On the rare occasion Will is completely honest with himself--usually late at night, covered in cold and dripping sweat--he can admit that he isn't sure what it is about Alana Bloom. Rationally, he knows that Dr. Bloom is beautiful. How could anyone not know she's beautiful? She is intelligent and kind, with a strength shrouded in deliberate, comforting softness. Her eyes flash with conviction and she can stand up to Jack Crawford, which is more than Will knows himself to be capable of most days. Alana is forthright yet gentle. Powerful but gentle. The dogs love her, and Will trusts their judgment implicitly. And he feels a great surge of protectiveness--
From her whispers the part of him that speaks in the voices of killers)
--that makes him want to curl up with her in front of a fire. They would be close, close enough to share warmth, under the same blanket. Their faces might be cold but even their fingers would be warm, and they would look at each other, eyes meeting and reflecting their hopeful faces back in the firelight.
He pictures it:
Her hand cupping his face, bringing him close; his tousled hair curling towards her fingers as she leaned in and kissed him. The fantasy plays out behind his eyes and he feels his tongue slip into Will's mouth and--
Will takes a deep shuddering breath.
This is not his fantasy. He can picture it from outside her body for a time, but it is not his fantasy.
He wants it to be, though.
The air is freezing and hurts his lungs. He really should wear more clothes to bed, but that would just mean more laundry, and more layers of sticky cloth clinging to him, drowning him; more material to sweat into and then fight his way out of.
Will stumbles over to the shower and turns the cold water on, even though his fingers already feel numb. His eyes close and his rests his forehead against the tile on the wall and he lets the cold water beat goose bumps into his skin like it's a punishment. He wants the cold water to be cooling his libido; he wants his erection to fight against the cold and maybe win and, fuck, he'd even like to jerk off wildly in the shower in case it might help him sleep, and what could be a more natural, normal response to dreaming of kissing Alana? But there isn't any erection to wash away. There's just Will Graham, in the shower, feeling lonely and weird and outside of his own head.
Which: that's pretty much how most nights go.
At least in this round of empathy dreams there was no murder.
That makes it an easy night, but only by comparison.
By the time Will calls Alana over, by the time he kisses her, it's because he knows it's something she wants. When she's near he can feel it licking at his insides, warm and stretching out throughout his body--her body--so he knows she feels it like that, from the pit of her stomach to the careful breaths in her throat to the tingle in her toes. She wants him, and Will knows it like he knows that Garrett Jacob Hobbs loved his daughter. It came to him as suddenly as the cannibalism epiphany, one day in his classroom as Alana walked in while students still littered the seats and she carefully avoided being alone with him. She inclined her head and smiled at him politely, but her eyes held the light like a cat's, and he knew then that she wanted him.
It's not bad. It's good, even. She wants him in all the right ways and it makes him ache and Will is so sure that he's always wanted to be wanted like that, just like that. It's careful and respectful but strong as the tide and, oh, Will is dizzy with it when Alana looks at him a certain way, the tilt of her head and the light in her eyes just right.
She would be good for him.
This wouldn't be the nominally pleasant but arbitrarily chosen fucks of his youth, or his doomed relationships with people who saw in him things he was not--clumsy, charmingly quirky but otherwise normal professor; cute tough boy cop with a badge; dark and handsome gruff outdoorsman with pack of dogs--and led only and always to disappointment. Alana saw him, so honestly that her knowledge of him hurt Will when his consciousness brushed up against his awareness of--against her awareness of his instability. And yet she wanted him.
And that was perfect, wasn't it? She saw him
(you see? you see?)
and knew him and wanted to care for him and yet she will wanted him.
Will trembled with how desperately he wanted to be good for her, too, because he was sure she was the only person who had a shot of saving him.
So when she reached out, past the warmth, past the desire, past her own barely stifled urged to nurse this wounded woodland creature back to health, past her fondness for his soft eyes and long dark lashes--
When she turned him down, Will was surprised.
"I kissed Alana Bloom," Will announces after barging into Hannibal's house, and he's not sure what he expects.
What he gets is dessert.
He's not sure how to interpret that.
When you have a woman in common, apparently you talk about it a lot.
"She's very beautiful," Will says.
"She is," Hannibal agrees. "But not just beautiful. She is much more than that. To me. To you."
"To everyone," Will says.
"And this bothers you?" Hannibal prods, in an even tone.
"No," Will says, fiddling with the straps on his messenger bag, settled down next to him since he'd tripped on it upon first arrival.
Hannibal waits with the patience of a glacier.
"Yes," Will says pointedly, "It would bother anyone, don't you think?"
"Being the colleague of a beautiful, intelligent woman?" Hannibal asks.
"You know what I mean!" Will snaps, because Hannibal does; Will is sure.
"If not her beauty," Hannibal says, "Then what bothers you about her?"
"No!" Will says, "Stop baiting me! You know she doesn't--it's--it's not her."
"Then tell me what it is, Will," Hannibal says, in a perfectly inoffensive, nearly clinical murmur.
"It's me," Will mutters, and his hand is at his mouth as he chews on his thumb between words, "It's me. I'm the problem. You know that. She knows that." It sounds so stupid, out loud. It sounds so stupid it's almost normal, like maybe Will just has a drinking problem or commitment issues or something else relatable.
"How are you the problem?" Hannibal asks, tone as unrippling as the surface of a mountain lake on a windless day.
"Your patience is trying, Dr. Lecter," Will grouses, but he screws his eyes shut and presses his palms against into his eye sockets, the distressed pose betraying the posturing in his voice. "You know. You suspect. You've hinted at it for a while. You tell me."
Almost imperceivably, Hannibal's eyes dart to the clock. Their hour is nearly up and there is much ground to cover.
"You fear your lack of sexual drive," Hannibal says, "You feel shame at your lack of sexual arousal for Alana. Your empathy extends so deep within you that you feel her desire as an echo inside you. In the past, this has been enough to drive you to seek out lovers. For a short time, it can sustain you. You cannot tell if you desire Alana, or if you desire to live her desire of you."
Will sighs and looks up at the wall past Hannibal's head.
"You're good, doctor," he says, "But you can do better."
Hannibal neatly shuffles some papers together. Will is entirely sure the gesture is for his benefit, for Hannibal possesses neither nervousness that needs quelling nor mess that needs tidying.
"I prefer to not indulge in wild speculation," he says simply.
"It's not wild speculation by this point," Will mumbles, "It's simple conjecture."
"I feel there is a high likelihood that you have not been entirely honest with me about your night terrors," Hannibal adds. "The true extent and depth of them."
"Ding ding," Will says, unblinking and despairing.
"Would you say that your dreams when you are in the place of your killers have a sexual component?" Hannibal asks.
Hannibal closes a notebook on his desk during the resulting silence.
"That will be all," he says, "Your hour is up. I will see you next week, Will."
Three nights later Will dreams of the beauty of mycology and how it echoes neural structure and how exciting it is to truly connect, how exciting it is to connect from touch to touch or--
Will wakes up with a half hearted erection and the resigned almost-gratitude that it was Stammet and not someone worse.
Maybe something unlocks or maybe something else breaks, but the next night Will is Tobias Budge and he's so thrilled at making a human cello that when he draws his bow over the treated cords--when the glorious foreplay of slicing into flesh and silencing screams and treating cords is done--when pleasure dances and builds and--
breaks just as the song starts to play
The orgasm seems to go on forever, and maybe it does because this has to be a dream. He has created--no, better! He has elevated. He has taken crass and base materials and he, he himself has wrought such beauty. The sadistic pleasure of the splashing of blood spills into the egomaniacal glee of self congratulation and this potent glowing cocktail makes him king of creation. The thrill of pursuit and danger washes through the same glorious crescendo and this triumph is of course also a serenade and the classical meaning of the word aside, the idea of true companionship is so powerful it sets him trembling--
Will wakes up making wounded sounds, drenched tonight in sweat and come.
In the cold shower, hot tears prick at the corners of his eyes.
When Alana sees him, he is pigeon toed and clumsy in her presence. It shames him that he resents her, but he does. If only she'd have him, in only she'd let herself love him, then maybe he wouldn't be projecting into serial killer psyches cock first at night.
Maybe not, though.
Maybe not and she knows it.
Will retreats to Hannibal's office.
"It's not just the solved ones," Will says, tongue thick in his mouth, "Not anymore."
"Who is it now, Will?" Hannibal asks, unmoving. Unmoved. Glacial as ever.
"The Ripper," he says.
Hannibal gets up and pours them glasses of wine.
Will doesn't object. Hell, he doesn't want to be talking about this sober, either. And as unflappable as Hannibal looks, Will guesses that this--hearing about the secret sex lives of serial killers--might be beyond even his usual purview.
Back across the immaculate desk, Hannibal pauses and breathes deeply, inhaling the scent of the wine. Will tries to do the same, makes a face into his glass, shrugs, and knocks the whole thing back in one go. Inelegant, he burbles at himself, but it's his voice and not Hannibal's, even if he thinks it's something Hannibal might feel.
Hannibal sips his wine.
"The Ripper's crimes have never shown signs of a sexual component," he says finally. "It would seem inconsistent with the profile."
"It is inconsistent with the profile," Will says, exasperated, "And I've never gotten a whiff of it before. It's just--I don't know. I think with this thing, my feelings for Alana--or my feelings about her feelings, thank you for that subtle head tilt, doctor--I'm messing myself up somehow. All the, the..."
"Desire," Hannibal fills in. "Sexual drive," he offers.
"Whatever it is," Will says, "It's like--like I picked it up and now I can't put it back down, but I don't have anything healthy to do with it--"
"There are certain publications that might be helpful," Hannibal says, between measured sips, "Or so I've heard."
"I can tell when you're making jokes, Dr. Lecter," Will says. "Even if no one else can."
Hannibal gets up to refill Will's glass.
"I can't do anything healthy with anything," Will mutters, "So it's sort of--it goes into--"
"Sublimated," Hannibal says, taking his seat again.
"It's sublimated into my work," Will says. "Fair enough. That's my whole…" he grimaces. "The one trick pony can't complain about how hard his one trick is. So. Fair enough."
"You are hardly a pony," Hannibal says, "And what you do is not just one trick."
"I'm less than a one trick pony right now," Will says, and he realizes his wine is gone again, so he holds out his glass this time, "This--this--thing--"
"This drive," Hannibal suggests, and he takes Will's glass but doesn't give it back.
"This sexual drive," Will snaps, hurling the words like he hopes to shock or hurt his doctor, "Is leaking into cases where it shouldn't be at all."
"Could it be that you missed the sexual component to the crimes of these killers before?" Hannibal asks.
"Yeah, me and entire teams of Jack's people just missed a huge goddamn piece of the Ripper's MO," Will says bitterly, "No." And maybe it's the wine and he wishes so but he's barely had any so it's probably just professional pride that makes him huff, "And not killers. Not yet."
Hannibal finishes his glass of wine and puts it down.
"No?" he prompts.
"Killer. Singular. Just the Ripper, right now."
Hannibal strokes one single finger down the stem of his glass. Repeats.
"You think the Ripper is a sexual killer?"
"No!" Will explodes, "His victims are pigs to him! They don't deserve their own organs, their own breath! He'd never give him his--his regard."
Hannibal's eyes are dark and appraising. Will supposes he is a curio cabinet of psychological defects by this point, so what doctor wouldn't look at him that way, really.
"The Ripper would only--if he's a sexual being at all--he would only give that to someone he viewed as an equal," Will tries to explain.
"You're saying that your empathy is wrong, then." Hannibal says. "When it suggests a sexual overtone to his murders."
"I'm on the fritz," Will says. "You were right when you said I was afraid of my lack of sex drive. I've never been a sexual person. But now it's--it's creeping into everything. But it doesn't feel--mine. That's worse than none at all."
Hannibal rises. Will guesses his hour is almost up and Hannibal is going to escort him out soon.
"Everything?" Hannibal prompts.
"Everything," Will says, "God." His voice wavers and he closes his eyes. "I mean, even these sessions are starting to have a sexual charge--"
Will's eyes pop open. Hannibal looms above him his eyes are dark, so dark, like they're all pupil.
"Oh," Will says. Then, for good measure. "It's you."
Hannibal continues to look down at him. For a second, everything is frozen crystal still.
Will breaks the moment by swallowing thickly.
"I'm picking it up from you," Will says, "The--the sexual tension. In these sessions."
Hannibal shifts his body slightly so he's no longer at the perfect angle to bash Will's head into the desk corner.
"I apologize," he says. "For hiding my emotions so poorly. It is unprofessional."
"No, it's--it's okay, you know? I'm just surprised." Will's eyebrows furrow. "I usually pick up on that kind of thing. But I talk to you about the murders, and you--you like me, so, uh, I'm picking up on that and it's getting...tangled. Attraction in the air while talking about serial killers." Will heaves out a sigh suddenly. "God, thank makes so much more sense than the Ripper getting hard ons at murder scenes."
Hannibal says nothing.
"Crossed wires," Will says, shoulders sagging with relief. "Associations. Conditioning, almost." He closes his eyes. "Nothing to do with the Ripper at all."
Hannibal sits in the chair opposite, this time without the desk between them.
"But the other killers?" he prompts, like a good therapist.
"Nothing else has been a surprise," Will said. "The sexual component's been there. I'd...felt it, but not...not quite so...vividly." He laughed low and dark and helpless. "Maybe the empathy is working fine after all."
"It causes you distress," Hannibal says, "To dream of them so."
"Unless you have any suggestions, Dr. Lecter, I think I'm done talking about it."
"I may have a suggestion to offer you," Hannibal says. He pauses. "It is rather unconventional."
Will looks at him, incredulous.
Hannibal looks back at him evenly.
"Oh," Will says again. "Really?"
"Sexual surrogates are an accepted, if perhaps underutilized, form of therapy," he says. "The patient can work through his or her issues in a safe environment, free of judgment. In essence, it is the same as every other form of psychological treatment. The therapeutic goals are identical."
"I doubt you went to school for that specialty," Will says faintly. Is this even happening? How is this happening? But it's happening, and now that he's named the source of the force of will that's invaded his dreams, he can feel the tension between them pulled taunt as harp strings.
Inwardly, Will winces. Maybe he should have gone with a different, safer metaphor. Something about tides and boats, maybe.
"There is usually another supervising therapist present," Hannibal allows.
"Do you have a referral planned?" Will asks, still incredulous.
"Do you have any other psychiatrists in mind?" Hannibal returns easily.
"A woman in common," Will groans, "I know. Don't remind me. And no."
"I know it was a joke," Will says, "I know. But still."
"It is only a suggestion, Will," Hannibal says, and the fucked thing is that he sounds completely sincere, "Your therapy does not have to include a sexual dimension, and it certainly doesn't have to be under my practice. I can write you a real referral--"
"No!" Will says, sitting up suddenly, "I don't need that on my insurance statements, for starters. And I don't think I want to--I don't think I can have that conversation with Jack."
"If you feel the idea is unfounded--" Hannibal starts.
"No, no, I think--" Will exhales messily. "I mean, it's always bothered me that I'm not--that I don't--that I don't use that drive. Or have it. Sex drive. Whatever. So maybe if I'm actually feeling it right now, for whatever reason, I could--I don't know, learn to...keep it." Asexuality is an orientation he knows about and he'd prefer to not have, and he thinks that maybe the way he mirrors desire and throws it back might be enough to not be hollow someday. Maybe. He's tried and is willing to try again, anyway.
"So it's something you're interested in," Hannibal says, very much in the present.
"...yes," Will says, and heat flushes through his body. His heart rate is picking up and he can't tell if the lick of excitement that whips through him is his or Hannibal's, but he's willing to work with it.
"You are interested in pursuing such a line of therapy," Hannibal clarifies, "With me."
"Yeah. That is, uh, if you're comfortable with..." Will tries. The uncertainty is definitely his own. His palms are starting to sweat, just a little.
"I am," Hannibal says calmly.
"I didn't even think you..." Will flounders, "I mean, you're well dressed and European, but I didn't want to assume, so..."
Hannibal smiles and lets Will drown in his own self consciousness.
Will gives up.
"When do we start?" he croaks.
"Whenever you're ready," Hannibal soothes. "You are my last appointment of the day."
"What?" Will says, looking around, "Here?" He can't imagine mussing up the office somehow. God, what if they got--fluids--on the powder blue couch? And Hannibal had only so recently rebuilt.
Hannibal makes another micro expression. Something amused and ancient glitters in his eyes.
"There are certain benefits to having a home office," he says smoothly, and he offers Will a hand up, "Come."
If anything, Hannibal's bedroom is more intimidating than his office. There's dramatic, royal blues everywhere and hints of burnished gold and Will is sure that someone more cultured would be able to name the design style. True, there is an artful pile of books on one of the nightstands, but it seems to only suggest the idea of clutter, like a display of props in a furniture store.
Will's undershirt has holes in it and the cuffs of his plaid button down are worn, like the cuffs of all his shirts are worn. He shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot.
Why can he feel sexuality crackling around Hannibal now, when before he's never been able to feel much of anything off Hannibal? How could someone be so professional? How could someone hide a base urge so well, so deeply, deeper than Will could feel?
Will goes breathless as Hannibal sweeps in close and the internal line of inquiry is dropped.
Hannibal cups a tender hand against Will's face, bringing him close. Will's tousled hair curls towards his long, strong fingers.
The line of inquiry is dropped and buried.
Hannibal leans in and kisses him.
The line of inquiry is dropped and buried and never existed.
Desire lashes through them, hot and electric, bouncing between then like light across mirrors, reflecting, refracting.
Hannibal is being so gentle, but his body is lean and hard and promises strength. Will makes a small, wounded noise, undone by this unexpected softness. Hannibal nestles his other hand on the back of Will's neck, intimate and possessive and tangling into his dark curls so carefully. It's been forever since Will fucked and much longer than that since he's kissed, and Will's never had kissing like this, with such measured teasing insistence. One second Hannibal is all respectful exploration and the next he's kissing hard and taking Will's breath and then his tongue is lightly tracing shapes on Will's tongue and god, Hannibal's teeth are somehow everywhere even if he never bites.
There's so much going on, mouth to mouth, that Will assumes he'll forget they have dicks somehow. But however much intensity is going on above their necks, Will starts to fill out and then he's shamefully rubbing up against Hannibal's muscular thigh. The motion of his hips is small and abortive even as it's insistent and needy, and Will is making choked back embarrassed sounds but thankfully they're all lost before they hit the open air because Hannibal swallows them up. Yet Hannibal doesn't help him, doesn't take hold of Will's hips and correct his form, or even shift his body to encourage him. The sensations invading Will's body are overwhelming and foreign, and still Hannibal kisses him breathless.
Will is dizzy.
"Bed," he gasps out desperately, "Dr. Lecter--"
"We would seem to be past the point of honorifics," Hannibal says, and his voice is amused but rich and dark as the perfect coffee he brews.
"I thought this was therapy," Will sasses back, but it's a little too breathless to have much venom in it.
Hannibal makes a muffled sound against Will's neck and it might have even been a laugh, but now he's licking a stripe from Will's collar to his ear and, god, are the noises Will hears coming out of his own mouth, really?
"I suppose you may be correct," Hannibal murmurs, and when he pulls back his hair is falling into his forehead, making him look younger--but his eyes are gleaming and dark and primordial. The night that shines in them has seen stars die.
"I. Yeah. What?" Will pants.
"If this is to have some therapeutic value," Hannibal whispers, and his hand is dry and warm and settling with such gentleness on Will's neck, "We should direct it properly." The whisper is wicked but only in the sense, Will thinks, that it's carnal and promising pleasure. Yes. That's it.
Will shivers regardless.
"I think you're doing just fine," he says in a wavering voice, "Handling the, uh. Lack of drive problem." He gestures down at himself vaguely, not quite willing to look at the shape of his cock hard beneath his clothes. "The sex drive," he clarifies desperately.
Hannibal's hand rests on Will's neck and his eyes are consuming him.
"In your dreams," he says, in that voice that is so rich and cultured, that voice that makes the syllables clink together like pearls and is yet sometimes curiously flat, "You empathize with the killer. Correct?"
"Yeah," Will says, and he shivers again. Hannibal knows that. Hannibal knows that Will knows that Hannibal knows it.
The hand against Will's neck doesn't tighten, but it's somehow--heavier.
"Never the victim?" Hannibal asks.
Will shudders a third time.
"Never," he says, sounding faint and dizzy to his own ears. And then, spilling out of his mouth: "you want me to try?" Will is horrified at himself, at how easily he offers.
"Such an eager patient, suddenly," Hannibal says smoothly. "Would you like to try?"
Will doesn't know. His heart is beating fast and his pulse echoes in his ears and his dick is so unusually at attention that he's pretty sure it's leaking a little. Someone in the room wants _something_ and Will can't distinguish what comes from who and he feels like a funhouse mirror and Hannibal is leaning in and letting their hips square against each other and suddenly Will can feel the long hard length of him so he gasps,
Hannibal drives Will forward, suddenly, holding him up when Will's in danger of falling over but still Will ends up bent over the bathroom counter and then Hannibal's tangling his fingers in Will's hair and forcing him to look into the mirror.
Will looks up and then again and then closes his eyes but Hannibal waits. Eventually there is nowhere to look but forward. He's not sure he's ever felt so exposed in his life. Hannibal looms over him like a shadow, but Will is staring into his own helpless eyes.
Hannibal bends over him, stomach draped over Will's spine.
"Who is your killer?" he murmurs.
Will closes his eyes. Swallows thickly.
"The Ripper," he says.
"A heady first choice," Hannibal says, and his hips are keeping Will pinned to the counter but his finger is tracing a delicate line over the crest of Will's ear. "Perhaps someone else, first." He sounds pleased, probably because Will is rarely so willing to cooperate with therapeutic measures. "We will revisit this idea in a later session."
"Foreplay?" Will scoffs, but he tries to take some calming breaths. It doesn't help, but he says anyway, "The Plaquemine Strangler."
"An old case," says Hannibal.
"From when I used to be a beat cop," Will agrees, and it's useless to try and calm down--he's panting again because Hannibal is pulling down his shirt collar and planting insistent, sucking kisses on the vulnerable and exposed back of his neck, "He, uh. Strangled his victims." Will's breath hitches. The grimace could almost be a laugh. "Obviously."
"You are telling me about the killer, not the victims," Hannibal says. His hands are wandering, unbuckling Will's belt, sight unseen.
"I'm getting to it," Will says and he gulps air, "Um. He could get into their apartments...they all let him in."
"Psychopaths can be charming," Hannibal says, "As you well know." He drops Will's discarded belt on the floor and starts on the buttons.
"Ah," Will says, wincing at the sound of the metal belt buckle on tile, accidently opening his eyes again and seeing himself in the mirror, "Yeah. Victims were of multiple builds and ethnicities. Male and female."
"Unusual," Hannibal comments, as Will's pants drop to the ground.
"You're telling me," Will agrees, still gasping for air, uncomfortable with his half nakedness, "But they were all young and they all let him in...he tried to disguise his MO, but they can never really do that." Will pants. "No restraint."
Hannibal slowly starts undoing the buttons of Will's shirt, still keeping him pined to the counter.
"No patience," he agrees.
"Not enough," Will says.
"Tell me about a victim, Will."
Will shuts his eyes to get away from his reflection and there is the Louisiana landscape and there he is walking down the streets and the Baton Rogue metropolitan area's public transport is lacking and--
"I get a ride home from a stranger," Will gasps, but he isn't entirely Will, but also Joshua Shore, 21, of Plaquemine, Louisiana. "I've seen him around before and he seems friendly. I invite him in afterwards. He strikes me on the back of the head--"
Hannibal nuzzled into the spot behind Will's ear, inhaling deeply.
"--With a lamp. He's hot for it and his hands are around my neck immediately--"
Hannibal kisses the spot under Will's ear and then licks at his throat.
"--he holds me tight so I can't scream but he doesn't kill me yet."
Hannibal has Will so tangled in his half removed clothes that Will can barely move without danger of tripping, and Hannibal is still driving his hips against Will and into the countertop. It hurts, a little, so Will tries to wiggle out of slightly but he doesn't get far.
"He cuffs my hands behind my back so I can't fight much when I come to--"
Hannibal peels himself off Will long enough to drag his shirt almost all the way off. Will's wrists are caught up in it and Hannibal winds the fabric securely and then pulls it taunt, keeping Will stretched out and caught.
"--he waits until I wake up and then he takes his time."
The hand is back at Will's throat, not squeezing but pressing, not hurting but content with the threat, and Will can only think: I'm not the only mirror here.
"This is his design," Hannibal says for Will, pressed up against his back again. One arm is across Will's chest so that his hand can rest on Will's throat, and the other hand has been gripping Will's hip. Hannibal slides his hand down the crease of Will's hip and presses against his cock, still in the cheap cotton boxers.
Will makes a lost, keening sound in his throat.
Hannibal sneaks his hand in and gives a slow, almost lazy pump to Will's dick. Will's expression is pain and not pleasure, even though it feels good physically. Will gasps and buckles and his knees tremble and he hasn't felt anything like this in so long and apart from how strange and fucked this all is, he's also stupidly embarrassed about how easily he's going to come all over Hannibal's long elegant fingers if this doesn't stop. He studies the details on Hannibal's doubtlessly expensive countertop instead, in case it will help.
The hand pressing into his throat squeezes just a little, sinister in how reassuring it seems meant to be in context. Then Hannibal is moving his hand to the back of Will's head and grabbing onto his hair and craning his head up. Will's gaze comes with it. Hannibal's grip is strong and this hurts, oh, it hurts, but that's not why tears prick at the corner of Will's eyes.
"Look at yourself, Will," Hannibal commands. "Look."
Will pants and closes his eyes instead.
Hannibal's grip on his hair tightens but he keeps his rhythm on Will's cock.
"I don't like looking into my eyes," Will grits out, "More than I like looking into anyone else's--"
"Look," Hannibal says, but what Will hears, unbidden, is you see?
He looks. His eyes are blue and glassy with shine and the bags under them cut into his cheekbones and his thin lips are pulled back into a wince and he's bent over a bathroom counter with his dick leaking precome and he's being jerked off by his psychiatrist, who is also still fully clothed, up to and including his tie.
It's no more undignified than the rest of Will's life, really. And no more permeated by murder.
"You are not a victim, Will," Hannibal says, in the same voice he uses in therapy. "You are so much more." Hannibal releases Will's neck to yank back on his arms. "And you could be...so much more still."
Will hears something in those last few words, nothing so easy to name as heat, but...something.
Hannibal mouths Will's bicep and then bites. It's unexpected--that's not usually an erogenous zone; even Will knows that--and it's hard enough to hurt. Will yelps and spasms back, trips over his tangled clothes, and ends up back in Hannibal's arms.
"Is that the, the first therapeutic lesson?" he asks, as he's dragged over to the bed. What's Hannibal's work out routine like? When would he have time to even go the gym? He tosses Will down on the bed bodily, easily. "I'm not a victim?"
"If you like," Hannibal says, stripping Will's clothes the rest of the way off, holey undershirt removed without comment, taking the time to remove socks. "Or perhaps that was the second lesson."
"What was--oh," Will says, and then, "_Oh_," because Hannibal bent down swiftly and took Will's aching cock in his mouth. Will's arm still hurts where he was bitten and he wildly thinks _teeth teeth teeth_, but Hannibal's mouth is warm and wet and soft and Will's making those lost keening noises again. He feels the shakiness build up in his thighs, clenching, and soon he'll be ready to--
"Fuck," Will croaks out when Hannibal stops, "Really?"
"Lesson one was arousal," Hannibal says.
"I see," Will seethes. He's sweating and clammy all over and he can still taste the Strangler's psyche in the back of his throat and he's still seeing bruises blossom over the tender meat of his neck and picturing the burst blood vessels that are characteristic of victims of asphyxiation. It's doing nothing to calm his erection, which wants to be back in Hannibal's mouth. Will feels very disconnected from everything, yet he can tell his body is singing.
Hannibal slips a finger under the knot of his tie and undoes it very precisely. Of course he doesn't just yank the knot down and toss a still tied tie over his head, ruining the tie--he undoes the knot exactly backwards of how he tied it in the first place, and then folds the tie neatly and places it on his nightstand. The whole time Will's heart is hammering in his chest and his skin is possessed of an all over flush and Will, never a big fan of his body, feels incredibly self conscious and ugly under Hannibal's hawk like gaze. But Hannibal is drinking him in, savoring every little wince and twitch as he slowly begins to unbutton his shirt.
Will averts his eyes but does not curl into himself or shuffle his dick or stomach behind his hands. Even though it pains him, he stays defiantly uncovered.
"The erotic dreams of the killers," Hannibal says calmly, "Which plagues you the most?" He is shirtless now, cufflinks placed next to the tie on the nightstand, shirt folded, trouser buttons being undone with the same methodical serenity.
"The Ripper," Will answers immediately.
"The Plaquemine Strangler was insufficient distraction, I see," Hannibal says.
"No one kills like the Ripper," Will says.
Hannibal's nostrils flare and he places his folded pants on the nightstand. He looks at Will but removes his shoes and socks and sets them to the side before speaking again.
"Your fixation on the Ripper," Hannibal says, "Is that preoccupation yours? Or does it belong to Jack Crawford?"
Will shrugs. His erection is going down and it makes him feel calmer, even if he wonders if that hurts Hannibal's feelings somehow. Will is sure it would hurt someone else's feelings, but perhaps this is truly a therapy session after all. Hannibal is as composed as ever. In a peculiar and masculine way, Hannibal is very physically beautiful. Will can't quite appreciate it, but he sees how other people could. The high, sharp cheekbones and the thin curl of those fine lips, set against the deep brown eyes--it's aesthetically pleasing. There is a precision to Hannibal's face that is echoed in his clothes and his environment, and an austerity of expression that is not. Will loses himself in such abstractions and feels his heartbeat begin to return to normal. When he speaks again, his voice is the one that he uses in lectures.
"The Chesapeake Ripper is an exceptional killer and a mystifying case, with a modus operandi that is difficult to describe in analytic terms." Will pauses and an unconscious sardonic smile graces his lips, "You only know it when you see it--when you look at the scene or even the pictures of a scene and you feel the Ripper. It's like what they say about good or bad paintings and how you tell the difference."
"And what do they say, Will?"
"Look at a million paintings and then you'll never be mistaken," Will says, the absurdity of a scruffy professor telling Hannibal Lecter about art not lost on him. Hannibal Lecter probably knew a good painting from a bad one in the womb.
"The Ripper hasn't killed a million people," Hannibal says, still standing at the edge of the bed, still watching Will carefully.
Will lies back, gets comfortable.
"He would," Will says with confidence, "If he could."
And suddenly Hannibal is on him, all of that lean hard body on Will and pining him down and Hannibal's hands are everywhere, touching gripping pinching scratching and his teeth oh god oh god and Will is making little choked back panic noises but his dick is hard again. His body rebels and he fights back, and they wrestle but end up rutting up against each other breathlessly. Will is on the bottom and his wrists are pinned over his head and he's arching shamelessly into Hannibal's body, hip to hip, dick to dick.
"Oh," Will says, "Oh, god. Doct--Hannibal."
"Past honorifics at last," Hannibal notes, but he pulls back to look Will in the face.
"I'm pretty sure this is past being a therapy session," Will pants, "Even for sexual surrogacy."
"I did tell you it was an unconventional suggestion," Hannibal reminds him, "And besides, you seem to be coming along nicely." Hannibal slides off him.
"Coming along," Will says, "Right." Coming. Then, "Is that lube?"
Hannibal holds up a plastic tube.
"Oh, god, it's like the time I was shocked by the fact that you put protein scramble in a Tupperware container, even a ceramic one," Will marvels, "And not--I don't know--a gold box."
"I am only human, Will," Hannibal says easily, kneeling on the bed and casually positioning one of Will's legs over his shoulder before he slicks up his fingers.
"I haven't done this in years," Will says, blinking up at the ceiling. "Uh. This part, I mean. The rest of it I don't--most partners wouldn't--"
"Talk you through the minds of your killers," Hannibal fills in smoothly, as he begins to tease around Will's entrance, "Did you ever ask?"
Will almost hiccups in his nervousness.
"No," he says. "You can--you hurry it up."
Hannibal doesn't smile, but it seems to be a near thing.
He slips in a finger and Will breaths in sudden and deep and then wiggles around, getting comfortable.
"Okay," he says, and this is fairly comfortable and very patient-doctor and some of the terrible deadly tension from earlier has dissipated. Maybe Hannibal will fuck him gently and firmly against the pillows and maybe some of that protectiveness that therapists often feel for him will leak through and it will be comforting and nice. Maybe.
Hannibal adds a second finger and his other hand is patting Will's thigh, absurd and reassuring, from where it is slung over his shoulder.
"Oh, is this, ah, is this more for the lack of sex drive thing?" Will babbles suddenly, "This is good. I feel--" he exhales sloppily, "Comfortable." It's only about a half lie.
Hannibal curls his fingers inside Will and then Will slams his head back into the pillows and it's a heady dizzy rush and he wonders if he can lose time in bed.
"You're good," Will mutters, lost somewhere in Hannibal's lush pillows and slippery bed sheets.
"I'm a doctor," Hannibal reminds him. "It's all anatomy."
"It's all meat," Will gasps, and he isn't sure where it comes from.
Hannibal's eyes flicker to Will's face and he keeps on fingering him steadily.
"Perhaps," he says.
"Are you ever going to let me--oh," Will groans, "Come on."
"We are not done yet," Hannibal says.
"What's left?" Will asks breathlessly, "You have the celibate monk begging for orgasm and you've affirmed my, what, positivity and selfhood by assuring me I'm not a victim, walked me through a crime scene and--"
Hannibal removes his fingers and shakes off Will's leg. Then, easily, casually, like it costs him no effort at all, he flips Will over onto his stomach. In a flash, Hannibal is on top of him and biting into the strong, thick muscles of Will's trapezius.
Will cries out, bucking against the sudden sense of danger that overwhelms him, but Hannibal's arms around him are like steel. Will panics in his grip but eventually his protests subside. Hannibal lines his way up to Will's entrance and Will is quiet but for his panting and the moment is drawn out and the tension between them is thick enough to choke on before Hannibal nudges up against him and then slowly slides in, just a couple of inches. Will is panting even more heavily now and his heart jackhammers in his chest like it's enough to rattle his ribcage and arousal tangs through him but so does fear.
Hannibal pins Will down again, then leans down and into Will's ear he croons: "Tell me about the Ripper."
Will sobs out and Hannibal thrusts in the rest of the way and all the tender care from before is gone as he fucks Will into the mattress. When he lets up a little, Will knows what's expected of him.
"The Ripper," Will gasps, "The Ripper is a lover of elaborate tableaus and--and bombast." Will gulps in air. "He's precise but melodramatic--"
Hannibal rolls his hips into Will and Will's dick presses into the mattress and it's enough pressure to drive him crazy but maybe not enough friction to come and Will feels his pathetic need well up in his voice.
"The Ripper never makes a wrong cut. His knowledge of the human body is--" Hannibal drives into him "--Impeccable. He's a, a surgeon or a--"
Hannibal mouths Will's shoulder again, and Will winces, expecting the pain, but feels his dick thrill at the prospect.
It takes Will a second to pick up--not where he left off, but as close as he can get.
"--he, ah, he likes old medical illustrations--"
"How do you know that?" Hannibal breathes.
"Wound patterns," Will grits out, "On a few of the bodies. But it's not enough to go on, a lot of people like that stuff--there's whole museums about it--"
"Mmm," Hannibal says, noncommittal, and he starts to fuck Will languid and slow.
"He's confident, he's sure, he's not--not experimenting on any of the bodies we've found," Will pants, "He knows what he wants."
What Will wants in this very moment is to be allowed to come undone.
"He displays the bodies like jokes, but not--" Will breaks out to breath, "Not to be crude or--it's--divine comedy."
"You make him seem very literary," Hannibal notes.
"He is," Will insists, moaning into the pillows, "That's what I'm saying--he's--an artist."
Hannibal licks at Will's pulse, below his ear. Will wants him to speed up and trembles with his need for it, but he doesn't dare ask in case he gets denied.
"Why does the Ripper kill?" Hannibal asks.
"Because his victims don't deserve to live," Will gasps, "They waste the air they breathe. He's--they don't fit in his conception of the world."
"How does he kill?"
"Elaborately," Will exhales, "The restrained violence of it--fuck."
Hannibal begins to work up some speed again, and Will can only cling to the mattress and try to keep himself from hyperventilating. He wants to roll over and touch himself but he doesn't know to ask.
"They bleed, he likes to see them bleed," Will babbles, "I think he likes seeing the blood and the, the viscera. Holding their organs in his hands. Touching the slick, wet expanse of them--red and purple--the power of--Hannibal, please," Will half sobs, muffled by pillows, "I can't--"
"You can," Hannibal says mercilessly.
"He takes out their tongues or their organs," Will gasps, "He keeps surgical trophies. He can clamp off arteries so they don't bleed where he doesn't want them to. Post mortem dating shows that he moves fast, again, like a sur--"
Hannibal does bite down this time, on the tender place where Will's neck meets his shoulder. Will can feel the imprint of every single tooth. Every other thought is driven out of his head the pain blossoms and spreads, spilling out across his body like water or wine or blood.
Will sobs out, "Hannibal--"
There is no response but the tightening of that mouth, and the faster pace of his thrusts.
Will knows what to do.
"He's smart and they're never going to catch him," Will gulps, "Not without me--"
Is he bleeding? Will thinks he might be bleeding.
"And until I do he'll kill and kill again and leave them set up like, like sculptures, like movie sets--"
Hannibal is fucking him in earnest now, into the mattress, like he can go through the mattress but Will is there and not there and he's with the Ripper in his dreams and he's never been able to see the Ripper and Garrett Jacob Hobbs is dead and smiling at him and whispering, you see? and Will howls like a wounded dog and even Hannibal is panting now.
"The trophies," Will grits out, "He, the trophies--I think he--"
Hannibal lets go of his neck and arches up, changing the angle and Will sobs in relief this time as all thought is eradicated and Hannibal strokes the back of his neck gently but then grabs his hips and drives into him and Hannibal makes a wordless sound--
Will comes and comes apart, spurting into the silky sheets that trap his juices between the mattress and his belly. The spurts are long and hot and messy and he groans at how filthy he is, doing this to Hannibal's flawless chamber, but it feels so good and it's been so long and it's never felt anything like this before--nothing so intense; everything else has been a shadow of how his body is screaming now--and Hannibal takes a deep breath, inhaling the scent, and almost growls as he comes inside Will. Hannibal lets his hips finish smoothly, riding out the orgasm with restrained urgency but then letting his aftershocks set a rolling, languid pace until he is completely satisfied.
As he pulls out, Hannibal puts a tender hand on Will's hip, easing out. He places a delicate kiss on the wound on Will's shoulder, and Will is too fucked out to even flinch.
"Your scent," Hannibal whispers, "Is exquisite."
Then Hannibal pads out of the bedroom to parts unknown and Will just--fuzzes out like a broken TV, tunes out. The lighting in the room seems blue or maybe that's just because he's wearing his eyes as tinted glasses or--or who knows. Will doesn't. His mind wanders and maybe he loses time or maybe that is normal. He doesn't know. He doesn't move, staying in place and feeling sticky and clumsy and inelegant when he feels anything at all.
When Hannibal comes back, he is humming something that sounds vaguely familiar and classical to Will, and he's holding warm, moist towels. The towels are thick and luxurious. He cleans Will off thoroughly, leaving him in position at first and then nudging him over onto his back. It's fastidious and thorough and Will feels bizarrely like--like a pet that's being rewarded for doing a good job. What a clever little pony. What trick did he perform? He feels blank and numb. No idea presents itself.
He blinks and suddenly Hannibal is dressed again, though not in full regalia--he looks comfortable, for a more conventional idea of comfortable. Will takes a shaky breath and knows that he is losing time even now and tries to not give himself away.
"The sheets," Hannibal is saying, "If you could please stand briefly, Will?"
Will coughs and shuffles off the bed.
"I," he says, "Uh." Clears his throat. "You're very neat. Like--like predators keeping their den clean."
Hannibal, stripped sheets in his hand, looks at Will.
"God, sorry," Will mutters, shutting his eyes, "I just--wires crossed--I don't know. I'm sorry. That was rude."
Hannibal deposits the sheets in a hamper and then looks at Will soberly and says, "If you feel I have taken advantage of you in any way, I would welcome a discussion."
"No," Will says, "That was. Uh. Kind of amazing. Never felt like that before." He winces, touches the bruised splotches on his neck, feels that the skin was broken, too. Had Hannibal cleaned it out already? He must have. "This was a bit much, though."
"You are very beautiful," Hannibal says evenly, "I was...overcome."
"Something something, this is only therapy," he says.
Hannibal smiles and Will can't see if it reaches his eyes.
"Perhaps not only therapy," he allows.
Will scoffs again.
"I am only human after all, Will." Hannibal cocks his head to the side, watching Will carefully. "As I've said."
"It can be both, I guess," Will says.
"You have a gift for rationalization," Hannibal says, and then distracts by snapping fresh sheets into place.
"I trust you," Will says.
"I know," Hannibal says, and he folds the corners of the sheet under the mattress. He straightens, then gestures to the bed. "Would you like to...?"
"Cuddle?" Will asks, "Are you asking me to cuddle?"
"I was going to say, 'spend the night,'" Hannibal says.
Will wavers. His body doesn't want to even stand up right now. And in truth--as amazing as his body may feel, what Will's mind craves is the comfort of something straightforward and normal as touch. But he shouldn't...something...he should go home, get some work done. There's...something...he needs to…it's important, he almost…
Hannibal opens his arms and Will eases into the embrace easily. He sighs when Hannibal wraps his arms around him, still strong and solid but not gentle, and yet--reassuring.
"You give the best hugs," Will says, muffled against Hannibal's shoulder. "Even Abigail says so."
"They teach that to you in your PhD program," Hannibal says.
"They do not," Will mutters.
"They might as well," Hannibal says. He eases them back on the bed. "A short nap," he suggests, "And then dinner."
"And then I spend the night?" Will asks fuzzily.
"Yes." Hannibal says.
Dinner is more casual than usual, taken on the kitchen island for the sake of Will's comfort. Hannibal is warm and smiling and the dish Will doesn't catch the name of is some sort of organ meat, as usual. Hannibal kisses him and tastes like wine, and Will lets himself feel it from his tongue to his toes. Maybe Hannibal wants him in all the right ways. Maybe. Hannibal wants him enough that the echo of his desire drives Will to orgasm. Surely that's a good sign.
The bedroom is immaculate again by the time Will slips in under the covers next to Hannibal, in borrowed bedclothes. They kiss good night and Will drops off into sleep with suspicious ease. He wants so badly to be good.
When he wakes in the twilight hours, it's not out of some nightmare. It's because Hannibal is licking at the wound in his shoulder, wide awake in the shadows, sucking on the injured skin. His eyes are darker than the night sky and Will isn't really sure he's awake, except that his shoulder hurts.
Hannibal stops, licks his lips clean.
Exhaustion and fever and confusion claw at Will, and he just decides to give up and get back to sleep while he can.
It's probably just another dream.
Will goes back to sleep and his nightmares are of the Ripper.