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Familiar Destruction

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***

Ice had formed tiny crystals on the tips of his eyelashes, and at first he was only aware of the sound they made as they jingled against his glasses. His hand rose to his face and even as fingers touched skin he only felt slight pressure, causing him to seriously question whether his face was still there.

And then he was cold all at once. His awareness moved to his body as it slowly came into focus. At first he could only perceive vague fuzzy shapes surrounded by white light, and then, slowly, it all came into startling focus as Will’s huddled form appeared in the middle of an unfamiliar snowy field still dressed in yesterday’s clothes.

“Fuck.”

Will’s mind was moving too slowly. He wasn’t shivering anymore. He knew that fact was important, but he couldn’t quite remember why at the moment. He probed around with numb fingers in his jacket pocket producing keys which he promptly dropped. His other pocket produced his cell phone. The screen was dark.

Will knew there was only one reason why his phone would be off. He never turned it off. He let out a little hiss of pain as he pushed the power button with stiff fingers. He found himself praying. Could he, just this once in his life, have something go right? Will struggled, dropping the phone in the snow at his feet twice. He cursed and picked it up the second time wiping slush from the screen only to find it glowing.

Hannibal was deeply asleep when his phone chimed. He didn’t have to open his eyes to know who was calling him. Normally he would have found it quite rude to be disturbed this way but he rather enjoyed knowing that the codependency he had been working so hard to foster in Will was finally beginning to manifest. A slight smile curved up into the corner of his lips as he reached in the dark for his cell. 

“William…” Lecter rasped into the phone, “as much as I adore these little night time calls…you really must work on establishing a regular sleep pattern…during normal hours. This is horribly unhealthy for you, not to mention--”

“Hannibal…” Will’s voice barely came out making the name sound like a whimper. Hannibal sat up in bed.

“Will, what’s wrong? Where are you?”

“Not sure…outside somewhere…” Hannibal didn’t need to hear anymore. He had already swung his long wool coat around his shoulders and was stepping into shoes, eyes frantically searching the room for his keys.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Hannibal’s voice was steady as it always was, and Will found it somewhat calming just to hear it.

“Tired…” Will mumbled fighting to keep his eyes from closing. He shouldn’t go to sleep. He knew that fact was important too, but again he wasn’t exactly sure why. He sucked in a deep breath and tried to force his eyes wide. The landscape around him was stark white with reflected moonlight. He squinted out into it for a landmark or maybe his own tracks, something that would tell him where he was and how he had ended up there. There was nothing familiar. His tracks were gone, covered over with fresh fallen snow.  The forest looked foreign under the winter landscape. It was as if someone had just dropped him out of the sky while he slept.

“Will?” Hannibal’s voice cut through Will’s overwhelming dejection. “Listen to me Will. It’s going to take some time to get to you. I need you to find shelter. Can you do that?”

“Yeah…” Will surveyed his surroundings again. There wasn’t much save for some pine trees that dotted the horizon. He started heading for the closest grouping, unsure at first if his legs would work. He lifted one leg and then the next wading through the knee high drifts until he reached the pines and collapsed in a heap under their low branches.

“Ok…I think...I think I’m ok now,” Will said struggling to catch his breath. There was no response at the other end of the line, only the sound of Will's pulse thrumming in his ears.

“Hannibal?” Will’s voice echoed in his head, cutting through the heavy hush of night. His phone had gone dark and he found himself alone once again.

***

Half an eternity later, when Will had all but given up, he saw movement on the horizon.  His heart sank when he realized it wasn't human. Its profile was too low to the ground, and it moved in leaps and bounds through the snow. Will thought maybe it was a rabbit or perhaps a fox until the form seemed to break apart into two, now three, maybe four shapes, black against the winter backdrop. Will squinted, distrusting his own senses that he knew full well could easily deceive him. He backed against the tree that had served as his make shift shelter as whatever it was quickly approached him.

The most beautiful sound echoed across the fields suddenly, and Will had to blink a few times still doubting reality. It was the sound of dogs, his dogs, barking and howling as they caught his scent. Winston reached him first in a flurry of snow and fogging breath. Will's frozen hands met warm fur. The rest of his pack quickly approached, tails wagging, surrounding him on all sides, relief swelling in Will’s chest as they frantically greeted him.

And then, not far behind, the figure of a man came into view.

Hannibal approached, his long coat billowing out behind him as he made his way through the heavy drifts. His pace wasn't hurried but he walked with purpose making his way swiftly across the field. When he finally reached Will the dogs instinctively parted allowing Hannibal to kneel down in the snow in front of him, a gloved hand coming to rest on Will’s cheek.

“Hi,” Will smiled up at him, his signature despondent smile that was his habit in such situations gleaming up at his savior. He was vaguely aware that his speech was slurred and his movements were sloppy. He searched Hannibal’s features in a weary attempt to read him. Slow frozen fingertips met the side of Hannibal’s face, granting reassurance that he was indeed real. Will’s suspicions confirmed his own delirium as he watched the aftermath of obvious panic begin to dissipate from the depths of Hannibal’s eyes, an emotion Will had, until now, suspected the other might be incapable of. The doctor did his best to hide it as he gave a look of disapproval to Will whose lips were turning a pale shade of blue, icicles hanging from two days worth of beard.

“You gave us all quite a scare,” Hannibal’s voice was steady as if he were commenting on the weather. The doctor was looking Will over, assessing his injuries and searching for any signs of trauma. When he felt confident enough that Will could be moved, Lecter helped him to his feet, brushing the snow off his back. Had Will not been cursed with his strange brand of overly sensitive empathy he may have missed Hannibal’s genuine concern that lingered only slightly in the tone of his voice.

“How did you find me?” Without words, Hannibal took off his heavy coat and wrapped Will in it. The other’s lingering warmth encompassed him and Will took a deep but shaky breath, filling his lungs with the heady and comforting scent of Hannibal’s cologne.  

“I arrived at your house and found the door was unlocked,” Hannibal explained as he guided a nearly frozen Will through the snow. “After a bit of deduction I concluded you must have wandered out after returning home last night. Your dogs needed little persuasion to lead me to you.”

Will’s motley crew of strays trailed behind them, still displaying their happiness that their master had been found. Will was silent as they retraced the sprawling tracks that would lead them back to his house. Hannibal’s coat dragged behind him, Will looking as if he were drowning in a sea of gray wool. The wind started to kick up stinging his face, the exposed skin already red and wind burnt. Hannibal paused, deft fingers flipping up the collar of his coat protectively around Will’s neck.

“You’re likely hypothermic,” He said flatly. Will had begun to shiver again, his body slowly coming back to life, the tips of his fingers beginning to burn and tingle.  “And since we don’t know how long you were exposed to the elements, I would rather err on the side of caution.” Will had closed his eyes as Hannibal led him by the arm, blindly stumbling as he went, trying to shield himself against the biting cold. He focused on Hannibal’s voice, low and rhythmic, his accent heavier than usual; the only tell that he was genuinely worried.

“I’m fine…really,” Will managed as he stumbled again, having trouble maintaining his footing in the deeper drifts. Hannibal slid an arm under the heavy coat and snaked it around Will’s waist. He was so warm that Will let out a sigh in response to the contact.

“Come, we’re nearly there,” Hannibal coaxed as the back of Will’s house came into view beyond the tree line.  Will’s dogs made a break for it, the smell of their familiar territory spurring them forward. Will stumbled again and Hannibal lost his patience. He leaned down and swung an arm under Will’s knees lifting him off his feet and carrying him the rest of the way.

“You don’t need to do this…I told you….I’m fine,” Will said in a rather weak protest. He wrapped an arm across Hannibal’s broad shoulders, his solid presence grounding him. Despite his wounded pride, Will reveled in the feeling of warmth as Hannibal’s breath steamed across his face.

“Let’s get you inside and then we will talk at length about what I need to do.”

***

Before long a fire was burning brightly in Will's wood stove, and the sounds of Hannibal rummaging around in Will's meager kitchen coaxed him to finally let his guard down. It felt strange to let someone care for him like this, but he was too exhausted to protest against it. Hannibal had insisted he sit near the stove after he had unceremoniously stripped Will of his snow soaked clothing and wrapped him in a heavy thermal blanket. Will's dogs had insisted as well, surrounding him on all sides as they settled near the radiating warmth of the fire.

"Thank you," Will offered weakly as Hannibal returned with a steaming mug of tea. Will took it gratefully but not without a small show of wounded pride as he lowered his eyes to the floor.

"Don't thank me. You're dogs rescued you. I merely followed them to you." Hannibal brought a second mug with him and settled on the floor next to Will, two of the dogs making room for him silently, sensing his dominant presence.

"Rescued by the rescued," Will mumbled before he blew across the top of his steaming cup. He motioned to take a tentative sip but Hannibal stopped his hand.

"Wait until it cools. You are still recovering and must be careful not to cause more trauma to--" Will cut him off with a rather dejected laugh.

"I don't see how this is funny Will," Hannibal chided in his all too serious tone, "You could have died tonight."

Will stared blankly at the steaming beverage in his hands, a small half smile still on his face, contemplating his own demise. He wondered what it would have felt like, if the cold had taken him. Would it have been terribly painful or would he simply have fallen asleep and gone quietly out there under the pines?

"Not like anyone would miss me," he said absently. A warm hand came to rest on the side of his face. Hannibal tipped Will’s chin upward and forced their eyes to meet in a protective if not possessive gesture.

"I cannot speak for your colleagues," Hannibal began, his demeanor softening, "but I, for one, would not want to imagine a world without Will Graham in it."

The mask slipped just enough that Will could see there was a man underneath, one that felt pain and sorrow just as he did. Hannibal's eyes looked into him, saw through his skin, admired his inner workings, and didn't shy away when he realized the extent of his damage. Perhaps he saw some familiar destruction that reminded him once again of all the similarities they shared.

Hannibal took the cup from his hands and Will let his head drop onto the other’s shoulder. An arm was around his back in an instant drawing him closer, slender fingers finding their way into messy curls. A comfortable silence hung in the air as the fire crackled and simmered, Will concentrating on nothing but the steady rise and fall of Hannibal's chest, and the soothing touch of hands carding through his hair.

"I think it's time to talk about what needs to be done," Hannibal whispered, his breath warm in Will's hair.

"And what's that?" Will responded, the night's exhaustion starting to overcome him, Hannibal's caresses coaxing his eyes to close.

"It would be beneficial for you Will, and it would put my mind at ease, if you had someone to look after you, for the time being, lest you end up walking into traffic next time instead of a field." Hannibal's voice was firm but still soothed like honey. Will thought he could listen to him talk all night, he didn’t even care what about.

"And this hypothetical person would... stay the night here?" Will asked a glimmer of hope showing in his voice that he was too tired to disguise.

"Or you could spend the night at said hypothetical person's house, if it were more convenient." A gentle kiss was laid on his forehead, warm breath fogging up glasses. Will curled into the other man's lap settling down in front of the wood stove not unlike the way his dogs had settled around them both, a circle of warmth and protection and contentment.  

"I don't know. This person would have to put up with me. I doubt even you would be capable of finding such a person, Dr. Lecter." Hannibal's hands had wandered during this little exchange and were lightly caressing the nape of Will's neck working their way lower into the curve of his shoulder blades.

"Never doubt what I'm capable of, Will." Truer words had never been spoken between them but sadly they fell on deaf ears as Will was already falling into the warm arms of unconsciousness, his abused body sinking into sleep while Hannibal watched over him in silent curiosity.

***

Sunlight was streaming through the bedroom window of Will’s farmhouse when he finally opened his eyes. A brief moment of panic gripped him as he searched frantically for his glasses. He found them folded neatly and set on the nightstand beside him. The numbers on the clock came into focus as Will sat up trying to get his bearings. It was 1 in the afternoon on a Thursday and his stomach sank as he realized he had missed his class by several hours. 

The delicate aroma of freshly brewed coffee hung in the air and coaxed Will to his feet. He rubbed his eyes pushing his glasses up as the memories of the previous night flooded back aided by the sting of his wind burnt skin. Will began to take inventory of the damage; his fingers and toes seemed intact save for some dark coloration on his fingertips still sore from exposure. There was also the mystery of how he had gotten dressed; he couldn’t recall putting on the pair of thick wool socks and flannel pajamas he was now wearing.

A familiar voice from the next room spurred him to get up and walk to the kitchen, where he found Hannibal busying himself with his most beloved activity. Will lingered in the doorway and watched him, thinking he could get used to this. Even though he considered himself a bit of a loner, and that was putting it mildly, it was somewhat comforting to wake up this way, to know that someone else was there. And the view wasn’t bad either. Will found himself smiling.

“Will, you’re awake,” Hannibal said as he turned from the wrought iron pan of sizzling bacon he was attending to, as if he hadn’t been aware of Will’s presence the entire time. “I trust you slept well.”

“Well…I’m still here…in my house…so that’s a small victory I guess…” Will pulled out a kitchen chair and sat down as the good doctor began pulling strips of perfectly cooked bacon out of the pan and depositing them onto a plate. “Although I may be gainfully unemployed quite soon…”

Hannibal took a strip of cooled bacon and pulled it apart, doling out small portions to Will’s dogs who had gathered at his feet. Each sat patiently waiting their turn, quite still except for a few anxiously wagging tails. “Not to worry Will, I took the liberty of calling to cancel your classes for the day.”

“Oh.” Before Will could properly react to Hannibal’s obvious foresight a plate was set in front of him, displaying the most beautifully arranged portion of bacon, eggs over medium (did Will ever mention that was how he liked his eggs?) and rye toast with butter and strawberry jam. “Um…thank you…”

A thin smile curved into the corner of Hannibal’s lips as he wiped his hands on the borrowed apron folded neatly across his waist. He returned, almost cheerfully Will mused, to the coffee press on the counter. Replacing the lid, nimble hands expertly pressed what smelled like the most delightful aroma Will thought had ever graced his kitchen.

Coffee was poured into mugs and Hannibal sat across from Will and watched him, indulging himself as Will began to pick at his food. The first mouthful was tentative but before long Will was pulling apart toast and dipping it in his eggs, relishing once again in Hannibal’s delectable cooking. And the coffee, the coffee was another experience entirely. Alana had given him the French press last Christmas but he had never used it, abandoning it inside a cabinet where it had waited patiently for Hannibal to find and put to proper use. With his plate already half empty he finally looked up at Lecter, blue eyes rising upwards below thick lashes, making contact that felt more physical then visual.

“Thank you again…for everything...” Will wanted to be sincere, he wanted to say something more than this small show of graciousness, but he had never been good at conveying his feelings through words, not like Hannibal who always seemed to speak with profound impact.

“It was nothing. I only thought it might help speed your recovery,” Hannibal said his tone humble. Will sensed that his sincerity was not missed. He took another bite, making a conscious effort now to slow his pace, his eyes lowering to his plate. He could feel Hannibal’s gaze lingering on his skin, could feel the weight of it, not an oppressive weight by any means, but heaviness like a hand on his shoulder. He took a sip of coffee, warm and lovely, too good for words, heat settling into his reddened cheeks.

“I’m sorry you had to come all the way out here.” Will’s voice held a pang of guilt as he spoke. As usual, his friendship carried with it a burden, and inevitably he owed a debt to whomever he befriended. Most people grew tired of this one sided relationship. Most people bailed on him when--

“Will...” A hand reached across the table, the soft brush of fingertips making him flinch. Hannibal’s slender fingers entwined with Will’s own breaking the obsessive circle of thoughts that kept swirling in his head. His eyes transfixed on those hands, the hands of a surgeon lithe and ethereal, the hands of an artist. Was it his empathy that allowed the simple touch of skin to become a promise? He looked up and met Hannibal's eyes, eyes that seemed to look into his soul, kind and forgiving but also hiding their potential for untold cruelty, just underneath the surface. He could barely make eye contact with colleagues at work he had known for years, but somehow he held the gaze now as if life depended on the contact to never be broken.

"I won't abandon you Will."

The words were simple, flush with promise. And Will believed him. He wanted to at least, but doubt still nagged at him, little voices telling him no one in their right mind could love someone as damaged as he had become. Will cracked an especially dejected smile.

"You're in over your head if you really mean that," he found himself saying. Hannibal squeezed his hand and forced Will's gaze again.

"I'm not in the habit of saying things I don't mean."

Will wanted to trust him, but every fiber of his being was telling him not to.  There were two constants in his life that had become indelibly written on his soul; getting close meant getting hurt inevitably, and people make promises that they will break, even if they don’t mean to do so. Will could draw on a lifetime of memories to confirm this, some fresher in his mind than others. Yet, those memories always melted away at even the slightest touch; Hannibal’s hands enclosing around his own was enough to make them retreat back to the darkened corners of his psyche.

“I…I suppose I would like the company…” Will found himself stuttering, the words sticking in his throat, his cheeks beginning to burn. “I just…I just don’t want you to feel…obligated…”

“Will…” Hannibal rose to his feet and approached him, two hands coming to rest on Will’s shoulders, lowering to his knees to meet Will’s downcast eyes. “If you will have me…I would consider it a privilege, not an obligation, to be by your side.”

Will felt his face burning hot, tears building in the corners of his eyes, balancing on the tips of his eyelashes. He closed his eyes and let them fall. Hannibal’s arms were around him pulling Will into an embrace. It wasn’t quite like falling, but maybe more like floating there in the comfort of the other’s arms.

Hannibal drank in the sadness like a fine wine, savoring it on his tongue. He held Will deep in his lungs, the salty tang of tears mixed with a bitter and palpable self loathing that Hannibal found undeniably attractive. Will’s misery was beautiful, deliciously complex in its depth and intensity. Hannibal couldn’t help but see an image of himself, albeit the deepest hidden parts of himself, reflected in Will’s eyes now shining brightly with hot tears.

Will surrendered to the free fall, splayed himself open to Hannibal whose silence was again a promise that hung in the air between them. It wasn’t pity that Will felt, not obligation, not burdening, but an understanding that neither of them could really explain. It wasn’t something even Hannibal with his eloquent and skilful tongue could put into words, for he had no basis to define it. Never in his life had he met anyone with whom he felt he could share himself, not like this, not entirely. But there was hope that had settled strong in Hannibal’s chest, that if he could only open Will’s beautiful mind to accept the darker parts of himself, that he might awaken new and whole with fresh eyes, ready to see Hannibal and accept him, all of him. He only hoped silently that his keen senses weren’t deceiving him, that the connection he felt was real, and that Will felt even a fraction of it.

Will buried fists into the back of Hannibal’s shirt gripping the fabric, giving himself over to the other to end the vicious free fall, or perhaps to fall together. Hannibal held him close and whispered shushes against his skin, gentle kisses finding their way to Will’s temples, soothing him.

“You don’t have to be alone anymore Will.”

Another promise. This time one that Hannibal wished for himself as well. He never knew that there was a real need for it until now, a cloying wanting need to be with Will, to be able to find comfort in his presence. A few lingering sobs were hushed against Hannibal’s chest. Will felt like he was losing himself again as he held onto the man who, for reasons indiscernible to Will, cared for him so deeply and had become a steady and unfaltering anchor. He breathed deep, his exhale shaky and uncertain.

“Neither do you…”

Hannibal cradled Will’s head against his chest, fingers lovingly entwined in his hair. Their promise took shape then, began to hold weight and substance, and the hope Hannibal had been hiding away was given a name, and became real. Will opened his eyes to see Hannibal was smiling, not the smile he reserved for everyone else when they tested his patience, not the smile he used to placate others that he was indeed capable of normal human emotion, but something different. It was real and beautiful and Will savored it for all its wonderful rarity.

Hannibal kissed him then and his lips met chapped skin, delicate and raw, tasting strongly of salty tears. It was a gentle meeting, Hannibal mindful not to hurt, lips brushing lightly against sensitive skin, holding back the intensity they both felt. Will deepened the kiss, hands still gripping fistfuls of Hannibal’s shirt. Their breath mingled together, tears still lightly falling down Will’s cheeks, wetting Hannibal’s lips. Will let his eyes close and his head tip back as Hannibal began kissing his neck, nimble hands venturing under his shirt to meet a warm smooth expanse of skin. Will arched back as Lecter’s fingertips explored his chest, running delicately over each curve and valley of his body’s landscape. A small moan escaped him when those fingertips traced over his stomach, caressing the curve of his hip, wandering lower until they breached his waistband.

“Hannibal…” The name was a breathy whisper. Hannibal was still on his knees, his eyes lowered in an obvious show of submission to make Will more at ease. To say it was a show was accurate; Hannibal always remained in control regardless. And Will knew this, knew it full well, but part of him was grateful for the effort even if he knew it was just a display for his benefit.

Hannibal’s hands slid under the fabric of his pants, teasing him with the promise of caresses that Will had become all too familiar with. Fingers slid back out and up the plains of his chest and then around to his back. Will felt his pulse quicken, his breath become short. Hannibal waited, chin tipped up against Will’s stomach, studying his eyes for permission to continue.

Will sniffed back the aftermath of tears attempting to collect himself. He took his lover’s face in his hands and guided their lips together again.  Hands found their way to Hannibal’s stomach, fingers venturing up his shirt, lingering over each pearly button. Will paused, a glimmer of mischief in his eyes, and then ripped the shirt open. When the other gave a disapproving throaty growl as a few buttons plinked onto the kitchen floor, Will smiled down at him, eyes narrowing.

“And what are you going to do about it?” Will asked, a challenge evident in his breathy voice.

Hannibal kissed him fiercely now, pressing against him hard, the kitchen chair making a loud groan as it edged across the floor. Will’s hands dug into Hannibal’s shoulder blades, nails leaving long red welts across his back. Hannibal moaned into Will’s mouth at the sting of pain, and ended their kiss with Will’s bottom lip between his teeth. Will could feel the other man hardening against him, heated and pressing into his thigh. He reached down to touch him and in response Hannibal pulled Will’s pajamas pants down just enough to release him into his hands. Lips caressed him, and soon he was being devoured by the other, Hannibal’s mouth warm and his throat deep and slick, teeth grazing him on his up stroke, making Will’s toes curl.

“Ah…I should ruin your expensive shirts...more often…” Will said between short gasps as Hannibal quickened his pace leaving him breathless. It was always this way when they came together, the violent and intense longing finally giving over to neglected desire, always ending in the way their relationship had began, full of heartache and the need for comfort. Will threaded fingers in Hannibal’s now messy hair prompting him to release him, wet and pulsing against his stomach.

Wordlessly Hannibal stood, unzipping neatly pressed slacks and stepping out of them, exposing long lean legs and tight cut briefs doing nothing to hide his arousal. Will stroked his now neglected length as he watched Hannibal undress with uncharacteristic quickness, a sharp contrast to his usual leisure at which he would make Will wait, as he folded each article of clothing. But now his pace was fevered, leaving his expertly tailored clothing on the floor in a heap until he was laid bare in front of Will’s eyes. Will rose from his chair and approached him tentatively, tracing a line from his heart to below his navel. Hannibal’s eyes watched him with a silent hunger, and self control finally broke as he lifted Will up, the other wrapping legs around his waist.

“Shall we take this to a more appropriate room?” Hannibal whispered between heated kisses.

"You can take me anywhere you want..." Will responded his voice low and dripping with want.

Hannibal carried Will easily, forgoing the longer trek to the bedroom and instead depositing his lover onto the couch. He pulled Wills pants the rest of the way off and Will made quick work of removing his shirt. Hannibal's movements slowed, every touch deliberate, tender skin finally meeting, pressing tightly together. Hannibal intended to worship the body splayed before him. He intended to take his time.

Slowly hands found their way to Will's hips, pulling him closer as they rutted together. Wills mouth hung slack as he felt Hannibal sliding against him, making him ache and leak between them, craving rougher friction.

"Will...you feel...incredible," Hannibal whispered against Will's neck. Legs wrapped around Hannibal's slender waist and ankles crossed behind his back. Hannibal snaked a hand between their bodies and stroked them together, already slick and wet.

"I love how you touch me," Will was whispering back, his eyes closed to small slits, beads of sweat beginning to form and break down his bare chest. It occurred to him it was the first time he hadn't felt cold in almost a day. The heat continued to rise as Hannibal stroked and caressed him, his free hand reaching up to cover Will's mouth as a steady stream of moans and hushed gasps spilled from his lips. Will reached down to touch Hannibal, painfully hard now and aching for contact. Will's fingers came away wet as he grazed the head with the pad of his thumb.

Hannibal sighed and moaned, working Will faster now, his intentions to take it slow slipping away from him as the other held him so perfectly, matching the rhythm he had set, a steady stream spilling from him now. Self control was always a hallmark of Lecter's personal discipline, but Will had learned exactly how to make him break, to crumble his resolve, and leave him with nothing but his most basic and primal animal instincts. He always seemed to reduce Lecter to a writhing begging mess and this time was no different.

Will reached underneath him, a finger dipping inside slowly, and then teasing him until he felt the reaction ripple through his body. Hannibal had all but collapsed against him, barely propping himself up on one arm as Will continued, relishing as his lover tensed and bore down at each slow penetration.

 Will caught Hannibal’s mouth with a rough kiss that made the doctor gasp for air. He pushed him back against the couch and repositioned on top of him, so he could see precisely the reactions he was able to pull from the man as he stroked and fingered him. Hannibal hair had fallen across his eyes, out of place, messy and desperate. He pulled Will’s hips closer but Will steadied himself at arm’s length with a flat palm against Lecter’s heaving chest. Hannibal acquiesced to Will’s steady hand, but still writhed under its weight.   

He had slowed down his pace considerably and was working his lover into a heated frenzy, until Hannibal was thrusting up into his fist, thighs tensing and legs shaking with the effort. Will couldn't help himself and stopped to taste him, to feel the pulse of his racing heartbeat against his tongue. Hannibal cried out as Will’s mouth enveloped him so warm and perfect.

He began to utter a string of words that Will had come to know were not English. There was of course the inevitable 'please Will...please,' when he thought he couldn't take anymore, but the rest was foreign. It was a language of pleading, of begging, and it was reserved for him and only for him, no one else.

Will gave in to Hannibal’s pleas and slowly pushed inside of him, making him arch his back, neck craning awkwardly into the couch cushions, fingers gripping Will’s hips until his knuckles turned white with the effort. Will was surrounded by the heat of Hannibal’s body and finally they were united, each tiny movement shared pleasure, each sound that Will pulled from Hannibal lips reverberating into his own stomach. He savored every second of their connection, moving his hips in slow circular motions, forcing himself to last just a little bit longer, time enough to burn this moment into his memory; the way Hannibal moaned and squirmed underneath him, the way his eyes fluttered under closed lids, the way he lost himself in Will’s arms.

“Will…” Hannibal was mumbling his name, breath ragged, yielding to the pace the other set for him. He couldn’t help but push up harder into Will’s fist, every nerve crackling with electricity, until all that was left of him was a hushed “more…more...”

The body below him trembled, shining with sweat and dripping with heat. Will gritted his teeth and gave in. He gripped his lover’s hips hard enough to leave bruises, pleasured bliss breaking over him like the swell of a wave. He came hard, sending delicious vibrations into Hannibal’s body, providing the push he needed to send him past the brink. Hannibal yelled out and spilled hot over the top of Will's fingers and up onto his stomach unable and unwilling to hold out any longer.

***

When breath and bodies had stilled they laid silent, legs tangled together, Will collapsed and sprawled atop Hannibal’s body. The silence stretched out between them, still wrapped up in each other, as if the rest of the world had fallen away and they were the only ones left, the only two that mattered.

Will stirred first, hands lingering on Hannibals chest, fingers tracing lazy patterns there. Hannibal hummed and sighed, his skin feeling over sensitive and tender, Will 's touches making him shiver. He placed a gentle kiss to Will's forehead, burying his face in unruly curls, breathing him in, and holding him deep in his lungs.

“Hannibal?” Will spoke first, his voice small, calm.

“Yes love?” Hannibal’s words ascended into the silence, his accent heavy and more noticeable than usual.

“How did we get here? I mean…you and I. This is not exactly…I mean for me…it’s not usually--” Hannibal cut him off saving him from further explanation.

“It is unusual for me as well, to feel the connection we have,” Hannibal’s hands soothed warm and heavy on Will’s back. “I like to think we’ve known each other before, and we were destined to cross paths, to know each other again.”

“You believe in that kind of stuff?” Will said slightly mocking him.

“I believe that two people might each possess half of the same soul, and that they will be drawn together, by forces beyond their control. Like the forces that have drawn us together.” Hannibal’s voice was slow and wistful.

“Are you saying we’re soul mates Dr. Lecter?” Will scoffed. He hadn’t exactly thought of Hannibal being capable of such sentiment, but when he looked into the other man’s eyes he was met with utter seriousness if not scorn. “Ok, ok, I’m sorry,” Will laughed, “It’s just…next you’ll be telling me you believe in psychics…or telekinesis.” Hannibal was not amused.

“It is a very old idea, Will, a theory bred from ancient Greece. When the world was new, humanity was more powerful than you could imagine. Zeus, fearing that this new creature would rival the gods, split each man in two, condemning him to spend his life searching for his other half, walking the earth an incomplete shadow of what he once was.” Will laid his head on Hannibal’s chest, listening to his words echo through the silent room, the bass in his voice reverberating through his chest. He closed his eyes, imagining as only Will could, the violent rendering of flesh as mythical creatures were separated by the wrath of the gods. In his head floated visions of lightning and seared skin, muffled screams and tortured whines. A slight murmur escaped him as the visions swelled and focused, Zeus, all powerful, tearing through bone and sinew, casting men aside like felled rabbits at his feet, bathing knee deep in their blood. Will watched as the bodies morphed and grew together, men and women like dark shadows, dirty and naked, crawling out of the chaos of their blood soaked birth.

“ ‘Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature,’ ” Hannibal paused letting the heavily accented words linger.

“I was a wounded creature before I met you Will.” Hannibal’s arms were around him as Will watched the visions dull behind his eyes.

 “I did not know I was separated from you. I did not know there was more than myself that had been ripped so violently from me, until it was there, reflected back at me, evident in your eyes.” Will slowly came back to reality, his breath a bit ragged, a thin sheen of sweat breaking across his forehead.

“Are you alright Will?” Hannibal asked knowing full well that Will had gone away just then, gone away into the recesses of his mind, a place where Hannibal only wished he could follow. Will settled back against Hannibal’s chest, curling against him, focusing on the feel of him, solid and warm.

“I’m alright. Just still a little tired.” He had only been gone for a few minutes, but the visions were always taxing, exhausting, and coupled with their previous activities it was enough to make Will’s eyelids turn heavy. A hand was rubbing soothing circles in Will’s shoulders only forcing the issue further.  

“Then rest, Will,” Hannibal soothed, “I will watch over you.” 

***

Hands reached out through the darkness, blindly feeling their way through the inky void until they met overly warm skin. Adrenaline coursed through him setting his senses on fire and making the hands that searched for a grounding point tremble. His breath came in short and ragged gasps while he tried in vain to free himself from the threshold between dreaming and waking, a treacherous emptiness that enclosed around him like a vacuum.  It was a place where his nightmares lingered like washed out watercolors, pigments slowly soaking through textured paper and spreading out like pools of blood.

He was dangerously close to the precipice and feared he might lose himself, but the contact of fingertips with skin and the sound of breath heavy with sleep guided him away from the edge. He was still floundering on the brink for a moment grasping at reality as it slipped like satin through his fingers. He needed to sure his footing, but it was too difficult in the dark with nothing in front of his eyes but the images his subconscious had chosen for him. The mire of hallucination was threatening to pull him under; the images seemed so vivid that he thought surely he could reach out and touch them, could feel the blood still warm and wet on his hands.

Will stirred in his sleep when the blankets shifted as Hannibal edged closer to him. Hands found their way around to his Will’s back breaking the steady rhythm of his sleep slowed breath. He reached out instinctually and let an arm lazily fall across Hannibal’s shoulders. They had been sharing this living arrangement for a few months now, and both men had become accustomed to the other waking in the night, their shared commonalities not ending even at the extent of tortured nightmares.

Hannibal took the deepest breath he could manage and tried to focus on the tangible; Will was there with him warm and real and alive, and he smelled vaguely like smoke from the wood burning stove and ivory soap, a scent Hannibal tried to keep in his chest until his lungs burned for release.  

“Mmm…” Will murmured as he blinked eyes open in the darkness. Hannibal had curled against him, long hair brushing up against his neck, the contact of his cool skin rousing Will from sleep. As Will awoke fully he realized the man huddled against him was shaking. He readjusted, pulling him closer, rough hands tangling into sweat dampened hair.

“I didn’t mean to wake you.” Hannibal’s voice was muffled against Will’s shirt.

“S’ok…m’not awake…” Will mumbled his voice thick with sleep. He absently rubbed slow circles in Hannibal’s back unaware of the silent crisis that raged inside him. Perhaps if he had woke Will with screaming it would have been closer to reality, but instead he remained quiet except for his ragged breath that he failed to control.  

“Jesus Hannibal…you’re freezing…” Will chided as he brought the blanket up protectively around the other’s bare shoulders.

“I’m so sorry Will,” Hannibal’s voice was small and tender, a whisper against skin, an apology that seemed too extreme to fit the circumstances. Will reeled from the sudden onslaught of emotions that he was able to read from the man, unmistakable fear and misery settling like a weight on his chest. He propped himself up on an elbow and blinked the sleep out of his eyes.

“Sorry for what?” Will said unable to avoid the sarcasm that leaked out in his voice when he was tired. “I believe you’ve earned the right to wake me up, after all I've put you through these last couple a months.”

Hannibal let out a sharp wounded sigh. Before Will had time to properly react warm tears spilled between them overcoming the young empath with wretchedness so thick and heavy it made him wince. The small strangled sounds of hushed sobbing cut through the quiet as Hannibal came apart.

“Hey…hey…it's alright...” Will tried to soothe him as his sleep addled brain struggled to keep up. "I'm here...I'm right here...tell me what to do...please..."

Will began to feel helpless there in the dark. Hannibal was supposed to be stronger, was supposed to be impervious to their shared brand of mental torture, but something had thrown him, something had ripped his mind wide open and Will wasn’t sure how to stop him from bleeding out. Hannibal was shaken, more so than he had ever seen him, a sheen of cold sweat covering his exposed skin. His breath was too fast, and then Will had to strain to listen at times to see if he was breathing at all. The panic left a bad taste in Will’s mouth, so much so that he began to feel the anxiety overtake him too. His empathy allowed him to feel too much, but his mind was still too slowed by sleep to fully understand it.

“I’m right here…” Will kept repeating between soft shushes as he tried to soothe him. “Tell me what to do…”

“I…I…think I’m going to be sick…” Hannibal swallowed back hard against the visions that still swam in his head as the room began to pitch and sway around him.

“Ok…ok…” Will said as he maneuvered around to Hannibal’s side of the bed. He slowly lifted Lecter to his feet and led him down the hall to the bathroom. Hannibal hung heavily on Will’s smaller form, convulsively swallowing back his feelings of nausea.

A nightlight had been left on providing a soft yellow glow that spilled out into the hall. Will didn’t bother flipping on any more lights. Once inside, Hannibal dropped to the floor, the cold tile stinging his bare skin and making him shiver. Will had lifted the lid to the toilet and knelt down next to him, pushing back the hair that had fallen in his eyes and pressing a palm against his forehead. The skin underneath his palm was cold and slick with sweat. Hannibal shivered, staring down into the water, but still seeing the images that plagued him.

“Just breathe…” Will coaxed as Hannibal began to gag. He coughed and spit into the water, his breath coming too fast.

The dreamscape played out in front of him, repeating on a sickening and infinite loop. He could still see Will’s horror stricken face, accusations burning bright in his eyes. He could still feel the blood, warm and viscous, seeping into his clothes, coating his fingers, as the light in those eyes slowly went out, silenced forever by his own hands.

Hannibal gagged again this time bringing up the better part of last night’s dinner, the image of Will lying silent and cold in a pool of crimson overcoming him. He coughed and spit out a mouthful of sour putrid liquid, gagging again, bile burning its way up his throat.  

“That’s it, you’re ok. Better to get it out,” Will was at his back still holding a palm to his forehead. Hannibal’s body lunged forward with a rather painful sounding retch, a thin dribble of vomit hanging from his chin. He coughed again and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force himself to be calm. His heart was racing; he could hear the rush of blood pounding in his ears. Another retch and his body tensed, vomit splashing into the water.

Will had gotten up to fetch a washcloth and soak it with cool water. He knelt down next to Hannibal and placed the damp cloth against the back of his neck, speaking hushes to him, a hand resting tenderly at his back. Hannibal rubbed a hand over his eyes, gasping for air, a rather dejected sob forcing its way out of him in between being sick.

Silently he admonished himself for being so emotional. This was highly unusual, this onslaught of emotions, but it was his own fault for letting his defenses down so readily. Had he not let Will over the walls of his mind palace none of this would be happening. But Will had breached the walls, had caught glimpses of what lay behind the well constructed facade. Hannibal knew his subconscious had given him a message, one that he had been working hard to avoid confronting. He knew this relationship with Will that he was trying so hard to nurture had only one outcome if the truth was to be uncovered. And at that moment he hated himself for loving Will, for allowing himself to love him. He hated himself even more for still wanting the impossible, for still believing that there was a slim chance that this wouldn’t end the way his dream had predicted.

Hannibal was still getting helplessly sick as he felt Will place a thin blanket around his shoulders.  Will was talking to him in a hushed whisper, rubbing his back through the soft cotton. Tears escaped down Hannibal’s face as he continued to retch. Could Will still love him if he knew the truth of what he was? The answer was too hard to accept. Hannibal gagged again, this time bringing up a thin dribble of yellow bile. It burned his throat and he coughed hard.

Will stayed by his side through all of it until Hannibal had nothing left to give up. He pulled him back into his arms and wrapped the blanket tightly around him. Will pushed the hair out of his eyes, and dabbed at his face with the damp cloth, coaxing Hannibal to shut his eyes as he focused on catching his breath.

“I’m here,” Will whispered the only reassurance he could think to give. Hannibal swallowed hard before pushing away from Will and clutching the cold porcelain again. His stomach insisted on rebelling, dry heaves shaking his exhausted frame. He retched once, then twice, bringing up very little. A third time and the last of it came up, watery and tinged yellow.

When it was over Hannibal lay back against Will, eyes red and puffy, letting the younger man gather him up in his arms. The visions were finally starting to fade, becoming transparent enough that he could gaze through them, seeing the man on the other side.  

“Will…I…” his voice was hoarse, “I dreamt that you died…”

Will furrowed his brow and gently combed his fingers through Hannibal’s messy hair. “It’s this damn investigation…it’s affected you as much as it has me…”He kissed Hannibal’s forehead and for the first time since waking their eyes met. Hannibal touched the side of Will’s face as if to prepare him for what he had to say.

“I dreamt…that I killed you…I…stabbed you…” His voice was so very serious that Will almost laughed.

“I’m sorry…it’s not funny…” Will said trying to be tactful. Hannibal buried his face in the crook of Will’s neck, an arm resting at his waist. “It was just a dream…not to worry…I’m as alive as you…”

There was a long pregnant pause, the silence heavy between them.

“I care for you a great deal, William,” Hannibal said breaking the silence, “I don’t want to lose you.”

“Hannibal…” Will was wiping the tears from Hannibal’s face with the edge of the blanket. He was trying to choose his words carefully, a trait he had begun to pick up from the normally stoic Dr. Lecter whose words always seemed to be carefully selected to hold weight and importance. He wanted to give reassurance, to give something concrete that Hannibal could grasp, something tangible that could pull him from his misery, but Will knew better than to make promises he may not have the option to keep. He held no illusions to his own mortality or Lecter’s for that matter. Any number of things could happen in their line of work, which would make his promise nothing but a bold lie.

“I’m here now…with you…it’s…” a quick glance at his watch, “2:27 in the morning and we’re in your bathroom…and…I’m not going anywhere…” Will’s words were a breathy promise against Hannibal’s cheek. He could promise this. He could promise that he would be there now, to hold him until he stopped shaking. He could do this without feeling like a liar.

Hannibal melted into Will, savoring the comfort he was able to pull from his caresses. Will was real and warm, so warm, burning at the higher temperature he always seemed to. Hannibal hooked an arm around his waist, icy fingers finding their way underneath Will’s t-shirt and hitting skin, making him wince. 

“Stay with me,” Hannibal found himself saying. More words were perched in the back of his throat, threatening to spill out. He swallowed hard against the desires that provoked him to speak. He knew he didn’t need to say anything. Will would uncover his secret on his own, in time. Hannibal would have to make peace with the knowledge that not even Will, with his beautiful empathy, could accept all the things he had done. If there was only more time, to ease Will’s mind towards acceptance of what he was and what Will could be.

"Where else would I go?” Will kissed the top of his head, burying his face in Hannibal’s hair softened from sleep.

Will realized as he held him that he could no longer envision a world in which this man was not by his side. He had struggled to make connections with people his whole life, usually failing miserably at it until now. But where others had called him too distant, too cold, where others had tried to tolerate him, he felt nothing but acceptance from Lecter. All his faults, all the darker parts of Will that he kept hidden, never made Hannibal flinch or look away. In fact, he was quite certain that Hannibal rather preferred him just the way he was. His love was an unconditional one and for that Will was grateful not to mention shocked and surprised that anyone could ever feel that way about him.  He tried not to question it too much, but rather to let himself fall into it in the easy fashion that felt so natural when they were together, like slipping into water that was warm as the air. If he didn’t pay attention he could let himself drown in those eyes that were looking at him now, a shimmer of sadness shining in them as they gazed back up at him.

“Common…” Will’s voice was soft and low, “can you get up?”

Hannibal let Will lift him to his feet and they padded barefoot together back to the bedroom, Will still slightly confused at this sudden show of emotion from Lecter, and Hannibal still trying to erase the memory of Will’s vacant eyes from his mind.  

***

Will had wrapped Hannibal in too many blankets, still worried that perhaps he was sick, maybe running a fever, even though he felt cold, too cold. Hannibal clung to his side, still shivering; trying to downplay what had just happened by assuring Will he was fine, that it must have been something he ate, but even Hannibal with his classically unreadable nature wasn't safe from Will’s empathy.

"Don't lie to me," Will said as he held him, trying to lessen the shaking that lingered in the dark. Hannibal wished he could freeze that moment and keep it locked away inside his mind palace, to save for a time when Will would inevitably push him away. He wanted to remember him like this, his voice full of concern, his arms surrounding him. But those last words, a whisper, a breath, hung heavy in the dark.

“Don’t lie to me.”

Hannibal wanted nothing more than to spill the truth between them, if he thought Will was finally ready to hear it, if he could convince himself that Will would find the beauty in his work, if he could persuade him to embrace the darker side of himself, that was always lurking, waiting just below the surface. He knew he couldn’t keep him in the dark for much longer. Will’s intelligence was as sharp as the end of one of Hannibal’s expensive chef’s knives, and his empathy only honed the edge to further flawlessness.  There would soon come a time when there would be nothing Hannibal could do or say to obscure his true form. And it would be a beautiful and terrible awakening full of violence and fury.

As the adrenaline drained away and Hannibal was able to catch his breath his senses slowly came back and it was like surfacing from a dive, his surroundings coming into focus beyond the blur of life underwater.  He became acutely aware that Will was rocking back and forth with him, the two of them resembling patients in an institution. And Hannibal laughed at himself then, a tiny hopeless sound to rival one of Will’s despondent smiles, and it cut through the dark, striking and melodic.

“And this is funny now?” Will said as Hannibal ended with a cough and a clearing of his throat.

“Can’t you see Will?” Hannibal’s voice was hoarse, his accent thick, his words almost forced through laughter. “We are the same you and I.”

“If you mean bat shit crazy then yes, quite the same,” Will leaned back easily into the pillows and Hannibal curled against his side. “And should I be worried now? Should I be removing the knives and cutlery out of your reach when we’re together?”

A kiss was placed to his forehead while Hannibal seriously considered it, considered all the possible outcomes, his mind flashing in rapid succession. There was still time to prevent it, he was sure of it. He was sure there was an alternative, a hopeful one, one where Will could see him, all of him, and accept him. He was almost sure.

“Not to worry,” Hannibal said returning the kiss and lingering for a long moment as their lips met. “I shall restrain myself for now.”

***