The thing Will should have expected of Hannibal is that he has safe houses all over the world. But one place he never would have expected is the sprawling hills of Cuba.
After their plunge into the Atlantic it was Will that had kept them floating on the water until Chiyoh had been able to drive the boat out to collect them.
Although Will had intended for them both to die through the fall, the moment they had hit the water Will no longer wanted them to die. Hannibal had been unconscious when Chiyoh had pulled them aboard. When Will finally had the relative solidity of the boat deck beneath him his body had shut down.
Later he woke up in a bed to the rocking motion of the boat and the constant noise of a boat engine. Every inch of his body was sore, it hurt more than being stabbed. Panic suffused him when he didn't see Hannibal anywhere near him. He had a bandage over his cheek, and he can feel the slight pull of stitches when he moves his jaw. Will’s head is fuzzy with what he assumes are pain killers. He had hoped that the cut had not damaged any nerves that might have prevented him from speaking. There was another thick bandage on his shoulder where the dragon had stabbed him. Luckily for him it hadn’t been in the left shoulder, that had already been a mess of scars that was prone to stiffening during weather changes. Two bullet wounds in the same shoulder had meant the muscle and skin was a mess of knotted scars.
When he looked down at himself his entire torso was covered in mottled black and blue bruises. Another bandage was taped around his chest, likely to stop any broken ribs from moving around. Will got out of the bed and pulled the robe that hung from the back of the door over himself, thankful that he was wearing pajama bottoms at least.
He staggered out of the cabin he was in and towards the deck. The boat was larger than he had been able to make out in the darkness on the Atlantic. There on the deck he found Chiyoh who was bent over a map and occasionally looking out over the horizon.
“Morning.” He slurred at her. His tongue feels heavy and thick in his mouth.
“Will. You shouldn’t be up yet.” She had looked disapprovingly at him as he sunk down onto the deck. “And you definitely shouldn’t be talking.”
“‘Annibal?” Will needed to know whether the man was still alive. After all he wasn’t going to live in a world without Hannibal if he couldn’t live with him.
“He’s alive. In much rougher shape than you. But alive.”
Will would not have been able the relief he had felt in that moment. But it was profound. Will knows that he had never felt so light as did knowing that Hannibal was alive, and Will hadn’t killed him.
“Yes, you can see him.” Chiyoh had said and then had waited for Will to gather strength. She led him back down into the body of the boat. Right next to the open door of the cabin he had slept in had been another door.
He had pushed the door open slowly. Hannibal was there in the bed. His chest had been barely moving. But there was movement. Will staggered into the cabin and fell into the seat next to his bed. Will had reached for Hannibal’s hand and held on to it. It was frighteningly cold. “‘How long asleep?” Will managed to grind the words out even though it hurt him to do.
“A day. I’m surprised that you’re up to be entirely honest.”
Will managed to scoot the chair closer to the bed, and took hold of Hannibal’s hand again.
“You should go back to bed,”
“No.” Will was resolute that he was going to stay by Hannibal’s side for as long as it took for him to wake up again.
“I managed to patch up the wound and it looks like there is no exception. But it will take time.”
“We are going to have to be careful with the American coast. I imagine your old boss would be looking for you all along the eastern coast.”
Will had only hummed, he knew that Chiyoh was right but he was so worried about Hannibal. “Cuba.”
“That could work. How’s your Spanish?”
Will half shrugged. He was okay, it had been many years since he had taken Spanish but he knew that once Hannibal was awake he would have been able to hold conversation.
“Well, I’ll set course for Cuba then.”
Will nodded and his attention was back on Hannibal. He had fallen asleep quickly after, sitting in the chair. He had woken up again when his hand was squeezed. This time when he woke he was in agony but his head was clear.
He whimpered in pain when he tried to sit up again. Hannibal had made a calming noise and then Chiyoh was in the room. She gave him a pill to swallow and he had taken it without water but it had gotten stuck in the back of his throat. Chiyoh had given him a water bottle and he had gulped the water until the pill had slid down his throat.
“Not what I was expecting to wake up to.” Hannibal had said once Will stopped spluttering. He sounded amused at him. “You should be in bed. You’ve been stabbed.”
“Shot.” Will had countered, tears stinging in his eyes.
“Get into bed.”
“Yes.” Hannibal had been resolute and Will somehow managed to get into the bed next to Hannibal. An arm is wrapped around him and he was sure that he felt a kiss at the top of his head but he couldn’t be sure.
When Will had woken again it was in Hannibal’s arms, his breathing was much stronger than the last time he was awake. This time there was a drip in his arm. He looked over at Hannibal who was still asleep. Will knew it was just due to the painkillers, sure that Hannibal was a light sleeper that would have woken at almost the smallest noise.
He looked deceptively harmless like this. Nothing like the monster Will knew him to be. But even monsters had moments of peace. Will had been content just watching Hannibal sleep, unsure when he would ever get the opportunity to see Hannibal like this again.
Then Hannibal’s eyes had fluttered open, he had smiled at Will with such a fond expression when he had seen Will in his arms that he had felt his heart warm. It was one thing Bedelia all but confirming that Hannibal loved him but it was something else to see even a fraction of it in Hannibal’s eyes.
“Morning.” Hannibal had said, his voice laced with pain.
“As much as to be expected. And you shouldn't be talking.” Hannibal considered him for long moments. “Although I would love nothing more than to engage in conversation with you. I’d much rather you didn’t hurt yourself further.”
Will had nodded and settled back against Hannibal. Hannibal’s hand was on his back drawing lazy circles there that soothed Will into sleep.
“I imagine that Chiyoh has set course for somewhere with a hospital.”
“What did I say?” Hannibal admonished but there was mirth in his voice.
Will nodded again.
“So Cuba. That’s good, I have a house there. Always in need of somewhere that has few extradition laws with the US.”
It was strange that Hannibal had been so open about his plans but Will knows now that with killing a dragon together their bond had been made permanent. That moment on the cliff had felt like they had said their vow to one another. Then Will had remembered Molly and he had sat up in a panic.
“Chiyoh has organised divorce papers that will be filed if we are not declared dead.”
Will had looked at the ring on his left hand. He had tried to pull it off his finger but his shoulder hurt too much. Hannibal had helped him take the ring of his finger. Will missed the weight of the ring but he was almost certain that Hannibal would eventually replace it. Especially with the way Hannibal had looked at his finger like he was already planning on the replacement.
He had thrown the ring across the room, no longer wanting to have it near him. He had loved Molly in a way but it was nothing to the way he knew he loved Hannibal. There was no way that he would ever be without Hannibal again.
They had spent days in that cabin recovering as much as they were able. Hannibal seemed like he was recovering more quickly than Will. Until they had been a day away from the Cuban coast. His body had started shivering even in sleep. No matter how many blankets Will had covered him in and then had curled around him to try and keep him warm. He was almost incoherent in delirium. They had run out of antibiotics because Hannibal still insisted that Will took his dose of antibiotics.
Panic had begun to take hold of Will again, it felt like Hannibal was slipping away right in front of his eyes and there was nothing that he was able to do. Chiyoh radioed ahead to the coastal guard to arrange an ambulance to be waiting for them.
Finally the boat docked and EMTs rushed on board and put Hannibal onto the stretcher. Will right behind them, even though they had tried to push him onto a stretcher of his own. He knew that it was the only way that he was able to stay with Hannibal. Chiyoh’s rapid fire Spanish had washed over him as he was put into a different ambulance than Hannibal. He remembered asking for Hannibal in broken Spanish but he can’t remember a single thing that was said to him in answer to his questions.
They had reached the hospital and Will had been examined but no one told him anything about what Hannibal’s status was. The stitches in his cheek had been removed and then replaced, the irrigation of the wound had made Will want to cry in pain. Then the wound in his shoulder had been examined, the only thing that they did to the wound on his shoulder was change the bandage. Then they had given him a shot of something and he was taken to another room. There on the bed was Hannibal, an alarming amount of drips and machines are attached to him. Chiyoh was in the corner of the room, like she was guarding him. Hannibal’s breathing was ragged and Will was terrified that Hannibal was going to die.
A doctor approached him and then explained that Hannibal was suffering with a raging infection. They had decided that they would need to operate on him the following day. Will had only nodded along, he should have noticed sooner and refused his dose of antibiotics so that Hannibal could survive. Will had sunk into the chair next to Hannibal’s bed.
Suddenly he was reminded of that moment in the hospital all those years ago with Abigail. It seemed like decades ago now. Years of hurt between them all felt inconsequential in that moment, the only thing he needed then was Hannibal’s survival.
Chiyoh had tried to persuade him to go to the hotel she had found for them. He had refused, there was no way that he was leaving Hannibal’s side. She had nodded as though she understood and left him there.
Will jerks awake, his dream had been so vivid. He knows it’s because of the memories of their journey and arrival in Cuba. Next to him Hannibal wakes too, he looks at Will and when he sees the look in his eyes he seems to understand because he pulls Will back against his chest with a murmur and a kiss to his head. Just the way he had when he had first woken up in Hannibal’s arms on the boat.
“I’m sorry.” Will says after a beat. “I should have done more”
“You did everything right. You remember what the doctor had said. It was just something that was inevitable without surgery. It’s not like Chiyoh had a sterile environment.”
Will nods even though he doesn’t know what to do about it. Hannibal tightens his arms around him. “It’s early. We have a few hours yet till dawn. Sleep my love.”
He will never get tired of Hannibal calling him “my love”. The easy affection they have built since their arrival in Cuba reminds Will of the easy touches Hannibal would dole out when they first knew each other. During those sessions in Hannibal’s office where they had only spoken to each other in obfuscation and metaphors, never quite telling the exact truth but a version of the truth.
Will buries his head back into Hannibal’s chest, Hannibal’s hand is in his hair. It’s soothing to have Hannibal’s hands running along his scalp. He had always admired Hannibal’s hands even before he had been truly aware of his attraction to the man. Will thinks the moment he had realised that Hannibal’s hands were equally capable of giving life and destruction was in the back of that ambulance. Hannibal had been in complete control and that had made Will see him in a different light. Even if he had tried to suppress the moment to the back of his memory.
Hannibal is murmuring something in French, Will is able to decipher snippets of the sentences. But he knows that it is confessions of love. It swells his heart and Will lifts his head to look into Hannibal’s eyes.
There he sees that undeniable love Hannibal has for him. “I love you, you know.”
Seeing Hannibal’s face go blank for a second before his eyes turn hungry makes Will realise that he hasn’t said those words to Hannibal before. He thought he had, it was so obvious to him that Hannibal would have known.
“Oh mylimas. I love you so.” Hannibal whispers before he is pulling at Will’s shoulders to get him closer. Lips meet lips and Will melts against Hannibal. They had been so easy with their affection for each other. But it seems that they have not said those exact words before directly to one another.
There is little pretense now, it is all out in the open. Will feels as though he has been flayed open for Hannibal to inspect all of his parts. He wants to lay everything bare to the man. Because he knows that Hannibal had done the same for him, even before Will had been ready to acknowledge the very thing between them.
He is surprised how easy it is to be kissing Hannibal now. Will had never been one to enjoy kissing before, saw it as a means to an end sometimes, the expected thing. Molly had never seemed to mind too much. He was affectionate in other ways. But kissing Hannibal is like breathing again for the first time after holding your breath: all consuming and cathartic.
His lips part and Hannibal uses the opportunity to trace over every line of Will’s mouth. It is just another part for Hannibal to lay bare as he sees fit. When Hannibal draws back his eyes are shining and Will can feel answering tears in his own eyes.
Will has to kiss Hannibal again, can think of nothing else. So he does, presses kisses against Hannibal’s lips that turn to nips and soothing brushes. Until Will’s mouth feels hot and bruised with the force. He is breathing heavily and each lungful of air makes him feel dizzy with want. One of Hannibal’s hands is in his hair and the other is clutching at his hips. They’ll leave bruises with the way Hannibal is clinging to him. But he wants nothing else than to be marked by this man. The scars they have given each other pale in comparison thus far, these feel more deliberate somehow. Even though every wound they have enacted on one another was carefully chosen. But having a mark of Hannibal’s now feels like it is a choice, one that binds him to Hannibal as any wedding vow might.
“Marry me.” Will whispers against Hannibal’s lips between one breath and the next. Now tears really are falling down both their cheeks. Will tastes the salted liquid, realising now that he has to consume Hannibal just as much as Hannibal must consume him. This hunger is paramount and makes his stomach ache with its power.
“Yes.” Hannibal breathes into the space between them. Will captures his lips again, bites down until he tastes the bright tang of copper. Hannibal hisses and tightens both of his hands. He pulls at Will’s hair until he has to let go of Hannibal to keep his hair.
“Dangerous boy.” Hannibal purrs, he sounds proud. Blood is shining at his lips and when Will licks his own he can taste Hannibal. “Come to exact your pound of flesh?”
“Someone has to.” Will says with a smile. Hannibal rears up so Will is sat with his legs framing Hannibal’s hips and kisses him again. He nips at Will’s lips and then down his throat. His teeth rest over Will’s throat and he knows that if Hannibal wanted to he could rip out his throat. The thought shouldn’t send arousal through him but it does.
Hannibal only presses a kiss over his throat though, following a path down to the center of Will's chest. He sinks his teeth into the spot just above his heart. Skin splits around Hannibal’s teeth and Will hisses at the sting. Hannibal lathes the wound with his tongue and then kisses Will again. This time he knows that the copper on Hannibal’s mouth is his own. Will grinds his hips down against the hot length of Hannibal.
He should have known that when it came down to it they could never be gentle in the way it had been with Molly. Hannibal wraps his arms around Will and in one motion has Will on his back in the center of the bed.
Will throws his head back and Hannibal sucks a bruise right over his Adam's apple. A reminder of what his teeth could to Will that sends a fissure of heat through him.
“What am I to do with you?” Hannibal says between nips to Will’s throat. He knows that by the end of this his neck will be adorned by a collar of Hannibal’s teeth. Marks that will fade eventually, and Will doesn’t want them to.
“Make me yours.” Will breathes. His heart is racing. “You already have made me yours in soul. Now make me yours in body.”
“Careful. That sounds almost like you’re pledging your life to mine.”
“Even Stevens.” Will laughs.
“Yours for mine?” Hannibal pulls back slightly to look into Will’s eyes.
“Mine and yours.” Will echoes. “Until death comes for us.”
“Until death comes for us.” Hannibal echoes. He seals the promise with a kiss. They may not have a piece of paper to prove it yet. But they have this; a promise made in between breaths and gasps.