He doesn’t know what to expect when he rounds the corner to Abigail’s room, but it’s not Hannibal, reclining awkwardly in a chair that doesn’t seem big enough to fit his frame, eyes closed and face lax in sleep. His left hand cradles Abigail’s right, a protector attempting to keep vigil on the unconscious girl.
You should leave, he thinks, feeling suddenly like an intruder in the room.
He doesn’t leave, just walks around to the other side of the bed and lowers himself onto the chair there. He settles in, folding his arms across his chest to ward off the chill of the air-conditioning. The beep and whir of the monitors hooked up to Abigail’s vitals are ever-present, as is the steady breathing of the other man. Will tilts his head up to look at the ceiling and listens to these sounds; he allows them to soothe him into something approaching calm.
He’s almost asleep—almost, but not quite—when Hannibal stirs. A soft sound escapes him, like a sigh, and he straightens in his chair, his unencumbered hand coming up to rub at his eyes. As Will watches him, his gaze automatically maps a path to Will’s face, as if he's always known exactly where Will is.
“Will,” he says, voice still thick with sleep, gentled and—yes, Will knows it’s probably just Hannibal being polite—pleased to see him. “How are you?”
Will’s mouth quirks into a humorless smile. He spreads his hands wide, a helpless gesture. “How am I supposed to be?”
“You caught a killer,” Hannibal offers.
Will stares at Hannibal for a second, then looks down to Abigail’s face, to the gauze wrapped thick around her throat. “I killed a father.”
Hannibal makes a noise of agreement. “It needed to be done.” And then, his voice gentler still: “I’m glad you did it, Will.”
Will doesn’t know what to say to that, so he says nothing at all for a while. He stares at the gleaming floors of the hospital room, at the chair on the other side of the room on which a bunch of get-well cards and flowers have been left by Abigail’s friends, their neighbors. All the people who will, he knows, come to shun her when they find out what exactly it was that her father had done.
“Have you slept?”
Will shakes his head. “I was at the motel to change, but…” He trails off, not sure what to say. Does he tell Hannibal that he’s too afraid to sleep because then he will dream? The antlered creature of his nightmares has been stalking him like a shadow. He doesn’t know what it wants, only knows he wants to give into it, and that scares him more than anything else.
Hannibal stands, letting go of Abigail’s hand at last. His eyes linger on her face, and then he retrieves his jacket from the back of the chair. He doesn’t slip it on, just drapes it over one forearm. Will remembers how Abigail and Mrs. Hobbs’ blood splattered all over. Will’s bloodied clothes are still lying in a heap on the floor of his motel room.
“I doubt there is much else we can do here,” Hannibal says, and takes a few steps towards Will. “Will you come back to my hotel with me?”
“I can stay at the motel. The bureau paid for tonight as well as tomorrow. I have a flight in the afternoon.”
“You could,” Hannibal agrees, “but that mattress is, forgive me for saying, grievously substandard. You would sleep much more soundly at my hotel room.”
Will cranes his neck to look up at Hannibal. “I’m fine,” he says, but there’s no real weight to the assertion. The thought of being able to sleep, of having Hannibal right there with him should the unreality of his nightmares begin to impinge upon reality, is tempting. Tempting, and also terrifying.
Hannibal presses again. Reaches out and lays a hand, warm and heavy on Will’s shoulder. Will finds himself leaning into the touch despite everything—despite himself. Hannibal’s hand smells of hospital soap and antiseptic. Will can still see the blood spilled all over those hands, just as he can feel the blood all over his own, sticky and metallic and hot, rushing out of Mrs. Hobbs until death exhausted it. Pouring out of Abigail’s throat. “You just went through a terrible ordeal, Will. Are you certain being alone is a good idea right now?”
“You went through the same ordeal,” Will points out.
“Precisely.” Hannibal’s fingers twitch on his shoulder, not quite tugging at the fabric. “It has occurred to me that perhaps I shouldn’t be alone at the moment either.”
Will wonders if he is being manipulated. His eyes cut again to Hannibal’s face, but Hannibal isn’t looking at him anymore; his eyes are on Abigail, lying comatose in her bed. There's a furrow to Hannibal’s brow, as if it physically hurts to look at her. “How long will she be out?”
Hannibal presses his lips together slightly before answering. “Difficult to say. It’s a medically induced coma, so it all depends on how long it will take her to stabilize.”
“Jack will probably want to have her transferred to a facility closer to Quantico. For observation.”
A hum of acknowledgment from Hannibal. He turns back to Will, furrowed brows less pronounced as he gazes down at him. “Will you come with me?” There is no note of entreaty in his words, no pressure of pathos, and that is what ultimately makes the response fall easily from Will’s lips.
Hannibal’s hotel room has a huge king-sized bed that takes up most of the space. A small travel suitcase sits upright against one wall, and when Will sees it he remembers that his things are still in the motel room.
Hannibal notices his dismay. “We can retrieve your belongings in the morning. The hotel provided some toiletries that I had no need of, so there is a toothbrush, a razor. My clothes are also at your disposal.”
Will considers leaving Hannibal here in the comfort of his luxurious bed, making the 20-minute drive back to the motel in the car by himself and slipping between sweat-stained sheets, the acrid smell of his bloody clothes five feet away from him. He gives a mental shrug.
“I don’t need clothes to sleep,” he mumbles, and begins to undo the clothes he has on. He pauses in the doorway to the bathroom, hesitates for longer than is honest before turning half-way back, not quite facing Hannibal. “Are you joining me?” He keeps his voice pitched low, soft, so that if Hannibal wants to refuse he can just pretend he didn’t hear. If Hannibal asks Will to repeat himself, he’ll know what the answer is, and—
“I would like to, if I may.”
The relief strikes Will like a punch to the gut, and he tries to stop his breath from coming out in a rush. He isn’t sure he succeeds, and doesn’t wait to see if Hannibal notices. He’s already stripped of his clothes and turning on the shower when Hannibal appears, sweater tugged off and shirt—the shirt that earlier that morning Will had stained with his come—half unbuttoned.
It takes only a few more seconds for Hannibal to be completely naked. He stands, folding his clothes and leaving them in a stacked pile on the countertop as Will watches through the shower glass door. Hannibal’s image is already impaired by rising steam.
“May I, Will?” Hannibal asks softly through the pane of glass that separates them.
Will doesn’t answer; he turns his face up into the spray of the water and reaches out a hand to push the shower door open a fraction. He feels a breath of cool air against his wet skin as Hannibal opens it further to let himself in. It closes with a mute click.
Will can feel the warmth of Hannibal’s body behind him, can hear the shift in sound as the shower’s spray encounters the added bulk of Hannibal’s body, droplets splattering against his skin. He imagines he can smell traces of Hannibal’s semen mixed in with the water that drips to pool between his toes before being swept down the drain. It’s probably just in his head, but it makes him turn around, anyway, makes him reach for Hannibal’s shoulders to pull him closer, so that Will can press his nose into the wet mass of hair on Hannibal’s chest and inhale, chasing the scent.
It’s an awkward position—they are too close in height for Will to comfortably set his head on Hannibal’s chest while standing—and eventually he straightens himself so that his chin hooks over the juncture of Hannibal’s neck and shoulder and his cheek presses against the side of Hannibal’s face. Hannibal’s arms go around him, fingers sliding into wet hair, and Will lets himself cling, clutching Hannibal’s arms for balance, the tiled floor so slippery he might fall if he doesn’t hang on.
The steam makes it difficult to see, which is just as well, and the patter of the water in the enclosed space shuts out all outside noise, so that for snatches of time, spaced seconds apart, it seems as though they are in another world where only the two of them—bodies intertwined, blood and sweat and sins washed away—exist in a vacuum.
“Shall I wash your hair, Will?” Hannibal asks, words vibrating against Will’s scalp. His fingers massage the skin there, each point of contact a welcome distraction. Will finds himself sinking further into Hannibal’s arms, and Hannibal holds him up like it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.
“I can wash it myself.”
“Do you want to?”
A short beat of silence, just the water beating down on them. Eventually, Will shakes his head. No, he does not want to. He doesn’t want to do anything but let Hannibal and the water surround him until he feels clean again. Until he can taste and smell and see something besides blood.
And just like that, as though Hannibal were answering the silent request Will couldn’t bear to make, Hannibal tilts their bodies so that Will’s head is out of the direct spray of the water and glides slick fingers through his wet curls. Will smells something familiar, a scent simultaneously minty and woodsy, and he knows that it’s not the complimentary hotel shampoo Hannibal’s rubbing into his hair. He lathers Will up, massaging the shampoo into his scalp.
Before long, Hannibal moves on to the rest of Will’s body. His fingers are slow and steady on slippery skin, sliding into crevices, and it strikes Will as even more intimate than sex. The thought is unsettling, more so because Will can’t tell if it stems from his own feelings or from Hannibal’s. Here in the vacuum, their lines are beginning to blur. He can’t—shouldn’t—let them; he takes a step back from Hannibal’s hands, bringing his own hands up across his chest to push away the soap suds.
He feels instant remorse when something like hurt flashes into Hannibal’s eyes, Hannibal’s hands floating in the air between them for half a second before they draw back to smooth over his own arms.
Damn it .
“Come here,” he mutters, letting loose the tethers on his own reservations. For a moment, Hannibal doesn’t move, and Will thinks that it’s too late, that Hannibal won’t come now, and the fear that bites into him at the thought makes his heart run fast, makes him swallow to get rid of the growing lump in his throat. Then Hannibal moves forward into Will’s space, brings a hand up to press the flat of his thumb against Will’s cheek, and Will surrenders himself to the pull of his own need and of Hannibal’s, impossible to separate in his mind.
It's different, so different from everything that has come before. Their kisses have a desperate edge to them that has nothing to do with desire and everything to do with the need for distraction, for comfort; they leave Will feeling just as exposed as Hannibal's hands lathering over his naked skin did a few moments ago. Now, instead of recoiling against it, Will allows himself to welcome the intimacy. Just tonight. Just right now.
Hannibal pushes him against the marbled wall of the shower and kisses him, hands stroking down his arms, thumbs outstretched and gliding across Will's abdomen, along his ribs. Will touches him back, one hand curving low on his back just above the swell of his ass, one hand curling into a fist around Hannibal's half-hard cock. He strokes until Hannibal is pushing back into his grip, fully hard, and he can smell the scent of Hannibal's arousal in the air despite the water's best efforts to wash it all away. Hannibal makes a sound against his mouth when Will rubs his thumb over the sensitive head.
They break apart to snatch pockets of air, and then are kissing again half a second later. Hannibal's hands come up to cradle Will's face. His tongue thrusts into Will's mouth, takes up space, hungry and forceful, and Will fights it like an invasion, giving as good as he gets, straining to breach as many defenses as he's let fall.
"I want," he says when they draw apart for another gasp of breath, "I need—“
But he doesn’t know what he means to say, just quickens the pace of his fist on Hannibal’s cock until Hannibal makes another low, ragged sound in the back of his throat and arches against him, once and then again in an involuntary jerk of his body as his come spills hotly between them. It lands all across Will’s stomach, on his cock, on his thighs; before the water can wash it all away Hannibal drops to his knees on the hard tiled floor, hands gripping Will’s hips so tight he’ll have bruises, and swallows Will’s dick down to the root in one swift, wet slide.
“Oh—oh,” Will stutters, hearing the syllables echo in his mind over the roar of the water beating down on them. Hannibal. Those syllables, at least, are only spoken in his mind, he thinks—but maybe he mouths them, eyes slammed shut against the sight of Hannibal dripping wet on his knees for him, Will’s cock down his throat. Maybe Hannibal catches the shape of them on Will’s lips and that’s what makes him groan and swallow, the vibrations squeezing tight around Will’s length. Will comes down Hannibal’s throat, picturing Hannibal’s liquid brown eyes staring up at his mouth as he silently speaks Hannibal’s name like a charm, like a prayer.
Sleep comes easy after that, the both of them slipping naked under the covers to share in the other person’s warmth. It still surprises Will when he wakes up in the morning squinting at the sunlight that pours in from the half-drawn curtains, refreshed from a full night’s rest.
The other side of the bed is empty; he hears the clicking of a spoon against glass, and in another minute Hannibal, fully-armored and ready for the day, presents him his coffee. Will takes it and tries not to let his disappointment—at what?—show in the short thank you he mutters in Hannibal’s general direction, no eye contact offered or demanded.
He’s mistaken relief for disappointment. That is the matter in a nutshell. Last night’s intimacy wasn't real, and it’s just as well because neither of them can afford it. Not when Will is Will. Not when they might work together again.
“Breakfast?” suggests Hannibal in his quiet, unobtrusive way. “Or shall we return you to your motel room?”
Will’s eyes roam about the room, not looking for anything in particular, just keeping busy. He spots his clothes from last night, neatly folded at the foot of the bed.
“My room,” he says, and reaches for his shirt.