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Acceptance and Persuasion

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The realization hit him one day out of the blue. On a day that had been like any other in the past few months since they had healed from their fall off a cliff covered in the blood of a dragon. It came to him suddenly, and seemingly without prompt: He and Hannibal would be intimate. Physically and wholly intimate. The thought was just there, out of nowhere. He had never been interested in men sexually. Never thought to question his "straight as an arrow" sexuality. And he wasn't questioning it now. Not really. There were no questions warring in his head, there were only answers and certainty. He looked at Hannibal sitting across from him and just knew that their life together would include physical intimacy. It would include sex.

Will expected shock, or shame, or... something negative at thinking it so plainly. But nothing like that came. He looked at Hannibal and he knew, he accepted, and there was no crisis to be had. What was a sexual identity crisis when they had so thoroughly been inside of each other for so long anyway? Had already seen and known the very depths of each other's souls. After all of they had been through together, the act of sex seemed like the natural progression of their relationship. They had already mentally consummated their union with the death of the dragon, and their souls had been joined together for so long before that. They are conjoined, blurred, one. What was sex after that? It was only another level of their transcendence. Another way in which to meld. Will admitted to himself that he wanted to join completely with Hannibal. Wanted, even needed to feel their connection in its utter entirety.

The more he thought about it, the more it made sense. So much so that he chided himself for not knowing it earlier. For not seeing the inevitability of it.

How blind he had been.

What had gone through his mind all those times Hannibal touched him a bit too intimately to be "friendly" touches? Looked at him in a way that friends don't look at each other? What had he been thinking? He had obviously dismissed the idea. "Straight as an arrow" and all that. Hannibal had never been too forward and Will didn't give it enough thought to put two and two together.

Thinking about it, it wasn't a revelation, in any sense of the word, that Hannibal wanted him in a sexual way. But in their previous life in Baltimore, Will thought that Hannibal had just craved their connection. Touched and got close to him because he wanted it to fully form between them. To nurture the beast he knew lurked inside him. He thought that, until after the fall.

After the fall Hannibal seemed to tire of holding back and had completely dropped the person suit Will had known so well. He openly lavished him with verbal affection and loving eyes. Will had been shy at first but it took a very short time for him to relax into it. Hannibal never pushed, never insisted, never even spoke about it. But not a day went by that Hannibal didn't let Will know in words and deed how much he meant to him. How elated he was that they were together, free of the constraints of their old life. Free of everything but each other.

He also became freer with his touch. And oh yes he touched.

Tentatively at first, afraid of Will's reaction. That fear was a big reason Will let him. He loved seeing that vulnerability in Hannibal's eyes, the hesitance in his demeanor. He loved that Hannibal didn't even try to hide himself anymore.

He didn't pull away when Hannibal brushed his fingers while handing him a glass of wine. He smiled when Hannibal caressed his face or neck as he softly whispered words of praise. He didn't so much as flinch when Hannibal's touches became bolder and more lingering. Thinking about it after, he had known that he was silently encouraging Hannibal to do so. His openness to Hannibal's touches made Hannibal bolder, and Will let it happen. Even before his acceptance of sex between them, he let it happen. It hadn't occurred to him not to.

So yes Hannibal touched, more now than he ever had before, and what did it matter? They were together weren't they? In almost all ways? Hannibal was his partner in everything, and neither would ever be with anyone else ever again, there was no doubt of that. Will was certain he would kill anyone who had the audacity to think they could have any kind of connection with Hannibal, and he knew Hannibal felt the same way. They didn't need to have a conversation about it, it just was. So Will didn't evade his touch, or his words, or his eyes anymore. They were one, and Will didn't shy away from his other half. He found himself thinking about that fact sometimes, lying awake at night caressing the scar low on his abdomen. It had become an unconscious habit when he was with Molly and he did nothing to break it now. When he was married the act came with excruciating longing and loneliness, but he felt nothing of that sort now. He was with Hannibal, there was no going back and nothing in him wanted to.

 

Morning came and there was still no identity crisis on his mind. 

Upon waking he had forgotten almost everything about the dream he'd had. He only remembered Hannibal's hands, touching. He remembered his lips, but couldn't remember how they felt. Will brushed his teeth and tried to remember, but it was all a vague shadow moving farther and farther away the more he thought about it. He shut off the water too roughly, frustrated as the pleasantness of his dream faded almost entirely.

He walked to his closet and contemplated putting on actual clothes before he went down to the kitchen where he knew Hannibal would be preparing breakfast, as was his habit. But he didn't, he kept his sleep clothes on and knew Hannibal would forgive his informality at the table. They didn't stand on formalities now anyway.

"Good morning Will." Hannibal greeted breezily, looking up to offer him a smile, his eyes lingering for a moment too long before looking back down to continue slicing some chives to put in their eggs.

Will's chest filled with warmth at the sight and suddenly he was brimming with longing to remember what Hannibal's lips felt like. He went to Hannibal, before he could think too much about it, and turned him gently by the shoulders to face him. "Good morning Hannibal," he said softly before kissing the corner of Hannibal's mouth. A clattering sound rang loudly in the quiet kitchen when Hannibal dropped the knife he was holding. Will pulled back to look at him and Hannibal's eyes were closed. His tongue darted out to run along his lips, for a long moment before he finally opened his eyes and stared at Will. He looked shocked. Will felt amused as Hannibal kept looking that way for much longer than expected. Will had expected shock, arousal even, but he had also expected Hannibal to recover in a reasonable time frame.

He didn't.

Will didn't care to hide the wideness of his grin as he hoisted himself up on the counter next to him and asked, "What's for breakfast?" Hannibal continued to stare so Will reached out and brushed his hand along Hannibal's bicep. "Still with me?" Hannibal's lips parted but nothing came out and Will laughed out loud. "If I had known it would be this easy to make you speechless I would have done it years ago." 

Hannibal was finally able to get himself under control enough to retrieve the fallen knife and wash it off, but he still didn't say anything. He didn't even glance at Will as he continued to chop the chives. Will was instantly worried. "Hey," he said softly laying his hand on Hannibal's to still his movements. "You're not upset are you? You know I wasn't laughing at you, I was just laughing at your reaction."

Hannibal looked up at Will and he saw the most devastated look in his eyes, it made Will want to kiss him for real and with no real reason not to he leaned in... but Hannibal pulled away. "Will, I..." he trailed off looking away.

Will raised his hand to cup Hannibal's face and bring it back to him. "It's okay Hannibal." He caressed those sharp cheekbones softly, just allowing himself to gaze into Hannibal's eyes in a way he had never done before, projecting comfort and affection. "It's okay. Just tell me you're not upset with me."

"I'm not... upset," Hannibal answered, his voice was little more than a whisper and Will smiled again, soothingly.

"Good." He took his hand back and watched Hannibal with keen eyes as he finished with breakfast, just to make sure he really wasn't upset.

 

That night when Hannibal announced that he was retiring to bed, Will agreed. He went to his room, brushed his teeth and changed into his pajama pants but moments later he was at Hannibal's door. He knocked and waited for Hannibal to answer before going in.

Hannibal was walking out of his en suite and without preamble Will walked over to the bed and climbed in. "Will," Hannibal said, taken aback. "What is this?"

"There's no need to pretend Hannibal," there was an immediate ache in his chest. "I want to be here with you," he said softly. He felt a keen apprehension and his heart pounded tensely. But he knew it wasn't him that felt this way. He still had no question of where this was going with Hannibal. He knew and accepted, but he apparently needed to convince Hannibal. Any other time that would be a funny thought, considering he knew how much Hannibal wanted him, but the anxiety he felt removed all amusement from the situation. "I could go back to my room, if you want me to." He genuinely didn't know what to expect from Hannibal now and he truly felt on edge. He knew it was Hannibal feeling that way, but he felt it too and he wanted it to stop. "If you want me here, I'll stay. If you want me to leave, I'll go." He said it as gently as he could. "But I would like to stay here with you. We'll just sleep, no big deal right?" He tried for casual and missed, a nervousness that did not belong to him was zinging up his spine. "Please Hannibal?" he said next because that always worked, but Hannibal just looked at him.

"What are you doing Will?"

Hannibal's voice was nothing more than a murmur and Will ached even more at the sound. He wanted them to be comfortable again. He wanted Hannibal to relax. "Hannibal," he sighed, "Please. I promise its okay.... Is it okay?" He looked imploringly into the other man's eyes, silently begging him to relax, to know that Will's only motive was to sleep in his arms.

Hannibal seemed to understand immediately, he always did. "Of course Will. I just... I did not expect this." He only had a pair of silk pajama pants on and moved to his closet to get a shirt to wear.

Will saw him and said, "You don't have to, on my account," he smiled softly, "It's your bed, you should be comfortable. I'll be comfortable either way."

"Will..."

"You're thinking too much about this Hannibal, just come to bed," Will patted the mattress beside him but Hannibal just stood there and he felt the uneasiness again. "Please?"

Hannibal moved to the bed slowly as if he were in a dream. He lay down and Will instantly cuddled up to him, laying his head on Hannibal's chest. He nuzzled into the warmth there and was only a little surprised that he liked the feel of Hannibal's chest hair against his cheek. Will hummed happily and pulled his arms tight around him. Hannibal was as still as a statue and Will resisted the urge to laugh. "Shhh," he soothed quietly instead. "I just wanted to sleep in your arms. I promise. Is it okay?"

Hannibal let out a long breath before saying, "You're full of surprises today Will."

"But it's okay though, right?"

"Of course it is. It's alright." Hannibal kept his hands at his sides and Will didn't want him to. "This is all just, unexpected."

He didn't know how to convey to Hannibal what he wanted other than telling him outright, so he did, in a manner of speaking. "You might want to put your arms around me," he said with a smile "Otherwise I might feel unwelcome."

Hannibal's wrapped his arms slowly around him and Will sighed with contentment. "Thank you Hannibal."

"For what?"

"I wanted to sleep in your arms tonight and you're letting me. Thank you."

Hannibal breathed a laugh and Will felt him relax, finally. It was such a wonderful feeling. "Anytime Will."

Will knew Hannibal meant it and he couldn't wait for him to prove it. "Hannibal?" he lifted his head to look into Hannibal's face.

"Yes Will?"

Will cupped his hand to Hannibal's cheek and kissed him full on the lips. The kiss was soft and lingering and Hannibal didn't breath. "Goodnight." he said and smiled, pressing another soft kiss into Hannibal's lips.

He laid his head back on Hannibal's chest and thought he wouldn't answer, but when he did Hannibal was breathless, "Goodnight Will."

Will smiled into Hannibal's chest hair and closed his eyes to sleep.

 

The next night he joined Hannibal in bed again. "You said anytime," he smiled and patted the mattress next to him.

"Goodnight Hannibal," he whispered when their arms were around each other, kissing Hannibal on the lips while stroking his face.

He did this every night until Hannibal got the message that this was their bedroom now. Until Hannibal expected him to follow him in. Until he expected him to sleep in his arms after a goodnight kiss.

He enjoyed reassuring Hannibal this way. He had no idea Hannibal would be so afraid to move their relationship to the next level, but he was far from complaining. He loved  the vulnerability Hannibal displayed, it made it easier.