Will has taken to Central America remarkably well. Hannibal knew he would.
Will loves the warm weather and sandy beaches. Whenever he disappears, Hannibal finds him swimming in the ocean behind their house more often than not. He’s started teasing Will that he might be part fish for the pleasure of seeing Will roll his eyes at him, an uncouth gesture that hails back to simpler times.
Will has already amassed a small pack of dogs, three mutts that he found roaming the streets. He imagines Will lures them home with bits of meat and soothing, soft words—the kind that aren’t for Hannibal—as locals stare and shake their heads. He never puts up more than token resistance when Will shows up with a canine in tow. He protests just enough to bring that sharp smile to Will’s face, the one he gets when he feels like he’s won something at Hannibal’s expense.
Will is happy here, and Hannibal often wishes that Will had seen fit to let him bring them here long ago.
Will is often happy here, but today he isn’t. This morning he’s agitated and uneasy in his skin, picking fights with Hannibal before they’ve even finished breakfast.
“Has he been to see one of your friends?”
Ah. It’s this again.
Hannibal shakes his head. “I would have told you if he had.”
Will drums his fingers on the counter. “He should be seeing a therapist.”
“We don’t know that he isn’t, darling. He could be seeing someone recommended by a friend. He might have his own psychiatrist. We don’t know him particularly well, you remember.”
Will sighs. “He isn’t seeing someone. He doesn’t trust therapists. He saw a handful when he was younger and hated all of them. Any psychiatrist he saw and kept seeing would have to be… special.”
He favors Hannibal with the ghost of a smile, and it seems Hannibal still is not immune to flattery after all these years. Will’s manipulations are no less effective for how blatant they are, and isn’t that what makes him so darling and dangerous.
“Adam isn’t you, Will,” Hannibal reminds him gently.
“I know he’s not,” Will snaps, but Hannibal wonders if he does.
Will’s sense of self has always been permeable, and for the most part, it’s something Hannibal has encouraged. He certainly doesn’t mind that the borders between Will and himself have largely ceased to exist—they were superfluous anyway. He does mind when Will gets lost in people who are not him.
It doesn’t happen often these days; Will has a better sense of the delineations between himself and others—the killers he subsumes, the victims they’ve hunted. The antipsychotics have helped, and Hannibal pays careful attention to Will’s mental condition. He’s willingly, if not happily, picked back up the mantle of Will’s psychiatrist. He adjusts the medications and dosage as necessary. It’s helped. Will is no longer feral and incoherent, but he isn’t quite as adept at remembering that he’s distinct from others as he one was.
Will likely wouldn’t believe him—he persists in believing the worst of Hannibal at all times—but he doesn’t want to weed all the strangeness out of Will. A certain amount of malady can be tolerated, particularly when it’s interesting. Hannibal is quite uninterested in dull, perfect health. The holes in the floor of Will’s mind are endlessly fascinating, and if there have been caverns in Will’s mind that he hasn’t preferred, Hannibal must at least admit that the illness has done an admirable job of cultivating the darkness within him.
If that darkness has taken a different turn than Hannibal himself was expecting, well. Will always did find ways to constantly surprise him. Of course this would be no different.
And if Will’s heart is set on Adam for the time being, then fortunately for Will, Hannibal has had a hard time denying him anything for years, for far longer than he’s known. Long before he realized a way to craft Hannibal’s love into a noose to hang them both.
He’s made endless adjustments for Will Graham. He is certainly willing to make a few more, and so he mentally adjusts his plans for their future, changing the rooms in which those plans reside, clearing away furniture and building new structures. Hannibal had discarded the idea of a family when he’d killed Abigail. It seems Will had not.
That’s fine. Arrangements can be made.
Hannibal places a hand on the back of Will’s neck and lets his smile deepen and grow when Will leans back into it, pliant and trusting. He runs hotter these days, an echo of the months when Will’s sweet fever was a third companion in every room shared by the two of them. Occasionally Hannibal indulges in nostalgia, closes his eyes and lets the warm scent transport him to a time when all things were new.
He tightens his grip in Will’s hair and pulls, letting the way Will moans and grows slack fill him with vicious, ravenous desire.
“Do you want to keep him, my darling?” Hannibal asks as he shoves Will down, folding him in two over the tiled island in their kitchen. “Have I not given you enough pets to keep you warm? Do you need another?”
Hannibal doesn’t have to ask. He already knows the answer, even as his hands make quick work of his own belt, opening his fly and pulling himself out while Will does the same in frantic, jerky gestures. He knows the answer, but he also knows his wicked, lovely boy. He knows how much he wants to say it, to confess all of his terrible desires. Will loves this part of what they do, almost as much as Hannibal loves hearing him say it.
Hannibal pushes Will down with a hand between his shoulder blades, smudging the pristine tile beneath him.
“Yes,” Will hisses before Hannibal shoves his fingers into Will’s mouth. He talks around Hannibal’s fingers, drooling around them. “I want him.”
He’s rough because Will likes it that way, murmurs in his ear, “Get it nice and wet so I don’t hurt you, darling.”
Will moans, loud and wanton, then slams his jaw shut. A bright bolt of pain shoots through Hannibal. He yanks his bitten fingers free, then pulls Will’s head back and slams it into the counter. Will turns to grin at him, smile mocking and bright. His eyes are slightly unfocused. He looks dazed, and it’s all Hannibal can do not to kiss him. Instead he shoves two fingers into Will, feeling the skin catch and tear, and wipes the smile from Will’s face.
Will’s eyelids flutter shut even as his mouth twists in a snarl, and Hannibal’s name falls out of his mouth like prayer.
“Wicked boy,” Hannibal murmurs. “You like it when it hurts.”
Will grins at him with bloody teeth. “Don’t you?”
Hannibal bares his teeth and moves, stretching Will open hard and fast for the pleasure of hearing the pained noises Will makes even as he fucks himself back on Hannibal’s fingers. He does like it. He loves Will any way he can have him, and if he’d sometimes like to touch Will in ways soft and gentle, he can’t deny that he loves this as well.
“Do you want to touch him like this?” Hannibal asks, scissoring his fingers apart and driving deeper, as deep as he can reach, hollowing Will out. “Do you want him spitted on your fingers and cock, screaming for you again?”
Will shakes his head, rolling it along the counter. “No. Nngh, Hannibal, fuck.”
“No,” Will insists, pushing his hips back chasing the friction when Hannibal pulls out. Hannibal pulls Will’s cheeks apart, exposing his reddened hole and spitting on it. It’s a bit crass for his tastes, but Will loves it, moaning as spittle disappears into his willing body, as it drips down to the hardwood floor. Hannibal lines his erection up against Will, rubbing the head of his cock along his opening.
Will looks back at him, catches him with those stunning eyes. “Not until he wants it. I won’t force him.”
Again, hangs unspoken between them. Hannibal privately thinks that Will would, that he’s found a taste for something dark that Hannibal understands in an abstract way but does not share. It’s strange to find places between them where the pieces don’t quite align.
“I want him to beg for it. Hannibal, come on,” Will pants as Hannibal pulls away, teasing, keeping his cock just out of reach when Will tries to push his hips back to take Hannibal in. He growls, frustrated. “I want him to need me.”
“You want to show him how we love each other,” Hannibal says. Will looks away, embarrassed, and Hannibal feels a rush of tenderness for him. “He’s not Abigail, you know.”
“A pretty, dark-haired thing without a friend in the world and nowhere to turn but us.” His mind still stalks the same ground that Hannibal’s does. “He doesn’t need to be.”
Hannibal takes pity on Will and nudges forward, bringing their skin back into contact. Not breaching him, just reminding. I’m here. He leans forward and presses a kiss to the top of Will’s spine. “Save that for later,” Hannibal says. “Your dreams will keep. Be here now. Take what you want from me.”
And Will does. Hannibal holds himself still while Will moves, grunting and sighing as he impales himself on Hannibal’s cock faster and harder than Hannibal would have.
The friction burns. It’s tight and just this side of too dry, and Hannibal lets Will take what he desires. Will rocks against him, hurting himself with Hannibal’s body. It’s not selfless, none of this is. Hannibal loves this too. He grips Will’s hips tight enough to leave bruises and fucks him hard enough to bang his knees against the cabinet doors. It’s loud and messy and entirely satisfying.
“You’re so good to me,” Will says after, quiet and still and so soft Hannibal could have imagined it—but Will is the one prone to flights of fancy, not him. Hannibal doesn’t imagine such things. It offends some deep-buried part of him that Will sees goodness here and nowhere else, but Hannibal tamps it down and takes what Will allows him.
Will lets Hannibal hold him in these moments and only these. He lets Hannibal bring him back to bed, wrap him up in blankets and love and kiss the parts he hurt.
This is exorcism for him—Hannibal holds no illusions about that. He wonders sometimes what the demons in Will’s mind look like these days. He wonders how many of them look like him.
* * *
“My memory palace has changed,” Will says, leaning back with his head on Hannibal’s chest.
It’s too hot for blankets in this part of the world, never mind that it’s November, but they bed down in a nest of comforters anyway. Will looks up at him, waiting for a response.
“Has it?” Hannibal asks.
Will hums in agreement. “It’s brighter there. There are lights in the water. Sometimes I think I could catch them if I tried.”
“Why don’t you?”
“They’re not for me.” He says it with absolute conviction, as though it’s self-evident. Maybe it is, to him. Hannibal loves Will, but he can’t always follow where his mind goes.
“Everything is for you, my love,” Hannibal says. That is a conviction for him.
Will catches his eye and smiles, easy and light. His smile is fragmented and ruined, half of it twisting because half of it will move no more. Hannibal thinks it’s beautiful.
“You are,” Will says.
“I am,” Hannibal agrees. “I and the rest of the world.”
Will settles back into his chest, bringing his arms around Hannibal and holding him close.
“He’s waiting for us there, you know. Can’t you feel it too? He’s waiting, and he doesn’t know it.”
“He doesn’t want us,” Hannibal says gently.
“That’s never mattered to you before.” Will nuzzles his scarred cheek into the hair on Hannibal’s chest. If he were a cat, Hannibal thinks he’d be able to feel him purr. “But he will.”
Hannibal has seen lights in his halls too, floating lights that illuminate the castle, that refused to be extinguished in the foyer. He’s tried to put them out.
They were fathers once. He supposes they could be again. There could be room for one more.