have followed, but Will is prepared. He and Hannibal didn’t act like lovers. They acted like quarrelling adversaries hell-bent on destroying the other in every feasible way. They rarely went into town together.

“Right …,” continues Eric. “The work you do with Tavrani probably keeps you busy, and your partner seems to have his hands full doing … whatever he does, but you should talk to Dan anyway. If you plan to stay for a bit, we could always use a few steady hands at the station – bears are coming down and other things – and you told the chief you’ve been trained.”

Steady hands. Will huffs at that.

Training, he had, but what the purpose of all that training had been, Will hadn’t a clue. “A few steady hands for what exactly?”

“Uh …” Eric half-heartedly smiles and nods. “I guess we don’t get a lot of crime in Fortitude – theft, drunken fighting, out past curfew–”

“Vermin jump ship as soon as their fur freezes. But isn’t that ideal up here?”

“We’re too cut off for the really bad ones; you’re right. Crime is definitely not what we want in Fortitude.” He pauses for a minute, the frigid breeze and uncomfortable silence blanketing them from all sides as the boat rocks. “Not much crime,” he says again – prideful this time, but a little weary. “This sleepy little town sure does like to sleep. I think it’s all the snow.”

“Xmas all year ’round,” says Will. “Towns like this lull all the good little boys and girls to sleep right along with them. Makes you wonder what happens when they finally wake up.”

“You plan on waking up the town, Mr. Graham?”

Zipped coats, zipped lips. “I don’t, no,” says Will. “But I’m sure someone’s bound to.”

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—joanielspeak
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