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What Makes You Whole

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“Scars are not injuries[...]. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”

China Miéville, The Scar

  


 

Will juggled his briefcase and jacket as he hurried through the door from the garage into the house. As soon as it opened, the smells of roasting meat and sharp herbs curled out to meet him, and he blinked and relaxed. If Hannibal was cooking, everything was fine. At least for us.

He took his time setting his things down and shaking the remnants of rain off his jacket as he hung it up, frowning again when despite the delay the dogs never came to greet him. He toed off his shoes and headed for the kitchen.

"Welcome home," Hannibal called back without looking up from the oven. He closed it after a moment and came to meet Will, smiling.

Will arched an eyebrow at him. "You were supposed to be out today, and I know the dogs were here when I left this morning."

"So they were." Hannibal nodded, giving nothing away. After a moment, he surrendered. "I cancelled my appointments and drove the dogs to a very nice kennel for the evening."

"I — wait, you drove them? You put my dogs in your Bentley." There was either something very odd going on here, or one of them was never living this down.

Hannibal grimaced. "No. I borrowed Ms Zarova's SUV."

Will shook his head and mentally thanked their neighbor. "Okay, so the dogs are gone until tomorrow, and you're home and cooking instead of down in the city. What's the occasion?"

Hannibal smirked at him. "Do you mean you've forgotten our anniversary? I'm crushed."

Will gave him a look. "I haven't forgotten it; it's in about four months." Hannibal just went back to cooking, and Will narrowed his eyes. Not that one, then. Still testing me? He made note of the date and thought back to what else… He leaned against the counter and eyed Hannibal. "You know, most people celebrate the day they got married, or first dated, or something like that. Not the day they first told their partner they…" he searched for a polite expression, "…have unusual habits and dietary preferences." 

Hannibal laughed. "Very good." He pulled a dish from the refrigerator and mixed the contents with a bottle on the counter. "But we are not most people." He quirked his lips and twirled the bottle as he set it down. "What better day to celebrate than the one on which we trusted each other with our secrets and livelihood?"

"I guess you have a point," Will conceded. He watched Hannibal cook, his hands deftly folding the ingredients together, his lean muscles bunching under his shirt as he moved to set the bowl down. "So, dinner and a night in, then?"

"Dinner," Hannibal agreed. He turned his gaze to Will, heat in the depths of his eyes. "And I thought perhaps a bit of opera."

Will's breath stuttered, his skin flushing hot and cold at the gaze and the implication. "That," he stopped and wet his lips, "that sounds good."

Hannibal nodded. "If you'd like to get undressed and relax, I should be done here in less than an hour."

Will nodded and turned to head upstairs. The fireplace in the master bedroom was burning, the room just a little too warm for as many layers as he was wearing. He shucked his clothes and headed for a shower, trying not to think too hard about exactly what Hannibal might have planned for the night. Despite himself, images flashed through his mind, and he scrubbed harder, trying to ignore them. Anticipation only makes it worse. Which was almost certainly why Hannibal had said something; he was nothing if not inventive in his sadism.

Will finished cleaning up and pulled on a pair of loose, comfortable sweatpants and a thick robe. He turned up the plush, dark blue collar and buried his face in it. He might not have Hannibal's incredible nose, but he could smell Hannibal's cologne and a hint of his sweat. Will closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to let it ground him in the present, despite the extra kick of arousal and tension it also brought on.

He went back downstairs and headed for the kitchen. Three steps from the doorway, strong arms grabbed him from behind, wrapping around his neck and waist. He struggled for a moment in reflex before his brain caught up — this was Hannibal's space. No other danger would dare to intrude.

He closed his eyes and tried to relax as Hannibal pulled him into the den, but adrenaline raced through him, and his limbs were stiff and clumsy. Hannibal shifted his weight, and his hand tightened at Will's throat; Will pressed back against him, arms twitching and straining against Hannibal's as he fought for breath. His head swam, and he had a moment to panic, wondering how far this would go. Then he was free, Hannibal pulling the robe off before Will could gather his thoughts. He gulped in air as soft cloth encircled his arms, then Hannibal stroked his hair gently and made shushing noises until Will could focus.

He was on his knees by the couch, bare from the waist up now. The tie from the robe bound his wrists and elbows and crossed his back, loose enough that he could keep his arms at his side, but tight enough he couldn't do much else. As he tried to steady his breath, a wide band of cloth slid around his neck, and his head was tugged back as it tightened. There was a snick of metal, and Hannibal's hands came back around to stroke his face.

His lips brushed Will's lightly in the barest of kisses. "I still have a few preparations to make. I trust you will wait for me."

Will couldn't think of anything to say to that; a slight tug proved the silk collar was fastened to the arm of the couch, and in this position he couldn't reach to unclip it. He settled for giving Hannibal's retreating back a glare, still trying to reconcile the sudden attack and the kindness interspersed throughout it. As usual, it came down to one fact — this was Hannibal.

He sat and waited. The fire down here was lit as well, warming his right side almost too much. He was kneeling on a smooth pillow, and he could lean against the couch fairly comfortably. There was nothing to do but sit. The music Hannibal habitually played was absent; there wasn't even a clock ticking. He could only hear Hannibal moving around the kitchen, so he focused on the sounds of metal and wood and ceramic. He found himself waiting for the next noise, tensing in the periods of time when nothing came, and frantically trying to identify each thing he could hear. A knife against a board. A pan in the sink?

He had no idea how much time had passed when Hannibal appeared in the doorway again, this time with a tray. He set it down on the table behind Will and left again; craning his head, Will could just see the edges of the food.

"You rely too much on your eyes." Hannibal had come back with a pitcher of something and a glass, which he also set on the table. "I thought eyes were distracting."

"Other people's," Will countered, "not what I see with my own." Hannibal had removed his shoes and apron, and his sleeves were rolled to the elbows. The cords of muscles in his arms and the way his shirt shifted against his chest as he moved captured Will's attention.

Hannibal tipped Will's head up to look at him and gave him one of his tiny smiles. "And what about my eyes; are they distracting?"

"Always," Will murmured, caught by the hunger in them. "Because they tell the truth." There was fondness there, too, and admiration, and understanding, joined with pride and heat, menace and power. "I feel stupid sometimes; it took me so long to notice."

Hannibal tilted his head. "And yet you did." He left unsaid the fact that nobody else had. Other people were irrelevant to Hannibal. "Not all of it, but enough to wonder. Enough to confront me." He sat on the couch and slid to sit by Will, his socked feet tucked under Will's leg.

Will swallowed at the closeness, but refused to be intimidated. "Enough that you didn't kill me on the spot," he retorted.

"You proved the beauty of your mind and the fact that you understood me." Hannibal's hand tangled in Will's curls, tugging lightly, and his thumb stroked the corner of Will's eye. Will fought between the unease of having someone so close, and the hunger for touch Hannibal seemed to bring out in him. Hannibal chuckled. "Not that I was in any doubt."

"Just waiting for me to catch up?" Will asked sarcastically.

"Precisely." Hannibal slid his hand down, pressing threateningly into the hollow of Will's throat just below the collar. "And I would remind you it's not a good idea to antagonize the one who will be feeding you." He leaned forward to murmur directly into Will's ear. "Or the one whose mercy you are currently relying on."

"I wouldn't do that." Will chuckled breathlessly, his pulse pounding against Hannibal's thumb. "I know you haven't got any."

"A wise man." Hannibal leaned back, and Will closed his eyes. He could feel Hannibal watching him, just sitting there, and he tried not to fidget, twisting his hands to remind himself of the belt tied around them.

"It had occurred to me to blindfold you," Hannibal said conversationally. "I haven't yet ruled it out entirely. But I do so enjoy watching you watch me."

"It's all about the audience." Will's smile twisted a little nastily. "Can't stand not to be the center of attention, can you?" He stubbornly kept his eyes shut, though a part of him was dying to see Hannibal's face.

"You don't have to see me for that." There was an edge to his voice that sent a cold thrill down Will's spine. "Open your eyes or keep them closed; by the time I'm done, you'll still be able to think of nothing but me."

Will licked his lips, his mouth hanging open as he drew in a ragged breath. A moment later, something pressed at his lips. There was a flavor, sweet and sharp, against his tongue, and Will opened his mouth to let Hannibal slide it in. Fruit and cheese joined salty meat, and he chewed appreciatively. Hannibal's fingers scraped at the stubble on Will's jaw, and Will turned his face into them, flicking out his tongue after he swallowed to add the taste of Hannibal's skin to the rest.

"Bacon-wrapped plums with blue cheese and a balsamic glaze," Hannibal announced, unasked. He took his hand away and came back with another bite. Will did open his eyes this time, watching Hannibal as he offered it. He was reclining against the couch, at ease by all appearances, but there was a tension thrumming through him that Will knew would only be visible to someone who knew him well. Only to me. He shuddered as he ate the next bite, for reasons that had nothing to do with the food.

Hannibal ate the next plum himself, his eyes fixed on Will as he bit through the skin. The sharp edges of his teeth cut into it before his lips closed to draw the cheese and juices in, and Will watched, caught by the motion, imagining his mouth in other places.

Pressure on Will's cock made him gasp and jump; he'd been so caught in watching that he hadn't noticed Hannibal's foot moving. Hannibal chuckled and pushed, trapping Will's cock against his thigh. Will winced at the angle and shifted, his hands jolting forward against the belt.

"Distracted by your eyes again," Hannibal mocked. His toes flexed, curling around Will through his sweats, then pulled away. He rested his foot on Will's leg and watched him with eyes narrowed in thought.

Will smirked despite his pounding pulse, and Hannibal's eyes glinted dangerously. But all he did was lean toward the table and pick up another bit of food. "Sweetbreads with mushrooms and cherries." He pressed it to Will's lips, almost a challenge.

Will bit into it, narrowly missing Hannibal's fingers; Hannibal just smiled. The cherries and wine he could taste in the sauce added their sweetness to the meat, and the mushrooms brought out the earthiness. Turning into a gourmet? he mocked himself. Must be the company. Not that he'd ever have anything like Hannibal's palate, but he could practically hear the folks he grew up around jeering at his pretentiousness. He looked up at Hannibal again; he still held out the rest of the meat, and Will opened his mouth to take it, ignoring the ghosts of his past and flicking his tongue over his lips to catch the red sauce. 

"Planning on feeding me the entire meal?" Will asked when he swallowed. It came out huskier than he'd intended, eagerness tainting the sarcasm he was going for.

"Unless you think you can feed yourself?" Hannibal asked archly.

Will was tempted to try; he was sure he could manage something. But it probably wouldn't be very dignified for him or the food, and Hannibal was unlikely to forgive at least one of those. Instead, he just shook his head.

After the sweetbreads came tiny meatballs. Hannibal didn't introduce them, but Will could taste garlic, salt, and some sort of pepper, enough to make his mouth tingle from the heat. Will nipped at Hannibal's fingers, but Hannibal pulled back before he could try more and replied with nothing but a smile. He only fed them both and watched, and the longer he did, the more Will fidgeted and stiffened, anxious about what it might all be leading up to. His attention caught at every movement, desperate to know what Hannibal might have in mind. Knowing the game was no defense, it just made him more embarrassed for falling for it.

Eventually, Will flushed and gave in. He strained forward at the next bite, swallowing the meat quickly to suck Hannibal's fingers into his mouth. "Please," he mumbled around them.

Hannibal chuckled and stroked one finger along Will's tongue as he pulled back. "Please?" He trailed his wet fingertips across Will's jaw. "What is it you'd like?"

Will leaned to press his face into Hannibal's hand, the collar shifting warningly around his throat. He breathed in Hannibal's scent, placing open-mouthed kisses on his palm. "I don't know," he confessed roughly. "Anything. Something."

Hannibal leaned down for a kiss, and Will met him hungrily. Hannibal's teeth scraped over his lips, still sensitive from the pepper, and his tongue thrust roughly into Will's mouth. It pulled a whimper from Will that he immediately stifled, red-faced. When Hannibal pulled back, Will followed; the tightened collar left him light-headed, but he didn't break the kiss until Hannibal sat back up and Will was left to rest his head against the couch, gulping in air.

"I don't like to reward impatience," Hannibal purred. "Why should I rush a good meal? Unless you plan on entertaining me." His hand slid down Will's chest to tug on the hairs around one nipple, and his foot moved to stroke the crease of Will's thigh, the bunched fabric of his sweats rubbing over his cock.

Will gasped and whimpered again; Hannibal pinched his nipple roughly, and Will fought to keep from crying out. Hannibal twisted and he strained against the ties, the pain sending shocks straight to his cock. He couldn't get away, couldn't stop it, couldn't help how good it felt, and then it was gone, and he sobbed into Hannibal's thigh, Hannibal petting his hair and humming to him.

"Perhaps you will prove entertaining at that," Hannibal mocked. He reached back onto the table and returned with cold metal to press against Will's cheek.

A scalpel, Will surmised, the thought confirmed as it traced lightly over his face and down his neck. His breath came faster, and his hands clenched. He tried to force himself to relax, but he could feel his heart pounding.

The scalpel twisted over his collarbone, and he felt the tickle of blood on his skin before he felt the cut's sting. Hannibal traced it with a finger and brought the blood to his lips, and Will couldn't help but watch, captivated at the sight. Perversely, the cut seemed to drain a bit of his anxiety as well, and when the scalpel started moving again, he managed to stay still beneath it.

Hannibal knelt next to him, and Will watched him carefully, but the next cut when it came wasn't into his skin. Hannibal deftly sliced the sweatpants from him, straightening Will's legs to pull the pieces free. Adjusting the collar, he turned Will until he was leaning back against the arm of the couch.

Will's legs stretched out to either side of Hannibal, who sat with scalpel in hand, a trace of blood on his finger and a smile that showed more in his eyes than on his lips. Naked and tied up by an armed cannibal, Will thought, and swallowed, the thought not nearly as terrifying as it should have been. His cock jutted strongly from between his legs, and only seemed to get harder the longer Hannibal sat there, making him wait.

"I could cut you anywhere, couldn't I?" Hannibal smirked. He trailed the tip of the scalpel up Will's thigh and over to the sensitive inner skin, not quite firmly enough to cut. Will watched and swallowed and tried to stay still and silent, but the muscles in his legs jumped at the ticklish sensation, and his hands jolted forward against their bonds. Hannibal leaned forward, and Will could feel the heat of his body close as he murmured in his ear. "It feels good, doesn't it?" He nudged Will's legs further apart with his knees, then resumed trailing the scalpel blade over his skin.

Higher up his thigh, inward; Will focused on the metal, breathing in gasps as it moved up his stomach, tracing a line less than an inch from his cock. It continued up, and he huffed a breath of relief; then with a quick turn it slashed over his chest, pulling a scream from him. He fought the ties before the sensation registered — not deep, not bad, not even that long — then collapsed back with a moan, flushing at his easy reaction.

"Better," Hannibal crooned, kissing him almost tenderly. His tongue slipped into Will's mouth, and Will let him take the lead, his eyes drifting shut as he fought for self-control. Hannibal caressed his face and smiled against his lips as he pressed the blade into a sensitive spot on his side. He dragged it down slowly, capturing with his own mouth the gasps and whimpers Will couldn't stifle as blood trickled from the wound.

Will left his eyes closed and his mouth open as Hannibal bent to catch the blood on his tongue. Hannibal's mouth pressed at the cut to coax more from it, and Will shivered and groaned despite his efforts. Hannibal's arm was within reach, and Will caught at the fabric of his shirt, twisting his fingers in it to hang on. He could feel Hannibal looking up at him, and readily imagined his smile as one finger traced up the underside of his cock.

Will's breath caught in his throat and escaped in a whine that made him flush. Hannibal sat up, his shirt pulling free from Will's grasp, and his finger moved back down, drawing maddeningly light circles over his balls. Will twitched, his legs tightening around Hannibal, and Hannibal hummed low in his throat. The next touch was lighter, sharper, metal, and Will gasped and fought every instinct that said, Move! Get away! His chest heaved and his breath sped up, and to his shame, he grew even harder, a drop of fluid leaking from his cock.

Hannibal chuckled. "So beautiful if that were blood, don't you think?" The scalpel caught the drop delicately and continued slowly up the trail it had left.

Will whimpered and sobbed as it neared the head of his cock; it was nearly there when he managed a choked-sounding, "Hannibal!"

Hannibal paused, the flat of the blade pressing just below the head of Will's cock. "Yes, Will?" His voice was conversational, as if they were sitting at dinner, but the hunger underneath it gave it an edge as sharp as the scalpel. "Is there something you would like?"

"I —" Will licked his lips and tried again, but Hannibal shifted the scalpel and he lost the words, just shaking his head.

"Sweet Will." Hannibal caressed his face, and Will leaned into it. "So very good at getting into everybody else's head, so very bad at leaving your own." Will huffed a laugh that was half a sob. "Never fear; I will get you there. I know what it is you need."

Will offered up a shaky smile. Of course Hannibal did; he always did. "That's…what I'm afraid of," he managed.

Hannibal chuckled. "That's why you cling to your silence." He caught Will's bottom lip between his teeth, tugging for a moment before letting it go. "So afraid of admitting to the things you want. Even when we're both already quite aware of them."

Will flushed, then choked again as the flat of the scalpel pressed into the head of his cock. His toes curled and his muscles locked as he fought pleasure and fear to stay perfectly still. "H-Hannibal," he stuttered, pleading. He forced his eyes open and met Hannibal's, still close, still amused and hungry. Will stared back, half pleading, half defiant, hoping he'd said enough to placate him. Then the scalpel was gone, moving again, this time to dig into the inside of one thigh. He cried out and jumped, and the line became jagged.

Hannibal tutted at him. "You want to be careful. You know there are very important arteries there." But he was already dragging his fingers through the blood, painting it over Will's skin in geometric patterns. Will could feel it, warm and then cooling, and the red was a bright slash against his pale skin.

"So very beautiful," Hannibal crooned. He ducked his head and lapped at the blood, then bit down almost hard enough to draw it again. Will curled forward automatically, the collar tightening around his throat, and he sank back with a frustrated groan.

"There, you see?" Hannibal's lips ghosted over his skin, and the scalpel flashed out again, digging a curve into his other thigh. Will swallowed his yell, but there was no pause this time before a second slice over his hip, and he jerked between the hot points of pain.

Hannibal held him down, and Will focused on his strong hand, let it ground him even as the blade moved back up to his chest, carving a near-vertical line that dripped blood onto his nipple. He caught his breath at the sensation, then moaned as Hannibal leaned in to suck it up. The nipple hardened under his mouth, pulling at the edge of the cut, and Hannibal drew a second to match it.

"You," Will tried, then swallowed. "Oh, god."

Hannibal moved slowly up the new lines, sucking at them and lapping up the blood. He caught Will's head with his free hand and sealed their mouths together, and Will could taste his own blood on Hannibal's tongue.

"You could reverse this, couldn't you, Will?" Hannibal murmured. He struck again, a thin line over Will's collarbone that made him cry out. "Cut into me as I cut into you. Can you feel me as I do this? Can you see my design?"

The blood trickled down Will's skin and the points and lines of pain sparked over him, but Hannibal's gaze swallowed him whole, and he could feel the power, the lust and hunger there. I have him at my mercy. He hurts so beautifully. I will make him a true work of art. No one else had ever seen Will like that, and the knowledge was heady.

More pain, and he could feel it through his own nerves, see it through Hannibal's eyes, and he was crying out now, uncaring as Hannibal carved more lines into his chest, bisecting the others. The scalpel came up in curves and sliced off the skin as Hannibal pulled at it. Will's eyes were open wide and his chest was a symphony of red, spreading under Hannibal's direction. Will grinned and he was flying, giddy with pain and pleasure and borrowed artistic fervor. 

Hannibal's hands went to his neck, and the ties of the collar draped over Will's back as he was pulled forward, no longer fastened to the couch. His arms wrapped around him and lowered him to the rug, and Will's eyes drifted shut again as he let Hannibal untie his arms and arrange him as he wanted.

Hannibal's warmth left for a moment, and Will groaned as it returned and bare skin met his own. Slick fingers pushed into him briefly, then his legs were wrapped around Hannibal's waist as he moved forward. Hannibal's hips pressed into the lines carved in Will's thighs, and he could feel those points anchoring him to his body, feel the power in the muscles against his as if they were his own.

He keened as Hannibal pushed into him, the sensation making him more aware even as the pleasure pushed him further from himself. Hannibal's breath came and went in time with his thrusts, and Will found himself echoing it. He could feel every sharp line and curve of Hannibal's scalpel that thundered with his pulse, as if he were a drawing etched in sparks of bright pain.

Hannibal was speaking, his voice low, and Will let the sounds drift through him, painting more of him in in bright swathes of crimson and flesh. Hannibal's hands moved over his skin, filling out the rest, joining the deep slices of red in Will's mind's eye with finger-lines of the same color. Each mark they dug into brought a yell in answer that he barely recognized as his own, and his hands clutched at Hannibal as a lifeline.

Hannibal bent forward, changing the angle, and Will spasmed around him, brighter sparks firing through his body. Soft hair brushed his face as Hannibal leaned close. A warm, wet mouth sucked at his earlobe. "You are my art now," Hannibal murmured. "My most delightful opera and cherished canvas. Look and see."

The urgency and command in his voice forced Will's eyes open, and Hannibal leaned back, smiling as Will looked down at their joined bodies. Down at himself. Cuts wept beads of red along their length and smeared over his skin. Hannibal's chest and hips mirrored the marks with borrowed blood where they had pressed close, and the lines and creases of his hands were covered in it.

Will's breath caught at the beauty, the closeness. Hannibal slowed his thrusts and trailed his fingers lightly over Will's chest, still smiling. They caught in the wounds Hannibal had carved and Will arched to meet them. Hannibal chuckled and Will watched as he traced the shape of the cuts. The shape…

Something in Will snapped, and he heaved himself up and over, trapping Hannibal beneath him. He bore down and seized his mouth fiercely, and Hannibal met his attack with a laugh and a kiss full of teeth. "Do you like it? Does it suit you, Will?"

Will growled back. He found Hannibal's cock again and sank down on it, his weight pushing it deep. Hannibal's eyes went half-lidded and he let out a pleased noise.

Will narrowed his own eyes and met Hannibal's gaze squarely. "You love your art, don't you?" He pushed back, riding Hannibal slowly. "So proud of it all." He grinned open-mouthed as he panted for breath. "You want to see what you've wrought? What you've created from me?" He gripped Hannibal's sides tight and sped up, slamming his weight down with each stroke. His breath left him and he gave up taunting, instead clutching him hard enough to leave bruises. 

Hannibal gripped him back, his fingers digging into the art he'd made of Will's hips, and Will shuddered and cried out, moving faster. Their gazes caught again and held, and every spark and slash arrowed straight to his brain, shorting out his thoughts.

"I see what I've created," Hannibal answered, his own voice finally hoarse with strain. "What we've created together. Do you see how beautiful it is, Will?"

Will nodded shakily, then swallowed and managed to force out, "Yes!" Hannibal's hand moved to his cock, smearing blood and precum down its length as he stroked. "Hannibal," Will groaned in warning. 

Hannibal pushed himself up, holding Will in his lap as they moved together. His hand moved to Will's lips, and Will sucked his fingers in, tasting himself mixed with Hannibal's sweat. He moaned in appreciation, then stiffened as he felt Hannibal's lips on the marks on his chest. He fought the sensation as long as he could before crying out and coming, Hannibal driving him higher with his hands and mouth until Will lost all sense of anything else. Dimly, he felt Hannibal come soon after, then shift and move him, but his body was disconnected and sluggish, and he couldn't find the impetus to do or say anything.

When he came back to himself, he was lying on the couch, a blanket and Hannibal draped over his back and a warm, wet cloth moving over his skin. He made a contented noise and settled back, and Hannibal chuckled.

"Here." Hannibal pressed a bite of something to his mouth, and Will opened obediently. "Chocolate and cinnamon truffles for dessert."

"Mm." Will chewed appreciatively and swallowed before answering, his voice still hoarse, "I thought I was dessert."

"You were entertainment," Hannibal answered, sounding amused. "Though I haven't yet decided what to do with the skin,” he murmured, kissing Will's ear. "And now you should get your blood sugar back up." He finished with the washcloth and folded it on the table above their heads, then brought his hands back with a tube of antibiotic ointment and began tracing it over the cuts he'd made. Will rested his head on Hannibal's shoulder and drifted, letting himself be cared for and fed a few more truffles.

He winced a little as he shifted to let Hannibal at the ragged cut on his thigh. Catching the movement, Hannibal paused to look it over more carefully. "This one may scar a little."

Will snorted. "Not the only thing." He turned to give Hannibal a wry look.

"Yes, but this one was intentional," Hannibal pointed out, nodding at Will's chest.

Will shook his head. "What if I'd objected? Would it have killed you to ask before signing your work?"

"It would have spoiled the surprise," Hannibal answered, undeterred.

"So do I get to mark you some time?" Will asked pointedly.

"Certainly. As soon as your scalpel technique has improved, Doctor Graham," Hannibal retorted, equally pointed.

Will squirmed onto his back and gave Hannibal a dirty look. "Fine. Next year; that'll give you plenty of time to teach me."

Hannibal's gaze was amused, and he leaned down to kiss Will. "If you like." He ghosted his fingers over the stylized H in his handwriting that covered several inches of Will's chest above his left nipple. The antibiotic was chilly, and Will shivered, his nerves still as raw as that bit of skin.

Hannibal kissed him again, then glanced at the table long enough to pick up a gauze pad and tape to cover the wound. That done, he wrapped the blanket more firmly around them both and set his face in Will's hair, breathing him in.

Will nuzzled into Hannibal's neck, letting himself feel warmed, protected, and possessed.

Some time later, he stirred, running his hands over Hannibal's skin. "Do you ever miss it? Performing for a larger audience. Watching the public up in arms and law enforcement chasing its tail."

"Ever?" Hannibal stroked Will's arm in turn. "Of course. Enough to give this up? No. I find the quality of the audience vastly superior, and more than enough to make up for numbers in the long run."

"Elitist snob," Will teased.

Hannibal snorted. "I doubt there's ever been any question of that."

"Not really," Will conceded with a grin.

"So, I get to watch you instead," Hannibal continued, "and there's a different kind of artistry necessary to secrecy. And the Chesapeake Ripper will go down in history as much of a mystery as his namesake. Not a bad legacy."

"Don't get too complacent," Will warned, sighing at having to bring this up now. "Jack was asking me questions again the other day. He won't ever give up. You made it too personal."

"He was asking me as well," Hannibal answered smoothly. "Don't worry, Will; Jack Crawford won't be a problem for us."

Will grimaced. "He's pretty tenacious."

"Yes, I know." A smile ghosted over Hannibal's mouth. "But not particularly quick." He reached for the plate on the table again. "Did you enjoy the sweetbreads?" 

Will blinked and stared at him. "Hannibal?"

"Happy anniversary, Will."

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