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A Valued Client

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"Doctor Lecter," he said, blade in hand. Its flash caught in the late afternoon sun through the front window; the same haze of honeyed gold had turned his pebble-grey eyes an exquisite hazel-green. A slight smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "I didn't expect you."

Hannibal inclined his head. "My apologies, Mr Graham. Of course I'd usually call, but I found myself in the area and thought I'd stop by on the off-chance."

Mr Graham—Will, as Hannibal knew from conversation—gave a nod.

"Take a seat," he said, gesturing absently with the blade to a waiting area, in which Hannibal had sat many times. "I should be about fifteen minutes here..." He carefully reapplied the razor beneath his current client's nose. "That okay for you?"

"More than." Hannibal settled in a comfortable leather armchair, availed himself of Mr Graham's back catalogue of Esquire magazine, and allowed the quiet jazz to unwind him as he waited. This barbershop was the only one he ever visited. He'd tried a nearby business, once, when Mr Graham was closed for renovations. The experience had been the closest thing to an assault he'd ever paid for. He'd left with his skin sore and chafed, his head ringing from a combination of thundering R&B and an aftershave they surely ordered in by the barrel, and with his mood so soured it took nearly three days to feel himself again. He'd been on Mr Graham's doorstep the very morning he reopened.

Shaving at home was his usual method of grooming; this was a treat he gave himself when he felt the need for professional care.

The current client was evidently new to Mr Graham's business. He and Will talked on-and-off, idle fragments of conversation as Will finished the shave, work and family and the weather. When Will finished, the man was quite naturally delighted with the results. He arranged a return appointment at once; Hannibal was glad to observe from the corner of his eye that he tipped Will handsomely. They parted at the door, shaking hands.

Quietly pleased, Will watched him go.

He then turned to Hannibal.

The spark rekindled in his eye—the glitter of familiar company, the two of them alone at last.

"Can I get you a coffee?" he asked, as he flipped the sign. Closed. Please call to make an appointment. The sight alone stirred Hannibal's blood. "Or tea?"

Hannibal smiled. "Coffee would be wonderful, thank you."

Will didn't need to ask how he took it. He'd remembered since Hannibal's first visit.

"Come on through," he said, and with pleasure Hannibal followed him through to the back room. It was quieter here, warmer; the natural noise and scent pollution from the street didn't reach this more intimate space. An antique barber's chair in the centre of the room awaited Hannibal, pride of place atop a large vintage rug, its leather soft and gleaming in the lower light. The music from the front room barely stirred in the back of his mind.

Will took his jacket for him, handling it with the greatest of care, and invited Hannibal to sit.

When Will returned, he carried a copper cafetiere, gently steaming. He made Hannibal's coffee for him; the care he took was visible in the large wall-mounted mirror in front of him.

"Blue Mountain?" Hannibal noted, with interest. "Am I being spoiled?"

Will's smile was immediate.

"Your nose, Doctor Lecter," he said, glancing up into the glass. His eyes glittered. "Always amazes me. I did wonder if you'd be able to tell." He brought the coffee—perfectly made—to the small circular table at Hannibal's side. "The usual today?"

Hannibal relaxed back into the chair, allowing his eyes to close. "Mm, thank you."

"Great," Will murmured—and it was the last real word that would be spoken for a while. He had the particular quality that Hannibal found vital in a barber: knowing when conversation was sought and when his quiet expertise was enough. He lowered the chair for Hannibal slowly, laid a protective cape across him and ensured it was comfortable around his neck, then disappeared into his side room for a few minutes. Hannibal's eyes stayed settled shut as he waited. He'd fallen briefly asleep in Will's chair before, an experience he'd never had with another barber. The aroma of coffee curled beneath his nose with each breath, his thoughts drifting comfortably to nowhere.

Will's return was marked by steam and sandalwood. There came the gentle sound of a glass bowl full of water being placed at Hannibal's side, then the soft snap of a bottle lid. Will drew his stool closer to Hannibal's head.

His hands appeared beneath Hannibal's chin, gliding up in slow symmetry around his jaw. Hannibal's lungs filled by their own volition. A little more tension flowed from his body into the chair as Will worked the scrub across his face, massaging his skin and spreading the product. He took his time at Hannibal's forehead, purely for comfort and pleasure—he'd discovered during Hannibal's first visit here that head massage was very welcome. Occasionally he re-wet his hands; aside from the gentle splashes, the room stayed perfectly quiet.

Even this stage, some time from the razor, was performed with precision and care. He took a good five minutes to exfoliate Hannibal's skin, then applied the first of many warm towels, allowing it to sit for a few moments before gently wiping away the product.

Next, a facial oil—stroked from the chin upwards, the same leisurely massage as before.

The towel steamed as he laid it across Hannibal's neck.

"Comfy?" he murmured, looking down.

Hannibal hummed, enjoying the heat as it wrapped around his face. Will moulded it gently to his features with quiet presses of his hands, holding it, allowing the steam and the oil to soften Hannibal's pores. The soft splashes as he cleaned off his hands were muffled by the towel.

When his fingertips appeared in Hannibal's hair, they were dry—and the firm, slow circles they worked against his head were nothing short of heaven. Waves and darts of pleasure skittered over Hannibal's scalp at once, liquidising his every thought until it felt as if the warm oil on his face had seeped somehow inside his skull. He retained just enough control of his senses not to moan aloud, restricting himself to the occasional slow exhale; he left the rest of himself to Will. He'd never felt anything but safe in these hands. They had a clean professionalism he adored—and yet they imparted such keenly sensual pleasure. It was a dichotomy he'd always found fascinating. Will, quiet and thoughtful, proud of his skills, had very much become the apex of that interest.

By the time the towel left Hannibal's face, he felt almost drunkenly relaxed.

Will appeared within his fogged view, quietly smiling.

How easy it must be for you, Hannibal thought, admiring his artifice and those rounded, intelligent eyes. And how uniquely pleasant an experience for them. He hoped Will's other back room clients knew they were fortunate—that they took a moment to appreciate it.

Will laid the towel aside, reached across Hannibal for a boar-bristle brush, and saturated it in a fresh bowl of warm water.

"Why today?" he asked, out of interest.

Hannibal thought about it for a while, watching him lather the soap. "An ache," he decided at length. "A desire to be soothed."

Will chuckled; his voice seemed almost as soft as the silence. He applied the soap with quick and practiced smudges. "We all like being taken care of now and then," he said. "It's good for the soul."

Hannibal's eyes closed with a smile, all too pleased to agree. "I hope someone takes good care of you, from time to time?"

"Ha. A sad consequence of being a barber... it becomes incredibly difficult to trust another barber..."

I imagine so. "In other ways, though?"

He had a feeling Will knew to what he was alluding—too professional to recognise it openly, of course, but that wry glance must mean something. "I keep meaning to book a trip to Europe some time... see Italy," Will said. "Just go by myself. Maybe after summer." He re-soaped his brush. "Is it tragic I'd rather take care of myself?"

"Not necessarily," Hannibal replied. He lifted his chin so Will could soap beneath. "Independence can be liberating, to the independent mind... and relying on others for our happiness can certainly have its pitfalls. But it can be very pleasant to trust, now and then... to relax in someone else's hands."

"Hmm. Maybe I'm just one of those people. I'd rather give than take."

Hannibal opened one eye, amused. "Or you don't trust others to adequately fulfil your needs?"

Will's eyes glittered.

"Remind me what you do for a living?" he said. Hannibal attempted not to smile, keeping his mouth closed for Will to apply soap along his upper lip. "We'd better pause the conversation there, Dr Lecter... lest I start to owe you money..."

He laid another hot towel over Hannibal's face. After a few minutes he applied another layer of soap, then gave a careful clean with a cloth just beneath Hannibal's eyes.

Hannibal barely felt the first stroke of the razor. Will seemed to be able to produce the things out of nowhere, and he was as gentle with them as any artist with a paintbrush. Though Hannibal's beard and moustache grew fairly slowly, and confined themselves to a reasonable area, Will was always thorough. He took his time. He attended to Hannibal's cheeks first, then with care along his chin, stretching the skin with his thumb to ensure the closest possible shave. The crisp, gentle strokes of the blade felt perfectly soft.

Each time Will did this for him, it reminded Hannibal of the first time.

"You're a good client," Will had told him at the end, amused, drying his hands as Hannibal admired the results in the mirror. "A lot of people puff their cheeks out, try to give me a hand... nice to find someone who lies back and lets me work..."

The only aid Hannibal now offered was to tilt his head into Will's guiding hands, exposing his throat for the blade to glide along it.

Is this usually when? he wondered. Or do you finish first? He had a curious instinct it was when Will had finished. There was a thoroughness to the barber's nature, an appreciation for ritual, that surely wouldn't be able to bear an unfinished shave.

He hummed as the blade passed over his throat. 

When Will had finished with the shave, there came a final towel—this time, cool. Will massaged Hannibal's shoulders for him as the comforting chill closed his pores, soothing his skin after the blade. All the cells of his body hummed with contentment as the towel came away. Will applied a generous layer of moisturiser, taking a few minutes to ensure it was massaged properly into his skin. He dusted powder beneath Hannibal's chin and behind his ears, then lightly over his face. He removed the towel across Hannibal's chest, then the cape.

Lazy with contentment, Hannibal lifted a hand to brush his fingertips along his jaw—a smoothness no bathroom shave could ever hope to equal. He never felt quite so clean as in these first few moments after Will.

Will smiled, pleased by his enjoyment. He dropped the towel on which he'd dried his hands into a laundry hamper, and watched Hannibal take a sip of coffee.

"Anything else I can do for you?" he asked.

Hannibal's stomach stirred. He'd hoped the usual offer would be made; a part of the experience he'd now come to crave. He licked his lips, placing the coffee casually aside. "If you've time."

"For a valued client," Will said. He waited for Hannibal to lie back again and get comfortable, then settled on his knees beside the chair. His eyes flicked up as he reached for Hannibal's belt.

He held Hannibal's gaze, undoing the buckle with neat, slow motions.

Hannibal's fingers flexed on the arm of the chair. The truth was he'd been hard since the final towel, and halfway there since he stepped through the door. He'd been surprised on the first occasion—a service not advertised publicly on the price list, and he remained pleasantly unsure whether he was the only client ever offered it—but Will's skill with his mouth was nearly equal to his skill with a blade, and he never rushed in his demonstration of either.

As Will freed him from the confines of his trousers, Hannibal wrapped a hand around the back of his neck. These curls were a delight to tangle restless fingers through, a sensual experience in their own right. Dutifully Will leaned forward; he slid the wet pad of his tongue from root to tip without hesitation, his bright grey eyes gazing upwards, and it was enough to spill a faint shudder down Hannibal's spine. He watched as Will teased the crown of his cock with the heat of his mouth, an open and lazy kiss. Gentle sweeps of tongue came as an apology for teasing; he started to lap Hannibal with all the care he'd put into massaging his scalp, decadently slow, offering up his gaze at all times. He pushed up Hannibal's shirt a little, fanned fingers stroking his stomach.

As Hannibal began to make sound, low breaths shivering into groans, Will finally obeyed the gentle tugging of his hair. He admitted Hannibal's cock into his mouth, taking as much as he could with a lazy flutter of his eyes, curling one hand about the rest.

He was deliciously slow today. He sucked Hannibal's cock as if they'd be here half the night, petting idle patterns across his stomach. He responded to Hannibal's restless breaths with pleased flashes of his eyes and lazy rubbing of his tongue. Long minutes in, Hannibal slid both hands around Will's jaw and held him there, fingers tremoring, arching his hips up with need into the wet heat of his mouth. Will's moans came muffled around his cock, thick and eager. He relaxed into Hannibal's grip like a caught rabbit; his eyes closed with longing as Hannibal fucked his mouth.

It would be deeply satisfying to come like this—and desperately easy. Will had serviced him this way every few weeks for months now. He'd started wondering why more barbers didn't branch out; they'd make a fortune.

But as Hannibal felt the pressure begin to tighten in his balls, heat flashing through his abdomen, he realised there was something he wanted in addition.

"Maybe I'm just one of those people. I'd rather give than take."

He could see it now—a keen interest in pleasuring and giving, causing but not receiving, not permitting himself that fragility. Will had never refused Hannibal anything before. Indeed, he'd gone to pains to please Hannibal unprompted, with no apparent gain except continued customer loyalty and increasingly generous tips.

Hannibal found himself interested to see where the limit laid—and if it could be pushed.

Tightening one hand in Will's hair, he used the other to press against his jaw and disengage his mouth. It took Will a moment to understand the gesture. He released Hannibal's cock from his lips with a questioning lift of his eyes, and an expression that suggested he feared he'd unwittingly caused some displeasure.

Hannibal cupped his cheek, taking a moment to settle his breath. He brushed the pad of his thumb across Will's parted lips, enjoying the gentle pull of the lower one. He rather liked the look of quiet uncertainty.

"Strip," he said, softly, "then come here into my lap. Let me fuck you."

Will's immediate response was trepidation. It rounded his eyes a little, his breath skipping in his throat. A boundary. A liberty too far. As Hannibal watched, waiting for an answer, he saw a shift take place behind the guarded expression—curiosity kindling, consideration, the first touch of selfishness he'd ever seen in Will. He saw the thought that it might be enjoyable start to challenge that first wary instinct.

As the barber stood, Hannibal couldn't be certain whether he was about to be humoured or asked to leave. Will looked down at him, quiet; his expression seemed almost calculating, as if he was trying to read something written just beneath the surface of Hannibal's face.

Will then lifted a hand, reaching for the top button of his shirt.

He was slender beneath his clothes—a little pale, a little boyish and rather shy. He didn't strip as a performance, but didn't hurry it either. It was done quietly and neutrally as a step to something he wanted, and he left his clothing where it fell upon the rug. Naked, he climbed into the chair with Hannibal, settled across his lap and leaned to kiss him—and while it wasn't something Hannibal had foreseen, he contentedly permitted it. Will's mouth felt soft and pleasurable to penetrate with his tongue; there was something rather nice about his bare skin pressed against the fabric of Hannibal's clothing. He held Will by the hips, kissing him slowly until he settled, until he could feel Will's cock rutting gently against his shirt.

The bottle of facial oil Will had used on him still sat close at hand upon the table.

Hannibal reached for it, uncapped it with his thumb, and guided it into Will's hands.

It seemed Will was used to anal sex; from the feel of him, he'd engaged in it recently. The realisation caused Hannibal an uncharacteristic and strange flash of jealousy, pushed aside as Will moaned against his mouth and sank lower on his cock. He gripped Will's waist gently in both hands, keeping him close, and guided his own focus to that tight and resistant squeeze, the heat of Will's insides, the promise of his pulse just beneath his skin.

It didn't take Will long to settle. He started to move almost as soon as Hannibal was fully inside him, leaning back with a shudder and bracing his hands on the arms of the chair. He gazed down at Hannibal as he rocked, flushed and dark-eyed, his lips softly parted. It was quite the view: the long line of Will's torso was broken only by the pink of his nipples, the path of hair down from his navel and the swollen length of his prick, bobbing a little as they moved.

He was quiet, at first. The only sound for some time was their soft, shared panting and the occasional quiet creak of the chair. Will seemed happy to do the work; he rode Hannibal's cock with quiet focus and enjoyment, pulling at the corner of his lip.

Tipping oil into his palm, Hannibal wrapped his hand into a sleeve for Will to fuck. The moans broke soon after, the trembling, the deeper breaths as Will struggled with his rising excitement, thrusting himself through the slick circle of Hannibal's fingers then rocking down, grinding Hannibal's cock against his prostate, over and over.

It was enjoyable even to watch.

Will flushed darker, sweating; he started to gasp to himself, intoning the word 'fuck' very softly under his breath. After almost twenty minutes, he opened his eyes with a flutter of panic and scrabbled for a hand towel from the table, panting. He gathered it around his own cock as he shook—and with a curious pang, Hannibal realised Will didn't wish to soil his clothing as he came. It was strangely, desperately considerate.

He took hold of the towel, his eyes locked in Will's as he pulled it from his grasp. Tossing it aside, Hannibal curled his hand back in place and began to stroke, firm and quick, watching with delight as Will's face contorted.

"I—" Will gasped out, arching. He scrabbled for the arms of the chair. "S-Shit—shit, s-stop or I'll—"

"I want you to." Hannibal drew a breath and bucked upwards, chasing, bouncing Will a little in his lap. "Show me. Let me see."

Will threw his head back. Volume ruptured from his throat as their skin slapped, moaning loud and desperate. He writhed as Hannibal drove up inside him; his expression twisted.

He came in thick stripes across Hannibal's waistcoat, unleashing more noise than Hannibal had ever heard him make. The sheer sight hauled Hannibal into release of his own. Weeks from now, he'd still be remembering it late at night, lowering his hands beneath the sheets to ease the pressure that the memory caused.

When his senses returned, his only sight was Will, panting and exhausted, pink patches blooming beneath the film of sweat across his chest.

"H-Holy shit..." Will breathed. He swallowed, shivering, and looked down at Hannibal in a daze. "H-Holy shit..."

Satisfaction coiled through Hannibal's stomach. He stroked his hands from Will's hips to his waist, gripping. "Mhm... yes, excellent..."




Will was kind enough to give him a bag to carry home his waistcoat. Rather sweetly, he made some awkward and hopeful comment about dry cleaning bills—but Hannibal wouldn't hear a word of it. He'd be keeping the waistcoat as it was, a trophy just as cherished as any of his others.

They shared a kiss when Will was dressed, slow and rather tender in the quiet of the back room. At the desk Hannibal arranged his next appointment. The tip he left made Will blush and smile at once, but it was accepted with discreet gratitude. The sun had almost set now; the last of its rich garnet glow turned Will's eyes almost gold, bright and sated, his pupils deep.

"Well... thanks for dropping by," he said, as Hannibal slipped his wallet inside his jacket.

"Not at all," Hannibal replied. He caught Will's gaze, holding it a moment with pleasure. "Thank you for fitting me in."

Will flushed again. It was rather pretty, Hannibal thought, this post-coital coyness. There was something delightful about those people who turned shy when well and truly fucked.

"Any time," Will said. He flipped the sign to Open, smiling as he got the door for Hannibal. "Enjoy the rest of your evening."

As his foot hit the sidewalk, Hannibal realised he simply had to ask. Things had changed this time, enough to pull the question from the back of his brain into his mouth. The memory of Will vocalising in his climax made the decision for him; he was too curious to resist.

He paused in the doorway, smiled, and turned his gaze back to the barber.

"The foot lever," he said, with fascination. "The one on the side of your chair."

Will smiled in return.

"Lowers the back," he said, leaning against the door frame. "Pretty standard."

Hannibal raised an eyebrow. "And... the other lever?" he asked.

Will held his gaze, ever so slightly too intense. His smile didn't move.

"Y'know," he said, with a shake of his head and a mouth-shrug, "I don't think I've ever used it. Drops the height, maybe?"

Hope tickled across the back of Hannibal's neck. He let his mouth curve, deciding to save for another visit his questions about the trapdoor clearly visible at the edge of Will's vintage rug; the set of stairs at the side of the shop, leading down into a locked and bolted basement; the four men who had disappeared in this neighbourhood over the last two years.

"I like you, Will," he murmured. He took the barber's hand and shook it. "I always have."

Their fingers brushed as he let go. Will remained in the doorway, watching him step back.

"Until next time, Doctor Lecter." He bit his lip. "Come again soon."