(Diverges from the show after Season 1, Episode 10: Buffet Froid.)
The relationship between Hannibal and Will begins to change. Will struggles with the realization that he is powerfully attracted to his dark and dangerous friend. Hannibal wrestles with his own mounting obsession; manipulating people and events to feed his growing hunger, he plunges Will into a world of dark passions and violent appetites.
A dark romance that's bleak, emotional, and dirty as fuck.
This will never end
Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more
If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing
After the night when I wake up
I'll see what tomorrow brings
Crushed and filled with all I found
Underneath and inside
Just to come around
More, give me more, give me more*
-If I had a Heart by Fever Ray
Hannibal watched as Will trailed off mid-sentence; his eyes were red as he looked down at his clawed hands, his breathing hoarse. The last word he had uttered still floated in the silence of the doctor's office: Insane. Will looked both lost and weary when he finally raised his head and met Hannibal's eyes. He dropped his hands down to his knees where he began rubbing the fabric of his jeans with his palms, wiping away something spectral.
"What's happening to me?"
Hannibal pursed his lips a moment and then leaned forward.
"What do you think is happening to you, Will?" he said in a low voice, his accent lending a soft sibilance to his words. Will sank back into his chair, coughed into his fist, and then rubbed his eyes, a nervous dance of movements that ended with him pinching the bridge of his nose, eyes closed tightly.
"I… don't know. I don't understand. I know you're trying to help me, but I don't know what it is you want me to say. Actually, I don't know what to say at all anymore. To anyone. I don't even talk to myself for fear of what I'll hear myself say..."
Hannibal's eyes narrowed as he watched Will talk. The substance of his words wasn't important. Confusion, self-doubt - very normal human emotions. Dull emotions. Hannibal resisted the urge to rise out of his chair and strike him, hold him down and break his bones beneath his hands. This was not what he wanted out of Will. Gone were the heady ups and downs of anger and true fear. Instead, a miasma of despair clung to Will's shape; grey and greasy and unappealing. Watching the muscles of Will's jaw bulge beneath dark stubble as he talked, Hannibal contemplated his situation. Will Graham was as close to a friend as he had; he had a certain… fondness for Will, if it could be called that. Whether Will lived or died was an unimportant detail, but there was something there. Something that called to the tiny, jagged wisp that glided over the serene planes of Hannibal's mind whispering: where is my heart?
No, he would not kill him just yet.
A smell in the air, a little like ozone, brought him back to the words that were pouring out of Will. He nodded and tapped his pen against his temple in a show of listening. Was that the smell of frayed nerves? The scent of someone going avoidably mad? Any minute now there would be tears glistening at the rims of those eyes. Hannibal cleared his throat and interrupted.
"Will, I would like you to come stay at my home tonight. I don't want you to be alone. Come back with me, and I shall make you something to eat. We can continue our conversation there." Will heaved a sigh and drew the fingers of both hands through the mess of dark curls atop his head.
"And you may use my shower," added Hannibal.
The rhythmic motion of his hands chopping the scallions was like music for the muscles. Hannibal scooped up what he had cut and set them to quickly sauté in the pan. From the other room came the sound of water hitting the marble wall of the shower; Will had been in there for nearly an hour. Hannibal stirred the whole grain mustard cream sauce, and checked on the applewood smoked bacon-wrapped loin. It was beginning to dry out. Hannibal added the softened scallions to the cream sauce and wiped his hands on his apron before taking it off. He turned down the hall and pressed his hand against the bathroom door, as if he could sense Will's form behind it.
"Will? Are you all right?" he called through the heavy door. When there was no immediate response, he repeated himself a little louder and tried the door handle. It was unlocked. Steam poured through the opening as he looked towards the glass shower. It was empty. He frowned and peered around the door.
Hannibal wasn't prepared for the sight of Will standing naked with his forehead pressed against the mirror. A few beads of water were making their silvery way down the sides of Will's spine and muddling in the fine dark hair above the cleavage of his round buttocks. The sight of the hard counter pressed into Will's thighs, sharp ebony cutting into flesh, suddenly made Hannibal's breath catch in his throat. Caught off guard, he missed his chance to back swiftly out of the room. Will straightened and noticed Hannibal, and they both stood silent for a beat.
"I'm sorry," said Will. "I was just…"
"It doesn't matter, Will. Are you losing time again?" The pause had restored Hannibal's veneer. "You were in the shower a very long time. I began to get worried for you." At this Will seemed to come to his senses; he reached for the heavy Turkish cotton towel to cover himself.
"I'm ok, Hannibal. I think I'm just hungry and tired."
Hannibal's lip curved into a gracious smile.
"I will wait for you in the dining room. Please, take your time."
Hannibal poured himself a glass of the '95 Château La Mission Haut-Brion and breathed in the slightly smokey nose of the pale wine. He felt strange, off-balance. Part of him wanted to tear open the bathroom door and smash Will's head into the marble tiles. Softly he exhaled. He was simply rattled and angry about it; realization quickly smoothed out his brow. Interesting that Will could bring these feelings out in him. He looked up as his friend walked through the door and smiled. He gestured to the place setting across the table and waited until Will was seated before pouring him a glass of wine.
"Now we can continue our conversation," said Hannibal pleasantly, seating himself.
Hannibal watched as Will lifted a forkful of meat to his mouth.
"Did you know that it is not possible to survive eating rabbit alone? The animal is incredibly lean, and the human liver cannot safely metabolize that much pure protein without fat or carbohydrates. The resulting sickness is called 'Rabbit Starvation'." At this Will glanced down at his plate.
"Is this rabbit?" he asked. Hannibal smiled into his wine glass.
As Will talked, Hannibal's eyes wandered over his features: fine facial bones and stormy blue eyes, the rough stubble that unevenly covered his jawline, the way his long, tapered fingers drummed the surface of the table nervously. He was, for a fact, a very attractive man; the fever in his system infused a healthy glow in his otherwise pale cheeks and put a sparkle in his eye. Hannibal felt the usual small thrill when he watched meat put to mouth, but there was something more at play here. With the wine working in his veins Hannibal let his mind venture down rarely visited paths.
The physical act of sex was, on the whole, a largely meaningless pursuit in his mind. A few tawdry thrusts to spill seed into another human being. Man or woman, it didn't matter; neither held his interest for very long. His conquests were too easily won over. He had a certain chimerical magnetism that effortlessly drew lovers to his bed, but apart from a few banal encounters in the last decade, Hannibal had been celibate. It wasn't that he was asexual - he just preferred the simplicity of his own skilled hands. Sex with another being was just messy; sweat, tears, saliva, semen, held no appeal for him. So close to blood but not. His passions lay elsewhere.
But why then was he watching a tiny bead of sweat on Will's upper lip so closely? His throat was suddenly dry, and something deep inside him twisted. He wanted to bend that haggard, lost face back and lick that tiny drop from Will's lip, feel his tongue scrape over those sharp dark hairs. That's when Hannibal felt, rather than heard, the echoing silence. Will's face was full of concern and... what was that? Trepidation?
"Hannibal? Are you ok? You haven't said a word… you've just been staring at me like I'm a t-bone steak…" Hannibal's sudden sharp bark of a laugh split the air, and he clapped his hands together.
"Or a rabbit, I suppose? Come, let us have dessert. I've prepared something I think you will especially like." He gathered up his plate in one hand and grabbed Will's before he could rise. Stacking the plates and cutlery, Hannibal pressed down on Will's shoulder and squeezed perhaps a little too hard.
"Please, stay here. I won't be more than a few minutes."
In the kitchen Hannibal stopped to stare at his reflection in the double glass doors. Dark, smooth-lidded eyes stared back at him, deep-set and overshadowed by a stark brow. The planes of his face were those of a man carved out of hardwood. His gracefully curved upper lip jutted out over a pouting lower lip. A complicated mouth. A dangerous mouth hiding sharp teeth and dark secrets. He reached up and touched the grey in his ashen hair with the tips of his fingers and then the spidery lines around his eyes. Old. Where had time gone? Thousands of miles, millions of minutes. He frowned. Dangerous eyes to go with his dangerous mouth. Hannibal chuckled softly and shook himself from his reverie; he backed away from the garden entrance and left the kitchen, carrying the lemon cream and mascarpone mousse crumble into the dining room where Will was frowning at his mobile phone.
"Is there a problem?" he asked, setting down a plate of the delicate dessert in front of his friend. With a careful hand, he placed a dollop of coconut sorbet next to the mousse and turned it slightly before doing the same again for his.
"No. I don't know. I just haven't heard from Alana since I asked her to look after the dogs tonight. She said she would check in with me when she got there but that should have been hours ago." He frowned and punched out a quick message.
"I'm sure Dr. Bloom is just temporarily occupied." Hannibal paused and steepled his hands. "Dr. Bloom… Alana. You were saying you had feelings for her, Will?" His friend looked down at the sweet melting swirls his fork was drawing on the fine bone plate.
"That's the thing, Hannibal. I'm not sure I have feelings for her or if I'm just craving the normalcy of a relationship with someone that understands me."
"And… does she understand you, Will? When was the last time you worked this closely with a colleague? Or with anyone, for that matter? Could these feelings be clouding your judgment?" He paused. "I have worked with Dr. Bloom for long enough to understand her strengths and her… shortcomings."
Will frowned. Hannibal pressed further.
"I do not believe that assumption to be true, Will. I do not believe that Alana can ever truly understand you."
"Because I'm sick."
"Because you are special."
Hannibal winced slightly as Will dropped his fork down with some force and proceeded to laugh. For a moment Hannibal just sat watching him. Will's laughs turned quickly to shuddering sobs, and Hannibal smoothly rose to the aid of his ailing friend.
Within the aphotic gloom of his bedroom, Hannibal lay restless against soft dark sheets. He was being honest with himself when he thought of the looming expiration of their relationship. Will was becoming too unstable. Something had to be done. Letting him suffer further and die of the encephalitis he had unknowingly been diagnosed with was one option; but it was too slow and, Hannibal laughed to himself, too cruel. Though while curating Will's madness had brought him a level of enjoyment, the melancholy was becoming tedious. Hannibal was bored yet uncharacteristically reluctant to end Will's life himself.
What to do? He idly pulled at his chest hair, lost in thought. He pictured again Will's naked form in the steam, eyes closed, hair dripping water onto the countertop. He felt his cock twitch and grow hard against his inner thigh before righting itself and coming to a bobbing, uneasy rest on his taught stomach.
Then, there is this, he thought to himself, stroking his hand down the thick shaft.
In another room down the hall, Will's dreams were filled with visions of blood, pain, and faces screaming at him with their eyes. Alana hung limply from the sharp, strange branches of a grey tree on a grey beach. She looked at him with hollowed eyes and mouthed the word danger through bloodied lips before the tree erupted in a shower of sparks and flames. Above the jittering, roaring bonfire rose the dark body of an antlered god. It lifted one ebony arm and pointed to Will with sharp finger.
"Insssssane." It hissed at him, passing judgment. Will sank to his knees as the roar of a colossal wave drowned out all else. He felt himself being swept up and crushed against the hard body of the god, his arms trapped in its cruel embrace.
"Will! Will, can you hear me?" Hannibal shook the sweat-soaked form in his arms. Moments earlier he had been taunting himself with images of sinking his teeth into the softly rounded buttock of Will Graham when he heard moans and then a scream erupt from the guest room where Will slept. Without a thought he ran to the other room where he found his friend thrashing in a sweaty frenzy on the bed. He scooped Will up into a sitting position and his head lolled back, the silvery crescents of his eyes glistened wetly in the light of the full moon outside the window. Hannibal shook him again, and Will gasped a lungful of air, letting out another tearing scream before starting to shudder uncontrollably. Hannibal had a thought: maybe this was the end, maybe Will had reached his conclusion. He held tightly to the jerking body on the bed a moment longer. It was either time to save him or let him die.
Hannibal walked swiftly down the hall to the bathroom where he kept his pharmaceuticals and grabbed a syringe and the vial of Lorazepam. He paused, hand hovering over his leather scalpel case only a moment before reaching instead for the ibuprofen.
Back in the guest room, Will had gone rigid on the bed. Quickly Hannibal found the vein and pushed the plunger, flushing the drug into Will's bloodstream. He stroked Will's hair back from his forehead and felt the heat emanating from him. He sat in the dark, watching.
Soon there was a noticeable softening to Will's body and his breathing evened out. Hannibal clucked to himself; it would definitely have been the end this time. What a farce this was.
Will's eyelids fluttered and opened a sliver.
"Will, you had a seizure. Do you know where you are?"
"In your spare room… I'm… I think I might be sick." He coughed and tried to sit up. Hannibal shook his head.
"The nausea will pass. We need to get that fever down." He helped Will sit against the pillows and reached for the half-empty glass of water on the bedside table.
"Please take this." He placed two pills into Will's limp hand. Will gulped down the water and swallowed the pills. After a few minutes his grey-blue eyes travelled down Hannibal's dark form on the bed.
"Hannibal. You're naked," Will laughed.
"So I am, Will," Hannibal chuckled. The gravity of the situation would have to wait until morning. For the time being, Will was alive.
"I feel strange. Sort of dopey. What did you give me?" Will rubbed sleepily at his hair. "I had a nightmare."
He looked down at the borrowed white t-shirt he was wearing. It was soaked through; Hannibal could see the smooth planes of Will's chest through it. Will smiled a little lopsidedly and started pulling at the wet material. Hannibal helped him get the shirt over his head, noticing once more just how lean Will's body was. The skin on his side was supple and unscarred; it slid easily, thinly caressing the sculpted muscle underneath. The crook between neck and shoulder was deep and inviting; Hannibal resisted the urge to slide his thumb along that fine, slick collarbone.
"Mon lapin," he murmured. Will frowned for a second, but Hannibal just patted his shoulder and stood. Will rested his head back on the damp pillow, eyelids heavy and his colour already better.
"Sleep, Will. I will see you in the morning." Hannibal left the door open a crack and padded back to his own sanctuary. He lay supine against his pillows, thoughts of Will heavy and present in his mind. This was unusual and, honestly, a little disturbing. Hannibal was extremely well-versed in his own pathology, his own modus operandi, and this wasn't part of it. How did the old aphorism go? "This will only end in tears?" or, perhaps in this case, blood.
Dawn was just colouring the sky when Hannibal was awoken by the light tread of bare feet on the Moroccan rug. He peered through the greyish gloom at the shape of Will Graham standing half-naked and uncertain in his room.
"I just wanted to thank you," he said to Hannibal, gesturing towards the door behind him, "for everything you're doing for me. I think you might be the only thing keeping me alive." He paused and added "I'm sorry. I couldn't sleep."
Standing there with one arm across his chest, clasping the elbow of the other, Will seemed younger than he was. Hannibal was sharply interested in this new flavour of vulnerability. Maybe Will was projecting some form of… unconscious yearning. An idea bloomed red in Hannibal's mind.
"I don't think you should be standing, Will. In fact I think it's best if you sat down right here." He pointed to the side of the bed and swung his legs over the other side, reaching for the silk robe hanging from the door of the teak armoire. Will sat down and averted his eyes while Hannibal slid his arms through the sleeves and tied the belt at his waist. He left the room, coming back moments later with the syringe and vial.
"I think that enough time has passed that I can give you another small dose. It will reduce the chance of another seizure." Hannibal inserted the tip of the needle into the vial and measured out 2 mg into the body of the syringe. Even another 4 mg was safe, but he wanted Will amenable, not asleep.
The needle slid once again easily into Will's vein. His sudden exhale was the only sound other than the ticking of the clock in the hallway. Hannibal thumbed down on the cotton ball as he pulled out; Will put two fingers on it, flexed his arm and sighed.
Hannibal watched in curious silence as Will's eyes took in his surroundings for the first time. Unlike the calm serenity that graced the rest of Hannibal's house, his bedroom was a riot of colour and chaos. Even in the hazy, uncertain light of early morning the red walls seemed to pulse. Here hung an array of masks from time immemorial next to some ancient weapon; there, the skull of a large deer hung in an empty gilt frame. The floor was strewn with thick hand-woven carpets; the walls, with elaborate tapestries. Behind Hannibal's heavily carved four-poster bed, the Bacchian rites fresco from the Villa of the Mysteries was expertly reproduced along the wall.
"Do you like it?" Hannibal asked. Will's eyes moved up to the ceiling where a huge heavy-framed mirror was held at an angle by thick gold chains. His eyebrows shot, up and he quickly looked down at the small cotton lump he was holding.
"I think you can let that go now," said Hannibal. "You're going to begin feeling a little light-headed so I suggest you lie back here." He gestured to one of the pillows propped against the ornate headboard. Will frowned slightly but did as he was told. He peered at some of the carvings on the post closest to him.
"I know this," he said. "It's from Dante's Inferno, right?" He ran his hand over the recumbent body of the titan in chains. Hannibal nodded, his dark eyes on Will's hand caressing the carved wood. Once again, he was feeling strange and unsure. It was like he was too close to his prey to see the kill. He looked down at the palm of his own hand, larger than Will's and deeply lined. It would be much easier to just clamp that hand over Will's neck and simply forget about everything else. It was becoming complicated. The calm in Hannibal's mind was being pressed into unnatural shapes.
When he looked up he was met by Will's characteristic frown, the one he used when he was deciphering a crime scene; reliving each murder had left a permanent mark on Will's face in the deep creases between those dark brows. As they stared at each other in the wan light, Hannibal clenched his jaw and shifted his shoulders, feeling the strange tightness in his chest race around his back and up to where it squeezed the hair at the back of his head. His pulse felt fast and light, and his blood was full of crackling electricity. Then suddenly, without a trace of hesitation, Will reached out and cupped the back of Hannibal's head and drew him forwards. The shock that went through his body when their lips met opened a pit in Hannibal's stomach. He stiffened and started to pull away, but Will's other hand came up around his back and pressed into him. Hannibal felt stunned as the younger man's lips pulled at his own, the tip of his tongue questing for an opening into that dangerous mouth. Before he had a chance to react, Will's mouth relinquished his and hovered mere millimetres away, close enough that Hannibal felt the heat of Will's whisper.
"This is what you wanted to take from me, wasn't it?"
Something in his tone made Hannibal push Will away, nearly falling off the bed in the process. Every nerve in his body was sparkling with cold fire, his breath ragged. Danger.
He mumbled "I'm sorry Will. You took me by surprise. Give me a moment."
Without looking at the bed, he left the room and staggered down the hallway to the kitchen. The travertine countertop was cool against his forearms as he leaned over and placed his face in his hands. He was baffled. Why was reacting this way? He felt foolish and… angry. Angry at himself? Or angry at Will for presuming?
Presuming what? Will was right…
After a few deep breaths he felt his world right itself once more; however, when he looked up and saw that Will had followed him, he tensed. He was standing a few feet away just staring at him with that look; the corners of his mouth were turned down (disgust? pity?) and that frown was etched once more on his grim face.
"Drug me and fuck me, right Hannibal?"
In an instant Hannibal had his hands on Will's slighter frame and smashed him against the double doors of the refrigerator. He felt Will's body go momentarily limp, and he heard himself growl, his teeth bared in a fierce rictus. Yes… one could starve on rabbit alone, but this was only one meal, after all.
This is only the first chapter - the rest is rated K+ or Explicit so lives at AO3. You can find the link under my user profile here at Fanfiction or by searching for eatthebunny on AO3 - Archive of our Own.