When Hannibal pulls up to the driveway of Will’s house, Will is huddled on the front steps wearing just a t-shirt, pale and shivering and hugging himself tight.
Hannibal leaves the car and draws nearer. Will does not meet Hannibal’s eyes. Instead, he casts his gaze out into the distance, the stark whiteness of the snow reflected back onto his irises, illuminating the despair in them.
“I went to Minnesota,” he says haltingly, “I took Abigail. We went to Minnesota…” An almost disbelieving shake of his head as he utters the next words in a low whisper. “She didn’t come back with me.”
So much finality in that statement. And at last he brings scared, beautiful eyes up to Hannibal’s face. There is dread in them, lest Hannibal should jump to the right conclusions and reject him. He doesn’t do so, of course.
He extends a hand instead. Will’s eyes drop to Hannibal’s palm, staring at it as though he is a man dying of thirst and Hannibal has just presented him with a flask of water. He grasps it tightly and allows Hannibal to pull him up and lead him into the house.
Inside, Hannibal sits him in an armchair. He retrieves a blanket from Will’s bed, cold and sweat-stained, and goes to drape it over Will, whose body is still rattling from the cold. As he presses it onto Will’s shoulders, Will reaches up to gather it close. Their fingers brush for an exquisite second, and Will’s are cold and clammy. He is about to draw back when Will’s fingers shift upward, snagging against his own. It is a tentative gesture, full of fear and need. It is even more satisfying than that instance outside on the porch, and Hannibal lets his hand remain. Will’s hand slips into his, their fingers intertwined.
After a beat, Will turns his head to look at their joined hands, his breath hot on Hannibal’s skin, sending soft susurrations of pleasure through him. Then he leans in, as slow as the hour-hand on a clock sliding forward in time, and kisses the back of Hannibal’s hand.
It’s very likely nothing more than simple gratitude that makes Will do it. And yet, Hannibal cannot help the familiar spark of hope that lights within him. The idea that this man could be so vulnerable, so susceptible to him.
“Are you going to look?” Will asks again in that shaky voice. “Or—or can you stay?”
Hannibal allows himself the indulgence of placing his free hand on Will’s shoulder. He slides it up until it rests at the juncture of Will’s neck and shoulder, where dark curls brush against his knuckles. Will needs a haircut. Hannibal imagines snipping the locks from the nape of his neck in his own bathroom as Will stretches himself back, wet and naked along the length of Hannibal’s bath tub.
Will makes a small sound, and Hannibal realizes he’s pressed the pads of his fingers into the flesh at the back of his neck. He reins in the pressure and sifts his fingers through Will’s hair. “I will stay for as long as you need me to, Will. I will always be there when you need me.”
Will’s breath leaves him in a tremulous rush. “I need you to...not look. Not yet. Please.” Will twists as he speaks the last word, his eyes striking blue and glittering with unshed tears.
Hannibal finds that Will is, after all, not the only one who is susceptible to influence. He nods, and pulls back for a second to step around to Will’s front. “Then I believe we should get you into bed,” he says, and allows himself a twitch of his lips. The touch of concern that shows through his eyes is real; Will’s hands are still freezing, after all. “I would like to get you warm. Come, Will.”
He offers his hand again. Will takes it, clutching tight.
Hannibal recognizes the prickle in his chest as something akin to impatience, though it is not with Will that he is impatient, but with himself. He has sprinkled breadcrumbs and laid the foundations of a path that will, he knows, only benefit Will, in the end. All things are going according to this splendid design. He should not allow himself to be tempted to deviate from its workings.
Will’s forehead is shining with sweat, and his body, even after its sojourn outside, radiates fevered heat. Only Will’s hands in his are trembling with cold. Hannibal takes both of them, standing before him as Will sits on the edge of his own bed. The resemblance to a romantic confession is not lost on Hannibal; he allows himself another small smile. He cannot help but be delighted by the surprising turn Will has forced upon them both.
“You don’t believe me.” Will peers into his eyes. “You think you won’t find anything when you look in that sink.”
“I believe you would never intentionally harm Abigail,” Hannibal counters. “I also know that you have been experiencing hallucinations, Will. This could be nothing more than that.”
“You really think so?”
There is so much hope struggling to break free in Will’s eyes that Hannibal feels a pang at what must occur. There is no other choice—the breadcrumbs already lay on the ground. It is an apology as well as a response to his own desires that causes Hannibal to draw closer, to drop Will’s hands so that he can bring his hands up to cradle Will’s face.
He allows Will to see a shadow of the tenderness that Hannibal feels for him, deep within his chest, a bright, glowing thing that is worming its way up to the surface. He doesn’t inflict all of that light upon Will, for fear it may blind him.
But Will sees enough. Enough to gasp and lean forward, tipping his head up to receive Hannibal’s kiss with eyes closed against all realities but the immediate one. The kiss is a sweet one, dry and chaste. Hannibal always knew that, should he be granted a taste of Will Graham, he would only want more. Now, despite the situation—or perhaps because he understands the situation well—he does not waste the opportunity.
Hannibal parts his lips ever so slightly, and that is enough for Will to recognize what is being offered. It is unclear who first deepens their kiss, but within moments they are sunken into each other’s mouths, tongues sliding together. Will tastes minty, of toothpaste and mouthwash, very likely put to use the instant he recovered enough from the shock of choking up Abigail’s severed ear.
A pity. Hannibal might have liked the taste of someone else’s blood on Will’s tongue.
Another few beats, and they find themselves lying on Will’s bed. Will is a warm and malleable presence underneath him. What elevates the experience even further for Hannibal is the lack of definition in it—he cannot separate the invitation of Will’s body from the intrusion of his own, cannot decide who set them off on this particular side road of bared skin and heated touch, even as he travels along it.
Will’s hands tug at his coat, at the knot of his tie. Hannibal allows himself to be divested, lips sealed to Will’s by the strength of their desires, the intensity of Will’s need for distraction. He hears the sound of buttons dropping to the ground as Will spreads his shirt open, cold fingers seeking the warmth of Hannibal’s skin before beginning their downward slide over Hannibal’s ribs and lower, to grapple with his belt.
Will lets out a soft, aching sigh as Hannibal’s lips map a path from his mouth to the hollow between his clavicles. Hannibal’s tongue comes out to touch the point on Will’s body where the first cut would land if Will were to be dissected on an autopsy table. Then, feeling a faint tinge of remorse that surprises him—Will is endlessly surprising—he kisses Will there. His hands are not as steady as they could be as he undoes the fastenings on Will’s jeans.
The momentary lapse of control should irritate, but it only adds spice to an already glorious experience, and Hannibal resolves to enjoy this, too. When nothing is there to hold them back any longer, he takes the both of them in hand, flesh hard and straining for release.
It is cruder and rougher than Hannibal would like. Whenever he imagines doing something like this to Will, they are in Hannibal’s bed, with a quantity of lubrication and condoms available to them. He doesn’t pause to search for lubrication or condoms here now, just allows the dry friction of their cocks, almost to the point of abrasiveness, to bring them to the edge.
They balance there. Will’s fever is riding him, and Hannibal is too enamored by the sight of it—Will sweat-drenched and flushed with heat and arousal, begging with his eyes and his lips and his touches on Hannibal’s body not only for release, but for absolution.
“Whatever happens, Will,” Hannibal tells him, and marvels at the tremor in his own voice, at the tears of sympathy pricking the corners of his eyes, “I will be here with you.” He kisses Will then, again and again as his hand works them both over more rapidly than before. A strangled sound breaks from Will’s lips and wetness floods over Hannibal’s hands.
“Hannibal,” Will rasps, just once, and touches the line of Hannibal’s jaw lightly with his fingers. It is this intimate gesture, this intimate name-calling, that brings about Hannibal’s orgasm.
The release rips a small groan from Hannibal. He pushes against Will one last time as he spends himself. Will’s arms come around to keep him there, suspended above him, and the silence trapped between them is filled with the sounds of their mingled breaths.
It is a silence that must be broken, as comfortable as it is. Hannibal takes a few more seconds to commit the entire interlude to memory, stored and locked away in its own special corner in his memory palace.
“I may collapse upon you if I don’t move soon, Will.”
“I don’t care,” comes the whispered reply. Will’s fingernails press into the skin on his back.
Hannibal closes his eyes and relaxes his body, letting Will feel his full weight crushing down on him. Will’s breath pushes out of him, but that is all the reaction he gets. He turns his face into Will’s hair to breathe in the sweet scent of his fevered brain. Soon they will cure Will of his ailment, and this particular brand of beauty will be lost to Hannibal.
He doesn’t repine much. With Will, there is always beauty being made and remade.
“Shall I go into the kitchen to fetch us something to drink?”
Will shivers under him, despite the heat of their joined bodies. “Yeah. Okay.” His arms fall away and he buries his face into his pillow.
Hannibal feels the loss of Will’s touch more keenly than he anticipates. As he turns away to go back into the kitchen, Will’s muffled words reach him.
“Whatever happens, you won’t go away?”
Hannibal allows himself one last, lingering brush of his fingertips against the beat of Will’s pulse in his neck.
“No, Will. Whatever happens, I will never leave you alone.”