A little thought about how Will went from being bridal carried away from the Verger Massacre to waking up clean, dressed and snuggled into his own bed. Purely my own supposition, and sorry if this has been done before. Hannibal is a tough fandom, y’all.
“Sh,” Hannibal had said, and the panic in Will’s eyes had seared him as he put needle to vein and forced unwelcome sleep on the weak and half-mad man.
“Sh,” he’d said, granting Will the cover of unconsciousness while he did what he planned to do.
“You won’t get away with this, you know,” Cordell had said, smug and smiling, his bulk strapped to the bed that Hannibal had freed Will from, where he’d caught him, trembling like a newborn pup, when his muscles had refused to obey his sharp and frightened mind.
Hannibal had merely smiled, cupping Will’s limp body to his chest when he slumped, the syringe kept carefully pointed away.
“Sh,” he’d said, and tucked Will gently into a dead man’s coat to keep him from the chill of the room, safely cocooned from his fears as Hannibal took his time in removing the face of the man who had dared to lay hands on him.
They hadn’t wanted him to take Will, Alana and Margot. Their greed had worked in his favor. He gave them what they wanted—their future in a vial of viscous sperm—and they gave him what he wanted.
“Sh,” he’d soothed, Will’s surprisingly heavy body cradled in his arms, head hanging and eyes closed, full lips parted as if waiting the time to speak some tender secret only Hannibal could know. Through the snow and to the treeline, bodies falling like stars behind him, but all he’d felt was the warmth of the man’s dead weight against him and the sinful pleasure of bearing him away from the mouth of danger instead of towards it.
He’d wanted him asleep, his Will, not for nefarious purpose but to spare him whatever discomfort he could. Hadn’t he always? Moved every chess piece across a board only he could see, this pawn sacrificed, his Queen exposed, plotting and planning and perfecting the art of bringing Will Graham so close that he could never break free again.
‘We’re conjoined. I’m curious whether either of us can survive separation,’ Will had said, so earnest and tired and terribly wounded before him, vulnerable but unafraid in those quiet moments before he’d dropped a blade into his hand and Chiyo had dropped a bullet into his shoulder. His unpredictable and dangerous Will, thoughtless courage, sharp wits, and righteous anger defined by the tremulous smile admitting their connection.
He’d wanted that connection to be wanted, to be needed, to be as necessary and acceptable to Will as it was to him, and so he’d said, “Sh,” and pushed him into unnatural sleep to forestall their private reckoning for more intimate circumstances.
Home. He’d known that Will would want to be there, the old and drafty farmhouse filled with the ghosts of dogs and Will’s own former self when he’d been lonely but content, trying to live the best life he could before Jack Crawford had come and flung him into Hannibal’s grasping hands.
Home, and so that was where Hannibal took him, riding in the back of a Verger sedan with Will’s limp body held fast against him, every heartbeat counted and cherished, every soft breath a whisper he hoarded. He’d hoped, oh yes. Hoped so terribly and truly that Will would finally look at him with those ever-shifting blue eyes and decide that now was the time, that there was too little left of the tattered remnants of his life to go back to, that Hannibal and all he offered were the only things he needed to survive.
“Sh,” he’d said, but, “love me,” became the meaning, bitter and dark like true chocolate, a demanding and voracious appetite for his presence that had grown up all unawares, confused at first for analytical interest until the truth had forced itself upon him in the same ways he had forced those needles into Will’s unresisting veins. Love me, love me, love me, as no one ever has and no one ever could in your place.
The house was dark and silent, an empty husk deprived of Will’s presence. Chiyo opened the door for him but she did not offer to help him carry Will. It was not a burden he wished to share with her and an honor he was reluctant to give up.
Through the darkness, floorboards creaking, empty dog beds with phantom eyes staring up from their depths, scenting his trembling hope like blood on the wind. The harsh fluorescent lights of the bathroom made Will twitch, stirring slightly when Hannibal eased him down onto the closed lid of the stool, propping him carefully and stroking his hair, sighing, “Sh…”
The water heater groaned at the abuse of being forced to work, reluctantly spewing water in stuttering spurts that slapped onto the worn porcelain tub with sharp anger. It caught, held, the temperature warming enough that he pushed the cracking rubber stopper into the drain to let the tub fill.
“Hannibal…” Will said, bleary-eyed and confused, rousing only enough that Hannibal’s touch on his curly hair stilled him. He sighed, a huge exhale of warm breath that reached Hannibal’s taut mouth, his black lashes fluttering down as he settled. He was bloody, badly and incompletely patched by Cordell’s inelegant ministrations. Hannibal flicked the paper tape holding the bandage to his head and ripped it off in something that might have been temper had he ever had one. He flung it into the garbage, lip curled in disgust, and peeled Will out of that dead man’s coat.
“Sh,” he breathed, kneeling on the cracked tile in supplication that could only ever happen in a moment such as this—Will mindless and unaware of it, sleeping through the homage he wouldn’t count his due. He tipped Will to him as the roar of the faucet crowded his ears. He held him there, head lolling against his shoulder, blind to the belt and fastenings his long fingers sought to undo. Will nuzzled blindly into him, the brush of his lashes prickling the skin of Hannibal’s neck, his breath stirring the fine hairs at the base of his throat. He smoothed Will’s lax back once, twice, just to feel the soft rise and fall of flesh as he breathed. He was alive against all odds—indeed, against Hannibal’s own misguided attempt to sever their connection. Time and again, fate and circumstance conspired to bring Will, breathing and wounded and remarkably feisty, back into his hands as if hoping some day he might get it right.
He eased Will back, holding his head gently to keep him from hitting it, and deftly stripped the shoes and socks from Will’s long, pale feet before working his pants and shorts beneath his round bottom to remove them.
It paused him, the sight of Will naked before him, not for the beauty he saw, which was real and enticingly touchable, cherished for its flaws and hungered for in its simplicity; it was the vulnerability that caused Hannibal to freeze there, one hand on Will’s bare knee, his dark eyes wide and pained as all the harm he’d ever caused this man came back to haunt him. Will lay there like a forgotten doll, defenseless and helpless, bearing the scars of Hannibal’s own design on his pale flesh, and Hannibal felt something awful and unknown clawing at his gut.
“Sh,” he said to calm it, touching his chest where it burned the most, amazed and shocked and suddenly quite afraid.
Will murmured something in his sleep and subsided, pressing into the palm Hannibal lay against his stubble-ridden cheek.
“Sh,” he said, but he wanted to say, “I’m sorry.”
“Hush,” he told him, but he meant, “I will protect you.”
Love me, love me, love me as I have been unable to love you and perhaps, when we meet in the middle, the changes we have wrought in one another will lock us together into one soul.
He shed his own jacket, rolled up the sleeves of a shirt not his own, and gently hefted Will into the bathtub, water sloshing over the rim. It was an apology of its own, this careful and delicate act, washing away the blood, sweat and tears that had lain too long on him. It was the only kindness he could show him now, in the drawing hours of their time together, when decisions would have to be made on both their parts that would define their future together. He paid tribute to every scar, every mark on his skin, every wrinkle and rise of his body, wishing that he could wash away Will’s life without him along with the sudsy water as it drained from the tub.
“Hannibal?” Will said again, more alert this time, his blue eyes focusing sharply, shortly, before the fog reclaimed him.
“I’m here, Will,” he said, lifting him out of the tub, armful that he was, into the embrace of a thin, pitiful excuse of a towel. How poorly he had lived, his Will. So poorly, in fact, that he could not understand Hannibal’s excess. “Hush, now. I’m here.”
“…Winston?” Will said, though in what context Hannibal did not know. He merely held him, standing alongside the empty tub, Will’s feet still dangling and dripping water. He carried him to Will’s bed and rubbed his boneless limbs dry as well as he could with a second towel. He eased Will to slump over one arm and used the other to work a third towel through his hair until it lay, damp and curling as he liked, in a feathery mass of darkness around his pale face.
He dressed him, then, enjoying the satisfaction of arming Will’s precious flesh against the creeping cold. Underwear, undershirt, pants, flannel and socks, all taken from his carefully-ordered drawers in an act that felt more intimate and close to Hannibal than that of actually pulling those things around him. He taped his wounds, tended his cuts, and settled him beneath the blankets, carefully padding his head until the soft pillow embraced it.
Those blue eyes flicked restlessly, perhaps seeing him in the unknown landscape of Will’s dreams. It pleased him to be there, embedded in Will’s subconscious as deeply as Will was embedded into the rocky flesh of his heart.
“Sh,” he breathed, bending over him in those still moments before dawn, his own bloody visage and borrowed clothes forgotten. Chiyo had delivered a bag to the door, silent and unobtrusive, filled with his own things for when he finally tended to himself.
But he waited that for now, choosing instead to treasure this moment when Will was there before him, unguarded and open and, thus, entirely protected against harm.
He stroked his hair, memorizing the feel, the texture, the stubborn way the curls refused to bend to any shape but their own, just like Will.
“Sh,” he said when Will shifted in his sleep.
But what he really meant was, “I love you.”