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Will wakes to the warmth of a body pressed against his own, a large arm curled around his waist and a face pressed into the unruly mop of curls atop his head.

He tenses automatically, the sensations still too foreign for him not to, but relaxes just as quickly as the situation fully registers. He turns in Hannibal’s hold, throwing his arms around the slumbering man and nuzzling into him, reluctant to get up just yet and abandon this comfort.

What starts out as relatively innocent brushes of lips against dry skin soon turns into nips and licks as Will kisses his way up Hannibal’s throat, successfully rousing the older man.

“Good morning, Will,” he greets sleepily, voice rough and barely audible.

His reply is to press their lips together in a slow, lazy kiss, reaching up to stroke a lightly stubbled jaw.

“Good morning,” he murmurs when he pulls away, tucking his head beneath Hannibal’s chin again and closing his eyes.

“We should get up.” Hannibal’s accent is thick with sleep and his actions are in direct contrast with his words as he cards his fingers through Will’s hair and sinks deeper into the mattress with a soft sigh.

“Not yet.” Will tightens his grip on the other man, silently marveling at how much he craves this contact now whereas he once shied away from touch. But it’s been like this ever since Hannibal sought him out after his escape from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. It did not diminish even after they became physically intimate; quite the opposite actually. Touch has become a way for Will to ensure that Hannibal is real and here.

After seven years of captivity followed by a year of voluntary isolation, it’s no wonder Will is starved for human contact, or rather, contact with one particular human. Hannibal is not complaining, at least.

In fact, Will knows that he’s not the only one habitually seeking reassurance of the other’s presence. He’s lost count of how many times he has caught Hannibal staring at him with a furrow in his brows and an odd gleam in his eyes. It hasn’t escaped his notice how the other liked to keep Will in his sights as much as he could. He’s not complaining either.

Perhaps they’ll both grow out of it once they become fully accustomed to their new, shared reality, but for now, it’s all still new and Will needs touch just as Hannibal needs sight to help them through it.

As he lies there, listening to the steady rhythm of Hannibal’s heart, Will’s mind drifts to a night two weeks ago, when the monotony of his life in Sugarloaf Key was disturbed by a much anticipated visit.

Will knows precisely who his guest is the second he sees the faded red pickup truck parked in the driveway of his secluded little house in Florida. He takes a moment to compare this battered old thing to Hannibal’s old Bentley, and smiles. He supposes desperate times call for desperate measures.

The door swings open at his touch, but the entryway is empty. As is the living room. He finds Hannibal in the dining room – of course – gently petting Sean, a ragged old German Shepherd he’d found wandering nearby shortly after he settled here. He seems to be enjoying the attention far too much to spare as much as a glance in Will’s direction.

“You are a poor excuse for a guard dog, Sean.” Will announces, causing two pairs of eyes, one human and one canine, to turn to him. He absently holds out his hand to the dog as he enthusiastically greets him, but his eyes never leave the man still crouched on the floor, staring back at Will with unchecked delight in his eyes.

Hannibal looks only slightly better than he had in prison. His cheeks are hollowed out, drawing eyes to his unusually sharp cheekbones. There are dark circles beneath his eyes and his hair falls forward a bit haphazardly. But he is smiling with genuine joy, staring reverently at Will.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”Will is surprised at how steady his voice is when his mind is anything but. “Life has been terribly boring without you.”

He watches, transfixed, as Hannibal rises from the floor, somehow managing to do so with grace and elegance, despite the torn jeans and cheap black shirt he’s dressed in. Then again, this is same man who had worn a prison jump suit with aplomb, so he really shouldn’t be surprised.

“I did say I’d find you. Though you didn’t exactly make it easy.” Will savors the familiar cadence of his voice as Hannibal hesitantly takes a step forward, as if slightly afraid to come closer, like Will might disappear if he did. Before he can lose his nerve, he throws himself forward, drawing Hannibal into a desperate embrace that threatens to throw them both to the floor. Hannibal steadies them both with a hand on the dining table, the other one wrapping tight around him.

“I was confident you’d manage,” he whispers into the other man’s ear, pressing himself even more against Hannibal, wanting to merge with the man in his arms until they were one and the same.

“I’ll find you no matter where you are, William. Always.”

Will chuckles weakly and tries to swallow the lump in his throat. He doesn’t know if its fear or relief or some combination of the two that makes his eyes burn with unshed tears. At the moment, he doesn’t really care.


The two of them stand there like that, bodies entwined, for a very long time.

Grinning fondly at the memory, Will raises his head to look at Hannibal, who has already fallen back asleep, his lips parted ever so slightly. It will never cease to amaze him how innocent and vulnerable this man looks in sleep, when he is anything but in reality. Although, in a way, Hannibal is vulnerable. To Will. By choice.

The knowledge that he has a measure of control over this creature, who is so much more than a man, makes him feel strangely privileged.

He smiles softly as a wave of reverent affection wells up within him.

He lays his head back down on Hannibal’s chest and allows the soft beating of his heart to lull him back to sleep.