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Barcelona

Chapter Text

This was supposed to be a romantic trip for two, but she has never felt more forlorn. The feeling of loneliness had nothing to do with the attitude of her partner and everything with the absence of Walter. The first time in her life, she left her baby boy behind.

Undoubtedly, he is at an age where a family holiday is hardly an exciting thing, but the real reason for his unwillingness was …’  he is not interested in playing son to another dad. In fact, he has no interest in her partner at all.’

Walter’s words were harsh but genuine and certainly nothing new, yet they resonated in her mind all the way on the plane from Washington to Barcelona.

So she steps out into the morning street of this vibrant city with a plan, to transport herself from her reality into a different world, full of different people with different lives, she wants for a moment to lose herself in. What would they feel like?

She still has some time while Bruce is negotiating their accommodation with the receptionist. He is, generally said, a nice guy… and she, being a social butterfly, could not stay away from him. Yet, she is reluctant to marry again.

He is different though, by no means above-average bright, charming, nor attractive, but nor are his flaws close to the extreme, unlike Will’s. This time, she has got herself an average man for a normal life, her own Pier Bezuchov from the “War and Peace,” the story Will made her read once in an attempt to prove that ‘average’ was a most desirable trait. Somewhere deep inside her bruised soul, Molly still tries to understand him.

She sweeps her eyes around  Carrer de Rossello , glancing here and there at the passersby, but ensures no lingering looks, because she does not want to catch their attention or appear to be gawping. 

In late September, the tourist crowd is not heavy; life in slow-motion is going by, like a strolling movie, people lounging around, or just sitting for coffee and tapas in beautiful restaurants. The Modernista  town gave her ample opportunities to observe the travellers’ fashions and attitudes, as she notices that almost every venue around has outdoor seating, or wall-sized windows, providing her with the best of views.  

The upscale hotel across the narrow road is what she is aiming for. With its ghostly fingers, the morning mist rises up like a breath of the city and swirls around wild and curvy architecture, around nearby trees, giving the building a romantic, almost fairytale air. 

Its street-level cafeteria is full of tourists, and the one sitting closest to the glassy wall - like they were in a showcase -, has caught her attention. Easy on the eye, he is casually elegant, svelte, his long legs are comfortably stretched beneath the small table as he is engrossed in reading a newspaper. A poster-perfect vacationer. He will hardly notice if she decides to pay him a little extra attention. 

Yet soon, the scene from the static advertisement of a leisurely vacation morning in Barcelona springs into motion when… Will  brings two plates to the table with the main protagonist of her fantasy commercial. He is carrying croissants and some intricate delicacy for Hannibal Lecter.

At the display, the time chases to eat up seconds, minutes or maybe hours of her busy planned day for what she cares. She finds herself frozen in shock, ensnared in someone else's moment, in a simple act of her presumed-dead husband and his…  something  having breakfast.

Without Will by his side, she never would have recognised him, only from his dark, ominous depiction by the news or social media at home. More emotional than realistic, she developed her own image of Hannibal Lecter, a man sleek in appearance, with an aura of malevolent intent.

But none of that fit. Her concept of him, fed by journalists and Jack Catford’s scarce supply of characterisation, was rather a fit of fiction than an actual image of this man. Here, in the Spanish sun, is a regal gentleman who stole the show in the window front of the restaurant by his sheer presence.

His stubble is neatly trimmed and speckled with grey, alike his fair longish hair, left freely to ripple about his neck. His relaxed countenance deceives his age and the age gap between the two men. But this all pales in comparison to his eyes. Dark. Molten amber and earth, (beautiful; she finally understands why such a word appeared in a few comments she dared to read on his appearance in the Tattle Crime). Their undivided attention now is fixed on Will. Against her best imagination, they exude no threat or cold-calculated quality, but only fond appreciation, as Will gently nudges the plate with a heap of pastry and fruits against the newspaper in his hand. Instead of getting irritated, the serial killer flashes Will an utterly delighted smile.

Wandering back into the valley of their broken marriage, with a sting of pain, Molly admits, they had never complimented each other like this; in such genuine, affectionate ways. Yet, she shakes herself into the reality she has learned about the doctor Lecter and into his world where the word genuine  has no room.

He is just a carefully constructed façade -  and with a sudden cold jolt she must consent, as is Will.

The years have not spared him from a few more wrinkles. They are more profound around the eyes when he smiles back at his friend - his partner in crime . Here, a fitting appellation has naturally come to her mind. 

She desperately wants to focus on Lecter while the opportunity lasts, learn as much about the man she has blamed for five years for ruining her life, but she can't. Her eyes are inevitably drawn to Will. Not because of the abundance of the unruly curls falling in his eyes, or the absence of his beard, not even because he cuts a stunning hunk, all in dark and ritzy casual, no. She can't look away because there is no careful politeness to him. Will looks  home  at Hannibal's side. (Has she already slipped onto first-name terms with that man?)

Will moves in and out of Hannibal's personal space, and Hannibal does the same in perfect sync. Without a preamble, he pushes his head next to Hannibal's, to see what is unusual in the news that he cannot put them away, and Hannibal lets him, and leans back to neatly fold the paper when the plate slides into the place in front of him. 

The man is looking searchingly, with a skeptical face at his meal's content, certainly asking what it is; perhaps he does not like sweets for breakfast, unlike Will. And she watches how  her  Will, brusque and defensive toward a critique, only dashes him a rascal smile, then reaches out and with a single finger pushes up the spectacles falling low on Hannibal's nose when he wrinkles it in a pout. She is transfixed by this swift delicate touch, a deliberate move he was rarely generous with... towards her.

Reeling from a blow to blow, her mind feels arrested; she cannot react, cannot think. She just stands by, idly watching.

A waiter comes over, handing them the two steaming china cups, and there is another, bolder touch. Hannibal's nose hovers over freshly brewed coffee, as he inhales, what must be, an incredibly pleasant aroma. The steam courses up from the rich dark beverage, misting his spectacles, and Will reaches for them carefully, drawing them down and off Hannibal's face. 

Hannibal holds still, patient, while Will neatly folds the frames, and when he secure them on the top of the newspaper, his mouth shapes - thank you - and bestows Will a subtle affectionate smile.

After that, she stares as her lost husband gazes over the rim of the cup at his partner, and she is not sure about the in crime or friend only  part of his assumed status anymore.  

Will is neither awkward, or nervous, nor is he jerkily dropping his soft gaze in embarrassment. She observes his every smile and nod, scowl and grimace at something Hannibal says, while the other indulges in every expression Will’s animated face offers. Drinking coffee as he drinks from the sight of his partner.

At some point, with a feeling of rising sickness, she expects them to feed each other during their undying debate, but perhaps, Will stealing a piece of fruit from Hannibal’s plate does not count. It appears, as if they are engulfed in an aura of gentleness and affection, aside from which the outer world has ceased to exist for them, consuming their breakfast and their relationship.

“Molly, honey! The deal is done! You have the room you have originally booked. Come on, we must find a chocolate store; we owe big to this nice gal.” Her new partner sounds so proud of his accomplishment. It takes a great effort to shake off her first sightseeing adventure. Still, she manages to force a hearty smile in place, contrary to the ill-feeling in her stomach.

Bruce moves in front of her, into the crowd of people, hunting with their phones for the treasures amongst the city’s attractions, and she follows. A stray thought wanders by her; how come, upon seeing Hannibal Lecter, the word ‘monster,’ attached to him in every serious newspaper or tabloid, never entered her mind? 

Perhaps, the moment she has stolen from their morning was too short for his façade of an amicable persona to slip, but even this reasoning sounds weak. 

Chapter Text

Inside, the cathedral is overwhelming in size. With its sky-tall pillars in shades of green, she feels like an ant wandering between the grass's stems. She follows their lengths, looking up to where they disperse into multiple arcs and curvy forms, in the gentle fog of rainbow-tinted natural light. Like flower buds, they are upturned toward the sun, and from their midst, the eye of God looks down at her from the imaginary heavens.

Ahead of her, Bruce point-by-point follows the tour, but she has lost herself entirely in the beautiful, awe-struck sight, so lost in fact, she nearly crossed her path with Will's. 

He too walks with the eyes glued to the canopy of treetops and stars, with an expression something akin to the wonder of a child. 

She stutters to halt and then swivels after him as he strolls only a few meters past her, toward the nearby rows of chairs standing in the central nave of the church.

After the initial attack of an unnerving panic passed, she reminds herself that this time seeing them is utterly unintentional. She has not tried to look for them, follow them, nor observe or know them better for that matter, and still, she finds herself privy to a very intimate scene.

Will steps behind a sitting Hannibal and places a hand on his shoulder; instead of being startled, the man leans into it, as if wholly attuned to Will's calming touch. As if he can sense his presence from amongst the hundred people mingling around the church. He turns his head, lifts his eyes toward Will, illuminated in radiant hues of yellow and gold, filtering through the stained glass, and regards him with the look of devotion she imagines a pilgrim would bestow upon the revelation of their God. The depth of feeling in Hannibal's eyes is evident only for seconds, before the moment passes, yet enough time for her to understand. A power dynamic of their connection.

It would hardly be a stretch of her imagination to believe that she was not the only one ensnared in the religion of Will Graham.

She recoils, presses herself against the nearby column, partly because she wishes, with a sinking feeling of renewed betrayal, to become one with the cold, unfeeling stone, partly because Hannibal spins around to cover Will's hand with his own. She desperately tries to keep distance, tries to avoid being detected as a threat. Her attention zeroes in on their fingers. They are clearly visible from her vantage point. She is looking for a gleaming band of gold. Does Will still wear his? Do they wear new matching rings to seal their bond? 

Which is a thought absurd, illogical, and also entirely beside the point; her marriage, after the four years of Will's disappearance, was dissolved.

She cannot even say it is wholly unexpected. Still, her brain is combating her eyes, in denial of what is in plain sight.

The Murder Husbands  could have been her clue. But at the time, she considered it to be a truly vicious, mocking slander, one on the top of many thrown into the pile to vilify her husband

Like from the plague, Jack Crawford kept her and Walter away from the press and prying eyes and wicked tongues, especially from the one of Freddie Lounds' and her TattleCrime. He knew Ms. Lounds would offer a generous insight into Will's and Hannibal's lives before Molly happened, in exchange for a story of ' the only intact victim'  of Hannibal Lecter and her 'unfortunate association'  with Will. She bestows herself a bitter smile. Her  husband had stolen years of her and Walter's life, while his alleged one tried to take it entirely. Yes, she survived the couple, but she was not intact in every sense; she was cured infinitely of her own good-natured innocence.

Thinking back, she should have accepted Freddie's offer then and spared herself the misery of wondering now.

The slow, soft tones of Ave Maria suddenly replace the buzz in her head. Under the influence of music, the atmosphere in the church deepens to tranquil, serene, sacred. Will sits next to Hannibal, and together they listen as a magnificent alto fills the grandiose space of the cathedral. 

Even hidden from her prying eyes, she believes the hands between their bodies are joined, fingers entwined. They bore no signs of rings, and she wonders what Will has done with his own. Thrown away, perhaps. She keeps hers though; for Walter, to be remodelled for his prom, being practical, she would not let go of twenty-two karat gold.

A gentle grasp at her elbow startles her like a blow. 

"Molly?"

A familiar voice cuts through her musings - no, it cannot be him -   and she jolts, and stares helplessly at the red granite floor, from where, not Will, but Bruce is picking up the phone she has dropped, shattered in pieces. She has realised it was all the time ready in her hand, but never once she thought to take advantage of its camera.

***

The sunset is at its lowest point, and it is almost dark outside when their tour comes to an end. Basilica, museum, workshops; by the time they reach a modelling lab, she is tired and her feet, in new sandals she donned for the occasion, hurt so much that they give up the 3D printing demonstration in favour of witnessing the day’s final ringing of the cathedral bells.

At the end of summer, this is the last performance complemented by the cathedral night-time vista. They venture further, away from the impressive structure and into an adjacent street already filled with the eager people, seeking a better acoustic spot for the chiming sound.

Sharply at 8 pm, the cacophony of voices dies out and gives way to the deep rumble of the bells. The hand around hers tightens; it looks like her….

…like both, her current and her ex-partners are smitten by the overwhelming sound and sight. The cathedral stands like a giant lit candle, iridescent against the charcoal sky. Now, for her, upon catching sight of Will, the main protagonist of this grandiose spectacle is no more the Sagrada Familia. 

They are right on the other side of the pedestrian zone, blending with the shadows of the buildings and the crowd. Will stands in front of Hannibal, his head tilted back, partly supported by Hannibal’s shoulder, his stare fixed upon the twelve towering belfries.  The belfries seem to be glowing from within, and so does Will.

Despite the darkness, elevated only by the reflection of the cathedral light, she can see his expression beaming with rapt attention, listening to what Hannibal has to say right into his ear. Explaining the mechanics of this architectural music instrument perhaps, or… Dismissing instantly any romantic notion, she instead sticks to her first, reasoning. That would tell her why Will’s face has lit into a fond admiration. But it does not explain why the man’s hands slid from behind into Will’s jacket pockets, joining his. The air is fresher, a bit crispy, yes, but there is no need for this.

And she is fully aware of going wholly rigid and awkward in her partner’s embrace, while Will leans back, languid, and vividly content within …  his  man’s arms.

Oh boy, she has finally acknowledged his status.

However, Bruce doesn’t give her more than a few seconds to settle the choking sensation around her heart. Oblivious to the whole situation, he is ready to take a nightlight picture of the Basilica with his new expensive camera, with an even more expensive lens. Of course, he wants her in the shot.

She lets herself be arranged into a fitting pose, like a puppet, striving to smile amicably in front of him. When they are done, she twists around only to realise that the couple occupying her mind had faded away into the darkness. As if they sensed her unwelcome presence. 

Hannibal appeared to be enthralled by the bells’ high-energy reverberating sound, even more so by the perfect acoustic within the basilica walls. She has no doubt if she wanted to see them again – the seemingly innocuous couple in love - she would find them in Sagrada Familia. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, they would be listening to some weeping melody of an opera.

Next time, she may take advantage of Bruce’s expensive camera, chirped her mind. At present, she wasn’t much concerned with how deceiving and dangerous it might be to prove to the world their whereabouts. 

Chapter Text

She enjoys one of the city's most prominent sights from the confines of their hotel room. It is a perk her partner won for her - the room with a view of La Pedrera roof.

Staying in the same residential square of buildings, across the Gaudies' sinuous creation, she observes slim black silhouettes of tourists roaming between the mind-boggling shapes. They took the last chance of the day to admire the famous architecture, designed miraculously without one straight line. Towering against the sunset painted sky, the alien warrior-like terracotta chimineas bask in their cameras' attention. 

From the corner of her eye, she spots a flying shirt. Like a white dove, it smoothly twirls in the air a few times then lands weightlessly in a graceless heap on the top of a stone terrace floor.

What caught her attention first, were little blinding specks coming from the east-side building of their courtyard. The fire reflections of the evening sun; they died the moment snow-white fabric hit the ground.

Her lips stretched into an amused smile. They must be shiny, extravagant buttons after all, belonging to some equally extravagant inhabitant from those vast floor-through flats on her left.

A single bark resonates around the square yard, and she tilts her head up toward the sound, curious, hoping to have a glimpse of the city's inner life. A small, long-haired Papillon sprints out and tries to stick her tiny head between iron-wrought posts, eyeing the same object of interest as the man following the dog.

This last week, she wondered who might live in these flamboyant modernist apartments, tasteful rooms behind the ceiling-tall windows, the stylish balconies with rich ornamental balustrades. She imagined intellectuals of all kinds – writers, professors, lawyers, and amongst them, esteemed architects…  and fickle politicians perhaps, even… 

…even prolific serial killers. She gasps at the unthinkable possibility of having encountered the man for the third time. 

Her eyes swing to Hannibal's face, who casts a longing, mournful stare to the rumpled shirt. It tipped within seconds into frustrated disbelief. The expression was almost comical, and she would feel sympathetic if it wasn't him, a malicious instigator, who concocted the attempt for her murder and stole her husband. Even though the... stealing aspect has been in question, respective to the individual point of view, and definitely not in her favour according to public opinion on Tattle Crime. 

Yes, she has done her homework this time. She summoned her courage and delved into the diabolic archives of Freddie Lounds, to start her research with the obnoxious journalist's help, undeniably funded with acumen for their story. Molly must give her credit for the foresight.

Like with a swish of magic wand administered by Hannibal Lecter, her bitterness is back (she is furiously aware of his power to bring the worst feelings out of her, and with that … tempting bravery, foolishness… But she lost her opportunity, mulling over appalling and futile things because Hannibal, meanwhile, had ushered the dog inside and rushed to close all the open windows and balcony doors. Strange.

Now, it is her turn to give a longing and unhappy look - at her cell, considering the utter impossibility of her intent with its lenses broken and camera gone for good. 

She narrows her eyes through the large glass encasements. The dusk still hasn't blanketed the outer world around, yet their rooms are already alight; maybe, hypothetically, she would be able to snap a picture of him inside with Bruce's professional camera.

Her focus is on his static figure as Hannibal lingers somewhat lost in the middle of the living room, seemingly wedged in some unsolvable internal dilemma. He is still fixed to the spot when Will appears in the doorway. He is towelling his hair, while promptly tripping over the Papillon and catching himself against the frame as he tries to enter, and she forgets about taking pictures all at once. She rather throws aside the whole bold idea. She won't flaunt her half-naked ex, in clingy ink-blue pyjama pants that barely held to his hips, in front of the FBI or Interpol.

Like her, Will seems to be genuinely amused at the aloof and poised man's uncertain, nervy state, although his momentary incomprehension is laced by surprise after Hannibal answered his question. That much she can decipher, more from their postures than from their countenance, over the half span of a large courtyard. 

Without a second thought, she slips on her spectacles because, just now, she has witnessed something she believes nobody has ever survived - Hannibal Lecter being reprimanded. Scolded even, and instead of fighting back, he meekly yields; his shoulders hunch anxiously, his head slightly bent. She smirks to herself; there is no doubt who between them holds the reins. 

But, an awkward sense of foreboding brews inside her, as Will continues his quest for a motive behind his man's response, with more and more frowning. His face is so animated, a whole kaleidoscope of emotions. He goes from rather fascinated, stealing disbelieving glances at their dog, that eagerly championed Hannibal, to timidly joking when he questions him, to growing alert. They walk to the window where, puzzled and on the verge of missing something, he stares dubiously down, at the object incriminated, while Hannibal stares beside him. Then, after a moment of speculation, comprehension alights Will's face.

It was like watching a silent mystery film. If only she had subtitles to it. 

If only she knew what Will is shouting when he retreats past the dining table in a frenzy and stops at a sideboard, tense and breathless, where there is nowhere further to run.

Why is he so mad? Because of his fancy shirt? A silly accident?

 She considers the possibility of it being a wedding shirt, but he never seemed too invested in ceremonial outfits; any clean shirt and jeans would be sufficient. In this respect, she doesn't know him, and it's unsettling her, this version of Will in an unbridled anger and bitter disbelief, as opposed to the man she once had met; disarmingly awkward, forlorn and in need of touch ( not hers though , said a disturbing voice). If only she'd known at that time. 

Hannibal follows but stops short, reflected in the wall-full mirror above the sideboard. He gazes straight at Will, absorbs the accusations while Will fires another question, his hand flicking toward the dog. His cool excuses and explanations aren’t apparently convincing enough, so he implores armistice instead. Abandoning his composure, he shifts to the edge of urgent, even desperate, but this does not help because...  in a heartbeat, a flammable situation hanging in the air combusts.

It is a million light-years away from the easy, mellow friendship and loving atmosphere in that restaurant, only the depth of feelings exposed remains. And it coalesces into dread - Hannibal tries to advance, takes a step towards Will, but Will staggers back, anguished, almost panicked.

At the sight of his tortured, haunted face, the old caring flame she still held for her once vulnerable, damaged man swells inside her, and she reaches for her cell. 

Somewhere under the extensive list of her friends and essential people, useful people and those unpleasant-must-haves, on the bottom of all contacts, is ‘Jack Crawford’. 

But looking back up again seconds later, she is unsure who to save, because Hannibal seems the same as Will - shattered.  

As if bereft of all hope, his exquisite poised expression in the mirror crumpled down like the exquisite shirt on the stones. His lips clamp into a painfully tense line… Is he going to cry? Or is this just an effect of his velvety dark eyes?

No, this cannot be about the garment piece, and she is afraid to venture further into obscure, wild assumptions - where her imagination is not adequate. She doesn’t indulge in menacing games. 

Her thumb stops, fingers waver and loosen their grip on the phone, and she continues to watch them, captivated as Hannibal pleads without words to Will.  

In an atmosphere volatile and thrumming with energy, ready to ignite again, she did not expect their next movements. Their hands reached for each other before even their feet moved, and she jumped, panicked, half-expecting violence when they met halfway across the room…  into a crushing hug.

Hannibal holds Will like he is the most precious thing in the world. After a brief moment,  Will stirs to reciprocate. He lifts his arms and mimics Hannibal’s clutch across his shoulders, even cradles the back of his head. She searches for flickers of expressions across Hannibal’s face as he speaks into Will’s ear, but it does not seem that he’s trying to placate him. His profound fearlessness is absent; he looks hunted, not the hunter. Yet it is Will who seeks comfort on Hannibal’s shoulder. Despite the little visual differences in their heights and muscular builds, Will fits perfectly against his man, with a familiarity of an ever welcomed and protected child (How many levels does their relationship have?) 

She feels disoriented.  She has misjudged the entire situation. She has thought about calling Jack twice, and twice she stopped. What was she doing here? 

Will exudes contentment, more than resignation; his whole body is receptive to Hannibal’s. They linger entwined in each others’ hold, and she reflects on how overwhelmed and safe Hannibal makes Will feel at the same time.

Their emotions synchronize;  the reins swap hands between them, and who holds them at the moment, holds them well. 

There is nothing possessive about the embrace; they are just sharing devotion and closeness. Hannibal ducks his face to lightly skim his lips against the top of Will’s curls. His mouth might have been moving, murmuring soothing words into them.

There is nothing overly romantic, nor aesthetic about the scene either;  both of them are dishevelled, half-dressed, and with the dog roaming around their bare feet, they are a long stretch from groomed eye candies in the restaurant. Having the two in a full view through the balcony doors…  she cannot tear her eyes from them. Their stance is deeply familiar.

Eventually, Will comes to charge, and places a hand on either side of Hannibal’s sculpted face, subjugates him under the weight of his reproaching gaze, and the picture in her head shatters.

They talk, more like the two sane people would. They even banter, and Hannibal delivers his final defendant speech,  which Will answers by dragging down his unresisting head and aligning their mouths. She frantically looks for a spot to refocus on when the matter becomes whose tongue ends up in whose mouth first.

To no avail.

As they part briefly with lips from afar like crimson blotches, scratched raw and swollen, and the word spelled in blasting red over Will's face is love, a genuine relief breaks across the serial killer's face. He curls a hand into Will's wet strands and draws him in for another round. 

At the sight, a delayed embarrassment flashes up and down Molly's body, and she quickly lowers her eyes to their feet.

They manoeuvre together, without breaking apart, towards the back of the room. There, Hannibal reaches for a light switch and the darkness engulfs them, leaving her with the image of their feet tipping in sync toward the wall. 

Her brain continues to fidget with the image, with the words tipping and hovering. She recalls the FBI forensic report from the ocean-side house. She remembers the aerial picture of the crime scene: blood, blood, blood everywhere. And footprints. In ashes, in the dirt, in sand… Each paragraph punctuated by a detailed image of their footwork on the ground.  

Based on the evidence, the report said, the men struggled against each other, fighting, until Will wrestled Hannibal off the cliff and himself was dragged down. Their last set of footprints - against each other with their toes almost touching, were on one side wedged deeper into the sand... when they tipped over…

...alike a moment ago in their living room. Will and Hannibal in a familial hug, for affection's sake. One of a hundred times. 

Consumed by an agitation, she mentally rushes back on the cliff's edge, with her new-found realization to re-enact events of that night.

With both men gore-stained and battered in the comfort of each other's arms, there was a little force needed to tip them over the edge, maybe no force at all,… just Hannibal's consent. And... down they went into the expanse of deadly black water. In the hope of what? 

Weakness overtook her body, and she felt a sudden, inexplicable pain within her chest.  Her hand shoots frantically against the window frame for support.

They didn't mean to survive; they just wanted to be together, to spend eternity together.  Precisely, in that instant, at the cliff's edge, they didn't want to live one without another. But fate decided otherwise.

No, she shakes her head at the thought - at herself - she cannot possibly be sympathetic towards them; she is simply overwhelmed.

A small frown forms between her eyebrows as she regards her phone again. Something new is growing inside her, not outright defiance, but close enough, and righteous anger, revising - rethinking who actually she is about to call. To report.

Jack, disgraced and suspended boss of the Behavioural Science. Jack, who withheld the information from her and fed her a sanitised and twisted version instead. Who either branded her as weak and in need of emotional protection or simply manipulated her feelings, steered them the direction where his sole prerogative was catching Hannibal and catching Will. 

On her account, she would help him back to his chair at the FBI, only for Will to take it all away again, because - and Molly knows, she just gathered that much today - Will cannot let go; he won't. Hannibal is his to love, to hate, to kill, to let live or punish. They own each other. 

They don't fear death - even the mighty ocean didn't take them. Is she mightier than that? 

The door from the bathroom squeaks open, and a waft of humidity, scented with Bruce's aftershave, reminds her of reality. 

"Honey, are you ready? We can go."

Molly blinked. She'd almost forgotten;  they have a table booked at a beach-side restaurant for their last dinner, their romantic goodbye to Barcelona.

He is pulling on a crispy-new shirt, white, nothing fancy, no shiny buttons to stand out, and it suits him. 

When he notices her scrutiny, he winks at her, wiggles like a peacock, and sends her a carefree grin; all cheek and charm, playfully teasing aiming for more attractive. His sassiness has the right effect on her and prompts her to laugh out loud. He does that a lot; make her laugh. 

In fact, she is ready; she clicks the home button at the bottom of Jack's contact screen and turns off her cell.

"Let's go." 

****

"Excuse me! Madam!"  

The receptionist calls out the moment Molly passes by. She is the kind, auburn-haired girl they bought a box of chocolate for the other day.

Celia, says the tag attached to her elegant black and white blouse, is all apologetic smiles, "You are Ms. Foster, right?"

"Yes…?" she nods slowly.

"We have a package for you, I apologize we didn't give it to you when it arrived because your name on its packing slip was wrong. But I remember you, switching the rooms," the girl, beams at her, "and you are the only Molly with the American home address in the hotel, so I guessed it would be yours."

Her first reaction is to glance quizzically at Bruce, suspecting a romantic surprise (God forbid another ring!), but he shakes his head while the girl continues to vigorously explain. 

"See-" Celia pulls a little book-size parcel at the top of the glassy counter, "-it says, Molly F. Graham."

The shock is so profound that she is seized by sudden disorientation. She briefly closes her eyes to focus, when she staggers against the reception.  

"When…when did it arrive?" She forces out, fighting to maintain control of herself. To speak is such a chore, as if a vile spell had constricted her throat.

"Yesterday morning-" the girl pauses startled by the change in her, but she doesn't understand, a poor thing... Molly's sudden anguish. 

They know!

It's pointless to waste time denying or disputing, even if she has no clear idea of how it could have happened—the consequence of her foolish intentions.

"I wasn't expecting anything," she offers, trying to soften the situation under the weight of their confused looks. Even Bruce had flinched at her reproachful tone. 

"Please sign here," Celia is giving her a pen now, somewhat unsure, careful, pointing at the customer sign off form, "I'm truly sorry, the name misled us-"

"How did he look?" she interrupted.

"Who? The delivery boy?" 

Of course, it would have been sent by a courier, none of them would deliver it personally—such a naive assumption. 

In a daze of nervous expectation, she hastily takes the package to the lobby couch and takes to disassembling the wrapping with an anxious urge, like a hapless little girl who needs to find out what the devil hid inside it. It could be anything - a reminder, a threat, or the announcement of the end to their delicate treaty- 

Her hands are shaking. Layer after layer, plastic, paper, a little cardboard box …

It's a new phone —the latest model of her broken one.

She releases a long shuddering breath and continues frantically tearing at the wrapping, taking apart every piece of the bundle, only to find nothing. There is no note, no signature, no evidence that would answer the nagging question of who has sent her the warning.

Which one of them?

 

Chapter Text

When Will steps into the room, he doesn't expect to trip over an extremely excited Papillon. All perky ears and wiggly tail, she is trailing back and forth between him and Hannibal. His usually stoic partner stands in the middle of disarray as if rooted to the spot, with Will's new dress suit crumpled on the floor. His expression reminds Will of a little boy who was caught with his hands in a cookie jar.

Eventually, Papillon settles at Hannibal's feet, her head high, proud of herself and very fond of Hannibal. He, however, gives her both a concerned and murderous look. It seems almost amusing, and Will is a little thrown by the dissonant atmosphere. The mental images of what could transpire here during his absence ran through in his mind, only Hannibal's expression does not add up.

He turns to them, spreads his arms with a quizzical smile, "Well…, what has brought this around? Playing wild?"

"She has ruined your shirt for the evening."

"Ah."

****

Thirty minutes ago.  

With care, Hannibal liberated the contents of the delivered garment bag. The suit was…sufficient for the occasion, not fancy enough for Will to complain about Hannibal stuffing him in rakish clothes as if Will was his personal, overgrown doll. Today was an excellent opportunity to acquire a new shirt for Will as his boy, thanks to their old-fashioned domestic lifestyle, slightly overfilled his old ones. Hannibal smirks with pride.

They purchased the apparel this morning and had it dry cleaned in the afternoon, just before a concertino by the chamber orchestra of the Palau de la Música Catalana. 

With an expert look and pleased smile, he regards the three-piece suit: nothing in fashionista style indeed - a semi-matte graphite grey, cotton, including a waistcoat, a sister shade of Will’s eyes and the perk of this set; a white oxford adorned with the smooth, rock crystal and platinum buttons. The same style cufflinks were enclosed as a bonus.

It takes a bit of intricate maneuvering to extract the shirt from the jacket and not wrinkle the crisp fabric. He wants to see it properly, the shimmer of the crystals. He goes to a large open window where transparent curtains are pulled aside, fluttering in the warm September breeze. The visibility here is the best, in the last rays of natural light.

He extended his arm, leant back, and held the shirt against the evening sun. He worked the buttons free, and shook it, straightening the creases for Will to have it ready when he comes to get dressed, prim, and damp and soft from the shower. But honestly, he wants to admire how the crystal studs glimmer while flowing in waves through the light suffused air. Vain.

That was the last moment he indulged the sight, and when the solid hold on his self-control sublimed into nothingness. An inferno incarnate in a black mop of fur sprinted out from the kitchen door. He did not give her much heed first, but when he waved the shirt once more, it was as if giving her a “catch“ command. She was fast to react, jumped high above the ground, spine curving, her jaws ajar, and then they clamped.

She must have considered it enormous fun to dangle from this flailing thing. The fabric was quickly pierced by her little canines, and she tried to tear out a bigger chunk of it. It did not matter how hard Hannibal wanted to shake her off after his initial mortification had passed, she adjusted to the game. Her body swung and hopped, and her head wrung like a bell. She refused to let go of the shirt.

And then, with the opportunity, a thought came that turned briskly into the action. A familiar thrill passed over Hannibal; it was cold, calculated, habitual. Riddance with one quick flick of his wrist, and she would be gone.

She had let go with the sudden jolt, and the shirt went hurtled out of the window without its four-legged attachment. She seemed so happy about it, so proud of herself, while he dubiously eyed the flying piece of the precious garment.

Hopping around his feet, running around the table, between armchairs and toward the balcony, she coaxed him to see where her new expensive toy went. Perhaps wanting him to pick it up and do the whole funny exercise again.

They both ran to the balcony, looked through and over the railing, knocking the rest of the suit to the floor along the way. There, bending over the rail, from the height of five meters above solid paved ground, Hannibal’s brain finally registered what he had almost done. 

On an irrational impulse, he shut the balcony doors and the window to effectively cut her from falling out. A dog is not a cat, not gifted with the nine mythical lives.

When Will appears in the room doorway with a shocked “oh”, Hannibal finds it difficult to move, finds it difficult to speak. His breathing has slowed, but his emotions are still tumultuous. 

There is a thin line between the feeling of completeness with Will by his side and the haunting loneliness without his love, and he realizes how hopelessly close he had been to overstepping that mark.

Stripped bare of all defences, as he heard a vague anxiety coil inside Will’s exclamation like the dog spinning around his feet (for all he knows, they should have named her Penny Dreadful and not Soph),  Hannibal sees only one way out of this situation. The truth. 

He braced himself, grasping for words. But Will is the first to speak.

“I told you to be stricter with her. It pays off.”

“I was.” Hannibal’s eyes slip toward the window.

Will frowns and glances between the window and the two of them. He has also caught a subtle cutting note in Hannibal's answer that doesn't match the disaster Soph has caused; which prompts him to ask,

"How s-, how much stricter?" 

"Inappropriately, one could say," Hannibal drawls, and Will tilts his head that endearing way, contemplating, unconsciously mimicking Hannibal's habitual pose. 

"Inappropriate by general standards, or by yours? Given that she was rude..." Will muses aloud half-joking, half uptight, and then... 

Hannibal feels scrutinized, though Will is looking mostly at Soph whirling around him, running over his feet, playfully nuzzling her head and ears against his ankles. His dress pants are covered in dog hair up to his knees, but he does not budge and holds himself carefully back.

They are giving Will mixed signals. It's hard to judge when Soph seems outright being besotted by the man, who just radiates waves of distress.

"Where is the shirt?" Will finally asks. Hannibal's heart sinks low as his look points outside through the casements, now safely locked.

Soph, as if she understood, springs first towards the window with them both in tow. They look down mute, at a single shredded tail of the massacred shirt, evidence of his misconduct. Will must be assessing the force, the weight, the speed that caused the damage, calculating the acceleration and trajectory the object must have taken to reach its destination on the courtyard's stylish masonry. Then he gives one last look at the Papillon at their feet, and Hannibal from behind his shoulder can sense the exact moment when suspicion turns to knowledge. 

Will stilled, his shallow breathing raced up, before he leaps away from the window and into the room, perhaps as far as he can get away from Hannibal. A sharp turn and Hannibal is confronted with a display of pain and panic in his beloved's face, confident that it reflects the expression on his own, though for the reasons that can't be more different, still conjoined by one common word. 

It is the end .

Into his mental turmoil, their persistent dog is pulling his pant leg, pulling him somewhere out to continue what she has perceived as an innocent game and what Will, infallible in his perception of the crime scene, sees as deadly riddance.

Soph stops, startled when the sharp accusation pierces the chilled air between them.

"She's still young and is just acting on her instincts! While you..."

"...while I'm old, senseless, and I was not." Hannibal finishes smoothly, monotone, each word precise in the way of speech when he wants to deliver something important to Will. Despite his effort to sound calm, his whole façade is crumbling down under the weight of desperation, settled heavily in his stomach. He almost feels nauseous.

 "What are you saying?" 

He is reeling toward resentment but is not wholly unapproachable. 

"That I'm highly unpredictable, irrational, and, to general society's standards, lacking common sense, and you… , have every right to be angry with me." 

A fitting characterization for them both. Will's utters a deep, unsteady laugh as the only response, because he is breaking too, though not angry yet, derailed by this alien, frank part of Hannibal's and the fierce dog in a stance, ready to defend him.

The voices, the appearances, and emotions visible are clashing with the reality Hannibal has not even denied. That in nature, he is a cruel methodical killer, who just decided to act on his urges again. The killer Will had long accepted. His.

But the term methodical, here, doesn't fit. And Will's preconceived dimensions of right and wrong blur. 

Even with the bizarre way of Hannibal thinking, Will must have realized that this was a slip. An accident. For Hannibal himself, a cardinal lapse of self-control, almost resulting in a cardinal sin of Will's. He touched what was sacred.  

Hannibal feels betrayed by his own refined faculties of a hunter (perhaps neglected for too long), aware, and afraid as well that thanks to a low, inexcusable impulse, he might push Will's limits of acceptance over the cliff again. 

Hannibal wants to take it all away, the devastating hurt, not of deceit, but of a wasted illusion Will had let himself temporarily fall in. Will has not seen him cut loose since they decided to keep a low profile, and it claws on him, scratches him raw. It feels like he is dealing Will another wound.  And he wants to bring him back together, take back what he has done, but he can't… so at least, he desperately wants to comfort him.

He steps forward as Will steps back.

An echo of past losses reverberates through Hannibal.  Fear and loss; two phenomena he never experienced as interconnected until they became associated with Will.

"Will. I am sorry...I don't know how else to approach my misstep." His voice finally broke, his eyes teared up. He needs Will to help him dispel this unbearable distress. Wanting Will to need him doing the same.

They both move at once.

Will feels suspended like a doll in his crushing embrace, loose; his arms dangling by his sides, his chin on Hannibal's shoulder, taking in all Hannibal's emotions, probably trying to sort them out. Seeking release through the other's aid, he finally puts his hands at Hannibal's back, mimicking the hug and asks,

"Where has this come from?"  

Hannibal tightens his hold, securing Will's labouring chest to his own.  When he finally answers, his voice is but a soft murmur next to Will's head. 

"A fear. The time we entangled ourselves in a net of lies and pretending, I ended up alone in a glass cell, but you… you tried to kill yourself. He releases his love, leans back to look him straight into the eyes, wants to give his words the proper weight. "Will, I can't…I can't…"  

Banned from usual ornate language, he learnt, over the years, how to twist his speech to communicate the depth of his thoughts and love to Will, but, for all his resolve and practice, he cannot finish the sentence. It's not even necessary, as Will also learnt -  to read Hannibal.  

The muscles under his arms relax as Will settles into the familiar embrace. An ideal way to soothe his distress. Something that has grown as a habit over the years, even when the source of comfort is also the source of his stress. His head lies peacefully on Hannibal's shoulder, his eyes mellow and seeking nothing. Still, his question holds a reproach, and Hannibal can smell bitterness rising from his pores when he accepts the apology and is contemptuous toward himself because of his weakness in the wake of mental exhaustion.  

"What would you do the next time?"

"My inner motives shall act as brakes on my…questionable desires," Hannibal states, shaky, albeit determined.

"...inner motives?" repeats Will, gives it his typical cynical bite from years ago, but it sounds weak.

"You. All of them."

Of course he knew; he just needed confirmation. Will lets out an affirmative hum and doesn't move otherwise, feeling comfortable leaning against Hannibal, who doesn't mind the dampness from Will's hair soaking his new crispy shirt for the night, nor does he heed his tone.

"Without any exaggeration, from the moment we met, I have never been in charge, Will." He speaks into the flyway curls now. "Have I? Ever?"

Not entirely , Hannibal thinks in his defence when Will pulls away. Will cups his face in his palms, and something else sparkles in his eyes other than wariness and detached curiosity. "What am I going to do with you?"

Hannibal holds his gaze, reaching out sincerely. "I only wish for what you've been doing... and feeling in the past five years. Even if it meant your ultimate vulnerability, your drive to love cloaked in ignorance and fear, yet it was never destroyed by betrayal of your ungrateful lover. I'll return the sentiment."

Strangely enough, Hannibal has always done the same. Will chokes out laugh rife with the broken affection. 

"How can you say such things? Hell, any of what you said today?"

"I thought it was obvious; it's fear." Hannibal states, his look solemn, "Besides, I remember what you once said ' do not lie to me, Dr. Lecter.' "  

"And you've just decided, just like that," Will said, scoffing in disbelief, "to follow what I've asked you for?" 

Hannibal shook his head, "Not just now and not just like that, I have said my reasoning twice already, you don't seem to be paying attention, Will."

"Hannibal-" Will starts mutinous and increasingly impatient, then stops himself, and after a short pause, he twists his tone into the serious, craving an enhanced answer. Reassurance perhaps. 

" As a therapist, shouldn't you be speaking sweet nothing to me in a situation like this?"

"You mean, as an ungrateful lover?"

"You want a pillow talk now? 

Against his best intentions, amusement is unmistakably slipping into Hannibal's concerned voice. The exasperation in Will erupts.

"I, I don't know what I want at all!"

Hannibal covers Will's fingers with his. "In this regard, I can assure you, I'm quite clear." 

Given Will's crackling reactions, he dares to hope that Will has made up his mind about what to do with him on an emotional level. On a moral one, he is waging war alongside all the righteous principles he should follow as a rational and reasonable course. Yet, he has never won on this front whenever Hannibal has been involved. It's impossible not to falter after five years spent together, and also impossible to think that Hannibal would come out of the battle intact.

They lapse into silence for a moment.

"Ah," comes without a streak of anxiety now. At last, the war between despair and hope is yielding, Will's fine-boned features are becoming suffused with the warmth of tenacious acceptance again. Will, has chosen the correct meaning from Hannibal's equivocal answer: them .

It's his turn to draw Hannibal down, into a crushing hug and clumsy smash of mouths, to share the maelstrom of emotions only actions can convey.

A rhapsody of anger, surrender, rebellion, and, most important, love.

The overwhelming relief, like the peaceful trickle of a forest stream, surges through Hannibal at the exact moment their lips meet. They kiss until the urgency to reconnect the broken link of their relationship subsidies, and their breaths calm, and then some more, until their heartbeats quicken again, and the incoherent gasps escape Will's mouth, making everything else fade into insignificance.

Hannibal reaches out toward the wall, palming it blindly, and, when he finds the switch, the lights go out, leaving them hidden from the onlookers, behind the reflection of the gold and orange sun on the window glass.  

****

A sudden rush disturbs the stillness of twilight. Clicks of metal blend with hisses of leather and a soft rustle of fabrics hastily discarded. 

"I want you to take me inside." Will's voice is a soft mutter between kisses; his arm already stretches out towards a cruet set sitting on the sideboard, but to his misfortune,  he knocks it to the floor. 

After the week of chasing around Barcelona's marvels, art, architecture, dining, and culture, only to drop half-dead into their bed afterwards, who could blame him for such a primal, impulsive reaction to stress?

He pushes at Hannibal's shoulders when they slide down along the wall to kneel. Hannibal's legs spread like eagle wings over his thighs, the space between them open and inviting, for Will's wandering hands. Without anything at hand to ease the way, Will decides to improvise, tears his lips from Hannibal's, inserts the two of his fingers in between and sucks. It is unconscious, nothing obscene, yet Hannibal's arousal flutters to life, no doubt, aching too to be claimed with Will's dewy mouth. The glint in his eyes soars uncontrolled, visible even with the absence of light. 

Will feels powerful, giving and taking what he wants from his lover. He curls his hand into a loose loop around Hannibal, like velvet over hardening steel, and gives his cock a lone stroke, from root to tip, then back down, feather-like stimulation Hannibal likes. Hannibal's head sinks to his shoulder in surrender, face burrowing, his staggering hot breath smothered against the side of Will's neck. With a satisfied sigh Will swivels his head back to accommodate him, loses himself in this, by pleasure triggered subconscious closeness between them. With a surge of desire, even his untamed feline wants to cling.

Nuzzling into silvery hair, he trails kisses down from the crown of Hannibal's head, as he seeks to dip between those lips again, as he enters Hannibal with a single digit. Smooth and slow, Will crooks it inside teasing, and turns intrusion into delight. When he adds in a second, his lion curls to him with an intensity bordering on pain, and Will absorbs the fine tremors of his agile frame, his musky scent, the fresh smell of his crispy button-down. The right combination that sends rampant signals of want straight in between his thighs.

He likes Hannibal half-dressed when they make love. Clad in white, bare, just a shirt, front and cuffs unbuttoned, loose and haphazard on him. He looks more innocent, more vulnerable to claim—a proverbial fallen angel. With rapture Will delves under the shirttails, cups his waist over the heated skin while he tugs his lover atop of himself to sit astride his hips.

He likes to admire the dichotomy of his nude body with touch rather than with sight. His palms journey over Hannibal. He's lithe and graceful, like a dancer, and yet strong and wiry, perfectly muscled, like a hunter.

Will’s apprising fingers slide up his toned chest, then down the strong back; soft and languid, they sweep over the mounds of his ass, feel over the flanks of his tights. Hannibal holds still with closed eyes, for Will to take his fill, savouring each possessive touch. Only when Will urges him, by the mere pressure of fingers, does he guide himself onto the moist, leaking head of Will’s shaft, using his thumb to spread the fluid that pools atop his slit.

The expectant tension in Will escalates to an intoxicating feeling, the overwhelming tightness and heat. Hannibal’s tapered fingers stroke up and down the rest of his length, coaxing him into the solid hardness while adjusting to the growing fullness inside. 

Will is more breathless than Hannibal, who takes air in and out in ample gulps, as if banishing the flinders of pain from his mind, allowing in only the nips of pleasure. Trying to help, Will stretches out and reaches under the sideboard to retrieve the lost vial, then resumes his caresses over Hannibal’s loins and legs, the long strokes through the dust of fine hair, through the fine sheen of cooling sweat, while the oil makes them shiny, silky and wonderful way slippery.  

“Good?” He prompts Hannibal, because, above all, he likes his husky, sex-strained voice. 

“Move.”

Oh, and Will does. He clamps his fingers to Hannibal’s thighs, rolls his hips up while Hannibal pushes down, takes more of him, and Will sheathes himself to the hilt. Too enthusiastically. Too fast. 

The two long-drawn sighs pierce the room, Hannibal’s close to a hiss.  Will momentarily halts, reprimands himself and reaches up in need to comfort his lover. He combs long strands from the amber eyes aside, looking for tell-tell signs of pain. None. They are well concealed.

“Is this a punishment, Will?” Hannibal starts deceptively casual, presses his cheek into Will’s palm.

“Punish you with sex? Impossible.” He gives a toothy grin and an experimental nudge up, that this time, to his relief evokes a breathy gasp.

His ability to produce contradictory feelings resurfaces in most unforeseen moments, so it’s no surprise that, despite being protective, Will also feels a bit vindictive. He told the truth; any desire to hurt or reject Hannibal melted away when faced with Hannibal’s unusual distress, and their pup’s happy infatuation with his ‘ungrateful lover’. No real harm was done… but deep inside, he is angry yet. Which is pointless, soon to be defeated and buried under the layers and layers of warm-hearted sentiment, and desire greater than his free will. And that is just as fine. 

“It’s for me to calm my nerves.”

"Inconsiderate to my knees," Hannibal objects half-heartedly, attentive to the writhing of Will's balls skin-tight against his buttocks more than to the hard parqueted floor under them.  

"Alike to my back." Will wiggles, and Hannibal swallows hard.

"To her." At last, Hannibal flicks his eyes toward the corner of the room. 

Will cranes his neck for a better view. There she is, the real concern behind the confrontation, curled into a mini ball of fur. Eyeing them, blinking lazily, already falling asleep. Their volatile, clever imp that remarkably deconstructed Hannibal's vices and wreaked havoc on his conscience, undeterred by nobody and nothing except Will, until now. Unforgivable.

He bestows her an appraising smile. "She's seen worse."

Will turns to a view of Hannibal's lush mouth, assembled in such a defiant pout that his own tongue darts out to flick hot at his upper lip with a sudden urge to invade them, and he curves his hand around Hannibal's nape, then tugs. His man does not yield.

Well, as it seems, a further conversation cannot be avoided even with Will's dick throbbing and agonisingly hard, buried deep in him. 

Soft, broken, and vulnerable, the manipulation from their early years together, won't work on Hannibal anymore. So, Will opts for different means to readdress the matter and trigger more genuine reactions from his partner. Wants to confirm where he stands with his cautious thrust, although he has already forgiven him. 

" Trying this one, isn't she? I am amazed you haven't killed her yet; I mean that in a purely theoretical sense."

"Will... do not tempt me." Hannibal's hands land on both sides of his head, stilling their distractive movements. But that is just a bluff. Their bodies are well attuned to the pleasures of escalating tension between them. Hannibal contracts around Will, a blissfully impulsive grip, while the swollen head of his cock ghost over Will's stomach. The sensation was an oncoming inferno, like during their old macabre game, and Will cannot resist probing more. 

He clasps his hands over the slender wrists and starts to massage Hannibal's forearms, up and down at a lazy pace, rucking up the sleeves along with the movements. Hannibal's smooth skin breaks into goosebumps. Undoubtedly, he smirks to himself, because he does the same to Hannibal's ass with his cock, harder now than before his verbal jab.

"The last time she snatched the first bite from your "Beef in Ashes," and ruined your romantic dinner," he continues, a little breathless around the words, provoking Hannibal with a heavy-lidded gaze, "and today, she chewed  my shirt and ruined your concertino night."

Hannibal's eyes gained that darkly aroused glint, and Will could feel his muscles rippling softly inside.

Beautiful.

A feral lion lurks from behind his mild features when in rising fury, he dips his head and lets his thick accent take over the calculated words.

“I see you are back to yourself, with a healthy penchant for exploring my limits.  Surely, it brings you a certain satisfaction. One would say you’re training my self-control on her.”

“Am I?” Will counters back, in the replica of an answer dangerously close to the memories of the fatal night a decade ago in Baltimore.

The dangerous surge in the amber slits instantly retreats. Their bodies come to a standstill. Hannibal clamps his mouth tight, his throat working hard when he looks absently away from Will, as if listening to advice from some ethereal being Will could not see. He then regards Will, misty-eyed from under the eyelashes, mulling over the words in his mind.

“Will.” A warm fresh breath washes over Will’s senses as he exhales with regret.

“If I could protect you from myself, I would. But I find I cannot. I am too selfish and will not bear being parted from you. More now than ever. I only ask... we both try harder.”

The calm aura of his softened countenance, the submission, and his constant transformation are intoxicating, and Will feels a warm tug at his heart that manifests itself in a wide happy smile.

“I find myself lately selfish too. And benevolent, whenever it comes to you.”

He reaches up to sharp curved cheeks and stares into Hannibal’s face, open and vulnerable for him again. 

It’s a heady feeling.

“I want you so much,” he can hear his own uneven voice. He meant it in every sense and doesn’t care that it comes out sounding a little desperate. Exposing. Needy. 

He lived his whole adulthood in denial, and self-reprimand, and the five years of happiness; Hannibal metabolising their new life terms,  commanded mostly by Will, is a pivotal clause. He wants to make them sustainable as long as he can, as he was asked, by loving him.

The striving is mutual.

Will has forgiven him already, accepted, and was right to. For Hannibal embodies the best and the worst in his world, and he has learned long ago that even if he knows how to smooth the ragged edges of the latter still, he cannot have one without another.

Suddenly, he wants to feel too much of him in too short a time. He shifts his hold on Hannibal and pulls him down with urgency to claim his mouth. In a prequel to his long-wished kiss, he feels Hannibal’s lips curve against his in a self-assured smile. He does not mind; it does not come with serious hurt this time. A little scratch, a lingering ache, yes, they cannot be avoided even only by a thickness of hair. He has forgiven but will remember, and Hannibal is not unaware.

Then Hannibal nips at his lips, little sucking kisses, prays them open, and when he delves in, his moist tongue feels hot and cold at once… oh, and Will cannot take it anymore. A raw desire, like a rising fire, spreads through his body, from the rapidly escalating duel in his mouth.  A hungry frustrated sound, from him or Hannibal, he isn’t sure, actuates their bodies into their own choreography of making love.

Will’s fingers slip from the tangled strands on the back of Hannibal’s neck to latch hard onto his forearms while he rises through the whole pulsing length of Will’s shaft. There is a fitting angle and squeeze, and Will reciprocates, withdrawing almost to the tip. When Hannibal sinks and Will slams back, he feels Hannibal everywhere at once, the sizzling graze over every cell of his swollen flesh.

“Oh, god, like that.” Will breathes out command or plea, and muffled “yes” rasps against his chest when Hannibal curves his back again and obeys. Will bucks as Hannibal slides down.

An excruciatingly slow and targeted pleasure Hannibal sets. Will won’t hold for long, his lover knows, barely allowing him time to breathe, with his every flex of hips, hot gasps and searing mouth pressed to the hollow of Will’s neck. Will imagines how the agonising frisson in Hannibal would feel inside his own ass, and he hears himself let out a moan like an adept, well-paid whore.

Hannibal’s muscles around him convulse wildly; only a sharp frantic scrape of teeth over his shoulder tips him back from tumbling off the peak. He is rocking up, starts to fuck Hannibal with speeding determination to drive him over the edge, or Hannibal fucks him, he cannot tell anymore… It is always like this with them. They blur.

His feet look for the purchase against the floor, slip first, then steady him as he arches his back, bringing them off the ground. His hands want to hold all of Hannibal; one latches into his hair, the other lands on his behind, yanks at him, holds him flush and aligned against his own body. Sleek skin to skin. They are breathing fast, their heart rates are even faster, and with Will’s final frantic thrusts up and Hannibal’s rolling slams down, exhilarating friction over his swollen cock, Hannibal’s grazing against his stomach, Hannibal’s hot tongue in his ear, he is suddenly there - the first sweet spasm, and his climax flies high.

"The evening might not be entirely lost…" whispers the devil through the fog of his mind, "you can wear the black button-down instead."

Through the vanning pulses of pleasure, as they fold into each other, collapsing with a thud to the hard wooden floor, and the honeyed timber of persuasion swirls around like a sweet smoke, but he does not care.

He is vaguely aware of the leaking cock still trapped between them, though he feels no concern at all for leaving Hannibal behind. He was never entirely in charge, wasn't he? 

"Give me fifteen...twenty minutes. I'll finish you properly in bed." Will breathes out, does not think twice to discard the insinuation.

Hannibal's face appears above his, lips poised in an unhappy line,

"No punishment indeed," he ascertains, all wounded and dramatic.

Will encases his face within his palms, beholds him once again: a mop of silvery, sex tousled hair, the expanse of a stark flush over his cheeks and neck, eyes dark and proof of unquenched hunger twitching against their abdomens. He is utterly, aesthetically debauched, and still hasn't given up on his plan. 

With a triumph, Will flashes at him a roguish smile, strokes his lips with his own for the unhappy pout to be gone, whispers, "You can finish in me."

The concertino is not discussed this evening anymore.

Chapter Text

Two days ago.

The alarm clock showed 6:56 am, but the sun shined vigorously through the gaps between the shutters. Its warm golden rays accentuated a golden-white ambience of the room, decorated in soft pastels. Hannibal’s hair illuminated in warm light, scattered in all directions over the pillow, crawling disobediently into his eyes, fit into the colour pattern. Streaks of ash, silver and white between muted blond outlined the tanned skin of his face. For the past years, they had quite the power to soften his strict elegant features, yet more so when he is asleep.

Perched on his side of the bed and already fully clothed, Will observed the peaceful image, saving it into the archives of his mind. He should be gone by now, but instead of pushing himself to leave, he lingered, gazing at Hannibal some more. Not with the usual, almost boyish infatuation, but with a yearning of such magnitude, it took all his control to not reach and brush the soft mop out of his eyes; not to touch his skin and face, or simply wake him up from an absurd need to clutch at him in a suffocating hug. He wanted to reassure himself of Hannibal’s physical presence in his life.

“You know, Will,” Hannibal’s eyes slit open, bleary, and velvety soft. They unblinkingly settled on him, as if Hannibal had felt his gaze all along while submerged in a dream. “In my home country, people believe that staring upon a person intensely and grimly, as you are, your eyes might cast a sick spell upon me.”

Will's weighty train of thoughts ebbed away for a few precious seconds, and he answered with a roguish smile. “In this regard, I think your immunity is robust.”

“Developed by your side, you mean?”

He didn’t rise to the bait. “No. “Every time I leave your side, I feel like I might be seeing you for the last time... like I’ll come back to an empty house. Only now,” he added with a sore smirk, “I have a reason.”

Hannibal covered Will’s hand with his own. With soft strokes over Will’s cramped fingers, he eased his senseless grip in the bedsheet. 

“Will, don’t go there yourself.”

“You don’t need to tell me, I’m not completely out of my senses. I’ll just see that the delivery arrived on time.”  

However, Will is fully aware of the cumbersome state of his mind. After five years of this relative happiness, the dread would not leave him, unless he addresses the circumstances that brought it up.  He wouldn’t know true peace until this was done.

He extricated his hand from under Hannibal’s hold with renewed resolve and stood. 

“No kiss?” Hannibal jested, lightening his mood.

Will smiled, soft. “I might give you one when I return.” He replied.