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here I am, pry me open

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The problem is the bed. Or rather, the fact that there are beds, plural, in this new home, when there had been only one bed in the cabin and all the hotels they’d stayed in on the way here.

One bed made things simple: they are still both healing, and neither of them would fare well anywhere other than a bed. Sharing was easy, was natural. Will has gotten used to it, the warmth of Hannibal’s body, the soft sounds he makes in sleep. Waking up touching—waking up from a violent nightmare to Hannibal gentling him, hands warm and sure and comforting despite everything. Falling back to sleep with his head pillowed on Hannibal’s shoulder because he didn’t want to pull away, and didn’t have to. Waking sometimes to Hannibal holding him tightly, and staying perfectly still until Hannibal’s grip eased and breathing evened back out so as not to startle him away.

It’s been comfortable. It’s been nice. They haven’t talked about it, and Will had thought they didn’t need to. After everything, it seemed like an inevitability: they would sleep together, and eventually they would do more than that.

He can see that Hannibal wants that: his wanting is written in every action, every look, every aborted touch. All the words he doesn’t say. Hannibal is quiet these days, illness and uncertainty making him reticent. He’s still there, flashes of his personality spilling out when he forgets himself and relaxes, but it’s been hard, seeing him so diminished.

Will thinks about kissing him often, most commonly in the mornings when they’re just waking up. Hannibal is softer and more vulnerable then, and it’s easier to imagine things being simpler between them. Easier to think that Will could just kiss him, just like that, without there being consequences he’s not sure he’s ready to face.

It might draw Hannibal back out of himself, but what will that look like? And what if Will isn’t as ready for that as he thinks he is, and Hannibal mistakes his hesitance for rejection? Will is acutely aware that this man is more wolf than dog: not capable of full domestication, as gentle as he can seem at times. He isn’t interested in being bitten again.

So when they come into their new, longer term safehouse and Hannibal directs him to a room of his own, a bedroom separate from Hannibal’s, he doesn’t immediately protest. They go about the rest of their day, unpacking and settling in. If Hannibal wants his own space, Will can let him have it.

Except that now it’s past midnight, and he’s lying awake in his bed, in his room, staring at the ceiling. Thinking about the absence in the space beside him, and utterly unable to shake the image of Hannibal doing the same in the next room.

He hasn’t been in Hannibal’s bedroom at all since they arrived. Hannibal was barely in it before retiring to bed this evening. Neither of them should be awake this late. Neither of their bodies has recovered enough to allow for sleepless nights.

Will knows he wouldn’t be able to hear Hannibal’s quiet snoring through the walls of this house; he can barely hear anything, the quiet absolute and oppressive. But he knows, as surely as he knows how to read a crime scene, that Hannibal is as awake as he is.

When sleep finally comes for Will, it leaves him feeling more exhausted than before.

 

Hannibal comes downstairs after Will has already started the coffee, and the dark circles under his eyes confirm that their restlessness was mutual.

“Coffee?” Will offers. Interacting with Hannibal these days very much does feel like handling a skittish animal, not quite sure yet that this place is home.

Hannibal nods and takes the mug from him, inhaling the steam before taking a sip. “How did you sleep?”

Will scoffs. “Didn’t really.”

Hannibal nods. “It’s not uncommon to have difficulty sleeping in a new environment. The mind remains alert, on guard for unexpected threats in unfamiliar territory.”

Will hums noncommittally, taking a sip of his own coffee. Still not talking about it, then. “So I hear.”

 

The day passes quickly enough: there’s plenty to do to settle into the new house, and neither of them are moving terribly quickly yet. Hannibal leaves to check out the nearby town in the afternoon and lies down on the couch when he comes back, exhausted and in pain from overexertion.

Will has learned, these last few weeks, to give Hannibal space when he’s feeling especially poor physically and there isn’t anything Will can do to help. He brings Hannibal a glass of water anyway, and then goes back to mentally cataloging the house’s contents: checking through cupboards and closets and reading the titles on bookshelves. The house is quite thoroughly stocked, and it’s clear that someone has been in recently to make things ready for them. There was fresh milk and eggs for this morning’s breakfast, although Hannibal picked up more groceries while he was out.

He took the time to put them away before collapsing, because Hannibal would have to be in very bad shape indeed before he’d stop in the middle of a task to rest. Will has seen him in that bad a shape. The fact that he isn’t in that bad a shape now is actually something of a relief, after everything. Will had been worried about him going out for so long on his own, and not just because of the itchy thing under his skin that doesn’t like having Hannibal out of his sight at all.

He can’t make himself stay out of the living room for long, coming in with a book barely fifteen minutes later. Hannibal’s eyes are closed, but he doesn’t look like he’s asleep—Will has spent a lot of time watching him sleep, this past few weeks, and his face isn’t quite relaxed enough. He doesn’t react to Will’s presence, however, so Will settles into an armchair to read.

He’s contemplating what he should do about dinner—should he wait for Hannibal or make something himself?—when Hannibal finally stirs, pushing himself up slowly and cautiously to a sitting position. He doesn’t seem surprised to see Will there, nor the glass of water, which he takes a careful sip from.

“Are you going to be up to making dinner?” Will asks.

Hannibal considers, which means the answer should be no. “If you don’t mind waiting a bit longer, yes.”

“Can I do anything for you?”

Hannibal shakes his head. “Thank you for the water.”

Will sets his book down and stands, stretching his stiff muscles before walking over and sitting next to Hannibal on the couch.

Hannibal looks at him and cocks his head, the question clear, even though he doesn’t voice it. Will’s not entirely sure what he’s doing himself, so he doesn’t answer.

“I wish we could trust each other,” he says instead.

Hannibal looks, if anything, more quizzical, but he says, “Me too.”

“Do you really?”

Hannibal’s brow furrows slightly, and he pauses before he speaks. Will almost wants to take it back—Hannibal is openly feeling poorly, it’s really not fair to incite a discussion like this right now—but he doesn’t, because when has Hannibal ever gone easy on him?

“I do,” Hannibal says quietly. He looks down at his hands, twisted together on his lap. “I wish, more than anything, that you still trusted me. I miss your trust. And I want to be able to trust you, but…” He spreads his hands.

“Yeah,” Will says.

“I do trust you more than most, in some ways,” Hannibal adds. “But even without everything that’s happened between us, I am unused to relying on others. Don’t mistake my reticence for ingratitude.”

“Let me help with dinner,” Will says, setting a hand gently on Hannibal’s arm. “Overdoing is only going to make the healing process take longer.”

Hannibal is staring at Will’s hand on his arm. “I know.” He sighs. “Perhaps I can direct you?”

In the end they make dinner together: Hannibal sits at the island and preps things, and Will does the actual cooking. It’s a bigger and nicer kitchen than they’ve had so far, and better ingredients. Hannibal must have badly wanted to be able to revel in that by himself, but there will be time here for him to prepare many meals on his own. Will appreciates being allowed to be involved, and having convinced Hannibal to take it at least slightly easy.

Will’s shoulder is damaged beyond repair, but the weakness and shakiness of one arm and the associated hand is much easier to compensate for than an abdominal gunshot wound and four broken ribs from their fall. And Hannibal has ten years on Will: harder to bounce back at fifty than forty. Especially when Hannibal hadn’t been able to keep himself in peak condition in the BSHCI, no matter how lenient Alana was with him.

Dinner is a mostly quiet affair, but Hannibal seems to have perked up some after having eaten. There’s a piano in the living room, and he sits down at it after they’ve cleared the table and done the dishes.

Will sits on the couch with his book and watches Hannibal ghosting his fingers over the keys. It’s about twenty minutes before he actually presses a key—he can’t have sat in front of a piano in more than three years, but when he starts playing, it comes out beautifully.

It’s not a piece Will recognizes, and Hannibal must not be as pleased with it as Will is because he stops partway through, a small furrow appearing on his brow as he begins the phrase again. Will feels a strange sense of pride at being allowed to see Hannibal do something less than perfectly. It feels a little silly after the states he’s seen Hannibal in in the last few weeks, but there’s a difference between the things one sees while caring for someone too injured to refuse help or hide their weakness and being knowingly allowed to sit in on relearning how to play an instrument.

Hannibal starts and stops several more times before he makes it to the end of the piece, and then he starts over and tries it again. Will shifts his attention to the book in his hand, although he’s aware of and pleased by the strains of music flowing around him. It feels nice, calls to mind evenings spent together years ago, together but each engaged in separate tasks.

There’s an ease to it that he’d never quite achieved with Molly—he’s aware of Hannibal, but he’s not actively paying attention to Hannibal, he’s not on guard for easily-missed cues that he might be doing something wrong. If Hannibal needs something from him, it will be clear, and he has the same expectation of Will. He won’t read anything into Will’s silence that isn’t meant.

And Hannibal’s presence is soothing in a way that no one else’s ever has been: no messy emotions bleeding into Will and taking over his head, just the faint and easily isolated awareness of Hannibal’s mounting frustration with the mistakes he’s making as he plays.

He makes it through several minutes of the piece before hitting a chord poorly enough that even Will immediately registers it as jarringly wrong, and finally lets out a small frustrated sound before removing his hands from the keys.

Will lowers his book. “Better than I could do,” he offers.

Hannibal gives him a quelling look. “Forgive me if I’m not reassured.”

“I like listening to you play, whether it’s perfect or not. It sounds nice.”

Hannibal looks down at the piano. “I’m glad you appreciate it.”

Will goes back to his book. After a few moments, Hannibal begins the piece again.

 

Going to bed isn’t any easier than it was the night before. Hannibal went upstairs first, and Will followed not long after, trying to convince himself that sleep would come easier tonight.

Instead he’s lying awake, Hannibal’s melody from earlier flowing through his mind. There’s a kind of yearning to the piece that fits his mood precisely, and in the end that’s what drives him out of bed and down the hall to knock on Hannibal’s door.

There’s curiosity in Hannibal’s voice when he calls Will in, and maybe a touch of concern.

Will pushes the door open and pauses for a moment, taking in the sight of Hannibal in bed. He steps forward as if pulled, not bothering to ask for permission, and slides into the bed next to him.

There’s a moment where it seems like it might be awkward—Hannibal goes stiff with surprise and opens his mouth like he might say something, and Will doesn’t have anything at all to say about it other than that he cannot bear to be further from Hannibal than this. But then Will shifts closer and sets his hand on Hannibal’s side, and a shudder ripples through Hannibal as he sighs and relaxes, moving closer until he can lean forward and touch his forehead to Will’s. Close enough that Will can feel Hannibal’s uneven exhale against his lips.

Will wants to kiss him. It would be easy to kiss him, like this. But the timing isn’t right; the moment is too fragile and too precious to test in that way. Will’s own breath shakes a little as he scoots forward, pressing closer until there’s a line of contact down the length of their bodies, and Hannibal sighs and wraps an arm around him to pull him closer still.

Deep contentment settles in Will’s chest as they lie there breathing together. He shifts just enough to get comfortable on the pillow, and he’s asleep before he realizes it.

 

Will opens his eyes to see the back of Hannibal’s head. It’s early morning, the soft light of dawn filtering in through the curtains, and he can feel the even rise and fall of Hannibal’s chest under his hand. Hannibal is still asleep, letting out soft little snores with every breath, and Will gives in to the urge to bury his face in his hair, lips brushing the back of Hannibal’s neck.

He’s never wanted anyone like this, in this way. Touch has always been difficult for him outside of directly sexual contexts, and he’s certainly never been a proponent of cuddling for the sake of cuddling. But while he does want to kiss Hannibal, while he is half-hard where his dick is pressed against Hannibal’s ass, that’s not what he craves most. What he wants, so desperately that it’s practically a need, is to touch Hannibal, to hold and be held by him. To simply be close like this.

Hannibal stirs, shifting in Will’s arms with a contented little sigh. He goes stiff a moment later, rolling onto his back and turning his head to face Will.

Will really wants to kiss him. In the morning light, with his hair a mess, Hannibal is beautiful and so incredibly soft, even with the uncertainty currently clouding his expression. It would be so easy to do.

Instead he gives Hannibal a smile and strokes his side once before rolling out of bed and heading to the kitchen to start coffee.

Hannibal comes down a few minutes later, wearing a robe and having neatened his hair. He takes a sip from the mug of coffee Will poured for him before he speaks. “Do you find yourself better rested this morning?”

Will looks at him appraisingly while taking a sip of his own coffee. “I do. How about you?”

Hannibal sets his mug down and opens the fridge, gaze fixed firmly on the eggs as he says, “I do as well.”

“Must not have been quite so on guard,” Will says, a touch sardonic.

Hannibal glances over at him, setting the eggs next to the stove. For a moment it looks like he’s actually going to say something, but then his face shutters slightly. “Do you have any requests for breakfast?”

Will holds back a sigh and lets it go.

 

They don’t talk about it. That night Will doesn’t even try lying in his own bed: he washes up and dresses down and goes straight to Hannibal’s room.

The door has been left ajar, so Will doesn’t bother knocking. He pushes it open to see Hannibal lying in bed facing the door, far too tense to be trying to sleep. Will comes and sits on the edge of the bed next to him, reaching out to gently push Hannibal’s hair back from his forehead.

Hannibal lets out a breath, tension flowing out of him as he leans into the touch. “Are you coming to bed?”

Will smiles and nods, standing to pull back the covers. Hannibal shifts over to give him more room, but Will slides in close and wraps an arm around him, tangling their legs together.

Hannibal gives a full-body shudder at the contact, and his cock starts to fill where it’s pressed against Will’s thigh. Their faces are close in the darkness; it would be so, so easy to kiss him. Will’s own dick is responding to the thought, to the closeness and contact and potential—Hannibal can hardly miss it, close as they are.

Part of Will wants Hannibal to do something about it himself, wants to push Hannibal into reacting. Part of him wants to just move, to rock and rut against him and just take what he wants. Part of him wants to kiss Hannibal and touch him until they aren’t sure where each other ends and they begin.

But the larger, louder part of him is still wary. Still knows that there will be consequences to any of those actions that Will isn’t prepared yet to face, and that the best course of action in this moment is to just go to sleep.

He sighs and shifts so there’s some space between their hips, making sure to wrap his arm more securely around Hannibal’s torso so it doesn’t feel like a rejection.

Hannibal sighs as well, leaning forward to nuzzle against Will’s temple before settling back on the pillow.

They lay there together in the dark, just breathing. The charge of arousal fades to a background hum, and Will knows he made the right choice. It’s strange to be so in control in relation to Hannibal—it’s always felt like Hannibal was playing a game for which Will didn’t quite know all the rules, but now Hannibal isn’t playing at all. He’s just cautiously meeting Will at whatever level of intimacy Will initiates, not pushing for more physically or emotionally.

On the one hand, it’s nice to know that everything that’s happening between them is his choice and that he isn’t being coerced or manipulated. After everything, that’s important. But on the other hand, Hannibal really doesn’t feel like Hannibal when he’s being so passive and tentative. The man Will fell in love with was neither of those things, and he certainly wasn’t half so governed by fear.

Will is glad that he backed off, but he wishes that Hannibal hadn’t. In this moment, the desire in Will’s chest is not to kiss Hannibal but to be kissed, to be claimed, to have Hannibal want him as badly as he wants Hannibal and be willing to express that desire.

Hannibal shifts in bed beside him, bringing his hand up to stroke down Will’s side before settling at his hip. It’s not a kiss, but it’s something; Will feels himself relax at the contact, but not enough to sleep.

He bites his lip, deliberating for a moment. “Hannibal?”

Hannibal’s hand curls around his hip more firmly. “Mmm?”

“Would you—“ He breaks off, makes a disparaging noise at himself for being stupid about this, and then tries again. “Can I ask you to do something for me?”

“Anything, Will.” Hannibal’s voice is heavy with sleep, but absolutely sincere.

“Would you hold me?”

Hannibal’s arm slides around Will’s back immediately, solid and secure. The leg between Will’s shifts too, wrapping further around Will’s, holding him there. It feels so good Will’s throat gets tight; he buries his face in the hollow of Hannibal’s throat and just holds on.

“Thank you,” he mumbles when he’s sure his voice won’t shake.

Hannibal nuzzles his hair. “This is no hardship for me.”

“Don’t make me ask next time, then.”

Hannibal sighs and buries his nose in Will’s hair again, lips brushing his forehead. He’s quiet for so long that Will starts to drift off—he’s not entirely sure that he’s still awake when he hears Hannibal say, “If I could, I would never let you go.”

He’s too close to sleep to reply, but the feeling of contentment it gives him follows him into his dreams.

 

He wakes still wrapped in Hannibal’s arms, although the grip has slackened in sleep. His head is half on Hannibal’s shoulder and half on Hannibal’s pillow. Will can feel the swell of Hannibal’s morning erection where it presses against his own, and he’s shifting against it before he’s awake enough to remember why he shouldn’t.

Hannibal stirs at the contact and rolls his hips, and the friction feels so good that Will can’t help rocking more firmly against him. The feeling of Hannibal’s cock twitching to full hardness against him has him doing the same in no time, and there’s a few moments of delicious rutting, no thoughts in his head at all, just sensation.

And then Hannibal makes a noise, a half choked moan, and Will is abruptly reminded of what he’s doing and who he’s doing it with. He jerks back, yanking himself out of Hannibal’s hold and up out of bed.

“Will?” Hannibal sounds so uncertain, frozen in place on the bed.

Will takes in the sight of him, tousled, aroused, concerned, and he just can’t face it. “I’m sorry,” he says, and flees.

He braces himself on the counter in his bathroom and fights to control his breathing. “Shit,” he tells his reflection.

His reflection doesn’t offer any helpful commentary, just looks back at him with the agitated expression he feels on his own face. It pulls the still-red skin of his new scar in an ugly way, and he has to look down. The sight of his hands white knuckled on the edge of the counter is easier to bear by far, but it doesn’t do a better job of helping him out of the mess he’s just made.

There’s no way Hannibal will see that as anything but a rejection, and there’s no telling how badly he’ll take that. It might be safest for Will to just stay in the bathroom all day. Not that that will be long enough for Hannibal to have forgiven him—not that the lock on the bathroom door is strong enough to keep Hannibal out if he’s determined to come in.

Will doesn’t think Hannibal would break down the bathroom door to kill him. That seems like something he’d think was unforgivably discourteous, and it would spoil the aesthetic to kill Will while he was on the toilet. But he doesn’t much want to test that theory, and he’s hungry and really needs coffee if he’s going to have any hope of getting through whatever conversation they’re going to have to have now, so he pulls himself together as best he can and dithers only a little longer than he normally might over taking a piss and washing his hands.

He can hear something sizzling in the kitchen as he walks downstairs, and he walks through the open doorway cautiously. If Hannibal does want to stab him, the kitchen would be the most convenient place.

Hannibal doesn’t look like he wants to stab anyone. He glances over his shoulder as Will walks in, and his face softens. “There’s coffee, if you’d like some.”

Will steps past him and gratefully picks up his mug, unsurprised to find it already fixed perfectly. He takes a long sip of it as he leans back against the counter to watch Hannibal cook. “Thanks.”

Hannibal stirs whatever meaty thing is sizzling in the plan and then turns to face him. “Are you alright?”

Out of all the reactions Will had expected, concern wasn’t one of them. “Am I alright?”

“You seem quite agitated this morning. If I’ve done something to make you uncomfortable, I’d like an opportunity to rectify that.”

Will has to laugh at that, short and bitter. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Then it’s your own desire that frightens you.” Hannibal turns back to the stove, adding something from a small bowl and stirring again. “I never took you for being particularly attached to your heterosexuality.”

Will scrubs a hand over his face. “I’m not heterosexual. The fact that you’re a man has nothing to do with it.”

“Then what does?”

“You really want me to list all the reasons I have to be wary of intimacy with you?”

Hannibal turns to look at him again, and there’s finally a spark of something other than wariness in his face. “No, I want you to explain why you have an objection to that intimacy specifically. It’s obvious that we both want it, and you willingly engage in other forms of physical intimacy. I’d like to know why you feel comfortable demanding that I hold you at night but you run from sexual contact.”

“I think you can probably figure that one out.”

Hannibal sighs so heavily that his whole body shakes with it. “I have had my fill,” he says, an edge to his voice, “of acting without full understanding of your motivations.”

Will wraps both hands around his mug and takes a deep breath. “I don’t know how well I can articulate this.”

Hannibal gives him a tiny smile and turns back to the stove. “Take your time.”

Will watches him cook and tries to think. There’s a lot he knows he’s going to have to say at some point, it’s just a question of how much of it he wants to say now. “I want to have sex with you,” he says slowly. “I intend to have sex with you eventually. But I’m worried about the emotional fallout if we do. For both of us. I—I worry about how I’ll react. And I worry about how you’ll react, and how you’ll react to my reaction. There’s too much that’s still raw between us for that to be a good idea.”

Hannibal looks over at him and cocks his head slightly. “I’m curious how you anticipate those things will become less raw if you refuse to engage with them emotionally.”

“Are you really recommending sex as a method of working through interpersonal difficulties, Doctor?”

Hannibal gives him a level look. “I’m suggesting that adding to the tension between us by encouraging physical contact and disallowing sexual contact isn’t likely to help defuse any of our other tensions.”

Will takes a sip of his coffee. “So you’re saying you don’t want to keep sharing a bed with me unless we’re fucking.”

“No,” Hannibal says, eyes focused on the stove. “I’d much prefer to have you with me, regardless of anything else. But I feel this morning illustrates well the difficulty of the current situation.”

Will sighs, deflating slightly. He closes his eyes for a moment, and then says, “Yeah. I really am sorry about how I reacted.”

“You really do worry too much, Will. In the context of harm we’ve caused each other, this morning is hardly reprehensible.”

“Still.” Will’s mouth pulls up in a somewhat self deprecating smile. “Although really, when you put it like that, sex does seem like a strange thing to be hung up on. This feels so fragile, but, I mean. We’ve tried pretty hard to smash it, and we’re still here.”

“I won’t deny that I also feel the fragility. We’ve spent so long at odds with each other that there is an inherent uneasiness to this peace.”

“I don’t want to be at odds with you anymore,” Will says, setting down his coffee and stepping closer to Hannibal. “I want this to work, because living without you feels like living without my heart.”

Hannibal takes a slightly uneven breath and turns to look at him. “Will…”

Will steps closer and rests a hand on Hannibal’s arm. “You asked me to engage emotionally with the things that are raw between us. I’ve tried to fight this for far too long for it to be easy to say, but—I love you. I’ve been in love with you for going on five years now.”

The next breath Hannibal takes is even shakier, and he looks down at Will’s hand on his arm rather than at his face. “It is difficult to say,” he says, voice thick. “More difficult than I would have anticipated, considering how constantly I have thought of it over the years. I have thought of nothing but you, Will: I have wanted nothing but you. To say that I love you feels too small.”

Will takes his own shaky breath, grip going vice-tight on Hannibal’s arm. “Shit,” he says, swallowing around the lump in his throat. “See, this is why I was worried about the fallout from having sex with you.”

Hannibal huffs a laugh, reaching to cup Will’s face with one hand and finally looking up to meet his eyes. His are as shiny with unshed tears as Will knows his own are, and as they look at each other Hannibal’s spill over, running down his cheeks. “I wish that I could have known what you were going to mean to me,” he says, voice shaking more than Will has ever heard it. “There’s so much that I wish I could undo.”

Will reaches up to touch Hannibal’s face, wiping away the tears with his thumb. “I know,” he says, and he does, just as he knows that Hannibal’s list of regrets and his own list of grievances only partially align. “I’m not going to tell you it’s okay, because it isn’t. But this isn’t going to work if I keep holding things against you that you can’t change. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t intend to forgive you.”

“I have never been prone to forgiveness,” Hannibal says. “But I find it is far easier to forgive you for things than it is to maintain ill will toward you.”

Will smiles, feeling the tears in his own eyes well over. “I know the feeling.”

They stand there staring at each other for a long moment, until an acrid smell reminds them both that the stove is still on.

It’s the first time Will has heard Hannibal curse—it’s not in English, but the tone makes the meaning unquestionable.

“Sorry,” Will says. “Guess I could have picked better timing.”

Hannibal looks up from the ruined contents of the pan and gives him a dry look. “I’ve forgiven worse from you. Let me set this to soak, and I’ll try again. Perhaps something more forgiving of distraction.”

Will steps back to let him pass to set the pan in the sink, and then catches his arm as he comes back to the stove. “Hey, I really am sorry. I don’t like wasting food any more than you do.”

Hannibal’s face softens. “Please stop apologizing. I’m extremely pleased to have heard what you had to say, and this is entirely my own fault for not paying enough attention to the stove.”

“Okay,” Will says. “Make something quick, okay? I might be tempted to distract you again, and I know you’ll want to actually eat breakfast at some point.”

Hannibal smiles and reaches up to stroke a thumb over Will’s cheek before turning back to the stove. “Yes, perhaps that would be most practical. I bought some clementines, if you’d like to peel and section one for each of us?”

“Put me to work so I can’t bother you?” Will goes to the sink to wash his hands.

“This will go faster if you help, and I will be free for you to ‘bother’ sooner.”

Breakfast ends up being fried eggs and toast, with the clementines. Much more simple than Hannibal’s standard fare, but neither of them is particularly focused on the food. There’s an air of tightly leashed anticipation to the meal; they don’t speak, but every time their eyes meet Will feels the charge between them. He has to look away from Hannibal sucking on an orange slice when he realizes he’s starting to get hard.

He wants to suck the juice out of Hannibal’s mouth, taste the sweetness on his tongue. And Hannibal is looking at him like he’s thinking the same, hungry and wanting and making no effort to hide it.

It’s been a long time since Hannibal has looked at him like this, and it’s an overwhelming relief to have it back, to see it amplified with intent. It’s not that he truly doubted that Hannibal wants him, that Hannibal loves him, but having the confirmation in both words and affect is different, is more.

Will wets his lips, shifting in his seat as he waits for Hannibal to finish eating. His list of reasons not to kiss Hannibal has dwindled to the simple fact that there’s a table in between them. He’s not going around that obstacle because he’s trying to maintain a semblance of self control, and because Hannibal very obviously has a bit of a thing about food and Will doesn’t want him to be focused on anything but Will when he does kiss him.

It’s to that end that he also restrains himself from kissing Hannibal as they clear the table and instead follows him into the kitchen to help wash up. Every time their hands brush as Hannibal passes him something to dry feels like sticking his finger in an electric socket, and by the time Hannibal has finally finished scrubbing the last of the dishes he’s more than a little hard. Waiting until the dishes are put away is almost more than he can manage.

Hannibal closes the cupboard and their eyes meet, and Will is absolutely caught by the expression on Hannibal’s face. It’s not so much hunger as need, bare and obvious and so overwhelming that it takes Will a minute to be able to move. To step closer and cup Hannibal’s face in one hand, feel him lean into the touch and watch his eyes close for a moment before opening again, alight with a desire so intense Will feels like he’s on fire just looking in them.

“I’m going to kiss you now,” he says, stepping closer so there’s no space between them. “Last chance to stop me.”

Hannibal sways closer, exhaling slowly against Will’s lips. “Please.”

The single word sends a bolt of heat directly to Will’s cock, and he’s leaning in to close the gap before he’s even finished processing it. Hannibal meets him halfway, lips soft and warm, opening against Will’s to deepen the kiss almost immediately.

Will presses him back against the counter and swallows Hannibal’s tiny gasp, sparing half a thought for how fitting it is that this should happen in the kitchen as he slides a leg between Hannibal’s and pushes closer. He slides his hand up into Hannibal’s hair and Hannibal lets out what can only be classified as a whine, clutching at Will’s back and shifting his hips against Will’s thigh.

Will can feel how hard he is already, and that’s enough for him to shift so his own cock is pressed against Hannibal’s leg, seeking friction through the thin barrier of their pajama pants. He breaks the kiss, gasping, and Hannibal buries his nose in the crook of Will’s neck and holds him tighter, rocking against him again.

Will twists his head and bites gently at Hannibal’s ear, and he can feel Hannibal’s cock jerk, which is absolutely delightful. He can’t imagine anything headier than being able to do this to Hannibal, to affect him so totally.

“You’re mine,” he all but growls in Hannibal’s ear.

Hannibal makes a desperate little noise and his cock jerks again. He sets his teeth gently against the tender flesh of Will’s throat for a moment before pulling back slightly to speak. “Entirely,” he says, breath tickling Will’s neck.

Will gasps and tugs Hannibal’s head up by his hair so he can kiss him again, desperate and hungry. After all of this, after everything, this is what they’re left with: they belong to each other, and it’s far too late to do anything but enjoy that.

He gets a hand between them and into the waistband of Hannibal’s pants so he can touch Hannibal’s cock, and the noise Hannibal makes against his lips is the best thing he’s ever heard. He’s already leaking, wet precome dampening the fabric of his pants, and it’s another little thrill to feel it, to run his fingers through it and smear it down Hannibal’s cock, stroking more firmly when Hannibal bucks his hips into his grip.

Hannibal breaks the kiss and buries his face in Will’s neck again. “I’m not going to last.”

“I don’t want you to last,” Will says, tightening his grip and speeding his strokes. “I want you to come in your pants because I’m touching you.”

Hannibal makes a choked sound and his cock jumps in Will’s hand, letting out another little flood of fluid. “Will.

Will turns his head so his lips are right next to Hannibal’s ear and whispers, “I love you.”

Hannibal shudders and cries out and comes all over Will’s hand and his pajama pants, shaking as Will strokes him through it. He’s clinging to Will tightly, and Will feels the wetness of tears against his neck where Hannibal is hiding his face.

He strokes Hannibal’s back with his clean hand and gently shushes him. “I’ve got you.”

It only takes a minute or two for Hannibal to pull himself together and lift his head, shifting one hand up to cup Will’s face and crush their lips together again. He pushes Will back until he hits the island and then drops to his knees.

Will sucks in a breath as Hannibal looks up to meet his eyes. There are still tears drying on his cheeks, and there’s such a depth of devotion in his expression that Will can hardly breathe.

“May I?” Hannibal asks, the edge to his voice betraying how badly he wants it.

Will is too overwhelmed to speak, but he nods quickly, unable to look away as Hannibal pushes his pants down just far enough to free his cock.

Hannibal strokes it once, and then pushes up Will’s shirt slightly so he can press a kiss to the scar on Will’s belly before taking Will’s cock in his mouth all in one go.

Will gasps, and it’s a struggle not to come the moment Hannibal swallows around him. He clutches at Hannibal’s shoulder with one hand and twists the other into Hannibal’s hair, trying not to buck his hips and choke Hannibal.

Not that Hannibal seems like he would mind: he’s going down on Will like he’s starving for Will’s cock. And, thinking about it, he probably has been, which is enough that Will can’t control a thrust.

Hannibal not only takes it, but moans, like he wants Will to fuck his mouth, and that thought combined with the vibration of the moan itself is enough that Will comes, with no chance to give warning.

Hannibal swallows and then licks at the head until Will tugs on his hair to pull him off, overstimulated.

Hannibal stands up and leans against him, wrapping his arms around Will and burying his face back in Will’s neck. Will wraps his right arm around Hannibal’s back and keeps his left tangled in Hannibal’s hair, holding him there for a few minutes while he catches his breath.

“I can’t bear the idea of living without you again,” Hannibal murmurs against his neck. “Please don’t ask me to.”

Will turns his head and presses a kiss into Hannibal’s hair. “Please don’t force me to.”

Hannibal holds him tighter and doesn’t reply.

 

Eventually, they break apart. Hannibal goes upstairs to shower and put on clean pants; Will makes himself another cup of coffee and settles in the living room with his book. The day passes more or less normally, with the exception of a few more lingering touches than they’ve shared since their wounds healed enough to not require regular monitoring.

After dinner, Will settles back on the couch with his book, expecting Hannibal to come and play the way he has the last two nights. Instead Hannibal searches through the titles on the bookshelf and selects a book of his own, coming to sit on the other end of the couch beside Will.

At first he sits perfectly straight, legs crossed neatly in front of him, but over the next thirty minutes Will notes him inching closer, leaning more and more his direction and shifting his body closer. Finally he can’t take it anymore.

“Come here,” he says, lifting an arm to make space for Hannibal to lean against him.

Hannibal comes immediately, no hesitation, shifting so he can lean against Will comfortably despite his height advantage.

Will folds his arm around him and smiles. “You’re allowed to ask for things like this, you know.”

“I don’t know,” Hannibal says, folding the book closed. “How would I know? This is all new, and you are impossible to predict.”

“I thought we had established that I want you near me.”

“We established that you want to be held, and that you want to fuck me.” The profanity in Hannibal’s perfectly even tone is jarring. “There’s no established baseline for this, and you draw your lines in very different places than I do. I”—his voice shakes, ever so slightly—“I can’t ruin this again, Will. I don’t know that I could bear it if you rejected me again.”

Will sighs. “I don’t intend to. And you certainly won’t ruin this by wanting affection from me. I don’t want you to be afraid of me, Hannibal. I’ve never been afraid of you.”

“You’ve never had much sense of self preservation.”

Will laughs. “Maybe so. But I don’t want to hurt you. I’m really, really tired of us hurting each other; I’m not going to kill you over an accidental misstep. Literally or metaphorically.”

Hannibal sighs. “I want to never not be touching you ever again. I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want you to hold me like this for the rest of my life. Forgive me if I find that difficult to voice.”

“‘I’ve forgiven worse from you.’”

Hannibal actually laughs at that, raw and open and hopeful. “I love you,” he says quietly. “I realize I never said so plainly earlier.”

“That’s alright,” Will says, squeezing his shoulder. “I know.”