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Heart-Shaped Box

Chapter Text

"She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak.

I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks.

I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap.

I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black."

- Heart-Shaped Box, Nirvana

 

The house was in a pleasant suburb, with manicured green lawns and rows upon rows of identical houses, stretching on and on into what once was a proud forest. The house was two stories, white vinyl with dark shingle roof and cherry red shutters. There was a minivan in the driveway, and the FBI had taped it all off.

 

The neighbors had come around, crowding with the media to get a glimpse of the nightmare inside. The sky above was gray, hinting at rain. Agents mulled around, waiting for something.

 

Something came in the form of a standard black SUV.

 

First out was Jack Crawford, as stern as he always was during these sorts of things. Price, Katz, and Zeller were already approaching the line, eager to tell about their discoveries inside, but Crawford held them off with a single hand. He opened up the back door to the SUV, and the world shifted its focus as Will Graham stepped out into the light.

 

At once, he was what everyone craved – youth in his slender limbs, bright sunlight in his chocolate curls, and the wild blue yonder in his eyes. He was beautiful temptation in the form of a young man who tried to hide himself under frumpy jackets and flannel shirts and unflattering glasses, but there was no denying what he was.

 

A short, awkward smile to the forensic team, familiar with Will's affects, and he was ducking under the police line and ignoring the gawking of the officers. Their desires leaked into him, images of himself on his back and on his knees, pliant and open mouthed, filled his brain, and he let out the tiniest sigh of distress.

 

With a glare, Crawford sent the agents scuttling as far as possible from Will. He stood at the door to the house, left wide open into the darkened rooms, and waited patiently for Crawford.

 

"This is the third demonic case we've had in the past three months," Crawford explained. "All similar, involving the murders of families."

 

"All-American families," Will corrected. He stepped into the house, and the cloying blanket of murder drove out the lingering aftertaste of the agents' fantasies. "One father, one mother, with two children – boy and girl, little. White bread. Wholesome."

 

He stopped in the middle of the hallway, to look at the family photographs on the wall.

 

"He was cheating with the babysitter," he declared, as sure as rain. "And she was sleeping with every man in the neighborhood in revenge."

 

Finally, he stepped into the living room to take in the macabre tableau there.

 

The family was carefully arranged around the television, which was playing static. They were dressed pristine clothes straight from the 1950s, and there were human bite marks all along the wife's arms. Long stemmed white candles were placed carefully, strange marks carved into the hardwood.

 

All their heads had been replaced with elk skulls, strung with cedar boughs.

 

Will crouched down before them, tilting his head.

 

"The bite marks are not part of the ritual," he said. "He cannot help himself with those. As for the rest..."

 

Slowly, Will's mind turned away from the sexual fantasies of the agents and the grotesque curiosity of the rubberneckers outside, to the thoughts of the man who sunk his teeth into the flesh of Maria Oswald.

 

Jumbled, split between two extremes – the extreme that needed to bite and rend like a wild dog, and the extreme that no doubt stalked this family for weeks, meticulously planning this scene. In part, it was pure mockery, but there was that edge of smoke that Will knew so well...

 

"Agent Crawford, the specialist is here. He wants to see the scene as pristine as possible..."

 

"Can he wait another couple of minutes...?"

 

Will was violently jerked away from the tableau and dumped back into his mind, like crude oil had been spilled down his back. It spread out, becoming thicker and thicker as the click-click of dress shoes came closer and closer. Will shrunk in on himself, becoming as small as possible, before he dared to turn and look at the doorway.

 

There stood a man in a fine suit – no, Will's mind screamed, not a man, not a man. Demon.

 

His human suit was as meticulous as the one of cloth, carefully maintained to look cordial and friendly. But Will knew better than that. His skin crawled, his heart raced, his mouth went dry.

 

"He should not be here," he said urgently to Crawford. "I can't...I can't think while he's here."

 

"Will, this is Doctor Hannibal Lecter," Crawford said, as if Will hadn't said anything. "Doctor Lecter, this is Will Graham, a teacher at Quantico and a...specialized consultant."

 

"Hello," Lecter said, and his dark maroon eyes were fixed on Will.

 

"H-hi," Will said, and he looked pleadingly at Crawford.

 

"Doctor Lecter is a specialist in this sort of thing," Crawford promised. "I hope that both your combined insights can crack this case."

 

Will took a deep breath, resolute to ignore Lecter and do his job.

 

"The killer has a definite plan," Will said. "But there is a part of him that's very...disorganized, impulsive. That's why he bit Maria Oswald, he couldn't help himself."

 

Lecter stared in delighted interest, and it was oil dripping down his spine.

 

"He wants to mock them in death," Will continued. "That's why he sets them up like this. I can't...I can't tell if it's part of the ritual or not."

 

"This is Lebanon cedar," Lecter said. His accent was cultured, European. Strange. "Which holds significance in the Bible. The Egyptians used its resin in mummification, and Gilgamesh walks into a grove of cedar trees to dwell amongst the gods. Perhaps he seeks communication with a higher power? Or a lower one."

 

The wry edge of humor was lost on Crawford, who grinds his teeth.

 

"So he'll probably keep killing until he speaks to whoever he's trying to contact," Crawford said. "Who's probably even worse than he is."

 

"He'll become more and more unstable as he goes," Will said. "This sort of disconnect only gets aggravated with each kill."

 

He is careful not to meet Lecter's curious stare.

 

"I have a lecture," he said, apologetically. "It was nice meeting you, Doctor..."

 

As quickly as possible, he escaped the dark house and the eyes that watched him leave.

 

-

 

Will was born an incubus, one of a long line on his mother's side.

 

He had grown used to the lecherous thoughts caused by his very presence, and was immensely ethical about his own hungers – consenting men only, never drained dry. He also stopped having sex with people more than twice after Matthew nearly went crazy in his obsession with him.

 

Will's empathy, evolved to tell what his victims wanted most, was a coveted tool. An ethical incubus was a rare treasure. An ethical demon, creatures of smoke and shadow, must be even rarer.

 

Hannibal Lecter sat next to him in Crawford's office, momentarily alone. His curiosity had not abated in a week.

 

"It must be difficult," Lecter began, "To control your hungers. I assume your victims survive their nights with you."

 

"They're not victims," Will snapped. "Every person I've ever slept with has known exactly what I am. I have never drained anyone."

 

"And you gave them the best night of their little lives in exchange?" Lecter laughed. Will did not flush, used to every jeer and catcall.

 

"Yes," Will replied. "I give them everything and leave them begging for more."

 

He tilted his head. "And what of you, Doctor? The indulgences of a demon are far greater than my own."

 

"Have you not heard of redemption, dear Will?" Lecter asked. "I'm as ethical as you."

 

Will narrowed his eyes, planning his rebuttal, when Crawford returned to the room.

 

"Three families of four, slaughtered on the night of the full moon, and left with deer skulls instead of heads," Crawford sighed.

 

"He might be using the heads in further rituals," Lecter said.

 

"Or trophies," Will said. "It's not...it's not purely ritualistic to him. He takes pleasure in this."

 

"You're telling me there's a sadistic psychopath out there who also wants to commune with a demonic force," Crawford said, more to sort out his own thoughts.

 

The back-and-forth went on for a while, pitching potential profile ideas and refine Will's vision. It was almost enough for him to forget the oil slick filling his lungs as he stayed in Lecter's presence.

 

Will was the first to slip out, dashing to avoid Lecter, but that proved futile with a strong hand on his shoulder.

 

"I would be honored, if you would join me for dinner one night," Lecter asked. "I have been told I am an excellent chef, and I found our discussion most...interesting."

 

"Thank you for the offer, Doctor," Will said. "I'll see when I have time."

 

Will returned home, fed Winston, and tidied up a bit before the gnawing in his belly made him strip out of his frumpy flannel and into something more revealing. Hunting clothes.

 

He took a taxi to his favorite club for this sort of thing, full of pounding noise and people wanting to forget themselves. It took a single undulation of his hips to get some company.

 

Tall, dark, and handsome nearly engulfed him, eager in his grinding. Will laughed, and it was the sweetest of music to him.

 

"Hi there," Will murmured, and he heard his voice perfectly over the throbbing music.

 

"You're a...you're a..." he stumbled, as if he couldn't believe his luck. Will smiled, and murmured the words that had never failed him:

 

"Why don't you take me home?"

 

The car ride to the man's house was spent with his grip white knuckle on the wheel while Will teased his hand up and down his thigh. Will cared not for what the man's house was like, not when his mouth was hot and demanding on his neck.

 

They almost didn't make it to the bedroom, and they were wonderfully naked when Will straddled the man on the bed.

 

"You're perfect," he breathed, and Will smiled down at him before he started to feed.

 

The sex act was pleasurable to him, but secondary to the golden feeling rushing through his blood and warming his bones. The man beneath him was practically screaming in ecstasy while Will felt himself beginning to glow from within, the gnawing hunger abating for just a moment.

 

Afterwards, Will was loose limbed and heavy. He let the man press little kisses on to his shoulders and spoon up behind him. Will dozed, until the man's breath evened out. Will pressed a soft kiss to his dark hair and then to his proud nose before he slipped out of bed.

 

He gathered up his clothes, and he took his leave into the night without a note. It was for the better – Matthew had tried to set a hospital on fire in his honor, after all.

Chapter Text

"Wake up, you never looked so glum,

Tell me, how do you know they can't hear us coming?

It's easy for me, I got a head start running away.

Keep up for your disease spread quick so

How did you learn to be sick, so cunning?"

- A History of Bad Men, the Melvins

 

People lined out the block for the chance to take a class with the infamous Will Graham. It was only partially because of his affects, as sweet as they were, mostly because he was very, very good at what he did.

 

They sat in rapt attention as he made his way down to the front of the room, and turned on the projector to display the last set of victims.

 

"They're calling him the Deer Hunter," Will said. "Like they always do."

 

Will turned to regard the class, not meeting anyone's eyes.

 

"His murders are ritualistic," he said. "He seeks to speak with a higher authority when he poses the victims. The cedar, candles, and markings prove this."

 

The slide switched, a close up of the bite marks on Maria Oswald's arm.

 

"But he does not kill just for this purpose – he derives pleasure from this."

 

Pencils skittered across paper.

 

"He is fundamentally unstable, sharply divided between the calm and collected celebrant and the person who had to bite Maria Oswald," he said, leaning against the desk. "This split will only get aggravated over time, both due to the murders and any outside stressors in his life. This is how he will get caught."

 

The lecture wound down, and students hesitated asking him questions afterwards, the bravest making a few steps towards him before scampering away. They went passed the lovely figure of Alana Bloom, coming into the room.

 

"I never have thought of you as frightening," she laughed. "But I guess we're always wrong once in a while."

 

Will smiled at her, pleased. Alana was a lovely woman, bright eyed and kind – after an attempt at flirting that Will regretfully had to decline, their friendship had blossomed.

 

"I try," Will said dryly. "What brings you around, Alana? How are your classes?"

"I'm here to warn you that you may be getting ambushed," she said, a little breathless. "Right about...now."

 

Jack and Lecter took that moment to walk into the lecture hall. Will raised his eyebrows at Alana, who smiled apologetically.

 

"Thanks for the warning," he murmured drily.

 

Lecter's presence was not the oil slick it was before, filling up his throat and making it impossible to breathe. Freshly fed, he could sort through his aura a bit better, but there was still smoke in the air.

 

"Ah, Alana," Lecter said. "How good to see you again."

 

"It's nice seeing you too, Hannibal," she replied, and at Will's confused look explained, "Hannibal mentored me during my internship at John Hopkins."

 

"I learned as much from Doctor Bloom as she did from me," he declared. That explained why Alana took the revelation about Will's nature in such stride.

 

"While I'd like to catch up as well," Jack said, "We need you to see something."

 

"The full moon is not for a couple more weeks," Will said, worry creeping into his voice.

 

"He's splitting," Lecter said, as calm and resolute as ever. "Right down the seams."

 

-

 

It was not a suburban house this time, but an apartment in the gritty part of town. The apartment, opposed to the pristine crime scenes of earlier, was completely ripped apart. Will deftly avoided the shards of glass on the floor, making his way to the bedroom where Zeller and Price were waiting beside the victim.

 

The victim was laid out on the bed, naked with the head of the elk. They had been torn apart by teeth, bite marks frenzied enough to draw blood.

 

"Cause of death was blood loss," Zeller said, and pointed up at the ceiling. Everyone looked up to see that it was practically coated. "From his throat being ripped out."

 

"Ripped out?" Jack asked.

 

"With teeth," Price clarified. A shudder.

 

"No cedar," Lecter said.

 

"He did not want to commune with his higher power," Will murmured. "This was for someone else."

 

"A warning?" Jack asked.

 

"A love note," Will corrected. He stepped forward, to peer at the body. "The victim was a substitute, and he found him lacking."

 

"So our killer is in love now?" Lecter asked, moving closer to Will. The smoke made him shake.

 

"As much as someone like him can be in love," Will said. "An outside stressor. The split is going to get worse from now on, because of this."

 

"Will he escalate?" Jack asked, and Will nodded. He threw his hands up in the air, and moved out of the room to make phone calls.

 

Will trailed after him, and he did not need to turn around to know Lecter was following.

 

"You fed recently," he said.

 

"Once a week," Will said, and looked at Lecter from the corner of his eye. "Are you offering?"

 

It was another gray day, stretching on into a gloomy November. Soon it'll snow, Will thought, and instead of gray it will be white.

 

"I apologize for my invasive questions," Lecter said. "But I have never met very few incubi, let alone ethical ones."

 

"We have a tendency to avoid things like you," Will said, not unkindly. "Self-preservation."

 

Lecter smiled, a dark thing that crawled along his face.

 

"I will not hurt you, Will," he assured. "The world would be a less interesting place without you."

 

Demons, his mother whispered during one of her rare and eagerly devoured lessons, are things to be avoided.

 

Capricious, vicious, alien. For all Hannibal Lecter put on charming airs that fooled humans, the truth of him could not hide from Will – he was only fond of them as much as they could amuse him. And he only found Will amusing for now.

 

"I don't find you that interesting," Will said – a lie. Will found him very interesting in the way he found Cottonmouths near his house interesting.

 

Lecter smiled.

 

"You will."

 

-

 

The escalation made every moment of grave importance.

 

"He did not want his higher authority to see this," Will said, "But he wanted his love to know that he did this. Thus the deer skulls."

 

They were gathered in Jack's office, a little cramp. It was raining out, the fat drops hitting the window and making nonsense patterns.

 

"Will he kill like this again?" Jack asked. Will shrugged.

 

"Maybe if his love doesn't seem to return his affections," Will said. "Though I doubt they've exchanged more than a handful of words."

 

Jack rubbed his hand over his face.

 

"Could you go to Doctor Lecter's office?" he asked. "He apparently has a book of some sort, but I have court..."

 

A chill crawled down Will's spine, but professionalism won out and he agreed to drive to Lecter's lordly office, and sit down in his waiting room, nervous and fidgety. Here Lecter was king.

 

The door opened, and a portly man walked out reluctantly, constantly glancing back to stare at Lecter. But Lecter's eyes had immediately zoomed in on the huddled figure of Will. The man had noticed him too, in time, eyes widening in surprised.

 

"Goodbye, Franklyn," Lecter said with finality. "I will see you next week."

 

The portly man stuttered out a response, waiting long enough for Lecter to gesture for Will to stand.

 

"Ah, Will, please come in..."

 

The door was shut on Franklyn lingering out in the lobby, and Will was surrounded by Lecter's kingdom. Doctor Lecter's office was like the man himself – ostentatious and so luxurious it was almost hedonistic. There were books to the ceiling, and Will immediately gravitated towards them, running reverent fingers over their old and cracked spines.

 

"Do you need someone to talk to, Will?" Lecter asked, amused. "I'm sure I can pencil you in."

 

"Oh, no," Will said quickly, the idea of psychoanalysis leaving an acidic taste in his mouth. "Jack mentioned you had a book...?

 

"Ah, yes," Hannibal said. He moved like a panther through the familiar space, to a locked glass cabinet behind his desk. "Some of my rarer editions, though the most precious I leave at my home."

 

He unlocked it, bringing out a heavy leather tome, and on his way back to the desk he selected two other books, one modern and the other a bit older. He laid them down on the desk, and Will noticed the bookmarks. Finally he brought out a Moleskin filled with spidery handwriting in a language Will did not know.

 

"I found several interesting beings our supplicant may be trying to contact," Hannibal explained. "Though I am having trouble narrowing it down. It's a very...singular ritual."

 

The ancient book first.

 

"There's a Babylonian monster called the alû, who sneaks into a person's bedroom and terrified them in their sleep," he said, tracing over the horribly realistic drawing of a half man, half devil creature without a face. "But it seems like such a minor creature, so I turned my attention to German folklore, and the Erlking."

 

In the older book, there was a carving of a shadowy figure in a dark, twisted wood. Will's stomach felt uneasy.

 

"The most famous story of the Erkling is when it appeared to a young boy, and he was the only one to perceive it," Hannibal explained. "It ends up killing the boy, after no one believes him. This still didn't feel quite right..."

 

Will looked at the final book, the modern one – Religion and Stories of Indigenous North America.

 

"Wendigo," Will breathed. Hannibal seemed surprised.

 

"It came to me when I thought of the biting and the escalation," he said. "Cedar is sacred to both the Middle East and indigenous North America."

 

"Wendigo psychosis is a culture-bound disorder," Will said. "I doubt our killer is part of the Algonquian tribes."

 

"Could the wendigo not possess?" Hannibal asked. "Our killer could be holding off a greater parasite."

 

"We just have bite marks, no proper cannibalism," Will said stubbornly. "And besides, Wendigo psychosis is quite disputed, Doctor."

 

Hannibal smiled.

 

"I am just as lost as you," he confessed. "I have not seen a ritual like this before, let alone have parsed out its purpose."

 

Will wandered over to the tall windows, framed by the heavy silk draperies. It overlooked the city's great skyscrapers, rising about the tired, squat buildings and towards the miserable gray sky...

 

"He's communicating with a higher power so they may raise him up," Will said with frantic panic. "He wants to become more than he is by opening up a line of communication...that's why there wasn't cedar at the last crime scene. He considered it base, and was afraid his higher power would look down on him for it."

 

"And what does he want to become more of?" Hannibal asked. "Who do you see behind closed eyes?"

 

Will took a deep breath, eyes slipping shut.

 

"He was born unhappy with himself, like something was fundamentally wrong with him..." Will murmured. "He's tried every self-help book and workout and diet to improve himself, but nothing's good enough. He considers seeking pyschatirc help a sign of weakness, so he turned to...that...and found out he enjoys it."

 

A heavy silence descended upon the room, before Hannibal said, "And now he's in love?"

"Yes," Will breathed. "Yes, and it is terrifying."

 

That night, he dreamed of trees.

 

Twisted things, spindly branches like lovers' intertwined fingers and trunks blackened, charred. He walked amongst them barefoot, and every bone ached, deep and throbbing. He walked on in darkness, the strange moon above his only light – it seemed humongous, hanging against the flat black sky. The dream curled, mazelike, and he had no idea of time.

 

An exposed root made him stumble, and he braced his fall against a charred trunk. He looked at his hand and found it covered in soot. Brow furrowed, he looked at the tree.

 

He had wiped away the black to reveal the bone underneath, bleached white by the sun.

 

Will awoke gasping, his sheets sweated through. He sat up, running his hands compulsively through his damp curls. As far as nightmares went, that one was relatively tame, yet it left a hollow, echoing space inside him.

 

He got up and stripped out of his pajamas to pull on his hunting clothes, knowing he could not get back to sleep with this hollow. A brief dalliance in an alley, and he would be fine...

 

He went to his favorite club again, this time staying by the bar. He didn't bother sitting down, instead leaning against the counter. Will caught several eyes, but just as he was about to make his move a voice spoke behind him.

 

"I've been looking everywhere for you."

 

Will groaned internally, turning to look at the eager face of Tall, Dark, and Handsome from a week before. He gave his best smile.

 

"Oh Lord," Will said. "This happens sometimes..."

 

"You didn't leave your number," the man continued. "So I came here in the hope I'd see you again, and here we are."

 

"Look, you may have succubus sickness," will said flatly. "It can happen when you sleep with an incubus. Causes obsessive behavior."

 

"I am not ill," the man hissed, an angry flush on his pallid cheeks for being denied so flatly. Will, sensing that this situation was only going to spiral more out of control, placed his hands on the man's chest. He immediately calmed down.

 

"Let's not fight here," Will murmured, and manged to get him into a more private booth. The man gripped Will's hands.

 

"I'm Francis," he said, like a confession.

 

"That's a good name," Will assured. "Have you had a lot of racing thoughts and difficulty sleeping?"

 

"I'm full of thoughts of you," Francis said. Will winced.

 

"Succubus sickness will pass in time, but it'll be better if you go to the hospital," Will said as gently as he could. Like before, Francis's face was quick to twist in anger.

 

"I'm not sick," he said, voice rising.

 

"It's alright," Will pleaded, thoughts turning around and around to find a way out. "I shouldn't be around you..."

 

Francis crushed him close. Will tried to struggle away.

 

"I always want to be around you," Francis murmured. Will forced his way free.

 

As quick as he could, Will escaped the club and into his car, peeling out of the parking lot. Another place burned off his list, and he was too rattled to feed anymore.

 

He returned home and soothed Winston's whines, sensing Will's distress. He opted to just strip down to his boxers and curl under the covers, staring fixedly at the wall and knowing he won't sleep tonight.

Chapter Text

"Say, say my playmate,

Won't you lay hands on me?

Mirror my melody,

Transfer my tragedy?"

- Wolf Like Me, TV on the Radio

 

Will was tired and cranky when he got Jack's call.

 

The hollow gnawed when he drove out to the field in the middle of nowhere, only aggravated by the rising lust of the agents. One of the younger ones with a crush and no idea incubi worked handed him a cup of coffee with a shy smile; Will took it with a murmured "thank you." It was caffeinated sludge in a Styrofoam cup.

 

It had rained for much of the night, so the field was muddy and hard to navigate, but Will managed to make his way to Jack and the victim.

 

The body was of a beautiful boy, red roses tangled in his brown curls, and his ribcage was flayed open, organs neatly removed. He was impaled on a stag's head, a trophy kill. The boy's face was peaceful and serene.

 

"The organs look like they were removed when the victim was alive," Zeller said, voice curled in horror and disgust. "Or at least most of them were."

 

"It wasn't him," Will declared. "This is...this was not the supplicant."

 

"Who is it, then?" Jack asked. There was resignation in his voice, the idea of two killers on the loose pressing down on him.

 

"An intelligent," Will said. "A sadist."

 

There was an edge of smoke, clinging to the beautiful blooms in the boy's hair.

 

"He somehow knows the supplicant, and the fact he's in love," Will said. "He made this to mock him."

 

"So we have two psychopaths competing?"

 

"Not competing, more like...communicating," Will said.

 

He left to let the forensic team do its job, walking back across the muddy field to find Hannibal standing primly on the asphalt. Apparently not even demons can keep mud of their suits.

 

"Hello, Will," Hannibal said. "You look exhausted."

 

He handed him a thermos of some of the finest coffee Will had ever tasted.

 

"It was a long, terrible night," Will confessed. "I accidently enthralled someone."

 

Hannibal seemed intrigued. "Does this happen often?"

 

"No, I try to be careful," Will said. "But I guess I slipped up."

 

"Let me make it up to you," Hannibal promised. "Come and have dinner with me."

 

Will was unable to remember the last time he had been invited to dinner. Probably Matthew, actually.

 

"Thank you," Will said. "That sounds wonderful."

 

-

 

If Hannibal's office has been a kingdom, his house was an empire.

 

Castle-like it stood, dark and imposing behind its curtains of plants wilted in the cold winter. Will had dressed in his finest blazer and sweater with a freshly shaved face, but his mind was filled with the three piece finery Hannibal was no doubt wearing.

 

Demons were a rare thing, as scorned as they were, and if they did walk among men they were creatures who stayed in the shadows. Everything about Hannibal screamed for others to gaze upon him and his nature, so obvious no matter how clever his words.

 

Like Will, there was no way for Hannibal to hide what was under his person suit.

 

Will knocked on the door, and Hannibal answered promptly. He didn't have a suit jacket on, but there was a waistcoat that suggested that, at one point, there was a suit jacket. He was beyond pleased to see Will there, quickly ushering him in.

 

"Don't wait in the rain on my account," Hannibal said. "The weather has just been terrible lately..."

 

The house was richly appointed like a Roman emperor's villa, draped in reds and purples deep and dark. Hannibal led Will into the dining room, where the long table had the skull of a ram at its center, stuffed full of red roses with perfectly symmetrical blooms.

 

Hannibal pulled pack Will's seat at the end of the table, so the eye sockets of the ram were staring straight at him. The horns twisted away in such a manner that they would perfectly frame the sitting Hannibal.

 

"Tonight's theme is Italian," Hannibal said. "And a bit less intense than my feasts. I shall have you again, for my six course banquets – they are full of good company and conversation."

 

"Let's see how this one goes, before we make any plans," Will replied with a wry smile. Hannibal returned it, and went to fetch the antipasto.

 

Will let his eyes wander, unable to look at the ram, and they drifted upwards, to the painting above the mantle. He immediately flushed crimson and looked away at the graphic depiction of Leda being seduced by Zeus the swan.

 

"The people of the Renaissance were such interesting prudes," Hannibal declared, placing the first course before Will. The antipasto consisted of delicate slices of salami and ham, with chunks of cheese and olives, and it was presented on a china plate so fine it was translucent. Hannibal poured a dark red wine into his glass. "You dare not paint a man and a woman having sex, but bestiality is perfectly acceptable. Do you like the painting, Will?"

 

"It's very well done," Will said, daring not to look back up at it and instead focused on his plate. "This looks delicious."

 

Hannibal took the change in topic like he took everything else – gracefully. He settled down in his seat like a throne.

 

"I'm glad my chances of having you at my table are already increasing," he said. "There are many cuisines I'd love to serve to you – French, Japanese, Greek. All suit you well."

 

Will blinked up at him. "Suit me?"

"Each cuisine has a different character to it," Hannibal explained. "A nebulous feeling that enters you when you consume it. I greatly enjoy finding new ways to bring out the character of dishes."

 

"I don't think that much about food," Will confessed, embarrassed. He felt scruffy and unwashed next to all of Hannibal's fine things. "I just eat."

 

"You do think about eating," Hannibal said. "Just not with your mouth."

 

He stood and cleared away the plates of antipasto. He disappeared back into the kitchen, which Will imagined as being made of stone and steel, the pristine sanctum sanctorum of all Hannibal is. Will then considered his choice of words, and laughed a bit at himself.

 

"Our main course is an old standby," Hannibal declared. "Spaghetti, how the people of Rome eat it – freshly made pasta, with a light tomato sauce and sliced sausage."

 

"I'm going to spill all over myself," Will protested lightly, already salivating as it was placed in front of him.

 

"Sometimes we must forgo propriety for ecstasy," Hannibal said. "All things must be done in moderation."

 

"You do not strike me as a very moderate person," Will said, and tacked on, "No offense, of course."

 

Hannibal was not offended. Instead, he smiled.

 

"It is not the nature of my brethren to regulate any of their desires," Hannibal said. "All impulses are done, from violence to lust, in the heat of the moment. They care not for consequences, just their own pleasures and vices to elevate our sufferings."

 

"But you regulate them, enough to be a therapist and a consultant for the FBI," Will pointed out.

 

"Yes. I seek redemption, remember?" he replied. "And you are regulating yourself as well, little incubus. Is it in the nature of your kind to deny a full meal when one is presented to you?"

 

"My father was human," Will said. "I saw my mother drive him mad. I would not wish that upon anyone."

 

"So you live alone and seek connections with murderers," Hannibal said. "Inspire worship one night a week, when you should be worshipped when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up. You worry about driving men into insanity, when your very presence causes frenzy no matter where you walk."

 

Hannibal stood.

 

"What if the man who supplicates before you is already mad?" Hannibal asked. "Would you so cruelly deny him a second touch of your skin, knowing you could not pull him down further?"

 

He collected the empty plates, leaving Will speechless. He thought, absurdly, of the plates – they were fine, finer than Will's plates all combined, and they must be washed by hand. A tedious task that must be done so carefully. Will found scrubbing his sturdy steel pots a tedious chore that had an amazing ability to result in dents.

 

Hannibal returned with tiramisu, the cake so delicate it felt like it melted on Will's tongue. Dessert was taken in silence, the eyes of Hannibal as fixed and unblinking as the sockets of the ram. Will felt warm and heavy, a certain sleepiness seeping into his limbs, but the hollow gnawing still lurked between his lungs and his full stomach.

 

"Traditionally after dessert, we share a cup of coffee," Hannibal said. "I'd like to show you my private study – perhaps we can take our drinks there?"

 

"That sounds wonderful," Will said. He was about ready to drop off into sleep, but a cup of coffee and a discussion of literature sounded so wonderful. He couldn't remember the last time he had a meal with a person without certain expectations hanging in the air.

 

Hannibal stood, and offered his hand to help Will up. Will took it, stretching out his well-fed limbs.

 

"Dinner was amazing," Will said, following Hannibal into the kitchen. Hannibal lifted up a silver platter with a tea set on it, far from the frilly princess plastic that usually entered Will's mind at the word – these were dark and ceramic, almost alien compared to the translucent plates they ate on.

 

"Thank you," Hannibal said, chest puffing out in pride. "I adored cooking. There is nothing more human than enjoying a good meal together."

 

He led Will up into the rafters of the great house, where the royal reds and purples became like wine and water. The art became more modern, less shocking – Hannibal peeling back his layers of armor, like he peeled off his suits at the end of the day.

 

Like his office and like his house and like his kitchen, the study felt like staring at a portrait of him – great shelves full of books older than Will, art and statues carefully placed, and soft red couches in the center around a Persian rug. The bay windows that went from floor to ceiling were unburdened by draperies, showing the storm knocking against the glass to get into the house.

 

"It's very you," Will declared. "I cannot imagine anyone else owning this place."

 

Hannibal laughed, truly. It was a booming sound that filled up the space. He patted the space on the red couch.

 

"Traditionally, the Italians drink espresso," Hannibal said. "But I must make a confession – I find drinking espresso bad for conversation, for it must be drunk quickly. So instead we shall have cafe au lait, which is quite conductive for discussions."

 

He poured the coffee into the sturdy cups, and offered it to Will, who took it gratefully.

 

"Thank you," he said. "It's rare I have good coffee."

 

"I've seen the sludge they've tried to pass off as coffee, yes," Hannibal said. "FBI agents must be made of stronger stuff, to tolerate it."

 

"It's like how you drink bigger and bigger doses of poison so your body can withstand it," Will said. "You build a tolerance."

 

Hannibal smiled. "Not to drag the mood down, but I was curious about something. You said you enthralled someone?"

 

Will sighed, looking down at his swirling cup. "Yes – there is a club I enjoy going to, for hunting. I picked up a man there, and we had sex. I left before dawn, like I normally do, and never expected to see him again. I went back last night, and the man was there, waiting for me. He had thought of nothing else."

 

"Early in the week for a hunt," Hannibal said lightly.

 

"I had a nightmare and could not sleep," Will said. "I was starving."

 

"Are you still starving?" Hannibal asked. Will nodded, looking up at him through the curtain of his lashes. A curl of brown hair fell down over his eye. Hannibal swept it back, and then let his hand cup Will's neck.

 

"Amongst my brethren, the incubi are weak things, powerless compared to our greatness," he breathed. "Looking upon you now I cannot disagree with them more. You have such power over me with just a flush upon your cheeks. I understand why men would rend themselves in two over the worship of you – your rejection would only prove my damnation, sweet one."

 

"And of my acceptance?" Will asked, voice almost nothing.

 

"Perhaps even the darkest of things can be saved," Hannibal replied, and crushed their lips together.

 

He cared not for the finery of his suits, practically ripping it off and throwing it away. He tore at Will's clothes, eager for the feeling of skin against skin. Will writhed in ecstasy, golden light already filling his veins. Hannibal laid him out on the couch, fingers gripping his thighs tight.

 

"Perfect creature," Hannibal growled. Red spilled across Will's cheeks and down his throat, and he reached up to wrap his arms around Hannibal's neck.

 

"Take me to bed," he crooned. His voice was siren-like, and Hannibal could not resist his call. "Hannibal..."

 

In a feat of almost unnatural strength, Hannibal lifted Will up and carried him out of the study and down the hall. Will pressed kisses to Hannibal's throat, let his thoughts wash over him – pale hands clutching silk sheets, purple bruises on white skin, that red flush so deep as he is brought over again and again, all hungers sated by him and only him...

 

"Yes, yes, yes!" Will chanted, head thrown back as he was warmed from the inside by the force of Hannibal's desire. He was pressed down amongst the plush bedclothes, pillows pressing in all around him. He laughed at the feeling of Hannibal's big, calloused hands rubbing up and down his sides.

 

"Ticklish?" Hannibal said, amused. He started tapping along Will's sides with his fingers, causing him to try to playfully escape his grasp. His laughter was like ringing bells in the room.

 

"Stop it!" Will cried, tears pricking at the corner of his eyes from mirth. "Stop!"

 

Hannibal's hands trailed up, until he had them planted flat against Will's shoulder blades. Will's laughter slowed to a stop, and he stared up into Hannibal's eyes – dark, tinged with red. He reached and buried his fingers into his fair hair, and brought him down for a kiss.

 

It was different than the kiss in the library – a chance to explore, pressed so closely together. Will's hips ground up, seeking contact, and Hannibal's hand slipped down to his thigh, bending Will's leg up against his chest. He kissed Will's ankle.

 

"Words are meaningless to describe how much I want you," he practically growled. Will sighed, arching up, already beyond words. "I will have you in every room of this house..."

 

He kissed down Will's chest, following the path of the cherry flush down to his inner thighs. He sunk his teeth into it, making Will arch and cry out. Will always focused on his partner, his own pleasure secondary to the feeding.

 

"I'll claim every inch of you," Hannibal hotly promised, sitting up. Will's eyes fluttered, trying to focus on Hannibal. The room was dim, but Will could have sworn he saw smoke rising from Hannibal's edges, as blurred as they were.

 

Cold fingers pressed against his opening, and the thoughts fled from Will's brain with a soft sigh. His legs fell, splayed open, and he arched his back with a moan. Hannibal's fingers were calloused, and knew exactly where to rub to make Will's legs shake and toes curl. He threw his head back, eyes thrown open and mouth open, breaths coming out as gasps and pants. His hands fisted the covers, crinkling the blanket.

 

"Hannibal," Will pleaded, the sound forced out of his throat high and sweet. "Hannibal..."

 

From between his legs, Hannibal grinned. "Do you want something, sweet one?"

 

Molten gold pumped through his veins instead of blood. Will was drifting, words flying away like ravens and he struggled to grasp them.

 

"I want..." he panted. "I want..."

 

"I know what you want," Hannibal said. He removed his fingers, causing Will to whine, and knelt up on the bed. He dragged Will partially on to his lap, and pressed in.

 

He did not bother waiting – Will had no need to adjust to his thick length. Instead, Hannibal started with slow, rocking thrusts he felt through his whole body and caused him to tighten his legs around Hannibal's waist. He made an aching noise, eyes half shut and unseeing.

 

Hannibal gripped Will's legs, placed them over his shoulders and moved so Will was practically folded in half. Will screamed, pleasure and gold filling up his ribs.

 

"Like that, like that, like that..." he babbled, hands scrambling for purchase. Hannibal did not let up, lips on his ankle and thrusts unwaveringly accurate. "Oh, oh, oh, oh..."

 

Like a string drawn tighter and tighter, Will snapped. He arched so only his shoulders were connected to the bed, eyes blown wide and completely unseeing as gold crashed through him.

 

And Hannibal kept going, hips never failing in their undulations. Will thrashed and sobbed, trembling through the aftershocks as a deep, rumbling growl echoed through Hannibal's chest. Will blinked, turning his head to look at his lover.

 

Hannibal's human suit was fraying at the edges, brought so close to the surface by the clutch of Will's body. His outline was hazy black shadow, eyes like glowing coals, and smoke was forming the shape of antlers, as twisted and labyrinth as tree branches. Will reached for them, but Hannibal pressed his face into Will's neck and held him close. The change in angle made him tremble and his hands dropped to claw at Hannibal's back.

 

Hannibal wound Will taunt again, until he shook and cried with it. Hot tears flowed down his cheeks from the overstimulation. Hannibal's thrust grew in speed and power, each drive of his hips like an electric shock through his system. Hannibal bit into the flesh of his neck, deep enough to bleed, and Will shook apart, screaming and crying in ecstasy.

 

Will fell limp, Hannibal's thrusts pleasurable to the point of pain. He started grinding in, slow and deep, until with a long, low hiss he came.

 

Hannibal stayed on his elbows above and inside Will for a long time, as they tried to catch their breaths. Hannibal slipped out, and Will sighed, eyes heavy with sleep. He felt full, almost overstuffed, for the first time in his life.

 

Hannibal rolled off, moving away. Will curled into a ball, twitching, before Hannibal came back with a wet flannel to at least try to clean them up. He pulled the covers over him, before slipping in to spoon up behind Will.

 

"Gorgeous," Hannibal whispered, and pressed a kiss to Will's cheek. "Perfect."

 

Will was slipping off into sleep when Hannibal whispered the final word, "Mine."

Chapter Text

"She'll make you cry.

I'll sell my soul to be back in her bosom

Gladly, now please suck me dry.

And still you'll cry to be back in her bosom

To do it again."

- Rev 22:20, Puscifer

 

Will woke up in increments.

 

He grumbled at the retreating warmth, turning over to curl into it. He drifted along, before he gently climbed out of the well of sleep. Will flopped on to his back amongst Hannibal's rich, plush pillows and sheets, kicking off the comforting to stretch out the long, lithe line of his body. He felt full and decadent, a flush down to his chest and eyes bright. Everything ached deliciously, the memory of Hannibal's hands upon him vivid and perfect.

 

There was a sharp intake of breath by the door, and Will leisurely turned his head to look at Hannibal silhouetted by the light pouring into the hallway, carrying breakfast. He let his leg stretch out teasingly, and asked, "For me?"

 

"You are never going hungry in this house," Hannibal promised, and he walked into the dim light of the bedroom. Will could make out his features, now – the red pajama pants slung low on his hips, the thick hair on his chest, his bare shoulders covered in scratch marks. Will felt fuller than he had in his whole life, but he still stirred in excitement.

 

"Good morning, my darling," Hannibal said, sliding into bed with a tray piled high with breakfast. He kissed Will's shoulder and pulled him against his chest. "My thanks, for the wonder of last night."

 

"I should be thanking you," Will giggled, before taking in the food presented to him – a traditional sort of breakfast. Scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, toast with bright red jam and hash brown potatoes, served with orange juice and coffee. Will happily dug in, eyes fluttering shut in pleasure.

 

"Delicious, as always," Will assured. Hannibal smiled into the crook of his neck.

 

"They you shall join me at one of my banquets," Hannibal declared. "My guest of honor."

 

"Everyone will talk, Doctor Lecter," Will teased. Hannibal scoffed.

 

"Let them, I will know it's simply their jealously speaking," Hannibal said. "They could not imagine the pleasures and wonders of you, sweet one. I will bring you everywhere, from the Baltimore opera to the ends of the world."

 

Will's lips parted in surprise, and he was amazed he could whisper out, "If I didn't know any better, I'd say I've enthralled you."

 

"You have," Hannibal declared. "Just not with some strange magic."

 

Hannibal kissed him then, softly on his lips. Will's heart felt like it was going to burst.

 

Breakfast was placed down on to the floor, and Hannibal pressed Will into the bed, and did not let him up until late afternoon lunch.

 

-

 

Will spent the weekend at Hannibal's, only leaving the bed to be fed lavish meals. Winston – no matter how much he loved Alana – was overjoyed to see him, and Will may have laughed and talked about him getting a new daddy in the heat of the moment. He felt giddy to the point of delirium, full of love and Hannibal's impassioned words.

 

Of course, reality came crashing back on Monday with a call from Jack.

 

The victim was in some derelict apartment complex, the curtains twitching to reveal curious eyes and dark rooms. The eyes grew in number when Will came to the scene, as brilliant as the sun on the cold, washed-out day.

 

Jack paid his seemingly overnight change in health no mind, but Beverly gave him a look.

 

"You look like you spent a weekend in the Bahamas," she told him, "Or in a certain well-dressed gentleman's house."

 

Will gave her a little smile. "I can neither confirm nor deny."

 

Beverly gave a fake gasp and lightly punched Will on the arm. "Details later, Graham. And I will get them."

 

Will's good mood faded when he went into the apartment. It looked like a hurricane had gone through it. Furniture had been smashed and scattered, every plate from the kitchen broken into a thousand tiny shards, and everything on the walls ripped down. There were scratch marks in the plaster, and the white was stained a deep crimson in long streaks. Carefully, Will made his way through the apartment, and noted that cedar boroughs had be tossed around without any semblance of care.

 

"He does not take rejection well," Will said. "He feels like his higher authority has betrayed him somehow, in the most personal of ways."

 

Will found the bodies, then. Another family, completely savaged and torn to shreds.

 

"With his teeth," Price helpfully added. Will shuddered.

 

There were nonsense symbols scrawled into the walls, the deer skulls broken on the floor. A supplicant no longer, Will thought, betrayed by his god.

 

"He's going to escalate," Will said. "He's going to either be killing for revenge or pure pleasure now."

 

"The full moon is coming," came a familiar, smoky voice. It felt like warm fingers being stroked down Will's spine, and he turned to look at Hannibal, as put together as always. "Will he kill again on Friday? Even though he no longer wants to speak with his god?"

 

"Yes," Will said. "This was an act of rage over his betrayal. He'll want to properly sever the connection on Friday."

 

Hannibal gave Will a dark, hungry look, unnoticed by the bustle of everyone around them. Will returned it, swirling with promise.

 

They left the forensic investigators in peace, Hannibal his shadow as they walked out back under the gray sky. The lights casted red and blue in a circular pattern, throwing Hannibal's cheekbones in sharp relief. Will resisted the urge to reach out and touch them.

 

"Come to the opera with me," he murmured. "Please."

 

"What will people say?" Will asked, his smile giving away his answer.

 

"How lovely my companion for the evening is," Hannibal said, "With envy in their eyes."

 

-

 

Will knew nothing about opera, and even less about Baltimore high society. But he put on a tuxedo, and put on his best smile when he put in arm in Hannibal's.

 

"You look...ravishing," Hannibal said on the steps of the opera house. The grey malaise had lifted, and the stars were tiny pinpricks on the dark blue sky. Will smiled.

 

"Hopefully," he murmured, voice full of promise. Hannibal smiled, and they ascended into the opera house.

 

Socialization was an interesting experience for Will, so attuned as he was to the room and its contents. He kept himself turned mostly towards Hannibal and his feelings – pride, happiness, the subtle undercurrent of lust – like an anchor to keep himself from drifting away, but he did catch snippets. Surprise, that the enigmatic sideshow oddity of Hannibal brought someone, lust, for Will inspired it whether he was dressed in silk or drenched in blood, and that sharp taste of envy, because they were both so strange and beautiful.

 

Will put on his prettiest smile for all of Hannibal's friends, who fortunately didn't seem to expect him to talk much. Soon the awkward part was over, and Hannibal was leading them to their seat.

 

Will's lack of knowledge of opera probably hindered his enjoyment of the piece, but he could recognize talent when he saw it and – he glanced over at Hannibal, with a hint of moisture in his eyes – he'd probably know all there is to know about opera soon enough. He let his hand rest on Hannibal's, and Hannibal gripped it, tight and sure and calloused. Big hands, strong hands, hands that anchored and could keep them both moored.

 

"Did you enjoy it, Will?" Hannibal asked, afterwards, when they were going to his car.

 

"Very much," Will assured. "Though now I have to take you fly fishing."

 

Hannibal laughed, and kissed Will's hand. "Perhaps a nightcap first?"

 

-

 

Will woke up in the dark, alone.

 

He was curled under Hannibal's heavy feather-down comforter, every light off in the still and silent house. He was naked and alone, Hannibal's side of the bed rapidly cooling.

 

Sleepy and confused, Will got out of bed on shaky legs. He flicked on the lamp, casting soft and warm light, and grabbed Hannibal's shirt from where it was draped over the chest at the end of the bed. He buttoned it up as he entered the hallway.

 

"Hannibal?" Will called. "Hannibal?"

 

He made his way down the grand staircase into the lavishly furnished foyer, past the dining room and into the resplendent kitchen. The silver light of the full moon trickled through the tall glass windows. Will stopped in the center of it, trying to figure out where Hannibal had wandered off to. Late night emergency with a patient? But Hannibal would've no doubt left a note...

 

"Cheater."

 

Will froze, and turned slowly to see Francis standing in the doorway. There was a knife in his hand, and everything clicked in his head.

 

"You're the supplicant," Will said, and then his mind clicked again. "And Hannibal..."

 

"My devotion wasn't good enough for either of you," Francis spat, eyes wide and crazed. "Was I not man enough for you, hm? Only spreading your legs when it's most convenient for you..."

 

He advanced forward, knife glinting in the moonlight. Will took a step back, lower back bumping into the marble counter.

 

"You're sick, Francis," Will pleaded. "You're not thinking straight. Put the knife down and I can help you."

 

"I'm not sick," Francis proclaimed. "I have risen. I'm going to kill my god and become him. Maybe then I'll be good enough for you."

 

He raised the knife, and Will cowered against the counter. Images of families torn apart by steel and teeth flashed in his eyes, imagination overrunning with his own savaging. He cried out, calling for Hannibal, for anyone...

 

"Enough of that."

 

A glint of silver, and then Francis's throat was slit open. Red poured out, spattered on to Will, and Francis collapsed to the marble. Hannibal stood behind him, bloody knife in his hand and a rather annoyed look on his face. Will stared up at him.

 

"Alright, darling?" he asked, casual as you please. Like he wasn't holding the knife that slit a man's throat. A man who was killing people in his honor.

 

"Christ, Hannibal," Will breathed. Hannibal smiled.

 

"We are not on speaking terms," Hannibal said, and tilted his head. "You know the consequences. If anyone should learn of this."

 

Will did – the sham trial, the guilty verdict, the months and months languishing in a specialty prison, before the exorcism. It would be a sideshow, the great bright light of Hannibal Lecter extinguished forever, along with all the giddy happiness he had brought.

 

There was no self-defense plea for demons. One infraction and they held you until you could be sent back.

 

Hannibal stood in the moonlight, covered in blood with a silver knife in his strong hand. His shoulders were broad and powerful. Black smoke rose from his skin, forming antlers. He looked down at Will with a wistful fondness.

 

"You are the only one who can understand," Hannibal said. "My sweet William."

 

He held out his hand.

 

-

 

"I had sex with him one time. It was a one night stand and I never planned on it becoming an actual relationship. I never went back to the club, because I met Hannibal shortly thereafter."

 

The disappearance of Francis Dolarhyde had become something of a spectacle, a respectable young man who vanished without a trace. Upon the inspection of his apartment, they found it covered in frantic scribbling and pictures of one William Graham.

 

Will sat at the kitchen counter, the detective assigned to the missing person report carefully recording his statement. Hannibal had brewed them both coffee and had presented beautiful raspberry scones with a flourish. Winston watched, as alert as always, from his dog bed in the corner.

 

"You never saw him again?" the detective asked. "Or thought you've seen him?"

Will shook his head. "I personally think he killed himself after I got into a relationship. Couldn't handle it."

 

The detective nodded. "I'm expected someone's going to find him hanging in the woods or something. But I got to cover all my bases. Thank you for the hospitality, Doctor Lecter, Mister Graham."

 

The detective left after patting Winston on the head. Will watched her pull away from the curb at the living room window, wrapped up in Hannibal's dressing gown and drinking fine coffee in a hardy ceramic mug. Strong arms wrapped around his middle.

 

"Beautiful," Hannibal crooned, pressing a kiss to Will's temple. "Everything is going to be perfect."

 

Will placed his hand over Hannibal's, big and calloused. He kept his eyes trained out, on to the fancy houses of Hannibal's street, little castles with walls made of hedgerows. There were roses in Hannibal's front garden, and in the depth of winter they were blooming – perfectly symmetrical and blood red.

 

"Of course it is," Will said. "We've got no problems."