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I can see you in my sleep

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Tempting though it was to stay in the shower until the hot water ran out, Hannibal was not comfortable with leaving Will in the house unattended. Besides: he wanted to see Will. Every moment that he did not see Will's face seemed, to him, to be a moment wasted. It was possible that there was not much time left, and he would savor what he had.

There were suits here: button-down shirts, silk ties--all the accoutrements of his past life, and a different future life that he'd only glimpsed, as if from a moving train window. Hannibal eschewed them all for a simple sweater, trousers that were easy to move in, and soft-soled shoes. The cashmere felt, after years of cheap cotton jumpsuits, as good as that first breath of air outside of the prison van.

Hannibal found Will in the kitchen, leaning against the counter and waiting for him. He'd showered as well, and changed into some of the clothes that Hannibal had stored in the closets, all those years ago. They were simple--a white shirt, dark trousers--but they looked as good on him as Hannibal had always known they would.

Will smiled. Hannibal's heart lurched and flipped in his chest. It was a sensation he'd gotten used to, but still it drove a spike of despair into his back, every time.

"What's for dinner?" Will asked. He moved away from the counter but kept his hands in his pockets.

"Not much, I fear," Hannibal admitted. "I'm not sure how well this place has been stocked in my absence."

But Hannibal had his suspicions: the light switches turned on; the toilets flushed; the furniture was surprisingly free of dust. Sure enough, when he opened the refrigerator, he found food. Not a lot--not as well stocked as his refrigerator had been in Florence, or in Baltimore. But enough.

"We will have to thank Chiyo, later," he said to Will, over his shoulder.

"Hmm," said Will.

Hannibal fetched ingredients out of the refrigerator and stacked them on the counter. A carton of eggs. A package of breakfast sausage links. A bell pepper. An onion. Butter.

Will's lips twitched. "Protein scramble."

Hannibal glanced out toward the dimming sky. "It's not precisely the start of the day, but I think neither of us is averse to breakfast for dinner." He slid a utility knife out of the knife block and held its handle out toward Will. "Would you care to help?"

Will diced the pepper and the onion while Hannibal beat the eggs and melted butter in the pan. It had been so long since Hannibal had been able to move about in a proper kitchen that he had the sensation of relearning a piece of music, once memorized and now long unrecalled. He noted with pleasure that Will had, in his absence, learned to dice an onion properly.

They ate at the dining room table, across from each other. Will had put on Mahler's Symphony no. 5, and violins sighed longingly in the background as they dined. The sausage was not as good as what Hannibal would have made himself, but it was passable. It was certainly better than the sausage at the BSHCI.

It was good to be across a table from Will again.

"I did a little exploring, while you were in the shower," said Will. "I hope that was all right."

Hannibal nodded. "My home is your home."

"You have quite an extensive pantry," said Will. "Psilocybin mushrooms? Salvia? Or was that Chiyo, again?"

Hannibal smiled at his plate. "That was not Chiyo. It has therapeutic uses."

"I imagine it does." Will drew something from his pocket and set it on the table with a click: a small silver canister, sealed all around with plastic. Hannibal did not have to open it to know what it was.

"What do you think?" said Will. "For old times' sake."

Hannibal drew the canister toward him and broke the vacuum seal with his thumbnail. "This has been here for many years," he murmured. He pushed up the lid, revealing forest-green buds. The smell that spilled out was grassy and herbaceous and--to his mind--foul, but not in a way that suggested it posed any hazard.

"Together?" said Will.

Hannibal sealed the lid again, but the smell lingered, overpowering his half-eaten plate. "Together."

-----

A delighted smile hovered on Will's face. "Hannibal Lecter, rolling a joint," he said. "I should take a picture for Freddie Lounds."

Hannibal shot him an exasperated look. The joint was not as straight as he liked, but he supposed it didn't have to be. Will was hardly one to judge. "I would've preferred to bake something."

"Yes, yes, I know, you always prefer the gourmet experience," said Will. "But it would take too long, and we have an appointment."

"You know he's watching," said Hannibal.

Will nodded and sat back on the couch, stretching his arms out along the back. "He's probably carving one of his symbols on one of those trees out there, right now." He flicked a couple of fingers out toward the window and curled them in again. "Let him watch. He'll take his time."

Hannibal offered the joint to Will, who took it between thumb and forefinger. Will leaned forward, and Hannibal flicked the lighter open as Will took a deep drag. The paper on the joint curled and charred, and Will exhaled a cloud of acrid smoke. He handed the joint to Hannibal.

Unlike the last time, when the high crept up on Hannibal and dragged him down into its muzzy depths, that first inhale brought with it a crackling wash of giddiness. He took one pull, and then another, drawing the paper up along the joint, and ashed it into the glass tray on the coffee table before handing it back to Will.

"How do you feel?" Will asked, before he took another drag. What a beautiful creature, Hannibal thought, was sitting on his couch. That sweaty, stuttering, prickly man who used to sit in his office had vanished like fog in the daytime, and what was left? Nothing that Hannibal knew or recognized, but that only made him more delightful.

"High," Hannibal said, with a smile. Will grinned back at him as he took two more puffs and passed the joint back. Hannibal smoked a little more before asking, "And how do you feel?"

"Pretty damn good."

They passed the joint back and forth, surrounding themselves with a cloud of noisome smoke. Hannibal ceased to smell it after a while and nearly mourned its loss; olfactory fatigue meant he could not longer make out the odor of Will's skin and sweat, either. Not unless he could bend his nose to the back of Will's neck.

Will took one more drag and crushed the end into the tray. He sank back a little farther in his seat, his limbs spreading out like pooling water. "What happens now?"

Hannibal had his body turned to face Will, one leg drawn partway up the couch cushion. He could feel the warmth of Will's arm by his cheek. "If past experience repeats itself, I believe some music and some food is in order."

"Mmmm." Will tilted his head back to gaze at the ceiling, which was painted ivory white. "No murals here."

Hannibal had nearly forgotten about that room--well, forgotten was not the right word. He never forgot anything he didn't wish to forget. But he'd squeezed that room into a far corner of his memory palace, hardly ever visited. He brought it to mind now: the starry ceiling, the harpsichord, the record player, Will Graham on the sofa, talking about bones.

"When I offered you my bones that day," Will said, from the couch in the past as well as in the present, "what was that like for you?"

"You know what that was like for me," said Hannibal, seated at the harpsichord as well as on the couch. "It was the kindest offer anyone had ever made me."

"Not just anyone, me." Will curled his fingers around the nape of Hannibal's neck, and the music room vanished. The sun had receded, and their reflections could be clearly seen in the darkened windows. "You wouldn't have cared if Alana had made that offer, or Jack."

"Alana would never have made that offer. Nor Jack." Hannibal blinked. Will's pupils were large and round as the moon and black as the night, his sclera rimmed with red.

"Music, then?" Will tilted his head, baring an appealing stretch of throat. Hannibal smiled with his teeth. "Will you play for me?"

Hannibal tipped his head to the side and contemplated. He was three years out of practice; the piano was right next to the window; and also, he was high. Will kept watching him with those liquid eyes, a smile curved on his pink lips. He thought it should nettle him that Will so clearly knew what Hannibal would do, and yet, like everything else about Will, it charmed him. He couldn't blame that on the marijuana. "We'll see what I can do." Hannibal rose from the sofa. "Come, sit with me."

Will snorted. "If you're expecting me to play the piano, you'll be sorely disappointed."

"I never expect you to be anything other than what you are."

Hannibal lowered himself on the bench. Will sat on one edge of it, on the side closest to the window, his back to Hannibal. Hannibal made his way, somewhat slowly, though Chopin's Ballade no. 1 in G Minor and watched Will's reflection in the glass. Somewhere out there, the Red Dragon waited, growling and muttering to himself. Let him watch. Let him see what Hannibal had and he did not. Will sat back, until his trapezius met Hannibal's arm, and the music stopped.

"You said that my brain and bones belonged to no one except myself," said Will. "Do you still believe that?"

Hannibal ran his fingers along the surface of the keys, not hard enough to depress and sound the strings, but just to hear the click of his nails against the enamel. "You were the one who said that we are conjoined."

"Then my brain, my bones, they belong to you," said Will.

"As mine are yours," Hannibal returned. He played a few chords, one-handed. "What would you do with them?"

"I don't know. I'm not a cannibal. What did you think would happen, after you ate my brain?"

"I hoped that I would find peace." Hannibal splayed his fingers across the keys. His hands were well-proportioned to his size; he had difficulty attempting pieces by Rachmaninoff. "In consuming that which had caused me to betray myself. It worked once before."

"With your sister?"

"Yes."

Someone else might have shuddered with horror, but Will Graham was not someone else. He gazed out into the solemn night and said, "I saw her, I think. At the castle."

The castle at the center of Hannibal's mind was a haunted place, overrun with memories of small hands and dappled sunlight and cruelty. He wondered what those rooms looked like in Will's memory palace. He wondered what had become of his snail garden. "I haven't been back there in many years."

"I know." Will curled his fingers around the edge of the piano bench. "The prisoner is dead."

"I suspected as much, when I saw Chiyo here."

"I gave him wings of glass," said Will. "And covered him with snails. By now he's nothing but the husks of dead fireflies."

Hannibal smiled at his wobbly reflection in the glossy black surface of the piano. "You transformed him."

"Yes."

"Was it beautiful?"

Will let out a rusty chuckle. "That's so subjective. But I think you would have found it beautiful, yes."

"I wish I could have seen it." Hannibal raised his eyes to meet Will's, in the glass. "How are you feeling?"

Will looked away and swallowed with a dry click of his throat. "I'm thirsty. You?"

"Dry mouth," Hannibal agreed. His teeth itched.

They moved to the kitchen. Will found the glasses and filled them with water from the tap while Hannibal began to stack ingredients on the counter: a quarter of a melon sealed in cling-film, a few slices of prosciutto wrapped in butcher paper, a sleeve of water crackers, and a small wedge of goat brie. Will turned, saw the pile of food, and raised his eyebrows. "We're not eating all that."

"We'll eat what we eat." Hannibal sliced open the butcher paper that held the prosciutto. "Would you cut up the melon?"

"I'm not sure I should be handling sharp instruments," said Will, but he picked up the knife anyway.

Hannibal wrapped shreds of prosciutto around the cubes of melon and speared them with toothpicks. The smell of sweet fruit and salted flesh rose up around them, and Will started to eat before Hannibal had even finished skewering. "Mmmph," Will moaned. "If you don't eat this, I'm going to eat them all."

Hannibal had forgotten how food tasted when he was high: not only were the salt and sugar of the meat and fruit enhanced, but also the texture, the pulp and fat that crushed between his teeth. Saliva rushed over his tongue as he chewed and swallowed, and his fingers clashed with Will's as he reached for another piece. Will laughed, and Hannibal chuckled as he closed his teeth around the contents of the toothpick. Effervescent joy bubbled underneath his breastbone and up between his ribs. Part of him was galled by his lack of control, while another, larger part sighed that he'd never had any self-control when it came to Will Graham, so why be chagrined by it now? The drug painted everything over in a pink fuzz of unimportance.

"We did cook together, in the end," Will said.

"Yes, we did. More than slicing a melon. Your knife skills have improved," Hannibal added.

"Yeah, well." Will's throat bobbed, and he looked away.

"Molly has you helping in the kitchen," Hannibal observed. The thought did not sting him as it once did. After all, who had Will Graham in their kitchen now?

Will's shoulders shifted at Hannibal's use of the present tense. "Yeah, well. Walter helped, so it seemed unfair, otherwise."

"Do you miss them?"

"Of course I miss them. Stop talking about them."

"Did you miss me?"

Will was silent. Hannibal scooped up the last piece of melon and popped it in his mouth.

"I didn't not miss you," said Will. "I tried not to think about you. Then I got that letter, and it was like all those times I'd tried not to think about you happened at once, and I couldn't stop."

Triumph gathered in a fist in Hannibal's chest. He felt himself smile.

"It wasn't like that for you," said Will.

"I had my memory palace," said Hannibal. He tore open the sleeve of crackers and scattered them over the empty plate, heedless of the smears of melon juice. "You were in many of the rooms."

Will gave Hannibal that damp, large-eyed look, and Hannibal knew that Will was thinking of the endless stretch of days when Hannibal had kept company with shades, listening to only the memory of arias. Not all the rooms were light, bright, and airy. There were holes in the floor of the mind.

Hannibal said, "Will you get a knife for the cheese?"

Will fished a butter knife out from one of the drawers and dug into the cardboard circle. The cheese was slightly underripe, but it still tasted divine, sharp and musky and buttery. The crackers gave a satisfying crunch between Hannibal's molars. They ate so much that Hannibal knew he ought to feel an uncomfortable distension of his stomach, and yet he was nowhere near sated. Every bite of food was as grand a symphony of flavors and textures as the last. No diminishing returns.

But eventually, the cheese and crackers ran out, too.

"How are you feeling?" Will asked.

"Like I would very much like to not be standing up," Hannibal sighed. His limbs were heavy with food and THC. If he sank into a chair or couch he would not rise again until the chemicals had leached from his system. He wished they'd stayed on the couch.

"No terrifying murals of Greek mythology or deep-pile carpets here," Will mumbled. "I checked."

"There are beds," Hannibal pointed out.

The air between them took on a delicate eggshell quality.

Hannibal sighed. "I wouldn't--"

"Take advantage of me that way, I know," said Will. "You seem awfully certain that I won't take advantage of you."

"That would not be taking advantage," Hannibal said, as gentle as he knew how to be.

The pause stretched and grew swollen.

"Let's lie down, then," Will said. "On a bed. I don't particularly want to be upright, either."

They made their slow, syrupy way to the closest bedroom. Hannibal toed off his shoes at the door and, upon reflection, sat on the bed and took off his socks as well. Will followed his lead, and they both sat on the edge of the bed for a few moments, wiggling and examining their toes. Will was the first to start laughing, and so did Hannibal. They fell back on the bed, their feet still on the floor.

"Fuck, I am so high," said Will, pushing his hand through his hair. "I thought it would have worn off by now."

"Mmm, well, we both have low systemic tolerance," Hannibal mused.

"It's gonna be really bad if the Dragon bursts in on us right now."

"He won't, I think," said Hannibal. "He's been watching us this whole time. He's had many opportunities. He'll wait until we're in our right senses."

"Courteous," Will murmured.

"It's what I would do," said Hannibal. "Probably."

"More like, he doesn't want to film us while we're high as fuck."

They contemplated the ceiling in silence. Hannibal thought he probably should have had something painted on the ceilings after all. Something like the chapels in Italy, blue skies streaked with white clouds, cherubs peering out of the corners.

"No antlers here," said Will.

"Mmm, no. I opted for a more modern decor, at this house. It's important to stick to a theme."

A fragile smile tugged at Will's mouth. "Are you happy now? That we're here?"

Hannibal's face broke open without his permission. "Very much so."

"Were you happy before?"

Hannibal laced his fingers together over his abdomen. "I was happy before I met you. And after I met you. And yet, there is no comparison between the two states." He paused, his tongue against his palate. "I was unhappy after I met you, as well."

"You're not the only one," Will muttered, but there was no rancor in his voice. "But I was unhappy before. And happier after, I think."

"Were you happy, with your family?"

Will blinked at the ceiling. His eyes were dry, but whether that was because of the marijuana or something else, Hannibal couldn't say. "You're asking what happiness is," he said. "And that, I don't know. I was happy with them. I was unhappy with you. But I'm unhappy without you, too."

Hannibal sighed. "That's very touching."

Will reached out without looking and brushed the sleeve of Hannibal's sweater. He frowned and curled toward Hannibal like an apostrophe, shifting higher on the bed so that his feet were no longer on the floor. He stroked his hand down Hannibal's arm. "This sweater is really soft," he declared.

Hannibal blinked. "It's cashmere," he said.

"I have cashmere sweaters and they don't feel anything like this," Will said, sounding a little accusatory.

Will continued to pet Hannibal's shoulder, frowning a little. Hannibal let him. "You only ever touch me when you're under the influence."

"'Something you want normally, but think you can't have,'" said Will, and Hannibal felt the echo of the words through his memory palace. "You touch me often enough. Sometimes you have a knife. More than half the time, I think." He reached out and put his hand on Hannibal's, over his diaphragm.

"You've held the knife as well." Hannibal watched their hands rise and fall with the motion of his lungs. He pushed himself up the bed, dislodging Will's hand, but Will merely touched Hannibal's hair next, behind his ear.

"I liked it when it was a little longer," Will said, wistfully.

Hannibal tilted his head toward Will. "Facility regulations," he said. "It will grow."

"Mmmm." Will's eyes were closing, but his hand was still in Hannibal's hair, his palm against his cheek. "You're sure the Dragon won't kill us in our sleep?"

"You're the profiler." Hannibal yawned. It had been a long time getting here, with many detours and stolen vehicles along the way. "I suppose I wouldn't mind dying in my sleep, like this."

"I would," Will said, but he didn't open his eyes.

"This was your idea," Hannibal muttered.

"You shouldn't indulge all my bad ideas."

Hannibal curled his fingers around the back of Will's neck and stroked his jaw with his thumb. "Sleep," he said. "We'll both feel better when we wake." He stifled another yawn. "I think there's a bottle of wine around here, somewhere."

"I'd like that," Will mumbled. Hannibal wanted to reply, but his mouth wouldn't shape the words. Sleep rose up and pulled him under.

He dreamed of the bluff, crumbling away beneath them.