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i forgive the world

Chapter Text

Hannibal finds the boy in an alleyway, leaning against the wall, head cocked to face the other away and hips canting off the wall as if in want. He rubs at something slowly with his hand, tears maybe, Hannibal thinks, or otherwise probably just an absent-minded gesture. When he turns to Hannibal, standing at the mouth of the alley, he sees he's rubbing a bruise blossoming along his jaw.

"It's rude to stare," he drawls, letting his hand drop to his pocket. Hannibal is only curious as to what he's going to extract - the boy looks too defeated to be withdrawing a weapon - and sure enough, it isn't. Only an innocuous pack of cigarettes. He puts the last one between his lips.

Hannibal wouldn't say he was staring before, but he is now. Harsh lamplight turns the boy's mouth a delightful shade of blood red. Hannibal is reminded of his original destination; Dr Gideon is probably still at the club. The good doctor will just have to wait.

"You're bleeding," Hannibal says. There is a gash on the boy's left cheekbone that looks like it stings, and a line of red at the corner of his mouth.

He wipes away at it, wincing. Looks down at the smudge of blood on his fingers. In the moonlight, it looks black. Like ink. 

"It doesn't hurt," he mumbles around the cigarette in his mouth. He hasn't lit it yet, but Hannibal can already smell the smoke, his nose twitching microscopically. He's always hated smoking. It's so terribly vulgar.

"I'm a doctor," Hannibal says, his voice smooth as honey. 

The boy pauses to contemplate, what exactly Hannibal isn't sure of, and then plucks the cigarette out of his mouth. Hannibal takes this moment to take in the boy's appearance, drink it in like fine wine. He's impossibly slender, dressed in black. And when he leans forward to place the cigarette in his pocket, exposing the smooth line of the back of his neck, Hannibal wants to wrap his hand around it, just to show the boy that he can.

"So?" he asks, genuinely perplexed. 

"I hope you didn't change your mind on smoking a cigarette because of my admission," Hannibal says in lieu of reply.

The boy scoffs, mouth snarling back to show a glint of white teeth. It's the first display of tenacity Hannibal gets from the boy, who otherwise looks as if he hasn’t slept for days, something gnawing at his mind instead like a tapeworm. 

When Hannibal only waits in silence for a reply, standing in his firmly grounded position, the boy's tenacity dwindles back into his former state of apathy. He sighs, loudly. It sounds like shattered glass in the silence of the dilapidated neighbourhood they're standing in.

"I don't have a lighter," he mumbles. 

Hannibal pretends not to have heard, provoking the young boy. He's curious as to how he'll react, cornered in an alleyway by a strange man. "Pardon?" 

"I don't have a lighter," he repeats, voice bitter. 

Hannibal smiles at his outburst, pleased. He takes the couple of steps needed to get to the boy, who instinctively retreats, curling into himself ever so slightly, before coming off the wall and angling himself as if shielding something behind him. Hannibal gracefully pulls out a lighter from the breast pocket of his suit jacket. The boy is awfully keen on avoiding eye contact, even when they're this close. He hesitates for a moment, before giving in, placing the crumpled cigarette back in his mouth.

Hannibal cups the flame to prevent it from blowing out. The boy ducks his head forward, brown curls brushing his forehead, sticking to thin film of sweat on his brow. For the first time, the boy makes eye contact with him, eyes locking above the flicker of the flame. The intimacy of it hits Hannibal in the solar plexus. 

The boy takes a drag, holding the grey smoke in his mouth, and Hannibal for one fraction of a second is enraptured. Then his aversion takes over and he steps back to put a courteous distance between the two. The boy exhales, long and low. "Thank you," he says, voice raspy from the smoke. 

"My pleasure," Hannibal replies, pocketing the silver lighter. 

"You're Danish," he observes, incorrectly. He seems to be attempting to show off some sort of intellectual prowess, Sherlock-esque in the way he says it.

"Lithuanian," Hannibal corrects.

The boy quirks his mouth to the side, disappointed with himself. A thin tendril of smoke escapes into the night sky, ghost-like. 

"Close enough," he shrugs. He goes to take another drag of his cigarette, when his nose starts to bleed. He doesn't seem fazed at first, watching the first few drops fall with indifference.

"Would you like me to-" Hannibal starts, but then the boy really starts to bleed, blood curling around his cigarette and onto his fingers. He doubles over, fumbling to cup his jaw with his hands, smudging blood all over his chin in the process. The gentleman in Hannibal goes to hand the boy his handkerchief, but he is very tempted to stand back and watch, and he succumbs. 

Hannibal, for an instance, watches, captivated. The boy lets his cigarette drop in favour of trying to curb the bleeding, blood trying to seep through slender fingers. There is a moment where his finger skims his brow, leaving a streak of blood on the edge of his brow-bone. A few drops find themselves on the tip of his eyelashes. Hannibal feels weak in the knees.

"Here-" he finally intervenes, extending his handkerchief. The boy takes the silk square, does not mention how long it took Hannibal to offer it. "Would you like me to drive you home?"

The boy freezes at the question, and in his stony silence Hannibal reads the terror and dread inflicted on him in his own childhood. His mind takes him back to cold days and colder nights in Lithuania, Mischa shivering in his arms, but not from the cold. 

Hannibal grits his teeth at the memory. The boy holds the handkerchief at his mouth and mumbles something. Hannibal does not ask him to repeat it because he knows the boy is purposefully being incoherent, glassy eyes looking everywhere but at him. 

“Come,” Hannibal says, using the gentlest of touches to grip him by the elbow. “Let me take you home.”

Chapter Text

"What's your name?" Hannibal asks as he pulls into the driveway of his house. The boy has been silent the whole way, in a pensive slumber Hannibal didn't wish to rouse him out of.

"Will," he replies quickly. His voice is flat, indifferent. It would probably scare any normal adult, but Hannibal isn't a normal adult. He's as indifferent as the boy, an indifference that is slightly tinged with curiosity at best, but he isn't very interested in what happened in that alleyway. A petty brawl, a mugging gone wrong, what does that matter to Hannibal? He's never been one to be stuck in the past. He looks over to Will, face smudged with blood, eyes hollow, and, yes, he's much more intrigued by the present.

"Well, William-"

He visibly flinches at the assumption, shoulders tensing. "No-" he says, voice suddenly thick with emotion. "No, it's just Will."

Hannibal goes around to the other side of the car to open the door for Will. He moves robotically to the front door, doesn't seem fazed by the ostentatious exterior of Hannibal's home, or that he's even ended up here, for that matter. Hannibal unlocks the door, Will standing close behind him, and Hannibal can feel the heat emanating off him. Can smell an atrocious deodorant on him, too, something that smells like it came out of a bottle with a ship on it. What is most fascinating, though, is the lack of fear in the boy's scent.

"May I take your coat?" Hannibal asks, eyeing Will's frayed windbreaker with distaste.

Will shrugs out of it without a word, winces when he gets it past his right shoulder. In response to Hannibal's questioning gaze: "It's sore."

Hannibal makes a nom-committal sound. "I'll have a look at it whilst I tend to your other wounds."

He hangs Will's jacket on the coat stand and then leads him into his office. Candles flicker, casting the young boy's angular face in shadows. The smell of wood sage comfortably permeates the air. Hannibal flicks the lights on, and retrieves the first aid kit from his desk before sitting Will down on the plush chaise longue.

Hannibal checks his shoulder first. His touches are purely clinical as he gently massages to see where it hurts. Will winces, drawing away from Hannibal's hands, when he touches near the ligament joining his shoulder and torso.

"It seems your gleno-humeral joint is sore. It's where the ball of the humerus fits into the socket of your shoulder. It is just a bit of inflammation that will heal by itself, over time."

Will smiles wryly. "You really are a doctor."

Hannibal hums, a smile threatening to tug at his own lips. "I am. Was there ever any doubt?"

When Will doesn't reply, Hannibal looks up from the first aid kit to see Will has zoned out once again. His face is surprisingly calm, passive, but Hannibal can see the storm brewing behind his cerulean eyes.

Hannibal soaks a piece of cotton gauze with antiseptic and leans forward, smoothing it across Will's cheekbone. Will grimaces but doesn't pull away, staying still. He shifts his leg, not with the intention of touching Hannibal, but his knee presses into Hannibal's leg all the same. He doesn't make an attempt to move it. Hannibal doesn't either, indulging the boy. And maybe a small part of him enjoys the solid contact, that warmth seeping in between the layers of their clothing.

"Who are you?" Will asks, fixing his eyes on Hannibal, pinning him with his gaze.

"Dr. Hannibal Lecter."

Will's eyes light up with recognition. For the first time he seems interested in something, rather than so terribly vacant. "You were Matthew Brown's doctor."

He is surprised such a young boy knows of the scandal, but he doesn't deny the fact. "I was."

Matthew Brown was a patient of his some time ago, about two years or so. He was troubled, but bright. Wanted to go Yale to study Law. He had a lot of ideas on law enforcement, and how society treats its criminals that interested Hannibal to no end. And then one day, he snapped, or that's what they said. Hannibal tried very hard to get details from the police, but they wouldn't tell him anymore than what the media was telling the public: that he had rounded up some of his classmates in a science lab with the pretence of doing a group project, before setting them on fire.

"How do you know of the incident?” Hannibal asks. Will would have been particularly young when it happened. Of course it was big news in mainstream media, but Will must have delved deep to find out that Hannibal was Matthew’s psychiatrist.

“I follow things like that,” Will says.

Hannibal brings the gauze down to Will’s mouth, pressing it firnly against the cut at the corner of his lips.

“Like what?”

“Death.”

Hannibal stills. “And what did you think of Matthew Brown’s actions?”

Will barks out a dry laugh. “Don’t psychoanalyse me.”

Smart boy. Hannibal tries to use humour to disarm his apprehension. “Why not? I won’t charge you.” The joke falls flat, though, in the vast emptiness of the room they’re sitting in.

“You won’t like me when I’m psychoanalysed.

Oh, I think I will, Hannibal thinks, delighted. Out loud he says, “My apologies. It is hard to avoid seeing people outside the sphere of my profession.”

Will presses his knee harder into Hannibal’s leg. It is only a slight increase in pressure, but Hannibal is hyper-aware of every move the boy makes. Nevertheless, he pretends not to notice, continuing to wipe the gauze over some minor scratches on his face.

Finally, he is done, replacing all the materials back in the first aid kit and closing it. He shifts away from Will to place the first aid kit on the floor, and their point of contact is gone.

“I will get the guest room ready for you-“

”What?” the boy interjects, brow furrowed.

“The guest room. The hour is very late, and I must insist you stay here for the night.

Will shakes his head, curls bouncing. He stands up, backtracking slowly to the office door. Hannibal lets him. “No. No, I have to go home.”

Hannibal stands up too, but stays rooted in his position. He pauses to survey the boy. He’s wearing a ragged plaid shirt and black jeans. His boots have dried mud on them. His cheek glistens in the light above from where the antiseptic hasn’t dried yet. He returns his gaze back to Will’s face, and he seems to be holding his breath in anticipation of Hannibal’s reply.

“How old are you?” he asks, slowly.

Will swallows. He looks so young, with the distance between them. “I’m sixteen.”

Younger than Hannibal initially thought, but he is not surprised. “And what were you doing in that alleyway, Will?”

Hannibal is curious as to how easily the boy will open up to him.

Will’s eyes dart away, towards the windows. “I.. I was...”

He swallows again, his Adam’s apple bobbing along the smooth expanse of his throat. Hannibal has the sudden desire to bite it.

Will places his hand on the doorknob, but doesn’t turn away from Hannibal. Not yet. “I really have to go.”

Hannibal thinks. It is most likely that he will never see this boy again. And a specimen such as himself, as well: intelligent and not averse to the concept of death, like most plebeian humans are. If anything, he seems drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. If he lets him leave, he won't be able to pick at his brain, to finish the game they have started.

In the end, Hannibal nods his consent, lets him go. Perhaps they will meet again. He has always had an irrational, almost romantic faith in fate.

Chapter Text

The next day, at noon, the doorbell rings. Hannibal puts down his scalpel and pencil and goes to open the door.

It's Frederick Chilton. Obnoxious, tiresome Frederick Chilton. He comes bearing a bottle of wine and a gift basket of cheese. Hannibal smiles at him. "Frederick, come in."

Hannibal takes the wine and basket from Chilton to the kitchen. He does not wait to ask if he can hang up his coat for him. Chilton follows him in, grinning, showing off too-white teeth. It makes his ears look bigger as well, like a monkey, but Hannibal does not tell him that.

Instead, he says, "Frederick, it’s been a while! I was just thinking the other day of inviting you to dinner."

Chilton immediately beams, the comment going to his head like nicotine to a smoking addict. How banal. "Well, you haven't done a dinner in so long, I would be surprised if you did," he replies, flattering himself.

"Anything for an old friend," Hannibal nods.

He opens the wine, a bottle of Chateau Trotanoy. Hannibal peers at the label: 1998. Not bad, Hannibal thinks to himself. He commends Chilton for the effort.

He pours them both a glass before sitting down at the kitchen island with Chilton. "What brings you here, today?"

Chilton swirls the wine in his glass, takes a huge sniff, before taking a sip. Lets his eyes flicker shut for a moment in appreciation. "Maybe I've missed you." Hannibal stares back at Chilton with empty eyes, unamused. Frederick lets out a nervous laugh. "Of course, I'm just here to see how you are."

Of course he is. Hannibal peers down into the ruby-red void of his glass, feigning hurt. "Yes, of course."

Chilton sighs. "You'll be at peace when they find who murdered her. You need closure."

What Hannibal needs, is to maul Chilton to death. Pull his tongue through a slit in his throat. He wonders why he hasn't killed the doctor yet, as he drones on about mourning and grief. How satisfying it would be for Chilton's last moment to be of enlightenment, knowing what Hannibal really is.

"Yes, I agree. I've just been shocked by Alana's death."

"You're still taking appointments," he replies in a back-handed manner, judgement lurking beneath his comment.

Hannibal imagines Chilton frothing at the mouth, perhaps something in the wine causing him to gag on his own blood. Eyes seizing in all directions and one last pathetic attempt at calling for help, before falling face-down on the marble counter, smashing his large nose in. He smiles at him. "Yes, well, it is the only thing that gives my life normalcy, at the moment."

"Of course. How is the investigation going? Have they found any leads?"

Oh, never mind leads. Hannibal knows who did it.

It was Abel Gideon. He saw Hannibal's loneliness, not born out of sentimentality but just the base fact that nobody is equal to him. Nobody will ever understand him, get close enough to even get a glimpse of who he is. Alana was the closest thing Hannibal had to a friend, by no means equal to him, nowhere near, but she was a like a friend nevertheless. And Gideon took that away from Hannibal.

It is not Alana's loss that affronts him, but the idea that Gideon knew to exploit that point. No matter. Hannibal will take Gideon's life from him, soon enough. He'll make sure to take his eyes out, to teach him a lesson. Maybe he'll feed them to him, a last feast. Yes, Hannibal thinks, that'll be just.

"No, I'm afraid they don't have any leads as of now," he finally replies, draining the last of his wine.

Hannibal itches to get back to his drawings, drums his fingers lightly against the countertop. At least Frederick takes the hint this time, finishing off his wine in one gulp and brushing his hands off on this knees. "Well, I must be going. But just one last thing. We aren't releasing the news to the public media yet, but.. Well, you're aware that Matthew Brown's been serving his sentence at my hospital."

Hannibal nods.

Chilton sighs. "Rather, he was."

Hannibal lets his mind stop drifting to fantasies of Chilton dead at the bottom of a measly ditch. "How do you mean?" he asks, head tilted to the side.

"He escaped. A week ago. Some would say I pushed him to it, enabled him."

Ah, so that's the purpose of Chilton's visit. Hannibal should've known, really, that he hadn't just come to enquire about Hannibal's state of mind. 

"I am sure that wasn't the case," Hannibal replies.

"It wasn't," Chilton replies quickly, defensively. "I just thought I should let you know, because I know you'll support me if push comes to shove."

How quaint Chilton is, in the grand scheme of things. He doesn't see things for what they really are. He doesn't see things at all, only interested in his sick, twisted patients, and even those are corrupted by his influence and lax psychiatry. 

"Thank you for coming around, Frederick," Hannibal finally says.

He nods. "Certainly. If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to call me."

It's a last ditch attempt at emphasising the fact that they are allies, and have a certain loyalty towards each other. Chilton's lack of subtlety nauseates Hannibal. The cloud of excessive cologne and anxiety Chilton leaves in his wake is even more nauseating.

 

***

 

 

For a week, Hannibal's chance meeting with Will does not affect him. He doesn't know what he was thinking would happen when he let Will go, that would somehow lead Will back to him, but it doesn't happen. Hannibal doesn't so much as think about the young boy. Rather, he thinks about Gideon, day and night. The itch to finish what he had gone out to do that day, to slaughter the doctor like a pig, becomes almost unbearable. 

But his neighbour, an otherwise distant lady, noticed Will's arrival that night and asked Hannibal about him one morning whilst he was leaving for work. And Hannibal can't go out to kill Gideon with that memory fresh in his neighbour's mind, of a strange boy visiting the house of a man who rarely gets visitors. (She had said young, "young boy", but Hannibal read between the lines). Insignificant, in the grand scheme of things, and yet it could grab the attention of the police. Hannibal knows his art like the back of his hand - the screams and the tang of blood and the serene aftermath - and that is why he knows that anything can trigger a downfall. Competent serial killers have been caught because of far less.

So, for a week, Hannibal wallows in his fantasy of gutting Gideon. He thinks about it whilst he cooks, works, drives. He is driving back home from a grocery run, thinking about the hollow sockets of Gideon's eyes, when his gaze falls on a lone figure walking. He has to do a double take but - yes, it's that boy. Will. Hunched over to shield himself from the heavy rain, he's walking in the direction opposite to Hannibal is going. 

Hannibal’s not sure for a moment, what he wants. He remembers that strong sense of fate, when he had let Will leave. But right now, he wants the taste of blood, wants it dripping obscenely from his mouth onto his crisp white shirt. He doesn't want to take in a stray. Will hasn't noticed Hannibal either, too focused on avoiding the rain. 

Hannibal swerves to the side of the road.

Will jumps, pulling his windbreaker tight around him and peering through the rain at Hannibal's Bentley.

Hannibal rolls the window down, doesn't mind that the strong rain is slanting into the car. "Apologies, Will. I didn't meant to startle you." 

Hannibal can't tell if Will is surprised or not, the rain obscuring his features. He doesn't move closer to the window, only bringing his hand up to shield his eyes from the rain. "Dr Lecter?"

"Can I give you a ride?"

Will looks down the road, before retuning his attention to Hannibal. "I don't... I mean, I'm going to get your car all wet," he says. The rain really has become a nuisance; Will is absolutely soaking. 

"It's alright, it'll dry." 

Will swipes away the water dripping from his hair into his eyes. "It's okay. I'm close  to home- thank you, though."

"Please, I insist." Hannibal says quickly. He means to sound chivalrous but comes across as slightly desperate. He hopes Will doesn't notice.

Someone drives past them, honking loudly despite the fact that he's not obstructing the road at all. Will sighs, and gets in.

It seems that his body only realises how cold it is once he feels the warmth of Hannibal's car. His eyes sweep the interior as if he's sat inside it for the first time. His hands shake slightly as lays them flat on his thighs. 

Hannibal tuts. "You'll catch a cold."

Hannibal watches Will shrug out of the corner of his eye. "It's not that bad." 

Will is soft and demure compared to how Hannibal saw him last time. Will was veritably bitter that night, eyes sharp. He spoke as if someone had, somehow, wronged him. Hannibal looks at Will when stopped at a red light, and he stares back, defiantly. Only then does Hannibal realise the coincidence of the situation, but it's too late now. He watches a clear raindrop roll from his hairline and curl around the shell of his ear. Yes, it's much too late. There's something about his presence that pulls Hannibal in, like the moon does the tide.

"We can stop at my house and I can give you a change of clothes before dropping you home. Is that alright?"

Hannibal half-expects him to protest, but he only nods. 

 

 

***

 

 

After leading Will to the guest-room, Hannibal gets the smallest t-shirt he can find and a pair of thick jogging bottoms. 

"Will, may I come in?" he asks cordially, knocking on the door.

"Yeah." 

Will has taken his windbreaker off, and is left standing in the middle of the room in a white t-shirt that is soaked. It sticks to the contours of Will's body. He smiles nervously at Hannibal's surveyal of Will's state, unaware that Hannibal is staring at him for all the wrong reasons. "Seems like the rain got through my coat," he starts. "I should've- oh shit."

The bedsheet has gone dark from where Will threw his wet coat onto it. Hannibal can't really find it in himself to care. Will turns to take it off the bed, his t-shirt clinging to the slope of his back in such a way that causes deaire to hit his gut like a punch.

Hannibal shakes the feeling off. It’s swift and completely unexpected - yes this boy is pretty, but that’s where the spectrum starts and ends. Hannibal has no desire to desire him. Alana was stunning, shiny hair and gorgeous curves and Hannibal didn’t even lay a hand on her. This boy, with unruly curls and lithe limbs is nothing that Hannibal should want. 

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise it was so wet,” Will rambles, holding the coat at arms length. 

Hannibal shoots him a small smile. “Please, don’t worry about it.” 

Wil smiles back, soft. Hannibal leaves him to change his clothes. 

 

 

***

 

 

Ten minutes pass. First Hannibal thinks he’s probably just using the shower,  but then ten minutes turn into twenty and he ventures upstairs to see what’s going on.

He fears Will might've escaped through the window, down the balcony, but when Hannibal opens the door slowly to peer inside, he’s there. He’s sitting on the bed, head in his hands.

It takes Will a couple of moments to realise he’s not alone. His head shoots up. 

“Will, are you ready for me to drop you home?”

He doesn’t reply, slender fingers fidgeting with the long sleeves of Hannibal’s shirt.

”Are you alright?” he asks softly.

The strangest thing happens. He starts to cry.

And of course, Hannibal has seen hundreds of people cry in his career, but in the personal vicinity of his home, it’s different. It feels like a invasion of Hannibal’s space. And yet he feels a small pang of sympathy. 

Hannibal sits down next to Will, maintaining a respectful distance. 

Will sniffles, a soft sob escaping him. And he tilts his head towards Hannibal slightly, the smallest of gestures, but Hannibal can read in his body language that he wants to touch Hannibal, wants to find comfort in physical contact. He seems to stop himself at the last moment though, instead scrubbing furiously at his tears.

”Fuck-“ he presses the heels of his hands into his eyes. Hannibal ignores his crude language, lets it slide. “This is terrible, I’m sorry-“

”I understand. You don’t want to go home.”

Hannibal remembers when he was Will’s age, scared out of his mind to go back home, to the estate. And that was only in fear of facing what had already happened, the ghosts of his past. Hannibal imagines Will has to go back home everyday to something still happening, something he truly can’t escape.

“It’s fine. I’m fine.”

”It’s your father, isn’t it?” Hannibal asks stoically. It’s rather a low blow, and only a bluff, but from the way Will recoils Hannibal seems to have hit the mark.

“You don’t- you don’t know anything. About me, my life. And your being a psychiatrist especially doesn’t mean anything. You only see what you want.”

Interesting. Hannibal cocks his head to the side, makes eye contact with Will. And he can see in his eyes that it sends a thrill down Will’s spine. 

“I apologise.”

Will stands up, looks around for his belongings. “I want to go home, now,” he says. His voice has the slightest tremor to it. He doesn’t mean it. 

“I think you should stay, Will. It’s rather late, and I don’t think you’re in the best state of mind to return to your.. family situation.”

Will glares at Hannibal. “No, I-“

”It wasn’t a question, Will.” He uses a firm, authoritative voice, the same tone he would use with Alana in her moments of submission, where she’d be ready to tell him anything. 

Will acquiesces, like a flower does to the sun.

Chapter Text

When Hannibal wakes, the first thing he does is walk by the guest room. He stands at the door and listens. For a moment he thinks that maybe he's imagined the whole thing; that someone knocked Will's existence into his brain like a stubborn dream, just to see what would happen.

Will's soft breaths float through the crack in the door. 

Hannibal pushes it open a fraction of a centimetre. He can't remember the last time someone slept in his home. Will is sprawled stomach-down on the bed, a halo of dark curls contrasting sharply with the soft white sheets. The sun is rising, bathing the boy in golden light. It seems like a scene out of a fairy-tale, and yet all Hannibal can see behind his eyelids is the way Will's lips shaped around the word death.

A murmur of a breeze blows itself through the open window, Will shifts imperceptibly in his sleep, and the moment is shattered. 

Hannibal closes the door, and goes to start on breakfast.

 

 

***

 

 

The smell of quiche and crêpes must draw Will downstairs. He walks in still sleep-addled, rubbing the fatigue from his eyes, clothed in Hannibal's sweatpants and shirt. The implication causes Hannibal's mind to drift to places it shouldn't really go. He shakes the idea away, and invites Will to sit down and eat, his plate already ready on the kitchen island.

Apart from a muttered "good morning", Will eats in silence. Most people endlessly praise Hannibal's food the first time they try it, but Will doesn't say a word. He only sits there cutting his food up neatly before putting it in his mouth. 

"How is it?" Hannibal risks, breaking the silence.

Will is nearly done. He scrapes a bit of egg stuck on the fork with the edge of his knife, before resting the cutlery neatly on the plate. "It's good. Thanks," he replies, voice rather flat for someone giving a compliment. His eyes dart up to Hannibal's face, before going down to the mug of coffee. He does a double take, brow furrowing at Hannibal's expression. "Are you disappointed?"

Hannibal frowns slightly. "I'm not disappointed."

"You look disappointed."

Hannibal digs himself a deeper hole. "Surprised, let's say. Usually people are a bit more... vocal, after having tasted my food."

Will quirks his mouth to the side, amused. "I'm not that interested in you."

It's a blow to Hannibal's position of power. Rather disrespectful, which aggravates Hannibal.

He grabs his car keys from the hook next to the kitchen door and looks back at Will, stoic. "If you're done, shall we go?"

He is purposefully vague, the sadist coming out in him. Will's shoulders droop, and he fidgets with the hem of Hannibal's shirt. Hannibal smells the fear coming off him, tangy and slightly sweet.

"Where.. where are we going?"

He peers at Hannibal with doe-eyes, as if he's a stray puppy that's about to be taken to the shelter but doesn't want to go. It's nice to see Hannibal's reasserted his power, reminded Will of who's really in control here. Not that Will's snark and wit isn't refreshing, but Hannibal can't let it get it out of hand.

Hannibal looks Will up and down. "To get you some new clothes."

His shoulders sag even further, this time with relief. Will grabs his mug of coffee and tries in vain to hide his small smile behind it. For some reason, it's nice to see that too.

 

 

***

 

 

Will gets into the ragged jeans and top he was wearing when Hannibal found him, and then they go to Macy's. It's one of the few stores that will be open during the early afternoon, and it's one of the only departmental stores that Hannibal doesn't mind buying from. He's shopped there a few times, and it's probably his distinctive style and foreign accent that has cemented him as regular at the store. 

Hannibal grabs a couple of t-shirts off a rack and peers at the sizes. He glances Will over again and tuts. "Are you a small or an extra small?"

Will scoffs, offended. "I get it, I'm scrawny. You don't have to be such a dick about it."

And once again, there's that snark that Will insists on shoving into their interactions, like a kid at a zoo that tempts caged animals with morsels of food despite the warning sign. Hannibal pins Will with a pointed look. "Don't swear," he says authoritatively. He doesn't appreciate the tone of irreverence either, but he decides to save that complaint for another time. 

Will looks around at the lack of people in their proximity. "Why - they won't kick us out for that will they?"

Hannibal isn't sure if Will is being purposefully naïve or not. "It's unnecessarily vulgar," he replies as he returns the extra-small shirts back on the rack. There had been a shop assistant following them as soon as they entered, wanting to be of help, but Hannibal had shooed her away in favour of being alone with Will.

Will barks out a laugh. "I haven't told you to stop being vulgar."

Hannibal stops looking around for a dress-shirt that Will won't find overly formal and turns to him. "And in what manner have I been vulgar?"

Will seems to be on the verge of smirking, but he opts for a straight face as he pulls a tag out of one of the shirts Hannibal is holding and peers at the price. "This is $120. For one shirt. That is unnecessarily vulgar."

"If you don't want clothes of good quality I can-"

"I wouldn't know what to do with $120 if you handed it to me," he says, voice soft now. It is still hostile, but carries a touch of melancholy that makes Hannibal rather uncomfortable. "Why are you even buying me clothes?" he asks sharply, as if he didn't agree to come with Hannibal whilst fully aware of his intentions. 

"You agreed."

"Yeah, but..."

"Why?"

Will shrugs, looking away. "I don't know-"

"I don't appreciate dishonesty."

Will looks at Hannibal's tie, the closest thing to eye contact he can manage at the moment. "I was just glad you weren't kicking me out."

Hannibal hums in accord. "And that is the reason I'm buying you clothes. I can't have you roaming around my home in the same old clothes."

Will pulls his windbreaker around him, as if what Hannibal has said has made him uncomfortable. He doesn’t dignify Hannibal’s comment with a reply. Instead he pulls the pile of clothes draped over Hannibal’s arm, for something to do. “Let me hold these.”

They get back to shopping, not that it takes much longer. Hannibal grabs some sleeping clothes. When they’re walking past the women’s section, Will’s eyes catch onto a pair of red velvet boots sitting in a glass case. His stride falters, before he catches himself and continues to walk with confidence. 

Hannibal stops right next to the pedastal the boots sit on, and draws his phone from his pocket. “One moment, I’ve forgotten to text a colleague,” he lies smoothly.

Hannibal watches as Will’s eyes drift to the boots again. They’re nothing shocking, the block heel is only an inch tall; Hannibal wouldn’t look twice if he saw a male wearing them in public. In any case, the small boost would elongate Will’s already lithe legs very nicely.

”Do you like them?”

Will startles. Shrugs. “It’s the colour.”

Hannibal cocks his head. “The colour?” Hannibal looks back at the boots and realises the deep red is very close to the colour of blood. The thought of blood leads Hannibal to Abel Gideon. He realises that he hasn’t though about Dr Gideon for a very long time. It’s very uncharacteristic of him, but then his gaze falls back to Will, and, well, that’s why, isn’t it? It’s Will.

”I see,” Hannibal finally says. He peers at the information plaque. Alexander McQueen. $1400.

”I don’t want them,” Will says in response to Hannibal’s interest. 

“I think they would look rather becoming on you,” Hannibal says.

Will blushes, opens his mouth to say something but nothing comes out. The flush of red dusting his cheeks is endearing. At the end of the day, though, it is just blood finding it’s way to the surface of his skin. Blood. What a funny thing.

Hannibal acquiesces, but files the boots away for possible fuure reference. He leads them to the till, to pay. Will makes a point to look away from the final price, his back to the display. 

 

 

***

 

 

When they get back home, Will takes the clothes up to the guest room and doesn’t come down for a while. Hannibal thinks they should probably talk about whether his parents will be looking for him or not; the uncertainty of the situation unnerves Hannibal slightly. It doesn’t seem like Will wants to talk about his family, though. The last time Hannibal brought up his father, Will became rather aggravated.

And anyways, Hannibal is more interested in how easily Will opens up himself. So, he lets Will be, instead starting to fix up something for lunch.

Will comes down of his own accord, asks Hannibal if he can use the library.

”Of course,” he replies as he chops up onions for the salad he’s making.

Hannibal is glad he doesn’t have any appointments until Monday, in two days time.  It would throw off the balance they’re starting to find, if Hannibal left. And he isn’t quite sure he trusts Will. Despite his lack of violence and malice, he still seems a bit volatile. 

The doorbell rings, which comes as a surprise. Knowing Will’s reclusive nature, Hannibal assumes he won’t want anything to do with it. So, Hannibal takes his time brushing off his hands. He’s in the process of taking his apron off when he hears the door click open.

Hannibal had been wrong then, about Will not wanting to interfere. He makes his way to the door quickly, irritated.

”Someone’s here,” Will says, standing at the door.

Behind him, stands Dr Gideon. 

Chapter Text

Dr Gideon stands tall and superior, despite his average height, chest puffed and eyes focused on Hannibal with laser intensity. He curls his lip up, but not into a smile. It's predatory. He know he has the upper hand because of his unannounced arrival, but Hannibal is no amateur, and at the end of the day Dr Gideon is no match for him. 

Will is watching this non-verbal exchange between the two with keen eyes, gaze flitting between the two as if he can see the sharp line of tension that connects them. 

"Dr Gideon," Hannibal announces, his voice void of any emotion. "Please, come in."

Hannibal gestures towards the front-room, adjacent to the door, a superficial smile on his lips. He does not offer to hang up Dr Gideon's coat. The man gazes around the hallway, his gaze stopping on Will. He looks him up and down. He proceeds to shrug his coat off, leisurely. Gestures towards the coat rack. "Could you please hang this up?"

Will doesn't take offence, grabbing Dr Gideon's coat in silence and hanging it up. He does hang it on the lowest peg, though, despite the fact that there are several free pegs much higher up. The length of the coat means that the bottom touches the floor. It isn't unintentional, and Hannibal has to stop himself from smiling smugly. Dr Gideon doesn't say a word, walking into the front-room and sitting himself onto the couch opposite the door. 

Hannibal turns to Will. He takes a glimpse at his watch; the time is nearing noon. "If you could just give me a moment with the doctor. I've finished plating most of lunch, so you can help yourself and I'll join you momentarily." 

Will looks curious, sneaking a glance over Hannibal's shoulder at Dr Gideon before nodding. "Yeah, sure."

Hannibal closes the door behind him. "Dr Gideon. You should've let me know you were visiting. I would've made you a plate for lunch."

Dr Gideon waves his hand, dismissive. "Oh, that's quite alright." He looks at the closed door suggestively. "I hope I'm not interrupting something."

There is an implication there. A question, as well, that Hannibal finds himself feeling obliged to answer. "No worries, it's just my nephew come to visit."

Dr Gideon nods understandingly. "I see."

A silence ensues, where they just size each other up. Hannibal does not sit down. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Hannibal loses himself a little, in his mind. He could so easily kill Dr Gideon now. Hannibal is blocking the only exit, he's the one standing up: he has every advantage. Hannibal could move to the window with the excuse of pulling open the curtains a little wider, and smash the bust of Anthemion that is sitting in the corner of the room into Dr Gideon's head. Hannibal can already smell the blood, can feel the metallic taste cloy at the back of his throat. His fingers twitch at his side. He takes a step towards the centre of the room, adrenaline starting to pump through his veins. Dr Gideon is staring at Hannibal, a micro-expression of amusement on his face, and oh, if he doesn't wipe that expression off his glib face. If he doesn't make him pay for the rancid, ungracious challenge he has made-

From the kitchen, the sound of a fork scraping a plate. Hannibal snaps out of his stupor, breath stuck at the back of his throat. He exhales deeply, and sits down on the couch, unbuttoning his suit jacket in one fluid motion. 

"A friend is writing a research paper on violent tendencies of sociopathic individuals, and she wanted your opinion on some aspects of her research. Dr Leona Marr. It's the paper-"

Hannibal has already made the connection. "The paper Alana was writing."

He softens his face, brow creasing. "Yes."

"I'm afraid I can't be of any help in the sphere of academia, at the moment," he replies, eyes narrowing. "I have quite a lot on my plate, as of now."

"Like taking care of your nephew?" Hannibal has to stop himself from snarling. He smoothes his hands down his trousers, pretends to pick at a stray thread. He pretends to deliberate, the pause becoming ridiculously long but Hannibal does not wish to grace Dr Gideon with a reply. 

In any case, Dr Gideon beats him to it. "He seems familiar," he says, dragging out the word familiar as if he's tasting it in his mouth. "Have I seen him before?"

Hannibal's initial thought is that this is another bluff to provoke him, but when he looks at Dr Gideon's face his expression is genuine. 

It isn't a lie. 

"Perhaps you've met him at one of my dinner parties," Hannibal says.

His is a lie. And the way Dr Gideon's eyebrows rise microscopically, Hannibal knows he's caught it. His mind drifts to Will; he hasn't made a sound since the slight scraping of cutlery that pulled Hannibal out of his murderous rave.

Hannibal gets up with a flourish, moves to the door and swings it open, all within the blink of an eye. "Well. I must take your leave. I am exceptionally busy today."

Dr Gideon's lip twitches, offended, but he does not voice his irritation. 

He simply nods, saying a curt goodbye. Hannibal waits until the very last second of their meeting, where the doctor is at the threshold of the front door, to say one last thing. "Apologies for rushing you out. Perhaps I will see you again, very soon."

He says it like it is a prophecy, words dripping from his mouth like prayers do from the mouths of priests. And Hannibal will be damned if he doesn't fulfil it.

 

 

***

 

 

This is why he did not hear anything but silence from the kitchen.

Will has been waiting.

He's sitting at the kitchen island, hand cupping his chin, peering out of the window deep in thought. His plate is untouched, and he's pushed Hannibal's plate into place as well, into the space opposite him. He startles out of his reverie when he realises Hannibal's returned. "Oh, hey."

Hannibal, for some reason, can't find it in himself to not be wary. "Why haven't you eaten?"

Will shrugs. "I wanted to wait for you." 

He's acting very nonchalant, but Hannibal can see through it a secret sense of hope that Hannibal will approve. Appreciate it, even. 

For some reason, Hannibal's heart swells. 

"That was very nice of you," Hannibal says, voice slightly stoic despite his appreciation. Will shrugs again, grabbing his fork and poking at the prosciutto. Hannibal moves to the stove, flicking a hob on. "Come, let me heat your plate." 

Will gets out of his seat with his plate, handing it to Hannibal. Hannibal carefully slides the contents into a pan, the oil sizzling.

"That was Dr Gideon. He used to be a colleague of mine." It is an intentional prompt: the idea that Dr Gideon has seen Will before won't leave his mind, no matter how hard he tries to shake it off.

When Will doesn't answer, Hannibal looks back at him over his shoulder. "Cool," he finally says, and it is such a boyish thing to say that Hannibal's breath catches. "What did he want?" he says after a pause, sensing that Hannibal wants to talk about the doctor. 

"Nothing of significance. Just a friend, dropping in."

Will scoffs. "Hardly seemed like a friend."

Hannibal flips the ham expertly. "Why do you say that?"

A beat. "You were looking at him like you wanted to kill him."

Hannibal freezes. It is a common enough expression, to express innocent distaste, but Will's use of it is anything but innocent. He turns the stove off, the lack of crackling fire restoring the room to silence. He turns slowly, to face Will, who is leaning against the kitchen island, hip cocked like that night in the alleyway. Hannibal shakes off the strong sense of deja-vu, and takes a moment to simply survey Will. 

Hannibal takes a step closer to Will, and another until he is in his personal space. Will presses himself back into the kitchen island. "How would you do it?"

"What?" Will stutters, as Hannibal places his hands on the kitchen island, either side of Will, boxing him in. This close, Hannibal can hear Will's silence, the way his breathing has stopped at their proximity. 

"Kill someone," Hannibal elucidates. 

He seeks eye contact, especially because he knows how much Will hates it. This close it is difficult, but Will manages to avoid looking into Hannibal's eyes. Hannibal is unrelenting, though. He slides his hands along the marble, closer to Will, but doesn't touch him. Finally, Will gives in. His eyes flick up to Hannibal’s. His pupils dilate, leaving only a thin rim of blue. 

He is intimidated, but stands his ground. He indulges Hannibal. "I.." Hannibal tilts his head, prompting him. "With my hands."

Will, up this close, is stunning. Soft curls frame his pale face; his face is round, but his square jaw balances it out. Wide eyes, framed by his ridiculously long eyelashes. He's as pretty as an angel. Hannibal imagines he would look perfect in a renaissance painting, surrounded by robed men and rays of light cutting through the sky. 

"Why?" he asks, genuinely curious. 

"It's intimate," Will replies, voice low. 

Intimate. Hannibal pulls away lest he do something silly. He is quick and casual, as if he wasn't just moments ago close enough to be able to count Will's eyelashes. He slides Will's food back into his plate and places it at his seat. He doesn't go to reheat his own food - he had no intention to eat the food once it had gone cold. "That should be sufficiently heated," he says, and leaves swiftly, retreating to his office.

It is only when he's sat down at his desk, does he realises that he forgot to ask Will if he knows Dr Gideon.

 

Chapter Text

They fall into a sort of easy routine, albeit untethered from each other, but that suits Hannibal perfectly. Hannibal half expects social services to turn up on his doorstep, asking why he's harbouring a missing child before whisking Will away back to his father. But nothing of the sort happens, and Hannibal realises that Will’s despair when it comes to his home is justified.

It makes Hannibal angry. That someone would neglect someone as brilliant as Will. And yes, Will is brilliant, he sees glimpses of it whenever they converse. He’s only just a boy, and yet when Hannibal picked him up on the side of the road that night, he must’ve known on some instinctive level that Will wasn’t like other people, not as mediocre or single-minded as them. 

Will spends a lot of time in Hannibal’s library. Hannibal peers at the covers when Will is deep into his reading, and smiles to himself, approving of his choices. They eat, culinary masterpieces that Hannibal creates to perfection every time, and Will does not question Hannibal’s obsession with food. In any case, he is impressed, his eyes gleaming with awe, and that feeds Hannibal’s ego to no end.

The trust Hannibal has put into Will is disarming. It is not unwavering, but it is there, a sliver of comfort. He locks the door when he leaves for appointments, he checks Will’s room for anything untoward when Will is downstairs, but nonetheless, even to let Will into his life like this is a huge step.

It has only been five days, but yes, they fall into an easy routine. 

Hannibal walks into the dining room, holding a dish that is alight with flames. Candles flicker along the table. Will had questioned the odd ritual, and Hannibal had spun some lie about his archaic nature and appreciation of the dramatic, but the truth is Will’s face looks exquisite cast in shadows. 

That is another disarming quality to their developing relationship; Will is stunning. And anything sexual is not a priority, but Hannibal is often tempted. It manifests itself in the most innocent of actions: Will bending over to poke at the fire, exposing the slender line of his neck. Will walking into the kitchen in the morning, the round neck of his soft t-shirt dishevelled, exposing more skin than appropriate. 

Hannibal sets the dish in the middle of the table, and sits opposite Will. “Among Gourmands, the Ortolan bunting is considered a rare but debauched delicacy.” Will peers at the burning birds with curiosity, head tilted to the side. “A rite of passage, if you will.”

“Ortolans are endangered.”

Hannibal is taken aback, but only just. He has learnt to not underestimate the boy, and so doesn’t question his knowledge. Instead, he says, “Who amongst us is not?”

Will smiles. It is not superficial, or exaggerated. He understands. Oh, what a brilliant boy. Hannibal continues his introduction: “Preparation calls for the songbird to be drowned alive in Armagnac. It is then roasted and consumed whole in a single mouthful.”

Will is the first to pick up the tiny bird, not bothering to wait for Hannibal to lead the way. Hannibal follows, holding it between thumb and forefinger.

Will glances at Hannibal. “Bones and all?”

Hannibal smiles. “Bones and all,” he confirms.

Will brings the bird to his mouth, slowly, inch by inch. It seems infinitely slow to Hannibal, as if Will is teasing. Will opens his mouth wide, pink lips stretching, and makes eye contact with Hannibal above the knuckles of his hand. He finally puts it into his mouth, chewing carefully. The bird goes down his throat in one smooth motion. Hannibal traces the movement along his neck with hungry eyes.

Hannibal has not eaten his own ortolan yet. It is still in his hand, growing sticky now.

Will smirks.

 

 

***

 

 

They retire to the library after dinner. Will goes first, Hannibal staying behind to clean up. He savours a quick glass of wine, not in any rush. He hasn’t been offering Will alcohol, and Will hasn’t asked. He’s sure Will would be beautifully pliant under the influence, but Hannibal wants to see him acquiesce without any influence first. 

When he enters the library, Will is standing at the shelf opposite the chaise-longue, slender fingers brushing book spines. He does not turn to acknowledge Hannibal, who stands by the fire. 

Will reaches up, on his tip-toes, to reach the top shelf. The hem of his shirt rides up, exposing a strip of pale, unmarked skin. 

It is intentional. There have been moments over the past few days where Hannibal hasn’t been sure whether Will is being intentionally tempting - a coy look, a lingering touch - or simply acting naively like a normal sixteen-year old, but this, this is intentional. 

Will plucks a book and returns to his normal position, that sliver of skin disappearing. He still does not turn to Hannibal, but Hannibal watches as he takes the book down, and from the section of the shelf and the ostentatious red binding, he knows exactly which book it is. 

Christian Theology: Morality and Mortality. A very thought-provoking read.”

Will finally turns, eyes glinting with the dancing flames of the fireplace. “I thought you’d be averse to the idea of religion.”

“On the contrary. I find the place of religion in society justified, and extremely intriguing.” Will seems to get lost in thought, not replying. “What is your stance?”

Will sighs. “I was raised in a very Christian household,” he replies. He peers down at the heavy book. He shifts the weight in his hands.

Hannibal hums. “I see. I wouldn’t have guessed. You don’t show it in your day to day life.”

Will laughs. “I’ve tamped it down, but it’s there. I could probably still recite the morning prayer off by heart.”

Will keeps a hold of the book, and sits down on the chaise-longue, his back to Hannibal. The back of his neck glimmers amber in the flames of the fireplace. Hannibal tells himself it’s an invitation.

“Go on.”

“What?” 

“Recite it,” Hannibal adds. 

“Why?” he asks, genuinely confused. He peers at Hannibal over his shoulder.

Hannibal seeks Will’s eyes. “I’m curious. Indulge me.”

Will goes back to looking forward. Hannibal stares at the long line of his neck.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day...

Hannibal starts to walk towards the chaise-longue. He walks slowly, emphasising his steps on the marble, to build anticipation. It works: Will hesitates in his recitation, only for a second, but it is there.

...in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world."

Hannibal sits down next to Will. He maintains a respectful distance. After a couple of moments, he stretches out his hand and runs his fingers up Will’s back with a feather-light touch. He starts at the bottom of his spine, finishing at the nape of his neck. The hairs at the back of Will's neck stand up.

Will pauses, his words faltering. “I didn’t tell you to stop,” Hannibal chastises, his voice carrying a dangerous edge.

I- I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart.” Hannibal wraps his hand firmly around the back of Will’s neck, his thumb brushing the pulse point under his ear. 

Will stutters, stumbles over his words. Hannibal decides, then and there, that he wants to see Will undone.

Hannibal rubs his thumb over the pulse point, delighted at the way Will’s heart rate has picked up. He isn’t even looking at Hannibal, facing straight ahead. Hannibal takes a hold of Will’s face gently, by the jaw, and turns it towards him. “Look at me.”

Will is breathing heavily, soft, shallow breaths. “The salvation of souls, the reparation for sin...

Will's knuckles are white, hands clutching onto the deep red book. Hannibal pull it from his hands and sets it on the side, out of the way. He then angles the rest of Will’s body towards him as well, pulling Will’s closest leg towards him, by the knee. Will complies without hesitation. His legs fall apart, creating an enticing V-shape. Hannibal pushes Will’s back against the back of the chaise-longue, hovering above him like a predator.

“Go on,” Hannibal reminds him.

“And.. and the reunion of-of all Christians.” 

Hannibal returns his hand to Will’s neck, this time wrapping it around the front. It is nowhere near a chokehold, only a firm pressure that makes Will’s eyes dilate. Hannibal looks down at Will’s groin: he’s hard. 

Hannibal grins like a wolf. He presses the heel of his hand against Will’s erection, hard. “I offer them- oh. Oh, please-“

Hannibal tuts. “Finish the prayer.”

“I offer them for the intentions of our bishops...” Hannibal opens his fly, drags the zipper down tantalisingly slowly. Will does not stop speaking, only because he doesn’t want Hannibal to stop touching him.

Hannibal pulls Will’s cock out, rubbing his thumb experimentally at the head. Will jolts up, arching off the chaise-longue. The most beautiful whimper falls off his lips. Hannibal does it again, extracting the desperate sound from Will.

“And of all Apostles of Sin,” Will continues, voice thick. He’s made a mistake - Apostles of Prayer, it should be - and Hannibal is delighted at how easily Will is coming apart. Hannibal starts to jack him off, hand moving up and down Will’s cock. “..and in particular- Oh God, oh God. Oh, Hannibal,” Will keens, arching into Hannibal’s touch.

Hearing his name fall from Will’s lips makes his own cock twitch in his pants. And the idea of his name replacing any prayer Will has memorised, of replacing Will's desparate invocation of God, is enough to drive Hannibal crazy.

He leans into Will, nosing at the juncture between Will’s neck and jaw. Will’s scent is intoxicating in this moment, and Hannibal drags the smell in, heady with it. 

“Hannibal, I’m going to-“ 

Hannibal traces his mouth down to the base of Will’s neck and bites down at the supple skin between neck and shoulder. Will comes all over Hannibal’s hand, hips stuttering. He throws his head back against the chaise-longue, a low moan drawn from his lips.

There is a flannel in the top drawer of the sideboard, but first, Hannibal wants to taste. He dips his head down, hand still on Will, and licks around Will’s cock.

Will swears at the sight of Hannibal bent over Will’s lap. “Jesus.”

Hannibal lifts his hand up to Will’s mouth. Will swears softly again, under his breath. Hannibal pushes his forefinger into the heat of Will’s mouth. Will sucks it clean, cheeks hollowed, eyes fluttering. 

“Good boy,” Hannibal says softly.

Will makes a strangled noise at the back of his throat at the term. Hannibal is half-hard, but he does not want Will to reciprocate, not yet. He gets the flannel from the drawer and cleans them both up, quickly and efficiently. 

Hannibal glances at the bite mark, satisfied at the neat imprint of teeth. He brushes his thumb over the mark, just to see the way Will shudders at Hannibal’s touch.

 

 

***

 

 

Will decides to remain downstairs for a while longer, flicking through the book. He avoids looking at Hannibal, and each time Hannibal casts his own gaze on Will, Will blushes, the tips of his ears turning pink. It is endearing, but Hannibal does not wish to cause Will undue embarrassment so he lets Will have the library to himself.

Hannibal takes the opportunity to make a round of Will’s room. Hannibal knows Will sneaks a cigarette in there when he can, and Hannibal has allowed it up till now, but the foul smoke is starting to permeate Will’s new clothes and it nauseates Hannibal.

Hannibal sifts through Will's bag methodically. Most items are of no import: a few books, lined paper, and a pen. There is a pair of glasses that intrigues Hannibal; Will has never worn them before. Hannibal has to dig out the cigarettes from the bottom of the bag. There are five packs. He scrunches his face up in distaste at the excessive number. 

He goes to straighten up from being bent over Will's bag, but the glint of a zipper catches his eye as he shifts. He opens the zipped section. There are two ID cards. One is a licence. It's clearly fake: the card material is tacky, and it says Will is 21 years of age. Hannibal doesn't know in which alternate universe anyone could ever believe Will was 21 years old, but the card is worn out, scratched at the corners and if he's held onto it all this time, it must work. Perhaps Will looks slightly older, in a pair of tight-fitting jeans and the dim lighting of a bar. Something grates against Hannibal's nerves at the idea of Will going to clubs and bars. 

The other card is his school ID. Hannibal reads the school name. Reads it twice. Something dark clicks inside his mind, like a marble that has finally rolled into place.

 

 

***

 

 

Hannibal throws the cigarette packets out of the window. One of the larger bins, for industrial waste, sits underneath the window in Will's room. He doesn't miss.

He replaces Will's bag neatly under the desk in the corner, and makes his way down to the library.

"Oh, hi."

The tips of his ears are turning pink again.

"Hello, Will." Hannibal goes to stand in front of Will, about six feet away. Not too close, not too far. "You didn't tell me you went to the same school as Matthew Brown. 

Will's ears are still burning red, but for a different reason now. He stands up indignantly, book left on the chaise-longue. "You went through my bag."

"Yes."

Will's eyebrows knot together in anger. “You can't just do that-"

"I can do what I want, Will. You are living under my roof."

Will flinches at the statement, the briefest sign of aversion before he reigns it back in, but Hannibal catches it. It takes him a moment to realise that it must be something Will's father says to him often.

"I apologise."

Will stares out the large windows. 

Hannibal takes a step closer to Will. "Will, look at me."

"What?" he says, glaring at Hannibal with angry eyes. 

"I'm sorry." 

The tension between Will's eyes eases, but only slightly. "Okay."

"Tell me about Matthew Brown."

Will's nostrils flare. "Tell you what? There's nothing to tell."

"Why did you omit the detail of your going to school together?" 

"It's not an important detail. Why would I need to tell you that?"

"You brought him up, on our first encounter."

"Yeah, because I recognised you from the case. I was just trying to make conversation."

Hannibal remembers that night. It didn't seem like he was just trying to make conversation. It seemed like Will would drink any detail available to him about Hannibal and Matthew's professional relationship. Hannibal remembers how Will had perked up at Hannibal's name. 

Hannibal doesn't reply.

Will takes a step, this time, until he's close enough to hold Hannibal's hand. He doesn't, though he does curl his hand around Hannibal's jacket cuff, the gentlest of touches, fingers hovering around Hannibal's wrist. "It doesn't mean anything. He was just a classmate."

Intimate touches are often used by lovers to stealthily manipulate their counterparts. Hannibal knows this. Alarm bells should be ringing in his head, but he stares down at Will's blue eyes, framed by dark curls, and his mind doesn't follow that train of thought. 

"Alright." And then the oddest thing; a burst of almost paternal affection washes over Hannibal. It is most probably a result of Hannibal's earlier insight regarding Will's father. "Come here," he says softly, arms pulling him in, tucking Will underneath his chin. 

Chapter Text

The muffled sound of something clattering to the floor wakes Hannibal. His eyes slowly open, blinking. Moonlight cutting across the vast master bedroom reminds him that it is still night.

Will.

Hannibal slips on his dressing gown and slippers and makes his way to Will's bedroom. He can hear Will tossing and turning gently from the other side, mumbling something under his breath incoherently. Hannibal eases the door open. Shards of glass wink at him in the light. Will must've knocked over the glass of water on his side-table whilst suffering from a nightmare.

Hannibal inches towards Will's bed, but stops halfway. Knowing Will, he'll probably startle if he wakes up to Hannibal looming over him in the dark of the night. 

Hannibal takes another step back for good measure. Will lays on the satin sheets on his back, left arm hanging off the edge of the bed from where he must've knocked over the glass. His brow is furrowed, eyes twitching. A sheen of sweat glimmers all over his skin.

"Will?" Hannibal softly calls out. 

Nothing. Will sniffles, left hand coming to find an itch at the side of his neck before stilling once again. Hannibal tries again, stepping a bit closer to let his voice carry further. 

He shoots up in the bed, back straight as a line, disoriented. His eyes flicker around the room rapidly, before resting on Hannibal. 

"What's going on?" he asks, voice highly agitated. 

Hannibal lifts a hand in a calming gesture. "Nothing's going on. Will, look at me."

Will ignores him, swinging his legs over the bed to stand up. 

"Will-" 

"Shit," he exclaims, drawing his foot away from the pieces of glass on the ground, but from the way he's biting his lip Hannibal can see that the damage has already been done. 

"Oh, Will," Hannibal sighs. He carefully places himself at Will's feet, brushing the glass to the side. He reaches up to switch on the lamp, Will's perturbed face softening in the golden light. 

Hannibal is tender as he grips Will's ankle in his hand, peering at the sole of his foot. The bones of his ankles remind Hannibal of bird bones; he is reminded of their consumption of the Ortolan birds, together, in the flickering candlelight. Oh, what a beautiful image.

One of the smaller shards of glass is stuck in the arch of Will's foot. Will's disorientation seems to have passed: the pain has sobered him. He peers down at Hannibal with a curious expression. 

"Is it bleeding?" Will asks.

"No."

Will flexes his foot slightly in Hannibal's hold. "I can feel it," he whispers. Hannibal can't parse exactly whether the edge in Will's voice is that of fear or wonder. 

Hannibal pinches the shard between thumb and forefinger. He sees something shift in Will's expression in his peripheral vision; he looks up to see Will smiling at him.

Hannibal raises an eyebrow deftly, prompting. 

"It's funny. You kneeling at my feet. Like in the night, everything's switched."

Sometimes Hannibal wishes Will wasn't so observant.

"I'm not kneeling at your feet. I'm taking this glass-" Hannibal punctuates his point by plucking the shard of glass out without warning, "-out. There is a difference."

Will squints at Hannibal, taking a very long moment to shape his reply. "No. No, you're kneeling at my feet." 

There is no snark or smugness in his statement. Hannibal doesn't reply. He's still holding Will's delicate foot in his hand. 

"It's not nice. When people see you," he adds. His voice is vindictive now.

"Is that what your nightmare was about?"

Will blinks. "Yes."

Hannibal lets go of Will's foot and stands up smoothly, brushing off any dust from his dressing gown. "We should both get some sleep. It is still rather early in the morning." 

Hannibal sees it coming, but is impressed that Will holds out up until Hannibal gets to the bedroom door.

"Can you stay?"

Hannibal peers at Will from over his shoulder. "Well, I do live here."

Will's eyes seem to blaze that extra bit in the dim light of the room. "You know what I mean."

"I'm not sure I do."

"Here. In this bed," he says flatly.

Hannibal sizes up Will's request. Finally, he closes the bedroom door fully, letting Will know of his answer.

"Are you scared?" 

"No. I just don't want to be alone."

That's why you're here isn't it, Hannibal thinks. And all things progress, intensify, until they self-combust.

Hannibal doesn't reply. He pads over to the empty side of the bed, Will reaching over to switch off the bedside lamp. Hannibal removes his dressing gown, laying it neatly over the back of the armchair in the room, and slips into bed. 

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Hannibal wakes first, and when he does, something very odd twists in his chest. It’s too intimate. Will is strictly on his side of the bed, they’re not even touching, and yet it’s much too intimate.

He wonders what overcame him last night, for him to acquiesce to Will. Why, out of all the several outcomes, did he choose to stay with Will? He didn’t gain anything from it.

Hannibal looks over to Will, curls framing his angelic face, eyelashes brushing the tops of his cheekbones. His chest heaves slowly, in and out, as he breathes. He’s completely at peace.

He didn’t gain anything from staying, Hannibal tells himself.

He carefully extracts himself from the bed, making sure not to wake Will. Will stirs for a moment, before snuggling further into the duvet, sighing softly. 

Hannibal slips on his dressing gown and decides to cook breakfast. Something sweet, he thinks, as he takes one last glance at Will’s face. Yes, honey-glazed pancakes. That sounds good.

He is quiet as a cat as he leaves the room, leaving the door ajar. He stops at the master bedroom to slip into pajama bottoms and a red sweater. His tablet catches his eye - it is on silent but the screen flashes with a notification. 

Tattlecrime - Breaking News! it says on the lockscreen. Hannibal swipes through to the app lazily.

The article loads. For a moment, everything goes very still.

Matthew Brown, vengeful student who burned classmates alive, found dead.