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A Hollow Faith

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May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine, flowing gently over lips and teeth. I am my lover's, and he claims me as his own. —Song of Solomon {7:9-10}

Hannibal was invigorated, even the day’s sunlight failing to fatigue him as it usually did. It wasn't often that he had a chance to cook, especially for guests, and he seldom missed the opportunity. His first task was to fix dessert well in advance, leaving it to chill inside of his refrigerator. Later on he prepared the night's dinner with a flourish, a full theatrical performance as Vivaldi's La Stravaganza concertos resounded through the halls of his lavish palazzo. The soffrito came next as Hannibal minced vegetables and herbs, then tossed them into a pan to brown. With a genuine smile he cut his choice meat into pieces, dusted them with salt, pepper and flour and allowed the seasoned cuts to sear.

On a rising crescendo he flipped the pieces over, the meat sizzling as it cooked – it smelled exquisite. He was making excellent time. Hannibal stuck his leavened dough in the oven to bake, eager for Will to taste his homemade Roman bread. Then, adding more than necessary of a vintage dry red to the meat and vegetables, he let the spezzatino simmer. Lastly, he got to work on the stuffed rice balls, arguably the least time consuming of his recipes.

When he'd finished he retired upstairs to ready himself, then made his way to Will's building to pick him up. Arriving a few minutes early, Hannibal pulled out his phone and composed a text.

He hit send and rang the buzzer to Will's apartment.

When his mobile vibrated and pinged, Will's heart skipped a beat – he checked it quickly, knowing it had to be Hannibal.

Awaiting your presence outside.
HL

He raised an eyebrow, impressed. Dr. Lecter was not a minute late, meanwhile Will was still scrambling. He didn't know why he'd chosen tonight to put himself together so thoughtfully... He was somehow more nervous than he had been on their visit to La Pergola. Knowing that Hannibal had planned to pick him up and take him to his place for dinner – that he'd known of these plans for days in advance – had only inflamed his anxiety. Will was aware this was supposed to be a simple dinner between friends, a sincere apology on Dr. Lecter's behalf, but it all seemed so terribly formal.

He'd tried to settle his nerves as he'd showered, then again as he'd stilled to gaze at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. For some inexplicable reason, Will wanted to look good. He told himself that it wasn't for Hannibal, that this was entirely for himself, but either way it was vanity. His hair was lightly tousled, and he'd groomed the stubble along his jaw, chin and upper lip – a formality he seldom bothered with. Will was trading his cassock for casual apparel more and more often, but he couldn't shed his faith. He'd changed into a cardigan and some chino pants, slipping a small vial of holy water he'd procured into his pocket. A small protection, but it gave him courage.

Finally making his way outside the complex, Will was greeted by Hannibal's visage as soon as he opened the door. They regarded each other for a quiet moment – Hannibal, with his honey-colored hair, meticulously groomed. A hint of bang parted to one side, falling loosely across his brow and flirting just above the eye. Neat, but almost boyish. The dark navy suit Hannibal wore stood out against his olive skin, sleek and fitted to his body in a way that shouldn't look so appealing – Will had to look away lest he gawk for too long.

They exchanged pleasantries, and Will was all half smiles and nervous glances. Hannibal seemed to glow, beam, and it was impossible not to be overcome by the energy of his excitement. He's a socialite, Will told himself. Of course he's happy about having guests. Hannibal opened the passenger side door of his car for him, and Will ducked inside with a heated glance. He’d missed the spacious interior of the Bentley just a bit – it wasn't practical for the cramped roads of Rome, but Hannibal was nothing if not unorthodox. Hannibal walked around the hood of the vehicle and got in beside him, then they were headed off to their destination... Dr. Lecter’s elegant home.

Though Will had been there once already, the refined beauty of Hannibal's palazzo still floored him. He hadn’t been in a position to appreciate it before. Hannibal parked in his ample garage and they made their way inside – and despite his growing familiarity with the location Will couldn't keep from ogling, scanning every inch of the place with his eyes. An incredible scent wafted to his nostrils, and Will's stomach gurgled in sympathy.

Hannibal smiled, leading Will to the dining room. It was warmed by a great fireplace burning smoothly, darkened and intimate. He pulled a chair out for him, waited for him to sit, then proceeded to serve the food on his plate. The table was well-decorated with dark centerpieces, bronze candelabras and tall candles that flickered firelight underneath a jeweled chandelier.

"Coniglio alla cacciatora, and homemade rosette soffiate," Hannibal said as he placed the plate in front of the priest, "with arancini con besciamella – Italian style béchamel sauce."

He took a seat across the table.

"I hope you enjoy it," Hannibal said as he poured the wine into Will's glass, and then his own. "I wanted to serve you Italian food, since that night we went to La Pergola you didn't eat much. I'm hoping you'll eat more this time."

His smile indicated that he didn't resent Will for refusing to eat at the restaurant, but he also didn't want to let Will forget that night. Despite his promise that this would be a simple dinner between friends, he still hoped for the opportunity to touch Will again, touch him more this time.

“I would like to propose a toast,” Hannibal said, raising his wine glass, eyes fixed on Will’s – just as Will had done at the restaurant. “To friendship.”

The familiar words surprised Will – left a hollow feeling in the cavity of his chest, one that he wanted to do away with as quickly as possible. He was slow to react, but eventually mimicked Hannibal’s gesture with a forced smile, brief and tight.

“Cheers,” Will said, and even his voice sounded weak. He wasn’t sure why the thought bothered him quite so much. Perhaps because the term felt so alien somehow, with Hannibal sitting across from him, having prepared a feast for them both to enjoy. But that’s what this was, wasn’t it? A dinner between friends. Hannibal’s apology, because he had made a mistake in thinking that Will could be anything but who and what he was. He wanted to keep their friendship intact. It was a sentiment Will had proposed numerous times, and now he felt the sting of it.

Hannibal easily pretended not to notice how Will's expression changed when he mentioned friendship, but he could sense that friendship wasn't what Will truly wanted from him. The priest was just scared – or still too devoted to God – to accept that he wanted Hannibal, wanted so much more than to just be friends.

But Hannibal didn't push the subject. He was still worried about what he had discovered during their last therapy session. He had kept the cilice, and hoped Will wouldn't persist in finding a new one to continue his penance. Still, even though he didn't agree with the way Will had been inflicting pain to himself – of how much Will seemed to enjoy it, need it – he wondered how he could take advantage of it.

Will looked about, lip captured between his teeth. All of this was so familiar, almost as if it were staged. An uncomfortable deja vu. That night had changed so much for them, between them… And he still couldn’t bring himself to reject the incident entirely. It still haunted him, but it was also a memory he’d played back in his head more times than he could count, and not always in the context of guilt and reflection. Will grew hot underneath his cardigan, nearly tempted to pull it off. He doubted it would help.

Bowing his head in a short prayer, Will gave thanks to God for the food he was about to receive – though Hannibal had made it a possibility – then brought his glass to his lips and drank like a man parched. He was eager to dull the ache he could feel inside of himself.

Coniglio,” Will cooed, setting down his wineglass and taking in the elegantly plated meal. It rivaled, if not surpassed, what he’d observed at La Pergola. An A-plus for presentation. He took his fork in hand, cool metal against his fingers. The meat was so tender he didn’t even have to use his knife, and the first bite tasted like heaven. He savored it slowly, chewing well, thoroughly appreciating the flavors before swallowing with a blissful expression.

“This is… Incredible.” Will shifted, still struggling to shake off a strange feeling of dissatisfaction. It certainly wasn’t the dinner. “Wild or domestic rabbit?” he asked, eager to get further and further away from the subject of friendship; of what had happened that night.

"I think you could say that this one was pretty wild," Hannibal said, hiding a smile. You should have seen her in bed, he thought. Of all of Hannibal's recent victims, this one had been his favorite. He was glad he could share her with Will now, even if the priest didn't know what he was eating.

"I'm pleased to know you like it." He smiled now, watching with approval as the priest ate, eyes burning with the glow of the candlelight. It surprised him how happy and proud he felt with Will's approval. How important it was to him.

"We could do this regularly if you'd like," Hannibal said, but tried not to sound too hopeful. "I'd cook something different for you every time." He looked down at his own plate and began to eat as well.

Will took another bite, stalling to answer. He didn't trust himself to refuse or accept, wasn't sure what regularly entailed. He could easily see them doing this every week, in conjunction with their sessions. Will couldn't deny that it was appealing, but he wasn't sure how well that would bode for either of them. The more he saw Hannibal, the more he was tempted.

“You know, this doesn't taste very gamey," Will said instead, then took another mouthful to give himself time to process. His thoughts came unbidden, as they often did – he recalled with a bittersweet fondness the days of his youth, hunting with his father in the lush pine forests of Mississippi. When they were lucky they'd get a white-tailed deer; eat venison until they got sick of it. Marsh rabbit was another favorite. It always tasted gamey.

"You must have cooked it perfectly. I don't usually..." Will trailed off. "I haven't eaten food like this in quite some time. But you could say I'm… choosing to indulge myself tonight." His gaze flickered up to meet Hannibal’s from across the table, and this time his smile was a bit more confident.

“It appears to make you happy,” Hannibal said, and somehow he knew Will was. Nervous, anxious, uncertain, maybe. But definitely happy. He took another bite, watching Will eat. He knew Will’s skin was flushed before he even looked at him – he could smell Will’s blood, feel the warmth of it. So close. It could be so easy if all he wanted was to kill the priest.

Hannibal knew he would never forgive himself if he did.

“Indulgence is a gift. You should indulge yourself more often... I always do. But you already know that.” Hannibal was completely aware of what he was doing – he was reminding Will of the night at the church, when Hannibal confessed his sins to him. He wanted to make Will remember, was curious what would happen then.

He could smell the blood rushing to the surface of Will’s skin, could sense where his body was warmest, and Hannibal brought his wineglass to his lips again, hiding his own amusement. It was hard not to push Will like this when he was so curious about him. Will knew about Hannibal’s feelings, suspected that Hannibal might be a vampire, and still he was alone with Hannibal in the very heart of his territory. He didn’t look frightened. Didn’t smell frightened. The priest was truly remarkable.

Will had broken into a sweat, becoming more aware of his stuttered breathing, the thrum of his heart pumping away. The last thing he needed was an influx of physiological reactions – he hoped his blood didn't rush anywhere below the belt; that he could maintain his slowing fraying composure. It was hard not to remember something so… Vivid. That had been so visually explicit and physically intense.

“To a certain extent, at least some degree of indulgence is… Almost unavoidable,” Will said, eyeing their gracious meal, the wine. “In one form or another. I don't believe it's harmful in moderation, but in excess and depending on what's being indulged—it can become dangerous.” Will could remember each and every one of Hannibal’s indulgences, ones he’d openly confessed to the priest with no desire to serve penance for. It sent a chill down Will’s spine. He took another long sip from his wineglass; set it delicately back onto the table. “I struggle with temptation more now than I ever have… Can't help but wonder if it isn't a product of your influence.”

“The problem with temptation,” Hannibal said, “is that it will always exist so long as you choose to deny yourself. The more you fight it, the harder it gets, especially if there is constant exposure to what tempts you.” He watched Will take another bite of his meal and turned his attention to his own plate. This gave the priest a little time to think, but before Will could reply, Hannibal continued.

“Avoidance helps you,” he observed, eyes fixed on the priest again, reading Will like a book. “It always has. But now you say that I'm the cause of your struggle, and yet here you are having dinner with me. Alone. You don't seem to be avoiding me.”

Hannibal set down his fork and reached for his glass of wine to take another sip. He was thankful that the priest wasn't avoiding him, but it made him wonder why. Perhaps Will didn't truly want to avoid or fight temptation, but to give into it, and was following his advice of getting close to his own demons and understanding them. Maybe deep down inside, Will didn't want to fight his demons, but to embrace them.

Will knew he couldn't argue – he didn't want to avoid Hannibal. It was an undeniable truth, but even he wasn't sure why he couldn't seem to stay away. "You're right,” he replied, lips curved in a rueful grin. “I suppose that'd be giving you too much credit, wouldn't it? Blaming you for my own weakness. Sorry—I know I can't talk when I'm here of my own free will." Will shifted a bit in his seat, trying to work out his own conflicted emotions. There were so many to sift through. “Sin, holiness, devotion, temptation... You make it hard to distinguish one from the other. They bleed into each other when you're around, but maybe that's not a bad thing."

Will paused to carefully bring another tender bite of meat to his lips; take it into his mouth. He could taste the red wine in the cacciatore, amidst the myriad of other robust flavors – but he knew the alcohol had been all but cooked out. Only the taste remained, and so he opted once again for his rapidly depleting glass. Maybe he had already stopped fighting temptation. Maybe, at Hannibal's home, he could allow himself to slip. It was funny how his own desire flared, while Hannibal's seemed to have receded.

“I’ve made you commit sins,” Hannibal said, “serious ones, that made you avoid me. And punish yourself.” He was even more fascinated by Will now. The priest’s mind was one of the most intriguing Hannibal had ever seen, and he wondered if Will Graham would ever stop surprising him. “I tested your limits, pushed you, made you do things you promised you’d never do. Things you... partially regretted,” he reminded the priest. Reminded him of those nights, of Hannibal’s hand and mouth wrapped around him. If Will was accepting – seeking – his company after everything that had happened between them, if the priest’s words were true, then Hannibal had no reason to hide his feelings or the way he had deliberately seduced Will. Will already knew. Will didn’t care.

“If temptation and sin are blurring with holiness and devotion in your mind, it should be a reason for concern,” Hannibal said, leaving his food uncharacteristically forgotten. There was nothing else in the room except for them, nothing else mattered to him. “As a priest, you should think that’s a bad thing. Yet, you say maybe it isn’t. Do you still feel guilty about the things we did? Or do you think I'm the one to blame? If it doesn’t make you feel bad that the lines are blurring… how does it make you feel?”

Will carefully set down his fork, considering. He clenched his hand into a fist with a slight intake of breath. "Imperfect," he answered softly. "Flawed. Human." The priest knew he had to hold himself to a higher standard, that he should, but with Hannibal everything that was wrong somehow felt right – at least in every way he'd been taught to ignore. Will didn't know how much longer he could pretend to be unaffected. If he could keep scrambling for higher, holier ground even as he passed judgement on others.

"In the same vein, I can't... blame you for who you are,” Will continued. “Or what to do. Your nature.” He drank down the rest of his wine, bolstering his courage. Ran his tongue along the seam of his lips. "It doesn't erase my guilt or absolve me, but I can't have it both ways. Can't expect grace when I'm flirting with damnation."

Hannibal watched Will carefully and in silence for what felt like a long moment for both of them. He was sure Will hadn’t changed his mind about just being friends, couldn’t have done it so fast. Can't have it both ways. Will couldn’t stay in the church and be in a romantic – sexual – relationship with Hannibal at the same time. Hannibal intended to make him leave the church eventually, but he knew it was still too soon. Will’s words only made him more curious.

“I take full responsibility for the things I’ve pushed you into,” Hannibal said quietly, carefully, his wine forgotten just as his food was. “But you seem to be flirting with damnation again at this very moment… Maybe you're not entirely conscious of it. It seems to me that you can’t decide if you're looking for damnation or grace. That you can’t decide what you expect from me. What do you want, Will?”

Will swallowed in response. The air was thick between them, his chest growing tight with it. What did he expect from Hannibal? What did he want from him?

His thudding heartbeat picked up in speed.
"I want..." Will kept his gaze fixed on his host’s form, but severed their eye contact tactlessly. "I want to be more than just another follower,” he explained with a rush of breath. “I want to be seen. Known, recognized. Understood. I want to know why desire and faith, passion and belief, intimacy and devotion—even lust, if balanced with enough goodness—can't exist together."

Will let out a shaky sigh. "I want to know what I've been missing… So I'll know if it's all worth it."

Hannibal nodded slightly. If that was what Will wanted, Hannibal could give it to him. Could show him what he had been missing and prove to him that damnation was, indeed, worth it. Apparently the priest wanted to be more than friends after all.

Hannibal stood, leaving his meal unfinished – something he would never do under normal circumstances. Now, the food that was still on his plate, the wine that was still in his glass, the dessert that was in the fridge, were all unimportant. All he wanted was to show Will everything he could give him. Everything they could be and do together. Eyes never leaving Will’s, he circled the table slowly, stopping right next to the priest’s chair. Will’s heartbeat was loud in his ears. Hannibal’s voice was barely a whisper as he spoke.

“Would you like me to show you, Will?”

Muscles tensing, Will wondered if this was really the right decision... But he wanted the opportunity to make a choice. It would be sacrilege in itself to waste the gift of autonomy God had bestowed mankind. A consecrated life had been the only one he'd known for so many long, lonely years – if he could just compare, just taste the alternative... If Will could decide of his own free will, then perhaps he wouldn't be filled with such regret, faced with near-constant temptation.

He was tired of the warring between his body and mind, his heart and his conscience. Will felt so small, far too vulnerable with Hannibal looming over him – he rose from his seat, clambering to his feet with his mouth set in a determined line. He was about to turn his body, to twirl around and face Hannibal properly when the gleam of his wineglass caught his eye. It took him less than a second to deliberate. When Will did twist around his hand shot out, swiping his empty wineglass from the table as he groped to steady himself. It broke against the marble floor with shrill clang, the bowl of the glass cracking and splitting into fractured pieces.

"S-Sorry," Will murmured, falling immediately to his knees to gather up the shards. They were big enough to pick up by himself, collect in handfuls, the glass delicate and glimmering sharp. He heard Hannibal say his name, and the urgency in his voice urged him on... Like a warning.

Will’s fingers twitched in his hesitation – it was now or never. This had been his plan, hadn't it? To discover the truth. He clenched his fist around the shards, making no sound as the fractured glass dug deep into his palm. The pieces clinked against the floor as they dropped from his hands, dripping blood onto the marble. A fine line of red had bloomed across the meat of Will’s palm, blood welling up and oozing from the cut. His hand trembled slightly as the pain flared, but he could ignore it. Worse was the sudden silence that set him on edge… He wasn't sure what to expect when he straightened up, turning to regard Hannibal, pulse racing.

Will was struck silent, paling at what he saw. He hadn't realized he'd been moving away until the table dug into his hip. There was a ringing in his ears as his body surged with adrenaline, a product of the cold fear that seized his heart. He stood unmoving, meeting the wild gaze of unfamiliar eyes, beautiful and inhuman – a radiant crimson that seemed to pierce right through him. The sight was almost hypnotizing, keeping Will rooted in place and yet poised and ready to turn and bolt. He fought the overwhelming instinct to do so.

“Will,” Hannibal repeated, knowing what Will had just seen. There was no turning back now. Hannibal had two options: convince the priest to stay, or kill him.

He reached for Will and grabbed his arms without looking at his hand. Not seeing the blood didn't help at all when the smell of it filled his nostrils and the priest's heart raced. Vampires weren't made to resist the urge. They weren't made to spare human lives.

“I'm not going to hurt you,” he promised, staring deeply into Will's eyes. Fighting the instinct was almost physically painful, but he could resist. He managed to keep his voice calm and soothing, even though the hunger made it impossible to think straight. “Let me take care of your hand. Please.”

Hannibal's grip was somewhat hesitant, but firm enough to make Will's pulse spike – he wondered if Hannibal was holding back. The priest was already reciting a hundred silent prayers as he stood, caught in the clutches of a vampire. The feeling of panic was gradually beginning to subside, however. If Hannibal had wanted to kill him, he would have done so already. Surprisingly, Will's world wasn't crashing down around him... But he was hungry for answers. His empathy had never failed him, never been as clouded as it was when it came to Hannibal. He surmised that surely a part of him had always known, but refused to see.

"Do you want to hurt me?" Will asked, unable to look away. He was thankful he'd chosen not to remove his cross pendant; it offered him a small comfort now, made him feel just a little bit safer. "Are you able to just... Ignore it?"

“My instincts tell me to hurt you,” Hannibal said quietly, moving closer to Will, his eyes fixed on him. “To kill you. But I don't want to. I won't.

Hannibal's hand slid down Will's arm until he reached the priest's wrist, bringing his hand closer and finally looking at it. Will's blood was flowing from the cut and dripping on the floor, and Hannibal touched Will's hand softly with his fingers, painting them red.

“I can't ignore it.” Hannibal's hand trembled slightly as he lifted it and stared at the blood on his fingers. He wanted to lick them clean, and lick the blood directly from Will's hand, but he knew if he did that, it would be much harder to stop. He didn't want to bite Will without his consent, it would just make the priest even more scared of him and that was the opposite of what he wanted. He sighed. “But I can resist. I can take care of your hand. You need to trust me.”

Will considered Hannibal’s words as carefully as his scattered brain could manage. “That would require a huge leap of faith. It'd require me to be blind." Will shifted on his feet, watching the gleam in Hannibal's eyes, how brilliantly red they were. He seemed so captivated by his blood. There was something strangely beautiful, almost endearing about the way Hannibal struggled against his nature. Something familiar.

"It's a risk. Especially now, but you..." Will began, cheeks prickling with heat, "you've done other... things... with me. For me." The priest shuddered in the near-silence between them, the only sound that of his faint, quickened breathing, suspended in the tense air. "You've had the opportunity—had me alone and completely vulnerable more than once. At your mercy, but you didn't kill or harm me.”

It was true that Hannibal had demonstrated his restraint on multiple occasions, moments where it would have been effortless to simply take what he wanted. Will was sure he hadn’t made it easy – perhaps the least he could do was give him credit now.

"I... I trust you, Hannibal," Will muttered. "For better or for worse. But I'm, uh... I'm kind of getting blood everywhere."

Hannibal blew out the dining candles with a gust of breath.

“Come with me,” he said simply, grabbing a napkin and wrapping it around Will's palm. He pulled Will with him, upstairs to his bedroom and into his bathroom again. It reminded him of the night Will had hurt his knuckles punching the thief. The night they tossed their second coins into the Trevi Fountain. The coins that promised new romance.

He rinsed Will's hand in the sink underneath cold water, disposed of the napkin, then grabbed his medical kit. Again he would take care of Will's hand, bandage it. Offer to give him something for the pain. Maybe this night would end differently. Maybe Will wouldn't leave.

Hannibal took Will's hand in his again, gently, examining the wound. It wasn't bleeding as much as it was before, but the wound was deep. His eyes were still red as he looked up at Will and he was still hungry but his thoughts seemed clearer. His will to keep the priest safe was stronger than the need to drink his blood.

“You're going to need stitches,” Hannibal said, his fingers caressing Will's hand softly. “I can take care of that. I recommend a local anesthetic for the pain.”

Strangely enough, the pain had taken a backseat in Will's mind – he was hardly focused on it at all. If he narrowed his concentration down to the sensation of Hannibal's touch, everything else seemed to blur into the background. He was being so gentle with him... It was hard to believe that he was anything but human.

"Thanks. I... think I'll be okay. I can take pain pretty well." There was a short pause as Hannibal prepared the stitches, and it gave Will time to contemplate. He still had trouble tearing his eyes away from the eerie glow of Hannibal's. “You know, I fought everyone about you being anything other than what you said you were. About you being this terrible monster. I didn't want to believe it."

The priest inhaled slowly, wondering what this meant for himself. If he'd sealed his own fate and how close Hannibal actually was to what he knew about vampires. If he was really as monstrous as they were made out to be.

"Do you want me right now?" Will asked finally, his voice low and soft. "M-My blood, I mean.”

“Yes,” Hannibal answered simply, cleaning the laceration to Will’s hand and making sure there wasn't any glass embedded in the wound before he began stitching. He removed any debris slowly, carefully, still fighting to resist the urge to bite and taste and kill. “I want your blood. You.”

Will’s pulse picked up and suddenly he couldn't stop the questions from spewing forth. How dangerous are you? Have you killed people? Why didn't you try to kill me? Will didn't care if it distracted Hannibal from his work, he had to know.

There was no reason to lie anymore, no need for it. Hannibal didn’t want to lie. Will had climbed his walls, wanted to see who he truly was, and Hannibal found that he liked being seen by the priest, even if he still didn’t know the consequences it would bring.

And yet… Terrible monster, Will had said. He was used to being seen as a monster, even Bedelia saw him that way, but hearing the words coming from Will’s mouth had hurt him deeply.

His gaze moved from Will’s hand to his eyes just for a second – Hannibal’s own eyes still bright red – before he looked down again, trying to focus on stitching Will’s hand instead of the tight feeling in his chest. “Is that how you see me, Will? A terrible monster?”

Will took a breath, Hannibal's hurt rushing over him like a stormtide. “No,” he said simply. He couldn't think about it too much, not about what Hannibal had done, things he did as a vampire or wanted to do to him. He didn't want to think of Hannibal as evil… It would be too simplistic, too black and white. Maybe that was encouraged in the Catholic faith, but it was one belief he couldn't subscribe to.

"That's not how I see you.” The fingers of Will’s other hand curled into a fist as he fought against the sting of the curved needle. “The books are all wrong."

Hannibal finished stitching, and Will winced only slightly as he pulled the sutures taut; trimmed them neatly with a small pair of scissors. Even his stitches were meticulous… Hannibal didn't have to be caring for him right now. He didn't have to care about him at all, but he did. He did, and Will could feel it just as plainly as the stinging of his palm.

Hannibal proceeded to bandage Will’s hand to protect the wound. Later, if Will stayed, maybe Hannibal could offer him a bit of his blood and that would heal the priest’s hand immediately. For now, he thought that the idea of drinking a vampire’s blood would be too much, no matter how open minded Will seemed to be.

Now that Will’s hand wasn’t bleeding anymore it was easier to fight the hunger, and Hannibal knew his eyes would change back to their normal color soon. Maybe it would be easier for Will not to see him as a monster then. Hannibal sighed, holding Will’s hand carefully and bringing it up, close to his mouth. He inhaled deeply, the smell of Will’s blood still lingering there, and he closed his eyes as he pressed a soft kiss to the priest’s fingers.

“Much better now, isn’t it?” Hannibal asked softly. He lowered Will’s hand again but still wasn’t ready to let go. “Do you feel any pain? Do you need medication?”

Will was very still for a moment. He eyed where their hands were joined, but did not feel inclined to pull away – instead he found himself wanting to be closer. To share more points of contact, skin against skin. It was not a feeling he was used to having.

Will slowly shook his head. "I want to make sure I'm seeing you clearly now," he breathed. "I don't want my thoughts to be clouded.” After a steadying breath, he added, "Thank you, Hannibal."

His fingers still tingled where Hannibal had kissed them. Those lips, that mouth... Will was intimately familiar with them both. Knew what it was like to have them on him, warm and wet, kissing, licking, biting – not hard enough to hurt him, though he wondered how that would feel, too. He wondered how he ever could have missed it. How Hannibal could have held himself back so surely to leave Will none the wiser.

The underlying characteristics shared by the vampires he'd learned about included their voracious appetites: bloodlust; savagery, their cruel and callous demeanors. How they ravaged their prey with their mouths, violently punctured their skin with their fangs... But Hannibal had never ravaged him in a way that drew blood.

"I want to feel them," Will said suddenly. He cringed at his own lack of tact. "Your teeth. I want to... To know what they feel like." His hand twitched eagerly in Hannibal's grasp, fingers flexing. "May I touch them? Please."

Hannibal’s eyes widened in surprise for a second before Will’s words sank in. Will wasn’t running away. Will wasn’t afraid. “Yes,” he said. Tonight he wanted to give Will anything he asked for.

Hannibal usually kept his fangs retracted, as they were supposed to be when he wasn’t hungry or ready to drink blood. With the years he had learned to keep them retracted even when he was in close contact with blood, and with enough time he gained so much self control that it had become easy. Now, with Will Graham in front of him, asking to see and touch, he opened his mouth and allowed his fangs to extend, reaching for Will’s free hand and bringing it closer to his mouth.

“Be careful,” he warned, still not letting Will move his hand too close. “They’re sharp.”

“I would hope so,” said Will. “They need to be, don't they . . .”

It was risky to let Will touch his fangs, even though Hannibal knew he had enough self control for that. Still, it was never completely safe for humans to be close to vampires. But Will had earned the right to know, Will deserved to know, because he was still here. He was staying, was accepting Hannibal for who he truly was.

The cavern of his mouth was dark, but Will could see the faint, twin glimmers on either side. He hesitated before his curiosity got the best of him, and then he was pressing forward, until he could feel the gust of humid breath against his skin. Will ran a fingertip along the upper ridge of teeth until he reached a canine, protruding far beyond what was normal for any human. It was a very specific adaptation – a physical characteristic undoubtedly belonging to a predator.

Will traced along slowly, until he was grazing the sharp point of one of Hannibal's fangs. His eyebrows pulled together, a pang of arousal punching him in the gut and startling him in its intensity. The tooth pricked him with ease, puncturing layers of skin until blood beaded on the pad of Will's finger and dripped onto Hannibal's tongue. Transfixed, before he knew what was happening he was suddenly being pushed away, warm mouth torn from his searching fingers.

Hannibal increased the distance between them until his back hit the wall, and he leaned into it like it was an anchor. Will could hear him breathing heavily, watched as he closed his eyes that had grown bright with renewed bloodlust. His whole body looked like it was shaking – with what, Will couldn't tell. Had he overestimated himself?

"It's okay," Will said, and his voice did not betray his words. "I'm not scared. I’m not running away from you." He stepped closer, saw as Hannibal's nostrils flared, but he didn't stop. "Hannibal, look at me, please."

Will's heartbeat still stuttered at the sight, like he'd already forgotten the color of those eyes, the barely restrained wildness held there. He hadn't meant to cause Hannibal any pain or suffering, and the thought of it alone was nearly unbearable. Instead he wanted to take it all away; offer up his blood and himself if only it would help.

"I'm sorry, I... I wanted to... feel a part of you that you couldn't hide. That couldn't fool me. I just needed to be sure." Will offered a sad smile and took Hannibal's face in his hands, thumbs stroking underneath his eyes. "I know you're not going to hurt me. I said I trusted you, didn't I?"

Will’s gaze lowered to Hannibal's lips, and the pull was impossible to fight. He leaned in slowly, turning his head to allow their mouths to slot together, and his body surged with heat and energy. With light. His eyes closed as their lips moved against each other, like it was the most natural thing in the world. He was breathing Hannibal in, tasting him, and he'd missed this more than he would ever admit.

Hannibal could still taste the blood, could still smell it, but when Will was this close – touching him, kissing him, it was easier to focus on the lust instead of only the hunger. The first time Will had kissed him willingly was in the exact moment he found out how dangerous Hannibal actually was. His feelings for Will filled his chest, the sensation almost overwhelming. Will was not afraid. Will was staying. Will wanted him. Will wanted him even knowing he was dangerous, even knowing he had killed people before, even knowing he had wanted to kill him. Will wanted him, even though it was a sin in the priest’s eyes, in the eyes of God. In that moment, Will was choosing Hannibal.

His hands gripped the priest’s waist and he deepened the kiss, turning them around to press Will against the wall, the taste of Will’s blood never truly leaving his mouth. He wanted more, but it was still too soon to ask for more. To take more. He groaned into Will’s mouth and pressed his body against his, his hands gripping him tighter.

“Will,” he breathed against the priest’s lips as he pulled back, and somehow the words got caught up in his throat. He swallowed, looking into Will’s eyes, blue and red staring into each other. He had been familiar with his feelings for Will since the night at La Pergola, but now, after being this close to the priest – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, the truth of it sank in, and it left him speechless. He loved Will Graham more than he had ever loved anything in the world.

Will was breathless, exhilarated; hooked on the feeling of Hannibal pressed against him so closely, so completely. He shuddered, knowing he was trapped, ensnared as the willing captive of a vampire. The idea of being his prey only excited the priest, but he knew this was more than that – Will didn't want to be anywhere else. Despite the striking hue of Hannibal's gaze, he looked at him with such reverence, as if he worshipped the very ground he walked on. Will should have found it blasphemous, but instead it set fire to his blood.

Rushing forward again, Will licked feverishly into Hannibal's mouth, spurred on by the desire he felt welling up inside of him. He broke away only to undo the first few buttons of his cardigan, his button down, without finesse – yanking the collar open to expose the base of his throat.

"I'm giving you permission," Will huffed, pale skin beginning to bloom a soft pink. "To do whatever you want. To take from me." He wanted to be Hannibal's sustenance, to be his strength and not his weakness. It felt so good to give in, to offer himself up... Will wrapped his arms around Hannibal's neck as he did just that, hoping he would receive him.

"It's okay if you want to," he spoke against Hannibal's ear. "You can't help it, and I can't help but give it to you."

Hannibal couldn't find words to reply, and it didn't matter. Will was offering Hannibal what he needed most, offering it willingly, as if he needed it as much as Hannibal did. The vampire pressed his nose to Will's neck, breathing him in, and allowed his fangs to extend again as his lips brushed against Will's skin. He wrapped his arms around the priest firmly, his fangs puncturing Will's skin and sinking deeper.

A low groan escaped him as Will's blood filled his mouth, but it sounded muffled against Will's neck. Hannibal swallowed a mouthful of blood, it tasted and smelled sweet to him, and made him feel warm inside. Will Graham was all he could feel, soft and warm in his arms, heart beating fast against his chest, breathing against him, holding on to him, giving him life.

The pain had been brief, overshadowed by a pleasant euphoria that spread thick and slow through Will's body. There was a raw eroticism to being penetrated by Hannibal's teeth, to have him feeding from his own essence, taking it into himself to sate his hunger. It was only the pain that he had feared, and it’d melted away as quickly as it came. Now Will was lightheaded, and he moaned weakly, fingers threading through Hannibal's hair.

"Hannibal," he gasped, the vampire still latched onto his throat and taking his fill of sustenance. A blood meal, Will thought, and bit his lip at the sensation. "Hannibal." He was losing himself to this, languorous, despite the danger.

Hannibal pulled back slowly to mouth at Will’s throat, smearing blood everywhere his lips and tongue touched, but avoiding the cross necklace Will wore. Moving to the other side of Will's neck, he bit again, not as deeply as he had before but just enough to make Will bleed a little more, just so he could taste him again.

When Hannibal removed himself this time his mouth and chin were smeared with red, lips parted to reveal a flash of teeth in a similar fashion, bloodstained and glistening. It was a harrowing sight that made Will’s heart pound, relieved to feel a frisson of primordial fear not yet lost.

Perhaps it was his instinct to appease – he could only think to kiss Hannibal then, and did so eagerly. Will shuddered as he shared in the metallic taste of himself, warm and piquant on his tongue. He brought Hannibal closer, hips angled to slot them against one another, and Will's sighs of pleasure were swallowed one by one. He pulled away to pant helplessly into the space between Hannibal's neck and shoulder, flesh scalding and skin buzzing with inebriation.

"Please," Will begged, hands coming down to clutch at Hannibal's shoulders. "Take me to bed, Hannibal. I'm asking for it."

“Yes,” Hannibal breathed, his hands moving down to grab Will's thighs and pull each one of his legs up, wrapping them around his waist. Again, he placed his arms around Will, holding his body firmly against his own as he made his way into the bedroom, carrying the priest with him.

He stopped next to the bed, allowing Will to put his feet back on the floor, letting go of him and looking into his eyes. Will had blood on his lips and chin just as Hannibal did, and Hannibal caught himself picturing Will as a vampire, with bright red irises and the blood of his victims coloring his lips.

He pushed Will's cardigan off his shoulders and let it fall on the bed, his fingers working slowly to undo the buttons of Will's shirt and reveal his chest. Hannibal had seen a glimpse of it before, but this time he was allowed to touch. His fingertips brushed Will's warm skin as they moved to the next button.

“If we do this,” Hannibal said, breathing heavily, “there is no turning back.” Finally having Will this close was almost too much for him to process. He wanted to take things slow, to see and feel the priest in every possible way. He needed Will to be sure, because he didn't want to be a bad memory in Will's mind. Not now that Will knew the whole truth about him.

“You're making this choice…consciously.” Hannibal's fingers reached the last button, and he reached for Will's wrists to undo the cuffs as well, careful with Will’s bandaged hand. “Choosing to spend the night… with another man. A vampire. I need to know if this is truly what you want, Will.”

Will nodded, half-delirious, wiping the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand. "I want this," he insisted, eyes glimmering with emotion. Hannibal finally rid him of his bloodstained shirt, pushing it from his shoulders as if unveiling a fine work of art. Though he trusted him, it was hard for Will not to feel vulnerable like this, his own blood drying against the skin of his throat. He couldn't feel the ache or sting of his wound, just a growing warmth that originated from bite and made his limbs feel heavy; made him pliant and receptive. His instinct was to shy away from the intensity of Hannibal’s gaze, his eyes still rich with their unnatural pigmentation, but Will found a certain thrill in letting himself be seen.

"I need to experience this for myself. I need you to touch me," he said, and Hannibal did, palms running over the smooth expanse of Will's chest, brushing across the hard peaks of his nipples and tearing a moan from his throat. "I... I want to know how it feels.” He reached out with trembling fingers to undo Hannibal's suit jacket, his waistcoat. "I've never done any of this, not before you. I want it to be you."

The priest loosened Hannibal's tie, deft fingers unbuttoned his blouse with care, and even in his desperate state of arousal Will took his time to savor what felt like a ritual – an intimate rite of passage. He felt like he was going to burst, like he needed Hannibal's body pressed against his own with nothing but heated breath in between them.

Hannibal reciprocated eagerly, touching every part of Will he could until his hands slid down and felt something in the pocket of his trousers. He slipped his hand inside and pulled it out, and as he looked at it he immediately knew what it was.

“You hurt your hand to make me reveal myself,” Hannibal said quietly. “Did you anticipate that I would attack you?” He thought it was amusing that Will had been so brave, and reckless, to think that he could fight Hannibal with holy water. But Will had figured it out. Had manipulated Hannibal into showing what he truly was, and in a way, Hannibal felt proud of him for it.

“I anticipated a lot of things," Will said, "but not this." He allowed Hannibal to set the vial aside. "I was curious how you'd react to it. I considered pouring it into your wine but I never got the chance.” It would have been a cruel test.

Hannibal considered it a moment.

"That would not have boded well for you. The ancient Greeks and Romans may have mixed their wine with water – but to dilute a perfectly good vintage would be to ruin it."

The real travesty.

"It wouldn't have stopped you, would it?” asked Will.

"No."

As if to emphasize his point, Hannibal kissed him ardently. Will wondered if perhaps he should have washed and gargled with the holy water instead, but he wouldn't have wanted to miss out on this. He drank in every exposed inch bared to him as the rest of their clothes fell away, trousers unfastened and discarded, followed by their undergarments... The last barrier between them. Will swallowed hard at the knowledge that he was stripped bare, all but for the silver pendant he wore around his neck.

He had to bolster himself, every one of his senses so acute and alive, synapses firing, sensitive nerve-endings frazzled with electrical signals. Will claimed Hannibal's lips again, gasping into his mouth at the hard press of flesh against his hip, and his tongue flicked out to boldly trace along the vampire's teeth. He wished so badly to offer the sort of pleasure Hannibal had freely given, but Will was new to this world, to this sensation… It was best if he learned from the one who had introduced him.

Hannibal returned the kiss, his hands smoothing up Will’s back slowly, finally able to feel Will’s skin against his own. His heart was beating as fast as Will’s, and he didn’t remember anyone ever affecting him the way the priest did. He pulled back slowly, sucking on Will’s bottom lip gently before letting go. He hoped there would be a time for him to be rough with Will, throw him on the bed and pound him into the mattress, but tonight was Will’s first time, and Hannibal would treat him as he deserved.

“Lie on the bed,” he whispered, kissing Will’s lips softly again. “Please.” Another soft kiss.

Will did so and Hannibal followed, lying on top of the priest, his legs between Will’s thighs. Hannibal leaned in for another kiss, taking his time exploring Will’s mouth, caressing his lips and tongue with his own. His cock brushed against Will’s as he moved his hips slightly and he gasped, parting from Will’s mouth. He stared into Will’s eyes briefly, his gaze dropping to his chest, and was reminded that Will’s cross necklace was still there.

“I have to ask you to take this off,” Hannibal said, looking at the cross disapprovingly. Surely Will wouldn’t need that for protection, not as long as he was with Hannibal. Hannibal could protect Will better than anything or anyone could. In time, Will would realize that.

It took him a moment to contemplate, but Will realized he had already made his decision. He pulled the necklace off without protest, tossing it to lie atop the bloody pile of his clothes. Having Hannibal on top of him like this, hard and blood-hot, their cocks grazing against one another... It felt just like the very first dream he’d had of him. The Hannibal that he showed the world, cool and composed, nothing short of a perfect gentleman.

Will knew better.

He bucked his hips, seeking more friction – it felt so good, to be able to feel Hannibal, to touch him back. It empowered him, and made him feel humbled and human all at once.

"Hannibal," Will huffed out, his fingers itching to touch him even more. He reached down to curl his fingers around the thickness of Hannibal's cock, stroking him slowly and without finesse – it was incredible to be holding him like this, hot and insistent against the skin of his uninjured palm. Will moaned in sympathy, lips wet and shining, and he felt the overwhelming need to take Hannibal into his body, to accept him into himself as readily as he had his God.

Hannibal groaned, rocking his hips to thrust into Will’s fist. He rested his forehead against Will’s shoulder and breathing heavily. Many times he had thought about this, had thought about Will when other people touched him like this, but nothing could compare to the real thing – Will’s hand, his body, his heartbeat, his smell. Hannibal buried his face in Will’s neck to lick and suck the blood that was drying there. The two small holes his fangs had made on Will’s skin had already healed, and Hannibal didn’t bite him again, satisfied in savoring what remained.

But Will’s body was hot, hotter than Hannibal’s, and Hannibal wanted to kiss every inch of his skin, wanted to touch parts of Will’s body he never had before, with his hands and mouth. He pressed kisses to Will’s chest as he moved down, his lips brushing against one of Will’s nipples, watching as it hardened. He moaned softly as Will’s fingers circled the head of his cock, and took Will’s nipple in his mouth, licking and sucking.

His voice was hoarse with arousal as he looked up at Will again. “How do you want me?”

The question made Will’s blood boil, and it was impossible to stop touching Hannibal – he knew his grip was hesitant, unsatisfying, but he couldn't tear himself away. His chest heaved with each inhalation, every exhale, struggling just to breathe. "I don't know, I... I'm not sure how to do this," Will admitted, the delicate flush high on his cheeks darkening in shade. "I just know I want you inside me."

His hand continued to move along the heavy weight of Hannibal's cock, silken velvet skin gliding warm across the rigid shaft. It was a novel sensation, the petal-softness of his foreskin – Will had to see it for himself, take a good look at what he was feeling. The thought of this inside him made his heart pound erratically, filled him with both fear and desire. He didn't think a word existed for this type of feeling, somehow so pure but tinged with undeniable lust. There were few things Will had ever been so entranced by that every fiber of his being craved it like a drug.

"I want to feel you for real, not just in a dream," he said, and tangled his other hand in light-colored strands, fingers scratching against Hannibal's scalp. Will shuddered as he once again captured the stiff peak of one of his nipples in between his lips, wetting it with his tongue. Hannibal's mouth was so warm and wet and good it made Will's cock twitch, and he was nearly ashamed by how desperate he was for Hannibal's touch.

Hannibal only stopped when Will moaned loudly and arched his back, and let his teeth graze against his nipple before lifting his head again. He kissed all the way up to Will's neck, let his lips brush against the stubble along Will's jaw, then kissed Will's lips softly. Will wanted to bottom for him. Will trusted him enough for that. The priest had surprised Hannibal so many times, and was doing it again.

“I promise you,” Hannibal said, with another soft kiss. “It will be better than your dreams.”

Hannibal reached for Will's hand, gently moving it away from his cock and bringing it up to his mouth, kissing Will's fingers softly. He had to move away just to reach for the lube in the drawer of his nightstand, and as soon as he got it he resumed his position on top of Will.

“I'll prepare you for me now,” he said, kissing Will's chest again, his heart beating fast against Hannibal’s lips. He kissed all the way down until he reached Will's groin, and he pressed his face there, inhaling deeply, drowning in Will's heady scent. He could hear Will's heart beating faster. Hannibal wanted more.

He lifted his head, grabbed the bottle of lube and flipped the cap open, spreading some on his fingers trying to warm it up. He placed one of Will's legs on his shoulder and guided one of his slick fingers down to circle Will's hole. He heard the priest gasp.

“Relax,” Hannibal said softly, turning his head to kiss Will's thigh, right where the cilice had left its mark. He heard Will taking a deep breath and exhaling, his muscles relaxing visibly. He pushed the tip of his finger inside.

Will struggled not to tighten up, to keep his body slack and allow for the intrusion. It was difficult to keep his thoughts from the negative connotations of the act, views that had been hammered and instilled in him from an early age. The idea that it was something wrong, something dirty and base. Unnatural. Sodomy was supposedly a mortal sin, but there was no evidence to support its alleged wickedness. And yet Will was too aroused to entertain the notion that this was anything but good, his cock hard and hot against his belly. Something in Hannibal's bite was chasing away his inhibitions; something coursing through Will's veins, in his blood, that made him feel safe.

So far it was just an odd sensation – the priest winced slightly at it, foreign and somewhat uncomfortable, but not at all painful. Hannibal was blessedly slow and patient, getting him used to the feeling. He repeated the motion of pressing forward, gradually introducing more of his finger only to recede and once again circle his hole. Each time he worked the digit inside of Will a little bit further, carefully, until he was breaching him up to the second knuckle.

Hannibal returned to massaging him open and Will keened softly, taking his fingers until he was slippery and yielding. If he focused very hard Will could feel the gentle blooming of his own pleasure, alongside an excitement responding in kind to that of Hannibal's. Soon he was matching it with an anticipation all his own. It was a deceptive gentleness coming from a vampire, but none of that mattered now – Hannibal was drizzling more lube to ease the way, cold and wet against Will's heated skin, and his breath left him in a rush.

When Hannibal slipped inside this time he did so and stopped, crooking his finger until Will felt himself being rubbed from the inside. Hannibal applied gentle, rhythmic pressure there until Will felt the warm viscosity of precome dribbling from his cock. He arched his back as Hannibal massaged a place that felt markedly different, the touch shooting straight to his cock as a long, low moan fell from his lips. The sound surprised Will as much as the sensation, and he felt lightheaded as he flushed from head to toe.

“Beautiful,” Hannibal said, more to himself than to Will. He started thrusting his finger in and out slowly, brushing against Will's prostate with every movement, his eyes fixed on the priest watching the way he arched his back again, cock twitching and leaking.

When Hannibal thought Will was ready, he put more lube on his fingers and started pushing a second finger in along with the first, still slowly and carefully. He pressed inside, pulled out, circled around for a moment, then tried pushing them further inside, repeating the movements until Will was relaxed and stretched enough to take his two fingers all the way in. The priest had been making the most beautiful noises the whole time, and Hannibal was sure he would never want to have sex with anybody that wasn't Will Graham, ever again.

He kissed Will's thigh again, licking the bruises the cilice had left on Will’s skin, and rubbing his fingers against his prostate for a moment longer before he carefully pulled his fingers out. Will was almost ready to take his cock, but Hannibal decided not to push it inside him just yet. If Will wanted to know what he had been missing all this time, Hannibal would make sure to show him everything.

“Turn over, Will,” he said, lowering Will's leg and kissing his hip bone softly. “There's something I want to do with you.”

"Okay," Will answered, his voice shaky and small. Before he could think twice he was turning onto his stomach – he tried not to feel like a dog in heat, panting with his ass in the air. It felt obscene, made even more mortifying now that he'd been worked open by Hannibal's fingers.

But it all only served to make Will more aroused, his cock leaking onto the sheets. It had felt so good to be caressed from the inside, Hannibal’s fingertips pressing and rubbing sweetly, with confidence. He missed it already, had grown accustomed to the sensation and felt that if he'd continued, if he'd kept moving his fingers like that... Will was sure he would have been able to reach completion from that alone.

"H-Hannibal?" he asked, nervous and unable to see what was happening behind him. He couldn't tell what Hannibal was doing, and there were no sounds to help give it away. Will had no idea what to expect, couldn't predict what would come next... It was all still so new. Strong hands were on his hips then, yanking him closer and elevating his backside even further. The priest whimpered and tensed unconsciously, bracing for the pain, assuming that Hannibal would enter him just like this... Will shut his eyes tightly as Hannibal parted his cheeks and exposed him to the cool air.

He wasn't prepared to feel a soft, wet heat against his hole, teasing him to laxness before stiffening and plunging inside. Will jerked and cried out, squirming with embarrassment and shock as Hannibal pleasured him with his tongue. He shouldn't be doing this, not with his mouth, not like this... Even if he was a vampire, it didn't make the act any less debauched.

"Oh God, d-don't—" Will choked out, gripping at the bedsheets. "Hannibal, st-stop… You can't—ah..." His pleas melted away, dying on his lips as Hannibal pulled back, maddening strokes against tender-pink, sensitive skin. Will had stopped squirming, but his thighs trembled with the effort to keep still. His breath came hot against the fabric fisted in his hands, and he struggled to bite back a moan at every hot, smooth swipe of Hannibal’s tongue.

"Please," Will begged, and Hannibal squeezed a handful of pliant flesh where he held him open. Will's mind raced with shameful imaginings, thoughts of God watching him, judging him – then Hannibal was sliding two slick fingers in alongside his tongue and he wasn't thinking anymore.

He curled them, pressing down to touch Will’s prostate again. Will’s moans were addictive, Hannibal wanted to keep touching him until he turned Will into a whimpering mess, until the priest forgot everything else that wasn’t them and the pleasure Hannibal was making him feel.

“Do you want me to stop?” Hannibal asked with a smirk, biting one of Will’s cheeks playfully, smiling when Will whimpered in response. Hannibal pulled his fingers out, kissing Will’s skin right where he had bitten. There was a mark of his teeth there, but it would fade soon – way too soon, but Hannibal could leave more permanent marks on him later. He grabbed the bottle of lube to spread more of it on his fingers – three now, and leaned in again to continue opening Will up with his tongue. Will didn’t answer his question, but relaxed visibly when Hannibal licked him like this.

“You're doing so well,” Hannibal said as he pulled back, his voice low. “One more now.” He wasn’t sure if Will had even registered his words as he started pushing three fingers into him, just as slowly and carefully as he had been the whole time. Will whined and pulled at the sheets, and Hannibal didn’t stop, gently stretching him and pushing his fingers deeper with every one of his slow thrusts.

He only stopped when Will was open and slick around his fingers, and he left another bite mark above the first one, pressing his teeth into Will's flesh then mouthing at it, licking and sucking. Withdrawing his fingers, he licked from Will’s perineum to the top of his tailbone. When he pulled back, he could see Will’s cock leaking onto the sheets, and he caught himself wishing that Will would ruin his sheets every night.

“You’re ready for me,” he said, spreading lube on his cock and breathing heavily. He moved away from Will just to sit on the bed, resting his back against the headboard comfortably, and reached to touch Will’s shoulder softly, caressing his heated skin. “Come here. It will be easier for you this way.”

Will felt like he couldn't speak – like if he tried now, he'd lose his nerve. His body was thrumming with excitement and fear; felt electric as it quivered at the memory of touch. He didn't want it to fade. Will nodded almost imperceptibly, lifting onto his knees to shuffle forward, wobbly and weak with pleasure. Hannibal reached out to steady him, grabbing him by the waist to help Will comfortably straddle his lap.

“You shall know fully, even as you are fully known,” he spoke aloud.

The priest tried to settle, but he couldn't help his shudder at the twitch of Hannibal against his backside. He faltered, cheeks coloring further, and it was enough to make Will dizzy. Yet it was his own curiosity that had him arching, pushing back until Hannibal was gliding in between his cheeks, slick and blood-hot. Will hid his face against Hannibal's neck, burning with humiliation, but Hannibal only chuckled and smoothed his steady hands up and down his back. He moved to grip himself, holding in place for Will's ease.

Clutching at sturdy shoulders, Will rose up until he could feel the smooth head of Hannibal’s cock nudging against his hole. He swallowed nervously but pushed down the rising panic, bearing down until his body yielded – Will released a sigh of relief. It was still a bit of a stretch, even as much as Hannibal had prepared him... But he sank down anyway, slow and decadent, until Hannibal was fully seated inside of him. Will sat back carefully, lips parting at the shift. His eyes were half-lidded as he watched Hannibal's close; listened to him moan at the hot clutch of his body.

"...Et erunt duo in carne una," Will breathed, swallowed by such luminous darkness. Hannibal hummed, lips grazing along the skin of Will’s neck.

“And the two shall become one flesh.”

At that moment, Will knew: he would never forget this time. He knew that he couldn't go back, not to the way things were. Hannibal grabbed his hips, helping to move him as Will rose again, gliding along his cock only to sink back down to the root. The feeling was indescribable – Will hadn't realized how empty he'd felt before Hannibal was filling him up, filling the hollow space inside him. He felt so concrete, thick and solid and real as he slid in and out of his body. It was so unlike what Will was used to, living by faith and belief. He groaned and lowered himself, clenching just to feel him on the upward drag, feel something that touched him beyond the realm of faith. Again and again, with more momentum until Hannibal's cock cleaved him open hard and fast, pressing deep inside of him.

"You are something divine, Will," Hannibal panted, hands running up and down the priest's sides. "How fortunate I am to be able to touch you. Dare I say blessed."

"O-Oh..." Will gasped, curls spilling across his brow as he moved. He threw his head back, mouth slack with rapture. "It's... It's good, you feel so good inside me..." His arms looped around Hannibal's neck, pulling him closer, holding onto him like the anchor to his world. "God, Hannibal... I knew you would, I—" A pleasured sob racked his body and Will forgot everything that wasn't this, that wasn't here and now. Distantly, he could hear Hannibal whispering his name with reverence.

Will rode him, slow but forceful, as sweat beaded on the surface of their skin. Hannibal still held him tight, encouraging him, savoring the sounds he made every time he took him to the hilt. Will was breathless from the onslaught, but he leaned in close to speak against Hannibal's ear.

"Will you... Bite me again?" he asked, then mewled at the buck of Hannibal's hips. "I like the feel of your... Of your teeth. I, ah... Want you to do it while you're..." Will's throat felt dry. "While—"

Will couldn’t say the words, but he didn’t have to. Hannibal knew. Keeping one hand on Will’s hip, he moved the other one up his back, feeling Will’s warm skin against his palm. He buried his fingers in Will’s curls, gripping and pulling, yanking his head back to expose his neck. He couldn’t leave any marks in places Will couldn’t hide, but he mouthed at Will’s throat anyway, lips and tongue caressing his skin as the priest rolled his hips in his lap. Hannibal bit Will then, right where his neck met his shoulder, catching the flesh between his teeth and squeezing hard enough to make the priest whine, sucking hard to leave a mark that would last for days.

“Like this?” Hannibal asked, not giving him time to answer before biting Will’s shoulder. He wrapped his arm around the priest to steady him and help him move slowly, attacking him with his mouth: shoulders, collarbone, the hollow of his throat. He bit and sucked on Will’s skin until it was covered in bruises, and it was amusing to think of Will going to church with all those marks under his cassock. Then, without a warning, he sank his fangs into Will’s neck, tearing a moan from the priest. It didn’t last long this time, soon he was pulling back to kiss Will again, sharing the taste of his blood.

Letting go of Will’s hair, Hannibal’s hands returned to Will’s hips, pulling him down hard, making the priest whimper. Hannibal started thrusting up into him slightly, breathing hotly against Will’s skin that was now covered in a thin layer of sweat. Will’s cock was rubbing against his belly with every one of their movements, and Hannibal wondered if he could make the priest come just like that. Breaking the kiss, he pressed his lips and tongue against Will’s neck again to feel his pulse, and Will’s heartbeat sounded louder than ever to him. He inhaled deeply, the smell of sex and sweat and Will was almost overwhelming. His groan was muffled by Will’s skin, and his fingernails pressed into Will’s hips as he buried himself deeper into the warmth of his body. If heaven existed, it was Will Graham.

The priest clung to Hannibal like a lifeline, afraid that somehow all of this would end. He allowed himself to feel, let himself live in the moment and all it had to offer. Will could sense nothing but love and worship, a powerful, pure adoration. Why should a vampire worship a man? Will couldn't make sense of it. The only thing he understood was the shape of them together, he and Hannibal – moving, loving, feeling. He ran his fingers through the hair on Hannibal's chest. "D-Don't stop, oh..."

Will scraped his nails along the peaks of Hannibal's nipples as he was pulled down to meet each drive of his hips. His hands came up to bury themselves in the sweat-damp strands of Hannibal's hair, and he tugged gently, pulling him in to let their lips brush. Kissing Hannibal was an experience all its own, only amplified by the hot press of him deep inside. It only made Will moan into Hannibal's mouth, and he had to break away, panting as he rested his head against one broad shoulder. He moved faster, harder in Hannibal's lap, lifting up just to slam back down and crying out with each movement. Will was impatient to experience the bliss of his orgasm, already quivering with the pleasure of taking Hannibal in such a way. It was as beautiful as it was unmentionable, making his heart swell even as his body was set ablaze.

“You feel so good,” Hannibal praised him, lips brushing against Will’s neck, close to his ear. Will could hear Hannibal panting hard as the vampire moved with him, thrusting up as he pushed down. “So tight,” Hannibal continued, squeezing Will’s hips, nails burying into his skin with no other intention than to leave marks that Will would be able to see in the mirror later. “Beautiful.”

Hannibal moved his hands up to roll his thumbs against the hard peaks of Will’s nipples, alternating between light, teasing touches and firm ones that made Will whine quietly. He pinched and pulled them, making Will’s cock twitch and leak even more, and Hannibal didn’t stop until the priest’s nipples were sore and he was whimpering softly with every movement of his fingers. Hannibal loved how sensitive and responsive Will was, and before he lowered his hands again, he let his nails graze against Will’s nipples one last time, tearing a muffled cry from Will’s mouth.

“Feels good?” Hannibal asked, his voice barely a whisper as he panted against Will’s shoulder. “You’re perfect, Will. You’re everything.” Will answered by pushing down against him even harder and moaning loudly, and Hannibal doubted he could do much else. He could feel that the priest wasn’t going to take long to come, could smell it. He wanted to feel Will clenching around him as he came, hot and tight and perfect. He took Will’s cock in hand, stroking him with a firm, tight grip to take him apart quickly. “I want you to come like this, Will. While I’m buried deep inside you.”

Will threw his head back at the words, at the rapidly building pleasure, throat bared and sweat gleaming against his skin. He couldn't contain the helpless sounds he made as his ecstasy began to peak, and he didn't try to fight it... He knew it was stronger than him. Knew what was coming, and yet was unable to brace himself for the impact. It would have come even without the hand on his eager, aching cock – but now it was speeding toward him faster than he'd imagined. Will had never heard himself so loud, could hardly recognize his own throaty moans and breathy little gasps. He was breathing too quickly, too heavily, but it only added to the feeling of euphoria rushing over him like a wave.

The priest arched his back, the pressure mounting at a staggering pace until he could do nothing but succumb. His toes curled; his body tensed and stilled – Will's nails dug harshly into Hannibal's shoulders and he started to come, muscles quivering as he was held submerged under the heavy tide of his orgasm. He was racked by convulsions, muscles contracting, tightening around Hannibal's cock as he continued to thrust inside of Will's climax-ridden body. Hannibal's hands gripped his hips, thrusting up into him until Will was sobbing his name and spilling, hot, thick ropes of his release striping Hannibal's belly and chest. It seemed endless; come spattering in his chest hair, spurt after spurt shooting with every jerk of Will's cock, but Hannibal didn't stop. The priest whimpered through every spasmodic clench of his hole – Hannibal only pulled him down harder, driving into him until his orgasm slowly ebbed and faded.

Only when Will breathed out a shaky sigh did Hannibal cease his movements. His body still trembled and Will gasped for breath, eyes closed as if afraid of what he'd done, what he'd experienced. He opened them to see Hannibal staring back at him, and it wiped all doubt from his mind. Will felt weak, drained and pliant with a heavy, bone-deep exhaustion... But Hannibal was still so hard inside of him, and he knew he hadn't come. Not yet. The priest brought him in close, held him tucked into the skin of his neck and rode him steadily, furtive little jumps of his hips, rocking and raising himself up; lowering to seat Hannibal snugly back inside. Will wanted to make him come, wanted to see it, watch with rapture as he surrendered himself to the pull. He wanted to feel Hannibal sliding in deep, twitching inside of him, spending himself until he'd emptied and sucking kisses hard against his throat. Will wanted Hannibal to consume every part of him, to defile him, inside and out.

No matter what Hannibal expected from Will, the priest always managed to surprise him. Will was visibly exhausted now, still recovering from a intense orgasm, certainly oversensitive, and still he didn’t stop, didn’t pull away, didn’t ask Hannibal to slow down. Hannibal wrapped his arms around the priest and buried his face in his neck, breathing him in. The smell of sex, sweat, blood, semen and Will was almost enough to push him over the edge. Hannibal groaned into Will’s neck as the priest moved his hips, he could feel Will’s pulse in every point of contact, could hear his heartbeat and shaky breaths. Hannibal could feel him so completely he could barely breathe.

He wanted to tell Will how beautiful and perfect he was, how much he loved him, but all he could do was whisper Will’s name reverently over and over between moans. Will’s heart was beating fast, his body even warmer than before, and Hannibal couldn’t resist. He let his sharp fangs make two small holes on the skin of Will’s shoulder before he retracted them again. The little wounds were superficial and would heal almost immediately, but it would be enough. Hannibal licked and sucked on them, closing his eyes and groaning, gripping Will’s hips again to thrust up into him.

He was so close now that he couldn’t think, couldn’t focus on not holding Will too tightly, not pressing his fingers into Will’s skin too hard, not hurting him. He sucked hard on Will’s shoulder, knowing he was going to leave another bruise. The idea aroused him. Will grabbed his hair and pulled, moaning again, and that was all Hannibal needed. His thrusts became erratic and every single one of them made him groan loudly, until he buried himself deep inside Will’s body one last time and held the priest down against him. Will clenched around him again and Hannibal came in hot spurts, his cock pulsing inside him until he was spent.

It took Hannibal a few moments to move again, and Will waited patiently, breathing heavily against Hannibal’s shoulder, fingers threading through his hair. Hannibal stopped sucking Will’s blood and licked the tiny wounds carefully. He caressed Will’s hips gently as he looked into Will’s eyes, his own still red after tasting the priest’s blood. There was so much Hannibal wanted to say, but he found himself speechless as Will stared back at him. The words got stuck in his throat as his feelings for Will almost overwhelmed him. His heart raced but it wasn’t because of the orgasm, he knew. It was because of Will’s presence, Will’s devotion, Will’s decision to stay.

Before he could say anything, Will smiled softly, leaning in to kiss him. He wrapped his arms around Hannibal’s neck, melting into the kiss, and Hannibal pulled him closer, making them both gasp as Will clenched around his softening cock.

“Could you lie back?” Will murmured against Hannibal’s lips, letting Hannibal’s cock slip out of him with a huff as he moved from his lap. Keeping his eyes fixed on Will, Hannibal did as he’d asked, his lips curling into a smirk.

Will leaned in to lick his come from Hannibal’s belly experimentally, catching just a little bit of it on his tongue and allowing himself to taste it. He had only tasted himself indirectly, by kissing Hannibal after Hannibal had made him come in his mouth. This time it was different, better. The look on Hannibal’s face encouraged him, and Will licked a little bit more, moving up to kiss Hannibal again before he could swallow it. Hannibal immediately took control of the kiss, moaning and sucking Will’s tongue, hungry for more.

Will only broke the kiss so he could finish licking Hannibal clean, swallowing it all. He was curious to taste Hannibal like this, imagined doing it in the morning before he went back to the church. Hannibal pulled him up for another kiss, fingers burying in his hair.

As Will broke the kiss, Hannibal grabbed his wrist and brought it close to his mouth, pressing a soft kiss to his palm. He lowered Will’s hand then and pressed it against his chest so Will could feel his heart beating, because maybe then Will would understand, maybe then Will would empathize with him and feel it too. He lifted his free hand to caress Will’s cheek and smiled, never breaking eye contact, their faces only a few inches away from each other.

There was fondness reflected in Will's returning gaze. His perception scaled down to what he was feeling, his own heart pounding against his ribs. It beat faster in response to the rhythm that drummed beneath his palm. The priest shut his eyes, overcome with a profound sense of love more tangible than any he's felt before. He wanted to ask – he had the words, the loaded question on the tip of his tongue. Somehow, Will already knew the answer, but the desire to hear it clawed at him. If it came from Hannibal's mouth, maybe it wouldn't frighten him so much... Or perhaps it would be all the more terrifying.

Will waited a beat, and then his eyelids fluttered open. "Do you—" he began, voice small and hesitant. His mouth felt dry. "Do you mind if I get cleaned up?"

Hannibal didn't look disappointed. He had expected more of a backlash in the aftermath, pleased by Will's simple request.

"Of course not. Please, feel free to shower—it's there for your use."

Thoughtful, Hannibal reclined as Will rose from his bed, his body a testament to his own devastating nature. Painted with drying blood, love bites and bruises, dark marks from a vampire's mouth marring the skin of Will's neck, throat and shoulders, and the inevitable mess of sex. His body was a blessed, desecrated thing. Hannibal watched as Will disappeared into the en suite bathroom – he'd ready some fresh towels and a plush robe for him. He wanted Will to be as comfortable as possible.

Will ignored his reflection with determination, instead beginning the arduous task of cleaning himself of blood and various other fluids, some his own and some not.

Once finished he dried off and wrapped himself in the warm cotton of the robe, returning shortly to the very same bed he'd seen in his dreams.

When Will left the shower, Hannibal was lying there, waiting for him. He had entered the bathroom while Will was in the shower to clean himself up as well, quickly washing off the dry blood from his chin and neck, and had also changed the bedsheets. Now, he welcomed Will into his arms, sighing as Will leaned in to kiss his lips softly again.

Hannibal stripped him of his robe, wanting to feel Will's warm human skin against his own again, and Will let him, sliding under the covers and into Hannibal's arms. Hannibal kissed him again before Will turned and pressed his back to Hannibal's chest. Hannibal hugged him tightly.

“How are you feeling, Will?” Hannibal asked, pressing his nose against the back of Will's neck and closing his eyes as he breathed him in.

Will was almost afraid of the answer. It wasn't how he thought he'd feel.

The words fell from his lips in a shaken whisper: "I don't think I've ever felt more wanted." A bit of a problem, Will thought to himself, still somewhat dazed or perhaps drowsy with sleep and strain. "I have... a lot of questions."

"I have answers," Hannibal purred, lazy and unwilling to separate himself from Will. "But you've stretched yourself far enough for one night. Don't want to wear your acceptance too thin."

Will didn't answer, but Hannibal was happy just to hold him and watch him fall asleep, listening to his heartbeat. Hannibal kissed the back of his neck softly and closed his eyes, relaxing against Will's body as he felt the priest breathing calmly.