"Are those bite marks?" Will squats down in fascination, his hand reaching forward automatically but not quite touching. Hesitating, though he's not sure why.
This close to the ground, all the horrid smells of the alleyway assault his senses – urine, spoiled food, mud, spilled alcohol. There was only one smell that was missing. Blood. There was no blood, even though the victim had two gaping puncture wounds in his neck.
Will leaned closer, distantly aware of Jack leading the others away. His blue latex covered fingers hovered over the dead man's skin. His thumb brushed against the man's neck roughly two inches below the two large puncture wounds. There was a light impression there, barely visible. His thumb ran back and forth over it. He could barely feel the dents through the latex but his mind supplied the sensation.
Those were teeth marks, which meant that the puncture wounds were part of a bite, a very powerful bite. The fangs – and that's what they were, not just overly large canines, but actual fangs – had torn deep into the victim's neck, worrying at the puncture point to draw out more blood. He imagined what it would feel like, sinking his teeth into a man's throat and letting blood rush over his tongue, filling his mouth and flowing down his throat.
What would blood taste like, warm and raw? He swallowed and blood ran like a river down his throat, thick like hot chocolate full of copper with a sharp tang. It pooled warm in his belly.
It would take a while to drink all of a man's blood, though this attacker hadn't gotten all of it. That was impossible, unless you hung the victim upside down, draining him out like a butchered pig. This was something different.
His eyes trailed past the victim to the wall. They'd started there, the two of them pressed against the stones. He imagined writhing against the victim, teeth gentle at first, teasing, tempting. There was no signs of a fight but there were signs of something else. Clothes askew, hair tousled, lips bruised. This had started consensual and then ended up something much more.
Will stood and turned stared down at the victim, his mind slowly sorting all the tiny details he noticed – tight clothes, gelled hair, lack of lipstick smear – and put them together for the final piece of the puzzle.
He walked away from the body. Jack stood waiting at the entrance to the alley, hands in his pockets, the light rain misting his clothes. Will met his eyes for the barest of seconds before looking away, staring at the wall.
"We're looking for a man. Strong, attractive, probably tall. He has an attraction to men and thinks he's a vampire."
Jack raised an eyebrow. A vampire? Jack's face seemed to say.
Will shrugged. He had no explanation. When Jack called him, it was never about just one murder. That wasn't what Will was for. He was meant to catch multiple murderers. Serial killers, and their latest case met that.
Their murderer had left a string of bodies along the East Coast, each one weeks apart, each one a male, late twenties to thirties, attractive, found murdered near gay bars. All with the same puncture wounds. All drained of blood.
Will hadn't been the first to speculate about vampires. It was written all over the case files, not so much in the words themselves but in what was very carefully not said.
They were all thinking it, he was just the first to voice the name.
"So you think we have a gay vampire?"
Will shrugged again. He needed to look at the case files. "That or someone's carrying around a two-prong fork and something to suck out blood with. The intended effect is still the same."
"Why is he killing then? Why like this?"
Will stared back at the body. It lay face down on the ground, crumpled, as if he'd fallen that way and the killer had just left him, like a discarded juice box, sucked dry and devoid of worth.
"He's feeding from them."
A shudder ran through Will, partially from the cold, partially from unwelcome memories of the Minnesota Shrike. Not again. He couldn't deal with something like this again.
"I have to go," Will said, his voice weak.
Jack didn't stop him.
"You believe this man is a vampire?" Hannibal's smooth tone washed over Will, calming him in a way that Will found both comforting and strange. Will's hands stilled on the folder in front of him. It took a small effort to set it down, to put it away in the stack that surrounded him, but he forced himself to and then lifted his gaze, away from description after description of cold-blooded murder to meet Hannibal's eyes.
He let their gaze meet once, for a brief second, and then looked away.
He didn't know why Hannibal's voice had such a profound effect on him, or why Will trusted him so much. He could barely stand to look anyone else in the eye and yet he did for Hannibal. He wanted to look at Hannibal, and to have Hannibal see him. Maybe it was the way Hannibal avoided judgment. There was no censure in his tone or his gaze, no hint that he thought Will's theory was a joke. Talking to Hannibal was like talking to his own reflection, adding no emotion beyond what Will brought on his own.
Will dipped his head, letting his hands run through his hair. He needed to shower. Faint traces of oil rubbed against his fingers. "That's what it looks like. I mean, not a Dracula type vampire, that's ridiculous, but a man that thinks he's one. He probably had dental surgery to make himself into one. Bought into all the old lore and myth. He's trying to recreate vampires."
"You think there's more to it than that."
It wasn't a question. Will was so used to seeing through people that he sometimes forget there was a scant few who could see through him. Those were the people Will had the most trouble reading. Alana. Hannibal. They saw too much. It was a strange sort of intimacy, one he allowed implicitly by continuing his association with them.
He looked up then, meeting Hannibal's steady gaze once more. He did more than allow their association. He sought Hannibal out. He came to Hannibal when the jumbled thoughts in his head didn't make sense. Sometimes Hannibal came to him, like now, when his thoughts were too scattered to focus. Hannibal would always appear, like he had a sixth sense and could predict when Will needed him.
"Yeah," Will admitted softly. "But that's insane, right?"
He'd looked into the types of teeth a pretend vampire could get. All the ones available on the market, all of the ones that were practical to get, would have either snapped off or been unable to penetrate as deeply as they'd seen so far. They had five victims to compare and contrast, all drained more thoroughly that a puncture to the neck would explain.
No, the size of teeth needed to do this would be too large for daily use, too strong to be detachable. They'd be like a sabertooth's canines, huge and powerful and dangerously obvious.
"Do you think you're insane?"
Yes, he wanted to say but not in this. His insanity didn't make up bodies, didn't confuse the evidence.
"No," he said instead. "It just doesn't make sense."
"Perhaps there's something lacking. A detail you've missed."
Will shook his head and fell back in his chair, letting his weight carry it as far back as it would go. He stared up at the ceiling. He hated the ceilings in the FBI office. They reminded him too much of hospitals, clinical and clean.
For a moment, he thought longingly of the couch in Hannibal's office. The couch was stiff and uncomfortable, but Will found it relaxing in a way that even his own bed couldn't compete with. It make him think of Hannibal, like he was leaning into Hannibal, his body relying on Hannibal for security like his mind currently did. That sort of touching wasn't allowed, would not be tolerated, Will was certain, despite Hannibal's seeming warmth towards him.
He reminded himself that Hannibal had been the one to initially pursue Will, trying to find a way into Will's psyche. He'd burrowed much deeper than that, deeper than either of them intended, and like a barbed knife Hannibal was stuck there now, his presence a sharp pain trapped in Will's chest.
Will exhaled slowly. What had he missed? He sat up slowly and stared down at the files again. "There has to be something more. Something I'm missing."
"Maybe you aren't looking in the right place?"
Will stared up at Hannibal, blinking slowly. An idea was taking form in his head, and he needed to act on it. He stood, chair banging against the wall as it rolled too quick away from him.
"I know where to look."
He left the room without looking back. Hannibal didn't follow. He didn't need to. When Will needed him, one of them would find the other. That was the way it always was, the way he hoped it always would be.
"Ninety two cases," Will said as he slammed a three-inch thick folder of papers down on Jack's desk. Jack's eyebrows rose to dangerous heights. Will pointed to the stack. "That's just from the last five years. I imagine I'd find more if I kept digging."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Have you slept, Will?"
Will waved a hand through the air. Sleep was irrelevant. He was on to something here. He'd found a pattern. He flipped open the folder and unfolded the map that lay on top of the stack. "There was a string of ten here," Will traced a line across Arkansas to Louisiana, "and then eight here," Vegas to San Francisco, "and twelve here." He circled a cluster in New England with his finger. Those were only three of the lines marked on the map. It looked like he'd attacked the map with colored pencils, but each point was neatly numbered and labeled. "Each of those lines has a pattern, each dot is a murder or missing person."
"You're including missing persons in this?"
"Just because there isn't a body doesn't mean they didn't die."
Jack stared down at the map. His face was carefully blank, like it was whenever Jack wanted to tread carefully around Will. "And you think one person did all of this."
He shook his head. His hands were shaking. Lack of sleep did that. He felt like his nerves were on fire but the implications of what he'd found were huge. He couldn't sleep, not when he was so close to figuring it out. "No. That's impossible. There are more."
Jack stared at him. "More what?"
"More vampires." He said the word without hesitation, and in retrospect, it was that certainty, that conviction in his tone that had made Jack sigh.
"Go home, Will."
"Go home." Jack closed the folder and tucked it away in a drawer in his desk. "Go home and get some sleep."
"But..." Will gestured towards where Jack had hidden the folder away. "There's vampires." It had seemed outrageous at first, ludicrous, but the evidence was all there. It was the only thing that made sense.
"I think you need to take a break, Will. Get some sleep. Exercise with your dogs. I'll get someone to cover your classes for the next two weeks."
Will flinched. His hands twitched forward, wanting to reach for the folder, to pull it out and show Jack the evidence, but he stopped himself. He sighed and ran a hand over his face.
Maybe Jack was right. He was tired. He wasn't thinking straight.
"I'll go through this and get back to you. We'll go over it after you've had a break."
He didn't want a break, but he couldn't say that. "Fine," he said instead. It was the only thing he could say.
He knew he was right. He was sure of it, but there was no way he was going to convince Jack of that when he was a sleep-deprived mess. They'd come back to it and Will would prove to Jack that he was right.
He was right. Their killer was a vampire, and Will was going to prove it.
He didn't go home.
He found himself outside of the bar without really meaning it. He wasn't even dressed appropriately. His clothes hung loose on his frame. There was dirt on his shoes. He went inside anyways. The beat of the music pounded in his head, even though the words themselves were obscured by too much noise. There were too many people, too many bodies pressed close together. Sweat and skin and easy touches. All things Will avoided.
He slunk through the crowd, winding his way through the mass of bodies to the bar. There were tables lining the walls, full of shadowy corners, exactly what he needed right now. He was born for shadows.
He ordered two beers and took a table, alone except for his own misery and self-loathing.
His eyes trailed over the crowd, weighing and measuring the men he saw there. Some he found attractive, at least in the physical aspect, but none made it past that. They were pretty, empty shells, worth an appreciative glance and nothing more. He wasn't even sure why he was here. What part of his subconscious thought that this was what he needed? He didn't. He needed a bed and sleep, just like Jack said.
He didn't want to sleep.
He didn't want to be alone.
"Is this seat taken?"
Will followed the hand grasping the chair opposite him up to a handsome face. Dark hair curled around the sides of the man's sharply chiseled face. His forehead was broad, his entire head big, like a boulder perched atop his impressively muscled body. His clothes hid most of it – designer clothes, cut and tailored to fit him, expensive – but Will could see the way his muscles bunched the fabric as he moved.
He shook his head and waved his beer. "No. Take it."
Instead of dragging the chair away to another table like Will assumed, the man sat down. Will raised an eyebrow and downed the remains of his first beer, preparing to make a hasty exit if needed. He didn't rise, though he thought about it. He should leave, but he wasn't.
"Expecting someone?" The man nodded towards the second beer, so far untouched.
"No." Will wrapped his hand around the neck and stood. "Excuse me." He wasn't in the right state of mind for this. He wasn't in the right state of mind for anything, not even sleep.
Vampires. How had he let himself believe that vampires existed? He'd been so sure in the moment, but now he doubted, just like Jack doubted.
The man held out a broad hand, halting Will's exit. "No. I'm sorry. I'm bothering you. I'll leave."
Will frowned. His mouth hung open and he closed it slowly as he sank back into his chair. "That was incredibly rude of me."
"Rude of us both," the man said, standing. Will couldn't help but watch the man's teeth. They were white and even, canines barely even pronounced. Not a vampire.
The man started to turn. "Wait." The man turned back. Will hesitated, then pushed the words out. "You don't need to leave."
A smile spread across the man's face, softening the sharp edges and turning it into something strangely compelling. Will stared, then realized he was staring and turned his gaze down to the table as he took a swig of beer.
"You came here alone?"
"Looking for company? You're not going to find it hiding in the shadows."
He didn't know what he was looking for. No, he did, but it was stupid. He was looking for a vampire serial killer, but he couldn't say that. "It seems to have found me, regardless." The words felt strange as they worked their way out of his mouth. He was flirting, awkwardly, but the man didn't seem to mind. His smile widened.
"So it has. What's your name?" The way he spoke reminded Will of Hannibal. They shared a similar air of confidence and mystery, like a puzzle where all the pieces were pure white.
Will snorted. He couldn't help it. He wiped beer from his lips and raised a hand. "Sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
Armand waved a hand airily. He was still smiling. "I get that a lot. It's a pretentious name, I know, but I'm afraid my parents hold the blame for that."
"I'm sorry," Will said again. He was smiling too now. It was easier than it should be. He shouldn't be drinking when he hadn't slept. He shouldn't be, but he always did, just usually not in public.
"If you truly wish to apologize, perhaps you'd share a drink with me. Something better than that swill." Armand cast a disparaging eye at Will's beer.
He shouldn't, but memories of Hannibal came to him then and of lying on Hannibal's couch. Armand reminded him too much of Hannibal. It was dangerous to substitute one man for another but at the moment, Will couldn't stop himself. He smiled a little more and nodded. "I can do that."
"I'll be right back," Armand said, his words holding dark promise.
They stumbled up the steps of Will's house, hands clinging to each other, lips moving against lips and tongues chasing tongues. Will was hard and Armand's body was tight against his, leaving him no room, no escape. He allowed it, giving in to the wants of his body, letting Armand push and pull him up the stairs.
They didn't make it through the door, but stopped instead on the porch. The siding dug into Will's back but he didn't care. Armand's mouth moved over his chin, trailing kisses down to his neck. Will gasped, his voice sounding too loud as it cut through the still quiet of the night. There was no light here, not this far out in the country, leaving them twisting together in uninterrupted dark.
No one would see him if he wrapped his legs around Armand's hips. His hands moved over the muscles in Armand's arms as he lifted Will easily and ground their hips together. Will's head fell back, tilting to the side, and Armand sucked a bruise into Will's neck.
He wanted. He wanted so much. It was such a strange feeling, not new to him but unfamiliar. It was a sensation he didn't allow himself to give into often. He didn't trust himself not to go too far, to mess things up. If he kept his mouth shut, it would be okay. They were just bodies, sliding against each other, rutting in desperation. His fingers dug into Armand's shoulders, saying all he needed to about his lust, his need.
Armand pushed a hand between them, fumbling with the button on Will's pants until he was diving in. Armand's hand closed around Will's erection and it wasn't until minutes later, when Armand paused in stroking Will to pull himself out and stroke them both together, that Will realized that there were teeth in his neck. He hadn't even felt it. He could barely feel it now, too wrapped in the pleasure of Armand's body pressing into him and Armand's cock rubbing against Will's. Armand's teeth were in deep. He could feel the faint tug as they pulled against his neck every time Armand thrust his hips forward.
He forced himself to focus on his neck, to ignore the pleasure building in his stomach, pooling warm and tight inside of him while the rest of him grew cold. His mind felt slow, sluggish. Lips moved around the teeth in his neck. A tongue caressed his skin. Armand was sucking, no drinking from his neck. Like a vampire.
"No." The word came out as a whisper instead of the intended shout. He pushed against Armand but his body was week. His head hung loosely to the side. A wave of dizziness washed over him.
He was right. He'd been right. Vampires were real. He wasn't crazy and maybe now Jack would believe him, after they found Will's drained body on his porch.
Armand lowered Will's legs to the floor and tucked them both away. Armand was still hard, erection pressing against his pants where Will had gone soft. When he pulled away, Will got a good look at blood coating his lips. Armand smiled as he licked it away.
How many days would it take for someone to find his body? How long would he be left decomposing in the open air?
Armand stepped away and Will fell, his head hitting the wood hard. His eyes stared vacantly at his own lawn, at the black figure rushing forward. Armand didn't see it. He grinned down at Will but the grin faded as the black figure ducked his head. Blood spattered hot against Will's cheek as horns burst like spears through Armand's chest. They lifted Armand in the air, as easily as if Armand were made of paper. Armand gasped, choking, suffocating.
The antlers pulled out. Armand dropped, staggered, collapsed to his knees next to Will on the porch with a look of shock on his face. The black figure rose above them. Antlers scraped the roof of Will's porch. The figure curled one hand in Armand's hair, its long fingers coiling tight. It reached down with its other hand, giving Will a close look at the sharp claws at the end of each finger as it gently pushed Will's head to the side.
Then the monster's free hand slashed up, slicing through Armand's neck like scissors through tissue paper. Blood sprayed over Will, some of it landing in Will's open mouth. The figure tilted Armand forward, holding him so that Armand's blood fell into Will's mouth. Armand was a pitcher and Will was the cup Armand was poured into.
He wanted to vomit but he couldn't.
"Drink," a familiar voice ordered. Will swallowed reflexively, his body working without prompting to keep him from drowning in blood. The blood warmed him as it went down, chasing away the chill that had fallen over him. "Drink, Will."
He had no choice but to obey.
When he woke again, Will noticed three things. He was in his own bed. Blankets had been draped over the windows to block out the light. He was not alone.
He blinked, turning his face away from the windows. Even with the light muted, it felt too bright. "What..." The word came out gravelly and harsh. His throat felt sore.
"I'm afraid the sensitivity will last for a few days." Hannibal's voice was like a cool cloth against overly warm skin. "Thankfully it's not permanent, otherwise your work with the FBI would be severely compromised."
Will risked the sun's glare to squint at Hannibal. "What are you talking about?"
"Vampirism. An unfortunate affliction, but it was the only way to save you. You will be unable to face the sun for a few days while your body adjusts."
He frowned. "What? Vampires?" His head felt like it was stuffed full of cotton, but part of Hannibal's speech stuck out. "Save me?"
"What do you remember of last night?"
It was as if Hannibal's words opened the door to his memories. He remembered. The bar. Armand. The blood. The creature that had saved him.
Hannibal nodded once and then shivered. His skin seemed to twist into itself, turning black as his frame lengthened, growing gaunt around the middle whiles his limbs stretched out. A rack of sharp, black antlers rose into the air above him, growing from nothing and stretching out like the limbs of a twisted and deadly tree. Black eyes met and held Will's gaze before Hannibal slowly shifted back.
Will shivered and curled slightly into the blankets covering him. "What are you?"
Hannibal regarded him for a long moment before speaking. "My people are called wendigo. It may not seem like it at the moment, but I swear I mean you no harm. I only wish to help you."
"Help me?" He couldn't form proper words today, not yet. His brain was too scrambled, too overwhelmed with new input. There was laughter bubbling inside of him, but it wasn't the good kind. It was the kind that ended in padded walls and straight-jackets.
"With your new condition. You will need assistance, if you wish to avoid... complications."
Will frowned. He sat up slowly. None of this was making sense. He wasn't... he wasn't a vampire, wasn't what Hannibal said. Was he? His body was sore. His limbs tingled with pins and needles, like he'd laid still for too long. Vampires were creatures of the dead. He didn't feel dead, but he felt different. He was different and Hannibal knew more than he'd ever let on. "I'm not a vampire."
"I'm afraid you are." There was no hesitancy in Hannibal's voice, not even a trace of doubt.
He was telling the truth. "How?"
"The other vampire bit you." There was an edge of anger to Hannibal's words. His expression shifted, just a tiny bit. If Will didn't know any better he'd say it was... possessive. "He drained you. I fed his blood back to you. The exchange of blood forms a bond, turning his power into yours. It brought you back from death."
Will looked away then, stared down at his hands. His skin was pale, like when he got too cold in the winter, when he forgot to turn on the heat. He didn't feel cold. He felt tired, like he'd run a great marathon. Or died and came back a vampire, apparently.
"What kind of complications are there?" Will said as he finally turned back to Hannibal. He wasn't ready to accept the change, not fully, but he was ready to listen.
Hannibal shrugged. "We are monsters, you and I. You will find that your new condition comes with certain dietary restrictions. It's not all limitations though. As you grow stronger, you'll find an increase in strength and speed, heightened senses, even a new insight into the animals around you."
Will glanced across the room to his dogs. They didn't seem at all disturbed by having a vampire and a wendigo in their midst. They snored softly, flopped into the few spots of warm sunlight that escaped from the windows.
"Not those," Hannibal said. "Humans."
He frowned. "Humans aren't animals."
Hannibal quirked an eyebrow.
Will sighed. "Yes, technically, but-"
"Superior creatures always consider those below them as lesser. Where humans think little of a cow or a chicken before consuming it, so are humans mere food for us. It's easier if you think of them not as people, but as animals."
Will recoiled. He couldn't... He didn't believe what Hannibal was saying. "You mean... you want me to... what? Eat people?" He shuddered.
Hannibal merely shrugged, as if the thought was barely worth consideration. "It's a necessity of the condition. You will have no choice. Denying yourself will only make the hunger grow until you have no choice but to feed."
"Feed on what?"
Hannibal stood without answering, leaving Will with his thoughts. He heard Hannibal open the fridge and then a pan clattered against his stove.
Food. That's all he had been to Armand, him and the other bodies. They were just food. He played back what Hannibal had said, about his 'affliction'. No wonder Hannibal hadn't immediately discarded Will's theory about the murders. He'd know. He'd known all along that the killer wasn't human, that this whole thing was outside the comprehension of the FBI.
Will wasn't trained to deal with the supernatural. He was out of his depth.
Hannibal returned with a mug in his hand. Whatever was in it smelled amazing. Will's mouth watered the second he caught the scent and he reached out even before Hannibal had finished offering it to him. His hands curled around the warm mug, pulling it to him. He looked down and froze.
Blood. There was blood in the mug, and he wanted it.
"Drink," Hannibal said, his voice dredging up memories from the previous night.
His hands shook. "I can't."
Hannibal placed a hand under the mug, steadying it. He pushed the cup up and Will's arms let him, raising it to his mouth. "You can. You must."
Hannibal guided the cup to Will's lips and he had no choice. He drank.
His eyes closed on the first sip and he had to choke back a moan. He'd never tasted anything so good. It flowed warm over his tongue, sweet like chocolate with a slight bitter edge. He didn't remember downing the mug, not even aware of drinking until Hannibal chuckled and pulled the mug away from his mouth. Will's tongue chased it, trying to lick the residue from the sides of the mug.
He blushed when he realized what he was doing and let Hannibal take the mug away. His resolve was nowhere near as strong as he'd thought it to be.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?"
Will frowned. He wanted more but he didn't want to admit it. He realized then that he was doomed. There was nothing that would compare to the taste of blood, nothing that would make him forget the craving he could feel building inside of him, only a low simmer for now but it would grow stronger the longer he left it. It would grow and grow and grow until it consumed him, turned him into the same kind of monster that had attacked him last night.
"Is that what you eat?" Will asked. "Blood?" He'd seen Hannibal eat real food. He'd eaten Hannibal's food and there had barely been a hint of blood in it, at least never more than a medium rare steak.
Hannibal shook his head and grinned then, showing off his teeth in a way that sent a shiver down Will's spine. "No, my taste isn't for the fluid of life, but rather the meat of it."
Will stilled as his mind processed the words. Meat. Humans. Flesh.
He jerked backwards, almost falling off the bed. The blankets tangled and he threw them off of him, ripping one in his haste to get away. "Oh, God. Fuck." His hand shot out to the bedside table. He needed it to steady himself, to keep from falling. "You eat people. You've been eating them. You..." Hannibal kept smiling. He didn't move from his chair, didn't even flinch. "You're the copycat. All those people... You ate them."
Hannibal's face changed then, shifting into the tight, sharp grin of a killer. It was like Will didn't recognize Hannibal anymore. He didn't recognize the parody of the man sitting before him.
"So did you."
Will barely made it to the bathroom before he threw up all the blood he'd just drank. He threw up until his stomach was empty, until even the bile was gone and he gagged on air. It wasn't enough.
Will remembered passing out in front of the toilet, blood and bile on his lips. When he woke, the ache was back, making every part of his body feel tense and sore. He was in a basement. It wasn't a normal basement, not like the one in Will's house, full of dusty boxes and power tools, but one designed for a killer. The floor was cement, with drains placed throughout. An array of chest freezers stood against the wall. They smelled.
He shouldn't be able to smell them, not from where he was chained on the other side of the room. They were closed tight, lids shut tight, but Will could still smell the meat inside. Only it wasn't the meat that called to him, that kept his eyes turning back to them, but rather the blood he could smell, trapped inside the meat, so far away.
His stomach rolled at the thought and he shuddered as the memory of swallowing down the mug of thick, warm blood filled his brain. He wasn't sure if it was a shudder of pleasure or horror. He thought it might be both.
The door opened. Will stiffened and backed away, pushing himself against the wall. Hannibal descended into the basement, a familiar mug in his hand. It was the same mug he'd served Will tea in, the last few times Will had been over. Now it held something very different.
Hannibal crossed the basement with slow, sure steps. He was confident here. This was his home after all, the room where he kept all his treasures, all of his kills before he ate them. Another shudder ripped through Will and he looked away as Hannibal stopped in front of him. Will didn't even think about fighting Hannibal. He was as weak as a newborn kitten compared to Hannibal's strength. If he wanted to fight Hannibal, to break free, then he'd need to feed, to drink what was in the cup.
He couldn't do that.
Hannibal's fingers brushed over Will's cheek, the gentleness of the touch at odds with the thick metal collar around Will's neck. Chains rattled as Will shifted away, though he ached to lean into the touch.
"Will you drink today?" Hannibal asked, the same question he'd asked Will every day for the last three days.
He shook his head. Hannibal sighed. "This is the easiest solution, Will. You should know that. You can feel the hunger by now? How strong is it?"
Will shifted further back, away from Hannibal. The hunger was like a monster living inside of his stomach, clawing at him, making his skin feel too tight, too small to contain him. He ached with hunger but he couldn't bring himself to drink, not now that he knew someone had died to provide it. Had Hannibal already eaten the donor, or were there parts, their meat still waiting in a freezer along the wall?
"You're forcing my hand, William. I wanted to spare you this."
Hannibal turned and walked away. For a moment, Will thought that would be it for the day. He found himself strangely disappointed. Usually Hannibal stayed longer, talking to him, explaining to him what being a vampire would mean, trying to coax him to drink. He should have realized that Hannibal never gave up easy.
When Hannibal returned, he didn't have the mug anymore, but rather a body slung over his shoulder. It was the body of a young woman, blonde and petite. Hannibal laid her gently on the floor, just at the edge of the reach of Will's chain. He could reach her if he tried but he stayed where he was, cowering. He didn't for a second think she was dead. Her breathing was a soft sigh against the cement floor, but her blood sang to him like a chorus of angels. It beckoned to him, pounding loud against her skin.
He felt fangs descend, reshaping his mouth into something foreign, something monstrous. He turned his face away.
Hannibal's fingers carded through Will's hair, petting him gently, like Will were a frightened dog. It was more reassuring than Will wanted it to be.
"I'm sorry it has to be like this," Hannibal said, his voice as soft as his touch.
Hannibal left Will alone then, the basement door locking behind him with a loud click.
Will couldn't help but stare at the girl. It took her hours to wake. Will didn't dare move. He wondered who she was and where Hannibal had found her. He wondered what had made Hannibal choose her, or if he even chose her at all or just grabbed the first person he could.
No, there was choice in this. She'd been picked for him. She meant something. She was supposed to mean something to him.
"Huh?" The girl groaned as she woke, pushing herself slowly off the floor. Her long hair hung down in her face, blocking her view until she sat up. She started, eyes widening as she caught sight of Will. Her eyes widened even more as she took in the blood on Will's clothes and the collar around his neck. "Holy shit, are you okay?"
She stood on wobbly feet and took a step towards him. The smell of fresh blood wafted around her like a strong perfume. He wanted to lunge at her, to sink his teeth in.
"Stop!" She obeyed. He turned his face away before she could see the way his fangs distorted his mouth. "Don't come near me. Please." The words came out slurred, distorted by his fangs.
"What... Are you okay?"
He shook his head and turned further into the wall. "I can't... I'm sick. You need to stay away."
She took a quick step back then, surprise and confusion mixing on her face. He watched out of the corner of her eye as she turned, finally taking in the rest of the room. She frowned. "Where are we?"
"A basement," he said. She shot him a brief, dark look and then ran for the stairs. He could have told her the door was locked but a small part of him hoped that she'd be able to get out anyways. He wanted her to escape.
As expected, the door was locked. It barely even rattled as she shoved at it, fighting with the lock. She struggled for several minutes, pounding against the wood and kicking at it, all to no avail. When she returned, her steps were heavy on the stairs, resigned.
"Whose basement are we in?"
He hesitated. Part of him didn't want to give Hannibal up. He reminded himself that Hannibal had chained him in his basement and kidnapped a girl, likely intending for Will to eat her. He wouldn't give Hannibal the satisfaction, as much as he desperately wanted to. "Hannibal Lector. Does the name mean anything to you?"
She shook her head. "No. Never heard of him."
She wasn't one of his patients, then. Or one of his students. He'd mentioned Hannibal's work in his lectures before.
"What did he do to you?"
Will laughed. He couldn't help himself. It must have come out a little wrong, a little twisted. She backed away, all the way to the freezers.
"Nothing," Will said at last. "He didn't do anything."
She stared at him for a long minute before finally pulling her eyes away. She looked around the room with obvious curiosity, taking in the pristinely clean tables, the locked cabinets, the shelves of cleaning supplies and plastic and chains. All the tools of a butcher and a serial killer. Finally, she turned to the freezers and opened the closest.
Whatever was inside must have been gruesome, because she screamed and fell backwards in a dead faint.
"What's your name?" The girl asked later. Night had fallen, or at least Will felt like it had. It was hard to tell time in the windowless basement. He was glad the girl had fallen on the other side of the room, because the hunger had only grown worse with each hour that passed. It was all he could think of and he had to concentrate on her question, to work out an answer before he could speak.
"Will." The word came out clipped. He didn't trust himself to leave his mouth open for long.
"I'm Julie," she offered. "Julie Newman." She stared up at the ceiling. "What do you think he wants with us?"
He didn't answer.
"Do you know him?"
He pressed his lips tightly shut.
She fell silent then, staring into the empty air.
He shivered. His skin felt cold and clammy, like he had a fever. He pressed his cheek against the cement. It felt like ice against his chin.
He must have fallen asleep. He remembered sinking into darkness and then there was a hand shaking him awake.
"Will? Will? Are you alright? You don't look so good."
He turned. He couldn't stop himself. She screamed. He lunged. His teeth sank into her neck. She struggled beneath him, screaming and thrashing but he didn't care. Blood flowed into his mouth, rich, thick blood, so full of life and flavor. This was nothing like the blood in the mug. This was better, hot and fresh. It made his skin burn and his head buzz. He was hard. He didn't even remember getting hard, but he was, grinding down into her body as she stilled beneath him.
The hand that had been pounding at his chest dropped to the floor. The screaming turned to a whimper, then a sigh, then nothing.
Fingers ran through his hair, brushing it away from his face. He raised his head, looking up at Hannibal with glazed eyes. The world felt too sharp, too bright. His skin felt over sensitized, like the touch of air alone was too much.
Hannibal bent down, his hand never leaving Will's head as he grabbed Julie by the hair and pulled her out from beneath Will. The hand in Will's hair shifted, caressing down his cheek and then resting under his chin. Hannibal pressed up lightly and that was all it took for Will to rise shakily to his feet. Hannibal stepped forward then, pushing into Will's space and pressing his lips against Will's.
Will opened his mouth and Hannibal pressed his tongue in. They shared the taste of blood between them. Hannibal licked at Will's mouth and then Will chased after, pulling the flavor of the blood back to him. One of his fangs scraped against Hannibal's tongue, bringing a burst of a strange, new flavor. That was Hannibal's blood. He'd tasted Hannibal's blood.
Hannibal pushed their hips together. He was just as hard as Will and just as eager.
Hands settled on either side of his pants, fingers curling around the waist and then Hannibal yanked, tearing the fabric in half. Will hissed as his erection was exposed to cool air. Then Hannibal's knuckles brushed against Will's erection as Hannibal unfastened his own pants, pulling his own cock out and Will couldn't think as Hannibal's hands gripped Will's ass tight and pulled.
His legs came around Hannibal's waist, the tattered remains of his pants hanging like loose flags from his ankles. Hannibal shifted them. He pulled his mouth away, breath ghosting across Will's chin as he sighed. Then Hannibal lifted Will and rolled his hips forward, pushing against Will's skin. He wasn't just pushing against him, he was pushing in, breaking past the tight ring of muscle that guarded Will's entrance and shoving in.
It hurt, just for a brief second. He felt like he was tearing and then reforming, his body reshaping itself around Hannibal's cock.
He'd killed someone. He'd murdered a girl, a poor, sweet, innocent girl and he didn't care. Not right then. He would later. He'd hate himself later, but right now he couldn't, not with her sweet, precious blood coursing through him, pooling warm in his belly. He was burning with need and want and Hannibal had supplied that. He'd given her to him, brought her for him, and now he was taking Will, fucking up into him just like Will had always fantasized about.
His head rolled back, resting against the wall. There was still a collar around his neck. Hannibal kissed it as he moved down Will's neck and across Will's shoulder. He was so thick inside of Will. He filled Will and with each thrust, it felt like he was pushing more of himself into Will, taunting the monster inside of him and drawing it out.
He wanted more. He wanted more blood, more pleasure, more of Hannibal. They were connected shoulder to hip but it wasn't enough. Then Hannibal bit him, teeth sinking deep, drawing blood and Will howled as he came. Hannibal sucked at his shoulder, licking at Will's skin even as the wound healed. Will felt the skin knit, pulling together until it was whole and clean. Hannibal placed a gentle kiss against the spot and then lowered Will's legs back to the floor.
Will slid down the wall as Hannibal stepped away. Hannibal tucked himself away, tugging at his clothes until he was perfect, unruffled as if they'd never had sex. His eyes gave him away. They burned as he stared at Will, passionate and possessive.
Hannibal bent down, pressing a chaste kiss against Will's closed lips.
Will couldn't move as Hannibal dragged Julie away. He put her on a plastic covered table and cut her clothes away, discarding the scraps of cloth into a trash bag. Will's stomach churned as he watched Hannibal neatly butcher Julie and pack away her parts in one of the freezers.
He didn't throw up this time. The blood stayed in his stomach, warming him even as disgust and self-loathing washed over him. Hannibal kissed him once more before leaving Will alone in the basement.
They would start over tomorrow, repeat the cycle over and over again until Will finally gave in to the monster he'd become.
It wouldn't take long.