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Draped in Shadows

Chapter Text

 

Hannibal opened his eyes.

He breathed in deep, relishing the lasting notes of bitter wood within the wine, tipping it just so, in a way that wafted the gentlest of scents towards his sensitive nose. He smiled, lips pressing lightly over the rim of the wine glass when he noticed Will copying his movements, ever the empath.

Will looked healthier now, without the flush of fever marring his delectable skin, hair no longer matted down by sweat and pain. It was a good look on him, and he took pride in Will’s speedy recovery, his good health in part due to the fact that Hannibal had tended to him day and night, prioritizing Will’s injuries over his own.

The fall had been brutal for both of them, and though Hannibal had fared better braving the rough ocean, his ascension had been halted by an unconscious Will and it was with great determination and an undying tenacity that he’d hauled the empath onto the beach along with himself. He’d breathed life back into Will’s still lungs and kept him steady while he’d contacted Chiyoh back at the house on the cliff.

Hannibal had spared only a glance and a flash of pride at the piece of art the Dragon made, spread out with plucked wings and tempered fangs. It was a monument to his and Will’s love, to their ardent passion and their understanding.

Now, many weeks later, they were safely sequestered away in a house near the borders of Italy, a place much smaller than his elegant home in Baltimore, but it served their purposes nicely. They’d spent their days here recovering, speaking very little as a sense of peace had fallen between them. Their relationship was mended through blood and sacrifice. There were no more secrets between them.

They could be true to one another, they could choose to see without consequence and fear of Will’s morality rearing its ugly head. It was everything Hannibal had ever wanted, and he was content.

Hannibal licked his lips, and watched with a steady gaze as Will’s eyes traced the path of his tongue.

“Would you say that the wounds we placed on each other, the marks we left behind, were crimes of passion?” Hannibal spoke in a measured tone, leaning back in his leather chair as he shifted his dark gaze to the waning firelight, basking in the warmth of the fireplace.

Will took a long moment to answer, long enough that Hannibal looked up. He studied Will, taking in his tense form and the white knuckled grip he had on the fragile wine glass. Hannibal’s mind darted back to memories long ago, of broken tea cups and shattered trust.

“Arguably yes.”

“Passion has been the cause for many sins over human history. Helen of Troy caused wars and the deaths of thousands through the passion she invoked in others. Yet humans would cease to exist without passion to push them towards one another and inevitably, procreation. It is, in a sense, both a nurturing yet destructive aspect of humanity,” His lips quirked into a sardonic smile, eyes narrowing as he grasped onto the thread of the conversation with sharp claws and gleaming, blood stained teeth. “Which type of passion do you assign to us, Will? Is it something that will elevate us to higher beings? Or is it an instrument in our self destruction?”

Will avoided his questions just like he avoided his eyes, stare alert yet distant as he adjusted his glasses. “You once told me that your passion for me was inconvenient. Do you feel the same now?”

It was a soft question, designed to poke and prod at Hannibal, to see more than he was willing to give. But what Will didn’t know was that Hannibal would give him everything, every dark, corrupted part of him if Will wanted to see it. Will didn’t understand that, he couldn’t understand the depths of Hannibal’s passion, and his forgiveness. Soon, he will learn, and when that day comes, Hannibal will reap the fruits of his labors and his empath will be elevated through his guidance.

“Yes,” Hannibal murmured, smiling when Will’s eyes darted over to him in surprise before quickly focusing back onto the fireplace. “Everyday I see you as you see me. My passion for you grows steadily day by day.”

“You are nourished by the sight of me,” Will muttered, a certain cadence to his words that sounded almost like he was emulating someone else’s thoughts.

“Yet I still hunger,” Hannibal confessed, breathless with want as he drank in Will’s sudden flush, this one much more pleasing as he had been the cause of it.

“Our love is inconvenient then, can’t live with you, can’t live without you. We’ll always want to consume one other.”

Hannibal sat up straighter, delighting in the fact that Will had referred to hunger in the context of both of them, not just Hannibal. He shuddered, drunk on pleasure as he reminisced on how far they’d come.

“Consumption isn’t an ending, Will. It is merely a beginning, an expression of our ardent love for one another and the passion we feel. As long as we see each other, our consumption is spiritual and emotional. We will feast on our obsessions and feed it in turn.” Hannibal breathed out, leaning forward, willing Will to meet his eyes. “This is all I ever wanted for us, Will.”

It was an echo of words long passed. Ones that lived within their synchronized heartbeats, in the boiling of their veins and the darkness of their pain, never forgotten, only buried.

Will met his gaze then and Hannibal’s breath caught on a frown. Will’s face was startlingly blank, though his mouth grimaced with distaste.

“See, that’s where you’re wrong, Hannibal.” Will stood up, pacing in front of the fireplace as he voiced his displeasure. “Truth be told, I no longer wish to see you.”

Hannibal felt his fingers dig into the supple leather as his mind scrambled to piece together where he’d gone wrong. Why was Will suddenly changing his tune?

“I don’t think I understand what you mean by that,” Hannibal finally enunciated slowly, standing and keeping his hands palm up in a placating manner. “If you would take a seat I’m sure we could discuss this-“

Will let out a harsh bark of laughter before turning on his heel, addressing Hannibal with a cold glare. “I don’t find you interesting enough to see.” Will emphasized his words, letting Hannibal know without a doubt that this was something he’d thought for a while now, that somehow Hannibal wasn’t worthy of the empath’s regard. “In fact, I find myself…becoming and evolving without your guidance. When I am away from you, I become something more, something greater than you could ever mold me into.”

This onslaught of words was more than disheartening to Hannibal and his reaction amounted to a set of startled blinks. With all his knowledge of Will, he had never seen this ire, this…dispassionate indifference from the man. It was worse than hate, worse than love. It was just as Will said, he truly didn’t want to see Hannibal.

He was becoming, but it was not by Hannibal’s design.

“Will-“ Hannibal tried, but was refuted, a quick wave of Will’s hand dismissing any words he had to say as useless.

“Goodbye, Hannibal.”

He walked out then, and Hannibal couldn’t help the sudden emptiness in his chest, more pronounced than before. It wasn’t an all consuming pain, no, the ability to feel emotions stronger than hunger and obsession had been burnt out of him when Mischa had died. Instead it was a dull ache, one that increased as Hannibal stood there for an indeterminate amount of time.

His breathing was measured, calm. Inside, he felt the steadiness he’d nurtured for years, through the consumption of flesh of those lesser than him and the amusement derived from the games he played with desperate FBI agents, waver and rock, as if unmoored by Will’s departure.

He closed his eyes and breathed in the lingering scent of Will.

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Hannibal opened his eyes.

He tilted the wine glass towards himself, breathing in the bitter scent of wood barrel and tipped the glass against his waiting lips. He smiled, eyes shining with delight as Will copied his movements, ever the empath.

The fall had been difficult for both of them, but they had survived it.

Chapter Text

 

Will woke up with a gasp, eyes wild as he grasped at his bed sheets, slick with his sweat. His mind felt scrambled, hot and fever red, reminding him too much of his experience with encephalitis not long ago.

“Will,” A soft voice whispered, heavy with sleep and gently reassuring. It was familiar to him. “Will, hey it’s okay. You’re home in Wolf Trap. It’s 3:24 am and your name is Will Graham. I’m here with you.”

Molly.

Will turned his head, blinking the sting of sweat out of his eyes as he breathed heavily, meeting her worried gaze.

“I…” Will trailed off, groaning as he sat up and pressed a hand to his forehead, heart racing for a reason other than the nightmare he’d suffered. He pressed his other hand against the ache in his chest. “Where am I?”

“You’re in Wolf Trap-“

“No, Molly,” Will cut off, his voice harsh in the darkness of night. Nothing felt real and everything had an edge of incongruence to it, like a key not fitting in the right hole. He’d suffered enough waking dreams and nightmares to know when he didn’t belong. “Why am I here?”

She was silent for a long moment before she sat up, dark blonde hair falling in disarray, framing her face like a halo. “Will, you’re here because you’re my husband,” She said slowly, reaching a hand out and gently clasping his tense hand in her’s, tracing up his corded muscles before resting on his shoulder. “You’re here because this is where you live. Are you confused? Do you need me to turn on the lights?”

“No,” Will muttered, rubbing a hand at the back of his sweaty neck, tugging at his curls. The sensation jolted him out of his stupor and he gasped, memories of larger, more dangerous hands than his own doing the same to him. When they were bloodied and beautiful. “I- I was with Hannibal and…”

And now I’m here. Where am I?

Will looked around again, getting to his feet as he traced the walls and the miscellaneous items (fly fishing traps, a coin, a pencil) on his desk. It all felt so real. But he remembered distinctly the spray of arterial blood across his face, the image of Hannibal ripping the Dragon’s throat out. The feel of his body against Will’s as they held each other, pure and cleansing in a way that he’d always feared. Why had he resisted for so long? The taste of blood in his mouth, the way Hannibal had looked at him with adoration in his eyes. It had been everything he ever wanted.

Then, he’d realized that it was something he could never have. Not if he wanted to keep the people he loved safe. No, Hannibal would burn the world around them, just so Patroclus could be his, always, no one in Troy to stop them. With the last shred of good left in him, he’d pulled them both off the cliff.

And Hannibal hadn’t resisted.

“You’re not with Hannibal,” Molly soothed. “You’re safe. He’s in a cell somewhere, under lock and key just as he has been the past three years. You have nothing to fear.”

Will felt more than heard her step behind him, wrapping her thin arms around his waist, her forehead pressing warm against the hollow between his shoulder blades. She moved closer, but her warmth couldn’t chase away the gaping emptiness inside.

“We killed together,” Will murmured, eyes tearing up in despair as he wondered if it had all been a dream. He couldn’t tell if his disappointment was because it wasn’t real, or if it was because he wanted it to be. “It was beautiful,” He whispered, echoing the words, letting them settle on his skin like the darkest of confessions.

“It was just a nightmare,” Molly reassured. She pressed a kiss on the skin of his back and he shuddered. It wasn’t one of cold or fear, but revulsion. He felt dirty, letting her touch him, because he didn’t belong to her. No, he belonged to only one creature and it was one too dangerous for this world. “Come back to bed.”

Will blinked out of his thoughts, wiping at his eyes quickly before turning around and following Molly to their bed. As they lay there he stared up at the ceiling. Molly held him close, laying her head on his left shoulder as he slowly traced patterns on her arm, letting it anchor him.

Distantly, there was the thud of hooves on wooden floor boards and he closed his eyes as a huff of breath warmed the right side of his face. He didn’t dare open his eyes, but for the rest of the night, he felt the regard of a predator on him and he’d never slept better.

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As the days went by, the extremely vivid dream he’d had that fateful night grew into a distant memory. The routine of his normal life muddied his thoughts and he didn’t think of the past, nor did he contemplate the future. He found madness lay on the path ahead and it was one he wasn’t overly fond of falling into again.

Hannibal held his past and his future in his blood soaked hands and he was never letting go. So Will lived the only way he knew how to, in the present, far from the grasp of the man he belonged to.

He was fixing a motor boat, his dogs panting and keeping him company as he performed a task he could do in his sleep. The sun was slowly setting, colors dulling around the edges as he worked. The monotonous work kept him focused, though he couldn’t help but feel like this was a representation of his life. Nothing but the same old actions, over and over, until he’d met Hannibal. Then, he’d felt a spark, a sudden breath of relief that maybe there was more to life than the nothingness he’d lived thus far.

And now, after Hannibal, he was back to that dreaded routine. He hated the man with a passion, as much as he ached for him. If Hannibal hadn’t shown him how beautiful life could be, he wouldn’t miss it now.

There was a flash of black in his peripheral vision and he stilled his movements, carefully peeking out the corner of his glasses. It gave him a clear view of the Ravenstag, standing regally within the tree line.

He turned towards it and it huffed at him before trotting deeper into the forest. Will glanced around, contemplating his next move, even when he knew he would follow regardless. Putting down his wrench, he whistled and the dogs headed back into the house. He locked up, thankful that Molly had chosen to attend a fair with Walter at the school. He didn’t want her to question him. Sometimes, he didn’t have an answer for his actions either.

Most days, even with Hannibal locked in a cell and miles away, he felt as if he wasn’t himself. As if Hannibal had burrowed his way into Will and lived in his chest, right next to his dull beating heart and the echo of loneliness that could only be filled by his presence. It would explain some of his more inexplicable actions. Such as his decision to follow his hallucination into a forest, as it grew too dark to see.

Grabbing a flashlight by his work table, he made his way through the woods, following the sound of leaves crunching under animal weight and the call of the Ravenstag. Finally, they broke into a clearing, something that shocked Will seeing as this clearing had not been there before. He and Molly had explored these woods thoroughly and Will liked to take walks through them. He would have definitely noticed if there was a field near their house.

Standing in the center, the Ravenstag shook its body a few times, raven black feathers falling from its pelt as it let out a loud bellow before its back distorted. There was the sound of harsh bones snapping and pained pants for a few moments before the Wendigo stood where the Ravenstag had been.

It stared at him with empty eyes, though he felt a glimmer of fondness and longing from it.

“I thought we’d agreed not to meet anymore,” Will spoke up in the still forest, even the wind silent, as if frightened by the creature. It walked towards him and as he watched, the dark skin glowed in the night, shedding. Antlers retreated back into its skull, until a mop of familiar aristocratic hair took its place.

“You told me that you didn’t want to see me. I never promised I wouldn’t come to you, Will,” Hannibal replied, a quirk to his thin lips as he stepped up to Will, hand reaching out and cupping Will’s stubbled cheek. “I fear we have much to discuss.”

Will didn’t dare breathe, lest he disrupt the moment they were having, this fragile time, before the tea cup breaks. Hannibal seemed to feel it too because despite his foreboding words, he kept silent, staring into his eyes.

Will could see him so much better now. He yearned to be closer, to see enough that he could know Hannibal’s heart and soul, if the monster had one that is. He darted his tongue out, a nervous wetting of his lips that Hannibal followed with narrowed eyes. The heat that grew in Hannibal’s gaze warmed Will and he couldn’t help the way he leaned into Hannibal’s touch.

“You said you had something to say?” Will finally broke the moment, stepping back and letting the cool night air dampen their fevered longing. He cleared his throat, eyes darting down as he tried to remind himself he was married and that wanting Hannibal, even if it was a product of his imagination, was tantamount to betrayal.

Betrayal and forgiveness was akin to the sensation of falling in love, but he never wanted to love Molly like that. No, she didn’t deserve his darkness and his pain, even if it meant he could never truly be himself around her.

Hannibal’s eyes sharpened, a moue of distaste ticking down the edge of his lips, as if he knew where Will’s thoughts had gone. Considering Hannibal was his hallucination, he probably did know.

“I wanted to see how you were faring, after the fall.”

“The fall,” Will repeated slowly, raising an eyebrow as a mirthless smirk marred his face. He scrubbed a hand down his mouth, fingers catching on the stubble there. “You mean the vivid dream I had a few days ago?”

“Dreams are generally a reflection of long forgotten desires,” Hannibal replied, just as cryptic as he’d been when he was Will’s therapist. “Often, they are the way our mind deals with fear and urges too dark to manifest in the real world. So that begs the question, was your dream one of desire or fear?”

“Couldn’t it be both?” Will shot back before he could think it through, falling into the familiar pattern of banter between him and the doctor. FBI agent and cannibalistic serial killer. Betrayer and the betrayed. “I killed us both, after murdering someone. I think it’s safe to say it was a mixture of what I desired - you, dead by my hand - and what I feared - to be too taken by what I was becoming to resist participating in a macabre dance of death with you and the Dragon.”

“So it seems,” Hannibal smirked, a hum of thought breaking out of him as he clasped his hands behind his back, looking entirely too amused. “Yet you seem to be avoiding the most damning truth of them all.”

“And what ‘truth’ would that be, doctor?” Will retorted, a grim smile on his face as he met Hannibal’s blood red eyes. “I’ve found that often, the truth you drag out of me isn’t one of my own design, but rather one molded and placed there by you. A truth that you nurtured and claimed, kicking and screaming into the light, so that I could become a better companion to you.”

“Still, you drink from my fountain of truth all the same, your mind finding release in the way I coax dark desires and even darker actions from you. Tell me, is it easier on your deteriorating conscience to blame every breach in conduct on me?” Hannibal stepped closer, a predator hunting its prey, with gleaming claws and hunger for more.

Will clenched his jaw, refusing to back down. “If I’d never met you I wouldn’t be here now, questioning my sanity and my morality.”

Finally, Hannibal was close enough to lean in, slowly, as if trying not to spook Will. His prey willingly stepping into his claws. “Yes, and you are all the more beautiful because of it.”

Will flushed, swallowing hard and clenching his eyes shut as the ghost of Hannibal’s breath tickled over the sensitive skin of his lips. He could almost taste the blood that seemed to soak every inch of Hannibal, the blood of his victims and those he’d deemed less worthy. He wondered, if he tried hard enough, would he be able to taste his own blood on Hannibal’s lips? “Beautiful in your eyes, monstrous by normal standards.”

“Everyone finds beauty in the taboo, Will. We’re the only ones savage enough to taste it.” There was a pause, as Hannibal let his words sink in. Will opened his eyes, meeting the white gaze of the Wendigo. “But that is not why I am here today.”

It leaned back, the crown of antlers stretching towards the night sky, the full moon bracketed by deadly sharp bone. “You seek the truth and you see it, yet you do not feel it.”

Will let out a frustrated sound, crossing his arms to hold in what little warmth he still had. “What is it you want me to feel?”

“Me,” The Wendigo answered. Thin, emancipated arms reached out and dark fingers held onto Will’s hand. It raised Will’s shivering fingers until they rested on the Wendigo’s chest. There was no heartbeat. The skin was tough, yet soft. It startled Will and he struggled to hold still, breath coming out in a pant as his eyes widened in disbelief. He’d never been able to touch his hallucinations before. Oh god, was he actually going insane?

It pressed closer to him, forcing him to back up until he hit the trunk of a tree with a solid thunk. His free hand pressed against the rough bark, trying to balance himself as he felt dizzy with panic. It was a bizarre dichotomy of sensations on his hands, one soft and tough, one rough and cold.

“How?” Will breathed out, daring to look up into the Wendigo’s eyes, shrinking back as it leaned in and surrounded him with its antlers.

“Think, Will,” It hissed out, mouth opening into sharp pointed fangs. “If I feel real to you and this world feels real to you…”

“Then nothing is real,” Will let the words out in a shocked gasp, tears pricking his eyes as he tried to wrap his mind around it. He bared his teeth in a snarl, shaking his head as he tried to push away his fears. He’d gone down this road before, doubting his own sanity and driving himself insane with uncertainty. “I-I don’t, then what is this? Where am I?”

The Wendigo opened its mouth in a wide unhinged gape and for one heart-pounding moment Will wasn’t sure if it meant to answer him or devour him. He would never know because in the next second, it whipped its head up, a snarl on its face before it backed away from him. With one last look at Will, it blended into the shadows of the trees and disappeared.

“-ere are you! Will!” The voice broke him out of the shaken daze he’d fallen into and he wet his dry lips with a hot swipe of his tongue before he answered the call.

“Over here!”

Page break

They were standing above the body of Randall Tier and Hannibal couldn’t help the triumph he felt, the warm pride as his eyes took in the violent markings on Randall’s face.

“You’ve been busy, I see,” Hannibal commented, pulling off his leather gloves and placing them into his coat pocket. He turned his gaze to Will, taking in how still he was, how controlled and comfortable. He looked exquisite and Hannibal felt saliva pool in the back of his mouth, teeth itching with the urge to sink into his stubbled jaw line and vulnerable neck. Once he’d tasted Will, gorged on the ripe forbidden fruit, there would be no going back.

Hannibal mused, a little smirk on his lips, that it was perhaps too late for him. He’d tasted Will many times over, both his presence and his mind a nourishment like no other.

“Happy?” Will asked, voice carefully blank as he moved around the table to stand before Hannibal. “Of course you are. You led me down this path, leaving me bread crumbs, but they didn’t lead out of the witch’s forest, no. They led me straight into her den.”

Hannibal stepped closer, eyes bright with hunger as he cupped Will’s face, brushing a thumb across his chapped lips. His other hand reached for Will’s bruised hand, lifting it until he could press a kiss to the knuckles, surreptitiously licking up the traces of blood. Hannibal shuddered, a small moan breaking out of him as the pure taste of Will spread across his sensitive taste buds. He barely refrained from biting down, taking more than was offered.

Will, for his part, didn’t react except to watch Hannibal’s motions with a grim set to his mouth.

“Tell me Will, when you killed Randall, did you imagine it was me?” Hannibal waited with bated breath, a smile playing across his lips. He already knew the answer and his clever boy had never disappointed him yet.

“It was…intimate,” Will answered, after a long moment. Then, his gaze grew distant, expression closed off from Hannibal. Hannibal narrowed his eyes in response, irritated. Will was his in every way, he wasn’t allowed to hide from him, not anymore. Will’s eyes slowly opened and drifted up to meet his, an emotion behind them that Hannibal couldn’t decipher. It took a moment for him to realize he didn’t understand it because he’d never seen Will look at him like that before.

It was a cool gaze of disinterest. Not the kind that Will had struggled to maintain, as he tried to convince Hannibal and himself that he didn’t care for Hannibal. No, this was true apathy.

“It was intimate,” Will repeated, voice stronger this time as he stepped away from Hannibal’s arms, leaving him shivering with a sinking feeling of dread. “That was precisely the moment I realized that when I imagine intimacy, it does not wear your face.”

“Will,” Hannibal’s voice was a whisper, the dark part of him recoiling in defensive anger. It hurt, in a way he didn’t know he could still feel. He had thought that they were closer now, despite or because of the growing dark bond they shared.

“Hannibal,” Will responded cooly, letting out a disappointed sigh. “I’ve seen what you have to offer me,” Will waved his hand at Randall dismissively, making light of Hannibal’s gift to him. The killer he’d sent both as a way to repay Will for Matthew Brown, but also as a way for him to further Will’s elevation. “And I have to say I’m not impressed.”

Hannibal blinked, mouth thinning as he realized there was little he could do to salvage this. Will wasn’t lying, he truly didn’t feel what Hannibal felt.

“I think that we should go our separate ways,” Will sighed as he traced a hand slowly across the dining room table, refusing to meet Hannibal’s eyes. “You don’t have anything more to offer me and our relationship has reached its natural ending point.”

“I see,” Hannibal said carefully, his hand slipping into his coat pocket as he thumbed the scalpel he had hidden there. “That’s a pity.”

Will wasn’t facing him, still turned slightly away to stare down at Randall with indifference. Hannibal stepped forward and hugged him from behind, breathing in his scent one last time, nose pressed against his unruly curls as he dragged the scalpel across Will’s neck. Will choked, hands flying up to grab Hannibal’s hand but the spurts of blood made it hard for him to hold onto Hannibal, his fingers unable to find purchase on the now warm, slippery skin.

“You are mine,” Hannibal choked out, feeling his eyes tear up as he held Will close, holding him as his body spasmed in pain. “But if you are to leave me, then I’d rather it be by my hand.”

Will’s pained gurgles slowly petered out until there was nothing but the drip drop of blood on wooden floorboards, and Hannibal’s harsh breathing, the gaping emptiness in his chest fighting for his attention yet again. Usually Will’s presence helped kept the hunger and loneliness at bay but now…

“Oh my sweet boy,” Hannibal murmured, lowering them until he could cradle Will against him, pressing his face to Hannibal’s neck. Instead of the familiar puff of warm breath against his skin, there was only silence. Hannibal closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of Will, muted by the blood. After a long, drawn out moment, Hannibal settled on the notion that the only way left to show his love would be to consume him.

Hannibal laid Will carefully on the floor. He brushed his errant curls back, the blood on his hands transferring to the hair there. He stood up, mind carefully blank as he moved to his basement to grab the tools he would need. The meat would spoil soon, and he couldn’t let Will die like that, not without tasting him one last time.

When he grabbed his bag, his hands shook and Hannibal took a moment to close his eyes, to truly feel the loss of the only man who had ever understood him.

Distantly, he wondered if living like he had thus far was even plausible without the presence of Will beside him. Now, he would have the rest of his life to figure it out, alone and with no one to see him.

Hannibal shuddered, dreading the concept of existence, of living in a world without Will. A lifetime of starvation without Will to nourish him.

He shook himself out of his melancholy and headed back upstairs. There was work to do.

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Will opened his eyes slowly, staring at the shifting shadows on the ceiling as the morning light streamed through the bedroom window.

Another dreamless night.

Besides that first night where he’d felt off kilter and out of place, he hadn’t dreamed a single thing. No nightmares, nothing at all. He knew he should be grateful, at least he wasn’t waking Molly up with his sleepwalking and screams, but it felt unreal to him.

His nightmares had followed him for years, from his subconscious to the world of the living. Faced with their absence he only felt bereft, as if he didn’t know who he was without his shadows burdening him. Every morning, he would lay there and stare at the ceiling, replaying the first and only dream he could remember in recent time.

Hannibal, drenched in blood. Hannibal, ripping the Dragon’s throat out with his teeth, beautiful in his savagery. And finally, the way they’d held each other before the fall.

Will pressed a hand against his aching heart. Sometimes, he still heard Hannibal’s steady heartbeat in his ears, the way it had sang in victory as Will had laid his blood soaked head against a sturdy chest. It repeated in his mind’s eye, over and over until he couldn’t tell what was more real, the dream or his current waking hours.

Will closed his eyes when Molly stirred. He contemplated greeting her but realized he didn’t have the strength to deal with her right now. He breathed deeply, faking sleep as she sat up and pressed a kiss to his forehead. He ached in a different way when she did that, always a sense of misplaced guilt, as if this should be what he wanted. A quiet life with a wife and kid, and not the memory of knives sinking into flesh. He struggled not to flinch away from her touch, and she stepped out of the bedroom to get ready for the day, unaware of his conflicted mind.

He heard her go wake up Walter, and Will wondered yet again whether or not he should break it off with her. It wasn’t fair to Walter and Molly, staying together as one big happy family when Will’s heart wasn’t in it.

Will heaved out a sigh, resting an arm across his closed eyes, pressing it against himself until he saw black spots burst behind his eyelids. He didn’t know where this sudden unsettled feeling came from. He’d been with Molly for three years now and they hadn’t encountered any issues. They rarely argued and got along well enough. Hannibal had always been a shadow in their lives, and Will had accepted that because he knew he could never truly be free of Hannibal’s presence. They’d lived with it and adapted.

He’d managed for three years, yet suddenly Molly was no longer enough. It was as if he had tasted what he truly wanted, like the monster inside him had caught the scent, and it was hungry for more. His mind flashed back to the way the Dragon’s blood had looked black in the moonlight, the whisper of this is all I ever wanted for you, Will falling from bloodied fangs, and Will shuddered. Ignoring his arousal, he sat up, ran a hand down his face, and grimly ran through today’s itinerary in his mind.

Another long day of lecturing and then fixing his motor.

Will pulled his hand away from his face and stared down at it, turning it and tracing the calluses on his palm. He traced up his arm, where Hannibal had gripped him tight and pulled him up, elevating him to his equal as they stared at each other with matching ferocity, the high of the kill creating a moment tinged with purity. For the first time, they truly saw each other.

And it was beautiful.

Shaking his head with a grimace of pain, Will sighed. There was no point lingering on vivid dreams, it wasn’t real anyways.

The Wendigo’s voice echoed in his head then, sounding suspiciously like Hannibal as it spoke.

“If I feel real to you, and this world feels real to you…”

Will frowned as he ignored the errant thought, grabbing his clothes as he went. This was ridiculous, he wasn’t going to listen to a hallucination, no matter how much it made sense. Will paused, frown deepening when he realized he was actually entertaining what the Wendigo had suggested. No, what the Wendigo had said didn’t make sense at all. He was trying to convince himself of something that wasn’t real. After all, the Wendigo had implied that his entire world wasn’t real and if that was true, what then? The alternative was too frightening to consider.

He could be in a coma and this was his mind creating a safe space for him to rest as he recovered. He doubted that though, reports from coma patients were rarely this clear.

There were other options too, but those were almost fanatical in nature. His mind made jumps, as it often did when under stress.

When was the last time he’d met Jack, Walter, or anyone else besides Molly? Actually, when was the last time he taught a lecture?

It was with some degree of shock that Will realized he couldn’t remember. There was nothing, just blurs and vague impressions of students and suddenly he was at home, working on the motor engine and waiting for Molly to come back. Was he losing time again?

Will sat down on the bed, hands fisted tightly in the plaid shirt in his grasp as he stared at the floor.

“My name is Will Graham,” Will whispered, licking his dry lips as his voice croaked. “The time is 7:18 am and I’m in…”

Will paused, hesitant. “I’m in Wolf Trap, Virginia.”

Was he though? Was he really in Wolf Trap?

He stepped closer to the bedroom window, staring out at the vast expanse of forest, as far as the eye could see. There was nothing out of place, and everything was disturbingly still. Too still, almost unnatural.

He felt a huff of breath on his hand, hanging limply by his side, shirt on the ground and long forgotten. The Ravenstag nosed at his hand, and he pressed weakly back, leaning against it with a shiver of dread.

Where was he, if not in Wolf Trap, Virginia?

Chapter Text

Hannibal sat, sketching quietly in his cell. He gave the impression of intense focus, eyes drawn in by the subtle arch of familiar curls, the sneer of disdain on sensible lips.

“Mail,” The voice of the warden droned out, and Hannibal looked up, staring past the thick pane of glass to give a polite nod to the stately woman. She didn’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction, instead grabbing the few pieces of mail he had, all of them noticeably open, and sliding them into the tray.

He stood, waiting until she stepped back before coming close enough to grab the pieces of paper. The warden left not soon after, after making sure he wasn’t going to cause trouble. He sat at his desk, rifling through the papers, searching for familiar handwriting, or perhaps a coded message in one of the letters. He read each of them carefully, dismissing most requesting an interview with him (mostly psychiatrists unworthy of his attention), and one letter from Bedelia.

He opened that last one with deft fingers, eager to see what she had to say. It was always a source of amusement to him, knowing that his prey was so irrevocably tied to him, unable to resist communication even when he was contained within a cell. His influence wasn’t as far-reaching as he had hoped, but it seemed the impact he’d made still lingered in the outside world. It satisfied him, leaving him smug.

Now, if only Will had the decency to come see him. Hannibal knew it was only a matter of time before he wouldn’t be able to resist.

Opening the letter, his eyes skimmed over the elegant scripture, the words as always a taunt that left him more amused than irritated. Bedelia knew she was living on borrowed time, that sooner or later Hannibal would harvest the feast he had so meticulously nurtured when they were in Florence together. Her cutting words were a way of regaining control of her life, a futile attempt.

Finishing the letter, his smirk slowly fell as he reread the last few sentences, the darkness he kept a careful hold on threatening to burst out.

It will please you to know, Doctor Lecter, that your favorite patient has found a new paramour. She is a lovely woman, much more suitable for a man of his standing.

She has a son from a previous marriage, and Will was more than happy to offer himself up as the father figure in the young boy’s life. They married a few days prior, their joy palpable even from a distance.

It seems Will has moved on, leaving you for his new family, one not of your making. I wonder, as the days grow longer and the years pass by, will he give a passing thought to the monster he’d left behind? Do you believe him, with his endless empathy, will feel your hungered longing from miles away?

Let’s hope he does not. Normality suits him, after all.

Bedelia Du Maurier

Hannibal bared his teeth, a snarl on his lips as his hand creased the thick letter paper. He smoothed his expression immediately after, patching up the cracks in his perfected human mask with shaking fingers and roiling anger.

Will wasn’t allowed to move on without him by his side. Normality? Hannibal scoffed, folding the letter and placing it back inside the envelope. His mind rebelled against the thought, of Will reduced to a banal lifestyle, living out the rest of his life never knowing his full potential.

This was just a small snag in his overarching web of plans. It was unlikely Will would resign himself to a life so dull, not after what Hannibal has shown him. Hannibal was a patient man, and he’d already spent quite some time in this cell. It was no hardship then, to wait for Will to come to him. And he was certain Will would eventually give in.

Mind settled, he shuffled the letters into a nice pile and placed it in his drawer with the rest. He turned back to his sketch, fingers tracing over Will’s fiery eyes and stubbled cheeks with a gentle touch. Hannibal’s eyes softened, a smile on his lips as he imagined their reunion. It would be a meeting like no other, one borne of passion and an intensity unfettered by moral obligations. He hungered for their destined reunion, but he knew that it would be all the more delicious after a long wait to foster a healthy appetite.

All he had now was patience, and an unwavering certainty that Will would come for him.

The years passed, as Bedelia said it would, with an inching pace that scraped at his nerves. Two years turned into five, and five years turned into ten. His physical features, which he’d taken great pride in cultivating, started to deteriorate, his many years in a cell causing him to lose the luster he’d once had. Captivity for a beast such as himself was unseemly, and it showed in his slow decline in health, and the ever present pang of hunger that he’d kept at bay with quiet reassurances and a slowly fading faith.

As he lay on his cot, contemplating the events that had led to his willing surrender into confinement, his mind never wavered from the image of Will. Will, bloodied and bandaged on his bed as he’d told Hannibal he didn’t want to know where he was. That he no longer wanted to see him.

For the first time in nearly fifteen years, Hannibal wondered if perhaps there had been some truth in those words. That Will truly wasn’t coming for him and he had wasted away in a cell for the sake of a man who’d moved on. Will felt so distant now, and the correspondence from Bedelia chipped at his resolve. Will was happy, she reported all too maliciously. Will was having a child soon with his wife, another child to take his attention away from Hannibal.

It was with a growing ache that Hannibal realized he no longer remembered the exact color of Will’s eyes, with their many nuances and tendency to flare with intelligence. Hannibal wondered if Will had grown out his curls, maybe he had a beard now, laced with silver hairs and befitting his rugged yet beautiful features.

He closed his eyes, and imagined a world where Will had helped him escape from this cell. A life where they bathed in blood together, and playfully led the world in a useless game of cat and mouse that only they knew the rules of, and one they would always win.

He was pulled back into his harsh reality by a distant metallic clang, knowing without looking that it was his mail. It was the only thing that changed in his now monotonous life. Will wasn’t coming for him, and it was that thought that finally left a crack so deep on his mask of polite civility that he wasn’t sure if even kintsugi would be able to fix him. No amount of gold could patch up the cracks on his teacup, now shattered and missing pieces that Will held in his hands.

Hannibal allowed himself a moment of grief, a tear escaping the corner of his eyes, now wrinkled with age. It escaped and flowed across his skin to settle against his grey hair.

He hungered, now more than ever, but it was with a slow resignation that he realized this time, there would be no Will to whet his appetite.

He was truly alone.

Page break

Will stared down at his dirty hands, wondering if he really wanted to spend another day working on the motor engine. His sense of time and space had become distorted, and he could no longer tell what day it was. It was disconcerting to realize that he had no real measurement of time, as if he’d been stuck, working on this motor engine for months on end without realizing it. It oddly felt like when he had encephalitis and was constantly in a state of confusion, half mad.

His mind was clear now, but his fear still lingered, and he wondered again why he was here or what he was even doing. Will closed his eyes and imagined the solid strength of the Ravenstag behind him. When he opened his eyes, it was to familiar dark eyes staring back at him, between a rack of deadly antlers.

“Hello,” Will whispered, reaching a hand out to pet the Ravenstag’s snout, marveling at the fact that he could now apparently touch his hallucinations. “I think it’s time we went for a walk.”

Will grabbed the wash cloth nearby and wiped his hands before walking off the yard and towards the woods. His dogs whined in confusion, but with a quick whistle, they settled, eyes following him as he kept walking without hesitation. Will was determined to figure out what was going on. He had a theory, but he had to test it first.

He walked, and walked for what felt like hours, but the sun never moved in its position. The only way he could tell the time was through his sweat covered body and the weariness in every limb. He wasn’t exactly the most fit person but he wasn’t out of shape either. It usually took him a good two to three hours of walking before he felt the strain.

The fact that the sun hadn’t moved despite the time passing by, was truly unnerving.

“This isn’t looking good,” Will murmured, smiling wanly at the huff of agreement from the stag. “It seems that wherever we are, we’re stuck somehow.”

It was another hour of walking (or what he thought was an hour, as there was no true way to know) before Will gave in to his exhaustion and sat down on the grassy ground, leaning against a tree. In his haste to sit down, he scraped his elbows against the stiff bark of the tree, and let out an annoyed grunt when he saw the way blood welled up from the scrapes. The Ravenstag shot him an amused look but settled down next to him, curling its body next to Will and settling its large head in his lap. Will chuckled tiredly, rubbing a hand through his sweaty face and grimacing at the grime he’d accumulated.

“We’ll need to take a shower when we get back,” Will muttered, as he laid a hand near the Ravenstag’s snout, taking comfort from the subtle puffs of breath he felt across his skin. It licked his hand in agreement and he scrunched his face, letting out a half-hearted word of protest that the Ravenstag studiously ignored with a certain air of regal disdain. It was obviously going to do whatever it wanted, and Will wondered idly if it would change into Hannibal soon.

He wanted to see the man again, even if it was just a very strong hallucination. It was a need, an aching hunger that wouldn’t be sated unless he could greedily take in the sight of Hannibal.

As if summoned by his thoughts, the weight in his lap changed. Will slowly opened his eyes from where he’d unwittingly laid his head back against the tree trunk and closed them. He looked down, not surprised at the sight of Hannibal staring up at him, his hair strewn across Will’s lap and framing his face like a halo. Will let out a burst of laughter at that thought, carding his hand through those thin, gold strands.

“Hello, Doctor Lecter.”

“Hello, Will,” Hannibal replied, eyes half-lidded in pleasure from Will’s ministrations. He leaned into the touch and Will obliged, petting him like he would a particularly dangerous predator. Because that was what Hannibal was. Despite his current docile form, Will hadn’t forgotten that at the flip of a switch, Hannibal could snap his neck.

“That’s rather rude, don’t you think?” Hannibal commented, pulling Will from his thoughts. “I wouldn’t just snap your neck,” Hannibal sniffed, a smile playing across his lips and eyes closing as if imagining an entirely different scenario. “I would cherish every moment. I would use my hands to caress you, keep you still even as you struggle. You would look at me with benediction in your eyes, and I would kiss each eyelash, feel every last breath from your lips.”

Hannibal opened his eyes, the look startlingly heated as his red gaze bore into Will’s. “I would hold you close as the life drained from your body,” Hannibal lifted a hand, and placed it around Will’s neck in an echo of the fantasy that passed through breathless lips. “Then, you would be mine forever.”

Will ignored the way pleasure infused him at the thought of Hannibal killing him so intimately. It was dark, and all sorts of wrong that it made him feel affectionate, hearing Hannibal describe what was obviously a well-visited fantasy to him.

“That’s rather obsessively creepy, don’t you think, Doctor Lecter?”

“Are you psychoanalyzing me, Will?” Hannibal asked, a smirk growing on his face as the corners of his eyes crinkled in amusement. “I suppose turnabout is fair play, though I will have to request you refrain from calling my love ‘creepy’.”

Will’s hand stilled from where it was petting Hannibal’s hair, pressing a few of the strands between his thumb and forefinger. It felt wondrously real, but he knew for a fact this was all just in his head. And what did it say about him that his mind conjured up a Hannibal that described how he would like to kill him, then proclaim that as an expression of love?

“Perhaps the time for psychoanalysis is over,” Will mused, tracing Hannibal’s distinguished features, his thumb lingering on Hannibal’s lips. He pressed in, marveling at the fact that Hannibal allowed him this transgression. He let his thumb rest against Hannibal’s teeth, pushing against the sharp point of one of his fangs. It made him shudder, remembering the way those deadly teeth had ripped out the Dragon’s throat with savage grace and power. “If I can’t escape your analyzing even within my own head, then there really is nowhere for me to go.”

“Where ever you go, I will always be by your side. We are conjoined now, neither of us can survive separation,” Hannibal nibbled lightly on Will’s thumb, teasing with a swipe of his tongue. “Tell me Will, have you found the answer you seek yet?”

Will bit back his groan at the feel of Hannibal’s mouth on his skin. He pulled his hand back rather reluctantly, moving it to cup Hannibal’s face instead. “No, but I think I’m getting there.”

“Clever boy,” Hannibal replied, a spark of something dark behind his eyes. “And when you find out the truth?”

“If I am truly confined as I believe I am,” Will spoke slowly, allowing Hannibal to see the way his mind worked, planning and discarding different theories. “Then we will bathe in their blood and sate our hunger with the sound of their screams.”

It was Hannibal’s turn to give a full body shudder at Will’s words, his smile growing dangerously hungry. He pulled Will down towards him with a hand at the back of his neck. Will felt the excited puffs of breath against his lips, and he willingly let Hannibal maneuver him until he could hover his lips over Will’s.

“You never cease to surprise me Will. Every time I think I can anticipate your next move, you always show me another facet of your becoming,” Hannibal’s words were whispered against Will’s skin, and Will felt the way his lips quivered, sensitive to Hannibal’s warm breath.

“And what am I becoming?”

Beautiful.

Will shivered in anticipation, eyes sliding shut as Hannibal crossed that last centimeter of space between their lips. He waited with bated breath, but the touch he craved for never came.

He opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling of his room. His mind instantly sharpened, falling out of the comfortable haze and feeling of belonging he’d had with Hannibal. He sat up abruptly, more than a little disoriented.

“What’s wrong?” Molly turned towards him, and Will recoiled, his breath coming out in panicked puffs.

“I was…” He trailed off, running a shaky hand through his curls. He quickly pulled them back in front of him, staring at his hands. They were clean, and without the forest grime coating it. He was wearing nothing but his boxers, and he didn’t remember changing clothes or even returning to the house. One minute he was with Hannibal, the next he was in bed. His lips still tingled with anticipation, and his neck felt the tightening of a familiar broad hand, cutting off his breathing. Was he truly going insane? “It’s nothing.”

“Will…” Molly reached for him, clearly concerned, but he brushed it off, getting out of bed and tugging on a pair of sweatpants with shaking hands.

“It’s nothing, go back to sleep,” He spoke up, voice as gentle as he could make it. “I just need to get some water that’s all.”

Ignoring her protests, he stepped into the kitchen. Grabbing a glass from the drawer, he opened the faucet and watched the way the water filled his cup with a distant gaze. He felt eyes on him and he looked up sharply, staring out the window to meet the eyes of the Wendigo. It stood at the treeline, far enough that he could almost blend into the shadows if Will wasn’t so attuned to his presence. Instead of standing listlessly, hands at its side as it was prone to do when watching Will, it was resting one black hand against a tree trunk, an inscrutable look on its face.

Will stared back, crossing his arms and biting his bottom lip in thought as he took in the Wendigo’s posture. It was a small difference but it was enough to make him wary. There was something about the way it curled its fingers into the rough bark, that pressed at the edge of his mind.

Picking idly at the scabs on his elbow, he finally looked away and picked up the cup, tilting his head back to take a long gulp.

Scabs?

Will’s reaction was delayed, and he only distantly heard the sound of glass shattering on wood, his gaze focused on his elbow. It was scabbed over, because he had scraped it against the tree bark when he’d gone into the woods…

Slowly but surely, his reality was cracking, and it was with a growing sense of anticipation that he realized he was already seeing the missing continuity. Whatever was happening, wherever he was, it had missed this one detail.

He looked back up, Hannibal now standing in the place of the Wendigo. Will met Hannibal’s blood red gaze with a steady surety, more clear-headed than he’d felt in a long time. The man smiled at him, clearly satisfied that his message had gotten through to Will, before stepping back and letting the darkness take him.

“Will?”

Molly’s alarmed voice broke him out of his sharp focus, and he schooled his mask into one of dazed confusion. “Sorry, I must be more tired than I realized…”

He let her fuss over him, keeping a keen eye on her motions and realizing with no small amount of anger that she was likely not real too. He was stuck in a place designed to tame the beast inside him, to quell the violence he craved daily.

He knew there had to be a reason he was here, but whatever it was, he didn’t care. They had tried to contain him, but what they hadn’t anticipated was that the beast living in his breast was one that he’d tried to cage before and had failed. He’d given in, and now there was no going back. The docile nature of this reality was unbecoming for his new self, and it was becoming increasingly clear to him that something had changed after the fall off the cliff.

Wherever he was, he was no longer in Wolf Trap, Virginia. If he was being truthful, he wasn’t even sure if he was on the earthly plane anymore. Will pressed his lips together in a thin line, mind racing as he lay in bed and stayed as still as he could to feign sleep.

It didn’t matter. In the end, he would find his way to Hannibal, whether it be by his own hand or by Hannibal’s design. Nothing could keep them apart from each other for long, that he was sure of.

An echo of words sounded in his head, and he let sleep take him for real this time, a smile on his lips.

Clever boy.

Page break

“How would killing me make you feel?”

Will was trembling, a wild look in his eyes that Hannibal wanted to bottle up and keep for himself. The mongoose by his side for when the snakes slither by.

“Righteous,” Will whispered, voice shaking with emotion as he held the gun in his hands. Hannibal’s eyes lingered on the way his arms stretched as he pointed the gun towards him, he traced the much longer curls around Will’s exhausted face. It seems that his brief stint in the custody of the FBI had done very little to settle his mind. Despite the lack of encephalitis, Will looked fevered.

“Guns…” Hannibal trailed off, closing the refrigerator door carefully as he stepped closer to Will, intoxicated by his proximity after so long seeing him behind bars. “They lack intimacy.”

Will paused, his hands steady as he cocked his head to the side, his gaze sharpening in understanding. “You want us to be intimate.”

Hannibal didn’t respond, his lips quirking up one side. He flicked his tongue out, reminiscent of the way a snake would slither close and taste the air, hunting for their prey. Will’s eyes tracked the movement and he swallowed before placing the gun down on the kitchen counter.

“Then intimacy, you shall have.”

That was the only warning Hannibal received before Will threw himself forwards, using the forceful shove of a shoulder to slam Hannibal against the hard metal refrigerator behind him. Hannibal let out a grunt, landing on the balls of his feet and pressing back just enough to lessen the impact, instinct taking over. He grappled with Will, holding onto him tightly as he tripped the man with one foot. They went down hard, Will beneath him as he slammed them into the tiled floor. He sat up, pressing Will down with one hand on his chest as he used his body weight to hold down Will’s hips, straddling the man’s body.

Will may have anger and righteous anger on his side, but he hadn’t exactly been fed well while imprisoned. Hannibal also had years of hunting and subduing his prey on his side. He soon had the upper hand, sliding his fingers almost lovingly into long curls and gripping tight, slamming Will’s head once, twice into the floor.

He stopped when Will groaned, dazed. There was blood pooling beneath Hannibal’s fingers, leaving the hair sticky and warm. He felt a hunger grow in him, the part that wanted to feast and take every piece of Will inside of him, until they became one. Not Will and Hannibal but rather WillandHannibal, together in every way that mattered.

“Hannibal…” Will’s voice was weak, and Hannibal focused on that sound, the way his prey was baring his weakness making Hannibal want to sink his teeth in and never let go. He was distracted from his thoughts when Will reached a hand up. He intercepted it before it could touch him, his grip on Will’s wrist tightening to the point of pain. “Please…”

Hannibal blinked down at him, the haze of bloodlust dissipating as he realized Will wasn’t trying to hurt him anymore. He hesitated for a moment before letting go, curious to see what Will wanted. He was stunned when Will cupped his cheek, the touch almost reverent, a certain tenderness to it that he didn’t know he’d been craving until Will gave it to him.

Will bucked up against him, and at first Hannibal thought he was trying to escape, but that thought soon fled his mind when their erections brushed together, and a groan of pleasure fell from Will’s lips. It wasn’t uncommon for them to grow hard under the conditions they’d been in, adrenaline rushing and blood pumping. Still, Hannibal couldn’t help the way he reacted, teeth bared and uncertain. This was everything he’d ever wanted, but to have Will give it to him so suddenly and in such circumstances threw him off. He didn’t know how to react except to grind down, relishing in the whine that Will couldn’t hold back behind gritted teeth.

Soon they built up a rhythm, and though Hannibal was above such things, his civil mask as much a part of him as the monster within him was, he couldn’t deny that Will brought out his baser urges. If that was rutting against each other, bloodied and frantic, then it was something he welcomed, as long as it was something Will gave him.

Will grasped his hips, thrusting up against him and grinding in a way that had stars burst behind his closed eyes. It was a brief moment of distraction, a second where his mouth dropped open in pleasure, a moan breaking out, when suddenly Hannibal was on his back. He bucked up, desperately chasing his pleasure, but stilled at the hand on his throat holding him down.

He opened his eyes, slightly offended that Will had successfully seduced him to have the upper hand. Will for his part only looked slightly flushed, a majority of his wanton writhing was obviously an act. Now, his calm was only broken by his harsh breathing, the triumph in his gaze unmistakeable.

Will stood up, and before Hannibal could bring him back down, and make sure he stayed down this time, Will lifted a foot up and slammed it hard into Hannibal’s shoulder. He let out a muffled grunt, a barely bitten off howl of pain as he felt his arm dislocate and what was likely a fracture as well. Before he could recover, Will slammed his foot against Hannibal’s ribs, and he heard a distinct snap as one or two of the bones broke. Hannibal gasped for breath, wrapping the fingers of his good hand around Will’s ankles, nails digging into the bone.

“Will…” Hannibal choked out, a laugh building in his throat as he admired the cruel satisfaction in Will’s eyes, the way he looked down at him with a darkness that made him ache with want. The shadows framed his face like a dark halo, his beautiful Will, a fallen angel. “You surprise me yet again.”

Will stared down at him, eerily silent as he seemed to be contemplating his next move. “I wanted to kill you,” Will spoke with a voice barely above a whisper, his words hoarse with tension. “I wanted to feel your life drain from your body, and I wanted to do it with my hands.”

Hannibal shuddered, arousal coursing through him at the thought. If he was to be killed, he wanted it to be Will. To die by the man’s hands would give their relationship a certain intimacy that it didn’t have before. It would tie them together irrevocably, forever. His blood would stain Will’s hands, and his death would be imprinted in Will’s mind. Will would never be free of him, and that thought appealed to him more than he could put into words.

“Then do it,” Hannibal grit out, licking his lips as he stared up at Will beneath his lashes, the look seductive and the glee on his face unmistakeable. “Take me.”

Will seemed to think about it for a moment longer before pressing his foot hard against Hannibal’s broken ribs. His breath wheezed out of him, and he clenched his eyes shut at the bursts of pain. When he opened them again, he froze, the barrel of a gun within his line of sight.

“You wish for us to be intimate,” Will looked blank then, no passion behind his eyes. He looked at Hannibal like he was just another body, one unworthy of him. “But intimacy is freely given, and something you have not earned. You think I see you for what you are, you want me to see you.”

Will leaned closer then, pressing more of his weight onto his foot and Hannibal’s grip weakened on Will’s ankle, the pain scattering his thoughts. “But you are nothing more than a monster to me. I see you, and I don’t want you.”

“Will-“ Hannibal gasped, a tear sliding down his face as he struggled. This wasn’t right. Will wasn’t supposed to kill him like this, there was no intimacy, no sense of belonging and no passion. Will was the one who was supposed to know him, to understand him. He stared up at blank eyes, barely registering the sound of Will clicking the safety off the gun. It was cold, and it was with a sinking feeling that Hannibal realized Will never saw him as anything more than a monster, and he never would. He didn’t care about the other parts of Hannibal, he just despised the one part he’d discovered. He found one sign of infection and decided that amputating the whole limb was a better choice.

“Good bye, Doctor Lecter.”

Bang.

Chapter Text

Every time Will walked past a certain point in the woods, he found himself waking up next to Molly. Sometimes, it was if he’d been outside for longer than a few hours, other times it was unclear what triggered it. Either way, he deduced that he was anchored to the house, despite the illusion of a normal life. He “went” to his lectures, every day, though in reality he never left the property. He only had vague impressions of students before he was forced to focus on his motor engine again, standing outside with a wrench in hand.

He was starting to grow frustrated, trying to find a way out of this place he was trapped in. It was grating on him, the over concerned overtures from Molly, and the way his frustrations were bleeding into his actions. He’d snapped at Wilson today, and he’d felt guilty for it even when he was almost a hundred percent sure it wasn’t the real Wilson. This place he was confined in felt stifling, the mirage of normality choking the darkness in him. It made him want to scream, it made him want to lash out.

It made him ache for Hannibal. Hannibal with his stupid cannibal puns and indulgence in all the taboos humanity had to offer. He could only hope that wherever Hannibal was, it would be somewhere he could reach him.

Will had a theory, and day by day the evidence grew. He’d went over his memories several times, and separated them into two piles. One pile was what he deemed to be true, and the other was what had been concocted by this place. The last real memory he had was of Hannibal, and the way they’d held each other with bloodied hands before Will tugged them over the cliff.

If every memory after that was false, then Will had an inkling as to where he was. Add that onto the fact that his time here had been driving him insane with boredom and irritation, he’s determined that it was likely he hadn’t survived the fall. And if he didn’t survive it, then he was stuck in some sort of afterlife.

It was no surprise to him that he was perhaps in a sort of Hell, designed to trap him in a life he never wanted and leave him to rot in normality. If he was in Hell, then Hannibal couldn’t be far. He highly doubted Hannibal had survived the fall, as the man’s wounds had been worse than his own. Though he had to admit that Hannibal’s uncanny ability to survive anything could have saved him. Still, he couldn’t imagine being in a realm without Hannibal in it.

The fates wouldn’t allow it, Will was sure of that. If there was a Heaven and Hell, if there was any sort of greater power, then they would not allow Will to escape Hannibal’s orbit. He couldn’t escape Hannibal in life, it was unlikely he’d be free of the man now.

He had to believe that, because the alternative was unthinkable. He would find Hannibal, or Hannibal would find him, and they would go from there. Will still wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself, but he figured that being aware he was stuck in Hell was a good starting point, and likely one that whoever was in charge didn’t want him to have. They had taken great efforts to keep Will complacent and docile, going so far as to reset the world every time Will did something unsavory like try to leave.

“Hey boy,” Will sighed, squatting down and rubbing a hand through the soothing fur on Wilson’s head. “What do you think I should do?”

Wilson panted at him happily, and he laughed when his other dogs crowded him, whining for attention. He was grateful that whatever Hell he was in, they at least allowed him the company of his dogs. It made things just a little more bearable. He asked himself, with some amusement, if Hannibal approved of this place. Dante’s Inferno had been a favorite topic of his, and he smiled, imagining Hannibal’s reaction to a Hell completely different from Dante’s descriptions.

Perhaps he would be irritated, or maybe he would smirk at Will with that special look he reserved just for him. Maybe he would look at him and his eyes would grow gentle, his mouth opening to say:

“It doesn’t matter which version of hell we reside in, as long as we exist together, it is a heaven of our own making.”

Will looked up, eyes growing a little misty as Hannibal regarded him with that affectionate look he’d been imagining in his mind’s eye.

“Hello, Hannibal,” Will stood, dusting himself off before drinking in the sight of him. He was in a three piece suit, the one with a purple patterned vest on the backside which was a personal favorite of Will’s. He remembered the first time he’d seen Hannibal wear it, and how he couldn’t help the way his eyes had lingered on his therapist. Now, he could stare all he wanted. This Hannibal was a product of his own mind, after all. Will opened his mouth, hesitating before realizing there was no one here to judge him for this. “I’ve missed you.”

Hannibal’s lips quirked up into an almost smug look, though Will knew he was just peacocking, obviously pleased. “And I you, dear boy.”

Will scoffed, looking away and focusing on a patch of grass next to him. He rubbed the back of his neck with a hand, sighing. “You’re only saying that because you’re a figment of my imagination.”

“Perhaps,” Hannibal allowed, and Will looked up in trepidation when Hannibal stepped closer to him, cupping his face with a warm hand. “But you are a part of me, just as I am a part of you. You know me.”

Hannibal rested his forehead against Will’s pressing close. They breathed in tandem for several long minutes, the worries in Will’s mind quieting before coming back in a tidal wave of fear. Hannibal always pulled at Will’s vulnerabilities, taking delight in displaying Will like that, flayed open and all his insecurities spread out for Hannibal to peruse.

“I wish you were here,” Will confessed, swallowing hard as he clenched his eyes shut, fighting back the despair that threatened to choke him. He’d been doing so well, refusing to linger too much on the thoughts of what ifs. What if he couldn’t get out of here? What if he was stuck in an eternity of banality, without the real Hannibal here to keep him sane? “I know myself, when I’m with you. Here, I can feel myself slipping away. I feel lost.”

I feel lost without you.

He couldn’t voice it, but he knew Hannibal would know all the same.

Hannibal stayed silent, long enough for Will to finally open his eyes and step back, wanting to hear what Hannibal had to say.

“I can not claim that I know what you’re struggling with right now, Will,” Hannibal started, his gaze focused on a point past Will’s shoulder as he grew serious, his face grim. “But there are some cracks that can not be fixed, some spaces that are left empty for a reason. Find them, and find me.”

Hannibal’s gaze flickered over to him then, full of dark amusement, a smirk on his lips. “When life becomes maddeningly real, think of me.”

Then, within one blink and the next, he was gone.

Will let out a frustrated huff, scrubbing at his face, his fingertips pressing where Hannibal had touched, trying to feel the warmth the man had exuded.

“Still as cryptic as ever,” Will muttered, though his lips danced with the beginnings of a smile. “Your insight is appreciated, Doctor Lecter.”

Page break

“This is all I ever wanted for us.”

Will met his gaze, and Hannibal frowned at the empty look in his eyes. It tugged at the predator within him, the one that saw Will as his, it ached and roiled against his person suit, growling. It wanted to tear and destroy, it wanted to drink the blood of the man standing before him. Will had always served as a temptation for Hannibal. He cared for him deeply, to the extent that he wanted to consume him. It was the only way he could feel Will, as deeply as possible, and to cherish him by way of blood and sacrifice.

This violence was different, it was baseless, a tug of annoyance that he felt before he killed someone particularly rude. Will meant more to him than food, and the out of place urge made Hannibal’s hackles raise, his mind sharpening. He set his wine glass down on the side table, staring into the fireplace.

Distantly, he heard the harsh words Will said to him, tuning them out in a way that he usually wouldn’t with his ever so clever boy. Hannibal rubbed absentmindedly at his mouth, licking his lips and tasting the scent of Will in the air. It was Will, and the very essence of Will, permeating his senses and coating his tongue like nectar.

Yet, there was something artificial there. His scent wasn’t as delicious as Hannibal remembered it. The man before him acted like Will, spoke and smelled like him, but he was a poor imitation. A mere echo.

There was also something about this conversation that felt familiar, almost as if they’ve been here once before. It was a startling sense of deja vu, one he can’t recall he’s ever had, and so it made it all the more alarming.

Hannibal inhaled deeply, his mind clearer than it had been in days (weeks? Months? It feels like he’s been here forever). Hannibal stood up and approached the man wearing Will’s face.

“Tell me, where are we? And more importantly, who are you?”

Not-Will met his eyes with a blank look, an emptiness in them that sparked a sense of curiosity in Hannibal. It was like looking at a doll, or perhaps a snapshot of a human.

“I believe you’ve had too much to drink, Doctor Lecter,” Not-Will started to say, but was quickly cut off when Hannibal rested his palm against the imposter’s neck, not cutting off his air, not yet, but enough of a threat for Not-Will to pause.

“You are not who I think you are, though you pretend well enough. I’m ashamed to admit it took me this long to notice you are not him,” Hannibal glanced around, taking note of the shadows that covered the corners of the room, dissolving into a void of nothingness past a certain point. “Tell me, where are we?”

Not-Will stayed silent, staring blankly up at Hannibal as if he hadn’t heard the words. Hannibal tightened his fingers, frowning when the man didn’t react to his actions. “Speak,” Hannibal whispered, a dangerous edge to his voice.

“You wouldn’t kill me,” Not-Will said slowly, even more emotionless than before. A fading image of something wearing the face of a human. “You love him too much.”

“Oh?” Hannibal murmured, a small smirk on his face as he stared down at the man with all the wrath of a god. “And how would you presume to know what I will, or will not do?”

Hannibal leaned in, eyes narrowed as the man stood placidly, no longer pretending to be something he wasn’t. “You see, I will kill you, precisely because I care for him too much. They say the greatest form of love is one borne of death and darkness. You’re a poor substitute, but you’ll be a suitable sacrifice.”

Hannibal stepped closer, until he had him wrapped up in his arms. It was a mockery of a hug, and when the man didn’t react with anything more than a slight twitch, Hannibal moved. With a slow exhale and a swift jerk of his hands, he snapped the man’s neck.

Hannibal let the body fall from his arms, staring dispassionately at the blank look on the man wearing Will’s face. It looked disconcerting on him, and he certainly didn’t deserve to wear Will’s handsome features. Hannibal liked to believe that if Will was to die by his hand, he would embrace it with a look of bliss and rapture. It would be a beautiful mutual destruction, both of them taking each other’s lives in a final consummation of their all-consuming love.

With a sniff of disdain, and feeling more than a little inconvenienced by what had just happened, Hannibal looked around once more. The room had only one doorway out, and it was only now with a clear mind that he was slowly realizing the memories after the fall felt false. As if they were a film reel or flashes of images shown from a distance. It didn’t feel like real memories, and had a distinct emotionless quality to it.

In fact, as he rifled through his mind, he realized that there were some memories that had been altered, pathways that ended in death or isolation for him or Will. It was interesting, seeing another version of Will like that, but it wasn’t the real Will. He wouldn’t settle for some poor imitation of Will, it was his uniqueness that drew Hannibal to him after all.

It was easy to assume then, that the fall had given him a form of amnesia which then developed false memories to make up for the empty space. Unlikely, but much better than the alternative: that he had not survived the fall and was stuck in some sort of limbo. Hannibal wasn’t a god fearing man, in fact, he’d like to believe that if there was a god, he was certainly this god’s equal if not superior.

So it wasn’t a surprise to him that when he stepped out of the room and was met with endless doorways placed in an indecipherable pattern across a rocky terrain, each door different from the next, that he let out a small sound of interest, making a sound conclusion.

“Ah, so this is what Hell is like.”

Page break

Will laid in bed that night, awake and still as he stared up at the ceiling in what was fast becoming a nightly pattern. He carefully slid out of bed, padding on silent feet out into the hallway. He paused for a moment, turning back to glance into the bedroom and watch Molly with wary eyes.

So far, Molly was the only person he’s seen in this place. She was the only constant in his life, and it couldn’t be a coincidence. She could also just be a figment of his imagination, but she felt too real, and slightly different from the Molly he knew. Will had a sinking feeling that perhaps this Molly was the warden of his cell, the one meant to guard him and keep him from leaving. She was always there, trying to calm him and cajole him into a docile state whenever he had nightmares orr panic attacks.

It wasn’t anything different from what the real Molly had done for him, but now that he was in this place, it was suspicious. With one last look to make sure she was asleep, he snuck over to Walter’s room. He remembered Hannibal’s words, of spaces left purposefully empty.

If this was his Hell and Molly was in it, why wasn’t Walter? A wife and a child were the perfect combination of normality, and yet Molly was the only one he saw. She spoke of Walter often, and made the motions to go pick him up from school. In fact, when Molly returned and he was working on the motor outside, he would often hear Walter’s familiar voice and the cadence of his running steps. Yet, when he tried to catch a glimpse of the child, there would be no one there, as if he’d stepped into the house before Will could see him. It was too much of a coincidence for him to accept, and he hoped this was one of those “empty spaces’ Hannibal had told him about.

Licking his lips, suddenly nervous, Will placed his hand on the doorknob. He turned it with some hesitation before opening it slowly, wishing not for the first time he had his gun with him.

It was dark in the room, and Will cursed his lack of foresight for not bringing a flashlight or at least his phone to illuminate the room. He turned to go get it but paused, something poking at his awareness. He turned back to the room, squinting at it dubiously.

This darkness wasn’t natural, and it dawned on him what was off. There was a window next to Walter’s bed. There was always sufficient moonlight streaming in to light the room, enough that Walter hadn’t needed a nightlight in his room.

Will stepped back, unnerved by the fact that even the light from the hallway didn’t seem to be able to permeate the darkness in the room. It sucked everything into it, and as he stared, Will wondered if it would take him too.

Where did it lead to?

“Will?” Molly’s sleepy voice called out, and he cursed under his breath, quickly closing the door with a soft click and padding back into his bedroom, feigning sheepishness.

“Sorry,” He apologized softly, sliding back into bed. “I had a nightmare and didn’t want to wake you.”

“Oh,” She replied, a look of sympathy on her face. She rested her hand delicately on Will’s arm, and his smile tightened, threatening to turn into a snarl. As if sensing his mood, she kept the touch light and quick, her hand retracting soon after with an apologetic smile. “Next time you have one, wake me up. I can keep you company.”

“Okay,” Will agreed, though he knew there was no way in hell he would acquiesce to that request. He was still highly suspicious of her motives, and whether or not she was a friend or a foe. If his theory proved correct, then she was probably a demon and he needed to move cautiously before she caught on that he’d realized something wasn’t right. “Go back to sleep.”

She nodded, though she waited until he also laid back down before closing her eyes, her breathing evening out soon after. Will grit his teeth, uncomfortable by the fact that he was likely in bed with some unknown demon.

A part of him found his irritation at the situation ironic, after all, he’d long since accepted that he didn’t mind getting into bed with demons. Except in his case, he was only interested in one demon in particular.

He stared up at the shifting shapes on the ceiling, and smiled when the shadow of a familiar head and pair of dark antlers grew across the ceiling. It lulled him to sleep, and he let himself rest, content to have his monster watch over him.

Chapter Text

Hannibal had opened the first few doors, out of curiosity. He was fascinated with this realm and its mechanics. There was something startlingly clinical about the place, the way it sectioned each person off into their own little space. After peeking into the first few rooms, each one showing scenes that could easily be labeled as personal nightmares of the unfortunate soul it housed, Hannibal had come to a few conclusions.

The first was that despite all of Dante’s imagination, he could have never anticipated something as meticulous as this. Each room was designed to make the soul miserable, keeping them stuck in a loop of their own making as they lived through their worst fears.

The second was that the “people” in those rooms were actually demons wearing the faces of those that the person cared about. Usually the demons were the ones doing the torturing, whether it was with cruel words or the more direct method of knives and fists. Hannibal could see that they used whichever method the person feared the most, and he could see the beauty in that. He always did appreciate the workings of the mind, and if Hell relied on the psyche to torture, then all the more brilliant.

Still, it was almost amusing how it seemed like he was the only one who had broken out of his Hell-loop. Some of the doors remained stubbornly closed, and Hannibal walked past them rather leisurely, staring up at the orange-red sky in interest. There was no sun or moon, no source he could find for the glow that seemed to touch everything he saw. The light seemed to just exist, as if it was a pale imitation of Earth’s lighting.

It reminded him of pictures of the surface of Mars, the dust-red apocalyptic feeling lending the place a sense of isolation. It was silent, not a single wisp of wind drifting by, only the sound of his own feet crunching through pebbles.

Hannibal walked with no destination in mind. There didn’t seem to be an end point to this place. The same flat landscape existed as far as he could see. His eyes tracked over the various doors with a vague sort of interest, hoping perhaps that one of them would be familiar to him.

For once he didn’t have a set plan. In fact, this new setting gave him a sense of freedom, as if he didn’t have to keep up his people suit. His only goal was to find Will, wherever he was.

There was a thought then, that perhaps Will had survived the fall. His dear boy had always been rather hardy, surviving encounter after encounter with deadly killers. Despite that, Hannibal knew in the space within his mind he reserved for Will, that they could not exist in a world without each other. If Will was alive now, he wouldn’t be for long, once he realized Hannibal had left him for the afterlife.

Still, it would make his stay here much easier if Will was already dead. Hannibal was a patient man, but after tasting what he’d wanted for so long, seeing Will covered in blood and eyes aflame with hunger, he needed the man like never before. There was an uncertainty to Will’s current status, but nevertheless, Hannibal would search for him in this barren landscape. He had nothing else to do after all, and an eternity without Will was unthinkable.

There was a sudden chill up his spine but Hannibal didn’t falter in his steps, showing no indication that he’d noticed. He was being watched. He allowed the barest hint of a smirk to cross his face, eager to meet his stalker.

He didn’t have to wait long, as suddenly two figures appeared before him, stopping him in his tracks with pointed spears. It was a clear warning, and Hannibal stopped rather placidly, raising an eyebrow as he placed his hands casually behind his back. It was a man and a woman, both with dark hair and dark eyes, their features similar enough that they could be mistaken for siblings. They looked human to him, and Hannibal noted with some curiosity that their clothing wasn’t in any particular style he’d seen before. It was a fascinating blend of cloth and metal, a robe that seemed to have a protective, metallic shift to it. Hannibal chanced a glance at the tip of the spear, noting the dark material and how it looked more stone than metal.

“Human, it is time you returned to your cell.” The woman spoke, a calm to it that belied the steel underneath. It was an order, not a request.

“Not even a greeting?” Hannibal hummed, tilting his head and smiling with false humor. “That is rather rude of you.”

The man pushed the tip of his spear closer, until it pressed against Hannibal’s suit. Hannibal’s lips thinned into a menacing line, staring down at the way the tip cut into his suit and ruined the stitching. Hannibal slowly looked back up, eyes flaring with barely restrained anger, the curl of his lips close to snarl.

“You don’t belong out here,” The man argued, stepping closer but keeping the spear at the same length in between them. “In fact, you shouldn’t have even been able to escape.”

“Hm,” Hannibal hummed, amused. “I had a rather unpleasant time there. Is there a manager I can speak to?”

The woman shared a bewildered look with her companion, frowning as she turned back to meet his eyes. “It’s meant to be unpleasant. This is Hell, not a vacation spot.”

Hannibal felt everything fall into place then, now with solid confirmation that this place was indeed what he thought it was. “Fascinating, Dante was imaginative, yet he could never fathom the true beauty of Hell.”

“Listen,” The man started saying, voice more gruff now as he let his spear drop to hang casually at his side, obviously deeming Hannibal a non-threat. He grabbed Hannibal by his collar with his free hand, ignoring the way his companion tried to stop him from getting closer to Hannibal. “We’re not here to play mind games with you. That’s what the rooms are for. Now, you either step back into yours, or we flay your soul open and take pieces of you as souvenirs.”

Hannibal grinned, every particle of his body singing in joy at the purity of this place, the way it suited his habits just fine. “I understand the appeal of souvenirs, though I hope you won’t mind me taking one from you.”

Before the man could register Hannibal’s words, he leaned forward lightning fast and ripped out the man’s throat with his teeth. He tried to raise his arm and use his spear, but Hannibal grabbed it and twisted his wrist until he let out of a gurgle of pain and fell to his knees. His weakened grip allowed Hannibal to relinquish him of his spear, and Hannibal hefted it in his hand, enjoying the weight of this new weapon.

The man’s flesh was still in his mouth, and he felt saliva pooling at the back of his throat in anticipation of this delightful treat. He stared the woman straight in the eyes as he tipped his head back, just enough to slide the piece of meat into his mouth. He chewed slowly, savoring every flavor before swallowing.

He licked his lips, relishing her horrified look as she stood frozen. “A different taste than what I’m used to, but no less delectable. Spicy, with a tinge of cold sweetness. I hope you will taste just as good.”

She seemed to break out of her daze then, and with a cry of grief, she lunged towards him. He danced out of her reach, their spears colliding as he deflected her attack. It was a hard but short battle, her actions fueled by rage and no match for the cold calculated moves Hannibal threw forth. When she gave him an opening, he took advantage of it and slid the spear effortlessly across her throat, bathing in the arterial spray of her blood.

It wasn’t as red as he’d expected. Instead, their blood was black. He was curious as to what manner of creature they were, but it was likely they were the demons that guarded this place. Hannibal stepped forward, taking the weight of her body as she collapsed, her life leaving her.

Once he laid her next to her companion, he stared down at them, contemplating his next move. He still felt hunger, but it wasn’t one for food. No, he felt a hunger for Will, to be in his presence and recuperate in the bone arena of his mind. However, if there was any sin he was guilty of, it would certainly be gluttony.

A lack of hunger didn’t mean he couldn’t whet his appetite before meeting Will.

Decision made, he hummed happily as he snapped the spear in half, taking the now shorter sharp upper half and digging it into the man’s body. In this new reality, he didn’t need to worry about cooking his food. Though of course, the cooking was a part of the presentation, and allowed him to adjust each ingredient to his taste. There was no one to perform for now, and he relished in the savagery of reaching into the demon’s body and ripping out parts of him to feast on.

Crouched over their bloodied forms, Hannibal wondered if this was how vultures subsisted on food. If they also dug into bodies without care or regard, only focusing on their next meal. He licked his bloodied teeth, hands now black with blood.

It reminded him of a dark night, the way the Dragon’s blood had looked black in the moonlight. The way Will had looked, beautiful in his acceptance of his new self. Now, he was alone.

Hannibal sighed, using the spear to cut off a piece of the woman’s leg to nibble on. Their clothing proved to be rather difficult to remove and puncture, but Hannibal was nothing if not stubbornly determined.

“Do you suppose Will is somewhere here?” Hannibal asked the dead bodies, not expecting an answer. He sighed again, standing up and taking note of the streaks of blood on his suit, now covered in dirt. “Perhaps I was too hasty. I do hope the next demons I encounter will be more open to conversation.”

With one last fond glance at his first meal in Hell, he continued his journey forward, steps light with humor. He had feared he was the only one in this place, but if there were others like those two, he would have plenty to keep him entertained until he found Will.

Page break

Will very rarely had the opportunity to dream. More often than not, he had nightmares, visions of death and gore that followed him from his waking days and back. A never-ending cycle of morbidity.

So it came as a surprise to him when he opened his eyes and found himself in a familiar setting. The fireplace was set, flickering brightly past Hannibal’s desk. They were in Hannibal’s study, where he met his patients. Will was sitting in his usual sofa chair, and sat across from him, prim and regal, was the man himself. He was staring at Will curiously, and Will tilted his head forward in greeting, happy with this turn of events. Sometimes dreams with Hannibal quickly turned into nightmares, but regardless, he always cherished the time they had together in this space.

They both stared at each other for a long moment, gaze warm and affectionate in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before the fall.

“I can’t escape you even in my dreams,” Will broke the silence with a low murmur, taking note of the way Hannibal smiled, as if the very thought of Will inescapably tied to him filled him with pleasure.

“Nor can I, William,” Hannibal answered, leaning back and crossing his legs carefully. “I trust that you are well?”

Will shrugged then, leaning back and mirroring Hannibal’s position, a habit borne of empathy. “As well as I can be. I took your advice and I’ve been seeking the empty spaces in this place. Molly stopped me when I tried to go in, but I’ll try again tomorrow.”

As he spoke, Hannibal seemed to perk up, his eyes sharpening with delight as he leaned forward and licked his lips. It unnerved Will, how much more…real his dream-Hannibal seemed to be, compared to his hallucinations. In his hallucinations Hannibal always seemed to treat him more gently, yet here in his dreams, this Hannibal had a distinctly dangerous air to him.

“What did I tell you, Will?” Hannibal urged, a smile on his lips.

Will frowned, confused by the question. “Why do you ask? You’re the one that told me. Shouldn’t you know?”

“Humor me.”

It took a few more seconds of careful contemplation before Will answered. “You told me that to escape this place, this…Hell, I had to find the cracks that can’t be patched, and the spaces left purposefully empty.”

“Brilliant,” Hannibal breathed out, his eyes dark with a fervor that worried Will. “Even Hell cannot dull a mind as beautiful as yours.”

Will flushed, staring down at his lap and twining his fingers together before tapping them restlessly on his thighs. “Yeah well, you may be a concoction of my own mind, but despite everything, the voice inside my head belongs to you. An aching familiarity, one I can never escape from.”

“Every part of you belongs to me. It is only a matter of time before I find you, dear boy, and when I do, escape will be the last thing on your mind.” Hannibal practically purred out the words, his gaze heated as he uncrossed his legs and stood, walking forward with a predatory prowl in his steps.

Will’s eyes widened, and his heart skipped a beat before thundering forward in a frantic rhythm. He stood slowly, his tongue flicking out to lick his suddenly dry lips as he stepped towards Hannibal. It couldn’t be. It was too good to be true, but this…

“Hannibal?” Will’s voice was small, and he reached a hand out, desperate to feel Hannibal against him for real. He didn’t care that this was still a dream, or that he would wake up in Hell again. He didn’t even understand how Hannibal had made it into his dreams, but he knew without a lick of doubt that this was the real Hannibal. Perhaps their bond in life had led them here, their relationship marinated in pain and nourished with sacrifice.

“Will-“ Hannibal licked his lips and stretched his hand out, just as eager to feel Will against his body again. Before they could make contact however, the space between them wavered. Will pressed forward desperately, but there seemed to be an invisible barrier, one that he couldn’t cross.

“Hannibal!” Will cried out, hands slamming against the air in front of him futilely. Hannibal for his part stood with an eerie sense of calm, one hand resting against the barrier. The only sign of his ire was the snarl on his lips, eyes flinty with hellfire and retribution.

Finally, Will exhausted all his energy, and he pressed his forehead against the barrier, barely registering the fact that Hannibal ghosted his hand against the space there, as if he wanted to run his fingers through Will’s curls and comfort him. It was that out-of-place gesture of intimacy that drew Will out of the pit of despair he’d fallen into.

“Will,” Hannibal was startlingly serious, mouth pressed into a grim line as he stared hard into Will’s eyes, dragging his gaze over Will’s body as if checking him for any changes Hell may have wrought on him. “Where are you?”

“I’m…” Will sighed, stepping back and running his hand down his face with a frustrated groan. He let his hand fall back by his side, a helpless look on his face as he bit at his bottom lip in a nervous gesture. “It is the place where I lived with Molly and Walter.”

“Ah,” Hannibal’s eyes sharpened with something almost smug, a glint to it. “I see your version of Hell includes your little family.”

“Yes,” Will allowed the transgression, aware that Hannibal felt particularly happy about the fact that Will’s Hell consisted of the family he’d made without Hannibal. “But it isn’t too bad. Not as bad as I anticipated it to be, at least. It’s just…the same thing over and over again, every day. I don’t mind the monotony, I find repetitive motions soothing, but this place doesn’t have…”

Will trailed off, looking to the side of the room, staring hard at the floorboards. Hannibal picked up on his hesitance and pressed gently forward, a hand against the barrier like he wanted to touch Will, coax him with guiding words and a firm press of hands to shoulder like he used to do.

“It doesn’t have what, Will?” Hannibal’s voice was soft, a little rough as he waited with bated breath for Will’s answer.

Will darted his eyes up for a moment, the resignation in them warming Hannibal to his core. If he could purr, he would be showing his satisfaction in a multitude of ways, but as it was, it was all he could do to hold in his smirk.

“It doesn’t have you in it,” Will gritted out, narrowing his eyes at Hannibal. He saw past the placid mask Hannibal wore, and he knew that every word he said only fed Hannibal’s obsession. Sure enough, Hannibal’s lips tilted just the smallest amount to the side, eyes shining with a dark possessiveness as he digested Will’s words. Will let out a huff of laughter at that, stepping back and crossing his arms against his chest, fingers digging into his elbows. “Aren’t we a pair of fools, Doctor Lecter? Me, struggling to place myself back in your grasp, and you, yearning for the company of the one that killed you.”

Hannibal hummed a small sound of assent in the back of his throat, dropping his mask and letting his pleasure show on his face. “We seem to remember the order of events differently. You didn’t kill me, Will. I willingly went with you, because where you go, I will follow.”

“I killed us both, and look where it got us. Stuck in this place with little to no hope of getting out,” Will bit out, hating the fact that he felt guilt for his actions. To him, his decision had been one borne of what little good he had left in him. He knew that if he did not take them over that cliff, the world would be burdened with the whimsy of two killers, and they would never be caught. Will knew beyond a shadow of doubt, that if they had survived the fall, he would have murdered anyone who tried to separate them. The world would have burned on the pyre of their devotion and destructive love. There was no other option, except to take a leap of faith.

“That’s where you would be wrong, Will,” Hannibal smiled, a glint of sharp teeth as he showed a glimpse of the predator inside. “I’ve already escaped my Hell.”

Will blinked at him in disbelief, before laughing, a hand running through his hair. “Of course you did,” Will smiled at Hannibal, his expression fading into a more thoughtful look as he pressed a hand to his mouth. His eyes narrowed as he studied Hannibal, a shaky breath of laughter ghosting onto his palms. “You enjoyed your Hell.”

Hannibal nodded, no longer surprised at how easily Will could see the deepest, darkest parts of him. “It was rather enlightening. It allowed me to experience you in a way that would have had fatal consequences, but in my Hell, every scenario eventually reset so there were no real repercussions to my actions.”

“I’m sure that was plenty fun for you,” Will muttered, taking in the comfortable way Hannibal was standing, as if the Hell he’d experienced had been child’s play. He had an inkling as to what Hannibal’s Hell would have been like, but he didn’t know if he dared to ask. “My Hell has been one of banal normality.”

“An interesting choice, certainly,” Hannibal nodded, contemplative as he tilted his head and studied Will. “This place seems to know our fears, and it forces us to live through a multitude of these nightmare scenarios. The fear keeps us placid, the horror of our actions numbing us and keeping us blind to the truth of this place.”

“Then how did you break out of yours?” Will asked, more than a little curious. He can’t say he’s surprised Hannibal managed to find a way out. The man was nothing if not resourceful.

“I believe that fear is an emotion I’ve long since grown out of,” Hannibal answered, more than happy to divulge his theories to Will. “Perhaps this place simply ran out of content to torture me with, and when the scenarios started looping, I figured it out fairly quickly.”

Will blinked at Hannibal, something about his descriptions piqued Will’s interest. His Hell seemed to be very different from Will’s. Hannibal’s jumped around in different scenes, living them out until the end. Will, on the other hand, had lived this one nightmare continuously, with little to no change. He couldn’t understand the purpose of his Hell, except to perhaps bore him into submission.

“So tell me, Will, are there any other descriptors for your Hell? Any information will aid in my search for you.”

Will frowned, shrugging as he took another step back. “Why would I want you to find me?” Will’s face pulled into an ugly grin, one closer to a sneer than a smile. He knew he was being defensive but he couldn’t help it. He ached for Hannibal, but he wasn’t ready to go back into the arms of the devil. Earlier he had impulsively tried to move towards Hannibal, desperate with longing, but their conversation had reminded him exactly why Hannibal was dangerous. Hannibal was too much of a wild card, and if they had eternity ahead of them, there was no telling what Hannibal would want to do. It was unlikely he would ever let Will go, not without pain and sacrifice, at least. “You wish for me to placidly return to the hand that fed me, bled me. Tell me, Doctor Lecter, if we have eternity ahead of us, what will be your canvas of choice this time? My lungs? My heart?”

Will paused, taking in the way Hannibal was standing loosely, though he could read the roiling anger underneath. “Or will it be my mind this time?” Will whispered, his hand coming up to touch where the scar would have been on his forehead, if this place hadn’t changed his appearance to match his current timeline. It was like that incident had never happened, but he knew better. He remembered the bite of the blade, the resignation and betrayal. “Will you finally consume me?”

Hannibal stepped closer, and Will resisted the urge to move further away, confident the barrier between them would keep the beast back.

Hannibal stared at Will, and for once Will couldn’t tell what he was thinking. He pressed his lips together, a shiver running down his spine at the barely restrained hunger in Hannibal’s gaze.

When Hannibal finally spoke, it was a quiet sound, almost gentle. “Do you know what I want, Will?”

Will scoffed, looking away and wishing he had his glasses on him right now. “Who the hell knows what you really want Hannibal? I sure don’t.”

“Don’t you?” Hannibal countered, raising a hand to rest against the barrier, fingers tracing the wavering air with idle curiosity. “My motives are the same now as they were when we first met. I wish for you to become your true self, to let go, and for you to allow me to witness your metamorphosis.”

“Becoming implies choice. I never had a choice in any of this,” Will bared his teeth in a snarl, anger rearing its ugly head, delayed feelings to the injustices he’d faced and the manipulations he’d barely survived.

“Maybe you believe that now, but a part of you knew the choices you made would lead you down this path. I may have stoked the flames, but you were the one to strike the match. The moment we met, your becoming was inevitable.”

Will felt his heart thudding in his chest, his breathing a little heavier as he refused to face the truth in Hannibal’s words. “Don’t make yourself sound like some selfless martyr. You wanted me to become just like you, because then you’d have someone to see you. You know, most people would get a dog or something if they were lonely. You just had to be a fucking psycho about it.”

Hannibal inclined his head in agreement, though a soft smile played on his lips despite Will’s harsh words. “I admit, I did see the potential in you as a companion. But you weren’t ready, and it was only by becoming that you would see the world as I saw it.”

“And how do you see the world, Hannibal?”

“I see it as a breeding ground for human sins, a cesspit of the rude and unworthy,” Hannibal’s eyes focused on Will then, and the sharp intensity in them stole his breath away. “But you, my beloved, were a rarity among the useless hordes of humanity. I saw value in your mind, and I saw an opportunity for friendship in the buried depths of your darkness.”

“Friends don’t do this to each other, Hannibal,” Will’s voice was hoarse, his eyes wet and he couldn’t figure out if it was because of Hannibal’s confession, or because of his own reaction to it. “Our relationship is destructive.”

Hannibal was quiet for a long moment, before he broke eye contact and turned his gaze to the fireplace, the light flickering across the planes of his face. It struck Will then, how disarmingly beautiful Hannibal was, as if he was a statue brought to life. If someone presented an image of Hannibal shaped from marble and claimed it was the Devil’s visage, he would have believed them.

“I can’t live without you, and you can’t live without me,” Hannibal finally replied, eyes distant, and Will was unsettled to find a trace of remorse in his voice. Perhaps he too was aware that this brand of love would only lead to a bloody end, and certainly not a happy one. “I know you, and you know me in ways that we can’t change or rewind.”

Hannibal looked up then, something almost beseeching in the taut look on his face. “But now, we are no longer restrained by the limits of the mortal plane. We are not living, but nor are we dead, so don’t you think this is our second chance Will? An opportunity to be who we are without hesitation. No room for morality in the teeming depths of Hell.”

“Our actions had real consequences, Hannibal,” Will replied, after a long moment of quiet, his shoulders slumped and voice strained with exhaustion. “We can’t just dismiss who we were in life, because it led us to this moment here, both of us separated by the rules of Hell. There is no salvation here, only death and atonement.”

Hannibal snarled then, a sharp sound that made Will flinch back, overwhelmed by the strong look of conviction on Hannibal’s face. “If you think I would allow something as simple as Hell to keep us apart, then you have underestimated my hunger for you, Will.”

Will flushed, feeling off kilter by the sudden heated look Hannibal was sending him, and too stunned to reply.

“Hannibal-“

“Will!”

Will jolted awake, hands shaking and sweat pouring off of his body as he turned to see Molly staring down at him, propped up on an elbow and hovering over him in concern. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I-“ Will ran a trembling hand through his wet curls, licking his lips as he tried to voice his scrambled thoughts. “What happened?”

“You were shaking and flushed in your sleep and it looked like you were having a nightmare…” Molly looked apologetic, a sheepish smile on her face. “Did I wake you up for no reason?”

Will was shaking his head before he registered her question, reassuring her. “No, it’s fine. It…it wasn’t important anyways.”

Molly still looked a little guilty but he pulled her close, hoping it would appease her. When she sighed and melted into his hold, he sighed, pressing close and taking comfort from her touch for the first time since he’d found himself in this Hell. It wasn’t Hannibal, but he felt like he didn’t fit in his own skin right now, his heart still racing and emotions running high.

He knew he wouldn’t sleep that night, not after the dream he’d had. Still, he wondered if this was a one time thing, or if he would see Hannibal the next time he slept. Molly had saved him from answering Hannibal’s passionate words, and he was relieved he didn’t have to respond. Will understood that Hannibal was obsessed with him, and he knew he was just as focused on Hannibal, but sometimes, he forgot how tight a hold Hannibal had on his feelings for Will. The man was usually so restrained and controlled, that it was a shock to see him drop all pretenses. It was only when he caught glimpses of the monster underneath, that Will truly felt the yawning depths of Hannibal’s hunger for him, a yearning and desperation that wouldn’t be satisfied even if it ate Will whole.

No, Hannibal wanted everything from Will. His mind, and his heart.

He remembered words then, ones he’d asked Bedelia, when he’d had a moment of epiphany.

Is Hannibal…in love with me?

Chapter Text

Hannibal moved through the rocky terrain, his steps a little more forceful than usual. He’d taken the suit jacket off, draping it over an arm. The top few buttons of his white button up shirt were left open, and there were still traces of black blood smeared on the clothes. It wasn’t hot, despite how much the place resembled a desert. Still, it was a force of habit, and Hannibal was always one to indulge his impulses. 

It amused him, how human his actions were in a place so out of the realm of human understanding. Even now, he habitually tried to keep up his person suit. 

Perhaps it was this place, or maybe it was the fact that he had met Will again, but he felt that slowly but surely, he was losing the ability to keep up appearances. It was freeing, being here. He could truly be himself. 

Hannibal couldn’t help the way his lips pressed together, fingers tightening on his jacket as he remembered his dream with Will. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, after all, he wasn’t exactly alive anymore so why would he need to sleep? However, after what he assumed was several hours of walking, he had started growing tired, but in a way that was bone deep and weighed him down. He’d sat down for a moment, grimacing at the red dirt that stuck to his suit pants, and had leaned against a door. 

He’d closed his eyes, and when he’d opened them he had found himself in his study. At first he had assumed it was another one of his Hell loops, that perhaps this place had captured him once again. When he’d realized the Will across from him was the real Will, it took every ounce of self control he had in him not to take him right then and there. To lay claim to his soul, to finally consummate their relationship in the basest way possible. 

But Will had seemed distressed, or at least a little hopeless, and Will’s vulnerability had always called to him like a lighthouse to a drifting boat. It had helped sate his hunger, sharpening it to better taste Will at a later time. Like aged wine, he would let his hunger sit, allowing himself sips of Will’s presence, until he could finally lay hands on him again. 

His current irritation mainly came from the fact that his reunion with Will had been interrupted. He’d jerked out of the sleep he’d fallen into, eyes blinking heavily, a snarl still on his face as he reached a hand up for Will. 

But Will was no longer there, the only thing in front of him was an expanse of red dirt, littered with upright doors and the fading impression of Will’s intoxicating scent. He’d pressed his hand to his mouth, as if he could breathe in the last bits of Will that he’d managed to gather, pressed against the barrier and yearning for more. 

Though Will had resisted his attempts to garner more information on his whereabouts, it was somewhat helpful that Will had specified it was the house he had shared with Molly. Hannibal himself had never seen the house, but he knew that each door had a vague impression of the person, and that he would never miss the door to Will’s Hell. He would recognize it, just as he would be able to sense Will from miles away, like a shark scenting blood in the water. 

It intrigued him that Will’s Hell consisted of the life he’d had with Molly, after Hannibal had turned himself in to the FBI. It made him feel viciously smug, comforted by the knowledge that Will’s very soul found life without Hannibal a living hell. Even then, a part of Hannibal felt a rearing sense of possessiveness, knowing that Will was spending his days with Molly. Hannibal would have been just as satisfied if Will’s Hell had included him in it, because then, at least a version of him would be with Will, to remind the man of who he truly belonged to. 

Hannibal quirked his mouth to one side, amused by his own thoughts as he wondered if he could accept Will interacting with a false version of him. Despite the fact that it was a shadow of Hannibal, it still made him feel angry, a part of him growling and pacing in violent circles at the thought of Will spending time with anyone that wasn’t him. A Hell version of Hannibal wouldn’t be able to see Will, no one was worthy of being in Will’s presence, to drink from the nectar of Will’s mind, except for him. 

Anyone who tried to get close to what was his would face nothing but pain and despair, Hannibal would make sure of that. He had certainly succeeded in his goal to keep Will solely for himself in life, there was no reason to stop his possessive streak now that they were in Hell together. 

His teeth itched with the urge to bury themselves into Will’s neck, he wanted to open Will’s skull and pull pieces of his brain out with greedy fingers. He wanted to feast, and he wanted to taste Will until there was nothing left. But if he did, there would be no more Will, and that was unimaginable. 

Hannibal was broken out of his thoughts when he seemed to reach a road of sorts. He stared at the slightly different colored ground, tilting his head as he followed it with his eyes towards the distant horizon. There was no sign, but seeing as this place seemed endless, following this road was better than wandering aimlessly.

He stepped onto the brown dirt, humming a few strains of his favorite Beethoven piece as he continued onwards. It was a pity this place didn’t have a phonograph, he did miss the smaller comforts of life, and he wished for some records to pass the time. 

Ahead, standing in the middle of the road, was a man. Hannibal let a pleasant smile cross his face, steps a little more eager as he moved forward. If this man could help him, that would be excellent, but if not, then Hannibal would have another snack at the expense of the man’s life.

“Hello,” Hannibal greeted, as he came to a stop in front of the man, taking in the same chainmail cloth armor the previous two he’d met had worn. “It is a delight to make your acquaintance. My name is Hannibal Lecter and I’m looking for a friend. His name is Will Graham, and he has a tendency to wander off without me.” 

The man remained silent, his flinty blue eyes boring into Hannibal’s with an almost bored expression. He was standing upright like a soldier, his spear resting in his grip so that it touched the ground and the pointed tip was pointed straight up. He had a messy mop of curly hair that reminded Hannibal of Will, and just the thought of the man made him hunger. 

“There are no friends in Hell. Leave, or I will make you.” 

Hannibal was surprised the man spoke, he seemed to be the strong silent type, but if the demon deigned to humor him then he wasn’t one to miss a good conversation. 

“You do not wish to detain me?” Hannibal asked curiously, rocking back on the heels of his feet, posture loose and deceptively harmless. “I have to admit, the other two were more exciting than you were.” 

“The other two?” Suddenly the demon’s eyes flared with something akin to anger. He pointed the spear at Hannibal’s chest, ripping up the white button down. Hannibal sighed, lifting a hand up to grasp the wooden part of the spear, wondering why everyone in Hell seemed intent on shredding his clothes. “What did you do?” 

“I did not do anything, I merely defended myself,” Hannibal sniffed, though he didn’t hide the feral grin as he dropped his false genial expression. He licked his lips, a mockery and a taunt. “However, they did taste so delicious. I wonder, will you taste the same?” 

“What-“ The demon’s outraged words were cut off when he thrust his spear forward. Hannibal had anticipated this and quickly moved to the side. He tugged the spear towards him with one hand and lifted his palm in a sharp jabbing motion, knocking it against the underside of the man’s chin. He choked, biting his tongue and his head flying backwards at the impact. Not giving him even a second to recover, Hannibal took advantage of his weakened grip on the spear to pull it completely out of his hands. 

The demon was glaring at him, hands pressed against his mouth as blood gushed out in between his fingers. 

“Ah,” Hannibal sighed, letting out an almost disappointed ‘tsk’ sound as he spun the spear in his hand, hefting the weight in a palm until it felt comfortable for him to wield. “I do apologize, I hadn’t meant to mute you. I did enjoy our conversation just now, and as you can see I am searching for someone. If you would be so kind as to spell out the answer for me on the ground, perhaps with your blood, I will be out of your hair.”

The demon let out a roar of anger, words melding together to make a garble of shouts that sounded vaguely like “You fucking psycho!” before Hannibal was rudely tackled. The demon gasped at the impact, and looked down at his chest in disbelief. In his impulsiveness, he had disregarded the spear Hannibal had in his hands, and now, it was lodged deep in his chest. It had punctured straight through his heart, if he had one. Hannibal had made sure of that with the precision of an experienced surgeon. 

The demon dropped to his knees with a groan, hands grasping at the spear in a futile effort to staunch the bleeding. Hannibal ignored his useless scrambling, weaving a hand through those curls and tugging his head back in a sharp motion that had the demon crying out. 

“I asked you a question and I would like an answer now. Where is Will Graham?” 

Hannibal didn’t move a muscle when the man spat a glob of blood at him, the disgusting substance landing on his cheek. Slowly, he raised his free hand and wiped it away with the once white sleeve of his button up. 

“Now,” Hannibal’s voice was deadly quiet as he tightened his grip on the man’s hair until he let out a yelp of pain. “That was rather rude, wouldn’t you agree? And do you know what we do with the rude?” 

Without waiting for an answer, Hannibal tilted the demon’s head back until his tendons stood taut and lunged for his throat, ripping it out in one solid chunk. He chewed on it, pressing the man down onto his back with his knees, staring dispassionately down at him as he choked on his own blood. He swallowed, letting out a satisfied sigh at the shocked look on the now dead demon’s face. 

“We eat them.” 

He grinned with bloodied teeth, the taste of rust on his tongue as he felt some of the blood drip down his chin. He leaned in, and ripped out another piece of meat, feeling himself grow more energized with every bite. It was feral and a far cry from his usual restrained and poised way of dining, but here there was no one to perform for. 

“Through life, we grow the weapons necessary to eat as we please, and through death, we sustain ourselves on the life of those we sacrifice,” Hannibal murmured, patting the man’s face almost affectionately as he stood up after he’d eaten his fill. He carefully pressed the sleeve of his button up to his face, a rather dainty motion as he did his best to mop up the blood. 

Once he’d gathered himself together again, he could feel that the mask he always wore had grown another crack. The longer he stayed here, the harder it was to pretend to be someone else, something human

He smiled, shooting one last glance over his shoulder at the eviscerated body of the demon. He felt free, and that was truly a rare gift in the timeline of his life. It would be all the more improved if he had Will to share his experiences with. 

At the thought of Will, Hannibal’s smile softened into one of longing. If he couldn’t find Will on his own, he would have to make sure the next demon he’ll meet he keeps alive long enough to torture some answers out of them. He missed Will, and it was not a sensation he liked. 

It seemed the journey ahead would be long and arduous indeed. With one last sigh, he moved onwards, dropping his suit jacket on the ground carelessly as he did. No point keeping up appearances when he was covered in blood. He felt a thrill of excitement at that thought. It felt sinful, walking in plain sight, painted with the blood of his prey. 

It was good, then, that he was in exactly the right sort of place for that. 

Page break

Will was standing in the river near the house, submerged up to his thighs as he cast the fishing line out. At the very least he still had his river. It was a large part of the reason he’d chosen his Wolf Trap house. There was a niggling in his gut then, something unsettled that he didn’t think too deeply about. This was Hell, he was used to things being just different enough to throw him off but familiar enough to keep him calm. He exhaled slowly, letting the peace of the moment sink into his skin just as the cold pierced through his flesh. He ignored the sensation, fairly certain that he couldn’t get sick in this weird Hell realm. Though to be fair, if this was Hell, getting sick was probably something that was still possible. Just to torture him more. 

Will tried to clear his mind, focusing on the shifting light reflecting off the clear river water and the way the wind rustled through the trees. It smelled cold; if there was a way to describe it, Will would say it was like the way silk felt on the skin, the slight trembling bite of teeth on ice. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was familiar, and Will was slowly finding that familiarity didn’t denote comfort. 

He was familiar with Molly, he was familiar with the house they lived in together, and the family they’d made. He was familiar with Wolf Trap. It was normal, it was predictable. 

The storm behind his eyes screamed at the placid lifestyle he’d fallen into, it called out for someone to set him free, and he knew exactly who he was longing for. He clenched his jaw, his hands trembled on the fishing rod as he remembered Hannibal’s dark eyes, the way he’d hungered. Will had not forgotten the way Hannibal watched him, coveted him. No, a large part of his issues in life had been Hannibal’s obsession with him. But this place had a tendency to dull memories, and he had not been prepared for the fiery regard Hannibal still had for him, muted as it was in that brief space between waking and dreaming. 

He licked his lips, and wondered how Hannibal’s mouth would have felt against his. What would his skin taste like? Would it be warm? Or would it be cold? Cold like the way Hannibal regarded humans as his inferior, and cold like the bite of steel in Will’s abdomen as he’d gasped and grasped. 

When he licked into Hannibal’s mouth, and traced the tips of Hannibal’s teeth with his tongue, would he be able to feel the still beating lifeblood of those Hannibal had consumed? He shuddered, and Will hated that it wasn’t from the cold. His face flushed, and he closed his eyes, imagining how the encounter could have gone differently if there hadn’t been a barrier between them. He hated that invisible barrier, so much like the time when Hannibal had been under Alana’s care, and they’d been separated by a wall of glass. 

Even now, Will could feel traces of Hannibal around him, as if the very sight of Hannibal had changed Will irredeemably and he was tainted with the scent of the man. It was like the molecules in the air had adjusted, evolved into something darker, in a way that resounded with the beast laying dormant in his breast. 

Will wondered yet again what he was fighting against. In life, there had been rules, morals built through centuries of philosophy. Here in Hell, he was only held accountable to himself. He hesitated, eyes opening halfway, staring absentmindedly into the distance as he heard the heavy breaths of the Ravenstag, and felt its feathered fur against his back. 

Hannibal had always been his anchor, but he had also been the one to drown him. Much like the ocean, he was ruthless in the way he pushed and pulled at Will, shaping him into what he found beautiful. A stone polished by steadily flowing water, precious to Hannibal because it had assumed the shape he wanted. It should have angered him, knowing the man had clawed so deep into his skin, into his mind, but it only made him ache for more. 

With Hannibal, he knew himself more than he’d ever known himself. It was as if the man sharpened his mind and senses. His presence prickled against Will’s lizard brain, forcing him to pay attention, to watch and see that this was what a true predator was like. 

Will knew without a doubt now that Hannibal loved him, or was as close to loving him as a monster could get. They had both hurt each other, almost to the point of no return, yet time and time again fate and circumstance brought them back together. Even in death, Will couldn’t escape him. 

So what then, was holding him back? 

He paused, feeling a tugging on the fishing line. He quickly reeled it in, leaning back and using his weight as a counterpoint to drag the struggling fish out of the water. It felt like minutes but was probably only a few seconds before he caught the fish. He grinned, holding onto its squirming body as he waded through the water and dropped it into the bucked he’d prepared for this. 

He’d only caught one so far, not having been out for long, so he decided to try and catch one more for dinner. Will sighed, wishing that Hannibal was here to prepare it for them. He would probably appreciate Will bringing the meat this time, even if it wasn’t his meat of choice. 

Will cast his line out again, falling into a contemplative silence as he pressed his lips together. The thought of meat brought to mind the fact that Hannibal wasn’t just a serial killer, he was also a cannibal. It was something that should disgust Will. It probably should be somewhat of a deal breaker in terms of any sort of relationship with the man. 

But the more Will thought about it, the more he realized that he simply didn’t care. He remembered a conversation they’d had before, a tentative proposal to ignore the bad in order to enjoy the good in each other. He’d certainly taken it to heart. Hannibal had done so many things, all of them too twisted to even voice, and cannibalism was such a small part of it that it didn’t even register to Will as a negative trait. It was just something that was uniquely Hannibal. To Will, the way Hannibal treated his victims was gruesome, but it made sense in a weird sort of way. Hannibal was already so other-worldly, eating those he deemed inferior only added to that appeal. 

Will huffed out a disbelieving laugh. It was slowly dawning on him that all of Hannibal’s quirks, whether they be murderous or simply prudish, were something that Will liked.

No, he loved them. 

He loved the way Hannibal would pout a little when Will spoke to him particularly harshly. He loved the way he cooked with all the precision of a surgeon, the way he killed like one as well. He loved the way Hannibal made him feel grounded and content, like he was enough

That Will Graham, dark murderous tendencies and all, was enough. 

Not just enough, but desired. Hannibal wanted him just as he was, his true self without those pesky human limitations. It was true they’d tried to change each other, sometimes in lethal ways, but at its core Hannibal only wanted to unveil the darkness Will already possessed. To nourish it and bask in it. It was intoxicating, knowing that a man who held himself in such high regard also elevated Will to that same pedestal. They were equals, more now than they had ever been before. 

And more than anything, he wanted to see what being equal meant. He wanted to finally let himself feel all those fucked up feelings he had for Hannibal. He wanted to set them free and let them consume him knowing that Hannibal felt the same, if not more. 

Love wasn’t an emotion he could truly attribute to what he felt for Hannibal. It was something deeper, a stirring in his soul that had lived its life yelling out, screaming for someone and only hearing its own voice echo back. When he met Hannibal, when he finally saw him, that was when the screaming had ceased. It was as if his very being knew that the man across from him was just as lonely. That perhaps they had lived their lives, screaming and crying out, hungering for the other half of them, wondering if there was anyone out there who could see the monster they were and not run the other way. 

Will could see now, and he hungered

As if on cue, the fishing line pulled taut, and Will was snapped out of his thoughts. He pulled at it, and grinned when it was another large trout. They would have a feast tonight. Hannibal would love it. 

His grin dimmed, fingers growing cold when he realized it wasn’t Hannibal he was going home to. 

With a heavy heart, he placed the fish in the bucket. He looked back at the river and turned, sighing. He wasn’t in the mood for fishing anymore. It would be better for him to go back early and think of another way out of here. 

He wasn’t sure how long he could last without Hannibal. He could only hope he would see him in his dreams tonight. 

Page break

Hannibal wasn’t one for giving up, but after several more hours of nothing, he realized following the dirt road was perhaps not the right method for leaving this place. He stood still, head cocked to the side as he considered his options. He could open up some of these doors, and see where they led, but it was likely that they were merely one way entryways to the depths of a person’s Hell, and would not give him the answers he sought. 

Hannibal glanced around, eyes dancing over the varying doors, stretching his senses for something that could help-

It wasn’t often that Hannibal felt surprise, but his fingers twitched minutely when he saw a door he recognized. It was one that he knew distinctly, after all, it had been the start of Will’s descent into darkness. 

The Hobbs household door stood a few feet to his right, and Hannibal stalked over to it, walking around it in a circle with a critical eye. Very curious indeed. If he opened it, would he see Garrett Jacob Hobbs reliving his death over and over again? Or perhaps his Hell was an eternal loop of the moment he slit his daughter’s throat. Regardless, it would certainly be interesting to see. 

He paused just long enough to ponder on the dangers of entering someone’s Hell before curiosity won. Hannibal opened the door and slipped inside. At first, it was too dark to see what was happening, but when his eyes adjusted, he realized he was in Hobbs’ cabin. 

“Use a steady hand, Abigail. We need to make sure not a single part is wasted.” 

Hannibal turned around, watching with avid interest at the sight of Hobbs standing behind Abigail, guiding her blade into the stomach of one of the missing girls. Abigail was placid, a certain detachment to her eyes that told Hannibal she was dissociating, likely trying to separate herself from the horrors of what she was doing. 

“That’s right, Abigail. I’m so proud of you.”

Abigail allowed a watery smile at that, a single tear falling from broken blue eyes. She reminded him so much of Will in that moment, and Hannibal had meant to observe only, but he couldn’t help stepping in. Her vulnerability drew him in like a moth to a flame. A flash of a memory, gold hair and cruel blue eyes whispered through his mind, and he wondered if Bedelia’s proclivities guided his motivations now. She’d always leaned towards crushing the vulnerable, but never had the courage to participate. Hannibal had no such qualms. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to make the situation worse or to stop it, but stepping in would sate his curiosity. 

“Excuse me,” Hannibal smoothly interrupted, the very picture of calm when Hobbs turned around with a deadly look in his eyes. The look on Hobbs face made the decision for him, he didn’t appreciate being regarded as prey. It seemed he would play the role of the savior today. “I apologize for the interruption, but I do think your daughter would like to take a break now. She’s had a long day.” 

“Who the hell are you?” Hobbs demanded as he took a step towards Hannibal, moving Abigail’s blade into his own hands. Before Hannibal could respond, Abigail interrupted. 

“H-Hannibal?” Her voice was a quiet whisper, her eyes darting nervously between her dad and Hannibal. She raised a hand to cover her mouth, a groan coming out. “No…you’re not supposed to be here, this doesn’t make sense…” 

She whimpered, and it clicked for Hannibal then.

This wasn’t Hobbs’ Hell. This was Abigail’s. 

Abigail Hobbs was in Hell, and Hannibal had just unwittingly interrupted her torture. 

“Interesting,” Hannibal mused, smile growing as he could feel the teacup coming back together again. Decision made, he turned to Hobbs. “It seems circumstance has brought us back to this moment.” 

“What the-“ With one swift movement, Hannibal snapped Hobbs’ neck, deftly dodging the desperate swipe of his blade as he fell to the ground. 

Abigail screamed, and Hannibal turned to her, his face pulled into a deceptively kind look, though the eager glint in his eyes gave him away. He reached a hand out and she flinched back, trembling. 

“W-what’s happening? You just killed my dad…” She trailed off, tearing up as she backed away from him. 

“Abigail, come here.” 

The words seemed to trigger something in her and she moaned, a hand coming up to grasp her hair. “N-no, you’re going to kill me.”

“No, Abigail,” Hannibal soothed, stepping close enough to rest a palm on her shoulder. “That is no longer my goal. That was never my goal, you were merely a means to an end. And that end has been met. Now, this is a chance for us to glue the shattered teacup back again, to be a family.” 

“You just killed my family,” Abigail whispered weakly, even as her eyes sharpened in recognition, Hannibal’s presence disrupting the hold Hell on her. “And you killed me.”

“Indeed, I did,” Hannibal agreed, a smile on his face. “Now, we can stay here with your father’s cooling body on the floor behind us, or we can leave now and discuss our plans for escaping Hell.” 

“Leave?” Abigail questioned, her brows furrowing before they smoothed out in shock. “I’m in Hell?” She asked rather softly, looking sick. 

Hannibal nodded, and she let out a morbid laugh. “Of course, and why wouldn’t I be? After all the things I did.” She looked up, eyes almost mischievous if it wasn’t for the slight hint of retribution in them. “And if I’m in Hell, it would make sense you would be here too.” 

Hannibal shrugged, and when her words didn’t seem to garner much more of a response from him, her shoulders slumped. She grabbed his hand and took it off her shoulder, though she kept her grip on his fingers. Hannibal allowed it, and turned to the door of the cabin. He stepped forward, and led Abigail out the door as he spoke. 

“Come, we have much to discuss, and Will will be very happy to hear from you.”