“I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this, Will. It means a great deal to me.”
“It's no trouble. I saw far too much of this when I was a cop,” Will shrugs, refusing to fidget as he sits in the passenger seat of Hannibal's Bentley.
The request itself wasn't unusual; Will had been a cop, after all, and Hannibal's friend had been assaulted but was unsure how to proceed, unsure if he even should press charges. What was unusual was seeing Hannibal twitch, break eye contact, shift from foot to foot as he explained that he and his friend had a rather unorthodox relationship and that Will should expect their interactions accordingly.
A Dominant. That's what Hannibal was, in his personal life. His friend was a submissive. Hannibal's submissive. Will's therapist’s submissive. The therapist he's uncomfortably attracted to.
Will doesn't admit that he would've gone regardless of reasons simply to meet the man that has Hannibal's affections. The idea that Hannibal even has affections outside of expensive wine and even more expensive food is astonishing to Will, affections in the shape of a man, at that. But, no, he's merely going as a favor to a friend.
“Are you alright?” Will asks, remembering that this is Hannibal's friend. Maybe he's not handling it well.
“I will be, once I assess the damage,” Hannibal replies, cool tone and composed. “There are too many people in our community that masquerade as competent Tops, as an excuse to abuse. I had hoped Peter would never encounter one.”
“But I thought-” Will cuts himself off, heat rising to his cheeks as he inwardly curses his inability to keep his damned mouth shut. “Sorry, it's none of my business."
“You may ask anything you like, Will,” Hannibal says easily. “I'll tell you if I'm uncomfortable answering.”
And if that didn't open the floodgates on Will's never ending curiosity. Rather than asking things about rules, beatings, sex, Will sticks with his original inquiry.
“I- I know very little about… that, but you said he was your submissive so I assumed- are the two of you-”
Will nearly blows a kiss to the heavens when Hannibal, gracefully, of course, interprets and then interrupts his rambling.
“Peter and I are not exclusive. He entertains other Dominants, and I entertain other submissives. Though, I trained him, so he feels a particular fondness for me, as I still feel for the Dominant that taught me. In truth, he and I haven't had anything outside of formalities in many months, now.”
“Oh,” Will responds dumbly, looking down to pick at his thumbnail.
“I can all but feel your need to interrogate me,” Hannibal says, but Will knows it's teasing, can hear the smile in Hannibal's voice.
“Curiosity about the unknown,” Will lies, because it's so much more than just that. Will doesn't think about what it is, though. Not yet.
Later, when he's alone, Hannibal an hour away and a safe distance from Will's lack of self control, he'll think about all the things he's seen once or thirty times on websites he certainly doesn't have bookmarked. Put Hannibal in place of the man in leather, but still holding the whip-belt-flogger and Will will be the man strapped-tied-bolted to the table, but not begging it to stop.
He's been half hard most of the ride but he won't think about that, either. Not until later.
Will blinks when the car stops, hoping he wasn't in his head and silent for too long. The apartment complex is a bit worn, but not dilapidated. A ride to the fourth floor and then Hannibal is balancing soup-filled Tupperware and sorting through his key ring to unlock the door.
He has a key. Will clears his throat.
“Peter?” Hannibal calls as they step inside.
It's only slightly smaller than a studio, the kitchen being walled off from the rest, and cleaner than Will's home.
On the couch is a huddle of blankets, messy blonde hair and a black eye. His lip is split, his left cheek is purple, and Will knows the swelling will only be worse tomorrow.
“Hi, Sir,” the boy -because that's what he is, a boy, mid twenties, painfully slender frame and bright blue, red-rimmed eyes- whispers.
He's pretty, Will thinks, acidic and bitter for reasons he doesn't want to contemplate.
Hannibal walks to him, somewhat briskly, total silence as he kneels in front of the shaking boy, food discarded to the side table. Hannibal's fingers press to broken lips, so lightly, Will feels like he should look away. Careful hands pull the blanket from the boy's bare shoulders, and Will sees more bruises, a few cuts.
Hannibal still hasn't spoken, and Peter is looking down at him with watery eyes. Will watches Hannibal's jaw work, obvious tension as he pulls the blanket back up, lifts his eyes and finally speaks, voice soft but holding a note of authority Will has never heard from him. Will doesn't shiver.
“Hello, boy. Have you eaten?”
Peter shakes his head, curls bouncing and Will can see blood streaking through them. He hasn't showered. The officer in him remembers that's a good thing.
“No, Sir, I'm sorry. I know your schedule for me but I ju-"
“Hush,” Hannibal says fondly, pushing the boy’s hair out of his eyes as he stands. “I've brought soup, but I only mean for you to eat a portion, if you can. But you know I'll expect you to eat something before the day is out."
“Yes, Sir, I promise,” he nods, then with a fresh round of tears, he slides to his knees at Hannibal's feet and rests his head on Hannibal's thigh, fingers gripping Hannibal's slacks. “I'm so happy you're here, Sir, I had no idea what he was gonna- he was vetted, I swear, I checked just like you taught me, and Brantley said he seemed like a good guy but then he-”
He's in only boxer briefs, and nearly every inch of his pale skin is marked in one way or another.
In one fluid motion, Hannibal has the boy in his arms, cradling him bridal style as he takes the seat the boy- Peter, just left, shushing him gently.
Will does look away this time, the intimacy striking his core, a pang of jealousy and then a surge of disgust for himself. The- Peter has been brutalized, and all Will has felt is envy toward him. It's not his fault that Will has always become attached to people and things and ideas too quickly, too intensely and without reciprocation.
“This is my friend, Will. He was a police officer. I'd like you to talk to him.”
Will turns back when he hears his name, sees Peter has been shifted from Hannibal's lap to curl into his side, tears subsided once more.
“Hello, Peter,” Will says softly, slipping into the mindset he'd put away years ago, still easy enough to recall. “I'm sorry to be meeting you this way. Can you tell me what happened?"
The story is much the same as all the others Will has heard, save for the finer details. They'd met at the club Peter -and, also, apparently, Hannibal- frequents, then came back to Peter's apartment. Originally, things were fine, then Tobias, or so the man called himself, tied Peter to the bed -acceptable, Will has to remind himself- and took a knife to him, first. He ignored Peter's safeword, and then the many hours of Peter crying for help. The knife gave way to a belt, and then eventually, fists, before Tobias raped Peter, with no protection. He cut the ropes and left Peter in his own blood.
By the time Peter stops, he's crying again and Hannibal has gone inhumanly still, expression blank as he stares straight ahead.
Peter notices the change, too, and gently touches Hannibal's cheek, frowning. “Sir?”
Hannibal's eyes fall shut as he exhales slowly, returning to a human posture then looking down at Peter. “Stop worrying about me, boy, that's my job.”
The tone of Hannibal's voice, unable to be called anything but irrevocably loving, makes Will's chest tight. More so when Hannibal's voice is back to friendly when he looks at Will.
“Your counsel is greatly appreciated, here, Will. What steps should we take? Peter is concerned that, given our lifestyle, nothing can, or rather, will be done.”
Will understands, and if they'd been in Louisiana, he'd be equally concerned. Thankfully, they're not.
“Peter, I think you should press charges. It was very clear you didn't consent to this. You mentioned him being vetted?"
“Yes, Sir- ah, sorry, habit,” he blushes, and Will thinks his cheeks feel a bit hotter, too. “Yeah, the club runs background checks on everyone before giving them membership."
“Then his name would be on file. Which means one of three things: someone at the club let him slip through, it's not his real identity, or he doesn't think what he did was wrong and had no reason to care that his information is available. There's the slight possibility he's just never been caught, but I can tell you this definitely isn't the first time he's done this.”
Peter's eyes well again and he buries his face in Hannibal's chest. Hannibal tightens his arms around him and murmurs things too low for Will to hear.
Gently, and after Peter has calmed again, Will continues. “You haven't showered, which is extremely helpful, but every minute counts.”
“Everyone will know,” Peter whispers, avoiding eye contact. “Everyone will know that I let this happen to-”
“You didn't allow anything, Peter,” Hannibal interrupts firmly, tipping Peter's head back to look into his eyes. “You didn't let him. This despicable creature forced, and that is no fault of yours.”
“He'll do it again, Peter,” Will says softly, honestly. “He'll keep doing it until he's caught.”
This part always made Will feel a little uneasy. It's essentially guilt-tripping a victim, playing to the horror of their trauma being inflicted on someone else. Will hates putting that level of responsibility on anyone, but that doesn't make it less true.
“Let me take you to the police station,” Hannibal implores, an undercurrent of desperation. “Please. I'll stay with you the entire time."
After a painfully long moment, Peter's nods, clinging tighter to Hannibal.
“It's better to call them,” Will interjects. “They'll need to look at the- at the bed, the sheets. For evidence. There's going to be a lot of questions, Peter, some really invasive, but it's only to help you, okay?”
He just barely stopped himself from saying crime scene, and is thankful the rest came out reassuringly, but Peter gulps at the realization, anyway.
Once the call is made, Hannibal feeds -literally, hand feeds, oh, my God- Peter some of the soup and then rewraps the blankets around him. The afternoon buzzes by for Will rather quickly, officer after officer after investigator pouring in and taking pictures and gathering fabrics. Will fills them in as much as he can, essentially shop talk in hopes of easing some of Peter's burden. Hannibal holds Peter the entire time, but stares at Will often, an unreadable expression on his face. When they tell them that Peter needs to have a rape kit done, Hannibal holds him tighter.
“I'll drive you,” Hannibal tells Peter, no room for question. “Let's get you dressed.”
Will walks out into the hallway of the complex and calls himself a cab, sagging against the wall. He's mentally exhausted, drained from the flurry of emotions he's felt all day and slipping back and forth from the mindset of Hannibal's submissive to that of a rapist. Rather than going back inside and interrupting, he types out a quick text to Hannibal, saying that he was going home and if Peter needs anything at all, or if Hannibal does, to call.
If you need anything. Will meant it, and then felt embarrassed at all the ways he meant it, while Hannibal would just assume he'd meant a sympathetic ear.
Before Will can make it to the elevator, he hears his name being called and turns to see Hannibal jogging to catch up with him.
As soon as he close enough, Hannibal pulls him into a hug. It's not awkward, like every other time Will has been hugged. Hannibal smells like masculinity and lavender and power as he holds tight just long enough for Will to finally leave behind shock and return the embrace.
“Thank you,” Hannibal says heavily after he's pulled back, oblivious to how cold Will feels now. “I could not have convinced him without your presence. I can see now that you were an amazing officer.”
Will blushes, curses silently at the blush, and looks down, shuffling as he thinks about how strong Hannibal's arms felt, then forces the thought away entirely.
“Thanks. It's- really, I'm glad I could help.”
“Peter is relocating to his parent's home upstate for the time being. I'm driving him up there tomorrow, but I'd love to cook dinner for you tomorrow night. A token of my appreciation.”
Will swallows and nods, then swallows again when Hannibal smiles in that not-really-a-smile-but-his-eyes-do-that-thing way, and stares dumbly at Hannibal's retreating back.
He'll think about the hug later, too.