"What is that?"
Hannibal looked up to find Will already perched out on the bars of his tank, his tail's end dipping into the water looking like crushed night velvet on holiday, his back spines rattling organically soft together as the merman shifted to peer down at the drowsy human. Will leaned over as far as he could for a better look as he watched Hannibal's drink preparation with interest, the chef currently foaming the milk for his cappuccino.
"Coffee made with frothed milk." Hannibal told him as he spooned out the foam with care, piling it in soft mounds over the diluted espresso' s surface before dusting the drink with a dash of cinnamon cocoa.
"You drink that a lot. It smells nice." Will said, his tone almost wistful sounding.
"Would you like one?" Hannibal bit back a smile as the merman hesitantly nodded. Will was still too shy to ask for anything flat out, the tentative creature more likely to stare at something that peeked his interest and let Hannibal decide if he were allowed to have it or not. With a pleased smile at such quiet submissive obedience, the chef added an almond biscotti to the cup's saucer as well before walking over to the tank.
"Here you are. It is hot so be careful." Hannibal warned, handing the beverage up, Will accepting the fine bone china gingerly and with great care to keep his fingers away from Hannibal's own. Hannibal watched with open interest as the merman took his time experiencing his first coffee, delicately scenting the aromas coming off of it. The foam tickled his nose though when he committed himself to a sip, making Will shaking his head in surprise at the sensation and fan out his spines, which were as strangely graceful out of the water as in.
"May I?" Hannibal asked, gesturing to the merman's back, the shoulders of which shrugged.
Will wore an amused look on his face, trying to hide it behind the rim of his cup as the chef elevated himself on the stepladder beside the tank. After the near drowning incident, the pair had gotten a little bit more hands on with each other, Hannibal returning the favor of exploration when the mood struck him. The merman turned toward Hannibal, willing to accommodate the chef as he fanned out the sails on his back with a flex of his back muscles. Hannibal stretched out his fingers, running the tips of them along the panels of black opal scales. The spaces between the merman's spines were cool to the touch, smooth but with a pebbling texture to them.
"Can you feel that?" Hannibal asked, running his fingers from the frayed outer edges to where it connected and merged to more human like flesh, the transition between scales to skin seamless. The chef froze, holding very still as he felt dangerous fingers combed lightly through his own silvery ashen hair.
"Can you feel that?" Will was smiling as he asked, slowly pulling his hand back so that Hannibal could track it. Both beings satisfied, the merman returned his attention back to his coffee while Hannibal climbed down to start in own.
Getting a taste for coffee and spurred on by his enthusiasm for it, the merman nearly put his face into the cup before recalling Hannibal's method of drinking, resting his lips against the edge instead.
"How do you like it?" Hannibal asked as he watched Will take greedy little sips of the creamy brown liquid, disregarding the hot temperature.
"It's good." Will said, taking a moment to study the accompanying biscotti. He pressed it to his nose, inhaling its sweet fragrance deeply, making Hannibal wonder how acute the merman's sense of actually smell was. Thinking about sharks and blood in the water, he watched as the biscotti was eaten all at once with an audible 'chomp' and chewed slowly in consideration, the chef wincing slightly at the lack of elegance put into it. "I'm not sure about the other thing though. It tastes…"
Will trailed off, seemingly at a loss for adequate words of description. Hannibal reasoned it was only natural given that the merman's diet primarily consisted of raw flesh and various types of seaweed. There were only so many taste profiles to describe either and Hannibal was willing to bet his pots and pans that savory was not one of them.
"The tastes you are experiencing are referred to as lightly sweet and nutty." Hannibal informed him, gesturing for the empty cup. If he didn't get it back now, it would be a hassle later. He had found out firsthand that merfolk were natural hoarders. With new boundaries being explored daily between them, Will had become openly curious about items most human considered commonplace. So when Will asked to look at silverware, plates, glasses, and other items of tableware, Hannibal had thought nothing of it as he handed the items over to be perused. That was until he noticed that the merman wasn't giving them back, choosing to pile all his stolen goods in a corner and sleep on top of the silver, cut crystal, and porcelain like a dragon guarding its hoard. "The coffee would be considered creamy and bitter."
"I like bitter." Will decided after a moment of consideration.
"Would you like to find out what else you might like?" Hannibal asked, warming up to the idea. A chef couldn't ask for anything better than a virgin palette as he began to open up his kitchen, pulling out various ingredients and other cooking components. The merman watched on in amusement as little glass measuring bowls were procured and filled, a plan of introduction already forming in the chef's head. It all came to a momentary halt when Hannibal's sanguine eyes alighted on an unfinished bottle of red wine from last night. Giving into the temptation of grooming another wine aficionado, Hannibal poured a few ounces of Malbec into a glass. "Would you care for some wine, Will?"
"It looks like blood." Will observed with a slight frown but accepted the offered glass anyway.
"It tastes even better." Hannibal all but purred. Will swallowed all the ruby liquid down at once, making a face as he experienced the dry recoil of tannic aftertaste.
"Is it supposed to taste like that?" Will asked, frowning down at the glass like it had personally offended him.
Hannibal snorted, trading empty glassware for full, this time the ruby red liquid a little less potent. "Perhaps not the best beginner wine. Forgive me and try this instead. It is fruit juice. Pomegranate blended with cranberry."
Will managed to take in one sip before spitting the rest back into the glass with a disgusted expression. "I don't like it." Will said flatly.
"I gathered." Hannibal said, making a mental note to further Will's education on manners now that he was experiencing human food.
Offers of cheese were flat out refused, the odor coming off the dairy products enough to make the merman retreat back into the depths of his tank to glare sullenly at the dairy product. Hannibal thought it was an extreme overreaction to Cheddar and Roquefort, but made of show of putting it away to appease the merman. He coaxed Will out once again with promises of fruit. Slices of honey crisp apples, ripe mangos, and bosc pears were sampled to varying degrees of mediocre responses, the merman not particularly impressed by the offered fare. Vegetables were met with the same reaction, the merman eating the pieces of greenery without protest but obviously with no delight either. Carrots were the exception to this for some reason, the merman very enthusiastic about the tapered orange colored root.
Potatoes were nearly thrown back at Hannibal's head, the merman affronted by their lumpy existence, viciously so as he lashed his tail against the tank sharp enough to crack it like a whip. Jagged teeth bared and spines bristled wide to make himself look bigger, Will clicked and hissed at Hannibal until they were hidden away in the pantry again.
Almost as an apology, Hannibal switched food groups entirely, choosing to grill and sauté while the merman calmed down enough to emerge again. Meats of all variety were enjoyed, though fowl was given pause for, Will smelling the pieces of cooked chicken, duck, and pheasant very thoroughly before nibbling on them. Rabbit was the merman least favorite out of all proteins presented, Will asking if it were even considered food due to the lack of taste to him.
Hannibal assumed Will had more inclination toward bitter foods until he made some lemon tea sweetened with honey to clean the merman's palette before he sampled anything else. He watched on in amusement as the hot liquid was gulped down despite its scalding temperature and the cup licked out clean, Will very enthusiastic about the flavor of something in the mix. He winced though upon hearing razor teeth begin to scrape the porcelain's finish.
In an effort to save his fine bone china, Hannibal dipped his fingers into the honey jar, fishing out some honey comb. Hannibal raised up the golden mass for Will to taste, the merman leaning over the edge of his enclosure to do so. Instead of accepting the sweetness in hand though, Will delicately took Hannibal's fingers into his mouth, mindful of his teeth as he ran his rough tongue over the sweetened digits and swallowed down the honeycomb whole.
While the taste was being savored, Hannibal got a rare opportunity to study the merman's face up close without the obscure of moisture over it. Will's hair was lighter when it was dry, the black of it fading out to more of a rich chocolate brown. It also curled much to Hannibal's inner delight, the halo of wavy dips crowning Will gracefully.
Though Will was careful with his teeth, Hannibal was purposely not. As the merman began to draw away from fingers licked clean within an inch of their life, Hannibal pressed down. Hannibal sighed with pleasure as the pads of his fingers were split open on natural points sharper than his own blades. Will hummed at the sudden burst of metallic taste, catching Hannibal's wrist. The chef held very still as not to be grazed by the merman's barbed fingers while the Will drank in his fill, his tongue working greedily over the wounds. Hannibal focused on his breathing, palming himself with his free hand to readjust. His lower belly suddenly felt full and too warm, his cock responding to the stimuli of being so intimately sampled.
Hannibal was snapped out of his revelry when his hand was let go, the merman drawing away from him with a furtive look. "That was a stupid thing to do." Will muttered to find his face being caught and brought still. Hannibal held the merman in place, leaning up to pressed their lips together. Will allowed it, growing more used to the human's strange custom of affection. He parted his lips for Hannibal, letting the human slide his tongue into him as he mimicked the movements back with his own. Will tasted as salty out of the water as in, Hannibal lapping his way into the merman's mouth. He couldn't resist running his tongue up against the sharp edges he found there.
Old habits died hard though, Hannibal's teeth sinking into Will's bottom lip, a vileness of indeterminate flavor filling his mouth in the answering wound. It was sharp and coiling, the merman's blood filled with a coolness that was sickening and tinged with a taste similar to that of rotting meat. It took a moment for Hannibal to realize the flavor of decomposition was from his own flesh degrading, his inner lip and tongue beginning to swell and blister. Hannibal was vaguely aware of Will grabbing his shoulders to shove his away at arm's length, careful not to spill the chef off of his stepladder. His face was filled with horrific realization of what Hannibal had just tasted.
"Oh gods! What have you done?! Spit it out!" Will cried, Hannibal already way ahead of the merman as he freed himself to fall forward onto the tile and stumble toward his refrigerator, trying desperately not to swallow even as his throat treacherously convulsed against his will. The possible key to his salvation was in the front where he remembered putting it away, the chef pouring milk into his mouth and over his lips. At contact, the pulsing swell of flesh started to calm down, soothed back to normalcy with only a vague tingling left behind in wake of the poison's demise.
Gasping wetly, Hannibal didn't even realize he was on the floor until he opened his eyes, breathing in deeply the smell of blood, salt, and spilled milk that was beginning to sour around the edges of the scent as it dried. The chef reasoned he must have passed out for a while as his head was being supported in a moist lap now. The merman was on the floor with him, Will propping his torso carefully up against the fridge so that his spines would not ruin the wood finish of the chef's cabinets. Even in his weakened state, Hannibal recognized and appreciated the merman's thoughtfulness.
"I guess that answers one question. Definitely deadly upon consumption." Hannibal mumbled, tasting his own blood on his lips. The blisters were gone and the swelling subsided though as the chef ran his tongue over the small lingering wounds. All that was left behind were weeping sores as tangible proof of his personal folly.
"I wasn't lying to you. I wouldn't do that." Will snapped, glaring down at the chef who struggled for a moment but managed to sit up under his own power. "It's a miracle you're not dead."
"An ancient remedy for poison among humans." Hannibal sighed, still slightly dizzy as he crawled over to the still open fridge to pull out the half and half from its well stocked depths. He drank most of it down just to play it safe and felt immediately better for it.
"I'm sorry." Will said softly, looking like the proverbial fish out of water. There was water all over Hannibal's tile but the chef couldn't really bring himself to care as he tracked the path it led from tank to where they were seated. Hannibal envisioned Will floundering out of water to crawl over to him, the merman leaving his environment to protect him while he was unconscious.
"Why are you apologizing, dear one? You have done nothing wrong." Hannibal soothed, reaching over to pet curls that were softer and finer than spun silk. It was almost his undoing, Will lunging forward with the quickness of eels in oil. Before Hannibal even had time to blink, he found back slammed against the floor and his body caged in coils of merman with Will's teeth grazing the apple of his exposed throat .
Despite the abrupt turn of events, Hannibal calmly noted now careful Will was being, the amount of control the merman exerted over his own body. Though Will had spiraled his tail over Hannibal's legs to encase them, he had done so in a way so that none of spine's spearheads were in danger of puncturing the chef's flesh. The paralyzing hands that gripped his shoulders, did so with palms only, the merman keeping the human in place with his superior strength rather than with leverage or grip. It was like being cradled in the mouth of a shark, one on the brink of chewing its meat.
"I could kill you so easily." Will told him, his tone more matter-of-fact than bragging. Hannibal could feel the merman's lips moving over his throat and breath that left a body too cool to be human chill the thin skin there.
"Yes." Hannibal sighed breathlessly, pressing his torso up against the merman's so that their torsos were flush as he titled his head back further, daring the predator more than submitting to it, his hands finding the merman's sides to stroke at pale frigid skin.
"Would you like to die that way?" Will growled, trying to loom over Hannibal in a threatening manner. The effect was ruined though by the chef smiling at the merman, his hands trailing up further to map out a firm chest with all its dips and curvatures of whipcord muscle.
"Death comes to us all. I could not ask for a more beautiful or unique way to die." Hannibal said, leaning up as far as he could to brush his face against the merman's own.
"You think I'm beautiful?" he heard Will murmur, tension leaving the merman's body as he went lax around and above. Taking the chance, Hannibal lost the distance between them as he touched his crimson slick lips to Will's own in a chaste bloody kiss.
"No. I know you are."