Hannibal looks up from his work, smiling to himself as the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, his ribs give a little twitching breath in complaint of sudden cold, his tongue tastes the sharp burn of fresh blood and cooled meat, and his fingers shiver, breath misting. He's not alone.
"Hello, Will," he murmurs with another smile, and regards the body laid out in front of him. It is, right now, incomplete – missing several essential components that would guarantee life once the experiment is underway. The stomach, for instance, and a second leg – a tongue, and eyes. They've been having trouble finding the right eyes, as those things are so quick to rot and decay, and Hannibal is nothing if not a perfectionist.
He brushes a thumb along the large stitch marks holding a particularly wide piece of chest together, pressing down to test the strength of the ribs, pleased to find them maintaining their shape admirably. The person who gave them had been shot, dead on impact, and Hannibal had been worried that the trauma from the bullet wound between the lowest set of ribs would have implied weakness in the rest of the bone, but no – they are strong, gently cradling lungs and heart, trachea and esophagus.
Will comes into view at the other side of the table, setting down a large, wet bag with a foot sticking out. He gives Hannibal a wide, pleased smile, peeling the plastic edges back to reveal the limb, severed just above the knee. Below it, a stomach sitting in a pool of blood and viscera.
Hannibal raises a brow. "That looks fresh," he murmurs, and takes the leg from the bag, testing the weight of it. He lays it along the second one, finds that it's an almost perfect match. Slightly paler than the first, but that is a small aesthetic difference – if all goes as plan, the skin will be able to darken equally, the stitches will tighten, and the body will be able to house Will and heal as his lifeforce gives it the energy to.
Will gives him another wide smile, his eyes shining brightly in the lights. His visage, ghostly and translucent, shivers at the sound of Hannibal's pride. "Found him this morning," he murmurs. "Sunrise funeral. He died of a stroke."
Hannibal hums, and pulls out his surgical kit, threads the needle and begins to attach the leg to the base of the thigh they'd already managed to source. Will can only touch and interfere with things already dead, or inanimate, so he busies himself with holding the two pieces of leg steady and secure as Hannibal works.
"We're getting closer," Hannibal murmurs, and despite the chill of the room that allows the body to be preserved, his hands do not shake.
Will hums. "I've been thinking," he says, and lifts his eyes to watch Hannibal's face as he works. "The eyes. Every time I've found a pair, they're too old, already started to rot. We'll need fresh ones."
Hannibal nods. It's a thought that has been troubling him as well – even the act of transporting eyes recently harvested is enough time for them to lose their quality, greying out in death. If Will were to take a body with bad eyes, he might run the risk of being blind, and this experiment is already groundbreaking enough. He wants it to be perfect.
"I can't take someone's eyes," Will says. "You can."
Hannibal pauses, and looks up to meet Will's gaze. When Will was alive, Hannibal didn't know him, merely met him as a manifestation in his newly-acquired home. At first, Will had been terrified of him, caught him in the middle of harvesting one of his victims for their organs. It is that victim's spine and part of his ribs that hold the base of Will's future body, now.
"I can," he says mildly, and smiles. "Would you like that, darling?"
Will swallows harshly, his pale fingers flexing along the pieces of leg he's holding. "I want to be able to touch you," he confesses. "To see you, when I do."
"I know, my love," Hannibal says gently, releasing his needle to reach up and pet the edges of Will's cheek. "I want that as well."
Will smiles, lowers his lashes and turns his cheek so his nose presses, cold, through Hannibal's skin. He sighs, though there is no movement of air to mark it, and swallows. "It's all that's left, right?" he asks, and he sounds so small and shaken, the same way he did when they first met. "Just the eyes."
"And a tongue," Hannibal says with a nod.
Will nods as well, pulls back and takes his hands away. It tires him, Hannibal knows, to remain seen.
"There's going to be a storm, the night after next," he says. Hannibal nods – Will has always been the most accurate weather vane he's ever seen, and knows the comings and goings of wind and water – tells him, before Hannibal can ask. "Bring me my eyes. Make me live again."
Hannibal smiles, and gestures Will forward, and kisses the edge of his mouth. "As you wish."
Hannibal knows what Will used to look like when he was alive, when he was still a man and vibrant with the God-given essence of life within him. Will guided him to a picture with his obituary, and Hannibal, had he not already been in love, would have fallen straight into it at the sight of him.
Though her eyes are not nearly as beautiful, nearly as bright or icy-blue, he hopes they will suffice, and that Will's soul will make them shine. He slits her throat in his kitchen and cuts out her eyes and tongue, bringing them down and attaching them as quickly as he can, and then brings the carcass up and outside, strapping it down to the metal table as lightning crackles across the sky.
Will manifests beside him, chilling the air and bringing with him an unnatural light, pale and silvery, and he looks up to the sky and laughs as it breaks in another streak of lightning. Lifts his hands, as rain starts to fall through him.
"Will," Hannibal murmurs, and brushes his hand through the other man's. "If this doesn't work, know that I will not stop trying. I will have you in my arms, or die still experimenting."
"I know," Will replies, soft with affection. He smiles, and touches Hannibal's cheek as best he can, and lets his lips linger in a ghostly kiss.
Hannibal smiles, and Will disappears from sight as he adjusts the lightning rods, straps down the body with sheets of aluminum and steel. He has rubber boots on, which will stop him from being affected should the lightning touch him. When he's finished, soaked with rain, he must merely sit, and wait.
He doesn't have to wait long. Lightning curls down from the sky like a cat lunging for a toy, circling the rods, streaking across the puzzle body, making it jerk and twitch beneath the sheets of metal. He smiles, watching, his fingers curling and his heart throbbing with anticipation. He lingers there, until the storm abates and the lightning moves away with a lick of thunder, and approaches the convulsing body.
"Will?" he murmurs, and touches the soft curls he attached to the scalp, brushes over the closed eyelids as they twitch with another echo of electricity. It tingles along his skin, makes his fingers curl, and he sighs when the body's shaking subsides, but there are no signs of life. He doesn't allow himself to feel disappointed, however – this was an experiment, the first of many he's willing to try.
He rolls the body back in and places it in the basement, takes the carcass of his latest victim and dissects her as he normally does, packing away her meat. Then, he attaches a small electric current to each end of the table, making the body twitch and shiver, mimicking life. He feeds the body her blood, wanting the heart to start beating, and though small beads of it well up around the sutures, his stitching was secure and he detects no major leaks.
Will doesn't appear to him, but that's alright – perhaps he is disappointed, too. Understandable. But Hannibal will not stop trying.
He wakes to the sound of movement, and sits upright as the door to his bedroom swings open slowly. Living in a house with a ghost, he'd gotten used to things being moved and shifted, but Will has just as often merely walked through walls or furniture – he rarely moves Hannibal's things, except as reminders or when he's frustrated, to make a point.
The light from the hallway, however, reveals a silhouette. A hand, outstretched, touching the door handle. Something solid and black, breathing in a rasp like someone very sick, a leg dragging forward, foot limp before flattening, weight tested, and then another step.
Hannibal turns on the light, and gasps.
The creature blinks at him, and Hannibal was right – those lackluster eyes shine now, and Hannibal rises from bed, goes to Will, takes in the stitching along his face, connecting lower jaw to cheek. The ring around his neck where he attached the head. The bulging, ugly knots of string connecting his arms. Will is not quite warm, but certainly not the chill of the dead either, and slicked with beading droplets of blood.
Will grunts, parts his teeth, tongue hanging limply – no saliva, he notices, Will's mouth is dry and very red. He lifts his eyes, grunts again, pawing gracelessly at Hannibal's chest.
Hannibal smiles, takes in the tightness around Will's eyes, the grimace of his mouth and wrinkled nose. "I know, darling, it will hurt for a while. Come." He takes Will in his arms and leads him to the bathroom, fills the bath with warm water that will encourage dilation of the blood vessels and easier circulation, and sets Will inside. Will flinches, limbs twitching and limp, and tips his head back, showing the wounds around his neck, the water turning pink as his dirty, bloody body soaks into it.
Hannibal grabs a washcloth, balls it up and wets it in the water, dragging it gently over Will's chest. Will merely pants, sighing, breathing heavily – but he is breathing, his chest rising and falling in little aborted gasps, his stomach sunken from hunger, his scarred legs twitching and making the water swirl.
"Remarkable," he murmurs. Will is alive, Will managed to find his way into this body Hannibal made for him. He smiles, widely, when Will's eyes open, looking at him with big pupils and lowered lashes. His mouth twitches at the corners, his head rolls and Hannibal catches his cheek, gasping a breath when he feels his fingers connect, finally, with a smooth cheek. He had tried to point Will towards bodies that shared his physical likeness, and succeeded for the most part – this body has Will's jaw, Will's sharp cheekbones. The nose is less crooked, less wide, the hair not quite as dark or as soft-looking, but it's damn close.
Will grunts again, pets harshly at his jaw. Hannibal frowns, fits his fingers below Will's chin and gently eases his mouth open so he can peer inside. Will's tongue is still limp, lifeless, not even twitching, and he sighs, pressing his lips together.
"If it doesn't start reacting in a few hours, it will begin to rot," he tells Will, and receives a blink in answer. "We will find you another, don't fret."
"How does it feel?"
Will blinks at him, turns his head to eye the wall of tile next to the bath. He grits his teeth, lifts his hand, and drags the pink water across the tile, tracing the edges of grout and managing to draw a shaky 'HURTS' along it.
Hannibal sighs. "It will hurt," he says solemnly. "And we shall have to make sure to keep treating your muscles until they react properly. But this is very promising, Will – if you manage to stay inside this body, I'm sure it will heal."
Will's brow creases in a little twitch. He draws 'ALIVE' along the tile, and Hannibal's smile widens.
"Yes, darling," he breathes, and cups Will's skull, feels his hair growing damp from the water, and kisses his forehead. "You're alive."
Will sighs, and paws at Hannibal's wrist, tugging, too weak to really move. When Hannibal pulls back, set to the task of bathing him and checking the stitches, Will's stolen mouth is stretched in a wide, toothy smile.
Once he is clean, Hannibal dries him and takes him to bed, marveling at the delicate almost-flush of pink covering Will's body. Will nudges him with his nose, paws weak and uncoordinated at his hips, and Hannibal gives him a pad of paper and a pen, so he can write if he needs to until they determine if his tongue will suffice, or if Hannibal will have to source him a new one.
Will's hand is shaky, his letters jittery, but legible, when he scrawls and shows Hannibal what he's written; 'Touch me'.
Hannibal's brows lift, but he smiles, placing Will on his back and fitting a pillow beneath his hips. Will has watched him before, perched on the end of his bed and whining weakly as Hannibal touched himself, imagined Will's mouth or his hands or much sweeter parts of him wrapped around Hannibal's cock. Will's skin still holds the subtle scent of earth and lightning, but he breathes it in deeply as Will spreads his legs, lets out a weak, wanting sound, and digs his nails into Hannibal's wrist.
The penis Hannibal gave him lies limp, and does not react when Hannibal touches it – remains flaccid and cool to the touch as he strokes it idly. So, too, Hannibal did not give him a prostate, and so fresh from the grave it's not likely that this will be pleasurable for Will.
But Will is nodding, pawing at him, showing the paper over and over again, and digs his heels into the mattress, gives a little shuddering twitch in an attempt to lift his hips, seeking, asking. He moans as Hannibal ignores his cock, pushes instead at his tight, dry rim, forcing two fingers in without even wetting them first.
Will's body twitches, muscles trying to respond to what the new brain is attempting to do, synapses and nerve endings re-wiring and trying to center themselves to obeying the will of his essence, his soul. Still, he can only show Hannibal the paper again and again, close his eyes and bare his neck as Hannibal pushes his twitching muscles apart, forcing them into pliancy. Hannibal knows, the more used to his new skin he gets, the more he may react, and Hannibal can find him new places to be sensitive, fill him with nerves and places that will fire and light him up whenever Hannibal touches him. He could make Will a slave to whatever he wants, make it so just a touch to his neck sends him to his knees, make it so Will comes just from having his hair pulled. He could do it, and he wants to do it – wants to see how he can make Will better, improve and align his desires until Will is as weak for him in life as he was in death.
It is with a savage smile that he takes his fingers out, pushes his lounge pants down to his thighs, and bends Will in half, exposing him. Will nods again, frantically, gasping out little hitching breaths as his body, flexible and bowing, folds in half until his knees are pressed to his shoulders, his feet touching Hannibal's chest.
He cannot speak, but nods, and mouths 'Please, please, Hannibal', and Hannibal bows his head, spits onto Will's pink, clenching rim, and starts to work his cock inside.
Will can't speak, but he can moan, and a ragged cry is punched from his new lungs as Hannibal fucks into him. His lips part and Hannibal snarls, clenching his jaw at the tight off-heat of Will, the way his entire body flexes and spasms beneath Hannibal like he's been given another jolt of electricity.
Hannibal fucks into him brutally – there will be a time for gentleness, later, when Will is whole and can move on his own, can ask for it properly. For now, there is only this; Will, pinned beneath him, staring up at Hannibal as he imagines Adam regarded God, and he wraps an arm around Hannibal's neck, clings to him weakly as Hannibal forces Will's legs to his chest, uses his hurting, fresh body for his own pleasure.
Will whimpers, bares his teeth – Hannibal found his original teeth after they first met, in love with the sharpness of his canines, the straight whiteness of them. Though Will's lower jaw is not his own, his teeth are all him, and Hannibal smiles and leans down, licking over them. He does not kiss – won't, until that tongue corrects itself.
His hand flattens on the newest set of stitches, connecting Will's leg just above the knee, and he shudders, snarling – this man is his, his design, his creation. A testament to Hannibal's prowess, and his skill. He will make an icon of Will, display him when their time is done, and baffle the best and brightest minds at the mix of all DNA that makes him up.
Will shivers, breath hitching as Hannibal goes still; it is that thought that finishes him, the idea that Will might, one day, walk among the living again, and people will marvel at the scar on his neck and the soft glow of his eyes and know they are looking upon something unnatural, something divine.
He presses deep, working his come into Will, giving more of himself as he has given all of himself to Will's new body. Will trembles against him, muscles twitching and lax, and winces when he pulls out, breathing hard. Still flaccid, no pleasure for him – but Hannibal can correct that, too. He'll make it so that he only has to look at Will to make him howl.
He kisses Will's forehead, catching his breath, breathes in the scent of dirt and air and blood on Will's skin. His stitches have torn in places, beading with fresh, red blood, and he smiles, turns his head and licks over the attachment of Will's lower leg, before he lets him go, lets him fall lax and used on the bed.
He cups Will's face, marveling now that he can, and kisses his forehead again. "Beautiful," he murmurs.
Will's scarred mouth twitches in a smile, his lashes flutter, and he manages to write, shaky and barely legible; 'Thank you'.