VIII. Hannibal III
The image was a lonely one. It hurt Hannibal as he stood far off from the house and looked back over his shoulder. He could only imagine what Will might be feeling at the moment. Still, Hannibal did not speak. It was not his place.
“By any accounts,” Will groused, “I am now a wealthy man.”
Hannibal knew he wasn’t talking about their combined finances, all of his personal (and non-hereditary properties) being placed into both of their names within a month of their marriage. Curious, he looked over at his beloved, a man both beautiful in body and in soul and yet so wondrously strange that Hannibal knew he would never fully comprehend him. He saw too much, comprehended much more, and so was a step above man, akin with the angels.
“Not with money,” Will continued, sensing perhaps part of Hannibal’s thoughts. “Not even with the money from selling the house.”
“Will you miss it?” Hannibal inquired, sitting down in the high grasses as they looked back at the farmhouse, lights on in the darkness of the early evening.
Scuffing a log with the toe of his boot, Will answered decidedly, “No.”
There was a natural honesty to the word, but it hid a truth much deeper. All of Will’s emotions were never simple, but complex and falling into various layers of meanings and truths. It was fascinating to watch the ever-changing moods across Will’s eyes if they were sitting before a fire, but they did not have the luxury tonight.
“This was,” Will explained carefully into the twilight, “a place to rest my head. I certainly already feel nostalgia just looking at it here, with you—my ship steadfast against the sea of the world around me.”
“But in this world,” Hannibal carefully questioned, “you were without a paddle, alone in this ocean of the world’s making.”
Will ran a hand over his face, worrying Hannibal slightly because he could see the glistening of sweat at his temples. He appeared to have another low grade fever. The frequency was unusual even with the large amounts of stress he encountered at work. Hopefully the wedding and getting away for a family honeymoon would allow him to rest. Then, perhaps, he’d be able to implant the idea in his mind that he would be happier with a regular schedule so he never missed a single dinner at their home.
Hannibal had no desire to tame Will Graham. Far from it. He did, however, want him safe and at home and away from this looking. In the early days of their relationship, Hannibal allowed himself to imagine Will in his home, in the study he had carefully created for him, lecturing and writing monographs, away from looking at death and monsters like Abigail Hobbs—monsters that resembled, if he dared to think it, Mischa.
Hannibal and looked into the belly of the beast and had come out ruined on the other side.
He did not want that for Will, never for his darling. He wished to hoard his mind and keep him untouched from the monster lingering behind his own gaze. Hannibal kept his hearth and his home away from his baser urges, from his unnatural hunger, from the pit in his stomach that might grow small with each day in physical security, but would never full close itself up.
Will’s voice caught him out of his thoughts. His beloved was now sitting beside him against a tree, his head leaning down onto Hannibal’s shoulder. “Are you my paddle?”
“I wish to be your husband,” Hannibal clarified, voice solemn and sincere, “if that includes paddle duties, then I would gladly fill them.”
At this, Will huffed out a laugh. “And what would my duties be as husband to Dr. Lecter?”
This was, of course, more playful. But Hannibal took it seriously. Reaching out, he clasped one of Will’s hands between his fingers, lifting it up to kiss the back. Starting out in the same tone, he listed, “You must catch monsters under the bed.” He punctuated it by turning Will’s hand over in his grasp and kissing the pulse point revealed to him in the half-light. “I would be pleased if you attended the opera or symphony with me.” Another kiss to the inside of the wrist, just above where Will’s jacket cut off access to his sweet-smelling skin.
“I thought you just liked listening to it in your office?” Will checked.
“It has been many years,” Hannibal agreed, “since I have been able to attend. I am—uncomfortable—leaving Klara for an evening and decided years ago that I would wait until such a time when I was.—And I want to see you in a tuxedo, my darling,” he confessed.
Will, Hannibal could tell, was smiling at him, at the thought. “Not one of your German operas,” he begged.
“Something light and simple for your first,” Hannibal promised. A kiss was now placed on the tip of Will’s thumb, over the papercut that Klara badly bandaged earlier that day with one of her pink plasters.
Hannibal hesitated, knowing he must say it, that it would be unfair to go into their marriage without saying it. Images of Parisian light filtered into his consciousness, and he swallowed at remembered horror. “It was not consensual.” It was badly said, with no preface or context, and Hannibal closed his eyes in shame, attempting to turn away. His fingers slipped from Will’s hand, warmed in fever even in the cold evening.
There wasn’t even the hesitance of a moment before that same hand came up and cradled Hannibal’s face, pulling it back toward Will. He didn’t resist, he would never deny Will anything he desired, but he closed his eyes against the inevitability of seeing disgust in Will’s eyes. The touch, though, was gentle, reassuring, and the kiss Will pressed against his temple was lingering. “Klara’s mother,” Will checked, their foreheads pressing together.
Hannibal didn’t answer but a strange whimper, a cry of pain muffled so long in his breast that it barely escaped him now.
A silence hovered between them and Hannibal, embarrassed, refused to break it.
“What would make you happy, Hannibal?” Will asked. “What would you want of me? What would you never want me to do?” He pressed another kiss against Hannibal’s temple in reassurance. “You think that just because I have not known this pain that I cannot see, my darling?”
The words were frightening, because that was exactly what Hannibal did not want. He did not want Will to see the entire truth, as it would damn Hannibal completely in his eyes. He would lose Will, he knew, and Hannibal doubted he was strong enough to continue on without him.
The two of them remained pressed together until their joints seized up from cold and Will offered Hannibal a hand up. They stood, looking back at the house in Wolf Trap, over the fields. Despite the lights on inside, it was empty. They had come to do one final check and to leave off the keys as the new owners were arriving shortly after midnight. Will had left his keys on the kitchen counter as it was more direct than dropping them off at the agent.
Hannibal had insisted on leaving a rather nice bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge as the new owners were a young couple, recently married, and this would be their first home. Will had been rather eager the house go to them, that the house know love and family as he had never felt either while living there. “The house deserves better,” he explained one day when they were discussing the subject.
Hand-in-hand they walked back to the car, Will taking one last look at the house before getting into the passenger seat.
However, Hannibal didn’t start up the car immediately and realized that with the loss of Will’s old life, so too should come the loss of fears. Taking a deep breath, he looked directly ahead and admitted, “She would force me to pleasure her—to give her what she wanted—exactly as she wanted it—and she’d laugh at me after forcing,” (he swallowed) “me to find my release.”
Will blinked twice, quickly, clearly not expecting the reopening of the subject. “She was—blackmailing you, somehow, then,” he clearly guessed, not that he would understand the exact nature without knowing the circumstances.
“It lasted for years,” Hannibal continued. “I never had other lovers. The thought of it being—mutual or beautiful or pleasurable—was incongruous with what I experienced.”
Silence fell over them for a few agonizing moments, but Hannibal forced himself to remain calm.
Then, calmly, Will turned to him and reached out. Hannibal allowed himself to be moved so that Will could press his forehead against the side of Hannibal’s face, his hand pushed into Hannibal’s hair. “Then,” Will decided, swallowing, “I shall devote myself to your pleasure and happiness.” He bit his lip and nodded to himself. “Your pleasure, Hannibal.”
Relaxing into Will’s embrace, Hannibal tried to ignore the tears forming in his eyes.
He never thought he could have this, someone to share his life and home with—someone to share his bed with.
“I’ll never penetrate you,” Hannibal murmured into the darkness of their stolen moment. “I have nightmares—” He didn’t say anymore. Such feverish dreams had long since disappeared and now only resurfaced when he received a note inquiring after Klara. However, he hadn’t heard anything for nearly a year now, and hoped that she was happy with her current machinations that she wouldn’t bother with them.
Will took in a deep breath. “That’s a bit of a relief,” he admitted. “I’ve been—uh—studying up on gay sex, and that never much made sense to me.”
“I know, Mylimasis,” Hannibal soothed, only now reaching out and burying his fingers in Will’s curls. “I am fully aware your desire for me is an aberration from your usual heterosexual leanings.”
This brought out another laugh from Will. Pulling back, they looked into each other’s eyes, Will’s so piercing and blue and yet so different from her blue eyes… the color was almost exact, but the emotions and intentions behind Will’s gaze, once caught, were beautiful and earth shattering.
After several long moments of comfortable silence, Will looked back at the house, over the fields of frost, lit up in the darkness. “Let’s blow this joint before the new owners get here and wonder why they can’t just get drunk at our expense instead of being polite to us…”. There was a tease in his voice, but a real desire undercutting it.
Hannibal tilted his head and smiled at him softly. “Well. We might have some champagne at home.”
Will scoffed. “This sort of celebration deserves an expensive single-malt that I can now afford.”
Turning on the ignition, Hannibal turned in his seat to back out of the long drive. “Perhaps I might have something,” he mused. He might have been saving it for the night before the wedding, but Hannibal had his eye on several potential whiskeys and scotches to tempt Will’s palette with.
He was, after all, nothing if not a hedonist in his simplest of pleasures.
As they drove away, neither looked back at the house among the fields, knowing that that stage in Will’s life was well and truly finished and their joint future lay ahead of them.