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The Depths of Trust

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You were my enemy: such an enemy as no man ever had... In less than three years you had entirely ruined me in every point of view. For my own sake there was nothing for me to do but to love you.
-- Oscar Wilde, De Profundis


The address borders a small town on the slopes west of the city, situated to catch the mountain breezes during summer. Not far from civilisation in a way that’s obviously anti-social, but enough to have a few acres, and some expectation of privacy.

Will takes the bus from the city centre, and walks the rest of the way. He wouldn’t ask a taxi to drop him at Hannibal’s doorstep. Technically there’s more risk of recognition on the bus, with twenty people around him, but nobody’s looking on a bus. He’s grown wary of spending too much time confined with one person since Jack circulated stills taken from the cameras at the house, showing the world Will’s latest and pretty much impossible to hide facial feature.

Will studies what he sees as he walks the length of the driveway, comparing it to what he knows. The house is a modern take on the Mediterranean style, arched white stucco with shuttered windows and a multi-level terracotta roof. There’s a Mercedes under the carport instead of a Bentley – a step down in terms of branding, less distinctively exclusive.

The door is all wood, no glass. Will rings the doorbell, and listens. The insulation is good, and the wood is solid, not laminate; he can only faintly hear the footsteps on uncarpeted floor, but the rhythm is confident, and right.

Hannibal opens the door, stands back and aside to leave the entrance way unobstructed. “Hello, Will.”

Will steps inside, and toes the door firmly shut behind him, listening for the final click before he answers, and when he does, he’s already smiling. “Hello, Doctor Lecter.” Echoes converging from the past, and it’s a far more enjoyable exchange when neither one of them is looking out of a cell.

Will’s expecting Hannibal to give a disapproving twitch at his treatment of the door, but his face stretches instead into his wide smile that’s all lips, because Hannibal only shows teeth when he’s planning to bite. “I hope your journey was uninteresting?”

“As boring as I could have wanted. I even managed to sleep on the bus yesterday.” Nothing like enough, because he’s barely stopped moving in the last four days, but it helped.

Hannibal looks better, so much better than he did in his cell, and that’s despite getting shot in between. His skin’s darkened again with the sun, the marks that hung beneath his eyes are less stark, and the confidence – he never lost that in the BSHCI, he always carried himself as if the place ran to his specifications, and to some extent, it did – but it’s lying naturally on his body now, not a projection over the boredom and indignity.

He’s dressed casually, by Hannibal’s standards, a simple shirt and elegantly cut jacket over slacks, no patterned silk ties or pocket squares demanding attention from everyone who passes within his orbit. He’s playing a longer, more circumspect game than he did in Florence, and Will is always pleased when he’s predicted Hannibal again.

Will’s not the only one staring. Hannibal’s got his eyes fixed on Will with that intensity that says he will never, ever stop looking, but what his mouth says is, “Can I offer you something to drink? I could make some coffee.”

Will face contorts. “No thanks, I might have drowned myself already in the last five cups.”

“Perhaps you would like something to eat then,” Hannibal suggests. “Long distance travel is terrible for the digestion. I can prepare something light.”

Everything Will has left to want is standing here in the hallway of this house, and he’s talking to him about afternoon tea.

“I’ll take you up on that later,” Will says, with a quirked smile. “Your cooking’s good, but I didn’t come here to be fed.” There might be a conversation about food somewhere in their future, but that’s about number twelve on Will’s priority list of things to figure out, and he’s not starting on any of them now.

Hannibal doesn’t react to Will’s suggestiveness. “I’ll show you to your room. You can leave your things there.”

“My things don’t take up a whole lot of space,” Will swings the small backpack from his shoulder. “I forgot to hire a moving truck for the rest.” He’s arriving at Hannibal’s door effectively destitute, but Hannibal isn’t expecting anything else. Will had all of four days to prepare for life as a hunted criminal, not two decades.

“I have a card that’s secure for online use. We can order you some more things for the short term.” Hannibal turns and heads deeper into the house, up a set of stairs. Will’s aware of an open plan living area to his right as he ascends, but that’s not what he’s looking at. Hannibal’s movements as he takes each step are balanced, smooth and quick. There’s confidence and ease through his body as he climbs, at a pace that matches Will’s memories, and whatever Dolarhyde’s bullet did to him, it’s healed with no visibly lingering effects.

Hannibal enters the first doorway at the top, moving aside to let Will pass. Will takes a few steps more, until he’s standing at the foot of a bed, and he turns back to watch him.

Hannibal’s hair is longer again, already. So is Will’s, but in Hannibal’s case it will be an active choice to grow out his prison cut, not because getting a trim didn’t make his priority list. Will did hole up in a hotel room yesterday for long enough to make good use of a pair of scissors and a razor on his face. The beard was helpful for getting him out of the US, but he had no intention of showing up on Hannibal’s doorstep wearing his full woodland hermit styling.

Hannibal’s hair is loose, falling towards his eyes, the look Will associates with early morning coffees and violence, no slicked-back, sleek professional today.

Will’s impulse to reach out and touch it is startlingly intense.

“I trust you find it acceptable?” Hannibal asks politely.

Will’s not going to answer that. He can only keep staring at Hannibal, because Hannibal came to Will’s home in Wolf Trap dozens of times, and Will hasn’t taken his eyes from the man to even look at this room, but he’s unlikely to make a fuss because it isn’t scratched up by claws and cluttered with engine parts.

The last Will saw of Hannibal, they were both drenched in blood, their own, each other’s, Dolarhyde’s, the two of them clinging together like barnacles on a battered hull. Now they’re in the same place for the first time in months, and Hannibal’s draped in layers of perfect European manners, and that’s… entirely understandable, and entirely Will’s fault.

Hannibal’s never been able to predict what he can expect from Will, largely because Will himself rarely had any fucking clue either. Will smiling at Hannibal and wrapping himself all over him right before he dragged them both down a rock face was really just the latest shining example in a recurring pattern of erratic behaviour.

Hannibal will take his cues from Will; he’s never offered anything more than words. It’s up to Will to change what he doesn’t like, and he didn’t sneak himself out of the US and ride buses half the length of South America to indulge in some polite small talk.

Hannibal has to know what this is. It’s not Will bolting from a trap, it’s not a place to regroup before he moves on, and it’s definitely not a lie, another meticulously tied lure for the deception. It’s Will’s choice; it’s what he wants.

What Hannibal wants hasn’t been in doubt for a very long time.

Will drops his pack onto the bed, walks the few steps forwards, hooks a hand onto Hannibal’s shoulder to pull him in, to hold him, and he kisses him.

There’s an instant of taut stillness beneath Will’s hand, beneath his lips, because Will’s managed to surprise Hannibal yet again. It’s only an instant, because Hannibal has never been slow at anything, he always reacts, fast and certain, and his lips slide with Will’s, and his hands are on Will, and this is the line that Will could never cross.

All the lies, the deceptions, the traps and the manipulations, they were never this. It was there, hanging between them, filling the air with every private conversation, every time Hannibal reached across to touch Will, but neither of them had ever used it, had ever taken it and twisted it against the other. This press of lips and wetly gliding tongues is a promise, a proof that this time is different, and he has to make Hannibal believe it.

Will slides his hand up higher, over Hannibal’s neck and into his hair, the hair that’s too short now for him to thread between his fingers the way he does in his head, because Will thought about this briefly, vaguely, before he knew, and he thought about this when he knew and he hated, and he thought about this on his bed before he spoke the words that drove Hannibal into a cell; he’s thought about this, and none of those times was Hannibal easing back, pulling gently away, and it’s wrong. Will follows him with his lips, with himself, pushing his body into Hannibal’s along the whole length of them, like he can force the truth into Hannibal with sheer enthusiasm, because Will came here for Hannibal, and for this, and Hannibal has to know that Will means it.

Hannibal’s hand strokes upwards from Will’s hip to his chest, edging between them, and there’s nothing hard or violent, just a consistent pressure easing them apart. “Will…”

“I know, I know, I’ve been travelling all day and I need a shower,” Will interrupts lightly. Whatever excuse Hannibal has for backing off, Will doesn’t want to hear it. If he listens to it, they’ll end up debating it, and that could drag on for hours.

Besides all that, it’s actually true. Will’s not wearing any cheap aftershave lately, but he’s not sure which Hannibal’s nose would object to more.

“Of course.” Hannibal’s face remains settled in that neutral, placid mask, but that’s not what’s in his eyes. “The bathroom is the next door along the hall. It contains everything you might need.” He stands and stares a moment longer before he turns to leave, and Will is listening to his steps on the stairs, a hollow echo from the tiles.

With Hannibal gone, Will’s eyes are finally free to roam over the room, neat and simple in mid-toned wood and Mediterranean tile, coordinated two-colour linens on the over-sized bed. There are matching towels laid out, because Hannibal’s spare rooms are always made up in case of visitors. Will’s plans don’t include a separate bedroom, but he’s unsurprised to find himself standing in one; Hannibal would never be so rude as to make assumptions about a house guest.

Will strips out of his clothes – he reflects with a smile that Hannibal would probably have objections to being pressed up against someone wearing worn, sagging jeans whatever the circumstances – and takes one of the towels as he goes to find the bathroom.

It’s functionally uncomplicated, attractive and practical without the dramatised elegance of the Baltimore house. It fits with the car and Hannibal’s simplified fashion, lacking the exhibitionist flair of the high society entertainer, and it’s a lot closer to Will’s tastes. There’s soap and shampoo and conditioner, all sharing a European brand name Will doesn’t know and an unusual, woody scent, and that’s the original Hannibal leaking through the modified façade.

The shower head is large, rainfall style, and Will alters the flow for more pressure, enjoying the heat of it over his muscles, aching from spending most of the last twenty-four hours hunched on bus seats. He soaps himself up efficiently – he still has the half stirrings of an erection triggered by kissing Hannibal, but he’s not doing anything about that right now, and he keeps his washing brisk and functional.

The shower was a good idea – it’s making him feel a lot more awake, more alive. Not alive the way that kissing Hannibal makes him feel alive, because that’s… apparently that’s how it is when he wants something for so long, before he finally lets himself grab it. It’s… intense. Fiery. Consuming.

It wasn’t the same sensation as on the cliff, not really. The cliff was just how it happened; no thought, no planning, it was the two of them together, how it should be, both of them knowing it and reaching for it. They weren’t kissing on the cliff, because while getting shot and stabbed and surviving together somehow only intensified the love, intensified it beyond a baseline that’s already shifted tellingly towards the compulsive end of the spectrum, it wasn’t doing so much for the physical aspects of attraction.

Kissing Hannibal just now was different – it was good, it was acutely arousing, but it was that bit too tense, too much background of ‘What can I do to fix this?’ to be entirely natural.

Will can work on that. It’s going to be thoroughly enjoyable while he does.

He dries himself off quickly, towelling his hair only enough to stop the dripping. Hannibal’s had enough time to get over the surprise, to absorb the idea that Will kissed him, and giving him too much longer to think about it is probably a very bad idea.

He mentally debates clothes, and decides he’ll get closer without comment if he’s wearing them. He’s not bothering with underwear, though. He goes back to the bedroom to pull on a clean pair of slacks and a plain shirt that he bought with a purloined credit card before he left the US. They’re basic, and creased from the journey, but they’re not denim and plaid.

He pulls the bedsheets back, leaving it ready for use, because whichever bed he ends up in later, they’ll both be in the same one.

He pads barefoot down the stairs to explore the living areas, and he finds Hannibal sitting in a leather armchair with a book, beside a low, banked fire that the fall afternoon doesn’t justify; a familiar comfort used to over-write the forced deprivations of incarceration. Will thinks the book is a prop, and Hannibal puts it aside without a glance as he walks in. “Were you able to find everything you need?”

Will settles himself on the arm of Hannibal’s chair. “The only thing I need here,” he says, dragging out the emphasis on the word, “is you.”

It’s cheesy, and he knows it, but it has the right effect. The layer of blank politeness vanishes, instant intensity of focus in Hannibal’s gaze, and Will reaches a hand to Hannibal’s face, turning him as he leans in to kiss him.

There’s no pause this time, and considerably less tension, Hannibal kissing back simple, slow, soft. The angle is atrocious, and Will slides himself down with his knees resting on the corners of the seat, straddling Hannibal. Better. He can relax his body into Hannibal as he kisses him, and Hannibal won’t be backing away this time without some very undignified wriggling.

Not that Hannibal seems to be going anywhere, because Will has his lips, his tongue licking into his mouth against his own, and Hannibal’s hands are moving over his ribs, finding a line somewhere between stroking him and holding him in place, and Will’s fine with either. Will’s fingers press into Hannibal’s shirt, exploring the soft flesh over the muscle beneath, and he wonders vaguely what he would he would have found if he’d done this back when he first wanted it, before three years in a cell and a bullet took their toll on Hannibal’s body.

Hannibal will work to get his fitness back, because that’s who he is – it’s hard to miss the narcissism in a man who dresses like Hannibal – but Will wants to touch him either way, because this is Hannibal, and he’s wanted him for years, and the cell and the bullet, Hannibal did all of that for Will. And now he’s here between Will’s thighs, and Will can kiss and rub and hold, and it seems impossible right now that he’ll ever get bored of touching, or of feeling Hannibal’s hands slide lower on his body and move over his ass.

“I really don’t recommend running around without underwear, Will.” Hannibal breathes the words over Will’s skin as he kisses and licks his way along his jawline. “It can cause some very unpleasant chafing.”

“I’ve no plans to go running anywhere, or walking more than the fifteen stairs to a bed,” Will tells him, and he tilts his pelvis, rolling his hips into Hannibal’s fingers for emphasis.

“Love must not be, but take a body too?” Hannibal says, and Will feels his smile curve against his neck. Hannibal’s voice is rougher, his smooth accent slipping into gravelled, and Will’s heard that before, remembers it mesmerising on top of a cliff. ’This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.’

Will sits back, looking down to raise his eyebrows at Hannibal. “Did you want us to have dinner first, while you quote Donne at me?” His hands are brushing over Hannibal’s shoulders, beneath his jacket, pushing the cloth back and down to reveal more of the shape of the man. “We’ve eaten a lot of dinners, Hannibal.” Dinners more intimate than most people could ever know, dinners of shared knowledge and awful secrets and shattered taboos, and Will kisses his way back into Hannibal’s mouth before he can answer, because Hannibal might actually have some thoughts about a perfectly prepared dinner being more important than sex, and Will thinks their priority should definitely stay with the sex for now.

Kissing Hannibal is just as pleasing as it was before the shower, and they’re figuring out what they like as they go, settling into a pace that suits them both. Will lets more of his weight relax into Hannibal’s lap, enjoying the press of Hannibal’s thighs against him. His hands travel Hannibal’s body, roaming shoulders and chest and arms, clutching, a swirling need in his head to touch and learn this man, while Hannibal mirrors and reciprocates on Will. They’re still kissing as they stroke; Hannibal kisses with just enough tongue and the faintest edge of teeth. Hannibal’s hands have shifted onto Will’s thighs, thick fingers kneading into the muscle there, and it feels great after the shower and the ache from the bus; Will is hard, fully hard, and his body is totally happy with this, and it’s not right.

It’s what Will wants, and planned for, and it’s all frustratingly... contained.

Hannibal’s enjoying this, and Will can’t say he’s unenthusiastic in his attention to Will’s skin, but he’s not Hannibal.

Hannibal needs Will, and Will knows that, and what he wants is to feel it from him. Will’s been slowly ripping apart the structure of his entire life for four years because of this man, and he wants all of it now he’s here, not whatever part Hannibal’s decided he’s willing to share today.

Will stills his movement, waits until Hannibal’s eyes raise to meet his, then reaches deliberately for Hannibal’s erection, palming him through the cloth, and keeps his hand there. “You’ve been telling me to let go for years, Hannibal. You should take your own advice.”

Hannibal lifts a hand to Will’s face, resting it light on his cheek. “This isn’t what matters, Will.”

Hannibal is all Will has left now, and that’s okay, because he doesn’t need anything more than Hannibal, but only if he’s real, if he’s not shutting Will outside the façade he’s built for the rest of the world. Will’s fingers dig bruises into Hannibal’s arm and he sits back far enough to focus, to glare his intent, and to be seen. “It matters to me.”

There’s a moment without movement, a stillness between them, Will staring into muddied brown eyes that burn with reflected embers, and he sees the decision drop over them.

“You don’t get to regret this, Will.”

Will has an instant to consider what a really fucking stupid statement that is, and then he’s not considering anything much at all, because his own desire’s coming back at him full force as Hannibal pulls him in; no layers or masks left, just kissing and hands, urgent and pressing, and Will can read Hannibal, feel him fully and entirely open inside his head for only the third time in all the years since he met him. This is what they had on the cliff, this is what Will needs from him, and on the cliff it was everything, and now it’s just the lead into more, and more, because what Will’s absorbing from Hannibal is obsessive and demanding, and selfish, and Will doesn’t mind at all, because he can’t be the only one who feels it like this, and if one of them is drowning, they both have to be.

And Will is drowning now, drowning in the physical press of his body against another after months of intense isolation, drowning in the rush of hormones and lust through his thoughts, drowning in the crushing depths of love that’s his own, and Hannibal’s, and his own again, flashing back and forth between them in his head. Will’s moving for more of it automatically, no conscious thinking involved, his hand tugging at Hannibal’s belt because that’s needed, but he has enough of his brain left independent of his hard-on to remember his earlier comment about the bed. He’s not going to try and have sex in an armchair, and definitely not on a bare tiled floor, not when he’s the wrong side of forty.

He lifts his hips and starts wriggling away from the chair, but Hannibal’s arms tighten over his ribs, fingers pressing on his shoulder blades, and Will lets himself be pulled back in. “You gave me a bed,” he says, and runs his tongue along Hannibal’s ear lobe. “So let’s use it.”

Hannibal’s grip intensifies for a moment, and then eases. “I’ve always held great admiration for your intelligence,” he says into Will’s neck, and his lips tickle amusement against his throat.

Will slides backwards onto his feet, stepping away to give Hannibal space. Hannibal stands, letting his jacket slip the rest of the way from his arms to the seat of the chair, and he doesn’t stop to straighten or fold it.

There’s an odd few seconds, standing apart and watching one another, knowing exactly where this is going after years of restraint, and Will’s breathing a little hard, and seeing Hannibal do the same.

Will breaks it with a smile, before he turns away. “Come to bed with me, Doctor Lecter,” he says over his shoulder, and he doesn’t stop to see the effect.

They make it as far as the bottom steps before Hannibal’s pressing him up against the wall and tugging Will’s shirt loose at his waist, and Will has to slide himself free and drag him up the rest of the stairs and into the guest bedroom, because he knows where that one is. And there’s kissing, and shirt buttons under his fingers, and kissing, and zippers, and kissing, until there’s not because Hannibal has to deal with socks, and then they’re both entirely naked and pressed up against each other and easing down onto the bed.

Will hasn’t had sex in months, and for most of that time he’s been too painful, miserable or tension-strung to even indulge himself much in the shower. Hannibal – Hannibal was shot the day he escaped from a cell, and since he healed, he’s probably been more concerned with consolidating his cover identity than seducing the local population. Not to mention the scars they both wear now, increasingly difficult to explain to a stranger, inviting too many questions about an obviously peculiar life history. Will’s confident Hannibal hasn’t had sex for a lot longer even than Will.

It’s not a recipe for a lengthy encounter, but that doesn’t matter, because what Will wants is Hannibal’s lips and his hands and his skin, all of his skin, and there’ll be more than enough time to be patient later. He wants to feel Hannibal everywhere on his body, the way he feels him all through his head, lying side by side now with legs hooked together, kissing and touching and tasting every part of each other within reach, and that’s a really good start for what he wants. Will’s way past the start, though, he was past the start downstairs in the armchair, and he winds his hand between them to Hannibal’s erection, foreskin sliding soft inside the curl of his fingers, hair brushing light against his knuckles, and then Hannibal’s hand is on Will, and he just wants, pushing himself hard into the grip of those fingers and struggling to keep his rhythm on Hannibal.

It’s hampered and uncoordinated, arms and hands cramped in the space that’s barely there between them, easier to just grip and let each other ride up into it but somehow that’s not what they’re doing, and it’s messy and frantic with absolutely no finesse, teeth and noses clashing and too much saliva when they stretch their necks to kiss, and it’s perfect and reckless like nothing else Will has felt in forty years.

He’s panting and pressing and stroking, and he drops his head forward to Hannibal’s shoulder and bites down, not hard, but enough for it to be felt, because he thinks Hannibal might like that, and oh, yes, yes, he does, his muscles are tightening and not fighting, his breath inhaled sharp by Will’s ear, and that’s something to be explored sometime in the future, some time when Will isn’t so driven and so close, and when he has better fine motor control.

He scrapes his teeth through the thin sheen of sweat over Hannibal’s collarbone and looks back up into his eyes, and the depths of possessiveness there are breath-taking, the flare of it hot in Will’s chest and in his cock, and he’s not even sure if it’s Hannibal’s or his own obsession that he’s feeling anymore, because neither of them will ever let the other go. Hannibal is his now, this violent, loving, cultured, brutal chaos of a man is always his, and he pushes up into Hannibal’s hand, shoving hard against his skin as he comes.

His fingers tighten around Hannibal, and Hannibal is sliding through his grip and panting breath over Will’s cheek as Will shivers his way through the end of it, and then he rubs his thumb around the head of Hannibal’s cock and lets himself slip into Hannibal’s mind to feel it with him when Hannibal’s rhythm quickens and breaks, lets himself share a second cycle of tension released and shattered, along with the sticky wetness smeared between their bodies.

They’re tangled close, contorted around one another. Will’s mouth hovers inches from Hannibal’s; they’re breathing air back and forth between them, and he thinks he should say something, something like ‘thank you’ or ‘that was good’ but less trite, so he closes the gap and brushes his lips light over Hannibal’s because suddenly he’s not good with words again.

Hannibal allows it, but he doesn’t deepen it, doesn’t meld with it, and there’s a pause before he slides away, away out of the bed, and Will’s listening to his footsteps pad along the tiled hallway and into the bathroom.

He hears water run with obvious splashing, and then there’s quiet for a couple of minutes. Everything’s quiet here in this isolated house, on a quiet road skirting a quiet town, and there’s only Will’s own breathing and the soft rustle of sheets as he rolls onto his back and stares up at the ceiling, brilliant white in the afternoon sun.

Will still has that tendril of Hannibal woven through his head, leaking thoughts and reasons, and sex has never been an effective band aid for a damaged relationship, even when it’s good sex. He hears movement again, and a cupboard door close before the feet return, and he’s not surprised that when Hannibal comes back, he’s brought the distance back with him.

Hannibal’s skin is clean now, and he stands by the bed, handing Will a damp washcloth. Will wipes himself off, then tosses the cloth into the wastebasket where it can be dealt with later, along with a giant pile of less physical things.

Hannibal is still naked, and he waits, looking Will over, before he lies back on the bed alongside him, drawing the sheet up to his waist, and that’s better than where Will thought this might be going thirty seconds ago.

Will saw that moment of change in his eyes downstairs, and he knows it was a decision. Hannibal didn’t lose control – he chose to set it aside temporarily, and now he’s reclaimed it, the flawless mirrored surface back in place over the man, even when the man is stripped bare and sharing his bed.

’Abandonment requires expectation.’ Hannibal hadn’t understood it then, the bitter emotional truth behind the words, not when Will said them. He knows it now; Will taught him well.

Will tips his head sideways on the pillow, meeting Hannibal’s eyes and watching him watch him.

“I’m sorry, Will.”

Will isn’t remotely sorry about anything, and Hannibal isn’t apologising for now. “I have no idea why.”

“I had intended to let things progress differently, to give you time.”

It’s only half of the truth, because Hannibal wants to give himself more time. He trusted Will not to show up here with a SWAT team in tow, but he hasn’t decided yet how much further he wants to trust him.

It seems ridiculously tedious to Will, with all their history, but it’s their history that’s the problem. “I’ve wanted you for years, I’d say we’ve given it more than enough time, Hannibal.”

“You wanted all of this, yes, but you didn’t choose it. There were reasons for that, Will.”

He really should have known better than to think Hannibal might leave the psychiatrist outside the bedroom. “There were, I remember them, and I’ve decided they were all meaningless.”

Will’s flippancy does nothing to break through the layered detachment in Hannibal’s eyes. “All of them?”

Not all of them, not quite. Will won’t lose anyone else, even if with this choice, he effectively already has.

It would have been nice if Hannibal had just let him relax and sleep before he started on the serious conversations, but Hannibal always loves to talk, and he never will leave a sore spot alone.

Will rolls onto his side, props himself up on his elbow, so he’s looking down at Hannibal – Hannibal, lying in his bed.

This isn’t Will’s bed, he has no attachment to it, but he owns Hannibal. He’s owned him for years, if he’d wanted to claim him, and he’s not naïve enough to think that tether only runs one way. Any bed Hannibal is sleeping in is Will’s bed now.

“I want you to break your promise to Alana,” he says.

And there it is, the taut rigidity all through Hannibal’s body, instant, defensive. “And what will you do if I refuse?”

Will reaches out his free hand to Hannibal’s face, strokes his thumb slow and gentle over the scar that accentuates one angled cheekbone. “This isn’t blackmail, Hannibal. I’m asking for a favour.”

God knows what he’d do if Hannibal said no; probably some Chiyoh-style interference, and deal with whatever bloody consequences came after.

Hannibal’s staring up at Will with slightly narrowed eyes, studying, looking for the lie. “You will stay. Even if I say I have to keep a promise.”

It’s not going to happen – he knows Hannibal will do this for him, and Will can write off the last of his debts, his mistakes, and live entirely for himself.

“Yes.” Will leans in, presses a simple kiss to Hannibal’s chest, over his heart, where the dusting of hair scratches lightly at Will’s nose.

‘I’m staying whatever happens,’ is what he wants to say, but he doesn’t, because Will acknowledges now after the years of denial that he is in love, but he understands precisely the man he is in love with. He won’t say something so dangerously leading, and invite Hannibal to test the limits of it.

When Will pushes back up onto his elbow again, some of the tension has gone from the body beside him, and Hannibal’s gaze on him is his usual sultry, heavy-lidded focus.

“Then Alana is safe.”

Will takes that statement, and turns it over in his head, looking for the loophole. There was no qualifying ‘from me’, indicating that Hannibal might send someone else Alana’s way. On the other hand, there was no mention of Margot’s safety, or their son’s.

“I’ll make it a promise, if you like,” Hannibal offers into the silence.

A promise from Hannibal has always meant something, but will that still be true now that Will is making him break one?

If Will wants Hannibal to trust him, he’s going to have to do the same. “Just a ‘yes’ is fine.”

There’s a hint of a smile quirked at the corner of Hannibal’s mouth now. “In that case, yes, consider your favour granted.”

Will’s fingers slide over Hannibal’s cheek to stroke into his hair. “Thank you,” he says quietly, and he is openly sincere. Hannibal’s breaking a promise, for Will, and with it he’s removing the last possible doubt Will might have had.

Will wriggles his elbow out from under him, flopping back down onto his side to lie facing Hannibal, peering over the lump of the pillow. “Now are there any more difficult conversations you feel we need to have before I go to sleep? Because if so, you have maybe five minutes.”

“I believe the rest of them can wait for more opportune timing.” Hannibal is smiling, the small, genuine lift of his lips that even Will rarely sees. He strokes a finger light along Will’s jaw, leaves his hand to rest at his shoulder. “Sleep, Will.”

Will wants to sleep, he needs to sleep, but he still leans in to kiss Hannibal again, because this time Hannibal is kissing back, and he likes kissing Hannibal. He wants to do everything with Hannibal (and at some point he’ll have to decide how far ‘everything’ goes when they’re not in the bedroom), but right now he’s too fucking tired to do anything else before he sleeps; he just wants to breathe, and kiss, and touch, soft and light, his hands stroking along Hannibal’s skin as he sinks into the waiting drowsiness. One hand slides onto skin that lies ridged and densely scarred over Hannibal’s ribs and spine in an obscenely perfect circle, and Mason Verger should be very, very glad that he’s already dead, because if he was ever sitting in Will’s living room again, Will would happily slice the skin from the remains of his face himself, and then move on to the rest of him.

Hannibal eases his lips away from Will’s, tips his face below Will’s chin and into his neck, and Will stills and lets him rest there, because the thing Hannibal does with his nose is close enough to what Will does in his head that Will can understand it, even if he’ll never get it. Hannibal’s breath is light and warm over his skin, and Hannibal’s hand is on his hip, and Will’s hands are on Hannibal, and Will drifts into sleep holding on to his improbable, impossible love.