caveat_lector: glance between will and hannibal at ambulance in Sorbet (the look from sorbet)
[personal profile] caveat_lector
Title: Too Great For the Eye of Man
Fandom: Hannibal (TV)
Pairing: Hannibal/Will
Rating: Explicit
Length: 7000
Content notes: Mild informal D/s dynamic, established relationship, blood, implied cannibalism and references to domestic violence
Author notes: Title borrowed from William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). Written for the prompt 'Wolf' at [community profile] fan_flashworks here. I went with 'wolf in sheep's clothing'. Also for my kink_bingo squares 'vanilla kink' and 'danger'. Immense thanks to victorine for the beta and invaluable feedback.
Summary: Will and Hannibal are on the run, and head off to spend a summer in the UK to put any pursuers off the scent. Of course, where Hannibal is concerned, it's never that simple.

Now archived on Ao3 here.

Will took one look at the right-hand drive rental car and tossed Hannibal the keys.

"Hope you remember how to do this," he said.

Hannibal ran his hand over the side of the car, radiating approval. "For her, I will try very hard."

Will loosened his shirt collar and slid into the passenger seat. It had been a long flight, and Hannibal had been on edge for days beforehand. No matter how careful the planning, there were always things that could go wrong. He was amazed Hannibal had trusted him with the travel arrangements; that was a first.

"Avoid the motorways and main roads, too many cameras. Take the scenic route." Will handed his phone over to Hannibal. "It's all in there."

Hannibal thumbed through a few screens and frowned. "It's going to take a long time."

"But even if they manage to track the flight to this airfield, we'll be a couple of hundred miles away from here by then." Will leaned against the car door and watched Hannibal stroke his fingertips lightly over the polished wood interior. Yes, he'd made a good choice. He closed his eyes. "Wake me when, you know." He waved a hand airily before settling it across his chest.

"When it's your turn to drive?" Hannibal sounded surprised.

"God, no. That's not happening." Will let his lips curl in a lazy smile and stretched his legs out. He could feel Hannibal's eyes on him. "I'm talking about when you're rock hard and the car can't blow you."

Hannibal was silent for a moment. Will could picture the look on his face.

"That may not take very long."

Will pressed his face against the cool surface of the window. "I'm counting on it."

Hannibal woke him maybe an hour later, by Will's estimation, though he didn't care enough to check. He just watched Hannibal's chin tilt up when Will reached over to pull down his zipper, watched him swallow twice, hard, when Will slowly stroked a hand down the hot, thick length of his cock.

He leaned over and followed it up with his mouth. Just his lips over the head at first, testing, then pressing a little harder, pulling off with a twist. He let his tongue tease against the underside, loving the way Hannibal's cock bobbed against his lips with each movement, sharp breaths coming from above his head. The familiar taste and scent of him filled Will's senses, arousal shifting the world into slow motion.

This was his favourite part: the anticipation. Not just his own, heat curling low in his belly, but Hannibal's too. At its best, when they had hours to spend touching and kissing, it rolled over him like warm honey, slow and languid with a promise of sweetness.

They didn't have hours.

They had the cold metal of Hannibal's zipper bumping up against Will's lips as he took him deeper. They had the sudden roar of noise and the stilling press of Hannibal's hand as lonely cars passed them on the road. They had the twists and turns of narrow country lanes, the whipping of unruly hedgerows against the window, the flashes of sunlight between the trees.

It was easy to get Hannibal off quickly if he could choose his angle. All he needed to do was lift his face with an oh so slightly exaggerated air of submission and Hannibal would grip his head, eyes darkening, and feed Will as much of his cock as he could take.

That wasn't going to happen here.

He focused inwards instead. If he could think of what he wanted to express, maybe he'd be able to communicate it. He let the thoughts tumble and flow, sinking into his projection.

This cock is all I want in my mouth. I exist only as a place for it to be pleasured in whatever way it needs. I will go happily without food or drink, just for the sake of spending those extra valuable minutes with my lips stretched around it.

Hannibal's breath hitched and his fingers tangled tightly in Will's hair. It was working, he was feeling it. Hannibal was close.

He wasn't the only one. Will had been thinking about doing this for days, restless in their bed while Hannibal paced and made terse phone calls late into the night. He'd missed it, missed Hannibal. Teasing his lips against the tip, he closed his eyes. He nuzzled, licked and kissed his way down to the base, leaving no square millimetre of skin untouched, not a one unloved.

Hannibal moaned softly, and Will smiled. He sucked him all the way down, hollowing his cheeks with the effort every time Hannibal tried to thrust with his hips. The third time, he swallowed hard and Hannibal came, gasping out his name.

Will licked his lips and settled back in his seat. Beads of sweat gleamed on Hannibal's temples, and his breath was still coming short and fast.

"Wake me when it's time for dinner," he yawned, and was asleep again in moments.

Dinner was uneventful, a mediocre meal in a quiet village pub. The only highlight was the landlady's dog, an apparently unassuming spaniel with ninja-like stealth and a criminal bent that would put Mafia dons to shame.

"You're lucky I like dogs," Will told him, watching his chicken leg disappear whole down Bobbin's neck, bones and all.

The landlady shook her head and brought him some cold meats on the house. "You're lucky he's already eaten tonight, or he'd have had your potatoes too."

Will was still chuckling when they returned to the car. He fastened the seat belt and thought maybe he could sleep another hour or two yet. Even without half his main course he was still pleasantly full.

"Wake me when--" he started, but Hannibal leaned over and stopped him with a finger against his lips.

"No," he said, and dragged his finger over Will's chin, then slowly down his neck and chest.

Will's breath caught in his throat when Hannibal reached his crotch and squeezed. He was hard almost immediately, his body remembering that it hadn't come yet today. He looked up and met Hannibal's eyes, almost black in the remaining daylight; he couldn't look away if he wanted to, not when he was like this.

"Keep yourself hard," Hannibal said, in a tone that said he was not going to be argued with. "Don't come."

Will slipped his hand into his jeans and rubbed. Christ, he could probably come now, if Hannibal kept up that voice. He should just tell Hannibal he didn't want to do this. Yeah, that would go down well.

He was also pretty sure he'd be lying. "For how long?" he said instead.

"Oh, Will." Hannibal gave him a sideways look as he started up the car. "For as long as I want, of course."

Hannibal didn't make him wait too long.

Will watched Hannibal's nostrils twitch on and off for almost an hour through a haze of lust; the scent of arousal in the enclosed space of the car must have been as much torment for him as the whole thing was for Will, given Hannibal's keen sense of smell.

"Hands on the hood," Hannibal said, bundling Will out of the car and already reaching for his zipper. It was barely dark, still warm and muggy, but the air felt good on his over-stimulated skin as soon as his underwear was down.

Will did as he was told, but jerked back as soon as his hands hit hot metal. "Jesus, that burned. This isn't going to work." He looked around, squinting in the poor light. "Are we in a cabbage field?"

Hannibal pushed him back down, ignoring the question. "It's what I want you to do, Will." His voice was calm on the surface, but Will knew he was hanging onto control by his fingertips.

The last time Hannibal sounded like that, Will couldn't sit down comfortably for days. He held up his hands and straightened slowly, making sure Hannibal knew he wasn't going to really fight him over this.

"Will." A warning.

"Just let me--" Will pulled at his shirt until the buttons popped open, and wrestled it off his arms. He stretched up as high as he could and spread himself across the overheated car hood; hands, arms, chest, and thighs. Everything. He squirmed until as much of him as possible was touching the hot surface; he could already feel his skin reddening at the contact. "There."

Hannibal was silent behind him, but Will could feel his eyes on him.

Then the heat intensified, as the weight of Hannibal's body covered his. He thought he might have whimpered, but Hannibal gave him two quick twists of slick fingers before he pushed his way in, opening him up, and Will devolved straight into obscenities at the matching burn inside him.

"Fuck, Hannibal," he gasped, over and over. "Fuck, fucking-- ahh, fuck--"

"You have a filthy mouth, Will," Hannibal said, one large hand pressing down on his back as he jabbed in and out of him, hard and fast. "I can only assume I am going too easy on you, if you can still speak."

He snapped his hips hard once, twice, and Will felt himself slide up the hood an inch or two each time, tender skin dragging on the metal, his cock pressing down on it too now. Its enthusiasm wasn't dimmed by the discomfort, which probably said a lot about Will's sex life these days.

The third time, Hannibal said, "You may come," and Will did, helplessly, streaking the car hood and himself in sticky stripes. Hannibal gripped his hips hard and followed him over the edge, breathing ragged and damp against Will's neck.

"Well, that was a thing," Will said, his voice hoarse. He wasn't sure which part of himself to try peeling away from the car first. "Clean up's going to be a bitch."

"I fear your shirt may be ruined," Hannibal said, with some regret. "It's under my feet somewhere."

"The buttons are certainly a lost cause." Will laughed, and felt Hannibal rest his cheek against his back. He relaxed into the touch and was rewarded with kisses along his spine before Hannibal helped him up.

"Your need to always raise the stakes intoxicates me," Hannibal said, when Will turned and leaned against the hood. He looked more relaxed than he had in weeks.

"Mostly it just makes me sore." Will touched the reddened skin around his nipple ruefully. He wasn't looking forward to checking out the rest of himself later, but he suspected Hannibal would be more than willing to play doctor. He grimaced when his cock gave a feeble twitch at that. "Also relieved that nobody invites me to their poker nights."

Hannibal nuzzled into his throat, licked a line up to his ear. Will always thought how like a dog he was when he was in this mood, but he kept that to himself. Somehow he didn't think Hannibal would appreciate the comparison.

"I wouldn't play poker against you either," Hannibal murmured when he reached his goal.

Will laughed outright at that. "Yes, you would."

"Not when there are many more fun games we have yet to play."

Will rubbed his fingers through the damp hair at the base of Hannibal's skull. "I'm going to hold you to that," he said softly, and let their foreheads fall together.

They arrived at the cottage in the early hours, bleary-eyed and in Will's case, uncomfortably stuck to his clothes.

"No, no," he protested when Hannibal pulled him into the shower. "Need sleep, Hannibal. Sleeeep."

"Someone went to the trouble of putting fresh sheets on the bed," Hannibal told him, lathering shampoo into Will's hair and ducking him under the spray. "I should like to enjoy them without the smell of the road on both of us."

"Not the road I st-stink of." He meant it to sound more suggestive than it did, but stuttering out a yawn halfway through rather spoiled the effect.

"Bed." Hannibal thrust a towel at him and kicked him out of the bathroom. "And dry your hair."

Will woke in the night still wrapped in the towel, damp hair drying into stiff tendrils over his eyes. Hannibal hadn't bothered to unpack anything, it seemed, just stumbled naked into bed with his head on Will's chest and pulled the covers over them.

Hannibal's face was as unguarded as Will had ever seen it, and Will fell asleep again memorising the lines of it with his fingers.

Next time he opened his eyes, there was a Hannibal-shaped empty space next to him.

"Certainly, Tessa." Hannibal's voice carried clearly through from, Will guessed, the front door. Hannibal wasn't going to let anyone in here yet, not before they'd settled in. He was a creature of habit. "It's very kind of you to invite us."

Will groaned, muffling it in the blankets. Friendly neighbours. They were going to have to spend the next few months with friendly neighbours. Hannibal was going to love it.

"I look forward to it, and I know how thrilled Leo will be." There was an amused lilt in Hannibal's voice if you knew to look for it.

Will thumped his face in the pillows. He was going to kill Hannibal.

He looked up when he heard a noise in the doorway.

"I'm sorry, Will." Hannibal did look at least a little bit apologetic. It would have been more convincing if he wasn't obviously trying so hard not to smile.

Will threw his pillow at him.

"I'm afraid some socialising is going to be necessary."

Will sighed. It wasn't as if he hadn't been prepared for this. "But you're still not going to tell me who it is you're looking for?"

"I want to see if you can spot them on your own." Hannibal sat down on the bed and rubbed his fingers in Will's untidy hair. "It's more fun for both of us that way."

"It's not the type of fun and games I was hoping you meant," Will said. He pushed the bedclothes down, feeling somewhere between sulky and wanton. Or maybe smack in the middle of both.

"It's important though." Hannibal stilled his hand, holding it down in his own. "Will you try to be patient with me?"

Oh, fuck Hannibal for being reasonable.

"For you, Hannibal," Will sighed, "I will try very hard."

* * * * * *

Six weeks later

Will rinsed off his face and grabbed a towel from the rail. A stranger looked back at him from the mirror; or perhaps time-traveller was more accurate in this case.

"You look so young." Hannibal was a warm presence behind him, chin resting gently on Will's shoulder.

"Sicko," Will said absently, running his fingers around his jaw to check for any spots the razor had missed. "That's why I grew a beard in the first place."

"And I love it." Hannibal took the towel out of his hands and started to pat him dry. "But this is the bait we need for our hook."

"The distinguished older gentleman and his young trophy husband." Will laughed. "I'm almost embarrassed to play such a hackneyed role."

"It does reflect much better on me than on you," Hannibal said, and there was a twinkle in his eye. "But the man we seek will find much in our portrayal he can identify with. Of this I'm quite sure."

Will considered this. "Our fish has been reluctant to show himself so far."

"Stephen and Laura Henderson's party is the largest social event of the summer. I'm reasonably confident he will show his face this evening."

"So we go all out." Will stroked his too-smooth face and sighed. "It had better be worth it."

"Oh, my," Laura exclaimed as she greeted them at the door. She seemed a bit flustered as she glanced from Will in his jeans and loose shirt to Hannibal, poised and formal next to him in his usual three piece suit. "Leo, don't you look--"

Stephen reached past her to shake Will's hand. "Handsome, Laura. The word is handsome."

"Oh, well of course." Laura seemed to pull herself together as she beckoned them in. "I just didn't realise-- I mean, you looked older with a beard, Leo. That's all."

Will leaned towards her as if he was sharing a secret. "Martin really likes it when I shave," he mock-whispered, with just enough suggestiveness in his voice to make her giggle.

To his surprise, Stephen gave him a conspiratorial grin. "He has something in common with my wife, then," he said.

Will didn't have the chance to wonder what that was all about before Laura tucked her arm through his and pulled him away.

Stephen showed Hannibal into the kitchen. The large sliding doors were open to the garden since it was a warm summer evening. Most of the neighbours he'd already met and a few he hadn't were milling about and chatting.

A couple of older children raced between the bushes, giggling. They weren't being very careful with the roses, but Stephen didn't seem concerned about it. Perhaps he wasn't the gardener in the family.

"We've never really had chance to chat, Martin, have we?"

Hannibal took the glass of wine he was offered, pleasantly surprised to find it was one he might have chosen himself. "I don't suppose we have a great deal in common," he said, taking a sip and savouring it. "This is excellent."

"Oh, I don't know." Stephen looked out into the garden, and Hannibal followed his gaze over to Laura and Will. "No children, a younger partner. An appreciation of a good wine. Friendships have been built on less."

They certainly had.

Outside, Laura laughed loudly at something Will was saying. From his hand gestures Hannibal assumed it was a story about some canine antics, a topic Will could always make entertaining without any great effort. Hannibal could see that most of his attention was in reality on the other guests, looking for a likely suspect.

Will was playing his role to a tee at the same time. His gestures were just a little too flamboyant, his posture too self-consciously poised. This was his husband's social milieu, it said, and Leo felt just a little too rough around the edges, a bit out of place. It was perfect; Laura responded instinctively to reassure, touching him every time she spoke.

"I can see I will have to keep an eye on my Leo," Hannibal said. He kept his tone deliberately light and casual, but made sure there was a hint of possessiveness. Will wasn't the only one who could play his role perfectly. "He and Laura seem to be getting along famously."

"Nothing to worry about there, surely?" Stephen turned, and Hannibal could see a puzzled crease between his eyebrows. "You guys are gay."

Hannibal chuckled. "As a matter of fact, Leo always preferred women until we met." He paused, as if something had just struck him. "I didn't see it before, but Laura reminds me a little of his ex-wife."

There wasn't the slightest bit of truth in that, but it amused Hannibal all the same. He left Stephen in the doorway struggling for a reply; whether it would have been an apology for his assumptions or something else, Hannibal didn't know or care.

Will had admired the pond Laura was building and made small talk about the latest movies with various neighbours they'd chatted to, but he was no closer to spotting the man they were looking for than he had been when they arrived.

"Leo?" Laura was looking at him expectantly, and Will realised he'd allowed himself to be distracted.

"Sorry, Laura." He gave an embarrassed half-laugh. "I-- okay, tell me to butt out if you want, but it's driving me crazy. What did Stephen mean about the shaving?"

Laura flushed pink, but she giggled all the same. "Oh, lord." She pulled him back so they were almost hidden by the garage wall. "I don't know if--" She paused and bit her lip.

"He was the one who brought it up," Will said. He'd only asked because it was the first thing that popped into his head, but he'd be lying if he said he wasn't intrigued now. "He had to know I'd ask."

He could tell when Laura made up her mind. "It's not really a secret. You'll see as soon as the weather is fit for swimming, anyway. Stephen doesn't like body hair. On him, I mean."

Will raised his eyebrows. "Doesn't like, as in--"

She nodded. "As in he removes it all. You know, his chest, his legs too." She flushed again, and Will could imagine what she wasn't saying. "I thought it was weird at first, but now I'm kind of into it."

Huh. That was... interesting. "I get it," he said. "Not the shaving, that's not really my thing, but--"

Laura punched him in the arm when he stopped. "Come on, spill!"

"Ow," Will said, then felt guilty when her face fell. He relented. "For me the weird was having a second penis in the relationship." He grinned at her. "But you know, I think I'm getting the hang of it."

Hannibal made his way to where Will was standing alone, looking sadly after Laura.

"I don't want it to be them."

"I'm sorry, Will." Hannibal put an arm loosely around Will's back, and felt him lean in to it. "What gave it away?"

"Look at her." Will nodded towards Laura. "She's favouring her left side as she walks, and she doesn't have full movement in her right shoulder. Nobody has mentioned an accident or asked how she is, so it's either an old, severe injury, or she didn't tell anyone about it. Last time we saw her, I remember she winced when I touched her wrist."

"Pelvic fracture three years ago," Hannibal said. "Before they moved here. I have her medical records, and I assure you it's just the tip of the iceberg."

"And the rest?"

"Two former wives have disappeared under odd circumstances. There may have been more, as I know of another identity he used while living in France for a while."

"Is that where you came across him?"

Hannibal could see Stephen now, cutting his way towards Laura through the crowd of neighbours and friends.

"Yes. A number of young women were assaulted and killed in that area at the time he lived there, in a remarkably similar fashion to other groups of murders both here and in Cornwall. I've connected him to at least one group, and I've no doubt he was responsible for the rest."

Will nodded. "He shaves," he said, and sighed. "Everything, I think."

"A sensible counter-measure for the activities he indulges in." He ignored the look Will gave him; he knew they had both had the same thought.

"Did he recognise you?"

Hannibal watched Stephen draw Laura aside. He felt Will stiffen against his side, and knew he'd noted Laura's changed body language. She leaned against a wall so she was looking up into Stephen's face, all attention focused on him.

She still flinched when he took hold of her arm, just enough to be seen if you were looking for it. There was no point in having regrets, but Hannibal found himself hoping that the doubts he'd dropped in Stephen's ear weren't going to cause her undue pain.

"He knows what I am." Hannibal said carefully. "I don't think he knows who I am."

"Okay then," Will said, firmly enough to make Hannibal smile. "I think it's time he found out."

Will slid the Hendersons' kitchen door open carefully, then watched Hannibal just walk in to the darkened house without any attempt at stealth whatsoever.

"Laura will sleep for hours with the dose I put in her drink," Hannibal said calmly when Will grabbed his arm. "And we want Stephen's attention, do we not?"

"When we're ready, Hannibal. Not before." He watched, annoyed, as Hannibal shrugged. "Where's the cell phone?"

Hannibal handed over Stephen's phone, which had been easily lifted from him when they took their leave of the party. Will set it down on the counter.

"We want him to come down and find his missing phone, not to hear a disturbance. What if he calls the police?"

"He won't."

Hannibal sounded perfectly sure of himself, and Will had to admit he was probably right. He could still worry about it. This plan was too much his own for him to be certain it was the best way.

"Would you or I phone the police?"

"Not quite the same, Hannibal. We actually are wanted men." He rubbed at his jaw and grimaced. "And you won't be so smug when I rub this stubble all over you."

Even in the moonlight, Will could see the flare of heat in Hannibal's eyes.

"If you haven't noticed already, Will," he said, "I like everything you do."

Will pressed him against the counter and gave him a quick taste of his bristly jaw. Hannibal just laughed at him softly.

"You went to a lot of trouble to track this guy down," Will said. He placed his hand carefully over Hannibal's heart. "Thank you."

Hannibal's eyes might be glistening, he thought, but it was hard to tell in the dim light.

"When you join me in this, Will," he said, "it is like receiving a precious gift. It seems only fitting that the subject should also be a gift, one carefully selected with you in mind."

"All those books written about you," Will said, shaking his head. "They don't even scratch the surface."

Hannibal looked mildly affronted. "I should hope not. The day I am not equal to keeping amateurs like Chilton and Ms. Lounds out of my head, I shall ask you to put a bullet in it."

"Given the situation, I think it's probably time to forgive Freddie for the 'murder husbands' thing." Will twisted at the ring on his left hand. "You know my marriage was annulled, right? Or whatever it is they call it when one party gets to dissolve it."

"Is that a proposal?"

"I don't know." Will sighed. "Sometimes I think it would be good to have something on record, something that says we were us, it was real. That it wasn't all about bloodshed and mayhem."

"But those are my favourite parts," Hannibal said, matter-of-factly, and Will... Will couldn't find the lie in it.

The hand that came up to caress Will's face told a different story, though, so he let it go. Hannibal leaned in for a kiss that went on for much longer than it should. Time was getting on; they needed to be out of here before daylight.

"Take one of the pans." Hannibal pointed at a cabinet stacked with them. "Not the top one, one of the cheaper ones on that side. They are still quite heavy."

Will rolled his eyes, but he did as he was told and stepped back into the darkness. After a moment, the cell phone buzzed and jangled obnoxiously on the counter top.

It didn't take long before a light went on and there were footsteps on the stairs.

"What the hell?" Stephen lumbered into the kitchen, barefoot and shirtless. "Martin?"

"Hello, Stephen." Hannibal smiled pleasantly, as if there was nothing unexpected about him turning up in Stephen's kitchen in the middle of the night. "You might want to look behind you. There's something rather dangerous there."

Behind Stephen, Will was not even close to smiling.

"You?" Stephen sneered, blatantly contemptuous.

"Me," Will agreed, and hit him with the pan.

* * * * * *

Stephen went down easily, to Will's quiet satisfaction.

"Excellent," Hannibal said, bending to check his pulse. "He will be out for a while."

He wasn't bleeding heavily either, which was handy.

"We can't leave anything that might point to Laura." Will unrolled the plastic sheet they'd brought. "Help me with this."

They rolled Stephen onto the sheet and taped up his hands and feet. It was awkward and he was going to be heavy to move, but there was nothing to be done about that. It was far too risky to kill him here. Anything more than a little blood would be difficult to explain away.

Finally, Will stuck a piece of tape across his mouth.

"His laptop should be around somewhere," Hannibal said, putting on a pair of gloves. "Perhaps you could type up a quick confession for him. Mention the Belves killings and the name Duncan Crane. That should be sufficient."

"What are you going to do?" This hadn't been part of the plan, or at least not as far as Will was aware. "We need to get him out of here."

"I have an idea," Hannibal said, and headed for the stairs.

Unlike Stephen's cell phone, the laptop wasn't password protected. Will settled into one of the tall kitchen stools and poked through the browser history. Nothing incriminating. He'd even left his email logged in; he probably had multiple accounts to hide any contact with his victims. The illusion of transparency could be valuable, though Will had never had the patience to bother with it himself.

It might have saved him a lot of trouble in the past if he had, but those days were long gone. He hid nothing from Hannibal, and everything from the rest of the world.

He left the email draft up on the screen when he'd finished; the sooner it was discovered, the better.

He heard the footsteps only a fraction of a second before he realised they were too light to be Hannibal's. He dropped off the stool instantly, all too aware that the laptop screen would light up his face even in this dark corner of the kitchen.

"Stephen?" Laura's voice was shaky and uncertain, and also getting closer. "Are you-- oh god, Stephen, what--"

Will heard her sharp intake of breath and braced for a scream, but it never came.

When he looked around the counter, Laura was collapsed in Hannibal's arms. He had a handkerchief across her mouth and nose, to Will's relief. Hannibal had quick reflexes, and a history of impulsiveness that could sometimes be a problem.

"She'll be fine," Hannibal said, peering down at her. He glanced over at Will, his eyes glittering coldly in the moonlight. "If I intended to snap her neck, I would have done so already."

"Did she see anything?" Will hated that he had to ask.

"Just Stephen. I'll dose her again before we go, and she'll think it was a dream." Hannibal put one arm under her legs and picked her up. "If everything else goes to plan, the police will be far too busy to wonder if it was any more than that."

Will followed them upstairs and watched Hannibal take a syringe case from his pocket.

"You came prepared for everything," he said, and then, "Oh," because he understood. "He's been sedating her."

"I thought it was possible she would have some tolerance, yes."

Will rubbed his eyes, suddenly exhausted. He could see all the ways this could have gone wrong without Hannibal's expertise, and he wasn't sure how he felt about that.

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

Hannibal held up an ornate wooden box. "His trophies, unless I'm very much mistaken." His tone made it clear that was extremely unlikely, and Will saw no reason to doubt him.

"He gave them to his wife."

Hannibal inclined his head. "Not the most original thinker, our friend downstairs."

He put the box down on the dresser, and opened it. Inside there were neat compartments with a variety of rings, bracelets and necklaces. A surprisingly wide variety, in fact.

"I guess they could be normal gifts," Will said, examining them. "But they don't feel like they would be given to the same person."

"I recognise this one." Hannibal held up a ring in one gloved hand. "It belonged to one of the French girls, it's a very valuable piece. The police should have no difficulty identifying it."

"Good," said Will, looking at Laura curled up in her blankets.

Even though he knew it was for the best, he was sorry it was likely to be her last peaceful, easy sleep for a while.

It would have been much more convenient for them to make Stephen's body disappear permanently, but the thought of Laura living with the possibility of his return... well, if anyone could imagine the effect of that on her life, it was Will.

She would have to wait for a few weeks, until Will and Hannibal were on the move again, but she would get her closure. She wouldn't have to wait years for him to be officially declared dead before she could get on with her life, or try to get it annulled in light of his crimes and abandonment.

It was the best they could do for her.

Stephen was conscious when they lifted him out of his car and into the abandoned building that had, according to the faded sign, once housed the local lending library. Will thought the struggling body in his arms should disturb him more than it did. Or at all, really.

Hannibal, of course, was delighted. "It will save us the trouble of bringing him round."

Will set up the flashlights in a rough circle, and pulled a dusty reading table to the centre of the room. Hannibal wasted no time unpacking his surgical tools once Stephen was secured. He cut confidently and without paying the slightest attention to the muffled screams coming from behind the duct tape gag as he selected organs for the cooler.

Will was more freaked out when the sounds stopped. Stephen was still breathing, shallow and noisy behind the tape as blood flowed to the floor.

His eyes fixed on Will's and Will couldn't look away.

He saw Laura falling, and knew he was the one who had pushed her. He saw fear in her eyes as he gripped her throat tightly, twisted her arm until she cried out.

Worse even than the fear and pain, he saw love. He saw it, and felt nothing but contempt. His own or Stephen's, he couldn't say for sure, but they both appalled him equally.

"Will?" Hannibal's hand landed on his shoulder.

He could feel his control starting to fracture under Stephen's burning gaze, and he took a deep breath to steady himself. He focused on the certainty of Hannibal's grip, the sharp, clean scent of his skin over the hot tang of blood.

"This is for Laura," he told the man's dark, scornful eyes, and dragged the blade across his throat.

He would realise later that it had taken some time for Stephen to die.

He was built like an ox, and there had seemed to be no end to the blood pouring out of him, Hannibal would tell him dispassionately, merely reporting the facts. Will could only remember the spray hitting him, then bright flashes of moments like still photographs burned into his memory.

Splashes of scarlet across his arms, too colourful to be real.

Hands taking hold of his gently, pulling them from the still, blood-soaked body.

Hannibal's face close to his but alien and unreachable, limned in silver.

Time shuddered back into motion with Will jammed uncomfortably against a dilapidated book shelf. Hannibal's mouth was nuzzling his cheek, or as much of it as he could reach under the fingers that held Will in place, framing his face.

"Are you licking me?" he asked, and Hannibal leaned back, displaying a bloody and unrepentant grin.

"Welcome back, Will."

"Just so you know, that's creepy and disturbing." He lifted a hand to push Hannibal away, not with any great resolve, but just to register a protest. If you gave Hannibal an inch, he would take a billion light years, and the next thing you knew you were hiding packages that arrived from medical companies, because he had really not been looking for a demonstration when he asked what the hell could be the appeal of sounding.

Hannibal just flicked his tongue at Will's hand instead, managing to lick a stripe up one of his fingers.

"I should like to lick blood from every inch of your naked body," he said, his voice thick and throaty, and Will groaned because god help him, even in his exhausted, sleep-deprived state that went straight to his cock.

So did Hannibal's hand, stripped at last of his latex gloves, closely followed by his mouth.

Will tried not to think of the bloody smears Hannibal's lips would be leaving on him, but it was hard when he could see Hannibal pull back to admire his work every so often. The broken shelves behind him weren't much good for support, so he was reliant on Hannibal's strength to hold him up; as usual, this was apparently limitless. Hannibal's fingers spanned his hips, leaving smudges and imprints, bloodstains blooming like bruises.

There was no holding back when Hannibal did anything, and sucking Will's cock was no exception. It wasn't even that tiny chance, albeit less tiny than most in Hannibal's case, that he could bite, that his teeth were on one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. It was that Hannibal gave pleasure to the worthy like he took it for himself, like he took the lives of the unworthy; ruthlessly, efficiently and with a flair that was all his own.

You just had to hang on for the ride and hope you made it out in one piece.

Hannibal pulled Will's hips forward and swallowed hard around his cock. Will gave in to the inevitable, and came.

They stayed like that when Hannibal released him, even though it must have been uncomfortable on his knees. Will watched his fingers stroke through Hannibal's hair and just breathed.

"She loves him," he said, when their breathing was slow and back in sync. "Loved him."

Hannibal leaned into him, a solid and grounding warmth against his legs. "And you love me."

"Yes." Will let his fingers trail down Hannibal's cheekbone, feel the faint trace of just one of the scars he would always carry. How many, between them?

More than Laura? Possibly. He would never know.

"You're not Laura." Hannibal's voice was gentle, but firm. "And I'm not Stephen."

"Neither of us is either of them," Will sighed. It seemed fairer. "Is that good enough?"

"It's what we have," Hannibal said, and Will wondered whether it was that simple.

"He saw her as weak, he despised that about her." He'd been wrong, but the words still tasted bitter on Will's tongue, tainted with Stephen's scorn and hate. He washed it away with the memory of the blood spray on his face.

"Whereas we are truly partners," Hannibal said. "Equals."

Will thought about how differently this evening could have gone if not for Hannibal's vast experience. But he had played his part each time they did this, made his own design within Hannibal's framework. Filled in the gaps Hannibal had never realised existed until they met.

Perhaps there was enough blood to wash away the rest of their history, to pretend it had always been like this between them. Or perhaps it wasn't possible for Will to be objective about any of it; he'd been the unreliable narrator of his own thoughts and feelings for most of his life.

For better or worse, this was his life.

"Let's go home," Will said, and pulled Hannibal to his feet. "I need about ten showers, and I just don't think licking is going to cut it."

Will didn't want to intrude on Laura the next day, but Hannibal had no such reservations.

"She will need a proper meal inside her," he said, with not a hint of shame, and he set off down the street with a large covered dish and a purposeful stride.

The police were still there, but they both knew how to appear harmless and cooperative. They were too busy cataloguing evidence and burrowing through every cupboard and drawer in the house to pay much attention to neighbours. Doubtless that would change when the body was discovered, but that was all in hand.

Laura was confined to the kitchen, which the police had apparently finished with, and under an obligation not to discuss what was happening. She was slow and sleepy-eyed despite it being late afternoon by then, but nobody seemed to question it.

"Shock," the policewoman keeping her company mouthed at Will over Laura's head, and he nodded solemnly, even though he wasn't supposed to know what the shock could have been.

"I don't know if I can eat," Laura said, but she picked at the dish with a fork with some encouragement, and looked a little better for it. "This is delicious, thank you."

"Plenty for everyone," Hannibal said, as uniformed officers drifted in, attracted by the smell.

They left an hour later with an empty dish and an open invitation to return with more food.

Hannibal's smile could have illuminated New York when they reached their front door, and Will could hardly wait long enough to get him through the front door before he did his best to kiss it off his face.

"You will get us both caught, you, you--" In lieu of a suitable description for the outrage that was Hannibal Lecter, Will kissed him some more.

"We will be thousands of miles away from here before anyone even thinks to investigate us," Hannibal said calmly. "I've been giving some thought as to where we might go, in fact."

Will frowned. "I thought we were going to New Zealand next?"

"Possibly," Hannibal said. "But I thought, if we can find somewhere suitable—" He paused.


"Somewhere a marriage could be performed without too much risk of the names and individuals in question being investigated, and that would be recognised in the U.S. as legitimate."

Hannibal never showed a flicker of nerves, but Will could swear... just for a moment.

"Yeah," he said, and squeezed Hannibal's hand. "Let's do that."

This time Hannibal's smile illuminated only Will, but that, he thought, was more than enough.

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