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Wicked Game

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It starts as a fever.

Not a high one, just the familiar, uncanny sensation of being disoriented, like the first stage of the flu. Flushed and at once chilled, he looks down at his hands sometime during History and sees that they’re shaking. Bev narrows her eyes at him twenty minutes later, when the bell has apparently rung without him noticing, and they are the only two left in the room.

Will .” she says, enunciating very clearly, and he realizes this must not be the first time she’s said his name. “You okay?”

He shakes his head, swipes a clammy palm across his face.

“I uh…”

My head is on fire .

“I think I need to go home,” he finishes at last, starts sweeping his books messily from the desk into his bag. He doesn’t meet her eyes, is scared to, because suddenly it’s not just his head that feels warm, it’s everywhere, and with a sudden sinking feeling, he thinks he understands what’s happening.

“Okay,” she says, her hand hovering somewhere near his back, but not quite touching, “Okay. Want me to call someone for you?”

Will thinks for a moment of having to explain to his dad, and winces the thought away,

“No, no. It’s fine. I’ll walk home.”

 

In the halls, it becomes worse. Scents are everywhere, smells of chalk and markers and sunlight filtering through wood and plaster, but also the deeper, richer scents of bodies, musky and new. When he steps out, it’s dizzying, the pound of his head giving way to the pound of his heart, and something strange pools warmly, deep in his belly. His arm sweeps out blindly, catches the first surface he finds; the lockers, and he steadies himself a moment, the cool metal grounding, slowly becoming more real as he comes to terms with the situation.

“Sex,” the teacher says, clicking to the next slide, an embarrassingly out of date graphic of a shyly smiling boy in a polo shirt next to the words ‘Your Changing Body.’ There’s a chorus of hushed giggles, and the teacher waits patiently for them to pass, her eyes rolled skywards.

“Likely some of you have been tested and already know what sex you are, but I’m sure at least a few of you don’t. Tell me, what’s the first thing you should do if you go into an unexpected heat?”

The nurse, Will thinks suddenly, his head clearing for a moment. He should go to the nurse, and she’ll give him a temporary suppressant. This will all go away, and then he can figure out what to do about the fact that he’s this close to grinding himself against the lockers, desperate suddenly for any kind of friction. He groans, shifts to take an unsteady step in the right direction, and Christ, isn’t he too old for this to be happening?

The office door clicks open, then shut, the drifting pleasantries called back indicating the end of a conversation. And then he is there, in the hall with Will, whose legs feel close to giving out.

The man is tall and trim, well-dressed. A heavy watch rests on his wrist, and the ghost of a smile hums on his pleasantly shaped lips as he adjusts his patterned tie. His shoulders slide powerfully through the fine fabric of his suit, something that Will watches with unabashed appreciation, and his stride is long, something of a dancer’s poise in the way the well-shaped legs swing easily, confidently forward. He doesn’t notice Will where he leans in the hall, until suddenly he does, casting a curious glance his way. He looks like he might go about his business for a second, and Will’s heart leaps into his throat, but then something catches him. He pauses, cocks his head, and it reminds Will oddly of a snake tasting the air. He shivers, feels the reaction as a pulse through all of him, a tightening that hurts, somewhere deep.

“Hello there,” the man says. He takes a few strides in Will’s direction, carefully, as one might approach an animal, and for a second, through the haze, Will is ashamed, flinches away. The man stops where he is, sucks in his bottom lip as though reconsidering his approach.

“You look like you might need some help.”

Will nods instinctively, fights the growing urge to pounce on this man in the hall, while everyone else is in class. His eyes flick to the hands now held carefully neutral at the man’s sides, notices how large they are, how strong they look. He imagines one of them would span his lower back, if it was pressed, spread against the base of his spine, and he adds another new sensation to the list as his body responds enthusiastically to the image.

“You could say that,” he manages, his voice too shaky for the sarcasm to be as sharp as it should. The man’s lip twitches in appreciation nonetheless, and Will silently thanks him for it. He swallows, tries to clarify. “I… I need a ride home.”

“I am in possession of a car,” the man smiles, gestures towards the door leading out to the parking lot, “If you’re willing to ride with a stranger.”

There is something inherently dangerous about the offer, something inherently dangerous about this man. If Will’s mind was not such a tangle at the moment, if he was not being pulled by his instincts to throw himself into that danger, he would be reminding himself that he was on his way to the nurse, that this is exactly the kind of situation he’s been taught to avoid all his life, and beyond that, he might notice something about the man himself, some sharp edges and dark corners behind the smooth politeness. But as it is, he can barely think around the pound of blood that he can feel everywhere in his body, and when the man steps forward, extending his hand in greeting, his scent follows.

Alpha .

Will breathes him in. He never understood the whole scent thing before, it struck him as kind of weird, like most of the crazy shit they learned in health class. He’d long resigned himself happily to being your everyday beta, puberty having come and gone with no warning signs of being either an alpha or omega. But suddenly, in one moment, he does. This man smells like musk, like some subtle, spicy cologne, and just beneath, the strong, warm scent of his skin. God, he smells like home . Will wants to bury his nose in this man’s neck, fill himself with him.

Either there’s something of this on his face when he tilts his head up to meet the man’s eyes, or he has at last caught the scent of Will’s rapidly unfolding heat, because while he stands, hand extended, his lips part and his eyes grow dark.

What would he look like , Will wonders, in the half-light of dawn, sleepy and satisfied, and thick inside me?

This is a mistake. He should politely decline, should amble his way to the nurse before the next class lets out and fills the halls with teenagers, should take the medication and wait the next few days out in his room, shades drawn.

He takes the man’s hand. It is as warm and dry as he’s sure his is damp.

“I’m Hannibal,” the man says. His eyes never leave Will, but he’s pulled his composure back, no longer looks like he’s having the exact same thoughts.

“Will,” he answers.

 

Inside the car, it becomes almost unbearable. Will’s hands clench and unclench in his jeans in time to his body’s reaction to Hannibal’s scent, to the way his fingers hold the keys, everything is sensual and it’s so fucking hot . Hannibal licks his lips as he backs out of the school parking lot, and Will almost moans out loud as the action calls to mind an image of that tongue on his throat, triggers another painful lurch inside him that doesn’t end, only peaks then plateaus. He bites the inside of his cheek, concentrates on the cool leather against his face. When he speaks, it’s an attempt at casual, but his voice is strained.

“So are you a teacher or something? You’re pretty young.”

Hannibal’s eyes flicker over him briefly, before returning to the road. His jaw is suddenly tight, and Will knows it’s because of the sweet, feverish scent filling the console. He spreads his legs a little wider in the seat, knowing as he does it that there’s no way Hannibal doesn’t notice.

“I’m a surgeon,” he says, pulling them out onto the main road. Trees flicker past the passenger window, and houses. Will doesn’t notice them, he’s too busy trying to find the most comfortable way to sit as they travel over increasingly uneven pavement.

“Then what were you—”

“My sister is about your age,” Hannibal says, turning a wry look his way. “I was turning in some paperwork to enroll her for the next semester.”

Will nods like he’s processing any of this. His head is becoming quickly more foggy, his vision hazing over. He wants Hannibal to park the car, fuck him smashed against the tinted windows of the Bentley. For a while, his mind drifts somewhere totally unattached, lost in that fantasy. In it, Hannibal too is weak with need, pushing closer, pressing teeth and ragged breath.

“Is this your first heat?” Hannibal asks, the picture of polite curiosity.

Returning from his thoughts, Will realizes they’re pulling up the long driveway to his house. He wets his lips, nods. He doesn’t trust himself to speak.

“It’s certainly making up for lost time,” Hannibal notes, taking a deep breath. Once again, there is that flicker of primal hunger, in the way his hands clutch the steering wheel, the way his lungs catch and his eyes close. But once again, it passes, or Hannibal gets it back in check.

“Will you be alright?”

The gravel crunches beneath the wheels. Will’s dad’s car is not in the garage, it won’t be for hours still. There are several ways those hours could be spent, and it seems now that the most likely one is that he will lock his door and slip shaky fingers into himself, one after the other, try to sate the strange, painful emptiness he feels. He starts to nod, resigned, but Hannibal watches him like he’s waiting for something, and he has yet another really, truly, reckless thought.

“Come in?” he asks. He turns his eyes up to Hannibal who watches him solemnly.

“Will,” Hannibal cautions. His voice is lower, husky, and it sends chills through Will to hear his name murmured that way, “You don’t know what—”

Spurred by pure impulse, Will takes Hannibal’s hand in his, ignoring the sharp breath the other takes in, smooths it against his cheek. Hannibal’s thumb presses gently against his bottom lip, and he parts his mouth on it, sucks lightly and watches the way it makes his pupils dilate, his shoulders tense.

“Please,” Will asks.

 

They’re barely in the house when he pulls Hannibal to him by his tie, crushes their mouths together. He stumbles back against the door, feels his head clunk against it, the responding click of their teeth together, and he moans against lips and tongue.

“My room,” he growls, and Hannibal doesn’t bristle at the command like some alphas would, merely chuckles warmly against his mouth.

“Patience.”

Fuck patience , Will wants to say, but the tongue pushing into his mouth, exploring, stops him, the hands that skim up his ribs and down his back to clutch at his ass take away the breath he would have used.

Suddenly, he’s hoisted up, by the hands that dig into the skin of his thighs, and carried up the stairs.

They stumble into his room just as haphazardly, and by the time they tumble to the bed, Will is peeling his own clothes off. He needs to feel skin on skin, and when he manages to pull the shirt from Hannibal, it’s hot between them, almost too much. He runs his hands across the broad chest that’s revealed, down the gentle slope of hard stomach, but he stops at the waistband. Here, he waits for a moment, unsure, and looks up at the man resting above him for guidance.

Hannibal’s hips shift forward, the hard ridge of his cock now evident against the patterned fabric of his pants. Will is honestly a little frightened by the prospect of it, it’s bigger than he thought it would be, and he swallows around another wave of crushing need that makes him light-headed.

“Fuck,” he murmurs. He wants that thing in him. Hannibal leans down to kiss him again, and this time it’s slower, liquid warmth. He pulls one of Will’s hands down between them, presses it to palm him through layers of fabric, and Will moans into the kiss.

“What do you want, Will?” Hannibal says, emphasizing you . His hand returns to guide their kiss, but Will’s stays where it is, slides an unsteady rhythm that forces Hannibal’s hips forward again, draws a low groan from him.

“I don’t know. Everything, anything.”

Hannibal laughs, a low warm thing that turns into a helpless noise at the end, as Will’s hand slides under his pants, under his briefs and touches hot, smooth skin. It’s fascinating, and different, somehow, than when Will has touched himself.

“I’m going to… have to ask you to be more specific than that,” he pants against Will’s neck. Curiosity pushes Will on, and a burgeoning sense of power as he watches the alpha react to him, to his touch. “There are ways I could… work you through this without—”

Will shakes his head, drags his hand in a long, steady stroke that makes Hannibal’s voice break halfway through his sentence.

“I want you to fuck me.”

That seems to break whatever bit of self-control Hannibal had still been clinging to. He growls, low in his chest, and hands fist in Will’s jeans, yank them sharply from his hips. Will gasps, and the dull throb within him becomes a steady roar, unbearable. His thighs are slick already, and when Hannibal nudges his legs wider around him, he rolls his hips up hopefully, mindlessly. Hannibal’s hands are pressing him down into the mattress, Hannibal’s fingers are sliding into him, and his eyes roll up at the sudden intrusion, at once strange and amazing. The noise he makes in his throat is barely human.

“Oh god, please ,” he chokes, hardly knowing what he’s asking. Thick fingers push in and slide out, easily now, curl to press at some spot inside him at the same time as another hand envelops his cock, and it feels so good it makes his throat close and his heart stop for a moment. He thinks he might come, here, with Hannibal’s breath hot against his thigh and just his fingers in him, but the shuddery feeling passes, punctuated with a soft, frustrated moan.

“Turn over,” Hannibal says, his voice low. He’s dragging his pants off now, leaving Will feeling cold where there had been touch, and the order draws another shiver through him. He rolls over, unsure how to rest, but the second Hannibal’s hands find his hips, he arches his spine in reaction. There’s a rumble of appreciation from Hannibal, behind him, and for a surreal moment, the fever seems to break, Will’s head becomes clear and cogent, and he almost laughs as he realizes what he’s about to do.

“The first time you pair with someone is an important decision,” the words echo, “It can be a very intimate experience, so you should chose your partner carefully. Someone who cares about you, someone you trust.”

Teeth against the soft skin of his ass, and a thumb pressing into him just so lurch him back into incoherency, and he pushes back against the sensation, seeking more.

Lips then, up the length of his spine, and Hannibal’s warm weight follows. By the time he’s reached to press kisses against the thin skin of his neck, they are completely flush, and Will swallows as he feels the hard weight of Hannibal’s cock slide between his cheeks.

One hand strokes through his hair, the other guides his hips a little higher, and Hannibal murmurs his name against his skin. It’s intoxicating, he wants more of it, he wants more of Hannibal . He might mumble something to that effect, because Hannibal laughs again, that low pleased rumble against his shoulder, and Will’s hips buck up, needing.

The feeling of Hannibal pressing, thick and hot and blunt against him, races his pulse. For a moment, it doesn’t seem possible, it hurts even, but somehow that adds to the sharp pleasure that rolls its way through him, through his core, pulses into his cock. Will makes a small, broken sound as Hannibal pushes again, gently, and a little more of him slides in. Then, suddenly, Hannibal rocks his hips forward with a groan and Will’s mouth goes slack, his vision whites out as he’s cleaved into. He is stretched to his absolute limit, full of Hannibal, and it feels impossibly good, to the point of pain, to have that thick weight inside him. He’s scared that, if he moves, something will surely tear, but he can’t help rocking his hips back onto the man behind him, riding out the red feeling that leaves him breathless and shaky, and when Hannibal moans, lurches forward again, driving deeper, it peaks and snaps. Will comes like he has never come before, a sudden, almost violent rush of pleasure that feels like it will never end, that spools wetly against his sheets and shudders through him, where he can feel Hannibal pulsing, close to it himself.

His heart pounds in his chest, and small, desperate sounds leave his lips as his orgasm fades into a dull, manageable throb. Hannibal’s hands are steady, smoothing over his sides and his hips, but he does not otherwise move.

“Shit,” Will gasps at last, “I’m sorry, that was—”

Hannibal cuts him off with a soft sound of amusement, and they stay like that for a minute.

“We can stop now, if—”

“No,” Will manages. The feeling of Hannibal withdrawing wakes the same, pleasurable itch all over again, and he tenses, enjoys the helpless sound it pulls from Hannibal’s lips. “No, I… I want to feel you come.”

Will does twice more before that moment arrives, and when Hannibal finally does reach that point, pounding hard into Will by now, reckless and desperate and on the edge of rationality, he is damn close to a fourth, moaning incoherencies as the swell of Hannibal’s knot slams against him. When he eventually takes it, with a tandem sound of satisfaction from both of them, it’s only seconds before Hannibal fills him with his release, and the sudden hot rush of it draws Will over the edge yet again. He nearly blacks out when his body tries to tense over the pressure of the knot, long past the threshold where there was any distinction between pleasure and pain, and he gasps, briefly unable to think.

After, they lay on the mess of his sheets, still connected, and Will calms beneath the feeling of Hannibal’s hands tracing his skin, reverently. The first, heady stage of his heat has passed, leaving him only vaguely wanting, heavy with aches, and most of all, exhausted. There’s something else, too, something soft and foreign, a curling tendril of emotion in his chest. When Hannibal strokes sweat-damp curls from his cheek, it tugs at this new feeling, and he sighs, leans into the touch.

The golden light of the day has faded into the red of sunset, painting his walls with color, their skin with artificial flush. Hannibal is quiet, and Will thinks, strangely, that he can feel what he’s thinking; a hum of connection between them gives away the soft, solemn contemplation the other is lost in.

“We should leave,” Will realizes suddenly. It’s been hours, and headlights might flicker up the driveway at any moment. Hannibal nods, presses his lips carefully over the teeth marks he’d left at the nape of Will’s neck.

“We should.”

It’s different to hear the word from Hannibal’s mouth, and it tugs again at that tight feeling in his chest. We . They will get up in a few minutes, they will dress and clean themselves up as best as they can, but for now, Will lets himself settle back into the warmth of arms.

“And most of all,” the teacher says, addressing a class who has long lost interest, “Be very careful  in choosing with whom to pair, because if you Bond—” this word, at last, catches the attention of a few, heads turning sharply, “it can be almost impossible to break.”

Chapter Text

Sixteen years later

 

“The thing you have to understand about all this is—”

He doesn’t meet her eyes, though that is nothing unusual, from what she knows of him. He pushes his glasses up his nose, by the side of the frames, and sighs, looking profoundly uncomfortable.

“What do you want me to understand, Will?”

He starts at the sound of his name, as though it reaches him in a way that all the sympathy and smiles in the world would not. She cuts straight to him because she prides herself on her ability to know what a patient needs, and what Will Graham needs is direction.

She folds her hands in her lap, waits.

“I—” he begins again, leans back in the chair. He wants to appear at ease, and if she was not quite as observant as she is, he might have fooled her. “—am not as damaged as Jack Crawford thinks I am.”

She gives him a few seconds to let the words settle into the air, to taste how flat they sound, how false. The gauzy curtains of her office flutter a little beneath the air conditioning, and she cocks her head at him coolly, watches him frown and consider his words.

“Why do you think he thinks that?” she asks, when it’s time. His frown deepens.

“He referred me to you.”

“That’s not uncommon, in your line of work,” she says, watching him as she carefully chooses her next words. “Particularly in the case of someone with your background.”

He bristles visibly, and it takes her some restraint not to smile. She really should not toy with him, but the day is long and he makes it too easy.

“My background?” he repeats. The words come out sour, as though he wants to spit them out rather than say them.

“Someone with a violent history,” she clarifies calmly. “You said you left the police force after there was an incident; a stabbing?”

His shoulders ease only slightly at the realization that she is not making a reference to his sex, or a judgement about his unattached status. She personally thinks that what she is implying isn’t all that much less offensive, but Will Graham does not seem bothered by the idea that someone might consider him violent.

“If you can call it that,” he scoffs. “Torn rotator cuff, and a few stitches. And that’s not why Jack wants me in therapy anyway—if it is, he’s almost ten years too late.”

“Then why,” she proceeds, “does he want you in therapy?”

There’s silence. He’s built his own trap and stepped into it, and he looks like he realizes it too. It’s hard for her not to draw the analogy she naturally wants to—to consider him as prey—but she tries, because the impulse is instinctual and banal, and because Will Graham is anything but a victim.

He laughs. It’s not a pretty sound, but a rough burst of breath. He’s again looking at everything but her eyes, and he runs a hand across the rasp of his beard.

“Because… I see too much of what he asks me to look at.”

He is her last appointment of the day, and although he at least presents more of a challenge than most of her patients, her mind drifts longingly to the chardonnay waiting at home. Their session is almost over, and she has yet to get anything out of him beyond a continued reluctance to be here, and the guardedness of an omega who chooses to remain unmated.

As if she would be interested. She bites down a smirk at the very notion.

“You’ve said that you often consult with Jack Crawford. You’ve helped him in this capacity for years. So why now?”

He’s stood, walked around to the bookshelf on the far wall. She bites down on another ugly instinct as he runs a finger along their spines. He’s rude, certainly, but that’s no excuse for the desire she feels to knock him to the ground, to pin the wrist of the offending hand beneath her heel. For all her instincts, she is not an animal.

When he does answer, he’s facing away, and it takes her a moment to process the words.

“I’m… considering going back on suppressants.”

A few blinks later, and she’s composed herself. It’s not so much that the information has surprised her; she’s of course noticed how carefully he schedules his appointments, and she’s sensed the lingering fever-sweetness on him before. It’s more the blasé way he opens the subject, after all of his dancing around it.

“That’s a very personal choice,” she says, dryly. “Why does Jack have an interest in it?”

Again, the laugh that sounds like the scatter of leaves.

“Jack has an interest in a lot of things he has no business in.”

When she doesn’t comment, but waits, Will sighs and walks back around to the chair his bag is slumped against. He doesn’t sit, but rests an arm against the back, fiddles with something on his watch.

“I’m different when I’m on the medication. Not as sharp. Which suits me just fine, but sits poorly with Jack when he’s got a psychopath he needs to profile and I’m not on speed-dial.”

It’s not that he’s not pretty, she thinks distantly. She’s sure that beneath all the department store plaid and khaki, there is potential. He has a pleasant, if frustrating mouth, and eyes that leave him looking younger than his actual years. She has long held the opinion that, given the right coaxing, Will could be something very near to beautiful, but he carries something with him that makes him slow to trust and quick to snap. Undesirable traits, in an omega. She doubts that he would let anyone get close enough to see the softer sides of him, and she doubts many have tried.

“Tell me, Dr. DuMaurier, what are your personal beliefs on the subject?” he asks, as though he can sense the turn of her thoughts. He at last meets her eyes; not in acquiescence, but in challenge. A smug smile rests uneasily in the corner of his mouth as he waits for her to answer, and again she thinks how innately wrong it feels to her to allow him to test her this way.

“On suppressants?” she asks, brows raised. “Or on your choice to refuse them?”

He flinches almost unnoticeably, but licks his lips, begins pacing the room again.

“There are a lot of strong opinions out there. I’m just curious what kind of bias I’m dealing with.”

“My opinions don’t matter, Will. I’m here to help you understand yours.”

A third laugh, which is surely some kind of record, even if they are caustic with sarcasm, and he scuffs his foot along the carpet.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. There’s a reason Jack didn’t send me back to Dr. Bloom: he didn’t want a commiserator. He wanted someone more conventional.”

He has her hackles up, and she finds herself disliking him more with each passing moment. He has a preternatural tendency to bring out the parts of herself she has taken a long time to prune and shape from the calm, controlled persona that she puts out to the world.

“You assume that, because I’m an alpha, I hold conventional attitudes about suppressants?”

“I assume that, because Jack sent me to you, he assumes you hold the opinion that best suits him,” Will snaps. He seems offended by the suggestion that he too, has biases. “ Doctor .”

She taps her pen against the notepad in her lap and considers—once, twice, again.

“Why did you agree to begin therapy with me?”

He doesn’t answer, only looks down sullenly at his hands, and she takes it as invitation to continue.

“Your presence is not court-ordered, nobody forced you. And yet, here you are, in my waiting room each week.”

She allows herself a subtle smile, thinking he’ll appreciate her honesty,

“...Albeit, not without a certain level of hostility.”

His mouth twitches, but he says nothing for a stretch. She is patient though, and waits it out.

“I uh,” he says, and it’s almost a whisper. “I didn’t see enough. Last time. People got hurt.”

He removes his glasses, rubs at his eyes.

“Do you feel responsibility for their deaths?” she asks, genuinely curious. This has turned out to be the most productive session they’ve had to date, and she re-evaluates her choice of evening plans. Perhaps she’ll go out, afterall. She feels invigorated.

“I feel like I killed them,” he admits, his voice quiet, low. “I close my eyes at night and see their faces, I list their names.”

She considers him carefully.

“Your choice reflects more than what it appears on the surface,” she guesses. “It’s not only about the medication; if you go back on it, you won’t return to fieldwork.”

He nods, turns away again so that she can’t see his face. She doesn’t need to.

“I can’t. I can’t have their lives laid at my feet every time—every time I’m wrong.”

She notices the way his words stumble, and she notes it for later, but doesn’t pursue. They must leave some things for next week. She takes a measured breath and weighs her options carefully.

“I can’t write you a prescription, but I can make you a referral to someone who can, with my professional approval. I’ll leave it to you what to do from there.”

He swallows, seemingly taken aback, and nods again, even flashes her a flickering attempt at a smile.

“Thank you, I—I appreciate it.”

With the root of the problem finally unearthed, they have only minutes left of their session. She watches him gather his things while she fills out the appropriate form, still wondering about the words he hadn’t said, about what really makes him see blood on his hands.

“You know, usually by your age, they don’t recommend suppressants long-term,” she says, punctuating by tearing the form from the pad.

“I am aware,” he says, sourly.

“I certainly have no archaic pretensions about mates and families,” she allows, looking pointedly around the office, at its tasteful, but carefully impersonal choices, “but my attitude is somewhat... unconventional.”

She hands him the form, and smiles wryly. He takes it, silently, and folds it into the outer pocket of his bag. They are poised, in the doorway, for farewells.

“Were you never interested in finding yours?” she asks. It’s personal, and accusatory, and meant to throw him off. What she doesn’t anticipate is the flicker of pain that crosses his face, the nearly visceral recoil in his stance before he gets a handle on it and settles back into sullen, closed-off normalcy.

Curious.

“Session’s over, Bedelia,” he says, no acknowledgment of the moment that just passed between them. “You shouldn’t work off the clock.”

She smiles, sees him out. And when she locks the office door behind him, she pours herself a congratulatory glass, feeling she’s earned it.

Chapter Text

“Ah, a little—”

The sound Will makes is somewhere between a wince and a moan, as Hannibal pushes into him, and he clutches at the arms that are braced on either side of him. It’s amazing to him, in a dull, distant way, how he can be so tired, and yet it can still feel so fucking good. He presses their mouths together to communicate this, and Hannibal sighs into the kiss in drowsy agreement, rolls his hips again. Maybe this feeling will never end.

 

“Watch how she plucks at the nest; they are readying to go South.”

The air is cool on Will’s still-fevered cheeks, but it feels good after so long in the warm dark of the bedroom. The moment of cogency is welcome too, but likely won’t last long, he has learned. Their hands are linked, fingers twined loosely, and it does not yet occur to him that this should be strange.

It has to Hannibal. However, he has elected to shelve the thought until his head is fully clear again. It is not often that he has been caught up in another like this, instincts overwhelming logic, and he intends to explore the novelty to completion.

The sun is slanting gold through the branches above them, the sounds of leaves rustling and the late-afternoon hum of insects speaking of an autumn that has not yet fully arrived. They’ve meandered off the path at some point, but it’s Hannibal’s property, and Will has never felt a particular fear of the forest. With Hannibal beside him, pointing things out in the pleasant rumble of his voice, it feels impossible to be anything but content.

“She?” Will asks, quirks a brow, “How do you know?”

The bird in question is small, dark, spotted. She eyes them curiously from her perch, head cocked, and Hannibal looks at Will, a smile softening his features.

“Look at her beak,” he says, his voice pitched low so as not to startle her. The way he’s poised reminds Will of something, but he couldn’t say what.

The light changes his eyes from their usual deep brown to almost caramel, gilds his unusual features, and Will looks away, the heat in his cheeks rising. He turns to where Hannibal points instead.

“It’s... yellow?”

Hannibal nods.

“The males’ are blue at the base, in the summer months.”

“That’s it?” Will says, unimpressed.

Hannibal chuckles, and the bird rustles her feathers, gives an alarmed chirp before darting higher up into the branches. Will tries to track her through the bramble, but loses her when the sun, yellow-orange as it is becomes blinding, and Hannibal pulls gently at his hand, back in the direction of the path.

“And other, minor, physiological differences,” he says, something warm and amused in his voice. “But yes, they are hardly opposing sides of a coin.”

Watching his shoulders, his careful stride through the underbrush, Will realizes what he was reminded of before. Hannibal had been poised as if to spring, like a cat watching prey.

 

The glow of the fire warms the skin of his bare back, even as hands raise goosebumps across it. He’s straddling Hannibal so that every shift of his hips presses him deeper, spreads him further, and the sounds that leave his mouth are soft and broken the closer he struggles. His nails are leaving little crescent-shaped cuts in broad shoulders, but Hannibal looks up at him like he’s the only thing in the world, kisses him like he’s the most wonderful thing he’s ever tasted. He grows impatient with the slow, shuddering rhythm of hips Will has them in, and drives up, hard, so he can feel the swell towards the base of him.  

“I—I can’t,” Will gasps against his lips, but the pressure is insistent, and beneath him Hannibal is heavy-eyed and short of breath, so he tries anyway, slides a little closer still, and lets his weight press him down onto the knot. It hurts, but it’s a dull, good sort of ache, and with another careful inch, another gasped breath, it’s inside him. His hands shake with the effort, with the sharp spike of pleasure it drives through him. Hannibal’s mouth is slack now, against his neck, and Will runs hands through his hair, murmurs encouragement against his skin while they shudder closer together.

 

When Will wakes sometime in the third night, he knows that the heat is passed. It is not a sudden shift, more like the absence of a pain that has bothered for days. He can’t pinpoint the moment when it ended, maybe it did without his noticing. It just occurs to him, in the quiet of the bedroom, that it did. He can no longer find the sore to worry at.

Hannibal’s form is warm, curled at his back, an arm resting loosely across his waist. Will listens to his breath, a slow, shallow in and out that sounds of sleep and finds that it comforts him. The realization of what he’s done is just entering the prelude, and if there will be alarm, in the days to come, it has yet to arrive. Calls and excuses had been made. He will have to face this new facet of himself come morning, but for the moment, there’s nothing else he can do. The room is blue and grey shadows, night having brought rain that taps softly at the windows, the roof, and Will waits in this drowsy quiet to see if sleep will come back.

Of course, it doesn’t. He eases out from under an arm, winces when he sits up and every muscle wrenches with some kind of ache. Hannibal does not stir, but stills, his breath stopping for a moment, and Will knows that he’s awake. There are many things he doesn’t know about the man beside him, but he has learned the language of his lips, his eyes, his breath. He does not wait to see if Hannibal will continue to feign sleep, shuts the door to the room with a soft click.

The house feels unfamiliar to him, as if he’s seeing it for the first time. In a way, he figures, he is. This is the first time he’s looked at it without the low thrum of the heat behind his eyes, drawing his focus inward and making details a minor concern. In the silver of moonlight, the corners seem high and the halls endless. He is keenly aware of the space, seems to know where to go, to find the kitchen. He drinks from the tap, one glass then another, and leans against the island beneath hanging pots and pans, watching the squirming shadows the rain draws on the opposite wall. Hannibal had cooked for him in this kitchen, several times in the last days, and they had talked, sipped wine—something Will had never had, and did not like at first. Will knows all these things, can flip through the memories, but it all seems distant and a little unreal. He had been himself, but he had been a different, bolder version of himself, one that was not afraid to ask for what he wanted, one who pulled a face at his first sip of wine but drank the second anyway, tried to let the warm, red taste settle on his tongue so he could know what it was that made Hannibal close his eyes in appreciation.

He leaves the glass on the counter, to prove that he was there.

Back upstairs, Hannibal is unmoving, but watches him with narrow, thoughtful eyes as he shrugs out of his shirt and slides back into satin sheets. He does not reach for Will, to pull him back into the embrace they’d slept in before, but waits, tensed.

It occurs to Will that maybe Hannibal had not had much more control than he, and it’s in this thought that he at last finds the tug of guilt he’d expected to feel since waking.

“Where’s all of your furniture?” he asks, pushing aside the cold coiling in his stomach, focusing instead on the new observations he’d collected since his head had cleared. He settles close enough to feel the warmth of skin, but obeys the new boundaries they’d silently laid, does not reach—though it hums through him, though he wants.

Hannibal blinks at him in the dark, then smiles.

“I was wondering when you would notice,” he chuckles, his voice thick with sleep. “Though, given the circumstances…”

There is a charged silence, and Hannibal shifts to free an arm from under the pillow, rests it between them instead, his hand beneath his cheek.

“I am in the process of moving.”

Will does not have a name for the feeling that lurches unpleasantly in his chest.

“Out, or in?”

“In,” Hannibal says, a soft tug of lips. “Many of my things have yet to arrive from Paris, but I wanted to prepare the house before Mischa’s arrival.”

His sister. Will remembers, now. They’d spoken about all of this, sprawled across a couch under the glow of firelight in the nearly empty study. The warmth had felt good, after the chill of outside, his body still too-hot and oversensitive. Will had told him about the easy rhythm of the Gulf, and the fireflies in the grass, and Hannibal had smiled, said there were fireflies where he came from too.

The intimacy of the memory makes the tense pause they rest in now all the more apparent. Hannibal is still waiting, all patience, though for what, Will couldn’t say.

“I don’t—”

His throat seizes on the words, and a small, frustrated sound is all that comes out instead. He feels intensely foolish, and deeply afraid that by flinging himself at the man beside him, he’d crossed some line. Hell, he doesn’t know anything about how this works, beyond movies and cafeteria gossip.

And there’s more. It’s not just the potential of embarrassment that’s making him squirm, there’s some deep current of desire to stay here, in this room with Hannibal, and a fear that as soon as they talk about it the spell will somehow be broken, and they will not see each other again. If he could pinpoint where exactly in him this yearning feeling is coming from, he would cut it out of him, approach it only carefully and clinically, from a distance. It aches, in a way that’s new and old. It’s almost a nostalgia, a pull in the pit of his stomach—a homesickness.

He reaches a hand out, tentatively, unsure exactly what it is he means. Hannibal does not flinch back, but he also does not close the space. Only watches, with an open, curious expression, to see what Will might do.

His fingers trace the warm, solid line of his cheek, his jaw, his lips. Hannibal’s eyes close, as they had when he’d tasted the wine, an expression both revelatory and reverent.

“I don’t know what the protocol is,” Will finishes, his touch still lingering. The skin beneath his fingertips is rough with stubble, then soft as he presses against a bottom lip, “in this situation.”

The lips beneath his fingers curve into a smile, eyes crinkle against soft blue backdrop.

“I am no less novice than you,” Hannibal says, “— where this particular situation is concerned. I have never succumbed to a rut before.”

There's a pause, and Will attempts not to look surprised. He knows almost nothing about how this all works; he's heard the word, but has only the barest understanding of what it means, let alone that it's supposed to be something controllable. Hannibal watches him in the dark, his eyes nearly black, and when he speaks again, it's quieter.

“I believe it can be whatever we want it to.”

Will kisses him. It’s a soft pressure at first, a question, just to hear the way his breath will leave him, to feel the way his body coils in response. He knows then, as Hannibal’s hands find his waist, that this is not unwelcome, that whatever pull he’d felt had not faded with his waning fever. The relief in this makes him light headed, and he pulls them closer, parts his lips to let Hannibal’s tongue press hot into his mouth, the feeling a steadily growing roar for closeness, for contact, and he follows it. It's dizzying—the press of Hannibal's lips to his, the soft rumble of pleasure he makes when Will touches him, it makes sense in a way nothing else does. He breaks away, breathless.

“What if…”

Hannibal pulls him easily to rest atop his chest, legs tangling, and Will gasps against his mouth as he presses his hips up, grinding them together.

“—what if I don’t know,”

He follows Hannibal's lead, shifts cotton against silk, and warm skin beneath. They barely part for air, and when Hannibal’s hands grab his ass, pull him tight against him, he cries out from the pleasure of it.

“what I—ah—want this to be?”

Hannibal makes a thoughtful sound in his throat in answer, one that gets cut off when Will skims a hand between them, across stomach and down, ends in a sharp breath instead. He licks his lips and tries again, this time with a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

“There is time to decide yet.”

Will is sore and exhausted, but when a hand slides beneath fabric, fingers press into the cleft there, press into him , his eyes roll back on a moan that sounds like Hannibal’s name. He rests his forehead into the space between Hannibal’s neck and shoulder, frees himself from the last bit of fabric keeping them apart, and then it’s just skin and sweat, it’s just his hands between them, and Hannibal working a rhythm inside him that makes speech unlikely.

There is heat between them, but it no longer feels like fever.

Chapter Text

Three weeks later, and it has finally begun to feel normal.

He tells Bev a much watered-down version of events, only because she annoys it out of him, and because she’s the only person in the world besides Hannibal who knows that he’s presented. Well, he supposes bitterly, and anyone who can scent the difference.

Ten years older?” she crows. “William Fitzgerald Graham—”

“That’s not my—”

“And he’s a doctor. I mean, that’s just—”

“Surgeon. In his first year of—wait, why am I telling you this?”

He leans his head against the passenger window and shoots a sideways glare at her. Her eyes are barely flickering between the road and him, she’s positively gleeful. He closes his eyes, tries to fight the flush he knows is spreading across his cheeks.

“Are you gonna see him again?”

Will has seen Hannibal since, several times in fact. He’s spent long afternoons at the house when Hannibal’s not working—exploring the woods, helping with small chores, trying to learn to cook. So far he’s set off the smoke alarm twice, but he makes a mean pancake. Even Hannibal had to admit so, with a small twist of lip. They played the baby grand in the parlor too, until they didn’t anymore, and he ended up with rug burn on his knees.

He is silent on the subject though, opting instead for an ambivalent shrug.

Bev shakes her head, looking utterly bemused. Will wishes they would pull into his driveway already.

“So what, are you gonna get to skip school once a month, so you can—”

Will’s groan cuts her off, he rolls his head back and it thunks uselessly against the back of the seat,

“Can we—can we please not have this conversation?”

She has the good grace to look penitent. For a second at least. He doesn’t go so far as to think that she’s run out of rude questions about his biology, but the tilt of her head, the way she bites her bottom lip promises that they will at least remain in her head until tomorrow’s ride home.

“And it’s not every month,” he grumbles petulantly. That, she likes, and responds with her hearty laughter.

“Alright, so tell me more about this Dr. Lecter then.”

Will thinks.

He notices the smallest details, change on a microscale. His hands are strong and quick. He looks at me and I feel it in those soft hairs on the back of my neck.

All the first things that come to mind are stupid.

“He… cooks. He has a sister. She’s sixteen.”

Bev spares him a glance,

“Yikes. That’s awkward, don’t you think? She’s almost as old as you.”

“I hadn’t thought about it.”

He has. He’s worried about it, in fact, the more he finds out about her from Hannibal, which so far isn’t much. But he talks about her in the soft, cautious way that you talk about things you want to keep to yourself, and so Will has not pushed, and she remains a mystery. He knows that she paints, that she plays piano, and that she likes France but misses home, more than Hannibal does. He still hasn’t told Will where that is. It’s another thing that fills his voice with a quiet kind of sadness.

Will misses him.

They crunch up the driveway finally.

“Well, see you tomorrow, Romeo.” Bev sighs as he gets out. She bites her lip on a smile, “Or should I call you Juliet ?”

“Fuck off,” he says, slamming the door on her smirk. He doesn’t let her see that he’s smiling too.



Will lays on his stomach, a pillow under his hips. If he had the frame of mind to feel self conscious he would, his legs spread as they are—he’s vulnerable, too open.

As it is, he is covered in goosebumps, the electric thrill of anticipation making all of these other sensations minor. His body hums for Hannibal’s touch, and it’s given only sparingly, as the other paces around him, trails his fingers here, kisses there. He’s been instructed not to move, and his hands shake, but he tries to obey. It feels like hours since he’d undressed, laid himself out how Hannibal asked, and he’s nearing a point where he wants so badly it almost feels like the heat had.

A brush of fingers down his spine, and he cries out, arches, the touch withdraws.

“I should like to draw you, like this,” Hannibal says, a warm current of amusement in his voice. His lips are at Will’s neck, he drags his teeth lightly over thin skin.

“Don’t you fucking—” Will growls, “ dare get out a pencil right now.”

The laughter that gusts against his neck is accompanied by the skim of fingers down, between his legs, and Will’s breath fails. There’s no pressure though, just a teasing kind of touch that’s there and then not, and he groans, presses his too-hot face into the pillow.

“Well,” Hannibal says wryly. Eyes closed, Will feels his weight join him on the bed, and his heart skips again. “That’s quite the command.”

Hannibal leaves him to squirm for a minute, not touching, just watching, and just when Will is about to peek over his shoulder, a hand presses him down, between his shoulderblades.

“Trust me.” Hannibal says. It sounds like a question. Will, with his ass in the air, legs sprawled open does not see much of an option, but he nods anyway, hoping and fearing at once. It swirls through him, a strange cocktail of emotions, nerves strung tight and ready to snap.

Hannibal’s hands lift his hips, and another pillow is placed beneath him. All of this is done with gentle precision. Will wonders if Hannibal is hard, like he is, full and aching in his pants. He might make a sound of pleasure thinking about this.

Settled against the pillows, he feels hot breath against him, and he tenses a little, through his spine, prepared for teeth.

Instead, he is spread. Hands pressing gently, but firmly, and then the breath is there , and he does tense, as self-consciousness finally rears its head and roars louder than his want.

“Hannibal, what a—”

Then there is tongue. Hannibal gives him no warning, just sensation, and his mind crashes. After hours of wanting, the pressure of it against him, twisting into him is almost too much, too suddenly, and he can’t even find breath for sound.

Hannibal draws back, ghosts his lips once more across him.

“Shall I stop?”

He feels the words against wet, tender skin, and there’s something so new in it, so foreign, that he begins to feel the impatient pound of climax through his blood. He gasps, shakes his head, and it starts again. This time, Hannibal is slow, devout. When he pushes his tongue in, he moans and Will feels it vibrate through him.

“Ah, fuck—”

Downstairs, Hannibal’s phone rings. He ignores it. He is otherwise occupied.

“Hannibal, please, I need—”

Will doesn’t know what he needs. If someone asked him his own name, he might not be able to articulately answer that.

Mercifully, Hannibal is much better at reading him than he is.

A finger replaces tongue, another, and together they twist, split, spread him, and he gasps into the pillow. He hears the sound of a zipper, can feel the heat from Hannibal’s cock, though he makes no move yet. Will takes a third finger, despite the stretch he begins to really feel, and he pushes his hips back on shaking legs, so he can feel Hannibal deeper.

“Will,” Hannibal murmurs, and his voice is thick with that sound that means he’s quickly losing himself to instinct. His fingers withdraw, and he nudges Will’s hip gently, rolls him off the pillows, onto his back.

Will’s view is much improved, as he takes in the heavy-lidded look of want on Hannibal’s face. He reaches out, and Hannibal lowers himself carefully over him, so they’re chest to chest, hips pressed flush, and Will slides careful, hungry hands over Hannibal’s sides. Their cocks brush between them, and it sparks another current in him, a soft moan and a jerk of his hips.

They kiss, a languid, full kiss, and Hannibal eases one of Will’s legs up, over his shoulder. Pinioned like this, beneath lips and weight, when fingers press into him again, he hisses at the stretch, but Hannibal works him patiently until it doesn’t hurt, only aches for more.

The first, slow slide of Hannibal into him seems like it will never end, thicker towards the base, though he doesn’t knot. It takes a few heady minutes, a few tries, but eventually, they are flush, Hannibal is deep, deep, in him, and in this tight, tense moment, they stay until he murmurs a plea against Hannibal’s lips, and they move together.

Will is close almost immediately, after so long, but Hannibal seems to know exactly when to stop to draw it out, to move them slow and languid, then hard, driving him to the sharp edge of pleasure again. They are pressed so close together, Will can feel every change in Hannibal’s pulse, and he knows the moment when he too is close, his face buried against Will’s neck, his breath coming in sharp bursts as he rocks hard into him. Will lets it take him then, the edge he’d been walking for hours, and it’s not just pleasure, sharp and overwhelming, from where he feels Hannibal to his core but relief, as it finally snaps through him, and he almost cries. Hannibal touches his cheek, looks at him in that near-religious way, and fills him with his own orgasm, a few final thrusts and a soft, strangled kind of sound.

 

“What do you know about Bonds?”

The other end is near silent, though he can hear the rhythm of her breath. If Hannibal closes his eyes, he can picture her, place her here in the room with him, trailing her slender hands across the walls. He can almost catch the faint scent of cloves, if he tries.

“I know that many people do not believe they exist,” she says finally, and there’s something tight and tired in the words, “...and I know that they are not to be trifled with.”

“If one was, however, in the trifling mood,” he says, enjoying the vision of her, the way she stops suddenly, her back to him, the curve of her cheek over her shoulder. She has always watched over him—both of them—but she has always done so with a wary sort of awareness. She will never trust him, truly. “Then how would one go about forming one?”

Again, there is silence. Lady Murasaki is nothing if not patient, and she is just as cautious with words as she would be with any weapon.

“Hannibal… what have you done?”

He smiles and leans back in the chair by the phone. He is sketching idly in the margins of the notepad; a fox and her kit in the snow.

“I’m not sure, just yet. I’ve met someone. It’s perhaps not as serious as all that, but I am curious about the extent of his effect on me. It’s…”

He leaves the phone in the crook between his shoulder and chin, goes to the refrigerator.

—disarming , I think is the verbiage I would use.”

He smiles a little as he imagines Will’s reaction to being called such a word, the furrowing of brows and jutting of chin. He is keenly aware of his absence, as he always is, although it has only been days since they last saw each other. It aches distantly, for now, but more so with each creeping hour. He wonders if Will feels the same, if he lays in bed at night and wants for him.

This too, is a pleasing image. He ghosts it away though; it would be rude, after all, to not give his aunt his full attention.

She sighs, away from the phone, but not so much as to not be heard.

“Hannibal, it is not a good time for this. She’s beginning to talk about leaving sooner, she misses you. I’m not sure that I can—”

The pain in her voice is like a sharp note, keen and telling. He makes a soft sound of understanding, closes the door and goes back to the seat, the little notepad.

“I know. I will do what I can.”

“I know that you have given up much for your sister,” there’s a softness. She loves him, still, even in her quiet, distant way. “Too much burden has fallen to you too often, and too early. But I would never ask anything of you that I did not believe you were capable of.”

In his mind, he drapes her in the green. He always loved that color on her, the way it looked against her flushed skin after hot water. She does not look that way now. She is pale, and drawn, even in his mind.

“I will take care of her,” he promises. In the space of the silence that follows, the vision nods her head.

“Good. She needs you.”

Chapter Text

 

Springfield, Virginia

 

The bar is as shitty a place as any, but it has a certain shabby, weather-beaten charm that serves Will’s purposes. From the gum, cracked and browning on the floor, to the chipped and battered pool cues, to the corner jukebox that’s seen better days— charm, he thinks wryly, is a good word for it.

But he’s not here for the atmosphere tonight. The bartender, a tired woman who is almost pretty in the near-dark of the bar knows him, nods when he walks in, brings him a whiskey, neat, when she gets a chance.

“Hey there, fisherman. It’s been a while,” she says, leaning over the bar. This close, he can see her fake eyelashes, the creases that betray her age, but her smile is friendly, flirty even, and it provokes one from him in return—distracted, flickering, yes, but genuine. He still gets nervous, after all this time.

Until, of course, the moment he isn’t anymore.

“Yeah, well. My boss has been after me lately.”

It’s not a lie. Last time the heat had come on suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of a case, while he was staring into the dead eyes of Jeremy Olmstead, peppered with wounds. Shaken, scared, and consumed with the fever, he’d missed his standard routine here, in favor of a locked DC hotel room, a few toys, and a lot of alcohol.

He smiles. He doesn’t regale her with this detail.

“Well don’t think you can run off and forget about me,” she says, with a wink and a lewd motion with her tongue. It’s all a game—while he reeks of the oncoming fever, she smells only like spilled liquor and cheap perfume, nothing beneath to hint that she can help him. She knows what he’s here for, and she knows it’s not her. She gives him a fond look over the drink she pours him nonetheless, the kind that people sometimes used to before ruffling his hair, when he was younger, and returns to her other customers.

The familiar haze had begun to creep behind his eyes earlier today, and after enough significant looks turned his way in the classroom, more than the usual curiosity, he’d had to admit to himself it was time. Had popped a temporary and two aspirins to quell the inner aching, and had headed here.

The suppressant is starting to wear off now, the pulsing in his veins, the heat and hyperawareness clawing back with each moment. The hand in which he grips his drink is covered in a thin sheen of sweat, and he swallows heartily as the heat moves into the next stage, lets the burn of alcohol settle through his belly. He scents the room then, finds them mingled amongst the crowd, always a few. It’s something that he has never ceased to marvel at, the olfactory world that had opened up to him after he presented, and he marvels at it now. He tries to guess who, from the way they stand, move, the way they hold their drink. He’s gotten good at this.

There’s a lackluster pool game going on, between a group of men about his age, perhaps a little older. They’re all rough, the kind that probably own the bikes parked out front. They all jostle each other, shouting, a show of male camaraderie, and the underlying musk of alpha fills the spaces between their loud insults. Will wrinkles his nose. Maybe.

He can still go a couple hours before the situation is really dire. He’ll sit here, nurse his drink, and watch until someone catches his eye. As the minutes tick by, and his blood screams louder for him to fuck, he will become less picky.

Though the one with the beard and the bandanna looks like he could bend and crush Will into all manner of shapes. Maybe he should—

The sound of ambient rock gives way to a familiar, rapid beat, and Will’s heart stops. His head whips to the jukebox, and for a moment, the illusion is overwhelming. Broad shoulders, the strong, ropy forearms, the familiar tilt of the head. His mouth goes dry, and his chest wrenches as an awful longing tears a hole in him, despite his attempts to quell it, and all he wants in the world is for him to turn around, smile in his barely-there way...

There is a wooded road in Belgium that’s been totally forgotten. He’d read about it, late one sleepless night, with a sick, clammy curiosity under the glow of his computer. He’d searched, found picture after picture of the cars, rotting hulks, parked and abandoned, ferns growing through the air vents, loam gathering on the seats. He’d been horrified at the idea that they’d once been full of people, going where nobody knew, but going somewhere, and that now they were not. Parked and left there, in green stasis, until the road cracked and became overgrown, until they rotted and rusted beyond recognition, beyond the possibility of salvage.

In the first days, after Hannibal, he’d thought about those pictures a lot. Had nightmares, and for the sting of a moment now, it comes back to him, unbidden. He’s reminded of the string wrapped, noose-like around his heart, and past the familiar, but not familiar figure, he stares once again down the green and endless road.

The man turns back to his friends, beer in hand, and it’s not him , of course it’s not, Hannibal wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this, and Will lets out a shaky breath.

There is something about him that bears a striking similarity, though the man really looks nothing like him. His mouth is all wrong, his eyes a murky blue green instead of the color of the whiskey in Will’s glass, and yet. It’s in his poise, the way he holds himself, the way he moves, and his hands too, bear enough of a similarity that he just might work.

“Pleased to meet you,” the man crows along to the song, approaching his friends with his beer held high, “Hope you guess my name!”

Will’s pulse beats louder in his ears than the music, and the chilled, shivery wanting comes next, steals his breath. He closes his eyes, wills away unwanted memories that rise along with it, memories of teeth and pounding hips, his name murmured lazily against the shell of his ear, through perfect lips. The room shimmers strangely around him, here and not.

He counts to ten.

When he opens his eyes, Hannibal is gone. It’s only this dingy room, people drinking, scattered conversations. Cars rotting in a line.

He catches the eye of the man across the bar. And, ignoring the shattering feeling in his chest, he smiles.

 

Will’s rules are simple. No kissing, no marks. That’s all he asks.

He shudders underneath the man, mashed carelessly into the covers, moaning as he’s split open. The man is somewhat less than tender with him, but that’s fine by him. It feels better this way, to treat it like the dull, animal drive that it is, to take all the emotion out of the equation and give in to the spike of desire that, at least temporarily, blurs the edges of everything else.

His face pressed against the motel coverlet, a cock slamming thickly into him, it’s easy to forget.

The man grunts something, angles just right, and for a second, everything is whited out as Will’s toes curl, his mouth falls open on pure bliss. God, yes. This is why he does this.

But then.

Then there are teeth pressing against the back of his neck, not enough to break the skin, yet, but the promise of it is there, the hands that grip him too tightly in place stopping him from jerking away as he instinctively wants to do.

“H— hey !” he manages, tries to twist away. A hand fists itself into his hair, slams him down, and now he’s even more trapped than before, stunned, pinned beneath the sweating, grunting weight, forced into place while the alpha takes his pleasure. The teeth return, latching to the juncture between neck and shoulder, and a fluttery, panicky feeling fights through, even as his skin cries out for more.

Hey . I said no—”

Inside him, the man begins to knot, and he struggles to maintain composure through the sudden wave of pain and pleasure the added pressure brings. He feels it hard against his prostate, and a broken, desperate cry breaks from his throat when it lodges, slams against him from the inside.

“N—no marks,” he gasps, writhes against the teeth that refuse to unlatch. When the man groans again, he feels breath hot and wet against his skin, feels it inside him where the alpha’s cock gives a sudden throb. His struggling only seems to add incentive; the man grabs handfuls of his ass, spreads him further, the next rough thrust pushes him up against the headboard. Will sobs and tries not to come with this stranger’s mouth on him.

He wonders if Hannibal feels it, when he lets someone else do this to him. He wonders if it’s a tug, a stab, an ache.

That’s all it takes, he’s gone. Miraculously, the teeth remove themselves as orgasm ripples through him, and little shocks follow as the alpha fills him, another series of grunts.

He doesn’t even know this man’s name.

It doesn’t matter.

He hates the next part, if only because there’s some shadow of intimacy in having to lie next to another human being. He checks himself out while they wait, not touching but for where they’re joined. The man smooths a finger over his neck, where he can feel the slight indents his teeth left.

“I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s fine,” Will says, fighting the overwhelming urge to flinch away from the touch that’s soft instead of rough. He wishes they could go back to fucking already. The sooner they do, the sooner the heat will pass, and he can go back to work.

“Just don't do it again.”

Back home. Back to sitting in a line of rotting cars, going nowhere.

Chapter Text

“Wait, I like this song!”

Will jabs at the stereo, where Hannibal had just dismissed the Rolling Stones. The music blasts back on, he winces and turns it down, looks at Hannibal sheepishly.

“Of course you do,” Hannibal says, unable to hide the amused twitch from his lips. “It has loud, graceless instrumentation and you are seventeen. It’s an inevitable match.”

Will doesn’t bother to glare, he knows that Hannibal expects it. Instead, he listens to the music, lets the cold wind ruffle his hair through the window. It’s unseasonably nice for late November, they’re coming home from a day out in Baltimore, and Will is starting to suspect that until now, he’s never been really happy. He closes his eyes, leans back in the leather seat, and sighs.

So if you meet me, have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste

“If you’re under the impression that one day, I’ll magically unlearn liking the Stones just because I’ve gotten old,” Here, Will opens one eye to peer meaningfully at him, a smile playing at his mouth, “I hate to disappoint you.”

Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name

Hannibal has the good grace to look affronted at his suggestion.

“Cheeky.” he chides, his voice low and gravelly. Cold fingers of anticipation brush up Will’s spine, and he resettles in his seat, clears his throat.

“But maybe… you could teach me to appreciate your music too.” he offers in placation. When Hannibal turns to look at him, his eyes have that heavy, lazy wanting look, they drag all up and down his body like touch. Will swallows, feels it in his core.

“But uh, no promises. And no harpsichord,” he adds, and Hannibal’s smolder fades swiftly into a look of fond exasperation.

 

Back home—back at Hannibal’s house , Will corrects himself quickly—Hannibal goes straight upstairs to shower. Will considers following, is tugged strongly in that direction, and the thought of wet, flushed, skin, and the noises that Hannibal makes right at the end. But instead, he goes to the kitchen to make coffee. Hannibal has a twelve hour shift starting soon, and thanks to Will he didn’t sleep the night before.

Guilt coffee , he muses, pouring the grounds. He’s not one hundred percent sure he’s doing it right, because of course Hannibal can’t even do coffee simple, but it seems to be working. It’s doing something anyway. Will shrugs, and goes upstairs.

The house looks much more like a home, since the first time he stepped foot in it. Furniture seems to arrive every weekend, and art, curtains. It’s still huge, and echoey at times, but it’s no longer empty, and everything about it screams Hannibal—a blend of the dramatically modern and the ostentatiously antique.

Will tops the stairs, past the display case holding what appears to be a complete samurai suit, peers curiously into the room across the landing. It’s softer than the rest of the house, painted in blues and lavenders, a window seat and white furniture. The mythical Mischa Lecter will soon reside there, where Will helped spackle the walls, put together the bed. He’s not sure if he feels jealous at the thought. He shouldn’t, of course, but something strange tickles at the back of his neck nonetheless. Fear? Anticipation, maybe. He shakes it off.

In Hannibal’s room, it’s much more comfortable. It’s still obviously Hannibal’s, the dark colors, pretentious art, and sheets with a thread count higher than the contents of Will’s bank account. But there are also traces of Will here. The books scattered on the nightstand, sci-fi paperbacks that Hannibal balks at, the third drawer down, (coincidentally the only one hanging open, a sock trying for escape) full of his clothes. He’d picked out the painting hung in the adjoining bathroom too, of a little ship bobbing out on calm, oil-painted waters. It reminds him of days spent with his dad up North, on Lake Erie. Hundreds of miles away from the roiling Atlantic, everything had moved slower there. He’d spent a whole summer working with his dad, fishing, and unsuccessfully courting a girl whose parents owned the cabins they were staying in. Until now, he would have said that it was the happiest time he could remember.

Steam is coiling out through the open shower door, and Will hums his appreciation at the sight of Hannibal rinsing off beneath the stream. He’s bigger than Will, particularly through the shoulders, but he’s still slim, and stripped of his many layers of clothing, he looks much younger. Will’s eyes travel up, along the curve of his spine, to his lips, wet, and his closed eyes.

“I made coffee,” he says lamely, tugs his shirt off over his head. “I think.”

At this, Hannibal swipes a hand over his face, turns a raised-eyebrows smile towards him.

“You think?”

“Mhm.” Will is now shuffling out of his pants, his boxers. “Your coffeemaker looks like it came out of a spaceship, so I’m not sure, but there is coffee perhaps being brewed downstairs.”

Hannibal laughs, flashing his imperfect teeth. Will thinks idly that he might love him, and this thought does not startle him, merely tugs at that warm place in his chest, that now-familiar connection that seems to be growing brighter with each day.

He steps into the shower carefully, and Hannibal makes room, hands him a bottle of expensive looking body wash.

“Well, thank you for the hypothetical coffee,” Hannibal nods, his voice laced with teasing. Will sets down the soap, choosing instead to slide his hands along the plane of Hannibal’s chest. His skin is the same temperature as the water—scalding hot—and they regard each other a moment in the pale blue and grey world of steam. Hannibal’s look is full of open fondness, then grows serious. He runs a hand gently down Will’s cheek.

“I need to speak with you about something.”

Will’s stomach twists unpleasantly. In all of his experience, those words have never begun a conversation that he came away from happier than he went into it. It must show on his face, because Hannibal’s smile returns, slight and soft, and he brings his other hand up so that he’s cupping Will’s jaw.

“Nothing to be concerned about,” he reassures, using the same low, calm tone he had when they’d first met, when Will had been falling apart in a hallway. “Only a minor change of plans.”

Will nods against the strong hands, blinks water from his eyes. He leans forward, and Hannibal indulges him, presses their lips together. It’s warm, and wet, and Will tries diligently to draw it out as long as possible.

 

The coffee is not that bad, though it’s a little strong. He sips it while Hannibal finishes dressing for work, flips through one of the books from the nightstand that he’s not really reading. His nerves are alight, preparing him for the worst despite Hannibal’s reassurances, so much so that he can’t even appreciate the spectacle that is Hannibal Lecter getting dressed.

When, at last, Hannibal comes to sit by him on the bed, he’s worked himself up into thinking that this is a break up. You’re young still , he imagines Hannibal saying, you will thank me, one day . He carefully constructs his counter arguments in his head; what difference would a few months make, anyway? Followed by a calm, sure, I know what I want.

“I feel that I need to prepare you,” Hannibal starts. Will’s stomach drops, here it comes . “Mischa is… unusual.”

Will takes a long sip of coffee, feigning an utter lack of surprise. He thinks he’s doing pretty well, considering that his hands don’t betray the rapid pace of his heart.

“Unusual?” he asks, “Like— like what, she collects postage stamps?”

Hannibal smiles down, where his fingers trace the lines of Will’s.

“Not as such. What I mean to say is, she can be very temperamental.”

Will frowns, sets the coffee aside, and settles closer to Hannibal.

“I don’t understand.”

Hannibal sighs almost imperceptibly, licks his lips. He looks as though whatever he’s about to do will pain him, and panicky thoughts flutter back to Will’s mind.

“When our parents died, she was still very young. It was a difficult time for me, but for her it was even more so. Traumatic.”

He does not look up when he says this, and it occurs to Will that maybe he hasn’t spoken these words aloud in a long time.

“She can sometimes be difficult, is what I mean. I want you to be ready for that. As much as you can be.”

Will nods, feeling an ease in his chest despite himself. It’s not about him, then.

“Of course.”

“There is one further thing,” Hannibal says, the spell breaking as he looks at Will again. “She is coming this week, instead of next, and I think that perhaps I should stay with her alone a few days. Get her acclimated, before breaking the news to her.”

“The news?” Will asks, his mouth quirking. He doesn’t like the idea of space, however temporary, but it’s not the worst case scenario. He wonders, vaguely unsettled, if Hannibal had structured the conversation this way on purpose; disarmed him, so that his proposition would seem less harsh in comparison.

“I can only imagine how I would feel if I found out that she had Bonded with someone. We’ve always been very close, so I am anticipating it being a bit of a—”

“Bonded…” Will interrupts. His heart speeds again at the sound of the word, and he feels his limbs tingle, as though filled with static. “What are you— what do you mean?”

He only has a vague notion of the concept, like many of the phenomena he’s discovering each new day as an omega. It’s whispered about between classes, gossiped about celebrities, but much like the elusive swimming pool supposed to be on the school roof, he had always thought it was just that—gossip. Soulmate . Even the word feels like it belongs to a renaissance text, not everyday life, where he burns coffee and sleeps next to Hannibal two nights a week. Hell, he was just toying with the concept of loving someone, how could he have—

Hannibal’s face softens, and he opens his mouth to speak, closes it again.

He takes Will’s hand instead, covering it with his own. Will watches this somewhat distantly, as he brings their joined hands to rest on his chest. Will feels the steady in and out of Hannibal’s breath, the dull, slow pound of his heart. He swallows, feels that tug again, somewhere in his own chest, as though in response.

“Do you feel that?” Hannibal asks, so quietly Will almost doesn’t catch it. Will nods. What he feels is a strange and shaky longing. His heart and Hannibal’s beat as one, his pulse skipping to match pace. Hannibal’s hand is bigger than his, spreads with their fingers intertwined. Then, he switches them, gently, so that Will’s hand guides his back to its owner’s chest.

Hannibal’s skin settles warm and heavy against his shirt, and his heart stutters again, beneath their joined fingers. Hannibal chuckles warmly, and Will allows a lopsided grin, a breathless laugh in return.

“I was not sure at first… and I don’t know precisely how it happened,” Hannibal says, pressing his forehead to Will’s. They both look down at the place where Hannibal’s hand sprawls wide, covering half his chest. Will feels a little dizzy. “But I feel you with me, when you’re not. I—”

He huffs, a self-deprecating sound.

“I thought you knew.”

If this is an act, then Hannibal deserves a fucking Oscar. Will’s throat feels strange, and he barely manages to nod,

“I guess… I knew it felt different. Than before. But this is—” he manages a strangled laugh, “Hannibal, this is crazy.”

Hannibal applies enough pressure to his chest to lay him back, press him into the coverlet with a soft sound of surprise, and settles above him. Their legs tangled, pressed chest to groin, he smooths his hand over Will’s cheek again. That look is back, and with Hannibal’s words still lingering in the space between them, Will fights the urge to look away from the intensity of it.

“Would you like to give this a chance, Will?” A kiss, pressed against his lips, and Will sighs into it. Another. “To see what we might become?”

Will feels the hum of connection between them grow and twist. It’s not a path they walk down, but an ocean beneath them, an old and powerful current, the waves whispering jump .

It scares him. And he wants it.

He nods, meeting Hannibal’s gaze.

“Yes,” he murmurs, soft but sure. They kiss again, and it’s vertigo, it’s beautiful, and he lets himself fall.

Chapter Text

He drives back on Sunday night, wearing a thicker scarf than the weather really calls for. The remnants of heat are trickling through his veins and giving way to the familiar, creeping sense of shame. It’s not unlike a hangover, he thinks, his head throbbing, drained after days of sensory overload, leaving him feeling ragged and empty. It wasn’t always like this- he stops that thought in its tracks, because remembering it as anything else is a raw source of pain that he doesn’t feel like he has the skin for just now. When he arrives, his house a dark, solemn oasis against the backdrop of a grey sky and bare trees, he sighs with relief, ready to sleep it off. Memories of the weekend flicker unbidden through his mind, the man with rough hands who with passing time had reminded him less and less of— well. Who’d become less appealing as the fever faded.

 

“You can call, if you want,” the man had said, as Will pulled on Thursday’s jeans. “We’re not getting any younger, you know.”

Will looked at him sharply, then at the crumpled receipt he offered, numbers scrawled across the back. He’d felt a stab of pity for this man, the worry lines in his forehead, the resignation in eyes that couldn’t quite seem to meet Will’s. It turned, too quickly, to disgust as he remembered the tooth-shaped bruises on his neck.

“Thanks,” he’d managed, took the paper and shoved it into his pocket. The man’s shoulders had slumped, both of them knowing he’d throw it away the first chance he got.

 

Wet noses bump his palm in greeting as he steps inside, turns the deadbolt. He’s glad to see his pack, buries his face into a furry neck and breathes in the warm, animal smell of them.

“Hey there,” he says, his voice soft, “Did Alana take good care of you?”

Excited yelps are all he gets in response, and he smiles, busies himself with defrosting. Their food; then, when they’re happily distracted, his. He’s had two drinks and pulled the blankets from his bed onto the couch before he can bring himself to check his messages, the little blue light on his phone a queasy reminder of real life.

Morgue. 8 am.

says the first, with all Jack’s usual charm. Will snorts, alarming the dogs, and takes a big, burning swallow before reading the next. The drink turns sour in his stomach when he does, and he fights the urge to turn off the phone, bury himself in blankets and liquor until Jack stops calling.

It’s the Ripper.

Chapter Text

Days pass, then a week, then two. The trees go bare and skeletal, a fine sheen of frost coats the grass each morning, and school becomes restless as they inch closer to winter break. Will is tempted to call many times, he does once and gets no answer. Even this—the curt, pleasant roll of Hannibal’s voice over the machine—makes his chest ache. He feels acutely pathetic, and spends his time working on some of the fishing flies he and his dad had started, idly flipping channels, doing homework that he’d normally let slide until the early hours before class. He has conversations in his mind, conjuring a poor copy of Hannibal who shimmers in the air if looked at too closely, all plaid and silk, mirage-like curls of lip.

I saw a Bentley the other day, I thought it might have been yours. It wasn’t.

What’s so great about truffles? Figured you would know.

I miss you.

And he tries, with increasing desperation, to make Hannibal speak back, to recreate the warm pitch and flow of syllables, but the illusion remains silent, merely cocks his head curiously, watches. He wonders if this is what addiction is like; this sick, shivery longing. Finally, when he is getting close to walking the miles to Hannibal’s house and presenting himself uninvited—delicate Mischa Lecter or no—he gets a call.

He’s sprawled across the faded blue couch in the living room, watching TV. The newscasters flirt with each other awkwardly, some tourists are still missing in Paris, a major storm is poised to hit the East Coast. They’ve just switched to coverage of an unfortunate, poncho-clad anchor, shouting under sheets of rain, when the phone rings.

He listens to the low sound of his dad’s voice from the kitchen, tensed, and when he hears his name called he tries not to run.

“For you,” Dad hands the line to him, an amused look softening weather-worn features. He doesn’t stay to listen, but gives Will his space, ambles his way back to the garage.

“Hello?”

He sounds out of breath, and he screws his eyes shut, bangs his head back against the doorway lightly, flushed with embarrassment he’s glad Hannibal can’t see.

“Will,” the familiar voice answers. It loosens some of the tightness from his chest, just the single syllable. He leans back, relaxed a little, closes his eyes. “I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch, there has been a great deal to arrange in the last weeks.”

“It’s fine,” he says, trying to sound gruff and casual. As though he hasn’t spent every minute of the last few weeks waiting for this conversation.

Hannibal chuckles, knowing.

“It’s most certainly not. I was wondering if you were free tomorrow evening? I would like to have you for dinner.”

Will peeks around the doorway, brows raised, making sure his dad isn’t within earshot.

“Yeah, uh. I could do tomorrow.” Not soon enough, his mind offers, and he swallows. “I’m…” softer now, and if he cradles the phone any closer to his mouth he’ll be in danger of swallowing it. “I’m really glad you called.”

There’s a pause, a brief shuffling sound. As though Hannibal, too, is keeping this conversation close, and it’s a little thrilling in its secrecy.

“I’ve missed you terribly, Will. I want you to know that.”

His voice has a raw quality to it that was missing moments ago. It spreads warmth in Will’s cheeks, tingles in the nape of his neck.

“Me too.”

“Tomorrow then?”

Will feels a smile creep across his face, despite himself,

“Tomorrow.”

 


 

Hannibal picks him up after his dad leaves for the night shift, and Will leans across the center console to steal a hard, desperate kiss. Hannibal’s hand rests warm against his thigh as they drive, and it makes his heart stammer. He’s surprised by how much it feels at once like home and yet totally foreign when he steps through the front door, into an entryway that smells inexplicably of cloves.

Hannibal’s hand rests at the small of his back, leading him towards the dining room, where the long table has been draped in white and laid with china and silver.

Will’s brows shoot up, suddenly feeling underdressed.

“Wow.”

Hannibal looks pleased by his reaction, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“I’ll be just a moment, please make yourself comfortable.”

And with that, he gusts away, back towards the kitchen, leaving Will feeling suddenly awkward, an intruder in this place he’d so recently begun to think of as home. He sits cautiously at one of the three place settings, eyeing the sprawl of greenery that makes up the centerpiece. He snorts, amused at the utter kitsch of it when he spies what he hopes is not a real butterfly tucked in among the herbs.

“He does get carried away with himself, doesn’t he?”

Will turns, startled. He hadn’t registered the soft click of her shoes, too busy surveying the scenery, and now she is there, in the doorway. From her simple, dark skirt, to the elegant swirl of her fair hair, she looks far more comfortable than he feels in this ostentatious setting, either too used to Hannibal’s performance, or perhaps part of the decoration herself. When she moves to the seat at the far end of the table, it seems as though she completes the setting, and Will’s lips twitch, realizing that Hannibal had probably planned it that way.

“Mischa Lecter, I presume.”

“Will Graham, I presume,” she echoes, her eyes narrowing on a smile that doesn’t quite reach the rest of her face. It reminds him eerily of Hannibal, the similarity suddenly stark. “My brother speaks constantly of you.”

Will tries in vain to fight the flush he feels creeping across his neck.

“I’m afraid you’ve charmed him rather completely,” she adds. Her accent is not quite the same as Hannibal’s, it’s milder, her words bleeding into one another like music, her consonants soft. It makes it difficult to sense her tone, though Will feels her walls acutely, the guardedness; she’s testing him.

Before Will can summon up a response, losing the battle with his blush, Hannibal comes back in, an oversized platter and a bottle of wine in his arms.

“Ah, so you’ve met,” he says, unveiling dishes one by one, announcing each like a debutante, the steam coiling between them and obscuring Mischa.

“C’est donc ca ta petite chienne?”

She interrupts Hannibal’s monologue about loin and blackberry wine sauce, and he stills, disapproval clouding his face. Will feels it himself, the small pull of contained anger in Hannibal’s voice, soft but dangerous.

Mischa.”

Will is surprised himself, the dissonance of the vulgar words from her carefully pursed lips. But then, he smirks, realizing she hadn’t known he would understand.

“Oui, mais attention, je mords,” he responds in the stretch of silence between them, snapping his teeth a little over a grin. They both turn to him, with ridiculously similar expressions of surprise, and then miraculously, she laughs. It fills the air, a warm, open sound, and Will can almost feel the tension drain from the air.

“Oh, Hannibal. I like him.”

Hannibal’s shoulders drop, and he turns a fond look in Will’s direction.

“As I said, he’s full of surprises.”

After dinner they all clean up, and then Mischa excuses herself to other rooms, kissing both of them on each cheek before she leaves. Minutes later, the dishes are drying on the counter, and the sound of piano drifts lazily from somewhere deep in the house.

“You did quite well tonight, Will,” Hannibal says, drying his hands on a towel before folding it once, twice, into a straight, neat square. “Mischa is notoriously difficult to impress.”

“Hm. I wonder where she gets that from,” Will says mildly, picking up his glass, taking a slow, warm sip. The dark look turned his way is playful underneath, the glimmer of coals rather than a true danger. They take their conversation outside, where chairs in the garden look out over the woods below, and Will feels the giddiness of good food, wine, and being the object of those hungry eyes again. It makes him feel oddly powerful, knowing he commands this man’s attention, which in turn makes him braver than he otherwise might. He steals a kiss that lingers beyond just affection, full of promise and challenge at once.

Or, that might be the wine. Both, he muses.

“So does this mean we can stop sneaking around?” He asks, smiling, setting his glass aside carefully on the smooth, glass table. “Now that Mischa’s determined my… intentions for you are honest.”

Hannibal cocks his head, narrows his eyes at Will.

“Are they, truly? I seem to remember you leading me into all kinds of debauchery.”

Will feels goosebumps prickle across his skin, a pleasant shiver in his spine, a sensation that has nothing to do with the cool evening air and everything to do with the lazy, daring gaze turned on him. Hannibal’s eyes are heavy-lidded, his mouth curled subtly and pleasantly. The light from the house outlines his hair, a sharp curve of cheek, and Will thinks to himself,

God help me, I love this man.

“Maybe it’s been too long,” Will says lightly, not betraying the churning of want growing in him, “I can’t seem to remember who did the corrupting.”

A glance, quick, another sip of wine.

“Maybe we should try again. For curiosity’s sake.”

 


 

Clothes scattered, mouths hungry, they come together, skin on skin at last and Will feels again the crash of waves in the way they grasp for each other, desperate. Back in his bedroom, where they first found each other like this, he traces his fingertips down hard arms, soft lips, before pressing them together, the dim glow of a streetlight through the blinds creating a strange, shadowy world in which only the two of them exist. They are a boat in a great and angry sea, Hannibal’s ragged voice coaxing him on a beacon in the dark. He lets his head fall back as Hannibal knees his legs wider, cries out with the first tight push, teeth grazing his throat lightly. They cling together, an ebb and flow to their movements as Will’s body remembers instinctively, as he comes undone.

Chapter Text

Quantico, Virginia

 

Will stares down at the body, face carefully neutral. The clean, chemical smell of the morgue and the too-bright lights remind him unpleasantly of how many times he’s stood in this same place, unraveled clues in blood and bone. A deep, shaky breath, and in his mind he retreats briefly to the river, watches sun glitter off the surface, leaves drift lazily under a grey-blue sky.

“It’s him, isn’t it?”

Jack voice snaps, and he blinks himself back into reality.

“It… does conform to the Ripper’s pattern,” he admits, cautiously. On the table in front of him, the man’s eyes gaze up blankly, the ugly slash of red beneath his chin gaping like a mouth. “Flesh removed, body staged. But Jack, it’s been years since—”

“This could be the start of a new cycle.”

Will sighs, picks up the photos again. The dark wood of pews, the hazy gold light through windows of warped glass, and there, the man silhouetted against it. Here, he’s not lying on a sterile table, stripped and clean, but on his knees in front of the altar, hands folded and head bowed over the grisly wound. This time, when Will closes his eyes, it’s not the river he sees, but a hand, white-knuckled and grasping at fine fabric, a throat opening, the red spilling of life. He shakes away the image, chilled by the familiar curve of the blade; as the pendulum swung, he’d imagined a linoleum knife.

“Where was it?”

“Bower’s Beach, Delaware.”

Jack watches him in that unsettling way he has, like Will is a trapped animal he’s afraid to spook but means to catch.

“I’ll go tomorrow.”

The scenery that whirs past his windows is painted in lonely strokes of grey and tan; stormy sky, steely water, lazy, waving beach grass. It takes him longer than he thought to get there, and when he does he stalls even longer, has a strong coffee and fries at the wharf, watches the dinghies drift back and forth with the tide. When rain begins to spatter the calm surface of the bay, he turns his collar up and resigns himself at last, walks the few blocks to the little church.

It’s not like in the photos, of course. It’s been taped off, one sad yellow strand loose and trailing across the mud, the shutters have been closed. Inside, too, it’s empty, stripped of the pews and altar, and he wonders briefly if the parish has moved on, or if there never were supposed to be any in the first place. That would be like the Ripper, he thinks, laughs gruffly as he steps across the threshold, dripping little specks of water across the wood floors. Staging an entire sacrament in an empty church? They should start monitoring event rentals.

They’ve done a good job cleaning up, and Will’s not sure if he can get the pendulum to swing afterall. A dark stain on the floor, under pale blobs of colored light from the windows, is all that remains of what had happened here. He sits cross-legged in front of it, slings his bag off his shoulder and spreads the photos out, a grotesque altar of his own. His breath halts then, and he’s not sure if he wants to know, not sure if he can .

A squeak of floorboards, and he turns around sharply, expecting to see—

No-one. Of course there’s nothing, just the shifting shadows and the sound of rain on the roof. His breath leaves him shakily, embarrassed. He doesn’t know what he expected, it’s an old building afterall, but he still can’t help but thinking this isn’t exactly the smartest way for him to spend his time; haunting crime scenes. He doesn’t know how Jack always seems to know how to get him to do this, why he lets Jack get him to do this...

“You have a gift,” Hannibal says, tracing fingertips along his jaw. Will leans into the touch, needing, knowing more than listening to what Hannibal says.

“It’s a beautiful thing, to know what others have felt…” Hannibal continues, his voice a smooth, low rumble. “...but a dangerous one. You must protect it from those who would seek to use it for themselves.”

The memory is so sharp, so clear, that Will forgets the church for a moment, forgets the years that have passed. Hannibal had always known, could feel it through their bond. He had been covetous of it, in the end, like anyone else, had asked too much of Will.

When it fades away he shivers, the aching hollowness leaving him cold. It feels like a lifetime since he allowed himself to remember, and he scrubs absently at the back of his neck, across the faint remnants of scar. He scrunches his eyes closed so hard he sees colors, breathes slowly, and waits.

In the end, he can’t make it work.There’s nothing left here for him, the man is gone and so is whoever killed him, leaving Will alone, feeling foolish, on the floor of an eerie but utterly empty building. Frustrated, he gathers the photos, decides to try again when there’s not so many of his own thoughts crowding his mind. He can’t see anything right now.

You never wanted to see .

He’s not sure if it’s his own voice or Hannibal’s, or maybe someone else’s entirely that whispers to him now, but he shakes his head, opens the door, and steps back out into the storm.

Chapter Text

They spend the holiday apart, secret as they still are, but Will goes back to school with Hannibal’s scent on his skin, wearing a slightly too-big sweater stolen out of the ostentatious walk-in closet. Bev quirks an eyebrow at him, but says nothing, talks relentlessly at lunch about her dysfunctional family, the endless wait for college admittance letters, the party she’s going to tonight.

“It’s gonna be wild, seriously. Brian is lame, but his parents have really good booze. You sure you won’t come?”

Will shakes his head. Usually he would make up an excuse to get him out of having to socialize, but he actually has a reason for once.

“Nope. I’m uh, I’m actually going out with Hannibal tonight.”

“Surprise, surprise,” Bev rolls her eyes at him.

Mischa doesn’t sit with them, though she smiles at Will when he catches her eye. She’s already been surrounded by a group of people much more beautiful than Will, the kids who are in a million clubs and committees, and who are endlessly enchanted by her accent, her obviously expensive clothing. He doesn’t begrudge her, he waves a little awkwardly back.

“Who’s that ?” Bev asks, her face going sly.

“That,” he says, picking at his rather disappointing sandwich, “is Mischa Lecter.”

That’s your sugar daddy’s sister?”

“That’s Hannibal’s sister.”

Her smile quirks wickedly, eyes still locked on the back of Mischa’s blonde head

“She’s fucking hot. That must be awkward for you.”

He doesn’t deign to acknowledge her comment, simply blushes through his exasperated fondness for her.

“Will you introduce me?”

Will scoops up his tray with a groan and makes for the door,

“Absolutely not.”

The rest of the day passes in absolute and utter, boring, normalcy. Will drifts through classes, feeling the creep of the minutes dragging by, thinking longingly of the moment when Hannibal’s car will pull up his driveway that afternoon. He’s said he’s planned a surprise, which Will is unsure if he likes; he hopes, but doubts that it’s the kind of surprise that ends with them in bed. He really, really hopes that the surprise is not Hannibal making good on his promise to force him to the opera.

He does notice, oddly, that Mischa is missing from History, which they’re supposed to have together. He figures she’s just been moved to the AP class; it was probably a mistake in the first place.

When the day finally draws to an end, Hannibal doesn’t show up. Will watches his dad leave for work, changes his shirt--twice--before deciding on the soft blue one that Hannibal seems to like, and then…

He waits.

The clock in the living room ticks slowly by, every second past the time Hannibal was supposed to pick him up like a little jab. It’s not right, it’s unlike him, and uneasiness curls in his belly. He finally gives in and calls the house, but he gets only the answering machine, the cool clinical voice Hannibal reserves for strangers.

Maybe he got called in , Will thinks, he probably just got caught up at work .

He glances at their machine, the little indicator light unblinking, and knows that Hannibal would have called.

After an hour, he becomes angry. At Hannibal, but also at himself. Enough time has passed, it’s clear he’s not coming, they won’t see each other today, and still there’s been not so much as a smoke signal from Hannibal. He feels stupid for feeling so let down. He closes himself in his room, spreads homework across his desk, and makes what is little more than a half-hearted attempt at an essay.

After three hours, anger gives way to worry again. He calls, and this time leaves a message, tries to make a joke out of it, but can’t seem to keep the edge out of his voice, Hello Doctor Lecter, just wanted to know if you’re alive. Call me back. He glares pointlessly at the clock, which seems to be mocking him with its incessant tick tick tick .

He goes for a walk, if only to give him something to focus on other than his wasted evening. The sun has just gone down, casting the world in a strange and dusky haze, the frost crackles under his feet as he passes beneath yellow street lights. The jacket he’s wearing isn’t quite thick enough to keep him from the cold, and he shivers, thinks about going back, but the gears are turning just a bit too quickly in his head, and he knows he won’t sleep for hours, will just end up sitting alone at home. A terrible restlessness creeps over him.

Music, in the distance, and he sees the soft glow of the house at the end of the road, like a boat on the sea. Brian’s house , he knows distantly, one of Bev’s friends, and he’s torn for a moment between impulses. Fight or flight , he thinks, what’ll it be, Graham?

Inside, it’s a riot of voices, the sound of laughter echoing over the boom of the stereo set up in the living room. He scans the room for Bev, finds her dark ponytail next to a table scattered with plastic cups.

“Will!” she shouts, when she sees him; too-loud, sloshing a bit of beer with each gesture, “I thought you had a date--wait, is he here ?”

She puts her hands on his shoulders and peeks around him dramatically; he laughs, shrugging her off.

“No, there was a… change of plans. I thought I’d come keep an eye on you instead.”

She scrunches her nose at him, “Lame. I want to meet this mysterious Dr. Lecter. He’s been keeping you all to himself lately, I have a few choice words for him , let me tell...”

She trails off, seeming to lose grasp of her thought. “You need a drink!”

He shrugs, less agreement than a lack of disapproval, and she shoves several people out of the way to get to a torn open case under the table. It’s warm, and bad, something Hannibal would never dare to touch, and Will smiles a little at the thought, forces it down. Too quickly, there’s another, and another, and Bev has pulled him onto a couch where a group of people he sort of knows are talking shit about people he doesn’t know, but he forgets for a while that he’d been worried, or mad, or anything really, just lets himself drift amicably in and out of the conversation, his head going light and fuzzy at the edges.

At some point, he feels a strange and distant pull in his belly, a slight tingle at the nape of his neck. It’s uncomfortable, too strong a sensation for his current dulled state, and it makes his pulse speed inexplicably. He has another drink, forgets about that too. Bev is slouched warmly, comfortably against his side now, and he’s watching her try to make conversation with a dark-eyed girl whose slow, careful drawl reminds him a bit of Hannibal, and who does not seem particularly interested in Bev.

“Whup! Refill time!” Bev announces when she takes an unsuccessful sip from her empty can. She hoists herself out of the hollow between Will and the girl, only to stumble back onto them in a laughing heap of limbs.

“Will. William, Willbur Graham. Will you be so dear as to fetch us ladies another beverage, I do believe that I am currently too comfortable to move.” Bev’s eyes smile at him in a way that tells him she’s getting rid of him, so that she can resume her attempts without his interference. She’s lucky he loves her, because he does as he’s told, mouthing charming at her behind the girl’s back. Bev’s grin only widens.

Someone’s left the sliding door open a crack, and a cold draft leaks into the too-hot room. It feels good, after the press of bodies and the flush of alcohol, so after he manages to find a few of the last full cans, he stays there a moment, eyes closed, relishing the feeling. He puts his forehead against the glass, trying to slow the spinning of the room that he wasn’t aware of until now, and his breath paints fog across the pane.

He doesn’t know how he hears it, over everything else, but there it is; unmistakably. Agitated voices from outside, somewhere in the black, and unease creeps back through his limbs. He feels sure that something is wrong, though for a moment there is no more sound, it’s as though something is peaking, a roll of tension between his shoulders. He squints into the darkness, but can see nothing past the glow of the porch light.

“I said shut the fuck up!”

There, this time it’s clear, and there’s laughter, too. Will drops the cans, slides the door open and steps out into the night. When he shuts it behind him, it’s as though the party ceases to exist, the music muted and faint, and only the pull of the dark before him matters. Steps now, unsteady, and as his eyes adjust he sees them, silhouetted against the dim glow of the moon, a group. The laughter continues, and it’s all but one of them, the lanky figure in the middle, and it’s his voice which had sounded so frustrated, had carried the edge of fear inside to Will.

“I bet that’s why you haven’t fucked her yet, huh? You don’t even have the equipment.”

“You’re not exactly compatible, man,” They’re laughing again, and it’s an ugly sound, three of them, and the other, alone. “--should let one of us teach her what it’s really like—” As Will takes another step forward, the boy takes a swing at one of the others, but it’s wildly misplaced and easily ducked. Their voices raise as one, amused, and someone knocks the boy down, presses his face into the frozen ground.

“Why don’t we have a look, huh?”

It’s unmistakably ugly, the feeling he gets, the sinking of his stomach as he realizes what they’re intending. Humiliation . Will is running now, they don’t see him, but he understands what this is somehow, and as they reach for the boy, hands pulling at clothes, it’s as if he feels his anger, he lets it wash through him, adrenaline rushing, because all at once he realizes he’s like him , and that’s why he’s out here with his face in the grass instead of inside, laughing and drinking with everyone else.

“Get off , just—”

“Let’s see what you’re packing in there, huh? Not much, I—”

Will never finds out what the rest of the sentence is, because he lunges at the guy who said it, they tumble to the ground. There’s a moment of confusion, more laughter, and Will feels a fist connect with his stomach, is slammed onto his back, can’t breathe, but he kicks out, connects. The weight of the guy’s body shifts off him with an oof , and he feels a moment of pleasure as he realizes he’s hurt one of them back. It’s fleeting, though, as the next sensation is pain, bright and blinding as something crushes into his nose.

“What the fuck? Who the fuck is this?”

They’re still laughing, drunk, unbothered by the fight. Will makes to hoist himself off the ground, something warm trickling from his nose--red, when he touches it--and he’s knocked down again.

“Another bitch—”

“Is this your boyfriend?”

“You’ll never learn, will you Frederick;” one of them leers at the boy, “you need an alpha , not another omega bitch. It doesn’t work like that—” a lewd motion, and Frederick snarls, kicks out at them. Will is furious, but also rather too drunk to be a very effective defense. He thinks they’ll probably get bored of their game soon, but it’s not enough, he wants them to hurt .

“You have no right ,” he growls, though he knows it’s likely not very convincing coming from the ground and through a possibly broken nose. They laugh as one. He tries to meet Frederick’s eyes, across from him, and gets no acknowledgement; a wall.

“Hey, what the fuck is going on here?”

It’s Bev, he can tell even lit from behind like she is, he can hear the fierceness in her voice, the way it trembles. Others are peering out the door too, a little square of yellow light, the music has stopped. The guys surrounding he and Frederick back off, their laughter nervous now that they have an audience. Will stands, wipes his nose on the sleeve of his jacket.

“It’s okay, Bev.”

“We’re just messing around,” one of them offers. Will can see him now that he’s facing the light; he has a long, thin face and eyes that look somehow wrong, too round. He doesn’t know him, but he looks too old for a high school party.

They disperse, managing somehow to look a little sheepish, as though they’d been playing a game that got out of hand. Frederick, too, goes back inside, straightening his shirt a bit fussily. He nods at Will once, curtly, but it’s a grudging acknowledgement-- I don’t need your help.

“Oh my god, your nose—” Bev gasps, as Will makes his way back. He shakes his head, not wanting to talk about it.

“I’m fine.”

She stops him before he makes it inside, a hand gentle on his chest. Her face is pulled into an expression he’s not sure he’s seen on her before--guilt?

“You should probably go home; I think someone’s waiting for you.”

“What?”

“Hannibal called, he was looking for you. That’s why I finally realized you weren’t around, I—”

Will turns away from her, a strange mix of emotions pulling at him. He’s embarrassed--of what she saw, but also what she implies now--and angry still.

“I’m sorry, I should have been there, those guys were—”

“Don’t do that,” Will breathes, disappointed. “Don’t--don’t look at me like them, like I can’t be left on my own.”

“That’s not what I—”

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow, I have to go.”

When he leaves, he feels like he’s left something of himself behind. He realizes, bloody, disheveled and still drunk, that he will never again be just Will Graham. Bitch , he hears, and it bothers him the way Mischa’s callous words had not, because he’d never associated himself with them before. The heat had brought him to Hannibal, but it had brought other things with it--what else would change? What else would he be expected to be? To want ? He knows, even as he stumbles across gravel, breath coming out in a cloud, that nothing in him has really changed, he’s the same person he ever was. And yet.

The eyes that follow him differently now, appreciatively or contemptuously through the hallway. The comments, the sneers, the guardedness in their tones. It’s rolled off him, unnoticed, before tonight, because after all, he had Hannibal , who looked at him like he was everything in the world, who did not conquer but was conquered , whose hands did not trap or force, but freed him. What did the rest of it matter, in the face of a bond like that?

Snow starts to fall, and it’s so quiet out here that he can hear it pattering lightly on the ground around him; it collects in his hair.

Hannibal, who chose when they could meet. Who introduced him to wine, and music, and food. Will stops, swaying slightly in place, his thoughts racing. Whose absence tonight had made Will run into the first dangerous situation he found. He has a shivery, awful flicker of doubt, his stomach coiling unpleasantly.

There’s the hum of an engine, the slow crunch of tires. The car is there, and despite everything else he feels relieved, an aching and exhausted kind of need as the passenger door opens, and he sees Hannibal.

“Going my way?”

He snorts. Why not. Why the fuck not.

Hannibal is remarkably calm, he thinks to himself, even when Will slides into the seat and his face-- bloodied-- falls under the light. It’s a blend of things he feels then, deep and complex and not unlike a good wine. Rage, yes--possessive and violent, he feels it in his knuckles, the desire to tear at whoever had dared to do such a thing--but also appreciation. The bright smear of red suits Will, his jaw set forward defiantly, the dark mess of hair. He looks positively feral in this moment.

If he gives any indication, it’s only a small intake of breath, a narrowing of eyes. And really, who could begrudge him such a thing? The ride is silent, they wind through the dark, the skeletal trees reaching across the road, moonlight sliding occasionally over Will’s upturned face, changing the smear of red to black.

Back home, flicking on lights as he goes, he lets Will fall heavily to the bed--shoes on and all, though it pains him--and goes to fetch his kit.

“How did you know where to find me?”

Will asks it, sitting up slowly, with a slightly accusatory tone that Hannibal’s not sure he altogether enjoys. He sets the leather bag on the bed, sits next to Will and places hands on either side of his face, turns it towards him.

“A Bond is a powerful thing, Will.”

The blue eyes before him narrow slightly--pupils normal, not concussed--and amusement curls through him.

“And…” he turns Will left, then right, reassuring himself the nose before him is intact, “your friend Ms. Katz was kind enough to give Mischa her phone number. It seemed a good place to start.”

Will laughs now, though weak, and there’s a pleasant sensation as the tension between them coils away, ephemeral as smoke. There’s still something… changed though. It seems as though Will’s face is somehow a little less soft, a little more cautious. As Hannibal wipes away the blood with a bit of gauze, hands gentle, he notes that all the features are in the same place--the eyes still stormy, though not meeting his, the lip he brushes with the pad of his thumb, it remains the same lovely shade. And yet, the illusion persists--Will has become something tonight, and it’s as though he’s gone just a step beyond Hannibal’s reach.

It disarms him. He wants to push, to bring them back to the kind of easy, trusting meld they found before. Instinct tells him not to, however, and his instincts have always been well tuned.

“Should I ask what happened?” he offers instead. Carefully neutral, not betraying the multiplicity of things unfurling in his chest.

“Maybe I should ask you.”

Hannibal lets his hands fall to his sides. A hundred words flicker through his mind at once, as he determines what precisely he should tell Will, who looks at him with those beautiful and terrible guarded eyes. He settles on the truth, or a version of it.

“I’m very sorry about tonight. Something rather urgent came up.”

He does not mention the blood he’d cleaned from his own skin, not an hour before. The water had run pink with it, swirling against the tile, against the white fog of steam as he’d composed in his head.

Will’s head bobs gently, a little sheepishly, “Work?”

“Work,” Hannibal agrees. Trust is offered back to him so easily, he feels a pang of something foreign--regret? He tucks it away, determined to explore it later. “It was quite rude of me, not to tell you, but it came up rather suddenly.”

He allows himself to reach, now, a thumb across cheekbone, and Will’s eyes close, his mouth parts invitingly.

“Your turn, I believe.”

As the story spills from Will’s lips, slightly slurred yet, they end up lying down. The party, the fight, the cruel and banal taunts of boys. Hannibal turns the light off, at some point, but Will’s eyes have long slid closed, the words coming slower and more quietly. The drifts of snow beyond the window yield the only light now, white-grey, shifting, and eldritch. Hannibal eases Will’s ruined jacket off of pliant limbs, pulls the soft buttoned shirt over messy hair. The shoes, at last, those too are tossed to the floor, with a nonchalance that would normally unsettle him, disorder in his ordered space, but it’s fine. It’s always been fine with Will. They’re skin to sheets when the story ends, the unmistakable crack of betrayal in Will’s voice as he recalls Beverly, the way she’d looked at him in the end. Helpless . Hannibal isn’t sure that Will knows how much he understands, the way he’d felt when Will had come clumsily--perfectly--into his spaces, the surrender it was to allow him this close, after so long spent constructing walls.

One thing intrigues him particularly, a tangle in the thread of the story.

“Why did you hear what the others didn’t?”

Will’s breath is soft against his cheek, the rhythm of sleep settling in, a small shrug.

“It wasn’t so much what I heard, it was… I knew.”

Hannibal is lost in the feeling of curls beneath his palm, the softness of it. “You knew?”

“I felt .” Will corrects himself, shifting slightly into Hannibal’s touch. “I— I could feel him, his anger.”

Hannibal stills. There’s a danger in what Will says now, but a possibility too. He licks his lips, tries to keep his voice from betraying him, mostly succeeds.

“And the others? Could you feel them, the ones who sought to harm?”

A long silence stretches, and Hannibal wonders if he’s lost Will to sleep at last. But then, softly, reluctantly,

“...Yes.”

Hannibal gives in, in that moment, presses his lips to Will’s. You have me so completely , he thinks to say, but doesn’t, when Will kisses back, opens his mouth gently. When they part, Will’s head sinks deeper into the pillow, the soft rasp of breath which will soon become a snore. Hannibal smiles fondly at him in the dark. On his lips, he tastes the faint metallic tang of blood.

Chapter Text

It is not kind, what they do now.

Not the lazy lap of shore, but the clash of waves to rock. Spinning, Will’s head is spinning, as Hannibal’s mouth sucks, bites his neck, his chest, the waist of his pants pulled from him with a snap of fabric stretched too far. It is not kind, it is not love, but it is hunger, and Will touches back, finding the familiar paths his hands had once brushed across Hannibal’s skin, and it’s all so easy . His head falls back against the bookcase behind him, a sharp intake of breath as he feels Hannibal’s lips at the soft skin between his thigh and groin, he pushes into that touch.

Hannibal’s eyes find his, amused, as his mouth closes over Will, a hot and wet sensation of tightness, and there might be a sound that breaks pathetically from Will’s chest, because no-one has ever been able to make him feel the same since. The world shrinks to a pinhole, a bright and constant current of pleasure plucking at strained nerves, the warm sense of connection, the pull of the Bond as Hannibal brings him just to the edge as only he can, makes him plead for more touch, for more more more .

Fingers inside him now, and he feels his mind snap, unable to think about how he hates him, how he’s still missed him, only sweetness spreading from somewhere in him, molten gold where Hannibal presses, too much, not enough. When he finally hoists Will up against the shelves, books scattering behind them, Will is about to break.

Please ,” it comes breathless, thoughtless, and finally there’s the pressure he’s waited for, Hannibal is pushing pushing , and he feels the fullness, the heat, the dull ache of him, and their mouths meet sloppily, muffling the small sound that’s all that Will can manage.

The alarm blares unpleasantly. Will checks his messages, sees Jack’s name, puts the phone back on the nightstand, unwilling to deal with it in this moment where Hannibal still feels so close. He scrubs the heels of his hands across his eyes, and if he doesn’t move, it almost feels like there’s a familiar, warm weight beside him in the bed; he’s not sure he can face the cold, the emptiness yet. In the beginning, it had been worse; rarely a night went by where he didn’t feel the incessant coil of Hannibal against his mind, rarely a morning when he didn’t have to scrub the ghost of him from his skin, eyes stinging under the fog of the shower. His therapist had said it would pass. He was mostly right.

A real weight on the bed now, but it’s panting and wet-nosed, bumping against his cheek and soon joined by others.

“Alright— alright!” he laughs raggedly, dragging himself from damp sheets. He feeds the dogs, then himself, a bowl of probably expired cereal and a cup of coffee. He unlocks his phone again, still ignoring Jack, and his thumb hovers over Bedelia’s name. No , he’s not ready. He should probably tell her about the other day, the church and the silence in his head, but he’s going to keep the rest of it for himself. The looking over his shoulder, the sensation of being watched. He feels that Hannibal is close, sees him everywhere, and he can’t properly focus on work when all he can see is Hannibal’s hazy brown eyes. He’d thought he would forget what he looked like, after all this time, but the image seems to only get clearer the longer they’ve spent apart.

He scrolls up through his spare list of contacts, finds Alana instead.

Can you talk? He types.

Jack hadn’t appreciated her as Will’s therapist—not because she didn’t do her job, Will thinks, but because she did it too well. She understood better than most what it meant to be alone and like him, and she’d been all too supportive of his decision to continue suppressants for Jack’s taste. Jack appreciates her even less as Will’s friend.

I feel like I’m fading

He adds, after a moment’s thought. It’s an admission he wouldn’t make to many, too vulnerable, but he allows it for her.

After another few minutes of silence, his phone chimes.

Applesauce could use a chance to run around. Three?

He smiles, and cleans up the little mess he’s made.

The air is cool and wet, and the dogs burst out into the fields around the house in a whirl of fur and noise. He’s aware of the irony of having his own little pack, Bedelia had once needled him about it in a session; does it make you feel powerful? He hadn’t bothered to tell her it had nothing to do with a repressed desire to be an alpha, and everything with the loneliness that crept through the house if he was left on his own. He hadn’t told her about Hannibal. That probably made her a shitty therapist, or him a shitty patient, but he never really thought of them that way anyway. She was more like an envoy for the Behavioral Science unit, Jack’s way of keeping tabs on him.

Alana smiles and waves, easing the clip from Applesauce’s collar so she can join the others. Today, she wears a deep blue jacket, and it makes her eyes look especially stark against her dark hair, her fair skin. She’s always dressed in bright colors, and Will likes to think it’s because she herself is colors, all pop and swirl. She’s the most vibrant person Will has ever known—except for maybe Bev, ages ago—she gestures with her whole body, smiles with her whole face. It’s nice to be around her, energizing instead of exhausting.

“She’s been cooped up all week,” Alana says, walking towards him. They watch the dogs jump around, yipping excitedly. “I’ve been so busy, I felt like a lousy dog mom.”

He huffs a laugh, “She’s always welcome here. Plenty of space.”

Alana wrinkles her nose at him, “and things to sniff. And mud to inspect. It’s a dog’s paradise.”

She steps onto the porch now, and pulls him into a hug, which he returns clumsily but gratefully.

“Thanks for coming,” he says quietly.

“Of course. You have coffee?”

They sit outside; it’s not too cold, and they can keep an eye on the pack, and beyond that Will doesn’t want her to look around too closely and realize he’s been subsisting off of frozen dinners for at least a week. The mug is warm and good in his hand, and steam pools gently out of it as he waits for the coffee to cool. They chat about things that don’t matter except to pass time; she tells a story about a funny student she’s got in one of her classes, he tells her he’s had to find a substitute while Jack has him out in the field, the struggle it was to get an adjunct to agree to cover the kind of material he taught. When she finally brings it up, the coffee is lukewarm and the dogs have already begun to tire, Buster coming to rest, panting, at his feet.

“So, what’s going on? Are you off the suppressants?”

He looks away, uncomfortable talking about it, even with her. She smells like pencils and soft perfume, and nothing at all like fever.

“Yes. The dreams started again.”

She’s quiet for a moment except to call Buster to her, leaning over in the sagging patio chair. Then, gently,

“You know, it’s nobody’s business but yours. Not even Jack’s; it’s illegal for him to even ask.”

He nods, he knows.

“I have a prescription,” He offers, taking a sip of coffee. He’d even filled it, the little orange bottle tossed into the drawer of his nightstand. Untouched. “But I haven’t started taking it.”

Buster is lying happily at Alana’s feet now, the traitor, and she scratches him behind one floppy ear.

“Why not?” she asks, casually. Her tone says she’s not pressuring him either way, she’s just blandly curious, “Didn’t it help, before?”

He thinks about telling her everything. How he sees Hannibal everywhere now, the heats and the terrible, wonderful feeling of giving himself to someone, the awful, familiar tug in his chest that he bears like you wear a string around your finger to remember something. How he never feels closer to Hannibal than when he looks at one of the Ripper’s crime scenes, and how that makes him feel clammy and sick and somehow, temporarily whole.

How it hurts him to remember, but the alternative is letting Hannibal disappear, and that is somehow worse.

“...I don’t know. I can’t.”

She makes a soft sound in her throat: not pity, but simple empathy. She reaches for his hand and he lets her, a little tick of a smile that he hopes doesn’t betray the things swirling through his mind.

“I know that it’s hard, to lose a mate.”

Lost . That’s how he’d always said it, to her, because that was all she needed to know, and he didn’t know what else to say. I had a mate, when I was young, and I don’t now. The same story he’d always repeated, as if it were as simple as all that. As though Hannibal had died, or maybe Will had. He couldn’t talk to anyone about what was really rattling around in his head, the blood and violence, and all of it tangled with memories of hands and sheets, of wine and leaves and warm talks. Even after everything, he protects Hannibal; he’s never even spoken his name.

“It’s not… it’s not just that,” he manages instead, his throat thick, making his voice gravelly. “We were Bonded.”

At least that part is the truth—he takes his hand back from Alana, runs fingers across the back of his neck.

“And he broke it,” Alana says it quietly, like it’s a curse.

It is, in a way. There’s not much science on Bonds—how could there be, afterall, it’s not like a blood test would suss it out—but the story’s been told enough for Will to know it’s not supposed to end well when they’re broken. Achilles, plunging himself into the fray, all blood and rage.

Was that what Will was doing now?

“But that doesn’t mean he broke you,” Alana finishes, offering a warm smile and raised brows that challenge him to disagree.

“Oh sure,” he laughs, “I’m a model of mental health.”

“Maybe a bit unstable,” she admits, wrinkling her nose again. He finds her impossibly good, in the way she can lift him out of dark places. If Hannibal had been an anchor, she’s a lighthouse. “But in a completely charming way.”

He’s laughing, at ease. He doesn’t have to pretend to be whole with Alana, she takes him just how he is.

Her phone beeps from her pocket, and she pulls it out, eyebrows drawn in.

“Do you have to go?”

“Yeah, sorry. I forgot; I’m meeting a colleague for dinner tonight. Jack’s recruited him to do some profiles, I wanted to catch up with him before he goes down the rabbit hole.” She smiles at the end, a slight eye roll. “Will you be okay?”

“Of course,” Will nods. He believes it, a bit.

“Good,” she kisses his cheek. “Remember—you can call anytime.”

She calls for Applesauce who, much better trained than Will’s pack of mutts, comes bounding right to her. Her phone is still in her hand as Will walks them to her car, and he hears the dial tone as he snaps his fingers, coaxing the retriever into the back seat. The dog is covered in mud, he realizes a little guiltily.

Alana smiles at him as a goodbye, phone tucked between her shoulder and ear, and he smiles back in what he hopes is a charming way.

Hi, Hannibal?

She says it just before the car door shuts, and the ignition drowns everything else out. Will’s world stops, but Alana backs down the driveway, unaware that in a single moment, he is coming undone.

Chapter Text

This time, when the heat comes, they’re ready. Hannibal is remarkably well-prepared, actually. Saved-up vacation days, food packaged and frozen for Mischa, and they’re off as soon as Will gets the words out, I think it’s happening again, driving up the Atlantic coast. Will’s dad accepts his lackluster story so easily, he almost feels bad, but the breeze through the car window is just the right amount of cool, and his head has that thick, fuzzy feeling again, which makes it hard to feel much of anything beyond the prickle of anticipation.

“Are you alright?” Hannibal asks, and Will is reminded of the first time he’d seen him, the way something in his chest had urged him forward, told him to touch. He’d thought then it was the heat, but now he knows it was always just Hannibal.

Hannibal, who is looking at him sideways now, his mouth curled slightly and brows raised. Will feels the intense urge to catch those lips with his teeth, before realizing he still hasn’t answered.

“Uh, yeah. I’m fine. How long is the drive?”

Hannibal chuckles, and his expression is indulgent, but Will is acutely aware of the flutter of his pulse in his wrist, faster than normal. He too, can feel it.

“What will happen if we don’t make it, I wonder?”

Will very nearly growls in response, he feels it build in his chest. In the end, it only darkens his voice a bit, turns it more menacing,

“Then, Hannibal Lecter, I’ll have you right here on these leather seats.”

Hannibal’s smile broadens, but there’s something in it that suggests he’s seriously considering for a moment. The car swerves smoothly into the next exit, and Will thinks wildly that Hannibal is going to park them somewhere and let him make good on that promise. Then, they turn into a gas station.

Will falls back against the passenger seat, disappointed. He’s already too hot, too sensitive, and he knows it will only get worse. Every move Hannibal makes lights up nerves through his body like a circuit board, the wanting quickly turning to needing . He rolls down the window as Hannibal goes in to pay, sticks his head out, rests it on crossed arms and closes his eyes, enjoying the cool air. The ocean is somewhere close, he can smell it; the weedy, salty scent.

Then there’s something else. The tingle of hairs raising across his arms, he knows someone is standing in front of him, close enough to sense. He squints one eye open, looks up.

The man is smiling, wearing a rumpled white button-down shirt and khaki pants, looking for all the world like an overgrown camp counselor, his light brown hair thinning a bit in the front.

“Hey there,” he says, and Will fights the urge to roll his eyes to this man’s face.

“Hi.” Will answers flatly, hoping it gets his please fuck off message across.

“You happen to be from around here?” the man asks, shifting his hands to his hips, “I’m a little lost, and I’ve got this damn GPS thingy, but it’s just sending me in circles.”

Will shakes his head, almost closes his eyes again before realizing the man isn’t going to take that for an answer. Where is Hannibal?

“No, sorry. Never been here before.”

In truth, Will isn’t even sure where here is. He’s been out of focus, drifting somewhere between dream and reality while Hannibal drove. The sun is still high, they hadn’t been gone too long, but now he looks around him as if for the first time. There’s an overgrown lot beside the gas station, the slushy remains of the last snow draining into the road under the sun, a Dunkin’ Donuts on the other side, houses beyond that. It could be any town in the Northeast.

And for some unfathomable reason, this man is still standing in front of his window, smile unfaltering. If anything, it seems like he’s gotten closer .

“Well, maybe you could come take a look at my GPS then,” he says, and his hand is resting on the car now, “You’re young, I’m sure you’re more tech savvy than me.”

Instinct raises the fine hairs on the back of Will’s neck, unease, and in the same moment as he shifts back inside the car, the man goes to open the door. Without thinking, Will catches it, pulls it back with all his strength.

Hey !”

“Come on,” the man tries again, his smile fading at last, and they struggle over the door. Alarms are sounding off in Will’s head, even before the wind shifts and he’s overwhelmed by the man’s scent. Alpha , he knows immediately, but it’s not the same as Hannibal, it’s not the safe and perfect smell of burying his nose against one of his dress shirts, it’s strange and thick, and it almost makes him gag.

The man is reaching into the car now, face flushed and angry, and Will is wondering if he’d go to jail for killing him, when Hannibal’s voice rings out.

“What’s going on here?”

Will shivers despite himself; and really, how is he supposed to help it in his state? Hannibal’s voice isn’t loud, exactly. It’s not a shout, but that it’s a threat is clear, his voice is stormy, each word like a knife pulled from the block. The man in the khakis has stilled too, pasted his too-bright smile back on, his attention turned towards Hannibal now, though his eyes still flicker hungrily back to Will occasionally.

“Oh, hey there. I was just having a chat with your—” he licks his lips nervously, then decides on “--your son.”

And that, after everything, is too fucking much for Will. He doesn’t hear what Hannibal’s response is, because he kicks the door open, hard, catching Khakis across the middle with it, knocking him to the pavement. Will slams the door closed, leans over the center console and peers at Hannibal through the driver’s window, ignoring the muffled sounds of cursing behind him.

“We should probably go now.”

Hannibal pulls them smoothly out of the gas station and back onto the road, neither of them sparing a glance for the man they’d left behind.

Will’s silent for a while, his head pressed against cold glass now, as the heat courses through him. Warp ten, Scotty, he thinks, nonsensically, desire aching somewhere deep in him in a way that makes him feel his pulse everywhere. Hannibal is too close, too warm, smells too damn good right now. Their encounter at the gas station still nibbles maddeningly at him from some part that isn’t completely entranced by the shift of muscle in Hannibal’s arms as he drives, but it feels distant, hard to keep hold of.

“I don’t need you to protect me,” he mumbles, finding the part of it that’s really gnawing at him. He feels a flush in his cheeks, at the petty sound of acknowledging it out loud. It makes him sound small, defensive.

“I’m well aware,” Hannibal says, glancing quickly at him. He’s smiling in that way he has, with just his eyes. They crinkle at the corners and make him look terribly inviting. “You handled that situation quite capably on your own.”

Will nods against the window, feeling his cheek slip a little. There’s a little cloud of fog around where he rests.

“But— “ Hannibal adds, and there’s something in his voice that, were it anyone else, Will would call sheepish. “You cannot fault me for wanting to. I’m only human, afterall.”

Will bites the inside of his cheek, enjoying the visceral sensation. Only human .

“Okay,” he decides. “As long as you don’t fault me for finding it kind of attractive when you do.”

The house is perfect, of course. A whole wall of windows, the back facing the edge of a great and crumbling cliff, herbs growing in aromatic clusters around the yard. Will doesn’t even bother to ask how Hannibal arranged such a place, simply swings his bag over his shoulder and drags him inside.

In the entryway, he drops everything, pulls Hannibal roughly to him, kisses him like he’s drowning and Hannibal is air. Normally, Hannibal would be pedantically aware of the clothes they’re dropping everywhere, would insist they were at least set somewhere neatly, but right now the heat has been dragging across their skin far too long for composure.

Hannibal moans against Will’s lips, hands gripping hip bones greedily, and it nearly kills him.

“Bed.” Will states, no room for argument here, and Hannibal laughs breathlessly, leads him upstairs and through an unlit hallway. The sun is setting, casting long shadows over everything in the room, turning Hannibal’s skin shades of orange and gold and black. They tumble to the covers, a flurry of grasping hands and gasping mouths. Hannibal’s hand brushes down Will’s bare chest, raising shivers, until he slides it deftly under waistband, and it’s like fireworks behind Will’s eyes, fire under his skin. He’s shaking now, hips stuttering an unsteady rhythm, feeling a need more strong than he thought possible. Touch and touch and touch, my god .

He shoves Hannibal back after some indeterminable amount of time, straddles him and steals another kiss. Hannibal’s lips are soft, bruised, probably, and his tongue is hot, like he’s the one with fever coursing through him and not Will. Will takes a long look at him, the planes of his body familiar and yet strange under the ever sinking light that creeps in through the windows. Hannibal’s eyes are heavy lidded, almost drunk, and Will presses his lips to the space between Hannibal’s neck and shoulder, where his scent is strongest.

Then to his chest, stopping briefly to graze teeth over a nipple, drawing a low, rumbly sound of pleasure from Hannibal.

Then to the little dip where hip joins torso.

Then below.

He’s never done this before, isn’t sure exactly how it’s supposed to work, but he uses Hannibal as his guide, playing until something pulls just the right noise from his lips. He can feel the steady throb on his tongue that means Hannibal is drawing close, and it’s physically painful to not take him right then.

“Will, please— “

That is a sound Will could get used to; Hannibal’s voice is tight, strained, and his hands have found the sides of Will’s head, not pulling him away, yet, just resting there, as though he’s unsure whether he wants Will to continue or to stop. Will doesn’t stop. Until—

Please ,”

Will pulls back, his mouth drawing one last long line across Hannibal’s cock. He slides back up so they’re chest to chest, both of them drawing deep, desperate breaths.

“You’re quite terrifying, like this,” Hannibal breathes. He doesn’t sound particularly terrified; he sounds awestruck, his fingers tracing Will’s cheek.

“Like what?” Will laughs, their noses brushing. Need roars in his head, the same tempo as the tide outside, powerful and constant, and he tries to press that feeling into the next kiss.

“Ravenous,” Hannibal answers when Will allows him a breath. “Like something wild.”

The light has all but faded. Will pulls Hannibal back on top of him, decides he’s waited long enough. When Hannibal presses into him, they sigh in tandem relief; the aching in him quieted, replaced by a different feeling, a roiling, violent pleasure that grows with each move they make. It feels like one long climax, breaking his voice with its intensity, his breath hitching softly each time Hannibal rocks his hips, pushing deeper, his fingernails digging crescent-shaped marks into Hannibal’s shoulders.

Let this never end

It’s white-hot and consuming when it does, at last, like something giving way, breaking, at the same moment Hannibal’s knot slides, impossibly thick, into him, and he barely has enough breath to gasp. It pulls through him, shuddering, his heart stuttering and for a moment he’s afraid it’s stopped beating completely.

As the days slip by in heady, effortless swaths of time, Will wonders why he was ever afraid of becoming what he is. Surely, there can be nothing better in the world than this thing that he and Hannibal share, the easy rhythms of appetite, moving from bed to kitchen, to the salt-whipped patio, back to bed. Day and night have no meaning, they sleep when they can’t help it any longer, they eat whenever they’re hungry. He feels like they’ve slipped back in time, thousands of generations of evolution into some primal, instinctual state. He feels he knows Hannibal the way he knows himself, a deep and unspoken thing that settles comfortably over him, the connection ever stronger.

He takes the little pills diligently, on Hannibal’s insistence. He’s glad Hannibal has the frame of mind to consider it; it’s the one part of all this he hasn’t really come to terms with yet and, frankly, not something he wants to even think about. No risks, this time, Hannibal had murmured, handing him a glass of water. Will had nodded, swallowing it down and pushing the thought back somewhere in his mind, locks the door on it. Later. He’ll deal with that later.

Right now, Hannibal is bare and inviting, and practically begging to be kissed, marked.

It’s the third morning, and Will feels it start to fade at last. He sweats through the night, wakes up more clear and cogent than he’s felt in days. And sore , god. He feels like he’s run a marathon, his lips quirk at the thought, as he realizes he has, in a way. He stretches lazily, feeling the quiet burn in his muscles, hears joints pop. The sheets are warm against his skin.

And empty, he realizes with surprise, sitting up carefully.

There’s a cup of coffee on his nightstand, long gone lukewarm, and a tall glass of water. And a note, with Hannibal’s neat, swirling script on it.

Out for supplies. Enjoy your morning off.

Will smiles to himself, downs the water in a few quick gulps, then takes the coffee down to the kitchen to heat it back up. Hannibal thinks this is a terrible habit, insisting on making it fresh, but Will doesn’t mind microwaves, and no-one is here to look at him in fond disgust.

He tugs on a pair of sweatpants, sips the now-hot coffee gratefully, and goes to the main room of the house, looking out at the view. He feels like he’s at the prow of a boat, the cliff’s edge and the clouds, the murky ocean beyond spreading out before him. The trees on either side of the yard are nodding heavy, budded branches under the mist, and everything inside seems to be darkly, richly colored in contrast to the blue-grey palette outside.They’re inching into Spring now, he realizes with a start. He’ll graduate in a few months’ time, and it’s strange to think this whole part of his life will end so suddenly and finally.

He wonders what will happen after.

Bev is going away for school, she’s already gotten a bunch of offers. He doesn’t talk to many others, the moving around pretty much ruining his chances of making good friends, so there won’t be many people to miss. As for him… he doesn’t know. College, probably, but only because it’s expected. There’s a local one that will take him with his grades, his many transcripts. He feels like it’s ridiculous to ask him what he wants to do for the rest of his life at seventeen; right now the only thing he’s sure about is that he wants Hannibal. As consuming as Hannibal is, Will’s pretty sure that doesn’t count as an occupation.

He thinks about them, instead. Wonders if they’ll live somewhere like this, a quiet, airy place in the woods. Maybe he could do the kind of work his dad does; fixing things, working with his hands, while Hannibal does the same for people.

It’s a warm, pleasant thought, and he holds onto it, feeling new rooms unfold in his mind, possibilities unfurling like new growth.

There’s something beeping, occasionally, and he frowns, wondering if Hannibal left the coffee maker on. He wanders back to the kitchen to investigate, but it’s silent, the glass pot already washed and placed in the drainer by the sink. The sound comes again, from behind him, and he turns to see the phone, a sleek cordless thing on the counter. It’s the console that’s beeping, and his stomach twists unpleasantly.

Who would be calling them here? He’s technically supposed to be home, only missing his dad because of the hours they keep, there’s no way he’d given him this number. Will didn’t even think of it.

He sets his mug down, presses play.

Three new messages , a mechanical voice informs him, one ,

“Hannibal, it’s me. Call me back as soon as you get this.”

It’s Mischa’s voice, Will realizes. She sounds strained, her voice lacking some of the usual smoothness.

Two

“Hannibal, I need you to call me—”

She says something then, in a language Will can’t place, a flurry of consonants and round, fluid vowels. Although he doesn’t understand, he can hear the urgency in her voice, and it sounds uncomfortably close to fear.

Three

There’s just staticky silence for a moment, and Will’s stomach twists again. Then, softly, as though she’s far from the phone, more unintelligible syllables, this time thickly, as though she’s been crying.

There’s an audible click at the end, and Will leans back against the island, his head spinning. He doesn’t wait longer than a few minutes before he bounds up the stairs, starts packing their things.

Chapter Text

Hannibal clears away the table, the crystal and china soaked in the sink, the leftovers packaged away. He enjoys this little ritual, the hum of familiar motions, his hands acting while his thoughts are free to roam elsewhere. Alana Bloom had been delightful, as always, her warning about Jack Crawford as endearing as it was unnecessary. He plays fast and loose with the rules , she’d said, looking at him through those lovely, long eyelashes, people have gotten hurt, working with him .

Hannibal has never had much care for rules, but for his own. But she believes him to be someone who could be hurt by such a thing, so he doesn’t tell her so, simply nods gravely, the very portrait of the character he plays.

Be careful?

Of course . I always am.

And she’d left, lovely with wine-flushed cheeks. If it were another life, Hannibal thinks he’d be tempted to ask her to stay.

He’d resisted the urge to ask her about Will.

He’d caught the familiar scent when she’d arrived, just barely there, underneath her own, and it had stopped him in place, doors flying open in his memory palace, the usual gentle pull in his chest writhing, animalistic. He’d known to expect it, had discovered she had treated Will in the past, but it catches him off-guard nonetheless.

There were dogs, mud and crushed grass, and an utterly regrettable cologne, but underneath there was unmistakably Will , the same scent as when he’d pressed his face against dark curls where they met the soft slope of neck, a lifetime ago. He tries to recall it now, as he dries a final plate, tries to reconcile the version of Will he’d known, all gangly limbs and soft cheek with the photograph he’d seen on the Tattle Crime website, the closed-off face, the drawn brows. He can’t quite bring him to life, this amalgam, can’t imagine a Will with quite so many scars or quite so few sheepish smiles.

IT TAKES ONE TO CATCH ONE , the headline had screamed, tasteless but uncannily on the mark. An FBI profiler, chasing the Chesapeake Ripper by becoming him the article said. Hannibal hums to himself, thinking he could not have orchestrated something more perfect himself.

He’d wanted to write, at first. He’d even begun the letter— I think of you often —but stopped, reigned in emotion and replaced it with logic. And instead, he’d typed. An email to Jack Crawford, an easy reference from Alana, and it all fell into place.

And now, an invitation waiting; a phone call from Jack himself, just after Alana had left. A crime scene, and a chance to cut his teeth.

A chance to see Will.

He lays a towel over the dishes in the rack, puts out the candles on the table and pulls on his coat, readying to leave.

Perhaps enough time has passed for old wounds to heal. Perhaps not. Either way, Hannibal will go, will find Will again, in the belly of the beast. This may be the thing that ends him, but he’s drawn to it nonetheless, the way one feels when looking down from a high place, and some part desires to jump.

Will feels as though he’s falling. The belly in the throat, adrenaline and terror kind of falling. A scream seems lodged in his throat, and he can’t believe the normalcy, everyone buzzing around the crime scene, the same routine as always, the same dry attempts at humor.

“Will, I want you to introduce you to Dr. Lecter,” Jack says. And he’s there, and it’s not a shadow, not a vision dreamed up by fever, it’s Hannibal’s hand taking his, a professional shake, his eyes crinkling warmly at the edges. Jack continues.

“Dr. Lecter, this is Will Graham, he’s one of our profilers.”

“Hello Will,” Hannibal says, his voice wrapping warmly around the syllable.

“Hannibal,” Will manages. He takes his hand back as soon as it’s appropriate, fights the urge to wipe it across his pants to rid it of the feeling of Hannibal’s skin. It took him years to forget, and now here he is again, heart pounding like he’s seventeen and the rest had never happened.

Jack’s brows raise, as do Hannibal’s, such as they are. They’re thinner, Will notices. He catalogues the subtle changes, the fine threads of grey through his hair, the faint lines around familiar eyes. He hates Hannibal, right now, for not staying in place, for being human after all, and for reminding Will of all the time he’d missed.

“You’ve already met?” Jack asks.

Will realizes his mistake too late. Before he can stammer something inadequate—because what, really could he even say?—Hannibal’s lips quirk into a barely-there smile.

“Our paths have crossed.”

Jack gives them a strange look, but ultimately doesn’t ask. Jack’s funny that way, his face betraying every thought; Will can almost see the moment he decides it’s not worth his time, crossing through his features.

Jack gives them a quick summary, the details cataloging somewhere in Will’s mind without his attention. He tries not to steal glances at the man standing next to him, tries not to give away how attuned he is to every shift of weight and pull of breath. Hannibal is politely focused, his face drawn in concentration as Jack opens the door to the room where blood is spattered across the tile.

He’s full of shit.

There’s no way he’s here out of professional courtesy, and as the shock fades into subtle tremors under Will’s skin, rage follows. It feels good, a righteous wave which boils his blood and turns the world askew. Hannibal couldn’t just let him be.

“I want you two working closely on this; I’ve got a gut feeling we’ve got the Ripper here,” Jack finishes, and Will feels a scoff form in his throat at the utter ridiculousness of this situation. He clears his throat instead, forces his face into a look of troubled consternation.

“Let’s get this bastard,” Jack says, smiling grimly, and Will nods. Jack orders everyone else out of the room, closes the door.

And then they’re alone.

Hannibal’s taken his coat off, rolled up his sleeves. Now, pulls on the nitrile gloves, kneels on the tile beside the bathtub where the grisly shell of the victim is sprawled. Will doesn’t move.

“What are you doing here?”

He puts as much ice in his voice as he can muster, tries to imply how much he doesn’t give a shit for himself. It doesn’t come out quite as steely as he’d hoped, a little too weary. Hannibal doesn’t look at him, pretends he is examining the wound in the victim’s chest, and though Will can’t see his face, he’s sure he’s smiling.

“I thought it was fairly obvious; I’ve been asked to assist in the Ripper case,” he says lightly, and hell, Will has missed that voice. The warring sides of him give up the struggle for a minute, and he just closes his eyes, lets the low, warm flow of Hannibal’s words roll over him.

He pulls himself back, ignoring the twinge in his chest.

“We both know who did this,” he says instead, his voice laden with meaning. Hannibal does turn to face him now, brows raised,

“Do we?”

Will doesn’t particularly want to play games. He swallows, hearing the click it makes.

“You don’t want to do this, Hannibal.”

He hopes it sounds threatening. He means it to.

Hannibal smiles maddeningly, softly, gestures for him to join him. After a moment’s hesitation, he does, kneeling carefully so as to avoid smudging the blood.

“What about this kill suggests it was the Ripper?” Hannibal asks. His voice is strangely hungry, and Will realizes that Hannibal’s enjoying this, wants to see him at work. He sighs, rubs his eyes beneath his glasses, and forces himself to look at the corpse in front of them.

“It’s like Jack said, body staged, organs removed—”

“Staged?”

Hannibal glances meaningfully at the scene before them. The man is splayed, undignified, in the tub, pajama bottoms soaked in blood, undershirt torn open around the wound.

“The Ripper deals in art, Will, not in chaos.”

“Same thing,” Will frowns. Hannibal’s right, it feels wrong, but he doesn’t want to admit it. “So they were interrupted.”

A tut, now, softly from Hannibal’s lips, and god help him it makes his face flush all the way to his ears, the feeling that he’s being disappointing.

“Surely you see better than that,” Hannibal chides, “Jack Crawford does not look like a man who peddles in the ordinary. Does it feel like the Ripper?”

Will’s not sure he wants to do this here, with Hannibal watching. This part of his life had been kept carefully separate for so long, and now, here they are.

He tries anyway.

This time, the pendulum does swing, wiping everything else away; the blood, Hannibal, the low murmur of voices outside the door. The man in the tub too, is placed back in bed where he started, his stitches clean and fresh.

In the dark, Will becomes the killer. He feels the struggle, the panic, sees the culmination painted in bright strokes. Feels the warm, red heart in his hand, the visceral fear as he tries frantically to get it working again.

“No,” he says, distantly. He feels Hannibal’s breath warm on his cheek, though his hand is still deep inside the man’s chest cavity, the strange melding of realities. “He tried to save his life.”

“And has the Ripper ever done that?”

Hannibal’s voice pulls him back from the dark, and they’re just themselves, kneeling together in front of a crime scene. Will is lost in vertigo, the unreality of this day.

“No,” he breathes. “She hasn’t.”

Chapter Text

Will doesn’t tell Jack what he’d seen. He offers maybes and nothing more concrete, because if Jack thinks it’s the Ripper, it might buy him enough time to decide what to do.

To decide what the hell Hannibal’s here for.

Hannibal looks thoroughly amused by all of this, watching the technicians bag things with his hands in his pockets, a curious smile. As if he hadn’t just come crashing back into the ruins of Will’s life, as though they were just good friends who’d fallen out of touch but had the chance to meet again. Will’s not sure if he wants to punch him or kiss him, and that’s the most frustrating thing about all this.

He shakes Jack off the scent, and then he leaves, bursting out into the hotel lobby, the grey-blue glow of early morning beyond. He’s almost to the car when he’s stopped.

“Will!”

He turns, grudgingly. He’s not sure how much longer he can handle this; is already thinking longingly of his bed, the dogs, and the bottle on the top shelf in his cupboard. A brain can only handle so much existential whiplash, he thinks, before something is really broken.

Hannibal is there, in a long, dark coat and a soft grey scarf. The light out here makes him look more pale, drags the color from him and deepens the shadows under his eyes, and damn if he doesn’t look the same, underneath the subtle changes the years have brought.

“Are you hungry?” Hannibal asks.

Will snorts in disbelief. “ No .” And then he laughs, a manic sound, shaking his head. “No, I’m not hungry , Hannibal; I think the murder might’ve spoiled my appetite.”

His voice is too loud, he knows, but he’s trying to make sense of all this, and the pieces just aren’t fitting.

“Pity,” Hannibal says, and he actually looks like he means it. His broad shoulders fall a little, his eyes tighten almost imperceptibly. “I know a place, and I had hoped we could have a chat about this Ripper business.”

Will shakes his head, still reeling. The urge to punch Hannibal is definitely winning out now.

“Hannibal, we don’t ‘chat.’ We are… light years from friendship, and just because I haven’t told Jack anything tonight doesn’t mean I won’t. You’ll both be put away, like you should have been a long time ago.”

His chest is heaving when he finishes, the truth spreading at last like an oil spill. Sixteen years of biting his tongue, and it rushes out of him in one breath. It feels good.

“Well, that will be rather difficult,” Hannibal sighs at last, looking towards his feet.

“Why?” Will scoffs, “You think sentiment would stop me?”

“No,” Hannibal answers, “I’m sure that you and Jack Crawford would easily have me caged, the Ripper’s accomplice. But Mischa is gone.”

Will chooses the place, in the end. He insists . The last thing he wants is to be caught with Hannibal somewhere with white tablecloths and candles, which is what he pictures when Hannibal says he ‘knows a place.’ Will finds them the shabbiest, saddest highway diner, knowing that Hannibal can’t refuse once he’s agreed to talk.

They slide into a booth in the back, although they’re the only ones here at this early hour, and his lip twitches as Hannibal regards the cracked vinyl seats, the thin sheen of grease across the table. There’s even a jukebox, the quiet echo of doo-wop through the empty booths giving the place a haunted feeling. When the tired-looking waitress comes to get their orders, Will asks for a pile of biscuits and gravy, and Hannibal somehow manages to keep the disgust from his face, only orders coffee.

“Okay. What do you mean, ‘gone?’” Will sighs, leaning back against the sagging booth and rubbing his eyes. He takes his glasses off and sets them aside. He really can’t believe he’s doing this, but some hungry part of him keeps pushing him to draw this out, to give him just a little more time to look at Hannibal.

“We had a… disagreement of sorts,” Hannibal says quietly. He doesn’t remove his coat, and Will wonders, amused despite himself, if Hannibal’s genuinely afraid to touch any surfaces in this diner. “And soon after, she stopped coming to work, stopped answering calls. It’s as though she vanished.”

Hannibal’s voice has the strange, raw quality it only has when talking about his sister. Will tries not to feel pity for him, reminds himself that said sister is a homicidal psychopath.

“Like she vanished… but for the grisly murders,” Will finishes for him. The waitress brings their coffees, and if she heard the last bit, she does a good job of hiding it.

“Yes.” Hannibal agrees, tersely, waiting for her to walk away again. Then, “She’s become reckless.”

His words have the weight of an argument had many times, and Will wonders if this is what Hannibal meant by ‘disagreement.’ He dumps creamer into his mug, takes a long sip, watches expectantly until Hannibal too tries his, somewhat more tentatively. It’s a bit like motor oil, though the creamer helps, and he bites his cheek when Hannibal puts it down quickly, looking as though he’d just been forced to drink mud.

Will could really come to enjoy this.

“So why are you here then?” he asks instead, drawing himself back to the problem at hand. “Not exactly the most cautious strategy, jumping into the middle of an FBI investigation.”

Hannibal is silent, for a moment, his jaw working as though he’s tasting different words, in search of the right combination.

“It takes one to catch one,” he says at last, and Will’s stomach lurches unpleasantly, recognizing the words. So that’s how he’d found him. Damn Freddie Lounds, and damn her website. “You could find her. For me, not for Jack.”

“Why would I do that?” Will says slowly. A lonely kind of music drifts from the jukebox in the pause that follows, must be a kind of blindness , and he waits, and though he won’t admit it he’s hoping for… something.

“If you do this,” Hannibal says, “I’ll make Mischa and I disappear. No more Ripper. We’ll leave you in peace, and you can return to life as it was before.”

As it was before.

The waitress brings his plate, stopping Will’s next words in his throat. He smiles tightly at her.

You are here…

He can’t help the crushing feeling in his chest. How can he tell Hannibal that ‘as it was before’ was loneliness on the verge of madness? That while others moved on, grew up, had lives and families, he’d been stuck right where Hannibal had left him, a stone at the river bottom.

And so am I

He hates that some part of him had wanted Hannibal to say the same. He hates the way that, the second he saw Hannibal, he was reminded fiercely of the person who he’d been, who he might have become in another life. Most of all, he hates that he wants nothing more than for them to take back everything and start again.

“The last time I trusted you,” Will says finally, a slow, low voice that verges on a growl, “I ended up bleeding out on my kitchen floor.”

This almost seems to wound Hannibal, whose eyes flicker unwillingly to Will’s stomach, where the twist of scar tissue lies beneath the soft flannel of his shirt.

“I am sorry, Will,” he murmurs. “I never meant for it to go so far. I had hoped—”

He stops himself mid-sentence. God forbid he shows something human , Will thinks.

It doesn’t matter; Will knows what he means. He’d hoped that Will could understand, like no-one else could. That he would take the best of Hannibal and... tolerate the rest.

“I tried, remember?” Will says gruffly, stabbing at his food with the fork. “ You left.”

When Hannibal opens his mouth to reply, Will cuts him off, through a mouthful.

“No; I don’t wanna talk about this. We had plenty of time before, there’s no sense in digging it up now.”

Hannibal’s mouth closes, and he just watches Will eat for a few moments, expectant.

“If I do this,” Will says finally, “and I mean if— I reserve the right to change my mind—then you both leave the country, and I never hear from you again?”

“You have my word,” Hannibal nods gravely. He doesn’t look as pleased with himself as Will thought he would. “The Ripper will no longer be your problem. As she never should have been.”

It’s as close to an honest admission of guilt as he’s come to, and Will decides he’ll take it. When Hannibal offers his hand, agreement reached at last, he takes that too, shaking his head at himself. He knows, deep down, that this isn’t about getting rid of Hannibal, but about that force that draws them inarguably together, knows his reasons for agreeing to this are less than simple. If Hannibal has any inkling of this, he doesn’t show it.

“It was good to see you, Will,” he says as they part, in the parking lot outside. The sun has broken from the horizon now, lighting the new day.

Will doesn’t answer. He doesn’t really know what to say. He nods awkwardly instead, shouldering his bag and going to his car.

When he finally gets home he sleeps for ten hours straight and, miraculously, he doesn’t dream.

Chapter Text

Will regrets his decision almost immediately.

Jack has them on any case with the remote possibility of being connected to the Ripper. This means long days at crime scenes, in labs, lonely dinners and saved receipts. Will’s used to it by now, but he’d hoped he had neared the end of this part of his life. He was thinking about moving; somewhere warm, this time. Maybe Florida, where he and his dad had spent one summer. He dreams of lazy shores and sun while he inspects the body of a man whose back is flayed open into a grotesque pair of wings.

And in the evenings, there’s Hannibal. Will is showing him how he catches them, the uneasy knowledge that he’s arming him for wherever he ends up next sitting heavily in his stomach. He tries not to think of it, places little tick marks on maps, red circles when a scene feels all too certain, familiar. Discussing details of cases, and at some points he forgets that he hates Hannibal, falls too easily into a rhythm of speech long forgotten, all metaphors and entendres.

They’re sitting in Hannibal’s office now, map spread out on the desk, deciding if this angel case is worth the time; Will doesn’t see Mischa in this, though it definitely fits her profile. He’d refused an invitation for dinner, thinking that somehow the clinical atmosphere of the office would keep them separate. He should have known better. They’re huddled over the desk, arms inches apart, and Will feels the constant, steady hum of proximity, the way their fingers brush, just a little beyond what’s necessary, when Hannibal hands him a glass of wine.

“Don’t you have a real job you need to do?” he asks, taking a long pull of the wine, flavor bursting across his tongue. It’s late, the office too dimly lit, and he’s exhausted by the case, the travel, and most of all by Hannibal.

Hannibal laughs off his rudeness, softly. Almost fondly.

“Don’t you?”

“Touché,” Will admits. Then, he adds, “I’m covered. When Jack wants something done, it gets done.”

He turns his back to the desk, leaning against it, and looks up at the books in the loft. Little colored dots are the only markings across the blank spines of an entire shelf; Hannibal’s notes?

“Why law enforcement?” Hannibal asks. “I must admit, it’s not what I had envisioned for you.”

Will looks back at him, sharply. The fireplace has bathed them both in a warm, gold glow, everything beyond cast in shadow, and it makes Hannibal, face smooth and blank, look like the only thing in the room.

“What had you envisioned for me?” Will asks wryly. Hannibal’s face breaks into a smile now, though he hides it with another sip of wine. If Will kissed him now, he knows, his lips would taste warm and red.

“Perhaps something more… manual,” Hannibal says thoughtfully, “you did always enjoy working with your hands.”

Will laughs, trying not to be insulted. Hannibal’s words, likely intentionally, conjure images of them tangled in blue sheets, and he quiets the thought quickly.

“I suppose I just sort of… fell into it.”

“Were you a police officer?” Hannibal asks.

“Briefly.”

Hannibal’s lip twitches almost imperceptibly, and somehow Will knows that he’s enjoying the thought of him in a uniform.

“And you,” he says, trying to veer them away, “turned in your scalpel.”

“Yes,” Hannibal nods thoughtfully. “I would tell you that I couldn’t stand the guilt of failing to save someone, but I won’t do you the disservice.” He pauses with his nose over his glass, eyes closed. “In truth, I enjoy psychiatry.”

A quiet sip, and he shifts slightly closer to Will.

“But you do not enjoy this work, Will.”

In truth , no.” Will teases. Then, after a pause. “I dunno, sometimes.”

“Why do you do it then?” Hannibal asks.

Will thinks to himself. Because I’m good at it. Because it helps people, even if it doesn’t help me.

“Because…” he says, his voice trailing off along with his thoughts, “because it’s what I feel like I deserve.”

“You’re trying to balance the equation,” Hannibal realizes, sounding amused. “Lives saved for the lives lost.”

Taken ,” Will corrects. “For the lives I’ve taken.”

The silence between them stretches long, but it’s not uncomfortable. The most dangerous thing about all this is that, while Will can’t bring himself to talk to most people about anything, he can easily talk to Hannibal about everything . He steps closer to the fire, partly for the warmth and partly to put more space between his skin and Hannibal’s.

It doesn’t work. Hannibal is just behind him now, and Will almost jumps when he feels a warm hand on his shoulder. It’s not an intimate touch, and yet it doesn’t have to be for it to feel obscene: the closeness of Hannibal, the sound of his breath near Will’s ear enough to spark something in him, an electric tension in the spaces between.

“Morality isn’t algebraic, Will,” Hannibal says, his voice low. “Nor is it transferable. You cannot take responsibility for Mischa’s actions any more than I can.”

Will turns, facing him and shrugging the hand from his shoulder.

“If I don’t, who will?”

They’re very close now, and though his body is flush with adrenaline, animal warning signs, Will doesn’t think he can make himself turn away. He feels like a tautly pulled string, seconds from snapping.

“Who is to blame when the wolf takes a hare?”

Hannibal’s fingers guide Will’s chin up, so they’re eye to eye.

“We’re not animals,” Will tries, feeling the arguments rush out of his mind even as he says it, touch making his thoughts freeze.

“Aren’t we?” Hannibal smiles. And then—

And then he presses their lips together. And Will forgets everything else, because it’s all small and far away in the face of the warm spot of connection where they kiss. It’s snow melting, tense muscles easing, petals unfurling. It’s all the numb parts of him coming back to life at once, a symphony of pins and needles.

It’s home , finally.

He leans into it, unthinking, his glass slipping from his fingers, dripping the last dregs of red onto the carpet.

“Is--is she okay?”

Hannibal doesn’t answer, has already rushed in to where Mischa is sitting on the floor, hands shaking, and there’s red everywhere, and oh my god, he can’t tell if it’s hers or if it’s spilled from the man now laying in the middle of the living room floor, red pooled and sticky out around him on the pale carpet. Hannibal speaks to her in a low, soft voice, in a language Will doesn’t know, and it scares him, that he’s not reacting to the man at all—

“We need to call an ambulance,” he says, his voice cracking, his heart racing, unable to accept what’s in front of him, because surely the man will blink, any second now.

Hannibal turns to him, and he’s deadly calm. There’s something terrifying and new in his eyes, and unwilling, unwanting, Will feels it roll through him too, with a gasp, through their connection…

Hunger.

“It’s too late for that now,” Hannibal says, after a cursory glance at the man… the body.

And Will understands.

“Will—”

The man is not going to blink. He’s going to stare like that, forever, knife sticking out from his chest.

Three long, slow, strides, and Hannibal is in front of him. He takes Will’s face in his hands, and Will doesn’t flinch away, though there’s blood there too, now, sticky and cold, smeared against his cheek.

“Let’s keep this our secret for now,” Hannibal murmurs, and it’s the same kind, comforting tone he used with Mischa moments before, “Shall we?”

Will is nodding, numb, when there’s a horrible sound, splitting the air, and it takes him a second to realize that it’s laughter. Hannibal kisses him briefly, softly, and Will lets him, and behind them Mischa laughs hysterically, her pretty face streaked with blood.

Will pulls away, sharply. His heart is hammering in his chest, a dull and steady pound he hears in his ears. The memory of Hannibal’s lips lingers on his own, and he pushes down the urge to run his fingers across them. They regard each other in this liminal space, breath coming too sharply, until Will shakes himself.

“I should go.”

Hannibal’s face shifts almost imperceptibly—disappointment—but he nods.

“Of course.”

It’s as though he knows what’s just happened, and maybe he does. Maybe he feels it in his spine the way Will does, the reawakening of something, the stirring of life, of need, and at the same time, the utter terror of it all.

He takes his jacket quickly, knowing his face is red, and steps out just as fast. It’s raining as he pulls out of the drive, but he barely notices it, his mind lost in the memory of a kiss, of blood, and laughter.