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incipit vita nova

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“In that part of the book of my memory before which little can be read, there is a heading, which says: ‘Incipit vita nova: Here begins the new life’.” —Dante Alighieri

“We’re going to have to work on your impulse control,” Hannibal says, gazing down at the arterial spray streaked across his fingers.

There’s blood dripping from Will’s hand, splashed against his brow in warm rivulets that stop just before they reach his lashes. His heart rate only picks up when he meets Hannibal’s eyes.

“You knew this would happen.” Will lets the knife fall from his hand, clattering to the ground. “Don’t pretend otherwise.”

“Desires and expectations, my love.”

Will considers wiping his hand clean against his pant leg, decides instead to let it be. “You were flirting,” he says, crossing to the head of the table, looming over Hannibal where he sits.

“I were merely being polite.”

“Far too receptive.” Will blinks, and for a moment his shadow cast across the patio spreads and flaps its massive wings. “He touched you. Again.”

“Is that all it takes?” Hannibal’s mouth twitches with a smile, adoration spilling from his eyes. “Will you kill everyone that touches me?”

Will growls, reaching down to fist the front of Hannibal’s shirt.

“First guest in our new home,” Will says, pulling onions from the fridge.

“The first of many, I hope.” Hannibal smiles, tying his apron strings.

“A bit risky though, don’t you think?” Will places the onions on the cutting board. “He’s American.”

“I saw no sign of recognition in his face,” Hannibal says. “We both look quite different now. And are presumed dead, after all.”

“Yeah, well, I know Jack Crawford. Presumed dead or not, the first whisper of anyone vaguely resembling either of us and he’ll be on our doorstep.”

“So let him come.”

“You’re not worried?” Will furrows his brow. “Not even a little?”

“Jack Crawford only caught me because I allowed myself to be caught.”

“You turned yourself in,” Will reminds him.

“I did. I have one weakness in this life.” Hannibal gazes at him, smiling softly. “And that weakness is standing in my kitchen, preparing to chop onions without an apron on.”

Will huffs out a laugh, snatching his apron from the peg on the wall and fetching a knife. “We can’t take on the whole world,” he says.

“Together, we just might.” Hannibal rounds the counter, tying Will’s apron, pressing their bodies together when he’s through. “We have taken all the necessary precautions. For now, let’s just focus on our evening.”

“How do you see this evening going exactly?”

“An easy meal with a new friend,” Hannibal says. “An opportunity for something more.”

Will doesn’t press Hannibal on his definition of more, leaning back into the embrace as his knife slices into the onion.

“Just like this,” Hannibal’s voice rumbles in Will’s ear, guiding the knife in his hand. “Dice it very finely.”

“Hannibal,” Will says, hand going still. “I think I can chop onions just fine on my own.”

“I want to make sure everything is perfect for our guest.”

“Right.” Will huffs out a laugh. “If I didn’t know better I’d say you were trying to ruin this particular meal.”

“I’m shocked you would even suggest it.”

“I can’t concentrate when you’re…” The knife clanks against the cutting board as Hannibal begins planting a trail of kisses down Will’s neck. “Hannibal…”

“I’m sorry, Will,” Hannibal says, nuzzling against Will’s cheek, hands trailing up the front of his shirt. “Would you like me to stop?”

“No,” Will sighs, pushing Hannibal’s hands away. “But dinner is going to consist of half a diced onion and raw prawns if you don’t.”

“This is a game to you,” Will says, tugging at Hannibal’s shirt, bending down to gaze into the black pools of his eyes. “You’re reckless.”

“Says the man who just sliced open our dinner guest.” Hannibal is beaming with a quiet sense of pride.

“I was provoked.” Will’s head is swimming as he releases his grip on Hannibal’s shirt, pushing him back down into his chair.

“He was an innocent man.”

“He was…” Will considers his words a moment. “Very discourteous.”

“Perhaps you and I don’t have very different motivations after all,” Hannibal says. “How did you feel when he touched me at the market?”

“I envisioned his bones snapping like twigs,” Will says through gritted teeth. “But I did not intend to kill him. Not like this.”

“Not consciously,” Hannibal says. “We are creatures of instinct and action, our own intent often unknown even to us until after we have acted.”

“Do you value what we have here?”

“I do. Very much.”

“And you would risk it all for curiosity's sake.”

“If I am to blame for your actions, are you to blame for mine?” Hannibal asks, calm and clear as the evening sky. “Or is no one to blame? This ended how it always would. Fate and circumstance.”

Will eyes the blood pooling on the table, Marcus face-down in his plate. “Come here,” he says, roughly tugging at Hannibal’s arm. “I want you on your knees.”

Will leaves Hannibal to finishing the prep work, wandering out into the yard and gazing through the trees to the ocean beyond. The water is quiet and still, smooth surface reflecting the sun like glass. Will has to fight the urge to run as fast as his legs will carry him, the urge to crash against the sea like a great tidal wave, sending ripples out into the calm.

He gathers flowers around the yard, plucking at fuschia as it drips like blood from its branches. He snips white roses, bringing the blooms up to his nose and inhaling deep. He turns back toward the house, sun in his eyes, just in time to see Hannibal watching him from inside.

Hannibal steps out onto the patio as Will approaches. “Our guest will be arriving soon,” he says. “Why don’t you set the table?”

Will has his belt worked loose before Hannibal’s knees have even hit the ground. He goes down without a fight, hunger in his eyes as Will positions him. The blood on Will’s hands is drying tight against his skin as he tilts Hannibal’s chin up to meet his eyes.

“Is this a conscious decision?” Hannibal asks, helping Will undo his fly. “Or are we acting purely on instinct?”

“I’m consciously giving into my instincts,” Will says, shoving his pants and underwear down below the swell of his ass with Hannibal’s assistance. He grips his aching cock, dragging it across the seam of Hannibal’s lips. “Open.”

Hannibal opens wide, tongue lapping at the underside of Will’s length as Will presses into the intoxicating warmth of his mouth. Will grips the back of Hannibal’s head, fingers threaded in his hair as the head of his cock nudges into Hannibal’s throat.

“It’s what you want, isn’t it?” A growl rips from Will’s chest. His thrusts are erratic as Hannibal tries his best to open to the sudden intrusion. “For me to tear everyone apart who lays a hand on you?” Will slips from Hannibal’s lips, but Hannibal’s hands are on him in an instant, guiding him back into his hungry mouth. “Fuck, Hannibal,” his lip curls in a snarl. “I am not going to be your attack dog.”

Hannibal digs his fingers into the flesh of Will’s ass, tears soaking his lashes as he swallows him down. Will steadies his hips for a moment, allowing Hannibal to do all the work, closing his eyes and digging his fingers into Hannibal’s scalp as he chokes himself on Will’s hard length.

“That’s enough,” Will says, opening his eyes. “Don’t move. Just let me.” He swats Hannibal’s hands away, gripping the sides of his face and gliding into the tight embrace of his throat. Will isn’t about to pretend this is anything but what he knows it to be: an unabashed display of dominance.

“You would do anything I asked of you. Anything. I could kill you right now and you wouldn’t put up a fight,” Will continues, hips snapping as he fucks Hannibal’s mouth at a relentless pace. “So here’s how it’s going to be: No more games, Hannibal. None.”

Will grunts, orgasm licking at his spine. He pulls out just in time to streak hot spurts all over Hannibal’s face, marking him. Hannibal’s chest heaves with his ragged breathing, tongue darting out to lap at every drop of Will’s release.

“If we do this,” Will breathes out, falling to his knees, taking Hannibal’s face in his hands. “We do this together.”

Will licks into Hannibal’s mouth, reaching down to grope at the front of his pants, expecting to find him rock hard. Instead, Hannibal is soft beneath his hand, the fabric between them completely soaked through. He’s come all over himself, untouched, pulled over the edge by nothing more than Will’s overwhelming realization of his own power and control.

“Pork and tamarind glazed prawns with quinoa tabbouleh,” Hannibal says, skillfully placing their plates on the table. He’s dressed more casually than he ever would have for dinner years ago: slacks and a crisp, white shirt, buttons undone at the throat, sleeves rolled up to expose the lean muscles of his forearms.

“Looks incredible,” Marcus says, beaming at Hannibal. “Tell me, Elias, are you a chef?”

“In another life, I was,” Hannibal says. taking his seat. “Now I’m mostly retired. My husband is the only one to enjoy my particular set of skills these days.”

“And I bet he does.” Marcus shoots Will a look that borders on flirtation. Or a challenge. “I don’t mean to pry but, you say you’re married…” his eyes flick back and forth between their hands. “I don’t see any rings.”

“Are rings a requirement for marriage?” Will asks, making no attempt to hide his annoyance.

“Darling,” Hannibal squeezes his knee beneath the table. “It’s quite alright. We’re newlyweds. Our rings are being sized at the moment.”

“I shouldn’t have pried” Marcus laughs, and Will can feel the nervous energy radiating from across the table. “My curiosity always gets the best of me.”

When Marcus reaches over to place his hand atop Hannibal’s as he speaks, Will feels his fingers twitch reflexively against his knife on the table.

Will collapses beside Hannibal in bed, exhausted to the bone. “Should we wear rings?” he asks, settling in against Hannibal’s chest in the soft glow of the bedside lamp.

“If it’s important to you.”

“I think it is,” Will says. “I know we can never do anything official, but…”

“We belong to each other in every way that counts,” Hannibal says, pressing a kiss to the top of Will’s head. “And I’m glad that you feel that way. I wasn’t lying to our guest.”

Will gazes up at him, smiling. “Oh?”

“Our rings will be ready to pick up tomorrow,” Hannibal says. “I wanted to surprise you.”

“After this one,” Will says. “No more surprises.”

“I will do my best,” Hannibal agrees. “If you promise me one thing.”

“Yes?”

“That you will continue to always surprise me.”