The idea of having a secret kept Abigail pacified through the mile long walk down a lonely highway. Will had to carry her for most of it, and passed the time by coaxing her to think up a story about their time in the woods. She was so little, if they were lucky she’d quickly begin to mix up her story with the truth.
If they weren’t lucky, well, for once Will was grateful she hadn’t yet mastered the transition from Daddy to Papa. Any tales about Daddy could easily be attributed to Will.
The teenage clerk at the gas station looked like she was going to piss herself when Will walked in, bruised and black-eyed and carrying a toddler with unbrushed hair. Will deposited Abigail purposefully before a rack of candy, and then turned to lean over the counter.
“Call the police,” he said, his voice a soft whisper, too low for Abigail to hear. “We’ve been abducted.”
The terrified teenager swallowed, glancing over Will’s shoulder at the empty gas pumps.
“He’s not here,” Will said, putting more urgency in his voice, “but I don’t know if he followed us. Please.”
“Daddy!” Will looked down to see his little girl triumphantly holding up a candybar that Hannibal would not approve of.
“Just a minute sweetheart,” Will said, “Daddy needs to make a call.”
“She can,” the teen swallowed again, her voice cracked a little. “She can have that if she wants?”
Will laughed, just a puff of breath. “Thank you. Please. Police?”
“Yeah, yeah course, shit, umm. D’you… d’you want a coffee or something?”
Will gave her a look, knowing he looked far less charming than he usually did, when both his eyes blinked in time with each other. “That’d be great.”
Abigail managed to eat her candybar before the police and ambulance arrived, and was already buzzing with sugar. She giggled as the EMTs looked her over, under Will’s watchful gaze, as he answered questions.
No, he’d never met the man before. No, he didn’t know why he was targeted. No, he wasn’t sure how long he’d been gone, what was the date?
Abigail didn’t have a scratch on her, but Will needed seeing to. He answered questions here, too.
No, I don’t think my ribs are broken. Yes, he hit me often. Yes, I was drugged, I’m not sure what with. Three doses, that I can remember. No, I don’t need a rape kit done.
Once Will was bandaged up, he gathered Abigail to him and asked one of the officers to call his husband.
Abigail had been gifted an entire McDonald’s happy meal by the time Hannibal arrived at the police station, looking even more ragged than he had back at the cabin, his hair a mess, face red as though he’d been crying. He didn’t spare the red cardboard box a single glance, when normally he’d be grimacing at just the smell of the grease.
“Will,” he breathed, as if they’d been parted for years and not hours. Will offered him a lopsided, broken smile.
“I’m okay,” he said. “We’re okay!”
“Daddy!” Abigail shrieked, upending her little container of fries in her haste to get to him. She began to ramble, telling an even more embellished tale of their journey to the gas station than she’d told Will, and climbed Hannibal like a tree.
Hannibal held her tightly, nose pressed to her hair, one arm extended pleadingly towards Will. Will shoved himself against Hannibal, gripping his family so tightly that Abigail gave an offended shriek of protest.
“It’s handled, “ Hannibal breathed in Will’s ear.
Will said nothing, he just let himself finally rest, finally close his eyes and breathe.
The police found nothing at the cabin but blood and the signs of a struggle, just as Will had described. An APB went out for Marcus, his phone was tracked, his credit cards were monitored, but it seemed that he had vanished without a trace.
Abigail didn’t ask about Daddy-Papa’s strange friend again.
“What did you do?” Will asked one afternoon, when Abigail was dozing in her nursery and Hannibal had poured them both a glass of wine. “When we left, before you came back.”
“They didn’t find Marcus in the cabin,” Will added, tone more firm. “He was there when we left.”
Hannibal was quiet for a moment, before bringing the glass of wine to his face, taking the nose of it. Will watched him, eyes narrowed. He was still healing from the ordeal; Marcus had fractured his cheekbone and eye socket, and the swelling was still fairly severe.
“You were going to let me kill him,” he continued, when Hannibal showed no sign of cooperating and giving an answer. “You held him still, didn’t stop me, why?”
Hannibal remained silent, just let his eyes slip to meet Will’s before blinking and looking away. He took a sip of his wine.
“How many people have you killed?” Will asked next, tone almost jovial. He took a very deliberate mouthful of wine when Hannibal flinched at the words. “Yeah, I thought so. What the fuck Hannibal?”
Hannibal didn’t have an answer. Perhaps, at one point, he might have. An excuse, a pacification.
There was a time, Hannibal knew, when he would have simply made Will disappear, played the part of a grieving widow, made arrangements for Abigail at boarding schools or even with a new family entirely. He had the perfect excuse, with Marcus still believed to be on the run.
That time was long gone, left in the shadows of Hannibal’s past, along with the opera and quiet nights alone. There was no returning to that life for him, he knew that now. If Will gave him trouble, if Will kicked up enough a fuss that Hannibal was forced to stop him…
Well, there was always the basement. Hannibal was not sure what sort of life he would live with Will’s blood on his hands.
“I am what I am,” he said slowly. “And what I am is the same man you married.”
Will scoffed. “A man with secrets,” he growled.
“Don’t we all have our secrets?”
“How many, Hannibal?”
“I don’t know,” Hannibal replied quietly, finally looking at Will. Will’s jaw worked and Hannibal swallowed. He couldn’t lie to him. No, worse than that, he didn’t want to. “Five,” he admitted, barely voiced, “since we have been married.”
Will’s brows went up and then he sat back, setting his hands to the table to push himself up. He didn’t leave the room, he just pressed his hand to his mouth and turned in slow pensive circles where he stood. At his feet, Winston yawned and toppled to his side, expecting belly rubs that never came, and Fluff -- the puppy, aptly named by Abigail -- bounced on her back feet demanding to be picked up.
“Five people,” Will confirmed. “Five people since we’ve been married. Jesus Christ, Hannibal.”
He paced a few moments more, before dragging his chair out and turning it, straddling it and leaning over the back as he glared at his husband.
“I never asked you to be a father,” he reminded him. “I never asked you to take this on, but you did. You suggested the adoption, you signed the paperwork, you have a daughter, Hannibal.”
“Do you understand what will happen if you go to prison?” Will asked next. “How will I explain to her that her Papa hurt people?”
“I won’t go to prison, Will,” Hannibal assured him, though Will just scoffed. “Not unless you decide to turn me in.”
“Every day I wake up and slot together another piece of the puzzle that’s going to put someone behind bars,” Will said. “Every day, thousands of other people wake up and do the same. You think, out of all of us, not one is ever going to follow the breadcrumbs to you .”
“You didn’t,” Hannibal said quietly, watching with unexpected distress as Will bristled. “And I have far less faith in the rest of the lot than I do in you. If anyone was going to catch me, it was going to be you.”
“And now you want me to what, cover for you?”
“I had no intentions of you ever finding out,” Hannibal said softly. “Nor do I intend to have you risk your job on my behalf. I merely ask that you do not aid in my arrest.”
“And I ask that you don’t do shit that’s going to get you arrested in the first place,” Will spat. “The hell do you think we’re going to do without-”
And then he stopped, as a few more thoughts solidified. Will got up from the chair again and went to the liquor cabinet, selecting Hannibal’s oldest whiskey from its confines. He took a long pull straight from the bottle and then turned to level Hannibal with a glare. “The Chesapeake Ripper, Hannibal? Are you fucking kidding me?”
Hannibal swallowed. “Would it soften the blow to know that I never fed anything to Abigail?”
“It is the truth regardless,” Hannibal replied. Will cursed and took another swig from the bottle, eyes on Hannibal the entire time, knowing how much it annoyed him when his precious things were used so casually.
“You fed me people,” Will stated after a moment.
“And when you went back to the scene, you took Marcus to--”
“Hannibal is he in the fucking fridge?” Will stormed back over. “He better not be in the fucking fridge, I swear to God.”
“In the freezer,” Hannibal corrected. “Downstairs.”
Will laughed, bringing both hands up to tug his hair as he mumbled curses that flowed from English into Cajun French. Pacing again, back and forth, round and round, before the whiskey finally did its job and made Will feel a little lightheaded. He sat at the table again.
“Get rid of him,” Will said, holding up a hand before Hannibal could interrupt. “And not by baking him into a fucking pie. I don’t want that thing near me or Abigail, do you understand me?”
Hannibal blinked up at him, for a moment thrown for a loop. Then he ducked his head, eyes still up and on Will’s. “Yes, Will.”
“And don’t feed me people. Ever. Again. If that shit touches my plate you are out of this house, Hannibal, and will be divorced before you even get into your goddamn Bentley.”
Hannibal’s cheeks warmed, he couldn’t help it, seeing Will this way, hearing him compromise rather than call the police, the FBI, everyone, was just… love. This is what love felt like, Hannibal realized.
“Of course,” he murmured. Will sat again, rubbing a hand over his face as his other rested over the back of the chair, wedding band catching the light. They were quiet for a time, then Hannibal reached out, taking Will’s hand and kissing his knuckles.
“I love you.”
“I said stop it,” Will muttered, but a smile was coming through despite his best efforts. “I’m still angry at you. I’m fucking livid, Hannibal.”
“I should make you sleep on the couch.”
“Surely the guest bedroom would be far enough away.”
“The couch,” Will insisted, “for the next decade .”
Hannibal kissed each and every one of Will’s fingertips, and Will didn’t know if he wanted to kiss him or hit him. He settled for pulling his hand away and trying to force a glare onto his features.
“No,” he said sternly. “I am going to check on our child. You are going to hide a body. Thoroughly . Because I swear to god, Hannibal, if they find it, I’ll tell everyone you’ve been holding me hostage all this time.”
Hannibal smiled at him, small and soft and so genuine that it hurt to look at. Will huffed, running a hand through his hair.
“Hurry home,” he said softly.