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Never In The House

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He leaves before the fog has had a chance to clear, and Hannibal doesn’t even bother to get up to see him to the door. He knows he’ll be ignored if he goes, perhaps sneered at or gifted with an exasperated once-over if he’s particularly lucky. Hannibal isn’t in the mood to feign indifference over that, not today.

He lies in bed and regards the pug that sits on the chair across from him. The dog has always had a crooked jaw, broken as a pup, Will guessed upon bringing him home, and thus always shows a perpetual smile. He makes creaking sounds as he pants at Hannibal, and despite his mood, the doctor finds his lips twitching in the beginning of a smile. The ridiculous creature has a way with him.

It’s only for him that Hannibal gets up, or so he tries to convince himself. Will only took two dogs with him today, and the other three laze around the livingroom as Hannibal pads into it, sleep pants around his hips and creaking dog at his heels.

The dozing dogs’ tails stir as he passes by them. A click of his tongue brings them upright, and another sends them spilling eager to the floor to follow him. The house is nothing like the Baltimore manse in which Hannibal made his home, but neither so humble as Wolf Trap. It is spacious, with no more rooms than they need but each high-ceilinged and sparsely, tastefully furnished. There is their master bedroom, and each of the two additional bedrooms claimed respectively. Hannibal refers to his as his study. Will has taken, charmingly, a more colloquial title for his space - “the piss off room.”

The kitchen is outfitted to Hannibal’s needs, long before they arrived here. He had not planned for dogs, however - an admitted oversight. Will’s now-estranged wife took the ones he’d had before, but one by one their home became infiltrated, as the dogs were brought in as if by professional smugglers.

Hannibal sets on a kettle to make a cup of pour-over, and greets each of the dogs in turn as he feeds them.

They all range in size - they always did, with Will - and age. All mutts, all friendly and lazy in their comfortable life here. Will had taken the two most active when he’d gone, and Hannibal has to admit he’s content not having to discipline them with soft sounds and hand gestures so they don’t jump on him in their excitement.

The pug he feeds last, crouching down to watch him as he tilts his head to accommodate for his crooked face. The dog is a locomotive in everything he does, unstoppable and stubborn, and always smiling. Will named him Brick.

“I don’t suppose you could talk him out of his petulance,” Hannibal murmurs, eyes moving over Brick’s barrel-like body as it twitches in his excitement while he eats. “He’s always wont to listen to you more than he is to me.”

There’s no response, and Hannibal hums. Just as he straightens, though, there’s a bang from the screen door - it hardly suits the house, but Will insisted upon it - and all the dogs lift their heads in unison. Brick starts to turn, then pivots back to his food, then towards the door, then back again with a grunted sound of dismay.

“Eat,” Hannibal tells him, as he too hesitates on whether or not he should follow the sound of his husband’s return.

Will makes the decision for him, padding by on socked feet to the sink to rinse the sweat from his face. The sun rises fast here, and burns hot through much of the day. Hannibal is not too proud to breathe in softly, and fill himself with the familiar earthiness of his partner.

“There will be water for coffee momentarily. A pour-over, of -”

Will doesn’t respond, but picks up the jar of instant on his way past.

Hannibal hums his displeasure but doesn’t stop him. He has noticed, after years of initially poking at and then genuinely caring for Will Graham, that given time, Will is more amenable to conversation. Hannibal is a patient man, he always has been. The only exception - as he has been to everything - is with regard to Will. It takes an enormous amount of willpower not to follow him.

He watches Brick snort and waddle after him on his behalf instead, leaving half his food in his bowl.

Hannibal makes coffee for himself and pretends that’s how he wanted to spend his morning in the first place. Perhaps if Will is so insistent on giving him the silent treatment over so small a matter, then Hannibal can return the act just as effectively. He will shower, he thinks, and dress much too well for a day at home, and read in the sitting room while the dogs camp out around him.

He needn’t speak to Will if Will chooses not to speak to him. They’re both grown adults, their choices are their own.

Hannibal scalds his tongue on his coffee and almost believes himself.

The mood settles, for a time. Their life is remarkably ordinary after such an extraordinary beginning. Certainly, they have had to move locations, as when their first safehouse high in the Cascades began to feel too isolated. Certainly, they have had brushes too close for comfort with authority figures in Argentina and Paris. Hannibal’s forethought - many years in the planning - and Will’s quick-thinking have kept them a step ahead, until their steps finally slowed again in the islands of the Mediterranean, where now their home looks across the sea and they spend more nights cooking together contentedly than riskier activities.

They are not lacking for those entertainments, however. Yes, they take in the opera and Will has his sailing, but their hunger can only be abated, never eradicated. It’s too much a thrill to no longer slip into those dark hollows of their being alone, but rather as pack animals, more powerful for their pairing. It’s precisely that thrill that after a time today finds Hannibal stopped in the doorway to the sitting room, where his partner is already splayed across the couch with his arm across his eyes and his coffee half-finished beside him.

“I know you’re there,” Will says, without looking. “I think I’ve acquired your sense of smell.”

Hannibal’s lips quirk. Atop Will’s chest is Brick, snoring in little grunts. “May I join you?”

“I thought it was better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Hannibal considers the iciness of the tone, the lack of motion on Will’s part to do anything at all, including looking at Hannibal. Hannibal’s tongue seeks against his bottom lip before he thins his mouth and hums.

“Perhaps we could just have a conversation,” he suggests. Will snorts, disturbing Brick enough to snuffle and kick before he settles again.

“Weak, Hannibal,” Will sighs. “And evasive. I’ve nothing to have a conversation over.”

“I’m sure we have enough,” Hannibal replies. He considers his husband’s lack of care, and tilts his head to regard him. “You’ll drop the dog, soon.”

Will’s hand immediately goes to catch Brick’s bottom, though he was in no danger of slipping at all, and in so doing displaces his hand from his face. Hannibal sips at his drink and lifts a brow.

“Consider it a preamble to an apology perhaps, if it’s easier.”

“I don’t want a preamble,” Will replies, eyes wide with surprise at Hannibal’s gall. “You don’t need or deserve a preamble.”

“Is it worth this degree of displeasure? Truly, ask yourself -”

“You killed a man in our kitchen, Hannibal. Killed him. In our kitchen,” Will repeats again, each word clipped crisp. “Our. Kitchen.”

“Will -”

“One rule,” he says, laughing dire. “I asked for it not to happen in the house. Hell, even the cellar I’d understand, but Christ, that’s - that’s where the dogs eat!”

Hannibal’s lips purse thinner still and he says nothing. Will watches him, brows drawn and lips parted in his indignation. Then he huffs a breath, shakes his head and makes to stand, catching Brick with practiced hands and setting him to the couch in his place.

“But of course, that hardly matters to you. All they do is shed and smell and make a mess.”

He stalks past Hannibal who doesn’t make to stop him. He watches Brick squirm around in the warm patch left by his owner and come to rest on his back, snoring joyfully as he immediately goes back to sleep. Will’s mug remains on the floor. The late afternoon sun highlights the coffee stains around the rim where Will had been too lazy to wash the thing and just rinsed it instead.

Perhaps Hannibal will take the couch tonight, allow Will his space to vent his spleen on the unsuspecting pillows.

Hannibal has no right to skulk around like he has, looking all confused and put-upon. A preamble to an apology. Will snorts aloud at the thought as he goes towards his piss-off room to ensure he isn’t followed and stared at again. Will hasn’t done a damn thing wrong, outside of coming home early to surprise Hannibal, which is to say, coming home before Hannibal could hide what he’d done.

“One rule,” Will says aloud, as he shuts the door behind himself. “One!”

And he’s got no right to make Will feel as guilty as he does when he drops down to sit at his desk. He’d never try to stop to Hannibal from doing what he needs - they’re past that now. Hell, on the right day, Will joins him in it, reveling in the thrill of the hunt that before his becoming, he’d only ever imagined, and even though fought against to the point of madness. He’d nearly destroyed himself, trying to tear out pieces of his being that were ugly to him, and only grew back stronger for it.

Will understands.

Will can’t help but understand.

But there’s more on the line now that they need to protect, and a life built together that goes beyond slaking their thirst with blood. They have each other now, and a little caution isn’t asking too goddamn much.

At least, it shouldn’t be.

---

Will wakes with a groan and a smile, eyes still closed as he considers how strange it is to be in Louisiana again. Maybe he’d bought a ticket in anger and forgot about it, boarded the plane and left Hannibal to stew in his guilt and misery with the dogs at his heels - he can’t remember. But the smell is unmistakeable, and welcome, and entirely too much like home, enough so that when Will stretches and opens his eyes and finds that the beignets are held by his husband, he isn’t immediately angry.

“I thought I would surprise you,” Hannibal says. “And keep you from the kitchen a little longer, as the surfaces dry.”

“Dry?”

“I’ve cleaned it again,” he explains. “Floor to ceiling. For the benefit of the dogs, of course.”

Will snorts a little, attempting derision but unable to suppress a sleepy smile. He turns it against the pillow instead, and peeks up from beneath his hair after a moment, one eye cracking open. Hannibal stands patiently beside him, and Will can’t help but think how much he resembles one of the dogs, begging for attention.

“You made beignets.”

“I did,” Hannibal says, his own smile quirking tentative at one corner of his mouth. “Though you say the word far more beautifully than I.”

“Too early for shameless flattery,” Will chides him, but then he catches again the scent that woke him. He sits up a little, blinking wide. “Is that…”

“Coffee, made with chicory, as is custom, I’m told.”

“Where in the hell did you find chicory in the middle of the night?”

Hannibal merely hums and extends the hand that holds the coffee for Will to take it from him. The tension is often weakest in the mornings, when Will hasn’t yet has his coffee or the time to grow resolute in his displeasure. It is a cheap trick, perhaps, but Hannibal feels the need to explain himself, one way or another.

“There are many things I keep for use on a rainy day,” Hannibal replies. He doesn’t sit on the bed, but instead takes the chair that Brick so often occupies. “I owe you an explanation.”

“An apology,” Will amends, taking a sip of his coffee and moaning at the taste. Hannibal inclines his head. “But I’ll allow an explanation first.”

“I felt,” Hannibal begins, smiling and holding out the plate next for Will to take a beignet to enjoy with his drink. “It would be easier to seek forgiveness for a rule broken than a life lost.”

Will snorts again, as he drags himself up to sit with his back against the headboard. The dogs that have blanketed him in the night adjust, some seeking towards the treats they smell from the plate in Hannibal’s lap. Another sip of coffee, and sighing pleasure from it, Will asks, “That scrawny thing got the jump on you? I don’t believe it. Why was he even here? Facts, Hannibal. Not metaphors. It’s too goddamn early for metaphors.”

“I believe he thought the house would be easy to take, being open as it was and myself in the study,” Hannibal explains. “There are enough things to see through the front glass doors to make it worth a look. I don’t think he counted on the dogs, but he came prepared to neutralize them, or anyone in his way.”

Hannibal crosses one leg over the other and drops a hand to stroke against one of the larger mutts’ heads as she slinks near.

“Had I the chance to negotiate him to the cellar, I would have. But finding him with a knife to one of our dogs’ throats was enough to call forward an instinct I haven’t yet learned how to suppress.” Hannibal’s lips thin again and he directs dark eyes to Will in apology. “A cardinal rule that I hadn’t intended to break, I assure you, but I could not have him disposing of our family for a mere robbery.”

It takes Will a moment to process what he’s just been told. It takes a moment more for him to suppress the wild swell of anger that rises like bile, and soothes only with the knowledge that has perturbed him for days. The man is dead and disposed of, his missteps appropriately punished. Will manages to sip his coffee again, clearing his throat briskly.

“He hurt one of the dogs.”

“Attempted to,” Hannibal remarks, a smile narrowing his eyes. “I’ve retained a remarkable speed, even in domestic bliss.”

Will nods, processing this, as well as his own stalwartly shitty behavior for the days preceding. Why Hannibal didn’t simply come out and say this, Will can’t fathom. Hannibal likes to play games still, and pluck at Will’s emotions, the difference now being that Will trusts he won’t find himself or his loved ones dead to make the music that Hannibal wants to hear from him.

Part of that, of course, is that Hannibal is his only remaining loved one.

He and the dogs, of course.

Will sets his mug aside, and reaches for the plate. Hannibal yields it, watching as Will sets this too aside, and then reaches again. Hannibal’s fingers are warm against his own, palms scraping softly together as Will pulls him to his feet and to the bed in turn.

The kiss is deliberate and gentle, a forgiveness and a request for one in return. Hannibal gives it, humming warm as he sets his other hand to Will’s cheek and strokes the stubble there. He hasn’t shaved since the cliff - the scruff suits him. Hannibal is certain given a few more months he will allow his own to grow as well.

“I could not let him,” Hannibal murmurs. “I saw red before I realized my mistake.”

“No mistake.”

“Misstep,” Hannibal amends and smiles as Will accepts this with another kiss against him.

Christ, has it only been two days? It might as well have been a lifetime, when both know every damn moment they have together could be borrowed time. Will makes a soft sound against Hannibal’s mouth, lips parting together to let him taste the chicory on his tongue and the acceptance of the apology that Hannibal offered with it.

Will squirms back into the bed, sighing out days’ worth of tension when Hannibal’s body settles heavy over his own. He pushes his fingers through silvering strands of hair, following the curve of his neck as the tendons within it flex from their kiss, palms spreading flat along his shoulders. A button-down shirt and slacks, not even a tie. Will remembers having to battle through three-piece suits tailored within an inch of their life and that now seems so absurd that Will laughs.

Hannibal murdered a man to save one of their dogs. Hannibal murdered a man to save their family.

“Sorry I was an ass,” Will murmurs.

“You were an ass,” Hannibal cedes, grinning when Will snorts against him. “But I love that part of you as much as the rest, if not more.”

“Now you’re an ass.”

“Perhaps I should apologize for that?”

“Now you’re a pain in it.”

“I can fix that, I think,” Hannibal hums and kisses past Will’s lips to his cheek, to his jaw and under it. Over Will’s throat where he sucks a deliberate claiming mark that pulls a deep and primal sound from the man beneath him. Will sleeps in thin shirts and boxers, which Hannibal has learned to navigate with graceful efficiency. Now, he hooks his fingers beneath the stretched elastic and encourages Will to arch his hips with a kiss to the sharp points of them, and slides them free of his legs, baring Will to the warm air and Hannibal’s breath.

Will mutters something that tangles on his tongue, and when Hannibal raises his eyes past Will’s swelling cock and heaving stomach, he smiles. Will is blushing, curious creature that he is, and entirely flustered.

“Two days, Will.”

“It isn’t - no, not -”

“Words,” Hannibal teases him. “Not stammering.”

Will bites his lips between his teeth and takes a deep breath through his nose, gaze fixed on the ceiling. He slows his breath and the flow of words in turn, and sighs them all out slowly, in a conspiratorial whisper:

“The dogs are watching.”

“They’ve watched me take a man apart in our kitchen,” Hannibal reminds him.

“This is different.”

“This is a much more pleasant and natural thing for them to watch, I would think.”

“Hannibal.”

The doctor allows a laugh and sits up just enough to click his tongue for the dogs to pay attention. One hand gesture, another, a few softly scolding words at the dogs who linger before they too file out into the corridor and down the stairs towards the kitchen to wait. Brick is the last to linger, stout little body wiggling in what amounts to a wagging tail. Hannibal gives him a look, and still wiggling, the littlest of the dogs takes off thudding after the rest.

“How -”

Will doesn’t have time to finish his question before Hannibal’s mouth is on him. Hands beneath his ass and lips parted hot against his shaft, Will groans and plants his fingers in Hannibal’s hair, head lolling back to the pillow and eyes rolling closed. Every time, he thinks of that joke - the one about trust and cannibals giving blowjobs. Now is no different, but his grin falters and a grunt of want takes its place as wet heat and sucking pressure surround him.

Hannibal doesn’t relent. He never does. He takes Will as deep as he wants to be taken, he hums and sucks and bites against him, sending shivers and laughter through his husband squirming in bed. But when Hannibal does pull back, when he does suck to the very tip of Will’s cock before letting it pop free from between his lips, he doesn’t bite against his hip and look up Will’s body like a predator waiting to pounce.

No, today he hoists Will’s hips higher and spreads him with his thumbs and plunges his tongue deep between Will’s cheeks, humming pleasure and damn near feral hunger as he does.

Will bucks so hard that were Hannibal any less honed in his strength, Will would likely wind up hurtling himself to the floor. His cock seizes stiff, jerking from his belly with a thin trail of fluid snapping loose. His voice is cut short, his breath cinches in his throat. Against Hannibal’s scalp, his fingernails scratch and when Hannibal bends his lips to a sucking, firm kiss against Will’s quivering opening, Will moans so loud it echoes from the rafters.

This was the last frontier they breached together, an idea unconscionable to Will and refused outright by - yes, hurtling himself to the floor on more than one occasion. Though it was resistance born of fussy fear, Hannibal soon discovered the truth of it, unknown to even Will. Nothing short-circuits him more, nothing else makes his voice crack so keening high and sweet. Nothing else shudders his entire body from curled toes to gasping breath as this, and since the first moment that he finally allowed it, Hannibal has made a habit of indulging them both.

Will’s keening becomes constant, breathy and deep and demanding. Will is beautifully greedy for everything Hannibal gives him, and he is willing to give him everything. Another hum and Hannibal closes his eyes as he worships against Will’s skin, flicks his tongue in quick flutters against the clenching muscle and welcomes and encourages him deeper.

He could pull back and work his pants open, free his cock and slip into Will without resistance.

He could, but he shan’t. No, Hannibal will take Will apart with his tongue alone, licking him clean after and relishing in the trembling and tension that follows.

It takes hardly so much as Hannibal is willing to give. He knows by the welling bloom of pleasure blossoming beneath him, the smell of salt and musk rising quickly. He knows that Will has not touched himself even in anger, as he is sometimes wont, in their few days apart. Will is closer to release than Hannibal would prefer, wanting to spend hours making up for those days, but he can hardly complain when beneath him Will has arched himself to shaking bliss, as if seeking escape even as he rocks in countertime to the sweep of Hannibal’s mouth against his hole.

Will’s heels dig into Hannibal’s back and he bends higher still. Shoulders against the pillow, neck bent against the headboard, Will bridges upward with only Hannibal’s mouth as the keystone holding him upright. He grips his ass, to keep him supported and spread him wider. With a moan pressed low against Will’s hole, Hannibal presses his teeth in the lightest pinch, and Will arcs shuddering.

Hannibal does not see his release, spattering thick ropes of white down against his chest and belly, but he smells it, he feels it, he tastes Will’s consummate pleasure and ecstatic release on the air itself as he relents with a flat swipe of his tongue.

For a few moments more, Hannibal gentles his tongue against Will as he pants and curses, shakes and clutches at Hannibal’s hair, the sheets, his own face. Then he lowers him to the bed again and sits back, drawing the back of his wrist over his lips to wipe them clean.

He looks like the damned cat with the cream and the thought makes Will snort.

“Fuck,” Will mumbles, sucking his lower lip between his teeth and letting it free, wet, again.

“We could work on that next,” Hannibal agrees, settling back on his heels.

Will makes a sound that to ears untrained to his particular noises would seem displeased. Fussy and distressed, but betrayed by his sleepy smile and the narrow squint he sends down to the man between his legs. His shirt is speckled dark with the results of Hannibal’s attentions, a situation quickly resolved by Will squirming out of it and tossing it to the floor.

“Forgiven?” Hannibal asks. Will’s smile quirks wider. Wider. And finally he grins, snorting amusement.

“Forgiven,” Will sighs. “For the beignets, the coffee, and your tongue in my ass.”

“And?”

“Christ,” laughs Will. “And for saving our family.”