Chapter 1: I Just Have Nightmares
"No, please, no no no," The girl begs, blue eyes wide with fear as Will stalks toward her, knife in hand. She's backed up against a tree, body frozen still with terror, and Will can feel his mouth curling up into a wicked smile already. He's a predator - a wolf, circling a small deer before attacking - and she's his prey, trembling and scared in front of him. She’s pretty – petite with long, flowing blonde hair – and Will thinks that it will look good soaked in blood.
He moves quick at that, pinning her up against the tree, using his free hand to press roughly into her neck, even lifting up a little bit. She's small, easy to lift. Easy to kill. "Beg all you want," He hisses into her ear, mouth watering with anticipation. "Nobody can hear you out here."
She would scream, cry or call for someone, but his hand is cutting off her airway and all she manages is a small whimper, tears falling freely from her eyes now.
"You're mine," Will whispers, then plunges the knife deep into her stomach.
Blood drips out of the corner of his mouth and down his chin. He feels and odd sense of calm, even as he looks down at the lifeless body beneath him. She was beautiful once, with long flowing blonde hair and flawless, carefree smile. Even though Will never saw it, he can imagine it when he closes his eyes and leans in, ripping another chunk of her flesh out with his teeth.
The blood feels good, warm and comforting as he tears into her body.
Suddenly, the tree line becomes fuzzy around him. The girl's body disappears beneath him, and before he knows it, Will is standing at the head of a long table in the middle of a lavish dining room. The blood is cleared from his face and hands and in its place, he's wearing a black, neatly tailored suit.
He looks out over his dinner guests - all of his colleagues, along with Abigail and Hannibal and the blonde girl from the woods, hair wet and matted with blood - and smiles that same wicked smile.
"Bon appétit," Will hears himself say, and then he's looking down at his beautifully plated dinner. In the middle of the dish is a still beating heart, and some part of him just knows that it's the girl's.
He wastes no time in picking the heart up and sinking his teeth into it, disregarding the faint gasps and screams he can hear in the background. The blood paints his hands and face again, and Will wants to laugh with the joy it makes him feel. It isn't until the heart is fully consumed that he looks back up at his dinner guests. The room is dark now, the table almost completely empty save for Hannibal, sitting at the far end, watching Will with his quiet, all-knowing eyes.
And suddenly, he's by Hannibal's side, knife in hand.
He leans down to press a kiss to his lips before pulling the weapon, hard and deep across Hannibal's throat. He wants to drink his blood.
When Will awakes, it's with a loud gasp and a pounding heart. The room is pitch black, and he glances around, panicked when he can't see anything.
"Hannibal," He gasps, struggling to take in steady, deep breaths. He reaches out for something, anything to anchor him to the world of the living.
It was just a dream. It was only a dream. It had to be.
And then suddenly, there's a hand gripping his own in the darkness. It's warm and sturdy and comforting and most importantly, real.
It only takes a couple of seconds before the lamp on the bedside table is flicking on, and Will is blinking quickly, willing for his eyes to adjust-
It was just a dream...
"Will," Hannibal's voice is soft and comforting, and it reaches out to him, pulling him back in.
He's okay. You're okay.
Will sucks in a shuddering breath before collapsing into Hannibal's waiting arms, face pressed into his chest. He inhales, and his body visibly relaxes at Hannibal's warm, familiar smell. One hand holds him close to Hannibal's chest, the other moves soothingly over his back, calming him down.
It isn't until Will is breathing normally, body done shaking, that Hannibal speaks again. His voice is soft and careful. He's dealt with this before. He's Will's anchor. "It was just a dream," He soothes, the hand on his back traveling to pet softly at Will's hair, "You're alright."
Will nods softly against Hannibal's chest, "I know."
He pulls away at that, frowning at the two wet patches he managed to leave on Hannibal's grey t-shirt. He'll say that he doesn't mind, but Will doesn't care. He feels like a big baby, crying to Hannibal whenever he has a night terror.
Hannibal just smiles a sad smile, reaching forward to pull a strand of Will's sweaty hair away from his face. And Will can't help but be embarrassed. It's one thing to do this at his own house, but he hates when it happens at Hannibal's, even if he is happy to comfort him. He feels dirty.
"Were you Garret Jacob Hobbs again?" Hannibal asks, his tone soft and soothing. It's the same way Will would talk to a skittish dog, though he supposes that's kind of what he would compare himself to right now...
He shakes his head, "No, not this time."
"Another killer then?" Hannibal asks, cocking his head to the side. He's used to Will dreaming that he is the killers that he profiles, and knows exactly how to deal with it. And though Will honestly doesn't feel like having a therapy session in bed or at - he looks at the clock - 2:16 in the morning, but he knows that Hannibal just wants to help.
"No," He replies, looking down, "I was... uh, I was just myself this time."
If Hannibal is surprised or worried by Will's answer, he doesn't show it. Instead, he just looks at him expectantly, waiting for him to go on. And though he doesn't want to, Will can't deny him.
"I was uh - I was eating this girl. This pretty blonde girl," Will explains, and he avoids Hannibal's eyes in shame as he does so. He must think that he's a monster, having dreams like this. "Raw," He continues, "And I liked it."
He wants that to be the end of it - doesn't want to tell Hannibal any gory details or about the end of his dream - but when their eyes meet, Hannibal reads him like an open book.
"What else happened?" He asks softly.
Will sighs. He can feel his hands trembling underneath the blanket. He runs one of them shakily through his hair before answering. "I uh... I killed you. I slit your throat."
Once again, if that information worries Hannibal, he doesn't show it. Instead, he reaches forward and takes Will's shaking hand in his own, squeezing it softly, holding him still. "It was just a dream, Will," He assures, "I'm right here."
"I know," Will replies quickly. I'm not stupid. "It just felt so... real."
He doesn't say good, for fear of what Hannibal might think.
At that, Hannibal leans in, cupping Will's jaw with gentle fingers. And though Will doesn't want to make eye contact, he can't help but look up at him in return. "Will," He says softly, "I'll be here when you fall asleep, and I'll be here when you wake up. You won't hurt me."
Will swallows the lump in his throat and nods, silently wondering how he got lucky enough to end up with someone who puts up with his crazy shit as much as Hannibal does. "Thank you," He whispers in return.
Hannibal leans in at that, pressing a soft, sound kiss on Will's lips, as if to prove that he's real - that he's not going anywhere. "Now sleep," He murmurs once he pulls away, forehead pressed gently against Will's sweaty one.
While Jack Crawford and the rest of Will’s colleagues haven't been informed of the extent of Will and Hannibal's relationship, Will is certain that they have a few ideas. He won't confirm or deny anything, but he's well aware that just about everyone at the bureau knows that their relationship extends far past Doctor and Patient.
Regardless, Will is still a little bit surprised when Jack starts to distance him from a few cases.
At first, he doesn't really notice it. After all, Jack has always treated Will differently, skirting around sensitive issues, especially the copycat killer or anything to do with Garret Jacob Hobbs. He's always been aware that Will is slightly unstable and treated him accordingly, but even Will notices when Jack begins to exclude him from more meetings, about three months into his relationship with Hannibal, if he remembers correctly.
And at first, it's just the little things, like leaving Will out of a few meetings here or there, or making a point not to mention the copycat killer around him. At first, Will chooses to ignore it or brush it off as Jack being Jack, but then, he suddenly can't.
Will knows that eavesdropping probably isn't very professional, but he can't help but freeze just outside of Jack Crawford's office early on Monday morning. Normally, he wouldn't even be there that early, but between his horrible dreams the night before and the delicious smell of Hannibal's cooking in the morning, he didn't get much sleep, and had decided to get an early start. So he's certain that Jack probably doesn't expect him to be walking by when he mentions the copycat killer case to the silhouettes of two other agents - probably Zeller and Katz - sitting across from him in his office.
And Will, despite his better judgment, finds himself stopping dead in his tracks and pressing up against the wall outside of Jack's office, straining to overhear their conversation.
"So you think they're connected?" He hears Katz ask through the wall, and he's silently thankful that her voice projects more than the others.
"I didn't say that," Jack corrects. He sounds frustrated and cranky already, and Will winces slightly at the sound of his voice.
"You loudly implied it," Zeller presses, always willing to argue.
It's quiet for a beat, and Will begins to panic, prepares to gather his things, fearing he's been caught, until he hears Jack speak again. His voice is quiet, barely audible between the noise outside of his office and the fact that Will's listening through a wall, but he can still hear it. "I'm just suggesting that we look at all of the possibilities. The copycat is obviously smart. He knows what he's doing and how do manipulate us, and that's exactly what the Ripper has done in the past."
Will feels his body tense at the mention of the Chesapeake Ripper and the copycat in the same sentence - could they really be connected? - but forces himself to keep listening when he hears his own name brought up.
"Shouldn't we get Will's opinion on this?" Beverly asks, sounding skeptical. Will would smile - she's always the first, besides Alana, to defend him - but he's too busy worrying, waiting for Jack's response.
"No," He hears him say, so quiet that he almost misses it, "I don't want him getting that close to the copycat again. It's not good for him."
Oh, now you're looking out for my well being.
"I'm just saying, I'm sure he'd have some sort of insight on this," Beverly argues, "He is the one the pointed out that all of the copycat killings were related."
"And I'm just saying that we don't need him working on this one. Not this time," Jack bellows, obviously growing more frustrated. It's quiet for a beat before he mumbles out a few instructions to the two of them, too quiet for Will to hear, and he actually presses his ear to the wall, struggling to listen. He's sure that he probably looks ridiculous to anyone who's watching him, but what else is new?
Between not hearing what Jack says and the rustling of someone putting papers away behind him, though, Will is taken off guard when the door to Jack's office swings open and Beverly steps out. He jumps in surprise, trying to straighten himself out - trying to make it look like he wasn't just listening in on their conversation about him - but she spots him almost immediately and shoots him a sly smile as she walks out of the room. "Morning, Will," She says pointedly, loud enough for Jack to hear from inside the office.
Will nods a greeting in her direction, watching as her and Zeller disperse, obviously doing whatever Jack had instructed them to, and he prepares to head off to his classroom until he hears his own name.
"Graham," Jack calls from inside his office and he freezes again, closing his eyes.
"I know you're there," Jack pushes, voice agitated. And with a sigh, Will takes a few steps forward until he's standing in the doorway, looking at a very frustrated Jack Crawford.
Will has never really been good with words, or trying to weasel his way out of a shitty situation, so instead of trying to explain himself, he just waits for Jack to say something. And Jack, sensing it, sighs and sits back down behind his desk, motioning for Will to enter the room. "Come in."
Though it's probably the last thing he wants to do - Will feels self-conscious and maybe even a little bit angry after hearing the way that Jack was talking about him - he finds himself closing the door behind him and sitting across from Jack Crawford, where Beverly was just sitting. He surveys the room, looking for any clues about the case they were discussing - especially the fact that the Chesapeake Ripper and the copycat might be related - but the only notable thing that Will sees is a rather large file in the middle of Jack's desk. And Jack, watching his gaze, promptly grabs it and throws it in a drawer, out of Will's sight.
Once again, it's not the first time he's hidden something from Will, but it definitely gets his attention. What was in the file that Jack didn't want him to see? Part of Will almost wants to lunge across the table and grab it. How dare Jack take keep him away from one case that he's been working so hard to solve.
"I don't know how much you overheard," Jack starts after he leans down to lock the drawer, "And frankly, I don't want to."
Will narrows his eyes, "Okay..."
"I do, however, stand by my word," Jack says, voice firm, "I want you to stay out of this copycat case, Will. It's not good for you."
And though Will wants to hold his tongue, he bites out, "Is that it? Or are you just worried that I'm too close to it?"
Jack's eyes narrow in response, "Both. And that's exactly what I'm talking about."
Will opens his mouth to speak, but it's probably for the best that Jack cuts him off before he has a chance to say anything. "This is your chance to take a break from this, Will," He pushes, but Will can tell that not even Jack believes what he's saying, "It'll be good for you."
"Fine," Will mumbles, standing at that. He's heard enough from Jack, and frankly doesn't want to listen to anything else from him.
"If we need you, you'll know," Jack calls after him, even as he leaves the room, and Will silently wonders if that's what Jack considers reassurance.
The day goes by in a blur after that. Will isn't sure if it's Jack - what he said and the anger that Will felt leaving his office - that keeps his mind occupied for the majority of the day after that, or if it's the mysterious folder that Jack had so obviously wanted to hide from him. He decides that it's a little bit of both, and can't deny that he wants nothing more than to break into his office and see exactly what it is that is being hidden from him.
He's not losing time - he hasn't in a while - but one moment, Will is in his lecture hall, speaking to students, and the next, he's pulling up to his house and walking through the front door, surrounded by his dogs.
Sometimes he feels bad when he's gone at Hannibal's for days at a time, only coming home after work to check on the dogs and give them food and water, but at the same time, Will knows that it's good for him. Out of everything, Hannibal is one of the only stable, sturdy things in his life. Ever since their relationship had grown (saying that they're dating still sounds weird to Will) his life just started to feel a little bit more sane. With someone to hang onto, Will's night terrors haven't been as bad. He doesn't lose time or sleep walk as often either, and he attributes that to having Hannibal as his anchor.
So while Will feels bad that evening when he returns home to the wagging tails and happy faces of his strays, he can't help but want to get back to Hannibal, especially after what happened with Jack.
Hannibal will know how to fix this. He always does.
It's almost seven by the time that Will finally makes it back to Hannibal's from his house, wearing a clean change of clothes that aren’t covered in dog hair. He's not planning on staying the night - he does still need to be home every once in a while, after all - but Hannibal had promised him dinner, and who was Will to deny him?
"Sorry I'm late," Will mutters out, shucking off his jacket and hanging it up by the door before making his way toward the kitchen. At this point, he knows not to even bother ringing the doorbell, not while Hannibal is cooking. It's like a performance, watching him cook, and Will would be stupid to want to interrupt it.
When he rounds the corner into the dining room, he finds Hannibal, just setting two plates down across from each other. They look like works of art, per usual, and Will's mouth waters. "You're just on time," Hannibal assures, motioning for Will to take a seat, and he does. And for a moment, sitting across from Hannibal, eating his wonderful cooking and glancing up shyly at him as he does so, Will almost forgets about his confrontation with Jack at work. Almost.
"How was work?" Hannibal asks conversationally, halfway through dinner, as he reaches across the table, topping off Will's glass of wine.
Will can't help but cringe slightly at the mention of it, and he knows that Hannibal notices it. Hannibal always notices it. "Alright," He mutters, taking another bite of chicken.
"What happened?" Hannibal presses slightly, obviously concerned at the look on Will's face.
Will sighs. He's rather not discuss it over dinner - it'll ruin the fact that Hannibal probably spent hours working on it, and the last thing he wants is to make it seem like he's not grateful - but when Hannibal cocks his head slightly, setting his fork down, Will knows that there's no escaping it, not now.
"I overheard Jack this morning," He answers, setting down his own fork as well. It's going to be a lengthy discussion, he can tell by the look in Hannibal's eyes. "Apparently he's under the impression that the copycat and the Chesapeake Ripper are connected somehow."
"A bit of a stretch," Hannibal says at Will's pause, "Is he certain?"
Will sighs, "I don't think so. I think he's just looking for answers."
"Understandably," Hannibal replies, "And he wants you to help?"
Will shakes his head, mouth shut in a tight line. "Nope." And when Hannibal just raises his eyebrows, waiting for him to explain, he does. "He's been shutting me out of anything to do with the copycat for a while now," He mutters, "He was being careful about it at first, but now it's obvious. I overheard him telling Beverly not to get me involved."
Hannibal narrows his eyes, "Why wouldn't he want your help?"
"I've been on the case since day one, so your guess is as good as mine," Will replies, frustrated.
It's silent between the two of them for a moment, Will staring down at his food, having suddenly lost his appetite, until Hannibal breaks the silence, voice quiet and careful. "There's more."
"Yeah," Will mutters, eyes unmoving from the table, "He called me into his office afterward, and there was this file on his table the he obviously didn't want me to see. The second I looked at it, he took it and locked it up."
"You're worried that he's hiding something from you," Hannibal infers.
"I know that he's hiding something from me," Will corrects, finally looking up.
Hannibal doesn't say anything at that. Instead, he stands, taking their plates into the kitchen where he rinses them off. Will joins him after a moment, wine glass in hand, and leans against the counter, waiting. He knows that Hannibal is thinking - mulling it over in his head because he never speaks until he's ready to say exactly what he wants to - and he tries to be patient, he really does, but it's difficult.
He fidgets nervously against the counter, watching Hannibal carefully clean off the pans that he used to make dinner, until enough is enough. "What do you think?" He finally asks, nerves getting the best of him.
Hannibal stops at that, turning the water off and drying off his hands before he turns to Will. He makes his way over to where he is standing, and reaches down, fingertips playing gently at the palm of Will's free hand. "I think," He says carefully, eyes bearing into Will's, "That Jack is desperately trying to piece the two cases together."
"You don't think they're connected?" Will asks, holding the eye contact.
"I don't know," Hannibal replies, "But I do think, despite how often Jack Crawford disregards your well-being, he's just trying to look after you right now."
Will's eyes widen, "You agree with him?"
"I agree that you should distance yourself from the copycat killer," Hannibal answers, successfully avoiding the question.
"But what about Jack?" Will pushes, "He's hiding something from me. I know he is."
"And I know that you didn't get much sleep last night," Hannibal counters, stepping forward and taking Will's hand. It's a distraction - he doesn't want Will to worry about it anymore - and it works. Will relaxes slightly into the touch, closing his eyes. "If Jack Crawford needs you, you'll know." They’re almost the same words that Jack had used on him earlier in the day, but for some reason, they make a lot more sense coming from Hannibal.
Hannibal leans in at that, taking the glass of wine from Will's hand to set it on the counter. His fingers intertwine with his other hand at that, and before Will has a chance to argue, he's pressing a silencing kiss onto his lips.
Chapter 2: The Way My Eyes Burned In Disbelief
And you should of seen the way my eyes burned in disbelief
And I let them heat until the flames burst on right out of me
Hard to believe that I won't forget
About the burden buried deep inside my chest.
- "Burdens" - Balance And Composure
(Warnings for this chapter include a little bit of canon-typical violence and a crime scene)
The first time that they kiss, it's just after Will comes down from a panic attack.
When he thinks back on it, he doesn't even really remember where he had been before or how he had even made it safely to Hannibal's house. He had been losing time, and the only thing he remembers before stepping through his front door is looking in a mirror and seeing Garret Jacob Hobbs staring back at him instead of his own reflection.
Somehow, he makes it all the way to Hannibal's kitchen before he breaks down, legs crumbling underneath him. And somehow, Hannibal is there, ready and waiting to catch him.
"He was there, I saw him," Will remembers wheezing.
Hannibal doesn't say anything in response - and when Will thinks about it, nothing he could have said would have helped - but instead just holds him close, stroking his hair soothingly. It isn't until Will is done muttering about Garret Jacob Hobbs and Abigail and his reflection that Hannibal finally speaks. Will is a trembling mess in his arms, only held up by Hannibal and the kitchen counter, and Hannibal's hands and voice are soothing.
"You're alright, Will," Hannibal murmurs softly, "He's gone now."
And maybe it's because Hannibal doesn't tell him that he's wrong or crazy or seeing things, but suddenly, something clicks inside of Will's chest, like a puzzle piece falling into place, and he's pulling away slightly to look at Hannibal through hazy eyes.
Once again, he's not sure how they end up nose to nose, lips just inches from one another, but he remembers muttering out, "If this is out of line, feel free to punch me," and then he's leaning in and kissing Hannibal, soft and tentative. He doesn't kiss back at first and initially, Will panics.
Oh god, this is exactly what happened with Alana.
And then it's not, because then, Hannibal's hands are finding their way from Will's back and shoulders to his hair, where they card gently through the dark locks, holding him firmly in place. His lips ground Will - keep him centered and sane for the moment that they're touching - and finally, even if it's just briefly, Will feels like he can breathe.
Despite talking to Hannibal about things and Hannibal's complete dismissal of Will's worries, he still can't seem to get Jack and the mystery file out of his head. He knows that Hannibal is more than likely right; that it's probably nothing and he had just been paranoid due to lack of sleep, but at the same time, he's functioned just fine on even less, and Jack had been acting suspicious.
Either way, Will does his best to listen to both Jack and Hannibal, and over the course of the next few days, decides to distance himself from the case as much as possible. It's hard, when it's all anyone is talking about, but he tries, he really does.
That is, of course, until he wakes up early on Wednesday morning to a phone call from Jack Crawford.
"I thought you didn't want me on the case," Will argues, even as he pulls jeans on. He's still on the phone with Jack, half awake as he throws some clothes on. Apparently, there's a crime scene that needs his attention, and while he can't say that he's disappointed, he hadn't been expecting to visit any crime scene any time soon.
"I don't," Jack replies bluntly, "But I didn't say I don't want you on any cases."
"So basically, you want me to figure out if it's the copycat, and then go on without me," Will mutters under his breath, and if Jack hears him, he doesn’t acknowledge it.
"I'll see you there," He says shortly, and before Will has a chance to say anything else, he's hanging up.
Will barely has time to make a cup of coffee (noting that his coffee is nowhere near as good as Hannibal's) and throw the dogs some food before he's rushing out the door and driving off toward the crime scene. Thankfully, it’s relatively close, and Will finds himself wondering if the killer had him in mind when he chose the particular motel, just a fifteen minute drive away from his own house.
At this point, he wouldn't be surprised, especially if it ends up being the copycat.
There's nothing special about the kill, or at least nothing that Will can see at first glance, but it is very unique. Situated perfectly in the middle of the bed in the small motel room is a young girl - she couldn't be more than twenty - with long, black hair. Her throat is slit, so deep that she's nearly decapitated, and she's missing both her hands and feet. Will takes in the scene - the blood and the wounds and the girl's still open, striking green eyes - and clears his throat.
"Clear out," Jack orders, and within a moment, everyone is exiting the room, leaving the two of them alone. "Let me know when you're ready," He adds quietly, and then he's leaving the room as well.
Will closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath.
The girl's eyes are wide and scared as he approaches her, knife in hand.
"Please, I'll give you anything," She begs breathlessly. If he listens hard enough, he can practically hear her young little heart thumping in her chest. He yearns to stop it.
He strikes fast, reaching out and grabbing her by her hair and slamming the side of her head into the corner of the bedside table. She's out cold within a second, and it doesn't take much for Will to lift her and place her carefully on the bed.
He removes her hands first, with careful precision.
When Will opens his eyes again, it's with a sharp gasp, and he has to grasp at the edge of the bed to hold himself up.
The room is full of FBI agents again within a few minutes, taking evidence and photos, but Jack's eyes are on Will, eager and nervous to hear what he has to say. There's something there - lurking just behind what Will can see - that tells him that Jack knows something he doesn't. It worries him.
"She uh... She was still alive when he took her hands and feet," Will explains, glancing at the body on the bed then back to Jack, "He didn't cut her throat until she woke up."
"And she didn't wake up from the pain?" Jack asks.
"If she did, he was quick to shut her up," Will answers, body shuddering with the thought of it.
"And her hands and feet?"
"Trophies," Will replies immediately, and that seems to strike a chord with Jack. Once again, it's very apparent that he knows something that Will doesn't, and he's not willing to share that information. "Is there something I should know about this, Jack?" He asks, even though he's certain that if there is, Jack is not going to tell him.
And of course, Jack shakes his head in return, "No."
It's apparent after their conversation that Jack doesn't need him at the crime scene anymore. And Will is just about to leave - he's outside and ready to get in his car - when he faintly overhears him order Beverly to look into an old case from a few years ago, the name of which Will barely remembers, and then he suddenly understands why. This crime scene is more than likely an exact replica of one that Jack has looked at before.
"Hey," Will says softly, grabbing Beverly's elbow quickly before she has a chance to make it out to her car. He glances around, but Jack is still in motel room. Now is his chance. "What case is Jack having you look into?"
Beverly opens her mouth to speak, but then promptly shuts it, glancing around nervously. "Will-"
"Please," Will presses, eyes digging into hers. And when that doesn't work, it solidifies his worries. "It's the copycat, isn't it?"
She sighs at that, apparently unable to keep up the act and nods, visibly relaxing, "Jack thinks so now, yeah."
"The case he's having you look into," Will presses, knowing that this is his chance, "It has to be a few years old, doesn’t it?"
Beverly nods, glancing around nervously again, "Yeah. I think it's weird too-"
"He hasn't recreated any old murders, just recent ones," Will finishes.
He lets out a deep breath, "Until now." And in the back of his mind, he knows that it has to be someone with access to the files.
He sees movement out of the corner of his eye - Jack stepping out of the motel room - and quickly releases Katz, stepping away toward his car. "Thank you," He mutters in a hushed voice. If she hears him, she doesn't show it.
When Will stops and thinks about it, it’s probably a really terrible idea. In fact, he’d probably be pretty disappointed in himself if he did stop and think about what he’s doing, but he doesn’t. Will is on overdrive, frustrated and confused and maybe just a little bit pissed off at Jack’s actions at the crime scene when he pulls up to work later. Everyone else is still there - still at the crime scene that he should be at, too - and Will has honestly had enough of it.
He’s had enough of the lying, of being left out of the one investigation that he was closest to, of Jack assuming the worst about him, so that’s how Will ends up carefully sneaking into Jack’s office once he’s at work. He should be preparing for tomorrow’s lecture or doing something productive instead of sneaking around Jack Crawford’s office, but he can’t help it. Jack is hiding something from him, and he wants to get to the bottom of it, damn it.
Thankfully, there aren’t many people around when he sneaks into the dark room, and nobody sees him shut the door behind himself. As he sits behind Jack’s desk, Will finds himself wondering what Hannibal would think of his actions. He probably wouldn’t condone it, and that makes Will feel bad, but at the same time, he doesn’t care.
Will pulls on one of the desk drawers - the one that Jack had shoved the mysterious file into - and he’s not surprised when it doesn’t budge. And while he doesn’t want Jack to know that he was snooping around in his office, Will begins to dig around for a key.
He’s sitting behind Jack’s desk, looking through every unlocked drawer for a good ten minutes, glancing up every thirty seconds to make sure he hasn’t been caught before he almost gives up. Will sighs, pushing a few papers around, and that’s when he sees it. The keyboard to Jack’s computer gets pushed to the side by Will’s rummaging, and just underneath it, hidden in plain sight, is a small, bronze key.
He glances around again, still paranoid about being spotted, before he grabs the key and presses it into the lock, sighing when it gives way. And when he opens the drawer, Will’s eyes come to rest on the thick, tan envelope, full of whatever Jack wanted so badly to hide from him.
Will’s hands tremble slightly as he pulls the folder out of the drawer, and his heart drops when he opens it.
The first thing he sees, paper clipped neatly to what looks like a background check, is Hannibal Lecter’s business card. Will swallows hard, fingers shaking as he pulls the paper out and examines it. Normally, he wouldn’t think anything of it. Obviously, if any psychiatrist is going to be working with the FBI, they’d need to pass a background check, but that’s not what worries Will. What worries him is that this is the folder that Jack had been hiding from him. This folder, full of information on his psychiatrist (his best friend, his lover).
When Will pulls the top paper out and to the side, his eyes come to rest on even more information on Hannibal - address, vehicle information, the location of his vacation home - and as he digs through it, it only gets worse. A couple of papers down are a handful of photographs. Two of Hannibal getting into his car outside of his office, another of him walking into his house and one -
Will swallows hard, mouth suddenly dry.
- and one photo of him getting out of his car outside of Will’s house. Will’s hands are shaking when he pulls that photo back to reveal another one of the two of them together, and he suddenly feels very, very violated.
Will remembers the day that the photo was taken vividly. He had been at Hannibal’s house the night before, watching him prepare dinner, and had felt useless. He hadn’t cooked anything more complicated than pasta in God knows how long, and he couldn’t help but feel like a child in the kitchen next to Hannibal. He remembers shyly asking Hannibal to teach him to cook something, and with a proud smile and a soft kiss, Hannibal had agreed. The next day, the two of them embarked on a journey to the grocery store to buy ingredients for the meal that he would teach Will to prepare - it was steak, something easy, even if they had prepared it differently than any steak Will had ever cooked - and though Hannibal had done most of the work, it made Will feel important, working and cooking by his side.
And apparently, someone had documented their trip to the store together. For a moment, Will can’t decide if he feels his face flush because he looks so happy - so carefree and at ease, standing next to Hannibal - or because he’s embarrassed and angry that someone had ruined that perfect day for the two of them by following them, at Jack’s request, With a camera.
His stomach feels sick as he fingers through the remaining pages of the file - phone records, travel records, even a detailed list of Hannibal’s patient schedule - and when he can’t look any more, he slams the folder shut, everything back in its rightful place, and throws it back in the drawer.
What is Jack getting at here? Why does he have a file on Hannibal hidden away in his office? And what does that have to do with anything, especially the copycat case? He can’t actually believe that Hannibal…
Will feels like he’s going to be sick, and before he lets the thought linger any longer, he’s making sure everything is in place before hurrying out of Jack’s office.
He’s not sure why or how his legs even carry him there, but after leaving Jack’s office, Will finds himself walking into Alana Bloom’s room and standing just inside the door, waiting for her to finish with her lecture. Maybe it’s because she’s consistently been the one person at the bureau who doesn’t just write him off as being crazy, even when what he’s saying or seeing doesn’t make complete sense. He finds himself hoping, as he watches her from the doorway, that she can talk some sense into him, or calm him down about the whole thing.
And he knows that she sees him, just out of the corner of her eye, because she stutters at that, words seemingly lost on her tongue. And while Will feels bad - he only ever barges in like this when he’s throwing something on her - he doesn’t have anyone else to go to. The last thing he wants to do is tell Hannibal if he is just being paranoid and there’s nothing to worry about.
Thankfully, Alana’s class is over within ten minutes after Will steps through her door, and as students start filling out, she glances his way and shoots him a tentative smile. She already knows that something is wrong.
“What can I do for you, Will?” She finally asks, extending the invitation into her room, and Will takes it, stepping forward out of the doorway.
No bullshit, Will. Just ask her.
“I need you to be honest with me,” He says once he’s close enough to talk quietly, glancing nervously at the students that pass them by.
A look of worry crosses Alana’s face, and Will already feels bad for dragging her into this. He’s always pulling the caring people like her into his mess. “I always am,” She replies, trying her best to mask her concern and worry, “What’s going on?”
Will closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and replies, “How much do you know about the copycat case?”
If Alana is surprised that Will came to her about it, she definitely doesn’t show it, save for her eyes widening just slightly for a split second. “I know about as much as Jack tells me.”
“How much has he told you?” Will asks, trying to avoid telling her about Jack’s office and the folder and Hannibal as much as possible.
“Will,” Alana’s voice is concerned, and all hope for keeping her in the dark goes right out the window. He knows that he’s going to have to show her his cards if he expects to get anything in return. “What’s going on?”
Will sighs at that, scratching at the back of his neck nervously. “Jack’s been keeping me in the dark with the case lately,” He starts, and when Alana opens her mouth to say something - possibly to counter what he’s saying - he continues, “I know he is. I may be unstable, but I’m not stupid. It wasn’t that bad at first, but now it’s obvious.”
Alana nods at that, silently agreeing with Will, and he takes that as a good sign. Maybe she’ll sympathize with him and help him out. “So you want to know what’s going on with the case,” She infers, assuming that’s the end of it.
“No,” Will replies, suddenly deciding to go all out. He needs to know. He has to know what exactly Jack Crawford is hiding from him.
“No,” He repeats, “I want to know why Jack has an entire folder on Hannibal locked up in his office, and I want to know why he’s going out of his way to hide it from me.”
And finally, something catches Alana off guard. Her eyes go wide, mouth actually gaping open for a moment before she snaps it closed. She’s rendered speechless for a moment, and Will takes the opportunity to press harder. “You knew about it, didn’t you?”
Alana is quiet for a moment longer before she regains a bit of her composure and nods, “Yes, I did.”
“What does he have to do with anything?” Will bites out in return, suddenly becoming angry with the fact that apparently everyone knew about Jack’s secret investigation on Hannibal.
Alana sighs, fingers coming up to pinch the bridge of her nose. “Jack didn’t want you involved because of your relationship with Dr. Lecter.”
“I haven’t told anyone about my relationship with Dr. Lecter,” Will shoots back, voice rising and rage bubbling in his throat.
“For the record, I was completely against it,” Alana snaps in return, which causes Will to go still. He rarely sees her lose her cool, and she’s never done it to him. She regains her composure almost immediately, taking a deep breath before speaking again. “I think it’s completely out of line.”
“Why is he investigating Hannibal?”
She sighs, looking up at Will with sad eyes, as if she feels bad for him. As if she doesn’t want him to know. “Jack thinks that he may be connected with the copycat murders in some way.”
“Jack also thinks that the copycat and the Ripper are connected,” Will counters, trying to prove just how ridiculous both Jack’s accusations sound.
Will’s eyes widen, “You mean he thinks-“
“Yes,” Alana cuts him off before he can finish his sentence, apparently just appalled at the idea of it as he is. “Apparently so.”
“Does he have any proof?” Will asks, heart thumping in his chest. There’s no way that Hannibal could be involved. No way. Will has been at his house more often than not in the past three months, and he hasn’t noticed anything off. Of course Hannibal is a little closed off - a little reserved and private - but to assume that he’s the Ripper?
Will’s stomach feels sick.
“Not that I know of,” Alana replies, her voice just barely pulling him back from what felt like the beginnings of a panic attack. “Honestly,” She continues, “I think he’s just desperate to close the case. He’s trying to make connections that aren’t even there.”
“What do I do?” Will asks voice hollow.
Alana studies him for a long moment, eyes searching Will’s face with worry before replying, “I don’t know.”
Chapter 3: The Devil Sits Beside You
I'm gonna hold your hand 'til it's over
We're gonna make it through tonight
You said the devil sits beside you
Well then, sweetheart, so do I.
"Sleep Well Angel" - Daybreaker
*Warnings for this chapter include some blink-and-you-miss-it porn and violence/a little bit of gore.
Hannibal's eyes are dark and dangerous.
His living room is usually a safe and secure place for Will, but with the way that Hannibal stalks up to him, it's the furthest thing from it. He's prey. He's a fly, trapped in the spider's web. He's right where Hannibal wants him, and there's nowhere he can go.
"Hannibal, please," Will begs. His hands shake as he reaches out, searching for purchase on something sturdy to anchor him down, but there's nothing. He's defenseless. "You don't have to do this."
"Oh but I do," Hannibal purrs, mouth twisting up into a devilish grin. His hands flex and then he's pouncing. He has Will pinned to the floor in seconds, knees securely barricading his body, stopping any movement.
"Please!" Will begs, and it comes out as a broken scream. He's crying, trembling, tears running down his face. He can feel them in his hair, on his cheeks and he wants to wipe them away - he feels weak, crying in front of Hannibal - but he can't move.
"This isn't you," He tries, voice cracking. He's whimpering now, as Hannibal presses his body hard onto the wood floor. "Please don't do this, I love you-"
Suddenly, Hannibal is holding a knife. He drags it across Will's cheek, slicing through skin and effectively shutting him up. He leans down at that, lapping up at the blood pooling on Will's cheek. "You taste delicious, Will," He growls, leaning even further down to bite at Will's neck. It's not a playful nip, like the ones they usually share in bed, but it's hard and rough and it makes Will scream when teeth break the skin. "Maybe I'll even share you with Jack."
"Hannibal-" Will begins to beg again, but he's cut short when the knife pierces through his chest.
Hannibal's lips are hard against his own now. His hands are in Will's hair, tugging and stroking and guiding, and Will whimpers against him, body going slack. Hannibal knows just how to make him come apart, just how to make his entire body melt with only one kiss.
He sucks Will's bottom lip into his mouth and Will moans in return, body arching up against him. "Hannibal, please," He begs once they part, voice raspy and breathless. His cock is hard, straining in his pants, and he aches for Hannibal's touch.
"What do you want?" Hannibal's question is so quiet and breathy against his own lips that he almost doesn't catch it.
"You," Will replies almost immediately. He grinds against Hannibal shamelessly, past the point of caring about poise or dignity. He wants to be owned, consumed. He wants Hannibal to take him, break him, fuck him until he forgets his name.
"I need you, please," He begs when Hannibal doesn't make any move to follow through.
Hannibal pulls away at that, eyes low and full of lust when he looks at Will. "Bed," He growls, and then he's pushing Will backward.
Will expects to hit the soft mattress and fluffy comforter of Hannibal's bed. He expects Hannibal to crawl over him, grind his hips down, and watch him fall apart like he always does. Instead, Will's mouth opens wide in a silent scream as he feels something sharp pierce through his body. He scrambles to move - to get up, to run away from the pain, to do anything - but Hannibal is there, hand pressed firmly onto his chest, pushing him down further.
Will watches with horror as the antlers pierce through his chest and abdomen and legs, like talons, claws gripping him tight. He stares up at Hannibal with wide, terrified eyes, and quickly realizes that they're no longer in his warm, comfortable bedroom, but instead they're in a large, open field.
Hannibal's eyes are still low with lust as he leans down over Will, pressing a hungry kiss onto his lips.
Will's room is dark when he awakes, sitting straight up with a gasping breath, reaching out for something sturdy to hold on to. Something to anchor him down. There's nothing, though, nothing but pitch black and he begins to panic, breath coming out in short bursts.
Hannibal. He needs Hannibal.
The only thing that stops Will short of a full fledged panic attack is the sound of one of his dogs' nails clicking softly on his wood floor, collar jingling as they come to check on him. He's alone in his room - Hannibal is probably at home sleeping comfortably in his own bed - and he's alive.
Even still, after he flicks on the light next to his bed, Will finds himself feeling along his chest and stomach for puncture wounds. There's nothing, and his mouth just tastes like spit and sleep, not like Hannibal. It was just a dream, as usual, but it felt so real.
He sighs, scrubbing a hand over his sweaty face, and leans up against his headboard.
He needs to tell Hannibal. He needs to tell him about the crime scene and Jack and the folder and what Alana said. He hadn't wanted to - he had even decided to stay at his own house instead of Hannibal's, so he wouldn't have to hide anything from him - but he knows that he needs to. If his dreams mean anything, it's that he needs to tell him. He needs to clear Hannibal's name.
When he closes his eyes again, it's a little after four in the morning, and he prays that he doesn't dream.
"What's troubling you, Will?" Hannibal asks as he opens the door to his office the next afternoon, allowing him to step inside. And though Will feels bad barging in on Hannibal while he's working - even if he does make sure that he shows up between Hannibal's patients - he needs to speak to him. And now.
His eyes are drawn upward as he takes in the large room again. It's been months since he's been here - if something's bothering him, he and Hannibal have taken to talking about it in Hannibal's living room, versus in his office - and Will had almost forgotten what it looked like. It's a little comforting, stepping into his office again. It's one of the first places that he really connected with Hannibal.
He turns quickly, suddenly worried that he interrupted something. He's never barged in on Hannibal like this before. Sure, he's shown up at his house unannounced, but never at his work. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" He asks, glancing around the empty room, "I should have called-"
"It's quite alright," Hannibal assures, cutting him off, "I was only about to eat lunch. Are you hungry?"
Will shakes his head numbly and watches as Hannibal circles around his desk and sits, pulling a container full of leftovers out. It's weird, watching Hannibal eat something that's not masterfully plated, and Will can't help the way that he stares for a moment before he takes his own seat across from him.
"You haven't visited me at work in a while," Hannibal notes, tone professional. Will finds himself wondering if he made the right move - if maybe things would have been more laid back and easy to talk about it he had waited until dinner that night - but there's no going back. "What's on your mind?"
Will sighs, leaning forward to scrub his hands over his face and through his hair. It's a nervous tick, and he's sure that Hannibal notices. "Do you remember how I said that Jack was hiding something from me?"
"No, just hear me out," Will interrupts before Hannibal has a chance to say anything that might actually make sense. He knows what he saw. And to his surprise, Hannibal just nods, motioning for him to continue. "We were at a crime scene yesterday, and everything was fine until Jack realized that it could be the copycat. He sent me home the second that he realized it."
"He's looking out for your well-being, Will," Hannibal assures in-between bites. "You need to distance yourself from the copycat."
"That's not all, though," Will presses, and though he's sure Hannibal wants to argue that he's just worried about nothing, he lets him continue. "I broke into Jack's office afterward-"
"I know," Will shoots back, realizing now how stupid it was of him. But had he not done it, he wouldn't have seen the folder. He can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it doesn't change the fact that he did. "It was a terrible idea. But I found the folder that he was hiding from me."
Hannibal motions for him to go on, though he looks a little amused that Will actually broke into Jack Crawford's office. And for a moment, Will is rendered speechless. He imagined this talk and all of the ways it could go a million times over in his head, but now that he's here, sitting in front of Hannibal, he's not sure what to say or how to say it. He doesn't want to give him the wrong impression or make him think that he believes Jack (he sure as hell doesn't) but he needs to tell him. Hannibal has the right to know.
Will swallows hard. "It was your file."
If he wasn't so used to Hannibal's company - so used to reading his expressions and the tiny, almost unnoticeable changes in his demeanor - he wouldn't have noticed the way that Hannibal's body stiffens slightly at his words. "He works for the FBI, Will," Hannibal finally says, his calm words betraying his body language, "I'd be surprised if he didn't have a file on me."
"But that's not just it," Will presses, desperate to make Hannibal see things the way that he does. "I wouldn't have thought anything of it if it was just your file, but there was more in it."
Hannibal is quiet, waiting for Will to go on, so he does. "They had photos of you, Hannibal. Of us. Recent ones."
"Jack Crawford is a smart man," Hannibal says, voice as calm and collected as ever, as if the new information hasn't affected him at all. "He probably noticed that we were spending more time together and got curious. You can't blame him for that."
"It's not that," Will pushes, becoming frustrated. He doesn't want Hannibal to think that he's being crazy or paranoid. He wants him to understand.
"Then what could it be?" Hannibal asks in return, humoring him.
"I talked to Alana after I saw the file," Will confesses. While he doesn't want to drag her into this, too, he has to prove to Hannibal that it's not all innocent curiosity. That there's something bigger going on. "Jack thinks that you're connected to the copycat murders somehow. And he thinks that the copycat is connected to the Chesapeake Ripper."
So basically, Jack thinks that you're the Chesapeake Ripper, he doesn't say. He's not sure if he'd be able to.
Hannibal sighs. "Jack is looking for answers in the wrong places."
"That's what Alana said," Will starts, "But still-"
"I'm aware, it won't change the fact that he's considering it," Hannibal agrees finally, "But he won't find anything."
"Hannibal," Will pushes. It frustrates him that Hannibal isn't more worried than he is. He was up all night, stressing about how to tell him and what to say, and Hannibal has barely even batted an eyelash.
"Jack Crawford's wife is dying," Hannibal says suddenly, "He feels powerless. There's nothing he can do to change the fact that he's losing her-"
"So he's trying to find power in something else?" Will offers.
Hannibal nods, "And what better way than bringing down the man that she confided in before him? He's just hurt and scared, but there's nothing he can do to bring me in. The only thing that he has possible proof of is that we're romantically involved, and he didn't have to hire someone to follow us around with a camera to discover that. All he had to do was simply ask."
"So you're not worried?" Will presses, even though Hannibal’s words make him feel a little better. He's right, there's nothing that Jack can do. He's just taking his frustration out in the only way he knows how to.
"No, not for myself," Hannibal answers. He reaches across his desk at that, fingers ghosting along Will's hand. Will's body thrills at the contact and he stares up at Hannibal with wide eyes. "I want you to be careful though, Will. If he's determined to connect me to this, he won't hesitate in manipulating you to do so."
It only takes a second before Will is nodding, murmuring, "I just want you safe."
"I will be," Hannibal assures, "If it will make you feel better, I can call my lawyer in the morning."
Will nods in return, and at that, Hannibal is standing and walking around the desk to Will's side where he leans down and presses a kiss to Will's forehead. "Dinner tonight?" He asks softly, lips brushing his hair.
Will nods, "I'll be there."
By the time Will awakes the next morning, alarm loud in his ear and Hannibal's arm draped around his naked waist, he feels refreshed. Between the talk at Hannibal's office and dinner and Hannibal's searing kiss that ended in the bedroom last night, he feels a lot better about everything. It doesn't change the fact that Jack Crawford has a folder on his lover hidden in his office, but it does help Will come to terms that there's nothing he can do about it. And it helps him realize that no matter what, Jack can't do anything. It'll blow over with time.
And with a full cup of coffee and a kiss goodbye, Will heads to work that morning feeling much better about things. Hannibal wouldn't betray him, and there's no way that Jack will take that away from him. He just needs to let things be, as much as he doesn't want to, and allow them play out. And he's completely prepared to do exactly that until Jack walks into his room in the middle of one of his lectures halfway through the day.
Will, determined not to let Jack's looming presence in the doorway intimidate him, actually manages to finish his lecture without any interruption, making Jack wait until he's done and students are filing out the door before he can talk.
"What can I do for you, Jack?" Will asks without looking up from the papers that he's gathering. The last thing he wants is to talk to Jack, knowing what he knows now, but he sucks it up. Hannibal would want him to.
"How are you, Will?" Jack asks in return, deflecting the question. His words are loaded, Will knows it, so he just shrugs in response.
"Are you sure?" He presses slightly, and Will almost loses it at that. He almost snaps and tells Jack to fuck off, that if it weren't for him and his stupid fucking folder, he'd be fine, but he doesn't. He keeps himself composed, cool and collected. It's not worth it. He doesn't need to know what you know.
"What do you want, Jack?" Will asks again, this time shorter, less polite, and more pointed. And at that, Jack finally drops the act, sighing.
"I've been thinking..." Jack says, voice careful. It's like he knows that he's treading on thin ice, and when Will just stares at him, waiting for him to go on, he does. "Maybe I have been pushing you too much. Alana has brought it to my attention, and I've decided that you need a break-"
"You already took me off of the case, Jack," Will interrupts, "Point taken. I won't push anymore."
"No, I-" Jack stutters, actually looking down. It's the first time that he's avoided eye contact with Will, not vice-versa, and Will takes note of it. It’s as if Jack's doing something that he particularly doesn't want to. "This isn't about the copycat case, Will."
Will raises his eyebrows, "Then what's it about?"
"Any cases," Jack replies shortly, "You need a break."
"I need a break?" Will echoes, voice raising, "Are you kidding me?"
"I'm the best that I've been in months," Will argues, visibly frustrated. He could handle Jack hiding shit from him and taking him off of the copycat and the Ripper case, but everything? Part of Will wonders if Jack thinks that he's in on something, too. "You've said so yourself," He adds, "I've been fine. I've barely been having nightmares, I haven’t been losing time, I-"
"Well, let’s keep it that way," Jack says, trying his best to keep his cool. It's apparent that he doesn't want to cause a scene. "Just... Think of it as a break."
"A mandatory, unnecessary break," Will supplies in a mocking tone.
And at that, Jack decides that he's said all he needs to say, and actually pats Will on the shoulder before spinning on his heel and making his way out of the room, calling over his shoulder, "I'll let you know when we need you."
"Yeah," Will bites back. His knuckles are turning white with the way that he grips the podium, heart pounding in his chest.
Once again - once he's calmed down a little bit - Will finds his feet numbly carrying him to Alana Bloom’s classroom. He wants to call Hannibal, wants to tell him about what happened, but he remembers his words. He remembers what Hannibal had said about Jack manipulating him - using him - to get answers. So instead, he goes to Alana for help, hoping she can shed some light on the situation again.
Will quickly notices that she's not surprised when he walks into her - thankfully empty - classroom. She greets him by standing from behind her desk, smoothing out her skirt. She looks worried, but not surprised. "Will-"
"Can you maybe help me understand what the fuck is going on?" Will snaps as he closes the distance between them, slamming his hands down on her desk, standing opposite from her. He realizes when she jumps in response that it's probably not the best greeting he could have managed, but he's angry and frustrated and confused. He can't help it. "Jack just took me off the case," He adds, voice a little lower, "Every case."
"This isn't fair," He interrupts, standing up straight again to run a hand through his hair. He paces back and forth in front of her desk a couple of times before he mutters, "I haven't done anything, and neither has Hannibal. I don't know what Jack's getting at but-"
"Will!" Alana finally yells, successfully shutting him up and causing him to stop pacing mid-step.
His eyes widen at the worried look creasing her face and he immediately feels terrible. "I'm sorry," He mumbles, dropping his hands and letting his body sag slightly, "I didn't mean to take it out on you it's just that-"
"It's alright," She interrupts, voice soft and soothing, "I understand."
Will sighs. "I just don't get it. Hannibal hasn't done anything. I've been with him more often than not these past few months, you'd think I'd notice if something was off. And it's not like Jack even has anything on him. He's just being paranoid."
It isn't until Alana doesn't say anything in response that he begins to worry, heart hammering in his chest again. "He doesn’t have anything on him, right?"
Alana sighs, sitting down behind her desk again. She stares down at her hands instead of meeting Will's searching eyes when she speaks. "I don't know," She finally murmurs.
"You don't know?" Will echoes. "What do you mean you don't know?"
"I mean that a lot of the things that Jack is saying are starting to make sense," She shoots, finally looking up at Will. Her eyes are hard and frustrated, but he can see right past them, right to the bone. She's worried - terrified, actually - and that scares Will, too.
"What do you mean?" He asks, voice numb.
"I mean that maybe you should listen to him," She replies, "Maybe you should distance yourself from the case. It'll be good for you."
"And Hannibal?" Will asks in return, even though he's scared of what he answer will be. Something about Alana's demeanor isn't right. She knows something that he doesn't, and she's not letting it go very easily. He knows he won't be able to get it out of her, and that scares him. Alana has always been honest with him.
She lets out a deep breath, pinching the bridge of her nose, a move Will is coming to know very well by now. "Will..."
"What's going on?" He presses, raising his voice again.
And after a beat of tense silence, Alana finally answers. "Maybe you should distance yourself from him, too."
"If Jack's as serious as he seems about this thing," She cuts him off, looking up at him with hard eyes, "The last thing I want is for you to end up tangled in it, too."
"So you're saying if Jack is going to bring him down, you don't want me to go down with him," Will infers, feeling anger bubble up in his chest. How dare she. She doesn't know Hannibal the way he does. She doesn't know all of the things he's done for him, all of the ways he's helped him.
"I'm saying that Dr. Lecter might not be who he says he is," Alana grits out, "And I don't want you to get hurt."
Chapter 4: True Face Exposed
The drive to Hannibal's house is the worst part.
Will's knuckles are white as he grips the steering wheel, eyes hard on the road in front of him. He doesn't even give himself the chance to call Hannibal before he's leaving, hopping in his car and taking off down the highway after his conversation with Alana. Their talk leaves him with a bad taste in his mouth and a sick stomach, and he just needs to get to Hannibal before he allows himself to think about things any longer.
Alana's words - he might not be who he says he is - stick in Will's head, floating around and tormenting him every time he tries to clear his mind, refusing to leave. The fact that she'd even suggest that Jack might be right makes Will want to be sick, and the fact that her words frighten him enough to leave work right then and there only make things worse.
But of course he goes to Hannibal. He'll always go to Hannibal. He's never failed him, never let him down before, so why would he start now? After all, he had made a lot of sense the other night. If Will were Jack, he'd be looking for any form of an answer, too. So why not Hannibal? Hannibal, the one man out of everyone who seemed to actually have his life together. The one man who could see right through all of them. It only made sense.
He doesn't knock when he reaches Hannibal's door, but instead just pushes his way inside. To his defense, Will hasn't used the doorbell in months now, and he's not about to start doing so now. And when he rounds the corner into the dining room and kitchen, he's met with the familliar sight of Hannibal, sitting at the end of the table, glass of wine and tablet in hand. He's probably reading the news or catching up on work or something and Will immediately feels bad for interrupting, but it couldn't wait.
"Will," Hannibal murmurs, shooting him a small smile. He glances at his watch, "I wasn't expecting you for another couple of hours."
"I know," Will replies quickly, and it isn't until then that he realizes that he's breathless, "I'm sorry."
"It's alright," Hannibal assures, and Will notices how his face creases with worry. He knows that something isn't right. "What happened?"
It isn't until then that Will breaks down. He wants to collapse, to sit down and let Hannibal take over. He wants to give Hannibal the reins and let him fix things, but he can't. He's scared and confused and completely unsure about everything right now. So instead of collapsing into the chair across from Hannibal, he paces, raking his hands through his hair again. "Jack's forcing me to take a break," He mutters, "He's not letting me on any cases."
"Will," Hannibal coos, standing and crossing the room. His looks says everything: he knew that Jack would do this. He knew that it was inevitable. He always knows. "I'm so sorry..."
Will shakes his head so fast it makes the room spin. "I just... I can't-" He takes a deep breath, attempting to compose himself before continuing, "Alana seems to believe him now, too. She told me to distance myself from you..."
"Maybe you should listen to her," Hannibal murmurs, voice quiet, and that seems to strike something in Will.
"What?" He snaps, eyes wide as they stare into Hannibal's, "You can't - you're not serious, right?"
"I am," Hannibal replies, somber. He reaches out, fingers brushing against Will's arm lightly. "I wasn't aware of how seriously Jack was taking things. The last thing I want is for you to get in trouble while he tries to bring me down. Maybe Alana is right, you should distance yourself."
"Are you kidding me?" Will shoots. He wants to shove Hannibal, wants to scream at him for even suggesting that he listen to her. Despite everything that has happened to him in the past months, Hannibal has always been there for him. Will can't imagine leaving him - abandoning him - just because of one ridiculous accusation. "You've been the one consistent good thing in my life these past few months," He says, though it comes out as a whimper, "And you just want me to leave?"
"I'm just looking out for you, Will-"
"And I'm just saying that I'm not leaving," Will bites out, "We can fight this. They're wrong."
It should surprise Will how quick he is to discredit Jack and Alana, as if Hannibal can do no wrong. He can't even entertain the idea that they might be right, and when he tries, it makes him feel sick, like his body is actually rejecting the idea of it.
"I don't want to bring you down with me," Hannibal explains calmly, "You've done nothing wrong."
"And you have?" Will asks in return. It's a rhetorical question, but it gets the gears in his head turning. What if Jack is onto something? What if Alana was right? What if Hannibal isn't everything he says he is? Will tries to remember the dates of the copycat murders, tries to figure out if they happened on days that he was with Hannibal or not. He probably has an alibi, right? He remembers back a couple of days, to the last crime scene he was at. The girl had been killed the night before. Will hadn't been with Hannibal then, and he even remembers thinking that the killer had him in mind when he chose the location.
When Hannibal doesn't say anything, Will panics. He cracks, voice trembling when he speaks again. "Is - is there anything I need to know?" He stammers, heart thumping and head spinning, "Before I get in too deep?" He wants to throw up at just the thought of Jack or Alana being right, but Hannibal's silence worries him. He has to ask.
In fact, all of the copycat murders felt specifically tailored for Will. They all felt so... personal. Like they were gift-wrapped just for him.
"You need to distance yourself, Will," Hannibal replies instead of answering his question. His voice goes an octave lower when he speaks, though, and it sends a thrill through Will's spine.
It would make sense, now that Will thinks about it. Hannibal does have a medical background. He's very particular about the food he cooks-
"But he's wrong, right?" Will presses, hands trembling. He takes a couple of steps backward, away from Hannibal's touch. Jack can't be right. "You said it yourself, he's looking for answers in the wrong places..."
"Will..." Hannibal coos. His voice is soft and comforting and Will wants to close his eyes and let it take over. He just wants to lean into Hannibal's touch and let him take care of things. He doesn't want to deal with this, doesn't want to believe it.
"Hannibal," He returns, taking another step back instead. As much as he wants to just close his eyes and believe everything that comes out of his mouth, he can't. Not now. Not with all of the questions and uncertainty swarming around in his head now. "Don't lie to me. Please. Not now."
And when Hannibal doesn't say anything, but also doesn't make a move to step forward or stop him, he manages to choke out, "Is Jack right?"
It's quiet for a beat, save for the loud ringing in Will's ears, and he almost doesn't hear it when Hannibal replies, but he does. God, he does.
"Oh god," Will chokes out, hands coming up to cover his mouth. He takes two more shaky steps backward until he's pressed against the counter, and then his eyes shut tight, waiting for the inevitable. His chest suddenly feels tight and he sucks in shallow breaths, struggling to breathe. His head is still spinning - in fact, it's worse - and with trembling hands, he reaches out to hold onto the counter, for fear of collapsing. It's strangely reminiscent, being on the verge of a panic attack in Hannibal's kitchen, and if it weren't for all of the other thoughts swarming around in his head, he'd be reminded of the first time they kissed.
Instead, when Will closes his eyes - he's sliding down to the floor now, against the counter - he's plagued by images from his nightmares. He can see, clear as day, Hannibal stalking toward him with dark eyes. He can feel Hannibal pressing him down onto the antlers, leaning in to kiss him hungrily.
He's struggling to breathe now, clutching at his chest, dizzy from the lack of oxygen, and when he finally does suck in a deeper breath, it's harsh. It burns as it goes down, scratching his throat, and he immediately starts coughing. His entire body is shaking like a leaf and he curls in on himself, hugging his knees to his chest.
If he could see himself, he'd be ashamed. This isn't how he's supposed to confront a killer. He knows that he has a gun, that he could easy pull it out and shoot, but he can't, not when the killer in front of him is Hannibal. Hannibal, his best friend, his anchor, his lover. And oh god, how was he so blind? He should have seen it before. He'd kissed him, slept with him, bared his soul to this man, and he couldn't tell. How was he supposed to? How could he ever known that the man who cradled him and kissed him and made careful, passionate love to him was a killer?
"Oh god," Will repeats, voice weak and raspy. He's still struggling to breathe, hiccupping and trembling, body heaving, but he manages to choke out, "You're going to kill me."
"Only if I have to," Hannibal replies, voice soft and close. Will realizes, without opening his eyes, that Hannibal is kneeling down next to him, close enough to touch. He squeezes his eyes even tighter, willing to disappear - to be anywhere but here - for this to be a terrible, terrible dream.
But it's very real. The tile floor is cold beneath him and he can feel Hannibal's eyes burning into him and he's still trying to ward off his panic attack, struggling to breathe deeply. The once warm and comforting kitchen is now frigid and distant and he doesn't feel safe, like he usually does in Hannibal's company. His entire life feels like it's been turned on its head.
"Was this just a game to you?" Will manages, voice small and shaky. He sounds like a small child, like a teenager, being dumped for the first time. It makes him feel sick.
"At first, yes," Hannibal replies, tone still light and soft. He's being honest, but it's coming all too late.
However, Will still rasps out, "And now?"
He hears Hannibal let out a deep breath. "I'd be lying if I said my feelings for you weren't true. Though I hadn't planned on you finding out this way, Will."
Will wants to ask him how. How had you planned on telling me? Was it going to be over dinner one night, light and conversational? Instead, he curls in on himself, muttering out, "I trusted you."
"I know," Hannibal murmurs. He reaches forward, hand light on Will's arm, and for a moment, he lets it linger. The touch is so soft, so familiar that he almost forgets that Hannibal is a murderer. Almost.
Will jerks back after a moment, eyes flying open and staring straight into Hannibal's. "Don't fucking touch me," He hisses, recoiling. Hannibal just looks calm and patient, as if he's actually waiting for Will to come around.
"Will," Hannibal presses, "You're having a panic attack. I'm trying to help you."
He hadn't realized, but now that Hannibal points it out, he's still drawing in sharp, shallow breaths. He feels dizzy again, and when he looks up, the room spins around him. "You - you're a monster," Will breaths out between hiccups.
"Yet you haven't tried to shoot me," Hannibal points out, very aware of the gun that Will is still concealing in his jacket, "And you haven't called Jack. Why is that?"
"Stop," Will wheezes, hugging his knees against his chest. Maybe if he just curls up in a ball and closes his eyes, this will all go away. "Don't do this."
"I'm trying to help you, Will," Hannibal murmurs softly, "Come here."
"No," Will scurries backward against the edge of the counter, "Please, stop."
Hannibal disregards his plea, reaching forward to pull Will close to him. And Will immediately tenses, preparing for the worst, waiting for the sharp pain of a knife, deep in his stomach or slicing his throat. Instead, he feels Hannibal's arms cradling him, holding him still, and he can hear a soft "shh..." against his hair.
"Please," Will whimpers against Hannibal's chest, and it's then that he realizes that he doesn't quite know what he's begging for. Seconds before, it was please stop, please don't kill me, but now, now, with Hannibal's careful hands cradling his head and his smell enveloping him, he's not quite sure. His head is light and dizzy. Please don't stop, please help me...
"Shh... It's alright," Hannibal murmurs, "Everything is going to be alright."
And, just like the first time - and every time - Will had a panic attack, Hannibal talks him down from it, slowly but surely, holding him securely in his arms. He's not even sure when Hannibal pulls him to his feet, or how long he's standing there before he's offered a glass of water and told to drink, but he obeys, even though the voice in the back of his head is screaming at him not to.
Once the water is gone, Hannibal rounds the counter again and wraps an arm around Will's waist, the other coming around to reach for his gun and pull it out of his coat. Will watches as his weapon, his one chance of getting out safely, disappears, but his mind is still fuzzy and he lets it happen.
He allows Hannibal to lead him down the hall, toward his bedroom, and it isn't until they reach the doorway that his legs practically collapse underneath him again. Hannibal holds him upright, though, and Will is silently thankful for it. He knows it's wrong - he should be running for his life or calling Jack or something - but apparently, Hannibal already has his claws in too deep. He should have seen this coming.
The room starts to spin once the door is shut, and it isn't until he's sitting on the bed, watching Hannibal remove his shoes, that he realizes that he's been drugged. He wants to panic, wants to run or fight or something, but everything is moving in slow motion and Will's limbs are numb and useless. "You drugged me," He manages to mutter, even though his tongue feels foreign in his mouth, "The water."
"Yes, I'm afraid so," Hannibal admits. He lifts Will's arms and pulls his jacket off, setting it neatly on the chest at the foot of the bed, "It was necessary, for tonight at least."
Will wants to argue, wants to curse at Hannibal and fight back, but he doesn't. Instead, he just watches in silence as Hannibal continues to undress him, pulling off his flannel shirt next. It isn't until he starts undoing the button of his jeans that Will panics, pulling away as much as he possibly can. "No, please, stop," He mutters, unsure if he's even saying it out loud or just thinking it.
"Will," Hannibal coos, as if he's amused by his movements, "I wouldn't rape you. I'm simply trying to get you ready for bed. Come here."
And, as if that was the most sound argument in the world - why would he rape you when he could already have you whenever he wants? - Will nods, allowing Hannibal to pull his jeans down and off. Once he's down to his t-shirt and boxers, Hannibal helps him further onto the bed and under the blankets, where he normally lies when he stays the night. Normally, because he's been sleeping with a killer for months now, and had no idea. Will feels a lump form in his throat and lets out a small whimper at the realization.
"It's alright," Hannibal soothes, climbing into bed next to him. He wraps an arm around Will's waist and even leans in to press a kiss to his temple. "Everything is going to be alright. You'll see."
Ahhh, I've been looking forward to posting this chapter! I hope you guys like it! :]
Chapter 5: Control, I Have Lost
I can’t take the way you look at me.
Control, I have lost.
There’s no sense in clawing myself out
And I know you can’t live without taking all that’s left inside my head.
Take a look at what's beneath your feet,
Flowers that once made you smile have turned to stone,
Now they're grinding down your teeth.
The walls around your mind can't keep you safe,
Build them up with steel and stone and watch your soul escape, away.
-"Quake" - Balance And Composure
* Warnings for this chapter include some smut/oral sex, gore, violence and shitloads of angst.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Oh god, Hannibal please," Will moans, arching up into his touch. Hannibal's fingers just barely, teasingly, brush the length of his erection and it causes Will to shudder, pressing his face into the crook in his neck. He knows that Hannibal loves to hear him beg, that he won't properly touch him until he does, and while it's totally worth it and Will doesn't mind, he always feels embarrassed at first.
"Come on," Hannibal murmurs softly, words of encouragement to coax him out. He nudges Will's head back so he can press another searing kiss onto his lips, sucking the bottom one roughly into his mouth. Will lets out a low, trembling moan in return, and he can feel Hannibal's lips curl up into a smile against him. "Just like that," He coos, "Come on."
He rarely talks in the bedroom, and the words are just added fuel to the fire, causing Will to buck up into his touch even more. "Fuck, please," Will mutters. He's babbling now, anything to get Hannibal to touch him, to fuck him. "I need you."
"What do you need?" Hannibal presses, accentuating it with a nip to his neck.
"I need you to fuck me," Will groans, entire body trembling when Hannibal finally wraps a hand around him, "Please, oh God please. Your hand, your mouth, anything-"
"Good boy," Hannibal returns, and the praise is almost enough to make Will come. Almost.
Within seconds, Hannibal is sliding down his body, wet mouth following as he goes, until he's level with Will's cock. And before Will has a chance to beg any more, his words are cut off by Hannibal swallowing around him, head sinking down until his nose brushes against his hair. Will's hands fly down, holding Hannibal in place and his hips buck up into the slick, wet heat of his mouth.
Hannibal knows exactly how to make Will beg, exactly how to make him come undone, and the eye contact that he keeps, even while he's sucking on the head of Will's dick is one of those things. His fingers are sharp, digging into the soft flesh of Will's hips, and he knows that they'll leave marks, but he doesn't care. Not with the way that Hannibal looks up at him, taking him deep into his mouth.
"Please, Hannibal, please," Will chants, hips canting upward. He's close now, only a little bit more...
He throws his head back, breaking the eye contact at the vibration of Hannibal moaning around him, mouth open in a silent scream. His tongue swirls around the tip, perfectly, just the way he likes, and his fingers dig harder into his hips. It isn't until he realizes that the press of them are about to pierce his skin, the pain almost outweighing the pleasure of Hannibal's mouth, that Will looks down at him again.
To his surprise, Hannibal has long since broken the skin. There's blood flowing freely out of his thighs and hips and Hannibal stares up at Will with hungry eyes - mouth still on his cock - as he slices into him, a knife suddenly in hand. Will wants to scream, wants to pull away because there's blood everywhere, even splattered up on Hannibal's face, but he's still thrusting up, up, up into his mouth, so close...
Hannibal's eyes are heavy and full of lust as he reaches forward and cuts a long, broad stripe all the way down Will's abdomen, opening him up.
Will comes with a scream.
When Will awakes, it's with a gasping breath, sitting straight up in bed. The images of his dream are still very prominent in his head - Hannibal's lust filled eyes, Hannibal's mouth on him, Hannibal slicing into him - and he shudders, suddenly cold, covered in a thin sheen of sweat. He blinks his eyes a couple of times, trying to wash the images from his head, and it isn't until then that he realizes where he is.
He's sitting in Hannibal's bed, half clothed and disoriented. He vaguely remembers the other man carrying him into the room, undressing him, and pressing a kiss onto his head, but he remembers it. He also remembers the realization that Hannibal had drugged him, as well as his admission. He wants to be sick - wants to get up and run to the bathroom and puke - with the knowledge that last night wasn't a dream, that Hannibal is a killer. He wants to punch himself for being so stupid, for not seeing it sooner, and for allowing the man to take him to bed afterward, but he can't.
Memories of Hannibal kissing him, Hannibal listening to him and taking care of him over the course of the past few months flash to the forefront of his mind.
I'd be lying if I said my feelings for you weren't true.
It may have been a lie - hell, Hannibal's obviously been lying to him since the moment that they met - but he can't get the words out of his mind. They're one of the few things that stop Will from screaming for help or calling the police, not that his phone is anywhere to be found, anyway.
Hannibal isn't in the bedroom and he realizes, when he glances at the clock, that it's well past ten in the morning. He's been asleep for more than twelve hours, though he's sure that being drugged will do that to you. Even still, with the knowledge that Hannibal drugged him - that he's the Chesapeake Ripper - and that there's a high possibility that he's cooking people for breakfast in the other room, Will finds that he's still hard from his dream as he sits up and swings his legs over the side of the bed.
He wonders how much of this Hannibal has planned out. He obviously had some sort of a sedative ready last night, so he had to have some idea that the truth was going to come out, but how far ahead was he thinking? He's obviously confident enough to leave Will alone in the bedroom - a bedroom with a window - so Will is certain that he's got that much planned out, which is the only reason why he doesn't try to sneak out the window and make a run for it.
Instead, Will finds himself pulling his own dirty jeans on over his boxers and opening the bedroom door, only to be met by the mouthwatering smell of Hannibal's cooking. He tries to talk his body out of it, tries to tell himself that it's probably human meat, but he can't help the way his stomach growls. He can't remember the last time he ate, and he's starving.
It's no surprise that Hannibal is completely dressed and showered and well put together, standing behind the stove when Will walks into the kitchen. He's probably been up for hours, planning this, and Will realizes, as he stares at Hannibal's familiar form, that he's trapped. He's been trapped since the day that the other man walked into his life, and he's trapped until the day that Hannibal decides to end it.
"Good morning, Will," Hannibal says smoothly, without even looking up from his cooking. Will freezes in return, standing just shy of his usual spot at the table. "I trust you slept well."
"I had a dream about you," Will mutters, voice sounding far away. He attributes it to the drugs, still probably swimming around in his system, and tries to ignore the sick feeling in his stomach.
"That so?" Hannibal asks, tone conversational. He spares a small glance Will's way, but nothing more, as if to tell him that he's not worried. That if he tries anything funny, there will be consequences.
Will swallows hard and when he speaks, he tries his hardest to make his tone venomous, "Yeah. You killed me."
"A bit morbid," Hannibal notes, turning off the stove. He plates their breakfast - it looks like pancakes and bacon and sausage - and while it smells delicious, the knowledge of what it really is makes Will feel even more sick.
"Well it's not like it isn’t going to happen," Will mutters, crossing his arms, and finally Hannibal actually looks up at him, eyes lingering for a long moment.
He sighs, "As I said, I do not wish to kill you, Will. Just as you don't want to kill me."
Will's lips form a tight line at that, because it's not all a lie. He had plenty of chances to shoot Hannibal last night - to kill him and end it all - but he couldn't. Who could blame him, really? Even if he is a murderer - a cannibal - he's still the most consistent, good thing that Will has had in his life for years. It's not just black and white anymore.
When Will closes his eyes, he can imagine the way that Hannibal kisses him softly, taking great care to make sure that he feels safe and loved. He can feel Hannibal's soft, gentle touches, can hear his quiet murmurs of affection.
"Are you hungry?" Hannibal asks, snapping Will out of his daydream. He opens his eyes and everything is very real again. Hannibal is still a killer, regardless of how he kisses or loves, and Will is still his prey.
He shakes his head no, but his growling stomach gives him away.
"You need to eat, Will," Hannibal presses, crossing the room to set his own plate down before setting Will's in front of him. Will flinches at the closeness - he could reach out and touch Hannibal if he wanted to - but he doesn't sit down.
"I don't want to," He mutters.
"Is it…?" He begins to ask, staring down at the meat on his plate. He can’t finish the question, though, and if he were to look up, he'd see the smile that curls Hannibal's lips at his words.
"Do you really have to ask?"
And that seems to do it. Will is running, then, hand covering his mouth, toward the bathroom. He barely makes it to the toilet before he's vomiting. There isn't much in his stomach to throw up, just water and the remainder of the drugs that Hannibal gave him and stomach bile, and within a minute, he's sputtering and dry-heaving. He realizes, as he clutches onto the porcelain, that he's crying, wet tears staining his cheeks, and he squeezes his eyes shut, willing for it to all go away. For it to be a bad dream. He wants nothing more than to wake up tomorrow in his own bed, covered in sweat from a nightmare.
But it's not going to happen. He's not stupid, and he knows it's not a dream. And he knows that the soft hand on the small of his back is very, very real. His body lurches at the realization that it's Hannibal comforting him, and though he wants to - tries to - shy away from the contact, he can't.
"Oh God," He mutters, pressing his head against the toilet seat and closing his eyes.
He's not sure how long he's there, on his knees on the bathroom floor, or how long it takes Hannibal to coax him out, but eventually, the other man pulls him to his feet and turns him around to wipe the corners of his mouth off with a handkerchief. "The drugs are still in your system," Hannibal explains softly, brushing hair out of Will's face. He should be embarrassed by the way he leans slightly into the touch, dizzy, but he can't think about it. Instead, his mind latches onto Hannibal's words, and how smooth and safe they sound. "Nausea is a common side effect, though it will go away sooner if you eat something," He adds, hand still softly petting Will's hair.
Will's eyes snap open at that, body tensing despite how badly he wants to just curl up and let Hannibal pet him all day. "No," He mutters, "I can't - I won't-"
"You don't have to eat the meat," Hannibal assures, smiling slightly at Will's reaction. He looks at him as if he is a child, refusing to eat their vegetables, and Will wonders how long their relationship has been like this. When he doesn't say anything, Hannibal's smile disappears and he adds, "I promise you, there's nothing in the pancakes."
And though Will wouldn't put it past him - the man's more than likely been secretly feeding him, and probably everyone else, human flesh for months - he nods shallowly. His body feels weak, and though he doesn't want to admit it, Hannibal is right. He needs to eat.
His mouth is dry as he forces himself to chew and swallow, sitting across from Hannibal at the table. He can't even really taste the food, but he forces it down both because he needs to, and because he doesn’t want to upset Hannibal. It isn't until he's almost done, only half of a pancake sitting in front of him that he finally gathers the nerve to speak up again.
"What are you going to do with me?" He asks numbly, very aware of the fact that Hannibal won't let him leave until he trusts that he'll keep their little secret. And even then, he's not certain that he'll be able to go home.
Hannibal narrows his eyes, as if Will's question hurts him, and Will can't help but note how much his demeanor has changed, ever since his admission. It's not like looking at a different person - no, he's still very much Hannibal - but it's as if he's taken his mask off. Will can see his face clearly now, where it was hidden before. It's like looking at him for the first time, and if he weren't slightly shaking with fear, he'd find it beautiful.
"If you think I'm going to hurt you," He says, careful not to say kill, "I told you before, I do not wish to."
"Then what are you going to do?" Will repeats, making sure not to meet his eyes, for fear that if he does, that he'll be in too deep. Hannibal's eyes always did him in. Whenever they would kiss, talk, make love, he'd yearn for that eye-contact, because it was real. Hannibal didn't look at him like something fragile or breakable, like everyone else, but instead looked at him like he was the finest creature he'd ever laid eyes on, and Will is certain that if he looks into those eyes now, he won't be able to look away.
Hannibal stands at that, walking around the table to Will's side, and Will looks away, hiding his face. It isn't until Hannibal is by his side that he feels the soft touch of his hand, gentle on his cheek that he finally gives in. And though everything in his body screams at him to run, to look away, he follows the touch and gazes up at Hannibal. His eyes are sad, as if he wishes that Will would just understand, and it makes Will's chest constrict. "We'll discuss that later," Hannibal says softly, thumb stroking his cheek.
And though Will wants that to be the end of it, he can't help but hold the eye contact, and rasp out, "Why me?" And when Hannibal cocks his head to the side, he explains. "You could have had anyone." Could have let anyone see this side of you. Could have ruined anyone else's life. "So why me?"
Hannibal smiles at that - it's a soft, sad smile - and leans down, so he's eye level with Will. "Will..." He murmurs, stroking Will's cheek gently. He pulls a loose strand of hair away from Will's face. "Because you have an extraordinary mind-"
"Hannibal," Will murmurs, and he's not even sure what he's asking for, but apparently the man cradling his face knows.
"Because you're the only one who could truly understand me," He murmurs, and then he's leaning in, pressing a soft kiss to Will's forehead. Will's eyes flutter closed at the contact, and he distantly wonders if this is what his life is going to be like now, knowing what he knows. Part of him is strangely okay with Hannibal feeding him and comforting him and taking care of him. Part of him wonders if Hannibal would kill for him.
"Even if you don't understand now," Hannibal continues, voice quiet, lips just barely brushing his hair, "You will."
He's not even sure how he makes it through the majority of the day, trapped inside of Hannibal's house with him, but somehow he does, and before he knows it, Will is sitting at the dinner table again, across from Hannibal. He made sure to prepare something vegetarian for dinner, and though Will couldn't identify it if he was asked, he's actually somewhat grateful for it. In fact, dinner goes by surprisingly well, even if it's a little quiet, until Hannibal finally breaks the silence as he gathers their dishes to clean.
"I've made arrangements for us," He announces as he rinses off one of the plates.
Will, still sitting at the table, staring down at his hands, looks up at that with wide eyes, "Arrangements?"
"Yes," Hannibal replies simply, "If things are becoming as serious as you say they are, Jack is probably working on a warrant right now, and will more than likely be here within the next couple of days to arrest me."
"And you don't plan on being here for it," Will infers, his mind working a little better than it had been in the morning. He feels clearer, without the drugs in his system.
"No," Hannibal answers. He doesn't even look up from the sink. "I don't."
"What kind of arrangements?" Will asks, suddenly feeling numb. He's certain that he knows what Hannibal means, but he needs to hear it out loud.
"I'm planning on leaving the country," Hannibal confirms, "And I'd like you to come with me."
Will clears his throat, "That's pretty non-negotiable, huh?"
"While I wish you'd come willingly," Hannibal answers, glancing up at him finally, "No, I’m afraid it's not."
"When?" Will asks. His voice sounds far away in his own ears.
Will wants to ask why he's even bothering with dishes, then. He wants to ask why he's bothering with anything, because suddenly, the reality of the situation hits him. Hannibal is leaving in the morning, fleeing the country because he’s a fucking serial killer, and Will is going with him. Either he goes with him, or he's going to have to die. Distantly, Will wishes he didn't have such a strong will to survive. If he didn't, he would have accepted his fate last night and pushed Hannibal into killing him. At least it would have been better than this.
Instead, Will sits, stock still at Hannibal's dinner table, body numb.
He realizes very quickly, that this will be the last time he's in familiar territory. It'll be the last time that he has any kind of control over his life. He also realizes that he'll never see Jack Crawford, or any of his fellow colleagues again. Even worse, he'll never see Alana - pretty, sympathetic, caring Alana Bloom - again. That part is almost the worst. Almost.
"My dogs," Will rasps suddenly, his heart dropping, "What about my dogs?"
Hannibal seems to sense his panic at that, because he's quickly dropping whatever he's cleaning and crossing the room. He's at Will's side in a moment, and Will looks up at him with empty, lifeless eyes. "Hannibal please," He begs, even though he still doesn't know what he's asking for.
Apparently, Hannibal does - or at least he knows what Will needs - because he pulls him up into a standing position in the dining room, wordlessly wrapping his arms around Will, who tenses at first, expecting the worst. It isn't until he feels the warmth of Hannibal's body instead of the sharp pain of a knife that he realizes that he's being hugged. Comforted.
He closes his eyes, and remembers a time, not too long ago, when Hannibal had hugged him tight, comforting him in the exact same way. He had come home from work to find one of his dogs ill - his oldest, a border collie named Bailey - and had rushed her to the vet. In the midst of his panic, Will had needed something or someone to calm him down, and didn't even think before he was dialing Hannibal's number. And while Hannibal wasn't overly fond of the dogs, he was waiting at the vet's office before Will even got there. He sat by Will's side the entire night, while he waited for test results. And when Will had to say goodbye to the sweet, old dog, Hannibal had held him as he cried. He had stayed at Will's that night, cradling him as he slept.
For a moment, with his eyes closed, Will lets himself imagine that things are the way they used to be. And in a way, with Hannibal's arms wrapped around him, they are the same. He still holds Will the same, arms soft and gentle, and Will is certain that if he leaned up and kissed him, he'd taste the same, too.
When he thinks about it, Hannibal is the same exact person that Will fell for. It's just that one small truth - the fact that he kills and eats people - that's driving space between them. And he knows it's fucked up, but he can't help the way he sighs out, squeezing his eyes tight as Hannibal hugs him.
"Can I see them again?" Will whispers against Hannibal's shirt after a few long moments. His voice is shaky and he sounds like a child, but he doesn't care. They're his dogs, god damn it. "Please? Just one last time?"
Hannibal sighs against him before pulling away, holding him at arm’s length. And when Will looks up at him, he realizes how much easier it is to hold eye contact, once he's stopped fighting it. It's wrong and fucked up, but so is the rest of his life, so what else is new?
"I don't think it would be good for you," Hannibal mutters, looking down at Will like he's sorry. Like he doesn't want to say it.
"Neither is sleeping with a murderer!" He exclaims in response. So much for accepting his fate. “But you didn’t seem to have a problem letting me do that.”
"Will..." Hannibal coos, reaching forward for him again, but he recoils.
"No!" Will yells, taking a step back, "No, this isn't fair!"
When Hannibal just watches at him, waiting for him to finish, Will actually steps forward and shoves at his chest. There's a fire in his heart and rage bubbling in his throat and Hannibal is in front of him, staring down at him like he actually feels bad and it's not fair. He punches at Hannibal's chest, and when it doesn't even seem to faze the other man, it only makes him even more angry. "You're a monster!" He shouts, all of his pent up rage and frustration from the last twenty-four hours coming forth. "I hate you!"
Hannibal just takes it, and it only makes things worse.
"I trusted you!" Will's voice breaks at that. His head hangs, hands pressed hard against Hannibal's chest. And Hannibal takes that as his chance to move, grabbing Will's wrists, stopping any further movements.
"I know," Hannibal murmurs, one hand coming up to stroke the back of Will's head softly, “I know.”
"You can't just take me away," Will sobs, begging, trying to find some way out of it.
Hannibal sighs. "Without me here, you know that Jack Crawford will come after you, just as he did with Abigail Hobbs."
"You don't know that," Will argues, though he knows it's a lie. It's true; completely obvious. Jack has already been suspecting him and distancing him. Hannibal doesn't even bother arguing that, either, because they both know that Will is wrong.
"Why don't you just kill me now and rid yourself of the hassle?" Will grits out at the silence.
Hannibal doesn't even respond to Will's request. It's out of the question. Instead, he sighs, "I'm truly sorry, Will, but it has to be this way."
"No it doesn't," Will sobs against his chest. His hands are gripping tight onto his shirt now, and he's certain that he's leaving tear stains on it, but he doesn't care. "Why couldn't you just let it be?" He asks, voice cracking again. He chokes out another sob, "You could have kept me in the dark."
"We both know I couldn't have," Hannibal argues gently, "You would have discovered me, one way or another."
"How do you know that?" Will asks, voice trembling with the question. "You don't know."
"You have a beautiful mind, Will," Hannibal compliments, "You may not be confident in it, but I am."
Will clutches onto him at that, face flushing at the praise. He should be embarrassed at how just one compliment from Hannibal can make his knees weak, but he can't help it, even now. But Hannibal's praise raises another question, and when he's confident that he can speak properly, Will manages to choke it out. "Do you wish I were more like you?"
"You already are," Hannibal whispers, leaning in. His breath is hot on Will's ear. The feeling of it and the sound of his voice makes Will shudder, but he doesn't pull away at his words, only clutches tighter onto him. "You just don't know it yet."
When Will doesn't say anything in response - what's he supposed to say to something like that? - Hannibal changes the subject, arms still wrapped protectively around his shoulders. "Your dogs will be fine," He assures, "I promise."
"You don't know that," Will argues again, fighting him all the way through.
Hannibal pulls away at that, so he can study him. Will shies away from the eye contact, looking down at his feet in return, but he can feel Hannibal's eyes burning holes into him.
"Do you trust me?" Hannibal asks suddenly, and the question almost makes Will laugh. If he weren't so terrified, he probably would.
"Seriously?" He manages, turning to look up at him.
If the question hurts him, Hannibal doesn't let it show. Instead, he just corrects his question. "Have I ever given you a reason not to trust me until now? Have I ever let you down?"
Will swallows hard. He doesn't want to give in, doesn't want to give him what he wants, but at the same time, he's aware that if he lies, Hannibal will know. He shakes his head shallowly. "No. No, you haven't."
"Do you trust me, Will?" Hannibal asks again, pressing harder, breaking Will just a little bit more.
He wants to lie, he really does, but he can't. Not looking up at Hannibal and his knowing eyes. "Yes," He mutters out, voice small, "I do."
"Then trust that I'm doing what's best for you," He says, quiet and quick, and before Will knows what's happening, Hannibal is moving fast, grabbing his right wrist tight in one hand. He wants to shout in pain - wants to tell Hannibal to let go - but then he's rendered speechless as Hannibal reaches for the counter, for the kitchen knife he left laying there.
Will tries to jerk away - oh god, this is it, he's going to kill you - but Hannibal's grip is strong. He absently wonders how many people Hannibal has killed, if his death will be anything special to him or if he'll just be another innocent life, taken way too soon, and he closes his eyes, bracing himself for the inevitable.
When he feels the sharp, stinging pain of the knife, his eyes snap open.
Though it hurts - the sharp blade cutting easily into his flesh - it's not where he expects the pain to be, and Will stares with wide eyes as Hannibal slices the palm of his hand open. His other fist clenches at the front of Hannibal’s shirt with the pain, but he doesn't pull away, doesn't try to escape. Instead he watches curiously as Hannibal turns his hand and squeezes, letting the blood drip quickly and pool on the clean floor of his kitchen.
His mind fills with images of his dream last night. Of Hannibal, slicing him open, bathing in his blood.
"What-" Will finally breaths out when no more pain comes and Hannibal sets the knife down carefully on the counter after a few long, agonizing moments.
"They'll find your blood here-" Hannibal explains, reaching forward to the dinner table to grab a cloth, wrapping it around Will's injured palm. The feeling of the cotton on his cut stings and he winces, but he doesn't take his eyes off of Hannibal. "-and your phone in a ditch just outside of town, and assume the worst."
Will realizes that Hannibal is talking about Jack and the FBI, about throwing them off of their trail, making them think that he's dead, and he can't deny that it sounds like a decent plan. If he were on the case, he'd see right through it, but Jack won't. He'll be too blinded by his anger and frustration and the pain of losing another agent to the Chesapeake Ripper.
"They won't find my body," Will breaths, staring up at Hannibal with wide eyes, "Just like Miriam. Jack will lose it." Hannibal's eyes light up at his words, corners of his mouth turning up into a small smirk, and Will knows that it's exactly what he wants.
Hannibal reaches down at that, lifting Will's injured hand to inspect it. He dabs at it with the cloth before dipping a finger down, wiping stray blood clean off of his wrist. And Will can't help the small gasp that he makes when Hannibal brings the finger up to his own mouth, licking it clean. It shouldn't surprise him, Hannibal lapping up his blood like it's a delicacy, and maybe it isn't surprise that leaves his mouth hanging open when he watches Hannibal repeat the action. Maybe it's the low, lustful look in Hannibal's eyes as he does it. He looks at Will like he does in the bedroom, crawling over his naked body before kissing him passionately and murmuring, "Tell me what you want."
And maybe that's why he lets Hannibal lean in at that, fingers raking gently though his hair, before he presses a hungry kiss to his lips. Or at least it'll be his excuse, when he finds himself lying in bed later, thinking about the way that his body melts against Hannibal's at the kiss.
He doesn't move at first, left hand hanging uselessly at his side, injured one pressed between their chests. He doesn't move, but he opens his mouth without having to be asked twice, allowing Hannibal's taste - and the salty, iron flavor of his own blood - flood his senses. His arm eventually wraps around Hannibal's shoulders as the kiss deepens, and as it does, any thoughts of running away or trying to escape fly out the window.
He's trapped - maybe not even against his will - and he can't even bring himself to care. The pain in his hand feels sharp and bright, but the rest of him is terrifyingly numb.
This was one of my favorite chapters to write, so I hope you guys enjoyed it!
Chapter 6: I Just Don't Feel Like Myself Anymore
You can find me drifting slowly sinking beneath the sea
Try to catch my breath, a silent struggle drowned in my apathy
I'm still caught up in all the things I know I'll never be
- "Most Of The Time" - Turnover
*Warnings for this chapter are mostly just angst and a fleeting mention of suicide
Will barely sleeps that night.
Hannibal insists that he get some rest - they have a long plane ride ahead of them in the morning - but he doesn't. Instead, he sits up in bed, staring down at his injured hand. There's a clean bandage on it now, holding it together, and he picks at it mindlessly. The pain killers do their job in numbing the throbbing, but it doesn't change the fact that it's still there, and it doesn't change the fact that there's a pool of his blood drying on the floor in Hannibal's kitchen.
It also doesn't change the way he kissed Hannibal back, hungry, even as his blood spilled between them and onto the floor.
And when he does sleep - for two whole hours - he dreams about his dogs. Thankfully, it's mostly blurry (he can't remember most of it, it's like looking through someone else's glasses) but he still remembers walking into his house in the dream to blood. Thick, red blood, spilling out the front door and onto the porch. And when he steps inside the house, red fluid coating his bare feet, he's met with the image of his beloved pets - his loyal, loving companions - dead. Hannibal sits in the middle of the room, knife in hand.
And when he awakes, it's to Hannibal's soft voice, drifting into the bedroom. "It's time, Will," He hears him (and sees the Hannibal in his dream) say. His eyes blink open, and the first thing he notices is the lack of sunlight shining in through the window. It has to be just barely dawn, and he yawns, already exhausted from lack of sleep.
He can feel Hannibal's presence still in the doorway and sits up to look at him. Hannibal smiles slightly in return. He's holding two suitcases in his hands, just enough for the both of them, for now. "Did you go to my house?" Will asks sleepily, blinking at him. The images from his dream flash to the forefront of his mind and he feels his chest constrict. He wouldn't...
"No," Hannibal replies, "I packed the clothes that you had left here, among some of mine that may fit you."
"Oh," Will breaths, staring down at the bags in Hannibal's hands. "So I should-"
"Yes," Hannibal answers before he has a chance to ask, "You need to be ready in an hour."
An hour. An hour to get ready. An hour to say goodbye to home, and it's not even his real home. Will suddenly wishes he was in Wolf Trap, but he knows it's not going to happen. So wordlessly, he stands and heads to the bathroom.
Will shuts and locks the door behind himself before turning the water on, then turns to look at himself in the mirror. His appearance hasn't changed since the last time he caught his reflection, but he feels like he's looking at a stranger when he stares into the glass, hands holding him up against the sink. There are dark circles under each of his eyes from lack of sleep and his hair is disheveled, but that's not what's different. It's the darkness - the monster - lurking behind his eyes.
He remembers kissing Hannibal last night, bleeding on the kitchen floor, and the rush it had given him. He remembers feeling a thrill of terror, but also of excitement knowing that they'd be gone in the morning - that Jack would find the blood and assume the worst.
That’s what he gets for distancing me.
Will shakes the thought from his head and rubs his hands over his face a couple of times, trying to scrub away his thoughts.
No, he's not the same person he was a month ago. Hell, he's not even the same person he was three days ago. He barely recognizes himself, and he knows, staring into the glass as it fogs up around him, that he's only going to change more, under Hannibal's influence. He feels a pit in his stomach as he turns away from his reflection.
He pulls the used bandage off of his hand and discards it, staring down at the large cut that spans out over his entire palm. He probably needs stitches - it's deep and gaping and still bleeding, even just slightly - but he knows it's not going to happen. It's going to heal ugly. It’ll turn into a large, nasty scar, a constant reminder of Hannibal. A constant tether to Hannibal, keeping them together. He runs a finger over the sensitive skin, gathering just a bit of blood, and before he knows what he's doing, he's drawing it to his mouth and licking it clean.
He's sure there's some kind of metaphor in there, but he's running on no sleep and it's getting steamy and a hot shower sounds really nice, so he shrugs out of his clothes and steps into the running water. His mind is running so fast, trying to imagine all of the ways that things could go, that everything else is on overdrive. He doesn't even realize that he's washing his hair until he feels the sting of shampoo on his cut, and even then, he just keeps moving, working through the pain.
Jack could catch them before they even get to the airport, or they could show up to find out that they've been put on a no fly list, just in case. Or, just maybe, things could go fine. He realizes belatedly that he's thinking about both of them getting caught and arrested, not just Hannibal, and it should worry him more than it does. Apparently, they're a package deal now. Apparently, he is Hannibal's pet. Wherever he goes, Will goes, too.
When Will finally climbs out of the shower, he only has forty minutes to get ready, and the bathroom is filled with steam. He wraps a towel around his waist before opening the bathroom door, and when he does, he finds that his clothes have been neatly laid out on the already-made bed, and Hannibal is nowhere to be found. Normally, he'd smile at the gesture, but he can't now and he foregoes changing to make his way out of the room and down the hall, in search of a new bandage.
The blood on the kitchen floor is a dark, deep reddish-brown now that it's dry, and Will can't take his eyes off of it when he enters the room, stopping dead in his tracks. He doesn't even notice Hannibal, just on the other side of the counter, making coffee.
"Will?" Hannibal asks softly, voice snapping him out of his trance.
"Hey," He replies, voice suddenly gone. He doesn't know what to say, so instead, he just holds his hand out, palm up. "I, uh..."
Hannibal is moving within a couple of seconds, dropping what he's doing to lead Will back to the bedroom where he waits as Hannibal grabs a bandage and some ointment from the bathroom. And Will just watches him with wide eyes, silent as he takes his hand. Hannibal hums, running a finger softly over the lips of the cut before covering it gently with the bandage. "You need stitches," He mutters as his gentle hands work over the wound.
Maybe you should have thought about that before you cut me, Will doesn't say. He can't, with his voice still caught in his throat. Instead, he just stares at Hannibal - at how gentle and careful he is, treating his hand. He almost finds it hard to believe that he's the same man who sliced into it last night, who's killed countless people just because, and fed them to him. No, now, he's just Hannibal. Hannibal, his lover, taking care of his injured hand.
"Finish getting ready," Hannibal says, voice a little harder, more authoritative once he drops Will’s hand, "I'll be packing the car, if you need me."
Will just nods in return, and once Hannibal is out of sight, he wordlessly drops the towel and grabs his clothes off of the bed.
Ten minutes before his hour is up, Will begins to panic.
Ten minutes. Ten minutes before he climbs willingly into a car with Hannibal Lecter and leaves everything that he knows and loves behind. Ten minutes before he gives up everything good about himself. Once these ten minutes are up, he's officially an accomplice. He'll be caught in Hannibal's web until he dies. Though, he's certain, that was always the case.
He's going crazy, and he knows it. One minute, he's looking up at Hannibal as he bandages his wound - the wound that he created - like he's the only person that matters. He looks at Hannibal then, and he doesn't see a monster. He sees the gentle, passionate lover that he's known for months now, and the intelligent, caring friend that he's known for even longer. For just that moment, Hannibal is Hannibal, and that's all that matters.
And then, Will is alone, and he's fighting off the beginnings of a panic attack because Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper. He kills and eats people, and he's leaving the country, taking Will as his hostage. He's the Ripper, and Will has kissed him, confided in him, made love to him. He wants to be sick. He wants to smash the bathroom mirror in because he can't even look at himself anymore, and he wants to slit his wrists with the shards of glass and bleed out on the bathroom floor. He wants to die, he wants to be anywhere but here. He's ashamed in himself, ashamed of how easily he gave up and caved in. He's ashamed at how easy it was to close his eyes last night and kiss Hannibal, and pretend that everything was alright.
And then, Hannibal is walking in the bedroom, holding out his arm, and - with only a small hesitation - Will is taking it and following him.
He can't tell if it's fear or excitement that pumps through his veins as he climbs into the passenger seat of Hannibal's car.
Jack Crawford isn't waiting outside for them when they pull away from the house. There's no SWAT team, no undercover car watching them, nothing. It's not exciting and not nerve wracking, just quiet. The radio in the car is turned off, and Will stares silently ahead, watching as they pass by houses and trees and cars and get onto the highway. The sun is just coming up now, just barely peeking up over the horizon, and under any other circumstances, Will would find it beautiful. Instead, he just feels numb.
"Where are we going?" He asks, suddenly aware that he's about to board a plane with no knowledge of where they're going or how long they're going to be there. Forever? He wouldn't doubt it...
"Florence," Hannibal answers, eyes never leaving the road.
"Oh," Will breaths. He stares straight ahead as well, trying not to let his nerves show.
Hannibal leans over and reaches into the glove compartment of his car at that, and Will watches as he rummages around before pulling out two passports. He hands one to Will and pockets his own. "Your name is Alexander Williams," Hannibal announces, side eyeing Will before continuing, "You're from Denver, Colorado. Memorize it."
It hits Will hard then that Hannibal had planned this, all of it. Maybe it hadn't played out exactly how he wanted it to - he had seemed a little nervous at the news that Jack was onto him - but he had everything, even a fake passport for Will prepared. Regardless of the circumstances, he had been planning on fleeing the country and taking Will with him. "This is going to work?" He asks, turning the passport over in his hands. It looks exactly like his own, save for the vital information. Even his birth date is different.
"Yes," Hannibal replies, glancing at him, "It will."
"You've been planning this," Will mutters.
"More or less," Hannibal answers. He turns his gaze back to the road as he speaks. "I hadn't known for sure if I would bring you until we became intimate, but I had hoped you would come willingly."
And I did.
Will swallows hard. "Won't they know that you - we left once they find your car at the airport?"
"Yes, I suppose so," He answers, "I have no ties to Florence, though. They won't be able to make the connection. Not without your help. "
Will closes his eyes tightly.
"And they won't find your car until long after we're gone."
It should scare Will how neatly planned and organized their getaway is, but surprisingly, it doesn't. He feels nervous, yes, and quite a bit ashamed of himself, and maybe just a little scared, but less than he should be. Even now, knowing what he knows about Hannibal, he's like a lifeline to Will; still the one thing that keeps him grounded.
In retrospect, he probably planned that too. He more than likely knew how dependent Will would be on him, and used it to his advantage, but still, his words echo in Will's ears:
I'd be lying if I said my feelings for you weren't true.
Will swallows the lump in his throat and resists the urge to grab Hannibal's hand. He's determined to maintain a little bit of pride, even if all he wants is the comfort of the other man's touch, so instead, he folds his own hands neatly in his lap. He may be dependent on Hannibal, but he doesn't have to show it.
The airport is busy, despite the fact that it's still relatively early by the time they arrive, and Will follows Hannibal through the crowd of people, mind swarming. What if someone sees them? What if they get caught on a security camera? He tries to breathe deeply, but it doesn't work too well, and by the time they're checking in their baggage and he’s handing his fake passport over, Will is on the verge of a panic attack. The sounds around him are too loud, lights too bright, eyes of passers-by lingering too long.
"Is he alright?" Will distantly hears an employee - the woman that Hannibal is talking to - ask, and he realizes that she's talking about him.
Oh god, she knows.
"Yes," Hannibal replies, reaching back to grab one of Will's hands. He wants to jerk it away, wants to yell at Hannibal and tell him that he can do this on his own, that he's not dependent on him, but he can't. His voice catches in his throat, and as much as he doesn't want to, he laces his fingers though Hannibal's and squeezes his hand. The contact immediately grounds him. He feels his heart rate slow. He closes his eyes.
It feels like an eternity before Hannibal speaks again, but in reality it's only a couple of seconds before he's smiling and adding, "He's afraid of flying."
The woman apparently buys it because she says something along the lines of, "Poor thing, it happens all the time," and then she's taking their bags, handing Hannibal their tickets, and wishing them - especially Will - a safe flight. And he manages to mutter out a soft thank you before they're walking away, heading toward their gate.
Will wants to drop Hannibal's hand like it's on fire the second they walk away, embarrassed because he's clinging onto it like a small child would cling to their mother, but he can't bring himself to. He just squeezes tighter, and Hannibal glances down at him in response, shooting him a small smile. His thumb runs gentle, soothing circles into the top of Will's hand as they walk.
It doesn't take long before they arrive at their gate, and with twenty minutes to spare. Hannibal leads Will over to an empty row of chairs, away from the crowd, where they sit and finally Will lets go of his hand. His head feels clearer, away from the large crowds and judgmental eyes. He takes a deep breath and exhales shakily, trying to relax.
"Would you like something to eat?" Hannibal asks, leaning in to study his face. He actually looks concerned, and it's not a bad look on him, though Will wonders if it's genuine.
Will shakes his head no quickly. "I don't want to move," He mutters out. He feels weak, confiding in Hannibal, but he really doesn't have any other options.
"I'll go for you," Hannibal insists, and Will's eyes fly open at that. He hadn't even realized that they'd been shut.
"You'd trust me alone?" He asks, voice barely above a whisper. It wouldn't take much for him to find an employee or security guard and alert them that he'd been kidnapped, or find a payphone and dial Jack Crawford's number. He's sure that it's a test, that Hannibal wants to see if he'll behave, but he has to ask.
"You haven't given me a reason not to," Hannibal replies, hand suddenly on Will's knee. He knows within that exact moment that even if Hannibal was out of sight, he wouldn't move or seek help. He's under his spell, and the calm feeling that washes over him at Hannibal's touch it a constant reminder of that.
Will nods at that, turning from his knee to look at Hannibal. "Coffee," He says breathlessly, "And a pastry."
Hannibal nods at that, smile creasing his face, obviously pleased with himself. He leans in at that, placing a quick kiss to Will's temple, squeezing his knee just a little too tight with his thin fingers, and then he's standing and walking toward the nearest coffee shop. And Will sits like an obedient puppy, the kiss still lingering on his skin.
Will can see Hannibal from where he sits, standing in line. He doesn't turn around, though, doesn't look to check and make sure that Will is obeying, and Will can't decide if it's because Hannibal trusts him, or if it's a game that he's playing, if it's a test. Either way, whether it's because he's scared to, or because he genuinely doesn't want to move, he's not sure, but Will stays in place, waiting patiently for Hannibal to return. When he does, it's with two large coffees, a bear claw, and a soft smile directed at Will. He half expects the other man to say something along the lines of good boy when he sits down, but he's silent, sipping on his coffee alongside Will.
"Are you nervous?" Hannibal asks at last, once Will is just finishing his food.
Will glances up at that, weighing his options. He could lie, tell Hannibal that he's completely fine with everything (which, let’s be honest, he would probably see right through) or he could tell him the truth, which seems like the better option. He sighs, looking away to avoid eye contact, "Why wouldn't I be?" It's not really an answer, but it's also not a lie, and it's definitely not him giving in to Hannibal's impromptu therapy in the middle of the airport.
He can see Hannibal studying him carefully, like he would in his office, out of the corner of his eye before he speaks. "Florence will be good for you," He assures, voice soft. If Will didn't know better, he'd say that Hannibal actually cares about his well being. Hell, maybe he does. He's not even sure at this point.
"It's not Florence that I'm worried about," Will mutters under his breath.
"Then what?" Hannibal asks, and Will looks up at him at that. He opens his mouth to speak, but thankfully he's cut off by an announcement that their flight is now boarding. And before Hannibal has a chance to push any further, Will stands, hoping that he drops it. Apparently it works, too, because then Hannibal is standing as well and taking Will's hand - he lets Hannibal lace their fingers together without a fight - and leading them toward their gate.
Will breaths a sighs of relief, glad that they didn't have to talk about things. He knows that they will eventually, but he'd rather avoid it as much as possible. He doesn't want to have to tell Hannibal that it's not Florence that he's worried about, but that it's the fact that he might actually be okay with the way things are turning out. In the back of his mind, he's almost grateful that Hannibal is dragging him away from everything. In the back of his mind, the cut on his hand - the one that Hannibal's palm is pressing softly into as they walk toward their gate and everything he knows and loves - feels good.
Chapter 7: You're Awful, I Love You
Hey guys! Sorry it took a little while for this update. I've been super busy these past couple of weeks and haven't really had the time to sit down and get it up. Thanks for being patient with me! The next update will be up a lot sooner, I promise.
*Warnings for this chapter include panic attack and drugs.
The reality of their situation doesn't fully hit Will until the plane takes off. Once they're in the air, there's nothing he can do. They're headed out of the country, away from everyone and everything, and Will watches in defeat as the buildings below them turn into small specks before disappearing completely, until they're just green and brown patches, obscured by clouds.
Hannibal's hand still rests on his injured one, and though he tries to block it out, Will can feel the persistent throbbing of his wound, a constant reminder of who exactly Hannibal is. Even though he fits in seamlessly - he looks comfortable and at ease, dressed down in just a button up shirt, a blazer and some slacks - Will knows it's a disguise. He's seen the monster behind the mask, and the throbbing in his hand only reminds him of it.
Don't get too comfortable around him. He's not what he says he is.
Hannibal squeezes his hand softly, reassuringly, and it isn't until then that Will realizes that he's breathing sharply, chest heaving. He's on the verge of a panic attack and he hadn't even realized it. And of course, it's Hannibal - the gentle squeeze of his hand bringing him back down and a soft smile - that pulls him back from the brink. Which is ironic when he thinks about it, because he wouldn't be hyperventilating if it weren't for Hannibal.
"Do you need anything?" Hannibal asks softly, and when Will looks up again, he realizes that there's a flight attendant standing next to their isle, waiting patiently for him.
"Just - just water," He croaks, and as the woman grabs it and whatever else Hannibal requested, he listens to him tell her - just like the woman at the airport - how Will is afraid of flying. He wants to correct him - no, I'm just afraid of what he's going to do to me once we're alone - but he doesn't say anything, and just thanks the flight attendant before she walks away.
Hannibal slides him his water, squeezing his hand softly again before picking it up and examining it. The bandage is dirty - it probably needs to be changed soon - and Hannibal soothes his thumb over it before speaking. "Does it hurt?"
Will wants to lie, doesn't want to seem weak, but he can't. Instead, he nods shallowly. "Yes."
"Here," Hannibal murmurs, reaching into the bag between his legs to pull out a bottle of pills. He pours two into his hand before handing them to Will. "Take these. They'll help with the pain."
Will eyes him suspiciously, but takes the pills. Drugs or not, if it'll help with the throbbing in his hand, he'll take them. Anything to numb the constant reminder screaming at him on his palm.
Hannibal is a killer. He's the Chesapeake Ripper. He's probably going to kill you too.
Will swallows both of the pills in one gulp, then leans back and closes his eyes. He imagines that he's on a plane heading somewhere warm and nice and safe. He finds himself remembering a trip he took with his family to Florida when he was little - the warm, humid air and white beaches. He remembers how young and carefree he was then, running along the shore, looking for seashells and shark's teeth, and imagines that the plane is taking him there. He smiles at the memory.
"Better?" Hannibal's voice wakes him from his daydream after a few long minutes, and Will's eyes snap open. When they do, his vision is blurry, unfocused. He blinks a couple of times, but it doesn't change. He feels tired and almost wants to just close his eyes and let the sleep consume him, but he doesn't. Instead, he blinks through it, turning to look at Hannibal.
"Did you drug me?" Will hisses through gritted teeth. His voice sounds loud in his own ears, even though it's barely above a whisper.
"Shh..." Hannibal soothes, hand suddenly on Will's knee. He wants to swat it away, but he can't move. Instead, he just stares at the hand, wishing his eyes could burn a hole through it. "You need to relax," He soothes, "It'll be much easier if you do."
"You drugged me," Will whispers again, voice slurring.
"Only because you needed it," Hannibal assures, but his voice sounds far away. Will lets his eyes slip closed, and soon, all he can feel is the hand on his knee, Hannibal's voice in his head. "Sleep, good Will," He murmurs, thumb rubbing soothing circles into his knee, "You'll feel better if you do."
When Will wakes, it's because Hannibal is nudging him softly, telling him that they've landed.
"Already?" Will slurs, vision still blurry.
He can see Hannibal smile softly, "We have a layover."
Will remains in a haze, even as he trails after Hannibal, following him off of the plane and through the airport. He distantly registers when Hannibal hands him a cheeseburger and something to drink, and though he wants to remember what it's like seeing Hannibal of all people, carrying around fast food, he probably won’t. After he eats, everything else goes by in a blur, and soon, he's sitting next to Hannibal on another plane, watching the earth zoom by beneath them as they take off again.
"When will this wear off?" Will asks, tongue feeling foreign in his mouth when he speaks. He wonders if he looks ridiculous to anyone else, trying to function and talk while obviously drugged, but he doesn't notice anybody staring.
"Soon," Hannibal replies, though it vague, "Sleep now, Will."
"I don't want to," He mutters, even as he yawns. His eyes slip closed, and much like last time, he feels Hannibal's hand on him, rubbing soft patterns into his skin as he drifts off.
When will wakes again, it's just as they're preparing for a landing over a dark, unfamiliar country. He stares out the window, watching as the small specks of light become larger dots and eventually form roads and buildings and streetlights. And as much as he wants to be scared - he's in unfamiliar territory now, with only Hannibal to lead him - he can't help but become mesmerized by the new shapes and lights that slowly come into focus.
The drugs have finally worn off, and even though he's slightly hazy with sleep, he feels better. Maybe Hannibal was right...
He glances to his right at that to find that the man next to him is very much awake and watching him as if he's the most interesting thing in the world. Hannibal smiles slightly when Will's eyes come to land on him. "Beautiful, isn't it?"
Part of Will wants to bite out a sarcastic remark - "Are you talking about Florence or me, Dr. Lecter?" - and he normally would, but given the circumstances, he bites his tongue. "Yeah," He mutters out instead, turning again to look out the window. He can practically hear Hannibal's disappointment in his response.
"How are you feeling, Will?" He asks, just as they touch down. Will is fidgeting in the seat next to him by the time they hit the ground, already nervous for what's to come, and of course Hannibal notices. He always notices.
Will scoffs, but doesn't take his eyes off of the tarmac. Part of him is actually scared that if he looks at Hannibal, he won't be able to get the words out. "Besides being drugged?"
"Besides that," Will mutters, "Fine. A little hungry, maybe."
"It was in your best interest," Hannibal insists.
And Will can't help but turn at that, eyes coming to land on his captor as he bites out, "Was it?"
"Yes," Hannibal assures, quickly changing the subject when Will's harsh tone begins to draw the attention of a woman a few seats over. Hannibal is already aware that she doesn't speak much English, but regardless, he'd rather not attract unwanted attention. "What would you like to eat?"
Will is silent for a beat, weighing the outcome of his next words before muttering, "Not people."
Hannibal doesn't even try to hide the small smirk that graces his face.
Will follows Hannibal through the airport and to baggage claim with crossed arms and a scowl etched onto his face. He's certain that he looks like a child throwing a tantrum, stomping after Hannibal as he makes his way gracefully through the crowd, but he doesn't care.
If he wouldn't have drugged me, it would be a different story.
Still, regardless of his anger and frustration and the fact that he's alone with Hannibal in a foreign country, he still takes his suitcase when it's handed to him, and he still follows Hannibal outside to where a car is already waiting for them, ready to go. It's not a cab - more than likely a rental - and Will realizes again how far in advance Hannibal must have planned things as he climbs into the passenger seat after him.
It's silent in the car for the first few minutes of the drive. Will can't help but stare out the window, watching the new buildings and landscape go by, but he's still the first to speak.
"Where are we going?" He asks, tearing his eyes away from the window to look at Hannibal.
He looks at ease - at home - behind the wheel of the expensive car, and Will can't help but note that this is Hannibal's habitat. This is where he belongs. He always knew that Hannibal didn't belong in Baltimore. He's too refined, too elegant. No, Florence suits him much better.
"We're staying in a hotel, for the time being," Hannibal replies, eyes unmoving from the road, "Until I find us something more suitable."
Us. Part of Will wants to cringe at the word, but another part of him (the part that decides to remain blissfully ignorant of Hannibal's true nature) thrills at the idea of the word and what it entails. "Oh," He manages to breath, trying to keep his emotions in check.
No breaking down. Not here, not now.
"You'll have your own bed, if you'd like," Hannibal insists, as if to make him feel better or more comfortable.
And maybe it's just then that everything finally hits Will, sitting next to Hannibal in Italy, listening to him talk about finding them a place to live, but suddenly, he's squeezing his eyes tightly shut and pulling his knees up to his chest, sucking in deep breaths, desperately trying to calm himself. He had tried to block everything out before by entertaining the notion that Jack would catch them, that they wouldn't even make it to the plane. He had been somewhat okay with being caught and even arrested as Hannibal's accomplice if it meant staying in the states.
Between the drugs that Hannibal had given him and the fact that everything seems to be happening so fast, it all hits him at once. He's never going home. He had known this before, but as he stares down at the floor of the car, it really hits him. He can't go back. He'll never see his dogs again. He'll never be able to walk through the front door to his cozy home in Wolf Trap to be greeted by seven wagging tails and happy faces. He'll never see Alana or Abigail or Beverly or even Zeller again. He'll never be able to go back to his old life or his old self.
He doesn't even realize that he's on the verge of hyperventilating until he hears Hannibal's voice - the one voice that's always managed to anchor him down and keep him safe - calling out to him. He wants to be sick at that realization, too - that Hannibal is the only consistent thing in his life - but he can't. He can't, not with how his mind reaches out to Hannibal's voice, latching onto it like a life raft.
"Will," There's actually a hint of concern to Hannibal's voice as he says his name, probably not for the first time in the last few seconds, and Will wonders if he'd look worried too, if he had the strength to gaze up at him.
"Will," He repeats, "Do I need to pull over?"
And while Will doesn't want to cave - he's strong, he can do this - he finds himself nodding shakily.
He feels the car veer off to the side of the road and finds himself wondering where they are before he hears the unbuckling of a seatbelt and the rustling of clothes. Before he knows what's happening, Hannibal has a hand on either side of his face, pulling his head to look up, and he's gazing into dark eyes. Hannibal does look concerned, but the realization of that is masked by the fact that he's touching him, gentle and soft. Will tries to shy away from the contact, into the corner of his seat, but Hannibal holds him steady, stopping him from doing so.
"Will," Hannibal repeats again, voice still worried, "Can you hear me?"
It isn't until then that Will realizes that his vision is blurry and unfocused and his entire body his trembling underneath his touch. He sucks in a deep breath, blinking a few times before nodding.
"You're having an episode," Hannibal announces, and Will wants to come back with something sarcastic-
Gee, I wonder why
-but he can't. He knows he can't. So instead, he tries his best to calm himself, taking deep, heaving breaths. His vaguely registers that his hands are gripping onto Hannibal's wrists, and once again, Hannibal is his anchor, holding him down, keeping him grounded.
"Your name is Will Graham," Hannibal says calmly. It's an exercise that Will knows all too well, but as much as he tries to zone it out, he can't. "It is four in the morning, and you are in Florence, Italy."
"I know where I am," Will manages to rasp out immediately. That's the problem.
And though he doesn't say the last part, he knows that Hannibal gets it. He always does.
"It's alright," Hannibal soothes, voice soft, "You're alright. I'm here."
And as much as Will wants to argue - that's the problem! - he doesn't. He can't. Because somehow, that manages to make him feel better. Somehow, that manages to help him draw one sturdy deep breath among the shaky, shallow ones.
"This is so fucked up," Will mutters out. He doesn't mean to say it out loud, but he can't help it. "I'm so fucked up."
Hannibal doesn't say anything in response, but instead just allows one hand to drop to his back and rub soothing circles into it. And Will tries not to think about how wrong it is when he lets out a deep sigh and slouches forward, burying his head into Hannibal's chest and breathing in his familiar smell.
The rest of the drive to the hotel room a blur - a teary, silent, shaky blur - and before he knows it, Will is allowing Hannibal to open his door for him, help him to his feet, and lead him into the lobby. Before he knows it, Will is following Hannibal into an elevator and down a hallway to their room. His head is still spinning when he watches Hannibal swipe they key card, and it's still spinning when Hannibal flicks on the lights to reveal a rather large room - it's probably a suite - even complete with a kitchenette.
Will allows himself to be numbly lead to his own bed - just as was promised - by Hannibal, and he allows Hannibal to shuck off his coat and pull his shirt over his head. His joints are sore and his body is tired, even though he slept for hours on the plane, and all he wants to do is curl up on the soft looking hotel sheets, so he allows Hannibal to pop open the button on his jeans and slide them off of his legs until he's standing there in his boxers.
He watches distantly as Hannibal pulls back the comforter on his bed for him, and when he motions, Will climbs in, sighing out at the feeling of the mattress beneath him. Will immediately curls up into a ball, hugging his knees tight against his body, and he can't decide if he's surprised or not with how easy it is for him to let his eyes slip closed, even with a killer in the room, watching him carefully. He feels like he's on the verge of breaking when he falls asleep, just on the edge of a cliff and all Hannibal has to do is push, and part of him is strangely okay with that.
When Will awakes his first morning in Florence, it's to the smell of Hannibal brewing coffee. Granted, it's not really morning (it's well past noon) but he attributes that to the time change and the fact that he didn't fall asleep until after four in the morning. His mouth waters at the smell of the fresh brewed coffee, but he doesn't sit up, refusing to give in so easily, and instead just turns over, hiding his face in the covers like a child. Hannibal seems to sense him, though, because after a long minute, Will can hear him cross the room and set a cup down on the bedside table next to him.
"Good morning, Will."
Will groans in response, and despite the fact that he doesn't want to get up - not now, not ever - he rolls over again and reaches out to the delicious smelling mug of coffee.
"I trust you slept well?" Hannibal asks from behind him. He's sitting on his own already neatly made bed, watching Will as he sits up slowly, bringing the cup to his lips. And he sips at the warm liquid, closing his eyes before nodding.
Hannibal sighs softly, apparently becoming frustrated with Will's short answers and the wall that he seems to be building. He sets his own drink down and leans forward to study Will, who avoids his eye contact in favor for staring into his coffee. "Do you hate me, Will?" It's a loaded question, and it actually grabs Will's attention, causing him to glance up, his eyes meeting Hannibal's. He looks sincere, as if he wants to know the true answer to his question, and Will lets himself toy with the idea of telling him yes, just to see if there are any repercussions. He doesn't, however, and he tries not to think about why, though he's certain it's because he knows it's not true.
"I can't," He mutters out in response, still holding the eye contact.
"But you wish you could," Hannibal infers, searching his face for an answer.
Will nods shallowly in return, turning his gaze back to his hands. He wishes he could hate Hannibal. He really does. If he did, it would make things a lot easier, more black and white. At least then, he could put all of his energy into hating the man in front of him and trying to escape, rather than trying to figure out exactly what it is he feels when Hannibal looks at him or touches him. No, he doesn't hate him, though he wishes he could.
"In time," Hannibal says softly, bringing Will out of his thoughts, "That will change."
And though the words scare him a little, Will can't help but hope he's true. He can't help but hope that maybe one day, he'll be able to look at Hannibal and not see him as a monster, but see him as the man that he fell in love with, who had helped him through the darkest time in his life.
Love. He's never actually said it out loud to Hannibal before, for fear of his response, but he can't deny that what he feels for him - underneath his anger and confusion and resentment - is still that. Maybe there's a fine line between love and hate. If so, Will feels like he's walking the edge of it.
Chapter 8: I Don't Feel Anything Anymore
And how does it feel
What you've become
What you said you would never be
'Cause I don't feel anything anymore
*No warnings for this chapter except a very minor panic attack
(also, I've finally drafted up the rest of the chapters!)
For the first week in Florence, Will doesn't leave the hotel room. It would drive any other man insane, being cooped up in the room - even if it is a rather large suite - but not him. He wonders if maybe it's because he's already crazy, but decides not to dwell on it.
Hannibal leaves, but only for short periods of time to get groceries or look for a more permanent place to live, Will assumes. When he wakes up in the mornings, Hannibal is gone. He doesn't try to detain Will - doesn't lock the door or do anything to stop him from leaving - and Will wonders if it's because he knows that he won't go. Either way, he doesn't, and by the time that Hannibal returns in the late morning, Will has coffee made and waiting for him. It's not as good as Hannibal's by any means, but by the look on his face when he accepts the cup from Will, he appreciates it.
Will tries not to think about what Hannibal could really be doing while he's out in the early hours of the morning. He tries not to imagine him following a drunk man down an alley and strangling the life out of him, cutting him to bits and bringing the meat back to the hotel room, presenting it as beef or anything else. He tries not to, but he can't help it when he watches Hannibal cook their dinner on the fifth night in the small kitchenette.
He doesn't ask where the meat came from and accepts it when Hannibal presents it to him. And even in a tiny little kitchen in a hotel room, Hannibal's cooking still remains exquisite. It's odd, watching him in another kitchen besides his own large, well equipped one. He looks out of place, and when they eat, Will can't help but let his mind wander, imagining the bare kitchen back in Baltimore without them, pots and pans untouched for almost a week now, blood now dry on the floor.
"Do you think they've gone to your house yet?" Will asks in between bites. He's mostly past the point of caring if it's human meat that he's eating, as long as he's being fed.
Hannibal pauses at that, fork in hand, and studies Will for a long moment before nodding, "Yes."
"How do you know?" Will asks immediately, heart lurching in his chest. What did Jack think when he didn't show up to work? What did he do when he saw the pool of blood on the kitchen floor? He tries to imagine Jack's face as he followed the SWAT team into the house, through the dining room and into the kitchen. Would he know right away who's blood was on the floor, or would he refuse to believe it until it had been tested? He can imagine Jack's anger, knowing that he had been just barely too late, and he tries to bury the fact that it feels good, tricking him.
He doesn't realize that it's been silent in the room for almost a minute until he looks up and sees Hannibal studying him carefully, as if he's trying to figure out what he's thinking. He holds the eye contact for a few more seconds before going back to spearing a piece of meat, speaking in an almost conversational tone. "It was on the news this morning," He replies at last, in between bites, "I saw it before I went out."
Will's eyes widen, and he almost wants to yell at Hannibal for not telling him sooner. "What did they say?"
Hannibal can't help but smile in response, "You can watch it after you finish eating."
And though Will can't decide whether he's excited or terrified to hear what they had to say - about Hannibal and about himself - on the news, he finishes his dinner quickly, anxious to see it. Once they're done eating, Hannibal rinses their plates off in the sink, then crosses the room to pull a laptop out of his bag. And once he finds the correct video, he hands it over to Will.
Instead of pressing play immediately after Hannibal hands him the computer, though, Will stares at the screen, eyes fixed on the still of the video. It's an image of Jack Crawford, more than likely at a press conference, and not only is his entire team - Zeller and Price and Katz - by his side, but so is a very concerned, very sleep deprived looking Alana Bloom. He tenses at that, and he can feel Hannibal's eyes on him, more than likely wondering if he's ready for what he's about to see.
"If you don't want to-"
"No," Will shoots back before Hannibal even has a chance to finish his sentence, "I want to watch it."
And so, with Hannibal's careful eyes on him, Will clicks the play button.
The second that Jack starts speaking, Will's ears begin ringing. It's raw footage from the press conference, and Will listens distantly as reporters and journalists ask Jack questions. The first one: "Is it true that Hannibal Lecter is the responsible for the copycat murders over the past few months?"
"We have reason to believe so, yes," Jack answers.
"Is it possible that he's fled the country?" Another reporter off-camera asks.
"It's always a possibility," Jack answers, and Will feels his chest tighten, "But as of right now we are searching every possible location that he could be here in the States."
"And you're also looking for Will Graham, correct?" Will recognizes the new voice in the video as none other than Freddie Lounds, and he notices Jack's lip twitch at the question, as if he's repressing a snarl. Alana's face goes pale white next to him at the mention of Will's name.
"That is correct," Jack answers shortly. Will is certain that Freddie is doing a damn good job at making their lives pretty difficult right now, and he almost pauses the video in favor of typing tattle crime into the address bar. He wonders if she got pictures of his crime scene, too, if his blood is plastered all over her website. He’s certain that it is, knowing that Ms. Lounds isn’t particularly fond of him. He’s sure that she’s having a fucking field day.
"Is it a possibility that Mr. Graham could be aiding him in his escape?" She presses, "They were romantically involved, were they not?"
Will knows that the question is out of line, and while he waits for Jack to explode on her, he doesn't. Instead he just takes a deep breath and replies with, "Will Graham's romantic life is of no concern to us at the moment. Right now we just want to bring him home."
His chest hurts.
"So you're certain that he's a hostage, then?" Freddie asks.
"Yes," Jack bites out, "The evidence suggests that he was taken against his will."
Another reporter begins to ask a question, but they're cut off when Freddie speaks up again, voice loud. "Is there any chance that Dr. Lecter could be connected to the Chesapeake Ripper case?"
Jacks eyes narrow, and when he answers, Will knows that it's a lie. "Right now, Dr. Lecter is wanted for the murders of Georgia Madchen, Donald Sutcliffe and Cassie Boyle, nothing more."
"The Chesapeake Ripper is responsible for the death of your agent, Miriam Lass, correct?" Freddie asks instead, apparently going off topic. Will understands her train of thought completely though, and he's sure that Jack does too. They're taking the bait, falling for Hannibal's trap beautifully.
"I don't see what that has to do with-"
"Her body was never found, though she's presumed to be dead," Freddie continues, obviously trying to prove something, "If Dr. Lecter is in fact the Chesapeake Ripper, is there a chance that you may never find Will Graham, just like Miss Lass?"
"Hannibal Lecter is wanted for the copycat murders and the kidnapping of Special Agent Will Graham," Jack repeats, voice hard, "Nothing more."
But apparently, Freddie's questions do their job, because at that, the crowd of reporters explodes with shouted questions-
"Is the Chesapeake Ripper connected to the copycat murders?"
"Is there a chance that Will Graham may be an accomplice?”
- and Jack's eyes close tight, fingers coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose. Will is certain that this isn't how he had wanted things to go. He almost wants to laugh. Their plan had worked. He can tell by the look on Jack's face - on everyone's faces - that he's worried, terrified that Will may be dead already. That Hannibal is in fact the Ripper, and if so, they'll never find a trace of Will's body.
And then Will suddenly feels distant, far away, because then the camera is panning out slightly and not only is Alana next to Jack, but she's obviously been crying, and Winston is standing obediently at her side. It's like one last ditch effort - please come home, Will - to bring him back safely. One last shred of home before she accepts the fact that he may be dead.
And while Will feels terrible - he never wanted to hurt anyone, especially Alana - he had no choice. Part of him wants to reach out, to hug her and Winston and tell her that he's sorry for everything, for all the shit he's put her though. Part of him wants to go home and say sorry, even though she'd never accept an apology now, but another part of him, the increasingly more dominant part of him, wants to smile, grab Hannibal and kiss him because his plan worked. He had been right. With Hannibal gone, the investigation would have turned to him - just as Hannibal had said - especially with Freddie Lounds obnoxiously spearheading the whole ordeal.
So while Will feels awful and guilty, he also feels proud and most of all, free. He doesn't voice this to Hannibal, though he's certain that the other man can read him like a book by now.
Part of Will wants to give up and let Hannibal take the reins.
After watching the video, it's apparent - though it had been before, too - that there is no going back. Maybe it takes Jack and his colleague's worried faces, or maybe it's Alana's tear-streaked one. Hell, maybe it's even seeing his dog alongside another person that makes him realize completely that his old life is gone. There's no going back to Baltimore, to the states. There's no going back to Special Agent Will Graham. No more lecture halls, no more late nights, wide awake in Wolf Trap.
Part of Will realizes this as a good thing. Part of him knows that Jack Crawford, while with good intentions, was slowly breaking him. Even though he hadn't had an episode in a very long time, Will knows that going to the crime scenes and looking hadn’t been good for him. In fact, the only thing that ever really made him better in the past few months, after a long day staring at blood and bodies and Jack, had been going home to Hannibal.
Hannibal had kept him grounded. Hannibal always knew exactly what to do or say to take Will's mind away from the bloody crime scenes. He knew the right buttons to push, the right tone to use, to make Will relax and forget about the horrors of his stressful job. So in a way, getting away from Jack Crawford and the FBI was probably one of the best things that Will could have ever done for himself, even if it wasn't completely consensual.
And yet the other part of him - the part that insists that he was fine before Hannibal and he'll survive without him - keeps fighting it every inch of the way. Even when Hannibal gets up early, stays in and cooks a meat-free breakfast and brews him coffee, that part of Will snarls when he takes the mug. Even when Hannibal gets him a cool glass of water and a new sheet for his bed in the middle of their seventh night in Italy because he’s having nightmares, it's that part of Will that shies away, curling up in the corner of his bed and waiting for him to go away.
There's a battle raging inside of Will's mind, and he's terrified of which side will win.
On their ninth day in Florence, it makes him sick. He wakes up late - later than usual - and can feel it in his throat before he even speaks a word. His entire body aches, which he finds ironic since he hasn't even moved from the confined space of the hotel for over a week. His head throbs with a fever. It isn't until he really wakes up, sitting up and rubbing his eyes, that he realizes that Hannibal is already taking care of him. The other man is already up, standing over the tiny stove, stirring something in a pot.
"How are you feeling, Will?" He asks, though Will is certain that he already knows the answer. He can smell chicken broth from where he lays in bed, and the part of him that still lusts after Hannibal wants to smile at the idea of it - Hannibal Lecter, cooking chicken noodle soup, of all things.
"Shitty," Will mutters out. His voice is gravely, like he's been swallowing glass, and he can't help but wonder how he managed to get sick virtually overnight.
"Soup will be ready soon," Hannibal assures, shooting a glance his way, "I suggest you have some."
Will groans, and though he wants to fight it - it's your fault that I've made myself so sick - he nods. The soup does smell delicious, even though he's scared to ask what might be in it.
"You're making yourself sick," Hannibal announces, tone conversational, "Battling with yourself like this."
Will scoffs, deciding to go with sarcasm today. "Really?" He bites, "I thought it might have been all of the fresh air I've been getting."
"Actually, I was going to ask you to accompany me to dinner tonight," Hannibal returns, ignoring Will's tone, "But when I realized that you were ill, I decided against it."
"You must know me pretty well if you can tell that I'm sick before I can," Will mutters, running a hand though his sweaty, matted hair. He probably looks like shit right now, and he longs for a shower, to wash some of his sickness away.
"You don't remember waking in the night?" Hannibal asks, turning to look at him.
It's things like that, that still scare Will about himself - sleepwalking and losing time. While it doesn't happen as often as it used to, it's never any less terrifying. "I lost time?" He asks, concerned. What had he done?
"Apparently so," Hannibal says, pausing his stirring to lift the spoon to his mouth to taste. He closes his eyes, savoring the flavor before adding something else and resuming the stirring. "You got sick."
"I did?" Will asks, trying to remember. Everything is blank, though, from the moment his head hit the pillow until he woke up now, and that terrifies him. He feels his stomach churn at that, and within an instant, he's up on shaky legs, stumbling toward the bathroom. He's not sure if it's Hannibal's mention of him vomiting or the fact that he doesn't remember it that triggers it again, but he barely makes it into the bathroom and onto his knees in front of the toilet before he's throwing up again.
His hands are shaky as he grips the porcelain, struggling to remember his night. It feels like searching for missing footage, as if someone snuck into his mind and deleted it. It’s like trying to remember a name when it's on the tip of your tongue, but you can't and he hates it. He hates it, and he hates Hannibal for remembering it, and he hates the fact that it's making him sick.
When he vomits again, it's nothing but water and stomach bile and his body lurches, struggling to find something to throw up. Within moments he's dry-heaving, body apparently trying to rid itself of toxins that don't exist.
"What's wrong with me?" Will sobs softly to himself, once he manages to control his body enough to stop heaving, and to his surprise, a voice answers from the doorway.
"Nothing is wrong with you, Will," Hannibal replies quietly. Will hears him cross the bathroom, and if he were to look up, he'd see him kneel at his side, concerned look creasing his face.
Will chokes out a bitter laugh. His throat hurts when he does so and he winces before rasping out, "That's a lie if I've ever heard one."
Hannibal smiles fondly, but Will doesn't see it, eyes still fixed down at the toilet. "You're fighting a battle inside your mind," He says as if he's treading carefully, trying not to say the wrong thing. Will wonders if they argued in the night, if that's why Hannibal is being so ridiculously kind. It only makes it harder to hate him. "And you're not going to win."
Will scoffs. He looks up at that, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Then what do you suggest I do, doctor?"
Hannibal studies him for a long moment, before he reaches forward, pulling a stray strand of Will's hair out of his face. He's done it before, while taking care of him during panic attacks and nightmares, and he usually follows it with a kiss. The action makes Will want to slap his hand away - how dare he do that now - but he can't. Instead he just stares up at Hannibal with wide, scared eyes.
"You need to give in," He answers at last, "Let the demons you're fighting with take over."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Will spits, still fighting him every inch of the way. He's going to. Of course he's going to. It's not in Will's personality to give up that easily. He didn't give up when he let Hannibal slice into his hand - the hand that still throbs, every time he thinks about it, even if it is slowly healing - and he didn't give up when he followed Hannibal numbly through the airport. It had simply been self-preservation. Though sometimes it seems like the easier way out, Will couldn't just let Hannibal kill him, not after coming so far.
"I would, yes," Hannibal answers truthfully, shaking Will out of his thoughts, "But this isn't about what I want."
"Isn't it?" Will bites out.
Hannibal sighs. "If it is, then what I want is for you to get better."
"By giving in," Will presses. He almost wants to hear Hannibal say it, just so he knows that it's not his own doing. Just so he can remind himself, when he realizes that he's become the exact monster that he used to hunt, that it hadn't been his decision, that Hannibal had made it for him.
"If that's what it takes, yes," Hannibal replies, "I want you to let go."
I want you to give in to the demon lurking in your mind. I want you to become something new. Something strong.
Will closes his eyes tight. He can't tell anymore which is Hannibal and which is the voice in his head. Maybe it would feel nice, giving up the fight in his mind. "What do I do?" He whispers softly, eyes still tight. He doesn't dare open them, for fear that he'll be sick again with the thought of what he's doing.
"Breathe," Hannibal replies simply, and before Will can do anything about it, there's a pair of lips - lips that had once been comforting and good, lips that he used to know very well - pressing against his own.
Chapter 9: Wisdom Tells Me To Turn Away
You...can't take my eyes off of you
Wisdom tells me to turn away
Broken once, it's all the same
- "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" - Cary Brothers
*Warnings for this chapter include oral sex, graphic violence and panic attacks
Also, I may be a little busy the next week, so I apologize in advance if the next update takes a little longer than usual! I promise it won't be too horribly long though.
They don't discuss the kiss.
In fact, the rest of day after Hannibal hoists Will up off of the bathroom floor and sits him at the small table, is a blur. Will still has a high fever and a sore throat, and though the chicken soup and some ibuprofen make him feel a little better, it's sleep that ultimately helps him.
He'd like to say that he doesn't remember the kiss the next afternoon when he awakes feeling slightly better, but he'd be lying. In fact, it's the one thing that he remembers vividly from that day though the fevered haze in his mind. He doesn't mention it to Hannibal, though, in hopes that he won't bring it up if he doesn't. He can't talk about it, can't think about it, not now.
Hannibal stays in with him the next day, too, not even leaving to get groceries, insisting that they have what they need in the small little fridge. Once again, Will finds himself wondering just how much Hannibal paid for the room - he's sure it's a lot - but he tries not to think about it. Instead, he forces himself to get better. And more importantly, he forces himself to take Hannibal's advice - to let go.
Despite the fact that the Will from a month ago would want to kill him for the way that he's acting - simply giving up and following Hannibal's lead - it's for the best. If it's going to make him feel better and cure his constant headache, it's worth it.
Besides, what else is he supposed to do? He’s trapped with Hannibal until he gives in, or until he dies. And he doesn’t plan on dying any time soon…
Will wordlessly heads to the bathroom after he wakes up that afternoon, shooting Hannibal a small glance before closing the door and locking it behind himself. Despite the fact that he is giving in, he does need some time to himself, especially while he showers. It feels good, when he steps under the hot stream of water, and Will sighs out, hands scrubbing the grime and sweat out of his hair.
If he were more poetic, he'd note that it feels like he's scrubbing the old Will away with the expensive looking shampoo that Hannibal had picked out, that once he steps out of the shower and into the well lit, Florence hotel room, he'll be a new man.
The cut on his hand is almost healed now. He studies it under the warm flow of water, thumbing at the dead skin. It's scabbing now, and it'll soon leave a nasty scar, stretching all the way from his index finger to the heel of his palm. It's a long, thick line, and he'll carry it for the rest of his life, a constant tie to Hannibal. He peels back some of the scab, wincing as he does, and a little bit of blood flows out from under the scab. Without even thinking about it, he lifts his hand to his mouth and sucks away at the blood, just like he used to as a child.
Only back then, it was innocent - a way to stop the small cut on his hand from bleeding he can keep playing. Now, it's more intimate. Hannibal made the mark, and Will is reopening it. Once again, he's certain that there's some kind of poetic metaphor in there, but he doesn't let his mind dwell on it for too long, pulling his hand away from his face to hold it under the warm water.
It stings, but it doesn't bother him. It feels good to feel something other than anger and frustration, even if it’s pain.
When Will steps out of the shower, the bathroom is full of steam, fogging up the mirror and making the air thick and humid. It distantly reminds him of home, when he'd let the shower run for hours, hot water pelting his back until it ran cold, just to feel something, anything.
He reaches for the towel on the sink, scrubbing it through his hair quickly before wrapping it around his waist. He already feels cleaner - new and refreshed - and when he wipes away at the fog on the mirror, the reflection staring back at him almost looks unrecognizable. He'd grown used to the dark circles hanging under his eyes, so it's a little bit of a surprise when they look lighter now, as if they're starting to disappear. His head doesn't hurt anymore, either, and Will wonders if maybe Hannibal was right. Maybe Florence is doing him some good.
He steps out of the bathroom after another moment of staring into the mirror, and when he does, he notices that Hannibal already has a fresh change of clothes laid out for him on his bed. He doesn't recognize them as his own, and realizes that they're probably some of the old clothes of Hannibal's that he had packed for him. He tries not to think of the symbolism of that as he approaches the bed.
"How are you feeling?" Hannibal asks, the same question as every morning. Will silently wonders if he asks it because he's genuinely curious, of if it's out of habit, the psychiatrist in him seeping out.
"Better," Will replies lightly. He immediately notices how easy it is for him to speak, now that he's not battling with himself or hating himself for talking to Hannibal.
"Good," Hannibal replies, and if Will were to look up, he'd see the small smile spreading across his lips, "You look it."
"Do I?" Will asks, leaning down to finger at the fabric of the dark, button up shirt that Hannibal had laid out for him. It's soft, though it probably hasn't been worn in a long while, and it looks expensive. Or, at least more expensive than any shirt that Will owns.
Hannibal hums softly in response, and Will can hear him pouring a cup of coffee from across the room. He vaguely remembers Hannibal telling him yesterday that he had planned on taking him out to dinner, out of the hotel room, and suddenly, looking down at the nice shirt paired with a nicer pair of jeans, he feels the urge to do so. Or at least to get out, get some fresh air.
"Does your offer still stand?" Will asks tentatively, unsure of how to go about things. Hell, even before he knew about everything he had always felt a little embarrassed - a little nervous - asking Hannibal out, instead of the other way around. He had always been worried that whatever he suggested wouldn't live up to Hannibal's standards, and that he might realize that he's too good for someone like Will. And while the tables have turned - they're closer to equals now - Will still feels nervous. He wants to kick himself for it, but he tries not to dwell on it.
"What offer would that be?" Hannibal asks, crossing the room to hand Will his cup of coffee. He takes it graciously, sipping at the warm liquid and smiling slightly to himself. Hannibal always knows exactly how he likes it.
"You said yesterday that you wanted to take me out to dinner," Will mumbles, "Unless I dreamed that."
"I did," Hannibal confirms, "But you were ill."
"Well I'm not now," Will counters, looking up at him, "So does it still stand?"
Hannibal smiles fondly. If they were still comfortable around one another, the way they used to be, he'd probably wrap an arm around Will's waist and pull him close, murmur something along the lines of "of course it does" and kiss his hair affectionately. Instead, he studies Will carefully, as if trying to understand what's going on inside of his head. "You'd like to get out," He says at last.
"Well, yeah," Will replies bluntly, "We've been here for over a week and I haven't been out of the hotel room." He's certain that there's a reason why that is - Hannibal had probably been unsure if he'd try to escape or call for help or not, and more than likely thought it best to keep Will inside the hotel room until then - but he presses further. If Hannibal had thought that he was ready yesterday, he'd be even more willing to take him out now, right?
"Besides," He adds, gesturing toward the clothes, still lying on the bed, "I feel like it would be a waste to wear this, and stay inside all day." It isn't until then than he realizes that he's still clad in only a towel, beads of water still drying on his shoulders and chest. He wonders if Hannibal took it into account, or if the man even still sees him that way...
Hannibal crosses the room at that to pour himself a cup of coffee, seemingly turning the idea over in his head before he finally responds. "It would be good for you to get out," He agrees at last, "And you're running out of clothes..."
"Are you suggesting that we go shopping?" Will asks incredulously, eyebrows arching up.
"I am," Hannibal replies, smiling up at him, "And dinner?" The way he asks it is much like the first time he asked Will to the opera with him - with a small, teasing smile creasing his face, eyes light and happy - and for a split second, Will lets himself imagine that they're standing in Hannibal's kitchen, drinking wine and flirting around one another, unsure of what the next move is. He misses that, when their relationship was something new, exciting and unexplored, and when he looks at Hannibal, he sees that, even if it's just for a second. He feels his stomach flutter.
"I'd like that," Will breaths before he realizes what he's saying, apparently under Hannibal's spell. They're the same words that he had murmured when Hannibal asked him if he'd like to become serious, to begin dating.
Hannibal doesn't even try to hide the grin that creases his face in return when he tells Will to get ready so they can leave, and Will doesn't try to hide the way that his face flushes under the attention. He allows himself to forget for a moment, as he drops the towel, that Hannibal is incredibly dangerous. That he could kill him right here and now if he wanted to. Instead, he closes his eyes and remembers the first time he stayed the night at Hannibal's house, the morning after first night that they slept together.
"Are you sure you don't mind?" Will asks, even as Hannibal leads him to the bathroom, handing him a towel.
"Not at all," Hannibal replies over his shoulder, flicking the light on for Will, "I insist."
Will can't say no to the smile on Hannibal's face as he passes him on his way into the bathroom, even if he feels bad using his shower. He had woken up in Hannibal's bed, early in the morning drenched in sweat and had felt terrible even asking for a shower, though Hannibal had insisted it was fine.
And though he's certain that he doesn't mind, Will takes a quick shower, as if not using too much water will make him feel better.
When he exits the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist, water still beading on his skin and drying in his hair, he glances around the room nervously, looking for his clothes.
He remembers kissing Hannibal in the kitchen the night before, and he remembers Hannibal pressing him hard against the wall, hands carding through his hair, bodies pressing close together. He also remembers that he was naked, flushing underneath Hannibal's gaze before they even made it to the bedroom. So where did his clothes end up...?
He pads quietly out of the bedroom and down the hall, searching for Hannibal, and finds him in the kitchen, preparing coffee and breakfast. And while his heart swells at the gesture, he still can't help but feel embarrassed. He clears his throat from the dining room and Hannibal glances up from the stove. He doesn't even try to hide the way that his eyes rake over Will's torso, and Will feels himself flush again.
"I uh... I can't find my clothes," He mutters, feeling ridiculous. Why had Hannibal chosen him, of all people?
Hannibal just smiles in response. "Living room, on the couch. I left them there for you."
"Oh," Will breaths. He swallows hard, and as he makes his way to the living room, where his clothes are indeed waiting, he can feel Hannibal's eyes still on him. He grabs his underwear first, unsure if he should take his things back to the bedroom to change or if he should just do it here, in plain sight.
He turns then, boxers in hand to look to Hannibal for an answer, and just receives another grin in response.
"Will," Hannibal says fondly, grabbing a cup of coffee and walking around the kitchen counter and into the living room. Will watches him carefully, like a deer in the headlights. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about," He murmurs once he's close enough.
He offers the cup of coffee to Will, but he shakes his head, too nervous to reach out and take it. Hannibal's smile only widens at that, and he leans in, voice low in Will's ear when he speaks again. "I saw you last night," He murmurs softly, "And my feelings for you have not changed since then."
Will clears his throat again, trying to rid himself of his nerves. "Right," He mutters, and at that he lets the towel drop.
Hannibal leans in at that, kissing him hotly. He tastes like coffee and lust.
When Will drops the towel in the hotel room, though, Hannibal doesn't approach him. He's sure that it's because he doesn't want to push him too far, not now, and though Will is grateful for that, he also longs for what they used to have. Though he doesn't admit it to himself, he misses the hot press of Hannibal's lips and body on his own.
He doesn't feel Hannibal's eyes on him as he dresses in silence.
Will welcomes the warm sun with a smile on his face and outstretched arms when they step outside of the hotel lobby. It's not too hot outside, but part of him wishes he were in shorts and a t-shirt, soaking up the sunlight. It isn't until they step outside that he realizes how badly he missed it. He had seen the streets criss-crossing and the people hurrying along outside, down below the hotel room balcony, but it's not the same as stepping out onto the pavement, finally free from the confines of their room.
The colors on the buildings and cars and the clothing of passersby are vibrant and warm and loud and Will wants nothing more than to soak it all in. "Can we walk?" He asks, turning to Hannibal at last. He imagines that the other man would look out of place, strolling down the street rather than driving a nice, luxury car, even when he's not wearing one of his immaculate three piece suits, and something about that idea thrills Will.
Hannibal smiles warmly in return, "Of course. Where would you like to go first?"
"Anywhere," Will breaths, temporarily distracted by a red summer dress, blowing in the wind as a woman with dark hair passes by them. He wants to reach out and touch it, just to be sure that this is real, but he holds back.
And without another word, Hannibal begins leading him away from the hotel, down an unknown road. They walk in silence for a good ten minutes, Hannibal allowing Will to breathe a little, to take everything in. And it's a lot to take in. Though Will isn't sure exactly where they are, he can tell that Hannibal chose this particular area with him in mind. There are plenty of shops, clothing stores and bakeries and restaurants lining the road that Hannibal leads him down, and it's almost overwhelming.
"Beautiful, it's it?" Hannibal muses softly, slowing until Will is walking in step with him, right by his side.
"Very," Will replies, still taking everything in. He's certain that he could live here for years, and it wouldn't become any less interesting.
"Something you could get used to?" Hannibal presses, and Will pauses at that question, step faltering when he looks up at him. He hadn't even entertained the idea of actually enjoying his time in Italy with Hannibal, not when he closed his eyes and saw the monster that he really was. But now, in the open air, watching tourists and locals hurry past them without so much as a second glance, he feels safe. He could get used to this.
Without the battle raging inside his head, it's much easier for Will to nod and say, "Yes."
He ends up following Hannibal into a high-end looking store after another block. The front windows are lined with beautiful, elegant suits, and he silently wonders if this is where Hannibal has gotten some of his own clothes. He wouldn't put it past him to order something from Italy, not with the way that he dresses.
"Do you see anything you like?" Hannibal asks him quietly as they browse through the shop. The man behind the counter shoots Will a smile and he returns it, thankful that he's not wearing one of his plain plaid shirts. He's certain that he'd get a different reaction had Hannibal not picked out his clothes this morning.
Will fingers mindlessly at the tag on a blazer, turning it over in his hand before promptly dropping it. "It's expensive," He breaths, just loud enough so Hannibal can hear him, but nobody else.
"I’m aware," Hannibal returns, "It's alright. Choose something."
"This is ridiculous," Will breaths, "I don't know. I don't wear suits."
"You'd look good in an Armani, maybe even a Burberry," Hannibal muses, reaching out to pull a simple back blazer off of a rack. It's plain, flat black, save for the satin looking piping on the collar and around the sleeves. It does look nice, but Will still argues.
"I'm happy with jeans and a t-shirt," He mutters, even as he reaches out to touch the blazer in Hannibal's hands.
To his surprise, Hannibal simply hands it over to him, leaning down to thumb through the pants until he comes across Will's size. And while Will should wonder how Hannibal knows his exact measurements, he's long past questioning him. "Humor me," Hannibal murmurs, handing him the matching pants to go with it. "Which shirt would you like?"
"I'm fine with the one I'm wearing," Will insists, but it only earns a look from Hannibal. So he sighs, pointing out a charcoal grey one a few racks over. "That one."
Hannibal's smile widens, and with a soft touch on Will's hip, he walks gracefully over to the rack, plucking off a shirt in Will's size. He then crosses the store, Will trailing slowly behind, and asks the associate for a fitting room. And while Will wants to argue, he keeps his mouth shut, following silently behind.
"I'll be just outside," Hannibal promises as he pushes Will gently into the room. And then he's shutting the door behind himself and he's alone.
Will glances into the long, floor length mirror and grimaces. He looks out of place, even in the fitting room, with the nice, leather seat and elegant looking wallpaper. He doesn't want to try the suit on, simply wants to wait a few minutes, then come out and tell Hannibal that he doesn't like it, but he can't.
Instead, Will finds himself slowly unbuttoning the shirt that Hannibal had given him that morning, letting it slide off of his shoulders and onto the floor. He huffs out a small breath, hands dropping to his pants after that, letting them fall down as well before pulling the nicer black ones on. Of course, they fit like a glove and feel like silk against his legs, and so does the charcoal shirt when he pulls it on. He wants to applaud Hannibal for finding something that fits him so perfectly, but then he's pulling the jacket on and he's actually a little speechless, staring into the mirror.
It fits him perfectly, though he does look a little bit out of place in such a nice suit. His hair is getting shaggy and probably needs to be trimmed, and his stubble is a little out of control, thicker and longer than he usually likes it. He doesn't doubt that it would look nice, though, after a haircut and a shave. It looks like something Hannibal would wear.
Will takes a deep breath before opening the door and stepping outside. He can feel Hannibal's eyes raking over him in an instant. He stretches his arms out, an open invitation for Hannibal to look and lets out a huff of breath.
"This is ridiculous," Will mutters, even as Hannibal stares at him like he's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. (Or like he wants to eat him up, but Will tries not to think about that.)
"You don't like it?" Hannibal questions, obviously slightly disappointed.
"No," Will amends immediately, "No, I just... I don't belong in a suit."
Hannibal raises an eyebrow. He moves at that, crossing the small distance between them in a few graceful strides. He doesn't even hesitate before he reaches forward, pulling gently at the collar of the blazer and smoothing it out over Will's chest. "I think you look remarkable," He compliments, hands lingering on Will. It's not on accident, either. He's obviously trying to press the boundaries, to see just how far Will will let him go before he pushes him away.
And he doesn't. At least not right away, anyway. Maybe it's because he's been craving the touch of another human being, which he never thought would happen, or maybe it's because right now, Hannibal reminds him of the man he used to know, not the monster that he does now. Either way, he allows the hands to press slightly into his chest. He allows Hannibal's eyes to linger on him. "I look like a caveman in a thousand dollar suit," He mutters, eyes locking with the deep brown ones staring down at him.
"Nonsense," Hannibal murmurs, busying himself by smoothing out the blazer again, "Get changed, we have places to be."
And at that, the moment is over. Hannibal's touch is gone, and Will lets out a deep breath that he didn't know he was holding. He nods wordlessly, stepping back into the fitting room and closing the door behind himself, leaning against it once he's alone again. He feels like he has to catch his breath, light headed and reeling from the interaction with Hannibal, and has to force himself to move, to peel the expensive clothing off of his body and put it back on the hangers with shaky hands.
By the time that Will stumbles out of the fitting room, clothes in hand, he finds that Hannibal is already standing at the counter, paying for them. He wordlessly allows the clothes to be taken from him, folded and bagged, and watches as Hannibal pays. It's apparent that he's not concerned about money - Will hadn't been lying when he said thousand dollar suit - and it finally hits Will that Hannibal has probably been planning his getaway from the moment that he began killing. Which... Who knows how long that is, though Will is certain that he's responsible for many more than just the copycat and Ripper murders.
"You didn't have to buy it," Will mutters once they're out of the shop and back on the street, walking further away from the hotel room.
"I wanted to," Hannibal insists, without so much as a glance in his direction. He's looking at street signs and the names of stores, as if he plans on spending more money on Will. "You needed something nice to wear to dinner."
"This isn't nice enough?" Will asks, and he can't ignore the voice in the back of his head that tells him that they sound like a bickering old married couple. In fact, any passersby on the street probably think that they're exactly that. Apparently Hannibal hears it, too, because when he glances back at Will, there's a rather large smile dancing across his face.
Suddenly, another thought crosses Will's mind, though, and he doesn't have the chance to filter it or stop it before he’s speaking. "Are you trying to bribe me?" He asks, blunt and harsh and by the way that Hannibal's expression changes, it's probably pretty rude, but he doesn't take it back.
"What are you suggesting?" Hannibal asks as they continue forward.
"That you're buying me expensive things to keep me from trying to escape," Will answers truthfully. The bag in his hands feels heavy.
"If that were true," Hannibal muses, shooting him another look, "How would that make you feel?" And though they're walking, out in public on the warm, brightly lit street, Will feels like he's in Hannibal's office again, sitting in the chair opposite of him.
"I'm not going to," Will says, instead of answering his question, "If that's what you're asking. I would have done that a long time ago. It would be useless now."
"It would," Hannibal agrees, and there's just a little hint of danger in his tone, as if he doesn't completely believe Will. "Then think of it as a gift," He adds, small smirk creasing his face, "A thank you for coming with me."
Though Will wants to shoot him another sarcastic comment in return, he holds his tongue. If anything, it's a good way to end their conversation. They go into a few more stores after their discussion, two of which are Hannibal's choice, very similar to the first one. He spends a considerable amount of money at both stores as well, all on Will. By the third store, Will doesn't even bother trying the clothes on, just trusts Hannibal's instinct. And by the time they leave, he wonders if that's what this entire outing is about: trust.
The fourth and final store they stop by, before making their way back to the hotel, is one that's more Will's taste. Casual, plain clothes. He grabs a few things - a couple pairs of jeans and a few shirts, the necessities - and then they're finished shopping, heading back to their hotel room.
By the time that Will finishes getting ready that evening, the sun is just beginning to go down, casting a red hue over the entirety of their hotel room, filtering in through the windows and lighting up everything it touches like fire. The view is beautiful, even from the balcony, and Will has to pause as he passes it by on his way to grab a fresh change of clothes. Hannibal is just getting out of the shower - the bathroom door is still closed - and part of Will wishes he were there to see it, to share it with him.
If the battle were still raging in his head, the old part of him would tell him that it's a dumb notion. That Hannibal doesn't care for him like that anymore. That he's nothing more than a plaything to the murderer, and that buying him nice clothes and taking him out to dinner is just part of his game to keep him compliant. But Will's mind is quiet, content, and as he watches the sun disappear behind the horizon, he wishes that Hannibal was watching it with him.
He steps away from the window before the sun finishes setting, still buttoning up his new charcoal shirt. He decides to go with his first choice for dinner - the one that Hannibal had liked, the one that he had touched and complimented - and he tries not to think about the fact that he's trying to impress the other man.
Will catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror as he pulls the blazer on, and smiles softly at his own reflection. His face is relatively clean-shaven now - he had barrowed a razor from Hannibal when they got back earlier, annoyed with his own facial hair after seeing the way he looked in the fitting room - and his hair is somewhat tamed, though he still thinks that it needs to be cut.
He doesn't feel completely comfortable in the suite quite yet, but even as he looks in the mirror, it seems like it fits him better than it had earlier. The suit doesn't completely wear him anymore. The sharp, sophisticated black lines compliment his face now, rather than point out his flaws. In fact, it's the first time in a long time that he's looked in a mirror and really felt good.
He's interrupted then by the sound of the bathroom door opening, and when he turns, he's met by Hannibal's figure, completely dressed and ready, at home in one of his nicer suits, hair perfectly situated and combed off to the side on his head. He's adjusting the tie around his neck, but he stops when he looks up, eyes landing on Will.
And for a split second, Will thinks he sees his mask drop, just a little. He's seen it before, once or twice in bed with Hannibal, though he hadn't known it at the time, and that one time in the kitchen, as he sliced into his hand. He had seen the real Hannibal then, and he sees a glimpse of it now, even if it’s just for a second.
Will swallows hard and straightens his posture. "Yeah?" He chokes out, motioning down at himself.
Hannibal grins in response, reaching forward once more to adjust the blazer on his shoulders. When he steps back, his smile is even wider and he nods. "Yes."
And while Will isn't even completely sure what that means, he takes the compliment, face flushing underneath Hannibal's gaze. "I'm ready when you are," He manages, and at that, Hannibal holds out an arm. Will hesitates for a split second before taking it, and when he does, he can't help but think that it's the final straw. That he's finally given in.
He feels light headed as Hannibal leads him out the door.
Will can't read the name of the restaurant that Hannibal takes him to. It's in Italian, and at this point he doesn't even bother asking. He trusts Hannibal's judgment and he's certain that whatever he eats will be delicious. After all, Hannibal is very particular about what he puts in his body.
As they sit down, Will can't help but be reminded of the first date that the two of them ever went out on. It had been to some nice restaurant of Hannibal's choosing - of course - and as they sat down, Will couldn't help himself from smiling.
"I don't see you as the type to eat out much," Will had murmured as he situated himself across from Hannibal.
"Why is that?" Hannibal had asked in return.
Will remembers muttering something about how Hannibal is too good of a cook to go out. That anyone else's cooking must taste terrible to him, and he remembers the smile that had creased his face at his words.
"While I appreciate the compliment," Hannibal had mused, grinning at Will, "I do enjoy going out every once in a while."
And before Will had the chance to reply, Hannibal had added, "Especially when I'm lucky enough to have good company, such as yourself."
Will can feel the blush creeping up his neck at the memory and can't help but smile distantly. Of course, Hannibal notices, and brings it up once their waiter steps away from their table. "What's on your mind, Will?" He asks, a seemingly innocent question, though Will knows better.
He hesitates before he answers, but ultimately decides to go with the truth. Hannibal will know if he lies, and the last thing Will wants it to be punished for it. He can’t stand being cooped up in the hotel room any longer. "I was thinking about the first time we went out together," Will murmurs, gazing up at Hannibal from across the table, "That Mongolian restaurant."
Hannibal smiles slightly, "I remember that night well."
"I do too," Will returns. He also remembers the way that Hannibal had kissed them after they returned home that night, soft and gentle and tentative, as if Will had been some kind of fragile, priceless gem.
"Is it a good memory?" Hannibal asks, and Will can't tell if it's because he's genuinely curious or because he wants to see what he will say. Either way, he replies honestly again, closing his eyes.
Dinner is exquisite. Hannibal orders red wine for the both of them, and when Will isn't sure what to get - or what half of the items on the menu are - Hannibal points out something that he might like, and he takes the suggestion. It's delicious, of course, but Will has come to expect that any food that Hannibal enjoys will be great.
Throughout the night, it becomes harder and harder for Will to remember why he's so scared of him. Hannibal makes a point to keep the conversation light - he doesn't bring anything about the Bureau or their escape up - and Will completely plays into it, allowing himself to remember what it's like to be treated well. He allows himself to imagine that he and Hannibal are still passionate lovers, as they had once been. He allows himself to remember what it was like to fall into Hannibal's bed - into his kiss and his touch - at the end of a night like this.
And by the time he climbs back into Hannibal's car, Will feels warm. Content. He allows himself to forget the events of the past couple of weeks. He allows himself to forget about the scarring cut on his hand and the investigation going on back home. Right now, he's Hannibal's lover, and Hannibal is caring for him, taking him home for the night.
He even has to resist the urge to reach across the car as they drive back to the hotel room in silence, just to have some kind of contact with Hannibal.
The air is cool and the night is quiet by the time they make it back to the hotel. Will hugs his blazer - the one that he's slowly becoming more and more comfortable in - around himself as they walk from the car to the lobby, and when Hannibal wraps a protective and warm arm around his waist, he doesn't even shy away from it. In fact, he even leans into the welcome touch. And maybe it's the bit of wine in his system clouding his judgment, but Hannibal's touch feels good.
The elevator ride up to their room feels long, and Will shifts from foot to foot, watching the numbers climb up. He's not sure if it's because he's anxious to get back - to get out of the expensive clothes and into something more comfortable - or if it's because he's anxious to see what happens once the door closes behind them.
Surprisingly, it's quiet once they make it back to their room.
"Did you enjoy dinner?" Hannibal asks, tone conversational and light. He flicks on one of the lamps before crossing the room, pulling off his blazer and hanging it over a chair.
"I did," Will replies easily. It feels good to talk to Hannibal now, as if they're back where they started once again. And before he has a chance to think about what he's about to say and the possible reactions to it, he adds, "I enjoyed the company, as well."
Hannibal turns at that, and suddenly, the room feels a whole hell of a lot smaller than it actually is. "Did you?" He asks, taking a few steps in his direction. He's loosening his tie as he walks, and Will can't keep his eyes off of his neck.
He wonders if it still tastes the same as it did a month ago, before any of this happened.
"Yeah," Will breaths out, mouth suddenly dry. Before he knows what's happening, Hannibal is right in front of him, reaching out to touch his face just slightly, fingers careful and soft. Will closes his eyes and lets out a deep breath, leaning into the contact.
When a pair of familiar lips press onto his own, he's not surprised, and in fact, he welcomes it warmly.
Though they haven't kissed - properly kissed - in weeks now, Hannibal lips still feel like home, slotting comfortably against his own. Will sighs out against him, relaxing almost immediately into the touch and the gentle press of Hannibal's lips and body. He kisses gently at first, hand cradling Will's face with care, the other coming around the wrap around his waist, and it makes Will feel safe, loved.
When his lips part, Will moves with him, compliant and completely accepting. And Hannibal remembers exactly how Will likes to be kissed, with teasing little nips at his bottom lip, followed by the soothing press of his tongue.
Within a minute, Will feels himself being backed up slowly, until he feels his back hit the wall. Hannibal pulls away for a split second, as if to see that he's okay - that they can do this - and before he knows what he's doing, Will grinds forward, rasping out, "Please."
That's all it takes before Hannibal is leaning in again, this time kissing at the junction of Will's neck and his jaw, just below his ear. And Will melts at the touch, hands clawing their way up Hannibal's back, suddenly hyper-aware of the many articles of clothing separating the two of them.
When Hannibal's lips find his own again, they're hot and wet and he kisses with purpose. He presses Will just slightly harder into the wall, hands coming up to rake through his hair, nails dragging over his scalp, and Will whines at the touch, falling apart underneath his hands. He bites rougher, less controlled at Will's bottom lip, almost hard enough to draw blood, and Will just simply arches forward in response, body moving on its own volition.
He doesn't even notice it when Hannibal shucks off his blazer, letting it fall to the ground, and complies immediately when he feels fingers undoing the buttons of his shirt. If he could see through the lust filled haze in his mind, he might be slightly concerned about where things are headed, but with the way that Hannibal kisses him, taste flooding his mouth, he can't bring himself to care. Hannibal's hands feel hot against Will's body as they move upward, quickly making work of the buttons, and maybe it’s the wine talking but suddenly, Will wants nothing more than to be naked, sprawled out on the mattress underneath Hannibal's body.
Once his shirt is discarded, Will reaches forward, pulling roughly at Hannibal's tie. Hannibal bats his hands gently away, undoing it on his own before pulling his own shirt off, so they're both left panting, half naked against the hotel room wall.
"Bed," Will manages to rasp, voice gravely as he reaches forward, fingers hooking under the waistband of Hannibal's trousers. Hannibal doesn't even hesitate before he's pulling Will forward at the command, turning him and letting him fall backward onto the bed. He waits for Will to scoot up the mattress quickly, needy eyes locked on his own, before he crawls over him, straddling his hips.
"What do you need?" Hannibal asks softly, leaning in once he's close enough to nip just below Will's ear.
Will lets out a breathy moan underneath him before answering, just barely audible, "You."
"Will-" He begins to press, but Will is bucking up before he has a chance to finish, aching for any form of friction.
"Your mouth, please," He whimpers. He knows that Hannibal likes to hear him - wants to hear him talk and babble and beg - so he does exactly that.
And who would Hannibal be not to comply?
He presses a hot, wet kiss on Will's lips before making his way slowly down his body, kissing and biting as he goes, just hard enough to bruise slightly, but not enough to draw blood. Will moans at one particularly hard bite near his hip, arching up off of the bed, and Hannibal has to press down slightly to keep him still.
It isn't until Will feels Hannibal pulling his pants and underwear off that he finally looks down at him, eyes heavy with lust. He feels his stomach twinge and his cock jump at the sight of Hannibal looking back up at him, so close. All he has to do is just lean down and...
Before Will has a chance to finish that thought, Hannibal is licking a broad stripe up the length of his cock, eyes locked on his own. He lets out a low groan, head falling back to hit the pillows, and allows his hands to find their way into Hannibal's hair. He presses down just slightly, and Hannibal complies after a moment, sucking lightly on the head, just enough to earn another moan from Will.
Hannibal's fingers dig slightly into Will's hips, just enough to leave a mark, as he holds him down, steadying him as he takes him into his mouth/
And somehow - finally - that triggers something in Will.
Suddenly - behind his tightly closed eyes - Will's hazy mind is full of images from a dream he had not so long ago. Of Hannibal, pressing him down hard into the bed, fingers clawing their way into his skin. Of Hannibal, mouth on his cock, watching as he drags a knife into his skin, blood pooling at the surface.
And suddenly, all Will can see is red. Bloody, thick, dark red, washing over him in waves. He can see Hannibal, pushing him backwards onto the bed, only now it's not a bed. It's the stag head in the meadow again, and as Will falls backward, antlers impale his back and chest, piercing through him with ease.
Hannibal’s teeth scrape his cock just gently, and that’s the final straw before everything shatters.
Will’s eyes fly open at that, hands tugging hard on Hannibal’s hair, pulling him roughly up and off of him.
"Stop!" Will all but screams, voice high and raspy, scurrying away. He's up against the headboard of the bed in a matter of seconds, hugging his knees close to his chest. "Stop, stop, stop!"
"Will-" He hears Hannibal's voice, far away and distant, but all he sees behind closed eyes is a monster. Behind his eyes, Hannibal fingers turn into claws. His teeth turn into fangs, and he's circling will like a predator, ready to pounce.
"Leave me alone!" Will yells, scooting as far away as he can. He buries his head in his arms, eyes squeezed tight as he murmurs, over in over in a whispered voice, "Please… Please don't kill me."
Will's breath is coming out it sharp, quick bursts now. His chest feels tight and his head is pounding, and all he can see is Hannibal, covered in blood, cornering him, long, thin smirk spread across his bloody face and razor sharp teeth. He tries to will it away, tries to push the images out of his head, but as hard as he tries, he can't.
"Will," He hears again, soft and careful, "You're having a panic attack. I need you to look at me."
Will shakes his head against his arms. "No," He mutters, "I can't."
Suddenly, Hannibal's hands are on him, pulling his arms away from his face, even as Will struggles, kicking and punching, to free himself from his grip. Hannibal is persistent, though, the hold on his arms tight, and finally, Will's eyes fly open, wide as they stare into Hannibal's.
He wants to scream for help - wants to cry and yell and beg Hannibal to leave him alone, to make it all end, anything - but his words get caught in his throat. He tries to inhale, but only manages a sharp gasp, his entire body going still. He’d be shaking, if it weren’t for Hannibal’s grip on his arms. He’d be screaming, if it weren’t for Hannibal’s eyes on his own.
He feels frozen.
"Breathe," Hannibal soothes. He loosens his grip on one of his arms to reach up and touch his face, palming his forehead softly, "I need you to breathe, Will."
He sucks in a shaky breath at that, trying to obey, but it comes out in a series of strangled coughs. Hannibal rubs a thumb soothingly into his skin, seemingly patient, willing to wait it out. "Again," He pushes softly.
Will takes another deep breath, and this time manages to exhale it shakily. He looks up at Hannibal through wide, wet, teary eyes - he hadn't even been aware that he was crying - and when he finally sees him, he sees nothing more than the man who had just been kissing him. No fangs, no claws, and certainly no blood. Nothing.
Still, the cut on Will's hand throbs as if it were a fresh wound.
"I'm sorry," Will mutters, eyes wide as they stare into Hannibal's careful, calm ones, "I'm so sorry, please don't hurt me." He doesn’t even know why he’s apologizing - he has nothing to be sorry for! - but he still does.
And if Will didn't know any better, he's say that it's amusement that he sees in Hannibal's eyes at his words. "Dear Will," He replies softly, thumb still rubbing soothing circles into his skin, "I could never hurt you."
Will wants to argue, wants to tell him that that's not true. That he’s already hurt him just by being himself - by killing and eating all of those innocent people, and by knowingly letting Will stare into those crime scenes for so long, climbing into his mind every single time. He wants to tell Hannibal that he hurt him when he dragged him away from his life in Wolf Trap, scarring him (mentally and physically) forever, but he doesn't. He's certain that Hannibal already knows all of these things, so instead of arguing with him, he allows Hannibal to pull him into his arms, murmuring soft, soothing words into his ear.
Instead of telling Hannibal that his hand hurts - that it throbs and that when he closes his eyes, all he can see is blood - he just sighs out through his nose, and allows himself to drift to sleep in his bed, in his arms.
Chapter 10: I Want To Slay My Demons
I try to keep my conscience clean
I try to keep myself out of your bad dreams
I try to wash my hands for you every night
Lest you find my strangling fingers wrapped around tight
I want to hunt like David
I want to kill me a giant man
I want to slay my demons
But I've got lots of them, I've got lots of them
- "David" - Noah Gundersen
*Warnings for this chapter include violence and slight sexual content
Hannibal tugs slightly at the rope holding his hands above his head, but it holds strong. He's sitting up against the headboard of the bed, hands tied tightly up above his head, arms pulled up straight and tight, and he's panting, staring at Will with hard eyes. He has a split lip, and as the blood slowly oozes out and over his chin, Will wants nothing more than to lick it clean.
It's humbling, seeing Hannibal like this. His hair is disheveled, falling in front of his eyes, and his expensive shirt is torn open, buttons ripped off and scattered across the floor. There are thin scratches littering his chest - just starting to swell and welt and bead with blood - and Will can't help but smile at his handiwork.
He wordlessly lets himself sink to his knees on the mattress, knife in hand and makes his way slowly across the bed toward Hannibal. The blade glints in the dim light of the hotel room.
It doesn't take long before he's straddling Hannibal's thighs, staring at him affectionately as he draws the dull side of the blade against his cheek. If he wanted, he could cut his throat now and be done with it. But he doesn't want that. What he wants is for Hannibal to fall apart underneath his hands before he watches the life disappear from his eyes.
Without warning, Will leans in at that, pressing a hungry kiss onto Hannibal's lips. He doesn't resist, but he also doesn't return the action, and Will can't help the way he snarls against him in return. He pulls Hannibal's lower lip into his mouth, savoring the metallic taste of his blood as he licks it clean. With a last nip at the injured, swollen lip, he pulls away, pressing his forehead into Hannibal's sweaty hair.
"Is this what you wanted?" He growls out. He can feel Hannibal's hot breath, panting against his lips. Can feel the way he trembles underneath him. "Am I everything that you hoped I could be?"
When Hannibal doesn't say anything in response, Will pulls away, grabbing his face roughly in his hand. He forces Hannibal to look up at him, staring directly into his eyes, his soul. "I'm a monster," He growls lowly, baring his teeth as he does so, "Are you happy?"
Hannibal's teeth are blood-stained red when he finally smiles back up at Will and rasps out a rough, "Yes."
He doesn't even have to think twice before he's plunging the blade deep into Hannibal's stomach. He savors the way his eyes widen with pain and surprise, the way he cries out sharply. Will twists the knife, watching as Hannibal's fists tighten around the rope, eyes squeezing tightly shut, and it feels good. Hannibal's pain makes him smile, wicked and evil.
When Will awakes, gasping and sweaty and trembling, it's still dark. The images of his dream are still very vivid in his mind, and he actually has to throw the blanket off of himself and feel his hands, just to make sure that they're not coated in blood. He can still see the way that Hannibal's face had twisted up in pain when he stabbed him, and he can still feel the way he smiled, watching it happen.
Will sits up at that, scrubbing his hands over his face quickly, willing for his eyes to adjust to the darkness so the images will go away. He glances around frantically, looking for something - or someone, even if it is Hannibal- to anchor him down, but even in the darkness of the hotel room, he can tell that he’s alone. Completely and utterly alone, and for the first time in a long while, he sort of wishes he wasn't. He sucks in a few more gasping breaths, willing himself to calm, and while it doesn’t work completely - his hands are still shaky, breath still coming out in short bursts - he manages to reach over and turn on the lamp next to the bed, illuminating the room.
To no surprise, Will had been right when he had assumed that he was alone. He glances around the room, still clinging on to a small shred of hope that maybe Hannibal is just in the bathroom -
He’s in the bathroom. He’ll come out and see me and help.
- but when he glances toward the door, it’s open and vacant. He’s alone. Horribly alone, and on the verge of a panic attack. His breath is still coming out in short bursts and the thought of what Hannibal is probably doing, out at two in the morning, only makes matters worse. It also doesn’t help that Hannibal was his first thought upon waking up. His first concern had been Hannibal, as if he needed confirmation that he hadn’t just watched the life disappear from his eyes.
Will tries to calm his troubled mind by reminding himself that Hannibal had been his anchor long before any of this had happened. Hannibal had been the one person that could bring him down from the edge of a panic attack long before he forced Will to run away to Europe with him. Long before Will knew of his true identity. So it only makes sense that even now, after everything, Hannibal is the first person that Will looks to for guidance.
Will distantly wonders - between sharp, painful breaths - if Hannibal planned it this way. If he had wanted Will to become dependent on him before revealing himself, so he couldn’t even run away if he tried. Regardless of if it was on purpose or not, Will realizes that it worked, and instead of fighting it, he relaxes, as Hannibal had instructed. He lets go.
Almost immediately, he feels better. He manages to suck in a deep breath, even if it pains his chest to do so, and exhales shakily, forcing himself to repeat the action, trying hard not to think of the terrible things that Hannibal has done, but instead, focusing on the good. He closes his eyes, remembering a time not so long ago when he had woken up from a nightmare and Hannibal had kissed it away, holding him tight until he couldn’t even remember what he was so scared of.
Thankfully, it works, and within another minute or so, Will is breathing deeply. He’s still shaking, but it’s mostly due to the cool air of the hotel room on his sticky, sweaty skin, causing him to shiver.
He opens his eyes at last, after a good five minutes of breathing deeply and thinking happy thoughts, and it isn’t until then that Will realizes that his hands are clasped together, one thumb digging into the palm of his other hand. It presses roughly into the ugly, scarring skin, almost enough to hurt, anchoring him down.
He’s certain that Hannibal would be proud.
Will stands after a few moments of staring into the dimly lit room, stretching his tired limbs before shuffling his way into the bathroom and flicking on the light. The brightness is too much for a moment, causing him to squeeze his eyes shut, but when they finally adjust, he finds himself staring at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror. He's not sure if he's surprised or not to find that he's fine. The same old Will, only a little bit more clean shaven and well-rested is looking back at him, and there's no blood. The only wetness on his body is from his sweat, matting his hair and leaving his skin sticky and uncomfortable. He's still shirtless from earlier in the night - his body is also littered in small, almost unnoticeable bruises and bite marks - and his face flushes at the memory.
He had let Hannibal kiss him, touch him, throw him on the bed. He had kissed back, moaned into his mouth and begged for more, and somehow, hadn't had a problem with it until things had become too much. He's sort of unsurprised by his actions - he knew that his willpower to resist Hannibal was only going to last so long - but he's embarrassed by the outcome. He vividly remembers his panic attack, wheezing in Hannibal's arms...
Please don't hurt me.
He sighs and shakes his head, closing his eyes. He's not embarrassed that he almost let Hannibal have his way with him, he's more so embarrassed that he had freaked out like that in the middle of it. Talk about crazy...
When Will finally makes his way back to the bed, shuffling across the room in darkness after leaving the bathroom, he tries not to dwell on the fact that he's alone in the room. Alone, with nobody to help him if he does have another episode again. He's certain that he won't now, after his most recent one, but still... It doesn't mean that he'll be able to fall back asleep easily. The images of his dream still burn low at the forefront of his mind, waiting to ignite again once he closes his eyes to sleep.
He tries not to think about how good it had felt to plunge the knife deep into Hannibal in his dream. He also tries hard not to think about what Hannibal could be doing, out at two in the morning, though he doesn't have to push his imagination too far.
He’s not sure how, but eventually, Will manages to drift off to sleep again, not long after his head hits the pillow.
When Will awakes in the morning, it’s to the sound of Hannibal cooking not too far away, in the small hotel room kitchenette. The distant sound and smell of sizzling meat, as well as the faint bubbling of the coffee machine bring Will to consciousness, mouth watering before he even opens his eyes. He lays in bed for a few moments after waking up, staring at the ceiling as he listens to Hannibal work.
His head feels heavy, body sore from battling with nightmares all night, and he wonders if Hannibal can tell. He wouldn't be surprised if he could. Somehow, he has a knack for knowing how Will is feeling before he himself even knows.
"Good morning, Will," Hannibal calls softly from across the room, as if reading his thoughts.
Will finally turns his gaze away from the ceiling and to Hannibal, standing in the kitchen. He's working on their breakfast, eyes locked on the stove, and Will distantly wonders if he even had to look to know that he had woken up. Once again, he wouldn't be surprised if Hannibal just knew.
"Morning," Will mutters. He doesn't move to get up, instead just turning on his side under the blankets.
"How did you sleep?" Hannibal asks, and Will already knows that it's a loaded question. He knows that it's a test, that Hannibal wants to know exactly how honest he'll be with him, so he decides to do exactly that.
"I dreamt that I killed you," Will says in a far away voice, still mesmerized by the way that Hannibal cooks. He wonders if he's preparing the man that he more than likely killed last night, out at two in the morning. He wouldn't doubt it.
Hannibal pauses his movements at that, turning to finally look at Will. "Was it a good or a bad dream?"
Will sighs out a deep breath, rubbing a hand over his face. "I don't know." Hannibal is quiet in return. He turns back to the stove again, but Will isn't fooled. He knows that he's waiting for an explanation. He sits up at that, swinging his legs over the side of the bed so that he's facing Hannibal. He runs a hand through his messy hair before continuing. "It felt good in my dream," He explains, "To kill you."
"But when you awoke?" Hannibal asks. He doesn't take his eyes off of the stove.
"Terrible," Will mutters honestly. He stares down at his hands, and he can still see the blood - Hannibal's blood - on them, coating them in thick, dark red.
"Would it feel good to kill me now?" Hannibal presses, and Will doesn't have to look up to feel his eyes on him.
He shakes his head immediately, mind spinning. He doesn't want to think about it. Doesn't even want to imagine it. He feels like being sick at the images from his dream, swimming around in his mind. "No," He murmurs.
He distantly hears Hannibal plating their food and crossing the room to set it on the small table. Hannibal doesn't speak, but he doesn't need to before Will is standing, making his way across the room and sitting opposite of him. He looks down at the food - eggs and bacon and sausage - and then to Hannibal.
"Did you kill last night?" He asks numbly, though he's certain that he already knows the answer.
"Would it make you feel better if I had not?" Hannibal asks in return.
Will just shakes his head in return, instead asking another question, "Did they deserve it?"
Hannibal's lips twitch up into a small smile. "He attempted to rape a woman outside of a bar." His smile grows even more when Will spears a piece of the sausage and bites into it. And once again, Will is certain that this is all part of Hannibal's plan, and he's walking right into it. Hannibal probably feels like a proud parent, watching Will eat his cooking. Hell, he probably feels proud that Will had a dream about killing him.
"Had you always planned on me finding out?" Will asks between bites, "Is this how you thought that things would go?"
Hannibal cocks his head to the side in return, setting his fork down to study Will. And Will can practically feel him digging around inside his mind, trying to figure out what he's getting at. At last, he leans forward, lacing his fingers together under his chin. "You have a beautiful mind, Will," He says, and it's not the first time that he's paid Will that compliment, "I always saw some of myself in you, so yes, I wanted you to find out. I hoped that you would understand."
And though he doesn't, not completely, Will can't deny that he's trying to understand. Maybe it's because it's in his nature, or maybe it's because he still harbors feelings for Hannibal. Either way, he's trying, playing right into Hannibal's plan.
"And you haven't disappointed," Hannibal adds, seemingly reading Will's thoughts again.
Suddenly, something clicks in Will's mind. Maybe it's because of his dream or maybe it's Hannibal’s words - I see myself in you - but he can't help but wonder just how far Hannibal's plan stretches. He can't help but wonder how much Hannibal expects from him. Before he can even mull it over, he's muttering, "You want me to kill."
It's not a question, but Hannibal answers. "Yes."
Surprisingly, the idea of it doesn't scare Will half as much as it used to. It still worries him, of course, but it doesn't surprise him. He knows that he should have seen it coming. Hannibal doesn't want him as a plaything. No, that would be too simple. He wants Will as an accomplice, a student. A partner.
"Why me?" He asks numbly, mouth working on its own volition. It's a fair enough question though. Why Will, of all people? Why not someone else who was already more like Hannibal? Why had he chosen someone who would fight him the entire way, versus someone who would gladly kill for him? He doesn't ask those questions, but Will is confident that Hannibal can read them, written all over his face.
"I've met other people," Hannibal starts, voice soft and careful, and Will wonders if it's just for him, "Who share the same hobbies as myself, so to speak. But they aren't you."
"Is that supposed to sound romantic?" Will asks, his eyes meeting Hannibal's. It's the first time he's actually looked at him in a while, and the smile that creases Hannibal's lips makes his face flush. Part of him distantly registers that it's pathetic that Hannibal can still do that to him, but that thought is buried and outweighed by many others.
Hannibal chuckles slightly. "I suppose that what I'm saying is, none of them are like you. They're not as pure as you. And definitely not even half as interesting." Will wonders what pure is supposed to mean - because he sure as hell doesn't feel it - but he doesn't ask. Instead, he has another question burning on his tongue.
"What happens when I stop being interesting?" He asks the question partially because he's scared of what Hannibal might do to him when he's finally sick of him, and partially because he's scared of being replaced by someone more willing to do what Hannibal asks. At this point, he doesn't even try to mask that fear. Maybe it's because Hannibal is the only real thing in his life right now, or maybe because he still loves the man. He can't be certain, not now.
Hannibal just smiles again. "That won't happen."
And just like that, the conversation is over. There are plenty more questions at the tip of Will's tongue - Are you going to make me kill? Will you kill me if I don't? What if I want to? - but he doesn't ask them. It's partially because he's hungry and is happy for the chance to finish eating, and partially because he's scared to know the answers.
After they finish eating breakfast - the breakfast that Will manages to stomach without a second thought of the person that he might be eating - Hannibal instructs Will to shower and get ready. "We're going out," He announces when Will asks why. "It's come to my attention that you haven't seen much of the city."
"And you want me to?" Will asks, even as he grabs for a clean plaid shirt and some jeans - ones that he had picked out for himself the day before - and heads toward the bathroom.
"This is our home now, Will," Hannibal replies, "It only makes sense that you learn your way around."
As Will makes his way into the bathroom and closes the door behind himself, he tries not to think about how Hannibal had said our home. He also tries not to think about how it made him feel.
It's strangely humbling when Will exits the bathroom to find Hannibal, clad in plain street clothes. The pale blue short-sleeved button up and the khakis have to be the simplest clothes that Hannibal owns, and they actually manage to make him look average - no different than any other man walking down the street outside of their hotel room. He looks human for once. It's a nice change.
"Where are we going?" Will asks as he follows Hannibal out of the hotel lobby and into the warm summer sunlight. He honestly could have gotten away with wearing a pair of shorts, but decides that he would have looked too dressed-down, especially next to Hannibal.
"There's an open-air market a few blocks away," Hannibal says, leading the way away from the hotel, "I figured it would be nice to find some fresh produce for dinner tonight."
"What's for dinner?" Will asks in return. Normally, he'd find it comical that Hannibal is already thinking about dinner, not even two hours after breakfast, but it's Hannibal. He's the type of man that has spent all day preparing dinner before.
"Heart," Hannibal replies, short and simple. And Will could leave it at that, pretend that it's beef or lamb or whatever else Hannibal would tell a simple, unsuspecting dinner guest, but he doesn't. He can't, not now.
"The rapist?" He asks in return.
Hannibal's step actually falters slightly at that, and when he glances to the side, Will swears that he sees a hint of pride in his eyes. Eventually, the small smile and light in them fades, though, and he replies. "No," He says quietly as they pass a young, happy couple on the street. "I'm afraid he didn't have one."
Will almost chuckles at the joke, but he holds it back because his answer begs another question: who's heart? Would Hannibal make him kill for dinner? How many people has he killed since they got here? Is he already racking up a body count in Europe?
"I killed him last week," Hannibal clarifies, seemingly noticing the worried look on Will's face. "I've been saving it for the occasion."
Will wants to ask him what occasion, exactly, but he can't bring himself to. Part of him doesn't want to know, and he keeps it that way. Instead, he matches Hannibal's step, walking with him toward the market.
When they finally round the last corner leading them to the market, Will is suddenly very glad that he came along. It's bright and vibrant and colorful, and it's full of people of all ages and sizes. A couple of children, no older than five or six, run in front of them from out of nowhere, laughing and giggling as they almost manage to trip Hannibal. Their mother chases after them, offering a smile and an apology, which Hannibal and Will quickly accept. The market is full of life and happiness and summer sun, and it feels good. It reminds Will of the Sunday farmer’s markets back at home when he was a kid, and he can't help the smile that creases his face at the warm memory.
"What do you think?" Hannibal asks, turning to Will.
And he can't help the smile that creases his face when he replies, "It's beautiful."
Hannibal begins to lead him forward again, through the crowds of people toward the market. And it is crowded. So much, in fact, that Will almost loses Hannibal a couple of times, as he struggles to follow him through the masses of people, too polite to shove his way through them. Eventually - weather it's out of instinct, or because he just needs to in order to keep up - Will reaches forward, grabbing Hannibal's hand as an anchor, so he doesn't get left behind. If Hannibal reacts to the contact, Will can't see from where he follows behind him.
As they walk together, Will can't help but remember the first time he had held Hannibal's hand. It had been after they went out one night. Hannibal had convinced him to accompany him to the opera, and though Will had insisted that he'd be out of place, Hannibal didn't seem to mind. They had just walked out of the building, and it was pouring rain, lightning spider-webbing out overhead. Hannibal had glanced his way, as if to ask what they should do, and Will had grinned like a little kid.
"We could run for it."
He had smiled slightly at Will's excitement and nodded in return, offering his hand, and Will had taken it, feeling like a teenage boy all over again. It had been a little humbling and a little hilarious, watching Hannibal in his expensive suit, running through the pouring rain, feet splashing in the puddles.
Now, as he holds onto Hannibal's hand, following him through the warm, dry market, he can't help the small lump in his throat at the memory. It was a good one. One that he had used before to scare away nightmares and demons when he stayed alone at his own house, away from Hannibal.
He almost doesn't realize that they've come to a stop in front of a table full of vegetables until he almost bumps into Hannibal, fingers still laced together. Hannibal spares him a small glance and a little smile before asking the man behind the counter something in another language.
Will squeezes his hand gently. Here in the loud, sunny market, it's easy to imagine that they're simply lovers, away on vacation. It's easy to imagine that Hannibal isn't a murderer. That it had been a mutual decision to run away to Florence for a while, just to get away from things. Will knows that it's not the case, but he decides that it doesn't hurt to dream.
He's brought out of that dream, however, by someone bumping into his shoulder rather roughly, reaching in front of both him and Hannibal to grab something. When Will looks up at the offender, he's met with a rather muscular, grumpy looking man, who sneers at him in response. He feels Hannibal's fingers tighten around his own, and he tenses, waiting for a confrontation - for Hannibal to do or say something. He knows that he wouldn't necessarily kill the guy out in the open like this, but he can practically feel the frustration radiating off of him when the man shoves them again. Hannibal stays still, unmoving, and that's when the man looks at both of them, eyes raking up and down, pausing momentarily at their linked hands.
"Fucking faggots," He grumbles before plucking a few more things off of the table - shoving Will again - and tossing some money at the man behind it. He's gone within a few seconds, and Will watches as Hannibal's gaze follows him and the woman with him as they walk away.
"Asshole," Will mutters, shaking his head. It's the first time someone's actually directed that word at him, and he can't help the bit of anger that bubbles up slightly at it. If only he knew who he was fucking with.
Apparently Hannibal is thinking the same thing, because when Will looks up at him again, he's still watching as the man and woman disappear into the crowd. What he doesn't expect, though, is for Hannibal to lean in, a couple of seconds after they disappear, and murmur, "How would you kill him?"
Will's eyes widen and he glances around, though he knows that nobody heard him, and even if they had, there's a large possibility that they don't speak English. "What?" He hisses, looking up at Hannibal.
"Tell me your design," Hannibal replies, voice low. His thumb runs softly, soothingly, over the top of Will's hand. "How would you kill someone like him?"
"Hannibal-" Will mutters in a hushed voice. When he just receives a pointed look in return, though, he adds, "I don't know."
"You've killed many times in your mind, in your dreams," Hannibal pushes, voice hot in his ear. It's as if the loud voices and music around them have cut out. The only thing that Will can hear - the only thing that he can feel - is Hannibal, burning hot at his side. "Tell me how you'd do it."
"Not here," Will hisses, looking around. People pass them by, laughing and chatting and shopping, and none of them even spare them a second glance. If only they knew what Hannibal was asking of him. "Please."
Hannibal's thumb digs into Will's hand in response, just barely applying pressure to the scarring cut on his palm. He doesn't say anything, and Will's certain that it's the only response that he's going to get until he tells him. Still, he fights it. "I can't. Please," He begs.
"You can," Hannibal returns, pressing harder into his hand. "Let go."
"Let go," Hannibal repeats, voice harder.
And at that, Will takes a deep breath. He closes his eyes tight, trying to imagine the scene in front of him. He imagines that they're back at the hotel room. The man is with them, tied up and unconscious in the bathtub. Will can feel a knife heavy in his hand, Hannibal's eyes hot on his back. Adrenaline pumps through his veins. He doesn't want to imagine it, but he can. God, he can. It almost comes too easy.
"I'd put him in the bathtub," He murmurs, his own voice sounding far away, "It would be easy to bleed him out there. Easy to clean up. Wouldn't leave a mess."
"Good," Hannibal replies, "Then what?"
"Something easy," Will mutters. He feels drunk with adrenaline. "I'd slit his throat quick, so he wouldn't make much noise. Nobody would hear."
His fingers flex around Hannibal's hand.
He can imagine himself slicing into the man's throat. He gets carried away, drunk with rage and cuts deep, nearly decapitating him. The blood is slick and hot on his hands and it feels good, flowing out over them and into the bathtub.
He can feel Hannibal's hand at his shoulder and he turns to look up at him. He looks proud, a wicked grin twisting across his features. Will reaches up to his face, smearing blood across his skin and into his hair before pulling him down for a searing kiss. He licks the blood off of his lips, moaning into his mouth.
"Good," Hannibal murmurs at his side, and the voice snaps Will out of it. His eyes fly open and he sucks in a ragged breath. He's standing in the market again, right where he was before - where the man so rudely shoved into them - and Hannibal is still at his side, gripping his hand. He looks up at Hannibal with wide eyes, and he's met with the same wicked grin from his imagination.
Chapter 11: We Let Go Of Ourselves Sometimes
I can feel your skin on my skin
How did it get so cold in here?
I need to crawl inside your shivers
We let go of ourselves sometimes
And I'm crawling inside your shivers
- "Inscape" - Stateless
*Warnings for this chapter include graphic violence
I'll also be making a playlist for this story, for anyone who might be interested! I'm working on it right now and it should be up by the next update. It'll include any songs I've used for chapter titles, plus any others that I think fit this.
I'm also definitely open to suggestions if anyone has any songs that they'd like to be on it! :]
Two days pass before Hannibal announces their departure from the hotel. Two easy, uneventful days. After the scene at the market, Will goes back to the hotel room with Hannibal and helps him prepare dinner. Thankfully, Hannibal works with the meat, giving Will vegetables to chop and prepare. And though he's glad that he doesn't have to touch the heart, Will would be lying if he said it didn't get a little bit easier to look at it after a while of watching Hannibal prepare it. By the time they sit down to eat, it's noticeably easier for him to eat it than Hannibal's other meals, even knowing that he's eating human heart.
The other two days are quiet and uneventful. The first day, the two of them go for a walk around dusk. They end up in a small, secluded park, and their fingers end up interlocked. They hold hands on the way back to the hotel, but don't speak about it - or anything else, for that matter - once they're behind closed doors.
The second day, Hannibal is gone for the majority of the day. Will awakes to him getting dressed, straightening his tie in the mirror, and sits up, curious.
"I'll be out for the day," Hannibal says, looking at Will in the mirror. He doesn't turn around as he speaks. "If you get restless, there is a spare key on the table. There is also food in the refrigerator."
Will wants to ask him what he's doing - why he has to leave for so long - but decides against it. He can't decide if it's because he's afraid that he'll sound pathetic or not. He remembers how to function without Hannibal. When he doesn't say anything, however, Hannibal turns.
"I should be back before dinner," He adds, watching Will carefully.
And though he doesn't mean to ask it, it slips out. "Are you picking up dinner?" Will asks, a small hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Hannibal just smirks slightly, taking a step forward to brush his fingers softly against Will's chin. It fades after a moment, though, and eventually he steps away, face serious again. "We've plenty of meat here," He replies, "No use in drawing attention, right?"
Will feels a small lump form in his throat, and he isn't sure why. "Right."
Hannibal is gone for the majority of the day, and by about two or three in the afternoon, Will finally becomes bored enough to leave the hotel. He toys with the idea of checking up on the news - specifically if there have been any developments in the FBI's investigation of Hannibal - but ultimately decides against it both because he doesn't know the password to Hannibal's laptop, and because he's sure that Hannibal has been keeping up with it. He'd say something if there were any significant developments. He decides that it's for the best that he doesn't look, anyway, in the end. He doesn't want to see Alana's sad face or Jack's angry one again.
So, after a little deliberation, Will finds himself leaving the hotel room, walking down the same street as the day before, toward the park that he and Hannibal had gone to. It's busier in the afternoon, and it's a nice sort of freedom, being out there on his own. He finds an open bench on the edge of the park and sits, watching families and tourists stroll through. It's a nice day, nice enough that he doesn't regret the shorts he decided to wear as he sits, basking in the sunlight.
He realizes that if he wanted to, he could leave. He could go back to the hotel room, take his things and any money that Hannibal may have left behind, and run. He doesn't have any phone numbers memorized, but he's certain that he could somehow find a way to get ahold of Jack, notify him of his whereabouts, and be rescued in no time.
He's not sure why he doesn't, because there are plenty of reasons, the main one being that this is more than likely a test. He honestly wouldn't be surprised if Hannibal were watching him now, just waiting for him to attempt to make a move. He wouldn't be surprised if Hannibal had left him the key and the freedom to leave, just to see what he'd do.
There's that, but there's also the fact that some part of Will - some part deep down, that's just slowly beginning to surface - that doesn't want to be saved. A small part of Will doesn't want to go back to Baltimore and his old way of life. It's the part of Will that, deep down, still loves Hannibal Lecter. That still sees him as a friend and a lover. That part of Will would be happy if he never had to look at a dead body and tell Jack Crawford what he sees ever again. That part of Will doesn't mind being Hannibal's pet if it means an easy, less stressful life. Even if it means sitting by and watching Hannibal rack up a body count in Europe.
So when he returns to the hotel room early that evening, it's without a fight.
Surprisingly, Hannibal is already back, standing behind the stove and working on dinner when he walks in the door. "Hello Will," He says without even glancing up, reminiscent of how he would talk to Will when they first met, when Will would step into his house or office, looking for guidance. "How was your day?"
"Hey," Will breaths, kicking off his shoes. Suddenly, he's immediately worried that Hannibal might be upset with him for not being there when he returned. "Sorry I wasn't here, I-"
"It's quite fine," Hannibal insists, glancing up at him, "Did you have a nice walk?"
Will studies him for a moment, trying to determine if he's telling the truth or not - if he's really alright with it - before he replies. "Yeah, I did." It's honest. Florence is growing on him, though it's hard for him to dislike the beautiful city.
"Good," Hannibal replies, turning back to the food in front of him, "Have a seat. Dinner is almost ready."
The food, once plated and placed in front of him along with a glass of what promises to be a very expensive wine, looks delicious. Will distantly wonders what Hannibal would tell his dinner guests back home, if they were to ask what it was. Regardless, he can't help himself. He is hungry - he didn't eat any lunch - and it smells delicious. He eats with a smile on his face, and when he looks up, he can see a small grin on the corners of Hannibal's lips as well.
"After dinner, you need to pack," Hannibal announces suddenly, about halfway through their meal.
Will raises his eyebrows, fork freezing midway to his mouth. "Why?" He asks, and suddenly, he's worried. Had he done something wrong? Were they leaving Florence? He had just started to like the city. Hell, he had just started to accept that things might be permanent.
"We're leaving in the morning," Hannibal answers, taking a bite and watching Will's reaction. It's as if he savors the worried look on his face. But before Will has a chance to stammer anything out, he clarifies, "We're not leaving Italy, just this hotel."
"But I-" Will mutters, wondering where they're supposed to go.
"I've found a more permanent place for us to live," Hannibal says, watching Will carefully.
"That's where you went today," Will infers softly.
"It is," Hannibal replies. He even shoots him a smile, "And I think you'll like it."
As he continues eating, Will tries not to think about the fact that he'll be officially living with Hannibal, come tomorrow. He won't just be a captive or a prisoner anymore - though he's certain he might still sometimes feel like one - but instead, they'll be living in a house. Together.
He also tries not to think about the fact that at one point, he wouldn't have minded that. Living with Hannibal. And he tries not to think about the fact that he might still be okay with it.
Late the next morning, Will's bags are packed at sitting by the door. He stands in the bathroom, staring into the mirror one last time while he waits for Hannibal to bring the car around for them to leave. Once again, this could be his chance. His things are packed and Hannibal is gone. It may be a small window of opportunity, but he knows that he could escape if he wanted to. If he wanted to.
Still, he doesn't.
Instead, Will stands in the bathroom, staring into the mirror at his own reflection, and instead of dwelling on why he doesn't run out the door and away - away from Hannibal and this terrible, terrifying life - he thinks about how much things have changed since they first left for Florence. He remembers the flight and the car ride to the hotel vividly. He remembers being terrified, feeling betrayed, almost getting sick on the side of the road. He remembers the fear he felt when Hannibal had grabbed the knife in his kitchen and sliced into the palm of his hand.
Now, when he presses a finger into the long, puckered mark in his skin, he doesn't feel that fear. Unsure? Yes. But afraid? No. No, he doesn't feel fear as he traces the scarring skin from one side of his palm to the other. He feels nervous for what the future may hold, but not afraid. When he pushes down hard on one end - it's the part that’s still healing, that hurts just slightly - he feels grounded.
When he looks into the bathroom mirror, his eyes look clearer. He hasn't had a nightmare in three days, and it shows. The bags under his eyes are almost gone, and his skin looks richer. More alive. He takes a deep breath and straightens out his posture.
Things aren't perfect. They're far from it, actually. He's still not certain that he can trust Hannibal, but he has to. And while that still scares him a little, he lets it go. For his own sake, he doesn't fight it. And when Hannibal appears in the doorway again, ready to leave, Will picks his bag up and follows him with ease, sparing one final glance back toward the hotel room.
He distantly wonders if Jack and his team are still looking for him back in the States.
The house isn't too far from the city, but it's far enough away for privacy. Will sits in silence as he watches the now familiar buildings surrounding their hotel room disappear and dissolve into smaller, unfamiliar ones, and eventually into rolling hills and trees and spacious looking farm houses and villas. He realizes, once they're almost out of the city, that it's his first time seeing Italy (besides the few blocks surrounding the hotel) in the daylight. He's stunned into silence at its beauty, and suddenly realizes why Hannibal chose here of all places. Though he's seen plenty of photos in magazines and online, none of them do the gorgeous countryside justice.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Hannibal asks, after a good ten minutes of silence.
Will doesn't reply, and instead just watches as the scenery passes them by. He doesn't ask where they're going or how far away it is, even if he is curious, and instead sits quietly. Anything will do. Anything promises to be more beautiful than anything he has even dreamt of living in, he just knows it.
When they reach the end of the long driveway that Hannibal eventually turns down, he's not proven wrong. It's nothing too special, just a small, white farm house, tucked away in a hill and hidden by plenty of trees - Will is certain that Hannibal had chosen it specifically because it was secluded - but it's gorgeous.
Will distantly registers Hannibal opening his door for him and leading them toward the front door, and he distantly registers him smiling slightly before unlocking and pushing the door open. He follows on legs that numbly carry him forward while taking everything in, completely overwhelmed. And even as he walks into the first room - the kitchen - he can see himself getting used to this. Even if it is with Hannibal.
The kitchen is bright, open and airy. It's white, with large windows and a sliding glass door that leads into the dining room from the back yard, and if he closes his eyes, Will can imagine himself relaxing at the table while Hannibal cooks. He can imagine a dog running in through the open glass door, wagging his tale as he nudges Will's hand for a pet. He can imagine the warm delicious smell of Hannibal's cooking, having people over-
"What do you think?" Hannibal's voice grabs him tight and shakes him out of his imagination. Will's eyes open - he hadn't realized that they'd been shut - and he looks up at Hannibal.
"It's beautiful," He breaths out before he has a chance to think about it. Before he has a chance to think about what he just saw behind closed eyes, and how it could never happen. He couldn't really be that happy with Hannibal again. No, not with the blood and anger and fear tarnishing their relationship. He could live with him, and he could make this life work - maybe even enjoy it and the beauty of Florence a little - but be happy like he was before? No, he can't see that. Even if he were to close his eyes again, he doesn't think he could.
"It has two bedrooms, a master and a guest," Hannibal explains, leading Will through the house. The living room is just as spacious and beautiful as the kitchen; relatively modern and clean looking, and Will wonders how much Hannibal spent on it. At this point, he's not even surprised that he had enough money prepared. "As well as the back yard and land."
"And privacy," Will adds quietly as he follows Hannibal up the stairs toward the bedrooms. He already plans on taking the guest room, deciding that the master is more fitting for someone like Hannibal, given the situation. He doesn't voice this opinion, but he's sure that Hannibal gets it.
Hannibal doesn't have to ask him if he likes it. Will makes that very apparent when he sits down in the new dining room for dinner that night with a small smile on his face. Somehow, he's completely unsurprised that Hannibal already has the kitchen and refrigerator stocked with everything they might need. He eats the food that Hannibal makes for them without question and without pause, and Hannibal doesn’t even try to hide the smile that graces his features at that.
However, when Will goes to bed that night, retreating into the guest bedroom while Hannibal takes the master with a soft goodnight, he can't help but feel lonely. For the first time since leaving the sates, he has privacy. He has his own room away from Hannibal, where he can be alone with his thoughts without being watched or analyzed, and he feels lonely. He finally has what he wants, and he longs for Hannibal's presence. For his touch. They haven't kissed or so much as really touched since the night that Will had the panic attack, and part of him wants it. Part of him actually misses it.
He doesn't go to Hannibal, though. Instead, he curls up in the cold bed by himself, and attempts to fight off the empty, aching loneliness.
Will dreams of Hannibal.
It starts on their first night at the small, white house, and it occurs every night afterward like clockwork. When he wakes, Will finds himself wondering if it's possible to be haunted by someone who is still very much alive.
He doesn't tell Hannibal about his dreams. He can't decide if it's a good or a bad thing that they're not all bad, either. He still has dreams of blood and death, but thankfully, none of them are as strong as the ones he used to have. None of them end with him waking drenched in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. And other times, his dreams are good. They're easy and happy and so real that Will sometimes wonders if they were when he wakes in the morning.
He dreams of loving Hannibal again. He dreams of lazy Sundays like the ones they used to have back in Baltimore, only now they take place in the bright, open kitchen of the house in Italy. Winston and the other dogs are there sometimes, when he looks out the sliding glass door, running around in the grass and playing. Even they're happy in his dreams.
Hannibal will wrap his arms around Will's waist while he looks out the window, messy morning hair and pajamas reflecting slightly in the glass. He'll smile, lean in, and kiss softly at Will's neck.
"Come back to bed," He'll sometimes murmur softly, voice intoxicating.
"The dogs," Will argues softly, though he can already feel his resolve disappearing. Everything is white and soft and beautiful in the kitchen in his dreams, though it isn't too unlike real life. In his dreams, everything has this glow, though. It's calming.
"They'll be fine," Hannibal will whisper in response, nipping softly at the skin below Will's ear, "We have nothing to do, come back to bed."
And in his dreams, Will always gives in.
In other dreams, he kills with Hannibal. And even after those ones, he doesn't wake gasping for breath or drenched in sweat. In fact, those dreams are almost as calming as the others. They usually have that same soft white glow about them, only they're covered in deep red blood, flowing through his fingers and over his hands.
In those dreams, Hannibal will hold their victim down while Will slices her throat, watching the life disappear from her wide eyes. In those dreams, the blood feels good - calming - as it rushes over his hands. In those dreams, he and Hannibal work as one, killing and gutting their victims together. A team.
Hannibal will grab him in those dreams, hands soaked in blood, and kiss him lovingly, soft and deep and slow.
Those dreams are surreal, and while they scare Will at first - he has one of them on their first night in the house - after a week, he's used to them. In fact, he sort of likes them. Even if he doesn't want to admit it.
So it's a surprise, about two weeks into living in the white house, when Will finally has a nightmare.
He recognizes the girl from somewhere, but where?
She has long, pale blonde hair, and wide blue eyes. She looks scared when she stares at Will, body frozen still, and he doesn't understand why. When he takes a step forward, she takes a step back. When he reaches a hand out to help, she flinches.
"What's wrong?" He hears himself ask in a distant voice. Nothing feels real. There's no soft, white glow anymore. No, now they're standing in the woods, surrounded by trees. It's dark.
She opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.
"Let me help you," Will begs softly, "I can help. Just tell me what's wrong."
She tries to speak again, but her mouth just opens and closes, like a fish out of water.
"Please, I can help," Will tries again, pleading.
That's when he feels one hand, soft on his shoulder. He doesn't even have to look to know that it's Hannibal before the other is at his waist, holding him softly. He just knows. Hannibal's touch is calming. Soothing. "Don't you remember, Will?" Hannibal asks softly, lips brushing his neck as he speaks, "You killed her."
Will tenses. "I - what?"
Suddenly, the girl transforms in front of him. Her silent, gasping mouth begins to choke on blood as it trickles out of her lips and flows freely from a deep stab wound in the center of her stomach. Her entire shirt is soaked with it, and before long, it begins pooling at her feet. Still, she gasps and chokes, somehow still alive.
Then he remembers her. He remembers circling her like an animal, pressing her up against a tree, and cutting her open, watching her blood spill out over his hands.
"Do you remember?" Hannibal asks softly, pressing a kiss to Will's neck.
"Yes," Will hisses in return, watching her bleed out. She slumps to the ground, weak.
"How did it feel?"
"Good," Will replies immediately, "So good."
"Good," Hannibal echoes in a growl.
Will's eyes fly open and for the first time in a two weeks, he awakes with a sharp gasp.
He can clearly see the poor blonde girl with her long hair and her blue eyes in the darkness of the room, and he sits up, scrubbing his hands over his face as if he can wipe the image away. He's not covered in sweat, thank god, but he feels off.
He's had plenty of dark dreams in the past couple of weeks, but none that woke him up in the middle of the night like they used to, and he wonders if it was just a phase. He wonders if he's going to start having nightmares again, if he'll wake up tomorrow drenched in sweat and on the verge of a panic attack, like he used to, and that scares him.
Before he can think about it anymore, Will leans over, turning on the lamp on the bedside table, lighting up the room. It helps the image of the girl disappear slightly, but he decides that he can't go back to sleep. Not now. If he closes his eyes, all he'll see is her, and he doesn't want to. Not now. So instead of lying back down and trying to calm his mind, Will gets up and out of bed, heading out of the room and down the stairs for a glass of water.
To his surprise, the kitchen light is already on when he reaches the open room, and he looks around for a moment, searching for Hannibal. It wouldn't be a surprise if he left in the middle of the night to go grocery shopping, so to speak, but Will wonders if he would have purposely left the kitchen light on. He chooses not to think about it, though, when he doesn't see anyone or anything, and instead pulls a glass out of a cabinet and fills it with water.
As he leans up against the kitchen counter, he toys with the idea of telling Hannibal about his dream. It shouldn't worry him, but he has dreamt of the girl more than once, and the dream itself had been pretty out of place. As his psychiatrist, Will wonders if Hannibal could be of any help. Maybe he could tell him what it means. Though, he realizes that if he tells Hannibal about this dream, he'll have to tell him about his other not-so-bad ones, and he's not sure if he wants to. He likes to keep those ones tucked away in the back of his mind.
Halfway through the glass of water, Will sighs, leaning back and closes his eyes in an effort to calm himself. Maybe the dream is nothing. He's probably just over thinking it. People have reoccurring dreams all the time. He vividly remembers the stag and how it had eventually disappeared into nothing after a while. Maybe that's what this is. Nothing.
When Will opens his eyes again, he's looking down at the kitchen floor, and that's when he notices something that he hadn't before. The keys to the car are lying almost directly in the middle of the white tile floor, as if they had been dropped and left, forgotten. He swallows hard, sets his glass of water down, and leans to pick them up before turning to take in the rest of the kitchen. Hannibal is nowhere to be seen, and Will wonders where he could be. Where could he have gone and forgotten the keys in the middle of the floor?
"Hannibal?" Will calls softly. He surveys the kitchen and the bits of the dining room that the light touches, and doesn't see any visible signs of a struggle. He would have known if someone had broken in, right?
When he doesn't get a response, though, Will begins to get worried. He flicks on the lights in the dining and living rooms, searching for someone or something, but finds nothing. Everything is in place, save for the car keys.
Will takes a deep breath, deciding at last to head back upstairs. Maybe Hannibal had gone out and gone upstairs when he returned, leaving the keys in the kitchen. He hadn't noticed if the light in the master bedroom had been on when he left his room, but he also hadn't been looking. Maybe it's nothing.
When he reaches the top of the stairs, he flicks on the hallway light, and almost immediately regrets it.
Down the long expanse of the hallway, smeared all the way from the top of the stairs to the open master bedroom door, is blood. It's not thick, but it's definitely blood, and it's definitely not dry. Through the open door of the dark bedroom, Will can see that the light in the adjoining bathroom is on, and he regrets not grabbing a kitchen knife or some form of defense before heading up the stairs. His presence would more than likely be known now.
"Hannibal," He calls softly, voice a little more sure. Maybe Hannibal had just hurt himself. Not too badly, judging from the way that the blood doesn't pool, but...
He shakes the thought from his head, and instead, continues down the hall, stepping around the blood. He distantly wonders if it's already on the bottom of his feet from when he more than likely sleepily walked over it before and cringes.
Once he reaches the doorway to Hannibal's empty bedroom, Will takes a deep breath. Still, nothing can prepare him for what he sees when he rounds the corner toward the bathroom.
Will would be lying if he said he hadn't imagined Hannibal killing since he discovered his true identity, but even imagination doesn't compare to the real thing. No, it doesn't even come close. When he'd wake up alone in the hotel room in the middle of the night, he'd have to shake away thoughts of Hannibal strangling the life out of someone, cutting their throat, or killing them as the Ripper would. However, imagination is one thing. Hannibal Lecter, right in front of him, sleeves rolled up to the elbows and hands red with blood is another.
Will can't help the gasp that escapes his mouth before he covers it with his own shaking hand. He's seen plenty of dead bodies, and he's seen plenty of dying bodies, but Hannibal Lecter covered in blood working over a body...
He doesn't run, though. Where would he go? No, instead, Will stays still, eyes never leaving Hannibal's. Hannibal, who stops his own movement as well. He has a knife in one hand, the other on the body in front of him in the bathtub. The body that Will is trying very hard not to look at.
"Look," Hannibal murmurs, as if he can read Will's mind. And maybe it's because he's so used to obeying him in his dreams or maybe it's because he wants to, but Will listens, gaze traveling from Hannibal's eyes to the man slumped in the tub.
He immediately recognizes him as the rude, homophobic man from the market, when they had gone a few weeks ago, while they were still living out of the hotel room. The man that Hannibal had asked him to kill in his mind. And when he blinks, he sees his design. It clicks instantly. Hannibal created his design. The man is slumped forward, but Will can tell that his throat has been cut by the way that the blood stains the front of his shirt. Part of him feels guilty. Part of him feels sick. And the other part? Proud. He buries that part, though. Fights it away.
"It's-" He manages to mutter, looking from the man to Hannibal, who nods. "Is he dead?"
"You killed him," Will says numbly. It's not a question, and he'd already know the answer if it were, but Hannibal still answers.
This is my design.
Will stares, speechless as he takes in the scene before him. If he didn't know better, he'd say that Hannibal did this for him. He'd say that it's a gift.
I made it for you. I did as you said.
And hell, maybe it is. His eyes remain fixed on the body in the tub, just the way he had pictured it two weeks ago, and he knows that he did this. This was his idea, his design. Hannibal had simply put it into action.
When he closes his eyes, Hannibal's motive in the market that day is suddenly very clear. To open Will up. To make them more alike. When he thinks about it, he always saw this coming. It was always going to come down to this. Even still, it scares him.
"Come here, Will," Hannibal says, standing from where he kneels at the side of the tub.
Will shakes his head slightly, still staring with wide eyes. His chest feels heavy with guilt and his hands shake. He can't step foot in the bathroom. Can't be in the same room with his creation. This is a mistake. It wasn't supposed to actually happen.
"Will," Hannibal presses, shaking him out of his thoughts. Will's gaze turns from the man to Hannibal who holds out a bloody hand to him, "Come."
And though every bone in Will's body screams at him not to - if you take this step, you're done for, you'll be just like him - he gives in. He lets go. He takes that step forward, letting Hannibal take his hand. The blood feels cool and slick on his skin. When he closes his eyes, everything is soft and white.
"This is your design," Hannibal says softly, positioning Will in front of himself, one hand holding one of Will's, one on his waist. "Look."
"Hannibal," Will murmurs, eyes closed tight.
"It's okay," Hannibal assures, though it's anything but. There's a dead body in the bathtub and while he didn't put it there, he feels like he did. "Open your eyes."
And though the guilt is still heavy in his chest, he does as he's told.
It looks just the same, standing close, only now Will can see the way that the blood coats the inside of the white tub, thick and dark. He remembers how he imagined it in his mind, quick and easy, and knows that it was executed perfectly. Hannibal is a good listener.
Hannibal shakes Will out of his thoughts once more by pressing the handle of the knife into his hand. Will starts at the sudden contact, pulling away to look at him, and Hannibal just smiles slightly. "I want you to finish," He explains.
"What's there to finish?" Will asks, knife heavy in his hands. If he were the same person that he was before, he'd realize that this is his chance to free himself from Hannibal. He just handed him a weapon, and he could use it to escape - to end all of this now - yet he doesn't. Instead, he just holds it awkwardly at his side. It's already covered in blood and it glints in the bathroom light.
"We must honor him," Hannibal says, a small smile tugging at his lips, "We can’t let the meat go to waste.”
"No," Will mutters. He suddenly understands where things are heading and he attempts to backpedal. Looking, he can do. Cutting out the man’s organs to eat in the morning, he cannot. "No, I can't," He begs weakly, trying to pull away.
"You can," Hannibal assures softly, reaching down to place his hand over Will's on the blade.
"Please don't make me," Will begs in return, though he knows it's useless.
"I'm not making you do anything," Hannibal counters, "You'll do it all on your own. I'm just here to help."
"We're going to take his lungs, unless you see anything else you'd like," Hannibal instructs, ignoring Will’s protests and guiding him to kneel at the side of the tub.
"Please," Will begs softly. He watches as Hannibal leans forward, lying the body down and tearing his shirt open so his chest is exposed.
"I'll be right here to walk you through it," Hannibal assures, as if that's supposed to make Will feel better.
Still, he holds on, the knife at his side. He can't do this. He won't. Hannibal can't make him. He can't make him like himself. He can’t turn him into a monster. It's not fair.
He's not like Hannibal. He's not. He can't do this. This isn’t him.
"Will," Hannibal's voice interrupts his thoughts and it isn't until then that Will realizes that he's sucking in sharp, quick breaths, on the verge of hyperventilating. "Calm down."
"I-" Will gasps, between harsh breaths, "I can't."
Suddenly, Hannibal's hand is on his own again, squeezing softly around the handle of the knife. It digs just slightly into his scar, and though it doesn't hurt anymore, Will can feel it. "Let go," Hannibal breaths, voice low next to his ear, "You need to let go."
"Hannibal-" Will hiccups, trying to calm his body.
"Listen to me," Hannibal presses softly, "Breathe."
And though everything in his body screams at him not to - if you do this, there's no going back - Will takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and nods shallowly. Within seconds, he feels himself relax. His breathing comes easier, slower, and his shoulders slump slightly, body relaxing against Hannibal's sturdy figure. His hands still shake slightly, but Hannibal holds them, rubbing soothing circles into his skin. After another minute, Will's body stills, and he finally feels calm.
"Open your eyes, Will," Hannibal instructs softly.
Will listens. The body is still laid out in front of him, shirt torn open and ready, but now when he looks at it, he doesn't feel fear and guilt. He feels at ease. It feels familiar.
This is his design.
"Are you ready?" Hannibal asks, hand still resting over Will's on the knife, and Will nods.
The second that Will's blade pierces the skin, he feels free.
Chapter 12: Your Love Is Like A Cancer
They say there's just one way it's kill or be killed,
If you show me the way I will, I will
And your love is like a cancer
And your sex is just a pill
I'll keep making love to kill myself
And keep fucking just to heal
- "Virgin Dirt" - letlive.
*This chapter's warnings include a little bit of violence and oral sex.
After they're done, Hannibal takes care of the body. He instructs Will to clean the bathroom and bathtub - and to clean himself up as well - and leaves with a soft touch on his hip and a smile dancing on his lips. Why wouldn't he be smiling, after all? He got exactly what he wanted. Will had cut into the lifeless body, listening carefully as he had instructed him, telling him what to do. And he had performed perfectly.
After Hannibal leaves, Will just stands in the kitchen, watching as the headlights of the car turn and disappear over a hill and into the night. Suddenly, he's alone. Horribly alone with his heavy chest and his thoughts, and thick, drying blood on his hands. He stands in the kitchen for a long five minutes, wide-eyed and numb before he finally retreats upstairs, obeying Hannibal's orders once more.
He takes the cleaner that Hannibal had supplied and scrubs the blood out of the wood floor in the hallway, leading to the bathroom. Thankfully, the bathtub isn't too bad - Hannibal had rinsed it out a little bit after removing the body - but parts of it are still stained red. When Will closes his eyes, he can see himself cutting deeply and carefully into the man’s chest, doing exactly as Hannibal says - whispering in his ear - and removing his lungs.
The blood washes off of the white bathtub and the tile floor relatively easily, and as soon as he's done, Will begins to strip out of his clothes, hot water running in the shower. He doesn't want to stand in the tub, where the man had been laying lifeless only an hour ago, but he still steps into the hot stream of water with shaky legs. The heat feels good on his tired body and he tries not to imagine that its blood washing over him. Tries, but all he can see is deep, thick red.
To his surprise, it doesn't scare him as much as it used to.
He scrubs at his hands until they're raw, picking flecks of blood from under his nails until he's certain that it's gone. Even after he's clean, he stands under the hot flow of water, letting the bathroom steam up until it's almost hard to breathe.
And even though he is clean - there isn't a trace of blood on him or in the bathroom anymore - he doesn't feel it. He can feel the blood, still slick on his skin. He can feel the weight of the knife of his hands. And he can feel the pride and pleasure that had radiated off of Hannibal as he did as he was told.
Worst of all, he doesn't feel bad. No, he may feel dirty and a little guilty and terrified at how easily he had given in, but he doesn't feel bad. It had been easy to slice into the man's skin and do as Hannibal told him. It had been easy to cut his lungs out and hand them over. It had been easy to let go and let his instincts take over. After all, he's seen it through the eyes of killers - through the eyes of The Chesapeake Ripper - hundreds of times now. Slicing into human flesh and watching the blood flow over his hands feels almost familiar now. It feels easy.
He thinks that maybe that's what Hannibal wanted. No, scratch that, it's exactly what Hannibal wanted. He knows that Hannibal knows him well, sometimes even better than he knows himself. Hannibal had to know that it would come easy to him. He had to know that Will would feel at ease doing it. He had to.
I'm not making you do anything.
And in his defense, he hadn't. He had pushed Will, yes, but he didn't make him slice into the man's chest. No, he did that all on his own.
And he had liked it.
I saw some of myself in you.
Will remembers Hannibal's words to him, one of their last days in the hotel together. Was this what Hannibal had seen? Will is certain that it is. After all, he had admitted to hoping that Will would kill with him one day. And while he hadn't done exactly that, it was close.
Part of Will wants to fight it - this isn't you, you're not like him! - but that part of him is so small, so tiny now, that it's just a quiet little voice in the back of his mind, outweighed by all of the others, telling him to let go and give in. Because if Hannibal had seen this in him all along, then it always had to have been there, right? It wasn't something that just magically appeared, and it certainly isn't something that's going to go away now. So while that tiny part of Will wants to fight it, the more dominant part of him decides against it. After all, it feels good to give in every once in a while.
Hannibal trained him well, he thinks.
When he turns off the shower, the bathroom is filled with steam, clouding the mirror and making the air thick and heavy. Will steps out, wrapping a towel around his waist, and walks to the mirror, where he wipes away some of the condensation with his hand.
Despite his lack of sleep - it's got to be well past two in the morning now - he doesn't look tired when he stares at his reflection in the mirror. No, his eyes are wide and bright. There are two small dark circles under them, still, but they're nothing compared to how he used to look, waking in the middle of the night. His face is clean, but when he blinks, he can see himself, covered in blood, snarling into the mirror like a wild animal. When he blinks again, that image is gone. He shakes his head.
He scrubs the towel through his hair, drying it slightly, before stepping out into the bedroom, cool air surrounding him and making him shiver. Water still beads down his shoulders and back where he neglected to dry himself off, and he lifts the towel, dabbing at his skin. He should go back to his room and find some clean clothes - ones that aren't soiled with blood - but just as he takes a step forward to do so, Hannibal walks into the room and he freezes on the spot.
Time seems to stand still for a moment, as the two of them lock eyes.
He looks just the same as he did when he had left, but the image of him, still clad in the bloody dress shirt, sleeves rolled up and collar unbuttoned, stuns Will. His hands are clean - or cleaner than they were before he left - but Will can still see flakes of dried blood between his fingers and under his nails, and some part of him wants to reach forward and lick him clean. So that's exactly what he does.
Without warning, Will takes two long steps forward, closing the gap between the two of them, and grabs at Hannibal's wrist, lifting so his hand is eye level with him. He's leaning forward then, and licking a broad stripe up Hannibal's palm, to the tip of his index finger. He tastes of iron and dirt and soap, and he savors it, eyes closed. He repeats the action to his middle and ring fingers before suddenly, Hannibal is grabbing his head with both hands, ripping the hand out of his grasp, and kissing him, hard and rough.
The kiss takes Will by surprise, but it doesn't go unappreciated. He immediately melts into the touch and press of Hannibal's body, opening his mouth without even being asked. Hannibal's taste and smell and touch floods his senses, and while that tiny voice tells him that it's a bad idea - remember what happened last time - he whimpers into the kiss, arms wrapping around Hannibal and hands sliding up his back.
The towel drops to the floor.
Within seconds, Hannibal is growling into his mouth and pressing him backwards until his legs hit the bed and he falls over onto it. Hannibal's gaze is hard and dark as he crawls over where Will lays, naked vulnerable. He scrambles to reach the pillows, and Hannibal follows, eyes hungry.
A few weeks ago, the way that Hannibal looks, crawling over his body like a predator, would have scared Will. He would have had the panic attack much sooner last time, had Hannibal had that look in his eyes. Instead, Will finds himself sitting up on his elbows, reaching up for a handful of Hannibal’s shirt to pull him in for another searing kiss.
Hannibal is still fully clothed over him, but Will doesn't seem to mind, especially when he reaches down and pumps his cock twice, rough. When Will closes his eyes, he imagines that Hannibal's hands are still coated in thick, wet, red blood, and it marks him everywhere he touches. His hips arch up at the image and his head falls back on the pillows.
And maybe it's because they were lovers once before, or maybe it's because Hannibal just knows, but he takes that cue to start kissing and biting down Will's neck and chest, leaving a trail of spit and swollen bite marks in his wake. His hands slide up and splay over Will's stomach as he kisses lower, nipping at his hips and thighs. His skin is clean, soft and sensitive, and on a particularly hard bite on his inner thigh - Will's certain that it's hard enough to draw blood - his fingers clench around Hannibal's shoulders and he cries out.
"Please," He hears himself breathe, as one hand finds its way into Hannibal's hair. He presses his head down slightly, and he feels Hannibal own hands tense in return. This time, it doesn't worry Will, though. When he closes his eyes tight enough, he can imagine Hannibal's fingers digging into his skin, pulling him apart piece by piece, and it only adds fuel to the fire. He whimpers at the rough touch, hips arching up. "Oh God, please."
"Shh..." Hannibal soothes, tongue soothing his bite mark. It stings, and Will savors the burn. He's never been one for pain in the bedroom, but now he doesn't seem to mind it. He rather enjoys it, actually, when Hannibal's fingers flex and dig slightly into his hips, hard enough to bruise. He wants him to leave a mark. Wants to wake in the morning to dark fingerprints and bite marks dotting his skin.
"Hannibal," He breaths, head falling back as he thrusts up again. And thankfully Hannibal gives in at that - lets Will have what he wants - and lets his mouth wrap gently around the head of his cock, sucking slightly.
"Oh, fuck," Will's voice comes out as a low moan, and he can practically feel the way that Hannibal smiles around him, fingers digging into his hips again. He sinks lower, mouth hot and slick and slow, teasing Will as he drags it out, and Will's head thrashes back and forth on the bed as he tries his best not to thrust up into his mouth. When Hannibal pulls back again, it's all teeth, dragging lightly on his cock, and Will hisses, fingers tightening in his hair.
Hannibal pulls off at that - mouth wet and open and panting - and Will has to resist the urge to lunge forward and kiss his own taste out of his mouth when he looks down at him. "What do you want, Will?" Hannibal asks, playing his usual game. He wants to hear him beg. Wants to listen as he falls apart underneath him. Will resists the urge to thrust back into Hannibal's mouth - so close yet so far away - and lets his head fall back against the pillows again.
"Your mouth, please," He groans. He lets his blunt nails dig into Hannibal's shoulder slightly as if to prove a point. Hurry up before I do it for you. Hannibal just smirks in return, playing off of his impatience.
"How?" He asks, the word so soft that Will almost doesn't hear it though his own internal struggle not to shove his cock down Hannibal's throat.
"Fuck," He breaths in response, exasperated. He looks up again to find Hannibal watching him patiently. "Hannibal."
"Will," Hannibal returns with a small smirk.
Will lets out a deep breath. His fingers flex on Hannibal's shoulder again. He's going to leave marks, and that only makes matters worse. He wants to mark Hannibal. Wants to bite him and claw him and fuck him. "I want to fuck your mouth," He says at last, voice low, honest. The smile on Hannibal's face only widens.
"Then do it."
It's a response that Will hadn't expected from Hannibal - Hannibal, usually so in control - but he takes it. And even now, Hannibal is still in control of the situation. Even though it's Will, gripping his hair roughly and pressing his head down until he's swallowing around his cock again, Hannibal had made him ask - beg - for it. Hannibal still remains in control, even now, and that sets a fire in Will's belly.
He's tentative at first, only pressing until the head of his cock bumps the back of Hannibal's throat, but when he doesn't gag or pull away, Will gains confidence, pulling out only to push in harder. His hand tightens impossibly in Hannibal's hair, guiding and pressing him, and he can’t help but groan out at the image in front of him. Even as he's being used, Hannibal maintains eye contact with Will, gaze dark and hungry.
His head falls back again and he lets out a low moan, thrusting up up up into Hannibal's mouth. He's distantly aware that he's babbling, chanting Hannibal's name among please and fuck and other curses, but he can't bring himself to care or stop. Not with how Hannibal feels around him, wet and hot and slick.
The hands on his hips move down until they're under his ass and fingers dig hard into his skin, lifting him up and pulling him impossibly closer. Will can feel Hannibal swallow a moan around him, and that's all it takes before he's choking out a small warning - "Hannibal, I" - and coming hotly down his throat, mouth open in a silent scream.
Hannibal stays put until Will finally goes slack underneath him, loosening his grip on him before he pulls away completely, using one of the soiled sleeves of his shirt to wipe at his mouth. Will closes his eyes, scrubbing a hand over his face, willing himself to calm down, still sucking in deep, panting breaths. He's littered in purpling bruises and bite marks and his hips ache from where Hannibal had gripped him hard, but the pain feels good. It anchors him down. Allows him to breathe. To feel.
When he eventually sits up, it's because he feels the weight on the bed between his legs disappear as Hannibal gets up and off of the bed. Will watches as he peels his soiled shirt off, letting it fall to the ground uncharacteristically. "Hey," He breaths softly, scratching at the back of his neck, "I uh - what about you?"
Hannibal turns at that, small smile dancing across his lips. "It's alright."
"Tonight was about you, Will," He assures, crossing the room in a few long strides. He stands at the side of the bed, watching him carefully before he leans down, placing a hand softly on his bruising hip. He shares a matching purpling mark on his shoulder and Will smiles slightly. "How do you feel?" Hannibal asks after a long beat of silence, other hand coming up to caress his cheek. Will scoots over, allowing him space to sit at the edge of the mattress, and he takes it.
And while he has plenty to work through in his head after the events of the night - when he closes his eyes, all he can see is deep, fiery red - he replies quickly. "Better."
Hannibal nods, seeing right through him. "Good." He stands again, and Will immediately begins to protest.
"I need to dispose of our clothes," Hannibal explains as he picks his shirt up off the floor, "I won't be long. Get some rest."
And while part of Will wants to go back to his room - he needs to be alone with his thoughts - he opts for pulling Hannibal's comforter up and curling up in his bed. It's warm and holds his familiar smell, and while Will knows that it's completely fucked up, it's comforting for now. He drifts to sleep not long after he hears Hannibal's footsteps leave the room and make their way down the hall, and only awakes again when he feels the mattress dip with his weight, followed by the warm press of a familiar body on his own.
When he finally does sleep, it's dreamless, white and soft and calm.
Chapter 13: You've Gotten Into My Bloodstream
I think I might've inhaled you
I can feel you behind my eyes
You've gotten into my bloodstream
I can feel you flowing in me
- "Bloodstream" - Stateless
Hey guys! Sorry it took me a little longer than usual to get this chapter up. I've been super busy with work, and this chapter is kind of a big one and I wanted to make sure it was perfect because it's my favorite!
This chapter was also originally supposed to be the final one, but I added two more to serve as a sort of epilogue, and those should be up fairly quick compared to this one!
* Warnings for this chapter are VERY graphic violence, minor character death, anal sex, and a little bit of breathplay.
When Will wakes up in the morning, his body is curled up comfortably next to Hannibal's warm form. There's an arm draped over his waist and Will can't help but let out a small, content sigh. For a moment, things are exactly how they used to be. Hannibal sleeps peacefully at his side, holding him close and keeping him safe. He's naked under the sheets, and he's certain that Hannibal is as well and that doesn't worry him. Not anymore. Right now, they're just Will and Hannibal, comfortable and content, laying in bed on a late Sunday morning. Light filters in through the dark red curtains on the wall, casting a warm glow about the room.
As if on cue, Hannibal shifts at his side, arm tensing around him. Will knows that he's awake now - it's how he always wakes, tensing and stretching slightly before making his presence known - and Will takes it as his cue to turn so they're facing one another. They have plenty to talk about, but they don't have to now. In fact, Will would prefer it if they didn't now. He's momentarily distracted by a ray of light that hits Hannibal's face just right, and it's as if he can see highlights in his eyelashes. He wishes he could reach forward and count them.
For once, Will is the first to speak. "Good morning," He says softly, smiling slightly at Hannibal. In the morning glow of the bedroom, one would never pin Hannibal as a predator. No, not with his messy hair and sleepy eyes. He doesn't look like someone capable of knocking someone out, dragging them up a flight of stairs, and killing them in a bathtub, but he is. Maybe, Will thinks, studying his face, that's what draws him to Hannibal. You'd never know.
Hannibal offers a smile in return, fingers lazily tracing patterns into Will's skin under the covers, "Good morning, Will. How did you sleep?"
It's apparent that Hannibal already knows how he slept - of course he slept well after last night - but apparently he wants to hear Will say it. Wants the confirmation that he's given in. "Good," Will replies, letting his body relax into Hannibal's touch. If he wanted, he could end Will's life right here and now. Will is fairly certain that Hannibal could easily overpower and strangle the life out of him with no problem, but he trusts that he won't. Not now, at least. He allows himself to remain open and vulnerable. Maybe it's because he enjoys the risk.
"Good?" Hannibal echoes in return, his fingers stilling.
"Great, actually," Will amends, smiling sleepily.
"But you awoke in the middle of the night, did you not?" Hannibal asks. Obviously, he's referring to Will waking up, before he discovered the scene in the bathroom.
"Well yeah, but that was before-" Will's words catch in his throat, and he's not certain what to say or if he can even say it.
That was before I helped you kill. Before you had me cut a man's lungs out. Before we had sex.
Hannibal just smiles in response, understanding. It fades after a moment, though, and a look of concern creases his face, "Why did you wake up?"
Will sighs at the memory. If he closes his eyes, he can still see the blonde girl, clear as day, choking on her own blood, even though she’s the least of his worries right now. He'd rather not talk about it. It's in the past, done and over with. It seems unimportant compared to the rest of last night’s events, and he's certain that he won't dream of her again now anyway, though he can't place a finger on why. Regardless, he answers Hannibal's question, knowing that if he lies, he'll know. "Do you remember back home, I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream about killing you?"
Hannibal flinches slightly when Will says back home, but nods. "I believe so."
"It was right before," Will waves a hand, "Everything."
Hannibal nods, "I remember."
"I had a dream before that one, of a girl. I killed her, stabbed her in the stomach and began to eat her before it ended," Will explains, the image still very fresh in his head, "I dreamt about her again last night."
"What did she look like?" Hannibal asks. His fingers begin to trace patterns into Will's hip again, and it almost distracts him. His eyes fall closed as he remembers her.
"Blonde hair," Will replies. His voice sounds far away to his own ears, "Big blue eyes. Fair skinned. She was petite, much smaller than me. Couldn't have been older than twenty."
"How did you feel, when you killed her?" Hannibal asks in return. The question is reminiscent of the one that Hannibal had asked him in his dream, and Will actually opens his eyes, just to make sure that he is indeed awake. Sure enough, his eyes meet Hannibal's curious ones. He continues to softly trace figure eights into Will's skin.
"You asked me that," Will says instead of answering, "In my dream."
"And what was your answer?"
Will swallows hard, eyes falling closed again.
Let go. What have you got left to lose?
Just my humanity.
"Good," He breaths.
Hannibal leans in, pressing a kiss to his forehead.
Will opens his eyes again, tilting his head up to look at Hannibal. "What does it mean?"
Hannibal merely shrugs in response, sitting up. "It was just a dream, Will," He assures, "Nothing more."
"Come," Hannibal says, interrupting him, "We have much to discuss. I'll make breakfast." He stands at that, apparently done with their discussion of Will's dream. Will sits up as well, gaze following him as he crosses the room and pulls on a robe. He walks over to the dresser where he pulls out a pair of pajamas for Will and sets them on the edge of the bed.
And before Will has a chance to think about what he's saying, he's reaching forward to grab the clothes, asking, "Can I help?"
Hannibal doesn't even try to hide the smile the creases his face.
Hannibal doesn't ask much of Will. When they discuss things that morning over breakfast and coffee, it's light, easy. He barely even brings up the subject of the man that they slaughtered the night before, whose lungs sit in the refrigerator, ready to use for dinner that evening. And when he does mention it, it's in passing, so quick that Will almost misses it. He doesn't ask Will to kill with him - doesn't even mention killing to him - and while Will knows that it probably means that something is up, he ignores it. He ignores the low, burning red that he sees when he closes his eyes, listening to Hannibal's voice.
He knows that Hannibal will ask him to kill, he's just not certain when. He's also not certain what he will do, when presented with the situation. A month ago, he would have panicked, screamed, let Hannibal kill him if it meant not hurting another human, but now? Now, he's not so certain.
He doesn't know if it's because he's grown used to the fond gazes that Hannibal gives him, lingering long enough for him to notice, or if it's because he likes his new life, tucked away in the hills of Italy, away from everything he's ever known. Maybe it's easier for him to let go of his old self with every passing day. Because it gets harder and harder to remember what he used to be like with every day that he's submerged in Hannibal's world.
He's killed a million times in his head, and wonders how much different it could be in real life. Would he really be able to feel a pulse slow and disappear underneath his hands as he strangles the life out of someone? Would the blood really feel warm and comforting as he slices into their neck?
Regardless, Hannibal doesn't ask much of Will. Or at least, he doesn't for two days.
By now, Will is used to Hannibal being gone for extended periods of time, or late at night. He still wonders what he could be out doing - is he scoping out a potential victim, or is he rendering them unconscious right now? Will he kill them there or here? - but it doesn't make his stomach churn as much as it used to. He knows that should worry him, but it doesn't. Not half as much as it used to.
Sometimes, Will wonders if his old self would be disappointed in him. To be fair, everyone had sort of seen this coming, especially Freddie Lounds. She had called it from the get-go. She had even known at the press conference that Will had watched back at the hotel room. What did they really expect from a person who thinks about killing all day?
So he wonders if he would have been surprised if someone had told him that this is where he ends up. Honestly, he probably saw it coming, too. It was just buried under nightmares and hallucinations and dead bodies. He's certain that if he were to clean up his old memories and look at the signs, he was always destined to end up here, Hannibal Lecter's pet, just waiting for his master to tell him to kill.
He wonders if he would do it, if Hannibal asked. He wouldn't be surprised if he did.
Really, what else has he got left to lose?
For two days, Will spends the night in Hannibal's bedroom. He knows very well that he could go back to his own - he'd probably sleep just as well in there - but the comforting hand on his hip at night and the warm breath on the back of his neck keeps him there. He doesn't want to leave.
For two days, Hannibal doesn't ask much of him. Doesn't even bring up the man in the bathtub or the way that Will had skillfully sliced into his chest.
On the third day, though, Hannibal is out late.
Will gets anxious, sitting up waiting for him, but he doesn't really have another choice. He could try to go to sleep, but after two nights of getting used to Hannibal's touch and voice before drifting to sleep, he's not sure if he could do so without him. He realizes that he's become dependent on the man - that at this point, he'd probably do anything to please him - but he can't bring himself to care. For the first time in a long time, he feels light. His mind feels clear, free of stress and clutter.
It's long after eleven that night - Will has just finished eating leftovers from the night before - when Hannibal finally returns home. Will hears him come in through the front door, but doesn't move from where he sits in the living room for fear of seeming anxious.
Sure enough, Hannibal appears in the doorway to the living room anyway to greet him. His hair is matted, and Will swears that there's a thin sheen of sweat on his brow, but he doesn't ask, just smiles slightly. "Hey."
"I have something for you, Will," Hannibal says without a greeting, "Can you come into the kitchen with me?"
For some reason, Will's chest constricts. He's not certain what it is, but he knows by the look on Hannibal's face that it's something that he may or may not have mixed feelings about. And judging by the fact that there isn't any noise coming from the kitchen - just dead silence - he's probably right.
He nods, however, standing, and when Hannibal extends a hand to him, he takes it. He's not sure what he expects, but when he rounds the corner into the kitchen, even his imagination couldn't have prepared him for what he sees.
Lying in the middle of the clean, white tile floor - there's a soft glow to it, like everything that Hannibal touches - is a girl, bound by her hands and legs, lying on her side. She's unconscious, but very much alive, though she does have a decent cut on the side of her head, blood trickling out and matting in her hair. But none of that matters because Will is gasping, stopping dead in his tracks because she's the girl from his dream.
Obviously, she's not the exact girl, but her features fit the description perfectly. She's got long, fine blonde hair, and fair skin. She's small, petite, and Will is certain that if her eyes were open, they'd share that same striking blue color as the girl from his dreams.
He turns to Hannibal, eyes wide. "I-"
"She's for you," Hannibal says, voice soft but laced with danger.
He doesn't have to say it for Will to know what he's asking of him.
"You're going to kill her," Hannibal says, cutting Will off, words echoing the ones floating around in Will's mind. He watches him with calm, careful eyes, waiting for a reaction.
And Will even surprises himself when the only word out of his mouth is, "How?"
A faint smile spreads across Hannibal's face, "However you like."
Will lets his gaze drift from Hannibal to the girl on the floor. She's still unconscious, unmoving. If it weren't for Hannibal asking him to kill her, he'd think she might already be dead. She's a pretty girl, and young too. She has plenty of life ahead of her, and Hannibal wants him to end that all right now, no questions asked.
The worst part is, Will already knows that he's going to do it.
If it were anyone else, he might have a chance to fight back, to say no, to argue that they don't deserve it. Hell, she probably doesn't deserve it. She was just unfortunate enough to look similar to the girl in Will's dreams. And he's certain that Hannibal did it on purpose. That he knew that it would be easier for Will to kill someone who he had already killed in his mind.
He swallows hard, looking back to Hannibal.
"Can I have a knife?" He asks, voice numb. Hollow.
He's not surprised that Hannibal already has one before he asks. He takes the weapon when it's extended to him and it feels heavy in his hands.
"I don't-" Will breaths once he's standing there, knife in hand, looming over the girl.
"Let it come naturally," Hannibal replies softly, taking a step forward. He reaches out, a hand on the small of Will's back, as if in some form of encouragement.
Will kneels at that, and Hannibal remains, standing watch above him. The tile floor feels hard and cold underneath him, everything amplified now that he's so close. He can even smell her perfume, something sweet and flowery, when he leans in just slightly. When he reaches out, it's with a trembling hand, and no matter how hard he tries, he can't steady it, even as he grabs her arm, turning her body so she's lying flat on her back.
"Here?" Will asks, voice small. It's loud in his ears, though, as is Hannibal's when he replies.
"Yes, it's fine."
"But the floor-"
"Will," Hannibal presses, as if to assure him that it's not a big deal if he gets blood all over the clean white floor.
Blood. Oh god, he's going to bleed her out. He can already see it, a few steps ahead of himself. When he takes a deep breath, eyes closed, Will can see himself slicing a neat line down her chest to her stomach, opening her up. She’ll thrash underneath him, but it’ll only succeed in causing her to bleed out more. The blood will pool around her quickly. She won't last long. It’ll be over fairly quickly...
When he opens his eyes again, it's with a sharp breath at a sudden, soft hand on his shoulder. He glances up, and is met with Hannibal’s patient, dangerous eyes. And though a little voice at the back of his head screams at him not to - you’ll become a monster - Hannibal is waiting, and he needs to perform. He feels light, airy, as if it's not actually him leaning forward at that, knife ready and positioned. It's an out of body experience, like he's only watching himself straddle the girl's body, lifting her bound hands above her head.
He wonders if she'll wake up from the pain.
One second, he's closing his eyes, body numb, head light, and the next he's opening them wide and staring at his knife, buried deep into her chest.
Her eyes fly open. They're just as blue as he expected.
She squirms underneath him, mouth open to scream but nothing comes out. Instead, she chokes on her words - her pleas - just as she had in her dream. She attempts to lift her arms to push Will off of her or something, but suddenly, Hannibal is there, on the ground behind her head, holding them down. Her eyes go wide and she thrashes her bound legs, trying to free herself, trying to get away, but just as Will had predicted, it only makes her bleed out faster.
Will leans in at that, hand on the blade that's still pressed into her lower chest, just below her breast. His other hand, bloodied and shaky, comes up to touch her face, smearing blood on her pale skin. She attempts to shift, to pull away from his touch, but he's control. His hand remains on her face, forcing her to look up at him. "Shh..." Will murmurs, leaning in close, "Don't struggle, you'll only make it worse. This will be over soon..."
I’m sorry it had to be you.
She's crying now, silent tears streaming down her face at his words. He pulls the knife out at that, and she cries out as he does so. It's the first noise she's made since she woke up, and it's wonderful. It sends a thrill down Will's spine.
He looks up and locks eyes with Hannibal, and for a fleeting moment, time stands still. His stomach feels hot. The dull fire burning inside of him has ignited and flames lick at his chest and arms and fingers. He feels alive.
When he manages to pull out the trance, Will works quickly, as if on auto pilot. It's as if he suspected; after killing hundreds of times in his mind, it comes natural to him.
Will sets the knife down momentarily to rip her shirt open, exposing her chest and stomach, then picks the knife back up to cut her bra open. He can see the wound, now, and the steady flow of blood coming out of it, and can't help himself. He dips his fingers down, pressing just slightly into the skin, and she tenses underneath him, crying out hoarsely again. He thinks she'd be screaming, but she can't now. He's certain that he's punctured a lung. She doesn't have long, now.
He reaches up again to touch her face as he picks the knife back up again. "Shh..." He soothes again, as he dips the blade down, pressing it into her soft skin once more. This time, he starts in the center of her chest, just between her breasts, and cuts a shallow line, down, down until he reaches her abdomen. He wants to reach inside and open her up.
When Will finishes his cut, down to her navel, she stops moving. He doesn't stop cutting, however, and Hannibal lets him finish.
He's an artist.
This is his design.
Will doesn't black out and he doesn't lose time, which surprises him more than anything. In fact, everything is crystal clear; the thick red blood coating his hands, the slick slide of skin and muscle under his fingers, the smooth slice of the knife into her stomach. It's all right there in front of him as he does it, and it feels good.
When Will finally finishes, the poor girl's body is unrecognizable. He doesn't touch her face - maybe because it was the most important thing about her - but her entire torso is torn apart, littered in cuts and lacerations, some shallow, some horrifyingly deep. He's up to his elbows in blood and he's certain that there's some on his face and in his hair, too. There’s no saving any of her meat for a meal. It’s all ugly and hacked up into pieces, but that doesn’t matter. This is his kill, not Hannibal’s.
And Hannibal remains in place, behind the girl's head, sitting right across from Will until he's done. When he finally drops the knife to the tile floor with a dull clunk, Hannibal stands, offering a hand to Will, who stares up at him with empty eyes for a long, silent moment. Hannibal's hands are almost completely clean, somehow, save for a few drops of blood that had splattered up onto him. He looks clean though, compared to Will, which he finds odd given the circumstances. Some part of Will longs to dirty him - to grab his face and wipe the blood on him, to cover him as well - and it's that part of Will that reaches up after a long moment and takes his hand.
Hannibal helps him to his feet, steadying him with one hand on his hip. His legs shake slightly, but other than that, he feels good as Hannibal pulls a cloth off of the counter and begins to wipe some of the blood off of his hands. His mind feels clear. He glances down at the girl - at the massive amount of blood pooling around her body and at their feet - and knows that this is his doing. Not Hannibal's or anyone else's. Hannibal didn't make him slice her up like that, with so much passion and rage. No, he did that all on his own.
Her hair looks beautiful, stained red with blood, just as he had imagined.
He looks back at Hannibal at that, whose eyes burn with intensity and fire and most of all, love. And that’s when he realizes it. Hannibal loves him. Maybe not in the conventional sense of the word, but it doesn't make it any less real. Hannibal sees him for who he truly is - he always has - and isn't disgusted or horrified. He loves it. And at that realization, Will is suddenly overcome with emotion. He lets himself fall forward, and Hannibal catches him, holding him close against his chest, hands cradling him softly.
"Thank you," Will breaths softly, finally breaking the silence between the two of them. He doesn't remember the last time either of them spoke before he started cutting into the girl, and they are the only words that come to mind. "Thank you."
"How do you feel, Will?" Hannibal asks in return. One of his hands strokes Will's hair, the other staying still at the small of his back, holding him in place. Of course he would ask that question, always the therapist.
Will pulls away slightly, so he can look at Hannibal when he answers.
And when Hannibal pulls him in for a crushing, bruising kiss, it doesn't take Will by surprise. He kisses back just as hard, leaning in to the touch. Without thinking about it, Will's hands come up to tangle in Hannibal's hair, tugging and successfully smearing still wet blood through his hair and on his face. Hannibal doesn't seem to mind, however, because then he's pulling Will closer, growling into his mouth.
When they eventually part, Hannibal catches Will by the wrist, and before Will has a chance to react, he's leaning in, drawing a blood-stained finger to his mouth and licking it clean. Will freezes, wide eyed, watching as Hannibal smiles to himself, licking his lips. Once he pulls the finger away however, Will is quick to lunge forward, eager to lick the taste out of Hannibal's mouth.
He tastes of iron and arousal and danger, and it tastes good. Will lets his eyes fall closed, moaning into the kiss, relaxing completely against Hannibal, letting him take the wheel for once.
Hannibal responds almost immediately, hands hard, pressing into the still-healing marks on Will's hips.
"Bedroom," Hannibal rasps out when they part, and Will notes that he's actually breathless for once, panting against his lips.
"But-" Will starts to argue, remembering the body on the floor next to them.
"I will dispose of her later," Hannibal assures, fingers digging harder into Will's skin, and that's all it takes to convince him. With a small push from Hannibal, he's leading the way through the kitchen and up the stairs, with one last glance at the blonde girl in a pool of blood. Arousal pools in the bottom of his stomach, and while part of him realizes how utterly fucked up this is, he can't bring himself to care. Not with the way he can still taste blood in his mouth from their last kiss, or the way that Hannibal still has one hand on his hip, gentle and guiding.
Will doesn't even have time to shut the door behind them before Hannibal is slamming him up against the wall of the bedroom, one hand on his hip, the other holding onto his jaw roughly, just barely pressing into his throat. He can still breathe, but just barely, and of course, that only fuels the fire inside of him.
"Hannibal," Will breaths, eyes raking over the man in front of him. He has small streaks of blood on his face and in his hair from Will's hands, and Will can't help his urge to mark him up more - paint him in red. It's a good color on him. It's fitting.
Part of him feels like he's really seeing Hannibal for the first time.
And Hannibal just smirks in response. He presses harder into Will, tilting his head up with the hand on his jaw, exposing his neck, before leaning in and sinking his teeth gently into soft flesh. Will doesn't doubt that if Hannibal wanted to right now, he could kill him. Rip out his throat with a sharp bite of his teeth and be done with him. He could end his life right here and now, and there's nothing he could do about it. But he won't, and Will knows it. Not now.
Sure enough, the teeth on his neck eventually turn into lips and tongue as he sucks a mark into the skin before pulling away. Hannibal's eyes are heavy-lidded and full of lust when he pulls away again to look at Will, and it's almost a familiar sight, save for that hint of danger lingering in them.
It is a familiar feeling, however when Hannibal leans in again after a moment, pressing their lips together quickly before murmuring softly against them. "Tell me what you need.”
"You," Will breathes in return almost immediately, "Please."
And at that, Hannibal is pulling away, motioning for the bed. Will wastes no time in making his way over to it, stripping his shirt off and tossing it to the ground as he goes. His hands are still drying, still stained with blood, and he pauses just before the bed, suddenly worried that he'll ruin the sheets. And of course, Hannibal, sensing his apprehension, closes the gap between them in a couple of strides, grabbing his wrists.
"Should I-" Will starts, but is abruptly cut off by a pair of lips on his own.
"No," Hannibal growls out in response, pressing their foreheads together when they part, "Don't you dare."
And without warning, he's shoving Will backward, letting him fall onto the bed - soiling it with the blood - before climbing over his hips. Hannibal pulls his own shirt off as he follows Will, scooting up the bed, and leans down once he hits the pillows.
When they kiss, it's rough and deep and demanding, and everything Will never knew he needed. He lets his wet fingers tangle in Hannibal's hair, blood still smearing and spreading, and moans into his mouth, arching up. A month ago, he would have never been able to imagine himself in this position, but now? Now, he wouldn't have it any other way.
When Hannibal pulls away at last to mouth at Will's neck, he can't help but babble. "Fuck, Hannibal," He breaths, "Please."
"Please what?" Hannibal murmurs into his skin, even as nimble fingers reach down to undo his jeans, always one step ahead of him.
"Fuck me," Will moans, breathless and soft. It earns a sharp nip at his neck from Hannibal, and he can't help but cry out again. "Please, Hannibal, oh God..."
Within moments, his jeans are gone - discarded and tossed across the room - as well as his underwear, and then he's laying naked underneath Hannibal for the second time in a week, and he's not even close to a panic attack. In fact, he's pretty sure that if Hannibal were to grab a knife right now, or bite until he breaks the skin - like in Will's dreams - it would only add fuel to the fire, burning low in his stomach.
Will's eyes are closed tight, his own breathing and moans loud in his ears, so it comes as a surprise when suddenly, there's a wet finger circling around his hole. His eyes fly open, fingers clutching at Hannibal’s shoulder and any other skin he can reach, and he breaths out a soft plea before Hannibal is pressing inside of him slowly.
Hannibal prepares him gently and efficiently, dragging it out slow and easy until Will is a writhing mess underneath him, hands reaching up to clench and unclench on his biceps. He tries to arch up to kiss him or press into the fingers or have any form of extra contact, but with the way that Hannibal presses down on his shoulder with his free hand, knees barricading his legs, he can’t move much. So instead, Will settles with groaning out a mumbled plea, letting his head lull back on the pillows.
And surprisingly, whatever he mutters out seems to work because after a few more agonizing moments, Hannibal is pulling away from him. And though it leaves Will empty, hips arching up off of the bed at the loss of contact, he can hear the rustling of clothing from not too far away. And if he weren’t so focused on the sound of Hannibal undressing quickly and quietly in front of him, he’d open his eyes and glance up to meet the hungry look in Hannibal’s. He doesn’t, though, but his imagination supplies a similar image. One of Hannibal, the same predatory smirk on his face, only there’s blood on his hands - more so than there is now - and it drips over the sheets and Will’s skin as he crawls over him. Will shivers at the thought.
He’s brought quickly out of his mind, though, when the bed dips and he can feel Hannibal’s weight next to him and his hand on his hip.
“Will?” Hannibal asks, breaking the silence between them. It’s a soft question, and when Will opens his eyes to look up at the man asking it, he realizes that it’s for reassurance. For permission. Because once this happens - much like many other events in their relationship - there’s no going back. And fuck, even under the horror and blood and sex, Hannibal really does care about him.
“Yes,” Will finds himself breathing out. Before he can register what he’s doing, he’s leaning up and pressing his lips hungrily to Hannibal’s, muttering out small pleas between wet kisses. “Yes. Please, Hannibal.”
Will finds his legs being nudged apart at that, Hannibal settling in between them again before he leans down, biting at his chest and pressing inside of him. It’s almost a little too tight - Will knows that he should have let Hannibal prepare him more - but he can’t quite bring himself to care and bites down on his bottom lip as he pushes back against him, eyes slipping shut at the sensation of being filled. He reaches up, hands gripping Hannibal’s arms tightly once more.
Part of Will – a very distant part, masked by pleasure and adrenaline and lust – wonders how easy it would be to reach up and snap Hannibal’s neck, here and now. By the soft huff of air he lets out, lips hovering closely to Will’s own, he’s just as engrossed as Will is. It wouldn’t take much. He could be quick. Hell, Hannibal might even think that he’s pulling him down for a kiss. He wouldn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. Wouldn’t even see it coming.
But when Will finally opens his eyes, any of those thoughts, as distant as they might be, go right out the window. Hannibal stares right back down at him, eyes still hungry, predatory, but pupils blown out in lust. Will reaches up, tangling his fingers in Hannibal’s hair, but he doesn’t pull. He doesn’t grab the sides of his face and snap as he had been imagining moments before. No, instead, he uses the grip as an anchor and leans up, closing the gap between their lips and kisses him roughly.
When they part and Will licks his lips, he can taste blood and he wonders if it’s his or Hannibal’s or if it’s from the girl downstairs. He wouldn’t be surprised, with the way that her blood stains his hands and Hannibal’s face and hair. And he’s not surprised at how that thought only makes his hips arch off the bed more, aching for contact.
“Move,” Will manages to grit out hoarsely, and Hannibal complies, hips thrusting forward sharply. It earns a sharp tug on his hair and a cry from Will, and Hannibal smirks in response, leaning down to kiss at Will’s neck, setting the pace. It’s rough and hard and fast, and with the way that Hannibal grips his hips tightly, fingers pressing into the already sensitive and bruised flesh, biting down on his chest with every few thrusts, Will knows he won’t last long. Still, it doesn’t stop him from chanting out pleas and curses, along with Hannibal’s name under his breath.
“Hannibal,” He whines between sharp gasps of air, grip on the other man tightening impossibly. He’ll leave matching bruises along his arms, and that realization only makes the heat pool in his stomach quicker. “Please…”
Suddenly, Hannibal’s breath is hot on his skin. One hand snakes up quickly from his hip to enclose lightly around his throat and his thrusts still, just for a moment. It all happens in the blink of an eye, and by the time that Hannibal is speaking, Will is still trying to catch up, hips canting upwards because he’s not moving and he should be.
“Beg,” Hannibal whispers lowly into Will’s ear, accenting the word with a sharp nip at the lobe.
Will sucks in a harsh breath in response. One of his hands has found its way around Hannibal’s wrist, and while he’s not quite sure if it’s because he wants to pull to hand around his neck away or if he likes it there, he can’t help but whimper at the command. “Hannibal-”
“What do you want?” Hannibal asks, though there’s no way that he doesn’t know the answer to that question. Not now, not with the way that Will writhes and gasps underneath him. “Fucking beg.”
And it’s as if that - and the tightening of Hannibal’s hand around his throat - flips a switch. “You, you,” Will mutters out, fumbling over his words, half moaning and stuttering as he speaks, “I want you. Please - god - Hannibal, just move!”
Instead of complying, though, Hannibal just tightens his grip around Will’s throat, just shy of cutting off airflow. Will grasps at his wrist, but doesn’t make any move to pull away. Still, for a split second, he wonders if he made the wrong decision, not killing Hannibal when he had the chance.
“Do you still hate me?” Hannibal asks, voice low, barely above a whisper. And Will isn’t even remotely surprised at his immediate response.
“No,” He whines, still hopelessly trying to arch up for some form of contact, “I don’t - I can’t - Hannibal please!”
And apparently, that does the trick, because then Hannibal is leaning in, biting at Will’s neck, and thrusting forward roughly. Will practically roars, fingers scrambling for purchase on Hannibal’s skin once more as he starts a rhythm again, pounding into him.
“Hannibal, please - I’m gonna-” Will starts, but a moan cuts his plea short when Hannibal reaches down, wrapping a hand around him.
“Come on, then,” Hannibal murmurs in his ear, his own breathing hard and labored as well. “Come on, Will.”
And that’s all it takes before Will is clutching onto Hannibal’s shoulders, mouth open in a silent scream as he comes. His muscles tighten, body going rigid as he rides out his orgasm, and Hannibal follows closely behind, letting his head fall to Will’s chest as he comes down.
Usually, they’d give eachother a few moments. Usually, they’d take a moment to gather themselves before Hannibal rolls off of Will, kissing him briefly on the lips before retreating to the bathroom or rolling over to drape an arm around his waist. Tonight is different, though. Tonight, Will doesn’t wait. He immediately reaches forward, pulling Hannibal’s head up and off of his chest and leans forward to press their lips together. And before Hannibal has a chance to do or say anything, Will is pulling away, looking directly into his eyes and murmuring out, “Thank you.”
Chapter 14: When i Met Death
When I met death, we bended like a mile high tree
Climbin' his shoulders, admirin' the scene
A forest set fire, as I wept in fear for things
I knew i was hidin' between the good, and you,
"When I Met Death" - Right Away, Great Captain!
*Warnings for this chapter include graphic violence.
One more left! Hope you guys enjoy! This chapter was a fun one to write too.
It's the light that filters in through the cracked curtains that wakes Will up one lazy Wednesday morning. He can faintly hear the sound of birds chirping in the tree outside the window as he blinks his eyes open, and he smiles to himself. If he thought that Florence was pretty before, it's even more beautiful in the Fall, and he can't wait to get up and get out of the house. They don't have anything planned for the day, and maybe Hannibal will want to join him on a walk, or go to the market later.
It's been a little over three months since the incident with the blonde girl, four months since they moved into the little white farmhouse, and a little over five months since they arrived in Italy. Almost half a year away from his old life, and Will feels...
Well, if he's being honest, he feels incredible.
He sits up and swings his legs over the side of the bed, glancing around the room. He's not surprised that Hannibal is already awake and, by the smell of it, cooking breakfast, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't like waking up next to him.
He yawns, stretches, and stands on sleepy legs, shuffling out of the bedroom and down the hallway.
It's been two months since his last nightmare. Two months since the last time he woke up in a cold sweat, confused and scared. If he really thinks about it, his mind has never felt clearer. In fact, he can't remember the last time he felt so good.
He smiles sleepily as he walks into the kitchen, running a hand through his messy hair. He really should get it trimmed, and decides that maybe he'll do that today, if he gets the chance. Hannibal glances up from where he's frying something - someone - and shoots Will a small smile.
"Good morning, Will," He says cheerfully, turning back to his cooking.
"Morning," Will replies. He moves easily around Hannibal, reaching over his shoulder to grab a mug before crossing the kitchen again to pour himself a cup of coffee. "What's for breakfast?" He asks as he leans up against the counter, stirring in some sugar.
"French toast," Hannibal answers, turning off the stove, "And sausage."
Will smiles to himself, inhaling the aroma of the meat, "Sounds good."
Hannibal nods in return, plating the sausage as Will watches. Across the room, he hears a scratching at the sliding glass door and when he looks up, there's a very anxious looking dog staring back at him. Will smiles, setting down his coffee and crossing the room. As soon as he opens the door, the animal bounds inside, running circles around Will's legs, only stopping to nudge at his hand.
"He likes you more than me," Hannibal comments from across the room, and Will looks up in time to catch the faint smile on his lips. It’s a rare thing, to see Hannibal really smile like that, and he stores it away.
"It's because I give him more table scraps than you do," He teases in return.
When the dog - Nomad, as Will eventually named him - came to them a month ago, he was scrawny, homeless, and nameless. He was skittish, and ran away in fear the first two times that Will had approached him, but with some coaxing (and some of Hannibal's cooking) he had come around. Surprisingly, Will didn't even have to ask before Hannibal offered to let him keep the dog, and at the time, Will had wondered if it had been a gesture of good faith.
Stay with me, and you can keep him.
Dog or not, Will probably would have stayed. By that time, he was already too tangled up in Hannibal to want to leave.
"What will you call him?" Hannibal had asked the first night that the dog had finally come to them. He was on the porch, eating leftovers out of his palm as Will stared in wonder.
He thought for a moment - eyes lingering over the dogs protruding ribs and black marks on his face - before answering, "Nomad." He had looked up at Hannibal at that, "It means wanderer. I figured-"
"It’s a good name," Hannibal had replied, hand on Will's shoulder, before he had a chance to talk himself out of it.
"Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" Will asks later that evening, patting an excited Nomad on the head as he paces back and forth in front of him, staring at the leash in his hands. Hannibal will occasionally come along on their evening walks into town, but as Will gets ready to leave, he's still cleaning off some dishes from dinner, busy.
"Certain," Hannibal replies with a small, reassuring smile, "I've got a few things to do, and it looks like he's getting impatient." He glances down at Nomad, who is now jumping up at Will's legs, whining excitedly.
Will smiles and leans down to clip the leash onto the dog's collar. When he straightens himself back up, he leans in, pressing a quick kiss to Hannibal's cheek. "We'll miss you..." He murmurs, smiling softly. Hannibal shoots him an identical smile in response - kind and soft and simple - and dries his hands off to walk him to the door. And at that, Will is on his way out into the cool fall air, struggling to keep an excited dog in control. "We'll be back soon," He calls over his shoulder, and though he can't see him, Hannibal offers a small wave in response.
The walks are good for Will. Sometimes, he just stays around the rolling hills around the house, taking a left at the end of the long drive. When he does that, he'll let Nomad off the leash once they're far enough away and sit in the grass, watching as he runs around, happy and free. Other times, he'll walk into town. The tall buildings, winding streets and smiling faces are pleasant, as are the kids that will occasionally run up to him and ask to pet his dog.
He takes a right at the end of the driveway, heading toward town.
The walks are good for him, because it brings a bit of normalcy to Italy and Hannibal and his life. When Hannibal joins him, they're just an ordinary couple, taking their dog on an evening walk after dinner. When Hannibal goes with him, they'll sometimes hold hands, smiling at passers-by as they walk down the street.
When Will goes by himself, he gets a little bit of freedom - gets to breathe a bit - and allows himself to forget the things that he's done. When he goes by himself, he closes his eyes, allows Nomad to lead him and lets his mind go blank. When he goes on walks on his own, he forgets - even for a little bit - about the blood that coats the bathtub when they kill at home, or the way that human flesh feels under his fingers when he helps Hannibal cook.
Yeah, the walks are good for him. They're good for his relationship with Hannibal, and they're good for his mind and they make him happy. The walks that he takes in the evening with his stray are a little slice of normalcy for Will. They help him stay grounded and sane.
So as he walks with Nomad, just as he gets into town, he can't help the small smile that creases his face. He can't help the way that he feels just a little bit lighter, a little bit more at ease, even if it is starting to get a little cold as the sun begins to set and he distantly wishes that he had brought a coat. But even with the slight chill in the air, he feels good. The sun lights the streets and buildings and rolling hills up in gold, and it's enough to take his breath away. Six months ago, he wouldn't have been able to look at it and see beauty, but now? Now, he smiles as he walks, steps easy and light.
The walk doesn't last as long as usual due to the slight chill in the air, though, and just as Will is turning around, ready to head back home, he hears someone call his name.
Normally, that wouldn't be odd. Though he and Hannibal aren't too horribly social, they do have a few friends and acquaintances that live nearby, and it wouldn't be odd for one of them to say hello. What is odd, however, is for someone to call his real name. He and Hannibal took to introducing themselves by their fake names - easier to stick with, if need be - so the people that they know here only know him as Alex, not Will. So when someone calls out a faint "Will!" behind him, he chooses it ignore it and keep walking, assuming it's meant for someone else.
That is, until they call him again, closer, and he swears he recognizes that voice from somewhere, he just can't place a finger on the person it belongs to. His chest suddenly drops, heart in the pit of his stomach, and his step falters. He keeps walking, however, eyes fixed straight on the road in front of him. As he walks, though, he can hear the faint clicking of heels not too far behind him, speeding up to match his pace. He's suddenly aware that he's being followed, and swallowing hard, he makes the decision to divert his path down an alley way, just in case. Even Nomad becomes anxious at his behavior, pulling at the leash more than normal.
Maybe he's just going crazy, though. It wouldn't be the first time. Maybe he just misses being called by his real name, since Hannibal is the only one who really knows it anymore. Who would want to follow him, anyway? No, maybe he's just hearing things. He hasn't heard that voice in months, besides, they wouldn't be here. They-
"Will Graham," They call one last time, voice steady and sure, still obviously following him down the dimly lit alley. He knows that voice now - it's clear in his head - and he's not just hearing things. Still, he doesn't turn around. Instead, he rounds one last corner, making sure that he's followed. He moves quickly at that, grabbing the small shoulders of person following closely behind him and slamming none other than Freddie Lounds up against the brick wall of a building.
"What are you doing here?" Will hisses through gritted teeth, using maybe too much pressure to pin her between him and the wall. He's dropped Nomad's leash, but that doesn't stop the dog from standing obediently at his side.
"Following a story," Freddie says, tone light despite the pain she's obviously in as she attempts to shift out of Will's grasp to no avail. She manages a sly smirk, even as she winces slightly in pain, "Though it seems I've found a better one. Will Graham, still alive and kicking. They’ll love to hear about this back home-"
Nomad growls at his side, feeding off of Will's adrenaline and fear, and Freddie simply grins in return.
"You look good, Will. Almost didn't recognize you," She hisses, looking him up and down. Will presses harder into her shoulders. "Where's your partner?"
And at that, Will acts on instinct. Maybe it's months of living with Hannibal and being completely immersed in his life, or maybe it's his survival instinct kicking in - or possibly the fact that he's imagined doing it befre - but instead of answering, he grips Freddie's hair tight, and without hesitation, slams her head into the wall, knocking her unconscious in one blow. She slumps forward, body limp, and Will catches her at her armpits, pulling her forward into a back doorway, out of sight. He lets her fall to the ground at that, and immediately reaches for the phone in his pocket, hands shaking.
As he dials Hannibal's number, the reality of the situation seems to hit him, because soon his entire body is trembling. Nomad even whines at his side, laying down by his feet. The phone rings once, twice, three times, and Will is almost on the verge of a panic attack by the time Hannibal picks up.
"I need you," He wheezes into the phone, unsure of what Hannibal even said as a greeting because of the ringing in his ears, "I need you here now."
"Will? What's going on?" Hannibal asks in return, voice concerned.
"I - I -" He stammers, eyes wide as they stare down at Freddie's limp body, "I can't - I fucked up. I shouldn't have come out here, I-"
"Will," Hannibal interrupts, voice calm compared to his stuttering one, "I need you to take a deep breath. You're going to have an episode."
Will does as instructed, and though it feels like eternity by the time he feels a little calmer, it's really only a few seconds. His hands still shake and his heart still pounds, but he can think clearer. He can’t even remember the last time he had a panic attack, and he’s definitely not ready to have one now. Not here. Not like this. "Okay," He manages to breathe out after a few moments.
"What happened?" Hannibal asks, "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, I-" Will hiccups, struggling to take another deep breath, "I need you to come here, now."
"Alright," Hannibal replies without hesitation, voice still calm and cool, "Where are you?"
"Down the street from that shop you like," Will replies as calmly as he can, "In the alley-"
"Will," Hannibal presses again, "What's going on?"
"Freddie," Will breaths at last, "Freddie Lounds. She's here."
It's silent for a long moment on the other end of the phone and for a second, Will thinks that Hannibal has hung up, abandoning him and leaving him to fend for himself. His heartbeat speeds up again, body shaking, mind racing. Would he really do that? Would Hannibal just leave him at the first sign of trouble? He’s never thought about it before, but now it’s all that he can think about, and he’s certain that he’s going to have a panic attack now and-
And then Hannibal speaks.
"Did she see you?"
"Yes," Will wheezes. He manages to let out a deep breath, one he hadn’t realized he had been holding.
"I knocked her out," Will breaths before Hannibal can ask any more questions, "In the alley. Nobody saw. She's unconscious now, but-"
"Stay there," Hannibal instructs, voice stern, "I'll be there shortly."
"Okay," Will replies, mind on overdrive, "Okay. Thank you."
And at that, the line goes dead, and Will can't help himself as he slumps to the ground against the wall. He lets his phone fall to the ground between his legs and reaches up, rubbing his hands over his face and through his hair. Freddie still lays unconscious on at his side and he glances nervously at her form with wide eyes, willing Hannibal to hurry, because he honestly doesn't want to think about what he'd do if she woke up before he arrived.
It’s times like this that make Will realize the severity of his actions.
The drive usually only takes about ten minutes from the house, but time ticks by slowly, and ten minutes quickly turn into a lifetime. Will stays on the ground, knees curled up against his chest, hands nervously running though his hair, down his legs and back up. He's trembling all over, despite the fact that he's wearing a long sleeved shirt and it's not quite cold out yet, and no matter how hard he tries, he can't stop it. Every time he looks down at Freddie, he sees Alana's form in her place - what would he have done if it had been her? - and has to shake the image from his head.
Nomad noses softly at his arm and Will places a shaking hand on his back, but it doesn't make him feel any better.
Eventually, he sees a pair of headlights turn into the alley way. By then, it's almost completely dark out - the sun seems to fall quickly while he waits - and Will holds his breath, hoping and praying that it's Hannibal, come to rescue him instead of an innocent passer-by. Thankfully, he recognizes the car as it pulls to a halt in front of him, and when the driver steps out, it's none other than Hannibal, always calm and collected despite whatever situation he may be in. He makes his way over to Will, holding out a hand to help him up from the ground, which he graciously takes. And even with just that little contact, it helps still the trembling.
"You're alright," Hannibal assures, pulling him in close in an embrace for a moment, "You did the right thing."
"I-" Will starts to say when they pull apart, voice small, but Hannibal silences him with a soft hand on his cheek.
"I need you to get the rope from the back seat," He instructs, eyes darting over Will’s face, as if he’s trying to determine if he’s going to have a panic attack or not, "Can you do that for me?"
And despite the aching fear in Will's stomach - what if someone sees? - he obeys, nodding and making his way numbly to the car. It's not that he hasn't partaken in questionable activities with Hannibal since the blonde girl on the kitchen floor, but this is Freddie. She's someone they know. Someone who could easily be traced back to them - back to Baltimore. She’s a connection to their old life, and frankly, that terrifies him.
Will shakes the thought from his head, opening the back door of the car and grabbing the rope as Hannibal had instructed, allowing Nomad to jump into the back seat as he does so.
Hannibal works quickly after Will hands it over, binding Freddie's wrists and legs with such precision and skill that would have scared Will months ago. Instead, he just watches, mesmerized as Hannibal works quickly, making sure the knots are secure before lifting her up slightly, examining the small wound on the side of her head. There's a little blood trickling out, but not much, and he makes sure that there aren't any marks left behind in the alley before he's lifting her up off the ground and carrying her over to where Will stands with the car door open and waiting.
The drive home isn't tense, but it is silent, and Will fidgets nervously in his seat. He wants to ask Hannibal what they're going to do with her, but doesn't say anything for fear of the answer. He knows that if they allow her to live, they'll practically be handing themselves in. But at the same time, he's not certain that he could just simply end her life. Sure, he doesn't care for Freddie, but she's someone he knows, not some random rude person off the street. It's different.
Hannibal seems to sense his nerves as they near the house and reaches over the center console of the car to grab Will's hand, squeezing it softly, reassuringly. He doesn't say anything, but Will knows that it's his way of saying that it's going to be okay. And though it doesn't feel like it, he tries to believe him.
By the time they reach the house, Will's heart is pounding. Freddie stirs a couple of times from the back seat, but never wakes up fully, thankfully. Regardless, it doesn't help Will feel any less nervous as he holds the back door of the car open again while Hannibal picks her up, carrying her toward the house.
"Where are we taking her?" Will asks quietly, trying to hide the way his voice trembles.
"Kitchen," Hannibal mutters in return, "I need you to get one of the chairs from the dining room and help me secure her to it."
Will's step falters at that and he freezes for a moment, arm outstretched to open the back door of the house. Hannibal eyes him carefully, waiting for a response, but when it doesn't come - and Will doesn't move - he speaks again. "Will," His voice is strained, and maybe a little frustrated, but never angry, "Can you do that for me?"
And it's as if it hits a switch. Will shakes himself out of it and nods shakily. "Yeah," He mutters, opening the door and stepping to the side to let Hannibal in before himself, "Yeah, okay."
Once they're in the house, Will makes sure to set Freddie's things - her purse, phone and clipboard that Hannibal had gathered from the ground in the alley - on the counter before quickly bringing a chair in from the dining room for Hannibal to set her in.
"There's more rope, in the top right drawer," Hannibal instructs, and Will rushes to retrieve it. Within seconds, he's kneeling by the side of the chair, staring at Hannibal with wide eyes, waiting for instruction. And Hannibal, sensing his nerves, takes a moment to reach forward and brush his fingers softly against Will's cheek.
"I need you to help me tie her up," Hannibal says, voice soft and low. His hand drops down, lingering on Will's shoulder, "Just as I taught you. Do you remember?"
Will manages to nod shallowly, remembering all too well. It's not his first time helping Hannibal like this, but it sure as hell feels like it and thankfully, Hannibal senses it. He's gentle and doesn't press Will too hard with his requests, but at the same time he knows the other man can do this. He's done it before...
Will reaches for the rope with shaky hands, but Hannibal beats him to it, stopping him before he can grab it. One hand comes to rest over Will's own, stilling the tremors. "Deep breaths," Hannibal says softly, even offering a reassuring smile to Will, "You've done this before." His words echo the ones floating aroud in Will's head.
And a small part at the back of Will's mind - a part that he's grown accustomed to ignoring now - wants to scream "That's the problem!" but it goes unheard. Instead, Will nods, letting out a deep breath, and reaches for the rope again, this time with a steadier hand.
While Will secures Freddie, Hannibal stands, crossing the room to grab two pairs of gloves out of another drawer and a knife off of the counter. And Will does exactly as he's asked, making sure that the binds on Freddie's legs and arms are tight enough. She won't be going anywhere.
And, as if on cue, she stirs awake, eyes blinking open slowly.
Will freezes, hands stilling on her legs, and Hannibal even stops on the other end of the kitchen, watching and waiting.
"Will?" Her voice is quiet, raspy and scared when she finally wakes up, and that's new, coming from her. "What-" She struggles against the bindings for a moment, but huffs out a breath when she realizes that she's not going anywhere.
When she finally looks up, her eyes come to rest on Will, and for a split second, all he can see is Alana Bloom. He's not sure why - maybe it's because he feels like his past is finally catching up with him, maybe it's because he feels guilty - but either way, he can't help the way that he scurries backward, actually falling onto the kitchen floor, eyes wide. He shakes his head back and forth, trying to get rid of the image.
Finally, Hannibal moves, crossing the room and leaning down to check the ropes securing Freddie's wrists, standing just barely out of her view. "Hello Miss Lounds," He says, voice calm and collected - the exact opposite of what Will feels right now - "Shame we had to meet again this way."
"Doctor Lecter," She grits out in response, voice full of venom. Will registers somewhere that she probably shouldn't talk to him like that if she wants to live any longer than he's already allowing, but he can't voice it. Not from where he sits, frozen in place a few feet away from her.
Apparently done with pleasantries, Hannibal glances toward Will at that, motioning for him to come forward. "Will."
And even though it's only one word, Will knows what's being asked of him. He sees the knife in Hannibal's hand and he knows that if the other man had planned on killing her himself, she would have been bleeding out on the floor before she even had a chance to speak. No, Will knows that Hannibal wants him to be the one to do it - to kill this one last part of his old life - and for some reason, that absolutely terrifies him.
"No," He mutters, shaking his head back and forth numbly, "No, I can't."
Hannibal sighs at that, patting Freddie on the shoulder before taking a few steps forward. Once he's in front of Will, he crouches down until they're eye level. He holds the knife out, but again, Will shakes his head, refusing to take it. "I can't do this," He mutters, shaking his head again, "This is bad. What - what if they track her back to us? She has a cell phone, what if they track it, what if-"
"Will," Hannibal coos, reaching out with his free hand to touch his arm again, just softly. He hands Will a pair of gloves which he takes, but doesn't put on. His hands are trembling again. "It's alright. I promise."
"I will dispose of her phone," Hannibal assures, speaking as if Freddie isn't right in front of them, listening with wide, terrified eyes as Hannibal convinces Will to kill her, already planning on disposing of her things. “I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”
Will lets out a shaky breath, still not completely sold. He shakes his head again. "Can't we just let her go?" He asks quietly, though he knows it's a stupid question. Of course they can't.
"You know we can't do that," Hannibal replies softly, just confirming his thoughts. His thumb runs softly over Will’s wrist, and all he wants to do is lean into the comforting touch.
"But-" Will starts, attempting to argue more, but Hannibal cuts him off.
"You've dreamt of killing her before, have you not?" He asks, and Will can't help but notice the way that Freddie tenses at those words. Still, he nods. "Why resist those urges now, when she's laid out in front of you, Will?"
"I don't like this..." Will breaths in return. And he doesn't. It's not the killing that he doesn't mind. It's how close Freddie had gotten. What if it had been any other day? What if it had been the two of them out in broad daylight, with nowhere to go, no dark alleyway to lure her into? Even worse, was she alone? Had she brought an assistant with her? Would someone be looking for her? If she could get that close, who's to say that Jack couldn't? Who's to say that he's not in Florence, too?
"Will," Hannibal presses, squeezing his arm softly, "How many times have you killed now?"
Will shakes his head again. He hadn't expected that question, and it's the last thing he wants to think about - let alone answer - right now. Not with all of his other fears and thoughts swarming around in his head. Not in front of Freddie. "I don't know," He murmurs, avoiding eye contact.
"Yes you do."
Will sighs, closing his eyes. "A dozen," He mutters, "I don't know."
"Thirteen," He answers at last. It's not that he doesn't remember. No, it's completely the opposite. In the past few months, living with Hannibal, he remembers every last kill. Down to every little detail.
Hannibal had made him pick out his first kill after the blonde girl, and it had been a man, drunk outside of some bar, calling out to girls on the street, scaring them and making them uncomfortable. He had shaky hands that night, nervous as he subdued the man in the darkness, pulling him into the car. It lacked the finesse that Hannibal had, after years of experience, and it lacked the artistry of Will's first kill on the kitchen floor.
The next kill had been a young single father. They'd seen him hit his daughter, when he thought nobody was looking. Will had more passion behind that kill. The third had been a rude, racist woman who had been on their train when they had vacationed to France for a weekend.
Will remembers each one crystal clear - when he closes his eyes, he can still see them, laid out in front of him - but he doesn't want to think about that right now. No, not with Freddie, staring at him with wide, terrified eyes. Not with all of the thoughts and fears clouding his mind already.
"And your mind?" Hannibal asks, cutting Will's thoughts short, "How many times have you killed in your mind?"
Will sucks in a harsh breath at the thought. "Countless."
He doesn't even realize that his eyes are still closed until he feels Hannibal press the handle of the blade into his palm. "This time is no different than the others," He assures voice low and intimate. Part of Will wonders if Freddie can even hear it, and part of him hopes not. This is their moment, not hers to share.
"Hannibal," Will murmurs out, unsure of what he's asking. As always, though, Hannibal seems to know.
"I'll be right here," He says, "If you need me."
And, as if that means everything in the world - because to be fair, it probably does - Will tightens his grip on the knife, nodding. He opens his eyes.
Hannibal helps him to his feet, and that's when Freddie finally starts panicking. "Will," She rasps, eyes wide as she watches him stalk slowly and confidently toward her, pulling the gloves on, "You don't have to do this."
When he looks at her now, he doesn't see Alana's face. He doesn't feel guilty or scared, not with Hannibal by his side. No, when he looks at her now, all he sees is red. Deep, dark red. "Yes," He murmurs, fingers grazing the wooden arm of the chair as he reaches her, "I do."
"Please," She mutters, tears falling from her eyes now. And now, she looks no different than any of the other people that Will has killed, terrified and begging for their life, even when they don't deserve one. "I won't tell anyone, I-"
"We both know that's a lie," Will breaths, leaning down close to her, their faces mere inches apart. And then, without warning, he's pressing the knife up against her throat and slicing, deep and quick and efficient before she can say anything else. Blood spatters out across the floor and his hands and face and Hannibal, then spills quickly down her neck and chest pooling around the legs of the chair while Freddie's body twitches and lurches until it stills at last. And just like that, it's over.
Will breaths a deep sigh, letting the knife clatter to the ground, and within seconds, Hannibal is at his side, wrapping his arms around him and pressing a kiss to his hair. His eyes fall closed at that, and he relaxes into the touch, allowing Hannibal to cradle and comfort him, fingers rubbing soothing patterns into his back.
"Beautiful," Hannibal murmurs softly into his hair, "You've done so well..." They're words of encouragement, of endearment. And though Will worries - they need to dispose of her body and get rid of her things, even the idea of eating her makes him want to be sick - he allows Hannibal's words to consume and comfort him.
He leans against Hannibal's chest, fingers gripping onto the fabric of his shirt, staining yet another one with blood. If he remembers correctly, it's the fifth shirt of Hannibal's that he's ruined, but the other man never seems to mind. No, instead, Hannibal just smiles to himself, pressing another kiss onto his head.
Freddie Lounds will mark Will’s fourteenth kill since he let go, allowing Hannibal to take the reins, to shape him into what he’s become. When he thinks about it, it is a little poetic, killing the one person who had seen it coming all along. And maybe that’s why Will can’t help but smile to himself slightly, eyes shut tight as he holds onto Hannibal in the dimly lit kitchen, blood pooling at their feet.
Chapter 15: We Must Be Killers
First of all, thank you guys for being so patient with me! I've been working a lot more than I usually do these past couple of months and I've barely gotten the chance to sit down and write anything, let alone get it proofread and posted. (Also, I dread writing endings because I hate for this to be over haha)
But FINALLY, here's the final chapter. It's mostly just an epilogue.
Secondly, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read, commented, left kudos, ect... on this story. It's been hands down one of my favorites to write, and I'm glad that you guys all enjoyed it as much as I did. I love you all!
Thanks again, hope you guys enjoy the last chapter :]
Hannibal and Will move to France shortly after the incident with Freddie Lounds. It's not that the kill is sloppy or that they're scared that they'll be caught by any means. No, Hannibal does a damn good job at destroying any form of evidence. It's not that. It's just... after that night, the house feels haunted, stained with the memory of home. Of Baltimore. Of Jack and the FBI and their old lives.
The house feels haunted to both Will and Hannibal after Freddie, so it's a month later that they decide to pack up - dog and all - and move to France. And while Will knows that they'll both miss Italy, it's a good change. A needed change.
A fresh start.
In France, Will is a new person. His mind is clear, at ease. He can't remember the last time he awoke from a nightmare - even when he does, Hannibal is there like always - and he rarely finds himself thinking about his old life, back in the States. And even when he does, it’s not with guilt and longing anymore. While he misses his cozy home in Wolf Trap and his dogs and Alana and even the team from time to time, he reminds himself that this is what’s best for him.
He needed to let go. He needed Hannibal. And while he hadn't known that then, he does now.
France doesn't hold any bad memories for Will. It doesn't remind him of his first few rough months in Europe with Hannibal. When he closes his eyes, breathing in the morning air in their shared bedroom, he doesn’t have any memories of those first few awful nights in the hotel in Florence. There is no fear. No late night panic-attacks. The only thing that Will finds in France is peace. That, and the love of his companion.
They don't say it, but they don't have to. One look says it all. Whether it's a small smile from Hannibal over coffee one morning, the intense, passionate gaze that Will gives him over a pool of blood a few days later, or the way that he holds him in bed after sex that night after their kill. They love one another, even if it's not in the conventional sense of the word, and it doesn't need saying.
Hannibal and Will make a home for themselves in France. Within two months of finding a place, they’re completely settled in. Hannibal even finds a job working as a psychiatrist not far from their home, and while Will doesn’t work - Hannibal insists that he shouldn’t, that he’s worked too hard for one lifetime already - he keeps himself busy with Nomad, among other things. And within a year of moving to France, Will finally feels at home.
They have friends, too. It takes a little while and a few months of Hannibal taking Will to the opera for that to set in, but eventually, it does. And surprisingly, Will is more than okay with it, because they have friends in France. It’s something that solidifies their home there, something that makes it more permanent. Even though they had lived in Italy for the better part of a year, they never really made friends there. Acquaintances, sure, but not people that they felt comfortable accepting an invitation to dinner from.
And sure, they have to be careful. They’re more than careful. Their friends, no matter how close, will never learn their real names, but that’s okay. It doesn’t bother Will as much as he thought it would, and maybe that’s because it’s something that he and Hannibal share that nobody else does. It’s part of their life that nobody gets to see.
They’re more careful about killing in France as well, but it doesn’t mean they don’t do it. Will partially attributes that to the fact that they’re not as far out in the countryside as they had been in Italy, but it also has to do with the fact that their home in France is a more permanent one.
Still, it doesn’t mean that fire and passion isn’t still there.
“When do we need to leave?” Will calls out one evening from the bathroom, pulling on a gray shirt and buttoning it up. Hannibal stands somewhere on the other side of the wall, getting ready as well, more than likely choosing a perfect tie to go with Will’s outfit, as he always does.
“Adrienne set a reservation for six-thirty,” Hannibal replies, “So within the next thirty minutes.”
Will nods in response, but doesn’t say anything. Instead, he leans in as he finishes buttoning his shirt, studying and running a hand through his still-wet hair in the mirror. It’s shorter now, less shaggy and much more tamed than it had been back when they had been living in Italy. It had been another one of the changes that Will had adopted almost a year ago, now.
He leans forward slightly against the counter, rubbing a hand over the stubble on his face, silently wondering if he has the time to shave before they leave or not. And it’s while he’s squinting, studying himself in the mirror, that’s when Hannibal steps into the bathroom.
“Leave it,” He says softly, and Will glances up at his reflection behind him, smiling slightly.
“Yeah?” He asks, eyes raking up and down as much as Hannibal he can make out without turning around. He’s wearing one of his nicer suits tonight. It’s a navy, checkered, double-breasted number, and it’s one of Will’s favorites, so he can’t help but stare. He has to admit, in the past year, he’s really grown fond of the way that Hannibal dresses. And the way that Hannibal dresses him.
And as if on cue, Hannibal steps forward, draping both a slim, burgundy tie and a thicker black one over his shoulders, studying him in the mirror as he speaks. “Yes,” He insists, glancing up and down Will before deciding on the burgundy one and setting the black tie down.
Will takes the cue, lifting his head up so Hannibal can drape the tie around his neck, gently tying and tightening it until it’s snug. His fingers linger on his neck and when Will catches his gaze in the mirror, his breathing hitches slightly. Suddenly, he feels all too tight in the dress shirt and tie, but he doesn’t dare move. Instead, he just holds the gaze.
Hannibal eventually moves, reaching to Will’s side to grab his suit jacket. And when Will holds his arms out, Hannibal slips that on him as well, hands traveling across his chest to button it, then down to smooth the fabric out. His fingers trail down Will’s shoulders and arms, stopping when they reach his hands. Wordlessly, He takes Will’s right hand, turning it over to press a finger just gently into the puckered skin of the scar the runs the length of his palm. It’s a gesture Will is used to by now - one of affection - and he can’t help the way he leans into the touch, eyes glancing up to meet Hannibal’s in the mirror again.
“If you keep looking at me like that, we may never make it to dinner,” Will murmurs, shooting Hannibal’s reflection a sly smile.
The corners of Hannibal’s mouth curl up into a small smirk in response. “Patience, dear Will. We’ll be back home in no time.”
Will finally turns at that, pushing away from the bathroom counter so his body leans up against Hannibal’s. “That a promise?”
“It is,” Hannibal replies softly. His hand comes up at that, cupping Will’s face, before he leans down and places a kiss on his lips.
They have friends in France. Friends that Will doesn’t feel awkward or out of place holding a conversation with anymore. Their friends, among other things, help Will feel at home there. And as they sit in one of his favorite restaurants with their friends that night, he can’t help but smile, completely content with his life there.
He has Hannibal, Nomad, a beautiful home and a handful of friends. It’s something he didn’t know he wanted - or needed - years ago, but he wouldn’t change it now.
“We were thinking next Friday, for the play, if the two of you would be interested,” Adrienne says from across the table, glancing at her husband, Victor, before lifting her glass of wine to her lips to take a sip.
Hannibal glances at Will before responding, “We’ll have to check our schedule, but I’m positive that Alex and I would love to accompany you.”
Still, after a year, Will can’t help the slight thrill of excitement when Hannibal uses his fake name. It’s a secret that only the two of them know, much like many other things in their lives.
He reaches under the table to grasp Hannibal’s hand and leans in to whisper something in his ear, but his words are suddenly cut short before he even has a chance to say anything.
A few tables behind them, there’s a clatter of dishes falling to the floor and shattering, followed by the sound of a chair scraping on wood floor and-
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” A woman screeches, immediately earning the attention of the entire restaurant. Will grips Hannibal’s hand under the table, tensing before glancing over his shoulder to look at her.
She’s a tall, slender woman, probably in her late thirties, with straight, jet black hair. And she’s standing, towering over a server in her high heels, reprimanding him like a child.
“I apologize-” He begins to say, but she immediately cuts him off.
“This is a two-thousand dollar dress,” She hisses, but loud enough for Will to hear from their seat, a few tables away, “And you’ve completely ruined it-”
Which isn’t necessarily true. From where Will sits, he can’t see any visible signs of a spot or spill on her dress, but-
“I demand to speak to your manager,” She says, loud enough for everyone to hear, before almost physically shoving him back in the direction in which he came.
The restaurant is silent for a few seconds after the waiter leaves and the angry woman returns to her seat, but once normal conversation finally continues – Adrienne is saying something along the lines of “can you believe that woman?” – Will leans in, still gripping Hannibal’s hand under the table.
“Her,” He murmurs, just barely loud enough for Hannibal to hear, “I want her.”
The corners of Hannibal’s mouth twist up into a small smile at his side and he squeezes his hand slightly in response before offering him a small nod.
And though it’s a relatively normal night, out at dinner with their friends, Will can’t help the way that his heart thrums in his chest for the rest of dinner. He can’t help the way his fingers drum anxiously on the table while they wait for their food. Hannibal knows it and he knows it.
It’s been over a month since their last prospective kill, and he can’t help the way his body buzzes with anticipation.
And later that night, as Will crouches over her lifeless body, knife glinting with blood in the dim kitchen light, he can’t help the way he smiles, looking up at Hannibal through hungry eyes.