She was a mother.
Will kneels beside her, his hands pressing with utmost tenderness to her soft cheek. Her lashes, long, sit at half-mast across her dark eye, which stares not at him, but through him, accusation gone before it had time to reflect. Her other eye is blown to pieces, the bullet that felled her ricocheting in her skull until he thinks, as he cups her chin, he can still feel it vibrating.
He breathes out, settles on his knees beside her, and softly traces widespread fingertips down, to the sharp angle of her jaw, the tender give of her throat. Her neck, long and regal, her hair brushing against his knuckles as he turns them, curls them.
He leans down over her, closes his eyes, and kisses her where the bullet entered. He shudders, shoulders tight and tense, his knees sunk into soft mud, torn to shreds beneath her as she'd seen him, tried to turn, tried to balk and flee. Too late – his aim is true, it always has been, and not even the sight of her trembling-kneed faun would have saved her.
He tilts his head, breathes out, cups her cheek and lifts her heavy head again until he can kiss the soft, downy edge of her mouth. Pushes, with his thumb, to bare her slick innards. His tongue reaches, seeking, curling around the tips of teeth. He parts her jaws, licks along her gum, tastes grass and river water and nuzzles the sleek, soft corner of her mouth, sets his tongue between her teeth and presses until it stings.
He pulls back, eyes lifting to be sure he's alone. Of course he is – even predators run from a gunshot, and there's been little blood shed so far. He cups her skull and lays her down to rest, closes her good eye and pets down her neck, until he reaches the strong arch of her shoulders. She is on her side, limbs akimbo, mid-flight. He rakes his nails through her hair and between her collarbones, slides down her chest, to where she's heavy.
He closes his eyes, sighing deeply, and presses on a teat until it beads with sweet, clear milk. He presses closer to her, leans down and sucks at his fingers, breathes in the lingering scent of moss and children, presses his aching, stinging tongue to her, leg pushed back to give him room. He sucks, once, her forelegs twitching in an aftershock of sensation, and Will pulls back and wipes a hand over his mouth.
He shudders, teeth aching, and pulls his knife out from his belt. Digs it into her belly and slices cleanly through, careful to avoid ruining organs, ruining the meat. Her flesh is warm, so warm on his cold hands, and he slides his fingers through the slit he made, testing this new opening, finds it soft, yielding, aching for him to be inside her.
Unbidden, he remembers his own aching slit, pictures large, strong hands sinking into him, and closes his eyes, shaking the thought away.
Trembling, he reaches in and carves out her heart. The muscle is strong, clinging stubbornly by tendons and muscle, and he pulls it free with a grunt, jaws parted as he admires the sheen of red, the mottling of white and black-blue veins as he absently brushes his thumb down the seal in the middle.
He pushes, blinking slow, growling as he feels the tense, strong muscle part at the very base, his thumb sinking in through warm, glistening organ, until he feels the heartstrings catch on his nail. He whimpers, flushing deeply, and digs his nails into the seal, tugs it with his bare hands until it opens for him, spilling a puddle of fresh blood over his hands and knees. The aorta flexes and curls like a dead worm, and he can't stop himself leaning down over it, pressing the halves to her flank, and lapping at the trickle of cooling blood as it drips. He sucks it from her hair, drags his tongue along the slit in her belly and moans, weakly, quietly, at the taste.
Her heart is soft, on the inside, in the atria, and he hooks his finger through the bottom of the aorta, parts it around his finger, feels the slick give of it on the inside and can't help thinking it feels alive, so tight, so tense around him.
"Shh," he whispers, coaxing her open for him. "That's it, good girl. Let me in."
It splits when he tries to force a second in, and he laughs in delight, leans down and sucks his fingers clean, his nose to her neck. He cradles her heart to his stomach, groaning as, unbidden, unwarranted, or perhaps too shy to acknowledge, he lowers his hand and presses, presses hard.
A strike of heat floods him and he snarls, rolling to his knees, shoulders hunched up like some winged beast about to take flight. He kisses her again, drags his tongue along her teeth, up, tilts her head and tongues at her ruined eye, tasting burned flesh and split pupil. It is a taste both of copper and iron, nickel and gasoline. Ruined, she's ruined here.
Will clutches her tender, flattened ear, whimpers, and rolls his hips so his erection ruts into the cup of her heart. His thumb drags in, to the soft bristling of hair at the base of her ear, and he groans at the give of it, pushes in with two fingers until he feels thick, warm tension, the brace of her eardrum.
He pushes, feels it burst, feels it give, crushes the tender bones behind it with a whimper, and pulls his fingers back bloody. He sucks them down with another growl, not even tasting it amidst what already coats his tongue, and his cock twitches in his jeans, pressing insistently against the soft give of her heart, cradled in his hand.
He pulls his fingers free, sets her heart down on his knees and unfastens his jeans quickly, panting, searching the area to make sure he's still alone. He hears nothing, sees nothing, not even birdsong. He tugs his jeans down just enough to free his cock from his underwear, and from his pocket he fishes out a condom, tearing it open with his teeth.
He wraps it over his cock, groaning at the feel of slick latex clinging to him, and then takes her heart in both hands and wraps the halves around his erection. She's still warm, clings to him like a virgin girl, and he closes his eyes and tips his head back with a snarl, working the heart over the head of his cock, forcing it through the torn aorta, tearing the heartstrings. He sags, moaning weakly, and plants a hand inside of her, finds the sharp jut of a rib and curls his fingers in it, tugging until the carcass moves. Towards him, she's just as eager for it as he is.
"Good girl," he snarls, bowing over her and sinking his teeth into her neck. Imagines warm, soft flesh beneath him. Shoulders, strong and rolling. A mouth, plush and soft as sin. Dark eyes, just like hers, near-black in the soft dusk-light. The magic hour, where monsters prowl.
He fucks through her heart, gritting his teeth as the pressure of his hand makes the organ shred and dissolve against him, unstoppable force meeting yielding flesh. She's not strong, not strong like – like.
Her hair is soft on his cheek, and Will closes his eyes, imagines him breathing in. A hand in his hair, weight at his back. He wouldn't let Will feel shame. Does he even know what that feels like. No, don't think about him, don't, don't -.
He whimpers, dips his hand and tears at flesh, organs, ruining the meat, the meat is ruined, he doesn't care. He gathers slick intestines and wraps his fist in them, touching himself as the heart finally gives, beyond use. The condom dulls the heat, dulls the softness and the slick, and it's not enough.
With another helpless growl, he tears the thing off, moans with rapture as he cups her heart around him and drives into it, ruts through the sharp sting of the strings, the hard jut of cartilage. Imagines it's a hand, his hand, knuckles and nails. He works his hand free of the intestines and crawls to her mouth, parts her teeth and lifts her head so he can settle her bite across his throat.
He comes like that, lashes fluttering, filling the heart like an offering of sacrament. He shudders, pulling her mouth from him with one last, soft kiss, and looks down at the heart in his hands, full now of milky-white. Purity, he thinks. Sin.
Revel in both.
He raises the heart to his mouth, parts his jaws and bites, tastes cooled meat, salty seasoning. A primal glaze of terrible, terrible want, and he eats, and eats, tender flesh yielding to his teeth until there is nothing left but the unchewable cartilage surrounding the pulmonaries.
He drops it to his lap, breathing hard, eyes closed. Then, carefully, he slides between her legs again and pushes it, with utmost tenderness, back into the torn-open cavity. Slides his dirty, disgusting hands through the wreckage he wrought, and bows his head with a sob, ear to her shoulder. His mouth is slick, saliva dripping from his parted jaws, rejecting what he himself has laid claim to. Hunting isn't the same, not without him.
He gathers the condom, sheds his ruined clothes, and washes his hands, his cock, his face from his water bottle. Dons the new ones he brought that look exactly the same, and drags her to a barren patch of grass. Pours lighter fluid over her corpse and sets it aflame along with his clothes, burning away the shame. Wonders, absently, if there's some metaphor to be found in that, or if it's as glaringly obvious as the blood in his teeth.
He washes his mouth, and swallows it, not wanting to part from a single piece. Where he killed her, what remains is blood and feathers, and he kneels down, takes one and lifts it to the light. It is long, and black, nightshade and murders of crows. He's not quite sure it's real, but he presses it to his lips, breathes in, and gathers his things.
She's a mother. She's sweet, and beautiful, and kind, and greets him with a smile as Will comes home, embracing him tightly after he unshoulders his gun and unloads the remaining bullets.
"No luck?" she asks, and their wedding rings click together as she takes his hand.
He sighs, shaking his head, and runs a hand through his hair. "They're getting smarter," he says. Fakes the charming smile, fakes the shrug. Wonders if her heart would be strong enough to take him. He turns to her, embraces her, and kisses her hair.
She hums, her lids dropping low, and pets down his flanks. "Wally's still at school," she whispers, that seductive lilt and tilt of her head obvious after his previous lover's lack of responsiveness. He would never do such a thing. He would wait, for Will to come to him, let him stalk and savor the hunt, and claw when Will showed his teeth.
"Molly," he murmurs, half-scolding. She grins at him, gives a flutter of lashes. "I stink, I've been out all day."
"We have showers for a reason, baby," she replies. Will's brows rise, and he swallows, and follows her to their en suite. Undresses her, and fucks her quick and clean beneath the warm spray. Touches her until she shivers and moans, makes her come with her nails in his back, and mounts her, breeds her dirty, and cleans up the mess that still lingers with his tongue.
"You just came here to have a look at me."
Will stares, lips parted, tongue wetting his lower lip. He steps forward, fingers curling at his sides, shivering at the look he receives.
"Came to get the old scent again."
He breathes in as if commanded to, swallows.
He lifts his chin, and there's a faint smile. "Why don't you just smell yourself?"
It is the crudest, the deadliest he has ever been. Will snarls, and flattens a hand against the glass. Stares, and stares, and knows his heart is strong enough.
Hannibal approaches him in turn, hands behind his back, the picture of ease. He tilts his head, breathes in, deeply, and Will thinks, knows, that he can smell the blood on Will's teeth, the remnants of it caked under his nails. Bone-deep.
He smiles. "Shall we dance our dance once again, Will?" And in his voice is the birdsong, the pull of the hammer of a gun, the slow exhale. Ready, aim, shoot. Right through the skull. There is no sport in hunting something in a cage. No, to get what he wants, Will must let this beast roam free, shed his pelt, damn the prey animals that might be mown down in their wake.
He doesn't reply, but his eyes drag down, slowly, to rest upon his heart. His fingers curl, and form a fist, and his gut tightens with anticipation.
Hannibal's head tilts again, eyes sparking with a flash of intrigue. His smile shows teeth and Will aches, curls his tongue, wants to place it between them. He pulls his hand away as though the glass burned him, straightens his shoulders, and shows his own fangs in return.
Hannibal's brows lift, a pleased expression on his face, and he takes another single step forward, until their reflections mirror and match. Will lifts his chin, aching, hard, and crunches his teeth together, imagining it to be Hannibal's heart between them and not his tongue.
Hannibal smiles. "Yes," he purrs, and licks his lips slowly, gaze raking Will up and down. Will shivers under the weight of him, the heat of him, pressure in his skull and madness creeping up from his belly. He wants to cough up what he's done, show Hannibal the heart and the milk and the blood. It is poison, and he swallows it back.
One more step forward. One more. Close enough to touch if not for the glass between them – he could, still, reach between one of the holes, and wonders if Hannibal would embrace him, or break his arm. His fingers slide down, curling in invitation, and Hannibal's eyes drop to his hand. His brows lift further, and he presses his lips together.
The brush of their fingers is warm, blister-hot, fever-sweet. Hannibal touches Will's wedding ring and Will doesn't fight him as he slides it off and lets it drop, unreachable on his side of the wall.
He smiles, and meets Will's eyes.
"I'm taking back what you stole," Will says, barely more than a whisper. Hannibal's head tilts. "I'll eat your heart."
Hannibal's eyes flash, pleased to the bone, and he wraps his hand gently around Will's. Tugs him in, until Will can cradle his wrist. Will is not afraid. And Hannibal smiles, shows his teeth, and brushes his fingers lightly over Will's rushing pulse.
"Beautiful boy," he purrs, and Will swallows. "If anyone could…. I look forward to seeing you try."