I am your witness that blood and flesh can be trusted,
and only this one holy medium brings me peace of mind.
- Maynard James Keenan
Will doesn’t deny he chose Hannibal in death, but violently resents his resurrection. It’s the sight of a severed limb cooked to perfection that poses the challenge to overcome; for Will to accept his choices with air in his lungs and Hannibal by his side. He’s been graced with such a romantic setting; candles lit along the dining table as the sunset glows burning orange through the windows. Will finds it awfully desperate.
H: Burdock was believed to carry magical powers of protection and healing. Wearing a necklace made of the root gathered during the waning moon would protect the wearer from evil.
Hannibal speaks matter of factly as if he still has a protective guard up, and Will only returns the favor by warily staring at his plate. Every piece of delicate meat and garnish is presented with elegance and complete pretentiousness. Hannibal is still eager to impress. Will wants to vomit, but merely glares. He certainly doesn’t feel the need to be protected from evil, not when it’s smiling and joining him at the table.
H: It is more commonly praised for arterial healing. Cleansing of blood and an appetite stimulant.
Will smiles halfheartedly in bitter realization, although it’s not enough to guide his hands to close around silver cutlery. Hannibal’s glass hovers in the air for a second, as if he’s waiting for Will to lift his own in a toast, but he’s met with only rolling eyes.
W: A remedy for two in one. I was only aware of it being an aphrodisiac.
He’s not entirely shocked Hannibal neither confirms nor denies his broken heart, and picks shamelessly at the meat with his fork with a smile tugging at his lips. He might as well have thrown the plate at Hannibal’s desperate face.
W: You’re treating me like a possession. If you are to own me you should know I have a will of my own.
H: A possession can be replaced. And your will has left us both wounded.
The careless tone sticks to Hannibal’s voice as if his confessions were nothing. The doctor wasn’t walking with a limp anymore, and had reclaimed his mobility by taking away his psychiatrist’s. Though Will can tell Hannibal is hurt. Perhaps even offended death was the means to Will’s acceptance. He drinks nonetheless.
W: If I’m... irreplaceable, then there are no true consequences to my actions.
H: Or just not the one you imagine.
W: This should be a punishment then. Not a demand.
H: I never said it wasn’t.
W: For what?
Hannibal makes a questioning hum, making Will’s jaw clench. Of course the sadistic bastard wants him to acknowledge who’s got the power to punish whom.
W: What are you punishing me for?
H: This fall was the result of your becoming. You still can’t face the truth buried deep within.
W: This isn’t going to help change my mind.
H: Perhaps it will.
W: What, are you going to belt me, Hannibal?
Hannibal almost smiles. Will regrets putting the idea in his head.
W: That’s not- That wasn’t-
H: An invitation?
H: Finish your dinner, or would you prefer the alternative?
Will goes to bed hungry. It keeps him from sleep, tears welling up as he imagines taking a bite of the exotic fruits Hannibal keeps downstairs. Will doesn’t even know the name of it, yet he can already taste it. Or the loaf of bread with raisins. Butter. He sobs when Hannibal’s arms wrap around him and pull him closer.
H: Your free will has disappointed you again. Your pain is by your own making.
Will cries, subconsciously hiding his face in Hannibal’s neck from shame or exhaustion. Or comfort. Hannibal’s voice is low and intoxicating.
H: Sleep, my darling.
Morning comes with clarity. Refusing to indulge in cannibalism couldn’t possibly last. Not with Hannibal. For morality’s sake he’d like to believe he doesn’t have a choice, but the truth is something else entirely.
Will smells coffee, eggs and grapefruit when he wakes up. It sends him bolting downstairs, head pulsating violently and hands shaking with low blood sugar. He feels sick. Hannibal has only prepared one plate, and when Will reaches out for a fruit Hannibal stops him.
H: Good morning, Will.
Tears threaten to spill over again. They definitely will if he’s not allowed something to eat. Anything.
Hannibal doesn’t dignify his pleas with an answer, he just guides him to the table with a hand by his neck and bends him over it. Will would feel shame if he wasn’t desperate.
H: It was your decision to take me down with you. Your actions weren’t just to hurt yourself, but me as well.
W: You’re one to talk.
Will hears the sound of leather hitting skin before he feels it. It’s numbing at first, but the second cuts deeper. The third activates his muscles into movement, squirming on the wooden table.
W: Fuck you.
It’s of no use but it’s all that Will can think, it’s the only words that swirl around in his head. Even more so when Hannibal continues. It’s ridiculous, and Will wishes he would melt into the wood.
Will is holding on to the table now, it keeps his knees from giving out completely and he stays in position even has Hannibal takes a seat by the table. Obedient or anticipating, he only dares to breathe.
H: I don’t appreciate vulgarities, even if you are in a state of vulnerability. I expect more from you, Will.
Hannibal’s gaze cuts deeper than the belt, and Will finds himself nodding and whispering a halfhearted apology in agreement. He can smell coffee.
H: I can’t hear you.
W: I’m sorry.
His apology certainly isn’t sincere, but Hannibal doesn’t seem to care. It’s only to humiliate, as if punishing him like an insolent child wasn’t enough. Will can’t deny it’s working. There are no strings holding his body down, yet he feels inescapably trapped. The blood rushing down his body in arousal is only an added mortification.
H: You will need to stay out of the sun today. A sunburn is already threatening.
Hannibal is sketching outside. It’s warm. Will feels fuzzy as he collapses book in hand onto the ground. Hannibal acts nonchalantly; only dragging him up to his knees and out of the sun. Will leans against the doctor’s leg, uttering words he has no control over.
W: Please, Hannibal.
H: Please what?
Will would cry if he could. It’s not only the hunger now, it’s how it’s diminished.
W: I’ll eat whatever you want me to.
His words come out in a slur, hands tightening around the material of Hannibal’s pants. He’s close to collapsing again, if hope didn’t keep him up.
Hannibal’s attention feels like something to be treasured, and Will feels like one when he’s being guided into the kitchen with a strong arm around his waist. He’s so overcome with gratitude he doesn’t react when Hannibal pulls his pants down again.
H: I want you to stay still for me.
The blade in Hannibal’s hand spurs a flight or fight response, but he contains it and follows instructions in blind hope. There’s a peculiar intensity in Hannibal’s expression; upper lip giving a twitch that hints of terrifying excitement.
The pain he’s carried around is finally released when the blade sinks into his thigh, drags along until a chunk is freed from his body. A bizarre weight is lifted from his shoulders. Will is too frozen in shock or pain to react, and only watches Hannibal taste him with an apparent arousal of excitement. Something so forbidden, so foreign even to Hannibal. So brutally primal.
Will feels death’s presence.
Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t object. Survival instincts or maybe even a morbid curiosity allows him to follow Hannibal’s lead and clench teeth around himself when Hannibal offers him.
The euphoria is short lived. Will only sees red on Hannibal’s lips and taste himself on his tongue before he clutches the sink and wretches. It’s red and pink.
H: You have a fever.
Will awakens to the same hunger, cold sweat gathering at the back of his neck soaking the pillow. His thigh feels tight.
W: It’ll pass.
He feels clearer now. With his wound wrapped and body cocooned in soft blankets he is in no immediate harm. And as he suspected, by following Hannibal’s lead he’s granted his wishes by a plate on the nightstand. Grapes, two scones and a cup of tea swirling with a comforting fume. No meat in sight, only comfort and a symbol of triumph. Will believes it’s a mockery.
H: I took the liberty of giving you an ice bath.
Hannibal’s focus is elsewhere, anywhere but Will. He looks disappointed. Will couldn’t care less.
H: You were overheated. I suggest you rest, Will.
That’s all he cares to say before leaving him alone, and Will feels anger building up inside as he looks to the plate by his side. This didn’t feel like a victory.
Will amuses himself thinking about his weakness being his own humanity. Hannibal only challenges him physically, not psychologically. Not directly, anyway.
Hannibal is as aware as Will that his unique neurology is what poses a threat.
Hannibal must not be adapted to indulge his mind in this moment, then. He must only feel capable when Will is betrayed by his body, and perhaps that was always the case.
Will instantly feels better, although the scone tastes bitter.
Will stays in bed for as long as he can. After all, Hannibal had advised him to rest. And there was something satisfying about not immediately seeking Hannibal out.. Whatever he may be doing, it didn’t concern Will anymore, for he was already stuck in the web.
He feels dramatic when consciously eating slowly, treating himself like a starvation victim. It’s slow enough that the honey sweetened black tea has dropped in temperature to a disappointing lukewarm.
In the spirit of free will he brings the cup downstairs to heat it in the, Hannibal forbid, microwave. He may not be Hannibal’s patient anymore, but he must look it with a bandaged thigh and fever sweat sticking to his t-shirt and Hannibal’s boxers.
Will doesn’t know whether he’s disappointed that their fall hadn’t majorly changed any dynamics, only intensified Hannibal’s ferocity and consequently, Will’s resistance. If Will didn’t know any better he’d feel pity for Hannibal.
He shivers while watching the cup spin around, listening to the pleasant hum and wishing the doctor wouldn’t come crawling out of whatever crypt he had vanished into. But he does, with an unwarranted but comforting hand brushing through the damp locks of hair sticking to his forehead.
H: You’re very warm, Will. Better get back into bed.
W: You’re very persistent. And transparent.
Will allows the touch, a shiver trailing down his spine and struggling to focus on making himself another snack. Hannibal’s closeness is disorienting, as well as exciting.
W: I can only guess you don’t want me to know what you’re doing.
H: The possibility that I’m merely concerned for you doesn’t exist to you.
Will scoffs. Hannibal was never concerned for him; his actions regarding Will were only ever to please himself. Even when nurturing or protective, it was for a goal that was something other than Will’s well-being. He hated how much sense it made to him.
W: I’d like to assist you in the kitchen tonight, if you’d let me.
The words surprised Will as he spoke them. He wasn’t sure whether it was gratitude or just wanting to keep a closer eye on his companion who clearly had something to hide. Hannibal seemed pleased regardless, and with that Will retreated upstairs again.
H: How do you feel?
Hannibal was confident enough to let Will chop vegetables. Confident in his ability and lack of need for reciprocation by blade. Will had nothing to reciprocate.
W: The fever’s gone down. But there’s still a lingering nausea.
Will can feel Hannibal’s eyes, though he cannot determine whether it’s truly worry or wonder if he’s well enough for whatever Hannibal is planning. Will decides not to care.
H: I sincerely hope this will help with the nausea.
Hannibal is simple. He tells Will about the story of this particular recipe, perhaps unaware of how Will zones out; but still persistent he keep up the pretentiousness. It must be for his own enjoyment. Hannibal’s games may have complications or lead to a conflicted mind but the man himself and his principles; clear as crystal. Will sometimes wished everything wouldn’t be so predictable.
Will feels closer to Hannibal wearing his clothes. They’re a size too big but their presence feels tight enough on his skin. A striking thought makes him audibly chuckle, enough for Hannibal to look at him with a smile of his own.
W: What would you call us now, Hannibal?
H: What do you mean?
Will rolls his eyes. An incurable sadist, not allowing even the smallest of pleasures. Serves him right, he thinks. Stupid question deserves stupid answer. There’s not another soul around for either of them to have to define their relationship anymore.
H: I think there are many answers to that question. What would be yours?
Will is silent. Not because an answer doesn’t rest on the tip of his tongue. It’s the confession that hurts, even if the sincerity is questionable. He slides the blade through the carrots.
W: The wounded and the blade.
They cook in a suffocating silence for a few minutes. Hannibal pours Will a glass of whiskey, knowing he’d prefer it to the wine in this sickened state. The higher the alcohol percentage the more cleansing of the soul and body, bitter to activate a sedating heat rather than a taste for enjoyment. Will isn’t threatened when Hannibal’s lips brush against his neck.
H: You have wounded the two of us.
It’s amazing how much meat a limb can offer. Just the thought is overwhelming, and Will struggles to keep his nausea in check as they take their seats at the table. The delicious smell is infuriating, and Will pours his second whiskey down his throat. Hannibal doesn’t stop him when he refills his glass.
H: You are making yourself sick.
W: You’re making me sick.
Will doesn’t have much of a filter to begin with, certainly not with Hannibal and definitely not with alcohol numbing his social skills. He almost rolls his eyes again when Hannibal puts on his concerned face.
H: I only want what’s best for you.
W: Tell me, how is cannibalism what’s best for me?
He’s opened the tap now, and he doesn’t even care. Will can’t figure out if he’s testing boundaries or if it’s genuine curiosity. He has a feeling he already knows what Hannibal is going to say.
H: You made a choice on the edge of that cliff. You decided to indulge in the eternal afterlife with me, but you won’t indulge in this life.
Will resists the urge to leave the table right then and there. He can’t meet Hannibal’s gaze, but he knows it’s smug.
H: Your boundaries are only limitations keeping you from greatness. From broadening your palette. They are not protecting you, but merely keeping you in the dark.
W: I’m not alone in that darkness anymore. You sought to that.
H: As did you.
Something breaks in that moment. Either the nausea passes or the puzzle pieces in Will’s head finally fit, because he eats. Peacefully, savoring every bite in silence and letting his mind go numb.
H: Accept the responsibility for your actions, Will. Accept your desire.
W: My desires are… fuzzy at the moment.
Hannibal is silent for a second or two, and Will wants to smile because as much as Hannibal believes he’s indestructible; Will doesn’t even have to reach or struggle to hurt his feelings. Hannibal may as well have been kneeling and offering an engagement ring, and Will is aware of how delicate the doctor is to rejection.
H: I hope to help you see them more clearly.
Will recognizes the threat and promise for what it is, but lacks the energy to care or worry. He is Hannibal’s entire world. Will’s resistance has never been the outcome of Hannibal’s actions, but his own. He doesn’t berate himself as he enjoys Hannibal’s culinary performance.
W: It’s not cold.
Everything feels pleasantly warm and soothing. The lake is still as Will lowers his body into it. He pushes his hands through the water, fingertips trying to grasp the silky surface. They missed the sunset, but Will doesn’t mind the moonlight.
H: I don’t want your fever to return.
Hannibal had been gentle in his objections, but accompanied Will into the water nonetheless. Allowing him free will. Will had to pretend to keep his sanity, and maybe give something of value to keep it.
W: A person without boundaries is a psychopath.
It’s almost seductive. Hannibal seems calm when he walks into the water but stays just out of Will’s reach.
W: Your prodding fingers still poke around in my head. Pinching nerves, leaving bruises and untwisting my knots. Tying new ones.
H: I am intrigued by your mind.
It would’ve been romantic, if Hannibal had the emotional capacity. He liked to envision himself a romantic, but it was only ever for aesthetics. Will knew however, if Hannibal was capable he’d feel romantic for Will. That was enough for him to close the distance between them.
H: Do you have regrets, Will?
Hannibal returns the gesture of Will’s arms around his neck by linking his around Will’s waist and leaning in until their lips meet. Will knows it’s to manipulate, a mark of possession but Hannibal’s pattern makes sense, it’s simple. And he looks powerful in the moonlight. Will feels relief as they kiss.
W: Not with you.
The pain wakes him just before sunrise. His wounded thigh is pulsating underneath a weight that’s squeezing him all over. Strong hands wrap around his bicep, his hips, tightening before stroking in what Will knows is only adoration.
W: What are you doing?
Will squirms, pinned to the mattress by the doctor intent on appreciating his every limb. It’s painful.
W: Hannibal, stop.
Hannibal responds by squeezing the bandaged wound with a force so fierce Will almost screams in shock. It’s not only painful anymore, it’s the deep violation. The doctor’s fingers are manipulating his nerves, ones that should remain safe and untouched.
Will is horrified when his own body betrays him, and Hannibal praises the betrayal by stroking him through his boxers as he grows hard.
H: Beautiful boy.
Hannibal’s voice is laced with sleep, whispering in his ear sweet nothings so soothing Will reaches out in the only way he physically can; nuzzling at Hannibal’s jaw and whimpering hopefully. What he’s hoping for he doesn’t know, and doesn’t get an answer until Hannibal has him under a forced but welcomed sleep again.