Something in the Way of Things

by sugargroupie

PG, 2519 words

Summary: tomorrow, she'll help a vampire regain his life instead of taking it away.

Disclaimer: These characters are the creation of others and not my own.

Notes: written for researchminion for Yuletide, who requested back story on Abby helping Hannibal turn back human. This is most definitely AU, and a very loose interpretation of the request. Spoilers are for the first and third movies only. Many thanks to Ladyjax for beta services.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Something in the way of things
Something that will quit and won't start
Something you know but can't stand
Can't know get along with
Like death

~The Roots

The second time Abigail Whistler sets eyes on Dr. Karen Jenson, it's raining.

The downpour has tapered down to a drizzle, leaving behind thick and humid air that clings to her bare arms and neck. Abby sighs heavily, shifting from one foot to the other and presses her back more firmly against the wall.

She makes a disgruntled sound of displeasure at her own lack of patience. It's been a long time since she's been this ill-at-ease with sitting still. Abby has always preferred to take some kind of action, to be in the thick of things. Balance can always be found in the midst of chaos.

It sounds like metaphysical bullshit straight out of a book of proverbs, but Abby believes it. In her line of work she takes little nuggets of wisdom wherever she can get them.

Her line of work is exactly why she's standing outside under a protective awning, waiting for the chance to follow a woman she's read about, but has only seen once.

(Before, she'd walked into the hospital with the intent of taking her request to the good doctor where she worked. Naive, Abby realized, to think that they'd have a conversation about vampires out in the open. That Dr. Jenson wouldn't just dismiss her and then she'd be shit out of luck. She'd caught a side view of the doctor - pristine white lab coat, long dark hair and skin - before getting one of the nurses to confirm the other woman's identity. Then she'd slipped out of the double doors unnoticed, and prepared to wait.)

Abby waits because the situation isn't just about her. She waits because for whatever reason she's decided to befriend a vampire, and she's taken it upon herself to help him. To turn him back human.

Hannibal King calls her Whistler; somewhere deep down she can appreciate the irony.

Abby glances up at the tall building across the street, rows of windows lit up like yellow teeth. Somewhere in the lower levels is the good doctor her father had spent more than a few pages going on about; about a cure, and Blade, and never having enough time.

It occurs to her that the only legacy her father ever left her was that the things that go bump in the night have sharp teeth and bloodlust. And the only way to kill them is by being resourceful and having a little bloodlust of your own.

Staring at the worn notebook in her hand, Abby purses her lips. Before she can form her next thought she catches a familiar face across the street. The lab coat is replaced by a thin sweater, and a black umbrella is used to deflect the sprinkles of water as it slowly transforms into fat drops of rain.

Abby slips on a light jacket, throws the hood over her head and quickly crosses the street. She makes sure to keep a few paces behind Dr. Jenson, keeps count of the rhythmic tap-tap of the doctor's heels against wet pavement.

The sun is setting, and any other time Abby would be gearing up to go hunting. As she follows the doctor around a corner and down another two blocks, Abby thinks this is close enough. She is hunting, in a way, except this time she doesn't expect the encounter to end in a spray of ashes.

Gripping the hilt of her gun in reassurance, Abby walks faster, shortening the distance herself and Dr. Jenson.

She wants to be ready just in case a vamp tries for a surprise ambush. It's only been a day, but she's itching for a kill.


Karen Jenson's apartment building looks like any other with hideous, abstract art adorning the lobby walls and stuffed chairs that look semi-comfortable. Abby joins the small group of tenants waiting at the elevator, separated from Karen by two people as she stares at the back of the doctor's head. She makes her way to the back of the car as they file inside, sweeping the hood from her head with a deep breath. Karen is to her right, exchanging a few words with the guy standing in front of Abby.

He's tall, with short-cropped hair that tapers off at the base of his neck. Abby's eyes flit back and forth between the two as she sucks on her bottom lip, staring at the marking on the man's exposed skin.

A fucking familiar.

He gets off on the third floor, and Abby releases a sigh of relief. One less problem to deal with.

Soon only she and Karen remain, and she figures it's no time like the present to introduce herself. She slams her hand against the emergency button and the car jerks to a halt. The doctor braces herself against the wall through the movement and swings her head to look at Abby.

"What the hell?" she snaps. Abby can't blame her.

Abby shifts from one foot to the other, but otherwise doesn't move. "You're Dr. Karen Jenson, right?"

Karen's fingers tighten at her sides, but her face is calm. "Who wants to know?"

Abby just stares because the answer is obvious. "I need your help. My name's Whistler."

Silence. Abby was expecting immediate denial.

"Whistler?" Karen asks softly. "I know, knew a Whistler, and unless you've undergone some serious changes in the last few years you're not him."

"He was my father," Abby admits.


"Out of wedlock," Abby says flatly. "He used to keep a journal. Did you know that?" If Karen is surprised by the change of subject, it doesn't register at all on her face.

"No, but I'm not surprised." Karen rolls her eyes and changes the subject again. "Why should I believe you're who you say you are?"

"Because of this," Abby says, holding up a battered notebook. She tosses it to Karen, who catches it with both hands. "And because I know how much you've helped Blade. You've kept yourself under the radar. I'm impressed."

Karen thumbs through the crinkled pages, murmurs a "thanks," that's completely devoid of sarcasm at the backhanded compliment. Her attention is already lost amidst Whistler's scribbling.

"Have you seen Blade lately?" Karen furrows her brow but doesn't look up from the notebook.

Abby has never met the man they call Daywalker, but she's heard plenty of stories. Whistler talked about him like he was the second coming, or a vampire's worst nightmare. "I... I never met him. Never expected to meet you either, so that could change."

Karen nods, finally tearing her gaze away from her new bounty. "I bet he doesn't know about you either."

The elevator bleats in protest from being suspended for so long, preventing Abby from answering. Karen hits the button to her floor and the car continues its ascent.

"I believe you, for now. We can talk in my apartment about why you've hunted me down."

Abby holds the other woman's stare until Karen shrugs. "There are still too many familiars in this building for my comfort. You never know who's listening."

The admission takes Abby by surprise, and it must show on her face because Karen smiles wanly. "What? I'm not naive. I wouldn't have lasted this long unless I knew how to take care of myself. I haven't only been working on a cure."

Abby arches one brow. "Like I said, I'm impressed."

"So was your father."

A short nod is all Abby can offer. She's not used to talking about her dead father to someone other than herself. "What about Blade?"

Karen snorts as the elevator comes to a stop on her floor. "Blade liked to pretend he was never impressed, but I know better now."


Abby paces the length of the window in Karen's living room, tapping her fingers against her thigh in an impatient rhythm. She'd wasted no time explaining her reasons for tracking Karen down, and now she waits on an answer.

It feels like minutes but is only seconds before Karen says slowly, "And he's willing to take the treatment?"

Abby turns to face the other woman sitting at her kitchen table, placing her hands on her hips as she nods. "He's all for it, doctor. Pinocchio wants to be a real live boy."

"Again, you mean," Karen amends, meeting Abby's gaze.

Abby resumes her pacing in lieu of responding. "So, are we gonna do this?"

Karen sits back in her chair and sighs. "I'm assuming you didn't track me down just to turn some random vampire for kicks. He must be important to you."

Abby flattens her mouth in annoyance, responds tightly, "No offense doc, but I don't need to be psycho-analyzed. My reasons are between me and him." Truthfully, Abby's still trying to make sense of it in her head. She supposes it has to do with Hannibal refusing to feed on humans, seeing how much pain the effort costs him. She's still not sure why he made the decision, but she suspects it has Danica written all over it.

Relenting, Karen smirks, "All right Whistler." Like it's an inside joke and Abby is the punch line.

Abby hates weak ass jokes that nobody is supposed to get.

Karen scribbles something on a blank notepad on the table. She moves towards Abby, holding out the sheet of paper which Abby immediately grabs. "Bring your friend to my lab at this address as soon as it's safe for him to be out."

Glancing at the address briefly, Abby folds it neatly before putting it away in her pocket. "Thanks, we'll be there."

She leaves shortly after, suddenly anxious to feel the damp, humid air on her skin once more, maybe do a little hunting before the night is over.

And tomorrow... tomorrow, she'll help a vampire regain his life instead of taking it away.


At nightfall, Abby knocks on a steel door and waits with King hunched over against a nearby wall. Karen's lab is on the backend of an old warehouse a few blocks away from her apartment. Abby figures she picked this spot because it doesn't have windows. She breathes a little easier believing Dr. Jenson has her lab here for this specific reason.

Soon the door creaks open and Karen sticks her head out. "Come on in," she commands, holding the door ajar while Abby helps Hannibal inside.

Karen seems to sense that Abby won't make it having to half carry Hannibal down the hall to her lab, so she lays a gentle hand on Abby's shoulder. "Wait here, I'll be right back."

Abby only nods, and a minute later Karen returns with a gurney. They heft Hannibal on the flat surface and wheel him down a brightly lit corridor. The walls are off-white, and Abby attributes it to the brightness of the fluorescent lights. When she turns her gaze to Karen, the woman shrugs sheepishly. "I like a lot of light. When I was bitten, it was in a poorly lit hallway of the hospital. I want to see those bastards coming."

Abby lets out a slow breath. "Yeah," she replies, cringing at the inadequate response. What do you say to that?

Karen turns the gurney left, and they enter a small room furnished with a steel table and a black reclining chair. There are leather straps on the chair's arms and legs, and another longer strap hanging at the back.

"I've done this before," Karen reminds her needlessly.

Abby refrains from asking her how many times.

Hannibal moans, dragging Abby's attention to his sickly pale skin and sunken eyes. She swallows harshly. "Can we get on with this?"

Karen is already nodding as she positions the chair. "Help me get him over here. Strap him in tightly." She meets Abby's eyes over Hannibal's prostrate body. "He's going to struggle, so the bindings need to be tight," she reiterates.

"Got it."

They quickly bind his arms and legs, and Karen leaves Abby and Hannibal alone to make preparations for the cure. Abby leans over Hannibal, watches as he blinks hard and opens his mouth as if to speak, but no sound comes out. Abby's never been one to offer empty platitudes so she simply lets her hand hover over his shoulder; can never quite bring herself to touch his cold skin.

A soft-spoken question interrupts her musing. "Are we ready?"

Abby waves Karen in, immediately noticing the long needle in the doctor's hand.

"What's his name?" Karen asks, removing the cap from the needle, exchanging it for a rubber mouth guard from the pocket of her lab coat.

Abby hesitates. She's not sure why she kept Hannibal's identity a secret, always referring to him as friend or vampire. "Hannibal King," she says finally. Karen hands her the mouth guard and Abby gingerly places it between Hannibal's dry lips.

Karen then turns her entire focus on Hannibal, leaning into his line of sight as she speaks. "Hannibal? My name is Dr. Karen Jenson. I'm going to inject you with a retrovirus that will rewrite your DNA. It's going to turn you back human." When Hannibal nods slightly she continues. "It's gonna hurt, and there's nothing I can do about the pain."

The needle slides cleanly into Hannibal's neck, and for a while Abby thinks the apprehensive tension weighing on her shoulders is for nothing. Then Hannibal's body bows up from the chair, the straps cutting into his skin from the force. He grunts and releases a low keening noise that she's never heard from him, from any other vampire before. He grimaces as his body continues to convulse, and Abby balls her hands into tight fists at her sides. She can do nothing but watch.

As if sensing Abby's unease, Karen says, "They eventually pass out from the pain. I can't give him a sedative, but being unconscious is the next best thing." She sighs, gives Abby a considering look. "He has a rough couple of days ahead of him, Whistler. It's not pretty to watch."

Abby shakes her head. "It doesn't matter, I'll be here," she murmurs, feeling the heaviness of Karen's gaze at her words.

"All right," the other woman says gently, "I'll be around for a while. Yell if you need me."


Karen is right about Hannibal passing out from the pain. He remains unconscious for two days, only to waken on the third vomiting blood. It's messy and fitting and fucking ridiculous, and for the first time Abby thinks that Hannibal's strength has nothing to do with his vampirism. She can't imagine the aftertaste of blood leaving his mouth any time soon.

Abby cringes as he puts his gag reflex through its paces.


On the fifth day, Karen exposes Hannibal's arms and legs to UV rays. Abby sighs heavily when his skin remains unblemished. Karen smiles widely for the first time since they've met, and Abby's face feels strange as she returns the gesture. She's felt giddiness and pleasure, but this sense of accomplishment is a new thing. For once, Abby wants to stand still and take in this moment; to savor Hannibal's humanity.

She can go hunting tomorrow.


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