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Cryptid

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Her screams echoed throughout the small-town hospital, waning into deep, shuddering sobs at the sight of her newborn son, Francis Dolarhyde. Consolation was futile coming from the doctor, as well were his warnings when she had finally asked to see him after being separated for three days. The doctor resorted to giving her a shot to calm her down. The following day, Marian Dolarhyde-Trevane abandoned her newborn son at the hospital. Some surgery was performed on the infant, the doctor unsure and wary that severe facial reconstructive surgery would distort the growth of his face. They sent him to the Springfield Foundling Home, Francis staying there for just over a year, and eventually he made his way to Brother Buddy at the Morgan Lee Memorial Orphanage. Upon his arrival, noticing Francis’ Leaf-nosed bat like appearance, Brother Buddy asked the boys and girls to pray for him.

Five years later, at the cusp of age six, his first and last visitor asked for him, her smile radiating with deep pleasure at his arrival. The smile burned into Francis’ memory. No one had ever smiled at him like that, not with the way he knew he looked. Even failing at calling her Grandmother upon introduction, the smile never wavered, only increased.

"I'll just bet you can say your name. I just know a big boy like you can say his name. Say it for me." Francis had perked up bravely, confident, and excited.

“Cunt face!”


 

 The occupants inside the cafeteria at Gateway Films had faded away, their heat signatures dissipating with the increase of his transfixion, his painful reverie. Pulling himself out of his adolescence, he threw his attention on the skin of his hand. It was dry, and with his eyes he perused the faint white trails following the natural lines in his skin. The full moon wasn’t far off, and his monthly ecdysis would begin. The comfort wasn’t found here, the reminder of his otherness triggering more anxiety.

There were times when he reveled in his difference, particularly during the full moon, finding himself preening, almost gloating, in his more-than-man existence, his uniqueness. The rest of the days, he found himself sullen, shameful, and ruminating about the abuse that his nature had made him receive. He had been born and abandoned a freak, a borderline cryptid being among men.

The skin on the majority of his back and some of his shoulders was thick, and slightly flesh-red tinted, fortunately obscured by normal clothing. His soft-pallet had been deformed at birth, cleft lip apparent, and the surgery that had been performed right away left a garish scar. The doctor, as well as anyone else at the time, was completely unaware of it’s true purpose. The rest of his oddities were less obvious here in the breakroom, especially in comparison to his prominent cleft lip, sacrificing it to the eyes of the world. He had slightly pointed ears and tongue. These were not noticed over the peculiarity on his lip, people often afraid of staring. Francis was also born with double eyelids, and his pupils had the ability to become slits. They only really showed in light, his pupils retracting defensively against the brightness. In awareness of his eye oddities, he often wore dark glasses if he found himself spending time among the public, and red goggles at work, especially if Francis knew he’d be returning into the dark room for more repairs on film processing equipment. Francis also never blinked in public if he couldn’t help it, knowing that one of the two eyelids slipped across his eye faster than the other.

Mutated, his life was filled with screaming insults, some echoing harshly in his ears now, intrusive, sudden, and unstoppable, unheard by anyone else in the room. Francis shook his head defensively, and looked around the table only he occupied.

Someone had left a TIME magazine, obviously done with it. Francis Dolarhyde hadn’t touched it or looked at it when he had initially sat down. Francis tried to covered his dry hands with the each other as he pondered the magazine, eventually deciding that he was desperate to silence Grandmother’s voice. He slid the magazine over to him, hopeful. The text on the cover reached his eyes first, white and bold on the depiction of a painting by William Blake.

'The Great Red Dragon…’ Francis read, and something deep inside him purred unexpectedly.

The painting itself looked marvelous, a demonic form with multiple horned heads, muscular arms stretched wide along his powerful wings, and a curling, looping tail, hovering in an overbearing and dominant fashion from above. He seemed to be swooping down, almost engulfing a form of golden, fiery beauty at the bottom of the page. Intrigued by the display of overwhelming power radiating from the being, Francis’ fingers stroked the pages to find the William Blake article halfway through the magazine.

His breathing halted at the sight of another Blake painting, the figure on the cover now shown in wonderful, stark detail. It was magnificent, and he found his sulking was silenced immediately, defeated by the raw power emulating out of the painting. The man-dragon on the cover had fallen to the earth now, flaunting his well-defined back to the audience, muscles bulging attractively down and across his body into powerful wings. His legs were strong, thick thighs and protruding, pointed calves flexed in an awesome display of supremacy and strength. The golden beauty, finally engulfed and helpless beneath his feet, was laying at the bottom of the page, woe written on her pale face.

After five minutes, Francis drew out a shuddered breath, forgetting that he hadn’t been breathing, and the people from inside the room fazed harshly back into awareness, their mutterings sudden and heavy in his ears. He didn’t need to breath as much as normal humans did, oxygen somehow finding its way inside of him. He covered his mouth with his hand, scrubbing at his lips, disguising the breath with actions attributed to a sigh or a yawn. Fire was beating hot inside his heart now, his chest prickling, the heat settling nicely under the many layers of his clothing. The name tag on his dark work shirt shuddered slightly with each of his breathes, Francis barely able to control the spike of emotion rising inside of him. He peered briefly back at the people behind him, noting favorably that no one was paying attention to him, and reached again for the magazine, scrutinizing it until the figures faded from his awareness again.

The painting spoke to him, spoke to the very essence of his mutated soul. The image was glowing in his vision, everything else bleak and meek in comparison to the authority and demanding supremacy. In the moments he continued to look over the painting, all things work related became unnecessary and inconvenient. He found that he was growing to know the dragon, understand him. He found something deep inside his chest that had been coiled up, something passively dormant for so long. He found purpose. He found drive.

A Year Later

The grunts from his efforts seemed to echo loudly in this room, buzzing in his ears and reverberating off the clutter that found its dusty home here. Francis had gotten into the habit of growling, building up the power of his roar, while he was working out. His body was shaking, beat red from his exercise, his muscles pumped full. He peered up to the large print the Blake painting he had purchased and framed, the Dragon watching him, seemingly pleased with his progress for today. Setting the weights on a thick mat, he sauntered over to a shattered mirror, checking the fragmented pieces of his newly transformed self through the netting of a headwrap. His muscles had gotten larger than he expected, but he could still see work to be done. Francis didn’t have to turn around to know that his back muscles, although bulked and toned, were nothing in comparison to the Dragon’s. His eyes flickered up to his broken face, the shattering of the mirror most prominent there. It was difficult to see with the headwrap pulled down below his eyes, but he dared not to pull the mask off.

The upper levels of the house, once reserved for the childhood bed that he still slept on and Grandmothers room, had been transformed over the year into his own place to train, to become. Francis liked dwelling in the upper parts of Grandmother’s old house now, feeling the most physically content up in the muggy rooms, the heat tending to rise and settle there wonderfully, allowing him the comfort to not be covered in layers of clothing to keep his warmth. He also enjoyed the upper levels of his house because after all this time, he had finally taken it from Grandmother. She had been out of his life for 20 years at this point, dead for a majority of them, and now with the power of the Dragon on his side, her hold on him had slackened.

The beginning stages of his transformation had been grueling, the Dragon’s demands severe. He pushed Francis to his physical breaking limit often, Francis trying his best to achieve the Dragon’s orders while fighting Grandmother’s voice. Her words were louder up here, so close to his childhood bedroom and the strongest in her own. Every repetition seemed to be pushed or thrown into her screaming, her revealed displeasure of his existence. A few times, Francis had found himself curled on the ground, begging Grandmother to believe that he was a good boy, that he wasn’t disgusting. The Dragon hardly intervened, choosing instead to watch from his framed shrine on the wall.

Chapter Text

Even at the bottom of the staircase that headed toward the attic, he could feel the humidity and heat clinging onto his skin, embedding in the soft and natural folds of his body. Will popped the top two buttons open on his plaid over shirt, exposing the white collar of his undershirt. His stomach was lurching with the impending socialization, not visiting the attic as often as he should. In the wake of Hannibal’s absence, the suggestion of offering friendship toward their new family member being the last thing said between them, Will begrudgingly took the piece of advice to heart, not wanting to disappoint Hannibal.

Will realized he had been standing at the top of the stairs for a while, silent and pensive toward the occupant inside. Will couldn’t remember if he had ever come up here before, not being a part of the construction or the remodeling process, preferring instead to remain distant, allowing Hannibal to indulge and splurge. Will recognized his stubborn indifference, purposefully being rigid when it came to Francis Dolarhyde, a damned murderer of two picture-perfect families, and most likely even more had Hannibal and Will not intervened. His actions were obscene, but Will’s empathy was opened toward Francis just as much as it was to anyone at any given time. Even so, he denied the insight that was available to him, settling deep in the bedrock of his own morals and principles. With Hannibal’s easy acceptance, and borderline reverence of Francis, he found that he felt rude in his unwelcoming nature.

He knocked gently on the door, each tap sending electricity straight to his navel. He waited, knocking again after no answer. With a sigh, he tested the door to find it open, and went inside. The air was perfumed wonderfully, but it was also suffocating and heavy, the humidity unexpected even with the tease of it outside the door, and soft music seemed to float idly in the thick air. Will slid the buttons open down the rest of his shirt, forgoing it all together and opting for the undershirt that was already darkening in spots with his sweat. The heat plucked at his nostalgia, reminding him of the intense summers in Louisiana that he hadn’t thought about in a long time.

The sunk-in foyer at the top of the stairs was simple, facing a single reddened wall with an elegant painting of Ogata Gekkō's Views of Mount Fuji, depicting a scene of a silvery dragon emerging from a shadowy depth, Mount Fuji insipid in the background. Hannibal had surely picked that out, and Will had a feeling that this whole experience was going to be a kind of merging between Hannibal and Francis’ tastes.

Stepping up onto the main tatami layered floor and turning right, he found the décor of the room breathtakingly beautiful, and he couldn’t help but feel guilty at choosing to not be a part of the process. The attic was large and wide, most likely spanning the width of the whole house. The architecture style was completely different in comparison to the rest of the house, elegantly attractive in its Washitsu décor choice, emulating Hannibal’s past very well. Will knew that Hannibal had an aunt, Lady Murasaki, and that he spent time in his youth in her domain, learning a lot about Japanese culture while he was with her. Will saw that knowledge reflected in this room, and it was done very well. The colors were brilliant and bold, red, black and gold colors mainly, and Will couldn’t help but smile at a room, picking up on the positive interactions of Hannibal in his element.

In front of him were two dark shojis, currently slid all the way open to reveal another tatami-floored room beyond. In the front of the exposed room was a scattering of dark furniture. A squat, rounded table with a few items on top, including the incense burner, could be seen. There were three large zabuton around the table, each cushion embroidered with a different design. Will understood that the intention was for each of them to have their own cushion. The guilt plucked even harder at this realization, the room and its surroundings obviously planned for the three of them to enjoy together. The other furniture in the living room looked pristine, and Will couldn’t help but feel Francis’ hesitance to taint them as well as any of the other furnishings in this room.

Beyond the section of the exposed living room, another pair of dark shoji were slid completely open, creating a desirable fusuma effect. In this section of the room was Francis, his form wavering in the air with the heat, the color surrounding him a burning red. The ceiling held the source of most of the heat inside the attic, a pair of easily the largest set of Solar Glo UV lightbulbs Will had ever seen. He could feel the joke about the light bulbs from here, Hannibal spending too much of his time trying to find correctly proportioned ‘lizard’ bulbs.

Francis was currently draped face down over a black polished stone in the center of the room, the stone larger than Francis. There was a stone ring around Francis and the dark stone, the section of floor between the stone barrier replaced with fine black sand.

Will, apparently not disturbing Francis enough for his attention, watched him sleep on the black stone. His shoulders were rising and falling gently with his relaxed breathing, his serenity trundling off him toward Will. The happiness that Francis felt in this haven of an attic was plentiful, Will able to feel it embedded in the material that made up the attic. Will quietly made his way into the living space in front of him, looking at the embroidered zabuton, unable to control the soft smile that appeared on his lips. There was a dragon decorating one cushion, a stag on another, and an eagle on the third cushion. Staring at the eagle, he recalled Nietzsche’s analogy of the eagles and lambs, Hannibal reading aloud some critical essays written about Nietzsche to Will some time ago.

‘What the lamb must want is for the eagle not to behave as an eagle, to be ashamed of its desires, of itself – to acquire another, new character such that it would live under the domination of time past. On the face of it this is silly. As Nietzsche continues, “To demand of strength that it not express itself as strength, that it not be a will to overpower, to cast down, to become master, a thirst after enemies, oppositions and triumphs, is just as absurd as to require weakness to express itself as strength.” The lamb wants, however, precisely this “absurdity.” He wants the eagle not to act as an eagle; that is, he wants the eagle not to act in accord with what he, the eagle, considering all things, knows to be his eagle’s desire.”

At the memory, Will’s surroundings faded away, his senses overwhelmed with the sight and sound of Hannibal in their bed, his long fingers curling elegantly around a book, secure but gentle enough not to bend or crack the spine. Will would lay along Hannibal’s left side, watching his lips form each word, finding the way his mouth moved and his European accent extremely hypnotizing. Hannibal, aware of Will’s enthrall, would stop reading out of the book he held and tease Will with quotations from some other book, severely out of context, waiting to see how long it would take for Will to realize.

 Before his thoughts could run away completely, he was brought out of his reverie with the sensation of white-hot fire on his face. Will blinked, clearing his vision, and looked to see Francis awake and watching him unblinking. Francis’ eyes were a piercing blue, surprise shining through, framed by a slit-like pupil. His gaze was immobile at Will standing in his living room, his breathing less relaxed than it had been only a moment ago. Feeling awkward, Will made his way past the zabuton cushions and over to the edge of the room, not breaching Francis’ heating area. With only those few steps closer to the solar light bulbs, Will could feel some sweat trickle down his neck, stopping at his collar.

“Good morning, Francis… I’m sorry for disturbing you. Your door was unlocked.” Will felt foolish, explaining himself so plainly. Francis’ eyes didn’t move away from Will’s face, the embers of his gaze worsening the heat.

Francis lifted his bare torso up off the rock, his large muscles flexing as he did so, and Will noticed how dry he looked, no sweat evident. Francis leaned down to finger the sand, his wide back muscles and tattoo flexing intimidatingly. Will felt some sadness enter him at the tattoo, knowing that Francis had gotten it to cover up the reddish hide he had been born with on some of his skin. The tattoo itself looked amazing, The Great Red Dragon from the William Blake paintings apparent, and unless you took your time, you couldn’t tell that the skin underneath was different. Will let his eyes dance around Francis’ form, realizing how much of a stranger he was, how unfamiliar he looked.

Francis stiffly picked up a small controller that had been embedded in the black sand, clicking one of the buttons to turn the UV lights off, the heat dissipating quickly. Will couldn’t help but be thankful, idly wiping a hand across his damp neck. Francis’ defensive movements were noticeable, his body stiffer than necessary. The room looked almost pitch black with the red glowing lights turned off, Francis’ skin pale on top of the black stone. Will noticed then that not only was his torso bare, but the rest of him as well. In that knowledge, Will fumbled.

“Oh, Francis… I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were… I shouldn’t have barged in.”

“It… It…” Francis sighed, still uncomfortable at speaking any S sounds. “It’s quite alright, Will. I don’t mind.” The dragon growled, his voice deep, but soft and hesitant in his tone.

Francis, seemingly wanting to make his point, lifted himself up from the rock and stepped back out of the sand entrapment, strolling over to the shojis behind this room to slide them open, revealing natural light beyond. Will didn’t expect Francis to be so bold about his appearance, his past behavior concluding his own belief that he was disfigured. Will tried to look away in time, but being taken by surprise, was unable to not see the majority of Francis’ exposed front and back. Will turned his face away from him then, noticing the solid erection Francis had from being awaken.

“Is there…” Something I can do for you? Will finished in his head, the voice resonating in his mind that of the dragon’s.

“Would you like to…” Have a seat?

“How can I help you?” Francis finished off with a slight sigh, his voice close by him, struggling with the right words to say. Will looked up to see him robed with a beautiful dragon-printed kimono, a gift from Hannibal when they completed this attic space. It looked great on Francis, the colors matching the boldness of the room, the sheen of the material attractive. Will couldn’t help but check, seeing that Francis’ erection was fading steadily with his movement.

“Well, as you know, Hannibal left last night, and this gives us a good opportunity to get to know each other. I know that I… Would you like to sit down with me?” Will suggested the lonely squat table by pointing in its general direction, wanting to sit in the spot that was dubbed his. Francis’ stare was intense and unwavering, disbelief reaching Will’s empathy. The intensity and heat of his stare was on par with Hannibal’s, and Will found himself unable to look directly into his eyes like he could with Hannibal.

“Mhm.” Francis answered plainly, and he extended his toned arm toward the table, offering Will a seat first.

Will reached the zabuton with the decorative stag embedded onto it and sat comfortably, Francis towering above him now, hovering a little before sitting.

“Would you like me to make tea?”

“That sounds great, Francis, thank you.” Courtesy, second hand now. He needed to remember that he wasn’t speaking to Hannibal, and he didn’t need to be as poised, although he was sure that Francis would enjoy his courtesy just as much.

Will watched Francis swiftly walk to the last section of the room, disappearing behind the right shoji door. He heard a small amount of clutter and some water running after a few of Francis’ heavy steps. There must be a small kitchenette on that side of the section, Will trying to guess based off the sounds that reached him. After only a few minutes, the high shriek of a small kettle sounded, and Francis came back with an ornate tea set on a decorative carrying tray. Francis knelt on the dragon zabuton and poured them both tea, the fragrance mixing wonderfully with the incense burner in front of them. Will thanked him for the tea and sipped, enjoying the earthy taste.

Will watched the smoke from the thin reed twirl and shift between them, the smoke matching the music that was still playing in the background. Will lost his voice now that Francis was sitting so close by him, his eyes bright behind a calm face, expectation unable to be hidden. Will, still unable to consider his eyes, paid attention to his face instead. He stole glances in between nonchalant movements, like lifting to blow the steam away from his tea before a taste, or putting the cup back home. Hannibal called Francis more dragon than man, and Will in his presence agreed. Even the points of Francis looked lizard, his ears slightly pointed, and his pupils had been thin in the UV light. The front of him had looked wholly human, but the texture of his reddened flesh was undeniable, as well as his obvious weakness to cold.

The awkwardness between them was palpable, as thick as the humidity and stuck in his throat. After a few tentative sips, Francis broke the silence.

“What would you like to talk about?” Francis, always aware of which words he would be speaking, spoke concisely and slowly, the thought apparent in his speaking style.

“At this point, I’d say anything. Why don’t we start with you telling me about yourself?”

Francis blanched obviously at this, his skin growing paler with the anxiety of his company, him casting his sharp eyes toward the small cup of tea he was nursing He looked like he wished he could dive right in and hide, causing a shred of sympathy to appear in Will’s stomach.

“I would have… thought that Hannibal had already talked to you about me.” I would have assumed, I would have guessed… The dragon’s voice reached him again, finishing the sentence in ways he wished he could have.

“Well, Hannibal definitely has told me a few things about you, but I’d rather hear these things from you. Francis, I’d like for us to be able to start over, considering our last real interaction.” He could tell that they both were recalling the events of almost a year ago.

Hannibal had been in captivity at this point, a lonely and torturous three years for them both despite the erratic contact, Will refusing to move on and find a new family. Will knew he could have found someone if he had really wanted, someone safe and usual to depend on and live with. The thought of that was almost repulsing, understanding the depth of his own feelings toward Hannibal, and Hannibal’s feelings for him. He regretted not searching himself sooner, believing his rage. At the time of Hannibal’s capture, Will had told Hannibal that he didn’t want anything to do with him, mercilessly angry and bitter toward past circumstances as well as Hannibal’s past behavior. The indignation dissolved as Hannibal turned himself in to Jack, however, giving up his freedom just so Will would know where to find him if he wanted him. Will was losing himself a little in this memory, unable to resist recalling all the emotions that had been plaguing him at that time; he had been betrayed by Hannibal and his game with his encephalitis, angry that no one had believed his innocence, devastated at finding out that Abigail had been kept alive, waiting for him and Hannibal so they could start their new life together, confused at his own forgiveness toward Hannibal, as well as shocked at learning Hannibal’s feelings toward him.

‘Is Hannibal in love with me?’ He had asked Dr. Du Maurier. In her usual quip of prose, she had answered a resounding yes.

The calling of The Great Red Dragon stirred the FBI up enough to consider asking both Will and Hannibal to consult in this case. In hindsight, Hannibal and Will’s life together wouldn’t have been possible if not for Francis. His crimes, the catalyst, but Francis physically made Will and Hannibal’s life together possible. Granted, Will didn’t expect to find out that Hannibal and Francis’ correspondence had gone on longer than mentioned, and he definitely didn’t expect Francis to come with them.

 “You were angry he wanted me to come with.” Francis’s deep voice echoed in Will’s dissociation, speaking out his thoughts. It was surprising to Will that someone with such a capability for violence and bloodshed could also appear and sound so meek. Will shook his head a little, not realizing he was doing so, mentally stuck in the past.

“I was definitely surprised. I was also afraid that you would actually change Hannibal, like we had discussed in my hotel room when you faked your death.” Will didn’t mean to sound so accusatory, Francis instinctively turning his head down toward the table.

“I suppose I have a lot to apologize for.” Will continued, also following Francis in looking down, slightly ashamed at using Francis as a method of escape. The white-hot embers of Francis’ gaze found the top of his head then, confusion rolling toward Will’s empathy.

“What?”

“Our initial relationship with each other, for one. I lied maliciously about you. I was trying to stir you, lure you.” Chilton’s burnt face flashed into his mind then, and Will blinked it away.

“You… succeeded.” Francis did well with that word, and Will wished he had the confidence to stop censuring himself. He was remembering Francis in his hotel room, speaking perfectly fine when he thought that he was stronger than the dragon, when he thought that he had become the dragon.

“Then, afterward, I lied to you, used you as a means for Hannibal and I to escape. In hindsight, I’m glad you didn’t change us. Thank you.” Will remembered the weaponry Francis had originally brought with him, and recalled the shock of Francis coming out into the open. There was more that Will wanted to thank Francis for, but couldn’t find the guts.

“On that note, I will thank you, too.”

“For what?” Will looked at Francis then, seeing his gaze also flicker between his own and anything else.

“You could have turned me in, had you wanted. You didn’t need to play with me at all, and I find that I’m grateful you did, even if it was meant in a mali… in an unkindly manner.”

Chapter Text

He had found his way to Hannibal’s secret house on top of the cliff. Francis had come armed and ready to shoot them both, but something about seeing Hannibal select three wine glasses made him falter. They were both waiting for him, Hannibal obviously expecting him to come inside to drink and talk. Francis and Will had already decided on the course for Hannibal inside Will’s hotel room, Will suggesting to Francis to change Hannibal the way he changed the set of suburban families. At the time, he jumped on the idea, even hiding his intent under the ruse of allowing them to escape. Francis had shot all the officers without any hesitation, hopped in his stolen police car, and drove off, elated that his actions allowed Hannibal to leave. Now, he felt conflicted upon spying on them in the doctor’s bluff house, Will perched by the patio window, unable to draw his gaze away from the black sea, muted piano music coming from somewhere behind him in the dimly lit house.

Francis remembered how he had always felt about Hannibal, remembered clipping his handsome face and gluing all his news articles in the great leather book that used to reside in his now destroyed home, knowing deep down that out of everyone on this earth, Hannibal would be able to know and appreciate his glory, withstand his glory unlike anyone else. He was proven correct in their long correspondence, them exchanging letters long before they were caught. Francis tried hard not to let himself be overcome with those emotions he had felt when writing to Hannibal, when breaking into Hannibal’s office to call him on his telephone. It had all be so easy, although in hindsight, the greediness of his phone call was most likely a catalyst into all of this. He would have felt guilty if the exchanges hadn’t been so welcoming.

With the first letter, he had poured himself over it, writing and rewriting, the importance of it causing him to strive for perfection. He didn’t even know whether Hannibal would read it, but he dared regardless, and found himself thoroughly shocked to receive something back. He had known about Hannibal’s correspondence with medical officials, Francis reading some of the articles he could publish while incarcerated. Francis was no medical professional, just an avid fan, his signature on all his letters. The months of almost worry free interaction were blissful, Francis sharing so much of himself and who he would become. In his own guarded way, Hannibal had shared with Francis, too, and Francis was grateful.

Now, after his house burned down, all those people forever dead, Francis realized that he felt grateful for Will, too. Looking at the doctor, who was out of horrible prison clothes, cleaning the three wine glasses, Francis didn’t know what he wanted to do. He had told Will that he still wanted to share, that he still wanted to meet Hannibal, but under Will’s excuse of killing him. In their presence, even if his location was unknown to them, he started to second guess himself.

Their voices were barely audible with the glass, but Francis stunted his breathing and crept closer to listen to them. Will started to walk away from the glass, his back to Francis, as Hannibal entered the room with the wine.

“Was it surprising when you heard from The Great Red Dragon?” Francis felt a large sphere of light enter him at that, Hannibal respectfully using his preferred name. “I admit to have felt a little sadness at the announcement of his death.”

“Surprising, yes. Him faking his death was exactly what we needed for our plan to work. If there is any time left, I’ll have to try and thank him.”

“Time left?” Hannibal tilted his head in questioning.

“I told him I wanted to watch him change you. I’m worried that he’ll do just that.” Will spoke, a guilty expression on his face.

Francis tilted his head a little at Will, the plan yesterday set up to use him. At first, anger sparked deep in his belly at the audacity, but this fleeting feeling died, however, realizing more that he couldn’t blame Will. His desire to be near Hannibal was easily as great as his own, if not more considering their years of history. His stomach lurched deep before he realized he had planned his next move. Coming out of his hiding place, he approached the nearest glass separating them. Will turned, noticing him first, and froze, his eyes betraying his fear.

Hannibal turned then, now a large bottle of deep red wine in his hand. He looked over Francis through the glass, the softest of smiles on his face. Francis burned that smile into his memory, hoping to erase the sadistic smile of pleasure he had received from his grandmother upon adoption day, happy to see his disfigurement. After moments of all of them contemplating each other, Hannibal turned elegantly to the side, extending his free hand toward the door on the other side of the house, smile still in place. Francis moved his eyes slowly from Hannibal, to his hand, to the door, and finally to Will.

Francis could tell that he was trying to keep his cool. Francis knew that Will had the ability to understand anybody, and he may have already figured how Francis was going to approach Hannibal. Taking the plunge, Francis began to undo some of the layers on his tactical clothing, taking out a sidearm and two long knifes, setting them down on the ground. Hannibal watched him curiously, smile just as soft as it had been before. Once he was finished, he walked around the house, abandoning his weaponry altogether, finding the front door unlocked.

Cautiously, he stepped inside the elegant and clean house. He thought that being invited into someone’s home would always be a foreign feeling to him. He could count on one hand how many houses he had been invited into, but it would require a few more hands to count how many houses he had been in uninvited, especially if he was taking into a count his life leading up to his military career as well as his time in the military.

Francis found Hannibal and Will where he had left them, the only noise between them being the lovely piano music that twirled around the room. Will’s eyes were twinkling with powerful emotion, Will’s anxiety manifesting in heat rolling off his form that Francis was able to keenly sense. Hannibal was his conscious serene self, the wine glasses cleaned and filled with a dark hued liquid, looking deliciously like blood. Hannibal turned, grabbed one of the glasses and handed it out to Francis. Hesitantly, he walked to Hannibal and grabbed it from him, his eyes skittering around like a trapped animal.

“Welcome, Francis.” Hannibal offered Will one of the other glasses, Will hesitantly taking it, his eyes still brimming and shining with an attempt at hidden emotion.

Francis stayed silent, his senses sharp, hyper-awareness defensive. Hannibal was cool and calm, no visible heat-signature detected even so close.

“I’m glad you decided to join us.”

“I... Thank you for inviting me into your home.” Francis lifted the glass up to his nose, his skin aware of all available pairs of eyes on him, and breathed in the wine’s scent. He lifted his eyes, Hannibal’s maroon gaze fixated on him for the moment, a soft smirk on his face.

“I admit that I find it strange to see you standing here before me. We’ve been corresponding for so long.” So many S sounds, Francis almost blanched.

“Strange. Yes, I agree. It’s been many months, I think.” Francis knew exactly how long they’ve been corresponding, the date of Hannibal’s first response ingrained in his memory. Will steadily grew warmer, his heat signature rising with the conversation. Francis turned to him directly.

“I hope it isn’t too late to apologize for my behavior toward you in your hotel room.” A half apology. Francis knew that he should feel sorrier, but he was ultimately decisive in his actions toward Will, and overall, it had been effective.

“It isn’t.” Clipped, defensive. Will’s jaw clenched after he said it.

“Will.” Hannibal purred a warning. Will gulped some wine in response, turning himself away from the pair of them.

Chapter Text

‘Shit. Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Where the hell are you, Francis?

His footfalls emitted sharp cracking and crunching noises as he broke the frozen surface of the snow. Will was mentally kicking himself, unbelieving that he would allow his anger to control him like that. Will had known from the beginning of their newly made family that he personally was going to have the most difficult time accepting Francis, and at first, he had purposefully fought all attempts to be more inclusive. It wasn’t that long ago that he started feeling those pangs of guilt, discovering that Francis’ attic haven was a place he immediately regretted not visiting, as well as having no hand in the construction process. Will blamed only himself for all the lost time that he could have spent with not only Francis, but both Francis and Hannibal together.

They had all felt sadness in not being able to stay at the secret bluff house, but with the location far too close to the relentless FBI, they knew that they had to get out of the state fast. Hannibal, appealing to Will’s keen interests toward the outdoors, had purchased ahead of time a beautiful, wide lodge located in some of the mountains in Montana. The mountains were perfect, treacherous enough in the winter to halt most if any investigations. Will was feeling that hazardousness now, the snow pelting large flakes onto his covered head and building up on his shoulders.

Will thought that their initial meetings, although shy and reserved as a whole, had gone very well up until this point. In Hannibal’s absence, and insistence, Will had made it a habit of having at least morning and evening tea with Francis, bit by bit learning more about Francis’ life. Will’s not-so-shocking discovery of the abuse that Francis had gone through, Francis surely only sharing a fraction of his horrors, threw a wrench in his stubborn unacceptance. It became increasingly aware that he hadn’t been born what he was, his genetic mutation making Will, and everyone else, assume so wrongly. In a Quid Pro Quo fashion, Will revealed pieces of his life to Francis as well, surprised by his interest. Will had the feeling that Francis’ interests in him were correlated to his interests in anything Hannibal enjoyed, although after a few tentative days, Will was finding them both more relaxed with each other, more willing with each other. Will had found that he reveled in the realness of Francis, contrasting harshly in comparison to Hannibal’s ethereal, otherworldly perfection. After a few days, Will had found himself subconsciously planning things for them to do once the weather had lightened up.

Will looked back at his shin-deep tracks, the snow falling at such a rate that a dusting was already starting to fill and hide his footfalls. He had been walking for a half an hour already, his thighs screaming with cold behind the denim. In his anger, Will had been content with letting him run out of the house, but realizing that he honestly wanted to build some kind of relationship with Francis, as well as the genetic afflictions making Francis extremely susceptible to cold, made him brave out into the weather.

Hannibal, when asked, had been unclear about Francis’ exact conditions, Will finding how dragonesque Francis really was by sneaking scrutinizing glances at him and asking the right questions during their later teatimes. Francis, once, allowed Will to openly peer at his face, finding his double eyelids and thin slits for pupils interesting and not off-putting like Francis had expected.

As Will was approaching the original starting point of his patrol, he noticed a deeper and recently made set of footprints, going into the neighboring trees and approximately toward in the direction of a nearby river that Will had planned to fish in. Panicked, Will started to run along the footsteps, his untied boots loudly thudding against his feet, determined to find Francis and bring him back into the heat before any real damage would occur. To Will’s mixed relief, he found Francis curled against a tree, his blue hands clinging to a small jacket that wasn’t able to close completely around Francis’ intimidating girth.

“Oh, my god, Francis!” Will couldn’t help but exclaim at the sight of a shriveled, shivering, blue Francis. Will dove to the ground, his knees contacting roughly at the frozen ground beneath the shin-deep snow. Upon seeing Francis, Will had immediately taken off his own jacket, throwing it around Francis. Francis opened his eyes against the wind, glaring at Will.

“I know, I’m… I’m sorry. Let’s get you back?” Will attempted to help Francis off the snow, Francis fighting at first, still hurt and angry. Will felt that Francis had ran more to protect Hannibal’s interests, both wanting and not wanting to physically hurt Will in his anger. “Please, we need to get you back inside before you catch your death.”

“D-Do you even want me t-to come back?” Francis’ deep voice shivered out, his eyes closing again as a particularly strong gust of wind blew snow in all directions around them. Will moved in front of him, blocking the wind.

‘Why are you even here? Why would Hannibal want someone like you? You weren’t supposed to come with. You aren’t supposed to be here.’ Will could see his words in the hurt behind Francis’ eyes, and Will flinched at hearing them echoing in his head.

“Yes, Francis, of course I do. I didn’t mean what I had said. I don’t know why I said those things, but what I do know is that I want you to come back with me. We’ll get you warm and then we can talk, okay? Just, please… come back home with me?” Francis raised his blue eyes to crash onto Will’s, Will refusing to look away although desiring to escape the intensity. Will tried to smile gently, the unsettling cold making it difficult. He started to rub at Francis’ shoulders and arms, determined to start the warming process.

“Please?” Will asked again, his tone warm and genuine.

Francis rose, his thinly covered legs shaking, and Will tried his best to hold up more of Francis’ weight. Francis could barely move, the sharp cold restricting his movement severely. They weren’t too far away from the lodge, but the speed of their movement would only make matters worse. Will’s mind was racing, torn between the realization that carrying Francis home would be faster and the knowledge that Francis was easily 4 inches taller and extremely musclebound. If he had more time, he would have made a sleigh made of loose pine branches to pull Francis on. Stopping them both from their slow pace, Will moved around to Francis’ front, offering him his back.

“It’ll be faster if I carry you.” Will tried to keep the shiver out of his voice, the loss of his jacket affecting him quicker than anticipated.

“C-can you?” Francis started to press against Will’s back, unsure about climbing on completely.

“We’ll find out!” Will joked, and with all his might, concentrated on carrying Francis’ weight once he had hopped on.

Francis had been as heavy as expected, but in his dire state, Will found the drive to trundle to the lodge, snow kicking up around him with every step. He was bitterly cold, the wind unrelenting and the snow continuing down, but his discomfort couldn’t possibly compare to Francis’. Francis was clinging onto him with his great strength, desperate for warmth. His two opened jackets had revealed a bare torso as he climbed on, and his chest was pressed up tightly against Will’s exposed sweater, the only warm contact for them both.

At the sight of the lodge, Francis dropped off Will’s back, a breathy thank you muttered in between large quakes of cold. Will’s thighs felt like rocks once Francis left him, his muscles fluttering haphazardly throughout his legs. Will allowed Francis to go ahead of him, noting how his home felt more complete with Francis back. Francis swung the door open roughly, almost breaking the door off the hinges in his desperation to get inside. Once the inner door was opened and he had stepped inside, however, Francis keened painfully and stepped quickly back outside, running into Will. Instinctually, Will pressed himself tight against Francis, wrapping his arms around him and holding his back to him. He started to rub at Francis’ limbs again, trying to stimulate his skin for warmth.

“Are you okay? Is it painful?”

“P-Painful. Too hot… It burns.”

“We’ll go slow, okay? But, we gotta get you inside.”

Francis nodded, and took a tentative step inside the opened door, the collected heat pouring out towards them from inside. Eventually, Francis determinedly flung himself deep into the house, shivering and dropping to the ground in his overwhelming agony. Will closed and locked the doors behind him, kneeling onto the wet floor to stroke at Francis again. Will took off the coats Francis had been wearing, exposing his bare torso, allowing the heat to really get to his bluish skin. Francis moaned in pain again, attempting to back away from the source of his agony toward the door. Will positioned himself between Francis and the door, allowing Francis to retreat into his front again.

Will took off his gloves and returned to stroking at Francis’ shoulders and arms, his muscles quivering tensely under icy, smooth skin. Will turned his attentions from Francis’ arms and shoulders to the rough hide of his back, spreading his fingers wide and rubbing slowly up and down. Francis’ keening died, and slowly his muscles started to relax, his breathing still slightly hitched by shivering. Will started losing himself after some time while touching Francis, finding some mediation in the repeated sensation against his hands, the continuous movement of them sliding all the way up and all the way down the length of his burly back. Will was able to tell that Francis found his comforting hypnotic, too, his breathing eventually matching the movement of his hands. Will started to switch his movements, starting to rub his back in alternating circles, Francis’ body slightly rocking with the movement. Will had the sudden desire to use his short nails and scratch his back, wondering if that would feel good for Francis, but stopped, feeling awkward at the want.

Will moved his hands from Francis’ back to his front to combat his intuition, the toned muscles of his front feeling both wonderfully soft and solid in comparison to his back. Running his hands up Francis’ stomach, ribs and chest, Will felt Francis’ breath catch a little, him gently leaning into the touch. Will knew that Francis would have never let him touch his body in this way, but considering the situation and his desperateness for heat, he allowed the intrusion. The power that Will was feeling under his hands was immense, his empathy taking over a little and feeling his own body developed superiorly like Francis’. The meditation of his repetitious movements found him again, and Will started to purposefully time the upward slide of his hands with the intake of Francis’ breath. He spread his roughened fingers wide to maximize stimulation, his hands running up and over Francis’ pectorals, each calloused fingertip passing by Francis’ nipples. Francis made a startled moan at this contact and stilled severely, the sudden tensing of his bulky muscles pulling Will away from his meditation. Will shook his head a little, jarring his mind out of the reverie, stopping all contact.

“Let’s get you away from the door. We can either stay down here and make a fire or get you up to your attic.”

“Here is fine…”

Will kicked off his untied boots, revealing drenched socks. He padded over damply into the living room, prepping a fireplace with a few embers still smoldering from earlier. Within a few minutes, he had a blazing fire going, choosing a couple oak logs that he had cut up mostly for emergencies to mix with some pine. Oak burned the longest and the hottest, and pine burned the fastest. The fire was showing the strength of the oak now, near-white flames licking up the chimney, and Will became aware of a different kind of burning across his back from Francis watching him. Will turned around to see Francis still on his hands and knees by the door, his gaze unwavering, and Will opened his arms, beckoning.

“Fire is going nice and strong now if you want to make your way over here.”

Francis slowly made his way over, traveling toward Will on his hands and knees. Will watched Francis’ toned body move with the crawl, amazed that it could look as intimidating as it did and surprisingly natural. Francis’ form didn’t look odd at all with his movements. Francis halted a few times as he grew closer to the fire, it now hot enough to even be uncomfortable for Will. In Francis’ pause, Will took off his first layer of clothing in his discomfort, a simple cotton sweater that Hannibal had tried to replace with something more high end, revealing a long sleeved plaid shirt that was unbuttoned, a simple white undershirt apparent. Meeting Francis some of the way, he slid backwards over to the front part of the leather couch that was directly in front of the fire and sat against it, his arms still open, finding himself happy when Francis decided to settle into them. Francis was shaking in a different way now, brave against the flames that Will could tell were hurting his skin.

Will raised his hand to rub at Francis’ skin again, wrapping his left arm around Francis, idly stroking up and down his bare back. Will’s stomach churned with the deep, pleasurable noise Francis made, Francis leaning into Will’s hand again. Will stopped his movements at the noise, the awkwardness of his intentions finding him again.

“Are you feeling better?” Will’s voice was soft, almost a whisper.

“I’ll be alright now, I think. It s-still burns.”

“Here, why don’t you let me make you some tea for once. I’ll be right back.” Will stood, ready to make his way into the kitchen, when something caught his pant leg. Looking down, he saw Francis holding onto them, his fist tightly bunching up the denim material. Francis’ eyes were downcast in shame as he whispered,

“Not yet.”

“It’ll only take a…”

“Don’t leave.”

Will, shocked mostly, sat back down and wrapped his arm around the bulk of the Dragon, watching as he resettled against his smaller body, closing his eyes contently against his warmth. This tender action toyed with Will’s insides, more ashamed of his anger now more than ever. After many minutes of holding Francis and watching the fire, Will finally broke the silence.

“Francis, I didn’t have any right to say those things to you. I was… I was out of line, completely.” Heat found his face then from Francis’ gaze, and he summoned up the courage to look up at him. “I’m sorry. I hope you still want to stay here with us… I hope you still want to stay here with me.” Will’s eyes drifted down conditionally, taking in the sharpness of Francis’ features, the normal paleness of his skin thankfully returning.

“I… forgive you, Will, and I want to s… I don’t want to leave.” Will gathered him close again. Francis, relaxing a little, leaned his head down to rest against Will’s shoulder. It took another bout of silence for Will to gather the courage to say some things that had been on his mind since Hannibal left.

“I haven’t said anything about this so far, and maybe I shouldn’t now, but do you remember that time you broke into my hotel room?” The top of his head nodded against Will’s neck, so he continued, “You spoke perfectly then, no troubles on your sibilant or fricative S.” Francis lifted his head at this, bravely peering over into Will’s eyes, taking his criticism. Will tried not to focus on the immediate defense he saw behind his eyes, continuing past the hurt.

“It is easier said than done, not literally of course, but I’d like you to try to be more confident in what you’re saying. I know that you can speak well, I’ve heard you before. I don’t want to hear you censored. I want to hear what you have to say. Can you try to do that for me?”

“Yes. I’ll try.” The yes was already and improvement, Francis opting out for humming approvals instead. Francis’ eyes dropped, and Will could feel how odd promises were for someone like Francis.

“Thank you…” Will smiled. “For more than that… Thank you, for everything.”

“Like what?”

“When Hannibal had left those few weeks ago, I had an epiphany while sitting upstairs drinking tea with you. It became increasingly aware to me that I owe you so much. In fact, I owe you all of this.” Will gestured toward the lodge, then looked deep into Francis’ confused eyes, wanting him to see and feel his sincerity.

“Because of you, none of this would be possible. When I came to visit you in the attic, I had apologized for using you to aid in Hannibal’s escape, but I didn’t thank you for it. You stole a squad car, killed police officers, without any hesitation. Your affinity for Hannibal and his interest in you, although painful at the time, made this real. Hannibal and I… our past is complicated. It took me a long time to see, to accept not just his feelings toward me but also who he is. Once I was able to accept him, it was too late. We were separated for three years, until the calling of The Great Red Dragon. Although I’m sure this wasn’t your intention, but you drove the FBI to desperate measures, making them feel like they needed people like Hannibal and I to consult on your case.” Francis had noticeably flushed in pleasure at his name, and Will continued, not breaking eye contact.

“I had thanked you for not changing us, considering you had brought materials to do just that, but there was so much more I should have thanked you for. I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner, but I hope you know how genuine I am. My stubbornness lost a lot of time between not only us two, but the three of us. I hope that can change now. I hope you want that to change.” Will raised a hand up to touch Francis’ face. Francis tilted his head back at first, his nostrils flaring with his sharp intake of breath. Francis stopped, though, breathing heavily through the anxiety of Will touching him. Will stroked his one cheek lightly, his thumb memorizing the shape of his face, waiting until Francis started to lean into his warm hand, his eyes eventually closing under furrowed brows.

“I do. I would like the three of us to be closer, to become a real… family.” Francis’ deep voice was hesitant, afraid to speak his desires out loud. Will smiled at his acceptance.

“Francis…” Blue eyes shot open, his gaze scalding as Will whispered, “Thank you.”

Will leaned in and swiftly kissed him, afraid of his own instinctual desire as well as the possible violent rejection from the Dragon. Francis froze, not retreating from the kiss, but holding his breath inside, his eyes racing between Will’s. Determined to keep it natural, Will broke the tension.

“Can I make you that tea now?”

“Yes… thank you.” Francis finally whispered, his deep voice rumbling breathlessly.

Will walked into the kitchen, trying to control his calm while preparing the tea, but the shaking of his hands told him that he was surprised with himself. He couldn’t tell if he was touch-starved, Hannibal being gone for weeks now with no communication hinting toward his return, or whether he had genuinely wanted to kiss Francis. By the time the kettle screamed, Will realized it was because he had wanted to kiss him, to comfort him.

Will prepared a small tray with the kettle and teacups, finding and serving some cheese and fruit. Will left the kitchen, and upon seeing Francis, almost dropped the tray. Francis had become more comfortable in front of the fire, the damp, thin pants he had been wearing folded over the arm of the couch, his solid body outstretched stomach down on the floor. It reminded Will of when he first disturbed Francis on what he later found out was a hollow heating stone. The light of the fire reddened Francis’ skin, emitting the same glow that his UV light bulbs did. His arms were folded under his head, his back muscles bunched and flared, displaying the dragon tattoo. The tail of it was leading and curling further down on his body, catching Will’s eye. Before Will found Francis’ lower half, he rushed forward, sitting by Francis’ head. Francis lifted his torso up, resting the weight of it on his elbows to receive the needed tea.

The fire was really alive now, Will happy to see the bared Red Dragon soaking the heat in.

“How are you feeling?” Will asked again. Francis moaned into his tea in response, blissful by the fire, eating the cheese and fruit with fervor. The moan settled in Will’s stomach again, and Will rose to sit back on the actual couch, needing distance from both his sudden feelings toward Francis and the fire. Francis watched him but said nothing, choosing to sip at his tea until it was finished before speaking.

“Why did you kiss me?” Will was half expecting that question, but hopeful that it wouldn’t have been asked.

“I was asking myself the same thing while I was making tea. I was worried.”

“Worried?”

“Worried that I was kissing you out of loneliness or something relatively superficial like that.” Francis’ head hung slightly lower, and Will continued in a rush, “But as soon as I considered that, I realized that wasn’t the case. I kissed you because I wanted to comfort you, to show you that I was genuine and honest. And, ultimately, I kissed you because I wanted to.” Will had said the latter into his teacup, not sure how to feel about his desire or his shame.

Will was gazing into the dark brown liquid when both the liquid and his body shifted with new weight on the couch. Afraid to look over, Will waited and felt Francis settle next to him like he had when they were on the floor. Saving the tea, he rested the cup on the side table and laid back, opening his posture to allow the Dragon to settle comfortably. The couch was long enough for both Hannibal and Francis, both gentlemen just over 6 feet tall, so Will was able to lay back and allow Francis to settle on top of him without fear. Will expected Francis to lay down on top or on the side of him, maybe put his head on his chest and re-immerse himself with a more personal warmth. Will didn’t foresee Francis crawling up to hover over him, resting his hands on either side of Will’s head, his eyes crashing against Will’s, unwavering and penetrating. Will’s breathing spiked at being boxed in by the powerhouse, quickened at the eye contact that Francis seemed determined to make, and shuddered softly at the sensation of one of Francis’ knees in between his.

“Francis?”

No response. Francis lifted one of his hands, and cautiously cupped Will’s face like he had done previously, his thumb gently rubbing Will’s cheek. Francis’ eyes moved from his, resolutely looking over his face. He became reacquainted with the flames of Francis’ eyes, white-hot embers stroking along his curly hair, his eyes, his nose, and finally his lips. Francis moved his hand from Will’s cheek, and softly ran a fingertip along Will’s top lip, momentarily tracing where Will’s scar wasn’t. Will instinctively wet his upper lip with his tongue, tasting Francis’ fingertip. Francis’ pupils, normally slits in the light, blew wide at this sensation, his eyelids drooping and his mouth parting open slightly.

“I can see now I made a mistake in what I had said to Hannibal about you.” The Dragon rumbled out softly, the bass of his voice quivering Will’s middle.

“What did you say about me?”

“I had called you odd-looking for an investigator, and I said you weren’t very handsome. Clearly, I was wrong.” Francis hesitated, returning his hand to Will’s cheek, then leaned forward and kissed Will, making up for his lack of response earlier.

If Will had thought the fire was hot, nothing compared to the heavy flames that were gracing his lips. Will didn’t rush Francis, happy that Francis wanted a more lingering kiss than Will had given him before. Francis’ hand never left his cheek, cupping it gently even as the passion between the kiss grew. Francis, probably more touch-deprived than most, started to run away with the affection, his kissing growing more rough and confident, his hips lowering to press the warmth of his stirring erection against Will’s hips. As Will slipped out a moan into Francis’ hungry mouth, however, Francis backed away from him swiftly after, the reality of the situation hitting him. His bulky form moved to tensely sit at the end of the couch by Will’s feet, waves of trepidation rolling off his body toward his empathy.

“W-wait…” Will’s voice took a little more effort than normal to sound out, his blue eyes fluttering along with his heaving chest.

“I’m s-s… I… I need to go.” Before Will could say anything, Francis stood and swiftly made his way across the living room and up the stairs.


 

A deep, sweltering vice was holding his insides hostage, twisting within him relentlessly, and the haven of his attic was useless against the ever-growing passion Francis was feeling. Once he stepped foot into his attic, he slammed the door behind him, and braced himself against the door with his thick arms. The air up here felt thin, the normal humidity absent, and Francis anxiously breathed in giant gulps of breath, groaning painfully after his lungs felt close to bursting with the forcing of air. The possibility for requited affection after Reba was earth-shaking and undoing. Just like the love he had felt for Grandmother when he was child, Francis was completely overwhelmed with the love that was building inside of himself, his body threatening to burst.

Panicked at the way he was feeling, he pushed himself off the door and ran to the section of the attic containing his bed, turning right to enter the tiny kitchen area that only contained a sink, a cabinet above it mounted on the wall for his tea set, and a small gas-powered stove top. Quickly, he grabbed the dishtowel that was draped over the sink, practically flinging himself onto his bed. He was racing against time, and Francis knew it, knew that if he didn’t do something about the love that was raping his insides he would kill, maim, change someone again. All the progress he had achieved becoming other, becoming more than the abandoned mutant his grandmother had known, becoming more than the weak-minded slave that the dragon had taken control of, would be undone.

Kneeling on his bed, he laid the towel out before him and licked his hand to saturate the whole of it completely in saliva, wrapping it around his cock with a whine of pleasure. It was still half hard from the stimulating attentions he still felt brazen hot on his lips from Will. He aided his erection swiftly, tugging and stroking wetly until he was fully hard. The air was even more thin now, his body and soul so close to utter destruction. His strokes quickly became more adamant, the vice releasing his insides. Francis wouldn’t stop, even as the spit he used started to dry, the friction between his rough hand and hard cock sheer bliss in comparison to the bursting sensation of love.

Francis’ abdomen and thighs quivered as he pleasured himself, tensing and releasing rhythmically with each strong wave of pleasure that radiated and rolled throughout him. Francis desperately plunged his other hand among his thighs, rubbing and circling at the place deep between his legs, feeling the hidden length of his cock convulsing along with the pleasure there. Francis heard himself whining, unaware that he had been making any sound during his desperate attempt to ebb the violent impulses he associated with his love. Worried that he would be caught, and even more concerned that he would kill Will, he withdrew the hand deep between his legs and bit deeply into his own forearm, deciding that he would rather tear his own flesh.

Blood rushed between his lips, a delicious fluid that hadn’t graced Francis’ mouth in months. The metallic taste of his blood brought him even closer to the edge, the pain of his strong teeth embedded in the flesh of his arm swirling wonderfully with the fiery pleasure that raced throughout his cock. His orgasm was so close now, he could feel the whole length of his cock throbbing with violent pangs of pleasure in his now precum covered hand. His building orgasm felt akin to a rope being pulled tightly, different than the vice he felt before. He could feel that it was about to snap, a dreadful, joyous anticipation. He felt that surely the death that could possibly follow the rope breaking was something he had been searching for all along. Viscerally, he bit deeper as he became closer to release, submerging his teeth to the gum line. He choked a little on the blood that rushed into his mouth, moaning against the muscle of his forearm.

His ecstasy came with unrelenting, commanding pulses, rocking his whole body. He heard through the flesh of his arm his own wailing, deep and desperate. His cum came in streams, each pump of his cum splattering hard against the towel in front of him, hot over his fingers, and Francis watched his completion, admiring his own milky white arterial spray. Once his cum started to ebb, aftershocks of pleasure moved from his cock and made their fleeting homes within his limbs, his body twitching. Releasing his forearm, he held his arm tight to him as his body rocked out the residual force of his release.


 

Will laid brazen on the couch, his chest still quivering with his rushed breath, his pants feeling tight against him. His roughened hands found his face, scrubbing at it with his anxiety, contemplating whether he should let Francis go seek his solitude or go after him. Will admitted to himself that he felt nervous, almost afraid, of pressuring or pursuing Francis, understanding his deep capability for violence. Will knew that Francis had evolved since his murders, remembering the instance in the hotel when Francis had admitted to deciding not to change Reba, declaring his strength over the dragon deity that Francis had chosen to be his patron saint, but he was still cautious.

Once the stirrings deep in his belly soothed, Will got up from the couch and made his way to the attic, timid and quiet on the stairs directly outside Francis’ door. Will hovered in the door frame, anxiety replacing the desire in his stomach. He was afraid to enter, the fear reminiscent of the first time he visited Francis. Will raised a hand to knock politely on the door when a low moaning found his ears. Will froze and listened to the sounds that faintly made their way past the door. He heard a shuddering, choking gasp and then a wailing, muffled slightly by something else besides the door. He instinctively threw the door open, worried that he was crying out in pain, the attic cooler than normal from the lack of residency.

Will ran inside the room, ready to comfort Francis and to convince him to either come back to the fire or to turn on his heating stone and UV bulbs. With four strides, he cleared the small foyer and the room with the zabuton cushions, diving deep into the empty heating room. Upon reaching the opened shoji doors leading to Francis’ bedroom, Will saw many things at once. He saw Francis’ shining form, quivering and shakily bent over a towel that was draped on his small twin-sized bed. He saw a splattering of white decorating the towel, and small rivers of blood were trailing down one of Francis’ arms. Both turned away from each other, Will finding solace behind one of the shoji, horror replacing his momentary embarrassment at catching Francis’.

“Was… was that blood?” He asked from the other side of the door.

Silence from the Dragon besides heavy breathing, Will feeling slightly guilty that he was ruining Francis’ afterglow. Shocking himself, Will came back around the shoji, seeing him still bent over the towel, his one arm being held tightly to his chest. Once Will breached the doors, Francis’ head whipped around, his pupils still blown wide with a mixture of pleasure, darkness, and fear, and his mouth was dyed dark with his own blood.

“Did you hurt yourself?” Will asked quietly, reaching toward Francis’ shoulder nearest to him. Francis jerked out of the way, his head turning and his gaze fixating on the wall.

“Show me? Please?” Will reached for his shoulder again, the blood starting to travel down Francis’ smooth front, pooling underneath him. As soon as his fingertips touched him, Francis whipped his bleeding hand around, catching Will by the wrist, a deep growl threatening.

Will couldn’t help but gasp at the swift action, his hand immediately pulsing with the trapped blood. Although fear was hitting his heart at his controlled grip, he found the moment to see the source of the bleeding. There was a deep bitemark that was embedded in Francis’ forearm. Will gazed at the wound, empathy sparking alive at the emotions he was detecting off Francis, feeling a mixture of muted pleasure, deep despair, humiliation, self-hatred, and anger. The layering of his emotions caught Will’s eyes unexpectedly, feeling them tear up and leak hot on his cheeks at the overwhelming sensations. Francis’ nostrils flared, most likely smelling the salt of Will’s tears, and he swung his head over to peer up at Will. He was already finished crying.

“Francis, your arm…” Will whispered, and Francis’ grip loosened with his soft tone. Will used the loosening of his hold to kneel down on the bed behind Francis, happy that he didn’t back away or violently react. Will wrapped himself over Francis’ back, pulling him into his front, allowing Francis to put his arm tight against his chest again. Francis hung his head down, and Will leaned forward to plant soft, reassuring kisses down the back of his neck and across his shoulders. Francis, relaxed at this, the fear of being in trouble leaving his body.

“Let’s take a look at that.” Will whispered against the kissed flesh, and Francis turned, allowing Will to examine it.

“I’m not a professional, but let’s get some pressure on it, then we can see how deep it is.” Will looked toward the marked towel, unable to control the flush that mottled his cheeks at the sight of Francis’ release. Francis, seeing Will looking, folded the towel to both hide his shame and as well to expose the unused sides. Will tried to ignore the scent of his release, more obvious now that Francis was folding the towel. Will licked his lips and swallowed heavily, the stirrings reentering deep in his stomach.

Taking the folded towel when it was finally offered to him, he pressed it against Francis’ forearm, using his other hand to lift up the injured arm well above his heart.

“I’m s-sorry…” Francis finally muttered. He lifted his other arm to wipe at the blood on his mouth, his tongue cleaning what his arm couldn’t.

‘There is absolutely nothing to be sorry for. I just wish you wouldn’t have ran off, and I’m sad to see you hurt, but I understand.”

“You understand?” Francis asked in a pained whisper.

“I can feel both your pleasure and displeasure, feel how ashamed you are of something that isn’t to be ashamed of, feel how angry you are and how deep your self-hatred is… You’re right, that really isn’t the same as understanding, but I’m aware, and empathy or not, I’m affected. If anyone should be apologizing, it should be me. I didn’t mean to pressure you into…”

“It isn’t that. You didn’t pressure me, I… I haven’t felt this way since…” Francis didn’t want to speak her name. He continued, “I don’t know what to do about how I feel. Every other time I’ve felt this… powerfully for someone… I’ve… expressed it differently than conventional standards.”

“You changed them out of love?”

 “I’m not used to being accepted and wanted physically, or romantically, in general. Even less so with men. I have been afraid to be perceived homosexual, and I never thought about pursuing another male… until Hannibal.”

“Have you and Hannibal…” Will started to question, but his throat closed before he could finish it, not exactly sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

“No, I… I’ve only been with women.” Will’s thoughts turned to the autopsy reports of Mrs. Jacobi and Mrs. Leeds, both noting the attentions he gave to them.

“If there is one thing I can understand, it is Hannibal’s ability to make yourself question everything you dared to say you knew about yourself. Or anything, for that matter.” Will tentatively peeled back some of the towel to see the progress of the bleeding, happy to see it ebbing away. “Looks like the bleeding stopped. Why don’t we get you a better bandage?”

“I’ll be okay.” Francis didn’t follow Will’s lead off the bed, choosing to replace Will’s pressure on his wound with his own hand.

“I’d feel better if we looked at it properly and put something on it. It doesn’t have to be a bandage if it bothers you.” Will didn’t want to push him anymore, but with the quantity of blood that had started trailing down his arm and body, he could tell that it was deep.

“It’ll heal fine enough on its own. We just need to let it be.” Francis peeled the towel back completely, wiping a little at the edges of the bite. The mark, surprising Will, was more shallow than it had been only minutes prior.

“You can regenerate?” Will sat back on the bed, in front of Francis this time.

“Some, yes.”

“Your biology never ceases to amaze me, Francis.” Francis allowed a smile before tossing the thoroughly used towel into a small trashcan at the end of his bed.

“Do you scar?”

“Minimally.”