The FBI had finally caught up with them after all these years. They hadn’t been caught for any of the reasons Will would’ve expected, had you asked him at any point during the last decade. Their crime scenes were always a site of controlled chaos—there might be blood dripping from the walls, but none of it was theirs. They were careful. Organized, in all their madness.
They were caught because they’d grown too comfortable; it’s obvious with the benefit of hindsight. The story of the murder husbands had been fresh in the public consciousness, for a while. They’d made Freddie a significant amount of money, much to Will’s chagrin, but people’s attention spans are short. The news moved on. It wasn’t more than a few years before they could move freely in cities at the far reaches of the globe, if they cared to. If they grew out their hair, if Will kept a beard, if they dressed and moved differently in subtle ways not themselves.
There was more freedom, later. They became more and more themselves as time marched on. No one noticed. No one looked.
Until someone did.
* * *
Will wakes up slowly, then all at once. He can’t move. He can’t see. He jerks against the bonds fastened around his wrists and ankles, wrenching against knots that hold fast. Against coarse sisal rope that bites into his skin.
“What the fuck is this?”
He’s afraid he’s gone blind for a few heartstopping moments until he realizes he can see just fine. He’s just groggy and slow—his eyelids feel heavy from whatever Hannibal drugged him with, and Hannibal fucking drugged him.
Hannibal. There’s a clatter in the corner of the room, loud then quickly muffled, and Will jerks his head up at the sound. The movement sends a bolt of pain shooting through his head, and he winces. He must’ve made noise because Hannibal is at his side in the next moment.
“Ah, you’re awake. I admit I’m not as practiced as I used to be when it comes to calculating dosages. I’m glad to see you back in the land of the living.”
He smiles down at Will just like that, like nothing’s wrong and everything about this is fine. Of course he does. Maybe he can blame the instinctual, irrepressible urge to smile back on whatever Hannibal’s dosed him with, but it’s more likely he wants to smile back because Hannibal is a psychopath, and so is he. Hannibal presses on each of Will’s fingers in turn, checking their color and running his own finger beneath the place where the rope digs into Will’s wrist. Checking for signs of nerve damage of all things.
“Squeeze my hand, please,” Hannibal says, pressing one large, cool hand in Will’s. Will squeezes it even as he rolls his eyes.
“Hannibal, whatever this is, we don’t have time for it.” Everything’s coming back to him now in bits and pieces, in flashes of clarity. The FBI. Jack. The house of cards caving inward at last. “They’re coming. We need to run.”
Hannibal shakes his head. “Darling, they’re already here. It’s a matter of minutes, nothing more.”
He strokes the hair back Will’s forehead with fingers infinitely tender. His eyes look sadder than Will can remember, and it makes his breath catch in his throat. It pierces through the anger gripping him—makes him want to cup his hand around Hannibal’s face until he leans into it, protector and guard—and Will doesn’t want it. He wants the self-protective cocoon of his own rage, so he bites his own lip hard enough to taste blood.
“What is this?” Will asks again, eyes narrowing. He has the sickening, sinking feeling that he doesn’t have to ask. That deep down, he already knows.
“They’ll believe that you were my hostage,” Hannibal says. “That I used psychic driving techniques combined with threats of harm to keep you by my side all these years. You’ll likely be charged—there’s nothing I can do about that—but more leniently than you’d otherwise be. Think of this as a rite of passage. A way forward.”
An out. He hears the words that remain unspoken, and he bares his teeth in a snarl.
“No. Fuck you, no. You think I want that? You think I want to be saved from the life I chose?” He spits the word out as if salvation itself is anathema, and it is. It has no place in their kingdom.
“No,” Hannibal says, and there’s that same unbearable tenderness, that affection soaked through with love. Will wishes he could bite it off Hannibal’s face. “I don’t think that, mylimasis. I know you better. That’s why I haven’t given you a choice.”
“They’ll never believe it, you know. Jack will never believe it.”
Will has no idea if Jack even works for the FBI. He wouldn’t be surprised if Jack had been fired—not after everything they’d done—but he doesn’t need to know that Jack is working for the FBI to know that Jack is still hunting them in whatever capacity he’s able. Will is a good fisherman, but Jack has always been a goddamn bloodhound. He’d caught their scent, and he’d never let it go.
Hannibal inclines his head, conceding the point. “Uncle Jack will not, but others will, if we spin a tale they care to believe.” He runs a reverent hand down Will’s flank, over the furred expanse of a thigh. “They’ll believe it if I hurt you very badly indeed.”
A shiver snakes down Will’s spine, in spite of everything. In spite of the way the room is cloying and warm, although he knows it’s winter outside. This is where they live. What they are—the ouroboros biting its own tail, consuming itself alive.
It’s too much. Too much grief, too much love. Too much loss hanging above their heads. Will changes the subject.
“Where are we?” he asks, looking around the unfamiliar space. From his limited vantage point, he can see the entirety of the house is contained in one room. In the corner, there’s a kitchenette. There’s a table and chairs, just big enough for two. It’s the kind of place he’d like, Will thinks distantly, in happier times.
“A cabin,” Hannibal says. “Our cabin. I’d hoped to bring you here one day.”
“‘Hoped.’” He bites the word out, hoping to provoke and getting nothing in return but a small smile lined with all manner of things he doesn’t prefer. “Giving up so soon?”
Hannibal gets to his knees without so much as a creak or a groan—the years have been kind to him. Will has teased him about it often, Elizabeth Bathory, stealing immortality by blood. How many minutes, he wonders, if he could tally them up. How many hours have they spent loving each other, making jests, playing games to make the other smile. Too many and not enough. Never enough.
Hannibal kneels between Will’s spread legs. He rests his head against the inside of a bare thigh and kisses the place where leg meets hip, breathing deeply. “Does it feel soon? I feel like I’ve spent lifetimes with you. We have ripped from the world more than we’ve deserved.”
He tilts his head up to take the head of Will’s cock into his mouth, already half-hard, interested still. Always, for Hannibal.
Hannibal mouths at him, flattening his tongue against the underside of Will’s glans and suckling sweetly. It makes Will’s toes curl with pleasure, and he flexes his fingers, aching to sink them into Hannibal’s hair. He wishes his hands were free. Wishes he could shove Hannibal’s head down and rut up into his mouth, but he contents himself with the shallow thrusts he can manage while spreadeagled on the bed.
Hannibal lavishes attention on his cock for long minutes before finally pulling off with a look of regret.
“We don’t have much time, do we?” Will asks quietly.
“We have enough,” Hannibal says. He climbs onto the bed to press a kiss to the corner of Will’s mouth.
Will darts his tongue out, licking along the seam of Hannibal’s lips, demanding entrance that Hannibal grants him. He opens his mouth so Will can lick along the grooves of his teeth. So Will can suck lightly on his tongue and draw low, throaty moans from him. He can taste himself in Hannibal’s mouth, musky and a little bitter, salty with sweat.
They kiss until they don’t, until Hannibal gives his curls one last tug before abandoning them to slide down between his legs once more. He gets off the bed entirely, and then he’s doing something on the floor, something Will can’t see no matter how he cranes his neck. There’s the pop of a cap, the sound of liquid sloshing.
Will notices the unmistakable scent of gasoline for the first time, and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
“Just a moment,” Hannibal says, voice perfectly polite and even. He settles himself back between Will’s thighs. He runs his hands along his calves, pressing feathery kisses down the arch of his foot that go largely unnoticed. Will twitches his foot away, and Hannibal accepts the small denial for what it is—that Will would like to get on with it.
Will feels a familiar finger nudging at his entrance, but it carries an unfamiliar sting. He closes his eyes. “Gasoline?”
Hannibal tilts his head. “Kerosene. Not terribly effective as lubricant, I’m afraid.” He runs his fingers over Will’s skin, the drag of friction making his point. “It’s not particularly viscous.”
Will huffs a morbid laugh. “Kinda the point, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I suppose it is.”
They grow quiet, looking at each other.
“Please don’t do this,” Will says.
“If you’re concerned about the pain, I can give you something to put you to sleep until it’s over. You’ll wake up in police custody. It won’t be as effective, but—”
Sickness rises in him at the thought of sleeping through it all, not seeing the vicious glint in Hannibal’s eyes as he takes down as many cops as he can. He wants all of it, forever. As much as he can have.
“No,” Will says quickly. “Not that. We’re not doing that.”
Hannibal takes it in stride. He knew Will would want it this way, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered waiting for him to wake up. The thought brings a small ghost of a smile to Will’s lips.
“There will be significant internal damage,” Hannibal says. “It will be extremely painful.”
“Yeah, well. Not the worst thing you’ve done to me, is it?”
The look on Hannibal’s face says it might be.
Will swallows, leaning into the fear. He nods. “Get on with it, then.”
Hannibal nods. He pours more of the pungent liquid onto his fingers and replaces them at Will’s opening. He rubs over the pucker of Will’s hole, and the touch burns. Will squirms, trying to get comfortable. Trying to close his legs against the unwelcome sensation. Just as he’s opening his mouth to tell Hannibal not to tease, Hannibal slides his finger into him in one smooth press that burns like fire.
Will grits his teeth and groans. His body seizes up around the intrusion, clenching around it in a way that sets off fresh new ripples of hell with every contraction.
“Breathe,” Hannibal says, pulling his finger out and sinking it slowly back in. He pets a hand over Will’s flank. “Breathe, Will.”
“Can’t,” Will grits out, but he tries. He breathes through his nose, shallow quick breaths that do nothing to ease the spreading fire inside him.
Hannibal moves his finger around, spreading the poison into every inch of Will that he can reach. Will’s never realized quite how long his fingers are before. Pianist’s hands, he thinks deliriously. He’s never hated Hannibal’s hands before now.
“You can yell, if you like.”
Hannibal withdraws his hand, only to coat it anew. He’s careless in his hurry. There’s the sound of liquid hitting the floor, and the sickening scent of kerosene fills the room. Will’s starting to get dizzy from the fumes. It must be unbearable for Hannibal.
The hand returns, two fingers pressing in this time instead of one, terrible and unrelenting.
“Fuck you,” Will pants again. It makes him feel infinitesimally better, which is more than he can say of literally anything else right now. “Fuck you and the one fucking time you decide to be altruistic.”
He starts to struggle without meaning to. His stomach cramps, bright jags of pain spiking through him until he can feel it in his toes. His body is an animal that wants to get away from the source of its agony with a pure, single-minded determination. He pulls against ropes that hold fast, rips his skin against their jagged edges and doesn’t even feel it.
Hannibal puts a hand over the jut of Will’s hipbone, stilling his frantic motions just enough. Just enough that he can crook his fingers and find Will’s prostate with terrible accuracy. Will can’t tell if this is better or worse. The keen edge of pleasure tangles in his brain. It trips over itself. It gets caught against the other signals, nerves screaming alight as his body crumbles from the inside out.
“Fuck,” he sobs. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” a solid litany of it.
Hannibal scissors his fingers in Will’s body—too much, too fast. It would hurt even without the poison worming its way through his veins, corroding tissue and searing membranes. Now it’s unbearable. Every tear that Hannibal opens feels like it’s splitting him open from the inside out.
Nausea wars with pain. The edges of his vision grow dark, and Will clings to consciousness with every scrap of fight left in him. His ears are ringing. His throat is raw. Someone is speaking, but it all seems so far away.
“I will miss you,” Hannibal says quietly.
He doesn’t want to scream, but eventually he does. They burn together until the cops come put them out.