Will struggled to load all the shopping bags into his arms. Fucking Hannibal, he’d had to go to three different markets, all on Hannibal’s approved vegetable vendor’s list of course, before he found endives that were remotely passable. He better be getting a hell of a blowjob for this.
There had been a time, right after Hannibal had fished him out of the Atlantic, that Will would have reveled in bringing home bruised endives and the wrong type of mushroom. Will had spent months resenting the life Hannibal gave back to him, this chance to live with a monster instead of his family. He made it his mission to make Hannibal frown, to watch the vein in the doctor’s forehead throb, to prove to himself and to Hannibal that this little dream the cannibal had clung to for years was really a nightmare.
But Will grew tired of reckonings. It was hard to nurture his anger when he kept finding happiness around every corner. He let himself do something he’d contemplated for months, maybe years — kissing Hannibal one morning as the Doctor read the paper. One little kiss turned into days in bed, and now Will found that he was the type of man who wandered through the produce section of three different markets, hoping the proper endives would bring a smile to his husband’s face.
He found he didn’t mind his own reckoning as much as he thought he might.
Will broke from his reverie when he felt a wet nose press to his hand. He frowned. Hannibal never left Harvey in the yard after sunset. The dog was practically as big as Will, but Hannibal was convinced that a maned wolf would make off with him if Harvey was left alone for a moment after sundown. Will had argued that it was unlikely that Harvey would be gobbled up by a wolf. It was far more likely the giant furball would die from high cholesterol thanks to Hannibal’s incessant need to feed him. But apparently, Hannibal had watched the Discovery Channel and there was no arguing with that.
“Hey, buddy? Does your papa know you’re out he-” Will paused, there was a piece of paper pinned to Harvey’s collar. He set the groceries down, ignoring Harvey when he immediately stuck his head in the paper bag.
One man, armed with a knife, put Harvey in the garage before you come in.
Will felt a little zing of fury ripple down his spine. If Hannibal had time to let the dog out and write a note, he probably had the situation under control. But the thought of anyone but him leaving a mark on Hannibal’s skin made Will seethe.
Will ushered Harvey into the garage, left the groceries with him to keep the dog quiet, and pulled his work knife from his pants. He banged the door as he entered the house, announcing his presence lest he startle whoever was in their house.
“In the living room, handsome.” Hannibal’s voice was steady and strong. He said handsome so there was no one hiding by the doorway and the exits were clear, that was a small mercy, at least.
Will padded toward the living room, keeping his hands in his pockets as he rounded the corner. Hannibal sat in Will’s favorite chair, a hideous orange tweed lounger he’d found at a junk shop. He’d bought the thing just to watch Hannibal’s eye twitch, but damned if it wasn’t comfortable. Hannibal sat regally on his polyester throne, no small feat considering the stream of blood trickling from his forehead. His hands seemed to be bound behind his back, and his feet were tied in what might have been a shredded kitchen towel.
Will tsked, sloppy work.
There was a man shifting behind Hannibal, a bundle of coiled muscles and nervous energy. The man was fit and on the younger side of 40, with a beady, rat-like stare and close-cropped hair. He had a large bowie knife pressed to Hannibal’s throat, and Will felt his vision go white with rage that anyone dared touch his husband.
Hannibal looked up and sighed. “Will, thank goodness you’re home.”
Will stepped forward but stilled when the blade dug into Hannibal’s throat. “Are you alright?”
“A trifle bored.”
“SHUT UP!” The man shouted, stepping to the side so he could backhand Hannibal. The strike split Hannibal’s lip, the doctor rolling his eyes before tonguing at the blood.
“DON’T YOU TOUCH HIM!” Will snarled. He moved to lunge but Hannibal shook his head minutely. OK then, Hannibal was apparently in the mood to play. Will took a steadying breath. “What do you want?”
“I found you.” The man smiled, open and eager.
Will recoiled from the treacly joy he felt coming off the man. “Obviously.”
“Once I got out, I knew you’d want me to find you.” The knife was back at Hannibal’s throat, Will did his best to focus on the words coming out of the man’s mouth. “I knew you’d leave me clues, let me track you down, it was harder than I thought.”
“It can’t possibly be harder than listening to this,” Hannibal deadpanned.
The man smacked Hannibal again. The doctor winked at Will.
“You don’t need him, he’s old and-”
“I’m not old.”
Will grinned. “You’re pushing sixty.”
Hannibal huffed. “I can’t believe I made you lemon cake.”
“The kind with the poppy seeds?” Will felt a swell of affection. After he stitched up Hannibal’s head, he’d feed slices of lemon cake to his cannibal in bed.
“WILL!” The knife scraped across Hannibal’s neck, not enough pressure to do anything terrible, but Will’s gut soured when he saw the blood well. The man cleared his throat, trying to compose himself. “Mr. Graham, you don’t need to pretend anymore, I’m free and we-”
Will didn’t care about Hannibal’s game anymore. He was tired, Harvey was no doubt eating the powdered doughnuts he’d bought at the store, and he wanted to get Hannibal into a hot bath and inspect him for injuries. “Who are you?”
The man drew back, looking genuinely wounded. Will could have laughed. Hannibal raised an eyebrow. “I’ve been asking him for hours. He won’t say, but he does seem to know you.”
Will looked at him again, squinting as he tried to see beyond the immediate threat to his happy home. The rodent face, the overeager, puppy energy, he did know him…from his old life, the one that he’d drawn a hazy curtain over years ago. He could picture the man bouncing on the balls of his feet speaking with odd hand flourishes…he knew him…he knew…
“Were you the guy at the print lab? The tech who had all those anime posters at his station?”
“WHAT?” The man had stepped away from Hannibal fully now, that was good. Will just needed to draw him a little closer into striking range. “Mr. Graham, what’s he done to you? We’re hawks, remember?”
Something floated into Will’s mind. The smell of industrial disinfectant and iron bars.
I am always happy to do a favor for a friend.
“Did you belong to an ornithology club, Will?” Will glared at his husband as the intruder wheeled on Hannibal, striking him again.
“SHUT UP!” The man was getting agitated, which of course meant Hannibal would push him further. Sometimes, Will swore Hannibal liked getting stabbed.
“If you hit him one more time, your death is going to be excruciating,” Will warned, trying to draw the man’s focus.
“You…you sent me to kill him!” A trembling voice echoed in the room, Will watched as the man turned back to him, looking positively offended. “I’m your reckoning.”
Will tilted his head. “Right. I remember you, Martin.”
The man’s face crumpled. Wrong guess, fuck.
Luckily, it only seemed to draw the man closer — just a few more steps. “MY NAME IS-”
“Marco?” Another wrong guess would only bring him closer.
“Polo.” Hannibal grinned as his assailant stomped back to menace him some more. When this was over, Will was going to backhand Hannibal, then kiss the ever-living-shit out of him.
“It’s your fault he doesn’t remember. What did you do-”
“In Will’s defense, he was recovering from encephalitis at the time,” Hannibal smirked. “Also, you’re rather dull.”
Will rubbed his temples, casting a weary look at Hannibal. “Is this really what you want to do tonight?”
Hannibal grinned. Not-Marco looked up, eyes hopeful before pressing the blade into Hannibal’s neck. “Yes. I want us to kill him together, like hawks.”
Will rolled his eyes. “Sounds good, Marvin, he’s more trouble than he’s worth.”
The man whipped his head around, blade leaving Hannibal’s throat. “I’m not-”
“Will, surely you know Montgomery’s name.”
“Shut up, I’m-”
“It’s not Montgomery, it’s…Morgan?”
“Surely not, perhaps Mitchell.”
Blade off. Hannibal made a face. “Mads?”
“Like the actor, you know,” Will sucked in his cheeks waving at the drastically pronounced cheekbones. The man and Hannibal both cocked their head in confusion as they watched him.
“Ah,” Hannibal nodded, ignoring the blade returning to his throat. “I believe that’s pronounced Mess.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s-”
“SHUT UP!” Blade off and waving wildly.
The man turned, digging the tip of the knife under Hannibal’s jaw. “Stop, you’re confusing Will!”
“Nah, it’s…Merriweather? Marty? Kevin…no wait, Kevin was Peter’s rat…”
Blade off. Hannibal leaned forward assessing the man.
“Are you sure it wasn’t Kevin?”
Blade on. The man had to be getting dizzy by now, as he pivoted between Hannibal and Will. “This isn’t right. I’ll just do him myself. I’ll remind you; I’ll show you-”
“Are you done?” Will knew he shouldn’t sound bored, but it was getting late and he hadn’t eaten since noon.
“NO, I’M JUST GETTING START-”
“My arms are getting tired,” Hannibal conceded.
“Right. Hey, Magoo!” The man looked up, giving Will just enough room to thrust his work knife into his jugular and tear. He looked at Will with wide, betrayed eyes as his throat opened, pouring blood all over Hannibal, Will’s chair, and Will’s favorite work pants. “There, you’re saved.”
“My hero.” Hannibal stood, letting the rope around his hands drop and shaking out his arms. Will grabbed Hannibal’s wrists, rubbing the circulation back into Hannibal’s limbs. His thumbs traced over the raised scars there, he snorted, kissing both pink lines before letting them drop. “So that’s the little miscreant you sent after me in Baltimore? I could have sworn he was bigger.”
“I can’t believe he caught you the first time, his ligatures are straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.” Will squinted, using his foot to nudge the lifeless head. “I thought the guy I sent was blond.”
“I was drugged the first time,” Hannibal muttered, neatly stepping over the man’s corpse.
Will hummed. “Will you let Harvey out of the garage? I think he’s eaten our groceries by now — including your goddamn endives.”
“Shame.” Hannibal dabbed at the cut on his neck. “I was planning to sear them in the balsamic butter you like-”
Will hopped over the body, running his fingers through Hannibal’s hair and kissing him gently. “Take care of the mutt, run yourself a bath. I’ll take care of him and join you.”
Hannibal’s eyes darkened. “What if the water grows cold?”
“I’ll heat it up for you.” Will waggled his eyebrows until he got Hannibal’s toothy grin. He drew Hannibal into another, longer kiss before pulling away. He spun Hannibal toward the door and slapped him on the ass. “Go on, before I drag you upstairs and let this blood ruin the hardwood.”
“Very well, dreadful thing.” Hannibal paused in the doorway. “Do you really not remember his name?”
“What was the name of the man you folded into a heart? What was the name of the girl you stuck on the stag? Do you remember all the tools you ever used?”
Hannibal smiled wryly. “Point taken.”
“Before you go — do you want anything from him? Lungs? Heart?”
Hannibal cocked his head. “Do you want anything from him, Will?”
Will laughed, shaking his head as he bent to drag the body away. “Nah, never did.”