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The Box

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While Will wasn’t a fan of the crush of crowds and he had little love of ‘charity get-togethers’ he was however, a good friend. Or at least he tried to be. So when Hannibal had almost sheepishly admitted that he would rather send a donation rather than attend a charity auction because of the increasingly large number of society mothers with their eyes on a reputable doctor for their miserable offspring to entrap into marriage, Will had without second thought volunteered to go along as matron repellant.

 

“Because if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s naturally repelling people,” had been his words and was surprised when his admission earned him a long slow look of interest before Hannibal had acquiesced.

 

It had taken the efforts of Beverly and a friend of a friend to find him a suit that wouldn’t embarrass Will in the company of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Though it had taken the better part of two hours after the fact to convince himself that he would be able to use the suit for other things and that made it had made the ridiculous price tag worth it. And in a purely non-self-absorbed way, it did look good on him.

 

His opinion of the grey suit with its black shirt-tie combo was seconded by the way Hannibal’s eyes took it in and then went for a second look when Will rung the doorbell of the man’s home in Baltimore. “Are you ready to be defended like a maiden?” Will asked to break the moment of discomfort he was experiencing.

 

Hannibal barely held in an impolite eye-roll, before he gestured Will inside for a moment so that he could get his things put together before they left. “I usually feel rather like a fresh animal haunch put out for prospective buyer with no say of my own as to who could procure my form.”

 

Snorting, not even trying to be polite, Will grinned and rocked back on his heels, his hands going into his overcoat’s pockets. “I will make sure that everyone knows your haunch is off the butcher’s block.”

 

“For which I am highly grateful.” Hannibal finished pulling on his driving gloves and gestured back to the door. “While it is impolite of me to not offer you refreshments and keep you standing in the entryway, we risk running late for our dinner reservations.”

 

Will arched an eyebrow. “Dinner before the show? I was not expecting that.”

 

“Think of it as my way of paying for my protection. I have found a place that meets my standards yet will appeal to your palate.” Hannibal guided Will with a single hand to the small of his back and held the door of the Bentley.

 

“Oh really? Is this place like Atlantis because I didn’t think such a miraculous place could exist… especially not in Baltimore.” Will asked clearly surprised.

 

Hannibal tipped his head, acknowledging the issue with some of the eaters in the greater Baltimore area. While a fair few met his standards and a number were acceptable to Will, there were almost none that fell into both categories.

 

The drive was surprisingly short and Will blinked in surprise at the small nondescript building Hannibal led him to after parking in an out of the way lot. “This is highly unexpected.”

 

“I was only made aware of this eatery a short time ago. It is not perhaps a traditional pre-charity function, but still I believe it is one that you will find far more pleasing.” Hannibal held open the door and gestured an intrigued looking Will inside.

 

Just inside the door an older woman of Asian decent stood waiting with a pleasant smile on her face. “Good evening, Dr. Lecter. Mr. Graham. We are pleased to have you with us tonight.”

 

Hannibal nodded. “Thank you, Madam Han.”

 

“We have a private area set for you and your preselected assortment ready to begin service as soon as you are seated.” With a small gestured Madam Han led them through a small open seating area with a few occupied tables and Will breathed in the scent of foreign spices and hot steam.

 

In a small hallway, she held out a hand to an open door where a private table was set for two and a gently steaming pot of tea was being placed on the table by a server.

 

“If you would, please bring the first course.” Hannibal asked the server as he helped Will out of his coat and handed it along with his own to Madam Han.

 

The server nodded and left quickly while the hostess made her way out of the room.

 

“Dim sum? High end dim sum… but…” Will grinned at him, for once pleased to eat something with Hannibal that wasn’t made by the doctor’s two hands.

 

“As I said, it is an atypical meal, but I believe you will be very pleased with the quality.” Hannibal poured them both a cup of rich smell light tea and lifted his to acknowledge his dinner partner.

 

Will laughed and did the same before taking a drink as the first round of bamboo steam baskets were wheeled into the room.

 

-0-0-

 

“I might be willing to let you talk me into more of these charity evenings if we have those little shrimp purses again.” Will said almost groaning in pleasure. He had never taken true pleasure in food until he’d met Hannibal. After meeting Hannibal, he couldn’t help but wonder how he hadn’t put on a pant size or two.

 

Hannibal smiled as he continued to watch the road as he drove them on to the auction house holding the event. “I will keep that in mind. Especially since there is a benefit for the local forest preservation later in the month… and the head of the board of that particular society has a son she would love to marry off to someone other than the television idol he’s attached himself to.”

 

Turning his head, Will read the discomfort in Hannibal’s body language and almost reached out. The only thing that held him back was the fact that Hannibal’s eyes spoke of disgust more than anything else. “Is it the male part that makes you uncomfortable, because I doubt I need to remind you that I am male and your ‘date’ for the evening?”

 

“The male anatomy doesn’t cause any hesitation, the sheer number of sex tapes the young man has put out does. I am not one to share, not even a captured image.” Hannibal said as he brought the car to a stop outside of the auction house and waited for the valet to come for his keys before he opened the door.

 

Will followed his moves and handed his coat off to be checked as they came into the large hall the auction was being held in. He was instantly on alert because of the sheer number of eyes that landed on the pair as they entered the room. It took him a long moment of looking around to realize that the hunger in most of the eyes were for gossip and information to trade, nothing too nefarious. The rest of the hunger was sexual and directed mostly at Hannibal, though he did take note of a couple that were more in his direction. “I’ll need a drink for this, I think.”

 

With a nod, Hannibal put a hand to his back and gently guided him through all of the groups of murmuring and side-glances. “Perhaps we both will.”

 

It took a short moment to make it around the room and to the bar. While Hannibal got their drinks, Will made a point of finding all of the ones who were giving him the stink eye while seeming to coach their attached children.

 

“Here you are. I think this will suit your tastes.” Hannibal said presses a glass into his hand.

 

Will accepted it, even while making direct eye contact with one matron in particular, who seemed to be looking him over for weakness. “Thank you.” He murmured without breaking eye contact until she looked away and then took her apparent child away.

 

“My dear friend, I would say you have almost a sadistic enjoyment out of this.” Hannibal murmured into his glass of passable pinot. It wasn’t up to his standard, but for a charity event it was more than he had been prepared for.

 

Will shrugged, sipping at the whiskey that Hannibal had procured specifically for him since wine was not his preferred drink. “I came from the part of the south where there’s still parties to present high-borns to society. I know the type and if I can cause them a moment of discomfort by just breathing their precious air, then I am more than happy to be your de facto date.”

 

Hannibal smiled one of his small true smiles and tipped his glass in thanks to Will. “To which you have my thanks. If I had known you were such a successful deterrent I would have asked for your assistance long ago. This is perhaps the first time I have been able to enjoy a social gathering other than my own in ages.”

 

With a smirk, Will slipped his free hand into Hannibal’s elbow and they began to circle before their stationary position had invited the braver of the mothers to approach.

 

As they walked through the beautiful displays of some rather not beautiful pieces, Hannibal commented of various ones and waxed almost poetic about a short bronze handled dagger he would love to add to his collection.

 

Will allowed him to have his fun because it was possibly the first time he had been allowed to see Hannibal the European noble, rather than the expat. While it wasn’t what he believed was the true Hannibal, Will felt it was another facet of him that made the whole man.

 

During their tour through the last row of trinkets and baubles, Will brought them to a pause by an ancient looking but somehow intact box. “This is different.” He murmured, his eyes trying to see something about the rather plain looking wooden box.

 

Hannibal tilted his head and looked at the box and its information card. “Believed to date to the late Roman era, this box was the type to be used to hold official documentation for safe passage from Rome to its many outposts. Yes, this does rather stand out, doesn’t it? What, however, caught your eye about it?”

 

“I’m not sure really. Maybe just the plainness of it or…” Will shrugged as he bent at the waist to look closer. His empathy told him little because of the genuine age of the box, but it still held him.

 

A short gentle sound from the string orchestra in the corner before going quiet drew everyone’s attention, and sending Hannibal and Will back to their chairs so that the auction could begin.

 

When the box came up, Will almost choked as Hannibal instantly put up a four digit bid and took the box with no counter bidding. “Why did you buy that?” He hissed into Hannibal’s ear and grasped lightly at the man’s haute evening jacket.

 

Hannibal smiled and then lifted his hand on a bid for the dagger he wanted.  “Because I have never seen anything or, really, anyone keep your attention for so long.”

 

Will wanted to protest but he could admit to himself it was a bit of an oddity. There were few things that caught and kept his eye. That box and Hannibal himself were the only current occupants on that list. Though, once as a child, a horse on a neighbor’s farm had done the same.

 

When he had also taken the top bid for the dagger, Hannibal relaxed as none of the rest of the items had caught his eye. Turning slightly in his seat, he studied Will even as Will’s eyes were once more on the box where it had been set after the winning bid had been gaveled. Without forethought, Hannibal reached up and brushed some of Will’s slowly lengthening curls out of the way so he could see Will more clearly.

 

The touch made Will’s head turn to him and for a moment when their eyes locked Hannibal almost saw someone else looking out of Will’s eyes. Without much thought to propriety, Hannibal rose and laced fingers with Will. They left, pausing only long enough for Hannibal to give his banking info to the proper people and make the arrangements for the delivery of the two acquisitions.

 

-0-0-

 

The next morning was surprisingly not awkward. Hannibal made a light omelet that they shared in bed and then bypassed good manners and left the dish on the bedside table for a little while.

 

Once they had actually made it downstairs, Will sighed as he stood in the door where it opened out onto the backyard from the kitchen. He was carefully not looking at Hannibal because he knew he would blush so hard there was a good chance he would pass out. “I suppose we need to talk about what we did… last night and this morning.”

 

Hannibal paused from where he had been chopping herbs for the meat he was planning to roast. Wiping his hands he went over to where Will stood and pressed against his back. Laying his lips on the spot below Will’s ear, he took a long slow kiss before speaking. “What is there to speak about, Will? We were two consenting adults who took a great deal of pleasure in one another’s company… Many times.” He said with a slight chuckle when he felt Will’s skin warm with a blush under his lips.

 

“On the surface… but there’s the FBI and the crazy thing… Jack will really not like it either.” Will said even as he couldn’t help leaning into Hannibal. He had been comforted by Hannibal’s presence since almost day one. It was a strange instinct that he wasn’t sure where came from. When his brain wasn’t being the screaming distrustful thing it usually was, he couldn’t help but feeling wholly and completely safe, no matter the situation so long as Hannibal was beside him.

 

“Jack has little to say about it. He is the one who wanted everything under the table, so if he were to protest now he would come off like a homophobic ass.” Hannibal reached and wrapped one arm around Will’s middle, taking care not to trap his arms. “This is ours… we have no need to allow anyone in that we don’t want to.”

 

Will chuckled and leaned back even more. “I wish it were going to be that easy… but I think… it’s worth it.”

 

Humming under his breath, Hannibal nuzzled Will’s curls. “I concur. Whatever comes, this will be worth the effort.”

 

“Though it does beg the question, what now. What comes next, Doctor Lecter?” Will asked closing his eyes and breathing deeply, not allowing his mind to rush off as it was wont to do.

 

“Whatever we like for the long term. For the short term, I think we need to simply enjoy this new addition to our relationship and explain only when it is absolutely necessary.” Hannibal shifted to lay his chin onto Will’s shoulder, waiting for his response.

 

Will didn’t respond for a long moment before he tipped his head back. “And what do we do about the leg of lamb you have back there that I’m pretty sure isn’t lamb?”

 

Hannibal froze for a moment and then his body relaxed when he realized that Will was in his arms and not trying to run or turn him in or anything else even though he seemed to know what sort of meat they were partaking in. “What do you believe it to be, if not lamb?”

 

“Human… probably female by the general size and shape of it.” Will said as he turned his head just enough to glance at the meat.

 

“How long have you suspected the source of my meat of choice?” Hannibal asked, his arms never moving from around Will’s waist.

 

It took Will a couple of moments to think about it before responding. “Probably that time I was watching you cook for Jack and I.  I did a lot of hunting as well as fishing when I was young… what I could catch or kill was usually all I had to eat some nights. So… I know what animal organs look like. Those you were cooking? Most definitely not animal.”

 

“And you still ate.” Hannibal said it half as a question half in amazement.

 

“We’re meat. In the end… we are no different than the beef on the hoof or the deer in the woods. We like to think of ourselves as more advanced, but really it’s just ridiculous pride. We breath, we eat, we shit, we die and decay. Do our supposed advancements make us better than them? Especially when our byproducts pollute everything nearby. We destroy our own planet with a shrug. It’s pointless to define us as better when we do so much harm.” Will shrugged and shook his head.

 

“You use the exact same reason many vegetarians to not eat animals to pass off the taboo of cannibalism.” Hannibal said with a confused tone.

 

Will nodded. “I don’t like the idea of eating someone I knew… but it’s no different than I wouldn’t want to eat a pet rabbit I’d raised. And, knowing you, they probably weren’t the best people in the world anyway. Do I want to eat human? No, not particularly. But I don’t care about it either. I don’t like that you’ve killed people… but so have I… I try to avoid hypocrisy.”

 

Making a little noise, Hannibal held Will closer. “I had almost allowed myself to imagine you joining me in my hunting.”

 

“Doubtful. Will I ever? Who knows. Will I stop you? Only if you become a danger to yourself or to those around us.” Will reached down to the arm holding him and griped the wrist. “Your choice of meat is the only thing that could come between us. Not the type but the location and timing. You will get caught if you keep going as you are… but I think you were so desperate for someone to see you, that you were subconsciously hoping to get caught. Now, I see you and you will hunt more carefully.”

 

Hannibal didn’t hesitate as he nodded. “I would not bring trouble to our doorstep while you reside here.”

 

“Good. Because Jack is going to be looking for things to break us up. He will do anything to keep his pet well heeled under his control. He won’t like the risk of another stepping into his supposed territory.” Will turned and frowned at the sad look in Hannibal’s eyes. It took his only a few seconds to place its cause. “I can’t promise I’ll never leave, but I can promise that it will take something incredible to make me.”

 

“It is a weight that rides the back of my subconscious every time I make a connection to another person… that if I become attached I will one day feel them detach from me… probably by force.”  Hannibal admitted as he pressed his face into Will’s neck and breathed in the scents around him. It was partially the shower scrub he’d used that morning while they showered together and under that there was still a lingering scent of their shared pheromones.

 

Will lifted his head and allowed Hannibal to press in tightly. “Even if we get separated by force… we’ll find our way back together. Won’t we?”

 

“Always… no matter how many lifetimes I have to hunt for you.” Hannibal swore into Will’s neck and griped him tighter.

 

“Always.” Will murmured in return and closed his eyes to enjoy the beating of Hannibal’s heart against his chest.

 

-0-0-

 

“Your box has arrived.” Hannibal announced as soon as Will answered the phone.

 

Will paused where he was picking up after his last class of the day at Quantico. “Oh yeah? Have you decided where to put it yet?”

 

Hannibal stared down into the shipping crate. “I had thought to put it in the bedroom. Possibly in a free-standing shelf between the doors onto the balcony.”

 

In his head, Will easily pictured it and nodded enough though he was on the phone. “That’ll be nice.”

 

“I have also arranged for a small surprise for your stay tonight.” Hannibal couldn’t help a small smirk as he gently closed the package back to protect the centuries old box.

 

The tone made Will grin. “Do you really? Now I’m going to be driving all the way there wondering… and stuck in evening rush hour.”

 

“There might also be some Madam Han’s dim sum to make the offer more enticing.” Hannibal said his smirk growing into a full smile.

 

“And now I’ll be hungry as well as curious.” Will moaned as he hurriedly finished putting away his things.

 

“Think of it as an incentive to drive quickly, but safely.” Hannibal said and then ended the call, knowing the leave-off would tease Will all the more.