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When the Sunset Shifts

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Hannibal can always tell when a full moon is close. For days, Will hovers close by his side. He's touchier than usual, constantly finding excuses to put his hands on Hannibal. A brush of fingers over knuckles, a hand resting on the small of Hannibal's back. His favorite is always the affectionate nuzzling, leaning into the warm touch as Will buries his face in the crook of his neck.

There's a noticeable spike in his anxiety too. A small creak of the house settling has him pausing in the middle of tying a lure, body going rigid with mounting tension. When Hannibal places a gentle hand on his shoulder, only then does he begin to relax again. The effect his presence has on the wolf does not go unnoticed. Hannibal's stomach flutters as he runs his other hand through the mess of dark curls before him, delighting in the soft sigh it provokes and the way Will presses up into the touch.

When the day finally arrives, Will is avoidant and quiet. He busies himself with just about anything he can find to do to ease the shake of his hands, to ignore the nervous energy thrumming under his skin. As the sun begins to set, he paces back and forth through the kitchen, running his hands through his hair as he feels his teeth begin to ache.

Hannibal lies awake in his coffin upstairs, listening to the uneasy footfalls, and wishes to kiss the anxiety away. But he doesn't dare rise yet, he knows Will prefers to be left alone when he shifts. He'd always withdrawn himself from Hannibal during the full moon. He respected Will's choice then, but now the curiosity was consuming him. He wanted so badly to watch Will grow and change, to give himself over to instinct under the gentle glow of the moon.

The house grows eerily quiet as night finally falls. Noiselessly, Hannibal slips from his coffin and descends the stairs without hesitation. Will's ragged breaths filter into his ears as he reaches the landing. Regardless of how quiet he can be, he knows Will has already scented him. It's dangerous to do this, Will could easily rip his head right from his shoulders after he shifts, but it's a risk he's willing to take.

Will is bent over the kitchen counter, knuckles white, when Hannibal stops in the doorway. Several sets of wary little eyes watch them both from where the dogs sit anxiously on the kitchen floor, all of them channeling Will's nerves. Hannibal can see his whole body is quaking. Will keeps his head down as he speaks, voice strained.

"You should go back upstairs. I'll be fine. I'm always back here in the morning," he's trying to sound calm, but Hannibal knows better. He has no intentions of letting Will hide away from him anymore.

When he makes no move to leave, Will exhales a heavy sigh through his nose. "Hannibal, please," he can hear the slight pleading bleed into his tone, "I don't want to risk hurting you. I'm not fully in control of myself when I shift."

The countertop creaks under Will's grip, "If I were to hurt you, or worse, I-"

Hannibal interjects with a small smile, "I don't believe you will hurt me, Will."

Will's head swivels to look Hannibal in the face, his eyes glowing a bright yellow in the dimly lit kitchen, "You don't know that."

"No," he allows, "but I trust you."

Hannibal studies the way Will's face scrunches up and twitches in a mixture of worry and pain. He's fighting back the shift as much as he possibly can, waiting until Hannibal is safely out of the way.

"Will," Hannibal's voice is a deep, soothing balm to Will's aching head, "let go."

He watches as Will's resolve crumbles with an anxious growl. His back curls over the counter before he pushes away, staggering into the center of the room. A pained shudder wracks his fevered body.

He's out the back door in one rushed motion, the dogs all following at his heels. They immediately take off into the woods, like they've done every time. The little pack are well versed with the woods and surrounding area, and Will knows they'll all be right back home come morning.

Tipping his head up toward the clear night sky, he takes a few deep, steadying breaths. The crisp Fall air is a welcome relief against the heat of his skin, sending goosebumps up his arms.

He listens as Hannibal steps out into the night, and wishes the vampire would stop being so stubborn. He spares Hannibal one last fleeting glance, an unvoiced question. The gentle smile he receives in return is all the answer he needs.

Gritting out a wary sigh, Will stops holding back, allowing the moon's radiant glow to consume him. Hannibal watches with rapt attention, eager curiosity burning bright behind his dark eyes. The moon illuminates and shadows Will in equal measure as his body begins to twist. There's a sickening pop and crack as bones readjust. His back curls over, hands balled into tight fists.

Hannibal stares in awe as Will's shoulders grow wider, as the fabric of his flannel buttonup and jeans stretches and rips at the seams. He sinks down to all fours, mouth open in a snarl. His face distorts and elongates, teeth growing larger, sharper, taking on a wolfish visage.

The vampire shivers at the sight before him, knowing how intimate this is for the both of them. How much trust he's putting in Will, and how much trust Will is putting in him to allow him to see this part of himself.

The shift is complete in a matter of seconds. Will slowly lifts himself off the ground, panting raggedly. He settles back on his feet, now large and pawlike, covered in the tattered remains of his boots. Hannibal makes a mental note to buy him a new pair later.

He drinks in the sight of him, larger now in a myriad of ways. His shoulders have a slight hunch, but Hannibal approximates he could easily be over 6'7". His body is covered head to toe in thick, dark fur; Hannibal wants so badly to reach out and touch it, feel if it's as soft as Will's usual curls. He glances up and smiles at the sight of those curls still sitting messily atop his head, framing his wolf-like face. A pair of tall, sharp-tipped wolf ears peek out from under his hair, twitching as they pick up little faraway sounds.

It's then he realizes Will has been watching him as well, yellow eyes boring holes into him, but he makes no move toward the vampire. Hannibal tilts his head curiously, smiling as Will mirrors him. He takes a tentative step forward and stops, watching Will for any warning signs. He fears above all, that he will turn and run away from him.

Will stays still however, encouraging Hannibal to step closer. He moves slowly, excitement fluttering in his chest as he approaches Will. He stops when he's just within the wolf's reach, gaze trailing from where his shirt hangs in pieces over his much wider, furred chest and up to his face.

Recognition flashes through those yellow eyes, and Hannibal sucks in a breath as Will reaches for him. His hand is still humanlike in structure, but much bigger and covered in fur. Large, soft fingers glide down Hannibal's cheek, sharp claws trailing over his jawline. The touch is so gentle it makes the vampire smile.

He takes hold of Will's wrist, as much as he can, and places his other hand atop the upturned palm. Hannibal stifles a little shiver at how much Will's hands dwarf his own now, when usually Hannibal's are just a little bigger than the other man's. Will watches Hannibal's hand disappear when he closes his large fingers over it. He huffs, big, fluffy tail wagging a bit, and leans down to give Hannibal's face an affectionate lick.

The vampire feels a blush rise to his cheeks at the gesture. Leaning forward, rising on his tiptoes to reach, Hannibal places a kiss on the werewolf's nose. Will's grip tightens briefly on Hannibal's hand, a quick squeeze, before he lets go completely. Hannibal watches as he turns, throwing his head back, and howls, long and loud, at the moon.

When he stops, he casts a glance over his shoulder. His head is clearer than it had ever been during a full moon. He wonders if the difference this time was simply the calming presence of his soulmate. Placing both hands on the cold ground, Will takes off without a second thought, disappearing into the thick line of trees surrounding his house. Hannibal catches up to him easily, and follows him through the dark woods. Excitement floods him as he runs with Will, twisting and turning through the forest, accompanying him as he hunts and explores.

He's delighted when they come upon an unsuspecting human, out alone for a walk along a path deep in the woods. His excitement morphs into a strong emotion he can't quite name, a mix of pride and joy perhaps, as he watches his beloved werewolf tear the man apart as if he were nothing. Claws and teeth, sharp as knives, rip into soft insides, blood shining slick and black on his hands and face and teeth under the gentle moonlight.