I had a lot of reasons to avoid visiting Hannibal in the BSHCI - a lot of very good, sensible reasons. Reasons that managed to keep me away for three years, but that somehow got negated as soon as Jack Crawford reentered into my life. But even then, it was Molly who encouraged me to go back, but I can’t really bring myself to blame her, not really. She doesn’t deserve it, especially not now.
Betas don’t usually date alphas when they already have children from a previous relationship. It’s said that alphas will view the child as a foreign entity trying to lay a claim on their partner and won’t tolerate it. Most of that is bullshit, propaganda that makes alphas look like slaves to their biology at best, but just the same I worked very hard to make sure Molly never saw it that way. I got along well with Wally, and after the first year he would actually talk to me amicably. I don’t think I’ve ever put that much effort into socialization and normalcy before. It was a sacrifice I deemed necessary in order to maintain this... picturesque life that I’d constructed for myself.
Funny how approximately two seconds in Hannibal’s presence was enough to shatter that facade to smithereens.
Just long enough to approach the glass wall, take a look at Hannibal and inhale once.
In retrospect, it seems absurd that it had never occurred to me that he was an omega. The cooking? The fashion? The interior design? Painfully stereotypical indications that make me cringe just thinking about them, but indications nonetheless.
Still, Hannibal Lecter had never smelled of anything to me. He’d been on suppressants, of course, that much had been obvious, but they make those for alphas as well as omegas. I’d pegged him for either an alpha or an assertive beta.
For some reason, though, the thought that he might be an omega had never once crossed my mind. Especially after learning who he was and what he’s done, well. Omegas as a whole commit less than 5% of all violent crimes, and the statistic for male omegas is even lower. I know the statistics. I’ve taught the statistics. Just because something isn’t likely doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
But two seconds and the entirety of my world was rewritten. Hannibal smelled like he’d either just come off a heat or was about to start one. It was just this side of obscene, but privacy wasn’t something that was afforded to inmates. Nor, apparently, were suppressants.
Given what I know about Hannibal, and his control freak tendencies, I’m sure that being forcibly removed from his suppressants must have been uniquely traumatizing, even if they had the courtesy to taper him off. I immediately felt both righteously vindicated at his discomfort, but also strangely furious at Alana, a feeling I saved to ponder over later.
Denying an omega suppressants wasn’t even cruelty for cruelty’s sake, though. Suppressants for either gender often reacted negatively with psychiatric drugs. They were a difficult variable to account for, so most institutions didn’t bother, even those where the patients chose to enter of their own free will.
“Hello Doctor Lecter.” I say, the words nearly catching in my throat. His eyes say that he’s noticed the slight hesitance, and he knows the reason for it.
“Hello, Will.” The scar on my stomach aches and feels like it’s reopening. “Did you get my note?”
He knows very well that I did. “I got it, thank you.”
“Did you read it before you destroyed it? Or did you simply toss it into the nearest fire?”
This is small talk. Why are we making small talk? We never have before, but it’s almost like he’s giving me the chance to get my bearings. He knew how affected I’d be by finding out he’s an omega, and he’s being... accommodating. It’s infuriating how well he knows me, and it makes me want to do something rash, just to prove that he doesn’t know me at all.
“I read it... and then I burnt it.” I say instead, the truth, but not the whole truth. I burnt it, yes, but not before memorizing it, committing every letter to memory, agonizing over it for a week and then finally burning it the night before I left. Hannibal’s lip twitches upwards like he knows all that anyway.
“And you came anyway.” He states, turning away from me to pace around his cell casually. Is that a slick stain or a shadow? I feel ashamed for even thinking about it.
“I’m glad you came.” He says after a moment, and I hear the sincerity in his voice and it sounds like a painful admission. “My other callers are all... professional. Banal psychiatrists and grasping second-raters. Pencil lickers.” I can imagine with crystal clarity what those visits must have been like.
“I want you to help me, Doctor Lecter.” I say, because I almost said the opposite. I want to help him, I hate seeing him here, behind iron bars and tempered glass walls, complexion wan and sickly. Not because I pity him, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pity him after all he’s done, but because there’s a part of me that doesn’t think Alana deserves to be his keeper. I don’t want to think too hard on the natural conclusion to that assertion, though. If I allow myself to think it, it becomes real and I know for a fact that’s not something I can deal with right now. Not with Hannibal in front of me, watching me with those fathomless eyes.
“Yes, I thought so.” He says, his voice almost teasing. “Are we no longer on a first-name basis?” He asks, calling me out on my lack of subtlety.
“I’m more comfortable the less personal we are.” I lie. His eyes say he knows it.
He sniffs deliberately at the air, reminding me of the discoveries I’d made upon my arrival. As if I’d somehow forgotten in the five minutes that have passed. “I smell dogs... and pine oil beneath that shaving lotion. It’s something a child would select, isn’t it? Is there a child in your life, Will? I gave you a child, if you recall.”
And... that’s just not fair. Of course, it’s madness to think Hannibal Lecter would ever play fair. But this is... almost bordering on lewd for his standards. Forcing me to think about children he gave me (or could give me) in the same breath as he reminds me of his secondary gender... it’s surprisingly unsubtle for Hannibal, but it has the desired effect. I feel arousal curl low in my belly, just beneath the smile he left me. I can’t allow myself to get an erection, not here and not now. It’s a close thing.
“I came about Chicago and Buffalo.” I remind him, my throat dry and my words nearly desperate in their delivery. “You’ve read about it.”
“I’ve read the papers. I can’t clip them. They won’t let me have scissors.” Hannibal says, his eyes alight in triumph. Bastard. “You want to know how he’s choosing them?” Taunting and insufferably smug.
“Thought you would have some ideas.”
“You just came here to look at me. Came to get the old scent again.” And if there was ever a question that this place was doing more harm than good for Hannibal, it was that. That was a low blow, even for him. Pettiness, thy name is Lecter. “Why don't you just smell yourself?”
“Uh... I expected more of you, Doctor.” Great going, Will. Amazing rejoinder, and by the look on Hannibal’s face, he’s just as impressed. “That routine... is old hat.” I try again, but I still feel like I’m grasping at straws.
“Whereas you are a new man.” And there’s that mocking tone again. My teeth press together in agitation. “Are you a good father, Will?” He asks, and I have to bite back my first response. I can’t allow myself to start associating Hannibal with the prospects of children. Not that I’ve ever felt the strong desire to have my own, of course. But there’s also no need to awaken that desire, either. It has become immediately apparent to me that I need to leave. Quickly. Before any more damage can be done.
“Let me have the file. An hour, and we can discuss it like old times.” He calls out, just as I’m trying to leave.
“Family values may have declined over the last century, but we still help our families when we can. You're family, Will.” I’m not. I’m really not. But Hannibal I suppose has always been an exceptional psychiatrist when he wants to be, and he knows very well what he’s doing. The fact that I recognize his manipulation for what it is now, means that either I’ve gotten better, or being in this place has made him desperate and heavy-handed. Either way, the knowledge that I’m being manipulated doesn’t seem to fully negate the manipulation. This realization is frustrating, but not entirely surprising.
The continuation of our meeting doesn’t go any better, and on the way to the motel I’m staying at, I make a very important stop at a liquor store. There’s no way in hell that I’m going to survive the night alone with my thoughts, while sober.
I text Molly that I’ve had a long day and I’m going to sleep, and then I fill a motel tumbler to the brim with cheap whiskey. Hannibal-related angst doesn’t deserve good whiskey, first because it wouldn’t be fair to the whiskey, and second, because any amount of pretentiousness would inevitably make me think of Hannibal, and that’s not really the goal tonight. Ideally, I’ll drink myself into unconsciousness and try to forget that I’ve seen his face at all.
But even as I pour my second and then third glass, I find that when I close my eyes, his face is all I see. Three years has made him softer round the middle, a more typically omegan body shape. I have no doubt that beneath the softness of his belly and thighs still lies hardened muscle, but without the hormonal support of suppressants, it’s almost impossible to maintain the same level of muscle definition. It... suits him in a way that I’m really, really trying not to think about.
Halfway through my bottle I make a, somewhat drunk, realization. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and right now the inhibition being lowered is my unwillingness to think about Hannibal and his words. I allow myself, for a pair of terrifying seconds, to imagine what a life with Hannibal would look like. To imagine Hannibal in my home, in my bed, heavy with my child.
Fuck. No, I can’t do this. I really, really shouldn’t do this. This is a terrible idea, and in the morning, when I’m sober, I’m going to be filled with so much self-loathing, provided I remember any of these thoughts. But imagine gentling Hannibal... I wonder if I could get him to purr. I wonder if he would beg for me... present for me...
No no no, Will, stop it! Hannibal is a murderer. A cannibal. He has fed me actual people. The food was delicious, though... he’s a very talented omega... I remember Randall Tier and the way he made dinner from the kill I brought him. Fuck, it harkens back to hunter-gatherer days... and Hannibal would look so good in a nest of furs. So primal, yet decadent. I’d make sure he was always surrounded by the softest furs. Goddamn. I am really, very drunk.
The next few days pass in something of a haze. I remember more of my drunken stupor than I’d like to, but I’ve also gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing, so I manage to keep it together long enough not to arouse suspicion in Jack or Alana. Although the latter insists on watching me with a smug smirk on her face like she knows my every thought. Like I’m some kind of a recovering alcoholic and she’s the mentor watching as I insist I need to go to the bar for a soda.
Fuck that was an unfortunately apt comparison.
It hits me like a freight train as I’m driving down the interstate in between Baltimore and Quantico - Bedelia’s an alpha .
Female alphas are almost as rare as male omegas, sharing most of the characteristics of male alphas, except they are able to, in rare cases, carry a child to term. Gifted with both male and female sex organs, they are typically more able to impregnate their partners, but they do have functioning uteruses and ovaries, so in theory, a female alpha could get pregnant.
This is important because while I had been jealous of Hannibal taking Bedelia to Europe before... now, I can’t even see straight. Immediately the thought of beating her into a bloody pulp like I did Randall is starting to look attractive in a way that usually has to be prompted by Hannibal. Although, I suppose that in a way, it has.
My fingers tighten on the steering wheel and my body is strung tight with a kind of hind-brain tension that comes as a precursor to primal violence. And what is more primal than staking a claim on one’s mate? No, we’re not going there. We can’t.
But listening to Bedelia talk about Hannibal – she doesn’t even know him. Standing up there, prim and self-righteous, like she’s accomplished something by having survived Hannibal. Doesn’t she realize that she’s never been a player in this game? She was…a consolation prize, if anything. An extra twist in the knife embedded deep inside me.
She wasn’t swallowed by the beast, she crawled her way up inside him, and I tell her so after her lecture. She tells me how she was behind the veil with him, in a way I’ve never been and I wish I had a way to refute it. It digs at me, and I can’t let it go.
But she doesn’t know Hannibal the way I know him. Regardless of what she claims, she hasn’t seen him the way I have. She didn’t traipse through the halls of his past and learn him the way I have. She may have known him biblically, but I know him more intimately than anyone ever has or ever will. I’ll make sure of it.
She’d like to think we’re at the same level, that our relationships with Hannibal are comparable. But this is nothing more than alpha posturing on her part, and I recognize it for what it is. I’m not going to stoop that low, not when I know that she’s far beneath me. Hannibal never wanted her, I was his first choice.
I was his first choice.
Oh god. I’ve been so blind.
“Have you had any contact with him?”
I’m still not completely sure this isn’t a mistake, that I shouldn’t be anywhere near Bedelia, let alone voluntarily speaking with her. I want to believe that the years and the time I’ve spent with Hannibal, playing his game, have made me immune to the machinations of lesser opponents. The quiet room with elegant yet simplistic furnishings reeks of alpha pheromones. Neither one of us mentions it.
“He sends greeting cards on Christian holidays and my birthday. He always includes a recipe.” Bedelia says and her voice grates on my nerves. It’s like trying to drain molasses out of a straw.
“If he does end up eating you, Bedelia, you’d have it coming.” I say, because I just can’t resist. I think I’ve long since come to terms with Hannibal’s diet, and it’s not like I can claim the moral high ground anymore, anyway. But I don’t think I’ve ever met someone I’d be so willing to actually kill and eat. Well, except for Freddie Lounds, but that ship has unfortunately sailed for now.
“I can’t blame him for doing what evolution has equipped him to do.” She replies, which is nothing more than a cop out.
“If we just do whatever evolution equipped us to do, then murder and cannibalism are morally acceptable.” I point out.
“They are acceptable.” She counters, and I raise an eyebrow expectantly. “To murderers and cannibals.” She finishes and yeah, okay, fair enough.
“And you.” She tacks on at the end and I can’t help the little smirk that tugs at the corner of my mouth.
“And you.” I parrot. We’re together in this…grey morality, and there’s no way she’ll get to play the victim. Not with me.
“You lied, Bedelia. You do that a lot. Why do you do that a lot?” It’s more of a hypothetical question than anything, but she answers anyway.
“I obfuscate.” She counters and I only barely manage not to roll my eyes. “Hannibal was never not my patient. Covert treatment suffers secrecy and disapproval.”
“Covert because Hannibal was an uncooperative patient?” I ask. Hannibal is probably an insufferable patient – doctors often are. Actually, he’s probably the kind who’d never go to the doctor if he could help it. Did he write his own prescriptions?
“Covert because I was a cooperative psychiatrist.” Bedelia corrects. “Do no harm.” She quotes and I know there’s a story there. A story not unlike my own, I’m sure. One that is shared by people who’ve had extended contact with Hannibal.
“And did you?” I ask, even though I know the answer, albeit none of the details.
"I did. Technically.” She confirms.
“You dared to care.”
“Not the first time I’ve lost professional objectivity in a matter where Hannibal is concerned.” She says and then proceeds to tell me about one of her other former patients.
She’s not so different from Hannibal on the surface, both are really very terrible psychiatrists. But her methods lack…finesse. Hannibal is like a puppet master, gently tugging strings so lightly that the puppet thinks its movements are its own. Like a neurosurgeon prodding synapses and rewiring neural pathways. Hannibal is an artist. Bedelia…
“How is one patient worthy of compassion and not another?” I ask her.
“I'm under no illusions how morally consistent my compassion has been.” Yeah, consistently poor, maybe.
“How is one murderer worthy of compassion and not another?” She asks and I can see how smugness seems to radiate from her.
It strikes me then, exactly where she thinks we stand. She thinks that questioning my morality will make me squirm, will make me uncomfortable with how far I’ve ventured into the maw of Hannibal’s influence. What’s more disconcerting is that…I’m not as bothered by it as I would have been years ago.
“All that time you were with Hannibal behind the veil, you'd already killed one patient, did it ever occur to you to kill another?”
“My relationship with Hannibal isn't as passionate as yours. You are here visiting an old flame.” She says, voice delicately mocking. “Is your wife aware how intimately you and Hannibal know each other?”
Oh Molly. Poor, sweet Molly. A mournful sadness creeps in as I briefly consider the past few years we’ve spent together. I’ve been…unfair to her. In more ways than one. Withholding essential pieces of myself that just…don’t belong to her. She’s been patient with me, perhaps thinking that one day I’ll be hers in my entirety, but she’s wrong. I cannot give her those pieces of me because they aren’t mine to give.
“She's aware enough.”
“You couldn't save Hannibal. Do you think you can save this new one?”
The question gives me pause. Saving this new killer had never crossed my mind, nor had I ever viewed Hannibal as something to be saved. I wonder if she’s deliberately misinterpreting the situation or if she truly doesn’t know.
“Your experience of Hannibal's attention is so profoundly harmful, yet so irresistible, it undermines your ability to think rationally.” She continues and well, she’s not wrong about that. There’s been very little rational about my interactions with Hannibal, but the descriptor “harmful” is subjective.
“You're walking down the street and you see a wounded bird in the grass. What's your first thought?” The image of Hannibal in a white jumpsuit, pacing the confines of the cell that has been his home for the past three years comes to mind unbidden.
“It's vulnerable, I want to help it.”
“My first thought is also that it's vulnerable. Yet I want to crush it. A primal rejection of weakness which is every bit as natural as the nurturing instinct. Of course…I wouldn't crush it, but my first thought would be to do just that.”
My eyes narrow in response, and I can’t help but wonder if Bedelia’s patient has been the only casualty of her therapy. But no, she’s nowhere near Hannibal’s level of sadism. There’s some…standard that she holds herself to, but she’s not a killer. She might crush the injured bird…but she lacks the cruelty of the person who shot it out of the sky in the first place and left it there to die.
“One thing I learned from Hannibal is the alchemy of lies and truths. It's how he convinced you you're a killer.”
“You're not convinced?” I ask, intrigued despite myself. I’ve killed, that is indisputable fact, so what makes her think I’m anything but?
“You're not a killer. You're capable of righteous violence because you are compassionate.” But even as the words leave her mouth, thick as honey, I know she’s wrong. There’s a point where righteous violence stops and you can no longer call it by that name. I ought to know, I’ve spent countless nights pondering it over many, many bottles of whiskey.
There are things I’ve done that have nothing to do with righteousness. And a great many more thoughts along the same vein.
“How are you capable?” I ask instead, rather than give myself away irredeemably.
“Extreme acts of cruelty require a high degree of empathy. The next time your instinct is to help someone, you should really consider crushing them instead. You might save yourself some trouble.” She says, avoiding the question entirely, which is in and of itself its own answer.
She never has been.
She never will be.
But that doesn’t mean her advice isn’t without merit. Maybe the next time I see that bird lying in the grass, it’ll be her. Maybe I’ll crush her and save myself the trouble.
I have to go back to visit Hannibal, we have more to discuss. For the case, not…any other reason. After all, Hannibal Lecter is under constant supervision.
But the conversation with Bedelia stays with me, bubbling under my skin, and tender like an open sore. Meeting with Hannibal would be like rubbing salt against it. But at the same time, I know I have to. One way or another, I have to go again. It’s like gravity…or the same impulse that causes you to prod at a bruise to see if it’s healed yet. To gauge the hurt, measure how vulnerable you still are.
I don’t think Hannibal is a wound that can ever heal. It’s been three years and I still feel like I’m bleeding out every second I’m in his presence. Seeing him again…after all that time. I thought it’d be easier, but nothing’s changed.
In my mind, the score’s been settled. We’ve both hurt each other, intentionally or not, but I think we’re about even right now. I’m not as angry as I was…and that alone is enough to scare me. Without the haze of Hannibal’s pheromones clouding my mind, I can firmly admit that the thought of seeing him again fills me with a giddy anticipation, and a dread at letting him win.
Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? Even if I was ready to bury the hatchet, there’s nothing saying that the same is true for him. There’s nothing to stop him from hurting me again if he got close enough to try.
But I’m also not nearly drunk enough to be having this conversation, even if it’s only with myself. It’s a dangerous road to walk down. My imagination is dangerous enough without encouraging impossible fantasies. Not…that that’s what I was doing. Just. Anyway.
I look sufficiently professional, tired, and annoyed for Alana not to probe too deep. She lets me in to see Hannibal with almost no fuss, which is appreciated. I do have actual work to do here, after all.
“It was done carefully and cleanly, with a very sharp knife. It was not the work of a child.” I say as Hannibal inspects the picture of the carved tree trunk.
“It's a Chinese character which means, "You hit it," an expression sometimes used in gambling.” He says, and he’s so near to the glass, we’re standing closer than we would have been without this wall between us. But it gives the illusion of space, even as my lungs fill with his scent, clean and fresh, no trace of the previous heat smell.
“A lucky sign. The character also appears on a mahjong piece. Marks the Red Dragon.” I say moving back a couple steps and breaking the eye contact that threatens my composure.
"And behold a great red dragon... " Hannibal agrees, and I know that’s the conclusion he was hoping I’d come to in the first place. It’s not lost on me that Hannibal is always a couple steps ahead and I’m a little resentful of it. Hannibal knows something, and I’m not sure what, exactly, or how, but there’s definitely something he’s not sharing. Does he know the Dragon? Recognize his pathology? Was he a former patient?
Still, there’s a level of nostalgia that comes with knowing that Hannibal is playing games again. It’s a familiar aspect of his personality that I recognize and feel more at ease with than makes logical sense.
“Are you familiar with William Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun? Blake's Dragon stands over a pleading woman caught in the coil of its tail. Few images in Western art radiate such a unique and nightmarish charge of demonic sexuality.”
I have to bite the inside of my cheek at the way Hannibal says ‘demonic sexuality’. Honestly, if I had to describe Hannibal’s own sexuality, that’s probably how I’d describe it now. His mouth curls around the words in a way that ought to be illegal. Not that it matters, given he’s already behind bars.
“The man who killed the Jacobis and the Leedses saw something in them that drew him and drove him to do it. He chose them because something in them spoke to him.” I say, hoping to draw out any information Hannibal might have accumulated about how he’s choosing the families.
“The Jacobis were the first to help him, the first to lift him into the glory of his becoming. The Jacobis were better than anything he knew.” He says. Did they know the Dragon? No, if that’s the conclusion my mind is jumping to, then that means that’s the conclusion Hannibal wants me to draw. He would never give me the answer that easily. If anything, it was a one-sided relationship. The Dragon may have known them, come into contact with them at some point before deciding to kill them, but the Jacobis wouldn’t have known him.
“Until the Leedses.” I point out.
“As the Dragon grows in strength and glory, there are families to come.” A fact which I’m all too aware of.
“I have to believe there is a common factor and we'll find it soon.” Admitting it feels like defeat, and the way that Hannibal looks at me solidifies that notion.
“Otherwise you have to enter more houses and see what the Dragon has left for you. Eleven days to the next full moon. Tick-tock.” His words make my mind immediately jump to Molly and Wally, which is exactly what Hannibal intended, judging by his smirk.
“I like this Dragon, Will. I don't think he's crazy at all. I think he may be quite sane. A magnificent thing, to watch the world through his red haze.”
I leave not long after that. Looking into the Blake painting seems a better use of my time than these mental gymnastics that I play with Hannibal, no matter how much I secretly enjoy them. Sometimes I get so lost in our conversations that I don’t even realize that we’re not in his office, or that we’re separated by a pane of Plexiglas.
I think that, based on the way he looks at me, Hannibal sometimes forgets as well.
I go to my motel room that night and call Molly, just to make sure she’s alright. She’s fine, although her voice sounds a little strained. Bedelia’s voice comes back to me, asking if Molly is aware of how intimate my relationship with Hannibal is.
Not for the first time I’m made aware that Molly deserves better than this. That I’m selfish for thinking that I can build a normal life for myself by sliding into someone else’s.
I make small talk with her, exchange the pleasantries she needs to hear, and assure her that I’m doing fine. We’ll catch the Dragon soon.
What would she do if she knew Hannibal was an omega? I think that the only reason she’s stayed with me this long is that she thinks he’s an alpha. Most people do. I’m not sure how anyone’s managed to keep Hannibal’s gender a secret, but I suppose that it must fall under patient confidentiality.
I say goodnight after eighteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds. I wonder what Hannibal’s doing right now.
Sometimes I really hate being right. I don’t mean that in an asshole “I’m always right” kind of way, but every once in a while I’ll get this feeling, and I always hope I’m wrong. Sometimes I am, and it’s great. More often than not, though, I’m right, and it’s usually devastating.
Of course Hannibal has been in contact with the Dragon. Of course he knew just where I’d find him, and just what to say to get me there without issue. I had my suspicions, of course, that the information would lead to the Dragon sooner or later, I just expected it to be a little later than sooner.
Now I have about a dozen bruises to prove otherwise. Goddammit, Hannibal.
The Dragon is an alpha, which isn’t really surprising. He also ate the Blake painting.
I feel like a disproportionate number of serial killers have some kind of oral fixation. I wonder if it’s a coincidence, or if there’s a real correlation to be found there.
I can’t even find it within myself to be angry at Hannibal, though. Even as I sit through Jack’s questioning and feel Alana’s growing disapproval, I blame myself. I was so close to the Dragon, and yet watching him slip away through my fingertips…I’m frustrated. Aggravated.
But Jack wants to see if we can push him to suicide and I realize just how much Hannibal has changed us all. Oh, he’d be so pleased if he could see Jack now. Jack, who’s always been the lawful good of our little game…slipping into the grey areas between defined roles. Happy to not only bend the rules, but twist them into neat little loopholes that suit his purposes. No one escapes from Hannibal untouched.
“I’m not fortune’s fool. I’m yours.” I say, the words carefully chosen to get a rise out of Hannibal, and as I turn to him, to see the reaction painted on his face – he’s not even paying attention. I imagine he thinks he has the monopoly on theatrics. There he stands, hand extended towards the ceiling as he stares up at the moon. It hits me then, that Hannibal Lecter will never again feel the moonlight on his skin. Why does the thought sadden me?
“Behold the Great Red Dragon.”
“And did you?” He inquires, as if he doesn’t already know the answer.
“The Brooklyn Museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays, but researchers are admitted. You knew that's when we'd both be going.” I accuse.
“A sophisticated intelligence can forecast many things. I suppose mine is sophisticated enough.” He says, ever the narcissist.
“He’s contacted you.” I state.
“How do you imagine he's contacted me? Personal ads? Writing notes of admiration on toilet paper?” And the fact that he’s mentioned those means they’re all wrong.
“There’s a family out there who don’t know he’s coming. We can save them. Tell me who he is.” I say, knowing it’s a mistake even as the words leave my lips. There’s no sense in trying to appeal to Hannibal’s sense of decency, when he has none.
“I don’t know who he is.” A half-truth at best. At worst, an outright lie. “When you close your eyes, Will, is it your family you see?” The words drawing up my worst nightmare from the depths of my mind. I’ve imagined it ever since I heard about it, and Hannibal knows this. He’s playing dirty again.
Even though I’ve managed to avoid the thick, heady sexual tension that blanketed the room the first time I saw him, Hannibal is volatile when jealous. I know this already.
“How’s he choosing them?” I ask, even though I know I won’t get a straight answer or even an answer that’s close to serious.
“Social media I imagine, can’t be too careful with privacy settings.” He says, almost glib.
“Do you know who they are?”
“Yes.” The answer sends a chill down my spine and I have to remind myself that Molly is fine. Hannibal doesn’t know our address. The Dragon may know my face, but he doesn’t necessarily know my name, and he has no reason to go after my family. They’re a ways away from his usual hunting grounds anyway. They’re safe. They’re safe.
“And you’re willing to let them die.”
“They’re not my family, Will, and I’m not letting them die. You are.”
I turn around and walk out before I do something I might regret. Hannibal isn’t going to give me anything useful, not when he’s so busy playing these games with himself and the lives of others. I suppose there’s nothing else for a man with several life sentences to do.
Again, the reminder that Hannibal will never leave these walls alive strikes me to the core. Hannibal has no reason whatsoever to be cooperative. What does he have to gain from it? He won’t be released, he won’t be transferred. He will never be given privileges that allow him any more influence over his surroundings than he already has. He has nothing left but this. I can’t deny that in this moment, I pity him. I really do. And I wonder for what might be the first time, if perhaps I’m not the crueler one for having put him here.
If I hadn’t rejected him that night, he wouldn’t be here, wasting away more and more each day, grasping at whatever human interaction he can in order to get his kicks. For a tiny, fleeting moment, I can’t help but wonder if maybe running away with him the last time he’d asked would have been more a public service than anything, in the long run.
I don’t think I’d be in nearly this much mental anguish if I had. Playing this game against Hannibal is the most taxing, draining activity I’ve ever participated in. What would happen if we were on the same team?
Maybe I’ll revisit this line of thinking some other time. Not now, though, I don’t have time for this. I have a dragon to catch.
I think, on some level, I expected the phone call. I didn’t want to consider it as a possibility, but after the conversation I had with Hannibal, I should have realized.
I speed all the way to the hospital, despite knowing that they’re alright now. Jack gave me as much information as he was able to, but I still can’t help but fear the worst with each passing road sign on the highway.
My mind’s a jumble of emotions. There’s anger, yes. Fury. Indignation. Split about evenly between Hannibal and the Dragon. The Dragon... well, he was just following his nature, wasn’t he? He wasn’t truly the one in control. No, it was the voices inside his head that guided his actions, but Hannibal didn’t have to go and make himself one of those voices.
He could have stayed out of it. He could have chosen not to play along. But that would have been contrary to his nature, wouldn’t it? What did Hannibal have without his games? It wasn’t like he truly had anything better to do, locked up in there. And why am I bothering to make excuses for him?
I’m understandably worried, too. Not just for Molly, but for Wally as well. What am I going to do if Molly doesn’t make it? Maybe I’m more worried for myself, then, and the selfishness of that makes me a little nauseous. But I can’t raise a kid. Especially one that only barely tolerated me before his mom’s association with me painted a huge target on both their backs.
My thoughts aren’t any calmer when I get to the hospital, and dread is pooling in the pit of my stomach, heavy like lead. There’s too much unknown, too many variables. I hate the feeling of unsteady footing, not knowing where I stand.
This is only made more poignant during my conversation with Wally. I don’t know why I don’t try to deny it or even explain myself when he brings up an old Freddie Lounds article he saw regarding my own incarceration. And when he tells me I ought to kill the Dragon, he makes it very clear what he’d wished had happened to me, as well. I’m struck by a new wave of resentment towards Freddie, and not for the first time, I wish I’d killed her when I had the chance.
I don’t know if I can go back to Molly, to this family I’ve built. I’ve put them in danger. Actual, life-threatening danger. Molly won’t be able to see me as her “sweet man”. The quiet, mild-mannered Alpha I’ve tried to be for her. No, I have no doubt that she’ll see her relationship with me just as dangerous as The Dragon himself. There is a loathing that rises within me, like acidic bile at the back of my throat, and it lingers, directionless. I can’t decide who or what I hate more, but Jack’s platitudes do nothing to help.
Strange, that I’m now in a position to resent Jack more than I ever have Hannibal.
I can’t think about him right now. I can’t.
I feel I owe her that much.
Molly’s not awake when I visit her, having just gotten out of surgery, lying there in the hospital bed and looking more vulnerable than she ever has. I feel... protective of her. She didn’t deserve this.
“Wally’s safe. The dogs are safe.” Are the first words I speak to her as her eyes flutter open and meet mine. “We’re picking them up and bringing them in.” She smiles weakly.
“You look different.” She says. “You said you wouldn’t be the same when you came home.”
“You said you would.” I say, because she’s right. I’ll never be the same as the man I was when I was with her. Even if I tried to don that mantle again, she’d see right through it. She’d realize that it had been fake from the beginning. I didn’t change, I just took off the veil.
“Boy was I wrong about that.” She says with a self-deprecating laugh. “I wanted you to go, I told you to go. No one to blame but myself. And Jack Crawford. I do blame Jack Crawford.”
That’s one thing we have in common, then. “Jack knew what he was doing.” I say. “And so did I.” Because I did. I knew the price for returning to work with Jack. And I knew that there was no way I’d escape the trip without ever seeing or interacting with Hannibal again. I knew.
“Is he after you now? Is that why he came after us?” She asks, her voice breaking a little, and it would be so, so easy to lie to her. So easy to accept the out that she was offering, that yes, this had all been a typical job hazard. But after all the lies, all the omissions that she’s allowed and never questioned me on, I feel that the time for honesty has come.
I think I’ve come to realize that this isn’t sustainable. Even if we walked away with our marriage intact... resentment would grow and fester like an infected wound, rotting from the inside out.
“He came after us... because Hannibal suggested it. He urged him to do it.” I say and watch the play of emotions on her face.
“That’s a clammy, sick feeling.” She says, and I know she’s slotting the pieces together, hedging her bets. I know she’s tried to believe that Hannibal was just some sick fuck with an obsession. But she knows too much about my own side of things. My own... pining . Even before I knew he was an omega. This... she’s going to figure out that this was pure and simple jealousy before long, and soon she’ll be asking why.
“Yeah, I know it is.” I agree, because it is. But for completely different reasons she doesn’t need to know.
“Wally almost died. My son almost died. I almost died.” She accuses, and I don’t bother trying to argue. “I knew it was him. I knew it was him. I saw your picture in that paper and I knew it was him.”
There it is. She takes a deep breath, and the exhale is shaky as she tries to calm herself.
“Hell, I got mad there for a second.” She laughs, and I chuckle along, but we both know how superficial this has become.
There is an unbearable silence, and I do feel remorse for what has happened. I wish I’d never gotten her involved in Hannibal’s games. I wish I hadn’t answered Jack when he came calling.
“I hate this, Molly.” I say and she nods. “I’m sorry.”
“This could take a while.” She says, not just about the case.
“It might.” I agree.
“We’ll be back home, won’t we?”
“Yeah.” I nod, but I don’t mean the three of us together. The look on her face says she knows that, too.
“Tough to hold onto anything good. It’s all so slippery.”
“Slick as hell.” I nod, and think about all the things I’ve lost, sliding out of bloodied hands.
The drive to the BSHCI is agony.
Whatever my personal feelings for Hannibal, I’m so goddamn tired of being manipulated. And I’m even more fucking tired of his petty jealousy. I staunchly ignore the niggling voice in the back of my mind that says, It was your repeated rejections of him that made him this way .
“I’m just about worn out with you crazy sons of bitches.” I snarl as I approach the glass, Hannibal matching my stride. He seems nonplussed by my anger, which only serves to further upset me.
“The essence of the worst of the human spirit is not found in the crazy sons of bitches. Ugliness is found in the faces of the crowd.” He replies, as if this was still a therapy session and we were trading philosophical ideologies.
“What did you say to him?” I demand, barely keeping my rage in check.
“Save yourself. Kill them all.” Hannibal replies immediately, if a little matter-of-factly. Perhaps it’s the scent of an angry alpha so near to him that has made him more compliant. “Then I gave him your home address.” He says, clearly proud of himself.
He’s frank. Unapologetic. But he’s also not lying or trying to obfuscate like usual. Still, a dark, ugly part of me wonders what it might feel like to grip the back of his neck and force him to submit, to atone for every cruelty he’s dealt me and mine.
“How’s the wife?” He asks after a moment of prolonged eye contact in which I imagine a variety of ways to make him pay. I owe him a reckoning after all.
“How’s my wife?” I ask, putting emphasis on the possessive, and drawing attention to what, precisely, Hannibal is not . “She’s lucky.”
“She survived the Great Red Dragon. Takes a pinch more than luck.” Hannibal says, and I can see the little tics that indicate he’s a bit more than peeved. It’s satisfying in it’s own way, but it’s still not enough. “When you look at her now, what do you see?”
“You know what I see.” The words clawing their way up my throat as I imagine Molly and Walter laid out like every one of The Dragon’s crime scenes.
“Before he became the Red Dragon, this shy boy would not have dared any of this.” Hannibal’s eyes have grown darker, until they’re little more than black orbs. “Now he thinks he can do anything. Anything. Anything .” I grit out.
“The Dragon likely thinks you're as much a monster as you think he is.”
“Is this a competition?” I sneer, disgusted at the way that Hannibal can’t seem to ever disengage with whatever game he’s playing.
"Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast, and one is striving to forsake its brother." Hannibal quotes. Faust. “The Great Red Dragon is freedom to him, shedding his skin, the sound of his voice, his own reflection. The building of a new body and the othering of himself, the splitting of his personality, all seem active and deliberate. He craves change.”
It occurs to me that Hannibal is only halfway still talking about the Dragon. He’s still trying to draw parallels, to convince me of my own capacity for violence and how by denying it I am essentially, splitting myself in half. It’s hardly new rhetoric.
“He didn’t murder those families? He changed them?”
“Don’t you crave change, Will?” He asks in return, and the lack of subtlety is very telling.
I don’t particularly want to return to Bedelia’s home for another session, but I have committed to this farce, and I intend to see it out until completion.
Still, I wait a couple days until some of my anger has subsided. Bedelia can sniff out weakness just as well as Hannibal can, and knowing what we’re likely to discuss, I need some distance from it first.
I haven’t spoken to Molly since I left the hospital. I’m not sure if I should, but I wouldn’t know what to say even if I did. Jack tells me she’s recovering well, out of the ICU and moved into the recovery ward. Jack’s been making arrangements for a safehouse once she’s released from the hospital.
Bedelia is hardly isolated, and what happened to Molly and Walter has unfortunately been spread across several media outlets. It’s already assumed that’s what we’ll be talking about and I’m not disappointed.
“I look at my wife and I see her dead. I see Mrs. Leeds and Mrs. Jacobi lying where Molly should be.”
“Do you see yourself killing her?”
“Yes. Over and over.” But only when I think about it, and my thoughts have been lingering elsewhere lately.
“It's hard to predict when brittle materials will break. Hannibal gave you three years to build a family and a life, confident he'd find a way to take them from you.” If I hadn’t already come to the same conclusion several days ago, the observation would probably put me on the defensive. But it’s true, and I think that even in the beginning, when I first started dating Molly, a part of me knew it would be temporary. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.
“And he has.” I say, because I know now that whatever happens, I won’t be going back to them. Regardless of how this case pans out, or even what happens with Hannibal, if she doesn’t file for divorce first, then I will. She deserves so much better than what I’m able to give her.
“What’s he going to take from you?” I ask, maintaining her incorrect assumption that we are in any way equal in Hannibal’s eyes.
“Is it important to you that he take something from me?” She returns. It’s the right question, considering I have more influence over Hannibal than she thinks I do. If I asked Hannibal to kill her. He would.
“Hannibal has agency in the world.” I smirk bitterly.
“Hannibal has no intention of seeing me dead by any other hand than his own, and only then if he can eat me.” She sounds so sure of herself that it’s laughable. I wonder if Hannibal would be disappointed if I killed her and he couldn’t witness it. Or would he be more disappointed to have missed my becoming ?
“He’s in no position to eat me now.” And that arrogance, that hubris... it can’t go unpunished. I’ve never made a secret how much I resent Bedelia. It would do her well to realize that while Hannibal might not be in a position to eat her, the same can’t be said about me.
“If you play, you pay.” I remind her. Not a single one of us has emerged unscathed by Hannibal’s influence, one way or another.
“You’ve paid dearly.” She observes. “It excites him to see you marked in this particular way.”
“Why?” I ask, and I think I already know the answer, but I’d like her take on it.
“Why do you think?”
“Bluebeard's wife. Secrets you're not to know, yet sworn to keep.” I offer, finding a sense of kinship within the story myself.
“If I'm to be Bluebeard's wife, I would've preferred to be the last.” She remarks bitterly, and I can’t help but enjoy the open contempt she feels for me.
“Is Hannibal in love with me?” I’m not sure what brings me to ask that question, but she has unfortunately spent a disturbing amount of time with Hannibal, behind the veil , as she refers to it. I’m curious.
“Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for you and find nourishment in the very sight of you?” She counters, her face twisted in disgust. “Yes. But do you ache for him?”
Bedelia, on the whole, isn’t a bad psychiatrist, malpractice aside. However, it astounds me how very blind she allows herself to become when clouded by strong emotion. It’s clear she’s afraid,
although she’d never admit it in so many words. She’s terrified of Hannibal, considers herself a survivor. I would relish bringing her to her knees, one way or another.
Her perception of Hannibal’s affections, though. I think I already knew the truth for a while now, I just didn’t want to face it with full knowledge of it. I won’t deny that I have trouble seeing what drew Hannibal to me, because if it was just a latent capacity for violence... well, there’s plenty of that to go around. And if it were just my empathy disorder, surely I’m not the only one who could possibly understand him, am I?
But do I ache for him?
I haven’t forgotten him once in three years. I memorize the letters he’s sent me before burning them, keeping his words private to me. I lament his captivity, and hate seeing him caged so. There’s something so intrinsically wrong with that picture, like a lion pacing in a zoo. Wild things are meant to be free.
Do I ache for him?
I think it’s safe to say that yes, I do. Every. Single. Day.
God help me.
It’s admittedly a foolhardy scheme, baiting the Red Dragon this way, but it’s clear Jack’s running out of ideas, and growing desperate, as he often does. Alana is... an irritating presence, and I don’t like the way that she’s changed. She was always a pillar of goodness and virtue, so to speak. Everyone’s moral compass and conscious. And then she took up this idea of Old Testament revenge, and I can honestly say I don’t know her anymore.
I don’t know what she’ll do, how far her boundaries have blurred, but she’s an unknown element now and that means she’s best handled at a distance. I remember a time I was attracted to her, or perhaps it was merely a side effect of proximity despite self-isolation. Whatever the reason, I’m vaguely relieved it didn’t work out after all.
The ease with which she throws Frederick Chilton under the bus is disturbing, but I hardly have the moral qualms to argue.
The interview goes about as well as can be imagined, and I take no small pleasure from distorting Chilton’s words. Being in Freddie’s presence is grating, and I must pass the time somehow.
“Frederick, would you like to be in the photograph?” I offer, and I know even as I do this that it would put him in grave danger. I am... surprisingly at ease with this knowledge. The Dragon may kill him. It’s possible I haven’t quite forgiven him for his particular brand of care while I was incarcerated.
If he lives, I’ll consider our scores settled.
I deliberately place my arm on his back - a symbol of camaraderie, of unity. It says, “we are in complete agreement.” I truly will be surprised if he lives.
I walk with Jack outside where I’m staying. It may look like a casual walk but we’re surveying the area, scouting it out, if you will.
Jack accuses the Dragon of trying to kill my wife and family.
However, a the faintest whispers of a plan, an idea are starting to form in the back of my mind, percolating slowly as I decide on a course of action. It’s entirely possible that the Dragon won’t be caught by this. It’s... important that Jack sees me angry at Hannibal.
I correct him, saying that no, Hannibal tried to kill my wife and family. The more disdain Jack thinks I harbor for Hannibal, the better.
I have nothing solid yet, but... there may be something.
When the tape reaches us, not long after Frederick goes missing, it’s a delight to see Alana’s reaction in particular. No longer can she claim the moral high ground, but then, she’s lost that ability a while ago.
I watch, rapt, and find myself empathizing so deeply with the Dragon I’m almost overwhelmed. I... don’t regret what has become of Chilton, but being able to experience it as the Dragon did adds a whole other dimension to the feeling. There is a... jubilance rising within me that I struggle to contain, to hide from Alana and Jack in the room.
I’d heard about the incident with Hannibal earlier that day, in which Chilton’s lips were delivered to him. Forensics is currently poring over the one that Hannibal isn’t currently digesting. I imagine he must have been delighted. I’d say he has at least as much loathing for Chilton as I do.
The plan that had begun as wisps of possibility begin to coalesce into tendrils of schemes and I start to see a way to bring them to fruition. I can’t help but wonder at the existance of fate, more specifically, if there is perhaps a certain gravity between us that will always draw us near. The thought is as comforting as it is frightening. It suggests a massive vulnerability that I can’t even begin to fathom how to protect.
That, however, is a question for another day.
I suspect that my meetings with Bedelia are rapidly drawing to a close. There is a storm brewing on the horizon. One way or another, whatever insights Bedelia may have for me are quickly losing their usefulness.
She stares at me accusingly and I meet her gaze unflinchingly. “Would you like to talk about what happened to Frederick Chilton?” She asks, not even trying to mask the disapproval in her voice.
“The divine punishment of the sinner mirrors the sin being punished.” I say.
“Contrapasso. You play, you pay.” I wonder if she truly has come to accept that or if she’s just mirroring back to me what she thinks I want to hear.
“Chilton languished unrecognized until Hannibal the Cannibal.” I say, the words sounding bitter in my mouth. Hannibal is so much more than the parody they’ve made of him. “He wanted the world to know his face.”
“Now he doesn't have one.” She quips.
“Damned if I’ll feel.”
“We're all making our way through the Inferno. Dante's pilgrims.”
“We're pets, not pilgrims. And the Great Red Dragon kills pets first.” I remind her.
“You put a hand on Dr. Chilton's shoulder for the picture.” She says, pinpointing the most damning detail. “Touch gives the world an emotional context. The touch of others makes us who we are. It builds trust.”
“I put my hand on his shoulder for authenticity.” I tell her, a smirk playing on my lips.
“To establish he really told you those insults about the Dragon? Or maybe you wanted to put Dr. Chilton at risk? Just a little?” She asks, like she doesn’t already know the answer.
“I wonder.” I deadpan.
“Do you really have to wonder?” She asks anyway.
“Did you know what the Great Red Dragon would do? You were curious what would happen, that's apparent. Is this what you expected?” And I marvel at the way her accusations slip off of me like oil and water. I couldn’t care less about what she thinks about what I’ve done.
“I can't say I'm surprised.”
“Then you may as well have struck the match. That's participation. Hannibal Lecter does have agency in the world. He has you.” And it’s about time she’s realized that. I do wonder, however, what Hannibal will say if he’s allowed to find out what, exactly, happened to Chilton, and why.
I visit Chilton, of course. And it’s somehow gratifying to know that he knows he was set up, that it wasn’t merely a coincidence that he was targeted instead of me. There’s a brief curl of anxiety as I relay the message to Jack, a brief worry that he’ll decide Chilton’s right and deserves some kind of justice.
But Jack still needs me. And frankly, there’s nothing he can truly pin on me. As the agent in charge, he ultimately had the last word on the plan. He could have demanded a reshoot,
insisted that Freddie didn’t use that particular picture. But he didn’t. He’s as complicit as any of us.
When word comes that the Dragon killed himself, I admit to being disappointed. I visit Reba in the hospital, she’s a lot stronger than she looks. She’s a fighter and I know she’ll get through this. But the whole situation has me on edge. The ideas that had been merging in my mind, stymied in their growth. It grates on my nerves.
I’ll have to visit Hannibal again, but I already know it’ll go poorly. It’s just that kind of day at this point.
“Ding-dong, the dragon’s dead.” I greet Hannibal, and watch the emotions play on his face. There’s disappointment there, as I’d expected, but also faint glimmers of hope.
“Are congratulations in order?” He asks.
“I didn’t kill him. Suicide.” And I know he hears my own disappointment, but he’ll probably draw the wrong conclusions from it.
“Then he wasn't as strong as the Dragon after all.”
“He was trying to stop.”
“I was rooting for you, Will.” He says, and the implication that it was all a game is just as irritating as ever. “It's a shame. You came all this way and you didn't get to kill anybody. Only consolation is Dr. Chilton. Congratulations for the job you did on him. I admired it enormously. What a cunning boy you are.”
I have to swallow down the proud smile that threatens to eclipse my face. Hide the reaction I have to Hannibal’s words. I find that I’m... pleased that he likes what I’ve done. Not that I can allow him, or anyone else to see that. However, there is an instinct lingering in my gut, a feeling that I can’t quite shake, and it means that this isn’t over yet.
“Are you accusing me of something?”
“Does the enemy inside you agree with the accusation? Even a little bit?”
“I came back to stop the Dragon. He's stopped.” I say simply, partially to see what Hannibal will say to that.
“Your family was on his itinerary. Safe now. You can go home again. If there's any point.” He says. And then, like he just can’t help himself but ask, “Is there any point?”
He’s reaching for assurances I can’t give him. Not yet. “I like my life there.” I say, trying to sound purposefully unconvincing.
“It won't be the same. You'll see it's not the same. The unspoken knowledge will live with you, like unwanted company in the house.” He says, picking up on it and just as irritated with the fact that I’m lying and not trying to hide it.
“Molly and I want it to be the same.” I try, forcing myself not to look towards the cameras as I say it.
“Mutual assurances you try to exchange in the dark and in the day will pass through some refraction, making them miss their mark. When life becomes maddeningly polite... think about me. Think about me, Will, don't worry about me.”
Fuck. I’d hoped to be subtle enough to convey a message, but I guess I was a little too subtle because Hannibal has allowed himself to spiral into this mess of jealousy. Even if I couldn’t read it plain as day on his face, I can smell it, somehow acrid yet cloyingly sweet at the same time. It’s an unpleasant emotion radiating off of him in waves.
I place my hand on the glass, the closest I’ll get to touching him here, and try to tell him with my eyes everything I can’t say out loud, my eyes softening as I allow myself to look at him with the abject adoration that I feel but can’t quite express yet.
“You turned yourself in so I would always know where you are. You'd only do that if I rejected you. Good-bye, Hannibal.” I say, and there’s a slight widening of his eyes, imperceptible to anyone else, as he takes in my expression, a similar one gracing his features. There is a brief flash of pride in his eyes.
My time’s up, and I slowly remove my hand from the glass, and turn away from him. This is a million times harder than I had expected.
“Will... ” He says, and I turn. “Was it good to see me?”
There’s a tiny, private smile on my lips just for him. In the doorway, my expression is hidden from the cameras and I take advantage of it. The slight dip of his chin tells me he saw it. “Good?” I parrot back. “No.”
It was great.
There was, of course, the worry that my instincts had been entirely wrong and that I had just squandered my very last visit with Hannibal, but being ambushed in my motel room was... strangely comforting.
It seemed that reports of the Dragon’s death had been greatly exaggerated. A shame that he chose to drug me, though. It left me with a pounding headache and a sour taste in my mouth.
It’s almost too easy to convince the Dragon that Hannibal ought to be his real target. But Hannibal does have a habit of betraying people when he’s playing his games. It occurs to me for a moment that our manipulations, Hannibal’s and mine, may even stem from the same motives. Is it possible? Could he know already what I have planned? Could he have known my mind before even I did?
Convincing Jack was also concerningly easy. A true testament to just how desperate he’s become. When I tell him that Hannibal would be the best bait, he levels me a look so searching that I’m sure the gig is up and he’s figured it all out before I’d even started. But no. He, for some reason, hears me out and eventually agrees.
I know that the prospect of the Dragon killing Hannibal in the process of our catching the Dragon is appealing to Jack. Even locked up, Hannibal does seem to be able to raise a certain amount of hell.
Jack agrees to fake an escape. I can’t wait to tell Bedelia the news.
She’s struck speechless. Truly speechless for the first time I can remember. I savor the moment. She forgoes wine for something much stronger. She doesn’t offer me a drink.
“We assign a moment to decision, yet what you propose is so thoughtless, I find it difficult to imagine that moment exists.” She says after a long moment, and returns to her chair.
“Decisions are made of kneaded feelings. They're more often a lump than a sum.”
“However you think you're going to manipulate this situation to your advantage, think again.”
“There is no advantage. It's all degrees of disadvantage.” I say, pitying her for her lack of vision. It’s gratifying however, to be, time and time again, given more evidence of what a terrible match she was for Hannibal. Clever in her own way, perhaps, but ultimately missing the point entirely when it truly mattered.
"Who holds the Devil, let him hold him well. He will hardly be caught a second time." She quotes, giving me a delightful way to drive the point home.
“I don't intend Hannibal to be caught a second time.” I say, and watch as her expression shifts from disdain to terror. It’s clear that she is hoping desperately that I don’t mean what she thinks I mean. Certainly, she can try to imagine that I mean Hannibal will die, rather than be caught. But we both know that’s not what I have planned.
“Can't live with him. Can't live without him. Is that what this is?” She asks, her voice having taken on a rather delicate quality.
“I guess this is my Becoming.”
“What you're "becoming" is pathological.” She counters, rising from her chair with anxious energy, turning to stand at her window.
“Extreme acts of cruelty require a high degree of empathy.” I remind her of her own words.
“You found religion. Nothing more dangerous than that.” I can’t help but smile, because in essence, in all the ways that matter, she’s right.
“I'd pack my bags if I were you, Bedelia. Meat's back on the menu.” I can’t help but taunt. I won’t be seeing her again after this. Not in this setting. It seems a wasted opportunity not to goad her at least a little bit.
“You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man! Might as well cut all our throats and be done with it!” She exclaims with more emotion than I’ve ever seen her show before.
“Ready or not. Here he comes.” I jab, making a dramatic exit that Hannibal would be proud of.
Hannibal wants to see me. Wants me to ask him myself to agree to the deal I’ve spun with Jack and Alana. It’s clear that the latter doesn’t trust me any farther than she can throw me, but fortunately, Jack is blinded. Too eager to rid himself of two serial killers that he isn’t taking the time needed to truly think this over.
When it is over, Jack won’t have a job. Of this, I’m certain. The director will have his head for this. All the better.
“I thought you said your good-byes.” Hannibal says in greeting. I try to hide my own delight at seeing him again, but he makes no such effort.
We know the roles we play now. We know the words expected of us as if we’d memorized a script.
“We've one last good-bye between us.”
“You didn't just say good-bye, though, did you? That little extra bit at the end. What was that you said?” Hannibal asks, tone almost light enough to tease.
“You wouldn't have turned yourself in unless I rejected you.” I repeat, the words sounding hollow and ugly in my ears.
“Yes. That extra bit. I believe that's what they call a "mic drop." You dropped the mic, Will, but here you are having to come back and pick it up again.” I can’t help but smile at that. I never imagined I’d hear anything like that fall from Hannibal’s lips. He’s so close, his scent so intoxicating, my mind immediately has to wonder what other improbable things could I coax from his lips?
“I knew you would keep running if I kept chasing you. I knew you wanted me to know exactly where I could find you. When I needed you.” I say instead, trying to keep the conversation on track before my traitorous mind can derail it.
“And you did.” Hannibal says, pleased.
“I need you, Hannibal.” And I watch the way his pupils dilate at the words. Good to see he’s just as affected. I don’t have to look at the orderlies standing behind him to know that they’re uncomfortable with this strange brand of flirting.
“Ding-dong. The Dragon's not dead.”
“He told you he wanted to meet you. Maybe that's a serious invitation. After the big escape, you send the Dragon a message in the personal ads, you ask him for a rendezvous.” I explain the plan that Jack had fleshed out.
“He won't go near a mail drop.” I mentally roll my eyes. Now was not the time to be pointing out flaws in the plan, for christ’s sake.
“But he might be curious enough to look at one to see if you sold him.” I insist.
“If he could do it from a distance.” Hannibal counters, intent on being insufferable.
“We picked a drop that can be watched from only a few places a long way off, and we'll stake out the observation points.”
“It sounds weak to you, even as you say it.” Fucking hell, Hannibal. Just play the fuck along.
“Secret Service has a setup they've never used. They'll let us have it. You're our best shot, Hannibal.” I say, hoping he’ll just shut up and agree.
“Please.” I say, with as much humility I can manage, looking up at him in a way that... well. It’s not quite chaste. It’s the basest form of manipulation, but it erases any doubts I might have had when Hannibal’s breath hitches just a fraction and he eventually agrees.
Things move quickly after that, and we’re not afforded another opportunity to speak to each other. Alana is understandably antsy, on the phone constantly and I can hear her arranging flights and security. Not that that will make any difference. When Hannibal wants someone dead, they have a habit of getting that way.
Jack seems to be riding some kind of adrenaline high at the idea that he might just get to have everything he ever wanted handed to him on a silver plate.
I’m a serene sort of calm as I’m loaded into the transport vehicle, Hannibal already there, caged and strapped down and muzzled. It’s an indignity he will have to bear only for a little while longer. I wonder if everyone can hear the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears, or if the sound of the engine is managing to drown it out.
I make eye contact with Hannibal a couple times, but I can’t look for long. The joy in his eyes is infectious, and I can’t allow my composure to slip and alert anyone that something’s amiss. I have to wonder, though, just how far the Dragon is going to let us get before he decides to intervene and enact his own will. We hadn’t had the chance to plan out anything concrete at the time, after all, since I didn’t even know if Jack would agree to this in the first place.
But about an hour into our journey, there is the sound of a police siren, sudden and jarring as it passes the police convoy. I know with certainty what is about to happen right before it does.
Tires and brakes screech, and metal groans as it twists.
Then everything is chaos.
I am a little dazed, although not altogether surprised as I take in the situation and see the carnage around us that The Dragon has left in his wake. I knew this was a likely outcome, I knew that The Dragon would not see it as a worthy, glorious victory to destroy Hannibal while he was still in captivity. No, it made sense that The Dragon would want him on more even ground before bringing him low.
The mere thought of Hannibal in the context of The Dragon’s other victims raises something ugly and possessive from my chest.
Not that I am surprised. Not in the slightest. Hannibal is mine. I have made that decision. Nothing and no one will be taking him away from me.
Hannibal is cavalier as always, far too pleased with himself, sauntering around the crime scene and making himself comfortable. The straitjacket is abandoned on the ground. The sunlight on his skin only makes him look more pale and sickly and I feel the urge to feed him, to tend to him until he is healthy and well. I have to temporarily squash the feeling, it's just not time for that kind of thing yet.
Hannibal takes a police cruiser, not hesitating to pull the dead officer out of the driver’s seat and take his place. When he pulls in front of me with a teasing, “Going my way?” and shoving the other officer out the door, I can’t help but grimace a little at how macabre the whole thing is, but I get in anyway.
Hannibal seems to know where he is going and we sit in silence for a while. It is obvious that it is going to be a rather long drive. I am at a loss for words. All the things I know I need to tell him. All the things I had planned to say... none of it seems adequate enough. Nor does there seem to be any natural way to bring any of it up without the conversation turning ridiculously awkward.
Hannibal seems to have some kind of sixth sense, though, when it comes to awkward conversations. He has always known exactly how to push and prod at my buttons to get the responses he wants… and that was before I knew he was an omega. I do not want to imagine the kind of power he would have been able to wield over me back then if I had known about his status then. I probably would have ended up spiraling down a rabbit hole of misery.
Even now, I know he’s watching me out of the corner of his eye. I know he’s gauging my every movement, every subconscious twitch or fidget, he’s cataloguing. He will pick apart every nuance of my behavior for the sake of his theories. I know this and somehow it doesn’t bother me as much as it should.
“Hannibal.” I eventually speak into the silence of the car. He inhales sharply, almost as if he didn’t actually expect me to be the one to break the silence. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I am pretty surprised at myself too. I do not know what prompted me to speak, but it is too late to take it back now. There is no way to unsay what has already been spoken.
“Yes, Will?” He asks me when I have been silent again for too long. I don’t know how long I was silent. Time seems to pass differently in his presence.
“We probably need to talk.” I say eventually.
“I agree. Would you not prefer to wait until we have arrived at our destination?” He asks and I shake my head. If we wait, I will lose my nerve.
“No, I need to get this out now or I don’t think I ever will.” I say and I see the way his jaw tenses, the way that his knuckles tighten on the steering wheel, his eyes hardening on the road ahead like he is afraid of whatever I am about to say. I hate that I am the one who has done this to him. It is my fault that he doubts me like this. It’s my fault that he’s paranoid that I am just going to leave him again. I hate that there’s not more that I can do to assuage his worry.
He does not speak and I take that as permission to continue.
“I'm angry with you. No, angry doesn't really cover it, but you know that already. And it's not something that's going away overnight." I begin, and almost lose my nerve when I see the way his face drops. I am astounded at the way that I can read him like a book, now. I can read the lines of hurt and despair on his face, the tightening of muscles like he’s trying not to show me how affected he is.
“But.” I continue anyway, “I am choosing you. I have chosen you. You are not getting away from me this time, Hannibal Lecter. No, this time you’re stuck with me. For good.” Fuck. That sounded a lot better and even a little romantic in my head. Said out loud, it just sounds like something a truly psychotic person would say.
“Will.” He begins and I can hear the way his voice breaks and it breaks my heart.
“Hannibal. I mean it. You’re mine and I’m not letting you go.” I say, urgency coloring my voice. He is silent and I turn my head, only to see uncharacteristic tears welling in his eyes and relief written over every inch of his countenance.
Figures that he’d find that romantic. Only a truly crazy person would. Maybe we really are meant for each other.
The drive to Hannibal’s safe house is spent mostly in contemplative silence. I don’t think either of us quite knows what to say, considering. However, Hannibal’s hand had reached for mine, and our fingers have been intertwined ever since. Our palms are sweaty, pressed against each other, but I can’t fathom moving away.
There’s been an idea, a plan, ruminating and percolating inside my mind for some time now. The kind of plan that I’ve been afraid to truly consider openly and plan for. No, that’s not quite right. I’ve been planning…I’ve just been lying to myself about my own motivations. I’m not going to be able to for much longer, though. The time to put the plan into motion is quickly approaching and I find that I’m not ready. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.
“Will?” Comes his voice, interrupting my thoughts, and we’ve arrived at our destination much sooner than I anticipated. It’s remote, and more architecturally modern than I would have expected. It occurs to me that I may have been sitting in a parked car, staring at space, for long enough to become alarming.
I nod to him, and seeing that I’m not catatonic, he releases my hand to exit the car. I miss the contact immediately. My hand feels colder than it should as the sweat dries and leaves a void where Hannibal ought to exist.
He stands near the edge of a cliff and I join him, peering over the edge, dangerously close. In another life, I can imagine dragging him off the bluff with me, dooming us both. Maybe a truly desperate version of myself would do such a thing, if he thought there weren’t any other options. Or perhaps if he thought his and Hannibal’s life were better off left to chance.
But in which universe that version of ourselves may lie, I can’t say. I am grateful, however, to have more options than are afforded to that alternate version of myself. My hand reaches for Hannibal’s, and our fingers are slotted back together—where they belong.
“The bluff is eroding…” I hear him say, but I’m not paying full attention. No, I am too preoccupied with the way I can hear my heart pounding in my own ears. I have to commit this moment to memory, here and now.
The salt water spraying my face, his hand in mine, his scent wafting over and mixing with the sea breeze. The taste of blood in my mouth, the chill that is starting to set into my bones. The heat I can feel radiating off of his body.
“Come.” I tell him, interrupting whatever it was he was saying. I can’t play that game right now. I can’t twist words and meanings in our usual elaborate dance. If this is to be a rebirth, then I would have us begin in honesty.
We go inside and it’s unsettling how, despite being taller than me, Hannibal looks up at me through his eyelashes, almost demurely. I can’t quite decide if it disturbs me…or if I like it. Perhaps both.
“Will?” He asks. We have a few hours before dark, which is when The Dragon usually chooses to strike. I, for one, plan on making the most of the time. I lead him to the couch, and we sit twisted in our seats, facing each other.
“Hannibal.” I answer. His lips twitch, pleased that I’ve used his first name once again.
“You have been scheming, dear boy.” He smirks, and for a moment, it almost feels like I am back in his office, still pretending at therapy.
I huff a laugh. “It pisses me off that you seem to know me better than I know myself.” I say. “You’ve been…infuriatingly right about a lot of things. But you’ve also manipulated me to your own ends. That’s…that’s going to end.”
There is a challenge in his eyes, one that directed at others might be terrifying. But I have seen this man cry when shown tenderness, and there’s not much that can really scare me anymore.
“I’m serious, Hannibal. I’m done with your games, your manipulations, your omissions and your persuasions.”
“Very well.” He says, and I know it’s far too easy an agreement. He’s playing at confidence, at an aloofness he doesn’t really feel.
I raise his hand, the one still fitted against mine, and bring the back to my lips, pressing a kiss to his knuckles. I hear his breath hitch. “Hannibal.” I sigh, and it’s a sigh of resignation, more than anything.
“They won’t have you.” I repeat.
“Where would you have us run?” He asks, and I hear the genuine curiosity in his voice. “I have prepared a number of passports…” His voice trails off as I begin to shake my head.
“We won’t need to leave. We can stay here, for a while, at least until you start killing again. But you and I both know that it’s hardly a compulsion.”
He nods, even though I see the confusion enter his eyes. “It is not, no. However, I am a convicted criminal, Will. However do you intend to change that?” He asks.
“I was acquitted.”
“You were.” He agrees, though he clearly doesn’t know where I’m going with this. Or rather, I’m sure he does, but he does not wish to hope. If he allowed himself to hope for the one clear solution for this mess, then he’d leave himself open for disappointment. After all, abandonment requires expectation.
“I am not a criminal in the eyes of the law. All charges against me have been dropped. I am a free man.”
“You know my plan. You’ve known it before I did. You know it because you deliberately set it up. Every action you’ve taken has been to push me towards this outcome, don’t you dare deny it now.”
He swallows visibly and drops his eyes. I glare at him, willing him to disagree, to contradict me.
“It was… a possibility I… dared not hope for.” He says. “But I did dream…” He admits wistfully.
“After hiding yourself for so many years, would you be able to cope with that? Would you willingly shackle yourself to another? Wouldn’t that level of vulnerability be anathema to your very being?”
Hannibal seems to seriously consider this, for which I’m grateful. “I had… considered that, yes. I had, as you said, three years to consider it. I have considered both the worst and best cases. I believe I am now prepared for either.”
I can’t help the frown that clouds my face, he sounds so resigned to his fate, and that’s…not something I want from him.
“Hannibal. If you don’t want this…”
“No, Will. I have wanted little else…”
“No, listen to me.” I interrupt. “If you don’t want this, then we’ll go on the run. I’ll follow you anywhere. But I won’t have you resenting me.”
“Oh Will.” He sighs, looking back at me. “I could never.”
I smile sadly, not quite believing him. “Really? Because we both have seen the crime scene photos, have talked to abused omegas, too scared to speak against their alphas.” I point out. “You can’t say that there’s nothing I could do to make you resent me.”
“Oh my dear, Will…” He smiles, and it’s a truly terrifying thing. “You would never get quite that far. I would kill you myself.”
The threat, ironically enough, is what puts me most at ease. This is the Hannibal that I know, uncowed and indomitable. I smile back, a relieved grin that relieves more tension than I knew I was carrying.
“Thank god for that.” I smirk. “I can’t say I’ve ever really cared for the power dynamics inherent in that kind of relationship.”
“Which is why you chose sweet, simple, safe, beta, Molly.” Hannibal points out, somewhat unkindly—his jealousy still unresolved.
“Yes.” I agree, he’s not wrong, after all.
“I would see us as equals, Will.”
“Do you know how to do that? What that even means?” I ask him.
He hums in thought, looking away for a moment, before dropping his eyes to our joined hands. “I have thought on it for years, and I believe I do, yes.”
“What does it mean to you, then?”
“Refraining from influencing you merely to see your reactions.” He begins, and I roll my eyes at the overly diplomatic way he says it, downplaying the way he has, in the past, nearly driven me insane with his “influences.”
“Inviting and incorporating your input in decisions that affect us both.” He adds, and well, that’s actually more than I was hoping for already. Honestly, I thought he’d stop at “I’ll try not to fuck with you anymore” but I’m pleasantly surprised.
“And I would appreciate the same from you, of course.” He finishes, and I realize just how well he’s truly thought this out if he’s acknowledging just how much influence I’d have over him if we go through with this. It comforts me, that he’s not just blindly jumping into something, “just to see what happens,” but rather has actually spent some time thinking on the consequences.
I nod slowly, considering. It won’t be easy, I know that. It won’t be a smooth transition, and to expect it to be would be naïve at best. No, I know that nothing concerning Hannibal has ever been or ever will be, easy. It’s just not in his nature. Well, truthfully, it’s not in either of our natures.
However, despite this, I feel a lot more hopeful for our chances than I did before. I have hope that whatever we may have between us won’t just crash and burn at the earliest opportunity. I know I won’t tolerate any more games out of Hannibal, and I know that he knows it too. I begin to feel like we may actually be reaching a point of true, mutual understanding. It’s probably one of the few times we’ve actually spoken plainly, clearly to each other. I intend to take advantage of it.
“I don’t think I’d realized this before, but it’s starting to feel like we’ve been building up to this for years.” I say, voice low and careful.
Hannibal smiles softly. “I have considered the same, yes. Like I said, I dared not hope…”
“I know. The thought of being denied is often more frightening than just living without.”
“Just so.” He agrees.
“If we want to pull this off, we should probably hurry.” I point out. “There’s no telling what state we’ll be in after The Dragon.”
Hannibal nods sagely. “Blood loss could make certain activities… challenging, to say the least.”
I snort a laugh, “Yeah, no fucking kidding.” I shake my head, “Come on…” I say, standing and leading him off the couch and down the hallway. Even though I do the leading, the heat in Hannibal’s eyes is nothing short of predatory, and warmth pools low in my belly.
We reach the threshold of the master bedroom, and he presses me to the wall, hands gripping my hips as he buries his nose in my neck, scenting me. I do the same, a hand on his waist and another running through his hair—cropped shorter than I’m used to seeing, but no less striking for it.
“Oh fuck…” I breathe as he nips strategically at my neck, miming an act I find myself craving desperately. I buck my hips against his, and am rewarded with his answering hiss. How many years has it been? How many years of foreplay?
When our lips finally meet, it’s so much sweeter than I have imagined. And oh, how I’ve imagined this. I can feel him trembling with emotion, and I back him up towards the bed, crawling over him when his knees buckle against the mattress. I swallow down the whimper that crawls from his throat at the display of dominance. Neither of us are entirely above our biology, it seems. And how could I possibly ever resist this omega, my omega, writhing beneath me as I drink his cries straight from his mouth?
His hands work diligently, worming their way beneath my shirt, gripping bare skin before he blindly sets himself to the task of undoing the buttons down the front of my shirt. I am more than happy to continue kissing him, his breath coming quicker even as he’s content to allow me to lead the kiss. I know how much it means to him for me to be the one initiating this.
My shirt is discarded somewhere on the floor and he starts working on my belt and trousers, just as our mouths part for air, hooded eyes meeting in mutual lust and desire. “You’re mine, Hannibal.” I growl, nibbling down the side of his neck and relishing the unabashed moan that tears from his lips.
My own hands work open that hideous jumpsuit, that jumpsuit that has looked both unflattering and yet still somehow appealing, simply by virtue of whose body it’s draped on. It’s entirely unfair, especially considering that I know I looked much worse in my own jumpsuit. But no. Hannibal could make a burlap sack look dignified.
I hate how harsh the material feels under my fingertips and I can only imagine how it must feel against much more sensitive omegan skin. I can’t wait for Hannibal to be clothed in the rich fabrics he prefers, smooth and soft against his body. I can’t help but want him wrapped up in finery, a visible reminder that it’s by my doing that he’s able to enjoy such luxuries, a sign of how I’ve provided for him.
The jumpsuit looks so much better on the floor.
“Will… oh Will…” He pants, fingers useless as I tease him, nibbling against the one spot I know he wants my teeth to sink into. But not yet… not quite yet. I pull back with a shit-eating grin, peppering little kisses against his affronted expression.
“Shhh, it’s alright sweetheart, I’ve got you.” I murmur, the endearment slipping out as naturally as anything. If his expression is anything to go by, I’ve managed to stun Hannibal into silence. He looks utterly mystified, and I think I’d really like to see that look more often.
“Will… please… undress….” He pleads, unable to muster the dexterity needed to finish undressing me himself. I chuckle a little at his expense, though I make sure to kiss the pout away before I back away just enough to drop my pants and boxers on the floor, removing shoes and socks while I’m at it, before tugging down Hannibal’s as well.
The slick slide of skin against naked skin has us both gasping and moaning, hands clutching and grabbing every inch of available flesh, neither of us quite able to wrap our minds around where we are, and what we’re finally able to have.
How I’d never seen Hannibal as a sexual creature up until recently completely baffles me, when now I know that all I’ll be able to see is the way his cheeks pink and his lips swell and redden when kissed, the way his skin begins to glisten and his hair sticks to his forehead when damp. I want to do wonderful, terrible things to this man. And now…now I can.
I wonder idly, as I kiss my way down his chest, what he would have done if I’d thought to proposition him all those years ago when we sat in an office thick with tension between us. I know, rationally, that he would have used such a relationship as one further manipulation, but the thought is…really hot, when it comes down to it.
I can’t help the smug smirk that tugs at my lips when I suck him down and he cries out in surprise. It’s not exactly… common, for an alpha to do this, I know. It’s considered almost deviant by some, and definitely so where I grew up. I don’t know if he grew up with the same stigma, but I imagine based on his reactions that he probably did.
His hands are politely fisted in the bedsheets, and it’s so incongruous to his personality that I have to stop to place a hand in my own hair, encouraging him. Just because this new tenderness exists between us doesn’t mean that our animalistic sides don’t have a place anymore. I wouldn’t take him as anything less than the unchecked force of nature that he is, and I need him to understand this.
I breathe carefully, sinking down until I can feel him tickling at the back of my throat. I force myself to swallow, rather than gag, working my throat around him and I feel his fingers tighten in my hair with each moan that I coax from him.
“Will… Will, I’m… oh…” He babbles warningly, and I pull back just enough to taste him, drinking down his release—so much less acrid than what alphas produce. It’s such a mild taste, just vaguely salty, and I know I could get addicted to this.
He trembles, but doesn’t push me away when the sensation grows to be too much, and I marvel at how pliant he has become in his pleasure. If I knew all I needed to get Hannibal to stop being an asshole was one good orgasm, I’d have probably dropped to my knees a long time ago.
He’s muttering in a language I don’t know and can’t really place, and I can’t help but smile proudly.
I’ve done this.
Far too pleased with myself, I don’t waste any time pushing his thighs up and out, burying my face and more specifically, my tongue, into his slack and loosened body. He’s not as slick as he would be during a heat, but slick has already begun to dribble out, and I have to taste him.
When I pull back to breathe, I see his toes curled in pleasure, and his fingers tight against the sheets again.
“Hold yourself open for me, love.” I tell him, and he complies so beautifully, hooking hands behind his knees to open himself up to my gaze and my attentions.
“Will!” He cries out, knuckles white with exertion as I spear my tongue inside him, joined with two fingers to spread him open for me as I lick him out. It’s a heady thing, eating out the most notorious cannibalistic serial killer in the world, and I’m sure there’s a heavy dose of irony to be found there. However, it also comes with a heavy feeling of smugness, the thought that my love is fierce and vicious, unyielding and unmatched in strength and cunning—and yet, he’s all mine. He is allowing me to pleasure him, to lay claim to him, to make him mine.
“Will please… please…” He begs, the sound sweeter than any other I’ve ever heard.
“Please… I need you, Will… alpha please….” He sobs, and the use of ‘alpha’ has me growling and crawling up over his body. I’m sure it was deliberate, but I can’t bring myself to care, not when those words are falling from his gorgeous, sculpted lips.
“Shhh, yes… anything. Anything, sweetheart…” I agree, and I know what he wants, even if he wasn’t wrapping his legs around my waist invitingly.
I’m done waiting as well, and I line myself up, thrusting home in one slick slide. Hannibal cries out, moaning out his pleasure as I fill him completely. It’s as if we have been made for each other, two jigsaw pieces perfectly matched and compatible with no other. It’s the sappy kind of sentiment that is most at home falling from his lips, but I’m sure if he voiced it, the metaphor would have been far more flowery and pretentious.
Time blurs, our bodies moving together as one, his hips meeting each of my increasingly hard thrusts with equal force. It’s just as tender as it is violent, sweet kisses traded in between pleas for more and faster and harder, and I hasten to comply. I can’t imagine not wanting to be buried inside him, and I can’t remember a time in which I wasn’t. The world narrowed down to here and now, the slapping of flesh and the sweet friction that draws us both ever close to our mutual climaxes.
There will be time to draw this out further, and I cannot wait for his next heat, an entire week spent in bed, taking communion from one another’s body, worshipping at the altar of our love—because that’s what this is. I’ve not wanted to acknowledge it, but how can I not, now? It’s as true as anything, and we both know it, feel it, are reassured by it. It’s perhaps not a usual kind of love, but something darker, possessive and selfish, yet adoring and devoted. We’d each kill the other if one of us tried to leave, now. Of that, I’m certain.
It’s fucked up, but it’s the most romantic thing I can think of.
I guess that makes me pretty fucked up, too.
Can’t be bothered to care, though. Not when I have a sweaty, needy, clingy Hannibal in my arms, begging me to fuck him harder, to bite him, to bend him in half and knot him up good. How can I deny him anything that’s within my power to give?
The end comes altogether too fast, my knot catching along his rim and stretching him wide around me, prompting his own climax as I begin to release inside him in thick pulses. He cries out and I sink my teeth into his neck, as deep as I can manage—there’ll be no doubt in anybody’s mind that I’ve claimed him as mine.
I feel his answering bite, the bond complete and snapping suddenly between us like a rubber band, heightening pleasure as the knot swells fully and locks us together.
I reach for a couple pillows, rocking us to the side so I can fit them beneath his head and hips for added comfort. I can’t have him atop me for long, but if the knot takes too long to go down, I’ll roll us over.
“Oh Will… Will… Will…” Hannibal moans weakly, spurting his release with each additional wave of pleasure. I rock my hips against his each time he clenches around me which sets him off again.
“So good… precious omega…” I praise him, only half teasing with the use of his secondary gender. But his cheeks pink again and I can’t help the goofy smile that steals across my face.
“You alright?” I ask him.
“I am comfortable… and surprisingly at peace.” He says.
“I had not thought that being… mated… would bring such immediate feelings of contentedness.”
I chuckle softly. “It’s mostly the endorphins, I think.”
I impulsively kiss him on the tip of his nose, and it’s worth it for the adorably startled look he gives me. “You’re all mine, Hannibal…all mine…”
“As you, in turn, are mine.”
Time passes in silence for a moment, marked only in the slow, lazy grind of our hips, interspersed with smaller, frequent climaxes.
“How much time do we have?” Hannibal asks after an indeterminate time has passed.
“Until the knot goes down or until Francis comes for us?” I ask.
Hannibal smirks. “Both, actually.”
“No idea, and another hour, maybe?” I answer. “I’ve never knotted an omega before.” I confess. “But alone, it usually goes down within a half hour.”
“I don’t suppose you know how long we’ve been tied together so far?”
“Getting tired of me already?” I tease.
“Of course not.” Hannibal counters, and if he were the type to do so, he probably would have rolled his eyes.
“I merely would not want The Dragon to catch us like this. It would…not be advantageous.”
“True. I don’t think it’ll be long now.” I say. And then an errant thought crosses my mind. “Imagine Jack finding us like this, though. Can you imagine the look on his face?”
Hannibal laughs softly, and I immediately decide I want to hear the sound always. “It would almost be worth getting shot, just to see it.” He jokes and I laugh in agreement.
“I meant what I said, though. He won’t have you, not now.”
“Darling Will… I would not see us parted again. I would raze the world thrice over if it meant keeping you with me.”
“Mm, I agree. But global warming is bad enough already, don’t you think?” I tease.
Hannibal sighs, and I snicker, tucking my face by his neck.
“We’re going to have to disinfect this…” I say, drawing back to look at the bite that’s sluggishly seeping blood. There is, however, already a sizable puddle forming beneath him that worries me.
“It’s fine. I will clean it, but I wish for it to scar as noticeably as possible.”
“That’s…that’s terrible, but a part of me really likes the idea.”
Hannibal’s smirk is teasing as he replies, “I know.”
Eventually the knot recedes and we rise, showering quickly and efficiently and somehow without distractions as we change into clean clothes. There is nothing I want to leave to chance, and more than one knife is stashed on my person, along with the gun tucked down the back of my pants. I know I can’t convince Hannibal to do the same, so instead I make sure that there are medical supplies immediately available. I know they’ll be needed.
Hannibal grabs a bottle of wine, two wine glasses, and pours us each one.
We share a private, secret smile as we wait for The Dragon.
What is it that Hannibal had said? Save yourself, kill them all? Gladly, if it means keeping him with me.
The Dragon lies dead on the patio, wings of blood spreading from his cooling body, and we need another shower. And stitches. Goddammit, Hannibal.
Really, I’m not surprised. I always knew this battle would likely be the most deadly we’d fight, if only because Hannibal insisted on playing by The Dragon’s rules. If it had been up to me, we’d have fought on terms far more tilted in our favor. I don’t care for a fair fight, especially not when the safety of my mate—I’m still not quite used to that, honestly—is concerned.
I can’t believe it. Sure, it’s been my intentions almost as soon as I realized Hannibal was an omega… not that I really was ready then to accept that with the clarity I can now. Hannibal is… engraved into my soul, and I can’t wait to share the good news.
Right now, though? Stitches.
“Will. I am more than capable-“
“No. Sit still and let me do this.”
“Need I remind you, I was a surgeon-“
“You’re doped up on painkillers, just sit still and let me do this. I promise I can suture neatly.”
“I highly doubt that-“
“Do you know how often I’ve had accidents fishing? Hooks in my hand, a razor-sharp knife slipping? I know how to suture. And I know how to do it neatly.”
“Still, I would prefer-“
“There you go. All done. See?”
“…they are not… terrible.”
“Gee, thanks, Hannibal. And with that ringing endorsement, let’s go to bed, I’ve got phone calls to make.”
“To whom, may I ask?”
“My lawyer.” I say, and take great pleasure at watching the gears turn in his mind, albeit a little slower than they usually do, given the painkillers.
“For… what purpose?” He asks after a moment.
“I have a divorce to file, mating certificate to acquire, and legal custody to arrange.”
Hannibal gives me a rather dopey and adoring smile that I’m tempted to record for posterity, but ultimately decide not to. “Ah, Darling Will… my alpha, my love…” Hannibal babbles, still making heart eyes in my direction.
I playfully throw him a kiss as I wait for my lawyer to pick up, grinning when he makes a show out of catching it and clutching it close to his heart. Drugged Hannibal is an adorable Hannibal. I make the mental note to get him drunk someday soon.
My lawyer is surprisingly compliant with my requests, even though I can hear his resignation over the phone. I don’t blame him, I’d probably feel the same. But, he is being paid very well to do as he is asked, and he promises that all the paperwork is in order and he’s on his way to collect our signatures.
It is as if fate herself has smiled upon us, as if either of us really believed in such a thing, because he had actually been out of town visiting family, and is conveniently close to where we are. Close enough that there’s a good chance he’ll beat Jack here.
Hannibal and I share a grin when I tell him.
My lawyer beats Jack. We sign the paperwork and then he uses Hannibal’s office to fax the paperwork to the courthouse, as well as scan the originals and email them to himself. It wouldn’t do to have original paperwork too near to an angry Jack. At least not without multiple failsafes.
He’s just about to leave when Jack kicks the front door down and the man startles violently, clutching his briefcase close. He’d been on edge all evening, darting wary glances at Hannibal as if he was going to lunge at him and eat his face at any moment. So Jack’s entrance is just the straw that broke the camel’s back in this case.
“Really, Jack. The door was unlocked.” I scold disapprovingly as he barrels through the door and into the bedroom. His face is a truly impressive shade of purple as he takes in the scene before him.
Hannibal and I are curled up in bed, both of us shirtless and covered up to the waist in bedsheets, and although we’re both wearing underwear, it’s not immediately apparent at first glance. We’re covered in bruises, although some are distinctly love bites. And although we’d wrapped it before the fight, Hannibal had insisted on leaving his mating bite uncovered for Jack’s viewing pleasure. Mine was as well, although it hadn’t gone quite as deep nor bled as profusely.
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” Jack roars and I just smirk, pressing a kiss to Hannibal’s hair.
“Do I really need to spell it out, Jack?” I ask calmly, if a little sarcastically.
“I THINK YOU DAMN WELL BETTER START EXPLAINING, GRAHAM.”
My lawyer is smart enough not to move or draw attention to himself.
“Well you see, when a cannibalistic serial killer and a former FBI agent love each other very much…” I start, and I hear Hannibal’s snicker against my chest.
“ENOUGH. YOU’RE BOTH UNDER ARREST!” He bellows, but I shake my head.
“Actually, no. We’re not.”
“You don’t actually have grounds to arrest us.”
“LIKE HELL I DON’T!”
“Oh good, so you agree.”
“Perhaps you should tell him, before dear Jack has an aneurysm.” Hannibal suggests, looking up at me sweetly. I can’t help myself and I press a—relatively chaste—kiss to his lips.
“Fine…” I agree. “We killed The Dragon in self-defense, I mated Hannibal, and called my lawyer to make it official. Not in that order, though.”
Jack chooses that moment to notice my lawyer and demand to know if what we’re saying is the truth. He nods and pulls out a copy of the papers we’d just signed, handing them over to Jack for his perusal.
We watch with amusement as his face grows more and more heated before he angrily tears the papers into shreds.
“ABSOLUTELY NOT.” He insists angrily.
“We’ve already faxed the paperwork to the courthouse, which as you know, is little more than a formality, since mutual mating bites are considered a legal form of common-law marriage. Hannibal, as my omega, is under my custody, and I take full responsibility for him from here on out.” And thank god for outdated, sexist laws that even allow this to be possible.
“Actually, I can. Since he hasn’t actually committed any crimes since I’ve mated with him, you don’t have any basis on which to arrest him.”
“AND WHAT ABOUT THE DEAD MAN ON THE PATIO OUTSIDE?”
“You know Francis videotaped it all.” I reply, my tone growing steadily more bored as Jack clutches at straws. “You can watch it all, I’m sure, how he clearly shot Hannibal first and then broke in and attacked us. We fought back and ultimately killed him. Given our injuries, it’s obvious why deadly force was necessary.”
Jack gapes like a fish, and insists that this isn’t over before storming out of the room. My lawyer doesn’t stick around any longer, either. In fact, he seems all too eager to leave as soon as possible. I can’t blame him, Jack is hard to deal with on a good day. He politely shuts the door behind him and not long after, we hear his car pull away from the driveway. We can also hear the forensic crew outside and I chuckle softly as I tug Hannibal closer to me.
“Dear boy, you were beautiful…” Hannibal marvels, leaning up to kiss me. I happily sink into the pillows as he leans over me and captures my mouth with his.
“You have… no idea… how satisfying that was…” I gasp between heated kisses, my hands carefully remaining where I know he isn’t injured. Really, he shouldn’t be suspended over me like this, but I can’t seem to manage to put a stop to it when his silken lips suck on mine and all rational thought leaves me.
“Fuck, Hannibal…” I gasp.
“Mmm, perhaps later. I would not wish to be interrupted by the bureau’s finest.”
“An excellent point, yes.” I agree, “We can’t stay here, either. It’s going to be swarming with them for a while, and while you might not mind it, a corpse on our front lawn isn’t quite the aesthetic I’m going for.”
Hannibal laughs softly, settling on his back as his side begins to pain him. “I believe I may require actual medical attention.” He muses.
“You think?” I ask dryly. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to drag you to the hospital against your will, so I’m glad you brought it up first.”
Hannibal lets out a very put-upon sigh. “I suppose I must.”
“Yes, I’d much prefer my gorgeous, beautiful, vicious, omega mate to be safely in one piece…” I whisper near his ear, kissing down his jaw. “I have so many things I’d like to do to you… but they’ll have to wait till you’re healed…”
Hannibal whined pitifully as I took his earlobe between my teeth and nibbled softly. “Please Will… alpha… don’t torture me so…”
“Mmm, do you really want me to stop? To move away, until we are no longer touching?” I tease, chuckling when he shakes his head desperately.
“That’s what I thought…” I grin. “Now, be a good omega and lay back and let me play with you. Don’t move, though…don’t want you pulling your stitches.”
“Will…” Hannibal whimpers as I trail a hand beneath the sheets and underneath the waistband of his silken underwear, taking him in hand and stroking softly.
“Will… they are still… Jack could return…” He panted softly.
“Would you like me to stop?” I ask, starting to withdraw my hand.
“No no, please, Will, no…” He begs and I smile, happy to give him exactly what he wants, and then some.
I suck on his neck, right over the mating bite, as I stroke him slowly. I want to make it last, and the sight of him coming apart beneath my hands is far too delicious to be able to resist. He is a force of nature, and he allows me to take him in hand… to cradle him where he’s most vulnerable and play his body with the same skill that he plays his harpsichord.
I can smell his slick as he gets wet and I abandon his erection to slide my hand back, behind his balls, to where he is dripping and still loose from my knot. The thought has me hardening again as I slip two fingers inside him.
Hannibal stutters out a gasp, a hand clamping down on my wrist as if I would dare move it away now. His hips buck up, and his legs spread invitingly. My wrist has pulled the waistband of his boxer briefs down just beneath his cock, now only covered by the thin sheet, and I can see the damp spot forming where he has begun to leak all over himself.
My eyes dart to the door, still closed, although not locked. A possessive growl builds in my chest at the thought of anyone walking in on us like this, but it doesn’t outweigh the desire to stay in bed and cause Hannibal to fall apart under my hands.
“You’re so wet for me…” I praise, kissing his cheek tenderly, and again when he blushes.
“Darling alpha… the things you do to me…” Hannibal keens
“Touch yourself for me.” I tell him, and he does, slipping the hand not gripping mine beneath the sheet and stroking himself slowly, clearly not wanting to rush this either. I can’t imagine ever tiring of seeing him like this, and I can’t wait until we’re properly alone and with all the time in the world. I want to take him apart, absolutely shatter him with pleasure, only to put him back together gently, delicately.
“Ohhh Will…” Hannibal moans, and I stroke inside him faster, curling my fingers to press against his sweet spot, my palm rubbing against his balls with each thrust of my fingers. I can tell he’s getting close, with the way that his breath begins to stutter and his hand speeds up.
“That’s it, love, come for me…” I encourage him, working my hand against him steadily, coaxing him towards the edge, towards the peak of his pleasure.
“Oh god, Will… oh darling…” He cries, tensing as his pleasure crests and he’s clenching down on my fingers, spilling all over his own.
“There you go… just let go, Hannibal.” I praise him, pressing kisses to his shoulder and collarbone as I sit up, bracing myself over him to be able to reach his lips better.
I smile into the kiss as he begins to whimper. I have yet to remove my hand, and while my movements are much slower and gentler, I smile with satisfaction at the way the overstimulation makes him shiver in my arms.
“Will…” He breathes, hand tensing around my wrist, but never does he ask me to stop, seemingly content to accept whatever I have to give him.
I wonder if I can bring him to another peak so soon after his last, but even as multiorgasmic as omegas tend to be, this would be what, number four? In about as many hours? Although perhaps more, since it’s difficult to tell when knotted whether it’s several small climaxes or one really long one.
I glance down at the dazed expression on Hannibal’s face, mouth slack and eyes glassy as his hips twitch with each additional pulse of pleasure.
“Would you like me to stop?” I whisper gently and he closes his eyes, shaking his head.
“It is… overwhelming in the best way.” He whispers back, shuddering when my fingers brush over his prostate.
I oblige, fingering him for a while longer, content to be welcomed in the hot clutch of his body, before I start being a little more deliberate with the brushes to his prostate.
Hannibal trembles, his limbs wracked with fine tremors before his muscles go taut, and I watch as his cock gives a feeble little spurt and he sinks against the mattress, clearly exhausted. I carefully extract my fingers and pull his underwear off the rest of the way. They’re already soiled, so I use them to wipe him off before tossing them off the side of the bed.
Hannibal is mostly asleep already, eyes fluttering shut, so I curl around him, hugging him to my chest in a way that won’t disturb his wounds. We won’t be able to sleep for long, we do have to get to a hospital at some point, but it’s not quite critical at the moment.
I’m not sure where we’ll go, or what we’ll do, but I know we’ll be together. Maybe it’s too trite a sentiment, but that makes it no less true. We’ll be together, come hell or high water, and more importantly, nothing can take him away from me, now. We’ll be careful, and the law won’t be able to touch us.
Maybe we’ll go to Italy and Hannibal can show me Florence the way he intended the first time. Maybe we’ll go back to the Lecter Estate and I’ll show him the dragonfly I made for him. Or maybe we’ll sail the world, or settle down in a villa by the sea.
There are endless possibilities available and I can’t imagine we’ll ever grow bored, one way or another. I never really saw myself settling down and mating an omega, never really thought that would appeal to me. But looking at my life now, curled around Hannibal Lecter, hearing his breathing and feeling his steady heartbeat beneath my palm… I can’t imagine anything different.
Maybe everything was always leading to this moment, I don’t know. I wish the road here hadn’t been as painful as it was, but given the outcome of it all… I think it was worth it. Because after everything, all the hurt and lies and betrayals, we’re together.
I’m his, and he is mine.