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Don't Look Away (This Time)

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“Hannibal,” Will gasped, surprised by the desperate edge in his voice, flinching quietly at his own show of weakness. “Hannibal,” he growled again, reaching out his hand towards his anchor – his paddle.

The doctor knelt down next to Will’s body, hands finding their way to the wound in Will’s side, staunching the ever present flow of blood, admiring the way it covered his own pale fingers. He would have smiled at the sight, if Will wasn’t meekly reaching out for him, seeking comfort, reassurances, lies.

When he caught sight of the absolutely terrified look on Will’s face, his breath caught in his throat, though he didn’t make a sound. His own fascination could wait, because this was Will, and a protective rush surged through his body, the unrestrainable urge to comfort and safeguard this utterly unique, fascinating, broken creature.

Hannibal pressed his hands against the gunshot wound a little more firmly, Will couldn’t die, not until he’d had time to dissect him, to pick him apart and see how the cogs in his head fit together, how they turned persistently even when they should have long since stopped functioning.

He wasn’t going to lie, he had fantasized about the empath’s demise, and yet, now that he was confronted with the reality of it, he realized that this was, at least for now, the last thing he wanted.

“Will,” Hannibal growled, “Stay with me.” His voice was thick and deadly, and Will smiled slightly, lips twitching with fondness.

“Whatever you s-say…” he coughed, a thin film of blood coating his lips – drawing in Hannibal’s attention, “…doctor.”

Dr. Lecter smiled, eyes still glued to Will’s lips, a hunger stirring within him that he couldn’t define. It wasn’t lust – for sex or death – it was simply a clawing desire that rose from within the pit of his stomach. An undeniable craving to cradle the man lying before him, weak and wasting away, in his arms and make sure that not a single soul could take him, or harm him, or break him – except for himself.

“Will, listen to me,” his voice rumbled, a demand for attention that the lecturer could not deny, “the ambulance is on it’s way, Jack’s been notified, just keep your eyes open,” he increased the pressure he was applying as Will’s eyelids fluttered closed, forcing them open again with a shock of pain, “Just look at me, focus on me.”

And Will did. He opened his eyes, staring directly into the doctor’s, ignoring every muscle in his body that squirmed, writhed, and screamed at him to break eye contact. He just kept staring, looking into the dark, rich irises that had never looked warm, and still didn’t. Yet, somehow, impossibly, they looked fond. They looked…slightly desperate. And Will wanted to know why, why Hannibal even cared, why he was here at all. They weren’t friends, not really. Mutual respect, maybe?

Dr. Lecter stared right back, “Guess you can make eye contact after all,” he commented – not quite a joke. His quips never really seemed that funny, as if your amusement didn’t dare express itself because your laugh and smile knew something you didn’t – knew better.

Will watched the hunger flit across Hannibal’s face, wary and yet unafraid. There was something lurking beneath the surface of the man who was holding the life inside of his body – and even that act seemed somehow selfish, as if Hannibal were literally holding him together, not for Will’s sake, but for his own nefarious reasons. But there was something lurking even deeper than that much too cool, collected exterior. Something dangerous and beautiful. And Will wanted to pick it apart and see why the doctor was really so fascinating, why his eyes lingered on his own bloody hands, on Will’s lips, why they bore into his eyes with a curiosity that lacked the disgust, the horror, the pity, that everyone else threw his way whilst believing themselves so subtle.

He knew then, that he had to live, that he had to keep looking into Hannibal’s eyes, no matter how much he wanted to look away, no matter how much those eyes seemed to know, seemed to declare that he had no secrets, that his tainted soul was really laid bare. He had to keep looking, because one day he might see a person looking back that saw all of him, and accepted him. Then, maybe, he could accept himself. If that wasn’t something to live for, he didn’t know what was.

“I guess it’s a good thing eyes are distracting.”