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Sous Vide

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For a while they skip from one sketchy motel to another. Will worries absurdly about the cheapness of everything. He knows it's a distraction from the things he should be worrying about, like his dogs, or the mild fever that he's running from injuries that Hannibal is treating with meds stolen from an ambulance. Somehow it's easier to be vaguely embarrassed by the polyester sheets and the easy-wear carpet of a motel room than it is to wonder when the helicopters are going to descend and drag them away to prison.

Hannibal has no such qualms, though: at the next place they stay, with the apricot and mauve décor, he shoves Will to the bed. The breath puffs out of Will's chest so hard that there are a good few minutes before he can inhale again. By then, Hannibal's inside him, hurting just a little, enough to make it good, and all of Will's worries disappear. From the noises that Hannibal makes, and the way his teeth are resting at the nape of Will's neck, it's clear that Hannibal has his priorities sorted.

Afterwards, sweaty and half-clothed and utterly malleable with pleasure, he watches Hannibal check the dressing on Will's abdomen, then abandon him for the shower. He hears the rustle of the paper on one of those tiny bars of soap and then he's drifting off to sleep. He doesn't have the energy to worry about anything, and that's a relief in itself.

When he wakes, there's humidity in the room, and the smell of something sharp and green. Hannibal is picking thyme leaves from a handful of sprigs and dropping them into a mug. A small array of groceries are lined up on the counter beside the television: butter, wine, sea salt, pepper. The pepper grinder has peppercorns in it and is clearly not new. To date, they have not been travelling with a pepper grinder.

Will rolls onto his side, the better to examine the weird set-up. It's almost scientific. Beside him, Hannibal has the steam iron upturned and balanced between two phone directories. On the metal plate is the carafe of the coffee machine and floating in the water, in a ziplock bag, is a fillet of some pale meat. It looks like fish. Will knows it's not fish.

"What…?" Will manages to say, through a dry mouth.

Hannibal passes him a glass of red wine; it is sparkling clean, squeaky under Will's damp fingerprints. It did not come from this room, though it has clearly been used before.

"Sous vide," Hannibal says. "It's the best way to cook when you're unsure of the time a meal will be served. The meat will keep tender and moist as long as I maintain a steady temperature. But one must be exact, almost to the degree." He puts the back of his hand to the glass, gauges the temperature and lifts the carafe for a moment to let the heat dissipate. When it's cooled enough for his satisfaction he replaces it on the iron with barely a sound.

Will takes a mouthful of wine and swallows, and closes his eyes at the way his mouth recognises and acknowledges the quality of it. He's starting to like good wine, he realises. He's starting to like a lot of things he shouldn't.

"Go," says Hannibal, and gestures to the bathroom. "Wash before dinner."

In the shower, sluiced with tepid water and lathered with cheap soap, Will lets go of the awkward worry about Hannibal's discomfort with banalities. Hannibal would never bear anything he didn't choose. It's part of being a survivor. It's part of why he chose to survive with Will.