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Dormire et Excitare

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Will had dozed off for a bit, but he was quickly roused by the first sounds of movement in the room.  He blinked his eyes open, rubbing a hand over his face, and set his eyes on the bed.  A glance to the clock by the bedside told him it was still in the dark, early morning hours, and indeed, there were no shreds of sunlight peeking through the curtains of any window.

Hannibal, he saw, was just beginning to stir, shifting against the mattress under him and making small, muted grunts as he clawed his way back to consciousness.  Then, all at once, the shifting stopped and Hannibal lay perfectly, unnaturally still. 

His eyes opened. 

Will watched him carefully, noting the way his eyes tracked as he took stock of himself, of his surroundings.  Will had no doubt that he was keenly aware of both, that nothing would escape his notice.  He didn’t dart his eyes frantically around the room, or run his hands over his own face or body, but Will was certain he didn’t need to.  After about a minute, Hannibal sat up, pushing himself up to a seated position on the edge of the bed.  He looked over to Will, and they shared a long silence. 

“So,” Hannibal said finally.  “This was your intention.” 

It wasn’t really a question, but Will answered anyway. 

“Yes.”  Pause.  “Why’d you drink the wine.”  He fixed Hannibal with a low glare and waited expectantly for an answer. 

There was a long beat, and then Hannibal inhaled through his nose in a kind of shrug. 

“I wanted to see what you would do.” 

Will snorted, shaking his head because, honestly, he really should have guessed.  “Congratulations,” he muttered.  “Mission accomplished.” 

Hannibal’s lips curved into a slight smile. 

“Did it occur to you that I might do this,” Will asked, a bitter note landing on this

Hannibal paused, then gave a slight nod.  “I considered the possibility there could be sexual motivations.  Though, this—” and he gestured vaguely at his own body, the first clear acknowledgement of his present state. “—certainly exceeds anything I might have imagined.”  He shot Will a coy look.  “I have never entirely been able to predict you, Will. 

Here, Will did roll his eyes, suddenly wishing he still had some whiskey left. 

“You know, most people would probably feel violated, if this were done to them,” Will noted idly.  “Traumatized.”

“I am not most people,” Hannibal replied with a slight twinkle in his eye.  “As you may have noticed.” 

Will swallowed.  “So, you’re, what?” He pinned Hannibal with a look.  “Fine?  With…all this?” 

Hannibal regarded him a moment.  “I’m not planning to kill you for it, or exact any other form of retribution, if that’s what you mean.” 

That should have been a relief to hear, and in some ways it was; yet it was also deeply unsettling, and Will was left with an uncertain strangeness nagging at him.     

Hannibal, sensing something, let his eyes glide over Will discerningly.

“Do you regret what you did, Will?”  The question was asked calmly and clearly, though the word ‘regret’ sounded a bit odd in Hannibal’s mouth.    

Will bit back a sigh.  “No.”  He forced himself to meet Hannibal’s gaze.  “I don’t.  I don’t regret it.  And that…”  He let his eyes wander, searching.  “Concerns me.”  He regarded Hannibal quietly.  “I’m not sure what to think about your side of things.  You seem almost…pleased.”

Hannibal’s eyes turned inward a moment.  “I suppose I am.  I was wondering how long it would take for you to act on your desires and now you have.  Regardless of the circumstances, the event itself is still worthy of being celebrated.” 

And it really was that easy for him, wasn’t it?  Will could almost be resentful, except the fact was that it was just as easy for him to let whatever wisps of guilt or unease that clung to him to wash away under the sound of Hannibal’s words, the dulcet tones of the man’s voice soothing him like a warm bath.  Will knew he should not allow himself to be soothed—that he should hold those threads of discomfort to him like a life preserver—but at this point, it just didn’t seem worth the effort. 

“I truly do hope you will not judge yourself too harshly,” Hannibal said after moment, almost in answer to Will’s thoughts.  “I would hate for this to be another burden on you.” 

Will held back a low chuckle, shaking his head in a kind of bemusement.  Sighing, he waved a hand dismissively.  “I’ll be fine.  I think I’ve been feeling increasingly unburdened lately.” 

“I’m glad to hear that,” Hannibal said with a simple sincerity.  Then his eyes shifted, and for a moment he almost appeared hesitant.  “If I may ask…”

He looked to Will questioningly, and Will gave a little shrug.

With a short nod, Hannibal went on, his eyes peering curiously out at Will.  “…What were your motives in taking this action?” 

Will blinked.  He looked back at Hannibal, somewhat incredulous, who returned his gaze steadily, expectantly awaiting an answer. 

“Uh, I…” Will stammered, feeling thrown, since, ‘Because I wanted to fuck you,’ was obvious, and couldn’t possibly be what Hannibal was asking about.  “…I’m not quite sure what you mean.”

Hannibal tilted his head, regarding Will evenly and intently, like he was looking for something.  Then he blinked, neck straightening, and he spoke. 

“Was this done to punish me?”

He asked the question with a casual curiosity that sent Will’s blood running cold. 

Opening his mouth, Will found himself unable to speak.  “No,” he managed finally, sounding choked.  “No, I…I wasn’t…that—” He broke off, swallowing thickly. 

It was crazy, but that Hannibal might land on that possible interpretation had actually never occurred to him.

Will shut his eyes, a sick feeling washing over him.  He took a deep breath, and opened them again.

Hannibal was watching him with quiet attention.   

“No,” Will said again, forcing his voice to be steady.  “I wasn’t punishing you.  I don’t—” He faltered for a moment, then collected himself.  “I don’t want to punish you,” he said softly.  “Anymore.”  He sighed out and shook his head.  “I don’t know if I’ve completely forgiven you or ever will, but I’m not angry with you either.”  He snorted, a self-deprecating smile on his face.  “I don’t know what that says about me, but that’s how it is.” 

Hannibal was quiet a moment.  He considered Will’s words carefully, and then he nodded once, in understanding.  Will let out a low, quiet breath of relief. 

“If that was not the reason,” Hannibal asked.  “Then what was?”

Will found himself rolling his eyes again at the absurdity.  “Sex, Hannibal.  The sex was the reason; the reason was the sex.”

“If sex was what you’d wanted from me, you’d need only to have asked for it.”  Hannibal fixed him with a look.  “Surely, you realized that.”

Will instantly sobered.  He bit down on the inside of his cheek, having at least the decency enough to feel chastened by that.  “Yes,” he said weakly. 

“So, I must conclude there was some other underlying motivation,” Hannibal said reasonably.  Will fought back the instinctive bristling that prickled up his spine whenever he was exposed to psychiatrist-speak.

“It’s…” Will started to speak, and then broke off into sigh.  He rubbed a frustrated hand over his eyes.  “It’s not…”  He sighed again.  “It’s not like that, exactly, what…what you’re saying, how you’re saying it.” 

Hannibal looked thoughtful, and then nodded for him to continue. 

Will took in a deep breath.  He should have known Hannibal would make him talk about this. 

“The sex,” he began.  “Was the motive.  This…” He glanced around, gesturing with his eyes to the whole situation.  “…Was how…” He paused, swallowing.  “Was how I needed to do it.  Or,” he amended, wincing at how that’d come out.  “Was what I needed to…” he trailed off, searching for words.  “To do it the way I…wanted.”  Fuck, that sounded even worse. 

Hannibal didn’t seem perturbed; he listened, waiting for Will to explain himself, appearing not to have drawn any conclusions quite yet.  With a quiet, frustrated growl, Will took a breath and started over.

“I wanted you,” Will said, looking straight at Hannibal as he spoke.  “But I didn’t want—” He broke off, shaking his head.  “…You,” He tried again, carefully.  “Have a tendency to exude a certain…influence.”  A flicker of something darted behind Hannibal’s eyes.  “In general, and on me, in particular.  I knew if we started…if we became intimate—” His lip quirked.  “—More intimate, that it was likely you would apply that influence.  That I would be affected by it.  Whatever wants or desires I had would be…changed, once you were there…looking at them.  I…” Will considered a moment.  “I suppose I wanted to know what I would do.  On my own.  Without you…watching me.” 

“So,” Will concluded.  “I decided I needed a way to engage with you sexually without you being…present.  In order to ‘observe’ myself, without you fogging the glass.”  There was more he could say, but he left it there for now. 

There was a long silence.  Then, Hannibal swallowed, lips parting for a moment before he started speaking.

“And, would you say you were successful?”  He gave Will a measuring look.  “Do you have a clearer view of yourself now than you did before?” 

Will dropped his gaze.  “I don’t know,” he said softly.  “Maybe.  I’m…not sure how much I was affected by the circumstances.” 

“Our actions are often affected by the surrounding circumstances,” Hannibal remarked.  “As much as those circumstances are shaped by our actions.” 

“Are you making a point about how I caused those circumstances I’m now claiming to be affected by?” Will asked.  It wasn’t a bad point to make.                   

“I’m simply making the observation that we are never fully free of outside influences, even as we cannot help but be an influence on those around us.” 

Will’s lip quirked.  “That’s more true for some than for others.”

Hannibal gave a slight bow of his head, conceding.  He then sighed, eyes looking inward.  “I do wish you had expressed these concerns to me earlier,” he raised his gaze to meet Will’s.  “Though I understand why you did not.”

It was just such a surreally…normal thing to say.  ‘I wish you’d said something, but I get why you didn’t’—how many couples, friends, families, had said that to each other in the course of their lives?  Something so placidly typical had no place in this conversation. 

Hannibal sat up a bit straighter.  “Let me rephrase my previous question.  Were the events of last night, over all, successful, in your estimation?” 

Will felt his smirk widen.  “By what measurement?” Will prompted. 

“By any measurement,” Hannibal replied easily.  There was a pause, and then he softly arched an eyebrow.  “Did you enjoy yourself?” 

Will pressed his lips together, holding back a dark grin.  “I think you have ample evidence of just how much I enjoyed myself,” Will drawled, drawing his eyeline pointedly over Hannibal’s besmirched body. 

Hannibal took Will’s leering in stride, a quiet laughter dancing behind his eyes. 

“I suppose I do,” Hannibal agreed.  “Although, I do wonder” he continued, leaning back slightly with one hand braced on the bed.  He brushed a light finger over a clump of dried cum on his stomach.  “Whose is this?” He asked, glancing towards Will.  “Yours, or mine?”

Will swallowed, biting down on his tongue as he felt arousal stir in the pit of his belly.  “Yours.” 

“Mm,” Hannibal hummed, sounding somewhat dejected.  He sighed with a small shake of his head, and shot Will a contrite look.  “I must confess, while I don’t regret last night’s events, I am sorry to have missed them.  The memory of our first time together was one I was looking forward to treasuring.” 

Will wasn’t quite sure what to do with that series of statements.

“Should I…apologize?” Will asked, somewhat sardonically.  “For…’denying you your memory’?”  Because that, apparently, was the only trespass worth mentioning. 

“There’s no need,” Hannibal assured him.  His eyes slid to one side.  “But perhaps for our next coupling, I could be allowed to remain conscious.”   

Will’s poor, tired brain went off in about five different directions in response to that loaded sentence, but the thing that managed its way out of his mouth was a sharp bark of laughter followed by an incredulous:

“‘Coupling?’”

“What word would you use?” Hannibal asked, unperturbed.

“Fucking,” Will replied bluntly, aware that he was baiting Hannibal with such coarse language. 

Hannibal just managed to not quite wrinkle his nose.  “Crude.” 

“But, accurate,” Will retorted. 

“If you say so,” Hannibal said with a muted sigh.  Then, he turned his eyes back to Will, his look quietly inquiring.  “Would that be possible?”

Will sucked a breath in through his nose as his heart sped up just a bit.  “Are we saying there’s going to be a…’second coupling’, after this?” Will asked guardedly. 

“If you wish there to be,” Hannibal answered promptly.  “Then, most assuredly, yes.”

Will felt a shiver run through him. 

“Then,” Will said carefully.  “Are you asking if I plan on drugging you again?”

“That was not all I was asking.  But, yes.”  Hannibal raised an eyebrow.  “Do you?”

Will bit his lip.  “Even if I did, I doubt I could without you noticing.”

“Deception wouldn't necessarily be required,” Hannibal submitted.  “If that was what you wanted, I would be happy to oblige.”

Will stared.  “You’d drug yourself,” he said slowly.  “Even though you don’t want to be drugged.”

“It is not my preference,” Hannibal corrected.  “Simply because I desire first-hand experience of you in that way.  But I am hardly opposed.” 

Well, that was…interesting.  Will had never thought about the possibility of having Hannibal like that again.  He wasn’t sure he even wanted a reprisal of the previous night; it had been an extraordinary event, but sitting across from Hannibal now, Will found himself less and less enamored with the unconscious version.  On the other hand, he wasn’t at all sure he was ready for sex with a fully conscious and empowered Hannibal Lecter either.  He still had no concept of what that would be like, he realized, frowning, suddenly getting a disheartening ‘back to square one’ kind of feeling. 

As though he could sense his indecision, Hannibal continued.

“If you are still concerned about my potential ‘influence’ in this area,” Hannibal contended, his tone serious but untroubled.  “It should be noted that there are alternative potential solutions to that particular problem.” 

Will frowned.  “Meaning what?”

“Meaning that drugging me into senselessness is not the only way to limit my ability to control the course of our sexual encounters.”  Here, Hannibal’s soberness cracked, a twinkle of amusement glimmering in his eye.  “Seeing as that appears to be a pivotal concern of yours.”

Will felt himself blush.  “That…it…it’s not just about control,” Will protested. 

“Of course it is,” Hannibal said bluntly.  “You do not wish to be controlled by me in this area.  That is understandable.  To ensure this, it is preferable to you that you control me, rather than risk the reverse.” 

Will bit down on his tongue, seething, the phrase goddamned psychiatrist running through his head. 

“That was why you chose in incapacitate me, which you did through means which left me powerless and defenseless, but also completely unaware of what was being done to me.  I don’t believe that is ultimately conducive to either of our needs.  But there are other, perhaps simpler ways to affect a similar desired outcome without robbing me of my senses.”

“Such as,” Will prompted with a slight roll of his eyes, feeling his irritation grow.

Hannibal fixed Will with a steady gaze.  His voice was even.  Pragmatic. 

“If you are concerned with what I might do, then bind me.  If you are concerned with what I might say, then gag me.  You expressed discomfort with me watching you; a simple blindfold would quickly alleviate that issue, and I would still be able to feel everything you chose to do to me.”  

Will felt his jaw drop open to hang, gaping, his mouth going suddenly dry.  His previous ire was completely forgotten and replaced by what he supposed he’d have to describe as aroused disbelief.  

“Y…y…y…” Will shut his mouth and his eyes, taking in a breath to steady himself before trying to speak again.  “—You would do that?”

Hannibal looked at him curiously, head tilted to one side.  “Does that surprise you?” 

YES, that FUCKING SURPRISES ME, Will managed to not shout out loud.  Instead he ran his tongue over his dry lips, peering intently at the man sitting on the bed across from him.  “…You,” he said slowly.  “Have a pathology built around maintaining control.  On achieving and keeping power over yourself, and others.  You would never willingly surrender that control.  Not to anyone.”

Hannibal’s dark eyes glinted.  “You’re not anyone.”

Will blinked, and then he let out a hoarse laugh.  “So, that’s it?  That…that’s all you have to say, all the explanation you’re going to give.”  He shook his head, incredulous.  “I’m not ‘Anyone’, and you’re not ‘Most People’, and…here we are.”

“And here we are.”  Hannibal agreed.  His brows drew in slightly.  “You seem determined to believe this is beyond my ability, antithetical to my nature.  And yet I have already displayed my willingness to place myself entirely at your mercy.” 

Will shifted uncomfortably. 

“I know you are fully capable of understanding me,” Hannibal went on.  “Why do you choose this blindness?”     

They looked at each other and Will swallowed thickly.  Hannibal’s continued flagrant display of last night’s activities was serving to muddle with Will’s senses.  His body had been left bruised and filthy because of what Will had done to him.  What Hannibal had let Will do to him.  The thought made Will’s head dizzy and his teeth ache. 

“You’d really let me tie you up, gag you, blindfold you, and fuck you,” Will asked Hannibal, his voice hoarse, his tone challenging.

Hannibal just blinked.  “Yes.” 

Will’s eyes narrowed.  “Would you enjoy it?”

Hannibal considered the question.  “I believe I would.  In fact, I find the concept oddly exhilarating.”  He took a breath.  “You are correct, Will, in that I would never have considered submitting myself to anyone else.  But with you, there is a certain appeal.  I find myself…” He paused, eyes growing darker.  “Eager.”

“Eager to surrender?” Will frowned.  “That doesn’t seem like you.”

“And yet, I have done it before.  More than you know, I think,” Hannibal replied breezily.  His eyes grew serious.  “My true surrender to you was long ago, Will, and it was not one I chose or predicted.  All the little surrenders that followed were nothing compared to that original one that was forced from me.”

Will’s frown deepened.  “’Forced’?”

Hannibal let out a sigh, small and quiet, and turned his face away.  There was a pause, and then he spoke.  His voice clear, but also somehow distant. 

“Our hearts make choices without consulting us.  None of us choose whom we will come to care for, or to yearn for.”  He lifted his eyes, and for a moment it was like Will could see right through them.  “In that sense, no act of love is ever performed with full consent.”

It was a rather dark statement. Strangely fitting, though, as far as Hannibal was concerned, and after a moment Will found his unease tempering, his face softening in the smallest of smiles as he was filled with an odd sense of lightness.  A muted dread he hadn’t fully realized he was holding seeped out of his chest and dissipated, and he suddenly felt like he could see Hannibal much more clearly than before.  What he saw sent a thrilled spark all the way from his heart to his groin.  It was like he could hear the pulsing beating of Hannibal’s heart from across the room, see it, glowing, right through his chest.  Whatever doubts and apprehensions he’d had seemed all at once pale and weak against that blazing strength.

Hannibal smiled warmly through his eyes, apparently detecting Will’s shift in understanding.

“You see me now,” Hannibal said.  He seemed content—or at least, somewhere between reconciled and satisfied—with that state of affairs.  There was a hinted, unspoken ‘finally’ hanging in the air. 

“To be fair,” Will said, matching Hannibal’s affectionately mocking tone.  “You haven’t always made it easy.”

Hannibal acknowledged that point with a tilt of his head.  “It has taken me some time to accept.”  He met Will’s eyes.  “Surrender does not come easily to me.  I did resist it.  Though by the time I realized enough to try, I think it was already too late.”

Will smiled wanly.  “I could say the same thing.”              

It was a matter of perspective, he supposed, who was the captor and who the captive.  It hardly mattered now, in any case; either way, they were stuck with each other.      

Will felt his shoulders ease, his back settling into the upholstery of the chair behind him.  They had walked so many miles, crossed so much hostile territory to arrive here.  It would be almost unappreciative not to revel in where they found themselves. 

He finally allowed himself to look freely over Hannibal’s form for the first time since he’d woken, his eyes wandering over the man’s naked body with libertine indulgence.  His gaze was obvious and deliberately lewd, and Hannibal shifted very slightly under its intensity, which Will observed with no small amount of satisfaction. 

“You planning to put some clothes on,” Will asked dryly.  “Maybe take a shower?” 

“What for?” Hannibal replied with aplomb.  He leaned back, bracing both hands behind him on the bed, and crossed his legs at the ankles, appearing utterly casual and at ease. 

Will laughed—at himself, at Hannibal, at the two of them together.  At the infinite strangeness of the universe.  Shaking his head, he let out a defeated sigh. 

“I’m not really sure what the procedure is, here,” Will said blithely.

“There is no precedent for us, Will, no established procedure.  I’m afraid we will have to make due.”  Hannibal’s tone was laced with amusement, though it wasn’t entirely unsympathetic.  Will glared at him, but the look lacked bite.  Even if, looking back, it was hard not to see Hannibal’s discrete hand molding the path of their discussion, Will was having trouble resenting him for it at the moment.

“Did you really think I might be punishing you?” Will asked skeptically, as he picked over their conversation in his mind. 

Hannibal gave a little shrug.  “It was within the realm of possibility.  You did spank me after all,” he added, with a twitch of an eyebrow.

This time Will couldn’t hold back a loud snort as he descended into giggles. 

“Jesus,” Will almost wheezed.  “I can’t believe I just heard the word ‘spank’ come out of your mouth.”  Hannibal just arched his brow higher and Will caught a new fresh wave snickers.  Putting a hand to his mouth, he fought to smother his laughter.  “No, uh,” he said, sniggering again.  “That wasn’t, um…punitive.”  He glanced over to Hannibal, his chortling finally under control.  “That was just fun.” 

Hannibal’s brow quirked higher in a sort of ‘Oh, really?’ gesture, and Will shrugged. 

“You have a nice ass,” he said by way of explanation, taking an attitude of provocative dismissiveness.  “It looks good in red.” 

Hannibal’s eyes flickered, and Will caught the subtle motion of his thighs clenching. 

“Tell me, Will,” Hannibal said, assuming a tone of casual unaffectedness.  “How did it feel to have me so entirely helpless?  To know you could do anything to me, and I would be unable to stop you?” 

Will’s groin tightened, and he let himself shift in his chair, allowing Hannibal to see how his words affected him.  “Powerful,” he said, giving the expected, obvious answer.  He regarded Hannibal heatedly from under hooded eyes.  “Exhilarating.  Deeply, and profoundly erotic.  Seeing your body like that, so soft and pliant and...”  He smirked.  “Fuckable.”  Taking a breath, Will let his eyes flutter shut, remembering.  “It was the most arousing experience of my life.” 

Eyes still closed, Will heard a faint, rumbling sigh, and smiled.  Opening his eyes, he fixed them on Hannibal. 

“Tell me, Hannibal,” Will asked back challengingly.  “How did it feel to wake up naked, aching, and covered in cum?”  Will’s lip quirked.  “Covered in cum is a very good look for you, by the way.”     

The corner of Hannibal’s eye twitched, barely noticeable, and he looked back at Will, not answering.  Finally, he inhaled, letting the breath out again unhurriedly, and replied. 

“Like I had been claimed.” 

Will exhaled, blowing our air through his nostrils as heat tore through his body.  He didn’t say anything though; it wasn’t hard to discern the kind of ‘Truth of Dare’ game they’d fallen into, and it was Hannibal’s turn. 

Hannibal lifted his chin, watching Will closely. 

“Of all the acts you indulged in while I was in my unconscious state,” Hannibal said, each word clear and precisely chosen.  “Which brought you the most pleasure?”

Will froze.  Then, with a gentle sigh, he closed his eyes.  He replayed the events in his mind, gliding through them with his near perfect recollection.  He considered Hannibal’s question, weighing and assessing carefully before opening his eyes again.  He looked over at Hannibal, an answer ready on his lips, but he didn’t speak it.  Because this was a game now. 

And Will liked to win. 

“Why don’t I show you.”   

Will’s voice was dark and gravelly when he spoke, dripping with promise and just a hint of menace.  It was a dare, a gauntlet thrown at Hannibal’s feet.  A test, maybe, to see if Hannibal would live up to his earlier promises.  

Hannibal blinked, this sudden turn clearly unexpected. 

“You said you were sorry to have missed the events of last night,” Will pointed out.  “Maybe I can give you a taste.” 

After a pause, Hannibal inclined his head.  “Very well.” Hannibal said easily, like he was agreeing on a choice of wine at dinner.  “And what morsel of your revel will we be reenacting?” 

“Ah, ah,” Will said, wagging a finger.  “First—” He fixed Hannibal with a warning look.  “If we’re going to do this, then you’ll have to do exactly as I say,” Will expounded dryly.  “And, otherwise, lay perfectly and completely still.”  He twitched an eyebrow.  “For accuracy.”

Hannibal regarded him silently.  The moment stretched, and then he gave one, single, clear nod.  His lips parted, and he took in a muted breath before speaking.  “What would you have me do?” 

If Will hadn’t been rock hard already, that probably would have done it.  Hannibal, Will noted, was half hard himself, resting plumply against his thigh.  Will stood, pushing up off the arms of the chair.  He crossed to the bed, passing where Hannibal was sitting on his way.  He picked up the same pillow he’d used before and tossed squarely in the center of the bed.  Hannibal watched his movements curiously, then turned his gaze up to meet Will’s as Will looked down to meet his. 

“Lie down on your stomach with that under your hips,” he said with a nod toward the pillow.  Then he waited. 

Hannibal sat, unmoving.  He continued to look up at Will, their eyes meeting evenly, while he sat frozen on the edge of the mattress.  Every muscle seemed to be suspended, held in a single moment.  He almost appeared not to be breathing. 

Then, like a rope snapping, his neck turned, breaking their eye contact as he twisted away from Will in a motion that brought his legs smoothly onto the bed under him.  Agile and efficient, Hannibal placed himself in position without a word, not even sparing a glance in Will’s direction.  Will supposed he shouldn’t be surprised Hannibal would manage to make even this appear haughty and somewhat graceful. 

Having done as Will bade him, Hannibal now lay across his front, the pillow properly angling his hips upward, and he met Will’s eyes again in a way that said, ‘So, there.  What now?’  He was pushed up on his elbows, head held high over his squared shoulders, looking for all the world like he was waiting for his masseuse to arrive.  It made Will smile, though maybe a little meanly, and he had to conclude that having Hannibal awake and aware was, indeed, quite a bit more fun—even if it took a good deal more effort and concentration. 

Coolly, Will placed one knee on the bed, set a hand to the back of Hannibal’s neck, and pushed.  There was a moment of resistance, and then Hannibal slowly lowered himself to the bed, letting his face sink into the bedding under him.  Smiling with warm amusement, Will allowed himself to run his fingers through the short hairs at the back of Hannibal’s neck before gently turning Hannibal head to one side.  He arranged Hannibal arms as well, bending them at the elbow beside his shoulders and curling Hannibal’s fingers softly into his palms.  As a final touch, he brushed some of Hannibal’s hair so it fell loosely over his face. 

His picture complete, he stood up again, and looked down from the side of the bed.  He could see Hannibal’s eyes peeking out him, watching.  He could tell Hannibal close them, he supposed, but instead he let Hannibal look as he began to undo the top button of his shirt.

“I enjoyed,” Will narrated as he went about disrobing, dropping each article carelessly on the floor.  “Everything I did last night.  Everything.  From the very first moment to the last.  Every touch.  Every action.  Even just looking at you.  I did so many dirty, filthy things to you, Hannibal, and I relished every one.” 

Hannibal’s eyelids fluttered, muscles shifting as they clenched under his skin.  Will smirked, dropping his pants around his ankles.  He stepped out of them and kicked them away, now left only in his underwear. 

“But,” Will continued, as he drew his boxers down his legs and tossed them aside.  He stood naked, his erection jutting out, hip cocked to one side, his posture overtly sexual and utterly unabashed. 

“I don’t think anything compared to fucking that tight, hot ass of yours.” 

A restrained shiver ran down Hannibal’s spine, his fingers twitching against the bed.  It was so starkly different, how this body lay here now compared to before.  It was superficially the same—near complete stillness, punctuated by infinitesimal motions—but the base material of the structure had been changed.  In place of passivity, there was active resolve; instead of languid unawareness, every inch of Hannibal’s body seemed peaked to pick up on any minute grain of sensory input; rather than the static beauty of a deftly made work of art—which may mimic animate life but was ultimately lacking any vitality of will—the very air around Hannibal now appeared to quiver with golden intensity, each muscle under his skin ready to respond in a moment to the commands of Hannibal’s dangerously sharp mind and intelligent instinct.

Plucking the bottle of lube from the nightstand, Will rounded the bed, coming to stand behind Hannibal’s prone form.  Hannibal’s whole body seemed to expand and contract with each deliberate breath.  His posture was carefully controlled, but not rigid—he was studiously relaxed in the way he held precisely to his assigned position.  It reminded Will of a life model for a drawing class—a very good one—and he wondered if Hannibal, eminent sketcher that he was, had drawn the same comparison and was channeling it purposefully. 

Hannibal’s legs were gently parted, though it wasn’t the loose splaying of the night before.  Will put a hand to the back of Hannibal’s knee and pushed it outward, bending it and bringing the thigh up and to the side.  He planted his right knee on the bed and used it to shove Hannibal’s other leg out of the way so he could set himself directly behind Hannibal’s waiting ass.  Not hesitating, and with a cool and untroubled authority he wasn’t entirely sure he felt, he pumped a healthy helping of lubricant onto his fingers and then grabbed a handful of Hannibal’s left butt-cheek.  There was a slight flinch from the muscle under his hand, and Will spared a moment to glance toward Hannibal’s half-obscured face.  There was no further response, and so Will went on and pulled the cheek outward to expose Hannibal’s puckered hole. 

It presented quite a different sight than the one that had greeted Will the first time he’d gazed upon Hannibal this way.  Before, Hannibal had already been thoroughly finger fucked and his hole had glistened with dripping lube.  Now, his crack and pucker were caked with dried cum, and underneath that the tightly closed ring of muscle was tinged a deep pink and slightly swollen.  It looked raw and somewhat painful, and the splotches of cum added a flavor of coarse filth to the overall indecency. 

He touched one slick finger lightly to the reddened rim of Hannibal’s hole, and watched as it clenched reactively, recoiling. 

“Are you sore?” Will asked, his tone indifferent. 

There was a weighted pause.  “Yes,” Hannibal responded, head tilting very slighting over his shoulder.  “But it's hardly intolerable.”

Will smirked.  “Don’t worry,” he said, smugly mocking.  “I wasn’t planning on stopping.  I just like the idea of fucking you when you’re already aching, and I wanted to hear you say it.”  With that, he wriggled his index finger inside down to the third knuckle.  The passage was tight, and he heard a faint grunt from Hannibal as he pushed through. 

“Do you enjoy my discomfort?” Hannibal asked, managing to sound only a little breathy. 

Will watched his finger slide in and out of Hannibal’s hole, the flicked his eyes up over the man’s shoulder.  “Not in any spiteful way,” Will assured him.  “I just like seeing you squirm.  And I like the idea of you really—” He shoved in a second finger, probably a bit too soon, grinning as Hannibal’s spine stiffened.  “—feeling what I’m doing.  That is what you wanted, wasn’t it?  To feel everything I decided to do to you?”

Yes,” Hannibal breathed, a note of dark neediness bleeding in his voice. 

“I know you could block it out if you wanted,” Will acknowledged.  “I saw you take a bullet and barely bat an eye.  But I’d rather you didn’t, and I think you’d prefer it that way too.”

“Mm,” Hannibal confirmed.  “Though I’m not as convinced as you that I could retreat from this so easily.”  There was a pregnant pause.  “I’ve always felt your lightest touch more keenly than those from any other.” 

“You flatterer, you,” Will teased, stretching his fingers as wide as they would go.  The inner walls of Hannibal’s entrance pushed back against him, and he chuckled.  “You should relax, you know.  This would go easier.”  He smiled to himself.  “You should have seen how easily you opened for me the first time,” he went on, sucking in a breath as the memory sparked a fresh wave of arousal.  “You bent like clay.” 

Hannibal didn’t answer, but Will could hear the raspy sounds of his breathing, each inhale and exhalation carefully controlled. 

“Do you know what made fucking you that first time such a…sublimely pleasurable experience?”  Will asked conversationally.  “It wasn’t just the feeling of being buried inside you, though that was…” He chuckled.  “Exquisite.  No.  No, it was how…thoroughly and completely I sought out that pleasure.  I was selfishly indulgent in a way I had never been with anyone else.”

He ran his left hand up and over Hannibal buttock to the small of his back, sitting up on his knees.  He rubbed circles there, over the curve in Hannibal’s spine, affectionate and possessive, and then pressed down, forcing it into a deeper bend. 

“I took my pleasure in you, without a single thought beyond my own need, and you had no choice but to let me.  What you wanted didn’t matter—and if you enjoyed it, if it hurt…” 

He added a third finger with a vicious twist, feeling Hannibal’s spine twitch and arc slightly under his hand.

“…I didn’t care.  Because you were just a thing for me to use.” 

Will let out a slow breath, which ended in a kind of breathless laugh.  He set his eyes on the back of Hannibal’s head and what he could see of his face over his shoulder.  It was an obstructed view, but he could tell Hannibal’s eyes were open and he wondered what Hannibal was looking at.  Whether he was peering back at Will from the corner of his eye. 

“You’re one of the most dangerous people in the world, Hannibal,” Will stated musingly.  Hannibal’s shoulders appeared to flex minutely at his words, as if called to reflect the truth of them.  “The most brilliant and diabolical mind I’ve ever encountered.”  He pitched his voice lower. 

“And I made you into a hole for my cock.”

Hannibal stopped breathing.  He grew even more profoundly still, holding the air inside his lungs.

“…This is my design,” Will murmured sardonically, and pulled his fingers from Hannibal’s ass. 

Hannibal seemed to shudder, and released a shaky breath through parted lips. 

Will coated his cock with lube, then wiped his hand on the bed.  Meticulously, he placed each finger over a corresponding purplish bruise on Hannibal’s hips, and aligned the tip of his cock with Hannibal’s despoiled hole.  He closed his eyes, just breathing for a moment, taking himself back to the memory of that first time, to that state of greedy, hedonistic lust. 

He slammed inside, yanking Hannibal’s ass back against his hips as he speared him, and there was a choked sound coming from somewhere but that didn’t matter, all that mattered was the tight, slick heat around his cock and that base, impulsive need to thrust.  He paused for less than a breath before sliding back and slamming in again, and then again, and again.  The body under him pulsed and flexed, arching into him with every forward motion.  There were panting noises echoing through the room—two distinctive, overlapping breathes palpitating in and out of time with each other.

A sharp bang startled him, bringing Will partially out of his revelry.  He opened his eyes and, looking around quickly, saw that Hannibal’s right leg had kicked out behind him, slamming the heel of his foot hard against the bed post, his toes curling and scraping against the bedding under them.  With a breathy smile, Will turned back to the man lying under him. 

“Try to lie still,” Will chided mildly.  “I wouldn’t want to break your bed.  It’s probably an antique.” 

There was a low, snarling whine in response, and Will saw that Hannibal’s hands were fisted tightly into the covers.  Will tugged him more firmly onto his cock and was rewarded with a sharp groan. 

“God, you feel good,” Will muttered under his breath.  “So fucking tight.  So fucking hot.”  He knew he was babbling, half-delirious with sex, and that he probably sounded like a bad porno, but he couldn’t be bothered to care, let alone stop.  “Who knew Hannibal Lecter had such a sweet fucking hole.”

There was a sharp hiss, and then a hushed, drawn out wail from the man in question, which Will only barely managed to recognize as his own name.

Will,” Hannibal whimpered again, the single syllable broken up into a series of shuddering sounds. 

“Now, be good,” Will said, feeling a bit dizzy.  “And lie still.  Until I’m finished.”  He punctuated the last word, digging his fingers into the bruises on Hannibal’s hips, and felt Hannibal buck underneath him, jerking sharply up into Will’s cock.  There was a long series of low mutterings, raspy and indistinct, which Will took a moment to identify as words, and another moment to discern that they were definitely not in English. 

“You better not be cussing me out in whatever language you’re speaking,” Will warned, though he was far too amused and high off endorphins to really mind. 

Hannibal turned and glared over his shoulder.  “Velnio išpera.” 

Will just lifted a bemused eyebrow, and then rolled his hips into Hannibal’s ass. 

Hannibal’s eyes snapped shut, clenching his teeth with a pained moan.  His hair was mussed, his face ragged.  Beads of sweat slid down his neck to his throat and glistened along the curves of his shoulder-blades.  He looked ready to break apart, to rend himself into gruesome, bloody pieces, and Will was torn between the impulse to hold him together, or help with the shattering.

Flashing images of teacups and fallen hatchlings blinked across his brain.    

“What does it feel like?”

Hannibal’s eyes opened at Will’s words, turning to stare incredulously over his shoulder. 

“Well, if you’re not going to lie still…” Will scolded.  “Answer the question.” 

Hannibal let out a puffing breath, eyes closing again briefly, in frustration or concentration, Will wasn’t quite sure. 

“…Full.”  He said finally, like it was taking all his effort to form the word.  “Hot.”  He shut his eyes tight, lips trembling.  “H…” He stopped, swallowing thickly.  “Hurts.  But…” There was a deep groan from the back of Hannibal’s throat.  It reverberated all through his body, and Will could feel it vibrating around his cock.  “Good.  Good, Dieve, so good. 

His voice sounded cracked, his accent thick to the point the words were barely intelligible.  Will was struck into stunned silence, because God he’d just reduced Hannibal fucking Lecter to monosyllables.  

With a growl, Will shoved Hannibal down into the mattress and fucked into him in a renewed frenzy of brutal, rapid thrusts.  It was uneven and artless, but it was also fast and deep that was all that mattered. 

At the first snap of Will’s hips Hannibal’s head fell forward, neck and shoulders hunching as he let out a wordless cry that still managed to sound vaguely foreign.  As Will continued to fuck him, his fingers tore blindly at the bedclothes, dragging the top cover in his fists till the edges were pulled from the sides of the mattress.  Will drove into him over and over, and Hannibal began undulating his hips, alternately pushing back onto Will’s cock, and then grinding his hips down and forward.  Humping the pillow, Will realized dazedly. 

“Look at you, you mangy bitch,” he heard himself say, a hint of Louisiana bleeding into the sounds. 

Hannibal shuddered under him, sucking in a gasping, choked breath. 

“You look so good on my cock, I could take a God damned picture,” Will finished, pausing to appreciate the sight of his hard shaft sticking partway out of Hannibal’s hole as it slid out to prepare for another thrust in.         

A surge of something tore through him suddenly, and as he plunged in again his right hand came up and laid a brutal smack to the underside of Hannibal’s ass.  The sound of it cracked through the air and Hannibal clenched tight around him, jerking forward at the impact.  Will groaned at the sensation of Hannibal’s hot inner walls squeezing in around him, and so he hit him again, harder this time.  The result was even better. 

Bracing himself on Hannibal’s back, he used his other hand to lay punishing blows to the ass rammed onto his cock, rocking shallowly into the tightened passage. 

Caught his fervor, is was a while before Will became aware of a soft, constant, whimpering sound.  Breaking through his frenzy, he looked up and found Hannibal with his forehead pressed in to the bed, persistent, uninterrupted shivers running through his shoulders. 

A thread of pity finally managed to worm its way in through Will’s haze of lust, and, contrite, he stroked a soothing hand over Hannibal’s abused ass.  In a gesture of apology, he then slipped that hand under Hannibal’s thigh and grabbed the neglected cock hanging below. 

At his first, lightest touch, Hannibal went off like a landmine.  Will was not prepared, and he nearly choked as his cock was caught in the vice like grip of Hannibal’s passage as it spasmed violently around him. 

Hannibal’s orgasm tore through his body in a series of relentless shuddering waves, but with only a single startled cry—which may, in fact, have been Will’s—while Will lay across his back, gripping Hannibal erupting cock for dear life.  It wasn’t long until his own orgasm broke through, and he dragged his teeth across the skin of Hannibal’s back, spilling gracelessly into his trembling ass. 

Will didn’t know how long he lay there, sprawled on top of Hannibal like an exhausted—but very happy—puppy, but eventually he did coax his limbs into motion.  He untangled himself from Hannibal’s still slightly quivering body, his cock slipping free of Hannibal’s hole as he sat back on his heels.  He looked dumbly at his hand, streaked with Hannibal’s still warm spunk, and absently rubbed the milky substance between his fingers. 

He glanced down at Hannibal’s used hole, now flaring and contracting around nothing as Will’s fluids dribbled out.  There was still a faint tremor to Hannibal’s body, the slightest vibration, just strong enough to disturb the air around it.  Other than that, he remained entirely unmoving. 

Flexing his cum covered hand, Will used his other one to pull at Hannibal’s hip until Hannibal got the message and rolled onto his back, pulling his knees under him and then stretching them out again with Will still between them.  The pillow was brushed to one side.  It and Hannibal’s stomach were both smeared anew with fresh cum. 

Hannibal’s expression was blank; there was only a faint dazed glow in his eyes to betray any kind of emotion.  But, his still cum-stained face was now also marked by the pale glimmer of fresh tears. 

Will had a sudden wild impulse to run to a computer and flood the message boards of TattleCrime with the declaration of ‘HANNIBAL LECTER CRIES DURING SEX’.  Although, it was very possible this was a one time event.  In which case, it would really be more accurate to say, “HANNIBAL LECTER CRIED DURING SEX WITH ME IN PARTICULAR,” which was honestly a much more heady concept when Will thought about it. 

Hannibal was staring straight upward, not meeting Will’s eyes.  After a moment, he lifted a hand and carefully wiped the damning traces from his cheeks, swallowing with a slight clench to his jaw. 

Something in the motion stabbed through Will’s chest, and he surged forward, bounding up Hannibal’s body to straddle his torso, because quite suddenly he’d realized something very important. 

He hadn’t kissed Hannibal yet. 

Well, he had, technically, but not really, not in a way that mattered.  Not when he was awake

Frantically, he cupped Hannibal’s face with both hands, not remembering until it was too late that his right hand still had Hannibal’s cum stuck to it, and before Hannibal could do anything but blink up at him, he swooped down and mashed their lips together, holding Hannibal face tightly as though to keep him from getting away.

Everything seemed to stop, the air freezing around them as Hannibal’s lips lay unmovingly under his. 

And then, all at once, Hannibal’s lips pushed back.

He surged upwards, wrapping his arms around Will’s back to keep him held tightly to his chest as he rose up like a shark from the water tasting blood.  Will pulled Hannibal toward him, angling the man’s face upwards with his hands to keep their lips locked tight as Hannibal came to sit up on the bed.  Will held himself up on his knees while straddling Hannibal’s thighs, which gave him the height advantage, while Hannibal trapped his body surely in his coiled arms. 

They opened their mouths together, moving as one, simply breathing each other in for a moment before crashing together again.  They sucked at each other’s lips hungrily, mouths twisting together in a way that was both urgent and savage.  There were still flakes of cum scattered across Hannibal’s mouth which marred the taste, but it seemed right to Will in a way that their first kiss should be somehow…bitter. 

Will was the first to slip his tongue between their lips and into Hannibal’s mouth, plunging deep and ruthless into its scorching wetness.  Hannibal groaned, and latched on to suck eagerly on the invading appendage.  Will could feel the sound of the groan reverberating through Hannibal’s chest, and moaned in response. 

After a while, Will began to grow desperate for air and started to pull back.  Hannibal resisted, sucking so hard on his tongue Will thought he might rip it from his head and swallow it.  Finally, Will managed to extract himself, and they sprung apart from each other, chests heaving and moistened lips parted.  Hannibal’s mouth looked almost bruised, and Will could see his tongue twitching longingly behind his teeth as he gazed with undisguised thirst at Will’s mouth. 

Decisively, Will’s right hand took a strict hold of Hannibal jaw, digging his fingers in and holding him in place.  His other hand reached around to brace itself against the base of Hannibal’s skull.  Held in this makeshift vice, Hannibal’s eyelids fluttered, and he then seemed to quiet somewhat.  His arms around Will loosened, hands coming to rest gently at the small of Will’s back. 

Will looked over the details of Hannibal’s face, marking out a mental map of it in his mind.  Hannibal’s eyes stared intently up at him, so bright in their blackness Will thought they might blind him. 

He lowered his gaze to Hannibal’s parted lips—the slices of flesh still wet and flushed and panting.  In a kind of removed stupor, Will slid his thumb from Hannibal’s jaw to his mouth, dragging coarsely over his lips. 

“Do you remember me doing this to you?” Will asked mutedly. 

Hannibal’s eyes flickered.  He shook his head.

“Hm.” Will gave a little half shrug.  “You weren’t fully under yet; I thought maybe you might.” 

Hannibal just kept watching him, silent.  Will slipped his thumb between Hannibal’s teeth, and slowly pressed inside.  At the deepest point, he held it there, resting against the curve of Hannibal’s tongue.  There was a beat, and then Hannibal’s cheeks hollowed.  He sucked tightly on the flesh of Will’s thumb, tongue pulsing hot and heavy around the digit.  

Will sighed.  A bittersweet lump formed in the hollow of his throat. 

He dragged his thumb from Hannibal’s mouth, pulling down on the bottom lip as he went, and then rested his palm against Hannibal’s cheek.  Hannibal placed his own hand over Will’s and turned his head, pressing his lips to the center of Will’s open hand.  Then, he opened his mouth and began cleaning the last bits of his cum that still clung there, licking and sucking until the skin was left clean. 

“How do you taste?” Will asked with a soft, slightly wicked smile.

“Not as good as you, I’d imagine,” Hannibal replied, tossing a coquettish glance from the corner of his eye. 

Will gave a puff of laughter, and shook his head wryly.  “I should really be more wary of sticking my dick inside the mouth of someone who regularly eats human flesh, but honestly, I’m just incredibly turned on by the idea.” 

Hannibal made a disapproving sound in the back of his throat.  “As though I’d ever wish to maim you in that way—” He shot Will a dark glance, eyes sizzling.  “—after what you just did to me.” 

His chocolate eyes glinted merrily, and Will felt a pleased shiver run up his spine.  He threaded his newly cleaned hand through Hannibal’s hair, and let out a contented sigh. 

“This is probably not exactly the most ideal moment I could have chosen to ask this question, but…have you ever done that before?” Will asked gingerly.  “I...I mean, been with a man.  Like that.  Before.”  Will felt his face heating, embarrassed mostly that he was only thinking to ask this after fucking the man twice. 

Hannibal looked thoughtful.  “I have.  But not, I'll admit, in quite some time.  I've had more recent experience with a woman 'like that' as you so quaintly put it, but even that was years ago now."  He shot Will a look, full of jocularity.  "I did spend three years incarcerated, after all.  More than enough time for such an act to feel new again."     

Will frowned, taking that in.  'Feel new again' was probably a polite way of saying that his ass felt damn near torn apart after how rough Will had been with him.  Then the rest of what he'd said got through to Will's brain and he blinked, running the phrasing and context over in his mind.    

“'Experience with a woman like that', what does that mean?"  Hannibal merely lifted a brow.  "You mean you’ve…”  He trailed off, kind of hoping Hannibal would fill in the rest.  No such luck.  “Does that mean...you’ve let a woman fuck you with a strap-on.  Is that what you’re telling me?” 

There was a brief pause.  “Yes.” 

Will just gaped.  Well, that was…a picture, to be sure.  Abruptly, an alarming thought occurred to him because 'more recent' had been the other part of that sentence.  “Wait.  D…do I know any of the women you’ve done that with?” He asked with some dread. 

There was a beat, and then Hannibal’s eyes slid sleekly to one side.  Will shut his own eyes with a groan. 

“Bedelia?” He asked tightly after a moment, stomach souring. 

Hannibal sniffed lightly.  “No; that was never quite the nature of our relationship.” 

Will grunted, feeling relieved.  Until he realized…

“…Alana?” 

Hannibal looked at him, the gave a little shrug, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.  The look on Will’s face must have been quite amusing, because Hannibal’s smile widened. 

“…Who the hell even brought an idea like that up?” Will asked disbelievingly. 

“I suggested it,” Hannibal explained neatly.  “Because I knew it was something that interested her.  It was a way of displaying the appearance of intimacy, and vulnerability.” 

Will bit down on the side of tongue.  Chuckling darkly, a sad smile pulled tightly at his lips.  “And is that what you’re doing now?” he asked faintly.  “Making a ‘display’ of intimacy?  The...appearance of vulnerability?” 

Hannibal’s eyes and face went abruptly blank.  Expression impenetrable, there was suddenly not a single trace of emotion.  And somehow, that was exactly how Will knew whatever Hannibal was about to say would be true.

“No.” 

Will let out a shaky breath he hadn’t know he was holding.  That bittersweet lump was back in his throat, and he brushed a stray strand of hair from Hannibal’s face.

“You know,” he said, speaking stiffly.  “A good part of why I…did what I did,” Will admitted.  “Was that I couldn’t…picture this.”  He looked down at Hannibal staring up at him, and all of a sudden tears prickled behind his eyes.  “I didn’t think you’d ever…”  Will shook his head.  “…Let me see you like this,” he said at last, very quietly.  “I couldn’t see you being messy or needy or uncontrolled…not unless you were forced to be.”  His voice cracked a little on the word ‘forced.’  He let out a bitter puff of laughter, and then, meeting Hannibal’s eyes, pressed his forehead to his with a watery smile.  “That was a…catastrophic failure of imagination, on my part.” 

He felt it then, that pang of regret he’d been eluding, like an arrow to the heart, sorrowful guilt spilling out around the wound like blood.  Because—he could have asked for this.  He realized that now.  All he’d had to do was ask, and Hannibal would have given it to him.  And knowing that made his stomach twist into knots like he’d swallowed poison. 

He pressed his lips together and blinked back tears. 

“I’m s—“

“Don’t.” 

Hannibal cut him off sharply, a hard edge on his tongue and a restrained fury behind his eyes.  Then, his eyes softened.   His next word gentle, and very slightly broken.

“Please.”

Hannibal let out a sigh then, reaching up a hand to lay his palm to the side of Will’s face, the gesture so painfully, achingly familiar.

“I don’t ever want to hear those words from you.” 

It could have been an ultimatum, or a command, but instead it was said plaintively.  Like he was begging.

Will sighed, nodding, because he certainly couldn’t deny Hannibal now.  Still, he couldn’t shake the dull ache in his chest.  Shoulders hunched, he peered out at Hannibal.  His voice was a whisper when he spoke, his eyes somber and contrite. 

“I could’ve asked.”  

The acknowledgement was as close to an apology as Hannibal would allow him, though it didn’t feel like enough.

Hannibal tilted his head, regarding him with a patient warmth from under softly hooded eyes.    

“But,” said the Cannibal. “Isn’t it so much more interesting that you didn’t?”