A Complex Arrangement
Summary: Will pieces together some critical clues about Hannibal’s past. Of course they deal with their issues in “totally healthy” ways. There is shouting, handcuffing, porn, and ridiculous Victorian levels of flower metaphor and fluff.
The rhythmic caress of nimble fingers massaging his scalp felt heavenly. Will was a natural shampooist.
“I look forward to the day when I can reciprocate,” Hannibal said lazily. “I derive great pleasure from this particular activity. And you do have such lovely Botticelli curls.”
Will gave a noncommittal hum, intently focused on his task, trying to contain the foam and water to the head hanging over the bucket.
Hannibal’s mind wandered, first through the Uffizi galleries, then down the alleys of Florence, then up the stairs of the Fell’s Firenze pied-à –terre flat. “Have I ever told you that I often considered drowning Bedelia?”
The fingers froze on his skull. “You washed Bedelia’s hair?”
His eyes flew open. “Forgive me. I spoke carelessly. The two thoughts were in no way connected.” But it was already too late. There was no deceiving the empath when he could see the puzzle pieces. Hannibal had let his ease lull him into inattentiveness. The error was ugly and terribly pedestrian.
“The fuck they aren’t connected. You washed Bedelia’s hair? Watched her bathe? While you played house together in fucking Italy? I remember that god damn bathroom. I was there with that lying little ice queen….right…right before you tried to eat my brain!” The chair scraped loudly against the floor as Will pushed away.
“Will, please,” Hannibal begged.
Will’s features cycled rapidly through a set of emotions as the realization dawned on him. “My god. Of course. She suggested it, didn’t she? Of course she did!” He was growing frantic. “I bet she had you convinced it would be therapeutic!”
His mouth contorted and his eyes shifted and glazed as the pendulum swung. Once. Twice. Three times. He began to narrate the scene with damning precision.
“I trigger you with exacting purpose. I live in your web at the sidelines. I despise that I share it with someone else. But I know your threads. And I pull juuuust the right ones. Eat your love, Hannibal. Eat your feelings like…like the first time.” Will shook as he forced himself out of the vision, refusing to allow it to continue. He was thoroughly rattled.
“Will, that was the past. We don’t have to live in the shadows of our worst days. Let us focus on making the best of them.”
Will was shaking in fury. He worked his jaw and pointed an accusatory finger at him. “She used her name, didn’t she? To set you off? That is how she did it.”
Hannibal swallowed and looked away.
“Sacrilege,” Will said and paced the room like a caged beast. Hannibal thought he might be empathizing now with his point of view. He was all over the place, his wrathful lamb once more. Will went back to the bedside and set the bucket of water on the chair within reach.
“What are you doing?” Hannibal asked in alarm. He was gearing up to flee and Hannibal could not pursue him in his condition.
Will rudely threw the towel at him. “You can finish shampooing yourself, since you like doing it so fucking much.”
“FUCK Bedelia!” Will shouted. He stormed out of the bedroom and tromped straight out of the cabin, slamming the doors behind him. He didn’t reappear for the rest of the day.
It was on the seventh day into their self-imposed waiting period that Will broached the topic. They were cuddled together in bed. Crickets rasped in the cool evening. Things had been smoothed over more or less peaceably since their unfortunate tiff. Will inevitably came back. He didn’t wish to belabor the matter. A simple ‘sorry, here’s some tea’ was all that he offered as explanation. The past was gone. Or so Hannibal devoutly wanted to believe.
“I’m going to ask you a question about your childhood. It’s okay if you don’t want to answer it.”
Hannibal stiffened at the offhand remark, though he appreciated Will’s cautious approach. He was using a tactic Alana often deployed. Will even channeled the soft timbre and cadence of her voice when he did it. The genius of his gift disarmed Hannibal such that he almost wanted to smile – a rather remarkable thing, all things considered. Will was wanting to poke at some very bad, unfunny times. “You may ask me. I may or may not wish to answer,” he finally replied.
“You told me once you were a father to your sister. That you cared for her.”
“Yes.” Hannibal tried fixating on the way the firelight had danced across Will’s features that night in his office when they had held the conversation. It helped steady him for whatever maelstrom Will was steering them towards.
“You meant that you took care of her, as well as loved her.”
“Did you bathe her?” Hannibal didn’t dare move. Didn’t dare breathe. If he did, he might strike out. “Did you wash her hair?”
He licked his lips and nodded again.
“Okay. That’s all I needed to know. I won’t ask about it again.”
His empath was satisfied. It would take hours for Hannibal to unwind from this encroachment without the release of blood and violence to sooth him. Why Will wanted the information, he could not guess. He did not particularly want to know. Will’s mind could untangle the densest of labyrinths, make leaps between the forts and moats erected for sound self-defense. Not every puzzle could or should be solved.
He woke with a cramp in his shoulder. Hannibal moved his right arm to assess which muscle had contracted and felt a tug and clink. His eyes jarred open. He had been handcuffed to the bed.
“Will?” he called. Leaning forward, he saw a note in Will’s messy script and a plastic bag with a burner cellphone and its loose SIM card and battery. His bedpan was there within reach and the jug of water was left full on the side table. A bag of the ready-made bagels he detested were beside it. With his free arm, he picked up the note to read the inevitable confession of why he was presently incapacitated and restrained and left very unadvisedly alone.
Gone to get food and supplies. Should be back before sundown. Yes – I’ll be safe. Yes – I have the other burner phone and I’ll turn it on once in town. No – do NOT use yours unless it is a life or death EMERGENCY. I’m not going to jail because my ridiculous cannibal gets our cabin pinged on a cell tower just to say hi. Jack WILL be looking for exactly that kind of thing. We are inside the search radius he’s using in a high probability area. They may easily have NSA help on this. You’re THAT important to them. (Savor that if you’re really angry right now). If you must call, we’ll have under 24 hours max to wipe the cabin and run.
I cannot stress this enough: NO – do NOT get out of bed. I know it galls you to have your weaknesses pointed out to you but there it is. You still need to heal and if I have to wait any longer to have all of you just because you wanted to prove how clever you are to escape and pee in ceramic like a civilized man I’m going to see red. And we both know how well that’s worked out for us before. So just, do this for me. Please? (You remember that look, right?)
Hannibal found himself quietly laughing. Will’s mind was wondrous. He’d pre-empted every twist and turn his own thoughts would take, well before he’d made the journey himself.
Thank you. BEHAVE YOURSELF. I’ll be home soon .
He inspected the last sentence more closely. The period was slightly offset, suggesting a pause as he wrote. Will had hesitated. He’d pressed into the paper too hard afterward, expressing determination. He was determined to edit himself. What was he so determined to leave out? Hannibal tried to imagine the scene as Will would, his pen hovering over the line. Behave yourself, he ordered. It was a command. He could see Will snapping at him like one of his dogs with a ‘tsk’. Will used positive reinforcement. He would motivate with a reward. But he didn’t want Hannibal to know about the reward. Didn’t want to make him too curious. Oh, he was curiouser and curiouser now.
“What are you bringing back home, Will?” he asked aloud. He read the final lines with the fizzing pleasure of anticipation.
P.S. I’m sorry for the misdirection, but you know how you are. And you know I know how you are. MUCH safer to do this alone. I can still lie my way out. If I get IDed, break your thumb, slip the cuff, and wait. (Don’t roll your eyes, I know you know how to do it, this is a reassurance about our plan, not pedantry.) I will return, Hannibal. Always.
P.P.S. Don’t misplace this. It is prime physical evidence and it needs to be destroyed. Eat it like the dragon if you must. I already know you’re going to cherish it too much. Fucking sap. XOXO
Hannibal sighed and let the paper fall over his chest. He would lie in wait, enduring yet another indignity to satisfy his beloved. It would not be the first, nor the last he would suffer for him. At least he could mull over these words and speculate how this endeavor might play out. He would devise layers of plans for each and every possibility. He would be ready when his Will returned, come what may.
Hours ticked by and Will did not return.
The afternoon light turned to burnt umber and still Will did not return.
The sun slipped silently below the horizon and there was no sign of him.
At close to midnight, the rumbling engine of the old pickup truck on the dirt track path gave him the relief he needed. The approach neither sounded rushed nor suspiciously slow. A smooth in and out, perhaps, just like his gunshot. Hannibal fussed with his hair, hoping to present a vision of patience and calm, as though he hadn’t spent the day ruminating and fuming and worrying and anticipating and ruminating some more.
Will entered the cabin with a ridiculous amount of noise. Based on the rustling plastic bags and thumping of boots on the floor, he had come back with quite the haul. Enough to merit several trips to shuttle it all in from the vehicle.
“Heya,” he shouted in greeting.
Hannibal pretended not to recognize his voice. “If you are here to rob us,” he called out, “please start with the houndstooth curtains in the bedroom. They are truly something.”
Will appeared in the doorway with a huge grin. “Funny you should think of petty larceny. I picked your pocket.”
“I had assumed as much. I hope you took enough cash with you.”
“Yep. All of it. Didn’t spend much though.” Will took off the ball cap he had on and hung it on the doorknob. Reaching deep into his pants, he pulled out a set of small silver keys.
“How was your day?” he asked.
Hannibal stuck his nose into the air and refused to meet his gaze. “Hellish.”
“If I unlock you now, what is my chance of survival?”
“It is predicated on what you have brought as my reward.”
“Well shit,” Will muttered. “How’d you guess?”
“’A clerical error and blind luck.’”
Will snorted, amused to hear his words thrown back at him. “Thinking of our first date?”
“I’ve been thinking on a great many things today. You left me to wander my palace alone.”
“I’ve already apologized.” Will bent over him and kissed him. “What do I taste like?”
“Whiskey. Wood smoke,” Hannibal replied immediately.
“What do I smell like?” he whispered.
Hannibal inhaled him deeply, drawing up the many scents he bore on his person. Corporate carpeting. Latex gloves. Paper files. Silk rugs – Iranian, not Afghani. Fine grained leather. Luminol. Accelerant. Fire.
And beneath it all, just a passing hint of the unmistakable perfume of Bedelia Du Maurier. His eyes went wide. He smelled of crime. “What have you done, Will?” he asked, reverent.
“Can I unlock you safely now?”
Will carefully released the spring on the handcuff and kissed the inside of his wrist where it had chafed. “Thank you for waiting for me.”
Will massaged his shoulder, easing the tension that had built up there. Hannibal stilled his attempts at care, too eager now to feign passivity a second longer. “Show me, Will.” Will smiled and kissed him and Hannibal tasted him again for good measure, irrepressibly curious about the flavors he detected in his mouth.
“Be right back.”
Will banged around in the kitchen for too long. Hannibal used his elbows to leverage himself up as far as he was willing to go while still out of Will’s sightlines. They still had three days before their two week waiting period was through and he wasn’t going risk Will’s wrath by accidentally revealing how much pain he was still in. Will’s fledgling surgery skills required some major work in the near future. He’d caused far more damage than Dolarhyde’s rifle shot ever had- not that he would ever tell him. This was fair atonement for his handiwork with the insulting linoleum knife he’d picked out at a dollar store when his heart seethed and his rage had blinded him. They were even. Even Steven, as Will might say.
When Will returned, he was carrying a tray with two bowls and a bouquet of flowers. Steam curled in misty tendrils, filling the air with a wonderful aroma.
“You brought me homemade soup,” Hannibal noted.
“Just for you. A get well gesture someone once made for me. I was rude and never thanked him properly.”
Will set the bouquet on the nightstand where Hannibal could admire it. “Dahlias are the August birth flower. Are we celebrating a birth?”
“Oh yes,” Will said. “Ours. We were reborn this month. Born properly at last – together. Baptized by blood in the womb of the sea.”
Hannibal smiled at the whimsy in Will’s words. “Some would say you have selected a controversial color.”
“Such a deep crimson it almost looks black.”
“Like the dragons blood we were born in.” Hannibal stroked the miniature knife blade petals on one of the blossoms. “Black dahlias also symbolize betrayal, Will.”
“Betrayal is an important theme in our relationship. Brought us together. Took us apart. Brought us back together. One might say betrayal has shaped much of who we are, where we have been.”
“Which part are we commemorating? The fission or fusion of elemental forms?”
“I’m not commemorating betrayal. I’m eulogizing it. There is no place for betrayal where we are going.”
“I see. So not a warning, then.”
“No. A promise.”
Hannibal exhaled a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “Black calla lilies and black baccara roses. More death and blood in the moonlight?”
“I’ve always thought of calla lilies as funereal, but I’m told they signify resurrection. Or alternately, fidelity. They show faith and purity in funerals and weddings alike.”
“Appropriate for those who love death as much as they love life.”
“They are committed to both equally, but none more so than to each other. Life and death, bound in matrimony. Two parts of a whole.”
Hannibal positively beamed. “Roses are quite traditional for any occasion, be it a birth, a wedding, or a funeral.”
“They are. Though I guess the dark red rose is a particularly lusty and headstrong flower. A passionate blossom, one might say. Maybe even unpredictable. Mad.”
“There is often great madness in the most epic of tales.”
“So it would seem.”
They were grinning like complete idiots now. “This bouquet is a complex arrangement, Will. It is simply beautiful. I hope you will allow me to preserve it.”
“Certainly. It will always be beautiful then. It will still be beautiful when we’re old and infirm. We’ll take it out and look at it and remember the time we were younger and quicker and more voracious.”
“The moment when the teacup gathered. When we saw the world’s greatness reflected in ourselves.”
Will huffed and crooked his head to the side. “The DSM would label that kind of perspective as a narcissistic pathology.”
“Ah. The diagnosis might be identically different then. An empathy disorder. Though becoming lost in the powerful grip of another’s design is hardly disordered behavior, in my personal and professional view. Experiencing something great through another’s powers is a gift, pure and simple. We would do not to forget.”
Will couldn’t resist squeezing Hannibal’s hand and kissing him again. He preened from the praise and his cheeks were tinged with color.
Hannibal pulled the tray closer in his lap, eager to try his dinner. He stirred the broth and closed his eyes at the smell, trying to analyze and record its every component. Will had never before made him a dish this involved.
“I’m afraid silkies are hard to come by in these parts, but I did my best,” he explained. “Had to venture a bit further afield and a bit longer than I intended for what I was after. You waited so well for me though.” Hannibal nodded, glad Will seemed truly apologetic for the ordeal he had caused him.
At the first sip, the burst of flavor on his tongue was electricity. The broth was rich, full of marrow and balanced with parsley, celery leaves, and ample onion and garlic. The root vegetables were farmed recently, sliced evenly on the diagonal with an eye for presentation. Their consistency was firm and their taste hardy; organic, clearly, and full of vitamins from the clean soil. It would bring him strength. He savored another spoonful. The noodles were hand-rolled and hand-cut – a long gone mother’s recipe perhaps, passed down in the family. A cherished tradition, full of nostalgia straight from the hearth. The meat, well…
“This meat is not chicken, Will.”
“Oh yes. She was a chicken alright. Should have run faster. Won’t be running so quickly now.” Hannibal had to grab the sides of the tray, he was so plainly overcome. He stared at the pale shreds floating in the broth and he felt the urge to cry. Again. No one had ever done such a thing for him before.
“Eat your chicken soup, Hannibal. It’s good for the soul.”
Grappling for composure, he tested whether he was truly experiencing what he thought he was experiencing. “Aged bourbon and cracked pepper. The roasting was done with hickory smoke, yes?”
Will nodded, impressed, and took a bite from his own bowl and chewed. “Is the meat bitter?”
“Yes. Very bitter.”
Will smiled cruelly. “Good.”
The look of his savage, angel-faced creature broke his control entirely. “Is there more or is this it?”
“Loads more. Whole pot. You already want seconds?”
What Hannibal did next, he could not have predicted in a thousand years. He set his spoon down on the tray and lifted his bowl to his mouth. Then he slurped. He guzzled the contents in three, four, five big swallows and clanked the bowl back down and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, devil may care. Will laughed, delighted even.
“Take off your pants,” Hannibal ordered.
“What?” Will said, shocked.
“Take of your pants. Right now.”
“No, Hannibal. Three more days. You said – ”
“I said something arbitrary and it is completely pointless to argue with me. I’m not going to exert myself unless you make me chase you down. And I will chase you down. So you’d best get over here immediately.”
Will started to argue.
“I said immediately, dear boy. I’ll not be denied.”
Will looked at him indulgently and chugged his soup as he usually would have done were no one watching. He went to the mattress and set one knee on its edge. “What are you going to – .” Hannibal’s hands went to his waistband and he popped the button and practically tore his dark navy chinos open.
“Off,” he growled. Will quickly complied and stumbled out of them. Hannibal smoothed a hand over his firm bottom and gave it an unexpected smack. “Closer still. You’re going to have to bring the feast to me.” He pulled Will to his face so he could nosed the flange of his hip. The familiar musk of Will’s skin was slightly fearful, but indisputably aroused. Hannibal caressed the sides of his thighs, gentling him like a flighty stallion.
When the cannibal began to mouth experimentally at Will’s cock, he made sure Will’s eyes were glued to the obscenity of his full lips and sharp teeth closing around him. “Oh god,” Will prayed in an exhaled breath. Hannibal worked around his entire length with all the cleverness and skill he could muster. His tongue curled around Will’s length like the very serpent in the garden.
“Oh god oh god oh god ohhhhh Hannibal!”
He took him deep into his throat and watched as Will’s head fell back and mouth parted in ecstasy. Perfection. He was Botticelli’s Mercury, looking to the heavens to spread the word. His personal messenger to the gods. Hannibal sucked and sucked, a penitent at the foot of his patron saint. Will’s hand found his hair and he gasped an apology and thrust. Hannibal worked with the movement, taking every rut with ease until he felt Will start to lose it. He quickly grabbed him hard at the base and squeezed, curbing his orgasm in the nick of time. A fat bead of pre-cum dripped from his slit and Hannibal licked it off, burying the tip of his tongue in his hole.
“Oh god, Hannibal. Please. Please. I was so close,” he begged.
“You were too close, my love. I’m going to give you what you want, if you ask.”
His cock bounced in obvious interest. “What I said before?” Hannibal nodded. “How? What do I do?” he asked solemnly.
“Come here. Sit on my face.” It was depraved and he loved allowing himself the vulgarity. It was nothing compared to the wanton licentiousness of eating between the cheeks of Will sculpted, marble buttocks. Will arranged his limbs cautiously, straddling him. The first pass of his tongue had him bracing against the headboard in surprise. The second, Hannibal felt him open. He ravished his tight body, thrilled to hear what sounds he could draw out of it, dipping his tongue into the willing orifice.
“You’re the only thing I want to taste tonight,” he confessed and nipped at the sensitive skin of his inner thighs. Slowly, carefully, he slipped a finger into him and Will gasped at the sensation. “Relax. Close your eyes, Will. I’m going to ease you right through this.”
“Breathe deeply and slowly. Go to your stream.” Hannibal worked his finger until the resistance died away. “Are you there?”
“Yes. You’re here too.”
“Good. You’re wading slowly. Slower and slower into that calm place. Let the breeze be your breath, gentle and slow.” He pushed a second finger in and felt him clench defensively. His body was hot and tight and it took every ounce of restraint Hannibal had to not have his way with him right then and there. He kept talking to him between little laps and sucks to his groin. It was so much easier to gain entrance to Will’s subconscious now with all of his subliminal signposts still tacked up and held solidly in place, ready to be activated by his hypnotic voice. “You’re breathing calm and gentle, Will. You’re letting me guide you. Don’t fight it. Allow the experience to simply wash through you like the stream.” Will breathed in and out and Hannibal massaged his prostate in sync with his exhalations.
It was not unlike the tantric meditation Hannibal himself practiced while incarcerated. He would time his Kegel contractions and his fantasies of Will to the rise and fall of his chest and cum untouched in his jumpsuit, right there in the middle of his jail floor, crosslegged and hands upturned in the serene gyan mudra pose. No one ever suspected or knew, save his nurse Denise when she collected his laundry. And Denise understood the value of discretion, even in a place wholly hostile to the concept. Perhaps he and Will could try meditating one day together, copulating in the halls of the mental universe they shared. Anything was possible now.
Hannibal worked his fingers, stretching and lubricating him. He added a third, then finally a fourth. Will grunted and made a plaintive sound.
“I’m a big boy, Will. Just like you said. I need you ready for me.”
“I want to be ready.”
“You’re glorious like this. You’re doing so well. How do you feel?”
“I feel…you. I feel you pleasuring me.”
“Good. Would you like to come back to shore?”
“Yes. Let’s go back.”
“Certainly. Come back to me. Open your eyes. You’re waking to a quiet, safe place. You’re with me.”
Will’s eyes opened and were dark and glassy with lust.
“How do you feel?”
“Keyed up. Unsatisfied.”
“Well. What is to be done about that?”
Will slithered down the length of Hannibal’s prone form, dragging the covers down with his gleaming teeth. His hands caught Hannibal’s boxers as he went and he kicked the blanket and clothing out of the way. “Tell me what you like,” he whispered as he kissed his way back up Hannibal’s legs.
“Anything you are willing to give.” Will licked a long stripe up the hard member between his thighs and Hannibal made a strangled sound. “Er…maybe not quite anything. That’s a lot. Save me for yourself.”
Will nuzzled the soft skin of his testicles with a cheek and grinned. “You’re such a priss. I bet you didn’t jack off after lights out like the rest of us did.”
Hannibal refused to dignify his snark. He was too busy cataloging every detail of the moment. The deadly sparkle in Will’s eyes. The garish lighting. Those hideous, damnable curtains that would now forever hang inside his memory palace.
“You’re going to have to ask me, too, Hannibal. I want to hear you say it.”
He actually rolled his eyes in response. “Filthy boy.”
“Yes. Your filthy boy.”
Fine. Succumb. Easily done. He was getting used to these demands. “I want you to ride me, Will. Put some real heat into the fucking.”
Will’s mouth dropped open in stunned surprise and the pink flush in his cheeks only served to make him more wanton and virginal. He was at him not a moment after that, grasping Hannibal’s hardness by the root and guiding it where he needed it to assuage the throb inside him.
“As much or as little as you please, darling boy. This is all for you.” Hannibal steadied him with his hands, holding his hips in reassurance. It was about all he could do in this state. He felt the press and the heat on the tip as it sunk. They made a choir of moans in duet.
“I love you,” Will sobbed and stroked himself through the stretch. His powerful thighs clenched as he settled down, working himself onto the big cock.
Hannibal’s hands roamed, enjoying the firm muscles rise under his touch, the dusky nipples peaking beneath his fingers. “You ravage me so beautifully,” he confessed, swept away in the ecstasy of this final, hard-won victory.
Will grew bold and leaned back, using an arm between Hannibal’s legs to really take what he wanted. His arched back made his lean pecs and abs flex and his efforts made him glisten with a sweaty dew. “Oh fuck yes,” he moaned, taking Hannibal to the hilt. He bounced and bounced, erection smacking obscenely on his lover’s groin.
It wasn’t long before he warned him. “I’m gonna cum,” Will gasped. “I’ma cum Hann…Hannibal…”
Hannibal gave him two, three, four firm tugs and Will bellowed into the night and pulsed around him. The thick jets spurted up his torso and splattered around his neck. Hannibal didn’t dare move. Will’s aftershocks were intense and Hannibal counted the rush of the heartbeat around his cock. What he was about to do, he would pay for a little now and a lot more later, but it was worth it. In for a penny, in for a pound. Right as Will was coming down off his high, Hannibal rolled his hips violently, forcing Will down at just the right angle.
“Oh fuck!” he cried out.
Hannibal did it again. And again. “Touch yourself,” he commanded and blindly Will’s hand went to his erection. Several more sharp, quick thrusts through the silken heat and Hannibal exploded, burying his seed deep inside Will’s body. The sensation sent Will right back over the edge again and he collapsed forward as the Lithuanian wrung another orgasm from him, painting Hannibal with more of his pleasure.
“What. How. How did you even…” Will panted in the fur of his chest.
Hannibal chuckled and stroked Will’s hair, not caring that the weight of him on his belly felt like fire. He would gladly burn forever to have this.
The first hints of rose-glassed light began to illuminate the sky and the birds were already calling to each other through the thickets and the pines.
“We forgot about dessert,” Will said sleepily. He was entwined along Hannibal’s side, knit into him like a permanent feature. He yawned most adorably, a squeaking, happy sound.
“There was dessert?”
“We could have it now. For breakfast.” Will kissed Hannibal tenderly and begrudgingly pushed himself up to go make coffee. Several minutes later, he brought Hannibal a piping hot mug of strong, black java and a manila envelope.
“Ah. I see,” he smiled and undid the clasp. Two passports fell out, along with a stack of assorted credits cards. He looked over the Canadian passport and then his own. He was now from Denmark.
“They’re completely clean and valid. We’ve got new accounts too. There’s plenty of money, though nowhere near what you had. Your funds are permanently fucked, I’m afraid. They figured out how you were hiding your assets and everything is frozen. Maybe one day we’ll be able to get it out from Interpol’s nose. This is a fresh start in the meantime, courtesy of some seized Colombian drug money pinched from the FBI.”
“How ever did you – .” The industrial carpet he smelled. The file folders. The acrid aroma of Luminol used to detect latent fingerprints. “You an astonishingly resourceful man. You walked right through the FBI’s front doors? That was bold, Will. Very bold.”
“I like to think of it as brazen. I jogged in with the trainees after their morning run and walked straight past Kade Purnell. Tipped my hat at her even. She didn’t have the first clue.”
Hannibal fingered his new passport thoughtfully. “I don’t speak Danish. It’s not related to any other language I know.”
Will shrugged. “There aren’t any Danes where we’re going.”
“Where, pray tell, is that?”
“Wonderful.” Hannibal was feeling positively giddy. “When do we leave?”
“As soon as you’re up for the trip. We’ve got a new yacht waiting in port. Hopefully it will pass muster with your tastes. Chiyoh’s making the preparations as we speak. We’ve got enough supplies for now to keep us going here. It’s probably wiser to lay low a few more weeks before making the move.”
“How ever shall we pass the time?” Hannibal quipped.
“In bed, I should think. As we’ve been doing since our arrival.” They laughed then before Will furrowed his brow and grew serious. He cleared his throat and shifted his weight nervously. “There’s a second course in this dessert. Maybe not so sweet.”
Hannibal looked at him expectantly. He hadn’t a clue what Will had in store for him. Will rummaged in his pocket. He pulled something out and left it concealed in his hand.
“I brought you something else from the FBI’s evidence locker. I need you to remain calm when I give this to you.”
“What is it?” Hannibal’s stomach flipped with anticipation and concern.
“It is something of yours. Something they took when forensics processed your house. They thought it was a trophy. They assumed it was connected to a crime.”
Hannibal swallowed, tongue clicking in his throat.
“It was from a crime, but not one of your doing. I didn’t want you to have to leave this behind. I’d get all your beautiful things out of impound if I could, but it was more important to steal the most valuable thing. The irreplaceable thing.”
Hannibal felt himself begin to quiver, certain now what Will had done for him.
“I know what this is to you,” Will continued. “I know what this means. We don’t ever have to talk about it. Just know that I know.”
He pressed the tarnished gold locket into Hannibal’s palm, clasping it between their hands. Inside lay a sprig of harvest gold hair, tied with a faded white silk bow.
Tears streaked from Hannibal’s eyes and Will could not help but shed them too, his empathy unfurled protectively around the man whom he loved.
“You brought her back to me. My…my Mischa,” Hannibal said in barely a whisper.
Will nodded through the shared grief and forced a smile. “Do you want me to leave you alone for a minute?”
Hannibal sniffed and shook his head. “Stay with me. Always.”
“Always, Hannibal. Forever. That’s a promise. That’s the arrangement.” He reached in his pocket again and slipped something onto Hannibal’s finger. “Yes?”
Hannibal looked down at the simple platinum band and nodded helplessly.
“Yes, Will. Of course. Forever.”