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An incident with a neighbor’s husband led Hannibal and Will to Hyvinkää. Will hadn’t been able to ignore the bruises on the little girl’s cheek and upper arms. Hannibal certainly hadn’t. It left them both simmering and snappy until it boiled over. The man left behind a substantial insurance pay off for the wife and their adopted daughter. Enough that the woman did not mention the involvement of her two quiet neighbors who left the root cellar painted red. Despite the gloves it was still sloppy. The missing cuts of flesh and offal damning.
Tattlecrime naturally took to theorizing how the two of them possibly survived. Murders of such a nature were uncommon in Iceland, enough so that their names started cropping up on social media once again. Buzzfeed rehashed some old quizzes: Find out which Murder Husband you are based on your astrological sign; The Try Guys try light therapy. Old photos and old stories resurfaced. Will’s past analyzed and reanalyzed, as the graduation photo of the large eyed woman wearing an unfortunate cardigan was dug up as some new groundbreaking find. Hearing morning talk show hosts say his old name made Will's gut churn.
The hype was short lived, but it was enough that they decided to pick an isolated cabin over another duplex in the city.
Will stood in front of the bathroom mirror. The space was larger than what they shared in Reykjavik, more lavish. He opened the medicine cabinet to small glass vials, packaged syringes, and a variety of first aid supplies. He pushed past the orange bottles of Percocet to find the white capped Advil.
The stress of moving their life had left him with tension headaches, back pain, and a resurfacing of spot bleeding. “It’s not that bad,” he’d said, mostly to assure himself when Hannibal inquired one morning.
It’s not that bad, he grimaced at the dark spots in his boxers. Will vigorously rubbed at his face and stepped out of the stained underwear. He scrubbed them in the sink then left them to hang over the shower door.
He sat on the toilet and realized it wasn’t just a little spotting this time. "Shit," he said to himself and frowned at the bloody paper. The menstrual cup he used was back in Maine, in the second drawer behind Molly’s hair dryer, or would have been a few years ago. He hadn’t thought to buy a new one. He hadn't needed one. Infrequent spotting wasn't enough to warrant the investment.
Hannibal chose that moment to seek Will out, and found him in that undignified position. If Will had been in his place, he would have laughed. He would have appreciated laughter. Maybe not right at that moment, but the situation needed it. He needed it.
In stead he simply asked what Will needed. He made his request, cheeks and ears burning, before adding: "And maybe a functioning set of balls?" With that Will was left alone as Hannibal made the twenty minute trip into the city. The nearest town wasn’t stocked to Hannibal’s personal liking, despite it being a convenient seven minute drive. He passed the time by making a grilled cheese. Gouda and aged cheddar with a little asiago grated into the mix. He put them on the cheap butter bread he liked to buy, partly to horrify Hannibal, and mostly because sandwiches tasted better with it. The homemade mayo didn’t brown the bread as well as the store bought kind, so Will substituted soft unsalted butter. He waited until the cheese began to ooze from between the bread to sizzle on the skillet. He inhaled the sharp odor and watched the bright orange cheddar darken.
In their years together he’d learned of a few store bought, over processed things Hannibal had a weakness for. The main one seemed to be those awful black licorice strings. He could barely bring himself to kiss the man after he’d eaten one. The flavor clung to his tongue for hours. It didn’t stop Will from putting them in the basket when he went on a grocery run. Just like Hannibal never stopped bringing home butter bread and cheap block cheddar when they ran out.
The dishes were washed, picked clean of burnt cheese, and the smell had nearly dissipated when the clink of the main lock sounded. Will listened to the fumbling noise of keys and bags bumping against a thick parka. He’d been standing, milling about in the kitchen for over an hour. He hadn’t wanted to bleed through his flannels, so opted to not sit down. The fridge had needed to be reorganized anyway. Hannibal kept pushing the condiments too far back.
“Hey.”
“Hey,” Hannibal replied with no small degree of warmth. He sat a small box on the island and pushed it towards Will before he began to unpack the items he’d picked up on the trip. It was a brand Will had wanted to try, Molly had showed him the site, but determined it was too expensive when he could buy a pack of three for under $10.
He couldn’t hide the grin that pulled at his scar, making it lopsided. Only after he tore into the package and started pre-washing it did he remember to say “thanks.”
Hannibal hummed a response as he refilled the flour container. In removing the parka and cap, his hair had mostly escaped the braid he typically kept it in for bed. The length and gray streaked beard were enough that hardly anyone gave him a second glance, even the serial killer groupies.
Will had kept his appearance more or less the same. His beard was a bit denser, but it was more for practicality than anything. The two feet of snow he had to shovel yesterday so Hannibal could get the truck out of the garage was reason enough to keep the beard. It was his ability to simply vanish in a crowd that enabled his sameness.
“Have you considered my offer?” Hannibal asked suddenly as Will was fishing the cup from the confines of the still too hot whisk.
“What?”
“The elkhound. There is a breeder east of Helsinki.”
Will removed the pot from the burner and dumped the boiling water into the sink. “Normally I’d be all over that, and you know it.” He sighed and watched the steam fog the sink window. “But after we had to move-“ He set the cooling pot in the drying rack. Will shrugged, “I’m scared it’d get taken away.” I’m scared you’ll be taken away was left unspoken, but draped itself heavy over his shoulders.
Hannibal finished marking the dates for the dry ingredient labels. His full attention on Will, who avoided his gaze.”That instance of sloppiness was-“
“It was an emergency,” Will finished. They both recognized that man had been escalating at an alarming rate.
“Yes.” Hannibal no longer seemed irritated when Will cut him off. He simply took it as something that happened regularly. Like Will blowing his nose in the sink after coming in from a run. Uncouth, but very much Will. Something he would miss if it ceased. “But you still crave that companionship.”
His fingers sought Will’s curls and blunt nails grazed pleasantly across his scalp. “And while I seek to provide you with anything you desire, I cannot fulfill that particular role myself.”
Will snorted, “I dunno, I wouldn’t mind seeing you in one of those dog onesies.” He was rewarded with a sharp yank to his hair. He laughed then, and swatted Hannibal. “Yeah, you know what, okay. Let’s get a fucking dog.”
He shook his head and let Hannibal kiss him. He even returned the gesture with enthusiasm, feeling the sharp grin beneath his lips. He let it linger despite the uncomfortable dampness threatening to stain his pajamas. Let Hannibal regret his decision when he has to help with potty training a puppy, he thought.