Days blurred into one week and edged into week two without Will’s consent and hardly with his notice. Their killer was escalating, approaching a frenzy with the pacing of bodies left only days apart, the latest laid out in the middle of a burbling brook less than 24 hours following the discovery of the last. They honey was still warm and sticky; the perp was getting sloppy and Will was finding her tactlessness and disrespect annoying.
He had a headache and he missed his dogs. Fucking FBI consulting bullshit.
“If they’re not listening to me,” Will spat into the phone, pinching the bridge of his nose as he spoke to Jack as though he lacked all comprehension, “then you need to tell me why I’m still here, because it’s getting...trying.”
“Someone is listening,” was Jack’s response. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be getting voicemails regarding your lack of assistance on this case.”
Will laughed and it was acrid. “Well, when I defect and leave against your orders don’t you dare rouse me from my bed or my dogs when they call to tell you that they’ve found their serial and she’s a woman. I don’t need their confirmation. I’m here as an expert, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Will, cut the bullshit. I’m on your side, I trust your skill and your assessment and that’s exactly why I want you to stay. These morons need you.” Jack was distracted. It was the only explanation as to why he wasn’t listening.
“Whatever you say, Jack. If I get one more urge to strangle any of them I’m leaving. I think that would lead to more than a few annoyed voicemails.” Will hung up despite hearing Jack’s voice, tinny and far away, coming from his phone speaker. He walked back into the conference room at the station from where he had been hiding out in the empty hallway.
He wanted the day to be over. He wanted to be back in the hotel (if he couldn’t be back in Wolf Trap) (or Baltimore, for that matter) with Hannibal in his ear.
W. Graham (3:12 pm)
If I were to kill Jack could you sign off on my insanity defense?
H. Lecter (3:17 pm)
Is he still refusing to approve your return back?
W. Graham (3:19 pm)
That’s not a no, then?
H. Lecter (3:23 pm)
I suppose it’s not. Though it’s not typically my style to encourage others to murder their bosses. Too complicated.
Will stifled a laugh, not wanting to draw the attention of the officers shuffling around him in the office. Laughing while surrounded by grotesque crime scene photos would likely lessen their approval of him even further and while Will didn’t much care, he also didn’t want to deal with an increase in awkward tension, odd looks, or the volume of their scoffing during his profile updates.
W. Graham (3:25 pm)
Well thank you for trying to save me from myself then, I suppose. I don’t much care for complicated.
H. Lecter (3:27 pm)
I would love to challenge you on that assertion, but my client has arrived and so I must save it for a rainy day.
W. Graham (3:28 pm)
When do your back-to-backs end today?
H. Lecter (3:30 pm)
8:00. Please do give me a call any time after then. I’ll be looking forward to it, my darling.
Will felt his face flush with heat as he slipped his phone back into his front pocket. The proverbial floodgates had burst open following their early morning, post-sleep paralysis fever dream of a conversation and Will couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so dangerously and deliciously alive. Little had changed by way of their daily texts and nightly phone conversations, other than the fact they themselves had blossomed into a stable and firm existence.
They discussed work and Will’s fragile mental health. Will vented about ghosts in the corners of the room and his periphery. Hannibal vented politely about his days, his clients, and his perceived philosophical wrongs in the world. They talked about food, sickly sweet decaying bodies and Tattle Crime. They expressed their deep-rooted worries about Abigail in the wee hours of the morning, whispering into each other’s ears.
Will made jokes comparing them to high school sweethearts with free phone minutes after 9:00 pm. Hannibal laughed politely but asked if it counted as joking if it felt honest.
Will called Hannibal sweetheart. It had stopped feeling playful after the second conversation, which had ended in frenzied breathing, pained moans stretching between them and breathy laughing as they came down together from their mutually self-achieved orgasms.
The sound of Hannibal Lecter’s hitching breath as he came with Will’s name on his lips amongst exotic, foreign words was an instant addiction for Will, who played the sound in his mind on a constant loop regardless of which role he was playing in the real world of Iowa.
One thing that Will and Hannibal hadn’t discussed was what would happen when Will finally did return home from his consulting stint. Would the phone calls stop? Would they be replaced with dinners in Hannibal’s lavish dining room? Would Will be allowed to touch and importantly, most importantly, would Will want to touch Hannibal, be touched by Hannibal?
And what did it mean if he did, with the knowledge that he had?
“We’re going to get her soon,” Will stated by way of greeting when Hannibal answered his phone call late that same evening. “She slipped up. Skin cells on the backsides of the last victim’s teeth. He must have bitten her.”
“Good for him,” Hannibal said, the telltale sounds of him arriving home unraveling in the background. “It’s admirable for him to have fought back. I’m assuming the initial biological profile indicates a woman?”
“Of course it did,” Will said, sitting on the edge of the bed and removing his shoes. “And not one of those bastards had the balls to even look at me after the tech gave the results. I took their active avoidance to meet my eye as a victory.”
“Hmm. Imagine you, seeking out eye contact,” Hannibal teased. Will grinned.
“Vindictiveness trumps social awkwardness. I guess I learned that about myself just now.”
The pop of a cork, the pouring of wine. “I shall toast to your insight,” Hannibal said and Will listened to him take a sip, wanting so fucking severely to be in Hannibal’s space to chase the taste of the spirit within Hannibal’s mouth.
“They’re running the DNA profile through CODIS right now. It’ll likely take at least a few hours. I’m hoping for a hit but even if we don’t get that lucky, at least now they can narrow their suspect pool and follow the damn profile I’ve been cramming down their throats for over a week now. Regardless, I should be back soon.”
The words hung between them, and Will bit his bottom lip to avoid filling the silence. There were questions that he wanted to ask, declarations he wanted to make, requests filling up the empty space in his throat. It was Hannibal who broke first, and when Will released his lower lip he tasted a tinge of blood.
“You must be looking forward to returning to Wolf Trap.” Hannibal’s words were carefully chosen.
Will’s were less so. Never before had he been such a base creature, pouncing with instinct rather than forethought.
“I’m looking forward to returning to you.”
The air crackled with it, the jolt that the sentiment created and Will was astounded that he was becoming able to read the emotion in Hannibal’s breathing patterns from hundreds of miles away.
“I’m pleased to hear that, my dear,” Hannibal responded, firm and soft.
“Only pleased? How underwhelming.”
“The death of me, Will. I’ve said it before. Would you rather I drop all pretense? I fear I may frighten you.”
Will almost did it then, in that moment, but he waited. He needed to wait, needed to know that Hannibal was living at the bottom of the ocean with him before he created the riptide that he wanted so badly to create.
“Nothing about you could frighten me away at this point. My social competency thrives on dropped pretenses.” Will waited then, waited out Hannibal’s contemplative silence.
“You staking claims about returning not to home, but to me,” Hannibal began, and Will’s pulse raced, “creates not only joy and pleasure, but also an uncontrollable blanket of possessiveness. If you are to return to me in the manner that I wish, it would be as mine. My flesh, my blood, my beautiful mind in your beautiful skull. That is what would please me most of all.”
When Will inhaled and opened his eyes it was to a new world, one in which he could have everything he wanted. The waters were open and he was prepared to plunge. Needed to, at this point.
“Do you wish to consume me, Hannibal?” Will asked, a toe in the water, an entendre if he had ever purposely spouted one.
“In a wholly singular way,” was Hannibal’s immediate answer. “I at times crave for you to take my body into yours, however. To consume each other.”
Heat, blazing as though the plasma of the sun flowed through Will’s body. The sexual provocativeness of Hannibal’s statement threatened to overthrow Will’s intended course of action, but he stifled the urge.
“Sweetheart,” Will breathed, laying down on the mattress. “Hannibal. My sweetheart.” Hannibal hummed pleasantly. “My desired. My love.” A keening sound from Hannibal’s throat. Will squeezed his eyes closed, licked his lips, and plunged into the ice cold waters with both feet.
The world went still and Will knew that Hannibal had stopped breathing. The silence was suffocating. Will empathized with every fish he had pulled from the waters over his lifetime; the feeling of suffocating in open air burned.
Will wasn’t surprised when the phone line went dead. He wasn’t even disappointed, not really. After all, he knew that when he had first realized that Hannibal was the Chesapeake Ripper, it had been a lot for him to process.
Hannibal could be afforded some time, Will thought.
Will suspected an early morning phone call to rouse him from sleep, had been hoping for one as a result of a positive CODIS hit. It took his brain a few moments to boot back on, moments filled with confusion as he tried to answer his phone...which wasn’t ringing.
No, his phone hadn’t woken him. It was the incessant knocking at his door.
Someone was knocking on his door at 3:22 in the morning. Okay. He was on board then, throwing on a t-shirt over his boxers before cracking the door open as far as the lock chain would allow.
The moment Will peeked through the crack, the door flung the rest of the way open. Will felt a moment of vindication that his life-long suspicion of the flimsiness of chain locks on doors had just been proven valid, the chain snapping from the force of the door being thrown open from the outside. The moment had pulled Will out of reality for a split second, just long enough for him to not understand that Hannibal was standing in his hotel room until the door was already closed behind his visitor, closing them both within the four walls and outdated window.
Hannibal looked as frenzied as Will had ever seen him, and it was a sight to behold. His hair was tousled as though he had run from Baltimore, the stale smell of an airplane cabin on his clothes confirming that he hadn’t. He was in Will’s space in a matter of seconds, looming over him even though he was barely the taller of the two.
His eyes were wild and beautiful, his bottom lip shining in Will’s vision. How had he forgotten how absolutely stunning this man was?
“Are you going to kill me?” Will asked calmly, raising his eyes to meet Hannibal’s. Eye contact with Hannibal was...different, now.
“I would prefer to not have to do that,” Hannibal said lowly, his accent thicker than usual and oh, he’s panicked. “Are you going to crack me open and tie me into a bow, gift-wrapped for Uncle Jack?”
Will smiled and it felt soft on his face. He reached up, smoothing Hannibal’s hair. Hannibal didn’t respond, didn’t move a millimeter.
“You were the man on the phone,” Will whispered. “The one who called Hobbs.”
Hannibal did move then, leaning back ever so slightly. “You’ve suspected for so long?”
“There was nothing to suspect. You were singing to me with them, your tableaus. I heard you, I’ve been hearing you. You’ve been...guiding me.”
Hannibal’s eyes glittered, a hunger building. “And you’ve been following?”
“I’m here, aren’t I? And you’re here, with me.” Will didn’t blink. He held his ground, his challenge, his loyalty.
“Tell me again, sweet love of mine. Tell me again who I am,” Hannibal demanded, his pleading sweet. Will’s hand trailed down from Hannibal’s hair, and he brushed Hannibal’s bottom lip with the pad of his thumb.
“You’re my Ripper,” Will repeated, and when Hannibal surged forward to claim Will’s mouth with his own, Will did indeed feel consumed.