It was unseasonably cold in Baltimore that year, Will thought as he pressed against the frosted window at the top of the stairs, watching as the frost slowly melted away around the heat of his palm. It truly was a White Christmas this year, nothing short of a miracle.
The real miracle though was that he wasn’t out on the streets hooking in it.
Not this year.
“Will!” Hannibal’s familiar voice called down from the bottom of the stairs and a ashen blond head poked around the stairs to smile up at him. It was all lopsided and terribly affectionate at the sight of him. “Perhaps I’ll take back my previous reservations, that onesie is rather charming if not a bit ridiculous.”
“Told you so.” Will pulled up the hood and the stuffed antlers came with it. Hannibal hadn’t been a fan of the reindeer onesie bought on Will’s far too generous pocket money. Then, with a huff, “so am I allowed to come down finally, or what?”
Like a small child he had to wait at the top of the stairs listening as Hannibal rearranged the gifts for the thirty thousandth time until his particular tastes for perfection were satisfied. He was nineteen for gods sake, not nine.
“Everything is in order Will, just don’t….” Will barreled down the stairs, “run,” he sighed.
Will could feel the older professor’s eyes following him as he slowed down in front of the tree, and stared up in wonder. Jesus fucking… Christ.
“Language,” he warned.
The tree alone was overwhelming, a real fancy fir with beautiful crystal ornaments, and sheer red ribbon wrapped around it. Red birds, real gold pinecones, glittering blown glass, and under it all gorgeously wrapped gifts of all sizes and shapes that Hannibal must have meticulously fretted over for days.
Hannibal had even already prepared them candy cane coffees steaming softly on the coffee table and the grand marble fireplace was cracking away with a Yule log more worthy of a bonfire than nestled in Hannibal’s estate.
“And they are…?” Will began as he fell to his knees in front of the first gift he could get his hands on. The tag read in Hannibal’s elegant scrawl, “To William, Love Always”.
“Yours,” Hannibal confirmed.
When Will leaned over to fish out a smaller gift, the reindeer hood flopped over. The gift was wrapped up in glossy red paper with a real holly sprig nestled beside the bow. “You could’ve just gotten me whatever this is,” he shook the box for good measure, “and I would have been happy. This is…. Hannibal, this is a lot.” And now it made the stupid gift he’d gotten Hannibal look even more foolish and tacky.
Hannibal sat in his favourite chair by the fire and took a sip of what was surely some fancy French press, homemade whipped cream, damn hand-pulled crushed candy cane sort of deal. “It’s been a long time since I have been able to share my Christmas with someone, try not to fault me for being overindulgent. It’s as much gifts to you, as your reaction will be gift enough for me.”
A laugh bubbled out of him as he stood up with the gift and took a seat on the chair’s arm. Hannibal never liked that, but today the holiday cheer was making him forgetful. “Am I so transparent?”
Hannibal’s lips were warm and a little sticky as he leaned over and kissed the side of Will’s forearm as he turned the gift around in his hands. He merely hummed against his skin, neither a “yes” nor a “no”.
Will’s fingers pulled at the ribbon and un-tucked the holly sprig to nestle it in Hannibal’s messy morning hair with a grin. He looked like a holly unicorn with the leaves sticking straight up. “It’s just weird seeing so much. Growing up with Ma meant Christmas was more Malboros and convenience store kotchsky wrapped up in that day’s newspaper.” Or later dealing with drunken assholes whose idea of holiday cheer was to pick up some moth-eaten street rat and take out a lifetimes worth of resurgent family problems on them.
“Then I expect you to indulge.” Hannibal nodded towards the gift in his hand. “You have my permission to start, Will.”
And start he did. A solid hour was spent lounging around their (what a strange concept) tree, tearing the paper with a growing glee as Hannibal sipped his coffee and watched on with a big, dumb smile plastered on his face.
Some gifts he wasn’t allowed to touch and got a warning when he tried to open them, so instead he contented himself with gifts of new glasses, which he immediately put on, silk pajamas to match Hannibal’s Will always mocked, a tailored suit, beautiful leather bound copies of Harry Potter as a compromise, and a copy of Paradise Lost as another condition of the compromise.
Will was toasty inside his onesie, and the entire house now smelt of the cranberry candles, pine, and coffee. The classic Christmas tunes had been changed by Will when Hannibal went to make a small breakfast to all the Christmas songs that used to blare from the malls he’d hang around.
They shared croissants with chocolate, and only once the dishes were put aside was Will finally allowed to touch the remaining gifts.
“That one, beloved,” Hannibal pointed out to a large box in the back with an equally stupidly large bow.
“This is just obscene,” Will laughed as he pulled the heavy box out. Just what had Hannibal gone out and gotten him? Once it was placed on the carpet, Will sat crossed legged and started to tear through the paper, rather pleased with how Hannibal grimaced at the ripping of his perfect wrapping job.
When enough of the paper had been pulled aside, Will started ripping through the rest. A hundred silly childish wishes were being answered here, asking Santa and Jesus (he used to not really get the difference or who brought gifts) for something he knew he’d never get: a gaming system.
“You got me a PS4, how… uncultured.” Will couldn’t stop grinning though as he stared at the mega bundle with enough games to last him an age and a half. The Last of Us, Until Dawn, Metal Gear Solid, and even Call of Duty, the last of which Will laughed at. Hannibal really had put aside his cultured sensitivities.
Hannibal must have also snooped into his search history. “I’d ask how you knew but I think I already know.”
To his credit, Hannibal only shrugged slightly and pointed to a gold envelope sitting amongst the branches of the tree. Once Will snatched it and popped the seal he pulled out some paper, not really taking in what it was. They looked pretty damn official though. “What the hell?”
“Language,” Hannibal reminded him again. “Read it Will.”
Will turned over the letter and squinted at it.
Dear William Graham,
We are delighted to inform you that in light of your extraordinary SAT scores, we are extending you a late spring enrollment to the Psychological and Brain Sciences Major at John Hopkins University.
There was more but it was hard to keep reading when everything had gone numb. He… he what? Of course he took the SAT test at Hannibal’s insistence but he had done it more to placate the old man than anything else.
There was another sheet though, and when Will flipped to it he almost dropped the pages.
It was a bank statement confirming his tuition (a holy fucking shit expensive tuition) had already been paid in full under his name, signed on the dotted line by no other than the man beside him.
“You piece of shit.” Will croaked out as he re-read everything one more time. This time Hannibal didn’t even chastise him, and when he looked up at him, everything was blurry with unshed tears. The bastard, Will sniffed and rubbed at his eyes. “You are unbelievable, did you send my scores in?”
Hannibal smiled as Will approached the chair and leaned over, taking his face in his hands and kissing every bit of skin he could find.
“Well, after you spent a semester skulking around in the back of my classes I thought it would only be the next course of action to make it official,” Hannibal said through the barrage of kisses Will was throwing his way.
He wasn’t lying though. Will had snuck into the notoriously handsome “Professor Lecter’s” lectures on behaviour science, writing on scraps of paper beside people with their fancy macbooks and Starbucks. Maybe it was just how weird he would have looked in comparison that caught Hannibal’s eye and caused him to speak to him after class. From there it kept snowballing, from talks after class to grabbing coffee together and talking about psychology, and then to the coffee dates evolving into dinners. Will was enamored by the older man, and apparently Hannibal was utter charmed by Will’s scrappy bite.
“This better be the last gift,” Will threatened as he laid another warm kiss against Hannibal’s thin lips.
Hannibal only took a long sip of his coffee.
Jesus, he was unbelievable.
This was already more than he could have wished for in his entire life. This really was reaffirming Hannibal’s place as Will’s sugar daddy. If only Matt could see him now, from street rat to spoiled rotten little brat.
“There is one more gift, right in the back. It’s small.” Except Hannibal grimaced a little at the mere thought of it. That must have meant it was a good gift if Hannibal was having trouble stomaching the very idea of it.
Will got onto his knees, making sure to give Hannibal a good show (onesie or not) as he arched under the tree and groped for the little box in the back.
Once he had it he sat back and looked at the very unassuming gift, not wrapped quite as beautifully as the others. Oh, Hannibal really didn’t like this gift. Excellent.
Once the wrapping paper and small bow was removed, Will popped off the top of the box and stared down at a leather collar.
“You dirty old bastard.” Will laughed as he lifted it up and held it against his throat, like he was trying to snap it around him. Though, shit… maybe the gift he’d gotten was a bit too on the nose and similar. Crap.
Though when he was about to snap it, a thought hit Will like a train. Hannibal… didn’t like this gift at all and the only thing Hannibal hated that Will would want, and one that needed the collar….
“You didn’t…” Excitement bubbled through him like the champagne and orange juice they’d drunk the night after fucking all festive like by the tree. Will shot up and found himself dancing a little in the onesie, jumping from foot to foot as the joy threatened to make him break out in infectious laughter. Oh god, oh god, oh god. “You didn’t! Hannibal!”
“The shelter will be open on Boxing Day and then we will go and you’ll pick one mutt to bring home. I expect you to be solely responsible for its well being and-“ Hannibal grunted as Will hit him barreling at top speed, instantly tucking his head under his chin, shaking.
“One dog, Will, one.”
“Thank you so much.” More than anything else, hell even tuition, all he’d ever wanted since he was a child, really wanted, was a dog. Screw the gaming systems, screw every other present Santa Jesus could have ever brought. A lifetime of gas station shit was instantly worth it. It was impossible to own a dog as you bounced from motel to motel and later while trying to live on the street, but now? Now he was going to have a mutt of his own.
“Are you crying?” Hannibal asked as he dislodged Will enough to tilt his head up to see indeed he was crying, unable to stop the flow of tears. “Not the tuition, or the other gifts, but you cry for a mutt.” He said, like Will was the most fascinating puzzle on earth in that moment that Hannibal was unable to piece together. “What do you say then? Manners, Will.”
Of course. Will pulled back and wiped at his eyes, feeling hot and giddy. If he wanted manners, Will would give him the prettiest manners ever. “Thank you so much, Daddy.” He watched in satisfaction as Hannibal’s eyes opened wide and then quickly hooded in satisfaction. The kinky old bastard always delighted in a stark reminder of the age difference, of Will’s youth and his devotion to Hannibal.
Oh, Hannibal was going to be truly thanked later that day though. Full bodied.
But first, he was going to be thanked with the only non-sexual gift Will had thought up for the holiday (and oh boy were there a lot of sexual treats lined up for the professor). What did you get the old money man with a taste for the exquisite and rare? Nothing. You really couldn’t compete with that.
Instead, Will had to think outside the box.
Will grabbed the only box labeled for Hannibal and slipped on the top of the armchair again, this time earning a small look, and tucked his feet in Hannibal’s warm lap. “Here.” He passed along the gift and then with a snort, “I think we might have shopped at the same place.”
Hannibal treated the wrapping paper so delicately as he slowly peeled off the paper and passed it for Will to place gingerly to the side.
When he opened it, the confused look on his face was priceless. Hannibal stared down at the thin metal choker nestled in the wrapping paper and picked it up, turning it to examine it. “We are not getting two dogs, I draw the line Will.”
Will laughed and then plucked the choker collar from Hannibal’s curious hands and then wrapped it around his own neck and fastened it just like he had practiced before. With the same practiced smoothness, from years of bending and moving his body in all sorts of pleasing ways, he slipped into Hannibal’s lap easily. Sure he was still in the ridiculous onesie, but with the amount of confidence oozing out of the boy’s smile, it seemed like he was dressed in the most alluring of outfits. “Read it.” Will’s fingers touched the engraving that pressed against his adams apple with a fluttering touch.
Hannibal held his chin up, earning a small pleased yelp and then Will heard an audible inhale. “Daddy’s.” Will said for him when Hannibal couldn’t seem to stop staring and start speaking.
Not that Will could complain though, speechless was a pretty good response.
“Do ya’ like it?” Hannibal’s long fingers were running all along his throat, over the cool metal and the engraved words that marked Will has his. Always his, forever his.
For a moment when Will looked down he thought Hannibal was shedding a few tears like he always did after an excellent opera or art gallery.
Crap. Instead, he looked hungry, ravenous actually.
“I adore it, my clever boy,” Hannibal groaned as his hands worked at the buttons of the reindeer onesie, intent on getting his hands inside and running his fingers along the warm stretches of skin that belonged to him, now quite literally.
“Good.” Will grinned as he leaned up and captured the older man’s lips in his own. After a few breath-stealing kisses he pulled back and stared back behind him at the tree, the presents spread all around the room, and finally back at the gorgeous man whose lap he was quite happily nestled in.
“Merry Christmas, Daddy.”