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Chasing Thoroughbreds

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The thing about shock, as Will has been given to understand it (though, truthfully, he's not sure when the last time was that he was in real shock), is that eventually the person must come out of it. At least, that's the idea.

When the water rushed up to meet them, Will was sure this was the end. He was ready for it, held tight in the embrace of the man he's still not sure he can claim to love, but cannot live without either. It's something deeper and more sinister than that, like two embryos in the womb. Either they both live, or one must devour the other to survive when the space becomes too small to accommodate both of them. Killers since birth.

The water closes around them, concussive force driving air from his lungs and strength from his arms. It's cold and harsh, salt burning the innards of his mouth like he's washing down blood with lime and soda. A perfect cocktail, combined with exhaustion and Hannibal's sweet red wine.

He laughs every time he thinks back to that moment and realizes, when the water struck Hannibal's back first, and Will's body submerged second, that Hannibal still tried to protect his head. Will's nose tucked tight to the ever-slowing pulse, filling with ocean spray when he'd tried to breathe in Hannibal's scent; sweat, blood, candle wax.

The tide slammed them against the cliffs, and that's where Will took the biggest hit. The shoulder Dolarhyde stabbed was given the brunt of the blow, bones and muscle crushed and shredded by the jagged claws of the cliffside. Still, Hannibal's fingers had cushioned the side of his face, saving his speared cheek from further assault.

They'd been swept out, driven to and fro, spinning as pond algae does when greeted with the wet flapping of duck's wings or the uncoordinated splashing hand of a small child, trying to see the fish and tadpoles below.

For one terrifying second, Will's body was flung from Hannibal's side. When he'd cried out, his mouth and his lungs had filled with water and it felt as though everything in Poseidon's realm was there to drag him under, for they are both men of light and sound, and will only find rest where neither can penetrate.

But this cannot be. They die together, or they do not die at all.

 

 

If it weren't for Chiyoh, both of them would be dead.

Will comes to, coughing onto salt-crusted wood, battered to within an inch of his life, his cheek and the undersides of his gums stinging where Dolarhyde's knife cut deep and the ocean rushed in to fill it. The creature in Will's spine aches to be filled and the water had tried, tried so hard, to do it for him. But the ocean is not a lover, could not sate his hungers that demand flesh and heat.

The boat is small and rocks with the waves with as little control as a paper ship in the wake of a large koi. Water sloshes over the edges and crawls up to Will's ankles, and he hears the voice of the depths calling for him;

Come to me, and I will bring you rest.

He opens his eyes, blurring and bleary and sodden with ocean water, and sees Chiyoh hauling Hannibal out of the ocean as well. He's not conscious. There's a deep gash on his forehead and Will wants to laugh at the fact that it mirrors his own, but he can't spare the kinetics. Can't spare the life. His fingers twitch dully like he's already dead and his brain hasn't caught up yet. His lungs feel heavy and weighted and he almost passes out every time he tries to breathe.

His right shoulder and his right hip scream in pain; a chorus that harmonizes the rush of the ocean and the gentle creak-creak-groan of the rocking boat. It would be so easy to shut his eyes, to drift away.

He pushes himself upright with his good arm, and Chiyoh looks at him. She stands, sure-footed as a mountain goat on the uneven, keeling boat, and Will drags himself over one-armed to Hannibal's side, one leg useless and the other kicking at the claws of the water as it churns around his ankles. He rests his ear against Hannibal's heartbeat, finds it steady, if weak. The frantic flutter-beat of a bird dashing itself to death against the innards of a house window.

Will could set him free.

He has a hand around Hannibal's throat before he realizes what he's doing. Chiyoh's arms wrap around his neck, tighten, jerk like a jockey tugging on the bit of a wild stallion, and he snarls at her.

"No," he says. His tongue is slit across the top from Dolarhyde's knife and the roof of his mouth is flayed. He likely won't be able to use the scent palette at the roof of his mouth ever again – it is too tender, preserved like salted meat for sailors in the Arctic. His thumb fits perfectly within the tender flesh on the side of Hannibal's larynx. He tries to squeeze as the water rushes in over his knees.

I will bring you rest.

"He can't survive," Will says, over the pressure on his throat and the dumb uselessness of his tongue. His other hand lands heavy on Hannibal's chest, beats once. He's not sure how he's moving his hand at all, given how utterly decimated his shoulder is. Call it adrenaline. Call it love. The kind that lets women lift cars from their infant sons.

He's too beautiful, like this. Pale and broken and still bleeding from the gunshot wound in his stomach. Chiyoh could heal him – she could heal them both. But she shouldn't. Neither of them should be alive.

Chiyoh grunts, hauls him back, and flings him onto his injured side on the boat as Hannibal's lungs seize and water spills from his mouth. Will feels the warmer water from his body touch the side of his face. He gasps, bares his teeth, and rolls onto his back as Hannibal's eyelids flutter, but do not open.

"You could have killed him," Chiyoh says sharply, her dark eyes accusing as she brushes Hannibal's soaked hair from his forehead, eyes the gash, makes sure he's still breathing, and his heartbeat is still steady. The sight of her fingers tucked against his pulse fills Will with outrage. Will whimpers, sucks in a salt-laden breath, coughs when the cold air meets the water in his lungs. His eyes burn, and they want to close, but he forces himself to look at the swaying night sky. The stars revolve and close in on him as though they are laser points in a countdown, God's judgement just waiting for them to align.

"We have to die," Will moans, and isn't sure Chiyoh hears him. She stands, and he hisses and his eyes close when she rolls him onto his side and hauls his arms behind his back. The click of cuffs is registered absently, familiar and foreign amidst the call of the sea and the shine of the stars. Will can only tell the difference between the water from the ocean and his sobbing, wretched tears, because his tears burn his cheeks when he sheds them.

 

 

Will loses consciousness when Chiyoh drags them towards the front of the boat, away from the lapping, desperate tongue of the ocean calling them home. She covers them with shock blankets and wraps them in garbage bags to preserve heat. In the wet, musty cocoon, Will thinks himself a butterfly caged. People aren't supposed to touch their wings. The oils in a human's fingers will break them apart, and they'll take on water, and die.

What a tragedy.

He doesn't stay awake for long, but when he does, his claws curl and he tries to seek Hannibal's warmth. Tries to put his nose to Hannibal's neck and part his jaws to rip out his throat. Tries to claw his heart from behind his ribs and see if it still beats so ardently, in sync with Will's own. His breathing is erratic, his lungs do not clear. His head is at once on fire and completely still.

Chiyoh hauls him away every time. Even though Will cannot use his hands, bound as they are, he tries. He'll dislocate his whole damn body if it means Hannibal never sees another sunrise.

He wakes, once, with a sharp cry, finding Chiyoh's hands on his shoulder, her knee against his chest. His wrists are crushed beneath his body weight and he bares his teeth at her, meets her dark eyes and salt-flushed face. She tilts her head to one side, and one hand flattens on the back of his shoulder, the other placed surely at the front of the joint. Will can feel where it's sitting out of place.

He swallows, bites his lip, and nods at her.

She nods back, and puts all her weight on her knee and her hand, shoving the joint back into place. He snarls, lifts his head to try and bite her, and she grabs his neck and keeps him pinned down as the pain sharpens, grows claws, digs deep into his ribs and flares down to join the rest of the aches in his body.

"Don't test me," she says. It sounds like an order. Will growls at her, half-hearted and shredded down to his spine.

"You're not my Alpha," he replies.

She smiles. It's a small twitch, one corner of her mouth rising up.

"Is he still alive?" Will asks. From this angle, and how she's holding his jaw, he can't see Hannibal.

She nods, presses her lips together, and leans down to kiss his forehead. "I should kill you," she says.

"You won't," Will replies. He closes his eyes, leans into her warmth and sighs when she lets him nuzzle her jaw. She's warm and strong, alive, and his fingers curl and ache with cold. "He would never forgive you if he didn't get to kill me himself."

Her smile is wider when she pulls back, takes the weight off his chest and it's no easier to breathe than it was when she was on top of him. She pets over his cheek and her thumb brushes the raw knife wound between his cheekbone and jaw. He hisses, bares his teeth at her again, and she sighs.

"You're right," she replies, her eyes going to somewhere over Will's shoulder.

She stands, and Will tries to push himself upright, but he can't with his hands still bound and his shoulder less than invested in moving. He rolls his head, sees the edges of the boat, coils of rope and barrels that have the distinct smell of dried fish and brine. The stars have stopped revolving.

He huffs a laugh. They might just survive this.

She returns with a bottle of dark amber liquid and lifts his head, offering it to him. He blanches at the smell. "Shouldn't drink alcohol," he rasps. "Thins the blood."

"It's all we have," she replies coolly, and tips the bottle and presses it to his teeth so he has no choice but to drink. He gets two large swallows before his lungs seize again, rejecting the cold air, and he coughs, and it spills down his throat, stings his shoulder and his chest. He whines.

"He lost a lot of blood," Chiyoh says, capping the bottle and setting it down. The rocking of the boat is less violent now – calmer as the ocean embraces them absent the tide. It feels like a lullaby, a mother cooing her children to sleep.

I will bring you rest.

"Will he make it?"

"I don't know."

"He has to make it," Will growls, teeth clenched and aching. His tongue is burning from the alcohol and he thinks it smart of Chiyoh to sanitize it before he gets his jaws around Hannibal's neck. Will is a diseased animal and could infect her Alpha ward with his dirtiness.

Chiyoh raises an eyebrow, settles on her haunches by Will's hip. Will can't move his right leg when he tries, and he wonders how bad the damage is. Every time he shifts his weight, his hip feels gritty like he's wrestling in sand. But it's on the inside. Pulverized bone.

"You tried to kill him," she murmurs.

Will blinks, swallows, wets his lips. He can't identify the alcohol she gave him. Probably something fancy because even on a boat in the middle of God knows where, Hannibal and his kin do nothing in half-measures.

"What's his blood type?"

"AB positive," she replies.

Universal recipient. Of course it is. Will smiles. "What a leech," he mutters, and rolls his head to one side to look at her. "Take mine."

She raises an eyebrow.

"You haven't given him yours," Will adds. She blinks, and nods. "Can't spare it?"

"Hepatitis C," she replies. "A gift from my mother."

Will presses his lips together, and nods. "Give him mine," he says again. She takes a deep breath through her nose, flaring and unsure, fingers curled against her knees. "All we need is tubing and needles. My body will do the rest."

"You'd give him a Voice?" she asks, cocking her head to one side. "Give him that much control over you?"

Will's eyes are getting heavy. He closes them, rolls enough onto his better side – for neither side is good – to get the pressure off his hands. She helps him onto his stomach and he turns his head, breathes in deeply from the salt-drenched wood and fights the urge to throw up the alcohol. His neck feels exposed and weak, like he can't hold his head up anymore, and he rests his cheek against the deck and breathes out.

 

 

When he wakes again, it's daytime. The sunlight is harsh and hot on his eyes, burning orange and blue spots into his irises. There's a weight on his nape, keeping him down – Chiyoh's thigh – and a warm blanket that is wet but heavy on his shoulders and draped down to his thighs. His arm is bare, uncuffed, held out to the side of him.

His fingers curl and she gives a warning tut. "Don't move."

He's weak, lax, unable to fight for the hold on his neck and unable to open his eyes at the risk of being blinded. His heart beats steady, slow as the rhythm of a country love song, the ocean rocks him and licks at his feet and begs him to come home and rest.

"He's getting more color," she says, and Will realizes that the tug on his arm, the slow-draw of life in his veins, is giving his blood to Hannibal. He must have been asleep for a long time, so she could get tools and tubing and whatever else they needed. He wants to ask how long it's been since they fell. He wants to care.

"Has he woken up yet?" he asks her.

He can't see her shake her head, but her silence says it all for him.

 

 

They reach land. Will doesn't know how long it's been. The stars keep swaying and corralling around him, edging the horizon like they want to fall with him, sink deep into the crystalline navy darkness, flourish and grow like lanternfish in the depths, sirens to lull others down and under. He opens his eyes and snaps at hands as they wrap around the collar of his shirt, haul him like any other piece of cargo onto a cart with a heavy thump. His hip jerks sharply, sensation returning with prickle-pins of pain and heat as he's finally free of the bristly salt air and the unrelenting ocean breeze.

The inside of the cart smells like pigs and hay and he wonders, half-mad and absently like thinking of the time of sunrise, if Margot Verger found them and is hauling them to the final slaughter.

The hands are Alpha, and the scent stings at his nose and he snarls wildly at dark, blurred shapes made of nightmare and intent. Another body flops down beside him – Hannibal, it's Hannibal, God, Will could know him just by the outline of his shoulders even though he's wrapped in a blanket and a hood. He whimpers, turns onto his side and his shoulder jabs at him sharply, snaps teeth like a cornered dog and loudly protests the movement.

He slides closer and buries his face in the harsh burlap and smooth plastic of the garbage bag wrapped around Hannibal's torso.

Chiyoh climbs in after them. The cart closes, covered on top and at the back now, and he hears a man shouting in a language he doesn't know. A flick of reins, a bluster of energy from the animal pulling the cart – horse, he thinks, but could be a cow – and the cart starts to rumble and trundle along, pulling them farther from the sea.

Chiyoh's eyes are sharp in the darkness, a cat with hunter vision waiting to spring. Will doesn't know what to do.

He closes his eyes, bares his teeth when they feel wet and raw, his throat aching and his tongue speared and salted. His chest trembles, ribs cracked and polyester-dry, and when he finally releases his breath, it comes out as a ragged sob.

Their ending was denied them. It would have been perfect, to be laid to rest at the bottom of the sea, the two of them entwined and heavy with water and relief. Chiyoh denied him that, denied them both their rightful end, and for that he hates her. He hates her like he has hated no other except the Alpha lying so prone and vulnerable and still against his forehead, he might as well be dead.

He sobs, openly and weakly, wails swallowed back because he doesn't want to wake Hannibal up. He deserves his rest. Maybe his heart will give out, seeking Will's under the water and plummeted to the Earth like Icarus stars. Maybe his stomach will empty and knot itself into a coil of hangman's rope, his body will seek food and nourishment and find neither, for Will is in no mood to provide it. Maybe his head is too badly hurt, he'll never arise again.

The Ripper would finally be dead.

Will thinks the sound of his heart breaking is physical, and loud, but lost amidst the creaks of the cart and the hoof beats of the animal pulling it. They hit a pothole and Will's hip and shoulder stab him so harshly with pain that he passes out once more.

 

 

He wakes another age later, while Chiyoh binds his hands in front of him and hauls him out of the cart, dead-deer style over her shoulders. Another group carry Hannibal and Will snarls at them, daring them to touch him.

"Where are we?" he murmurs. But he knows. He knows this trodden grass, the flash of the open, rusted gate. The coat of arms and the subtle feeling of death and loss that linger over the place.

He wonders how long it's been, how starved and weak he is, that Chiyoh can carry him alone, without complaint.

"Home," she replies with a grunt, and carries him into the Lecter mansion.

 

 

He's in a cell. It's clean, and there is a mattress placed in the corner, the floor mopped and swept of rats and decay. It looks almost homely, and Will is reminded of the prison cell he spent far too long in, half-crazed and yet so clear. His clothes are gone, and now he's dressed in old hand-me-down clothes, too long for him at the ankles and wrists. They're warm, though, and smell of no Alpha foreign or domestic.

His hip has been bound, wrapped tight around his lower stomach and the binding going down to his knee. It's aching tenderly, and he frowns down at it. His shoulder is bound, as well, and there are stitches in his cheek to keep the wound closed.

He remembers a man, shadowed and foreign, and remembers fighting him, snapping his jaws and snarling when Chiyoh's silhouette slammed into view.

"Who is this?" he'd demanded.

"A doctor," she'd replied, "and he asks far less questions than you." She'd said something else, then, a language Will didn't know, and the doctor had grabbed the nape of Will's neck so tightly it still hurts. He touches his fingers there and feels claw marks, and a savage, betrayed anger rears up in him like an offended snake.

He clears his throat, rolls over on the mattress and sees that the jail cell is closed, a heavy chain and padlock on the door. He smiles.

He pushes himself upright, the kind of haze sitting in the back of his head telling him that he's on painkillers, good ones. They don't remove the aches entirely, but they'll keep him conscious if he lets them. He cups his hands under his thigh, moves it so his bare feet touch the floor, and clambers upright. He shuffles to the cell door and curls his fingers around the cold metal.

His dragonfly is still there. The stained glass of his wings catches the candlelight, his eyes exposed. Rats have eaten his eyelids, and the mushrooms growing out of his skin have formed over most of his body so he's barely recognizable as a man.

He growls, his stomach rumbling, and licks his lips.

"Are you at rest?" he whispers to the man. No ambience comes, no golden pendulum light. Will doesn't need it. He knows exactly what happened here.

The door opens at the top of the stone steps, and he turns his gaze up, sees Chiyoh dressed all in black like a B movie assassin. His smile widens, and he shows his teeth to her when she meets his eyes. She's carrying a large knot of bread and meat wrapped in terrycloth. Will can smell it from here. His stomach aches sharply, denied food for far too long.

She comes to a stop outside of his cell and holds the food out. He reaches through with his good arm, takes it, and settles himself on the cold floor with a hiss. She crouches down so they're at eye level and Will takes a huge bite of the bread, swallowing it whole like a python. He ignores the crush of pills when he bites down, inserted like a dog's medicine in a spoonful of peanut butter. He takes another bite, chewing in silence, and wonders if they are painkillers, or a sedative.

She tilts her head to one side. Will swallows again, darts his eyes to her, tries to hold them. Can't. He unwraps the meat and rolls one piece of salted pork into a tight burrito, stuffs it into the last of the bread and eats it whole.

"You kept me unconscious," Will murmurs. She nods. "Probably safe."

"The fall did a lot of that," she replies.

Will swallows again. "It would have taken weeks to get here," he says. She nods again. "How?"

"Hannibal has a lot of assets," she replies. "And I have a lot of friends."

He snorts, shakes his head once, stops when it tugs his tender neck and shoulder. "He'll have starved to death."

"He's not dead," she murmurs, like she knows Will wants to hear it. Needs to hear it. He clears his throat and looks down at his hands, eats the last of the meat in a bite too large to talk around. He throws the cloth back at her and she picks it up.

"You should kill me," Will says quietly when his mouth is empty. His teeth ache for more meat. His fingers curl when she doesn't immediately deny his words.

He looks at her, finds her demeanor stoic, considering. She smiles, close-lipped and tender. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Yes. "It's only fair," Will says. "But you're not a killer, are you, Chiyoh? Not like your master."

Her eyes flash, darken, and she stands, folding the cloth into a neat square. "Get some sleep," she replies, and leaves. The door closes, robbing Will of any light except the candles. Just him and his dragonfly. Will tilts his head up, rests his cheek against the bars, and sighs.

 

 

He thinks of a lot of things. Molly, and Wally. They're safe now, far from him, far from the life he tried to make with them. He was never hers. How could he be? An Omega mating with a woman is less common than with an Alpha, and he knows she let him in and let him close because he appeared, on the surface, as everything her boy's father had not been. But that is because he'd tried, oh Lord had he tried, to forget.

He'd tried to forget the taste of blood in his mouth, the heat of it behind his teeth. He'd tried to forget classical music – pretended he liked country rock and stadium jams and only listened to it in the quiet of his shed when no one would bother him. He'd pretended to crave the touch and taste of a woman and buried down the need for strong hands, a low voice, teeth that could easily rip him to shreds if the Alpha so chose. He'd tried to love that surrogate son and tried to forget wide, too-innocent blue eyes, straight dark hair, a smile that promised redemption and a laugh that said 'Well, I'll help you do it, if you need to'. Abigail. Will's fingers curl like they're around her throat and he aches, deep in his chest, behind the scar on his stomach, the smile that Hannibal left him as surely as Abigail's had burned into the backs of his eyelids.

He sleeps, and heals, and Chiyoh feeds him like a prisoner. She tells him that Hannibal isn't dead. She doesn't tell him anything else.

"Are you going to let him kill me?" he asks her.

"Maybe," she replies. "Are you going to try and kill him?"

"Maybe," Will answers. It took him so long to get up the energy, the decision, the first time. And then longer, the second. Most killers have a cooling off period that shortens, grows thorns and wraps around their hearts tighter, tighter, until something breaks and gives. Will's is the opposite – every time is harder than the first. Every attempt is weaker, every decision comes with spines and snarls like a wild animal at him.

She nods. "If you do, I'll kill you," she replies.

Will smiles. "So he hasn't woken up yet."

She doesn't say anything to that. The food has gotten better, at least, and stop making him sleepy when he eats the pills. Will wonders if there are other people in the house – servants and housekeepers coming back to the fabled deadlands after the return of their beloved monarch. He wonders if anyone even remembers Hannibal as a boy, what he might have been like. If he'd been like Wally, before…

Before.

 

 

Will jerks awake, a spider crawling down his spine feeling jarring him to consciousness. The creature in his chest uncurls, purrs, arches up like a cat with nails at its hindquarters. He gasps, breathes in the scent of his sweat and his pain in the blankets, and turns onto his back.

His head keeps going, lolling like a compass magnetized North.

His eyes meet familiar ones. Dark, shaded with red around the iris. They don't flicker with anything when he meets them. Will isn't sure they should – his own brain seems two miles behind him. It's Hannibal – Hannibal is here. He's alive and standing and looking at Will like he was never injured. There's a dark yellowing bruise around his temple and forehead, butterfly bandages covering the gash from the rocks, but he stands tall and imposing as ever like a sentry to the gates between Purgatory and Hell.

He tilts his head to one side and Will sits up. His shoulder doesn't hurt as much anymore, but his heart is racing, sending blood to fresh wounds. His lips part and he tries to drag in Hannibal's scent through the roof of his mouth, but it stings sharply and he can't get himself to breathe quite right.

"Hannibal," he whispers.

Hannibal's brow furrows, and his neck and head straighten. He turns and looks at the dragonfly, then back to Will. He says something, soft-spoken, and Will doesn't know what the language is, what he's saying. He frowns.

"I don't understand," he says.

Hannibal blinks at him. "You're American," he murmurs.

Will frowns, his brain overtaking those two miles and leaping ahead. "You don't know who I am?"

Hannibal presses his lips together, folds his hands behind his back, and shakes his head.

"You are not the man I left in this cell," he says. His accent seems thicker, curls around Will's nape like a physical touch. Will bites his lower lip, sucks in a breath that feels salted and cured like old pork. "Why are you here?"

Will swallows. "I don't know," he replies. Hannibal doesn't answer, and whether he can tell Will is lying or not, Will can't guess.

He nods – once, sharply. "Who put you in here?" he says.

"Chiyoh."

He nods again. "Perhaps she will be more forthcoming with information on the matter, then."

He turns and walks away. Will wants to chase him, to throw himself against the bars and scream for Hannibal as he did in the catacombs. But he doesn't. He can't let himself believe that Hannibal…forgot him. Completely forgot him. How is that possible?

He thinks about the terrible wound dealt to his head, the minutes between cliffside and the boat deck when his lungs were full of water and his breathing was shallow. Brain robbed of oxygen. Brain damage. Somehow, it seems like a fate worse than death.

Will closes his eyes. He's never been particularly religious, and even as he thinks the words he wants to laugh at himself, but he asks, to any deity or force that might be listening, that this is just another of Hannibal's terrible mind games. Will is prepared to break, to fracture, to evolve into whatever next step his metamorphosis will take, as long as Hannibal lives long enough to see it happen.

 

 

Chiyoh comes for him that evening.

"He doesn't remember me," Will says.

She sighs through her nose, and shakes her head. "I don't understand it," she says. "He knows me, he knows that time has passed since Mischa's death, but a lot of his memory since leaving this place is…missing."

Will huffs a laugh. "He could be playing us."

She tilts her head to one side, and kneels forward, reaching through the bars to touch Will's arm. Will thinks about snapping her arm and biting down so hard that he takes some fingers with him. He meets her eyes instead.

"Perhaps," she begins, soft and tender, "this is a fresh start. A chance to be as you can be, instead of what you are."

Will scoffs, rolls his eyes, and jerks his arm from her touch. "I am what he made me," he replies darkly. "Losing his memory doesn't absolve him of that."

"But, if you can forgive -."

"Forgive?" Will repeats, high-pitched and harsh. A laugh escapes him, then, though it sounds like a snarl. He shakes his head more vehemently, enough that his shoulder twinges and aches and the stitches in his cheek tug awkwardly around his open, snarling mouth. "It's not about forgiveness. I don't…I don't know what I am if he isn't who he is."

"You can learn," she murmurs.

Will shakes his head. His fingers curl around the bars of the cell and he turns towards her, pleased when she stands, putting distance between herself and his teeth without making it look like that's her intention. Her eyes flash and her lips tighten, whiten. "You better keep me locked in here," he growls at her. "If he doesn't know me, he won't see me coming. Won't know to defend himself."

She glares at him, sharp and cruel. "You'll die in here," she says. "He doesn't care about you. He doesn't care what happens to you."

"Good," Will bites back, ignores the creature in his chest that howls with pained rapture, calling for its mate. Can Hannibal hear it roaring for him?

She regards him for another long moment. "There is a saying, in Lithuanian," she says, and Will blinks at her, frowning; "'Drumstame vandeny bepigu žuvauti'. It translates to 'It is good to fish in steamy waters'." Will's frown deepens, and she smiles. "Are you not a fisherman, Will?"

"I don't understand," he whispers in reply.

"This situation is uniquely to your advantage," she says, kneeling down again, too far for him to reach. "Do not let your arrogance or your wounded pride prevent you from seeing it so."

"It's not just my pride that was wounded," Will replies with another snarl.

Her smiles widens, and her eyes drop down to his stomach, hidden by the over-large shirt. He hasn't been given fresh clothes, and his hair is greasy and dark, his body stale with the stink of dirt and sweat. His beard is long enough to pull on and he wants to scratch it but keeps catching his stitches.

"There is another saying," she continues; "'Kaip senieji giedojo, taip jaunieji dainuoja'. It means 'Just as one calls to the forest, so it echoes back'."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning," she says with a roll of her eyes, "if you treat the world with hostility and anger, that is what you shall receive. So, too, you will receive it if you are not polite and kind to Hannibal. He may be wounded in memory, but that is all that is wounded, Will. Do not forget that your life, as it always has been, is in his hands."

Will swallows tightly, and she stands, and leaves without another word.

 

 

Will wakes when he feels that presence again. He fell asleep with his cheek against the bars, his eyes on his dragonfly man. When he opens his eyes, he knows that Hannibal is back – he feels the change in the air like the movements of a great beast stirred from slumber. He bites his lip and raises his eyes to see Hannibal staring at the dragonfly.

Hannibal turns to him, like he feels Will's consciousness at the same time. Will meets his eyes and sees that same cool, calm nothingness. It's something he's seen a lot of before, but as he looks into Hannibal's dark eyes – measures the flecks of brown and green and red – a thought occurs to him.

Hannibal doesn't know to hide from Will. He doesn't know what he is, what he can do. Will can remake himself into whatever he wants, and will know from Hannibal's reaction if the Alpha is playing another mind game with him.

He smiles, makes it hopeful and soft, and lets out a tiny whimper, like he's pleased to see Hannibal there. That, at least, is genuine, and he sees Hannibal's fingers curl at his sides in reaction to it.

Hannibal takes a minute step closer, and breathes out. "What is your name?" he asks, too-proper and collected as most people are when testing out a second language, though Will suspects English is Hannibal's third, or fourth.

"Will," he breathes, like he'd been waiting a lifetime to speak to Hannibal. He can make himself plaintive, trusting, sweet like his breed. He waits for something to flicker, sees not a change. No recognition or softening around the eyes at the sound of his name.

"Will," Hannibal repeats. He looks back at the dragonfly man, then to Will again. "Why are you in that cell?"

Will licks his lips, ducks his gaze, looks up at Hannibal under his lashes. "I tried to kill you," he says.

Hannibal does react to that, at least. His cheeks flush and he tilts his head to one side and Will swallows, presses his lips together, and turns his face away. It exposes a sliver of his throat between his longer hair and the collar of his shirt.

"Why?" Hannibal asks.

Will shrugs his good shoulder. "You tried to kill me," he replies. "Seemed only fair."

Hannibal huffs, a genuine-enough sound of amusement, and Will looks at him, makes his eyes widen and his mouth go slack when Hannibal crouches down, like he's scenting Hannibal desperately. His mouth still hurts when he tries.

"How long have we known each other?" Hannibal asks.

Will swallows. "Years," he replies. He meets Hannibal's eyes again. "Did Chiyoh tell you anything?"

"She said I had been badly injured, and hit my head, and she found you with me and brought us both home," Hannibal says. Will nods, cataloging that story with the one he will construct himself. It wouldn't do good to challenge Chiyoh's trustworthiness at this point in time, not while Will is still a prisoner and entirely at Hannibal's whims.

Hannibal's eyes drop to Will's hands as he curls one around the bars of the cell, and then Will's neck, before alighting on Will's face again. "What are you, to me?" he asks.

Will bites his lower lip. "At one time you called us friends," he replies, for that much is true.

Hannibal nods, his expression stoic like he's doing his own cataloging. "And now?"

"I'm not sure what to call us," Will says, because that much is true as well.

Hannibal frowns, leans in. Will could reach out and grab him by the shirt, smash his skull against the bars and let himself fall at Chiyoh's hands. But that wouldn't be right. They die together, or not at all. "You're Omega," Hannibal says, like he's surprised. Will nods and goes still when Hannibal takes a big breath in, his lips parted so the scent palette on the roof of his mouth takes in Will's scent more deeply, like an Alpha would smell an Omega. "Are we…?" He touches his own neck.

Will shakes his head. "No," he replies, cheeks flushed and warm for a reason he doesn't want to think about. "We're not mated."

Hannibal breathes out, and nods, once. His eyes are softer, now. Will's performance has tendered his heart already, and Will wonders how much easier this whole ordeal may have been had he tried it in the first place.

Probably not well. Hannibal as he knew him isn't the kind of Alpha to take interest in any pretty Omega that bats their eyelashes and whines.

Hannibal looks up to the padlock and chain, and he sighs. "I should let you out," he says.

Will bites his lower lip. His fingers curl tight enough to whiten his knuckles. "I wouldn't," he replies. Hannibal looks at him in question. "You lost your memory. You can't trust anyone."

Hannibal frowns. "You said you tried to kill me," he says, and Will nods. "Why?"

Will smiles, tight and fanged. "Because I could." When no one else could.

Hannibal gives a thoughtful, considering hum, his eyes dark on Will's face. "Do you still want to?"

"I don't know," Will replies, as honestly as he's able. "But I'm not the only one who wants to hurt you. You don't know what you did, Doctor Lecter." Hannibal blinks at the title, frowning, but doesn't comment. "There are people who want you dead – a lot less discriminately than I want you dead."

"How so?"

"They won't care about the artistry," Will murmurs.

Hannibal regards him for a moment, before he smiles, wide enough to show his teeth. "For someone who wants to kill me, you seem very concerned that I stay alive."

"It should be me," Will mutters. He turns away, too exhausted to keep up the charade. He has Hannibal's attention now, though – feels it like saccharine honey and agave on his tongue. "You'd know that if you could remember."

Hannibal hums again, and tilts his head to one side like he's trying to catch Will's gaze. Will doesn't give him the satisfaction, and sets his eyes on Hannibal's chin instead. "If you were going to kill me," he begins, and Will sucks in a breath, "how would you do it?"

Will's mouth twitches. His cheek aches sharply. "With my hands."

Hannibal's smile doesn't change. He stands and heaves a sigh, wincing as the motion undoubtedly makes his gunshot wound protest. Will knows how painful it is to get shot, and to get injured in the abdomen. It won't heal easily, and there will be a large knot of scar tissue when all's said and done.

It feels right, like victory, to know that Hannibal will not walk away from this without scars. He's fiercely, violently proud of that fact even though he wasn't the one who dealt the blow.

Hannibal regards the dragonfly man. "I should have that taken down," he says.

"Don't," Will says quickly, biting his lower lip when Hannibal's eyes rest on top of his head. Will's upper lip curls, and he swallows, trying to fight back the possessive snarl at the idea of the Alpha taking away his kill. "He's mine."

Hannibal makes a sound – soft, muted, terribly amused. Will doesn't meet his eyes.

"As you wish," he says, and leaves the cellar. As he goes, he blows the candles out, robbing Will of the sight of his dragonfly once the door closes. Will huffs, rolling his eyes, but it seems much more like the Hannibal he used to know, so he's heartened by it.

The creature in his chest is purring, and Will lets the sound rumble and escape his abused throat. In the darkness, the only sound is the drip-drop of rainwater outside the cellar, the scurry of rats who aren't afraid of the living monster in the blackness. It's soothing, calming. Quiet. Will thinks it's much like how the ocean must feel, right down to the cold.

I will bring you rest.

 

 

When Chiyoh comes down for him, an unknown amount of time later – it might be hours, days, a year, Will can't be sure when the hunger in his stomach is constant and the need for sleep takes him for hours at a time – she is not alone. The Alpha with her smells of bleach and cats and Will snarls when his cell door opens. He scrambles back against the wall, hackles raised and claws ready. Chiyoh has a torch held high and she places it in the sconce within the cell, giving enough light to see by.

The Alpha's eyes are dark, hooded. He looks too much like a stereotype for Will to call him anything but a plague doctor. He barks out a sharp command in Lithuanian and Will doesn't understand the language, but he feels the Alpha Voice settle over his back, forcing him to bow his head with a soft whimper. The man comes forward and digs his nails into Will's nape and Will freezes, closing his eyes.

"Let me sleep," he begs quietly, tries to lift his head to see Chiyoh but he can't, he can't. The man starts to push at his clothes with his free hand and gives another sharp order. Chiyoh approaches, settling by Will's feet on the mattress. "Please. Just let me sleep through it."

She smiles. "Your body knows the touch of its Alpha," she says, sounding pleased. "It rejects all others."

"Will you give me something to make me sleep?" Will asks.

She nods, and takes the man's bag, opens it and pulls out a piece of cloth and a green bottle stoppered with cork. She tugs the bottle open and pours some of the liquid onto the cloth. Will wants to laugh when he realizes what it is.

"Breathe deeply," she says, and places it over his nose and mouth. He clutches at her wrist and obeys, desperately seeking the oblivion that the sweet-smelling chloroform will bring him. One inhale, his face starts to go numb, his teeth itch, which is good because the man has started to pull at the stitches, complaining when he tugs on Will's beard. Another inhale, Will feels his heartbeat slow, his shoulders relax. The man lets go of his nape and Will whimpers.

She takes the cloth away before he can breathe it in again. She smiles at him, something sad and understanding, and Will closes his eyes and doesn't fight it.

 

 

Will wakes to low, hushed voices. Lithuanian again. He doesn't understand it. His head spins when he opens his eyes and he whines for the stars, wants to see them dance and plummet. The heat of them would warm him like nothing else.

The cell door opens with a metallic clang, and he turns his head, shivering when he sees Hannibal approaching him. The Alpha sits at his bedside and cups Will's face, thumb stroking over his cheek – he's clean-shaven, now, and feels no stitches on the inside of his cheek. His face has been washed, and his chest is bare. The bandages around his shoulder and hip have been removed and while he can move his leg, it still aches awfully when he tries.

He whimpers, too groggy to stifle the sound, and Hannibal shushes him, drags a tender hand away from his injured cheek and caresses his neck with dry knuckles. Hannibal's face swims in and out of focus, and Will's head is throbbing.

Then, Hannibal's hand leaves his neck, and flattens just below his sternum. Will flinches, sucks in a harsh breath, and claws at Hannibal's wrist to try and get him away, but he's weak and disoriented and Hannibal lets out a soft, soothing noise. Almost a purr, almost.

Will gasps. He's only heard Hannibal purr once. He did it when he gutted Will, when they'd both cried and sweated their sins away and the stag died in Hannibal's kitchen. He'd purred to Abigail, enchanted her closer, and slit her throat. Will grits his teeth and his eyes open, teary and pained, when he meets Hannibal's gaze again.

"Who did this to you?" Hannibal whispers, touching Will's scar.

Will would laugh, except he would immediately start crying. His hands gentle around Hannibal's wrist, cupping instead of cutting. "You did," he rasps.

Hannibal's eyes widen, and he lets out a shocked, ragged breath like it had been punched out of him. His eyes flash, a deep and dark red, and he looks at the scar on Will's stomach. Will can't look, can't bear to see it. How can something that happened so long ago still be so raw?

"I did this," Hannibal says. It's not a question. His hand presses flat and his throat moves tensely as he swallows. He meets Will's low-lidded gaze. "Is this when I tried to kill you?"

Will huffs, smiles, shows his teeth. He shakes his head, once. "No," he replies. "Not this time."

"Can you…? Did I -?" Hannibal swallows again, sharply, and stands abruptly. The loss of his heat is like the sudden absence of sun, and Will shivers. He turns and sees his shirt folded up by his head, and he grabs it, manages to sit up enough to work it over his head and one arm, then the other, his shoulder aching with protest but useable.

Hannibal strides out of the cell and approaches Chiyoh. "Free him," he commands, harsh and low. "He is to move about the house as a guest."

Chiyoh nods, once, and Hannibal turns to look at Will one more time, before he leaves like he's being chased by the demons of Hell. Will winces, cups his hand under his thigh to get his foot on the floor, and staggers to a standing position.

He limps to the cell door and Chiyoh meets his gaze. "I have a room for you," she says.

He raises an eyebrow. "Already?" he asks.

She smiles, slight and fond. "I know Hannibal better than anyone," she replies. "And the bond you share goes deeper than memory. I knew he couldn't keep you here forever. His soul won't allow it."

Will swallows. The creature in his chest purrs, ruts up against his spine, tail flicking in pleasure, ears and eyes forward. He wonders if, when he sees Hannibal again, he will see a similar creature smiling back at him with bared fangs.

"I'm not sure I can make it up the stairs by myself," he cautions.

Her smile widens. "I could carry you again," she offers.

Will rolls his eyes. "A cane will do, for now."

She nods. "Wait here. I'll get you one."

 

 

Will gets a room on the ground floor. He didn't see much of the manor his last time here, and wonders if there still remains, however small and unimportant, and imprint of his legacy, his scent, beyond his dragonfly in the cellar. If there is a tapestry fallen that has adopted a thread of his hair, if there is a door with his fingerprint on it, if there is a certain hallway where his scent sits and blows through to remind people he was here, he is alive.

He's not going to be forgotten, won't fade away like oil paint and crushed ceramic underfoot.

Chiyoh shows him the room and then leaves, citing the need to go hunting for meat and getting him more clothes. There is a bathroom attached to it, which while he appreciates it, he finds it odd to have an en suite bathroom on the ground floor. But he won't look a gift horse in the mouth, and the less stairs he has to climb while his leg heals and regains strength, the better.

He closes the door behind him, breathes in the deep the scent of musty air and old wood. He hobbles over to the picture windows and opens them both, throwing them open wide and smiling when the lush, rain-filled air crawls in like a hesitant stray dog. It brushes through his hair in greeting, a mother passing her toddler while he watches cartoons and she goes to prepare dinner. He sighs, closes his eyes, and pretends for just a moment that he's back in Wolf Trap, and a storm is coming.

He turns away from the window after a moment, lets the curtains hang open and free, and takes in the room. It is a relatively plain affair, a twin-sized bed against one wall with the side of it flat, the head in the corner next to the window. There is a desk at the other end, behind the door, and a cupboard and chest of drawers along the opposite wall. The walls are a rich, burnt orange color like overripe mango, the curtains a burnished gold, the floor covered in wood so dark it's almost black.

It's a dark, intimate space, despite the bright colors. Will goes to the second door between the cupboard and the chest of drawers and opens it, revealing a modest bathroom. There's a bathtub with a showerhead, a clear curtain bunched up at one end, a toilet and a sink. The walls are painted a soft sky blue. The faucets, the claws of the bathtub, and the handle on the toilet are all gold.

Blue and gold are primarily cited as comforting colors for Omegas, whereas Alphas have been found in studies to prefer purple, red, and black. Colors associated with power and control, as opposed to their counterparts. The paint smells fresh – the whole room looks more modern than the dark-wood furniture and the deep colors of the bedroom, and Will wonders when this was built. If Chiyoh had it done for when she spent time in the house.

He enters the bathroom and closes the door behind him. He goes to the bathtub, pulls the curtain so that it's outside of the tub, and plugs it, turning on the water and setting it to a scalding heat. He lets the cane rest against the edge of the tub and carefully scoops himself into it as the water rises, hissing at both the ache in his muscles and the raw heat of the water as it curls around him.

So different than the sea. But it's soothing all the same.

He lets the water rise until it laps at his knees. The tub is long enough for him to almost stretch his legs out if he sits upright, so he slouches and lets his knees sit out of the water. His arms rest on the edges and he sighs, resting the back of his head on the lip of the tub, and blinks up at the ceiling. The ceiling is white, patterned like swirling clouds with extra pieces of plaster.

He sighs again, and turns his head to one side, gingerly feeling at the scar on his cheek. It's closed, now, healed over, and doesn't hurt as much when he touches it. It will be just another line, another scar dealt because of Hannibal's designs. Will can't remember a single wound on him now that wasn't Hannibal's fault, and wonders if all works of art feel the same way when their master touches them.

He closes his eyes, gentles his hand and rubs it down his neck, into the water, down the center of his chest. His fingers hit the raised scar on his stomach and he pauses, remembering the heat of Hannibal's palm against this scar, the terribly sad light in his eyes when Will told him that he'd been the one to put it there. There'd been no pleasure, though Will doubts even if he was himself, he would feel pleasure at the reminder. Will's scars are earned, trophies of war in a battle fought from the moment their eyes locked in Jack's office.

Part of him wants to see this through. It could be his turn to hold the puppet strings, poke and prod at Hannibal's brain until his survival instinct kicks in. He would tremble when the memories resurfaced, so many years and emotions Will is sure he never felt before hitting him all at once. He wonders, if and when Hannibal regains them, if his first instinct will be to bite, to run, or to weep.

There's too much history for Will to rewrite it. History is written by the conqueror, and Will has a conqueror's name but that is where the similarities end, for him. Hannibal always wins, no matter what the game. He is the page master, the narrator of his own life, and that won't change no matter what version of him Will meets and interacts with.

He swallows and rubs his hands down his legs, opens his eyes to look at his hip. A patchwork of deep bruising spans the length of his right thigh, down to the innards, stark and invasive on his pale skin. He wonders what Hannibal would think if he saw that, too. Another splotch of color has erupted around the stab wound in his shoulder, similarly healed-over, stitches gone – if there were any to begin with. Time and the ocean had not been kind to the healing process.

He probably has a bruise on his face, too. He thinks of Hannibal's hand touching it. It hadn't hurt, not even a little.

His fingers curl, dig into the bruise hard enough to hurt, a sharp sting that travels up his stomach and into his heart. "You promised you'd remember me," he whispers, betrayal and pride and wounded ego flaring up along with the heat of the water. His chest and his neck are flushed now, sweat gathering beneath his hair. He needs to cut it.

Will grits his teeth, snarls at himself and releases his thigh. Weakness. The voice in his head sounds like Jack's. Will imagines sinking his teeth into Jack's artery and drinking his life away, watching it fade from his eyes. They could have come here, years ago, fled from the law and the land with Abigail between them. She'd like it out here – the woods would have called her own creature home, demanded she hunt with them.

His stomach rumbles and Will snarls, petulant at his body's needs. He runs his wet fingers through his hair and shudders.

If Hannibal never regains his memory, then Will is lost. Killing Hannibal will mean nothing if he doesn't know the why, the how, the meaning behind the blood on Will's hands and the way he'll smile when Hannibal's heart beats its last and he sinks his teeth into the meat of it. He won't understand why Will does what he does. He won't know.

And that is unforgiveable. It would be no better than if a rabid dog bit him.

So, Will must make Hannibal care. He must. If he cannot have the Hannibal he knew, he will form his own version of that man. The metamorphosis will be painful, and it might be long, and with Chiyoh watching it will certainly be difficult, but this is Will's cooling off period. This is his chain of thorns, tightening, tightening. He can do it – he's done it before, when the stakes were far higher. Will is the puppet master now, Will is holding the strings and directing the orchestra while his performance plays out.

He will make Hannibal love him, as ardently and fiercely as he did before. And when he has done so, he will skin his monster alive, reveal the creature crawling around in Hannibal's chest and let him catch a glimpse, just a glimpse, of the thing he made Will into, before he tightens his hands around his neck, watches the light disappear from his eyes, watching the love and the longing fracture them apart and let Hannibal strike back, plunge a knife deep into his chest so that they bleed into each other, finally becoming one.

He laughs to himself.

"This is my design."

 

 

Will comes out of the bathroom, clean and cleansed, and finds a new set of clothes on the bed. He closes the window, pleased that the room has adopted the scent of rainfall and life, and puts the clothes on as quickly and carefully as he can. He has to sit on the bed to do it and can only use one arm to put on the shirt, which is a light blue t-shirt that is several sizes too big, and lounge pants that easily cover his bare feet. There are socks, too, warm and thick, that he puts on. No shoes.

Will huffs to himself, and wonders if Chiyoh is dressing him like a sweet, non-threatening child on purpose.

He grabs his cane and hobbles out of the room, leaving the door open so that the bedroom and bathroom don't become musty, and sees light coming from another room near the door. It's a living room area, complete with couches and one wall lined with thick, old books.

Hannibal is sitting within. There's a fire burning, warm and welcoming and bright, and he looks up when Will's shadow darkens the doorway.

He smiles, polite, and his eyes only briefly drop to Will's neck, then his stomach, before meeting his gaze again. Will bites his lower lip and looks right back. He won't let himself be cowed.

"You're looking well," Hannibal says, and gestures to one of the nearby chairs for Will to take a seat.

Will smiles, ducks his head and runs his hand through his hair as he slowly limps over to the other end of the couch Hannibal is sitting on. He takes his own seat and if Hannibal protests his chosen spot, he doesn't give it voice.

"Thanks," he replies softly, sweetly. He keeps his head forward and steals glances out of the corner of his eye, an Omega too coy and shy to risk hiding his neck. His shoulders are tensed, though, and he can't make them relax. He's still not convinced this is all not just some elaborate ruse to get him to lower his guard. He huffs, and blows a curl out of his face. "I need a haircut."

Hannibal raises an eyebrow, and sets his book down. He has a glass of wine on the table in front of him, and Will feels his chest loosen. Some things never change. "Has it not always been that long?" he asks.

Will shakes his head. "I like it shorter," he replies.

Hannibal nods. "I'm sure there are scissors around here, someplace," he says. "Or I can have Chiyoh bring someone in, to get it more to your liking."

"Thank you," Will murmurs. "I appreciate it."

Hannibal smiles, and nods to Will's cane. "Chiyoh told me you're recovering well," he says.

Will nods. He touches the ivory handle of the cane. It looks old and classic, the kind an old mobster would use that doesn't really need one. The handle has some heft. He imagines how close he'd have to get to swing it with any assured impact.

He looks at Hannibal. "And you?" he asks.

Hannibal presses his lips together, shifts his weight and winces, pressing one hand against his side. "Apparently I was shot," he says mildly. "I'm having trouble figuring out how, or why."

Will huffs a laugh. "I can tell you," he says. Softly. Promising.

Hannibal looks at him. "You won't lie?" he asks.

"Why would I lie?"

"You told me not to trust anyone. You also told me you want to kill me." He hesitates. "Strange, considering how honest I feel those two declarations are. Yet, part of me believes that you will lie about some things." He shakes his head.

Will frowns. "What did you say to me, when you first saw me?" he asks.

Hannibal lets out a breath. "Another strange thing," he replies. He looks away, to the fire. "When I woke, I felt…antsy. I felt as though there was something very important I had to do, or see. That feeling only left when I found you." He looks at Will again. "I said 'I know you, but I do not know you'. I felt a great deal of relief when I saw you in that cell, and I'm not certain as to why."

Will smiles. "Maybe it was relief to see me caged," he replies coolly. "Injured. Knowing I was no threat."

Hannibal huffs, and smiles back. In the firelight, his face is angular and strong, his eyes very dark. Will could easily follow them, dive back into the nighttime he so long was yanked from on Jack's leash. He wants to – God, how he wants to.

"Are you going to wait until you've regained your full strength, to attack me again?" Hannibal asks coolly – so calmly that, for a moment, they are back in his cabin in Maryland, waiting for Dolarhyde to find them. Wine in hand and a fire blurring the lines between day and night, right and wrong. Will's eyes drop to his hands, resting around the book in his lap, and he bites his lower lip.

"That's the plan," he whispers.

Hannibal's smile widens, showing his teeth. The red in his eyes glows, anticipatory. Whatever facial hair he grew has been cut as well, so Will can see the lines around his mouth and the pink of his lips. "You are a frightfully honest man," he murmurs, like he's intrigued, and Will presses his lips together, cheeks heating. He averts his gaze and sets it on the fire. "How did we meet?"

"By someone else's design," Will murmurs. "I worked for a man trying to catch killers, and you were my psychiatrist."

Hannibal hums, thoughtful and quiet. "I don't imagine having an Alpha as a psychiatrist was pleasant for you," he says.

"There were a lot of unpleasant things about our relationship," Will replies, just as soft. "You being an Alpha wasn't one of them."

Hannibal is quiet for another long moment, so long that Will has no choice but to look at him. His expression hasn't changed – still thoughtful, disarmingly distant. Will wants to chase his hook, but he holds back. Hannibal is not a fisherman, and Will won't let him take that away now.

"Will," he begins, hesitates, looks away, swallows. His hands tighten around his book. It's a book of poetry, Will imagines, for he cannot read the title. But it seems like the kind of thing Hannibal would read in his spare time. "What, exactly, is the nature of our relationship? Not as it was, but as it is now?"

Will clears his throat, his neck suddenly feeling too hot. He can't help the crazy feeling that the only thing that would cool him down is Hannibal's hand on his nape. He needs a damn haircut – his hair is trapping heat there, but he can't move it away because any physical sign is all Hannibal needs to know whether he's lying or not.

"I trusted you," Will says, silent as a knife between the ribs. He wants to wound, since he cannot maim. "And you trusted me, once. And I believe you loved me, once. We were wrong to do so."

"You were wrong to love me?" Hannibal asks.

Will swallows, sucks in a shaky breath. A mental slip – 'We' – he should be more careful. "As it was," he replies. "Not as it is now."

"I hate that I don't remember you," Hannibal murmurs. The sound of his voice is intimate and hushed, like they are children huddled under a blanket and trading ghost stories of unredeemable evils and lost loves. "Though I sense you would be just as cryptic, if I did."

Will huffs a laugh, his chest abruptly loosening. "We have that in common," he says warmly. "Metaphors and songs – that is how we danced, Doctor Lecter."

Hannibal pauses, seeming to consider that. "Tell me, Will," he replies, "was I a good dance partner?"

"The best," Will whispers, the confession as soft and reverent as those in any church. Hannibal smiles, his eyes pleased and bright at the response. "You still are. Though I fear we may have lost the rhythm, in the ocean. It has its own song."

"Then we must find it again," Hannibal declares.

Will smiles, a flutter of something toothy and clawed scrambling for sound in his chest. "I'd like that."

 

 

Will sleeps for a good portion of the next day, his belly swollen with food and his eyelids too heavy to stay open. He takes some books from the study; the ones Hannibal shows him in the English section. It's old poems and essays on philosophy, mostly, but he's sure they will prove wonderfully diverting when he cannot keep up the pretense and must retire to his room.

Chiyoh is a scarce presence. She shows up with food and clothes. Will gets the impression she's still waiting for him to realize he wants to fall in love, not revenge, and checks merely to make sure her master and friend is still alive before she departs to her own cottage.

He finds himself out in the garden when Hannibal approaches him directly again. They navigate each other like strangers in territories too weak to overpower the other, too strong to yield ground. Hannibal doesn't go near Will's room and Will doesn't have the strength in his leg to really wander and find out where Hannibal sleeps.

He looks up when Hannibal approaches, a smile on his face that is a little too genuine for his comfort. He finds nourishment at the mere sight of the Alpha, and pictures taking Bedelia's other leg and roasting it on a spit while he and Hannibal dance like pagans.

"May I sit?" Hannibal asks, and Will nods, shifting to one end of the bench to make room for the Alpha. He still walks with his cane, but his shoulder is getting stronger through its use, and his leg is almost completely mobile on its own. There is still some weakness, but it will pass, as all things do. The leaves are turning brown overhead and the air is heavy with rain, the days grow cold no matter how much sun there is.

Will sighs, and marks his page with a spare piece of paper he took from the desk in his room, shutting the book and letting it rest on his lap. "You know," he says, his eyes on the sky, "I imagined so many futures for the both of us. Some happy, some less so. I never thought I'd have you back here."

Hannibal swallows, and nods. He joins Will in looking Heavenward. Will wants to see the stars. "I suffered a great loss here," Hannibal replies. "But sometimes one must return to one's roots, and see if the ashes of a former life can birth something better."

"Where does your memory end?" Will asks.

Hannibal shrugs. "There are flashes, memories I know I did not make here, but I cannot place them, either," he replies coolly. "I see fountains, and art galleries. I remember learning to sketch. Here." He has a book in his hand, a large square journal, and Will sucks in a breath when he opens the page and Will sees the drawing he'd been doing in the Uffizi gallery.

If I saw you, every day…

"Zephyrus," he breathes.

Hannibal nods. He turns another page and Will swallows, seeing another image of himself. This time just his torso and face, standing nondescript, eyes lowered, shoulders hunched up. "I have many drawings of you, Will," Hannibal says, confession-quiet. "My hands remember making them, but my eyes don't remember the scenes of inspiration."

Will knows there is a question in Hannibal's eyes – What are you to me? Too soon, Will cannot possibly answer that when he knows he has no answers for the questions that will follow. He looks away and turns his gaze Heavenward again. He clears his throat and wets his lips.

"Do you see the stars, out here?" he asks.

Hannibal nods. "Yes," he replies. "They are wonderfully bright, if memory serves."

Will huffs. "Did you just make a joke?"

"I believe I am still capable, yes." Hannibal is smiling. Will adores the way it lights up his eyes and softens his face. "I find comfort in knowing that the stars, our perceptions of them, do not change. Orion will always be there – Venus, and Jupiter beyond that."

Will swallows tightly, and closes his eyes. He bows his head forward and rests his elbows on his knees, the book tucked securely between his stomach and his arms, and runs his hands through his too-long hair.

"I don't know enough about amnesia to know how to help," he says quietly. Does he want Hannibal to remember?

No, the voice in his head murmurs.

Yes, the creature in his chest snarls.

Hannibal sighs. "Unfortunately, the mind is that one plot of land that, no matter how deeply excavated or how thoroughly studied, will remain a mystery for some time," he replies. "Amnesia is usually the result of a trauma – a painful memory one wishes to block out." He pauses and, when Will doesn't reply, continues; "You never did tell me how I got shot."

Will raises his head without straightening up, turns and rests his chin on his good hand and fixes Hannibal with an off-kilter smile. "You're right," he replies. "But would you believe me, if I did?"

Hannibal smiles back at him, gentle and warm. "I suppose you'd better just tell me," he says. "And I'll decide for myself where your honesty ends."

Will laughs, and sits up straight, head tilted up to the sky, neck exposed. He can feel Hannibal's eyes on his throat and he scratches at the side of his neck, keeping his attention there. It's a base, petty flirtation, but he's in a good mood to indulge himself. He likes the way Hannibal's eyes grow focused and sharp when he touches his neck.

"We were hunting a serial killer," he says. Hannibal blinks at him, and tilts his head to one side. "He had become obsessed with you, and I made a deal with him. I'd lure you out to this cabin you owned, in the middle of nowhere. On a cliffside. And I would help him kill you, and in turn, arrest him. But you knew…you knew I wouldn't let him kill you. Your life is mine to take." He looks at Hannibal to gauge his reaction, finds nothing of note. Hannibal has a mask on, that person suit constructed so finely that, for a moment, Will bristles. "He shot you. And he came into the room to watch you die. I was going to pull my gun, to end him, and he stabbed my face. We fought. We killed him – together."

"Did we now," Hannibal murmurs, his eyes dark. There's a rumble in the back of his throat, the aftertaste of sweet wine. Will nods. "And then we…fell?"

Will presses his lips together. "I wanted us to die as one," he murmurs, looking down at his hands. His fingers curl around the book in his lap, tense and tight. "I wanted that moment – that perfect, beautiful moment – to be the last one either of us experienced."

"How did we kill that man, Will?"

Will smiles. "You ripped his throat out," he says. "I gutted him, the same way you gutted me."

Hannibal does growl, then – a visceral and deep sound that escapes him before he can stop it. Will tenses, slanting his gaze at Hannibal, his head still bowed. He's not sure how to react to that – the noise wasn't one of pleasure, but it certainly wasn't revulsion, either.

No, not revulsion.

Hannibal touches his fingertips to his mouth, briefly, and then, after a second of hesitation, he reaches out and flattens his hand along the back of Will's knuckles. His touch is warm and strong, his hand large and covering Will's completely. Will shivers, biting his lower lip.

"Will," Hannibal breathes, sacred and soft. Will is shaking, why is he shaking? His heart is fluttering in double-time, his eyes prickling with gold. He can feel it like an irritant, like when he would leave his contacts in too long. He resists the urge to rub at them, to draw attention to them.

"I didn't see it, until then," Will says. His mouth is so dry, and his fingers curl and turn within Hannibal's, so their hands rest palm to palm, and he thinks of the strength of Hannibal's shoulder and chest under his cheek, and his eyes close. "How beautiful the world was. How beautiful you made it." He swallows. "I feel like I've lost that."

"The world is still beautiful, Will," Hannibal replies. He's leaned in closer and Will doesn't remember when he did that, but he's so close. Will could tilt his head and touch his forehead to Hannibal's lips if he was weak enough to let himself. He is weak – he's so weak – but he can't allow himself to be. Not if he wants closure.

Not if he wants justice. For Abigail. For everything.

He clears his throat and pulls his hand away, grabs his cane, and stands. "How often does Chiyoh go into town?"

Hannibal shakes his head. "I'm not sure," he replies. "I imagine she's been going more frequently, given that she has three mouths to feed, now."

Will nods. "I'd like to accompany her, next time."

Hannibal presses his lips together, his eyes searching Will's face. Will meets his gaze, dares him to see anything there but guileless restlessness. Omegas are pack animals, and have a natural nesting instinct, but they are also equally prone to wanderlust. Will has never been a homebody, no matter how hard anyone tried to make him be one.

"I'll let her know, and she'll fetch you when she goes again," Hannibal says.

Will nods, and manages a small smile. "Thank you, Doctor Lecter," he replies.

"What for?"

Will sighs, and shakes his head. "Indulging me, I suppose," he says. Hannibal stands, walking with him back towards the front door. "Not many men would keep someone around who so obviously wanted them dead."

"You want to kill me, Will," Hannibal replies, "but I do not think you want me dead."

Will frowns down at his socks. The damp has soaked them through, since Chiyoh still hasn't thought to provide him with shoes. He doesn't mind, though – delights, rather, that he might wet and stain the wooden floors and leave another remnant of his presence behind. He is marking his territory in Hannibal's life – and, ultimately, the site of his death.

Hannibal pauses as they cross the threshold to the front door, and Will turns to regard him. The stand like suits of armor in a grand hall, ready to look down upon those gathered within it. Ghostly spirits ready to take up arms and defend the castle at the master's command.

Hannibal's jaw clenches, his fingers curl around his journal. He looks down at it, then up at Will, like he's considering something. Will lets him do it, sits placidly in his boat and dangles the bait out, waits for the fish to swim closer.

Not live bait, not yet. Too much excitement.

Hannibal sighs, and lifts one hand, puts it to rest gently on Will's injured shoulder. Will tenses, growling softly with pain, but not warning. Not yet. Hannibal's hand flattens until the pad of his thumb touches Will's exposed collarbone, slides up the line of his throat, the tender soft place behind the tendon. He's warm and full of vitality, of life, and Will can't break gazes with him when Hannibal's hand finally finds its resting place on Will's throat.

"Do you think," Hannibal whispers, "if I tried to hurt you, you could stop me?"

Will swallows, and presses a hand to his stomach. Hannibal's eyes drop to it. "You hurt me in ways I couldn't predict," he replies. Hannibal meets his gaze, red and carnivorous. "And yet, for each one thing you did, I know there are thousands more you did not. So, no, I do not think I could stop you."

Hannibal's mouth twitches in a smile. He steps closer, so Will has to turn his head up to keep his eyes. "Then you'd best heal quickly," he says, voice a low purr that settles its claws into Will's spine and tightens. He shivers at the sound of it.

"You'd best remember quickly," Will replies, shaky but sure. Hannibal's smile widens.

"You are…delightful," he says, like he can't decide on the right word. Will bites his lower lip, his mouth dry and he's sure his heartbeat is giving him away against Hannibal's palm. Then, Hannibal drops his hand, the fish nipping at the bait but ultimately sensing the fisherman's eyes. He steps back, and Will breathes in deeply, through his mouth, over the scent palette. It stings when he does it, but he can't deny what he smells;

Deep, roaring desire. Alpha desire. His fingers tremble so hard he almost drops his book, whitens his knuckles around the spine of it. The creature in his chest howls loud enough to deafen him.

He turns without a word, and thanks the cane for the fact that he can't really hurry with it. It forces his steps to be slow and even, forces him to appear lax and in control. The whole journey to his room, he feels Hannibal's eyes drilling deep into the back of his neck.

 

 

Chiyoh has a car, thank God, and takes Will into town the next day. The town itself is small, barely more than two roads surrounded by houses. It's dark, with slate roofs and grey stone, and Will loves it for the fact that it reminds him of the cliffs.

"First, a haircut," she declares.

Will breathes a sigh of relief. "Thank God," he mutters.

Chiyoh smiles at him, and parks at the end of one of the roads in a small lot by a church. They get out and Will follows close to her. She is mindful of his limp and doesn't try to hurry him. She walks towards a little shop that looks more like someone's home than anything else. There are goats in a pen on the side of it. She approaches an older woman with silver hair and deep smile lines, gestures to Will, and makes a few cutting motions with her hands, Lithuanian flowing smoothly from her lips. The woman smiles, and gestures for Will to sit.

Will obeys, and is immediately plied with what looks and smells like a pint of goat milk and a pastry. He shakes his head at the woman, hoping to go for polite decline, and she huffs, rolls her eyes, and pinches his good cheek.

Chiyoh laughs when she says something. "She says you're too skinny."

Will shakes his head.

"Your Alpha isn't feeding you properly."

Will's cheeks color, and he looks to the woman, but she isn't looking at him, busying herself with tucking scissors and combs into her apron. She takes a spray bottle of water and starts squirting Will's hair down, brushing through it with decisive and harsh strokes, as though she will not tolerate any resistance from Will or his knots.

"I don't have an Alpha," Will argues sullenly, knowing she can't understand him. "Tell her that."

"Nope," Chiyoh says, her eyes bright with mischief. Will wants to glare at her, but whenever he turns his head, the woman barks out a sharp command and forces him to face the wall again. There's no mirror in front of him, so Will cannot see the rest of the room.

"I don't, though," Will argues, since he can't see her face and can't glare at her. He settles in his chair, sighing when he feels the ends of his hair get pulled by comparatively gentle fingers, laced between two, then the quiet snip of the scissors as he's relieved of the ends.

"Listen, what she knows, the whole town will know by midday. Don't go around advertising your lack of a mate if you don't want every Alpha in town sniffing you out."

Will shifts his weight, lets out an uncomfortable sound.

She laughs. "Besides, here you are, getting all pretty for him. You're not good at hiding it, Will."

"I happen to like my hair shorter," Will replies roughly.

"Mhm. Why don't we just shave it all off, then?"

He blanches. "I think I preferred you when you pushed me off the train."

"Don't give me any ideas."

The woman is efficient, much to Will's relief, and when she's done she hands him a mirror, smiling at him over his shoulder. His hair looks a lot better, and it curls just a little around his nape, flops over his forehead when he runs his fingers through it, as he kept it before the fall. He smiles and nods to her.

"What's 'Thank you' in Lithuanian?" he asks Chiyoh.

She smiles. "Ačiū," she says, and Will repeats it to the woman. She pinches his cheek again and rattles off something else, making Chiyoh laugh.

"What did she say?" Will asks, after Chiyoh pays her and they leave her parlor.

"She told me to make sure your Alpha fed you or she'd come up there and cook for you herself."

Will rolls his eyes, biting his lower lip as a thought occurs to him – how long has it been since Hannibal ate his preferred meat? Does he hunger for it, as he did before? He must, he must still want it, but is keeping his desires in check because he isn't strong enough and doesn't know this world enough to navigate in it as smoothly as he once did.

Chiyoh goes to a butcher next and buys chicken and goat meat. Will doesn't do much except serve as glorified pack mule as they wander between the stalls and shops. The market is thriving despite the low population. It seems everyone who lives here is out and about. None of them greet Chiyoh or Will directly, but some give nods of recognition.

"You've lived here for so long," Will murmurs, as they amble back to the car, meat and more clothing in hand. Will finally convinced her to get him a pair of shoes, since the pair he's wearing are Hannibal's and don't fit well in the slightest. He's sure he looks no better than a wayward homeless person, some nameless Omega ward taken in. "Do you know everyone in the town?"

"Most of them," Chiyoh replies, taking the bags and bundles from Will and setting them in the backseat as Will gets in the car. She slides in the driver's side soon after and starts it.

"Do you think he'll let me go into town unaccompanied, sometime?" Will asks.

Chiyoh raises an eyebrow at him, her lips pursed, before she puts her eyes back on the road. "Probably," she says lightly. "He trusts you."

"He shouldn't."

"So you keep saying."

"And I mean it," Will says, and tries to ignore the angry clench of his gut. He's hungry. He's always hungry around Hannibal. He wonders when Hannibal will start cooking again. He's gotten used to fine dining – something that the long sea journey and his current situation will likely never beat out of him.

She hums, and doesn't answer. Will is too tired to press the issue.

 

 

When they return, Hannibal helps to unload the groceries. When he sees Will's hair, his fingers clench so hard that his knuckles turn white, and he swallows harsh enough that Will knows he's trying not to purr, or growl. It creates a fissure of heat in his stomach that doesn't go away for hours.

He sleeps, and dreams of Hannibal coming to him in the middle of the night, putting his hand on Will's throat, squeezing, squeezing. He wakes covered in sweat and trembling and soaked through. He rolls onto his stomach and flattens his hand over his cock, rutting against his palm like a teenager in a shared dorm. He bites the pillow when his orgasm hits him and rips the cover with his fangs.

 

 

The fire is bright and warm. Will sits in front of it, propped up against the side of one of the chairs he dragged closer to the fire, so he could rest on the floor. He imagines the flames reaching out, curling like a lover's touch over the knots in the wood, licking the red cushions and the gold tassels. He imagines the fire dancing, bright and happy, as it consumed the carpet, the books, the wine. He closes his eyes and the flames take on the shape of hands and fangs.

Footsteps make him open his eyes again, and he turns to look past the chair, sees Hannibal's silhouette in the doorway. He smiles and raises a glass of wine in greeting. "Helped myself," he says. Hannibal's shadow nods, and he goes to the table at the window, pours himself a glass, and comes into the light. The gold-orange glow kisses his cheeks, caresses his jaw, nuzzles the sharp angle of his brow. He sits in the chair against which Will is leaning and his hand drops to rest just shy of Will's hair.

He wants to touch. Will wants him to. Which one of them will give first – isn't that the million-dollar question?

"I've been having strange dreams," Hannibal murmurs.

Will huffs a laugh. "How time turns the tables on us all," he says. At Hannibal's questioning sound, he adds; "I used to tell you my dreams."

"What did you dream about?"

"Death. Monsters."

Hannibal sighs. "Such darkness," he says. His fingers curl – Will hears them drag along the rich velvet, and he shivers. "Tell me, Will, how does an Omega find himself amongst such things?"

Will tenses. "Monsters don't care about biology, Doctor Lecter," he says tightly. "Why should I?"

Hannibal huffs, and folds one leg over the other. It puts his foot at Will's side. Will could lean over and rest his head on the Alpha's knee if he wanted to. He swallows a large mouthful of wine, licks his lips to catch the rest of the blackberry sharpness.

"Am I a killer, Will?"

"Yes," Will replies.

"I thought so."

"You don't remember?"

"Sometimes these memories feel like movies. I see…so many things. Monsters, as you call them. Murders. But I am not afraid of them. Rather, they feel comforting."

"Memories shape us," Will murmurs. "So, too, must your mind recognize your own hand in them."

"Ah, but it is not my hand that I remember," Hannibal murmurs. Will tilts his head, looks up to see Hannibal smiling at him. "I see yours, in all things."

Will swallows, puts his eyes on the fire, sucks in a tight, controlled breath. "Do you want my confession?"

"I don't know," Hannibal returns. "Do you want to confess?"

"We were going to run away together," Will whispers. He takes another drink of wine, waits for Hannibal's impatient intake of breath. "The night you gutted me. We were going to run away, but you sensed betrayal in me. Hesitation. So you left me for dead."

"I don't know what I thought that night," Hannibal murmurs. "But the me that I am today regrets that deeply."

There's a lull, a pause where the happy crackle of the fire is the only break. It dances and leaps, joyful, without inhibition.

"Did you ever have children, Will?"

Will's shoulders tense hard enough that his injured one aches sharply. He finishes his wine and gasps when he swallows. "Why do you ask?"

"I have dreams of a girl. I feel that I loved her, once, and with that feeling, comes an echo of you."

"Abigail," Will says, his heart sharp and stuttering like it's trying to break at the back of Will's ribcage, dashing itself against the cliffs all over again. "I killed her father. You killed her. You cut her throat and left her to die in my arms."

"I'm sorry."

"Are you?" Will hisses. His eyes are prickling and raw, tears and gold left unchecked. Omega instinct. Semantic. Maternal. Weakness.

"Yes," Hannibal replies. Plainly. Will looks up at him and his eyes are dark, fixed on the fire. His nails drag along the arm of the chair again and he sighs, taking a sip from his wine glass. His eyes close, he hums at the taste, licks his lips, and lets the glass rest on the other arm of the chair. He opens his eyes and fixes them on Will.

He cocks his head to one side, and his fingers slide along the velvet, brush the curl of hair on Will's brow, pushes it to one side to reveal his scar there. "Did I do this, too?" he whispers, thumb touching with aching tenderness on the raised scar on Will's forehead.

Will nods. "You are a vengeful God."

Hannibal swallows, his eyes too dark to read.

"And you?" he asks. Will's brow furrows. Hannibal brushes his thumb along the scar again, tentative almost. "What kind of God are you, Will?"

Will swallows. "The kind that devours men."

Hannibal's mouth twitches, and parts in a smile, showing his teeth. "Is that so?" he asks. The fire pops again, a log falls in a shower of sparks. It startles Will, and he flinches, and Hannibal's hand immediately settles in his hair, gentle and strong, soothing. Will's eyelids flutter and he sucks in a deep breath. "Is that what you intend to do, with me? Will you devour me?"

"I don't know," Will replies. Hannibal's hand doesn't move from his hair. He pets Will gently, fingertips brushing over his jaw as his hand gets more brazen, more daring when Will doesn't fight back. Hannibal's hand slides down to his nape, skirts the edge of his throat, drags back up with blunt nails and Will swallows his whimper. "I don't want to."

"Because it's too base?"

"Because I don't want to live in a world where you are not," Will replies. "But you are not, right now. Not as I knew you. How can you still be winning?"

"Are we playing a game?"

"Are we?" Will says, harsh and biting, baring his teeth and his neck in the same moment. Hannibal drags his nails across Will's neck, tender and soft, adoration in every breath from his lungs and the searing lines of heat he leaves on Will's skin.

Hannibal lets out a quiet laugh. "I find myself drawn to you, despite your warnings," he murmurs. Will bites his lower lip and sighs, lax, wanting. Not trusting, not quite. Passive and patient like a sedated tiger waiting for the drugs to wear off while its handlers fix its teeth. "When I woke, I searched. I felt as if I could not rest, and then I saw you, and I thought to myself 'Oh, there you are. Thank God'."

"Thank Chiyoh, not God," Will replies. "She saved your life. She saved mine."

"She told me you tried to kill me," Hannibal murmurs. "On the boat."

"I did," Will says, for he cannot – will not – deny it. "She didn't understand."

Hannibal's fingers find Will's forehead again, his nails scratch gently over his scalp, pulling his hair back from his face, exposes his ear, his jaw, for his touch. Not tentative, not anymore, but exploratory, like Will is the most sensually interesting thing he has ever touched.

"You have nothing to live for," Hannibal murmurs, "except the goal of ending my life. What happens, then, if you fail?"

"I keep living," Will replies. "I keep trying, until I succeed, or you kill me."

Hannibal smiles. Will can hear it in his voice. "Then stay with me," he says, and it's like he's begging except Hannibal doesn't beg. He doesn't plead. He commands, demands, and sees his will be done. Just like God.

Will nods. "Of course."

And I will bring you rest.

Chapter Text

Will wakes to the scent of cooking meat, and for a moment, the last few months disappear. His lungs don't ache with saltwater, his shoulder is fine and healed, his legs want to move, to dance to the kitchen and feast on what Hannibal has prepared for him.

Then, his eyes open, and the burnt orange walls beckon him back to reality. He sighs, rolls onto his side, and rises.

He showers quickly, his hip hurting despite the soothing warmth of the water, and dresses in more of those comfortable, oversized clothes Chiyoh keeps bringing him. She favors blues and greys – things that aesthetically make him look younger, softer, and bring out his eyes. He knows why she does it. He's running out of reasons to care about it.

The kitchen is on the ground floor, on the other side of the study. He ambles through the study, tries to take as many steps as he can without his cane and feels personal pride swell in him every time he manages more than one.

He enters the kitchen, expecting to find Chiyoh, and freezes.

Hannibal is there, in a slate-colored robe and striped pajamas, his hair in an artful disarray on his head. Will can't help noticing that Chiyoh goes out of her way to provide him well-fitting clothes, just as he wore in Baltimore. He moves through the kitchen with practiced ease and it's so familiar, so domestic, so achingly right that Will, for a moment, can't breathe.

"Hannibal," he whispers, the name escaping him like air in a long-sealed vault.

Hannibal turns, his eyes bright and his smile lax, young, overjoyed. "Will," he greets warmly, and gestures for Will to have a seat. There's a stool at one side of the kitchen island, green and black counters and stainless-steel appliances that Will knows are new but he can't for the life of him remember them being delivered. He stares, swallows, recovers, and hobbles to the stool, setting himself down. "I made coffee."

"Black," Will replies, hoarsely, and Hannibal nods, securing a mug and pouring coffee into it until it's full. He hands it to Will, who sets his cane down beside the stool and takes it. The coffee is warm, smells sweet, and he sighs, breathing it in deeply. "You're up early."

Hannibal laughs. "It's past noon," he replies.

Will scoffs, looks outside to see the sun is, indeed, shining brightly as though it's midday or later. He flushes at Hannibal's raised eyebrow and scratches the back of his neck. "I sleep well here, I guess."

Hannibal nods. "I'm glad you're not having nightmares," he murmurs, genuine and soft, and Will looks at him. Tries to catch a flicker of knowledge, of memory, but none come. He tilts his head to one side, then drops his gaze, takes a sip of the coffee despite the fact that it's still scalding hot. It burns his tongue and the roof of his mouth and he winces.

"What're you making?" he asks.

Hannibal smiles, and turns to the oven. "A roast," he says, and Will's eyes narrow.

"What kind of meat?"

Hannibal pauses, turns to look at Will. Hesitates again. "Pork," he says, slowly.

Will presses his lips together, nods once. "What was their name?"

Hannibal regards him for a long, long time. His eyes dart to the door, like he's expecting the shadow of a SWAT team at any moment. Will finds it curious – is it an instinct to hide his true choice of meal, or does he remember something to make him suspect?

Finally, Hannibal swallows, and turns away. "I don't know," he says, too-lightly. "I never learned it."

"You should be careful, Doctor Lecter," Will says. "A town this small, people will notice if their neighbors go missing."

Hannibal stops, and turns to regard Will fully. Will takes another sip of coffee, humming at the taste, his eyes fixed on Hannibal from under his lashes.

"You continue to amaze me," Hannibal says. "How long have you known?"

Will smiles, shrugs his good shoulder. "Almost as long as I've known you."

"And you are not afraid?"

"Should I be?"

"People fear what they don't understand," Hannibal says.

Will sets his mug down, rests both elbows on the table, makes sure Hannibal can see his eyes when he says; "I am not afraid."

Hannibal's eyes flash, and he cocks his head to one side. Will knows he knows what Will is saying;

I understand you. I know you.

"Will," he begins, affectionate and soft. Will's smile widens, enough to show his teeth.

"I'm not afraid of you, Doctor Lecter," he says again.

Hannibal's fingers rest on the counter, curl up tightly. He looks ravenous, in a way food cannot and will not satisfy.

"Last night, I had a dream," he says, and Will straightens up, eager to hear it; "I dreamed that you had brought me meat, to serve at my table. We ate it together. Is that a memory?"

"Yes," Will replies, taking another drink of coffee.

"So you are like me."

"I wasn't always," Will says. "I adapted. Evolved." Became.

Hannibal smiles. "Do you see this as evolution?" he asks.

"We must devour our weak, and preserve the quality of the breeding stock," Will returns. "I cannot contribute to the latter, so I throw myself with utmost fervor into the former."

Hannibal frowns, a ghost of confusion crossing his face.

"I can't have children, Doctor Lecter," Will explains. "Not after what you did."

Hannibal's face darkens, old anger and righteous outrage coloring his eyes, making them flicker red. "That cut was high," he says. "Your uterus -."

"Was removed," Will interrupts, curt and cold. "I had it all removed."

Hannibal blinks. "Why?" His tone is soft, wounded, as though Will had just told him he couldn't have his favorite sweet.

Will smiles, feral and pleased at being granted another opportunity to wound; "Because I wouldn't let you take that from me. You planted a seed, deep in my chest, and I had to rip it out. You left me, and I would not keep any part of me that would follow."

"But you did follow me," Hannibal says. His brow is heavy, his jaw clenched tight. "Didn't you?"

Will nods. He lifts his mug and uses it as a shield, sees his reflection in the blackness and wonders if he can drown in it like he could in the ocean. "It was too late," he whispers. "The seed took root, spread out, grew thorns and tightened."

"And now you are a forest of thorns," Hannibal replies. "Can anyone penetrate you again?"

Will shivers, lifts his eyes, sets the mug down. "A few have tried," he says, and delights in the masked, possessive flash of red in Hannibal's eyes. "Would you let them?"

"No," Hannibal replies. "No, I don't think I could."

Will smiles.

"You are a cruel creature," Hannibal says after a long, long moment of silence. The oven beeps, and he doesn't turn his attention to it.

"In that respect, we are perfect for each other," Will replies, and Hannibal straightens, his shoulders tense, knuckles white. Will's smile widens. "Are you going to let our meal burn, Doctor Lecter?"

Hannibal blinks, and looks over his shoulder towards the oven. "No," he replies after another moment. He takes oven mitts and slides them over his hands. "I think there is enough carnage between the two of us. No sense in letting a good meal go to waste."

Will laughs. "You took the words right out of my mouth."

 

 

Chiyoh brings in workers to the house. They clear out old rooms, dust and polish until the place stinks of bleach. They look at Will like he is some strange, otherworldly trinket that Hannibal has ensnared from some mythical place. Will notes that, despite the implicitly domestic calling of cleaning house, the crew is made up entirely of women and Alphas – no Omegas in sight. He tries to remember seeing one in town, and can't.

He asks Chiyoh about it, and she presses her lips together, arms crossed tight. "Omegas are rare sightings in this part of the world," she tells him. "Life here requires a resolution and constitution they aren't born with."

Will blinks at that, and tries not to be offended.

He stays in his rooms while they're cleaning and correcting the house. He tries to fight down the instinct to raise his hackles and snarl at any of the staff. He's in no condition to help, after all, but this is his home, his nest – his -.

Fuck it, his Alpha.

He doesn't like the looks they give Hannibal, not one bit. He doesn't like how his scent and his imprint is being erased under bleach and cleaner. He doesn't like the buffing of the floors, how they erase the squelch of his wet socks. He doesn't like when they dust the antiques and lovely paintings and come away with his hair and the skin cells he knows are in the dust bunnies they gather and dispose of. He doesn't like it, he doesn't like it at all.

He wonders if this is Hannibal's doing, some instinctive torture on Will's psyche, and he resolves that once he's physically recovered, he will scent-mark and imprint on every room, every door handle, every fucking throw pillow if he has to.

His doctors had told him, after the surgery, that his body would still think it could ovulate. He would react to play, get slick and wanting if an Alpha touched him just right. He'd heard the news with equal parts joy and disgust.

This house will reek of him, even if he has to self-induce a heat and rub his slick on every flat surface in the place.

His claim to Hannibal is resolute, steadfast, unwavering. Hannibal is his – his heart, his mind, his blood belongs to Will.  Will fought for it, killed for it, damn near died for it, and he'll be damned if some waif of a female or charming Alpha rips it out from under him.

Chiyoh laughs whenever she catches him stewing, golden-eyed and glaring at the cleaning crew, turning pages of his books with too much passive-aggressive intent. Will wants to bare his teeth at her and demand she make them leave.

He would, if he wasn't sure Hannibal would protest just to mess with him.

On the third day of cleaning, a new Alpha shows up at the house with the crew. Will doesn't know him, he's not one of the familiar faces he has memorized and imagined cutting into. He's tall, blue-eyed and blond-haired, his jaw strong and his smile wide enough to rival Chilton's smarmy grin.

He speaks English.

"You must be Will," he greets, and shakes Will's hand. His accent is thick, but Will can understand him clearly enough. His eyes are lovely, sky-blue and ringed with red, and his scent reminds Will of elderflower and blackberries. He finds himself breathing it in deeply. "Nice to meet you. I'm Elias."

"Elias," Will repeats, tastes the name on his tongue. The Alpha smiles, wide and welcoming, and Will blinks when he hears Elias purr. He releases the Alpha's hand and takes a step back, flushing for a reason he can't explain. "Nice to meet you." He hesitates, licks his lips, looks over his shoulder and spies neither Chiyoh nor Hannibal. "You're new."

Elias laughs, and gestures to a woman as she ascends the stairs to go clean the upper levels. "My mother called me. I live in the next town over, and she asked for help, so here I am." He spreads his hands out wide in a welcoming gesture, and Will's eyes fall to them. Elias is taller than him, stocky and broad. His hands look warm, callused, strong. He swallows.

"Well, I won't keep you," Will rasps. He ducks his head when Elias smiles, and watches the Alpha as he walks past Will and follows his mother up the stairs.

He startles when he smells Chiyoh's perfume, meets her dark eyes, and ducks into his room.

 

 

That night, he imagines Elias in his room, purring and pretty. His fantasies always change. Sometimes Hannibal comes in when Elias has his fingers on Will's neck, rips him free and tears his throat out and fucks Will in the growing pool of blood. Sometimes Elias turns into Dolarhyde, and they never fall off the cliff, and Hannibal claims Will in the most irrevocable way and the creature inside of Will's chest snarls.

Sometimes, Elias kills Hannibal, and they eat his heart together.

Will hates the last one, but it doesn't stop his body clenching down on his fingers and his cock spurting thick and heavy over his chest, imagining what Hannibal's heart would taste like and the varying shades of red to brown to black his eyes would take as the light faded out of them.

Elias comes every day after that. One day, he finds Will in the garden under a tall tree, reading from his book of poetry. He has the Lithuanian version beside it, trying to learn the language as best he can. He gives Will a gift – a small bottle of sweet port, wrapped with maroon ribbon. Will doesn't know how to accept it, but he takes it and nods dumbly when Elias proposes he take Will to dinner, or to the fields and forests, so they can drink it, when the work is done.

A celebration, he calls it. Will imagines Hannibal gouging out his eyes, and purrs.

He makes sure Hannibal sees the gift Elias brought Will. He doesn't ask about it, and his eyes are dark on the fire when he sits in the askew chair Will moved, petting his hair gently as Will dozes and reads poetry in both languages.

 

 

"Does it bring you pleasure, to taunt me?"

"Taunting you implies I care what your reaction is," Will replies coolly, his eyes on Hannibal over the dining room table. They're eating liver today; the organ meat is rich and ripe and Will's salivating before he even starts eating. He sits at Hannibal's left-hand side and meets his eyes when he takes a drink of crisp white wine. "What are we talking about?"

Hannibal's upper lip twitches, his eyes flashing red. "Don't think I haven't noticed," he says, growling low. Will raises an eyebrow and hides his smile in his next bite of food. "I thought I had your full attention. Have I been neglecting you?"

"You are as petty as a child when forced to share a toy," Will says, his other eyebrow joining the first. Hannibal's jaw clenches and he huffs, looking away. "You force me to forgive you, knowing that without your memory you cannot properly atone, or be held accountable. I am free, by this same circumstance, to do what I please, with whomever pleases me."

"And does he?" Hannibal snaps, his eyes dark and brooding on his own meal.

Will cocks his head to one side.

Hannibal's fingers curl and he snarls the next words; "Please you?"

Will smiles, slow and coy. "Does that make you angry, Doctor Lecter?" he asks.

Hannibal turns his gaze away, tries to busy his hand on his knife. Will swallows, and tightens his hand on his own, ready to strike or deflect in equal measure should Hannibal turn violent. "I thought you wanted to stay," Hannibal says quietly. "To dance, as we once did."

Will swallows, the fight abruptly uncoiling from his gut. "I do," he whispers. "But that song has ended."

"Has it?" Hannibal asks. He sounds…vulnerable. As broken and sad as he did that night in his kitchen, the meat hook still tight in his hand, his purr trembling from his flayed lungs. Before he slit Abigail's throat. "I have been utterly monstrous to you, haven't I, Will?"

"I know my behavior is unjust," Will says. "Just as the actions of God was unjust to all those who did not believe Noah and did not build boats. Innocents died in that flood."

"I am not innocent," Hannibal replies, meeting his eyes. "But so, too, did I not believe. I feel like I'm drowning."

Will swallows, his throat tight. He lets go of his knife and his wine glass and reaches out, flattening his hand over Hannibal's where it's resting beside his plate. Hannibal's eyes flash to the touch, sparking with something renewed and joyful.

"Don't worry, Doctor Lecter," he says quietly, and smiles. "I still want to kill you."

Hannibal huffs a laugh, but his eyes are dark and far away, planning and thinking of something Will cannot yet see. He squeezes Will's hand and turns his attention back to dinner. "At least I'll always have your killer instinct," he murmurs.

Will swallows, and resists the urge to agree with all his heart.

 

 

That night, Will draws himself a bath. Chiyoh went with him to town and got shampoo, and body wash, and he squirts some of the wash into the hot water, so it creates a type of lather. He sinks into the tub, pleased when his hip and shoulder give minimal protest.

He wants to take his time.

He slouches down in the bath, humming when his knees breach the surface of the water, and contemplates asking Hannibal if there's a larger one he can use when his leg is all healed up. It would be nice to stretch out, to completely submerge, to chase the depths and darkness of the ocean and see if she'll still rise up to meet him as a mother runs to her young after the first day of school.

He closes his eyes, bites his lower lip, and drags his nails down either side of his neck. The touch makes him shiver, and he imagines his hands are larger, stronger, his nails sharper. He conjures up the feeling of Hannibal's hand in his hair, imagines the Alpha is sitting behind him in the bath, his purr rumbling and jarring Will's bones, fracturing his spine.

He whines, soft enough that he knows Hannibal won't hear him, and flattens one hand. He keeps the other at his neck, imagines it's Hannibal's teeth, tilts his head to one side to expose his throat to his Alpha. His gut clenches, shivery and wet, as his other hand slides down his chest, past his hammering heart, past the scar on his stomach, to the thatch of hair above the base of his cock.

He drags his nails across it, pictures Hannibal between his legs now, his eyes red, fingers gripped bruise-tight on Will's thighs. The wounds are fading and with their loss, Will craves new ones. Bites on his inner thighs, claw marks under his arms and across his back. An imprint of teeth in his neck that speaks to the ownership he hardly dares acknowledge that he wants.

His cock twitches, and he bites his lower lip hard enough to sting, forms a circle with his fingers and wraps them around it. He's half-hard, lacking the stimulation yet to get really revved up, and his ass clenches, empty and wanting and he shivers, feeling the familiar sensation of that downward pull, the instinct ingrained in his bones to spread his legs and offer his most vulnerable parts to his mate.

In his mind, Hannibal growls and it sends a ricochet up Will's spine, parts his lips in a wet gasp. His eyelids flutter and he tilts his head to the side, breathes in the body wash that smells vaguely of vanilla but not much else. He craves something darker, sweeter – sandalwood and good wine, fresh meat, cinnamon and cloves. Burning paper and melted wax.

His cock twitches again and he tightens his fingers, adds more to the circle so his whole hand is wrapped around his cock as it thickens and hardens fully. He tightens his other hand at his neck, breathes through the tension there, growls and bares his teeth because he knows Hannibal will let him.

Will isn't some submissive ideal of his breed, he'll fight and snarl and claw at his mate with everything he has. It's the most erotic, violent dance his kind knows, and only a prime Alpha would be able to subdue him. His head roars with the need for Hannibal to chase him, to catch him in his claws, to throw him down and snap his jaws at Will's throat to keep him down out of self-preservation.

"F-fuck," he hisses, his hand flying from his throat to between his legs, shoulder aching, fingers curling as he sinks one inside of himself. He's wet and lax, his cock throbbing with the need for tightness and touch. He imagines Hannibal's mouth on him but that threatens to finish him too soon.

It all does. Hannibal's cruelty, his precision, the way his mouth and teeth would lavish Will with praise and pain in equal measure. Hannibal doesn't do anything halfway and that would extend to his behavior in mounting and claiming Will. He will expose Will's spine, flay his lungs, split him apart at the center.

Will's breath escapes him suddenly, and he drives another finger into his body, harsh, imagines it's Hannibal doing this to him. He won't be gentle, he won't be kind. He doesn't have it in him. Hannibal loves like he kills – with precision, with utter clarity and brutality. Just to see what will happen.

He curls his fingers up, tries to find that spot inside of him that feels so Goddamn good when it's touched, but the angle is all wrong and Will usually can't find it without toys or the right angle, and his shoulder is in no position to help him. He growls and curls his fingers, uses his knuckles to stretch himself wide, mimicking a knot. He imagines Hannibal fucking him while knotted, piercing that place he planted his seed.

He imagines the snarl Hannibal would let out, when Will reminds him that he can fuck and mount as much as he likes, but he won't give Will children. He's impotent, robbed of his virility through Will's hand, and he laughs and growls at the same time.

"How the mighty fall, Doctor Lecter," Will breathes, tightens his hand on the head of his cock and closes his eyes, breathing deep and slow. Vanilla and bleach, he hates that smell.

The Hannibal is his head snarls, leans in and laves his tongue over Will's neck. Will whimpers, bites his lower lip to stifle the sound, arches up to the slosh of water and the wet, clinging heat of steam in the bathroom. He opens his eyes, sees the mirror fogged up, the white swirling plaster of the clouds.

He growls again, adds a third finger, knots himself with his knuckles and tugs cruelly at the head of his cock. Imagines it's Hannibal's hand, tightening, tightening, driving him up and up. His stomach sinks in, his lungs seize with salt water, and his orgasm hits him as he imagines wrapping his hands around Hannibal's throat and squeezing, and he presses his lips to Hannibal's mouth so that their last breath is shared.

He cries out sharply, back arching violently enough that his hip screeches in protest and his shoulder pops with the force of his movement. The pain follows and overrides the pleasure quickly and Will curses, tugging his knuckles against his rim to chase the way his body bears down, tightens, swallows back the need clawing in his chest.

The creature in him is howling so loudly, it's a wonder the whole country can't hear it.

He breathes deep, pulls his fingers out and settles his arms on either side of the tub while his toes twitch, and he sinks his knees below the water, sitting upright to try and get them to warm up.

After a moment, a knock comes at his door. "Will?" It's Hannibal. "Are you alright?"

Will huffs, rolls his eyes, and debates inviting Hannibal in. He can't see the milk of his release below the bubbles, but he knows it's there. Hannibal has such a good sense of smell, he wonders if Hannibal would be able to smell his slick and his seed even under the vanilla and bleach.

"I'm fine," Will replies. "Knocked my hip on the bath."

There's a pause, but Will doesn't hear Hannibal retreat. "Perhaps putting some ice on it will help," his voice comes after a while. "Have you been doing any physical therapy for it, or your shoulder? Muscle conditioning?"

Will grins at the ceiling. "You want to check my meat for tenderization, Doctor Lecter?" he calls.

"I want to see you well," Hannibal replies.

Will huffs. "I'm fine," he says. "Goodnight."

Another pause, then; "Goodnight, Will." Then his footsteps recede, and Will sighs. He closes his eyes and bends his legs, and lets the water rush up over his shoulders and into his hair.

 

 

Will is lying on the couch in the study, this time, on his non-injured side.

His head is in Hannibal's lap, and he's fighting the urge to close his eyes and doze off. He knows as soon as he does, he'll start to purr, and he won't give Hannibal the satisfaction or the advantage.

Hannibal's fingers card through his hair, occasionally retracing the line of his jaw, his cheekbone, the outward curve of his eye socket, before returning to his curls. Never his neck. Hannibal hasn't touched his neck in days. Will aches for it.

The fire burns happily, warm and welcoming. Will's eyes are on it, and he wants to dive into it and let it consume him.

"Do you think you would have made a good father?" he asks.

Hannibal's fingers go still, just for a moment, before they continue petting through Will's hair. "Honestly, I'm not sure," he replies, just as quiet. Will hums and listens to the sound of him turning a page in his book. He can't imagine all this firelight reading is good for Hannibal's eyes, but the Lecter house does lack one thing, which is an overabundance of electricity. It's all in the kitchen, and in Will's bathroom. Will hasn't seen an electric light in use or a computer, or phone since he came here except for the old rotary one by the wine table in the study. "I like to think so, just as any Alpha would, but when I try to imagine it, my mind shies from the subject."

Will hums. "Because of bad dreams?"

"Self-preservation," Hannibal replies, like an agreement.

Will's lip twitches in a smile. Hannibal brushes his fingertips over the scar on his cheek in answer. "I think you would have," he says after a moment. "With the right mate. The right child."

"An opportunity you made sure to deny me."

"There are other Omegas," Will says without heat. "Other women. You and Chiyoh would make cute babies."

Hannibal huffs a laugh. "That would be like mating with a beloved cousin," he replies. Not a sister. Will isn't sure the distinction is intentional or not.

He blinks, and sighs. "You said you did not know me, but you knew me," he murmurs. Hannibal turns another page in his book. "Does any part of you want to know me like that?"

"Do you think I will give you more ways to hurt me?" Hannibal asks, without heat. He sounds genuinely curious.

Will blows a wayward curl out of his eyes, smiling when Hannibal immediately collects it and brushes it into place with the rest of his hair. "Maybe," he says. "I've always been granted that particular honor."

"To hurt me?"

"To know you."

Hannibal hums, and doesn't answer for a long time. Will's eyelids are heavy, he should go to bed, but he doesn't want to move. He's sated and content with food and wine and the company of the only person who has at once made him feel so chaotic and so settled. Such is the power of Hannibal's designs.

"I confess, Will, I want to know you," he finally answers. "Intimately."

Will's lips twitch, too tired to smile. "You've known me more intimately than anyone else," he says.

Hannibal's fingers go still. "You told me we weren't mated," he begins, and Will nods, once. "Did we ever sleep together?"

"No," Will replies. His smile widens at the noise Hannibal lets out at that. He sounds almost disappointed.

"But you've considered it," Hannibal presses, still just as calm, but Will can feel the tension in his thigh, under his cheek. "You wouldn't bring it up, otherwise."

"Maybe I just like toying with you."

"Like a cat and a mouse?"

"Like two dogs with a rope toy," Will replies. "We're equals, Doctor Lecter."

Hannibal scoffs. "If we were equals, you would call me by name."

Will smiles and turns onto his back, so he can look up at Hannibal's face. Hannibal sets his book to one side, meets his eyes, dark and warm. He knows what Hannibal is waiting for – confession, yielded ground. Territory that Will cannot give, will not give, until he's ready.

"There was a moment," Will breathes, as Hannibal cups his cheek and brushes his thumb under Will's eye. "I had a gun in my hand and I was ready to shoot. We had caught another killer, a different one, and you touched me and smiled at me and I knew, I knew then, that whatever happened between us would be violent, and cruel, and I wanted to follow that rabbit hole into whatever darkness laid beyond it."

Hannibal blinks, and tilts his head to one side.

"That is the man I knew," Will finishes. "That is the man I will call by name."

Hannibal sighs. "I may never be that man again," he says, and looks up, towards the fire. His hand is still so tender on Will's face, Will cannot imagine how this man can touch him, can speak to him so intimately and with such wounded pride, and not remember him at all.

"No one can ever truly outrun their past, Doctor Lecter," he murmurs, and covers Hannibal's hand with his own, touches the pads of his fingers to Hannibal's knuckles, and bites his lower lip when Hannibal's eyes meet his again. "Even you."

 

 

The cleaning crew come again the next day, though they spend most of their attention on the waning garden. Will oversees it, as much as he can claim to when he spends most of the day in the shade of the tree outside his window, on the bench where Hannibal first found him.

He watches Elias as he cuts of the dead branches of a tree, a few yards from him. The Alpha is flushed despite the cold air, exertion making him red-cheeked. He really is beautiful, and Will wonders if it was a similar Alpha who inspired the Statue of David.

Chiyoh approaches and sits on the bench without a word, her heels tucked up onto the edge of it, arms folded across her knees. She joins Will in watching, and when Will doesn't say anything, she turns her head and fixes him with her dark eyes.

Will raises an eyebrow, daring, chin lifted in challenge.

"You're playing a game of cat and mouse with a lion," she says.

Will huffs, rolling his eyes. "A caged one," he replies. "I don't owe that version of him any loyalty, or love."

She cocks her head to one side, her mouth pressed tight and angled upwards at the corner. "But he has both, all the same."

Will bites his lower lip, growls at her in a soft warning. "You have no idea what I feel," he says tightly, "or who I feel it for."

"I know more than you think, and see more than you know," Chiyoh replies. "You must be careful."

"Are you afraid he'll snap? Hurt me?"

"No," she says with a shake of her head. "I don't think he could."

"Then you don't know him at all," Will says. "I wear the proof of what he's capable of, and that's only the things a person can walk away from."

She sighs. "No, Will." She shakes her head, and stands. "The dragonfly in the cellar is proof of what he's capable of."

Will bares his teeth at her, squinting in the sunlight. "That man was not his kill," he says. "It was yours. It was mine."

She smiles. "Was it?"

She leaves him, seething and silent. Will tightens his fingers on his thighs and shoves himself to his feet, grabs his cane and goes back into the house. He doesn't come out for days, until gnawing hunger and boredom draw him to the kitchen. He feasts on whatever he can find, petulant and childish with his defensive eating. Hannibal will have to go hunting again soon, if he is to keep both of them sated.

He smiles when he thinks of it. If there is anything that will jar his memory, he supposes it will be that particular kind of art. Instinct calls to instinct, hunger to hunger. Hannibal cannot kill how the Ripper killed, until he is once again that man.

He sighs, and tries to sleep. He dreams of Elias, dead and glistening in the water, and Hannibal walks on top of the waves and tries to lure Will out to drown.

 

 

"Will, did I ever have a mate?"

Will swallows, sets his wine glass down, and regards Hannibal over their meal. They're eating chicken today – Will recognizes the distinctive shape of the wings and legs. He'd never thought he'd miss the taste of human flesh, until he tried it and knew that specific richness. It's the same way people get addicted to drugs.

"Not that I know of," he replies.

Hannibal frowns into his wine glass, and takes a drink. "I find it odd, then, that I did not pursue you," he says. Will blinks at him, and looks away when Hannibal meets his eyes. "Or perhaps I did, and this is one of those times you swore you would lie to me."

Will's lips twitch in a smile. "You'd be able to tell," he replies. "Our breeds can't hide that sort of thing. You'd have a Voice, we both would. And bites."

Hannibal nods, accepting that.

"You dated a woman I was in love with, for a while," Will says, slanting his gaze to Hannibal to gauge his reaction. Hannibal merely blinks, and tilts his head to one side, meeting Will's eyes. "I imagine, in your perfect world, we could have all been happily mated and married. Alpha, female, Omega, as the law allows. But I was too sick, and she was too soft."

"Did I know you loved her?" Hannibal asks.

Will nods.

Hannibal frowns. "I don't remember this woman," he murmurs. "What was her name?"

"Alana," Will replies, achingly soft. His fingers curl around his fork and he stabs a slice of potato with more vehemence than he intended. "She's married now, to a woman whose brother you maimed."

"Maimed?"

"You hypnotized him, and he cut off pieces of his face and fed them to my dogs."

Hannibal huffs a laugh. "That sounds…rather base of me."

"You were emotional at the time."

Hannibal hums. "I imagine that was, somehow, your fault."

Will raises an eyebrow, looks at Hannibal, and swallows his mouthful. "You can't blame me for everything you feel," he says airily.

"I think I must disagree. I don't feel much of anything, save the moments and memories that have your mark on them."

Will swallows, loudly.

"With that line of reasoning, one could argue I'm not allowed to feel how I feel about you," he replies. "You are not the man I know."

"And you are the same man I knew, but you are a stranger all the same," Hannibal says after a quiet moment. Will doesn't answer, and he sighs, looking down at his wine glass again. He reaches out and takes it, sipping from it. The sight of his throat sets Will's teeth on edge.

"Have you had any more dreams, Doctor Lecter?" Will asks.

Hannibal nods, setting his glass down. "They come in snatches. Some of them are just…colors, and light. Imprints of emotion." He pauses, and looks at Will again. "But they do not just come in my sleep, now. I sit here with you and I feel like we have done it a thousand times before."

"We have," Will replies.

"I desperately wish to recover my memories, Will," Hannibal says. "But I am at a loss as to how. If what you say is true, I cannot return to America, nor can I visit any of the places I once stayed. My future, and the future of my memory, rests entirely in your hands. You alone have the power to revive them."

"Interesting," Will says coolly, "since I only want to see you end."

"Why haven't you, then?" Hannibal challenges, his eyes flashing. "You're almost completely mobile. You could kill me and flee before Chiyoh found my body, be in the wind before she could catch you. You could…" He hesitates, his upper lip curls before he controls his expression. "You could leave, and be with Elias. But you haven't. Why?"

Will wants to lie, he wants to, but what Hannibal said is right; he's a frightfully honest man. "Because it won't mean anything, if I kill you, and you don't remember why."

Hannibal regards him, and then he smiles. It shows his teeth and Will shivers, presses his lips together, and looks down at his plate. "You're a man that seeks understanding," he murmurs. Will swallows. "Your kills mean nothing to you if your victim doesn't know why."

"A mindset you never shared," Will replies archly. "My kills are personal. Yours are…practical. Most of the time."

"Most of the time?"

"Sometimes you wanted to show off," Will says. "You wanted to show me what you could do." He huffs, rolls his eyes. "Typical Alpha."

"Did you see my kills as a kind of courtship ritual?"

"That's what they were."

Hannibal hums, tilts his head to one side. "Interesting," he murmurs. Will's eyes flash to him. "So, if I were to try courting you again, I must start killing again."

"What? No," Will says, grimacing and ignoring the creature in his chest that purrs, arches its back, screams Yes, yes. "That's not what I said."

"Not what you said," Hannibal returns, "but what you meant, all the same."

Will shakes his head, stifles a whine in the back of his throat. His head hurts, sharp behind his eyes. He wants to sleep.

"No," he replies again, rests his elbows on the table and rakes his hands through his hair. His fingers are shaking, his breathing unsteady with how much he wants Hannibal to come back to him. "It won't be the same."

He hears Hannibal's chair move back, and then Hannibal stands, and circles the table. Will shivers when he feels Hannibal's warm hands on his shoulders, thumbs working into the tight knots at the base of his neck. He sighs, relaxing despite himself, as he feels Hannibal's forehead rest against his hair.

"Be still," he murmurs, flattening his hands on either side of Will's neck, thumbs running up the bones of his spine until they meet his skull. Will swallows, lets his hands fall, and they curl on the table, not quite fists. Hannibal's fingers are strong and sure as they rub at his tense muscles, soothe the clench of his jaw and cup his face. Hannibal forces him back gently, makes him straighten in his seat, and tilts Will's head up so that Hannibal can kiss his forehead.

Will closes his eyes when Hannibal's nose presses to his hair, and he breathes in deeply like he's aching for Will's scent. Will swallows, and can't help himself – he takes one of Hannibal's hands and drags it to his neck, covers it and makes it like a chokehold around his throat. His chest tightens when he hears Hannibal's shaky growl.

"How far would you go, Will," he murmurs, "to remake me into the man I was?"

Will likes how Hannibal's fingers tighten on his neck when he swallows. "To the moon and back."

He feels Hannibal smile, and the Alpha's gentle kiss against his hair. Hannibal swallows and Will turns his head, his forehead finds Hannibal's jaw and rests there. The Alpha smells so good, old books and candles and sweet wine.

"Then, perhaps," Hannibal murmurs, "you should ask yourself what it was that made me love you in the first place."

His hands fall away, and he returns to his seat, leaving Will breathless and shaking, warm all over. His thighs tense and press together, and he touches his neck, feels Hannibal's heat there. He meets the Alpha's eyes, and Hannibal smiles.

"I couldn't pinpoint a time," Will breathes. "I didn't even know what you felt was love, until you were gone. After you gutted me."

Hannibal blinks at him. "But surely there must have been a moment," he says. "Was I that good at hiding my feelings?"

"Hindsight is twenty-twenty, they say."

Hannibal smiles, and takes another drink of wine. "Then you must look behind," he says, "if you are to ever move forward."

Will nods, presses his lips together, and looks away. He can do that. He's been doing it for years. His fingers flatten on the table, and he stands, appetite gone.

"I need to rest," he says.

Hannibal nods. If he feels any sense of loss at the lack of Will's company, he doesn't show it. "Sleep well, Will."

"And you, Doctor Lecter. Goodnight."

 

 

It comes, as suddenly as the flash of a meteor as it enters the Earth's atmosphere. Realization. Will wonders how he didn't see it before.

Elias clearly takes after his mother, with her blonde hair and bright blue eyes. And after so long, his father had lost a lot of his stockiness and his Alpha strength – if he ever had it, given how young he must have been when Hannibal first caged him.

Elias is the dragonfly's son.

He has the same nose, the same bright light in his eyes. Will can't smell any physical tie to the Alpha, given that when they'd met the man had been sick with disease, dirty, and reeked of the cells, but Will is certain there is some familial bond between them.

The cleaning crew finishes with the garden at the end of the week, with perfect timing, as the grass has started to gain frost in the early hours that doesn't wane until well into the afternoon. Will is sitting on his bench in the sunlight when Elias approaches him.

"Another hard day well spent," the Alpha says by way of greeting, wiping his forehead with a cloth. Will smiles at him and slides to the end of the bench to give him room to sit.

"We should celebrate, then," Will replies. "I still have the port you gave me."

"You didn't drink it?" Elias asks, eyebrows raised.

Will's smile widens, he lowers his eyes and gives a shrug that appears shy and bashful. "I wanted to save it," he murmurs.

He wonders if Elias knows what happened to his father, all those years ago. He's about the right age, that Will imagines he was born close to or shortly after his father disappeared. He wonders if Elias' mother knows what happened here, or if the Alpha was another in a too-long list of men who disappear from their wives and Omegas, never to be seen nor heard from again.

Elias smiles, bright and happy, and nods to the book in Will's lap. "What are you reading?"

Will looks down at them. He takes the Lithuanian copy and hands it to Elias. Their fingers brush when he does it, and it creates no warmth, no spark of pleasure that can compare to when Hannibal touches him. Will curls his fingers and bites his lower lip, putting on the show all the same.

"It's a collection of poems by Catallus," he replies. "And the translation. I'm trying to learn the language, but it's hard to learn when I cannot hear it, and old poems don't exactly help."

Elias' smile widens, and he opens the book to the same number that Will is on. He reads it, his eyes widening, and his cheeks darken in a rosy blush. "These are…" He clears his throat. "Erotic poems."

Will smiles. "Yes," he replies. "Will you read one to me? So I can hear it?"

Elias' eyes flash to Will, darkening abruptly, a flicker of red in them. He clears his throat again and lifts the book up, so he can read. The words flow smoothly from his lips, his accent soft and rough as though Will can understand it. But he knows which one Elias is reading;

"And when I left you, I was so on fire with all your brilliant and ironic humor, that after dinner I was still excited." Will bites his lower lip. He likes Catallus' poems most, for they remind him a lot of Hannibal. The words in another language are deeply intimate, Will thinks, for though he cannot understand them, he knows what they are. It must be how Hannibal feels when his emotions rise up and he knows they have no reason nor outlet except Will's presence. "And sleep refused to touch my eyes with quiet. In bed and totally unstrung by passion, tossing in agony, I prayed for sunrise, when I could be with you in conversation."

Elias pauses, and Will smiles at him, gentle and encouraging. "Keep going," he whispers, and rests his hand on Elias' thigh. "Please?"

Elias smiles, bites his lower lip, and nods, turning his eyes back to the book. "But when my limbs, exhausted by their labor, lay on the bed in nearly fatal stillness, I made this poem for you, my beloved." Will closes his eyes and memorizes the way that words sounds. Beloved – 'Mylimasis'. He imagines Hannibal's voice whispering it to him, in the dark.

"So you could take the measure of my sorrow. I beg you to be kind to my petition, darling, for if you aren’t, if you’re cruel, then Nemesis will turn on you in outrage."

Will huffs a small laugh. "Do you think it strange, how often men call upon Gods to carry out their vengeance?" he asks.

Elias blinks, and lowers the book. He smiles. "I think it's only natural," he replies, and Will tilts his head to one side, keeps his shoulders lax and his smile vacant and welcoming. "Men ask for things they cannot do themselves. They've done it since the world was new."

"I think men that will not do themselves what needs to be done, are weak men," Will says.

Elias' eyes flash with something unnamable and dark, and Will swallows, looking down at his English copy. "Did your mother raise you alone?" he asks.

Elias nods. "My father left us when I was still a child," he replies.

"Is that what she told you?"

He looks up to see Elias frowning.

Will stands. "Come with me," he says, holding out his hand. "I want to show you something."

Elias takes his hand, frowning in confusion, but lets Will lead him towards the house. Chiyoh took Hannibal into town that morning, and Will wonders if Hannibal did it on purpose, to leave him alone with Elias. He is the only one of the cleaning crew still left.

Will retrieves two glasses from the kitchen, and goes into the study where he left the port bottle, knowing Hannibal would find it there. He opens it and pours half of the bottle into each large glass, and offers one to Elias.

"I couldn't," Elias says, blushing. "It was a gift."

"I won't tell if you won't," Will replies. He sets the book down, so he can use his cane, and leads the way towards the cellar doors.

"Where are we going?" Elias asks.

"Somewhere secret," Will replies. He opens the door and takes his cane again. The candles haven't been lit since he left, but the scent of rotting meat and musty damp wafts up to them, making his nose wrinkle. He walks into the cellar, pleased to hear Elias following. "I didn't see it, at first – the resemblance. But now I do."

He gets to the bottom of the stairs, finds a box of matches next to one of the candles, and lights it. There's a small amount of light coming from the door, illuminating the glint of the dragonfly's lower wings, but as Will lights more, the cellar becomes alight with a warm, welcoming glow.

Elias gasps, and drops his glass of port. It shatters, spilling over their shoes.

"Tėvas?" Elias whispers, his eyes wide and horrified as he gazes on the dragonfly. Will assumes it means 'Father'. Elias steps forward, his fingers trembling, and Will stands back, sipping his port glass, his eyes dark on the door and waiting to see if Hannibal or Chiyoh have come home and want to investigate.

Elias turns to look at Will. Tears are running down his face and he shudders around his breath. "Did you…who did this?" he demands.

"Hannibal Lecter imprisoned him," Will replies. "For killing his sister."

Elias turns back to the man, sobbing. He goes to the man's feet and touches them, not minding or blind to the decay and the mushrooms that have taken over most of his flesh, except his face. Strange, Will thinks – he would expect that soft tissue to go first. Elias' eyes meet his father's, wide and staring, and he swallows.

"We have to take him down," he says. "I have to bury him."

"No," Will snarls, more vehemently than he meant to. Elias turns to him, frowning around his tears, and growls softly in anger. "You can't remove it, otherwise he'll know I brought you down here. He'll hurt me."

"Why would he hurt you?" Elias demands.

Will swallows, looks away. "You don't know him like I do," he says. "He's…possessive. Controlling."

Elias' shoulders sag, his instincts reacting to the more immediate stressor of an Omega in need of help. Will swallows and takes another drink of port, makes his hands shake and his breathing become unsteady when Elias approaches him.

"Will," he says gently, and cups Will's hands. Will looks up, lets his gaze drop, looks away and bites his lower lip. He thinks of how he behaved in the Criminally Insane Ward, imagines Alana and Chilton's sympathetic eyes on him and thinks it's always so damn easy to fool Alphas into seeing what they want to see.

His eyes water and he curls his fingers tightly around the glass, draws his hands to his chest and with them come Elias, until he's standing so close that Will could rip out his throat if he wanted to.

"Please," he whispers. "He can't know you and I were alone together."

"I can help you," Elias whispers. He touches Will's face with one hand and Will fights down the urge to growl. Chiyoh's words flash in his head – 'Your body knows the touch of its Alpha. It rejects all others'. He's in control, this is his design, and he will see it through.

He lifts his eyes, and Elias' face is blurry with his tears. "How?" he demands, wretched, raw.

"Come away with me," Elias says. Will bites his lower lip, shakes his head, tries to draw back but his shoulders hit the stairs and he can't retreat and Elias, as Will knew he would, doesn't let him. His hand is gentle on Will's face and his scent, that blackberry-elderflower scent, fills Will's nostrils. "I can protect you from him. I'm not afraid."

"You should be," Will says, teeth gritted, the creature in his chest purring. Oh, he's very dangerous, and there's nowhere you can hide.

"Does he let you out of the house, unescorted?" Elias asks. Will frowns, and nods, looking up into Elias' eyes. They're genuine and so pretty. Will imagines clawing at his face and tearing the skin from his flesh, imagines what the tender parts of his cheeks and neck taste like. Elias smiles, showing his teeth. "I will come to you, in the town. He doesn't know where I live. He won't know to look for you, with me."

"I, no -." Will shakes his head, pushes weakly at Elias' chest like he's too small and fragile to do more. Elias' other hand moves from his own to the other side of Will's neck, gentle, presumptive. Will bares his teeth and it feels like a warning that he doesn't heed.

"I'll keep you safe," Elias vows.

Will swallows. "Do you promise?" he whispers, wide-eyed and afraid.

Elias nods. "I swear," he replies. Then, his eyes darken, and he looks over his shoulder towards the dragonfly. A growl rumbles in his chest, and he looks back at Will. "I'll make him pay for what he's done. To both of us."

Will makes himself tremble, and nods. "The day after tomorrow," he whispers. "I'll go into the town. Find me by the church."

"Okay," Elias says, and before Will can stop him, he leans in and presses their mouths together. Will tenses, stifling his snarl and resists the urge to smash the port glass into Elias' neck, to watch him bleed out and then hoist him up to join his father in decay.

The kiss ends, and Will swallows, touches his lip and tries not to make it look like he's wiping it away. Elias smiles, pets a hand through his hair, and sighs.

"I should leave, before they come back," he says.

Will nods, voice tight. "Go," he says.

Elias leaves, and Will takes his cane and downs the rest of the port. He smashes the glass against the ground along with Elias', sure that Hannibal won't come down here and see it. He doesn't come down here, now that Will is no longer a prisoner. He feels no need to look upon the dragonfly now that he has the man who made it.

He hobbles up the stairs and goes straight to the shower, wanting to cleanse himself of Elias' presumptive touch that makes him itch like he's breaking out with poison oak. His skin burns, and he scratches at his neck and over his mouth until his skin is tender and red.

He laughs at himself, and wonders if he'll ever feel clean again.

When he comes out of the shower, dressed and acting like nothing is wrong, he finds Hannibal in the study and goes to him, climbs onto the couch beside him and lets out a plaintive whine. Hannibal blinks, but softens to him immediately, and moves his hands from his lap so Will can rest his forehead on Hannibal's shoulder, curl his fingers around Hannibal's thigh.

"Will," Hannibal says gently. His hand goes to Will's nape and Will sighs, trembling, the creature in his chest abruptly soothed in the presence of its mate. "What's the matter?"

Will can't tell him, for that would ruin his plan. "I had a bad dream," he says quietly.

Hannibal huffs a laugh, and Will frowns, straightening up and lifting his eyes to meet Hannibal's.

"There," Hannibal says quietly, fondly. He pets a stray lock of wet hair from Will's forehead. "There's the first lie. You're getting more comfortable, I see."

Will bites his lip, and lays down on the couch, his head pillowed on Hannibal's thigh. Hannibal doesn't stop petting him, and Will falls asleep to the sound of the Alpha humming a gentle song.

 

 

Will is sure Chiyoh suspects something. But if she does, she doesn’t say it. She spends more time around the house, watching Will now that there are no cleaning crew members she has to interact with. Will bristles whenever he sees her, remembering how much he'd hated her on the boat. Time, it seems, has tempered a lot of his anger towards her, leaving seething animosity that sits like a cat waiting to pounce. He wonders how he might kill her – gently, at first, hands around her neck while he sucked the last of her air from her lungs.

Or maybe quickly. Hit her with a damn car. A tragic but ultimately unremarkable death. He thinks that would piss her off more.

"Elias is the dragonfly's son," he tells her. After all, when he goes missing, she will need to tell Hannibal who to suspect, who to hunt. She blinks at him, and purses her lips. "You have to look out for him. He may seek revenge. His mother, too."

She nods. "I must protect him from all things," she replies. "But especially you."

Will smiles. "Me? Oh, you can't protect him from me," he says coolly. "His heart is in my hands."

"And your forehead is in my sights," she replies. "I didn't kill you when he loved you. I will not hesitate to do it now, if you test me."

"Promises," Will purrs, and she huffs and leaves him to his own devices.

 

 

There is one potential flaw in Will's plan, and he knows it's there.

If Hannibal really, truly has lost his memory, and his affection for Will is as shallow as a swimming pool, he will not care if Will leaves. He will not think to look for him, and hunt him down.

This is, of course, a ridiculous notion, if even half of Hannibal's conscience remains. But still, it is a very small possibility, and one Will must plan for. If Hannibal doesn't come for him, Will must be able and ready to kill Elias and flee from him, go off somewhere else. He will go West, he thinks, and maybe find that apartment in Italy where Hannibal holed up with Bedelia. He thinks he would like it there, in Florence, with the gold and the stone and the lovely galleries.

Someone will come for him, eventually. He's sure of that.

 

 

He meets Elias at the church. The Alpha smiles at him, beckons him over, and Will gets into his car. He only has his cane and a small messenger bag, a book of poetry tucked into a change of clothes, for appearances' sake. Hannibal and Chiyoh had been in the house and he couldn't be seen to flee with anything larger than what would be required of a day's journey.

"Were you followed?" Elias asks, as he starts the car and drives out of town.

Will shakes his head, and smiles.

They drive in silence for a while. Will starts to feel prickly as the Lecter mansion disappears from sight in the side-view mirror. His stomach starts to ache, abruptly, robbed of the knowledge of where his mate is. Who knows when he'll see Hannibal again? He hopes it's soon, but he can't assure himself of that. He has no idea, realistically, when Hannibal might find him, or when he'll start to look.

He swallows, tamps down the sorrow building in his chest, and sets his eyes forward.

Elias looks over to him, and rests his hand on Will's thigh. Will goes tense at the touch. "Everything's going to be okay," he says. He reaches into a bag by Will's feet and hands him a bottle of water. "Drink. Relax."

Will takes the bottle, unscrews it and swallows half of it in one go. He shakes his head, makes his inhale unsteady and weak. "He'll hunt us down," he says quietly.

Elias' smile widens. "I'm counting on it."

Will frowns at him. Elias takes his hand away and settles both on the steering wheel, his eyes dark and on the road. Something stinging starts in his scent, and Will wipes at his nose, frowning. His fingers have blood on them. He touches his nose again, finds it wet, and looks down at the bottle of water. His vision is going blurry.

He laughs to himself. The seal had been broken already before he drank. Stupid, the creature in his chest hisses. Will is inclined to agree, and wonders why it didn't occur to him to become suspicious when Elias immediately recognized his father's corpse.

"I knew what my father had done," Elias says, in Will's silence. Will swallows, leans his head back against the car seat, tries to keep his eyes open. "But he didn't die until you showed up. I recognized you, and Chiyoh told me…she told me you killed him."

Will huffs a laugh, his smile off-kilter and lazy. His chest feels heavy, his breathing weak. He wipes at his nose again with an uncoordinated swipe. "You're a better actor than I gave you credit for," he says.

Elias' jaw tightens. "So are you."

"If you knew what I'd done, what he'd done, why wait until now?"

Elias smiles, huffs through his nose. "My father was imprisoned and tortured for years," he replies. "It's only fair you feel some of his pain, and when Lecter comes for you, I'll make sure you both feel every wound, every blow. Until your bodies give out. Until you're begging me to end your life."

Will grins. "I didn't kill your father," he breathes. His eyes can't stay open anymore, and his head lolls forward, weak and limp. "I just remade him."

Elias grunts. "I don't believe you."

Will sighs. His consciousness is falling, Icarus stars and deep water calling him home. He rests his head against the window, listens to the rut and rumble of the car, and whatever Elias gave him takes over, until even the creature in his chest stops yowling.

 

 

He wakes to sharp pain. His head jerks to one side, only to stop as his body can't follow. He groans, spitting out a wad of bloody saliva onto the floor, and blinks open blurry eyes.

Concrete. His fingers curl, bound behind his back. He's tied to a chair – too-upright, too sturdy for him to tilt. Bolted to the floor.

He hears someone hiss, and straightens to see Elias cupping his hand. His knuckles are bloody, and Will looks at him. One of his brows is too thick, bruised enough to almost cover his eye. His cheek aches sharply, and his cheekbone feels broken. His jaw has the freshest bruise, and flares when he licks his lips and tilts his head back.

"You're awake," Elias says sharply, straightening. "Good."

Will forces himself to smile. His shoulder and hip ache tenderly, protesting the uncomfortable pose. He takes a deep breath in through his teeth and leans forward as much as he can, so he can meet Elias' eyes. "Can't imagine it's satisfying, beating me when I can't scream."

"Are you going to?" Elias asks. "Scream?"

Will shakes his head. He gathers up another wad of saliva and spits it between his bare feet. His toes are cold against the concrete, and he frowns at himself, seeing that he's been stripped down to his underwear. He wants to roll his eyes – classic intimidation moves. Elias wants to make him feel weak and vulnerable, preying on his Omega instincts to placate. He wonders if Elias expects him to bare his throat, to whimper, to spread his legs and offer himself up in an attempt to appease the Alpha. Will has read several case studies where sexual gratification was the only way an Omega stayed alive.

He won't do that, but he wonders if it would work.

Elias snarls, kneels down between Will's legs and puts his bruised hands on Will's knees, forcing him to keep them open. Will growls at him, showing his teeth as best he can. "You will," he promises, low and soft. "I want to hear you begging for your Alpha, pleading with him to come rescue you. You think he'll do anything except run to your side?"

"Are you blind?" Will snarls. "I have no mating bites, no Voice. He's not mine."

Elias huffs, and stands. He cups Will's face and Will jerks away, but can't go far, and settles, trembling harshly when Elias' hands flatten over his neck. His tongue stings, aches, and Will growls again. The chill of the room is getting to him, now that he's conscious.

"You won't win," he murmurs, heaving in a deep breath. He meets Elias' dark, reddened eyes. "But I'd love to see you try."

Elias smiles. "You should get some rest," he purrs, and releases Will's face. Will frowns, bites his lower lip, and hisses when his teeth meet the split in his lip, ignored over the rest of the pain in his face, but rearing up sharply when touched. "We'll see if your attitude changes in the morning."

"You'd better kill me now," Will calls after him. "If you don't, he will kill you. At least I'll be gentle."

Elias stops at the door, turns and looks at Will for one more moment.

"Gentle," he repeats, derisive and soft. "I wonder if you even know the meaning of the word."

He touches a light switch by the door, and the room is plunged into darkness. The door closes behind him, and Will bows his head, and sighs.

 

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Come to me, and I will bring you rest.

This cold, and this dark, Will imagines he's at the bottom of the ocean. He's sinking, sinking, and there is no light, no warmth in the atmosphere. His lungs are intact, for now, his ribs not broken, but he knows that will be the next place Elias' attention turns. Or, perhaps, his legs. Something that would render him immobile and wounded, but wouldn't kill him. Elias won't kill him until Hannibal shows up.

The ocean calls to him, and Will wants to run to answer, but Hannibal is not with him. They die together, or they do not die at all.

Will cannot die. He won't let himself. Not until Hannibal knows. Not until it's his own hands around Hannibal's throat.

Elias doesn't have a Voice – if he did, he would have used it already. But he hasn't, meaning he can't. Will takes that knowledge, factors it in with the persistent chill. He will need warmth, soon, or he might freeze to death. He takes note to keep track of how much the desire to sleep overwhelms him. It would be just his luck, to succumb to hypothermia before either his or Elias' revenge plans are realized.

Will huffs, rolls his head back and blinks at the ceiling. He presses his thighs together, shivers when even his own flesh feels cold against him. The chair is made of wood, so it doesn't hold the heat, but the feet are metal, and Will can't keep his calves and heels away from it. He wonders what it's like to get frostbite, to peel your skin away from your flesh when it clings to the metal.

He imagines serving Elias' blood in a bowl of gazpacho. Hannibal would like that.

The door opens, and Will flinches when the bright lights come back on. Elias is not alone, this time, but there are two other Alphas at his side. Will presses his lips together. A pack dynamic changes things.

"These men lost fathers to your mate, as well," Elias says, gesturing to the two of them. They both look much more outwardly threatening – cousins, he would guess, as their jaws match and they have the same physicality to them, but don't look enough alike to be brothers. They're large, imposing Alphas, red-eyed and baring their teeth at Will. They look like they'd make good money as bouncers at a club.

He huffs. "He's killed a lot of people," he replies. "I'm not shocked."

One of them snarls. Will assigns him the name 'Larry', in his head. The other, 'Curly'. "And how many have you killed, you little bitch?" Larry growls. His voice is rumbling and Will tenses.

He clucks his tongue against the inside of his scarred cheek, which isn't fractured. Probably. Elias is right-handed. "When I'm done with you, it'll be three more," he replies.

Curly laughs, a bellowing sound. There's a bite mark on his neck and Will tenses further. He might have a Voice, which changes things again. Will wants to make bacon from his neck. He lifts his chin in challenge.

Curly sees it, and growls. "The bitch sure has a lot of bark."

Elias smiles. He turns and says something to the cousins in Lithuanian, and Will snarls at them when they approach him. They lift him bodily from the chair, freeing his hands from behind it, and throw him to the ground. The way his legs are bound, Will has to turn onto his side to keep his ankles from breaking, and he immediately receives a boot in his back for the trouble.

He coughs, spitting up more blood, and takes in a deep breath. Pain is something he's intimately known for years, be it his head or his heart or something much more immediately physical. He can take a beating if he needs to.

Another kick comes to his stomach, and he doubles over, curling up and hissing in pain. Curly's hand goes to his hair, tightens, and hauls him to his knees. Will can't kneel properly with the way his feet are still bound to the chair, but Curly seems more than content to hold him up by his hair.

Elias has a phone in his hand. He dials it, and sets it on speaker. "Let's see how your mate likes the sound of you now," he murmurs.

Will bares his teeth, and Larry's fist comes down on his spine, right below the base of his neck. Curly's hand releases him and the cousins go back to kicking him in the chest and back. He groans, and closes his eyes, gritting his teeth.

He hears Elias, speaking softly in Lithuanian, and then Elias comes forward, holding the phone close to Will's mouth. Larry stomps down on Will's calf and Will hears something snap – his ankle, or just above it – and he snarls loudly, unwilling to make the sound something of pain.

"Will?" he hears Hannibal's voice, and he sounds fairly frantic. Will is almost disappointed.

"Uffizi," he grits out, groans when Larry kicks him in the gut again. "Ask Chiyoh about the Uffizi. And Jack."

"Will -." But Will receives a fist to his face for his trouble, and suddenly his ears are ringing, and he can't hear what else Hannibal says. Elias straightens and hangs up the call, his expression stormy.

"Let's try that again," he says, and dials the phone again. Will gets another hit to his stomach, his chest, his fractured ankle. The pain builds, and builds, water overcoming his head and dragging him under.

"Nick Boyle," he gasps, spits out blood and one of his molars. "Alana Bloom. Freddie Lounds. Mason Verger. Abigail Hobbs. Tobias Budge -."

"Shut up!" Larry bellows, and Will's head snaps to one side as he gets another blow to his temple. He's barely clinging to consciousness.

"Bedelia Du Maurier," he continues, barely rasping the words. "Anthony Dimmond. Frederick Chilton. Abel Gideon. Jack – ah, fuck." He bows his head, breathes in deeply, manages; "Jack Crawford."

Curly barks something in Lithuanian, and Elias growls, hanging up again and stuffing the phone into his pocket. The cousins back off and Will heaves an unsteady breath. One of his ribs is definitely broken, or cracked, but it hasn't punctured his lung. Still, it's hard to breathe.

Curly hauls him up by his hair and deposits him in the chair again, his arms around the back of it. Elias crouches in front of him and Will can barely keep his eyes open, but he tries. He won't show weakness now.

It's all in the eyes. See too much, don't see enough. Elias' soul is on fire.

"You think you're strong, don't you?" he murmurs, head tilted to one side. "Think you're smart?"

Will bares his teeth, swallows back his blood and resists the urge to spit it on Elias' face.

Elias smiles, off-kilter, showing his teeth. "We'll see," he purrs, and stands. Larry and Curly follow him out of the room, and the lights go off again. Will swallows, tries to sit in a way that doesn't make his ankle or his ribs scream at him, and can't.

He knows what this is. The reprieves will be few, but they will be long. Psychological torture, to leave him in the dark and the cold.

But Will has been in the darkness all of his life. It embraces him like a mother, like a lover. He closes his eyes and sighs, and lets the pain overwhelm his brain and drag him into unconsciousness.

 

 

He tries to remember the last time he was in this much pain. Not after the cliffs, no, that hadn’t hurt nearly as much. Not after Hannibal sliced his stomach open – the shock had come quickly, and the pain had been numb in comparison to how it felt to watch Abigail dying in front of him for the second time.

He can't honestly remember. The pain he's felt has always taken different forms – fire in his head, a burning in his nose, an ache so sharp and strong in his chest that it felt like his heart was breaking.

Maybe, he thinks to himself, maybe it was when you realized he loves you.

Maybe it had been in the Uffizi gallery, when his cuts had been small and his aches manageable, and Hannibal had smiled at him and declared how he'd remember Will at that moment, in that nanosecond of time and space when all else faded away.

That moment had brought with it so many others. Soft touches to his face and a gentle smile that promised him protection and light. Will has never felt that safe, except when it was dark and cold, and he watched his lighthouse of a home across the barren fields.

But those seas had been calm. Now he's tossed about on roaring, repugnant tides. He smells brine when he breathes in.

He lets out his breath, winces and grits his teeth at the shards of agony flaring up his side. He's too injured to walk, too beaten to be much of a threat, which he knows is by design. He closes his eyes, and the pendulum swings as it hasn't for months.

Thwum.

Hannibal enters the room, and he's dragging the bodies of Elias and Curly, one hand in each of their hair. Will asks where Larry is, and Hannibal says there wasn't much left of him to carry. He deposits them at Will's feet and smiles a charming smile, like a supplicant offering their God gifts that they know will be well-received.

"How would you like to display them, Will?" he purrs.

Will smiles back, licks his lips, and whispers; "Like dogs."

Thwum.

Just Elias, this time, still breathing, whimpering and scared when Hannibal advances on him. Will is standing, and he puts Elias in the chair, lets Will climb into his lap and kiss his forehead, touch his face, dig his claws in until the flesh gives and his smile gets wider, and wider, the chain of thorns tight around his heart as he hears his Alpha's purr.

"How would you like to eat him, Will?"

Will licks the blood from Elias' chin, and replies; "Heart first."

The door opens, and Will flinches from the light, the creature in his chest howling for the return of darkness. He opens his eyes and shivers when he sees it's just Elias again. He has the phone in his hand. It's open, revealing an ongoing call.

"Do you want him to save you, Will?" Elias asks.

Will swallows. "It would be a shame to kill you without him."

He hears Hannibal purring, before Elias snarls, and ends the call.

 

 

The thing about shock, as Will has been given to understand it (though, truthfully, he's not sure when the last time was that he was in real shock), is that eventually the person must come out of it. At least, that's the idea.

His body has started to go into shock. Or, maybe, he has been in it all this time, and he's finally coming out of it. The room feels too-warm on his skin, blisters and cuts at his face and his frozen hands. Elias unties him, feet first, and then lifts him from the chair and deposits him on the floor. Will's hands come forward to catch himself, land too slowly, and he growls when he tastes the concrete on his tongue.

"Eat," Elias growls, and kicks a plate at him. It has bread on it, and one of the first rules of prisoners of war is that you never deny the food they give you. If it has drugs in it, so be it – it won't be poisonous. Elias doesn't want to kill him yet.

He laughs as he eats, and it hurts his stomach to do it, but he can't stop. He laughs, and laughs.

"Something funny?" Elias demands.

"You're just like me," Will replies around a mouthful of bread and blood.

"I'm nothing like you."

Will's laugh grows claws, shreds his lungs from the inside. He finishes the bread and Elias takes the plate away before he can use it as a weapon. He rolls onto his back, bare flesh hitting the blood-stained concrete, and laughs loud enough that the stars will hear him.

"Yes you are!" he says, moaning when Elias lifts him up again and shoves him into the chair. He binds Will's arms to the seat of it, at his sides, leaves his legs free since one of them is broken and the other still hasn't quite healed.

Elias snarls, and then there are hands around his throat. Will smiles, breathes deep, and lets Elias squeeze.

"You are," he whispers again, in too much pain for coherency, but pain always gives way to pleasure. It's the law of the land. It's getting hard to talk, to see, and Elias bares his teeth and tightens his grip until Will can't talk anymore. His throat is bruised, and he coughs when Elias lets go, steps away, his eyes wide like his own vehemence and killer instinct scares him. Will laughs, right in his face, and Elias growls and turns away. He doesn't turn the lights off.

 

 

"How would you kill me, Will?" Hannibal's voice is soft, ringing in Will's ears. He's not here – Will would know him by the change in the air, the scent in his lungs. He breathes in deeply and licks his lips.

"With my bare hands."

"That sounds like a wonderful way to die."

Will laughs, and the pendulum swings. "Fit for a King."

Chapter Text

Thirst cakes his teeth and tongue like old blood. He swallows, bites his lower lip hard enough to bleed, and sucks on it for some kind of wet. He thinks of his time in prison, when he'd finally known, and seen it in Hannibal's eyes. The truth.

His mind had been clear, the same way it is now. Elias is like him – so blinded by revenge, so desperate to be the end to his own suffering. How long had he waited, and stewed, watched and spoke with Chiyoh and known his father was in the Lecter mansion, and prayed for the day when the man himself would return? Did his mother know?

Hell, Will could be in her house right now, for all he knows.

He smiles, licks along the empty pocket in his gums where the molar was punched out.

Larry comes back in, Curly following behind. Will swallows, and tenses when he sees that Curly is carrying a coil of wire in his hands.

He lifts his chin, and Curly smiles at him. He's missing teeth and his gums are black. Larry comes forward and unties Will's arms and Will snarls, rubbing at the ligature marks on his wrists.

"Stand up," Curly says. He's using his Voice, and Will's heart stutters, hearing the command. He can't fight it, any more than he could fight the sun to rise and set. He pushes himself to his feet unsteadily, putting all his weight on his good ankle, which is also his injured hip. His stomach tenses in pain. "Good," Curly purrs. "That's good."

Will's eyes flash to Larry, and he swallows. Elias isn't here, and Will doesn't know what these men want out of him. Elias is easier to read – his focus is on Hannibal, and Will is a means to an end. Larry and Curly, though…

Will sees the red in their eyes, and trembles.

Curly approaches him and grabs him by the throat, and Will snarls, clawing weakly at his arm as he's lifted almost to his toes. "Don't fight," Curly says, and Will abruptly goes lax. Curly tilts his head to one side, and Larry pulls out Elias' phone. "Are you going to beg?"

"Are you going to make me?" Will says, his bruised throat working to speak with as much strength as he can.

Larry laughs, and the call is answered with a breathless "Will?". He's on speaker.

Will closes his eyes. "Hang up," he says to Hannibal.

Curly laughs. "Don't hang up, Lecter," he says. "You won't want to miss this."

Will snarls. "This what it's come to, huh?" he demands, as Curly sets him down on his feet, then his hand tightens, and he shoves Will back and Will collapses onto the floor, against the chair. It doesn't move, since it's bolted to the ground, and Will grits his teeth when the back of his head connects with the seat with a sharp crack. "You like your Omegas bloodied, beaten so they can't fight back?"

Larry huffs, and moves to the chair. He sits down on it, his thighs around Will's shoulders and Will cries out sharply when Larry's boots find his hands and press down. The Alpha's hand goes to his hair, the other presses the phone to Will's ear.

So Hannibal can hear him better.

"Hang up," Will whispers, as Curly kneels down between his legs and snaps the wire tight.

"Will," Hannibal replies. Will swallows, and blinks, frowning. He sounds…different. Much less frantic than he did before. "How many bullets are in your gun?"

Will swallows, his eyes on Curly as the Alpha grins at him, showing his fangs. He kneels between Will's feet and shoves them apart and Will tenses when Curly starts to wrap the wire tightly around his thigh. It cuts into his flesh and Will hisses, tries to fight back, but can't with how Larry is holding him down.

"Will," Hannibal says again, and he sounds so calm, so utterly controlled. Will's heart flutters with something other than pain, and the creature in his chest starts to purr. "How many bullets are in your gun?"

Will grunts when Curly finishes with one thigh, and wraps the wire around his hips, tight enough to sting his tender, frozen skin. Will knows what he's doing – he's making a harness around Will, to make it easier to grab and haul him between the two of them while they have their fun.

"Three," Will replies after a moment. Because he understands, somehow, through the haze of pain and the terrible, resigned knowledge of what's about to happen, what Hannibal is really asking him.

How many are there?

Hannibal hums, understanding, acknowledging, and Will closes his eyes at the sound and turns his face away from the phone. Larry's thigh smells salty and stinks, and Will can feel behind his head how Larry's cock is thickening, and the scent of Alpha rut makes him want to throw up.

"They're going to hurt you, Will," Hannibal murmurs. His voice is so soft, as it was when he held Will's hair and urged him to slip under, to let death take him. Wade into the quiet of the stream.

"I know," Will replies.

Hannibal is silent, and Larry tightens his hand in Will's hair, making him hiss. He hears Hannibal's snarl on the other end of the line. "I'm coming," Hannibal vows, and then he hangs up the phone, and Will breathes a sigh of relief.

As Curly is finishing with the last of the wire, the door slams open. Elias' eyes are bright with red rage, and he shouts something at them in Lithuanian. The cousins scramble to their feet and Will hisses, rubbing his hands from the pressure of Larry's boots. Elias keeps shouting at them, his arms waving wildly, and then he gestures at Will and snarls at the two of them.

"Get out," he demands. His eyes are wholly red. The cousins growl back, but obey in the end, and Elias looks at Will as the door closes.

He sighs, and runs his hands through his hair. Will blinks at him.

"You got your wish," he murmurs. Elias looks at him. "He's coming for you."

"No, he's coming for you."

Will manages a tight smile. "One and the same."

Elias cocks his head to one side; his eyes fall to the wire around Will's hips and thighs. "How can you smile?" he whispers, like he's awed. Impressed.

Will shrugs, and immediately regrets it, but doesn't let it show. Elias huffs, turns out the lights, and closes the door behind him. Will hears a padlock get attached on the outside, and his smile widens.

 

 

He does not want to let himself hope, but hope slithers in nonetheless. The way Hannibal had sounded over the phone, the last time, had been so much more like the man Will knew. He'd been controlled, distant, calculating. A predator wearing a person suit and ready to go hunting.

The chain of thorns coils around his chest, so tight, God, it's so tight. He aches down to his bones, wishing with all his might that when Hannibal comes through that door, he is the predator Will knows and loves. He wants to see the Ripper in his smile, feel the heat of a killer in his hands when Hannibal touches him.

He cannot think of the desire to move. He sits and waits, lovelorn and wretched from the inside. He should examine the room, and look for a weapon, but he can barely walk and doesn't want to give his broken ribs the satisfaction of spearing his lungs when it's already so difficult to breathe. He closes his eyes and puts his head in his hands.

The pendulum swings.

Thwum.

"How did Larry and Curly die?"

"Chiyoh's sniper took them out."

"Too quick, Doctor Lecter."

"I'm sorry, my darling. But we can take our time with this one."

Will huffs a laugh. "Burn him alive."

 

 

Will passes out at some point between that moment and a day later. There are no windows in the room, so he cannot track the passage of time, but his jaw has gone from the sharp ache to the tender throb of a blossoming bruise. His lip has healed, and he bites it again to wet his tongue with his own blood.

He's back in the chair, and Larry's fist comes down on his back, pitching him forward. His hands are bound to the wire at his hips, so every time he tugs, it tightens, and there's a new ring of blood staining his underwear.

Elias is speaking in Lithuanian, and Will can't keep his eyes open anymore. Curly slaps his face and he gasps, growling.

"Don't leave us yet, pretty boy," he says, Voice thick and Alpha, and Will shivers. His chest hurts, new points of pain overlaid with others. "We aren't finished."

Will opens his eyes, drags in a heavy breath, and spits out more blood. He glares at Curly's face and, overcome with rage, lunges for him. He falls out of the chair and yanks at the wire around his hips until it snaps, and his hands are free and wet with blood. He catches the Alpha by his wide eyes, digs his thumbs into the sockets and presses, presses, and Curly cries out and then there are hands on Will's shoulders and Will struggles, snarls, and presses down so hard that blood blossoms around his thumbs like the innards of a gutted fish. The heat of his blood burns Will's hands.

He laughs when Larry hits him, over Curly's howls of pain. "I can still kill you," he snarls, clawing at Larry's hands as the Alpha hauls him back. "Even now – even now! You'd better hope he finds me before I get out of here!"

Elias snarls at him, and Will sees he's holding his phone.

"Hannibal!" Will sings, grinning as Larry punches him hard enough to blur his vision. "One of the mice is blind."

"You'll pay for that, you little bitch," Larry snarls, and hits him again. And again. Will laughs, and laughs, and laughs. Until the lights go out.

 

 

He wakes to hands on his face, and snarls, instinctively fighting the touch. He snaps his jaws, catches skin, rips and tastes blood in his mouth.

Then, he hears a soft purr. He gasps, letting the snatch of skin drop from his lips, and opens his eyes.

A dark, red-threaded gaze meets his own. Hannibal's nose has a cut across it from a fist, and his cheek is blooming with the red and yellow of a bruise, but when he meets Will's gaze, it's like time and space fade away. The teacup reassembles itself. They're standing on the cliffside once again.

Will huffs a laugh. "Are you real?" he whispers.

Hannibal smiles, and stands, tilting Will's cheeks up. He brushes Will's bloody hair from his face, touches his jaw with utmost tenderness. He rests their foreheads together, and it's the only place that doesn't hurt.

Will swallows. "How many bullets left?" he asks.

"One," Hannibal replies. "I thought you might want to pull the trigger yourself, this time."

Will shivers at the sound of his voice. It's raw, low, so full of Alpha rage that's barely held in check for Will's sake. He wants to let it out, let it free. He wants Hannibal to howl, and tear the whole fucking place apart.

"Where is he?" he says.

"Chiyoh has him in the car," Hannibal replies. He straightens, and there's a green bottle on the floor. Will swallows and remembers being hefted into Hannibal's arms, lax and trusting, away from the Verger estate. "Close your eyes, darling."

Will whimpers, the chain around his heart abruptly unraveling, the creature in his chest shrieking with adoration; He's here, he's here. He called you 'darling'.

"Hannibal," he whispers.

Hannibal opens the bottle, takes out a handkerchief from his jacket pocket, and pours some of the chloroform onto it. "Yes, Will?" he replies.

Will smiles as the cloth goes over his mouth. "I'll tell you later," he breathes, and then inhales deeply. It doesn't take much for his body to sink back into the ocean.

 

 

Will wakes, and falls asleep again. The car jolts his injured body, and when he whimpers, he feels a hand in his hair and hears a low voice shushing him back into stillness.

He wakes, and there is a warm, wet cloth brushing over his bruised neck. His ankle has a cast on it, and there are bandages around his ribs.

"Why do I always end up more injured than you?"

"Because you're reckless," Hannibal says with a smile. He kisses Will's forehead, and Will closes his eyes.

 

 

When he opens his eyes, he's on his bed. There's a warm weight behind him, a gentle hand on his bared arm. He's dressed in lounge pants and no shirt, under the cover of a heavy blanket. The warmth is jarring, too soon, too much. He shivers and whines and the hand on his arm – bandaged, from his bite – soothes down him, brushes the wire cut along his lower stomach, gently cups the top of his thigh, and the heat moves closer. A broad chest, the scent of candles and wine.

"What made you remember?" he whispers. He can barely talk. His neck hurts so badly. He touches the edges of his jaw and it throbs tenderly.

Hannibal presses his nose to Will's neck, breathes in deeply. "Chiyoh told me about the time I tried to eat your brain in front of Jack," he says, and Will laughs, but laughing hurts, so he stops immediately. "She told me about how you tried to stab me, how she shot you. The idea of her harming you caused me such rage, Will, I almost attacked her. Everything came back quickly after that."

Will swallows, pleased that his recitation of names had proven useful.

Hannibal's hand flattens on his thigh, gentle around the wire marks. Will sighs. "I don't know if I want to kill you, anymore," he murmurs.

Hannibal huffs a gentle laugh. "There is another Alpha you can take your rage out on," he replies. "When you're healed."

"Elias," Will says, darkly. "He kissed me."

"He did a lot of things to you."

"Yet that, that feels like the worst wound."

Hannibal purrs in answer, trying to soothe.

"How did the others die?" Will whispers.

"I strangled one to death. While the blind one listened. Then, I slit his throat and let him bleed out over his friend."

Will smiles, and closes his eyes. "That's more like it."

 

 

Both of Will's legs are compromised, so he doesn't leave his room for a long while. Hannibal tells him his ankle will be out of sorts for many weeks. Will doesn't mind. Hannibal doesn't leave his side except to cook for him. He eats Larry and Curly's flesh and purrs when Hannibal smiles at him. Hannibal's touch is so gentle, so thoroughly relaxed and possessive, that it makes Will's chest grow warm and pulse. His Alpha has, yet again, proven his worth and his cunning, proven that he is a prime of all males, the finest example of his breed.

"I suppose you were right," he whispers, resting on his stomach with Hannibal sitting by his pillows, reading and petting Will's hair. "To court me, you had to kill. You've always had to kill, haven't you?"

"I do it well," Hannibal replies coolly. "As do you. You never cease to amaze me, to delight me."

Will hums, and sighs. The creature in his chest is settled at the touch of its mate, and he can hear, when he listens very carefully, Hannibal's monster purring in answer.

 

 

Will's chest stops aching after a week or so, at least when he's at rest. He knows his ribs are still broken, or at least cracked, but he can start to breathe again. Hannibal brings him 'the blind one's heart and Will eats it almost whole. When he's finished, he touches Hannibal's cheek, puts his nose to Hannibal's neck and breathes deeply.

"Part of me was worried you wouldn't come," he says. "That the hunt had been beaten out of you."

"Never," Hannibal swears. "I would never live in a world where you weren't by my side."

Will swallows. His throat hurts when he does it, and he turns his injured cheek into Hannibal's hand. He kisses the scar of his teeth on Hannibal's thumb, and shivers when Hannibal cups his jaw, lifts his head so their eyes meet.

Hannibal's eyes drop to Will's lap, covered in blankets, and he swallows. "I didn't listen," he says, dark and sorrowful. "Did they…?"

"No," Will replies, shaking his head. "I'd have died fighting them, if they did."

And though Hannibal knows Will was in no condition to do so, he smiles, like he believes Will all the same. Will trembles at the look in his eyes. "Does my purity mean so much to you, Hannibal?" he whispers, deadly-soft as velvet over razors.

Hannibal shakes his head. "Your worth to me could never be diminished like that," he breathes. "But I would have thought their deaths too quick, if they had touched you in such a way."

Will smiles, wide enough to show his teeth, and Hannibal returns it, and rests their foreheads together. His thumb brushes the corner of Will's mouth, reverent and soft, and Will lets his lips stay parted, lets Hannibal's thumb run along the edge of his teeth. Hannibal's hand cups his jaw, so gentle, so fucking gentle, and he brushes the pad of his thumb over Will's top lip, finds the corner again, sinks into the innards of his cheek where Dolarhyde's knife struck.

Will doesn't break his gaze. He can't. The Icarus stars dance in Hannibal's eyes, rotating around him in flickers of red and green, and they align, spear him in place. God has finally looked down on His creation, and found it, if not good, then too terrible for His wrath.

Perhaps even God is afraid of what will happen when they cross from this world, into the next.

Hannibal's thumbnail finds the missing tooth, and his eyes flash, his lip curling in a snarl that makes Will smile. He lifts his chin, forces Hannibal's thumb away, and kisses his wrist instead. "When I'm healed," he whispers, swears it like a wedding vow, "Elias will feel our wrath."

"That man cannot die enough to satisfy me," Hannibal whispers.

Will huffs a laugh. "That sounds very personal, Doctor Lecter."

Hannibal smiles. "You have changed my way of thinking, in many things," he replies. "This will be no different."

The way he says it sounds like 'I love you'.

Will smiles. "I know."

 

 

Will wakes and finds his bed empty and cold. He claws for Hannibal in the blankets, finds them lacking. The cold bites his neck fiercely, and he shivers, and whimpers behind his teeth.

"Hannibal!" he yells, as desperate and fiery as he'd been in the catacombs. He howls for his mate, screams for him, needs him -. "Hannibal!"

The door opens, the world shifts and rights itself, and Will breathes out harshly as Hannibal enters the room and closes the door behind him.

"I'm sorry," he says, like he's just as frantic and afraid as Will had been. Though he's not sure he should call it fear – rather, there is a part of him hooked to the Alpha now, and when he's gone, it tugs and burns as hot coals on the soles of his feet and makes him scream.

He goes to Will's bedside and sits, puts a hand in Will's hair and pets through the sweat-drenched curls. "Will," he breathes, and in his name is a thousand words, a thousand touches and one sweet, sweet kiss. Will bites his lower lip, tries to move from his stomach, but can't find the will to do so when Hannibal is touching him.

He turns his head, meets Hannibal's eyes. "Codependence," he says, his burning lungs finally settling. "It's what you always wanted."

"Not always," Hannibal says. "But now? Yes. More than ever."

"I can't -." Will stops, swallows harshly, and closes his eyes. "I can't let you out of my sight."

Hannibal sighs. Will expects him to argue, and when nothing comes, he opens his eyes again. Hannibal's expression is soft, vulnerable as it had been when Will walked into his office after Tobias and he'd said he was worried Will had died.

He swallows. "Come here," he whispers, and moves to the side of the bed. Hannibal tilts his head to one side. "Lay down with me."

Hannibal smiles, and stands. He takes off his shoes, socks, and vest, setting them on the bedside table, and crawls into place beside Will. He rests on his side, so he can still pet Will's hair and his face, and Will remains on his stomach. His foot lays awkwardly, akimbo because of the cast, and it hurts to breathe deeply with the weight on his chest, but he doesn't want to move anymore.

Hannibal's eyes track over his face, like he's trying to memorize every detail in it. Will feels young, in his eyes, flowering freely in a field ploughed and fertilized with human flesh and volcanic ash. He bites his lower lip and reaches out, his hand on Hannibal's beating heart.

"Stay with me," he murmurs.

"Where else would I go?" Hannibal replies, and Will smiles, remembering the same words, in reverse.

"I don't know," he replies, and stifles a yawn into his pillow. "But I'll find you, wherever you run to."

Hannibal laughs, and brings Will's knuckles to his mouth, kissing them. "I know, darling."

 

 

More days pass, and Will feels strong enough, eventually, to stand with his cane. His hip has healed enough that he trusts that leg to be good, and uses the cane to sturdy his other one, now. He sighs and rolls his eyes at himself, wondering if he will simply trade off wounds and aches until eventually his body gives out.

He hobbles to the bathroom, leaves the door open, and draws himself a bath. He manages to get inside, keeping his cast out of the water, and sighs when the water laps at the bandages around his ribs – Hannibal will have to change them, if he thinks it's necessary. The wire cuts sting, and his lungs ache with warm, moist air.

He breathes deeply, and closes his eyes. He opens them he scents Hannibal, turns his head to smile at the Alpha as he kneels down at the side of the bath. He has his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and when Will drops his gaze, he shows Will his bitten hand.

"If this keeps up, we'll match," Will says, nodding to the scar on his forehead.

Hannibal smiles. "Perhaps," he replies. He settles down by Will's side, rests his forearms on the lip of the bathtub, his chin on those. Will grins and flicks some of the water at him, and it catches and shines on his skin. Hannibal huffs, and clears his wet cheek with his fingers.

Will sighs, and closes his eyes. "I have imagined us, in so many places, so many futures," he says. Hannibal hums, and reaches into the bath to stir the water above Will's hip. "I don't know what to call this. Relief? Too pedestrian. Hope? Too Hallmark."

Hannibal hums. "I would like to call it inevitability," he replies. Will hums, raising his eyebrows, and opens his eyes to look at Hannibal again. "The stars shine, the Earth rotates. So, too, do we exist, together."

"And what does the future hold for us, Doctor Lecter?" Will murmurs. "Where do we go from here?"

Hannibal's smile widens. "The 'where' doesn't matter," he replies, calm and fine. "I don't care where we are, just that we are."

Will nods, swallows past the thickness in his throat. "Is there a stream, near here?" he asks. Hannibal nods. "Are there fish?" Another nod. Will smiles. "Then I think this place is a good place to start."

 

 

If Will got a Voice from Hannibal's blood, it fades too soon for him to use it. He doesn't mind – there will be other days, countless days, for him to get his teeth in Hannibal's neck. It's the word Hannibal used – inevitability. So, too, do rocks fall from mountains and lions devour gazelles. The air grows colder, and snow covers the grass and the trees, and it is like that winter, where they first met all those years ago.

It feels right. Gentle, and holy, and sacred. Like the ocean has come to them.

Will finds Hannibal in the study. The fire is warm, chasing away the demons and ghosts. Will wants to ask about Elias, but he doesn't. He doesn't much care, and will happily let the Alpha starve, as his need for revenge consumes him and drives him to madness.

Hannibal looks up, and his smile is more beautiful than any piece of art Will could imagine. He has his sketchbook, turned to a new page, and Will limps over to him and sits down on the couch beside him.

He tilts his head and smiles when he sees his own eyes staring back at him. "Found your muse?" he teases.

"I never lost him," Hannibal replies. He closes the sketchbook and sets it to one side so his lap is free, and Will sighs, falling into place with his head on Hannibal's thigh. He keeps his ankle elevated and the fresh bandages around his chest contract with the motion.

Hannibal's fingers card through his hair, his eyes on the firelight. Will joins him in looking, imagines the flames are bright and happy children, dancing in a field with wisps of white dresses and shirts. Innocence, purity.

He hums, presses his lips together. "I think Abigail would have liked it here," he says.

Hannibal's hand goes still, just for a moment, before he resumes his petting. "I do, as well," he replies, just as quiet. "The woods are rich with animals to hunt."

Will huffs, and closes his eyes as Hannibal's fingers dance down his cheek, to his shoulder where Dolarhyde's knife cut deep. They curl around the meat of Will's bicep, drag nails across his shirt until the sleeve ends, and then he settles his hand over the tops of the bandages at Will's shoulder blade.

"I used to have dreams, where I'd teach her how to fish," he whispers. "I still remember her laugh, but I never heard her laugh in real life. At least, I don't remember the sound of it, if I did."

Hannibal hums, gently tracing the edges of Will's bandages through his shirt. "An opportunity denied the both of us, through my actions, and your own." Will bites his lower lip, opens his eyes. "Perhaps we could adopt."

Will laughs, and it aches in his stomach. "No agency will give us a child," he says, though his voice is soft. He can't deny he's pleased at the idea – an Alpha adopting a child that isn't its own bloodline is exceedingly rare, but Hannibal has always, time and again, proven he is not the average Alpha.

Hannibal is quiet for a moment, before he says; "Elias has a son." Will blinks, turns his head to look at his face. Hannibal's eyes are still on the fire. "Due to present Alpha, given that his mother is female."

Will swallows. "How old is he?"

Hannibal smiles. "Less than a year," he replies. "His mother died in childbirth. Elias' aunt was caring for him while he and his mother worked on the house."

"How do you know this?"

"He tried to beg me to spare his life, claiming the child's existence. I smelled no lie on him."

Will blinks, and turns his face away. He's not sure what to call the emotion stirring in his chest. He shouldn't want it – truthfully, he's not really sure he does. But the idea of having a child, raising it with Hannibal, and knowing the truth of his origin…is enticing.

"I'll think about it," he murmurs.

Hannibal lets out a small purr, and returns his hand to Will's hair. "There's no rush," he says mildly. "And the decision is, ultimately, yours. I would not force you to become a mother against your will."

Will huffs, and smiles. He looks at the flames and they take shape into a single child, with his father's bright blue eyes and blond curls. "I know."

 

 

Will wakes to the heat and weight of Hannibal's broad chest against his back. He sighs, nuzzling the pillow under his cheek, smiling when he feels Hannibal stir behind him. The Alpha's warmth is soothing, the instinctive purr that rumbles in his chest calls out to Will's creature, and it stretches and arches its back, begging for touch.

Hannibal hasn't stopped touching him since this whole ordeal began – and even further, when they were alone, Will frequently found his face in Hannibal's hands, so often felt touches on his shoulder. He remembers how it felt when Hannibal came close to him and scented him, when Will was sick but didn't know he was sick.

Like he senses Will's thoughts, Hannibal's nose presses to his nape, and he breathes deeply. His bitten hand rests on Will's side, over the bandages, gentle but a firm touch so Will cannot deny its presence there.

Will's smile widens. "How do I smell, Doctor Lecter?"

Hannibal hums. "Like me," he replies.

Will huffs. "Does that please you?"

"Immensely," Hannibal replies. His hand tightens, before it smooths out and runs down, careful of aggravating any of Will's wounds. It settles on his hip instead, just shy of the wire marks, which have healed to another scar like the line on the back of Will's hand from Tobias' string.

"You know," Will begins, breathless, "there have been studies that hypothesize an Omega's slick hormones promote healing. A mated Omega heals much faster than an unmated one."

Will feels Hannibal's lips part in a smile, and he shivers at the press of teeth. "Is that so?" he asks, light and humored.

Will nods, and shivers again when Hannibal's hand doesn't move. "It's science," he murmurs.

"I care little for what studies have said," Hannibal replies. "I would much rather know what you think of the whole thing."

It is territory that Will could not yield before. He can, now, safe in Hannibal's arms. "My body knows your touch," he whispers, closing his eyes when he hears Hannibal start to purr again, steady and strong. It rumbles against his back. "You told me your memory rested in my hands. So, too, does my recovery lie in yours."

"You are terribly injured," Hannibal says, but he's not moving away, and he doesn't stop purring. Will wonders if he can. "I fear the strain would do you more harm than good."

Will huffs, baring his teeth, and turns his head so he can see Hannibal out of the corner of his eye. "Is that your professional opinion, Doctor?" he bites out.

Hannibal smiles, and nuzzles Will's neck, under his ear. Will shivers at the heat of his exhale. "My concerns come not from study, but from the perspective of an Alpha whose mate is too injured to be mounted, and asking for it all the same."

Will bites his lower lip, and whines. It's a plaintive, gentle sound, and it makes Hannibal's hand tighten on his hip, turns his purr into a low growl.

"Then." Will stutters, sucks in a breath, tries again; "Then play with me. That isn't as strenuous."

Hannibal still hesitates, and Will turns further, kisses Hannibal's chin, licks his throat, and adds;

"You need a Voice." Soft, coaxing. Tempting the wild animal close with fresh meat. "My plans require it."

Hannibal swallows loud enough for Will to hear it, and his eyes flicker red. He heaves in a deep breath, like he's desperate for Will's scent, and presses closer until Will can feel every line of him, chest to knee, pressed tight behind him.

"Lift your head," he commands, and Will shivers, and obeys, allowing Hannibal's other arm to slide under his neck. He curls it gently, presses flat to Will's bruised stomach, and holds him close as his other hand slides up and wraps around the front of Will's neck. Will is shaking already, fingers curling in the sheets, and he closes his eyes.

Hannibal growls, soft with promise, and his lips part so he can set his teeth to Will's neck. Will flushes immediately, warmth internal and fanged spreading out from behind his heart. He lips part and he shudders when Hannibal's hand tightens on his neck.

"I've dreamed of touching you like this," Hannibal says, his voice rough and deep like it comes from his chest. His jaw tightens, and he tilts his head, nuzzles Hannibal's bicep and bares his neck. His body is reacting immediately, overdriven and plummeting already. His thighs tense up and he slides one leg forward, allowing Hannibal's thigh to nestle between his own. Already it feels intimate, raw, and Will gasps as he feels Hannibal's cock thickening against his lower back.

Larry's Alpha rut scent had repulsed him. Hannibal's is as different as night is to midday. Sparks of pleasure flash behind his eyelids like stars, twinkling in and out as he sinks into water that is warm and doesn't drown him.

Hannibal's hand tightens on his throat, lures him above the tides, and Will gasps, eyes fluttering open. "Tell me," he whispers. He knows, during play, Alphas will speak to their mates in equal parts praise and promise, to get them slick and get their bodies receptive – but this is genuine, honest. Frightfully honest. Will can hear it.

"The first time I thought about you like this – not as some beautiful, enchanting thing, but as a creature I wanted in my arms, with your neck between my teeth – was when I saw you in your prison cell." Will shivers, wants to ask, 'That long?'. But of course, he knows. Lust precedes love, but not attraction. Not affection. Not for Hannibal.

Hannibal smiles, nuzzles Will's sweat-damp hair at the nape of his neck, and his arm loosens, forces Will to melt and give to him, until his other hand settles on Will's lower stomach where the wire cut lies.

"You looked right at me, and I knew you saw me for what I was, and I thought I could hear something in you calling for me. I would have reached between the bars and kissed you right then."

Will whimpers. "You can kiss me now," he replies, unsteady.

Hannibal pauses, and Will shivers when he feels Hannibal's cock twitch against his warm flesh. He pulls back and Will whines, turning his head, and Hannibal lets go of his neck, cups his bruised jaw. He meets Will's eyes, and Will sees them, the gold in his own glowing in Hannibal's wide pupils.

Hannibal's eyes drop to Will's parted lips, and he smiles, and leans down. Will surges up to meet him, Hannibal's teeth find his tender lower lip, and their mouths meet, and Will wonders how it took so damn long for them to come to this.

He lifts a hand, knots it in Hannibal's hair, and rolls onto his back and Hannibal lets him do it, climbs up and over to settle between Will's parted thighs. One hand is still on Will's cheek, the other fisted in the pillows by his head. Will tries to arch his body, his free hand digs into Hannibal's clothes, wanting him closer, wanting the weight and heat of his mate against him.

But Hannibal resists. He breaks the kiss, breathless and wanting, his eyes red. "Will," he murmurs, scolding but softer. "I won't hurt you."

"Please," Will replies. He wouldn't beg for Hannibal at Elias' command, but he'll beg under his own. He pushes up on his good leg, settles his knee against Hannibal's waist and tries to pull him down. His stomach burns and his lungs ache, and he can feel his body starting to get slick. The hormones in an Alpha's saliva trigger the slick response and Will's body calls for its mate, the creature in his chest shrieking at being denied.

Hannibal growls, kisses him again, too weak to resist. He lets go of Will's cheek, his weight on his other arm, and flattens his hand on Will's cock through his underwear, and the ricochet of heat and lightning hit him like the cliffs, dash him against the rocks and the swell of the cold water. He whimpers against Hannibal's mouth, using the only weapons he can – Omega sounds, designed to call for an Alpha, evolved to turn their mates rabid with the need to protect and care for them.

Hannibal gasps at the sound, his eyes flashing, and he bares his teeth at Will. His hand tightens on Will's cock, curls around the head of it, rough and hot behind the barrier of his clothes. "You drive me to a point beyond reason," he breathes.

"Take me with you," Will replies. His hands release Hannibal's hair and shirt, and he drops them to Hannibal's belt, fidgets and tugs until it comes free and he can undo the button of his suit pants, slide his palm across the thick, sweat-wet thatch of hair around the base of his cock.

Hannibal shivers, his shoulders going tight, and he closes his eyes, presses his forehead against Will's and breathes through his parted jaws.

Will bites his lower lip, watches Hannibal's face as best he can as he circles his fingers around the Alpha's cock and pulls it free of his clothes. Hannibal is thick and hard in his hand, the flesh a deep, blushing red, and Will's body clenches up, slick and wanting.

Hannibal growls, hips rutting forward like a breeding bull, and he tugs at Will's underwear, a little too forcefully as it stings the wire cuts on his thighs, but Will swallows back the discomforted sound, knowing Hannibal will stop immediately if he hears it.

His chest expands, dragging Hannibal's rutting scent over the roof of his mouth. It's dull on his injured palette but he breathes it in greedily all the same. He arches his neck, curls his shoulders, and catches Hannibal's neck with his teeth.

Hannibal snarls, wildly, commanding, and his hand tightens on Will's cock and he rears up, lets go of the pillows and plants his hand on Will's throat instead, forcing him back down. Will bares his teeth, and though his eyes want to close, he doesn't let them.

Hannibal smiles, tight and feral around his bared teeth. His nails dig into either side of Will's aching throat and Will starts to stroke Hannibal's cock, tight and just slick enough with his sweat to do it right. The place where Will bit him is pink on his neck, not deep enough to shed blood, not quite a mating bite. Yet.

"You are delightful," Hannibal breathes. He lets Will's cock go for a brief moment, smile widening when Will snarls in answer. His fingers curl, dip down, and drag through the slick on Will's thighs. Will's snarl abruptly gentles, turns into a whine, and he bites his lower lip, eyelids fluttering as Hannibal's fingers tease at his slick hole. He wants Hannibal inside him, desperately, more urgent than hunger or thirst could ever be.

Hannibal leans down, takes him by the neck, and swallows his next desperate whine. "Patience, darling," he whispers against Will's mouth. "There will come a time when I have tasted every inch of you."

Will's breath escapes him like the flood from a broken dam, and ravages his tense neck and his aching lungs with the same kind of powerful relief. He digs his free hand into Hannibal's shoulder, claws at the ready, and trembles when Hannibal kisses him, steals his breath, and one of his fingers sinks into Will's slick, willing body.

"Hannibal," he breathes, too raw to get any air into his lungs. Not that it matters – Hannibal seems intent on stealing whatever he can. His eyes have bled to the darkest red Will has ever seen, and he presses Will down with his hand around Will's throat, drives two fingers deep inside Will, and Will trembles.

He curls his free hand around Hannibal's cock, ruts his hips up as best he can to try and seek friction for his own. When he's fully healed, he knows it will be wilder, heat oppressive and teeth bared to bite and snarl at each other, just as often as it is gentle. Hannibal's touch feels worshipful, and Will knows his body hurts right now, he can feel fissures of it like the buzz of a live wire, but the brain would much sooner feel pleasure than pain, he knows that, too, and so he chases the feeling of Hannibal's fingers inside of him, gasps at the pressure on his throat, somehow both gentle and not, and kisses Hannibal as the heat in his stomach bears down, flushes, and his orgasm rears its head and drives a lance through Hannibal's chest, through the creature in Will's lungs, and hauls him over the edge.

His body goes tight around Hannibal's fingers and he cries out, heartbeat stuttering as Hannibal abruptly releases his neck, allows him to breathe, and kisses Will fiercely. He tastes wine and promise on Hannibal's tongue, saltwater and blood. Will trembles, fists his free hand in Hannibal's hair, and hauls him as close as he's able.

Hannibal's fingers retreat from his soaked body and the Alpha growls against his mouth, resting his weight tentatively between Will's thighs, where the wounds are comparatively shallow. He cups Will's hips, helps him arch up so that Will's stomach, slick with his seed, provides a flat, heated plane for Hannibal to rut against. Will's ankle hurts when he puts weight on it, but he doesn't care, he just doesn't care.

"Please," Will begs, when Hannibal lets his mouth go. His lips are tender, his eyes itch with gold, and he's sweaty and shaking and completely at the mercy of Hannibal's hands. He strokes Hannibal quickly, palm flat to force Hannibal's cock against his stomach, lets his cockhead smear through Will's mess and uses the slick to keep going.

Hannibal growls, presses his nose to Will's bared neck, pushes his hips down to the bed like Will is in reverse, on his hands and knees, and Hannibal is seeking the best angle to mount and knot him. It's a powerful instinct, and one Will desperately wants to encourage despite the aches in his body.

Hannibal's jaws part and Will shivers, feeling teeth. He tightens his free hand in Hannibal's sweaty hair and whines – begging, plaintive, damning. He feels Hannibal's tongue as the Alpha licks a broad stripe across his pulse, tests the taste of his sweat, and he tilts his head to one side and whimpers.

"Do it."

"Is that what you want, Will?" Hannibal growls. His shoulders are turning tight, his hands growing harsh on Will's hips despite how gentle he's been until now. He can't keep doing it, and Will understands. His body clenches up, seeking his Alpha's cock, his knot, and he sighs and nods.

"Yes," Will replies, and wonders how Hannibal can even still ask, when it feels like every cell in Will's body is crying out for him. He sets his jaw against Hannibal's cheek, closes his eyes, and drags his hand down Hannibal's cock until he touches the loose skin that will stretch to accommodate his knot. Without being inside Will, Hannibal's knot will be small and the time of its swell short, but Will is ravenous for it all the same. "Please, Hannibal. Please."

Hannibal goes still, trembling, and Will jerks and moans as Hannibal's teeth sink into his neck, hard enough to hurt, harsher still, to break skin. Will's blood rushes into his mouth, as eager for him as every other part of him, and Hannibal's knot swells under Will's fingers as the Alpha's orgasm releases itself from his gut.

Will trembles, closes his eyes and bites his lower lip as he feels Hannibal's seed spill onto his stomach. He lets go, knowing how sensitive a knot can be, and sighs as Hannibal forces his body down onto the mattress and ruts against him like they're tied together, like he's inside Will and using his body for his own pleasure. His hands slide from Will's hip to his waist, so he doesn't grip too hard.

The bite is quick, and Hannibal soon parts his teeth with Will's neck and licks over the mark he left behind. It hurts, and Will whines, brow furrowing and jaw flexing as the rest of the aches in his body make themselves known. His fractured cheekbone stings above the pressure of his jaw, his thighs ache along the wire cuts from the friction of Hannibal's clothes, and his ankle is almost numb with how much it hurts.

Nevertheless, he smiles.

Hannibal starts to purr, loud and rumbling, and his forehead magnetizes to Will's, their noses brush, and Will drinks the sated moan from Hannibal's mouth as his hand gentles in Hannibal's hair. They kiss, and kiss again, and Will can't breathe but he doesn't want to. Whatever air he needs, Hannibal will provide.

Hannibal's mouth twitches, and Will licks his own blood from Hannibal's tongue, purring deep in his chest. He never knew how good it could feel, and now that he does know, he can sense, in the way Hannibal touches him, in the way his own creature purrs and stretches, that this is yet one more thing they will depend upon each other for. Another addiction, another drive as all hunting animals have.

Hannibal climbs from between his thighs, settles heavy and warm on the bed at Will's side, and Will turns, nuzzles Hannibal's warm chest, measures the beat of his slowing heart and listens to his purr.

Hannibal cradles him close, scent thick with joy and victory. Will likes this scent on him, a lot. It smells like the sea.

 

 

Time passes, and Will heals. Hannibal keeps his nose to Will's neck as often as he's able, and he recites to Will poetry and essays in Lithuanian while Will reads along in English. He plays with Will, and watches the wire bites heal, kisses the bruising on his throat until it's gone, purrs when Will is able to bear his weight on his back when Hannibal plies him with pillows and wine and they rest together. Hannibal opens the wound on Will's neck every so often, when his Voice starts to get weak, until it turns into a thick line of scarring.

"It will become permanent, when you bite me back," he tells Will, while he licks the blood from Will's neck.

Will smiles, and huffs a breath. "I like keeping you hungry."

"And I like keeping you sated."

Will rolls his eyes, turns and kisses Hannibal's mouth, his jaw, runs his fingers feather-light down his chest. "There is some part of me still yet starving," he murmurs, presses the words to Hannibal's lips.

Hannibal smiles, eyes dark and red. "When you are healed," he says, just as quiet. Promising. Will nods – he can wait. He can be patient. He entertains himself with a new language and, when the moments turn quiet, with thoughts of what he wants to do to Elias.

It will be a personal kill, all of Will's are, but it must be right.

 

 

"Our guest grows restless, darling."

"Well," Will says, and smiles wide, "it would be rude to keep him waiting any longer. But there are some things I need."

"Name them."

"I'll need a retractor. Several of them. The kinds that lock and will hold open a wound while I work. And I will need a knife – I defer to your decision as to what kind. And…" Will's eyes settle on the fire, glowing and golden. The gold hasn't left his eyes since Hannibal bit him. "Tubing. Lots of it. The kind used for blood transfusions."

Hannibal smiles, and kisses his forehead. "Your wish, my command," he purrs, and Will smiles, tilts his head up for a kiss, and loves the salt-spray scent of Hannibal's excitement.

 

 

Will opens the door to the cellars, immediately greeted with the familiar scent of decay and moisture. Below it, though, is the unsettling, cigar-smoke scent of Alpha rage. It makes his neck tighten instinctively, only soothed when Hannibal's hand settles gently on his nape.

Hannibal kisses him below the ear, a bag in his hand of all the things Will asked for. Will has healed enough now that he no longer wears bandages around his chest, and his cheek has healed and reduced itself to patches of red and purple bruises. His ankle is still in a cast, but he can walk well enough with his cane.

He tongues the inside of the scar from Dolarhyde's knife, squares his shoulders, and breathes out. He enters the cellar and Hannibal follows, closing the door behind them so the only light is that of the candles, which burn brightly like lighthouses calling Will's creature home.

Idly, he wonders who keeps replacing them, and thinks how Elias would react to either Chiyoh or Hannibal coming into his line of sight. It makes him smile.

Elias is in his father's old cell, the one next to Will's previous resting place. He is dirty, his hair long enough now to touch his cheeks, a thick, dark beard covering his jaws and neck. He's skinny, barely fed enough to stay alive, but he still snarls and stands when he sees Will and Hannibal approach.

Will smiles at him. "Good morning, Elias," he murmurs.

Elias growls at him, baring his teeth, and spews a line of dark, foreign speech that Will assumes is meant to be threatening.

Will tilts his head to one side when Elias throws himself against the bars, his speech devolving into a snarled mass of consonants. He looks over at Hannibal, one eyebrow raised.

Hannibal smiles, and shakes his head once. "What you'd expect."

Will sighs, and gives Hannibal another nod. "I expected more."

Hannibal huffs, and then his dark eyes fix on Elias. He barks out a command and Will shivers, hearing the Alpha Voice in it. Elias immediately goes still, his eyes widening and fixed on Will's neck. He lets go of the bars and steps back, and Will undoes the padlock and chain around the door. He and Hannibal step inside and close the door behind them.

Hannibal gives another order, one that Will knows means 'On your knees', and Elias obediently drops. Will smiles at him.

"Doesn't feel good, does it?" he says. "Your friend used his Voice on me."

Elias swallows, his eyes wide and starting to brighten with tears. "Please," he says, and holds his hands up in supplication. Will is reminded of how he posed himself, port glass in hand and trembling, so scared of the monster in the attic.

Will takes two zip ties from Hannibal when offered them, loops one each around Elias' wrists and strings one through the other, pulling them tight enough that they will certainly cut if he struggles too hard. "I have a family. A son."

Will hums. "You'd think you'd have learned from your own father's mistakes," he replies coolly. When his wrists are bound, Hannibal steps forward and takes the chain that had bound the dragonfly man's neck to the wall. He loops it around Elias' neck and tightens it, forcing him into a crouching position against the wall, the chain too short to allow him to sit.

He shivers, resting on the balls of his feet. Will knows they will cramp, soon, his thighs will seize up and tremble. He'll try to stand to seek relief, or risk falling and hanging himself on the collar.

"You see, Elias, I offered you a way out," Will says. He takes the bag from Hannibal, pleased to see all that he asked for inside it. There's a lovely knife inside and Will takes it out, admiring the gold around the handle, the line of rubies set just shy of the blade. It's ostentatious in a way he wouldn't have chosen himself, but he knows Hannibal likes pretty things.

He looks over at Hannibal, smiles and bites his lower lip when Hannibal smiles back. Hannibal takes a step away, allowing Will the full view of his prize.

"There was a way this could have ended quickly for you," Will murmurs, unsheathing the knife. It's smooth, subtly curved. No serrated edge – Hannibal doesn't want the cuts to be ugly. "Now, you see, my mercy has run dry."

Elias whimpers, and Will closes his eyes, imagines the sound when Elias' throat is wet with blood. He steps forward, careful of his ankle, and then slowly lowers himself to his knees in front of Elias. He can't lunge forward, fearful of what it'll do to his neck.

"Are you familiar with the hunting style of cougars, Elias?" he asks. Elias swallows, his eyes wide. "They are very curious animals. They'll stalk humans just to learn their behavior, and by the time they decide to attack, well, it's already too late."

He sets the sheath of the knife to one side, leans in close, and takes Elias' hands. He rests the blade against his forearm, the tip of it kissing his elbow.

"That's what you did, isn't it?" Will continues. He turns the blade, and it's so sharp that Elias doesn't visibly react until the blood starts to well up. Will cuts a single line, an inch long, just shy of his elbow. Blood wells up and drips onto the floor. "You waited." Another cut, a mirror one on his other arm. "You watched."

"Will, please," Elias whispers. "Let me go. I'll go far away."

Will shakes his head. "A cougar doesn't let his prey go," he says. He pushes Elias' fists back and Hannibal takes them, holds them above his head so he can't grab at Will, and the blood runs down his exposed arms, pools at this shoulders and collarbones. He's only wearing underwear, as Will was when he was taken. There's some poetry in that, some mirror image of loss and suffering, but Will doesn't care. That's Hannibal's poetry, not his.

He puts his hand on one of Elias' strong thighs and shoves them apart. Elias gasps, stumbling, his feet arched and tendons standing out as he tries to keep himself upright. Will smiles when he starts to smell fear, and holds the blade up to the light.

"Don't worry," he murmurs. "I'm not the animal your friends were. I have no interest in touching you that way."

"I didn't let them do that," Elias says, breathless. He's already starting to shake, and Will wants to hit him for it. Weak. "I told them not to do that. I sent them away."

"So I should be grateful?" Will demands. He sinks the edge of the knife into Elias' leg, draws a pretty arc from the fleshy innards to the top of his knee. Too shallow to hit anything important, but it will sting. He does the same with the other side. "I should thank you, is that it? Because it could have been worse?"

"No," Elias whimpers. He's crying now, tears tracking through the dirt on his face, cleansing his cheeks. Will tilts his head to one side. "No, that's not -."

Will snarls, bares his teeth, and points the knife under Elias' throat. He tilts his head to one side, and sighs. "You're right, Hannibal," he murmurs, and lifts his eyes to his mate's. "There aren't enough ways for him to die."

Hannibal smiles, pleased and proud. Will sits back, settles himself on the floor, and Hannibal lets Elias' arms go and retrieves the bag. He pulls out the retractors Will ordered and hands one to him.

Will smiles. "You know what I want."

Hannibal nods, and approaches Elias. Elias flinches from him, scent thick with fear, and Hannibal feeds the teeth of the retractors into his wounds, pulls each one open and locks it in place.

Then, Will holds out his hands, and Hannibal helps him to his feet. His ankle hurts from negotiating sitting down and standing up again, but he won't let himself balk now. The creature in his chest is prowling, observing, waiting to be let out. Will wants to see what kind of art it makes.

He huffs, licking his lips, and sets his eyes on Elias again. He hands Hannibal the knife, and pulls out the tubing from the bag. Hannibal gathered several feet for him. Enough for Will to do whatever he wants with it.

Will meets Elias' eyes. There are so many possibilities. He looks at Hannibal again, sees the dark, curious light in them. Hannibal wants to see what Will is going to do, as much as Will wants to do it. He hasn't created art like this in a while – he's out of practice.

He approaches Elias and lets the tubing unravel. It drops into the growing pool of blood between Elias' feet. "Do you know what it feels like to bleed, Elias?" he murmurs. Elias whimpers, trembling and looking up at Will like he is a vengeful God. "To really bleed. So much that your heart starts to get weak, and you get tired, and you think 'I'll close my eyes, and everything will fall away'."

Elias grits his teeth, growls at Will. The fight in him is surprising and sudden. It makes Will smile. He reaches out for Hannibal and uses him to keep himself steady as he kneels down again, his cast awkwardly settling under him. He starts to feed the tubing into Elias' left leg.

It fills with blood, and Will takes the end, threads it through his other leg. He digs below the muscle and tendon, rough and imprecise, and when that is done, he feeds it into Elias' arm. He holds out his hand for the knife, and Hannibal gives it to him, and Will cuts another inch on Elias' bicep, threading the tubing through. Then, his shoulder, and his collarbone, and wraps the tubing through that, sewing it into his skin. He keeps going, ignoring Elias' sharp cries of pain, until the end of the tube sits, neatly nestled in his right elbow. The tube is red with blood, gleaming with his insides, and Will sits back, admiring his work for a moment.

Then, he takes the retractors, and yanks them out. Elias howls, and Will smiles, watching as the skin tries to close around the tubing.

Hannibal hums.

"I thought about all the ways I'd kill you, when I got the chance," Will murmurs. Elias' eyes are heavy, and Will lets Hannibal haul him to his feet again. He pets through Elias' hair, tilts his head back, and yanks him forward so the collar tightens around his neck. Elias gasps, groaning in pain, and sucks in a heavy breath. "I thought about burning you alive. I thought about ripping open your chest and eating your heart while it was still beating. But you're not even worth a meal for me, or my mate."

Hannibal's purr is a lovely baseline to Elias' whimpers.

"But," Will adds, smiling, "you will make a meal for other things."

He turns and looks at Hannibal. "Bring me his father's skin."

Hannibal raises an eyebrow, but leaves the cell, taking the knife with him. Elias is breathing heavily, already close to passing out. Will tuts, shakes his head, and grabs his face, slapping his cheeks until his eyes open.

"Don't leave us yet, pretty boy," he growls.

Hannibal returns, a slick piece of skin covered in mushrooms held in his handkerchief.

Will smiles, and takes it along with the knife. "Thank you," he says, and he turns back to Elias. "Where should we plant it?"

"I'd recommend the stomach," Hannibal replies. "Closest to where the nutrients are."

Will hums, pressing his lips together. He approaches Elias and bends down as best he's able, and, with a single stroke, plunges the knife into Elias' gut. Elias cries out, his hands clawing weakly at Will's wrist, and Will's smile widens.

"See?" he purrs. "You're just like me."

He opens a line in Elias' gut, drops the knife, and wraps his fingers in a piece of intestine, pulling it out. Into the hole, he plants the mushrooms, enough that they have access to the open, moist air. He takes two of the retractors and sets them in Elias' stomach, prying the wound open, and Elias trembles, shudders, and passes out.

Will tuts, shaking his head. "They don't make 'em like they used to, anymore."

"There was never a comparison between you and him, darling," Hannibal replies.

Will smiles. "Will you bind his hands to the chain? I don't want him yanking these out."

Hannibal nods, and obeys, a third zip tie looped between the makeshift cuffs and attached to the chain on the wall. Will holds his arm out and lets Hannibal pull him to his feet, and back. Will tilts his head to one side, admiring his design. Gutless, weak, Elias sits like a beggar at the altar of a God long-dead.

Hannibal huffs a short laugh, and Will looks at him. "Perhaps now his life will be worth something," he says mildly.

Will cocks his head to one side, and looks back at Elias. "Something's missing," he murmurs, frowning. He can't quite place what it is. He eyes the length of tubing, the openings and the nutrients passed from his thighs, through his neck, to his arms. The mushrooms will follow the moisture, grow and multiply.

He smiles. "I know," he murmurs. He steps up to the Alpha, tilts his head back, and pries his mouth open. He fits another retractor between his teeth and locks it open as wide as it will go. Until his jaw cracks and his tongue hangs out, limp and useless.

Then, he takes the knife, and slices through the Alpha's gums above and below each of his four pronounced canines. He cuts until the teeth come free, and drop into his throat. He'll choke on them, or he'll swallow them. Will doesn't care which.

Hannibal smiles. "Personal?" he asks, mild and proud.

Will huffs, and kicks at the sheath with his blood-stained cast. Hannibal picks it up and Will wipes the blade on his shirt before returning the knife to its home. "It's a start."

 

 

They eat Larry's liver, and Will lets the mushrooms grow.

 

 

Elias' son clearly takes after his mother. He has wisps of dark, curling hair, and eyes the color of spring grass. He could, reasonably, be seen to take after Will.

They watch from the car, and Hannibal looks to him.

"Do you want to be a mother, Will?" he whispers, taking Will's hand and kissing his knuckles.

Will smiles. "I haven't decided yet," he replies. Then; "Yes."

Hannibal's smile widens.

"But not yet," Will whispers. "I won't bring a child into a broken home."

"Of course," his Alpha murmurs, and puts his eyes back on the boy. He's in his grandmother's arms, and hasn't stopped crying since he was brought outside. Perhaps he knows – or, more likely, he can smell the woman's grief, and is reacting to it.

Will smiles. "Do you think Abigail ever wanted siblings?"

"Perhaps," Hannibal replies. "We can ask her, when our time has come."

Will looks at him, startled at Hannibal's words. "You believe that will happen?" he asks, frowning. "That when we pass from this life, we will find her waiting for us, with open arms and a smile?"

Hannibal nods, smiling. "Yes," he replies. "And at her side, Mischa. And all others we held dear in our lives."

Will rolls his eyes, but is warmed at the idea. "I'll believe it when I see it."

"Think of it this way," Hannibal replies, and kisses Will's hand again; "What do you think would happen, if we were to go to the next life and not find ourselves satisfied? God will work to appease us, if He values His Heaven."

"Your arrogance knows no end, does it?" Will says, but he's purring, the creature in his chest contented and lax.

"God is a pragmatic creature," Hannibal replies. Will huffs a laugh, and leans over the console, takes Hannibal by the neck and kisses him deeply.

"I love you," he breathes. Hannibal's eyes flash, darken, and he sucks in a shaky breath as though, even after all this time, the words shock him as thoroughly as the concussive embrace of ocean water. The car stinks of his joy and Will breathes it in eagerly.

"As I love you," he replies, once he's recovered, and Will smiles. He nuzzles Hannibal's cheek and purrs.

 

 

Hannibal takes him upstairs, to his room. Will blinks when he sees it – the walls are a dark, royal purple and white, interchanging. The wood is lighter than he expected, in the cabinets and bedposts. The sheets and duvet are black, and the bottom of the walls are ringed with gold. So, too, the curtains are gold and tasseled, opulence and sanctuary in every space. There is art on the walls – some of it Will recognizes, paintings from artists long-dead. But there are others, that Hannibal drew himself. Perhaps while he was still recovering his own memory.

On the bedside table is a picture of himself, golden-eyed and smiling, and he huffs a laugh.

"When did you draw this?" he asks, touching it gently.

"The moment I woke up," Hannibal replies. Will looks at him, wide-eyed and wondering. Hannibal approaches him and takes Will's hands, brings them to his lips. Will shivers, cradling Hannibal's jaw, down his neck, and Hannibal smiles, lifts him by the thighs and plants him on the bed, making Will laugh.

Hannibal prowls over him as Will shifts, sliding across silky sheets until his head is on the golden pillows at the head of Hannibal's bed. Hannibal kisses him, deep and passionate, and Will shivers, spreading his legs.

"Are you finally going to sate my hunger?" Will growls.

Hannibal's eyes are a deep, vibrant red, and he nods. Will sucks in a breath, ready for it, aching for it, and Hannibal catches his wrists and plants them above his head.

"Keep them there," he commands, his Alpha Voice compelling Will to obey. Will gasps, whining already. "It's time for me to flourish within you."

Will swallows, digs his nails into the tops of the pillows, and gasps again when Hannibal lowers his mouth to Will's neck, licking over the dully aching mating bite on his pulse. His hands flatten on Will's stomach, pushing his shirt up to his chest and exposing him to Hannibal's ravenous gaze.

Will spreads his legs, arches his hips up when Hannibal tugs on his lounge pants – he dresses in the same oversized clothes Chiyoh got him, unwilling and uncaring enough to change them – and they go easily, and Hannibal tugs his underwear down in the same motion, baring Will's cock and thighs, his knees, and finally Hannibal pulls back and tugs his good ankle free. He carefully negotiates the second, and kisses above the cast before setting Will's leg down.

His eyes rake over Will – his flushed and heaving chest, his tense stomach, the wire cuts on his hips and thighs, all covered with the last remnants of mottled bruises of varying shades. He's artistry, brutality, and wears it like he would fine jewelry.

Hannibal breathes out, growling low. He turns his attention to his own clothes and Will watches, wide-eyed, devouring the sight of Hannibal's neck as it becomes exposed. His chest, matted with grey hair that makes Will think of Emperors, his broad shoulders and the muscles in his arms and hands as he discards his clothes. His stomach, the thickness of his gut and hips, the strength in his thighs as those, too, are removed from their clothing. His cock juts proudly, dripping at the head, and Will licks his lips as Hannibal stands at the foot of the bed and steps out of his pants and underwear, so he is not just as exposed, but more exposed, as Will still has his shirt bunched up under his arms.

"Hannibal," he breathes, his mouth dries at the sight of his beautiful mate. Hannibal smiles at him, and prowls back onto the bed, and Will spreads his legs to give him room to settle there. He's already slick, the scent of his arousal is sharp in his nose and he can't imagine how he smells to Hannibal, but Hannibal's jaws are parted, his breathing heavy and ragged, and Will can't describe the look on his face as anything but pure, raw desire.

Hannibal runs his hands up Will's arms, circles his wrists. He tugs them down to Will's chest and lets go. "Touch me," he commands, and Will rears up immediately, kissing Hannibal's exposed, flushed neck, one arm around his shoulders and the other settles heavy and wide on Hannibal's back. Hannibal growls, buries his face in Will's neck, and rests his body on Will's, smothers him with his weight and his pride.

Will moans, whimpering, his cock twitches as Hannibal's hands settle on the insides of his thighs, force him to spread wider. "Please," he begs, rasping the word into the still air between them. This, he decides, this is what it feels like to drown in the ocean. His lungs burn except when Hannibal breathes life into him, his body is cold except where Hannibal touches him. He aches.

Hannibal's shoulders shake, his thumbs dig in tight to Will's thighs, and he lifts his head to nuzzle Will's ear.

"Lay your mark," he commands, "and I'll give you what you want."

Reward on top of reward. Hannibal doesn't use his Voice, but Will obeys it as eagerly and quickly as if he had. He parts his jaws, finds the place in Hannibal's neck where his heart beats strongest, and sinks his teeth into his flesh with a low snarl.

Hannibal's blood fills his mouth, spiced wine and red meat, and Hannibal growls, rolls his hips, and pushes his cock into Will's slick body. It stings a little – although Omegas can get slick, they usually are stretched first, too – but Will doesn't care. He wraps his good leg around Hannibal's hips, turns his nails into claws in his mate's back, and howls for him.

Hannibal's snarl is loud and low, stuck in his chest as Will suckles at his neck. He sinks into Will's body, parts flesh unclaimed by any other, and Will closes his eyes and gasps, unable to hold the bite. He swallows, and Hannibal lets go of one thigh, fists his hand in Will's hair, and kisses him like he wants to devour Will in turn.

Will snarls, claws at Hannibal's back and shoulders, urges him deeper, to move faster, to slip into the tides of Will's body and let himself drown. Hannibal's gentleness is evident in his hands, but not in his mouth, nor in the strength with which he claims Will's flesh.

Will wants it. The chain of thorns around his heart thrashes, uncoils like a snake, sinks its spines into Hannibal's chest as he kisses Will, tucks Will's forehead to his chest, covers and consumes him. Will claws at him in turn, thighs tight on Hannibal's hips, his breathing heavy and sweat soaking them both. Will's body is slick and welcoming, so slick that the wet sound of their bodies colliding etches itself into his mind as deeply as a brand.

He touches the brand of the Verger seal left between Hannibal's shoulders, and snarls, thinking of roasting Mason and Cordell like pigs on a spit. There are so many people he remembers for whom one death is not nearly enough.

Hannibal bites his shoulder, doesn't break skin, but sucks a bruise there that will blossom like the dawn. Will whimpers, sucks in a shaky breath, and his stomach tenses when Hannibal fucks him at just the right angle, touches that place that lights up his spine.

He lets out an encouraging moan, shoves his forehead against Hannibal's cheek until the Alpha lifts his head and meets his eyes. "Just like that," he purrs, making sure his blood-wet throat works at just the right way to encourage his Alpha. He won't get a Voice for a few hours, while the growth changes his vocal cords, but he has always known just what to say and how to move, to get a reaction from Hannibal.

Whether it's to wound, or to praise, Will's tongue is the best weapon he has.

Hannibal's eyes flash, and he bites Will's lower lip until his mouth parts, and Hannibal can taste his own blood on Will's tongue. He thrusts in again, ruts his hips tight to Will's to get that angle, and Will moans, loudly, clawing at his mate's spine.

"Again," he demands, and Hannibal obeys, weak with it, snarling into his mouth. "Again, yes."

"Will," Hannibal breathes, cups the nape of his neck, kisses him once, twice, steals the breath from his lungs. Will gives it eagerly, and drags his nails down Hannibal's side, dips lower, finds his cock and starts to stroke. He's wet with slick and sweat and the going is easy, and he whimpers into Hannibal's mouth.

Hannibal's rhythm abruptly slows, his hand gets tight on Will's thigh. He shivers, parts his lips from Will's, nips at his jaw and bares his teeth against the scar from Dolarhyde's knife.

"Please," Will whispers, for he knows what comes next as surely as he knows his own name. His hand tightens on the head of his cock, twisting, his stomach sinking in. "Please, Alpha. Please."

"Will," Hannibal gasps, his jaw flexing. Will touches his neck to feel him swallow. "Mine."

"Yes," Will replies. And, swallowing, he adds; "Mylimasis. Prašau."

Hannibal goes still, lifts his eyes and looks down at Will.

Beloved. Please.

He touches Will's face with a shaking hand, and Will smiles, pleased at himself for rendering Hannibal completely shell-shocked. He turns his head and kisses Hannibal's wrist, and Hannibal swallows, clenches his jaw, and takes Will by the hips, lifting him up and onto Hannibal's thighs so that he can rut as deep as possible into Will's body.

Will trembles, gasping as he feels Hannibal's knot swelling, locking them together. It's a sharp, burning ache, and he hauls himself upright until he's in Hannibal's lap, cups his nape and kisses him and Hannibal uses the position to free his hand, wrap it around Will's cock.

Will growls, rests his forehead on Hannibal's shoulder, and trembles in his arms.

He turns his head, finds the sluggishly bleeding bite mark he left, and sinks his teeth into Hannibal's neck, swallows down more of that sweet, spiced blood-wine, and spills over their stomachs. They're pressed so tight together and Will is so slick, it's hardly a difference, but his body clenches down tight on Hannibal's knot, he jerks his hips and ruts his cock against Hannibal's stomach, chasing the pleasure, the tug of his mate inside of him.

Can't run now, Hannibal's monster purrs.

Never wanted to, his own answers.

Hannibal nuzzles his shoulder, wraps his arms around Will's back, and lays them down. Will settles on Hannibal's chest, glad that he won't have to bear Hannibal's weight while they wait for his knot to go down. His chest is heaving and aching with strain, his stomach empty and full all at once. He feels heavy, warm as hypothermia, and sighs, lapping kitten-like at Hannibal's sweaty, flushed neck.

Hannibal pets down his back, up through his hair, and kisses his cheek.

Will smiles, touches his nose to Hannibal's ear, and licks over his jaw. "I'm sorry I never got to meet Mischa," he whispers.

Hannibal hums, a flicker-fire of sadness salting his face, before it fades away. Old wounds don't hurt as much when tempered with time and vengeance.

"She would have loved you," he replies, curling his fingers in Will's sweat-damp hair.

"As I would have loved her," Will says. "I feel like, somehow, I still can. I do."

Hannibal smiles, and leans up to catch Will's mouth in a kiss.

 

 

The child keeps crying, until the second Will holds him in his arms. They take him in the middle of the night, into their car and away from Elias' village. They leave Elias' mother in her bed – she is without sin, until she is with it, and Will bears no grudge against her.

The boy falls asleep on Will's chest, trusting and lax, and Will nuzzles his mess of dark curls, holds him gently, and smiles over at Hannibal.

"Did Elias tell you his name?" he asks. He clears his throat when his voice comes out hoarse – his Voice is new, and typically Omegas and Alphas have a hard time speaking immediately after gaining one.

Hannibal shakes his head.

Will gives a considering hum. The child stirs in his arms, blinks open bright, glassy eyes that stare up at Will like he holds the stars. Will purrs to him, nuzzles his hair and kisses his forehead, and the boy smiles, gummy and wide at him.

"He might be young enough to have a new one," Hannibal suggests.

Will raises an eyebrow, and smiles. "Any ideas?"

Hannibal shrugs one shoulder, lips pursed as he thinks.

Will lets him think, presses his lips to the child's forehead and breathes in his scent. He smells like saltwater and pine cones, not like his father at all, which Will appreciates. As he ages, Hannibal's and Will's scent will imprint on him, and he will take on pieces of it until he resembles their own son.

The child coos, places one hand gently on Will's bite mark, and lays his head down to rest on Will's chest again.

"What about Moze?" Hannibal suggests. Will looks at him. "It means 'Saved from the water'."

Will huffs a laugh. "A little on the nose, don't you think?"

Hannibal smiles.

"What about Victor?"

"Now who's being on the nose?" Hannibal says, teasing and soft so as not to wake the boy. Will huffs a laugh, and nuzzles the child when he stirs.

He pauses for a long while, and then, softly; "I like Michael."

Hannibal cocks his head, seeming to consider it. "In this country, it will be pronounced 'Mishael'," he murmurs. It's not an argument.

Will hums. "Too close?" he whispers.

Hannibal is silent for a while, and then he reaches out and touches Will's hand, squeezing gently. "No," he replies, soft. "I think it's perfect."

 

 

The snow thaws, and the days grow longer. Many months later, Will is fully healed and can walk and move without strain. He is confident enough in the language to venture into town on his own. The woman Chiyoh first took him to cuts his hair and gives him a knowing look when she sees the mating mark on his neck. Will flushes and accepts the glass of goat milk she plies on him with a thankful sound.

He carries Michael into the garden, watches him play with the flowers and in the dirt, crawling and stumble-walking as he chases butterflies. Elias dies, grows into a mushroom garden like his father, and Hannibal and Will plant them both by the stream while their son sleeps.

"Mama!" Will looks up and smiles as Michael barrels towards him. He scoops the child up into his arms and settles him on his lap. Michael has his hands closed, and when Will lets out a curious noise, he opens them to reveal a spider, curled up tight in his little palms.

Will smiles. "Catch that yourself, did you?" he murmurs, and Michael nods excitedly. "My little hunter." He kisses Michael's forehead, and scoops the spider from his hands, settling it on the bench beside them.

Michael yawns, both his grubby hands pressed over his mouth, and Will laughs, standing and hoisting the boy into his arms. "Are you hungry?" he murmurs, and Michael nods, giving a sleepy purr. Will kisses his forehead again and lets him tuck his face against Will's neck. "Alright. Let's go see what your father has for us."

He finds Hannibal in the kitchen, and the Alpha turns, his entire body and expression softening with love and affection when he sees the two of them. Michael stirs, turns in Will's arms, and reaches for Hannibal. Hannibal scoops him up and they rest their foreheads together, brown and green like rich Earth.

"He caught a spider," Will says, smiling when Hannibal does.

"He will grow into a fierce man," Hannibal replies. He sets Michael on the kitchen island, tickling him until he squeals, and Will settles down next to him and tilts his cheek into Hannibal's palm. "It is good to hunt, mažasis," he says – 'little one'. "But, also important, is to know when to let your prey go."

Michael smiles, and leans in to touch his forehead to Hannibal's again.

"He'll learn that from you," Will murmurs, soft and affectionate. "I don't let my prey go, once they're mine."

"A fact I know intimately," Hannibal declares, and leans in to kiss Will chastely. "And I thank you for it every day."

Will smiles, purring, and gathers Michael into his arms. "We're hungry, Hannibal," he says, low and fine. Hannibal's eyes flash.

"Well, then," he replies, his eyes on his son, then on Will. "It's a good thing this particular prey animal did not escape."

Michael yawns again, and Will huffs a laugh, and accepts another kiss when it's granted him. "Go to the dinner table," Hannibal murmurs, "and I will see you both well fed."

Will smiles, warm and delighted, and kisses Hannibal one more time. "Don't keep me waiting, Doctor Lecter."

Hannibal's teeth show, and he tucks his finger under Will's chin, tilts his head to one side to expose his mating mark – a fine, white scar, peppered constantly with bruises and new bites Hannibal lays to his skin every night.

Will smiles when Hannibal's eyes darken, and he licks his lips, and lets Will go.

Will goes to the dining room, and sits with his son. There's a new painting on the wall, and he tilts his head to admire it. It is the painting of Nemesis, Justice, and Divine Vengeance chasing Crime, by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. Will smiles, looking at the painting, and he kisses Michael's forehead.

Hannibal brings him slices of cheese, and prosciutto made from Curly's meat, finally ready to be consumed. Will feeds tiny pieces of it to Michael while they sip wine and bask in each other's company. The teacup has reassembled itself, and the scent of the ocean-salt of Hannibal's joy fills Will's lungs and echoes in his son's laughter.

He sighs, and pets Michael's hair as he drifts off to sleep in Will's arms. "I think," he says quietly, "that this could be the beginning of a wonderful new year, Doctor Lecter."

"Here's to a thousand more like it," Hannibal replies, and raises his glass of wine in a toast.

Will laughs, rolls his eyes, and clinks their glasses together. The noise echoes, fills the warm, empty house, and Will feels contented, and finally sated.

I will bring you rest.

The ocean does not call him home. The creature in his chest opens its large, glowing eyes, and finds Hannibal's monster in the dark shadows of the room. They curl together around the bright Icarus star of their cub, and settle down to sleep.