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Nodus Tollens

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The first day reeks of ethanol and sweat.

The second, of fever.

Everything has an aftertaste of blood, even when Will doesn’t chew on his injured side, and Hannibal hasn’t woken yet.

Will himself is in the hazy fugue state between dreaming and waking; the drugs doing their work admirably, but in their efficacy plunging Will into nightmares once more. Over and over the slam of the freezing water like a truck against his ribs, over and over feeling Hannibal’s hand lose strength and slip from Will’s own, over and over the dragon’s wings…

Will jerks as a twig snaps nearby, but the sound is followed by silence. Seconds pass, and the nighttime creatures resume their evening calls; cicadas, crickets, owls… Will continues to stare. Perhaps a stag will come forth from the woods to greet him, feathered and monstrously huge, antlers gleaming wet with blood.

He closes his eyes, teeth gently working the inside of his top lip, and when he opens them the clearing before their porch is just as empty as before.

In truth, the quiet unnerves him. Even in Wolf Trap he had his dogs, their soft breathing, the click of their claws against the rough wooden floor. He’d had them with Molly. Now, he’s alone.

The lie feels like nails on a chalkboard and Will shivers, head turning reptilian slow until the bones in his neck click and he sighs out in relief.

No.

Now he is as far from alone as he has ever been.

Will moves carefully, wincing as he limps back towards the cabin and through the door. Within, there is a hum too, but here it is not from living things but from the fridge, the small space heater, the even breathing of Hannibal on the wide bed.

As Will approaches, feet cat-silent on the floor, the man doesn’t shift. He lays as Will had left him; pale and still, bandaged and supported by folded pillows. A line runs to a cannula in his right hand, the bag of saline hanging from a picture hook on the wall behind the bed. The bags under his eyes match Will’s, though somewhat darker with the damage his nose had sustained in the fight. His eyes don’t move in sleep beneath the lids.

Will licks his bottom lip into his mouth and turns away, satisfied that, for the moment, he can do nothing more for Hannibal as he is. He will check and change his dressings come the morning. He will check his blood pressure, his blood sugar, the speed of his pulse. He will press his lips against Hannibal’s brow and breathe him in, and wait.

Will doesn’t bother warming up the coffee in the plunger, just swirls it enough to catch the dregs and drinks straight from the glass lip.

There isn't any point in trying to sleep. Without Hannibal's warmth against him, Will's mind would choke him, pull him deep beneath the waves of his own misgivings, drown him in doubt and panic. And with Hannibal as he is now…

Will wouldn't forgive himself if he lashed out in blind fear, fighting monsters that live behind his eyes, and hurt Hannibal. Not again. Never again.

He had watched, seemingly indifferent, as Hannibal had bled onto the floor of their cabin as the Dragon spoke his lies and set his camera. He had watched, and taken a sip of wine, and felt it turn to ash as it slid down his throat. He had, for so long, thought the end of Hannibal would bring him peace. In that moment, watching him helpless on the floor, Will understood that were Hannibal to die, he himself would cease to exist.

He works the sandy coffee grounds against the roof of his mouth and meditates on the swirls in the wood grain of the windowsill.

He thinks of the sea and the rocks and holding Hannibal close as the wind rushed past them as they --

Dawn.

Will doesn't know how he'd managed to stand upright for so long, to greet it still standing in the kitchen. His muscles scream as he moves and he leans against the doorframe dividing the kitchen from the main room as feeling slowly returns to his toes.

He needs a shower.

He needs a drink.

He needs to feel Hannibal's hands in his hair, his breath warm against his cheek, so badly.

It's the only ache the drugs haven't suppressed in him.

He presses his fingers beneath his glasses, until the pins and needles from his legs spark behind his eyes as stars instead.

Will has never been particularly medical, nor - he would argue - particularly nurturing, but there is such a comfort in taking care of Hannibal that fills Will’s entire being. Perhaps it’s the empathy. Perhaps it’s the love, seeded so deep, now, that Will hardly knows where his pain ends and Hannibal’s begins.

He is careful when he pulls back the covers, revealing Hannibal’s heavily bandaged middle, the watercolor of bruises that peek out from beneath the white. He had wrapped it only hours before, so merely bends to breathe in the sleep-smell of the man before him, so familiar it draws a sound from deep in Will’s throat. He kisses, soft and open-mouthed, where beneath layers of gauze and fabric stitches hold Hannibal together. There is no sepsis, no smell but the mix of Hannibal’s sweat the medical salve.

Will checks higher, cool fingers tickling fevered skin as he ghosts them over damaged ribs, worships with his lips against the sharp collarbones. He nuzzles softly at the hollow of Hannibal’s throat, the tip of his nose following the curve of his Adam’s apple before he pulls away.

They have not had time much, for intimacy. Not like this. Will knows that when he wakes, Hannibal will want to learn him all over again, every new scar, every new mark. He knows that he himself will just as diligently memorize his partner, just as wolfishly claim him with rough nuzzling and smeared kisses.

The thought alone makes Will groan.

The sound is echoed back to him, and Will practically whimpers.

“Yes.”

His lips meet Hannibal’s just as Hannibal parts them to draw a breath. Dry, cool, but so familiar, and Will finds he can barely restrain himself from crawling over Hannibal, damn near into him. Both hands against Hannibal’s face, eyes closed in the pure ecstasy that it is to be so near him again, Will feels weightless. He pulls back, breathless, and turns his nose against Hannibal’s instead, immediately sets his cheek into the hand that rises to touch him.

But instead of comfort, pain sears behind Will’s eyes as clever fingers dig into his face and keep pushing, seeping blood from the stitches, through to the dressing.

It’s so unexpected, so shocking, that Will jerks back, enough to look at Hannibal beneath him, to try to understand.

Eyes, dark and cold and unforgiving. A familiar creature, but not one Will has seen in a long time. Panic floods him, cold as adrenaline, and he tries to catch his breath, one hand shoved hard against his damaged face. Hannibal moves his bloodied fingers into view, rather than turning his head, and his eyes leave Will for just a moment to regard them before returning.

Nothing.

Not an inkling of warmth, not a spark of familiarity. Will swallows.

“Hannibal,”

“Where am I?” his voice is rough from lack of use, throat parched and tongue heavy. When Hannibal’s eyes leave Will’s again, it’s to quickly scan the room, the bed, the line in his arm that he immediately reaches to remove.

Will is faster.

“What are you doing to me?” Hannibal’s tone is low, a threat humming beneath that Will can hear, that Will is entirely attuned to, but no strength in his limbs to back it up. “Who are you?”

“W-Will Graham.” Will tells him, eyes still wide in disbelief, hand still pressed trembling to his bleeding face.

The name elicits nothing in the man beneath him, he doesn’t relax, he doesn’t sigh, no wrinkles form at the corners of his eyes, soft enough to kiss.

Nothing.

“You don’t know me,” Will murmurs, fear and realization culminating in a dizzying peak. He doesn’t hear Hannibal’s answer. It doesn’t matter. Suddenly he’s at the edge of the cliff again, vertigo pulling him off-center, off-balance, but now he falls alone, hands reaching for the shadow on the cliff who turns away, doesn’t fall with him.

+

“The most believable lies are based in truth,” Hannibal says. He’s still in bed, head turned away from Will who sits in a chair at the foot of it.

“Don’t patronize me,” Will’s put fresh gauze over the cut on his face, but it still throbs in pain. His hands are clasped so tightly between his knees he can feel the knuckles moving against each other.

It is only thanks to Hannibal’s injuries that they haven’t physically fought, keeping their blows confined to terse replies and monosyllabic muttering. Will has explained, with the patience of a saint, what happened to them, how they ended up here, what had led them to it. Anything and everything he could remember, anything and everything that mattered.

And that’s all Hannibal has to say to him.

“And don’t… pretend.” Will adds, bringing a hand to his face, pushing his glasses up into his hair. He needs a shower. He wants one. But leaving Hannibal alone now would inevitably see him stumbling from the cabin into the woods beyond, and Will has no desire to hunt down his reluctant lover in the wilderness.

They both need rest.

They both need each other.

“I have no desire, nor have I ever, for a partnership, Mr. Graham,” Hannibal tells him, gaze still on the window, the trees. “You claim to know so much about me, from my own telling. But such things as my family history, my childhood, my past, are easily accessible for someone savvy enough to know where to look. My schooling is not secret, I have not changed my name.”

He swallows, but when he turns his head back to Will he looks past him, not at him. It’s strangely reminiscent of how Will would cut people’s gazes from his own with the frames of his glasses at Quantico. Strangely reminiscent of how he had initially looked at Hannibal.

“You claim to know my work. But are you certain? Associations made relative to your own experiences speak more to your nature, than my own. Perhaps I am, instead, a culmination of a fantasy long held. A manifestation of your own yearnings and desires to be seen.”

“Don’t psychoanalyse me,” Will hisses, shaking his head and cursing before standing up. He gives his chair a deliberate kick as he moves away.

He has not missed the way they used to speak to each other, before.

“I saw you,” Will says after a moment, turning on his heel and coming to stand at the side of the bed. “I see you, now, Hannibal. For everything you are. You let me in. You did that. Gift-wrapping cruelties for me to find, relishing my understanding of them, my fear of them, until I learned to return your gifts, write my own love letters.”

Will swallows because the words are choking him, because of all the aches in his bones and muscles, the one in his heart all but brings him to his knees.

Now, after everything they had, after everything they did… it can’t be gone.

Will swallows again and shoves his hands into his pockets as he turns away.

“You need to eat.”

“I won’t eat what you give me.”

“You'll eat.” Will snaps, marching to the kitchen.

+

For several days, they are terse with each other. Will keeps deliberate watch over Hannibal when he’s awake, takes great care to fasten all windows and doors when inevitably sleep pulls at him.

They eat, because they must.

They drink coffee.

Will no longer has to prove it isn’t poisoned before Hannibal takes it from him.

After a week, Hannibal is on his feet, making his way slowly around the cabin. He considers the books on the shelves, carefully selected months before he and Will had actioned their escape. He touches them like precious things, and Will lets his eyes close and imagines those fingers are stroking his cheek.

Another week, and Hannibal insists on cooking for them, claiming Will’s inability to construct a proper meal will have them in the ground. Will relents, amused, and wonders how long trauma-based amnesia lasts in people so inordinately clever. He wonders if it is a loss of time for Hannibal, as it had been for Will when his mind was on fire.

There are moments when he thinks Hannibal remembers. A tilt of his head, the way his lips quirk, a turn of phrase that makes Will shiver. But then it’s gone, and that cool, calculated indifference is back.

All that’s missing is Hannibal’s impeccable suits.

He still makes it a point to sit across from Will when he’s able, to watch him, as he once did in his office.

Will, as then, finds it impossible to sit still and haunts the alcoves of their living room with hunched shoulders.

He hasn’t been able to shave, with the wound on his face, and his hair has returned to shaggy unmanageable curls that flop across his vision. It feels like regression, like a slow return to familiar madness and Will could scream in frustration.

On the third week, Hannibal brings him coffee.

“I made breakfast,” he says, as Will tilts his head up to look at him.

“It’s morning?”

“We are several hours into it,” Hannibal confirms, setting before Will, next, a plate. “Protein scramble. You’ve no strength to heal without proper nutrition.”

Will’s entire body shudders, eyes closing as the same words echo from a far-off memory. A hotel room. Closed curtains. Civility.

I don’t find you that interesting.

He’s out of his chair before he can stop himself, bile boiling against his sternum, stomach roiling in pain.

He’s sick until he’s empty, until he feels that he has turned himself inside out. He sits, shaking, clinging to the porcelain and rolling his forehead over its cool curve, and feels two words pulse against his throat.

Over and over, like a promise.

You will.

You will.

You will.

+

“I need you to see something,”

Outside, the snow has wrapped the cabin like a scarf, silencing everything but the sounds within the cabin; the cracking fire, the hiss of a boiling kettle, the slow turn of newsprint as Hannibal folds the paper he’s reading and politely sets it aside.

They’ve been a month, here, by Will’s reckoning, the house supplied comfortably for three before they have to seek out beyond for food. They had planned to stay silent, effectively gone from the living world until they had the desire to hunt again.

Will deposits a cardboard box to the floor at Hannibal’s feet. A remnant of his FBI days; it once would have contained files, unmarked assignments, scribbled drafts of his own academic texts. Now, it houses several carefully folded newspapers, printed pages held together with paperclips, and a paperback book.

Hannibal casts the contents a cursory glance.

“Fragments,” Will says, “of a life you lived once. I thought you might find it interesting.”

“Did you?”

Will tucks his chin against his chest and regards Hannibal over the top of his glasses. In a way, when he isn’t aching for the connection they spent so long cultivating and nurturing, Will finds the entire situation almost painfully funny. Of the two of them it was Hannibal’s whose mind betrayed him in the final moment, not Will’s.

“Do you have something better to do?”

And there, just there, a brief tilt of his eyes that makes Will’s knees weak. A smile, just there, just a whisper of a promise of it, but there, clear as day. Eyes hold, a moment, another, before Hannibal bends with a wince to retrieve the paperback first.

Will forces himself not to stand and watch. Tells himself that Hannibal will not magically remember, just from looking at typed words. It will take time. It will take effort.

He takes the bed while Hannibal is in the living room, tossing himself onto the covers and dragging his glasses off his face. In their weeks of seclusion they have come to a sort of unspoken arrangement. Both of them are still injured, to the point that wounds need redressing and bruising needs monitoring. Neither is capable, especially with winter, now, of making his way from the cabin on his own. Escape would be as futile as it would be stupid.

So they have adapted.

They have grown, slowly, back to warm sarcasm and the occasional jibe of their early acquaintance. Will feels as though he is falling in love all over again, but this time without the months and months of his own foolish doubt in the way, as it had been the first time.

He notices every time he and Hannibal are standing too close, every time their fingers brush as they gather dishes or pass each other coffee. He breathes in, shamelessly, the smell of Hannibal from the pillows now, turning his body into the covers and enveloping himself in it.

He wants more. He aches for it. For Hannibal’s hands, rough in his hair before their lips meet. For Hannibal’s strength, so palpable despite Will’s own power. For whispered promises, for the scrape of crooked teeth against his inner thighs.

Will moans, hips rocking deliberately down into the bed, pillows muffling his sounds.

He thinks of the last time they had been together that way, sweat and spit slick between them, Will’s knuckles white as he’d grasped the bookshelf behind him and held on, the mark Hannibal had left against his chest, deliberate and large, as he’d fucked into him. It had felt like a punishment, a brutal promise to carry within for the months they would have to spend with glass between them.

Will’s hand works free his belt, undoes the button, slips into his pants and wraps around his cock, uncaring that he’s rutting like a teenager, uncaring for how shameless he is in his desire for someone who doesn’t remember him.

He comes with the smell of Hannibal’s hair in his nose and Hannibal’s name on his tongue, body trembling with release. He remains there, nuzzling angrily at the pillows, before he wipes his hand against his stomach and does himself up again. He hears but doesn’t respond to the sound of quiet footsteps moving away from the open bedroom door. He just hopes Hannibal’s sense of smell has remained unencumbered by the amnesia.

With deliberate pleasure - or perhaps spite - Will grasps a handful of the blankets with the hand he’d used on himself before he gets up off the bed.

+

The stitches on Will’s face look jagged. It had been an awkward angle for him to work on himself and he frowns, now, as Hannibal regards the wound with a hum, as though he’s reviewing a student’s attempts at suture.

“It will leave a scar,” he says, and Will snorts despite himself.

“I’ll add it to the growing tally,”

He meets Hannibal’s eyes when the other looks up at him and raises a brow, but Hannibal doesn’t take the bait, returning his gaze to the work in front of him instead.

Trust grows between men who keep each other alive.

Hannibal’s hands are cool as they gently press against the heated skin, not swollen, but still sensitive, and Will shifts. Again, Hannibal’s eyes slide to his own and Will holds them in deliberate defiance. He’d spent too long looking away from those eyes. Wasted so much time avoiding them.

He’d known, the morning after he had pleasured himself in bed, that Hannibal had seen him, had smelled him later. He’d known, that despite his silence, what Hannibal had read in that box had pulled at something he couldn’t deny. Their dynamic has changed, tilted a degree or so on its crooked axis, since then.

Will blinks first.

“There is no sign of infection,” Hannibal intones softly, drawing the tip of his finger carefully over the wound, stitch by stitch. “No seeping. Sign of new skin growth, though it will take time before I can remove the sutures and allow your face to heal without help.”

“Time,” Will repeats, turning his face into the hold despite himself, despite his better judgement. “I have nothing but time.”

Hannibal moves his hand, but doesn’t remove it, drawing his thumb, next, over Will’s bottom lip.

The sensation is electric, sending a shiver through Will that closes his eyes and pulls a sound from his throat. Without thought for consequences, Will sets his top lip against the digit, holding it still. He can feel Hannibal’s breath against him, so near, so familiar, and before he can reconsider he grasps Hannibal’s hand to move it aside and sits forward to kiss him.

There is a moment, like the clear hum of struck crystal.

The kiss is returned with a savagery that Will has missed. A hand against his uninjured cheek pulls him nearer, Hannibal’s shoulders pulling back to welcome Will against his chest. It is uncoordinated, messy, as though they haven’t done this countless times before, as though Hannibal didn’t know the taste of every part of Will Graham by heart.

Hannibal moves forward, pressing against Will who immediately lays back on the couch, hands curling in Hannibal’s shirt to yank him nearer.

Pain breaks the kiss, an animal growl of agony that halts their fluid dance as Hannibal’s hand goes to his stomach. Will doesn’t hesitate again, shoving up to reverse their positions, moving to straddle Hannibal when he’s supine. He devours Hannibal’s mouth as desperately as Hannibal does his, pulling back only to turn Hannibal’s face aside and bite, hard, beneath his jaw.

Their lovemaking had almost always started this way; a battle for dominance, a reminder of strength, and Hannibal touches him the way his muscle memory remembers. Will could cry for it. He moans instead, arching into the fingers that scrape his scalp, into the palm that presses heat to his lower back. Will wants nothing more than to strip only what they need, stretch himself poorly and feel the familiar sting of entry. Wants nothing more than to ride Hannibal until he’s breathless, until he has no choice but to remember and see.

Instead, he slows his motions, brings both hands to Hannibal’s face and kisses him so sweetly his chest aches with it.

He wants more the comfort of their joining. The pleasure and safety that comes with trust. He wants to feel Hannibal memorize every inch of him with his lips, as he used to in the early mornings when Will first started to stay the night. He wants to learn Hannibal as well. Again. Anew.

If he cannot have him back, if there is nothing but a void in that beautiful mind of his, then Will would have him this way first, would have this be the memory that surfaces when Hannibal looks at him in the cabin.

He resists Hannibal’s hands, which push to bring them back to that passion, which speak of lust and want but not of love. His kisses do not bite again, though Hannibal’s do. His nuzzling is slow, deliberate, a reminder and a claim that Hannibal cannot deny even as he squirms beneath it. Will rocks their hips together and closes his eyes, turning his head into the hand that cups the back of it, trusting that Hannibal will hold him.

There is tension in the body beneath him, but not resistance. Hannibal’s body wants Will’s body as it always has, as it always will, but beyond that want, that need, there is emptiness that Will fills with soft intimacies and guidance. They rut together - there is little more they can do, injured as they are - and Will lets his voice free. He whimpers his need, whispers Hannibal’s name when he touches Will’s throat, slides beneath the collar of his shirt. He moans when Hannibal arches up, adjusting the angle of their frotting, bringing a spark of electricity into their need that drives them to move faster.

Fumbling with their pants, Will gets both of them bare, takes both of them in hand to stroke together. He swallows Hannibal’s moan like ambrosia, shuddering in pleasure. He ducks his head to watch, slows down just to feel the bite of Hannibal’s nails against his back for him to speed up again. Hannibal’s hand slips down the back of Will’s pants and squeezes, and Will arches his back, throat presented and bare; a wolf and its mate howling at the moon.

Hannibal sits up to suck a mark against him.

He is wanton.

He is beautiful.

“You are remarkable,” Hannibal murmurs, and Will comes so hard he sees white, damn near sobbing against Hannibal’s throat as the other holds him through it, lays back and continues to rut into his hand even as Will comes back to his senses.

Remarkable boy.

“I miss you,” Will whispers, quiet enough that perhaps Hannibal doesn’t hear him, but it doesn’t matter. It is to comfort himself. A silly, self-soothing gesture.

They lay together, both spent, both exhausted from something so simple. When Will moves to get up, he is gently returned to lay against Hannibal’s chest, fingers carding through his curls.

They move only for necessity, when the fire needs stoking, when their limbs grow numb in their position.

After dinner, Hannibal invites him to bed.

+

Slowly, Will lets go of the idea that the memories will come back.

The vital information, information that will save his life were Hannibal to find himself in society again, Will has given him. The rest, they’re slowly building on their own.

Physically, they quickly return to a semblance of what they were before. They share the bed. They fuck. Hannibal makes breakfast and Will brews coffee and they talk. Fingers catch fingers as they move about their shared space. They laugh more, biting senses of humor glad to have a worthy sparring partner again.

One evening, after too much wine, Will tells him he loves him, and immediately swallows his words back when Hannibal kisses him but doesn’t say it back. Will wakes the next morning to Hannibal smelling his hair, to the man turning his nose in the curls and humming, contented, against him.

He never did express his love in words.

Slowly, they heal.

When the weather allows, they walk their property, feet crunching in the snow and breaths pluming before them. Hannibal doesn’t stray farther from Will that he has to, in the house and outside. He returns to that protective, possessive stance that had once irked Will to no end, in Virginia. But he no longer feels stalked, as he once did. Now he feels the comfort of knowing that just leaning back, just letting himself freefall, he would find Hannibal against him.

One morning, Hannibal greets Will in the kitchen with a kiss as intimate and soft as the one Will had woken him with, all those weeks ago. It becomes a routine for every morning after.

+

Will isn’t sure what inspires him. Perhaps a desire to show Hannibal affection he is familiar with, to court him as Will was courted by him.

He starts to go to town.

Short trips, initially, to gather supplies. To get the latest news. To scout, essentially, for proof of their anonymity. Will goes alone, certain that of the two of them Hannibal will be more recognizable, and though he frowns, Hannibal doesn’t argue the point.

Day trips turn to evening trips. Will now intimately knows the layout of the small town they live near, its back streets and longer roads. He learns the opening hours of the businesses and the names of their proprietors. He does this without them learning his name, without catching the eye of anyone in particular. He goes as a phantom, hiding in plain sight.

It’s at night when his instincts lead him to one of the scruffy motels on the outskirts of town. A dark creature within him uncoiling, drawing him forward, boots silent on the road.

Like begets like, after all.

Will sees him first breaking and entering. A man young enough to change but old enough to know he won’t. He watches, considers, stalks the shadows as a simple theft ends uneventfully. He can feel the boredom radiating from the man, palpable. The thrill has worn off for him, breaking into empty rooms and houses. He seeks to feel that rush again, that was once brought on by the click of the catch of the door.

Will mirrors his movements, circles the cabins he’s targeted and walks parallel to the would-be intruder. Only one is occupied, and Will slinks beneath its lit windows to remain unseen, making his way towards the most likely point of entry.

The predictability should irritate him, but Will finds that even that he can forgive. He watches the man work the catch on the window, watches him fumble to return his pocketknife to his pants and miss, dropping it to the snow. He waits, sets his feet, pivots his weight to his toes.

It takes three steps, and the man doesn’t even make a sound.

Will finds his own thrill in committing his abduction in plain sight. He doesn’t drag the body back towards the forest, mere steps away. He doesn’t move him behind an empty cabin. He holds him pinned against his side, elbow beneath his chin as slowly the blood flow to his brain is cut off. The last thing he sees, by Will’s design, is the shadow of his would-be victim moving between the lit windows, blissfully unaware.

Will returns home early, just as dawn threatens over the horizon, and knows, as keenly as one animal is aware of another, that Hannibal is awake. He kills the engine, lets the headlights linger just a moment before turning those off as well.

He doesn’t move until his eyes have accustomed to the darkness again. He hefts the heavy sack from the back of his truck onto his shoulders and makes his way home.

“Nightmares?” Hannibal’s voice is soothing, low. Will moves to him, his burden set to the floor, and closes his eyes as he’s kissed. He turns into Hannibal, draws his nose against his cheek, nuzzles to him as a wolf to its mate.

“No,” he admits. “Much kinder things.”

Hannibal’s hum warms Will’s entire being, the kiss he sets beneath Will’s jaw almost enough to distract him from his plans.

Almost.

“I brought supplies,” Will continues, a hand against Hannibal’s chest to keep just some distance between them. He curls his fingers in the thin wool of his sweater. “You’ve long been threatening to teach me how to cook.”

“Rather late for a supply run,” Hannibal smiles, allowing the petting, setting his own hand against Will’s hip to keep him near. Will blinks, lazy and slow, and tilts his chin in invitation for Hannibal to kiss him there again.

“You do not abide low quality product,” Will reminds him. “Nor discourtesy. Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly,”

Hannibal goes still, a shift so subtle that Will would have missed it were he not so attuned to his lover. He licks his lips, leans nearer to draw their noses together. Hannibal makes a sound, soft, barely there, and tightens his hold on Will.

For several moments neither say a word, just sharing space, each other. Will’s eyes slip closed and he feels himself start to sway against Hannibal, exhaustion and elation as potent as any drug.

“Whenever feasible,” Hannibal says, voice warm as though repeating a well-loved phrase, “one should eat the rude.”

Will’s smile shows his teeth, a lazy and wide thing that he presses against Hannibal’s skin as his arms come up to drape over his shoulders, as Will steps close to be held as only Hannibal had ever held him.

As he holds him now.

“My Will.”

Will is certain he would collapse if Hannibal were not holding him. He is certain he would weep were he not so unspeakably happy.

“I missed you,” Will tells him, catching the kiss bestowed upon him with an open mouth, with a whimper. They kiss until breathing necessitates they break apart, they cling together as they did on the cliff, prepared to face hell if it means they face it side by side.

Behind them comes a sound, a shift, as the man Will brought home starts to wake. Will turns only far enough to see over his shoulder, accepting the kiss pressed hot to the sharp point of his jaw. Hannibal watches with him, his chin set atop Will’s head, his arms holding him close, as their breakfast tries to find the opening of the bag he’s confined in.

“Free range rude,” Will comments softly, sighing as Hannibal nuzzles his hair and lets him go.

“Rest,” he tells him. “There’s time yet before breakfast,”

But Will shakes his head, following Hannibal when he steps around him, standing just to the side of where the most ferocious of their victim’s kicks reach.

“No,” he says. “It’s time I learned to cook properly.”