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Hannibal first scents the heavy, sticky weight of fever on Will in his office, a draft of it wafting from beneath the curls on his nape. It's flu season, and Will certainly doesn't take adequate care of himself in many ways, but Hannibal knows this is different.

His subtle scenting doesn't go unchallenged; it's impolite of him to make such a show of it, an uncharacteristic lapse in his self control.

"Did you just smell me?" Will asks shortly.

"Difficult to avoid," Hannibal muses, "that smells like something with a ship on the bottle."

Will snorts. They both know cologne is the least of what Hannibal's nose can pick up. "I keep getting it for Christmas."

The moment hangs suspended before Hannibal, and he turns it, examines it idly. Flips it like a coin. "It's not just that," he admits.

"No?" Will is pretending interest.

"No, I smell something else."

Will sighs. He's never let their differing designations affect his behavior one bit. "I smell an incoming elaboration."

"Did you know researchers are studying dogs' abilities to detect cancer via smell?"

"I had heard."

"Well, it's not cancer," Hannibal reassures. "But I suspect you have some sort of infection, Will. Have your headaches become more frequent recently?"

Immediately, Will's attention shifts from reluctant to engaged. He's disarmed, body language completely changed, guarded to comfort seeking. "I - yes, actually, bad ones. And dizziness. And I told you about seeing Hobbs. I think I might be losing time."

"Yes," Hannibal hums thoughtfully. "Headache and hallucinations indicates brain. May I recommend you a neurologist?"

"I'd appreciate that," Will murmurs. He still looks - solicitous. "Would you come with me? I'd like a second opinion: I know you've done extensive research in Omega Neurology while you were an attending."

"I'd be happy to." Hannibal knows well that the suppressants all alphas and omegas take as a matter of course make medical care more complicated, and it makes sense to have someone well-versed in the field on hand. Even taking that into account, he's pleased Will is asking for help: he's staunchly independent, viciously protective of his privacy. Their conversations are clearly having an effect.

Will is still eyeing him, expression shrewd. Hannibal lets him look his fill.

"What if it's not a fever?" Will asks, voice very calm.

"Then the neurologist will explore other options."

Will's fear smells of burnt sage, with an aniseed quality to it. Hannibal is more circumspect about his inhalation this time.

"And what if I'm just crazy?" Will whispers, so quiet it's almost as if he hoped Hannibal wouldn't hear. He's facing the windows, the cool light rendering him a slender shadow, his expression just picked out in the angle of his chin. He looks forlorn, and defiant at once.

"Mental illness is an illness like any other. It has causes and treatments. And doctors, who guide your care."

"Don't let them miss anything, right?" Will pleads.

"Never," Hannibal murmurs.

With that, Will nods, and Hannibal moves to call Doctor Sutcliffe.


Hannibal and Donald Sutcliffe stand side by side in the booth as Will's form disappears slowly into the MRI machine before them. He'd been uncharacteristically subdued whilst being admitted, naturally calmed by Hannibal's presence even in such a vulnerable position.

Beside Hannibal now, Sutcliffe is watching the monitors as the MRI starts to whir and thud, his small eyes picking over the emerging images like a gull eyeing scraps from a kill.

Hannibal is watching Will, on the internal camera feed of the MRI. Even on the grainy black and white image, he looks tired. He smells so strongly of fever today it's nearly unpleasant, or it would be if he weren't olfactorily designed to smell good to Hannibal. Hormonal suppressants can only do so much. Hannibal knows Will is steadfastly routine with them, he has to be to even be within ten feet of Quantico, but it's rare nowadays for anyone to choose to go suppressant free.

Sutcliffe is still studying his file. "He presented very late in adolescence," he comments.

"He did, at least hormonally." Though the parameters of gender within their particular binary are generous and multifaceted, Hannibal understands Will was identified male at birth as a result of the ambiguous genitalia consistent with male-identifying omegas – or intersex betas. Hannibal personally always presented 'male', and so could either have been interpreted beta or male alpha before puberty, potential developing preferences notwithstanding.

Musing on the complexities of the subject has always been interesting to him – a thousand different genders and presentations, all with their own nuances - but Hannibal is far more enthralled at the images that flash up onto the screen now: Will's incomparable brain. Incomparable, and laid siege to by something or other.

Sutcliffe stops fussing with Will's file. "Have you ever had an MRI?" he asks. "As an alpha -"

Like most of the population, he is a beta - hormonally neutral. Hannibal raises his chin as he considers the presumptiveness of the question.

"I have, and I can tell you with conviction the differences are more or less unnoticeable." He doesn't have time to go into hormonal shifts with the good doctor right now - not while he's so concerned about Will. "The left hemisphere of his brain is entirely inflamed," he realizes aloud.

"Still treatable with an immediate course of anti-inflammatories and steroids," Sutcliffe says quickly. "Though I'm not sure there won't be permanent effects."

"Such as?"

"Fatigue, weakness, sensory issues, and hormonal effects are all common, and that's not even counting the emotional disregulation." He's tapping on the monitor now to zoom in on the scans. "With his omega status..."

"What kind of hormonal effects?"

"His levels may be disregulated for some time after the infection. It would probably be advisable to discontinue the suppressants entirely during treatment." Sutcliffe pauses. "It would have to be done in isolation for the protection of the medical staff."

"You're taking him in then?" Something possessive prickles in the back of his mind; something unpleasant and unrecognizable.

"I'll present it as an option," Sutcliffe says. There is usually more of an allowance made for omegan heats – having them come to full fruition in a hospital where any number of the patients may be unable to take suppressants makes for a high-risk environment.

"I venture it safe to assume he won't agree."

"I wouldn't presume to speak for him."

"I would," Hannibal assures. He would presume a great deal, when it comes to Will.

Shrugging in deference, Sutcliffe observes the rest of the slides, making notes as he goes. Usually there'd of course be a technician attending this, but Hannibal had called in a favor to ensure an immediate diagnosis – as well as discretion. He continues to watch Will through the feed.

On the monitor, he seems almost eerily still. Hannibal studies his perfect face, and plans.

Will picks up his prescription after some quite heated arguments with Sutcliffe about being admitted to hospital, but concedes to allow Hannibal to drive him home. It's a quiet drive back to Wolf Trap, the soft classical music on the Bentley's radio speaking for them.

"Congratulations, Will," Hannibal says eventually, "you are not insane. How do you feel?"

"Terrible," Will says bluntly. "But I suppose the medication will take care of that."

"And psychologically?"

"Relieved," Will whispers. "Thank you, for telling me. For - looking out for me." He seems uncharacteristically shy about his gratitude. It stirs Hannibal, as Will always stirs Hannibal.

"Always," he assures, "your well-being is at the forefront of all my motivations."

Will makes a noise. He's not quite sure what it is. Possibly disbelief.

Hannibal reaches over and touches the back of his hand. "Are you all right?"

"Not yet," Will replies. "Doctor Lecter, about what Doctor Sutcliffe told me..."

"Yes, Will?"

"I've been on suppressants for over twenty years," Will murmurs.

"Most of us have," Hannibal reminds him. "Our little façade of civility has stuck."

"People like to tell horror stories about going suppressant-free."

"Don't tell me you're scared."

"I'm a little scared." Will itches his chest absently. "I can't remember ever even having had a heat."

"Most people don't, these days." Hannibal gives him a gentling smile. "You've been on suppressants for so long; it may even take so long for them to leave your system entirely that you will finish your treatment before heat can set in."

Will doesn't answer right away. "Doctor Sutcliffe didn't make it sound like it would be that easy." He sighs.

"We will do everything we can to make things more comfortable."

"And by we, you mean -"

"I mean I will. I am entirely at your disposal, Will."

That makes him quiet again. He shifts in his seat, distinctly flushed. Discreetly, Hannibal breathes in.

Will already smells clearer, softly spiced like cinnamon. His anxiety has eased since the diagnosis. Hannibal can see the relief in the graceful arch of his fingers on the prescription bag. Hannibal is relieved too - though a reality bending illness might have been a convenient alibi at one time, his plans for Will are evolving daily.

"How long do you think I have until the suppressants are out of my system?" Will murmurs after another moment.

"I'd say a few days. We should call Jack, schedule you some leave. It shouldn't really come out of your Family Leave if it's medical, so don't worry about that."

"Not like I have any other use for it," Will mutters.

Hannibal affects surprise, though he's already aware of the source of Will's bitterness: his nose picks up more than cancer. "No?"

"I'm infertile," Will mutters, "found out a couple of years ago, routine medical turned up some weird results. Suppressants are just to control the heats."

"Does that upset you?"

"I think of it as more of an insurance policy. Best for everyone." But not for him, Hannibal intuits, thinking of how desperately hostile he'd seemed at the accusation of feeling fatherly toward Abigail. Adoption, Hannibal knows, is his only foil.

"Does Jack know?"

Will shakes his head at that.

"No one does. Will you talk to him?" Will whispers. "About the hallucinations? Make him understand that it wasn't all me, it was-" he drifts off, tipping his head back into the headrest.

"Of course," Hannibal assures softly. "The medicines you have are the best available, they'll calm the inflammation in no time at all."

"That's not exactly what I'm worried about."


Will cuts him a sidelong glance. "You said you were at my disposal," he murmurs.

Returning the glance before looking back to the road, Hannibal struggles to repress his smile. He didn't think Will would ask, not so plainly.

"And I meant it," he assures him, "in whatever capacity you require."

Will just makes a quiet noise of acknowledgment; that's about the limit of his plain speaking, clearly. "Thank you, Hannibal."

"It's my pleasure," Hannibal murmurs back.

They're quiet then, the prickly winter landscape gliding past. Will's little house appears adrift within the fallow fields, slowly swelling within the windshield as Hannibal turns down his lane. It's a perfect place for Will, he thinks, and a perfect place for enduring a lonely heat with complete privacy.

"You should ask Alana to take the dogs while you deal with this, Will," Hannibal realizes.

Will grimaces, clearly realizing he's correct. "I don't really want to explain myself to her. I could call my neighbor."

"Either way, you won't be in much condition to see to them."

"Of course," Will murmurs. "You've thought of everything."

"I'll bring you meals," Hannibal replies. "Then I'll have thought of everything."

"You really don't have to," Will says quickly.

"I know that."

Pulling up, Hannibal gets out of the car and comes to the passenger door, opening it for Will while he scrabbles for his satchel in the footwell. He stands quickly, eyes darting to Hannibal's then back to his house. As ever, he's protective, private.

"Will?" Hannibal waits.

"Come in," Will mutters. "I can make you some coffee at least."

"I don't wish to intrude if you're tired."

"Not so tired that I can't make a cup of coffee."

"In that case, thank you, I'd like that."

Hannibal listens to Will making coffee and speaking on the phone with his neighbor while surveying Will's small living room. He relishes the opportunity, as ever, to saturate himself in his scent, sweeter by the moment. If he does have a heat setting in – and Hannibal rather hopes he does - it might be better for him to move some of his things upstairs; to feel secure. He ought to suggest it. Distantly, he recognizes the idea for the protective instinct that it is.

It's that instant that he wonders what would happen if he discontinued his own suppressants. Perhaps he's been wondering it all along. He sighs to himself. He ought to have predicted this.

Wordlessly, he turns to the scent of Will to accept a cup of coffee. Will smiles, looking exhausted. "Neighbor is coming by with his truck to pick up the dogs."

"Today?" Hannibal raises his brows.

"Tomorrow morning," Will answers.

"You think it might be setting in?"

"Of course not! You said it might take days." But Will's voice doesn't sound entirely sure.

"So this is a precaution. Is there anything else you need?"

"Nothing we haven't already discussed." Will is blushing faintly, can't quite meet his gaze.

"Of course - and as Doctor Sutcliffe warned you, things can be a little uncomfortable at first. If you feel the need for a sedative to ease the symptoms, don't hesitate to call me."

Will shakes his head automatically. "Thank you. Should I come to my session tomorrow or would you rather rearrange?"

How Hannibal wants to answer that and how he should answer that are two very different things. "I'll keep it open for you, let me know tomorrow how you're feeling."

Will sips his coffee. "I will."

He seems to remember himself, gesturing Hannibal into an arm chair that he takes a blanket off first, presumably to spare Hannibal dog hair. It's a futile gesture, but touching.

Even so, Hannibal sits down pertly, crossing one leg over the other. When Will sits on the couch opposite, they mirror their set up in Hannibal's office. Perhaps it's instinct by now. Hannibal sips his coffee, only slightly over roasted. Will is learning to like the finer things, it seems. He's got taste, Hannibal knows already, but he has a self-imposed strictness. Hannibal isn't sure how much of it stems from growing up poor, or growing up omega.

Probably more the former than the latter. He'd presented so late, Hannibal knows. One of their more difficult therapy sessions: just another thing about me that was strange.

Will had been intensely adversarial, that night. The thought makes Hannibal touch his tongue behind his teeth, scenting that prickling tension on him again. He's suddenly glad Alana isn't coming over for the dogs. He's not sure he wants another alpha around Will right now. She wouldn't be affected with her own suppressants in place, but Will might feel vulnerable. That thought makes his hackles raise.

"Doctor Lecter?" Will prompts quietly, interrupting his thoughts.

"May I take the liberty of checking your cupboards before I leave?" Hannibal asks. "To see what might compliment your stores."

"Yes?" Will's brows raise. "You were serious about bringing me food? Casseroles for the fridge like the church ladies did when my dad died?"

Hannibal bristles slightly at that, shielding it by rising from his chair and proceeding to complete his survey. "Hopefully it will be somewhat more palatable."

"I don't doubt it, not much could live up to your cooking." Will smiles at that, tone so close to flirting it stings. Hannibal sees it as a placation tactic, but allows it to soothe him: his own instincts are coming to the fore.

He leaves Will in his chair to go into his kitchen, trailing a hand along the back of his chair as he goes. He's not used to being ruffled, and Will manages it frequently. He even seems to enjoy it.

Turning it over mentally, Hannibal opens the cupboards to do his inventory.


As much as he loves them, Will is partially relieved to send the dogs off with his neighbor Greg the next morning; they're a mixture of intimidated and intrigued by however his scent is changing, and a couple had started bickering amongst themselves on their morning walk, protective of him.

He shouldn't have even taken them on their morning walk, probably; though the cocktail of drugs Doctor Sutcliffe has prescribed is certainly powerful enough to be felt immediately. And the suppressants - he's wondering now if they've not been working quite as efficiently as designed for some time. He's certainly felt markedly different almost immediately.

His heightened senses would only add to the hallucinatory effect if he had an episode now. He's almost certain, to that end, that he should cancel his appointment with Doctor Lecter. Nothing good will come of a psychiatric session with an alpha at this point. But he wants to see him, to talk with him.

He wants a lot, right now. It's making his head feel very full. He could use a psychiatrist, he thinks.

So when it's time for the drive to Baltimore, he showers and dresses as quickly as he can in his now-empty house and heads north. Even the drive feels exhausting, but when he arrives at Hannibal's office, he's waiting with coffee and a smile.

"I heard your car in the drive," Hannibal murmurs. "It's fresh."

"Thank you," Will murmurs. He can't quite meet Hannibal's eye. Kindness always does that to him.

They settle into their respective seats. Will inhales the steam rising off his coffee, still not looking up. This close to Hannibal, he feels suddenly hot, ears burning. Hannibal, who knows everything that is happening to him.

"How are you feeling today, Will? Surprised you made the trip."

"I feel fine. Restless. The dogs are at the neighbor's now."

He glances up finally, quick enough to see Hannibal inhaling slowly.

"Don't know what you expect to get out of that," Will says tartly.

"I'm inclined to disagree with you."

"What? You think I do know?"

"There are very few things you don't know, Will."

Caught, he supposes. "How does it smell?" he asks quietly.

"Warm," Hannibal answers after a brief pause. "Like cinnamon and sea salt."

"And the fever?"

"Sweet, like summer fruit."

"Starting to ferment," Will says dryly, "I feel rotten."

"Is this the first time you've entertained that feeling?"

"No, I've felt it for a while," Will sighs. "Since I've been sick, I suppose."

"Can you now put aside thoughts of rottenness? Perhaps apply another term?"

"I always suspected rottenness was my problem, you see, Doctor. What else could it be? Overripe?" He can't help but curl his lip slightly at the word.

The doctor is silent for a moment. "That's not the impression I get from you," he murmurs.

Something about the pitch in his voice, low and gentle, vibrates in Will's own chest. He swallows at the thought.

"Pray tell."

Hannibal hums. "Something delicate, yet hardy. Winter apples, pale gold and blush pink."

Will's breath catches. "Withered on the branch?"

"Still crisp, a little tart. Not everyone is looking for sweetness."

Will has to laugh. "Right."

But still, he's pinking. He can almost feel the heat escaping his body in waves, carrying his supposed scent. He closes his eyes, feeling sweat on his chest. This must be what torture is like.

"Is this the encephalitis?" he asks Hannibal, feeling strangely like he's pleading.

"It's eight pm, and you're in Baltimore Maryland, and your name is Will Graham," Hannibal says solemnly.

"I know who I am," Will murmurs. He feels vibrating, like he's shedding heat. It's the encephalitis. It has to be. The alternative is that his suppressants are wearing off already, and that's just not... an option he's ready to deal with.

He forces himself to focus, and across from himself, he sees that Hannibal is holding the arms of his chair, very, very lightly. His posture is perfect, but his nostrils flare.

"I'm sorry," Will says distantly, "I was probably too sick to come today - I just... didn't want to be alone."

"There is no apology necessary," Hannibal murmurs. "It's progress that you're reaching out." He stands slowly from his chair, pacing over to his desk where he touches two fingers to the corner of his desk calendar. Will is struck by the paranoid notion that he's trying to but space between them, and it grates on him. "If you'd like, Will, I could come to visit you tomorrow evening after my appointments."

"I don't know if I'll be up to it," Will says, honestly.

He watches out of the corner of his eye as Hannibal turns, graceful and still, to look at him again. The action triggers the faintest hint on the air of his clean, earthy scent. Will inhales audibly, to his own ears at least.

He tries to hold himself fast, but it's hard when Hannibal smells like that. He pushes himself a bit unsteadily to his feet. His head spins a moment while he levels, but he feels a little clearer then, watching Hannibal. He walks to join him at his desk, telegraphing his movements so that he can move away if desired. When Hannibal doesn't move, Will perches on the edge, bracing his palms against the lip and stretching his neck.

"There's a certain vulnerability to my particular genetic disposition," he says, "sometimes I resent it, I think."

"No more than any alpha, I would imagine," Hannibal comments mildly, "in fact, I might argue that all alphas and omegas could come to resent their susceptibility to their genetic makeup."

"What do you resent about yours?" He can't help that it's a bit pointed of a question.

He watches Hannibal wet his lips with the point of his pink tongue. "The lack of control."

"Even with suppressants?"

"Occasionally." He seems guarded at the line of questioning, though he's playing at relaxed. Will has the most awful urge to try to rattle him. He raises his chin, baring his throat.

Their eyes meet. Hannibal scents him where he stands, tongue against the back of his teeth and lips just parted. He looks fierce and regal, openly appraising.

"Feeling vulnerable, Will?" he murmurs.

The tone strikes that chord in Will again, and he nods.

"And if you met someone you trusted to protect you?"

"That doesn't mean I should trust them."

"It doesn't mean you shouldn't."

"Abandonment requires expectation," Will echoes, dryly.

"I see," Hannibal murmurs. He studies Will for a moment. "The likelihood of a suppressant free alpha in your proximity during your heat will be unlikely, in any case, I imagine."

"Maybe they wouldn't even have to be suppressant free," Will counters, his nervousness audible in his voice.

"In order to do what, Will?"

Will resists the urge to whine. "I don't know."

Hannibal keeps watching him, eyes bird sharp. Will doesn't have the vocabulary for what he wants, and it's entirely frustrating. He feels dumb and animal, a feeling he's actively avoided all his life. He pushes himself to his feet and turns, bracing his hands on the edge of the desk again and letting his head drop between them. He feels hot again, all over the back of his neck, his brow, his chest. He closes his eyes and tries to breathe.

"I shouldn't have come," he mutters.

Hannibal doesn't answer. As the silence stretches, Will looks up over his shoulder beseechingly.

"I'm glad you did," Hannibal says, simply, "But I think you feel worse than you'd like me to believe."

Will laughs mirthlessly. "My life story."

"Go home for now," Hannibal urges him softly. "Keep taking the medications for your infection. This needs to run its course."

"Yeah, I- you're right. Thank you."

"I will come visit you tomorrow," Hannibal murmurs.

"Thank you." Will pulls his jacket back on, feeling skittish; a rodent fleeing the flashlight beam of Hannibal's kindness. He can't quite look at how much he wants it in the light.

Hannibal walks him to the door, and they pause in the hallway, eyes snagging. He seems so intent. Before Will can look away, Hannibal reaches out to touch his forehead, testing the temperature. It feels so good Will practically gasps.

Hannibal leaves his hand there for a few long seconds. "Make sure you stay on top of your medication," he says gently, "let me know when you are home."

Will feels it reverberate like an order, though it's a tender one. He nods, and makes his escape, though the feeling of Hannibal's cool hand on his overheated skin lingers for the duration of his drive home.

It helped him concentrate on the drive, but he's relieved to finally reach his own little home. He quickly takes his meds and drags himself through the routine of showering and eating a basic dinner.

Doctor Sutcliffe had assured him the various steroids and antibiotics he'd prescribed would work quickly. So far, he still feels like he's just come off a rollercoaster, stomach pitching and vision strange. What he hasn't felt is the curious, disorienting feeling of lost time. It's such a relief he actually smiles to himself. He couldn't have gone on like that for much longer. His mind is all he's ever had, the thought he might be losing it too much to bear.

Setting his dishes in the drying rack, he taps the bottle of hormone suppressants on his kitchen counter with a tentative finger. Skids the container back and forth and thinks idly: he could take them, risk adverse effects. It would probably be fine, he reasons, and he'd cut out the discomfort he can already feel starting in the base of his spine. His inconvenient physiology aside, he's not at risk of pregnancy if he undergoes his heat, merely a lonely, uncomfortable few days.

Will should be used to feeling lonely, he tells himself. And uncomfortable. But he's never gone through this before.

He's afraid, he acknowledges again: he's seen enough of the few and far between results of unsuppressed heats gone wrong to make him cautious for life. He values control, as someone who's had too little of it. But that just makes him think of Hannibal, earlier.

He sighs, and skids the little pill bottle into the drawer. Might as well err on the side of caution; get it over with. The part of his brain that retains every piece of information he's ever ingested is reciting him various studies about the supposed long term effects of hormone control in omegas, none of them pleasant. He's never been most omegas, he's only ever been himself. And he's never met an alpha he trusted, either.

He has met a few he wanted, though his predilections aren't contained purely to alphas, or men. Mostly, Will has always known he was... difficult. He's been assured plenty. But... not by everyone.

"Don't," he warns himself, going to get his laptop so he can mark in bed.

The thought still doesn't leave him when he's done, though. He's hot all over, prickled with cramps in his lower stomach. His head aches, and everything is uncomfortably clear even when he takes his glasses off. Hannibal shouldn't come, he thinks. With a sharp stab of self-loathing, he sends him a message.

Doctor Lecter, Don't think I'll be up to company tomorrow, feeling pretty terrible. Thanks, Will

A large part of him regrets it as soon as he sends it. But, it will be better this way. Less messy. Will knows what he wants, and he knows he won't be able to keep from asking for it in that state - he can barely keep from asking for it now, so pathetically grateful for even a modicum of positive attention.

He can remember each drop of kindness from the doctor with its own sparkling clarity. He recalls each one now as he settles down to sleep. They settle in his chest like tiny sparks.

In the night, they must catch into a full blown fire, because Will wakes in a pool of sweat. Not an uncommon occurrence in itself, but the other feeling is, persistent and sudden and overwhelming. He feels achy and empty. And like it desperately needs to be resolved.

Shit. He knew this wouldn't be easy.

He gets up and shuffles to the kitchen, holding his lower stomach as he runs the tap and washes his face, taking a few great gulps out of the faucet. He fumbles the doctor's printout off his counter where Hannibal had carefully tucked it the other day.

Heat symptoms in omegan adults, one page reads. He scans it, wiping the water off his face. Cramping is near the top. The rest of the list is long enough to make Will loiter on regret, too. He takes some painkillers and an ice pack and tries to go back to work in his robe and boxers.

It's only somewhat successful. It's not long before he has to get up and try to walk off some of the ache; shrug off his robe to regulate his temperature. He misses the dogs in that moment, but not enough to go next door. He feels strongly that it's not good to leave - not safe, something primal growls.

He looks at the list again, and finally gives into Hannibal's advice to go upstairs, clutching his phone in his hand. It doesn't take long to haul his blankets, pillows, and a few other supplies up to the spare room, but he's still soaked through with sweat when he gets there, clutching his lower belly and breathing quick and vocal.

Lowering himself onto the bed, he tries to find a position that hurts least, curling up small at first. He knows from his reading that this is only the first stage, his vestigial womb pantomiming functions it can't complete. Preparing for insemination, he thinks with a curled lip. He can never decide whether he's relieved or hurt to be infertile.

He growls a little and turns his face into his pillow. He aches, so much he has to press his thighs together. He breathes through it the best he can. He didn't know it would hurt like this, and worse still it hurts like a personal betrayal, deep in his chest.

He should have said yes to the sedatives. Or to the hospital stay. He needs to sleep. That will help. He left the whiskey downstairs, he realizes. Not really an option with the amount of medications he's taking. Sleep. Sleep is what he can do.

He screws his eyes shut and thinks relentlessly of dark and quiet. Despite his discomfort, he's exhausted, and it laps at his edges, dragging him into a light, feverish sleep.

The daylight is different up here on the second story, and he sleeps late despite it all, waking soaking again, to pain piercing his stomach. He curls around himself, feeling it shoot out from his core.

He cries out, surprised by the ferocity of it. Furthermore, it has a flavor, this pain, and it's demanding. The sheets and the blankets are overstimulation, the cool air in his room practically steaming the sweat on his skin. Before he knows it, he's on his hands and knees, panting.

He presses his face into his pillows, trying not to rock. He wasn't prepared. He doesn't think anyone could be. Not in this day and age, when the traits are dwindling. When everyone who needs them has suppressants.

He writhes a moment longer, and then halfheartedly pushes his hand down his belly; cups his cock through his shorts in the vague hope of some relief. Unbelievable that he can even be hard; but it's not that kind of pain any more, is it? It's need, thorny and grasping, and he is hard, body flooded with heat.

"Fuck," he mutters aloud, face heating even though there's no one here to see him. Might as well take the edge off.

Though it barely feels like it touches the sides, even when he shoves his boxers aside and fists along his shaft desperately. It's then that he feels the unfamiliar pulse of fluid.

"Oh fuck," he mutters, vaguely horrified. It's not that his other sex organs go ignored, merely that they're not usually so demanding. Or... at all. He wishes someone had warned him. Specifically, not with vague mutterings about "discomfort".

Exploratory probing with his fingers doesn't help him feel any better about the matter; everything feels different, wet and swollen and primed. Just a soft press in has him gasping, and Will stops himself for a moment, warring between the feeling of being such a slave to his body and being so abjectly miserable at the prospect of ignoring the throbbing ache inside him.

He can't. Not now. It's too much. Resolved, he twists for his bedside drawer to retrieve supplies, shamefully reflecting that lube is probably not amongst the necessities. Instead he extracts just a condom, and a seldom used toy. The need for something inside him is so demanding that he's not even sure he has the patience for this. It takes only seconds to set it up but even that feels achingly long. He's nearly clumsy in stripping off his shorts and shirt, lying tentatively on his side on the cool sheets and lifting his non-supporting knee against his flank.

It's an awkward angle at first, but the first few tentative teases are enough to make his toes curl. Finally, he groans as the head of the toy breaches him. It's startling, how necessary it feels. How it pushes at his flesh and opens him with such a sweet sting. It's thick, and long, dark rubber with the usual features for this sort of work. It's doing exactly what it needs to, opening him up, spreading copious amounts of slick over his inner thighs.


Will turns his face into his pillowing arm and groans, his other hand keeping it moving in short, forceful thrusts. He tilts his pelvis in, and the next thrust makes him see stars. Thrusting faster, he can already feel himself clenching, fighting each backward stroke, and he finally thumbs the button at the base that causes the knot to swell.

He barely even has to touch his cock with the pressure of it building inside him, just feels it twitch and strain as he fucks himself to gasping.

When he comes, it feels like everything starts to flow. He flows like a river, silently away under the stars. It takes minutes to make it happen twice more, and even then, he's still twitching with the need for more. Like his mind, his body is not easily fooled. With a sigh, he lets the toy drop to the floor. He is drained, but it's still not enough. If anything, he feels worse, like he's awoken something awful and desperate. His body knows what he needs, and he's not going to get it, is he? It stings to think about it too long.

"Fuck," he mutters again, collapsing back into the sweaty sheets. He shifts onto his side again; curls up tightly and tries to take a few deep breaths. Maybe a shower, then. A cold one.

He makes it through another night and day before the need turns back into pain, a nagging ache so sharp Will isn't sure he's okay. He stares at the ceiling for a long time, trying to decide if he ought to do what he wants to do. But Hannibal had said, and Will just needs something to make it stop hurting.

He picks up his phone from the sheets, sweaty fingers marking the screen.

Please come, he types. Hits send before he can talk himself out of it, and then curls up to try and sleep again. It has nothing to do with Hannibal being an alpha, he tells himself muzzily. Nothing at all.


Hannibal isn't sure what he expected when he pulls up to the house that night, but it isn't for his mouth to immediately water just at the proximity to Will; his scent. It's overwhelmingly, shockingly good; but then, did Will ever do anything by halves?

He smells of flowing honey, jasmine, cloves - and all from outside the moonlit house. Hannibal has to loosen his tie just slightly before he finds the spare key in the porch roof and lets himself inside. It's dead quiet without the pack of dogs, but Hannibal is certain he would still hear his breathing somehow. He feels Will's presence like a pulse under his palm, and follows it through the dark house and up the stairs quietly, doctor's bag in hand.

He took Hannibal's advice, he notes dimly though the assault on his senses; he made himself a den upstairs. And, he realizes, hearing a soft, low growl from the end of the landing, he isn't yet prepared for Hannibal to enter it.

He sets his bag on the top of the stairs and draws off his jacket quickly, letting it drape over the banister. He picks up the bag again and takes it into the bathroom, opening it on the counter after he's turned on the light. Schooling his tone, he keeps an eye on Will through the doorway.

"Will?" he calls softly. "I've brought something to help manage your pain levels."

At first, he just hears breathing. Then Will replies, voice thick. "Why can I smell you, Hannibal?"

"Your senses will be heightened by your own hormonal responses," Hannibal obfuscates. He can keep control of himself. He can. He hears the growl again, soft and rumbling, and busies himself preparing a syringe of painkiller that won't interfere with Will's medication.

"This should help take the edge off," he murmurs, "should I come to you, or will you come here? It's intravenous only, I'm afraid."

There is another long pause, but no more growling. Will emerges from the bedroom and into the pool of cool light from the bathroom door, moving carefully. He's visibly glossed with sweat, hair curling in damp hooks around his cheeks, his t-shirt and shorts blotted with dark spots. The scent of him is as though someone had bottled it and used it as chloroform, a smothering, heady dose on a damp rag. Hannibal inhales deeply.

"Bathroom," Will rasps softly.

Despite his preparation, Hannibal simply looks at him for a moment. "Yes," he murmurs after a long pause, and steps back to allow Will inside with him.

The scent of him is even more oppressive in the small room, blanketing Hannibal's senses, the roof of his mouth. He looks beautiful. Hannibal's brain is screaming at him to touch. He sets the syringe down carefully on the edge of the sink and unwraps an alcohol swab. "Your arm, Will."

Perching on the counter, Will turns his elbow up, releasing another frisson of scent. Hannibal wonders a bit dizzily what will happen when they touch. He should be wearing gloves, of course. He's not. He didn't even think of it. He takes another gulp of the scent, finds the vein and presses the needle home.

Will makes a small noise, watching. He's watching Hannibal's fingers, he notices, rather than the needle itself.

"That should help," Hannibal murmurs, and he's not sure if he really means the injection.

Will nods dumbly, eyes glazed, the bags under his eyes nearly bruises. "Sorry to ask," he whispers, "wasn't thinking right, it just hurts."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Hannibal replies, automatically laying a hand on Will's forehead. He swallows when Will leans into it with a subvocal groan. His scent is nearly a physical presence of its own, bearing down on them both.

"Hannibal," Will breathes then, eyes still closed and his nostrils flaring, Hannibal's attention caught on his deviated septum.

"What do you smell?" Hannibal asks helplessly.

"I smell you," Will whispers, and his lashes sweep up, pale jade irises lit with nightshine for a moment in the dim light.

"What do I smell like?"

"You smell -" Will turns his face up to the inside of Hannibal's wrist, inhaling quick, visibly flushing as his senses decode Hannibal's secret.

Hannibal waits to see if his mind can process it. And what he does.

What he does is go rigid, as if his hackles are raising. Hannibal should have been prepared for that too. He finds that he is rather less prepared for any of this than he ought.

The growl starts again, soft, barely audible. "You did this on purpose," he breathes.

"Why do you think I would do that, Will?" Hannibal ventures carefully.

"The same reason you do anything," Will says, shifting back toward the door, his hand protective over his lower stomach again, his skin flushed, "because you were curious."

Hannibal considers it wise, at this point, to let Will step out of the bathroom. Every instinct he has howls against letting him out of his sight. He's pricked by the same chemical Will is, and it does its work quickly, but he's still in control of his faculties. For now.

"I brought you meals," he tells Will, slipping the used syringe into the sharps container in his bag, trying to maintain their calm, keeping his movements slow. "Have you eaten?"

"M'not hungry," Will is in the hall now, back against the wall so he can keep his eyes on Hannibal. That tells Hannibal as clearly as his scent does where he is in his heat. The violence practically shines out of his eyes.

The scent of him is truly delectable, even combative as he is. Hannibal takes a few big lungfuls before Will slips out of the bar of light, and then he follows.

"Will you try to eat a bit? For me?"

"That isn't what I need," Will hisses, still keeping his front to him, the light pollution turning his eyes gold from here.

"I know that," Hannibal retorts, unable to keep a faint growl of his own from rising. "Did I not assure you that I would help you in any way you needed, Will?"

"Yes," Will chokes, reaching blindly back for the bedroom door jamb.

"And do you think that pledge mendacious in any way?"

He can see - and smell - the blush rising from Will's chest under his damp t-shirt. "No," he shivers, "Hannibal, it hurts -"

"It would stop," Hannibal murmurs.

A little, anguished noise at that, the timbre of it squeezing something cruel and animal in Hannibal's gut. He takes a step closer.

Will steps back, eyes flashing again, but his entire stance is challenging. Hannibal takes another step. Before he can be aware of the decision, he's stripping off his tie, and Will is backing up further, his odor sticking in the back of Hannibal's palate. One more step will bring them close enough to touch. But when Hannibal reaches out, Will evades, baring teeth.

"I didn't say yes," he snaps, "and you haven't said why I should."

"Because it will relieve you," Hannibal says, easily.

"And you expect me to believe it won't change things?" Will's eyes dart under bruise-dark lids, refusing to stay steady.

"Things are so good they couldn't possibly be improved by change?" He's shocked by the sudden shove, his spine impacting against the plaster.

"Don't twist my meaning." And then he's gone, the soft pads of his bare feet sounding on the floorboards as he disappears back into the bedroom.

Hannibal doesn't watch him go. Hannibal slowly rolls up his tie, and tucks it in his bag, and goes down to his car for his cooler. He's uncomfortably close to desperate. He opened himself up to this when he put his suppressants away. And yes, he was curious. He is still curious. But the desperation, he realizes, is specific to Will.

Back in the house, he scents Will again; he can't quite help it. He can feel his own body responding. He can feel the way Will changes just at his proximity. Wonders if he's feeling it right now.

Mind unwaveringly on Will, Hannibal puts his wares in the fridge, and sits down to wait. He knows it's only a matter of time. He wonders if the painkiller has set in yet. Will was so furious with him, perhaps he hadn't noticed.

There's nothing but quiet for a long time. Hannibal closes his eyes and retreats slightly into his own thoughts. He sees the way things could pan out, in his head. Will might well insist he leave. But he might not. He's a pragmatic man, if a stubborn one. But Hannibal knows there is plenty to make him less pragmatic, currently.

Eventually, he becomes aware of Will's presence at the top of the stairs, entirely silent. He turns his head, breathing in slowly and ignoring the jump of his own pulse.

In the dark of the stairwell, he can't see him, but he can just about hear him, breaths low and vocal. When Hannibal scents him, he's more aware than ever of Will's fear, and his need. Both perfume the air with notes like a Cabernet Sauvignon; cedar and smoke and a tannin-rich sweetness. Hannibal can smell how ready Will is. His body, that is. His mind, as always, is more of a mystery.

Hannibal's own body is lit by his proximity, like a match to dry wood. He acknowledges it even as he clenches his teeth to keep back the sound he wants to make. He knows Will hears it regardless, and understands perfectly well. Under Hannibal's gaze, Will appears at the foot of the stairs, protectively curled against the lower step, eyes catching the light like twin moons again.

"Hannibal," he breathes, softly.

There is a part of him, and he acknowledges this with the coherence he still has left, that wants to bathe Will, and feed him a hot meal, and check his temperature and breathing and general health. The rest of him stands, walking carefully toward him.


He's watching more carefully now for fight or flight. But Will just looks tired, and like he can't stay away. He moans softly as Hannibal approaches and Hannibal smells something else, a sharper scent to mingle with his spicy sweetness.

"Please." Will bites his lip. "I can't make it stop."

"Would you like me to help you, Will?" From this distance, Hannibal can see how his entire body is trembling. Sees him wet his lips and tremor before he nods.

"Yes, please -"

"Tell me how." he growls, the sound coming from deep in his gut.

Will visibly shivers, and then he's moving, and Hannibal meets him head on as he grabs at his shirt and presses in close, open mouthed and desperate. Hannibal's arms close around him and press him against his body with unthinking force. Just the feel of him tugs something loose inside of him; unfurls the knot of want in his belly to roaring, making him snarl into his hair. Their noses brush, then their cheeks, grain of stubble catching. It's nearly violent, the way their jaws scrape as they scent and mark in turn, hands grasping.

Hannibal growls and feels it reverberate through the body next to his, their chests flush. Will bridges into him with a soft groan, burying his face into Hannibal's neck again to inhale. His teeth snag against skin, and Hannibal's control snaps; he shoves his hands into the waistband of Will's shorts and snatches him close. Feels him flex and gasp against him, his face flushed. His hands tighten into claws against Hannibal's chest, then shove him back.

Hannibal lets it move him, though he doesn't want to. He impacts the wall at the bottom of the stairs hard enough to rattle his teeth.

Will's eyes are a little wild when he snarls, and then darts. This time he's not going for the stairs, and Hannibal goes after him, catching him mid-lunge. They tangle together and crash to the floor, disrupting an armchair and the coffee table. Will twists under him as they travel, kicking out at the desk and sending it flying, lures and all. The lampshade shatters, and the entire room is suddenly full of teeth.

Using Will's protective flinch to his advantage, Hannibal snatches him onto his belly and pins him, flattening himself down to ground him until his snarling abates. Slowly, carefully, Hannibal scents the nape of Will's neck as he bears down against the round of his ass. Will lets him then, maybe stunned for a moment, certainly enough to arch back up. They both make a ragged sound, but the next moment Will is driving an elbow into Hannibal's ribs. He flees while Hannibal recovers, teeth bared.

Hannibal is faster. He lunges, and they tumble into the book case, knocking it over, but in the fray Will once again slips away and into the kitchen. Hannibal is starting to see a red mist in the corners of his eyes. He feels himself snarl again, and his usually penned instincts are unleashed in their desire to give chase.

He's quicker than Will, but Will surprises him with his capability. He's vicious, and strong, and he evades until Hannibal feints one way and intercepts him. He boxes him in against the fridge with his weight and a snarl, locking one arm over his throat to still him. Growling, Hannibal watches him scramble and then still, eyes flicking backwards and forwards over Hannibal's face. He lifts his upper lip in a grimace, scenting like a big cat, and Hannibal leans harder. Enough.

Will grabs his hair, fists tight, and then gentles again as he pulls Hannibal in. He kisses Hannibal with building hunger. The noise that escapes him is plaintive and high, and Hannibal takes his arm down to press in close.

Will's muscles jump like he's about to attack again, but instead his hands tighten again in Hannibal's hair. When Hannibal's hands slide down to grip his thighs, Will pushes up; lets him take his weight entirely and wraps his legs around his waist with a low groan. The heat of him is astounding, and that smell, even stronger. Hannibal wants to tear every scrap of fabric off of him and explore. He presses in to scent under his jaw, mouth open, breaths rapid. Will tips his head back, fingers biting into Hannibal's shoulders. He's panting, hard enough Hannibal's hindbrain worries about him having a panic episode, but Will is clutching him close. And then he rolls his hips.

"Will," Hannibal kisses his skin; he can't stop. He's never tasted anything like him. Even his sweat is mouth-watering. He hears him gasp; feels him clasp him tighter - and then he pushes Hannibal away again, breathing hard.

He's sweat slick and stunning. He staggers a little when Hannibal sets him on his feet, backing toward the stairs. This time, he lets Hannibal follow. But Hannibal catches him before he can ascend.

"Please -" Will whispers.

Hannibal fists a hand in the back of his t-shirt, presses him into the wall and feels Will go loose when he grips the back of his neck. He's testing; asserting dominance. Will doesn't fight now.

"No more running." Hannibal nearly doesn't recognize his own voice.

Will almost looks surprised to hear it, his eyes wide and ocean blue. "No. Upstairs," he pleads softly.

Hannibal leans in to whisper into his ear, more delectable scent curling out from his hair. "Go."

Nodding, Will swallows thickly and waits to be released. Hannibal forces his fingers to do so, but he doesn't quite let Will go as they climb the stairs up to the spare room. For one thing, Will is trembling again, muscles visibly jumping. Hannibal gives into the instinct to gentle him when they get inside, hands sliding over his skin, under the hem of his shirt. The bloom of Will's curls tickles when Hannibal lips at his nape.

Will whines and arches his back again. "Hannibal, please-"

This time, Hannibal strips both boxers and undershirt off in sweeping, rough motions to expose him, lean and pale, bright as moon light in the dark of this small room. Hannibal barely finds the sense to savor it, just seeks with hands and mouth, something snarling in him when Will bridges back into him. He pushes him down to his belly on the bed and covers him entirely with his body.

Will wriggles but it's not hostile now, more heat seeking. His fingers claw into the sheets and he rocks up sharply. Hannibal bites down on the back of his neck, hears Will's little cry of shock, and the answering wave of need that hits Hannibal with the arch of his body. Neither of them have any words left. Hannibal merely growls and sits back on his knees to push Will's thighs apart.

He feels possessed, captivated by the sight of Will like this, breaths low and growling as he bears up for Hannibal's seeking fingers. His sex is flushed and swollen and glistening with clear fluid, cock weighty with his arousal. Hannibal has never had an opportunity to really look at him before, and he's fascinated by his anatomy despite having seen plenty of clinical examples of omega males before. Moreover, he's overwhelmed by the urge to taste the soft pink opening behind his small cock, petaled with neat folds. His own instincts are driving him to do nothing else. He makes a guttural noise in his throat and bends low, hears Will's soft cry as his breath dusts over his skin.

Both of them keen as his tongue sweeps down. Even as a connoisseur of taste, Hannibal has never savored so devotedly. Will's body fills every sense to bursting, and Hannibal knows he would kill anyone who stepped through the door right now.

He pushes his tongue deeper; laps deep and then sucks softly at the join of skin between the two openings. Will presses his hips back with a desperate noise, and Hannibal knows this is not quite everything his body is clamoring for, but his own is not quite as impatient. Not yet. His own hormones are quickly adjusting to match Will's.

"Hannibal," Will pants, slick starting to gloss the insides of his thighs, and Hannibal's cheeks in turn.

He rubs his cheek against Will's cheeks, stubble scraping, resisting the urge to bite him there too, and watches as he sinks two fingers into Will's pretty pink slit. The sound Will makes sends a pulse of need through Hannibal so sharp he can feel himself swell. He realizes he's still fully dressed, but he'd have to stop to remedy that. He can't. Will's cunt is needy around his fingers, his thighs tensing, toes curling.

Audibly reluctant, he lets Hannibal tip him gently onto his side with only a whine of frustration, enough to suck his hard cock into the back of his throat in a single mouthful, desperate to gorge himself on the taste and smell of Will. He's leaking here too, tasting complex and sharp.

For once, it's nearly impossible for Hannibal to think of anything but this; Will's cunt and his cock and the way he's trembling and crying out for Hannibal's touch. His own knowledge tells him Will can come repeatedly during this stage, and oh, that's how he knows they're more than just animals, because he wants that - wants to watch him howl and spasm and claw every bit of terrible pleasure out of this until they're both ready to knot. He wants to drink every drop of his pleasure; saturate himself in it. He furthers this agenda now with a few wicked beckoning motions of his fingers and a thick swallow around him.

Will doesn't howl, but he does get close, his abs contracting as he squirms. He's breathing hard, quick and vocal, long panting 'haa' sounds that Hannibal knows are the aborted beginnings of his name. A low, possessive growl rises in his throat.

Will makes a soft noise in response, hips squirming. He pushes himself greedily further into Hannibal's fingers and mouth. There's another little flood of fluid, followed by another moan. Hannibal works his fingers harder, knowing he wants the fullness. He wants to feel it too; the way Will's insides seem to clench for him. He can feel Will's cock swelling too.

He sucks him faster; fucks him hard with his fingers. He's disoriented with need, with the scent filling his nose. Will tastes dizzyingly good as he comes with a high gasp, and Hannibal swallows it all down eagerly, fingers pressing hard. Will draws tight around him, his knuckles white in the sheets, and Hannibal growls, drunk on the feeling. It's surprisingly difficult to make himself let go. Even when he succeeds, he still covers Will with his body again immediately, letting him twist onto his back.

Almost as instantly, Will squirms underneath him, hips pressing up. Hannibal rocks down against him, lips finding the skin of his throat.

"Please," Will whispers, on the tail end of a groan.

Hannibal nips him, not as lightly as he intends, spreading one hand across his throat and one on his hip. That gets another plea, and Hannibal sighs, gripping Will as he rolls into him. "Will..."

"Hannibal," Will groans.

"Tell me what you want," Hannibal rumbles softly.

"Inside," Will grits.

"Tell me," Hannibal coaxes. He knows Will has words left inside him.

First, all he has is a little, frustrated groan. Then he gets his hands into Hannibal's hair. "Fuck me," he grits. He writhes until their bellies are flush, and he's splay-legged and arching, smearing slick against Hannibal's trousers from his cock and his cunt when he settles his heels into the small of his back.

"Let me undress," Hannibal growls.

Another irritated noise, coupled with Will's tightening hands, suggests moving away isn't on the agenda. Hannibal growls again, wordlessly this time, wrenching at the buttons of his slacks. He hears something pop and snag as he wrenches them down, but Will is so wet against him when their skin meets. Nothing else matters but this. He's rocking, his cock sliding against Hannibal's, and then between their bellies as he squirms to get Hannibal where he wants him.

Hannibal's help seems unnecessary, but he sinks low between his thighs anyway, fresh slick spilling over him. It feels almost counterintuitive when Will twists them over to settle on top, and they snarl at one another for a moment. Hannibal lets his lip curl, and Will leans down to bite it. All the while, he rides his sex against Hannibal's, his cock having softened off after orgasm but his movements still fevered with intent.

"You know what I want," he grits against Hannibal's cheek, nose slipping behind his ear as he inhales.

"You can have it," Hannibal assures gently.

"So give it to me," he groans - nearly sobs.

"Take what you need." He tousles the damp curls gently.

Will pushes into it blindly at the same time he keeps rocking. They both feel it when the head of Hannibal's thick cock slips home, and Hannibal leashes himself fiercely against the sheer, molten clasp of him, enveloping him in wet heat.

Will's lips pull back from his teeth as he seats himself more fully, though not all the way - it wouldn't be practical yet, Hannibal knows, not so early in the proceedings. He still rails against the urge to snatch Will down to the hilt and drive up into him until they're sealed. But he rocks, and Hannibal rocks with him, fingers pricking red marks into his hips.

He watches Will's face; sees how his lashes flutter as he fucks himself slowly. His jaw slacks, and he tilts his head back, neck ivory pale and so tantalizing. Hannibal grasps it before he can stop himself, fingers pressing into the soft skin, more securing than anything else. And Will just leans into his grip with a soft whine that he can feel. He rolls his hips, and then cries out when Hannibal grips at his thighs and starts to thrust up into him in turn.

He's so slick and hot, saturating Hannibal with sensation with every roll. Their sweat rises to mingle their scents. Self-restraint has never been out of reach for Hannibal before, not until now, when the thought of resisting pressing his swelling knot into Will's needy hole seems laughable - and it's then he knows his own triggered rut has started in earnest. He hasn't felt like this in a very, very long time, and he shows his teeth in mingled discomposure and sheer greedy relief.

Will's eyes shine pale in the half dark, his pearly, pretty canines gleaming, sweat gathering in the hollow of his throat. Hannibal swipes a finger through it and brings it to his mouth to taste. Even with the lingering acid of sickness and medication, it tastes almost as good Will's come.

Needing, craven, Hannibal rolls them over again, hips thrusting down as he licks along the cut of Will's jaw. Will's hands are crawling over his skin, finding the sweat frosted dips at the base of his spine and gripping. He moans with a particularly deep stroke, nails biting in.

"Hannibal," he whispers. He's never said so much with just that word before. He sounds fierce and desperate. And under it, afraid, and vulnerable. Hannibal's pulse hammers, and he buries himself deep again and again, breathlessly resisting the urge to bite. He thinks Will would let him, if he was clever. But he has too little control right now. He finds Will's lips instead.

He never expected kissing him to feel so much like their ongoing chase, gaining and rescinding ground. He never wants to stop. As with everything he does, Will's kisses are tender, with an underlying potential to become violent. It's stunning. Hannibal closes a hand in the back of his hair to keep him in place, and Will holds him in turn, thighs helplessly spread, his groans low and urgent in his throat. His heels press insistently into Hannibal's back whenever he pulls back, even to adjust his angle.

Hannibal buries his face in his throat to soothe himself on his scent; tamp down the ugly, aggressive hunger growing in him. Will is his, his mate, his senses scream. The only one worthy of this part of him, and the instincts that have served him so well over time. He clenches his teeth and breathes him in, hips driving deep, deeper. Will's body seems to pull him deeper, the lock-and-key design so difficult to evade when he wants so badly to rock deep; feel him swallow his knot to the rim and clench.

Hannibal gives in. He hears Will cry out beneath him as the swollen bulb at the base of his cock slips inside him. He twists at first as though to get away, but he's just sprawling onto his side for purchase, wringing the blankets, teeth bared against the fullness. He clamps down impossibly hard around Hannibal, and then he's growling too, a rasping roar that he barely recognizes as his own.

Beneath him, Will whimpers, and it occurs to Hannibal in some far off way, that this might be the first time Will has done this. But he's spilling, spilling inside Will in great waves and he can't see anything but red and white. Will's body squeezes around him, pulling out the last of it, making them both groan.

Hannibal presses his face into the skin of Will's throat and pants deeply. He can't resist tasting his sweat, and it turns into a gentle cleaning the nape of his neck, feeling the way Will calms under the attention. They both do, a gentle softening of their mingled scents. Hannibal grapples for coherency, his thoughts uncharacteristically hard to find in an uneasy fog of euphoria. They're not supposed to be thinking, right now, just locked together. He tries to remember that. Lets himself give into the urge to soothe over Will's sweat-misted skin. It comforts him to remember that Will is clearly in a similar state.

He takes a breath. "Will," he murmurs.

A soft noise of acknowledgement; the barest twitch that Hannibal feels inside. The pleasure running through his veins makes him feel lethargic, but he wraps his arms around Will anyway and holds him close.

"Will," he whispers again softly.

"I feel... so full..." Will whispers back. He sounds so vulnerable when he says it; Hannibal can't help but clutch him tighter.

"You sound like it's a novelty."

"I usually just - no one has ever really wanted -" Will pants quietly, each sentence slowly trailing to silence.

Hannibal finds that so difficult to believe - he can't be the first person to realize how alluring he is. Even with his suppressants, he'd smelled so good, it is hard to imagine other alphas hadn't noticed. Alana certainly had.

"You've never been with an alpha before?"

Will makes a noise like he's perturbed to be questioned. Hannibal automatically soothes him with more kisses to his nape.

"Not - like this," Will admits, voice sounding far away. "Not... anyone like you."

"Like me? In what sense?"

Will sounds even more faraway when he answers. "Like my alpha."

Another little shiver of sensation goes through Hannibal, and he rubs the grain of his cheek against Will's neck again, a surge of tenderness for him rearing. Protectiveness, too.

"The nature of our biology can give us influence over one another in the most insidious of ways," he murmurs, "it can percolate between us without us ever consciously knowing, sharing our secrets, telegraphing our desires." He squeezes Will gently. "Perhaps our bodies have been conspiring against us for some time now."

He feels Will take a deep breath. "Unfortunately," Will whispers, "I'm always very aware of what my body wants."

"So what I say is untrue?"

"No, no." Will shifts subtly. They're still knotted together, of course, though the urgency is lessening. Hannibal waits, inhaling the bouquet of Will's curls. "You don't really think it was unconscious, do you?" he adds, with a wry glance back over his shoulder. "Going without your suppressants wasn't a passive reaction to hormones, Hannibal."

"No," Hannibal acknowledges. "But there was... an understanding."

"Was that understanding a passive reaction to hormones?" He sounds gently skeptical. "Didn't want it until it was up your nose?"

"I discontinued them the night I drove you home from Doctor Sutcliffe," Hannibal murmurs.

That makes Will quiet again, thoughtful, mind doubtlessly excavating Hannibal's every motivation with a disconcerting lack of effort. "But, you know I can't..."

"Conceive?" Hannibal says gently when Will doesn't.

"Mhmm." He isn't looking at him now.

"Will," Hannibal says it coaxingly. He's not convinced he wants Will to follow this path of thought - of course there was no need for the pageantry of their ancestral practices; pairs of any genetic disposition can mate in whatever manner they please, and Hannibal is not opposed to casual sex where most people are concerned, but this...

"You wanted to limit the chances of me rejecting you," Will realizes, his voice taking on the wounded quality Hannibal has heard when he's understood others before - and hurt for them. It's always astounding, how he moves past the manipulation to the underlying cause.

Unable to bring himself to plainly admit it, Hannibal just noses at his jaw gently. Of course it was an excuse. And it has turned out to be a devastatingly impactful one.

"I guess it makes sense," Will continues quietly, "I wouldn't have thought you were serious." Hannibal growls softly under his breath. "I would have thought you had an agenda," Will clarifies, ruefully. "Not sure you don't, now."

Hannibal takes a moment to sift though his curls. "I'm not sure either." He kisses behind his ear, shifting his hips experimentally: he's starting to soften and shrink, finally.

"Well. At least you're honest about it."

"If you can lie by omission, I suppose it can be applied to veracity, in turn."

"You would," Will mumbles hazily. He sounds nearly asleep, the desperate need he emanated before momentarily doused.

Hannibal lets him subside into sleep before trying again to detach. Even the scent of him like this is so entirely appealing, soft and clean, and sharp from their fucking. He doesn't want to leave him, but he wants him to eat something. Perhaps, he reasons, he could stay just a little longer, and get up in a while to start dinner prep. Being next to Will like this is shockingly soothing. He closes his eyes, and lets himself drift, comfortable over him.


Will isn't sure how long he's asleep. He's so deeply under that it seems like unconsciousness. As they so often do, his dreams turn to memories, all at once surreal and vivid reconstruction. For a space of time before waking, he's back at his father's house in the bayou. There's smoke pouring up into the sky, acrid black against the pale dawn, peach and soft blue. Their neighbors across the street have gone up in flames in the night. They all know there's nothing to be done.

Will watches the CSIs despite his father chiding him back inside; scents the rancid, fatty smell of cooked flesh in the wake of a gurney with a squeaky wheel, the body bag distorted by the rigid, charred corpse inside. He can't help thinking it smells - just like any other meat. Maybe more acidic, the note in the air. Will swallows reflexively at the thought; turns to his father and falters at the antlered imposter in his place, looming above him, jet black and sharp as spikes. It reaches out a clawed hand, and Will jolts awake, sweat cooling on his skin.

He has no idea why he's dreaming about the bayou now. Especially not the fire. Maybe it's psychological. It was the last time he'd been hormonal like this. Now, he slowly levers himself up on the bed, looking blearily around, half wondering if it was a dream.

But no. He hears someone in his kitchen, chopping something. Muscles stiff, Will shuffles to the bathroom to wash up and pull on some clean boxers and a robe. The constant snarl in his brain has died down to a low rumble for the moment, like very far-off thunder. He feels hollow and achy as he patters downstairs, unnerved by the emptiness of the house; his eerie dreams. A faint scent lingers on the air - the ghost of Hannibal's passage.

A glance at the clock reveals it's nearly eleven – they haven't slept long, then. The broken glass and its parent lamp are gone, the living area returned to its previous state of neatness. More evidence of Hannibal, along with his belongings now precisely gathered together near the door. Shoes, coat, Doctor's bag.

Will finds him in the kitchen, of course, looking appetizingly soft in pajama pants, and a white t-shirt that is tight enough across his broad back that Will deduces it to be one of his own. Hannibal is something searing on a griddle, smoke rippling off into the air.

"Ah, Will," he murmurs, not even turning around. "I thought the smell of dinner might bring you round. I know it's late, but you'll need to keep on top of meals with your medication."

"Dinner," Will murmurs, swaying a little.

"Filet mignon," Hannibal says primly, "with porcini mushrooms and herbed potatoes."

No, Will think. No, that's not it at all. He turns his head, trying to get a measure on the smell. Fatty, thick, chased by acid.

It's not only the second time Will has smelled it. He swallows thickly, brain whirring, turning over the scent. Why would it smell like that?

Abigail will have smelled it before, too, Will thinks. The scent of it had lingered in her house too, the remnants of their dinner in the trash when they arrived. Sausage meat, the oily skillet. The garage door, scarred with the word 'CANNIBALS'.

"Hannibal," he mutters, hackles raising.

He turns an enquiring eye on him.

"That's not filet mignon."

He has his attention now, and Hannibal straightens imperceptibly. "I assure you, it is."

He's lying. Will knows he's lying. Unless - on a technicality, it is filet mignon. He snarls softly, "What is it, Hannibal? Don't lie to me."

He sees his hand twitch on the knife, those delicate surgeon's hands. He thinks his can smell the shift in his body temperature. His eyes flick around, taking in the scene. The earthy smell of mushrooms, a bubbling sauce, and the meat. Grilling on Will's stovetop on a grill pan that is decidedly not his. Something else too, pâté to start - home made, of course.

Will's lips pull back at the image that presents himself to him of those careful hands coaxing meat into a grinder; glistening dark lobes of organ flesh. So careful, so capable. A surgeon, who transformed his passion for the anatomy into the culinary arts.

"It's not even subtle," Will whispers. Hannibal still looks perfectly intrigued and still. "So who are you cooking?" he asks Hannibal roughly.

"What are you accusing me of? Why are you asking?" He hears what's underneath. Do you really want to know?

"Because I know, Hannibal, because - everything makes sense. And nothing makes sense!"

"What do you know, Will?"

"Too much," Will growls.

He watches Hannibal resituate himself, still so very calm. "You are still sick, Will. Things aren't what they seem - your dream, what was it?"

"The past," Will murmurs.

"What did you remember?"

"A house fire in the bayou."

"When you were a boy?"

"A teenager," Will murmurs.

He watches Hannibal kill the heat, picking the meat up in tongs and placing it on a board to rest. His eyes gleam crimson in the light, his gaze incising. "Do you remember thinking it smelled good?"

Will shakes his head automatically. Even so, he swallows.

"The few survivors of arctic expeditions who have shared their experiences often express shock at how easy it was to eat their colleagues," Hannibal continues mildly, "meat is meat. However - I think your symptoms might be interfering with your senses slightly, Will. I can assure you-"

"Oh, can you?"

"If you let me," Hannibal whispers. Will can feel his heart pounding in his throat. Suddenly, everything makes sense.

"The Ripper," he whispers, "is a middle aged male, with surgical experience, none of the usual markers of a psychopath, no run ins with the law, a penchant for the dramatic..."

He watches Hannibal's hands instead of his eyes. Maybe normally he would ride out his fear; let his mind rush into the nooks and crannies of distaste like a flashlight beam, piecing it all together - but now his instincts rear and he's afraid, and he stumbles back before he can stop himself.

He doesn't wait to see what Hannibal would do. He flees, straight out the front door and off the porch. No shoes, no coat, just his robe flying out behind him as he sprints for the cover of the black trees, not the road, not the road, he'll catch you if he gets to the car. Will knows the woods. The woods are safe, and dark.

He runs with his lungs burning and his body compacting as he surges through the dense thicket of low branches and brambles. Whiplashes of pain from reaching branches don't slow him at all. He just knows he's in danger, and he has to run, and so that's what he does, and it's only a reeling glance back that tells him he hasn't escaped without pursuit.

He hadn't heard Hannibal at all. He can smell him though, when the wind changes - which means Hannibal can smell him too.

Panic stabs harder than the pains in his feet. He has to get to the river; get in the water and vanish, somehow. But there's branches cracking behind him, and he has to change direction: he can't outrun Hannibal in a flat chase. Not ever. He knows this with absolute certainty, even if he hadn't seen the lean and dangerous form hiding under those fussy suits.

The thought releases a dry sob from him on the heels of his panting breaths: how could he have been so stupid? He'd opened up. He'd told him everything. He gave him the clues to keep hiding from the FBI. What's more infuriating, somehow, is that he probably didn't even need it. He's played Will from day one - all of them.

The fury twists with the fear. He runs faster, diving over fallen logs and forcing himself through nets of branches, hunkered low, his robe catching and snagging him. He snatches himself free and keeps running even though he's starting to be aware of just how exhausted he is. The stress is only bringing his fucking hormones up to the surface again. Not to mention his skull trying to contain his pounding brain. Could he really have imagined all this?

No. He would have seen it sooner. He knows this. There is no time for self-doubt now. But he's running out of trees, and he can't run to a neighbor because Hannibal will remove any witnesses he can.

He'll have to try to hide, then, he thinks with a snarl. Everything feels so sharp and so far away at once. He's drenched with sweat, slowing down, feet bleeding - and then he sees him. He's just standing, waiting. Will doesn't know how he can have overtaken him so easily, and is only faintly reassured by the evidence that Hannibal is at least as affected by the elements as he is - sweat drenched, scratched, panting raggedly. He's also filled by an undeniable air of - authority.

Will takes a deep swallow of cold air where he's stood. They're in a clearing, the evening mist drawing in with the dark. Will can hear the river nearby; the distant sounds of the road. He licks his dry lips, watches Hannibal's eyes. It's not his imagination that they shine red in the moonlight.

He's still panting, his whole body moving with it, lithe and powerful. Will is afraid, he thinks. He's not sure he hasn't been afraid all along. Some part of himself reacting to something deeper than knowledge. Instincts, engrained marrow deep.

They're at war with another set of instincts. Will can feel his sweat gathering in the hollow of his throat; the small of his back. He bares his teeth, but he can see the moment Hannibal's nostrils flare. There's no escaping. He feels it weight down his bones. But he has to try.

He runs again. This time, it doesn't go so well. Hannibal lunges after him with a snarl, so fast Will barely sees him. He makes it all of three steps before a weight impacts his back. They crash onto the forest floor, but Will's instincts are still roaring and he spits and hisses, kicking Hannibal soundly off him.

He only gets a moment's respite, before fingers bite into his calf. He kicks again, and then runs; trips on the hands that keep finding him and slaps back down into the leaf litter. Then Hannibal's body covers him with a last lunge, and he tucks his hands over his vitals and cowers. One big hand covers the back of his neck, and though Will kicks out, he's disadvantaged by his genetics, the nerves in the back of his neck compromising him. He shudders, repeatedly, the heavy feeling returning to his bones. Hannibal's nose is behind his ear, inhaling slowly. His shivers get wilder.

"Do you want to get away from me, cunning boy?" Hannibal hisses against his ear.

All Will can do is whine. Despite everything he knows, being underneath Hannibal stifles the ache in his core, and he makes a pained noise at the thought. "You did this to me," he growls.

"No, Will." Hannibal nuzzles, so very gently, his hand covering Will's on the dirty ground. "You asked me to come, remember?"

"I didn't know!" he cries out.

"And now you do, do you want to call Jack? Do you want to see me in a cage?" His voice is nearly mournful, Will thinks.

Just the idea of a cage makes him want to howl into the night. He thinks about it, even though it's so hard, and he shakes his head quickly. "No, I don't, I don't want that."

"Don't you?" The growl is subtle this time.

"No." Will feels a great, ugly swell of self-pity. "But I'm – I'm so furious with you."

"Then be furious," Hannibal bites at the back of his neck.

Will closes his eyes with a cry; swallows the bell-toll of his rage. He can't even speak for a second. Too many things are running through him, all of them overshadowed by Hannibal's weight on his back; his scent in Will's nostrils. He can feel his body starting to crave again, slick welling between his thighs. He's drowning in pheromones and fever, and part of him is terrified for how helpless that leaves him. The other part of him only craves.

He arches helplessly. "Hannibal -"

Hannibal growls against his ear. He's pressing against Will with purpose, snuffling against his ear, incensed by the chase.

"Hannibal, wait," Will says quickly, clearly. He can feel the muscles surrounding him lock. "Hannibal," Will repeats, "not here."

"No, here," Hannibal contradicts. When he bites gently at the nape of his neck, Will can't hold back a groan. "Right here," Hannibal murmurs in his ear, "and just like this."

His hands are searching over Will's skin now, through the dirt, over stinging scratches. Will shudders, pushing back automatically, fingers sinking into soft earth and woodland detritus. When Hannibal lifts up off him, it's with a warning growl, and Will stays down while he inspects his hindquarters; the slick soaking the seat of his shorts.

Will groans. Hannibal's mouth is on him; his hip, over the round of his ass until he can press his tongue flat against the damp fabric between Will's thighs. It's good enough it makes him moan despite himself, back dipping to push back into the ravenous strokes.

"More," Will pleads, before he can hold it back.

He hears a matching moan in response; Hannibal's hands fisting in the fabric, stretching it to transparency and then tearing. Will pushes his face into his forearms, bracing him in the dirt. He feels Hannibal's hands on his thighs, holding as he leans down to lick.

He pushes in greedily with his tongue, lapping up slick, thumbs spreading Will's flesh so he can lick into every dip and fissure. Will's moan sounds like a sob even to him, his nails digging into the dirt, his cheeks stinging from the salt of sweat in snagged skin. He needs him more than he fears him. He's not even sure it's fear of what he is, or if it's simply that he lied. Fear that he's so capable of it, when Will needs the truth so badly.

The thought rankles again; makes him hiss and kick, until Hannibal surges back over him and stills him with a warning bite. And Will can feel him now, hot and hard and riding between his thighs, all heat and friction. He can't stop from bearing up for the press of him despite himself, hating how much he really wants this, even now. Hating how pleased Hannibal still is. The motion of his hand scrabbling at his clothes, and then they're both bared and Will can smell how primed Hannibal is for him in turn. So primed that he doesn't hesitate before pressing inside him.

Will cries out, half pain, half relief. He rocks his hips back sharply for more, though. This isn't the careful and restrained ritual from before, but raw and primal, Hannibal's movements frantic as he mounts Will like they're animals. His fingers dig into the meat of Will's hip and shoulder, his knees keeping Will's thighs spread. He knows if he struggles, he'll feel teeth again. Hannibal hasn't broken the skin yet, but Will is more than sure he's capable.

He won't struggle, he can't: it feels too right, Hannibal's substantial cock exactly where he needs it, driving in again and again. Will can already feel himself dripping, cock leaking too. The obscene noises of it seem even louder out here. Audible even outside Will's own pleading moans; the grunting, vocal breaths of Hannibal's efforts. It's all he can do to hold himself up, to keep himself still. He can already feel the first threads of an orgasm creeping up his spine, and he knows it won't be the last, not with Hannibal grinding deep and hard against the spot inside that makes Will cry out with every breath, alternating between shallow circles of his hips and long, jagging thrusts.

Hannibal doesn't even touch him, not outside the iron grip on his hip and shoulder. Just fucks him, hard and fast and with his body low to Will's, heat radiating off him in waves. It's nothing but savage. Everything Will needed. He didn't even know.

He scrambles at the dirt as the first shock of it hits him out of nowhere, so intense he can feel himself flood slick down the insides of his thighs, hot as blood. It numbs Will's brain against the underlying panic; makes him dumb and desperate for more. He reaches back with hooked claws.

Hannibal catches his hand and pins it to his back, their fingers locking and Will's face and chest half impacting the ground. He can hear Hannibal groan now, a low, continuous rumble; feel the sweat sticking them together. He sees their coupling in flashes of light and color and sensation: deep pleasure, harsh breaths, pain from the ground in his knees and chest, throat. A kaleidoscope of sensation.

He scrabbles when the discomfort gets too much, whining quietly. It's then that Hannibal takes him in hand. He pulls him up, one arm locking across Will's throat so he chokes against the press, squirming for purchase. If anything, Hannibal seems to have even more leverage now. Will is at his mercy, now as ever.

He takes his thrusts with a few rough little cries, cock dribbling fluid where it taps his belly with every rock of their hips. He's so wet, so entirely at his mate's mercy. He's only ever let people touch him here occasionally, never like this, filling him so deep he can already feel the soreness setting in, behind the rubbing tease that makes him tense and gasp on every thrust. He can feel his body clenching tighter and tighter. Desperately, he grasps back at Hannibal: it's close again. He can hear himself whining. It sounds so far away beyond the haze of his needing. He can feel the way Hannibal's knot is bumping against him now, his body opening up for it.

He could get so much deeper; Will groans, half a plea at the thought. Hannibal's teeth are at his throat, pinching in, more steadying than anything. He's gripping Will's hips with both hands now, barely verbal, shoving his hips up and up.

Will cries out as one last thrust seals them together. He comes again, with another little dribble of clear fluid and a trembling moan, Hannibal still thrusting deeper. He's deliciously un-gentle, nails raking, the mouthful of flesh between his teeth numb and spiked with pain. Will feels the trickle of blood.

A dull splinter of panic under the plain need. But it's too late now; he can feel Hannibal's knot swelling inside him. Will is as terrified as he is desperate, a unique blend that flares up through his spine as white hot pleasure as he feels Hannibal grind up toward his completion, growling around his mouthful like he'll never let go; as if laying claim to Will forever.

"Do it," Will pleads, voice breaking. It's only the truth.

Hannibal sinks his teeth in deep and merciless on the moment he snaps his hips a final time and floods Will with his release, snarling around his mouthful like a dog with meat. The flare of pain makes him howl, but he doesn't pull away. It aches so sweetly. He has to support himself against Hannibal then, head light at the rush. His chest heaves, and Hannibal's hold gentles. His teeth, however, remain deep. But Will can feel his tongue starting to work.

Whimpering at the sting, he shifts, but they're attached, so the only way for him to take pressure off his raw knees is to let Hannibal take his weight; slump down onto the moderate cushion of his clothes to hold Will in his lap. His arms circle around him and Will hears him inhale.

He can feel their mess; the stiffness already starting, the cool night air biting at their skin. Will feels exposed, vulnerable in a way he hasn't before. But Hannibal at his back is an inferno. Breathing hard, exhaustion rushes up to meet Will, his head starting to throb through the haze of his heat.

He drifts in and out of full awareness, only stirring when Hannibal finally slips out of him. It's cold with the night setting in proper, and he feels himself trembling in the cage of his arms, pressing back against him for warmth. Hannibal doesn't speak, just scoops him up in his arms and starts walking back towards the house. Will doesn't even have the energy to snarl or writhe free. He goes limp instead, drifting again.

Hannibal doesn't do anything but deposit him back into the bed upstairs and climb straight back on top of him, and Will is only dimly aware of his comforting weight pressing him down into the mattress before he falls asleep. This time, there are no dreams. There's nothing but blissful dark and sapid, heavy warmth.

When Will wakes, he's aware of stinging scratches on his skin; mud under his fingernails. He groans, softly, not entirely verbal just yet.

The body against his stirs: Hannibal, shifting his weight. Turning to peer at him, Will takes in his sleeping scent, calm and soothing. He looks so peaceful. A cut on the bridge of his nose, his cheek. His hair is askew, and he looks... harmless. Will knows bone-deep how deceiving it is.

Slowly, experimentally, he moves his limbs. Outside of being half beneath Hannibal, he's sore in ways he didn't know he could be, and his feet feel like they might be in ribbons, but outside of that - and the wound in his throat - he's relatively intact. His eyes drift to the door, and his mind to his car keys. He's still not sure he'll survive this.

He decides, heart in his throat, that if he runs again, and Hannibal catches him, he won't: Hannibal will only forgive so many times. It goes against his every instinct to stay where he is and force his breathing to regulate.

When he glances again, Hannibal's eyes are open. Will bares his teeth automatically in warning, though all Hannibal does is lift a hand to idly pick some debris out of Will's curls. "I'd like to treat your cuts," he murmurs in a sleepy voice.

Swallowing, Will just nods. "Thank you."

"Stay here," Hannibal orders softly.

Will just nods, watching him slip out of bed, as composed today as he wasn't last night. This is what the inevitable feels like, he thinks. He isn't sure he's not more curious than afraid. Like something has wakened that has been slumbering inside him.

Will waits until Hannibal returns with his first aid kit, and then carefully levers himself up. He sheds the waistband of his boxers, clinging to the remnants of the fabric Hannibal tore, with an exhausted lack of modesty. Hannibal comes silently and holds a hand out to him. "It might be easier after a shower."

Will nods and lets himself be led. His feet sting, and Hannibal helps him sit down in the tray before getting in with him, expression perfectly worshipful as he tends to Will's feet, rinsing each carefully like Mary Magdalene at the feet of Christ. In fact, each touch is gentleness personified. Will's eyes sting a bit, and he rubs his face quickly, swallowing. It still feels like a betrayal.

The rest of the scratches are shallow, other than the throbbing bite. Not quite a true mating mark, but it will scar, he knows it already. He meets Hannibal's gaze, trying not to feel surly about it: he doesn't regret it, but maybe that's the problem. He's overwhelmed.

"Seeking hatred and not finding it, Will?" Hannibal whispers. He's very close in the shower, hands carefully checking for splinters, picking out a few thorns and shreds of bark from the soles of Will's feet with tweezers. He doesn't look vulnerable even now, with his belly and his thighs and his soft cock on show; his wet hair hanging in his eyes. He looks like everything Will could want.

Still, when he leans in Will puts a hand to his chest, perhaps to hold him off. He even presses his nails in a bit. Hannibal's eyes are opaque in the pale blue light.

"If you want me to leave, Will, you need only ask."

He waits until Will meets his gaze. When he looks into it, tinged red, he sees how this could end: Will, with a brain infection, accusing a mutual friend of being a serial killer. The serial killer. The man who put his hands on their shoulders and steered them through the dark like Prometheus on the mountain. He lets Hannibal see everything he's thinking.

"I wanted you so badly," Will whispers, "should have been careful what I wished for."

"Wanted? Past tense?" The fact that he dares sound disappointed - even proverbially - makes Will rasp a laugh.

"You're an untreatable disease. I caught you, but I can't cure you."

"You can understand how insulting that sounds?" Hannibal murmurs. Will notes that he doesn't say rude.

"That doesn't mean it's wrong." Hannibal doesn't answer him. Will gazes at him; wipes his blurring eyes again. "Hannibal."

"Will," Hannibal replies. "You don't mean because of your heat."

"No," Will admits quietly. "No, it's been much longer than that."

"And now that you've caught me..." Hannibal murmurs, "will you keep looking for a cure?"

"Is there one?" Will retorts. "Other than the obvious."

"Not for me. For most people, I am terminal."

"And how long is that prognosis, Doctor?" he murmurs.

"You tell me."

Will sighs. "Hannibal. What do you want from me?"

"Everything. Anything I can have." He sounds completely sincere.

"Why?" Will asks quietly, voice pricked with pain.

"Because there is no one like you. And no one like me. Only us."

"Alone, together."

"Is it so terrible?"

It isn't. Not really. Will faces a disconnect between what he knows and what he feels. It's making it hard to think. "I still feel like my head is somewhere else," he complains.

"Your head - and your mind - is where it's always been."

"Out of my control?"

"In my care," Hannibal corrects. Will takes a deep breath. "You have no proof for what you've surmised," Hannibal reminds him, such a gentle threat, "and an accusation, if actionable in even the smallest of ways, will throw Abigail into question, too. Better to do what Uncle Jack has trained you to do, or to act on your own instinct? You know as well as I do that murder is the invention of man."

A philosophical argument, of course.

"We are beholden to our self-imposed rules of society," Will agrees quietly, "but 'self-imposed' doesn't mean 'optional'."

"Doesn't it? For those of us with the understanding and will to choose?" His eyes gleam. He's still so close, intent, rapt.

"You're so entertained by my wrestling, aren't you, Doctor?" Will says, unable to keep his mouth from twisting.

"Entertained?" he repeats softly. "I'm in awe of you, Will."

"I don't believe that."

For a moment, Hannibal looks like he wants to hurt him. It's in the twitch of his upper lip, his expression still otherwise. That's it, Will sees. That's the regard Hannibal has for him - anyone else would be crushed beneath the tidal wave of his wrath. Will is - can remain - exempt.

It's the most convincing thing Hannibal could let him see. Part of him acknowledges that he keeps pushing because he wants to see, one way or the other. And despite its clear emotional lure, Hannibal's baiting about Abigail rings true.

"If I accuse you, and it sticks," Will starts, "I'll be alone again." And so will Hannibal. "And if it doesn't," Will continues, "I'll probably disappear." He doesn't need to specify if he'd disappear under his own power or Hannibal's.

"This way, everyone thrives," Hannibal presses. This time, he lifts his hand to Will's cheek.

It's easy, to pretend it's another threat. Will swallows his guilt and quickly nods. He wants the touch. He wants Hannibal. More than he's ever wanted anything. And he doesn't think it will change after his heat. After all, it's not new, as much as he hates to admit it.

At the thought, he finally lets his arm fold, and Hannibal presses closer. As close as he can get. Their noses brush and Will breathes in his scent, strong even through the water. He can't help but pull him closer. Hannibal's eyes are locked on him, dark and avid.

"And us," he whispers, "will we thrive?"

"I want that, Hannibal," Will murmurs back.

"As do I."

Will feels hands thread into his wet hair. He swallows the fear and allows Hannibal to steer their mouths together. Just the feel of the alpha's kiss is enough to make him moan. That horrible, urgent trickle of need has been deep in him since he woke up now, but it runs over now. He can ignore it, can't he?

"Hannibal," he hisses against his lips.

"Will." He says it so softly. Then kisses him again. "Tell me what you need."

"Some first aid wouldn't go amiss, Doctor."

"What kind, Will?"

"You're the doctor here."

"Tricky boy," Hannibal murmurs.

Will just shrugs. He has a feeling it's not an insult.

"Let's get you out of the water then."

He takes the shower head down and, with Will's shower gel, carefully washes the rest of him, soothing the jet over tender bruises and bites. He brushes his fingers through Will's wet curls to rid him of stray leaves and pine needles, and then applies the same clinical thoroughness to between Will's thighs. His tenderness is starling.

Once they're both clean of the last of the grime, Hannibal dries Will gently, and then he carries him back to bed. The first aid kit comes back into play. Hannibal treats and dresses his feet, using ointment on the smaller scrapes on his face and limbs. Once again, his care makes Will's eyes sting afresh. He feels cherished. Protected, even by the one he ran from.

"I bet you were an amazing ER doctor," he muses.

"Yes," Hannibal murmurs, with little modesty. Will has to smile.

"Happy to benefit now," he murmurs back.

A little smile at that, while Hannibal sticks down a few butterfly closures. When he's done, he tidies away the trash while Will gives in to the urge to close his eyes and breathe. Hannibal smells exceptionally good, earthy and spicy, protective and ready for conflict. Maybe not conflict with him... not anymore.

Will wets his lips to scent it more with his tongue, and suppresses a small shudder. He doesn't know why he bothers - he knows Hannibal sees.

"Let me cook you some breakfast," he tells Will.

Will feels a whine build in his chest. He's awake now - all his senses are awake. "Breakfast sounds good, thank you," he whispers. He only jumps a little when Hannibal leans down for a lingering kiss before getting out of bed.

"Try and get a little more rest, Will."

Not likely, he thinks with a little huff. Even so, he curls down in the covers when he's alone, warmth stirring in his belly. His body feels so curiously alive, even with the stinging scrapes. He wonders if the hormones are accelerating the healing. Either way, he feels better. And ravenous, especially with the scents rising from the kitchen.

They never did eat Hannibal's dinner, but Will only derives a small amount of satisfaction in wasting it. He's mostly worried by how little it bothers him. Worried by how right Hannibal is - his motivations are selfish. They always have been, he's just always fought it. Fought himself. For as long as he's been aware, he's wrestled the devil inside of himself, an ornate and grueling dance and clash. Now he knows that it's merely a beast. One of a matched pair. Something that demands to lock jaws with its mate and snarl and spit. Because it knows its mate is strong enough to take it.

It's enough of a revelation to freeze him in his spot, vibrating between tense and boneless. Hannibal, he thinks, has made quite the impression on him.

He touches his forehead, gently, but the skin is cool and dry. The heat is sated for now, though Will knows it's unlikely to remain that way without conception, not until it naturally ebbs. The doctor had told him to expect "frequent" recurrences in the next days, and only stressed the necessity of staying on track with his encephalitis treatments.

Will should maybe see to that, he thinks blurrily. He can at least be trusted with that much. But for now, he needs to rest.

To his surprise, he does find himself roused from sleep when Hannibal gently smooths a hand through his hair. "I brought you your medication," he whispers, "you can take it after breakfast."

Will blinks his eyes open and sees Hannibal setting a tray on the bedside table. "Smells good," he whispers.

"Something light and healthy," Hannibal responds. "Could you eat now?"

"Think so." He levers himself up carefully, aching all over.

Hannibal touches his forehead with the back of his hand. Will thinks he should tell him to back off, but the contact is so good he just swallows and tips into it, letting himself appear feeble for a moment. They both know the truth.

"Tolerably warm," Hannibal decides, and then settles the tray on the mattress between them. "Spanish omelet and fresh fruit," he murmurs.

"Together?" Will says dryly, and nearly balks when Hannibal cuts off a forkful of the omelet and offers it to him, completely straight faced. It must be instinct that has him opening his mouth.

He'd grumble about it if it really bothered him. Meanwhile, the omelet is delicious. It hasn't escaped his notice that it's vegetarian.

"S'good," he says when he's swallowed, watching Hannibal take a bite himself.

"Thank you, Will."

"Thank you." He waits, fidgeting, as Hannibal cuts another bite. This is deliberately fed to him as well. Will rails against the imposed helplessness for a moment longer, and then relaxes. He eats the rest of what is presented, and he obediently swallows the handful of pills with a glass of juice.

Hannibal's expression is endlessly pleased and docile when he puts the tray to one side and settles down next to Will. "How are you feeling?"

"Sore," Will murmurs, "but... I feel awake. No sleep walking."

"I am delighted to hear it."

"You and me both." He looks up at Hannibal- just studies him for a minute. He waits it out with his usual grace. Every moment of his closeness lets his scent curl into Will's lungs.

"How did you happen, Hannibal?" Will whispers.

"That isn't what most people would ask."

"Is it off limits?"

"It's... the right question. But I am not sure I have an answer."

"Not ever?"

"Just not today." He touches Will's chest briefly. "I find that I'm not in my clearest state of mind."

"I can empathize with that."

"I imagine you can."

Will covers his hand on his chest. "Tell me how you see this ending."

"'This', being you and I?"

"More like the situation we're in."

"I see several outcomes. Some pleasurable, most tragic. I would prefer to avoid tragedy, where possible."

Will laughs shortly. "A good goal." Hannibal smiles in agreement. "Give me the roadmap to one of the good ones, Hannibal."

"We help Abigail clear her name, and get her back on her feet, and we quietly withdraw from the FBI," Hannibal says softly. "And we stay together."

It all sounds so reasonable. Right. And - pleasurable, as Hannibal said.

"What happens to the Ripper?" Will whispers. It's the only loose end. The biggest loose end of all.

Hannibal weaves a little in consideration. "He has disappeared before."

"You know Jack won't stop looking."

"He won't find what he's looking for without help." Without you, is what he means. But still.

"Do you really want to take that chance?"

"Avoiding it altogether involves tragedy."

"But some tragedies are worse than others?"

"Objectively, from person to person, certainly."

"I don't want it to be ours," Will murmurs.

"Neither do I. Do you trust me to take care of it?" Hannibal asks evenly.

Will takes a shaky breath. "Do I have a choice?"

"Participation," Hannibal replies. "To keep an eye on me, if you insist."

"Participation..." Will shakes his head.

"Then I'm afraid you'll have to trust me."

"Trust is something you earn."

"Tell me how," Hannibal murmurs, eyes flashing deep red.

"You need me to tell you?"

"I love to witness your mind at work, Will," he obfuscates, adding a nuzzle to his neck.

"You love to watch it race," Will counters, without heat.

Hannibal nuzzles again. "Is it racing now?"

"It's jogging."

"Any other physical effects I should be aware of?"

"When it comes to you? Plenty."

"I'd like to hear more about them all."

With a sigh, Will guides his hand to the left of his chest, over his heart. "This is what's racing."

Nodding, Hannibal visibly concentrates, like he's never felt anything like it. His eyes slip closed. Will can see him inhale. And when he leans in, Will offers his throat for inspection.

His nose, then his lips, brush the swollen gland so close to the pounding artery. It makes Will shiver, being so vulnerable.

"This is where we would traditionally place the bites," Hannibal murmurs against the skin.

The true mating bite. The mutual one. "I never quite understood it," Will admits.

"It's not the done thing anymore, really," Hannibal tells him, lips still gently roaming.

"Why not?" He can't help that it sounds breathless.

"Society likes to deny its instincts."

"It's become bloodless," Will agrees.

He hears Hannibal's little huff of amusement. "A regrettable state of affairs."

Will laughs, even as the timbre of his voice sends shivers up his spine. "You would think that."

"Will," Hannibal chides gently. "You do too. Don't you?"

"I do when you say it like that."

He feels Hannibal's smile this time, against the blade of his jaw. "It's starting again, isn't it?"

"It never really stopped."

"You know what I mean, Will. Tell me what you're feeling now."

"Hot," Will admits, voice coming out wobbly.

"I trust you don't mean the encephalitis."

"God," it's a complaint this time.

"Tell me how hot, Will."

"Why don't you find out?"

Hannibal pushes himself up on one arm, leaning over him. He looks unapologetically delighted. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate the invitation."

"That's why I suggest you show me." Will stretches underneath Hannibal, pressing their bodies together. With another indulgent smile, Hannibal reaches down his body to stroke over him through his boxers.

"Yes," he murmurs, voice thoughtful. "You feel hot. May I take these off?" It's polite, but Will can hear the growl in it.

"Yeah," he nods quickly.

Hannibal strips him quickly enough to leave little red nail tracks on his hips. It sets another little flare of need firing up Will's spine, making him arch as Hannibal takes him gently in hand. He strokes with one hand while the other dips down behind Will's tightly-drawn balls. He strokes gently with a finger, settling on his knees between Will's thighs. "Stunning," he tells Will softly, "everything about you seems so beautifully designed."

Will gazes up at him, as his eyes gleaming red behind half-closed lids. "Can't say that's not mutual right now."

"It should be," Hannibal purrs. "We are designed for one another."

"I assume you mean - more than just biologically."

"I mean in every way." He teases in with a finger, and Will automatically tilts his hips up with a hiss. "But I admit I am enjoying the physical aspects," Hannibal growls softly.

"Again, it's mutual," Will whispers. His stomach flutters with the sensations building. Hannibal seems to know exactly how to touch; how to stroke with those two careful fingers, his other hand still loose around Will's cock. Will can feel the slick easing their way, and he turns his face into his arm, breaths quickening, practically melting into the mattress. It's so hard not to spread himself wide and plead for more. But - why bother stopping himself? That low level of self-preservation; instinctive fear of anything with bigger teeth than he has. Not that it will help him now, he acknowledges dimly. Hannibal's teeth are entirely too close to Will's femoral artery for fear to be any use. Now, though, it's not violence that he sees on Hannibal's face.

"Will," he coaxes him gently, "do you want me to stop?"

Will bares his teeth, a desperate whine ripping free. "No!"

"Look at me," Hannibal commands, voice light.

Will forces his eyes to connect to the alpha's. Doesn't let them waver even when the deep, smooth beckons of Hannibal's fingers have his cock twitching against his belly. More noises escape him.

"That's right," Hannibal soothes. The low rumble of a growl underlined all his words, though, and Will can smell him leaking, his scent rising. He's over-tender from the sheer ferocity of last night's events, but he can't stop rocking up into Hannibal's touch. Soon the slick of his body eases the ache, and he can't hold back a moan.

"Is it not enough?" Hannibal whispers.

Will knows it will please him to hear that it isn't. He shakes his head, and those red eyes flash.

With his plush upper lip crooked in a near-snarl, Hannibal presses deeper with another finger too. This time, Will's hips kick up and he makes a pained, needy sound. He sees Hannibal scent the air again. He breathes Will's name softly, the gape of the borrowed shirt on him tantalizing, the strain of the boxers on his thighs, not hiding a thing.

Will can't help staring. All that can be his.

"Hannibal," he breathes. "Please..."

"What is it, Will? Tell me what you need."

"I need your knot in me, I need it so bad, please..." He pants shallowly, fingers twisting into the sheets.

With his jaw slack at the words, looking every bit the predator, Hannibal nods and starts to twist out of the t-shirt. As soon as he's bare, Will reaches up and rakes his nails down his chest. They exchange snarls as Hannibal slaps his hands back down against the mattress before flipping him onto his belly, flattening him with his weight.

Groaning, Will rubs his cock down against the mattress. Everything blazes with sensation, his cheek and shoulders and thighs against the sheets, Hannibal's hand in the middle of his shoulders as he snatches down his shorts and guides his leaking cock to Will's cunt.

They both growl as he thrusts inside, no resistance. Will is copiously wet just from his teasing, the sound of it lewd under the current of their rushed breaths. He pushes his hips back and up, as hard and as high as he can, and above him, Hannibal groans softly, rumbling and low.

He feels so impossibly hot and thick. Will has never craved like this before. He's willing to say anything, do anything – and he doesn't think he's the only one.

Hannibal's hands and movements are both rough, his skin against Will's nape hot as he drags the sandpaper of his cheek there. It feels so good it makes Will tremble beneath him. He pushes his hips up, spine a rollercoaster.

"Give it to me," he growls when Hannibal's thrusts remain shallow.

"Soon," Hannibal grits. He nips at the back of Will's neck again.

"Now," Will argues through a hiss.

Hannibal's lips shift to the bandaged bite on the back of his shoulder, and he sinks his teeth gently into the wadding to make Will wince.

"Mine," he says softly.

Will can't deny it. He is.

"Then bite me again," he whispers. "You know how."

A little, shaky inhale at that. "Will -"

Verbal isn't working, so Will just rocks back into him, baring his throat and whining for it. He pushes with his shoulders, up to his knees, until Hannibal takes his weight. He snaps his hips harshly a few times, startling a few cries out of Will at the new angle. If it's a distraction technique it works wonders. Will claws behind him for a grip, giving an indignant, desperate little moan.

He lets his head loll back. He has to touch himself; to stroke quick over his leaking cock, slick, squeezing motions of his hand that have him on the edge in seconds.

He hears Hannibal's indrawn breath.

"I'd like to see," he whispers against Will's ear, "how many times we can make you come before I knot you."
The sound Will makes isn't even a whine. It's more desperate than that, half dismayed, half encouraging. Mostly only dismayed at the delay.

Hannibal's hand takes over from his as he fucks him quicker, covering Will's cock so that only the head peeks out from the circle of his fist, his movements smooth and fast. Will has no idea how he keeps himself so calm, not when Will can't keep quiet; can't keep from squirming into it and clenching and clutching at him as he draws nearer to the first.

He feels the edge of it like a nail up his spine, and pants a few stray, wordless pleas, until Hannibal works him faster. When he spills with a shout, Hannibal slows down but doesn't let go.

"Hannibal," Will chokes on it. Thighs trembling.

"I told you," Hannibal breathes. "I'm curious." He sounds more ragged now as well though. Will can feel him getting somehow harder as he rocks.

"How long can you go like this?" Will breathes back. "I can smell you, you know."

"As long as it takes," Hannibal assures softly. He licks gently along the side of Will's neck. He's grooming, and scenting, pacing himself on Will's smell while Will gathers himself.

Somehow Will knows this, but he couldn't have known how it would make him feel: embarrassingly cared for. He wants to melt into the bed; never to surface from the murky waters of this time. Whether it's his hormones or just the weight of his swirling emotions, he's not sure. Either way, he starts to grumble considerably when Hannibal pulls away. But it's only to flip him over and slide down his body.

"Fuck," Will gasps, grabbing at the pillow underneath his head as Hannibal takes Will's cock gently in his mouth. His fingers are already teasing again, thumb smoothing over the soft, vestigial sack at the base of his cock. Will's heels press down for purchase in the sheets.

"How beautifully made you are," Hannibal murmurs, his pupils blown wide, desire obvious outside of the gleaming flush of his cock. His self-restraint must be inhuman, Will thinks. His own, however, is not. He can feel a whine building deep in his throat.

"Hannibal," he breathes. "Hannibal, I need more than that, please -" Three fingers sliding inside cuts him off. "Yes," he chokes, fisting at the sheets and hisses through his teeth: Hannibal is taking no prisoners.

Hannibal bares his own in turn, fingers working quick against the nerves that make Will arch and clench, slick welling up between them. Will is blooming, dripping under Hannibal's steady ministrations. It crawls through his veins like hot molasses. He doesn't know how it's possible he still feels so desperate, but he does. Panting long and vocal, he lets go of the sheets and his fingers claw at Hannibal's shoulders.

"More," he snarls, senses eclipsed by the need.

Once again, it's met with an answering gnash, Hannibal's lips wet and red, breath misting Will's hot, damp skin. He pushes in with a fourth finger, the stretch enough to make Will whimper. Hannibal knows how to stroke to make him feel good, he seems to know everything about Will.

It's infuriating, and arousing. Maddening to be known so completely. Will turns his cheek against the pillow and cries out sharp and incoherent at the thought. He can smell his own scent rising, Hannibal's twisting to join it. His insides cry out for the one thing Hannibal won't give him, and his cock is aching too, a delicious throb that circuits through his nerves like electricity. He's overwhelmed to the point that even Hannibal's hot breath feels like a caress. He's never wanted so unabashedly.

"Stop holding back," he growls softly down at Hannibal - at his alpha. It's a challenge and an appeal to his instincts, and it stirs something in his chiseled face.

Hannibal leans over him, fingers working mercilessly inside in quick, wet thrusts. His other hand finds the column of Will's throat. He traces the edge of last night's bite, fingertips pressing into the tender skin.

"Please, Hannibal."

"Is that what you want?" he says in a low voice.

"It's what you want. What's the difference?"

"None - if you mean that."

Will shrugs a shoulder up. "Difficult to see where your influence ends, sometimes."

"It begins, and ends, with my desire to be with you," Hannibal murmurs. "Where does your influence begin in that, Will?" He never stops moving his hand. Words come as from far away.

"You tell me," Will breathes. He meets Hannibal's golden eyes.

"You've always had influence over me." Hannibal licks his lips. "You just didn't realize."

"That's why I'm still here?" Will whispers.

"You're still here because you're mine."

"So make me yours. I want you to. I do."

He doesn't know what he expects, but it's not the controlled explosion of motion he gets as Hannibal extracts his hand and hauls him up into his lap with a growl. The grip on his hips is iron clad, the gleam of mirth gone from his eyes. He isn't playing anymore.

Neither is Will. He angles his hips to grind down hard and seeking: Hannibal is so close to where he's meant to be.

"Hannibal," Will repeats. He has to hope his influence at least stretches this far.

"Trust me, Will," Hannibal murmurs, "to take care of you as I always have."

"I do," Will murmurs, closing his eyes. He feels Hannibal's lips trailing his throat even as the rocks of their hips grow with intent. "Knot me," Will growls in his ear.

Dutifully, and with a growl of his own, Hannibal snatches him down onto his cock. Finally. Will can't restrain a shout at the raw stretch of him. It's burning, tender, so much and still not enough even now. He keeps rocking down, though, desperately keening for more, low in his throat. Hannibal's lips press to his neck, breath hot. He's pulling Will down into driving thrusts in turn, every breath a moan. The path is slick, their sounds obscene. Will sinks his fingers into Hannibal's hair, knuckles white, face crushed into his throat as his hips drive helplessly.

In the end, he's the first to bite. It's not an impulse he could hope to have curbed, and Hannibal bears it with a snarling cry as the taste of blood drives Will to a frenzied pace, sinking his teeth deeper and hanging on.

Hannibal bears him suddenly down onto the mattress in one smooth motion; shoves Will's knees unceremoniously down against his chest and knots him to the hilt with a punishing thrust of his hips. Will arches and cries, something deep and primal even muffled in his mouthful of flesh, and that's when Hannibal's teeth flash white, his eyes red.

Will's eyes roll back with the force of his orgasm, a bolt of lightning from the harsh pressure of Hannibal's teeth, sinking and slicing. He feels like it splits the sky, splits his very body and lets Hannibal flood inside, so deep Will feels it. They're locked together now in every sense of the word, blood spilled, breath catching, bodies shaking as one.

Hannibal's hips pulse when his jaw tenses, and Will whines around his flesh. Nothing hurts, because he's not sure where his own nerves start and Hannibal's end. He just knows he feels compressed and filled and secured in perfect balance. Leisurely now, he rolls his hips experimentally, driving the knot farther inside. In turn, Hannibal rumbles low in his chest, clutching him. His teeth slowly unclench, his tongue working the wound instead, but Will can't quite bring himself to let go yet, not until the ache in his jaw grows too great and he finally pulls away. Though they're still joined; he can't go far.

He sates himself with licking over the wound and writhing his hips up again. Each motion makes Hannibal's arms tighten, and he gives a soft growl against Will's throat, meeting his movements helplessly, rendering both of them gasping.

Will's head spins. He's surprised to realize he's dizzyingly close again, like a font that isn't quite empty. Hannibal can barely thrust, but he doesn't need to, they just squirm together, sensation seeking, animal, everything wet and hot. Will's moan builds up from his toes to the tips of his fingers, still fastened in Hannibal's hair, and they tense, relax, shiver and sigh in near unison, their final sparks of pleasure finally dying off. Will thinks he might be crying, but he can't be sure.

Hannibal's eyes are dewy too, lashes dark with it. Their lips smudge and catch, and they're still clutching one another, stuck fast and thoroughly sated. Whatever Will is, Hannibal is too. His matched pair, the other half of him.

Maybe Will should be afraid of what that says about him, but he can't feel fear in this moment, though. Only fire. Slowly, he relaxes under Hannibal's weight, a slow rumbling sounding against his ear, very much like a purr. He combs his fingers through Hannibal's fine hair, and wonders how far this will all go. They've exchanged binding marks. That means something. It means absolutely everything.

Despite himself, and the ways he's sneered at such prospects in the past, Will feels strangely proud now. Chosen. The bearer of some terrible, unholy secret, and the subject of one, too.

The thought makes him clutch Hannibal tighter, breathing through his exhaustion as sleep steals over them both.


When Hannibal wakes, they've separated again in their sleep. Will is still beneath him, relaxed and quietly breathing. Hannibal scents him nearly habitually now, and finds it subtly changed. Something warm and earthy as the base note. No siren wail of neat desire there, now. He smells of satisfaction, and clarity. His heat must be abating at last. And with it, maybe a heat of another kind. No more fever. Just lingering warmth, and sweetness.

Hannibal breathes in again and gives in to the urge to groom his throat, ignoring that his own throbs with faint discomfort. He aches all over.

Under the attention, Will's breathing changes, and Hannibal hears his soft inhale. Then another. He's scenting too, Hannibal sees. He completes his own olfactory analysis as Will yawns and shivers beneath him.

"What do you smell, Doctor?" he croaks finally. It's shockingly easy to indulge him.

"You're not afraid of me," Hannibal finally whispers, conclusively, "and you're feeling better."

"You can smell that?"

"Your fever is less noticeable."

"And fear?"

"A very distinct scent," Hannibal says against his jaw. "Noticeable in its absence."

Will sighs. Hannibal fancies he's still very much aware they're under the influence of their bonding, rutting pheromones, not overly concerned for the fact.

"I'm curious, though."

Hannibal makes an inviting noise.

"What happens now?" Will strokes his hair, even that small intimacy enough to jar Hannibal with relief, despite all their greater familiarity. "With us. Jack. Does our plan still stand? Or was that..?"

Hannibal sniffs. "Placation? Fevered promises?"

"Either. We both know that no matter how disciplined you are, what you do is a compulsion. I'd wager even you occasionally underestimate the power it has over you. I don't want you to make any promises you'd resent keeping."

Hannibal can't quite deny that's true. "The only thing I never underestimate is you, Will."

"Is this a matter of influence again, then? You don't underestimate my ability to curb you? That's a lot of responsibility."

"Only as much as you wish to take." He tilts his head. "Or as much as you can. I think you may be overconfident in just how restrained you'd like me to be."

Will shivers as the words wash across his skin. He's discomfited by the notion, Hannibal thinks, but he doesn't deny it either.

"I can't control you," he admits, "I'd be a fool to think I could."

"Then what will you ask of me, Will?" Hannibal murmurs. He watches Will consider, his pale eyes taking on that opal quality in the sheltered dark of his room. There's a scratch on his cheek, and Hannibal smooths over it with his thumb.

"I just want you to promise... that if we get out of this, and get Abigail clear... you'll do everything you can to protect that life. You won't be reckless."

"I can promise," Hannibal says slowly, "that I will cherish it, and protect you, with everything I am and have."

"And it's what you really want?" Will asks. Even now, he's not convinced he's sufficient to hold Hannibal's attention, it seems. If only he knew how he's occupied Hannibal's thoughts since the moment they met.

Hannibal reaches out and touches the torn skin of his throat. He thinks of the way Will had seen through him nearly effortlessly; how quickly the fear passed. "More than anything. You claimed me," he reminds Will. "Now keep me."

"For better or for worse," Will promises.

He's done it deliberately, Hannibal is sure. They'll be one another's jailers. And, Hannibal suspects, they'll enjoy it immensely. "We'll begin planning tomorrow. For now, I want you to focus on getting better." He cups Will's cheek, studying his face. "I think it will go quickly now."

"Under your care?" Will doesn't quite manage to sound scathing.

"My most dedicated care."

"You certainly go above and beyond."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing exceptionally."

"Including being your own cure, I guess."

"Is it working?" Hannibal replies.

"You're making remarkable progress."

"Then I shall continue on as I have been?" Hannibal risks a small smile and a kiss to his neck.

"Whatever you'd recommend, Doctor."

Hannibal can hear the small purr in Will's voice, and affectionately, he draws a hand up his chest. It's impossible not to marvel at him, compact and flushed against him, curls wild and his skin fragrant with rut and pleasure. He bears marks, Hannibal's, and those from their run. Hannibal can still smell the traces of himself on Will, inside him.

He's perfect. Hannibal could never have predicted just how much, and now that he does, his joy is incomparable. He's found something in Will he never thought to look for. Someone who understands him, and somehow wants him regardless. Not just an equal, but a mate.