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Voluntary Confinement

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He woke up to the sound of footsteps, the cadence of them so familiar it made him want to close his eyes again. It was obviously Hannibal, had to be Hannibal. After all, it was Hannibal who brought him here, wasn’t it? Through the fog of pain and the paralytic Cordell had pumped Will with, he had still been aware of the warmth of Hannibal’s body and the slight limp in his steps as he’d carried Will to safety. Then he’d gone away, and Will had surrendered himself to sleep.

Now he sat up in his own bed, his body aching from the abuse it had suffered in the past few weeks. The light from the open doorway glowed like a halo around Hannibal’s figure, highlighted the planes of his face, picked up the silver in his hair. Will leaned against the wall as Hannibal sat down on the chair next to his bed, legs crossed casually, as though he were sitting in his office back in Baltimore across from Will during one of their therapy sessions. 

“Do we talk about teacups and time and the rules of disorder?” Hannibal asked. He’d cleaned himself, washed his face so that the cuts on one cheek looked almost unreal, like they were only pasted on. 

“The teacup’s broken,” Will said. He swallowed, bracing himself to say what he intended to say, all along. “It’s never going to gather itself back together again.” Hannibal had been ready to cut him open. Devour him. Will would have the scar for the rest of his life, another crack in the porcelain surface of his mind that could never be filled.

“Not even in your mind?” For a moment Will could see the uncertainty in Hannibal’s eyes, the desperation. Then it was gone, and he thought maybe he had imagined it. Hannibal went on. “Your memory palace is building. It’s…full of new things. It shares some rooms with my own. I’ve discovered you there, victorious.”

Will couldn’t decide if it was defeat he really heard in Hannibal’s voice, or something like gaining confidence. This is not ground I wish to conquer, he could tell Hannibal, but that was all wrong, Will wasn’t sure it was the truth, because with Hannibal it was impossible not to wish, not to want, even when he knew he could never truly win. “When it comes to you and me, there can be no decisive victory.”

“We are in zero-sum game.” Hannibal looked pleased at the prospect of one of them gaining what he needed at the expense of the other. A part of Will wondered if it would be so bad, to just give in to him. If he let Hannibal win it all, what was it that he would have to give up? 

He tore his gaze away from Hannibal, his eyes landing on the dog bed in the corner. Yes. That. “I miss my dogs,” he said, and in saying it, the feeling welled up inside him. He grabbed hold of it and didn’t let go. If he stayed with Hannibal—but no, that wasn’t an option, he couldn’t—he would never be able to see his dogs again; he couldn’t very well take pets on the run, could he? 

“I’m not going to miss you.” That was true, as well. Will hadn’t so much missed Hannibal as he had dreaded the very thought of him, lest he forget what it was he was meant to feel about the serial killer cannibal who gutted him and slit Abigail’s throat. When Hannibal was gone—because thatl was what had to happen—Will wouldn’t miss him, because he would not allow himself to think about him. 

Will sighed to relieve the pressure in his chest. The decision was made. He found himself able to say the next words more easily, even as Hannibal watched him with an almost pained expression in his eyes. “I’m not going to find you. I’m not going to look for you. I don’t want to know where you are or what you do. I don’t want to think about you anymore.” 

He thought maybe Hannibal was at a loss for words. He looked away from Will for a split-second, then caught his eyes again. “You delight in wickedness and then berate yourself for the delight.”

“You delight. I tolerate.” It wasn’t completely true, but if he was going to be allowed to quit this game without further injury to both of them—he almost laughed at himself. No, injury was unavoidable, no matter how he played it. “I don’t have your appetite.”

Perhaps he had managed to strike Hannibal speechless, after all. Had Hannibal been so sure of him, so sure of his ability to cultivate the requisite appetites in Will, that the resistance he met left him dumbfounded? Regardless of the reasons, he did remain silent. 

His eyelashes fluttered, and he looked so resigned that Will’s hands itched to reach out to him. Will forced himself to remain seated on the bed, one hand twisting the bed sheet underneath the thin blanket that covered him. Hannibal paused at the door, as if he wanted to say something, as if he were considering coming back for Will. Will feared that if Hannibal came to him now, pulled him up into his arms, he might break, he might let himself be convinced. 

He let out a long, ragged exhale when the door shut behind Hannibal again.
It was another three hours—or maybe it was four—before Jack and his entourage arrived. Will heard them pulling up to the front of the house. He went out to meet them. He let a few men pass him into the house without trying to stop them. Let them search all they wanted.

He was telling Jack that Hannibal was gone—he was safe—when he heard the footsteps in the snow, and saw movement somewhere at the edge of his vision. No, no, no. Don’t do this to me again.

“Jack. I’m here.” Hannibal, approaching with his hands held high. “You finally caught the Chesapeake Ripper, Jack.” You were supposed to leave. Will felt like he was living the same nightmare all over again. Hannibal was down on his knees, hands above his head. 

“I didn’t catch you. You surrendered.” 

“I want you to know exactly where I am,” Hannibal said, in his infuriatingly calm voice. He turned his head to look directly at Will. “And where you can always find me.” His words held a mocking note in them, meant for Jack, but he was speaking directly to Will, and his eyes told Will that he was sincere. 

Jack must have gotten the message too; he shot Will a contemptuous look. I should turn away, now,Will thought. Go back into the house. Make good on my word and never think of him again. It was what he should have done. It was what he’d planned to do. But Hannibal just had to go and turn himself in. 

The night that Abigail was killed flashed in Will’s mind: Hannibal’s face a mask of cold anguish, eyes wet with tears as he asked if Will would take away his freedom. Confine me to a prison cell? 

Now here he was, voluntarily stepping into one. 

“No,” Will said, the word choked in his throat, shaking his head. Breaking, at last. “Don’t—” Don’t surrender. 

Hannibal’s mouth fell slightly open in an expression of wonder. 

It happened quickly. One second, Hannibal was on his knees, eyes fixed on Will. Then he looked beyond him, somewhere up in the distance, and gave a small, almost imperceptible nod. Will wasn’t the only one who noticed it. He saw Jack tense and open his mouth to give an order, but Chiyoh, hidden in the trees, had already taken her shot. It knocked Jack back onto the ground. He clutched his chest where the blood was already blooming red like a flower. 

Hannibal dived down into the snow, rolling out of the way of FBI gunfire as Chiyoh picked off the surrounding agents—there were only eight of them, including Jack—one by one in quick succession. They were no match for an enemy they couldn’t see, and by the time any of them thought to shoot at the trees, Hannibal had a knife out of his pocket. 

Within five minutes, the scene was silent except for the gurgling breaths of the dying. Blood stood out starkly in the snow, in patches all around them; it looked black in the moonlight. 

Hannibal still held a knife in one hand; he was breathing hard from the exertion. He extended his other hand out to Will, palm up, a smile crinkling his eyes, and he looked so happy. 

Will stumbled off the porch steps. He placed his hand into Hannibal’s and let Hannibal pull him close.

Chapter Text

The relief Will felt when Hannibal's arms closed around him was so heavy it made his body shake. Hannibal smelled like sweat, blood, and antiseptic. Will laid his head against the crook of Hannibal's neck and breathed it all in. Hannibal's hand splayed across his cheek, his other hand gripped tight on his shoulder; Will vaguely wondered where the knife had gone.

Chiyoh emerged from the trees a little ways off and trudged quickly through the snow. Will turned his head on Hannibal's is shoulder, watching her approach. They pulled apart when she stood beside them, but Hannibal's hand still gripped his shoulder, as though he couldn't yet bear to let go of Will.

Chiyoh walked over to where Jack lay on his back, breathing shallow, eyes staring blankly up at the dark sky. Her eyes were hooded with regret. "I saved his life, back in Italy." 

A surprised smile curved Hannibal's lips. "You didn't mention." 

She shook her head, dismissive. "I did not think we'd meet again." 

“Jack wanted justice.” He would have hunted Hannibal until the ends of the Earth. He wouldn’t have given up. It wasn’t just professional pride with Jack; Hannibal had made Jack his friend, had saved Bella for Jack, and that made things personal, made Hannibal’s actions more betrayal than anything else he'd ever done. Even knowing the inevitability of this, Will couldn’t help the stab of guilt he felt in his gut. 

He took a few steps forward, dragging Hannibal with him, Hannibal still unwilling to let go. They sank onto the snow on their knees in front of Jack. Will laid his hand on the back of Jack’s, already going cold. “I’m sorry, Jack,” he whispered, his voice breaking. “I just…couldn’t.” 

Even in this state, Jack’s lips jerked into a small smile, the kind of smile that told them he would have laughed if he was able. Will didn’t know whether he meant to laugh at them, or at himself. Maybe he was just laughing at the situation he found himself in, at his own folly. At Will’s. Before Will could decide, he was gone. Will squeezed his hand one last time and let the answer die with him. 

Hannibal helped Will to his feet. “He was a good friend,” he said. “A better agent, but a good friend. I regret that we will not be able to honor him as he deserves.” Hannibal would have made a masterpiece of a meal with Jack, given the opportunity. 

“More will arrive soon,” Chiyoh said, cutting his sentiments short. “What will you do?”

“I would like to take Will abroad again. Perhaps not Europe.” He tilted his head, a small smile on his lips as he looked at Chiyoh. “Are you willing to watch over me for a little while longer?” 

Chiyoh nodded, eyes flicking briefly to Will’s face, like she didn't quite trust him yet. Who could blame her? Will barely trusted himself. 

“Splendid. We will need new passports, and transportation to Japan. I trust you still have your contacts with the yakuza?” 

“I do,” Chiyoh admitted, “But they are old and frayed. It will take a few days. You need to leave this place now.”

Hannibal’s touch had been gentle on the small of Will’s back, but now he reached for Will’s hand, took it in his and held it in a firm grip. “We shall wait there.” He recited an address in Townsend, Tennessee. “We will move on in five days’ time.” 

“I will come before then, if I'm able to come at all,” Chiyoh said. 

Hannibal nodded, and turned to Will. “It might be advisable for you to go back into the house and pack some belongings for a few days’ stay.” There was no urgency in his tone; now that he had Will within his grasp, he was all unhurried composure. When he finally let Will go to gather the dropped weapons and remove any cash he could find from the FBI agents’ wallets, Will tried not to feel bereft. 

By the time he came back with his overnight bag, stuffed with few days’ worth of clothes, his toothbrush, contacts case, and a few thousand in cash that he had stashed in various places around the house, Hannibal was sitting on the bench out on the porch. He had a leather duffel bag at his feet. 

“Where did you get that?” 

Hannibal stood and picked up the bag, smiling jauntily at Will. “Chiyoh was kind enough to pack some provisions. Shall we depart before the cavalry arrive?” 

They drove in one of the squad cars until they reached the next city, the silence stretching warm and thick like molasses between them. Will was content to let himself sink into the silence, his eyes watching the familiar surroundings from his window fly past them in the dark.  

“Would you prefer to wait here, or accompany me?” Hannibal asked, turning to face Will when they stopped on a deserted street corner. Outside, the dark asphalt was wet with snow, and it glittered strangely under the yellow street lights. 

Up until now, Will had been a passive participant in the events. The most he’d done was beg Hannibal not to surrender. And that was enough. Will pictured all those bodies laid out in the snow on his driveway in Wolf Trap, Jack’s bitter smile at the end. More than enough.

It was easy to pretend he had nothing to do with those deaths except as a witness to the crimes, but Will knew deep down that he was as responsible as Hannibal was.

He didn’t think he was ready to take more responsibility now. Not yet. “I’ll watch the car.” 

Hannibal nodded, unsurprised at the choice, though his hand lingered on the steering wheel for a moment too long. Perhaps he was worried Will would take the chance to leave. He’d come back and the car would be empty, and Will would be gone again. 

“I’ll be here,” Will said, and knew it to be true. He’d already lost his chance to abandon Hannibal.  Hannibal gave Will a small smile and climbed out of the car. Will watched him round the corner, the sparks of glitter on the street extinguished by his shadow as he walked. 

He must have dozed off as he waited for Hannibal, because when he opened his eyes again, Hannibal was leaning against his side of the car, face turned sideways so that he could look at Will through the window. Will turned the window down. 

“How long have you been standing there?”

“Not long. Perhaps ten minutes. You looked like you needed the rest. And I enjoyed the opportunity to observe.” 

“Aren’t we in a hurry?” They were on the run, after all. 

“I would have woken you up soon enough.” He pushed himself off the car. “Our new vehicle awaits.” Will noticed a gray Honda Accord parked a meter away. 

“What are we doing with this car?” He popped the trunk so they could get their bags. By the time he got out of the car, Hannibal had picked up both bags and carried them over to the other car. 

“Leaving it. I imagine the FBI will find it, when they arrive here. It is only polite to leave them something. They won’t have any luck trying to trace us from here. There is nothing leading them to the new car.” 

“And how did you manage that?” 

“A magician doesn’t reveal his tricks, Will.” 

 

Chapter Text

Will dozed for the rest of their journey on Hannibal’s suggestion. “You’re still not fully-recovered from the ordeals of late. I would like to arrive before sunrise, so we will be on the road for a while longer.” 

It was so easy to let sleep take him away, enveloped in Hannibal’s presence, just as it had been on the way from Muskrat Farm. Will leaned against the back of the seat and pretended that Hannibal’s arms were still around him, that the bump and shock of the car on graveled road matched the beat of Hannibal’s footsteps, the rhythm of his heart. Once in a while he would open his eyes to see Hannibal in profile, a pale glow of moonlight illuminating his face just enough for Will to see the small smile on his lips. He would close his eyes again, oddly reassured by the continued presence, and fall back asleep. 

He must have sunken deeper into sleep than he realized, because the next thing that woke him was stillness all around him. He jerked awake, blinking rapidly in blue half-light, heart thudding as he turned to search for Hannibal, almost certain he would find him gone. 

“Will,” came Hannibal’s voice, right there, right next to him. Hannibal still had that little smile on his face. He sat back in the driver’s seat, body turned toward Will. 

Will tried to slow the rush of air that struggled to escape his lungs. When it was dispelled, he swallowed, cleared his throat to rid himself of the tightness in it. “What time is it?” 

“Breakfast time, I think. We’ve arrived at our temporary destination. Would you like to go inside?” 

Will glanced outside for the first time since he woke up. They were parked in front of what looked like a log cabin, chimney jutting out of one side of the structure, glass-paned front door painted a translucent green. There didn’t seem to be anything or anyone else around. “Okay,” he said. “I could eat.” 

 

Will wasn’t that surprised that the cabin had a fully stocked pantry, plenty of firewood by the fireplace, and even some essentials in the small refrigerator. Hannibal seemed to know his way around the place. He left Will to explore while he pulled out a cast iron pan from one of the cabinets in the small galley kitchen and began cooking. 

There was a bathroom and shower with tiled walls. The huge shower head looked more luxurious than most hotels Will had stayed in. The back door across the kitchen led out to a small covered deck with two wood lounge chairs framing a small coffee table. A hot tub covered in dust sat in the corner. Inside, on the other side of the cozy living room, there was a bedroom with a king-sized bed. The multi-colored quilt spread out on it, with one corner turned back invitingly, appeared to be hand-sewn.

“Eggs with salsa verde,” Hannibal announced as Will came back from the bedroom. 

Will pulled out one of the stools from the small breakfast bar overlooking the stove and sat down, taking in the aroma of refried beans, green chilies, and eggs fried crispy around the edges. “Looks good,” he said before digging in. He realized he hadn’t eaten anything since that unfortunate meal with Verger. He couldn’t remember the taste of anything he ate then, just the salty tang of Cordell’s blood as Will bit into his face, the satisfying rip of his flesh under Will’s teeth. 

He looked over at Hannibal, who’d claimed the seat beside him. He had knife and fork in hand, but he wasn’t eating. 

Will swallowed and licked his lips. “Not up to your standards?” 

Hannibal made a gesture that might have been a shrug in someone less infuriatingly graceful. “One makes do with what one has. I've certainly eaten worse.” 

Will could say so much to that. “Then why aren't you eating?” Hannibal must have been as hungry as Will. 

“I have been preoccupied with the road for most of the night,” said Hannibal, and his smile shifted into something almost rueful. “I haven't had a chance to look at you.” 

Will remembered twice waking up in the car with Hannibal’s eyes on him. It seemed as if Hannibal had never stopped looking at him. He realized that Hannibal was looking at him now with the same expression he'd worn the evening before, when he'd held out his hand to Will; it was the warm intensity he'd given him in Italy when he'd spoken of seeing Will every day—forever. It was as though he was drinking Will in, as though the very sight of Will gave him sustenance. Will couldn't suppress the answering smile that it prompted now any more than he could then. He let himself give in to the sensation, happiness drowning out other more complicated feelings for the moment.

His smile seemed to please Hannibal, to reassure, though Will didn't know what else Hannibal needed to be reassured about—Hannibal had to be sure of him now. “If you don't eat yours soon, it'll get cold.” 

“Mustn't waste,” Hannibal murmured, and finally glanced down at his plate. 

 

 

After breakfast, they stood together by the tiny porcelain sink, Hannibal washing the dishes, Will drying them and setting them onto a towel spread out on the butcher’s block countertop.

“This place. Is it yours?”

“It belongs to an alias. There is a woman who maintains it as a vacation rental. She lives with her husband and child a few miles north of here, I believe. I made some calls to have it vacated for the next week.” 

“Isn't that a little dangerous?” 

“There is nothing about this that isn't. It is the nature of the beast.” Hannibal could’ve been talking about himself or about going on the run. 

“What will we do, now?” It was as good a time as any to ask that question, and the word ‘we’ fell surprisingly natural on his tongue. 

“Go abroad, as I mentioned.” 

“Japan.” 

Hannibal nodded, glancing briefly at Will to gauge his reaction. “Is that amenable? I would like to see you in Kyoto, in the shrines and temples. Among the old buildings in Gion district.”

Will thought about traveling with Hannibal to foreign places, and then he thought about what Hannibal had said to him as they sat at table together in Italy. I would have liked to show you Florence, Will.  How bitter the taste had been in his mouth when Will thought of all the things Hannibal had shown someone else instead. 

“Why did you take her?” 

Hannibal didn’t pretend not to know who Will was referring to.  “It was, naturally, less complicated to travel with a companion.” 

It was the answer that Will expected, and he was sure it was absolutely true, but it still felt like Hannibal was obfuscating. It was half-hearted, at best; Hannibal wanted Will to know him, after all. “You’re saying you couldn’t have gotten out of the country by yourself?” He let his skepticism show through.

“It would have been trickier, but not impossible, no.” Hannibal’s lips flattened into something not-quite a smile. “I was angry.” 

“You wanted to hurt me.” As if taking Abigail away hadn’t been enough. In his rage, Hannibal had wanted to twist the knife even further. 

“Yes,” Hannibal admitted. For a moment, he stared down at the pan he was washing, hands trailing lightly across the oiled surface, almost caressing. 

“You wouldn’t have been able to hurt me if I’d died,” Will pointed out. Abigail’s ghost had already helped him figure it out. He still wanted to hear Hannibal say it. He took the pan from Hannibal when it was handed to him, scraping its surfaces with a dish towel. 

Hannibal shut off the tap. Will handed him the towel and he dried his hands with it. “I never intended for you to die. Only to hurt you the way I hurt.” 

“It worked,” said Will, quietly touching upon an admission of his own. “All of it.”

The soft smile that resurfaced on Hannibal’s lips alleviated some of the anger that still roiled somewhere inside Will. Hannibal liked that he had the power to hurt Will, and Will could understand that feeling. He’d felt something like power coursing through him when he’d lied and told Hannibal he would no longer look for him. He’d liked it, too. 

What does it say about us, that we both feel this way? 

Will pondered that question for the rest of the morning while Hannibal went out to replace the plates on their new car. 

 

Chapter Text

Hannibal came back into the cabin with cheeks pink from the cold. “The plates have been switched,” he announced in a cheerful voice. He shrugged off his coat and made his way towards Will, who was kneeling on the ground in the living room. “What have you got there?” 

Will looked down at the assortment of boxes that he’d pulled out from a hidden drawer underneath the coffee table. “Old jigsaw puzzles. Thought I could do one to kill some time.” He tilted his head to smile wryly at Hannibal. “Ironic, isn’t it?” 

Hannibal smiled back, clearly amused. He got down on his knees beside Will, hand reaching out to touch the jumbled cardboard pieces that Will had spilled out onto the table’s surface, his fingertips just short of touching Will’s. “May I join you?” 

Will nodded, staring at their fingers, millimeters distant. It occurred to him that Hannibal hadn’t touched him since he dropped Will’s hand to search the bodies outside the house in Wolf Trap. It wasn’t yet a full 24 hours since then, but it felt like a lifetime ago. 

“Where shall we start?” Hannibal asked, finally moving his fingers to pick up a puzzle piece, turning it back and forth in his hand. The puzzle was the colorful illustration of a fictional book shop with an elaborate staircase that trailed up to the second floor. Will drew in a long breath and let it go. He looked away from Hannibal’s fingers, up to his face again. “From the edges. Work our way inward.” 

A twitch of Hannibal’s lips. His eyes seemed to trace every line of Will’s face as he looked at him. “When it comes to putting the pieces of a puzzle together, we are often rewarded for our patience. A complete image, built upon pieces that connect in spite of their fragility.” 

“Is that what we’re doing now? Putting back the pieces?” Will began to gather the puzzle pieces, laying the sharp-edged ones out in front of him. Did Hannibal think that once they were put together, they would really make a complete image? That they could“Not yet ready to abandon your teacup?” 

Hannibal worked on the pieces that made up the staircase, lining them up one by one until he had one side of the railing done. “As you said, the teacup will never gather itself back together again.” He looked up at Will, licking his lips slowly, possibly deciding whether he wanted to say anything else. “I am willing to let it remain so. If we cannot go back in time, then perhaps…” 

“…We can go forward,” Will said, finishing the sentence for him.

Another soft smile, and Hannibal nodded once, the lines of his face relaxing. Will wondered if anyone else had ever seen him so vulnerable as he was now. Perhaps Mischa, or Chiyoh. Perhaps Bedelia.  He clicked the pieces of the bottom edge together. “I almost want to eat her,” he said, surprised by the viciousness in his own voice. 

Hannibal tilted his head questioningly, but he knew, despite the colossal jump Will’s mind had made. “Do you detest Bedelia so much?” 

Will met his eyes squarely. “Yes.” 

Hannibal’s smile grew. “I doubt it would be safe to recover her at this juncture. She will not spoil if we wait a year or two.” 

“Is that what you always intended to do with her?” 

“She had many uses,” Hannibal replied, deliberately provoking. “But yes, that was always my plan.” 

“And me? Was the plan always to devour my brains?” He still felt the sting of the healing scar on his forehead. He resisted the urge to reach up and touch it. He pieced another straight line of the border together instead. 

Hannibal’s hand appeared in his field of vision, the piece that matched the latest one Will had set down pinched between his thumb and forefinger. He slid it into place, then let his hand remain there, taking up space, the pads of his fingers sliding over the rough edges. “I thought, at the time, it was the best way to possess you. To keep you with me, always.”

It sounded like a line. Will knew it wasn't, knew that this was just Hannibal, rough edges and all, trying to be honest with him. It made sense, because of course that was how Hannibal thought. “And now?” 

Again, that smile, like Will was an angel incarnate, able to grant him all his desires. Will swallowed, watching Hannibal’s face opening up, revealing all the pride and avarice underneath. “Now,” he said, “I’m not satisfied with just eating your brain. I want it all.” And his hand left the puzzle on the table, came closer and closer until he curled it behind Will’s neck, stroked tenderly at his hair. “Will you give me what I want, Will?” 

Will’s eyes fluttered shut. He sucked air through his nose until his lungs ached from the pressure. All of his nerves were alight and focused on the sensation of Hannibal’s fingers touching him, warm and familiar. It felt good. God, it felt so good Will wanted to drown in it. 

“I don’t know,” he managed to say. He could do that much. He could try to resist Hannibal even this little bit. “I don’t know what you want…What all entails. I can’t promise. But I—” He swallowed again to wet his suddenly dry throat. He could only whisper his next words. “I want to.”

“Thank you,” said Hannibal, in a low voice. “That is enough for now.” When Will opened his eyes to look at him, Hannibal’s eyes were glittering wet. He withdrew his hand, knuckles brushing against Will’s jawline as he pulled back. “Are you hungry? I will make us lunch. After that we will have to construct cursory disguises for ourselves.” 

Will raised an eyebrow. “Disguises?”

“Yes. I was thinking you might allow me to give you a haircut.” 

 

Hannibal cut Will’s hair in the kitchen as Will sat straight-backed on a stool, using scissors that he found in one of the kitchen drawers. 

“What about you?” Will asked. He glanced up at Hannibal, who had one hand cupped to the side of his face, teasing out strands of hair as his other hand snipped. 

“I will strip years off myself, make my gray hairs vanish. Would you prefer a blond, or brunette? Chiyoh included hair dyes for both.” 

“What, no redhead?” 

Hannibal’s lips twitched. “No doubt she thought neither of us could pass convincingly.” 

“Choose whichever one you want. It’s your hair; it’s got nothing to do with me.” 

“Doesn’t it?” Hannibal said lightly, giving Will a slow blink. 

Will closed his eyes again, trying not to wince—or to react in any other way just as incriminating—as Hannibal’s fingers raked through his cropped hair, nails scraping against his scalp in a way that made him want to shiver. It was a rhetorical question; Will wasn’t going to answer—wasn’t going to comment on how Hannibal’s words made it seem as though everything he did had something to do with Will. 

“There,” Hannibal said after a few more minutes of snipping and stroking and skin brushing against Will’s ears, his neck, his forehead. “All done.” Will’s eyes opened just in time to see Hannibal leaning in, smile curling his lips. Hannibal brushed his lips across Will’s forehead, so close to the cut that he’d made that Will did shiver. Then Hannibal slipped away, turning around to rinse the scissors under the tap at the sink. 

Will stared at the back of him, at his shoulders and his neck, the shift of muscles underneath his sweater as he moved. When Hannibal shut off the water, Will was aware that, without the distraction, he could hear the quickened beat of his own heart in his chest.

“What was that for?” Will summoned up enough courage to ask. “Why did you…” 

Hannibal wiped his hands on a dish cloth before turning around. His face was a mask of polite concern. “Should I have asked for permission?” 

Will bit the inside of his lip, swallowed, and swallowed again. “No,” he said, voice soft. 

Hannibal smiled again, delight clear in his expression. 

Will wondered just what else he would be willing to agree to just to keep bringing that look back onto Hannibal’s face. 

 

Chapter Text

When Will regarded the mirror in the small tiled bathroom of the log cabin, the man who looked back at him was almost a stranger. The scar was still red and angry, but it was a scar now, his tissue already knitting back together and scabbing over. Verger had wanted his face, so Cordell had made sure Will healed properly. 

Will had hoped to be able to hide it under his hair, brush his bangs down to cover the spot, but Hannibal had cut a significant volume off. Will’s new hair, cropped close to his skull, made his features stand out in stark contrast. It made him appear older. The scar added to the weathered look. 

A knock sounded. Will washed his hands quickly, glancing at the door. He realized he hadn’t even locked it. “It’s open,” he called. 

Hannibal came through carrying a box of hair dye in hand. He stood beside Will in front of the mirror, smiling at Will’s reflection. “Does it please you?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I’m not going to have to look at it everyday.” It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if Hannibal liked it, but he stopped himself. Then, seeing Hannibal’s knowing smile, he gave up on pretense and asked anyway. “Do you like it?” 

Hannibal tore his eyes away from the glass and turned. Lifting his hand casually, he ran it through Will’s shorn locks. “I like every version of you,” he said easily. “But yes, I find this style very pleasing. It draws attention to your bone structure. Your eyes, too.” 

“And my scar,” Will pointed out. 

Hannibal smile was conciliating. “A momentary lapse of judgement,” he said, thumb sliding over the ridged edge of the scar. Will caught himself leaning into the touch. “I cannot regret it, however.” 

Hannibal liked seeing his mark on Will, and he wanted everyone to see it, too.

“Isn’t it dangerous? Having it so—out in the open. Instantly recognizable.” 

“I doubt Jack had time to register your…change in appearance with the FBI before he began his pursuit to Wolf Trap. There only remains Alana and Margot.” 

“Alana hates you. They both fear you.” 

“True. But they like you, and when I left them last they were preoccupied with Mason. I imagine they will not have time to assist the FBI with our capture for some time yet.” 

“We’re just going to waltz right through airport security and fly off to Japan.” It didn’t seem possible. Hannibal didn’t look worried, though. He looked excited, standing there in the bathroom, his hand still smoothing down Will’s hair. 

“First, a dye job. Would you like to assist me?” Hannibal pulled his hand away, and Will tried not to chase the touch. He glanced down at the box of drugstore dye in Hannibal’s other hand, and when he held out his hand, Hannibal relinquished it to him. 

“So. Brunette.” 

Hannibal nodded, watching as Will took out the contents. “I find I’m rather fond of brown hair.” he said. His eyes flitted upward to Will’s hair. 

Will couldn’t decide whether he ought to feel embarrassed, terribly flattered, or annoyed that Hannibal was playing with him. He focused on reading the label on the small tube of hair dye. “What do I do? Never dyed anyone’s hair before.” 

 

They went back into the kitchen. It was Hannibal’s turn to sit on the stool while Will administered to his hair. Will mixed up the dye solution and carefully applied it to Hannibal’s hair in sections. The chemical smell that drifted through the air made his eyes water.

“Okay. Waiting period’s over,” he said after a little while. “We can rinse you off now. Unless—do you want to just take it off in the shower?” 

Amusement sparkled in Hannibal’s eyes. “If you could, I would like your help. We could do it here, in the kitchen sink.” 

“Okay,” Will repeated.

They stood at the kitchen sink as light fell outside, Hannibal bent over so that his head was held under the flow of the faucet, Will with his hands gliding through Hannibal’s hair, fingers massaging the dye solution out. Hannibal turned his head sideways at one point, lines of water dripping across his face, and gazed at Will, causing Will’s fingers to cease up for a second. 

“I think that’s good enough,” Will said. He tried to stifle his regret. He grabbed the towel they’d made ready on the counter and gave it to Hannibal, stepping back to let Hannibal dry his own hair off. When the towel came away, Hannibal’s hair was an even brown just a shade darker than Will’s own hair. True to Hannibal’s word, dying his hair brought about a marked change; it made him into a younger, more roguish version of himself. 

“How does it look?” Hannibal asked. 

“Different.” Will knew he was staring; he couldn’t stop. 

Hannibal inclined his head. His lips twitched in amusement. “As it’s our goal, I suppose that’s fortunate.” 

Will reached out, mirroring Hannibal’s gesture in the bathroom earlier, and ran fingers through Hannibal’s damp hair. Hannibal hummed at the touch. The soft, rumbling sounds in Hannibal’s chest made Will shiver. 

“It looks good,” Will admitted, pulse quickening alarmingly. He missed how the gray and silver threads in Hannibal’s hair glinted in the light, but he liked this, too. 

“Does it,” Hannibal murmured, and stepped closer. He approached at a maddeningly slow pace, as if he were giving Will a chance to escape—or maybe he just didn’t want to scare Will away. 

Will let his hand drop, but Hannibal’s shot up—lightning quick—and held onto it, sliding it back into his hair. Will let out a shuddering breath; he kept his hand where it was when Hannibal withdrew his hand. He swallowed, throat gone suddenly dry, and wondered if Hannibal could smell the arousal on him. 

As if on cue, Hannibal’s nostrils flared slightly. When he got close enough to touch, he turned his head and inhaled deeply against the side of Will’s face.  A drop of water from his hair fell and hit Will’s collarbone; the cold bite of it made Will flinch. 

The movement seemed to break whatever spell held them both under. Hannibal stopped just short of pressing his lips against the line of Will’s jawbone. He stepped back. 

Will could hardly breathe through the resultant cloud of frustration. 

“Where are you going?” he called after Hannibal, who was already walking down the hallway. 

Hannibal turned, his face inscrutable in profile. “A proper shower before I begin preparations for dinner. Or would you prefer to take your turn first?” 

Take my turn at what? Will almost snapped. He stopped himself just in time. “No,” he said. “I’ll go after. Don’t use up all the hot water.” 

Hannibal smiled, then, as if he knew that a hot shower was the last thing Will needed. Maybe he did know; Will’s trousers hardly hid everything. 

“I won’t,” Hannibal promised. 

 

By the time Will emerged from a decidedly not hot shower, Hannibal had dinner ready. Will laughed when he saw the macaroni and cheese scooped out into the stoneware bowls. 

Hannibal returned a small chuckle of his own. “We’ve fallen on hard times,” he said, and sounded perfectly pleased. 

They brought the bowls with them into the living room and ate sitting on the floor, finishing up the puzzle they’d started in the morning by the warmth of the fireplace. Hannibal left briefly to take care of the dishes after they were done eating. When he came back, Will had finished the first puzzle by himself. 

Hannibal came up to him, hands clasped behind his back. He offered his congratulations. 

“I was thinking of starting another one,” Will said, and then yawned. 

Hannibal knelt down to help Will break up the jigsaw pieces and drop them back into the box. “You could,” he agreed. “Or we could go to bed. You appear a little worn out.” 

Who’s fault is that? Will thought, and then was distracted by another thought. “We?” 

Hannibal nodded, taking the box cover from the floor and placing it over the contents. “It has been a trying few days for me, as well.”

Will stared at him for a few moments. He licked his lips. “I could use some…rest.” 

Hannibal’s eyes gleamed in the firelight. “As you may have noticed, there is only one bed in the cottage. We will have to share.” He neglected to mention the couch that sat just behind them, and Will didn’t mention it either. 

“It’s a big bed.” 

Hannibal gave him a pleased smile. “Yes. I think we will be just fine.” 

 

Chapter Text

Will brushed his teeth in front of the mirror and thought about how the scar drew attention to that part of his face. He wondered what it would look like when it healed, whether anyone who glanced his way would still be able to see it or if it would fade enough that you’d only notice if you paid attention. 

He changed into a t-shirt and the long underwear that he usually wore to sleep in winter, hesitating before stepped back out into the hallway. He padded slowly toward the bedroom. 

Hannibal had emerged from the bathroom a little while before wearing dark green cotton pajamas with red and white candy canes printed on them, and Will had laughed when he’d explained that Chiyoh had no doubt been strapped for time when she’d put together the bag of supplies. Now, sitting up in the bed reading a book with the quilt draped neatly over his legs, Hannibal somehow managed to escape looking like a complete dork even in that ridiculous print. 

Will stood in the doorway and stared at him. The light from the lamp on the bedside table cast Hannibal’s face half in shadows. He wasn’t there long before Hannibal produced a bookmark from the back of the book, saved his place, and set the volume down.

“Hello, Will,” he said, meeting Will’s eyes and smiling in a way that could only be called predatory. His gaze raked down Will’s body, taking in the clothes he was wearing. He turned down a corner of the quilt for Will. 

Will swallowed. “Hi,” he mumbled. He had to remind himself that this wasn’t the first time Hannibal had seen him in his underwear. Hannibal had seen him in less than that. He remembered Hannibal’s gentle hands as he stripped Will of bloody clothes, Hannibal carrying Will into the tub and washed the blood away, dressing Will in clean clothes that fit him perfectly, underwear and all. 

“Shall I turn off the light?” 

“Yeah, that’s fine.” 

The lamp clicked off. Hannibal pulled the covers over them both. In the darkness, Will could just make out the lines of his back as he turned away to lie on his side. A feeling settled in the pit of Will’s stomach. He attempted to convince himself it was relief and not disappointment—they were two opposites on the same spectrum, after all. 

Seconds ticked by, and then turned into minutes. Hannibal was still and silent, no matter how restlessly Will moved in bed, tossing and turning and trying to work through his frustration. 

“You’re not asleep,” Will said into the empty, suffocating air after an hour or so of the same thing played on a loop. 

The bed creaked very slightly as Hannibal rolled over. Will felt his breath warming the air between them. When he turned his head he could make out the velvet sweep of Hannibal’s lashes in the dark, the curve of his lips. “Neither are you.” Hannibal’s breath still smelled minty from the toothpaste he’d used earlier. 

“I’m a little cold,” Will lied, feeling something tighten in his chest as he stared across the space that separated them. The heater in the room kept everything at a nice, cozy temperature, but it really must have been cold, because a shiver ran through Will when Hannibal reached out under the bed and touched his arm. 

“I could turn up the heat,” Hannibal said, and slid his palm up Will’s forearm, fingers curling inward when he reached the bend of Will’s elbow.  

“Okay,” Will said in a small voice. He started to turn away, but Hannibal’s hand was still on him. 

“Or…” Hannibal’s fingers twisted, tightening their hold on Will’s arm, and it felt good, felt like Will wouldn’t be able to pull away even if he wanted to.  “We could get closer together.”  

It was on the tip of Will’s tongue to refuse. He’d spent all day wanting something more to happen, but now that it was imminent, he felt frozen, as though he were stuck in limbo, mid-way between life and death. “What would you prefer?” 

Hannibal blinked slowly. “Don’t you know, Will?” he asked gently, and Will remembered earlier in the kitchen, Hannibal leaning in close and asking him if Will would give him what he wanted. Hannibal still hadn’t told him what he wanted. Not yet. 

“No,” Will admitted, closing his eyes for a moment so he would stop trying to see what Hannibal looked like in the dark. “I know what I’d prefer, and I know you—I know what you would do for me. But knowing that is different from being able to make any kind of decision about this.” The words came out of him in a rush, almost before he’d finished forming them in his head.  

“‘This?’” 

Will swallowed.  His throat felt dry and ravaged, like he’d been screaming. What had they originally been talking about? Turning up the heater? “This. Us.” 

A pause that lasted too long.

“Would you allow me to show you? What I would prefer.” 

 Will’s heart thumped in his chest like it wanted to break free. He nodded once, and even before he opened his eyes Hannibal was moving, fingers still curled around Will’s arm. He didn’t pull Will any closer, but came to Will so that they both ended up on Will’s side of the bed. 

Hannibal let go of Will’s arm briefly to reach across him. Will blinked rapidly for a few seconds as the lamp on the bedside table clicked on and his eyes adjusted to the light. 

“There. Now we can see one another.” Hannibal’s arm went around him again, pressing him close. Hannibal’s pajamas had that starched, perfumed odor that always clung to newly-purchased clothes, but underneath it all, Will could smell the soap stocked in the bathroom and a faint hint of sweat. 

Will let himself hug Hannibal back, clinging tightly, his face turned into Hannibal’s body, tilted downward so that he could bury his nose against the hair peeking out of the collar of Hannibal’s pajamas. He could feel himself getting hard, was sure Hannibal could feel it too, they were pressed so close. 

Hannibal’s hand traveled from Will’s arm up his back, gathering him in, stroking the back of his neck, tugging softly at his curls. “I would be content to stay like this forever,” he said, completely without inflection, as though he only spoke the truth, no agenda attached to any of his words. 

“Don’t tease,” Will managed out loud, in a voice that wavered dangerously on the edge of belligerence. “You’ve teased all day.” 

Hannibal’s grip on the back of Will’s head hardened; Will let Hannibal pull him closer, tilting his face to meet the pressure of Hannibal’s lips against his. Then Hannibal’s tongue sought entrance, and Will let him in, his own tongue sliding almost triumphantly against the sharp points of Hannibal’s teeth, stroking the roof of Hannibal’s mouth. 

“Oh, I assure you, Will,” Hannibal murmured against his lips when they pulled apart for air, “It wasn’t a tease. Only a promise.” He resumed their kiss—or maybe it was more accurate to say that he started a new one—deeper and fiercer than before. His body shifted, hips rolling against Will, and Will could feel his erection, heavy and hot even through the layers of their clothes. He made a sound against Hannibal’s mouth that could have come from a dying animal. 

God. Did that desperate groan really come from him? 

The only consolation was that Hannibal’s composure was shaken as well; Hannibal’s hand at the back of Will’s neck raked a fevered path down his back. “Would you like me to fulfill my promise?” he asked, pressing wet kisses to Will’s cheek, his ear, his neck—all the places he’d caressed earlier during Will’s hair cut. 

“Shit,” choked out Will, still conflicted but not willing to let Hannibal withdraw from this again—he needed so much, wanted Hannibal more than he’d ever wanted anyone in this moment. “Yes. Hannibal, yes.” 

A low, drawn-out sigh escaped Hannibal. He moved over Will, pressing Will back against the bed. He pushed Will’s t-shirt up, exposing his chest and stomach, and pressed a searing kiss to Will’s sternum before licking a long trail down, down, down. He tugged Will’s underwear down in one quick, fluid motion. Then he lowered himself and took Will’s cock into his mouth. 

Will’s broken cry seemed to echo in the small room. Hannibal’s gaze was fixed on his face, their eyes locked, as if Hannibal was entreating Will to watch—as if Will had any choice in the matter. Hannibal’s cheeks hollowed out as he sucked Will.  His eyes gleamed with a sharp, feral hunger, and every time Will couldn’t keep a moan locked between his gritted teeth Hannibal’s eyes fluttered as though it pained him. He brought Will off like this, fingers digging into Will’s thighs, mouth working expertly on Will’s cock. At the last second, he pulled off and stroked Will. Will came, still staring fixedly at Hannibal’s face, bucking into Hannibal’s hand, letting his spunk flow over Hannibal’s fingers. 

When he’d recovered enough from the rush of orgasm, he opened his eyes to see Hannibal kneeling over him, pajama pants pushed unceremoniously down, fist pumping slowly on his own slick cock, and he moaned when he realized just what Hannibal must have used to ease the slide of hand on skin. 

“I want to…” he began, and arched up so that he was in reach of Hannibal’s moving hand. He curled his own hand around Hannibal’s so that their fingers slightly overlapped, and watched an awestruck expression surface on Hannibal’s face, softening his features. 

It didn’t last long after that. Hannibal fucked into their combined grip once or twice before he let out a second low, drawn-out sigh, head tilted back and eyes fluttering, and Will glanced down to see thick jets of come spurting from Hannibal’s cock, landing hot and wet on Will’s torso, mingling with his own release there. 

Hannibal rolled onto his side again. He raked fingers through the mess on Will’s stomach. Will shuddered when Hannibal pushed them into his own mouth. He watched Hannibal’s eyes close in obvious enjoyment at the taste of it, and was reminded of Hannibal at the dinner table, tucking a well-prepared morsel into his mouth. 

“How does it taste?” 

Hannibal slipped the fingers out of his mouth. His lip tugged into a smile as he regarded Will. “Would you like to try?” 

Taking a deep, steadying breath, Will closed the gap between them and brought their lips together. 

Chapter Text

For a while they lay on the bed, bodies tangled together, touching and tasting and taking personal space. Then Hannibal pulled away and hoisted himself up. 

“I will get us something to clean up with,” he said, and began to strip off the ruined pajamas. 

Will, lying on his back on the crumpled bedsheets, stretched out a hand to tug at the hem of Hannibal’s shirt. “I don’t care about the mess,” he protested, but only weakly, because he knew it was unlikely that Hannibal would actually let them fall asleep with semen still sticking to their bodies, as fastidiously clean as he was. He watched as Hannibal swept the pajama top off his shoulders, then bent and stepped out of the come-stained pants. His movements were quick and efficient. 

“Enjoying the show?” Hannibal asked with an almost smug smile when he straightened back up, folding the discarded pieces of clothing over one arm. 

“Yes.” He’d been with a couple of men before, but that had always been a means of  relieving tension more than anything, quick exchanges conducted in bar bathrooms or motels, both of the participants almost fully-clothed. Outside of paintings and photographs, he’d had very little chance—or inclination—to admire another man’s body. But he was admiring now. Hannibal’s body reminded him of the stag of his imaginings, all sinewy muscle and agile grace. 

“I must insist you reciprocate, lest I feel taken advantage of,” said Hannibal in quiet playfulness “Come, Will. Divest yourself of those soiled clothes.” 

Grinning, Will did as he was told, and held out his t-shirt and underwear rolled up in a ball for Hannibal to take. When he had Will’s clothes clutched in one hand, Hannibal brought the bundle to his face and leaned in slightly to nose at the fabric, sniffing deeply. The smile slipped off his face as he closed his eyes to take the scent in. Will had come too recently to be able to get it up again, but the sight of Hannibal’s face suffused with pleasure as he took in the smell of Will’s release caused a spike of arousal to cut through Will. 

His arousal dropped suddenly off when Hannibal turned, and Will could see a huge patch of gauze at the center of his back. He sat up in bed. “What is that?” 

Hannibal turned around and blinked down at him, as if unsure what he was referring to for a moment. Then he smiled in clear amusement, eyes crinkling merrily. “Ah, Mason wanted to give me the full hog’s experience.” 

Will’s mouth fell slightly open. His hand fisted and pulled at the bed sheet. “He branded you.” 

“The Verger crest, as is placed on all his pigs,” Hannibal said casually, as though they really were talking about some other animal’s body.

Anger completely replaced the traces of arousal Will had been feeling. “I wish I could have seen his face when he died,” Will bit out, venom dripping from his words. What he wanted to say was, I wish I had been the one to kill him. 

Hannibal drew closer again, smiling down at Will with soft eyes. “What, Will—are you so protective of me, now?” 

No, not exactly.  Will was shocked by the force of the anger that boiled through him like a fire. It wasn’t protectiveness that ignited that flame—it was something much more selfish. 

“No one is allowed to mark you. No one but me. “

There was a kind of fascination in Hannibal’s gaze when he sat down on the edge of the bed again. Here was another version of Will he’d not yet seen. He brought his hand out to touch the tip of Will’s chin, the back of one finger tilting it only slightly to bring Will’s focus to him. “You will mark me,” he said, and his face was so happy, so sublimely content, that Will’s chest ached from the beauty of it. “When this brand heals, and it will quite soon enough, you can do anything you’d like to erase this tasteless thing from my body.” 

Will allowed Hannibal lean in for another kiss that lasted and lasted, until Hannibal ended it, pulling back with a smile and a small caress of his knuckles against Will’s jawline. He went to take their soiled clothes away at last. He returned a few minutes later with a warm washcloth and climbed onto the bed to press it against Will’s chest, mopping up the mess on Will’s torso as he worked his way down. 

“I still hope you made him suffer before he died.” 

That amused smile again. “Oh, I’m certain he suffered plenty. But I didn’t see his face when it happened, either. So we are equals in that respect, Will.” 

“You didn’t kill him.” Hannibal had given him a sedative before he started on Cordell; Will had just assumed he’d taken care of Mason afterward. 

“I thought I should relinquish the honors to Margot and Alana. Are you aware that the two ladies in question have formed an intimate connection?” 

Will’s eyes widened in surprise. He hadn’t been aware. “As intimate as ours?” 

Hannibal set the wash cloth aside on the bedside table and climbed back under the covers. “I imagine few connections match the intimacy of ours, Will,” he said quietly. He took one of Will’s hands and brought it to his lips, wrist up. He kissed it, open-mouthed, tongue sliding against the skin in a vertical path that mirrored the scars carved into his own wrists. 

Will shuddered, feeling the stirrings of desire return full-force. “No, I imagine there aren’t many.” He twisted his arm so that he could take hold of Hannibal’s wrist instead; Hannibal gave in to him with no resistance. Will’s thumb traced the scar that Matthew Brown had left—that Will had left there. He swallowed, and leaned down to kiss it, mirroring Hannibal’s actions. His tongue slid over the raised ridge on Hannibal’s skin.

“It looks almost…beautiful.” Whispered, because it was a confession he couldn’t speak out loud. 

“It is,” said Hannibal with perfect conviction, as though he were just stating a fact like any other. “I cherish it.” I cherish you, he seemed to say.

Will hummed against Hannibal’s wrist, pressing a chaster kiss on it before letting go. He lay back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling for a moment and letting Hannibal’s words wash over him. “I should feel terrible.” 

Hannibal rolled onto his side to face Will. His other hand slipped into Will’s hair, rubbing his scalp in soothing circles, meeting little resistance now that Will’s hair was cropped so short. 

“As you previously considered us ‘even’ on this account, I must assume you are referring to something else entirely.” 

“People died. Their families will suffer. Because of us.“ Because he couldn’t let them take Hannibal. Couldn’t walk away. 

“Jack.” 

Will closed his eyes. He remembered the look of contempt Jack shot at him when he had Hannibal down on his knees in the snow. “He had to die. He knew both of us too well. He never would’ve stopped looking. Someone’s going to resume the search for us. But I’m glad it’s not Jack.” 

“Alana knows both of us perhaps even better than Jack ever did. That was how Mason found me.” 

Will turned to look at Hannibal. He could feel the frown tugging the corners of his lips. “Are you going to kill her?” 

Hannibal stared back at him. “It would be wise to do so.” 

“If I ask you not to?” It wasn’t wise to try to control a creature such as Hannibal. But Will didn’t want Alana dead. Not after everything they’d already done to her. 

“I made Alana a promise. The night she took her fall.” 

“Hannibal,” Will breathed. He pressed his fingers into Hannibal’s arm. “Please?” 

Hannibal smiled again. “I suppose it would be ungrateful of me to insist. After all, it was Alana who made me promise to save you.” 

“You would’ve done it anyway.” Will recalled the proud smile Hannibal exhibited when he’d bitten off that chunk of Cordell’s face. 

“True,” Hannibal conceded. “Alana does not know either of us as well as she deserves. If I promise to spare her, would that alleviate your feelings of guilt?” 

“I don’t feel guilty. That’s not it. But yes, that would make some of it better.” 

“What do you feel, Will?” Asked in the softest, tenderest voice. As if Hannibal longed. Hoped. 

“…Happy. I feel happy.” 

 

Chapter Text

They slipped into a comfortable routine that was jarring in its domesticity. Hannibal spent half of his time in the kitchen preparing meals for them with the things in stock. Being Hannibal, he managed fairly well, despite the scarcity of very many fresh—or decent—ingredients. Will finished several jigsaw puzzles; sometimes Hannibal joined him, the two of them sitting across from each other on the floor, leaning over the coffee table, fingers brushing as they reached for small cardboard pieces. Sometimes Hannibal sat on the sofa, legs crossed before him, and watched as Will worked. Sometimes he read one of the books he’d discovered in the drawer on the nightstand.

“Anything interesting?” Will asked, and Hannibal would lick his lips and begin to read out loud passages from a Dorothy Sayers novel or a Heyer regency romance. Will sat and listened and connected puzzle pieces.

They partook of each other’s company in other ways, in the afternoons during the long stretch between lunch and dinner, in bright sunlight, layers of clothes peeled away until they saw each other laid bare, Hannibal looking up at Will, eyes hungry as he swallowed Will down greedily, lips stretched around him. 

They didn’t fuck, not yet, although at night when the lights were out, Hannibal whispered suggestions into Will’s ear as they rutted against one another, cocks rubbing hotly together. “I would like to spread you open and plunge inside, Will. I would like to feel you in me, as well, much in the same way. Our bodies fully-connected, just as our minds are conjoined.”

“Do it,” Will begged, tugged at Hannibal’s arms, bit at his neck. 

But Hannibal always refrained, always shushed Will with a soft kiss to his lips and a hand brushed over his cheek. “I will,” he promised, “but not now. We will be patient with one another.”  And he would continue to take Will apart in other ways, each time a new sensation, a new promise of more things to come. 

It was good, and it was easy, and it almost made Will forget that this wasn’t home, just a rest stop along the way, a place they would have to leave sooner rather than later. He didn’t forget, but he still clung to the illusion of this place as a haven. He allowed himself to enjoy the newness of the freedom he felt within the confines of this small, insulated space. Nothing could reach them here. 

 

It lasted until the promised fifth day. Will woke up to a shift in the air and a cold, empty bed. For a terrifying, sleep-blurred moment he thought something had happened to Hannibal. Then he heard the muffled sound of voices drifting in from one of the other rooms. He recognized that voice. 

Chiyoh sat on one of the stools in the kitchen across from Hannibal, a steaming cup at her elbow on the counter. Her left arm was in a sling, and Will saw layers of bandages peeking out under the sleeve of her shirt. 

“Good morning, Will,” said Hannibal in a cheerful voice that was somehow different from the tender warmth of his greetings the three mornings previous. Will was glad for it; he didn’t want to share that warmth with anyone else. “As you can see, Chiyoh has been good enough to bring us our new papers.” 

Will glanced down at a thick envelope on the far side of the counter, then raised an eyebrow at Chiyoh’s arm. 

“They came at a price,” Chiyoh said evenly. She made an expression that was almost a shrug. “It was not a price I was unwilling to pay.” 

Hannibal practically beamed at her. “It does not appear to be a serious wound. I trust our Japanese friends were satisfied?”

Chiyoh nodded. “It still required a large sum of money. I assume you are not concerned.” 

“Very little concerns me beyond our departure from this place.” Hannibal’s eyes smoothed over Will’s face like a caress as he said the words, and Will found himself smiling despite his best efforts to hide his emotions. He noticed the slide of Chiyoh’s eyes away from Hannibal’s face to his and then back again. There was a recognition there. 

“A man will be at the Japanese customs to will let us through without issue as long as we arrive on the right day and stand in the right line,” Chiyoh continued. “We only need to concern ourselves with passing through on the U.S. side.” 

Will frowned. By now the FBI would have discovered the eight dead bodies in Wolf Trap. People would be on high alert for Will and Hannibal. “Any ideas?” 

“We will travel all three together. So far as I know, they do not have knowledge of a third person; it will make it easier to fool them.” 

That might work. “Together in what capacity?” 

Chiyoh gave him a level look. “We are lovers, coming back from a trip to meet your family in Chicago. Hannibal is a relative who is accompanying us back to Japan to see the sights before moving on.” 

“A relative?” Will said, almost laughing at the idea. “Mine, I take it?”

Hannibal looked amused as well. “You are both of you family to me, in one way or another. But I suppose it would cause fewer raised eyebrows if we were to say I am an uncle of yours, Will.” 

Will frowned, ignoring the jolt of pleasure he felt at being labeled ‘family’ by Hannibal. “You’re not old enough to be an uncle of mine.” He had very few qualms in regards to societal conventions, but he still didn’t like to think about doing the things he’d been doing for several days with an uncle of his. 

Hannibal’s amusement deepened, as if he knew exactly how Will’s thoughts had turned. “A cousin, then. From a distant branch of the family, but our interests converge, so we have become close friends.” 

“Customs officers will not ask you for a detailed history of your friendship.” Chiyoh’s tone was flat, but her lips curved into a smile that Will thought was genuine enough. “We can discuss other details on the way to Chicago. We should leave soon; it will take at least ten hours on the road to get there, and our flight leaves at midnight.” 

Hannibal hummed in agreement, and began moving to grab ingredients from the refrigerator. “I shall prepare a fortifying breakfast for us before our departure,” he announced. 

 

They took turns driving on the long journey to O’Hare International Airport, with Hannibal taking the first shift and Will riding shotgun; Chiyoh, seemingly exhausted from her secret activities on behalf of the yakuza, spent some hours sleeping in the backseat, her face turned away from the windows. 

“It is nostalgic,” Hannibal said quietly, when Chiyoh’s breathing had evened out. Will caught him glancing through the rearview mirror at Chiyoh’s turned back. “She would often fall asleep on our way back from outings with my aunt. She was only a child then, but she was already a favorite of my aunt. A handmaiden of sorts to her.” 

Hannibal rarely spoke about his past, even as it related to the present, and Will wanted to know everything there was to know about Hannibal, but he didn’t want to push him, either. He stared out onto the open road, just sun beating down on icy asphalt and lines of snow-covered trees. Eventually he offered up a memory of his own. 

“She kissed me. On the train as we made for Florence.” He looked sideways at Hannibal to gauge his reaction. There was very little of it, just a slight parting of Hannibal’s lips, a flicker of mild surprise in his eyes. 

“Was this before she threw you off the train?” 

Will exhaled a quiet laugh. “Yeah. Directly before.” 

“I suppose she was employing the kiss as a distraction. I’m not surprised it worked. Chiyoh is a very attractive woman.” 

Will regarded Hannibal again, somewhat struck by the idea that Hannibal could be jealous. Will didn’t think that idea had any actual merit, because surely Hannibal knew that there was nothing to feel jealousy about, but he let himself enjoy the thought anyway. “Her attractiveness was not what distracted me.” 

“What, then?” Hannibal asked, following Will’s lead. 

“We were discussing means of influence. The ways through which one could…regulate a person’s behavior.” 

A slow blink from Hannibal. “Ah. And that was the moment she kissed you.”  His lips curved into a smile that could only be described as pleased. 

Will allowed himself a smile of his own, turning to glance back at Chiyoh’s still-sleeping form. “She suggested that violence was not the only means of influence.”

“And do you think she was right?” 

He brought his gaze back to Hannibal’s face, at the moment relaxed and full of amusement. Something in his chest clenched at the sight. “I hope,” he answered truthfully. “But it remains to be seen who will be the influencer and who the influenced.” 

Hannibal’s smile widened until it was practically a grin. “I await developments with baited breath.” 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chiyoh’s hand slipped into Will’s as they stood in line at the check-in gate. Will looked down at their joined hands for a second, then let her pull him closer, lean against his arm, her head close to the gunshot wound she’d opened. 

“Your shoulder?” she asked, barely above a whisper. The smile on her lips would have made anyone looking in think she was murmuring something sweet, something loving. She smelled of mist and sandalwood, just as she did the night they shared the kiss that was more about Will and Hannibal than anything else. He supposed this situation wasn’t too much of a departure from that one. 

Will returned the smile with one of his own, eyelashes lowered sleepily, thoughts of Hannibal lying half-naked on the bedsheets swirling in his mind to give the expression traction. “Still hurts. But I’ll live.” 

“Pain can be a good reminder of one’s own mistakes. I can’t say I regret any of it.” She paused, possibly revisiting the meaning of her words. “I’m glad there is no permanent damage.” 

Will laughed at this, a true laugh that conveyed his amusement. “Depends on what you mean by permanent damage.” He squeezed the hand he was holding. “All the same, thank you.” 

“What have you to thank me for?” As if she didn’t already know. But perhaps, not being Will, it was difficult to see.

“For getting us out of that bind. For saving him.” His mind brought him back to that evening with all those men surrounding them, and Hannibal on his knees in the snow, hands raised in surrender. He could taste the choking desperation at the back of his throat when he’d uttered that single word ‘don’t’ even as he abandoned himself to despair, because how were they meant to get out of that situation alive? 

“It wasn’t I who saved him.” 

The surprise made Will look down at her rather sharply, wondering if she was being sarcastic. She met his eyes steadily. He sighed, and patted the hand he still held with his other hand. “It wasn’t you who endangered him in the first place.” 

“Don’t do it again.” Her words were a threat, one that Will didn’t think he needed anymore. Still, it was comforting to have it there. He didn’t think he wanted to hurt Hannibal any longer, but sometimes he didn’t think he knew himself as well as he knew everyone else. 

Behind them, come back from a visit to the restroom, Hannibal shifted into the line. Will felt his fingertips brushing across Will’s unmarred shoulder, barely touching. “Two of my favorite people together in perfect harmony. What a very pretty picture you make.”

Chiyoh half-turned, cutting her eyes up to his face, her smile a touch teasing. She let go of Will’s hand and slid her arm across Will’s waist, an almost possessive gesture. “Does this mean you would share him?” A clear indication that she knew what had gone on with Will and Hannibal. Of course, it would’ve taken a blind person not to see.

Will glanced back at Hannibal’s face, his eyes crinkled in amusement, the three days’ growth of beard he sported making him appear older than he usually did and giving him an air of benevolence. “If he wished it, certainly. I understand you became quite intimate on your journey to Florence.” 

“Not intimate enough,” Will said, debating whether he wanted to join this little game. He decided he didn’t like the idea of Hannibal being willing to share him, even if it was an obvious bluff. “The last time we approached anything like intimacy, I was thrown off a train.” His eyes flitted back to Chiyoh’s. “I might have deserved it, but I don’t plan on repeating the experience.” 

Hannibal chuckled quietly, as if he was enjoying an old joke between friends. “Just as well,” he said, and his hand left Will’s shoulder. 

Their cursory disguises served them surprisingly well. Before long, all three of them were strolling on the other side of the gate, still carefully grouped so that Chiyoh and Will were the obvious couple. Chiyoh’s hand was cool and steady in his, and she didn’t break contact, even when a book caught her eye at the bookstore. She tugged him along with her instead. Will wondered how much of it was playing the part and how much of it was Chiyoh’s need to keep Will close, in case her tentative trust in him proved to be misplaced. 

“Are you worried I might cry craven at the last moment?” Will murmured into her ear upon leaning in, his lips brushing against her cheek. 

“We shall see,” Chiyoh said evenly, turning to place a dry kiss on the edge of his jawbone. “Do you grow weary of my presence?” 

“No,” Will replied honestly. “But you can’t find it very pleasant, hanging onto someone you’d rather have far away from you.” 

She didn’t say anything to dispute the statement. “I will be glad to be in Japan again. Have you been there before?”

“Once, for a conference.” He had stayed in Tokyo for two nights, slept in a crappy hotel, and had flown back without doing much more than buy himself a bowl of ramen from a chain restaurant. “It wasn’t a particularly memorable experience.”

“Sometimes memories of a place are less than ideal.” Something like a shadow fell over her eyes at the words. Will would have liked to know what kind of memories she had of Japan, but he didn’t think he had any right to ask. Whatever it was, she meant it when she said she was glad to be back, and that was good enough for Will. 

 

They boarded their flight without trouble, wedged neatly together in coach with Hannibal occupying the window seat and Will next to him. Chiyoh made conversation with the Japanese stewardess in the aisle as Hannibal flipped idly through the in-flight magazine. 

“I have to admit, I never pictured you looking so comfortable in a seat that wasn’t first class,” Will said, sipping a bottle of water that he’d purchased on the ground. 

Hannibal’s lips quirked into a smile. “It certainly isn’t ideal, but I’ve flown in worse conditions. I much prefer the company this time around. It is beyond anything I’ve had before.” 

Will tried not to react to Hannibal’s words, but he could feel his own face pulling into a ridiculous smile against his will. “Oh, have you never flown with Chieko before?” he asked, using the name on Chiyoh’s fake passport. He only just managed to turn his shameless giggle into a chuckle; he didn’t think Hannibal was fooled.

Hannibal’s smile remained in place. He let his hand come to rest lightly on Will’s knee. “No, never. Never before have I had a companion I would not trade for anything in the world—not even for the conveniences of first class.” 

“Aleksander forgets,” Chiyoh murmured next to Will. “We made the flight from his home to Japan together, long ago.” 

“You are correct, of course,” Hannibal said, but his eyes were fixed on Will’s, unblinking. “Forgive me, Chieko.” 

Will rubbed the tip of his finger along his bottom lip, pressing into skin. How many flights had Hannibal shared with Bedelia, with other people before he had even known Will Graham existed in this world? The meaning was clear, and it touched Will. He reached out and clasped his hand over Hannibal’s on his knee, not caring who passed by and saw. “Tell me. What will you show me in Japan?” 

The hand beneath his moved, twisted so that their fingers were entwined. “All of it,” Hannibal said. “I will show you everything,” he promised.