The stiff pressure of Hannibal’s cavernous shower felt glorious. Glass bottles lined a recessed shelf. They contained hand-blended soaps and creams, undoubtedly from some European boutique. Unsure of the specific contents, he pumped large squirts of each in his palm, sniffing them to divine their purpose and testing their lather. He took his time, enjoying the sensation of recklessly using Hannibal’s things, watching his indulgences waste down the drain. When he was done, he wrapped a towel around his waist and peeked out of the bathroom door, still dewy and dripping.
The lighting in the room was rearranged; the overhead spotlights were turned down in favor of a few candles and several small lamps. Will swallowed. Hannibal emerged from the closet having divested himself of his blazer, waistcoat, and tie. His white shirt was neatly rolled to his elbows as he did when he was cooking.
“If you put on an apron, I’m leaving,” he deadpanned.
“Lay back down on your stomach, please.”
Will clutched at the terrycloth around him. “Why??”
“Tonight’s incident with Antonia is unsurprising, in my opinion. You were incarcerated in solitary confinement for months on end. After being deprived of stimuli for so long, your senses are in overdrive. Did your physician ever recommend massage therapy after Jack shot you?”
“Insurance wouldn’t cover it.”
“No matter. In your case I suggest trying massage, specifically of the Balinese variety, which has long been valued for its many restorative benefits. Deep tissue manipulation combined with reflexology and aromatherapy make it quite effective for relaxation.”
“You want to be my massage therapist now?”
“I’ll be anything you need me to be, Will. You know that.”
He resisted rolling his eyes. Hannibal offered two different jars of waxy paste for him to smell. Will inhaled and chose the one which was half-empty.
“Excellent selection. My favorite as well.”
An image of Alana between his sheets flashed up in his head. The scent of the pomade on Hannibal’s veined hands smoothing across heated curves, the tangle of legs and mouths. Will balked. “Nnn..no. I made a mistake. The other one.”
He looked into the offending jar, trying to understand Will’s poor reaction. “This is best for sore muscles. I prepared it myself and use it to help reduce lactic acid buildup after swimming.” This time Will envisioned Hannibal’s lithe body slicing through aqua water, twisting against the tile, gouts of blood splashing over the lip of the pool, clouds of crimson blossoming in pluming trails from his wrists.
“Fuck,” he muttered and dragged a hand over his face. Will glanced at the red scars on Hannibal’s wrists and had the strangest longing to taste them. “You’re right. My imagination is all over the place tonight. I appreciate your help.”
Hannibal guided him to where he wanted him on the bed, apologizing that he didn’t have a proper massage table on hand. Will startled when he felt firm hands on his shoulders. The massage wax heated under the friction of their combined skin and strong thumbs ran along his tense, ropey back. It felt heavenly. Of course Hannibal was a master at this too. He worked down the length of his spine, releasing the knots he found along the way. At his lumbar region, he lingered.
“You hold most of your anxiety in your lower back, Will.” He worked further into the contours of his sacrum and was rewarded when Will grunted in pleasure.
“May I take this off to work on your gluteal muscles and hamstrings?” His fingers rested at the edge of the towel. Will twisted around to gape incredulously at his masseur and flopped back down. “I assure you, this is standard massage practice.” Hannibal pulled aside the towel and dug into the sides of his ass. Will couldn’t suppress the groan of pleasure that erupted then.
“Is there any boundary that you haven’t trounced on with glee?” he wondered aloud.
“Boundaries are merely conventions. An accord between two parties. If you find this disagreeable, you need only say so.” Hannibal’s fingers splayed across the firm globes of his cheeks, pulling and squeezing. He traced the lines of the musculature he knew by heart, from the tip of the coccyx down the seam of Will’s backside. Opening him. Exposing him. Seeing him in ways no one else did. Will’s heart pounded in his chest and he sensed Hannibal could hear his breath quicken. He found himself spreading his legs wider and arching into the delicious touch. He thought of oysters again and impulsively wondered what he would taste like to Hannibal, were Hannibal to dip his head and further breach his body’s boundaries. Preferably with his tongue. The satin of the sheets and the musky aroma of the massage wax and the heat of roving hands electrified every nerve in his body. His cock swelled in need and pressed into the mattress.
As if on cue, Hannibal covered him up again and began working on loosening the tendons in his upper thighs. The jarring move felt like a rejection.
“Reality doesn’t quite match your idealizations of me I guess,” he said sheepishly. Not even Greek gods possessed asses like Hannibal drew. Will had found piles of sketches of himself depicted from every angle, but most preferably, from behind.
“No, indeed. My imagination is nowhere near as rich as yours. I much prefer reality.” Will was tempted to taunt his unexpected humility, but instead he chose to mirror it.
“Why do you draw me?”
“I should think that to be obvious. Botticelli himself would have wept to be presented with such a muse.”
“Do I amuse you, Dr. Lecter?”
“You are a fascinating creature. Your mind is unique.”
“We weren’t speaking of minds.” Hannibal chuckled and Will rolled over, carelessly draping the towel over his half-hard crotch. He crooked an arm under his head and took a moment to enjoy the slight fidgeting adjustments Hannibal was trying to make to keep his mask of composure in place. “You’ve got me right where you want me. Bare and pliable in your bed. Perhaps you’d like to try sketching me now. Since you prefer reality.”
“Your massage isn’t done.”
“Does it have a happy ending?” The course joke tumbled from his lips without consideration of any of its implications, both rude and suggestive.
Hannibal’s nostrils flared and he arched an eyebrow. “Would you like it to?”
Will could hardly believe he’d spoken so flippantly. Hannibal had eviscerated people for less. He was getting entirely lost in whatever game they were currently playing. “You are my therapist…and my friend.”
“Our friendship has many benefits, our therapy many facets. Tell me, Will. What sort of ending do you wish for us?”
He furrowed his brow. “One that doesn’t end in violence,” he whispered and was shocked at how truly he meant it.
“You spoke several weeks ago about fantasizing killing me intimately, with your hands. In this alternate version of events, have you imagined the intimacy of touch as well?”
Fuck. Will felt the blood rush to his cheeks and there was no hiding it. Of course he’d wondered what Hannibal was like sexually. He’d just thought of Hannibal eating his ass out, for chrissakes. Part of him had been disappointed not to discover the treasure trove of high-end kinky toys Hannibal undoubtedly had amassed.
“We often sexualize others as a way of disempowering them,” Hannibal continued, ignoring the way Will bloomed with guilty desire. “Objectification is a means of exerting control and expressing dominance. Is this an appeal for dominance or merely your way of fumbling into seduction?”
“If objectification is meant to control, then you are no less guilty than me. Your drawings speak volumes about your painstaking attempts to disempower me in strokes of charcoal and ink.”
“My drawings are attempts to capture the beauty I see in the world. To honor it.”
“To possess it.”
“In some small way, yes.”
Will pushed himself up on his elbows. Hannibal’s only reaction was to settle a hand on his knee. The tension in the room rested on a knife’s edge.
“You put me in a cage, Hannibal. When Chilton barred you from seeing me, did you feel like you’d lost control over your prized possession? Is that why you freed me?”
“You freed yourself, mongoose, when you tried to have me killed.”
Will shuttered. The scars on Hannibal’s wrists were angry and exposed. He reached over and touched the tender, raised flesh with a thumb. Hannibal allowed the caress, reached into it even.
“I thought…I could free myself from your influence. I doubt we will ever be truly free of each other.”
“We’ve changed each other in many ways. We dance a rather elegant pas-de-deux, if I may say so.”
“Where does this stop? We’re going to fucking kill each other, you know. I’m fairly certain that Jack is betting on that option as his plan B. He’s always suspected there was a killer inside me. Now he’s certain.”
Hannibal covered Will’s hand in his. “There are means of influence other than violence.”
Will swallowed hard and the gulf of possibilities spread out before them. The intensity of Hannibal’s unwavering gaze and the feel of his hands suggested everything and gave away nothing. “You didn’t answer my question, Will. Is this domination or seduction?”
“Yes, I think, is the answer to that. For the life of me I can’t tell where you end and I begin.”
“I think Jack thinks you’re his lure. He doesn’t realize you’re the only one who’s ever held the rod.”
“I know I’m my own man. I also know we’re dangerous. Wrong, even. I’m not sure you and I will ever be without violence.”
“Violence is merely passion transformed, molded, and directed. We could share many of our passions. Together.”
Will sat up fully, crowding Hannibal’s space, breath falling heavy.
“Is that what this is? An invitation?”
“It is if you want it to be.” At some point Hannibal’s hand had wound itself around Will’s neck and pulled him closer. Those amber eyes and that supple, forbidden mouth taunted him and he nearly kissed Hannibal before thinking better of giving himself away without striking his devil’s bargain.
“Stop sleeping with Alana Bloom. I know you’re doing it just to piss me off.”
Hannibal’s lips curled ever so slightly. “Certainly. Any other demands?”
“Yeah. Write your secretary a nice letter of recommendation and then fire her. I don’t want her lurking around us anymore. No more murder interns.” Other than me, Will nearly added.
“Consider it done. Your absence was not a void I could fill.”
“God your puns are terrible. Holding rods and filling voids. Fucking subtle, Hannibal.” Hannibal moved to capture his petulant mouth but Will shied from him. His lips hung just out of reach, the fruit of temptation begging to be bitten.
“One final request.”
“Anything you want, clever boy.”
“You can taste me, savor me, flavor my skin however you like with oils and colognes or whatever weird shit you enjoy…but let’s keep the consumption strictly metaphorical. I’m permanently off the menu.”
Hannibal gave him an indulgent look. “I would sooner eat my own heart than engineer your death or treat you like meat. You are mine. All of you. You always were.”
“And you are mine. Hook, line, and sinker.” A rising flush colored Hannibal’s knife blade cheekbones and he licked his lips in anticipation. “Now come here, Dr. Lecter. Let’s have that happy ending.”
“Rude boy,” Hannibal whispered and his blush deepened.
Will gave in to the pull that had drawn them together all along, two cataclysms in synchronous orbit. And when their mouths finally found each other and hands clutched at skin and moans filled the night, the heat of their passion set them alight and with them, lit the world on fire. Shirt buttons went flying, teeth bit to find bone, hard flesh sunk into any place which would yield. It was messy, slick with sweat and semen and saliva passed over and again with frenzied urgency. This was not the polite lovemaking of two strangers but the alchemical marriage of elements separated too long in the cosmic dust. Will doubted anyone had ever fucked or been fucked so desperately before. They were reckless for each other, Hannibal thoroughly unhinged, smashing through lamps and furniture to only exist for the other. It was a design of their own making, a mutual seduction by dark dreams and fevered hunger, sealed by the horror of insatiable need and intimacy. It felt inevitable, fated – and right.
When he woke the next morning in tangled limbs and sheets binding him to his love-bitten, muss-haired lover, he wondered why they ever wasted time pretending it wasn’t always about this. It would only ever be about this, their ever-changing transformation, evolving into the other, elevating themselves through each other’s undying passion. It was beautiful.
“William,” Hannibal said, clearing his hoarse throat, eyes still closed. “I have a gift that I’ve been meaning to give you for some time now.”
“Something to celebrate our first date with?”
Hannibal lolled his head to the side and breathed in the soft essence of Will’s neck. “Oh I’d say we’re well past courtship, dear. Call it an early wedding gift.”
Will’s surprise and pleasure stretched into an embarrassed grin. “What is it?” he asked, more than a little breathless.
“Not what. Who.”
“Abigail, of course. She’s been waiting for us this entire time.”
“Gave her a new life, my darling. We all have new lives awaiting us. But first I think I’ll make us some breakfast.”