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Two months it took for them both to respectively heal. Two months and then today, the first note of spring in the air, where both felt restored. Persephone leaves her Hades lonesome to return from the Underworld- notes of beginnings and endings circling around and weaving lives on a thread. Immortality granted in something concrete. Equal standing for the first time touched by feet that don’t know what to do when they aren’t scrambling for high ground. 

The journey from the depths of the Atlantic to the plains of Switzerland was a long and restless one. It left scars both physical and mental on both of them they wouldn’t leave behind for a long while, if ever. Hannibal’s gunshot wound had only grazed an intestine but had left a merciless infection in its wake. With limited medical expertise, Will had tirelessly rebandaged and cleaned it after Hannibal groggily used his arsenal of experience to stitch them both up. 

That night, weighed down by blood and water and epiphanies alike, Will had left Hannibal on the beach- he’d taken the blow, catching Will’s weight as they hit the water. He was the blanket to Will’s fall, closer to the bedrock Jack had hoped to be. Will made sure he was breathing- shallow but an ever present relief, before venturing to the nearest road. There were few cars out this late at night, even less FBI, who wouldn’t be on their trail until the next morning. And even then, the dead driver Will left out as bait led them astray first. He’d killed him with desperate adrenaline, hands on either side of his neck, and then a mighty jerk. 

Will tore off the license plate and chucked it off the road before taking the first aid kit from the back as well as the everything he could carry that the driver had handy- a jacket, a bottle of water, and a pack of beef jerky. By then, the knife wound in his shoulder had made it a bitch to lift or carry anything at all, so he’d dived out of sight just as the headlights of another car had started to illuminate him. 

Hannibal had been barely conscious by the time he’d come back. Will hadn’t the capacity for speech, so with grunts and outstretched arms he’d coerced Hannibal up and they’d hobbled, half-supporting the other’s weight, until they were far enough away from civilization to rest. In the light of the moon, Will had handed Hannibal the water and let him stitch their wounds. 

Shortly after that the line of consciousness blurred and they’d been woken by the crunch of leaves. Chiyoh stood, looking down at them. Will had been too exhausted to feel anything near embarrassment at being tucked against Hannibal’s chest. Hannibal wasn’t really aware. His fever had set in by then. 

 

She’d helped them with sidelong glances at Will throughout. Though she didn’t trust him- he didn’t blame her, he suspected she was the reason they’d fared so well.

 

Another month then, once they were finally on their property, that it took them to rest. Will had been steadily improving. His face was scarred and his shoulder had regained some mobility. He knew that it wouldn’t be like before without proper treatment but if he could use it well enough, he didn’t much care. Maybe he wanted the slight twinge of pain there. A reminder- of becoming, of rebirth. 

He went fishing, cooked to the best of his abilities- which, really, he wasn’t all that bad. Will would call it better than decent. Hannibal was unresponsive for a while, in and out of bouts of unrestful sleep as the infection ran its course. Will got him to eat, more and more each day. It was almost sweet- the nurture he’d let win out over his own nature, calling, like Bedelia would, to crush the vulnerable bird at his mercy. He was one who would help and he knew it through and through. 

By the third week, Hannibal offered more than monosyllabic responses, and to Will’s relief they were in English rather than what he’d inferred was Lithuanian. 

Tonight, recalling just what Hannibal had made for him all those years ago, Will leaves the kitchen and enters their bedroom. At first the bed sharing had been to keep an eye on Hannibal as he tossed and turned throughout the night, and eventually as the risk of him injuring himself in his sleep faded, nightmares and fever a deadly combination, Will had grown accustomed to the sound of Hannibal’s exhales and inhales as he too fell asleep. 

Hannibal’s awake, eyes half open and taking in the view the floor to ceiling windows provided. He doesn’t show any signs of noticing Will before he speaks. 

“This property has not been one I’ve had the pleasure of visiting before. I assume you enjoy the nature, as do I,” he says. “Should you find paper and charcoal, I would quite like to sketch the view before us.” 

Will isn’t naive and he knows that rather than a request, it is an order. He had the paper and charcoal pencils left around, presumably by Chiyoh who had gotten them settled, waiting for the moment Hannibal would ask. He lifts his head from Hannibal now, having surveyed that he was much less pale than the days before and the tiredness to his form was a recovering tiredness. Relief drops the tension from his jaw and Will scans the trees through the window. They are far out, past the stretches of suburbia or city. It was a half an hour drive to acquire groceries, which Will had made the first time in fifteen minutes, still in the onset of separation anxiety he’d now nipped at the bud. 

“Tomorrow,” Will answers. “You should eat.” 

Hannibal turns his head, for the first time gazing at Will. Will had come and gone without the consideration of scrutiny over the past month, and now upon its return he sheepishly stands taller and rolls his shoulders back. 

“Your cheek has healed well,” Hannibal says. His voice is hoarse. Will shakes off the odd feeling of being seen through and sits on the edge of the bed to hand Hannibal a glass of water. 

With his now free hand not holding the bowl of soup, he trails a finger along the two-inch long crooked line along his face. It hurts if he presses too hard, if he smiles too wide or too long, but the angry redness had left his skin in recent days. “It’s strange,” Will says. “To have wounds that aren’t from you.” 

Hannibal smiles over his glass. “Dear boy, they are all from me,” is all he says before he downs the rest of the water. 

Will leaves him his soup. He’d shot down Hannibal’s protests over eating in bed early on, harshly replying that he’d rather change the sheets after every meal than carry Hannibal, who had been unable to walk much at the time, to the dining room and back. He fared better now, often standing by the bookshelves around the house and then leaving early to bed when Will saw weariness in his form. He wanted Hannibal healed. Him over exerting himself would set back that process. And maybe, Will thought to himself one night as Hannibal slept peacefully, head on Will’s chest, he enjoyed Hannibal's dependence on him. 

When he returns with a refilled glass of water, Hannibal freezes, spoon held up to his lips. “You made me chicken soup,” Hannibal notes. 

Will remembers what they both remember. They had been two different people back then, and now they’d bled into one another. It had taken so long. It had been the ugliest thing in the world, and still its eventual radiance reminded Will only of beauty. “Yes.” 

He sits where he was before. “Your fever’s been broken for a few days.” 

“The infection has passed,” Hannibal agrees. “My strength is returning to me.” 

Will bites back a smile. He grabs the book off of Hannibal’s nightstand and flips open to a page, starting to read as Hannibal eats. It’s very domestic, and though Will hadn’t considered that dynamic between them until it had reared its head, he found himself falling into it willingly. It wouldn’t last when they were fully restored, but while they healed Will would let it continue. Hannibal would too, he thought, when he felt the weight of the other man’s hand on his hand as Will lowered it once he’d turned the page. He turns the pages one-handed after that, other hand under Hannibal’s with no intent towards moving it away.

 

Will brings the dishes back to wash and when he returns, Hannibal has fallen asleep. His mouth is hanging open and Will rolls his eyes before he tilts the other’s jaw back and crawls into bed beside him. Hannibal doesn’t even stir. Will looks down at the man who had rested his head on his chest in soft shock and affection he’s learning not to berate himself for holding. He presses a barely audible kiss to his hairline and then reaches to turn the lights off. Will inwardly curses when he feels the curling of lips into a smile in the crook of his neck. He’s the one smiling next, when a gentle kiss is left on his jaw. 

No nightmares plague him, nor do they Hannibal. 

 

Come morning Will is awoken by a hand calmly trailing up and down his side. He opens his eyes. Hannibal rests still, eyes shut but hand moving. Will admires the slight upturn of his mouth, the calm almost-smile of an unguarded Hannibal. When he comes back, the other has opened his eyes and stopped moving his hand.

“Mornin’,” Will says, voice rough with sleep. 

Hannibal’s weight on his chest is mourned when the other man shifts onto his back. “I think it’s time you approve of me returning to activities that do not consist of mariating in this room or the study.” 

Displeasure blooms and makes his once resting expression go sour. “Just because you’re more awake and alert doesn’t mean you should risk a setback in recovering,” Will comments. 

Hannibal clears his throat, sparing Will a half-hearted scowl. The other does not flinch. He’d once known a cold jolt of fear or the fear of his blood turning to ice, but instead the trace of emotion he detects sends a thrill of excitement down Will’s spine. 

“I did practice medicine, as I’m sure you’ve not forgotten. You can trust me to take my state into consideration. I can take care of myself.” 

Will finds that what he says next is complete honesty. “I like taking care of you.” 

Hannibal’s eyes widen imperceptibly before his face falls back to neutral. “And I’ve let you, as you did pull us over the eroding bluff and worsen the injuries already present.” 

“Yeah,” Will says, carding a hand through Hannibal’s hair. The softness of the action does not match his snappy tone. “And I didn’t get stabbed twice, thanks. You let me pull us over.” 

Their eyes meet as their heads turn in sync. They had always been terribly tuned to each other. 

Will ducks his head to scratch at his neck and looks away. “Bedelia and I had sessions,” he starts. “When I came back to consult on Dolarhyde’s case.” 

“And to see me,” Hannibal adds. He preferred their reunion to Francis’ becoming. Although the two had faded into one another, a bloodbath and a consummation. 

A jerky nod. “Yes.” Will shifts. “Bluebeard’s wife,” he says, side-eyeing Hannibal. 

Hannibal’s top lip quirks. For a moment, Will unintentionally mimics it on his own face. In a second, it vanishes, but Hannibal had already committed it to memory. It had been a long time since he had memorised every quality of Will- three years still heavy on him, of struggling to see clearly in his mind palace the exact brand of unruly Will’s curls once he’d messed them up. Or even, the way his smile would show his teeth before his face lost its quality of joy. Hannibal wanted to sketch each stage of that, from the initial repulsion Will so often made clear, the surprised smile, easy to miss but easy to look for if one was so inclined, which Hannibal was, and then the inevitable shyness after displaying a reaction. 

“Secrets you’re not to know but sworn to keep,” Hannibal replies. 

Will hums. “You went through that routine with her and she took it to me,” he says, rolling over to Hannibal once again. The other welcomes him and turns to accommodate their continuing conversation- each on their side facing each other. “She also told me that you were in love with me.” 

Hannibal blinks. Will watches his face- there isn’t much but even after all these years he never let himself forget what to search for. He purses his lips slightly and Will wants to reach across them and press a hand to Hannibal’s chest to feel how fast his heart is beating. A puff of breath, could be amusement or something nervous. How unlike Hannibal that was. 

“I asked,” Will carries on. “A daily stab of hunger you have for me, and nourishment you gain at the very sight of me,” he says. Words fall from his mouth like pomegranates. Hannibal does feel tempted at the moment. He allows Will to continue. “And then she asked me if I ache for you.”

They look at each other again and this time neither seems keen on looking away. Hannibal almost wants to, out of the sheer intensity of Will’s gaze and the accuracy of his words. 

“Do you ache for me?” Hannibal asks.

“You plunged a knife through me and left me to bleed,” Will states. “And you lit my brain of fire and fanned it until the flames burned me inside out. I was aware you intended for rebirth too late. And on the cliff I was aware that I loved you too late.” Hannibal looks utterly captivated, mouth hanging as it did when he’d fallen asleep, although he could not be more awake. In this attention, Will delights. “Here,” he drawls, slower. Hannibal hangs onto the word. It’s intoxicating. Will had been drawn to power from the moment he put ten bullets in a man he’d let haunt him for too long, and had chased it yet with his later pursuits. He found it was never more satisfying than having it over Hannibal. He intended to keep it that way, believed Hannibal would want that too. “- is what I want, Hannibal.” At the sound of his name, the man’s focus sharpens. Hook, line, and sinker. Will was a good fisherman. “Achilles, Patrocolus,” he remembers out loud. Hannibal’s fingers twitch. “How lovers can love so ardently that it kills them. The only times you have held me were the times you saved my life after putting me in danger, or before you readied yourself to hurt me. Our only embrace,” he breathes, moving closer. Hannibal is still. “-was when you tried to cut the part you didn’t like out of me, and when I tried to toss it into the Atlantic so it couldn’t hurt anyone.” He lays a hand on Hannibal’s chest now. The beat of his heart is quick. Exciting. “I’m done trying to be good. Righteous,” Will adds the word. “I don’t want to keep denying these feelings- about you,” he formulates, as he had once during a simpler time, resuming his therapy. “I had nightmares for three years, on and off. I told her they were about you. They were never about you,” he ventures, dreadfully earnest. “They were because you weren’t there.” 

Hannibal’s hand lays on top of Will’s as it did the evening before, squashing it between his chest and hand. Will doesn’t make any move to pull it away. He moves closer, tracing the line from Hannibal’s neck to their knuckles with his upper lip. This time, he can feel Hannibal’s heartbeat under his lips. 

“I am here now, Will,” Hannibal says. “Stay with me.” 

Will smiles up at him. “I have nowhere else to go. Isn’t that what you wanted?” 

A sigh from Hannibal. He moves his other hand to swipe at Will’s curls, hanging over his eyes. He doesn’t pick his hand back up, though. “Always,” Hannibal replies. “And you want it now?” 

“Yes.” He doesn’t say he’s sorry it took this long. He would not have changed it. 

Hannibal leans in. Will dodges. Hannibal’s lips brush his cheek instead. Will’s brush his upper jaw beside his ear. They breathe in each other’s space. 

 

By the time they’d each gotten up and showered, the sun was high in the sky. Their unusually leisure morning led to them lazing around the house. Will was sitting on the floor next to the couch that Hannibal had draped himself over. He carried himself better now, no favoring the side without the gunshot wound. Will was happy to see that progress. 

He’d spent the early days taking walks and fishing as much as he could with the shoulder wound healing. The knowledge that Hannibal was fitfully in the throes of infection kept him going even when his shoulder got stiff and locked up.

Will recalls fishing for hours, half of him still in their bedroom watching Hannibal’s rest and breathing in time with him so he was assured Hannibal’s heart would keep beating. And then upon coming home, he’d exercise his- pale in comparison to Hannibal’s, cooking skills on mostly fish-based dishes and a variety of soups that didn’t take much effort for Hannibal to eat. The most gentle they’d been were the early evenings where Hannibal, hot with fever, blinked into waking with Will’s hand in his hair and soft words from his mouth Will was eternally grateful Hannibal was never fully conscious for. 

 

He leans his head back into Hannibal’s flank. Hannibal grunts softly. It was right against the sensitive entry wound. Will fabulously enjoyed the upper hand, knowing something Hannibal didn’t. Will let his weight go and pile in that one spot. Hannibal doesn’t speak but instead shifts upwards so his ribs- he’d lost weight both in convalescence and before then in the BSHCI- nick Will’s ear. 

Will suppresses an eye roll. He tilts his head up. 

Hannibal had already been looking at him. “You spend months caring for me, changing my bandages and nursing my wounds, and you forget where they are located?” 

“I didn’t forget,” says Will, half his mouth fighting a smile. 

To see Hannibal genuinely stumped has to be one of his favorite sights. The other frowns and there’s an angle to his neck that reminds Will of Hannibal’s attentive listening during their former conversations, never official sessions.

“Can you stand?” Will asks. 

Hannibal shuts his mouth as it opens. He nudges Will, who complies, and then moves to stand in the center of the room. Will nods and gets to work on moving the coffee table. He can feel Hannibal’s eyes rake across his body as he does and simultaneous thrills of excitement and bittersweet amusement follow the feeling. Will turns on his heels, brushing off his hands. He’d meticulously ran this through his head, selecting a loose button-up he wouldn’t mourn. Hannibal’s more respectable form-fitting shirt complete with a blazer, however, would be a pleasure to see ruined. 

 

“It does so happen that we have a bedroom, Will,” Hannibal says. Will momentarily considers abandoning the fun this would be to take that route instead, but there’s always tomorrow and every day they had after that. They had found a place in the world for them. All the time they needed was in their hands.

Will steps up to him, not bothered by the miniscule height difference as he was when Hannibal used to use it to his advantage. “Why would we need that?” He asks, before he throws a well-aimed punch directly at Hannibal’s cheek. 

Hannibal clutches it for a moment and Will can see color bloom between the other man’s fingers. He takes that hand and squeezes it so hard he hears a crack. That’s when Hannibal yanks his arm back, eyeing Will with a fire that he’d missed seeing there. Will allows a smile. 

“This is when you would reciprocate,” Will reminds him sweetly, after giving Hannibal ample time to return the act. 

Hannibal isn’t at all truly pained physically, but there are the beginnings of hurt and resignation on his face. Will hadn’t anticipated the emotion. Hannibal had displayed so little while hurting Will that he’d expected similar courtesy when he reversed the situation. 

“I believe you implied earlier we were done with petty matches of violence.” 

Will scoffs. “I believe that it was directed at you, as for my own measures of forgiveness I never got to see them through. You made yourself untouchable until now. I never got to see you the ways you saw me,” he says, face close to Hannibal’s. “Don’t get me wrong, I see you for what you are, but I haven’t seen it all. I want it all, Hannibal, now that we stand as equals with nothing between us.” 

“You nearly killed me,” Hannibal points out, his pride about being correct swelling over the rest. 

“By proxy, Matthew Brown was just another body strung in the grand mess that we’ve created,” Will muses. Matthew Brown, Randall Tier, Francis Dolarhyde. “We’re leaving a trail.” 

A grin cuts across Hannibal’s face and he lunges forward to shove Will, flinging him backwards and then squeezing his shoulder, thumb digging in hard to the vulnerable former stab wound. “It’ll take divine intervention to bring us down,” he breathes, mouth hovering over Will’s neck. Will entertains how his teeth would feel dragging along his skin. 

This is what he wanted, Will thinks, gritting his teeth as Hannibal keeps applying pressure, merciless. His arm is hot and his vision is spotting. Will hikes a knee and jabs it in Hannibal’s side with all his might. Hannibal makes a noise in his throat and thrashes above him, a hand slipping as he yanks Will’s head back by his hair. The pain from his tight grip distracts Will only for a moment. In an instant, he shoves his foot up and makes sure it hits Hannibal’s abdomen enough to steal his breath. When he feels the rush of breath released on his chest, he rears up and moves them so he straddles Hannibal’s waist. He’s breathing hard, the ghost of fingertips seizing his curls and nails like a dagger in his shoulder. Hannibal is too, surely unprepared for this amount of physical exertion and off his painkillers recently enough this depth of feeling was unpleasant. All the sudden, he is reminded of the mirage that once danced before his eyes as he killed Randall Tier- Hannibal beneath him, beaten, battered and bloody, staring back, eyes alight with mirth. 

And now it’s a reality, Will thinks. He leans over Hannibal and lifts his hand to deliver a blow. Hannibal’s eyes follow the movement of his fist, always content to be Will’s slaughterhouse as long as it meant the other man’s devotion. Will had seen that look over Hannibal before, several times. But then he wasn’t who he was now. His hand doesn’t get far before it freezes, suspended over Hannibal’s cheek. Already, there lay a swelling redness from Will’s initial hit. He drops his fist and cradles his face. Hannibal remains still. If Will had his sense of smell, he’d assume that hope was in the air at the moment. 

Like he’d done before when confronted with an opportunity below him, Will falls. 

 

Hannibal’s lips are softer than he’d expect, and the other man more gentle. It’s sweet but doesn’t bide with Will’s adrenaline. Revelling in the kiss, Will hushes the sound of his own beating heart by sinking his teeth into Hannibal’s bottom lip. Hard.

Will had spent so long not playing with the cards he’d been dealt. Now that he had, Hannibal saw fit to extract more from his sleeve so he would forever remain a worthy opponent. 

Will gets flung off balance and hits his shoulder on the arm of the couch. Always the fucking shoulder. Jesus. He directs a glare at Hannibal who returns the sentiment with a bloody smile as he stands. Will loves rather than loathes the rush that floods him as Hannibal approaches him, footfalls weirdly quiet. Of course he was a master at evening out his weight- that’s how the Chesapeake Ripper had so effortlessly snuck up on his victims. He had the Chesapeake Ripper now, the Monster of Florence, Hannibal Lecter stalking towards him with drops of blood staining his shirt and his blazer hanging off of one shoulder.

He let Hannibal drag him to his feet, actually laughing as he goes and gets practically tossed into the wall. Will uses the momentum to propel himself forward and swing. Hannibal side-steps with an infuriating calm on his face, grabbing Will’s wrist and twisting until Will gives an undignified cry. 

“Your empathy is an astounding gift, but it clouds your head. You act from emotion,” Hannibal says, releasing Will’s arm and then swiping a foot between Will’s ankles and sending him to the floor. “And not from technique.” 

“I was trained,” Will protests, propping himself up on his elbows and trying not to act according to the burning in each of his arms. “When I was a cop in New Orleans.” 

Hannibal crouches, leans in so they’re nose to nose. “Show me.” 

Will takes the challenge. He reaches up, hands gripping Hannibal’s shoulders, and pulls himself up that way. The sound of fabric tearing complete with stark surpise on Hannibal’s face makes him bark out a laugh. Once there, he keeps a hold on Hannibal’s dominant arm and tugs it, bringing his knee to the spot between the other’s ribs. Hannibal coughs, ducking under and swiping his arm back to jab Will’s side. Will chokes as the air gets caught on his throat and heat of a bruise forming makes him stagger back. Hannibal had shed his person suit and pretenses of hesitance. He backs Will to the counter of their kitchen and boxes him there with his arms. 

In the midst of trying to regain his breath, Will hadn’t realized until it was too late. He examines the barrier surrounding him and then softens, giving Hannibal a lazy, pleased smile. Hannibal moves his hands to Will’s hips with a similarly indulgent beam. His lip split by Will’s teeth leaves traces of blood around his mouth and Will’s surely bruised side adds a faint wheeze to his breath. He grabs the back of Hannibal’s neck and leans up, pulling him down. Their mouths clash together and the sweet tang of blood graces Will’s tongue as he licks Hannibal’s lip. 

They pull back. 

“I wanted to kiss you,” Hannibal says, hand on Will’s cheek. “On the cliff that night.” 

Will feels Hannibal’s thumb trace his scar and unexpected even by himself, leans close into it. “I thought so,” he says. “I wanted you to.” 

Hannibal leans in again, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. Will smiles, keeps him there for one or two more in quick succession. He’s unable to hate the way Hannibal smiles in full, teeth on display, and the way his scar pulls at his face when he himself smiles too wide. 

“Are you satisfied?” Hannibal asks. 

“No,” Will grumbles, playing with the hair at the nape of Hannibal’s neck. “You won.” 

“You drew blood.” 

Will gazes back at him, adoring and cutting edge. “You drew much more.” 

“Beloved,” Hannibal sighs, taking a hold of Will’s hand and pulling him not hard to the floor or the wall, but soft to the couch. It’s small for two. They don’t care. 

Will leans his head on Hannibal’s chest. “I can think of a few things,” he answers the unasked question. “You make dinner tonight.” 

“We don’t have anything but fish, do we?” 

“Not much, no,” Will admits. “We can stock up on meat soon.” 

A promise. Hannibal’s arms around him tighten and Will leans more of his weight on the other. He touches the mark on Hannibal’s face. “Does it hurt?” 

Hannibal takes his hand and kisses his knuckles. Bruised. “From you,” he replies, kissing the second knuckle, the third. “It is a welcome ache.”

The flush on Will’s skin is one Hannibal will one day ask to draw. To remember it. To see it again. He had forgotten the finer things, and he will not do so again. 

 

Hannibal’s cooking after so long is a heavenly change. Will finishes every bite and Hannibal watches, rapt, staring at afterimages of the days in his dining room in Baltimore. They share some wine and find themselves wrapped up in one another in bed, too tired out to do much more than lay close to each other. 

“Tell me,” Hannibal breaks the silence. “How long did you anticipate my healing so you could-” He struggles for a word. A rare occurrence. “-Ambush me,” he settles on. 

Will watches the indecision with gentle humor. “Since you walked past my cell the morning after I had you killed, and then walked past me under Florence after gutting me. While you tried to get into my head, and every moment since then.” 

“You do not forgive and forget.” 

“No,” Will agrees. “But I do love you.” 

Hannibal, again, loses his words. He reaches and Will moves into his arms. One hand traces the trajectory of Will’s stomach scar, and a kiss is left along the one on his forehead. Will, who had resisted the same affections from Molly, breathes out shakily once the touches are actually welcome. 

“And I love you,” says Hannibal. “Did you think of me?” 

It had been a lapse of silence between the two pieces spoken. Will takes a moment to return to the topic. 

“I didn’t let myself, really,” Will answers. “But I saw you everywhere.” 

Hannibal’s eyebrows tilt. Concern. 

“-Not hallucinations,” Will says quickly. “I saw you when I’d open a book, it was your voice reading in my head. I’d see you every time I looked in the mirror. At the scars you left. I tried to forget. It’s not that easy.” He laughs emptily. “Molly would ask about you. She actually-” Will clears his throat. “She walked in once, while I was reading your work on social exclusion. I think I looked as guilty as a kid who’d downloaded porn onto his laptop.”  

Hannibal laughs, then. “What did you think?” 

“I thought you were writing from experience.” 

A nod. 

Will flops over, chin on Hannibal’s chest and arm slung across his hips. “Did you think about me?” 

“Often,” Hannibal says. “Frederick and Alana had a field day when the news of your marriage reached them.” 

“Oh.” Will wrinkles his nose. “You never lost hope that I’d come back?” 

Hannibal shakes his head. “No. it was a matter of time. And if you didn’t, I would have come to you. There were only five doors between us.” 

“There’s none now,” Will reminds him. 

Hannibal kisses the top of his head. “Nor will there ever be again, if you so wish.”

“I do,” Will says, as one would say at a wedding. 

“Bluebeard’s wife,” Hannibal teases. 

Will smiles nonsensically. “I’m the last.” 

 

Hannibal stares at him and Will sees past the dark of the room to the twinkle of his eyes, lit by the moon and stars. “There was never anyone else,” Hannibal says.