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A Prime Cut

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“I assure you,” Hannibal said, as he tended to the meat sizzling on the cast-iron pan, “that this is tradition.”

Will eyed him skeptically from his place at the kitchen counter.

“Garlic, shallots, butter, rosemary—” he tilted the pan, spooning the melted butter over the sear. “And how is dear Molly?”

Will frowned. “What about her?”

The meat sizzled as Hannibal adjusted it. “You married her.”

“And then I threw us off a cliff together.” Will pointed out. He didn’t point out the divot in the finger of his naked left hand, where a ring once was. He also didn’t point out that they had then hunted down Bedelia and chopped off her leg, or any of the many other actions they had taken recently.

Hannibal, back stiffly straight with offence in the kitchen, didn’t respond. Instead he finished cooking with quick, efficient movements, pulling the meat off the pan to rest. When he deemed it sufficiently cool, he turned to Will.

“If you’ll lie down on the dining table,” he said, deliberately.

“I’m wondering about your Lithuanian traditions,” Will said, though he took his wine and headed towards the dining table.

Hannibal plucked the wine from his hands before he reached the door. “You won’t be needing this.”

Will arched an eyebrow, but he obediently settled on the dining table, bare. “I haven’t heard of any traditions that involve lying naked on a table unless human sacrifice is involved, and I thought we agreed I wasn’t going to be eaten.”

“Don’t you trust me?” Hannibal responded.

“You tried to cut open my skull,” Will pointed out, lying back on the table.

Hannibal didn’t dignify that with a response. Instead, he slid the meat onto Will’s stomach. “Hold very still,” he said, as he began to eat, knife sliding through the meat, the whisper of metal against the smile on skin.

Will paused. “Wait.”

“Yes, Will.”

“This isn’t a Lithuanian tradition at all!”

“I never said it was Lithuanian.”

“You’re just eating a steak!”

“Indeed, you are correct.”

His head fell back with a thump. “You’d think that running away would have been enough for you. But no, you have to steak your claim.”