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If Only to be Remarkable

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They’ve been at this for what feels like hours. The room is humid, sticky with their shared breaths, the heat from their bodies, and it absolutely reeks of sex.

Hannibal is nude, sitting back against the headboard with his legs out in front of him, and his arms spread, wrists cuffed to the headboard. Will is currently between his legs, leaning low to occasionally drag his tongue over the head of Hannibal’s engorged cock, looking up at him from under his lashes with a salacious grin.

And to think, Will gets paid to do this. To have this gorgeous creature all but begging for his touch, entirely at Will’s whim, and he gets fucking paid for it. Will does so love his life in moments like these.

He’s spent however long bringing Hannibal to the edge of orgasm over and over again, mesmerized by the way Hannibal’s demeanor has gone from calm, entirely controlled, to the sweating, writhing, begging mess that he is now.

Will reaches up to push Hannibal’s damp hair out of his eyes, sliding his hand down to brush his thumb over Hannibal’s nipple, lightly. Hannibal tightens up in response, hyper sensitive, overwrought, exactly how Will wants him so he does it again, and again. Hannibal growls, lip curling until Will looks up at him with a raised eyebrow.

Will leans in and drags the flat of his tongue over Hannibal’s nipple slowly, then bites.

Hannibal’s cock pulses, milky drops traveling down the bulging vein on the underside. His head drops back, open-mouthed and panting at the ceiling, straining hard at the bindings around his wrists.

Will sits back and waits, silently, for Hannibal to regain a little control. He's trying so hard not to come, not until Will says he can, but Will doesn't want to needlessly torture him past that point so he remains quiet. 

Finally, Hannibal's chest stops heaving and he slowly raises his head, looking back at Will with dark, desperate eyes. His cock is an angry red, rigid and visibly throbbing. 

Will smiles. "Good boy."

Hannibal would have his tongue removed before he ever admitted liking that term directed at him, but Will sees his muscles quiver in response to it. He rarely uses it, honestly, specifically because he doesn't ever want Hannibal to get used to it, to stop reacting that way. 

"Will," Hannibal breathes, "My body will succumb soon, no matter how badly I wish to wait for your command. Please."

“Hmm.” Will tilts his head and drags his blunt nail up the trail of fluid, letting it catch on the swollen head before pressing it to his tongue. The sight of Will sucking Hannibal’s taste of his finger just creates another throb, more precome. The power he holds over this powerful man is fucking intoxicating, to say the least. “So many options.” 

“Anything,” Hannibal declares immediately, hips twitching upward. “Whatever you desire.”

“I know,” Will says with a grin, his voice a gentle purr. “I’m still open from earlier. I could let you fill me up again.” Hannibal’s eyes flutter closed as he listens. “I could hold you in my mouth, let you work yourself into a frenzy trying to fit into my throat.” Another twitch of his hips, more forceful this time. “Or I could just sit here and talk to you, couldn’t I? You’ll come for me regardless. You’re so close already.” 

Hannibal is panting again, head lolling back as the headboard creaks from his desperate attempts to reach out and grab Will, to take what he needs so desperately. Will leans forward and kisses him, gently, barely a press of his lips, just to feel Hannibal fight once more to get to him.

He’s in love with this man. A client. A john, for fuck’s sake. He doesn’t have a clue when it happened, he just knows that he woke up one morning and didn’t want to leave Hannibal’s bed, and most certainly didn’t want to take his money. He loves him, and it hurts.

It hurts because this isn’t Pretty Woman . This isn’t a romantic comedy, and Hannibal isn’t going to whisk him away in a white limo and tell him not to fuck for money anymore. There will come a point when Hannibal has had his fill, and he’ll stop calling for an appointment. He won’t ask for Will to spend the weekend with him, offering double Will’s normal rate plus the cost of boarding for his dogs. He’ll meet someone he wants an actual relationship with and he’ll fade from Will’s life. And it’s going to fucking hurt. 

But, for now, Will has him dangling at the end of his rope, utterly enthralled and enchanted, and Will intends to enjoy every minute of it. 

He grabs the lube from the bedside table and reaches for Hannibal’s cock, forcing himself to slow down when it flexes hard against his wet palm. “Don’t ruin my fun,” Will warns, coating him thoroughly.

Hannibal takes a deep breath and tries to relax, but it’s short-lived; he tenses up again almost immediately when Will turns around to straddle his thighs, facing Hannibal’s feet. His knees sink into the bed as he presses back, fitting Hannibal’s cock snugly between his cheeks, and he arches to rest his head on Hannibal’s shoulder.

It’s a difficult position to hold, but not impossible, and Will is willing to take nearly any sort of discomfort if it means pulling that helpless noise from Hannibal again.

He rolls his hips, sighing at the feeling of Hannibal’s pulsing cock sliding over his hole. Messy, entirely debauched and it’s so fucking hot, Will almost wishes Hannibal wasn’t so close to coming. Will isn’t quite hard - he’s had three orgasms already today, after all - but he’s not soft either, and he swells a bit more when Hannibal turns his head in an attempt to get his mouth on Will’s skin.

Hannibal groans with every slippery slide between Will’s cheeks, his breath turning ragged as he strains. Will lazily rolls his head toward the man that’s falling apart beneath him, their lips so close to touching that they graze when Will murmurs, “You gonna come for me, baby?”

Then, Hannibal’s cockhead catches the rim of Will’s hole, creating a stuttering friction that makes Will moan involuntarily, and Hannibal’s entire body seizes as he comes.

"You tortuous thing, yes -" His beautiful, severe features twist into a stunning grimace and he moans loudly, voicing his pleasure in a way Will rarely gets to see from the mostly stoic man. 

“There you go,” Will whispers with a smile, eyes travelling over Hannibal’s face, wishing he could capture that blissful look for eternity, keep it with him always.

It feels like it goes on forever, and Will gradually slows the movement of his hips when Hannibal hisses from over-sensitivity. The lay against one another for a few long moments, until Hannibal is all but limp in his bonds. He barely moves at all when Will climbs over him and off the bed to grab the towel hanging from the chair, quickly cleaning himself up before gently removing the cuffs from Hannibal’s wrists.

He rubs the sore, reddened skin as Hannibal re-centers himself, using the same towel to clean Hannibal up, gentling his touch when Hannibal hisses again. “I know,” Will says quietly, soothingly, wanting to keep the bubble of intimacy they’ve created for another moment.

Hannibal seems to wake up a bit when Will slides into the bed next to him, rolling his shoulders and clearing his throat, impenetrable mask already back in place. Will hates it. “Forgive me, I’ll-”

“Hey, no,” Will tells him, shaking his head, feeling foolish but pushing forward anyway. “Lose the armor for tonight, yeah? You can go back to being indestructible tomorrow.”

They don’t do this. Will doesn’t do this. He doesn’t embrace his johns after they’ve fucked him, or cuddle them, or anything else that could be perceived as ‘relationship things’. He doesn’t do them because he’s had his share of johns thinking they had a claim to him, developing feelings , and it gets messy. He’s never wanted a john to develop feelings for him, until now.

Now, he just wants Hannibal to leave his guard down for once, curl into Will’s arms and sleep for two days. He doesn't know why Hannibal's armor is there in the first place -his family, something happened to his family, Will is almost sure, but it's so rare that he allows Will to quiet his mind. Will is desperate to keep this relaxed, sated, happy Hannibal for a while longer. 

And when Hannibal does exactly that, looking surprised but pleased, pressing a sweet kiss over Will’s heart with a sigh as he relaxes against him, Will hopes that he can’t hear how fast it’s beating. 

"You are a treasure, Will. A singular beauty."

Will kisses his hair, running his fingertips lightly down Hannibal’s spine. “Thank you for my gift.”

Will is used to things like jewelry, lavish vacations, even lingerie from some clients. He should have known Hannibal would never be so pedestrian. Even the idea of gifting Will something less than unique would no doubt offend his sensibilities.

Earlier in the day, Hannibal had presented him with a sleek, black case that contained a knife. It looks close to a traditional hunting knife, except the blade is smooth rather than serrated, and the handle is black, curved, and holds four emeralds. Also, and most importantly, a non-English word carved in elegant script.

“What does it say?” He’d asked, dumbfounded, unable to take his eyes off the beautiful craftsmanship.

“It’s Lithuanian, my mother tongue,” Hannibal had explained. “It means, essentially, ‘remarkable’.”

Will had blushed to the tips of his ears, and then promptly dragged Hannibal up the stairs and proceeded to turn his brain to mush.

“I’m glad you like it,” Hannibal says, his accent thicker now that he’s drained and drowsy. “I spent weeks trying to conjure up a phrase to accurately describe you before I realized there isn’t one. But ‘remarkable’ comes close.” 

All Will can do is hold Hannibal a bit tighter, and pray once again that his racing heart can’t be heard.

Will hopes for foolish, impossible things, especially when Hannibal says flowery shit like that. He sleeps like the dead, and finds himself still curled around Hannibal protectively the next morning. 

 

**


“Can’t believe I let you buy me into this again.”

“Were you truly so miserable last time, love?”

It doesn’t matter how many times Hannibal calls him that, or that it’s just a stupid pet name that holds no meaning, it still turns Will’s bones to jelly. Makes him hope just a little harder each time.

“Not miserable,” Will admits, fidgeting. “Just… out of place.”

When Hannibal had reached out to Will through his website that first time, nearly four months ago now, trips to the opera and symphony were closer to what Will had expected as a companion to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Will fully anticipated being nothing more than an ornament for Hannibal to parade around his pretentious friends, an easy role to play. What he got instead were delicious dinners, hours of stimulating conversations, and the best, kinkiest sex he’s ever had in his life.

Except for the one time he was wrong, and Hannibal did ask him to go to the symphony. He’d paid Will an obscene amount of money to do it, then fucked Will in the back seat of his car in the parking lot for his troubles. But the absolute best part of the night was that he hadn’t made Will feel like a prostitute. He introduced Will to all of his friends  - acquaintances , he’d corrected - and only spoke of Will’s day job.

Being known, for the first time in many years, as only a teacher at the BAU, felt surprisingly good. Felt normal. That night was, without a doubt, one of the solidifying moments in Will’s mind of how he was falling for the man. He didn’t treat Will like a whore, and it was bigger to Will than even he’d realized at the time.

Which is the only reason he’s back here again, wearing the custom tailored suit Hannibal had purchased for him, mingling with nobility. The performance was phenomenal, thankfully, and Hannibal holding Will’s hand through most of it certainly didn’t make it any worse. It’s not the music he minds, it’s this part. Being social when he’s not in the frame of mind for it.

With other johns, he can be the center of attention, the witty, charming man on some rich dude’s arm because it’s the role he prepares for beforehand. It’s what he’s paid to do. But with Hannibal, he hasn’t needed a role in quite some time. He’s just Will here tonight, and he feels starkly vulnerable.

“You belong here just as well as any of us do,” Hannibal tells him, handing him a glass of wine. He looks devastating in his tux, honestly. Will can’t wait to peel it off of him.

“Well, did you enjoy the performance better this time?”

“Yes, quite,” Hannibal answers. “I should like to thank the man that rid us of that terrible trombonist.”

Will, God help him, cannot stop the exasperated chuckle from leaving his lips. “Hannibal, that trombonist was murdered.”

Hannibal looks at him with a rather clear and your point is ?   Will’s chest feels tight suddenly, absurdly fond of Hannibal’s morbid mind that always manages to make Will feel just a bit better about his own. Absurdly fond of every part of him.

Will steps close, relishing the way Hannibal’s arm immediately slides low on his waist, the way the man’s broad shoulders fill out his jacket, the way he smells. The way he looks into Will’s eyes with clear want at the sudden proximity.

Nuzzling his nose to Hannibal’s cheek, Will murmurs, “How much longer do we have to impress Baltimore’s finest?”

“Something on your mind, Will?” Hannibal asks, his voice going raspy, seemingly unconcerned that they are surrounded by people.

“Yeah, you fucking me over your harpsichord.” 

It's as close to a declaration as Will can get; they never discussed payment for the night, only for the symphony. Watching the intent take root in Hannibal's mind is a glorious thing.

Hannibal’s grip tightens just a fraction, licking his lips as his eyes flutter closed, very briefly, before he takes a step back. “Allow me to speak to Mrs. Komeda one last time before we take our leave.”

“Tell her you’ll throw her a damned dinner party soon so she doesn’t keep you all night,” Will says, mockingly stern. “I’m gonna finish this glass of wine, then I’m dragging you out of here kicking and screaming if I have to.”

“Was that supposed to be a threat?” Hannibal quips with a smile as he takes Will’s hand and kisses it, before turning and walking away.

Kissed his hand like a proper gentleman, as though Will hasn’t been on the pointed end of Hannibal’s savage lust, hasn’t begged the man for his cock, hasn’t seen him beg for an orgasm. The fact that it still made Will’s stomach do ridiculous things is only slightly annoying.

Will shakes his head with a grin, leaning against the wall and taking another sip of his wine. It’s alright, not nearly as good as some of the stuff he’s tried from Hannibal, but it still has him feeling a pleasant warmth in his limbs.

He sees a man walking toward him, someone he recognizes from the last time he was here with Hannibal, and quickly tries to recall the man’s name. Franklyn, maybe?

“Hello. It’s Will, right?”

Frederick. Another psychiatrist . Good looking in a used car salesman sort of way, overly eager to impress, Hannibal in particular, if Will recalls correctly.

“And you’re Frederick. It’s nice to see you again,” Will smiles. Lies. He honestly couldn’t care less about this man, or any of the other people here that he’s met through Hannibal for that matter. Especially not someone that is liable to try to pick apart Will’s brain at any given moment.

“You, as well,” he says. “Hannibal is off charming the masses, I take it?”

“So you do know him,” Will replies with a secretive grin. “We were just getting ready to leave.”

“Ah, I’m glad I’ve caught you then. I wanted to ask you something, if it’s not too much trouble.”

Will doesn’t sigh, but just barely. All this man knows about Will is that he works at the BAU, but it wouldn’t have been hard for him to find out that Will specializes in serial killers. He’s not in the mood to talk death tonight, no matter how badly Frederick wants his depraved curiosity sated. Will hopes Hannibal comes back sooner rather than later.

“What’s that?” 

“How much do you charge for a night, or is it an hourly rate?” 

Will frowns, sure he must’ve heard the man wrong. He must have. There’s absolutely no way he could know what Will is. He uses an alias for his website, he doesn’t even have pictures posted, and has only ever told one john his real name: Hannibal. There’s absolutely no way this stranger could know anything about that part of Will’s life.

“I beg your pardon?” Will asks, tilting his head.

“I don’t mean to embarrass you,” Frederick says, far more sincere than Will would expect. “If I’ve overstepped, please, feel free to tell me so, it’s just that Hannibal said-”

“Hannibal said… what?”

If Will thought he’d been shocked before, it’s nothing compared to what he feels now. How could Hannibal ever share that with anyone? Why would he? Why would he offer up that sort of information; Hannibal seems like the last person on Earth to break someone’s confidence in such a way, and more so to a man such as Frederick.

“Well, he told me about the arrangement you have, and about your line of work. He recommended I reach out, if I were ever interested.”

There’s a terrible, smothering taste at the back of Will’s throat. Something acidic, bitter. “He did?” Will sounds as winded as he feels. Like a sucker punch to the diaphragm.

“Yes,” Frederick nods. “As I said, I’m sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable. I assumed, in this day and age, your profession wouldn’t be frowned upon but I suppose in these circles… well, I can see why Hannibal was reluctant to bring you here again.” 

That doesn’t sound quite right, Will realizes. Hannibal had asked him again, it was Will that had refused. Then again, Hannibal had probably known that Will would, considering how uncomfortable Will had been the first time. Knows that Will is below all of this, beneath Hannibal and his high society friends. Will’s throat feels unbearably tight.

Frederick produces a card and places it in Will’s palm. “If you’d like to set up something with me, please, give me a call. I’d love to hear from you.”

Will looks down at it, not seeing it really, not even hearing Frederick as he says goodbye. His mind is stuck on things like Hannibal said and he recommended. Further back, when Hannibal hadn’t really pushed to bring Will a second time. Hannibal slipping him extra money all the time. Hannibal buying him new, better clothes. Paying for a haircut. 

And God, doesn’t Will feel absolutely ridiculous? Standing in the middle of the blatantly upper class, in a suit made just for him with someone else’s money, being nothing more than an arrangement . That he dared to think, to hope , that this was anything more than work. That he could be anything more than an easy lay and arm candy. 

That he could ever be anything to someone like Hannibal. 

Slowly, the room comes back to life around him, quiet chattering and bodies moving past, his vision clearing. He stares at Frederick’s card a moment longer, then shoves it into his pocket, just in time to feel a hand on his hip, a smoldering voice in his ear. 

“Are you ready to leave, love?” Will flinches, he can’t help it. From the voice, that fucking pet name. Hannibal notices, of course, and moves into Will’s line of vision, a soft frown on his face. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.” 

Will looks at him. Looks and looks and looks, at those maroon eyes and the sharp curve of his jaw. He let himself fall for a fantasy, and he’s so goddamned angry he can barely breathe for it. What chokes his words, however, is the realization that he’s not even angry at Hannibal. He’s angry at himself, for being so utterly stupid.

“Will, what’s happened?” Hannibal asks quietly, cupping Will’s face. “Has someone bothered you?” Christ, he actually looks concerned and somehow murderous at the idea that someone might’ve. 

Will swallows hard, blinking quickly. “No. No, I’m fine,” he says, reminding himself that he has to get back to his car. He can’t do this here. “Just tired.” 

Hannibal doesn’t look entirely convinced, but he nods his head anyway. “Of course. Let’s go home.” 

Home . The word hurts, the idea hurts. It all fucking hurts. Will lets himself be ushered out and into Hannibal’s Bentley, fisting his hands in his lap to have something to focus on. He won’t let Hannibal see how devastated he is. He won’t give the man the satisfaction, another story to tell at his fancy fucking dinner parties about the paid whore he had to beat off with a stick. He won’t. 

Hannibal must sense that something is off, though, because he’s silent for the entire drive, only reaching over once to gently stroke Will’s thigh, before pulling his hand back when Will doesn’t respond with any sort of words or touch. Will spends the ride building forts in his mind, reinforced with steel. No room left for the things he loves, as it always should be with him. 

He’s mostly calm when he walks back into Hannibal’s house, stopping in the foyer simply to take a breath, to ground himself. 

Behind him, Hannibal reaches up to slide Will’s jacket off his shoulders, but Will steps away gently. “Actually, I’ve got to finish some notes for my lecture on Monday,” Will says, surprised that he’s able to sound somewhat normal. “I’m just gonna head home.” 

Hannibal blinks, swallows, hesitates for longer than Will has ever seen him, and Will’s heart starts pounding. Then, Hannibal’s face clears and he starts reaching into his pocket. “If you give me just a moment, I can transfer the funds into your account to pay for the night,” he says, pulling out his phone.

Will’s eyes burn and he absolutely does not want to fucking cry in front of Hannibal. The money, always the goddamned money. “I don’t want your money, Hannibal.” He pulls Frederick’s card out and looks down at it, angry that his throat feels tight all over again. He sighs and looks up, returning the card back to where it was. “And I don’t need Frederick’s money, either.”

Hannibal glances away, down at Will’s hand still clutching the card in his pocket, looking as though he could set it aflame simply by thinking it. “Will, I apologize if he said something untoward-”

“Untoward?” Will laughs, joyless. “He asked if he and I could have an arrangement. The way you and I have an arrangement.

Hannibal tilts his head, finally meeting Will’s eyes again. “There is an implication there that what you and I have is something outside of an arrangement.”

Will knew. He fucking knew but hearing it still knocks the breath from him all the same. Still makes him grit his teeth in pain and take a step back. Closing his eyes, he takes a deep breath, and keeps building forts.

“You’re right,” Will says quietly. “Forgive the implication.” He steps around Hannibal to grab his keys from the entryway table. 

“Will, I did not mean-” 

Will shakes his head, refusing to look back, shaking off Hannibal's hand when he makes a grab for Will's arm. “Don’t. I’ll have the suit cleaned and returned as soon as I can.” 

“Will, please , allow me to explain.” 

He’s out the door and down the steps, on the street and in his car before he takes another breath. He left his clothes, his bag, his toiletries and his phone charger but it’s fine. He’s pretty sure he wouldn’t have been able to go to Hannibal’s bedroom to gather his things anyway. Having to listen to Hannibal’s insincere apologies and tangled web of bullshit explanations.

He manages all the way home before he cries. He supposes, of all the outcomes he saw for the end of the night, this one still isn’t the worst.

**


Hannibal calls. He calls and he texts, he leaves voicemails, he emails, he reaches out on Will’s website. He even showed up at the door once, and was polite enough not to walk in despite Will clearly being home. He only knocked, waited for three minutes, and then left. Will’s bag of belongings was on the front porch.

All of his attempts to reach Will have essentially entailed the same things. That he wants to explain, that he’s sorry. That he misses Will. That he'll pay more.

Will had sent Hannibal his fee back that he’d given for the symphony. Hannibal had immediately re-transferred it, but doubled the amount. Will cried again, pathetically, and for the first time in his life, truly felt like a prostitute. 

Will returned it all, then turned off his direct debit option.

With little regard for unanswered requests, Will shut down his website. He had turned to this work years ago, when his father had died and left Will drowning in more debt than he knew what to do with. It’s an easy job, and it had given Will hope that he could pull himself out of his father’s hole and maybe live comfortably one day. It’s not as though the BAU pays that well. The saddest part is that he was so close to making it. Another year, maybe, and he could’ve quit with no debt and even a sizable nest egg. 

Hannibal had been his only client for awhile, but he still had people contacting him from time to time. He winces when he realizes that he’d never intended to speak to any of them anyway, because he had Hannibal. 

Will sends the suit back. 

On the table beside his bed, an embellished knife glints in the sunlight, a foreign, meaningless word emblazoned on the handle. 

 

**

 

Eighty-four days later, Buster chases a racoon into the woods, and returns with a gnarled bite on his hind leg. He needs surgery, and antibiotics.

Will calls Frederick Chilton.

 

**

 

Medical conferences are boring. Hellishly boring. Will is stuck in a room with a hundred psychiatrists, and has never felt more uncomfortable in his life. The discomfort increases with every smarmy smile Frederick gives him. 

“I’ve been the envy of every man and woman here, with you on my arm,” Frederick tells him. Distantly, Will remembers feeling distinctly different when someone else had told him something very similar to that.

Will is, as always, the best manipulator in the room so he smiles warmly, leaning in close. “Best hold me closely, then.”

It works. Of course it does. Frederick swallows thickly, biting his lip. “I won’t let you out of my sight.”

Will feels like he has sand in his mouth so he downs his glass of champagne and sets it on a passing tray. They’ve been mingling for close to thirty minutes, after sitting through an hour's worth of uninteresting lectures from men less qualified than even Will is on certain subjects. 

Frederick hadn’t been invited to speak. Will is not at all surprised. 

He seems nice enough but he grips too tightly, and he’s too eager. Like he’s desperate to get out of his own skin. It sets Will’s teeth on edge but he thinks of Buster, of his sweet little protector, and vows to get through it. He’s been fucked by men far worse than Frederick Chilton could ever be.

“You know, Will, I was surprised when you called,” Frederick tells him, touching Will’s cheek. “When I didn’t hear from you before, I assumed I had offended you.”

Will feels odd in his suit, one much cheaper than the last he’d worn, but doesn’t fidget. He merely catches Frederick’s hand, kisses his knuckles, and gives him a grin. “Would you believe me if I told you that I was nervous to contact you? You’re quite charming.” He fakes a demure look, dropping his eyelashes low before glancing back up. “I was intimidated.”

Hook, line and sinker. Will breathes a quiet sigh of relief at the total, blatant look of arousal on Frederick’s face, knowing the topic will be dropped. He won’t have to relive the night he met this man for the second time, and all the events that transpired after. 

Frederick opens his mouth to respond, but then his eyes drift past Will and the look of arousal bleeds into something far more terrifying. “Hannibal, how good to see you.”

“And you, Frederick.”

Will hears the voice behind him, feels the heavy gaze on the back of his neck and suddenly, there’s rocks in Will’s stomach. He swallows and slowly turns around. 

“Hannibal.” 

“Hello, Will.” 

God, he’s beautiful. Still, the bastard is so fucking beautiful. His eyes dance over Will’s face, then down, stopping for a too-long moment at the sight of Frederick’s arm around Will’s waist, before looking back up again. Will hates this so much. Will hates how unaffected Hannibal is, when he can barely keep himself standing. Hates that he still feels so much for someone who clearly doesn’t feel anything at all. 

Frederick may not be outstanding in his field, but he’s certainly not stupid. Will can feel the self-satisfied smugness pouring off of him, his enjoyment at the obvious tension. 

“I wondered why I didn’t see you at the podium. Don’t feel too terrible, my invitation to speak never arrived either.” 

“Mine did,” Hannibal says coolly. “I declined. I’m sure your lack of invite was simply an oversight.”

Will can feel Frederick bristle next to him, his nails digging painfully into Will’s hip. “Yes, well. Next time.”

Will is looking everywhere that isn’t Hannibal’s direction. It’s hurts, seeing him here, collected, calm, keeping his social graces. Will feels like he can barely hold himself together most days, and hates himself for becoming so melodramatic. There’s a lump in his throat and he clenches his fists, hoping that the tremble in his hands isn’t visible.

“How have you been, Will?”

He sounds genuinely curious. Will bites his tongue and forces himself to meet Hannibal’s eyes, and his chest aches at the clear longing he finds there, swimming in deep maroon.

Before Will can answer, Frederick interrupts. “Yes, I must thank you for directing my attention to him, Hannibal, he has certainly lived up to your praises.”

Will can’t stop the grimace that twists his face, from the words and the bile that rises in the back of his throat. He looks down again, wishing he could scald the areas of his body that Frederick has touched, despite the clothing that separates them. Wants to erase the sound of Frederick’s voice from his mind permanently. Most of all, Will just wants to disappear.

“My gravest mistake, Frederick, as I am now here alone.” 

Will grits his teeth, forcing himself not to walk away. He can make it through the night, he can. He’s done after this. He’ll never have to see Frederick, or Hannibal again. He wishes the latter part of that thought didn’t hurt so badly. Wishes it didn’t feel like being gutted. 

Frederick laughs, a sound filled with arrogance. “Your loss is absolutely my gain.” He moves to take Will’s hand, gripping it tightly. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, I’d like to get my money’s worth.”

Will looks at Frederick, confused and more than a bit panicked, but not before briefly catching the curl of Hannibal’s lip, almost a snarl, as Will is all but dragged away. The panic in Will’s chest increases when they bypass the exit, and he’s pulled into the men’s bathroom.

“Frederick.”

“Did you see his face?” Frederick asks, chuckling. “He can’t believe that anyone would dare turn him away.” Frederick pulls Will close, his hands sliding down Will’s back. “That I would deem myself worthy enough of dismissing the almighty and powerful Hannibal Lecter.”

Will forces himself to calm down, giving a shaky smile. “He certainly knows now who the better man is.” 

Frederick smiles, off-kilter, baring his teeth and pressing his hips into Will’s. “I want to fuck you here,” he declares, walking Will backward into a stall. “I want you to go back out there looking freshly ruined, and I want him to know.” 

“Hey,” Will says quietly, putting his hands against Frederick’s chest. Will clears his throat, forcing his limbs to relax. “He already knows. No need to risk indecent exposure just to-”

“I paid for you,” Frederick reminds him bluntly. “If I want you to get on your knees right here, you will, simply because I want it, and that is what my money gets me.”

Will clenches his jaw, standing up straight, grateful for the anger blooming in his chest. Anger feels good, like an old friend. Anger chases away devastation and fear every time.

“You paid for companionship, nothing more. You do not get to choose anything beyond where you want my presence.” He smooths his palms down the front of his suit, rolling his shoulders. “And your time is up. Move. I’ll take a cab home.”

There is a split second where Frederick’s mouth gapes, stunned into silence, before he grabs Will by the arm harshly, a furious look on his face. Shocked, Will isn’t braced for the violent shove that sends him backward into the wall and he nearly trips when his heel gets caught on the toilet. He grunts when his shoulder blades connect with the unforgiving tile, knocking the breath from him momentarily. 

“You absolute whore- ” 

Suddenly, Frederick is ripped out of the stall, his neck yanked back violently by Hannibal’s hand in his hair.

“I do believe he said your time is up, Frederick. You would do well to listen to him.”

Will is still trying to catch his breath from the impact, disoriented, confused by the turn of events. 

“Let go of me,” Frederick demands, voice low. 

“Of course,” Hannibal says easily, and he does, moving to stand between the two of them, reaching up to put his palm against the door of the stall, blocking most of Frederick’s view of Will. “Have a safe drive home, Frederick, I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.” 

Surprisingly, Frederick relents, and he actually looks a bit sheepish. With one last glance in Will’s general direction, he turns and briskly walks out of the bathroom without saying another word. 

Then there is silence, and Will watches as Hannibal stares at the spot Frederick recently vacated, wearing a thunderous expression but what worries Will the most is the way Hannibal’s fist is clenching the stall door so tightly, his knuckles are white. 

“Hey,” Will says. Hannibal doesn’t acknowledge him. “Hannibal, hey,” he tries again, reaching up with trembling fingers to touch Hannibal’s forearm.

Hannibal swallows. “I am desperately searching for the reason why I shouldn’t follow him and snap his neck in a room full of my peers.” 

“Prison,” Will deadpans. “Prison is the reason you’re looking for.”

At that, Hannibal seems to relax, albeit slowly, in increments, until he finally releases a quiet breath and turns to face Will fully, his brow furrowed. “Are you alright?” 

“I’m good,” Will tells him lowly, but the words feel thick in his mouth. “I’ve had way worse. My fault for not spotting his violent streak beforehand.” 

"He generally doesn't have one." 

"Guess his need to one-up you makes him crazy."

"Yes," Hannibal agrees, putting his hands in his pockets. "And that particular pathology of his once goaded me into telling him some very private things about someone I care deeply for, just to shut him up."

Will shakes his head immediately. "No," he says, pushing past Hannibal and out of the stall. "I've no interest in hearing this." 

"Will, please-"

"No, Hannibal, it's been months, it doesn't matter any-"

"You were not an arrangement to me, Will," Hannibal declares, voice echoing but steady, sure. "Not since that first weekend you spent with me. Perhaps, even, before that." 

“You mean the weekend you gave me three-thousand dollars for?”

“The money has never held any significance for me,” Hannibal says seriously. “The only interest I had was monopolizing your time and ensuring you wouldn’t need to see anyone else.” 

Will sighs, looking down at his feet, trying to convince himself he’s not utterly desperate to hear what Hannibal has to say. Wishing he didn’t feel the crushing need to touch the man, to tell him it doesn’t matter and that he just wants to kiss him again.

“I told Frederick about your profession on a whim, simply for shock value,” Hannibal admits, sounding far more disappointed in himself that Will has ever heard. “It was thoughtless, and cruel. I didn’t anticipate you, or how I would feel about you.”  

“Yet you kept paying me,” Will murmurs, focusing on the lines in the tiles rather than on Hannibal’s face. “It’s part of what held your interest for so long, right? The illusion.” 

“You’re wrong. I’ve never wanted an illusion. I only want you.”

Will’s heart doesn’t miss the fact that Hannibal isn’t speaking in past tense. He looks up, catching Hannibal’s intense stare, feeling his pulse thud in response to how strikingly beautiful the man is. The entire situation should be laughable; having an important conversation in a men’s restroom, but Will doesn’t find anything about any of it funny. He feels longing, he feels hurt, even residual anger at Frederick, but nothing resembling humor.

“Will, I-”

Hannibal is interrupted by a man walking in. He pauses briefly, looking back and forth between them before continuing on past Hannibal and into a stall. Will looks to Hannibal once more, tracing the sharp angles of his face, the blatant hope in his eyes, and releases a heavy breath.

“Give me a ride home.”

Hannibal’s relief is palpable. 

Will can lie to himself all he likes, but he knows how this night will end.