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Tell Me a Story

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“Papa, don’t go! Don’t leave me!” Hanni Lecter cried as he clung to the older man that shared his name. “Please, Papa, please don’t go!”

Hannibal Lecter, Sr., buried a kiss in the boy’s hair and rubbed his back. “Calm down, sweet boy, I cannot talk to you while you are like this.”

Hanni shook his head, unintentionally wiping his face on the man’s suit, and continued to cry.

The 122nd North American Psychological Association Annual Convention was being held in Toronto, Ontario, instead of Washington, D.C., as they usually did. The doctor was not one to pass up an opportunity to improve his practice. Unfortunately, it meant there was a broken-hearted little boy that was going to be left behind.

“Hanni, you’re a good boy, right?”

Hanni shook his head without lifting it, inciting a chuckle from the doctor.

“No?” Hannibal asked, trying to pull the boy back to look at him without hurting him.

Hanni shrugged. He was a good boy but that didn’t matter at the moment. He wiped his face on his sleeve much to Papa’s displeasure.

“None of that,” Hannibal said, pulling out a handkerchief to wipe the boy’s wet cheeks and then letting him blow his nose. “Gentleman do not wipe their nose on their sleeves.”

“Don’t care” Hanni muttered, and his lower lip started to tremble again. “Don’t want you to go.”

“It’s only for two nights, Hanni, and then I’ll be back in time for dinner and to tuck you in,” Hannibal told the boy.

Even though it had been months since his parents took a break, a break that had lasted less than two weeks, Hanni could not stand the idea of them being separated. Tears quickly formed and spilled over again.

“Don’t go!”

“I would not go if it was not important,” Hannibal explained, bringing his face close to his son's. “And when it is over, I will be back.”

“Promise?”

“Of course. I’ll always come back,” Hannibal pulled the boy close, wrapping him in a strong hug. “It won’t be so bad for you, do you know why?” Hannibal felt the curls brush against his cheek as the boy shook his head. “You will have Daddy with you and I will have no one.”

“Then you shouldn’t go,” the boy muttered, surprising the older man with his mature and insightful, if somewhat smart retort. Oh, the boy was definitely his Daddy’s son.

Hannibal gave a playful growl and tickled the boy’s sides until the other begged for mercy.

***

“Don’t go,” Will said, and it was only half playful as he leaned against the counter and watched the older man separate food into plastic containers.

“Don’t you start,” Hannibal said, the warning carrying from his voice to the knife in his hand that he was pointing at the younger man.

Will moved the knife away with the tip of his finger and a cheeky grin. It made Hannibal groan and he reached out to curl an arm around Will and pull him close, harshly and without letting go of the knife. The younger man collided with his chest and was pushed back with a kiss, leaning back against the arm that kept him in place at the small of his back.

Will moaned and pulled away, resting his forehead against the other’s lips. “How long 'til your flight?”

“Three and a half hours,” Hannibal said, pressing a kiss into the skin. “I’m … I’m going to miss you.”

Will chuckled and didn’t mention the hesitation. After being together for years, it seemed that only in the last year the older man started to realize how much he liked having Will around.

“I left plenty of food,” Hannibal said. “The containers are marked with instruction for heating.”

“Heating? Like with fire?” Will blinked up at him owlishly. “But fire hurts. Fire bad.”

“Very funny, Agent Graham,” Hannibal said, smiling. “I do trust you with the oven. Even after you nearly burned down my house.”

Will blushed, mouth open, then snapped it shut, pouting. “That was years ago! And you said we never have to speak about it again!”

“When you act like a child-”

Will kissed him to shut him up, arms around the other’s shoulders.

“Two days of leaving my clothes on the floor and dishes in the sink,” Will told him, that arrogant smile returning as they pulled away. “Dr. Lecter, I just might have to change the locks.”

“Silly boy,” Hannibal smiled as well. “Don’t you know it will take more than wood and steel to keep me away?”

***

“I miss Papa,” Hanni said, pushing his train around his feet. “Can we call him?”

“In a little bit, baby,” Will told him, reaching out to brush some hair back. It had only been a few hours since the man left and though he was never loud or overly active, Hannibal's absence was greatly felt.

“Why can’t we go with him?” Hanni asked, not for the first time.

“Because I have work and you have school,” Will patiently answered, knowing the question would be repeated soon enough.

“Poor Papa,” Hanni sighed. “He’s all alone.”

Will could not stand the look of despair on the little face. He got up and nodded towards the hallway, “Come on, let’s get your coat.”

“Where we going, Daddy?” Hanni asked, already running down the hallway to get his jacket.

“You’ll see.”

**

Hannibal closed the door and looked around the suite. It was large, tastefully decorated, and very empty. Except for his office, he was never more than a few walls away from the sound of their dog, his son, and his lover. Never too loud but there, solid and real and consistent for the last few years.

Hannibal made sure the place was up to his standards and set to unpacking. He opened the suitcase and couldn’t help the smile that spread. On top of his neatly packed shirts, was his son’s slightly dirty stuffed dog, Little Winston, and one of Hanni’s drawings.

He traced his son’s name and put it on the night stand along with the dog. He tapped its plastic nose and shook his head, unable to hold back the smile that formed or that silly warm feeling that blossomed deep inside.

***

“That’s not how Papa makes them,” Hanni said, frowning at the pancakes on his plate.

“You may be able to pull that stuff on your Papa, but it won’t work on me,” Will grinned and tapped the plate much like Papa would have. “Eat up.”

Hanni took a small bite and chewed it slowly. “My tummy hurts.”

“Maybe we over did it with the hotdogs last night,” Will grimaced.

“They were yummy.”

At the age when most kids started to become picky, Hannibal Lecter, Jr., knew better than to turn down new foods before trying them. He trusted his papa and was always open to trying new things. Still, as diverse as his little palate was, he almost never had street food. The Italian festival was in the right place and right time.

“Yes, they were,” Will grinned. He walked around to the boy’s side of the table and kissed his forehead. “You don’t feel warm. Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

“No, Daddy,” the boy shook his head. He was a big boy and didn’t need to be asked.

“All right,” Will ruffled his hair. “Think you can finish up one pancake for me?”

Hanni scrunched up his nose but nodded.

“It’s not that bad,” Will grumbled and nudged the boy’s shoulder, inciting a small giggle.

***

Will dismissed his class and ran across campus to the day care. He arrived to find Hanni, pale and covered with sweat, an acidic smell clinging to him as he whimpered on the small cot.

“Hey buddy,” Will sank to his knees by the cot and laid a hand over the boy’s forehead.

Hanni whimpered out a ‘Daddy’ as he turned into the cool palm while Will listened to the teacher. It had started off as a stomach ache but by lunch turned to diarrhea and vomit. They had called him right away, but in the time it took Will to get to them Hanni had threw up again. Will could tell the boy was running a fever and wasted no time getting the boy in the car and to the ER.

***

Hanni wouldn’t stop whimpering, clinging to Will with all his strength, as the doctor tried to examine him.

“Son, I’m just going to touch your tummy,” the older man explained in a patient voice that only one that spends his day with children possesses.

“No, hurts,” Hanni shook his head and cried into Will’s neck. “Don’t let him hurt me, Daddy.”

“Shh, baby, he’s not going to hurt you,” Will soothed, too worried to look apologetic. “He’s a doctor. Like Papa.”

“I want Papa to do it,” Hanni whimpered and let go just enough to look at his daddy. “Please? Can Papa come home.”

“Yes, of course,” Will nodded. “I’ll call him right now but you have to let the doctor check you out.”

Hanni nodded and agreed to lie down.

“I’m going to press down on your belly, all right? It’s going to hurt but I need you to be strong and tell me where you feel the pain. Think you can do that for me?” The doctor asked, giving the boy a sympathetic smile.

“Ok,” Hanni nodded and sniffed.

Will stood by the bed, one hand on his son’s head for support and the other on his cell phone, so he could call Hannibal as soon as the ER doctor let him know what was happening.

***

It was after six when Hanni was finally carried to bed. The boy was still vomiting and needed to go the bathroom a few times every hour. He had been hooked up to the IV to keep him hydrated and had been discharged with a few instruction and some medication.

“Daddy, don’t leave,” Hanni begged as Will set him down on the bed.

“I’m not, baby,” Will laid a kiss on the boy’s head and let out a desperate groan when it still seemed too hot even to him. Hanni was usually such a healthy child. “I’m going to get your jammies and tuck you in.”

“Is Papa coming?”

“On the next plane here,” Will reassured him as he knelt by the boy and started to remove his shoes. “Help me out, okay? Start taking off your shirt.”

“It’s cold,” Hanni complained but started to work on the buttons.

“I know, we’ll get you tucked in really soon,” He picked up the boy and carried him to the bathroom.

***

Hanni twisted and turned and whimpered under the blankets. Will couldn’t watch it anymore. He lifted the boy, grabbed the blankets and sat down in the old rocking chair that still stood in the corner of the room. He placed the boy on his lap and wrapped the blankets around them. Hanni gave a tired sigh and settled down.

It was all his fault. Stomach flu. Gastroenteritis. It didn’t matter what they called it, it was bad parenting as far as Will was concerned. This wouldn’t have happened if Hannibal had been left with the boy. Nothing like this ever happened when Hannibal was alone with their son. That was because Hannibal would never let his son eat from street venders. But Will, being the irresponsible father that he was, had done just that.

He knew Hannibal would be furious with him and he was actually looking forward to the older man’s rage. He wanted the rage, maybe some pain. Either would go a long way to help his guilt.

“Daddy, tell me a story,” Hanni muttered into the man’s chest.

“What story would you like?” Will asked, trying to see what he had any books close by so he wouldn’t have to move the boy.

“A story about you and Papa,” Hanni told him.

“Me and Papa?” Will asked, wracking his brain for something he could share. He knew the important part was that he kept talking. It didn’t matter what he said, his son would be soothed by his voice. Such trust in the man that made him sick. “All right, ready?”

“Bathroom,” the boy squirmed. A small disaster averted, Hanni was soon back in his father’s arms, being rocked. The strong arms provided comfort and safety for the small, weak boy and he snuggled up. “Story time?”

“Story time,” Will nodded, trying to figure out where to start. They really didn’t have sweet, cute stories to pass on to the boy from the era before he was born. “Did you know that when Papa and Daddy first started to see each other, there were quite a few people that didn’t want us to be together?”

Hanni shook his head and cuddled closer.

“Well they didn’t and they tried to do everything to get us to change our minds and the first to try was Mr. Crawford,” Will said, and while he kept the story rated G, his memories weren’t.

*Jack Part One*

“Please tell me you’re not fucking your therapist!” Jack screamed, making the people that passed his office pause before continuing on their way.

“Technically, he hasn’t been my doctor for last few months,” Will said, unable to hide the wince. He did not mention that he still liked to call Hannibal "Dr. Lecter" sometimes. It didn’t seem appropriate.

“What were you thinking?” the agent’s voice did not show any signs of calming.

“That I do not need to meet in his office to discuss how I’m feeling.”

“Yea,” Jack snorted. “I bet you don’t.”

“We’re both adults-”

“You two need to stop this right now.”

“Right now?” Will laughed. “You can’t tell me what I can do or who to see.”

“Actually, I can!” Jack's grin was full of malice. “I won’t let you jeopardize our cases and put my people danger.”

“Are …” Will rose from his seat and leaned over the desk. “Are you threatening to fire me?”

“If that’s what it takes,” Jack said through gritted teeth. “If that’s what you let it come to. Are you willing to watch people die for him?”

“It won’t come to that,” Will said, grinning as he made himself relax and set back down. Dr. Lecter’s confidence was rubbing off on him, along with other things. “Because there is no way you would let people die over something trivial as who I sleep with.”

“You think this is trivial?” Jack’s voice rose again.

“Very. And if you don’t, you can fire me,” Will said with as much respect as possible, trying to give Jack a way out.

“Don’t test me! You would lose your teaching position! “

“I realize that,” Will shrugged. “Do what you need to do. Just tell me, wouldn’t you do anything to be with Bella? Go through anything?”

“Are you comparing my marriage to some tawdry affair you’re having with your doctor?”

“Tawdry?” Will laughed, head rolling back. “Do what you want, Jack. We both know you’re not going to fire me over this. You aren’t that stupid.”

“You sound very sure of yourself.”

“I know people, it’s my job,” Will said as he rose. “And you won’t lose me over where I spend my nights.”

***

“He said, 'It will never work between the two of you’ before I left,” Will told his son, mimicking Jack’s rough voice.

“Not nice,” Hanni muttered into his shirt.

“It wasn’t nice at all but he wasn’t the only one that felt that way,” Will told him as he rocked the chair back and forth.

*Alana*

“This isn’t right,” Alana Bloom said, sitting on the couch next to Will and reaching for his hand.

“Alana, please don’t -” Will said, pulling his hand out of reach.

“He’s taking advantage of you. He was your doctor. This isn’t ethical,” she told him, worrying her lip as she spoke.

“It isn’t like that,” he told her gently.

“It isn’t healthy for you,” she plead. “I thought I knew him… I can’t believe he would this to you.”

“He hasn’t done anything to me that I haven’t asked him to,” he tried to joke but it failed as disgust flashed across her face. “He’s actually been very good for me.”

“Good for you? Is that what he has you thinking?”

“No! He doesn’t have me thinking anything except that I’m worthy of love without judgment and can be with someone without denying a part of myself,” he told her, sounding harsher than he meant.

Her mouth dropped open slightly and she drew a surprised breath. “I never meant to make you think …”

“You didn’t,” he lied because the thought of making her upset still hurt. “Alana, we make it work.”

“This happens to patients sometimes. I can’t help but think he’s using you,” she frowned, clearly still upset and becoming frustrated. “He took advantage of you when you were weak and is making himself seem like your savior.”

“Hannibal is no one’s savior,” Will shook his head and sighed. There was nothing he could say to make her understand. She would need time. “He is just there for me. That’s all I need. You’re just going to have to trust me to know what I’m doing.”

***

“I don’t believe she thought we would actually last either,” Will told the boy, glancing down to see if he was still awake.

“Do you love Ms. Bloom?” Hanni asked, trying to stay awake as his head started to roll back.

“I did,” Will admitted. The last few months changed how he viewed her but it would never change how he once felt. His feeling still ran deep, but they stopped short of love.

“Was she going to be my mommy?”

“No, do you want her to be your mommy?” Will asked, pausing in his rocking.

“No,” Hanni mumbled into his shirt.

“Why did you ask about Ms. Bloom being your mommy?” Will couldn’t help asking. Hanni usually had a reason for the things he asked.

“She told me,” Hanni said, sounding tired. “When she was watching me. She said she was going to be my mommy before papa.”

“Oh?” Will was sure the statement was slightly different but that was how the four year old had interrupted it. “Do you remember what you told her?”

“That Papa is nicer. I want Papa to come home. Can you make him come home, please?”

“He’s on a plane now,” Will told him, dropping a kiss on his son's head. “Should we find a different story?”

“No,” Hanni whined, “I want to know what happens.”

Will chuckled. “It’s a happy ending, don’t worry.”

*Franklyn*

“You. You are nothing!” The words came roaring at him before the shock of being slammed into the wall had time to wear off. “How dare you taint this place with your filthy hands?”

Will straightened, finding himself taller than his attacker and maybe slightly saner, if the look in the other’s eyes was any sort of give away. He recognized the man from Hannibal’s waiting room and felt nothing but irritation. He wasn’t about to turn his back on the short, round man but he definitely did not feel the fear the man had hoped to inspire.

“Are you … from the church?” Will asked, just to see the man’s nostrils flare again. “Because what we do behind closed doors-”

“-No! I’m not from the church! I’m Dr. Lecter’s friend!”

“That’s funny, because I’m Dr. Lecter’s friend and we have never been introduced,” Will’s smile was patronizing. He knew better than to tease a patient but the man gave him the creeps … which he thought he shouldn’t be able to feel after sleeping with a cannibal.

“I was here before you,” the man shook his head. “I know your type. You just want to take advantage of the doctor’s good nature!”

“Are we still talking about Hannibal?” Will asked and again found himself on the receiving end of the hatred that can only come in equal parts with love.

“Don’t you dare-” the man bit off what he was about to say and seemed to try to control himself. “What is it you want from him? Money? Are you blackmailing him?” Will felt bad for him and opened his mouth to try to explain to the man that no harm was going to come to his precious Dr. Lecter but the man seemed to have taken his pause as a show of guilt. “Or does he pay you by the hour?”

“My only payment is enjoying him try to string a sentence together after I’ve taken away his ability to speak English,” Will said, feeling every inch the juvenile he’s acting like.

“Will,” Hannibal’s voice came from the shadows of the doorway and the younger man felt nothing but amusement when the other man jumped. “Wait for me in my office.”

“But this was just getting to be fun,” Will pouted.

Hannibal stepped out of the doorway and didn’t speak again. Will smiled at the shorter man and walked inside. He stood by the window and watched the other man leave, but not before he caught his eye.

“You really shouldn’t antagonize men like Franklyn. They appear harmless but could be dangerous.”

“Good thing I’m on a first name basis with danger,” Will grinned, pulling the doctor close by his lapels for kiss and then pushing him into the chair.

***

“The man thought you were going to hurt Papa?” Hanni asked, just barely awake.

“Yes, he did. He wanted Papa for himself.”

“Did you kick him in the butt?”

“Did I what?” Will laughed. “You better not let Papa hear you talk like that,” he gave the boy a little playful growl. “Better not let me hear you talk like that.”

Hanni smiled but his eyes got large and he paled. Will was up and in the bathroom a moment later, holding the boy as he threw up. He got him some water and instructed him to rinse before picking him back up. The boy clung to him, crying and whimpering.

“I feel bad inside,” he whimpered into Will’s shoulder.

“Maybe it’s time to try and get some sleep.”

“But I want more!” Hanni cried and clung to Will’s neck when he tried to put him down on the bed.

“Hanni, it’s late and you’re sick.”

“No! Please?”

Will sighed, knowing he was defeated. He couldn’t deny the sick boy anything.

“How about I lie down with you in bed?”

“No, I want my rocking chair,” Hanni said, wiping his wet face on his dad’s shirt.

“All right, where were we?”

“You were going to kick the bad man in the butt,” Hanni supplied.

“I did no such thing,” Will chuckled. (And he hadn’t. He had caught the man’s eye through the window and with a crook of his finger had beckoned him over to watch. He left the shade opened just enough for man to see his therapist being destroyed and put back together. After that, his filthy hands were the least of Franklyn’s worries. )

*Jack Part II*

“You’re going to destroy him.”

“What?” Will asked, glancing up, making an effort to keep eye contact.

“Did you even consider that?” Jack asked, leaning over his desk. “Did you even consider how it’s going to destroy Dr. Lecter’s career being with you?”

“No,” Will rolled his eyes. “Please, tell me how I’m going to destroy his career.”

***

“Daddy, you shouldn’t roll your eyes. It’s rude.”

“So is interrupting.”

Hanni giggled despite the nausea and the fever.

*Jack Part II*

“Are you going to take this seriously?” Jack asked, leaning into Will’s personal space.

“I’m trying to,” Will glanced up and then back down. He was not trying to be rude. It was simply, at times, a defense mechanism.

“He is going to lose his license,” Jack said and Will was out of his chair and much closer to Jack than he had ever been of his own volition.

“Is that a threat?” Will growled. “That sounded like a threat, Jack.”

“No, it’s not a threat,” Jack said in a way that Will found very unassuming. “But that is what is likely to happen.”

“Hannibal is not my therapist!”

“So you keep saying,” Jack growled. “Are you willing to risk his license?”

“This is a new low,” Will said through gritted teeth, “If you do anything to hurt him-”

***

“But Mr. Crawford shook his head, denying that such things ever crossed his mind. He said he was only looking out for Papa. He knew how hard Papa had worked, coming to this country all on his own,” Will said, burying a yawn in his shoulder. He looked down and noticed the boy was finally asleep.

Will started getting up but the boy whimpered and his eyes started to flutter open so he sat back in the chair and resumed rocking until the boy was quite again. He shifted back so he was a little more comfortable and closed his eyes.

“See, Hanni, when they tried to tell Daddy that Papa wasn’t good for him, he knew better. There’s no one in this world quite like your Papa and might never be again. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, or not. Some days…” Will shook his head, looking down at the boy and forcing his hands not to shake when he noticed how pale the boy was. Hanni started to shift restlessly and Will quickly continued, knowing it didn’t matter what was said at this point as long his son could hear his voice, but for lack of anything better to say, he went on. “I didn’t want to be the reason your Papa lost his job. The fact that he was great at his job wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t stop them from taking away his license and then what would all his silly uppity friends think of him?”

*Hannibal*

“You want to see other people?” Hannibal asked, looking curious and amused.

“No,” Will shook his head, looking anywhere but the man he spoke to. “That… that is definitely not what I want.”

“Oh, good,” Hannibal leaned back in his chair and smiled. “That’s settled, then. We will not see other people.”

“Hannibal,” Will groaned, managing to sound more irritated then he really felt.

“Come here,” Hannibal called softly, patting his desk and waited for Will to come over, and lean against it. “Are you going to tell me what’s on your mind or will you keep on insisting on sparing my feelings?”

“Well, if you’re so smart, I don’t think you will need my help to figure it out,” Will grumbled and crossed his arms, acting slightly childish and not caring.

“All right,” Hannibal tilted his head and concentrated as if he was trying to read Will’s mind. “You’re concerned that seeing you will lead to a devastating end for my career.”

Will’s mouth dropped open till he saw the tightening in the corners of his lover’s lips. “You spoke to Jack?” Will groaned, feeling foolish.

“Jack spoke, I listened, and then quite simply informed him that our relationship is none of his concern and contrary to what he thinks, I care very little about the options of others, especially in regards to our relationship.” Hannibal explained. “As far as my license goes, prestige and money do hold a certain amount of power, and I possess both.”

“Yeah?” Will asked, uncertainty clinging to his voice and making the skin around his eyes wrinkle.

“Yeah,” Hannibal said, nodding and pulling the younger man closer, leaning back in his chair and not letting up until was Will was straddling him. “I imagine there will always be people that won’t approve of our relationship-”

“-if they only knew the half of it,” Will snorted but caught Hannibal’s frown. “Sorry. You were saying?”

“I love you,” Hannibal told him simply, shaking his head in amusement.

It was the first time the doctor said the words. The first time either of them had said it and Will was caught off guard.

It had started off as lustful, turned into something fun which became something completely different when Will found out about Hannibal’s hunger. Will could feel Hannibal’s pain deep beneath the emptiness. Understood it because of his empathy. It became a part of him as well.

He had fallen in love, not with the mask or with the shadow of the boy who wore it. He fell in love with the unimaginable steel will to survive he saw inside the maroon eyes. When others would have fallen apart, given up and walked through the rest of their life with nothing more than a whimper, perpetually encased in self-pity, leaving behind nothing but a space and name carved in stone, Hannibal lived.

Hannibal transformed. He found beauty in life, and destroyed everything vile that did not deserve to be in the presence of such glory. He didn’t rely on his name and title to breeze through life as a spoiled orphan of a once prominent and rich family. He made his own name known. He excelled in everything he tried, focusing on it with the single mindedness of a most determined man. He was never lazy, but always strove to better his skill.

Will had loved all of that about him but had never imagined that his feelings could be returned. Didn’t know if Hannibal was capable of returning them. Couldn’t imagine that if they were, they would be for him.

Lust, yes. He was pretty enough for the fancy doctor. Fun? His abilities did create a certain amount of entertainment. But love had seemed so out of reach. For all that he loved about the doctor, he didn’t know what was in him that was worthy of this kind of affection from this man who offered it none.

“Will?” Hannibal asked, slightly concerned and the younger man realized he hadn’t answered.

“I love you too,” Will said, the confession coming out breathy, never having imagined he would voice those words.

“It’s customary to smile during such proclamations,” Hannibal said smugly.

“Don’t push it, Doctor,” Will snorted and kissed the man, loving the growl deep in the older man’s chest that would never be caused by anyone else but him.

At that time, Will was content with not knowing what and why Hannibal really felt for him. He was only sure that it was new for both of them. For all Will’s ability to empathize, he had only felt love through others. This was as new to him as it was the older man.

 

***

“Papa reassured me like he always does,” Will told the little boy, sleeping in his arms. “He might have had a bit too much confidence in me.”

Will continued to rock, and hummed softly while rubbing the boy’s back. Hanni was pale and the heat coming off him could be felt through his shirt.

Will couldn’t shake off the guilt he felt. His little boy was sick and in pain because of him. He felt like a failure. Between the people that had doubted their relationship and his sick son, he was convinced that they were on to something.

And when Hannibal returned, he would see it too.

Chapter Text

Hannibal was furious with himself. He had turned the ringer of his phone off to be polite and it was only after the last lecture when he remembered to check it. He made his way out and hailed a taxi as he started to dial Will’s number. He had missed a dozen calls and knew that it had to be something important.

He had gone straight to the airport. The hotel could charge him whatever they wanted to pack his things and ship them out. He swore to rain down hellfire and brimstone on them if they forgot his son’s stuffed toy that was left on the night stand.

He had to wait for over an hour for his flight, and with luck like his, it was no surprise it was delayed. He set and stared at his phone, hoping for an update on how his son was doing but not daring to call in case Will had managed to get the boy to sleep. He knew Will wouldn’t leave Hanni’s side, not to even use the restroom, till he arrived.

Once back in Baltimore, he grabbed a taxi and though he was exhausted by the time he arrived, he bolted up the stairs to his son’s room. From the doorway, he could smell the fever, the acidic smell of bile, as well as Will’s exhaustion.

They were in a rocking chair, Will’s eyes were closed, but his arms held on tightly to the boy. Hannibal approached them, placed a hand against his son’s back and one on Will’s shoulder.

The younger man only jerked slightly, tightening his hold on the child and bringing him closer.

“He feels so warm,” Will whispered, as he looked up at the older man, arms relaxing. “I’m afraid to move him.”

“You need to move and I need to check on him,” Hannibal told him, reaching for the boy. “He’ll be ok.”

Will nodded even if he wanted to argue that he didn’t want to move, not if it meant his son sleeping peacefully. But Hannibal had said he needed to check the boy out and Will let the boy be removed from his arms. Hanni was no more than a rag doll in his papa’s arms. He didn’t stir once as he was laid down on the bed and checked over by, gentle, caring hands.

“His fever is too high,” Hannibal said, disappearing into a bathroom and came back with a wet cloth that he used to brush over the boy’s forehead and down to his chest.

Will disappeared for a moment and returned with a bowl of cold water that he set beside the bed so Hannibal could cool the cloth.

“Get some rest, Will,” Hannibal said without taking his eyes off their son. He passed the cloth over the boy’s head again and then rose to remove his jacket and waist coat.

Will shook his head and reached out to help unbutton his fiancé’s cuffs but the man pulled his hand away, frowning at him.

“You need to rest,” Hannibal told him, undoing the buttons and rolling up his sleeves with stiff, angry movements.

“I’m fine,” Will said, looking at the child on the bed. “I have gone more than few nights without sleep.”

“There’s no need,” Hannibal said, and Will felt the older man’s eyes burning holes in the side of this head. “I will take care of him.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Will returned the glare, his voice rising.

Hannibal grabbed Will by the arm, and ushered him out of the room, his touch was less than gentle.

“It means that I am home now,” Hannibal said, keeping his voice low, but no less harsh. “And I will take care of him.”

“Because I can’t?”

“I never said that,” Hannibal told him, but his glare leaves Will feeling hallow, sad and tired. It’s the truth but Will’s own guilt twists the words.

“I was just trying to cheer him up,” Will said, finding it hard to look at the older man for the first time in years. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

“I ask a lot of you. I am aware of that,” Hannibal tells him, voice tightly controlled. “In return I’ve submitted to you and given you power over myself. I have given up a part of my identity. I never serve you anything without your approval. I never let our son eat from my plate because I know that is something you prefer, without you ever having to voice those wishes.” Hannibal’s hands tightened for a split second at his side and then relax. “I had hoped that you saw me as more as some eccentric old man.”

“You aren’t,” Will insisted, as he moved closer. Hannibal doesn’t exactly pull away but did straighten, stiffened even. “That isn’t how I see you at all.”

“Perhaps, but I can’t help feel that my wishes were disregarded because you felt they were unnecessary.” Hannibal’s head shakes and he drops his gaze. “There are a lot of reasons why I take great care over what I consume. The reasons I had asked you to be careful had everything to do with my concern for your health and little with what I am.”

There was a pause, Will lost for words and Hannibal trying to control himself. Finally the doctor takes a step back towards the room.

“Get some rest, Will,” he said in a voice Will barely recognized. “I’ll wake you in a few hours and we can switch.”

Will nodded and left without another word. He laid down but all he can do is try to listen to movement in the other room. He got up after less than half an hour, unable to bare the stillness of the large room. He grabbed a blanket and a pillow and returned to Hanni’s room, meeting Hannibal’s confused and irritated glance from the door way.

“I won’t be able to sleep,” Will explained and laid down not far from the bed.

Hannibal looked like he’s going to argue but stops. He still feels angry and upset by Will’s choices, but he won’t deny his lover this. He had no intention of waking Will up in a few hours, knowing he wouldn’t be able to part with the boy and so can’t force the other to do it. But he doesn’t speak. Can’t find words that aren’t accusations so he focused on the task at hand.

Hannibal kept trying to cool the boy off by running the wet cloth over him, checked his pulse and kissed his forehead to check the temperature. He felt Will’s eyes on him, on his hands as they care for the boy, till the moment they’re not.

Hannibal turned and let out a soft sigh at sight of the younger man finally asleep. He reached down and adjust the blanket. The urge to kneel on Will’s chest, and choke the life out of him, is brief and barley touches his conscious mind. He wouldn’t do that. It was never his intention to put limitations on Will or their son. He only wanted to keep them safe, healthy, and though he is furious that his wishes were ignored, he is aware the blame does not rest with Will.

Will was almost fully under the sandman’s spell when he felt knuckles caress his cheek, and he tried to smile.

***

Will woke up to the sound of his son whimpering. The sun was too high in the sky and Will knew he must have been asleep for at least six hours. So much for Hannibal waking him up. The older man in question was by their son’s bedside. Same shirt and pants from last night. He had Hanni sitting up and was trying to get him to eat some broth.

Hanni pressed his lips together and turned his face away.

“Just a little bit,” Hannibal voice was still low, not aware that Will is awake.

Will got up and laid his hand and then a kiss on the boy’s head.

“Daddy, I don’t want any,” Hanni told him, looking up at him wide maroon eyes.

“You haven’t had anything to eat in a long time,” Hannibal reminded him, patience starting to thin.

“Just a few spoonful? For me?” Will asked, and watched the boy deflate further, covering his mouth with both his hands.

Morning urges are too hard to ignore and by the time Will returns from the bathroom, Hanni had moved on to avoiding the spoonful by trying to hide under his blanket, and Hannibal was becoming clearly irritated.

“Let me try,” Will held out his hand. “You need some rest.”

“I’m fine,” Hannibal shook his head, and though he looked like he wanted to argue, he handed over the bowl. If Will could get their son to eat, he was willing to give up some control.

“Come on, baby,” Will said softly. “I need you take a spoonful for daddy. One for daddy, ok?”

Hanni peeked out, blanket wrapped around his head and pouted at him. “For daddy?”

Will nodded, and held it out. Once it disappears into the boy’s mouth, he gets the next one ready.

“One for papa?”

Hanni glared at the older man, who pretended to be hurt in return, and so the boy quickly opens up.

“That wasn’t a full spoonful,” Will told him and filled up the spoon again.

“It was!”

“It wasn’t.” Will leaned in and whispered, “you don’t want papa thinking you love him less, do you?”

“No,” Hanni sighed and opened up.

“You absolutely have to take one for Hanni,” Will told him.

“No, Hanni doesn’t want one,” the boy shook his head and pouted.

“Hanni needs one,” Will reminded him gently because that had been working well so far. “It’ll make Hanni strong.”

Hanni opened up. He took one more for Winston before returning to his blanket fort.

Hannibal looked pleased till twenty-five minutes later when Hanni lost his breakfast.

***

The day continued in the same manner. Hannibal and Will kept working to get their son’s fever down and his fluids up. The boy drifted in and out of sleep, and Hannibal managed to grab an hour nap and a shower.

By evening both fathers are exhausted and worried. He isn’t keeping anything down and two days with no fluids, leave the boy dehydrated. Hannibal made a call and an hour later an IV supplies kit is delivered. Hanni took one look at the needle and hid under the bed.

“Hanni, you need this to get better,” Will said, laying down on the floor and speaking softly. He could try reaching in and manhandling the boy but that would be the last resort.

“It’s either this or we go to the hospital!” Hannibal said, voice losing most of his patience. When it came to the boy’s health, there is very little of it. Will glares at him but he pointedly ignored it.

“No!” Hanni yelled. “I’m not coming out!”

“Please?” Will isn’t above pleading. “Your papa is going to do it.”

“It’ll hurt,” Hanni’s voice shook, losing conviction.

“It might, but I will do my very best to be as gentle as I possibly can,” Hannibal told him, his words once again gentle and patient. “I only want to make you better.”

There’s a small pause, and before Will can think of anything else to say, there was the sound of shuffling and a small head peeks out. Daddy is the one that picks him up and lays him down on the bed.

“Can daddy hold me?” Hanni asked, trying to be brave.

“Of course,” Hannibal told him as he kneeled by them, and made sure to use a different arm for the IV line then the doctors. “Look away. Did a nice nurse give you a shot last time? Why don’t you tell me about it?”

“She was nice. She said I was a big boy, and said my name was pretty and I told her it was your name but it hurt a lot and I cried but she still said I was brave,” the boy chattered away nervously.

“You must have been,” Hannibal smiled proudly. “We’re all done.”

“I didn’t even cry,” Hanni grinned and moved his arm only to be stopped by the doctor.

“Don’t bend your arm,” Hannibal warned. He finished hooking up the liquid as Will laid him down in bed.

“That was really good,” Will whispered, grateful that the older man could make it so painless for their son.

Hannibal only smiled and gathered the things that needed to be discarded.

***

“Please, don’t touch that,” Hannibal softly reminded the boy, moving the small hand away from the insertion site.

“Where is daddy?” Hanni asked, yawning, covering his mouth with his good arm, like had been taught.

“Showering. Would you like some toast?” Hannibal asked, setting the plate on the night stand. The idea of crumbs in bed did not bother him for the first time in decades.

“Do I have to?” Hanni asked, frowning at the plate.

“Two bites,” Hannibal said, not wanting to push the boy.

Hanni nodded and took two small bites that barely equaled one. He laid back down, fingers once again on the IV line till his papa removed them gently.

“Are you mad at daddy?” Hanni asked thoughtfully.

“What makes you say that?” Hannibal asked, sitting beside the boy and brushing his hair back, while checking the boy’s temperature.

“You’re not kissing him,” Hanni frowned. “You always kiss him. A lot.”

“I’m saving my kisses for you,” he said, cupping the back of the boy’s head and pulling him up for a number of kisses.

“Papa! I’m serious,” the boy said, causing the other man to suppress a smile.

“I’m sorry,” he told the boy, appearing as serious as he usually does. “There is nothing wrong between your daddy and I, so there is no need to worry.”

“Ok,” the boy accepted that. “I don’t want you to fight.”

“We are not,” Hannibal assured him, laying down beside the boy. “Your daddy and I are very different, but that is why we need each other. Without him you would be home schooled and without me you would be living in middle of the woods.”

Hanni snuggled up. ”Really?”

“I take it you want some stories?”

Hanni nodded against him.

“Take a bite of toast and I’ll start,” Hannibal said, unable to help bargaining.

*Four years ago*

Years of working in the hospital had made Hannibal comfortable holding his infant son from the first time he was placed into his arms. While most men are afraid the first few days, sometimes weeks, the once upon time doctor did everything from the start with expert, sure hands.

When it came to leaving the child with a babysitter for the first time, Will was hesitant while Hannibal had insisted the boy would be ok for a few hours. The eight month old happily cooed in his daddy’s arms.

“Careful,” Hannibal warned, not wanting to show up to the performance with drool on the new suit.

“Papa is worried about a little drool instead of his little man,” Will told the boy, tickling his chin.

“Don’t tell my son such nonsense, he’s likely to believe you,” Hannibal said taking the boy out Will’s arms and standing him up. He let the boy grasp his index fingers and moved slowly around the room. “Just like that, that’s my good boy. Show your daddy you’re a big boy and have no need for smothering.”

“Now that is nonsense,” Will’s voice rose as it did when he spoke to the child, and he set back on his heels, arms wide. “Come on, walk for daddy,”

Hannibal slipped his fingers free of the tight hold, the boy took an unsure step and fell. Hannibal had him the air before he could make contact with the floor. The boy gave a startled gasp but didn’t when he saw his papa’s cheerful smile. Hannibal bounced the boy to distract him.

“Almost had it that time,” Hannibal told his son, laying kisses over the soft round face.

The doorbell went off and Hannibal handed their son off to let Alana in.

He thanked her for coming to the rescue. There was no one else he would have wanted watching the young boy. He could interview babysitters once the boy was a little older and Will returned to work. He ran her through Hanni’s routine, let her know the best way to get him to sleep and what time to let Winston out and back in.

Both Alana and him, reassured Will quite a few times that everything would be fine. The younger man surrendered and let himself be led out of the house.

It wasn’t till they left the house, the door closed behind them and Hanni erupted into loud shrieks, that Hannibal thought this had been a horrible idea. If Will would have asked them to stay, he would have done it, gratefully, since it would let him save face. Will didn’t look pleased but was determined to enjoy their time together. Till now it had been reduced to nap time and they had a right to reclaim it.

He should have been used to leaving his son. After Hanni’s birth he had taken a month off to help Will and bond with his child. At first his return was only part-time and then he slowly took on more and more cases. This was different though. Leaving Will and his son was not pleasant, but could hardly be avoided. The boy was with Will after all. This was something new, and Hannibal found himself not liking the situation at all.

Hannibal drank wine, did his best to be polite as he explained his absence, and had to work hard to appear as if he was not miserable.

“We’re going to be seated soon,” Will said, with an amused smile that infuriated the older man, if only slightly. “Call Alana and see how they’re doing.”

He did and thirty seconds later when her voice mail picked up, he was more frustrated than before.

“She probably just got him to sleep,” Will said, rubbing his shoulder.

“Yes, of course,” Hannibal agreed as if worst case scenarios weren’t running through his mind. Did Alana know how to perform CPR on children? Did she know the best exits in case of fire?

Lights dimmed, and the beautiful woman on stage hit all the right notes but was unable to capture Hannibal’s attention. He did not hold it against her. She could not compare to the innocent sweetness and beauty of his son. All he could hear was the wailing as the door closed behind him.

Hannibal, doing his best to be inconspicuous, he lowered the brightness of his phone, and sent Alana a text, inquiring about the boy. A moment later he received a reply that all was well.

***

“Papa, it’s rude to use your phone during a play,” Hanni said, remembering the musical his parents took him to that had talking animals. It had been wonderful, except when the daddy lion died but the singing animals had cheered him up again.

“It had not been a play and it is rude to interrupt your papa,” Hannibal said, reaching for the plate on the night stand. “For that you’ll have to take a bite of toast.”

“Daddy said that too,” Hanni told him, once his he swallowed.

“You interrupted daddy too?” his papa asked and at the boy’s nod, he held out the toast again. “That’s another bite.”

Hanni scrunched up his face but didn’t question the consequence of interrupting story time.

“Now where was I?” Hannibal asked, laying back down.

“Being rude,” Hanni answered around a mouthful of toast.

Hannibal gave him a growl and a playful nip on the boy’s cheek.

*four years back*

“You’re being very rude,” Will whispered right into his ear.

“Whispering is far more so,” Hannibal replied in the same fashion.

Alana had sent a picture of Hanni finally asleep and instead of turning off his phone, and focusing on the stage, he does the unthinkable. He blames it on the child as he finds himself going through his gallery. He flips through pictures of his son on the baby swings being pushed by daddy, getting messy as he tries to get small pieces of fruit into his mouth but fails, and him sitting on Will’s shoulders, hands full of curls causing his daddy to be caught between a wince and a smile.

When he plays a silent video of Hanni crawling to him, Will sighs and rests his head on Hannibal’s shoulder.

“We can leave during intermission.”

“What will people say?” Hannibal spoke against the younger man’s hair.

“They’ll sigh and say, ‘Remember when you used to love me like that? When you couldn’t wait to get me home?’ ” Will said, tilting his head up to kiss Hannibal’s neck.

***

“We came straight home, and stood over your crib. We didn’t wake you though we were tempted to.” Hannibal kissed the boy’s head, pleased that the fever was gradually going down. “I had thought your daddy would the one trying to smother you and never let you out of his sight, but I guess the only reason I was all right with letting you go was because you were with him. Your daddy is a very good daddy and we will never agree on everything, but there is one thing we will always agree on.”

“What’s that?” Hanni asked, face tilted up.

“How much we love you,” Hannibal smiled down at him, and cupped his cheek. “How important you are to us.”

“Oh,” the boy smiled. “I knew that.”

Hannibal’s smile widened as he bent down to kiss the boy again, still holding his face. The boy grabbed on to his hair, and pulled him close, forcing the older man to rest against the small frame.

“You still take daddy away on dates and say I can’t come,” Hanni said, playing with the strands, loving the mixture of silver and gold.

“You’re a big boy now,” Hannibal sighed, listening to the strong beat of his son’s heart. “You don’t need us to stay with you in school and you play with your friends without daddy or myself.”

“Yea but you’re never far away,” the boy tried to make the hair stand up. “When I got sick, daddy came right away.” He tugged on the hair. “You came too but daddy was closer.”

“I came as soon as I could,” Hannibal told him, lifting his head to look at the child.

“I know that,” the boy told him, reaching up for the hair again and frowning when he remembered the IV needle in his arm. “Can you take it out now? Please?”

“Soon,” Hannibal said, sitting back to check the boy’s eyes and the skin around it. “Do you have to go to the bathroom? Do you want something to drink?”

Hanni shook his head and the older man sighed. He needed to be more patient. The worst was over, and he just had to make sure the boy kept improving.

“Maybe some more chicken broth?” Hannibal couldn’t help suggesting.

“Will you tell me another story?”

“You must be feeling better if you’re bargaining,” Hannibal said, chuckled. “Don’t touch the needle, all right?” Hanni nodded and got a “Good boy.” in return.

When Hannibal left the room, he found Will sitting in the hallway.

“You could have come in,” Hannibal told him, offering him a hand.

“I didn’t want to interrupt,” he said, accepting the hand after a moment of hesitation. “And I guess I wanted to know what you would tell him.”

Hannibal sighed, “I never would have said anything demining.”

“I know,” Will nodded, looking away. “How is he?”

“Better. His fever is going down.” The doctor reached out and straitened Will’s glasses. “Why don’t you go sit with him while I fix his soup?”

“What story are you going to tell?” Will asked.

“When was the last time you ate?” Hannibal asked instead of answering.

“Do I not get a story unless I eat?” Will groaned.

“It is only fair,” Hannibal said, shrugging as he walked away, but not without sparing him a smile, even if it was a small one. Just a quirk of the lips really. “And we can talk once he is asleep.”

Will swallowed, and bit his lower lip. The guilt was still heavy, almost suffocating. There was still a part of him that wants Hannibal to make him earn his own forgiveness, doesn’t know if he can forgive himself without it.

Chapter Text

Hannibal returns to find Will in bed with their son. The scruffy man is holding the child in his lap as they go over one of the boy’s photo albums.

“That was your first Halloween. You were a little wolf and Winston was Red Riding Hood. I was the lumberjack,” Will chuckled at the picture of himself in his usual pleaded shirt, a real ax over his shoulder, and a tiny ball of fur in his hand. Thinking back, it might not have been one his best idea. He hadn’t actually brought it to the office party but couldn’t resist posing with it at home.

“Was papa the grandmother?”

“No, papa went as a grouchy old-” Hannibal coughed, making the younger man’s head jerk up, and grin. “I knew you were there.”

“Papa looks like papa,” Hanni pointed out on the next page, where there was a picture of all three of them. Winston hadn’t been invited.

“My mistake,” Will swallowed down laughter. “I must be thinking of a different year.”

“All right you two,” Hannibal said, managing to sound more annoyed then he felt, though still playful. “Let us put that away for now. Time for dinner.”

“And a story,” Hanni reminded him. “You promised.”

“Well then I better hold up my end of the bargain,” Hannibal said, sounding intensely serious. He climbed on to the bed, and crossed his legs as Will had done. He set the tray of food between them and held up the bowl.

“What would you like to hear a story about?”

Hanni leaned over and opened his mouth. He took a spoonful and swallowed it, leaning back against daddy’s chest, looking thoughtful.

“I like stories about you and daddy the best,” Hanni said.

“All right,” Hannibal nodded, looking thoughtful for a moment. “I’ll tell you about the time daddy took me to my first fair.”

Will groaned while Hanni grinned. “Like the one daddy took me to?”

“Close. That was a festival. Mostly food and little markets. Fairs have rides and games.” He held up a spoonful of broth and Hanni frowned up at his daddy.

“I want to go to a fair.”

“I’ll see if any are scheduled,” Will said, catching Hannibal’s eyes. He didn’t think a fair was in either of theirs near future but the older man only looked slightly amused. He nodded towards the spoonful Hannibal was holding, “Eat up.”

Hanni opened his mouth obediently. “Is it story time now?” Hanni asked, after swallowing.

“Almost,” Hannibal said, giving Will a pointed look.

Will sighed and reached for the toasted French bread that had been neatly cut into manageable pieces to avoid crumbs and covered in butter and strawberry preserves.

“Good,” Hannibal smiled, getting another spoonful ready. “Now we’re ready to begin.”

*Almost six years ago*

Just because it had been the first week of July, did not mean that Hannibal was not fully dressed in his usual three piece suit. To be fair though, Will had promised him an evening of jazz and old scotch. It had not been an ideal evening but worth whatever joy it managed to bring the younger man.

At the moment the man in question was a mixture of excitement and apprehension, as he nervously looked over at Hannibal.

“Will, is there something you want to tell me?” Hannibal asked, turning to face the younger man.

“There’s no jazz club,” Will winced.

“I’ve come to that conclusion on my own,” Hannibal nodded and waited for the other man to go on.

“You would have said no,” Will dropped his gaze, fingers playing nervously rubbing the steering wheel. “You could still say no,” Will admitted with a shrug. “I can take you home.”

“Would you like to tell me why we’re here?”

“Don’t turn this into a session,” the corners of Will’s mouth jerked up as he spoke. “Maybe there’s a bit of nostalgia but it isn’t psychotic break. I promise.”

“Yet it was important enough to you that you felt the need to deceive me,” Hannibal pointed out.

“Sorry,” Will winced again. “I am. I’m sorry I lied, but I thought you might enjoy it once you got here. I still do, but if you want to go, we can go.”

Will had looked so sweetly guilty, lips pouting, unsure eyes behind the thick rimmed glasses. He would do anything at that moment to make it up to Hannibal. The older man was slightly upset at being deceived and being put in a situation where neither outcome were desirable. He didn’t want to go, nor did he want to deny Will. In the very least, it would cause him to appear unreasonable.

As he often found himself doing lately, in areas where Will was concerned, he relented.

“I have a condition,” Hannibal told him, giving him a pointed look as he turned to face him fully in the car.

“Anything,” Will swore to him.

“You will not ask me to eat anything while we are here.”

“Can I still eat?” Will asked, chewing his lower lip. He had been looking forward to hotdogs, pretzels and funnel cake.

“You may, but I have the right to refuse physical affection depending on what you consume,” Hannibal said.

“I guess I should get my fill of physical affection now,” Will grinned leaning in to kiss the older man.

“Do we have a deal?” Hannibal asked, pulling back much too soon for the Will’s liking.

“It’s a deal,” Will said, unable to stop grinning like a fool as he got out of the car, and quickly made his way to open the doctor’s door.

Even though he tried to resist, Will ended up tugging on Hannibal’s sleeve to hurry him along. Lucky for the agent, the doctor found it quite endearing.

*

The fair started off better than he could have imagined.

“You’re not afraid of heights right?” Will asked as the metal door closed behind him, trapping them for a moment in a red cage.

“Isn’t that something you should have been concerned with before?” Hannibal asked, slightly amused as the Ferris Wheel started to move.

“Nah,” Will shook his head, grinning as he watched the city slowly come into focus as they kept rising. “I would have worked harder to distract you.”

“You seem in awe of the city,” Hannibal observed as they reached the top.

“I forget how beautiful the lights could be,” Will grinned, shrugging with just a touch of embarrassment. “I don’t need anything but a cabin, a lake, and a few dogs. Sometimes I forget how much life there is around me.”

“Is that all you really need?”

“And you,” Will chuckled, slipping his hand into the doctors as they were lowered back to the ground. “I need you.”

“I guess we can always hunt for our meals.”

The Ferris Wheel started to rise again. Once they were at the top, Will moved suddenly, straddling the doctor’s lap and kissing him hard.

“Will…” Hannibal moaned into the kiss but still trying to pull away. “People-”

“No one can see us here,” Will told him, pulling the other’s head back by his hair and attacking his neck.

“We’re …” Hannibal’s head swam as his tie was loosened and shirt was unbuttoned. Will attacked his neck again, mouth pressed hard against the skin that no one but him would ever see. “We’re not moving,”

“I slipped the guy twenty bucks to give us some time up here. They’ll think it’s a malfunction,” Will said, giving him a wicked grin as he slipped off the man’s lap and onto his knees. “Might as well make it count if you’re not going to touch me after the stuff I’m planning to eat.”

With the city spread out in front of him, Hannibal still couldn’t take his eyes off the young man on his knees. He could do nothing but bury his hands in the curls and think that he might have been wrong about the fair.

*

He hadn’t been wrong. As sweet as Will looked, lips swollen and face flushed, Hannibal could not help grimace as he paid for his hot dog. What a waste of a beautiful mouth.

“That is revolting,” Hannibal said but Will only grinned in return.

“It’s all the things you serve,” Will said, shrugging. “Grounded together and served without the presentation.”

“If you’re going to insult me,” Hannibal said, fallowing Will to the table with the condiments. “I will leave.”

“All right, I’m sorry,” Will chuckled, picking up the mustard and turning it around. He gave it a hard jerk, to make easier to push out but ended up covering his whole hand in mustard when the cap flew off.

Will didn’t want to look over at Hannibal, who was standing much too still. He really really didn’t want to, but could not just ignore him the rest of the night. He turned and winced. The front of Hannibal’s jacket was covered in splash of yellow.

“I’m so sorry,” Will said, voice slightly shaky as he grabbed napkins and tried to clean up the mess he made.

“It’s fine,” Hannibal said, though his voice was tight and he grabbed Will’s hand before the other man could touch him. “I’ll need some water.”

Will got water and stood by Hannibal, wincing as the older man try to save his jacket. Personally, he wouldn’t have cared what mess he made of his own clothes, but for Hannibal, Will imagined it was like watching a beloved pet mistreated.

“I’m sorry,” Will muttered.

“Please do not apologize,” Hannibal said, using the last of the napkins to clean his hands. “It was an accident. Think nothing of it. What would you like to do next?”

“Walk around for a bit,” Will shrugged, not feeling the same cheer as before. “Maybe one more ride.”

“All right,” Hannibal nodded stiffly. “How about we start by getting you a new hot dog?”

Will shook his head but was too amused by the site of the doctor buying him a hotdog to protest too much. This time he ate it without mustard. It was still good.

*

Hannibal had not been pleased about his suit and was surprised how much Will’s unhappiness bothered him. Their relationship had only started to get physical a few months ago. It hadn’t been a surprise that he found the young man an interesting companion, and was a bit shocked by the attraction between them. Sometimes it was a living current running through him, (and he imagines that was what Frankenstein’s monster felt when it came to life). What he was surprised by the most was how affected he had become by Will’s moods.

He enjoyed Will’s happiness, was angered by Will’s despair.

At the moment, Will was upset, and Hannibal let their hands brush against each other, and spoke softly till the younger man shot him one of those shy smiles that he had come to enjoy. When Will’s mood was uplifted, Hannibal felt powerful.

He had gotten Will cotton candy, and let the young man feed him a few pieces, swallowing the pink strands along with the fingers. It was almost enough to forget the stain, till Will pulled him to stand on line for a ride. Hannibal frowned. The Ferris Wheel was one thing, but he was not going on a children’s ride.

“It’s not a children’s ride,” Will insisted.

It had a large circler track, carts with rows large enough for three people, and high speeds that caused the occupants to lean outward against whoever set on the outer most layer.

“It most certainly is,” Hannibal frowned. “I much rather go on the Ferris Wheel.”

“I bet you would,” Will snorted.

“Will, is this really necessary?”

“It really really is, Doctor,” Will grinned. “Do you like getting squished?”

“Excuse me?”

“The force of the ride pushes out while it goes around the track,” Will explained as he gave his tickets to the guy by the gate, sealing Hannibal’s fate. “When I was younger I used to love sitting on the outside, liked the feeling of the other person being pushed up against me. What do you make of that Dr. Lecter?”

“You weren’t hugged enough as a child,” Hannibal dead paned and motioned for Will to get in first. If he was going to have to sit through the ride, he was going to enjoy the feeling of Will being forced against him with all the might of centripetal force.

“I thought that was how you explained my attraction to older men,” Will muttered.

“Older man,” Hannibal corrected.

Will chuckled and shook his head as the bar was lowered into place.

Hannibal did not enjoy the ride as much as Will did. He did like the feeling of the younger pushed against him but had been trying to right himself the whole time. Will looked quite pleased at the end. The smile on his face was not fleeting, but a show of genuine joy. He looked like he wanted to ask to go again.

Hannibal might have allowed him till he stood to get out and his pants caught on the latch. The tear was deafening to him.

“I think the universe is trying to tell you something,” Will said sheepishly as Hannibal glared at him.

“I’m glad you’re amused,” Hannibal said and Will sighed.

“Sorry.”

There was a commotion by the exit. A child had passed out from the ride, but Hannibal didn’t give it a second glance as he inspected the damage.

“Hannibal,” Will pulled on his the sleeve of his arm, “Aren’t you going to help?”

“It’s probably just a visual disturbance-”

“Hannibal!”

Hannibal straightened and cleared the way, explaining that he was a doctor. It had everything to do with pleasing Will, not ready for the other to see him anything but what he had appeared to be and nothing with concern for a child he did not know or care to. He checked the boy out, who had come to moments after Hannibal started, and reassured the mother that he needed some water and would be fine.

The grateful child threw up on his shoes.

*Present*

Hanni fell over Will’s lap, giggling like a mad child, at the image of his papa with dirty shoes.

“It was not that funny,” Hannibal said, narrowing his eyes on the boy, and giving him a playful glare. The bowl was empty and he set in on the tray on top of the empty plate, and put everything on the floor.

“It was pretty funny,” Will chuckled, rubbing Hanni’s back. “You should have seen him, little man. Mustard stain, ripped pants and soiled shoes. He learned not to let daddy plan the dates.”

“That was not what I took away from that night,” Hannibal told him.

“Oh?” Will grinned. “What was it then?”

“I learned you like to be held very tightly,” Hannibal said, with a wicked grin.

“Squish daddy” Hanni gave a battle cry as he twisted, intending to jump on the man that had been holding him throughout their story time. His arm got tangled in the IV and the battle cry turned to a cry of pain in an instant.

Will held the boy up to take the pressure of the arm and Hannibal moved quickly to help.

“Hanni, how many times have I warned you about-”

“Han,” Will said, very softly, barely audible.

He almost never came to Hanni’s rescue when the boy was being scolded, not wanting it to seem like he was undermining the older man nor did he ever feel the need to. For all his sternness and proper behavior, Hannibal never once asked something of their son that would not have been appropriate. He had never gave Will a reason to intervene.

Till now.

Hannibal sighed, looking down and the tearful little boy in his lap, who was pouting up at him.

“Does it hurt?” he asked instead of continuing.

Hanni nodded and pointed to where the IV was connected. Hannibal reached out and placed a kiss on the area that he had been pointed to.

“It won’t be much longer,” Hannibal promised, moving the boy back into Will’s lap where he received another kiss. “How do you feel?”

“My tummy is still yucky,” Hanni said, shrugging. “What else did you and daddy do?”

“That night?” Hannibal asked and Hanni nodded. “Well I went home and burnt my clothes of course. There was no saving them.”

“No,” Hanni giggled. “You didn’t!”

“No?” Hannibal smiled. “Well, you’re right. You’re a very bright boy. Papa can’t fool you.”

Hanni beamed, and Will buried another kiss in his son’s curls.

The boy’s fever was going down and it seemed that he was able to keep more and more of his food down as well. Both fathers started to relax as they watched their son’s usual sunny disposition return.

***

Not long after, Hannibal removed the IV, pleased with the way the child had looked. His color was returning, and his fever was not dangerously high. He was still most defiantly sick but was quickly making a full recovery. He had even kept dinner down. Most of it. Papa told him he was doing really well.

“I don’t want to go to sleep,” Hanni frowned at his daddy as the man got him a new pair of jammies.

“It late, Hanni,” Will reminded him. “It’s even past your bed time. You need your rest to feel better.”

“But you have to tell me stories till I fall asleep,” Hanni stuck his lower lip out, confident that he could get his way. “I’m sick.”

“I know,” Will said, suppressing a smile as he looked over the little con man. “You had plenty of stories.”

“I’m really sick,” Hanni insisted.

“Are you giving daddy trouble?” Hannibal asked, coming into the room, drying his hands on a small hand towel.

“No,” Hanni turned the pout on the older man. “I don’t want to sleep.”

“We’re going to take a quick bath first,” Hannibal said, as he picked the boy up. “It’ll help with the fever and make you feel better.”

“I’m not tired,” Hanni insisted, head tucked against papa’s shoulder and eyes already closing.

***

By the time the boy was changed and put to bed on new, clean sheets, he was fighting sleep with all his strength.

“Close your eyes,” Hannibal instructed.

Hanni shook his head, whimpering as tried to rub the sleep away with little fists. “Don’t want to,” he insisted.

“Why don’t we have a song?” Will suggested.

Hannibal kneeled by the bed, brushed the boy’s hair back and started to sing. It was the same song he had sung since the first time their son had trouble sleeping, and as it had all those years ago, it soothed the child and he relaxed. He watched his papa sing till his eyes got to heavy, and finally closed.

Hannibal sung it again anyway.

***

Will fallowed Hannibal into their bedroom without a word. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and stopped only when the older man stopped. He looked down, refusing to make eye contact.

“What is it you think I will do to you?” Hannibal asks, noticing how the younger man stood, how tightly he wound up he was.

“I don’t think you’ll do anything I can’t recover from,” Will shrugged.

“I can’t say that I’m not still upset over what happened,” Hannibal admitted. “I am. It was careless and completely against my wishes, but the truth of matter is, Hanni getting sick isn’t something you can take blame for. It was just an unfortunate event. Yet, I can’t help feel that you still expect me to punish you for it.”

Will shrugged again, a bit put at ease that Hannibal doesn’t blame him but it doesn’t help as much as he thought it would. It’s been his own guilt weighing him down, and he wants release.

“I always wondered how you would look if I took my razor strop to you…” Hannibal told him, sounding solemn.

Will pales but finds himself turning towards the bathroom till a hand wraps around his wrist, and he glances up, slightly confused.

“I was not serious,” Hannibal told him, managing a small smile, and pulling him closer. “I will not cause you any pain that will not lead to pleasure. Not even if you ask me to. What happened was not your fault, and it is not you I hold responsible.”

“I feel responsible,” Will admits it.

“You are not,” Hannibal pulled him closer still, and Will rested his head on Hannibal’s shoulder. “But if you could describe the man that served you, I would be most appreciative.”

“Don’t try to make me laugh,” Will pleads. “I screwed up. You have every right to be upset with me.”

“I’m not saying I’m not,” Hannibal rubbed Will’s shoulder, hand coming up to cup the back of his head. “But I can only be as upset as any parent would be that their significant other disregarded their wishes. Even if Hanni would not have gotten sick, I would not have been pleased with what you did.”

“Yea, but then I wouldn’t have to tell you,” Will muttered, and yelped in surprise a second later, reaching down to cover up his backside incase the doctor decides to swat him again, but doesn’t pull away. “I was joking.”

“Funny,” Hannibal told him, reaching down to rub the area he had just struck and Will admits that it had not been.

Will pulled back, and sat on the bed, shaking his head. “This wouldn’t have happened if you were here.”

“Perhaps not,” Hannibal shrugged and stood over him, fingers sliding through the curls. “But something else might have. I meant what I told our son earlier. We need each other for balance.”

“What can you possibly need me for?” Will rolled his eyes, and found his chin gripped in a tight hold, face brought up till had no choice but to meet the maroon pair.

“That’s quite enough,” Hannibal told him sternly. “I do need you and I need you to remember that. I will not indulge you in such moments of self-pity.”

“It’s not,” Will said, shoulders slumping.

“It is and there is no reason for it,” Hannibal told him, hands relaxing but still gripping his chin. “Without you I would have lost my patience with the boy more than once today. I have very little of it when it comes to his healthy and though I can understand he was not trying to be difficult, I would have ended up being quite sever with him if it wasn’t for your intervention.”

“He was just scared and not feeling well.”

“I can understand that,” Hannibal frowned.

“I know,” Will covered Hannibal’s hand with his own. He knew. Hannibal was no monster. He saw his child hurting and wished to help. His approach might have been different but the sincerity was there.

“If it was not for you, the day would have been unbearable for him as well as myself,” Hannibal said, sinking to his knees. “I love watching you with him. He brightens up when you enter a room. You can get him to do most anything with soft words and a gentle touch.”

Will snorted and shook his head. That’s not true. The boy is four. He is usually sweet and eager to help with whatever his parents ask, but quite often can be just as difficult and bratty as any other child.

“I’ll trade. You can have the gentle touch and soft words, and I want the look that you give him that can stop any and all tantrums and meltdowns,” Will said, grinning.

“That is a Lecter family secret,” Hannibal said. “I will only divulge the information once you are a Lecter.”

“Beats marrying you for your money,” Will laughed at the cold look he received and let himself be pushed back on the bed. “Besides I thought you were going to change your name, Dr. Graham?”

“I think not,” Hannibal frowned at him as he straddles his lap.

Will chuckled, the guilt slowly fading as clever fingers started to undo his shirt.

“I had missed you, Will.”

“You were gone for a day,” Will smiled up at him.

“Thirty-two hours,” Hannibal corrected, a broad hand traveling up Will’s naked chest.

Will closed his eyes, relaxing under the familiar touch and reached up for a handful of Hannibal’s shirt, pulling till the man was close enough to kiss.

Hannibal had been right. They needed each other to be just as they were. It was what Hanni needed them to be. He needed their balance, and maybe from that he would be able to take away the best parts with him. It was, after all, what he brought out in them.