Will took getting used to. At first, Clarice had resented his presence. He, with his butchered face and sad eyes, brought a distinctly maudlin flavor to the house that she didn’t like. He also represented that institution, the one she’d given everything to, the one that had still thrown her under the bus. Will Graham had been a horror story told to new recruits; the worst case scenario. She never met him before Argentina, but all the while she worked on the Buffalo Bill case, he’d been on her mind. People talked about him a lot, even years after he’d retired, and Clarice was nothing if not a good listener. When he appeared in their foyer one morning, travel-mussed and sad eyed, she deliberately ignored him for about a week, dining out by herself and spending most of her time in her study. She expected him to be a wounded dog: more likely to maul out of fear than accept a touch from a gentle hand. She never felt the need to compete with him for Hannibal’s attention (this wasn’t high school, after all) but she didn’t like him nosing in on her comfortable life all the same. The best revenge was living well, and having Will Graham lurking around was not part of ‘Living Well’.
But Hannibal wanted them to get along, so she made an effort.
“He likes you, you know,” Hannibal said one night, after they’d gone to bed and turned lights out. “He says he admires your grit and sense of humor.”
“I haven’t said anything funny to him,” Clarice pointed out. “He doesn’t know about my sense of humor.”
“I believe he’s referring to us. To your little revenge against a mutual enemy,” Hannibal said. “Dry. Biting.” He nipped her bare shoulder. “You’re very much alike.”
“One white trash escapee to another?” Clarice raised an eyebrow.
“That and the fact that you’re both elevated individuals. You’re both gifted, Clarice. You’ve both been used in the same way. He says that he started out looking for you; that is how he found us both. He wants to talk to you. You’d understand each other very well.”
“I’ll consider it,” Clarice said magnanimously. And then, “Have you slept with him?”
Hannibal chuckled. “Yes, but not for a very long time. You should try him on for size, my dear. He only seems like a wet halibut. He can be quite entertaining under all that sulk.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” she warned. Hannibal laughed and drew her close under the sheets, mouthing at her breasts. She let him, and as they fucked she tried imagining Will Graham in Hannibal’s place. It was actually more pleasant than she thought it would be, but that could have been because Hannibal kept whispering in her ear the things he’d like to see her do to Will, the things he’d like to do to them both.
Careful exploration began. She kept her distance, but Clarice engaged Will when she could. He reminded her of the half-tame deer that lived near her house as a child. If you were patient and quiet, you could get them to eat oatmeal or bread from your hand. One sudden move and they would bolt. She circled him carefully, testing him with the occasional question or comment. He was responsive enough and Clarice found herself liking him despite herself. He was crotchety but Clarice preferred the prickly ones. They were more truthful that the sweet ones.
A couple of weeks into Will’s stay, Clarice cornered him in the library.
“Were you looking for me?” She demanded. Will peered out at her from behind his glasses and shut the book he was reading.
“Yeah, I was,” he said plainly. “When I heard you disappeared I wanted to…”
“To rescue me?” Clarice said. She settled onto the settee next to Will and stooped slightly so that he was forced to look into her eyes. Will flushed.
“Yes. I thought he’d done something to you but the more I looked, the more I thought about it… You couldn’t be brainwashed. I didn’t think. Not from what people told me about you.” He smiled slightly, embarrassed. Like a little boy with a crush.
“Hannibal tried,” Clarice said. “But I’m here because I want to be.”
“You like to think about them squirming when they think about you,” Will said slowly. Clarice didn’t like being read so easily, but she nodded. “You’re here because… because you want them to wonder if you’re dead or if he ate you. You want their guilt.”
Clarice nodded. Will continued, a little frantically.
“You got tired of apologizing for yourself. Small town girl from West Virginia, aggressive, not afraid to use your sidearm, not afraid to bite back. You tried and tried to be good for them, to be what they wanted, but you got screwed for it. So you’re here now. And you won’t apologize.”
Clarice was mildly stunned. She’d heard about Will’s penchant for empathy but that was very different than having it aimed right at her. She wet her lips and spoke.
“It’s the same for you, isn’t it?”
Will nodded. He was looking directly at her now, no longer trying to avoid her eyes.
“You did what they wanted,” she said slowly, surprisingly gently, “You let them use you. You apologized every time they pushed you too far. And they let you down.”
Hannibal, standing in the doorway, clapped slowly.
“Very good!” he crowed. Clarice rolled her eyes at him and gave Will a conspiratorial look. “Clarice, I told you you’d like him.”
Clarice opened her mouth to protest but she found herself looking at Will. Looking at his scars and his eyes and the way he understood her little eyeroll at Hannibal’s theatrics. She couldn’t dislike him. She might as well dislike herself, and she’d left that unfortunate habit behind years ago.
She ate dinner at home that night. She and Hannibal had filet mignon garnished with bleu cheese and a side of steamed vegetables with lemon and Himalayan pink salt. They drank a dry but spirited Red. Will had vegetables in bleu cheese sauce and a glass of mineral water.
“I went to rehab before I came looking for you,” Will mumbled into his tumbler. He looked tired but he tucked into his vegetables with interest. Clarice watched him eat, taking small bites of her tender filet. She didn’t know who it was, but Hannibal assured her they’d deserved it. She didn’t trouble herself further by thinking about it.
“Will’s a pescetarian,” Hannibal said. He took a large bite of his filet and smiled down the table at Will. Will didn’t quite glare at Hannibal but he did throw him a glance before turning resolutely back to his dinner.
“I’ll take you to the Café Sebastian tomorrow,” Clarice said. “They have excellent seafood.”
“I’d appreciate that,” Will said.
They went to Italy that next month. Clarice held Will’s hand has they toured the Duomo. Hannibal looked pointedly at their joined hands. Told you so, his eyes said as he guided them both along with a large hand splayed across Will’s lower back.
The things I do for you, Clarice said back. She hooked pinkies with Will and reveled in his pink flush. He looked good. His scars were not as apparent on his tanned and healthy looking skin. He was a handsome man, she realized. His eyes were still hound doggish and he had crow’s feet and lines around his mouth. His temples were graying and he looked rangy and a little feral. His scars would never really go away. But he was handsome, she thought. She caught Hannibal looking at him and they shared a smile.
That night they pulled Will into bed with them.
“This is too much,” he said against Clarice’s mouth. “I can’t-“
She swallowed his words with her own mouth. She reclined on the spacious bed in their hotel suite, Will lying between her legs, kissing her in between words of disbelief. Meanwhile Hannibal knelt next to them on the bed, smiling like a cat. He twined a hand in Will’s hair and pulled him up to kiss him himself. Will moaned into the kiss, his fingers clawing the sheets. Clarice unbuttoned his shirt and threw his tie across the room. Hannibal helped her strip him fully and positioned him between Clarice’s spread thighs, rucking her skirt up around her waist.
“Condom,” Will gasped as Hannibal stroked his cock, positioning it against Clarice’s cunt.
“IUD,” Clarice said and pulled Will inside her with her legs around his hips. Clarice heard the snap of a bottle of lube opening.
Behind them, kneeling between Will’s legs, Hannibal pushed into Will’s ass in the same moment. Will shrieked and buried his face against Clarice’s shoulder. Hannibal’s thrusts shook them both, Will in to Clarice and back again against Hannibal. Fucking and fucked. Clarice pulled his face towards hers and kissed him until he stopped hyperventilating.
“It’s good,” she said. “He’s good, isn’t he? It’s okay to like it. I like it.” She kissed him and stroked his back. He kissed back, hard and desperate. He was quite good with his hands, which he glided over her flesh and wriggled between them, rubbing her clit just right.
“She’s very beautiful, isn’t she?” Hannibal purred, grasping Will’s hips and nailing him hard with a few strong thrusts. Clarice and Will groaned together when he did that. “Tell her you like this, Will. Don’t be rude.”
“I- I like it,” Will gasped. He rubbed Clarice’s clit and she came, pulling him in deep as she fluttered around him. Hannibal wrapped a strong hand around the base of Will’s dick and squeezed, preventing his orgasm. Will cursed and rocked forward into Clarice, in tandem with Hannibal.
A nudge and a couple of words from Clarice had Will pulling out. She slid off the bed and walked towards the bathroom. On the bed, the men were still, Hannibal buried to the hilt in Will’s ass, and they watched her walk across the room. Clarice took a few minutes to clean herself up a bit, wiping the excess semen off her thighs and vulva. When she returned to the bed, Will had his face pressed in to the mattress while Hannibal ground into him slowly, drawing it out. Clarice took her place again on the bed and gently pulled Will’s face up to the crux of her thighs. He got the message right away and ate her out enthusiastically while Hannibal picked up the pace and fucked him to orgasm.
Will’s face was rapturous when he came. Hannibal groaned and finished with him. Clarice could tell by the look on Will’s face that he was feeling Hannibal come up inside him. Very deep. Hannibal had a way with doing that.
They drifted together for what felt like hours afterward. Clarice on the right, Hannibal on the left, Will ensconced in the middle. Hannibal kissed his shoulders and stroked him, fisting his cock and making him come one more time while Clarice watched avidly. Will jerked and came into Hannibal’s hand with a weak cry. Hannibal wiped the sticky semen off his hand onto Will’s belly, over the scar slashed across his midsection. Will shivered. Clarice snaked her hand between her legs and touched herself.
“You’ll stay with us, won’t you Will?” Hannibal said into Will’s ear. “I’ve missed you so.”
“I-“ Will started, but Hannibal shushed him. He took Will’s jaw in his hand and pulled his face around for a kiss. He glanced at Clarice, cueing her. She curled up to him, pulling one of his thighs between her legs and wrapping him in her arms.
“Be honest with yourself, Will,” she said. “There nothing left for you out there.” Unlike Hannibal, she preferred to be straightforward and truthful even when she was persuading someone. “You can go back to your boats and your whiskey and wait to die, or you can stay with us.”
“You know what he is,” Will mumbled, his eyes closed in half-sleep.
“I do. And so do you. And yet here we all are,” she said, kissing him slowly.
“Stay, Will. You’re not meant to be among those people,” Hannibal said, caressing Will’s neck with his mouth. “Give your life a little meaning. Stop being someone else’s guilty conscience.”
“Or cautionary tale,” Clarice added.
Will shuddered as though crying, but his eyes were dry when he opened them. He looked into Clarice’s eyes. Hannibal wound his arms tightly around Will from behind.
When the word ‘Stay’ was whispered once more, Will wasn’t sure who had said it, Clarice or Hannibal.
It didn’t much matter to him. He nodded and whispered ‘Yes’ all the same.