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She knows Hannibal can smell it on her. She's become sensitive to his sensitivity, always notices the way he buries his nose in the bowl of a wine glass as if the primary pleasure of drinking is actually smelling. She notices the way, too, that his face goes still and his eyes glazy when he meets someone new, as if behind his placid mask he's cataloging every note of their scent for future reference. She tries hard not to notice the way his nostrils flare around her on the days she's menstruating. She knows that intimate smell herself, the humid iron tang.

It's been hours since she kissed Will Graham, hours since she sank down in his lap and put her hands in his hair and her mouth on his, opened it up, slipped inside his defenses when he was least expecting it. It's been two hours precisely since she trailed her chapped lips down his bared neck and rubbed into him while he gasped and shivered beneath her, his hands hooking her waist, afraid to let go and afraid to go lower. And she knows Hannibal can smell it on her.

Hannibal has never been precisely pleased with the way she smells, coming from Will Graham's little house. Sometimes she almost feels sorry for him when he comes to visit, because if the miasma of dog and outboard motor and sour night sweats was hard for her to adjust to, she can only imagine what an assault it is for Hannibal.

She can only imagine what it is he smells on her now – the cheap spicy aftershave and the warm earthiness of Will Graham’s own personal scent, the thick haze of sex, the musky sweetness of satisfaction, and the bitterness of residual hunger that struggles through her veins with every heartbeat. It's been hours since she dragged Will out of the chair and onto the floor. Since she shimmied her hands under his knobby thick sweater and peeled it off of him. Since she ticked her fingers between the buttons of his work shirt and stripped it off, too. Since she laughed at the sight of a third layer beneath, a white t-shirt run so many times through the wash that it's almost tissue-translucent. And it's been hours since she skinned him down to hot bare flesh, knocked him flat on his back on the cold floor and held him there with her thighs and her greedy palms, her hips whittling into his against the rhythm of his soft sobbing "no no no ohhh Abby sweetheart ohhhh."

She gives Hannibal her usual smile, but he doesn't put a hand on her arm like he often does to usher her into his foyer out of the cold. "Hello, Abigail," he says, and then asks with only the slightest lift of his eyebrow, "Will's not joining us?"

"He let me have the car," she says lightly, patting her coat pocket where the keys jingle.

"That's a first, is it not?"

It's been a day full of firsts, she wants to tell him, but knows the bluntness will make his upper lip stiffen with distaste, like it's going to curl back, and that actually frightens her. So instead she just arches her eyebrows at him – the less said the better, is a lesson she’s learned from him. And after a considered look he helps her out of her coat, and for the second time today she lets a man tug her scarf free from her scarred throat.

 

Abigail pinches a variety of spices into the plate of flour while Hannibal cubes the meat on the other side of the stainless steel counter, and it's been three hours since she rolled Will Graham’s nipple between those fingers, felt him jerk up into her so he cracked his head back on the floor. Three hours since she sat back and pulled her sweater over her head, twisted it up and tucked it considerately beneath his skull. Hours since she eased down and pressed her already-bare breasts against his chest and watched his too-moist eyes crinkle shut.

“Daydreaming, Abigail?” says Hannibal.

Two hours since she thumbed open the button fly of Will Graham's jeans and his broad tapering fingers, clammy with nerves, clamped around her wrist.

She can almost still feel the ache, and once she brushes freshly-ground cumin from her hands she makes sure to roll the sleeves of her sweater up, carefully within view so Hannibal could see the mottled lavender stripe across her narrow wrist. But he doesn’t react, just slides over a cutting board and takes down a wicked-sharp knife and fetches a bunch of cilantro from the crisper.

Will Graham had pulled her down, wrapped his warm arms around her, shivered into her, whispering, pushing her hair back, his beard rasping against her smooth cheek. Can’t, precious girl, no no no – and his breath was scalding against her skin until she ducked down and her teeth found the soft pink lobe of his ear. His voice broke into a wordless whine as her tongue flicked and her lips sucked and he actually bucked up into her, his boyish face all hot and fitful and flushed.

Abigail struggles to find her rhythm with the knife. Hannibal stands by, observing, and after a moment he moves close to adjust her grip, directing her fingers deftly with his own. “You aren’t to hold it like a hammer, Abigail, but rather direct the blade with your forefinger and thumb pinching the heel. Your other fingers around the handle just anchor it in your palm, while your thumb and forefinger against the steel provide the real pressure and direction to your cut.”

It feels awkward at first but soon she settles in to a comfortable rhythm, still a bit slow but more fluid than before, working her knife into the feathery head of the cilantro with a comfortable rocking motion. Three hours since Will Graham rocked his hips up into hers, caught her hair in his fists, filled her mouth with his slick dark tongue, filled her head with his little hiccups and hitched breaths. She’d held on, held onto the air in her lungs like she did the first time she notched the butt of a rifle in her shoulder so tight that the crosshairs shivered over the distant doe with each beat of her heart.

(Squeeze on the exhale, baby, her father had said, and though she’d been prepared for the recoil she hadn’t been prepared for quite so much blood.)

“Very nice,” says Hannibal, surveying her work. “You’re becoming a fine sous-chef, Abigail.”

(She’s gotten used to blood lately.)

He has her prepare the sauté pan while he rolls the cubes of meat in the flour mixture. She drizzles a swirl of olive oil into the pan and feels the heat between her thighs again, slippery, and she stands with her ankles delicately crossed and her lower back arched, the pressure almost uncomfortably tight. She lets herself lean against the counter so the marble edge cuts coolly, mercilessly across her lower belly.

Hannibal comes over with the plate and she doesn't miss the way he leans into her, inhaling the heat of her arousal. She pushes forward into the counter, the marble edge aching into her, before he firmly bumps her out of the way and sends her into the jungle dark of the dining room

 

Dinner is done and Hannibal treats her to a small glass of very fine wine, as indulgent to her as he is disdainful of American liquor laws, and it’s been over four hours now since Will Graham’s hands skated up her thighs, knuckles tightening in the folds of her skirt as he pushed it up. Four hours since his thumbs hooked under her panties and dragged them down as far as they’d go, four hours that hadn’t dulled the memory of the way his dry jittery fingers slid up into the smeary slick folds of her cunt for the first time.

Abigail feels the effect of alcohol in her thighs first, a phenomenon she’s not shared before, but she tells Hannibal. “It’s strange. Just half a glass and they feel full of all this potential energy.”

He smiles at her, buries his nose in his glass.

Hours since she braced herself over him, moaning into his mouth, her hair sheeting around them as his fingers slicked tight firm invisible circles around her clit. Hours since he grabbed her thighs and rolled her onto her back on the cool hardwood floor, nosed down the length of her, replaced his glistening fingers with his wet red mouth and let her thighs crush his dark curls, his scratchy beard. Her high whine sliced through the quiet when his two fingers worked in and crooked up into the spongy fluttering forward wall of her cunt, stroking relentless as a heartbeat while he ate her out.

Abigail crosses her legs and compliments Hannibal on the vintage of the wine, asks him to tell her something about it. He arches an eyebrow but it amuses him to humor her.

 

Conversations with Hannibal never get boring but it’s been five goddamned hours since she hauled Will Graham up by his hair and helped him struggle out of his tight jeans and barely even got to look at his cock, her very first, before she nocked him into her and tilted her hips up and nodded. Five hours since he sank into her with a gusting sigh that he’d been holding in far too long. She’d drawn her knees up as far as they’d go and when he snapped his hips into her she writhed beneath him, rolling up to meet his thrusts.

Five hours since he reared up over her on straight arms, his cock almost slipping out of her as he dragged her closer by her legs, his knees butterflying around her thighs for better traction before he dropped back down to crush her beneath his compact, sweat-slicked chest. He struggled and his hips skipped a beat but then he managed to tug her scarf free, and even while she was cringing away he caught her between his teeth.

Five hours ago he jerked into her, his dimpled ass slick with sweat beneath her hot little heels. He’s usually so quiet but fucking her he was so loud, responsive as a cello string, vibrating at the slightest touch. “Fuck, Abby. Fuck.” She bit her nails into his back and he choked, hitching his head back so she could see his curls plastered to his forehead, and she gathered him into her with her heels and then she came so hard her calves twitched around his waist and her cunt flexed strong around him.

It’s been five hours since he tilted forward to press his forehead into the floor next to her ear, his hips driving, his back curving up, the ridge of his spine arcing into her hands until he split with a full-throated sob and sank upon her like he’d run aground.

 

Five hours is too fucking long.

 

Abigail smooths her skirt down over her knees and gets to her feet. Hannibal, sitting with one knee folded over the other in the armchair opposite hers, gives her a questioning look. “You aren’t staying the night?” he asks her.

“Can’t, I’m sorry,” she tells him. “Will needs his car back in the morning.”

Hannibal’s look is polite and unreadable as ever and he gets up, too, to walk her to the door. Helps her into her coat – no one had done that for her before Hannibal. He fetches her scarf but before he gives it to her he closes in, running warm hands over her hair, and he bends down. She expects a kiss on her forehead but instead he gets her cheek, cuts his nose down and inhales deeply the scent of her wound and a trace of saliva, and through her hair his thumb finds the spot hidden further back, the fresh tender bruise. Goosebumps ripple down her back in a sheet.

Hannibal straightens as if nothing out of the ordinary has occurred. He drapes the scarf around her shoulders, lets her tighten it the way she likes.

“Bring Will along next week,” says Hannibal as she’s going out the door, and when she turns she catches a glimpse of his smile – ordinarily close-lipped, now it opens up and she sees a flash of his long, twisted upper teeth.

She canters quick down the steps to the car but even once she’s locked and buckled in, wreathed in the warm, slightly doggish smell that pervades Will’s spaces, she can’t shake the crisp and very present sense of unease.