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So Simple, So Complicated

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The first few days in the BSHCI went by swiftly for Hannibal. He didn't get the needle or get sent anywhere else. His new accommodations were… pleasant enough. Alana was gracious to him for giving Margot an out with Mason, and she treated him to a cell that reminded him mildly of his office. He was allowed books, music, sketchpads, and charcoals. He had a desk, a mattress with a pillow. He had more than Will did, and the thought made him smirk to himself while he sketched Will's likeness.

Alana came to him at the conclusion of his first week, sitting on the other side of his plexiglass wall. She looked harsh in the fluorescent lighting. Her red lipstick was applied unevenly, and Hannibal smirked when he saw it. "How was your first week, Hannibal?" she asked as she shifted in her seat because her hip was very likely bothering her.

Hannibal continued sketching, "It's been a delight, Alana. Your kindness is appreciated."

He looked up briefly to note the sour expression on her face, and his smirk grew into a smile. "It isn't a kindness. It's a debt. You took care of me; I'll do my best to return the favor. One misstep and I will take all of it away."

"Idle threats," Hannibal mused as he flicked his eyes back to hers again. "How wonderful."

"You have... fan mail," Alana said distastefully.

Hannibal looked up in surprise, a laugh escaping his lips. "Fan mail? Admirers that wish to announce their dedication. Am I allowed to read them?"

Alana nodded, rolling her eyes away from him. "You can read them just after they've been gone through. Just in case someone wants to give you something more than a letter."

The thought alone made Hannibal chuckle. "Do you have them?"

"Barney will bring them just as soon as we finish with our session," she replied dryly.

Hannibal looked up at her again, beaming, "Is that what this is, Doctor Bloom? A session?"

Alana pursed her lips, her fluorescent red lipstick creasing them unappealingly. "We both know that there is no fixing what's wrong with you, right? You surrendered. Why? For Will?"

Hannibal smirked again, standing slowly to come closer to the glass. "I surrendered because it will hurt him more than it will hurt me to be here. He claims he wants me out of his life, but I've always known him better than he knows himself."

Alana laughed, the sarcastic quality of it delighted Hannibal even more. "You think he's miserable that you're gone? You think it won't bother you that you can't continue with the disgusting lifestyle that you've maintained? I think you're in for a surprise."

Hannibal paced his cell. His office. His temporary diversion. "Of the two of us, I promise you that you'll be the one who comes to resent our arrangement more than I do. That I can promise you."

She doesn't stay for her full hour like the courts demanded. He'd riled her more than she could tolerate. He chuckled as he watched her hobble away from him before he settled back at his desk and continued sketching his other half.

_______________________________________________

Will's first week after Hannibal's sentencing to the BSHCI went by at a snail's pace. His first few days he drank himself into a stupor, and he figured it was from the absolute whirlwind of a month that he'd had. Hannibal had tried to kill him, again, and the thought burned as harshly as his whiskey did. He threw himself into his work and avoided all discussion of Hannibal's case.

All this time Will had been certain that if he found Hannibal that he would forgive him. He thought that if he could just see him again, then maybe he could let go of everything they had done to one another. Then he found him playing house with Bedelia, and all the hope of forgiveness went out the window.

Will spent months recovering from his wounds, aching, missing Hannibal with every fiber of his being, and then he found him in Florence with Bedelia Du fucking Mourier. He felt like he wanted to burn Hannibal's life down. He wanted to cut him and hurt him as deeply as finding him living in such splendor hurt Will. He never got a fucking chance.

The trial was over, now. The last few months while the courts debated killing Hannibal were torture. At least knowing that he was living made Will breathe a little easier. He still felt like a fish out of water, but he could at least breathe.

He'd forgotten how fucking lonely he was. His thoughts were still narrated by Hannibal's lilting voice, and it was another time that Will resented his gift. Perfect recall made being haunted by your past all the more unsettling.

He threw himself into his work, and he found his night terrors grew worse. Jack suggested going to a different therapist, and Will refused it. No one knew him like Hannibal did. No one understood that Will didn't have night terrors because getting in the minds of killers bothered him. He had night terrors because he ached to feel even a modicum of the freedom and power that becoming them made him feel. Who the fuck could he tell that to without them sending him to a cell next to Hannibal's own?

The thought had merit.

He drank to the point of blackouts to avoid his dreams, but it only ever made them more vivid. Hannibal's voice would narrate his nightmares, and he'd startle awake, dripping sweat as the echoes of Hannibal's accented voice asked him to see. See?

He saw. He saw his mistakes. He knew who he was. What good was it, now?

_______________________________________________

Thanksgiving came to the BSHCI, and Alana allowed Hannibal to cook for himself. He delighted in it, making a turkey thigh and roasted fingerling potatoes. Cinnamon apple butternut squash with homemade biscuits. She allowed him a glass of wine, and he savored it with a smile as he ate his dinner. He frankly couldn't give a damn about the holiday. It was not one that he grew up celebrating. The allowance to cook for himself, though, was a pleasure he could never turn down. He found he had plenty to be thankful for, at this point.

Alana had gifted him with a small laptop, disabled from being able to go on the internet. She allowed him to write articles and do research. She allowed him access to library books that Barney would pick up for him. It was almost like having staff that worked for him, attending to each and every request or demand he made.

The staff were polite. Barney was his favorite, as his cordiality knew no bounds. He was intelligent and incredibly courteous. Hannibal liked talking with him, and he delighted in the interest Barney took in his artwork. He listened attentively when he'd ask about the different buildings that Hannibal drew, and Hannibal would share every memory he had of visiting them. Alana worried that Barney would misstep, and Hannibal would hurt him. As if he would do such a thing to a dear friend. As if he could be so rude as to hurt someone who had gone above and beyond to be kind and attentive to Hannibal's needs.

His sessions with Alana were a delight. He'd always assumed that she was a good therapist, but she bumbled through his mind like a drunkard. He wondered if this was his doing, as he mentored her, after all. He also wondered if it was because he was a therapist himself, but quickly disregarded the thought. Bedelia was a therapist, and she never stumbled through his therapy like Alana did. Maybe it was because she was afraid of him, and that thought made him smile more than anything else. He had promised to kill her, after all.

He sliced into his perfect turkey thigh, closed his eyes, and ate.

_______________________________________________

Will's first Thanksgiving after Hannibal went by without event, just like every other day since he was incarcerated. He drank too much. He put his dogs outside. He ate canned beans that he microwaved until they were luke-warm. He had no friends. He had no urge to ask for an invite anywhere. What did he have to talk about with anyone?

He spent the afternoon building a boat motor, but he was too drunk to give it too much serious thought. He gave up after an hour or so of dropping his tools and parts, swearing and riling his dogs. The case he had been working on was bothering him. A vigilante who killed other killers. The FBI was going insane, trying to catch the guy. Will had no interest.

Getting into his mind was like climbing into a warm bath. Soothing. Comforting. He felt the sheer delight of killing these unworthy people, and it clung to his mind like a soothing balm. Why catch someone like this? Someone who was making Jack’s life endlessly easier by removing disgusting people from the world.

He had a profile of the guy. Likely a cop or someone who works closely with them. He’d be perfectly normal, somewhere in the range of thirty to thirty-five, educated, careful. He could be married with kids. He could be a perfectly functioning person in society who was simply sick of terrible people getting away with terrible things. Will saw no problem with it.

Sure, he butchered them. Severed their arms and legs from their still-living bodies. The gory displays churned something in Will. Something that missed going to Hannibal’s crime scenes. Getting into the clean, calculated, organized, mind of the Ripper was… soothing. He missed Hannibal. God, he missed him.

_______________________________________________

New Years came to the BSHCI, and Hannibal was allowed one glass of cheap champagne in a plastic flute. He drank it with all the grace and poise of someone in a ballroom, toasting to Alana who watched him warily, and Barney who chuckled at the absolute delight on his face as he sipped his glass. “Have any resolutions, Alana?”

She pursed her lips at him, walking along the glass of his cage. “I think I’d like to make you more aware of your surroundings. You’re not on a vacation, Hannibal.”

Hannibal grinned, pacing his space while holding his flute aloft. “I’m very aware of that. Still, I find my accommodations suitable. Have you heard from Will, yet?”

Alana cracked her first smile that she’d given him since he’s been incarcerated. “No. He hasn’t called or written. How does that make you feel?”

Hannibal looked down into his glass, licking his top lip thoughtfully. “It makes me feel like someone should check on my dear boy. See how he’s doing.”

Alana laughed. “You think he’s wallowing somewhere? God, Hannibal. You really think his whole life revolves around you? It doesn’t. It’s in your head.”

Hannibal tipped his head, and his smirk was condescending. “Nonetheless, you should check on him. Have Jack call, maybe.”

“I’ll do that,” she said with a smirk. “And I’ll be sure to tell you about how well he’s doing, when I hear from him.”

Hannibal finished his glass, licking his lips of the cheap flavor of the sparkling wine and smiling. “Do that, please.”

_______________________________________________

Will woke up the week after new years to Jack, stuffing his fingers down his throat and forcing him to throw up. “Come on, Will,” Jack pleaded. “Did you drink a fucking gallon of whiskey? What the fuck, Will.”

Will couldn’t keep his eyes open as he vomited up obscene amounts of booze into his toilet. When he could finally stop puking, Jack stood up to wash his hands and get a facecloth, wetting it before settling out on his bathroom floor with Will. “Why’re you here?” Will slurred while Jack wiped the vomit from his face.

“Alana called. It seems Hannibal was concerned, and she asked me to come by and check on you. I’m glad I did, because you were puking on your own face. You could have died, Will.”

Will laughed, tipping his head back to rest against the bathroom wall. “Hannibal knew. We really are conjoined.”

“Does he know you aren’t profiling anymore?” Jack asked. “Are you in touch with him?”

Will shook his head and the room spun from the movement. “No, God, he just lives in my head. He lives in me, Jack. He can be anywhere in the world, and he’s still right here.” He tapped his temple for emphasis.

Jack sighed, rubbing his own temples for relief. “Maybe you need… away from the bureau entirely. Give up teaching just like you gave up profiling. I think this job… it’s not good for you.”

“Hannibal told you that and told you that,” Will grinned. “He knows me, Jack. He knows me as well as I know him.”

“Are you…” Jack began, and paused, finding the right words. “Do you miss him? Is that what this is?”

Will licked his lips, grimacing at the flavor of whiskey vomit he finds there. “It’s like… you have an extra arm, right? You don’t need it. No one else needs three arms. But it’s nice to have. You get used to it. You can do more with it than without it. It may not be pretty, but it’s a part of you. Others don’t understand why you have it, it causes more harm than good. So you cut it from your body, and it hurts to your very core to lose it. You’re useless without it. This piece of you that you shouldn’t need but fucking really miss once it’s gone. Hannibal was a part of me that I cut off. It… it fucking hurts,” Will’s voice broke with emotion, and Jack sighed.

“You’re fucking drunk and really not thinking clearly,” Jack replied. “Come on. Let’s get clean clothes on you and some water in you.”

Jack changed his shirt and got him a glass of water that Will sipped from the side of his bed. Jack took his dogs out, turning to Will with a grimace before he stepped out from the house and into the cold.

Will sipped his water, and he ached. He ached everywhere, but not from a hangover. He was lonely. He was miserable. And it was his fault.

_______________________________________________

When Alana told Hannibal about Will, and how he’d almost died aspirating his own vomit, Hannibal had his first real tantrum. He flipped his chair and paced the cell like a caged lion, chuffing air through his teeth. “And what is Jack going to do to help him? What if it happens again?”

Alana looked away, gnawing her bottom lip. “He’s not your concern, anymore.”

“Evidently I am the only one concerned,” Hannibal spat, coming to the plexiglass menacingly. “I need to see him. He needs to see me.”

Alana shook her head, pursing her lips at him. “Not happening, Hannibal. He needs away from you. He’ll get better. It’s your fault he’s a mess, or don’t you realize that yet?”

Hannibal punched the plexiglass, and his eyes were deadly as they regarded Alana. “You will regret this. You will regret keeping him from me.”

“He keeps himself from you,” Alana threw back. “He could visit. He could call. He chooses not to. Are you… are you in love with him?” She made the regretful mistake of choosing to laugh as she asked it.

Hannibal tipped his head at her, his eyes flat and murderous as he watched her. “One day. One day, Alana. I will laugh as I remove the love of your life from you, too.”

She had the good sense to walk away, at least.

_______________________________________________

The spring rolled by, and Will could finally make it through a few days without drinking himself into oblivion. He’s not… healthy. He knew that much, at least. He didn’t talk to anyone, save the students when he lectured. He didn’t really engage in his hobbies, as they don’t particularly keep him interested anymore.

Hannibal’s been gone for a year, now, and Will had nothing to show for himself for all that time. He drank, he took care of his dogs, and he haunted his house like a ghost.

He had an itch. A tiny, buzzing thing that nagged him whether he was awake or sleeping. He wanted to go through the evidence locker. He knew it was a terrible idea, but the itch turned into a throb, and the throb turned into raw pain, and that was how he found himself checked into the FBI’s evidence storage room as he rummaged through boxes.

There was a lot of evidence from Hannibal’s case. A lot of it was… circumstantial. A lot of it was completely useless. There was at least five boxes of his sketch pads, and Will took the time to look through each one. The ones of Will were devastating to find. They made it no question that Hannibal must have cared for him, at least at one point. There were so many, all of Will in various poses and states of undress. Never lewd, just… worshipful.

There was a box of clothes, each vacuum sealed and stacked neatly. He found a red sweater, and Will held the vacuum sealed bag with confusion. He didn’t remember Hannibal ever wearing it. He tore open the plastic, and the moan that escaped his mouth at the waft of Hannibal’s cologne that still clung to it all this time was completely involuntary.

Will brought the slightly stale smelling sweater to his nose and inhaled greedily. The scent was faint, but still there after all this time. Without much thought, Will packed the sweater into his shoulder bag. It wouldn’t be missed.

Later that night, he decided to wear it to bed. The scent clung to the fabric weakly, but it was enough to soothe the ache in Will’s chest. For the first night in over a year, Will slept without a night terror or even the hint of one.

_______________________________________________

The summer rolled around, and Hannibal was allowed one day a week where Barney strapped him down to a stroller, face mask strapped tightly to his face, where he got to go outside. It wasn’t refreshing. The facemask chaffed. The straightjacket was tight enough and thick enough that he couldn’t feel the sun on his skin or the breeze on his flesh. Still, the company was good, and Hannibal enjoyed his brief excursions to the fenced yard where Barney wheeled him around, talking to him as though he were anyone else.

He found out that Barney used to be in the chess club in high school and college, and he asked Alana if a game of chess was out of the question. It was, in the way that Barney could not be in his cell to play it, but she allowed him to have a board that they pressed to the glass, each of them taking turns where Hannibal narrated to Barney for him to make the move for him. It was… pleasant. Barney refused to call him by anything other than ‘Doctor Lecter’ no matter how many times Hannibal insisted he used his first name.

It was charming, in its own way. Barney told him that when someone was higher educated, you address them as such. With Hannibal’s double doctorate, Barney felt he’d earned the right to be addressed by his title.

Hannibal adored him. He was a kindly older man who never asked for gory details. He barely seemed interested in them. He asked questions about his drawings, about books he was reading. Hannibal found a friend in the most unlikely of places, and he was grateful for it.

So of course, Alana fired him.

When Hannibal found out, he was outraged. Barney had a family to care for. He wasn’t quite at the age of retirement. Hannibal called his lawyer to send some money to Barney, anonymously. At least as much as Hannibal estimated he would have made for the next five or six years here before retirement.

His days were much duller without his friend. All Alana did was guarantee herself a painful end, once he was out.

_______________________________________________

The Fall comes and goes, and Will was sick of the cold. He was sleeping better now than he ever was, and he knew it was because of Hannibal’s sweater. If he put too much thought into it, he felt wildly ridiculous, but it worked, so he kept wearing it to bed.

He decided to quit the FBI and move south. Nothing in Virginia brought him joy anymore, and he figured he could find a job at a boatyard. He could fix motors and live like a ghost in warm weather. The thought at least had some appeal.

Jack was the only one to stop by and see him off. His moving truck was packed, and he was standing in his front yard, staring at his home as though he wished he could take it with him. He couldn’t, though, so the ‘For Sale’ sign stayed where it was.

His house was under agreement, and Will thought that was... good. His realtor suggested keeping it on the market just in case the offer fell through. So far, though, it was good.

He found a very small house in Florida that was right on the water. Once the offer on his house in Wolf Trap went through, he was able to pay for it cash and still managed to keep quite a bit in his savings account.

He found a job at a boatyard, and he worked part time. He earned just enough a week to cover his expenses, and buy groceries, and still save a little at the end of it. He made tentative friends with a few of the guys from the boatyard. Not enough to invite them over on weekends. Not enough to share a few beers at the end of the day. Just enough to share small talk, break up the day.

The sun and the ocean brought him peace. He still slept in the sweater, and it helped him to find dreamless sleep, something he was grateful for, even though the scent was long gone. Weeks turned into months, and he finds a simple pleasure in existing that way. Work for a few hours, home with the dogs, nights on his enclosed porch. He still felt hollow inside. Lonely. The loneliness was debilitating.

His hair lightened and his skin darkened from his time in the sun, and he almost didn’t recognize his own reflection anymore. He looked healthier than he felt. His scars stood out more on his tanned skin, highlighted them like silver. He traced them often, recalling the person who gave them to him. Recalling his voice, wondering where he would be if he had just… accepted who he was. The regret was a living, thrumming, thing inside of him.

_______________________________________________

Barney’s replacement was, for lack of a better word, rude. He spoke down to Hannibal, shoved him to get him to move. When he’d clean Hannibal’s cell, he would shred random pieces of artwork, smirking at Hannibal as he did it.

Hannibal delighted in this. All it would take was one wrong move, and he would pay.

The opportunity came when the man was putting the facemask on Hannibal, not paying him quite enough attention. Hannibal turned his face quickly, latching his teeth into his wrist and tearing the flesh as harshly as he could manage, despite wearing a straightjacket.

The action had the desired effect. The man screamed as the thin flesh of his wrist was torn out, great gouts of blood pouring from the shorn veins. The stark white of Hannibal’s straightjacket was covered in red, his mouth was full of the bitter taste of the disgusting man, and he spat the flesh out, revolted by the taste of unwashed skin.

The following month was expected. Alana took away all of his privileges. No books, no music, no sketching. Hannibal didn’t mind this as much as she seemed to think he did. She already told him that in a week, for Thanksgiving, he would not be making his own dinner like last year. No great loss.

He went into his mind palace often, searching out Will in the vast halls. He found him in the Norman chapel often, and even in his mind, Will was vibrant.

“You can have me anyway that you want me, and you put me in a three-piece suit,” Will mused, walking along the line of candles against the wall.

The deep blue of the material brought out the blue of his eyes, and Hannibal took a moment to appreciate him in the candlelight. “I want you as you are,” Hannibal told him, and the next time he looked over, Will was wearing a wrinkled gray button down and ill-fitting black slacks. Will grinned at him, arching his eyebrow playfully.

“As I am, or as you are?” Will asked, tipping his head and displaying the pale column of his neck, warmed by the glow of the candles.

“Is there a difference?” Hannibal asked him, grinning. “I wonder how you’re doing. I wonder if Florida is all you hoped it would be.”

Will huffed out a laugh, tucking his hands into his pants pockets as he walked away. “You know how I am. You know I’m not… whole. I am just as you are.”

Hannibal watched him for a moment before he walked to him, touching the soft skin of his throat. “Our situation is not ideal, but it is also not permanent. You’ll come for me. When you do, the broken shards will come back together.”

Will shook his head, tipping his face against Hannibal’s hand. “Not broken shards, Hannibal. Missing pieces. When I come for you, we will be whole.”

Hannibal grinned, smoothing his thumb against his lovely jaw. “Whole.”

_______________________________________________

Just after Christmas, Will made the decision to put his oldest dog, Daisy, down. She was riddled with cancer, and he did all he could to make her as comfortable as possible for as long as he could. She stopped eating, she stopped playing. She was suffering, and Will took her to the vet, kissed her snout one last time, and held her as she left him.

The house felt empty without her for weeks afterwards. He cried often, looking over at her empty dog bed. It felt like every year he was doomed to suffer some great loss, and he wallowed and marinated himself in whiskey.

He went to the shelter to find another dog, and the woman that worked there told him that none of the dogs they had were compatible with other dogs at the moment. Will looked at her, arching an eyebrow. He begged to differ, as dogs could be trained, but he knew how shelters worked. They wouldn’t adopt to him if they knew he had dogs, end of story.

She suggested that if he wanted, he could come by the shelter and walk them. They had no one to do it but her, and he accepted the offer reluctantly.

He went twice a week, and he was… not pleased when she decided to join him after the shelter closed at five. She would walk two dogs, and Will would walk three. Her name was Molly, and she was friendly enough. Will barely spoke to her for the first three weeks they would go for their walks. She talked endlessly. She spoke of her deceased husband, her son, her house, her sick mother in Maine. She talked and talked, and Will wished she would just… stop coming with him.

She asked questions sometimes, and he would answer them in clipped, precise ways that ended the conversation as quickly as possible. It didn’t take long for her to get his full name, and he imagined there must have been a Google search, and then she was able to fill in the pieces of his life more fully. The first time she brought up Hannibal, he thought he was going to kill her. “So you worked that case with that sicko cannibal guy, huh?”

Just like that. He stopped, turned to her in the late afternoon sun that was still so warm despite it being January, and stared at her until he knew she was slightly uncomfortable. He could say so much. He could scare her off. Instead, he averted his eyes and stared out over the water. “Yeah. I did.”

She’d ask about Hannibal sometimes, and he told her bits and pieces. The truth, as far as the FBI was concerned. Never more than that. Never deeper than the Cliff Notes version of events. He didn’t tell her that Hannibal knew him better than anyone in his life. He didn’t tell her that he’d trade everything he has to take back telling him that he didn’t want to think about him anymore. He sure as shit didn’t tell her that even though he said he wouldn’t, he’d missed him every second he’d been gone. No, Molly got the abridged, ‘I survived a serial killer’ version.

She was persistent in making her way into his life. Eventually, he took up the invitations to her house for dinner, if for no other reason than to avoid another lonely night missing his other half. Her son was funny, and being around him reminded him of Abigail, even though they were nothing alike at all. So, when she invited him to her house one night in March and kissed him before he left, he felt shocked by it. It had never even occurred to him that she might… like him that way. He couldn’t even understand why she would. He was closed off, moody, quiet. He kissed her back because it was better than being alone.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal got all of his perks back in March. He was pleased by this, as it meant he didn’t have to live in his mind palace anymore. He sketched and he read, and he toyed with the people who work there.

Months went by, and the summer rolled around again. Alana came to him for one of his sessions, and he noted the little bounce in her step. The tiny smirk on her face. Their session went as poorly as all the others, and he seriously wondered who accredited her to be a psychiatrist.

At the end, she turned to him, smiling, “Will is moving to Maine,” she said off-handedly.

Hannibal grinned, turning away from her to pace his cell. “My dear boy is having a hard time settling anywhere, it seems.”

“His fiancée’s mother lives there, she is unwell.” Alana replied.

Hannibal was… grateful he was turned away from her. His fiancée. As in Will was getting married. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes, beating down the raw violence he was feeling at the moment. “A sham,” he replied eventually.

“Such a sham to move two-thousand miles to be with her?” Alana laughed. “Hannibal, your delusions know no bounds. He does not think about you. He doesn’t miss you. He’s done all he said he would do that night, hasn’t he?”

Hannibal chose to ignore her for the rest of the session. He didn’t want to speak. He didn’t want to talk. He wanted to kill Alana. He wanted to slaughter Will’s new… distraction. That’s all she was. A distraction.

He sketched as Alana grew fed up with his disregard, and for the first time since he was incarcerated, he seethed.

_______________________________________________

Summer in Maine was almost as hot as summer in Florida. It was sticky and humid, and they had not gotten around to getting an air conditioner for their cabin, yet. Will was getting ready for bed, and he pulled on the red sweater. Always. Every night. The red sweater.

Molly looked up at him with a grin, “It’s too damn hot for that, sweet man. It’s… cute that you have a security blanket, but it’s eighty degrees.”

Will kept most of the resentment from his voice when he replied, “I need it or I’ll have night terrors.”

Molly stared at him, gnawing her bottom lip. “It’s just a little strange, you know? I love you, Will, but… a grown man with a security blanket is…”

He turned away from her, climbing into their bed. His new life. His distraction. She was the kindest woman he’d ever met. She was forgiving and patient. She was honest and loving. She did not know him at all. “It’s what you signed up for when you agreed to marry me.”

The silence was deafening in the bedroom as he stared out the window, listening to crickets in their surrounding woods. “Are you only marrying me because of the insurance thing? Do you want to marry me, Will?”

Will laid there, sweating while rubbing the scar on his abdomen through Hannibal’s sweater. He didn’t want to be alone, anymore. He didn’t want to live like a ghost. At least with her, she distracted him from it. He smiled, sometimes. He liked going fishing with Wally and teaching him how to tie lures. He liked his life with her, as well as he could. “I want to be with you,” he replied eventually. It was as honest as he could be.

Their wedding was hurried that September, as they wanted her very sick mother to be able to attend. A small gathering of only her family, as Will had no one. Will had his rotator cuff surgery under her insurance, and he spent the following month high as a kite on pain killers. He would wait all day to take them, and then take them all right before bed. He drank a lot, and the mix of the pain killers with the alcohol put him in an almost-state of contentment.

He’d make love her sometimes, and he knew she didn’t… really enjoy it. His empathy disorder usually made sexual encounters awkward. Every minute facial expression, every uncomfortable shift of their bodies, and every non-sensual sigh made him hyper aware that she was not there with him, almost as much as he was not there with her.

She loved her first husband fiercely. She kept all the photos of him. He was a giant, a football player in high school, where they met. Will wasn’t sure, but he figured the man must have been at least a foot taller than he was. When they’d be fucking, she’d nudge him with her feet. Deeper. Harder. She’d spread her thighs, asking for more of him when there was no more of him to give. She’d imagine her first husband sometimes, and others she would lose interest entirely, glancing at her tablet or letting her mind wander to other things. Her fake moans and groans were an utter turn-off. Intimacy with others was always like this for him, the difference was he’d never been in a long-term relationship.

They had sex rarely, and when they did, it was always in the dark. Always under covers where she couldn’t see his scars or try to touch them. She’d think about other things, and they’d both moan and sigh at all the right times.

She’d take his red sweater off and throw it, and he’d be angry about her lack of understanding of him. As though it was her fault that he didn’t tell her. She tried to touch his scars a few times, and each time he would grab her wrists and firmly tell her not to.

He could feel how strange she thought he was. He could pick up how much she wished he would just fucking talk to her. He knew she wondered if Hannibal was the reason for his reclusiveness, and he was. Just not in the way she seemed to think so.

He found some work at a fishing yard, fixing the motors of some that trusted him to do it. Fishing boats usually hired a company to fix their ships, so a random guy doing it usually held no appeal to them.

It was fine. An excuse to get out of the house. No matter how temporary.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal adored responding to his fan mail. There was no shortage of strange people in the world, and every letter he received was an absolute delight. There were marriage proposals. Requests for him to eat a few people, both figuratively and literally.

There were others that boldly told him that he was to burn in hell, and those were his favorite. The self-righteous of the world were always so amusing.

He began corresponding with a very clever boy. A man, possibly. Someone who was in the chrysalis stage of his becoming. He took credit for some very gruesome murders that were as of yet, unsolved. He promised Hannibal there was to be a reckoning, that his transformation would be the bringer of the end of times.

Hannibal adored him. If only Will would embrace his becoming as beautifully as this man. Hannibal responded to each letter, encouraging him to become. Encouraging him to take precautions. He instructed him on how best to do this, and he shredded each letter he received from him to ensure no one would stumble across them.

He knew that this boy would be the one that brought Will home to him. He would make sure of it. When he started killing, he would make sure that Alana knew that he’d corresponded with him, if it came to it. He suspected it wouldn’t come to that. Will would come to him, first.

The wheels were in motion, and when his new friend began his transformation, his signatures would alert the FBI. Jack Crawford would seek out his secret weapon, and Will would be back in his life. All it would take is some time. He had plenty of it.

_______________________________________________

Christmas comes and goes, and Will was searching for his red sweater before bed one night. Molly did the laundry, so it should have been with his folded clothes, but it wasn’t.

He went downstairs to see if it was in the dryer, and it wasn’t. He shredded through the laundry basket, but it wasn’t there either. Panic was lacing up his throat, and he turned to find Molly staring at him as though she’d never seen him before. “It was time. You don’t need it. You have me.”

Will stared at her, his limbs numb and his fingers twitching. “What did you do?”

Molly licked her lips and averted her eyes, looking out their window to the backyard. “I shredded it, Will. There’s nothing left of it.”

Raw, seething, anger boiled over, and he struggled to keep it contained. Who the fuck did she think she was to decide something like that? He stared at her while he debated what he would do. “It wasn’t your place to decide that,” he replied through clenched teeth.

Molly sucked her teeth and turned her eyes back to him, “Come to bed, sweetie. Come to bed and I’ll make you forget.”

The sheer audacity of her was astounding, sometimes. “No,” he replied evenly. “Go to bed. I don’t… I honestly don’t want to look at you, right now.”

He saw the hurt skitter across her face, but he didn’t particularly care. He watched as she turned and went back up the stairs. It was gone. Gone. All he had of Hannibal, gone.

He took out a bottle of whiskey and got so fucking drunk he could barely stand to go take a piss. “Is this the life you hoped for, Will?”

Will chuckled, slumped out on their couch as he turned to find Hannibal standing by their fireplace. It had been a long time since his mind had conjured him this way, and seeing him again, even though he wasn’t real, was soothing. Even in his mind, his brain dressed him impeccably. He stood golden and warm in the firelight, in a handsome three-piece gray suit. His eyes reflected the firelight, and Will was entranced. “Why did you surrender? You knew I would go find you once I had cooled off. You knew I was angry. Why did you make it impossible for me to get back to you?”

Hannibal grinned, “Not impossible. Merely improbable. If you want me, Will, you’ll have to work for it. When you decide to come to me, the amount of effort it will take will demonstrate to the both of us how invested you are. Perhaps that will ease the ache, between us.”

“I can’t get you out,” Will replied brokenly. “How? It’s not even possible.”

The ghost of Hannibal turned to him, and fire danced in his eyes. “An opportunity will come, Will. It’ll be up to you what you do with it.”

Will turned his head away from Hannibal, considering his words. When he looked back, he was gone. The ache of losing him again urged Will to finish the bottle.

_______________________________________________

February came, and with it made the three-year anniversary of Hannibal’s incarceration. Three years without a word from Will. His new friend was killing. He read it in the papers he was allowed to read. The Tooth Fairy, an insulting name if there ever was one.

He wrote a letter to his other half, knowing it was only a matter of time before Jack came knocking on he and his new wife’s door. Will was a singular creature. Tell him to do something, and he would do the opposite. His letter urged him to stay where he was, and he knew that would bring him back to him.

He sent it to the FBI, with a forward request to Will Graham. He knew Jack would take it where it was meant to go. He knew it, just as certainly as he knew Jack would be going to Will without his nudge. The difference was that Jack had no finesse when it came to Will. He would push and push, and that was not the way with his beloved. It needed to be his idea. His design.

Hannibal grinned as he handed the letter off, knowing he was only a month away from seeing Will again, at best.

_______________________________________________

When Jack came to Will, he wasn’t really surprised. Will had heard of the killings, and he knew, deep down, that Jack would seek him out. This was the thing he’d been waiting for without realizing it. He glanced around at his house. His cell. His temporary diversion, and he knew he needed to appear disinterested. Jack would know if he was… eager. He said no, and Jack immediately handed him a letter in elegant script. Will knees nearly gave out, but he took it with feigned indifference. He put it in his drawer, for a time when he could read it without Molly’s prying eyes.

He acted indifferent all through dinner, smiling at Molly often to create the illusion of a happy marriage. Jack was watching him, hoping that he'd reconsider. What Will needed was an excuse to escape, and his dogs gave him that out. If Molly and Jack could have a few minutes together, Will knew he would jump at the opportunity to get her to talk to him, to beg him to accept the offer. As if he would do anything else.

He excused himself after dinner to take the dogs out and grinned outside in the cold. He made sure to give them enough time to discuss it before he came back into the house to have another drink with his wife and his former friend.

Sure enough, later that night, Molly looped her arm around his neck and talked to him about it. He stayed quiet, pensive. It wasn't that he didn't love her. He didn't love her enough. He didn't love her more than how being with Hannibal made him feel. The guilt of it didn't crush him like it used to.

Once she was asleep, he crept from the bed and went to his drawer to get the letter. He read it by the fire downstairs, where he imagined Hannibal’s ghost telling him that an opportunity would come. His apparition had been right.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal's friend, his dragon, explained in a letter how he could manipulate the phone to get to an outside line. He was excellent with technology and electronics, and his tips were extraordinarily useful. With his help, he was able to alert Chiyoh that he might be escaping soon, and she promised that she would be near, when he did.

His dragon was very unlike himself, but Hannibal did not discourage him. He preferred guns, and he was an excellent shot. Almost sniper-like in quality. He liked to... lay with his victims afterwards, and while the thought was revolting to Hannibal, he assumed that eating parts of the victims might provoke a similar reaction in some. He felt he had no right to judge.

When Will finally came back to him, Hannibal knew it by scent alone. He wanted to breathe the younger man in despite the atrocious aftershave. He wanted to tell Will that he'd missed him. All that comes out, though, are clipped words spat in anger and frustration. He felt betrayed by Will again for marrying another, for leaving him here without a word all this time, for forgetting about him.

Even without Will's gifts, Hannibal could pick up how angered Will was by his words. How uncomfortable he was making him. He tried to leave, and Hannibal finally agreed to look at the folder, even though he already knew what it contained. He'd been in correspondence with the shy boy for a month, now.

Will left him to read through the folder, and Hannibal sat breathing in the scent of him long after he'd gone. He looked good. Well put together. Hannibal wondered if that was because of his new wife, or if it was for Hannibal alone. The question plagued him.

Did his new wife like button-down shirts and sweet haircuts? Did his new wife run her fingers through those luscious curls, tangling them in her undeserving fingers? Did she know him as well as Hannibal did? Did she touch his scars and curse Hannibal's name for marring Will's skin? He was willing to wager that she did. Will didn't belong to her. Her temporary mark on him was a metal ring. Easily removed. Hannibal's marks were for life. Will was his, and only his.

He hated the woman. Hated her more than he'd hated anyone, and he'd never met her. He wondered, idly, if his new friend might mind paying her a visit. He'd have to ask.

_______________________________________________

Seeing Hannibal again was like being cut all over again. Messy, guts spilling, emotions warring. It was beautiful. He looked good. As though the years in prison hadn't touched him at all. He still had that spark of life in him that Will always admired, even though his words were barbed, and his demeanor was curt. Will knew he deserved it. He still could not help himself when the barbed words stung, and he lashed back.

He'd gotten dressed up for him, as he knew Hannibal would appreciate that. He always did, once he knew how it made Hannibal's eyes roam him a little more intentionally. Ever since that day all those years ago when Will showed up to Hannibal's office after he was released from the BSHCI, he made sure to dress well if he knew he was going to see Hannibal. This time was no different.

His eyes were appreciative but hurt. Will's gift picked up so much raw, unfiltered, anguish that guilt roiled in his gut, and he had to leave. He had to get out. Every moment with Hannibal was a reminder that this was all they'd have, now. Unless an opportunity arose, and he couldn't see it happening, yet.

He saw him a few times, and Hannibal hinted that their Tooth Fairy liked to hunt families. The hint being that Will's family was in danger. He should have seen it coming, as Will would have done the same thing to Hannibal, if the situation were reversed. He should have seen it, but he did not, and Molly almost paid the price for it.

Their deadly game was for two players, and marrying Molly put her directly in harm's way. He had no one to blame but himself. Not Hannibal, not the Tooth Fairy, no one. She deserved better than this, and he was resolved that whatever he'd been doing with her was over. He visited her at the hospital, getting shit from Wally about being a murderer. If the kid had any idea, he'd kill Will himself to spare his mother the heartache.

He was resolved, now. His life was tied to Hannibal's, whether that meant living or dying with him, he didn't know. An opportunity hadn't made itself apparent, yet. Will might need to make one.

_______________________________________________

When Hannibal heard what happened to Chilton, he was thrilled. He’d read the article, and he picked up the not-so-subtle hand Will put on his shoulder. He’d wondered what Chilton had ever done to Will to incur that specific kind of wrath. Maybe it was all the times Frederick fumbled around in Will’s mind while he was under his care. Maybe it had nothing do to with anything, other than Will finally embracing his darker nature.

Hannibal hoped it was the latter. Will was already the most beautiful creature that Hannibal had ever laid his eyes upon. He couldn’t wait to see how wondrously magnificent he would be, once he became who he was meant to be.

_______________________________________________

Will didn’t know why he did what he did to Chilton, but the little voice in his head that always sounded like Hannibal suggested that he just wanted to see what would happen. He also didn't know why he kept going to see Bedelia. It was like sticking your tongue in a toothache, or rubbing salt into fresh wounds, but he kept going.

She liked to toy with him, and he let her believe she had the upper hand. She asked him if Molly knew what he and Hannibal’s relationship really was, and he told her the truth. She knew enough.

He despised her. He hated that she seemed to believe that Hannibal would pick either of them indiscriminately. As though they both meant the same thing to Hannibal. She kept steering the conversation into a romantic angle, so when he asked if Hannibal was in love with him, it was a genuinely serious question. They were close. Conjoined. Mirror images of one another. Their relationship was deeper and more intimate than anything he’d ever had with anyone else in his entire life. It was genuinely a surprise to consider they could be more. The thought was perversely intriguing. More than what they were. How deeply involved could someone be with someone else?

When Bedelia asked if Will ached for him, he stayed silent. Learning that Hannibal loved him had been like a door opening that he hadn’t realized was there. Love. Was that what this was? This gnawing ache that hadn’t left him in three years?

Love. Something as ridiculously simple as that. As outrageously complex and messy as that.

He escaped her office quickly after that. Back in his motel room, he noted that he had two missed calls from Molly. Three from Jack. He’d get back to them.

He laid on his bed, considering Bedelia’s words.

For the first time since meeting Hannibal, he thought about… kissing him. The plump jut of his upper lip. The soft pout of his bottom lip. Maybe it said more about Will that he could recall the exact shape of them without much thought. He’d bite that upper lip. There was no doubt about that. Will has never initiated touch between them. The thought felt staggeringly miserable to think about. He knew Hannibal’s hands were warm and soft. He knew his scent better than anyone else’s. He knew his exact shape, in clothes. He’d never seen him without a shirt on, but he knew Hannibal was fit.

He was so lost in thought, thinking about Hannibal in that way, that when he looked down and found himself hard, he was shocked by it. All he’d thought about was pressing is lips to Hannibal’s, maybe tasting his mouth with his tongue, and he was on the verge of coming in his pants completely untouched.

He wanted to know. He wanted to find out.

Hannibal needed to get out, and Will needed to make it happen.

_______________________________________________

When Will came to tell him that their dragon had killed himself, Hannibal noted the tone in which Will said it. He was not relieved by it. He was… scornful. It delighted Hannibal, but also made him immensely curious. What had been Will’s design? What had he wanted to come to fruition?

He supposed he’d never know, now.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal asked him if he’d return to his family. If there was any point.

Any way of getting Hannibal out was gone, now. He would return to Molly. He’d likely kill himself by drinking himself into an early grave. He was not lying when he told Hannibal that he liked his life, there. He liked it just fine. He liked it as much as he liked working on boat motors.

He did not love it.

Hannibal asked him if it was good to see him.

He had not lied when he said it was not. Seeing Hannibal in a plastic cage after coming to the heartbreaking realization that he loved him was torturous. He was angry with Hannibal for surrendering. Angry at him for taking away any possibility of more that they could have shared.

He still pressed his hand to the glass as though he wished he could press right through it. He still looked his fill of his other half, and Hannibal looked right back. That was all they were allowed to do, now.

He left, and it felt like he was tearing his own heart from his chest. He surrendered because Will rejected him. All Will wanted was the opportunity to take it back.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal was amused to hear that the dragon had faked his death. Even more amused to hear that they wanted his help to catch him. No, Will wanted his help to catch him. It was Will’s idea, apparently.

When Will came to request his help, at Hannibal’s request, of course, he did so with a flirtatious demeanor. His raised eyebrow, his gentle smirk. Hannibal would bend the laws of nature for him. How could he refuse?

Hannibal had an idea that Jack had no intention of Hannibal surviving the ordeal. He was… unsure whether Will wanted him to or not. The thought didn’t dissuade him from accepting.

If his death was to be the catalyst for Will’s transcendence, then so be it.

_______________________________________________

Will warned Bedelia that Hannibal was coming. Ready or not.

He set the wheels in motion by manipulating Jack into agreeing. He’d almost slipped up, when he suggested it. When he suggested they use Hannibal. He’d used his first name, and as he said it, he wished he would have said Doctor Lecter. Jack knew of their history, and if he suspected, it would be over before it started.

He accepted. By the grace of God, despite rolling Hannibal’s name off his tongue like a prayer, he’d accepted. With the condition that Hannibal was to die with the dragon. Two birds, one sting operation.

Will had no intention of that. After his little run-in with Dolarhyde in his motel room, the Great Red Dragon was going to be the first victim of Will’s becoming. He and Hannibal would be long fucking gone after that.

Their envoy was derailed by Dolarhyde. He was outrageously deadly.

Seeing Hannibal outside in the sun, free and smiling was like a punch to the gut. The things that this man did to stay in Will’s life were not lost to him. He’d given up his freedom to stay within reach. Will had a lot to make up for.

When Hannibal asked if Will was going his way, it took every ounce of his strength to not respond with, “Since we met.”

_______________________________________________

Will barely spoke the whole way to the Bluff house. He seemed nervous, but that was his way. Hannibal wasn’t kidding when he told Will he needed to relax more.

He was subdued when they got to the house, taking in the bluff with a blank expression. Hannibal told him that soon all of it will be lost to the sea.

“Once our dragon is slayed, I am going over the cliff,” he said carefully, taking in Will's reaction.

Will’s mouth fell open, concern marring his delicate features. “You’ll die. Are you… that desperate to not go back?”

“I will not die,” Hannibal laughed. “See there?” He asked, pointing into the distance to the boat settled offshore. Will nodded, flicking his ocean eyes between the boat and Hannibal. “Chiyoh,” Hannibal explained.

Will stared at him, and it took every ounce of his control not to touch him. “How does she know we’re here?”

“I called her,” Hannibal replied easily. “She’s watching us closely. She’ll come for me when it’s time.”

Will swallowed, glancing out to the boat again. “That’s… good.”

“Will you stop me from going?” Hannibal asked.

Will’s eyes slid back to his, and a small smile graced his lips. “No. I won’t.”

_______________________________________________

The bluff house was full of things that alluded to a future he could have had with Hannibal. There were two bedrooms. Two.

One was decked out in teal and hot pink, Abigail’s clothes and books strewn everywhere inside of it.

The other was to be their room.

Theirs.

A shared closet with clothes that were perfectly tailored for Will. Brand new fishing gear that had never gotten to be used. Apparently, Hannibal knew his feelings for Will better than Will did all those years ago. He loved Will. He wanted to give him the world.

It’s painful to think about.

They shared a dinner of canned goods, and each took a turn showering. The clothes that Hannibal had bought him fit perfectly, and the cologne that he’d picked out for him smelled incredible.

“I lied when I said it wasn’t good to see you,” Will said suddenly while stirring his baked beans.

Hannibal quirked an eyebrow at him, “Oh?”

“Well, not lied,” Will grimaced. “It was good to see you, but not to see you… in prison. You don’t belong in a plastic box, Hannibal. It’s good to see you, now.”

Hannibal did not respond, but the little blade of a smile was worth telling him the truth to see it.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal knew his dragon was right outside. He knew it in the way a shark knew that there was blood in the water. He felt him, out there. Will was standing in his perfect line of sight. Directly in the way of his sniper-like accurate aim.

“No greater love hath man than to lay down his life for a friend,” Hannibal said, while blocking the direct line of shot to his beloved.

Will seemed to sense their danger when he replied, “He’s watching us now.”

Hannibal knew that much. He was right behind him. “I know.”

The shot was not a surprise, he knew his Dragon’s penchant for guns. The surprise was that he did not receive a kill shot. He wondered, idly, if that was because he wanted to kill Will in front of him, first. He must have known what Will meant to him.

He watched as Dolarhyde stabbed Will in his face, and he was trying his best to determine if his injuries were severe. He wagered that they were not. His dragon was an excellent shot, and if he wanted him to live, then he would live.

His dragon was stabbing Will again, and he needed to act. He was bigger than Will. Stronger than him. His beloved was a vicious little thing, but he had no upper hand, here.

They slayed their dragon together. Each of them delivered wounds and tore flesh. They did not need to speak. Their eyes found one another, and that was all the communication that they needed.

_______________________________________________

Will knew he was injured, but he couldn’t feel it. Not with the adrenaline pumping through his veins and the euphoria pulsing hot through his blood. Hannibal’s hand in his as he helped him up felt like a bolt of lightning against his skin, finding a place to ground the current that passed between them.

He felt high. High and full of life. He stood close to Hannibal while waves of the brightest elation rolled over him, and he was more alive now than he’d never been in his entire life. Hannibal tells him that this was all he ever wanted for him. For the both of them, and Will struggled to find words to describe the emotions that were rolling over him at the moment.

The feel of him under his palms, the scent of him covered in blood, his breath against his face. Hannibal. His devastatingly beautiful other half. “It’s beautiful,” Will replied, because it described all of it. What they had done, and how he saw Hannibal in that moment.

He could not resist bringing their bodies together. He wanted him close. Closer. Never close enough.

His empathy was open, and the joy that Hannibal was feeling had very little to do with slaying their dragon, and everything to do with Will being in his arms. Love. Something so simple. Something so fucking complicated that Will missed it somehow.

If Hannibal was going over, then Will was going, too. Wherever Hannibal went, Will was going. He felt more whole now than he had in years. Maybe in his entire life.

He tugged them both over, so Hannibal could not mistake his actions. Maybe not the best idea, as heading head-first into the ocean with no warning might have killed them, but it doesn’t.

The sea water stung his wounds, but he held tight to the man in his arms. The impact with the water might have broken Will’s arm, but it was fine. He was alive.

They kicked their way to the surface, each holding onto one another tightly while waiting for the boat that was offshore to come closer.

Chiyoh pulled them aboard, and they laid on the deck, spitting up sea water and gasping. Hannibal sat up on his elbow as he stared at Will under him. “A little warning might have been nice.”

Will’s smile was wide on his face, his cheek aching and his shoulder throbbing. He was cold, his arm was broken, and his lungs were on fire from accidentally inhaling sea water, but he was euphoric. He leaned up and closed the small distance between their faces, bringing their mouths together gently, sweetly. After the carnage they had wrought, the softness of his kiss felt like heaven. Hannibal’s silken lips against his felt like they should be against Will’s own for the rest of his life.

_______________________________________________

Hannibal’s momentary surprise when Will pressed his delicious mouth against his own prevented him from responding, immediately. He wondered if he was dead. If the impact with the water had somehow killed him. Will moaned softly as he tilted his face, while one of his calloused hands touched his jaw. The flavor of his blood in his mouth made Hannibal aware that this was actually happening. He groaned, tilting his head and lacing his fingers into Will’s curls, their tongues sweeping and learning one another this way.

All he could taste was blood and the sweetness of Will’s mouth. His soft, hot, tongue caressing his own. He was everything Hannibal wanted. Everything he did not deserve in this life. Hannibal pulled away eventually, as the wounds that Will had suffered were still bleeding, and he did not want Will to die of blood loss while they kissed.

Will’s eyes were closed, a small smile gracing his lips as Hannibal looked down at him. Blissful. Euphoric.

Beautiful.

His tongue darted out to taste the remnants of Hannibal’s mouth against his, and it took all of Hannibal’s self-control to not lean in again and taste him again.

A soft throat cleared next to them, and they both became aware of the other person on the boat. “I need to tend to you both. You’re both in terrible shape.”

Hannibal nodded, glancing up at Chiyoh with a grateful expression on his face. “Thank you, Chiyoh.”

She helped him up, and then Hannibal helped Will up, a small his of pain escaping his beloved’s mouth as he did so. “My arm is… broken, I think.”

Hannibal rolled his sleeve up gently, and he was sure Will was right. “I have cast material, antibiotics, pain medications, suture kits, you name it,” Chiyoh replied.

Hannibal looked to her again, touching her arm briefly. “You’re a blessing.”

“Meet me in the cabin, please,” she replied before heading below deck.

Will stepped into his arms again, holding him as though he were made of glass. “I’m going where you go, Hannibal. If you want me.”

If he wanted him. A ridiculous thing to wonder. “I’ve wanted you by my side like this for years. You’re unbelievably stubborn. So, unbearably stubborn,” Hannibal panted while looking down at Will. His eyes could not settle anywhere. His eyes, his mouth, his wet hair that was curling wildly from the sea water.

“I’m in love with you, too,” Will replied as he tugged Hannibal closer, a small, disbelieving huff of laugher ghosting across Hannibal’s neck.

Hannibal held him tight, pressing kisses to his face, his cheeks, his mouth. “Love,” he said wondrously, looking down at Will who had gone blurry through the sheen of tears in his eyes. Will loved him.

“So simple, right?” Will replied as he leaned forward to press his mouth to Hannibal’s again. Chastely but sweetly.

“Nothing with you is simple,” Hannibal chuckled as he tucked his hand against the sharp curve of Will’s jaw. “My love for you… My love is not inconvenient, Will.”

“Good,” Will replied. “Where are we going?”

Hannibal tucked him close. He wanted him closer, but their bodies against each other was as good as he could get. “Cuba. I have a home there that I think you’ll love.”

Will was pressing kisses to his throat, his fingers gripping his back through his wet shirt. “Let’s get patched up so we don’t die, please.”

Hannibal nodded, reluctantly disentangling himself from Will’s arms. “If you come with me, Will, there’s no going home afterwards.” He needed Will to understand that much. He made a decision that could not be taken back without paying for his crimes.

“I am home, Hannibal,” he replied easily, his eyes holding Hannibal’s own meaningfully.

Hannibal smiled as he leaned forward to brush his lips against his again.