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Loneliest Souls

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Check out all the wonderful art some people have made for the story!

Mad Dog of Bucharest and The Chesapeake Ripper’s Bride by Izcm 

The King and The Prince by baby_cinema 

**

 

 

 

Hannibal’s damp caress clung onto Will’s pallid cheeks long after the man disappeared.

 

“My dear Will… Just when I thought we finally understood one another.”

 

Will curled his fingers into wet sand, desperately searching for purchase amongst the microscopic bits of shells that dug under his nails.

 

“I think some time apart would do us both some good.”

 

The feeling of his thin lips lingered like a brand of hot iron. It was their first and only kiss, less than an expression of love and more of a necessity to keep him alive. Will reached for him, only to find Hannibal just out of reach, watching him with unreadable eyes.

 

“Goodbye.”

 

He couldn’t look up to see his face, but Will clearly remembered how his tears glittered before joining the receding waves of the Atlantic. But a drop in the ocean, he thought, watching silently as Hannibal wiped his face and walked away, disappearing into the line of trees.

 

‘Wait

Don’t go

I was wrong

Hannibal

Stay’

 

But the man did not look back, and Will’s body was too broken to heed his commands.

 

~*

 

Recovery was a strange ordeal. When he slept he could hear the murmurs of foreign voices and when he wakes, he was faced with the face of a dozen strangers. Molly told him that he used to work with some of them, but their name felt foreign on his tongue. When they tried to talk to him Will just looked at them blankly and pushed the button for more Morphine.

 

Retrograde amnesia, the doctor called it, but just two days after his diagnosis, his memory came back and he attacked Jack Crawford with a discarded syringe from the hospital bin.

 

‘You made him leave. If you were dead, he would’ve been free to come back to me.’

 

Of course he didn’t say them out loud.

 

That little outburst was quickly blamed to trauma and stress, and his diagnosis was changed from amnesia to PTSD. Will hated being painted as a victim, but he was glad for the new label. It kept Jack and the FBI away from him, giving him a resemblance of peace while he let his body mend.

 

For a while he thought he had seen the last of them, but a day before his release, Molly came in with a file for him to sign. It was a police statement, each words doctored to suit the FBI’s needs.

 

The Bureau wanted as little implication as possible on their hands. Their reputation would be tarnished if the press got a hold that one of their own killed with the Ripper. At first Will had no reason to oppose the statement, but when he read the file, he ended up throwing the whole thing across the room.

 

They want him to say that Hannibal killed Dolarhyde, and that he pushed him off the cliff afterwards. They painted Hannibal as some unstable psychopath, and Will as this hopeless little hostage who’s merely caught in the crossfire, simpering and hiding away from battle like a little girl.

 

If blood could boil his would be as hot as magma. It’s simply not true. They shared something special together that day. It was bloody, painful, and transcendent beyond words.  How could they paint it as a hostage scene that would bore even their most pedestrian readers?

 

“I can’t sign this Moly. I can’t hurt him again. Not like this.”

 

 

***

 

“It’s isn’t too late to fix your story Will.” Jack said, waving the fabricated statement as Will packed off the last of his belongings.

 

“I’m sorry Jack. I cant help you.” Will gave him a crooked smile, his stitches tugging on his cheeks painfully. “I don’t lie. Not anymore.”

 

The man eyes hardened.

 

“Then they’re going to blame everything on you!” He shouted after Will’s retreating back. “You’re going to get called up to the stand and no one is going to help you!”

 

‘Hannibal did.’ Will thought, remembering the very lips that breathe life back into his.

 

***

 

 

Life after Hannibal was muted in both tone and colors.

 

Will had held some hope that he would someday feel like himself again, yet nothing seemed to hold his interest. Food held no appeal to him, each bite of mediocre morsel reminding him of the taste of Dolarhyde’s blood on Hannibal’s lips. He simply sat on his porch, staring out into space while ignoring his wife, his child, and his pack.

 

The public came down on him with a vengeance. Despite being absolved in the court of law, he was now known as the ‘Ripper’s Wife’ for his fierce defense at the stand. He had Freddie Lounds to thank for that, ever the sensationalist, but his scathing remarks about the FBI probably didn’t help his case.

 

When he was his public, people threw angry glares out his way. Will wasn’t bothered, he was used to the fear and scorn of others. Afterall, Disdain was easier to take than pity. Will hated being pitied, for he was not a helpless victim. After all, he slayed a dragon, an achievement he held proudly close in his heart.

 

While the accusations and abuse rolled off him like water off a duck’s back, the same sentiment could not be said about his wife and child. Molly was continually harassed at work, mostly by random men who were curious about sleeping with a killer’s ‘wife’. It was disgusting, and even in his apathetic state Will had to hold himself back from killing every one of those men.

 

Molly rebuked them with biting words that sent one of them scurrying away. On the surface, she seemed to thrive under the pressure, but when she’s home, the woman often broke into sobs of anguish, hiding her sorrow behind the thin walls of their cabin. It was cruel of him to think so, but for the life of him Will wouldn’t bring himself to care.

 

Wally, however, was not as well equipped as his mother.

 

One day the young boy came home with bruises and cuts on his face. Before Will could admonish the boy for fighting, he looked at Will straight in his eyes and said, “They called you a faggot.” He sounded adamant and broken at the same time.

 

Will just sighed and sat him on the kitchen counter, dressing his wounds as he emotionlessly lectured Wally about the merits of a cool head and an even temper. “I am not worth getting beat up over Wally.”

 

“But you’re family!” the boy frowned, desperate to show the man his loyalty, eager to defend his precious new family.

 

Will smiled sadly. The poor boy couldn’t possibly know about Abigail and Hannibal, his true family.

 

Wally was silent as Will dressed and cleaned his wounds, the dogs curling around them for comfort. “Please don’t tell mom. I was just trying to protect you.”

 

Will frowned but nodded, bringing the boy close to him and giving him a hug.

 

“They’re wrong, right dad? You and that Ripper guy had nothing going on, right?” Wally asked, desperate to assuage his own lingering suspicion. Will couldn’t answer him, because giving the boy comfort would mean denying Hannibal again. He could never do that.

 

***

 

Signing the divorce paper had been the easy part, convincing Molly to do the same was another matter entirely. Molly, in all her rage and indignation, held on to him and begged him to stay. She didn’t mind the harassment from strangers and reporters. She found strength in defending her ever silent husband.

 

“You’re a good man Will, but there’s no need to separate over this. I still love you.” She said warmly, caressing Will’s unkempt beard, a gesture Will had grown to hate.

 

Will let out a shuddering breath and closed his eyes. “But that’s the thing dear, I don’t.”

 

She pulled away, her face shocked and rigid. For a second something ugly and dangerous welled up inside her, like a beast yawning for violence, but gentle Molly could never give life to such horrors. Instead, she grabbed the pen and signed all the papers, her lines leaving indents into the wooden table where they shared three years’ worth of meals.

 

“Get out of my house.” She said, throwing the paper at his lap. Will gathered the flying documents and his already packed bags, leaving everything else he had behind. He only hesitated for Winston.

 

He considered taking the old mutt, after all he found him on the same day he met Hannibal, but Molly’s protective figure stood firmly in the background, eager to reclaim her house.

 

“Get out.” She repeated, and Will knew that he shouldn’t deprive Winston of his home. This exile was his alone to take. There will be no warm fireplaces and expansive woods to roam where he was going.

 

***

 

 

Newly divorced and comfortably alone, Will left the snowy countryside went back to Quantico to find his old job still waiting for him. He declined the offer to consult with the FBI, knowing that looking into violence would only serve to incite the beast that awakened on top of that cliff. He resumed to his old activities, grading papers, fishing, reading, but he neither found peace nor contentment in them anymore.

 

Slowly but surely the old shadows of his former life disappeared, vacating his presence and making space for a better life. Not that Will was interested in a better life. He just wanted Hannibal, and each night he contended with that desire, letting it eat himself alive to make up for his sins.

 

Jack relocated to another FBI facility, abandoning the now defunct Behavioral unit for a higher position and a better paygrade. Alana quit her position in the BSHCI and opened a private practice somewhere near her new expensive area code. Price and Zeller also quit, finding their fortune in the mortuary business that boomed in just a year. Before they left, they jokingly offered Will their cards should he need a casket for when he decide to ‘kick the bucket’. Will smiled and indulged that offer a little too seriously for them to laugh.

 

“Sorry.” he said to them, putting on an empty smile he practiced in his motel mirror.

 

He said that a lot to people. He just wished he could say it to Hannibal.

 

One lonely night in a motel room he had come to call home, Will stared at the flickering TV screen, an empty bottle of whiskey cradled in his arms as he awaited the sweet oblivion of slumber. 

 

Like clockwork, the demons from his nightmare began to unfurled from the shadows. A stag man stood tall behind the TV set, but instead of its usual skeletal body, it was clad in one of Hannibal’s many suit. Hope welled up in Will’s chest.

 

“Kill me.” Will said, standing up, his arms open in acceptance.

 

“Please Hannibal, kill me…” He pulled his shirt over his head, showing what remained of his scars. The creature merely tilted its head, ebony antler scraping the low celling of his sad little abode.

 

“KILL ME GODDAMIT!” Will roared, throwing his bottle of whiskey at it. It shattered and drenched the TV set, making the screen freeze and tilt before blinking rapidly. The stag man was gone, and Will wondered if his nightmares would ever give him peace.

 

A manager knocked to check up on him, a round and portly gentleman who put up with his night terrors and incessant wailing out of pity. Like he always does, Will politely apologized for the noise.

 

“It’s fine man. You just sound… well, you don’t sound so good.”

 

The terribly practiced smile melted off his face. “Yeah.” Will admitted, rubbing his eyes to chase away the remnants of his visions. “Just work, you know.” He muttered weakly. The manager looked unconvinced but nodded anyways.

 

“You need a vacation or something.” The man added glibly. “Maybe then you’ll stop screaming half of the tenants away and fucking up the tv eh?” Will stiffly nodded, turning the friendly banter into awkward silence. The man quickly left and Will locked the door, grateful for his absence.

 

Alone at last, he began the slow methodical work of cleaning up after his broken bottle. Each piece of glass glittered in the dark, tempting him to bring it close to his jugular.

 

“No, not on your beautiful skin. They belong in your eyes. Oh, how beautiful they would look.” Whispered the beast, crooking it’s heavy antlered head like curious animal. Will took a deep breath and steeled himself for the encounter, quickly dumping the shards into a bin and setting it out of his room. ‘Out of sight out of mind.’ He thought, but the beast remained, ever present just like Hannibal was.

 

The bed called to him, and Will took his place beside the beast, too exhausted to muster up any fear or terror. A gnarled claw reached out, sinking into the soft locks of his hair and cradling him against its chest. He smelled like pine, wine, and lingering regret. He smelled like Hannibal.

 

Will sobbed.

 

“Don’t cry.” It crooned, the deep inhuman voice sending deep tremors to the foundation of his very soul.

 

“I miss you.” Will whispered, holding his hand to his aching chest. The beast looked at him, the empty abyss of its eyes filling up with blood. “Don’t you miss me?” Will asked. Blood dripped down his twisted face like flowing lava flowing down a mountain, swallowing everything in its slow moving path.

 

The beast raised its great gnarled claw and pointed to TV, a single picture frozen in place. “Find me.” He croaked, before disappearing, leaving Will to stare at a static image of a museum Florence.

 

“Of course.” He muttered scrambling to grab his phone to quickly book a flight to Italy.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Florence, Italy

Uffizi Gallery

 

 

 

The morning sun shone against Will’s face as he put on the complimentary audio guide. He frowned and moved away from an overly attentive attendant, a passing acquaintance that has grown too fond of him during his time there. He met her a month ago during his first visit, striking up a friendly conversation as he snooped around for signs of Hannibal. Apparently she has had it in her head that Will was in love with her. Unfortunately, the fool was eager to reciprocate to the delusion in her mind.

 

Just the sight of her made him feel sick. Maybe perusing some artwork would cleanse his palate of her.

 

Faces of gods and aristocrats stared down at Will’s passing figure, unmoving eyes following his every step like paintings in a haunted house. Rather than cheap horror props he perceived them to be, Will was gazing at the magnum opus of the great Masters, forever hailed as the pinnacle of art and beauty for all mankind to see.

 

Will tried looking into their painted eyes with his empathy, but found mere canvas staring back at him. If anything, the only emotions he picked up were the miserable lives of the mundane tourist milling about him, desperate to find meaning in their otherwise meaningless existence.

 

They moved from one frame to the other in herds, camera clicking and trading facts about the painting that they googled earlier on their phones, eager to impress anyone who would listen.

 

‘Swine. All of them.’  Will quietly thought to himself.

 

The thought froze him in place. It was the beast again, leaking from deep within him. Its thoughts seeped into his like the remains of a nuclear fallout. Radioactive. Dangerous. Something that will mutate him into an unrecognizable monster if left unchecked.

 

Perturbed but resolute, Will forced himself to focus onto the painting before him. It was the very same Primavera that became Hannibal’s inspiration. Now that he’s standing before the piece again, Will suddenly felt lost, like a tiny dinghy adrift in an ocean of nothingness.

 

The beauty found on canvas cannot compare to the magnificent recreation of Hannibal’s making. Everything felt lifeless, flat, like chalk scribbles on a nondescript driveway. It lacks the bacchanal drive that transformed mere cadaver into real gods and nymphs.

 

Will was surprised at his thoughts, for never once he favored Hannibal’s creation with such a fervor before. Being around Hannibal has warped his sense of beauty. He wondered if other aspects were also bent in the process, like his tolerance for murder and blood.

 

‘Of course not.’ He automatically denied, only to be reminded of the night they slayed the Dragon. The passion. The joy. The absolute bliss of being unburdened and free.

 

Suddenly Will wasn’t sure of anything anymore.

 

As he walked from one masterpiece to another, all the while thinking about the very man who has become his obsession, Will imagined a younger Hannibal standing next to him, one with darker hair and a face full of youthful promise. He dreamed of him roaming these streets in an ill-fitting façade, not fully grown into his impenetrable person-suit.

 

Even with an imperfect mask, Hannibal would’ve roamed these streets with the hunger and cunning of a tomcat, delighting in the suffering of the rude as he polished his craft.

 

Will would’ve liked meeting him in his formative years, just so their dynamic may be inverted in his favor. He can place himself as a kindred mentor, and Hannibal his dutiful pupil. Could he have saved him from becoming the monster he was today? Or has nature doomed him to his current disposition?

 

It was only now that he noticed that the audio guide has morphed into Hannibal’s gentle murmur, the slow aristocratic cadence taking on almost a dreamlike quality as he moved from one piece to another.

 

Thinking about him so much must’ve crossed the wires between reality and fiction. Will knew that he shouldn’t want to take comfort in Hannibal’s presence, but just the memory of his voice soothed him more than Molly’s touches or the delicious burn of a good scotch.

 

“If I saw you everyday forever, Will, I would remember this time.”

 

A small smile graced his lips. He remembered their quiet meeting, each of them battered in their pursuit for each other. They had sat right in front of the Primera, Will managed looking more haggard despite Hannibal’s recent bout. The memory made him smile. In those sweet seconds of peace, they held each other in genuine warmth, unable to hide their affection even after months of separation.

 

That moment was what kept him going. Will know that however terribly they treat each other, there will always be forgiveness.

 

‘For I am forever tied to your orbit, as you are to mine, and we would sooner crash into each other and burn out than be without each other’s influence.’

 

Out of the corner of his eyes he saw the beast, looming larger than life. All gentle thoughts of reunion and forgiveness soured at the sight of it. Its leathery face now rots with the pungent smell of waste and cadavers. “Will.” It moaned, insects spilling out of its hanging maw.

 

Will fell back, pushing it away with scattered limbs. He ripped the headphones from his ears and threw it onto the ground, where its clatter silenced the whole hall. Suddenly the beast is gone, and Will was alone bearing the stares that were pointed at him. 

 

‘What the hell is he doing?’

‘Is he going to puke? Here?!’

‘Poor guy. I should come over and help him so I can cop a feel of that fine ass-‘

‘No respect for public prope-’

 

Their thoughts and intentions invaded his senses like a terribly advertised jingle. He didn’t want to know them. He was doing so well. If he see them he’ll-

 

‘-kill them all.’ He growled ‘I’ll rip and tear into them, and make effigies of their bones. It’s what they deserve, these pigs. How dare they lay their eyes on me. Their worthless life would be better off snuffed and used as the building blocks of my design.’

 

It took him a second to realize his thoughts and another two to storm out of the crowded museum.

 

His empathy. His fucking empathy. Will had looked to the crowd and what he saw disgusted him. How can he uphold the law and defend the innocents when all he wants to do is join their killers and slaughter them instead?

 

“You don’t.” Hannibal replied inside his head with the same clinical voice he used in their therapy. “You either suffer their indolence, or you stop defending the meek and give way to worthier desires.”

 

“Get out of my head.” Will gasped, grabbing on his curls tight enough to make his eyes water, hurting himself in hopes of sending him away. Still, even through tight lids he could feel the beast’s steady advance.

 

Click. Clock.

 

His hoofed feet tapped noisily against the ground, like the steady tick of his own personal doomsday clock. Right now, there was only seconds to midnight.

 

Click. Clock.

 

With every step it brought death and decay to the greenery around him. The evergreen trees and flowering bushes wilted into gunpowder, the smell of fire and sulfur singed through his nostrils. It’s death, and it was coming for him.

 

Will fell back and scrambled up onto a stone bench, hugging his knees to avoid the spreading corruption. The beast looked down on him, the hollow abyss of his eyes sucking him deeper into the vision.

 

“Get the fuck out of my head!” Will barked, a pathetic attempt to exorcise the demon.

 

It tilted its antlered head condescendingly. A gnarled claw was raised, gripping his crowns and snapping it off. It clawed open its own face while waling out a hellish chorus. Violent hands pull off rotten flesh and rancid fat, and it clawed and clawed and clawed until they broke, revealing a human hand dragging harmlessly against a human face.

 

His own damned face.

 

And all this time he thought that Hannibal would be one haunting him.

 

His mirror image stared at him with unreadable blue eyes.  Somewhere in the distance a fire lit up.  He was no longer afraid.

 

Will unfurled himself from his perch and stepped towards him. The beast followed. He raised his hand to touch its cheeks, and the beast too raised its bloodied hands

 

“Ah...” Will exclaimed, finally understanding. “All this time I thought you were him-“

 

 “-but now I see that you are me.” It finishes.

 

They laughed, and let the darkness swallowed them whole…

 

 

 

 

…until an unbearably bright light caught his eyes and banished away the hellish nightmare he found himself in.

 

 

“MOTHERFUCKER!” the voice rang through the night sky. Will whipped his head up to the source, finding a silhouette of Hannibal’s body on the other side of the garden.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Nigel’s life is divided into two arcs; Before Gabi and After Gabi.

 

Prior to their fated meeting, Nigel was just another piece of shit gutter rat who worked for other rich pieces of shit. His life at the orphanage taught him to be ruthless. Anything less and you’ll run the risk of being somebody’s bitch. Nigel was nobody’s bitch. He was a wolf, wandering on the periphery of civilization, waiting for his next meal to wander into the night.

 

Like the stray that he was Nigel drifted from one employer to another, forgoing the safety of a group so he can keep a resemblance of autonomy. The Mad dog of Bucharest, they called him, and once they were built, his reputation kept everyone away.

 

Only Darko dared to disturb his solitude, calling every month or so just to see if he’s alive. Then again, he was his childhood friend, it’s hard to be afraid you’ve grown up with.

 

Despite his infamy, Nigel was not without his virtues. He would often solicit whores for company, paying them well and treating them kindly, a rarity that made him popular in amongst the working girls of Bucharest. There are some people who pays girls just to savage them, but Nigel wasn’t one of them. He sees these women as his people, the same downtrodden lot abandoned by society. They persisted through daily indignity and humiliation, and for that he admired them.

 

For a time he thought he could be satisfied with that kind of transactional love. Nigel saw nothing better, only victims of abuse clinging desperately to other richer, more abusive men. Nigel didn’t want to touch any of that, not when a simple payment could satisfy need for companionship. In a world full of liars and traitors, Nigel thought it was the most honest form of relationship.

 

That was, until he met Gabi.

 

When he first met the girl, she was barely out of her teens, beautifully arrogant with spirit as fiery as her hair. Her eyes would twinkle as she regaled him with tales of music and art. Her world was a far cry from the prostitutes and addicts he shared his bed with. Gabi was free from such chains, her mind trained on higher things. Suddenly, the admiration he had for whores and dancers seemed meaningless, for his heart has found a worthy cause for worship.

 

Nigel wanted her to love him like she loved her music, and for a time she did. Eventually her interest waned, taking her attention back to her Cello, but Nigel was already hooked.

 

Nigel loved her the best way he knew how. He put her pleasure before his, left his prostitutes behind, and made the opera his new haunt. He became her captive audience, and gave her a taste of his world, enthralling her with its danger and excesses.

 

He would’ve killed for her just to prove his devotion, but Gabriella wasn’t predisposed to such violent sort of worship. People like her never does, and it prevented her from seeing the beauty in the chaos he inhabited.

 

In the end her inability to truly see him was what kept them apart. In the morning Nigel would go and take care of business, and at night he would come home a fearful wife, screaming at him for being a criminal. When a young thug harassed her, Nigel pummeled his jaw shut, but instead of a showing him her gratitude, she would run crying to her father, who in turn rebuked and sent him away.

 

“Wrong is wrong.” She would say, and only his love for her prevented him from raising his hand.

 

Even after all of that, he still loved her. He forgave her naivety, her ignorance, her useless morality. Nigel even pardoned her reckless father for blackmailing him out of the country. No matter the offence, Nigel would always find a way to forgive her.

 

If only Gabi would extend the same courtesy for him.

 

Instead she chose a lovesick tourist as an excuse to escape him. As if a runty cunt would’ve stopped him from loving her. No, Nigel wouldn’t have left her. He would’ve chased her to the ends of the earth and slaughter everyone she touched. He’ll bind her to him, if not with words then with threats and chains, and his beautiful Gabriella would finally be his.

 

She would be broken, stripped of the very thing that makes her beautiful, and Nigel simply could never do that. He loved her too much to crush her in his possessive grasp.

 

So he kissed her good bye and gave her the most loving gift he could ever think of; his life.

 

***

 

“Suicide by cop.” The Dr. Petrov gasped in morbid fascination, completely captivated by the sight of Nigel’s bare skull. “My guess is you only survived on account of this shoddy bullet. You have the corrupt police officials to thank for that. Imagined if they did their jobs properly. Their guns and bullets would work a hundred percent of the time and you would be a hundred percent dead!” 

 

Nigel scoffed and took a long drag from his cigarette, ignoring the strange doctor’s running commentary. He may be a tad eccentric, but Dr. Petrov used to be a respected surgeon back in the motherland. Sadly, an expensive drug habit sent him spiraling down to Bucharest, where he mended thugs and lowlifes like him in exchange for cocaine and meth.

 

His fee was expensive, more than he was willing to pay, but Darko insisted they come to him, slamming a hefty bag of heroin in front of the doctor as down payment. Out of the corner of his eyes Nigel could see the edges of Darko’s gator skin shoes, the ugly ones he bought him last Christmas as joke.

 

“Couldn’t you just fucking surrender and wait for me to buy out the judge? Stupid motherfucker.” The man swore and bitched at him from the other side of the curtain, pacing back and forth and only stopping to throw a punch at some hostage sitting in the corner.

 

“Shut the fuck up.” Nigel croaked, wincing as the doctor began to suture his wound close. He should’ve asked for some anesthetic. Maybe it’ll knock him out so he wouldn’t have to listen to Darko’s drivel.

 

“Go die you piece of shit!” The man shot back.

 

“I tried. Didn’t work.”

 

The whole clinic was shocked into silence. Even the cop who shot him stopped whimpering for his life. To the young upstart thugs Darko held in his employ, Nigel Ibanescu was a legend. Hearing their hero say something so terrible was like seeing a god admitting his mortality.

 

Darko threw the curtains open and walked up to him, pushing the doctor aside so he can grab his friend by his shoulders.

 

“I didn’t mean it frate.” Darko murmured, his eyes dark eyes filling up with grief. “I didn’t. So stop saying such things, yes?”

 

Nigel wanted to tell him to fuck off, but the sight of Darko’s shimmering eyes stopped him. “Alright.” He agreed, the words catching in his throat. Darko nodded and left, grabbing his gun and giving orders to take the policeman out back. Screams filled the clinic, and somehow the tension that held it captive melted away.

 

“Domnul Darko is a good man.” The doctor said gently, like a father would to his favored son. “Such friendship is rare in our world. You better cherish it. Friends are worth living for Nigel.”

 

Nigel said nothing to the doctor, letting the man work on his wound in silence. Out of the clinic open window he could hear the faint mewling of the officer who shot him, begging for his life before it is silenced by a barrage of bullets.

 

Good old Darko. Always taking care of business. He owed it to him to live, at least for a few more months. After all, Nigel needed to repay him for the headaches he caused the man. His honor demands it.

 

He sighed and focused on the pain of the threading needle, hoping that it would be enough to distract him from the ache deep in his chest.

 

 

***

 

Eight months later

Florence, Italy

 

“Oh god...” Darko’s right hand man exclaimed, his jaw unhinged in complete awe and disgust as he beheld the bloodbath that is Nigel’s creation. The man only grunted in reply, lounging on a pallet of packed heroin, a fortune he stole for his loyal friend. He looked like an arrogant king, perched on throne of illicit treasures as lesser mortal beheld him in his majesty.

 

Nigel has been embroiled in this particular syndicate for months, infiltrating its ranks and dismantling it from the inside. Working with the Italians was not without its own risk. They have a deep history with the area, and their death would set in motion a series of assassin who would stop at nothing to avenge their masters.

 

Not that it would be a problem. Nigel wanted to die. He only stayed alive to stop the them from encroaching on Darko’s territories. It’s the least he could do to repay the headache he caused his friend.

 

“Remember Emil, two tons per pallet.” Nigel jumped off his perch, moving languidly like a big panther as he watch the stack carted off to a waiting truck. “If it doesn’t add up back in Bucharest then I will have to come looking to you for the difference, understand?”

 

The group of men around him swallowed hard, watching the infamous hitman walk over to the sole survivor of this massacre. His blackened lungs laid out onto his hairy chest, obviously pulled from a mangled hole Nigel made with his own hands.

 

“Of course Domnul. Every gram accounted for.” Emil replied, trying to sound brave and failing miserably. Nigel laughed and poked a hole in the dying man’s trachea, placing a newly lit cigarette in it, making him seize and cough up smoke with every breath.

 

“Good, good. Give my best to Darko, yes?” Nigel smiled, patting the distraught man on his shoulder before exiting the warehouse of horror, whistling an old tune Gabi used to play everyday.

 

~*

 

Nigel spent the rest of the day wandering around Florence, taking in the sight and sound of the beautiful city. Now that his job was finished, Nigel watched every mesmerizing details with placid eyes. This city is indeed very beautiful, he just doesn’t feel comfortable here. Rats like him belong in the sewers, not in this veritable city of light.

 

On a quiet street just beyond Pallazo Vecchio, Nigel stumbled into a small eatery that specialized in Porchetta sandwiches. Intrigued by the line, he pushed through the crowded and slammed his euros onto the table. The unruly crowd quieted to a chatter, already used to seeing men like him milling around their city.

 

With a warm sandwich in hand, Nigel parked himself on a bench, watching pensively as the owner served his costumer with easy smiles and efficient hands. In another life Nigel probably could learn to enjoy this type of lifestyle; working from dawn to dusk doing what he loved, making just enough to stay afloat, finding nourishment instead in a job well done and satisfied customers.

 

He envied those people, the ones who go through life with clear purpose in their mind. Gabi was one of them, beautiful in her own mad pursuit for music. Nigel on the other hand, never had such luxury. Murder, subterfuge, and collusion weren’t things he actively aspired to, but it was demanded of him, and he was damn good at it.

 

Suddenly the food in his mouth tasted like ash. He missed her. Gabi was his purpose, his guiding light. He may be made for violence and crime, but Nigel was not made to live without love, especially not after he experienced its all-consuming power. Since that fateful night at the dam, Nigel has been living on borrowed time. Now that his debts and obligations are settled, Nigel was finally free to go.

 

His feet took his past the glittering fountains and lavish castle into an emptying Gallery. Curious onlookers glanced up at him, but the vulnerable look he wore made them turn away in discomfort. He looked like a wounded animal, yet the scars he wore openly made other hesitate even to approach him.

 

Nigel found a place by an open window in the end of the gallery, his muscled body hidden by an ancient pillar that would later be drenched in crimson. This would be a good place to die, surrounded by beautiful things that paled to Gabi’s own beauty. They would have to do.

 

Time ticked quickly, stretching and tilting shadows till it swallowed the last of the evening light. When the last person exited the place, Nigel was finally alone, his only companions were the cherry red ember of his dying cigarette and his old faithful Berretta.

 

‘Well.’ Nigel threw the spent filter and ground it flat into century old marble. ‘This place is as good as any.’

 

Muscle memory guided his hand through the motions. Holster unlocked, magazine pushed into place, the slide racked away and back. His hands remained steady as he put the muzzle against his temple. Nigel was ready die. He’s been ready the moment Gabi chose someone else over him.

 

But he was not alone. Just beyond the tree line a figure stepped out from the shadows and turned to face him. The man just stood there, eerily unmoving for a long time, his lean body swaying back and forth.

 

Nigel thought he exhausted the last of his emotions, but the sight of some fucking druggie desecrating what would be his final resting place made his temper flare.

 

“MOTHERFUCKER!” He shouted, slamming the door open. A gust of wind blew into the place, blinding him momentarily before he was rooted in place by a pair of brilliant blue eyes.

 

They looked at him with complete and utter love, his gaze so hopeful and fragile that it stole the very breath out of his lungs. His previously graven face softens into a gentle smile, and Nigel knew that this beautiful being could not be waiting for him.

 

People like him are unworthy of such look, such anguished devotion that hid decades of secret history. He stood in a place meant for another, but he stayed put, drinking deeply of the ocean blue eyes. Nigel was already addicted to them.

 

The man raised his hands, beckoning him closer, and before his mind could consent, Nigel’s feet brought him gliding through the garden. The man put away his gun and caught the trembling hand in his own, their fingers slotting into place like it was made to fit together. The poor man was cold. How can someone be this cold and look at him with such warmth?

 

“Hannibal…” The man whispered, voice sweetly thick like winter honey. Words failed him. Nothing else can be said to enhance this prefect little moment. Nigel was there, but his soul has died and risen anew, and this stranger has taken it captive. His life was no longer his to take.

 

His reverie broke when the man looked away from him, blue eyes narrowing in suspicion. Distant steps stopped behind them and the man dropped Nigel’s hand. His shoulders squared up, his hands curled into fists, and a low snarl began to escape from the edge of his lips. Nigel knew that look. The man was a killer, just like him.

 

“Vendetta per la famiglia!” roared the men behind him.

 

Nigel brandished his loaded gun, firing at fucker who dared to ruin a perfect moment like this. His bullet only found brick, the men quickly dispersing behind the darkness of the garden and firing back in a barrage of sloppy shots.

 

“Shit.” Nigel pulled the stranger back, shielding his body with his own larger frame. He pushed the man behind a stone pedestal, barely donging a bullet aimed for his head.  “Stay down. Don’t move. I’ll come get you when I’m done.” He whispered. The man looked more indignant than afraid.

 

“You’ll come get me?” He growled, and Nigel just want to kiss those angry lines away.

 

Before he could protest Nigel bolted away, intentionally brushing against the foliage to draw their attention to him. Another volley of sloppy shots flew above his bent frame, revealing the position of his attackers. ‘There.’ A flash from a muzzle confirmed their location. He grinned, raised his faithful gun, and squeezed the trigger home.

 

It clicked empty.

 

“Son of a bitch!” Nigel ducked a little too late as a bullet grazed his temple, almost knocking him onto his back. He lay prone against the ground and waited for the men began to come close. Before they could convene, Nigel roared and lunged at the shadowy figure to his left, grabbing his gun to use as his own. The boy holding it was barely a man, his palm too sweaty and soft to even grip his weapon properly. Nigel broke the vulnerable bones by the elbow and shot him twice on the head.

 

Angry roar came from his right. ‘Fucking idiot.’ Without even turning his head Nigel aimed his stolen gun and dispatched another useless assassin. Bodies continue to fall as his eyes began to acclimate to the light outside. Six bodies fell, all young recruits of the dead organization, who apparently was too green to recognize the sight of the Mad Dog from Bucharest.

 

A terrible scream cut through his hard won silence, quieting to mere gurgles.

 

“Fuck.”

 

Nigel ran to where the stranger was, his heart pounding in his ear ‘Please don’t be dead. Please don’t be dead. Please don’t be de-‘

 

He could smell the blood and terror before his eyes could find the brutal scene. The stranger stood over his bleeding prey with a look of a satiated wolf. Blood ran down his mouth, drenching him in a colour so dark, it looked like liquid obsidian. A soft sigh escaped those lips, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down as he swallowed the piece of meat ripped from his prey’s throat.

 

He was the most beautiful thing Nigel had ever seen.

 

“You’re not Hannibal.” The man turned his gaze to him, this time his eyes sharp enough to kill. “Who are you?”

 

Nigel swallowed, speechless as he beheld the glorious carnage before him. “Nigel.” He answered, lips betraying his instinct for secrecy. “And you are?”

 

Silence filled their void until the man deemed him worthy of an answer.

 

“Will Graham.” He said, wiping his lips to reveal a glimpse of snowy white skin.

 

“Will … Graham.” Nigel repeated, savoring each syllable like he would some fine wine. He dropped the dead man’s gun and reach for Will’s hand instead. This time they were warm, pulsing with life.

 

“Come have dinner with me Will. You look absolutely famished.”

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“- I figured if the doctor, Drako and god wouldn’t let me die, then the least I could do is use those motherfucker to taunt the devil myself.” Nigel smiled brilliantly as he regaled the man with tales of his covert mission.

 

“Ah. So that’s why you killed the whole family of Florentine Mafia. Because your wife left you.” Will replied with a humorless smirk of his own.

 

“Ha!” Nigel slammed his glass down, waving for a waiter to bring him another bottle of wine. “Well if you put it that way darling, you’re make me sound like some pussy whipped cunt.”

 

Will shrugged, pushing around a piece of artisanal carrot on his plate. “Your words.” He murmured and Nigel exploded in another fit of boisterous mirth.

 

The stark difference between Nigel’s lax figure and the opulent restaurant was striking. Even with his expensive shirt, Rolex, and gold necklace, something about Nigel just screamed ‘low class criminal’.

 

Maybe it’s the careless way he holds his wine glass, or the way he left too many buttons undone on his luxurious shirt, but Will knew that the man did not grew up in this opulent world they just invaded.

 

Somehow that fact amused him. Seeing the way this doppelganger recklessly occupies Hannibal’s space shocked him, but Will found that Nigel’s easy company soothed his ragged nerves.

 

Hannibal, no matter how perfectly put together he was, always has this distance about him that makes it hard even for Will to approach. Not to mention that his three-piece suits reminded him too much of the rich kids whose yachts he used to clean in the summer. God, he hated those crowds.

 

A similarly wealthy crowd, albeit Italian, look onto them with hatred and disdain. The two men had come in without a reservation and sat on the restaurant’s most coveted table, a feat Nigel achieved with the help of a generous bribe and some very explicit threat. The very sight of the two battle worn men shocked them into silence. They must’ve saw them both as a pair of plebs, tracking in the mud of poverty into their secret world of excess.

 

It’s not like Will even wanted dinner in the first place. The second he confirmed that Nigel was in fact not Hannibal, Will had planned to return to his hostel and plan his flight back to Baltimore. 

 

Nevertheless, after the violence in the garden found himself weak and hazy. It took very little for Nigel to pull him into his sport car and clean him up for dinner, something he regretted very much.

 

Though the blood in his shirt was concealed by the borrowed jacket, and despite Nigel’s large figure blocking the sight of their contemptuous audience, Will could still feel the waves of condescension breaking against his back. He tried keeping his head down to avoid them, but his damned empathy reached out into the room like an uncontrollable tendril.

 

A kaleidoscope of personality and worldviews assaulted his senses. Over the course of the night, Will found himself looking through the eyes of a rich mistress, worried about being abandoned for a younger girl her patron prevered. Then his empathy forced him into the head of some pompous politician, scheming for political advancement while entertaining the very same person he planned to betray. He was then thrown into the head of a pedophile, eyeing a rich girl just a few tables down, his cock filling up with blood as he imaged violating her untouched behind.

 

Their thoughts and desires all swirled together into a chaotic mess, forcing him to shamble from one personality to the next. Will couldn’t take it. He hated them all, and he understood that they hated him too.

                                                     

“You’re not eating Will.” Nigel observed, leaning over to try and hold Will’s hand for the umpteenth time that night. Will easily avoided his reach and busied himself with the edges of his glass.

 

“Is there something wrong with your lamb?” Nigel asked, this time his tone dropping just a breath. Will looked up to give him some indifferent reply, but Nigel’s eyes went elsewhere, searching for the waiter with the promise of violence written in those passionate maroon orbs.

 

‘Like a badly trained German Sheppard ready to maul.’

 

With a gentleness reserved only for his dogs, Will leaned over and placed his hand over Nigel’s, a gesture that instantly snap the man’s attention back to him.

 

“Don’t Nigel.” He chided, and the man’s shoulders softened and he relaxed back onto his chair. “No need to trouble yourself.”

 

Nigel looks shaken. “You sure? Cuz I can send it back and we can order something else if you like.” Nigel mumbled, picking up the menu to hide the weird smile he had on his face.

 

“Please don’t.” Will just shook his head and began cutting into his dinner, collecting every perfectly cooked morsel on his tines and placing it onto his tongue. “I don’t like wasting food.”

 

Nigel nodded tightly and put the menu away, ignoring his own plate of dry aged steak to prop his head up on the table and watch Will eat.  He followed the man’s delicate little bites with a crazed obsession, like a dog watching his master eat so he could steal a piece of fallen scrap or butt in for a nuzzle.

 

Somehow his intense stare prompted the impossible; it forced the reclusive man to open up.

 

“I like food, I just don’t do well in crowds. Or in expensive places.” He cleared his throat, trying to hide just how terribly out of place he felt. “Great food though.” He made a show of digging into his plate, cutlery clinking against the fine porcelain, much to the ire of the tables around them.

 

Quanto incivile!” A man shouted behind them. The whole room sniggered derisively, and Will doesn’t need to know Italian to understand what he meant. Slowly he lowered his hands and hid them under the table, his face red in humiliation.

 

Memories of growing up poor in Louisiana suddenly overwhelmed him. Will remembered long stretches of hunger, the guilt of not having enough to pay for his lunches, the ugly laughter that followed him when he left the cafeteria with only water and a handful of free soup crackers. He could clearly hear them in the laughter behind them, just as clearly as he felt the ice cold hold that his monster had on him.

 

“Kill them.” The beast said. “Kill them and then eat them, and we will never go hungry again.” The monster leaned into him, shifting the way he held his steak knife.

 

Overwhelmed with anger and humiliation, Will leaned back into the touch and let that chilling presence slid into him. Power spread from the core his being to the very tips of his fingers. He was no longer Will Graham, a helpless victim of his circumstance. He is a Divine Judge, presiding over the earth with his all-seeing eyes.  Nobody can escape his judgment, and he has deemed them all guilty.

 

The beast inside him howled in delight. ‘So sooo hungry. Feed me. Fill me. Let me feast and rip and tear and swallow everything whole I need to let me FEED-‘

 

A loud bang startled him out of his reverie, banishing the beastly chill that inhabited his body.

 

Before him lay Nigel’s old Beretta, all scratched up and dinged. Its owner gripped the gun hard, fingers resting right on the trigger.

 

The room was silenced.

 

“Mangiate il cibo, troie.” Nigel snarled like the beast that he is. The crowd of terrified diners all turned back to their food, cutleries clattering in fear, mirroring Will’s previous faux pas.

 

The man turned to Will, this time a generous smile gracing his previously livid face. “You too Darling. Mangiare.”

 

Will let out a shaky breath that he didn’t know he was holding onto. “… Thank you.” he said, avoiding Nigel’s eyes.

 

The man smiled and turned to his own plate, feeling like he just conquered the whole world.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“You know, you’re just confirming their biases against us.”

 

Nigel looked to his companion, surprised to see his pallid face.

 

“Does people’s opinions bother you often Will?” Nigel asked, his tone half worried and teasing at the same time.

 

“No, not their opinions.” Will shook his head vehemently. “People’s headspace brothers me, especially when they’re thinking so loud that I can’t make sense which thoughts are mine and which belonged to the decrepit old waiter, who’s by the way, is itching to call the police on us.”

 

Raising a curios eyebrow, Nigel turned and saw a lone anxious maître d, the only staff visible in the empty restaurant. He had a look of a small rodent, fidgeting and looking around to avoid the stare of a bigger predator. He’s a coward, a type that Nigel is rather familiar in his line of work.

 

“What are you now, a fucking psychic?” Nigel chuckled. He then fell silent, eyes widening in wonder. “Fuck me… Don’t tell me you’re a witch.”

 

Will almost choked on his food. He never heard of that one before.

 

“Of course not.” Will laughed. “I used to work for the FBI profiling dangerous criminals. Looking into other people’s head is as easy as reading a neon sign for me.” He murmured, trying to wave away Nigel’s reproachful gaze, but the man remained guarded. “Wait, you really believe I that I’m a… witch?”

 

“Well how the fuck could you tell what he’s thinking then?” Nigel shook his head and made a sign of the cross. “I’m Romanian darling, we don’t fuck around with magic.”

 

“How superstitious.” Will rolled his eyes, surprised that Nigel’s superstition would bother him this much. It’s just so absurd to see someone with Hannibal’s face looking at him like he’s going to cast a spell on him. 

 

“There’s hardly anything magical about it.” He intoned, intent on setting this man straight. “It’s simply a mix of observation, deduction, and empathy. Here, I’ll show you.”

 

In hindsight he should’ve known better than to open up his senses to Nigel. The man’s presence broke through his defenses and drowned him. His eyes are more brilliant than rubies, shimmering back and forth to contain the fire within.

 

“Well darling? Have you finished casting your spell?” Nigel asked insolently, flashing a bewitching smile of his own.

 

Will bit his cheeks and try to maintain his composure.

 

“You told me about your job,” He said quickly. “-but even within the mafia you’re something else entirely. Run of the mill drug dealers are just glorified thugs, they cant dispatch six people as efficiently as you did.

 

“So you must be a professionals killer, an expensive one, judging by your Rolex and gold necklace. You must be good at what you do to survive so long. Hired killer have short careers and even shorter lifespans.

 

“You can make a hit look like quiet death by natural cause, or a bloody massacre to send a message, but you don’t do it because you enjoy it. No. You’re not the type to kill for fun. You’ll kill for money, sure. Loyalty, maybe. Honor-”

 

“-and love.” Nigel purred, almost gleefully “Absolutely for love.”

 

“Possessive.” Will swallowed, taken aback by the ferocity of his words. “You’re persistent and impulsive to boot.” He murmured, inching away from Nigel’s closing presence. “Volatile. Violent. Vulgar. Some might peg you as a psychopath, but you have empathy and emotions. Too much of them maybe, that’s your problem.”

 

“Yes.” Nigel gushed. “It drives me crazy, blue eyes.” He grabbed Will’s hand and brought it close to his chest.

 

“But you’re not, aren’t you?” Will countered, too immersed in Nigel to complain about being manhandled into his lap. “You’re far from crazy, but you let other people say that you are. You hide your intelligence under the guise of a crazy berserker, that’s how you survived this long.”

 

“Yeah? Maybe I’m just lucky.” Nigel smiled, tracing a finger along Will’s fine features. “I’m certainly lucky enough to meet you.”

 

The words stilled and made him pull away. “I don’t think you’re lucky to meet me Nigel.”

 

“Blessed then. I don’t believe in luck anyways.”

 

“Fate favors no one.”

 

“It favored me. It brought us together, blue eyes.”

 

Those words would’ve flattered him if they weren’t spoken through Hannibal’s lips. Will bit down on whatever cynical retort he had, knowing that it would be returned with another crazed expression. This was not of their ‘conversations’. This is Nigel shutting down his every move to distance himself from him, and Will wasn’t sure what to make of that.

 

The dangerous man merely leaned back and relished the hateful glares Will threw his way. Even when he’s angry, the man still manage to stir something deep in him. What a remarkable little bird this Will Graham is. As quiet as a finch and as fussy as one too, but when he speaks… god, it’s like hearing the first birdsong after a cold harsh winter.

 

After the year that he had, Nigel wanted to languish in the warmth of his burning eyes.

 

“I knew you were magical.” Nigel chuckled, pouring himself another glass of wine with a victorious smirk.

 

Exasperated, Will just rolled his eyes and stared on his hand instead, focusing to build up the mental fort that Nigel just so carelessly invaded. The man was not Hannibal, who quietly knocks and waits to be invited. Nigel was the kind of man that charges in and demanded his every attention like a bandit demand a king’s ransom.

 

It was unnerving, but flattering at the same time.

 

“You’re not drinking darling.” Nigel murmured, sensing how quickly Will began to drift away from him.

 

The man stared at his untouched glass and frowned. “Wine isn’t really my favorite drink, and after today I think I should be sober enough to control… my.. self... Nigel. Stop.” Will covered the rim of his comically full glass, making Nigel spill some overpriced vintage onto the table.

 

“It’s just fucking wine darling. I doubt you’ll be all bitey after a sip.” He poured the remainder of the bottle into his own glass, scoffing when he finished it and Will’s remained untouched. “Who are you trying so hard to be good for?” Nigel mocked.

 

“No one! I just don’t want to lose control. I-“ Will groaned, reminded of just how close he was to murdering the whole restaurant, how good it felt to rip that man’s throat out.

 

“I know you want me to lose control and be like you. I won’t do it Hannibal. You can’t force me to.” He stood abruptly, raising his ragged voice. They echoed in the empty restaurant, sending the old maître d scurrying away. Nigel, or was it Hannibal now? looked displeased.

 

Will walked away before the man could dismiss him, rubbing away the blurry edges of his vision. He stumbled down the raised platform of the exclusive table, scrambling to find purchase as the world began to tilt on its axis. He found purchase on an empty chair, turning his body away from Nigel. He can’t face him right now, not with his fire eyes and gentle smile.

 

On the other side of the restaurant he saw Hannibal, sitting quietly on one of the tables, amused by his distress as he always was. Instantly Will froze as his blood chilled inside his veins. Before him sat himself, or at least a version of him. He had on his old clothes, wet and stinking of the sea and stained red from the bleeding scars that should’ve healed months ago.

 

Hannibal reached over and whispered something down onto his ears, and that version of him nodded, murmuring his approval as he looked up with such sickening devotion in his eyes. He then began pushing his finger into his eyes socket, pinkie daintily raised as he gouged his eyes with a smile plastered on his face.

 

Will gasped, feeling the pressure in his own eyes.

 

The rolling orbs was carefully put down onto a silver platter, and Hannibal kissed him, murmuring words of adorations to the blind man. He then reached down, a god of death taking his offering, and placed one eye inside his mouth.

 

“Please… No.” Will begged, but Hannibal just smiled, rolling the reddened orb between his lips. He leaned down and kissed his blinded man, rolling the eyeball between their tongues before biting down on it with a sickening crunch.

 

Will swore that his left eye went dark. He screamed.

 

“Hey!” Firm hands grabbed his shoulders and shook him out of his vision. Light entered his blinded eye, and he saw Hannibal, no, Nigel holding onto him with visible conern.

 

“I got you Will.” Nigel murmured, taking him up the steps and back to their table. Will let Nigel held him, afraid that Hannibal might spirit him away otherwise, but when he looked back, he found the table empty.

 

“Drink.” Nigel murmured, pushing the full glass under his lips, and this time Will obeyed.

 

Gulps of the savory liquid slid down his throat, pleasant citrus notes jolting him awake. Nigel held him against his broad chest, nursing Will until his lips are stained as red as his cheeks, clumsily rubbing his rugged hands over the trembling man’s back.

 

Will drunk whatever Nigel brought to him, only stopping when he felt too bloated from the wine. Nigel joined in his excess, and between them both they finished two bottles of a vintage with an exorbitant price. Heat bloomed deep in his belly and traveled up his chest, chasing away that persistent chill, and Will couldn’t tell if Nigel was responsible or it was all just the wine.

 

“You okay blue eyes?” Nigel asked after the long pause.

 

“Yes. I feel better. Warmer.” He looked up to Nigel, frowning at the concerned look he had on his face. It didn’t suit him. “It is you, right Nigel?”

 

“The one and only.” He answered, voice tight as Will’s hand explored his face. Those digits felt as cold as ice.

 

“Good. I thought you were him.” He sighed, cradling the glass close to his chest as he sunk into the man’s arms. Nigel let him stay there, his jaw clenched as he pieced together what little information he gleaned from Will’s reaction.

 

“You know, that’s the second time you called me Hannibal.” Nigel murmured into tangled mess that is Will’s hair.

 

The man shifted over to face him, blinking through the drunken haze to comprehend each word. Nigel is… angry?

 

“Sorry… but you look uncannily like… him.”

 

“Yeah?” Nigel remembered the wonderful way Will looked at him in the garden. ”Who’s this Hannibal fuck to you then?” he bit back a possessive growl.

 

“He’s my…” Will could feel the cool stare of his former psychiatrist on the back of his head, waiting to see if Will would betray him again. He whipped around to find the table still empty and pristine. He suddenly felt nauseous. “Christ… it’s complicated. I don’t think he would like having me talk to you.”

 

A familiar burn of jealousy churned deep in the pit of Nigel’s stomach, spurring him to grab whatever was close and destroy it. He shouldn’t though, not when this little bird was barely out of the woods. He’s so fucked up, seeing nightmares of his old lover wherever he looked. Nigel knew he should be gentle, and gods, he’s trying so hard to be, but he couldn’t help himself.

 

“Listen,” He murmured, grabbing Will’s chin to force his eyes up. “I don’t know what kind of shit went down with that fucker, but I get the feeling that it’s not good. I’ll kill the fucker if you want me to, but you gotta get it into your head that I’m not him. Now, we both had a rough night and we only just met, so I’ll let things slide for now. But you gotta understand blue eyes, I don’t enjoy being called anything but my own fucking name. Got it?”

 

There was no cool detached look hidden behind that terrible snarl. This was not one of Hannibal’s session where the doctor tests him with half truths to bait out a response. This was Nigel at his breaking point, tampering down on his all consuming rage to give him a warning.

 

“What’s my name?” Nigel demanded again.

 

“Nigel.” Will whispered back. “You’re Nigel.”

 

Then in an instant, all of the man’s rage and jealousy fizzled into nothingness. “There you go.” Nigel purred, rubbing away the sharp indents of his fingers from Will’s cheeks. “Thank you darling. I’m sorry for grabbing you like that.” He said, apologizing like the gentleman he’s not.

 

The man let him pull away, returning to his plate of cold steak, this time keeping his hand clasped over Will’s. Greedy. Unmoving. Claiming.

 

“I think I read you wrong.” Will said slowly, blinking through the influence of the alcohol.

 

“Yeah?” Nigel leaned back onto his seat, one arm folded behind his head as savored the way Will look at him. “Well go on then darling.” God, if only he could make those eyes his forever.

 

“I thought that you only killed because it’s your job… I didn’t know you enjoy the violence.”

 

Nigel lips twitched, sensing Will’s hesitation “Not always. Though I have to say that it would feel nice to fucking smash that waiter’s face in. He was being a rude little cunt, glaring at you and fucking up your headspace like that.” The man crooned and kneeled down, looking up at Will with devotion in his eyes. “Let me bring you his eyes darling, yes?”

 

Just like Hannibal carved out his and consumed it between his teeth.

 

“Oh god.” Will shivered, finally seeing the beast hidden inside Nigel’s eyes. “Oh god, you’re a killer and you enjoy it.” He pulled away, hugging his knees to protect himself from the man and the world.

 

The sight reminded him so much of Gabi.

 

Nigel roared and hauled the trembling man out of his seat, pushing their foreheads together until they were breathing in each other’s air.

 

“Yeah? Well so are you Will.” he spat. “You’re try not to be, and that’s honestly fucking adorable, but darling, you’re a tiger with teeth and claw. No matter how hard you try, hiding them won’t make you a housecat.”

 

Will looked at him stunned, eyes filling up with indignant tears. Nigel felt his heart break. “Oh darling.” He muttered, gently cradling Will’s trembling jaw. “I see your claws, and I think they’re beautiful.”

 

“Yes Will.” Hannibal whispered from behind him. “They are very beautiful, just like you.”

 

Horrified by the twin monsters flanking his body, Will stood up and ran out of the restaurant as fast as his feet could take him. Rain fell like stray bullets, chilling him to the bone as the shadow grew around him. He ran through mazes of back alleys and dark storefronts, shadows chasing at his heels, painting him in their darkness.

 

‘I’m not a killer. I’m not a killer. I’m NOT-‘

 

He stumbled into a fountain, staring down on his ever shifting reflection. This time he didn’t see his nightmares. Will only found himself, eyes filled with tears, Nigel’s jacket halfway undone to reveal his blood stained shirt.

 

‘Ah. I guess I am.’

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Nigel debated about plucking the maître d’s eyes out for Will, but the whites of his orbital bones already squished his left eye flat. The sentiment may be poetic, but Nigel thought that presenting misshapen eyeballs is almost as bad as giving a date wilted flowers.

 

So he threw the man behind a dumpster and gave him his tips, not for the terrible service, but for generously showing Nigel where they keep their security tapes.  After the whole ‘Cubs Wins the World Series’ debacle, Nigel has made it a habit to destroy surveillance rooms. He had no intentions of letting himself be that vulnerable again.

 

Despite his intention to remain stoic, the sting of rejection stayed deep within him. It was as if fate herself was mocking him, giving him someone he connected so deeply with, only to have him run away in fear of the very thing that bound them.

 

Nigel would be more understanding it if his reaction came from people like Gabi or her cohorts of limp dicked musicians, but Will was a goddamn killer.

 

‘Motherfucker ate a man! If anything, I should be the one running away and shitting my pants.’

 

Of course Nigel stayed. He took the dazed man to his car, cleaned him up, and drove them to some stuffy restaurant he thought would impress him.

 

“Well for what fucking end? It’s not like I’m gonna fuck him.” He grumbled out loud, crushing a stolen pack cigarettes out of sheer frustration.

 

‘Because you were his the moment he laid his eyes on you.’ The passionate parts of him claimed, itching to return to the man.

 

“Yeah fucking right.”

 

Nigel slammed his car door so hard that it shook the rest of the vehicle. “Nobody fucking owns me.” He hissed, turning on the ignition and revving up the engine to a roar.

 

He wanted to kill. He wanted to race down Piazza San Lorenzo and crash right into the basilica. He wanted to wreck the city’s ancient relics just so they can match the stormy chaos of his mind.

 

Instead Nigel stayed seated in his car, staring down at his steering wheel while slowly breathing in and out, an exercise he did whenever Gabi pissed him off. The car’s logo stared back at him, the blue of its border reminding him of Will’s eyes, the very same one that killed his melancholy, the one that saved his life.

 

“Fuck.” Nigel screamed, forgetting his breathing exercise altogether, and began searching for his lost little bird.

 

***

 

After passing through dozens of fountains depicting old gods and peeing little cherubs, Nigel finally caught a glimpse of Will’s heaving back in a small nondescript fountain.

 

“Will!” Nigel ran out of his car, splashing through knee-deep water so he could pull the man up into his arms. Will looked empty, as if his soul had plunged into the waters bellow, enamored by its own depraved beauty. His body remained, but his eyes are but empty vessels, bereft of passion and emotion.

 

“Will.” Rough hands took his face, gently wiping the rain away from his eyes. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing those baby blues all flat and faded like that.

 

“Darling, you’re scaring me.” He murmured, sitting back into the water and bringing Will onto his lap. The sharp edges and lack of curves tells his body that he’s holding a man, but Will’s masculine frame fit Nigel’s lap so well that he couldn’t find a reason not to keep him there.

 

“Come back to me.” Nigel pleaded, whispering to the man as he brought their temples together. If only he could give him his life, his vigor, the very essence of his spirit. He would do anything to keep those eyes alive, even if it meant spending the rest of his day as an empty shell of his former self.

 

“Please Will.” Nigel begged. With no one to kill or threaten, Nigel was completely out of his element.

 

The pauses between the bats of Will’s lashes stretched into eons, and Nigel was left breathless as he murmured nonsensical promises about leaving his life of crime behind. He didn’t mean any of it of course, but it’s something Gabi would’ve wanted to hear. Maybe it’s something Will wanted too.

 

Whether it was his empty promises or gentle coos, soon enough a flicker of life began to burn deep in Will’s blank eyes. Nigel waited with baited breath, running his hands across Will’s cheeks to warm him back up. “Darling.” He called.

 

 “Ni…gel?” Will answered back.

 

The Romanian cursed and praised the wretched gods that took and gave Will back to him, crushing the man in an embrace that cracked his aching bones. It took a second for the touch to fully register to him, but before long Will was back in the real world, shivering from the cold.

 

“You ran out on me. We still haven’t had dessert.” Nigel complained, sounding genuinely hurt.

 

Will’s teeth chattered, a sharp reply already poised on his lips, but the heat from Nigel’s body dissolved them into absent hums. He could never be unkind to this man, not when he came to him with the vulnerability of an injured animal.

 

“Sorry. I’m… my head’s not in the right place.” Will sighed, sinking deeper to steal more of Nigel’s warmth. How can someone be this wet and still stay so warm?

 

“I don’t think my head has ever been in the right place.” Will murmured, staring at Hannibal’s tall figure, his face hidden away by an umbrella made out of human faces.

 

“Well of course it isn’t! You fucking bit a man’s throat out. No fucking sane person would do that.” Nigel chuckled, but his joke only made Will stiffen in his arms. “Okay, okay. That was in poor taste.” He groaned, smelling the rusty scent of old blood that’s been seeping from Will’s shirt. “Geez. Let me clean you up darling. You’re a mess.”

 

“I am.” Will admitted, finally giving voice to his demons. In the distance Hannibal turned, closing his umbrella and melting away into the rain. “God I’m so fucked up.” He sobbed, grasping the man’s warm body like it’s the only real thing in the world.

“Help me Nigel.”

 

“Of course.” Nigel replied instantly, taking Will’s hand and helping him out of the water, wild eyes imbued with new purpose.

 

 

***

 

They walked through winding stone pathways in their sodden shoes, Nigel’s firm hand holding him steady as Will’s clumsy feet slipped and slide against century old stones.

 

“Just like fucking Bambi.” Will heard Nigel chuckled, his hand holding onto his lower back intimately as he scrambled for purchase. “Hang on bambino.” Nigel murmured. Will almost whirled around and punched him. He may be drunk, wet, and terribly clumsy, but he refused to be reduced to some diminutive nickname by some stranger who just happened to look like Hannibal.

 

Before he could complain and argue with the man, they took a turn out of the dark pathways and into a well-lit avenue of shops and restaurants. Between them, was a small discreet entrance with a lion head statue, guarded by a bellhop dressed in coattails that looks like it cost more than his monthly pay.

 

“Ready?” Nigel grinned, jumping in place to shake off most of the water from his clothes.

 

Will’s mouth just went dry. “Wait, wait… Nigel I can’t-“ he mumbled, looking horrified as they walk past the bellhop who greeted them affably.

 

The lobby of the hotel looked like it came straight out of a turn of a century photograph, proudly European in aesthetic and unabashedly Florentine in its opulence. A pianist sat on a baby grand piano, serenading the late night patrons of the hotel with a sweet melody. They were all decked out suits and gowns, making both Will and Nigel stand out with their casual daywear.

 

“Yeah, I definitely can’t afford a room here.” Will groaned, hiding behind Nigel’s broad torso from the pianist who was certainly better dressed than he was.

 

Frowning at his companion’s words, Nigel threw his car keys to the bellhop and instructed him to pass it along to the valet service. “You ain’t paying for shit darling. I have a suite here.”

 

Will gave him a blank stare, unsurprised by that fact. “Of course you do.” He sighed “How else would you spend your drug money if not in ridiculous places like these?”

 

“Drug money, blood money, all the same. Now shush. Your drunk ass is going to get us both arrested.” Nigel growled, failing to sound menacing words for the umpteenth time today.

 

The pair splashed their way into an elevator, barely making it in. Their presence disturbed pair of amorous couple, who quickly began to straighten their disheveled clothes to hide the evidence of their interrupted lovemaking.

 

Nigel groaned and pulled Will to the corner of the elevator, already itching to kill the two lovebirds for making things more awkward than they already are. Will just blushed and stared at the ground, trying to not notice the lace panties spilling out of the woman’s purse, or the kiss mark on the man’s cheeks, or the faint outline of her unclasped bra.

 

The couple saw his curious looks returned them look with an indignant glare of their own. It was well deserved. Nobody enjoyed being ogled, especially not by a twitchy little man who looks like he might rob them for his next fix.

 

Nigel, never one to suffer discourtesy, grabbed the man by his expensive haircut and slammed his face repeatedly onto the wall. Mirrors cracked, scattering their now terrified faces across the floor. When the elevator dinged, he grabbed the woman by her hair and dragged her close, whispering some nondescript threat that would surely come to fruition should she call the police. The woman whimpered and begged for her life, scrambling out the door while tripping over her lace panties and half dead lover.

 

Silence settled back into the place.

 

“You’re terrible.” Will called from behind him. Nigel sighed and turned to the man, ready to be vilified for his violence like he always was when Gabi was around.

 

Instead of an angry glare, Nigel found Will biting down onto his hand, trying to stifle a laugh and failing miserably.

 

The unsure knot in Nigel held in his chest unraveled as Will squeezed out one choked laughter after another. “Did you see how she tripped over her underwear? After glaring at us for staring at them?” He doubled over, grabbing Nigel’s arm for support as another wave of laughter wracked his body.

 

Nigel growled and lifted Will high by his chest, looking up at the man with helpless relief.  Will just smiled down at him, eyes shimmering with mirth and fondness. “You terrible, terrible man.” Will grinned, squeezing his cheeks with drunken glee.

 

Nigel groaned and buried his face into his sodden clothes, knowing full well that Will has completely and utterly owned him.

Chapter Text

 

 

One thing that Will decided he hated about both Nigel and Hannibal was their terribly predictable spending habits.

 

The royal suite that Nigel had come to call home was the very picture of excess, with gold trimmed furniture and frescoes and statues that might have been lifted from the Louvre itself. Whereas Hannibal would carefully preserve his opulent surroundings to further project an curated image of himself, Nigel unabashedly pollutes it, upturning everything in his path until they are broken and distorted to his liking.

 

Crystal ashtrays overflowed with cigarette butts, a constant companion to the worn Italian dictionary that lay beside it. In the corner of the entrance, a proud statue of lady justice was unjustly reduced to a mere coat hanger, her scales weighing Nigel’s watch and cufflinks. The priceless marble floor they walked on bore the scratches and scuffs of Nigel’s leather shoes, its prints concentrating around a metal case filled with various guns and ammunition.

 

While other may balk at the reckless destruction laid before them, Will saw something more than mere devalued object d'artes. Nigel managed to bring forth comfort out of the perversion of priceless objects, like a wolf stamping down on grass so it may rest more comfortably.

 

Will found it terribly endearing.

 

“Bathroom is that way if you need to puke and shower.” Nigel said, leading Will to the master bedroom and stripping down to his underwear. ”And don’t take a bath! I don’t want your drunk ass to slip and drown.”

 

Will thanked him and headed into the bathroom, only stopping when his eyes caught a glimpse of Nigel’s ornately tattooed back.

 

With his shirt on the man didn’t look like he had any ink on him, but under his clothes Nigel boast a menagerie of menacing tattoos.

 

Angels and saints looked over his shoulder to smile down on a hellscape full of demons and prostitutes. On his left arm he had a hyper realistic portrait of a decapitated woman, her eyes rolling over in ecstasy, or pain, or both. On his right two of his beloved Berettas lay crossed over each other, awning over various gang symbols. Some of them looked old and faded, some of them looked new, but all had a line of scar crossing over them, like a to do list etched in pain.

 

Nigel had his whole history inked into his skin, and Will wanted nothing but to trace each line like a blind monk would to his bible.

 

Realizing his thoughts, Will quickly clambered into the shower, hoping that the scalding water might wash away his lingering fantasy.

 

‘Get a hold of yourself.’ Will thought as he purged the last of the wine from his stomach. ‘He’s not Hannibal.

 

“But you still want him, no?” Hannibal asked from within the fogged up mirror. Will didn’t dignify him with an answer. If he did, he may come to a terrible realization that he couldn’t escape from.

 

When he stepped out in his towels, he found the clothes that Nigel had set aside for him; a pair of boxers, comfortable looking jeans, and a rumpled shirt that was neither clean nor soiled.

 

Will laughed at Nigel’s failed attempt at folding them, each item faintly smelling of tobacco and sunshine. He abandoned the jeans that fell straight down past his waist, and chose to walk out clad only in the oversized shirt and boxers. Will felt safe in them, albeit somewhat self-conscious at the image he projected.

 

The suite was massive, but he eventually found his host out on the balcony, staring down at the city like a ruler might gaze over his domain. Nigel wore nothing but his jeans and an air of melancholy, brooding over something that made his strong back bend in defeat.

 

In one hand he held a glass of whiskey, in the other a lit cigarettes, the smoke covering his figure in like a mourning shroud.

 

Nigel’s body stood firm and broad, a testament of a hard life and an even harder line of work. His sun-kissed skin radiates warmth even in the dark, unmarred by age but brindled with vicious scars. They fit him regally, like a crown might fit a king’s head.

 

He’s the very picture of a stereotypical eastern European mobster, but Will saw right through his tattoos and guns the same way he saw through Hannibal’s suits and fineries. Nigel was a lonely soul, grieving for the loss of his wife. Damaged. Betrayed. Abandoned. He looked like he belonged in his pack of strays, eyes made wild by necessity, when all it wants is to be gentled back into domesticity

 

No more strays. Will told himself off, but the desire remained even after he took his place next to Nigel and joined his silent musing.

 

“Thank you for…” the memory of their shared experienced lay bitter on his tongue. “Just, thank you.” He said.

 

The man scoffed and nodded, unwilling to meet his eyes.  “Are you going to go now Will Graham?” Nigel asked, already anticipating disappointment.

 

“As soon as my clothes dries.”

 

“Right.” Was hissed through gritted teeth.

 

Will frowned. Maybe he should leave Nigel to his thoughts alone. The man clearly needed time to sort them through, or at least space to vent them out. He wanted to help Nigel, but the man just looked so ready to explode. After a murder and several breakdowns, Will just didn’t have any energy left to fight.

 

So he bid the man goodnight and turned away from him, hoping that the whiskey would give him the comfort that he couldn’t provide. However, before he could step back into the suite, Nigel’s hand caught his in a tender hold, pulling it like a child might on their mother’s skirt.

 

“Stay with me darling. I don’t want to be alone right now.” He mumbled, eyes shimmering with unshed tears.

 

The sight of them stunned Will into silence. There were no veiled intentions behind his desperate plea, only a profound sadness that reached past the barriers of his empathy.

 

“I don’t think I should… I’m-”

 

“Please?”

 

Will sighed and shook his head, enthralled by the beautifully vulnerable way Nigel asked for him.

 

No one has ever sought him out like this before. Alana, Jack, even Hannibal; they all thought he was too unstable, too broken to be a source of comfort. Nigel didn’t see him like that. To him, Will was not some helpless broken thing. He looked at the man like he was the source of every good thing that has ever happened to him, unabashedly vulnerable, unwavering in his trust.

 

How could Will rightly refuse someone like him?

 

“Alright Nigel.” Will replied, wiping away the wet edges of Nigel’s eyes. “I’ll stay.”

 

 

***

 

Eventually the dismal miasma that hung over Nigel’s head dissipated into benign stillness, it’s malevolence displaced by the Will’s easy company and soft conversations. The two sat together on the balcony with their feet hanging over the edge, tempting fate as they shared everything about their lives, leaving only the trauma they’re too ashamed to speak of.

 

As the night deepens and their glass emptied, Nigel began to inch his body closer to Will. First their thighs touched, then their sides, then their fingers, and finally their feet. Innocent arms stretched behind Will’s back, bringing him closer and closer until Nigel was practically cradling him while feigning ignorance at the same time.

 

Will just held a knowing smile and let Nigel’s touch found him, accepting every tentative advance with a pleasured hum. It felt good to be with Nigel. He was like an amulet that kept his monsters at bay, a spiritual protector that wore Hannibal’s face and expressed emotions the doctor never could.

 

Soon enough they were breathing in each other’s air, conversing only in breaths and sighs alone. When the whisky bottle was halfway empty, Nigel let his head dip down and nuzzled Will behind his ear. The scent of his bodywash on top of Will’s natural scent too intoxicating for him to ignore.

 

“Nigel.” Will laughed, pushing the man away.

 

“What?” Stubborn nose found its way back into his hair.

 

Will pulled away and patted Nigel on his cheek. “Thank you, but I’m not interested in men in that way.”

 

‘Liar.’ A chorus of his hallucination jeered.

 

Nigel rolled his eyes and groaned, the drink making him more ambivalent towards rejection. “I’m not trying to fuck you darling. I’m no faggot.”

 

‘Liar.’ They cackled.

 

“Well, maybe ease up on the ‘darling’s then.”

 

“Should I? You seem to like it.”

 

“Ha!” Will exclaimed in disbelief “Since when do you care about my preferences? You clearly ignored it when you pummeled that waiter’s face into mush” He glanced down to read the bruises on Nigel’s knuckles. “Don’t lie, I already know.”

 

Nigel just smiled sheepishly as if he was reprimanded for stealing a candy and not for violent assault. “Sorry, darling. Force of habit.”

 

“Is calling me darling going to be another habit of yours then?”

 

“Maybe.” he smirked. “Or I might just do it because it bothers you, daaaaarling.”

 

“How childish.” Will faked an exasperated sigh.

 

“Why don’t you add that too my list of defects, gorgeous.”

 

“Gorgeous now?” He snickered, convinced that Nigel was fucking with him at this point. “You should consider adding nearsightedness to the list.”

 

Nigel crowded Will against the edge of the balcony, tapping his eyebrows with a drunken smile. ”20/20,” He purred. “-and I think you’re a goddamned stunning.”

 

“Right.” Will laughed. “Heterosexual men doesn’t talk to each other this way.”

 

“How do you know? You’re not one are you? A heterosexual?” This time Nigel was the one laughing at Will’s expression. “Come on! Nobody spends a month on this country looking for their male ‘friend’.”

 

“Fuck you. I was married to a woman.”

 

“Same.” Nigel pointed to the scar on the edge of his hairline. “Not anymore.”

 

They glared at each other in silence, stillness before a storm.

 

“I can understand why she did it though.” Will mumbled.

 

“Oh? Really?” Nigel snapped, his whole body as tense as a coil of viper ready to strike. “Then tell me, why did my wife let me get shot in the head huh?”

 

“Because you’re such an annoying piece of shit!”

 

Will waited for a punch that never came. Nigel’s lips twitched. Will snickered. They laughed, toasted their glasses, and emptied them between their hiccupping chortles.

 

And just like that the two men returned to their previous spots, one feigning to stretch while the other letting the other rob him of his personal space. They could taste the mirth in each other breath, the very sound of it bringing back joy to their withering souls.

 

 

***

 

 

“I’m telling you bambino, you should forget about this cannibal fellow and replace him with me instead. I’m a waaaaaaayyyyy better friend than he is!”

 

Will’s red face lit up for a second before melting back into a frown “Trust me, you don’t want that. I’m a bad friend.” He sniffed, suddenly remembering Beverly and her neatly sliced body. Will bawled when he remembered how he urge her to investigate Hannibal at his behest.

 

Nigel trudged valiantly over ottomans and coffee tables, before nausea made him give up crawled over to the sobbing man. “I don’t believe that for one damn second. I mean, what’s the worst thing you did to the fucker? Fuck his missus?”

 

Will gave him a deadpan look. “I pushed him off a cliff.”

 

Seconds ticked by awkwardly. “That’s still not as bad as fucking his missus.”

 

“It’s attempted murder!”

 

“Tell him to suck it up. Emotional pain trumps physical pain, easily!”

 

“Oh, speaking of emotional pain.” Will waved the empty bottle like a club. “Did you know that he slept with a girl I kissed? After sending me to the crazy house?”

 

“Yeah amice, you told that story like a hundred times already. My opinion is still the same. The guy’s a dick.” Nigel grumbled behind his glass, shivering as he imagined the white walls of a mental institution. Being trapped in one was one of his greatest nightmares.

 

“That’s the general consensus.” Will sauntered over to the sink so he could down a glass of water down his parched throat. “Oh my GOD, Italian tap water taste so good!” He groaned, taking a glass to Nigel and spilling it half of it onto his chest.

 

The man ignored the glass and took Will’s hands instead.

 

“I fucking swear on my life, I will NEVER marry again. In fact!” Nigel hiccupped and ran out to his balcony. “I SHALL NEVER SETTLE DOWN WITH ANY ONE WOMAN, LEST AN AMERICAN WOULD COME AND STEAL HER AWAY AGAIN.” He shouted into the night, and promptly puked all over the Roman era mosaic that decorated the balcony.

 

Will went over to him and rubbed his back, hoping to soothe the man as he hurled his whiskey and sadness away. “I would never do that to you.” Will cooed.

 

You wouldn’t fuck my wife or you wouldn’t cheat on me? Nigel wondered through the painful convulses of his guts. Will’s hand wandered into his hair and settled on the scar on Nigel’s forehead.

 

“… Did the American shot you…?”

 

“Nah. It was the police. They held me up and my bitch of a wife just stood there like she didn’t know me.”

 

“Oh.  Is this a bad time to remind you that I am both an American and part of the FBI?”

 

Nigel shrugged. “Are you planning to steal my wife and shoot me on the head?”

 

“No.” Will chuckled, yelping when Nigel dropped his glass on the puddle of vomit. “You’re splattering puke everywhere!”

 

“Meh.” Nigel slung an arm around Will’s shoulders. “What’s a little vomit amongst friends?”

 

“Are we friends Nigel? Or are we just drunk?”

 

Nigel made a constipated face before cheering, “YES!” as he toasted a new bottle of whiskey against Will’s head and downed almost half of it.

 

“Alright. You’ve had enough.” Will groaned, feeling a headache coming up behind his eyes from that toast alone. He only managed to reach the living room before Nigel pulled him down by his ankles. “Nigel.” Will sighed. “You are the worst drunk that I ever seen.”

 

Uncaring and unfazed, Nigel pulled Will closer to lay his head down on his bare thighs, singing some Romanian nursery rhymes as he stared deep into Will’s stormy eyes. “So blue.” He brushed his fingertips against Will’s lashes. “So sad.” He crooned, shedding a tear for him.

 

Will blinked away his own tears with a sad smile. “So drunk.” He teased, but his voice caught on his throat and turned into a sob.

 

The two cried and sat dazed, enjoying the feeling of cool marble under their body. Will stroked the grieving man through his ashy brown hair, fingers coming back to linger over his bullet wound. “I hope it stops hurting here,” He placed a hand over Nigel’s chest “-and here.”

 

That small little gesture cuts through Nigel’s drunken haze. 

 

“I won’t be here tomorrow. I’ll be leaving for Bucharest.” he admitted.

 

“Same.” Will said, blinking sadly at the thought. “Tonight is my last night in Italy.”

 

“Going back to Virginia then?”

 

Embarrassed by Nigel’s sudden seriousness, Will wiped his face and turned away from him. “There’s nothing but ghost waiting for me in Virginia. I’ll settle somewhere warmer. Florida maybe.” Nigel made a discontented sound and waved his hand.

 

“Bucharest is warm this time of the year.”

 

“That must be nice.”

 

“Yeah, and my partner just got a few tons of heroin ready to sell.”

 

“Wow. Congrats.”

 

“Thanks. Wanna go?”

 

“Go where?”

 

“To Bucharest. With me.”

 

The man frowned, staring him down with a look that would make Jack Crawford proud.

 

“Come to Bucharest with me Will.” Nigel said with a brilliant smile.

 

Will looked touched. “You’re not serious, are you?” He asked, too inebriated to care about hiding the hope in his voice. “What the hell am I going do in Bucharest Nigel?”

 

“I dunno. Eat. Sleep. Get drunk with me.” Nigel shrugged, sighing in exasperation when Will’s face remained unchanged. “Look. Earlier today you asked me to help you, but in all honesty I don’t fucking know how to do that. I kill people and I sabotage big crime syndicates. That’s it. I don’t know to fucking fix you. Hell, I don’t fucking know to fix myself!” Nigel laughed, slapping his forehead and cursing himself right after. “All I know is that both of us is less miserable when we’re around each other, and my god, I don’t want that to ever stop.”

 

A gentle smile spread on Will’s apprehensive face. “I don’t want this to stop either.” He quietly admitted.

 

“So fucking come to Bucharest with me!” Nigel took his face in his calloused hand and knocked their heads together. “Maybe we’ll stop hurting here,” He stroked Will’s forehead. “-and here.” he traced a finger down to his chest.

 

Will head turned to the to the foyer where a vision of Hannibal stood pensively. Then he turned back and looked at Nigel, wearing the same face that’s was crazed by love. To him, the answer was clear.

 

“Alright Nigel. Take me to Bucharest.”

Chapter Text

 

 

 

***

The ancient buildings of Bucharest dotted the modern metropolis like mushrooms growing on rotting wood. Even the most decrepit area of the city held a vestige or two of the country’s glorious past, but they were relegated to mere halfway homes, trauma centers, and orphanages, as opposed to the museums and hip offices in the richer parts of the city.

 

Compared to the likes of Paris and Rome, Bucharest was a mere river rock amongst the glittering jewels of Europe. People pass it on their trip, only stopping to the infamous castle for tacky Dracula tours and superstitious trinkets. It’s Europe’s forgotten middle child, pushed away for their more remarkable siblings, but Will loved Bucharest like he loved his Louisiana hometown.

 

Culture and history buzzed around him, filling him with more than just the crowd’s ever invading thoughts. Living in such a multifaceted city exposed him to its many different sides, and being the guest of a Nigel Ibanescu, Will was often exposed to its violence more than the elegance Nigel tries to provide.

 

Every time they would encounter that part of his life, the Romanian quickly pull him away and apologized to him. It’s not like Will minded it. He isn’t a stranger to blood and madness. Walking between the fine line of violence and refinement was his specialty, thanks to years of interaction with the good Doctor Lecter. Being in the duality of the city made him feel right at home.

 

The crowd took some getting used to. At first stepping outside was like wading into a raging stream. Every single person has the potential to make him slip back into madness, but Nigel was rather insistent that that he sees the city, like an excited dog tugging on his owner’s leash.

 

So Will went, holding onto the man and trusting him to keep him sane. Slowly, his sensitive empathy dulled and the endless stream of consciousness quieted into mere white noise. Will was at peace with other people.

 

That fact alone changed him. Within a few weeks Will abandoned the twitchy avoidant façade and stepped out of his shell. He was no longer afraid of eye contact. Where he used to see the worst in people he now found something magical. The hardworking clerk, the anxious teenager, the loving father; each had their stories and they touched him, transformed him into a more complete human being.

 

Nowadays people see him as a polite foreigner who helpfully carries his neighbor’s groceries and speaks to the shop attendant on his broken Romanian. His charming smiles would disarm any suspicious stares and left them longing for his company. The wonderful thing was he didn’t even have to fake them.

 

Will was genuinely happy and stable, a concept that he thought could only exist in his head.

 

It wasn’t something that he achieved by himself. Will had spent all of his adult life searching for normalcy, failing constantly until he conceded to a life of a hermit. Even after Molly and Wally Will couldn’t find it in himself to be content. He only ever felt that way with Hannibal, even with his constant betrayals and manipulations.

 

Nigel wasn’t like that.

 

The man was far from a model citizen, but he doesn’t play games with Will like Hannibal did. Nigel was generous, kind, and uncouth enough for Will to feel comfortable and safe. When he’s overcome with darkness, Nigel was always there as his anchor.

 

They did everything together. In the morning Will would be up making them breakfast. The day then would be spent outside, Nigel teaching Will Romanian as they experienced the city’s many shops and restaurants. At night Will can be found serenely reading on Nigel’s massive sofa, unbothered by Nigel bickering with Darko on the phone.

 

On the days where he couldn’t distinguish between reality and what’s in his head, Nigel would take him to bed, holding him tenderly as he endured the never-ending nightmares that made him sweat and trembled like an addict in withdrawal.

 

Their routines were domestic and mundane, but never once did Will thought that they were boring. Every morning Will would greet Nigel with a “Bună dimineața Nigel.”  And the man would reply with a hug and a husky “Mornin’ amice.” in his ear.

 

Amice. That damned platonic word. Will hated it as soon as he understood it’s meaning.

 

His insides twisted uncomfortably at the word. It’s a role too narrow for him to play, a title too small for his growing appetite. No matter how stable he may be now, there was something dark still lurking deep inside him. It demanded Nigel’s passion, his pain, his complete and utter devotion. It made him want to consume the man and be devoured in return. It’s complete madness, yet no matter how often he tells himself that, the hunger never abated.

 

Will knew that it would be better for him to leave. Will have a tendency to break people. Even Hannibal couldn’t escape the chaos that swilled around him. Nigel has been nothing but good to him. Will didn’t want him to suffer like other people did.

 

But no matter how strong his resolve was, all thought of leaving would disappear when he saw those eyes light up when they see him. He couldn’t leave Nigel like that. He has tamed him, gentling out his feral nature until he was hopelessly attached to him. As always Will could never abandon a stray, for as much as he had saved Nigel, he too was saved by him. They needed each other, and Will knew that it was an unsustainable way to live.

 

Still, he stayed.

 

***

 

 

“You look like you need a lift professor.”  A familiar voice purred thickly, drawing Will’s attention away from his stack of papers and onto Nigel’s obscenely loud car.

 

The Alfa Romeo was definitely parked too close to the curb, but even the strictest traffic police would balk at the sight of the driver. Nothing says ‘I have the legal means to end you’ like a rich guy smoking in a foreign sport scar.

 

‘Rude.’ Will thought, but the people around him certainly didn’t share his opinion. They were too busy gawking at the handsome ruffian and his bright red car, an attraction to liven up their mundane afternoon.

 

Nigel was certainly a sight to behold. He was a chain-smoking scoundrel with an air of danger around him, and his handsome face certainly attracted attention. He wore simple clothes that clung to his well-built body, all name brand items with prices only an oligarch could afford.

 

“Miss me darling?” Nigel teased, raising his sunglasses to wink at some girls sitting next to his table. While they tittered and blush, Will raised his papers back up and resumed his grading, pushing away the urge to gouge their eyes for even looking at the man.

 

“I don’t think you can miss someone you just saw four hours ago.” Will mumbled, roughly.

 

“Hm. Well here I am, your loyal chauffeur. How does a road trip to Istanbul sounds? We’re running out of coffee and there’s this fantastic place in Siliviry that gives you a harem of girls with every order of their million dollar cup.”

 

Will sighed, rolling up the hopeless report that he’s going to fail anyway. “I have class in an hour, and you-“ he pointed the paper at Nigel“-you’re supposed to be helping Darko with that meeting.”

 

Nigel just shrugged. He didn’t even try to act guilty. “Yeah. Well. I got bored so I went on a little smoke break.”

 

“A smoke break to Turkey?”

 

“No, we’re going to Turkey to get coffee. Keep up amice.”

 

“Nigel, it takes half a day to get there by car.”

 

“All the more reason to get going now.” Nigel slapped the outside door of his car. “Come on, Will. Naked. Coffee. Ladies. Lets go!”

 

After a tense minute, Will turned his attention back to his pages, ignoring the pleading glances the man sent his way. “You promised Darko you’d be there.” He said with a completely serious voice. Nigel’s protests died down at his tone. This time Will could see a flush of shame creeping up his tanned neck.

 

Like an owner would to a disobedient dog, Will ignored Nigel completely and focused on his grading instead. He expected a curse or two, or at least some kind of destruction of property. Instead Nigel just stayed in his car, face flushed and glaring at the steering wheel. Clearly his words had hit home.

 

A swell of pleasure churned Inside of Will. Nige was an adult, free to do whatever he wanted, but the fact that he chose to stay after such rejection speaks volumes about how he feels about him.

 

A sick part of him wondered if Nigel still stay if he hurt him like Hannibal did to him.

 

If Alana were here, she would chide him for treating Nigel like one of his strays. ‘People are not animals Will.’ She would say, and Will would agree. He would tell her that he’s trying to create healthy boundaries, that he knows this relationship is not sustainable. He’ll even take her advice and avoid him, but that will not erase the desire he in his heart to completely consume the man.

 

 

**

 

Without much disruption from Nigel, his grading went by quickly and before long, his hand was empty. Without the papers to distract him, Will found himself staring at the man. By now the curious onlookers have all dispersed, the novelty of the car no longer special to them, but Will remained captivated by the man sitting in the driver seat.

 

He quickly tidied up his things and made his way over to Nigel, slipping into his usual seat next to him. Beyond rolling up the windows and locking the doors, Nigel didn’t acknowledge him, opting to glare at his wheel so that he may avoid releasing his temper in Will’s direction.

 

Will knew that there was something bothering him beyond the road trip. The man was too carefree to be mulling over something for so long. Trusting his instincts, Will lean over and stroked the man’s hair, and instantly he sensed the edginess inside the man soften into something gentle.

 

“I’m can’t going to Istanbul Nigel, but I would love to spend the rest of my lunch break with you.” He said tentatively. Nigel’s grip loosened at the words, but he remained as still as a statue. “What do you want to do hm? I’m down for anything that can be done in under half an hour.”

 

“So no Istanbul?” He asked.

 

”No, no Istanbul. I still have a class to teach.” Will chuckled back.

 

“Skip it.”

 

“You know I can’t. I just started working there. They’ll fire me.”

 

“Then beat them to it and quit. I don’t get why you insist on getting a job. You need to buy shit? Just use the credit cards I gave you.”

 

“We are not having this conversation again Nigel.” Will chided. The answer clearly did not sit well with Nigel. The dangerous edge came back and the man he exploded in a string of curses and slammed his hand down the center console, denting it.

 

‘There it is.’ Will sighed, already used to seeing Nigel’s burst of anger.  “Alright then, I guess we are having this conversation again.”

 

“I’m sick of talking about it.” Nigel sulked.

 

“I’m not fond of it either Nigel.”

 

“So let’s stop fucking talking and go to fucking Istanbul!” He snapped, the edges of his voice as sharp as a needle.

 

Without much thought Will clambered over the man’s lap and pushed him back to his seat, knocking their foreheads together with a satisfying sound. It’s something that Nigel always did when Will woke up with his nightmares in tow, and it never failed to calm him down.

 

At first Nigel struggled, cursing in Romanian and looking anxiously at the crowds, but as the minutes passed, Nigel finally surrendered. His deep crimson eyes held a look of defeat, and Will wanted nothing more than to kiss them all away.

 

“Why do you want to run away to Istanbul Nigel?” he asked, firm grim turning into a gentle hold.  “Are things really so bad that you would leave Bucharest just like that?”

 

“It’s not- I’m not-.“ Nigel groaned. “It’s cheating if you use your empathy thing like that.”

 

“I know.” Will smiled apologetically. The truth is he doesn’t need to look deep to understand Nigel. The time they spent together has brought them close, so much so that Will couldn’t differentiate which emotions are his and which are Nigel’s.

 

The man sighed and nuzzled against Will’s hand. “It used to be simple. Go here, guard this, kill that person. It’s not like that anymore blue eyes.” He said quietly.

 

Will nodded along to his words, knowing firsthand the immense pressure that has fallen on Nigel’s shoulders. With a power vacuum that threatens to destabilize the European market, Nigel found himself in a leadership position not only because of his contribution to Darko’s supplies, but for his reputation as the most fearsome man in all of Europe.

 

Where he used to work alone, now dozens of eager deputies awaits his order. Former rivals and enemies now greet him happily, inquiring on the possibility of an alliance. Even Darko depended on him on making the right calls.

 

These new problems are not something he can solve with sheer brutality. Nigel was now a king, a reluctant one he might be, but the crown has been placed in his head. It’s only natural to want to abandon such a position and lose himself in the arms of expensive prostitutes and belly dancers.

 

Will stroked Nigel’s stubbled chin, soothing the man until he could feel the pulse on his neck gentled steadily. “I know you have a lot on your plate right now, but you shouldn’t leave Darko out to dry like that.”

 

The man quietly regarded his words, swallowing his smart remarks to focus on Will’s soothing words.

 

“It’s… fuck. “ He sighed and held Will’s head, cradling him down until their noses touch. “It’s not easy… but it’s okay.  I can handle it as long as you’re with me.“ He murmured, voice choked up in pain. “…but you’re leaving, aren’t you?”

 

“Nigel. That’s…”

 

Nigel gave him a look that withered the lie perched on his tonged. When he stayed silent, Nigel held him tighter and growled.

 

“Don’t lie. Tell. Me.” He barked. Even with the windows up his voice carried and startled the people outside, but Will remained calm. He held his hand up and stroked Nigel’s muscular arm, urging him to ease on his desperate grasp.

 

“I thought it would be best if I move out.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I don’t want people to look down on you.” He sighed. “They think I cant speak the language but I know what poponar and pederast mean.”

 

The confession was the excuse that Nigel needed to unleash his anger. His eyes darkened, turning dangerous. Will tried to return back to his seat, but Nigel’s large hands found his hand gripped him in place.

 

“Who said that?” He hissed, pressing bruises onto Will’s wrist. “I’ll shove a metal pole up their ass and make them understand what those words really mean.”

 

Will winced and grabbed Nigel’s hand. This time his touches remained unheeded. “That’s not the point that I’m trying to make.” He said weakly.

 

“Then what’s the point of telling me about my men disrespecting you if you don’t want me to fucking kill them!” This time, the pain was too intense to ignore, and Will flinched away.

 

The sight doused Nigel’s blazing anger. The deadly grip turned into a tender cradle, and Nigel pulled him close while murmuring apologies against his reddening skin.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, blue eyes I didn’t mean to-“

 

“It’s okay.” Will murmured, shivering as Nigel covered each painful mark with a tender kiss.

 

The two quietly sat in the car, offering and accepting penance with equal grace and devotion. How Will wished he could tell Nigel of his desire for a more permanent mark, how no matter how deeply he scarred him, Will would never be satisfied until they are living in each other’s marrow.

 

But those thoughts were not what good people have for their friends, and Will wanted so desperately to be good to Nigel.

 

He took the penitent man by his chin and met his guilt-ridden eyes. “We’re two bachelors living together. Like it or not, our arrangement rubs people the wrong way. You have people to lead, allies to win, and territories to conquer. I don’t want your reputation to be tarnished before your legacy even begins.”

 

Nigel stayed quiet. In his head he knows that Will was more than right. He does not operate on his own anymore, and his new responsibilities requires a certain image, and having a male companion does not fit with his new role.

 

“Is it bad that I don’t give a shit about my legacy?” Will only replied with a chuckle of disbelief. Nigel’s heart eased at the gentle sound. “You are good for me. So why are you leaving?”

 

If hearts could break, then Will’s has certainly shattered with every one of Nigel’s words. He hid his sorrow with a terribly practiced laughter, but it came out all ugly and warped.

 

“We can still meet up Nigel. I just think that you shouldn’t be living with a man.” He gave the man’s hair one last stroke before slipping back onto his own seat, itching to press on his bruises so that the pain may override his sorrow. “Come on. I’m almost late to class. Drive me there?”

 

Understanding that this was as far as their conversation would go, Nigel nodded and began to start his engine. They drove in silence, each of them too wrapped up in their own heads to enliven the somber atmosphere. In no time at all they arrived in Will’s campus, and yet the two stayed in their seats, searching hard for the appropriate word that would ease their parting.

 

Before Will could exit the vehicle out of sheer awkwardness, Nigel drummed his fingers on the leather stitches of his steering wheel and began humming in contemplation. “I could just… kill them all.” He offered.

 

Will just shook his head in amusement. “And get a repeat of Florence?”

 

“Fuck.” Nigel groaned and hit his head back on his headrest. “Darko is better at these things than I am. I don’t even know why he wanted me as a business partner.”

 

“Because you’re trustworthy, dependable, and you’re damn good at your job “ The answer sent a wave of redness down Nigel’s face. “You took care of me so well Nigel. You should take care of Darko too.”

 

Nigel heart swelled at those gentle words. Will’s eyes remained so loving and gentle even after his outburst. He knows that such tenderness was wasted on a man like him, and yet he craved it all the same.

 

The man reached out and put Will’s palm up against his cheek, memorizing the touch so he may call upon the memory in the future. “And how about you amice? Who’s gonna take care of you while I’m busy wiping Darko’s ass?” he murmured.

 

Will bit his tongue, trying to endure the creeping hunger that arises at the sight of Nigel’s eyes. For someone so dangerous, he looked childlike in his vulnerability. So ripe for him to pluck and consume. He understood Nigel completely, he knows the words he can say to bind the man to him.

 

He knows that if he just ask, Nigel would break himself just to prove his devotion. Will wanted nothing else but to witness that, because in his mind, there was nothing more beautiful that the object of his desire twisted up in pain.

 

Instead of those dark words, Will swallowed his demons and simply says. “Don’t worry about me. I’m just a professor Nigel, I’ll be just fine.”

 

With one last smile Will bid Nigel goodbye and exited the car, only to be pulled back, his head falling onto Nigel’s lap, blue eyes straight up at the man’s pained maroon ones.

 

“Alright darling. You win, okay?” He conceded. “I’ll go and help Darko properly. I’ll attend the fucking meetings and dumb balls and mingle with those fuckers. Just-“ He sighed. “Just don’t move out. I need to see you.”

 

Will regarded the simple request quietly. “Codependency is unhealthy.” He said, his voice thick with resolve. “We’re not family, nor are we lovers. Friends should have some healthy boundaries.”

 

“I smoke, I drink, I kill people for a living. Nothing I do is healthy.” Nigel helped him up, apologetically stroking over the marks he left on Will’s wrist. “You’re the only good thing in this fucken’ world. Don’t take it away from me.”

 

Will let out a shuddering breath, his willpower dangerously shaken from Nigel’s small request. “I’ll think about it.” He murmured. Nigel looked satisfied at his answer enough to let him go, watching his back disappear into the crowd of students, his heart heavy with trepidation.

 

 

 

***

 

Criminology 101 was one of the university most popular courses. The seats were filled with bright-eyed freshman and tired law students. All tenured professors start here, teaching newcomers the foundation for a career that most people was rarely prepared for.

 

Will did not structure his classes as a friendly introductory course. His program was rigorous; with immense coursework that mimicked the relentlessness of police paperwork and its accompanying fatigue.

 

Macabre case files would scare away the cowards, and dense reading materials took care of the lazy. By the end of the month the herd would be thinned, leaving only those who took the subject seriously. To such people Will was happy to dedicate his time and mentorship to, and his ardent student whispered behind his back, both to curse his harsh course and adore him with the same breath.

 

One such student does not belong in his class. Sitting amongst the crowd of law students and eager academy trainees was a boy clad in expensive street wear. He had his eyes stuck onto Will’s presentation, pupils dilating at the sight of blood and suffering. Will knew that if he were to dive into his mind, the man’s fetishes would not differ so much from his bloody teaching materials.

 

Will brushed his concern off. After all, psychopaths were attracted to powerful occupations. After his class ended, Will stayed behind and answered his student’s questions, his sharp words sending the witless scurrying while the more durable of them stayed for the knowledge.

 

The man lingered around, sulking in the shadows as he waits for the students to leave. Now that he’s seen him up close, Will could finally recognize his familiar face.

 

“Emil.” Will invited the boy closer. “Nigel didn’t tell me that one of his men is auditing my class.” He said with a friendly smile, offering his chair to the shaken boy. “How can I help you?”

 

Will leaned against his table and waited as Emil scrambled for his words. On the edges of his sweatpants Will could make out a rectangular silhouette that has become a familiar fixture in Nigel’s apartment.

 

“Oh dear.” Will nodded towards the package. “I hope you didn’t bring illegal substances into my class Emil.”

 

His words were the thing that Emil needed to start his story. In a mixture of broken English and Romanian, Emil told him about the man who jumped him, a thug from a rival gang who was hungry for glory.

 

On any other day the act of protecting a merchandise would earn him a commendation, but in the current atmosphere, Emil’s act of defense could be a convenient excuse for some up and coming underdogs to start a gang war.

That would not bode well for Nigel and Darko’s alliance.

 

“I’m as good as dead if they found me with this domnul. They would know that I’m the one who killed him. They’ll think Nigel sef sent me!” He pulled out the thickly wrapped brick of Heroin and pushed it towards Will, expectant eyes peeking from under his fitted cap.

 

“Ah, so that’s why you sat in my class.” Will said tightly, drawing a line across the dense brick of Heroin. “I don’t appreciate being used like this Emil.” He pushed the package back.

 

“Please sir! I only ask you because domnul Nigel trust you.”

 

“Do you think he will still trust me when those men steal this back?” Will frowned. Emil looked away guiltily.

 

Marele șef wont hurt his, uh… guest domnul.”  The boy said, putting deep intonation in the noun. “-but I’m afraid he will offer my head just to appease our enemies.”

 

Will regarded the trembling boy with detached indifference. It made no difference to him if this sadistic little upstart lives or dies, but he could not risk losing Nigel in some petty drug war.

 

“Alright, I’ll help you. Tell me what I have to do.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Taking the package was a mistake. Emil’s efforts to reassure him now felt like empty lies. “I’ll distract them. They still think I have the package with me. I’ll draw them out and keep their attention from you. It will be easy!”

 

Their plans failed as soon as three men in black suits stopped them in their tracks

 

“You know that punk, professor?” One of the men asked. Emil cowered and ran as quick as a rabbit, muttering “Îmi pare rău profesore.” Under his breath. With his only backup gone, Will had no other choice but to run.

 

They chased him through tunnels and subways, relentless even as Will brought them to a crowded market. He slipped into a stall, hiding behind the clerk with a barrel chest, hoping they would keep walking and lose him.

 

Not yet, he thought, abandoning the stall in favor of slipping into a crowd of soccer fans. When he looked back, he could still see glimpses of them closing in.

 

His heartbeat pounded through his head, filling his ears like the war drums of an advancing enemy. Will felt no fear, only a sinister playfulness that he tried so hard to keep buried. The thrill of the chase brought it back to life, and the adrenaline coursing through his blood reminded him of the night he killed the Dragon.

 

It was the first time he ever shed off the shackles of humanity, and it felt good.

 

Why do I keep denying myself that feeling?

 

He thought of Hannibal, of the adoring look he had when Will approached him, covered in the blood of their covenant.

 

Slowly the mask of the mild mannered professor slipped down, and with every step Will found himself freer, lighter, more dangerous than ever. Like herds of sheep cowering away from a hungry wolf, crowds of people parted open, making way for the man with violence dancing in his eyes.

 

“There you are Will.” Hannibal smiled as he rushed past an empty storefront. He was still wearing the suit he had on in Florence, as perfect as ever. Desire tugged at the base of his groin but Will ignored it and took off. This was not the time.

 

“I missed you.” The doctor called out from a different corner, watching with amusement as Will stop and stared at him with hungry eyes. “I see you have missed me too.”

 

Will wanted to growl and take the man right there in front of everyone, but as he stepped closer to Hannibal, every killer he ever profiled began to materialize. Hobbs, Brown, Dollarhyde; they all emerged from the hidden shadows of Bucharest, watching him with pallid eyes.

 

Some of them were hazy outlines he could barely remember. Most of them had that dreamlike quality to their figure. Hannibal stood out amongst them, less of an apparition and more tangible than the crowd that surrounded him.  

 

“I am a part of you Will. Just as you inhabit my memory palace, I will forever be a part of you.” Hannibal purred, as Will bit the insides of his own cheek, clutching the package he promised to take to Nigel. ‘I want you, but I cant. Not now.’

 

The look that Hannibal gave him was somewhere between pity and amusement.

 

“Down that alley. Take them out of the crowd. The construction site will do fine.” He said, pointing to the diverging path that exits the market.

 

“Without the crowd I won’t be able to lose them, doctor.” Will hissed. His hallucination merely tut-tutted in reply, aghast of his rudeness even after his generous advice.

 

“You’re not going to lose them Will. You’re going to kill them.”

 

The thought of murder entered his head like a drug to an addict’s vein. Heady with anticipation, Will cracked his bones and stood up, waiting for one of the men to catch a glimpse of him before exploding into a run. A feral smile began to dance on his lips as successfully provoked his prey, and he could feel Hannibal’s approval dripping down his back like a freshly skinned coat of fur.

 

Finding an empty construction site was laughably easy, the workers clocking out as soon as the workday is over. Shadows of large looming engines engulfed him like a jungle’s foliage may hide a Tiger’s presence. Will lie in wait, his breath even, hands steady, teeth bared. ‘Blood! Give me a mouthful, a gallon, an ocean! ‘

 

“You’ll have it.” Hannibal murmured against his ears, and Will could feel himself grow hard just from his ghosting breath.

 

Three men followed his tracks and entered the building site, shouting obscenities as Will’s trail turn cold. With practiced efficiency they divided their tasks. One of them stayed near the gate, keeping careful watch, while the other two spread out into the large area, knives drawn out, ready to attack.

 

‘Come on.’ Will bit down an excited whine, itching to grab one of the advancing men. ‘Let me sink my teeth into you. I can hear your blood pumping through your veins. I need it IneeditINEED-‘

 

“Patience Will.” Hannibal whispered, placing a calming hand on Will’s shoulder. The raging beast stilled, obeying Hannibal’s touches like a dog obeying its master. “Wait till he passes you. Take him from behind, hold his head between his ears, and twist hard to sever the nerves between the C1 and C3.”

 

‘Then I can tear into them?’

 

“Not yet. You still have the lookout.” Hannibal chided, long elegant fingers caressing Will’s jaw, as real as he was standing next to him. “After he’s dead, then you can play with the last one.”  He motioned to the last sight of the man, the biggest of the three, but the least experienced judging from the nervous tell his body hulking body.

 

Will hummed in agreement, eyes following his closest prey like a hungry animal.

 

“Go on.” Hannibal teased, leaving him in the dark alone as he stepped into the crowd of Will’s old monsters, a captive audience all aroused by the promise of blood.

 

Will channeled their violent desires, feeling it thrum under his skin, a pulsing energy ready to explode. As soon as the man walked past him, Will attacked.

 

With practiced moves from his days in the force, Will emerged from the shadow and twisted the man’s neck with a muffled crack, catching his body before it falls down to the ground.

 

Light steps brought him closer to the man guarding the gate. A menacing looking semi automatic was hidden in his back pocket, but before he could reach for it Will dispatched him with the same detached efficiency.

 

Finally finished with the distractions, Will unfurled to his spine and stood tall, considering the gun on the man’s waist. The crowd of monster jeered and hissed at it, favoring the hunting knife on his waist instead.

 

Will grabbed the hefty blade and stalked his way closer to his last victim, pushing past the collection of criminals that used to plague his head. No longer will he live in fear of their pitiful crimes. Will has transcended beyond Hobbs, beyond the Dragon, beyond Hannibal. He was the culmination of all the nightmares who has tormented him, the will of a thousand killers made to life, and he was ravenous.

 

“I am here.” He said in broken Romanian. The last man turned and immediately fell onto his back, the sight of his two dead companions paralyzing him with fear. Will grinned and stalked over to him, his confident gait morphing into a full blown sprint.

 

Lose gravel betrayed the last man’s footing’s, sending him toppling down into a pit of sand. His knife clattered across the lot, and he tried clambering over to it, but the sight of Will’s advance petrified him in his spot.

 

Death. That’s what the man saw, and he knew that it would not come peacefully.

 

Will halted to a stop just a mere foot over him, taking in a deep breath and groaning. He could taste his fear. “Acidic. You’ve ruined the meat Will.” Hannibal called out, and Will laughed.

 

“I don’t plan to eat my prey, Doctor. I am beyond your pathology.” He purred, breaking off a rusted pipe and spinning it in his hand.

 

“Then maybe we should properly prepare him to whet your appetite, yes?” Hannibal asked, but Will was busy impaling the man’s feet onto the soft earth to listen.

 

Pained shrieks echoed through the empty lot, and Will quickly cut it short, kneeing the man’s face into the ground. The hunting knife on his hand felt steady felt like an extension of his own hand, a great big claw ready to rip and tear. Somewhere behind him Randal Tier roared in approval.

 

‘Tear into him. Butcher him. Killkillkill-‘

 

“Skewered?” Hannibal called out, elegantly perching on a pile of pipes.

“Flambéed?” He asked, this time lifting a can of gasoline to read its label.

“Tenderized?” the man suggested, leaning against a large road roller.

 

Will tilted his head and carefully regarded his prey.

 

“Skinned.”

 

The three Hannibal hummed in agreement and came to him, their hands multiplying into a thousand of worshipful caress. It was as if Shiva himself has descended to witness this moment.

 

“Go on.” Hannibal hummed into his lips.

“Give us a show.” The next whispered beside his ears.

“Enjoy yourself.” The last gushed, face pressed obscenely against his crotch.

 

“Oh I will.” Will grinned, pushing past the worshipful men to dig his blade into his prey. The three Hannibal stood back and sighed as one, reverent as they watch their creator work.

 

***

 

It wasn’t until the man’s skin was pulled free from his muscle that his body finally gave up and went into shock. Will frowned, watching his convulsion with mild distaste, clutching onto the slippery pile of skin he worked so hard on and letting it fall with a squelch.

 

It’s not fair. He wasn’t done playing with him yet.

 

With an angry roar Will threw the knife away and dug his hand into the dead man’s bare pectorals, tearing apart seizing muscles and breaking ribs with a great big heave. The man’s body buck and struggled weakly, gasping as he felt the monster above him wrapped his palm around his heart, scowling face turning into an excited smile.

 

“There. I feel you.” Will eyes fluttered close, squeezing tighter against the bulbous organ, feeling it’s grows weaker with every beat.

 

The man whimpered, pushing his hand against Will’s, uselessly causing him more pain as the raw flesh slip and slide against Will’s firm palm. “It’s okay. You can go. I just want to feel it.” Will murmured intimately, throwing his leg over the man and bearing down on him. “You’ll let me, won’t you?”

 

The man wept, transfixed by Will’s loving gaze. How can someone be this beautiful and terrible at the same time? Angels and demons cannot compare to this fearsome being, he who petrifies and inflamed the very flesh and soul of his victims.

 

He used his withering strength to raise his one attached arm, desperately trying to trace the tender edges of the smiling lips. Will giggled at his effort, generously leaning down to press against the raw pads of his prey’s hand, kissing the exposed meat to provide him with painful respite.

 

After hours of enduring unspeakable torture, the man finally felt peace. He died wondering if he ever felt such love from someone like Will before. 

 

With one last great big heave, the wet lungs pressing against Will’s buried arm collapsed, and the heart in his hand jolted into stillness.

 

The darkened lot was finally still. The show was over, and his spectators began to melt away, leaving him alone with his most ardent admirer. Hannibal embraced him from behind, removing his hand from the man’s chest. Will flinched at obscene squish, leaning heavily against Hannibal, relying on him to support his trembling legs.

 

“You look radiant Will.” Hannibal said. Will looked down, blood gluing fingers together with an unpleasant stickiness. The rest of him will soon feel like that too.

 

“Is this real?” Will asked, closing and opening his hands, nails digging crescent indentations into his palm. He could still feel the man’s heart fluttering to a stop. Seconds ago it made him feel powerful. Now he just feel sick.

 

“Are you real?” He turned to Hannibal, finding only darkness answering him

 

Will swallowed hard and reached over for his phone. His digits slip and dirtied the screen, but eventually he managed to punch in the numbers he needed. “Darko?” He greeted into the receiver with trembling voice. “Don’t tell Nigel, but I just killed three people.”

Chapter Text

 

The mangled body of the man stared up at him with a pair of reddened eyes, burst vessels indicative of a sign of a struggle. Considering the extent of his injuries, the man held on longer than most would. Will pitied that about him, but he enjoyed every tortured cries nonetheless. What remained after was nothing but a seeping skeleton, like a bare bone on a piece of Jamón Iberico, meat carved away and spent.

 

As someone who intimately studies the destruction of the human body, Will understood the rudimentary mechanics that kept most people alive. If prompted by a test, he could never recall it perfectly, but somehow over the whirlwind of struggling limbs he heard Hannibal’s voice with perfect clarity, droning in that musical accent of his about systolic blood pressures and shock mitigation.

 

“You would want to keep them longer Will.”

“Yes, savor it like you would savor a fine meal.”

“So you may recall it’s memory when you hunger for more.”

 

Hannibal’s voice was as intimate as their weekly conversations, but only this time Will didn’t have to imagine Hannibal’s hand on him. As he sliced and swallowed his kill, their hands roamed freely throughout his body, as real as the man’s terrified screams, as gentle as an ardent lover. 

 

Will would remember this night for many years to come.

 

He stood up on trembling legs, all tingly from the lack of circulation. He beheld the flayed man, bare from his skull down to his ankle. He saw the boy parading as man and stripped him bare, held his heart, and made his last moments worthwhile.

 

Beyond the sickening realization of his heinous act, Will felt a profound sense of righteousness.

 

He grabbed the man by his ankles where he notched the skin loose, the soles of his feet providing ample friction for him to drag the not so heavy corpse away from the pile of meat and onto two other pile of bodies.

 

“Not going to display him?”

“But you worked so hard.”

“He’s too beautiful to be hidden away.”

 

“Shut up.” Will hissed, but his words held no bite. The three Hannibals chuckled at his vitriol, their voices indulgent, never mocking. When Will he looked up, he found a singular Doctor Lecter, looking at him with a fond smile on his ever-elegant face.

 

“I have missed you Will.”

 

Suddenly Will’s throat felt too dry and rough for words. “I miss you too Hannibal.” Will whispered, covering the bodies with a tarp and joining his hand onto Hannibal’s proffered ones, waiting in companionable silence for the cavalry to arrive.

 

***

 

Large shiny trucks with large men in shiny shades entered the small alleyway. Its occupants poured out, eyes zeroing onto Will in an instant. He merely raised his hand in greeting, untangling from the sticky hold he had on Hannibal. He could feel the man bristling beside him.

 

Will knew several of the cleaners by name. They were all Nigel’s loyal followers, big men who wore machismo like armor as they desperately tried to emulate their leader. A few, he noticed, were the same ones who quietly cursed at him, unscathed and arrogant as ever. Somehow their presence reassured him. He didn’t really care about their safety, he was just curious whether Nigel would keep his promise to him.

 

The fact that he honored their agreement made him smile. Again, he could feel Hannibal’s distaste growing as stood quietly beside him.

 

Tonight, there men held no resentful glares or threw homophobic curses. They looked tentatively cautious, scared even. As they walked past him, they all averted their gazes, murmuring “Domnule” in a respectful greeting. Will nodded in reply, watching each of these hardened men with curious eyes.

 

Will didn’t turn when he heard the tarp rustle, nor did he try to explain when some of the men gagged and hurled their dinner onto the concrete. “You’re leaving DNA all over the crime scene.” He muttered, an automatic response from a life he long left. A pale looking brunette understood his English and nodded, stammering out apologies and promises about cleaning everything up.

 

“Amateurs.” Hannibal scoffed, making Will shake his head in disbelief.

 

“Only you would say something like that.” He muttered, quietly leaving the men to do their jobs. Hannibal’s steps fell in rhythm into his, a quiet music that only they could enjoy.

 

“It’s okay Will. You don’t need anyone else to understand you.” Hannibal said, crowding him with each step, the cloying scent of his aftershave filling his head until he is heady with thoughts of him.

 

How can a hallucination be this real? How could he feel the cool silk of his suit and the woodsy perfume of his aftershave? All of these reminders were like knives twisting in his flesh, taunting him with the knowledge that Hannibal, the real Hannibal, has left him.

 

As if he could read his mind, his illusion grinned and closed their distance, pushing Will against the graffiti laden wall. “My dear Will.” Hannibal rumbled, pushing their

growing hardness against each other. Will gasped and slammed his head to the side, knowing that one look would be enough to undo him.

 

Hannibal laughed, craning his head down and licked the drying blood on Will’ splattered neck.

 

“Fuck!” He jumped away, touching the spot on his neck and finding his digits his wet, flakes of blood melting into the spaces between his fingers. Hannibal laughed. Will growled.

 

‘He’s not real. This is not real. None of this is. ‘

 

But if it’s true, then why couldn’t shake this hunger brewing on his stomach?

 

“Will.” Nigel’s voice cuts through the haze lust and confusion, bringing him back to reality.

 

“Will.” He called again, this time his voice firm and unshakable.

 

“Answer me Will!” He shouted. Will flinched, suddenly aware of his blood-crusted hands and gore covered clothes.

 

“Nigel?” Will breathed the name in disbelief as he hid his hand behind his back. Nigel stood just behind Hannibal’s silhouette, backlit by the cars’ bright light. His broad shoulders cutting an impressive figure, but the refined suit he’s in only served to contrast the wildness that seemed to burst from the seams of his jackets.

 

Nigel stomped over to him, pushing through Hannibal’s body like it was smoke. Like a black hole pulling him to its abyssal depth, Will was instantly drawn to him. He stepped forward; Nigel’s name perched on his lips, along with a thousand other words that might explain his sorry sight.

 

The man just held up his hand, in a silent offering, but Will couldn’t find the will to reach up and take it.

 

“Darling, you’re crying.” The man said quietly, close enough to touch. Will reached up to wipe his face, finding his face is indeed sodden with tears, from his cheeks down to his neck and chest.

 

“Oh. I thought it was….” He trailed off, turning around to look for Hannibal, to demand and explanation for his salacious gestures. Before he could find him Nigel’s strong hands pulled him into an embrace.

 

It felt so right, so safe and warm there in his arms. Will sighed and let himself sink into Nigel, sobbing openly as the man held him like no one ever had. When he opened his eyes, Will found Hannibal watching them in the distance, shimmering away like a fading mirage.

 

‘No. Not again.’

 

Will reached out with his trembling hand, praying that they might come together again, that he may be real, and for his touch to wreck him like it always does. Hannibal closed his eyes, offering his hand despite knowing the inevitability of their separation.

 

“It’s okay blue eyes.” Nigel rumbled, taking his outstretched hand to kiss his crimson digits. “I’ll take care of you.”

 

Will wanted to scream. He wanted to roar and proclaim his power, to shove Nigel down and show him how his ‘darling’ paints with flesh and bones. Will was not a pet to be appeased, a child to be spoiled, or a woman to be held. He was more than that. He was power. He was wrath. He was everything anyone could ever conceive.

 

Yet when he turned his angry eyes towards Nigel, Will found none of the imagined condescension. There was nothing but sincerity in those deep amber eyes, a heartfelt love for the beast that he is, not in spite of it.

 

Will could never hate Nigel when he looks at him like that.

 

So he let himself sink into the folds of Nigel’s clothes, embracing the unbearable warmth, hoping that it might burn away the filth that has corrupted his impure heart.

 

 

 

**

 

The next few days Nigel followed Will around like a newly hatched chick following its mother.

 

“I can’t leave you after shit like that.” He reasoned, and Will couldn’t find a good enough excuse to shoo him away. In some ways, he was afraid that he might lose control and hurt the students and the faculty. Secretly, he knew that he enjoyed the company, even if it was hard to admit it out loud.

 

Nigel sat in every one of his classes, smoking and glowering at everyone who dared to come close. Not even the college girls itching to play with the dangerous man could break his concentration. Nigel had his focus trained solely on Will, watching his every move, drinking his words until he could recite his whole syllabus from memory alone.

 

At first Will remained unimpressed by his presence, but the man made no move to remove him. There have been no complaints about him, and beside the smoking, Nigel remained a benign nuisance. So he let the man stay, grateful for his ever watchful eyes, but still irritated by the patronizing nature of his existence.

 

To even out the scales, Will punished him in the only way he could, by barely acknowledging him during his lecture times.

 

It drove Nigel mad. Some days he could hold himself together until the day is over. Will would then reward him with the brightest smile and an offer to treat him to a dinner or a drink. They would often do both, stumbling back into class the next morning smelling like whiskey and day old clothes. Nigel loved days like those.

 

Other times Nigel just couldn’t make it until Will’s last class. To be so close to the man and not have his eyes him was maddening. He was like an addict; constantly itching for Will’s attention, growing virulent with every denied second.

 

One time it got so bad that he dragged Will to a dark corner, barking demands him to say his name, to put those goddamn blue eyes on him and no one else.

 

Those days made him question whether he’s staying for Will, or for himself.

 

It only happened one time, but he remembered it as vividly as he remembered Gabi’s terrible cries. Nigel never wanted to be harsh to Will. He was his friend, but he was being such a goddamn tease, that it drove him fucking mad.

 

The second he heard his own harsh voice Nigel dropped to his knees and muttered apologies to Will’s chalk covered hands. Will then chuckled and ruffled white streaks through his rich ashy hair. “Nigel. Be a good boy and go back to your seat.”

 

And he would always obey him.  

 

At night after the take out containers are all cleared off and Will finished grading his last paper, Nigel would drag him up to his bed, ignoring Will’s insistence that he preferred to sleep on his own bed.

 

Nigel knew better than to believe him, especially when he struggled and sweated through his nightmares. Only his touch could calm him down, only his hand could warm up his cold sweaty skin. Will needed him, and Nigel didn’t need him to say it out loud. He would give himself to the man every single night, for he too found peace in guarding Will’s fitful slumber.

 

So they slept together, limbs tangling innocently in Nigel’s luxuriously large bed. The pillows Nigel brought to accommodate the many ways he bends his prostitutes now held Will’s gentle curls. The satin sheets the whores brought from his favorite brothels were replaced with cozy cottons that Darko wife recommended for their wicking power. The Mad Dog of Bucharest fucking nested, all for the comfort and happiness of his guest.

 

When the nightmares came, like it always does. Nigel would roll over and smother them away, his weight a solid piece of reality that settled Will’s flailing limbs and smoothed out his worried wrinkles. Some nights Nigel would stay up, watching for more nightmares. Some night his body would move automatically even in his sleep, the easing of Will’s struggles becoming second nature even to his unconscious body.

 

In the morning Will would wake up, all sweaty, not from terror, but from the overwhelming heat of Nigel’s embrace. He would use his limited Romanian and curse Nigel awake, who would in turn mutter for his cigarettes and coffee.

 

Will would provide him with both, asking gently if he would drive him to class today. Nigel would always say yes, murmuring his smoky answer into Will’s crisp shirt, his first mark on him for the day.

 

They were beyond codependent, and they both knew that it’s only time before their easy peace was wrecked by the toxic mess that was their relationship.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“You kept calling for him.” Nigel said after an unusually quiet ride to their favorite bar.

 

Will yawned, rubbing reddened cheeks after falling asleep onto his seatbelt. “Who?”  He asked, depositing the over abundance of Chinese takeout onto the counter.

 

“Hannibal. You keep calling for that bastard. Why?”

 

The name chilled the air between them, and for the first time since meeting the man, Nigel’s eyes felt heavy and unwanted.

 

“I don’t remember doing that.” He admitted honestly after a tense pause.

 

It was true. With Nigel around there was no space for Hannibal to sneak into his mind. There’s barely any space for his own thoughts. Nigel’s presence was like a supernova, so large and bright that it leave space for even shadows to fester. Will wanted to be blinded by the man, to be burned and purified by the intensity of his adoration.

 

“I haven’t thought of Hannibal in over a week Nigel. Honestly.”

 

Will’s honest answer should’ve been enough for Nigel, but the man has never been one who were satisfied by easy explanations. He placed his endlessly ringing phone onto the marble counter top, the lifeline to his criminal empire face down and untouched. Will swallowed hard. Ever since he killed those men Nigel had solely worked through that phone. To silence and ignore it meant something serious.

 

“You’ve been calling for the guy for days now. Sometimes you say his name in your nightmare, but other times you…” Nigel trailed off. He didn’t need to finish his words. Will already knew the implication of his silence.

 

Sculpted cheekbones reddened with guilt and embarrassment. Will couldn’t meet Nigel’s eyes, too uncomfortable for something he couldn’t even remember doing. ‘What did I do?’  He wanted to ask, but he wasn’t sure that he’ll even want to hear the answer.

 

It’s strange how quickly one’s anger could melt into shame, especially at the sight of a repentant beauty. Even in his moment of disgrace Will managed to look beautiful. It’s sinful how he bit his lips uncertainly, eyes peeking under his lashes, hoping for reprieve.

 

Nigel coughed awkwardly, already cursing himself for letting his temper run his mouth. He scratched his head, looking for something to lighten the mood.

 

“You know, whenever my girls start calling other men’s name, I usually kick em out and wire them their cab fee. For you darling, I think can make an exception.” Nigel chuckled; putting on what he thought was his winning smile.

 

Will just stared back at him, his guilt turning into irritation. “I’m not one of your whores Nigel.” He said, cold and biting. “I am more than happy to find another place to sleep to rectify that misconception.”

 

The mere idea of the man moving away from him stoked something ugly from deep inside Nigel’s mind.

 

“The fuck you are.” The man snarled, slamming his hand onto the counter. “I fucken’ told you you’re not moving out. Get your prissy ass in order and get over it. It’s just a fucking joke darling.”

 

Nigel was not an eloquent man, but he never talked down to Will like this before. Pride has never been his sin of choice, but Will still had his honor as a man. What kind of person would he be if he’ll let Nigel trample over him like this?

 

He couldn’t stand for it.

 

“You’ve been more than a kind host Nigel, and I have imposed myself longer than I should.” Will said, polite and distant at the same time. “Your generosity is much appreciated, but if you see me warming your bed as payment for it then I-“

 

“Payment? Fuckin payment? Really Will.” Nigel scoffed. Will was the last person he would imagine arguing about money with. “The fuck do you think we’re doing here?”

 

“I don’t know Nigel. You tell me. I thought you’re my friend, the brother I never had. I guess I was blind. If you think I’m no better than the prostitute you pay then-“

 

“You’re fucking not! It was just a bad fucking joke la naiba-. I’m fucking sorry. Okay?”

Nigel raised his hand in defeat, rubbing his face. He wanted to rush over to Will and grabbed him by his shoulder, to hold him close and be okay with each other again, but he couldn’t do it. Will looked at him the same way Gabi did when they fought, and it hurt more than the bullet that missed his brain. “I’m sorry.” He relented .

 

Nigel dragged himself onto the stool and laid his head down against the cool marble counter, turning his attention to the rich veins of gold running through it. He counted the rapid beating of his racing heartbeat, the dozen times his phone buzzed with, the itchiness of the scar on his hairline. Anything to distract himself from Will’s hateful gaze.

 

“I’m sorry.” he said again. “It’s that fucking Hannibal amice. Even the bastard’s name is enough to drive me nuts.”

 

“I know the feeling.” Will said, closing his eyes to recount every punishment and  manipulation that the doctor had levied against him.

 

With a great big sigh he climbed the stool beside Nigel and laid his head down, mirroring the man to catch his guilty eyes. They stared at each other, two wounded animals sniffing one another to gauge see if the other were friends or foe.

 

“Why does he bother you so much Nigel?” Will asked, his face a mess of confusion. ”What did I say when I was asleep?”

 

Nigel lips thinned into an uneasy frown. “Nothing.” He sighed, eyes screwing shut as he make an effort to temper down his anger. “Nothing at all darling. I’m just the one that’s fucked up in the head.”

 

***

 

The first time he heard the bastard’s name on Will’s lips, Nigel wanted nothing more than to get out of bed and break something. Will was sleeping peacefully. How dare that trash invade his rest?

 

The anger he felt was so intense he could scream, but strangely enough, it wasn’t the same kind of anger that accompanied his usual jealous bouts. Nigel fury was one of injustice, one formed from the vague details of Will’s torment at Hannibal’s hand.

 

Lecter’s mere existence itself was an injustice that needs correcting. Nigel wanted nothing more than be the one to rectify that wrong, to kill Hannibal and present his head to his friend. Will would finally be free of him, free to be Nigel’s and no one else.

 

Just as he began to dream of the ways he might torture the man, Nigel heard Hannibal’s name again, but this time it morphed beyond a mere panicked cry. Nigel lean in, ready to soothe Will back to sleep, but froze as he watched Will’s lips curled around those three syllables in a very different way.

 

“Han...ni…bal…”

 

His voice barely rose above a whisper, but the gasp and sighs that escaped his lips spoke of eroticism that rivaled even the filthiest page of the Kama Sutra. Nigel was spellbound, like a sailor caught in a siren’s song. Before his mind could comprehend it, his body reacted, driven by instinct and lust.

 

Blood rushed down his groin and filled his pants, tenting it up like an obscene obelisk that’s too heavy to even erect. He stopped breathing, eagerly anticipating the next syllable, dying to have his cock caressed by mere vibrations alone.

 

“Hannibal.”

 

Nigel could cum just like this.

 

It was sick and wrong in the worst possible way. Will was beautiful, yes, but no matter how charmed Nigel was Will remained just that; a man. Nigel was not one of those faggots who takes it up the ass. He was a hot-blooded Romanian, a man’s man who dives into cunts and breaks them for conquest and fun.

 

Still, it didn’t change how desperately he wanted Will to moan out his own name.

 

So he remained there, frozen and burning up at the same time, enduring and enjoying the pornographic sounds in a dangerous balance.

 

In the moments of lucidity Nigel thought of willing his erection away. It didn’t work on the first night and it didn’t work on the next one either. Still Nigel remained, body curled protectively around Will, barely touching him for fear of losing control. He told himself that he would soil their relationship if he soiled his pants, that he’s staying not for the melodic hum of Will’s voice, but to watch him in case his nightmares grew dark.

 

After all, that’s what friends do for each other, right?

 

**

 

When it comes to Nigel and his bouts of emotions, Will found himself weak against the man’s gentle and sincere apologies. He replied with a modest ‘sorry’ of his own, and they turned to the food, hoping it might ease the awkwardness that stood between them like the ghost of some unnamed man.

 

Dinner was a quiet affair, with Nigel thankfully distracted by the endless messages on his phone, shoveling food into his mouth like a man who saw it as mere fuel than a pleasurable experience.

 

Will’s appetite remained elusive, and he opted to push around the food in his place. He knew that he didn’t need to explain himself, but he needed to make sense of it himself. Why would he be calling for Hannibal? Will wracked his brain for an explanation, everything he came up made him some like a pathetic victim, or worse, a jilted lover.

 

A man as possessive as Nigel would not enjoy hearing that, even if he had no interest in men.

 

“I don’t… I’m-“ Will stuttered, already hating himself for speaking up. Nigel turned to him, his phone and food abandoned, waiting for Will’s words like a hound might wait for his master’s commands. Will bit his lips and began slowly.

 

“About Hannibal and I… our relationship were never just simple. Or normal. We-”

 

A heavy sigh filled the silence. Despite his preparations, Will was left speechless again.

 

How can he decant three years of pain and spill out the passionate secrets that only the two of them shared? How does one reduce a bond so transcendent that it followed him beyond continents? How could he even attempt to describe the terrifyingly beautiful things that they shared together, or recount the future that they could’ve had?

 

He couldn’t. To even attempt to felt like betraying Hannibal all over again, and Will was just wasn’t ready for that.

 

“Do you love him Will?” Nigel asked, and Will could just imagine Hannibal’s lips twitching unhappily at the banal descriptor.

 

“It’s not like that Nigel.” he said. “We were never like that. I never- Not with men.”

 

Nigel wanted to ask more. He wanted to pry Will open and see if the man was indeed etched on the insides of his skull. He needed to devour every last memory of him, to obliterate the Hannibal’s existence and replace it with himself. He craved to be Will’s everything, his joy, his passion, his sorrow.

 

But for now, the knowledge that Will remained untouched was more than enough to satiate his curiosity.

 

“Alright Will.” He gently whispered, voice trembling with excitement

 

With the familiarity of a brother and the tenderness of a lover, Nigel pulled Will off his seat and onto his lap. “God, you drive me fucking crazy amice. Eat. Please. Your waist is fucking thinner than Darko’s girls, Christ.” He growled, sliding Will’s plate close and began dumping more noodles into it.

 

Will just quietly nodded and obeyed, happy to have a reason to shut up. Behind him Nigel nuzzled into his nape, humming an old song, as happy as a duck in water.

 

**

 

Every Saturday Will would wake up early in the morning and cook up a feast of American proportions.

 

Waffles and pancakes stacked high with generous dollops of butter. Eggs of various forms lay decadently on platters; some were plainly scrambled, others fancied up with hollandaise, cheeses, or herbs. Sausages, bacon, and chicken-fried steaks glisten enticingly; ready to be smothered by a nearby pot of gravy. It almost looked tiny nestled amongst a mountain of frozen fries and hash browns he fried in bacon fat.

 

What started off as a modest attempt to scratch his southern cravings grew into a legendary tradition in Nigel’s inner circle. ‘The Graham Brunch.’ They called it, and only the chosen are invited to sup.

 

It’s a casual affair where dilemmas were solved and important decisions were made. Darko usually leads the discussion, but everyone would always turn to Nigel, asking for his approval for everything. Their great and venerable leader would often choose to remain silent, responding only with grunts and nods and saving his words to compliment Will on his cooking.

 

The men knew better than to disrespect Will in front of Nigel, but even the most loyal amongst them still distrust the presence of this strange new man. Will didn’t mind it as much. He preferred not to socialize at all. Diving into the minds of criminals wasn’t something he actively sought out to do. He had enough psychopaths milling around in the attics of his mind.

 

On the weekend after his incident, Will woke up before dawn as usual. Nigel was missing from his bed, and there was a low hum of conversation coming from the kitchen downstairs. Sensing something different in the air, Will put on his clothes and went down the loft to investigate.

 

In Nigel’s kitchen he found the counter seats already filled with his usual Saturday crowds. Some he knew by name, others he never cared to learn.

 

In the middle of the crowd stood Vadim, the group’s Russian connection who oversaw their operation in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He was an older gentlemen of nondescript Slavic origin, a frown permanently etched onto his face. Despite his gruff exterior, the man had impeccable manners, always remembering to thank him in his heavily accented English. Will bid him good morning and walked deeper into the crowd.

 

There’s also Yerni, a slender looking youth who was recently promoted into leadership. The boy looked up to Nigel fiercely, and it was obvious how much he hated Will for monopolizing Nigel’s attention. However, today the youth met his eyes and gave him a dangerous grin, raising his hand in an overly enthusiastic thumb up. Will replied with a confused smile.

 

The rest of the men greeted him in a low murmur. Whereas they usually politely ignored his presence, today the men all stared at him with a mixture of fear, awe, and newfound respect.

 

Obviously the news of his ‘activities’ had already spread through the ranks.

 

Vadim beckoned him close; rambling fast in Romanian about reparations and respect. It didn’t take long for Will to understand what he meant. In front of the oven door laid Emil, curled up in his boxers and crusted up with blood. His hands were bound behind his back, his face was swollen beyond recognition.

 

They all looked to Will in tense expectation.

 

“… What? Do you expect me to cook him up for brunch or something?” Will muttered in disbelief. One of the men translated his jibe, prompting a series of nervous cough and uneasy laughter.

 

They clearly thought he was being serious.

 

“Nigel?” Will called, finding it harder and harder not to shout the man’s name out in irritation. “Nigel! One of your men is bleeding all over the floor!”

 

“Hm.” Came the faint response from the other room.

 

Will trudge through the crowd and found Nigel and Darko in the living room, arguing about something in hushed Romanian. Before them was a mountain of cash, some flickering through a counting machine while others were still wrapped in pristine blue plastic. Darko looked like he hasn’t slept in days.

 

Bună dimineața domnul Graham.” Darko greeted him stiffly, completely aware of Nigel’s watchful eyes.

 

“Morning Darko. Coffee?” The club owner nodded eagerly, mumbling something about sugars and cream. “How about you Nigel?”

 

“Hm.” The man grunted, his unsmiling eyes still trained on Darko’s nervous face, his fingers holding a dead cigarette filter.

 

“Hot and black, yes?”

 

“Hm.”

 

Will frowned.

 

“If you’re going to talk to me in monosyllable then I’m going to throw away your expensive Turkish coffee and punch you out in front of your men.”

 

The chatter in the kitchen died into a thick silence. They may not know exactly what Will said, but they understood his tone well enough. Eager eyes began to peek out from behind the kitchen walls, curious to see how the Mad Dog of Bucharest might respond.

 

Nigel snapped up to meet his eyes, blinking slowly as if he had just woken up himself. “Sorry darling. I was counting in my head. Didn’t mean to be rude.” He said sweetly, rising to hug him. Darko pulled him back to the sofa, cursing the man for being a prost îndrăgostit, muttering at him to save it when they were alone.

 

Will left the two bickering partner and got started on the coffee. He brought a stockpot of water to a boil, dumping a kilo of Nigel’s expensive roast right into the water and turning the heat off. Yerni came over and dragged Emil to the side, muttering apologies for being in Will’s way.

 

Will just smiled in reply, hiding the unease of being watched beneath an indifferent exterior.

 

Soon after the coffee was done, Will ladled the rich brew into paper cups and brought it out to Nigel and Darko, leaving the crowd to serve themselves in the kitchen. Darko thanked him and sipped it slowly, clearly needing it to stay awake. Nigel chose to glower at the man over his own steaming cup, dark eyes clearly expecting something.

 

Darko sighed and cleared his throat, setting his cup down and turning to face Will. “I apologize for last week domnul Graham.” He started with the obviously rehearsed apology. “I was negligent over my men and let them take advantage of your kindness. You’re Nigel’s guest, and we put you in danger. It’s not how our group work, and we apologize.”

 

“It’s fine Darko. Honestly.” Will tried to laugh the elaborate speech off, but he quickly quieted down when he saw how nervous Darko was and how serious Nigel was acting.

 

“I’ve brought the profit from the shipment you delivered. It is yours, to pay for your troubles.” Darko continued. Will turned to see the mountains of plastic wrapped cash pilled in front of the sofa. “Freshly laundered.” Darko added, laughing weakly as he rubbed the edges of his eyes.

 

“How kind of you.” Will said stiffly, carefully weighing his words so not to set off the still glowering Nigel.  “But I didn’t do it for the money Darko. I did it because I thought it would help you and Nigel out.”

 

“Ah, it did. It was a very profitable shipment. If not the money then maybe you would like Emil? My men would be happy to kill him for disrespecting you… unless you want to do it yourself.”

 

“No. Not really.” Will replied curtly, trying hard not to remember the flayed man.

 

The three sat in silence, Darko darting his eyes awkwardly between Nigel and Will. It was a strangely tense situation, one that Will was sure Nigel had something to do with. He’s never this quiet when it’s just him and Darko together.

 

Slowly but surely his empathy rapped up and Will began to see right through Nigel’s intention. This was not just about making amends. This was Nigel keeping his men in line. Poor Darko just had to be the one on the chopping block

 

After a week of absence, some upstart might think he grew soft. By forcing these men here Nigel is making sure they know who they answer to. By taking an obscene amount of money and simply giving it away, Nigel is looking for anyone who dared to challenge his authority. By spreading the news of Will’s violence, Nigel shutting down on the rumor mill that might undermine his power.

 

It was rather ingenious, but Will was in no mood to play along. It was too damn early for a power play, and there were too many damn people in his kitchen.

 

“I’m being rude Darko.” He exclaimed louder than he needed to, catching the attention of the crowds in the kitchen. “I realized I never thanked your for sending your men to clean up my mess. I would’ve been caught dead without your help. And please do send my apologies to the men involved. I know the bodies weren’t… pretty.”

 

Darko blinked, surprised at Will’s drastic change in behavior. “That was no problem at all Domnul Graham.” He replied calculatively.

 

“Good. Good. Problems solved then. Yes?” Will stood up, offering his hand to Darko to shake. The tired man shook it happily, eager to end the confusing little farce.

 

“All solved, thank you Will.” Darko smiled dropping the tittle now that they’re back on even grounds.

 

“Would you like to stay for brunch today Darko?”

 

‘Please say no.’

 

“Thank you, but I will have to decline. We only came to pay our respects,” He said, holding onto his elbow gratefully. “And to make amends.” He nodded to Emil, who were whimpering under Yerni’s feet.

 

“I appreciate the gesture Darko. Everything is forgiven. Please thank everyone for coming.” He smiled. The crowd in the kitchen chattered happily. Even Vadim looked a little less sullen. “It’s very nice of them to come so early on the weekend. And you Darko, you must’ve been exhausted.”

 

“Yes.” The man laughed. “Nigel was very… persuasive about this meeting.”

 

“Sounds he was just being an asshole.”

 

“Careful darling.” Nigel called, but Will was too busy seeing everyone out of their loft to care.

 

***

When the last of Nigel’s men finally left their apartment, Will slumped against the heavy metal door and sighed in relief. His face was beginning to hurt from fake smiling too much, and his head is pounding from switching from English to Romanian and possibly Russian. He couldn’t tell anymore. The last few minutes were a whirlwind of clamoring crowds, all eager to shake his hand and tell him about what they think of his flayed man.

 

After the first conversation Will decided that he still hated people afterall.

 

“You looked like you were having fun.” Nigel stepped in front of him and offered his hand. Will shoved him weakly instead.

 

“How about you let me know when you want to use me to make a power move, okay?”

 

“You noticed?” Nigel grinned. “Of course you fucking noticed. Only you would be smart enough to make sense of it. Not even Darko got it.” He exclaimed in delight, pulling Will in for a hug.

 

“Please. It’s too fucking early for that Nigel.” Will groaned, squinting at clock. It reads five thirty am. “Fuck. It’s too fucking early for anything.” He rubbed his head, trying to scatter away the details of Nigel’s men that he involuntarily picked up with his empathy.

 

“Hey.” Nigel put a tentative hand onto his back, rubbing it in a soothing motion. “You don’t look so good darling.”

 

Will shook his head. “Just my head.”

 

“Shit. Did I fuck up blue eyes?” Nigel’s hand moved upwards, gently massaging the back of his neck. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah… just tired. People are exhausting. “ Will sighed leaned back against Nigel’s solid body. The man dutifully caught him.

 

“Yeah they are.” Nigel nuzzled into his hair. “Sleep darling. I’ll carry you up to bed, okay?”

 

Will nodded, turning around so he could wrap his arm around Nigel’s neck.

 

Chapter Text

 

There’s an allure about Will that only exist while he’s deep in slumber. It’s not innocence or vulnerability, or any of those gentle things people often use describe their sleeping beloved. Will was temptation made flesh, a Botticelli beauty came to life. His sole purpose? To lure Nigel away from his responsibilities and keep him captive until he wakes.

 

Even now as he drives them through the city, Nigel couldn’t help but steal glances at the sleeping man. He forgoes his usually breakneck speed, opting to join the overly cautious mothers driving minivans in the slow lane. He even left his phone behind, knowing full well that its buzz could stir Will up from his restful nap.

 

In a twisted sort of way, Nigel was glad that Will killed those men. His breakdown gave him the excuse he needed to take time off from his tiresome schedule. The man wouldn’t admit it even at gunpoint, but Nigel has grown weary in his position as a drug lord. He just never found a good enough reason to stop.

 

As the group’s leader, Nigel expected to only work on big picture issues; who to wage war against, which areas they should start moving in, people to kill and maim. Darko had sold the lifestyle to him that way, telling him to leave the group’s day-to-day operations to him. Without an immediate source of income, the offer was a godsend. After all, Nigel didn’t want Will to see him as some jobless bum.

 

Unfortunately his expertise in violence was rarely needed. The massacre in Florence gave the group unparalleled infamy. Instead of challenging rivals, most of the ‘fearsome’ groups he was met turned out to be a group of groveling men, eager to wine and dine their way into his good side. After all, they would rather kiss Nigel’s ass than risk being obliterated like the syndicate in Florence.

 

At first Nigel enjoyed watching these men trip over themselves as they vied for his attention. He came to their meetings and listened to their request, drinking expensive liquor on their dime and enjoying the company of their women.

 

The appeal only lasted for the first few days, and within a week Nigel was itching for a gang war, just to break the monotony of nervous group leaders desperately begging for a good price on their purchase. Darko, always the smart one, told him that such violence would affect Will too, so Nigel had no choice but to keep the peace, even if he wanted to break their face with his fist, badly.

 

When he’s not dealing with sycophants and worn out whores, Nigel was stuck in the warehouse doing grunt work for fun. The assassin body he religiously maintained was now utilized as a human forklift, moving packages from one end of the warehouse to the other.

 

His overworked crew would stare at him with reverent gazes, touched that their leader was willing to do the hard work with them. The truth was Nigel only did it as an exercise. He could care less about his men’s morale or his standing with them. After an afternoon of power lunches filled with weak men, it felt good to just use his strength and zone out like that.

 

Some people would kill for a life like his, and many has but failed to achieve it. Nigel had power, respect, and money beyond imagination. People look up to him, especially the invisible street rats and orphans who Nigel identify closely with.

 

Still, Nigel found himself unsatisfied. He was promised a dangerous life, one that aligned with his calling in violence. Instead, his job consisted of enduring unbearable lunch meetings and spending his evening like a dock worker.

 

Pain, blood, and suffering has always been a part of his life, and now that he’s gone months without them, Nigel felt lost.

 

Only Will and his gentle companionship could fill that gaping hole in his life.

 

When Nigel arrives home mentally drained and physically spent, the very sight of the man was enough to make him feel whole again. Will would give him hugs that felt like home, smiles that soothed his ragged nerves, and looks that said “I miss you, I’m so glad you are here now.”

 

Nigel never felt as real and substantial as he was when he’s with Will Graham. To someone who navigates through a life of smoke, mirrors, and lies, to be authentically seen and desired was everything. Nigel didn’t need the admiration of the world, he just wanted the attention of one person he respects, and Will inspired not just mere esteem. The man makes Nigel want to fall on his knees and worship him.

 

If Will wanted to see him on his knees, submissively supplicant and adoring, Nigel would instantly fall onto the ground and do just that. If the beast inside of him wanted to hurt someone, Nigel would shed his clothes and offer up his body for abuse. If Will wanted to spend his money, draining him out of house and home, Nigel would happily hand over his wallet, quietly hoping his offering would please the man.

 

Will could ask him the world of him, and Nigel would happily dedicate his days to that impossible request. He knows that Will could read him like an open book, and yet the man never once took advantage of his obsession. Day after day, Nigel expected him to demand more, parts of him craved it even, but Will remained the same. Undemanding and kind, the man who freely gave him the smile and attention that he craved, happy by his mere presence alone.

 

So Nigel quietly worshiped him in other ways, like driving on the slow lane and leaving his phone behind. It’s mere simple humbling acts, but Nigel knows that when Will wakes up, he would appreciate them all the more.

 

***

 

“Will.” Nigel whispered after turning off his purring car. “Come on Darling. Wake up. I have something to show you.” He said, unable to hide the tinge of excitement in his voice.

 

Will slowly blinked himself awake, eyes wide and instantly guarded. He had passed out soon after the crowd left, but this was not the bed he expected Nigel to deposit him in.

 

“Christ, is the sun setting already? Why are we in a car? Are you going to use me for another of your mind games Nigel?” Will yawned, irritated even before he could put on his glasses on. “Two in a day is pushing it.” He growled.

 

Nigel just chuckled and rubbed the lines of sleep away from Will’s cheeks, his calloused hands making the man fuss and lean closer at the same time.

 

“No more silly games amice.” Nigel murmured, passing over Will’s neatly folded glasses. “This is a treat.” He said, rolling down his tinted windows and letting the cool evening air of the suburbs in, with a collection of barks and yowls.

 

“Is that…?” Will stilled, turning his head to the source of the noise. He quickly scrambled out of the car, pushing himself flat against a metal railing. “Nigel.” The man gushed, a brilliant smile erupting from his previously frowning face.

 

Nigel laughed, joining Will and burying his hand into his lustrous locks.

 

“I thought you might enjoy seeing some dogs.” He said, giving him a rather smug smile.

 

Will couldn’t even muster up the energy to be upset at him. He was too busy looking at the dogs, all running around and playing happily with each other. Whenever a silly looking mutt would pass them, Will would point it out with the excitement of a child, giggling and naming them with ridiculously flamboyant names. Nigel joined in, but his eyes are fixed onto the man and his resplendent smile.

 

Will was happy, and Nigel’s heart felt like it might burst into wonderful confetti.

 

People stared at the pair, unsure of what to make of the two. The smaller man looked like an overworked professor, all scruffy and tired looking, but he wore a childlike expression that lit up every time a dog came near to sniff him.

 

The other man, however, looked exactly like what he is, a criminal. He is tall and solid, an intimidating figure if his face wasn’t wearing a loopy grin as he pet the beautiful man beside him. They made a fetching couple, and the way the scary man would pet the other made even the most apprehensive bystander let out an involuntary “Cât de adorabil!”

 

The two was oblivious of their watchers, each of them too involved with the object of their adoration.

 

“I didn’t know that Bucharest have dog parks.” Will said before quickly distracted by a jumping border collie.

 

“It doesn’t.” Nigel said, leaving Will’s mussed up head alone. “We’re about an hour out of the city, just by Buftea Lake.”

 

Will laughed, voice still scratchy from sleep, but his eyes were alight with life. “You drove for an hour just to take me here?“ he shook his head in disbelief.

 

“Two, actually. I took the slow lane.”

 

That answer made Will explode in an uproarious laughter. “I approve of that very much.” He smiled. “And I appreciate this more than I could tell, Nigel. Thank you. I miss having dogs. Seeing some like this really does helps.”

 

Nigel nodded, letting Will’s acknowledgement warm him like a hot beverage in winter. The two stood in companionable silence, inching closer to each other like little planetary objects drawn to each other’s orbits. They didn’t stop when their elbow touched, or when Will’s hair obstructed Nigel’s field of view. Unlike the first night, they didn’t need the alcohol to hide their need for closeness. Both men knew that it feels right being in each other’s arms, and they stood together until Will’s head was also shrouded in the smoke of Nigel’s cigarettes. 

 

“How is work Nigel? You haven’t been going for a while.” Will leaned back against the man’s solid chest. “I do hope it’s not because you had to take care of me.”

 

Nigel shrugged, unashamed by his blatant display of affection. “I don’t care. You look shaken up back then, I just had to stay and make sure you’re okay. If they need me. they can call me by my phone.”

 

“…Which you left at home today, didn’t you?”

 

Nigel’s laugh rumbled through Will’s chest and made him smile. “How did you know amice?”

 

“Well your pants aren’t buzzing like an angry hornet nest. I figured you either chucked it out of the window or left it at home. I’m glad you didn’t throw it out of the window. Littering is bad.”

 

Nigel laughed even harder at the jibe. “That brain of yours, darling...” He said with a sense of pride. “This is not a job offer, but you would probably do well in my line of work.”

 

Will hummed, seriously considering his words. “I don’t think I would. Just interacting with that many people this morning is enough to drain me.” He decided, slightly embarrassed that he slept the day away because he met too many people. “You on the other hand, you were totally in your element today.” Will teased the man behind him before settling into a more serious voice. “It’s very impressive how you kept them all in line. It must be very hard to do.”

 

Nigel cringed, the topic of work suddenly bringing up unpleasant memories of boring lunches and overeager cunts.

 

“Its not easy, that’s for sure, but every business needs a figure head.  With the amount of product we move and the dangerous men in our group, it might as well as be me. Mad Dog of Bucharest. Who’s gonna fuck with someone like that?” He chuckled. “Anyways, Darko doesn’t need that kind of scrutiny on his ass. He got a family, and I’m happy to throw down with any upstart fucker in his place.”

 

“Is that why you took the job? So you can take Darko out of the line of fire?”

 

Nigel shrugged. “He took care of me once.” He said, remembering Dr. Petrov and the faceless police trainee Darko executed for him. “It’s only fair.”

 

Will smiled, feeling immensely proud of the gruff man. He turned around in Nigel’s strong arm, leaning back against the railing so he can card his hand through his hair, petting the man like he just did. “You’re a good person Nigel.” He said, completely serious and sincere.

 

“Yeah, without the drugs and murder, you mean.” Nigel growled, a wistful frown darkening his face. He was suddenly reminded of how Gabi tried to use that same line to make him quit his job. He made her cry that day, and after he came home, Gabi accused him of choosing the job over her. Nigel wrecked the whole house and broke her cello, shouting at her to watch him take away everything she ever loved.

 

That was not a happy day to remember.

 

Sensing the man’s sorrow, Will reach up with his other hand, turning Nigel’s head so he might focus those sad amber eyes onto him. “No, Nigel. Even with the murder and drugs, you’re still better than most people I’ve met.”

 

Nigel took in a sharp breath, exhaling it in a shudder, scared that he might wake up from this wonderful dream that he is having. “Will... Darling…” He protested, feeling unworthy of Will’s gentle gaze.

 

“There are people in this world who live under the law and they couldn’t match up to your virtues. Your kindness, your generosity… your absolutely reckless bravery. There is no doubt in my mind that you are good, Nigel. You’re the best person I know.”

 

Will’s words made Nigel lose his breath. Everything else in the world felt like it was moving on slow motion. Will’s genuine smile was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and in those brilliant blue eyes he found love and hope, the very same look that Will gave him on that night in the Uffizi.

 

“You’re so fucken’ special, blue eyes.” Nigel chuckled, shaking his head in disbelief. Will brushed him off with a laugh, forgoing to acknowledge Nigel’s praise in favor of petting an old ugly mutt. That only made Nigel laugh even harder.

 

Only Will could see the beauty in such an ugly dog, and kindness in such a terrible man.

 

Nigel couldn’t help but compare himself to the mutt. Unwanted and shunned by society, unapproachable even amongst their own ilk, and abandoned by the person who claimed to love them. Losing Gabi felt like losing a part of his soul. It made him acutely aware of how unworthy he was. At least the dog had the courage to carry on. Nigel was ready to blow his brains out. He could not imagine living without love.

 

In came Will and his gorgeous baby blues. Nigel knew back then that such loving gaze was not meant for him, but the very sight of those beauties was enough to give him hope. Maybe if he kept on living then the man would someday look at him in that very same way. Maybe if he play his cards right he could wake up with that  look directed on him and only him.

 

Today made Nigel glad that he chose to live.

 

“Darling.” Nigel sighed, eyes stinging with tears of realization. “I might be losing my mind, but I think I’m in lo…- Will?” Nigel confession stuttered to a stop, watching in quiet shock as Will jumped the fence and began approaching a shouting figure in the distance.

 

“Darling?” Nigel called, but Will had his eyes focused on the distance and his shoulder squared into a determined line. Will was walking away to the corner of the park. Nigel chased after him, startling a few of the milling dog owners.

 

“Will!” He shouted. Usually his voice was enough to knock the man out of his reverie, but this time Will turned to him with the eyes of a feral dog.

 

“He’s hurting the dog.” Will snarled, eyes locked onto a man who was indeed pulling on a dog’s leash a little too hard. “He’s hurting the fucking dog!” He bellowed. Nigel flinched away, unused to Will’s anger.

 

Will slipped out of his grasped and ran full speed at the oblivious man. Nigel watched, in shock as Will tackled the man onto the ground and began pummeling throat. The man chocked and struggled, but Will was strong in his anger.

 

At first Nigel thought Will was going to kill the man, and he watched with baited breath for the moment to come. Just as the man was on the brink of unconsciousness, Will stopped and crawled over to the dog frozen to the side, urging him to come closer to his arms.

 

The dog complied, inching closer to lick his owner’s blood from Will’s knuckles. The man gathered the dog into his arms and threw away the overly tight collar that was pulled taut around his neck.

 

“He was choking him, so I made him see just how uncomfortable it is to not be able to breathe.” Will said with a calm and ever tone, focusing more on soothing the panting dog in his arms.

 

Before Nigel could reply, a shrill siren began to blare in the distance.

 

“Fuck!” He pulled Will onto his feet and threw him over the shoulders. Will yelped and held the dirty dog over his head, the long tail flying slapping Nigel with every step.

 

Nigel swatted it away and began running towards his car, barreling through the forming crowd and jumping over the railing like they were mere bumps in the road. Will was giggling, one hand wrapped around the dog and the other around Nigel’s head.

 

“Faster! Faster!” He cheered, and Nigel complied, throwing him into the car and speeding off the premises before the police could spot them. They kept the breakneck speed until they were on the highway, speeding up even more now that there’s an empty stretch of road in front of them.

 

It was then that Nigel realized that Will was laughing in his seat, the dog in his arms barking and wagging his tail excitedly.

 

“Jesus Christ blue eyes.” Nigel looked at him, frowning at the dirty little mutt and Will’s bloody knuckles. “You really like dogs, huh?”

 

Will petted the gray little spitz, smearing blood all over his coat. “I love them.” He said dreamily. Nigel nodded, wondering if he had enough love to spare for him too.

 

 

Chapter 13 : Eager Animals Pt.2

 

 

 

Summary: After witnessing Will’s outburst, Nigel decided to help him release his energy in a healthier manner.

 

****

Mulțumesc: Thanks

Ești atât de bun pentru mine: Sweet man. You’re so good to me.

 

****

 

After a thorough bath that left Nigel soaked and Will relatively dry, the men all crowded in the living room, fussing over the wet dog as they dried him in front of a rickety old fan. The gray-brown dirt melted away with the shampoo’s help, revealing an expanse of pure white fuzzy fur. The very sight of it made Will wish he had killed the man. It takes more than a messy afternoon to turn a white dog brown. This dog has been neglected for weeks, and still he stayed by that useless human being’s side.

 

The dog itself was a beautiful and energetic creature, expressively trusting and happy despite his abuse. Will couldn’t fathom how anyone could hurt such a precious animal, and it took every last bit of his self-restraint to stay put and not rush back to the dog park.

 

“I’ll kill him if you want me to darling.” Nigel murmured when he noticed Will’s tightly set jaw, staring at him with the same devoted eyes as the dog.

 

Hearing the man offer up his services like that knocked Will out of his dark musings. He stood up and walked into Nigel’s arms, relishing the coolness of his bare chest. There’s something about Nigel that just made him forget himself in the best way. Even the cold tinge of his skin soothed Will’s simmering rage. It’s magical, really.

 

“You always take care of people, don’t you Nigel?” Will murmured, eyes blank as his empathy took over. The man stiffened under his gaze, disconcerted over the chilling gaze directed at him.

 

Will has been slipping in and out of reality ever since the assault, his empathy going on overdrive. Instead of fear, the man seemed content to stew in the afterglow of his violence. It was beautiful, really, but at the same time Nigel was worried that the man might be lost to him.

 

Sensing his anxiousness, Will gave Nigel a tender smile and caressed his cheek. “Sweet man,” He murmured. “- we appreciate all that you’ve done, but Kefir and I would much prefer your company here.” Nigel sighed into the touch before the second part of the sentence began to register into his brain.

 

“Ke…fir?” Nigel raised his eyebrow, turning towards the happily panting dog, who is snapping at the air coming from the fan. Will nodded dreamily. “You named him already? Fucking hell amice. Now we’ll never get rid of him!

 

The outburst made Will frown and gave Nigel a look that made him feel like he’s been scolded.“…but I named him after your favorite drink.” Will mumbled, peeking up from his heavy lashes, blatantly manipulating the man and putting zero effort at hiding it.

 

“Oh hell.” Nigel sagged back onto the counter, the very picture of helpless exasperation. “That’s just not fair darling.” He grumbled, suddenly feeling self conscious under Will’s intense gaze.

 

The man just laughed and leaned in closer, his mind pleasantly blank from both Nigel’s presence and the rush of adrenaline. “I’m sorry Nigel. I cant help it. I just really want to keep him.” he said, taking pity on the man and stopping his little smolders.

 

“Really darling? I give you multiple credit cards and all you want is some stolen dog?”

 

Will mumbled some ambiguous excuse and muffled it into the man’s collarbones. Nigel just sighed, completely aware of Will victorious smile pressing against his skin. He’s not used to seeing Will like this, shamelessly brazen and teasing. It confused Nigel, and it made his pants incredibly uncomfortable.

 

When he’s in this post violence fugue, Will always found himself numb to his usually overwhelming emotions. He knew he should feel bad for driving Nigel crazy like this, but he was just too lost in his own head to be tormented by such petty things as guilt or shame. All he could focus on was the sticky feel of Nigel’s collarbone under his lips, and how badly he wanted to bite down and mark him as his.

 

“Fuck!” Nigel exclaimed after a few minutes, slumping back against the counter in defeat. “Fine. Fine. Keep the damn dog. But I’m not picking up his shit or mopping up his piss, got it?”

 

Grinning like a kid on Christmas day, Will rushed forward and nuzzled into the crook of Nigel’s neck again, pressing his body flush against the man, relishing the way Nigel’s jeans rubbed against his own trousers. “Mmm… Mulțumesc sweet man. Ești atât de bun pentru mine.”

 

Nigel was suddenly frozen in place. Physical affection was something he shared freely with Will, but this… this is something else.

 

There is something intentional in the way Will roll his hips up to him, more titillating than playful. The way Will sighed his gratitude stuck onto his skin like oozing molasses, bogging down his thoughts. Nigel wanted to meet those rolling hips, to taste the sighs and see if sweetness does pour out with his breath.

 

Nigel wanted to bend him down over the counter and breed him.

 

Suddenly Nigel became acutely aware of the hard masculine line of Will’s body, of his growing stubbles and low hum that had too much bass in it to be a purr. Acting on instinct alone, Nigel shoved him away. Will looked impassive.

 

“Careful Will.” Nigel snarled. “Touch me like that again and I’ll have to hurt you.”

 

Surprised at the sudden change in demeanor, Will stepped back and frowned. His eyes still clouded and unfocussed, and he felt every ounce of shame and indignation pouring out of Nigel’s pores.

 

He soaked them all in, Nigel’s emotions becoming his, the vague threat of violence becoming real under his claws. Will wanted to hurt him. ‘How fucking dare you push me away. After these months of touching and endless fucked up-‘

 

Before he could open his mouth and snarled every thought he had at Nigel, Kefir yipped and barked at them, already jealous that that his new master was not paying attention to him. In an instant, all of the tension that built up in his body dispersed into nothing. Will was all too happy to descend with his pets and cuddles, leaving Nigel alone to stew in his aggression.

 

“Fuck.” Nigel cursed under his breath, confused and angry at the same time. He adjusted the bulge in his pants and turned away, cursing so much it sounded like poetry to Will. Will ignored him, too busy with Kefir to bother with the mad dog seething behind him. Somehow that made Nigel even angrier

 

“I’m going out for a smoke.” Nigel growled, pushing past the two with more force than needed. Will ignored him, forcing himself to absorb all the soothing happy emotions that the dog was emenating freely.

 

For all his empathy and foresight, Will was out of his depth. He was so used to be able to read the Nigel that now he’s out of the loop, he suddenly felt lost. Will hated guessing on people’s motivations, it reminded him too much of work and it reminded him too closely with Hannibal.

 

He doesn’t want to associate Nigel with Hannibal. Their relationship does not mirror his and Hannibal’s at all. It was pure and honest, and despite its darker undertones, it felt real. Will doesn’t want their relationship to devolve into a series of manipulation and twisted games. Nigel was his truest friend, and to have the doting man shut him out hurt Will more than he expected.

 

‘But all I did was give him what he wanted.’ Will frowned, petting Kefir’s soft. He knows that Nigel has been attracted to him, and his desire only grew with each passing day. Will was never one to conform to society’s standard. He had no problem indulging Nigel in his desires.

 

Apparently, Nigel isn’t as ready as he expected him to be.

 

If he was completely lucid and in control, Will would’ve never rubbed up to Nigel like that. He would’ve known better and played it safe, choosing friendship over lust, but right now he was floating on the thrill of adrenaline and euphoria. Like a good friend, all that Will wanted to do was share that with Nigel.

 

It’s a shame that the man was too stubborn to understand his intentions.

 

Sensing Will’s distress, the little spitz whined and tilted his head, eager to placate his new kind master. Charmed by the little gesture, Will tilted his own head, his empathy reflecting back the canine’s desire to please.

 

“It’s okay boy, we’ll get him back.” He said, staring at the closed balcony doors.

 

***

 

 

A familiar old scent from a different life wafted through the fashionable loft, luring both men and dog to sit at attention as Will bustled through the kitchen. It was warm and familiar, even for the two strays of Bucharest, but only one came to Will’s side. The other stubbornly stayed outside, still seething over his own desires.

 

It’s been a few hours since Nigel went to the balcony, and the sound of chopping knives and his growling stomach made his stay a tad bit unbearable. Aside from their massive brunches, Will rarely cooks dinner. ‘Was he cooking to apologize?’ His heart softening at the thought. It took him a mere second for Nigel to regret his appalling behavior.

 

Will was an empath, mirror that matched whoever he was with. Nigel knew this. He’s seen enough of the man unconsciously mirroring other’s behavior when he’s with them. Will was probably only reflecting whatever fucked up fantasies Nigel had in his head, picking on his signal and hidden desires. It didn’t mean that Will wanted to-

 

Nigel breathed out, feeling himself harden as lewd images flashes through his head. Suddenly he felt his outburst was justified.

 

‘I’m not going in to fucking apologize. No way. I’m only going in cuz I finished my cigarettes.’ The man paced as he lied to himself, pushing the French doors open and stepping into his warm home.

 

His guest moves through the kitchen with elegance and grace, his movements fast and precise amongst the boiling pot and sizzling pans. He hummed a cheerful little tune, absentmindedly stirring the pot while telling Kefir of the delicious thinsg he’s cooking up for him. His eyes were no longer clouded over, instead, they shone brilliantly blue, and Nigel breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that the confusing fugue that took over Will had passed.

 

“Are you back now?” He called, taking a seat at the counted.

 

Will turned around, tilting his head in confusion. “I never left.” He said quietly. The words made Nigel uneasy, but Will already turned around before he could say another word.

 

The answer could imply a multitude of possibilities, all too complicated and absurd for Nigel to follow. His head pounded from smoking too many cigarettes too fast, and the melodic hum of Will’s voice lulled him into a comfortable blankness. ‘Fucking hell.’ Nigel laughed at himself. ‘I’m getting soft.’

 

Kefir sniffed the air and inched closer to the cooking man, laying his head onto the ground, a picture of obedience except for his pleading eyes and drooling mouth. Will chuckled and ‘dropped’ a spoonful of food, which Kefir enthusiastically lap up and barked for more. Will smiled and continued cooking, ignoring the two sets of eyes that’s been staring intensely at him.

 

He’s used to corralling seven pairs of strays. One mad dog was no problem for him.

 

“I used to feed my pack my own homemade dog food. I wouldn’t let them touch that crap in the supermarket. It’s all filled with chemicals and roadkill.” Will explained, spooning three identical plates of food and placing them in fronts of his hungry audience. The smell was definitely inviting, but Nigel couldn’t help but raised an apprehensive at the sound of ‘dog food’ and Kefir’s enthusiastic chomping.

 

“Go ahead.” Will said as he made his own plate. “Don’t worry. The human portions are seasoned.” He assured him, taking as seat on the far end of the counter, as if he’s trying his best not to spook Nigel away into his balcony.

 

It wasn’t haute cuisine in any sense of the word, but the first spoonful of chopped vegetables, meats, and grains filled Nigel with a certain warmth that associated him with home. It didn’t made sense. As a child he mostly survived on the slop at the orphanage, and as an adult, he gained his sustenance from the many cafes and restaurants around his loft. Still, Nigel was transported to a wintery scenes landscape, where there was only one house, glowing with warmth, and in it, there was Will, waiting for him with his pack of dogs.

 

It made Nigel want to kidnap the man away and make a home together somewhere snowy and bleak, just so he could recreate the scene he savored in his tongue.

 

“Well?” Will asked, smiling into his own plate.

 

Nigel didn’t answer until his plate was clean. “Lucky hounds.” He burped, nudging his plate up for more. Will laughed and placed another heaping another mound into Nigel’s plate, shushing Kefir who’s already begging for more.

 

They ate in a mixture of tense silence and rugged familiarity. Will didn’t make any effort to converse, content to bask in the afterglow of his high. Nigel, however, was suffering alone, struggling to find a balance between ‘Don’t fucking touch me again, faggot.’ And ‘God, I want to worship your body.’

 

“I feel like we’re crossing boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.” Nigel said quietly. Will hummed, already understanding what Nigel is vaguely implying.

 

“I value your friendship Nigel. More than anything.” He said, albeit a tad sadly. It felt less like drawing line and more like building walls, one that either of them was afraid to cross now that it’s drawn. Nigel swallowed and nodded, trying to ignore the obvious longing and sorrow dripping from Will’s soft voice.

 

“Yeah. Me too amice. We’re just so fucking muddled up from all the blood and work. Shit’s not good darling. Men shouldn’t be this pent up.” Nigel sighed. “Are you sure you won’t let me buy you a whore or two?”

 

Will shook his head. “It’s not really my style to pay for sex.”

 

“We both know that I’m going to be the one who pays.”

 

Will gave him a look that instantly melted away Nigel’s little snicker. “I guess so. But I need something more than a willing body and a pretty face. I need…”

 

Will closed his eyes, thinking of the times Hannibal touched his body, innocuous pure touches that was as removed from sex as possible. They lit him up in ways that’s indescribable for mere words to explain, like a cold bolt of lightning to Nigel’s warm smoldering fire. He sighed.

 

“I need passion. Familiarity. The mutual worship of each other’s body, soul and mind.” Will let out a shuddering breath, grief striking deep into his chest as he recounted the unfulfilled promises of a future with Hannibal. “I need love.” Will whispered, opening his eyes to reveal shimmering orbs that threaten to melt into droplet.

 

Nigel was left breathless. He has lived amongst suffering his whole life, made his career out of creating sorrowxs and fear. They have always seemed commonplace and pedestrian, almost as natural as breathing and death as shocking as a knock on the door. This, however, was something else.

 

How can someone’s pain be this beautiful? How can he cherish someone so much yet relish at the glimpse of his broken soul? It made Nigel felt dirty like nothing else ever could, and yet he still hungered to see more of Will’s pain, more of his broken soul that’s been fragmented into infinite facets.

 

Slowly, Nigel made his way to his slowly weeping man, cupping his cheeks like one might cradle an injured bird. When tears touched his thumb all desire to see Will in pain evaporated, and he fell onto his knees just so he could meet Will’s down casted gaze.

 

“Alright darling. No prostitutes.” He promised.

 

***

 

That night Will returned back to his own room, and he slept after another wave of tear wrecked his body. He thought his memories of Hannibal have long been locked away, but the very sight Nigel reminded him with an onslaught of virulent memories in Baltimore and Frienze.

 

Will knows that Nigel is not Hannibal, that the older man was on the end of the spectrum while Nigel is on the other, but when it comes to love, the two are inseparable from the word

 

They’re the closest thing he ever had to an ideal family, with Hannibal with his manipulations and Nigel with his persistent obsessions. No matter how wonderful they both were, neither satisfied the burning need that drove him to collect strays and married Molly. They always, Hannibal with his need for control and Nigel and his desire for heteronormalcy.

 

It’s disappointing, and it made Will wondered if love is even possible for someone such as him.  

 

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts before it spiral into an abyss of self pity and anguish. “Come out darling! I walked the dog and bought breakfast!” Nigel called out, and true to his words, Will could hear Kefir slump onto the floor in front of his room, panting audibly from his walk.

 

Will tentatively walked out, still in pajamas, and greeted Kefir with a fond little scratch. The dog enjoyed his touch and return them with a nuzzle of his own. His soft fur tickling his nose and making him laugh. Will really missed having dogs.

 

In the kitchen Nigel was busy opening paper bags of pastries, munching on pillowy cheese pastries while drinking a fresh bottle of kefir straight out of the bottle. “Finally!” Nigel exclaimed, abandoning his breakfast to rush over to Will. He pushed Kefir away with his leg, much to dog’s annoyance, and brought Will into a friendly albeit brief hug.

 

“Listen amice, I know you had a rough night, but you gotta come to the gym with me.” Nigel said, pulling Will to the kitchen counter and showering him with crumbs from various proffered pastries. Will raised a dubious brow, obediently munching on kürtöskalács as he stared Nigel down with a look that says go fuck yourself.

 

“Come on Amice. A few rotations on the sandbag, a round or two on the ring, maybe knock some asshole out? You’ll be right as rain!”

 

Will scoffed, already apprehensive of the suggestion. “Nigel, I almost killed a guy. I don’t think punching people is a good idea for me.”

 

“Bullshit.” Nigel retorted, bending down to throw a pair newly purchased glove at Will. “Those sorts of mess happened because you’re all pent up inside. Since you wont let me buy you a whore or two, the least that you can do is come to the gym and let off some steam.”

 

“Right.” Will still looked uncertain, eyes bulging when he saw the price tag on the corner. “Nigel, I can’t accept this. I-“

 

“You’re not going to make me beg now, are you darling?” Nigel raised an eyebrow. Will was at a loss of word. How can Nigel managed to look both cocky and pitiful at the same time?

 

“Of course not.” He sighed, putting the expensive apparel aside to passive aggressively poke at his breakfast. Will never formally visited the place, but on one of the few times he picked up Nigel, he managed to glean a glimpse of the place from the entrance. What he saw was not a place of tranquility and relaxation. It was the complete opposite.

 

Nigel saw his worried look and laughed through the breadcrumbs. “You look like you’re on your way to the guillotine. Relax amice, it’ll be fun! Even if you don’t like to box, you can steam and sauna all your stress away. Nobody can be violent when they’re that relaxed and limber, eh?”

 

Will chuckled, Nigel’s infectious laugh cutting through his trepidation and putting him at ease. “Alright Nigel. I’ll go to your stupid gym.” He relented, bracing himself for another one of Nigel’s bone crushing bear hug.

Chapter Text

 

After a thorough bath that left Nigel soaked and Will relatively dry, the men all crowded in the living room, fussing over the wet dog as they dried him in front of a rickety old fan. The gray-brown dirt melted away with the shampoo’s help, revealing an expanse of pure white fuzzy fur. The very sight of it made Will wish he had killed the man. It takes more than a messy afternoon to turn a white dog brown. This dog has been neglected for weeks, and still he remained by that useless human being’s side.

 

The dog itself was a beautiful and energetic creature, expressively trusting and happy despite his abuse. Will couldn’t fathom how anyone could hurt such a precious animal, and it took every last bit of his self-restraint to stay put and not rush back to the dog park.

 

“I’ll kill him if you want me to darling.” Nigel murmured when he noticed Will’s tightly set jaw, staring at him with the same devoted eyes as the dog.

 

Hearing the man offer up his services like that knocked Will out of his dark musings. He stood up and walked into Nigel’s arms, relishing the coolness of his bare chest. There’s something about Nigel that just made him forget himself in the best way. Even the cold tinge of his skin soothed Will’s simmering rage. It’s magical, really.

 

“You always take care of people, don’t you Nigel?” Will murmured, eyes blank as his empathy took over. The man stiffened under his gaze, disconcerted over the chilling gaze directed at him.

 

Will has been slipping in and out of reality ever since the assault, his empathy going on overdrive. Instead of fear, the man seemed content to stew in the afterglow of his violence. It was beautiful, really, but at the same time Nigel was worried that the man might be lost to him.

 

Sensing his anxiousness, Will gave Nigel a tender smile and caressed his cheek. “Sweet man,” He murmured. “- we appreciate all that you’ve done, but Kefir and I would much prefer your company here.” Nigel sighed into the touch before the second part of the sentence began to register into his brain.

 

“Ke…fir?” Nigel raised his eyebrow, turning towards the happily panting dog, who is snapping at the air coming from the fan. Will nodded dreamily. “You named him already? Fucking hell amice. Now we’ll never get rid of him!

 

The outburst made Will frown and gave Nigel a look that made him feel like he’s been scolded.“…but I named him after your favorite drink.” Will mumbled, peeking up form his heavy lashes, blatantly manipulating the man and putting zero effort at hiding it.

 

“Oh hell.” Nigel sagged back onto the counter, the very picture of helpless exasperation. “That’s just not fair darling.” He grumbled, suddenly feeling self conscious under Will’s intense gaze.

 

The man just laughed and leaned in closer, his mind pleasantly blank from both Nigel’s presence and the rush of adrenaline. “I’m sorry Nigel. I cant help it. I just really want to keep him.” he said, taking pity on the man and stopping his little smolders.

 

“Really darling? I give you multiple credit cards and all you want is some stolen dog?”

 

Will mumbled some ambiguous excuse and muffled it into the man’s collarbones. Nigel just sighed, completely aware of Will victorious smile pressing against his skin. He’s not used to seeing Will like this, shamelessly brazen and teasing. It confused Nigel, and it made his pants incredibly uncomfortable.

 

When he’s in this post violence fugue, Will always found himself numb to his usually overwhelming emotions. He knows he should feel bad for driving Nigel crazy like this, but he is just too lost in his own head to be tormented by such petty things as guilt or shame. All he could focus on was the sticky feel of Nigel’s collarbone under his lips, and how badly he wanted to bite down and mark him as his.

 

“Fuck!” Nigel exclaimed after a few minutes, slumping back against the counter in defeat. “Fine. Fine. Keep the damn dog. But I’m not picking up his shit or mopping up his piss, got it?”

 

Grinning like a child on Christmas day, Will rushed forward and nuzzled into the crook of Nigel’s neck again, pressing his body flush against the man, relishing the way Nigel’s jeans rubbed against his own trousers. “Mmm… Mulțumesc sweet man. Ești atât de bun pentru mine.”

 

Nigel was suddenly frozen in place. Physical affection was something he shared freely with Will, but this… this is something else.

 

There is something intentional in the way Will roll his hips up to him, more titillating than playful. The way Will sighed his gratitude stuck onto his skin like oozing molasses, bogging down his thoughts. Nigel wanted to meet those rolling hips, to taste the sighs and see if sweetness does pour out with his breath.

 

Nigel wanted to bend him down over the counter and breed him.

 

Suddenly Nigel became acutely aware of the hard masculine line of Will’s body, of his growing stubbles and low hum that had too much bass in it to be a purr. Acting on instinct alone, Nigel shoved him away. Will looked impassive.

 

“Careful Will.” Nigel snarled. “Touch me like that again and I’ll have to hurt you.”

 

Surprised at the sudden change in demeanor, Will stepped back and frowned. His eyes still clouded and unfocussed, and he felt every ounce of shame and indignantion pouring out of Nigel’s pores. He soaked them all in, Nigel’s emotions becoming his, the vague threat of violence becoming real under his claws. Will wanted to hurt him. How fucking dare you push me away. After these months of touching and endless fucked up-

 

Before he could open his mouth and snarled every thought he had at Nigel, Kefir yipped and barked at them, already jealous that that his new master is not paying attention to him. In an instant, all of the tension that built up in his body dispersed into nothing. Will was too happy to descend with his pets and cuddles, leaving Nigel alone to stew in his aggression.

 

“Fuck.” Nigel cursed under his breath, confused and angry at the same time. He adjusted the buldge in his pants and turned away, cursing so much it sounded like poetry to Will. Will ignored him, too busy with Kefirto bother with the mad dog seething behind him. Somehow that made Nigel even angrier

 

“I’m going out for a smoke.” Nigel growled, pushing past the two with more force than needed. Will ignored him, forcing himself to absorb all the soothing happy emotions that the dog is giving off.

 

For all his empathy and foresight, Will was out of his depth. He was so used to be able to read the Nigel that now he’s out of the loop, he suddenly felt lost. Will hated guessing on people’s motivations, it reminded him too much of work and it reminded him too closely with Hannibal.

 

He doesn’t want to associate Nigel with Hannibal. Their relationship does not mirror his and Hannibal’s at all. It was pure and honest, and despite it’s darker undertones, it felt real. Will doesn’t want their relationship to devolve into a series of manipulation and twisted games. Nigel was his truest friend, and to have the usually doting man shut him out hurt Will more than he expect it to.

 

But all I did was give him what he wanted. Will frowned, petting Kefir’s soft. He knows that Nigel has been attracted to him, and his desire only grew with each passing day. Will was never one to conform to society’s standard. He had no problem indulging Nigel in his desires.

 

Apparently Nigel isn’t as ready as he expected him to be.

 

If he was completely lucid and in control, Will would’ve never rubbed up to Nigel like that. He would’ve known better and played it safe, choosing friendship over lust, but right now he is floating on the thrill of adrenaline and euphoria. Like a good friend, all that Will wanted to do is share that with Nigel.

 

It’s unfortunate that the man was too bullheaded to understand his intentions.

 

Sensing Will’s distress, the little spitz whined and tilted his head, eager to placate his new kind master. Charmed by the little gesture, Will tilted his own head, his empathy reflecting back the canine’s desire to please.

 

“It’s okay boy, we’ll get him back.” He said, staring at the closed balcony doors.

 

***

 

 

A familiar old scent from a different life wafted through the fashionable loft, luring both men and dog to sit at attention as Will bustled through the kitchen. It was warm and familiar, even for the two strays of Bucharest, but only one came to Will’s side. The other stubbornly stayed outside.

 

It’s been a few hours since Nigel went to the balcony, and the sound of chopping knives and his growling stomach made his stay a tad bit unbearable.. Aside from their massive brunches, Will rarely cooks dinner. Was he cooking to apologize? - his heart softening a bit at the thought. Nigel instantly regretted how terribly he acted over nothing.

 

Will was an empathy. He was probably only reflecting whatever fucked up fantasies Nigel probably picking on some weird signal from him. It doesn’t mean that the man wanted to-

 

Nigel breathed out, feeling himself harden as lewd images flashes through his head. Suddenly he felt his outburst was justified.

 

I’m not going in to fucking apologize. No way. I’m only going in cuz I finished my cigarettes. He paced as he lied to himself, pushing the French doors open and stepping into his warm home.

 

His guest moves through the kitchen with elegance and grace, his movements fast and precise. Amongst the boiling pot and sizzling meats he hummed a cheerful little tune. His eyes are no longer clouded over, instead they shone brilliantly blue, and Nigel breathed a sigh or relief, hoping that the confusing fugue that took over Will had passed.

 

“Are you back now?” He called, taking a seat at the counted.

 

Will turned around, crooking his head in confusion. “I never left.” He said quietly. The words made Nigel uneasy, but Will already turned around before he could say another word.

 

The answer could implies multiple possibilities, all too complicated and absurd for Nigel to follow. His head pounded from smoking too many cigarettes too fast, and the melodic hum of Will’s voice lulled him into a comfortable blankness. Fucking hell. Nigel laughed at himself. I’m getting soft.

 

Kefir sniffed the air and inched closer to the cooking man, laying his head onto the ground, a picture of obedience except for his pleading eyes and drooling mouth. Will chuckled and ‘dropped’ a spoonful of food, which Kefir enthusiastically lap up and barked for more. Will smiled and continued cooking, ignoring the two sets of eyes that’s been staring intensely at him.

 

He’s used to corralling seven pairs of strays. One mad dog was no problem for him.

 

“I used too feed my pack my own homemade dog food. I wouldn’t let them touch that crap in the supermarket. It’s all filled with chemicals and road kill.” Will explained, spooning three identical plates of food and placing them in fronts of his hungry audience. The smell was definitely inviting, but Nigel couldn’t help but raised an apprehensive at the sound of ‘dog food’ and Kefir’s enthusiastic chomping.

 

“Go ahead.” Will said as he made his own plate. “Don’t worry. The human portions are seasoned.” He assured him, taking as seat on the far end of the counter, as if he’s trying his best not to spook Nigel away into his balcony.

 

It wasn’t haute cuisine in any sense of the word, but the first spoonful of chopped vegetables, meats, and grains filled Nigel with a certain warmth that associated him with home. It didn’t made sense. As a child he mostly subsist from the slop at the orphanage, and as an adult, he gained his sustenance from the many cafes and restaurants around his loft. Still, Nigel was transported to a wintery scenes landscape, where there was only one house, glowing with warmth, and in it, there was Will, waiting for him with his pack of dogs.

 

It made Nigel want to kidnap the man away and make a home together somewhere snowy and bleak, just so he could recreate the taste that he savored in his tongue.

 

“Well?” Will asked, smiling into his own plate.

 

Nigel didn’t answer until his plate was clean. “Lucky hounds.” He burped, nudging his plate up for more. Will laughed and placed another heaping another mound into Nigel’s plate, shushing Kefir who’s already begging for more.

 

They ate in a mixture of tense silence and rugged familiarity. Will didn’t make any effort to converse, content to bask in the afterglow of his high. Nigel, however, was suffering alone, struggling to find a balance between ‘Don’t fucking touch me again, faggot.’ And ‘God, I want to worship your body.’

 

“I feel like we’re crossing boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.” Nigel said quietly. Will hummed, already understanding what Nigel is vaguely implying.

 

“I value your friendship Nigel. More than anything.” He said, albeit a tad sadly. It felt less like drawing line and more like building walls, one that either of them is afraid to break down now that it’s up. Nigel swallowed and nodded, trying to ignore the obvious longing and sorrow dripping from Will’s soft voice.

 

“Yeah. Me too amice. We’re just so fucking muddled up from all the blood and work. Shit’s not good darling. Men shouldn’t be this pent up.” Nigel sighed. “Are you sure you won’t let me buy you a whore or two?”

 

Will shook his head. “It’s not really my style to pay for sex.”

 

“We both know that I’m going to be the one who pays.”

 

Will gave him a look that instantly melted away Nigel’s little snicker. “I guess so. But I need something more than a willing body and a pretty face. I need…”

 

Will closed his eyes, thinking of the times Hannibal touched his body, innocuous pure touches that’s far away from sex as possible. They lit him up in ways that’s indescribable for mere words to explain, like a cold bolt of lightning to Nigel’s warm smoldering fire. He sighed.

 

“I need passion. Familiarity. The mutual worship of each other’s body, soul and mind.” Will let out a shuddering breath, grief striking deep into his chest as he recounted the unfulfilled promises of a future with Hannibal. “I need love.” Will whispered, opening his eyes to reveal shimmering orbs that threaten to melt into droplet.

 

Nigel was left breathless. He has lived amongst suffering his whole life, made his career out of causing them. They have always seemed commonplace and pedestrian, almost as natural as breathing and death as shocking as a knock on the door. This, however, was something else.

 

How can someone’s pain be this beautiful? How can he cherish someone so much yet relish at the glimpse of his broken soul? It made Nigel felt dirty like nothing else ever could, and yet he still hungered to see more of Will’s pain, more of his broken soul that’s been fragmented into infinite facets.

 

Slowly, Nigel made his way to his slowly weeping man, cupping his cheeks like one might cradle an injured bird. When tears touched his thumb all desire to see Will in pain evaporated, and he fell onto his knees just so he could meet will’s down casted gaze.

 

“Alright darling. No prostitutes.” He promised.

 

***

 

That night Will returned back to his own room, and he slept after another wave of tear wrecked his body. He thought his memories of Hannibal have long been locked away, but the very sight Nigel reminded him with an onslaught of virulent memories in Baltimore and Frienze.

 

Will knows that Nigel is not Hannibal, that the older man was on the end of the spectrum while Nigel is on the other, but when it comes to love, the two are inseparable from the word

 

They’re the closest thing he ever had to an ideal family, with Hannibal with his manipulations and Nigel with his persistent obsessions. No matter how wonderful they both were, neither satisfied the burning need that drove him to collect strays and married Molly. They always, Hannibal with his need for control and Nigel and his desire for heteronormalcy.

 

It’s disappointing, and it made Will wondered if love is even possible for someone such as him.  

 

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts before it spiral into an abyss of self pity and anguish. “Come out darling! I walked the dog and bought breakfast!” Nigel called out, and true to his words, Will could hear Kefir slump onto the floor in front of his room, panting audibly from his walk.

 

Will tentatively walked out, still in pajamas, and greeted Kefir with a fond little scratch. The dog enjoyed his touch and return them with nuzzles of his own. His soft fur tickled his nose and made him laugh. He missed having dogs.

 

In the kitchen Nigel was busy opening paper bags of pastries, munching on pillowy cheese pastries while drinking kefir straight out of the bottle. “Finally!” Nigel exclaimed, abandoning his breakfast to rush over to Will. He pushed Kefir away with his leg, much to dog’s annoyance, and brought Will into a friendly hug albeit brief hug.

 

“Listen amice, I know you had a rough night, but you gotta come to the gym with me.” Nigel said, pulling Will to the kitchen counter and showering him with crumbs from various proffered pastries. Will raised a dubious brow, obediently munching on kürtöskalács as he stared Nigel down with a look that says go fuck yourself.

 

“Come on Amice. A few rotations on the sandbag, a round or two on the ring, maybe knock some asshole out? You’ll be right as rain!”

 

Will scoffed, already apprehensive of the suggestion. “Nigel, I almost killed a guy. I don’t think punching people is a good idea for me.”

 

“Bullshit.” Nigel retorted, bending down to throw a pair newly purchased glove at Will. “Those sorts of mess happened because you’re all pent up inside. Since you wont let me buy you a whore or two, the least that you can do is come to the gym and let off some steam.”

 

“Right.” Will still looked uncertain, eyes bulging when he saw the price tag on the corner. “Nigel, I can’t accept this. I-“

 

“You’re not going to make me beg no, are you darling?” Nigel raised an eyebrow. Will was at a loss of word. How can Nigel managed to look both cocky and pitiful at the same time?

 

“Of course not.” He sighed, putting the expensive apparel aside to passive aggressively poke at his breakfast. Will never formally visited the place, but on one of the few times he picked up Nigel, he managed to glean a glimpse of the place from the entrance. What he saw was not a place of tranquility and relaxation. It was the complete opposite.

 

Nigel saw his worried look and laughed through the breadcrumbs. “You look like you’re on your way to the guillotine. Relax amice, it’ll be fun! Even if you don’t like to box, you can steam and sauna all your stress away. Nobody can be violent when they’re that relaxed and limber, eh?”

 

Will chuckled, Nigel’s infectious laugh cutting through his trepidation and putting him at ease. “Alright Nigel. I’ll go to your stupid gym.” He relented, bracing himself for another one of Nigel’s bone crushing bear hug.

Chapter Text

 

The gym Nigel went to was less of a formal establishment and more of an exclusive warehouse filled with prizefighters and roided up weightlifters. It’s a hyper masculine environment, where instead of receptionist in polo shirts, they have menacing coaches that looked like they belonged in biker gangs and hate groups.

 

Bouncers littered through the area, breaking up actual fights that doesn’t happen within a ring. On one corner there were people openly shooting steroids before their workout, while on other stood a worn out boxing ring with dark flecks of red and browns.

 

Even from a distance Will could smell the metallic tang of oxidized blood. The floor was completely soaked with it, as it was the only ring where no gloves are allowed an no rules applied.

 

The rest of the space was filled with machines and weights typical of a normal gym. For a place that looked like a cross between a snuff film set and a condemned building, the machines and weights look menacingly pristine and intimidatingly complicated. It was as if someone took one of the best gym money could buy and intentionally build a dilapidated façade around it.

 

It’s a strange way to ensure exclusivity, but Will was more concerned by the aggressive patrons than the building’s fire code. He expected to be bombarded with intense aggression, but instead of being overwhelmed by the sheer violence of the place, the smell of sweat, musk, and blood exhilarated Will in a way that he forgot he could feel.

 

From the corner of his eyes Will could see Nigel’s love for the place pouring out of his fond gaze. In public Nigel is usually stoic and firm, but here he went as far as nodding at some of the regulars.

 

To some the gesture might not mean much, but Will knew that Nigel doesn’t even spare his own men that courtesy. He must’ve spent plenty of time here, and that knowledge put Will at ease.

 

“What do you think darling?” Nigel grinned, already stripping off his shirt and pants to change into his sweatpants right next to a water cooler. Will hummed his approval, following his lead, aware of the hungry stares that crawled up his back from both Nigel and other people.

 

“It’s definitely not like any gym that I’ve been into. Then again, I’ve only ever been the police academy workout room and it only had one barbell set.”

 

Nigel laughed, his voice ringing through the place and catching some people’s attention. “That won’t do at all darling. Places like these should be like churches for men like us. We get all of our aggression out in here so that we won’t explode out there. Here.”  He threw his stuff at a nearby bouncer, who caught it with practiced ease and gave him a key tied to an elastic band.

 

Will handed his own clothes off in a neat little pile, forgetting to thank the burly man since he was too distracted by Nigel’s excitement. It was adorable. Nigel was like an excited dog, unable to keep still as he tippy tapped in place to show his master his favorite toys.

 

Will wished he could give such happiness to Nigel every single day.

 

“Alright, alright.” He grinned, cracking his neck and stiff fingers. “I’m ready Nigel, take me to church.”

 

***

 

Will decided that there was nothing more in his life he loved and hated more than jump ropes. He adored the rush of endorphins that enveloped his body after he stopped, but the burn in his thighs and intense palpitations reminded him too much of being chased by his nightmares.

 

The only reason he managed stayed calm was because of Nigel’s gentle instructions. Will expected the man to instruct him with the roughness of a drill sergeant, but instead Nigel watched him closely and fixed his posture with an uncharacteristic patience that he rarely see in the man.

 

After they finished every grueling station, Nigel would leveled him down with an excessive amount of praise, gushing with pride even as Will glared at him in his exhaustion. It caught the attention of the surrounding men, who snickered at the two in good nature, much to Will’s embarrassment. Nigel didn’t care. He looked so happy that he got to share this moment with Will, and seeing him so filled with joy was worth a few snicker here and there.

 

Despite the Nigel’s relentless encouragement, the excises left Will feeling embarrassingly out of shape. Outwardly he still kept a trim figure, a result of his terrible diet and lack of sweet tooth, but decades of academia and sedentary living had softened what muscles he used to proudly have and weakened them to an embarrassing point.

 

Back when he was still working as a police officer in Louisiana, Will was one of those young recruits who habitually ran marathons and kept himself fit. It’s not like he enjoyed the exercise, he was just eager to be the best so that they wouldn’t look down on him for growing up drifting from one boatyard to the next.

 

Sadly when he was shot, Will stopped his healthy habit altogether. Prolonged bed rest and a case of low grade depression made it impossible for him to enjoy anything productive. Now that he’s a decade older and gasping for breath, Will wished that he had kept up with his exercises.

 

He felt it intensely when he stood next to Nigel, who, without his shirt, looked like the embodiment of a Roman gladiator. His body was thick with layers of lean muscles, devoid of excessive fat or body hair. His strong legs were hidden under his sweatpants, but Will had seen enough of them to know just down well muscled and defined they were. It was obvious that Nigel took great care of his body, and seeing his own average build made Will slightly self-conscious.

 

It didn’t stop him from admiring the man as he continued to jump even with extra weights strapped on his feet. Nigel looked completely at ease, crisscrossing the ropes with the flair of a showman. When he counted up to a thousand, Nigel winked at Will and shrugged off his weights.

 

“Show off.” Will threw him a water bottle when he stopped to rest. Nigel caught it without so much of a flinch, and it irritated Will to no ends seeing him composed and barely out of breath.

 

“Not my fault you have the fitness level of an elderly corgi darling.” Nigel softly jeered, which earned him a towel in the face as well as Will’s retort of, “You’re only a few years younger than me, twerp. Watch it.”

 

Nigel exploded into laughter and pulled Will up, pushing him towards a deadly contraption that supposed to work his calves through a series of menacing pulleys.

 

Nigel wasn’t kidding when he told Will about the gym being his church. He looked completely in his element here, commanding every exercise station with the confidence of a seasoned athlete and the expertise of one too. Every time he gave Will instructions, a few men around them stopped to watch, eager to glean some tips to improve their own routines.

 

Whereas others pump up their muscles purely for show, Nigel’s body was an efficient weapon that he carried like a genius might wield his mind. As well-maintained blades usually did, his rippled body shone with a dangerous gleam, the sweat darkening the ink of his tattoos and highlighting the mounds of his sculpted body.

 

Being so close to him makes it hard not to ogle at the man.  Even as his body was torturously bent into complicated machines, Will found eyes drawing back to Nigel. Every time the man would touch him to fix his posture or feel his muscle contract, a haze of arousal would rush into Will’s head, leaving him weak and heady. It wasn’t an ideal situation to exercise in, but every time he met Nigel’s eyes, the man was blissfully ignorant, like a puppy distracted by a new shiny toy.

 

Will noticed that he wasn’t the only one having trouble concentrating either.  Many men around them watched them closely, captivated by Nigel’s body in either quiet envy or silent lust. Nigel ignored them, apparently so used to the appreciative glances that they didn’t affect him one bit.

 

When a brave man came over asking for his number, Nigel just brushed him off. “Fuck off, I’m not a PT buddy, I’m just working out with my friend.” The snubbed man turned to leave, disparaging glares at Will, clearly thinking that he wasn’t worthy of Nigel’s time.

 

While other men would feel jealous and possessive at the act, Will just felt smugly victorious. Sure, he may not have as nice of a body as these men did, but at the end of the day, he was the one that Nigel chose to share his bed with.

 

‘No, Will. That’s not how you think about your friends.’ He chided himself, but as hard as he tried, he couldn’t erase the erotic scenes forming in his head.

 

It  got so bad that sometimes it made Will want to break free of his inhibitions and pull Nigel’s hand down to inappropriate places.

 

Thankfully before he could sink deeper into his fantasies, Nigel hurried him out to the next machine and began to bend his stiff body into other impossible positions. This time his touches only served to enflame the pain in his sore muscles, and no matter how closely he touched him, Will was too worn to muster up an erection.

 

By the end of the second hour, Will was completely worn and defeated, laying spread eagle on the floor like a beached jellyfish after just a few sets of working on his jabs and hooks. In front of him the sandbag swung mockingly, and if he had any energy to spare, Will would definitely get up to abuse it some more.

 

“I hate you and your gym and your lying mouth. ‘One more set!’ my ass…”

 

Nigel let out a chuff of laughter, punching the sandbag Will was glaring so hard on that it swung up halfway up the chains. Nigel caught it on the downswing and settled it down, leaning over Will to offer out his hand. “Come on. We still have to jog around the perimeter to cool down.”

 

“Leave me alone Nigel. I am cooling down.” Will snapped, blood still pounding through his ear drums like Hannibal’s dreaded metronome.

 

Nigel relented and gave him a pass, opting to join him on the floor instead. The two sat quietly, Will desperately catching his breath while Nigel was leaning up on his elbows, watching the crowd forming around the ring with a wistful look on his face. “You should start coming to the gym more often with me darling.”

 

“No.”

 

“Come on! I had so much fun today. Didn’t you?”

 

Știi ce, du-te dracu, Nigel.”

 

“Ah, your Romanian improved.”

 

“Vaffanculo.”

 

“… and your Italian! See? What a miracle. I told you the gym is a wondrous place.”

 

Will shook his head, unable to stamp out the small smile that’s spreading through his face. Nigel grinned and turn to him, some smart retort already dancing on his lips, but the second he laid eyes on the man it was Nigel’s turn to be caught breathless.

 

Will’s thin white shirt clung to his body obscenely, almost transparent with perspiration. The two pinkish dots of his nipples stood raised against the fabric. Every time Will shifted, they seemed to grow even more erect. It didn’t help that he had his arm over his head, breathing loudly like a worn out courtesan that just finished serving their patron. Under his sweaty arm, blue eyes met Nigel’s rapidly darkening dark ones, blinking slowly in question. Even the slow exhale of his breath seemed designed to inflame the man’s desires.

 

“God, Will.” Nigel groaned, looking away like a child caught perusing a dirty magazine.

 

“Your… nip- I mean your shirt. Cover up.” Nigel said, throwing him his towel. “You don’t know what kind of perverts get off on seeing pretty things like you all sweaty like that.”

 

Will threw the towel back with a snarl. “Says the guy who just spent the last two hours working out shirtless.”

 

Nigel scoffed. “Trust me, nobody is pervin’ on me darling.”

 

Laughing in disbelief, Will stood up and raised his arms in a stretch. “You’re right. You look like the type who would do the perving instead.” He smirked, turning around, just missing the way Nigel eyes glided up his ankles to his calves. “Crazy how some people just go in without gloves like that.” He muttered, already distracted by the fight going on the corner ring.

 

“Well they don’t do it for fun. You bet a few hundred Euros and if you win, you’ll even get enough money to buy a car-” Nigel nodded towards the small huddle of muscled men shaking small cloudy bottles and shooting them up their muscles. “- or you can spend it on your next fix of roids. The good shit is as expensive as an eight ball and the bad one leaves your dick all shriveled and useless. Not that they use their dick anyways, those fucking fags.”

 

Will noted the distaste coloring Nigel’s voice, completely oblivious to his own desires every time he laid eyes on him. Will just smiled sadly, reminding himself that he would rather bury his feelings than not have Nigel at all, that this uneasy friendship between them is better than ending up alone, accumulating dogs while being swallowed up by memories of Hannibal.

 

They walked closer to watch a round of an ongoing fight. Will was never one to care much for gratuitous violence, but there was something exhilarating the way the men dodged and punched themselves into victory.

 

They were no better than monkeys dancing on a stage really, but whenever they managed to land a punch, the crowd cheered and worshiped them like living gods. As the match progressed, Will found himself craving to see more blood, to see more of the beast beneath the man, both in the fighters and the crowd.

 

No wonder the Romans prized their gladiators so much. Seeing a man dominate another by the sheer force of his fist was divine. It brought back memories of slaying the Dragon, the rush of danger he felt as well as it’s euphoric victory. Will swallowed hard, trying his best not to face Nigel in fear of seeing Hannibal in his stead.

 

The match ended with the victory of a man with a broken nose. His opponent laid on the floor, cursing and groaning as the bouncers came to drag him out his nose broken and bloodied. The victor grinned, accepting both the applause and the curses of the men who won and lost money from him.

 

Wild eyes made confident by victory scanned the room and lingered on Will, as fascinated with the man as he was with him. He smirked and wiped his bloodied knuckles across his forehead, anointing himself with the blood of his enemies and kneeled down to say something into Will’s ear.

 

"Vrei să dormi cu un campion în seara asta?" He brazenly said, gazing his bloodied knuckle against Will’s chin. The people around him snickered, throwing him his winnings as well as extra cash for the hotel ‘to fuck his boy’. Before Will could retort back with a scathing reply of his own, Nigel jumped up into the raised ring, tackling the man and breaking the rest of his face to match his nose.

 

“Nigel!” Will pulled himself up to the platform, failing to pull the man off the unconscious body laying on the floor. “Nigel stop!”

 

Nigel shrugged him off and threw the champion over the railings, throwing his winnings over with a sweep of his feet. He pulled Will and raised the ropes, pushing him down to sneak under them. “Get out of the ring Will. You shouldn’t be here unless you’re ready to fight.”

 

“Ah! Is that the mad dog I hear?”

 

A man who decked out in pristine branded hoodie sauntered up to the ring, parting the excited crowd with his mere presence. He was heavy set with a round face to match, but his comical appearance betrayed the air of importance and sleaziness that the man had around him.

 

Nigel turned towards the pudgy man, letting the heavy ropes fall back once Will was out of the bloodied arena. “Sergei. Wearing athleisure doesn’t make you an athlete, didn’t anyone told you that?”

 

The man laughed despite the embarrassed flush that overcame his face. “Are you fighting, dog? Because if you’re not, I would suggest you pay up so I can fix my champion’s face.”

 

“Did you know that your champion is a faggot?”

 

Sergei tilted his head to the side, already bored of explaining something that he must’ve done hundreds of times before. “I don’t care about his preference as much as how well he fight. You on the other hand, you don’t fight well at all. You just fight dirty.”

 

“Always have.” Nigel said proudly, leaning down to face the man. “Go bounce that lard ass of yours on that faggot’s dick. I’m not paying you shit. Bring up as many of your ‘champions’ as you like. I’ll pummel them all to the ground.”

 

A menacing smile spread through Sergei’s pudgy face to match Nigel’s dangerous grin. They parted, Nigel to the end of the ring, stretching his muscles and muttering to the bouncers for boxing wraps for his knuckles.

 

The crowd chattered excitedly, all eager to place a bet for or against the infamous Nigel Ibanescu. On the far corner of the ring, the bookie was overwhelmed with eager slips and fans of Euros, unable to keep up with the rabid demands of the crowd. Will frowned, feeling uneasy about the whole thing.

 

He grabbed the thin strips of cloth from the bouncer and wrapped Nigel’s hand himself, his lips set in an unhappy frown. He wanted to urge the man to back out, but he knows that Nigel would rather die that cowardly back off from a challenge. So instead he did what little he could to protect him and wrapped his hands.

 

“Don’t look so grim darling.” Nigel said, brushing his knuckles across Will’s chin, erasing the mark that the man dared to put on him. “Your eyes gets so murky when you’re sad.”

 

Will sighed and let Nigel gentle graze turn into a caress. “You’re an idiot Nigel. This is dangerous.” He said, eyeing the line of fighters all eager for a chance to take down the legendary Mad Dog of Bucharest.

 

“I know.” He grinned, patting Will’s cheek with a feral smile. “But so am I.””

 

 

***

 

Will watched Nigel stepped over his fourth opponent to face the crowd, raising his hand up in victory. The white cloth wound around his fist was stained red, and every time Nigel clenched his hands, trails of blood would trickle down his forearms and colored the darkened ring.

 

Amidst the cheering crowds Nigel walked over to his corner, taking a swig of water and lighting a cigarette as he waited for his next challenger. He leisurely leaned onto the elastic ropes to be closer to Will, laughing in delight when Sergei began shouting disparaging insults at his fallen fighters.

 

“Oh leave them alone Sergei. It’s not their fault they have you as a shitty sponsor.” The crowd erupted in laughter, shouting at the bookie to put their money at the charismatic man who fought like Ares himself.

 

“You’re such a show off.” Will groaned in embarrassment, passing Nigel another bottle of water. The man just laughed, sweat dripping into his pristine body, untouched by the desperate flailing’s of his opponents.

 

“I can’t help it darling. He turns all pufferfishy when he’s embarrassed.” Will tried to bit down his laughter but failed, erupting into a giggle when he realized that Sergei does puff up whenever the crowed mocked him

 

Nigel grabbed Will by the scruff of his neck and knocked their foreheads together, his eyes wild with desire and adrenaline.

 

“There it is. There’s that fucking smile I’ve been waiting for.” The man took a deep drag from his cigarette and placed it between Will’s lips. “Keep that one lighted up for me darling.” He purred, thumbing the happy grin splitting Will’s face into two. “God, you’re so fucking gorgeous when you’re happy.” Admiration dripped from his voice, his eyes, from his blood soaked hands that caressed Will like he was the most precious thing in the world.

 

Before Will could reply, the crowd roared as they welcomed the last challenger into the ring. Nigel turned around, raising his hands up to welcome the man arrogantly. “Keep those pretty blue eyes on me darling.” Nigel shouted over his shoulder, staying motionless in the middle of the ring until the bell signaled the start of the round.

 

Every single time Nigel landed a hit, a rush of heat gushed through Will’s groin and pooled around his cheeks. The tattooed figures on his back came alive, their gazes affixed onto Will’s witnessing the way his cock harden and his cheek flush at the sight of Nigel’s savagery. ‘They know.’ Will groaned in embarrassment, moving a towel to hide his arousal, but his eyes stayed locked onto Nigel’s massive figure.

 

Eager for a distraction, Will took a tentative draw from the cigarette, hoping that the bitter taste might shock him awake and calm him down. The moment the bitter smoke filled his lungs, Will was helpless, engulfed by the very scent that is uniquely Nigel. It was like every inch of him was being claimed by the man.

 

Like a struggling pup learning to obey, Will bit down on the wet filter in hopes of halting its continuous invasion. It only served to inflame his imagination. As he grinded down the cotton flat, Will was fantasized sinking his teeth into Nigel’s lips, exploring the mouth that tasted like smoke and cloves as he let Nigel filled his body with something more substantial than mere smoke.

 

When Nigel’s opponent finally fell, Nigel raised his hand in victory and faced the crowd to accept his accolades. Obscene amount of money changed hands, and before long Nigel was accepting his prize money from a very happy bookie.

 

With the grace of a panther stalking its prey, Nigel sauntered over to Will and grabbed him by his chin. Will’s eyes fluttered close automatically, making Nigel chuckle in amusement. If he was a girl Nigel would’ve already devoured his lips right then and there, but no matter how beautiful Will was, it was unthinkable for Nigel to kiss another man.

 

Without as much as an explanation, he plucked the misshapen cigarette from Will’s lips and took a long drag. 

 

“Told ya I’m dangerous.” Nigel purred, crushing the still burning embers in his fist. Will swallowed and turned away, hoping to gain his composure back before Nigel could point out his reddened cheeks. Thankfully Nigel also turned on his heels and began approaching the unhappy man who just put down a quarter million euros against Nigel.

 

“Keep your money. Looks like you’re gonna have to fix a lot of faces Sergei.”

 

Cum îndrăznești să mă faci de râs?!” Sergei all but exploded in a fit of rage, stumbling over his feet as he struggled to get up onto the platform to challenge Nigel himself. Out of nowhere the gym bouncers came and held him back by his arms, unfazed as if such things happened everyday in a place like this. Will frowned uneasily, the intense waves of humiliation rolling off of Sergei beginning to affect him.

 

“Come on. I’m tired. Lets go home.” Will said, pulling Nigel down from the platform so they can hide away from prying eyes. Nigel let himself be dragged off, fanning himself with his winnings while spreading his arms around Will, claiming him for all to see. The crowd loved it, their cheers and applause followed them into the locker room.

 

“Did you see me win darling?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did you see me destroy that fucker’s face?”

 

“I did.”

 

“I did it for you darling.”


“Ha! Right...”

 

“I really did.”

 

“Yes, yes. Of course you did.”

 

Irritated by Will’s obvious attempt to brush him off, Nigel slammed the man against a dark corner and held his forearm against Will’s neck, growling like a wolf ready to bite.

 

Will froze, completely aware of Nigel’s ability to kill him with one easy move, but the thought didn’t scare him one bit. With the ferocity of a cornered animal and speed of a predator, Will snarled and slammed his fist against the side of Nigel’s head, opening a gash right on his eyebrows that trickled blood straight down into Nigel’s eyes.

 

Nigel winced and pulled away, chuckling at the irony of the situation. He had just faced five ferocious fighters, but the only one who managed to land a hit on him was a mentally unstable man who wheezed at the sight of a treadmill. Shaking his head in disbelief, Nigel smiled fondly at Will and laughed. Will remained impassive, watching Nigel closely, ready to defend himself from another attack.

 

Instead of giving Will the violence he expected, gentle hands caressed their way up the man’s neck and cupped his chin. “It’s all for you, blue eyes.” Nigel murmured, his voice suddenly turning gravely serious as he regarded the tense man standing before him. “The fights, the money-“

 

“I don’t need your fucking money!” Will shouted, his voice echoing through the halls. The hum of locker room chatter quieted down, the patrons listening for more signs of an altercation.

 

“Not the money then.” Nigel relented with an amused smile that makes Will want to kiss and hit him at the same time. “But I’ll still get in fights for you, wreck faces for you, take as many punches for you-“

 

Will sighed, confused and overwhelmed at this sudden confession by the very man that almost choked him. He bit his lips and slammed his head back against the wall, killing the desire to smother his lips against Nigel’s babbling mouth, to swallow his inane confession and make him prove his loyalty with his body instead.

 

“Enough Nigel.” Will croaked, exhausted from denying himself over and over again.

 

“No Will. It’s never enough. I will never be those fucking reasonable people who leads fucking reasonable lives. I live with my fists and my guns, and a life with me will always be fucking chaotic and raw. But you know what amice? You don’t have to fret and stress over it. I won’t ever let you dirty your hands again, because I will always have your fucking back, you hear me?”

 

For a few seconds Will was left speechless. They stood together for a long time, Nigel’s gaze unwavering and bold as ever. “You idiot.” Will said softly, brushing his thumb against the only wound on Nigel’s pristine face.  “You absolute fucking idiot.”

 

A wave of relief washed over Nigel and he slumped his body against Will, humming in contentment while he let Will pet him roughly. He accepted every ounce of pain and gentleness Will gave him, savoring each one like it was the very air he needed to survive.

Chapter Text

 

 

Will buried his face in the crook of Nigel’s neck, unable to watch his contented face without blurring it with memories of Hannibal. Nigel hummed in pleasure, drawing Will in like a man starved for attention. They both needed this, the simplicity of each other’s touch, and Will was eager to indulge in it before his common sense urged him otherwise.

 

Eventually they did part, bereft of the awkwardness that even lovers experience in the aftermath of sex. “Come.” Nigel said hoarsely, placing a claiming hand on the back of Will’s neck. Will followed him as if in a haze, ignoring the curious look as Nigel guided them to a guarded door in on the far end of the locker room.

 

“Nigel?” Will asked out loud, suddenly feeling rather unsure of the man’s intention. With a comforting hush Nigel pushed him in, his touch the only thing guiding him through the darkness.

 

Inside that hidden room was a place unlike anything Will has ever seen before. Dark sandalwood fixtures hid soft lights that illuminated darkened hall. Alongside it’s polished walls were a row of velvet curtains, embroidered with the names of various patrons. Nigel steered them past several occupied spaced to find his own curtain. “Go ahead darling.” He said, holding the crimson fabric aside as he ushered Will in.

 

Will stepped into a tastefully decorated changing room, equipped with a vanity, a sitting area, as well as an antique cedar armoire on the far end. The fabric of the plush seats feels soft and tender under his touch.

 

“This is a far cry from the bureau’s locker room.” He muttered tightly, his throat feeling upon seeing the extravagant prices listed on a nearby beverage menu.

 

“You fucken’ bet it aint your normal locker room. I mean, I can hang around out there for free, but I’m bound to get hounded by fags and ‘roid heads. Figured that it defeats the purpose of going to the gym if I kill someone every time I come here.” Nigel scoffed. He unlocked the large armoire, shedding his sweaty clothes and dropping it in the laundry basket hidden inside.

 

Will caught a rustle of towel thrown his way, the fabric still warm from the dryer and smelling pleasantly of fabric softener. Nigel pulled out a towel of his own, barely enough to wrap around his waist, clinging precariously onto his Adonis belt like a drop of rain ready to break.

 

“You take the bathrobe darling. Even here there’s still some sick fuck that will hit you up out of nowhere.” He said, lounging on the sofa while unrolling his blood soaked wraps. “I swear, I never been in a gym where there isn’t a guy offering to give me a blowjob.”

 

Will laughed, finally understanding Nigel’s aggressive homophobia and overprotective streak. “I don’t blame them. You’re very attractive Nigel.” Will said, smirking as he walked past the man with the bathrobe slung over his shoulders.

 

Nigel growled and grabbed his hands, pulling him painfully back so he could wrap the fluffy robes around the man. “I’m fucken’ serious amice. That face of yours is enough to attract the wrong kind of attention. God, is this what having a daughter feels like? Always worried that someone’s gonna fucken rape her?”

 

Will frowned, grabbing Nigel’s hand in a tight squeeze. “If that’s your way of calling me a girl then I have no problem practicing my left hook on you.” He said with a sweet smile that promises pain.

 

Nigel quickly drew his hands back, the memory of his earlier punch still fresh in his mind. “My bad. You know how I get darling. I’m just protective.” He drawled, tying the ropes of the robes a little bit too tightly. Will frowned at the man and pushed past him, too tired to argue about the inane details of Nigel’s contradictory nature.

 

The rows of private changing rooms lead to a massive area that looked more like a spa than a normal locker room. On one side of the spacious room was a line of jet showers, flanked by a steam and dry sauna room. In the middle of it all was a communal bath, smelling faintly of minerals that Will was sure was sourced directly from a nearby hot spring. On a hidden corner he could see a curtain beads hiding rows of massage tables.

 

“… how much money do you spend on this place again?” Will asked, feeling out of place amongst the obviously rich and privileged.

 

Nigel shrugged. “I try not to count the zeroes.” he said, but it failed to ease Will’s discomfort. An attendant approached them and offering them a massage in one of the darkened enclave. Will balked at him, shaking his head vehemently as he drew the bathrobe tighter around himself.

 

At first Nigel expected Will to gape in awe an approval at the place. Gabi certainly enjoyed places like these, but instead of admiration, Nigel could see Will drawing deeper into himself, putting up the walls that Nigel though he had broken down months ago. “Don’t think about it too much darling.” Nigel ruffled his sweaty hair, disappearing to a shower unit to leave Will to explore.

 

Lost amongst the sparse crowd of self possessed millionaires, Will felt compelled to followed suit in Nigel’s lead. These sorts of situations were why he avoided Hannibal’s dinner parties. Just being amongst wealth made his skin itch.

 

He took the cube next to Nigel’s and began washing away the sweat and grime of his workout. Nigel’s shadow moved rapidly beside him, humming a happy tune as he enjoyed his well-earned shower. How he wished Nigel’s ease and confidence might rub off on him, but empathy failed him as his mind was too preoccupied at the price of each service rendered here.

 

Will was completely out his depth. He grew up in a boathouse with his father, moving from harbor to harbor, struggling to even turn on their shower tank everyday. They would save money and swim instead, or find a communal shower in one of the more commercial marinas. Luxury means staying in one place long enough to move into a trailer with a shower. It was a far cry from a cube with seven massaging shower heads.

 

A twinge of guilt began to nibble at the corner of his mind. Here he was, indulging on extravagances on the dime of a criminal, cavorting with the very people he was trained to catch. It made Will felt like a whore, trading in his morality for the comfort that he lacked as a child. The thought of it made him numb, and no matter how high he raised the temperature, Will remained frozen under the jets of water.

 

Just who was he really? Who was this Will Graham who hungered for things he thought he had no appetite for? He remembered the days where corpses haunted his dream, a manifestation of his conflicted consciousness. Now the very sight of blood aroused the beast inside of him, and the only thing warring in his mind was the noise of old murderers, whispering suggestions into his ears.

 

Will was changing, and he wasn’t sure that he liked this person who he’s becoming.

 

He used to seek the company of women, thankful for their soothing nature and soft bodies. Now he craved the hardened hands of a criminal, his mind filled with fantasies of animalistic snarls and brutal fucking.

 

Leaving Florence with Nigel was a mistake. He should’ve stood his ground and went back to Moly and Walter. Instead he ran, hoping that Nigel might fill the wound that Hannibal left gaping.

 

It’s twisted and wrong in so many ways. Nigel had given him his trust and friendship, but whenever his self control wavered, Will would tease and prod him, secretly wishing that their friendship may unravel into another unhealthy affair.

 

‘The fuck is wrong with me?’ Will stared down at the suds circling down the drain, imagining the last of his virtues being sucked to its grimy passage.

 

“You know what’s wrong Will.” Hannibal said, his breath a ghosting over the shell of his ear. “You are not yourself without me.”

 

Will shook his head in disbelief, annoyed at the arrogant truth that only Hannibal could tell.

 

He shut off the pounding jets of water, exiting the shower to find Nigel waiting in one of the tubs, frowning disapprovingly at the sight of his bare chest.

 

“Where are you going?” Nigel growled, rising from the water to cover Will’s body from the casual glances of the other patrons.

 

“I’m cold.” Will snapped, turning away from the man with Hannibal’s face, eager to get away from him. The sauna looked inviting enough, so he slammed the glass door behind him, showing Nigel that his company was unwanted.

 

It was childish and unfair, but Will couldn’t bear being with Nigel right now, not when he finally got his head back together. Bucharest was supposed to be a new start, a chance to build something solid to moor his ship against. Instead, he let himself be distracted by promises of love and let down by fantasies of his own making.

 

He lost his chance with Hannibal already. He should know better than to abandon himself so to love another monster.

 

 

***

 

Sweat dripped down Will’s flushed body. It soaked past the towel he laid underneath him and onto the pale wood of the dry sauna. Red coals burned bright in front of him, heating up the metal bowl its sitting in. The few men that remained there eyed the thermometer worriedly, but Will was unmovable, standing guard in front of the coals only to add more wood and splash even more water against the reservoir.

 

One man cursed out loud, scrambling outside to escape the encompassing heat. The rest followed, unable to keep up with the strange foreigner who was hell bent on cooking himself alive. In mere minutes Will was finally alone, trying to a resemblance of his old self that his beast hasn’t twisted beyond recognition.

 

‘Even with the murders, I’m still myself. I still teach. I still enjoy my dogs. I…’

 

“Oh Will. Is that how you define yourself? A dog-loving professor?” Hannibal called out. “Surely you you’re not going to list off your instabilities next?”

 

Will didn’t look up, unwilling to give his hallucinations the upper hand in the conversation. He could hear Hannibal sighed in disappointment, something that he never did in real life. Somehow the blatant manipulation irked him. Hannibal never once resorted to such lowly tactics. How dare this mere wraith desecrate what little good he remembered about Hannibal? Will snapped his head up, ready to eviscerate the man from his thoughts, but the very sight of him rendered Will speechless.

 

Hannibal sat across form him, his jacket neatly folded on the side, sleeve rolled up to the elbows and tie loosened between slender fingers. He could make out the strength in those arms, the very ones that carried him from muskrat farm and pulled him out of the Atlantic. Will heart pounded, suddenly hungry to see more of him, to undress this corporeal manifestation and devoured him like he devoured Nigel’s smokes.

 

Hannibal clicked his tongue in disapproval, raising a ladle full of water and trickling it down to the hot coals. “Focus Will, we are here to find yourself, not to lose yourself to me again.”

 

Will frown, his vision getting hazy at as the temperature gauge climbed another degree. “I thought you don’t believe in denying yourself.”

 

Hannibal smiled, as indulgent as ever. He rose up, tapping the tip of Will’s chin. “I don’t believe in denying you anything, Will, even if it meant helping you destroy what little happiness you have with him.”

 

Those words hit him hard, and suddenly Will was as cold as he was when he woke up on the beach. “Wait-“ He reached out to catch Hannibal’s hand, but a rush of cold air hit his face and he was met face to face with a stranger.

 

“Oh.” Will said mutely, instantly dropping his desperate grasp. “I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else.” 

 

The man smiled and replied with a cherry “Nici o problemă,” before taking a seat right next to him. He was clearly unbothered by the heat of the room or the state of Will’s nakedness. The man seemed content to enjoy them both, and Will wanted nothing more than to get out and escape his disgusting gaze.

 

But that would be going out to meet Nigel, and Will is just not ready for that yet.

 

Like many others in the establishment, the stranger was mountain of a man, all hulking muscles and bulging veins. He had the body language of someone who does too much cocaine, or steroids, or both, all while preaching about the dangers of GMO as he sipped on his vegan protein shakes.

 

Suffice to say nothing he saw impressed him, but Will wasn’t looking for impressive stranger to befriend. He just wanted take off the guilty chill off his body so he could finally face Nigel and not lose himself in his eyes.

 

The blissful silence was quickly broken as man began conversing with him in Romanian. “Sorry.” Will said, keeping his eyes forward so to avoid anything suggestive. “I don’t speak much Romanian.” He said, edging away to indicate his disinterest.

 

Unfortunately for him the man was one of those persistent bunch who doesn’t know when to stop. With a great heave from his large body, the stranger inched closer until their sweaty thighs stick together. “I was asking whether if your man satisfied you enough.” he repeated in English, putting a suggestive hand on Will’s knee.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Will snapped, brushing him away only to have his hand caught by the man’s much larger one.

 

“Your mad dog.” The man glanced out of the glass door towards Nigel’s tattooed back that was resting against the edge of the communal tub. Will paled. Of course people thought that they were involved. How else would they interpret after Nigel’s little show?

 

“You’re a daring little thing, looking for other men after he just fought for you.” The man purred, taking advantage of Will’s dazed state to pull him closer. “Or is that what he’s interested in, hm? He likes to watch his boy take it from strangers?” He reached over, sliding his hand over Will’s sweat laden thigh, cradling his limp cock.

 

The phantom taste of his blood ghosted over his tongue, and Will could see himself shoving the hot coals down this stranger’s throat. “You have three seconds to take your hands off before I wreck your face myself.” Will said in a tone that could never be mistaken as playful flirting.

 

“Go.” Will snapped, slapping his hand away and turning to face the hot coals, dripping even more water while clutching the ladle like a weapon. The man’s face turned pale and ugly. He abruptly stood up and began spewing something vile in Romanian as he scurried away. Will sighed, splashing more water to raise the temperature even further.

 

“I would’ve loved to see him choke on those coals.” Hannibal mused out loud. Will hung his head down, unwilling to say anything that might betray his desires.

 

Cool hands came down to cup his cheeks, bringing him relief from the oppressive heat of the room. Will wanted to sob.

 

“Why did you leave me?” He whimpered, leaning further into the touch.

 

“You know why.” Hannibal replied sadly. It was the only time he ever sounded sincere.

 

Will reached up to grasp his hand, but he only found the cool breeze from the crack in the door dancing over his face. Will cursed, and Hannibal laughed, his voice barely audible amongst the hissing coals.

 

***

 

 

A commotion outside broke the warm cocoon of peace Will had wrapped himself in. It was no surprise that it had to do with Nigel. These days it seemed like the man would just explode from the smallest provocations.

 

‘”The gym would help.” Yeah right.’ Will thought victoriously, happy that he can use this to dismiss Nigel’s grueling exercise menu the next time they’re here.

 

What little amusement he gained disappeared upon seeing Nigel’s victim. His face was bleeding beyond recognition, but Will couldreconize his body from a glance. It was that flirtatious stranger, and though Will felt no pity for him, the idea of Nigel being arrested for this was enough to make his heart drop.

 

“Nigel!” Will shouted, throwing the glass door open. Nigel ceased his punishing fist, fingers cracking as he flexed them in contemplation. “Nigel.” Will snapped with the same tone he used on misbehaving dogs. “Stop it.”

 

“But that fucker- that faggot!” He threw the man onto the ground, spitting on him. He turned his eyes towards Will, his marron eyes so dark it looked like solid black.

 

Nigel marched over to him in all his glorious nakedness, turning his savage hand onto Will. “Where did he touch you?” He asked, frenzied with jealousy.

 

“Does it matter where? I turned him down Nigel. I told you, I’m not interested in men.” Will said shoving the dangerous man away. He hated seeing Nigel like this, reduced to a beast that was his namesake.

 

As if he could hear his thoughts, Nigel snarled out something unrecognizable, reaching for Will once more. “What are you doing Nigel?” Will said, easily side stepping Nigel’s grasping hands. This only served to aggravate the man even more. “Come now. I won’t talk to you when you’re like this.”  Will said, and he didn’t even have to fake the disappointment in his voice for it to be true.

 

That was enough to stop Nigel’s advances, but it did nothing to quell the anger he held close to his heart.

 

“Why do you always stop me from punching out these sleezebags, huh? Do you actually enjoy the attention, or do you just like seeing me lose my mind over you?”

 

Will recoiled from those words. It seemed like Hannibal wasn’t the only one who can dole out uncomfortable truths. “I don’t like it when people get hurt.” Will said weakly.

 

A strangled laughter echoed through the empty room, an ugly mocking thing that Nigel never directed at Will. “Enough of the fake morality darling. We both know that neither of us cares if any of these pigs lives or die.” Nigel spat as if the words itself was laced with poison.

 

Will winced away, caught in a lie he so desperately wanted to believe.

 

The flash of anguish in Will’s eyes was enough to subdue the roaring tempest deep in his chest. Nigel stepped close, approaching the broken man like one might approach a wounded animal. All he wanted was to comfort, not to harm.

 

“Look,” Nigel sighed, placing his hand on the curve of Will’s neck. “I fucking know you amice, just like you know me. You don’t have to pretend to be good for me. Hell. You are good! This-” he gestured to the whimpering man on the floor. “You don’t have to tolerate shits like him. I don’t have to watch you tolerate shits like him! We’ve gone through enough bullshit to worry about morals or whatever fucked up lies the weak made to protect themselves.” Nigel growled, his whole body trembling with righteous fury.

 

“You, darling…” He whispered with every ounce of love and devotion he could muster. “You’re strong. Just like me. You don’t have to pretend to be weak.”

 

Will shook his head, clutching his towel like it was his last shred of self-control. How he wished he could look up and meet Nigel’s fiery gaze, to unleash the beast inside so they may crash into each other and burn everything in their wake. Its what they deserve. It’s what they needed. It’s what they wanted so desperately.

 

Instead, Will just sadly smiled and said, “Nigel… One of us has to hold back. Otherwise we would burn everything until there is nothing left.”

 

If there was such a thing as the sound of heartbreak, then Nigel was sure it would deafen them both.

 

“Oh darling, don’t you know?” Nigel murmured as he shook his head in disappointment. “Even if the world burn, we will remain. There will always be us. Isn’t that enough?”

 

***

 

 

Silence fell as the bloodied stranger finally lost his voice and began struggling quietly. Nigel left the two alone, disappearing to the shower under the guise of cleaning off what little blood he had on him. Will couldn’t blame him for wanting to go away. Even he was disgusted at his earlier show of cowardice.

 

Will sat on the edge of the tub, watching the man like one might watch a passing car. Bored. Indifferent. Nigel was right. Will felt nothing but indignant disdain. The moment he touched the stranger Will knew that he was weak, and yet he still spared him, letting him escape after he crossed the very boundaries one should never cross.

 

Has he always been like this? Has he always denied his dignity so he may satisfy the opinions of lesser animals? Years of working with Jack were evidence enough, but what made his heart ached was the loss that he suffered as he fought in the name of justice.

 

Abigail. Beverly. Hannibal, gods, Hannibal.

 

He could’ve had them all; a family he craved, a friendship he needed, a partner he loved. Still love. Still miss.

 

Not anymore

 

Will rose from his perch and stalked over to the man on the floor. The stranger saw him looming over him and tried to crawl away, but his broken limbs forced him to the ground, crawling like the cockroach that he was. Will planted his feet on the man’s head, testing the resistance of his battered skull.

 

He must’ve stood there for a long while because when Nigel came to his side, his skin was already cool and dry from his shower. “Will?” the man tentatively called, eyes shinning bright with hope.

 

“I want to…” Will mumbled, looking absolutely ravenous. “I want to be strong.”

 

“You’re already are.” Nigel whispered. He planted his feet firmly into the whimpering man’s back, holding him in place as he takes Will’s hand into his own. “Step up darling.” Nigel whispered, his voice low and sensual.

 

Will smiled shyly and did as he was told, stepping onto the man’s skull until he was standing completely on him. He could feel the man struggling beneath his sole, his breath tickling his toes, his teeth digging into his heel. Will shivered. He felt alive.

 

“Can I?” He asked, the question so innocent it made Nigel’s insides twist up in both horrible and wonderful ways.

 

“Go ahead.” Nigel replied, anticipation coiling in his stomach like a snake ready to bite. Wills eyes lit up and he jumped.

 

For a split second he looked like a cherub, ageless in his joy with a crown of curls bounding around his head. How he wished he could take the man’s place and be under Will’s feet, to receive the joyous brutality that would finally release him from his worldly shackles.

 

Then the second of levity ended and Will landed down with a great big stomp, sending chunks of brain, blood, and bones splattering against the tile floor.  Nigel let go of the breath that he didn’t know that he was holding, eyes closing with a shiver.

 

Nothing could compare to the pleasure of being in the presence of real beauty; not a fresh kill, an orgasm, or a chemical high you can inject. This was short of touching the divine, and Nigel counted himself lucky to have witnessed Will’s liberation.

 

“You fucking crazy American.” Nigel stared at him in wonder. Will covered his lips to hide a smile, but it broke into a giggle, an effervescent sound that cuts through the sticky mess on their feet. Nigel scoffed and joined him in his laughter, catching the man when he slipped on the floor. Will leaned deeply into him, his touch holding no more reservations. He felt so right in his arms like this, hard muscles and all.

 

Where a woman’s curve might spurred Nigel cock, Will’s laughter made his soul ache for worship. There’s nothing that would make him happier than to spend his days in supplication, to luxuriate under this creature’s attention, to find purpose in the veneration of his beauty.

 

It didn’t matter that Will was a man. His beauty transcended logic and convention, his violence captivated him like a cornered prey, and his touch sealed his fate as a pilgrim, forever chasing after the divine spark that lived in Will’s every breath.

 

“Thank you Nigel.” Will gushed, and those simple words devastated Nigel to his very core.

 

“Oh god. I’m so fucked.” He muttered, his face turning pale.

 

“Why?” Will asked, his eyes lucid and playful. Nigel didn’t answer. He couldn’t. He was in love.

 

 

***

Chapter Text

 

 

“Come on, lets get you cleaned up.” Nigel mumbled, pushing Will into one of the shower stalls. His hands remained steady, betraying nothing of the silent war waging inside him. This is neither the time nor the place to show weakness. Nigel must be strong, at least for today. This new creature can certainly smell the unease dripping from his skin, and it will not hesitate to make a meal out of him.

 

Out of the edge of his eyes Nigel spied the advance of two men. Bouncers, probably alerted by the panicked cries of their most prestigious guests. They stopped on the end of the hall, their jaw unhinged in terror and shock. One man stuttered out a curse, while the other remained petrified in place, unable to look away from the gore splattered floor.

 

Like a shark sensing a wounded prey, Will turned his head towards their direction, eyes shinning bright at the thought of people stepping into the sacrosanct moment they shared. Will know that he’s a solitary creature, but the idea of showing off his kill made his heart pound in excitement. Maybe if they proved unworthy Will could stomp their heads in too. The thought filled him with such pleasure that Will abandoned Nigel’s arms began walking up towards the men, waving and smiling charmingly.

 

“Inside.” Nigel growled as soon as he saw the dangerous gleam reflected in Will’s  eyes. Disappointed but not surprised, Will let himself be led into a shower stall, out of the line of sight of the two poor lambs.

 

Might as well let them go. Will hungered for a worthier prey, one with claws and teeth that could properly challenge and titillate him. The one prowling outside was more than worthy of that honor.

 

He settled on the small ledge under the showerhead, happy to wriggle his toes but making zero effort to clean himself. Will felt at peace, like a newly married groom who just stomped on glass at his own wedding. His cup, however, was made of blood and bones, and the covenant he uttered was one more sacred that than the vows of matrimony.

 

‘From this day forward, I shall never deny myself my natural inclinations. I shall suffer no indignity, For better or for worse, come hell or high water, till death rend my body apart.’

 

His body was alive, thrumming with the rush of power from his kill. Will was completely lucid, his mind empty of the influences of his past lives. When guilt entered his mind, it glided out of sight like raindrops on a lotus leaf. Will has blossomed, out of the muck of the water that threatened to conquer him,Will prevailed, and he felt pure and beautiful.

 

“I’m not hearing running water.” Nigel called out impatiently, apparently finished dealing with the distraught men. Will heard the shuffling of two feet, and he was once again left alone with Nigel.

 

“I already took a shower.”

 

“You have grey matter between your toes. Go take another.”

 

“No.”

 

“Will-“

 

“Make me.”

 

Silence filled the air and was instantly broken only by a playful giggle.

 

“You little shit.” Nigel growled, slamming the door open and regretting it immediately.

 

Will park himself beneath the showerhead, his blood stained legs sprawled out on the floor, all slender and strong. His body was bare except for the towel hanging over one thigh. It barely covered his groin, and it shifted with Will’s every breath.

 

Crafty hands secured the towel just as it was about to fall, bunching it together to cover the visible plump of his cock. While it may conceal the organ away from sight, the rise of the towel all but revealed the milky underside of his inner thighs. The very sight of them filled Nigel with such vulgar thoughts that he felt just as lecherous as the pig he helped Will kill.

 

At that very moment Nigel felt like a cornered rabbit. Will was the predator, biding his time as he toyed with Nigel’s instinct, prodding him this way and that way just to see how much Nigel could take before he would break.

 

“Well?” he challenged petulantly. Knowing Nigel, he would either run away or shamefully masturbate his frustrations, or he will rush in and consume Will like he always wanted to. Either way, Will was curious to see what would happen.

 

Much to his surprise the man closed the stall door and dropped onto his knees. His face was obviously red and his eyes are uncharacteristically shifty and nervous. Yet he chose to act outside of Will’s field of expectations, and Will couldn’t decide if he done it out of prideful ignorance or purposeful desire.

 

“If you drop that towel then I’m going to punch the shit out of you.” he growled dangerously, and it made Will smiled in delight.

 

Nigel never disappointed him before, and he was glad that he didn’t start now.

 

The grip of his hands was like rock, hard and unyielding, but it drew out a delighted yelp out of Will’s throat nonetheless. He let his ankle be pulled, sagging lower in his little enclave like a plate of mouthwatering morsel, tempting anyone who saw him to bite. He held onto the many knobs for purchase, just enough to help him plant one dirty feet against Nigel’s chest.

 

He grinned and tilted his head, waiting for Nigel to respond. He no longer resembled the small twitchy man that just screamed for Nigel’s protection. Will was now a king, allowing his servant the honor of touching greatness.

 

Nigel didn’t feel honored. He just felt… hard.

 

“Are you fucking with me darling?” the man muttered in exasperation.

 

“Just a bit.” Will replied airily. He ran his foot from one pectoral muscle to the other, dirtying Nigel up before crossing his leg arrogantly.  “You look good in red Nigel.” He drawled, smiling like a king in approval of his loyal vassal.

 

Nigel kept his mouth firmly sealed, for if he as much as gasped, the words of worship welling up inside of him will spill forth. If he cursed, it would betray his desire to lick the filth away from this beautiful creature. If he so much as met those intense blue eyes, Nigel would surely unravel into nothingness.

 

So instead he focused on spraying the remnants of blood and brain away, finding comfort in the mundane task and new torture at the sight of Will’s beautifully arched feet. Eventually nothing remained but a fatty slick that tinged Will’s skin, sodden with the scent of tallow and musk. The thought of another man’s scent marking his skin was unforgivable to Nigel. He almost snapped the soap bar into two, and he knew thay Will could read his every move and understand.

 

Angry at the thought of being so transparent, Nigel focused on leathering Will’s feet, scrubbing vigorously until his arms ached from it. The rough ministration drew barks of laughter and light complaints out of Will’s lips, his sensitive feet wringing against the slippery hold of Nigel’s hands.

 

They stilled Nigel’s moving arms, and soon as his hands soften apologetically, a different kind of sound exploded out from those lips, one that sensually caressed Nigel’s cock and made his cock strain with need.

 

Nigel felt trapped, but he continued on bravely. He took his time working in the suds, meticulously sliding between each toe to rub the fatty slick off Will’s skin. It was an innocent act of servitude, but Nigel found a certain pleasure of hearing Will’s approving sounds. To his ears it was more erotic that the moans of a harem begging for his cock.

 

Eventually Will too began to move, unable to take Nigel’s gentle stimulation and keeping still. The shift of his body revealed a glimpse of his ass, soft and pale with a line of red from sitting on the edge of the hard surface. Nigel hands turned to steel, pressing hard onto the pressure points of the feet, drawing louder groans out of Will’s lips. “Nigel.” Will gasped, toes curling into the unyielding hands.

 

Nigel dropped his gaze further and focused on spraying away the suds. Nigel.” Will called out, but Nigel didn’t dare raise his yes. “Nigel.” Will called out again, and the man felt like he’s losing his mind. “Nigel.” Will sighed, and this time Nigel complied, looking up to meet those smoldering eyes.

 

The sight that met him made Nigel wonder if it’s possible to bring a man to orgasm from touching his feet alone.

 

A sliver of tongue darted out to lick cherry bitten lips, daring Nigel with a suggestive raise of an eyebrow. The man wanted nothing more than to ravish him right there, to rip away Will’s last shred of modesty and swallow his hardened length.

 

As if he could sense his thought, Will moaned and parted his knees, giving him access to play out the scene they both wanted so badly to happen. The hard bulge of Will’s erection strained against his towel, staining it with discharge. Nigel eyes turned feral, and he swallowed, dying to taste him. Will parted his legs further, placing his newly washed foot on Nigel’s groin, mere inches away from his erection

 

Out of pure instinct Nigel grabbed Will’s other feet and kissed the line of ligament than run on the top of it. With a hungry groan the man drew a deep breath, nosing behind the beautiful arch to take in the clean scent of his skin. He looked up and met Will’s eyes, and there he saw the same desire that he felt, roaring like a sacrificial pyre.

 

Nigel hands clenched and unclenched, until he finally got a hold of himself and placed Will’s feet on the floor. A few seconds more and he’ll be licking the soles of his feet, and Nigel knew that he could cum just from the act alone.

 

“All done.” he said hoarsely, slowly standing up to tower over Will.

 

The man frowned, drawing his knees together, hands reaching behind his towel to press down on his erection. It was debauchery at its finest, and it took every ounce of Nigel’s willpower to turn around and leave.

 

He rushed over to the next stall, punishing himself with a spray of ice cold water. His erection stayed up, stubbornly hot against the stabbing cold rain. The opaque glass to his left betrayed Will’s silhouette, still sprawled out like a king, only this time the shadow of his hand was working up and down the length of his very erect cock.

 

“Nigel.” he moaned. Nigel answered with a curse, taking his own unflagging erection, stroking roughly as he watched Will’s hip rising up to fuck his length into the slickness of his tight fist.

 

Within seconds he came all over his hands, and the force of it made Nigel stumble onto the ground, staring helplessly at the undulating shadows.

 

Will’s movement stilled, as if he could sense Nigel’s release. Like a hungry animal Will began to stand up, his shadow imposing and erotic. He placed a wet hand against the opaque partition, leaning his forehead against it as he groaned and sagged against the divider. “Nigel!” Will cried, splattering his release against the glass with an anguished cry.

 

Nigel cursed and reached for his cock again, desperate to wring out another orgasm from his oversensitive cock. Will’s heaving figure stilled, listening to the strangled moans that started anew.

 

With a chuckle Will’s shadow unfurled and slid his hand down the glass, smearing blobs of his discharge against the glass. Nigel let out a whimper, and Will laughed again, exiting the stall, leaving Nigel to chase after his own release as he stared at the smear of his semen from the other side of the partition.

 

 

**

 

Neither men spoke as they made their way back to the changing room. The air was heavy with quiet stillness, and it trembled with the mere exhale of their breath. There were an infinite number of syllables they can use, three languages shared between them, but no combinations of vowels and consonant could ever break the heavy silence without breaking them along with it.

 

So they remained silent, Nigel out of shame and Will in thoughtful respect. 

 

Will took out his clothes and waited outside, generously giving the room for Nigel to use. When the larger man stumbled, Will’s hand catching him at his elbows, an innocent touch meant only to steady him. The touch felt like heaven’s reckoning crashing down on him. It was as if thunder had stuck and scorched his very fingerprints into Nigel’s pores, and it unnerved and aroused him beyond belief.

 

Without much thought of consideration, Nigel recoiled away, eyes trained on the ground.

 

They both performed the perfunctory action of dressing themselves with differing amounts of success. Nigel struggled to even button his shirt. On the other side of the curtain Will completed his task with surprising efficiency, sparing enough time to comb out his hair and polish his glasses.

 

Will always did enjoy a measure of clarity after his orgasms, and this time it was no different. His mind sharped, focusing on everything at once without the heavy drag of his own emotions. It didn’t take a high level of intelligence to see Nigel’s mixed feelings, but it required a certain detachment from oneself to understand one’s own emotions.

 

Will’s heart was not in the tangled state of mess that Nigel’s was. He understood his own feelings well enough. The desire he felt for Nigel was anything but transient, and seeing him bent over his feet like cemented the desire he had tried so hard to repress.

 

Will wanted Nigel, and he will own every part of him, from his worshipful eyes, his strong body, down to the last inch of his broken soul.

 

 

***

 

Will remained calm and airy as he schemed and plotted his next course of action, happy to wait behind Nigel as the man discussed the exorbitant ‘damages’ they incurred in the VIP room. Nigel haggled and argued with the owner of the gym with surprising ferocity, going so far as slamming his gun onto the glass countertop.

 

The thin slender man behind it accepted Nigel’s abuse with the grace of a seasoned retail worker, unwilling to back down as he held out the six digit invoice towards the very angry Romanian. Afterall, a group of burly men stood behind him, eager to protect their proprietor from harm.

 

At first Will was amused with Nigel’s ability to daisy chain multiple expletives at once, but the colorful language was eventually lost on him as soon as Nigel began to lose his arguments.

 

“We’re leaving Nigel.” Will said firmly into his ear, squeezing Nigel’s shoulder with finality. Nigel froze, but before he could reply Will was already gone, parting the crowd with the sheer force of his gaze alone.

 

His presence was pure magnetism, forcing men away and attracting their gazes close at the same time. They were intrigued by the man who spurred the Mad Dog to fight, and when they saw his confident gait and purposeful eyes, they too felt the stirring of something divine calling for their service.

 

Nigel recognized the dreamlike gazes that some patrons threw at Will, and it was enough to snap him from the haze of humiliation that clouded over his head. He all but threw the heavy bundle of his winnings onto the table, forgoing even his bag so he can run up and catch up to Will.

 

A possessive hand slid on the small of his back, and Nigel made sure to shoulder check anyone who looked at Will with too much interest. He may have complicated feelings for his friend, but Nigel was clear on one thing.

 

He would kill anyone who even dared to proposition Will before he does.

 

A happy chuckle escaped from Will’s lips as Nigel all but growled and snapped at a starry eyed man who waved at Will to get his attention. “Easy boy.” He murmured against the shell of his ear, leaning closer into Nigel’s arm until the man had no other choice but to wrap his hand around his waist.

 

***

 

That night Will climbed into Nigel’s bed and pulled the man’s arm around him. At first Nigel hesitated to even breathe, but as soon as Will fell asleep, he melted against the familiar body and succumbed to a dreamless slumber. He didn’t know that a man like him could experience such peace.

 

As morning came so did their responsibilities. Darko blasted Nigel’s phone, demanding his immediate presence, and for once Nigel was happy to oblige. As beautiful and tempting as Will in the morning was, Nigel was just not ready to face the reality of this new dynamic of theirs. It’s all too much too soon, and so Nigel choose to leave, parting with the warm body while mumbling some half baked excuse about meetings and pallet boxes.

 

Will roused with him but made no more to stop his departure. Even through the heavy veil of sleepiness Will could still read Nigel as easily he would read a book. He was like a feral dog, and one wrong move could spook him back to the wild and out of the comfort of his intended home.

 

Afterall, Will has decided that Nigel belonged there in his arms and nowhere else.

 

He could’ve easily grabbed Nigel’s hand and pulled him back to bed. Will had that power. He knows what words would make the man stay, which gesture would inflame his loins, how softly he should sigh to turn this confused creature into a beast that ruts and nothing more.

 

Seduction was not the issue. Will wanted Nigel to come to him willingly, to choose the pleasure of his company over what archaic prejudice still ruled his reptilian brain. That required temporary separation, and though the thought made him unhappy, Will was willing to wait for him.

 

As days passed, their daily life continued on like it always did and Will fell back to his usual routine, dividing his time between taking care of Kefir and teaching at the university. They were pleasant distractions from Nigel’s absence, but Will’s focus remained unchanged. Though days passed his desire for the man has not waned, and Will remained confident that Nigel would eventually came to him, starved for attention and brimming with need.

 

***

 

There’s not a lot of things that a man like Nigel feared, but from the way he’s been avoiding Will anyone would think that he was in fact afraid of the fragile looking American.

 

It’s not fear in the traditional sense, but his body reacted to thoughts of Will like a dying man reacts to death. The longing he felt was even painful at times, rendering him useless to do anything but to brood and lament over his absence.

 

So he busied himself with as much inane meetings as he could. Darko was ecstatic, happy to help him disappear under back to back meetings with contractors and corrupt politician. It’s soul crushing work for a man like Nigel, and the highlight of his day was when he could lock himself in his office, signing off contracts for his dummy company while daydreaming about Will’s tender body.

 

He would always stumble home past midnight and slept till noon, avoiding Will as much as possible. No matter how much he tried to lie to himself, the act still felt cheap and cowardly. As he walked into his quiet apartment, the silence of his home seemed to judge him for his weakness.

 

Though painful, Nigel was glad that Will made no move to contact him. They may share living spaces, but they kept to themselves, honoring the nonexistent lines that has separated their previously intertwined lives.

 

He erected those borders, and Nigel knew that when the time comes, he will have to be the to reach out first. Will was never one to intrude on a limit he erected. Afterall, he’s been nothing but a good guest, respecting Nigel in a way that others just won’t.

 

For now, he remained safely on his lonely territory, plagued by shame, anger, and the torturous memory that would render him erect and useless until he wrung out a painful orgasm from his body.

 

It didn’t help that Will was leaving plates of home cooked meals for him. Every single night Nigel would come home and find a neatly wrapped plate sitting on his kitchen counter. He could imagine Will standing in front of the stove, feet bare with only Kefir for company, eating his dinner alone with the table set for two.

 

No matter how full he was that night, Nigel would always devour what was left on the plate for him, because more than the anguish and shame of separation, he could never bear wasting Will’s love away.

 

**

 

The sight of an empty plate on the sink would always manage to make Will smile. It was their only method of communication; one full plate at night, one empty one in the morning. Considering the tenuous state of their nonexistent relationship, it was a good sign, like budding flowers in the end of a cold winter.

 

As ravenous of a beast he was, Will was content, that is until one day he found the plate of food still sitting on the counter, neatly wrapped and untouched.

 

The man didn’t come home that night, and to Will, that was unforgivable.

 

Nigel’s absence may have denied them their physical needs, but their spirit remained, sustained by the sole exchange of meals that started and ended their  separate day. It was a sign of goodwill, a promise that one day they will again share a meal together.

 

Neglecting that exchange was akin to an act of war, and Will was curious what event drove Nigel to commit such atrocity.

 

A quick phone call to a very excitable Yerni was enough to confirm that Nigel did not spend the night at the office or the warehouse. There is only one place in Bucharest that a man as notorious as Nigel could comfortably sleep in, and a hotel is not one of them.

 

Clearly Will made a miscalculation. He thought their lack of contact would drive Nigel to action. Instead he has sought comfort in other ways, most likely in the halls of his favorite brothel.

 

“And just when I thought you had potential Nigel.” Will sighed sadly, surprised at how much this event has shaken him.

 

He sunk his fingers into Kefir’s fur, letting the dog comfort and settle his own raging beast. Murder was the first thing that came into mind, more specifically one staged in Nigel’s favorite whorehouse.

 

Will was halfway out the door before the rational parts of his brain stopped him. Sure, a massacre or two might make him feel better, but a man like Nigel wouldn’t blink twice at the sight of blood. There are more elegant ways to punish the man, ones that could both break and spur him into action.

 

In his eagerness to give Nigel his space, Will forgot one fundamental thing. Nigel only understood violence. He may think he need a gentle balm to calm his chaotic life, but his mother tongue was one of unrelenting force and unquenchable passion. It was what that drew him to Will in the first place, and it will be the very thing that would bring them back together.

 

He thought that he could gently ease the man into these new uncharted waters. Instead Nigel scurried back to the barren land if fear of the lapping waves. If he would not come willingly, then Will was more than happy to drag Nigel down and drown him in his love.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Mmm baby that was soo good!”

“This was nothing. He used to book everyone out every weekend and go through us one by one. You heard me Nigel. Used to.”

“Did you make up with your wife? Is that why you’ve been away for so long?”

“Oh my god Elena, you can’t just ask a John about his wife like that!”

“But he’s not a John. He’s Nigel!”

 

The four women bickered and tittered amongst themselves, barely acknowledging Nigel’s presence. Other clients preferred the girls placid and sweet, expecting them to lavish fake affections during their post coital cuddles. Nigel wanted none of that. He was only here to ease his persistent arousal, and for once, the girls was glad for his undemanding presence.

 

Before he met Gabi, Nigel used to be a regular in this very establishment. He preferred sleeping here than the accommodation his employers provided. He was too paranoid of being stabbed in in sleep, but amongst the soft bodies of the gentler sex, Nigel felt safe. No one would cause a ruckus in this whorehouse, not when they would risk killing off a powerful man’s favorite prostitute.

 

Seeing them again filled him with a nostalgic sense of safety. The girls who he used to buy welcomed him with open arms. It’s strange how despite the passing years they all remained the same; strong, tenacious, and subtly domineering in a way that only working girls could be.

 

As comforting as their company was, the relentless chatter was beginning to get on his nerves. Just one prattling mouth was bad enough, add three more and the small room began to feel like a rowdy Sunday market. He groaned and rubbed his tense brows. This is why Nigel hated orgies in the first place.

 

Tired of hearing them argue about which Italian soap opera was superior, the man untangled himself from their limbs and grabbed his smokes. The girls made some halfhearted whines, protesting the loss of his body in thinly veiled disappointment. For a few minutes they let him be, leaving Nigel to the blissful silence of the brothel balcony.

 

“You’re not angry are you baby?” the girl they call Elena stood joined him, pushing her shapely breasts up against his arms. Nigel just grunted and shrugged her off, her sweet voice too practiced and saccharine for his taste. Oblivious to his distaste she continued. “It’s okay. Every John talks about their wife eventually. We can be good listener you know.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. She’s as good as dead to me.” Nigel said without it’s usual bite or sadness. How very strange that he could talk about Gabi without flying into a fit of rage. She felt like a distant dream, a rumor from a stranger recounted to him in vague details. His mind was occupied with someone else, one that he has tried and failed to forget all night long.

 

Despite his silence, the girl remained close, shuffling her feet and batting her lashes. Her friends peered from behind her, their eyes bright with expectant looks. Nigel rolled his eyes.

 

“Go on, enjoy yourselves then.” He grunted, throwing her a generous sachet of cocaine, a treat he used to lavish on his favorite girls. Delightful squeals exploded from eager lips, and four pouty mouths peppered his cheeks with kisses before finally leaving him in peace.

 

In another life Nigel would’ve happily joined them, making a game out of cutting lines of powder onto his erect cock. He’d challenge the girls to snort it all in one go. Much to his delight they would often fail, blaming his lengthy cock while licking up the remnants of the power.

 

He missed those simpler times, where his wants and needs remained base and easily satisfied. Nigel knew nothing of jealousy or obsession back then. He belonged only to himself, untouched by the joy and sorrows of love, content but unfulfilled.

 

Today he stood a changed man, calmer than his youthful counterpart, but still none the wiser. Nigel thought he knew what love was, yet here he was, ordering an orgy he didn’t want to ease the familiar pain of separation. What he thought was a passing fancy grew into an intense monstrosity, dwarfing even the affections he once held for his life.

 

“Fuck.” Nigel whispered. “FUCK.” He shouted, scattering a group of pigeons nesting on the roof. He hated them.

 

His phone rang, stilling his raging heart. Nigel brought the phone up with a shaky hand, expecting Will’s name on the screen. Instead he just found Darko’s number, flashing obnoxiously. Unimpressed, Nigel threw his phone off the balcony and marched back into the room, knowing full well that he’s expected in one of Darko’s inane meetings.

 

Past the tangle of girls grinding down onto each other, Nigel caught a glimpse of his reflection. He looked drained, not the happy way that most people looked like when they exited a whorehouse, but the way that a dogs looked when they’ve been deprived of human affection.

 

The girls turned to him, unnerved at this agitated state, but with practiced smiles and honeyed words they called him back to bed. They were all soft and doped up, perfect for him to use roughly, a vessel of his pain. Yet the thought held no appeal to him. He only had Will on his mind, constantly plaguing him with his beautiful eyes and sensual groans.

 

Despite their best effort to lure him back for an extra hour, Nigel only stayed to shower and dressed. To placate their disappointed looks, he left another sachet of cocaine on the nightstand. The girls thanked him with gentle kisses, but Nigel jaws did not soften.

 

Even his old friends could not sate his new desires. He was like a sailor lost at sea, slaking his thirst with saltwater. To continue on was to court death, and Nigel was not ready to meet him, not when he finally found someone to hold and treasure.

 

**

 

Will stood on the edge of the university soccer field, soaking in the savagery of the crowd. He imagined standing in the famed Roman Colosseum, where the gladiators not only battled each other but also the beast that lived in the crowd itself. Outside of the arena one could be the strongest warrior in all of the lands, but until they learn how to tame the illusive monster, they would always fall prey to it’s petrifying gaze.

 

Today blood sports no longer exist, but the beast remained, just as uncontrollable as the one that existed in ancient times. One boy stood in the middle of the field, an expert at rallying thousands to his cause. On one side the crowd booed and cursed at him. The other roared their support with deafening cheers. A referee came in front of him and held up a card. Red, and the stadium exploded into chaos.

 

It’s no secret that most soccer players would tumble and fake injuries for a penalty kick. It’s a harmless exploit that has become the norm in modern soccer, but apparently this young man didn’t take kindly to be accused of something he did not do. So he took matters into his own hand and turned his aggression outwards, punching the man’s face until his deceitful lips stilled.

 

As cathartic as the act was, it was simply not something normal people do in polite society.

 

Unrepentant and wild, the young man stalked over to his bench, hounded by his furious coach. His teammates glared at him, even the towel boys dared to shoot a dirty look at him, yet the young man remained defiant, unshaken by the judgment of others. Will saw him for what he was, a proud wolf amongst sheep, and he would not cower under their fearful bleating.

 

As if he could hear his thought, the young man’s eyes snapped up and fix itself onto Will’s piercing gaze. The man replied with a smile of his own, greeting him with a wave. Amidst the relentless crowd of people, Will must’ve looked like a statue come to life, a visage of a deity honoring him with a serene smile and a friendly wave. I see you. His smile said, endeared at the wild animal that so many people has shunned away.

 

Unexpectedly the snarl melted off his face and was replaced with a virginal blush. Will raised his eyebrow in mild surprise, and even then the gesture was enough to make the man hung his head between his knees.

 

He thought that Nigel was the only one susceptible to his charms. Hell, Will thought he didn’t have any charm until Nigel began gushing and fawning over him. Was it always been this easy to flirt? Or was his charm only limited towards people with a penchant for violence?

 

The thought didn’t linger long as Will began contemplating his departure. The stadium is steadily growing hotter in temperature, and after the show of violence of the shy young man, Will was sure that nothing else of note would happen. He only came along to honor the dean’s personal invitation, but now that the man is nowhere to be seen, Will was eager to get home to the company of his dog.

 

Before he could gather his coat and leave, the young man stood up and approached him. He ignored the clamoring crowds and joined Will, climbing up the railings that separated the VIP section from the masses. “Smoke?” he asked, offering Will a soft pack of cigarette.

 

Will accepted it graciously, curious at what this delightful little creature has in store for him.

 

The smoked together in silence, the handsome young man pretending to watch the game while Will openly studied his face. He was the ideal picture of Aryan beauty, with his blond hair, grey eyes, and a robust body perfectly suited to defend the fatherland. The odd coloring of his eyes made him seemed cold and emotionless, but Will knew that he was as passionate as others, even more. He just grew up learning to hide them well from the judgment of others.

 

Will’s intense scrutiny made the young man smoke his cigarette too fast, and within minutes he was already fumbling around for a second one. Just as he brought his lighter to light up his new cigarette, a strong wind turned towards them and extinguished the flickering flame.

 

Sensing an opportunity to toy with the youth, Will leaned over, pressing the red ember of his own cigarette against his unlit one. He slid a claiming hand onto the back of the young man’s neck, feeling the wet edges of his sweat-slicked hair, barely caressing him. The blond shivered under his touch, but he didn’t look away, baring his soul for Will to see, and what the man saw pleased him greatly.

 

“With that temper of yours should consider playing hockey instead.” Will murmured, trailing his hand from his nape down to his chest. “At least there they’ll tolerate a fight or two.”

 

The young man scowled, pretending to balk at Will’s touch. “You wouldn’t want me in a brawl professor. I wouldn’t know when to stop.” He said almost proudly. “Michael Stoica.” The blond said by way of introduction, offering his hand for the older man to shake.

 

Will considered his proffered hand and let it hang awkwardly, watching in amusement as young Michael was torn between keeping it up or retreating in defeat.

 

“I know who you are Mr. Stoica.” Will finally said. “I see your name in my class list but you neither observe nor participate. You mostly sleep through it, correct?”

 

The accusation made young Michael firget in his spot. “Would you like me to apologize?”

 

“Only if it’s sincere.” Will countered.

 

“Then I won’t.” Michael shrugged, inching closer to his professor. Will laughed and didn’t step away, delighted by his refreshing brazenness. “If you like, I can make it up to you in other ways, sir?”

 

“Oh? And just how would you do that?”

 

“Dinner, professor. Let me take you out.”

 

Will leaned back, pretending to look disconcerted by the suggestion. “Fraternizing with students is frowned upon Mr. Stoica. The Dean was very clear on that issue.”

 

“Please, call me Michael.” He said, taking a step closer to Will. “The university has no official rules regarding student-faculty relationship. Oh, they’ll pretend to be concerned, but no one really cares if a student fucks a professor.”

 

“I see. Are you assuming the student will be the one doing the fucking then Mr. Stoica? My, what presumptive young man.” Will answered, letting Michael suffer under the heavy gaze of his judgmental stare. The young man looked away again, wondering if he had indeed messed up his chances.

 

Feeling generous and merciful, Will finally said his name out loud. “Michael.” He murmured, rolling each syllables in a sensuous sigh. The young man looked up, eyes full of lust and hope. “You shouldn’t proposition older men like that, especially not your teacher.” Will continued with a tone he reserved for his well-behaved dogs.

 

“.. but sir, I-” Michael frowned, a small whine buried on the back of his throat.  He was clearly not used to rejections. Will chuckled and reached out to smooth a wrinkle in his jacket, teasing him a taste of an intimate touch. “Sir?” Michael asked, wetting his dry lips nervously.

 

If he haven’t got a certain Romanian to pursue then Will would certainly take him to bed. Alas, no matter how tempting this wonderful young man was, Will isn’t the type to stray away from his conquest.

 

“I’ll see you in class Mr. Stoica.” He said in lieu of a goodbye, watching Michael’s face crumble into despair before turning around and walking away.

 

Just as he entered the tunnel that leads out of the stadium, heavy footsteps fell in behind him. “I don’t care that you’re older than I am, or that you’re my professor.” Michael called out, his voice echoing through the shaft. “I think you’re beautiful sir, even more so when you’re in red.”

 

Will stilled, turning around, no longer amused at the implication of Michael’s words. The young man groaned, stirred by the sight of those murderous eyes zeroing on him. He steps closer, unafraid, excited even, and pulled Will’s arm close so he could whisper softly into his ears.

 

“I was there when you stepped on that man’s head sir. I’ve never seen anyone looks so…” He moaned, closing his eyes to relive the moment. “Free.” He said out loud. Every single cell in his body screamed at him to kiss the older man’s pouty lips, but Michael controlled himself and stepped away. He respected his professor too much to molest him like that. “You looked beautiful covered in blood like that.”

 

Will stared at the boy with an unreadable look on his face. There was no malice reflected in his light eyes, only pure and expectant excitement, like a child waiting to be praised. “I think we would look good in red together.” The blond added quietly, too embarrassed at the thought to speak above a trembling whisper.

 

They stared at each other, Michael counting the seconds until Will’s eyes finally softened back into his gentle gaze.

 

“You said something about Dinner Mr. Stoica?” Will beamed. Michael let out the breath he held, laughing in relief. Embolden by his teacher’s approval, the blond offered his hand again. This time Will took it, only so he could witness the sheer joy spreading onto Michael’s devilishly handsome face.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

When the unassuming youth made good on his promise, Will had expected to walk into a squalid pizzeria, not a trendy little bistro where he stood out in his tweed jacket and thick reading glasses. His whole ensemble reeks of dusty books and academia, and this place is not where people like him belonged.

 

He found Michael sitting on a corner table, fashionably dressed like the rest of the patrons He looked nothing like the wild child Will saw rampaging in the field. Gone was the slovenly student who sleeps through his class and uses textbooks as pillows. He sat there, calm and in control, looking almost adult-like, but only in a way that naughty children look like when they’re pretending to be good.

 

Despite the charming air around his faintly disguised nervousness, there was nothing childlike in the way Michael’s eyes widened at the sight of Will. He rose up, greeting his teacher with a smile, pulling his chair out for him like a perfect gentleman.

 

“Thank you Mr. Stoica, that’s very kind of you.” Will smiled, graciously praising the boy for his good behavior.

 

Michael looked unhappy at the name. “I thought we agreed on calling me by my first name?” He asked, almost demanded.

 

“Only if you’re good.” Will chided, purposely avoiding his eyes in favor of reading the pretentiously sparse menu. That small challenge was enough to replace the anxious look in Michael’s eyes with something passionate and alive.

 

“I’ll try my best sir.” Michael gushed, waving to a waiter to prattle off his order.

 

Just mere days ago being in such an upscale place would’ve unsettled Will. Gluttony and excess was never his vices, and indulging in them often felt like indulging in his weakness. Now Will merely took off his jacket and straightened his shirt, adapting to his surrounding with a quick flourish that one could mistake for magic.

 

Michael didn’t even try to hide his admiration. “You look wonderful tonight.” He smiled, abandoning his beer to drink deeply in his beautiful sight. Will smiled and inclined his head, keeping his cool even after the young man brazenly reached over to take off his glasses. “Absolutely beautiful.” He gushed, grazing a thumb over his cheek.

 

Swallowing the urge to teach the boy a lesson by plucking his eyes out, Will merely replied with a quick smile, opting to find solace in his pocket, where a worn handle of Nigel’s hunting knife currently sits.

 

***

 

Extracting someone’s eyes out without killing them required skill and finesse, two things that Nigel currently lack in his current state of agitation. The group of seven promising ‘talents’ that he was supposed to train dwindled down to three traumatized little boys, looking pale and shaken from all the atrocities that Nigel’s brutal curriculum entailed.

 

“Keep the fucken nerves attached butterfingers.” Nigel growled, slapping a jumpy little man behind his head, making him drop a newly plucked eyeball. It rolled over to the next chair where another victim sat, eyes still intact, lips moving wordlessly in a futile prayer.

 

“And you, Parkinson’s!” Nigel shouted, making the young man jump and drop his spoon. “Fucken scoop it out already. We don’t have all day.” The man dropped to the ground and reached blinding for the spoon. His hand slammed onto a rouge eyeball, making it squelch under his touch. The man screamed. His hostage screamed. Nigel groaned and buried his face in his hand.

 

Exasperated at pathetic show of cowardice, Nigel grabbed the spoon himself and popped one eyes out like a fisherman shucking a clam. “See? Easy fucken peasy.” He spat, putting the spoon back on the boy’s trembling hands.

 

He moved to the last chair, where his last student remained, sitting on his victim’s lap as he worked on his face. From a distance he looked eager enough, but upon closer inspection Nigel saw that the boy has abandoned precision and grace in favor of brute strength. The small metal spoon was bent out of shape, used as a pick for the boy to chipped away at the man’s skull, prying open his head with a manic laugh.

 

Nigel sneered distastefully, spitting on the ground while making a sign to ward off any bad spirits that the nutso might’ve brought along with him.

 

“Fuck me. What a bunch of useless cunts.” Nigel growled to his own victim, who sat impassively. His face and clothes remained pristine, and if it were not for the eyeballs hanging from two gaping caverns, one might think that he was merely slumbering away. The painful screams taught him that the best course of action is t endure torture quietly or risk being given away to Nigel’s pathetic students. Aside from the terror of having his eyes pulled out of his socket, the man remained fine.

 

“Class seemed to be going well.” Darko said out loud, surveying at the gory room with distaste. Nigel grumbled and began popping his victim’s eyes back in, muttering some nondescript advice to not sell any drugs in his group’s territory.

 

A loud scream cut through their hushed conversations. Parkinson’s boy fell on his back, jabbing out his own eyes with his spoon as his fear drove him insane. “Goddamit Nigel. You broke another one.” Darko sighed, signaling for his men to come in and shut down Nigel’s little workshop.

 

Undisturbed by either Darko’s judgmental glares as well as his men’s fearful eyes, Nigel threw his victim out of his chair and claimed it as his own, lighting up a cigarette as he watched the men exit the room, all in various stages of terror and anguish. Only Darko remained, seemingly impervious to his childhood friend’s casual use of violence.

 

“Why do I fucken bother again?” Nigel sighed out loud, stubbing out his cigarette and throwing it into a puddle of blood. Darko dragged a bloody chair over, turning it to the side so he can sit without making a mess of himself.

 

“Because you promised you wouldn’t retire and leave me without a Mad dog, remember?”

 

“Ah.” Nigel hummed darkly. “Yeah. That.”

 

He could recall the conversation like it was yesterday. It was the night he saw Will struggling in his sleep after he flayed that man in the construction sight.

 

The man fell asleep while Nigel was off filling his bathtub. When he came back, he saw Will sleeping fitfully, sweating through his clothes until their leather couch squeaked from his sweat and smarted his tender skin.

 

Without a second thought, Nigel called Darko and cleared his whole week, holding the dirty man against his chest as he endured Darko’s curses. “Will needs me.” He simply said, and while it didn’t make sense to Darko, to Nigel that was reason enough to drop everything in his life and be at his side.

 

The brief week felt like paradise to him. Never in his short and violent life has Nigel ever felt so useful and good. Before, his hands only knew how to break bones and take lives, but with Will they turned gentle, soft.

 

It’s a miracle that he even took time off. Not even Gabi’s scorn and pleadings were enough to him away from his work. Men like him were defined by the underworld, forever shackled to the dark reality of it’s daily toils. Without it Nigel was nothing. It was his identity, his purpose, his bulwark against the existential knowledge of his own mortality.

 

The moment Will found peace in his arms, Nigel began to consider leaving that life behind. If it’s with Will, Nigel could find a new purpose, one that brings peace to them both instead of pain and violence.

 

Yet here here Nigel was, immersing himself in the very world he had planned to leave, all because he was too cowardly to confess to the very man who made him want to turn away from it in the first place.

 

He’s as much as a coward as Parkinson-boy.

 

Darko watched the myriad of expression flashed through Nigel’s face. It was disconcerting watching someone so capable and confident look so conflicted like that. It made him look like your average Joe off the street, not a fearsome figure of underground myth and legend.

 

“Look amice,” Darko sighed, putting his hand on Nigel’s shoulder’s in an uncharacteristic show of affection. “I don’t mind sending you off on an early retirement. God knows you’ve done enough for us here.  But your reputation is the backbone of our group. Letting you go now would be like walking into war without a sword.”

 

“Yeah. I know.” Nigel sighed. “I’ll train your new pack Mad Dogs Darko. I might be a sadistic bastard but even I won’t leave you all defenseless like that.”

 

Darko nodded. Nigel hummed. They both quietly smoked, aware of the deep bond of brotherhood that tied them together, yet saying nothing to acknowledge it. “Just fucken bring me someone with a backbone, yeah?” Nigel quipped, breaking the companionable silence and making Darko groan.

 

“They were all good boys before you broke them amice.

 

“I don’t need good boys. I need men, and not crazy psychopaths like stabby spoon face back there.”

 

“Right. Like you would approve of anyone I bought. You hate people Nigel. Well, other than that crazy American of yours that is.” Darko scoffed, standing up to dust away the flecks of blood clinging to his pants. “How is Will anyways?”

 

“Fuck off.”

 

“Hey! No need to be a jealous little shithead! I’m just making conversation. I’m not interested in your boy.”

 

“Fuck. Off.” Nigel growled, leaving them both in a tense silence before sighing in defeat.

 

“… I wouldn’t know how he’s doing. I haven’t been home in three days.” The man confessed quietly.

 

“Christ.” Darko winced. “That bad huh?”

 

Nigel couldn’t find it in himself to dignify him with a reply. He just stood up, kicked the chair across the room, and stalked over to the fridge so he can stuff his mouth with yesterday’s leftovers. At least now way he wouldn’t have to talk about Will and how his chest hurts every time he thinks about him.

 

Unperturbed by Nigel’s violent outburst, Darko joined in him in the bare office Nigel recently took over. Before this week the man had no need for such space. He spent the majority of his time either in meetings or in the warehouse, and when he had time to spare, he would rush home to spend it with Will.

 

Nigel ignored Darko looks of pity, peering over his own lunch just to see what the man had to be smug about. His wife had made his lunch for him, a messy sandwich wrapped in clingwrap, accompanied with a post it note filled with sweet nothings.

 

A silly smile softened Darko’s hard-set face, and for a moment he looked nothing like the ruthless businessman who ran Europe’s biggest drug ring. He was just a lovesick fool, taking pictures of his lunch and posting it on some social media account he kept just for his dearest wife.

 

It was sickening to behold, both the look on Darko’s face as well as the wreck of a sandwich his wife made him, and yet Nigel couldn’t help but stare on enviously.

 

“Fuck.” Nigel groaned into his box of cold fried rice, reminded of the many days he missed eating Will’s food. “Fuck!” he shouted, throwing his pathetic lunch into the trashcan across the room.

 

Darko nodded empathically, humming between the messy bites of his horrendous sandwich “Even the worst home cooked meal taste better than takeout amice.” He said, wiping a smear of mayo and chocolate from his cheeks. “Especially when they’re made with love.”

 

**

 

Will had high hopes for the boy, yet as the night progressed Michael has proved himself to be anything but exceptional.

 

Born into privilege and blessed with athletic prowess, the young man floated through life in a haze of vague successes and ennui.  It’s no wonder that he courted danger with such zealous fervor. For people like him, there was no such thing as real consequence. The only thing that mattered to them is the sick games they play to amuse themselves, fodder for stories they can boast to their sycophantic friends.

 

Unfortunately for young Mr. Stoica, Will was not interested in such nonsense.

 

The only reason Will accepted his invitation was to see what manners of blood Michael has shed himself. Instead of a shared secret of hidden crimes, he found himself in a sort of date, fending off a youthful fancy that borders on turning into puppy love.

 

Gone was the gladiator who commanded thousands and caught Will’s attention. What remained here was nothing but a pup with no teeth, daring to walk alongside wolves so he can pretend to be one of them too.

 

Out of politeness Will endured Michael company, listening to him talk of vacations and famous people in a futile attempt to catch his waning attention. By the time they finished their entrée Will has had enough. He excused himself and went to the bathroom, planning to lie in wait and kill the boy for wasting his time.

 

He didn’t expect the young man to rush after him and corner against the bathroom door. Nor did he expect the smothering of smooth lips against his, the boy’s body rubbing up against his like a homeless prostitute desperate for a warm bed.

 

With a firm hand Will steadied the rutting boy, pushing him away by his shoulder and giving him an impassive glare. Michael gasped, leaning again to try and steal another kiss. This time Will hand found his neck, squeezing mercilessly and slamming the young man onto the other side of the stall.

 

Will was not interested in bedding weaklings. He has his own quarry to chase, one much stronger than Michael could ever be, whose submission lit his whole body with trembling need.

 

“Oh. I thought we were…” Michael frowned, adjusting the hardness on his crotch. Will let his mouth twitched in distaste, showing Michael his disapproval without even uttering a single word. “I thought-“ The young man sighed his hands clenching in anger. “I wanted you so bad that I didn’t consider that you might not be- Shit. I’m sorry.”

 

The unexpected confession faded Will’s frown into an indulgent little smile. He was so used to reading Nigel’s expression that he forgot just how disarming an honest confession could be.  Where all of the boy’s other attempts failed, this moment of vulnerable honestly charmed him.

 

Nigel would never come to him and confessed beautifully like this. The man spoke with his body, which Will read with great delight, but there was power in words, and Will wanted nothing more than to hear Nigel’s surrender in his own gravelly voice.

 

But a man can only hold on for so long. If Nigel refused to come and sate his hunger, then Will was more than happy to find substance somewhere else.

 

“We can go if you want.” Michael’s voice broke their long held silence. 

 

Will considered the offer quietly. “Yes, I think we should.” He said to the disappointed young man, holding out the door while looking away, giving the young man time to regain some resemblance of dignity before going out in public.

 

Will paid their exorbitant bill, his hand still holding Michael’s shoulder, both guiding and holding him close. He wasn’t done with the boy yet, and after Hannibal, Will learned not to let his fishes escape him the first time around.

 

They stood together outside, taking shelter from the light shower of rain under the restaurant’s decorated awning. Michael hung his head, a cloud of shame weighing it down. Will, on the other hand, watched Michael with great fascination.

 

It’s terribly amusing to watch wild child tries his best to be civil. Even after his rejection Will could still make out the faint outline of hope in the youth’s stolen glances. Tenacious little boy. Will smiled in approval, watching as the boy quietly struggled to contain his anger, a prince humbled to the ground.

 

Beautiful. Will thought as he witnessed Michael’s surrender, letting a thin veil of restraint silhouette his humiliation.

 

When the last drizzle of rain stopped Will finally broke the heavy silence that hung over them both. “Michael.” He murmured, offering his hand to the young man to take. “Come.”

 

The nervous youth breathed a heavy sigh of relief and quickly rushed over to Will’s side, shivering as a cool hand found it’s place behind his nape. He offered Will a shy smile, looking almost virginal in his blush. Will grinned back, his other hand curling in his pocket, still holding onto Nigel’s folded hunting knife.

 

Not yet. Will chided his own hungry beast.

 

They walked until the scenery changed into one that Will readily recognized. He guided them past the closed cafes and empty grocers, steering the boy to a nondescript apartment building that hid a lavish interior. Upon setting foot inside, Will intentionally nodded at the doorman, a balding man recently added to Nigel’s payroll, a spy to watch him as Nigel cowardly hid from his presence.

 

The doorman looked almost shocked at the sight of Michael. Will gave him a conspiratorial wink for good measure, knowing full well that words of his new guest will soon reach Nigel’s ear, embellished with the torrid details conjured up by the doorman’s overactive imagination.

 

As soon as Will entered their loft, he found himself pushed up against a closed door. Eager lips assaulted his once again, sultry tongue lapping at his tightly set lips, begging for entrance. Confused at the lack of response, Michael pulled away, instantly horrified when he saw Will impassive face.

 

He looked exactly like he did in the restaurant, bored and unimpressed.

 

“Mr. Stoica.” Will said before Michael could babble pathetically. “This is the second time you’ve touched me without permission.” The hand on the young man’s neck turned to iron, subduing the hackles that threatened to rise at his words. “I think that deserves a punishment.”

 

“But why! Don’t you want me? Isn’t that why you’ve invited me up to your place?” Michael shouted, but as quickly as he raised his voice it soon dwindled down to an insecure little whine.

 

Will took pity on the confused boy. With as much tenderness that he could muster, took his hand and caressed Michael’s sharp jawline. Somehow the kind gesture only managed to break the boy down even more.

 

“I do want you Michael, but not like this.” Will said soothingly, but Michael remained crestfallen and bitter.

 

Petulant child.

 

With gentle hands Will guided the young man away from the foyer and bought him to the living room, sitting him down on the luxurious leather couch. When Michael opened his mouth to speak, Will placed a lone finger on his frowning lips, silencing his protest, asking for his trust.

 

“I am not interested in having an affair with you. I don’t have time to play such meaningless games. I respect us both enough not to waste our time in something so… disposable. You see, I want more.” He quietly admitted, closing his eyes as he began to give voice to the dark desires he had stamped down for so long.

 

“I want to own you Michael, I want to possess every part of you and make you mine.”

 

Michael shivered, his body alight with pleasure upon hearing Will’s confession.

 

“But you already own me, sir. Can’t you see how mad you’ve driven me?” Michael pulled Will close, resting his forehead on his shapely thighs. God, even now Michael couldn’t help but be aroused. “I would do anything for you.” He whispered, finally uttering the words Will has been craving to hear.

 

The older man placed a kind hand under his chin and raised it so their eyes could meet. “Even if I ask you to give me you fingers?”

 

“I…Excuse me?”

 

“Your fingers.” Will repeated, caressing those very digits he wanted. “Give them to me Michael.”

 

The quiet demand stunned Michael into silence. He didn’t know how to respond to such unreasonable request.

 

As if he was carrying out something sacred, Will stood up and took out Nigel’s knife, placing it in front of Michael on a bed of neatly folded handkerchief. Michael swallowed, pushing down the instinct to grab the weapon to defend himself. He knows that someone like Will is more than capable to subdue him, that behind his tenderness lies the immeasurable capacity for violence.

 

“It’s okay to be scared.” The man murmured, combing strays of blond hair away from Michael’s shaky eyes. “I assure you that you have no reason to be afraid. The door is unlocked. I am unarmed. You’re free to walk out with your hands intact.”

 

“… but you would prefer that I stay and cut my fingers off for you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why?”

 

“’I think we would look good in red together.’” The young man flinched at the familiar words, just realizing how stupid he was to repeat something a psychopath said to another. “That’s what you told me within ten minutes of our meeting. I’m giving you a chance to prove those words to me, as well the opportunity to make up for your abhorrent behavior tonight.

 

“I won’t force you to do it. I’m not interested in an unwilling body. You can leave and continue on with your life, constantly looking for things to relive your boredom while others vilify you for your nature. Or you can stay, repent, and earn your rightful place next to me.”

 

Michael bowed his head, clutching the very hands that the man demanded for his tribute. Common sense told him to run, and yet Michael couldn’t shake the image of standing next to Will, gloriously crowned in bloody majesty. They would walk amongst men like royalty parting a sea of peasants, elevated not by decree or politics, but from the divine right that death has bestowed upon them.

 

“I do hope you’ll stay Mr. Stoica. I think you would look beautiful in red as well.”

 

Michael gasp, hands trembling, not out of terror of bodily harm, but from the fear of living out a mediocre future. Michael knew that the moment he walked out of that door that his life would continue like it always has, a meaningless struggle to cease his endless boredom, until one day he grows into a jaded old man, rotting from the inside out.

 

It was the most terrifying thing he could ever imagine.

 

Without a second thought Michael grabbed the knife and raised it up high, steeling himself for the blessed pain to come.

 

“No.” Will said, stopping him mid air. “Like this.” The man murmured, guiding the knife with steady hands. “Place it between the groves of your knuckles and slice down. It’ll look prettier that way.”

 

The simple explanation made his limbs feel cold and weak. He was going to do this, he’s going to amputate his fingers for a stranger he just met. It’s insane. It’s beyond reckless. Michael turned to Will, simper and back out like the coward that he was.

 

However as he turned to face his master, Michael found the courage he lacked reflected in Will’s dignified countenance. Where his hands trembled, Will’s remained unyielding and resolute. While his chest pounded with the force of a thousand galloping horses, Will’s heart beat on steadily, as even as a ticking clock.

 

The man was unperturbed, untouched by neither fear nor excitement. He merely existed, as sure as the gods of old as waiting for his sacrifice.

 

Michael trembled with awe, suddenly thankful for all the events that has lead his life to this very moment. He took a deep breath, positioned the blade, and sliced cleanly through his little finger, submitting his pain and pleasure for Will’s satisfaction.

 

“Good boy.” Will grinned, placing his hand on Michael’s nape. The youth sobbed, unabashed and unashamed of his pain, letting the man witnessed him in his bare mortality.

 

Michael looked onto those blue eyes and knew that he wasn’t done, that there was two slights done tonight, and two offerings are needed. He took the knife and repeated the motion, slicing through the smooth cartilage of his ring finger and freeing it from his hand. This time his hand did not trembled. They remained steady, his heartbeat quickly slowing down.

 

Michael felt reborn.

 

Yes. Will smiled, taking his mutilated hand and bringing it up to his lips, anointing it with gentle kisses as he rouged his lips with the blood of passion and youth. He would do nicely.

Chapter Text

The short year he spent with Gabi has made Nigel into an expert at apologies, or at least, an expert at apologizing to his spirited wife. He had his routine down pat, memorized intimately known like he a soldier knows his gun. Chocolate, flowers, wine, and eventually, sex.

 

Even the old lady at the bodega knew about them, for she never failed to tease and prod at him for his unimaginative purchases. Not that Nigel cared much about her little jabs. His old flame’s tastes were simple, and Nigel was very good at convincing himself back into their marital bed.

 

He could still remember how he would come home, exhausted after a job, arms laden with gifts while still smelling like blood and gunpowder. Gabi. It’s me, your husband. I’m sorry that you’re upset about my work. Please open the door darling.

 

Now there he was, wifeless, and still he repeated the same purchase. It’s muscle memory at this point, triggered by guilt and loneliness.

 

Nigel exited the bodega with a bouquet of flowers too big for the door, a bottle of red wine tucked under his arms, and discount chocolates, a choice forced on him by his lack of cash and the store’s unfortunate credit card policy. It took Nigel merely three steps before he saw reason and realized his foolishness.

 

Will was neither a woman nor his wife. He had no use for flowers, no taste for wine, no sweet tooth to ease. To expect forgiveness in exchange for these petty trinkets was foolhardy. Will deserved better. Frankly he deserved the world, but the only thing of value Nigel can only offer up was himself and nothing else.

 

The moment he found a trashcan Nigel unburned himself of all his paltry offerings, leaving them in a heap without a second glance. Nervous yet hopeful, he stepped into his apartment building, bearing no other ammunition but the gun in his pocket and the remorse in his heart.

 

Will. It’s me, Nigel. I’m sorry I didn’t come home. I’m sorry I’m such a spineless coward. I’m sorry I made us suffer this unnecessary separation. You don’t need to open the door darling, just please, forgive me.

 

The more he repeated those words the bearable his guilt became. The idea of meeting Wills eyes no longer seemed like an impossibility, but a relief. Nigel missed those blue eyes of his, the ones that saved him from his own pull of a trigger. It would give him great relief to see them again, even if they were to be clouded in a haze of anger and disappointment.

 

He imagine the myriad of ways Will might react to his sudden reappearance, that is until his doorman approached him with his cap in hand and a nervous look on his face.

 

“Your guest sir, the American.  I don’t know what happen, but he came home with a young man a.. and…-“

 

Nigel recoiled the uncomfortable way the old man fidgets and squirm, a nervous look plastered across his face. It’s the same look that his men gave him whenever they had to fetch him in the brothel and witnessed his various escapades.

 

Suddenly all the guilt and suffering he endured was replaced with a calm sort of rage.

 

Nigel pushed past the bumbling fool and abandoned waiting for the elevator. Instead he wrenched open the door to the stairwell, a humid and dank place only used for emergency purposes. The soggy atmosphere was oddly apt, reflecting the way his mind began to slowly process the implication of the doorman’s report.

 

The man could pretend to be blind and make up with Will regardless. After all, what kind of hypocrite would he be to bar his friend from bedding other people when he did just that? However, Nigel is not a reasonable man, and all he wanted right now is to push his gun into the unfortunate fucker’s mouth and squeeze.

Another version of an apology played in his mind, this time said coldly and without remorse.

 

I’m sorry that I killed your lover Will. You shouldn’t have whored yourself out to strange men like that. You know how crazy I get over you.

 

The exertion of running up the stairs did little to quell his murderous rage, but Nigel didn’t want his anger to go away. It was the only thing he understood about this fucked up situation, and he wield it like he would his gun, a weapon to protect what is his.

 

Nigel kicked the unlocked door open, bending the welded hinges off. “WILL!” He bellowed, flicking the safety off his gun. There was no rush of adrenaline coursing through his veins. Nigel was calm, because to him was no different than barging into a target’s home and killing them quickly, like exterminating pests that has invaded his home.

 

His empty, cold home.

 

Something isn’t right. Nigel thought when nobody answered his call. He rushed up to his bedroom, finding it messily untouched, just like it was when he left three days ago. There was no signs that anyone was ever there. In the kitchen everything was also eerily silent, with only the refrigerator humming monotonously in the corner. The plate of food that Will left out for him sat innocently on the table, covered with a thin film of fuzzy mold.

 

What the fuck. Nigel retched, throwing the plate straight into the trashcan and  rushed out of the place, his anger replaced with a new sense of dread. Will would never leave the place in such a state. He was a good guest, always treating it with more care than Nigel has ever showed. To just leave things like these was not something that aligned with his character.

 

“Will!” Nigel slammed Will’s bedroom door open, his little sanctuary that Nigel never cared to peek into. They spent so much time together that Nigel rarely ever had to seek him out. Now he wished he had done so at least once, for what he saw confounded him beyond belief.

 

The bedroom was bare, Spartan even, devoid of personal effects that a lived in home would have. The bed remained untouched, as pristine as the day Nigel bought it. The wardrobe was empty except for a single spare pillowcase that’s been neatly folded. There wasn’t even a speck of dog hair on any of the furniture.

 

It was as if Will never existed at all.

 

“No fucking way.” Nigel cursed, aiming to comb his hair back but ended up grasping it painfully, as if the sensation would help him hold onto reality. He was not crazy. Will existed. His doorman, Darko, even the fucking pizza guy can attest to that. He merely left, it seemed, like Nigel did all those days ago.

 

At this point he really shouldn’t be surprised, but that very fact hit him like a twisting knife to the gut.

 

He didn’t know how much time had passed, but Nigel stayed in that one spot, a living statue, barely even breathing. He thought of the man he met all those months ago, how his eyes shone with love for another, but continued to look at him with the same sort of gentleness. Nigel knew he wasn’t worthy of them, but he thought he could be better, that he can be a good man for Will so he could forget his past and walk with him into the future.

 

Here he was, months later, stuck in the same predicament that drove him to point his gun at his own head.

 

Just as he reached for the comforting weight of his gun, small sounds mercifully broke through the oppressive silence of the empty house. A rustle of bags, the pitter-patter of four feet, a light whistle.

 

Nigel stood up, his knees aching from when he fell on them in despair. His legs felt like water, barely holding form, but he waded with them anyways until he washed ashore, wrecked by the sight of Will.

 

“Will.” Nigel sighed, dropping the gun he was clutching in his hand. The man looked up, tuff of curls peeking from an armful of groceries, his eyes still as devastatingly beautiful as they were in Florence.

 

“Nigel.” The man sighed, disbelief palpable in every syllable. He put down the mounds of groceries the same way Nigel threw away his gift, then approached him with outstretched arms. Nigel stood and watched the waif of a man glided over to him, finding his rightful place in front of him, cupping the hard-set line of Nigel’s unshaved face.

 

“Why are you crying?” He asked in confusion, wiping away the tears that Nigel didn’t realize was running down his cheeks.

 

When Will turned away to fetch him a napkin, Nigel snapped into a thing of fear and scorn. The idea that they may part, no matter how brief, was distasteful to him. With an iron grip that would leave bruises Nigel grabbed onto the man and pulled him back, slamming their bodies together in violent reunion.

 

A pained moan was exhaled in alarm, but to Nigel’s fevered state it didn’t sound like a protest.

 

It sounded like relief.

 

“You – how fucking dare you leave like that.“ He growled into the curve of Will’s ear, heady with the scent of him. “You think you can just walk away from me like that? Find yourself a new toy you distract yourself? You’re fucking mine.” Nigel pounded, slamming Will’s head against the wall, completely transfixed by the way Will gritted his teeth and endured the pain.

 

Somewhere within the house a picture frame dropped and shattered onto the floor. Kefir barked, confused at the man attacking his master. Will mumbled something incoherently, eyes pleading, but they felt distant and muted. All that Nigel could think of was how fucking good your legs feels around my waist darling. Did you wrap them around your new lover too? Did he have to force them open like I did? Or did you willingly spread yourself for him?

 

“Nigel.” Will called, his voice barely a squeak. Nigel snapped up, ready to eviscerate the man into pieces, to swallow him whole so he may be part of him forever. Will savoured the animalistic glares Nigel sent his way and shivered, slowly nuzzling his forehead against Nigel’s. It was as if he could hear his dangerous thoughts and were delighted by them.

 

“I’m so happy you’re back home.” he murmured, and that small confession was enough to break Nigel all over again.

 

The man slumped forward, devastated by the beautiful way Will welcomed him home.

 

He should be struggling, screaming at Nigel to let him go, but his body was pliant and soft, readily accepted Nigel’s tremors and pain. Confounded, Nigel pulled away, slamming his forehead against the wall over and over again, hoping that his sobs may be buried under the abuse.

 

Will’s hand slipped from his weakened hold, carding it through Nigel’s sweaty locks, soothing the confused animal of a man with gentle sounds. Don’t touch me.  I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve you. Nigel thought, yet he still let the man pulled him close, too weak to resist the relief that Will’s touch always brings.

 

With a defeated whine Nigel fell onto the gentle slope of the man’s neck, nuzzling it, trading the tenderness that they were so cruelly deprived of. Before long the simple touch turned savage. Like a starving animal Nigel grabbed Will’s mess of curls and pulled them harshly, revealing his skin for him to inspect. No bite marks. No bruises. No other scents but the cloying aroma of sweat worked up from his previous stroll.

 

“God.” Nigel hissed. “You make me so fucking crazy darling.”

 

Will smiled, licking the lips that Nigel wanted so badly claim. “I know Nigel.” He replied, nestling into Nigel’s softening grip.

 

Nigel moaned and kissed his neck, pouring out every ounce of love and adoration that he felt for the man, all but worshiping him, begging for penance. Will hummed his approval and reached out, cradling Nigel’s head and pulled him deeper into him. They were both drowning in each other’s violent waves, and neither dared to let go.

 

Without much thought Nigel opened his mouth and nipped his neck, making the man yelp and jump in surprise. Nigel instantly pulled away, horrified by his action. “Will.” He pleaded weakly, an apology perched on his frowning lips.

 

Will shuddered but did nothing to pull away. Instead he gave Nigel a knowing look and pulled his shirt collar down, sending ivory buttons clattering onto the floor. “Go ahead.” He murmured, and Nigel could do nothing but obey.

 

Nigel bowed his head and kissed the spot with cautious reverence. He placed his teeth on the jugular, feeling the pulse of Will’s heart matching his own frantic pace. With one last lick he bit down hard.

 

A piercing scream ripped itself out from Will’s throat, the very vibrations sending jolts of electricity down to Nigel’s teeth. He growled, grinding them together, painfully aware of the noises he elicited from the man under him. Will taste like renewed covenant, and Nigel wanted nothing more than to drink deeply until he was bursting.

 

Instead of pushing him away, Will hands tightened around his head, urging Nigel to bite deeper, to brutalize him further. The gesture sent Nigel to a frenzy, all but mauling the man until he was gulping down his blood in great heaping bouts, painting them both in red.

 

They sank together onto the floor, sticky and drained, but content nonetheless. The wound on Will’s neck throbbed and oozed, savaged beyond what a man would do to another.

 

“Beautiful.” Nigel murmured, eyes roaming across the crimson tide that has washed over them. He leaned down and gingerly pressed his blood stained lips against Will’s, finally sure of himself and where he belonged.

 

He never should’ve have doubted, never should’ve hesitated, and yet despite his many regrets, Nigel could never bring himself to regret the perfect way they’ve come together again.

 

Will moaned into the kiss, opening his mouth and licked at the maw that has consumed him so completely. He kissed him deeper, glutting himself on the taste of victory, savoring the weakened noises that he drew out from this strong, dangerous beast.

 

When they parted to breathe, Nigel was stunned at the sight of Will. He laid there, looking absolutely debauched and regal at the same time. The man bowed his head, kissing his hands, swearing loyalty and devotion into them in his mother tongue.

 

Will smiled, feeling as powerful as a living god, perfectly happy and content in a way that other deities never were.

 

***

 

They spent the night innocently enough, with Nigel tending to his wound and helping him bathe. It was strange to see a man with so little control try his hardest not to ogle him, but it delighted Will nonetheless. Nigel was adorable whenever he’s struggling. It made him want to torment him even more.

 

“Does my body repulse you that much Nigel?” Will teased, lifting his long legs, the very same one that was just wrapped around Nigel’s waist. The man swallowed hard and stared hard at the tiles, enduring Will’s playful splashes that revealed too much of his naked body.

 

“I’m trying my best to be… respectful.”

 

Will chuckled in amusement. He stood up, rising from the water and dripping all over the kneeling man. “I wouldn’t mind if you looked.” He purred.

 

“I dont know if I could hold back…” Nigel growled, already at the limit of his composure. Will laughed and stepped out of the tub, trailing rivulets of water that Nigel would happily lick up and swallow just to get a taste of his skin again.

 

“Towel please.” Will asked, and Nigel’s body obeyed automatically, grabbing the warm fluffy towel and engulfing Will within it.

 

“You’ll be the death of me.” Nigel growled, roughly drying him with a brusque motion Will usually reserved for when he dried down Kefir after his own bath.

 

One by one Nigel began to notice the scars that dotted his beloved slender body. He has a whole collection of them, a menagerie of pain endured in a previous life, a past so dark that it continued to torment him in his dreams. Nigel fist tightened, quietly wondering which scars were Hannibal’s and which were just wounds sustained from living a dangerous life.

 

His eyes landed on the raw wound gaping on the side of Will’s throat, his mark, his claim for the man. The sight of it eased his worried mind, for only his mark screamed of passion. The rest were mere byproduct of an unfortunate life.

 

I will never let you endure such indignity. Nigel quietly vowed. His rough touched soften into gentle caress. Slowly he lead the man out, offering him endless apologies for his violent behavior, murmuring them tenderly into his damp hair, onto his supple skin, against reddened lips that’s Nigel has claimed a thousand times over.

 

Will happily accepted them and gave apologies of his own. He crafted a story where he was attacked and saved by one of his students, how he allowed the boy into their home just so they may wait for the ambulance in safety.

 

Nigel listened, oddly pensive and detached. He was transfixed by Will’s wound. Out of nowhere he abruptly cuts through Will’s little tale and said, “I will never leave you alone ever again darling.”

 

To any other person the promise would’ve sounded too intense for comfort, but to Will it was mas beautiful as a sonnet written out just for him. He quieted down, nodding his approval, caressing Nigel’s determined face to show him just how terribly he missed him.

 

When Will’s eyes began to droop Nigel pulled the man up into his arms carrying him into his bed. “Shh… rest darling.” He hushed, brushing Will’s playful hand away. The man pouted and pulled his sheet down, eager to tease Nigel even in his exhausted state.

 

In all honesty there is nothing that Nigel wanted more than to ravish the man and consumed him whole. Yet as uncontrollable as he was, Nigel was scared of hurting Will. The man has sustained enough pain to last through a lifetime. From now on Nigel wanted to cherish him to make the union of their bodies as pleasurable as when they reunited their souls.

 

So he tucked those outstretched arms under his embrace, pulled the sheet up to his chin, and gently stroked the man’s head, urging him to sleep. Will snorted and complained, his voice incoherent with exhaustion as he ranted about being an adult and refusing bedtimes.

 

Mere seconds later his protest died into a murmur and Will fell right asleep, cherubic in the peacefulness of his slumber. Nigel gently wished him his goodnight and changed into his sweatpants, gingerly climbing into bed so he may comfortably curl himself around his beloved.

 

Everything they did was unhurried and intimate, like the routine of a pair of husbands who understood that they have the rest of their lives to spend together.

 

***

 

The next day Nigel woke up alone in his bed, his stomach lurching as he felt blindly for the man he fought so hardly to find. Only cold tangled sheets greeted his desperate fingers.

 

“Will!” He all but shouted, racing down the stairs that connected his bedroom to the rest of his loft.

 

He found Will in the kitchen, cooking barefoot with his hair mussed up, clad only in Nigel’s oversized shirt and black briefs. “Hey.” He answered, completely focused on the multiple pans he had going on the stove. “Can you take over and stir the hash browns for me? There’s only an hour left before everybody start coming in and I want to get my laundry out of the dryer and change.”

 

While that answered the question of the empty wardrobe in Will’s room, Nigel’s focus was on Will’s neck and his uncovered wound, already scabbing from last night’s abuse. It might just be a delay in his morning wood, but the very sight of it made Nigel’s cock twitch. Never in his life had he ever been so aroused at the sight of a bite mark.

 

“Nigel…” Will laughed, protesting as the man dragged him away from the stove. “Your work brunch-“

 

“Forget about it. I’ll tell them all to fuck off. In fact, no more work brunches. You’ll be spending every Saturday with me instead.” He murmured seductively, rubbing his hardness against Will’s thin briefs.

 

Will moaned and laughed uneasily, knowing full well that Nigel meant every single word of that unreasonable demand. “Shame to waste all this food.” He mumbled.

 

There was nothing Nigel could reply with that seemed appropriate to counter the man’s answer. He looked onto the counter, already laden with the usual breakfast food. It was such a stark difference from last night’s sorry sight.

 

“Sorry.” Nigel said with contrition, a new emotion that Will delights in. It was oddly appropriate to see such submissive emotion juxtaposed onto Nigel’s handsomely belligerent face. It was absolutely delightful.

 

“I was so fucking stupid Will. I should’ve come home after I-” Nigel stuttered to a stop, catching himself before he said something that would break this hard won peace that they had.

 

Yet despite his quick thinking Will could still read the discomfort in the micro twitches of his face. How silly of the man to try and lie to him. Did he not know that he’s an open book to him? The idea that Nigel might keep something from him made the beast inside of him roared in righteous anger, but Will had plenty of practice in reigning his emotions in. He simply smiled and said. “Don’t worry. I didn’t even notice it.”

 

He leaned in a kissed Nigel in forgiveness, hiding the murderous shadow that fell across his face. Oblivious to the change, Nigel instantly melted into his touch; relief so thick that it’s could be felt between the sensual licks of their tongues.

 

Will pulled away, putting a front of a flustered virgin to further enflame the man’s desire. “Stir.” He said, playfully hitting the man’s chest with the end of the wooden spoon, smoothly making his exit while being completely aware of the hungry eyes following his figure.

 

When he was sure that the man decided to stay, Will slipped into the laundry room, pulling out the bag of clean clothes that he never washed from their hiding spot behind the vent. Behind it was Nigel’s knife, rusted with flakes of oxidized blood. Beside it sat a mason jar packed with salt, with Michael’s fingers curing amongst the glittering grains.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

The coming brunch was a welcomed change to the intensity of their newfound affection. While there’s a certain freedom found in expressing what was once forbidden, each tender touch left smoldering tracks that burned deep into their bones.

 

Each time one touched the other, the recipient would answer back with a gentle caress, then with kisses, and nips, then hungry grasps until they both were rutting on every available surface like animals in heat. It was not a situation conducive to normal living by any stretch of the imagination.

 

It was only by the sheer willpower of Will’s mind that they managed to finish cooking at all. Yet no matter how much of a pest Nigel became, Will just couldn’t find it in his heart to send him away, for all of his talks of vengeance and reckoning, Will was as terribly smitten with the man as Nigel was with him.

 

It’s strange to find himself relishing in Nigel’s touches. Even as a child Will never really enjoyed being coddled. Poverty and neglect quickly matured him way too quickly, turning a lonely child into an adult that abhors intimacy. Instead he found strength in isolation, wielding it like an bulwark against the constant assault of minds, donning his armor every time he set out into the world.

 

While his hermitic lifestyle may have kept everyone else in his life away, Nigel came into with his violent affection and stubbornly kept to his side. His love was like a wave, a force of nature constantly assaulting the defenses made to keep out reasonable men. Nigel was never reasonable. He was rude, inconsiderate, loud, and endearing in all of his flaws.

 

Falling in love with the man was inevitable. When he was but a wandering specter, Nigel found Will and graced him with his burning touch, purifying the demons that’s been chasing him. When he was a stuck in a skin of a man who was afraid of his own desires, Nigel showed him his truth, showed him the power inside he knew he had but chosen to forget. It was empowering in the way that made him feel out of control, mad even, but now that he has known him, Will would rather drown in the ocean of Nigel’s madness than to go back to chasing Hannibal.

 

With the Doctor Will would always be on his toes, tiptoeing around his violent games and fucked up manipulations. Every metaphor needs to be decoded, every word inspected, every expression questioned for it’s genuineness. Nigel was nothing like that.

 

He’d say, “I miss you.” and Will wouldn’t need to wonder about the hidden meaning behind his words. He would whisper, “Come to bed.” and Will could see the sleep creeping up behind his lazy drawl. He could moan, “Let me fuck you.” and Will knew that the seduction was only that, a seduction, not misdirection away from darker things.

 

Safety existed in the cocoon of blankets that smelled of Caparti cigarettes and sweat. Love could be gleaned in the moments where gazes are held too long and turned into a silly game of endurance. Passion could be heard in the soft ‘darlings’ and ‘amices’ that Nigel exclaimed happily, groaned exasperatedly, murmured possessively.

 

The man showered him with life when he was wandering in a desolate desert, and for that Will would forever be grateful However, before they can properly love each other amends must be made and punishments dolled out. For an unearned love is a fragile as house of cards, and Will had no intention to dwell in some temporary home. He wanted Nigel’s forever, and he will have it, in one way or another.

 

***

 

 “You should change.” Will gasped. Nigel ignored him, pulling the man away from the cupboard so he could continue grinding into him without rattling the fragile plates. The doorbell rang and was ignored entirely. Then the knocking started, and when it remained unanswered the pounding began. It only took two heavy slams before the door caved in and Darko’s impatient voice entered the apartment.

 

“Unbelievable.” Nigel spat, gently moving Will aside before stepping out of the kitchen, greeting his best friend with a slew of curses that only seemed to egg Drako on instead of calming him down.

 

Will chuckled in disbelief. He would happily gone out himself, but he was far too ravished to receive company. There was a wet spot on his pants from when Nigel had groped and had stroked him, which he easily hid with an apron around his waist. Unfortunately, he could do nothing about general air of debauchery that cling around him, for no amount of straightening up could erase the scent of sex that Nigel had marked him with.

 

He just hoped he could distract the men enough so that they may not notice.

 

“Stop it Nigel. Let the poor man in.” Will chided when he saw the two men arguing under the doorframes. Darko turned to greet him, always happy to see the reasonable man, but one look and the man could see that Will has indeed been infected by Nigel’s brand of madness; love.

 

Nigel instantly abandoned Darko and came to Will, pressing their foreheads together with a crazed look on his face. “No.” Will cuts before Nigel could offer to drive his men away. “The food are ready and the men are here. Go change.”

 

“But-“

 

“Now Nigel.”

 

Nigel frowned but obeyed anyways, sulking all the way up the stairs.

 

“Well.” Darko cough, closing the door behind him so their men couldn’t see their intense little exchange. “He seems well trained.” He said stiffly, eyes narrowing the new development. He expected Nigel to make up with Will, maybe even go into a period of courtship where one chases the other, but he definitely did not expect to find a sultry American ordering his best friend around.

 

Will regarded his discomfort with a smile, greeting him with a polite ‘’good morning’ and instructions on where to find coffee. 

 

He stepped past Darko’s questioning stares and opened the broken metal door, the hinges snapping apart when Will tried to shimmy it open. A few burly looking men rushed forward to help Will catch the heavy thing, saving him from a comical death that would be far too ironic for him. Will laughed and thanked them, and the group of hardened men who waited anxiously outside immediately relaxed at the sight of their usual host.

 

Buna dimineata prieteni. Scuze pentru asteptare.” He said, trying his best at the language as he welcomed the crowd with a genuine smile lips instead of his usual reluctant smirk.

 

The men accepted his invitation and began pouring into the apartment, nodding and greeting Will with polite murmurs in both English and Romanian. As they passed him their gazes lingered, each one sensing a change in the man that they couldn’t exactly pinpoint.

 

Maybe it’s the new sense lightness and calm radiating from the previously nervous professor. Maybe it’s the confident way he meets their eyes instead of avoiding them. Maybe it’s just the otherworldly beauty that the man always had but always hidden behind his oversized glasses, messy hair, and ill fitting clothes.

 

Whatever this new appeal was it drew them to Will like curious dogs to a new scent. Will let them approach him, unperturbed by the idea of socializing for he knows he wouldn’t get lost in other people’s head. He was far stronger than he was before, and Will feared no men.

 

They initiated various small talks, which Will carried with great enthusiasm. Some commented on Kefir, making mentions of their own fearsome hounds at home. Will laughed and told them about how he found the dog, spinning the assault into a comedic tale that brought raucous laughter into the room full of criminals.

 

Yerni in particular gravitated towards him, eager to trade stories of his own flagrant disregard of the law and to ascertain the validity of the rumors floating around in the underworld.

 

“Did you went into the betting ring and took stole a million euros from that runty cunt Sergei?”

 

“No, no. That was all Nigel. And it was a quarter of a million euros I believe.”

 

“And the headless man in the VIP rooms? The one whose grey matter they’re still finding in the pipes?”

 

“Ah.” Will winced. “That mess is mine, though the idea was Nigel’s.” The men murmured, torn between disgust and awe.

 

“What did the man do to deserve such terrible fate?” Yerni asked. The crowd stand in rapt attention, curious at the answer that this mild mannered professor may have.

 

“He was being rude.” Will simply replied, shocking himself for using those particular choice of words. If he seemed sad the men around him gave no indication that they noticed, for they only patted his back and joked about keeping their manners around him.

 

“Glad you’re making friends darling.” Nigel said stiffly, his shadow looming behind him, but bearing the scent of fire and brimstone as he surveyed Will’s many admirers. Most of them instantly stepped away out of respect, the mere presence of their untouchable leader was enough to bow them down. Only Yerni seemed oblivious, staring up at Nigel’s frowning face with worshipful awe.

 

Sensing the man’s jealousy turned and put his hand on Nigel’s bulging arms, placating the man with an innocent touch.

 

“They’re good people Nigel. I’m glad you have such trustworthy men helping out with the business.” Will said, and in an instant those words banished the air of fear and uncertainty that surrounded the men, making them swell with pride. Satisfied that he has averted another repeat of the gym, Will walked away, shooting Nigel a look that demanded him to behave, before disappearing into the kitchen.

 

Nigel stared at the man in amazement, all plans of violence thwarted as he was once again stunned to silence by this astoundingly beautiful creature. He made a move to follow him, to pull him into the pantry and mark his neck anew, just to satisfy the possessive beast growling in his chest.

 

“Not in front of the men amice.” Darko whispered, and the man could swore he could hear Nigel’s pitiful whine on the back of his throat. Darko groaned. “Oh, I know that look.” He winced, shaking his head as he took a tired sip from his cup of coffee. “You’ve got it bad, don’t you my friend?”

 

For a long time Nigel said nothing, standing as still as a statue as he considered Darko’s words. He saw Will carrying out the feast he made for his men, joy sparkling in those wonderful eyes as he conversed with Yerni about mundane things.

 

“Yeah. I know.” Nigel finally replied, returning the brilliant smile that graced Will’s shapely lips as he invited him to seat at the head of the table.

***

 

 

Food was consumed and strategy exchanged in a comforting exchange of question and answer. Nigel remained in his usual seat next to Will, silent and intimidating except for the few moments he spoke with unshakeable authority. He remained their fearsome leader, but even the dullest among them noticed the smattering of smiles that occasionally broke through man’s façade. It doesn’t take a genius for them to know who was causing this sudden change in their leader’s unyielding character.

 

Though they weren’t exactly the friendliest of bunch, Will easily impressed his men and charmed them, first with stories of his brutality and then later with his intelligence. The tittle professor alone gave his words weight, but Will was far from the arrogant stuffy academia they had thought him to be.

 

When asked with a question, the man was generous with his answer, never condescending despite his obvious intellect. He was happy to explain everything, from how to fix an engine to the various way one might erase their forensic tracks, and it earned him both the admiration and amity of Nigel’s most stubborn followers.

 

At the end of their brunch, Nigel found his love renewed and infatuation worsened. Will was oblivious of this, too busy with his men to pay him any attention, but every so often the man would steal secret glances and furtive smiles. It made Nigel want to kneel right in front of everybody and worship his cock with his mouth.

 

At the end of the hour Nigel was all but herding the crowd out, shooing them away with distaste. They were finally alone, and Nigel planted his hand on the counter, trapping Will between his body and the sink, breathing into the curls of his hair.

 

“You sent them home already?” Will asked with his back to him, trailing a hand down Nigel’s arms, admiring the way the muscles tensed and relaxed under his touch. Nigel brushed his hair aside and pulled his shirt apart, exposing the bandage that hid his mark, kissing it gently. “I was having fun talking to them.”

 

“I know darling, but I want to have some fun with you too.” Nigel murmured, moving to kiss the other side of his neck, itching to bite on the unmarked stretch of skin and savagely claim him again. 

 

“You’re absolutely radiant when you’re happy, you know that?” the man whispered, dripping adoration and awe. Will sighed, undoing the rest of his buttons and letting Nigel slip the shirt off of his body. The man traced the line that began at Will’s neck and ended just above his waist, putting his thumb in the delectable divots that began just above his ass.

 

“And you’re getting better in Romanian too. That sexy accent of yours.” The man groaned appreciatively. He slipped his battle worn hand up from Will’s flat stomach, brushing past his sensitive nipples, so he can grab the man’s chin and tilt him up for a kiss. “I wonder if you’ll use it to beg for my cock…”

 

“Okay. I did NOT need to hear that.” Darko said dryly from behind them. Will stiffened and bend down to grab his shirt, disappearing into the pantry with an embarrassed chuckle.

 

Jur pe Dumnezeul amice,” Nigel groaned, lamenting the loss of Will’s deliciously warm body. He turned and found Darko leaning against the wall, looking at Nigel’s state of arousal with obvious distaste. “I am five seconds away from throwing you out of the window, so you better have a good reason for your interruption.”

 

“The Gala.”

 

“That’s not a good reason.”

 

“Oh it sure fucking is when we’re planning on buying a shipping company for cheap.” He waved away Nigel’s confusion. “The owner is co-hosting the event.”

 

“What? We’re actually going to buy it legally?”

 

“Yes, you fucking imbecile!”

 

“Fucking hell Darko. Are we turning into legitimate businessmen now?”

 

“Will since my business partner is being such a fucking pizda, I’m considering doing exactly that.”

 

Two equally hateful glares were exchanged, both men too stubborn to budge from each of their position. “So let me get this straight.” Nigel drawled, flicking his lighter on and off. “You want me to go with you and kiss some rich asshole’s ass when I can stay home and kiss my own darling’s-“

 

“Nigel.” Will chided, emerging from the pantry looking covered and somewhat put together. He joined Nigel at his side, taking his hard set face and kissing his frowning lips. The man instantly melted into him, growling possessively as he turned around to hid the man from Darko, happy to have him back in his arms. Will wrapped his arms around Nigel’s neck, whispering right into his ears.

 

“Go change, do your work, and come back to me so we can…” a jumble of words too quiet for Darko to make out was murmured, and the result was instantaneous. When Will pulled away, Nigel all but ran to his dressing room, shouting at Darko to start the damn car so they can hurry the hell out and go right back straight away.

 

Darko just rolled his eyes at took a seat at the counter, burying his head in the sleeves of his expensive suit. It’s only noon, but he was ready for the day to be done. Will placed a cup of coffee in front of him, happy to ignore the man who has showed nothing but ambivalence towards him all morning.

 

Eventually the silence was broken and Darko spoke up. “So… I see you two made up already.”

 

Will shrugged. “We never fought in the first place.”

 

“Right…” Darko scoffed at the obvious lie. He has witnessed Nigel’s decent into antipathy. There is no way it has nothing to do with the man he’s so enamored with. Nigel was a fool for love, but this new paramour of his seemed to be anything but that at all.

 

Will smiled at Darko’s blatant disbelief. “You disapprove?”

 

“Of what?”

 

“Of having your Mad Dog tamed.”

 

The man laughed, but it was an empty hollow thing. “Is that your little trick Nigel talked about? How you can get into someone’s head and read them like a book?”

 

“Is that why you’ve holding yourself back all morning Darko? Afraid I’ll get into your head? Or should I chalk it up to some good old fashioned homophobia?”

 

The Romanian slammed his mug down, spilling coffee right onto the newly cleaned counter. Will’s lips twitched, feeling the urge to smother the man right into the mess he just made.

 

“I don’t care if that pizdec friend of mine sucks cock or takes it up the ass, but I just watched him suffered for a week and you want to lie to me and say nothing happened? Fine. Play whatever games you want Domnul Graham, but break him again...” The words hung in the air, not as a threat, but a very real promise that Darko intends to follow through.

 

Will merely stood there, unshaken by Darko’s words. The only indication that he made of ever hearing Darko was a slow dispassionate blink. His gaze was steady, but there was something in his eyes that made it overwhelming for Darko to hold his gaze. In the end the Romanian casted his gaze aside, feeling oddly defeated and silly for even making that little speech of his.

 

“Look Will.” He sighed, feeling mortified as the second ticked by. “You’re beautiful, smart, and completely out of his league. I know a thing or two about beautiful creatures, I own a club full of them. Their favorite pastimes? Breaking powerful men just to see them tremble. I don’t want to see my friend broken again. He wouldn’t survive it, not after Gabi.”

 

Will exhaled a breathy laugh that shivers down the man’s spine. “Oh Darko. Do I really look like one of your weak little toys looking for a power trip?” He moved from his spot, stepping towards the man with slow, purposeful strides. Darko was stunned in place, pinned like a mouse under a snake’s petrifying gaze.

 

“If those stories haven’t convinced you yet, then I am more than happy to demonstrate their validity.” A cruel little smile spread across his beautiful face, and for a moment Darko was acutely aware of the fragility of his own mortal existence.

 

Just as it began it too quickly ended, all traces of malice and hostility gone with a blink of his beautiful blue eyes. Will took a seat on the counter, a look of wistfulness overcoming his soft features.

 

“I love him Darko.” Will quietly declared, all tender and sweet. “How could I throw him away now that I’ve finally have him?”

 

The way he said those words were so gentle, so genuine that the man was almost envious that Nigel could experience such love.

 

“Ah. That’s a relief.” Darko replied, finally happy to take the man at his word. “He seemed happy with you.” Given how mere whispers from the man could drive Nigel to such a state, those words were a massive understatement.

 

“He makes me happy too.” Will replied. It was the first true words Will said to the man.

 

Darko grinned, amused to see Nigel’s brand of madness reflected in Will’s wistful blue eyes. “And you send his lazy ass to work, which Gabi never did. All she does is give him grief about killing and drugs. Bah!” Darko scowled. “Can’t stand women like that. I thank god everyday that my dear Maria has more sense than that. I’m glad you do too.”

 

Will laughed in delight. He was glad that Darko finally trusted him enough to joke around. He liked the man. If he could help it, Will would rather not dispose him so quickly. After all, it would be a shame to deprive Nigel of his childhood friend.

 

“Thank you Darko. That means a lot to me, especially coming from you” Will smiled. He left Darko alone on the counter, rummaging around to find a towel so he can mop up the coffee spill. “Now tell me about this Gala you’re taking my Nigel to. Is it the same one held in Tandarei?”

 

**

 

“Well? How do I look?”

 

The two men was quiet for a while, failing to find the words that would serve to answer Nigel’s loaded question.

 

“What?” The man growled impatiently.

 

“Ah… Well-“ Will looked away to hide his little giggle.

 

“You look like Versace just threw up all over you.” Darko snapped, tilting his head at the mess of pattern hidden under the dark silk jacket.

 

“The fuck do you know about Versace.” Nigel growled. He scowled over to the shinny chrome fridge, using the reflection to fiddle with his tie. Will came over and tucked his chin over his shoulders, a holding back a bemused laughter as Darko cackled in the background. “Fuck. Does it really look that bad?” Nigel asked, suddenly feeling self conscious about his whole attire.

 

He certainly looked like he was wearing a shirt loud enough to startle a small child, but somehow the ornate gaudiness of it fits Nigel’s masculine confidence.

 

“You look good in anything Nigel.” Will said, meaning every words he just said. “Maybe just loose the tie?” he suggested, snaking his hand to loosen the offensive fabric from Nigel’s neck. Seeing Nigel with a tie and so many of his shirt buttoned up was unnatural. It reminded Will too much of Hannibal and his ostentatious wardrobe.

 

“Hmm.” Nigel purred, enjoying his lover’s hand as he redressed him to his liking. ”You think so darling?” the man asked, feigning uncertainty just so he could hear more praises flowing from his beloved’s lips.

 

“Yeah. Definitely.” Will laughed, popping open Nigel’s shirt and sliding his hand under it, enjoying the privilege of touching this dangerously handsome man that most men wouldn’t even dare to come near.

 

“Thank fucking god for that. I hate ties. Makes me feel like I’m on death row again.” Nigel threw the strip of silk away and kissed Will’s wandering hands. He caught the confused look on his lover’s face and winked. “A story for another time, okay gorgeous.”

 

“Ugh. I hate watching people in love.” Darko gagged.

 

“Suffer quietly amice. I never complained about the way you gush over your wife’s food.”

 

“Like that was as terrible as watching two horny fuckers get at it right in the kitchen.” The man shook his head and shivered. “Oh god. I’m waiting downstairs to spare both my eyes and my dignity. I feel violated just seeing you paw at him like that.” Nigel didn’t wait until the man was bas turned before smothering Will in one of his blistering kisses. “Stop making out and lets go! Pizda!”

 

Sheepish laughter was mumbled between their twisted lips. “Alright. Enough. You’re going to be late.” Will chuckled, caressing Nigel arms to ease this need that’s going to burn them both alive.

 

“Alright darling.” Nigel sighed. Every fiber of his being protesting the separation. Despite his natural inclination to haul Will into some hotel and fuck him silly Nigel obeyed him like he always does, eager to earn the reward Will whispered so seductively into his ears. “What are you going to do while I’m gone?”

 

“Read. Walk the dog. Catch up on news back home.” Will sighed, feeling the nervous energy welling up as he told Nigel another effortless lie. “Actually, I might visit my student. I feel a little bad for sending him alone in that ambulance. He did lose his fingers protecting me.”

 

“Hm. If you must.” Nigel sighed, unhappy that Will was even attacked at all and even more so that he’s going to be away while he’s gone. “I should personally end those Serbians fuckers for attacking you like that.”

 

“I have complete confidence in Yerni’s ability to do that. What’s the use of having underlings if you’re not going to let them work for you?”

 

“Hm. I suppose. God, I love how fucken’ smart you are blue eyes.” Nigel growled, “Cant believe I’m kissing a goddamn professor. Look how far I’ve come in life. That’ll teach Sister Josephine for calling me a good for nothing.”

 

“You’re rambling Nigel.” Will half groaned and laughed.

 

“Can’t help myself. You make me want to sing darling.”

 

“Uh-huh. Just go before Darko walk in on us again.”

 

Like a well-trained dog Nigel bid him goodbye and promised to get home as fast as he could. Will agreed and walked him out to the elevator, hands intertwined like so many of the student couples he sees on campus.

 

When the golden doors closed and took Nigel down to the parking lot, Will was suddenly faced with his own reflection mirrored on the shiny surface. At first he thought he was somebody else, some younger happier version of himself that has never been touched by the darkness or tainted by blood. It made him sad, because amongst all of the facades he wore today, this fit him like a glove. Will was truly happy with Nigel. It almost made him rethink his intentions for the man.

 

‘No’ He banished the thought immediately. No amount of saccharine kisses and molasses touches would be enough to absolve Nigel of his transgression. No matter how much Will may want Nigel, his dignity would not accept such tainted offering.

 

Will’s love is not a cheap thing that can be bought with mere hugs and kisses. He demands worship, for his soul ached to devote itself to another. Will refused to be a slave to love, and he has no need for one that groveled mindlessly after him. No. He shall bring Nigel to him as an equal, elevating him from the pits of his own unworthiness, baptizing him through pain and blood.

 

Only after such suffering could they properly love, with eyes open and unclouded by childish fantasies.

 

***

 

Michael made a turn in his Jaguar and parked right outside of Will’s apartment. After texting his professor to announce his arrival, the young man rolled down his car window down and rummaged for his cigarette with his healthy hand. The one he maimed for Will’s pleasure sat neatly atop of his steering wheel, three fingers twitching whenever he flexed his palm too hard.

 

He couldn’t stop doing it though. The pain reminded him of that blessed night where Will kissed his stubs and painted his lips with red. The memory alone was enough to send blood down to his groin.

 

A shadow darkened his vision as he struggled with his lighter. Will appeared, silent as the wind. He was wearing a handsomely fitted black shirt that hugs his beautiful figure. His hair was slicked back to show his amazing blue eyes. His face was bare, shaved clean, making him look younger, more ethereal.

 

Even in his designer clothes and luxury car Michael felt underdressed compared to the beautiful man.

 

Will took the lighter out of Michael’s hand and flicked it on for him, giving him the gift of fire like Prometheus once did to humanity. Michael felt as blessed as he imagined those poor primitive souls did, but unlike those people, Michael can reach out and touch his god.

 

The young man placed his injured hand on Will’s wrist, pretending to steady the flickering flames, just so he had an excuse to touch the marvelous man who has given him purpose and direction. Will smiled indulgently and let Michael brought his hand up to his cheek, nuzzling his open palm with a reverence. He pulled away and slid the lighter back into the boy’s breast pocket, patting his chest like one might pet a dog.

 

“Hello Michael.” Will greeted, his voice as gentle as warm and gentle as a summer’s breeze. Michael’s whole body shivered regardless. “How is your hand?”

 

“Absolutely throbbing.” He grinned, peeking up playfully at the amused man. Without being prompted, the young man stepped out of his car and escorted Will to the passenger side, opening the door like his childhood chauffeur always did for him “Where can I take you today, sir?” he asked, dutiful as ever.

 

“Home.” Will smiled, chuckling at Michael’s confusion. “Your family home, to be exact.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Michael turned off the car engine after he parked outside of the castle’s south entrance. They had chosen to drive out through the service road, away from the crowd of Gala attendees. They swarmed the main gate with their elegant fineries, bearing bespoke clothes and jewels that glittered so much both Will and Michael could make out their shine from a distance.

 

They certainly looked like people who would attend such an event. To an extent, Michael does too. He came answering Will’s summon wearing his best black suit, thinking that it might hide any blood that that the man might demand from him.

 

Will on the other hand was underdressed in his simple, yet well fitted shirt. If it was an event in any other establishment Will might’ve worried about being turned away. As luck would have it, the Gala was held in the Governor’s castle, Michael’s ancestral home, and Will was confident that the young man could get him in by his birthright alone.

 

The castle was certainly a grand old thing, something one might find in a fairy tale with brave princes and beautiful princesses. Despite the recent trend amongst the nouveau riche to buy up Europe’s many abandoned castles, Michael’s ancestral home stood tall and proud, untouched by the frivolous fancies of other men. Michael stared at the distant figures of his parents’ guests, his face downturned with the righteous distaste of an heir apparent.

 

“Strange being here again after all these years.” He mused out loud. “I haven’t been home ever since I move out to uni.” 

 

Will smoothed a wayward hair that stood out of place from Michael’s neatly combed head, resting his hand on the young man’s nape, his touch claiming and possessive at the same time. Michael let go of the tension that he didn’t know he was holding, focusing only on Will’s solid touch and commanding presence.

 

“Are you estranged with you family?”

 

“Only in the way most adults usually are. Everyone is destined to grow a bit jaded by their parents. In my case, their chosen profession made it very easy for me to do so.”

 

“Lawyers?” Will tentatively guessed. Michael laughed and shook his head. “Defense attorney then, given your strange combination of classes.”

 

“Worse. Career politician.” Michael winced. “It’s hard for even their own children to see them as anything but scum.”

 

The young man’s words made Will chuckle.

 

“Ah, but it’s even more difficult to hate the privilege that comes with being their son.” Will smiled, running his hand over the Jaguar logo on emblazoned on the dashboard.

 

Being called out like that should’ve humiliated anybody else, but Michael grinned and nodded, unapologetic of his own hypocrisy. There was no need to put up walls and pretend with Will. The man sees right through him. It makes him feel honest, pure, like a newly absolved sinner stepping out of a confessional, ready to receive communion.

 

“Did you grew up rich too, sir?” he asked, suddenly curious of the origin of his beguiling teacher.

 

“Quite the opposite I’m afraid. Son of a mechanic. I grew up in boatyards, not castles. I fix jaguar engines, not ride them.”

 

The young man frowned, discomfited by this newly discovered fact. It’s common knowledge that only one percent of the world’s population lived like he does, but it’s almost impossible to imagine this man in living in any other situation but in the lap of luxury.

 

It’s almost sacrilegious to suggest otherwise. Divinity required worship, and Michael didn’t like the image of an ordinary Will, suffering with his plebian father as they endured something as inelegant as poverty.

 

“You carry yourself like you do. Like a noble. A royal.” The young man looked up at the grand sight of his future birthright. “Like one of us.”

 

His words earned him an amused laughter from the man, but the hand on his nape turned to stone, almost claw-like. Will trailed down his arms until he could feel the still sensitive stubs of Michael’s wounds. “One of you people, hm?” Will mused, stroking the sensitive nubs and then pressing down hard, blinding Michael with excruciating pain.

 

The youth screamed, his whole body arched up and jerked in pain. When Will finally took his hand away, the young man whimpered, his brain too fried to decide whether he wanted to beg for more or for mercy.

 

“I will try and take that as a compliment then Mr. Stoica.” Will said, his voice as light and pleasant as ever. He got out of the car and left Michael alone, slamming the door so hard that the car’s wiper turned on by itself from the sheer impact.

 

Michael heart dropped into the pit of his stomach. He clambered out of the driver seat, stumbling over driveway’s gravel as he chased after Will’s confident gait. He wanted to walk beside the man, but Michael was too ashamed to even look up and glance at the back of Will’s head.

 

He didn’t mind the casual flash of violence Will so easily inflicted upon him. Pain was something sacred to them both, a binding covenant that Michael would gladly suffer over and over again.

 

The tragedy lies in his frozen lips, too inarticulate to offer up an apology for his mistakes. Michael wanted to tell Will that he was better than any noble or royal, that he transcended such petty tittles men create to make themselves feel powerful. Will was strong enough better than the whole ballroom full of socialites and blue bloods alike. He wanted to tell him that he was willing to kill them all just to show him that.

 

Yet despite his anguish, Michael did nothing but quietly trail behind Will and traced his steps, too mortified by his faux pas to speak up. He considered making a stop at the kitchen to cut off his hand as penance, but all thoughts of self-mutilation was gone when the man turned and offered him his hand.

 

Elegant but rough. The hands of a mechanic’s son

 

“Come.” Will called, and Michael obeyed. His hunched back straightened, proud to be coming home with this astounding creature in his arm.

 

The servants bowed and welcomed them, both surprised and a little bit unsettled of their young master sudden arrival. Michael barely acknowledged them. He only had eyes for Will, who disregard him beautifully as he observed the opulent décor with detached eyes.

 

After being welcomed by the firm but elderly butler, the two couple was directed towards the festivities. Michael stepped in, noting with happiness that they were both matching in their black outfits.

 

Their striking figure caught sight of some of the nearby attendees, who either raised their eyebrows at the sight of them or turned away with obvious distaste. The rich were a conservative bunch, on the surface at least, and they need to openly disapprove of two men walking in together just to keep up appearances.

 

Michael hated them all, but he was glad to be surrounded with such unworthy folk, for they serve to remind him just how special Will Graham was.

 

The man looked completely at ease in his simple black shirt. Despite being bereft of fineries, Will managed to shine brighter than the rest of them. Michael ached to run up to his family vault and drape Will in any jewels that he found, so that even the blind sheep around them may bear witness to his shinning majesty.

 

Will turned to him, promptly cutting off Michael’s obsessive inner monologue before it manifested into reality. “May I borrow a dinner coat? I’m afraid that that I’m dressed like the help.”

 

Michael looked offended for Will. “You look nothing like the help.” He said, bringing his hands up and kissing them reverently. A nearby woman overheard them and sighed, clearly taken by what she thought was a romantic exchange between two lovers. Will didn’t feel like turning around and correcting her, at least, not when Michael was standing there looking so terribly happy in his gentleness.

 

The sight almost shook Will’s resolve to carry out his plan, but he had already casted aside his weakness. He must now stood firm and carry on, for Nigel so that they both may finally love each other properly. 

 

“Go on now. I’ll just be right here.”

 

Michael nodded and reluctantly let his hand fall. “I’ll be back soon.”

 

“Take your time.”

 

Eager to fulfill his duties, the young man turned. The managed to only take a few steps away before catching sight of his father and mother, a power couple made up of his governor father and his senator wife. They didn’t notice their own son staring at them, too busy conning their attendants for campaign donations.

 

“Sir…” He called out, tentative and unsure. “If you don’t mind. I would love to introduce you to my parents later.”

 

Will chuckled, endeared by the sweet way Michael fidgets in place as he waited for Will’s answer. It made him look young and innocent, the polar opposite of a sociopathic athlete with attachment issues.

 

“Of course I will.” Will finally answered. “Tonight I am a guest in your home. Do with me as you please.”

 

The young man nodded curtly, speeding away the second those words registered into his mind. He slipped in between the crowd of parasites invading his home, unconcerned by their presence as his head filled with fantasies of blood, sweat, and the semen of their glorious coupling.

 

**

 

Nigel downed his fourth glass of champagne, or was it his sixth, or tenth? He couldn’t remember. His head was buzzing and he wanted to lose himself further into it’s deafening cacophony.

 

Unfortunately for him, the insipid prattling of other people’s wives keeps cutting through the pleasant fog he worked so hard to cultivate. They came close with the familiarity of an old friend, bearing friendly smiles and polite pleasantries. ‘How do you know the governor? Ah, you own that club downtown? A businessman then, just like my husband.’

 

Then their saccharine smiles dropped and turned into what they must think was a seductive pout. Terrible come ons began to flow from their painted lips, whispered close into his ear while their manicured hands stroked his arms. ‘You look like a big strong man. I bet you fuck as wildly as you look.’ They said, all in varying modesty.

 

It was a new kind of hell that Nigel thought he could endure, but an hour and six disgruntled ladies later, Nigel found himself driven to drink like an alcoholic crone. Still, no amount of alcohol could wash away the nasty feeling of an unwanted attention. Only the taste of their blood would suffice, but if Nigel does indulge in violence, he wouldn’t get the reward that Will promised him.

 

So instead the man just stood back and endured, opting to silently glower at Darko whenever the urge to kill got too strong.

 

As if he could feel the daggers Nigel been glaring at him all night, Darko finally excused himself from the men whose wives Nigel has been fending off and saved him from a wayward mistress.

 

“Excuse us please.” Darko smiled, clearly much more used to these sorts of things than his sullen friend.

 

“Oh! But I was just telling your friend about my Pilates class and how flexible the girls there are.”

 

Nigel choked on his drink and grabbed a new one from a similarly distressed waiter passing by. Darko polite smile twitched and he excused them once more, pulling his swaying friend out into the balcony of the large ballroom.

 

“Why did you make me leave my gun in the car?” Nigel whined.

 

“Because you’ll use it to threaten someone and get us thrown out.”

 

“You’d be wrong. I was planning to use it to shoot myself in the head before she mention fucking Pilates again.” He made a clicking noise and pressed his finger to his temples. “Boom.”

 

“… that’s not funny.” Darko growled, showing his hand away harshly. The memory of his friend in Dr. Petrov’s clinic still too fresh in his mind. He doubt that he would ever get used to suicide jokes after seeing a bullet lodged in his friend’s skull like that.

 

“Admit it. It is a little bit funny amice. God. Fucking Pilates.” Nigel cackled, “If I do happen to die on a job, make sure all my cut goes to darling okay? and then bury me somewhere close so he can visit everyday.” Nigel hiccupped. “Maybe near the university so he can have picnic on my grave for lunch. That’ll make the little fucker eat.”

 

Jur pe zeul! You’re not going to die, pizda!”

 

“Every second I’m away from Will makes me feel like I am. Is it possible to miss someone to death? Death by heartbreak, that’s a thing, right?”

 

“You melodramatic cunt. I fucking hate it when you’re in love. Piece of shitba-“

 

“Is that him over there?”

 

Amice.” Darko sighed, drawing every last once of his patience as he shoved the rising man back down to sit on the railing. “Your darling is at home. Lay off the champagne and I’ll drive your drunk ass back home as soon as I finish up.”

 

Nigel rolled his eyes and lunged past his friend to grab the champagne flute Darko had set away from him. The man deftly took it out of his hands and flung it into the darkness. Nigel growled. Darko felt like growling back.

 

“This shipping company better be fucking worth it Darko.”

 

“Just sit then and shut the fuck up.”

 

Another round of amicable curses was fondly exchanged before Darko departed back inside, leaving Nigel to cool off, a little less a little less inebriated and a lot more miserable.

 

A familiar melody floated out the door and into the balcony, inviting Nigel to hum along to it’s tune. A year ago he might’ve happily done so. On his happier moods Nigel would maybe even put his arm around a random stranger just so he can brag about his cellist wife and how talented and beautiful she was.

 

Fuck. I don’t want to think about her. He smothered away the images of a red-headed beauty and summoned ones of Will instead. His gentle smile, his shapely lips, his eyes that glitters and says ‘I love you’ while his lips stubbornly remained closed.

 

For a moment they were enough to distract Nigel from his sadness, but the melodic hum of the cello droned on, bringing with it flashes of happier times that he threw away. Hours spent in cafes watching the girl he loved playing for a captive audience. Her delighted squeak of a laugh when she shot her first bottle without his help. Her body engulfed in shadows and the way it glisten when the strobe light of the club hits her.

 

Her last kiss before she chose another man over him.

 

“Fuck!” Nigel shouted. A waiter standing by the door jumped, but he quickly returned to position. Nobody else paid him any mind, too absorbed in their own world to notice the howl of an injured animal.

 

Nigel hated everything about this. He wanted to go home to his lover, to lose himself in his touches. He wanted to forget about this song, about her lips, and about the way she would scream “Nigel! Nigel! Nigel!”

 

“Nigel.”

 

The man eyes snapped up, sensing an irresistible pull from a whisper so soft he had thought he imagined it. Past the swaying curtains and crowd, his maroon eyes met with unmistakable blue ones, pulled together like magnets from across the room.

 

“No way.” He whispered. Everything else but them blurred into nothingness. Nigel blinked, trying to clear his bleary eyes, but the crowd had already shifted, and with them they took Will’s eyes, leaving Nigel bereft and alone.

 

He wrenched the door open and pushed through the crowd until he was at the middle of the ballroom, earing disparaging remarks for his uncouth behavior. He whipped his head around, trying to find Will, but no one close to his stature or beauty ever entered his periphery.

 

Nigel bit back a curse. ‘I should quit drinking.’ He thought, and turning to head back out before Darko could spot him and give him another earful.

 

A young man bumped into him and sent Nigel onto the ground. “My apologies.” The stranger said, offering his hand for Nigel to take. Feeling pathetically drunk and forlorn, Nigel took the proffered hand and let the young man pulled him up to his feet.

 

Recognition flashed over his eerily light eyes. “You’re that strange man that keeps harassing professor Graham’s morning classes.” The boy said, doing nothing to hide his distaste.  He dropped his hand as if Nigel was a leper. “Who do you think you are, always interrupting the professor’s lectures?”

 

“His lover, that’s who.” He growled. Nigel was miserable and drunk, and he certainly had no more patience to give to some overly righteous cunt who felt like he needs to defend his darling, out of all people.

 

Nigel was just about to drag the young man out and throw him off the balcony until he noticed his newly bandaged hands, missing two fingers and hidden under a coat.

“Wait... Were you the kid that saved Will yesterday?”

 

Michael’s stilled sensing that something was amiss. “Save…?” He sneered, as if the very idea of it offended him. “Professor Graham hardly needs saving. The man is capable as he is.”

 

“Damn right.” Nigel grinned. Pride swelled up his chest, and suddenly it doesn’t matter if the music reminded him of Gabi, or that the women here reeked of desperation and boredom. He finally has Will, and they will love each other better than they did before.

 

Before Gabi. Before Hannibal. 

 

“Thank you.” He said quietly to the confused boy, finally finding the center he’s been fumbling all night for. “You did good kid. I owe you big time.” Nigel patted his arm and sauntered out, taking his place in the balcony. Another tune that Gabi used to play flowed out into the balcony. This time Nigel merely lit up a cigarette and leaned back, humming along to the familiar tune as he dreamed of his beloved Will.

 

**

 

Michael finally moved after the strange man long disappeared. His body felt strangely stiff, but his feet took him to Will anyways. Dread settled into his chest when he couldn’t find Will immediately, but a cursory glance revealed the man to be standing between two ivory state, quietly sipping on a glass of champagne while watching the room in a way that prevents the rest of the room from watching him.

 

Despite the little scream tingling on his tongue, Michael silently approached the man and draped his coat over his shoulders, smoothing any ripple away with a firm hand. The perfectly tailored line fits him perfectly, but on Will it overhung his shoulder like a cape. He looked so young like this, delicate face cleanly shaven and surrounded by expensive fabric.

 

The thought made Michael swallowed hard. He doesn’t want to notice the small beautiful details in the man before him, especially not after meeting his-

 

“His lover. That’s who.”

 

“Thank you for saving him.”

 

“I owe you big time.”

 

His hands tightened on Will’s shoulders, overwhelmed as he replayed the encounter over and over again. Will remained silent, not even acknowledging the coat that he requested from his student.

 

“I didn’t know you had a lover. Sir.” He finally said those fateful question. Michael tried keeping his tone light and conversational, but his voice came out choked and garbled like radio static. Will smiled into his glass and finished the last of his champagne, and Michael couldn’t make out whether Will was amused by the question or by his suffering.

 

“’Lover’ is such a blasé word.” Will said, tapping on the rim of the delicate crystal flute.

 

Enraged, Michael’s temper flared and he slapped the glass away, sending it crashing away from them. A few people turned around to see the commotion, more irritated that they were interrupted than anything. Soon enough they quickly went back to their own conversations, oblivious to the two men standing stiffly on the sideline.

 

Will finally turned to face Michael, tilting the young man’s sharp chin down so that their eyes might meet. The man looked impassive. Unshaken. Beautiful. Michael wanted nothing more than to kiss him.

 

“Oh dear.” Will said, reaching over to cradle Michael’s injured hand “You’ve opened your stitches.” He said as if his student didn’t threatened him. Will unwrapped the stained bandage and inspected the wound. It was red and inflamed. A few stitches on the ring finger popped off, mangling what little stub of flesh remained covering a white knuckle bone.

 

Will gently maneuvered the hanging piece of flesh back into place and held it firmly as he bound Michael’s hand again. When he was done Will kissed the inflamed stub, smearing blood onto his cupids bow. Without much thought the young man reach over and smeared his blood over Will’s shapely lips.

 

-the ones which kissed that ingrate, that moan his name and part open for his cock-

 

“Clumsy boy.” Will chided, licking his blood away from his lips. Michael wanted to smother them in red again, to rip the heart out of his uncouth lover so that he might bathe him in it.

 

The man does look terribly flattering in red.

 

“The man-“ Michael finally said. “The one who keeps harassing you in class. The one in the gym. He-“

 

“Nigel you mean?”

 

“Yes. Your lover.”  He spat the words again, like a man spitting out venom after sucking on a snakebite. “I feel like such a fool. I thought I was the only one. I though… I thought...”

 

“What Michael? That you were special?” Will asked. His tone was neutral, like reading a book he neither was interested or indifferent about. It seemed appropriate, for he didn’t say it to be cruel. He only said what Michael was thinking in his mind.

 

“Well are you Mr. Stoica? Are you special?” he asked with a voice that challenged Michael’s competitive spirit

 

“Yes!“ he replied immediately, hating the way he still held on a small piece of hope. “... At least, I want to be.”

 

They stood frozen in place, indistinguishable from the intricate statutes beside them. Just as Michael began to doubt his worth, the impassive look on Will’s eyes softened. “You can be special Michael. You can be the only one. You have the potential to be all of that and more.”

 

Michael casted his gaze aside, forcing himself to be skeptical despite his desperate need to take Will at his words.

 

“You came into the world with nobility in your blood and this castle as your birthright. You won over your opponent in the field, and when they try to take you out, you beat them so they’ll experience real pain.” Will closed his eyes, smiling at the recent memory. “You are powerful, resourceful, and determined. So why do you act so small and weak when you’re anything but?”

 

Will sighed and opened his eyes. No longer was Michael’s eyes muted and desponded. They held fire in them, and Will could almost taste the determination seeping through the youth.

 

 “Tell me how.” Michael demanded, “Please sir. Teach me.”

 

**

 

Nigel wasn’t even done with his second cigarette before he was interrupted again, this time by the young man who knocked him onto the ground. He approached Nigel with a shadow casted over his face, abandoning his haughty façade for a less confrontational expression.

 

“Mr. Nigel, was it?” He asked, clenching his injured hand. “Does your offer of help still stands?”

 

“Cashing in your favor already?” Nigel gave him a predatory smile one. “I’ve never been one for delayed gratification myself. Go on. Tell me what you want.”

 

As a leader Nigel was used to handling all sorts of request from his underlings. There’s two types of people who comes to Nigel asking for favors, one that’s truly desperate or the unworthy. With his solemn expression and nervous jig of his feet, the young man definitely looked like the first type.

 

“I’m in trouble.” He started, staring at the smoking man with his whole body coiled and ready to sprung. “The men who attacked Professor Graham… They must’ve followed me here… I-” The young man threw his glance away. “I killed one of them.”

 

Nigel raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Did you now?” he asked, eyeing the boy up and down, finding no evidence of struggle in his neat black suit. Nigel didn’t care. He was willing to believe in this boy’s lie. A debt must be repaid, and the sooner Nigel does it, the sooner he can go home with a clear conscience.

 

“Well lucky for you, I know a dozen different way to make a body disappear.” He said, waiting to see if the boy would flinch away from him. He didn’t. His eyes remained dead and cold as he clutched his bloody hand.

 

On second thought, the boy did look like a killer.

 

“Take me to the body.”

 

**

 

Once they were out of the meticulously manicured gardens, Nigel quickly realized just how massive the castle grounds were. The wilderness around them overflowed into the edges of the shaped topiary, providing a sharp contrast to the meticulously maintained castle.

 

Nigel was glad for the nature around them. It provided them with much needed cover and privacy, two things one could never have in excess when dealing with a dead body. As they walked further into the woods, the ground began to harden and turn rocky. ‘Difficult to dig into.’ Nigel thought, the idea of carrying a dead body sobering him up faster than a strong cup coffee would.

 

 “Any lake, river, sewage system running through here?”

 

Michael gave him a strange look. “We’re drowning him?”

 

“Well I sure aint hauling a dead body in front of all those people.”

 

“Right.”

 

They walked quietly to the hunting lodge, sparing no words or idle chit chat between them. Nigel was grateful for that. He may be inebriated, but that fact alone doesn’t suddenly make him a social man. He would hate to threaten one of Will’s student.

 

“Just through there.” Michael said, pointing to an overgrown path that leads into an old hunting lodge.

 

The door opened with a creak, scattering bits of dust into the air. It smelled of old musty wood and gunpowder, but there was no scent of blood and decay, or even the acrid sweat of a recent struggle. Nigel hesitated.

 

“The body is just behind the table.” Michael said, unmoving as he waited for Nigel to enter the place.

 

“Lead the fucking way then.” Nigel growled, his temper short as his instinct forced his body to stop. The young man gave him a strange look but obliged, closing the door once Nigel finally stepped in to follow him.

 

The only source of light was the glinting moon showering it’s ray in from a small window. It glinted against a metal bat, catching Nigel’s eye. If he were sober Nigel would’ve caught it in his hand easily, but the metal crashed onto the side of his head and send hurtling down to the wooden floor.

 

**

 

Blood pooled on the base of his neck and outstretched arms, dripping onto the floor in a slow ooze. They clotted on his skin like honey, sticky and flaking off as he swayed in the air. Nigel was hung upside down like an animal ready to be butchered, his fingers barely grazing the floor under him. His feet were bound by ropes, and it was attached by the knot onto a slaughtering hook. This was a familiar scene for him, only usually Nigel would be the one doing the hanging instead of being hung.

 

A murmur of conversation was heard from behind him, his captor, the very same one that saved Will. ‘That runty cunt.’

 

On the next upswing, Nigel twisted his body around, catching a glimpse of Michael kneeling on the ground. He was whispering words onto the lap of a man sitting quietly on a chair, completely spellbound by whoever he was talking to.

 

‘God. He’s one of those fucking nutso.’ Nigel inwardly sighed. He much rather deal with another cartel or rival gang. At least they all operate on a logic that Nigel could follow, but fanatical killers? Nigel couldn’t understand them even if he wanted to.

 

Summoning the strength he had left, Nigel nimbly pulled himself up, getting a good grip on the base of the hook to ease the tension on the knot. He slowly shimmied the badly tied ropes off the metal.

 

His thighs and stomach burned from the exertion, but Nigel was used to such things. He once dislocated his arm just to get out of a spreading bar. A mere knot was child’s play to him, and he will show the brat just how roughly he can play.

 

With the grace of an acrobat Nigel slowly lowered himself onto the ground, landing without so much of a creak against the wooden floor. He instantly dropped onto the ground, untying the knot while surveying his prey, prowling, ready to strike.

 

Michael was completely engrossed in his crazed mutterings, and once Nigel saw the object of his worship, he too understood his need for supplication.

 

Will sat on the chair, his blue eyes bright even in the dark, staring at Nigel with an unreadable expression. He didn’t alert Michael of Nigel’s escape. He simply stood there, watching. Waiting.

 

Just the mere idea of Will being taken against his will made Nigel’s blood boil. ‘I’ll fucking kill him for even touching you.’ Nigel promised, nodding at the man as he escaped the last of his coils.

 

Will only answered with a blink and placed a hand on Michael’s head, patting him. The pleasured sight that came out of the young man’s mouth enraged Nigel, and within seconds he leapt with the ropes bound tightly between his hands, using it to garrote the man away from his lover.

 

“What makes you think you can touch him, boy?” Nigel growled, lifting the youth off the ground with his strength alone. “You dare presume you’re good enough to lick his fucking boots?” He slammed his head against the back of Michael’s. “He’s mine.”

 

The young man struggled, kicking and punching against whatever body part he could reach, but Nigel was as solid and firm as a rock. He withstood the abuse without as much of a blink, winding the ropes tighter and tighter until he could see the boy’s face turning purple.

 

“Nigel.” Will called out. He didn’t answer. He didn’t want to turn to the man. He wanted to kill this cunt and be done with it.

 

“Nigel.” Will called out again, this time placing a hand on Nigel’s bulging arms. Nigel turned to him then, his face set in a snarl. Will frowned at him in disapproval. “Please don’t kill my student.”

 

‘But he fucking tried to kill me.’ Nigel wanted to protest, but he was completely defenseless against that look Will gave him, the one that made him feel loved and reproachful all at the same time.

 

“Fucking fine.” He growled, flinging the boy away until he crashed against a cupboard, hauling Will into his arms. “Did he hurt you?” Nigel asked, clutching Will’s head as he pulled the foreign fineries away from the man. He pulled his shirt apart, searching for any wounds and marks that was not his own.

 

“No he didn’t.” Will replied, and Nigel sighed in in relief. “Michael doesn’t want to hurt me.”

 

“Yeah, but he wants something else from you, doesn’t he?” Nigel spat. He couldn’t stop touching Will, as if he could erase the memory of Michael’s touch with his alone. “Sick desperate fucker.” Nigel cursed. His hands trembled, imagining all the terrible things Michael would’ve done to Will, and how the man would’ve let him just to keep him safe. Will’s eyes fluttered close and he leaned into Nigel’s touches. He doesn’t look scared or shaken. His Will was strong even under duress, and Nigel loved him all the more for it.

 

“Lets go home darling.” Will nodded, letting Nigel guide him out the door. He didn’t even spare a glance for the groaning heap of body that is Michael on the corner of the room.

 

They were merely a few steps away from the door until a click and a shot rang out. Pain ripped through Nigel’s shoulder and past his chest, forcing him to stumble forward. Will caught him in his arms, but Nigel’s ears were still ringing from the gunshot to make out what he said. Behind him he could hear the sharp cock of a gun and the ringing of shells clattering onto he floor. The gun followed suit, and Nigel was hauled off the man and thrown back into the darkness of the hunting lodge.

 

Michael loomed over him like a shadowy figure from the abyss, his light eyes eerily bright against the darkness, burning with a hunger that made Nigel want to growl. “You can’t have him.” He said, voice cracking with a crazed frenzy. “Professor said I have to take what’s mine. He told me I can be the only one, but I can’t be the only one if you’re still alive, can I?”

 

He fell onto him, with hands as sharp as talons, digging into Nigel’s neck, choking him, pressing down on him with the possessiveness Nigel recognized would rival his own. “You don’t deserve him.” The demon above him hissed, and for a moment Nigel believed it.

 

Behind the monstrous figure stepped out his beloved, silhouetted by the light of the new moon. He watched on quietly, waiting with expectant eyes. The demon above him looked up to Will and let out a shrill of excitement, leaning his head back against the man’s body. Will rewarded his loyalty by stroking his mess of blond hair, petting him as he watched Nigel struggled. His eyes were waiting, expecting.

 

Nigel wanted to rear up and throw the boy off his body, to rip into him with his own bare hand and present whatever trophy Will desired from his worthless flesh. He wanted to show Will how strong he was, that he’s still worthy to be his, to protect him

 

Yet no matter how much he struggled Nigel remained pinned. His body was bleeding profusely. His feet slip on his slick blood, making it impossible for him to push himself up. Every muscle in his body screamed, deprived of oxygen and exhausted by both alcohol and fatigue. Fear began to seep into his bones, and Nigel panicked.

 

Throughout it all Will watches on, waiting, expecting, and Nigel feels so completely useless and weak.

 

Maybe he did deserve to die. Maybe Will should go to someone better, someone stronger. Isn’t that what love is? To give someone happiness, even if it meant letting them go?

 

It was a concept that Nigel never did buy into. For him, to love was to possess, to consume. Last time Nigel let it consumed everything else too. Gabi burned when she was with him, at first beautifully until she was spent, turning ashen, grey and colorless. Could he give Will that very same fate? Could he keep fighting on, knowing that if he does survive Will would only suffer the same fate that his wife did?

 

The last thing Nigel wanted was for this beautiful creature to end up like her.

 

After that the thought of dying became easy for him Nigel let his arms fall onto the side and released the breath that he was holding. All he could hear was the thumping of blood in his eardrums, loud enough to drown out the crazed muttering of his killer and gave him peace.

 

Nigel looked up to Will, and saw that he was no longer waiting.

 

Before he closed his eyes Nigel noticed the beautiful expanse of Will’s shaven face. The man looked beautiful. The last thought that he had was how much he regretted not asking Will to do it more. ‘Ah well, at least I can see it once before I die.’

 

***

 

 

There was only one thing more powerful than seeing someone rise beyond the limits of their potential, and that was to witness the strong break and hit rock bottom. When the fight left Nigel’s eyes and he gave him one last loving look, Will knew that the man was right where he wanted him to be.

 

“Michael.” He said, eyes still fixed on the gorgeous sight of Nigel’s surrender. He placed his hand on the young man’s nape, making him look up in pride. For a moment Will took his eyes off of Nigel and graced Michael with genuine smile of happiness.

 

“Thank you.” He said earnestly. Michael beamed and opened his mouth to answer. Will hushed him, covering his lips before grabbing his head and chin, snapping his neck and instantly killing him.

 

His lifeless body fell onto Nigel’s, and for a brief second they were both dead to the world. Will pushed the still warm body of his student aside, treating the mere obstacle that it was, and descended on his beloved. He kissed Nigel, tasting the smoke and champagne on his lips, committing them to memory. It’s what surrender and love tasted like, and Will would never forget it for the rest of his life. 

 

Like in some macabre fairytale Nigel awoke, gasping in panic. Will laughed, tears brimming his previously cold eyes. “You’re here.” Will gushed, pressing their forehead together. “You’re finally here.”

 

 

***

Chapter Text

Michael’s corpse laid there, head twisted to an impossible angle, unseeing eyes turning cloudy as seconds stretched into minutes that stretched further into the night. Nigel just stared at them, and not even Will’s gentle caress and kisses could turn his eyes away.

 

Nigel needed to see. He needed to remind himself that it was no demon that roared and smothered the breath from him. It was just a man, a brat just off the cusps of adulthood. He even still held a boyish tinge in his newly matured face. ‘And yet he still pinned you down and almost killed you. He would’ve killed you if it wasn’t for Will.’

 

The thoughts keep circling back into his head, reminding him of his own impotence.

 

“His name was Michael Stoica.” Will explained as he bound Nigel’s shoulder with a roll of spare muslin. “He was my student. His family is co-hosting the Gala we attended.”

 

Nigel didn’t acknowledge his words. He remained silent, nudging the shotgun spread that Will managed to dig out of his body. The emptiness inside of him was suddenly filled to the brim with a familiar emotion. 

 

Anger.

 

“Something tells me you weren’t kidnapped here at all, were you?” The man said, his voice uncharacteristically small and flat.

 

A contemplative hum answered his question. Nigel knew Will well enough to know about the secretive little smile the man held behind him. It’s the same smile that he had whenever he was engrossed in a debate with his student, or when he teased and Nigel with innuendos and entendres too smart for him to catch.

 

It was as if the man was toying with him.

 

“Well?!” Nigel demanded, slamming his fist down onto the wooden floor. The little outburst took everything he had in him, and Nigel slumped forward, wincing as he tried to feel the searing pain that washed over his mangled flesh.

 

A sharp click of scissors cut the last of the bandages into length and was quickly tied off and tucked between the folds. The tight feeling of muslin against skin made him feel bound and secure, but Nigel knew that the situation he’s now in was anything but safe.

 

“These days I rarely do things that I don’t want to.” Will finally replied, inspecting his work before placing a chaste kiss right on the newly bound shoulder. The man hissed and jerked away, not from the pain of his gunshot, but from the knowledge that all of these were premeditated by the very man he pledged his life to.

 

Despite his smoldering anger, Will still reached over to stroke his head. When Nigel didn’t respond to his touches, the man got up and gathered the traces of their presence from the floor.

 

He methodically wiped the meat hook that Nigel grabbed, erasing his finger prints from the glinting metal. The gathered the ropes that bound Nigel’s feet and stuffed them into his pocket. He moved around the old dusty lodge like he bustled around Nigel’s kitchen, but when he stood over the large patch of blood smeared onto the wooden floor, Will crossed his arms and frowned at it like it like one might frown at a blotch of ketchup on his favorite shirt.

 

“Can you call your crew to clean up the place?”  Will asked. Nigel shook his head in negative, mumbling something about losing his phone when he was at a friend’s place. Will pretended not to notice his lies. The man had just been shot. Its only polite to not call him out immediately like this.

 

Will left him alone to rummage further into the dusty lodge. He found a small drawer full of knives and saws, tools used to butcher game that the hunter caught in the woods. Though this generation of the Stoica family had had long since abandoned the sport, they knives and saws still remained sharp.

 

Amongst them Will spied a hatchet, one that was probably used to joint and split the bones of large game animals. Armed with the appropriate tool, Will walked over to the  pool of drying blood, nudged Michael’s corpse aside, and began hacking away at the floorboards with the small hatchet.

 

Nigel remained silent and left Will to do his task in peace. He tried his best to look away, but time after time again his sights were drawn back to the powerful figure hunched over the floor.

 

As sweat began to dampened his shirt, outlines of Will’s muscles came into view, stirring something deep in Nigel’s chest. The sleeves that were hitched up to his biceps revealed strong forearms that managed to look elegant as it laboriously dismantled the lodge’s floorboards.

 

It was an arresting sight to behold, and it made Nigel realize just how little he knows about his beloved’s nature.

 

In his mind Will was always this slender and slight thing, a bit too thin and light for his height, yet still fitting perfectly in his arms. This very moment showed him just how far from ‘feminine’ his little darling was. The man absolutely exuded the masculine charms Nigel thought he was immune to. Sweat, musk, and aggression fit him just as beautifully as his gentle smiles did, or his sultry looks, or the sight of him cooking barefoot in the kitchen.

 

“You’re so fucking beautiful.” Nigel blurted out without even meaning to.

 

Will paused and looked up, cheeks pink in shock and embarrassment. It was the first time in a while Nigel managed to genuinely catch him off guard. It was satisfying, and yet the victory felt empty at the same time.

 

Will quietly resumed his work, saying nothing back to the man as he hid a hopeful little smile. 

 

***

 

 

Pulling off the floorboards was a surprisingly easy task. Despite it’s superior construction, the cabin was old and neglected. Half of the wood was either rotting or infested by termites, and it only took a few good hacks until the they came off in large flaking chunks.

 

Before the hour was up, Will was already outside, tending to a small campfire that quickly grew into a roaring fire. Nigel joined in, shivering as Will fed the bloodied planks into the pit, along with whatever piece of evidence he couldn’t clean from the lodge.

 

“You weren’t attacked that night, were you?” Nigel asked, warming himself in front of the fire.

 

“No.” Will immediately answered.

 

“But you did brought that boy up to our apartment.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did you fuck him?” Nigel asked through gritted teeth. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the cold, the blood loss, or helpless anger that he felt from the question alone, but his teeth rattled so hard against each other it made his skull ached like it did when the cop shot him in the head. Nigel wanted Will to kiss him just to stop his pathetic chattering, to stop the ache, to stop everything.

 

“No I did not- “ And that was enough for the man to close this damned distance that appeared between them. He grabbed Will’s head and slammed their lips together, knocking teeth against teeth and cutting their lips on their sharp edges. It wasn’t just a kiss. It was a claim, and voiceless plea to be claimed.

 

As if they were sharing one mind, Will moved over Nigel’s lips and fulfilled his need to be dominated. He pushed the man onto the ground, clambering over his lap so they could further deepen their kiss. With hands that smelled of sawdust he held on, gripping Nigel’s head as he made the man his again.

 

Nigel’s injured shoulder exploded in pain, but he grabbed Will’s slender waist anyways, grunting a he leaned back onto a fallen log for support. Nigel crushed Will’s sweaty body against him, groaning in relief as he let Will consumed them the same way he consumed his very thoughts.

 

“God, I fucken’ hate you.” Nigel growled, biting down on Will’s lips. The man laughed weakly and sucked on the small wound, his eyes still hungry and wild despite the little pout his lips made.

 

“I’m sorry.” he murmured, looking up at Nigel with a virginal look that stirred the man’s cock.

 

“You are not fucking forgiven.”

 

Will nodded and pretended to believe that lie too.

 

**

 

When he helped Nigel got back onto his feet, Will noticed that the man has lost his golden pallor and was as pale as a sheet of paper. Concerned overtook his desire, and Will quickly guided Nigel to sit up against a log, brushing aside his hair aside so he may dab at the cold droplets of sweat forming on his forehead.

 

“Hang on just for a little bit more okay? I’ll dump the body and get back as soon as I can.”

 

He only managed to take one step before Nigel’s hand caught his and held him in place. “I’m coming with you.”

 

“But Nigel-“

 

“I’m coming with you.” He said again, this time wearing an expression that left no room for argument.

 

Will nodded and offered his hand once more. The man took it, surprised at Will’s strength as the man helped him up. He left the man leaning against a tree as he went inside and hois Michael’s corpse up onto his shoulder.

 

“Can you walk by yourself?” he asked, waiting for Nigel to catch up to his pace. “I can’t carry both you and the body at the same time.”

 

“Fine.”

 

“It won’t be far.”

 

“Fine.” Nigel repeated through gritted teeth.

 

Nigel followed behind as Will trudged through the overgrown path of the thick forest. The man moved with relative ease, and though Nigel could hear the occasional grunt of exertion and sharp intake of breath, Will remained silent throughout his trek.

 

For an untrained man with a slender figure, Will was definitely stronger than the average Joe. As impressive was his various physical feat was, Nigel knew that Will’s real strength lied not in his physical prowess, but in his exceptional mental fortitude.

 

Time and time again he witnessed the man plunged deep to the bedrock of insanity. He’ll struggle and flail with tears and whimpering, but Will would always come back, wholly and unabashedly himself, victorious over his demons.

 

For someone like that, carrying a dead body while trekking through thick woods seemed like child’s play.

 

Nigel tried to follow suit, channeling the very spirit that he admired from the man before him, but with every step that he took, his wound would protest and paralyzed his body with flashes of pain.

 

‘Walk. Fucking walk you weak piece of shit.' Nigel berated himself, as if the mere act of walking could erase the very shame of defeat and the pain of betrayal.

 

Will could feel the anguish clouding over Nigel like a cloud of poisonous miasma. Yet despite sensing his struggles, Will he didn’t stop or slowed his even pace. To stop and offer him help would be an insult, and after a vivid encounter with his own weakness, Nigel needed to find his strength back again.

 

So Will just continued walking on, focusing on clearing a path for Nigel to follow. The man may feel impotent and weak, but Will knew that he would persevere. Nigel was strong, and even if his own faith wavered, Will would always be the first person to believe in him.

 

**

 

 

They heard the river first before they caught sight of it. It was a malevolent body of water, with churning maws that tinged the water brown with mud and dirt. Will braved into it’s depth without much hesitance. Yet despite his intrepid spirit, he only managed to wade up to his knees before they began to wobble unsteadily and slip on the mossy rocks below.

 

He placed Michael’s naked body on the unsteady surface, holding it down as he encouraged the lungs and stomach to take on water. Once the corpse has sufficiently lost it’s buoyancy, Will let go allowed the current carry it away, pulling it out of sight and into it’s raging depth.

 

Satisfied with his work, Will waded back to shore to display Michael’s discarded clothes onto a log, haphazardly arranging them like someone would before they took off for a swim.

 

Weeks from now they would find his body somewhere downriver. The PI and police would assumed a tragic swimming accident as his cause of death, and Michael’s corpse would already be bloated and decayed to offer any differing evidence. It wasn’t the most elaborate of set up, but given the constraints of their situation, it would simply just have to do.

 

After completing his task, Will joined Nigel as he rested on a nearby boulder. The injured man looked terrible, all pale and rigid as he bore his agony in silence. When Will came near, Nigel held out his hand and for him to take, making the man face break out into a smile.

 

Will gingerly placed himself onto Nigel’s lap, taking great care not to bear his entire weight down onto him. The ends of his trouser clung together and soaked Nigel’s, but they were warm pressed against each other like this. For a gloriously peaceful moment Will sighed and wondered if this was the end of their tumultuous storm.

 

It was soon evident that it had barely even begun.

 

**

 

“Were you going to let him kill me?” Nigel asked, his voice no longer angry or afraid. He’s just sounded tired, defeated; emotions that was so foreign to the man that it made Will feel oddly offended,

 

“Never.” he hissed in indignation. “If I wanted you to die then I would’ve used my own hands to do it.”

 

“Romantic.” Nigel replied dryly. His sarcastic drawl elicited a sound of discontent out of Will, making his teeth clicked against each other in mild frustration.

 

“You can joke all you want, but you’re as much mine as I am yours.” Will whispered, answering Nigel’s sharp jab with an uncomfortable amount of earnestness. “No amount of prostitutes and lies between us could ever change that.”

 

“Is that it? Is that what this mess is all about? Punishing me for going to a goddamn whorehouse?” Nigel shoved the man off his lap and limped away. “Fuck Will! We weren’t even fucking at that point! We still haven’t fucked.”

 

“Doesn’t make you any less mine.” Will growled back, feeling the ragged ends of his patience unfurl at the man’s excuses. Nigel just shook his head in disbelief, hating how much he enjoyed Will’s desire to monopolize him completely.

 

Will followed Nigel’s feeble steps until he caught up with him. He offered his arm to help steady him, and Nigel gratefully held on as they navigated their way back to civilization.

 

Something inside him screamed for him to stop and drop the subject, that Nigel wasn’t ready to understand, but Will couldn’t stop his lips, eternally hopeful that this man would eventually understand.

 

“It’s not just about that.” Will said, his voice betraying nothing of his frustration and desire for violence. “It’s not just about the prostitutes and lies Nigel.”

 

“Then what the fuck is it about?!  Just fucking-“ Another flash of pain overwhelmed him and sent Nigel sagging onto a nearby tree, curling into himself like a worm dropped on a wet pavement. He felt as pathetic as one, a shriveled up insect taken out of his element, only good to be squashed into the ground.

 

How could someone like Will chose him after seeing just how weak he was?

 

Will wanted to leave Nigel in the woods alone, to punish him further for his stubbornness, but Will was not that heartless. He abandoned his vengeful pride and came to the man’s aid, holding him steady and soothing him through the pain.

 

There may be unpaid debts and unsaid words between them, Will needed to comfort Nigel as much as the man to be comforted. They were like magnets. When one shifts, the other would surely come bounding in. It’s in their nature to do so.

 

“Being loved by you doesn’t feel real.’ Will said quietly. “The endless praises and unceasing desire… It’s like you engage in a game of willful blindness just to satisfy your fantasies.”

 

“Fantasies? Blindness? How dare you-“

 

“Yes.” Will cuts, the decisiveness in his voice halting Nigel’s indignant protests. “First you limit us to a platonic friendship while you use me to indulge in your possessive behavior. Then after you’ve gotten over the idea two men fucking, you came to me not as an equal, but as an admirer-“

 

“And is that so fucking bad? Have you looked at yourself blue eyes?” Nigel shouted. “Anyone would take one good look at you and fall to their fucking knees. Just look at your class, or my goddamn men. Better yet, look at that creepy ass cunt you sent after me. You are completely aware of your goddamn influence, so why would you punish me for doing something as natural as breathing?”

 

“Because I don’t want you as my goddamn acolyte Nigel!” Will bellowed, his composure breaking with Nigel’s every words. “I don’t need to be in another unbalanced relationship. I had enough of those to last a lifetime.”

 

Nigel was speechless, confused and frustrated by this confounding man. He wanted to hate him. He wanted to throw his hand up and say ‘I give up.’ But something tells him to hold on, to find beauty in Will’s righteous anger.

 

It was easy to do so, because even when he hated him, Nigel still loved Will.

 

Like a tree uprooted from it’s soil, the man fell forward and rested his head onto Will’s trembling shoulder. He nuzzled right into his bite mark, where he swore loyalty and devotion to the man, where he thought he finally found his home.

 

“I don’t get it. I don’t fucken get it.  This is the only way I know how to love darling.” Nigel laughed dejectedly. “Don’t you know why they call me the Mad Dog of Bucharest? Because that’s what all I am, a fucking animal. So just take the goddamn leash and let me fucking love you.”

 

Quiet descended on them both. “I don’t want to be your owner Nigel.” Will whispered, voice as fragile as glass. “I don’t want to be some ideal for you to worship, or a replacement for your wife.” Will’s tired hand reach up and rubbed his eyes, praying that they might find them dry. They weren’t. “I just want to be seen as I am.”

 

Seeing this beautiful creature weep so desperately tormented Nigel more than any of the injuries he had ever sustained. He pulled Will into his arms like he’s done a thousand times before, breathing into his hair, desperate to soothe and comfort him “Oh love.” Nigel sighed. He kissed Will’s eyes and tasted his tears, burning his bloodied lips on the salty droplets

 

”I was there when you tried to find yourself in the fountains of Italy. I was there when your nightmares came made you into something small and weak. I was there when you took that bloody step and decided to be strong, to stop pretending to be good and ashamed of your natural desires.

 

“I pulled you out of that fountain and brought you into my home. I held you close and chased those nightmares away. I held that man down so you may find your footing, and afterwards I washed the blood and brain from the soles of your feet.”

 

Tears were now flowing freely down both of their faces. It was as if their body was already grieving for the loss they’re trying so desperately tried to prevent.

 

“Nigel I... I-” Will whispered, failing to summoned the words he knew and felt.

 

“I know darling. I love you too.” Nigel whispered, clutching his shoulders as another wave of pain washed over him. “I just wish your love wouldn’t be so fucking painful. FUCK.”

 

Will held onto the man as he shook and cursed and shouted. When the fight finally let him, Will gently kissed his lips and helped him back onto his feet.

 

“… Lets get you to a hospital, okay?” he said, worried about the sickly sheen that has overtaken the man’s visage.

 

Nigel nodded, leaning his whole weight against Will’s, unable to do much else.

 

 

**

 

They walked with short steps, Will holding up Nigel by his healthy shoulder and waist, carrying the bigger man without a single complaint. In any other situation, Nigel’s pride wouldn’t have let him be carried like that, but the pain and exhaustion has began to set in his bones, and the man felt like every new movement induce another new wave of pain.

 

Suffice to say that when his feet failed to move, he got onto Will’s back without much complaint.

 

Half delirious with pain, the Romanian held on with his one good hand. His injured one hung uselessly beside him, throbbing with Will’s purposefully gentle steps. His vision was a blur of cold sweat and hazy edges, but he could still make up the silver line of tears that ran down the side of Will’s cheeks smooth cheeks.

 

 “You’re beautiful.” Nigel mumbled, too weak to reach up and wipe those tears away. “God, you’re so beautiful.”

 

Will answered only with hitched urging for the man to hang on and not go to sleep. When they were out of the thick wilderness of the wood, Nigel’s breath evened out and the man fell unconscious.

 

**

 

A familiar song roused Nigel from oblivion. “Stop.” He wheezed, stumbling back to put his feet back onto the floor. Will swayed but did nothing to lower Nigel onto the ground.

 

“Just bear with it just for a little while. We’re almost at the car.”

 

“Put me down.”

 

“No Nigel. You need to go to the hospital.”

 

“Darling.” Nigel said, and the weak croak of his voice made Will want to start crying again. “Put me down.”

 

And so he did, slowly lowering Nigel onto the gravel pathway right in front of the castle’s entrance. Nigel stumbled and found purchase on a carved railing, and he held on as he savored the thick melodious sound of the cello coming out of the castle. 

 

“My wife used to play this song all the damn time.” Nigel said with a nostalgic smile. “She used to play lots of songs actually, and not just for practice or make to quick buck. That girl loved playing so much that sometimes her finger would hardened up and rip apart on the strings.” He chuckled.

 

“I thought that if I could get her to love me half as much as she loved her music, then I could be the happiest man in the world.” He whispered. “When I saw you in Florence, you eyes held the same intense love that Gabi had for her music. I knew they weren’t meant for me, but I thought, I could be happy if you could look at me everyday with those gorgeous blue eyes.”

 

“Weren’t you?” Will asked.

 

“I was, god damn it, so why weren’t you?”

 

Nigel turned to Will and saw his tear stricken face bore the anguish of the present and past. It was like seeing mortality in the divine, and with every drop of tears Nigel could feel his soul rend anew. “Why are you crying darling?” he asked, wishing he had the strength to walk over and kissed his tears away.

 

Will closed the distance that Nigel could not travel and took his cold hands inside his warm trembling ones. “I never entertained the possibility that my love for you would be too violent. Too… distasteful.”

 

‘It’s not.’ Nigel wanted to reply, but the words felt like lies settling on his lips. So instead, the man just pulled Will close rested his head on his chest, swaying together along with the music.

 

“Are we dancing Nigel?” Will asked, amused by the absurdity of the situation yet finding it impossible to either laugh or smile.

 

“Yes darling.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because the music moved me, and I wanted it to move you too.” He said, wishing he could open his eyes to watch the man’s beautiful face, but his eyes refused to open and even swaying soon felt impossible. He stopped. “So, do they move you Will? Does simple sentimentality still reach you, or are you so far above us mortals that you can only be satisfied by painful sacrifices?”

 

 “Of course I can.” Will sobbed, already sensing the incoming tragedy. “Nigel please-“

 

“I love you Will.” Nigel said, his voice so soft and fragile it shattered Will’s heart into a million of pieces. “… but you’re asking me for the impossible.”

 

“Nigel I-“

 

The man opened his eyes. “Go home darling.” He whispered. “I’ll have Darko drive me to my doctor, alright?”

 

“But-“

 

“Go home.” Nigel said, and summoned whatever strength he had left to climb up to the castle doors.

 

Will could’ve chased after him and carried him off to the hospital himself. Hell, he could’ve pulled the man back and took the heart he refused to give to him. He had the strength and the brutality of a thousand killer, but they were useless when the man he loved has chosen to leave him once more.

 

So he stood there and watched as Nigel’s back disappeared into the castle. When they were out of sight, Will felt just as gutted as the day Hannibal eviscerated him.

 

**

 

There wasn’t much pain now, only a numbing heaviness that weighed him down even to his very breath. Each stroke of the cello guided him towards its source,  drawing him deeper past the still crowded ballroom and into an adjoining room where the musician rested and tuned their instruments.

 

Nigel didn’t barge into the space, despite wanting to so very deeply. Instead he held onto the knob of the door, leaning against it as he listened to that nostalgic sound, as if the notes itself could’ve saved him from his injuries.

 

Yet despite his well intentioned gesture to keep out of the their hair, Nigel stumbled through the door and into the group of shocked musician. Naturally music stopped and was replaced by a woman’s scream.

 

“No, no, keep fucking playing.” Nigel waved at the shocked faces of the string quartet, but they already exploded into a flurry of panic, abandoning their instrument to search for help. Nigel scoffed and pushed away a man’s helpful hand, mumbling something about cutting his balls off he tried to touch him again.

 

“Still as stubborn as ever Nigel.” A cold voice called out, cutting through the panic of the room with exasperated disbelief. Nigel looked up, ready to snarl back his reply, but the moment he caught sight of fiery red hair, he was rendered speechless.

 

“Well.” Nigel grinned. “Hello there gorgeous.” He drawled before falling to the floor and losing consciousness.

Chapter Text

 

The smell of antiseptic stung Nigel’s sensitive nose and jolted him back to consciousness. Everything he saw was white, from the curtains, to the sheet, to the damn blinders hanging from the pristine bone colored windows. It transported him back to a time where he was young and helpless, where angry nuns and apathetic doctors would tie him down as they fumbled with pseudo science fixes to cure him of his ‘violent temperament’’.

 

It was not a good memory to remember.

 

“God fucking dammit.” he croaked, ripping out the various tubes sticking out of his face and body.

 

Erratic beeps on the heart monitor called on frantic footsteps, and before long foreign limbs were holding his down like tendrils of some shadowy eldritch monstrosity. Out of their millions of mouths they screamed and whispered, shouting curse, codes, and robotic lines that was supposed to be comforting.  

 

“Get the fuck off me!” Nigel shouted, reliving the fear that overwhelmed him back at the hunting lodge. “Will?” Nigel called. “Will!” he shouted, but even though his throat ripped and his mouth filled his blood, his beloved did not answer.

 

A cool hand fell over his eyes, bringing in the nostalgic scent of wood polish and expensive rosin. “Calm down Nigel.” Gabi whispered. “Calm down or they will sedate you and send you to a sanatorium.”

 

Where the pleas and threats from doctors and nurses alike failed, those words registered deep in Nigel’s psyche, bringing up his secret fear of madhouses and straightjackets.

 

He swallowed the blood that had gathered from his scratched up throat and nodded. Nigel forced his sweat soaked body to relax, and slowly those endless tendrils retreated. The cool has left his burning lids and was immediately replaced by the sight of nosy doctors and over attentive nurses.

 

There were no monsters here. Only men, mortal, with their weak flesh that he has rendered a thousand times over. ‘Nothing to fear’ Nigel told himself, and he repeated that phrase over and over as the people began asking him questions.

 

“How are you feeling sir?”

“Can you remember your name? The date?”

“Can you tell us how you got shot?”

 

Their questions made want to get up and kill, but the very real threat of a sanatorium was still fresh in his mind. So Nigel behaved, nodding and grunting out his answers, but revealing nothing more.

 

Eventually the room began to empty, trickling out bodies like a broken spout. They left him with a fresh cannula on his healthy hand attached to a morphine pump. It hummed every time it administered it’s substantial doses.

 

Nigel hated that thing. Every pump of morphine filled him with a numb cottony feeling that further amplify his fear and weakness. It lowered his inhibitions, so much so that he became more animal than man, scratching and pulling at the tubes with his feeble claws.

 

“Stop pulling on it Nigel, you’re going to rip it out again.” The familiar voice said again, reaching with her rosin scented hand to pull his weakened ones away. When Nigel’s hand finally settled, the delicately calloused fingers remained there, patting him in what supposed to be a comforting gesture. Nigel didn’t feel comforted at all.

 

Hours seemed to pass and though the nurse had refill the pump twice already, Nigel still couldn’t bear to look at his long lost wife. Gabi didn’t push him to either, so they sat together in a strange cacophony of silence that was so foreign for them to be in.

 

They were never the type of couple that sat together in companionable silence. Quiet spells would be filled with screams of fighting or fucking. Now that they were reunited, Nigel felt no desire for either of those activities.

 

Still, he couldn’t help himself but made a small quip.

 

“I fucken’ told you not to bring me to a hospital if I get shot.”

 

Crimson tipped fingers turned to claws that dug deep into the back of his hand.

 

“Unbelievable.” Gabi grumbled, flipping her shoulder length red hair in a flurry of a anger. “’Thank you for calling the ambulance Gabi. Thank you for saving my life Gabi. Thank you for not calling the cops on your useless criminal husband.’ “She spat, exasperated as Nigel remembered her. “You still as selfish and self centered as I remembered you.”

 

“Says the disloyal cunt who ran off with a goddamned tourist.”

 

Gabi jerked away as if Nigel’s words had physically wounded her. Her hateful hands folded neatly back into her lap, tightening into fists. “I’m sorry.” She murmured in a small voice that made Nigel regret raising his in the first. “I am so, so sorry Nigel.”

 

Her strained apology drained whatever fury his weakened body had mustered up, leaving him flailing for words. His old Gabi never apologized. She would scream and guilt him into one, but the girl was too prideful for such things. Now here she was, with shoulder length hair that made her look mature and the same shitty mascara that ran when she cried.

 

“I know you must’ve hated me after Charlie and the police, but I-“ Gabi sobbed. “God, Nigel. You almost died right in front my eyes again. Can we stop fighting for one stupid second and just-” She sobbed away from him, her whole body shivering and shaking.

 

The little spitfire of a girl that Nigel fell in love with was nowhere to be found. In her place was an ashen-faced woman, with skin that grief had washed out and chip nails that she would bit out of anxiety.

 

 Nigel didn’t want to feel happy seeing someone he loved so sad, but knowing that an old flame still cared for him warmed his lonely heart.

 

“Alright.” He said, grunting when his wife rushed over to bury her face in his chest. “Alright, alright. It’s okay.” He murmured, letting her dirty his sheet with her blackened tears. Nigel told himself he was too weak to push her away as he secretly relished in whatever warmth her small body could provide him.

 

Outside of the hospital room Will and Darko stood side by side, watching the couple reunite in a tender embrace that made them shift for different reasons. Kefir sniffed and nudged at Will’s hand, sensing his master’s distress. Will absentmindedly ruffled the dog’s head, wishing he could do the same to ease Darko’s agitation.

 

“That fucking idiot.” Darko sighed. “Don’t worry about it Will. It’s those meds they got him in. It probably made him all tired and-“

 

“You don’t need to make excuses for him Darko.” Will replied, his face a calm river that betrayed nothing of the dangerous currents surging underneath. He reached into his coat pocket and handed Nigel’s favorite brand of cigarettes to his childhood friend.

 

“Don’t tell him I was here.” He said. Darko opened his mouth to protest, which Will quickly silenced down with an easy shake of his hand. “Please Darko. Please don’t tell him I was here.”

 

The man closed his mouth and jerked his head down in a stuttering nod.

 

“If that’s what you really want.” he shrugged, pretending to be flippant and failing spectacularly at it.

 

Will croaked out a defeated laugh and threw one last glance at the two embracing couple. It was a sweet picture of a sick husband comforting his worried wife. It should be him there in her place, but Will had no desire to fight for some who sent him away.

 

“It’s not what I want at all Darko.” He sighed. “But it’s what needs to be done.”

 

He bid Darko goodbye and pulled on Kefir’s leash. The white dog looked up at him, then at Nigel, and wagged in happy confusion. “He’s not coming home, boy.” Will said, kneeling down to pet the dog, trying to console the canine and his own broken heart.

 

**

 

When Nigel woke up in the middle of the night, he found new flowers on his bedside table. His wallet was there, along with keys to his Alfa Romeo and a brand new phone still sealed in his box. A neat scrawl of writing that could only be Darko sat on top, a note telling him to call him as soon as he wakes up

 

Gabi was sitting on a nearby chair, scribbling notations on a stack of sheet music. Her fingers tapped silently to an invisible metronome, stopping only to mark or erase something in her notes. The sight took him back to the very first time he had ever approached her. She was just a student back then, fresh out of the conservatory. Nigel had joked about her writing for the blind and the spirited girl glared at him, pulled him down, and proceeded to lecture him about basic music theory.

 

It should be a heartwarming memory, but with the tender feelings also came with bitter flashes of last year’s terrible events. It wasn’t something he wanted to remember, especially now that his body felt like it was just put into one of Darko’s massive pill presses.

 

“You’re still here.” Nigel said, hating how he sounded relieved when he had meant to sound hateful.

 

“Of course.” Gabi laughed. “I’m still your wife, Nigel. In sickness and in health, remember?”

 

The man didn’t have the energy to point out her hypocrisy. Instead he dragged his body up to sit against the headboard, looking around for any sign of his beloved’s presence. “Did anyone come to visit?”

 

“Darko did. He left you your cigarette.” She gestured towards the pack, which she quickly swiped before Nigel reach for it. He groaned and held out his hand.

 

“Just one. Please. I won’t even light it up. I just need the taste.”

 

Gabi gave him a reproachful look before complying. “You’re an addict.” She muttered. Nigel grunted and slipped the filter between his teeth, trying to soothe the itch on his lips that he knows only Will could relieve.

 

“Anybody else?” He asked, trying to remember the taste of Will’s lips on the paper filter. “Did anyone else came?

 

“Were you expecting someone else?”

 

“Yes. Will Graham.”

 

The name made Gabi stiffen. “Another one of your criminal friends?” she muttered. “Oh, I’m sorry. ‘Business associates’, is the word you people use, right?”

 

Nigel threw her a sharp glare stilled the scratching of her pencil and wondering eyes. Gabi was familiar with that dangerous look. She just wasn’t used to seeing it turned towards her like this.

 

“No. No Will Graham. Only Darko and his men in the last four days.” She quietly answered, feeling small and weak under his intense glare.

 

Nigel nodded curtly. There was a coldness inside of him that made the man want to shiver, like an ancient charnel pit opening up in his guts. They overflow with cold skeletons that dragged his flesh into itself. Nigel wanted to sink into that hole, for his darling Will hasn’t visited him in the last four days. 

 

Disturbed at the way Nigel stared emptily into the space before him, Gabi slowly began to speak. She first talked about her new job, and when she got braver, the girl began filling the silence with stories about her travels.

 

She painted a dismal picture of the months that they were apart. A shared apartment in New Jersey. Late bills and Charlie’s unemployment checks. A failed audition at the New York philharmonics, and eventually, the breakup.

 

There were moments in her stories where she mentioned Charlie and several others by name, but Nigel didn’t explode into one of his legendary fits. He remained quiet and unmoving, pretending to listen, to care, and doing nothing to hide how terrible he was at it.

 

Gabi should’ve been relieved. Silence was better than the endless screaming matches that they had in the past. Silence was preferable to some righteous gloating or the stream of unimpressive ‘I told you so’s. Silence was a welcomed change to the wrathful man that was her husband.

 

Right?

 

“Say something Nigel.” Gabi pleaded, twisting her fingers until they turned white from the pressure alone. Nigel blinked, his lids still heavy from the medication.

 

“What do you want me to say?”

 

“I don’t know. Something. Anything! It’s not like you to be so… quiet.”

 

“Yeah well. Getting shot does that to you.” He sighed, motioning towards his shoulder and forehead. The circle of pink scar under his dirty hair stuttered Gabi’s breath. She stood up, reaching with her fingers to caress the pink scar, but Nigel’s uncoordinated hands caught her hand and pushed it away. “No.” He growled. How dare she, thinking she still had the right to touch him after all that she did.

 

Gabi stilled but pushed Nigel’s hand away, taking his head into her hands as she thumbed over the pink scar that should’ve killed Nigel all these months ago. “I was so wrong.” She said with a trembling voice. “I was so wrong to choose Charlie when I had you. You’re the love of my life Nigel. It took me a year to realize that, but I’m finally here.’

 

Her words made him flinch. Will had said something similar to him right after he resigned himself to oblivion.

 

“You’re here. You’re finally here.” He had said with honeyed voice that dripped along with his sapphire eyes. Nigel didn’t know what he meant back then, but now he does, and the man felt so terribly stupid.

 

“You shouldn’t have bothered staying.” Nigel mumbled around his grief. “If you leave your address with Darko, he’ll send someone over with the divorce papers.”

 

“Divorce?” Gabi shook her head vehemently. “No… No! Nigel, I don’t want a divorce.”

 

“Why the hell not? We’re fucking terrible for each other.” Nigel sighed. “You used to scream at me for killing people. I used to scream at you for screaming at me for killing people. Nothing has changed. I still kill people.” The man could laugh at the irony of everything. “Wrong is wrong. That’s the exact words that you use.” Nigel said disdainfully.

 

“I… that’s- It doesn’t matter anymore.” Gabi stuttered, failing to convince even herself with that pathetic line. “I’ve changed Nigel. I see that you didn’t do it because you wanted to. That your circumstances forced-“

 

“Forced?” Nigel let out a mocking laugh. “Oh Gabi, nobody forces me to do anything.”

 

A flash of a memory came back to him, of Will’s gentle hands wrapping his mangled shoulders. “These days I rarely do things that I don’t want to.” He said, placing a kiss which Nigel had pulled away from.

 

He was so naïve, so blind to assume that the man was a weak little thing. He should’ve known that Will was more than just a pretty little thing he could keep and embrace. The man was a force of nature, and he wanted to be loved like one. Nigel was just too stupid to realize that.

 

“We’re just aren’t suited for each other, love.” He said to her, pouring every ounce of love he had left for her in those gentle words. “Of course I’ll give you a generous alimony and-“

 

“No.”

 

“Gabi, please-“

 

“But I am still your wife!” She shouted. “ No amount of money can change that. Even now I still bear the shame of your actions. I lost my job, my family, my friends…They wouldn’t even let me back into the opera house!” Gabi looked so completely lost, confused and undone by the mistakes she refused to acknowledge.

 

“I have nothing Nigel, not even my cello.” She sobbed. “You’re the only person I had left in this entire world.”

 

She forced the words out with such anguish that Nigel couldn’t help but stare at her in quiet awe. She was beautiful in her rage, breathtaking even as she uncovered an avalanche of painful memories. Even after everything, Nigel still respected her.

 

Yet no matter how deeply their he loved her in the past, Gabi just didn’t move him like Will did.

 

Where she would rear up at him and nursed her wounded pride, Will always came to Nigel for comfort, openly asking for him with his body, his words, his all consuming eyes. While Gabi flailed childishly amongst the consequences of her mistakes, Will endured his with a certain quiet dignity, hiding his pain against all eyes but Nigel’s.

 

It felt strange to compare one against the other. Gabi had long came into her womanhood, but years later she remained a child, bringing with her childish problems and selfish needs that Nigel had no patience for. Will only ever brought him peace, and even in his nightmares, the man made Nigel feel the impossible.

 

He made him feel at home.

 

He missed him. He needed him. He could not endure another moment without his vengeful love.

 

“I’ll help you get your job back.” Nigel said as gently as he could. “I’ll set you up with new place, a new cello, a car; the works.  When you’re settled and ready, we’ll sit down together and talk about alimony, okay?”

 

“No.” She snapped. “Who is she?”

 

“What?”

 

“You wouldn’t talk about alimonies and divorce unless you have another skank that you’ve move on to.”

 

“Jesus Christ.” Nigel rubbed his face, unsure of what to make of Gabi’s piercing words.

 

“Don’t lie to me.” Gabi laughed mockingly. “I know you Nigel. You’re an addict. You don’t just stop loving someone. You don’t have it in you.” She scoffed, crossing her arms over her chest with a pained look that screamed of satisfaction. Nigel just sighed and laid back tiredly.

 

“Oh Nigel.” She circled her way from one side of Nigel’s bed to the other, her heels clicking on the linoleum floor. “And here you are, giving me grief for loving another man.” She said with a manic gleam in her eyes. Nigel frowned, unused to seeing her so calculative and bitter.

 

The girl smiled at his disturbed expression and combed back his hair, sighing wistfully as she finally traced the pink scar that marked the day her loved had died for her.

 

“It’s okay Nigel. No need to apologize. I’ve already forgiven you. After all, the vow says ‘Till death do us part’, remember?”

 

 

**

 

To continue with normalcy after such a tragedy seemed like an insurmountable task for anyone to undertake, but Will Graham was no stranger to such cruel routines. He had enough practice after all. Hannibal was fond of throwing one calamity after another just for his own amusement. After a while, Will had developed some sort of twisted immunity against the immense suffering of life.

 

Leaning into the pain was key. When his heart smothered into itself at the sight of Nigel’s shirt, Will closed his eyes and imagined the man’s bare chest, all so he could intensify the pain until he was reduced into an emotionless puppet, who would complete doing laundry with automatic precision.

 

Indulging in Alcohol and food was a popular tactic, but after so many wasteful benders and binges, Will knew that a sober mind and a clean body was better equipped to accept the whatever emotional baggage that might wash up in the shores of his mind.

 

Violence was also an option he considered taking, but it felt hollow to kill and not be witnessed. He needed to be seen by the very man he’s trying to forget, and no amount of physical exertion and adrenaline rush could quell that very need inside of him.

 

A less destructive mode of self expression would be simple talk therapy. It didn’t need to be in a clinical environment. Even talking to a stranger about nothing in particular would help ease the relentless loneliness that his beloved had left in his gaping soul.

 

Will didn’t want to talk to a stranger, or to Kefir, or to whatever flimsy acquaintances he’s made in Bucharest. Will only wanted Nigel, and the man chose to walk away form him.

 

It was a terrible thing to not be unseen and unheard, and it wasn’t until the fifth day of Nigel’s hospitalization that his mind began to unravel and conjured images of Hannibal.

 

“Hello Will.” The hallucination always greeted him, polite and pleasant as he lounged in that garish suit that could only look tasteful on him. Will scoffed and moved passed the specter, ignoring his insistent ‘Hello’s and ‘How are you’s.

 

It was when Hannibal appeared on his bed that Will finally acknowledged him, bare except for towel around his waist.

 

“I don’t need you Hannibal.” He said, stepping out of the fabric in all of his naked glory.

 

“Ah.” Hannibal hummed. Each extended syllabled caressed his dampened skin. “If you weren’t lonely and in need, then why did your mind conjured me up then?”

 

Will scoffed, slipping into a pair of sweatpants that he immediately stepped out of. It was Nigel’s. and with Hannibal here leaning into the pain was just impossible to do.

 

“I don’t know.” Will sighed before putting his defensed back up. “Maybe I’m just a goddamn masochist. Have you ever considered that, Doctor?”

 

“Hm. Masochism.” Hannibal rolled the words against his tongue like a mouthful of wine. “We should explore that aspect yourself when you come back to me.” The air stiffened and Will turned, completely dressed but feeling completely bare under Hannibal’s intense gaze. The man smiled hopefully at him. “Now that this affair has come to it’s conclusion, you will come back to me, won’t you?”

 

There was nothing funny about Hannibal’s gentle suggestion, but Will sorted and laughed at him like he just said the stupidest thing he the world. “Is this the brilliant plan buried deep in my subconscious? Replace one cowardly asshole with another?”

 

“You did it before. You settled for that cheap imitation after your terribly clichéd European tour.”

 

“You’re a terrible cliché Hannibal.”

 

“I resent that.” Hannibal frowned, his expression softening in feline disapproval. “And I resent not having you with me” he murmured.

 

Hallucination or not, those words felt like it was the indisputable truth that they both would not face.

 

“Come home to me Will.” Hannibal said wistfully. “Come home and ease this pain for both of us.”

 

Will couldn’t answer. He would not. The man just finished dressing and scattered the fragile space that held Hannibal’s form. He laid down and closed his eyes, but like the days before, he found neither solace nor slumber.

 

In the morning Will woke up with his mind made up. He pulled the Mont Blanc pen Nigel gave him and began writing his resignation letter to the university.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

On the morning that they took the morphine pump away, Gabi finally felt comfortable enough to leave Nigel alone in in the hospital. It wasn’t a hard thing to do. The man was far from a good company. Most of the time he moped and stared out the window with his unlit cigarette between his lips. When they do speak, it was only to pick on old wounds and rub salt on open ones.

 

Nigel remained unpleasant and abrasive, even more so than she remembered, but Gabi relished every spiteful retort and muttered curses. If they can argue with each other like they did before, then maybe they’ll eventually return to the love and passion they once had shared.

 

So she left him, towing along her tattered suitcase and a small seed of hope in her fluttering chest. Nigel barely blinked at her departure, but she knew that he would eventually miss her. The man was terrible at being alone, so even if he did hate her, he would still miss the empty space that once held her figure.

 

After all, distance would only make the heart grow fonder, right?

 

 

***

 

The sight of her old neighborhood filled Gabi with a sense of nostalgia, but as she walked out from the bus and past the old cafes, bakeries and bodegas, familiar faces of her neighbors looked past her as if she was an invisible phantom. Only a year has passed and she has become a stranger in a place that was supposed to be her home, and that part hurt her more than Nigel’s indifference of the suspicion of another woman.

 

‘It’s okay.’ She thought, unsure why the faint recognition of others meant so much to her. ‘Nigel would come to his senses and everything would be fine again

 

Relief came in the form of the polite little doorman who met her eyes with a look of mild surprise. “Mrs. Ibanescu!” He exclaimed, delighted at the sight of the old tenant. “You’re finally back ma’am! How was your holiday?” he smiled as he unburden her of her meager belongings.

 

“Very long, and very tiring.” She sighed in relief, stepping into the luxurious but unassuming building as she shed the air of poverty and the memory of that run down New Jersey apartment.

 

The old man chatted happily away, pressing the buttons for her and taking off his hat out of respect. Gabi enjoyed the gesture. It was the little privileges of a life she had wrongly abandoned, and Gabi was glad she was making steps into taking it back.

 

Polite doorman. Upscale but homely neighborhood. A loft on the highest floor of the tallest building in the area. This was where she belonged, not wallowing in in some poverty-stricken neighborhood with a lease so high ever the sale of her cello couldn’t even cover a year’s rent.

 

“Mr. Ibanescu was so terribly lonely when you were away. I think that’s why he got himself a new roommate.”

 

“Roommate?” Gabi frowned. “Darko has been living here?”

 

“Oh, no. Not Mr. Darko ma’am, though he does visits regularly.” The doorman exclaimed. “Mr. Graham is his name. An American! Quiet man, mostly keeps to himself.”

 

Just as the doorman finished his words, the elevator opened and revealed the very man they’ve been talking about. Gabi frowned at the sight of him. With his dark circles and unkempt hair, the man looked as terrible as Nigel was, only he was standing there without bullet holes stuck deep in his body.

 

Their eyes met, Will with recognition and Gabi with suppressed distaste. Neither had any intention to make friends with each other, but the man’s lips twitched up into a smile anyways, and he stepped aside to allow Gabi and the doorman to step out first.

 

“Ah! Mr. Graham!” The doorman exclaimed happily. “I’ll be happy to take your luggage as soon as I’m finished with Mrs. Ibanescu.”

 

“No thank you Johan. I will be fine on my own.” He said, setting his two bags aside and stepping close to Gabi. He moved the leash aside and held out his hand. “Will Graham. Nigel’s friend. I’ve been a guest of your husband for quite some time now.” He said with a perfectly polite, albeit, exhausted tone.

 

Gabi took his hand slowly and shook it, eyeing him up and down as if she could read the man from one glance alone. Noticing that he’s failing to make a good impression on the girl, Will thanked the doorman and took Gabi’s bag into his own hand. “I’ll open the door for you.” He muttered.

 

“Oh, there is no need Mr. Graham. I have my own keys.” Gabi said, jingling the brass key hanging from a keychain.

 

“I’m afraid your key wouldn’t work anymore. We just recently changed the lock. We changed the whole door actually. You know how Nigel gets.” Will chuckled, but the memory of Nigel’s little outburst held no humor for him now.

 

Gabi laughed along anyways, using it as an opportunity to show off how familiar she was with the husband that might as well be a stranger to her.

 

Will unlocked the new door and held it open for her, revealing a familiar looking loft that Gabi left in a much worse state that it currently was. There was no sign of Nigel’s things being thrown haphazardly around the room. Gone were the full ashtrays and dirty coffee cups that permanently littered the space. The place was now bright and clean, and even the previously untouched kitchen now looked well used and stocked.

 

The apartment looked… homely.

 

“Where do you want this?” Will asked, breaking Gabi out of her quiet musings.

 

“Oh, you can set it down right there.” She said, watching the unassuming man and his dog walk through the area like they owned it. “Are you Graham as in Will Graham?”

 

“That’s right.”

 

A quiet flash of recognition went through Gabi’s eyes, one that made Will nervous enough to drop her gaze.

 

“My husband was looking for you, did you know? He’s currently at the hospital.”

 

“Is he?” Will hummed, not at all surprised at the news. “You’ll have to give him my apology. He’s been away so much these days that I thought nothing of his absence.”

 

“I’m sure he’ll understand.” Gabi smiled thinly. “His job can be rather… demanding that way. He used to be away for days on end.”

 

“Ah, I see.” Will replied, suppressing the urge to tell her that Nigel always come back to him every single night. There was no need to hurt her like that, not when he already had one foot out the door.

 

They stared at each other in an awkward silence, one where neither wanted to break for fear of spilling decades worth of secret into each other’s ears. In Gabi’s eyes, Will looked like an unimpressive shabby old man, someone she imagined her husband would bully around the house to do the chores. ‘No wonder the place is so tidy.’ She thought, happy to find an acceptable answer that doesn’t undermine her absence.

 

Will on the other hand, understood the girl better than she understood her own self.

 

Gabi was nothing more than one of many girls who married too young and ran out on their unfortunate marriages. She chased after a bohemian dream, one with a lover she convinced herself was better for her than the man she married. Once her funds ran dry, so did her love, so now she’s back, hoping to make a meal out of the crumbs of other people’s broken affection.

 

It would be easy to eviscerate her into a sobbing mess. Will could silence a devil as eloquent as Hannibal and tame the wildness out of beasts as savage like Nigel. Destroying her self worth would be mere child’s play for him.

 

It would also be even easier to eviscerate her in the more literal sense. A few nick here, a trash bag full of bones there, and one simple lie would simply be enough to make Gabi Ibanescu disappear for the second time. ‘She asked me for some money and then left.’ He would tell those who asked, and Nigel would believe him. He would believe anything Will said as long as he’s allowed another taste of the sweet relief that love could give him.

 

He could do all of that and more, which was exactly why he needed to go before his baser instinct took over and destroy the woman Nigel has chosen.

 

Will was nothing but an interloper, intruding on a life that should’ve been hers. He subjected Nigel to the twisted affection that only people like he and Hannibal could understand. He shouldn’t have been surprised to see him walk right back into the safety of a familiar, benign love.

 

It’s like being left on that beach all over again, only this time, the separation felt final. He was a fool to try and seek an escape from that loneliness in the first place. Hannibal had left him there, and to find a new love in the midst of his punishment was tantamount to treachery. Gabi’s presence was a reminder of the impermanence of their arrangement. Nigel belonged to her just as Will belonged to Hannibal. No amount of sweet nothings and electric touches could change what has been written in the stars.

 

Will had no right to be here. Not anymore.

 

“Are you leaving now?” Gabi said impatiently as she motioned towards Will’s bags which propped open the heavy door.

 

“Yes, of course.” Will nodded, clicking his tongue to lead the happily oblivious dog out of their home. “Take care Gabi.” He said, though the words were aimed at the ghost of the man he had come to love, and at the space they had one shared in joyous companionship.

 

The door closed with a click, but it sounded like a gong echoing endlessly in his head. It repeated over and over until Will was deaf to the protest of his own ailing heart.

 

Keifr nuzzled his legs, roused by his master’s distress.

 

“It’s okay boy.” Will murmured, ruffling the dog’s head with fond affection. “I’ll leave you with one of Nigel’s men. Maybe Yerni would take you in. He’s a bit manic, but the guy seemed nice enough, doesn’t he?” Kefir barked his reply, still happy and oblivious of his master’s impending goodbye.

 

Will picked up his bags and entered the elevator, trying his best to schedule all the things he needed to do before he could leave the country. He still needed to pick up the last of his dry cleaning before he could meet up with the dean. Then there was the little get together his students insisted they have, which surprised Will for he never thought himself someone his student would favor. Afterwards he needed to stop by Yerni’s place and arrange a home for Kefir. Then finally, he should pick up his travel documents from Darko. He was the one who took care of his overstayed visa and expired passport in the first place.

 

The dizzying amount of tasks in his checklist made Will realize that Bucharest was not just some gateway he escaped to so he could forget about Hannibal. Will has put down roots in the ancient city, growing a small but intimate social circle that made leaving feel like ripping the very strands that has nourished his soul.

 

“It’ll be worth it.” Hannibal’s figure shimmered on the reflection of the elevator buttons. “You’re leaving for me.”

 

“No.” Will whispered back. “I’m leaving for him.”

 

**

 

“Wait!” Gabi’s shrill voice called out to him before the elevator door could close. Her painted nails clutched against the closing door and pried it open. “Before you go, can you tell me about the new girl Nigel has been seeing?”

 

Will drew in a sharp breath and tighten his fist until the firm leather of his duffle bag dug deep into his skin. “I think you need to speak to Nigel about that” he said tightly.

 

“But he won’t tell me anything!” She lamented. “He keeps lying and said that there wasn’t any other girl.”

 

“Nigel is a lot of things Gabi, but he is not a liar.” Will almost growled. The girl balked at the wild gleam that flashed through Will’s eyes. At that moment Gabi realized that Will was no mild mannered little man that picked up after his husband in exchange for rent. The man was dangerous, even more so than Nigel or any of his other acquaintance’s.

 

Will sighed and settled the dangerous beast that’s been aching to sink it’s claws in Gabi’s pretty little face. “There is no other woman.” He muttered, and just like that, the tension between them melted away and Gabi’s face exploded into smile that could light up cities.

 

“Are you sure?” she insisted.

 

“Positive.”

 

“Oh.” Gabi exclaimed. “That’s wonderful! I was so worried that it’s too late to make it work with him!” She rushed forward and caught Will’s torso in an awkward hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you soo much!”

 

Will didn’t return the exuberant hug that the girl gave him. ‘You wouldn’t thank me if you knew how his eyes burn every time he looked at me. How he called me to his bed, hungering for something that only my lips can sate. How his body craved for mine even before his mind could comprehend it. He was mine, little girl. He was my-

 

“Why are you leaving for America, Will Graham?” Gabi tilted her head up to him, and for a moment Will felt a rush of nostalgia overcome him. It was as if he was seeing Abigail for the first time, the not so innocent girl who was a mere victim of her own mistakes. Will’s heart softened, but the desire to open her neck did not waver.

 

As gently as he could, Will pushed the girl out of the elevator and pressed for the door to close. “I think you need to speak to Nigel about that too.” He said. Gabi looked like she wanted to question him further, but before she could, the doors to the elevator closed and provided Will with the silence he’s been desperate to avoid.

 

 

**

 

Nigel slipped the last cigarette in his pack and try to divine the taste of Will’s lips from it’s sweetened paper. The faint taste conjured up images of blood and sweat, of Will’s lightly toned body straining under iron weights and shivering as he breathed heavily. Nigel could still feel the warmth of blue eyes pouring over his every move that day in the gym. It fueled his various bravados, spurring his need to show the beautiful man just how strong he was for him.

 

Nigel never felt as powerful as he did back then, and when Will demanded for his submission, he happily shed off the strength of a thousand men just so he could kiss the water and blood off the man’s shapely feet.

 

If he could turn back time, then Nigel would happily return to that moment, before the whores, before the lies. Before Gabi.

 

“God. Fucking Gabi.” He sighed rubbing his face with his healing arm. The girl just made everything a thousand times more complicated.

 

“Ah, the old ball and chain eh?” Darko sniggered from the doorway. The man was wearing his usual suit and tie, though the sight of him bright daylight colors made the dark fabric looked more severe. “I would tell you that I know how it feels, but unlike you amice, I actually enjoy being with my wife.”

 

Nigel grinned and motioned his friend to come closer, clasping their hands together in brotherly love. “Took you long enough to come by pizda. I texted you days ago. Nigel rumbled, happy to see a friendly face that wasn’t Gabi or the nurse.

 

“I come everyday! Your wife just turns me away every single time.” He scoffed, dragging a seat close before collapsing into it with a huff. “I don’t think she liked me very much, amice.” He said humorlessly.

 

“I don’t think she ever liked you.” Nigel chuckled. “Or me, for that matter.”

 

“Christ, you’re getting dark again.” Darko rolled his eyes and slapped Nigel’s knees to snap him out of his darkening thoughts. “Hey, no more fucking suicides. You promised, frate.” He said thickly, looking away to hide his watering eyes. Nigel nodded firmly and turned his own head away, giving his friend the privacy he needed to wipe his face.

 

“Anyway. Tell me about Will.” Nigel swung his leg over the bed so he may sit down and look at Darko straight in his eyes. “How is he doing? Is he okay?”

 

“Nigel-“ The man shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

 

“Has he been asking for me?” Nigel pushed, his voice growing desperate by the second. “Does he know where I am?”

 

“I saw your Will Graham.” Gabi voice cuts through their heated exchange and stilled the two men into silence. Darko blinked and swallowed nervously, looking away so that his partner would neglect to see the guilt coloring his face.

 

With a vigor he could not muster up before, Nigel stalked over to the small figure of his wife and pulled her inside. Gabi yelped, yelling for Nigel to ease off, but the man just looked at her with the eyes of a trapped wolf ready to gnaw it’s own legs to escape.

 

“Tell me.” He pleaded, looking like he’s on his last wits. Gabi frowned, confused that when her husband finally reacted to her, it’s only for the strange man that just vacated their home.

 

“We passed each other just as he was leaving. He was kind enough to open the door for me. That’s it Nigel!” She yelled with a faint smile, mistaking Nigel’s desperate need to see the man as some vestigial jealousy he still held for her.

 

“Leave?” The man sputtered. “What do you mean leave? Like he’s going to the fucking market?”

 

“No Nigel, he looked like he was moving out. He had his bags and his dog with him and let the house all clean- Nigel!” Gabi shrieked and wrenched her arm away from his tightening grip. “What the hell is wrong with you?!” She shouted, but at that point, Nigel wasn’t even looking at her.

 

The man brushed her aside like she was nothing more than an offending fly. His goal was clear, and Nigel was intent on chasing after his beloved before he could leave his motherland.

 

With his car keys clutched tightly in his hands, Nigel trudge through the hall with bare feet and day old hospital pants. When his IV lines was caught on the corner of the hall Nigel listed his injured arm and ripped it away, worsening the wounds that had just healed.

 

That action alone alarmed the nurses standing by on the front desk. One by one they rushed over to him, first urging him back with their words, and when it failed, they used their body as a shield to stop his relentless advance. Nigel didn’t care. He pushed through them like a soldier might trample grass on his way to war, marching on fearlessly towards a war that he knew he would not win.

 

Crimson dripped from his hand as he clutched desperately onto his only means of escape. The sight alone made Gabi cover her mouth in horror, for her husband has turned this peaceful place of healing into a bloody battlefield, and it healers into casualties of war.

 

One by one the battered nurses were replaced by burly guards, men who wasn’t afraid to break somebody for their own good. Yet even in the face of those formidable men, Nigel remained resolute, convinced that if he just take one more step, then he would be closer to his beloved’s presence.

 

It took four men and several shots of tranquilizers to subdue Nigel and stopped his steady steps. He fought right to the bitter end, and though his body may betrayed him, people could still see the jagged slopes of his tensed muscles. It was as if the man was trying to wake himself up out of sheer willpower alone.

 

They ended up taking him to the ICU, fearing that he may seize and go into shock or have his heart gave out from the dangerously high blood pressure. Codes were called out and people ushered away, and before long they had the man strapped to a gurney, more of a prisoner than a patient. His wild eyes remained open, but dulled with defeat. Nigel looked like a corpse stuck in rigor mortis.   

 

“You shouldn’t have said that.” Darko sighed as they watched spectacle died down and the man carted away. Gabi turned to him, a scathing reply ready to fire from her cherry red lips. She refuses to be held responsible for something as innocent as telling the truth.

 

Yet before she could defend herself, Darko walked past her and sneered, as her mere presence was a pollutant to the air around him.

 

“Stop Gabi. I’m not Nigel. I don’t need to argue with you to prove that I’m right.” The man said plainly. His words made her flush up in anger, yet Gabi could only seethe in quiet humiliation for his worth held more truth that she had in her whole body.

 

Darko headed back into the room and gathered what was left of Nigel’s things. The new phone he bought the man was now in pieces, clearly the victim of Nigel’s frustrations. He ignored the expensive pile of trash and gathered his wallet, as well as an empty pack of his favorite brand of smokes. On the linoleum floor laid a smattering of unlit stalks of cigarettes, strewn together like discarded needles in a heroin den.

 

“What a damn waste.” Darko said sorrowfully, remembering the quiet American that his dear friend was addicted to, the very same person who loved him enough to remind Darko everyday to bring Nigel his cigarettes. “Damn fucking waste.” He sighed, crushing carton under his hand.

 

He wanted to scream, to shout, and make a riot out of the clinically polite hospital wing, but as devastated as he was, Darko was not Nigel. He does not raise his voice, nor does he take his anger out on furniture or other men. He’s always been the calm one, the one who sweet talks the adults when they were kids and does the numbers once they were old enough to deal.

 

Back then he was content to let his reckless friend throw his himself into one absurd situation after another, for he was convinced that Nigel would always survive in the end.

 

After witnessing that suicidal walk, Darko wasn’t sure if the great Mad Dog of Bucharest would even survive the week.

 

“Oh, frate.” He sighed, wishing he was back in the arms of his lovely Maria.

 

Instead, the woman who he wanted nothing to do with grabbed his arms and pulled him aside.

 

“There is no new woman in Nigel’s life- “ Gabi started, and Darko rolled his eyes, already sick of the sound of her voice. “-but Will Graham, he… he-“

 

“Yes.” Darko hissed spitefully. “Will Graham put your husband back together after you left him to die. Will Graham stayed by his side and let the idiot love him the way you would never allowed him to. He-“ Darko laughed in defeat. “He’s as bad as you, now that I think about it, because he let that fucking idiot love him and then left. So look!” Darko pointed at the bloody footprints. “Look at what you both did to my fucking brother!”

 

The whole wing fell into silence at Darko’s outburst. For a second no one dared to breathe, enraptured by the real life drama unfolding before their eyes. Eventually life continued on, and the traces of Nigel’s struggles were quickly mopped up and replaced with sprays of antiseptic cleaners that smelled just as bad as grief and heartbreak.

 

Gabi looked up to Darko with a stony look in her eyes, nodding in understanding. Darko jerked his head up and down in a tight reply, taking the small gesture as the admission of guilt he’s been denied for all year long.

 

“I want to meet him.” Gabi said quietly. Darko pulled his arm away from her grasp and turned to leave. “I need to see him.” The girl insisted again. Darko ignored her and slammed the hospital door open, sighing tiredly. “Please Darko, do it for me and Nigel. For us.”

 

The man didn’t even stop to humor her with a response.

 

 

**

Chapter Text

 

For an orphan who grew up with nothing, Darko has done quite well for himself. He has a job that he enjoy, money to spend, and a loving family to dote on when the rigors of his work life became too much. Whereas Nigel was more than content to hoard his money for like some lackadaisical dragon of old, Darko had a more modern approach to financial management.

 

He used his cut of the money to build a slice paradise in bustling metropolis that is Bucharest, something worthy to house the most precious treasures in his life.

 

The Tuscan villa sits just outside of the city central business district, a strange but welcomed sight amidst the cold offices and luxury shopping stops. Darko has similar properties scattered in various parts of Europe, and when asked about them, he would cite some trite quote about investing in property and interest rates, but anyone who knows him well enough knows that he built his mini palaces solely for the pleasure of his wife.

 

Much like Nigel, Darko was devoted to his beloved and their son. He guarded their residence like a lord guards his castle, always ready for an attack. Instead of tars and flaming arrows, his guards were equipped with semi automatics and various other weaponry that would make a group of insurgents green with envy.

 

So it was strange to see someone as dangerous as Will Graham cordially sitting across his from wife and beloved son. Just his mere presence made Darko stiffen in paranoia. Will was just a man, as mortal as any other, but Darko knows that person who destroyed Nigel by his mere absence is not someone to be trifled with.

 

“Hello my love.” He said, kissing his wife in greeting and patting his distracted son’s head. The boy greeted him with a quiet ‘Hi Daddy.’ before turning his attention back to his game.

 

“Will.” Darko nodded at the man. Will replied with an elegant bow of his head and stood up to shake his hand. The man was charming enough today, but his eyes held a certain sorrow that even his happily oblivious wife noticed and pitied.

 

“How is he?” Will asked with a tentativeness of a reluctant outsider. His attitude made Darko seethe, because in his eyes he’s lost the privilege of asking him that question.

 

“Lets talk outside.” He said with a nod in his head.

 

“Oh god. Is he-”

 

“Outside, Will.” Darko intoned, his voice still soft in front of his family, but his face was grave and stoic.

 

The man followed him without further question, leading the way with firm steps that startled even Darko’s most steadfast guards. He waved his men away, knowing that what they discuss should not fall to anyone’s ears but their own.

 

However, as soon as they were alone, Darko was suddenly consumed with a rage that shattered his ever-steady resolve. Without warning he threw a punch that Will caught with practiced ease and grace. Darko was a numbers man himself, but he far from an untrained weakling.

 

Before he could wrench his hand free, his arms was immediately folded against itself and pulled against his back. Will’s sharp knee forced itself against his spine, bringing him down onto the ground.

 

It was painless, quick and efficient, a completely different experience than the way most Romanian police would subdue their target. If Nigel wasn’t in such a bad shape, Darko would’ve felt thankful for Will’s almost gentle treatment, but right now his childhood friend remained unconscious in the ICU, and Darko wanted nothing more than to break the bones of the man who broke his heart.

 

“Are you calm now Darko?” Will asked after Darko’s struggles began to subside. “Or should I dislocate your arm and apologize to your wife for hurting her husband like this?” his voice remained casual and polite, as if he was asking for an additional cup of tea.

 

“How about you apologize to Nigel, huh?” The man spat, fighting against his very instinct to submit to the stronger man. “You were supposed to take care of him, to love him.” The man mumbled into his perfectly manicured lawn. Darko could feel the man above him stiffen before finally releasing him from his impeccable hold.

 

“He doesn’t want me to take care of him. He walked away and fell right into his wife’s arms.” Will said emotionlessly. Darko rubbed his sore wrist and looked up at the man, stunned by the way his eyes overflowed with grief and madness.

 

“Just tell me what happened to him.” Will mumbled, desperation clear in his voice. “Please?”

 

Darko sighed and fell into a nearby bench, lighting up a cigarette and handing him a thick manila envelope. Inside lay the travel documents that Will requested days ago, freshly renewed by way of bribery and coercion.

 

“Just go.” Darko grumbled, flicking off the ash into a nearby pot. “You and Gabi. You’re all the same, the lot of you.”

 

“What did she do?” Will stepped closer, completely ignoring Darko’s envelope. “Darko. Tell me.”

 

The man gave him a considering look before quietly recounting the tragic events of the hospital.

 

He told Will how he tried his best to keep his promise and not tell Nigel about him, but his chance encounter with Nigel’s wife lit up the man’s withering obsession. He told him how fought through crowds of people before finally put down like an animal, how his stable condition has turned into a critical one in the span of one short conversation.

 

“He’s supposed to be out in three days. Now the goddamn idiot is in the ICU.”

 

“No.” Will’s heart dropped. “He can’t die. He’s too strong to just die like that.” He mumbled.

 

“Nobody is strong enough to beat death Will.” Darko said quietly, but Will was already moving away from the bitter man, his feet taking him to see his beloved.

 

Darko’s empty laugher stopped him in his tracks, and Will turned, to face the man, eyes cold and deadly.

 

“What? Now you’re going to see him? He’s out fucking cold. Even if you got down on your knees and begged for forgiveness the idiot won’t hear a peep.” Darko threw the discarded brown envelope at the glowering man. It hit Will on his chest and fluttered uselessly to the ground.

 

“Just go. That’s what you’re going to do anyways, right? Leave the fucking man who love you without as much as a goodbye?”

 

Pain flashed over Will’s eyes. “What do you want me to do Darko? Nigel chose his her. You saw that. We both did.”

 

“But you should’ve stayed anyways!” Darko shouted. “You should’ve stayed and fought for him like a man, not leave him to a fucking child!”

 

The very truth of Darko’s words hurt him more than any wound that Hannibal has ever dealt to him, for that truth reached deeper than any blade ever could.

 

The line of scar on his stomach ached, and it made Will feel as gutless as the day Hannibal opened gave him that smile in his Baltimore kitchen.

 

At least back then Will could conceal his cowardice behind a veil of victimhood. Now he had nothing had nothing to hide behind. And he was forced to face the truth he hid under the personas of a thousand killers.

 

Will Graham was a coward, and he always ran when it counted.

 

He would happily faced dragons and slayed them like a frenzied knight aiming for a princess’s favor. He chased down mechanical monstrosities and shattered his fist against their hardened skulls. He gritted his teeth and bear the icy stab of the Atlantic, looking challengingly onto the faces of death.

 

Yet when it comes to love, Will disappeared like a shadow would under the warmth of the sun, afraid of being loved and dealing with the uncertainty that comes from loving someone so completely.

 

That’s why he surrounded himself with the unconditional affections of rejected mutts and abandoned pets. That’s why he pursued a marriage where his family needed him as little as he needed them. That’s why every time Hannibal offered him his companionship, Will turned him away.

 

The knowledge of it sickened him more than even the most depraved monsters that lurked inside the prison of his mind. Nigel deserved someone better, someone who could cling to him with the same obsessive passion Will could never let himself feel.

 

It’s what drew him to him in the first place, that obsessive love that left no room for uncertainty or doubt. Will just wished he could’ve been a better man and showed it to him.

 

‘But you can.’ The beast inside him wailed, howling to get back into the embrace of Nigel’s animalistic love. ‘You can still give him the love that he deserved.’

 

“I want to see her.” Will said quietly. “I need to see her, so I can makes sure that I-”

 

Darko waved him away. “She wants to see you too.” He muttered. Picking up the forgotten envelope and shoving it against Will’s chest. “Tomorrow morning, at the little café just across Nigel’s apartment.”

 

Will nodded, his resolved made.

 

“Will.” Darko called out tiredly to the man’s retreating back. “If you’re still going to leave, then please, don’t ruin her for Nigel.”

 

Will didn’t know how to reply to that. He just turned around, resumed his steps, and began counting down the seconds until their promised meeting.

 

 

**

 

Painted nails traced the red smudge of her lipstick against a cold white coffee cup. Gabi has been sitting there since the café opened in the morning, nursing the only cup of coffee she could afford as she waited for his husband’s lover. She didn’t know whether he got her message or if Darko had decided to ignore her wishes. Either way, Gabi was ready to wait all day with her one cup of stale coffee, and not even the dirty glances from impatient patrons could move her from her spot

 

When the frantic morning crowd subsided and was replace by a more laid-back lot, Gabi caught sight of the unmistakable tuff of curled hair and startlingly blue eyes.

 

Gone was the thick glasses and messy dog hair ridden apparel. Will Graham looked more distinguished than he was before, fitting in with the crowd of wealthy patrons that crowded the trendy café.

 

On him she found traces of a life that she used to lead. The understated clothes that must’ve cost a fortune, if the logos were to be believed. The friendly smiles he exchanged with the waiter who knew him and his order by name. The way his eyes softened as he empathically lies about Nigel absence, mumbling, “Oh, you know how he is, always getting into trouble.”

 

Seeing him fit perfectly into the life she left made Gabi sheathe with jealousy. Wasn’t it enough that this stranger stole Nigel’s heart away? Must he also blend seamlessly into the scenery of their old life? He fits into the role of a partner with such ease that Gabi regretted ever leaving Bucharest in the first place.

 

“Hello again Gabi.” Will greeted her as he took his seat. “Darko mentioned that you wanted to talk.” He said in perfect composure. His eyes were clear and sharp, like the gleam of a blade ready to rend her soul apart.

 

Suddenly Gabi realized just how foolish it was for her to underestimate this man in the first place.

 

“You haven’t been very honest with me Mr. Graham.” She said, stirring her cold cup of coffee. There was a small tremor in her hand that she hoped the man wouldn’t notice. “You are more than just Nigel’s roommate, aren’t you?”

 

The question made him smile in amusement, as if Gabi was a child attempting to insert herself into adult conversations. She certainly felt like one, confused and lost as she tried to navigate her way towards the truth everyone was hiding.

 

“What exactly are you asking?” Will retorted, still dancing around the question.

 

“Were you two sleeping together?” Gabi placed her spot onto the saucer with a clatter. “Were you… no… are you two together?”

 

“We shared beds, yes.” Will chuckled, hurting her just a smidgen before finally yielding the truth. “But never in the way.” he said wistfully.

 

“Don’t lie to me!” Gabi slammed the table with her fist, her nerves finally breaking after days of Nigel’s rejection and indifference. “My husband isn’t in the ICU for some platonic bedmate!” she muttered through gritted teeth, but when she looked up, Will saw that she wasn’t angry. She as helpless and lost as he was when his brain burned from the inside.

 

“Please, stop lying to me.” She begged, and Will was instantly taken back to that moment in Hannibal’s dinning room, where his anchor sunk him deep into a feverish stupor. Where he was drifting alone as the monster poked and prodded at his brain.

 

The memory made her sorrow felt real to him, and her anguish suddenly became his own. Will reached out to the broken girl, placing a gentle hand on her clenched fist. Will was done playing games, for he has felt her pain, and he desired nothing but to give her comfort.

 

“The truth is that we only ever kissed and touched, but nothing more.” Will whispered.

 

“Then why is he still asking for you!” She shouted back. “Why does he still look for you when I’m right there in front of him!”

 

Gabi wailed with the sorrow of a woman scorned, and Will flinched away, unable to bear her emotions more that he already did.

 

What was he doing, playing mind games with a broken girl like this? Here she was, broken hearted and worried sick for her husband, and Will came in thinking he could scare her away?

 

 ‘Tasteless’ Will thought, ashamed by his own childishness.

 

He put down some money to pay for the drinks and offered his hand to her. “Come on, lets take this somewhere private.” He murmured, helping her up as he tried to make up for his dishonorable conduct.

 

Curious eyes followed them as they exited the café together, judging them with hushed whispers as Will held the sobbing girl deeper into his arms. He brought her into the apartment, shielding her form from the prying glances of other people.

 

In the elevator Will stared at his own reflection, finding it harder and harder to recognize himself without Nigel by his side. He cannot continue intruding on other people’s lives like this. His mere presence has damaged them, and the sobbing girl in his arms is evidence enough of the destructive nature he brought along with him.

 

It doesn’t matter that Nigel still wanted him. Staying would mean ripping him away from the girl who had nothing in her life but him.

 

‘But if I leave, I’ll have nothing left either.’ A selfish part of him whispered fearfully.

 

“You will always have me.” Hannibal said inside his head, his voice as real as Gabi’s gut wrenching sobs. “Come back to me Will.” He said, repeating the words like a fading mantra that has taken it’s hold on Will.

 

‘I will.’ Will thought weakly, knowing that he could never come back to Bucharest once he leaves.

 

**

 

With enough money to build an entirely new hospital wing, Darko managed to bribe the hospital director to release Nigel from the ICU. His attending physician protested vehemently, especially after they found out that the man would be placed under the care of the infamous Dr. Petrov’s.

 

“He’s a madman! He’ll kill your friend before he even has a chance to kill himself!”

 

Darko didn’t listen to them. He knows that taking Nigel to a pariah in the medical community was a risky move, but he also knows that Nigel deserved better than being drugged out like some kind of animal in transit.

 

When they finally arrived in the well hidden property, the eccentric doctor welcomed them both with a disturbing amount of cheerfulness and glee. He shouted orders at Darko’s men as they wheeled Nigel’s bed into his humble clinic. The place looked as small and run down as it was last year, but Dr. Petrov’s enthusiasm gave Darko some measure of confidence that he sorely needed.

 

“Don’t worry. He’s mending well!” Dr. Petrov said, tapping Nigel’s chart jovially. “His blood pressure is stable, and there hasn’t been any sign of infections or sepsis. The hospital probably just kept him under because he’s-“ He adjusted his spectacles and squinted at the red marked stamped over Nigel’s forms “-a difficult patient.”

 

“He was being difficult. The fucking asshole tried to escape. It took about six hulking men to hold him down.” Dr. Petrov cackled in delight, peering over Nigel’s chart with amusement. The work may be unsteady and the conditions deplorable, but being the mafia’s on call doctor sure keeps things interesting.

 

“Can you wake him up?” Darko asked, his lips set into a thin line as he watched Nigel eyes rolled underneath his closed lids.

 

The unusual request made Dr. Petrov frowned, but he wasn’t opposed to risky situations. “Well I don’t see any medical reason not to, but if the man is a flight risk then perhaps he should recover in a medically induced coma.” He said, making disapproving noises as he saw the number of narcotics written in Nigel’s chart. “Though I have to admit, these amount sedatives seemed a little bit excessive…”

 

“They’re keeping him like some kind of psycho in a loony bin… Look at him. He’s a fucking vegetable!” Darko shook his head vehemently. “Its not right.” He muttered.

 

Dr. Petrov considered Darko’s words before nodding in understanding. “Hospitals often deny patients their dignity in favor of ease of care. That’s why I reject the tyrannical reign of traditional healthcare institutions and open up my own shop.” He said with an air of inflated self-importance.

 

 “Weren’t you kicked out because they found out about your cocaine habit?”

 

The doctor shrugged. “Yet another reason to abhor the powers that be.” he said, waving a massive syringe filled with liquid from an unlabeled brown bottle.

 

Darko blinked, suddenly uncertain of the eccentric doctor’s qualifications, but before he could change his mind and wheel Nigel out, Dr. Petrov already injected the medication into Nigel’s IV. “There. He should be up within the hour.”

 

Darko nodded and thanked the man, letting himself fall into a creaky armchair as he waited for Nigel to come to.

 

To call himself a busy man would be an understatement. Darko ran multiple businesses as well as the drug empire he and Nigel built together. Sure, he had managers and deputies to take over while he’s away, but Darko had better things to do than to sit here and play nurse for his idiotic friend.

 

Yet no matter how angry he got, Darko couldn’t bring himself leave Nigel’s side. The man has already been abandoned twice by his lovers. Darko will not be the one to break faith and joined their treacherous ranks.

 

“You’re not allowed to die amice.” Darko muttered tiredly. “You’re family.”

 

Minutes passed almost peacefully. Suddenly the machines beeped frantically and Nigel awoke with a desperate gasp. His hands automatically went to grab the wires and tubes attached to his body, but before he could succeed, Darko quickly rushed in and held the man down.

 

“Calm down Nigel. You’ve been out cold for two fucking days.” Darko muttered, laughing in relief at the sight of his conscious friend. Nigel struggled weakly for a few moments, but gave up when he recognized his friend and the run down clinic. He was overcome the most terrible sense of déjà vu, and Nigel found himself rather sick and tired of being weakened patient.

 

The commotion drew Dr. Petrov over, who questioned and checked over Nigel with brisk efficiency. Much to everyone’s surprise the man quietly laid there and answered his question with grunts and nod, eyes blinking once in a while as he tried to make sense of the bits and pieces of hazy memories.

 

“How are you feeling amice?” Darko asked tentatively after Dr. Petrov finished his assessment.

 

“Will…” Nigel croaked, slipping back down to the plush pillows when he attempted to sit up. “Is he gone? Am I too late?”

 

Darko chuckled in disbelief. It’s amazing how single minded Nigel can be when it comes to his beloved Will. “He’s still in the country.” Darko hesitantly answered.

 

“I have to get back to him.” Nigel mumbled, throwing away the thin blanket that stuck to him like a second skin. “Where is he, Darko? Where’s Will?”

 

“Forget about him.”

 

Nigel looked at his friend with a scandalized look. “Say that again and I will hurt you.” The man promised. Even with his weakened body, the threat sounded real enough that it made Darko shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Still, he held Nigel’s glare with a glower of his own, engaging in the little show of dominance out of sheer pride alone.

 

Neither backed down, when they realized they had no possibility of understanding, the two friend threw their gazes away before it all turned into blood.

 

Nigel swung his leg over the edge of the bed and tried to stand, but his legs were still weak from both disuse and sedatives. With lightning reflexes Darko caught the man by his arm and helped him back up. There was no animosity in the gesture, and Nigel accepted his touches with a quiet grunt of gratitude. And just like that they were once again friends.

 

If only making up with his beloved was that easy.

 

“He’s bad for you amice, both him and that wife of yours.” Darko sighed, patting Nigel’s knee after he settled him back onto his bed.

 

“I don’t care”

 

“Of course you don’t.” Darko scoffed. “You don’t care, Gabi don’t, and neither does Will… Well let me tell you something you fucking idiot, I care and I say they’re fucking bad for you, amice.” Darko said, pleaded almost. “They left. They both fucking did. You shouldn’t care about disloyal fucks who leaves you when you’re injured.”

 

“It’s not Will’s fault.” Nigel winced, the memory of their parting seared in the form of bullets on his back and shoulders. “I walked away first Darko. I shouldn’t done that.”

 

“He fucking shot you.”

 

“His student did.” Nigel mumbled, realizing that he’s making a terrible case for both himself and Will. Darko just rolled his eyes, not surprised at all by Nigel’s stubbornness.

 

“Well I killed the fucker who shot you in the head, but I still blame Gabi for it.”

 

“I know. I don’t though. I wish you wouldn’t blame either of them too.”

 

They stood in silence, their impasse threatening to stretch into eternity of hushed arguments and bullheaded response. Nigel’s heart wanted Will Graham, and every second that they’re apart, Nigel could feel his soul shriveling like unplucked gapes left to rot on the vine.

 

“I love him Darko.” The man said, desperate for his only family to understand. ”I will never let him go. I won’t. Nothing you say or do could ever change that. You can force me to stay for now, but once I get better I’ll just leave and find him again. I’ll chase him to the end of the fucking earth if I had to. He’s is fucking mine, and I’m already his.” Nigel growled, his eyes gleaming with that particular brand of madness of his.

 

“Crazy bastard.” Darko cursed, voicing his displeasure while failing to keep a grin off his face. How could he not smile? His brother is awake, and he’s back to his old fucked up self.

 

Nigel replied back a predatory smile of his own and tried to stand back up again. This time his feet held firm and steady, radiating strength from his stance alone. Darko passed along his car keys and held open the door open for with.

 

“Go on then. Your boy is meeting up with your ex in that café you two always go to.” Darko grumbled. Nigel passed him with heavy steps, patting the man on his shoulder as he does.

 

“Thank you, frate.” He said as sincerely as he could before limping down the dirty hallway.

**

 

Dust motes danced in the light of the morning sun, settling down on the marble floor and leather chair. A lone dot fluttered down onto Gabi’s fiery red head, taking Will’s attention back to the silently crying girl.

 

He quickly looked away, the very sight of her rousing feelings of guilt and shame. His heart hurt from trying not empathize with her. He couldn’t let himself be drawn into her sorrow. He has no right, especially now that he’s ready to go with his plane tickets and passport on hand.

 

Eager to get away from her, Will busied himself in the kitchen, making a hot cup of sweetened tea like his father used to when he got home from a bad day at school.

 

“Do you love him?” She asked, voice tight with tension like a plucked string, ready to snap. Will sighed and placed the cup of strong tea in front of her.

 

“With everything I have in me.” He answered truthfully. Gabi’s tears renewed as she sobbed quietly, and Will wished he had just lied so he could save her from the pain.

 

It’s the right thing to do for her, but Will couldn’t possibly deny his love for Nigel again.

 

“I love him too. I want him. He’s mine. He’s mine!” The girl shrieked, screaming into a wad of rolled up tissue. Her emotions cutes through him and bleed under his skin like a parasite, and before long Will to wanted to hiss back those possessive words to her, to choke the life out of her thin neck so Nigel could be his again.

 

Realizing his dangerous thought, Will closed his eyes and took a deep breath, focusing on the anchor within that was wholly himself, the kind, patient, good parts of himself that Nigel loved about him.

 

“I know you love him Gabi. He’s rightfully yours in the eyes of law and god.” Will said, keeping his eyes closed so that the grief wouldn’t seep from his eyes like hers did.

 

“I just… I don’t even know why I’m here. I have my bags packed and my tickets ready I-“ He turned away, looking out of the window to savor the familiar sight for the very last time. “I guess I just wanted to make sure that you’ll take care of him after I left.”

 

“You’re… not here to get him back?” she asked, her voice finally settling into a hopeful little whisper.

 

Will shook his head. “I don’t have any right to. He’s your husband. He’ll be happier with you.”

 

‘No he wont.’ The devilish voice whispered inside his head.

 

‘I know, but he’ll be better off without me.’  Will answered, quieting the beast that has suffered without it’s mate.

 

“That’s such a relief.” A small faint click was heard before a deafening shot pierced Will’s back and exited through the side of his left chest. 

 

He stumbled forward, one hand holding onto the wall as the other staved off the flow of warm blood. The world spun, and only the searing kiss of a gun barrel managed to steady him in place.

 

Will glared up and found Gabi looking down at him with an unnerving smile. “I feel a lot less guilty about killing a coward.” She cooed, the apples of her tear stained cheeks flushing red as she dug the gun deeper into his head.

 

“Goodbye Will Graham.”

 

Will growled and lunged up, knocking up the barrel of the gun before she could squeeze the trigger and end him.

 

**

 

Pieces of glass fell onto the sidewalk like sparkling threads of cobwebs scattered across the night sky. Nigel frowned at the sight, finding it odd that his well maintained apartment building would start falling apart for no reason.

 

He pushed to the crowds and knelt down, picking up a blunt piece of glass that didn’t even shatter into jagged edged. In fact, every glass that fell off the main frame was blunt and rounded. He recognized them to be tempered glass, thick and laminated with layers of polyfibers to make it strong and bulletproof.

 

It’s the same type of glass he installed in his apartment.

 

Nigel heart dropped when he noticed the unmistakable sight of a bullet imbedded in one of the glass. “Fuck.” He cursed, eyes going to the very top of the building and found one apartment window open and bare. “Fuck!” he cursed, barreling through his the entrance and pushing himself into an elevator.

 

His heart pounded hard in his ears as his body began to course with adrenaline. Nigel couldn’t feel the ache and stiffness in them anymore. Every muscle in his body was tensed, ready to uncoil with latent violence hidden in every strand of muscle. He didn’t even have his gun with him, but Nigel didn’t care. He will make sure to rip apart any intruder who dared to desecrate his home.

 

When the elevator dinged and reached it’s destination, Nigel clambered out and found the door to his apartment replaced with new electronic locks and keys he did not have ”Will?!” He called, pounding the metal door with his already battered first.

 

For a long time nothing was heard, and Nigel feared that he was already too late.

 

Suddenly his ears perked up and picked a muffled sound of struggle, one that he recognized as Will’s voice. Nigel mind immediately shut down, reverting back to the baser parts of himself where the need to protect and kill overrides everything else.

 

He stomped to the end of the hall and sprinted as fast as his legs could take him, slamming his good shoulder against the metal door. No matter how many times he tried, not even the frames of the entrance shook. Only one small dent was the evidence of his tireless effort.

 

“Will!” Nigel roared, taking a step back so he could look around and find a better way to get into the apartment. “Will! Open the door!”

 

Before he could throw his body against the barrier again, a series of shot was heard and the electronic locks on the door began to beep and malfunction. After a series of clicking cylinders and moving locks, the small wired bound panel fell out and the door clicked open.

 

‘Atta boy.’ Nigel thought proudly.

 

Nigel slammed the door open and found his apartment in disarray. Chairs and tables were smashed and toppled over smeared blood and scratches on the floor. There was the smell of gunpowder in the air, mingling with the coppery scent of blood and fear.

 

He spied Gabi’s unmistakable red head hidden behind the large leather sofa. Nigel’s heart dropped and he rushed over to her, only to be stopped, stunned at the chilling scene before him.

 

Gabi was hunched over Will’s bloody figure like hag from hell, pinning him down with her deceptively strong body. Nigel could taste her bloodlust permeating the air, as she smothered Will’s neck with the intent to kill. Will’s body was riddled with bullet wounds, from his leg to his arms and torso. Even then, the fire in his eyes remained aflame, and they brightened when they looked over as saw the figure of his beloved lover.

 

With a primal roar Nigel hauled Gaby by her bright hair he used to adore and threw her over the sofa. She skidded across the floor and slammed against the wall with an audible thud.

 

“Oh darling.” He sobbed, kneeling down to gather Will’s body in his arms. The injured man tried to call out to him, but when he opened his mouth, only blood came out in foams of red and pink.

 

“I couldn’t pull the trigger on Charlie last time.” Gabi voice pulled Nigel’s attention away from the devastation before him. “I understand now. You wanted me to kill for love, but I couldn’t do it back then.” Her crazed laughter cracked like lightning, cutting through Will’s gasps and Nigel’s bellowing breath.

 

“You see Nigel? You see how much I love you? How I would kill for you?” she inched closer, her gunpowder-scented hand sliding up her husband’s shirt to trace his solid figure. “We’re finally the same now Nigel. Equals.”

 

Nigel shrugged her off and stood up, cradling Will close against his chest and carried him across over the threshold like a groom would on his wedding day. He did not imagine it to be like this. Nigel wanted to do this while they’re both in whites, with a ring on each on their fingers and a lovesick smile share between tender kisses.

 

No matter how beautiful Will looked in red, he should never bleed ever again.

 

Will saw Nigel’s pained expression and immediately understood his regret. Fighting through the pain, he raised his hand and caressed Nigel’s face, trying to soothe the man even as he was dying.

 

“Nigel-“ Gabi called out hesitantly, her voice losing the maddening quality and reverting back to the mask of a scared little girl.

 

“Get out.” He rumbled, catching Will’s hand and whispering for him to save his strength.

 

“Get… out?” Gabi sputtered and rushed up to chase him, grabbing the tail end of his shirt as she pleaded for him to stay. “Nigel please wait! I thought-“

 

“LEAVE!” He barked, snarling at the whimpering girl who was so sure of his love for her. “Leave or I will hurt you the same way you’ve hurt him.” He snarled before disappearing into the elevator, his maroon red eyes fixed possessively onto Will’s blue orbs.

 

Gabi blinked and crumbled down onto the floor. She did not cry like she did before, for there was no one here to fake her tears for. Eventually she stood up and left, knowing full well that she had no more life here in Bucharest. 

Chapter Text

 

There was nothing safe about the speed in which Nigel drove. It’s gave Will quite the tickle to think that they might die from something as ordinary as a car crash, though smothering the chuckle that rose from his belly only invited more pain into his bullet ridden body.

 

‘I deserved that.’ He thought as he focused on the anxious line that Nigel’s face made. ‘I deserved every single bullet for causing you this pain. But by god, I deserve you too, and I will never let you go.’

 

Nigel turned at the garbled noises Will made and gently put his palm over his rapidly paling cheeks. “Hang on darling. You’ll make it.” The dangerous man murmured, eyes trained on the road despite his itching need to focus on his injured lover.

 

Will nuzzled the palm as best as he could, wishing he could tell the man that giving up is no longer an option for him. ‘How can I leave now that we’ve shed blood for one another? Don’t you know that we’re now bound together, my love? If not by blood, then by the destructive force of our gravity.’

 

Even through the pain, Will’s eyes remained brightly lit, and only when Dr. Petrov began prepping him for surgery that Will finally let himself drift to sleep with Nigel’s hand firmly clasped between his fingers.

 

*

 

Flesh and organs reveal themselves like pulsing garnet and rubies splattered with wine. For the first time in his life, Nigel couldn’t bear to witness the gore laid before him. He chose to focus on Will’s face instead, sleeping peacefully as Dr. Petrov and his suspicious team of assistants began to operate on his body.

 

“No need to worry!” Dr. Petrov said, cheery as ever. A metal clunk was heard as he fished yet another bullet out of Will’s body. Nigel felt faint just hearing it rolled and squelch to a stop. “The bullet didn’t hit anything important! Well except for that little nick to his lung.”

 

“The lung?” Nigel’s heart dropped at the news. Words like ‘collapsed lung’, ‘internal bleeding’, and ‘organ failure’ all flashed through his mind, his fear exacerbated by his knowledge of just how fragile the human body can be.

 

The horror must’ve twisted up his face into a thousand different ways, for it invited laugher from both the doctor and his coked up assistants. He waved around a blood stained clamp and reassured him that he’ll fix Will up ‘in a jiffy’. Those words did not comfort or inspire much confidence in him, but Nigel had no other choice. He can only pray and wait.

 

After throwing the doctor a glare that promises fire and brimstone upon Will’s death, Nigel leaned down and kissed Will’s forehead right through his mask.

 

“You hear that darling? Just a lil’ nick.” He murmured, more for himself than to comfort the unconscious man. “We’re not gonna let a little perforation to the lung stop us, right darling?”

 

A gentle hand laid themselves on Nigel’s shoulder and ushered him outside, telling him that the nurses needs the space that Nigel was occupying. “Less people in the operating room would reduce the patient’s infection rate.” She said, and Nigel never bolted out of a room so fast before.

 

After divesting himself from his surgical mask and scrubs, Nigel settled back on his empty hospital bed. It was then that he finally began to feel the ache and weakness riddling his body. He forced himself to keep his eyes open, but despite his every effort, they soon began to close and he was swept into a nightmarish slumber where he was king of a world where Will did not exist.

 

When Nigel woke up in a fit of cold sweat and ragged breath, he found that he’s no longer alone in the small recovery room. Will was sleeping in his own bed next to him, surrounded by machines and tubes that’s keeping him alive. The very sight of him sent a wash of relief over Nigel’s restless body.

 

Starved for touch, Nigel pushed their beds together and reached through the railings, finally giving himself the permission to fall back asleep as he slowly grazed his knuckles over Will’s temple.

 

In the next morning Nigel woke up to Will’s hand wrapped loosely around his fingers. The sight devastated him more than any gory sight he ever created, and it left the man unable to do anything but to cling onto him like it was his only lifeline in an abyssal ocean

 

**

 

For another week Will fell in and out of consciousness in various state of alertness, muttering incomprehensible mutterings that made the nurses shiver in fear. Nigel held him through his nightmares, and the small act made him feel useful even in his healing body.

 

When Dr. Petrov took out his drainage tubes and stitched them back up, Nigel made the executive decision to move them back to their apartment. The place was immaculate, not even a scratch of the traumatic events thanks to Darko’s practical sensibilities. The day after they were back in Nigel’s bed, Will was able to wake up for a few minutes and spent it caressing Nigel’s face.

 

“You’re here.” Came the tender whisper. “You’re really here.”

 

Words failed Nigel as he gaped at his lucid lover blinking tiredly at him with a tenderness he does not deserve. He was glad that Will fell back asleep before he could witness him weeping quietly into his pillow.

 

**

 

Gentleness was not something Nigel exceled at. Even to those he loved, his brand of affection was as rough and ineloquent as a clumsy child communicating by finger painting alone.

 

However, for his beloved Will, Nigel tempered out his natural coarseness with the sheer adoration he held for the man.

 

He would carry him in his arms and tend to his every need. Most of the time his tasks were humble and mundane, changing his bandages and fetching him his stuff, but there was honor in stamping down one’s own selfishness in order to put someone else’s need above his own.

 

Though there was one chore that he relished above all else. Once Dr. Petrov gave him the green light, Nigel would bathe him daily, using it as an excuse to stave off his hunger and ease his soul’s need for worship.

 

When he was lucid enough, Will would blush and covered his groin as he endured Nigel’s innocent ministration. It was frustratingly endearing to see, and every single day it tested Nigel’s resolve to not tackle the man and take him from behind like an animal.

 

As well-meaning and good his intention was, Nigel’s attempt at gentleness didn’t always work. Sometimes he would spill or drop something in a slew of colorful curses. Sometimes he’ll hold the man too roughly, bruising tender skin and popping fresh stitches. Sometimes he would be overwhelmed by the lingering ghost of shame and inadequacies, forcing him away from Will’s side as he sit, smoke, and brood on the balcony for hours on end.

 

Throughout it all Will accepted the differing shades of his company without protest or reproach. When Nigel made a fool out of himself, Will would laugh and press weak kisses against his face, bringing levity and joy to small catastrophe.

 

When the man hurt him without meaning to, Will would spare him from any guilt and pinch him in the same spot he injured him in. “There.” He’d said. “Now we’re even.” And Nigel would always fall deeper in love with the remarkable man before him.

 

When melancholy overwhelmed Nigel’s mind and made him blind to everything else, Will would clung onto the walls and drag his withering body over to him. Only he dared approached the brooding man, taking his space between Nigel’s legs with a feline brazenness and grace, and they would sit like that for hours, enduring their respective pain in silence while finding comfort in each other’s presence.

 

Thus they existed in a bubble of tender devotion and silent companionship, for words like “I love you.” And “You’re my everything.” were meaningless compared to the soliloquies of touches they serenade each other with everyday.

 

***

 

As Will continued to recover and managed to walk around without his cane or the support of Nigel’s shoulder, Darko and many of his men came to visit. They brought Kefir with them, the white spitz spazzing at the sight of his master. Will laughed and let the dog crawl over him with a flurry of tail wags and wet licks, a sight that made even the most masculine man in the room melt

 

Only Nigel stood from the sidelines, glaring pointedly at the small dog as he sipped on a dark strong brew.

 

“Seriously?” Darko slapped him on the back of his head. “Jesus Christ Nigel, are jealous over a fucking dog?”

 

“The filthy mutt is gonna give my darling an infection.” Nigel growled, putting his cup down onto the counter just a little bit too roughly. Already used to Nigel’s brand of insanity, Darko just rolled his eyes and passed along a small file towards Nigel. “You’re giving me work? I just got shot, pizda!”

 

“You’ll want to see it Nigel.” Darko sipped on his coffee smugly as he flipped open the thin file. Inside was various pictures of Gabi, along with detailed descriptions of her travel, schedule, and current residence. ”I have a man standing by, ready to bring her head back to Bucharest as soon as I give him the order. Call it my ‘get well soon’ gift to you both, yes?”

 

Seeing his wife’s fates written down in a folder saved for their high profile targets  filled Nigel with a cold sense of the surreal. “No.” he said tightly, flipping the file close and slamming his fist over it’s unassuming beige cover.

 

“No? What does that suppose to mean?”

 

“It means I’ll break the hands of the man stupid enough to touch her.” Nigel all but growled, pulling the filed towards him like lion claiming his share. “She’s not yours or mine to hunt.” The man said, throwing a passionate gaze toward his beloved’s direction.

 

As if he could sense their conversation, Will looked up and locked eyes with his beloved,  blue eyes reflecting the violent gleam in Nigel’s sanguine eyes and letting it take over his body. Seeing Will like that made Nigel want to kiss him till his cheeks are pink and warm.

 

“Fine. Do with her as you please.” Darko shivered and looked away, disturbed at the sight of beautiful monster whom his brother has chosen to love.

 

**

 

After their visitors departed and left their counter full of flowers, cookies, and various John Grisham novels, Will and Nigel fell back into their companionable silence and tried their best to ignore the pooling heat in their groins.

 

Despite Will’s blatant show of desire, Nigel was far too concerned for his injuries to make any move. Suddenly he found himself in the unenviable situation of resisting the advances of one of the world’s most alluring creature. There is not yet a word to describe the level of sexual frustration that Nigel was enduring, but despite his frustration, Nigel remained steadfast.

 

Still, he couldn’t resist nosing into the various places his men had dared to make contact. Will didn’t mind. He just giggled and spread himself out enticingly, wincing when he pulled on a healing scar and smiling up sheepishly at Nigel’s disapproving glare.

 

“Bath.” Nigel growled, already breathless from the small undulation of Will’s hips alone.

 

Dar draga mea…”

 

“Don’t tempt me with your terrible Romanian darlin’.”

 

“But you love my terrible accent.”

 

If Will was in better shape Nigel would’ve wiped the little cheeky grin off his face and overwhelm the man with pleasure, pushing him past ecstasy and into wondrous torture. For now he settled on a benign little grumble that only made Will dig deeper into his arms.

 

It’s strange how quickly they fell back into the tender routines that they once had. Will and Nigel were convinced that they had lost that precious aspect of their relationship, for they have both changed, each carrying their new pain and trauma neither was ready to speak of. Despite their may reservations, every single morning their bodies took over their busy mind and found safety in sleepy little embraces.

 

The feeling of belonging and comfort was as addictive as heroin, and not even Will was immune to the intrusive thoughts of binding the man tighter to him, either by violence, love, or the shared pleasure of their quivering flesh.

 

Yet every time Will saw the unadulterated honesty shinning through Nigel’s eyes, he would be reminded of Hannibal’s presence lurking behind his mind. His touches stave off the visual reminder of his ever present hold, but Hannibal’s silver tongue still whispered nightmares and tempted him to leave Nigel and find him.

 

It was a haunting far terrifying than any ghost or phantom. Will knew that until he came clean to Nigel, he would never be rid of Hannibal’s perennial shadow.

 

**

 

The natural sea sponge was a humble tool that Nigel has come to know intimately. Used correctly it can be as soft as silk, but the wrong pressure would irritate or even bruise his dear beloved’s skin. It’s quite silly to pride himself in knowing about the details of such a mundane object, but Nigel found his calling in the quiet service he provided to his beloved.

 

It also helped that bath time was the only time he allowed himself to think about plunging his cock in Will’s splendid behind.

 

Over the course of his recovery, Will has lost a decent amount of muscles that left him slighter than he was before. If it didn’t highlight his ribs in certain angles, Nigel would’ve been ecstatic at the change. A smaller frame means Will just fits better in his arms, but no aesthetic preference of his should come at the expense of his beloved’s health. So Nigel began pushing more food into Wills plate, rewarding every finished meal with fervent praises that made the man feel cherished beyond belief.

 

The loss of weight and muscle definition didn’t bother Will much. He’s not a particularly vain man, but even he abhor the sight of new keloids scars that clusters in place gaping open wounds.

 

“All my scars always heal ugly.” Will muttered, rubbing over the smile on his stomach that hasn’t completely flatten and fade. “The one on my cheek was so bad that I couldn’t move or speak properly for weeks. Had to get steroids injections to calm it down. I swear, it hurts more than getting stabbed, but it was so damn ugly that I just grin and bear it.”

 

Nigel didn’t comment back. He doesn’t like encouraging Will when he’s in one of his self-depreciating moods. In fact it made Nigel angry that will would describe himself as ugly.

 

Ugly things don’t lift the heart and soothe the soul. Ugly things don’t spur on feverish frenzy that that borders on malady and rivaled madness. Yes, Will Graham has had unspeakably ugly things done to him, but the man remained untouched by the grotesque influence that has wrecked through his life.

 

His Will has always been beautiful, and he will remain so after he healed, Nigel will devote his life to it.

 

With barely restrained energy, Nigel clutched Will’s arm and jerked him forward until their body met like crashing ships at sea. Water lapped around them and splashed over onto the floor. Like a leviathan rising from an abyssal depth, Nigel latched onto the gnawed scar on Will’s neck and began sucking on it fervently.

 

Will gasped and clung onto Nigel’s neck, kneeing as his lover worried over the sensitive area with his sharp teeth. When he pulled away there was a smudge of blood on Nigel’s lips, a modest injury compared to the first time Nigel broke his skin.

 

“Do you think my mark as ugly too, darling?” the man asked sadly.

 

Confused at the sudden melancholy coloring Nigel’s voice, Will shook his head vehemently and crushed their lips together. There was no trace of eroticism found, it was a purely act of comfort, a desperate plea for Nigel to believe his next words.

 

“No Nigel. I think they’re beautiful.”

 

Nigel grunted in satisfaction and returned a chaste kiss onto Will’s lips. “Good, because compared to my marks, all of those little scars are pretty and delicate, just like you, blue eyes.” Will laughed, reaching over to the newly open wound and began to caress it with a wistful little smile.

 

Slowly, tensed bodies began to unwind and move, returning to their usual positions and abandoned routines. Will relaxed back onto the tub with a small washcloth covering his groin, and Nigel picked up the discarded sponge and continued where he left off.

 

As he enjoyed the gentle lather of soap and oils, Will squeezed closer to Nigel so he may run his hand up and down Nigel’s heavily tattooed back. Michael left a cluster of scars and marks alongside Nigel’s torso, arm, back, and shoulder, still pink and painful to the touch.

 

He remembered just how gruesome the mangled fleshed looked when it was fresh, but by now everything has healed over, revealing patched of unmarked skin exploding like sparks from a firework across Nigel’s inky back.

 

“We share the some of the same places for our wounds.” Will mused, rubbing along a demon’s face who has been mangled by a stretch of gnarly scar. “They’re beautiful Nigel. Splatters of reds and pinks between black and grey.” Will smiled, loving the way Nigel blush would creep up from his chest up to his cheeks.

 

“So are yours darling.” The man countered, “Every one of them is beautiful to me.”

 

A bitter laugh shook through Will’s body and echoed against the bathroom walls. “You wouldn’t think so if you knew who gave them to me.”

 

Nigel stopped his hands turned to him sharply. “Him?” The man asked, violence seeping from his pores. “Hannibal?”

 

“Yes…” Will confessed, unwilling to lie to Nigel anymore.

 

Familiar fury rose up deep within Nigel’s chest, but he quickly tamped it down with practiced discipline. The volatile man was better at controlling his anger now, or at least, he’s trying to be for Will. Even so, Will has lost that lackadaisical ease that he had before, his body tensing as he anticipated Nigel’s fury.

 

Instead the man just reached over and asked, “This one?” His voice was tender and soft as he grazed the smile on prominently displayed across the slim abdomen.

 

Will nodded, fearing that tears might escape his eyes if he dared to look up and speak out loud.

 

“How about this one?” Nigel caressed the faint line on his forehead. The taste of bitter herb infusions and sizzling butter exploded on his tongue. Will nodded again, swallowing away the hazy memory as he calls upon on the taste of Nigel’s lips to sweeten his lips once more.

 

“… and here?” Nigel asked as he placed his palm over Will’s unblemished chest.

 

Right over his heart.

 

The gesture finally broke the dam that held up Will’s long repressed emotions. Tears began to seep from his eyes and dripped into the swirling bathwater. It was as if it hurt for Will to be touched there, place that once only held by Hannibal alone.

 

Nigel’s hand felt heavy, accusing but gentle, and Will endured the avalanche of emotion that rolled out of the man’s gaze, taking in the whirl of jealousy, sorrow, and love for his unworthy self. Will fought against every instinct to shy away from the man. He clutched onto the edge of the tub, baring his body and soul of his beloved to inspect, and if needs so, to punish and discard.

 

“Do you love him?” Nigel asked. Blue eyes opened and sought out his, pleading for Nigel not to push further. “It’s okay darling, you can tell me.” The man cooed. “Please?”

 

Those gentle words hurt him more than any injury he had ever endured before, but Will was unable deny his request.

 

“’I did.” He wept. “I do.”

 

Nigel nodded and brought Will into his arms, holding the man steady as he sobbed and muttered “-but I love you Nigel. I love you, I love youIloveyou-“ against his lips.

 

“I know darling.” Nigel cooed, his feeling heart break and piece itself back together one shattered sliver at a time.

 

***

 

When Will finally calmed down, his face became a blank canvas of nothingness. Slowly, the colors of a thousand different emotions splattered and spilled onto them, before finally settling into a mask detached nostalgia.

 

“We bickered politely when we first met-

“He was my psychiatrist-

“Years ago I wasn’t eating well. He cooked for me. Granted it’s human meat but-

“We took in a daughter together. We failed her. Her name was-

“He was my enemy-

“Yet I considered him a friend-

“We sent killers after each other-

“He saved my life and surrendered-

“I let him.

“We killed a dragon and it was-”

 

“Beautiful.” Hannibal finished for him, standing in the corner of the room with them.

 

Suddenly they were back at the bluff again, and on the beach far below the cliff, Will could see Hannibal’s silhouette walking away from his broken body. The sight brought fresh grief into his chest, but Will’s heart was already overflowing with sorrow.

 

“He left me that day, but in many ways, he remained here in my head, a specter that escaped from my nightmares.”

 

Will sighed and let Hannibal pulled him into his embrace. The salty wind of the ocean battered around them as the moon blessed their macabre union under it’s luminous rays. Will rocked them back and forth in a gentle waltz that tipped them further backwards. When he fell, Hannibal let him go.

 

He did not follow.

 

Instead Will found himself wrapped in Nigel’s strong arms. He sighed in relief, holding tighter onto the man as they both sank deeper, past the frigid water, through the rocks, over the fire of hell itself, until they were nestled together in a void of nothingness.

 

They were in a strange and foreign place, devoid of even light and darkness. Will did not mind it, for Nigel was with him. The warmth of his body became his hearth, the amber glow of his cigarette their sun, his two glistening eyes, their moons. Will was satisfied, for together, they are home.

 

 

**

 

For the first time in weeks Will woke up alone in his bed. Panic seized his body in a way that he never experienced before. It was like losing time, only now he was acutely aware of yesterday’s trying ordeal and the emotional tool that it took on his body.

 

“Nigel?” Will called, quickly pulling on Nigel’s discarded sweatpants over his naked hips. When nobody answered him Will reached into the bedside drawer where Nigel’s loaded gun laid, cartridge full and ready to fire. Only one out of the two Berettas remained in the drawer, and Will’s head immediately riffled through the myriad of worst-case scenarios that could’ve happened while he was soundly asleep.

 

“Down here darling.” Nigel called out, and though his voice was calm and steady, a paranoid part of Will’s mind forced him to bring the gun along with him.

 

A shrill noise of a machine greeted him as he made his way downstairs. The sound was familiar. Grating, the hum of a thousand wasp making it’s nest inside his ears. It was reminiscent of the buzz saw that Hannibal when he tried to open his skull, but to Will, it sounded exactly like it.

 

“NIGEL!” Will shouted louder, raising his the gun, ready to kill the cunt who dared to touch his beloved.

 

Instead of a nightmarish parody of Hannibal’s table in Florence, Will stepped out the staircase and pointed his gun at the back of a woman’s head. She was heavily tattooed and completely absorbed by her work. Her small petite figure was hunched over Nigel’s arm, carving out elegant lines with the terribly inelegant machine she held tightly in her hand.

 

“Jesus Will. “ Nigel laughed, eyes widening in amusement when he spied his gun clutched between Will’s well-trained hands. “Put that thing down before she freaks out and wreck my sleeve.” 

 

It didn’t take long for Will to put two and two together, but even then his feet remained frozen on the cold bare floor.

 

“I thought you were-“ He swallowed back the terrible imagery, fearing that he might bring nightmares into reality by voicing it out loud. Sensing an incoming tremor in his hand, Will secured the safety back onto the gun and placed it well away from himself. His hands immediately stiffened into talons, and no amount of squeezing could unwind those painful claws back to it’s natural state.

 

“Oh darling… did I scare you?” Nigel called. Will nodded meekly, already exhausted by the day’s ordeal. A hum of discontent overtook the droning of the machine gun.

 

“Come here and sit on my lap, blue eyes. Let me kiss you better.”

 

To Will’s buzzing ears, it sounded like the greatest idea that Nigel has ever came up with.

 

After a quick negotiation with the busy artist, Nigel patted his knees and lured Will closer like he would to a spooked little critter. Will inched forward uncertainly, eyes still bleary with sleep as he tried to ascertain the current state of his reality. When he was satisfied that he wasn’t still dreaming, Will nestled himself on Nigel’s lap and tucked his head under the man’s chin.

 

The tattoo artist smirked at the new addition to the sofa, though the man was glad that she didn’t comment on Will’s obvious state of distress and undress. Ever the tender lover, Nigel murmured sweet nothings into the man’s ear and began massaging his petrified hand, wincing once in a while when the needle touched a particularly sensitive spot.

 

“You weren’t in bed.” Will said accusingly as his eyes followed the line of hypnotic red ink.

 

“I know darling. I’m sorry, but the little miss here is in high demand. She can only squeeze me in for a morning appointment.”

 

“And why do you need to get a tattoo at… five in the morning?” Will squinted at the clock hanging on the wall, groaning at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. “God. It’s too damn early for this. I’m going back to bed.” He muttered, his panic subsiding, making way for less intense emotions like irritation and boredom.

 

“No.”

 

Will scoffed and turned on his heels. “Excuse me?” he challenged. Nigel’s eyes gleamed with a wildness that he long tamed during Will’s recovery. The sight alone made Will shiver and his cock twitch.

 

“Sit back down darling. It’s almost done.” Nigel flashed him a charming little smile, though the possessive grip he had on Will’s thin wrist left no other place for debate. Knowing just how volatile Nigel can be, Will settled back onto the couch. He does not want this perfectly pleasant stranger to witness Nigel pinning him onto the ground and rutting him back into submission.

 

Against his better judgment, Will returned to his place on Nigel’s lap and slowly began to nod off. He was vaguely aware of muted conversations amidst the humming of the machine, but instead of impeding on his rest, the noise turned into a lullaby, overwriting memories of buzzsaw in Florence.

 

**

 

“Wake up darling.” Nigel mumbled, the edge of his voice frayed with nervous energy. “Come see my new ink.”

 

Roused by the happy voice of his excited lover, Will rubbed his eyes open and peeked at the new addition of colors placed amongst Nigel’s iconic black and grey tattoos.

 

The artist did a fantastic job. Somehow she managed to use Nigel’s newly healed scar as a canvas for delicately detailed little flowers. Crimson petal peeked between illustrations of demons and whores, but instead of clashing or wilting against them, the rich colors of the petals complement the whole piece and elevated into another realm of aesthetic beauty. They even looked like splattered blood from a distance away. 

 

“Do you like it?” Nigel asked, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he turned and posed for his bewildered lover.

 

“It’s…” Will blinked, impressed at just how perfectly a man like Nigel managed to carry those dainty little flowers. “It’s amazing.” He begrudgingly admitted.

 

Nigel exploded into a round of boisterous laughter and swept Will up in his arms. “Of course it looks amazing! I have you tattooed on my skin, darling.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Will frowned, his heart dropping when he realized that Nigel did not just choose any random flower to add to his collection. “Are those …?”

 

“Yes. Dianthus Barbatus.” Nigel grinned. “More commonly known as-“

 

“-Sweet William…”

 

“That’s right.” The man grinned. Without waiting for his beloved’s reaction, Nigel pulled out a simple silver band from his pocket and slipped it onto Will’s finger. “My dear, sweet William. Marry me.”

Chapter Text

Will walked backwards until he hit the newly repaired window that was destroyed when Gabi attacked him. The sun engulfed him, peeking through the spaces between his curls and highlighting the silver band around his finger.

 

Slowly Nigel boxed him in, shadowing him from the light, but his presence was a star of its own, blindingly bright and pure that his sheer presence made Will tremble.

 

“I don’t know if you want the ones with diamonds or rubies o-“ The man mumbled, and Will finally realized that the great Mad Dog of Bucharest was nervous. “I don’t know shit about jewelry and I don’t want you to say no cuz I bought a girly ring.”

 

Will just stared up at him with an unreadable expression on his face. Nigel winced at his flat expression, scratching his new tattoos nervously even though he knows he shouldn’t be doing it. “… but! If you like a big rock or whatever we can look for it together. Go to fucking Paris where the jewelers wont swindle you for every carat. ”

 

The mention of Paris made Will tilt his head in confusion, as if the man only heard the tail end of Nigel’s desperate babble and was trying to connect it to the glimmering ring on his fingers.

 

“Say something darling.” Nigel all but pleaded, realizing that while he didn’t phrase it as a question, Will could certainly still say no to his proposal.

 

Will blinked and stared at him with unreadable eyes

 

“I just told you that I have Hannibal in my head, that I cant stop thinking about him, even in my saddest and happiest moment. So, your reaction to that is to tattoo my name all over your body and propose?” he asked, voice sounding tight and choked. “Nigel...” Will sighed his name in tired exasperation. “You can’t try and bind me with marriage and hope it will somehow banish him from my head.” His eyes clouded over with sorrow as he reached over to pull off the ring he wished he could smelt right into his bones. “I can’t take this. I-“

 

Before he could manage to do so, Nigel slotted their hands together, crushing Will’s delicate fingers like a bouquet of broken stemmed roses, persisting to exist, even in the face of their inevitable end.

 

Nigel prayed that they might also persist, even if it was only just for a few seconds.

 

“Only take it off if you don’t want to spend your life with me.” He said, biting the side of his cheek as he imagined their separation and his death. “If you’re already sick of me, my smokes, my damn job and the stupid cunts I that work with...”

 

“You know that’s not the issue.” Will sighed, holding Nigel’s cheek tenderly as if he weren’t just crushing his hand in his desperate zeal to keep him. “Nothing about you bother me Nigel. You’ve given me more than I deserve.”

 

“Then what’s stopping us from doing this darling?” Nigel sighed. “So what if he still lurks inside that beautiful head of yours. Shit, after what he’s done to you… after what you two did together... It’s biblical. I don’t blame you for wanting to hold onto that.” Nigel laughed sadly, looking away as feelings of inadequacies began clawing at his psyche.

 

Will looked away, ashamed that his past was causing Nigel pain. “But we shared enough blood and sweet moments of our own, haven’t we?” The man said, eyes alight with hope once more “Good ones too, not just bloody lies and manipulations, but sweet quiet moments when you make me feel better and I make you feel-“

 

“-Normal. Safe. Cherished” Will cut, taking his hands and cradling Nigel’s bowed head, pushing them close until they are breathing as one. “Loved.” and Will truly does love Nigel for that.

 

“Then let me love you darling.” Nigel growled, his lips trembling as Will kisses each strained word out of them “Let me give you every single day of the rest of my life to try and make you happy. I promised to love you, to cherish you, to try and be a better man for you every single day. No more wandering at night. My place is in your bed, kissing his shadow away from your dreams. Anything you want and you’ll have it, be it corpses in goddamn churches or a pack of dogs out in the sticks. Just be mine forever darling, because I already belong to you and I can’t survive another minute without you.”

 

There. There it was, in his dangerous red eyes. That little gleam of madness where insanity and obsession melded into love. How desperately he wanted to sear its red-hot passion against his flesh, to bear Nigel’s love like a slave might bear their brand.

 

“Yes.” Will breathed, knowing that was time to put his heart where Nigel has always laid, in their palms of their intertwined hands “Yes, Nigel. I’ll marry you.”

 

**

 

 

Rough hands lowered Will onto white sheets that smelled like warm Bucharest sun and Caparti cigarettes. Soft fabric cradled around him like crashing waves frozen in time, only to be swept aside by Nigel’s hand. They trailed over his shoulders, down his chest, grazing his tender obliques. Soft. Tender. Treating him in ways others never dared to.

 

His skin was so sensitive. Even the lightest scratch from Nigel’s blunt nails felt like jagged rock stabbing into the pleasure center of his brain. Fervent kisses made his scars their home, overwriting pain with worship and adoration.

 

“Beautiful.” Nigel murmured, completely lost in the sheer beauty of his beloved.

 

Will didn’t need to use his gifts to tell if Nigel was being honest. He can see them in the blooming reds inked across his skin. Sweet William.

 

Large hands explored his body with the ease of ownership and trembling disbelief of a besotted lover. They came together at his thin waist, thumbs almost touching as they caressed the swatch of scar that Hannibal left him. “So gorgeous.” Nigel sighed, leaning down to kiss down it’s length, showing Will just how he would love every part of him, even the ones that others has touched and marked. “My darling…”

 

Will trembled, finally healed from the wound that had never truly closed. That scar was Nigel’s now. Every part of his quivering body was, just as surely as Will owned the beautiful man looming over him.

 

It made Will want to burst into tears, for never in his life could he imagine love as a remedy for his ailing soul. Instead of pain, relief can come with the simple price of a kiss, a touch, a simple word.

 

“Yes.” He gasped. “Yours.” And the man smiled, and claimed his lips, all soft gentle.

 

Eager to continue his exploration, Nigel brought his hand down Will’s hips, to his thighs, dragging down with him the bands from the fabric that hid beloved’s nakedness.

 

“I like seeing you in my clothes darling.” Nigel hummed, pupils blown black with desire as he eyed Will’s erect cock. “-but I think like taking them off you even more.” He said, parting Will’s leg and dove in with his clever little mouth.

 

Will bit his hand at the sensation of wet mouths sucking marks into his things. Fangs blinked clinked against silver bands as he stifled a moan that Nigel drew out, rising in pitch and volume as he made his way close to his groin.

 

“Don’t hide your voice from me gorgeous.” Nigel chided, biting the sensitive skin of his inner thighs. A twist from his neck made stubbled cheeks graze over his cock, forcing a whine to rise deep in Will’s heaving chest. “Let me hear how good I make my fiancé feel.”

 

Fiancé. The word alone made Will’s cock jump and leak all over his belly. There was an inevitability about the word. A transitory tittle, but it fit him as well as Nigel’s mouth over his pulsing cockhead.

 

“Nigel!” Will moaned as Nigel sucked him into his mouth. The warmth and pressure were unbearable, too much and not enough at the same time. He bucked up and pulled away, cock sliding a hair deeper before being slipping out of Nigel’s mouth with a pop.

 

“Oh no you don’t. Come back here.” The man growled, grabbing Will’s pert ass so he could drag him down and capture the maddening taste of his salty sweet nectar. Will tangled his hands into Nigel’s hair, grabbing for something solid as he was devoured completely by the warm heat of his mouth.

 

Seeing the dangerously handsome man devour his cock was too much for Will to bear. It overwhelmed him so rapturously, and so he covered his eyes like angles shielding their faces from god, praying that the death of one of his senses may stave off his rapidly encroaching climax.

 

“Keep your eyes on me gorgeous.” Nigel said murmured wetly on the side of his shaft. Lazy hands stroked him in a lose grip, waiting for Will to obey. Blue eyes peeked just from under tensed arms, accompanied by redden lips, deliciously swollen and parted just for the pleasure of Nigel’s ear.

 

“That’s it.” he hummed at the sight of blue rimmed eyes, rewarding Will’s obedience by licking a him from base of his cock to the very tip of his leaking cock. 

 

“Fuck.” He groaned as Nigel rested the weeping head over his lips, smearing spit and precum all over his wicked smile. “Nigel…” Will hissed when thick fleshy tongue lavished the sensitive underside of his cockhead. “Oh god!”  He screamed, head thrown back in pleasure as Nigel swallowed him down to the root.

                                                                                                    

Will’s taste and scent filled Nigel to the very brim of his senses, and so too did the delicious hardness. It slid past his soft palate and stuff itself down to his throat. Though the girth and length made him gag, the man couldn’t help but sink down over and over again, watching with greedy eyes as Will take the pleasure that he’s giving him.

 

Nigel sounded obscene, letting out gurgling wet sounds that made him want to palm his own hardness for relief. Wetness seeped down Will’s cock and onto the sheets below them, dampening the tensed cheeks of his pert ass. Nigel slid two fingers between the mounds, smearing spit and parting flesh as he searched for that little pucker of muscles that made Will gasp.

 

“You like that, darling?” Nigel asked hungrily, circling the tight ring of muscle until the pad of his fingers could sink into it’s uncoiling depth. Will whined and nodded, pulling Nigel’s head back towards his cock. The man just grinned, kissed down the length of his member, spread his cheeks, and began diving in with his tongue.

 

“Nigel, you can’t-“ he gasped when thick tongue stiffens and prodded into him.

 

“Yes I fucking can darling.” Nigel growled, placing his swollen lips over Will’s hole as he sunk a lone finger deep into him. Will writhed and cursed, loving the way it burn deliciously inside before it was replaced by Nigel’s tongue once more.

 

“Suck.” The man ordered, placing his fingers over Will’s lips. They opened and took in the musky digits, lavishing lips, spit, and tongue like he was pleasuring Nigel’s own cock by proxy.

 

Nigel cursed and grabbed him by his chin, smearing his thumb over devilishly eager lips that captured it back, and suckling on the finger with the coquettishness of a seasoned courtesan.

 

“After I’m done making love to you,“ Nigel growled with barely contained violence. “-I’m gonna use that pretty little mouth of yours and fuck it till you gag. After I cum all over your face, you’ll suck whatever’s left in my cock and swallow.”

 

The depraved little image made his cock twitch and leak.  “Yes please.” Will moaned his agreement, already lost in a haze as he watched Nigel work him open with his tongue and fingers. His muscle opened gloriously, the foreign sensation soon growing more erotic and sensual until Nigel’s fingers grazed a delicious little spot deep inside him.

 

“Ohh! Oh Nigel, there…!” Will grinded down chasing after Nigel’s retreating fingers and whining when it disappeared into the bedside drawer.

 

Nigel placated him with a teasing mouth around his cockhead, warming the cold lube before sinking three fingers in, stretching him thoroughly until he could slip in a fourth without much resistance.

 

“Enough-“ Will gasped at the explicit sight, a small puddle forming on his stomach as Nigel ignored him and continue to fuck him deeper with his fingers. Will rose up to his elbows and put his feet onto Nigel’s chest, pushing him away with an expression that is far from playful. “Stop being so gentle and just fuck me already!”

 

Amused by his desperation, Nigel chuckled and pushed Will roughly onto his back, crawling over the man to kiss his petulant little mouth shut, grinding down his clothed erection for good measure.

 

“I have to stretch you out darling. Don’t wanna hurt you on our first time.” He grinned before pulling away and dropping his pants. His large cock fell hard and heavy against Will’s, dwarfing his completely respectable length. Nigel licked his lips, torn between a smug smile and a nervous chuckle.

 

Will just swallowed hard and blinked at the heavy thing throbbing against his stomach.

 

“Now that’s just not fair.” he said with a small voice, eyes wide as he took Nigel’s girthy length into his hand. His face was a mixture of amazement and envy as Nigel’s cockhead fell past his belly button, leaving lines of thick precum in his sparse trail of hair.

 

“Fuck…” Will shivered, as he found that not even his two hands could fully cover the length of Nigel’s erection. The man moaned and let Will play with his cock, rubbing the foreskin over the angrily engorged cockhead.

 

“That’s really not fair.” And Nigel laughed again, this time all garbled and chocked as Will’s cruel hand began to work him up all in his vengeful fury, and by god, it was glorious.

 

“I’ll be gentle.”

 

“You’ll rip me apart.”

 

“With pleasure.”

 

“With that thing.” Will spat, failing to hide the lust in his voice. “Gored.” He gasped. throwing his head back as he imagined an ocean of blood welling up from their copulations. No stags. No wendigos. Just a raging bull for him to ride, buck, and conquer.

 

“Hmm.” Nigel hummed, all smug and red as he grabbed Will’s ass, using them as a handle to grind his cock against Will’s groin.  “You bet your ass I will.” Nigel growled, trembling as he fought to contain his every instinct to plunge deep into the virgin hole.

 

Will whimpered when he saw that feral glint in Nigel’s eyes, his lust tainted with just enough fear to make him want to goad the man to violence. Before he could do something he would regret, Nigel kissed him, and all sense of apprehension melted as he was pushed firmly into the bed.

 

“I’ll be so deep into you baby. You’ll feel me cum right-“ Nigel dragged his fingers up Will’s happy trail.”…over…” past his own manhood, towards the scar on his navel “…here.” He said, rubbing the spot beside his oozing cockhead.

 

The man just swallowed hard and pulled away from Nigel’s hot length, and for a moment Nigel thought he had scared his beloved away, but when he looked into his eyes, Nigel knew that the man wanted it just as much as he did.

 

Will crawled back onto the bed, falling back against a plush of pillows as he kept his eyes trained hungrily over his beloved. Nigel pleasured himself with a loose grip, eyes darting from Will’s bare body to his addictive eyes that smoldered with need.

 

After licking his slender fingers, Will clutched the fleshy mounds of his ass, spreading himself like a seasoned whore desperate for their daily fucking. “Please…” He whispered, slipping two slick fingers inside himself so he could lewdly tug his hole open.

 

The man nodded, his face tightly coiled with control as he crawled to join Will on the bed. “Of course gorgeous.” He whispered breathlessly, generously lubing up his shaft and placing the heavy cockhead against the rim of Will’s pink hole.

 

‘Don’thurthimdon’thurthimdon’tFUKCINGhurthim.’  He repeated the mantra to himself, but deep down Nigel does want to hurt him. He wants to take him to a new level of pleasure and plunge down together into their perfect end. He wants to rip him apart and feast on his remains. To dig deep into his entrails and see his shaft spurt white against the life blood of his pinks and reds. Nigel needs it. He’s been starving for so long, staring at this dangling meat so nice and warm and-

 

But Nigel stopped himself, the glint of Will’s ring strengthening his resolve.

 

‘…I promised to love you, to cherish you, to try and be a better man for you every single day…’

 

Today, Nigel choose to be a better man.

 

“Ready?” He asked, feeling dread coiling together with lust like mating serpents slithering in the shadows.

 

Will licked his lips and nodded, taking a deep calming breath as Nigel began to push, only to have it ripped out of him in a silent howl of painful benediction.

 

No amount of lube and stretching could prepare him from the throbbing heat that parted his flesh and invaded his insides. “Breathe baby.” Nigel hissed, his face taunt with control and concentration as he used every ounce of them to hold himself back.

 

Will bear down on him, forcing Nigel to pull out in fear of losing himself it his cloying heat. “…Nnnh… ‘nside.” Will mumbled incoherently, pulling Nigel’s shaft back towards him. “Need you Nigel…” desperate lips whispered, gasping when Nigel’s cockhead slid back into his well-lubed hole.

 

The man groaned at the sheer wantonness that tested the very last strand of his control, and yet Nigel remained steady, reigning his own need in. He fucked into the head just until Will’s thighs began to tremble, and then the easing off the man as he soothed his quivering body.

 

To taste heaven and be casted out repeatedly was a maddening ordeal that not even Lucifer could bear, but Nigel held onto his resolve, finding reward in Will’s blissful relief, in his adoring eyes, in the absolute trust and love radiating from his very being.

 

“Ahh… there!” Will sobbed as Nigel’s cock finally brushed against that magical spot inside of him. The man immediately stopped, ceasing his motions as Will took over. First he moved slowly, then he dug his feet deep and began fucking himself onto Nigel’s cock. Sharp teeth sunk into his lips as he endured the undulation of Will’s hips, the man lost in his own pleasure as he used Nigel as his own personal dildo.

 

“So good…” Will moaned, grabbing the headboard as a leverage. “Your cock feels soo good in me…“ His whole body lit up with unknown pleasures. Will felt so full, so powerful, so debauched, and Nigel was there, as lost as he was and completely his.

 

“Fuck… blue eyes.” Nigel cursed, feeling weak as he watched the rim of Will’s ass gripped his veiny length with every upstroke. “Darling...” Large hands placed themselves onto Will’s hips, wanting to grab and pin, but resisting, choosing to feel just how good Will fucks himself into his cock.

 

Between them Will’s own length lay untouched, bopping against their respective abdomens. An oozing stream of precum connected the two taunt planes, only to be broken and generously reapplied by Will’s desperate cock. It looked so red and engorged, ready to explode with the softest touch of his hand. “Will…”

 

He was falling into the man, pulled into waves after waves of eye rolling pleasure that tested his control. “Nigel.” His beloved moaned, head thrown aside with abandon as he move faster, fucking himself harder, taking his cock deeper. It took everything Nigel had in him not to move along with him.

 

“…Not enough.” Came the gasped lament, and slender legs moved from their planted place and wrapped around Nigel’s body. “Fuck me Nigel… ” Will squeezed, groaning when he felt his cock sink deeper. “Please.”

 

Nigel growled, and nodded, for he could never deny Will when he asked so prettily.

 

With trembling hands the man grabbed Will’s slender legs and pushed them up his chest, twisting and arranging his beloved to be completely and utterly fucked.

 

“Beautiful.” Came through gritted teeth. Moving slowly to the balls of his feet, Nigel pulled until only his head remained inside and aimed for the spot inside that made Will squirm and moan.

 

With only three languid strokes Will reached his climax, oozing ejaculate that spurt and ebbs as Nigel continued fucking him. “Goddamn.” Nigel hissed, stuck within Will’s heat in an impossibly tight squeeze. There was no space for him to move, so he remained still, enduring the fleshy thrum of tight muscles, falling forward to kiss Will’ through his orgasm.

 

When Nigel pulled away, Will wrapped his leg around his waist, trapping him between his still quivering things. “No, baby.” Will moaned, pulling Nigel back into him. The man gulped, completely helpless under Will’s spell. “Keep going, please?”

 

“Fuck, Will.” Nigel gasped, his hips following his commands before his mind could comprehend it. He slowly rocked into Will and drew back, riding him with long even strokes despite his need to slam into the heat and absolutely wreck him.

 

The dangerous man bit down onto his lips and focused his crazed gaze onto the glinting ring on Will’s fingers. They focused him, reigning down his beastly nature as he remembered that ‘Ilovehimgentledonthurtslowdon’thurthimIsweartogod’.

 

The pain of resistance. The anguish of control. The death of self.  They were his form of worship and penance, and the reward was all worth heaven itself as he witnessed Will stiffen and whisper. “Baby you’re gonna make me cum again…”

 

Together they did, Nigel deep into Will like he promised and Will against their skin once more.  “I love you.” Nigel sobbed, crying at the sheer perfection of this moment, and together they slept, glued together by sweat and semen, and neither would have it any other way.

 

 

***

 

That night he woke up with a monster in his bed. Its limbs wrapped possessively around his body, skin damp and sticking onto his like flesh to sizzling armor baking under the dessert sun. When it pulled away, their conjoined skin ripped in painful longing. Will was left in taters, pinned under the scrutiny of eyes that held the eclipse of a thousand blood moon.

 

“Nigel.” Will called sleepily, but the monster did not answer. No human name could fully tame what stood before him.

 

It assumed the form of his fiancé, but its teeth and claws rend pain and blood where Nigel’s worshiped and communed. Will gasped, his own darkness rose out to meet it, taunting it with an arch from his back, a moan, a teasing hand sliding down his chest to his groin.

 

When a hand grabbed his hair to reveal his neck, Will growled and dug nails into flesh, untangling away from the injured monster. This was no tender doe eager for a merciful death. His jugular bore the mark of a worthy man, and if it wants to claim, it must prove himself strong enough to subdue him.

 

It smelled like death, like Will’s deepest desire, and they both reek with the need for more. For a second the two only stared in silence, gauging each other’s danger, looking for an opening to exploit. In the next second they leaped, crashing into each other in a tangle of bodies that fell together in a writhing mess.

 

Pleasure spread through his groin as it subdued him, roaring victoriously. It flipped Will’s much slender figure and pulling him up, sinewy body flush against a solid chest. “Mine.” It growled and bit down. Will latched onto It’s forearms and sunk his teeth, returning the mark that it never knew it wanted.

 

The two savage each other until their cocks were hard and leaking. When it pulled away, it was to force himself into the tight heat under him. Will howled as he was gored open, a virgin again, blood spilled for this new covenant between them.

 

It held him by his throat and waist, pounding mercilessly into the tight heat. “Take it.” It growled, and Will eyes rolled back as the pain brought him higher than gentle caresses ever could.

 

“More.” He demanded. It heard the order and slammed in, sheathing itself until there was no more space between them. Will was so full, every inch of skin thrumming with pleasure. “Oh god.” he could feel it twitching inside. “So big.” It carved a space for himself in Will’s body. They were one now. They will always be one.

 

Will moaned, arching back like a cat in heat. They fucked fast and hard, Will’s hand stroking his neglected member as it rutted violently into his body. “I’m close, I’m-“ The monster growled pushed their lips together, tasting each other’s blood and sound until they both reach their climax.

 

Will fell back onto the bed, leaking blood and cum, but completely satisfied. It too was sated, heaving in the dark as it was corralled down by lucidity and horror.  “God. Will, I-“ red eyed fell onto crimson sheets, and Nigel was back, realizing that he has broken his vows in the space of a few hours.

 

“Nigel.” Will called, opening his arms to welcome his beloved. The man looked away, ashamed. “Nigel.” Will called again, this time touching his arms. Nigel flinched but let Will pulled him closer, only stopping before their body could touch. Will pulled again, but Nigel growled audibly, a weak and strangled thing to warn him away. ‘Please don’t make me.’ He says. ‘I don’t deserve you.’

 

“It’s okay.” Will soothed. Nigel’s growl didn’t stop, but the man slowly let himself down onto the mattress, holding himself up by his elbows and knees. Will chuckled at this stubborn thing he had come to love. “Come on baby, lay on me. Let me feel you.”

 

The name made Nigel stiffen and melted against Will’s body with a grunt. Slowly their breath softened, easing off from the height of pleasure as they learn to inhabit their human form once more.

 

“I’m scared that if I hold you too hard you’ll crumble away and disappear.” Nigel confessed. “But if I don’t have my hands on your heart, how will I know it wont suddenly stop beating?”

 

Will wanted to whisper his reassurance to the man, but when he blinked sleep claimed him. That night he dreamed of rivers and oceans, of stags and mad dogs. He come to a warm meadow and found his place between two shadowy beasts, and Will sunk into their depth and found home in their darkness.

 

**

Chapter Text

Resolving their sexual tension did little to curb their appetites. Will teased and goaded his fiancé as relentlessly as Nigel fucks, which meant that their many attempts to be productive would often lead to rushed quickies and discarded chores. In all honesty, neither one cared about them. When the bed sheet balled up into a mess of nest Nigel would tear it off and screw Will right on the bare mattress. When the beers and water ran out, Will would draw the them into the shower and slaked their thirst while drowning in each other’s kisses.

 

They lived like gods, immune from mortal needs other than carnal ones that refused to settle and cease. Who cares for hunger and thirst when there’s a deeper need to be sated? No animal flesh could ever suffice; only each other’s would, and they kiss and gnaw like as if they could dig past bones and bite into the very muscle of their beating heart.

 

It was an unacceptable way for two adults to live; bohemian, almost bordering on teenage squalor. Yet that is how Nigel made Will feel, like youth newly matured with the knowledge of pleasure. Sex dripped from his very pores like sweat off a gladiator’s back, and Nigel licks them up and spits them onto his pretty face, murmuring “Gorgeous.” as he claims his victory.

 

What they had was beyond love. It was the ceaseless fixation of each other’s body, and soon enough Will found himself living in Nigel’s head, partaking in his madness to drown out his own. Reality was so far removed that a moment of absence filled him with an unexplainable feeling of terror and anxiety.

 

“Darling, I- oof! Hey!” Nigel laughed when Will tackled him as soon as walked into the apartment. “Whoa blue eyes, I-“

 

“Shut up.” Will hissed, smothering Nigel’s lips with punishing kisses. He kicked the door close and swatted the bag of pastries away. He wanted Nigel’s hand, and they were promptly pinned like butterfly wings on a board. “Never leave me alone like that ever again.”

 

Nigel chuckled. “But darling, I wanted to surprise you with breakfast in bed-“

 

“Never. Again.” Will repeated, underlining every word with a knock from his forehead. The pain only made Nigel grinned wider.

 

“Missed me?” The Romanian leered, giving gentle licks that quickly smothered the irritation away from his lover’s eyes.

 

“Terribly.” Will quietly replied, letting the man up so Nigel can embrace him with his thick arms that bore his marks. “Don’t leave me.” He added softy this time, fearful.

 

Seeing his beloved’s strength melt into dread stunned Nigel away from his playful mood.

 

“Never darling.” He muttered wholeheartedly, completely taken by the madness swirling around them.

“I’ll fuckin’ take you wherever I go.” A wayward kiss found frowning lips.

“Fuck you whenever I want.” Veiny hands grabbed bruises as he hiked him higher, closer.

“Because you’re mine, you hear me darling?” Nigel claimed, clutching his prize as he walked them to the kitchen counter. “Mine.”

 

“Yes.” Will sighed, accepting the comfort that only one madman can give to another. “I’m yours.” He whispered as they violently made love. They didn’t speak much for the rest of the day, for Nigel was too busy apologizing for his absence and Will was all too content to be worshipped and pampered.

 

At the back of their minds they knew that this situation weren’t healthy or sustainable. One cannot maintain a relationship by infatuation alone. Once it burns out, fears and insecurities that fuels it would remain, and they would start eating away at the mind of even the most steadfast lover.

 

Yet neither could break away from this comfortable impasse of writhing bodies and pleasured moans. Nigel didn’t want to. He never knew any other way to love, and Will… well, Will wanted to be blind. He has seen enough horrors to last a lifetime, and who could fault him for closing his eyes when a twist of Nigel’s tongue could make them flutter close?

 

For now they had each other’s words, and they were all that they needed, until suddenly it just wasn’t enough.

 

**

 

Another splatter of blood arched through their and landed Nigel’s face, liquid rubies on golden skin, and once again Will was reminded at how aggressively handsome his fiancé was. 

 

Nigel stood over the remaining members of a rival gang, holding their leader by the flesh of his neck as his spine began to slowly rip from his muscles, one vertebra at a time. The man was still breathing, barely wheezing really, but his suffering was evident that the rest of his crew loosened their tongues without so much as a word of encouragement.

 

The Chesapeake Ripper may have made art, but Nigel manipulates pain as deftly as Michelangelo handles a brush. The beauty he created may be transient, but the way light fell on his hardened face was a show in it of itself, and Will was completely captivated by its spectacle.

 

When he looked at Will, the hard lines of Nigel’s face naturally soften into indulgent lines, and not even a possessive growl could come close to replicate the ice that his eyes now bear. Danger oozed out of him like a poisonous miasma, bringing lesser men down to their knees. Will wanted to kneel in front of Nigel for vastly different reasons. His bloodlust was as fragrant as truffles to a sow in heat, and Will needed the man. He needed him now.

 

Blunt nails grazed the Romanian’s broad back impatiently. “Kill them quickly and fuck me baby.” Will whispered, sliding his hand under Nigel’s tight shirt, just as a taste. His muscle tensed at the name, reacting to his presence like flower to a sun.

 

“Go back to your seat darling.” He said, eyes promising him the fuck that he needed.

 

“But baby-“

 

Nigel growled and threw the dying man onto the floor so he could grab Will by the scruff of his neck instead. “Behave.” Came a menacing growl, but it quickly turned into a kitten’s purr as Will stroked the growing bulge on his groin. He pulled Nigel back with him, one step at a time, until the floor was littered with bloody footprints leading to two monster devouring each other’s mouths.

 

“Unbelievable.” Nigel muttered against swollen lips, leaving his fiancé laughing merrily away. His voice brought levity to the grim basement, stripping away decades of atmospheric dread that Nigel had carefully cultivated. Still, the man couldn’t bring himself to care, for the walls echoed so wonderfully with his giggles, and soon enough he too was smiling as he ripped a man’s vertebra out from his back.

 

Seeing his influence on Nigel filled Will with a quiet sort of power. Giddy with the newfound strength, he began dreaming up of all manners hells they could raise around Europe. However, fantasies of burning museums and erecting monuments of flesh soon began to lose their novelty, for Nigel’s absence stretched minutes into eternities, and Will began to flounder anew.

 

“Nigel.” Will called, nervous that he couldn’t see his lover’s face, but the screaming of dying men instantly engulfed his timid voice. “Nigel.” He tried again, but this time his throat was dry and tight, and the name came out like it was muttered underwater. “Nnnhh…“

 

He couldn’t breathe. Hands sized up into fists, digging crescent marks into his palms. They broke skin and touched bones. Blood dripped and joined the crimson footprints caging his figure, and were all that was left of his fiancé, for every dead men wore Nigel’s face. ‘He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead.’  

 

Terror settled into his bones, heavy, suffocating. It forced them together until they creak alongside the beating of his heart. Thud. Thud. Thud. Was that his heart, or the sound of a cleaver splitting his fiancé into two? Thud. Thud. Thud. Suddenly the world was spinning, and then it shook, and it stopped. ‘I’m dead.’ Will thought, and there was no peace in the darkness, only dread.

 

“Will!” Nigel’s voice brought him back to live. His face twisted up in concern and anguish, a strange combination for a powerful man to feel, but it meant that he was alive.

 

Will whimpered and threw himself into Nigel’s arms, uncaring of the blood and viscera that now clung to his hair and clothes. “Darling, what’s wrong?” Nigel asked, his voice as broken as Will was.

 

The man just shook his head. “Nightmares.” He said, for what else could explain this blip of madness in their idyllic paradise? “I probably shouldn’t fall asleep in your murder dungeon. Makes for some scary dreams.” He forced himself to say.

 

Happy that his fiancé was coming back to form, Nigel just rolled his eyes and kissed him again. “How about I fuck you here, hm? Make some new memories that’ll get you hard instead?”

 

“God, yes.” Will sighed, too preoccupied by his lover’s touch to think twice about some freak hallucination.

 

**

 

It came to him again, the terror, and this time it didn’t smother his voice. He called for Nigel until his throat turned raw, and the man came bounding out the shower, feet bloody from the shards of glass he smashed through in his haste. “I’m here darling, I’m here! Stop screaming! Christ!”

 

Eventually he did, and his hoarse apologies fell on deaf ears as Nigel tended to his needs and ignored his own.

 

Then it visited him while they were in public. On a short outing in the city when they stopped by a coffee to rest and relax. Nigel left him to fetch their order at the counter, and as soon as he disappeared behind the door, cold dread seized Will in its claw and crumpled him into a ball of shaking mess. There were no visions, no screams of terror, but the same feeling of helplessness remained.

 

A concerned patron approached to offer his help, but for the life of him Will couldn’t shake out of his delirium and warn him away. ‘Please don’t. If you touch me then my fiancé will kill you.’ His lips were unwillingly sealed, teeth locking his jaw into place.

 

Sure enough, when Nigel saw a stranger bending over Will’s shaking figure, he abandoned all reason and shattered a steaming mug of coffee onto the side of his face. “Don’t fucking touch what’s not yours.” He said calmly before collecting Will in his arms and striding past the crowd of horrified bystanders.

 

“I’m sorry.” Will stammered to the poor man groaning on the floor, but there were already in the car, secluded from scorn of the public’s eye.

 

“Don’t apologize darling.“ Nigel drawled. “The cunt deserved it.”

 

He didn’t.’ Will thought. ‘It was my fault.’

 

Then it happened again.

And again.

And again.

 

“There’s something wrong with me.” Will hissed through chattering teeth. His body and mind may be broken, yet he still refused to back down. “Nigel, I think I need a doctor.”

 

“Anything you need darling.” Nigel said in hushed tones, placing a hand on Will’s skin and watching in fascination as the shaking body stilled and softened.

 

**

 

The clinic remained very much the same, run down with a neat sort of squalidness that perfectly embodied it’s attending physician. Dr. Petrov listened to Will with the clinical detachment of a scientist and the sympathy of a reptile. Will hated that look, that cold calculating stare that reminded him too much of Hannibal, Chilton and every other doctor who has ruined his life.

 

For all their Hippocratic oaths and expensive fees, his doctors never seemed to have his best interest at heart. Unfortunately for him, Will still needed them, but he would rather choose a honest tweaker like Petrov over some polished psychopath with a medical license.

 

“Neurologically there is nothing wrong with you.” Petrov mused in his thick accent, closing the thick file that held pictures of Will’s brain scans. “However, these symptoms do seems to be related to some kind of panic disorder or PTSD. Ethically I can’t give you a proper diagnosis. A psychiatrist would be better suited-“

 

“No. No psychiatrist.” Will hissed, sitting up on the exam table and buttoning up his shirt. “And we didn’t come to you with ethical choices in mind, Doctor. I just want to get better fast.”

 

Nigel grinned, loving the way his fiancé come alive in his righteous anger. “Anything you need darling.”  He said into curls of chocolate hair. The Russian doctor stared blankly at them, particularly at Nigel. The man was chronically lovesick with a bleak prognosis for recovery, and Dr. Petrov knew better than to reason with men like him in the presence of their lovers.

 

“Then I will be back with something to ease your symptoms. In the meantime Domnul Nigel, may I speak with you privately about certain payments?”

 

“No you may not.” Nigel shot back as soon as the words left the doctor’s lips. Will shot him a disapproving glare. “I’m not leaving you darling.”

 

“You don’t have to coddle me Nigel. Eventually I’ll have to learn not to freak out when you’re not around. Might as well start now.” Will pulled his hand away and took a deep steadying breath, eager to start his road to recovery. “People cant live joined at the hips like we do.”

 

And what a fucking shame that is.’ The man thought, quietly kissing his beloved and promising a swift return.

 

**

 

A block of solid pressed cocaine lay in the corner of Dr. Petrov’s small office, a generous ‘gift’ from Nigel to repay the man for his excellent service during their recovery. Dr. Petrov immediately made a beeline towards the block, brandishing a small razor to chip off a corner and crumble it into powder.

 

“Would you like a hit domnule?” the doctor offered as he cuts out two neat white lines. Nigel stared distastefully at the proffered straw and small mirror.

 

“I don’t partake in my own merchandise.”

 

‘And I certainly don’t get high with fucking junkies.’ Nigel thought. The old him would’ve snapped and jammed the mirror down Petrov’s throat, but he quickly reminded himself of Will, and it was enough to settle the mild irritation knocking on the back of his head.

 

Nigel smiled down at the sight of the matching silver band on his hand. Will really does make him want to be a better man.

 

“So, you wanted to talk about payment?”

 

“Not exactly.” The doctor said grimly, though the somber atmosphere was promptly shattered by the two quick snorts over the mirror. “As his significant other, I strongly advise you to steer Mr. Graham towards therapy. A cocktail of drugs with no oversight is sure fire way to abuse.” The doctor chuckled, raising the now clean mirror and gesturing to his run down clinic. “Trust me sir, I would know.”

 

A frown promptly replaced the smile on Nigel’s face as his stomach dropped at the mention of medication. “A cocktail? Christ. I thought you’re just going to give him a Prozac or something.” He snapped, reminded by those overeager quacks who sedated him like an animal.

 

“If only it were that simple.” The doctor sighed, looking rather grim and serious. He flipped open a medical reference book and looked up an entry on PTSD and other similar disorders. The list of medicine was substantial, and the font was small enough that Nigel had to lean in and squint to even make out the words.

 

“Mild sedatives to calm the patient during an attack and improve sleep cycles-“ The doctor underlined a few words that sounded more like a spell than a medicine. “SSRI to reduce the effects of depression. Mood stabilizers for the aftermath of a panic attack. Ah, and of course, an anti-psychotic or two to manage the hallucinations.“

 

“Anti-psych… Just hold the fuck up doc. My fiancé isn’t fucking psychotic.”

 

“But he is seeing hallucinations, yes?”

 

Nigel didn’t have a valid argument against that. “He’s always seeing things. My darling’s special that way. Doesn’t mean he’s fucking psychotic.” he scoffed, throwing the pad back at the doctor’s table with a sneer. “What is this? Benzos? Anti-depressants? Sleeping fucking aid? He doesn’t need half this shit!” He crossed his arms and glared at the block of cocaine in the corner of the room. “My fiancé is fine. He doesnt need to choke down pills to get better.”

 

Dr. Petrov looked at the man impassively, completely aware of the danger of confronting such a volatile man. Yet he must. Despite his terrible addiction and fall from grace, the man is still a doctor.

 

So he leaned forward and looked at Nigel straight in his eyes. “With all due respect Domnul, if Mr. Graham is indeed fine, then why are we here?”

 

**

 

To distract himself from the mounting feeling of existential dread Will decided to count all the dirty tiles that lined the clinic’s ceiling. It’s a coping mechanism he haven’t resorted back to since childhood, and as an adult, his mind was too full and busy to be quieted down by simple counting alone. Yet he persisted anyways, reminding himself that Nigel is just right next door, that one extra tile counted would bring his beloved back sooner.

 

Sure enough the door slammed open and Nigel rushed in, kissing him down to the examination table until he was all that Will could taste, smell, and see.

 

“Better?” the man asked, studying his fiancé much closer than usual.

 

“Yes. Much better.” Will sighed, feeling like himself again now that he’s back in Nigel’s arm, where he rightfully belonged.

 

**

 

The diagnosis hung over Will’s head like darkening cloud that threaten to turn into storm. He may have gone through traumatic experiences, but Will never once considered himself traumatized.

 

Resiliency was the one thing he prided himself in, for he’ll take whatever bullshit was thrown in his way and catapult it back to the world with a vengeance. Now, he couldn’t even bother to revel in fantasies of violence, for the slightest threat of separation would render him into a trembling mess.

 

‘Weak.’ Will thought disdainfully.

 

Nigel’s large hand fell onto his head and tousled it gently. “You’ll be ok darling.” And he said it with such vehemence that Will couldn’t help but believe it too.

 

Before they went home, the two stopped by Nigel’s favorite restaurant for dinner and a distraction. It’s a kitschy little place tucked behind a row of specialty leather shops that has long been abandoned but never renovated. Patriotic slogans from early soviet era can be found plastered between oil paintings of rural Russia and cattle portraits. The menus were all in Cyrillic, smudged on a chalkboard above the till, and the only chef in the kitchen was a mean looking babushka whose face lit up as soon as Nigel called for her attention.

 

“She says you’re too thin.” Nigel grinned as he joined Will in their preferred booth, face rubbed red from her overexcited patting.  Will just rolled his eyes.

 

“No she didn’t. She was talking about venison or… deer?” he frowned. His Romanian was fast improving, but his Russian remained terrible. Nigel didn’t have that problem. The man was a polyglot, soaking up new languages as easily as one would pick up a sport.

 

“Yes darling, she was talking about you. Poor little deer, all skin and bones. I told her I cut myself on those hips every time I pound you from behind.”

 

“Oh god, you didn’t.” Will groaned, eyes widening even further when a server placed a cutting board full of meat and sausages in front of them. It was practically Freudian. “Nigel you ordered too much.” He said weakly, eyeing a small mountain of potatoes that soon joined their veritable smorgasbord.

 

“Then you better start eating little deer.” Came the teasing response, and despite his many protest, Will found himself digging into his plate, first with mild resentment and then with renewed gusto. Just like that the tempestuous cloud dispersed.

 

Nigel leaned back on his seat and ate in small bites, finding nourishment instead in the sight of his beloved’s delight.  The man barely touched his plate, reaching over only to sneak more pieces of meat onto Will’s plate with casual nonchalance.

 

Though he never enjoyed other people’s mothering, Will found himself content to let Nigel spoil him in his own quiet little ways. The man’s need to nurture and provide contrasted beautifully against his aggressive façade. It soften up the rough edges of Will’s demeanor, teaching him how accepting one’s devotion can also be an expression of love.

 

“I’m so lucky to have you.” Will murmured behind a glass of bubbly kvass. “I can’t wait to be your husband, and for you to be mine.”

 

“G-god, Will. You already have me darling.” Nigel stuttered, glassy eyes blinked dry as tender words rend the very breath out from his lungs. “Fuck. Fuck.” He hissed as his eyes watered anew, holding onto Will’s hand to touch the simple silver band.

 

‘I’ll bring down Heaven, Hell, and everything else in between if you desired it darling.’

 

Will chuckled and held back just as tightly. “Does this mean we can skip the wedding then?” he teased. That little quip earned him a glare and a pinch, adding levity to the intense atmosphere.

 

Nigel promptly declared that they’re going to have a big fat Romanian wedding, complete with the orthodox priest and ceremonial crowns. “Real fucken’ crowns, none of that plastic symbolic shit. You deserve the best. Jewels and diamonds, and all that shit.”

 

Will just rolled his eyes and smirked, used to Nigel spewing his grand fantasies when he’s in one of his good moods. “As long as you don’t steal it.  And no celebratory gunfire.” He added. Nigel looked affronted by the request.

 

Eager to prove himself a good spouse, Nigel agreed, countering with a demand of his own. “Fine. But we’re doing in it the big church. The one in Spirea Square.”

 

“Alright.”

 

“With matching suits. Pink ones.”

 

That made Will sputtered out his last sip of kvass. “I swear to god Nigel -“

 

“I’m kidding darling, kidding! No guns. No matching suits. Just you, me, the pooch and Darko’s family.” Nigel smiled melted as more names began to pop up. “I guess the doctor should come too. He did save our life. Twice. And the men. Fuck. I guess we can just invite the usual crowd that comes for brunch, but I suppose not giving space for their men would make us look cheap. Oh, and you should invite those professor friends of yours too, so they’ll fucking know not to make googly eyes at a married man. Shit.” He frowned. “Sorry darling, I thought I can keep the guest list under ten.”

 

Will just shook his head, unconcerned by any other consideration but Nigel’s happiness. “We’ll work on a guest list together.”

 

He pulled up Nigel’s hand, rough and calloused and was made for his worship. Feather light kisses anointed each knuckle, thanking them for their protection, for their joy, for their pain. Will could only pray that one day he could measure up to this man who has given him the world. 

 

“Thank you baby, I love you.”

 

Those words made want to Nigel cry, and also throw Will onto his shoulder so they can elope.

 

“You’re welcome darling, I love you too.”

 

 ***

 

Bellies sated and heads full of wedding dreams, they stumbled into the apartment like rowdy teenager, reaching for each other with teasing touches and amorous gazes. Eager to soothe any lingering unease, Nigel pulled Will onto his lap and began kissing the exposed planes of his body, humming in approval of the new softness that pillowed his bones.

 

“You’re gorgeous.” Nigel panted, worrying the little brown nub of nipple that made pale skin ruddy and warm. “So fucking gorgeous darling. See how hard I am for you?” A large bulge slid up against another, stoking the fire inside of them that were never really extinguished.

 

Will popped open his jeans and let Nigel stripped him bare. “Oh… Wait Nigel. Let me take my medication before we play.” 

 

The man ignored Will’s protest and continued kissing down his torso, a playful tongue dipping into his navel. “God!” Will giggled, pushing him back before he could catch his cock between his lips. “I’ll be quick. Where did you put my pills baby?”

 

“What pills?”

 

“The ones for my-“ Will rolled his eyes, “-anxiety, PTSD, and whatever mess the doctor told me I have.” Nigel hummed and pulled him closer, pretending not to hear those wretched words that only served to bring his beloved down. “Nigel?” The man  asked, pulling away  as he sensed that something was amiss. “Nigel, where are my pills?”

 

The man sighed and let angry hands wrenched themselves out of his grasp. “You don’t have any pills darling.” He said, rising up to embrace Will back into his arms. “I threw them out. You don’t need them.” A tentative kiss found it’s way against furrowed brows, maroon eyes opening wide, pleading for ones to see, to understand.  “You only need me.”

 

Horror began to creep back up Wills stomach, threatening to push up the dinner they just lovingly share. “Fuck you Nigel.” He hissed, swallowing back the venom that has poisoned their love. “How could you?”

 

“How could I what?” Nigel stepped close, face shadowed and hidden from view.

 

“Lie!”

 

A loud bang and the coffee table were upturned, kicked away like it was nothing but an empty can. “Come now Will, you know that I don’t lie.” Nigel murmured, his voice still light and airy, but his eyes were flat and dead. “It’s true darling, you’re only sick when I’m not with you. Then I’ll just always be with you, so you won’t ever get sick. Problem. Fucking. Solved.” Deft fingers captured Will’s jaw, the silver ring digging into the bones of his jaw. Blinding. Binding.

 

“You can’t promise that. You saw how much I suffered. You fucking saw it with your goddamn eyes!” Will shook his head, counting on the remnants of Nigel’s affection to let him go. “But you like me like this, don’t you? All traumatized and weak.” The word burned them both as Will hissed it out, a curse they tried so hard to avoid. “God, you prefer me like this, because at least you’ll be the strong one.”

 

“Darling…”

 

“He did the same thing you know? He let me get sicker and sicker until my brain all but melted through my skull.” And time was cyclical, for history repeats itself with different people who all wore the same faces. “God. You’re just as bad as Hann-“

 

“Don’t.” The man snapped, rushing forward to cradle Will in a heated embrace. “You shouldn’t say those sorts of things to your fiancé darling. I am nothing like him.” strong hands held trembling arms, giving it the comfort that it seek, even through anger and deceit. “I wont let you burn, darling, and sure as hell wont let you lose that beautiful mind to fucking benzos and uppers.”

 

“But I need to get better. “ Will gasped, feeling trapped and alone at the same time. “I can’t get better if I can’t breathe when you’re not around!”

 

“God, fucking listen to me Will!” the man shouted. “If I am what you need then fucking have me. I’ll stay by your side until you’re healthy. Shit, I wont fucking leave even if you are healthy. You’re mine darling, just because you’re sick doesn’t change that fact.”

 

Cold blue eyes looked to him skittishly; a wild animal where a loyal companion used to be. “Oh darling.” Nigel sighed in regret. “Aren’t I better than some pill that’ll just numb your emotions and make you blue?” He reached out, grazing Will’s beautiful face with the barest of a touch. “Haven’t I taken care of you? Held you? Haven’t I been good enough to you darling?”

 

“You have.” Will whispered, leaning into the touch, knees already trembling from the distance. “But how will I know you won’t leave?” he asked, speaking with the voice that held old fears and doubts. “How will I know you won’t use it to punish me one day? To manipulate me? ” ‘Like he did so many times before.’

 

Nigel wanted to scream, to punish Will for even comparing him to the monster of his past, but he held back, reminding himself of the promise he made when he proposed.

 

“I’m not him, I won’t leave, and I’ll keep fucking saying it until you believe it.” Nigel sighed. He reached out with his hand, holding it out for his lover to take. “I love you Will. I will never betray you.”

 

Will wasn’t sure if it was the tremors in Nigel’s hands, or the red blooming between the inky darkness of his tattoos, but in that small stretch of eternity, something convinced Will to close his eyes and take that little leap of faith.

 

“Okay.” He mumbled, surrendering what lingering fears he had left.

 

When he opened his eyes, Will found himself in Nigel’s arm, safe as he always were, cherished the way he deserved to be, and loved. Perfectly loved.

 

 

**

 

The midtown air in New York held the scent of uptown class and the stench downtown sleaze. Nestled amongst the many restaurants and comedy clubs was a nondescript jazz club, open only to members of the elite who were connected enough to earn an invitation and rich enough to maintain it’s exorbitant fee.

 

Gabi walked through the ornate doors, not by invitation, but from the familiarity of a previous job. The guards recognized her face and allowed her in. “You’re in luck. He came in early today.” Gabi nodded and thanked the hulking man standing guard, nerves already frayed from the many breakdowns she had on her way here.

 

The club itself wasn’t very large, but it was ornately filled with a mixture of antiques seats and modern lighting. Gabi had pawned off her cello here, settling for a few measly grand so she could afford to get back to Bucharest and reclaimed her fortune. A terribly high interest was promised upon her return, and if she couldn’t pay, then one of the last surviving Amati cello would disappear into the void of the black market.

 

Gabi could not bear the shame of losing such a valuable a family heirloom over someone like Charlie Countryman.

 

She spied the man in charge, a bearded man with silver in his hair and whimsy between the lines of his eyes. Gabi pulled out the seat opposed to him and waited. The man all but ignored her presence, opting to focus on his small leather journal filled with names of prodigy musician set to take the stage later at night.

 

Gabi knew better than to speak up and interrupt him. The last costumer that tried that had lost his arm.

 

“Hello Gabriella.” He finally greeted her with a polite that was barely visible through his thick beard. “Have you come back for your Amati?” he asked, scanning her disheveled figure with eyes that made her feel inadequate and small.

 

“I… I-” Gabi stammered, rushing forward into the man’s arms, bursting into tears on his impeccable lapels. The man’s finger twitched, quelling the urge to strangle the girl with the strings of her pawned off instrument.

 

Instead he just patted her shoulder and asked, “Whatever is the matter Gabriella?”

 

“My husband wouldn’t take me back.”

 

“Oh my.” He pulled out his pocket square and offered it to her. “My condolences.”

 

“Is there… anyway I can earn it back?” Gabi asked hopefully. “My cello is still here, isn’t it?”

 

“Why yes. Yes, of course. We enjoyed your performance last time, and the club is always eager for new talents.” The man nodded towards the stage, empty except for a piano tucked in the corner. “You may earn it back by performing here if you like. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to hold on to it long. It might be just a Cello, but an Amati is quite sought after. If a good offer comes through-“

 

“I was thinking of earning it in a different way.” The redhead interrupted, green eyes suddenly dry as ambition took over the fake grief that she failed to weaponize.

 

“Oh.” The man smiled thinly, stepping aside to hide his distaste “I’m afraid your body isn’t even worth the rosin residue on the string.”

 

“No, sir.” Gabi gnashed tightly through gritted teeth. “I meant to say that I have some information you might be interested in. Something good enough to trade for my Cello, perhaps?”

 

“Oh? And pray tell, what scandalous information could be worth trading a four hundred year old Cello for?”

 

“My husband’s new lover. Will Graham.”

 

The cordial smile dropped at the name he hasn’t heard in almost a year. “Oh Gabriella, you should’ve started the conversation with that.” Hannibal sighed. “We’ve wasted enough time. Come, let’s talk in my office.”

Chapter Text

 

Warm arms enveloped his sides, feather light and unbearably heavy at the same time. They stilled his squirming body as Nigel pushed his cock deeply into him. “That’s it. Take my big fat cock.” He whispered, though his obscenities sounding like worship. A flick of a tongue reached out to taste the salty drops from his shivering body, the taste of his beloved, the taste of his husband.

 

“Nigel… Ah! I-I can’t.”  Will mewled pushing Nigel’s wandering hand away from his cock, half hard and red from the rough tugging and constant stimulus. “Pleaseeee!”

 

“Cum.” Was gently said, never an order, and it was enough to push him off the precipice of climax, falling into the agonizing throes of a dry orgasm.

 

Nigel stilled, giving his beloved a moment of reprieve before pulling the spent body back onto his cock, soft muscle spasm weakly along his shaft, milking, suffocating, perfectly his to torment and abuse

 

“No more.” Will sobbed, well past the point of overstimulation. Nigel stilled to take in his desperate pleading, relishing how one’s sharp mind can be dulled by pleasure and love.

 

He kissed the nape of Will’s neck, murmuring, “I love you.”  Before resuming the slow glide of his hips, breath even and focused as he fucked Will deeper into madness, heedless of his own climax.

 

“Please!” Will wailed, his voice unrecognizable as Nigel brought his large hand up to his throat, pulling him back so they are flush, chest to back. He trashed inside Nigel’s arm, but his hold was true and steady. His rock. His anchor. “Nigel I cant-“ gasped sobs rang before a deep baritone hushed him into silence.

 

“Yes you can darling.” Nigel hummed, slowly gliding his shaft past Will’s prostate, his cock too thick to not brush against the swollen organ. “You’re being punished, remember?”

 

Blue eyes darted met Nigel to plead for mercy, but his gaze was so full of love and jealousy that Will felt it seeping into his weakened bones. “I already- god! -apologized…”

 

“And I accept your apology,” Nigel hummed, though his words held none of his usual warmth. Will’s transgression was just too fresh in his mind.  “-but you shouldn’t let other men touch you like that.” He rocked slowly, a man of violence choosing gentleness as his weapon of choice, for he wouldn’t want to break his beloved, not even to sate his burning jealousy. “You’re mine.” Hands tiled Will’s jaw back, a gentle kiss pressed against trembling lips, as claiming and intense as the cock in his ass. “Un.der.stand. darling?” he whispered, fucking the question into Will with agonizing slowness.

 

Will can read it in his eyes, that mad obsession that leaves him excited and afraid. ‘You’re so goddamn pretty darling. Wanna keep you here forever. Fucking love you so bad it hurts. I love you I love youIlove-‘ He loves it. He cant get enough of it. With Nigel, he was always wanted.

 

‘’Yes.” Will said, clenching hard, whining as his confession brought Nigel hips faster. The speed was enough to bring new sensations to his over stimulated prostate, enough make him gasp from the sheer size of the monster, enough to send him reeling into another orgasm. And another. And another.

 

The man still did not cease.

 

“Nigel!” Will arched away from him only to be pulled back and marked in bites and kisses. “God… Nigel.” Stilted sobs began anew as Nigel continued on to fuck him, laving over the bite mark that he left on Will’s jugular. “… ‘ve you.” Will mumbled before going limp and flat, his body sending him to sleep so he may escape from the torturous fuck.

 

Nigel immediately pulled out, uninterested in tormenting the man now that he’s unconscious. He bit down the instinct to claim the man. Instead, he sat back on his heels and stroking his heavy shaft with his hand. It was nothing more than a perfunctory act to ease the painful pressure of his arousal. It wasn’t for pleasure. His cock was a weapon to punish his beloved, and now that he’s done, Nigel was eager to put it away.

 

Red eyes zeroed in on his sleeping beloved, noting the erotic curve of his body, the shimmery glint of his spent cum on a flat abdomen, his tears. God, he was so beautiful even in his pain.

 

He quietly cum onto Will’s hips, no longer jutting with bones but pleasingly firm, a perfect handle to sink his fingers into. Molten anger melted out of his spine along with his climax, reduced to embers, still present and warm. He milked his cock of the last oozing seed, wishing he could cover the man in his ejaculate, make him filthy and wet, and his.

 

Like a dog marking his territory, Nigel rubbed his cum into Will’s skin, mixing it with his sweat and his own meager semen. He’ll carry the stench of sex with him, warning others to stay away, as if his wedding ring and Nigel’s constant presence wasn’t enough to do so.

 

Slippery fingers crawled up Will’s flat stomach and toned chest, forcing swollen lips apart as he smeared the mixture onto Will’s tongue.

 

‘Not enough. ‘ Nigel thought as he finger fucked Will’s pretty mouth, forcing the man to gag in his sleep. It was unnecessarily obscene and cruel, but the act still stirred Nigel’s waning erection. He pulled away before his cock could harden completely, choosing to sate himself on the taste of his essence from his fingers. ‘Gonna taste everything about you darling. Gonna fuck you open and rip you apart so I can make my way to your heart and make it mine.’

 

People say that clarity comes after an orgasm, but moments like these invited madness into Nigel’s bed. So he pulled away, forcing sanity back with mutterings of ‘We don’t hurt this one. We love him. We trust him.’ but every time he paced back nearby Will’s sleeping body, the beast inside him reared up.

 

Nigel ended up staring at him in the dark, quietly smoking so he can at least sate one craving for the man.

 

Smoke rose around Will’s beautiful figure, wisp of white lines crowning over his body like threads of spider silk, cocooning him in a scent that is wholly his. There was no more apt imagery to describe their relationship, Nigel the villainous monster trapping this lost angel in a nest of his embrace. If only he could consume Will like a spider might consume his prey. Would it stop his growing obsession before it consume him first?

 

 

 

The sight reminded Nigel of the smoke filled club he pulled his husband into. They just had a lovely dinner at some local brasserie, both men in excellent mood from the wine and food. A persistent thumping beneath their feet stopped them on their tracks. It was a nightclub, half hidden underground. The rhythm of the bass matched that of Nigel’s heartbeat when he’s with Will, fast and frantic. He grinned and pushed them both past the bouncer, eager to show his husband how alive he makes him feel.

 

Faceless Parisian bodies melded into one heaving mass of flesh, undulating like a massive creature of passion and debauchery. The two disappeared into them together, pressed close against each other, contained in their own world where they only had eyes for one another.

 

“I don’t know how to dance like this.” Will shouted over the music, but Nigel just held him close and moved them to the beat, drawing eyes that looked upon them hungrily. Nigel eyes flicked up to meet any challenging stares, but they quickly pulled away. He sorted at their retreat and focused all his attention to the writhing beauty in his arms.

 

Nigel couldn’t blame them. Will’s smile alone was enough to make a spectacle. To see him dancing with abandon was temptation incarnate. Nigel felt so proud, so lucky to have this man, vowing to always guard him with the same vigilance and jealousy and love.

 

He remembered Will’s request for a drink, eager hands barely leaving his as he was deposited onto the empty VIP section. “Wait for me darling, I’ll just be a second.” Nigel shouted over the beat. Will had pouted adorably, tipsy, but eager to prove to Nigel that he can exist without him for a few measly minutes.

 

When Nigel back around, he found Will back on the dance floor, too drunk off the crowd’s energy to resist joining them, probably eager to escape his own head. He had his hand on a girl’s hips, bodies an arm length apart, playful and innocent. Nigel grinned and watched the two, eyes meeting with Will’s from across the floor, a predatory lick over his tongue as he savored the appetizing sight.

 

That is, until a man slid up behind him and grinded into his husband’s ass. Will just smirk, bit his tongue, and lolled his head back to the stranger’s chest.

 

Suffice to say Will never did get his drink, but they did leave a man bleeding on the clubroom floor, a handful of cash thrown over his face to pay for whatever damages Nigel inflicted.

 

Will had been angry, embarrassed, and confused beyond belief. He struggled in Nigel’s arm. “What the fuck is wrong with you Nigel? I was just fucking dancing! Christ, and just as I was learning to keep myself calm without you.” It wasn’t until he looked upon Nigel’s cold dead eyes that he understood the severity of his mistake.

 

 

 

 

Nigel tapped the ass off his cigarette and took in a deep breath, releasing the memory of that exchange along with a stream of smoke. He did that until he couldn’t feel the sharp jab of his anger anymore, and before long, Nigel begun to taste the telltale bitterness of the cigarette filter.

 

He stubbed the spent cigarette out and move to light up a new one. However, as he flicked open his lighter, Nigel was quietly enraptured by the way the gentle glow of the fire lit up Will’s beautiful body.

 

Tan skin stretched from his fingers to his toes, a healthy glow as golden as Apollo himself. They were peppered by Nigel’s marks, bites and bruises in purple and red, as well as the pink of scar on his jugular. The glint of his white gold wedding ring caught the fire’s light, as pure as their love for each other, as eternal as the diamonds embedded there.

 

They were all tender gesture of his love and loyalty, but they never seemed enough. Men and women still look at Will with desire, still dared to step up, seducing him with friendly banters that Nigel quickly stopped with an angry glare and a vicious remark.

 

How does he keep them away? How does he keep his husband his? He marked him up so much already. How much more can he lay claim before every inch of his beautiful skin was filled with bites, bruises, and scars?

 

The need still remained. And suddenly the glow of his cigarette ember looked so beautiful.

 

They would look even more beautiful against your skin, darling.’

 

Itching fingers held his cigarette steady, flicking off the ash to reveal new embers, hot and pulsing. He considered where he should mark his beloved. Somewhere everyone can see, but also somewhere that wouldn’t take away from his beauty.

 

Still, wouldn’t it be nice to have his pretty face all scarred up? That way nobody would be tempted anymore. Only Nigel could remember his beauty, only he could love him.

 

Instead of pushing it against Will’s skin like he wanted, Nigel extinguished the cigarette between his fingers and slipped right next to his lover. “Mine.” He growled, but alone in the dark, it sounded less like a declaration and more like a desperate plea.

 

 

**

 

They walked down an aisle of trusted friends and polite colleagues. Will’s side filled with academia acquaintances, shooting strange looks towards the group of dangerous men who attended Nigel’s side.  Kefir barked between them, running from person to person, eager to be petted as the air hummed with joyous anticipation.

 

A priest, sufficiently threatened and bribed, welcomed them with a smile. The altar boys that attended him looked towards both grooms with a sense of awe and confusion, their conservative innocent lives upturned at the sight of two men at the altar. Nigel caught them staring, but on this happy day he couldn’t even be bothered to be mean. Instead, he mischievously winked, causing blushes to rise up to color their cherubic cheeks.

 

Will chuckled at his fiancé little jibe, feeling calm and completely at home even as he faced a crowd in an ornately decorated church. There was nothing to be feared, because Nigel was with him, and they will soon be married.

 

They wore matching suits of black and white, traditional and subdued given the very untraditional ceremony they’re about to perform. On Nigel it made him look powerful, like a man worthy of the money and respect he commandeered in his formidable hands. Yet he wore more than just a powerful suit and façade of menace, for his severe expression softened into a gentle smile when he met the eyes of his husband to be.

 

On Will the suit drew a silhouette sharper than the knife he began carrying in his pocket. It hugs him in all the right places, slim figure inspiring elegance and beauty, yet no less dangerous or masculine than his fiancé standing beside him. The air of danger around him was ceaseless. They did not abate even as he smiled, nor did they lessen when he kneeled in front of the cross. The man was undeniably powerful, and together, the two looked like a match made in heaven, ready to rain hellfire upon their enemies.

 

“Be magnified, O Bridegrooms, as Abraham, and blessed as Isaac, and increased as was Jacob. Go your way in peace, performing in righteousness the commandments of God.”

 

The priest raised up crowns so heavy that it fell onto their heads with a thunk. Will snorted at the utter ridiculousness of it, and it devolved into a muffled chortle. Nigel joined in, stifling a laugh under the priest’s irritated glare. His disapproval didn’t matter, for Will’s adorable little giggle was worth every scorn, ever last carat of conflict diamonds on his head, for Nigel never heard a sweeter sound.

 

“O God, Who by Your might create all things, and confirm the universe, and adorn the crown of all things created by You, do You, with Your spiritual blessing, bless also this common cup given to them that are joined in the community of marriage.”

 

They shared sips of wine from crystal cups, as sour as vinegar, sweetened by their kiss.

 

“The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the All ‑Holy, Life ‑creating Trinity; One Godhead and Kingdom; bless you; grant to you long life, well-favored children, progress in life and in Faith; replenish you with all the good things of the earth, and count you worthy of the promised blessings. Amen.”

 

Finally, they rose together in a chorus of solemn hymns, husbands, in the eyes of God and man.

 

***

 

After the ceremony Nigel took him on the back of his Rolls Royce, blessing the leather seats of their new car with the sacrament of sweat and semen.

 

Will took his pulsing length greedily, enjoying the way Nigel’s cock stretched him beyond his limits. He loved the way his muscles ached and threatened to rip under the man’s rough thrust. It made him feel animalistic, savage, and alive.

 

Nigel always made him feel so alive

 

“So big.” Will gasped, whining in that delightful sweet tone that Nigel just cant seem to get enough of. The Romanian leaned forward in the cramped space, twisting himself into all sorts of uncomfortable positions so he could kiss his new husband.

 

“I love you Will.” Nigel whispered, giving into his animalistic need to feel his mate under him, a sated beast nuzzling his mark.

 

“I love you too Nigel.” Hearing it made Nigel want to sob.

 

They stayed there until Yerni knocked, coughing and looking away to give them a chance to cover themselves. Not that he could see anything, the windows were all fogged up, but the distant rocking of the vehicle told him enough of what’s happening inside. The youth had had Kefir in his arms, the dog’s tongue lolling out happily, oblivious what’s happening around him.

 

Will quickly turned around, and pulled his pants up, mumbling a slew of hushed “Scuze, scuyze, fuck!” in his still atrocious Romanian.

 

Unlike his modest husband, Nigel had no qualms about other people seeing him naked. The man kicked open the car door, stepped out, and openly tucked his cock back into his pants, grinning as he zipped himself up. “Mulţumesc, Baiete.” He chuckled, lighting up a cigarette before accepting the rowdy dog from his loyal underling.

 

Yerni looked star stuck and mortified. He’s a grown man, no stranger to the naked bodies of both men and women, yet his usually stoic face reddened so much that it matched Will’s freshly spanked ass.

 

They sped off to the reception hall with a honk, windows rolled down so they can air out the scent of sweat and sex from their new car. Darko flipped them off as they passed, failing to his delighted little smile. Nigel returned the gesture, looking like the happiest man in the whole wide world.

 

“I have a husband now.” Will quietly said, almost in childish wonder, though the utterly debauched look of his disheveled suit and tousled hair paints a less innocent picture to anyone looking.

 

He settled Kefir on the back seat and clambered over to join Nigel in the front, yelping when one of his shoes was caught between the consoles. He kicked them off, staining the cream leather interior with dirt from his soles. Nigel just laughed and snatched one of his wiggling toes, earning him a playful slap and shriek from his beautiful husband.

 

‘Husband.’ Despite being married before, the word still felt new and strange. It made their chest flutter with anticipation, like children on Christmas morning, ready to unravel the present that was their future.

 

“What do you want for your wedding gift darling?” Nigel asked, pulling Will over so he could embrace him as they drive. “Tell me blue eyes. Give me a chance to make you feel as happy as I am right now.”

 

Will laughed, shaking his head in disbelief. “I have all that I could ever want right here.” He said, trading one saccharine line after another and meaning every damn word.

 

Nigel just grumbled, childish and petulant in a way that only Will knows. “That’s not something I could buy for you darling…” A playful finger flicked over Will’s nose. The man just chuckled and caught his hand, cradling it close to his heart as they cruise peacefully down a highway.

 

“Maybe a fishing trip? I don’t know.” Will sighed, stumped now that he’s utterly content. “I always did like the stream near my old house.”

 

“That’s it? A stream?” Nigel almost scoffed at the simplicity of the request. “Just you wait darling, I’ll give you a whole fucking ocean.”

 

**

 

They spent the day in the marina, working prepare the yacht before they cast off on their next adventure. Will looked down onto his watch, biting the insides of his cheeks as he realized that Nigel has only been gone for ten minutes.

 

It’s okay, You’re okay. You’ve been working towards this. Twenty minutes is your limit. A bit of nervousness is normal. You can handle it.’ He calmly repeated to himself, but even then the luxurious yacht still felt so terribly suffocating. Will rubbed his face and rushed down onto the pier, pacing up and down to occupy himself while he waited for Nigel’s return. Kefir’s presence helped a tad, but the gnawing sense of terror remained, barely contained, whispering lies into his ears.

 

‘He’s dead. Ran over by a truck. Stabbed by a mugger. Tripped and hit his head. Dead. Dead. Dead.’

 

Then just as his chest began to tighten, Will saw Nigel’s imposing figure striding down the cobblestone road of the Seine. Without even with a shirt, Will jogged over and threw himself into Nigel’s arm. The man caught him, not even missing a single step, and continued on walking, carrying his husband as he latched onto him with practiced ease.

 

“What did I say about going out without your shirt, hm?” he asked between Will’s kisses, always gentle, but his words held an air of displeasure to them.

 

Will just groaned, going limp in Nigel’s arm. “Everybody works on their boats bare chested Nigel. It’s so hot out today.”

 

Nigel gave unsatisfied hum, depositing the basket of wine, bread and cheese onto the table of their boat before throwing Will haphazardly onto the couch. “Shirt on. I don’t like seeing random cunts ogling at you like that.”

 

Something about Nigel’s voice made Will feel small and stupid. He does not take that kind of treatment lightly.

 

With a mocking smile on his face, Will stood up and dropped his pants, throwing the light capri pants off the side of the boat. “You little-“ Nigel stopped himself before he could curse his husband out. Will just gave a noncommittal shrug and began going about his business on the yacht.

 

A crowd of partying kids a few boats down hooted at hollered, cat calling for Will in a way that makes Nigel blood boiled. Will sighed and feign a yawn, stretching his arms out and turning slowly so the crowd can get a good look at his body. He finishes by staring at his husband challengingly, not even sparing a glance at the appreciative crowd forming across the seine and on various yacht.

 

“You’re playing a dangerous game blue eyes.” Nigel rumbled, quickly stepping between his husband and the gaggle of onlookers. He heard the sound of a camera, and that made him snap.

 

He pushed Will indoors, hand harsh and trembling with contained fury. “You trying to piss me off darling? Force me to put my fucking hands on you? Make me look like the bad guy?” A heavy step fell between Will’s legs, pushing him back until the knob of the steering wheel dug right into his spine.

 

“Oh I can be the bad guy.” The voice sent a dangerous shiver down Will’s spine. “I’ll slaughter every one of those fuckers right there and rub your goddamn face in their blood like a misbehaving little bitch.” Will whimpered as Nigel’s hand struck out and caught his jaw. Even after last night’s torture, his cock already hard, but Nigel wasn’t interested in giving him pleasure.

 

“Keep your fucking shirt on.” He said, icy cold, but they instantly melted at the sound of Will’s moan.

 

“But Nigel,” Will sighed, dragging his hand up Nigel’s chest , tracing the hard divide between his abs, relishing the feel of a monster ready to explode into slaughter for his benefit.

 

“Baby….” Teasing hands found Nigel’s tightly clenched jaw, caressing, so loving, so beautifully dangerous.

 

“Everyone else can look-“ He bit his lips as he caressed down his neck, taking Nigel’s clutched hand and cupping it against his cock. “-but only you can touch.” He put his arms out behind his head, defenseless, openly grinding down onto the one point of contact between them. “You know that, right baby?”

 

Nigel just grabbed the man and pushed him roughly against the steering wheel, spreading his cheeks so he could tongue fuck his abused ass, leaking with his cum and stretched sore. “Oh, Nigel…” Will sighed, holding onto the wheel, oblivious of the doubt creeping into his lover’s eyes.

 

**

 

 “Pick one.” Nigel urged, and Will just laughed at the absurdity of simply ‘picking’ a boat. They were in Capri, standing in one of the world’s most exclusive marina and Will knew that none of luxury cruisers docked here were for sale.

 

Still, Nigel caught the coy look he threw over to a gleaming 100 footer, the more modestly sized one in the docks. “That one darling?” Nigel asked, only to be answered with a glower.

 

“Don’t you dare.” Will shook his head, but Nigel was already walking toward the staff hanging around the stern. A quick discussion was held, and Nigel was invited up to the office to speak with the manager. He just shook his head, rejecting the offer for a chitchat, and pulled out his checkbook.

 

Before Will’s anxiety could rear his head up, Nigel was already strolling back, a key in hand, with an invitation to dinner with the company CEO that once owned the boat.

 

“Please tell me you only rented that.” Will paled even further when Nigel shook his head “You didn’t. You can’t.”

 

“You bet your fucking ass I did.“ Nigel grinned and kissed the man. “Now the world is your stream darling.” He boldly exclaimed, and Will’s eyes shimmering brighter than the color of the Mediterranean sea.

 

They were so happy. So terribly happy.

 

**

 

The Paris air agreed with them both. Nigel himself was always at home in big cities, and Will blossomed there, enjoying both the dichotomy of beautiful city and the ugliness of the humanity that inhabits it. They arrived just at the end of the summer, a busy time filled with tourist whose gargantuan presence numbed Will’s empathy. It gave him the space to be brave, to try and unlearn the crippling dependency that has chained him onto Nigel’s side.

 

To his credit, Nigel was supportive at his husband’s recovery. Never once did he leave Will out of malice or spite. He stuck by his side until he was sent way, and even then he’ll come back, missing Will as much as the man misses him. They were always together, working on ways to be both healthy and apart, yet deep inside, they desired nothing but the complete amalgamation of their body and soul.

 

They did every silly tourist traps that most first time visitors does, like climbing the Eiffel Tower, putting on locks on the famous Ponts de Art bridge. They even toured the Louvre, though toured seemed like the wrong word to describe the mischief they got into.  All Will did was drag them from one nude sculpture to another, until Nigel lost it and fucked him in front of the Mona Lisa, a feat achieved by a substantial bribe and the darkness of the museum after hours.

 

There were many days like those, moments where even the most jaded cynic would swoon with envy and hoped for love. Unfortunately, today was not that day.

 

**

 

“You weren’t in your bed this morning.” Nigel said, his tone casual and conversational, but Will recognized the hidden inflection of his husband voice, and frankly, he quite resented that.

 

“Fuck off Nigel. I just took Kefir down to pee. You may have bought the city’s most expensive suite, but I’m not going to let our dog piss all over the damned carpet.” Will intentionally brushed past Nigel’s shoulder with a thump, feeling too much like Nigel, like he was eager to start a fight.

 

“Careful now.” Nigel grabbed Will’s hand and stopped him in his track. “That’s no way to speak to your beloved husband, darling.”

 

“Neither is suggesting infidelity, dear.” The last words were all but spat out, dismally cold.

 

“God this fucking mouth.” Nigel chuckled, irritated and aroused by the fire of their first real fight as husbands. “I swear darling. If you’re not so pretty I’ll-“

 

“You’ll what?” Will hissed, unamused by the threats that came from the lips who pressed worship into his skin. “Stapled them close? Cut off my tongue? Oh, but if you do, then how are you going to fuck it then?” He sneered and wrenched himself away, pushing Nigel on his solid chest in the process.

 

The man didn’t even move an inch, and that pissed Will off even more. “Is it not enough that I’m constantly tethered to you?” He shouted. “Cant I spend ten goddamn minute walking my dog without being fucking questioned like I’m some kind of-“

 

“-Whore?” Nigel cut off, no longer amused by this little spat. “-Because that’s how you’ve been behaving darling. Dancing with men when I’m not there, showing off your body even after I ask you to cover the fuck up.” Those memories singed their happy memories and lit his temper anew.

 

“Is that really how you see me?” Will stepped back, feeling stupid for trusting Nigel’s kindness in the first place. He reached down into his pocket and threw the yacht key at him. It hit Nigel’s chest and fell despondently onto the ground. “Take it. This is why you think you own me, right? You think you’ve bought me with a fancy honeymoon and a shiny new boat.” Will laughed. “-Give me a chance to make you feel as happy as I am right now- Bullshit.

 

“Darling.” Nigel shook his head, picking up the keys and setting it back into Will’s hand. It was attached to a melamine keychain of the Eiffel towel, a tacky little thing he bought that Will accepted with as much enthusiasm as he accepted the key attached to it. Nigel suddenly regret even questioning his husband loyalty at all. “Lets just… simmer down, okay? We’re both overreacting here.”

 

“Am I though?” The man scoffed. “Ten minutes Nigel. Ten fucking minutes to take out the dog. To find some goddamn solitude before I’m reduced to a sobbing mess without you. Ten fucking minutes when I’m not your goddamn cocksleeve. Where I can pretend to be normal.”

 

“Normal?” The word rouse Nigel’s anger like nothing else ever could. He stepped toward the man, chest to chest, the other as stubborn and unmoving as he was.

 

“Understand this Will. We are not normal, but we try our best, don’t we? I certainly do. So when you come to me, all pissy about wanting to be normal-“ the man spat out the words like it was the poison creeping up in their relationship. It makes me wonder why you even married me in the first place.”

 

Will just stood quietly, quivering with disbelief. “Because I love you,” he said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I love you so much Nigel that It hurts to be without you. So why cant you trust me to be loyal to you?”

 

Trust. The word made Nigel mouth feels dry and his heart ten time smaller than what it already was. “Darling…” he whispered, reaching to hold his beloved with a gentle apologetic hand.

 

Will just shook his head and stepped away. He saw the tattoos on his husband’s arm, the gun clips haphazardly thrown aside on a coffee table, the stack of unlaundered Euros. ‘pocket change’ as Nigel calls it. He chuckled in defeat.

 

Nigel was right. None of this was ever going to be normal.

 

“Fine Nigel.” Will whispered, shaken by the knowledge that the man he trusted with his life does not return his trust. “Fine.”

 

**

 

It’s a strange thing to still share space after such a terrible argument. Will wanted to leave, he insisted it even, but Nigel begged for him to stay. “Please darling. I don’t want to see you suffer. I can’t. ” So they sat together in the massive hotel suite, still within eyesight of each other, but no longer connected like they usually were.

 

It was empty and lonely, but neither man found it unbearable enough to put their pride aside and apologize.

 

Sometimes Will felt this unbearable need to explode and shout at the man. Sometimes he felt the need to stab him. The intensity of those cravings were only matched by the agonizing need to run over to him and hate fuck their problems away.

 

He did neither. Instead, Will just sat quietly near a window, a book on one hand and Kefir in his lap, a princeling in a war-torn kingdom of his master’s matrimony, obliviously happy like most princes usually are.

 

After lunch was served and put away, a knock came by the door, forcing the two men to meet each other’s eyes in alarm. Neither ordered anything and the bill was directly charged to their room, so there was no reason for any uninvited guests.

 

Nigel rose up and answered the door, his gun cocked and ready behind his back. As the door swung open, Will flicked his knife and came close to his husband, ready to back him up. He was too acutely aware of the multitude of scenarios where an unexpected attack might occur.

 

Instead of a violent struggle that they expected, a cheerful bellboy came in, carrying a box. He set it down onto the table and passed an envelope to Nigel. “To the happy couple.” He said in French. Nigel tipped him and quickly closed the door, tearing open the note as soon as he did.

 

“It’s from Darko.”

 

“Christ.” Will let out of the breath he’s been holding in. “A wedding gift?”

 

Nigel nodded, rubbing the tension away from his forehead. “Do… do you want to open it together?” He asked tentatively. “It is addressed to us both.”

 

Will considered rejecting the offer, but his curiosity won out. Like a tentative deer inching towards a stream, Will padded over, taking care not to touch Nigel despite desperately wanting to. He pulled off the lid and dropped it onto the floor, lips set into a hard line when he surveyed the contents inside.

 

Two bottles of pink Dom Perignon was displayed proudly on their stand, flanking a set of lacy lingerie displayed on decorative tissue papers. The note inside said, “Petrece, poponari.”

 

Will just blinked, all of his anger toward Nigel forgotten and replaced by a new sort of irritation towards a Romanian too far away to face his wrath.

 

“That fucking pizda.” Nigel spat, grabbing the lingerie and throwing it into an empty trashcan “The worst fucking timing I swear.”

 

Will didn’t say anything. He just slowly ripped the note into tiny little confetti and threw them up into the air. Kefir rushed and snapped at the pieces, thinking they might be insects to hunt and eat. “Come on boy, lets go back.” He said, not even acknowledging Nigel in his retreat.

 

Before Will can turn around Nigel stepped in front of his path, hands itching to touch his husband, but hating the idea of starting another argument at the same time.

 

“Look. Will. What you said about being a cocksleeve and a… whore.” Nigel winced. “That’s not how I see you at all. You’re my husband, and I love you more than just your body.” He reached towards Will’s hand, but stopped midway. He treated the man like some kind of object. Touching him now just seemed… crass. “We don’t have to have sex.” Came the reluctant concession, shocking even to Will’s ear. “Not until you want to, at least.”

 

Will just stared at him, distant and distrustful. Nigel just sighed, wishing he could find the right word to convey his words.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you. I’m trying darling, I really am. I’m just… fucked up I guess.” Only a blank stare answered his vulnerable confession, forcing another defeated sight out from the man’s chest. “I’m going to smoke out in the balcony. And get drunk.” He quickly snatched the two pink bottles. “Feel free to join me, okay?”

 

Will looked away and nodded and moved passed him.

 

Nigel chest ached, feeling as empty as Will’s dead expression. So he did what he does best, he smoked and drinked to try and fill up the void.

 

 

 

**

 

“Nigel…?”

 

“Yeah?” The man quickly stood up, knocking the half empty bottle of champagne in the process. He wasn’t nearly as drunk as he wanted to be, but when his darling called, he will gladly answer. “Joining me after all?” he asked hopefully, opening the balcony door to tentatively welcome his husband.

 

Will stood near the window, hair dripping with water and wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe. “I want to drink with you…” he slowly unwound the sash that held them close. “… but I don’t think you would like me going outside like this.” He pulled the robe off, letting it fall around his feet in a pool of fabric.

 

“God, Will. I-“

 

“Do you like it?”

 

Nigel swallowed and nodded, stepping inside and closing the curtains so only he could savor the delicious sight.

 

Hungry eyes raked over Will’s figure, wrapped in the lingerie Nigel had threw away just moments ago. Sheer white stockings hugged slender legs, making them look long and delicate and absolutely divine. They were held up by lacy gather belts that stood stark against the healthy tan of Will’s golden skin. His panties-

 

“Fuck darling. You’re wearing goddamn paties.” Nigel moaned, salivating at the sight of the small pouch struggling to contain the bulge of Will’s quickly hardening cock. The blushed at the ravenous exclamation, a rush of power washing over him as he remembered just easily he could send this powerful man into a mindless haze of lust.

 

Will stepped close, walking on the balls of his feet, simulating the elegant slope of a high heel without the awkwardness of wearing one. His hips swayed seductively, and Nigel found himself stepping back further and further, adding more distance so he could keep watching the hypnotic way of Will’s hips.

 

“You’re right Nigel, we are not normal.” Will said, his face flushing red. “And I was being unfair to you, even after you tried to make peace. You’ve stayed with me all these times, even when you’re jealous and angry at me.”

 

“Of course darling…” Nigel coughed; trying to concentrate on his words, only to be distracted by the erotic display before him. “But can you blame me for being jealous? God. Just look at yourself Darling.” The man licked his lips, always hungry for his beloved’s touch.

 

“Do you still doubt that I will stay?” Will asked, placing a hand on Nigel’s chest. “That I will be loyal, even without your hands around me?” He leaned close, pushing his chest against the flowering tattoos on Nigel’s biceps, the miniscule swell of his pectorals accentuated by his lacy chest harness. “What a terrible way to treat your bride.” He whispered, the word sending a jolt of pleasure straight down into Nigel’s cock. He was rock hard, and Will liked him that way.

 

“You think I would do this just for anyone?” The man continued, pulling away so he could tug on the strings of his panties. “You think I would put this on for you if I don’t love my husband?” slender fingers ran alongside the inside of the fabric, showing flashes of a bare groin.

 

“Fuck.” Nigel cursed, feeling like he’s in one of Darko’s strip club, forbidden to touch unless invited to. “Did you shave there too darling?”

 

A shy nod answered the question hissed out between his teeth. “Feel it.” Will urged, taking one of Nigel’s hand and hooking one rough finger underneath the fabric, groaning when Nigel caressed the unbelievably soft spot with maddening gentleness. Everything felt ten times more sensitive now that he shaved, dormant nerves coming alive as they felt he possessive graze of Nigel’s hand.

 

“So smooth.” Nigel praised, wishing he was lucid enough to think of better words to reward his darling with.

 

Will sighed and turned around, showing devilish swell of his ample ass in those angelic white panties “Jesus Christ darling.” Nigel sputtered; rubbing his own cock for relief as he watched Will walk away from him. He looked absolutely fuckable.

 

He turned on his toes, as graceful as any dancer, and fell onto a plush seat, legs crossed, hiding the titillating sights, a teasing smile propped on his pouty lips.

 

“I thought we’re going to drink.” He chuckled, caressing his stocking covered legs with maddening ease. “You should get us some glasses then.”

 

For a moment Nigel couldn’t breathe, completely enraptured by Will’s seduction. It wasn’t until a playful giggle shook him awake from his reverie, and he grabbed the bottle and pushed it straight against Will’s lips. A menacing growl rose up from between his lips.

 

“Drink.” He ordered heatedly, moaning as Will’s lips wrapped around the opening of the bottle, before sucking it deeper and deeper before releasing it with a pop. Thousands of dollar worth of champagne spilled out of the bottle and onto his body.

 

Nigel wouldn’t dream of wasting them all.

 

Eager lips chased after the spilled wine, lapping up very drop before spilling even more of it over Will’s deliciously smooth skin.

 

“Keep your pretty legs close darling.” Nigel whispered, pouring more champagne onto his husband mouth, letting it trickle down his neck and chest, until it gathered lewdly between his thighs.

 

Will moaned pressed his legs together, creating a cup on his groin where the liquid could collect. The man emptied the bottle and discarded it, making his way down Will’s tender body to taste every last drop. He licked up the champagne from the divots on his hips, gulping mouthfuls of it past his abs, sucking up alcohol soaked lace on the way down to his quivering thighs.

 

“Gorgeous.” He gushed, appreciating the sight of Will’s erect cock swimming in a channel of champagne. His panties were completely soaked, dripping onto the marble floor of the hotel.

 

“Nigel.” Will whined, feeling the small bites of effervescent bubbles against his sensitive sex.

 

“Hush darling.” Nigel answered, eyes trained on the debauched sight. “Let me enjoy my drink.” He mumbled, before slurping up all the champagne from his groin, licking every last drop from his balls and shaft, yet giving Will no relief.

 

When not even a drop of it, Will parted his legs and untied his panties, flinging the sodden thing away so he could spread himself for Nigel to devour.

 

“Please.” He mumbled, but Nigel ignored him, choosing to chase after every wayward droplet instead of giving him what he needed. Devilish tongue licked past the back of his knees, up the curve of his ass, dipping between firm mounds and into a tight pulsing hole, stretched and puffy, ready to be fucked.

 

“Baby please.” Will sobbed, and this time Nigel complied.

 

**

 

They were awakened at midnight by a knock and an overly cheery shout of “Room service!” Will instantly shot up, reaching for his knife. “Relax darling.” Nigel pulled his beloved husband back down. “I’ll go get it. It’s probably just one of Darko’s gifts.”

 

Will released his tight hold on the knife and nodded, letting himself fall back onto his pillows, still warm and fuzzy after Nigel’s thorough love making. “You’re the best baby.” He whispered. Nigel kissed him, reminding himself to send Darko a thank you note for his spectacular taste in lingerie.

 

He answered the door with his gun still cocked, though he instantly relaxed when the same bellboy greeted him at the door. He rolled in a table full of food with a box in the middle, similar to what he just delivered this afternoon. “To the happy couple.” He said with the same flourish, and Nigel tipped him handsomely.

 

“Darling, Darko sent us food.” The man called, looking around for another offensive note to hide from his darling’s wrath. “And another box too. Come open it with me.”

 

Will shambled in with only the bathrobe, his body still damp and sticky from semen and champagne. He leaned onto Nigel and kissed the man, reaching to pluck a grape from the plethora of food before them. Nigel nudged him towards the box. “Ready to open your gift?”

 

“Our gift.” Will corrected, reaching over to open the lid with a smile.

 

A familiar scent of blood wafted up into the air and both men stilled, bodies instantly tensed for battle.

 

Inside was a human heart, still warm, with a knife stabbing it through the middle.

 

“What the fuck.” Nigel exclaimed, pulling Will away from the box. The man just calmly stepped out his Nigel’s arms, leaning closer to observe the organ. For a moment Will just stared down at it impassively, ready to dismiss it as a message from one of Nigel’s rivals. Suddenly something clicked.

 

“It’s him.” Will quietly said, eyes shinning bright with an unmistakable hunger. “He’s here.”

Chapter Text

Hannibal’s appearance made Will and Nigel pause their honeymoon. Nigel wanted them to continue on, but Will wanted to find Hannibal.

 

Cuts to Hannibal and Gabi negotiation “You don’t have to splurge so much for me.” Conversation.

 

Will tried to bait Hannibal, fails, and Kefir is killed as a warning.

 

Ends with Hannibal meeting Will and Nigel, with the dog dead. pause and

 

They tortured the bellboy and Nigel felt a bit sorry, but Will was relentless.

 

Will said he wanted to find Hannibal to kill him. Nigel had trouble trusting him. He leveled a look at him. “This is your chance to show me you trust me, husband.” He said, and Nigel agreed.

 

***

 

Blood turned the ritzy suite into a veritable killing ground, covering the marble floor in a slick and tacky film, tactile sensations enough to send Will into a savagely clinical mind state. Will felt strong, in control, like he finally had a purpose other than being some terribly behaved trophy wife.

 

“That’s because you’re a hound my dear. You’re always better on the hunt.” Said the hazy specter of Hannibal’s memory. The sprite no longer looked like the doctor, only an amalgamation of shadows and light, a toothless tiresome thing that paled when compared to the genuine article.

 

Hannibal no longer resides in his mind. The man was here, and Will had no more need for some shoddy imitation.

 

A whimper brought Will out from his musings. The bellboy sat bound in the middle of the shower, his legs broken in a dozen different places, pleading for mercy. He stepped away from the man and tilted his head, examining his handiwork with a huff of displeasure.

 

Two hours of torture and not a single confirmation about Hannibal, yet everything about his gift screams of the Doctor’s taste and presence. The exquisitely carved knife, probably an antique, the tastefully arranged platter of food and dessert, the wine chilling in the bucket, Batard Montrachet. ‘Oh he’s good.’ Will licked his lips, feeling that delicious sense of frustration that he always felt when dealing with the Ripper.

 

“Are you done gorgeous?” Nigel asked, entering the large shower cube to embrace his blood soaked husband. Will hummed absentmindedly and passed him his knife.

 

“Take over for me.” He said, cracking his neck to release the tension held on his shoulders.

 

Never one to deny his darling, Nigel kissed him and turned his attention to the unconscious man, his left leg tied off in a tourniquet, practically mincemeat after Will’s ministration.

 

The man smiled bitterly. His husband was truly an avatar of wrath.

 

Hoping to avoid his ire, Nigel slapped the bound man awake with the back of his hand. “Je suis désolé, garcon.” He murmured, pitying the poor fucker. He didn’t do anything wrong. The boy was just unfortunate enough to be used by Hannibal Lecter.

 

From what he heard of the man, unfortunate is an apt enough word to describe the fates of all who met him.

 

Nigel will not be one of them.

 

He’s not some naïve chump the doctor could simply charm and deceive, nor was a he a weakling who balk at the sight of blood and carnage. Violence was his language, one that he does not dress up in metaphors and shadows. When Hannibal comes, Nigel will be ready. He was stronger, younger, and a hell of a lot more dangerous than some pansy with a pantsuit.

 

“Lets start again, shall we?” He grinned, flicking open Will’s bloody knife and bringing down to his other leg. “Tell me about the man who approached you.”

 

**

 

An hour must’ve passed and the bellboy passed out again. Nigel blinked, frustrated that he didn’t have any new information to bring to his husband. Nigel wanted to please the man so badly, especially when it comes to Hannibal Lecter. ‘If I could bring you his head then I would darling. Even if it meant you’ll be cross with me for stealing your kill. You deserve an offering, love, and only I am allowed to give such things to you.’

 

He looked up from the gore to find Will standing in front of the table, still bloody and naked, transfixed by the stabbed heart. He idly nibbled on some macaroon, eyes distant as he admired the veins and arteries that ran through the organ. There was no fear or anger in them. The man was a perfect picture of tranquility, amusing himself with a sight that would render others unconscious.

 

“Stop eating them darling,” Nigel called, stopping just shy of the door to contained the mess. “He could’ve put something in there.”

 

Will didn’t even turn around to acknowledge him. He just laughed as if it was the most ridiculous thing he has ever heard.

 

“He wouldn’t do that to the food.” Will explained, his voice dripping heavily with certainty. It irked Nigel to no ends.

 

He wasn’t exactly sure what bothered him and why, but Nigel was pissed. Perhaps it’s the gentle way Will said those words, or the fond glimmer in his eyes. Maybe its the way he smiled, as if he was laughing to an inside joke Nigel wasn’t privy to.

 

It’s maddening to know that the life Will left had found him here, that even after their marriage, his intimate connection with Hannibal remained strong and whole. Nigel hated knowing that there is still a side to the man he still have no conquered, especially since Will had completely and utterly owned him.

 

He told you he still loved him. You fucking know this already.’ Nigel snapped to himself, hoping to quell his jealousy with some old fashioned common sense. Yet the sight of Will eating Hannibal’s food hurt him like a knife to the heart.

 

I should be the only who provide for him. He’s my husband, my heart. Mine. Mine. Mine.”

 

Suddenly Nigel lost all interest in torture and interrogation. Just to spite his distracted husband, Nigel strode up to the half-dead man and snapped his neck, ending his misery and any chance for further information.

 

The action caught Will’s attention. “Why did you kill him?” He frowned, looking like he might kill Nigel instead. “He could’ve had more information to tell.”

 

“He’s a damned bellboy. His job is not to ask question, only to take shit and deliver them to fucking places. If he said doesn’t know anything then he doesn’t know any fucking thing.” Nigel spat, throwing the knife to impale it into the center of the boy’s lifeless chest. ”He doesn’t have any reason to lie under duress.” The man quietly added.

 

Blue eyes narrowed into slits, unhappy at Nigel’s disobedience. With a great big sigh Will stepped back into the gory scene, brushing past Nigel with more force than necessary. He pulled out his knife and twirled it in his hand, pinning Nigel with an unhappy look.

 

“Once the sun sets, we’ll take the boat and throw the body out into the sea.” He said, walking up to Nigel to wipe his blade clean in his shirt. Nigel frowned, unhappy at the obvious sign of disrespect, but he held his ground, unwilling to give Will the satisfaction of moving away.

 

Slowly the sharp edge of the blade traced up his shirt, cutting off mother of pearl buttons and sending them clattering onto the floor. They stopped at Nigel’s jugular, on the same place where Nigel had bit him. The skin was unmarred, and Will considered carving his husband up for his tedious burst of jealousies.

 

“What?” Nigel barked. Icy cold blue eyes flickered up at him, merciless and calculating.

 

Out of nowhere Will’s eyes fluttered close before opening again. This time they were filled with such warmth that it made Nigel’s stomach twist and flutter in a hundred different ways. “Darling.” Nigel said, his belligerent voice melted into soft murmurs, a beast tamed by a flicker of Will’s eyes.

 

I’m fucked.’ Nigel swallowed hard. Infatuation. Obsession. None of these could even come close to explain his overwhelming need for the man’s love.

 

Will just shook his head and pulled away, leaving Nigel slightly confused and disappointed by the lack of punishment or reward. He returned to the table and stabbed into the overflowing fruit basket, raising a red pear and twirling it in his hand.

 

“Nigel.” Will drawled. “Are you going to be a good boy for me?”

 

For a moment all that Nigel could do was breathe and bit down his moan. He rushed out to meet his husband, pressing the front of his still clothed body against Will’s naked back.

 

“Darling…” He whispered, voice low with arousal. “Aren’t I always good to you?”

 

Will bit down onto the pear and turned to look at him, one eyebrow cocked provocatively. Pouty red lips closed and around the ripe fruit, biting down sensually as juices dripped onto his chin. Instinctively Nigel leaned in and licked it up, cock standing in attention as his tongue explode with the maddening mix of sweet juice, metallic blood, and fragrant sweat.

 

However, just before he could reach Will’s lips, the man stopped him, pushing the impaled fruit against his head.

 

“No. Bad dogs doesn’t get kisses.” Will taunted. The knife dug deeper into the fruit with a slick crunch, stilling Nigel’s movement.

 

“Please.” Nigel all but whined, consumed by an intense need for Will’s approval. “Let me kiss you.” He pleaded, licking his lips in anticipation. His hips rutted forwards, rubbing his hardened cock against Will’s ass like a stud caught downwind of a bitch’s heat.

 

Will looked at him with such blatant disregard that it made Nigel whimper out loud. “Darling pl-“

 

“No begging.” He said, pushing the knife deeper into the fruit, forcing Nigel to still his body. “Down boy.” He ordered, and Nigel complied, not because he could feel the sharp sting of the blade against his forehead, but because it feels good to obey, to submit his body and his life onto Will’s delightfully cruel hand.

 

He fell onto his knees and was faced with Will’s beautifully circumcised cock, half erect and reddening just around the tip. Nigel swallowed hard and looked up to his husband, pleading with his eyes now that he was forbidden to use his voice. He opened his mouth, tongue out so he could placate the man’s displeasure by pleasuring his cock.

 

“Down.” Will growled again, and Nigel instantly sat back on his haunches with a whine, licking his chops as Will stroked and tug his cock to full attention.

 

Will abandoned the knife and grabbed Nigel’s hair, tilting his head up so he could let his heavy cock fall across his face with a slap.

 

Nigel growled, humiliated by the act yet aroused beyond belief. He wanted to suck so bad. He wanted to make his darling feel good, to show him just how good he could be, but Will told him to stay down, so he’ll listen.

 

His dignity, his pride, they didn’t matter. Only Will’s pleasure does, and right now it brings him pleasure to have him on his knees and degraded like this

 

“See?” The man sighed, smearing precum all over Nigel’s sharp cheekbones. “You can follow orders if you really want to.” A thumb hooked itself into Nigel’s mouth, forcing drool to soak down his chin and chest. “Just need a firm hand to keep you in line, isn’t that right boy?”

 

The man closed his eyes and nodded, head humming with a pleasant sort of mindlessness as he relinquished his control. Sharp nails dug into the sides of his thighs as Nigel forced himself to stay still. His first instinct is to grab, to subdue and return the humiliation with an act of domination of his own, but Nigel fought it with everything he had in him. Will was using his face for his pleasure and he will stay still and be a good boy for him.

 

The man was beautiful like this, confidently controlling Nigel with the power that he always had over him. Out there in the world Nigel was the epitome of dominance and masculinity, but down here he is just Will’s, and it feel good to be his. On his knees he didn’t have to think about Hannibal. He just needed to obey, and in submission he found peace, free to let go of his insecurities and fears.

 

Will completed him.

 

“Hm?” Will sighed, rough hand cupping Nigel’s jaw tenderly. “What is it baby?” He murmured aid, wiping the tears that Nigel didn’t know he shed.

 

“Fucking hell… I-“ He sobbed, looking up at his husband, broken by the smallest hint of kindness. “I fucking love you so much Will. Please don’t leave me.”

 

“Oh baby.” Will hummed, rubbing his spit soaked thumb all over Nigel’s lips. “Is that what you’re scared of?” Sharp fangs snarled before Nigel looked away, slowly admitting his shame by slowly nodding. “Silly boy. Open your mouth.” He whispered, nudging his cockhead between Nigel’s lips.

 

Eager to escape from those poisonous thoughts, Nigel took Will’s cock with a relish, humming in gratitude as the salty taste of Will’s precum spread across his tongue. He sucked gently, pleasuring his husband in the way that he loved, taking pride as sighs and groans escaped the pretty lips that called him a bad dog.

 

Will’s hip canted into the soft wet heat of Nigel’s mouth, pushing deeper into his flesh, nudging at the hard curve of his throat. “That’s it. Take it boy.” He sighed, holding Nigel’s head still as he throat fucked his hungry mouth.

 

His throat hurts. He keeps sputtering and gagging around Will’s shaft. His nasal passage burned from the backwash of spit and precum pushed in between the rough fucking. And yet Nigel was happy, completely blissed out as Will used him like a two dollar whore. Nothing else in the world matter except Will’s pleasure, and the delicious way his cock slide in and out of his throat accentuates that.

 

I would die for you. I would kill for you. Use me. I am yours.’

 

Suddenly Will raised himself up to his toes, angled his cock down Nigel’s throat, and held it there. He wrapped a strong leg behind Nigel’s head and squeezed, holding him there as the mans struggled to breathe. 

 

Nigel’s strong hands immediately grasped Will’s ass, but not to claw him off or break free like his instinct demanded. Nigel pushed the man deeper, tilting his head up so he could completely fill him to the brim. ‘More. More. More.’

 

Nigel could break free anytime he wanted. He could flip their position over and fuck Will for the offense, but he doesn’t want to. He’s happy here, suffocated by his beloved’s cock, head filled with the musky scent of his manhood, empty and obedient.

 

Just as he though he was going to faint, Will let go and pushed him flat onto the floor. Bloody feet planted firmly on his heaving chest. Nigel was completely wrecked. His shirt was soaked with slobber, hair mussed from being used as a fuck handle, and his face streaked with tears.

 

Will descended upon him like a shadow, completely engulfing him with his small tantalizing body. Nigel whimpered as his cock was released from the confines of his pants, completely sensitive and ready to blow.

 

“So you think I’m going to choose him over my own husband? Is that it?” Will asked gently, stroking his cock in a lose grip.

 

Nigel arched his back off the floor, unable to control his body from bucking into the contact. “I don’t know.“ He shook his head, unable to comprehend his own thought. “Please Will.”

 

“Bad dog.” Will snapped, slapping Nigel’s face with an open palm. The impact jarred the man, stealing the breath away from his lungs.

 

“Will-“ another slap landed on the opposite cheek. It didn’t hurt at all, but the shame of it made Nigel tears resume anew.

 

He was a bad dog. His darling had to punish him.

 

“We’ve gone through this baby.” Will cooed at the sight of the strong man openly crying. He rolls his smaller body against Nigel’s much broader one, kissing his swollen, sputtering lips. “You shouldn’t doubt your husband.”

 

“…Sorry.” The man said through hitched breath, forcing himself to shut the fuck up and focus on the man.

 

“Do you really think I’m going to choose him over my husband?” he repeated the question again. Nigel didn’t answer. He couldn’t. He was destroyed from the thought of disappointing his beloved. “Don’t you trust me baby?”

 

“I do.” Nigel exclaimed. “I trust you with my fucking life.” His eyes were wide with a familiar madness, but there was something else behind the insanity of his love.

 

Surrender.

 

The answer brought a genuine smile to Will’s face, one that uncoiled the heavy tension between them as he pressed a chaste kiss onto Nigel’s lips.

 

“Then what does my big strong boy have to be scared about?” he murmured against him, reaching behind to steady Nigel’s large shaft before sinking his still slick ass into it with a groan.

 

Nigel gasped and clutched Will’s hips, holding him steady, but the man was voracious, sinking deeper until they were conjoined, groin to ass.

 

“I would never touch him like I touch you.” Will sighed, grinding the girthy cock up against his prostate. Nigel watched with his jaw parted in amazement, engrossed at the delicious sight of Will sensually rocking and swaying above him.

 

The man used him like he was his own toy, heedless of Nigel’s pleasure as he barely moved and forced the long cock to milk his swollen prostate. Will sighed and peered down at Nigel, nails raking up and down his biceps, scratching the flowers that bore his name.

 

“He could never fuck me as good as my baby does, can he?” he purred.

 

“No he can’t. He fucking cant.” Nigel growled, hips bucking up as his hand turned to claw, digging into his palm.  “I’ll fucking kill him.  That cunt. That fucking cunt I-“ Before Nigel could lose himself is a haze of bloodlust and anger, Will leaned down and kissed him, all slow and tender. Nigel’s cock twitched, throbbing in the same rhythm of his fluttering heart.

 

“Then show me how just how good my baby can fuck me.”

 

With those words Nigel surged forward, toppling Will over and claiming a more familiar position above them. Bruising hands grabbed into his hips and began slowly thrusting, rubbing his engorged shaft through Will’s rippling rectum.

 

“Yes baby, harder.” Will moaned, and Nigel lost all control, pounding into the man with abandon, aiming for that spot that he knew would send his darling into a crying mess. Before long, Will’s cock tensed and his balls rose up. “You’re gonna make me cum.” Will groaned, fisting his cock as Nigel roared and continued his onslaught.

 

Will came between his stroking fist, ass squeezing Nigel so tight that his hips stuttered to a stop. Nigel didn’t continue. He wanted to fuck Will through the orgasm so he could reach his, but right now it’s not about him. It’s Will. Everything is about him. So he focused on his breathing and bit his tongue, red eyes waiting patiently for Will’s instruction.

 

Blue eyes slowly opened and brightened at sight of his subtle obedience. “Good boy.” He said, heart bursting with love for the man. “You are my good boy, aren’t you?” He reached up and pulled him down, cradling him close as he petted his sweat soaked hair. Nigel shivered and relaxed into his arms, making small happy noises as he was rewarded with the affection that he craved.

 

He didn’t need to cum. Will’s hazy affection in his afterglow was better than coming into a warm wet hole.

 

“Good boy.” Will repeated, and Nigel wondered if his husband would someday collar him. He truly hoped he does. A tamed dog must be collared, and he was irrevocably owned.

 

**

 

Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at the Plaza Athénée was a delightful dinner experience after the slew of mediocre French bistro that littered Paris’s tourist filled streets. It’s many inventive contemporary dishes reminded Hannibal just how much he missed cooking, as well as experiencing the finer things in life. ‘Lying low’ for survival was fine and dandy, but one should never let their standard slide so low that it matches their transient status.

 

“Ciflorette strawberries from Pernes-les-Fontaines, frosted pine spines, and millasson cake.” The maître D’ announced, placing the colorfully complicated dessert in front of him. “Bon appetit.”

 

Hannibal inclined his head in thanks, memorizing the wonderful presentation of the dish so he could someday recreate it for Will.

 

“You don’t have to do all of these things for me.” A small timid voice called out from across their table. Hannibal turned to Gabi, peeved that she interrupted his peace but showing none of the ire he felt. “I don’t need to be wined and dined Dr. Lecter. I will still help you with your plan.”

 

“Gabi,” Hannibal smiled and sighed ever so slightly, still pleasant and polite, though his tone held none of the warmness and familiarity that he would show to anyone else. “Your presence is inconsequential to my quality of life. Without you I will still stay in luxurious hotels, eat splendid food, and partake in expensive wine.” He raised his glass to underline his words. “Though your reassurance is quite appreciated.”

 

Red bloomed onto her cheeks and up into her scarf covered hairline. As far as accomplices goes, Gabi was inoffensive enough, though Hannibal he did enjoy putting her in her place. After all, she’s no better than the meat they just consumed.

 

Other than Will, everyone else in the world was fair game and he can’t wait to be reunited with the man so they may partake in the worthy flesh of others.

 

After his gentle needling, Gabi scoffed and slunk low on her chair, abandoning her expensive desert altogether to glare at him over the rim of her wine.

 

‘Self centered middle class minstrel with a too high opinion of herself.’ Hannibal quietly diagnosed. ‘Cook her trachea in high heat until it’s puffed up and crispy, then stuff the delicate tube with a mousseline of her own lungs. Garnish with sil-gochu chili threads to harken back to her fiery spirit and red hair. When consumed, she’ll make loud crack, one last sound as she is stuffed full of herself.’

 

Hannibal returned to his desert with a smile, happy to add one more person to his future dinner menu. He wondered if Will could catch the meaning of the dish. The thought filled Hannibal with a gentle warmth that spread through his full belly.

 

Even after all the dreadful things they did to each other Will always managed to fill him with tender feeling of fondness and nostalgic affection.

 

The brief flash of hunger in Hannibal’s dark eyes was not lost on Gabi. Usually such hungry stares were reserved to other appetites, one she could manipulate with a lick over her lips or a twirl of a finger in her hair. Such games would not work on Hannibal. She tried. The man only had attention for one particular person.

 

“Ah, there they are.” Hannibal said, inclining his head to the hotel staircase visible from their seats.

 

Will descended the grand staircase like a princeling, decked in subtle fineries that was no doubt purchased for him. He walked while holding onto Nigel’s arm, stopping at the edge of the railing to place a subtle kiss on his companion’s cheek before moving away. Nigel dropped the large suitcase he was carrying and pulled Will back by his waist, passionately kissing him in front of the whole lobby to see.

 

Hannibal gritted his teeth and placed his dessert spoon back onto the table, fearing he might snap it into two.

 

Gabi nervously adjusted her scarf and leaned away from view but Hannibal did not move from his spot. He could argue that it was because he was confident in his disguise, but the honest truth was he simply did not want to lose sight of Will just yet.

 

This was not the first time he saw the man. He’s been trailing them for days now, spying them from their boats to their many excursions. Even so, the emotional impact of seeing him remained the same. The very sight of Will was like the smell of roasting meat to a starving man, and Hannibal had to consciously remind himself to be patient and not lose himself to his appetite.

 

Gabi huffed and turned away from the disgusting display by both Nigel and Hannibal alike. At first thought she might be able to pierce her way through the doctor’s lofty exterior, maybe even touch some of his humanity so he might return her Amati back without her involvement in his plans.

 

Yet the more time she spent with him the more she was convinced that the man had no humanity to speak off. He only had his façade, and on it’s foundations was an obsession, a smoldering fire sustained by the idea of possessing Will Graham.

 

It’s funny, but the doctor was very much like Nigel in that sense.

 

They watched the couple closely, Hannibal quickly paying for the meal. When the two disappeared he rose from his seat and offered his hand to his companion. “Ready Gabriella?” He asked cordially. Gabi nodded and took his hand.

 

Love.’ She scoffed as she watches both Nigel and Hannibal. She closed her eyes and remembered Charlie, about the hardship she endured for him for the sake of love. ‘Never again.’ She promised to herself, pitying these men whose souls were intertwined in such terrible fates.

Chapter Text

Hannibal prided himself in his ability to find beauty in every aspect of life, may it be a piece of art created by the Old Masters’s hands, or a swine of a man steeped in boorish behaviors. It’s a skill rooted in mindfulness and gratitude, and exercising that discipline has made him into a more centered, balanced person.

 

Currently, such emotions were beyond him.

 

The blunted edge of a hardcover book dug itself painfully into Hannibal’s palm, a self-inflicted pain done to curb the agony of witnessing Will and Nigel’s amorous display. It’s been like that ever since they left the hotel, Nigel’s powerful arms wrapping around Will’s shoulders, only to drop to his back, then his waist, then his ass, after which they would stop and disappear into an alley, or this time, to a complete stranger’s car.

 

‘Like rutting animals.’ Hannibal thought coldly, lips curling into an involuntary snarl as he caught sight of Will’s palm bracing against the window, curled up in pleasure.

 

Nigel’s threw his face up, a perfect snapshot of ecstasy, only to be swiftly pulled down by the belt wrapped around his neck. It was eerie to perfectly similar to him, like looking into a cursed mirror reflection of his younger self, flushed with the arrogance of youth, arms heavily laden with the treasure he desired most.

 

The fact that Will had anchored himself to a man with the same exact face as his made Hannibal feels smug, like he still owned a part of Will even with their separation. Now Hannibal just feel lost, an empty vessel for bitterness and envy to well up like a chalice full of poison he willingly partook from.

 

He’s nothing more than a cheap imitation of me. A subpar substitute sourced out in third world countries to meet the demand of those who could afford the price of the genuine article.’ As self-congratulatory as it was, the thought did not console him, and Hannibal found himself wondering whether he has asked too high of a price for Will’s love and affection.

 

Flashes of red overlap above the gently rocking car. Abigail. Matthew. The Dragon. Collateral damage guaranteed every time they lift each other’s veils. They repeatedly show their desires, only to pull away like a pair of pendulums, fated only to meet on each other’s downswing and violent ascent.

 

The futility of their situations disgusted Hannibal to no end.

 

“My god. Do they ever stop?” Gabi quipped from beside him, his only companion in the empty bookstore. When the man didn’t reply, Gabi rolled her eyes and turned back to her magazine, not at all nervous considering she’s currently the accomplice of a cannibalistic serial killer.

 

“They’re newlyweds.” Hannibal spoke up after a pause. “It’s only natural for them to be enamored with each other. Wedding ceremonies have that effect. The frequencies of their coupling says nothing about their compatibility or long-term marital satisfaction.” He flashed a thin wry smile at the girl before adding, “I’m sure you can attest that, seeing you’ve experienced that disappointment before.”

 

Gabi’s hand tightened, hating the casual torments Hannibal constantly threw her way. “I don’t know. He looks pretty satisfied to me.” The girl retorted back vengefully, nodding towards Will, sitting up against Nigel’s stocky figure, disheveled and perfectly blissed out.

 

The sight made Gabi and Hannibal grit their teeth. Synchronized in their irritation, the two closed their abused books and return them to their respective shelves.

 

“Whatever.” She snapped, trying her best not to look her bare, ringless hand. “Men are such fucking pigs.”

 

“Yes they are.” Hannibal agreed, keeping one eye on Will’s face as he selected an appropriate cookbook to inspire Nigel’s demise.

 

 

**

 

“Did you like your collar baby?” Will asked, rubbing the red indents coiling around Nigel’s neck.

 

The man froze, cock twitching at Will’s teasing tone. “Yes.” Nigel whispered reverently after swallowing the lump in his throat. He eyed the simple brown belt looped around Will’s waist and whined, a fully developed Pavlovian response to an act he only partook in once.

 

Nigel couldn’t help himself. There’s just something about Will’s firm voice that transformed his desperate clutching into blissful submission. It stilled his soul, yet it also made his heart race with a lusty vigor of a stallion. He couldn’t get enough of the man, especially when he treated him no better than a dog.

 

“We make terrible crime scene cleaners though.” Will laughed, shifting away to tidied up his messy clothes. “Here we are, leaving our DNA all over a stranger’s car.”

 

“It’s not a crime to take pleasure.” Nigel pulled his husband back and kissed his mark, sensing the telltale stirring of his unspent erection. “Though it’s borderline criminal to leave your husband in perpetual blue balls darling.” He said hoarsely, grinding his hardness up against the cleft of Will’s ass. “Please gorgeous… I’m aching.”

 

Will grinned as he enjoyed Nigel’s desperate pleas.

 

“Oh? Does my big boy need to cum?”

 

Those words robbed Nigel of any coherent thought and left him whimpering as he nodded desperately onto Will’s shoulder. His husband laughed, mussing up his slicked back hair like he would to a rambunctious dog. The sound of his voice was so beautiful it made Nigel’s heart clench in pain.

 

“Well we still have a job to do, but if you behave yourself…” a devilish smile spread over Will’s lips. Nigel’s breath hitched and he nodded once more, already hooked on the unsaid promises he knew Will would keep. “Good. Now, are you going to do to the rest of the day?”

 

“Behave.”

 

“Mm-hm, because you’re my… what?”

 

“Cuz I’m…” Nigel cleared his throat and looked away, his eyes downcast in submissive surrender. “… because I’m your good boy.”

 

Will nodded and kissed him. “That’s right baby.” He said, caressing the belt mark on his husband’s neck. Nigel’s keened indulgently and kissed Will’s assured hands, wishing he could leave his life behind and spend the rest of his days curled up by his feet.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

The thing about dead bodies stewing in the heat was that it leaves such a terrible smell that it’s often indistinguishable from the stench of a fish yard. So it’s no wonder that nobody noticed the rotting corpse stuffed between the steering wheel of Will’s yacht.

 

“Motherfucker!” Nigel exclaimed, throwing away the suitcase that held the bellboy’s body. The luggage bounced and knocked itself open, revealing one pale hand, drained of blood and completely stiff.

 

Will placed a hand on his husband shoulder to calm him down, hoping that it might stop him from doing anything rash.

 

“Go close the blinds Nigel. We don’t want anyone to see us inside and call the police.” Nigel nodded curtly, going about his task while muttering slew of curses that would make hardened sailors gape in awe.

 

Satisfied that Nigel wouldn’t do anything rash, Will kneeled down and began and observed the body in earnest.

 

The victim was an adult male in his early twenties. His clothes indicate wealth, no doubt one of the rich party goers that that get drunks on the surrounding yachts and caused ruckus for everyone around.

 

His chest was hollowed out, rib bones cut cleanly to make an opening to access his heart. A camera sits where his heart used to be, gleaming in the light. Though he smelled atrocious, the corpse didn’t show any sight of bloating or seeping, which coupled with the lack rigor mortis, would put his time of death around late afternoon.

 

“This poor fucker is the owner of that heart, isn’t he?” Nigel growled, eyeing the gruesome display with distaste. Nigel was an old hand at torture and interrogation. He did take pleasure is desecrating corpses after they’ve expired.

 

“I would assume so.” Will muttered, calling back the image of the still fresh warm heart.

 

The corpse’s mouth was stuffed full of polaroids, their sharp edges cutting into the flesh of his cheeks, there was a stream of spit and blood sealing the photos togethers, which indicates that the man was still alive when his mouth was stuffed full of those pictures.

 

One picture stood out amongst the other, intentionally nudged out of place to resemble a playfully stuck-out tongue. Will pulled it out and studied it close under Nigel’s unhappy gaze.

 

“Well someone’s quite the voyeur.” He muttered, amused by what he saw.

 

It was a picture of him, naked on his boat on the day he had that argument with Nigel. On the empty margin below was a note written in neat cursive.

 

‘Dearest Will,

Please do cover yourself up

-H’

 

If his husband weren’t there, Will would’ve laughed at the sheer irony of the situation.

 

“He was in our fucking yacht. In your yacht that I bought for you!” Nigel punched a metal pipe, bending it out of shape and hurting his knuckles. Will didn’t even flinch. He was completely engrossed by the body before him, slipping into Hannibal’s point of view like it was an old pair of shoes, familiar and comfortable despite completely falling apart at the seams.

 

“Hannibal takes pleasure in undermining your gifts with his own twisted offering.” Will explained, his voice taking a flat even tone that he often used when he’s profiling criminals. “You hide my naked body from other people’s gaze, he kills the ones who dared to even look. You give me gifts to show your affection, he gave me a literal heart. You brought me to a romantic honeymoon, he gives me a murder mystery.”

 

Nigel scoffed. “They’re not even good fucking gifts, crazy fucking bastard.” Nigel spat contemptuously.

 

“Yeah…” Will muttered, letting the truth left unsaid. ’Because he knows just how much I enjoy solving puzzles and chasing after monsters.’  Nigel does not need to know that. He was far too angry to understand the minutia of Will’s mind.

 

Without a second thought, he stepped out of the navigation deck and onto the edge of the bow. Will tore up picture and crumpled it in his hand before flicking it off the edge of the boat and into the darkness. Nigel watched with his arms crossed, relieved to see his husband’s rejection floating across the water

 

“Come on.” Wills said cheerily, walking with a renewed pep in his steps. “We have bodies to dump!”

 

On a lighthouse in the distance, Hannibal watched them through a pair of binoculars, his amused little smile fading when he saw Will threw away the picture with cavalier.

 

“Ungrateful.” He said, clicking his tongue. It seems that Will’s time with Nigel has degraded his sense of gratitude and propriety. ‘No matter. I will take great pleasure in teaching them back to you.’

 

***

 

That morning Will woke up without the familiar scratching and whining of his beloved dog that always accompanied him. As a man of routine and habits, that anomaly filled him with faint curiosity that soon turned into dread.

 

“Kefir?” He called out, whistling with his dry mouth as he untangled himself from Nigel’s embrace. The man didn’t even groan. He was so used to his partner fitful slumber that such gentle jostling felt like a breeze.

 

Will made his way through the massive hotel suite and began whistling for the dog. ”Come here boy.” He shouted, but no cheerful barks of energetic jingling answered his call.

 

As a spitz, Kefir had an independent personality. He’s happy to explore and play alone for hours at a time, but he would always come bounding in when he’s called. Will trained him well, and his absence sat heavily on the pit of his stomach.

 

Will gave up for the time being and chose to climb back into his plush bed. “Nigel.” He called, and Nigel’s body responded to him automatically. Sleepy arms reached out for his, seeking to pull him into a cuddle so Nigel can smother him under his weight.

 

As adorable as it was, Will was in no mood to longue around, not while his dog was mysteriously absent..

 

“Nigel baby, wake up.”

 

“Nnnh…”

 

“It’s important.”

 

The man groaned and tugged at Will’s arm even harder. All he wanted was to hump lazily against his husband soft ass and slowly make love to him until they fall back asleep.

 

“Nigel, I’m serious.” Will said in exasperation. “Kefir is missing.”

 

“’probs ‘n balcony.” He mumbled, burying his face into Will’s thighs. “Come here and let me hold you darlin’.” Nigel purred, know just what he could do to distract his fretful husband, but Will remained in his place, undeterred by how soft and innocent Nigel looked his early morning daze.

 

“But he’s not there, and I can’t find him anywhere.” The man sighed, petting Nigel’s hair absent mindedly. The man only gave a resigned huff and nuzzled even closer, humming as Will magical fingers began to comb and untangle his morning bed hair.

 

“I think Hannibal might’ve took him.” Came the quiet admission, and just like that Nigel shot up, his eyes sharp and alert.

 

“Are you sure darling?” he asked, immediately reaching to check his guns. They remained untouched, every clip and bullet accounted for, but Nigel loaded it up anyways. “If he has access to the suite then why even bother with the dog? Why not just go straight for our neck while we sleep?”

 

“To torment me? He does love his stupid little mind games.” Will rubbed his face, but as the seconds pass began to realize just how improbable his theory sounded. “I don’t even know anymore. Am I being paranoid?” Nigel wanted to nod but held his tongue. His darling looked tense enough, he didn’t need to add more to his anxiety and stress. Will caught his look anyways. “I am being paranoid aren’t I? God. Next thing you know it I’ll be having fucking hallucinations again.”

 

“No you won’t.” Nigel sighed, sitting up to caress the worried look off of Will’s face. “You’re more than okay darling, you’re perfect. The fucker just got to you for a bit, that’s all.”

 

“Yeah… I guess he did.” Will muttered, feeling somewhat defeated by the admission.

 

The haunted look on Will’s face made Nigel chest feels heavy and his breath all sharp. He hated seeing his darling so resigned. Will was strong, capable of taming even beasts like him. Such expressions had no place on his beautiful face.

 

As tenderly as he could manage, Nigel brought Will back into the folds of his arms, nuzzling his stubbed beard against his neck in hopes of bringing a smile back into Will’s face. He succeeded, provoking a small giggle that made Nigel feel like he’s on top of the world.

 

“How about this, hm? I’ll go shower and shave, the we can go down and have a nice French omelet for breakfast, extra cheese, and once that’s done, we’ll ask the manager about the dog. Hell, I’ll even slip him a couple hundred euros we can take a look at the security cameras to find the little fucker. How does that sound?”

 

Will nodded and turned to hug Nigel back, his face bright with a smile that spoke a thousand gratitude and placed kisses that whispered his devotion against Nigel’s cheeks.

 

“I love you so much Nigel.” He smiled, thanking his lucky stars that they’ve led him to this beautiful man.

 

**

 

Breakfast was excellent, as always, with Nigel urging the line cook to add even more cheese onto Will’s already burgeoning omelet. Truthfully Will didn’t have much of an appetite. He just wanted to put on his coat and run up and down the seine to find his dog, but he could never reject Nigel’s tenderness. He’s gone so long without love that now he’s drowning in it Will was so scared to lose it.

 

When Nigel finished his breakfast, and the rest of his uneaten egg monstrosity, he all but dragged the man onto the front desk, forcing him to play translator as he described Kefir to the eager concierge.

 

Before Nigel could slip the man a bribe to take them back to the security room, a chatter fell onto the peaceful hotel lobby as a group of agents in suit entered the premises, their faces all grim and serious as they question the doorman.

 

The couple looked at each other silently and nodded, turning their back against the agents and began making their way to the elevator.

 

“Interpol?” Will asked. Nigel nodded, pulling up a pair of sunglasses to help disguise him from sight. Will followed suit, snatching an unattended coat and raising the collar high to hide their faces. They reached the elevator and pressed for their personal parking space in the basement, where a car awaits with supplies for events such as these.

 

In Eastern Europe Nigel was king, but in other countries his influence was not limitless. Darko had told him so, warning Will about the reality of being married to a drug lord.

 

“You are no longer protected by governments or laws, Will, so do not hesitate to break them. Protect my frate, you hear me?”

 

Will reached in to feel the comforting weight of his knife, the anxiety he felt earlier melting away as he readied himself for a fight.

 

In the tense silence of the elevator Nigel spoke up. “I’ll find Kefir. I swear to you blue eyes. I’ll bring down an whole fucking army from Bucharest and raze Paris to the ground if I need to. I just-”

 

“I know. Kefir will be fine. He’s a cute dog. Someone will adopt him soon enough.” Will said calmly, sensing Nigel’s regret and disappointment pushing through his indignant anger. The man was many things, but he’s not one to break his promises easily. Will leaned close and his husband’s frowning face.

 

“Hey. It’s okay. We can always come back for our anniversary, right?” he murmured, lacing their fingers together and kissing the back of the man’s hand.

 

“I suppose.” The man begrudgingly agreed. “I just fucking hate to cut our honeymoon short because of those fucking Interpol cunts. I still have so many places I want to show you.” He patted Will’s hand sadly. “You deserve to see the world.”

 

“Then show me. We have the rest of our lives to do whatever the hell we want. I just need to have you with me, ok? Not behind some bars serving bullshit drug charges.”

 

“Never. I’m with you Will. I will always fucking be with you.”

 

Nigel’s words settled warm and heavy over his shoulders, as reliable and strong as his embrace. That seconds before their fates were decided, Will felt safe and ready to take on whoever dared to stand in their way.

 

 

***

 

The cheery ding of the elevator felt ominous as they arrived on the hotel parking lot. Before them was a fleet of luxury cars, parked and ready to be used by the hotel’s distinguished guests. Will was ready to make a beeline to their own rental, but Nigel stopped him, noting the absence of chauffeurs and valets that would often greet them at their arrival. Nigel stared at Will and nodded.

 

It’s an ambush.’ Will thought, but they were ready for one.

 

Nigel handed Will one of his guns and motioned for him to go to the end of the wall. They switched the safety off their weapons and slowly made their way forward, Will quietly under the cover of the shadows while Nigel strode confidently down the middle road, an eager bait, vicious in his own secret way.

 

One by one agents in uniforms began to emerge from behind the rows of cars, shouting their version of the Miranda rights while training their weapons at Nigel’s body. There were about a dozen of them, and about half of them were heavily armed.

 

A sane part of Will want to panic and freeze, but something primal inside grinned at the Calvary that greeted him. The beast was satisfied, for his mate was strong, and lesser men knew it too.

 

The captain said something in French to Nigel, who replied good naturedly in his perfect accent. “Je m'appelle Nigel Graham, pas Hannibal Lecter.” He slowly pulled out his passport and handed it to a nearby agent. “S'il vous plait.”

 

While he flipped open the little book to check it’s content, Nigel raised his gun an shot nthe two armed men right on their head.

 

Will immediately followed suit, providing cover fire as Nigel sheltered himself from the hail of bullets. The man yelled in excitement, and Will wanted to howl back in response.

 

Even with his terrible aim, Will managed to down three agents, drawing their attention away from Nigel. The man moved with violent elegance, dispatching one person after another with a well-placed shot, never missing his target. Not even one bullet was wasted at his hand, and before long, only one agent remained, quivering with fear as he beheld Nigel’s fearsome figure.

 

“Je m'appelle Nigel Graham, enfoiré.”

 

Will emerged from the shadows and shot the man before Nigel could execute him. He missed every vital shot, downing the man but leaving him very much alive Will frowned and approached the agent observing him like he was no better than a paper target in a shooting range.

 

“You need to teach me how to shoot better.” Will sighed, massaging his shoulder where he still had his rotator cuff issues.

 

Nigel pulled Will close and kissed him. “Anything you want darling.” He muttered amorously before sending Will away with a slap on his ass. “I’ll open the portal gate. Go ahead and start the car for us, alright?”

 

Giddy from the kiss and carnage, Will nodded and jogged over to their rented sedan. Sleek, black, and discreet. Before he could take out the keys from his pocket, two shot rang out, followed by Nigel’s pained grunt.

 

“Nigel!” Will turned around and found Gabi standing over her ex-husband body, kicking away any surrounding firearm from Nigel’s reach. She had one of the agent’s gun trained on Nigel’s back and Will wanted nothing more than to tear into her flesh and rip every single one of her offending limbs.

 

He raised his gun and took aim, but before he could pull the trigger, a strong arm grabbed him in a choke hold while the other twisted his hand and efficiently disarmed him.

 

“Hello Will.” Hannibal’s unmistakable voice whispered against the shell of his ear, taking a deep, shuddering breath before releasing it over his skin, drawing pleasures goosebumps and visceral fear.

 

Out of the corner of his eyes Will could see the glinting of a hypodermic needle aiming for his neck. In that one split second Will knew that if he let that needle touch him, he would never see Nigel ever again. So he fought with all he had, twisting and wrenching Hannibal’s hold, knocking the glass implement onto the ground and smashing it into pieces.

 

He snarled victoriously and leaped at the doctor, throwing him back against the hood of a car. Yet despite mustering all of his bodyweight and strength, the doctor remained upright, staring down at Will with a superiorly smug look that just screamed,

 

‘Give up. I already won.’

 

The two men froze as another shot rang through the air once more. This time Nigel screamed, clutching his knee as yet another blotch of blood began to spread into the concrete below.

 

“Stay still or the next bullet goes into his head.” Gabi said, stone cold and deadly.

 

Will had no other choice but to comply, his gazed completely focused on Nigel’s bloody figure heaving on the floor. ‘Keep your eyes on Nigel. Don’t look at him. Don’t look at him. You’ll remember everything and you’ll forget about your husband.’

 

 Hannibal chuckled, amused at his attempt to still avoid his eyes, but he said nothing. The doctor just brought Will’s hand together and secured it with a of zip tie.

 

 “Very good Gabriella. Wipe your prints off the gun and dispose of it, if you please.” The girl obeyed, flipping open her phone and dialing emergency services. Before she hit call, Gabi looked up to Hannibal, waiting for his confirmation.”

 

“Do you know your lines?” The doctor demanded.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Deliver them well or I’ll come for your tongue.”

 

“Make sure my cello is ready for pickup and I won’t come for yours.”

 

The absurd exchange made Will scoffed She was the one who had Nigel’s heart.. She was the one who tried to kill him. She’s also Hannibal’s accomplice, someone who has peeked behind the veil and lived.

 

Will found that he had no more sympathy for her.

 

“Never thought of you as a team player Doctor.” The man sneered, his blood boiling at the sight of Girl, still as beautiful and severe as ever.

 

“I think you underestimate just how far I would go to take back what’s mine.”

 

“I’m not yours.”

 

“You will be.” Hannibal said, completely self-assured by the fact that it made Will’s shiver with dread. The doctor just smiled at him, as amused as he was when he’s entertaining his dinner guest, a puppet master enjoying his own play.

 

Eventually he pulled away with a sigh.

 

“I have to apologize Will. I didn’t want to start our reunion with such nastiness, but I’m afraid I must do something quite… messy.” He turned his eyes towards Nigel. In his hand was a curved blade, the same linoleum knife that he used to gut Will and kill Abigail.

 

“… Hannibal. What are you doing.” Will shuddered, memories of Abigail’s death and his own gurgling blood filling his vision. “Hannibal. No. Please.” Will hissed, but the man was already upon his husband, grabbing his hair to expose his jugular.

 

‘Where he put his mark on mine.’

 

“Any last words?”

 

Nigel spat, barely missing the doctor’s face. “Fuck you.” He said, defiant to the end.

 

“Hm. Charming.” Hannibal sighed, looking completely disappointed by the man who bore his face. “Ah well. Such is the fate of cheap imitations. Good bye.” He smiled and placed the knife against Nigel’s jugular.

 

“Wait! Hannibal! Please!” Will screamed, falling to his knees, his hand folded above him in supplication. “Please don’t kill him. I would do anything for you. Anything.”

 

He didn’t know if it was his tone of just the sight of him on his knees, but for once his words caught Hannibal attention and stopped him in his tracks.

 

The man let Nigel’s head fall onto the floor with a loud thud, uncaring of anything and everything else as he made his way to Will.

 

“Anything?” he clarified as he all but eye fucked Will’s prone figure.

 

The man nodded. “Anything. Just please. Please don’t kill my husband.” He murmured, repeating words like beads on a rosary.

 

For a moment Will thought he saw a flicker of grief behind Hannibal’s eyes, but they were quickly cordoned off by his façade, shiny and flawless. Plastic as he stared Will down with a self-satisfied smirk

 

“Even if I ask you to hurt him?” Hannibal asked, his tone playful, like a cat curiously batting at his meal before he devoured him whole.

 

What else can Will do but nod. If it meant Nigel will be safe, if it meant that giving him the chance to be happy again, to be whole without him. Will was more than willing to commit any atrocities in Hannibal’s name.

 

Will does not enjoy inflicting pain for pain’s own sake, but if it comes down to it, he will do so willingly. Nigel would survive. His husband was strong. He will recover and find his chance at happiness, away from the nightmares and malady that followed in Will’s trail.

 

Hannibal touched the edge of the knife against his zip tie, breaking Will out of his restraint. “Break him then.” Hannibal ordered, his voice growing hoarse as he witnessed a wild thing like Will nod obediently with a look of delicious resignation.

 

With every step that he took Will felt his soul slowly fading away. He allowed it to wither. Only his husband can bear witness to his truest self. He will not give it to Hannibal. He belonged to Nigel. The ring in his finger says it so.

 

Yet when he came face to face with his bloodied husband, Will’s resolve began to shake. Tears began to brim and blur his eyes, but Will held on. He couldn’t break. He had to be strong and break Nigel’s spirit, or else Hannibal might return to him and break the connection between his head and his body.

 

“Darling.” Nigel choked, swallowing his welling blood so he could breathe and profess his love once more. “Darling I love-“

 

“I’m sorry Nigel.” Will said, his tone flat and cold as he blinked the tears away from his eyes. “I’m going to go with Hannibal now.”

 

The fire in Nigel’s eyes lit up, roaring in protest. “No. Darling. Don’t do it. I can still fight. I can still-“ Nigel pulled himself up with his two hands, dragging his bleeding legs just to get close, to touch his beloved again.

 

“Stay!” Will hissed, stepping away from the man with palpable disgust in his eyes. Nigel paled, collapsing onto the ground as tears began to strain down his face.

 

How could he ignore such orders? His body was too broken to move and his mind was made to submit to him.

 

And yet it still hurt. It hurt him to be apart from him, to know that any second Will could just disappear, a whole year of pain, love, and friendship as intangible as his cigarette smoke.

 

Nigel has to try. He has to.

 

“You say that darling but I know.” He heaved. “I know your heart. Let me fight for you. Don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on us.”  Nigel whispered, praying that Will would listen, that he would stay, even if it meant dying together.

 

Try as he might, Nigel could not reach him, for Will’s eyes were lightyears away, staring down at him like an uncaring god who has bestowed his favor to another devotee.

 

“I’m sorry.” Will said for the last time, each repetition sounding more insincere than the last. “…but I don’t think I can go from loving someone like Hannibal to loving someone like you.”

 

The words were spoken softly, but it rang through the halls of those who heard it.

 

Hannibal took a deep breath and smiled. Gabi looked away, biting back tears as the words brought to life memories of a life where she was brave enough to love. Nigel remained in the ground, unmoving as the spark of madness and obsession in his eyes began to dim and die

 

“No.” he whispered, trying to deny what still echoed in his ears.

 

“Yes.” Will countered. With steady hands that has touched, held, and caressed him, Will took off his ring and let it fall onto the ground, the metal circling into itself before it fell onto it’s side, no different than a discarded paperclip.

 

Nigel didn’t even reach out for it.

 

“Goodbye.” Will said, parting with his beloved and his soul.

 

Will would never be whole again.

 

He walked back in a daze, suddenly coming face to face with Hannibal’s handsome visage. It hurts to look at someone so similar to the man he just betrayed, even if he was un recognizable with his strange beard and glasses.

 

Still, it didn’t stop Hannibal from smiling at the sight of his pained expression.

 

“Beautifully done Will. Beautiful” He said, taking his hand and rubbing the tan lines where his wedding band used to be. Will wanted to jerk his hand back, but Hannibal opened his arms.

 

Will glared. Hannibal’s smile widened, and just like a moth to a fire, he fell into his embrace. The last thing he remembered was the faint pinprick of a hypodermic needle sinking into his neck.

 

Will welcomed the darkness, for he deserved hellfire for what he’s done and oblivion was but a reprieve for what awaits him.

 

Chapter Text

Will was so used to the dissonance that overstimulation brought that being numb and empty felt uncomfortably foreign. He woke up hazy and confused, his mouth dry and ears humming uncomfortably.

 

“What…?“ A  cool glass was placed before his lips, but when he realized whose hands held it to him, Will balked away, only to moan in pain as his vision swam and his head ached as if it was split into two.

 

“Careful now.” Hannibal purred, kneeling in front of Will as he held his head straight and examined his complexion. “You’ve just got out of a very heavy sedation. I wouldn’t recommend moving around too much, at least not until we land.”

 

“What...?” Will swallowed hard and looked around. They were in a small cabin decorated in muted grey and white paddings. It looked calm and serene, almost like an upscale waiting room, that is if you ignored the double bed flanked by two chairs with seatbelts on them. Everything clicked into place when Will faintly recognized a logo emblazoned on the metal of his buckle. “Christ. Are we on an airplane?

 

He hated how Hannibal seemed pleased at his disbelief. “Yes. We’re in an A380 airbus to be exact, the largest commercial airliner available to the public.” He explained, as excited and helpful as he was on his elaborate dinner parties. “A true marvel of engineering, really. It makes traveling much more pleasant and private.”

 

“How much did you pay for this pleasant and private luxury’?”  Will spat, managing to appear charming in his insolence.

 

“Only a small fortune.” Hannibal said nonchalantly. “But I would gladly empty my coffers for the pleasure of seeing you again.”

 

Will could practically hear the smug smirk dripping from the man’s tone. Pompous. Drowning in self-congratulation and superiority. It reminded him just how much he hated rich people

 

“Well tough luck, Doctor, because I would rather sleep in the lavatory than jump into bed with you.” Will retorted coldly.

 

Unfazed by his sharp tongue, Hannibal stood up and placed the paper cup on a nearby table. “There you go again.” He said, feigning a disappointed little sigh that Will knew he did not mean.

 

“What?”

 

“Trying to distance yourself by not using my first name. I understand that you’re angry, but it’s quite childish, especially after all that we just went through.” Hannibal walked across the spacious cabin to sit on the bed, leaning his elbows onto his knees so he could reach out and placed his warm hand on Will’s clenched fist.

 

“I do miss hearing you call my name, Will. Haven’t we gone through enough to deny each other the small pleasures in life?” the man asked, all trances of arrogance and conceit gone, replaced with a sickening earnestness that brought forth a feeling on longing in Will’s twisting belly. “There’s so much ugliness in what we both did to each other. If it’s possible, I would like us to treat one another with kindness now. We both deserve it, don’t you think?”

 

If he didn’t know better then Will would’ve believed him in an instant. He wanted to, but years of manipulation came forward and stopped him from buying into one of his illusions.  

 

“Was it kind when you made a goddamn girl shoot down my husband? Was it kind when you forced me to choose between breaking his heart of his life?” Will snarled, slapping Hannibal’s hand away in disgust. “Is that the sort of kindness you want me to repay? If so, then call me Will the Benevolent Doctor, because I’m have plenty of kindness to give.”

 

“Ah, yes.” Hannibal hummed, unperturbed by Will’s anger. “The husband.” He smiled pleasantly, as if Will just recounted a pleasant story about his holiday instead of the brutal torture of the man he love.

 

“Did you enjoy wasting your year away playing husband to that criminal?” Hannibal chuckled and crossed his legs, no trace of jealousy and envy present in his face. After all, why should he feel threatened by the affection of a lowly animal?

 

The sheer impertinence of Hannibal’s question shocked Will into silence. The doctor smirked, eager to exploit the small chink in Will’s armor. “Oh come now, let’s not pretend that sham of a marriage was more than it was.  We both know it wasn’t.”

 

Will said nothing, forcing his face to remain blank and relaxed, unwilling to give Hannibal the satisfaction of a victory. The man continued his assault.

 

“I can understand why you did it. You felt alone. Abandoned. So you found yourself a replacement and settled for a life you thought you wanted, just like you did with your old wife and stepson. But Will, you traded a stable family for an unstable thug, all because because he shared the same face as I do. I’m flattered, but you should’ve stooped to something so tragically desperate really.”

 

Will laughed, completely unfazed by Hannibal’s little jabs. “The only tragic thing here is the state of your manners, but then again I suppose it’s true when they say ‘you are what you eat.’” Will muttered, closing his eye in satisfaction. “You’ve become as rude and predictable as Freddie Lounds, Doctor. Tell me? Have you had her for dinner recently?”

 

Hannibal smiled, his pulse racing as they fell into the familiar exchange they used to share in the past. Unfortunately, Will did manage to hurt his pride, and Hannibal would be remiss to not repay such annoyance with something that would hurt Will in return.

 

“Forgive me for being discourteous Will, but I simply must know.” Hannibal countered, leaning uncomfortably close to the man until the static from the cabin air zipped through their skin. Neither moved, readying their words to parry and riposte each other’s attacks.

 

“Was he a good lay? Did he managed to fuck me away from that beautiful mind of yours? Or did you lay under him and thought of me?” Hannibal grazed the edges of Will’s arms, sending guilt and pleasure with one innocuous touch. “When he brought you to orgasm, did you call out my name?” the man continued. “Or was he so bad that his rutting left you unsatisfied?”

 

“Fuck you.” Will spat, full of humiliation and vitriol. “Don’t fucking talk about my husband like that.”

 

Hannibal sat back and smiled, shaking his head and tutting in delight.

 

“See now, this is the problem, Will. You have a tendency to throw yourself into marriages after our little tiffs. It’s pathological, really. If you like, I would be happy to resume our therapy to resolve this issue.” Hannibal grinned. “God forbid we fight over groceries and I find you in the courthouse with another lookalike.”

 

With a growl Will flipped open his seatbelt and shoved Hannibal down the bed, his hand around the man’s neck, too weak to do any real damage, but the fury in his eyes made up for his absent strength.

 

“My relationships were more real that your goddamn person suit.” He hissed, digging his knee into Hannibal’s stomach. The man grunted but said nothing, a pleasant smile still dancing on his lips. “I tolerated your nature, even in our most honest moments. I didn’t do that with them. I never played or pretended with either Molly and Nige-“ The name of the man rendered new pain onto his heart, and suddenly he felt weak, unable to hold himself up as he fell onto Hannibal’s board with a whimper.

 

Concerned that Will might react adversely to the sedative or go into shock, Hannibal immediately flipped the man onto his back and checked on his vitals. Will was conscious, albeit unresponsive by choice.

 

Hannibal sighed, disturbed by the acute sense of concern he felt for the man.

 

“You terrible little menace.” The doctor laughed in relief, taking the chance to lean his head against Will’s in an intimate little nod. “First you threw us off a cliff, now you throw a terrible little tantrum. What other manner of discourtesy-“

 

“I was happy.” Will interrupted. “I was so damn happy Hannibal. I thought I could never be happy again, but then Nigel saved me, just like I saved him.” A wry little laugh escaped his lips, accompanying the tears that began to bead on the corners of his eyes. “But then you just had to take that away from me too, didn’t you? You wouldn’t let me have anything good that isn’t you.”

 

His words were cold and despondent, but Hannibal withdrew like he was burned by the mere breath of his whispers. Then slowly, like a man would approach a skittish animal, Hannibal brought his hand up and cupped Will’s cheeks, savoring in the minute tremors that ran through his jaw. Will whimpered, the raging fire of his anger dimmed, leaving only the smoke of anguish clouding over his eyes like the smoke of a burning empire darkening the blue sky.

 

It was then that Hannibal considered that it might be the moment that he broke Will Graham.

 

“There is no length of ocean or cruelty that I would not traverse for us.” Hannibal murmured, admiring the pain that has made it’s home on the shadows of Will’s face. He was beautiful like that, and as much as his heart ached to see his suffering, it soared at the face of such resplendent beauty. “I just want the best for you, Will.”

 

Will didn’t care anymore about any posturing, about faking strength to defend against Hannibal’s games. He openly sobbed, crying out his pain as he grieved for the loss of his husband and for the life he had thought would’ve last forever.

 

Yet not all of his tears were one of sadness. He shed them because despite all of the terrible, violent, poisonous things Hannibal has done, the man meant every single word that he just said. To Hannibal, that was what love was, a twisted, appalling thing that hurts more than it soothes, and he liked it that way.

 

There was a time when Will thought such terrible affection was all that he could afford. Nigel has showed him otherwise

 

He pushed his abuser off and collapsed his body back into his seat, buckling tight enough that he could feel his hipbones pushing against the strap. Hannibal followed him and loosened the seatbelt and caressed his face. Will looked away, staring listlessly out the window to mull over the clouds.

 

This time the man didn’t pull away, he leaned close and took a deep breath, savoring the piquant scent of grief that clung on the man’s skin. Will didn’t even react. He remained stationary, reigned to his fate as he quietly cried an ocean down his face. Hannibal pulled away and frowned, noticing the steady drip of tears that soaked down Will’s chest.

                                                                                  

“There, there at least we didn’t waste three years this time, yes? Now,” The doctor shook out a pill from a small bottle in his pocket. “Something to calm you down.”

 

Will ignored the pathetic white dot all together and grabbed the bottle instead, dry swallowing a handful of pills despite Hannibal’s protests. He didn’t care. He just wanted to be numb.

 

***

“Oh, aaaaand’ didya know how much I hate your beard?” Will mumbled against the soft leather seat, trying his best to sound coherent. “I de.test.it.”

 

“It’s a necessary disguise, my dear.” Hannibal answered, caressing Will’s scruffy face as he kept one hand on the steering wheel, braving the traffic from La Guardia to the city. “I myself have no complaint about yours, but I would like to see you shaved one day. Would you let me do that?”

 

“It makes you look old.” Came his nonsensical mumbles, still tempered by the Xanax he swallowed back in the airplane. Even in his current state Will felt a twinge of pettiness, taking every chance to poke at Hannibal’s vanity, trying to rile up the man into hurting him. “Grandpa. Grandpapa. I dun’ like i…” He sighed and closed his heavy eyes as his stomach began to complain. “Hungry.” He said, looking down at his lap forlornly.

 

“You did miss several inflight meals. It was a shame that you didn’t wake for at least one of them. It wasn’t particularly half bad. Well, not to worry, the city is only an hour away.” Hannibal smiled, wondering if he could ever talk to Will like this when he’s sober.

 

‘Of course. Time heals all things.’ He thought with a foolish sense of optimism. The man couldn’t help himself. He’s been staring at Will for so long that now that he’s here, a new sense of home he couldn’t help but to touch him every few minutes, just to make sure that he’s really there.

 

“What city? Where are you taking me?” Will grumbled.

 

“Home.” He took Will’s jaw in hand and gently turned him towards the statue of liberty in the distance. Will squinted.

 

“New Jersey?”

 

“Oh, perish the thought.” Hannibal exclaimed, aghast by the notion of settling for the neighboring state when the superior one was just a bridge away. “I have a private townhouse on a lovely corner of the upper west side. I think you would enjoy the place.”

 

“…th’ place not th’ problem.” Will complained, smushing his face against the window as he slid down against the glass, succumbing to sleep and exhaustion.

 

It’s unfortunate that he had to reduce Will to such a state, but grief and anger were powerful catalysts for unfortunate behaviors. Knowing Will’s personality, it’s only a matter of time before he tried to do something rash. Hannibal wouldn’t expect anything less from someone as precocious as Will.

 

“It’s alright, my dear. Go ahead try your best. I will take on your wrath until you’re satisfied.” Hannibal murmured tenderly, taking Will’s hand to kiss it so he may sate his mounting appetite.  “I’ve learned my lesson. This time, I will never let you go.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Hannibal wore Hubris like he wore one of his suits of clashing patterns. It shouldn’t work, but the man pulled it off with a grace and confidence that would make a tragic Greek hero green with envy. It’s hard to not admire his audacity. The man used to be on the top of the FBI most wanted, but now there he was, standing in front of a Neo Gothic townhouse, happily explaining its history to his barely lucid guest. He even nodded to a passing policeman, cheerfully greeting him by name like they were friendly aquaintances.

 

“I can’t believe you didn’t even leave the states.” Will mumbled, swaying back and forth before grabbing onto a nearby pillar for support. A smile graced Hannibal’s face, fond and tender like it always was when they were in Baltimore.

 

“Sometime the best place to hide yourself is in plain sight.” Strong hands placed itself onto Will’s waist, urging him to hold onto him for support instead of the marble. Not that it they felt any different. Hannibal was just as sturdy, unyielding, and cold, both inside and out.

 

“Come. See the place that I made for us both.”

 

Those words shouldn’t arouse the nostalgic pang of sorrow that it did. Will was still heavily drugged, heavily so. Even so, through the haze of medication and mild irritation, the man was brought to the daughter that died by their hands. He wondered if Hannibal’s heart was still as broken as his was.

 

Why?’  Will wanted to ask. ‘Why bother making a place after he fucked up the chance for it the first time? Why search me out just when I’ve given up on you and found happiness? Why me? Why?’

 

Instead asking the questions he already knew the answer to, Will remained quiet, swallowing his curiosity and his pride as he pretended not to care or feel.

 

He’s a monster and you are his prisoner, nothing more.’ The man firmly reminded himself while secretly wishing for Hannibal not to let go. It would’ve been easier if he was more of an asshole, but the man was civil, kind even, and it made the task of hating him even harder.

 

Afterall, even when he plunged that knife deep into his stomach Will still couldn’t hate Hannibal.

 

They entered the house and was greeted by an interior as stunning as the façade. Everything was newly remodeled and decorated beautifully. It’s not as full and curated as his Baltimore home was, but Will knew that it will soon change. Hannibal was a maximalist by nature. He will fill every empty space with statues, books, and other beautiful and interesting things. ‘Just as he hopes to place me in the empty space in his bed.’

 

The thought disturbed him deeply, because even in his drugged state, Will could feel the familiar desire in a pair of eyes so similar to his husband’s.

 

Hannibal deposited him on a sunlight sofa filled with a disturbing number of decorative pillows. It faced a generous window that gave way to a view of Central Park, a coveted sight only a few could afford to have, yet the soundproof walls and double paned glass kept the bustle and noise of the city well outside, allowing a measure of serenity inside the opulent home.

 

‘But that means no one outside could hear me even if I scream my lungs out.’ The somber thought entered Will’s mind. It’s impressive how Hannibal managed to secure this level of privacy in a city of millions. He wouldn’t be surprised if he had continued his sick little hobbies and carried on eating the rude.

 

The thought irritated Will, not for the taboo of consuming human flesh and the injustice of Hannibal’s numerous crimes, but because even after all this time, the man had landed on his feet, thriving and carrying on like he usually was.

 

Will had hoped that Hannibal had suffer and pined for him like he did. Looking at his surroundings, the man realized just how futile it was to expect the great Doctor Lecter to be bothered by anything.

 

He ended up venting out his frustration onto a zebra print pillow, swiping it off its perch in a weak attempt at defiance.

 

If Hannibal was unhappy by his childish outburst then he gave no indication of being so. The man merely picked up the discarded pillow and replaced it behind Will’s head, tutting at his terrible posture and thin frame.

 

“You need to eat more Will. No matter how well you carry it, a waifish look does not become you.” Will laughed sardonically at his comment, but Hannibal remained close and caressed his travel worn hair, closing his eyes as he openly breathed in his scent.

 

Will smelled unwashed and foreign, like butter and cheese and the touch of another. Yet underneath all of that, he remained the same, feverish with passion with a deep note of sweetness that was uniquely his alone.

 

It was enough to drive Hannibal mad with lust.

 

Will should snarl. He should chomp and bite the man for even daring to touch him like this, but Will needed his touch more than he cared to admit. Being with Nigel has changed him. Where he used to balk at human contact, now the man craved the contact presence of a strong, possessive hand. A moment without it leaves him touch starved and unbalanced, like a spinning top losing velocity, ready to topple without the violent force of another’s touch.

 

As loathed as he was to admit it, Hannibal’s hand brought him the same comfort and relief that Nigel did, and Will hated himself for falling back into the tired routine of a weak needy man. With Nigel we was strong, growing back to the splendor before Gabi’s traumatizing arrival.

 

Now, he was reduced back to this silly little victim.

 

“There are so many things for us to talk about,” Hannibal mused, taking a seat on the arm of the sofa. “-but I find that I could be content if we just stay like this forever. “

 

The vulnerability in his words made Will want to scream.

 

“And just how do you think we are going to be Doctor?” Will slurred, unwilling to give him an inch of reprieve. “Friendly roommates? Fuckbuddies? Or, what was that insipid thing Freddie called us? Murde-”

 

“Murder husband.” Hannibal replied, completely serious in tone and expression that he almost looked angry. He settled back, hiding his passion under practiced nonchalance. “It’s hardly insipid if it sells pageviews, Will.”

 

Wills scoffed. “Only to those who believes it. Do you doctor?” Hannibal didn’t reply, which was a response for Will in itself. “My god.” Will sneered viciously  you really bought into her whole schtick, didn’t you?”

 

“I don’t need Freddie Lounds to convince me of something I already know is true.” Hannibal rebuffed his accusations with ease, unbothered by Will’s aggression. “I remembered what we did Will. We transformed Randal together, we plotted and made out escape out of that prison transport. Then, we faced a dragon and proved to him that he was a man after all.” Long fingers carded deeper, scratching Will’s scalp and sending shivers down his back. “Let bleating sheep call it whatever they want. We both know that what we shared that night. What we still have.”

 

“That was more than a year ago Hannibal.” Will deflected. “Things change.”

 

“Can they really change so drastically?” Hannibal insisted. “My sentiment for you remains the same, even through distance and time. I have great hope that yours did not change either.”

 

“And what sentiment was that? The twisted, murderous kind that made you leave me in that beach to die?”

 

That little quip made Hannibal’s chest rumble with laughter. “If I wanted to kill you, my dear, I would’ve done so easily. I simply took some time for myself.” Hannibal smiled, leaning close, itching just to touch him. “Can you truly blame me for doing so? I just regained my freedom, and you did throw us off a cliff.” he chided.

 

“It was necessary.” Came the terse reply. Will’s answer only made Hannibal laugh even harder.

 

“I see. After we partook in a shared transcendence, your first instinct was to pull us over the cliff.” He could sense Hannibal’s frustration seeping through the cracks, but his hands remained gentle as it always was. “Did you wanted to surprise me like you did with Jack? Or were you so blinded by bloodlust that you needed to take more?” He hummed, truly unbothered by Will’s past transgression.

 

“You’re wrong.” Will hissed between gritted teeth.

 

“Oh?”

 

“My first instinct wasn’t to kill you. It was to come to you.” Will snapped, remembering every heaving breath and trembling touch that they shared on top of the bluff. This time his answer stopped Hannibal’s hand. He didn’t pull away.

 

Will sighed and shook his head, hoping that his legs could support him as he tried to stand alone. Hannibal immediately came to his side, helping him up with his arms that never faltered.

 

“Yes. You did came to me first, didn’t you my dear?” The man whispered, pulling Will into his arms. They replaying that glorious moment again with their bodies, the trembling anticipation, the tentative needful touches.

 

It’s beautiful.’  Will wanted to say

 

Realizing just how close he was to saying them out loud, Will grasped Hannibal’s shoulder and tried to push him away. The hands on his waist held him close, pulling him closer and closer until Will all but melted against the unnervingly familiar body.

 

Hannibal cradled his head and nuzzled against him. “Whenever the need to look for you overwhelmed me, I would sate my hunger with that memory.” He confessed, quiet and vulnerable.

 

“Was it enough?” Will asked, eyes prickling with tears when he breathed in Hannibal’s scent.

 

The man only replied with a gentle shake of his head. “I remained hungry for you, my dear. Only you can cease it’s gnawing presence.”

 

You should’ve sated your hunger with me instead of leaving me to flounder alone.’ Will thought bitterly, but he remained silent, knowing that if he opened his lips he would just say something he will regret in the future.

 

He may have left his ring back in Paris, but he still remembered his vows.

 

“I’m tired.” Will mumbled curtly, dropping his hand from his shoulder because he couldn’t trust himself not to pull the man closer. Hannibal nodded empathically and pulled away, respecting the man’s need for distance. Will would come around, but it will not happen in the span of a few hours. Not that it mattered to him. Hannibal was willing to wait for a thousand years if it meant that Will would truly be his.

 

He guided Will up the oak staircase and into his room, turning down the sheets for him and helped him into bed. Will didn’t argue. He didn’t want to. It felt good not to think and just be taken care of, even if it was by a man as terrible as Hannibal.

 

“I’ll be right outside. Do call when you need me.” The man said, taking the liberty to pull off Will’s smudged-up glasses and placing it neatly on the nightstand Will didn’t reply. There was nothing else he wanted to say.

 

“Oh and Will?” Hannibal called from the doorway, his voice cheery and bright. Will had expected the man to look smug, lording over the small victories he held over him, but Hannibal only looked hopeful, and his yearning gaze was harder to accept the cruel violence Will was so used to expect.

 

“Welcome home.”

 

 

**

 

Will slept like the dead and woke up alone, bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun. The room was lovely, decorated in shades of earthy ochre and grey. There was a wooden work table pushed up against the corner of the room, generously sized with empty drawers, waiting to be filled with various creations. On top of it sat a set of lure crafting tools, still pristine in its shrink wrapped packaging, tempting him to open it.

 

Hannibal wasn’t lying when he said that he made a place for him. There were various books scattered on the shelves, some on fishing and lure making, others on history and engineering. There were also a number of topics on passing interest he mentioned to the man back when they were in Baltimore, and it astounded him that Hannibal remembered the little minutia of their passing conversation.

 

A blurry picture hung above the table, and without his glasses Will had to come close to make out the ambiguous blobs, the work drawing him like moth to a flame.

 

The edges of the paper looked brittle and had begun to yellow, telling him that the piece had probably been an antique. Upon closer inspection Will could make out a watercolor painting of a house in a field, with small dots of dogs playing in the distance and two silhouette watching in the distance.

 

It reminded him of his Wolf Trap home, but somehow the memory was not unpleasant. That house has always been his safe space, and to have a vague reminder of it here filled him with a strange sense of gratitude.

 

A new image entered his mind, one where Hannibal glided through the city only to be stopped by a trinket that reminded him of Will. A book on motor engines, a set of tools and threads, a humble painting amongst masterpieces auctioned off for millions. The man would drop the pretense of his new life existence and allowed himself to remember him, naively endearing in his confidence in Will’s return.

 

It was then that Will knew that if he didn’t safeguard his heart, one day he will wake up and find himself falling in love with Hannibal anew.

 

Suddenly everything was too much. The high celling and open windows felt as small as his childhood trailer. Will stumbled away from the painting, grabbing onto the wall for purchase, almost knocking an expensive looking stag paperweight that looked eerily similar to the ravenstag of his dreams.

 

When the sharp stab of dread consumed his chest, Will drew his knees to his chest and tried to focus on his breathing. When that didn’t work he counted the books lining the shelves. He tried every self-soothing method he had worked on before, but they all failed, and Will was all but convinced that he will die there, suffocating amongst luxuries he did not deserve.

 

Just as his heart began to hammer painfully against his chest, his door opened and Hannibal stepped in, leading with his nose. “Will?” he asked, concern evident in his voice. The man scanned the empty room and quickly found Will on the ground, curled up like a freshly rescued trauma victim, his eyes still wild and afraid.

 

Hannibal came to him and kneeled, folding his bulk in to an unthreatening size as he offered up a hand to Will. “Will, are you alright? Tell me what-“

 

There was nothing he could say that could ease his silent breakdown. Will launched himself off his perch and pressed his body against Hannibal’s, clutching his shoulders in a painful hug. “I can’t- Don’t…. please.” He mumbled, pushing deeper into the man’s arm, and instinctively Hannibal returned the touch, knowing what he needed before he even had to ask.

 

Like a drop of ink dispersing in the water, so too did Will’s terror began to dissolve. His heart no longer slammed against his ribcage and breathing felt manageable. A solid hand ran up and down his back, almost uncomfortably intimate yet painfully necessary.

 

“I have you Will. You are safe.” Hannibal murmured, and it calmed Will down enough that he managed to eek out a strangled scoff that made them both smile

 

Chapter Text

“How long have you been suffering from anxiety?”

 

Bouncing legs jostled the water in the decorative vase, the single lone peony trembling as the fissures on Will’s mind manifested into localized tremors.

 

“Oh I suffer alright, but not from anxiety.”

 

The disapproval on Hannibal’s face was enough to make Will’s face flush red with shame.

 

Come now, Will. You may lie to other people, but you don’t have to lie to me.” A red dish of lacquered wood glinted as it was placed before him. Two innocuous pills rolled around, moved by the nervous bouncing of his feet, looking less like tic tacs and more like jumping beans for his addled brain.

 

Will was familiar enough with their sort. He swallowed handfuls of them during his time in the FBI that he wont need the glass of cold water that Hannibal has helpfully supplied.

 

“No thank you. I don’t need it. I was recovering just fine. Nigel was helping me get better.”

 

“Ah, but Nigel isn’t a psychiatrist, and you’re still not better, are you Will?”

 

There was no answer at would’ve made him sound any less traitorous, so Will just sat in silence, absorbed by the condensation in the glass of water while pretending to not to notice the eerie resemblance between his husband and his captor.

 

It’s impossible to do so. Even with his grown beard and glasses, Hannibal still looked like himself. No disguise could ever dampen the roguish spark in those intelligent eyes, or conceal those highly arched bone structures. Through their desperation, Hannibal remained as handsome as he remembered him, though Will could never really forget him, for he lives forever between his thoughts and at the edges of his mind.

 

If he couldn’t escape Hannibal while he was with Nigel, the inverse held true now that he was away from his husband. Nigel didn’t materialize as nightmarish hallucinations, but remnants of his ghost remains in the afterimages of Hannibal’s presence.

 

The veins on the back of his hand reminded Will of Nigel’s strong grip on his hips, the sight of his back brought memories of lazy evenings where they would lean against each other and pretend not to cuddle. Even his sigh summoned phantom scent of his musk and cigarette.

 

Nigel was present. He was there, and Will wanted to respect his wishes even if his health demands otherwise.

 

“I’m not taking them.”

 

Will had hoped that his brusque answer would finally make Hannibal lose his temper. He doesn’t particularly want to bear the burnt of his anger, but it would’ve been nice to see him explode out of his meticulous person suit be as uncontrolled as Will was.

 

Alas, Hannibal’s façade remained intact, a well-maintained masterpiece devoid of the craquelure that other pieces might develop.

 

“When you fall ill, you have no problem medicating your body. Why do you oppose on medicating your mind?”

 

“Because I don’t know what kind drugs you’re making me take, Doctor. After what happened between us, trust remained a scarce resource. I rather not give it out freely.”

 

As if he was ready to ease Will’s suspicion, Hannibal produced two strips of pills and offered it to him for inspection.

 

“It’s only Zoloft and Lexapro. It will ease some of the worst symptoms, calm your nervous system, and hopefully help with your appetite.”

 

“Why do you even care? Just kill me already. There’s no need for all of this nonsense.”

 

Will wasn’t ready to see the heartbreak spread from Hannibal’s furrowed brow to the rest of his face. It was too reminiscent of an expression to the one he wore when he killed Abigail

 

His heart still ached when he think about her.

 

“I haven’t hurt you once Will, is it so hard to believe that I don’t want you to see you suffer?”

 

If he wasn’t so hateful then Will would’ve eaten that whole spiel up, hook, line, and sinker. ‘Masterful.’ He thought, desperately telling himself that the guilt he felt was nothing more than the result of Hannibal’s manipulations.

 

“You have to forgive me for being so distrustful.” Will pointed to his forehead, forcing himself to relish in the way Hannibal’s face paled at the scar’s attention. “You have a history of inflicting unnecessary pain, Doctor.”

 

“And it hurts me every time I do so. Truly. We are conjoined. I should’ve cherished you then so I might spare us the pain and distance we now bear.”

 

Hannibal reached over and placed a hand on his shoulder, and Will couldn’t even move because he craved the intimate touches his body has grown so accustomed to.

 

Instead of shrugging him off, Will merely scoffed and gave him a mocking look of apprehension. “I never pegged you as someone that balks at the face of pain.”

 

“Witnessing yours is a form of torture unto itself Will.”

 

“I don’t believe you.”

 

“Ah.” The doctor pulled his hand away, shoving it down his pockets to hide the frustrated twitch of his finger. He looked away pensively, gracing Will with the blessed sound of silence that only lasted seconds. “Then please, let me explain.” Hannibal said before looking at Will that that uncomfortable expression again.

 

“You are the most fearsome man that has ever graced this earth, capable of great wonder and cruelty with the very same stroke of a hand. Yet here you are, willingly submitting yourself to a life of regular terror and physical pain. And for what? A promise to an insecure man whose main concern was about owning you?  Or do you allow yourself to be weak and endure humiliation out of some misguided spite for me?”

 

Hannibal sighed, exhaling his frustration as he fell to his knees like a desperate supplicant before a king. He took off his glasses and rubbed the space where spectacle sat. There was no façade there. No craquelure where emotions may seep, for Hannibal was without his suits and masks, driven to exasperation by his own compassion for the man.

 

“You should only ever tremble in pleasure, never in dread. Will you remain buried under your trauma, or will you allow me to help you shed it off like an ill-fitting coat? Surely you cannot be at home as this scared little boy. You are more than what you’ve become, and it ache to see you so limited once more.”

 

If he did not speak the truth then Will wouldn’t have cared, but Hannibal gave voice the doubts shambling in the attics of his mind. How could he not be moved? There he was, a man unbowed whilst in ropes and imprisonment, kneeling for him.

 

Must I beg, dearest? Will you take your medicine then?”

 

There was a thousand different ways Will could’ve reacted to that. He could say something as hurtful and manipulative as Hannibal did in the past. He could also reply with something tender, a shield to hide his anger and defiance behind. He could scream. He could sob. He could fall into his arms and pretend it was Nigel’s.

 

Out of a thousand different response, none were as satisfying and true as the silence Hannibal’s words has rendered him to.

 

It was both a quiet acceptance and an icy rejection. There was hope in his uncertain blue eyes, yet he threw his gaze away as if the mundanity of life outside the was more interesting than Hannibal’s proffered submission. The silence was as paradoxical as the man himself, unpredictable cruel and beautiful beyond words

 

Will wanted to say yes, to fall back to that familiar dynamic and say “Help me.” But it wouldn’t be right to do, not after what happened with Nigel.

 

At the face of his dismissal, Hannibal face dropped and his body stiffen in anger. He stood up briskly, his face unreadable and flat as a circling shark around a wounded prey. Will’s body coiled and tensed in response, expecting to be physically coerced, the fucked, then adored with the affectionate violence that his husband lavishes onto him daily.

 

Will was prepared for all sorts of sordid traumatic mess, but the man was not prepared for gentle hands to cradle his head and a soft sigh of resignation.

 

“I’m ready to help you, Will, but only if you ask me to. It’s your choice. Despite my natural inclination I will not force you to take anything you don’t want. That’s not how I want us to be. Not anymore.”

 

The man then left him alone and disappeared into bathroom, door cracked open for Will’s comfort. The warmth of his hands remained, seared into the back of his skull as Will stared down at his offering, relief in a form of two simple pills. His legs no longer bounced, for they’ve been anchored to the ground by the creeping dread crawling up his body. It’s pathetic how quickly he spiraled when he’s alone, even if the bathroom door remined cracked and he knows that the man was just ‘right fucking there, calm down Graham. Don’t lose your head. Be strong. Gods, at least pretend to try for Nigel.’

 

It’s strange that only a few months ago he was begging Nigel for these very same medication in front of him. Now that Will was practically a prisoner, they’re suddenly available, offered freely by the man he wished he could hate. It made him resent Nigel’s stubbornness, for if he allowed him to get better earlier, he wouldn’t be here, forced to choose between anguish and relief.

 

‘Nigel just don’t want you drugged out of your mind. Hannibal has no problem with a compliant, subdued doll. It’s that simple, remember that.’ Will thought to himself. Yet no matter how many times he repeated those words, they still sounded like a substitute to the uncomfortable truth.

 

Nothing seemed right to him anymore. He was like a veteran of war, flinching at the slightest breeze and expecting gunfire and shells.

 

“Is it so hard to believe that I don’t want you to see you suffer?”

 

On the contrary, believing Hannibal felt like second nature to him. Will wanted to wade into the gentle stream of his words, to be pliant and complacent as Hannibal takes care of his needs and wants. They’ve spent years in that sort of dynamic, the doctor and patient, the give and take of friendship that resembled marriage more than sheer comradeship

 

‘And they’re all based on lies. Your real spouse lay in Europe with bullets in his body. You are a prisoner, Graham, and he’s your jailer. Don’t forget that.’

 

Will knew that fact, memorized it like a mantra to ward off the seductive promise of reconciliation.

 

And yet in his stubborn defiance his heart still raced, his chest feels like it’s been caved in, and dread came to him with the ruthlessness of an invading force. Will felt defenseless, and he was absolutely sick of it. He carried enough wounds and traumas to last a lifetime. If one can be eased off, shrugged off like an ill-fitting coat, as Hannibal said, then there’s no good reason why he shouldn’t swallow his pride along those goddamn pills.

 

“Aren’t I better than some pill that’ll just numb your emotions and make you blue? Havent I taken care of you? Held you? Haven’t I been good enough to you darling?”

 

The memory of that exchange made Will pause, hand barely curled around those pills.

 

“You have been my medicine, my life. But you’re not here anymore baby.” He said out loud. He opened his eyes, expecting the ghost of his husband to look down at him accusingly, but he remained alone on the table, and for once he was relieved by his husband’s absence.

 

“To relief.” Will toasted alone, taking the pills and before his guilt could stupefy him into stillness.

 

**

 

 

“You shaved.” Will mentioned, dumfounded at the sight of Hannibal’s clean-shaven face. The small eerie similarities that reminded him of Nigel was gone, for Hannibal’s bare face held a gravitas that made it impossible to mistake him for anyone else.

 

“And you’ve taken your medicine.” The man smiled approvingly. He strode over in a casual version of a fresco suit, substituting usual vest and tie with a bright mustard shirt that Will just couldn’t take his eyes off from.

 

If there’s anything Hannibal enjoyed more than music, food, and wine, it’s the begrudging look of appreciation that his dearest couldn’t help but give him.

 

Upon realizing Hannibal’s scrutiny, Will turned away, his gaze pulled back to the darkened windows. There wasn’t much to see except for the faint glow of the park lights, and yet he seek it out like a wolf seeks out the comfort of his den.

 

“How are you feeling?” Hannibal asked, placing his coat aside so he could move further into Will’s personal space.

 

“I feel…” The man frowned, blinking at the intense emotions that swelled with Hannibal’s approach. “…An uneasy surge of optimism and …” He licked his lips, feeling strangely dry as he forced himself to look at Hannibal again. “… rapid palpitation. Are you sure this is how it’s supposed to feel like?”

 

Aside from the platinum rimmed glasses and his chin length hair, the man looked very much the same, a specimen perfectly preserved without a crease or pore out of place.

 

“Zoloft and Lexapro works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. It offsets the feeling of dread and anxiety, which could explain the sudden burst of optimism. As for the palpitations-” Hannibal took his pulse as he examined his face, catching the lingering glances Will sometimes threw his way.

 

“Your pulse is indeed racing, but everything is still within normal boundaries.” Said the doctor as he gave will a conspiratorial look. “I’m glad you approve of the change, Will.” He said, attributing Will’s racing heart for attraction. “I was worried that you preferred the look of an older man.”

 

“I don’t particularly care about your grooming habits, Doctor.” Will deftly lied, a vulgar habit that should offend Hannibal’s sense of propriety but only served to amuse him. Afterall, Will’s lies are as beautiful as his honesty, holding an almost a childlike quality that makes Hannibal want to corrupt him even in adulthood.

 

“I see. My mistake then. Shall we?” Hannibal stood aside and offered his hand, leading his guest through their home with his hand on the small of his back.

 

Will knew he should pull away, but his body needed these small increments of touches. A life with Nigel has changed him, leaving Will almost addicted to the casual possessiveness that permeated the man’s every movement. Without it, his body ached, put in painful withdrawal so he would seek anything out just to get his fix.

 

Not everything.’ A prideful part of him said. Maybe one day his senses would erode, and weakness would overwhelm his pride, but today he will remain strong, and no amount of careful flirting and tender moments could make him forget that even without his ring, Will Graham remained a married man.

 

 

***

 

The level of surrealism Will experienced with Hannibal sometimes makes him wonder if he’s wading through dreams instead of normal reality. At first it was the hallway, the mild blue and puce wallpaper that was so reminiscent of his waiting room in Baltimore. When Hannibal opened the door to the library, Will had to blink and rub his eyes.

 

“What the hell is this?”

 

Beyond the doorway was an exact replica of Hannibal’s old office, complete with the sprawling mezzanine bookcases and colored curtains that looked like bright venomous snakes. Everything was the same, down to the last bend of the bonsai tree that was placed between those horrendous curtains.

 

As if the man had anticipated Will’s anger, Hannibal chuckled and tried to pat his back reassuringly. “I thought that a familiar setting might help you settle in.”

 

“Right.” Came the cautious reply.

 

“Your comfort is my outmost priority, Will.”

 

“So you replicated your old office.” Will stepped in, gazing at the bronze statue sitting on the pedestal. “Must’ve taken a lot of time and effort.”

 

“Yes.” Hannibal said proudly, surveying their surrounding with fond nostalgia.

 

“And here I thought your kidnapping scheme was a spontaneous decision.” Will said accusingly. Hannibal followed him and stepped through the door, leading Will to the chaise longue so he could ingratiate himself further with his body. The man remained standing, stoic and unmoved by his gestures and words.

 

“My dearest, I always planned on bringing you back into my life. Construction began long before you resigned from the FBI.”

 

“Oh that’s fucking hilarious.” Will seethed.

 

“You’re angry.”

 

“Of course I am! If you always planned on taking me with you then why even leave in the first place!” ‘Why did you let me find my own happiness before you reach out and offer me yours?’

 

Hannibal grabbed Will’s waist and pulled him to face him, wiping the angry tears that the man didn’t even know he shed. Regret colored his every move, seeking forgiveness without uttering a single apology.

 

“I gave you three years to seek me out Will. Three good years of my life spent in voluntary penance.  You eventually came, yes, but my dear, you were terribly ungrateful for it.” Hannibal stepped closer, body pressed flush against Will’s, strong hand holding him still, only allowing enough space for them to breathe.

 

“So you wanted me to pay for my ingratitude. To suffer like you did.” He growled. “To pine.”

 

“Yes.” Hannibal grinned. “Even Stevens.”

 

“Is that how is this going to be between us? One transgression repaid after another?” Will hissed spitefully, shoving Hannibal away despite the blessed relief that his touch brought him.

 

“While I enjoy the parity it brings, life often doesn’t work in poetic pentameter.”

 

“No it doesn’t.” Will sighed and touched the ragged scar on his jugular. “I did pine. I ached and searched and drowned myself in guilt.” The man confessed readily. “I still do, but this anguish isn’t for you anymore Doctor.”

 

Hannibal looked like he was going to say something in reply, but Will already walked away and settled in his old seat, eyes closed so he could retreat into the prison of his own mind. When Hannibal came to card his fingers through his hair, Will imagined nicotine stained fingers and the scent of smoke and gunpowder

 

“I have some errands I need to run, but I’ll try and be back as soon as I can.” Hannibal had said, muffled as Will sunk deeper into himself. “If you like, we can go out for a walk tomorrow. How does that sound?”

 

‘Like a fucking dog. You’re a pet now Graham. Lay down. Roll over. Speak.’

 

“Fine.” He muttered through gritted teeth, but everything has already gone pleasantly hazy and calm. In the distance he could make out the slam of a door and the clicking lock of the door. Alone at last Will opened his eyes and found Nigel sitting sprawled in Hannibal’s seat, as ephemeral as the smoke from his cigarette.

 

“Hello there gorgeous.” The man greeted him, perfectly preserved in his memory down to the very glint of his mischievous red eyes.

 

“I miss you.” Will whispered.

 

“Then come find me.” The man strode over with the bravado of a king. “Till death do us part darling, remember?”

 

“Yes.” Will gasped, his wounds reopening anew as he dug his fingers into them, eliciting pain and bravery for what he’s about to do.

 

Chapter Text

 

The lavish club looks different at night than it was in the daytime. In the morning the blackout curtains would be drawn aside to allow light into the intimate space, bathing it with a glow only found in a sunny Spanish terrace.

 

When the sun sets the curtains drew close and transformed the space in a darkened museum, where the only exhibits were living artists, showing off their craft to New York musical elites whose as hungry for new talents as they were for success.

 

Hannibal was the purveyor of such talents. He served up new blood for those with discerning ears, and his audience always have their fill.

 

They’re made up of musical directors from both live stages and silver screens, faculty members from prestigious musical schools, and producers of chart-topping music, and even rich socialites, just to name a few. The nameless little midtown club was a veritable scouting ground for them, a public secret, and though many desired get in, only a select few were even given the invitation.

 

For a while his new life was enough to distract him from the heartbreak of Will’s betrayal. The man was eager to gorge himself in the culture and art he missed during his incarceration, surrounding himself with beautiful music so that he could turn a deaf ear to his own heart’s longing.

 

If he never met Will Graham, Hannibal would’ve been satisfied with this new life of his. It afforded him with prestige, money, and respect amongst peers truly worthy of their stations, yet despite all the comfort and luxury of this newfound life, Hannibal spent most of his free time inside his head, pulling out memories like one would select wine, savoring it as he waited for the clock on Will’s punishment to run out.

 

Hannibal had a plan, he always does, but he didn’t account for the intensity of his own emotion towards his beloved.

 

It’s maddening to settle for mere sips of memories when he knows he could simply look for the man and bestow his forgiveness, but Hannibal was as patient as he was cruel.  He wanted Will to know the pain of separation, to feel just how empty his life would be after the ineffable experience of their becomings.

 

A part of him hoped that he would recover from this maddening malady. It made him weak when all his life he had struggled to be strong, a vulnerable chink in his armor only Will knew how exploit and repair.

 

Thankfully the man was as prideful and stubborn as Will was, blinding him to the possibility of his own magnificence. How terrible would it be if Will realized the extent of his own power and used it to break him. It would end him, for how could Hannibal resist such alluring creature that would beckon him to serve?

 

But for now, they will remain as they were, a warden and his captive, a familiar role they both knew how to play.  For as much as Hannibal wanted to fall to his knees and worship him, he was not ready to relinquish such power to someone who just wasn’t ready to appreciate such a gift.

 

***

 

“Clifford!” The familiar name prompted Hannibal to put on a practiced smile. “We were just talking about you!”

 

“Good evening everyone. What did I miss?” Hannibal inclined his head in greeting, deferential but friendly to his friends that also happens to be his clients.

 

“Last Friday’s concert was absolutely been abysmal!”

“Kevin was eager for the chance, I’m sure, but the man has no ear for music nor eye for décor. We ended up in a warehouse like some city college drum circle.”

“Which, of course, has it’s appeal, but the acoustic was just terrible!”

“And you missed opening night. Maliah was beside herself. You know that she only got her role because of you, right?”

“Can we not talk about that self-important cow? Look at him! My, my, Cliff. I never knew you were such a looker!”

 

He smiled and let them prattle along, nodding and responding whenever necessary without revealing too much of himself. They weren’t unpleasant people, just excitable creatives eager to secure their place as his friends.

 

“I apologize for my absence. There was a matter of outmost importance that I needed to attend to.” Hannibal said, pulling out a chair and waving for the barman for a drink.

 

“Ah, it’s about the Amati isn’t it? The one you wouldn’t sell me.” An older lady snorted and upturned her nose in mock indignation. The crowd gasped and tittered excitedly.

 

“What a waste! You shouldn’t have sold it! Do you know how rare it is for something like that to come into circulation?”

“More importantly, How in the world did you come across such treasure!”

“Of course, only you could manage to get your hands on a century old Italian violin. You must tell us your secret.”

 

“It’s a cello,” Hannibal chuckled, “-and I only had it for a few weeks before I traded it for something much more valuable.”

 

“What could possibly be more valuable than an Amati… Oh! Don’t tell me! You’ve found yourself a Stradivarius, haven’t you!” every single pair of eyes zeroing in onto him, waiting for his answer with bated breath.

 

“I’m afraid I can’t divulge that information.” The group instantly deflated at his answer. “…but I can tell you that it sings quite beautifully.” Hannibal smiled, remembering Will’s staccato little whimpers as he held him in his arms.

 

The group tittered and laughed amongst themselves, happy for a new gossip fodder to circulate around their exclusive little group. Hannibal just sat back and sipped on his cocktail, opening his leather-bound book, his fountainpen poised at the ready.

 

 “Alright then. Are we settled in? Now, let’s see the new fresh talents you’ve brought for me.”

 

 

***

 

Despite of his many attempt to keep their conversations brief, the meeting had dragged on longer than Hannibal had planned. The man bid his guests goodbye, and his pocketbook filled with prospective new talents to scout in the coming week. What used to be a pleasant distraction sat heavily on him like a dreaded chore. Now that he has Will, he has no need for such forgettable amusements.

 

Though a part of him wanted to halt his everyday routine and just spend his every waking moment with Will, the more rational side of him knew that such a thing would not be sustainable.

 

Even when he was sick and needy, Will remained a fiercely independent man. His hovering would not inspire him any affection. Instead Hannibal has to make do with his half-conveyed affection and wait until Will learn to crave his company again.

 

It strange to know that he no longer needs to visit his memory palace to see the man. In his absence Will had entrench himself in Hannibal’s mind. Not a room in his memory palace was empty, for Will loitered around the halls, taunting Hannibal with his ephemerality.

 

Hannibal wished he could put the man in a glass cage, not as a safeguard against any attempts of escape, but just so he could sit before him and marvel at the man from a distance.

 

How strange that one could find beauty in a man so adverse to the concept. His hateful glares and muted words were as beautiful as memories of is smiles and tender gazes. They further inflamed his desire to conquer the indominable man, to overwrite the suck marks on his necks and replace it with scars of his own making.

 

Will wore them proudly, those marks from his previous plaything, almost flaunting them to bait out Hannibal’s irritation. There’s something quite endearing about it, because despite claims of disinterest, Will obviously cared enough to want to antagonize him.

 

Stubborn boy.’ Hannibal thought fondly as he made his way into his darkened home.

 

A faint thudding from the ceiling caught his attention, which immediately forced Hannibal to reconsider that thought.

 

He cracked open the door to his office and found the place in complete disarray.

Everything aside from the upper mezzanine were thrown aside and dismantled into it’s base components. Chairs were upturned and glass tables smashed to bits. The metal frame of his sofa was bent out of shape, clearly used as a bludgeon against something impenetrable.

 

In front of the large windows Will sat wrapped in the torn-up curtain, his eyes gazing out to the twinkling city lights. He slowly rose, the curtains pooling at his feet like coiling snakes, devotees of this god Shiva made to flesh.

 

In one hand he held a piece of wood, splintered from some table or chair. His hands trembled from the aftermath of a panic attack, but they quickly steadied themselves against the very windows he tried to smash open.

 

“Oh dear.” Hannibal sighed and closed the door behind him. “Were you trying to redecorate, or should we add random outburst of anger into your list of symptoms?”

 

“It’s not random, Doctor.” Will replied tersely. His voice was hoarse. It sounded like he’s been screaming.

 

“A poorly planned escape then.” Hannibal hummed, wiping a speck of dust from the surface of a gleaming cupboard. “Thank you for sparing the books.” He nodded, truly grateful for their survival.

 

Will scoffed, tapping the wooden club against his knees in an unnerving pattern. Hannibal approached him, stopping when he saw Will mirroring his very step. He eyed the weapon warily. “Are you going to continue to be violent, Will?”

 

The man said nothing, but Hannibal could see a tense little smile glinting in the corner of his eyes. ‘Gorgeous.’ he thought fondly.

 

“Very well.” Hannibal off his jacket with a flourish and rolled up his sleeves. “I’m happy to entertain your whims until you tire yourself out.”

 

“Or you could just let me go.” Will retorted back. The simplistic suggestion made Hannibal laughed.

 

“I’m sorry my dear, but I have no intention of ever letting you go.”

 

“Figures.”

 

“You are so very important to me.”

 

“Right.”

 

“One day you will see that.”

 

“Doubt it.” Will cracked his neck and move to circle his captor, eyes searching for a weak spot to exploit. Hannibal turned around and grabbed his makeshift weapon, wrenching it out of Will’s hand and backhanding the man in the process. The man leapt back and wiped his split lips, chuckling at the blood that has stained his hand.

 

“I always knew you’re full of shit.” Will grinned, scoffed. “’I can’t bear to see you suffer’ my ass.”

 

Hannibal quirked his eyebrow and approached him with the languid power of a panther on a hunt. “Oh you will be in pain, but you will not suffer.” This time it was his turn to circle the man, flexing his arms in anticipation of the fight to come. “I’ll make sure you enjoy every cut, bruise, and bite that I give you.”

 

“And I’ll make you wish you never brought me back.” Will growled before leaping to attack the man with every intention of killing him.

 

 

 

***

 

 

“Fuck.” Will mumbled against the carpet pushed against his face. Every single one of his limbs were pinned against himself, held painfully tight by the man grinning victoriously down at him.

 

“An admirable effort, but you’re still far too light for such maneuver, dearest.” It was a lie. It was barely even an even fight. The man had overpowered him so completely that it felt like he was being toyed with.

 

Hannibal used his one free hand and leisurely slid it up and down Wills’ thighs, an attempt to calm him down. His touches turned clinical as he began noticing the slight muscles underneath the slack.

 

“No wonder you flew when I hit you. You are far too thin Will.” He chided, resting his hand on a knobby knee. “I shall have to endeavor to feed you better.” The man hummed, his voice taking on a rich seductive quality that made the man under him shiver.

 

“Enough, Hannibal. I mean it.” Will barked, struggling hard to buck the heavy man off his prone body. “Get off, get off, get the fuck off me!

 

Upon noticing his panicked tone Hannibal instantly released Will and kneeled on the floor next to him instead.

 

“I apologize my dear.” He sighed, rubbing the man’s heaving back as he desperately tried to control his breathing. Skilled hands that mercilessly twisted his limbs now brought relief as he massaged Will’s sore joints and aching muscles. “How’s that? Better?”

 

Will wanted to cry.

 

The man was right. He enjoyed every dull, smarting pain that Hannibal inflicted on him. It made him feel real when he all but floated in a haze of unreality in his hours alone, grounded, anchored, and safe from the turbulent wave of his inhospitable mind.

 

‘Just like Nigel used to do.’

 

He grabbed Hannibal’s hand when they reached his shoulders, forcing him to stop while demanding the presence of his touch.

 

“Did you have any attack while I’m gone?” Will nodded, not trusting himself to speak. “Was it as bad as it usually is?” He paused to consider his answer before shaking his head again. “Good. I’m glad the symptoms are improving with medication. That means we’re moving in the right direction with your treatment.”

 

“I wasn’t aware that locking in your patient and hurting them is also part of the treatment plan.” Hannibal merely laughed at his spiteful words.

 

“On the contrary. Bouts such as these are important in realigning the many misfiring neurons that governs your fear response. I just provided you with a safe environment to express frustration and experience pain. You may not be conscious of it, but your body is learning that there is minimal threat to your life, even when it is put in stressful situations.”

 

“Why do so much of what you say sound like bullshit?”

 

“Why are you in constant denial?” Hannibal answered back with the unjudgmental voice of a therapist.

 

It instantly brought Will back to simpler times, where he would brave the turbulent ocean of his mind with only Hannibal as his paddle. Will visibly winced as if the scar on his stomach still ached. Hannibal’s eyes instantly went to them, wishing he could see it for himself.

 

“I think answering that question would be much more helpful to your recovery than spouting out rude hypotheticals to wound me.” He gently said, caressing the nape of Will’s neck. Will hated everything about that moment, including his desire to shut the man up with the smothering on their lips. “…but we can save that question for another day. Come. I’ll make you something to eat.”

 

The simplicity of that request made Will laughed out loud. “What? That’s it? I tried to kill you and your reaction is to make me dinner?”

 

The doctor looked at him with the same look of concern one might look to a dog limping in pain.

 

“I am well aware of your murderous tendencies. It’s one of the very few things that makes you so terribly charming. Your resistance against food however, I can do without.” He stood up and offered his hand out to Will, who just stared at the perfect curves of his nailbed, wondering how many people he has killed in his absence.

 

“Will. You don’t expect me to leave you to starve now, will you? Come now.” He slung his jacket over his arm and opened the door for him. “Will?” Hannibal called again, frowning when the man didn’t respond.

 

“This is insane.” Will ground the heel of his palm into his eyes, wishing he could spontaneously combust like the stars sparkling behind his lids. “We can’t just have dinner after something like this.”

 

“And why shouldn’t we?”

 

“Because!” Will threw his hands out, exasperated by the man’s ever steady words. “I rather not sit there and pretend that everything is honky dory when I know your retribution is just around the corner.”

 

“Will.” The man chided in a disapproving tone.

 

“You know it’s true.” Will growled. “You like things equal, don’t you? Even Stevens. It not might be today, but I know you’ll fuck me over as payback for today.”

 

“I certainly will not.” He answered, aghast that Will would mention such a thing to him.

 

“Liar.”

 

Hannibal came over and kneeled in front of Will, placing a hand on the back of his nape and resting his forehead against his, completely unconcerned on the dangerous glares Will was sending his way.

 

“Dearest, you’re being quite difficult today, aren’t you?” He said almost teasingly.

 

“Stop.” Will hissed, pulling away from his comforting touches. “You don’t get to talk to me like that.”

 

“My apologies.” Hannibal relented, tilting Will’s jaw gently up, wishing he could brush his lips onto Will’s and have his kiss returned with equal passion.

 

Instead he gave the man space, staying close enough to stabilize Will’s unstable mind, yet far enough that the man still had space for himself. Will began clenching  and unclenching his hands, reaching up to the vicious scar on his jugular to reopen the small wounds again in a twisted attempt to soothe himself.

 

“Transitory panic disorder often stemmed from the subconscious stuck in an anticipatory state of danger.” Came the quiet explanation. “I would like to eliminate that anticipatory aspect from our lives entirely.”

 

Will listened on quietly, unwilling to show the man that he has piqued his interest.

 

“Once a week we shall meet here and do what we just did, sans the destruction of my furniture, of course.” A steady hand place itself on Will’s knee. “I would like to fight you dearest.”

 

Will crooked an eyebrow. “…You want to schedule danger, doctor?” he cackled, couldn’t help but exploding in laughter at the absurd proposition.

 

“Yes. I will not be violent with you in any other time. I don’t wish to cause you unnecessary distress.”

 

“Now that’s a lie.” The man bit back. “I can feel you smiling whenever you jab your elbows into my sides.”

 

“Of course. How can I not take pleasure in an act that gives you relief and pleasure in return?” Hannibal smiled, caressing the bruise forming under Will’s clothes.

 

“I…” The man slapped Hannibal’s hand aside and stood up, retreating to stand before the nest of blankets he’s made in front of the window.

 

“I don’t feel pleasure from pain doctor.” Will whispered, feeling warmth flush over his face at the implication. “I’m not interested in any of your mind games.” He said over the rush of blood soaring over his eardrums. “I won’t just stop just by pinning you down like you did to me.” Came the quiet confession. “I’ll kill you.”

 

A proud smile spread across Hannibal’s face. “Well you’re certainly welcomed to try.”

 

The answer made Will laughed, a conflicted little bark that quickly die down into a contemplative silence. “… You’re mad.”

 

“About you? Yes, completely.” Hannibal stood up and walked the man backwards, matching each steps until he was pushed against the thick glass window pane. Will threw his gaze away, his mind short circuiting as it readied itself for both pleasure and pain.

 

Yet as the seconds ticked by, the doctor did not touch him. He merely gaze at him like he was the most fascinating puzzle he’s ever laid his hands on.

 

Slowly he began tracing a single digit over the prominent line of Will’s jaw. “There are so many different ways to go about this, and here I am, choosing a scenario that would risk me my life.” Hannibal chuckled, shaking his head in disbelief. “The things you make me do, Will.”

 

“Just stop.” He hissed, placing a hand on Hannibal’s chest to stop him from moving closer, a futile attempt at staving off what they both know to be inevitable. “Why do you even bother with contrived shit like that?” Will wondered out loud, still unwilling to meet Hannibal’s eyes.

 

The man simply tilted his chin up and smiled, confident that his eyes would convey what Will wasn’t ready to hear.

 

“Come have dinner with me.” He murmured. This time Will agreed, knowing full well he couldn’t sustain a conversation with someone who delighted in eroding his defenses.

 

**

 

 

Living with Hannibal was like drowning in a melancholic melody, carried along it’s gentle stream by the exuberant undercurrent of his optimism. No matter how staunchly set his resolve was at the beginning of the day, by nighttime Will always found himself conversing with the man with the same familiarity and ease they had in the past.

 

Conversation flowed like wine at a Bacchanalia, sweet words interspersing the spirited discussion that made Will feel both warm and drunk at the same time. He never acknowledged any of Hannibal’s thinly veiled flatteries, yet the man continued on, treating Will like he was the most fascinating thing he had ever seen.

 

What’s more unnerving than the Hannibal’s incessant devotion was how much Will wanted to live up to the man’s fanciful thoughts.

 

They fell into the rhythm of existence like they’ve lived with each other their whole life. Will expected the man to grow bored or irate at his presence, but even after time has passed, they prove to be well suited to each other’s meticulous temperament.

 

On bad days where not even the medication could ease his jittery nerves, Hannibal would come to him, placating his needs without even being prompted too. It came in the form of gentle strokes, warm on his back, his head, his sensitive neck. It calmed him, anchoring Will to a reality where everything was safe and beautiful.

 

It hurt stop think just how wonderful they would’ve been without all of the blood and anguish that transpired between them.

 

They occupy each other’s spaces like sculptures in a gallery, giving each other respectable space to admire and be admired in return. Neither did it openly, at least Will didn’t, but they were aware of each other’s eyes and the desires hidden beneath the thin veil of civility.

 

That valuable space they cherished were promptly discarded when the first day of a new week rolls around. Their body clashed against each other as they try to best each other in combat. There was no gentle caress or tentative praises during that time. Hannibal’s hand brought pain and Will returned it in kind, the only words exchanged were their ragged grunts and Will’s gruff, “Get the fuck off me Hannibal.”

 

It always came when he was eventually bested.

 

With that one word they were transformed from beasts back into men. Hannibal would come alleviate the pain he inflicted, and Will would try and brush him aside. “Stubborn boy.” He always purred, so terribly low and fond that Will wished he could snapped his neck to spare him the torturous temptation.

 

“Do you miss teaching, Will?” Hannibal randomly asked while he dabbed away Will’s split lips. He has a matching one on the corner of his mouth, courtesy of Will’s sharp nails, but he always tended to Will before he even looked at any of his injuries.

 

Will didn’t answer. He didn’t trust himself not to talk about Bucharest, and once they talk about the city, Will knew that he would think about Nigel again. “There’s a lot of things I miss.” He deflected instead. “My dogs. The little stream near my house. Going outside.” Will said, blunt as ever.

 

“That can be arranged.” Hannibal smiled. “It’s cherry blossom season at the park. I would be happy to escort you for an afternoon stroll.”

 

Will scoffed at the very notion. He’s been in the house for weeks now, and never had Hannibal let him out of the house. “What’s the catch? Will you be handcuffing yourself to me?”

 

“Will you attempt another daring escape?” The silence around the man was an answer in it itself. “Then I’m afraid you’ll just have to endure my hands on you. Nothing too scandalous. Just a simple touch on your elbow, like this.” Hannibal demonstrated. “Unless you would prefer holding my hand?” He teased, ever the optimist.

 

“I rather wear a collar and leash.”

 

“Hm… Yes, they would look rather fetching on you.” Hannibal smiled, brushing away his chocolate curls so he could get a better look at his shifting eyes.

 

“Stop it.” Will growled like he always did, pushing Hannibal roughly away images of his belt around Nigel’s neck surfaced back into the forefront of his mind.

 

**

 

“You picked the perfect day for an outing Will, the weather is just wonderful.” Hannibal said, his hands tucked discreetly onto the crook of Will’s elbow. When Will would wander too far, his grip would turn as solid as steel, effectively chaining him with ease. There was no chance for Will to escape, and he wouldn’t dare risk another person’s life by signaling his distress.

 

Hannibal knew that about him and exploited it perfectly. So Will retreated inward, eyes watching the changing scenery as he resigned himself to his fate, biding his time for the perfect opportunity to make his move.

 

Somedays he forgot that he was doing such a thing. Life with Hannibal has become so pleasant that Will was numbed to his own desires. Something his medication was definitely contributing. Paris seemed like a recounted dream, or a movie he half remembered in passing conversation. The details were blurry and the characters faint, but through it all Will still remembered his husband.

 

He was slowly losing this war of attrition, bombarded by kindness and tempted to simply surrender into Hannibal’s peaceful embrace. Will was exhausted, dancing on the edge of his nerves from the violence his body has yet forget. The only reprieve he found lied in Hannibal’s constant companionship, something he used to crave before the lies and murder muddied their intentions.

 

Will knew he couldn’t keep this up. He has no more spite to give and his resentment has turned into gratitude and longing.

 

“Will?” Hannibal asked when Will stopped right in the middle of the road.

 

“I…I can’t.” Will hissed, wrenching his arms away from him. Hannibal’s hold remains unyielding and true.

 

“Are you having an attack?” The doctor asked, frowning at the idea of him regressing in his treatment. Will couldn’t utter a single word. Instead he just covered his face so the world couldn’t see the twisted thoughts in the expressions of his face.

 

As heartbreaking a step sight was, Hannibal relished the opportunity to comfort the man. With a gentle tug he pulled Will to the side, shielding himself from the curios onlooker that passed them by.

 

“My dear, enough is enough, don’t you think do?” The man whispered as he combed through his delicate curls. “Why do you torture yourself so over something so simple?”

 

“Because it’s not simple, is it?” Will gasped, fevered hand twisting in his hair until Hannibal took them into his own. “It’s never simple with you. There’s always layers after perverse layers and I don’t know how long I can keep going.”

 

A sad look passed over Hannibal’s face. He never did enjoy looking at Will suffering alone like this. The man could be so much more than just another tormented soul, but he remained stubbornly anchored to his past, unwilling to move forward and be branded as a traitor.

 

“It can be simple Will.” The man whispered. “You just need to be honest with yourself, and with me.”

 

Will only replied with a weak shake of his head, unable to trust himself from saying something he would soon regret.

 

They walked until they were alone, fallen petals cushioning their every steps. Hannibal took off his jacket and laid it down, motioning for Will to sit. The man did so without much complaint, going along as the man urged his head to rest on his chest.

 

“Stubborn boy.” The man rumbled as he always days, his arms wrapped around Will in an intimate gesture. “I’ll wait for however long it takes for you to be honest with yourself.” He said, kissing the crown of his head tenderly.

 

Will allowed it just like he allowed the wind to blow and the sun to shine down on them. Hannibal was a force of nature, and Will was merely a man

 

 

***

 

When he’s not blinded by pain, Nigel would dream of the time when he was young, weak, and helpless. He dreamt of a mother who handed him off to strangers while she sucks cock for cash and sells her ass for dope. He dreamt of faceless nuns and empty plates, of lonely days before Darko had yet to arrive. Back then his only companion was the stray cat that watches him with distrustful glares and hisses when he gets too close.

 

With only his thoughts and nightmares as company, Nigel had no choice but to relive the dark days of his past. Yet amongst the shadowy ruins of his memories, he found Will, the memory of him flickering like a bright candlelight.

 

He would dream about his voice, how he could call out his name and settle the tempest brewing inside himself. He dreamt about his body, the strong limber thing that could take on punishing blows and bend under his own bulk. He dreamt of his hands, his lips, his scars.

 

And those eyes. Those damned blue eyes that held him captive the moment they laid themselves onto him. Nigel didn’t mind it, he was an eager prisoner, adoring the chains that bound him to the most beautiful creature that has ever walked the earth.

 

“I’m sorry…but I don’t think I can go from loving someone like Hannibal to loving someone like you.”

 

The memory hit him hard enough that he finally awoke with a violent sputter, gagging around the tube shoved down his throat.

 

A red alarm beside his head flicked open and a nurse quickly rushed in, helping him with his ventilator and breathing tube. Tears streamed down Nigel’s face from the nurse’s rough handling, but he was glad to be rid of the intrusive tubes. He could hear her murmur something to her colleague before rushing out in a hurry, leaving them alone in the room.

 

After a few seconds of confusion, Nigel finally blinked through his tears and saw his body bound up in thick casts and held up in metal stirrups. Everything felt numb, but that only means they’ve drugged him enough so that he couldn’t feel the excruciating pain of his recovery.

 

With his one good hand Nigel grabbed the nurse by the collar of her shirt and hauled her close, his red eyes piercing her into a stupor.

 

“Where the hell is my fucking husband?” He growled.

Chapter Text

In New York his nightmares did not cease.

 

Sometimes Will dreamed of paranoid delusions from his childhood, like finding a snake curled underneath his porch in Louisiana, some harmless little thing no bigger than a shoestring. He would carry it around his ankle like an onyx bracelet, fascinated by its complete otherness, feeding it with the affection other denied him.

 

It grew larger and larger, weighing him down like a ball of writhing meat, but Will hadn’t had the heart to shake the dreaded thing off. How could he? They only had each other, and Will had grown to love it. So he stood still as it began to swallowed him whole, happy that he will sustain the very thing that he loved.

 

Those sorts of horrific of nightmares were preferable than the ones that masquerades as pleasant memories. Those ones got to him the most.

 

He would dream of happier times in the small idyllic paradise that was their yacht, of endless days of tender lovemaking sustained by the wonderful bounty of the sea. When he stepped out of the liquid sapphire, he would turn to call on his husband, but Nigel would be nowhere to be found, and their beloved vessel would morph into his lonely Wolf Trap home, slowly sinking into the bottom of the frigid Atlantic.

 

When it was clear that those dreams would not leave him, Will contemplated asking Hannibal for sleeping pill, a favor the doctor would be more than happy to provide.

 

The man took pleasure in helping him as much like he enjoyed his wine and music. Seeing his collection of rare bottles and expensive instruments was a bitter reminder Will kept close to heart. To Hannibal, he’s nothing more than a passing dalliance, an amusing obsession to satisfy Hannibal’s current whimsy.

 

Of course, Hannibal never would look at his harpsichord with the intense longing of a starving man. He hid it under the clever artifice of professional concern, but Will was well versed in the unspoken passions that was enough to drive one mad. Afterall, he married Nigel, whose passion toes the line between obsession and insanity and often blurs together into one.

 

Still, it’s strange to witness a man like Hannibal holding himself back, especially after the proud proclamation of never denying himself his pleasures. Will held no illusions that he was in a precarious situation. At the very first sign of compliance Hannibal would swoop in and claim him for himself, a notion he used to wonder about but how has to contend as his reality.

 

If he was as morally bankrupt as Hannibal was, Will would’ve taken this chance and laid with the man to earn his trust. It would be a simple thing to do. He already secluded Hannibal once before, to venture into the realm of carnality would not be that difficult, especially when Hannibal greedily accepted the small moments of levity that snuck between their interactions. It would be easy to do, for it seemed like his mere existence was enough to inflame whatever twisted desire Hannibal had for him. His gaze, his angry growls, his unwilling pleas for help; they were like catnip for him.

 

Today’s nightmare was especially bad.

 

Will woke up in a fit of sweat, flailing uncontrollably amidst the sodden sheets. Today’s torment was ephemerous and shapeless, yet it terrified him all the same. His breathed hitched, hurting his chest every time he inhaled, but no matter how deeply he breathed, it was never enough. The world was too much, too large for him. Things that were suddenly benign and fine became terrifying and dangerous.

 

Calm down.’ He told himself. ‘You’re just late for your next dose.’  He told himself.

 

He braved the darkened hall of the townhouse and stumbled into the kitchen with shaky legs, grabbing a one of Hannibal’s elegant crystal glass to fill on the kitchen sink. “Fuck!” he cursed as the glass slipped from his shaky hands, shattering in the floor.

 

“Will?” Hannibal called out, instantly drawn by the commotion.

 

“J-jessu ch-chr…” Will hissed, unable to even take the Lord’s name in vain properly. “…h-how?” He asked the approaching figure.

 

“I require very little sleep.” Hannibal quietly answered. His flowing hair pulled back in a low relaxed bun, but his eyes remained as bright and alert as it was this morning. “Are you-?”

 

“I’m f-f-fine!” He stuttered before Hannibal could ask that tiresome old question again. These days Hannibal always opened the conversation with that, as if Will would ever reach a state of mind where he was truly fine. “Nightmare.” He said, kneeling down so he could clean up the mess that he made.

 

Hannibal didn’t say anything. He merely joined Will on the floor. “Let me.” He whispered, catching Will’s wrist in his hand and taking the shards away from him, instantly stilling his tremors.

 

Will snatched his hands away, hating how easily Hannibal can ease his body’s traumas.

 

Times like these were the ones that made Will miss Nigel the most. He missed his body, the comforting weight that claimed both his body and mind, quieting them in a way that only murder and alcohol could. That way he wouldn’t have to think about Hannibal or the implication of his touches.

 

“Afraid I might steal a piece away a shard to stab you?” He quipped instead, pushing away the complicated feelings in his heart so he could antagonize the man further.

 

In the dark Hannibal’s teeth glinted as he grinned, amused of Will’s unwavering spirit that remained even when he’s weakened.

 

“No, it’s not Monday yet, is it?” He took Will’s hand into his and caress the hairline cut on Will’s thumb. “I simply don’t want you to hurt yourself further. We have enough scars to last a lifetime, don’t we?”

 

Without his knowledge his hand instantly went to the scars on his jugular, the one he keeps reopening so that it throbbed even when he left it alone to heal. Hannibal eyes fell onto the mark but said nothing, focusing on gathering the shards with a small dustpan stored under the sink.

 

“Does it hurt?” Hannibal asked. His back was turned to the man so that he couldn’t see the expression on his face. Will blinked, surprised at Hannibal’s question. So far the man has refused from acknowledging Nigel in front of him, at least not without derision or cruel nonchalance.

 

“There are ways to speed it’s healing, or even remove it entirely.” Hannibal said in a distant tone, clinical and helpful, but when turned around, his face somewhat hopeful and vulnerable.

 

Will shook his head, too shaken by the emotions in Hannibal’s face to answer him properly. Hannibal nodded curtly and filled a new glass of water for him, amused at the cautious little sips that turned to intense chugging. He chuckled and refilled the water for him. “Very good. Once you’re finished I’ll help you retire back into your bed.”

 

“I don’t need you to tuck me in.” Will mumbled and left the water in the glass just to spite the man, though his words faltered on it’s own when he stumbled and caught himself harshly against the countertop. “I’m fine.” He growled like a wounded dog, afraid to receive affection despite wanting it desperately.

 

Hannibal frowned and placed his hand on Will’s shoulders, slowly massaging them over his thin frame. “Let me do this for you.” Hannibal asked, pleaded almost, taking Will’s elbow and helping him back into his room.

 

The man didn’t complain. These days Will only ever protest once before allowing Hannibal to touch him. He couldn’t risk saying no more than once. He needed it. These restrained touches were the only ones helping him ease off his withdrawal for his husband.

 

When they arrived in his room Hannibal’s nose twitched minutely over the scent of terror and sweat that has seeped into the sheets. “Please wait just a moment.” He said, depositing Will on the lone armchair in the corner. Before he leave, Hannibal paused to wipe the sweat inching from his hairline with the back of his knuckles, a tender gesture Will secretly welcomed.

 

It felt surreal to watch Hannibal change his dirty sheets and tucked in fresh linen over the mattress. Will almost felt apologetic for exposing the man to the filth, but considering the years and lies and manipulation, changing his dirty sheets were the least Hannibal could do to begin making up for it.

 

“Shall I help you change your clothes as well?” Hannibal asked, his teasing tone bearing only a hint of mirth. Will scoffed and took off and pants, unabashed in his nakedness, almost delighting at the flash of confusion, shock, and hunger that vied for dominance over Hannibal’s eyes

 

“I’m good. Thanks.” He said, his voice devoid of any hint of seduction or teasing, accented further by the blasé way he deposited his crumpled clothes into Hannibal’s arms.

 

Without much preamble Will climbed into his newly made bed and stared at the man pointedly, challenging him to stare down on the visible outline of his covered lower body.

 

“Yes? You need anything?” Will asked in lieu of the thanks he knew Hannibal expected to receive.

 

The doctor licked his lips and kept his eyes trained above Will’s chest, barely hiding his desire while managing to maintain a sense of decorum. His gaze darkened when he found the healed gunshot wound scatted over Will’s body.

 

Suddenly all of his pretense at propriety was gone and he abandoned his burden, leaving them haphazardly onto the floor. Hannibal claimed a spot beside him, sitting painfully close to the man as he pulled down the sheet and trailed his cold glare over his body. There was no desire there, only a quiet stirring of emotions expert hidden underneath his façade.

 

“Tell me Will, who did this to you?” He asked, violence threatening to take over his unshakable control.

 

“Oh, you didn’t know? Didn’t Gabi tell you about her little trip back home? The man sneered, yanking back the sheet to cover his body. Like everything he did these days it was less because of modestly and more to deny the doctor.

 

“Gabriella did this?” Hannibal asked, his voice dangerously low and menacing. He traced a finger over a jagged scar on Will’s shoulder, stopping himself just before he could make contact.

 

He should’ve stripped the man when he first came there, trust and decorum be damned. Hannibal knew that Will have lived a life even when they are apart, but he certainly did not allow the man to be marked so completely like this, for it made the marks he left on Will’s body seemed so common and unremarkable.

 

Hannibal did not like that at all.

 

“Any lasting damage?” He continued, hoping to settle himself before he lost control and hunt down Gabi for her sins.

 

“Only in my mind.” Will gruffly answered. “The panic attacks started during my recovery. ‘Too much trauma’ the doctor said, and your little kidnapping ploy certainly didn’t help either.”

 

“My dear-“

 

“Don’t.” He snapped, picking up on Hannibal’s anger and making it his own. “Just fucking don’t, okay? Don’t apologize. Don’t try and rationalize it. I’m already used to your fucked-up bullshit. I don’t need to hear you justify them again.”

 

Hannibal nodded, averting his eyes from Will altogether and busied himself with a corner of untucked bedspread. He didn’t pull away. He couldn’t. He wanted to take his scalpel and peel away any offending marks that was not his, to overwrite the memories of other people’s history and stamp it with pain and anger that comes from him.

 

It would certainly curb this gnawing jealousy that has begun eating at the pit on his stomach, and Hannibal had of hunger to contend with this new need clawing at his stomach.

 

Yet he remained, his touches gentle, sparing Will of further suffering.

 

“Then I would like to help you with that, Will. I would be greatly honored if you would let me.” Hannibal murmured, rubbing his thumb over Will’s knee, painfully aware of the rejection that was sure to come.

 

Will blinked, unsure of how to respond to such tender declaration. “I’m good Doctor. The medicine you prescribe works well enough.”

 

“For now. Without proper therapy your condition will continue. Surviving trauma is one thing. To process it is-“

 

“Stop.” Will said tiredly, already weary from his nightmares to contend with Hannibal again that night. “I am not letting you inside my head again.”

 

Hannibal sighed but didn’t push the issue, though he remained in his place, hands placed over Will’s knee in quiet defeat. “Then let me stay with you, just for tonight.” He asked, pleaded, again.

 

There was something about the quiet desperation in his request that settled Will’s protest. Somehow the man knew that Hannibal will not budge from this, especially not after relenting on so many issues already.

 

With distrustful eyes Will regarded the man quietly, trying to make out the hidden machinations behind his words. Instead, he was jarred by the gentle compassion coloring the doctor’s face. It filled him with a strange sense of victory, something that he sorely lacked in this new life of his.

 

Eventually he nodded, still curt as surly as he was.

 

“You’re not welcomed in my bed.” He mumbled. Will was not one with an outpouring of compassion. If he really wants to stay then Hannibal can sleep on the floor like one of his dogs.

 

“Of course.” Hannibal smiled, happy for his win amidst the smattering of defeat. His terribly cheery optimism was quite irritating, only for the sole fact that it endeared the man to him where Will should only have spite.

 

Hannibal went away to tidy up the mess he abandoned, leaving Will alone in somber victory that quickly turned into loneliness. Was Hannibal going to leave? Didn’t he say that he was going to stay? The question whirled around in his mind, the uncertainty making him nauseous

 

Just as Will shifted to look for him, Hannibal returned, instantly bringing him relief. He brought an armchair with him, carrying it with ease before placing it close to Will’s bed. The man settled there like a Grecian statute, solid and strong, with his arms on his knees as he leaned in to caress Will’s curls.

 

“You’re too close.” Will grumbled sleepily as he leaned into the touch, hungry for it, for any sort of affection that his body demanded.

 

“I’m just close enough.” Hannibal smiled, continuing to caress Will’s hair. “Goodnight my dear.”

 

Will closed his eyes with a vicious frown on his face, but as soon as his breathing evened out, it smoothed into a placid little smile. Hannibal took a moment to memorialize the scene in his memory palace, placing the picture in a room already bursting with traces of him.

 

***

 

There were limits to the quiet desecration of pride, privacy, and propriety, and a man like Nigel can endure it to it’s most extreme measure. It doesn’t mean he was happy with it, but endured he did, quiet except when he was prompted to speak.

 

Men and women milled in and out of his room. There were doctors who spoke to him in broken English, which Nigel always mockingly answer in perfect French. There were also nurses who checked on his restraints, heedless of his comfort as they secured him tightly against the bed. Then came the Interpol agents, liaison for a numerous countries that claimed he has killed on their soils.

 

In retrospect that last claim was most likely to be true, but the pictures they brought are not one of his work.

 

Nigel’s kills were always quick and efficient, almost all of them dispatched with either his fist of guns. Victims of his infamous interrogations were the messy gory ones, reserved for the eyes of gang members and hardened mafiosos. He killed with purpose, and unless it was requested of him to make an example of someone, Nigel almost always never leaves a mark.

 

He doesn’t display his victims like artworks, nor does he fold men into origami hearts and leave them in churches. Nigel has always operated in the shadows, and he prides himself in clean, methodical kills that went undetected by those not of his world.

 

Yet no matter how much he protested, they still call him with that dreaded name.

 

“How many fucking times do I have to fucking tell you. My name is Nigel fucking Graham, and I sure as hell don’t fucking eat people!”

 

The surly Italian Polizia rolled his eyes and muttered a slew of curses, stepping out to for yet another smoke break as the difficult man denied his charges once more. A representative from the French Police smirked, amused by his outburst. He didn’t care much about the truth or Nigel’s protest. He was too busy counting the many commendation he’ll win for capturing the infamous Hannibal Lecter.

 

“Please Dr. Lecter. There is no need to play games. We have witnesses that will confirm your identity. It’s easier to confess. It’s already going to be a will be a long year for you. Once you’ve been tried in France, you shall be sent over to Italy. Canada. Lithuania. Swiss. And of course, to the Land of the Free, where all of Europe will pray that you be given the death penalty.”

 

Nigel said nothing to the man, unshaken by threats of the electric chair. Nigel was ready for death ever since violence touched him at an early age. It was not death he feared, but the cold desolation that comes with a life lived without Will.

 

The agent frowned, a small chill running down his body at the sight of this killer who pinned him down with his murderous gaze. He had to remind himself that he was safe here, but his eyes still flickered over to the multiple straps holding the man down, wary of their strength even with him immobile in his cast and bandages.

 

“You will pay for what you’ve done. Even if they couldn’t prove the old murders, we still caught you in a garage full of dead agents.” The man rumbled, his voice taking a darker turn as he contemplated his fallen comrades. “The people of France will not take that lightly.”

 

Nigel only answered him with a blink, admitting nothing for the crimes that he did commit. He was smarter than that, and all he needs to do is sit tight “Enjoy your bedrest. doctor. The next time we see each other is the day you will be taken into court.”

 

The door slid close behind the agent almost politely, leaving Nigel alone in the maddening quiet of his room.

 

The man felt restless, the monster inside pacing up and down the corridors of his mind like an angry tiger ready to sink its claws, but he didn’t feel like a tiger. Nigel felt weak. His body was stripped of the very strength he built his empire on, the one he could always rely on even when he has nothing else to count on.

 

The doctors had listed out a slew of his injuries, from the superficial ones to the ligament tears and fractured bones. It’s only because of the extent of his injuries that he’s currently not behind bars while he awaits his trial date, a small mercy for sure, but Nigel wasn’t one to care about such things.

 

Prison was a much preferable place than this sterile place devoid of warmth or humanity. The only thing he had to remind himself of all the good things in the world was in his hand, wrapped around his pinkie. They found it curled around his fist, and no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t pry it out of his grasp.

 

Nigel should’ve just let them. It’s too painful to hold onto the simple silver band, much less look at it. Still, it looked so lovely there his little finger, clinking against his very own wedding band.

 

The man remembered every second Will’s goodbye in painful detail and clarity, the mocking words that Gabi once said echoing back to haunt him. Nigel knew it was all a farce, that his darling did it to save his life, but his heart all burned with all the rage and aguish, shriveling it into nothing.

 

Yet Nigel still held onto the memento, unable to part from it even as it singed new wound that left him breathless and empty at the same time.

 

An unfortunate flicker of his finger sent the small metal flying into the air and onto the floor. Nigel instinctively tried to reach out to grab it, only to bang and hurt his still healing body against the leather straps. “FUCK.” Nigel cried out, slamming his head back against the bed, frustrated at his confinement.

 

How the hell am I going to get you back if I can’t even pick up your goddamn ring blue eyes?’ Nigel thought, almost driven to tears the memory of Will’s gentle smile.

 

A small rustle caught his attention. “Let me help you get that.” A voice said from behind the curtain, thick with inflection and accent that placed him closer to Firenze that he is from Paris.

 

The man that emerged was someone they would’ve put on a brochure for police recruitment, tall with square jaw, dark hair, and trustworthy eyes. He stared down at Nigel with the same amount of caution that the man glared at him, keeping his dark eyes trained on his maroon tinged ones as he bent down to pick up his fallen ring.

 

“Give it to me before I break that pretty face of yours.” Nigel growled. For a moment the man looked on, undeterred by Nigel’s threat, waiting for another response from this man that has loomed larger than life.

 

Eventually he relented the trinket, placing it in Nigel’s desperate palm and retreating a few steps backward, his brown eyes still watching closely at this caged beast.

 

Strong calloused fingers closed around the silver band, pushing it greedily into the meat of his palm. “Visiting hours is over.” He growled instead of thanking the man, hoping his rudeness would make the man leave him alone as he turned his complete attention back to his husband’s ring.

 

The man remained standing there with his hard, humorless eyes, trustworthy but never trusting. “My name is Inspector Nicolas Pazzi.” He said waiting for a response. “Son of Renaldo Pazzi.” Nicolas added when the man didn’t even so much blinked at his words.

 

“Is that supposed to mean anything?” Nigel asked with a voice dripping with boredom. It did nothing to curb the man’s attention. In fact, his eyebrows raised, and his mouth gaped, softening the cold cautious look he’s been sending Nigel’s way.

 

“It is as I thought.” He mumbled almost excitedly, pulling out a piece of paper form his coat to gape at the picture and comparing it to the man on the bed. It was a picture of Dr. Lecter in jail, an uncanny twin in grey jumpsuit with his prisoner number clearly printed on the chest. “Even your scar does not match.” Nicolas hummed, eyes darting rapidly from the newspaper clipping to Nigel’s own bemused face.

 

“Are you here to fucking charge me or just fucking stare at me, faggot?” Nigel barked, but it did little to extinguish the frisson running through the man’s body. He was like a wolf on a hunt, every fiber of his being charged with energy as he picked up on the scent of his prey.

 

“I believe that you’re not who they say you are, but you do bear a striking resemblance to the monster my father chased.” He said taking out his cellphone to snap a picture of Nigel’s frowning face. “The National Police and The Polizia are making a grave mistake in charging you for his crimes.” He said, observing the picture with great glee.

 

“Damn fucking right.” Nigel seethed as he recalled the horrific pictured brought before his eyes. ‘Peacocking bastard.’ He thought. ‘Even the bodies he left is dripping with smug self-congratulations.’

 

“Your last name, Graham, is your husband’s, correct? His name is…” Nicolas opened the small pocketbook lined with tidy scrawls. “Will Graham?” Nigel breath hitched at the name, wishing he was strong enough to rip this young man’s tongue out for even daring to say his beloved’s name. “That is most strange, because the real Dr. Lecter was also involved with this Will Graham. It says here that he’s his love-”

 

“Don’t you fucking dare say it.”

 

“But it is true, yes? They’re accomplice, suspected lovers-“

 

“Shut up.”

 

“And here you are, a stranger with Dr. Lecter’s face, claiming to be married to him-“

 

“I fucking am married to him you cunt!” Nigel thundered, and the sheer rage in his voice was enough to stop the man in his tracks. “I don’t give a shit about what you believe in. If you’re here to fucking arrest me then fucking call my lawyer and do it fucker! If not then fuck. The. Hell. Off!”

 

Nicolas closed his book, staring at this strange shouting man, someone unmoved by images of violence and pain but was broken at a mention of his husband. Hannibal Lecter does not act like this. His father’s profile of il Monstro was the complete opposite of what this ruffian was, and what he read of Lecter’s behavior in jail only confirms that.

 

This Nigel may not be completely innocent of violence and blood, but he was certainly innocent of the charges piled against him, a victim of incompetence and avaricious men.

 

In all honesty he was not that much different than them, but Nicolas doesn’t seek the approval or accolades of others for himself. He only wanted them so he could restore the honor that has been cruelly stripped away from his father. He would do anything to honor him again, to add one more merit to the darkened history that lingered over the Pazzi name.

 

Sensing an opportunity such a thing Nicolas stepped close, his eyes shinning with the same ambition others often see in his father’s eyes.

 

“I will not arrest you Nigel Graham, and I will get you your phone call. However, I want you to promise me something in return.” The inspector said unfolding the newspaper clipping of Hannibal’s face and turned it for Nigel to see. “Help me find Hannibal Lecter.”

 

Nigel scoffed, throwing his gaze out the window, tracing his finger over Will’s discarded ring. “First, get me that phone call and some cigarette. Then we can talk.”

 

***

 

 

That night Will dreamed of running through the halls, chased by a dark shadow that desired to consume him. He ran through the city of his youth, but it decimated them into rubbles. He ran through the wilderness that comforted him, but it’s shadow turned to black hellish fire that burned everything it touched. He ran to his stream, but it continued its chase, fizzing out in the water before corrupting its clear reflection into an ocean of black tar.

 

He ran and ran, but he found no shelter worthy enough to weather the terror. Before he knew it the whole country turned into a wasteland, leaving him alone and exposed to the approaching terror.

 

A lone structure stood in the distance, distinguished and opulent, and Will seethed in humiliation at the through of bringing destruction to the place too, but he had nowhere else to go, so he stumbled past it’s welcoming door, tracking mud, sweat, and dread into the polished marble floors.

 

Gold and divinity greeted him, the familiar sight of Norman chapel flooding him with relief as the scent of paraffin and incense won over his own sour fear. Will fell into the pews, kneeling on the soft cushion below so he might pray for protection to a god he knew could care less.

 

The face of saints and gods looked down upon his with blank distaste, offering him no peace nor reassurance. Will turned to the altar to look for a guidance, but only a human heart stood where a priest might, a body folded over into a beauty macabre attraction.

 

It beat steadily, calm and assured, and Will was drawn to it, his steps falling in sync to its persistent beat. He placed his hand over its surface, hoping that his racing heart might match it’s calm undulation.

 

Suddenly the heavy chapel door slammed open, and the terror took form as a massive black snake. It fell into his sanctuary, dark and menacing with crimson tongue flicking out to taste his fear. Its silted pupils find it’s quarry as it made its way to capture it in his jaw. Will could feel his chest about to burst, as if his body was going to kill itself before the beast could take a hold of him.

 

No matter how terrified he was Will was no coward. He turned to the heart, ready to take arms with the sword that held it up, but it was no longer there, the precious gift that was supposed to be his was now absent, leaving him to face the beast alone.

 

Will steeled himself, ready to wrestle it to the death, but when he turned to it he found it’s large writhing body pinned under three sharp swords, it’s fearsome head crushed under Hannibal’s unyielding feet.

 

“Sleep Will.” He said with love in his voice. “I shall guard your rest.”

 

Everything then began to fade like a painting dissolving in water. Will closed his eyes, suspended in that quiet womblike place. He dreamt only of peace, and the companionable warmth of another’s body curled in behind him.

 

***

 

When he woke up, Will found Hannibal still in his armchair, eyes closed and his breath even and steady. Second later his eyes snapped open, rested but not bleary or affected by sleep. The man gave him a knowing smile.

 

“Your memory palace is building. It's full of new things.”

 

Hannibal moved from his seat to join Will in his bed, sitting just close enough to  detangle the nest of curls that formed when he tossed and turned in his sleep.

 

“It even shares some room with my own.”

 

“Don’t.” Will choked, besieged by a new sort of pain. Hannibal tiled his chin up so that the might meet each other’s gazes head on. Will trembled under his touch. Their minds were already conjoined, open to each other. To also have his body touch was too much, too suffocating.

 

How could he truly belong to Nigel when parts of their minds are one?

 

“Hush.” Hannibal settled the high kneeing sound wrenched from Will’s throat. “You are quite beautiful in pain Will, but I have no desire for your distress. Settle down now.” He murmured. “No shadows or snakes can chase you here.”

 

“Only you.” Will growled, hiding his feelings behind helpless antagonism.

 

The man laughed, eyes crinkling in amusement. “Yes, only me.”

 

 

***

Chapter Text

Assailed by the constant gentleness and hopeful looks Hannibal threw his way, Will settled on a very stringent code of conduct, limiting him to monosyllables replies and grunts. He sounded like his father, uneducated and rude because of it, but Will didn’t trust himself with more. Even the most nonchalant reply could derail into an intense discussion that invited more touches and meaningful looks.

 

It’s too dangerous, solely because no matter how many times Will reject Hannibal, a part of him will always desire the man. Hannibal exists on the periphery of his desires, always weaving in and out of his sight, terrifyingly present while also maddeningly out of reach.

 

At some point the man stopped being coy and just openly grinded down against Will’s cock in one of their fight sessions. Will promptly threw him off and retreated to his room, desperately trying to calm himself down by seeking advice hidden the writings of Marcus Aurelius.

 

Unfortunately, while stoicism did help him accept his new status as a prisoner, it did very little to curb sexual appetite. At those days Will always ended up jacking off in the shower, coming onto his hand with Nigel’s name chocked between his lips while imagining Hannibal’s vivid body in his mind.

 

He tried to rationalize it by saying that they’re identical, but the man in his fantasies did not bear his name in tattoos. His skin was pristine, except for the bites and bruises he sucks onto them.

 

It made Will feel guilty, like a teenager in a religious home caught indulging in his carnal desires, but no matter how frustrated and angry he got, in the morning he would always wake up with Hannibal in his armchair, guarding his rest like he promised he would.

 

His steadfast presence brought up conflicted feeling within the man’s heart.

 

Will tried to justify it, telling himself that Hannibal was not a good man, merely a good warden to a desperate prisoner. He had to remind himself that he did not come here willingly. Will was taken, stolen like some hapless maiden to amuse the man and participate in his mind games. Yet as they settled further into routine domesticity, the facts began to blur and his anger turn blunt.

 

After half a lifetime working in law enforcement, Will knew the telltale sign of Stockholm Syndrome like the back of his hand. He was never foolish enough to think that he was above such a thing, but he would still resist it anyways.

 

As the weeks turned to months, the tan lines that held his wedding ring began to fade. Will clung to the memories of Bucharest, of the vivid red of Nigel’s tattoos, and reminded himself that it was all real, not just a dream.

 

 

***

 

Unlike the evil mastermind the FBI painted him to be, Hannibal does not have an overarching plan he meticulously followed to achieve his goals.

 

Instead, he obeyed the whims and fancies of his heart, taking advantages of situations as they come to keep his boredom at bay. That’s what makes him so unpredictable and hard to catch. There is no discernable motive other than the one that drives his curiosity and amusement, and there was no one as curious and amusing as Will Graham.

 

In their separation, Hannibal learned to squashed all of his natural inclination towards Will. When his mind wondered about the man, he busied himself with acquaintances, work, and transitory dalliances that would occupy his time and take up all of his attention. When the call grew too great to resist, as it always does, Hannibal would retreat to the recesses of his mind palace and gorged himself on memories of Will.

 

Now that the man was within arm’s reach, Hannibal found his control and self-restrain eroded further each day.

 

Though the man did not encourage his advances, he could see Will’s interest mirroring his own. They’re always hidden underneath a veil of contempt and forced indifference, a futile attempt at maintaining some sort of individuality while under his influence. Will has always been good at building forts to keep other people out, but their mind was already conjoined, and it’s about time that their bodies do too.

 

How wonderful would it be to be buried inside Will and watch him unravel in pleasure, all defenses abandoned, moaning sweetly into Hannibal’s mouth. The image alone was enough to bring him into hardness and completion if he concentrated hard enough.

 

Hannibal couldn’t remember the last time he wanted something this much, so he tried his best to entice Will, an new endeavor he picked up with restrained enthusiasm despite his eagerness to push the man down and suck him till he begs for mercy.

 

First, it began as it always does, with meaningful looks and lingering touches. The looks Will rejects with a glare, but his touches he accepted. It was as if his body was starved for it, conditioned by the constant touch of his unworthy substitute.

 

Upon finding out about that fact, Hannibal quietly escalates. A hand on his shoulder, a brush of their hips, the way their thighs settled against each other while they read on the couch. Hannibal couldn’t say much about his mental state, but physiologically they all affected Will in a profound manner. His touches brought relaxation in his tensed body, but at the same time it brought out his heartbeat. Hannibal could see it in the veins of his neck, quickening as he rested his hand on Will’s back.

 

Those small reactions reminded Hannibal why he tried so hard.

 

Will was not like any other man he has ever met. He inspired a persistent burn in Hannibal’s temperate heart, an ache that flickered back to life even after he quenched it with his cold calculative logic. It’s terribly inconvenient really, but it made Hannibal feel so alive.

 

When it comes to Will, there is no such thing as being content. The man will always want more, and Hannibal will do anything to make Will completely his.

 

 

**

 

The first time Hannibal invited him out to the club, Will hid his excitement under a mask of irritation and nonchalance. How could he not be excited? The only time he’s ever been allowed out was on their weekly walk out in the park. It’s pleasant enough for sure, but New York has so much more to offer than the opulent interior of Hannibal’s home and the manicured lawn of a heavily subsidized public park. Will itched to see more, to explore, and he will take any chance he gets to do it.

 

Unfortunately, they only made it until the end of the block before Will desire for freedom drove him to attempt to escape. He only managed to taste freedom for three measly seconds before Hannibal twisted his arm and pulled him close away from prying eyes, his ligaments protesting under Hannibal’s unyielding force.

 

“If you’re not going to behave then we’ll have to forgo our time outside altogether dear.” Hannibal said before promptly bringing him home.

 

The simple threat of permanent confinement was a more effective deterrent than pain. Will nodded proceeded to behave himself. After a month Hannibal rewarded his compliance by inviting him to the club again.

 

Will’s heart was thrumming with excitement that he didn’t even complain when Hannibal set out his clothes and accessories. The man was in a perpetual state of cabin fever, and he’ll endure Hannibal’s fussing if it meant he could go out. He secretly enjoys dressing well anyways, a remnant from his time with Nigel for when the man dragged him to all the bougie stores and spent fortunes on a mere shirt.

 

They walked out like they always do, with Hannibal’s hand resting on the crook of his elbow and Will bending it for his own comfort. It was deceptive enough for the public, the two looking like a pair of respectable couple on a night out like everybody else was. The tender way Hannibal looks to Will certainly sells the look, but the man refused to meet it. This artificial closeness was nothing more than a way for Hannibal to hold onto him, a leash. Will held on to that knowledge every time he felt a flush of pride or a flash of possessiveness when random strangers eyed them appreciatively.

 

He wished he didn’t leave his ring back in Paris. The gesture helped sold his goodbye, but the tan line on his finger was fading fast, and Will needed that physical reminder to keep him grounded and loyal.

 

***

 

A familiar face greeted Will when their car rolled to a stop in front of a nondescript but tasteful building. The man leaned down to open the door before Hannibal exited the car and waved him off.

 

“No need for that Barney. I will do that myself from now on.” Hannibal said, opening Will’s door for him, a guard hiding his vigilance under a gesture of chivalry.

 

“I’m sorry sir.” The doorman said, looking apologetic and sheepish at the same time. The big burly man nodded respectfully at them both. “Good evening.”

 

Will blinked in surprise when a name finally came up with the face. “Barney? Is that you?” He said, swallowing hard at the sight of the orderly.

 

Barney Matthews took off his sunglasses and regarded Will with a nostalgic smile, not at all surprised that Will was there. “It’s good to see you again Mr. Graham. Mr. Clifford did say you will be joining us.” He said, looking somewhat sad at the sight of him before turning to Hannibal to report on the happenings in the club. He noted on their closeness but was too polite to comment on the way Hannibal possessively held onto Will’s arm.

 

As they walked through the darkened hallways of the crowded club Will began to recount the various things Hannibal has managed to do from prison. Contacting the dragon, escaping from his ‘loose’ straight jacket, the general ease and authority he had even when confined between the four walls of his cell. “How long have you had him on your payroll?” Will asked quietly.

 

“Since he proved himself to be willing and worthy.” Hannibal simply answered. “Barney has always been a good man. Loyal and polite. He was indispensable during my time in the BSHCI, and he makes a better living working for me than for the state.” Will scoffed. It really was that simple isn’t it? “Come now, Will. Did you really think I merely read and drew while I was incarcerated?”

 

“The devil works hard, but Hannibal Lecter sure works harder.” The snarky remark made Hannibal laugh. “I thought you invited me to a night out doctor. Turns out you’re merely trading one cell for another.” Will said ruefully. He still remembered  Barney’s powerful hold when he escorted him through and from his cell. The scenery may have changed, but there is still a guard posted on the door wherever he went.

 

“Baby steps Will. If you cease to see it as a confinement, we can still make this a pleasant outing.” The man said reassuringly. Will scoffed but said nothing, and that was enough to make Hannibal smile. He led Will into the crowded room with his hand on the small of him back, a quiet declaration to everyone watching on who Will really belonged to, knowing full well no one was going to challenge him here on his territory.

 

Will eyed the swarm of creatives and elite sociality that stopped them to talk to Hannibal, their eyes curios as they peered at the man who has their host clinging onto his arm. “This is will Graham.” Hannibal, or Clifford as he was known here, introduced him. “Someone who I cherish a great deal.”

 

Will wished the proclamation didn’t make him feel warm and fluttery.

 

“Sit.” Hannibal said, leading him on his own personal table away from the throngs of people clamoring for a conversation. “Drink.” He waved for the bartender to attend to Will’s needs. “Enjoy the show. I worked very hard to choose a lineup that you would enjoy.” The man leaned in, his hand inching up Will’s thighs and his nose stroking his neck. People stared and openly hooted, to which Hannibal only smiled and chuckled. “Maybe you’ll even humor me with a dance later, so the crowd have something to cheer about.” He whispered intimately, lips dangerously close to a kiss.

 

It would be so easy for Will to lean in and brush back against those pouty pairs, just to take power away from Hannibal and start the initiative.

 

Instead Will slapped Hannibal’s hand away and bared his teeth contemptuously. “Fuck off.” He growled, all within the sight of the staring crowd. A few gasped and the room fell into a lull of silence, before polite murmurs promptly returned to the room, eased by the smooth jazz playing on the background.

 

On any other day, this measly act of the defiance would’ve amused him, but Hannibal was in no mood to be humiliated in front of his peers. He pulled away and laughed good naturedly, an act to soften the blow to his own ego as well as save his image to the public.

 

He no longer wished to caress the man, only to break him in the most devastating way possible. However, doing such a thing now would certainly invite gossip and tarnish his carefully built reputation. So Hannibal let the bartender took his place and gave instruction to serve Will well during the night and keep his glass filled.

 

“Enjoy yourself Will. I’ll be back soon.” The man said pleasantly, moving away to greet his guests and performers before Will could read the irritation in his eyes.

 

Will couldn’t care less. He felt proud for fending off one of Hannibal’s advances again. He might be held captive and his twisted desires may confused and warped his sense of self, but these small little victories kept him hopeful and strong. It reminded him that he was still pure, that when the time comes for him to escape, he can return to his husband’s arm and proudly claim that he remained untouched and loyal.

 

It doesn’t matter that he wanted Hannibal. Will knew his vows, and he intends to keep them until death parted them apart.

 

 

***

 

 

The night proceeded in a pleasant blur of colors and sound, aided by the endless stream of top shelf scotch and the agreeable euphony of excellent music. True to his words, Hannibal did line up musicians to fit Will’s jazzy, folk, and blues oriented taste of music.

 

While Will learned how to play the piano by ear, he wasn’t excellent by any stretch of the imagination. He knew enough to know that the people playing on stage was on of a very different caliber than most people who performs in a bar on a Friday night, and a part of him admired Hannibal for assembling such a cast, even if it was done begrudgingly.

 

The crowd welcomed each performer with supportive applause and cheers, but they listened like a judge might, making marks on discreet pads and taking the occasional note on their phone. It felt less like jazz bar and more like an auction, where each performance was an appraisal by individual buyers before they move on to a different room to purchase their desired wares.

 

Hannibal remained on the side of the room, talking to his guests and watching the stage like a proud father. Every time a person comes up to praise his scouted talents, it was yet another admittance of his excellent taste and ear, for who else could do what he does? He discovers gems and gave them a pedestal to shine. Their success was his, and for a while it was enough to ease the ache of Will’s rejection and his lingering humiliation.

 

Halfway through the show a young man approached him, leaning up against the bar to show the pleasant curve of his spine and shapely behind. Hannibal smiled and greeted him with a hello, intrigued by this strange boy who he certainly did not invite.

 

“Hi.” The boy replied, staring with wide brown eyes hidden from beneath heavy lashes. “You look lonely over here mister. Want some company?”

 

“Thank you. And you are…?” Hannibal asked, wondering how such an impudent trash could make his way in through Barney’s watch.

 

“My name is Gabriel, Marshal Edison’s son.” Hannibal hummed and nodded, recognizing the rising Broadway director who often frequents his gathering. He was nowhere to be found that night. “My father is in LA, so I stole his invitation and decided to invite myself in his stead.” The boy explained said, brazenly proud of his resourcefulness.

 

“I see.” Hannibal chuckled, his curiosity turning into boredom the minute he figured out the boy’s game. “Unfortunately they are nontransferable. That invitation is quite precious, Gabriel. People pay a small fortune to attend these performances.” The man tutted playfully, though the glint in his eyes was the farthest thing from playful.

 

“Really? You would make me pay?” Gabriel whined like the spoiled child that he was. “I’m not sure even a year’s worth of my allowance could cover the price, but I can pay in other ways.” The young man purred, sliding his hand from his neck to his chest, a nubile young thing presenting himself to be devoured.

 

Hannibal smile remained, inscrutable in his hospitality.

 

“Since you’re Marshal’s son I’m sure we can forgive your debts this time.” Hannibal smiled politely, sliding off the barstool to take himself back into the crowd. “Enjoy the rest of the show Gabriel.”

 

“I don’t give a fuck about the show.” Gabriel called, stepping in front of Hannibal’s path. ‘Rude little boy.’ The man thought, wondering which part of the boy he would take and consume for his transgression. The boy continued. “I hear a lot about you Mr. Clifford. They say the people who play in your club all become stars.”  He said, eyes wild with equal amount ambition and desperation. “Make me a star…” He purred, pressing up to Hannibal to nuzzle at his neck. “… and I can be yours. All yours.”

 

Boring.’ Hannibal thought even as he claimed the boy’s chin in his hand and tilted him up to feign the desire in his eyes. There is no shortage of beautiful, desperate artists throwing themselves at him, all for a chance to play at his club. Hannibal never touched any of them, for their rank desperation and lack of talent stung his nose with a smell that was not unlike a bowl of slowly rotting fruit. He doesn’t associate with trash or second raters, no matter how beautiful they may think they are.

 

But Will didn’t know that.

 

Feeling the burning gaze of his cerulean eyes, Hannibal snaked a hand behind the boy to grasp at his ass and pulled him flush against his body. He pulled out a notebook and tore out a neat little page, handing it along with his pen to the boy. “Your number, angel.” He said, loud enough for Will to hear.

 

Gabriel grinned victoriously and took off the cap of his fountain pen with his mouth. Hannibal had to fight down the urge to snap the boy’s neck for doing that. He then placed the paper over Hannibal’s chest and wrote in large flowing fonts, taking extra time to dot his I’s and T’s before sliding it down Hannibal’s trouser pocket. He dared a little grope, and Hannibal made sure to remember that offense before he castrates the precocious little whore in the future.

 

“I hate it when people call me that, but you?” Gabriel giggled and placed the pen back into his jacket pocket. “You can call me anything you like, daddy.”

 

Hannibal could just gag. Instead he hummed approvingly and sent the boy away so he could watch the rest of the show, completely aware of Will’s contemptuous look on the periphery of his gaze. “Make sure to refill Mr. Graham’s glass.” Hannibal said to his bartender.

 

He made sure that Will wasn’t looking when threw his Nakaya fountain pen away. The sacrifice was worth Will’s palpable jealousy, and Hannibal was eager to find out what would happen next.

 

**

 

They drove home in silence, Hannibal opting not to turn on the radio in careful calculation. “I hope you don’t mind the quiet Will. It’s good to just take in all the wonderful performance we just heard, no?”

 

“Oh yes...” Will slurred drunkenly, though the alcohol did nothing to blunt the edge of his sharp tone. “One particular performance stuck out to me. Vividly.

 

“I’m glad to hear that. Please, do share.” Hannibal smiled, his fingers tapping excitedly onto the leather of his steering wheel as he waited for the light to change “I can invite the artist that you enjoy more often.”

 

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to invite your little angel while I’m there Doctor.” Will growled. “Not if you want to keep his head attached.”

 

Hannibal heart could just soar at Will’s murderous threat. “Will-”

 

“Save it.” The man snapped, and Hannibal obeyed, driving the car in silence until they pulled into his garage. Will promptly threw the door open and slammed it shut with a vengeance.

 

“Beautiful.” Hannibal sighed out loud, watching Will face flushed red with anger and as he waited for Hannibal to unlock the door to their home.

 

***

 

Hannibal didn’t return Will to his room. Instead, he escorted him up the pointed ebony stairs and guided him to his office, the secure place where he usually left him in whenever he couldn’t be in the house.

 

“What are you doing?” Will asked when the man unlocked the office door and turned on the lights. The doctor didn’t answer him, only motioned him inside, unwilling to meet his eyes that were blazing beautifully with fury.

 

“I apologize for this, Will. I know you must be tired, but I must take off again. I promised to meet someone tonight.” Hannibal quietly said. “I will be out all night, but you can find pillows and blankets in the large cupboard. They’ve been put there for this very situation. I will bring up your toiletries if you-“

 

Rough hand wrenched Hannibal by his neck and threw him inside. He slid and instantly went onto his knees, quickly finding his bearings, but Hannibal did not expect the force that met his jaw as Will feet caught him by the edge of his chin. The kick sent him sprawling onto his back, genuinely catching him by surprise. Hannibal rolled to his side, coughed off blood onto the carpet as the cut on his tongue began to bleed out profusely.

 

He caught the next attack before it could connect his stomach and pulled Will down by his ankle. Before he could grapple the man into submission, Will kicked him squarely on the chest, robbing the very breath from his lungs. Hannibal groaned. He expected an outburst, some sort of argument that would end with an admittance of their mutual attraction, but he certainly did not expect to be attacked.

 

Will climbed over him, straddling Hannibal’s stomach in limiting his breath. His hands grasped his wrist and pinned it above his head, painful, but easy enough to escape from.

 

They’ve been in this position many times before, and Hannibal knew about eight different ways to turn the situation to his advantage. It would be easy too. Despite the respectable weight gain and toned muscle Will has acquired, the man was currently inebriated and blinded with rage.

 

Yet despite his instinct to fight back, Hannibal just couldn’t do it.

 

The blue eyes that often glared at him with disinterest now bore into his soul with the wrath Ares and the passion of Eros. It lingered on his eyes, then his lips, then fluttered close as Will groaned and rubbed his hardening cock against Hannibal’s body.

 

“No.” The man declared as he stared him down past the rims of his eyes, arrogant and bewitching.

 

“No?” Hannibal choked out the question, barely able to breathe with him bearing down on his diaphragm

 

“You’re mine.” Will growled, eliciting a gasp of relief from Hannibal before unbuckling his belt, undoing his pants, and flipping his quarry over.

 

“Will-“ Hannibal leaned back, hands searching for those damn curls so he could pull him down to a kiss, but Will seized him by his hair and slammed him down against the carpet.

 

The man whined, a pitiful sound he didn’t need to fake. He wanted to kiss Will, to make him taste his blood and lick his bared teeth. He waited for this for so long. His body needed it. He-

 

All of Hannibal’s train of thoughts stuttered to a stop when he heard Will unbuckled his belt and pulled down his pants. A flash of cold greeted his bare ass. Will’s erection seemed burned against Hannibal’s shivering cheeks, hard, aching, all for him.

 

“Will.” Hannibal said reproachingly, but it came out like a plea, a wanton desperate sound that he didn’t know he could make.

 

“Shut up.” Will barked, claws biting down into Hannibal’s nape as he held the man down by the scruff of his neck.

 

Hannibal knew what was coming. This was not how he envision their first union to be. It was supposed to a joyful realization where he melted Will in pleasure as he takes him gently, where the only pain was the brief loss of their body separating before meeting back hungrily for more.

 

He could push the man off, overpower him so that one day they might have the perfect union that he envisioned, but Will was finally here, openly desiring him. Even if that desire was distorted into this malformed twisted thing, Hannibal still wanted it with a desperate zeal of a dying man.

 

If this was the way he will bind the man to him, then so be it.

 

Hannibal braced himself as he felt the blunt head of Will’s cock nudged in against his hole, painful and dry as his body resisted him. “Please Will, you need to stretch me first.” He begged.

 

For a moment relief and affection bloomed in his chest as the man eased off his invasion, but it was short lived, for Will merely did so to spit on his cock before placing in back against Hannibal’s reddened hole and pushing in deep.

 

A scream was ripped out of Hannibal’s throat as his limbs lost all of their power and scrambled for purchase. His eyes watered, his muscles clenched, and his nerves were all alight to receive the agony of Will’s violation. A pure and undulated joy accompanied the pain. With it came the shame, ecstasy, and a deep and profound sense of helplessness. It made is body flash cold and hot, confused as it tries to reconcile the physical pain and the euphoria of his long-awaited consummation.

 

Only Will could make him feel this alive, and Hannibal was so unbelievably thankful for his terrible, perfect, monstrous love.

 

The man thrust in hard, once, twice, and then stopping to savor the involuntary spasm of Hannibal’s muscles. He carded his hand through Hannibal’s hair, almost apologetic in it’s gentleness, before grabbing them harshly to use as leverage as he set a punishing pace with his hips.

 

All of the pent-up frustration and anger that percolated inside himself burst out like wave. He piled onslaught after onslaught, merciless and powerful. Will could feel the rim of Hannibal’s hole clenching tight, before it ripped with the man’s pained cry. A warm wetness spread through the base of his cock, and when Will glanced down to look, his throbbing shaft was smeared with blood.

 

“W-Will.” Hannibal stuttered, jarred by the force of Will’s assault. The man didn’t care. He just spat down and pushed a lob of saliva inside the ruined, gaping hole. It was a tender moment of mercy, all so he can fuck Hannibal faster, harder, to give but a glimpse of the pain the bastard has put him through.

 

It felt so good to dominate him like this. It felt like killing Hobbs and Tier, for just as he punished those bad men for their crimes, Will to was giving Hannibal his comeuppance by hate fucking him into the ground.

 

Will was a monster, and he relished in it, lost in the absolute freedom and power that forcing the man brought. He loved feeling Hannibal wriggling helplessly under him. He could choose to either give him pleasure or pain, all by changing the angle in which he hit or miss small spongy nub of nerves inside his ass.

 

Before long Hannibal was bucking against him, arching his back like a cat in heat, urging him deeper, digging his knees so he could meet each thrust. It spurred Will on, and it became less about taking Hannibal’s power and more about unraveling him with pleasure.

 

As satisfying as it was to see him in pain, Hannibal was absolutely stunning in his ecstasy, and he wanted to see him drown in it.

 

Will leaned over, mouthing Hannibal’s ear as the pleasure builds inside his stomach, pooling on the base of his spine, further pressurized with every violent slam of his hips. “Fuck.”  He grunted, breath hissing between his clenched teeth. “Fuck yes.” He hissed, burying in as deep as he could so he could completely breed hungry clenching hole.

 

Beneath him the man groaned and whimpered, bucking up to receive his load before following suit in his orgasm. Hannibal released onto the dirty carpet, his orgasm forced out of him without his consent. It made Will so damn powerful as he rumbled and cursed, riding the sharp undulation of the man’s hole. Eventually it settled into mere twitching and Will finally pulled out, leaving a trail of pink semen and blood along Hannibal’s inner thighs in the process.

 

“You’re not going anywhere, got it?” He said with a deep and commanding voice.

 

Hannibal turned his head, meeting his unflinching eyes before nodding, averting his gaze as shame rose up to color his cheeks. It was beautiful. Will wanted nothing more than to see that on his cheeks every single day.

 

He stripped off the rest of his clothes and left Hannibal trembling on the ground. Will walked naked through the house, owning it completely. Hannibal made this place for him, and he was ready to take it.

 

Wille stepped into Hannibal’s room and into his shower box, fiddling with the knobs numbly. Guilt was present, it always was, but it was dulled by alcohol and lingering post orgasming bliss. When the shower finally turned on, Will was suddenly brimming with a somber sense of relief.

 

He’s been struggling with his desire for a while now, ashamed for wanting Hannibal while trying to remain steadfast to his husband. Now he doesn’t need to struggle anymore. He’s a verified monster, a traitorous bastard who threw away his husband’s pain and sacrifice for a measly power trip.

 

Hannibal came in and joined him silently with his back curled and head bowed to his chest. Will didn’t know if it was all manufactured or if the man was really feeling vulnerable. He didn’t care. Will ignored the man as he turned his head up against the spray, enjoying the warmth of the water cascading down his body while Hannibal shivered outside of the spray.

 

Eventually Hannibal leaned his head against his back and made soft mewling sounds. When Will didn’t pull away he inched closer until his body was pushed up against Will’s. When the man still didn’t pull away, Hannibal finally dared to wrap his arms around him, sagging against Will’s strong back as a sob wracked his body.

 

Hannibal cried, sobbing openly as he let go of the trauma of the abuse as well of the joy of having Will in his arm. He was so happy. Even if it was ugly, even if it was demeaning, painful, and terrible, what happened was so utterly perfect and he will cherish every moment like it cherished every other memory of Will.

 

“I love you.” Hannibal confessed quietly.

 

“I hate you.” Will answered back, but he didn’t pull away from Hannibal’s embrace.

 

A smile spread on his shoulder as the man kissed him there, worshiping him, professing his love over and over against the wet expanse, a captive of his own making, adoring his chains.

 

The shower fogged up from the head, and Will couldn’t help but noticed how it matched the hazy daze Will had in his head. It doesn’t matter anymore. He didn’t care. He hoped he never does ever again.

Chapter Text

‘Rise and shine asshole. Welcome to the first day of the rest of stay in hell.’

 

The thought snapped Will awake with a jolt, but it was promptly muffled by the heavy hand over him. Hannibal was curled into his back, his hand possessively thrown over his waist and face pushed against his nape. Even in sleep Hannibal was as claiming as he was when he’s awake. ‘How terribly predictable Doctor.’ he thought somberly.

 

Will knew that his first reaction should be to flinch away or throw the man off the bed, but all that Will wanted to was to go back to the addictive warmth of his embrace and lose himself in the blissful oblivion of sleep.

 

He peeled himself off from the sticky, crusty remains of their ejaculation, only to be pulled back flush against Hannibal’s chest as the man fussed in his sleep. Murderous manipulation aside, It seemed like Hannibal would forever reach for him, either out of fear, desire, or some very unexpected need to cuddle. ‘Unexpectedly cute Doctor.’ Will thought, tickled by the concept, but then he remembered that such thoughts shouldn’t really be applied to Hannibal.

 

Nevertheless, it didn’t stop him from noticing the faint tracks of tears on the doctor’s handsome face. They ran past the straight ridge of his nose and pooled on his temples. ‘Like a child, too tired to even wipe them away before sleep claim you.’  Will thought as he rubbed away the tacky remnants, waking Hannibal in the process.

 

They stared at each other, fighting animals gauging each other’s intention, before Will finally move first, retreating away from the man.

 

Hannibal caught his hand and kept him close. “My dear.” He croaked, nuzzling into his palm to place kisses against it.. Will’s breath hitched, pained by the frenetic longing evident in his voice by besieged by his desire to caress Hannibal back. He combed his hand through long hair, luscious and full even after last night’s abuse, before grasping it and wrenching it back painfully.

 

It made the man gasp, though his eyes held only a quiet plea for Will to hurt him more, for him to do anything as long as this connection between them remain.

 

Will let go before he could give himself the permission to oblige.

 

He stalked out of the master bedroom and into his own, his mind filled with vivid memories of their desperate coupling. He remembered each time he took Hannibal, the alcohol doing nothing to blur away the sordid details, and Will had to convince himself that his cock was only heavy because it’s normal bodily function, not because of the memory that continued to titillate him even on the morning after.

 

He busied himself by looking for some clothes, but he ended up pulling about half of his wardrobe out and leaving them in a messy pile on the floor. Hannibal knocked on the door and pushed it open, watching Will carefully in his work.

 

“If you feel guilty, please remember that the blame does not lie entirely on you. I acted with the knowledge that you would-“

 

“Can it, Hannibal. I don’t have the patience for your twisted rhetoric.” The man said before slamming the door at Hannibal’s face.

 

Will wished he could’ve felt guilty. He would’ve been relieved to be tortured by his better nature. Other than an itch to bare the man and take him again, Will felt nothing. If seeing Hannibal did nothing to stir his already battered morality then maybe Will need to stew alone for a few hours.

 

The dawn came and made way for sunrise. He opened the window, hoping that it might distract him from his swirling thoughts, but by the time the time traffic overtook the sound of chirping birds, Will was still searching for his regret and remorse.

 

He had none. The man was utterly satisfied and content in what he did. Such a thing was simply not acceptable.

 

 

***

 

 

“Open the door.” Will ordered, waiting at the foyer with a bag full of clothes in hand. Hannibal face remained unchanged as he abandoned the croissant dough he was rolling into fat plump crescents.

 

“Will.” The man said, though he no longer looked menacing or untouchable. Hannibal just looked afraid. “Come sit down. Breakfast is going to be ready soon.“

 

“No.” The man snapped, unwilling to spare Hannibal any more words that he need to. “Open the door.” Will repeated again. His tone barely raised, but anyone could clearly see the determination burning in his eyes.

 

After the wonderful gift Will had given him yesterday, what else could Hannibal do but obey?

 

He unlocked the heavy door, laden with biometric locks and pin codes, and allowed the bright morning sun spill inside their still dark home. The doctor swallowed, the rise and fall of his Adam’s apple the only indicator of his uncertainty.

 

“I’m leaving.” Will declared.

 

“If that is what you wish.” Hannibal replied. His whole body was tense, practiced and ready to subdue and contain the man inside this home of theirs. He could do it. He’s done so thousands of times before. Everything inside of him demands that he does so, to secure this beast for himself and hide it away from the world. Will could see it in the miniscule ticks of his body, the very same one that moaned and responded to his punishing pace with a desperate hunger.

 

But the man didn’t wrestle him down like Will thought he would. The doctor remained standing, stoic, and only slightly heartbroken as Will crossed the threshold.

 

You could stay.’ He thought as Will climbed down the mosaic steps of his front gates. ‘Please stay.’ Hannibal wanted to say, but there’s something so utterly pedestrian about begging an angry lover to remain with you.

 

His deep red eyes watched as Will flew down his block with determined steps, a part of him completely convinced that he has ruined what could’ve been a wonderful relationship, while the other smugly determined that Will would soon return. Forcing him to stay would be the same as killing him, and Hannibal has no intention on losing the man ever again.

 

 

 

**

 

 

Was it always been this easy?’ Will thought as he stared down the endless line to enter the subway. The air wafting from down the stairs were muggy and hot. It was seven a clock, and like any other commuters there, Will descender into the gaping green maw of the subway stairs, hoping that he might be belched out somewhere better than where he was.

 

Will expected Hannibal to be more difficult, to force him to remember his violation and twist the knife to guilt him to stay. Will was almost disappointed that he didn’t. He was looking forward to show the doctor just how much he didn’t give a fuck about him. His empathy made the doctor’s pain and shame clear as a newspaper byline, and by god did it taste delicious.

 

It didn’t matter anymore. He’s free now. Will can go wherever he wanted. He could go to Quantico and direct Jack to arrest Hannibal. Maybe after he’ll visit Alana, just so he could tell her in person that she didn’t have to be scared anymore, that the boogeyman has been caught and they could finally live without fear.

 

Yet as he stood there in front of the inscrutable map of the subway, Will find himself paralyzed. Infinite choices laid before him, some that could bring end and doom to Hannibal’s fragile existence and some that could take him back to a resemblance of a life he used to have. None of them seemed good enough, none of them seemed right, especially the road that would take him back to Bucharest to his husband.

 

Nigel’s mark remained prominently displayed on his jugular, ugly to those who didn’t know it’s beauty. Will wanted to cut off the gnarled scar tissue. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve Nigel anymore.

 

The Will Nigel loved died that day in Paris, unable to survive the separation from his beloved. What remained was merely a husk, and Will filled it with a monster strong enough to survive Hannibal, a demon twisted enough to return the affection Hannibal wished from him all this time. They were made for each other, cruel creatures that sustained themselves with pain and blood, and where else does monsters like them belong if not with each other?

 

In the grave.’  He thought. It was the voice of a ghost from another life. An old part of himself that completely loved his makeshift family and believed in Jack and justice and other things that motivated him to do good. He used to believe that his desires were secondary to the safety of others. Now, Will couldn’t even recognize himself.

 

Maybe if he did go to the grave first Hannibal would come after him too.

 

“Hey! What are you doing!? Get away from the edge!” A man clamored out, jerking his arms back to pull Will from the edge of the platform.

 

Will blinked hard and mumbled an apology to gruff man. He tried to ask him if he was okay. Will nodded, mumbling some excuse about being new in the city and confused about the trains. The man frowned and gave him a hard look, obviously knowing that Will was lying. He rummaged into his briefcase and handed him a pamphlet, apparently convinced that Will was some poor depressed, suicidal man in desperate need of some spiritual guidance.

 

Will himself wasn’t convinced that he wasn’t.

 

Eventually he emerged from the humid belly of the undergrounds to a bustling Chinatown. It was only nine in the morning and it’s already bustling with activities. Massage parlors closed down as electronic shops pushed up their metal shutters to open for business. Street vendors of every kind moved frantically as they served the long lines of impatient costumers, switching from rapid Cantonese to Spanish to a bastardized mixture the two and English. Will took everything in, soaking in the atmosphere of a whole other world found just a train ride away.

 

The air was as thick and muggy and subway stations below reeked of piss and humanity. Suddenly Will realized the absolute luxury of their pompously upscale neighborhood, with it’s nice absent neighbors and politely patrolling police.

 

For a long time Will just stood there, staring at this strange foreign world that didn’t even bother stop to look back at him. The scenery might’ve changed, so did the language and the people, but no matter how far he goes, Will would always remain a stranger.

 

‘No wonder he let me leave.’ Will thought quietly.

 

 

**

 

It was almost dark when Will arrived back to the home that had been his prison. He found the door slightly ajar, unlocked, as if Hannibal had been waiting for him to return. The uneasy feeling of restlessness that followed him all day instantly melted away the moment he stepped back in. This was the lair of the beast, places where man became monsters and indulge in intolerable perversions. Will shouldn’t find comfort in such a place.

 

And yet he did. The smell of spices and roasting meat filled the air. Chamber music was playing faintly in the background, broken only by the soft clatters of plates and glasses. It was familiar. It was home.

 

Will didn’t join Hannibal in the dining room. Instead he took a seat in the plush sofa with the annoying throw pillow, sinking into its depth as he stared at the setting sun that bathed central park in warm orange light.

 

Moments later Hannibal appeared by his side, seemingly omniscient when it comes to Will’s presence. Maybe it was that damned nose of his, forever upturned with dignity to catch his scent. Maybe they’re just so damned conjoined that he could sense him like sharks senses its prey, attracted by the mere vibrations of the water.

 

“You came back.” Hannibal said out loud, not even hiding the relief in his voice. The man looked so put together, his hair pushed back and clothes immaculate. The tear tracks that streamed down his face was now absent, leaving him with the mask of dignity and grace.

 

No one would be able to guess that he was violently raped last night.

 

“I knew you would come back.” Hannibal whispered, always endlessly optimistic and hopeful. Now that Will came back, the man could practically taste it in the air.

 

“You made sure there’s nowhere else for me to go.” Will said. His tone wasn’t harsh or accusing. It just was.

 

“You’ve always belonged with me my dear.” The doctor replied, kneeling in front of him. He looked so happy on his knees like that, looking up at Will like he held the stars in his eyes.

 

Will threw his gaze away, sick to his stomach that he enjoyed Hannibal’s admiration, but the man’s gentle hand brought him back. “You don’t need to fight anymore Will.” He smiled as he leaned up to kiss him.

 

Somehow the action angered him beyond belief.

 

With as much force he could muster, Will raised his hand and backhanded Hannibal across the face. The man fell back onto his heels, hand holding onto his reddening cheeks. The forced jarred him into silence, more shocked than in pain. Will’s hand throbbed and he sat back, noticing how Hannibal’s well-tailored pants bulged out prominently, breaking the silhouette of his impeccable attire.

 

“You should’ve told me what a dirty masochist you were, Doctor.” Will sneered.

 

Hannibal flinched and let out a shuddering breath, both cheeks ruddy red with shame, or arousal, or both. The man licked his lips, considering what to say to Will about this new discovered part of himself, but before he could utter a single word, Will threw him back and stepped on his erection hard.

 

“Is this what fucking you want?” Will demanded. There is no benign intent to titillate or arouse. The man was as eager to inflict pain as Hannibal was to accept him.

 

“I want everything you’re willing to give me.” Hannibal gasped, the blinding ache scattering from his groin to the rest of his body in flashes of white lightning pain. “Anything.” He sobbed, smothering back as much of the scream crawling out of his throat into small little whimpers.

 

It could’ve been minutes, even hours later, but eventually Will grinded his ball against the floor and stepped off. The sudden escalation of pressure and its immediate easing made all the blood rush back to Hannibal’s trampled cock. The man glanced up to Will, whimpering as he came in his pants.

 

“Disgusting.” Hannibal could hear Will said above him, cold and indifferent. Even in the comfortable haze of blessed pain, the doctor could detect a hint of sadistic pleasure simmering under Will’s hateful façade.

 

He smiled, so happy and proud that he could be the one to draw out yet another hidden part of Will’s personality. The man was completely unpredictable, and Hannibal was eager to discover everything about him.

 

 

***

 

After excusing himself to change, Hannibal came back down to find Will on the head of the dining table, sipping on the wine he decanted for dinner. Hannibal smiled and uncorked another bottle just in case they needed it. It’s a wasteful, extravagant gesture, but the man was happy to make sure that every one of Will’s passing needs were met. Nothing would please him more than to stand by his side and fill his cup until it overflowed.

 

Hannibal himself was a willing receptacle, imbibing Will’s anger and pain until he too was as drunk as the man himself.

 

He bustled in the kitchen, adding the finishing touches to the generous standing rib roast he harvested from an annoying environmentalist that afternoon. The activist had been blocking the parking space to his favorite grocer, and he had the gall to sarcastically remarked on the carbon footprint of his Ranger Rover. It was risky to kill during the day, but the doctor was so wound up by Will’s departure that he ended up inviting the man back home under the guise of making a substantial donation.

 

Everything ended up working out perfectly. New York become less polluted by one busybody, and Will eventually returned, ready to take part and witness his work.

 

The shinning plater gleamed as he carried it into the dining room, laden with all sorts of root vegetables to accompany the heavy dish. Hannibal declared the menu quietly, forgoing his usual pomp and circumstance until Will was in a better mood. He brandished a large carving knife and began carving out the meat, noticing the curious gleam in Will’s eyes as he watched. Hannibal wondered if Will was thinking about cutting into him, for he looked at him like he was a piece of meat. The thought alone made him shiver in pleasure.

 

He quietly served Will a portion from the center cut, the rarest and most tender cut of meat. He deserved the best.

 

“This is not beef.” Will said, looking at the still bloody piece of meat. The uncharacteristically long rib bone gave it away, as well as the strangely familiar musculature that reminded him of the bodies he sees in the morgue instead of the picturesque prime rib he sees in holiday catalogs.

 

“No it is not.” Hannibal admitted as he poured a thick demi-glace sauce over it. There was no point in lying to him. Will knows about his proclivities better than anyone, and Hannibal had no intention of hiding himself from the man any longer. “Will you partake?” he asked, remaining by his side, ready to take the plate away in the event of Will’s rejection.

 

The man said nothing and observed the sumptuous meal in front of him. It was beautiful, with whole roasted carrots and caramelized pearl onions that gleamed from the generous herbed butter. Until today Hannibal was careful to avoid serving him any red meat. He was aware that it was something the doctor did to encourage him to eat, so Will wasn’t sure if Hannibal had continued on his habits on dining on the rude.

 

Deciding that he was, in fact, been craving for a good piece of meat, Will picked up his knife and fork and began cutting into the meal. Hannibal’s eyes watched with rapt attention as Will chewed and swallowed, waiting on his judgement.

 

The wait was more torturous than the cruel way Will had trampled on his genital.

 

“Delicious.” He praised simply, lacking the superfluous desperateness that his other guest has shown. It was so completely attractive to Hannibal that he could feel his sore cock stirring in the confines of his pants.

 

After serving his own plate Hannibal took his seat beside Will, just so he could anticipate his needs better. Why bother sit on the other end of the table and continue with this pretense of power? Will had him completely spellbound, and Hannibal was more than happy to submit to his thrall.

 

For now, the man may be hostile towards him, but Hannibal much prefers this strict disciplinarian of a man instead of the passive apathetic shell that cowered without his medication. Will was now an active participant, no longer in denial and weighed down by the weight of his choices.

 

His Will was unbridled and whole again, and he was worthy of every form of worship Hannibal had in store for him.

 

**

 

After dinner they no longer talked like they usually did. Hannibal didn’t push the man to, no matter how much he craved the stimulating conversation only a mind like Will would provide. Hannibal would wait until he come for him. He always do.

 

When he finished returning the last wineglass to its place, Hannibal returned to his room, intent spending the night looking over his schedule for tomorrow. He had to stop by the club for further auditions, and there’s several different rumor of a prodigy that was kicked out of the Brooklyn conservatory for bad behavior. Those sort of lot was perfect for his club.

 

All of his plans for the day disappeared when he saw Will reading on his bed, his boots propped up on the duvet cover, tracking in dirt from the city outside. Hannibal closed the door and went to sit at his feet, slowly unlacing the dirty boots and taking it off his feet. It was scuffed and grimy, but Hannibal still remembered how it mercilessly stomped on him earlier.

 

If he asked him too, Hannibal would immediately fall to his knees and licked his soles clean.

 

Will watched silently as the man took off his shoes and socks. “That too.” He said, nodding to his belt buckle. Hannibal nodded and did so obediently, cradling the swell of Will’s ass so he could slide the leather off him. The man felt solid under his touch, no longer the fragile thin bird that he could easily subdue with only half his attention. Feeling power in those muscles was absolutely thrilling, but Hannibal did nothing more than was instructed on him, even if he wanted to spread those cheeks apart and bury his face between them all night long.

 

He coiled the leather and placed it on the dresser and returned to Will’s side, quiet but attentive. “Go on. Take the rest of them off.” Will said, sounding almost bored as he flipped another page in his book.

 

One by one Hannibal peeled the fabric that hid Will’s body and folded them neatly. His hands were steady, they always were, but his heart hammered in his chest. Hannibal didn’t ask Will to move, he cradled him tenderly as he sifted his weight. Those small moments of brief embrace made him fall for Will just ever more slightly. His body was beautiful, always rebounding after every tragedy and shinning brighter because of them.

 

It didn’t take long until Will was completely naked, his erection as hard as Hannibal’s as it lay against the flat plane of his abdomen. It flexed and twitched every so often, tempting the doctor to take a taste. Hannibal crawled over the man, reverent fingers tracing adoration into his skin, lips placing chaste kisses even as he trembled with the need to suck and bite his way up and down Will’s body.

 

Eventually he came face to face with the man, red faced and at the end of his wits. Will smirked. “You look absolutely wrecked.” The man chuckled, lips spreading into an arrogant smile, the first of the day. Hannibal sighed and let his head fall against Will’s chest, the only point of contact between their bodies that the man allowed to have.

 

“Please.” He begged, desperate for a deeper connection.

 

“What do you want?” Will asked.

 

“Anything.” Hannibal whispered.

 

“And if I tell you to get the fuck off the bed and sleep on the floor?”

 

Hannibal frowned, feeling flush with shame and indignation. It’s not what he wanted. He wanted to close to Will, even if he had to pay it in pain. Instead of protesting Hannibal merely bowed his head and looked up to Will and said, “If that is what you wish.”

 

His submission was so very lovely to see.

 

Will pushed him back and flipped Hannibal onto his knees, pulling his pants down just enough so his thighs could accommodate for his body. Hannibal fell onto his forearms, arching his back, moaning out loud. His cock hung heavy between his thighs, leaking strands of precum onto his already soaked brief.

 

Will spat on his cock, the sound so obscene and wet, before pushing it against the tensed dimples

 

“Tell me you want this.”

 

“I want it.”

 

“Again.”

 

“I want it Will.”

 

“Again.”

 

“Please.” Hannibal gasped. “I want your cock.”

 

“Good.” A satisfied rumble rose from deep from Will’s chest. He slapped Hannibal’s ass hard enough to leave welts, before tangling his fingers his hair and pulling it back harshly. “You’re not allowed to force my hand like you did yesterday. Understand?” He hissed against his cheeks, so close to the kiss Hannibal craved but was constantly denied.

 

“Yes. Yes I’m sorry, Will I-” Hannibal winced, gasping in relief when Will threw him back to the bed and finally mounted him.

 

Will slid his hard cock between his lush cheeks, groaning when he felt the pucker tensed and relaxed against his flared head. Hannibal was wet and leaking. When he looked down, he saw the remnants of his seed seeping from the man’s swollen hole.

 

It brought out an involuntary growl that made Will just a little bit more savage.

 

“I wanted to keep it inside for as long as I could.” Hannibal quietly admitted, lowering his head against the bed so he could spread his cheeks with his hand, a finger dipping to tease his hole and spread it for Will to ravage.

 

“You’re fucking disgusting.” Will moaned approvingly before wrenching the man’s hand away. He placed his pink cockhead against the tender pucker, completely aroused by the feel of his warm cum leaking out of the debased man. Unable to contain his desire any longer, Will pushed in and buried himself in one smooth thrust.

 

The warm pulsing walls gave out to make way from his intrusion, their spasm of pain milking Will and drawing him deeper. The wetness only away the burning friction that rubbed his walls raw, but it did nothing to numb from the burning ache of intrusion.

 

Hannibal jerked away, his body instinctively trying to escape from the repeated violation, but Will clasped his hand over Hannibal’s shoulder and pulled him back onto his cock, merciless as it savored the dizzying heat of Hannibal’s inside.

 

Will loved having the man clenched around him like that. “So tight.” He whispered before setting a slow pace, savoring Hannibal’s body like he owned it. “So fucking wet for me, aren’t you?”

 

His words sent tremors down Hannibal’s spine as he moaned his assent, lost in the sensation of Will’s cock pressing against his prostate. He’s so full, so stretched and open for him.

 

“Please!” Hannibal cried, pushing up and burying himself back onto Will’s cock. The man behind him grunted and wrapped his arms around his broad chest, holding him steady as Hannibal twist his body to look back at him. “Please… please… kiss me Will. I love you so much. Please…” He begged, his sore cock hard beyond belief and ready to explode.

 

“I fucking don’t.” Will growled back, defiant as ever, but he slammed their lips together, tonges desperately coiling, teeth clattering and nipping against Hannibal’s trembling. The kiss was messy, as undignified as it was sloppy, but Hannibal loved it every second of it.

 

With a helpless cry that was immediately swallowed by Will’s hungry mouth, Hannibal spurted weakly across the bed. “Fuck.” Will grunted, his hips jackhammering into Hannibal’s body as he to lost himself in the throes of his orgasm. Not long after his cum pulsed deep into Hannibal’s ass, slicking him even further.

 

Together the fall back onto the bed, hard cock slipping out of Hannibal’s gaping ass as the man turned around to clutch at Will’s shoulders. The man allowed it, wiping his wet hands on the back of Hannibal’s shirt. They remained like that for a while, tangled together as they tried to catch their breath. Eventually Hannibal was composed enough to pull away, standing gingery as he went to the bathroom to clean himself and assess the damage to his already battered hole. Will watched his uncertain step like a wolf watching a freshly born doe, waiting for the right moment to pounce and sweep it off its shaky legs

 

Hannibal came back after a while, looking a little less wrecked but equally well fucked and satisfied. He brought with him a basin of water and a small washcloth, which he soaked and wrung before taking to clean every inch of Will’s body.

 

The man hummed and closed his eyes, enjoying the way it cleansed him off the sweat and dirt of his journey. When Hannibal reached his groin, the man leaned down to suckle the last of his semen form his cock, gently tracing the shaft with yielding tongue, taking great care not to overstimulate the spent cock.

 

Will sighed and cradled Hannibal’s head, patting him gently for each shy kitten licks. Eventually the man pulled away, Will’s cock growing heavy but not yet hard, and resumed to wipe him down the with towel.

 

Will was almost lulled to sleep when Hannibal spoke up gently.

 

“I know you would’ve never reciprocated my advances because of your loyalty to your previous marriage,” he started. “So I made a situation where you could realize your desire so we could finally have what we wanted.” The man quietly confessed, feeling the intense need to clear the air even after the way they fucked their problems away just mere moments ago

 

“Is this your idea of pillow talk Hannibal? Because you’re pretty damn terrible at it.” Will scowled, too relaxed to truly be riled, but the confession bothered him nonetheless. Hannibal continued, unsatisfied that Will didn’t completely understood him.

 

“I didn’t expect the… magnitude of your desire, but I want you to know that I let it happen so that we can indulge in each other’s bodies in a… palatable way for you.”

 

Will scoffed and rolled his eyes, amazed at the length Hannibal would go to normalize his abuse.

 

“You didn’t give me your consent Hannibal. It doesn’t matter if you let it happen, or that you liked it and bounced on my dick just a few hours later.” Will sighed. “I know what I did. I made the conscious decision to rape and hurt you because I like taking away your power.” He opened his eyes and found Hannibal staring pensively into the basin. “That’s how I was able to enjoy having sex with you. That maybe the only way I could ever have sex with you.”

 

“I don’t believe that.” Hannibal countered, always gentle. Always hopefull.

 

“It doesn’t matter what you believe. Reality doesn’t bend to your belief.” Will said, closing his eyes. “Just as time will never reverse, no matter how many teacups you’ve dropped. All you get in the end is just a pile of mess Hannibal.”

 

“Is that what you see us as, my dear? A mess?” Will snorted. He didn’t need to reply for Hannibal to know where he stand.

 

When Will’s silence ended their quiet discussion, the man stood up and began putting away the mess littered around the room. It was less of a reflex and more of a need to present Will with his best side, hoping that his fastidiousness would please the man who barely looked at him.

 

He then turned off the light and slipped in on the opposite side of the bed. For a moment they remained apart, until the need for contact drove them both to reach for one another. Hannibal tucked himself under Will’s chin, nuzzling into his neck and breathing in the clean scent of musk and victory seeping from his skin.

 

“I made the conscious decision to let you have your way with me.” Hannibal quietly said.

 

“Still doesn’t change the fact that I made the conscious decision to rape you.” Will sighed. He stroked Hannibal’s hair and buried his face in its luscious waves. He smelled like cedar and pine. Like the woods back home in Wolftrap. Like home. “It doesn’t make me any less of a monster.”

 

“You’re not.”

 

“Fuck you Hannibal.”

 

“You should forgive me and yourself so we can both have what we deserve.”

 

“And what the hell is that?”

 

“Happiness. Contentment.” Hannibal sighed. “The opportunity for permanent companionship.”

 

“The only permanent thing men like us deserve is a place in hell.” Will growled. “The deepest pits, right next to the devil himself.”

 

Hannibal made an small sound that sounded too sweet to come from a man as old as he was. Will smiled into his hair, resisting every urge to place kisses upon its crown. “There is no hell except the ones we make for ourselves. And even if there is one, I will fight my way past the devil to be by your side.”

 

“Alright, alright. Go to sleep.” Will growled. “Your metaphysical babbling is as terrible as I remembered it. God.”

 

“… I love you Will.”

 

“… Go the fuck to sleep Hannibal.”

 

Will was glad that the room as dark as the night. That way Hannibal couldn’t see the way Will’s face twist and broke at his tender declaration.

Chapter Text

 

Nowadays Will doesn’t really have nightmares anymore. He merely relive his memory in his dreams. Whereas before he could call upon them with perfect clarity, now the details there were all murky and mixed up. It stood in the forefront of his mind like a haphazard mosaic through frosted glass. Faded. Shattered. A mere ghost of what it was.

 

In his dreams the shadowy terrors turned benign, taking in shapes of men that crowded over his body with their possessive touches. They were faceless, these shadows, but somehow Will knew that a part of Nigel and Hannibal lived within them, clamoring for sole possession of his soul while they warded off his own slumbering demons.

 

Slowly their faces came into focus, revealing their shared faces that look identically different from one another. Hannibal always had a smirk on his face, small and inscrutable, while Nigel grinned in his usual self-satisfied way. Both of them were the beautiful monsters that haunted his dreams.

 

When he whispered ‘I love you’, Nigel replied with a cigarette scented kiss while Hannibal pressed blood tinged lips against his own. They were maddening, and Will couldn’t help but lick and smother his lips against theirs, eternally greedy for them both while deserving none of them.

 

“You’re mine.” He said, and the two men beamed, relishing in his claim, and their happiness became Will’s contentment. He doesn’t need riches, fame, or even infamy. He only someone to call his own, of quiet days prolonged by the dialogues of their body and the melding of their minds.

 

Will thought of his dogs, and how fulfilled he was toiling away to feed and shelter his rag tag pack of mutts. Without them, he would’ve wasted into a mere shade of a man, too abrasive to approach, much less love. If Will can find purpose in the care of these animals, dedicating his life to the joy of his beloved would be a worthy cause indeed.

 

He thought he had that life with Nigel. Sure, the man’s criminal lifestyle was far removed from his previous humble existence, but Nigel brought out parts of himself that Will didn’t know existed before. Drugs, guns, and Sunday syndicate brunches came to him as easily as fly fishing and teaching. In that ancient metropolis, Will found home in the company of a Mad Dog, and it ached to be so far apart from it.

 

Now in this city of millions, Will found himself floundering in his newfound power.

 

In his core, the man always did enjoy making people happy more than tormenting them. The latter was Hannibal’s forte, as skillful in giving pain as he is in accepting them. Though his emotions may carry him to commit grotesque acts of violence, Will does not seek it out like Nigel did. He was the calm line between them both, separating from the frigid crashing waves from the burning hot sands.

 

Will knew that his previous life would not satisfy him any longer. How could he ever find contentment again after Hannibal or Nigel? Without either men, life lacks it’s flavor, reduced to a mere shackle of existence Will was eager to shrugged off.

 

Even with Hannibal Will found a certain fulfillment in his freedom. Whereas Nigel required physical contact and unyielding devotion of a love, his relationship with Hannibal was like a fencing match, constantly jabbing each other with their words, advancing forward just to cease and defend against Hannibal own sword. It’s tenuous, passionate, and it made him feel alive.

 

Other people might look at their relationship and see men at war, but Will didn’t mind the way their words picked and wound each other. He liked being in a room with his equal, a challenger whose teeth and claws can turn as deadly as his. The exhaustion comes not at this strange existance they shared, but at his own desperate pretension.

 

Will was tired of pretending to be unhappy. The truth was being with Hannibal was as fulfilling as being with Nigel. The easy conversation, the conversational landmines, the strange combative dance their body moved in the bedroom; they all exhilarated Will beyond belief.

 

More than once he found himself smiling as he looked to Hannibal, an act he quickly disguised under a somber attitude. With his empathy it was easy to adopt such masks, for it only take him a glance out the window to take on the sorrow of a passing stranger, a bulwark against the sheer joy of living with the man.

 

Will couldn’t let himself feel happy with him. It felt too much of a betrayal to the memory of his husband.

 

Hannibal on the other hand never pretends, at least not with him. The doctor went along his day like one of his pups, happy in his company and unabashed in his exuberance. He’s nothing like Nigel, the tittle of mad dog remains safely in his grasp, but Will does wonder if there is a certain insanity that allows a man to derive pleasure from the pain he inflicted.

 

There was some gratification found in hurting Hannibal. Every time he does it Will found himself energized by a surge of power. Who else but him can dominate the in dominating the most fearsome man in America? Who can bend his proud back and use his clever mouth to warm his cock. The thought alone warmed Will’s body and made the beast inside of him purred in satisfaction.

 

Despite this Will was no sadist. The gratification that came when he stepped on his pales to the bone deep satisfaction of having the man fucked out and quivering in his arms. Hannibal was beautiful in his pain, but he was absolutely stunning when he let pleasure unravel his control. To be the cause of such pleasure made Will so terribly happy.

 

He didn’t realize it at first, but slowly Will found himself giving him. The joy that comes from the small humble happiness infiltrated his defenses, and the man found himself eager to lean and place a kiss on Hannibal’s lips.

 

They came in simple innocuous forms, like sleeping in longer so he could share warmth with the sleeping man, or allowing himself to savor Hannibal’s cooking and praise it openly, just to see the man caught of guard by his approval.

 

He heard it in his silence, a tacit acknowledgement when Hannibal say ‘I love you’ and was not instantly rebuffed. He stopped denying him for that. It became too painful to do, and accepting it filled the gaps in his soul with something real.

 

Time and time again Will wondered, why should he resist such a beautiful offering? When he couldn’t answer it, he found solace outside of the opulent brownstone.

 

In the city Will has the rest of the world to escape to, each universe just a few subway stops away. He explored the museums, all filled with art that was beyond his understanding and leave the place with his eyes brimming with tears.

 

He explored the bustling diamond district, first coming there to find an appropriate replacement for Nigel’s ring. He ended up striking a conversation with an attendant who insisted on adorning his neck with gorgeous African clay beads. Encounter such as those filled Will with a foreign sense of appreciation for other people, and with that, for Hannibal in return.

 

He watched the strange kooky nightlife of the east village, how its culture bleeds into the gentrified neighborhood of Brooklyn. Instead of housing projects, it now held a bustling Shake Shack with more ardent following than the rappers than come from it’s borough.

 

They were all beautiful, interesting places, but none of them could measure up to the sheer joy of coming home to a warm, relieved smile that was only his to claim.

 

In a city of strangers, Will allowed himself his small measures happiness, and when he stopped to account for them all, he found Hannibal in every single joyous encounter.

 

 

***

 

 

He was supposed to be up and out of the door hours ago before the first light of dusk even peered over the city’s skyline. Will had planned on fishing on the Hudson, even setting up an alarm for it despite never needing one all of his life.

 

He couldn’t help himself, Will was beyond excited. He spent hours in his room making lures to tempt the local fish, all named after his old pack of mutts. Will missed the dogs, and depend on the bounty he’ll catch today, he will find out if they missed him too.

 

In the dark quiet of their soundproofed house, Will woke up five minutes before his alarm rang, turning it off before it could wrench Hannibal away from his precious sleep. Afterwards he found himself unable to move. Hannibal had wrapped himself around his torso, looking painfully innocent and young as he continued to slumber on his chest.

 

Like always he always did, Hannibal wakes within minutes of Will’s lucidity. “Will?” He asked, voice groggy with sleep. Will let himself smile in the dark, whispering for the man to go back to sleep. Hannibal nodded and obeyed with a sweet exhale of breath, pinning Will to the bed as he indulgently nuzzled against his neck.

 

It was as if he forgot just how roughly Will had taken him last night. Any sane person would scurry away at from someone who pushes them past their limits and kept going. But not Hannibal. He laid there on Will’s chest and held on desperately onto him, guarding the man like he was the most precious thing in the world.

 

Will smiled contentedly and remained in bed, listening to the soft breaths of the man he claimed his heart.

 

When Hannibal finally rose for good, he found Will fully awake as he rises gently from his sleep. “I thought you were going fishing?” Hannibal asked, confused at his presence. Will shrugged and stretched the arm that has fal