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A Common Point of Interest

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Will shifts uncomfortably in Hannibal’s chair. He feels overheated and restless and there’s a headache building at the back of his neck, bright bursts of pain that flash behind his eyes at uneven intervals. It’s hard to separate his heat symptoms from whatever else it is that plagues him lately, but he’s lived with the knowledge that he’s an omega with everything it entails since he was very young and is regretfully well-acquainted with pre-heat tells.

It might have been stupid to show up at his appointment, all things considered. Then again, that line of thinking could be a regressive remnant of childhood he’s been unable to shed. When Will was a boy, keeping omegas behind locked doors well before their heat even started had been an unspoken agreement. These days, the stigma has lessened to the degree that you’re expected to show up at work until your heat renders you incapable. Those who use suppressants don’t have to worry about it at all.

Will wonders idly if Hannibal, being slightly older, has more conservative views, but he doubts it. Despite everything, Hannibal doesn’t strike him as particularly conservative in any regard. Will isn’t even sure if Hannibal knows he’s an omega – he always wears scent-blockers, including now. Will doesn’t know for certain what Hannibal is either, though he expects him to be an alpha. It’s more based on prejudice than anything else.

“I’m sorry I kept you waiting,” Hannibal says, emerging from the waiting room where he’d spoken to a patient from an earlier appointment. He closes the door behind him and sits down in the chair opposite to Will, wearing a cordial smile that falls somewhat at the sight of him. “Is everything alright?”

“As alright as it ever is,” Will says, smiling cheerlessly. He has a hard time sitting still, feeling more fidgety than usual. It’s hard to keep from picking at his nails or the loose threads in his clothes. The ache at the back of his neck keeps building. “You don’t happen to have any aspirin?”

Hannibal gets up from his seat and Will hears the sound of the drawers in his desk being opened and closed before he returns with a small, unopened bottle of water and two pills. Will swallows them both in one go, enjoying the coolness of the water as he takes a few steady swigs to wash them down.

“I take it your headaches are still bothering you,” Hannibal says.

“Yes,” Will says. He considers for a moment and then sighs. “Among other things. Being an omega comes with certain unavoidable challenges.”

“We’ve never discussed your status before.”

“You never asked.”

“It’s generally considered rude to ask. As much as some people would have you believe differently.”

“Chivalry lives and dies with you.” Will raises his brows and earns a sliver of a smile from Hannibal. “You’re an alpha,” he continues, not bothering to phrase it as a question.

“I am,” Hannibal confirms. “Which prompts further caution. Alphas were considered model psychiatrists back when the field was first conceived, but the role has since changed to become less authoritative. Unintentionally offending or intimidating omegan patients is always a concern.”

“Do your patients usually bring up their status with you?”

Hannibal gives a slight, one-shouldered shrug. “It’s an inescapable part of who we are. And there are practical challenges, as you said yourself.”

“Heats,” Will fills in, though he feels a little awkward talking about something so private.

“Yes,” Hannibal says. “Is that on your mind today?”

Will shrugs. “I’m allergic to suppressants, so I’ve always had to go through them. You’d think you’d get used to it. I don’t.”

“Do you spend them by yourself?”

“Always.”

“Heats can be painful without an alpha, I’ve been told.”

“It’s manageable. Being assisted by an alpha—it just made me uncomfortable.” Will thinks back to when he last had a partner with him during his heat, years and years ago. The way he’d absorbed the other man’s views, reflected his desires and turned them on himself. Will is even more susceptible to outside influence during his heats. At least there is nothing for him to mirror when he’s alone. “I feel what they feel too intensely. Alphas don’t generally have favorable views regarding omegas at the best of times.”

“I’m sorry this has been your experience. I’m aware they’re controversial, but have you ever considered agencies?”

Will shakes his head, maybe a bit too briskly. “Ethical considerations notwithstanding, I can’t imagine spending my heat with a stranger.”

“It’s a vulnerable position.”

“You could say that.”

There’s a brief pause where Hannibal considers him quietly. He crosses one leg over the other and straightens in his seat, clasping his hands in his lap.

“If you need to, you can call me,” he finally says. “I will do what I can as your psychiatrist to alleviate any anxieties you might have.”

Will looks up, a little surprised but mostly suspicious. “Do you do that for all your omegan patients?”

“The ones who want or need it. It can be a distressing time when alone, as we’ve established. Emotionally, if not physically. Phone counselling has its limitations, but it can still offer a bit of comfort.”

“Sounds unprofessional.”

“I prefer unorthodox. The well-being of my patients come first. I’ve done far more controversial things to ensure that.”

Will wants to ask exactly what he’s done that’s more controversial than that, but he doesn’t. They move on to talking about the case, and soon enough, his hour is up. He’s still thinking about it in the car on his way home though, wondering, reluctantly, what it would be like to hear Hannibal’s voice in his ear when aching, helpless arousal coils snake-like around his insides.

*

Two days after his appointment, Will wakes up before dawn in damp sheets, sweat clinging to his body like a thin, sticky film. He’s still on the brink of unconsciousness when he feels the first stir of a familiar, dull ache in his stomach, branching out to his back and finally settling in the cradle of his hips. He checks the time and tries, briefly, to go back to sleep, wishing his heat could be postponed. It can’t. The sense of discomfort is growing more and more unbearable by the second.

In some ways, touching himself is the last thing he wants to do, because he’s in pain and it’s hard to imagine it can be transmuted into anything resembling pleasure. But as always there’s the faint pull of reflex at the back of his mind where instinct lives, countless memories of previous heats that remind him of how things usually go.

Sleepy and resigned, Will gets out of bed and lets his dogs out, enjoying the cool caress of the wind on his heated skin as he anchors himself in the waking world. Then he calls in sick to work, lets Jack know he’s indisposed and gets back into bed, naked, blankets pulled back. He reaches back to feel his hole, finding slickness already gathering there. He bites his lip as he feels the easy give when he slips the tip of his finger inside. It’s not nearly enough and he knows it won’t be. He reaches into the drawer in his bedside table to get one of his toys, closing his eyes as he starts pressing it inside, slow and steady.

Even now, he doesn’t truly want someone to help him through it. Still, it’s a lonely ordeal. As always, he feels it’s unfair. He tries to conjure an image of an anonymous alpha, someone who would know his mind and body enough to give him what he needs, someone whose desires Will wouldn’t get caught up in, but he has no real frame of reference for such a fantasy. Sex has mostly been an alienating experience for him, especially during his heat.

He thinks about Hannibal telling him to call and wonders if he should, but it seems salacious and somehow predatory, calling his psychiatrist and maybe-friend in the state he’s in. While he’s touching himself, or at the very least while wanting to. And Hannibal would be as unruffled as always, perfectly composed, probably not a hair out of place even though no one would be there to see it.

Will had wondered during their last session why Hannibal would offer such an unusual service, and it occurs to him now that perhaps that sense of being in control is what he gets out of it. His patients would offer an image of debauchery for Hannibal to view himself in contrast to. It’s a rather uncharitable thought, but Will knows there’s something about Hannibal that falls beyond the carefully crafted exterior he presents to the world, and he thinks this may be part of that.

Will puts his toy to the side and gets his phone, typing out a quick message. Then he realizes it could be rather damning if anyone ever looked into it. He doesn’t want either of them to get in trouble. Reluctantly, he hits call. Hannibal picks up after two signals.

“Will,” he says, sounding mildly surprised – perhaps because it’s still early, or because they’ve never spoken on the phone before. “How are you today?”

“It’s started.”

“Not too well then, I take it.”

“I’m okay.” Will clears his throat, hearing how hoarse it is from sleep and disuse. “You enjoy the idea of being in absolute control. Wielding your composure over the heads of patients calling you during their heat. That’s why you do it.”

“You call to accuse me?” Hannibal’s tone doesn’t change, but there’s the slightest hint of darkness there that Will finds himself intrigued by. It’s his job to chase after danger after all.

“No,” he says, “but I want something to wield over your head too if I’m to call.”

“I see.” Hannibal lets out an amused huff. The trepidation bleeds from his voice. “You can’t be very far along then, if you’re still capable of such advanced scheming.”

“Far enough. Heats don’t alter your thinking that dramatically.”

“I know a few omegas who would argue they do.”

“Excuses.”

“You wouldn’t like an excuse, Will? You keep yourself on such a short leash.”

“So do you. Or do ruts alter your sense of self? Turn you into something you’re not?

“No,” Hannibal says without a trace of uncertainty, which is what Will had counted on.

“Then we’re on the same page.” Will sucks his lower lip into his mouth, feeling a reluctant sense of intrigue. Speaking to Hannibal is vastly different from speaking to anyone else – it’s finding his way through a maze while it’s being constructed. Hearing Hannibal’s voice now, low and strangely fond and rough with sleep, sets off a flare of undeniable arousal in his belly. Will gets a hand on his dick, snapping his jaws shut on a small gasp.

“I have to go,” he says. “Before this goes from unorthodox to unprofessional. Was that how it went?”

Hannibal sounds amused again. “You disagree with my distinction.”

“Obviously. We’ve established a common point of interest though: control. You enjoy being in control, I enjoy knowing this about you since awareness automatically grants me a measure of control over our interactions.”

“How will you use this to your advantage, I wonder.”

“I guess we’ll see.” Will starts stroking himself, stifling a moan. “I’m hanging up now.”

“Shall I expect another call?”

“Depends how badly my heat messes up my thinking, I suppose. Goodbye, Doctor.”

Will can picture Hannibal’s amused smile as he hangs up.

*

Will realizes quickly that his first phone call to Hannibal is not going to be his last. Even when he isn’t touching himself, he finds himself thinking about Hannibal throughout the day. Things he’s said or could have said, would have said. Images he’s not sure whether he’s imagined or seen before. Hannibal’s veined hand gripping around the handle of a knife. His fingers tapping an idle pattern on the armrest of his office chair. His Adam’s apple bobbing gently as he swallows, drawing Will’s gaze to the long column of his throat.

Mostly Will’s attraction to him comes down to the way they’re able to speak to each other. Their conversations have always been an odd mixture of a thrill and a comfort, maze-like without the fear of getting lost.

Will calls later in the afternoon the same day, when the sun is setting and he’s pretty sure Hannibal has no more appointments. Despite the alleged purpose of his phone calls, they both tread carefully around the subject of Will’s heat, not bringing it into their conversations more than necessary. But then there’s a brief, dragging silence where Will sees his chance to ask something he's been thinking about on and off all day.

“Have you ever had sex with a patient?” he asks. “Engaged in sexual behavior at all during calls like these?”

He knows it’s rude, but he doesn’t care enough to stop himself from asking. He realizes as soon as the words are out of his mouth that he truly wants to know.

“Never,” Hannibal replies with comforting immediacy.

“Ever wanted to?”

“That would be unprofessional, Will.”

Will turns in bed so he’s on his side with his phone squished between his ear and his pillow, imagining what Hannibal’s face might look like in this moment. Stern and unmoving, perhaps with a trace of cautious humor in his eyes.

“This is unprofessional too,” Will counters, flatly. “Enough that I could report you.”

“Yet you keep calling.”

“I think about doing other things too.”

“Such as?”

“I thought about sending you pictures.”

There’s a brief silence on the other end of the line. Will wonders if he managed to surprise Hannibal. There’s a split second where he worries he went too far too quickly. Maybe he misjudged the situation, saw mutual attraction where there was none. But then Hannibal speaks up.

“Why pictures?”

“The element of control. You can see but not touch.”

“What stopped you?”

“Common decency. And your unnecessary distinction.” Will clears his throat. “I’m not actually sure you’re attracted to me.”

“Send the pictures.”

Hannibal’s answer comes so quickly Will at first thinks he might have misheard. Then the words land and Will lets out a small breath. “Now?”

“I’ll wait.”

“Alright.” Will keeps Hannibal on the line while tapping the little camera icon on his phone, making sure he’s got the front facing camera setting. He already knows what his picture is going to be. Himself in partial sunlight, cropped so all that can be seen is his pale chest and stomach, his reddened, half-open mouth. He makes sure the lower half of his body isn’t showing, but he reaches down with one hand, offering a clear idea of what he’s doing to himself. He takes the picture, looks it over and sends it quickly before he can change his mind. Then he puts Hannibal on speaker and puts the phone down next to him in bed.

“Do I get something in return?” Will asks.

“How about the knowledge that I feel as though the situation is further and further out of my control?”

“Good start. It was never entirely within your control though.” Will smiles. He’s helpless to stop it. “Would you like to touch me? Don’t lie.”

This is new territory. Will wonders how Hannibal will navigate it. There’s a moment of jittery anticipation, then he hears something that sounds like a sigh.

“I would touch every inch that was put on display in that photo. Even more, if you allowed it.”

A small, involuntary shiver runs down Will’s spine. “Tell me.”

“I would take your hand before you could reach down to touch yourself. Both your wrists would be pinned down, fitting so perfectly in my hands, and you would thrash beneath me, distraught, ferocious, although neither of us would have it any other way.”

Will feels his face warm and he rubs his thighs together, feeling himself grow slicker with every word, the imagery he can conjure all too easily behind closed eyelids.

“I’d like to stroke you from the inside,” Hannibal continues. “To feel how warm and smooth you are, how wet and yielding. You trust me to give you everything you need. You struggle as a prelude, a formality. Not out of genuine desire for me to stop.”

Will shifts, feeling his arousal being stoked despite the implications. “You enjoy the idea of seeing me powerless,” he says, a note of accusation in his voice.

“Not powerless,” Hannibal says. “Exposed. Knowing I desire you this way restores a measure of power in you.”

“Are you touching yourself right now?”

“No. Are you, Will?”

“Not at the moment.”

“You looked like you were enjoying yourself. Was that all for me?”

Will ponders that for a moment. “Yes,” he finally admits. “I thought of what you’d like to see.”

“I’m fairly certain I would have been affected this way no matter what you showed me.”

“How did it affect you?” Will sucks on his teeth, considering. “You should show me. Make it even.”

The line goes quiet, and Will once again worries he took it one step too far. But then Hannibal speaks up. “You will give me a moment,” he says. Will nods before he remembers Hannibal can’t see it.

“I’ll wait.”

Five minutes or so go by, longer than Will had taken. But then his phone buzzes and Will opens a text from Hannibal. Below Will’s picture is a photo of Hannibal’s hand gripping around the base of his hard cock. He’s naked, sitting down on his perfectly made bed, and the natural lighting makes him look pale and statue-like, veins crisscrossing over his hand and his cock, standing out in stark relief.

Will stares at the picture, feeling a surge of arousal that makes warmth and wetness gather between his legs. He’s blushing all the way out to the tips of his ears, his palm almost cool to the touch when he rubs his hand over his neck and clears his throat.

“You’ve never done that before, have you?” Will asks.

“No. Have you?”

“It was a first time for me too.” Will reaches down almost without thinking and rubs his fingers against his hole, wet and soft and open. He can’t wait any longer. He’s itching to touch himself, but he can’t do it properly while holding his phone.

Putting the phone down, Will rolls onto his stomach and shoves a pillow under his hips, raising himself up on his elbows. This way, he can look at Hannibal’s picture while using his fingers and grinding into the plush softness of the pillow. He gives an experimental thrust, closing his eyes against the pleasant friction.

“I’m touching myself now,” he tells Hannibal, swallowing down a moan as he pushes two fingers inside soft-slick heat. “Please tell me you are too.”

“I was going to wait.” The small intake of breath on the other line tells Will he isn’t. “It seemed more polite.”

“Ever the gentleman.”

“Chivalry lives and dies with me, I’ve been told.”

Will means to laugh, but what comes out is a shaky release of breath. His cock is leaking so much it dampens the cotton he’s grinding against and his hole is sopping wet, clenching and unclenching around his fingers with every pulse of pleasure through his core. He’s not going to last, not while looking at that picture and hearing Hannibal’s voice, his uneven breaths and the almost inaudible slap of skin. The idea of Hannibal touching himself while looking at a picture of Will is dizzying, almost surreal. Nothing he would have considered likely mere days ago.

“Won’t you come for me, Will?” Hannibal says, voice low and gravelly. “I kept you waiting so long.”

“Hannibal,” Will moans, “God, don’t stop talking.”

“I want to hear you. To make up for being robbed of the full sight of you. Don’t hold back.”

“Oh, fuck, oh.”

Will’s orgasm is so sudden it almost takes him by surprise. His hips twitch uncontrollably as he comes into the pillow, fingers shoved deep inside, rubbing against his prostate as firmly as his trembling hands can manage. He can feel his climax all the way out to the tips of his toes, yet it isn’t enough, doesn’t truly settle the anxious arousal flitting through him like something winged and trapped. The worst thing about being in heat is the sense of emptiness, unfulfillment.

He hears Hannibal make a small, grunt-like noise, and even though he just came it makes his stomach twist in on itself ever so slightly, his cock pressing into the cooling wetness of the pillow. As Hannibal’s breathing slows, Will rolls onto his back and tries to get comfortable, despite the lingering ache inside and the come drying on his belly.

“I think we’re officially in unprofessional territory,” he mumbles.

“I have to agree,” Hannibal says, but he doesn’t sound particularly displeased about it. There’s a faint rustle in the background and Will imagines Hannibal getting back up from his bed, or perhaps getting dressed again. “What were you thinking about? You sounded so lovely.”

An uncomfortable heat climbs up Will’s neck. “I thought about you,” he says, “touching yourself. While thinking about me.”

“Why does that particular idea appeal to you?”

Not wanting to examine the reasons why too closely, Will shrugs and tells him a partial truth. “Before I first decided to call, I pictured you remaining perfectly composed, no matter what. Being able to destabilize the front you put up to the world is satisfying.”

“You enjoy the idea of seeing me powerless,” Hannibal quotes back. Will can’t help but grin.

“Not powerless. Exposed.”

“How can you be certain you will like what you find, peeling back my protective armor?”

“I can’t be. Part of the thrill.”

Despite the lingering feeling of emptiness, and by extension loneliness, Will feels a peculiar warmth spread in his chest as his conversation with Hannibal drags on. It remains even after they hang up.

*

It’s early in the morning on the second day when Will gets his phone and records a video. It doesn’t show much, only the blurred wrinkles of his sheets, but with the volume turned up Hannibal should be able to hear the soft puffs of his breath and the slick, rhythmic sound of his preferred toy pumping between his legs until he comes, voice catching on a broken moan.

His phone buzzes only moments after he’s sent it and he puts Hannibal on speaker, listening to the soft, low drone of his voice. If he closes his eyes, Will can almost imagine that Hannibal is right there next to him, that they woke up together and Hannibal is emerging from the mist of sleep.

“Do you mean to test my self-restraint?” Hannibal asks, voice level and matter-of-fact, but with traces of fondness in it.

“If that’s what I’m doing, sure.”

“What if you manage it?”

“You tell me,” Will says. “What does a lack of self-restraint entail for you?”

“Ensure its lack and find out.”

“You’re not used to being in this position,” Will says, voice soft with dawning realization. “You don’t actually know. When did you last spend your rut with someone?”

“A very long time ago.”

“Afraid to lose all that composure.”

“So are you.”

“No. That’s not it at all.” Will thinks again about the times when he was young and hopeful and alphas helped him through his heat. Thinks about their nails digging into his hips, their teeth threatening to sink into his neck. The way they’d hold him down and knock his legs apart and hide behind the socially accepted guise of instinct and tradition. Will had felt as though he subjugated himself by allowing it, and then by enjoying it. By seeing his degradation through their eyes and seeing their appreciation more clearly than his aversion.

“What do you fear then?” Hannibal asks.

“Losing track of myself. Wandering lost in someone else’s desires.”

“Then why offer yourself up on the altar of my judgment?”

“I don’t think you transfer your desires as easily. You can be closed off. Present, but inaccessible.”

“I could take offense at that.”

“But you won’t.” Will pauses. He looks up at the ceiling, closing his eyes to conjure the mental image of Hannibal more easily. “I keep thinking about you coming here. We both pretend it’s a lack of self-restraint that drives you, but it would take far more than what we’ve done to genuinely make it snap. But we still enjoy the idea. Or I do. Do you?”

“An alpha out of control,” Hannibal muses. “It’s not how I prefer to see myself, but it wouldn’t be the first time you make me reevaluate my preferences.”

“I don’t usually like it either. It’s only because it’s you. Because I know it would be smoke and mirrors. Theatre.”

“And what role would you play?”

“There’s only one way of knowing.”

“Are you trying to make me come over?” Hannibal asks. “I will if you tell me to.”

Will closes his eyes and makes a decision he already made long ago. “Come over.”

“I’m on my way, then.” Will hears Hannibal moving, what sounds like the soft rustle of fabric, doors opening and closing. “It’s still early. Try to get some more rest.”

“Call me when you’re here.” Will puts his phone to the side and tries to get comfortable, despite the dull ache starting up inside him again at the absence of touch. He closes his eyes, arms wrapped tight around his stomach out of habit. Then he waits.

It’s almost lunch time by the time Will is roused from his nap. He feels heavy-limbed and sticky with sweat and slick, and he briefly wishes he’d made himself get into the shower instead after calling Hannibal. It’s too late now. Before he’s even opened his eyes, he can feel the weight of Hannibal’s broad hand on his shoulder. He can taste him in the air, his scent thick enough that seems to stick against the roof on his mouth.

The soft whimper is out of Will’s mouth before he can stop it and he feels his body tensing up, becoming jittery and restless, as though confronted with a fight-or-flight situation. Except this is something far different from it. He doesn’t want to run, doesn’t even want to move. All he wants is more of Hannibal’s touch, gentle yet firm and strangely familiar.

“How did you get in?” he mumbles.

“The spare key you gave me when I fed your dogs.”

“Right.” Will rolls onto his back. He feels Hannibal’s gaze like a physical weight on his body, but it's hard to feel self-conscious when quiet need pulls Hannibal’s features taut, when his pupils are so blown his eyes appear almost entirely black. “Is it anything like the picture I sent you?” Will asks.

“Better,” Hannibal says without hesitation. “Did you enjoy taking it?”

“I liked the way it was—contained. Only showing as much or as little as I wanted.”

“And so we circle back to the notion of control.”

“It’s something we both cherish.”

“Yet you invited me here.”

“And you came.”

Hannibal tilts his head to the side, fixing Will with his attentive gaze. “Show me what you were doing in the picture. In the recording. I’d like to see what I missed.”

Will stretches out, aware of the way he’s putting himself on display, but feeling slightly dazed from his heat. Like he’s had a finger or two of whiskey, enough to relax him, to lower his defenses. He arches his back the way he remembers doing when taking the picture and reaches down to touch himself, giving his cock a series of slow, leisurely strokes until his mouth drops open on a moan.

His eyes fall shut, and then they open again as he feels Hannibal’s mouth on his chest, soft lips following the line of his sternum before settling on one of his nipples. Will lets out a small whine as he feels Hannibal’s tongue lapping broad over the hardening nub, sucking it into his mouth and tucking it behind his teeth. After years of nothing but his own hands on his body, Hannibal’s gentle sucks and licks are close to overwhelming. Will gasps as Hannibal’s fingers close around his other nipple, rolling it between his fingertips until he squirms from the way it’s drawn tight.

“Is this what you’ve been thinking about doing?” Will asks.

Hannibal raises his head. His voice sounds rougher when he speaks. “It’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about doing.”

“What else?”

Hannibal grasps Will’s face with both hands, swiping his thumb over his cheek. “You’ll see,” he says. Then they’re kissing, Will’s fingers tangling in Hannibal’s hair, tugging until Hannibal falls into bed with him, even though he’s still fully dressed. Even through the thick material of his pants, Will can feel how big Hannibal is, how thick and long, and he can’t help but rock his hips up to feel it. He wriggles only to feel Hannibal’s weight pin him in place; a thrill that for once feels like it begins and ends with Will. He’d been right about Hannibal not transferring his desires as easily. Or maybe they simply share similar desires. It’s getting harder to tell by the minute.

“Get these off,” Will says, yanking impatiently at Hannibal’s pants. Hannibal starts undressing, slowly peeling off too-many layers of clothing until they come together bare-skinned and soft. Hannibal buries his face in Will’s neck, taking deep lungfuls of his scent, and Will feels the graze of sharp teeth against the fragile skin there.

“Oh,” Will moans and draws a quick breath. He can’t help it, he’s suddenly overcome with an intense desire for Hannibal to bite him, to sink his teeth into his flesh and put his mark on him. He turns his head to offer easier access and hears Hannibal hushing him, running a soothing hand down his arm.

“Mouth-watering,” Hannibal murmurs into the soft spot beneath Will’s ear, breath tickling against his skin. “More so than I could have imagined.”

Will feels like a switch has been flipped in him by Hannibal’s presence alone, or maybe he just tells himself that. As though it’s merely instinct making him want Hannibal’s cock buried to the hilt inside him, as though the desire to wear the permanent, jagged pattern of his teeth in his skin is beyond his conscious control, and maybe it is. All he knows is that he wants to be fucked, filled and whole, though he couldn’t say exactly why that particular word presents itself to him so easily. He’s never thought of himself in terms of incompletion, seeing himself as damaged goods rather than one half of a whole.

“Please,” he grits out, unable or perhaps unwilling to ask for what he wants. Hannibal hardly even seems to listen, kissing his way down Will’s chest and stomach and licking a firm, wet line up his cock, taking it into his mouth until he has to push Will’s hips down to keep him from thrusting up into that maddening, wet heat. Hannibal sucks gently on the head and makes a small, contented sound, teasing precome from the slit with the tip of his tongue. He moves down to mouth at Will’s balls and perineum, and then, suddenly, his tongue is skirting the rim of his hole.

“Hannibal, don’t,” Will protests and squeezes his eyes shut, feeling embarrassed and agitated and so close he might just come on the spot. Hannibal buries his face between Will’s cheeks and lets his tongue dart out to lick him, first lightly, teasingly, and then more firmly. Will feels himself grinding up trying to get more, despite the scratch of Hannibal’s stubble on the sensitive inside of his thighs, despite the voice at the back of his mind that tells him this isn’t what he needs.

At the first nudge of Hannibal’s tongue inside him, Will throws his head back and moans, unable to keep from writhing. He’s breached so easily, like his body isn’t offering up any resistance at all.

“Hannibal, please,” Will repeats, the assault of sensation making him instinctively try to close his legs, only to have Hannibal’s big, rough hands pry them apart again. “I can’t. I—need you.”

“I’m right here.”

“For God’s sake—I need you to fuck me.”

Hannibal gives his tender rim a final, slow lick that tapers off into a kiss before he sits back, watching Will with large, dark eyes. He looks wild, but it’s a wilderness that is contained, like an animal in a cage. Will wants to see that confined savagery unleashed, wants nothing more than to be pinned down beneath the bulk of Hannibal’s body with his cock inside him, deep enough to soothe the ache.

Before he can say anything, Hannibal grabs Will’s ankles and hauls him close, flipping him over and arranging him so he’s positioned on his knees and elbows, legs far apart. Will yelps and then moans, head hanging heavy between his shoulders. He can feel spit or slick or a combination of both running down his thighs, and he doesn’t even care about the indignity of it. In that moment, it’s a sensation to revel in.

“How wet you are,” Hannibal says, voice soft, but still not without its edges. He teases Will’s hole with his cock, pushing the head in and out until Will squirms, trying to make it catch on his rim. “You must be aching for it.”

“Yes, Hannibal, come on—”

A finger breaches Will, sliding inside like it’s nothing at all, and it barely is. Will can hardly feel it. He lets out a small huff. “Are you going to make me beg for it?” he asks, not bothering trying to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

“I’m going to give it to you either way,” Hannibal assures him. “All I ask for is some patience.”

Will feels another finger joining the first and hides his face in the pillow, moaning softly. “I imagine you’re aware,” Hannibal starts, “but there are those who argue male omegas are a biological defect.”

Will glances back at Hannibal, but he doesn’t say anything. He’s aware. Hannibal rubs his thumb over Will’s tailbone, making Will’s eyes flutter closed. Hannibal smiles. “Compared to your female counterparts, you’re rare and often late to present. Mostly sterile and infertile and likely to die from complications if successfully impregnated.” Hannibal crooks his fingers, making Will groan with the slight added pressure. “It’s been argued male omegas are only made for pleasure.”

There’s a retort perched on the tip of Will’s tongue, but his mind is pulled in too many different directions at once and Hannibal’s touch is easier to focus on. Something tangible and tender, almost sweet, to offset the aloof harshness of his words.

“In another time you might have been thrown into a brothel,” Hannibal concludes. “How does that knowledge sit with you?”

“That I might’ve been sold into human trafficking?” Will angles a sharp look over his shoulder. “It doesn’t sit too well with me, Doctor.”

Hannibal gives a slight, indecipherable smile. He twists his fingers and Will pushes back, trying to get more, letting out a small grunt when his attempt proves unsuccessful.

“It seems it always comes down to some variation of this with you,” Hannibal says. “You give and people take. And you crave it, down to the very core of your physical being. Do you find it humiliating?”

Will feels his chest draw tight and his jaw clenches up. Hannibal’s words poke at old wounds. He isn’t ashamed of being an omega as much as he’s ashamed of the way his individual parts come together to form a web of oddities. Nothing has ever been easy with him. For him.

“Did you come here hoping for a chance to humiliate me?” Will asks, honestly curious. He doesn’t think Hannibal would be singularly motivated by it, but it’s possible it was part of the reason he decided to show up. There is, as Will has long since established, a part of Hannibal that reeks of Other. “I didn’t have you pinned for a sadist.”

“Call it an affliction of my status, perhaps.”

“I don’t think that’s it. Far from all alphas are sadistically inclined.”

“Maybe not.” Hannibal slowly removes his fingers. When he places them on Will’s hip, Will feels the way they’re warm and wet from being inside him, like Hannibal reached all the way through his body, into his heart, and came away with blood. “In any case, I’m going to try to give you what you need.”

Will breathes a sigh of relief, arching his back reflexively and inching his knees just a little bit further apart, shuddering as Hannibal tightens his hold on his hip and rubs the blunt head of his cock over his hole. Then Hannibal is finally, finally sinking into him, the length of his thick shaft sliding into place with effortless ease. A slight tremor goes through Will and he bites back a moan at how right it feels, how perfect – Hannibal so big and hard and wanting, cupping the curve of Will’s slightly rounded hip, digging his fingers into his skin in a way that will leave small, petal-shaped bruises behind.

“Oh, oh, god,” Will moans as Hannibal is seated all the way inside him, face rubbing into the pillow, damp with sweat and drool from his half-open mouth. How has he been without this for so long? Nothing can compare. The slick slide of Hannibal’s cock when he draws back and pushes all the way back in for the first time makes Will feel like his entire body jolts alive, and he’s faintly aware of the way his thighs tremble like plucked strings beneath his weight.

“Please,” he hears himself say, voice barely audible, one hand reaching back to grasp at Hannibal’s thigh. His uneven nails catch on warm skin, digging in, and he isn’t even sure what it is he wants except more.

“Sweet Will,” Hannibal mumbles. It sounds, to Will, as though it isn’t entirely benevolent. “Isn’t this what you were asking for?”

Will barely hears the question at first. He opens his eyes, trying to focus his mind, to regain his grip on his senses. “I want your knot,” is what ends up coming out of his mouth, and he feels his face flush, but it’s true. He wants it so bad he’s not above asking for it.

“But you didn’t have one before I came,” Hannibal says, the quickening pace of his thrusts making Will twitch and gasp. “How did you manage?”

“Toys,” Will grits out.

“What kind?” Hannibal asks, “where do you keep them?”

Will grabs his own hair, giving it a sharp tug out of sheer frustration, because he doesn’t want to talk, is barely capable of forming any line of coherent thought that doesn’t begin and end with base desires. He grunts softly before gesturing to the bedside table where his toy has been discarded. “Inflatable,” he mutters into his pillow, “table.”

To his surprise and increasing frustration, Will feels Hannibal reach over him and get the toy from the table. It hasn’t been inflated, but it’s rather sizeable either way. Will is just about to ask Hannibal what he’s doing when he feels a building pressure where Hannibal is already stretching him open and he realizes the toy is sliding in alongside his cock.

“Oh—oh god, Hannibal, what are you doing?” Will says, hardly daring to move, voice thin with mounting panic from the feeling of being so suddenly and unbearably full.

“It seemed I wasn’t enough.” Hannibal’s voice is becoming rougher, lower. “I said I would give you what you need.”

Hannibal leans over him, which slightly alters the angle, and Will cries out from the indescribable pain-speckled pleasure it ignites. “If you could see yourself the way I see you now,” Hannibal starts, almost reverently, releasing a deep breath. “You take it so easily. Beautifully.”

“Like I was made for it?” Will asks, not entirely without bitterness.

“There’s nothing natural about this though, is there?” Hannibal moves the toy and Will can’t help but cry out again. It’s too much. “We can’t know what nature intended. It comes down to human construct. Yet I derive pleasure from it, no questions asked. So should you.”

Hannibal draws back again and puts a steadying hand on Will’s lower back, starting to fuck him in earnest, toy still lodged inside and sliding against his cock, nudging against Will’s prostate with every thrust. Will’s head is swimming; he can’t remember ever feeling like this, alone or with a partner, like he’s so filled up there’s no room for anything apart from pulsating pleasure that only seems to keep cresting, reaching new peaks.

He reaches for his cock with one trembling hand, rubbing his thumb over the head – it’s leaking so much, sticky and warm and wet, creating damp spots in the sheets – and he strokes it until his balls draw achingly tight.

“Ah,” he whines, rubs his face against the sheets, restless with the intensity of the sensations tearing at his body. “I’m going to come, Hannibal, please.”

“Please what?”

“I want your knot, nothing else. Nothing else, okay? Please.”

Will feels the toy slowly being removed and the mindless dismay of suddenly being bereft makes his mind short-circuit for a brief second. He lets out a sob-like moan, pounding his clenched fist into the mattress, but then he feels blunt nails cutting into his skin and Hannibal starts fucking him fast and hard, so forcefully Will’s body rocks forward with every thrust.

“Hannibal,” Will whines, hands tearing at the sheets, slapping at the bedframe, searching for any place where he might find purchase. Finally, he feels the swelling base of Hannibal’s cock pressing against the slick rim of his stretched hole and he bears down, body relaxing rather than tensing up out of sheer instinct.

There’s a harsh growl somewhere above him and Will is vaguely aware of the helpless little whimpers escaping his own lips, then Hannibal’s knot settles into place and Will’s mind goes completely blank. Warm-wet semen dribbles down his hand as he starts coming, not even stroking himself, just holding his achingly hard cock in a loose grip.

“Fuck, fuck.” Will can’t help the high pitch of his voice, the way he shakes, the way he pushes back trying to get impossibly closer. He slumps down, twitching with the aftershocks, and feels Hannibal gently lowering them both down onto their sides. Will feels what must be Hannibal’s come seep out and pool beneath him and he’s too tired, too content, to care that he’d be embarrassed under normal circumstances.

“How perfect you are, Will,” Hannibal mumbles into his neck. Will doesn’t feel perfect. His hair is sticking uncomfortably to his forehead and he feels exhausted, mind a stubborn blank space. Still, he feels good. He feels grateful for the closeness. He settles into Hannibal’s embrace, eyes closed, and focuses on the sense of fullness. The feeling of Hannibal inside him, throbbing, raw and powerful, like a second heartbeat.

*

Once Will comes to, he opens his eyes to find a narrow view of Hannibal fiddling with a few small containers in the kitchen. He’s lit by the afternoon sun, all golden skin and firm muscle and honey wheat hair that catches the light when he moves. Will blinks the sleep out of his eyes, taking in the sight of him. He didn’t get a good look at Hannibal before, and seeing him now, naked and relaxed and unaware he’s being watched, Will almost feels winded with want.

Behind the ever-present itch of compulsive arousal, Will can feel his stomach give a small growl. It’s been a while since he ate anything. Hannibal finally catches him looking and offers a faint smile from the doorway.

“Late lunch in bed?” he asks. Will nods gratefully, wincing as he sits up. He feels tender, but not as sticky as he might have expected. His skin is surprisingly dry, the inside of his thighs free from caked slick and come.

“Did you clean me up?” he asks Hannibal once he enters the room, carrying a tray of cold cuts, fruit and cheese. There are two glasses of water on it too that catches Will’s eye. It’s been a while since he rehydrated too.

“I wanted to check if you had torn,” Hannibal says and puts the tray down in front of Will, sitting down on the edge of the bed. “I needed to clean you up in order to examine you. Everything looks fine.”

Will isn’t entirely sure he likes the idea of Hannibal touching him while he’s sleeping, however clinical his touch might have been. It’s seems invasive, too intimate for where they are in their relationship. He gives Hannibal a long look, but there’s no real heat behind it. He can’t muster it, head still foggy from sleep, everything slightly distorted from the haze of his heat.

“Will you tell people about this?” Will asks, picking up a small cracker with cheese and something that looks like marmalade on it.

“That seems unwise.”

Will raises his brows. “More unwise than keeping our employers in the dark?”

Hannibal studies him for a moment. “I suppose it depends on where we want to go from here.”

“I’ve never been good with defined boundaries,” Will says. “Clearly, neither are you.”

“What do you suggest we do?”

“I don’t know.” Will chews a small mouthful of his cracker thoughtfully. “Maybe you’re right. Until we see where this takes us, it might be better to keep quiet.” He swallows. “Thanks for bringing food.”

“I figured you might have neglected it.” Hannibal offers him one of the glasses and Will drinks half of it in one go. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m alright. You?”

“I think you may have triggered my rut.”

Will’s gaze snaps up and he eyes Hannibal carefully. “Are you usually this composed during your rut, or is that a stupid question all things considered?”

Hannibal gives a slanted smile. Will suddenly notices the fiery, red rim around his pupils, glinting like precious stones when he turns his head towards the light. “We are neither of us stereotypical examples of our respective statuses.”

“Are you going to argue you don’t share the average alpha man’s desires? You seemed pretty intent on getting your dick in me just now.”

Hannibal’s smile widens until it looks genuine and the skin around his eyes crinkles. He crawls over to where Will is sitting, gaze focused, face only softened by a few strands of hair falling into his dark eyes. Will is torn between the instinctual drive to cower, to make himself non-threatening or even appealing in the eyes of an alpha, and the desire to prove to himself and Hannibal that he’s capable of rising above base, biological cues.

What Hannibal suggests surprises him though. He leans close to Will’s face and says, voice lowered to a rough whisper: “if you’re proposing another option, you’ll find me amenable.”

Will stares at him for a moment. It’s been a long time since he was intimate with anyone point blank, and it’s been an even longer time since he did what Hannibal seems to be suggesting. And it’s nothing he’s ever attempted with an alpha. He replays the memory of Hannibal theorizing about the purpose of omegas, the way it had felt like mockery, and wonders if Hannibal was mostly trying get a rise out of him after all. He doubts Hannibal would do this if he personally thought it was humiliating.

“For the sake of defying nature,” Will says. “Is that it?”

“Perhaps. It’s another way of seizing control, this time over the constitution of my very being. Does it matter?”

Will shakes his head. Hannibal removes the tray, then he crawls back between Will’s parted legs and kisses him, licking into Will’s mouth and letting out a deep, rumbling groan as Will pulls their bodies flush together. Kissing Hannibal is intoxicating; the closest Will feels like he can come to actually tasting his rich, heady scent.

Putting his arms around Hannibal’s neck, Will follows the slope of his back with his hands until they slide over the supple flesh of his ass. He suppresses a small moan as he feels the dry warmth gathered between his cheeks. The idea of making Hannibal slick and stretched and ready to take Will inside him makes Will twitch with need, and he presses his fingers gently against his hole to test the give. It’s so different from how Will feels, not at all like a place that should be breached, but it only makes him ache for it more.

“Want to be on all fours?” Will murmurs against Hannibal’s mouth. “I think you should be.”

“Only fair, I suppose.” Hannibal’s voice is warm and faintly amused, but there’s still a thread of need there, something desperate lacking humor. He moves out of Will’s embrace and settles on his knees and elbows, back curving effortlessly, like he’s used to this, like it’s nothing out of the ordinary, and Will can’t resist rubbing his cock over his hole just to see his precome leaving a glistening sheen behind. A deep purr-like sound erupts from Hannibal’s throat and he rolls his hips, grinding against Will’s cock until his hole is slick and easy to slide against.

Will curses under his breath and bites the inside of his cheek. He doesn’t keep lube anywhere, simply because he doesn’t need it, but he spits in his hand over and over and rubs it over Hannibal’s hole until it’s slippery enough, until two of his fingers slide inside easily, almost like when he's touching himself.

The thought makes a shudder run through Will and he feels himself grow slicker with every twist of his fingers. He can’t help that he wants this for himself too; he remembers the feeling of Hannibal’s knot in him with startling clarity, the way all other concerns had been pushed out of his head. But he wants the satisfaction of fucking Hannibal more, and they have plenty of time for that later.

“Ready?” he asks. Hannibal looks over his shoulder and nods, lips slightly parted, a faint blush sitting high on his cheeks.

Will slowly starts pushing inside. Hannibal moans softly in a way that makes Will’s hips jerk with the desire to fuck him harder, to force more of those sounds out of him. He leans over Hannibal’s arching back and grunts as the first slide of his cock inside that tight, wet heat floods him with pleasure.

“God,” Will pants, resting his forehead against the nape of Hannibal’s neck. “Jesus, you feel good.”

“So do you, Will,” Hannibal says, voice hoarser now. “You are remarkable. Perfect.”

Will rolls his hips, wanting to take it slow to get Hannibal used to the sensation, but it feels too good. He can’t help but pick up the pace, straightening to watch his cock stretching Hannibal’s blushing rim wide, so effortlessly their roles might as well have been reversed. The far spread of Hannibal’s legs make his hips appear wider, and that, too, reminds Will of his own body, what he sees when he tries to view himself from an outside perspective.

“Do you think you could come just from this?” Will asks. “I hear that’s what proper omegas are supposed to do.”

“I don’t know.” It sounds like he really doesn’t. The slight hint of insecurity in Hannibal’s voice turns Will on so terribly he’s almost ashamed of it.

“I won’t make you,” Will assures him. He leans down, winding an arm around Hannibal’s waist and letting his hand wrap around Hannibal’s cock. It feels huge, silky-smooth and wet with precome, and Will can’t believe he took both that and the toy inside him at the same time. He decides to use both hands, toying with slick head while kneading the base of Hannibal’s length, keeping it up until his knot swells. The way Hannibal clenches around him and draws short, shuddering breaths makes Will ache, a small trickle of wetness running down his thigh.

“Will—” Hannibal cuts himself off with a soft grunt. “I’m going to come.”

“That’s okay. Go on, whenever you’re ready.”

Will squeezes around his knot, slowly tightening his hold, trying to imitate the vice-like grip of his own insides. He jerks Hannibal off with his other hand, automatically falling into the same rhythm with his undulating hips. It only takes seconds for Hannibal to start coming, groaning while thick ropes of come gush from the tip and all over Will’s hands. So much Will is stunned by it, and there’s a twinge at the back of his mind, the heat-addled voice of instinct wishing Hannibal was coming inside him instead, filling him up until Will was overflowing with it.

The mere idea makes the pull of arousal between Will’s legs so forceful he grabs Hannibal by the hips to drag him closer, uncaring about the way his soiled hands almost make his fingers slip over his soft, flushed skin. He sets a punishing rhythm that has them both gasping and when Will feels the onset of his orgasm approaching, he leans down and sinks his teeth into Hannibal’s neck. Not hard enough to break skin, but enough to bring their role play to its inevitable conclusion. Hannibal trembles and moans beneath him and Will stills, hips jerking erratically as he comes.

Hannibal slumps down and Will follows, lying down on his side and holding Hannibal close, much like he held Will before. Will can feel Hannibal’s heart beat against his palm, a rhythm that grows slow and steady as they settle into the quiet intimacy Will is growing perilously used to.

“You okay?” Will finally asks. “How’re you feeling?”

“Sated,” Hannibal says, releasing a deep breath. “For now. And you?”

“The same.” Will worries his bottom lip between his teeth, angling his gaze down. “I don’t know how I’ll feel when my heat passes though. I keep thinking this must have been a bad idea, but it’s hard to consider that and feel any degree of conviction right now.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t a bad idea at all,” Hannibal says. “Perhaps this is what we should be doing.”

“That’d be nice.” Will noses into Hannibal’s neck, taking a deep breath tinged with his scent. “It feels right.”

“I agree.”

They doze off and stay close together for some time, even though Will can’t physically tie Hannibal to him the same way Hannibal can with his knot. When Will’s eyes blink open, Hannibal has turned so they’re facing each other. He’s still sleeping, eyelashes fanned out beneath his eyes, mouth gaining a stern set in his sleep.

It looks sort of like he’s having a nightmare, and it reminds Will of the fact that he doesn’t truly know Hannibal very well. Not yet, anyway. He will have to see where they go from here once everything is said and done.

Hannibal’s eyes blink open under Will’s scrutiny, with almost animal-like awareness that he’s being watched. His gaze softens as their eyes meet. “Good evening, Will.”

Will can’t help but smile at the formality of it. “Good evening, Hannibal,” he replies, dutifully. “Sleep well?”

“Nightmares. But I feel well-rested.”

“We have those in common then. I didn’t know.”

“I suspect yours are worse.” Hannibal strokes Will’s hair out of his face. “Do you need me?”

“It’s not too bad, honestly. I feel like the worst might be over. You?”

“I might still be in the thick of it,” Hannibal admits. He remains, in Will’s opinion, eerily unfazed. Only his blown pupils rimmed with red betray him.

“We’ll have to see to that, then,” Will says and shuffles closer. He lets Hannibal shoulder him down onto his back and part his legs, and there’s less restraint in Hannibal now, a lesser tendency to draw it out, to slow down his progression with conversation. Will secretly enjoys this too, catching Hannibal in the act of caring primarily about his own needs, selfishly and artlessly taking what he wants.

Time eventually becomes hard to keep track of, losing its significance when all they have to do is fuck and sleep and eat when they need it. Will lets Hannibal have him on all fours, face to face, any way he likes it, lets Hannibal knot him until his eyes clear and the hazy filter Will associates with his heat finally lifts entirely from his vision.

Come morning on what Will thinks is their third day together, they take a long, hot shower. Hannibal fucks him one last time, pressing Will’s face against the cold tile with one hand and holding him steady with the other one, even when Will is balancing on the tips of his toes and he feels as though he’ll slip and fall any minute from the force of Hannibal’s thrusts. Hannibal never lets him, keeping him upright with effortless strength while panting into his wet hair, teeth bared and denting his skin ever so slightly.

Even after his heat has passed, Will can’t stop fantasizing about those teeth in his neck, splitting skin and keeping him in place. Claiming him. The archaic culmination of being mated and bonded and bred. It’s not a fantasy he usually permits himself – he can’t stand the idea of being intrinsically linked to someone else and he can’t imagine that anyone would want to share a bond with him either.

Still, when Hannibal calls him sweet, perfect, beautiful, with the sharp points of his fangs tucked safe behind his lips, it’s hard not to picture a reality in which he wants it, where he’s the kind of person someone like Hannibal would take for a mate.

Once clean and out of the shower, they’re both running out of excuses to keep neglecting their everyday responsibilities. Hannibal has therapy appointments to get back to and Will needs to catch up on work and let Jack know he’s no longer indisposed. Will gets into a fresh t-shirt and sweatpants, enjoying the clean smell and the idea of being able to wear clothes again without feeling like they cling and chafe and are bound to be ruined by the whims of his body any second.

He watches Hannibal dress, slowly getting back into his suit, only slightly crinkled from being draped across the back of a chair rather than on a hanger. His damp hair is combed back from his face, giving Will an unobstructed view of his eyes. They’re clear and amber, no longer ringed with fire.

Once Hannibal has gathered his things, Will follows him out on the porch to say goodbye. His dogs mill about around them, as though to bid Hannibal farewell alongside Will.

“You’re not telling Jack?” Will asks to make sure.

“I’m not telling him if you’re not.” Hannibal pauses. He gives Will an assessing look, verging on cautious. “Would you have dinner with me tomorrow?”

Will raises his brows, slightly taken aback. “If you want to,” he says, uncertainly. The question reminds him of how things have changed between them now, and they have yet to find out in which ways. He hesitates for a moment, but then he gathers his courage and says: “it’s okay if this was just a one-time thing. I didn’t ask you to come here harboring expectations.”

“A one-time thing,” Hannibal repeats. “Is that what you would like it to be?”

Will feels Winston’s wet nose press into his hand and he scratches him absently behind the ear, slightly soothed by his soft fur beneath his palm. “We work together,” he says. “You’re my psychiatrist.”

“I don’t have to remain your psychiatrist. Though I’m afraid we’re bound to be colleagues for some time.” Hannibal gives a small smile. “I invited you to dinner because I enjoy spending time with you. I would have asked you sooner or later even if this had not happened. We don’t have to make any decisions now.”

“No, of course.” Will feels himself relax slightly at Hannibal’s words. He doesn’t want to pretend this never happened, but he also doesn’t like the idea that it might have irrevocably changed the direction their relationship was going in. He was enjoying the path they were on. “I’ll see you tomorrow then,” he says.

Hannibal’s smile widens ever so slightly. He takes a step closer, seemingly hesitating for a moment, but then he leans in and kisses Will’s cheek; a lingering press of lips against Will’s stubbled skin.

It shouldn’t feel so intimate after everything they’ve done, but it does. It makes Will’s heart feel like it swells in his chest, pushing painfully against his ribs.

“Drive safe,” Will manages, and Hannibal gives a nod and another one of his barely-there smiles. Will stands on the porch watching the road long after Hannibal’s car has disappeared, threading his fingers through Winston’s fur. He tries not to get his hopes up.