There are deer at the window when Will opens his eyes, two of them. Their heads are bent to the grass and all he can see are the curves of their backs--their tails, twitching. It’s raining. But neither of them pays the water any mind.
“You’re awake. Good. We were starting to worry.”
Will can almost feel the deers’ fur in his palms, the damp velvet of it. “Why?”
“Because,” Hannibal says from the other side of the room. “You’ve been asleep for a very long time.”
When he turns over, it’s with the expectation of pain. There isn’t any. He clutches his stomach beneath the covers; is surprised when his hand comes back dry. What he remembers--what does he remember?--is the prick of a knife.
“How long is very long?”
“Nearly a day. Since the night we arrived here; you picked at your supper and then you collapsed. I haven’t had the heart to wake you since. And I haven't allowed your dog to do so, either, much to his chagrin.”
They’d come in darkness, Will remembers, the headlights on the stolen Mazda low, Abigail peering out eagerly from the backseat, Winston snuffling warily beside her.
“Welcome,” Hannibal had said formally at the doorstep, smiling at each of them as he turned the key. “To you both: welcome home.”
When Will blinks, Hannibal is standing beside the bed, sitting on it, running the tips of his fingers over the scratch of Will’s cheek.
“I was afraid that I’d overwhelmed you,” Hannibal says. “I’m fond of surprises and it was only after that I realized perhaps you do not like them so much.”
“You could have told me sooner. Christ, you should have. I never would’ve”--blood, Will had seen in Hannibal’s eyes, their bodies pressed together and the pressure of a blade at his gut; blood and pain and fury and the acknowledgement of so much regret. “I never would have dragged us so close to the edge.”
There’s a tremor in Hannibal’s touch. “Perhaps not. But perhaps you would not have acted as bravely in that moment had not you not felt the call of the rocks down below.”
“You would have thrown me over. You would’ve killed me.” Will’s gut twists. “And her. I know you. If I hadn’t---you would have burned it all down and made me breathe in the ash.”
“Mmm,” Hannibal says. He’s leaning over Will now, the heat of his body more familiar now, close. “And I would have thought you deserved it. But you claimed your place instead.”
He tugs a hand from beneath the sheets and squeezes Hannibal’s arm. “You hesitated.”
“Oh, yes.” He stares at the red spread of Hannibal’s mouth, remembers its taste, the startled, heated noise that Hannibal had made in the kitchen, his hand clutched in Will’s hair. The smell of blood in his nose, seeping up from Hannibal’s shirt. The quiet, final clatter of the knife. “You didn’t want to kill me, Hannibal.”
“No, I didn’t, but I would have found pleasure in doing so. One cut for another, eh?” Hannibal’s hair is in his eyes, tumbling over Will’s forehead. “For my darling, you have wounded me so."
There is no way to change what’s happened or erase what might have, Will knows. There is only the weight of Hannibal’s body on top of his, the way his back arches when Will pulls at his hair.
A sinking kiss at his throat. “In the garden. Or the kitchen. What does it matter?”
“Close the door, then.”
“I can’t bear to let you go.”
“Get up and close the damn door, Hannibal.”
Hannibal kisses him again, drives him deeper into the bed. Whispers: “Why?”
“Because,” Will says, smiling, his lips wet from Hannibal’s tongue. “I want you to fuck me. And I don't want to scare the dog."
When they’re naked, Hannibal buries his face against Will’s stomach and bites a row of kisses there, vicious, groaning, his hands curled like claws around Will’s hips, holding him still, and when he lifts his face, there’s a fever there, a blazing sort of triumph that makes Will’s heart stutter.
“You were going to cut me there.”
“Tch. No. I was going to gut you. There is quite a difference."
“Regardless. You didn’t.”
Hannibal turns his head and nuzzles Will’s cock. “No.”
“Because.” Hannibal’s tongue finds his slit. “You did the most dangerous thing that you could have in that moment."
"And what was that?" He knows the answer; needs to hear it now. Just once.
Two dark eyes rise to find his. "My dear Will. You showed me your love."
He comes down Hannibal’s throat, wild and fast, like a kid who’s never given it up, but that’s because Hannibal’s fingers are inside him, turning, pushing, stroking, nudging, and then Hannibal’s on his back and Will’s on top of him, taking, getting hard again on the steel shove of Hannibal’s dick, the goddamn stars in those full fathom eyes.
“My darling,” Hannibal snarls, his fingers pressed hard against the bruises, the place where Will had felt his blade brush. “Oh, my darling, never forget this, whatever comes after: you are mine.”
When Will comes again, he digs his nails into the gray tangle of Hannibal’s chest and howls and howls and feels Hannibal hot inside him, beneath him, sighing, that sudden, sweet shot of heat, and when Will can move again, feel his fucking limbs, he’s cupping Hannibal’s face, stroking that trembling jaw with his thumb.
“Cuts both ways,” he says, hoarse. “I’m yours and you’re mine.”
Hannibal’s eyes flutter and his hips jerk again, his hands on Will’s thighs going tight. “Yes,” he murmurs. “Yes, yes. This it is.”
When Will opens his eyes again, the deer are long gone and the sky is much darker. He can smell onions and butter drifting in from the kitchen, the low murmur of a girl’s voice, the shuffled gait of a dog. It’s still raining.
Another kitchen, another night filled with rain. It feels like a lifetime ago, Christ, he thinks; it’s only been a few days.
“We came so close to missing this, didn’t we?” He can see it so clearly, as if he’s already lived it: the blood in Hannibal’s eyes that night, translated into Will’s death. And Abigail’s. He shudders. “A foot put wrong by either of us and it all would’ve gone to hell, just like that, wouldn’t it?”
Hannibal hums and curls tighter around him. He feels like a barrier against the might-have been. “Mmmm,” he says in Will’s ear. “How very fortunate, then, that we didn’t.”
When they kiss this time, they meet midstream, equidistant from opposite banks: Hannibal’s hands cupping his face and Will’s wound ivy around Hannibal’s neck.
“Is this all that you had hoped for?”
“Going to bed with you or running away with you?”
Hannibal’s lips twitch. “Yes. Both.”
“I don’t have enough data to answer either question.”
“No?” There’s a butterfly stroke on the inside of Will’s thigh. “Shall we investigate further?”
“Yes,” Will says, a roar of distant thunder, the clatter of pans in the kitchen, the sound of Abigail singing to his dog. “Let’s.”