Once they were able to get out of the States, Will had promptly insisted they travel South. Warmer climate, fewer ties, easier escape route.
Hannibal, being the contrarian he’s always been, suggested somewhere in Scandinavia. He’d told Will of his many extravagant residences in Norway and Finland, but Will, still incensed about the change of direction, had insisted on the small Danish farmland home that Hannibal mentioned briefly and quietly.
There had been tickets bought privately, cruise line employees desperate for hard cash under the radar of their employment, and dingy quarters offered to them with a broken sink on the bottom deck of the boat which would be giving them passage.
One man during these negotiations stuck out.
The first rude person either of them had encountered since their battle. A steerage engineer who attempted to swindle Hannibal for more money than they had already given, with threats about tipping off the press. Will isn’t sure how either of them managed to stay cordial, but Hannibal did order him to stay put in their room as he settled the matter.
He didn’t return for three hours.
Will didn’t ask what Hannibal had done or said, or about any arbitration.
They were both past the point of bothering to inquire or explain.
Only in the middle of the night when both of them were awake from the searing pain of their injuries, did Hannibal agree that sailing to the South would be the most viable option once they were finished healing in Bredsten.
Will almost harnessed enough energy to sock Hannibal in the face with a closed fist, but instead he scoffed out a hoarse laugh and fell asleep.
Months were spent drearily in Bredsten, Danmark when they arrived.
Will healed faster than Hannibal, but when the cold winter months rolled along, he still wasn’t healed enough to shovel snow from the stone steps that lead to their front door. His arm would ache ruthlessly, sending brutal shocks up and down his side.
“Feels like I’m in Virginia,” Will tells him one evening over dinner. “Snow for miles.”
“I know you expected warmer climates,” Hannibal says, fractionally apologetic. “The colder weather will convince us to spend more time indoors, better for healing. And I assumed you’d feel more at home here, than in Argentina.”
“Home can be anywhere,” Will mumbles, poking at the wood-grilled salad in front of him with a fork. “I don’t mind being knee deep in snow for the holidays, though.”
Inclining his head in thought, Hannibal merely hummed and they finished their meals in comfortable silence.
Will discovers much about the Danish culture while living in Bredsten.
There are times he spends so long in town, circling in and out of glass art shops and general stores, that he ponders the idea he may have been born in the wrong country.
Louisiana had never clicked with him. Gumbo and jazz, two things he steadfastly grew to hate. His father had often taken him on trips into New Orleans, left him alone as he seeked out phony job offers. The city life grated on his nerves, the feelings and sensations of the people around him cascading his brain with waves of pain and pleasure, confusing the two and leaving him a confused, easily irritated child.
The people of Bredsten are the opposite of the current weather. They are warm and welcoming, eager to surround Will with hugs and firm clasps on the hands and shoulders, friendly and physically affectionate in ways Will has never known average Americans to be.
Despite his eagerness to escape to the tropics, he falls head over heels for the small village.
Will searches for a job to maintain appearances. Hannibal would have as well if he weren’t twice as famous as Will. He doubts many folk in Scandinavia know who Hannibal the Cannibal is, but at least it’s certain they won’t recognize his partner in crime who Jack Crawford has stubbornly not confirmed dead or alive yet.
He briefly considers hunting down a marina, working on boats on some distant docks, far from his and Hannibal’s cottage by the river.
With Jack still on his mind, he knows that’s a poor idea. Jack knows what Will finds comfort in; working on boat motors would draw attention to them.
Being in a farming village, Will eventually finds part-time work fixing other towns folk's farm houses and fences. It’s simple work, to readjust a picket fence after a storm, even easy work in the winter. It only bothers his arm occasionally.
Speaking with the sheep is a perk, as is petting their furry four-pawed shepherds.
Occasionally, he forgets himself and loses himself in the routine, until he comes home to Hannibal’s ambient company. At home, he is swept away in genial and intelligent conversation, remembering again why he chose this over a domestic, simple, familial life.
Hannibal, starved for discussion while Will is away in town, and a bit stir crazy from having the privilege of significant travel withdrawn, often goes overboard with their meals.
Will can’t complain. He enjoys the food every time, and he’s never had a more balanced diet.
They sleep in the same bed, as they did on the boat.
They don’t touch, and Will doesn’t think about touching for a long time, not until the temperatures start dropping, the winter growing steadily bitter. Only then does he begin to wonder how warm Hannibal is, in comparison to the bite of chilly air finding it’s path from the open window to his bare skin.
When they wake in the morning, they are always a few inches closer to one another, still not touching. Never touching.
As the routine goes, Will whispers to him that he’s heading to work or into town for supplies and Hannibal rarely ever opens his eyes when he offers to make him something to eat. Will always tells him, “I’ll grab something. Go back to sleep.”
The domesticity of their relationship frightens him as much as it excites, but Will can’t claim this isn’t exactly what he pictured they’d be like together when he’d wanted to run with him all those years ago.
That is, until he comes home from work one afternoon to find the living room altered.
A large pine tree stands tall in the corner, strewn with roped-wires of pale white lights. It glows, angelic, and matches the ivory and gold accents of their already quaint space.
Will’s eyes fall to the candle on the large storage chest, the top of which has been bare their entire stay save the skinny lamp. The candle is thin, tall and white, and has large black numbers one to twenty-four labeled down the column of it. The ‘1’ has disappeared, the flame having engulfed it. Something tells him he should blow out the candle before it consumes the number ‘2’ and so he does.
Wax dribbles down the side as smoke rises from the blown out wick. It smells like campfire.
Hannibal emerges from the kitchen with rolled up sleeves and a priggish grin.
“Hannibal, what?” is all Will can manage.
“Today is December 1st,” Hannibal explains, like that solves anything.
“So, you bought a Christmas tree?” Will once again acknowledges how huge it is. At least two feet taller than both of them. “Because what, we’re celebrating Christmas?”
“Jul is tradition in Danmark, Will. One far more cultural than materialistic, unlike American Christmas, though I often found my most pleasant dinner parties in Baltimore to be held around the winter holiday,” Hannibal steps further into the room, admiring the tree and the candle. “I find I miss it.”
“You celebrated Christmas?” Will asks, neither bothered nor thrilled.
“Celebrated is a loose term. I had no family visit me, as I have no family. Thus, I didn’t exchange presents, or decorate my home aside from the nights I held my dining parties. Even then, they were often tucked away in my basement the moment the guests left.”
“And you want to celebrate it…with me,” Will intuits. Hannibal lets out a mildly chagrined sigh, and crosses the room, circles around the coffee table, so he can stand in front of him.
“If the idea is unsuitable to you, the tree will be gone by the time you come home from work tomorrow.” He shoots a meaningful glance at the tree. “However, I did choose a classical pine tree for you, as I thought you would find comfort in the shape, and the familiarity. The traditional Danish trees are often stout, short, and covered in real candles.”
“Fire hazard,” Will murmurs, suppressing a smile.
“Perhaps another reason for my choice,” Hannibal muses, observing the numbered candle. “You mentioned something about the Holidays, and I considered this a feasible distraction for us while we surrender to our bodies stitching themselves back together.”
“Do we need a distraction? I didn’t notice.”
Hannibal’s lips curl up. “Maybe not a distraction, but some harmless fun.”
“Fun?” Will scoffs. “This is fun for you?”
“I find the idea of creating traditions with you quite appealing,” Hannibal admits, even-toned. “The question is, if you’ll allow it.”
Will looks to the candle, smoke long since dissipated above the blackened wick. He thinks about how he knew precisely why he needed to blow it out. He thinks about Christmas when he was a child, and can’t remember ever having a tree. He thinks about Christmas with Molly, and remembers driving eight hours to her parents’ town, to an already-decorated house and loud, boisterous, unfamiliar family members. How he felt like one of the seamless, sparkling gifts under the tree rather than a guest.
“You made a place for us,” Will murmurs, and turns to meet Hannibal’s eyes. The glint of Christmas lights shine in his patient eyes. “Did you have this in mind when that place was in construction?”
“Very often,” Hannibal admits softly, and Will nods.
“Like you said, harmless fun. I’m not watching Christmas movies.”
“I wouldn’t dream of asking you to,” Hannibal says, jubilance taking over his calm exterior.
Hannibal explained the candle to Will, later in the month.
The Danes call it a Kalenderlys. It is a physical countdown to Christmas Eve, as Will suspected, but is about more than just a holiday calendar. Danish winters are harsh and dark, darker than any Will have ever experienced. It is metaphorical in a way, to light the candle and shield oneself from the encroaching wave of darkness. The numbers count down to the day, that by definition, will be lighter in every sense of the word. Those that honor hygge, as most Danes do, consider it more than tradition and rather fundamental.
Hygge, Will had never heard of, even in his brief word searches online, seldom enough to barely carry him through necessary interactions with the locals.
Hannibal elaborates for him in their ivory marbled kitchen one evening.
“The direct translation would be fun,” he tells him. “In true Danish parlance, it would mean overall to create a warm and stress-free atmosphere, full of conviviality and enjoyment of good friends and good endeavors.”
“Wasn’t Danmark the world’s happiest country for a while?” Will questions, cutting thin slices of a cucumber for the meal Hannibal is putting together. “Now I understand why.”
“Under normal circumstances, this would be my last choice for residence in Scandinavia only because it is near impossible to discover a rude man or woman residing in this crowd,” Hannibal says, sidling up to him to inspect his work. “Thinner, Will.”
“Going as thin as I can manage.” Will grunts, cutting with a bit more vigor. “I don’t understand how they calculate happiness. Seems impossible to me.”
“Not impossible, just difficult to maintain accuracy. Externally happy people are often correlated with the internally somber. They put on a front to avoid putting others out. People are more than happy to accept another’s happiness at face value, because it leaves less room for them to deal with another’s issues. The human is a selfish creature.”
“Why do you think I lived with that many dogs?”
Hannibal hums, gathering Will’s cucumber slices into a bowl and giving him another to work on, “Just in case,” he excuses, if they need extra strips.
After a moment of chopping and stirring, Will looks over his shoulder to catch Hannibal’s rippling shoulder blades in his peripheral. Hannibal doesn’t pause in his mixing when he asks, “Are you happy?”
He barely misses a beat.
“A silly question, Will. Don’t you think I’d be happy anywhere that isn’t the cage I’ve come to know and detest for the past three years?”
“Is that a jab?” Will asks cooly.
Hannibal turns so Will can see his easy expression.
“No, it is merely the truth. I am happy here, as I would be happy anywhere with you at my side,” he tells him, and Will turns back to face his half shucked cucumber. His grip tightens on the handle of his butcher knife, then after a pause, he continues cutting.
“Are you going to pick out ornaments for the tree?” Hannibal asks, disallowing Will his space as he brings the salad bowl to the counter Will is working at. “I suspect red and gold would accent the room well.”
“You want me to buy decorations?” Will asks, dumbfounded. He slips and cuts his finger when he’s not looking and hisses. The knife drops to the cutting board with a loud clang.
“Oh, here, let me see,” Hannibal murmurs, taking Will’s right hand in both of his own, and examines the small cut on his forefinger.
Will considers tearing his arm away or closing his eyes, but he does neither, and allows Hannibal to watch a droplet of blood bead at the tip. Hannibal licks his lips, most likely unintentional, but Will startles at his own urge to offer his finger to Hannibal’s lips, to be licked clean.
Instead, Hannibal swipes away the drop of blood with a thumb, and drags Will to the sink. “It would do better with open air than a bandage. Wash your hands and I’ll let you off the hook until dinner.”
Will sighs, and nods, doing as he’s told.
He leaves Hannibal to finish the salad, and waits in the living room.
While he waits for dinner to be served, he observes the tree thoughtfully. The white lights are shining bright. Hannibal turns them on around four pm, and turns them off right before bed. For several days, that routine hasn’t changed. Will can imagine how tacky it will look with ornaments, but he’s already thinking about where he can find some.
Will is working on Tarben’s horse stables the next morning.
Tarben is the closest thing to a friend Will can claim since setting foot in this country. He speaks English, and cheerfully slips into it whenever Will comes about to do some handwork on his farm. He has a few dogs, who adore Will, and at first it was the only reason Will looked forward to being commissioned by his Bredsten neighbor.
The man is constantly exuding hospitality, and a special brand of humor Will has grown accustomed to. He looks forward to his conversation now, on a certain level, no matter how banal.
“Hamish, there’s no reason you shouldn’t come to Tivoli Gardens for Jul,” Tarben tells him, taking the time to groom his horse Nellie while Will fixes the bolts on the gate of her stable. “Bring your, ehm, room mate?”
“My roommate doesn’t do well with crowds,” Will lies. “This has got to be the fifth time you’ve told me to visit the Gardens.”
“You’re becoming Danes. It is a right of passage, my kammerat.”
Will sucks in a breath, and lays his screwdriver down on the pile of hay he's kneeling on. He turns and curses himself for suggesting this; “Thorkild may be hosting a little dinner party when Christmas gets closer. Would you and your wife like to come?”
“You would have us?” Tarben asks, delighted.
Will smiles. “Of course, Tarben. You’ve been nothing but helpful. You’ll have to apologize to Lisbeth though, I know she’s not as savvy with the English as you are, and my Danish is piss poor.”
“All my wife needs is food in her belly, and a warm drink. She won’t be bothered by anything if she is given at least that.”
“Thorkild can manage that and then some,” Will promises, chuffed. He picks up his tools, and gets back to work. The gate only needs one final adjustment before he can pack up for the day. He pauses again, once more, and asks, “Hey. Do you know the best shop to go to for ornaments?”
Will’s eyes had either been closed on every drive into the next towns over, or the Christmas shops had all taken root as of today. He can’t remember seeing the red and white streamers before, or the general store turned into a seasonal stop. There are men and women on the streets, dancing and caroling. There are lights hanging from lamp posts, connecting to telephone lines.
In the distance, Will can hear music flowing from a speaker, sung in a foreign voice.
He has to go to one of the towns connecting to Bredsten for a wider selection of ornaments, and when he gets out of the car to enter the store, he’s startled by the wallspace inside. The shop is consumed with decorations, so tacky and clustered it almost looks normal.
“God Jul!” is shouted at him from the cash register where a scrawny, middle-aged, blonde woman stands small. Her smile is benign, and her hands uncalloused from years of gentle work, wave at him.
“Uh, God Jul,” Will’s mouth twitches between a smile and a frown, then he heads in the direction of the ornaments. There are plastic boxes, filled with basic red and golden spheres. He gathers a few in his arms, but he’s overcome with the urge not to be basic.
He tries to muddle through questioning the shopkeep, but the woman doesn’t speak English. He wants to know what she would consider ‘unique’ decorations. Eventually, through a Google search, and some more awkward muddling, she directs Will to a wall strung up with boxed lanterns. There are stars, diamond shapes, hearts, lots of hearts actually, and stag heads.
He takes a few stag heads off the rack, and some stars.
When he checks out, he’s struck with a strange feeling. Like he’s died and gone to purgatory. It doesn’t feel right, standing here buying decorations for Christmas, but he can’t escape the invisible loop that’s dragging him through the never ending cycle that is Hannibal’s influence. He hadn’t cared about the holidays before; it’s as if Hannibal put the idea in his head that he should be going all out, enjoying himself.
Will’s not sure either of them should be allowed to enjoy themselves considering what they’ve done, but then again, they’d paid their dues in cold, turbulent waves under a blistering night sky.
He returns home and leaves the decorations, in their respective bags, in a jumble on the coffee table. He’s shucking his jacket and boots off when Hannibal emerges from the hall.
His hair is damp, hanging over his eyes. It’s grown longer since the drop. Will had hated seeing it so short in the institution, it never looked natural.
“I bought some stuff,” Will prefaces, watching Hannibal’s eyes fall to the paper bags. He looks back up at Will.
“You smell like Tarben’s farm.”
Will snorts. “You’re lucky I’m not gonna take that as an insult. I invited Tarben over for dinner, him and his wife. I told him we’d have a dinner party, or something. If you’re okay with that.”
He hadn’t expected Hannibal’s eyes to light up. Like a child on Christmas morning, he thinks caustically. Then, seeing excitement twitch in Hannibal’s fingers, it hits him.
Hannibal has been cooped up at home like a housewife. The dignity he normally carries himself with has been absent for quite a while; time to himself, nothing to do, waiting for Will to come home, has driven a hard blow into his naturally prolific and purposeful nature. He’s too polite to bother Will with his needs, but luckily for him, Will can always manage to puzzle him out.
“You know,” Will begins, sliding his hands into his pockets as he closes in on him, “I was thinking. I’d like to go out soon.”
“Where?” Hannibal asks, delight still thrumming in his tone.
“Tivoli Gardens? Tarben keeps suggesting it, I thought maybe you and I could spend some time together outside of the house. If you think it’s safe.”
“It is probably the busiest place in Danmark this time of year,” Hannibal replies carefully, with an edge of anticipation. “While I’m tempted to enthusiastically agree, I must air on the side of caution.”
“We don’t have to stay long. I bought you something, uh,” Will turns and kneels down at the coffee table to rummage around the bags. He’d made a short pitstop at the department store next to where he’d bought the decorations. A short-lived sacrifice of his introversion to navigate the busy aisles there had been worth it in his opinion. He returns to Hannibal, and hands him a maroon scarf. It is cashmere, devilishly soft to the touch.
Hannibal stares down at it with doe eyes, yet to gather the pieces together.
“Here,” Will takes the scarf back and wraps it around his neck for him, he teases it up, so it covers Hannibal’s jawline and his lips. "Barely know who you are. You can borrow one of my old pairs of glasses too. And a hat, if you’re worried about showing your face.”
Hannibal is still wary, but he hasn’t flat out rejected Will’s idea.
“Come on,” Will urges, a sultry hint to his voice that always lures Hannibal in. “You said yourself you wanted to have fun. Holidays aren’t for being cooped up at home.”
Will startles himself by calling this place home out loud, but Hannibal is already responding before he can think too deeply on the matter.
“There was a time in your life you would have turned your nose up at any situation that may have required you to be sociable,” Hannibal says, running his fingers down the soft fabric of the scarf. His nostrils flare as he inhales the scent.
“I’ve never had an issue being sociable with you,” Will admits freely.
The truth of the statement makes Hannibal duck his head, and for the first instance in his time knowing the man, Will is forced to classify an expression of his as approaching bashful.
“What are you cooking?” Will asks, sniffing the air. There is a scent wafting in from the kitchen, similar to pancakes with a tangy hint to it.
“What have I baked, ” Hannibal corrects joyously, keeping the scarf around his neck while he leads Will to the tray of popover looking treats. They are spherical, and there are about a dozen of them, powdered, with a tray of jelly at their side.
“We can hardly celebrate the holidays in Danmark without Æbleskiver. Would you try one for me?” he requests. Will already has one of them resting in his palm. Hannibal helps him slather some jelly on the top and he bites into it.
It tastes like a popover, but sweeter. There is a wink of apple.
“That’s damn good,” Will tells him. He had always preferred subtler snacks rather than sharp candies and excessively salted chips. Vinegar is usually a nightmare. But these, these are perfect.
“I’ll be asking for these again,” he adds.
“We should serve them at the party. Tarben and his wife will be expecting them. As well as Gløgg,” Hannibal says, taking one for himself. He eats it delicately and sparingly, unlike how Will had eaten his own in just two hungry bites.
“Say that word again.”
Will chuckles. “Hell, that’s a funny word.” Even funnier when a serial killer is saying it.
A look of understanding crosses Hannibal’s face. “Ah, I see. The Danish are known for having a somewhat garbled language. It is probably the least refined in all the Scandinavian dialects.”
“Just don’t make me try and say that. Tarben and Lisbeth are never going to want to visit again.”
“Once again, I'll suggest avoiding the Danish word for bread, in that case,” Hannibal remarks, moving to the sink to wash his hands. Will shadows him, but only to shoot a remark of his own.
“Hey, it was just that one time with the store clerk. I’m still not sorry I apparently humiliated you.”
“It would be best if we keep to the English, even for the dinner party.” Hannibal turns to face Will when he’s dried his hands. “Do you have any requests for food?”
“Do I dare ask for something with meat?” Will asks, quirking a brow up. God knows what Hannibal does or harvests while he’s sleeping or working, not that he cares too exponentially.
“Like I said,” Hannibal murmurs playfully, “There is a shortage of rude individuals in this corner of the world. It would be like poaching the last white rhino.”
“And yet you’ve got a taste for the ivory.”
“A taste I’ve shelved away for three years, and can continue to do so until we are in a more stable situation. Uncle Jack hasn’t confirmed our deaths quite yet.”
Will doesn’t realize how close they are until Hannibal moves away, off toward the living room, and the heat of his breath no longer tickles his skin.
He follows him, asking, “You have to be dead to be what you are again?”
“No, but I care to take extra precaution in this new life. You are a most precious commodity. There will be no risks while we are together, at least no overt ones. I wish to continue waking up to your voice, and cooking you dinners, for as long as I have left.”
“You make it sounds like you’re terminally ill,” Will mutters. He watches Hannibal rummage through the decorations, and feels a spike of warmth in his gut from the affirmations. He didn’t know Hannibal held such attachment over their morning and evening routines.
“Not ill no,” Hannibal says, head swaying to the side. “Afflicted maybe.”
“By me?” Will asks carefully.
“Don’t take it as an insult,” Hannibal tells him, an affectionate smile spreading across his cheeks. “If you desire meat at our table, I will be sure to provide for us. There is a butcher I’ve become acquainted with in the next town over.”
Will reels from the subject change, but doesn’t prod him further.
“As long as the butcher isn’t the meat.”
Hannibal’s eyes sparkle with the notion and Will snaps his fingers.
“No,” he reaffirms. “Don’t even consider the puns.”
Hannibal concedes with a cat-like tilt of the head, and Will moves to the bags and takes out the boxes of ornaments. The red and golden spheres, covered in shimmering glitter, are shiny and new.
Will clears his throat. “Want to put these up with me?”
Hannibal’s face practically melts. It makes Will want to take it back, almost frightened by the onslaught of fondness hurtling in his direction, all from Hannibal. But, he likes it too. It stings decently, like salt water flowing over an open wound.
“If you won’t mind me being fastidious.”
“When are you not?” Will tosses back with a smile.
Hannibal starts a fire, and clears the mantel above the hearth to make room for some of the new lanterns. They glow dimly in contrast to the flame, but it is understated enough to tickle Will’s fancy. He’s never cared for tacky or bright flourish. It feels homier this way.
Hannibal tells Will of his plan to make the tree look as symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing as possible, and Will follows his instructions as devoutly as he can manage. He doesn’t have an artistic bone in his body, and he likes following directions when it comes to things like this, so he doesn’t complain. When they’re finished, the tree has rows upon rows of gold and red bulbs, round and glistening from where they rest amongst the pine needles and Christmas lights. It looks splendidly like a Hallmark movie. Will loves it because he hates it.
And because Hannibal never allows himself to be left out, he reveals to Will decorations he’d purchased personally while Will had been at work.
It is traditional to hang a braided heart out for Jul as it happens, and instead of purchasing one, Hannibal sits Will down and teaches him how to braid his own.
While the process is taxing, Will feels oddly accomplished seeing his white and red braided heart hanging parallel to Hannibal’s on the tree. Several red squares cover the middle of the heart, one of the half moon shapes at the top is red as well. The rest of the adornments are eggshell white.
By the time they’re finished, the fire has dwindled to a few meager sparks.
The next day, they prepare for their trip to Tivoli Gardens.
Hannibal notifies Will it isn’t as safe on the weekends. The crowds will be too large, and not only would it be dangerous, but terribly exhausting if they wish to fully take in the sights and attractions. Will doesn’t care when they go, as long as they go.
Will is the one to wrap the scarf around Hannibal’s throat again, and to slide an old pair of glasses behind Hannibal’s ears, resting it on his nose. He almost reaches for the hat, and thinks maybe that is a step too far. Hannibal is already picking it up and putting it on. His silver-blond hair pokes out from the rim of the hat appealingly.
He’s struck with an overwhelming urge to press his lips on the soft space between Hannibal’s brows when he’s finished adjusting the scarf, so he jerks back, letting his hands drop to his sides.
“You should wear your hat,” Hannibal suggests. “It is quite chilly.”
"You want me to match you.” Will bites the inside of his cheek thinking about the knitted hat he has stuffed in the top drawer of his assigned bureau. It is the same color as Hannibal’s new scarf, and Will had thought about this when he’d bought the scarf. “Fine.”
In their room, Will slides his black morning coat on, one that had been on the coat hanger by the front door when they first arrived. It fit him perfectly, and he didn’t want to think too much on the fact. But now, with the knit hat and thick coat adorned, Will stares at himself in the mirror and feels like one of Hannibal’s ornate possessions.
He finds he doesn’t mind.
The drive from Bredsten to Copenhagen takes just under three hours. Hannibal drives, and Will ruminates while he keeps his eyes on the pale green grass out the window, frozen and dying out across fields that stretch wide between them and the city.
He thinks about how dark it will be when they return home tonight.
Will hasn’t been to the capitol yet. It startles him to witness first-hand the crowds at the gate of Tivoli, but it doesn’t deter him. Hannibal walks by his side, their shoulders brushing when they eventually enter the park.
Looming above the large arch entrance are two ginormous Nutcrackers, standing like guards overlooking the masses.
Old fashioned Christmas music is softly being played on overhead speakers. The voices of kids and parents all around them rise in pitch, to obscene levels, until they are able to dismantle themselves from the sea of tourists, and find a small crook by a large dead-leaved tree.
The tree is strewn in golden lights, many scattered around the log of the tree, and the spindly branches. If it didn’t look so gaudy, like tinsel, Will might almost feel the magic.
It isn’t until he makes eye contact with Hannibal, behind those glasses that make him look like a gentle librarian, that he feels a little bit of magic. He smiles, and asks, “Where do you want to go?”
Hannibal surprises him when he takes Will’s hand in both of his own, and squeezes tightly. His palms are warm. Their gazes are locked when he replies, “Wherever the wind takes us, my clever boy.”
The wind takes them to the market houses; Will is thirsty.
With a paper map in hand, it is easy to navigate the park. The actual garden part of Tivoli stretches all around them bricked off from tourists and blanketed in fake snow. It creates an artificial environment, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Will feels like he’s in a storybook, especially when he fully takes in the little snack shacks that are designed like gingerbread houses, pink and red, green and yellow, all patterned differently with polka dots or hearts.
Hannibal leads him past the shacks to Gemyse, a modest greenhouse restaurant. They aren’t staying for dinner quite yet; Hannibal clarifies they’re here to quench Will’s thirst.
Of course Hannibal is able to hunt down the most formal looking establishment in the entire park in a matter of minutes. The place is practically screaming Caesars Palace.
A married couple sits several tables down from them with steaming plates of steak beneath their hands which are laced together.
Will sees the man’s wedding ring, glinting silver. It reminds him he’s lost track of his own wedding ring. He hopes he never finds it; he hopes Molly threw hers away.
Hannibal orders Will and himself two glasses of Gløgg.
“So you can tell me if you like it. If you don’t, I can tweak the recipe at home,” Hannibal explains after their waiter disappears. They are seated at a two person table, in the corner by one of the glass walls. Will can see the ferris wheel from here, and realizes he’s never ridden a ferris wheel.
“I can eat or drink just about anything, Hannibal.”
“Hamish,” Hannibal chastises.
“Apologies, Thorkild. ”
It should bother Will to constantly be under the guise of a different person, but he finds it thrilling. To be on the lamb, to remember that he needs to keep his mask from slipping.
The waiter returns with two clear glasses of Gløgg. “I can make it virgin, if that pleases you more than mulled wine might,” Hannibal lets him know, nostrils flaring before he takes a sip of his drink. He turns his nose down at it, in that subtle condescending way he often does. “They made a better glass in the eighties.”
Will lets out a dry chuckle. “Trust me, you’ll want me drunk for the dinner party.” The tendons in his neck strain as he forces a large sip down his throat. It is a good burn, spicy at that. “Man, that’s strong.”
“I prefer you sober,” Hannibal responds simply, and they finish their drinks peacefully. Will continues to glance out the window toward the ferris wheel.
“Shall I take you?” Hannibal asks, setting his empty glass down.
Will turns, eyes widened a fraction. “Oh, no, we don’t…I was just thinking about, something else. I’m not about to invent the next age old joke.”
“How do you mean?”
Will raises his brows and squeezes his glass tighter in a sweaty palm, knowing in his heart Hannibal can’t be this oblivious.
“Come on. Two killers walk onto a ferris wheel. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, and Jack Crawford once recited his wedding vows to me.”
Hannibal’s lips quirk up, and he asks, “What is so ridiculous about enjoyment?”
Will sighs, remembering this trip was his idea.
“Maybe I’m having second thoughts about having a good time in public. Perhaps I’m wondering if you and I should only find pleasure in the company of one another, no one else.”
“To me, no one exists besides you today,” Hannibal tells him casually, as if it were a weather report. “Next to who we are, we are also flesh and blood. A collection of neural networks that grow excited at shiny objects and pretty music. Are we not?”
Something in Will’s stomach twists, and he forces himself to give a jerky nod.
“Will you join me on the ferris wheel? If you don’t, then I’m going to have to ride by myself. You wouldn’t humiliate me a second time, would you?”
“You’re not gonna let this go now. I didn’t even say I wanted to ride it, I don’t know why you’re – ”
“You forget how well I know you,” Hannibal broaches softly. His eyes are glimmering behind his clear frames, and Will’s heart pounds heavy in his chest.
“Lead the way, Doctor.”
Will has never felt more awkward in his life. Even dropping his own birthday cake on his tenth birthday, right in front of the neighbors, hadn’t been as bad as this. Waiting in line for a ride, with Hannibal Lecter, the one and only. For a ferris wheel, no less.
The humiliation only increased when out of a group of American tourists, a blonde woman squinted her eyes at the two of them. She stared long enough that Will had panicked and drawn Hannibal in for a hug, squishing Hannibal’s face to his neck so the woman couldn’t stare any longer. Sure enough, she turned back to her group and giggled and gossiped away like she’d seen nothing.
Will is letting go of Hannibal just as Hannibal is reaching his arms around him, trying to hug back. They pull apart awkwardly, Hannibal moreso when he silently realizes it hadn’t been a comforting or needy gesture. Will quickly mentions the woman, explains. Hannibal’s spine straightens, and he nods briskly. One of them clears their throat, Will can’t tell who.
Will keeps his eyes on his feet for the rest of the wait, thinking maybe if he stares long enough he’ll be able to see the outline of Hell. Francis Dolarhyde are you spinning in your grave?
They file into one of the rickety carts when they reach the front of the line.
Will tries to sit on the opposite bench, but Hannibal pats the miniscule space beside him and says, “Sit, the view is far better from here.”
Will doesn’t argue. He squeezes in beside Hannibal, and all the embarrassment from waiting in line drains away at the touch of Hannibal’s shoulder against his own, warm with existence right there beside him.
Will sinks into his seat, pressing a little firmer into his side.
When it starts moving, he cranes his neck up to see the sights. They are more extravagant than he anticipated. Hell, he’s not sure he’s been up this high, not since the bluff anyway. That had just been a vast ocean, nearly imperceivable in the night, and it’s not as if his eyes were on anything but Hannibal. Whereas, from here, he can see the span of the whole park. It is a conglomeration of gold and white lights, dispersed like stars in a night sky. The houses look like a village for mice, and he’s never felt larger than in this moment.
Hannibal’s breath is on his cheek, as he looks in the same direction, and Will makes the mistake of turning to meet his eyes. Their noses nearly brush, so he ducks away just as instantly.
“It’s intense,” Will murmurs, and they both know he’s not just referencing the view.
“Planning to toss us off the edge?” Hannibal teases, as the wheel steadily creaks to the top. It is slow moving, but with each inch, Will’s heart soars.
It is intoxicating, to watch the attractions, the people, the buildings all grow smaller.
“This is a different kind of beautiful,” he whispers back. “Not life or death.”
“Just existence, in its rawest form.”
Will nods. “Thanks for making me do this.”
“No, you did this yourself. You knew I would push you.”
“Like you always push me. You always know what I want, and you always know I won’t reach for it first,” he says, prepared this time when he meets Hannibal’s eyes. Hannibal has inched away slightly, to give him some space, and it disappoints Will on a level he can’t fathom. But, his face is glowing golden in the dim light from below, and the color of his eyes is barely visible, reflecting illumination. Will swipes his tongue out to wet his lips before he can stop himself.
“There are some things Will, you will have to make the leap for yourself.”
“I’d say I’m pretty good at taking leaps,” Will retorts with a short smile and goose pimples all over his body that have him on the verge of shivering.
Hannibal responds with warm fingers finding Will’s bitten ones. He wraps them around his hand, and they don’t take their eyes off of each other until the wheel begins to descend. One by one, the houses begin to grow. The voices of other guests chime like a ribbon with bells. The lights become brighter, and Will becomes self aware of Hannibal’s skin touching his own.
As they creep closer to the end, Will is awash with an overwhelming sense that he's missed a valuable opportunity.
“Now I won’t force you to ride the mini train, because both of our dignities could not withstand such a thing, however, I’d like to show you the tree. It is perhaps a tad lackluster to Rockefeller center, if you’ve ever traveled to New York, but lovely nonetheless,” Hannibal tells him when they’re stepping off the cart and onto the platform. A couple eagerly enters after they leave, and Will feels a spark of jealousy that their cart isn’t one ridden only by them.
With Hannibal’s fortune, he could probably buy the damn thing.
It is a strange, childish thought, but it stays on his mind the whole walk to the tree, during which he belatedly answers, “New York itself is lackluster. I’ve seen more culture here than I’ve seen in America in forty years.”
“Not even in New Orleans?”
“I didn’t live in New Orleans, I lived in the murky bayous just outside the suburbs. All you’d see for miles was swamp, and filthy gas stations…” he trails off when they approach the tree. They are surrounded by people, but by now, Will has easily forgotten them.
It is huge, and a whitish blue in the dark. It looks covered in snow, but Will knows that is just the decorations, thousands of snowflake ornaments and white threads of tinsel coating it like a shall. The scent of pine drifts towards them, and for a moment time stops.
Two hands firmly grip his shoulders, thumbs brushing his exposed nape. Will turns his head, but Hannibal is fully behind him, leaning close to his ear.
“Merry Christmas, Will,” he whispers, nose brushing his helix as he pulls away.
Christmas is several days away yet, but Will maneuvers his fingers into the crevices of Hannibal’s hand, and holds it tight when he says back in a low voice, “Merry Christmas, Hannibal.”
Ever since their night at Tivoli Gardens, Will has been feeling horrendously sappy. On a trip into an adjoining town for more efficient tools, he’d stopped to admire an outdoor ice skating rink, couples skating together, holding hands, and buried in thick wool coats and hats.
Out of the corner of his eye, he can see a man and a woman exchanging gifts, small wrapped boxes with bows on top. To his horror, Will realizes he hasn’t bought Hannibal a gift.
He doesn’t even know if they’re doing gifts.
It’s Christmas, and they've done everything else, so of course they’re going to be doing gifts. With Hannibal’s profile flat open in his mind, Will knows he wouldn’t give up a chance to spoil him. Even in Will’s small amount of time spent living with Hannibal, he’s been spoiled to hellish extremes. The past, anti-gift-receiving, Will Graham would have cringed at every expensive token of gratitude Hannibal presented him with.
Knowing Hannibal, the gifts he’ll be giving Will on Christmas will be flashy and theatrical. Big either in size or in expense, so Will finds himself stumped.
What does he get the man who is legally a Count and has more money than Bill Gates? Old money, at that.
He can imagine the response if he were to ask him what he wants.
Your company, dear Will, is all that I desire.
Will blows out air, feeling defeated, and glances in the direction of the mall. It has started to snow lightly again, and his ever-growing mop of hair can’t prevent his scalp from getting cold as flecks gather in his curls.
The smell of freshly baked bread drifts past his nose from down the street.
An idea jolts to life in his brain, and he scuddles off to an overhang under a modest barber shop. He takes out his phone, and after some simple typing and scrolling, he finds a website containing an article titled: “40 Kick Ass Gifts for Chefs Who Have Everything.”
This will do.
Will is thankful that Hannibal is nowhere to be seen when he returns home from the shops. He clasps the handles of his bags in his hands and rushes off to their bedroom. Hannibal isn’t here either, which grants further relief as he stuffs the bags of gifts under the bed.
The front door jostles, and Will stands.
Hannibal must have been outside on a walk, surveying the land as he sometimes does, similar to how a king surveys his territory.
It is late. The sun has already set, and he must have already had dinner without Will, because he doesn’t disappear into the kitchen, he sits down at the dusty piano in the living room, and starts to play hushed notes. It takes Will a moment to realize he’s playing Silent Night, a more complicated and somber version than he’s normally heard. He steps out into the hall to listen more closely.
Hannibal’s hair is damp from snowfall, and his cheeks and nose red from the cold air. Will spends long enough watching him, that he doesn’t realize his legs are moving him closer, until he’s standing at Hannibal’s back.
“Good evening, Will,” Hannibal greets, not looking up from the ivory keys. “I suspect your trip went well. You smell of accomplishment.”
“Don’t boast, I know you can’t smell accomplishment. Cancer maybe, but not that,” Will responds softly, toying with the hair at Hannibal’s nape. It is growing so long.
Will almost doesn’t notice the shiver that runs through Hannibal, but he does.
Instead of sitting on the couch behind him, Will nudges Hannibal’s waist with an elbow, and sits down. The piano bench isn’t large, but they can both fit with their shoulders snug against one another.
“I came to tell you, you’re not allowed to look under the bed,” Will states.
Hannibal turns, still hitting every pitch perfectly. “And why not?”
“I’m not required to give you a definitive answer during the Holidays, especially when we’re two days away from Christmas.” Will smiles at Hannibal’s frown. “Can you mind your own business for forty eight hours or is that too much to ask?”
Hannibal huffs, “Who do you take me for, Will?”
Will inclines his head, teasingly and mutters, “A narcissist who likes to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong and claim to smell accomplishment.”
It’s Hannibal’s turn to be smug, turning his nose up at the remark, and returning his gaze to the keys of the piano. After a moment of silence he asks, “Is it a body?”
“I wouldn’t sleep over a corpse, Hannibal, that’s disgusting.”
Hannibal smirks as Will continues to rant, “And who the hell would I have killed? Tarben? The polite woman at the deli?”
When Hannibal continues his playing, unresponsive, Will finally adds, “I wouldn’t do it without you. At least, not the first time. The first time…after the Dragon.”
Silent Night halts abruptly in the middle of a measure, and Hannibal turns to meet his gaze. His hazel-brown eyes are ablaze, so fierce they are almost red in the dual glow from the tree and the hearth's flame.
Will realizes it is the first time he’d implied he’ll kill again. He has to allow Hannibal the victory, if just for the moment.
“Like you said, Danmark isn’t the place.”
Hannibal’s eyes glaze over, and he momentarily reverts into his own mind as he ponders this. There is something there beneath the surface Will’s empathy can’t penetrate, and he greatly wants to know what it is, but all Hannibal whispers in response is, “It is not.”
Slowly, Hannibal returns to his music, and Will inches closer to him on the bench.
“Silent Night?” he knows it is, but he’s curious as to why Hannibal would play it.
“It is Astro Del Ciel,” Hannibal informs. “The Italian version of Silent Night. I heard it on the streets of Florence once. The local church had set up a Nativity scene in the town square. The crowds that gathered sang Astro Del Ciel to their heart’s content, and though I found such presentations as the Nativity or Christmas hymns to be tacky, I thought that night had been a beautiful one.”
"Nativity. My dad's church had one of those every year. They tried badgering me to be a lamb."
Hannibal is amused by this.
"Fitting. I murdered the woman who played the Virgin Mary a month following the performance."
"Of course you did."
Hannibal plays the song a while longer, as Will attempts to visualize the moment in time Hannibal recollected. Then, he tries to imagine what the Virgin Mary could have done to offend Il Mostro.
“Maybe I’ve gone nuts because I’ve never cared before, but I find myself curious how other cultures spend their Holidays. Do Italians have real candles on their trees?” Will asks as Hannibal ends the song with a flowing diminuendo.
“I don’t know any who did,” Hannibal turns back to him, expression curious, “Do you have any requests? I know quite a few seasonal tunes.”
“I won’t insult you by requesting Jingle Bells,” Will tells him and bites his lip. He thinks about the church his father lugged him to in Louisiana. He’d sit in the pews zoning out the pastor as the church folk hummed tacky and overrated songs. There had been one night he’d stayed past hours and listened to one of the choir members playing a classic on the organ. It was haunting, but he strangely wants to hear it again. “How about Auld Lang Syne?”
With his usual deep timbre, Hannibal murmurs, “Interesting choice.”
He begins to play, the tempo languid and the pitch soft. Gradually, the notes grow louder and the song starts to take form. Will remembers the lyrics. After hearing the instrumental at the church, Will had listened to Auld Lang Syne sung by Bing Crosby every single Christmas when he’d been living alone. He played it once, at midnight, and would briefly reminisce about his father and the mother he never seemed to remember. It was one of the only times of the year he would think about society’s straight, unwavering, line of what family should mean.
Now, with Hannibal playing the verses effortlessly, beautifully, Will finds himself humming along with him, smiling when Hannibal corrects himself and reverts to an earlier verse so he can match up with the part Will is humming.
Hannibal looks to him expectantly and Will’s brow twitches.
He wants him to sing.
“...auld acquaintance be forgot,” Will sing-songs, very low, and Hannibal grins brightly and nods. He watches him with adoration in his eyes, and Will can’t help but sing a little higher, “and never come to mind.”
He might be off-key, or Hannibal might be adjusting the keys so Will doesn’t notice, but he continues flawlessly for a few lines, entranced by the alchemy of music they’re creating together.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne… ” Will huffs, embarrassment catching up to him and colliding with him with the weight of a freight train. Tucking his chin to hide his face, he nearly falls off the bench. Hannibal doesn’t sing the rest, but he hums deeply, like a purr from within his chest. Will absorbs the measures, and watches him, eyes on his cheeks. Soft for a man, angelically structured.
For a moment, Will believes he’s found unattainable peace, until Hannibal’s head turns haltingly, and their eyes lock. Then, the peace comes crashing down all around him.
Before Will can register what he’s doing, his eyes are closing, and he’s leaning in and pressing his lips against Hannibal’s. They are tender, warm despite just being out in the cold air. Hannibal’s lips pucker lightly, surprised but naturally responsive.
The kiss ends as soon as another begins, Will surrounding Hannibal’s upper lip with both of his own, tongue brushing just briefly enough to taste the clove and cinnamon from his dinner.
Hannibal stops playing to reach a hand up to cup Will’s cheek. The other hand goes to Will’s neck, but when the song breaks, Will is shocked out of this fantasy. Without trying, he retreats from Hannibal’s arms by facial expression alone. Hannibal draws back with reluctance, something resembling fear dancing in his eyes.
Will is struck with an urge to touch his fingertips to his own lips to feel if they’re still there, but he instead scrambles off the bench and down the hall to their bedroom.
The living room is silent where it had been lively with music not a minute prior. Will runs his hands through his hair, and wonders why they didn’t die when they fell from the cliff.
His blood is rushing through his veins, and his head is buzzing with white noise.
He grabs his black morning coat and crudely throws it on, as well as his snow boots. He leaves his phone on his dresser, and turns to the bedroom window. He pries it open with little of the strength he’d brought down the dragon with, and makes his exit without passing Hannibal.
The cold bite of the air is painful on his skin, colder than when he’d come home from the shops, but it doesn’t stop him from trudging through the yard, down toward the woods.
He asks himself what he’s doing when he finds the river. The one he’d seen once when the first moved here. It’s frozen over, figuratively the quiet stream he’s always searched for.
He doesn’t find his answers in the cracks of the ice, or in the dead plants lining the riverside. When he follows the flow stopped in time, he is led further into the forest. Further from Hannibal. Further from Hannibal’s love and desire. And yet, he doesn’t feel any less for him than he’d felt on the bench, right before he chose to kiss him.
Sitting with Hannibal, living with him, Will had feared his affection was brought on by his empathy. Perhaps it was easier to assume that were the case, and not admit to his feelings for a man who has only ever brought him pain and misery.
Their lives here, in Bredsten, haven’t been painful. Or miserable.
He kicks a rock, feeling the vibration in his numb toes.
He shouldn’t be out here in just his house clothes and morning coat. Without a hat, scarves, or mittens. He didn’t put socks on, just his boots.
However hard he tries, he can’t hear Auld Lang Syne in his head. He can only hear silence, the chirping of crickets and rustling of winter rabbits, or deer in hiding. The combination of all these noises somehow make the surrounding atmosphere quieter than it would be if there were nothing but air and wind.
Following the river still, he comes across a noise. A low growling sound, and the sound of chewing, tearing flesh with teeth. An image of Hannibal ripping Dolarhyde’s throat apart comes to mind, and cautiously, he stalks forward, careful not to step on any twigs.
It is dark, difficult to see, but with the moonlight shining through the heads of the trees above, he can see the silvery blue pelt of a large wolf, shoulders drawn up over the corpse of a doe. The deer’s body is spotted, and her nose is black as the blood her stomach is wet with as the wolf tears up her remains. He has to wonder if the wolf found her like this, or did this itself.
He leans down, eyes on the wolf even as its back is turned to him, and picks up a rock. He tosses it toward him, trying not to hit it, but just frighten the creature. The wolf doesn’t react to the first one, as it lands too far off. Will throws another and it bounces across the frozen ground and hits the back of the wolf’s leg. It bares its teeth in a growl and darts away, off in the opposite direction of Will.
Lucky, on his part.
He approaches the dead doe carefully, and kneels down beside her. He curls his fingers around one of her legs, feeling the delicate fur and bones. He traces her docile hoof, and then eyes the guts that have spilled out of her stomach. Organs that resemble human ones, splayed out like a design.
He can’t help but feel as if he just escaped a dream, and he’s been brought back to reality through this sacrifice. Fate has coiled its barbed wires around his bared flesh, and he can’t escape their fatal hold. Not again.
The twigs Will had avoided snap behind him.
He stands and turns on his heels, head rolling to level with Hannibal. Hannibal is dressed in his own coat, the thicker black one he wears out in the evenings. He’s wearing the crimson scarf Will bought him, and leather gloves that match.
“Did you follow my scent?” Will asks, breath puffing out visibly.
“I followed the river,” Hannibal reveals, face betraying nothing of his motivation for being here. He must be cold, despite the thicker outerwear.
“Sometimes,” Will shakes his head and steadies his voice, “Sometimes you know me so well, I don’t feel like myself. I feel like you.”
“We did not last in separation,” Hannibal agrees. “That may be partially true.” He walks forward and looks over Will’s shoulder at the wreckage the wolf left. “Odd to see a doe slain beneath the moonlight, when they are so often correlated with the sun.”
Will watches Hannibal back up, deliberately putting space between them.
The urge to look at his ring finger, at the empty space there, strikes him, so he does. He lifts his hand up, uses the fingers of his other hand to stroke the paler stretch of skin. He still doesn’t know at which point during this journey he lost the ring.
“I would drive Molly and her son to her parent’s house for Christmas. Gifts were exchanged, and I only ever received ones from her, as her family didn’t know me. They didn’t try to know me, not even at the wedding. They saw Wally’s father in my eyes, and I saw nothing in theirs. I thought this time of the season was meant to feel like that, a little bit empty, a little bit impatient. Just waiting for the turn of the year. The dinner party her extended family held reminded me of ones I never bothered accepting the invites for,” Will meets Hannibal’s eyes, so he knows he’s referencing the dinner parties in Baltimore. Hannibal’s eyes are dark, only from the shadows. His hands are in his pockets. “I’ve been happy before, Hannibal. Even without you, but I’ve never…”
He looks over his shoulder at the freshly killed deer.
“I’ve never been at peace with that happiness.”
When he turns back, Hannibal has grown closer. If he were anyone else, he’d find the proximity intimidating, terrifying even. That a killer has cornered him in the woods, is continuing to close in on him. He doesn’t feel any of that. Despite the frost, he feels warm.
“You fear the peace we’ve found has an expiration date,” Hannibal suggests.
“Everything has an expiration date,” Will mutters, brows knitting together in frustration. “I can’t survive that way again, without you. I can’t go back to feeling the way I have my whole life. I don’t care that you’ve changed me, or are continuing to change me. I need you.”
The wind whistles through the trees and sears his cheeks, a cold flame.
“There was once a time I feared needing anything,” Hannibal responds, hands drawing out of his pockets. They remain at his sides, but Will can feel how deeply he wants to touch. “But, I’m afraid, I’ve been changed as well.”
“We’ve changed each other. I told you that once,” Will says quietly.
“We shouldn’t dwell on old habits and past lives. Is it enough that we go where the wind takes us, or do you require definitives and declarations?”
Will swallows, and lifts up his right hand, palm facing Hannibal.
Hannibal glances at the hand, then back into his eyes when he mirrors the action with his left. They press their palms against one another. The leather glove chafes Will’s skin.
Will stares at their hands, allowing his fingers to fall through the crevices of Hannibal’s. Hannibal follows suit, gripping Will just as tight as he is willing to grip him. Together, grasping each other, Will’s hand begins to warm.
“Tell me once,” Will rasps, “Why you want me.”
When Hannibal tilts his head, puzzled, he elaborates.
“Do you want me because I see you?” he asks, scratching his nails over Hannibal’s gloved knuckles. “I’ve shared my becoming with you. Do you need more?”
Hannibal sighs, breath intermingling with his own, visibly in the space between.
“We see each other, Will. My want cannot be abridged by any normalcy you may expect. It runs deeper than affection and attraction. To say I love you, would encapsulate and understate my feelings for you in the same breath. I want you, because I too could not know a life without you.”
Will’s chapped lips tremble as he tries to form words. The words are forming as hot tears in his eyes, but he won’t allow them to fall. Not tonight.
“I’m not sure either of us are capable of love,” Will whispers, but he doesn’t release Hannibal’s hand. He tightens his hold and lowers them both between them.
“What would you call it?” Hannibal asks.
“Consecration,” Will sighs, before tugging Hannibal forward and crashing their lips together. Hannibal’s lips are parted, and his tongue swipes out unlike before, getting a taste of Will in case he pulls away for the last time. He doesn’t pull away, not just yet, and he doesn’t plan for this to be the last. Something that feels so right, should be nourished.
Hannibal finally breaks their hands apart, only to wind his arms around Will’s back and pull him against his body. He’s broad, warm, and Will holds his face in his hands with adoration he hadn’t fully realized was his own until this very moment.
He breaks the kiss with a pleased huff, and for a moment they pant into each other’s mouths. Hannibal opens his eyes and meets Will’s.
Will wants to tell him to never stop touching him. Hannibal looks like he wants to absorb Will. The wind whistles by, unbothered still by the revelations discovered tonight.
“Christ, that damn party is tomorrow,” Will murmurs, hands trailing down Hannibal’s scarf to tug on the ends of it. Hannibal places his hands over Will’s, gripping them.
“I invited the butcher.”
“Why?” Will asks. His head feels fuzzy, and as much as he wants to stay out here in Hannibal’s arms, the cold is beginning to become freezing. His legs feel as if they’ll fall out from under him.
“Aside from providing the meat, he is the only person I have come to know since our stay. I surmised two guests for a dinner party wouldn’t be enough.”
“Don’t want it to seem like Tarben and Lisbeth are our only friends,” Will agrees, swaying forward, drawn in by Hannibal’s perpetual warmth. “I’m cold.”
“Come home,” Hannibal urges softly.
Will presses his cool forehead to the heated space between Hannibal’s jawline and his scarf. He nods against him, and together they follow the river back. The gentle glow of their cabin comes into view gradually.
Upon entering their house, Hannibal darts off to the bathroom and begins to run the hot water for a bath. “Go, you need it more than I,” Hannibal tells him, rubbing Will’s knuckles to measure just how low his body temperature has dropped.
He makes a small noise of disapproval, and pushes Will by the small of his back toward the bathroom.
A bit mindlessly, Will finds himself stepping into the tub and ignoring the burn screeching in every nerve ending in his body. The contrast of the heated water and his frosty skin is too good to pass up despite the pain.
When he enters their bedroom, body pink and flushed from the bath, he finds Hannibal in full pajamas and socks. The window is closed again.
After Will changes into his nightwear, he sits on the edge of the bed, and turns his body just enough to be able to speak to Hannibal properly.
“We don’t have to figure out what this means yet, do we?” Will asks, swallowing hard. “I mean, I’m not sure I want to discuss it before the party.”
“Will, you mustn't fret. There are no obligations here between you and me.” Hannibal turns Will’s chin with a finger so he can see his sincerity. “For now, we can sleep, and we can dream.”
Will nods, and suppresses the urge to lean into the touch of his hand.
He lays down, shifts the comforter over his body, and flips onto his left side. The lights turn off, and he finds he doesn’t want to go to sleep without facing Hannibal, so he turns and finds comfort in the few freckles scattered across the nape of Hannibal’s neck. He falls asleep to the quiet rhythm of Hannibal’s breathing, and he distantly wonders if they can meet each other in their respective dreamscapes.
Will isn’t sure what he expects upon waking up inches from Hannibal’s face, but he is surprised when a notepad is handed to him the second both of his eyes crack open. His vision is battered by the morning sun, and he’s using all of his yet-to-be-caffeinated brain cells to figure out what’s going on.
Hannibal is shirtless, with black trousers on. It seems he’d been in the middle of dressing when he sensed Will stirring.
“Would you go into town for me, Will? I still need a few necessities for the party,” he pats the notepad and Will grunts, allowing his foggy eyes to focus on the list of more than several items.
‘A few necessities’ is putting it mildly.
Blinking, he glances over Hannibal’s groomed figure.
“Uh, yeah, sure.”
“Take as long as you need,” Hannibal stresses, bed dipping when he stands. “Just make sure to be back by three at the latest.” He moves to the closet and begins rummaging through dress shirts. He won’t put a full suit on until later in the evening, if Will reads him right.
Glancing once more at the list, Will can’t see how it should possibly take all day.
That is, until he goes to Bredsten’s general store and realizes what Hannibal is requesting of him is not one town over, but several towns over.
Driving through the farmlands and frozen dirt roads of Danmark is easy, and it’s not as if it takes long at all to drive the entire length of the country. Like driving from Maine to Massachusetts. But, navigating the aisles to find foreign spices he’s never heard of, or fondue he can’t defend the use for, speeds the clock up to a ghastly degree.
Will returns home at quarter to three. He is out of breath, and holding at least eight bags in his arms. He marches into the kitchen, and passive aggressively drops all the bags atop the empty island. Hannibal is cooking by the oven, and he gives a pleased hum.
“Traffic?” he asks innocently.
“Yeah, right,” Will grumbles, and leaves him to his work.
There won’t be time to wrap the presents before tomorrow when the guests arrive, so Will returns to their room. He side-eyes the immaculate bed, and falls to his knees. Hannibal’s gifts are still in the same place, as well as the wrapping paper and tape he’d purchased.
It takes under an hour to wrap everything, and though he feels foolish during the process, there is a grand sense of achievement that arises when the wrapped presents are laid out in front of him. Discreetly, he brings them out into the living room, and places them on the tree skirt.
The scent of sizzling meat and fancy spice is beginning to fill the whole house, and his nose brings him back to the kitchen where Hannibal is mixing a gravy looking concoction.
Will sidles up to him and with only a modest amount of hesitation, places his hand upon Hannibal’s shoulder, stroking over his shirt lightly.
“Do you need any help?” he asks in a quiet voice.
Hannibal looks ridiculously pleased with himself as he continues to stir. “While I often appreciate a helping hand, it has been a long time since I’ve hosted a dinner party. I’d like to prepare everything myself if it’s all the same to you,” he quirks a brow at Will who nods and drops his hand. “All I require of you is to freshen up and wear the suit that arrived for you in your absence.”
Hannibal winks. “Go check the closet.”
Will does. There are two new suits, in two long, black garment bags. He reads the inscription on the outside of each bag. One is addressed to Hamish, so Will takes this one off the hanger and lays it out on their bed.
After unzipping the bag, he finds the suit to be green velvet, emerald even.
He checks Hannibal’s and finds it to be the same deep shade, but rather red than green. Ruby. They are going to look like goddamn Christmas decorations.
“Don’t tell me you have jingle bells for cufflinks,” Will drones at the arch entrance of the kitchen. Hannibal doesn’t look up, but his smug smile grows teeth.
“When are Tarben and his wife arriving?”
“Better hurry then,” Hannibal warns, with a gentle expression and daunting eyes. Will finds himself fractionally intimidated, despite knowing Hannibal wouldn’t likely kill him over poor preparation and hospitality.
Will washes the sweat of the drive and the shopping away in the shower, and he isn’t surprised to find his new green suit perfectly fitted to his body. With a warped smile, he glances in the direction of the kitchen thinking about how the creep must have taken his measurements while he’d been sleeping.
Or worse, a long time ago when he’d been drugged.
Hannibal is finished setting the table, and superfluously adding vases and decor, by quarter to four. Will has been ready for a while, consuming his time with the mental prep for social interaction. He runs down the few phrases and words he knows in the Danish language and reminds himself several times he is Hamish and Hannibal is Thorkild.
Roommates. They are roommates.
“Where did we meet again?” Will asks in their bedroom when Hannibal is dressing in a hurry. He adjusts the collar of his shirt in the mirror, meeting Will’s eyes with reflected amusement.
“Jack Crawford’s office.”
“No, no. I know where we met,” Will responds, a laugh skittering out at him at the absurdity he could ever forget that day. “I’m asking where Hamish and Thorkild met.”
“On a cruise travelling in from America, where we’d both recently reached the end of our overseas jobs,” Hannibal tells him without skipping a beat. He begins tying his tie. Intricate red and gold floral, opposing Will’s green and white plaid tie.
“That’s a bit too accurate wouldn’t you say?”
“When you speak as close as you can to the truth, there is less room for mistake. Just make sure you don’t mention our relationship with the authorities, and I’m sure we can be as truthful as possible.”
“Somehow I don’t think that’s the best idea.” Will sighs. “But, I’m not up for making up stories about Hamish’s childhood, so I’ll just avoid personal topics all together.”
He earns an affirming hum in reply.
“What is our relationship to one another?” Will asks, softer.
Hannibal swerves, and he comes into full view, suit completely pressed and fitted to his broad shoulders and firm muscles. Will bites his lip as he stalks closer, and Hannibal’s eyes watch him steadily like a predator. He allows Hannibal to fix his tie.
“Tarben hasn’t questioned our validity as simple roommates, has he?”
“No, but it does raise a few brows. Two grown men approaching their middle age, living together. Too old to be bachelors, too young to be retired.”
“Let them raise their brows.”
Hannibal tightens Will’s tie brutally taut. For a moment, he’s on the brink of suffocating, but it stiffens his posture, forcing him to turn his nose up just enough that he feels for the first time like he owns the house.
“Allow me to style your hair,” Hannibal implores.
Will nods. Why not?
The gel Hannibal uses is cold and the scent is overpowering. He closes his eyes when Hannibal digs his fingers into his scalp. There isn’t a strand ripped from its root, only gentleness and care. When he opens his eyes, he’s staring at a new man in the mirror.
Hannibal wipes his hands off on a towel, and returns to stand behind him, observing.
Will immediately lifts his hand to touch the scar on his cheek, still ugly and healing despite the fact the stitches have long since come out.
Hannibal’s hand joins his own, stroking the puckered skin. Will shudders, and expects his breath to come out in visible puffs, like they had the night prior.
He turns, and brushes his nose along Hannibal’s cheek.
“I want to kiss you,” he whispers, staring into those warm almond eyes. They’re both leaning in, like magnets in slow motion, breath grazing skin, eyes flickering up and down, uncertain. When one of Will’s hands finds Hannibal’s waist, the doorbell rings.
For a fleeting moment, Hannibal’s nostrils flare and his eyes glisten with rage. His posture and attitude reverts back to normal in the next.
Will grabs Hannibal’s wrist before he can leave their bedroom to answer the door.
“I’ll be good if you will,” Will tells him, a smirk on his lips.
Hannibal mirrors the expression, bringing Will’s hand up to his lips so he can kiss his knuckles. “Cuore mio,” he murmurs against his skin, and departs.
Will follows at his heels, considering whipping out his phone to translate what Hannibal had just said, but the front door is already swinging open, and Tarben and Lisbeth are bustling in, gifts and bags in hand. They brought wine with a fat red bow around the nozzle.
It would be rude to take out his phone now.
He earns a hug from Tarben, and a handshake from his wife. “Velkommen,” he greets Lisbeth, with a gawky smile, before Hannibal leads them through the house. Their coats are hung on the coat rack, and their things are stored by the tall lamp in the living room.
Will’s seen Lisbeth before, but for the first time he has to admit she looks more like Tarben’s sister than his wife. They’ve both got the same shade of blonde hair, and their cheekbones are droopy in the similar way. The only difference is Tarben has something of a beer-induced paunch, and his wife is scrawny as a bat, her fingers long and claw-like.
Will pours them all glasses of Gløgg and sits beside Tarben on the big couch. Hannibal is sitting beside Lisbeth, eagerly making her feel at home as he speaks her native language.
Of course Hannibal sounds like he was born and raised here.
“Quite a handsome fellow,” Tarben says under his breath, wagging his brows at Will. Will blushes, and takes a few long sips of his drink so as to not clear his throat.
“Yeah he, uh, women have always thought so, you know.”
Tarben’s stringy blond hair falls over his eyes when he turns to face Will more completely. He takes a hard sip of his Gløgg. “Oh my, that is fantastic.” He takes another sip and pats his chest appreciatively. “We better get my wife away from him before she steals him away from you.”
Will wants to protest, but he doesn’t know what he’d say.
The doorbell rings again. Saved by the bell.
Hannibal greets his acquaintance, a butcher named Jakob who had supposedly provided the meat for tonight’s festivities. Thinking of festivities, Will makes a quick greeting and rushes over to the candle which has one number left on it. He lights it, and watches the wax form just above the number twenty-four. Soon, it will melt away and be Christmas.
“A true Dane at heart!” Tarben announces, clasping an arm around Will’s shoulders. He almost jumps. “Thorkild tells me you took him to Tivoli Gardens. I knew you would.”
Lisbeth joins Tarben’s side, sweetly slinging her arms around his waist. “You enjoy Tivoli?” she asks in thickly accented English.
“We did,” Will sighs, blowing out the match. He glances over at Hannibal who is in a deep conversation with Jakob by the bowl of Gløgg. “The food was amazing, actually.”
Tarben grins, “Your roommate makes better Gløgg than Gemyse.”
Lisbeth frowns. “Det tror jeg ikke.”
“Lisbeth,” Tarben grumbles, walking her away from Will. “Behage.”
Hannibal walks Jakob over to Will, and says, “Hamish, Jakob is refusing to believe I personally knew the head of the Verger meat-packing Dynasty. Would you clear it up for him?”
Will goes pale, and he huffs like a bull ready to charge. He can hardly believe what he’s hearing.
“I’m afraid my roommate is being rather pig-headed,” Will deadpans, glaring at Hannibal. “He’s never met the man, or the new heirs.”
Jakob lets loose a bellowing laugh, and where Hannibal would normally feel burdened by this level of social degradation, he merely smiles bright and easy, as if he knows he’s pushed Will’s buttons.
Will has a mind to tell the story of the Chesapeake Ripper to every available ear in the house. But, he won’t. Aware of his own stupidity, he unfortunately values his freedom with Hannibal, even if the man gets on his nerves like a cheese grater.
Jakob mutters something scathing in Danish to Hannibal who responds with a poised shrug, if shrugs can be poised.
In an hour, Will stops struggling with the interaction. His head feels light from the alcohol, his head bubbly and his body weightless. The blood in his veins runs hot. The Gløgg is stronger than the gin his father used to let him sample on holidays.
Hannibal rings a small bell, and Will gets a taste for what dinner parties at the Lecter estate must have felt like back in Baltimore.
Everyone files into the quaint dining room, and Will sits adjacent to Hannibal even at Hannibal’s urging that he sit at the opposite end of the table, like a proper host.
In no way is Will going to seat himself next to Jakob whose eyes are pitch black, and who is so tall he can touch their ceiling. There’s something about the man that rubs him wrong.
Hannibal departs from the dining table for a moment, only to bring out trays upon trays of food on a dainty cart, little rounded plates to be placed upon the larger, flatter plates on the table.
Will’s never seen so much dinnerware in his life, only in his dreams.
They go through three courses gluttonously. First a kale salad, then a baroque dish involving turkey and a side of deviled kidneys. The kidneys are spiced with a pinch of cayenne and mustard, and Will begrudgingly admits they are the best part of dinner. To follow, they have a simple dessert of rice pudding topped with cherry sauce. Apparently, this is a Christmas dessert of sorts for the Danish, as Jakob and the happy couple clap when the dessert cart enters the dining room.
Will would clap, but he also has made a dedicated practice of equally getting on Hannibal’s nerves. Running on pure spite is a specialty.
“And I thought nothing could beat those deviled kidneys,” Tarben muses, digging into the rice pudding with ease.
Will kitten licks the cherry sauce off his spoon, which may not be good table etiquette, but Hannibal isn’t making a fuss. It is tangy, and far too sweet, yet he can’t help but take in several mouthfuls of the stuff. The holidays are truly ruining him.
Lisbeth speaks in Danish to Hannibal, something Will can’t understand, and Hannibal shakes his head with a smile.
“Jakob only provided the turkey. The kidneys, I acquired by other means,” Hannibal announces, and Will’s heart stops.
“Taking your business elsewhere?” Jakob jokes.
“ Overseas as it happens, before I’d been given the pleasure of your company,” Hannibal explains, delight strumming in every living atom of his body.
As the table gradually distances itself from the topic and dissents into antipodal subjects, Will keeps his eyes trained on Hannibal. Hannibal waits a significant amount of time until he meets his gaze with mirth.
“The rude man from the boat,” he whispers, so quietly, the bellowing laughter of their guests nearly drowns it out. Hannibal’s eyes crinkle at the corners as his smirk widens.
“You never asked how I handled the situation.”
“I never thought you’d–” Will is startled by Tarben raising a glass above all of their heads.
“A toast!” he cries out, “To our lovely hosts, Hamish and Thorkild.”
Lisbeth claps, and Jakob reaches a long arm over to dink his glass of wine together with the table’s occupants. Hannibal’s smile turns into a genuine one. He clinks his glass with theirs, and takes a sip.
Will experiences a strong urge to rip the tablecloth out from under the plates and decorations. Just to see what excuses Hannibal could possibly come up with.
For the rest of the evening, Will is jittery and on edge, just as Hannibal probably predicted he would be. The overseas comment was intentional. They had met that rude man on the boat coming here, slimly missing the volatile grasp of the FBI. Hannibal had killed him and risked their entire situation by serving him just because he wanted to see what Will would do.
Jakob leaves first. Then Tarben and Lisbeth fifteen minutes later; Will can tell they’re never ones to overstay their welcome. On the way out the door, Tarben mentions he needs a repair on his fence. One of the billygoats got loose and rammed into it headfirst.
Will easily agrees to assist, and then they are gone.
Simple, like they’d never been here. Save for the lingering, musky scent of Jakob and Lisbeth’s nauseating perfume. He can’t imagine what that could be doing to Hannibal’s heightened sense of smell, but he decides that it’s good. Let him suffer.
Will turns to Hannibal with an expression that could kill.
Hannibal crosses his hands behind his back, and makes a facial expression that reads; What are you going to do about it?
There are a thousand things he should say. Things Jack would believe are deserved to be said. Things that even Hannibal expects of him to say. But, all Will can muster is a shuddering sigh and a curt remark.
“You were counting the minutes until you could serve someone one of your specialties, weren’t you?”
“I fantasized about it often during my incarceration.”
“Did you fantasize I was at the table?”
“Every single time.”
Will glares, aware of the substantial distance between them. “Was I aware of what I was ingesting in any of your fantasies?”
“It was not always conducive.”
“You knew I’d tell you no,” Will asserts. “You’re a creature of habit.”
“You must forgive a man used to glass walls and little space, the lure of spontaneity. I hadn’t been planning on using the meat I’d harvested until tonight,” Hannibal tells him, but with Will’s sharpened empathy he can see the cracks in the code.
“Not tonight, but this morning. When you gave me that ridiculous list. You didn’t want me to see what you were cooking and start asking questions.” Will scoffs, crossing his arms.
“If you had asked, I wouldn’t have stretched the truth. I wouldn’t even have lied.”
“I believe that,” Will mutters. “How much exactly did you take from the seafarer?”
“Just his kidneys. At least ten thousand black market kidney transplants occur each year. I kept this in mind when I killed him. I didn’t wish for Jack to catch onto a whiff of our trail. I even inscribed a black market gang symbol, long disused I imagine, but good enough to send an FBI team looking in almost any other direction,” Hannibal explains. He unclips his suit jacket, sighing with the release of the tight outfit. “I could see it in your eyes on the boat, that you knew I’d killed him. You’re not distressed for that reason.”
“I don’t want anything hidden between us, and…”
Will tucks his chin. “It’s Christmas Eve, Hannibal. You couldn’t have waited for the second dinner party to serve our guests kidneys?”
The clock strikes eight with a chime.
They stare at each other, and Hannibal’s lips part at the comment. He smiles first, but it isn’t a cruel expression. He’s humoured, genuinely finding Will’s comment to be charming, and Will is laughing too then.
Will shakes his head, incredulous beyond belief.
“Seeing as it’s Christmas tomorrow, I’ll let you off the hook this time, Ripper,” he tells him, feeling all the tension from the evening dwindle down the drain. “But, don’t lie to me again.”
“I didn’t lie,” Hannibal reminds coolly.
Hannibal bows his head in capitulation and asks, “Can you help me with the dishes?”
“Yeah I’ll help you wash the marine engineer off our fine china,” Will snarks, following him into the kitchen with a rough sigh.
Will is relieved to snuggle under the thick comforter when they’re finished washing the dishes and preparing the house for tomorrow. Gifts had miraculously appeared alongside Hannibal’s under the tree, and Will had side-eyed them with childlike curiosity.
Now he finds himself tense for other reasons.
Hannibal is finishing up brushing his teeth in the bathroom and Will is wide awake under the covers like a wife waiting for her husband to return so they can fall asleep at the same time. The domesticity grates on his nerves again, but it simultaneously makes him feel the way alcohol makes him feel. He wishes his brain could pick one or the other.
Before he knows it, the bed is dipping and Hannibal is climbing in with nothing but a pair of pajama pants on. Will gawks at him, lips parted and hair eskew from haphazardly washing the gel out of it in the sink. How is it he looks like a mess and Hannibal still looks like a psychiatrist, even with his shirt off?
“Are you anticipating tomorrow?” Hannibal questions, not yet turning the lamp on the bedside dresser off.
He lays there, blocking the glow, his face shadowed because of it, but Will can’t keep his eyes off of his chest. The soft grey hair there covers him like a blanket.
“You know, I actually am,” Will murmurs. “Who would have guessed Will Graham would be looking forward to Christmas?”
“You didn’t need to get me a gift, Will,” Hannibal asserts, sinking lower onto his pillow. The light illuminates his features now, and Will wants to kiss him again. He’s not sure he’d be able to stop, so he doesn’t, he just inches closer, to the edge of Hannibal’s pillow.
“That’s gifts plural,” Will corrects playfully. “It’s nothing special. I just knew you’d be getting me gifts and I wanted to one-up you.”
Hannibal laughs, fully and whole-heartedly laughs. He turns to look up at the ceiling. The fan isn’t on; it is too cool in their room for the fan.
Will coughs, scooting another inch.
“Can I–” Hannibal turns and meets his eyes. Will falters. “Um, can we…”
Hannibal’s eyes widen, head rising off the pillow just a smidge in his disbelief and Will shakes his head in a jerky motion.
“No that’s not–I’m not asking for that, I just want you to,” Will swallows against the rising tide of apprehension in his throat. “Hold me.”
Hannibal stalls, unable to comprehend the request right away.
Devotion washes over Will when he adds, “Like the night we died.”
Mere seconds pass until Hannibal softens, and before he inches closer, he reaches back to shut the lamp light off. He pulls Will against him, and Will finds his place on his chest, cheek against his furry sternum. Hannibal’s chin brushes the top of Will’s head when he places a kiss amongst the forest of tickling curls. Everything is suddenly warm, even before Hannibal lifts the blanket up around them, tucking it across Will’s neck.
Palms find the smooth expanse of his back and rest there like brands.
Will hadn’t been tired when he settled down into bed, but now he can’t keep his eyes open. The repetitive beating of Hannibal’s heart is a sound he knows he’ll grow addicted to before long.
There are a thousand things he smells of, and also nothing at all. The scent surrounding Will is definitively Hannibal, and he breathes it in greedily, lips parting as he sinks into slumber.
The wind lets loose a muted howl from beyond the window.
Will stretches his arm across the mattress to feel a lukewarm, empty space. His eyes crack open. The sheets are pulled back on Hannibal’s side, and Will curls into the warmth he left behind. Lazily, he looks out the window to see snow blanketing the entire field, thick and sparkling.
He leans up on an elbow, admiring the snowflakes that are still falling, lightly from the sky, the furthest thing from a blizzard. He remembers the storms in Wolf Trap, how the dogs would whine and howl at the harsh winds in the night.
Rolling his body, he grabs his phone from his dresser and finds he slept in.
Ten o clock.
There is a notification from Tattlecrime, which isn’t exactly unheard of, but when he opens it, the headline of the new article reads: Hannibal the Cannibal Spotted Alive in Russia!
Will snorts. Russia.
After brushing his teeth, he considers dressing in formal clothes, but he decides on wearing his plaid, two-piece button up pajama. He confirms he made the right decision when he finds Hannibal in his own two-piece pajama in the kitchen.
He’s drizzling liquid frosting over two large cinnamon rolls, and Will refuses to resist the urge to slip one of his arms through Hannibal’s and kiss his shoulder. Squished close, he shows Hannibal the headline and murmurs, “Merry Christmas to us.”
Hannibal turns completely and scrolls through the article. Will expected him to be pleased, but his lips are pursed and his eyes are narrowing to slits, beady and cutting.
“Miss Lounds continues to be disparaging. The picture is absurd.”
Will looks at it again. The man in the blurry photo looks almost nothing like Hannibal save for the styled hair and the shoulders, maybe. He shrugs.
“As long as Jack doesn’t make her take it down, I’d say this is a gift. Pointing fingers in opposite directions and all that,” Will replies with a yawn. He slides his phone back into his pocket.
“I was just about to wake you,” Hannibal tells him, gentleness returned to his tone. “This may be a tad sweet for breakfast, but it is Christmas after all.”
“I’d eat a cinnamon roll at absolutely any point in the day,” Will admits, taking the offered plate in his hands and sniffs the treat. It smells like he’s going to gain ten pounds.
Hannibal sets his own down, just long enough to scoop Will’s cheeks up in his palms and kiss him chastely on the lips. Will blushes, nearly dropping his plate.
“Good morning,” Hannibal murmurs, and takes his plate. “Shall we take these to the living room?”
Will sucks in air, head lurching forward in a nod.
He follows Hannibal to the large couch and plops down with a fork in hand, and a breakfast warm from the oven. He sits close to Hannibal, and curls his socked toes around his exposed ankle. Hannibal smiles indulgently, but doesn’t comment on it.
“I feel like we’ve been doing this for years,” Will reveals. “Not just Christmas, being together. Being here. Abigail would have been happy today, she would have liked spending Christmas with us.”
Hannibal’s smile wavers, and he looks unsure. Will sighs and strokes a hand up his shoulder, to the nape of his neck. “Let it all go,” he whispers. “I have.”
For a moment, Hannibal leans into the fingers tangling into strands of his hair, but then he drags Will’s hand away from his neck to kiss his knuckles. Thumbs rub over the one’s he’s just kissed, as if memorizing their shape.
“Can I give you your presents?” Will asks, weakly.
“Only if I can give you one of yours after you give me one.”
“We’ll take turns,” Will compromises, and hops off the couch to kneel beside the tree. He chooses the small, textured, rectangular gift, knowing exactly what it is.
He sits criss-cross on the couch facing Hannibal after he hands it to him. Without hesitation, Hannibal shakes it and Will flicks his arm.
“Don’t be one of those people,” he admonishes.
“Can I smell it?” Hannibal tries, raising the wrapped gift to his nose.
“Do you want to ruin the surprise?” Will questions, dumbfounded, dragging it back down to his lap. “Open it before I do it for you.”
“Impatient.” Hannibal doesn’t expand on the accusation, and begins to delicately unwrap the gift, peeling it apart from the ends Will taped it together. Will wants to scream at him to tear it apart like he tears flesh apart, but before he knows it, the gift is revealed.
Six gourmet salts laid out in short rows. He’s sure Hannibal already has several, but there has to be at least one in this set he hasn’t purchased as of late.
“You have to give me some leeway. You don’t usually want for anything, and you spend most of your days cooking. So, your gifts are sort of chef themed. If you have them all already, I guess they can be backups,” Will rambles, scratching his beard.
He’s about to continue rambling when Hannibal leans in to kiss his lips softly, gratefully. He squeezes the collection of salt in his hands. “This is tremendously thoughtful, Will. I’ll make good use of them.”
“No problem,” Will clears his throat, and watches Hannibal get up to retrieve a gift for him. It is smaller, cylindrical. Will has never been good at guessing gifts; his brain sort of shuts off if he tries.
The salts are stored on the coffee table before Hannibal hands him the object wrapped in shining silver paper. Will raises a brow when he feels the tin exterior of the gift through the wrapping.
He rips it open, to Hannibal’s chagrin.
It is an aftershave. Expensive, overpriced, aftershave.
Will huffs out a laugh, “Of course,” he says, sniffing the latch at the top. It is faint, but it smells better than the brand he’s used for years. “I’m trying to find a way to say thank you, but you’ve been looking for an excuse to buy me a new one of these for years, you bastard.”
“Your wearing it will be all the thanks I need,” Hannibal declares brightly, chin turned up. He looks like a peacock, proud and pompous.
“We’ll see. You might have to do some convincing.”
“My specialty,” Hannibal murmurs, gleaming with something dangerous. Will feels it in his gut, and he cranes his neck toward the tree to escape the kindling sensation that comes from their eye contact.
“Okay, stay there.”
Will gets up and snatches the biggest gift he bought for Hannibal. It is heavy, and he lugs it back to the couch with little grace. Hannibal takes it from his hands as if it weighs a feather.
He crawls forward on his knees and balances his weight on Hannibal’s left thigh as he opens the gift, once again in a delicate manner. Will peers down when the bronze metal is revealed, then he looks back up at Hannibal’s face which has risen in surprise.
“It’s a garlic roaster. I didn’t think I saw one in the cabinets, but if you already have one, you can return it. If you also think it’s an insult to gourmet chefs everywhere, you can return it because of that too. I really don’t know what you consider necessary in a kitchen, but I do like garlic.”
“You have a tendency to explain the reasoning behind your gifts as if the thought itself wouldn’t be gift enough,” Hannibal kisses his cheek, his morning shadow stubble scraping over Will’s scar. He digs his fingers into Hannibal’s thigh without thinking and Hannibal shifts away with a chuckle. “I do not have one, and I would be delighted to use this. Thank you, Will.”
“I feel bad I didn’t thank you for the aftershave, thank you,” Will grumbles, craning to look at the aftershave standing tall beside the array of salts.
“You’re very welcome, but buying things for you is no hardship for me.”
“It is your turn to stay put,” Hannibal says in a low voice. When he stands, he is slow moving toward the tree. The bullet wound is most likely showing him little mercy, even now. Will considers running up to help him, but that would just be a step too far. Hannibal would find it insulting.
“Here you are, Will.”
Hannibal hands him a rectangular gift, in the same silver paper as before. Will feels it with his fingers for a moment, unable to distinguish it as anything other than a wooden box, so he tears the paper apart like a ravenous dog. Hannibal winces when some of it falls to the rug.
It is a wooden box, with a black latch.
Will glances up at Hannibal and finds his expression inscrutable.
He unlatches the box and opens it. The interior is lined with red velvet, and in the center starkly rests a gorgeous curved dagger with a walnut wood handle. Will takes it out, and curls his fingers around the grip. He uses his other hand to touch the tip. It pricks his skin.
“It is extremely sharp,” Hannibal tells him belatedly. Kissing the blood drop from Will’s forefinger, his eyes darken at the taste, and Will squirms, repositioning himself on the couch.
“No kidding,” he murmurs, feeble tremble to his tone. “I’m starting to think the gifts you purchased for me are bordering on self-indulgent.”
“This is almost entirely an offer of self defense. In case we run into any trouble along our travels. Though, it wouldn’t go amiss if you were to use it for violently covetous purposes.”
Will places it back in it’s container, staring at the gleam of the silver blade. It’s beautiful; he’s never had a dagger this nice under his care.
Placing it down beside the other gifts on the coffee table, Will returns to the couch and straddles Hannibal with both knees on either side of his hips, with very little internal confidence. He doesn’t distribute too much of his weight onto Hannibal when he surges forward to kiss him, but just enough that Hannibal’s hands have found his waist to hold him steady.
“I love it,” he whispers on his lips and kisses him again. Hannibal is watching him with round, wanting eyes, and he can’t help but feel like he’s never had this much power.
Will swings his leg over his lap and the heat of Hannibal’s body is gone, for now.
He jumps up off the couch and grabs the final gift he acquired. This was a customizable gift, and the most important in Will’s eyes, despite it being yet another kitchen component.
Hannibal examines the flat, hard shape of the gift and hums in curiosity as he begins to open it. Will observes his expression, watches it go from calmly appreciative to charmingly stunned.
Will had bought him a cutting board, not just a regular one, but one he could request any design for. He asked the man at the woodworking station to engrave a teacup into the center, with cracks throughout, but still entirely put together.
Hannibal stares at the teacup, eyes glistening with broken memories.
“It’s not too cheesy?” Will asks, and Hannibal shakes his head, placing it on his lap.
“Will, you’ve succeeded in one-upping me.”
Will grins. “Oh?”
“Clever boy.” Hannibal licks his lips, and turns back to the cutting board. He runs his fingers tenderly over the smooth indents of the teacup outline. “You’ll ruin me.”
“We’ve barely scraped the surface of ruining one another,” Will murmurs, scooting forward to leave a lingering kiss on his cheek, and touches the cutting board himself. It brings him pride to have outdone Hannibal at something. “We’ll have years to make up for it.”
“Many more Christmases for me to spoil you.”
“Hell, I won’t be able to compete if you buy me a boat, or a house. Don’t do that, please.” Will ducks away from Hannibal’s playfully bared teeth.
“Reverse psychology, dear Will? I thought you above such things,” Hannibal scolds without rancor. His bangs have fallen over his forehead, and he looks every bit the domestic homebody Will has always yearned to see behind the veil.
“No, I mean it. Don’t get me a boat,” Will mutters, staring right back into Hannibal’s eyes so he knows he’s serious. Hannibal only grows more and more smug.
“Do you prefer a yacht or something smaller?”
“Hannibal!” Will berates with a kick to one of his calves. “If you get me a boat, I’ll kill you.”
Hannibal slumps back against the cushions with a deeply wounded sigh. “Oh, to be killed by your hand would be the one and only gift that could surpass my offer of a ship.”
“Of course it would.” Will rolls his eyes. “Only you would think of murder as a gift.”
“Well. If I were murdered by anyone else, I would be quite vexed.”
Envy sparks like brushfire in Will’s veins, and his blood boils at the thought of another touching Hannibal with the intent to kill.
“No one else can kill you, Hannibal,” Will promises, meeting his eyes with luster. “If anyone else tries, I’ll kill them with my bare hands and watch the light leave their eyes.”
“My wrathful lamb,” Hannibal whispers, palm pressing to Will’s scarred cheek. “How true the folks at your church were to insist you play such a role. Not so innocent, are we?”
“I never was, not even before you.”
“Before me and after me, you once said,” Hannibal muses, and purposefully strokes the frayed skin. A shiver runs up Will’s spine and he grimaces at the almost-pain that flares under his touch. “What of the present?”
“The present consists of you and I, entangled so thoroughly if one dies, the other dies as a consequence. I am in no mood to die, by your stead, or any other means.”
“You will adore Argentina,” Hannibal veers from the topic of death abruptly. He stands to retrieve another gift. A wide, paper thin square. If it weren’t so thin, Will would think it a large book. “There is an opera house there I wish to take you. The wildlife will be to your liking as well, as the rivers and the beaches will be.”
He hands Will his gift, and Will takes it warily. He treats this gift as if it were more fragile, since it’s so light. When he opens it, he finds a coral-colored envelope.
“Open,” Hannibal urges.
Will’s brows knit together as he bends the golden tacks to fold the top of the envelope aside, and he finds two slips of paper inside. They are plane tickets for the spring. Departing from the airport here, to Argentina.
“Hannibal,” Will says, mouth gradually catching up to his brain. The puzzle pieces of Hannibal’s design are starting to click together. “You wanted to come here first, to test me. See if I would try to kill us again. You wanted to convince me that I didn’t need to.”
“Did you not suspect I had ulterior motives?”
“I did, but I didn’t suspect you thought I was going to drag us over the edge again, metaphorically speaking anyway.” Will sucks his bottom lip into his mouth, dragging his gaze up to look at Hannibal’s tranquil face. “When did you realize I was here to stay?”
“When you suggested the dinner party,” Hannibal admits, and Will can’t believe it took him that long to see Will’s commitment. “Up until that point, I was fairly certain our second chance at life was rocky, at best. You proved me wrong, surprised me, as you always have.”
Will’s fist tightens around the plane tickets.
“You didn’t think I ached for you, in the same way you ache for me.”
Hannibal’s eyelashes flutter, looking between them at the small space between. He rubs a hand over the couch cushion, for a moment, lost in the middle distance.
“Will you show me what our new home looks like, Hannibal?” Will asks softly, and Hannibal’s gaze lights up languidly, fingers twitching toward his tablet.
For the rest of the morning, Will rests against Hannibal’s side as he shows Will the ins and outs of their home in Argentina. It is a two-story home with a large yard, and is located by a winding river. They are isolated enough that there won’t be an issue of identity trouble, and close enough to town that grocery trips won’t be a bother. Will likes the bedrooms, and he likes the big one with the wall made entirely of windows. “Can that be ours?” he asks, pointing to the picture of it on the tablet.
Hannibal pauses, as if he hadn’t considered Will would want to sleep in the same bed. Even after their recent development of intimacy. “Of course, whatever pleases you.”
Because Hannibal is a flat-out menace, he gives Will several more gifts after they put the tablet away. Some are clothes, scarves and suits. There is a watch and dress shoes.
“I’m your own personal department store mannequin,” Will bites out grumpily when Hannibal forces him to try everything on. It’s not like it’s a hardship, to be the subject of Hannibal’s yearning, heated gaze.
Since they held an extravagant dinner the night before, Hannibal heats up some leftover turkey and rice pudding. Will is glad there isn’t leftover deviled kidneys.
As delicious as they were, he’d rather keep cannibalism out of the holidays. At the very least.
Will is by the Christmas tree when the clock is ticking closer and closer to midnight. Just an hour now, and Christmas will be over. It’s strange that he’ll miss it. Strange that he can look forward to something similar next year. He’s grown attached to this country, but he’s sure he’ll grow attached to Argentina all the same, even with the sweltering heat and bustling marketplace.
He doesn’t notice Hannibal behind him until a wet kiss is placed against the side of his neck. He closes his eyes and sighs, leaning back just slightly into Hannibal’s familiar warmth.
“Come to bed, it’s been a long day,” Hannibal murmurs, and leaves him chilled to the bone and alone in the living room. He looks around, and realizes he hasn’t gotten out of his pajamas all day. He’ll do the laundry tomorrow, so he might as well wear them to bed.
Will shuts off the Christmas lights, mourning the space where the kalenderlys used to be. Gifts were had, hygge was celebrated, and overall Will decides he’s taken the holidays for granted over the years.
Though, he is relieved to be able to climb into bed. In a locked house, everything clean and tidy for the morning. He snuggles close to Hannibal who is just in pajama trousers again. He must sense Will prefers him shirtless, the soft fur of his chest against his cheek when he sleeps.
The bedroom is dark and quiet, and for a while, Will drifts.
The ticking of the clock in their room grows deafening when he finds he can’t doze off.
He’s hyperfocusing on the heat between Hannibal’s legs, where one of Will’s has slipped between. His heart is beating faster than the rhythm of Hannibal’s. The places where Hannibal is touching him, his waist, his neck, are burning hot.
Will doesn’t know if Hannibal is still awake when he kisses his neck, and sucks the spot beneath his ear faintly. He kisses again, closer to his Adam’s apple. His skin tastes like spice.
His tongue flicks out, to taste it better.
One of Will’s hands travels down his sternum where it had been resting, and brushes over his nipples, perking them incidentally. He leaves a wet kiss on the hollow of Hannibal’s throat.
Before he can take another breath, his wrists are bruising beneath the hold of Hannibal’s fingers. He has him pinned to the pillow, and he’s towering above him with dark eyes, and panting breath. Will’s cock jerks. At least he knows arousal won’t be a problem.
Hannibal looks like he’s going to ask questions, and Will doesn’t want to answer any of them. He can’t pull Hannibal into a kiss, so he lifts his hips up, grinding up against Hannibal’s half-hard cock.
The feeling forces him to throw his head back and gasp.
While exposed, Hannibal’s mouth latches onto his throat, sucking harder than Will had done, leaving marks as he retreats from spots and finds new ones. Will’s whines are hoarse, as he’s continuously held down with his wrists above his head.
Hannibal rocks his hips against him, and Will moans.
“Oh, fuck ,” barely manages to leave his lips before Hannibal is rocking again, driving his erection against Will’s, over and over. Sparks of arousal become a desperate fire, lapping at Will from the outside, burning and charring what’s left of his modesty.
Hannibal releases his wrists, and Will immediately wraps them around his neck, pulling him in for a wet, biting kiss. Hannibal’s teeth are as intrusive as Will’s tongue, but neither of them are slowing, and the questioning glint in Hannibal’s eyes has all but disappeared.
Will groans at the feeling of his dick rubbing against his silk trousers, and also against another man’s hard cock. He’s never felt that. It’s something he’s never wanted to feel, but now he’s ravenous for it. Hannibal feels so big against him, he can’t help but need it, feel it against his skin. They should probably take their clothes off, but Hannibal is making the sweetest noises in the crook of his neck.
“Will–” Hannibal’s hips stutter and Will quiets him with a kiss, trailing an arm between them to palm at his dick. It’s throbbing, jerking once when Will touches it through the cotton.
Will makes a small, aching noise, tonguing kisses just beneath Hannibal’s lower lip. He barely has his fingers under the waistband before Hannibal is grunting and jolting in his arms, coming in his pants.
As he heaves in breaths, Will squeezes his cock to feel the sticky warmth seeping into the fabric. It astonishes him that he managed to unravel him so quickly, but Hannibal appears almost ashamed, ducking his head away to kiss Will’s shoulders instead of meeting his eyes.
“Apologies, Will, I got carried away. It’s been three years,” he murmurs.
“You didn’t touch yourself while you were locked up?” Will questions, not entirely shocked, but still taken aback this is the first time since he was released.
He supposes, they haven’t had much time apart, but Hannibal could have taken care of himself while Will had been at work.
“No,” Hannibal confirms. “And I suppose I got used to going without.” He kisses Will’s neck, licks the straining tendon there. “What’s to be done with you?”
Will shudders, and wonders if he should be polite and suggest they both go back to sleep, but Hannibal has him held down by the hips. He’s scenting his throat.
“Your arousal is a delightful scent.” Will’s hips jerk forward when he bites at his collar bone. “I imagined you would be sensitive,” he murmurs, pleased beyond comparison.
“You imagine it often?”
“Not as often as I imagined how you’d taste. Would you let me?” Hannibal bats his eyes at Will, kisses his bottom lip so tenderly, Will can feel the tremble of his tongue.
“God, you think I’m gonna say no?” Will groans, hips searching for friction and finding none.
“Your pleasure is yours to take,” Hannibal whispers in his ear. “I’m yours.”
Will bumps his hips against Hannibal’s, nodding desperately. “Please,” he begs in a low voice, hands finding Hannibal’s hair. The man is already descending, pushing aside fabric to kiss skin. He hums while he licks over the tender skin of his stomach, following the trail of hair.
Will shudders bodily from the feeling of his tongue dipping into the crevices of his hip bones, so close to his hard cock, but so far all at once.
When his hips roll up on their own volition, the tip of his cock brushes Hannibal’s throat through his pants and he groans, digging nails into any scalp his fingers can find.
Though Hannibal is the teasing sort, he doesn’t do that right now.
He tugs Will’s pants and boxers down in one motion, ignoring Will’s surprised yelp. Hannibal’s mouth is instantly on him, sucking the full length of his cock between his lips.
“Hannibal, fuck,” Will croaks, spine arching forward like the string of a crossbow.
He can’t resist nudging up into his mouth, feeling the back of his throat give slightly with each push. The man has no gag reflex; Will’s never been with a woman who could deep throat. He’s not sure he’ll survive this on a regular basis. Hannibal starts sucking and he loses his mind.
“Christ.” Will’s stomach heaves up and down as he tries to catch his breath, and he dares to look down to watch the movements in the shadows. The base of his cock slips in and out of the Devil’s lips, shimmering in the moonlight.
He lets out little high-pitched breaths, tightening his fingers in Hannibal’s hair in intervals as he grows closer to release.
His hands falter when Hannibal meets his eyes. Behind those soft bangs, his nostrils flare, sucking in air, and there is a deviousness in his gaze that makes Will’s blood sing, rush further south.
Hannibal sucks harder, throat contracting around the head of Will’s cock as he takes him in quicker, the passage more slick with saliva as he goes. It’s spilling out of the seams of his lips. “Oh,” Will gasps, bottom jumping off the mattress for a second when Hannibal digs his fingers into his hips.
Closing his eyes and craning his head backward on the pillow, he feels himself hurtling toward the edge too soon, all the tension from years and years of fighting himself about to drain away.
Into the belly of the beast.
But, he doesn’t treat him as a beast would. Will is forced to grit his teeth when Hannibal’s lips longingly slide up the shaft of his cock, and grips the base with one of his hands, twisting while he tenderly sucks on the head.
“Don’t stop,” he says, voice breathy and broken. “Hannibal, don’t stop. ”
“Never, cuore mio,” his voice rumbles so low, Will can’t be sure he didn’t imagine it. He’s not in the right space of mind to be wondering about translations again, instead he’s thrusting into the tight heat offered to him. Hannibal’s mouth is slack, welcoming.
Will wonders if his body would part just as easily, and then he’s coming with a shout. He spills into Hannibal’s mouth, undulating against his face like an animal. The pleasure is bone-wracking, whiting out every sense in his body. Losing his grip on Hannibal’s hair, he grapples at his shoulders instead, nails clawing into skin to find purchase.
Will moans when Hannibal begins drawing out his aftershocks, until it becomes too much and the moans turn into whimpers.
“Holy shit, Hannibal, stop,” he begs, hips jolting when another aftershock runs through him, surging up and down his spine with a tinge of agony.
“You were telling me not to stop moments ago,” Hannibal argues in a soft murmur against the shaft of his dick. His breath on the sensitive, spit-slick skin tickles viciously and Will squirms away, grunting when Hannibal holds him in place.
“Don’t torture me,” he pleads in a quiet tone.
For a moment, Will thinks he just might, but Hannibal pats his thigh so Will can lift up his hips and helps him put his pants and boxers back in place.
Will pulls him close for a kiss, but Hannibal shrugs away.
“I must put on a change of clothes,” he explains, disappearing into the bathroom with a new set of trousers. The sink turns on, and then off, and Hannibal emerges fresh and clean.
Will grabs him when he’s in reach and wraps his arms around his waist, winds his way around his body fully when he manages to settle himself. Sleep is definitely an option now seeing as Will can scarcely keep his eyes open or move his limbs again.
Hannibal’s own arm languidly strokes the small of his back, falling limp a few seconds later.
Will didn’t think they would be able to have this, this early on. Considering he’s never been attracted to men, has never considered sleeping with one, he feared it wouldn’t exactly pan out the way he’d maybe hoped before running off with him, but he finds he’s excited to explore these new things with Hannibal, and he’s anticipating overwhelming him further.
He’s never felt more sated. It’s strange to look forward to satiation. Usually, he never sought out sex but encouraged it when it came to him, now he’s enthralled by the idea of Hannibal taking him apart and putting him back together again.
Whenever circumstance finds them willing.
Like their teacup.
With Hannibal’s soft snoring in his ear and his heart thumping rapidly, slowing as he falls deeper into sleep, Will manages to match his breathing to his, and falls asleep with ease.
Will finds he’s come down with post-holiday melancholy.
It is the next morning, and despite the Christmas decorations still subsuming the house, he can’t seem to feel enthused, about his breakfast, or the continued days of December left for them.
“It’s ridiculous,” he tells Hannibal while the man is refilling his juice. “I’m not even a holiday person, why is it getting under my skin?”
“Perhaps because you enjoyed yourself, and for the first time you allowed yourself to without consequence,” Hannibal suggests, sitting back down at the dining table.
Will pokes his belgium waffle with a fork.
“You don’t need to throw my own words back into my face,” he replies without venom, finally cutting into his breakfast. It’s fantastic of course, but that only makes his mood drop farther into the pit of self-pity because he can’t fully appreciate it.
“Will, there will be many more Decembers to spend with one another.”
“That’s it though, isn’t it. We don’t know that for certain.”
“I do,” Hannibal swears, utensils placed back down. He waits until Will makes eye contact; he’s conditioned him over the years to feel safer, more connected with him in this way. “Jack Crawford and the others will spend days such as these alone, finding dead ends, and looking in opposite ends of the world for us while we make the most of every second we have side by side. There are those who are not so lucky.”
“We can’t run forever,” Will murmurs, but the fight is draining out of him.
“I can,” Hannibal protests easily, taking a sip of his coffee, “I have. The only difference now is that I have four legs instead of two. If you ask me, the more legs, the longer and faster one can run.”
Oddly, the analogy makes Will feel at ease.
“Unless you chop off one of mine because you’re feeling peckish,” he teases, but Hannibal shoots back with a remark that has him choking on his waffle.
“I’d much rather stick to tasting you as I did last night.”
Flushed, Will jabs the back of Hannibal’s hand with a fork when he reaches over to intertwine their fingers. Unaffected, Hannibal draws his hand away with a laugh. Will snarls.
Spring seems far away until the snow begins to melt, and new species of birds begin to flock in, pecking at their window in the morning. With each day that passes, another day draws them closer to their trip to Argentina.
Will weans their acquaintances off of their company, making sure he socializes with them less, taking fewer trips to the general store for necessities.
It is more difficult with Tarben who sees Will nearly every week, but if you make no effort to interact with a person, usually that person decides it’s not enough to know you and becomes weary of you, gives up trying to be your friend. There is a sliver of guilt that comes with it, but Will is a selfish person at heart. He knows the guilt comes from his empathy, and when he’s gone, he won’t think for a moment about Tarben.
Maybe he’ll think about his dogs, though.
Hannibal makes sure there is little to no food in the house a week before their departure. They’re living off of crumbs, not wanting to leave the house stocked and full for any unwanted guests.
The property is lovely, and a good backup, but a few days before their departure, Will suggests selling it, just in case the FBI does find it and trace it to them somehow.
Hannibal manages to arrange a real estate agent to sell the house, however long that takes, it’s now out of their hands.
At the airport, Will begins to panic. It doesn’t show on his face, except for his typical overactive sweat glands. He’s never liked plane rides, and he’s extremely wary of airport security, that is until he sees the security Danmark has hired at the gates.
There aren’t even any security cameras as he suspected.
“No wonder you wanted to take a flight,” Will mumbles.
Hannibal didn’t bring a disguise, which Will had badgered him about for months before their trip, and now he realizes why he’d been so loosy-goosy about the whole thing.
They get through security with their fake IDs smoothly and efficiently and are an hour early to their flight. Will buys them peanuts at the snack booth in the waiting area. They share a bag while they wait for their flight to be called.
The panic has fizzled out, becomes a low roar.
“Have you ever killed someone on a plane?” Will asks casually.
Hannibal’s shoulders rise in a silent chuckle, holding a peanut between his thumb and forefinger for Will to eat. He takes it between his teeth begrudgingly. Hannibal is a pest when it comes to public displays of affection now. If Will doesn’t indulge his smaller whims, bigger ones are bound to have backlash on Will’s dignity.
“No, of course not. The quarters are too close.”
“Wouldn’t put anything past you,” Will mutters with only a healthy smidge of bitterness. “You dropped Rinaldo Pazzi out a window in front of Jack Crawford.”
“I did not see Jack Crawford until after I gutted him and pushed him,” Hannibal contends. “Though, that wouldn’t have stopped me, I suppose.”
“Why do you want to know if I’ve ended a life on a plane?”
“I’m afraid you’re gonna wanna join the mile high club for murderers,” Will retorts, shaking his head when Hannibal’s brows knit together like an innocent puppy dog. “You know you would if the opportunity to get away with it arose.”
“Perhaps you can distract me by helping me join the actual mile high club,” Hannibal murmurs, dipping his face into Will’s neck to place a ticklish kiss on the lobe of his ear.
Will huffs in disbelief, poking the inside of his mouth with his tongue.
“You did not just ask me to have sex with you during a flight”
“Have you looked over your ticket at all?” Hannibal asks with a frown.
Will sighs and takes out his boarding pass. He reads every word, twice, until it registers. “Good god, we’re getting a bed?”
“First class perks,” Hannibal muses. “Don’t worry, I’ll find ways of keeping you quiet.”
“I’m not having sex with you when there’s fifty other people around to hear it!” Will whisper-shouts. “The last thing we need is to draw attention to ourselves on an international flight.”
“Whatever you say, cuore mio.”
Will rolls his eyes and waits for their flight to be called.
The token protests in the waiting room of the airport apparently were just that. Tokens. Because somehow, after a long nap, Hannibal kisses Will raw until he agrees to be fucked on the small two-person bed. To be fair, he hadn’t expected their little den to be so closed off from others. The sheets are silk for god’s sake, and the attendants had brought them champagne of all things.
“Faster, please faster,” Will begs softly in Hannibal’s ear, but Hannibal’s fucks him slower, nearly making him whine before he can stop himself.
“You’ll scream if I go any faster,” Hannibal whispers playfully, thrusting his hips hard once as if to prove it. A choked noise erupts from Will’s lips and he bites his tongue.
The sheets are covering their bodies, and they’re drowning in sweat, but he’s pleasantly sticking to every part of Hannibal’s body in a way that makes him feel like they’re two amoebas forming into one. Like he can melt into him.
“Yeah, like that,” Will whispers back as Hannibal picks up the pace just a tad, the perfect amount for him to focus on the slick rhythm of Hannibal’s cock thrusting in and out of his body.
Hannibal muffles a grunt into his skin and Will covers his mouth with a hand before his gasps can become breathy moans. He bites his fingers for good measure, focus wavering on the pain rather than the pleasure. The two meld into one, and the harder he bites his own hand, the louder he wants to moan.
“Stop, stop,” Will mutters frantically as Hannibal starts to thrust harder, jostling him up the bed. “Just for a minute.”
Panting, Hannibal slips out of his body. Will’s rim clenches around air, throbs with the loss as he flips onto his stomach. He wiggles his ass against Hannibal’s dripping erection.
From this angle, he can shove his face into the pillow.
He’s sure the next passenger over can hear the muffled slapping noises or sharp gasps that escape them, but Will can’t find it within himself to care, not when he can taste his orgasm on the horizon.
Will’s damp forehead and curls soak the pillow and he sighs into the cushion with each push Hannibal gives him. He turns his head a little when the rocking slows momentarily, and when he opens his eyes he can see the sun and the bright blue-green sky above Argentina.
They are almost home.
Hannibal comes inside Will muttering, “Il mio,” on his skin. Another phrase for the Google Translate roster. Will comes with a muffled cry into the pillow, cock spurting in Hannibal’s tight grip as he twists over the head.
Hannibal goes to work cleaning every drop of semen from Will’s body, even his own. When his tongue dips inside his twitching hole, he nearly forgets to muffle his shout into the pillow. It takes a few minutes of sucking and licking, arousing him without relief, to lathe him clean.
Weakly, Will rolls onto his back and returns his gaze to the morning sun.
Beside him, Hannibal finds an Altoid can and pops a mint into his mouth.
He gathers Will in his arms and kisses his neck sweetly, smelling of peppermint and sex. It may not be much, but it is everything to Will.
When Hannibal falls asleep, limbs loosely strung around him, Will can’t help but wonder how cold the winters in Argentina get. When the plane begins to descend, Will thinks, will there be snow?