Alana Finds Out: Zombies!
Another instalment of AFO in honour of Ladies of Hannibal week… in which Alana faces the possible end of the world… and some other unfortunate revelations.
(Also a small warning: there are mentions of offstage character deaths here. None of the major characters are affected, but be prepared in any case.)
Also on AO3.
“…the attackers can be stopped by removing the head or destroying the brain.”
Alana stood watching the television she hadn’t even known Hannibal owned, transfixed by the impossibility of what she was seeing. On the screen, a news anchor, sweating through his shirt and a face-full of makeup, was giving details of what no one could any longer deny was the rise of the undead.
“Alana,” Hannibal had appeared behind her silently, his hand on her arm causing her to jump, “I think it is time to go.”
She turned to face him and froze. The man in front of her looked very much like Hannibal Lecter, except he was dressed in jeans, heavy boots and a leather jacket and appeared to have strapped the katana from his bedroom to his back.
“The transport is outside, Alana, it is time for you to go.”
She looked up from his unfamiliar ensemble, taking in the firm set of his mouth, the sad look in his eyes. “Why aren’t you coming?”
“I have a friend out there who requires my help.”
Alana didn’t have to wonder. “You’re going to find Will. Even after what he did, what he accused you of?”
Hannibal nodded. “You know as well as I that Will is not guilty.”
In the face of the zombie apocalypse, Alana found it all too easy to accept the truth of this, as well as something else she now knew should have been obvious. “You’re in love with him.”
“Yes. I’m sorry if that upsets you but if there still exists a chance to keep him safe, I must take it.”
Alana considered getting upset for a moment but she had never seen her progression from Hannibal’s friend to his lover as anything more than a clutch for comfort by either of them. Not to mention, the presence of the armed transport outside, courtesy of Jack Crawford’s calling in of every favour he’d ever earned, rather shortened the timeframe for confrontations. Instead, she simply wrapped her arms around Hannibal, with the words, “Don’t be too reckless. Take care of him.” She drew back and met his eyes, “And be honest with him. No metaphors, no literary allusions, no exquisitely crafted obfuscations. Just tell him. I’m reasonably certain you’ll get the response you want.”
Hannibal’s eyes lit at this, in a way she’d never seen before. “You are?”
She shrugged, feeling surprisingly light-hearted in the face of the end of both her relationship and, potentially, the world. “The other reason I told him I couldn’t date him? When the pair of you aren’t trading elegant couplets on the subject of murder, you’re eye-banging like no one else can see you. It’s not subtle.”
It was this final sentence that meant, as she took her bags to the door, the last thing Alana saw of her former lover, was the unexpectedly beautiful sight of Hannibal Lecter blushing.
Three years later.
Alana would know those curls anywhere.
She was in Florida, helping a colleague to run a week of counselling sessions for traumatised survivors. Given that mostly everyone still alive in the US qualified as such, these events were always utter chaos, a barely controlled swell of emotion coupled with endless paperwork and administration. The chances that Alana would catch glimpse of a living, breathing Will Graham in any context were, she contemplated, microscopic. That she would, through the packed crowds of the conference centre, simply glance towards the refreshments table to see him struggling one-handed with a coffee pot seemed impossible to the point of absurdity.
Alana excused herself from her colleagues and crossed the room, almost in a daze. Just before she could reach him, though, she realised with horror that the reason for Will’s struggle was the total absence of his left arm. His shoulder simply ended abruptly in a stump, covered with fabric neatly tailored to his altered form. Alana was used to such injuries – there had been far greater call for medics than psychiatrists during the last few years and Alana had found herself in field hospitals all across the country – but she couldn’t keep the words from leaving her lips.
He turned, clearly surprised to hear his name, still holding the pot in his remaining hand. She watched his eyes light with recognition as he set down the coffee and pulled her in for an embrace.
“Alana, you’re alive! I wasn’t sure, I… I don’t have the connections I had before.” He pulled back to look at her properly. “You’re ok? You’re safe, happy?”
“All of the above.” She felt a huge grin cross her face, the same reflected a second later on Will’s. It faded after a moment, though, as she glanced at the space where his arm should have been.
Will caught her look and said, “It’s ok, it could’ve been so much worse. Should have been. I got bit,” Alana’s head snapped up and she stared at him. “I know. Thought I was done for sure. It was only because of the guy with me, he took my arm off the second after the thing got hold of me. Kept the infection from spreading. Another second…” he trailed off, eyes clouded for a second, then shrugged. “I figure, an arm’s not that much of a sacrifice. And other than that, I’m a hell of a lot healthier than I was pre-apocalypse.”
Alana took a moment to look him over. Will was right – where she had known a scruffy, twitchy, often sweaty mess of a man who concealed his looks behind stubble and poor eye contact, the man before her now was neat and clean, smartly groomed and dressed in simple but elegant clothes. He also looked healthy, well-fed and clear-skinned, with an ease in his posture that she had never seen before. More than anything, though, he was meeting her eyes without hesitation, the expression in them so warm and genuine she wondered how she had ever thought him capable of violence and murder.
She smiled, feeling a prickle of tears in her eyes and then laughed, blinking them away. “The end of the world clearly agrees with you.” Will barked out a laugh, the same one she remembered, and she reflected gladly that some things remained unchanged. Then, without warning, she blurted, “I’m so sorry I didn’t believe you, Will.”
He cast his eyes away for a second but then looked back and shrugged. “It’s ok. I wouldn’t have believed me. It’s forgotten.”
“And… you’re a free man? They didn’t try to put you back in?”
“They made some perfunctory noises about it but, given my exemplary service to the nation in zombie massacring, as well as the fact that pretty much all the evidence against me was lost one way and another, they didn’t pursue it too hard. Apparently the going rate for freedom is a couple hundred undead and my total’s well above that, thus I am a fully certified member of the post-apocalyptic society.” He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, I’m not letting you go anytime soon, Bloom,” Will told her, taking her hand and dragging her to a couch in the corner. They sat and he looked seriously at her. “Do you know what happened to the others? Crawford? Katz and her boys?” Alana noticed that he didn’t say anything about Hannibal and realised, the thought sinking like a stone within her, that if Hannibal wasn’t with Will, it was because he had died trying.
The tears returned to Alana’s eyes and Will’s expression dropped. She pulled herself together, took a deep breath and told him. “Zeller died early on. He was out on duty when the bodies at the crime scene…” she sniffled, “he went out fighting but he wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. He wasn’t turned, they just… destroyed him. Price was distraught, of course, Beverly too. He’s still alive, got a partner and kids, named his son Brian. He says if the kid doesn’t develop a terrible sense of humour and a fascination with dead bodies he won’t have done his job right.” Will grinned weakly, his own eyes sparkling with tears.
Alana clutched tightly at his hand with both of hers. She had hoped never to tell this next part ever again. “Jack… Jack’s dead too. He…” Alana was openly crying now. “He made sure he got everybody to safety that he could. Then he… god, Will, he helped Bella to go. They were found in their bed together, there was a syringe next to her and a bullet in his head. He left a note, said that he was tired of fighting monsters and since Bella couldn’t follow him, he’d follow her.” Will pulled her tight against himself and they sobbed together.
Eventually, they quietened and Will leaned back, saying, “He was a great man. A gigantic, bull-headed bear of a great man. I’m glad they were together at the end.” He squeezed her hand and then a frown crossed his brow. “What about Beverly? Is she…”
“Don’t worry. Not all my stories are sad.” Alana took a deep breath and tried to shake off her grief. “Beverly Katz is alive, a decorated hero of the war on zombies and, other than losing an eye in combat, is both hale and hearty and every bit the snarky, badass bitch she ever was.”
The relief in Will’s eyes was dazzling. “Saved the best for last, huh? I bet she really pulls off the eye patch.”
“I think so,” Alana agreed, “it’s really the main reason I married her.”
Will’s stunned expression was a picture. “What?” he nearly squealed. “You and Katz?”
Alana held up her left hand to show off her wedding ring. “She’s pretty amazing. And stupidly hot when smiting the undead.”
Will grinned and launched himself at her for yet another hug. She felt him chuckle against her and say, “Remember when I kissed you?”
“I faintly recall.”
“Really barking up the wrong tree, huh?”
“My finding you attractive was never the problem, Graham.” She smacked him lightly on the head. “Though I must admit, I like the new look better than the flannel.”
“Ah, yeah, there’s a reason for that.” Will released her and held up his own hand, displaying a gold band. “Snap. Wrong hand, of course, but completely official.”
“You got married? To who? Is she here, can I meet her?”
Will grinned, looking pleased with himself. “I believe my darling spouse should be arriving soon. I’ll give you all the gory details when I can make the introductions.”
“You’d better.” Alana decided she had to ask, before Will’s wife appeared and the chance was lost. “Will, I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this but the last time I saw him, Hannibal was on his way to try to save you from Chilton’s hospital. He… he was in love with you, you know.” Will looked down. “I’m sorry, maybe you didn’t want to know that but… did he ever find you, did you ever see him again?”
From behind her, a familiar voice interjected, “Who else do you know could cut off a man’s arm and then convince him to marry them?”
Will’s grin could’ve lit the city. “Alana, I’d like you to meet my husband, Dr Hannibal Lecter.”
Alana turned to raise her eyes along all six-foot plus of her former mentor, finding herself unable to move. Hannibal seemed relatively unharmed, save for a wicked-looking scar that ran the length of one cheekbone. Seeing her shock, he grinned from ear to ear and Alana realised, as he leaned down for a hug, that she had never seen such an open expression on his face. Indeed, as Hannibal crossed to his husband, stealing a kiss before sitting behind him and pulling Will back against his chest, she realised how little resemblance this relaxed, loose-limbed, contented man bore to the one she had known before.
“She looks a little dazed, don’t you think darling?” Will asked teasingly.
“Positively stunned, dearest,” agreed Hannibal.
“So, I was right about the eye-banging,” Alana interjected, not wanting to let them win.
As Hannibal smirked behind him, Will exclaimed, “What the hell does that mean?”
After they’d finished laughing, they exchanged war stories for a couple of hours, Hannibal equally delighted to hear of Alana’s marriage and Alana entirely unsurprised it took less than two weeks after Hannibal had rescued Will from the BSHCI for their first kiss to occur.
Eventually, as the venue began closing for the night, Hannibal said, “Alana, we would love to have you for dinner.” Will seemed to choke a little as Hannibal clarified, “For you to come to our house to eat dinner.”
“You still cook, Hannibal?”
Will snorted. “As if the end of the world could stop him.”
“Yes,” Alana continued, “but you always cooked meat and it’s so hard to come by now.”
“In fact, my darling husband has adjusted well to a vegetarian diet,” Will told her. “Claims a couple of years killing zombies kinda did for his bloodlust.” His eyes twinkled as he looked up at Hannibal, whose eyes crinkled in response. Clearly Alana was missing some inside joke but she chose not to pry.
“In any case,” Hannibal added, “cutting off a large part of the man you love,”
“With a katana,” Will added.
“…has the unfortunate side effect of making butchery somewhat less appealing.”
Alana began to laugh at that, with the two men joining soon after and it took a couple of minutes for them to compose themselves. Finally, she regained enough breath to say, “A vegetarian dinner cooked by Hannibal Lecter. I knew there was a reason I survived the zombie apocalypse.”