The man standing in Jack Crawford’s office, inspecting the cork board, has a bright red tie. Will can see it in profile, a sharp sliver of color where there was none. He knows it is red because he knows blood is red, and he can see the smattering of it on the pictures of Elise Nichols that Jack has hung up. Will stops in the doorway and can go no further. If he steps close, he might reach out, try to touch something he had thought he would never have.
The man looks up, a polite smile on his face, and freezes. The smile drops, and in its place is something hungry and raw. Will feels devoured, consumed. He’s not sure he dislikes it.
“What color?” Will whispers, hoarse.
The man’s eyes flutter around the room, looking for context and lingering over the picture of Jack’s wife on his desk, the broad expanse of sky behind her. “Blue,” He replies, just as awe-struck, eyes flickering back to Will, “Your eyes are the most beautiful shade of blue.”
Will flushes. Jack groans. “It’s not like you have anything to compare it to,” Will points out.
“I suspect it will remain true, regardless.” The man turns to Jack with an entirely inappropriate smile, given the way Jack is now glaring at him. “I’m afraid I will no longer be able to provide the service you require of me. It would be an ethical violation.”
Will stares for a long moment, until the words click into place.
“You brought him in to psychoanalyze me?” He hisses, all red forgotten as he wheels on the gray-grimace of Jack’s features.
People keep stopping Will to congratulate him, and to ask him to tell them what colors things are. He keeps having to remind them it’s still new, all he has so far is red. They ask anyway. Color is a novelty to someone who doesn’t have it.
“You’d think we got married,” Will complains to Hannibal. They’re eating lunch at a tiny but popular restaurant, because Will had declared dinner at Hannibal’s house to be ‘too much, too fast.’ He’d let Hannibal choose the restaurant, though, a decision he does not regret.
“Some people do,” Hannibal points out. Will frowns and stabs viciously at his quiche.
“Not me,” He swears, “No paintball weddings, okay? No whirlwind plans full of flowers we can’t even see properly.” Will peaks up to judge Hannibal’s reaction and adds, cautiously, “It’s kind of jumping the gun, anyway. 7% of soulmate relationships end up being platonic.” It’s a small number, minuscule, but its what Will had expected, when he let himself expect anything at all.
“Are you asking?” Hannibal says, sipping his own water much more delicately than Will has touched anything at all so far.
“Yeah,” Will whispers, “Yeah, I’m asking.”
“Will,” Hannibal’s hand settles on Will’s wrist, turns his hand over to trace nonsense patterns on the ticklish center of Will’s palm. “I don’t want our relationship to be platonic.”
Will swallows heavily and stares at the red of Hannibal’s tie. He always wears red ties around Will, like he knows how much it assures Will to see the color on him. “Me neither.”
Will dreams in black and white and red red blood, dripping between his fingers and down his thighs. Intimacy and violence, all in one, teeth in his flesh and a cock deep inside him, the push-pull of sex riding him to a peak that shatters in a flash of colors he can’t discern.
He wakes wet and sticky and irritated. They haven’t even kissed yet.
“I like to cook,” Hannibal offers through the phone, “And I enjoy the opera.” These are, apparently, the most fundamental pieces that make up Hannibal Lecter, but the mere knowledge of them doesn’t bring color. They’re just words, it’s not the same as truly knowing.
“I have seven dogs,” Will offers, “I’d really like you to meet them.”
Hannibal comes in a sweater instead of a tie, but still bright red, still a splash of color in Will’s world. The dogs overwhelm him, behaved enough to keep from jumping up, but eager enough to bring sticks and plead for attention. Hannibal indulges them with the same fond smile he keeps for Will. When he finally makes his way to the porch, his gray skin is tinged with the red flush of exertion.
“Green,” He says, before Will can say anything at all, “Your eyes have flecks of green in them, vibrant as the grass.”
He kisses Will, firm and fierce, in front of the dogs that Will cherishes so much, the piece of Will that brought him another color.
Hannibal has two colors to Will’s one, and so Will acquiesces to dinner at Hannibal’s house. He lingers in the kitchen, hovers just over Hannibal’s shoulder, and lets Hannibal explain the dish.
“A beef roulade,” Hannibal says, “With a citrus garnish, both for zest and for color. Or so the book has claimed, matched chefs are always very concerned with the color of a dish.” Will creeps as close as he dares, chin nearly brushing Hannibal’s shoulder. He’s so intent on the way Hannibal’s hands hold the orange in place, it’s almost no surprise at all when it splits open into a bright, colorful circle.
“Oranges are orange,” Will jokes, “Who knew?”
Hannibal looks over his shoulder so quickly that their noses bump. Will chuckles and corrects the kiss.
It stalls there for a while. Will sees the world in flashes of heat and nothing more.
Hannibal goes fishing with Will, and later, in Will’s living room, tells him all about his dogs and their varying shades of caramel, until Will has to kiss him in sheer gratitude.
Hannibal shows up for Will’s class, watches him talk through killers like he’s living in their heads. After the students leave, he presses Will back against his own desk and whispers into his mouth how beautiful he is, flushed red in his shyness.
Hannibal stands behind Will at a crime scene and later presents Will with a scarf that he swears up and down is just the right shade of purple to bring out Will’s eyes.
There are still colors Hannibal is missing, but he seems to gain new ones faster than Will can adjust to the two he has. It’s flattering, intoxicating, but also intimately painful.
They’re hand in hand on a street corner, walking back to the car after a heavy dinner, when Will finally makes himself say it.
“Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know you at all.”
Hannibal’s hand tightens on his. It’s a long walk back to the car. The restaurant Hannibal had chosen was overwhelmingly popular with minimal parking. It’s a long way to walk in silence, if Will has pushed too far.
But then, Hannibal’s grip relaxes. He runs soothing touches over Will’s chilled fingers, and brings their hands up to press soft kisses to the knuckles.
“There are things I want to tell you,” Hannibal whispers, “Things I’ve never told anyone. But they hurt, Will. They stab sharp and fresh every time I relive them.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Will tells him.
“But I want you to know. Someday.” Hannibal sighs, pausing his kisses to envelop Will’s hands in his own buttery soft leather gloves. Will puts up a token protest, but he knows Hannibal loves to put a pleased flush on his face.
“I had a sister once,” Hannibal tells him, as they start walking again, “Mischa. She was so young when she… I loved her more than anything. More than our parents. She was much younger than I was, and she may well have been mine. More my child than my sister, my sweet baby. I would sit by the fire and rock her to sleep, when she was small. The way I lost her was violent and too soon.”
Will considers that, thinks it through. Counts backwards from Hannibal’s most recent birthday, makes a few guesses about when he would have grown up. “She was taken from you,” He says slowly, “Not lost. Stolen.”
Hannibal’s grip tightens again, but this time, it is not anger. It’s a clutch for balance, a man seeking reassurance. “I took as much as was taken from me,” He whispers, further away from Will in that moment than he has ever been. His eyes are decades back, unseeing.
Will cups Hannibal’s cheek with his gloved hand and summons him back, brings him into the present with a kiss against the soft bow of his lips. “You don’t have to tell me tonight,” He whispers, breath intermingling with Hannibal’s, so close he can taste the sorrow on his tongue, “But when you do, it won’t push me away.” Because he knows, of course he does, what Hannibal would have done to protect Mischa. He knew before Hannibal confirmed it with dark words and darker glares.
Hannibal looks like he wants to say something, perhaps to spill all right here on the street corner, but at that moment a man passes by, close enough to dig his shoulder hard into Will’s back and send him toppling to the sidewalk.
“Fucking faggots,” The man spits as he walks away, but all Will really cares about is the yellow of his shirt, and Hannibal’s sturdy hands helping him back up.
The fact that his first color was red is something Will has never ascribed any particular significance. It’s just the first color his visual cortex latched onto when the connection is made. The brain finds it easier to translate a color it’s already looking at, and Will has never been good at looking at faces.
Now, with a pool of blood at his feet, Will knows better. Red is the only color it ever could have been, that first time.
Will recognizes the man, crucified against a tree, pinned with sturdy, iron nails. The deep red of blood disfigures him, but doesn’t hide him. It’s the same man who had knocked Will down, who’d sworn at them, who had gifted Will with his first touch of yellow.
There’s yellow here, too, flowers bursting from the man’s chest in a dozen vibrant shades of the same color, yellow flowers dripping with red blood, the only colors Will can see, wrapped up in a bouquet.
The ribbons that hold the stems together look gray to Will, but he knows before he turns to Jack, exactly what they must be.
“What color are the ribbons?”
“Blue and green.”
Will looks back at the flowers, at the gift the man has become, and knows.
The entire crime scene bursts into color around him.
Will lets himself into Hannibal’s house in the middle of the night. Hannibal should be asleep, but Will knows he won’t be. He’ll have heard the car pull up, the footsteps. How can you be a sound sleeper, when you always have to be wary of those who might come for you?
Hannibal stands at the foot of the stairs, in a bathrobe, deep red like clotting blood, and gray- true gray- pajamas.
“I saw what you left for me,” Will whispers. He hangs his coat in the closet and makes sure Hannibal sees him tuck his gun into the pocket. Will has come unarmed, and alone.
“And what did you think of your gift?” Hannibal asks, wary. Will reaches for his hand.
“Let me show you.”
“Your sheets are blue,” Will says, laying Hannibal out on them, “But you know that already.”
“I don’t know what color they were, before I met you,” Hannibal whispers back, “I threw them away.”
“Of course you did.” Will tugs Hannibal out of the bathrobe, the pajamas. He lets Hannibal strip him as well, until they are bare to each other.
“There are so many shades to you,” Will whispers, pressing kisses to Hannibal’s jaw, trailing down his neck to nip at his throat. “Your skin. It’s not just one color. It’s red and white and peach, a thousand pigments. The blue of your veins. The deep brown of your eyes.”
“I see you,” Hannibal whispers, yanking Will up into a proper kiss. “I looked at you, in my entryway, and when you knew me, I knew you. I knew every piece of you, and you blossomed into color before my eyes.”
“You already had most of them anyway,” Will teases. Hannibal huffs out a laugh and wraps a hand, firm and steady, around Will’s aching cock.
“Now I have them all,” Hannibal says, stroking once, twice, constant pressure that makes Will tilt his head back on a moan, “I have them all, and I have you.”
“Not yet you don’t,” Will corrects, and reaches for the bedside drawer.
The tube of lubricant is a shade of not-blue that must, by process of elimination, be purple. The condom wrapper is the darkened, metallic yellow of a gold coin. Will lets Hannibal open him up and then pins him to the mattress, Will’s weight heavy across his hips.
“I’m going to go with you next time,” Will whispers as he eases himself down. Hannibal is large in his hand, bigger still inside of him. Will drops inch by inch, little rocks of his hips that have him whimpering. Hannibal looks as if he can’t even bear to blink, clutching at Will’s hips with a painful grip. Will links their fingers together, instead, presses Hannibal’s hands back against the deep blue sheets. “I’m going to go with you,” he says again, and lifts himself up, until Hannibal is barely held inside him, “and you’re going to paint me a picture, with every color a body can be.” He drops again, a rush of sensation as Hannibal fills him back up, touches every empty place inside of him. Will cries out, clutches tight to Hannibal’s hands.
“Anything you want,” Hannibal promises, “Anything. Anyone.”
“I’ll pick you someone good,” Will says, “Did you know bruises change colors? Purples and grays and yellows. You’ll show me all of them, won’t you?” Hannibal’s hands flex in Will’s grip. Will holds him firmer, rolls his hips a little harder.
Hannibal could break free, if he wanted to. Will has seen his crime scenes, seen the bodies he can lift and mangle and mutilate. He could have Will on his back in seconds, dead in minutes.
But Hannibal isn’t going to do that. He’s going to lie there and let Will chase his pleasure, because he’s never expected anyone to know him, and now Will does. Will knows him so well that he aches with it.
“I’ll show you everything,” Hannibal says, and arches his back, hips thrusting into the eager give of Will’s body. He jolts against Will, makes him see stars.
“Again,” Will demands, gasping for breath as he jerks his body, harsh, frantic rolls of his hips up and down until he can no longer bear to pull away, even for a second. Hannibal obeys, pumps up into Will in short, deep thrusts that guide Will closer and closer to climax.
Will feels like he’s losing his mind. Everything is a flood of color and sensation, overwhelming and intense. He lets go of Hannibal’s hand, goes loose-limbed and pliant in Hannibal’s lap, leaning in for a kiss.
“Show me,” He whispers, tugging at Hannibal’s lip with his teeth, “Show me all of you.”
Hannibal growls. One moment, he is beneath Will, docile and tamed. The next, Will is staring up at the ceiling, crying out as Hannibal pushes his knees up to his chest and fucks into him in short, sharp strokes. He grinds against Will with a purpose, never far enough away to give Will a break. Each heavy jolt to Will’s prostate blends into the next, a constant pressure, over and over until Will throws his head back and comes all over his own stomach. Hannibal falters, hesitates, until Will reaches out and sinks sharp nails into his hip.
“All of you,” He demands, eyes locked on Hannibal’s. Hannibal thrusts again, and again, until Will is sobbing with the force of it, pleasure and pain and the sharp too-much of it all, beautiful and agonizing in one. Hannibal drops Will’s legs in favor of his curls, tilting his head back with a painful yank. When he finally comes, he’s inside Will in every way he can be. In his body, in his mind, even with his teeth, razor sharp against Will’s collarbone. He collapses against Will, pins him into place, and Will clings to him with shaking arms.
“It’s going to scar,” Will whispers, tracing his fingers through the red of his own blood. He’s surprise by how gleeful he feels about it. “Will you do it again?”
“Every night, if you let me.”
Will grins up at him, a kaleidoscope of colors.
Their art will be beautiful.