For the first little while, Abigail tries to be a good houseguest.

This is mainly with the intention of figuring out whether or not she is, in fact, a houseguest.

When, on the night she decides to test the question, she manages to slip out of Hannibal’s house at half past one in the morning, she decides perhaps she is. She hadn’t had much of a plan before she did it, mostly focused on staying absolutely silent as she snuck down the stairs and out the door. She takes a city bus to a McDonalds and eats a greasy hamburger under the harsh fluorescent lights.

When she returns, a lamp is on in the sitting-room, and Hannibal is sketching from an armchair. “Good morning, Abigail,” he says, he voice drifting out into the front hall the moment she opens the door, and she clutches the inside handle as she is caught by a wave of fear so intense she nearly vomits from it.

She squeaks “good morning”— it is, technically, morning— and scuttles up the stairs to her bedroom. It feels like an eternity that she waits to hear footsteps outside her door, or perhaps the sound of a knife being sharpened. She is fairly sure that she is, in fact, a captive.

Being a captive is actually a significant improvement on being a houseguest. For one, she no longer worries about not being sophisticated enough to live in Hannibal’s house. He’s the one keeping her there, so he can deal with her rooting through the kitchen for snacks while he’s away, leaving dirty dishes in the sink and forgetting about her laundry in the washer until it’s mildewy and she has to run it through again. She asks him for a speaker, which he provides, and she plays Top 40 radio stations in her room whenever she isn’t sleeping. She grows bolder and starts simply giving him lists of things she wants, clothes and books and DVDs, and they appear. Eventually she finds a credit card on her desk, with a false name on it but no instructions as to the limit, and she simply buys whatever she wants herself.

So being a captive takes the pressure off, at least on that front. And anyway, it’s a role Abigail is familiar with. She’s been a captive her whole life.

All you have to do survive captivity is figure out what he wants, and give it to him. Hannibal doesn’t care that she’s messy, doesn’t care that she spends his money on clothes and entertainment and silly decorations for her room. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want something from her.

She knows she hasn’t got it right. She knows Hannibal is different from her dad, he doesn’t want the same things, even if she sometimes recognizes the cuts of meat on the table for supper. But that doesn’t stop the nervous, shaky feeling she gets every time she things about how long it’s been since she’s hunted.

Hunting, Abigail knows deep at the very core of her, is essential to her survival. The longer she goes without luring in a victim, the more likely it is that she’ll be the victim. There is, it seems, no way to convince herself that this may no longer be the case.

They do go out together, sometimes. Abigail’s hair is cut shorter now, and coloured lighter. “Just for a little while,” Hannibal had assured her as he’d led ushered her into the back door of a salon, and she’d acquiesced. Just for a little while. He was going to have her colour her hair back, after a little while? Why? Or was that supposed to be her life expectancy?

They go— to Abigail’s surprise— on college tours. Hannibal wears a t-shirt and jeans and the instant they set foot on a college campus he looks so much like a bewildered dad that she nearly bursts out laughing. At first it’s short trips, liberal arts colleges with pretty campuses and inspiring histories. Then, one day, they get on a plane instead of in the car. Abigail forces herself not to ask what they’re doing, but it turns out they’re going on yet another college tour— at the Sorbonne. Hannibal hands her a stack of brochures, as they check into a hotel that evening, and tells her to choose her top three for them to visit in the next week. She chooses Palermo, Cologne, and Milan, pretty much at random.

It doesn’t really matter. Abigail is pretty damn sure she isn’t going to be going to university in Europe. She can’t shake the feeling that she isn’t going to be going to university at all, that she isn’t going to be alive long enough to make it through an application process.

There’s no particular reason why. Hannibal isn’t overtly threatening, besides the fact that he’s kidnapped her. He’s kind, in fact: when she can shove down the dread far enough to be able to approach him, he’s eager to have her help cook, or show her his drawings, or tell her about places he’s visited.

It doesn’t help. Abigail knows, in the part of her that’s left over from her previous dad, that she needs to find a victim, and soon. It itches under her skin.

They’re in Cologne when Abigail finally suggests it, taking a tour of the library. There’s a girl a little bit older than Abigail— probably a potential grad student— but another American, a thin brunette who mutters to herself in English. It would be so easy to sidle up to her, say something about her useless German classes back home, make her feel comfortable. Ask her to coffee, maybe they could go to a museum together. Perhaps say that her feet hurt, and can they just stop by Abigail’s hotel for a moment for her to change her shoes? She can practically feel the satisfaction, the relief, in the moment when her dad takes over, and Abigail knows she is spared for a little while longer.

She wants that relief more than anything.

On the way out, as the tour group scatters, Abigail nudges Hannibal, and when he glances down at her, she nods towards the girl.

“That’s who I’d choose,” she says.

Hannibal goes very still. They’re standing outside in the sunshine, and students and tourists pass around them like waves. The girl is stopped at a crosswalk, checking her phone.

“Do you want her?” Abigail says. “I’ll help you. I’ll show you how we did it.” Her heart beats in her chest like a rabbit’s. Please want her.

“Perhaps,” says Hannibal, “If you wish to give me a demonstration, it would be better to postpone it until we are at home.”

Abigail can see the logic of that: she’s seen Hannibal’s suitcase, and there didn’t seem to be enough room in it to fit knives and bone saws and whatever else he needs to make his kills.

“Okay,” she says, and the anxiety crawling under her skin subsides a little bit. It’ll be back, she knows. “Yeah, okay.”


It takes about two days to get over the jet lag. On the third day, Abigail loads the dishwasher after dinner. She usually intentionally skips out on the washing up, wondering how far she can push her complete lack of consideration and responsibility. She’s realizing there may not be a limit: Hannibal has never asked her to do any sort of household chore, or even to refrain from creating more chores from him.

The part of Abigail’s mind that keeps her awake at night, suggests that perhaps he doesn’t mind because he knows he won’t have to put up with it for much longer. And her skin itches for a kill.

“I’m going out,” she says, and her voice wavers a little with nerves. Besides that first attempt, she’s never actually gone out without Hannibal before. She could go running to the FBI. She’s pretty sure Hannibal knows she won’t.

Hannibal doesn’t object. He tilts his head up a little, interested.

“Be ready when I come back,” she says. “I don’t like to have to keep them talking for too long, once my dad is here. And I don’t like watching.” She feels a bit more confident, now that hasn’t forbid her from leaving. “That work for you?” she asks.

Hannibal sets to work filling the leftovers into glass containers. He’ll take one to his office with him for lunch, a little piece of normalcy that delights Abigail, that she wishes she could tell Will. Maybe she’ll be able to, some day.

“As you wish, Abigail,” he says, and she nods and heads upstairs to get dressed.


Her first dad hadn’t let her hunt this way. Abigail had wanted to, was sure that she’d be good at it, but she’d only asked the once, and he’d said absolutely not. She’d dropped it; it wasn’t really the kind of topic she wanted to discuss with him all that much.

She suspects Hannibal would have no such reservations. But she hadn’t asked him for permission, and he hasn’t asked how she planned to snare her victim. Perhaps he’ll ask her afterwards. She realizes that she wouldn’t mind telling him, at least if everything goes as planned. She wants to.

The nightclub she’s chosen is above a restaurant, and advertises itself as a “lesbian lounge.” Abigail feels jittery as she approaches, like someone’s going to ask for lesbian credentials as she enters and discover that her only sexual experience so far was making out with a greasy-haired boy whose name she no longer remembers behind the outhouse at summer camp. In reality, the only credential they ask for is her I.D., and Abigail has that. Hannibal had aged her up a few years in the passport he handed her before they’d headed to Europe, presumably to avoid the potential hassle of being legally responsible for a minor.

After that, it’s easy. She’d known it would be, because she’s hunting, and something primal and fundamental slots into place when she hunts. She hunts because she is under threat, but she also is a threat. She could do anything in this state; ordering a drink and making her way to the centre of a crowded dance floor is effortless.

By the time she catches the eye of a pretty, slightly tipsy blonde girl, Abigail is actually enjoying this: dancing by herself, feeling free and unwatched for the first time since the day her dad died. Since the day she met Hannibal. She sidles over, simply dancing beside the girl in a completely shameless way that she never would have attempted if she weren’t high on whatever feeling it is that hunting gives her.

Marina is an art student, and she’s just drunk enough for metaphors and endearments to spill out of her more easily than actual sentences. She perks up a bit when Abigail says, “Sorry— I just need to take a bit of a break— I just got back from Europe, I’m a bit jet lagged,” and they stumble off the dance floor to find somewhere to sit down. Marina grills Abigail on all the cities she had just visited, gushing over all the art that Hannibal had wanted to see. Abigail had refused, but he’d talked enough about what they were missing that she could pretend otherwise.

Marina is very pretty. She looks like the boundaries of her blur, like Abigail can’t figure out where her big eyes end and her cheekbones start, can’t tell if she’s sitting up straight or slouching dramatically. She has mascara smudged around her eyes and Abigail can’t tell if it’s intentional or not. Abigail keeps leaning in closer to try to piece her together, get a sense of the whole person in front of her, who keeps slipping away from view. Marina leans forward, too. She doesn’t look much like the Minnesota Shrike’s victims, but then, Abigail doesn’t either, any more.

Abigail doesn’t really remember much of the kiss behind the outhouse at camp, but she’s sure this one is better. Marina clearly has some idea of how to do this, keeps coming in and nipping at Abigail’s lips and then drawing away, making Abigail chase her.

Abigail blinks, swallows. Hunting. She puts a hand on Marina’s, tentatively. “Do you want to…” Abigail licks her lips. “I live with my parents. It kinda sucks. But they’re away right now.”

Marina just grins and grabs her hand, and Abigail feels a swell of triumph. She follows Marina out of the club, training behind like this whole thing was Marina’s idea, and she’s reminded of Hannibal. Hannibal, who always wants to be asked. Who can convince you to do anything and make it seem like your own idea.

She feels a stab of regret that she won’t be able to go any further with Marina, once they get home. She’d told Hannibal to be ready right away, and she’s certain he’ll oblige.

They take the subway, giggling at all the other drunk people and playing with each others’ fingers. Marina’s hand starts rubbing over her lower back even as Abigail fumbles with the front door, and then—

And then—

Abigail lies on her bed, not pulling the sheets down. She makes her bed every day, because that’s what she’s always done. Her messiness is just for the rest of the house; her bedroom is her refuge.

Marina had screamed once. Hannibal had put a stop to that quickly.

Abigail had wanted to stay and watch, a little bit. She’d never felt that before. With her first dad, she was always just glad that her part was over, and she could go hide in her room and pretend she didn’t know what was happening.

The basement in Hannibal’s house is far enough away from Abigail’s bedroom that she couldn’t even hear him moving around. There was no indication that someone was being butchered in the house. It’s peaceful. Abigail should love it.

This is the moment she’s been waiting for, chasing. The serenity she feels after she drags a sacrifice to the altar. Her peace of mind has always come at a high cost, but it’s always been worth it.

Abigail feels no peace now. She wishes she had Marina’s warm body in bed with her. She wishes she was watching what Hannibal was doing right now. She wishes this could feel like it used to.

She wishes she could believe that offering up this sacrifice had bought actually bought her any more time.