A Bitter Taste (01)

A Bitter Taste

Hannibal Vampire AU featuring Will Graham as an (metaphorical) otter pup, so fluff bounce/Otter, sleek, distinguished.TM (on the Intensity of Dancy Photo Shoots Scale) vampire and Hannibal as his intended victim until shit goes seriously sideways. No warnings yet. THERE WILL BE PORN because I’m me.

It got so boring after awhile, living forever. He hadn’t bargained on that when he’d made the deal he’d made so long ago—save them all, take me instead.

Save them all,’ Will thought, seeing them in his mind’s eye, ghostly shadows of a life lived so long ago it was like an illusion. His weeping mother, his sister trembling in her nightgown, her eyes round and wide as a doe’s. “What else should I have done?”

“Pardon?” The woman next to him said, a pleasant smile etched on her face in stitches and tucks, tightened with silicon until she was a grotesque doll of good cheer. Will wondered what she looked like when she cried, how that fixed smile would break into brittle edges, or maybe not at all. There was a strange poetry in the idea of her still smiling, even as she faced death.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” he murmured, turning his head away. He tried not to be too taciturn but it wasn’t in his nature to be polite. Still, he was hungry, getting hungrier and he’d come here to eat, after all. That these socialites and snobs were relentlessly entertaining in their gross capacity for preening was just the proverbial cherry on top.

That was what brought him to this gala event, after all, newly returned from the south with a lean belly and lean funds. Always returning to the place of his birth…his second birth, rather. Here to rub elbows with those who had too much, to take what they had, all of it, and try once more to fill the ever-widening chasm where his soul had been.

“You seem familiar, young man, have we met before?” She asked, pressing more than just her question on him. He smiled at her, turning on a charm that looked effortless but was actually just a mask at this point. Once upon a time he’d been a young man, master of stately house, invited to every fashionable event so that hopeful mamas could parade their plain-faced daughters before him. It wasn’t too terribly difficult to pretend that he was that young man again, to put that mask on and hide his impatience and the boredom that plagued him, if only for the chance to make his kill.

“I think I would remember a woman as beautiful and…mature as you,” he said, seeing himself reflected in her dark eyes, watching them widen just slightly at the hint of suggestion in his voice.

“Certainly you would, you lovely boy,” she purred, smiling in a way that woke tiny wrinkles around her mouth that even Botox couldn’t stave off forever. “But I’m certain of it. Oh, I know! It was at one of Doctor Lecter’s dinner parties, wasn’t it?”

“Doctor Lecter?” Will echoed, shaking his head a little, thrown by the name. The last time he’d come to Baltimore there had been no such person, and the elitists were just that—elite. The idea that they’d welcomed someone new into their midsts was…well…interesting.

He snagged a flute of champagne from the tray of a passing waiter and took a sip, eyes searching the crowd for something to amuse him.

“…simply divine,” she was saying, her voice rising and falling in the cadence of the self-important. She was pressed so close to his side that he could feel the push of her bones beneath her papery skin. The arm looped through his was muscle that was turning soft with age, no matter the time spent with personal trainers. “You must meet him. Oh! There he is, now! Doctor Lecter! Doctor Lecter!”

Will looked in the direction she was so enthusiastically gesticulating and saw a man cutting through the crowd with steady, intense grace; a wolf among sheep wearing a Zegna suit perfectly tailored to fit his trim athletic build. He smiled when he reached them, but it didn’t reach his dark brown eyes. Those eyes, Will knew. He saw them in his own reflection—steely and impassive, pitiless and unforgiving.

He was so unexpectedly refreshing in this sea of pampered fleshbags that Will took an unsteady breath, catching the scent of cardamom mixed with others he couldn’t identify but that melded into a medley of fragrance that managed not to be overpowering.

“Mathilda, you look enchanting, as always,” he purred, scooping up her free hand and gracing it with a chaste kiss. His dark eyes cut to Will and a small smile curved the corners of his lips as he lifted his head. “And who have we here?”

“Ah, this handsome young man is new to town,” she simpered, a flush of color staining her cheeks beneath her rouge. “I was certain I’d met him before, perhaps at one of your dinner parties?”

“Alas, no,” Doctor Lecter said, tipping his head in a small show of contrition. “I cannot say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him.”

There was a question hanging at the end of that statement and Will offered, “Will Graham, Doctor Lecter.”

He held out his hand, a graceful way to shake Mathilda off, and Doctor Lecter shook it, his grip strong and firm but not angling to impress.

“Will Graham,” Doctor Lecter repeated, his smile widening to offer just a peek of his sharp teeth. “Fresh blood is always welcome among us, isn’t that right, Mathilda?”

She giggled in a way that probably hadn’t changed since she was sixteen. In all fairness, she probably hadn’t changed since she was sixteen. It was the body that betrayed you, in the end, aging and falling apart around you while you stayed the same inside, wretched and bereft to see yourself fading.

Except for Will Graham, whose wretched aging decayed him from the inside out…


He wet his lips, reining his thoughts back in, and said, “Excuse me, I’m a little…jet-lagged.”

“Well, that is understandable,” Doctor Lecter said, clasping his shoulder with indifferent warmth, a gesture reserved for strangers, a false intimacy. “It so happens I’ll be hosting a party weekend next, should you be interested.”

“Well count me in,” Mathilda tittered, reclaiming her hold on Will’s arm. “If you can convince this darling creature to come, I’ll be eternally yours, Hannibal.”

Doctor Lecter’s smile turned hard then. She, strangely, didn’t seem to notice. But then, people so rarely saw things they didn’t want to see, even when those things were baring their rending fangs to gnaw the life right out of them.

“Well, I suppose that is certainly incentive for me to try,” he said, cocking his head slightly and meeting Will’s gaze directly. It was strange…he couldn’t see himself reflected in those dark, dark eyes. “Will you collude with me, Will, and help me win Mathilda’s eternal regard?”

He smiled. He couldn’t help it, and the surprise of that made his smile genuine. With a faint air of bewildered amusement, he said, “Of course, Doctor Lecter.”

“Hannibal,” he said, the stoic, sculpted planes of his face transforming with a genuine smile of his own. “My friends call me Hannibal, Will.”

Will’s brows rose over his dark eyes, calculated innocence accidentally authentic.

“Are we friends, Hannibal?”

“Not yet,” he said, his lids lowering to half mast, sudden calculation and interest in the dark depths of his eyes. “But we will be.”



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