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The Waiting Song

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Will can see them moving around the wide spaces like ghosts.

Abigail and her bandaged head sitting on the sloping chair in front of the glass wall, looking out over the ocean while absently fiddling with the pages of a book.

Miriam, no doubt blindfolded and incapacitated, made to listen to words that would leave her wandering with eyes wide open and mouth wide shut.

He can see himself from his perch by the front door. He can see the ease that starts along his shoulders and slips down his back, transforms each footstep into elegant movement across the floor. The comfortable smile, the casual turn towards the voice that comes from the bedrooms.

Will can see the familiarity he carries in some other reality where things had gone drastically different. An openness he envies and a vulnerability that is not met with a knife, but with a gentle look and a warm touch.

Spread out in front of him he sees a safe house frozen in time that doubles as a window to another world. A world in which Hannibal doesn’t love with a particular brand of violence. One that would be easier for Will to live in, but far from perfect. He still plays a game he refuses to win, or else risk losing the last bits of good that still linger at the very bottom of his mind.

Taking a step deeper into the house sends a chill racing down his arms and up his neck, settling something warm and heavy in his chest. It feels a lot like coming back to a favorite place despite never having been there before. Disconcerting, but rich. Will figures it’s more to do with the company rather than the location itself.

He takes off his jacket and with it goes his armor. Unneeded weight once he thinks about it. What’s done is done and now he’s here, three odd years after that morning in Wolf Trap when he’d woken up to Hannibal sitting by his bed. Back then, he’d worn nothing but a well slept in shirt and boxers.

Currently, he’s wearing pants, which is a point in his favor.

Jacket draped over the back of a chair, he proceeds towards the piano before he can stop the whimsical and melancholic mood that spins around him like a web. He keeps coming face to face with the instrument, as well as other variations of it. Writing it off as a reminder of Hannibal’s presence in his life isn’t exactly right, given Will’s father had kept one in their old house since before Will was even born. The creaky old thing had served more as a countertop than an instrument, but it had been enough for Will to sit on the bench and hesitantly tap at its keys when he turned seven.

He's gotten better through the years, practicing on and off whenever he got the chance.

Rolling up the sleeves, Will takes to the bench and cracks his knuckles. Aware of Hannibal's presence somewhere in the house he hesitates, fingers hovering over his knee. He thinks for very long moments whether he should indulge in a brief melody or not. Although he has never heard Hannibal play, the reputation of his skill proceeds him.

He isn’t intimidated, and if he’s more than a little rusty, then good. Hannibal deserves at least a mild headache.

Fingers poised over the keys, his mind searches for familiar tunes. He discards the obvious choices, ignores anything classical that are too big for him to chew after having gone so long without practicing. In the end, he decides on a song that is already bleeding out before he’s made a conscious decision to play it.

The lulling rhythm is accompanied by a woman’s voice echoing in the corners of his childhood. The smell of salt and the feel of sunshine hot on his pale legs. The taste of root beer on his tongue.

Will refrains from humming along, allowing his energy to transfer from fingertip to key. He quickens the pace enough to make it jaunty before letting the piece lull again, nearly swaying along.

“Vets used to take to the docks when dad worked the boatyard in Biloxi,” Will says, catching sight of Hannibal out of the corner of his eye. “They would bring a radio and play old war songs.”

The image of Hannibal in a too large coat had been emblazoned on his brain for the past three years, along with the soft touches of heartbreak around his dark eyes. Then, it was the prison suit that haunted him every time he’d get back to the motel. Hannibal in anything that isn’t his sits wrong in Will’s senses.

This, finally, is right. Dressed down to a comfortable looking sweater and dark pants. Most definitely different, but right.

Hair still damp from the shower, he smells like Hannibal again. The same scent that reminded Will of an odd sense of peace associated to the safety of his office and the privacy of his home in Baltimore.

Hannibal must feel more like himself again, in his environment and fine fabric. The averagely played music must be a turn off, so he stops, flexing his fingers as he sets his hands back on his lap.

Maybe it’s the quiet atmosphere around them, the suspension of time and the warmth of a twisted sort of homecoming, but Will scoots over to one side of the bench. He doesn’t verbally extend the invitation, but Hannibal takes it.

Sitting this close it’s difficult to ignore the reality of what’s been done or what they’re waiting for. Miles south, Jack must be looking down at the bloodshed and asking himself why he continues to trust Will wherever Hannibal is concerned. He will still be holding on to a last line of hope, believing that Will has gone to finish the job.

Will stares at the knee that is nearly brushing his and wonders if he’ll be able to do it. He has too. By bullet or knife, Hannibal has to meet his end in the same way the Dragon must.

“It’s not a song meant for the piano,” Hannibal says, the same brightness he wore when opening the patrol car’s door permeating his words.

“Every tune can be changed to fit an instrument.” Will thumbs at the rich wood of the piano, debating whether or not he should shower as well. He feels unclean.

Hannibal picks up the same song, adding his own twist and toning it down until it sounds more like a lullaby than a war tune. Elegant fingers evoke a memory of birds, drowned and scorched, chewed and swallowed, bones and all.

A grip on the shoulder, the taking of his temperature, the prying away of a gun ready to shoot. Will remembers the caress along the side of his head as something colder and sharper slid along his abdomen. The same fingers that dug out a bullet in Florence, redressed him. The ones that carried him home through a snowy night.

Nothing between the two of them has ever been concrete. All feelings and emotions and truths warped and painted like surreal pieces of art that transcend time and reality itself. What rests between them is a constant that is outside of this realm, beyond physics and philosophy. To have that all stripped down and put into such a human word makes it far more real than Will would like to think about.

The man by his side is in love with him. That thought alone is more terrifying than any beast Will has and will continue to encounter. Hannibal loves with pure and unadulterated ferocity, with enough passion to drown and revive. To be on the receiving end of such a force of nature is equivalent to being the apple of God’s eye. It feels like all of the energy within the observable universe has decided to hone in on Will Graham, exploding stars in his eyes and birthing entire nebulae within his womb.

Marriage has done nothing to teach him about the type of intimacy that doesn’t involve gore and the cracking open of skulls both literally and figuratively. The intimacy he and Hannibal share, although pure and virtuous in comparison to its more carnal counterpart, leaves Will scrambling through the air for purchase. He longs for Hannibal, has been longing for him since the moment he first sat across from him in the office and was seen.

“It’s good to see you,” Will says, watching Hannibal’s hands stroke the keys with ease born from experience. “To be next to you.” No lies or games. If their clock is counting down, Will decides that their relationship has been an abstract form for too long. They’ve been Other for what feels like ages, and now it’s time to make them mortal again.

Hannibal shuts his eyes and Will takes the opportunity to steal a glance. He’s quick enough to see the small and unsteady intake of breath, the tiny quirk of his mouth. It’s an expression of pure pleasure, and Will would roll his eyes if he weren’t so enraptured by the emotion he’s able to cause in Hannibal.

The song stops on a discordant note, startling Will out of his reverie. He watches Hannibal stare out with his face unguarded, his suit and mask eroded past the point of usefulness. Here, he is painfully human, split wide open for Will to consume.

Killing Hannibal will result in Will killing himself. Like cutting off a lifeline. They are conjoined, irreparably and impossibly so.

Hannibal takes Will’s hand palm up, silently asking him to fan out his fingers. When he does, Hannibal begins tracing them with his own. From their tip to the center of his palm, he walks down Will’s fingers like tiny paths leading to a heartbeat. The caress is delicate and simple, the mirror opposite of everything Hannibal has ever done for him.

“Will the blue skies chase the dark clouds far away, Will?”

Will turns his body towards Hannibal, finally meeting his eyes. They’re fathomless as they reflect the last rays of the now setting sun, bathing them both in orange and gray.

He aches. Will can feel the heaviness in his limbs, the shiver that lights up his nerves while Hannibal explores his hand with a tenderness Will has only ever experienced once or twice in his forty odd years of life, but never quite like this.

He watches the worshipful touches delivered onto his hand, the almost shy prying and reverent exploration. Fingers slip between his, tracing lines, feeling the pulse at his wrist. It’s electrifying, and Will’s gut quivers for more. A stronger touch. A grip. For Hannibal’s hands to cover his entirely.

“Tell me you love me, Hannibal,” he says, just above a whisper. There are no lines in the sand left to cross. The Atlantic has washed away the last remaining ones.

Will isn’t expecting a startled reaction, and none comes. The only change on Hannibal’s face is the softening of his eyes and the naked adoration that touches his cheeks and mouth. It’s enough to leave Will breathless, more so than Hannibal’s words. “I love you, Will.”

Four simple words that serve as a checkpoint and the end of their beginning. The final sentence of a prologue to a story that may either be extremely short, or a long and nourishing one.

Will nods his head, accepting Hannibal for all that he is and all he has to offer.

The hand Hannibal holds is dropped, and Will immediately tenses when Hannibal leans forward. Instead of the kiss he’d been expecting for those two seconds, all Hannibal does is rest his head on Will’s shoulder and breathe.

The position is awkward for the both of them with the potential to become uncomfortable if they hold it for too long, but neither moves. Will keeps his hands on his own thighs and Hannibal places his on the edge of the bench, both too afraid to touch more than either is allowed. But it’s enough. It’s more than enough.

Will inhales the subtle scent of Hannibal’s shampoo, soaks up his heat and lets it settle along his skin. The weight, the proximity, the absence of a glass between them. No blood and no pain. Simply put, it feels good. More than good. It is exquisite.

He can feel the press of Hannibal’s nose against his neck, the tickle of his breath.

Will wants to melt into the touch, crawl into Hannibal’s skin and sleep for years. He’s home. At long last, after years of treading through mud and snow, through dry forests with trees that catch at his clothes and cut at his face, he’s home.

Hannibal finally moves away when the house has gone dark and the lights from the foyer automatically switch on. He looks different when he straightens up. Content. Will offers him a small smile that confirms that he’s all right. At this very moment, all is well.

“I’ll get us a drink.” The to celebrate goes unsaid, but Will can pick it up clear as day. “Is there anything you’d prefer?”

He watches Hannibal’s back as he heads for the kitchen, standing tall and proud and with a nearly imperceptible hint of satisfaction touching his step. They’re something different now. Something pure and beautiful.

“I trust your tastes,” Will says, standing up from the bench and walking up to the glass. The moon hangs fat and bright, illuminating the slowly crawling clouds that make shapes against the darkness of the sky. “Surprise me.”