They'd almost finished at Hannibal's office. The bodies had been taken away, the evidence collected, and now the clean-up team were at work. The office was a mess.
"If nothing else, we know Hannibal can hold his own in a fight," said Will.
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Good to know, I'm sure."
“So are we going to follow up on Franklin?”
Jack sighed. “That is an excellent question. I have no idea, but the whole thing's wrong. I don't like it.”
“It could just be some sort of music-lover's murder spree.” Will felt a little giddy, and he wasn't sure why. He glanced over at Hannibal, who was still sitting at his desk. His hair was sticking out at the side and he was listing to the left, as if he wanted to pass out right there.
Jack gave him a long look. It was more than fifty percent scowl. “You need to go home.”
“I'm not tired.” It was true. Ever since he'd walked into Tobias Budge's shop his blood had been thrumming. Partly from terror, admittedly. The yellowed keys of the harpsichord over in the corner grinned at him like teeth.
“Go home, Will. There's no point doing anything else tonight. See you tomorrow.”
“Okay.” He watched Jack go, then made his way over to Hannibal.
“They're nearly done here.”
“That's good.” Hannibal looked up at him. There was a dark pink bloodstain on his chin, which he was rubbing at with a handkerchief..
“Hey.” Will sat on the edge of Hannibal's desk. On the jotter was a drawing. It was of a woman stooping, her hair flowing down like water. One corner of it was torn; it must've happened in the fight. He smoothed it down with one finger. “You okay?”
“As well as can be expected.”
Will took another look. Hannibal looked grey around the edges. His leg wound had been stitched by the medics, and presumably they'd given him painkillers. Maybe even a sedative, for the shock.
"Do you need me to drive you home?” Will asked.
Hannibal shook his head. “It's kind, but no. I'm fine. I'll get a taxi.”
Will nodded. “Can I rephrase that? Would you like me to drive you home?”
Hannibal's laugh was soft, and he hung his head as if caught out. “Yes, Will.” He glanced up at Will's face. “Very much.”
Will sat a moment digesting that. He'd like it very much because it was Will? Or because he was being driven home? How happy would Will be if it was the first scenario? Warmth flushed his face. Warmth in his stomach and limbs, and a lightness in his mind. He shuffled his feet and found his gaze dragging to Hannibal's upper lip, and the soft curve of it. “Good,” he said, because it covered everything.
He waited while the team left, and while Hannibal gathered together his coat and briefcase. While he waited he toured the walls, inspecting the art. He stopped in front of a dark and looming seascape, a small boat darkened by the shadow of storm clouds. He didn't hear Hannibal come up behind him until he spoke.
“It's lovely, isn't it? I always wonder who is on the boat and what will become of them.”
Will looked back over his shoulder. “Do you want me to start psycho-analysing you now or later?”
“I would prefer never.”
Will watched him as he locked up. He held onto the railings as he descended the steps to where his car was parked, and he limped as he walked over.
Hannibal's house was out in the north, in the quiet suburbs where large houses sat in wide neat gardens. Will pulled in and turned off the engine. Hannibal dozed against the window, his chin on his chest. There were lines of strain under his eyes and around his mouth. There was blood on his shirt, and a long tear in his pants. Skin was visible, a slice of thigh decorated with several butterfly stitches.
“We're here,” Will said, softly.
Hannibal opened his eyes, then looked over at Will with a startled glance. “Forgive me, Will, I didn't mean to sleep.”
“That's okay. You've got to be exhausted.”
“More than a little.”
“You should take a few days off. Look, ah. I know… " He curled his fingers tightly around the steering wheel. Garrett Jacob Hobbs lurked behind his eyes.. "I know how it feels to have killed someone.”
Next to him, Hannibal sighed. “Yes, and so do I.”
“I'm sorry. It's not what you want to talk about right now. But you should, at some point.”
“No. I... Perhaps not now. But I will take your advice.” Hannibal turned to him. “Will, would you like to come in for something to eat?”
“I should let you get some rest.”
“I'm not so very tired. I would like to thank you for your help. Besides, it's only leftovers.”
And maybe you don't want to be alone right now, Will thought. He could understand that, but he didn't want to think about his own motives. He caught Hannibal's small smile, and returned it.
“Are you trying to tell me you own a microwave?”
“God forbid. Please come in.”
Hannibal came back to life a little when he got into his kitchen and began to bustle with his tupperware containers and his oven. Will was quite happy to just watch until he handed Will a bottle and a corkscrew.
“The glasses are in the dining room cabinet. Thank you.”
“Are you sure you should be drinking?”
Will went in search of them. He liked Hannibal's house, but the dining room bothered him. Everything was polished and precise. The dark walls felt enclosing, a stage to enact endless high class meals.
A strange room for someone like Hannibal to have, a man so subdued that Will had never heard him raise his voice, either in anger or laughter. A man with literally no hair out of place, at least not in public and not willingly. Calm and studied, cold and precise but with a highly developed sense of the theatrical. His mind groped for an answer to the riddle.
“Will?” Hannibal's voice startled him. He stood at the door, one hand on the door jamb. He'd tied on a long white apron, and his hair was falling in his eyes. “Did you find them?”
“Oh, yeah. Here.” Will swallowed, his mouth going dry.
He didn't move when Will reached the door. Will put the glasses down with fumbling hands on the sideboard and turned back to Hannibal, who was watching him with eyes that were soft and dark.
“Will, what are you doing?”
“Tell me if this is crazy,” Will said, and he moved into Hannibal's personal space. Then he laid a hand carefully along Hannibal's jaw and kissed him.
His mouth was soft and warm, and Will felt the soft shocked exhale of his breath. For a moment, Hannibal did not move at all, but then he lifted a hand and slid it onto his shoulder, and parted his lips against Will's. There was the barest hint of wet as their mouths slid together. Hannibal pushed him gently back.
“Will,” he said. “This is not a good idea.”
“Right.” Will let out a shaky breath, tried to smile. “Why not?”
“Pick a reason,” Hannibal said, but his fingers had pushed into the hair at the nape of Will's neck. He licked his lips. “You are yearning for stability. You said as much very recently, concerning your relationship with Alana. It can't be found from this.”
“How do you know?”
Hannibal was very still. “How do you see me, Will?”
“How about... I see you as a vast mysterious ocean?”
“Then you have no idea what's underneath the surface.”
“I have some idea.”
“Do you?” Hannibal sounded merely curious.
Will dared to look right into Hannibal's eyes. He was watching Will steadily, and it was impossible to read him. Will's heart began to pound; there was perhaps half a foot of space between them and whatever he said about caution, Hannibal was giving off heat.
“I'd just like to add that I'm still not your patient, Dr Lecter.”
“No, you are not. Not precisely. But I hope you are my friend.”
Will stroked a thumb over the curve of his cheekbone. “You have to ask?”
“No.” Hannibal swayed closer to Will, and he closed his eyes for a moment like a man caught on a knife edge.
He tightened his hand on Will's shoulder, sliding it up to cup his neck. The minute brush of his thumb against his jaw sent shivers along Will's arms. Will watched him inhale and bite his lower lip, his nostrils flaring.
“Would you like to stay the night?” Hannibal said, finally, into the warm space between their mouths.
“Yes. God, yes.”
Hannibal's hands were firm on Will's shoulders as he manoeuvred him backwards and pushed him up against the dining room wall. Will put his hands on Hannibal's waist – he was hot even through the fine cotton of his shirt, and Will felt muscle shift under his hands as Hannibal pressed close.
Will leaned in and kissed him again, harder than before. Hannibal tightened his hands on Will's shoulders, holding him steady, and he slid his tongue into Will's mouth. The touch of it was gentle against Will's, until Hannibal cupped his jaw and angled his mouth and thrust in deeper. Will dug his hands into Hannibal's hair, almost driven to bite at Hannibal's mouth in sheer shivering lust. It twisted low and heated inside him as Hannibal crushed him against the wall. He could feel the fast rise and fall of Hannibal's chest, and a hard length of heat against his hip.
Hannibal pulled back. His breath shuddered over Will's mouth. “We should eat,” he said, in a voice lower and rougher than Will had ever heard it.
“You're serious?” Will said.
Hannibal straightened up and let him go. He cleared his throat, and smoothed a hand over his hair. There was nothing he could do about the pinkness of his mouth or the two flags of red on his cheeks. “I'm always very serious about food.” He smiled at Will, a minimal lift of the left corner of his mouth. “And I'm hungry.”
Will slumped against the wall, his knees watery and his hands shaking. He didn't want to stop. If he stopped he might begin to think, and he didn't want to do that. He rubbed a hand over his mouth. “Fine. Fine. I can eat.”
Dinner was slices of prosciutto served with a rough hunk of walnut bread, warm from the oven, its crust dark and bitter. Hannibal didn't make them sit in the dining room. He guided Will to two stools at the kitchen counter and they ate there, each with a glass of wine. The acrid darkness of it cut perfectly through the rich fat of the meat.
Hannibal watched him eat, his gaze cool and dark. He'd taken his tie off, and his shirt fell open at the collar, leaving his throat exposed. Will felt as though he'd entered some strange new world. Hannibal was the same, yet different, now that Will knew the taste of his mouth, the exact shape of his lips, the way his hands moved with small precise motions on his skin. The weight of them. That glint of his eye that spoke of an unquenched appetite. A rush of anticipation jolted into his stomach, and he almost gasped from it. He stared hard at the polished steel counter top.
“You know,” he said, “there's so much I don't know about you.”
“And? There's so much I don't know about you. Is it necessary to know more about me, or I you, right at this moment?”
“You mean, before we... ?”
“Before we have sex.”
“Ah, yes.” Will put his fork down, and it clattered horribly on the china. He shook his head and laughed, and made eye contact with his salad. “Wow. You're very forward, Dr Lecter. Who'd have thought.”
“Do you need to know more about me, Will?” He bit into a piece of bread and meat, and chewed slowly.
Will thought of the dining room, and the long black feathers in the table centre-piece. He closed his eyes. “Am I the single boat floating on your ocean?”
“Is that how you see yourself? A brave little tug?”
Will grimaced and laughed, and then he reached out and put his hand over Hannibal's. “Can we go upstairs?”
“Do you mean, before you change your mind?”
Hannibal looked at Will's hand, then looked at Will. He slid his forefinger along the edge of Will's palm. It was only a light touch, but Will shivered. Below his shirt cuff, Hannibal's wrist looked strong and lean. Will wondered what the rest of his body might look like.
“You must think me very unethical, Will.”
“You're not formally treating me.”
“Do you really think that argument holds any weight at this point?”
"Eccentric, not unethical." Please, Will thought. He closed his eyes and saw the ocean, dark grey and with currents churning. Don't say no. He'd be ashamed to say that out loud. He curled his fingers into Hannibal's, knotting them, then he stood up, and Hannibal let himself be tugged up and out into the hall. He gently untangled his fingers from Will's.
“After you,” Will said, and Hannibal nodded.
Will followed him up, watching the straight, unselfconscious line of his back, and the shallow dip at the base, and the slight curve of his ass. The uncomfortable limp and the tired slump of his shoulders.
The upper floor was like the lower – muted walls and polished dark wood. Art lurked in expensive looking frames on the landing, and there were five white painted doors. The floor was dark wood with a dark red runner that made their steps silent. The stairs turned right, going up to another floor.
Hannibal's room had tall windows and a large wooden bed. The linen was crisp and white. The room smelled faintly of his aftershave. Will wasn't interested in noticing more, because Hannibal was waiting by the bed, his hands down at his sides.
“You should play poker,” Will said, moving up to him and taking Hannibal's face in his hands. “I can't read you at all.”
“Does it bother you?” Hannibal's gaze was on his mouth.
“No.” He kissed him, feeling Hannibal's lips part under his willingly, and then the soft wet lick of his tongue. God, yes. He could read that part okay. Hannibal's hands slid around his waist, holding him tight, and the intent in that hard grip made him miss a breath.
Hannibal tugged his shirt out of his pants, and then began to unbutton it. He pushed it off Will's shoulders, still kissing him, his fingertips only skimming Will's shoulders as if he were wary of touching too much. The stroke and slide of his tongue in Will's mouth was achingly gentle, and Will felt himself start to shake. It felt like Hannibal knew him.
“You too,” he mumbled. He stroked up along Hannibal's arms, heat under his palms, as Hannibal worked at undoing his belt and unzipping him. He needed them both to be naked, equally. “Please.”
He slid his hands up along Hannibal's shoulders and plunged them into that too-neat hair. He pulled Hannibal to him and sucked at the tongue in his mouth, letting his teeth graze it, then letting them catch on Hannibal's lower lip, wary of the cut there. A faint metallic tang leaked across his tongue. He drank in the low groan that Hannibal made then, catching and storing it for later.
He guided Hannibal two steps backwards, and edged him back until he was sitting on bed. He shrugged out of the rest of his clothes while Hannibal slid out of his shirt, his gaze unfalteringly on Will. There was something wide eyed and vulnerable here, the same thing Will had seen in his office earlier.
“Will?” His voice was low.
“Just let me take care of you, okay?”
Did anyone ever say that to Hannibal? Will suspected they didn't from the way he raised his brows.
Naked, he slid off Hannibal's shoes and socks. His feet were well shaped, with neat nails. Pants next, sliding them down carefully over Hannibal's stitches. He ran his hand down over one strong slim calf. He pushed Hannibal back further and got one knee on the bed, then eased Hannibal's underwear down and off. Will slid his hand up over Hannibal's hip to his stomach, and leaned down and laid his mouth just below his navel. Warm skin, wiry hair, the scent and heat of Hannibal's cock, semi hard below him. He put his tongue out to taste skin.
“Will,” Hannibal said. He'd pushed his fingertips into Will's hair, just behind his ear, and they rested there, heated points of contact anchoring him in place.
Will closed his eyes and tried to calm his breathing down, because he felt he might actually pass out from the adrenaline twisting through his veins. He braced his other hand on the bed, next to Hannibal's ribs, and then ducked his head and let his lips slide over the head of Hannibal's cock, tasting clean bitter fluid there. It swelled under his mouth.
“You taste good,” Will gasped.
“Do I?” Hannibal murmured. He sounded pleased. He drew one knee up, giving Will more room: an invitation. Blood pulsed hotly behind Will's eyes. He bent his head and sucked Hannibal into his mouth, flattening his hand on Hannibal's inner thigh. He heard a soft hitch of breath, and saw the faint, hungry shift of Hannibal's hips, tilting up towards Will.
He became aware after a little while of Hannibal's hand tightening in his hair. Nowhere near enough to hurt, but enough to make Will drag his mouth away. He crawled up the bed, too aware that he was shaking. But that wasn't going to be anything new to Hannibal. They regarded each other. Will fought the urge to look away, but he didn't have to fight it very much.
“Are we going to keep this a secret, Will?” Hannibal moved his hand to cup Will's face. He touched the edge of his thumb to Will's mouth, so very gently.
“From Jack? Are you kidding me? Yes.” It felt wrong to invoke him here, in the cool sanctuary of Hannibal's room. He hung over Hannibal's mouth, then kissed him. “Do we have to tell anyone?” He laughed, aware that he sounded more demented than amused. “Are you good at keeping secrets?”
“No. And yes.” He laid his palm along the length of Will's cock. “It's my job to keep secrets.”
“I thought it was your job to keep me sane.”
“The two aren't mutually exclusive.” Hannibal moved his hand faster. “Nothing we do in this room will go any further. I promise you.”
“God. Can I please fuck you?”
Hannibal searched his eyes. "Yes," he said, as if Will hadn't even needed to ask.
He leaned over and retrieved a small bottle and a single flat silver condom packet from the drawer in his bedside table. He was very well prepared, Will thought, with a stab of inappropriate jealousy.
Will arranged Hannibal on his side, mindful of his thigh. Hannibal pillowed his head on his folded arm, and let out a half-swallowed moan when Will breached him with cool slick fingers. Will watched his closed eyes and the way his lips were damp, and how they parted as Will worked his fingers into his body more deeply. Finally, when he seemed ready, Will rolled on the condom. Hannibal's skin gleamed with a layer of sweat, and it was damp and hot under Will's hand. He stroked Hannibal's hip as he eased in.
Braced on his forearm, he looked down at their bodies. If he closed his eyes he could be dreaming. A twist of fear sprung loose in his stomach. Was he? Was this what he'd conjured in his dreams? He paused, eyes locked on Hannibal's face. It was the first time, he realised, that he'd ever had the opportunity to look at Hannibal without his cool assessing gaze staring back at him. Is this what he'd dream of? Hannibal stripped naked, literally and figuratively?
But no. He wasn't, not figuratively at least. Today, Will thought he had seen glimpses beneath the surface (been shown them), but had he? Next to him, Hannibal was still, his expression as unreadable as stone. The only clues that showed he was aroused were his elevated breathing and the thick red jut of his erection. To be fair, the latter was fairly conclusive. Will swallowed, engulfed by doubt. He was naked but he wasn't exposed. Who are you? Will thought.
Hannibal put his hand on Will's, where it lay on his hip.
“Will? Is something wrong?”
“Ah. I think too much. It's a problem. You might've noticed.” He pressed his forehead to the back of Hannibal's neck, letting the neat-cut hair tickle his nose. “Am I dreaming?”
“Is this something you'd dream of? I should be flattered.” He arched his back a little, pressing Will into him more deeply.
“Oh, fuck.” Will slid his hand to Hannibal's stomach, spreading his fingers and pressing him closer. “Can you do that again?” Hannibal didn't reply, but Will heard a breath of laughter. He sucked at Hannibal's neck, teeth digging into the hard lateral muscle. “I haven't done this for a long time. I'm always afraid I'll think the wrong thing.”
“Ah, I see,” Hannibal said, as Will began to rock into him. “You're scared that you'll begin to have inappropriate thoughts. That you will become tangled in them.”
“That you'll forget what you want. Perhaps forget who you are.”
Hannibal pressed his hand to Will's, then moved it so that he could curl Will's fingers around his cock. “That's not unusual,” he said, his voice roughening as Will began to stroke. “Let them come. Discard them. What do you want, Will?”
Will pressed even closer, his breath shaking. He brought his lips to Hannibal's ear. “I think about you. How well we work together. The things we've shared.”
“We've both killed,” Hannibal said. “Is that what you mean?”
Will shook his head. He didn't know. “Maybe.”
“What else do you think about?”
“I want this. To be this close to someone. I want to see you.”
A ragged breath. “Don't you already?”
“Not all of you.”
Hannibal leaned back against him, his hair a lank tumble across his eyes. He felt like stone under Will's hand, and he was leaking against Will's fingers. Will latched onto his throat, his heart thumping impossibly hard. He thrust into his body, his strokes quickening. Fire spread over his skin as Hannibal tensed in his arms, the elegant, strong lines of his body becoming taut. Will pushed in as deep as he could, his thrusts growing rough and unsteady.
“Fuck. God. I want to climb inside you,” Will said, his mouth hot and wet on Hannibal's neck. He drove in faster. “Please. Please.”
Hannibal came over his fingers, his head pushed back hard against Will's. He tensed as he came, tight and slick and hot around Will's cock, but it was the way that, after a few moments, the tension then flowed out of him like water out of a broken vase that pushed Will over the edge.
They lay together afterwards, until Hannibal shivered and drew away. He swung his legs off the bed and stood, somehow managing to look as formal as if he were still wearing a three piece suit. Except that his hair stuck out at one side. Will smiled up at him.
“We should sleep,” Hannibal said. “I'll fetch you some pajamas."
Will nodded. He got rid of the condom in the bathroom wastebasket. He padded back to find Hannibal in bed, and the pajamas waiting on the coverlet. He put them on, and got into bed, curling in close to Hannibal and his warmth. He slept and didn't dream.