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noli me tangere

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The word for what he derives from Will Graham, Hannibal decides, is enjoyment, and he has always been possessive of what he enjoys.

He trusts it is not déclassé to savor, or to wish that grubbier fingers than his wouldn’t disrupt a perfectly arranged dish.

What salt is on Will’s skin should remain there until Hannibal himself is ready to disturb it: someone as excellent as Will deserves tastes that will appreciate him properly, and in these fallen times, Hannibal trusts no one else with such delights. It’s so rare for him to take notice of someone. The world, now, has, per the adage, two kinds of people: those who are Will Graham and those who are not.

Hannibal has never precisely considered himself a part of the world, and therefore is not a part of the adage, but if he were, he would, surely, be Will Graham, or close enough as to make no difference. (This is equally true of Abigail Hobbs.) If he is Will—and this is not mathematics and this is not logic, this is enjoyment, this is the calculus of the soul, so it does not hold true that if he is Will then Will is him, he does not concede that—then violation of Will is violation of him, as well, and he does not stand for such.

“You’re bleeding,” he says.

He keeps his voice soft so as not to over-stimulate Will, who is already rigidly posed, his mouth locked into a straight line: the necessary touch with Will, which some people do not understand, is sometimes the velvet one. He takes his handkerchief and hands it over. Will does not take it, which is not problematic, as it only requires, then, that Hannibal lift his hand and shape his fingers to the cloth until he recognizes it enough to raise it to his own mouth.

Hannibal does not mind touching Will; he minds other people doing so. Other people are so indelicate.

Will’s fingers are cold, but that isn’t shock—Will is breakable but as of yet unbroken, which is his charm—only the chill in the air.

“It’ll be ruined, you know,” Will says.

Hannibal believes he means the handkerchief, but he thinks, too, of Will himself, somehow unspoiled by the work of other hands. “No.”

That little square of patterned silk, blotted with Will’s blood: he saves it, folded in a drawer where it will perfume his own things, where it will be undeniably one of his own things. The man who touched Will was already dead by the time of Hannibal’s arrival, so what is left is the conversion of his brief intrusion into Hannibal’s further ownership. Enjoyment and possession are almost indistinguishable from each other.

Still, for all his talent in rendering down lemons into lemonade, he has his preferences for sweet, for savory, over sour: he begins in their sessions together to encourage Will’s dislike of physical contact. It does no harm to have Will flinch when unfamiliar fingers seek out his own, even in routine handshakes, and he enjoys—and possesses—that he is the only one, now, who can adjust Will’s glasses or graze a hand across his shoulders.

Will, future tense; will, I will it, a commandment; will, German, want.

“Your name,” he tells Will one day, “is one of significant resonances. Has anyone told you that?”

“Only you,” Will says, and Hannibal smiles, pleased.