Nigel settles into life with Adam—what passes for it these days, and he stays as far away from Will as he possibly can. The man isn’t playing with a full deck, and even if he was, he’s still fucking Nigel’s boyfriend. Nigel’s killed men for less.
Will gives him the fucking creeps.
As far as he can tell, the feeling is mutual. Will hasn’t tried to talk to him since that first day on the beach when he sought Nigel out—Nigel still has the scar to show for that conversation.
So they live orbiting round the same center (Adam) while staying out of each other’s way as much as humanly possible. It works, but only to a point. There are times when they can’t avoid each other. Meals, for one thing. Hannibal insists on eating breakfast and dinner together like a fucked up farce of a family. Nigel has no problem telling him where he can shove his ideas of family, but Adam loves him. Adam loves the both of them, and he wants them all to get along—wants them to eat fucking dinner together like Leave It to Beaver—so Nigel goes. He goes and sits and eats their food, and he keeps his mouth shut even when he has to bite his fucking tongue to do it.
Christ, love has made a fool out of him.
There are still more times when he can’t avoid Will fucking Graham, rapist and asshole extraordinaire—times when they bump into one another, bare-chested and barefoot in the kitchen that looks like it’s come from some prissy catalogue. Times when Will tries to talk to him, and Nigel wishes he fucking wouldn’t.
Like right now.
“There’s supposed to be a full moon later tonight. Adam and I were going to walk along the beach and watch it rise, if you want to come.”
Nigel counts to ten and breathes through his fucking nose, slamming the plate in his hand down with more force than necessary. His hand twitches in the direction of the knife laying across the cutting board, the one he’d just been using to cut slices of onion for a sandwich because at least for lunch everyone leaves him the fuck alone. He sees Will’s eyes flicker in the direction of the knife block briefly, calculating the same thing Nigel is—can I do it before he does? But Will’s posture doesn’t change, and he doesn’t so much as make a move in its direction. He keeps leaning against the counter opposite Nigel, elbow draped casually over its bright tiles.
If he thought he could get away with it, if he thought Adam wouldn’t get hurt, Nigel would slit his throat. Maybe carve the smug smile right off his fucking face.
“Maybe,” Nigel says instead. He picks up the knife, but only to glide it through the sticky flesh of one of the tomatoes they’ve started growing in the garden.
“Great. I’ll come find you later.” Will sets his empty glass down in the sink with a fine clink. Of course the fucker can’t even wash his own goddamn dishes when Nigel is clearly using the fucking kitchen.
Nigel watches the skin split beneath the blade and pretends it’s Will Graham’s neck.
* * *
Later comes sooner than he could have hoped.
Will comes to get him, as promised. He and Adam both find Nigel where he’s sitting in the yard chain smoking cigarette after cigarette. He avoids actually being in the house as much as possible, and tonight is no exception. He looks up at the approaching footsteps to see Adam trailing a few steps behind Will, the both of them backlit by the motion-activated light on the porch.
“Ready to go?” Will asks.
“I guess,” Nigel says, stubbing out his latest cigarette in an overflowing ashtray.
With the light in his eyes, he can’t make out their faces. Unfortunately, he can’t miss the way their hands are intertwined. When he stands up to a chorus of joints cracking, every muscle in his body hurts—especially his heart.
Adam offers him a soft smile, and Nigel tries to give it back, but it feels out of tune. Adam’s smile falls. They leave it somewhere on the ground.
* * *
They’re sitting in the living room, cautiously sharing the same table. Will is bent over a bunch of fishing gear, while Nigel is doing his best to read one of the few decent books he’d found in the house. All of it is unbearable, cerebral crap, and he might have found the one thriller novel that made it past whatever pretentious screening procedure this lot has.
“Do you ever regret it?” Will asks. “Meeting him.”
“Never,” Nigel says without hesitation.
Nigel looks at him sidelong. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Something Nigel’s noticed living here, is that Will doesn’t look at people when he talks. Not unless they’re Hannibal, which he’s not. Will keeps fiddling with a fish hook while they talk, tying something bright and feathery around its barbed end with bright red thread. “Nothing. You’re lucky, then.”
Nigel snorts. “Yeah, lucky me.”
Will looks at him, then—actually looks—and it’s jarring. He’ll never get used to seeing those eyes, the same deep blue as Adam’s, in a monster’s face.
“You are,” Will insists. He goes back to his fish hook, tying something that looks like a chip of bone into its bright bouquet. “Sometimes I regret meeting Hannibal. You know I was married once before?”
Nigel didn’t know that.
“What happened?” he asks, curious despite himself.
Will doesn’t look up again, but his mouth twists into a wry smile. “Hannibal tried to have her murdered—her and her son.”
“What the fuck.”
“Right.” He huffs a laugh. Nigel wonders how he can laugh about that.
“It’s a fucking wonder that you haven’t killed him.”
Will shakes his head, turns his palms up in the universal gesture for helplessness. “Love makes monsters of us.”
The words sit between them, heavy as a leaden weight.
“I was married too,” Nigel offers finally. “In Romania.”
“What was she like?” Will asks.
“Fucking beautiful. Face of an angel and a mean right hook. She was a musician, a good one.”
“Sounds like a hell of a woman.”
“She was,” Nigel says, feeling pierced through with a stab of nostalgia.
“So what happened?”
Nigel snorts. “She ran off with some cocksucking American and fucking shot me.”
“That sounds familiar,” Will laughs, and Nigel doesn’t get a chance to ask what he means. “We’re not so different, you know. You and I are just alike.”
The words hit like ice water trickling down Nigel’s back. The illusion of camaraderie shatters around them, and Nigel comes back to himself in a rush. He remembers that this is the enemy, that they aren’t fucking friends.
“Fuck you,” he says, pushing his chair away from the table with a loud clatter. The legs squeak harsh and loud against the floor, ringing through the room. He jabs his finger in Will’s direction. “We’re nothing alike. Fuck you.”
* * *
Every word out of Will’s mouth is cancerous, spreading sticky into the dark reaches of Nigel’s mind. He can’t get the words out of his head, like some kind of fucking curse out of a storybook—you and I are just alike.
He stalks down to the kitchen late at night, when everyone is asleep or doing whatever it is they do behind closed doors.
(Nigel knows what they’re doing.)
(He doesn’t want to know.)
It feels like a stroke of good fortune that he runs into Will in the hallway, as if God himself is giving him the chance to take out some of the violent rage simmering beneath the skin. It’s a torture of its own having all this energy and nowhere to put it—no business to run, no one to fucking fight. As soon as he sees Will, Nigel forgets all about the drink he was going to find, the booze he was going to steal.
“You’re up late,” Will says.
Nigel corners him against the wall, eyes glittering in the dark. He bars his forearm against Will’s throat and pushes. “What is it with you? You have some kind of fucking death wish or something?” He presses harder, until he can feel the grind of fragile cartilage under his arm, until Will wheezes with every indrawn breath. It fills him with a vicious, brutal joy.
Will’s mouth opens. He tries to croak something out, but it comes out as a rasping rattle, barely anything more than breath.
“What’s the matter, no smart words for me tonight?” Nigel hisses close to his face.
There are no knives here now. No knives, no guns. Nothing but the brutal efficiency of fists.
Will takes a swing at him. His fist connects with the side of Nigel’s head before Nigel can grab his wrist. He lets go of his grip on Will’s throat in favor of taking that wrist and yanking it behind his back, turning Will around and slamming his head into the wall in the process. He twists the arm up, wrenching the shoulder he’s seen Will favoring until he forces a harsh, sharp bark of pain from him.
Will kicks out behind him, and Nigel takes a blow to the knee before crowding into Will’s space, pressing him against the wall and kicking his legs apart, widening his stance to the point of instability.
They’re both breathing hard now, ragged breaths mingling in the quiet hall.
“You going to kill me now that you have your chance?” Will’s voice sounds wrecked, cigarette smoke over broken glass, and it shouldn’t go to Nigel’s dick the way it does. Fucking and fighting have always lived so close together.
“I should,” he says, twisting Will’s wrist higher. If he twists it any more, he’ll break it. He wants to. He lets go instead, shoves Will away from him, not giving a shit if it means he shoves him right into the wall again.
He’s not actually sure who starts it. One second they’re staring at each other, panting in the darkened hallway. The next, they’re on each other. Will has his hand on Nigel’s hard-on, and Nigel has his hand down the back of Will’s pants, squeezing his ass while he shoves his tongue down Will’s throat.
He groans into Will’s mouth, pulling his hand free so he can work the front of Will’s fly open. He shoves them down unceremoniously, pants and boxers, trapping Will’s legs in the cage of fabric.
“We’re going to do this?” Will asks. He runs his fingers up the bare skin of Nigel’s arms, raising gooseflesh wherever he touches. Nigel bats his hand away so he doesn’t have to fucking think about it.
He shoves Will’s shoulder, hard. “Fuck you. Turn the fuck around and shut up.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather I fuck you? Don’t you want to know what Adam sees in me? Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
Nigel can hear the smug fucking smirk in Will’s voice, and he gets his hand around the other man’s throat to tamp down all the ways he is exactly that. The way he’s dying to know what Adam sees in this fucking monster.
“I will fucking kill you, do you hear me? Do not fucking play with me. I may have to put up with you. I may have to deal with you fucking my angel right down the hall, but you don’t say shit about him to me, you got it? He’s not part of what we’re doing.”
Will tilts his head, odd and fey in the shallow moonlight that reaches them here in the hall. “And what is it that we’re doing?”
“Fucking, darling, if you’ll turn around and kindly shut up.”
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” Will asks, and it startles a bark of laughter from Nigel.
He turns around and braces his hands on the wall, and Nigel grabs him around the ribs, splaying his fingers as he leans in to bite the place where Will’s shoulder and neck meet. He tastes like skin and sweat—he smells like Adam, like the soap and shampoo they all share.
Will arches into the touch, body rising to meet Nigel’s. They both hiss at the contact when Nigel’s cloth-covered erection meets Will’s bare ass. Will moans at the feeling of Nigel’s teeth in his skin, and Nigel bites down harder.
He’s not really looking to drag this out. This is a bad fucking idea, and he’s not nearly drunk enough to be doing this shit, so he yanks down his fly and pulls his cock out before he can change his mind. He sucks two fingers into his mouth and trails them down Will’s crack until he finds the spot he’s looking for, setting his fingers against the pucker there and pushing in until the resistance gives.
“Not going to fuck me dry?” Will asks, cocky and a little breathless.
“No,” Nigel says simply. “I’m not you.”
He’s not. He might fucking hate Will Graham’s goddamn cannibal guts, but he’s not going to hurt him like this. So he spits on his fingers and works him open steadily, holding him still as he pants and fucks himself back on Nigel’s fingers.
“Come on,” he says. “Come on, do it.”
Nigel pulls his fingers out with a growl—too quick, as Will winces. He spits in his hand again and uses it to slick the head of his cock, pulling one of Will’s cheeks aside so he can guide it in. Will groans at the intrusion, letting his head thump noisily against the wall. Nigel doesn’t give him any time to adjust, just grabs him by the hips and starts fucking him hard.
Will is awkwardly hobbled by his pants around his knees. He can barely move, can only stand there and fucking take it, and Nigel doesn’t mind that one bit.
“So fucking tight,” Nigel hisses in his ear. “What’s the matter, your cannibal boyfriend doesn’t give it to you good?”
“Better than you,” Will drawls.
Nigel gets a fistful of his hair and wrenches his head back, driving into him harder, pushing him into the wall on every thrust. “What was that?” Nigel asks.
“I said you fuck like a girl.”
“Do I, now?”
It’s less convincing when Will is making little mewling sounds every time Nigel fucks into him, when his fingernails are scrabbling for purchase against the smooth wall. Nigel hopes he scratches the fucking paint.
Nigel wasn’t expecting to hear that voice—Adam’s voice, uncertain and quivering. The hand he’s got in Will’s hair goes slack, and Will pulls himself free, grabbing for his pants as Nigel slips out of him.
“Adam?” Will asks. “Hey, baby. It’s alright.”
Will looks at Nigel, sending him a warning look, as if Nigel needs it. As if Nigel’s done fucking anything in the last few months except try to make Adam happy.
“Hey, angel,” Nigel says, trying not to feel awkward about the way he’s still got his fucking dick out, the way his angel had just caught him balls-deep in another man. Hannibal might know the etiquette for this, but Nigel sure as fuck doesn’t. And Adam’s still standing at the bottom of the stairs, faintly shivering in his pajamas.
Nigel holds out his hand. “Do you want to come over here and talk about it?”
Adam shakes his head. He turns and runs back up the stairs.
“This is your fucking fault,” Nigel hisses at Will.
That’s bullshit and they both know it, but Will doesn’t call him on it. He sighs, wincing as he tucks himself back into his pants. Nigel feels a childish, fleeting satisfaction that he’s left Will sore, in spite of everything. “I’ll go talk to him.”
Nigel sighs, and it ends on a growl. “Fuck. No, I’ll talk to him. You’re not the reason he’s upset. Goddammit.”
A look passes between them, an understanding, and Nigel hates it. The last thing he needs is anything more in common with Will fucking Graham.
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It would have been too much to ask that he’d find Adam alone in their room, probably. “Their” room is a fiction anyway—it’s always been Adam’s room in name and his room in practice.
He goes upstairs, and Adam is nowhere to be found. He follows the soft glow of light to the door of Will and Hannibal’s room. He only pauses for a second before reaching for the knob, only to be stopped with a hand on his arm.
“Don’t,” Will says.
Nigel shakes him off. “He was fucking upset. I’m going to go make it right.”
“He was upset,” Will agrees, pressing a hand to the door. “You know what he’s doing in there.”
The words light a spark of rage that jolts through him like lightning. He’d love to say he’s angry at Will; that would make everything so much easier. His hand tightens around the cool metal of the doorknob. Finally, he lets it go with a growl, giving the door a thump with his fist for good measure.
“So what?” Nigel asks, voice rough. “You gonna go in there and double team him? Make him suck your cock?”
“Not tonight,” Will says, casual as anything. No denial, no apology.
Will reaches for him slowly, telegraphing his intentions, giving Nigel every chance to pull away. Treating Nigel the way he’d treat a spooked animal, wild and vicious. Like one of the dogs. Like Adam. He cups the back of Nigel’s head with a careful hand, sinking his fingers into his hair and scratching blunt nails lightly over his scalp.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Nigel growls, but it comes out soft.
“Giving you something else to think about.”
Will leans in and kisses him.
It happens so slowly that Nigel can’t say it was a surprise. He has plenty of time to pull away—to do anything but stand there, tilting his head and parting his lips like a fucking sucker.
He expects Will to kiss him hard and rough, to pick up where they left off downstairs, but he does no such thing. When Nigel tries to speed up, Will just goes slower, licking into his mouth, exploring the crevices and the grooves of his teeth. Finding every spot that makes him moan around the tongue in his mouth.
It goes on until Nigel shoves him away, breathing hard. He wipes his mouth on the back of his arm.
“What the fuck,” he says again, but it’s barely a question this time. It’s a statement of fact, of finding himself somewhere right is wrong and up is down and nothing fucking makes sense.
“I can go,” Will says. “You can go.”
And it’s too much to hope for, to think he means for good, but for a second, Nigel wants it. He wants to turn around and walk out the door of this madhouse, to get on a plane and never come back. He wants it so much it sings through his veins, feels it like longing for a hit of cocaine.
But maybe it’s a second too long. Maybe it just hurts too much to finally put a name to the longing and realize its name is surrender. The idea of leaving Adam here and never dealing with any of this shit again hits him with a relief so profound he’s nearly weak in the knees with it.
He hates himself for it.
Maybe that’s why he buckles forward and presses his lips to Will’s, why he slips a hand up the back of his shirt and smooths it down a sharp shoulder blade, across the curve of a spine. Maybe that’s why he crushes Will to him, both of them hard and pressing into each other while they suck kisses into each other’s skin.
They stumble down the hallway, knocking into walls and alarming the dogs. Nigel opens the door to the room he never shared with Adam, and they crash inside. Their clothes make it to the floor. Their bodies make it to the bed. Somehow one of them remembers to close the door.
“What’re you getting out of this exactly?” Nigel asks. He doesn’t want to know but he can’t help asking, getting closer without needing or wanting to. Will really is a cancer, a fatal fucking infection that seeps into everyone around him at every turn.
Will shrugs, that casual insouciance that Nigel has grown to fucking hate. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Nigel flexes his fingers, grinding them into the meat of Will’s shoulders as he deliberately presses their bodies together, touching at the thighs, stomachs, cocks, chests. “You think you’re so fucking smart, don’t you? So much smarter and better than everyone else. So much different.”
Will laughs like bone rattle. “No, I really don’t. You think I don’t know you all think I’m crazy? You think I can’t see how people look at me?”
He strains upward, trying to push Nigel off him, but Nigel is bigger and stronger. Will is thin and reedy below him. There’s a hollowness in his belly, in between the places where his too-sharp hip bones poke into Nigel.
“Jesus, don’t you fucking eat anything?” Nigel complains. “How are you so damn bony?”
Will doesn’t answer. He just surges up one more time, capturing Nigel’s mouth with his own and drinking down the rest of his words. He kisses him slow and deep, probing with his tongue, licking into Nigel’s mouth. Nigel sucks on his tongue, hard enough to draw a muffled grunt from him. Hard enough that Will’s hands come up to grab his ass, dragging Nigel closer, pressing their cocks together.
It’s different, seeing Will laid bare in the warm light of the bedroom. It’s different than rutting mindlessly in the dark, where Will could be nothing more than the nameless, faceless shape of everything wrong in Nigel’s life. Here, the lamplight paints his skin in hues of gold. Everywhere Nigel puts his hands is creamy and soft. Even the dusting of black hair on his chest and arms catches the light, illuminated and gilded. It’s hard to hold onto his anger here. It’s so slippery when he can see every expression that flits across Will’s face, when he can put his hands into the divots of scars on his body.
“A stabbing,” Will says when Nigel touches his shoulder. “When I was a cop.”
Nigel touches his face.
“The man who tried to kill my wife.” A pause. “I killed him.”
Nigel can’t help the feral smirk that crawls across his face at that. He presses a kiss to the scar on impulse. “Good.”
There’s a long, angry scar bisecting Will’s stomach. It reminds Nigel of the C-section scars he’s seen on some girls. He runs his thumb over it, feeling the ridged line of scar tissue.
Will shivers when he presses into it. “Hannibal,” he says softly.
Nigel shudders and bends to kiss him, to make him stop talking.
There’s lube in a drawer in the nightstand—he can’t help the pang that hits when they reach for it at the same time, when he can’t forget that they both know where it lives. He flips open the cap and drizzles it over his fingers, scooting between Will’s thighs and bending one of his knees up to his chest. Will watches him, pliant and trusting, wearing an expression that looks too much like pity.
Nigel can’t look at it, so he nuzzles along the long scar on Will’s belly instead. Will’s hands twist in his hair, and Nigel runs his tongue over scar tissue to watch the way Will jerks and keens above him. He works his fingers into Will’s hole—still loose and open, still sore, if the soft catch of his breath is anything to go by.
He bites down on the scar and crooks his fingers inside Will, pressing his fingers hard against his prostate, and Will falls apart so beautifully, crying out as his cock dribbles clear fluid on his belly. Nigel mouths at the skin of Will’s stomach, wringing more soft sobs from him. His own cock twitches in sympathy, with the need to be buried in a warm body. His heart aches, and he nearly chokes on his shame.
It ’s just this once. It’s just a fuck.
They can use each other, and that’s just fine. Nigel gets someone in his bed, and Will gets—whatever the fuck he gets out of playing these games with all of them.
He slides up the bed to kiss Will again, fingers still buried inside him, massaging him from the inside. Will’s eyes are squeezed shut, damp tears staining the lashes, lips flushed red where he pants and shapes words with no sound behind them. He’s fucking crying.
“I can’t do this.” He moves to get up, pulling his fingers from Will like an apology.
“You can,” Will says, wrapping his limbs around Nigel and pulling him close.
His tears are wet against Nigel’s face, and it feels like getting punched in the stomach. It feels like being shot.
“You can be someone who does this. You already are.” Will tries to kiss him, and when he turns away, Will simply presses soft kisses to the skin of his cheeks, his temple, his jaw—anywhere he can reach. “Just close your eyes,” Will whispers.
He should stop. He should leave. He wants to leave, but then he thinks of Adam down the hall, the loud moans he can hear ringing out in the quiet house now that they’ve stopped—the ones even the doors can’t block out.
Will watches him with knowing eyes. God, Nigel fucking hates him.
He squeezes his eyes shut tight.
“Does it ever stop hurting?” Nigel asks.
“Do you want the lie or the truth?”
He shakes his head.
“It never stops hurting, but I can make it hurt differently,” Will says.
Nigel opens his eyes, and he sees.
In the future, when he thinks back on this, he won’t even be able to say that he was pushed. All he can say (to justify it to himself; to Adam, who will never ask for a reason) is that he’s trapped at the end of the world, in a cage made out of love. That the bare white ceiling made him feel like he was drowning, and he jumped into the arms of a blue-eyed demon with a ruined smile and glass in his heart.
Will gets up and moves so he’s sitting astride Nigel. Will looks down at him, tender and cruel, before reaching back and guiding Nigel’s cock inside. He sinks down in a quiet huff of breath.
Nigel’s hands fly to his hips, grabbing them on instinct. He bucks up, and Will grinds down, and they make enough noise to drown out everything else.