“This is all I ever wanted for you Will.” Hannibal panted. “For both of us.”
Will clutched onto the doctor’s shirt, leaving another streak of red on his expensive dress shirt. A weak laugh escaped his lips as he was suddenly reminded of the years of betrayal and deceit. Abigail. Italy. Molly. Was their loss necessary to achieve this perfect moment of honesty? He knows that he should ache for their loses, but instead of anger or contempt, Will was too entranced by the older man’s visage; red eyes glinting with desperation, bereft of his usual veils and facades.
“It’s beautiful.” Will murmured, caressing away the doctor’s uncertain smile. Hannibal turns his head towards the touch, his split lips kissing the cuts and welts on Will’s hand as he sighed in relief. They were finally at peace, two men leaning against each other for comfort, recognizing the same monsters that lurked inside their heart in one another.
Suddenly, the raw strength and adrenaline that kept Will going faded into nothingness. Gone was the unflinching beast that stared down the dragon and sneered. He was left with his creaking bones, and something as simple as a sharp intake of breath was enough to make him aware of all his wounds and injuries.
Hannibal noticed the man’s swaying body and caught him in his arms, his body steady despite having gone through the same ordeal that Will did. ‘Worse even.’ He thought absentmindedly, feeling the sharp burn of a bullet that went through his abdomen.
The scent of blood and cedar enveloped Will, calling forth warm memories of their companionable dinners. ‘I am safe.‘ Will thought in both realization and relief, sagging deeper into Hannibal’s arms. ‘With him, I have always been safe.’
“Stay with me Will.” Hannibal whispered, unable to hide the rising cadence of his voice. The Dragon’s blood on his fingers glinted like liquid ebony, a wendingo’s claw digging deep into Will’s arm. Hannibal’s touch hurts more than the wounds Dollarhyde dealt, but the pain jarred Will back to reality, to their reality, where dragons were slain and perfection was attainable.
Blue eyes struggled to keep Hannibal’s gaze, wavering in panic. Hannibal was suddenly reminded of Will’s seizure. Back then, Hannibal chest fluttered at the prospect of manipulating the vulnerable empath, but now that he’s faced with the same situation, Hannibal’s chest only tighten in fear. He cannot let Will lose the identity he had just discovered.
“My dear… Stay with me.” The man pleaded again, but his words only seem to agitate him even further. Blue bleeds into black and his pupils narrowed down into mere dots, darting back and forth as he looked for an escape.
Those were the eyes of a prey, but Will was no mere prey. Not anymore.
Hannibal almost couldn’t bear to watch. One second Will was his equal, a magnificent creature of raw power and passion, and the in the next he is back to a mere man, consumed by the pressures and shame that the mass has imprinted upon this beautiful creature.
‘It was nice seeing the real Will Graham, even if it were just for a second.’ Hannibal thought, bringing the man deeper into his embrace, knowing full well that this might be the last time he could freely embrace the object of his desire. Will twisted and pulled against him, a frenzied protest rising from his chest.
“I am with you, Will.” He said, his voice deep as he tried to swallow his welling emotions. “I will always be with you.”
He knew what comes next. Hannibal could smell it on him, the acrid scent of betrayal, as familiar as aftershave with ships on the bottle. The man pulled away, placing a gentle hand onto the side of Will’s bleeding cheek.
Stormy blue eyes welled up with tears.
Moonlight fell against Hannibal’s blood red eyes, and his tears made them glitter like rubies. His gaze remains warm. His smile, gentle. His hold, true.
‘Never.’ They answered
Will sighed and raised his arms, embracing Hannibal for one last time, and leaned them both off the cliff edge.
He used to fancy himself Hades, eager to tempt the beautiful Persephone with his pomegranate seeds. It wasn’t until now that Hannibal understood his role. He was the divine maiden, helplessly drawn to his intended, forever pulled back to his orbit even if it meant plunging deep into the underworld.
Yet, in spite of that knowledge, Hannibal found himself content.
He has no need for a heaven, because the genuine second they shared together is as sweet as any biblical paradise. He held no fear for the fires of hell, for the knowledge that they will soon part is enough torment for his soul.
Still, he welcomed their fates, and would again if given the chance.
The waves below them roared, it’s ever-churning maw as fearsome as Jörmungand’s mighty jaw. Hannibal could feel Will’s duress wet against his chest. What was he crying about, he wondered. Is he mourning for the wife and child that he’s leaving behind? Is he weeping for his canine companions, all who will be bereft without him by their side? Or maybe he is regretting ever meeting him, the snake that tempted him away from his idyllic frozen paradise?
‘It doesn’t matter-‘ Hannibal thought, his heart light and unburdened.’ -because we are finally together.’
An eternity stretched between the cliff and the surface of the Atlantic, and before they broke the water’s surface, Will knew that he had made a mistake.
Three times he denied Hannibal, and each time resulted in the death of someone he loved. Now they fall together, another betrayal, another denial, but the only loved one remained was there with his arms wrapped around his body.
‘God. Please no.’ Will prayed, but there was no god. There were only them, divine in their mortality until they smashed their head upon the rocks.
Will thought he was doing the right thing. Rejecting the temptation of sin, protecting the innocent -killing the monster inside that called out for Hannibal's- Isn’t that what good people do? They serve and protect, lay down their lives if needs be, all for the sake of protecting the helpless from monsters like Hannibal.
Oh, but what a lovely monster he turned out to be.
Ever since Hannibal’s letter disrupted his life, Will has been struggling to see the good in this world he so adamantly defends. The laughter of family and friends isolated him, their concern and kindness only confirming the one irrevocable facts he has chosen to ignore.
He only ever belonged to Hannibal, just as the man had only ever belonged to him.
So he retreated back into his memories and reminisces. Companionable nights together, shared over dinner or wine, ended with whiskey and whispered secrets.
Overtime sessions spent together trading wits, fencing with words sharper than swords, ending each sentence with a playful smile, a balm to soothe the wounds each eager to bear.
The way his eyes softens when he said his name.
“Will.” The sweetest melody nature could ever replicate.
Those memories sustained him, but only barely. He was like a doe wading through an endless stream, filling his belly with water while he slowly starved.
Eventually Will became sick of himself, of his weakness. Every fiber of his being was drawn to Hannibal and he knows it. When they are together, the loneliness that has made home in his heart is gone, giving space to joy. Space to love.
His demons was absent in Hannibal’s presence, but instead of holding him close like a priceless talisman, Will pushed him him away and settled for mediocre substitutes. Alana. Margot. Molly. God, Molly. How in the world could someone so normal replace the perfection that is Hannibal?
Angry tears flooded past his periphery and soaked into Hannibal’s shirt. He should’ve gone to Italy with him. He should’ve reached for his hand instead of that knife. He should’ve invited him into his bed and threw his metaphysical scribbles away, and told him he doesn’t need them anymore. Time did reverse. The teacup was whole again. They were whole again.
Alas, he didn't, and now his time has run out.
‘-but Hannibal's shouldn't.’
With every bit of his strength left in him, Will twisted his body and pushed Hannibal’s above his. Judas’s death might have absolved him of his betrayal, but Will’s sould can only be cleansed if Hannibal lives.
‘If there is a God,’ Will thought, praying earnestly for the first time in his life. ‘then may he be merciful towards us.’
It only took him a second to realize just how ludicrous his thoughts are. If there is a god then it might as well be Hannibal, a cruel deity whose favor brings him immeasurable bliss and suffering. Will could only hope he had properly worshiped him because, ‘You are worthy Hannibal, worthy of my life. You’re worthy of my soul.’
The water hit the back of his head like concrete, stealing his breath with a violent rip.
‘Live.’ He thought, grasping Hannibal’s hand. ‘Live.’
Darkness took over his vision and fire lit up in his lungs. On the edge of his blurry vision, he saw the ravenstag, dissipating into the currents like a blotch of ink in water. It was then that Will Graham knew that death is near, yet he was unafraid, because he was no longer alone.