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Desert Places

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The sunrise shone white, refracting off of the fallen snow in blinding rays. A small pack of dogs bounded through it, spraying ice all through the air and barking happily at it.

Will Graham stood on his porch, enjoying such a rare moment of peace. The chill of the air bit at his bare legs and arms, but the scalding coffee he cradled between his hands distracted from it. It was a beautiful morning, and even the last traces of the night’s terrors were washed from his mind in its glory.

He called his dogs back to him with a sharp whistle, chuckling as they covered themselves in snow in a race back to him. Winston already sat at his feet dutifully, peering up at him with sharp eyes. Will had loved many dogs, and many of them intelligent, but none were as perceptive as Winston.

“Good boy,” he whispered, and Winston’s tail wagged in response.

A faint ringing came from within his house. His phone. Will sighed. Mornings were the only part of his day he ever felt in control of, and lately even those had been taken from him.

“What is it?” Will answered his phone without even looking. Jack was the only person who had the audacity to call him before the sun had even finished rising.

“Good morning to you as well,” Hannibal’s voice greeted him warmly on the other end.

Will immediately flushed and covered his face with his free hand.

“Hannibal, God, I’m sorry,” Will groaned, “I thought you were Jack.”

Hannibal chuckled in response, “It is a bit early, I know.”

Will nodded his head in response even though Hannibal couldn’t see. He kept rubbing his face with his hand, trying to will away the gentle sleepiness he had allowed to linger. It made him… too soft, and he didn’t want to be vulnerable around Hannibal ever again.

“I just woke up myself,” Hannibal began. Unbidden, the image of Hannibal in his ridiculous matching pajamas and robe, sleep-soft hair falling across his face, flickered behind Will’s closed eyes. He sighed again. His mixed feelings about Hannibal were getting too muddled these days. It had started out as simple anger, betrayal, even hatred, and now…

“I thought I might save you from Jack today and take you for myself.” Hannibal continued. “If you are amenable.”

Will swallowed, wondering what Hannibal could be up to. Nothing good, he was certain of that. Everything Hannibal did was laced with ulterior motives, and most of those involved Will and death. No, nothing good.

That didn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy it though.

“What did you have in mind?”

___

A couple of hours later Will watched the Bentley crawl carefully up his snow covered drive from inside his house. Hannibal had suggested hiking. Hiking. Will wasn’t sure what to make of it. He had tried to think of any goal the other man could have besides murdering him in the middle of nowhere. But that wouldn’t be nearly dramatic enough for Hannibal, and it certainly wouldn’t be efficient if he wanted to eat Will – which he absolutely would, Will knew that for a fact.

So Will stood in his living room, dressed in fleece-lined cargo pants and old hiking boots, feeling ridiculous and more than a little curious. He had no fancy new hiking clothes prepared for this, so he hoped that he didn’t look too… well, soft, in his old clothes. He styled his hair under his knit hat though, making sure a few curls framed his face the way that made Hannibal look like he wanted to reach out and fix them.

That wasn’t so important to Jack’s game, but it satisfied something in the pit of Will that he tried not to acknowledge. He left his glasses off as well. Barriers would just slow the tension Will was carefully building between them.

Will had even left his phone on his nightstand. Jack wouldn’t be interrupting today.

Hannibal knocked politely once he had reached the door, and Will was blinded by the sun for a moment when he opened the door. His eyes adjusted to the figure in front of him and he almost groaned aloud.

“Hello, Will,” Hannibal said in that suspiciously warm tone.

He wore jeans – jeans, Dr. Hannibal Lecter was wearing jeans – dark, fitted ones. A thick maroon turtleneck framed the elegant curve of his neck, and his coat was a fitted, soft camel-colored leather. He even had hiking boots not unlike Will’s, just polished and free of scruffs.

And his goddamn hair was product free, falling about his dark eyes in that frustratingly soft way.

Will wasn’t the only one playing.

Their eyes met, and Will could have sworn to God Hannibal smirked.

Then Will had a great idea, an idea he wouldn’t have ever suggested if Hannibal hadn’t been so damn smug.

“I was wondering if we could bring Winston?” Will asked, and if he peered out from under his long lashes just a little suggestively that was surely unintentional. “He could use fresh air away from the house,” he continued when he saw Hannibal’s skeptical look.

“He’s a much more active dog than the rest,” Will was practically pleading now.

Pathetically, it worked.

“Alright,” Hannibal sighed, already heading toward the car in defeat.

Will grinned behind his back, called Winston out of the house, and they joined Hannibal in the car.

Winston, as obedient as ever, stretched out along Hannibal’s backseat. Will would have put a blanket or even his own coat down usually, but he had already started pushing Hannibal’s buttons for the day. Why stop now?

Hannibal paid Winston one glance in the rearview mirror, set his jaw firmly, and began to drive away without another word. Will considered that a battle won.

“I brought breakfast for you, in a dish under your seat. Coffee as well,” Hannibal gestured to the thermos in his cup holder.

Will fished under his seat and pulled out a ceramic bowl filled with-

“Protein scramble,” Hannibal told him with a rare grin. “A culinary journey back to our beginnings.”

Will raised an eyebrow at that, and then at the pieces of what he knew to be human organs sautéed up perfectly within the eggs and vegetables.

He could feel Hannibal’s gaze on him. They were ready to turn onto the road but he hadn’t pulled out of Will’s drive yet, and Will knew he wouldn’t until he ate.

Will speared a single piece of meat on the end of the fork Hannibal had provided and decided if Hannibal was going to stare he may as well get a show out of it.

Will’s eyes found his and he brought the bite to his mouth as slowly as he dared, watching Hannibal’s pupils dilate as his lips wrapped around the meat. He let his teeth scrape the metal audibly and only the slight tensing of the muscles in Hannibal’s neck revealed how affected he was.

He could have refused to eat. He could. But Jack would never have to know how thoroughly Will chewed, how he let the flavors ignite across his tongue and savored them, how the darkening of Hannibal’s eyes satisfied him more than the food itself.

These little moments were all Will’s.

“It’s delicious,” Will murmured, allowing his eyes to fall demurely back to his bowl.

He didn’t have to look to know Hannibal’s approving smile was there.

He fed some pieces to Winston to spite him.

___

As they drove through the mountains Will felt himself becoming drowsy, and he tried to fight it, but the combination of soft Tchaikovsky playing over the Bentley’s luxury speakers, the sparkle of ice covering the trees, and the food settling warm in his stomach had the advantage over him. And as loathe as he was to admit it, Hannibal’s solid presence at his side would always comfort him first and foremost.

Even after everything, it was as if he couldn’t train his body, his mind, his heart, to fear him. His initial response to Hannibal was always reach, reach out, grab tight and never let go.

Will crushed his hands between his thighs to stop them from doing something stupid, like reach across the console for the other man.

“You haven’t asked where I am taking you,” Hannibal observed.

Will shrugged. “It doesn’t matter, it wouldn’t change the fact that I am here with you.”

He didn’t mean for it to sound… romantic. But apparently Hannibal was flattered by his answer, because he gave that peculiar, pleased little smile that meant Will had surprised him.

“No matter anyway, we are nearly there.”

Hannibal turned the car carefully onto a level dirt road, and Will wondered if Hannibal brought any of his murder leftovers here. Maybe he was going to show Will a new insane tableau of bodies. A mountain of bodies, enough for them to hike to their summit. The thought made him laugh, but it came out a bit breathless, and Hannibal glanced at him curiously.

Suddenly the dirt road came to a rounded end, enough for Hannibal to park the car parallel to the tree line.

“Is there even a trail here?” Will gazed out at the dark evergreen trees skeptically.

“Don’t worry Will,” Hannibal began, getting out of the car and coming around to open Will’s door, “I won’t let you get lost,” he said with a sly smile.

Getting lost wouldn’t be half bad, Will mused as he got Winston out of the back and watched Hannibal grab something that looked suspiciously like a lunch box. He and Hannibal, exiled from the civilized world, living under the cloak of ever-present darkness under the trees.

A wet nose nuzzled his palm, as if reminding him he would be there too.

Will chuckled and scratched Winston’s head affectionately. “I would never leave you behind.”

Winston just peered up at him as if to say, you would do anything he asked you to.

Will sighed for what felt like the hundredth time that day.

There was a trail after all, as it turned out. It was a bit overgrown, obviously not very popular, and while Winston bounded ahead freely, Will walked side-by-side with Hannibal and the trail forced them close enough for their arms to brush.

Will eyed the leather strap slung over Hannibal’s shoulder, and the strange bag attached to it. “Is that lunch?”

 “Hungry again already?” Hannibal teased, and by God it was teasing, and Will felt his ears heat in spite of himself. He was grateful for the hat that covered them.

Why did Hannibal have to make everything sound so goddamn sultry? Usually it embarrassed him, especially when it was in front of Beverly or Alana, Jack, even his students giggled now when Hannibal showed up in his lecture hall. None of them were here now, though.

“Mm, rather ravenous, I’d say,” Will shot back, daring to press a little closer to the other man, brushing his fingers against Hannibal’s.

He felt Hannibal’s gaze, hot and searching, on his face.

Winston barked from wherever he was ahead of them. Hannibal smiled and brought a gentle hand to rest against Will’s lower back as he led them toward the sound.

“Sounds like Winston found the surprise before we did,” Hannibal chuckled, “Come, I think you will appreciate it.”

The warmth from his hand burned through all three layers of Will’s clothes and Hannibal’s own gloves, leaving a searing print against his naked skin.

It wasn’t a mountain of bodies.

It wasn’t bodies at all actually, but it surprised Will even more than that would have.

A small lake stretched out before them, surrounded by trees and flanked by impressive, snow covered mountains.

The lake was a solid, frosty blue, completely frozen. Everything seemed quiet here, no movement on the lake’s surface except for a few stray flakes of snow drifting down from the low clouds.

It was rather beautiful.

“Hannibal,” Will breathed, forgetting himself for a moment.

The other man smiled, obviously pleased with himself. “I had hoped you would like it. One of my former patients told me about this place years ago, but the lake didn’t freeze enough for the past few winters.”

Will was so mesmerized by the powder blue ice that it took a moment for Hannibal’s words to catch up. His brow furrowed, and suddenly he had a feeling he was not going to like what was about to happen. “Didn’t freeze enough for what?”

If he hadn’t been so shocked, he would have laughed at the genuine smile on Hannibal’s face as he pulled out two pairs of the ugliest shoes Will had ever seen.

“Ice skating, of course.”

___

“You know, I don’t think this qualifies as hiking,” Will grumbled at Hannibal as he laced up one of his huge skates.

The leather was soft and oiled well, the laces made of some kind of silk, and Will knew these were top of the line skates – Hannibal would never bother with anything less - but all he could see were two bulky shoes that would look even more ridiculous when fumbling around on the ice.

Winston ran around the edge of the lake, content to prance around in the thicker piles of snow that had gathered under the open sky. Will eyed him, brainstorming a way out of this.

“I’m not sure if I should leave Winston, he might run off if we don’t stay in sight,” Will began.

Hannibal shocked him for the second time that day.

“Not to worry, I’ve begun to keep these around in case one of your canines was in need of a distraction,” he told Will, and pulled a thick strip of jerky wrapped in parchment out of the skate bag.

Before Will could even think to ask what Hannibal’s ideas were on why his dogs would ever need a distraction, he also pulled a satin blanket from the bag, a huge ivory one that probably cost as much as the skates.

Before Will could protest Hannibal had it spread out on a bare patch of ground underneath a tree and called Winston over.

Winston, the traitor, bounded over and took the jerky right from Hannibal’s hand, settling down with it on the blanket with absolutely no intent of moving.

Will could only watch, mouth gaping, as Hannibal reached down and gave his head one gentle pat.

Will wanted to be mad, he wanted to rip what was most definitely human jerky out of his dog’s mouth and throw it at Hannibal’s stupid face and stupid ice skates.

But something terribly warm that had been growing in his chest was stirring at the sight of the Chesapeake Ripper letting the dog dirty up his fancy blanket, at the thought of him going out of his way to make treats for his dogs, at the secret moment of sincere affection Hannibal had given Winston.

All because he wanted to go ice skating with Will.

And damn if that didn’t make him sigh.

He took Hannibal’s offered hand after his other skate was laced, but found that he was extremely unsteady on his feet, and before he could balance himself out he clutched at Hannibal’s arm to keep himself up.

Hannibal responded immediately, wrapping a firm arm around Will’s middle and gently gripping Will’s arm with his free one, which nestled Will right into his chest and made his face flush.

“I’ve never skated before,” Will muttered, more nervous about his reactions to Hannibal than his inability to walk, “I’m sorry.”

“I assumed as much,” Hannibal told him as they made their way steadily onto the ice. “There is no need to apologize.”

 “If I had desired a skating partner I would have looked elsewhere,” he told Will, breath warm against Will’s neck, “But I simply desired to spend this day with you.”

Well, fuck. Will’s blush deepened even more and he focused on scooting his skates across the ice. Hannibal chuckled at his awkward steps.

“I haven’t skated with anyone else in a very long time,” he admitted to Will.

“Not sure how much actual skating you’ll get out of me,” Will chuckled ruefully. “I don’t think I have the grace for it.”

Hannibal glided away a few feet, ridiculously fluid, and Will had to admit that even the dark bulky leather and thick buckles of the skates looked distinguished on him.

“You are an extremely graceful man, Will,” Hannibal called from across the ice. “Have faith in your own abilities.”

Will rolled his eyes at that, but watched Hannibal’s legs – had they always been so long – and tried to mimic the best he could.

Soon enough he was doing something between a scoot and a slide, and he began to catch up to Hannibal further in the center of the lake. Winston was a happy, wagging speck underneath the tree, and then he was gone entirely, and Will looked around at the view surrounding them.

It really was incredible, like something out of a picture book, snow dusted peaks and pine trees towering around them, throwing warped reflections onto the opaque ice.

His gaze shifted to where Hannibal’s dark figure glided in languid circles in the middle of the ice. Will suddenly felt as if a weight was gone from his shoulders, like he was Atlas and the entire world had suddenly disappeared into thin air. All that remained was this frozen lake and the man waiting for him.

Will slowly made his way to where Hannibal was; at some point their eyes met and neither of them looked away. They skated in slow circles, around and around, closer and closer, and when they finally reached one another Will was surprised to find himself laughing.

Real, genuine laughter. He was actually enjoying himself.

Hannibal smiled, crooked teeth and all, and Will realized then that he loved him just a little bit.

He remembered Hannibal’s hand on Winston’s head. More than a little bit.

He reached out and grabbed Hannibal’s arm once he was close enough, and they both slid to a stop. Hannibal looked at him questioningly, the smile lingering on his lips.

Will shook his head, at a loss for words.

“I… today has been nice, Hannibal,” he whispered, eyes roaming from Hannibal’s chest to his jaw to his eyes to his mouth. “I feel… happy.”

The words sounded odd coming out of his mouth. When was the last time he had been happy? Probably with Hannibal, before all the dots had begun connecting, when he had thought Hannibal to be the closest thing to a friend he had ever had. He still was, all things considered.

Hannibal’s lips were parted, and Will watched puffs of air escape from between them. He imagined running his tongue along that seam and trembled at the thought.

“I am glad to hear that,” Hannibal murmured, dark eyes glued to Will’s mouth.

“I drove here last week and found the ice to be perfect. I had my skates, I had every intent of using them, but something was missing. My sister… we had always done this together, as children. Her absence is constant, but this time it was you I missed.” Hannibal’s voice was so low now Will had to read his lips to understand him.

“I find myself missing you often, Will. Even where your presence has not accompanied me before, it seems you have seeped into the crevices of my life. You are… everywhere.” Hannibal breathed.

Will watched his face, a thousand tell-tale signs flickering across it, the darkening of his eyes, the tightening of his throat, his tongue wetting his lips.

Will felt his hands move to Hannibal’s chest, resting against the soft leather. He swore he could feel Hannibal’s heart pounding through it.

“Would you like me everywhere?” Will whispered back before he could stop himself. “Truly?”

Hannibal swallowed, and Will would have bet anything that he was holding back a groan.

“You don’t have to ask, mylimasis.”

Will’s fingers turned to fists on Hannibal’s coat as he yanked the man down to him and kissed him.

Will would never admit to himself that he had thought about this before, for quite some time, but if he did he would also have to admit that his imagination couldn’t do Hannibal justice.

He saw tiny snowflakes trembling on the edges of Hannibal’s fair eyelashes before he closed his own, and the moment he felt Hannibal’s lips against him his knees gave way beneath him.

Hannibal, the quick bastard, held Will to him with steady arms, and Will wrapped his own around Hannibal’s neck. Hannibal’s lips were gentle, exploratory, kissing Will as if he were in awe of the creature he held.

That wouldn’t do.

Will threaded his fingers through the silky hair at Hannibal’s nape and pulled.

A savage groan ripped out of Hannibal’s throat as he forced Will’s mouth open with his own.

Will grinned around Hannibal’s tongue as it slid against his own.

He pulled back just enough to whisper, “No need to be gentle with me suddenly, Doctor. I like it more when you aren’t scared of breaking me.”

Hannibal snarled, actually snarled, at that and it made Will’s heart race. He reclaimed Will’s mouth, biting at his lips until they were so swollen Will cried out, and then moved to his neck.

Hannibal yanked aside Will’s scarf and tugged at the top buttons of his shirt. Will heard some of them scatter across the ice but he didn’t care, couldn’t even feel the chill of the cold when Hannibal’s hot mouth was exploring his collarbones and the meaty part of his shoulder.

Hannibal bit down hard there, and Will cried out again. Blood throbbed where it had begun to pool in his groin and suddenly Hannibal’s thigh was pressing between his legs and yes.

“Fuck, Hannibal,” Will groaned as the attention to his neck and erection continued. He grasped onto the back of Hannibal’s neck weakly, and nuzzled at Hannibal’s face with his own until the man kissed him again.

“Will,” Hannibal’s voice was a growl against his lips. “I am afraid if we continue we won’t be able to stop.”

“Then don’t,” Will mumbled, licking Hannibal’s bottom lip delicately.

Hannibal chuckled darkly but pushed Will back with firm hands.

Will glared at him and shamelessly tightened his legs around Hannibal’s, feeling the muscles of the older man’s thigh flex against his cock.

One of Will’s hands slid from his neck to his shoulder, then drifted down his chest and stomach. Hannibal watched Will with eyes blown completely black as his shaking hand brushed gently against the hardness in Hannibal’s jeans.

All at once, Hannibal had spun Will around, pressed his back to Hannibal’s front, and held his arms in a vise-like grip in front of him.

Will struggled, squirming against the man’s hold until Hannibal pressed back. Will felt his throat go dry at the feeling of Hannibal’s cock pressing against his ass, sliding up and down with Hannibal’s gentle movements.

“I won’t fuck you like this, Will,” Hannibal told him, voice low. Will whimpered at his words and hot breath. At some point Will’s hat must have slipped off. He couldn’t even bring himself to care while Hannibal’s lips were pressed against his ear like that, saying actual curse words. A stupid accent shouldn’t be enough to make the word “fuck” sound so utterly nasty, but Hannibal Lecter was a man of many talents. 

“Not for the first time,” he added, and Will thought he might have gone a little dizzy from those words.

“I certainly would rather you fuck me somewhere warmer, be it my bed or my desk,” Hannibal murmured wickedly. The idea of- the thought- Will’s eyes closed and he panted. Having Hannibal at his mercy, claiming him in that way… Will could have come from the image alone. He whined as he pressed himself harder against the older man. He was throbbing with tension, and every place where Hannibal’s body touched his felt like a live wire.

Hannibal’s teeth pressed lightly against Will’s throat. “Or perhaps over my kitchen table.”

That was all it took, and Will was crying out as he came in his pants, his ridiculous fleece-lined cargo pants. Hannibal held him firmly as his body shuddered uncontrollably, and he continued to hold Will up as the waves of pleasure subsided.

He couldn’t even bring himself to be embarrassed. Hannibal basically dragged him back across the ice, holding Will to his chest so that Will’s skates barely skimmed across the surface.

When the shore and Winston came back into sight Will felt the weight of the world returning.

Before they stepped off of the ice Will stopped, peering up at Hannibal with a cautious look.

“What happens now?”

Hannibal smiled, unreadable, and ran his fingers over the bite marks that collared Will’s throat. Will shivered, out of lust and other, much scarier feelings.

“Now, we go home.”