Actions

Work Header

Scar Tissue

Work Text:

 

“My dear Will, you must be healed by now... on the outside, at least.”

 

For the first week, Chilton and Will studiously avoid each other. Well, not so much “avoid” as Will aggressively ignores Chilton’s presence while the other man sulks in the guest room with his massive collection of books.

Chilton moves more slowly since his coma. He’s never far from his cane, either leaning on it heavily or unconsciously rubbing the tip with his fingers as he sits. He keeps his scarred cheek to the wall or in the shadows like the dramatic motherfucker he is. Will would call him on it… except he can’t look at his own naked reflection in anymore.

The invasion of his home doesn’t bother him as much as it should. Perhaps between throwing up an ear in his sink and Mason Verger feeding bits of face to his dogs, it stopped feeling like his haven and more like an extension of the red scar running lengthwise across his stomach. (After all, what’s a sulking physiatrist to a man in a bear suit crashing through his window?) But the walking reminder of Hannibal’s wounds bothers him. Chilton has his own scars, and Will can’t stand this reflection any more than his own. So he leaves every morning before dawn, fishing gear in the back of his car. Sometimes he actually goes fishing. More often than not he’ll sit in a parking lot somewhere, watching as people come and go with their own lives. Sometimes he goes to the woods. Other times, the bar. Anywhere except that house in Wolf Trapp, Virginia. He returns after sunset. The lights in the windows burn through the fog like accusing eyes that cannot forgive what they’ve seen. Will usually eats a quick dinner and then works on boat engines until his hands go numb.

Chilton reads and reads and reads. Once the FBI realized they had the wrong man (again), they returned what belongings remained, but Chilton woke from his coma to find all he had left was the money in his bank account (nothing to sneer at) and the personal belongs the FBI took into evidence. His house was foreclosed, his job was gone - another person already appointed. Apparently, he had no living family or friends, considering how much Chilton holes himself up in the guest room.

When he moved in, Chilton brought two boxes of clothes and ten boxes of books. Will can’t blame him for clinging onto the only bit of his past left to him, but the medical magazines left all over the house with snide comments written in the margins get irritating.

He cooks his own meals and Will cooks his. They eat separately. Neither of them likes anyone standing behind them.

Chilton sleeps with a nightlight. Will releases or gives Alana all the fish he catches to because the one time he tries to gut them he’s standing in Hannibal Lecter’s kitchen, holding his guts inside his stomach with his hands as Abigail bleeds out next to him. His attack only ends when Chilton walks into the kitchen, swearing loudly enough to snap Will back. They stare at each other, white-faced and shaking across the cheap kitchen tile with a half-gutted fish on the counter between them. For a moment Will thinks Chilton might vomit right here, but then Chilton turns on his heel and storms out, front door slamming behind him.

 

“I hope you are not too ugly.”

 

Six months and four surgeries later, Kade Purnell knocks on his door. She glances around, taking in the dogs and unwashed dishes cluttering up the shelves. She raises her eyebrow but says nothing.

Will raises his eyebrow right back, unapologetically gesturing to a chair covered with the most dog hair. Purnell’s lips tighten, but she sits, soothing her skirt against her knees. The gesture manages to appear challenging rather than uncomfortable.

“How goes the manhunt, Agent Purnell?”

Purnell’s eyes narrow. Will knows exactly how the manhunt is going.

“We are currently exploring other options.”

“You’ll never catch him,” Will says. “We had our shot. We missed it.”

“You missed it,” Purnell says. “We are trying to clean up your mess. Yours and Jack Crawford’s.”

The blow is low and hits him like a punch in the throat. Jack looks away, but catches the glint in Purnell's eye. She knows her blow landed.

“What do you want?”

Purnell leans close. “We’ve been following up on every tip like a wild goose chase, but it’s obvious we’ll never catch Hannibal Lector by ransacking the corners of Europe. The only way we’ll know where Hannibal Lecter is is if he comes to us. Can you think of one thing, perhaps the one thing, he might come back for?”

It’s not a question. It never was.

 

“What a collection of scars you have.”

 

When Chilton first sees the guest room, he sniffs distastefully and throws his bags onto the bed, hiding a wince as the movement strains his shredded abdominal muscles, courtesy of Abel Gideon. “Well, it could be worse.”

Will leans against the doorframe and angrily shoves his glasses up his nose. “It could have a half-eaten corpse in it.”

“It still might,” Chilton says sourly. “Depending on how this plan goes.”

Will huffs out a laugh, surprising himself.

And despite his supercilious commentary, Chilton doesn’t seem to use the bed much. Will hears him pacing upstairs late into the night. He can’t blame him. Even once you exclude the fact that Chilton’s woken up to disemboweled police officers (once) and in the intensive care unit (twice) and been drugged by serial killers (twice – on two separate occasions. Jesus.), the thought of being live bait doesn’t exactly lend itself to untroubled slumber.

Will doesn’t sleep much either. Hannibal Lecter may be across an ocean, but there are still parts of him left in his head and his voice is strongest at night, whispering in the corners of his mind as Will lies in the dark, biting down the responses that rise like bile in the back of his throat.

“Good,” Hannibal says smiling from his spot in the doorway, leaning further and further over the threshold. “Good, Will.”

On that particular night, fighting off his own echoing smile, Will hears a muffled shout from upstairs. He jerks from his bed, Hannibal disappearing like dark silk in the midnight stream, as a loud thud vibrates the windows in their frames. The dogs jump, a few startled into barking.

If Will had any concerns about what his actions would be in this moment, they disappear as he grabs the gun from his nightstand and runs up the stairs, taking them two at a time, a few of the braver dogs following close behind. He kicks open the bedroom door, sweeping the room with his gun with habits drilled into him long-ago at the police academy. The room’s empty except for Chilton, who’s on the floor tangled in the bed sheets. He’s panting heavily, and his eyes are glazed over, unseeing, with panic. There are tears on his face. Will steps forward automatically, but Chilton jerks away, back slamming into the wall.

“It’s 3:45 in the morning,” Will says, lowering his gun to the floor and raising his empty hands passively. Chilton blinks, eyes clearing. “You’re in Wolf Trap, Virginia. Your name is Frederick Chilton.”

“Doctor Frederick Chilton,” Chilton says, voice cracking. “I may have lost all my worldly possessions, my position, and my dignity, but I still have my title.”

Chilton breaths out harshly, rubbing his face with his hands. Winston creeps out from behind Will, trotting across the room to lie down against Chilton’s side. Chilton’s hand reaches out automatically, fingers digging into Winston’s fur as he grounds himself. Will looks away.

“I suppose it would be presumptuous to inquire if you have anything worth drinking stashed away?” Chilton asks, wiping at his cheeks.

They end up in the kitchen, drinking Will’s cheap whiskey from a flask. Will offers to get Chilton a glass, but Chilton makes a rude comment about drinking bottom-shelf liquor out of a water glass. Will ignores the remark, mostly because of how hard Chilton’s hands are shaking. He says nothing, sitting down across from him at the table. After a moment, Chilton offers Will the flask. Will, startled, reaches out and tentatively takes the gratitude that’s being offered via his own whiskey flask over the kitchen table.

The companionship is fragile but uninterrupted as they sit together, dogs curled at their feet, until the sun peaks in through the curtains.

“It would seem suspicious if two men, under the assumption of an intimate relationship, slept in different parts of the house,” Will says, gaze fixed firmly out his kitchen window – watching the sunrise through the trees. He feels Chilton’s disbelieving stare but refuses to meet it. “You should really sleep down here.”

There’s a heavy silence from across the table. From the corner of his eye, Will watches Chilton throw back what remains of the whiskey. “All right then. For appearance's sake.”

Will nods, his own feelings of nervous relief making it impossible for him to respond verbally.

 

“Never forget who gave you the best of them and be grateful.”

 

Will didn’t think Chilton would agree. But apparently by the time Purnell talked with Will he already had. Will asks Chilton why once, as he slices organic carrots for his pretentious vegan stir-fry. Chilton’s back tenses.

“Why not? I am going to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. At least this way I can do so surrounded by heavily armed officers of the law. I recall things not going well the last time I went against Hannibal Lecter solo.”

They eat together silently. Will doesn’t exactly remember when it became habitual for them to do so, but he doesn’t feel the need to bring it up.

“Besides,” Chilton says, halfway through the meal. “Where else would I go?” Chilton tries to smirk, but it’s feeble at best.

Before, in the hospital, Chilton’s style was carefully crafted to reflect professionalism and sophistication with sharp suits that often seemed to echo Hannibal Lecter’s wardrobe, a meticulously groomed haircut, and equally meticulous facial hair.

Will watched Chilton through the bars in his cell, in the dunk tank, and saw the expensive suits, the single ticket to the theater, the lonely dinners eaten in a too-large house that he probably spent too much money on, the desperate peacocking, the frantic need for approval that comes from a life of being told you will never amount to anything, and the too-loud arrogance of an intellectual who knows he has little else to offer the world.

Since the moment Will met him, Chilton was never able to hide anything, never able to manipulate Will into doing anything he didn’t see coming a mile away. Chilton wears his heart on his sleeve, his desires in his eyes, and his emotions on his face. Will understands, with newfound clarity, that he will never have anything to fear from Chilton – never have to worry about a hidden agenda or a delicate picking apart of Will’s psyche.

Chilton is a lot of things, but subtle isn’t among them.  

That’s one of the reasons he agreed to this. One of them.

(“You’re not a killer, Frederick.”)

Chilton dresses differently now. The silk ties and patterned suits (all confiscated and dissected for evidence) have been replaced with simple button-down shirts under dark sweaters and casual slacks that are, more often than not, covered in dog hair. The strategically applied smell of expensive cologne disappeared a while ago, allowing space for Chilton’s natural smell mixed with soap and the clinging scent of old books. 

It’s a far cry from Will’s plaid and jeans, but it feels less of an intense projection of someone Chilton’s trying to be.

He still wears that obnoxious ring. Apparently, that one was all him.

 

“Our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real.”

 

Chilton is an aggressive cleaner on his good days and a fucking hurricane on his worst. Will isn’t a slob, but his house has never been this spotless.

“Just because we live with a pack of dogs doesn’t mean we have to live like them,” Chilton says, managing to look condescending while running a vacuum cleaner.

Up until this point, Will stayed out of Chilton’s way, ignoring the clean carpets, mopped hardwood, scrubbed toilets, and sparkling windows the same way he ignored the other invasions of his space. But now he takes the dishes Chilton hands him and dries them with a clean white towel he doesn’t remember buying.

They typically work in long bouts of uncomfortable silence, but tonight Chilton asks a question. It’s a question Will knew was coming and dreaded its arrival. He’s thought about lying, about shrugging it off with a dismissively cutting response that would guarantee Chilton would never ask again.

“Why did you agree to this, Will?” Chilton does the same unsubtle blink-and-stare he did in the hospital that made Will torn between wanting to laugh in his face or strangle him. Now it makes something twist in Will’s chest, something familiar and new that has Will clenching his jaw.

When he answers, he tells the truth.

“If Hannibal wanted me dead he would’ve killed me. Instead, he left me bleeding and eviscerated on his kitchen floor while everyone I loved was dying around me.” Will puts down the plate, pressing his palms against the counter. “He wanted to ruin me, to take everything from me, because if he couldn’t have me…” Will trails off, grabbing a glass from Chilton’s hands and hurling it against the wall. It shatters in a burst of glass. The dogs scatter and Chilton jumps back, watching him warily.

“I’m not his to break,” Will says quietly.

There’s a long moment of silence.

“Well,” Chilton says, turning back to the sink. “Be that as it may, that is your mess to sweep up.”

“Oh,” Will says, shifting awkwardly. “Do I have a broom?”

Chilton rolls his eyes.

 

“We live in a primitive time, don't we, Will?”

 

Will takes the couch at first. Chilton has his abdominal pain and Will has his insomnia. Sometimes, after Chilton’s fallen asleep, Will watches him. He finds himself syncing his breathing to Chilton’s, taking in his relaxed face, lines smoothed in sleep, and twitching fingers. His eyes feel heavy. He sleeps better with another person in the room. The other presence seems to push back the whispers and the unwanted invasions of certain memories.

Spring comes with summer hot on its heels and there’s still no sign of Hannibal Lecter. The days turn hot and muggy and the nights offer no relief. In the middle of June, the air conditioner coughs out a rattling groan that causes Chilton and Will to exchange perturbed looks over their respective books and engine parts.

“You know…” Chilton drawls, somehow managing to loom sarcastically as Will tinkers with the AC unit. “There are these people called professionals. I believe we can find their names and numbers in the phonebook you insist on keeping over the internet in this godforsaken shack.”

Will grits his teeth. “I can fix it.”

“You’re very territorial for someone who spends barely any time in his own house," Chilton says, eyes sweeping over Will probingly.

Just for that, Will takes three days to repair the unit. Chilton doesn’t say a word. Just sits on the porch in a white t-shirt, hair fluttering in the summer breeze, forearms flexing as he files his nails into perfectly manicured half-moon points. On the third night, Chilton sleeps on top of the sheets in nothing more than a thin undershirt and his briefs. Will lies awake most of the night watching the sweat trickling down Chilton’s collarbone. In the morning, Chilton’s shirt is nearly transparent – so much so that Will can almost see his nipples through the soft cotton. He slams his newspaper down and storms into the basement. When Will emerges an hour later, the air conditioner sputtering to life behind him, Chilton shoots Will a significant look over his coffee, but otherwise says nothing.

Will should have known better. In the hospital, Chilton always knew which ethically-questionable tactics to use to get exactly what he wanted.

That night, Will watches Chilton’s chest rise and fall with steady breathes, feeling his own breathing start to automatically fall in sync. He gets lost in the pattern until it changes minutely. Will shakes out of himself, blinking rapidly. When he refocuses, his eyes look towards the bed and lock onto Chilton’s, which are open and reflecting the soft glare of the nightlight from the corner. Will’s breath hitches. Neither of them speaks. Slowly, deliberately, Chilton shifts over, opening up the side of the bed closest to Will. Will swallows hard, pausing for a few long seconds before standing and walking over to the bed.

He lowers himself to the mattress, watching Chilton watch him. Will knows if one of them makes a sound, a cough, a whisper, the moment will be broken. Will would go back to his couch, Chilton would close his eyes, and they would wake in the morning and pretend this never happened. But no such sounds are uttered. He and Chilton watch each other, nakedly observant, until slowly Chilton’s eyes slide shut and his breathing deepens once again. With Chilton’s breath gusting gently across his face, Will feels his body unwind, relaxing into the bed. They sleep that way, facing each other all night.

They share the bed every night after that. It’s an unspoken agreement that Chilton goes to bed first, watching Will tinker with his boat engines until he drifts off. Will joins him soon after. Sometimes it’s obvious that Chilton’s still awake, but neither of them says anything. Even when, as fall arrives and the nights have a cold sharpness to them, Chilton presses close. And maybe Will allows it because Chilton says nothing when Will wakes gasping from his night terrors, pretending to sleep through them even when Will’s drenched in sweat and shaking so hard he can barely pick his glasses off the nightstand.

Maybe that’s why, but probably not.

But whatever it is, Will always leaves with his fishing gear before Chilton wakes up.

 

“Neither savage nor wise.”

 

After Purnell lays out her offer, drop all charges in exchange for being her own private piece of cannibal catnip, Will visits the one person left to him.

Alana’s pale and thin, still getting used to the wheelchair. She looks tired, her broken back and Hannibal’s violation stole some her radiance, but she’s slowly learning to fight for it back (“With the help of a small army of therapists specializing in PTSD,” she admits). The old Alana, the one Will loved so desperately, is gone, but her core is still there, running on a different source of energy. Will admires her for that. For getting drawn in close enough to burn and for rising from her own ashes.

“What does the Ches- Hannibal do to his victims, Will?” Alana asks. Will’s sitting in the living room of her new, studio apartment. She couldn’t stay in her old house, she confessed. Everything about her old life felt contaminated. And she feels safer being about to see the entire layout of her house.

Will thinks, scratching at his month old facial hair. “He consumes them. He removes their flesh, purifying it by absorbing it into his own.”

Alana’s lips tremble, but she nods. “And what does Hannibal do to those he lets live? How does he leave his survivors?”

The wheelchair Alana sits fills the empty space between them with its screams.  

“He ruins them,” Will whispers. “Make them unfit to live any sort of public life with emotional connections or attachments.”

“Will,” Alana says, eyes bright and wet. “What did Hannibal do to us?”

Will is silent for a long time. “I don’t know.” It’s a lie and Alana knows it.

“He left us. He thinks he consumed everything that made us who we are and he thinks he left us ruined in the wake of his wreckage,” Alana says, voice fierce. “Show him that isn’t true. Show him that you’ve moved on, that you’re happy, that he didn’t leave you a living shell. Shove it in his face that he never owned you and what do you think will happen?”

Will says nothing. He stares at the wooden floors that already bare marks from the wheels that will carry Alana’s weight for the rest of her life.

“It’s a good plan, Will. You got too close to Hannibal. We both did. But so did he. Maybe more than he knows. And maybe you can use that mistake against him.”

 

“Half measures of the curse of it.”

 

Chilton and Will go to physical therapy together in Baltimore. Not just so Freddie Lounds can capture more pictures of them out in the world together or that it’s convenient, but because they both get an unmarked police escort in case Hannibal decides to suddenly appear on a crowded city street and do god knows what. They have different therapists and are often on separate sides of the room, but it helps Will, when he’s being gently and encouragingly pushed to tears, to know that Chilton’s facing a similar form of punishment (therapy) across the gym.

One day, Will glances over and immediately knows something’s wrong. Chilton’s therapist has got him on his back and is obviously encouraging Chilton for just ten more (“Ten more, Frederick, come on”) sit up repetitions. Chilton’s obviously in pain (that much is normal), but his body language is pulsing out frantic signals of distress and panic with every movement. The therapist is hovering close behind Chilton, nearly caging him in with his arms. Will sees Hannibal pining Chilton against him, forcing him down and muffling his shouts with a Coliform soaked rag, whispering tenderly in his ear. Without thinking, Will makes an aborted move towards them. Chilton immediately notices and freezes him in place with a piercing look. Chilton clenches his jaw and forces his body to relax, sweat trickling into his eyes as he gives the therapist ten more.

Will doesn’t look over for the rest of the day, but he feels Chilton’s presence the same way he feels the metal of Alana’s chair against his hands.

In the locker room, Will waits longer than he normally would to strip off his clothes and step into the shower. Usually, he emerges when he hears Chilton turn on his own shower, but this time he waits, wraps a towel around his waist, takes a steadying breath, and pushes aside the curtain.

Chilton’s there, already dressed and gathering his bag, hair wet and curling at the nape of his neck. He turns instinctively towards the sound of Will emerging from the shower. His eyes widen, zeroing in at long, red scar that travels lengthwise across Will’s stomach, the jerky, twisted lines of a wound that was meant to hurt and leave a raised jagged mark forever visible against pale skin. Will forces himself to stand, bare and wet in the steam, as Chilton takes him in.

Finally, Chilton looks up and meets Will’s eyes. There’s an energy, charged and pulsing like a heartbeat. It stretches between them, tight and straining, until Chilton licks his lips nervously and looks away.

 

“A rational society would either kill me or put me to some use.”

 

“Dr. Chilton, could you put your hand on Mr. Graham’s thigh?” Freddie Lounds shouts from 300 yards away.

Chilton and Will tense as Freddie fiddles with her long-distance lens. They are sitting on Will’s steps pressed together along the shoulder, hip, and thigh. Freddie is snapping shots from behind the trees to add an air of authenticity to her candid “TORMENTED CANNIBAL SURVIVORS FIND SOLACE IN EACH OTHER?!” photo for the Tattler.

Carefully telegraphing his movements, Chilton delicately places his hand on Will’s knee. His hand is huge, almost completely covering Will’s lower thigh. His fingers are long and his palm is so warm that Will feels it seeping through his jeans and into his skin. It’s the first time anyone’s touched him since the clinical examinations from the medical doctors. The first time anyone touched him intimately since… Will focuses on his breath, trying not to flinch away. Against him, Chilton’s fingers tap out a nervous rhythm on his kneecap.

“Try not to look completely disgusted by me, Mr. Graham,” Chilton mutters. “We are, after all, tragically in love.”  Chilton cuts Will a sideways look, tilting his head mockingly. Will scoffs and, finally, relaxes.

It’s that moment that Freddie captures. Chilton tilted towards Will with a teasing glance; Will relaxed under Chilton’s touch, his lips twitching upwards with a hint of a smile.

 

“Do you dream much, Will?”

 

One night Will comes home to find Chilton on the porch with his dogs, whiskey bottle dangling from his fingers. It’s not empty, but it’s certainly not full.

Will puts down his fishing gear and sits next to Chilton on the steps. They sit in comfortable silence for a while. Chilton’s looking up at the night sky, stars shining brightly through the clouds.

“I’m thinking of writing a book. A Psychological Profile of Hannibal the Cannibal.”

“Yeah?” Will asks, glancing along the tree line. He marvels at the fact that despite everything that’s happened in sight of these trees he’s starting to feel safe here. The trees may be ominous, hiding danger in their depths, but this is his home. He wonders how long it will continue to feel like that. What else Hannibal has waiting for him. “Why’s that?”

“I want to tell the world that Hannibal was impotent and that eating his victims was the only way he could find sexual gratification,” Chilton says casually. Will laughs loudly, the sound rough and unfamiliar in his throat.

“I want to describe his pretentious musical taste and horrible wine selection and call his cooking mediocre at best.” Chilton takes a long drink from the bottle. Will watches his throat work as he swallows. “I think it would make Oprah’s Bookclub. At least the New York Times Best Seller list.”

Will ducks his head, trying to smother a grin. “And what would you be hoping to accomplish exactly?”

“We are supposed to be tempting him out of hiding, are we not? What better way to paint large targets on our back than by going on a book tour?” Chilton looks, side-eyed, at Will, offering up the bottle. “Besides I’m trapped in a loveless, sexless relationship for the foreseeable future. I have little else to occupy my time.”

Will takes the bottle. Rolls it between his hands. “It doesn’t have to be.”

“Doesn’t it?” Chilton says, challenging.

Will kisses him. He’s good at this, out of practice, but good. Chilton makes a low, pleased sound in his throat and kisses him back. Chilton’s lips are warm and soft, opening eagerly against Will’s. Chilton starts to card his hands through Will’s hair, but quickly shifts his hand to grip Will’s shoulder when he feels Will flinch. Will grunts gratefully, and slides his tongue into Chilton’s mouth. Will takes his time exploring Chilton’s mouth, savoring the feel of Chilton’s tongue against his own and the way Chilton responds so easily to Will’s lead. He feels Chilton’s other hand land on his thigh and move purposefully upwards, telegraphing his intent in case Will wants to stop him.

Will pulls back, gasping as Chilton’s fingers brush against his cock. Chilton mumbles something encouraging, bending his head to suck at Will’s pulse point. Will’s dick jerks painfully when Chilton’s hand slips into his jeans, palming him gently.

“Come inside,” Will says, aware of the steps that are digging into his spine. “Come inside with me.”

Chilton nods, breathing heavily against Will’s neck.

They make it to the bed, fumbling and clumsy. Chilton leans his weight against Will, cane forgotten on the porch. Will obviously doesn’t mind considering how desperately he’s clutching Chilton to him. The dogs take one look at them and flee, a few slinking upstairs, as they fall onto the bed mindful of each other’s wounds – wounds both physical and not. Chilton keeps his hands away from Will’s stomach and Will avoids making Chilton feel like he’s caged in underneath him.

They’re both fully clothed, but Will can feel Clinton everywhere he’s pressed against his body: chest to chest, one strong thigh between his own, stubble scraping against his cheek. The point where his erection pushes into Will’s hip burns hot like a brand. This is mine. I choose this.

Chilton tenses as Will untucks his shirt, but Will shushes him, running his hands down Chilton’s sides to avoid the long scar he knows is hidden beneath Chilton’s shirt. His hands continue down, fumbling briefly with Chilton’s belt before opening his zipper with ease.

Chilton’s cock is long and slender. He’s already leaking at the tip. Will glances up; Chilton watches him, eyes dark and hooded.

Will leans down. “I haven’t done this in a while,” he warns before taking Chilton’s cock into his mouth.

Chilton’s hips buck up involuntarily, making Will gag.

“Sorry,” Chilton hisses out, back arching as his hands reach up to clutch at the headboard. “Sorry, just please don’t stop.”

Will tongues gently at his slit in response. Chilton groans. The first few sucks feel awkward and unsure, but Will shuts his eyes tight and focuses the sounds Chilton making above him. He loses himself in the other man’s gasps and whimpers and falls into a familiar rhythm. It doesn’t take long until Chilton’s shaking underneath him.

“Will,” he warns, voice cracking.

Will hums and hollows his checks, sucking hard. Chilton comes in Will’s mouth with a loud yelp before collapsing back against the bed, boneless and shaking. Will sits up, wiping at his mouth.

“Will…” Chilton says again, somewhere between pleading and stunned. Will leans up, crawling up Chilton until he can capture Chilton’s lips with his own. Their second kiss is hard and desperate. Chilton’s nails dig into Will’s hips and, in one deliberate move, grinds up. Will gasps. His eyes shoot open at the sensation, locking onto Chilton’s mouth – red, wet, and wrecked – and he comes in his pants.

They lie together afterwards, stripped to their undershirts – pressed together along their sides.

“Thank you,” Will says.

Chilton turns to stare, incredulous. “Seriously?”

“Not for -,” Will breaks off exasperated. “I meant … for believing me.”

“It was hard not to,” Chilton says, arrogant tone the equivalent of awkward shifting.

“And yet,” Will says quietly. “You were the only one that did.”

 

“I think of you often.”

 

Will wakes briefly at dawn. The dogs stir out of habit, long since attuned to Will’s sleeping schedule. Winston's tail wags, thumping against the floor where he’s lying next to Will’s fishing gear with his face on his paws. Turning, Will watches the pale light creep through the curtains, across the room towards the sleeping man next to him. Chilton’s face is smooth under his day-old stubble and peaceful. He sleeps with his lips slightly parted and a hand curled over his chest. His eyes lashes are dark against his skin, impossibly long, and his dark hair stands out against Will’s pale pillows. 

Slowly, without thought or conflict, Will closes his eyes and drifts back into an easy sleep.

The next time he wakes, he’s pressed against Chilton’s chest, the firm thud of his heart beating under his cheek. Will takes a moment to enjoy the stubborn rise and fall of Chilton’s chest before speaking.

“I know you’re awake, Frederick.”

There’s a pregnant pause before Chilton shifts under him, hand coming up to gently press against the small of Will’s back.

I,” Chilton says. “Was politely giving you the opportunity to sneak off to your river to drown yourself in self-loathing and denial. Should you wish to.”

Will pushes himself up onto his elbow; Chilton’s eyes slit open, watching him thoughtfully.

“And what do you want?” Will asks.

Chilton closes his eyes and sighs. “Oh, just the lifted weight of a severely emotionally crippling fear, the esteem and admiration of my colleges, and the last two years of my life back.”

His eyes open. There’s a playful glint to them. “I’d settle for fucking you, if possible.”

Will sits up and Chilton’s eyes track him as he slowly strips off his shirt. Chilton’s hand settles tentatively on Will’s naked hip, thumb rubbing circles there, at the place where his scar starts. Goosebumps ripple up his spine and Will leans into the touch.  

“Can I?” Will asks, touching the hem of Chilton’s shirt. For a quick moment, Will’s sure Chilton’s going to refuse, but then he nods in a quick, jerky gesture – like someone ripping off a band-aid. Will pauses then straddles Chilton in one quick movement. Chilton inhales sharply as his erection presses against the curve of Will’s ass. Only then does Will pull Chilton’s shirt over his head.

The scar on his chest runs vertically, the opposite of Will’s. The line is clean and straight, showcasing the skill and tenderness of the man who ripped Chilton’s organs out from his stomach one by one. The flesh surrounding the area is a mess of scar tissue. There must have been a point, Will sees, that Gideon lost interest in psychological torture and began carving into him like a butcher.  

Chilton’s eyes are shut tight. Will doesn’t say anything, knowing very well that anything he has to say would be unwelcome. Instead, Will leans over, pulling open the bedside table and removing the barely used bottle of lube he keeps there.  He drops the bottle onto the bed next to Chilton.

“I don’t have condoms,” Will says. Chilton opens his eyes. Will gives him an embarrassed shrug. “I don’t do this very much.”

“Considering how much time we’ve spent in medical treatment, I assure you that any diseases would have been noted and attended to,” Chilton says, picking up the bottle.

He cups the back of Will’s neck until Will leans down far enough that they can kiss. Their lips brush softly at first – tender until Will grinds his ass against Chilton’s erection and the kiss turns furious. Will fists Chilton’s hair, yanking his head back to deepen the kiss. His cock hardens as Chilton’s mouth, hot and slick, opens for him. Chilton bites Will’s lower lip, licking at the corner of his mouth. Their tongues slide against each other, fighting for dominance until Chilton palms Will’s ass, a wet finger probing the ring of muscle there. Will groans, hiding his face in the crook of Chilton’s neck. One finger presses in slowly and Will’s groan turns into a whine.

“You're so...” Chilton trails off, barely more than a whisper. He slips another finger in, stretching Will open.

Will winces against the sensation. Chilton pauses and slides his other hand down Will’s spine before reaching down and closing it around Will’s cock. He strokes him roughly, tightening his grip on the upward stroke until Will's desperate, thrusting back against Chilton’s fingers and then forward into the large, warm palm wrapped around his dick. By the time Chilton adds a third finger, Will’s leaking at the tip and aching.

“Now,” Will pleads, waiting for Chilton to pull his fingers free before Will shoves him down against the mattress.

Will takes the lube from where it’s fallen on the bed, and slicks Chilton up with one hand. Chilton’s eyes flutter as Will strokes him, hands clawing at Will’s thighs as he guides Chilton inside him. It’s a tight fit, bigger than a pair of fingers, but Will bites his lip and slowly eases down until Chilton’s buried to the hilt. Only then does he pause for breath, shifting as he tries to find a comfortable position. Throughout the whole process, Chilton holds himself impossible still. He looks absolutely wrecked underneath him – pupils blown, hair a mess, chest heaving.

Will takes a deep breath, forces himself to relax, and tentatively rolls his hips.

“Fucking Christ,” Chilton gasps, throwing his head back.

Will moves again. And again. Until he finds his rhythm and Chilton’s writhing underneath him. Will leans forward, bracing his hands against the wall. The shift in posture causes Chilton to brush up against something inside him that has his eyes rolling into the back of his head. He rides Chilton like that, legs straddling Chilton’s hips, Chilton’s hands clutching at his thighs, bed smacking the wall with the force of their trusts, cock filling him up until he shakes apart, splattering his come all over Chilton’s chest.

Will slumps, still trying to catch his breath when Chilton pushes at Will, pulling out and leaving Will feeling oddly empty until Chilton pins him to the bed, shoving his legs apart, and thrusts back in. Will wraps his legs around Chilton’s hips, clutching at his back as Chilton grabs Will’s ass, tilting him upward so he can angle his thrust deeper.

“Yeah,” Will gasps out, boneless. He grabs Chilton’s chin, yanking him down for a sloppy kiss. Chilton licks into Will’s mouth and thrusts, hard and deep, before coming inside him.

Later that day, Will takes Chilton to the river and tries to teach how to fish. Chilton calls the waterproof pants, “the ugliest things I’ve ever seen,” and bitches about how cold the water is. He bristles when he can’t get the casting down, but settles when Will stands next to him guiding his movements.

It’s awkward and perfect. And the picture of them standing so close, one of Will’s hands on Chilton’s hip, the other on his arm, runs in the next online exclusive of the Tattler. Will reads it on Purnell’s tablet under her calculating stare, surprised at the familiar hatred of Freddie Lounds rising in his chest.

Chilton says nothing, which, in itself, speaks volumes.

 

“Your old friend, Hannibal Lector.”

 

It’s the picture that does it. A month later Hannibal Lecter is caught leaving the BWI airport. A facial recognition program follows him into a car rental site and the first time he stops for gas half the officers of Baltimore PD, as well as heavily armed FBI agents, rush him. After everything… It’s that easy.

Zeller later tells Will that Beverly designed the template for the program.

Purnell’s the one who breaks the news. She congratulates him on a “convincing performance.”

Will sits stunned. A numbness takes over his body, and Will feels outside himself. He hears Purnell ask a question, but it’s Chilton’s voice that calls him back.

“What are you doing?”

Chilton doesn’t look at Will as he pockets his phone. “The current administration of BSHCI owes me a few favors.  I want the renowned Dr. Lecter to consume nothing but hot pockets for a week.”

Will practically runs out of his house once Purnell drives away. He gets in his car and unaware of the world around him until he’s knocking on Alana’s door.

 “Are you planning on visiting him?” Alana asks.

 “Are you?”

Alana shakes her head. “No.”

“A part of me wants to,” Will admits. His vision blurs and he wipes at his eyes. “I’m afraid, Alana.”

Alana reaches out to him. Her hand is so small in his, cold and delicate. Will can’t help comparing it to a large, warm palm with long fingers. “Will? I’m going to give you a piece of advice I wish I’d listened to… Stay away from Hannibal Lecter.”

Chilton’s waiting for Will on the steps when he returns. “My belongings are packed. I would appreciate a few days grace to find myself suitable accommodations.”

Will shoves his hands in his pockets, breath fogging in the cold night air.

“If that’s what you want.”

Chilton swallows so hard Will can hear this click in his throat. “I am – extremely grateful – ”

“Stay.” Will interrupts.

“I – what?”

“Despite myself, I’ve gotten… used to the company. Your company.  Specifically.” Will glances up over the rims of his glass. Chilton’s watching him, eyes bright and intense. “You’re not so bad, Frederick.”

Chilton looks away quickly, clearing his throat.

“Well,” Chilton says, voice rough. “Who could turn down such a rousing display of affection?”

Will smiles, small and quiet. “Especially now that you’ve loosened up.”

Chilton stands. He approaches Will. Will forces himself to maintain eye contact and finds, to his surprise, that it isn’t difficult. When Chilton kisses him, soft and gentle against this frail thing they’ve created together, Will keeps his eyes open. Sees.