Anthony Dimmond invited them to dinner a scant few nights after Jack’s unwelcome visit. Will preferred to decline it but by the time he found out about it Hannibal had accepted.
“We move in the same social circles but it seemed inevitably we attended different functions at opposite times,” Hannibal told him, sketching something at his desk that Will leaned over him to view, hitching his hip up against the desk and tipping back to look at it.
Hannibal looked up at him with a smile, pencil in hand.
“Somehow,” he said. “We’ve always managed to miss one another.”
“Well, he sounded plenty excited to have you,” Will scoffed, reaching down to run his fingertips over the paper, careful not to touch the markings themselves.
“And you as well,” Hannibal reminded him. “He seems very interested to have someone there whom he perceives to be closer to him in age than most of the company he keeps.”
“Joke’s on him,” Will murmured, laughing softly. “Why are you so keen to go?”
“The Dimmonds have something which I have been very interested in for a very long time,” Hannibal said, sitting back in his chair to look at Will, his dark eyes retracing the lines he often drew in quiet hours, refreshing his memory of Will’s face as if he held an infinite amount of interesting detail to be found.
“Oh, yeah? What’s that?” Will asked, turning his attention from the piece to meet Hannibal’s steady, amused gaze.
“An Iberian harpsichord,” Hannibal told him, getting a startled, burbling laugh out Will.
“Why am I not surprised?” he asked, feeling another bout of raspy laughter begging to escape. “Ah, Doctor Lecter, you are certainly in a class of your own.”
“I always have been,” Hannibal agreed, grinning. After a long moment, he added, “Will, it hasn’t escaped my notice that you haven’t asked me for my help.”
“Help with what, exactly?” Will softly asked, looking at Hannibal from under the fringe of his lashes.
“I am a psychiatrist, healing broken minds is what I do,” Hannibal reminded him. “Yet you haven’t asked me to help you recover your memories.”
Will smiled slightly, a crooked and uncertain smile accompanied by his eyes rapidly seeking anything else in the room to focus on except for those dark, knowing eyes.
“We’ve been busy,” he said.
“I am aware,” Hannibal stated, the words careful and weighted. “I am also aware that when you begin to remember something, it frightens you into seeking sex as a distraction.”
Will swallowed hard, frowning.
“I have no objections to being a distraction provided you are able to balance the two,” Hannibal said in response to his discomfort. “I will, in fact, distract you as often as necessary or physically possible, so long as you are making progress in recalling what the Ravenstag did to you.”
“I’m…remembering,” Will said, blowing out a frustrated breath. “Piece by piece…like…like a mirror in my head was shattered and I keep finding all these pieces without knowing how they fit together.”
“I can help you fit them together,” Hannibal said, reaching out to rest his warm hand on Will’s knee, fingers smoothing the fine material of his pants. “I can help you fill in the cracks, make your mirror whole again.”
“I’m…ah…” he laughed nervously, rubbing his face with both hands, grateful for the touch on his knee. The warmth was something he could reach for, something real and tangible. “I’m a little scared of what it’s going to reflect…Terrified, actually.”
“You needn’t be terrified,” Hannibal assured him, leaning forward and reaching up to tip Will’s head down, forcing the fidgeting man to meet his gaze. “Stay with me, Will. So long as you stay with me, you need never be frightened of what the mirror of your mind reflects.”
Will’s mouth turned up in an unwilling smile that slowly became a true smile. Strange as it was, he felt instinctively that Hannibal could do exactly what he claimed, and, as the man had said before, Will was attracted to that kind of power. Will was attracted to the promise of relief that power presented, and he had found more relief with Hannibal Lecter in just this short time than he’d found in two hundred years.
“Now,” Hannibal purred, smiling up at him. “Shall we go to dinner?”
It was not the intimate dinner that Will had hoped it would be.
When they arrived, dressed to Hannibal’s strict standards much to Will’s impatience, there was already a small crowd gathered in the parlor of the Dimmond house and it was growing by the moment.
“This place is an orgy of excess,” Will muttered, scowling at his rich surroundings as if mortally offended. Hannibal looked pleased, damn him. Always so pleased to be among his own crowd, a peacock among a murder of crows. “Do you ever pick from them? Your crème de la crème?”
“It has been very tempting at times,” Hannibal murmured, exchanging a nod of greeting with someone across the room. “But no, I can’t recall I ever have. They are mostly saved by their good manners. Not all humans are born to circumstances that protect them quite so well as the rich.”
Will chuckled at that, telling him, “They’re tiresome. I can’t believe you can bear the boredom.”
“I find ways to amuse myself,” Hannibal said, grinning. “Dinner parties are certainly one of my favorite ways.”
Anthony cut across the room with a bright smile on his face and two glasses of wine in hand, calling ahead, “I was worried you wouldn’t come!”
“Oh, Hannibal wouldn’t miss something like this for love or money,” Will said, taking one glass while Hannibal took the other. With a wry smirk he added, “Believe me, I tried.”
“You certainly did,” Hannibal said, cutting a glance his way. “Your home is very lovely, Mr. Dimmond. I admit to being envious of your collection.”
“You mean my father’s collection?” Anthony corrected, grinning. “He’s found some way to make it a tax write-off. I wouldn’t dare call him a collector, more of a strategist.”
“I assume from the quality we’ve seen that your father has more delicate and valuable pieces stored separately?” Hannibal asked, all innocent inquiry.
“Are you angling for the harpsichord?” Anthony quipped, laughing at Hannibal’s wry smile at being caught out. “It’s tucked away in a room even more pretentious than my dinner list, present company excluded. Would you like to see it after dinner? I wouldn’t mind showing it off. It gets precious little admiration here.”
“Does your father not have any interest in it?” Will asked, finding it rather odd to have something apparently so valuable without having some deeper attraction to it.
With a conspiratorial, mischievous smile, Anthony leaned closer and said, “Between us, I’m certain he bought it just to keep someone else from having it. He’s a terror, the old man. Hungry?”
“Ravenous,” Hannibal said, grinning like the proverbial cat in the creamery.
The dinner was served passing-plate style, small tasting dishes making the rounds by liveried staff while the guests mingled in Anthony’s sumptuous salon.
Will availed himself of the ample wine options and took only minimal tastes of the food, unable to take any nourishment of note from it. He mostly lingered at the edges of the room, content to watch the people around him. Hannibal, enormously in his element, tended to draw attention with his looks, charm, and intriguing foreign inflection to his soothing voice. Most if not all of the attendees knew him but took the chance to know him better.
Somewhat too much better, in some cases.
Particularly in the case of a tittering socialite who had apparently chosen to invest in a rather impressive shelf of a bosom that only stayed inside of her dress by virtue of its very immobile plasticity.
‘Not for lack of trying,’ Will wryly thought, hiding his laugh behind a swipe of his hand, looking away as she once again placed a hand on Hannibal’s arm and bent over to check the strap of her shoe. His long-ago instincts urged him to check it for her out of politeness and his current state of impish humor seconded that, if only to remove her source of display, but it was far more entertaining to see Hannibal’s look of courteous interest rapidly fraying beneath the combined weight of her manners and her company. The others in their group drifted away one by one, unable to break her monopoly on his attention despite Hannibal’s best efforts.
“She does that every time,” Anthony quietly said, turning up at his shoulder with a small plate, his own amused gaze on the woman bouncing upright. “She tends to gravitate towards older men…her father died when she was young, so…”
“I’m sure they gravitate right back,” Will said, chuckling at the harried look on Hannibal’s face. He had no polite or delicate way to disengage at present but bore it admirably, well used to long suffering the presence of fools. Will doubted anyone else would notice how uncomfortable he was, but Will Graham was more intimately acquainted with Hannibal Lecter than most.
“You should rescue him,” Anthony suggested.
“Nah, he’s fine,” Will said, not bothering to hide his amusement when Hannibal caught his eye. “If he can’t maneuver his way out of the clutches of a single determined soul then he’s not half the man I know he is.”
“I may rescue him all the same,” Anthony said. “Perhaps I can use his gratitude to my advantage.”
Will gestured his direction with his glass, saying, “Worth a shot.”
He watched Anthony ride to the rescue, knight errant sans horse, and run into the peculiar issue of the determined young woman shifting her attention from potential father to potential heir in a heartbeat. Will almost snorted wine up his nose when she latched onto Anthony’s arm.
Anthony cast him a resigned look over the crowd and shrugged, mission mostly if haphazardly accomplished.
Hannibal stayed to make pleasant conversation, maneuvering Anthony between himself and the tittering young lady. Will ambled over now that his source of entertainment had moved on, sliding himself into the space next to Hannibal just a touch too close to be casual.
“Will, there you are,” Hannibal said, pleased to see him arrive on his own, his arm draping over Will’s shoulders in companionable comfort. “Have you met Ms. Lane?”
“Not in the flesh,” Will said, angling a smile her way. “But I have been admiring from a distance. It’s nice to have a name to go with such a lovely…face.”
“Thank you, Will, I was just telling Tony that he should be more chivalrous,” she said, lightly slapping Anthony’s arm with her pale hand.
“Oh, I find him all sorts of chivalrous,” Will chuckled, tipping a sip from his glass. “Riding to the rescue of fair maidens and such.”
Anthony’s eyes widened and he laughed.
Hannibal smirked and caught Will’s gaze, his own sparkling with wry humor.
“Oh, I’ve never been called a fair maiden before,” Ms. Lane said, hugging Anthony’s arm to her formidable chest.
“Well, perhaps someday,” Hannibal said. Before she could respond to question him, Hannibal’s arm fell from Will’s shoulders to the small of his back as he said, “I’d love to show Will the portraits, Anthony, if you don’t mind?”
“I would love to show them to you!” he said, eagerly taking his chance. “Ms. Lane, so sorry, please, won’t you excuse us? I believe that gentleman over there is trying very hard to get your attention.”
Anthony led the way, shifting through the crowded salon to reach the other end well away from the abandoned Ms. Lane.
“Goodness, she’s a darling girl but she can be a bit much,” Anthony said, laughing softly. “My sister would never forgive me if I didn’t invite her but she does tend to cling something awful.”
“Ms. Lane just enjoys affirmation of her desirability,” Hannibal said, snagging a fresh glass of wine. “It stems from a low sense of self-worth.”
“Well let’s all hope she finds someone to treasure her enough to uplift her, then,” Anthony said. “Well, portraits are all here. I can’t show you properly while the party is in full swing, but have a look on your own and find me if you have any questions.”
“Of course, thank you for your hospitality,” Hannibal said.
“I’ll give you the grand tour in a bit,” Anthony said, easing back into the crowd. “Take your time.”
“He is a charming young man, isn’t he?” Hannibal mused, watching Anthony work his crowd. They were close enough to the music performers that the conversations around them became a soft drone of sound set to a lively string ensemble.
“Should I have rescued you?” Will inquired, brows rising over his blue eyes.
“Play knight to my fair maiden?” Hannibal asked, showing his sharp teeth in a wolfish smile. “I only entertained her so long for the sake of your smile, Will. You were far too amused by my predicament.”
“On the contrary, I had immense faith that you could handle a lovely young lady all aquiver for a daddy,” Will remarked, chuckling at the memory. “Jesus, she’s more than a handful. You’ve got better ways to get me to smile, Hannibal. You didn’t need her to do so.”
“I would think you could commiserate with Ms. Lane,” Hannibal said, his eyes sharpening ever so slightly.
“Oh? Why’s that?” Will asked, careful to keep his tone airy. “Have you diagnosed me with similar daddy issues, Doctor Lecter?”
That got a rare, real smile out of Hannibal, a sly curve of his mouth and a flash from his dark eyes.
“Merely that you share the loss of a father’s love,” he said, deliberately sidestepping such an obvious pitfall.
“I didn’t lose anything; my father never loved me,” Will corrected him. “And stop trying to get me to empathize with Ms. Lane. I doubt you want me unwittingly expressing the same level of frantic desperation that permeates that poor woman.”
He glanced up at Hannibal from under his lashes, adding in a soft purr, “Or maybe you do?”
“Will,” Hannibal said, cautioning him, though the amusement in his gaze made a lie of his sternness.
“Hannibal,” he said in response, sensing an advantage. He edged closer, using the excuse of giving someone else room to get past them. Under his breath, he said, “Or am I not the one with the daddy kink, hm?”
Hannibal deftly maneuvered his glass to his mouth before he could give anything away, but he was decidedly amused and Will gave him a wide-eyed, faux-shocked look, murmuring, “No wonder you were so keen on me.”
“Anyone with sense would be keen on you, Will,” Hannibal said, thoroughly pleased with him. “No kinks required.”
“But absolutely welcome,” Will said, tipping his glass to Hannibal’s, both of them drinking to that one. “Consider me informed.”
“I’m considering you in all sorts of delightful ways,” Hannibal said, the sudden heat in his eyes unexpected enough that Will stared at him, momentarily surprised to see it.
“You aren’t usually given to PDAs, Doctor Lecter,” he said, grinning. “You keep looking at me like that and someone is going to notice.”
“Actually, I don’t think anyone would notice at all,” Hannibal said, his hand finding the small of Will’s back and applying gentle pressure, casually steering him towards a less crowded hallway. “Shall we?”
Will didn’t resist, merely said, “I want what you want when you tell me to want it, right?”
Hannibal was too well bred to wander into areas where he didn’t belong so he pawned off their glasses on passing staff, found a dignified woman with an earpiece in and politely told her, “My young friend here has developed a slight headache; is there someplace he could find some quiet for a little while?”
She processed that, looking at Will, who did his best to look woefully uncomfortable and must have managed pretty well because she nodded.
“Thank you,” Hannibal said, his own brilliant smile charming her. “I have his medication with me, he just needs a few moments to let it work.”
“This way,” she said, opening a door for them and signaling a uniformed young man who started when he saw her. “Take these two gentlemen to the library, please, and wait for them.”
It was a crash course in the layout of Anthony’s house, threading their way behind the nervous young man to the library, which turned out to be an impressive room smelling of leather, paper and affluence.
“I’ll be just here,” the young man said for the thirtieth time, indicating a place outside the door. “Just let me know when you’re ready to go back.”
“Of course, thank you,” Hannibal said, his manners ever ready to cover for Will’s own. He closed the door, shutting them into the quiet library. The fireplace burned brightly, gas-fed light flickering, but otherwise the room was quite dim.
Will had wandered away during the brief exchange, craning a look around as he drifted towards the opposite end of the room. He smiled when he felt Hannibal’s heat prickle against his back and turned, curious and grinning.
“You can’t possibly be entertaining what I think you’re entertaining,” he softly said, aware that even the low pitch of his voice carried in the silence.
“Can I not?” Hannibal asked, reaching out to trace Will’s jaw with his fingertips. “My shining and beautiful Ganymede, laughing with wicked delight at my dismay.”
“Your dismay was very amusing,” Will reminded him, his heart racing. Surely Hannibal wasn’t serious? The library door was unlocked. That kid could open it at any moment to check on them; anyone could. “Hannibal…”
The hand on his jaw tensed slightly and tipped Will’s head for a kiss, deep and hungry. Will opened for it, eyes closed, fitting to Hannibal like a puzzle piece when the man’s hands slid to his hips and tugged him close. Will had experienced plenty of kisses in two hundred years but each time Hannibal kissed him it was like a revelation all over again. There was something viscerally arousing about the play of his soft tongue tempered by his sharp teeth, a heady skill in his teasing mouth that Will instantly responded to. He’d gone from paucity of sensation to overload in Hannibal’s hands. It was little wonder the whole of him vibrated like a finely-tuned string stretched taut over the frame of Hannibal’s experience with just a single kiss.
“You must be quiet, Will,” Hannibal admonished when he broke the kiss, his own breathing slightly heavy. He swept his thumb over Will’s wet, plump lower lip, his dark eyes fixed on Will’s own hazy blue gaze. “We can’t have anyone interrupting us.”
“Interrupting us at what?” Will whispered, pushing into him. “You know it never ends at just this, Doctor Lecter. How do you plan to…manage me?”
It won a warm chuckle from him, throaty and deep. “Have I failed to manage you adequately so far, Will? Look at you.”
He put some space between them, his dark eyes flicking over Will from curls to shoes.
“Sex poured into a suit,” he said. “Such a shame you cannot wander around in only your bare skin, Will.”
“You were the one who wanted to dress me, Doctor Lecter,” Will reminded him, tugging his tie loose, unbuttoning his jacket, pleased when Hannibal’s eyes followed the movements, this deliberate sullying of his preferred perfection. “Now you want to undress me? First cold then hot, Doctor, is that how you run?”
It seemed his actions did more to inflame than his words. Seeing Will disheveled, jacket gaping, tie hanging and askew, elicited a response Will took careful and delighted note of. Hannibal snatched him up, sharp lower teeth raking the pale skin of Will’s throat with force enough to pop the top button on his shirt, giving him room enough to suck a dark mark at the base of Will’s neck.
Will laughed breathlessly, his clever fingers making quick work of Hannibal’s jacket buttons, sliding beneath the overlap of his waistcoat to find his belt buckle. He snarled softly when Hannibal swiftly brushed his hands away and told him, “Hold on to the column behind you.”
Will backed up the short distance to the column in question and reached back to grasp it, anticipating just what Hannibal was going to do to him.
Hannibal straightened his waistcoat and buttoned his jacket back up, the picture of decorum. Will leaned back against the column half undone, grinning and feral and hungry for the feast Hannibal was always willing to provide him.
“What are you distracting me from right now, Doctor Lecter?” Will asked him, hitching a little when Hannibal reached out and teased his shirt free of his waistband.
“Is there something you think you need distraction from?” he asked, fingers skimming over the fluttering muscle of Will’s belly, trailing fire through his groin.
“I think there’s something you need distraction from,” Will told him, cocking his head with a sly smile. “Considering you left a room full of your favorite entertainment to not let me get in your pants.”
“What makes you think you’re not my favorite entertainment?” Hannibal purred, managing not to answer. “Is it so strange to think I find you compelling enough to slip away with you?”
“Strange enough considering I stay with you,” Will said, gasping softly when Hannibal tugged on his belt, deftly unbuckling it. “You have unfettered access to me and the added advantage of telling me what I want, right?”
Hannibal leaned close, forehead to forehead, nuzzling him softly. He plunged his hand down Will’s pants and cupped him through his boxers, hushing him when Will arched hard to the touch and hissed, shuddering.
The hand withdrew as quickly as it had arrived, moving to unbutton and unzip Will’s pants to loosen them.
“Be quiet, Will,” he admonished him, pushing his pants down to his thighs, tugging his boxer briefs down just enough to bare the jutting curve of Will’s cock.
“Or what?” Will asked, biting his lip and closing his eyes against the sight of Hannibal’s fingers teasing up beneath the fat head of his cock, an instant burst of sensation that dragged another ragged moan out of him.
A tug on his tie distracted him as much as the loss of contact on his cock did. He opened his eyes just as Hannibal slid his loosened tie up to his mouth, twisted the knot to the back of his head and jerked it snug.
Will bit down on it out of reflex, wincing when Hannibal tightened it again.
“That should do,” Hannibal said, satisfied, and hefted Will up to one side to settle him against a nearby desk.
Will wriggled, the cold press of the desk edge against his bare ass almost painful. He watched with widening eyes as Hannibal casually seated himself in the desk’s chair like he was getting ready for a therapy session.
“I need you to be quiet and not move,” he warned again, legs spread wide around Will’s own, smoothing the lip of Will’s shirt up to bare his pale belly and heavy sex. “We can’t have you making a mess of this library like you do with my bed.”
He sounded more approving than scolding, delighting in Will’s uninhibited responses to his touch.
“There’s nothing I need distraction from, Will,” he purred, smoothing his hands up the insides of Will’s taut thighs, sweeping down to force his pants lower, just enough to allow his legs to fall wide. When he leaned forward, Will groaned around the tie between his teeth to feel the rush of his hot breath on his cock when Hannibal breathed, “I just found myself hungry for something more delightful than our host is able to offer.”
Will’s eyes rolled back and his whole body curled in response to the hot mouth slowly encasing his swollen head. Sharp teeth rested just behind his head, hooking gently in to allow his clever tongue to lash the underside of Will’s cock, bringing him to immediate, squirming overload.
Hannibal negligently cupped his balls, gained purchase and gently pulled, countering his pleasure, bracing him for the excruciating feeling of Hannibal’s mouth slowly sucking him down.
The tie grew wet in his mouth, stifling his keening cries. His arms ached from bracing his weight up on the slick surface of the desk and his hips trembled, straining to control his urge to thrust. He twitched hard as Hannibal’s mouth descended, wet and tight, seeking his base and swallowing him down.
Will snarled unintelligibly against the tie, pushing into Hannibal’s mouth, unable to control his instinctive thrust when he felt those sharp, dangerous teeth graze the base of his cock followed by Hannibal’s tongue darting out to lave a dripping caress to Will’s sac, cupped and squeezed in offering.
There was so much about his life that he couldn’t remember, but Will knew without a doubt that he’d never felt anything to rival the suction of Hannibal’s slowly ascending mouth. He lingered on the head, suckling and teasing, his tongue testing Will’s slit with force enough to make Will sob and, strangely to his own mind, urge him to do more.
Hannibal released him with a soft suck and licked his lips, his mouth wet and kissable, his dark eyes afire. Will panted, chest heaving, sharp teeth descending with the force of his desire, showing clearly over the dark tie in his mouth.
“That is something you’ve been keeping from me,” Hannibal said, his voice husky. He steadied Will’s cock with his free hand, thumb rubbing his frenulum relentlessly, index finger circling his slit and pressing just slightly to indicate where his interest lay. “Were we at home I wouldn’t hesitate to test it for you, Will. I would love to see you react to sounding. You have such unfettered responses to stimuli it’s nearly overwhelming to watch.”
Will betrayed himself with a throaty moan, his cock twitching in Hannibal’s hand, his balls clutching up in his palm. He instantly imagined Hannibal before him, penetrating him there as well, watching him with greedy eyes as he fed a slender piece of sterile steel into his cock.
A pearl of precum welled at the thought and his cock thrummed in Hannibal’s grip, bringing a smirk to the man’s perfect mouth. “That imagination of yours is working overtime, Will. Stay with me.”
He punctuated his words with three swift, firm strokes of Will’s cock, just enough to make his hips strain away from the desk, his moan threatening to escape the muffling tie. He wanted Hannibal’s mouth on him, a lesser form of cannibalism. He wanted Hannibal’s cock inside of him where he felt empty and waiting, making a sloppy mess of him that even these beautiful clothes couldn’t hide.
“Be quiet,” Hannibal whispered, letting go of Will’s tight sac to suck on his fingers, deliberately and slowly, his eyes fastened on Will’s.
Will’s legs pushed wider, angling his hips against the desk. He made a desperate, needy sound, grateful for the tie that lessened its force, and shuddered hard to feel Hannibal’s hand slide up between his thighs, a twist of his hand parting Will’s cheeks enough to find and penetrate him, a slow and arousing tease of fingers into his eager body. He opened with no effort, relaxing for it, eyes watering when Hannibal hooked his fingers towards himself and started rubbing his prostate from the inside.
“Prostate stimulating through sounding is singularly pleasurable,” Hannibal whispered, flicking his tongue out to tease Will’s seeping cock, his fingers just the right amount of tight, giving him just the right amount of friction. “I’m curious to see how long you can hold out against it.”
Will sobbed, fighting to keep control of himself, clenching around Hannibal’s determined fingers when the man suckled his head again, using the pressure of his mouth to devastating effect. His hand slid down as his mouth did, chasing his lips in a rhythm that matched the pressure of his fingers, rapidly bringing Will dangerously close to orgrasm with every bob of his head.
As if to dare him, Hannnibal swallowed him down once more all the way to the base, the ring of his fingers moving to let his mouth catch suction, sliding down to fondle him.
It was too much. Will thrashed hard, balls clutching up in Hannibal’s gently-squeezing hand, cock bucking down the man’s working throat as he came, body clamping tight on Hannibal’s fingers.
He just kept swallowing, drawing on Will’s flesh until he was reduced to a twitching, shuddering mess of nerve endings and raw pleasure, jerking in Hannibal’s hold as much from overstimulation as orgasm. Only when he desperately risked those sharp teeth and retreated, wriggling to gain distance, did Hannibal finally release him, sliding Will’s wet and reddened cock from his mouth as his fingers slid out of his body.
He was panting, breathless from bearing the force of Will’s climax with his wet mouth. His face held a light, becoming flush that only made Will want to do more, to see him properly enflamed and hungry. Instead, Hannibal delicately plucked his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his fingers, looking at Will’s flushed and trembling body with covetous delight.
Shuddering with aftershocks, Will lifted one trembling hand to the tie and loosened it, dragging it over his head to free his mouth. His panting was loud, matching Hannibal breath for breath. His legs felt too watery to support him but held when he gingerly straightened. He tugged his boxers and pants up, having to try twice to feed his cock back into his pants, he was so shaky.
Hannibal, meanwhile, put himself back together, every inch the urbane gentleman, no sign that just moments before he’d been devouring Will’s cock like a starving man. After a long, considering look, he swiftly reached around Will to tuck his shirt into the back of his pants and worked his way forward, quickly and efficiently setting him to rights. Will just focused on catching his breath, finding it strangely soothing to have Hannibal zip, button, and belt him back into his pants, to have him fussily button his jacket back up and purse his mouth at the button on his shirt hanging by a thread. He plucked it free, snapped the thread off at its base, and pocketed the button.
“What about this?” Will asked, finally possessed of enough oxygen to ask, lifting the mangled tie in his fist.
Hannibal plucked it from him, rolled it tightly, and poked it into Will’s jacket pocket, telling him, “I much prefer it in your mouth than around your neck.” He parted the top of Will’s shirt and undid another button, baring the smooth column of his throat and, Will instinctively knew, the shadow of his bruise mark—Hannibal’s silent and possessive claim.
“You want to tell me what that was about?” Will asked, angling a look at him, trying to figure him out. “Or maybe reciprocate or something?”
Hannibal pushed his handkerchief into his pocket out of sight and told him, “No reciprocation necessary, Will. Let’s get you back to the party, shall we? I find myself in need of a washroom. If this becomes routine I really must come better prepared to properly distract you.”
“Oh, I was pretty distracted,” Will admitted, his laughter still breathless. “Believe me, Doctor Lecter. I certainly was.”
Hannibal smiled at him, sharp teeth and sharp cheekbones and a charm that was frighteningly addictive.
Like the Ravenstag…
The thought was gone before he could catch it, but it left Will with a sense of warmth that carried him through the rest of an otherwise tedious social excursion with a soft, seductive smile.
The rest of their evening passed pleasantly enough. Anthony was a gracious and entertaining host and, luckily, no one got eaten…Well, not in the traditional sense, anyway, as the library could attest. They got their tour and the grand introduction to the Iberian harpsichord, which Hannibal was delighted with and clearly ached to play it.
They left with promises to return for a smaller, more intimate dinner and talk of Hannibal’s latest article, which Anthony was effusively complimentary of, and returned to Hannibal’s house.
It was Will who broached the subject that Hannibal himself had raised earlier in the day, pausing Hannibal as he stripped off his jacket by saying, “I’d like to have you help me, Hannibal…With my memories…”
Hannibal brushed at his jacket with his curled fingers, mouth pursed in thought. He hung it and unbuttoned his waistcoat, saying, “Would you prefer to start now while you’re feeling confident?”
Will nodded, peeling off his clothes like shedding an uncomfortable shell. He hung them as Hannibal did, in that space he reserved for dry cleaning to be dropped off. He donned a pair of Hannibal’s flannel sleep pants and nothing else, wrapping his arms around himself with a sudden chill that went deeper than skin.
“Will?” Hannibal said, concerned when Will visibly started. “It can wait until you’re more prepared.”
“No, it’s okay, I’d rather try now while I’m ready,” Will said, gratefully taking the undershirt Hannibal held out to him. “Should we…go to your office or…”
Hannibal gestured at the armchair in front of the fireplace in his room and Will sat, dragging the shirt over his head as he did so.
Hannibal turned on the fireplace and in moments warm flames flickered up and a pleasant heat filled the room.
“Better?” Hannibal asked, sitting down opposite him. “It’s important you’re as comfortable as possible.”
“Ah, yeah,” Will said, wondering how Hannibal could still sound so professional when he was lounging in front of his fireplace in a wine-red sweater and muted pajama pants. “So…what do I do?”
“Try looking at the fire,” Hannibal suggested. “Try to clear your thoughts, Will. I know it is difficult to sweep out all of the clutter but do your best.”
Will turned his face to the fire, his eyes tracing the dancing movements, his eyes dilating softly as he relaxed.
“I want you to think of the Ravenstag, Will,” Hannibal softly said, his throaty voice raising a pleasant shiver in Will’s body. “Just focus on that singular presence as the pin that holds your memories in place.”
Will thought of him, the sinuous wave of the flames filling the whole of his vision. He thought of the Ravenstag in the forest, rampant and powerful, and his heart leapt painfully in his chest. He could hear Hannibal speaking, the soft, low drone of his voice in a rhythmic cadence he couldn’t make sense of but latched on to, knowing it marked the path to safety.
The Ravenstag said he’d tend to the body and he did. It was found the next day, dangling from a stout tree limb not far from where he’d died, swinging from a noose as any common thief, his innards forming an apron of crow-picked flesh turning sour in the rising sun. His hands had been removed and placed in the cavity his guts had vacated, the fingers peeking out as if someone inside was trying to emerge. Will had followed his father, who had been summoned by shocked and horrified neighbors to offer what insight he could. What kind of monster could do such a thing? What kind of person would tear another apart like this, even if he was a rotten soul and a known thief?
Will had watched the wind gently rock him, back and forth, back and forth like the pendulum in their clock, a carelessly butchered carcass hoisted high in a blatant commentary on his chosen profession.
Will’s father was so angry with him when he saw him that he only just barely managed to restrain himself, ordering Will home in such tight, taut tones that Will knew better than to disobey.
Will knew better than to speak of him, the man in the woods.
He heard Hannibal speaking still, a soft whisper of suggestion, a gentle push that led Will back to that night in the woods with blood drying on his hands and flesh stuck beneath his fingernails.
‘You have cost me my dinner, Will,’ the Ravenstag said, grinning and hungry, too sharp teeth and too shrewd eyes but so beautiful and Will could see himself in the Ravenstag’s eyes just the same, his empathy showing him himself elevated to something unearthly and special. Chosen. ‘What are we to do about that?’
“I will feed you,” Will murmured, the words solid and startling, pausing the soft rumble of Hannibal’s voice, but only for a moment. “Just show me how…”
The Ravenstag knelt there, sullying his impeccable breeches to gain Will’s level, tipping his head up by his chin to gaze down into his face. His lips parted and Will saw the teeth descending, becoming sharp and leonine, ever so much heavier and more shocking than a wolf’s.
‘Are you frightened of me yet, Will?’ the Ravenstag asked, allowing him to take in the sight, his deep, shockingly foreign voice wrapping around Will like thorny vines, piercing him to hold him fast.
Fascinated, Will reached up, unmindful of his bloody hand, and tested the tip of one overhanging canine with his fingertip, awed by its sharpness.
“I’m not afraid,” he said, caught somewhere between the firelight and the Ravenstag, shivering when his tongue snaked out to suck the blood and bits of skin from Will’s finger, nudging him to suck them clean, one by one. It went straight to the pit of his belly and coiled there, waiting and heavy, fed by the sensation of his hot mouth, the wet pressure, the soft caress of his tongue on Will’s skin. Every hint of regret about his part in the robber’s death evaporated in that moment when he realized he would do it again and again if only to feel this same heady, frightening thing.
“What are you?” Will breathed, thrilling to his presence as if he was in the company of something wild and dangerous, a beast made of instinct and bloodlust bound into the body of a shockingly virile man.
‘What do you want me to be?’ the Ravenstag asked, a final lap of his tongue drawing the last of the blood from Will’s fingers.
It was utterly foolish and utterly silly but he said it all the same, his voice coming out in a rush as he breathed, “Mine.”
Will jerked in his seat when the Ravenstag of his memories lunged at him, those same fangs sinking into his throat, hard hands cradling him and bending him to have unfettered access to him.
It still wasn’t fear. He lay staring up at the treetops, gasping and shocked, his damp hands curling into the Ravenstag’s hair to hold him close. There was pain as he drained Will’s blood but it was a good pain, a pain that seemed right somehow, almost religious in its intensity. It was bliss, the bliss of knowing he was absolutely and terribly helpless, that there was no way to defend himself even if he wanted to. He was utterly at the Ravenstag’s mercy and it was such a shocking pleasure that he writhed in his grip, panting with lust as much as surprise. Those teeth surged deeper, hands tightening, and the Ravenstag lifted his head with a throaty groan.
Then he looked down at Will’s upturned face and his blood-stained lips murmured, ‘Perhaps I should keep you…’
Will took a deep, dragging breath, surprised to find that the fire was out and the room was dark and Hannibal was smoothing his hair.
“You were beginning to worry me,” the man admitted, stroking his throat much as the Ravenstag had, standing over him as a dark and seeping shadow. A trick of the room’s faint light conspired to give him stretching antlers, blurring the line between Will’s past and his present so that it felt like he was here for just a moment, his Ravenstag. Here and ready. Here and waiting for him.
Here and wanting to punish Will for what he’d done…
“Will?” Hannibal inquired, pulling back in concern when Will jerked away from him. “Will, where are you right now? Stay with me, please.”
“I’m here,” he said, but he sounded no more certain than he felt. He groped for Hannibal’s sweater and tugged, dragging the man down on his knees between Will’s spread legs. He shivered, a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature permeating his flesh. “Hannibal…”
Hannibal slid his arms beneath Will’s and stood, hefting him up onto his feet and pulling him to the bed, deciding what Will needed in that moment.
“You stopped talking nearly an hour ago,” he said, tucking Will into his bed and sliding in next to him, gathering Will up to his chest where he shivered like a baby bird, lost and shocked by what he’d remembered. “I had hoped you were remembering something of import.”
After a long silence, he prompted, “Did you?”
Will nodded, delving into the warmth of Hannibal’s throat to whisper, “I think I may know what he did to me, Hannibal.”
There was a short silence before Hannibal smoothed his curls with one hand and softly told him, “Then you are that much closer to truly having me, Will.”
It was as daunting a prospect as it was an exciting one, but Will couldn’t stop the coil of anticipation that curled through him at the thought of finally having Hannibal Lecter be a part of him forever.
However brief that forever would prove to be once the man decided to kill him, of course.