So… how far does this go? Do you put out the fire or do you let him burn?
The knock at his office door interrupts his artistic reexamination of his most recent hunt—a restaurant owner without a working understanding of customer service. He gutted the female beta and left her body hung in the freezer of her own restaurant, seared her liver with truffle-infused olive oil and paired it with an altered tabbouleh recipe of his own creation. After tucking his sketchbook away, he opens the door to find Will Graham—a full hour early.
“William,” he greets with a nod. Glances down at his watch despite the fact he knows very well what time it is. “I did not expect you until seven.”
“I hope it’s alright,” he replies, cocking his head and feigning interest in the office beyond to bypass necessary eye contact. “I was um—in the neighborhood?”
Unlikely, but Hannibal steps aside to let his friend, patient and colleague enter the room.
“I brought wine.”
Hannibal accepts the outstretched bottle. The label is one he recognizes—Will likely recalled being served it by Hannibal himself and knew it would be appreciated. “You needn’t have, but thank you.”
It is a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Hannibal is mildly impressed with the choice, is more impressed that Will expended the effort on him.
As the cork pops out and the pale yellow wine flows into two stemless glasses, Will takes his usual seat in one of the leather chairs. Leaning down to place the crystal glass gently on the table beside Will, Hannibal catches the man’s scent with as much clarity as he can the aroma of gooseberry and green capsicum in the wine.
As is Hannibal, Will Graham in an alpha, and therefore his pheromones are strong enough to Hannibal’s trained nose to pick them up over the faded stench of Old Spice perpetually staining the man’s clothes and skin. The underlying smell is meant to warn Hannibal of his presence so he may take initiative to evict him from his territory. It is interesting, from both an evolutionary and a sociological perspective, that humanity has developed to the point of no longer brashly attacking rivals, becoming acquaintances instead and cohabiting in near places without dispute.
But Hannibal would consider himself and William to be more than mere acquaintances. Will may stray from using the word with Hannibal as he does with all those around him, may call him formally as ‘Doctor Lecter’ rather than the more familiar ‘Hannibal’—but they are friends.
“What brought you to Baltimore today then, William?” He asks for the sake of spurring conversation and tugging Will from his brooding alcoholic silence (the man has already swallowed most of the contents of his glass in well under five minutes).
Will tips his head slightly. “Ok, I wasn’t actually in the neighborhood. I just—I needed to talk and I figured that if you weren’t busy… I should have called, or just waited in the parking lot, I wasn’t thinking. Sorry, again.”
“Your earliness is no trouble, Will. I was not busy and it seems as if you were desperate for company.” When Will falls again into contemplative silence, Hannibal continues, “What made you so desperate, if I may ask?”
“Uh…I probably shouldn’t talk about it, but…” Fingers run through brown curls. The way the hair is slow to snap back to its former position implies that Will has not had time to shower since yesterday, and has experienced multiple episodes of cold sweat since. “What the hell. It’s this new case. Freddie Lounds hasn’t caught winds of it yet so you probably haven’t heard. There’s a man traveling north along the coast, stopping in major cities and…butchering alpha-omega pairs. Bonded ones.”
“Where has he struck thus far?” He hopes the professor will choose to answer the underlying question as well, being the number of victims.
“There was ah…one pair in Columbia, one in Raleigh and one yesterday in Richmond.”
“Six total people. In how many days?”
“Columbia was a week ago. He’s moving fast. And six people that we know of. The murder in Columbia… it didn’t look like that was the first one. Jack doesn’t agree with me but I…” Will trails off, gesturing toward himself in an altogether meaningless motion.
“What is the cause of death?”
“Varies. Blood loss for some. Others, stab wounds to the heart or lungs. Like I said, he’s butchering them. Cornering them in an alley and sort of… hacking at them until—oh god.” Will is pale in the face, haunted by something that likely has nothing to do with the way the killer kills—Will Graham has almost always seen worse.
“You are agitated by what you saw when you took this killer’s perspective.” Will nods faintly.
“He was—is so angry. All this rage is overflowing and becoming hatred. He doesn’t just want to kill these couples, he wants to destroy everything that they are.” Will pauses and Hannibal takes note of the man’s rasping breath, enflamed neck and face. Will, in this moment, is channeling all the anger of the killer. “He hates them so much.”
Will’s grip on the glass of wine is so intense, Hannibal thinks it may be moments from shattering in his hand. Gently, he leans forward and asks, “Are there any leads?”
It seems to work—Will’s hand relaxes, as does his body posture. He leans back and lists off the weak testimonies of the various witnesses, if they could even be termed as that. Apparently no one saw or heard anything but a faint shouting, not hectic enough to come running. The murders were at night, but they were still in public. That no one heard screaming or yelling is unfortunate.
“He’s an alpha,” Will says. “Jack says there’s no way to tell for sure, but I—I can feel it. There’s no other reason to explain all of this aggressive energy he’s expelling.”
By pure chance, Will’s case comes at a time at which a compelling idea has been tugging at Hannibal’s mind for weeks. Consuming him during Will’s sessions and distracting him during those of others. It was born about a month prior, when Will came to him stinking of fearful sweat, hormones and alpha chemicals bearing high, following the culmination of the Angel-Maker case. Generally, alphas find the scent of other alphas to be repellent, but Will’s scent is…tolerable. More than tolerable, actually. Then, as now, Hannibal found himself imagining that scent, with tones of pine and burning firewood and smoky whiskey, altered to be irresistibly sweet. Intoxicating. So warm and potent that it would crawl under his skin, to a degree that he couldn’t scrub it off even if he wanted to.
An omega scent.
Alpha-alpha relationships are not unheard of (though they tend to be temporary, on the crossroads to a legitimate bonded relationship), and Hannibal could easily aim for such a relationship with Will. They could have violent sex, barely containing themselves from savaging the other as they battle for dominance and penetrative power. They could mark one another and play at the unreality of their capacity to bond with one another. They could fuck and shove at each other and all but poison themselves with alpha pheromones to the point of insanity. But that is not what Hannibal wants from the man. He wants Will Graham submissive to him, by inescapable nature. Quivering for his cock inside his hole and begging for it while the fires of his heat tumble through his veins. At night, when he pleasures himself, he imagines a leaner, sweeter Will Graham, purring for Hannibal in his sleep. When he sits solitary at his dining room table he thinks of having a doting, swollen-stomached Will Graham seated across from him, sleepy from pregnancy. He imagines pressing morsels of meat to his lips, painting full lips with their juices and kissing them off so as to taste sugary, estrogen-laced pheromones beneath it. A taste and smell catered to Hannibal specifically.
Thinking on it now, he nearly swells in his trousers. Especially when Will stands to refill both of their glasses and must pass him to do so.
When Will regains his seat, he uncharacteristically allows his eyes to meet Hannibal’s as his back thumps against the chair and his head tips back in exhaustion. Hannibal wonders, not for the first time by far, what terrible twist of fate it was that Will be born an alpha rather than an omega. The man is lean, pretty-faced and jumpy, traits that seem out of place when paired with alpha intensity and smell. If Will were born an omega, he could bond with an alpha and find shelter in strong arms, hide away from the horrors of the world and of his mind in a safe home that smells of the solution of pheromones. He could sleep blanketed by his alpha and feel safe, without needing to leave his home and gaze back at his lit up house, like a boat on turbulent waves around him.
It is in that moment, with their two alpha scents mingling in the air between them, with Will’s neck unwittingly bared, with their eyes locked across the shaded room, that Hannibal realizes what he must do.
God, as is somewhat characteristic of such a vast and preoccupied being, has made a mistake in the classing of Will Graham. Will should have been born an omega—Hannibal’s perfect mate. Where god has failed, Hannibal will correct the error and perfect him. He will protect the man and breed him deep. Once the imprint of his teeth are safely sealed on Will’s flesh, he will ensure his eternal happiness. He, as an alpha, will make Will far happier than any omega could hope to do.
In the present, Will finally breaks eye contact with Hannibal. There’s a flush to his cheeks—whether it is resultant from the wine or from the heavy hang of the air, Hannibal is unsure. Most probably, it is a combination of the two.
“Are you afraid, Will?” Hannibal asks after nearly five minutes of solid silence. The question is general, meant to give the impression of asking about Will’s opinion of the case when in reality that is the last thing Hannibal wishes to hear about.
Will shakes his head, rubs his thumbs over his eyelids, takes a long drink, and stands to circle the room. “Not really. Maybe a little. I think I was just shocked earlier. It’s probably not as intense as I imagined it…I’ve been wrong before.”
Not often, Hannibal thinks, but doesn’t say. Will pauses beside the statue of the stag, as he often does (to Hannibal’s constant chagrin), and runs his fingers over an antler. Hannibal restrains himself from gently insinuating that it is a valuable collectors’ piece by a famed Scottish artist. Stands to move to his desk. He shifts his scalpel and pencil off his sketchbook and flips the cover open while Will seems occupied to glance over his half-finished drawing. When the man shifts he closes the book again and turns to look at him. Another wave of alpha pheromones comes over him, at which he must keep down the urge to lunge. He wonders if Will suffers similarly in his presence. He doubts it; Will seems constantly pained, but not at protruding smells. Hannibal suspects that his better sense of smell, his more aggressive nature, is indicative that he is the better alpha. Were they living in the stone ages, Will would have much to worry about. He is lucky than Hannibal wants him so desperately, and that he is willing to fathom means of getting him.
But time is running out—both he and Will are unmated alphas, and while he has the self control to hold out as long as necessary, Hannibal is unable to control Will. The thought of Will catching the scent of an omega on the street and blindly courting it… Infuriating.
Hannibal will not allow such a thing to occur. He will do what he must to ensure Will is his own. His bonded mate and little else.
Later that night, Hannibal takes up a few streams of research he began years earlier for the simple sake of his own academic interest. The change from alpha to omega is not a particularly difficult one. The opposite direction requires major body modification, supplemental energy reserves and muscle build-up that an alpha would be useless without. But for an alpha, especially one as lithe as William, to become an omega, it is only an issue of hormone resituating. A six week trial of injectable hormone replacement therapy should do the trick. A cocktail of estrogen, progestogens and a diluted variation of estradiol, Hannibal thinks, should do the trick. He could start off weak and ramp up to something more extreme so that Will is not frightened enough to immediately seek the help of another doctor. The hormonal changes will fix Will’s alpha temperaments and the issues of bonding (as well his attraction to omega pheromones). The rest, body change and the centering of his sexuality, will occur on its own in a domino affect. Omegas are simple solely in the respect that many of their distinctive components can be tied to their hormone levels.
He would not be fertile, not without a proper operation, but that could come later, after they were mated and Will’s newfound instincts make him ache to be impregnated. Then, he would be easy to convince. That sort of operation is done only in the black market, but it is not unheard of and not generally arrested for. Will Graham will almost certainly be safe from arrest if the authorities believe the change has occurred naturally, as Hannibal will lead Will himself to believe. Furthermore, by that point he will be mated and, therefore, Hannibal’s sole responsibility.
He spends the remainder of the evening making calls and inquiries to past colleagues that owe him favors of silence. He can imagine what they must think of him, asking about alpha-to-omega sex change. A few ask one too many crude questions of Hannibal prior to giving up the information he requires and he reciprocates by moving their business cards to the box beside his recipes for a later date.