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Bring Me Some Paradise

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(I)
Travelling the world and seeing all it has to offer was the best decision Will had taken in his entire life. His imagination was good enough to see how his life would have gone if he had stayed in New Orleans and become a police officer—later going on to join the FBI. No. No, that wasn’t what Will wished for in his life.

Proficiency with languages from an early age and his father teaching him Russian lead Will into taking up an extended sort of world tour. Working odd jobs to get to the next destination along with his savings let him enjoy the travelling even more. Meeting new people definitely helped—getting into trouble was considerably less dangerous if he was with someone who could talk them out of it when they knew more than the basics of a language.

Eventually Will found that Europe with its all possible choices, people and cultures lured him so much more than the East; even more than Africa, where he would have gladly have ventured from city to city for a long, long, long time.

Ending up in Lithuania wasn’t his goal, but it seemed that it might be his destiny. (And to meet one Hannibal Lecter, but about that a bit later).

Knowing Russian came in handy here. The older generation knew the language well, and those of his own age, twentysomethings, had grown up with English as their second language. Having a way to communicate with locals only encouraged Will to learn Lithuanian as well. Not the easiest of languages, so different from English, but slowly and steady Will was determined to know it fully.

What lured him to Lithuania in the first place was how green and full of nature it was. The lack of mountains was sad, yes, but he knew that he could travel some more to see those—Europe had enough of high peaks to see. Lithuania had all the forests and rivers and places to get lost in, to be closer to nature.

Settling in brought back Will’s favorite hobby of attracting stray dogs and adopting them as his own. Soon enough Winston and Buster were his loyal companions on trips to Klaipeda and then down the spit, quickly adopting its Lithuanian name on his tongue, Kuršiu nerija, to feel closer to it and the land he was now living in.

There was only a single road connecting things there, but filled with so many opportunities to stop and just walk along paths and places where no one had thread foot in a long time. Water was chilly almost all the time, warming up in the summer months, especially in July, which was the best time to swim here.

Finding a spot among the trees, with a view of the Baltic sea, Will would settle down on a blanket and relax—a notebook in hand to write down day’s more memorable happenings and ideas they generated, creating poems. Some of which he gladly transformed into lyrics to be sung along with his slightly awkward playing of a ukulele.

Buster usually accompanied his playing with barks and sometimes howling, while Winston just seemed amused, seeing his master and fellow canine trying to make music.

 

~~
While not exploring nature and playing with his dogs, Will lived and worked in Kaunas. Not the biggest city, but well located and always full of visitors from other towns in Lithuania, as well as guests from nearby countries. After spending his childhood in the US it seemed so strange that all it took was a couple of hours and he was in a different country.

It was a combination of luck and enough resources that allowed Will to settle there and open his business. There were enough flower shops and coffee shops in the city, but only one now where both were combined. And it was all Will’s.

Initially the idea was to serve coffee while people were waiting for their flower arrangements, but with time and thanks to a way Will combined flavours and spices added to the coffee, the number of people who visited his shop just for coffee grew. And as in every other country full of people that had to get to work, the wish for caffeine just grew; and Will’s shop flourished.

Signing up for Lithuanian courses just settled Will in the city even more. Waking up and going through the daily routine brought him a sense of accomplishment. Picking up fresh pastries to serve along with coffee and opening the shop made him wake up early, taking in the quiet of the streets.

His shop was close enough to the city center, and all the tourist attractions, which let him practice all the languages he knew every day; Russian considerably more, but enough of daily talk was in English. Will especially enjoyed the days he got to use his French, remembering growing up in Louisiana.

On the days Will wanted to take a break and just get in the car with his dogs and go explore nature, he let the shop be minded by a friend he made at the language courses—another American by the name of Abigail, who was an exchange student at the local university. They had quickly become friends, and Will felt almost like an older brother to her.

 

~~
Packing up and bundling both Buster and Winston in the car, Will waved at Abigail and started on the two hour drive to Klaipeda. The fields and smaller towns along the way let him take in the rural Lithuania. Some road work along the way seemed like a typical day on the A1.

Winston was taking a nap in the back seat while Buster was propped up to see out the passenger window, wiggling his butt, staring at the surroundings, especially all the birds either flying over or walking on the fields. Lots of barley and wheat along with potatoes and empty fields waiting to be either sown or harvested.

Klaipeda was typically bustling full of people and tourists and navigating it was always a bit of a nightmare, but eventually Will got to the ferry station that would take him over the water. Kuršiu nerija here was as close as one can get—further down it was impossible to see Lithuania from it, just open water, making up a nature reserve; the water almost always was still between the nerija and Lithuania, and full of fish. While on the other side, the open Baltic sea tended towards waves and wind.

Stretching his legs, Will let the dogs out of the car, while waiting for the next ferry to arrive. There were birds circling over their heads, shrieking and some of them begging for food, but noticing the dogs they stayed further away from Will than other people waiting.

Twenty minutes later the ferry docked, letting off those coming from the other side and Will got dogs back in the car to drive onto it. Turning the engine off, Will opened the windows for the dogs—the day was warming up and it wouldn’t do to let them overheat. Their drink of choice while they had been waiting for the ferry had been water: Will’s from a filled-up-at-home water bottle which he shared with both dogs, filling up their bowl.

Stepping out of the car, Will went along the deck to the front side, looking over the water and the other coast. It was no more than one kilometer across, but Will knew the slow—but steady—moving ferry would take about thirty minutes to cross it.

The ferry filled up quickly, with families and friends and other people crossing over. There was a dolphinarium at the topmost part of the spit, and it attracted most of the visitors. But Will’s plans were in the opposite direction, down the only road there was.

Looking at the road markers Will had to remind himself to convert the numbers from miles to kilometers, but with every trip that seemed easier—not long since settling in Kaunas he got his car from a local used-car plot and every gage in it was obviously with kilometers.

The one thing Will still struggled with was the temperature readings. Going from Fahrenheit to Celsius was hard. He had taped a chart next to the thermometer by the window with markings ‘hot’, ‘cold’, ‘warm’, ‘take a jacket’, ‘bring a water bottle’ and others. Will wanted to keep the markings like a reminder, but eventually to change them from English to Lithuanian when—or if—he learned Celsius better.

There were still thirty kilometers until Nida, the fishing village—the last one before the border with Russia’s little break-out land plot by the sea, Kaliningrad—when Will stopped the car, driving off the road and parking.

Winston immediately perked up, giving out a bark, ready to go. Buster was still filled with energy, but Will knew that as soon as they hit the beach, he’ll be out, napping in the shade.

The wind was mild today and the waves low, and the water on the side of chilly, not the most pleasant for a swim, but endurable. Picking up washed up sea debris, Will found several sturdy branches that Winston eagerly chased. The dog ran through the shallow water getting wet and then getting all of that water, along with a large dose of sand all over Will.

Having spent most of their energy, Will and Winston returned to the blanket and Buster, who was still sleeping. Taking out the water bowl, Will filled it once more and set it next to the blanket. Winston was nosing through the bushes and more sand, in search of something. Lying down on the blanket, Will closed his eyes, just listening to the sounds of the sea and the wind. There were no people for miles, or rather, kilometers, just him and the dogs. The perfect solitude.

Sun was shining through the canopy and the breeze from the sea lulled Will into a nap.

 

~~
Buster nosing him and licking his face woke Will. It was time for lunch—good kibble for the dogs and yesterday's pastries from the shop for him, along with some fresh fruit and processed cheese sticks. Will would give a lot to have an elaborate picnic, preferably together with someone like-minded or intriguing. But establishing his shop had taken a lot of effort and time and even now a chance to take a break was rare enough. Having Abigail as a backup was a bit of a miracle.

Wishful thoughts about the future things made Will root around in his bag for the notebook. Writing down that longing feeling, describing it in all the words he knew in English and French and Russian, and even some Lithuanian. It was a good exercise and he knew that he could use all of that in a song. A strange multilingual thing, but that was exactly what his days at the shop were—one language shifting to the other, even mixing up some words from all of them. Humans were intriguing that way, and Will promised himself that he would master Lithuanian and would know it perfectly.

Cleaning off the sand that had gathered on the ukulele, he played a few chords to the delight of Buster, starting on a quick melody which the dog gladly barked along with. Winston had returned to the blanket, lying down next to Will, taking his own nap.

It was a lovely afternoon and Will considered that they might just stay here. He could visit Nida and all of it’s fishing places another time.

Later, braving the water, Will plunged under it at least once, just to add a mark to his yearly list of little accomplishments—‘first swim of the year in the sea’. Walking along the shore, he let the sun and the wind dry him, again wishing for someone who would walk right next to him.

Will imagined that person, strong and assertive, with capable hands—ones that would always bring him pleasure—and interests in common. Or willing to learn each other’s interests if initially they were different. Adapting and seeing what the other person found intriguing was important in building any relationship. But those strong, capable hands also were important; Will let a smirk appear on his face, ducking his head at the thought, even though he was the only human for miles around.

Seeing clouds slowly move over the sky and gather, Will quickened the pace, going back to where Winston was still nap-guarding the blanket. Buster had accompanied him on the walk, barking at the waves that had dared to come closer to the shore and him. He wasn’t particularly scared of the water, but was reasonably cautious. Picking the dog up, Will got a face-full of tongue and excitement, but the path back was considerably faster.

Gathering everything up, Will packed the car, pouring the last of the water for the dogs, and reminded himself to stop for some more on the way home.

 

~~
The day Will meets Hannibal Lecter starts as any other—he wakes up, stretches and gets out of the bed. Breakfast for the dogs, and a cup of instant coffee for himself. Getting dressed and going next door to the pastry shop for his morning order; living above his shop considerably cut down on commuting. First order of business was opening up the shop and getting started on early bird orders from those who had to be at work at the ungodly hour of 5am.

Daily deliveries usually come around at 11, sometimes later, depending on the mood of the driver and how many other deliveries that are still en route. Will’s shop was a favorite destination for them, because if they were nice Will usually shared some of his good coffee.

Will was stripping the thorns and cutting up roses while there was a lull from the coffee side of his shop, looking over his Lithuanian notes when the little bell above the door rang. Looking up, Will made himself say, “Labas dienas!” hoping that his accent would be alright and his greeting message would get across.

 

art by psychoheu

 

Seeing the man—oh no, he’s hot!—Will smiled, propping his hip against the counter. It was a good thing he braced himself, because the visitor smiled back, and Will’s breath caught. Oh, he was absolutely handsome. Will really hoped that his smile hadn't turned visibly hungry. Because that was definitely attraction from the first glimpse.

Dressed in a suit that was definitely expensive and but probably not tailored, in brown colours, the man still looked as if he had stepped out of a fashion magazine. The suit looked a bit casual even, with an accompanying brown shirt and a pair of dark brown shoes—and yet he didn’t look stuck in the same tone, making it all together look elegant and brilliant.

The colour of the suit also matched his hazel brown eyes and that silk-like hair, giving an overall relaxed and slightly wind-tossed look. All in all it was a combination that shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did. Will gulped, looking the man up and down, frozen with a bunch of roses still clutched in his hand.

The next moment Will had to blink and stutter, because—of course this was the one time his accent turned out to be perfect—because the man asked him something in fluent Lithuanian. Will caught ‘roses’ and probably the color ‘yellow’. “Umm, sorry, heh—my Lithuanian isn’t that good yet.” Risking the answer in English instead of Russian, judging the man somewhere in his thirties, and as someone growing up learning English along with Russian in school.

This made the man smile again and come closer to Will. “Just those two words were enough to convince me that you are a native speaker.”

All Will could do was blush and clutch the roses closer. “Ouch!” wasn’t what he meant to say, but a stray thorn had pricked his finger.

“Oh, are you alright?” The concerned look on his face made Will blush once more.

Finding the thorn and picking it out, Will grimaced, and said, “Happens. Hazards of the job.” Will took a breath and found a clean tissue. The wound was tiny and he knew that the blood would clot quickly. It wouldn’t even need a band-aid. “But thank you for the concern.” After a moment, a bit quieter, “I’m Will.”

“Hannibal Lecter.”

And now Will knew his name, could whisper it to himself, and hope that Hannibal would return here again and again. “Your English is perfect, and—what I could understand from the Lithuanian—that was also perfect. Any languages you aren’t perfectly fluent in?” Will didn’t even notice that last sentence slip out, and could react to his own words by blushing once more and ducking his head, “Um, I mean—I. That just slipped out, you don’t have to answer!” He tried backtracking, but had to look up from where he was fiddling with the roses, when he suddenly heard laughter.

“I’m not offended. Charmed, rather. I deal with enough personalities at my work, that such candor is refreshing.” There was definitely warmth in Hannibal’s gaze; a gaze directed towards Will and only Will.

“I try.” Speaking of trying, Will looked down again, where his notebook filled with Lithuanian was now hiding under the fallen roses and pulled it out, putting it aside. “So. How can I help?” He gathered the roses and put them aside, to deal with a bit later, when Hannibal would be gone—secretly hoping that Hannibal would never be gone, that he would stay forever.

“I’m visiting with my sister, Mischa, today and she adores roses. I would like a bouquet of them, all possible colours, their meanings in this case please consider irrelevant. She likes them just as they are. The yellow are her favorites.” Hannibal had stepped closer to the counter, catching a glimpse of the large poster Will had on the wall with pictures of roses and other flowers grouped together with meanings for all of them. It was convenient chart for those who couldn’t pick what they wanted, but had a message they wanted to convey.

Giving Hannibal another smile, Will said, “I can do that. Some lovely dark red ones were delivered earlier, I was just about to get to them.” The elongated cardboard boxes where all the roses were bundled together for shipping from place to place were still on the floor, waiting to be unpacked. “Are you in a hurry?” It still took some time to have them presentable.

“I have to be there in two hours. With travel time that gives me a bit less than an half-hour here.” Hannibal said, and then looked down, before quickly his gaze had returned to Will, “I see Lithuanian is something you still plan to conquer, may I?” He pointed towards Will’s notebook.

Feeling the inevitable blush take over his face again Will nodded, “Sure, go ahead.” He wanted to snatch all the typos Hannibal was bound to find out of his hand, to hold the notebook close to heart.

While Will was gathering roses for Mischa's arrangement, and stripping thorns from the dark red ones, Hannibal wandered the shop. The notebook was still in his hand, and Will could hear hmm’s and huh’s from him. Only when he was almost done did he see that he had left a pen stuck in the notebook and Hannibal was writing something next to his notes. He froze, staring open-mouthed at Hannibal’s audacity—charmed and elated and pretty much in love already.

“Oh.” Hannibal seemingly almost tripped over his own feet, when he noticed in what state he had left Will in. “My apologies, but there were..” Coming closer, he lay the notebook on the counter, open on a page he had made last corrections in. “I’ve been terribly rude.”

“No!” Will exclaimed, putting his hand over Hannibal’s that was still resting on the notebook, “Not rude. Helpful! I’d say that is a much better word. I like.. I like that you were daring.” He was sure the blush was back in his cheeks.

“Hmm. Daring.” Hannibal had quickly lost that abashed look and now seemed both warmer and more calculating. “I can do daring.” Turning his hand, he grasped Will’s and held it.

Warm, it was so warm—and strong and capable and exactly what Will was looking for. A breathless “Oh.”

The rest of the half-hour was spent with Will trying and failing to say and ask things only in Lithuanian, with Hannibal as the most patient teacher ever. They kept reaching out for one another, grabbing hold of a hand, a shoulder, trying to map where one ends and the other starts. Trying to tether themselves together. Laughter and smiles and failure to use the correct grammar made it into the best day in Will’s life so far.

 

(II)
Hannibal woke early with a hope in his heart to see Will today. It was truly the best part of his new daily routine—ever since the restaurant he was working at changed its location, Hannibal’s route to it also had changed. And what a pleasant change it had been! Not only he was a bit closer to work now, but there was Will’s shop along the path he walked or cycled by. As long as there was no snow on the ground and it was warm enough, Hannibal preferred taking a bicycle to work, and today was one such day. One shouldn't be capable of pulling off cycling with a suit on, but Hannibal somehow did, as he did most things.

He was the main chef on the evening shift, working almost always late; always there until the last customers left. He loved the work and the food, coming up with new recipes and ways to improve the existing ones. Being the master of the kitchen did have its perks—he could come in later while others in the kitchen did the early prep work.

The first thing at work to do was touching base with the morning shift’s chef, trading stories and working out how to best serve their daily special. And it did change daily, though they did have their favourites—one or two of which had ended up praised in the local press and frequently sought after.

Going to Will’s shop while on his way to work was a wonderful start to his work day. He tried visiting on his free days as well, but Mischa tended to have plans for them both. He was yet to introduce her to Will, but until that inevitably happened, Hannibal wanted to keep Will all to himself.

Hannibal knew that Will opened up the shop early, and closed it soon after the early evening rush had gone down, while he himself was only a few hours in his evening shift. The logistics were so much easier in Hannibal’s dreams and he was yet to make a significant first step towards admitting his feelings towards Will.

Their first meeting, with the misunderstanding and Hannibal rattling off his entire order towards Will in Lithuanian still made him smile and remember how adorable Will turned out to be. All that blushing the young man did only endeared him to Hannibal.

From what he could tell, Will seemed only a few years younger than him, but still in his twenties. And what a wonderfully handsome—even pretty—young man, Will was, Hannibal would paint him if Will permitted. He itched to take his camera along next time he visited with Will and to beg until he acquiesced to being photographed.

Seeing Will in person and having pictures of him, now that would truly make Hannibal happy. It wasn’t something he was expecting, meeting Will; his life had mostly focused on culture and art and cooking and shallow friendships and acquaintances, therefore this instant connection to Will surprised him. He had only been dreaming to have someone as close to him as Mischa was, someone who desired and wanted him; wanted to get to know him, someone who needed him and would let Hannibal take care of them.

And now there was Will. Hannibal felt like this crush he had on Will had the potential to be the best connection he had in life with another person.

Humming something under his breath, Hannibal was on his way to work—one of the rare times he had a morning shift—and a wish for coffee prodded him to go in and see Will. Opening the door, he saw a few of the little tables occupied, and Will behind the counter making another coffee.

Sniffing at the air he let his nose lead to the pastry rack. Most, he could tell, were freshly baked from next door, but others were those that before today came in a plastic packaging from a freezer somewhere. Those Hannibal really didn’t like, but knew that Will had to keep the costs low somehow, and buying fresh from the pastry shop would get expensive day after day.

“Hannibal!” A cheery voiced pulled Hannibal from contemplating the pastries, and he turned towards Will.

“Hello, Will.” It was warm in the shop, and bound to become even warmer outside and Hannibal was glad to see that what Will was wearing was something light and on the thin side; showing that the summer had finally arrived. “You look—ah. Wonderful.” Hannibal tried not to blush in answer to Will blush, but knew that he failed.

He couldn’t look away from Will, away from all of him, away from that long and firm neck beneath the sculpted-like jawline. Perhaps a love-bite or two would improve it even more.

Really, it was so inconvenient that he had to be at work in half an hour and he couldn’t stay here and stare at Will all day. He could have sketched him instead of working, but alas, today they had a big event to cater and everyone had their tasks to do.

“Thank you.” Will’s voice was breathy and the blush still hadn’t vanished.

“I would love to stay longer, but today is an early day.” Hannibal said, stepping up to the counter. He and Will had quickly tried several recipes for coffee until they found one Hannibal absolutely loved and now couldn’t pass up.

“Your regular to go, got it.”

They chatted and Will tried several sentences and words in Lithuanian, with varying levels of success—but Hannibal loved how the language sounded in Will’s mouth. (And he really would like to taste those words off of Will’s tongue.)

Knowing that he risked being late, but not overly caring about it, Hannibal asked Will to make him a bouquet to take along to work. Just so he could spend more time with Will, loving how easy it was talking with him, how quickly they found things in common—notably French, and wasn’t that a treat!

There weren’t many he could converse with in French here, aside from Mischa, and reading the language wasn’t really the same as speaking in it. And now he had another way to connect to Will, as well as a burning wish to ask him out on a date. Perhaps to confess all of his feelings and love at the same time.

Will seemed like the best companion, someone who could complete him, the best gift Hannibal could have asked from life.

Taking the made bouquet, really, something closer to an entire flower arrangement, Hannibal let his fingers brush Will’s, looking into his eyes and smiling, saying a short goodbye before he inevitable returned a day later.

It was slightly awkward cycling to work with the flowers, but it was worth it. Absolutely worth it.

 

~~
(Hannibal didn’t know it yet, but he was about to get a chance to return on the same day.)

Finished with work—he had been only a little bit late, but the flowers in his hands smoothed over any comments that would have arisen.

The bouquet served as the main centerpiece for the event they were catering for and everyone kept dropping comments how wonderful it was. All Hannibal could do was preen and repeat exactly where he had gotten it from, happy that Will would get new customers and recognition for his work.

Hannibal had bought flowers from Will enough times to be sure about their quality and longevity—gifting them to Mischa and coworkers, as well as using them as centerpieces for his own dining table.

He knew that it was too late for Will’s shop to be open, but it didn’t stop him from longingly watching it as he cycled by. Hannibal sighed, ready to start thinking about what he was about to make for dinner, when he suddenly saw a light still on in the shop itself.

Braking, he stopped near a row of bushes, and was staring at the shop windows. There was Will, among the chairs piled on the tables upside down, with a clipboard in his hand and counting something. Having seen such counting enough at his own work, he realized that Will was doing inventory; checking if he had to order new chairs, new cups and saucers, if there weren’t any missing and how many had been broken since last time he did this.

Hannibal knew that he was spying, but a chance to observe Will was something he couldn’t pass up. Rolling the bike closer, Hannibal set it against the wall of the shop, out of the way, and crept closer to a window.

He leaned against the wall, listening to Will—hum? That was definitely humming, but a melody he didn’t know. Perhaps something new and trendy? But all of those he had a chance to hear from his coworkers, and this wasn’t it. There was a certain longing to the melody; but at the same time it was hopeful, as if a start to something beautiful.

art by psychoheu

Hannibal imagined that he was in there, together with Will. They were marking down in a ledger things that were still useful, and making another list of things they had to buy—new filters for the coffee machine, at least three sets of new cups, several types of scissors and at least five new vases. He would let Will lean into him, would support him while Will was humming, and then singing a song they had written together.

He was so sunk into the fantasy, that Hannibal didn’t notice when the humming had moved from the room and out the side door—right next to where he was still standing.

“Hannibal!”

Startled, he opened his eyes and tried to step back, but only brushed against the wall once more, unable to put a distance between them. “Umm, I—. I don’t know what to say.” Getting caught by Will definitely wasn’t in his plans. “I apologize.”

“Hannibal Lecter, speechless. I didn’t think I would ever witness that.” Will chuckled, shaking his head. He had a trash bag in his hand, that led Hannibal to conclude that his spying had definitely gone longer than he expected, and that Will was done with his work for today.

“You overwhelm me, Will. In a good way.” Hannibal confessed, feeling a blush spread over his cheeks.

“Overwhelm. Well. I would hope that I do it only in the good ways.” Will said, with an indulgent smile, still looking at Hannibal. Evaluating him, calculating something, until suddenly his look eased, and Hannibal knew that Will had made a decision—a decision regarding Hannibal and what to do about his stalking behaviour.

“Will,” Hannibal said, almost desperately. Hoping for the best. But Will only sent an enigmatic smile his way and walked over to the large trash containers closer to street.

On the return trip, Will visibly licked his lips, making Hannibal blush once more and almost miss Will saying, “Come on in.”

Nodding, Hannibal moved away from the wall, with almost shaking legs and followed Will inside the shop. His bike could stay outside, it wasn’t visible from the street, so he was hopeful no one would take it. But even if they did—he got to spend time with Will, and at the moment it consumed all of his thoughts.

 

~~
Will tidied up his notes and let Hannibal explore the shop at his leisure—the roses, with the windows closed, were inescapable—their scent somewhat cloying, and so very sweet, distracting him from a chance to see Will bending over and finding something on the floor.

Walking around the shop, Hannibal stepped behind the counter for the first time. Nothing was different, it was still the same shop, but it was somehow so much more different being behind the counter, as if he was treading somewhere forbidden. He was in Will’s space, taking a step in Will’s shoes: letting his finger run along the coffee maker. Spotless and shined, but obviously used daily.

Looking over Will, Hannibal smiled and followed where Will lead him.

He had expected them to quickly get to confessing feelings and blabbing how much they love each other, but Will distracted him by asking about lunch ideas. Now that was a topic Hannibal could talk at length about, and somehow they did.

“You mean, you’ve never shopped at Lidl?” Will squinted at him, viewing Hannibal almost like someone he had never met. “I take it Maxima is even more below your tolerance level.”

At that even Hannibal couldn’t keep the consternation off his face. Definitely not. “There is nothing good about a store that has an entire aisle devoted to canned goods.” He was being snippy, and he knew it.

“You do know they have fresh produce too, and quite good.” Will smirked.

“I despair if you think a quality meal can come out of ... supermarkets.” The shiver that overtook him was undeniable. Really, he would never be caught in a Lidl store, no matter how much someone praised their freshly baked goods.

“Well.” There was a slight blush on Will’s cheeks. Hannibal had come to cherish all of those little ways he could make Will blush, how he could have Will express more emotions—especially positive ones, and even more so when they were sent towards Hannibal.

“Oh, Will. My darling.” He sighed, “I should really make you something.” They were seated in the shop’s backroom, and he could see the counter and further into the shop; ready to open tomorrow morning for another full day’s work.

In the backroom he could see a single small oven for the frozen-thawed-and-ready-to-bake atrocities Will sometimes set along the pastries from the lovely place next door, but aside from that there were only two large sinks and a number of work surfaces. And Hannibal had a sneaking suspicion that Will didn’t even use that little oven for his own meals. Another sigh prompted Will to look at him, and squirm where he was seated.

“It’s not all bad, but—eh, I don’t really have a way to eat fresh, or good, all that much.” A pointed look from Hannibal made Will squirm more, and admit, “... or ever.”

“What should I do with you, Will?” He contemplated forbidding Will from ever ordering pizza or going upstairs to toss everything Will had that wasn’t fresh, but that did seem a bit drastic. “I make enough for almost two already, a slight adjustment to the recipe and it easily serves two. Let me show you how food should taste.”

“You just want to feed me.” Will had a little smile at the corner of his mouth. There was definitely that calculating look in his eyes again, making Hannibal squirm in return. This truly was a wonderful happenstance that let him meet Will, and the potential of their connection was, dare he say—and yes, he dares, because he already has—overwhelming.

“I am capable of making myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner, therefore it shouldn’t be such a hardship to share them with someone I care for.” A moment of consideration later, he admitted, “Yes, I want to feed you.”

“There, that wasn’t that hard.” Will smirked, getting up from his seat and coming over to Hannibal, standing taller than him, “But only on the condition that I get to contribute to that breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Hannibal had unconsciously leaned forward, into Will’s space and was about to get up and kiss Will—when Will anticipated his move and leaned down instead—letting their lips touch for a moment. A wonderful moment, one that got Hannibal absolutely addicted to all of Will, before Will smiled into the kiss and leaned back again, with a teasing smirk. “There.”

“Oh, Will. Let me—oh please—let me make you dinner, and I beg of you—another kiss, please.” He truly was desperately in love, was he? It had happened so quickly—it seemed unreal. But the ground beneath his feet, the table he had propped one hand on, the tingling of his lips: it all was real.

 

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“Gerai.”

Oh, and that was even less fair—when Will used Lithuanian to respond, Hannibal couldn't stop the almost-moan escaping from his throat.

And all Will did in response is smirk once more, before letting one of his hands rest over Hannibal’s heart, feeling it beat rapidly; to him it seemed like it was beating insanely fast. Really, this was getting ridiculous, but Hannibal couldn't stop himself from being swept in all of it. He had no wish to.

On the way to Hannibal’s house Will kept teasing him about never ordering a pizza or take-out, never even taking a step inside a fast food place, and again ribbing him for never shopping at Lidl or Maxima ever; that it was always the produce market or specialized shops, for meat or cheese or vegetables.

They tried to align their schedules, to find how soon they both had a free day—to spend that day visiting all of Hannibal’s favorite shops and the market. Turned out that Hannibal had more free days overall, but Will could be more flexible in picking which days he could have away from work. Of course they still depended on whether Will’s friend Abigail could cover for him.

Will getting more free days depended entirely on the income, and while it was slowly increasing, it wasn't anywhere near to hiring more employees. Hannibal smiled at that and told Will all about that very morning—perhaps some of those who admired Will’s flower arrangements so much could help Will further that goal. More free days, after all, meant more time spent will Hannibal, together.

 

~~
It’s a fifteen minute walk to Hannibal’s house, a slightly winding path along the Neman river. A view Will kept expressing his awe for in many many whispered comments into Hannibal’s ear. They were steadily moving away from the city and the growing number of trees on one side, the river on the other gave an illusion that they were somewhere in the wild. Closer to nature and away from the city.

Hannibal was pushing his bike next to them, telling Will tall tales about Kaunas, the river and other places in Lithuania. Some of those where such fantastic folk stories, that Will kept giggling right next to him, and Hannibal unrepentantly kept spinning them further and further.

With those giggles and laughter they reached the house—a two story sprawling thing, with a terrace on the river side and a garden wrapped all around, even some fruit trees along the fence with the neighbours.

“Oh, Hannibal. This looks wonderful.” Will had abandoned Hannibal to get the bicycle settled and was now trying to get to know every centimeter of the terrace, touching things and moving them from their places, letting his fingers glide over all that was Hannibal’s.

Everything about Will should have irritated Hannibal, but it didn’t—not even for a second. Somehow when Will did something it was endearing instead of annoying. A wish to introduce him to Mischa only grew; and he knew that Will would inevitably introduce Mischa to Abigail, and the two of them would definitely become inseparable.

“I’m glad you like it.” The bicycle was in its place and Hannibal followed in Will’s footsteps; letting one of his hands to settle on Will’s shoulder, squeezing it a bit. Trying to map where he ended and Will began, because he was still overwhelmed and it felt like they were one whole instead of two halves. Was this what literature tried to explain by soulmates? If so, Hannibal was sure that literary interpretations paled in presence of reality.

“You ever eat out here?” Will turned and leaned closer, making Hannibal’s breath catch. If he hadn’t negotiated with Will about dinner and a kiss, he would have ravaged Will right here, public indecency laws be damned.

“No. But—I can be persuaded to.”

“Oooh, I see how it is.” The smirk was back on Will’s lips, which—oh no, that was Will biting on his lower lip, making Hannibal rethink his decision on the dinner and a kiss. This really was too tempting.

“Your persuasion, it’s working.” Hannibal hadn't ever talked this freely or honestly with anyone. Even with Mischa he tried to be a good big brother, but Will tore through all of his manners.

“Hmmm. I’m glad.” Will winked at him and took a deliberate step back. “Can I help with the dinner? I’m not sure how evenly I can cut things, but I’d love to try.”

“On one condition, dear Will.” Hannibal smiled, taking Will’s hand and leading him towards the front door. Another giggle was all the response he got until they were inside his kitchen.

Will was moving cautiously, looking over the surfaces, the knife block, the ovens and the pantry and refrigerator doors, “What’s your one condition?”

“You pick the recipe.” Mischa had gifted him the thickest cook book she could find—it was now the centerpiece of the kitchen, with multiple colourful tabs and sticky notes visible among the pages where he or Mischa had written notes on how it turned out, or what should be improved. It was glossy and with an abundance of pictures, and to Hannibal’s delight, in French. Which made him even happier to share it with Will as well.

“Oh, wow. You will need to consult on the available ingredients.” Will stepped up to the kitchen counter, touching one of the colourful tabs sticking out of the book. “I haven’t had the chance to inventory your kitchen yet. My own work space was enough.”

“Gerai.” Hannibal was gratified to see that him suddenly switching to Lithuanian also had the same effect on Will. That blush was a truly lovely thing to see.

“Yeah, yeah.” With a smile, Will opened the book, looking for a list of contents. “Meat, fish or pure vegetables?” The desserts towards the end of the book looked tempting enough just from their titles alone.

“I have a bottle of white wine cooling in the fridge, it will go better with fish. But if you find something in the meat section, I’m sure we can negotiate some more.” Perhaps he could earn another kiss? One could hope, and Will had teased him enough already, that surely his own perseverance in the face of the temptation Hannibal was posing wasn’t that durable; was it?

“I’m tempted to pick something overly long and complicated to see you in action inside a kitchen, but at the same time I really want to taste something you and I can make together—oh, Hannibal. All of it is tempting.”

Hannibal would swear for the rest of his life, that that last sentence was said about him, instead of some dish in a book. “Yes, it is.” Now that—that was definitely said about Will. Hannibal couldn’t take his eyes off of him, once again letting a fantasy intrude on the moment.

The two of them, in this kitchen; sometimes early in the morning, other times late at night, talking and preparing ingredients together, sometimes just seated, slumped together after a long shift, drinking water before going to sleep. Him and Will, in this kitchen, making it their kitchen. Will’s dogs underfoot sometimes, the two of them sleepy in the morning, preparing breakfast and tea.

Hannibal got pulled out of his dream-world by Will asking, “How about this one?” One of Will’s hands was on his shoulder, trying to get Hannibal’s attention.

“Hmm?” A step closer to the counter, and he was now flush against Will’s side, feeling his heat. The recipe was something he had made before, and now with written improvements on a green sticky note, and reading over the ingredients, he had to smile. He had everything that was needed.

And he even had a kitchen assistant. He had Will.

 

(III)
Will was happy, truly happy and content with his life. They’ve been dating for a while now, spending time together: Will taking Hannibal with him on his trips to nature, introducing him to his dogs, going to the places where they could relax, and he could play some of his songs for Hannibal; while Hannibal liked to surprise Will with gifts and tickets to plays and opera—the plays always in Lithuanian so that Will can practice the language and learn to understand it even better.

The last three days—end of July, the really lovely warm weather and everyone in the city streets at night—those were spectacular.

On Friday, Hannibal had a free day and as soon as Will closed up his shop, they walked side-by-side, holding hands towards Hannibal’s house. They were going to an opera that night.

Since that first dinner, they had cooked together again and again, trying sometimes harder, sometimes easier recipes. On a memorable occasion even a cake, but it really didn’t end well, for the cake of the kitchen itself. But the clean-up part was more fun than they expected.

Hannibal had bought a suit for Will as a gift, nothing extremely expensive, but still something that really looked good on Will. And since all the occasions to wear it meant that he would spend time with Hannibal, the suit itself had a permanent place in Hannibal’s closet.

Over time, some of Will’s other things had found a place at Hannibal’s as well.

The walk to the house was getting more familiar every time they took it—Will preferred walking it next to Hannibal instead of alone. Halfway there, Hannibal stopped them, turning towards Will. A smile on his face, and definitely love in his eyes and a moment later they were kissing.

The rest of the path went by quickly, and the two of them were giggling and commenting on what the other was doing while getting dressed for the event that night. The opera was in French, Will foregoing a lesson in Lithuanian tonight, and them both looking forward to enjoying the performance and a chance to listen to the language.

Hannibal had whispered to him not a day ago, that the performers were rumored to mill with the guests after the opera, and the two of them perhaps could get a chance to talk with them as well. Exercise more of their French and to hear stories about the behind-the-scenes part of the performance.

Their trips to the opera or theater or a concert were usually taken either on foot, if the venue was close enough, or Hannibal would drive them both in his car. Kaunas State Musical Theater building, looking like a mansion from olden times, where their night’s performance was playing was further in the city and the two of them decided to get a taxi there—finding a parking spot downtown wasn’t the easiest, especially on a Friday night in summer.

Hannibal introduced Will to people he knew there and hadn't yet met Will previously; they chatted with the few acquaintances Will had taken a liking to from previous times they had gone out. Will wasn’t surprised that some of the people were rather arrogant and looking down at everyone who weren’t them, but he did enjoy talking to a larger number of people than he expected.

His Lithuanian was improving by leaps and bounds, especially when Hannibal ‘helpfully’ wasn’t speaking in English at all, but all-in-all it was helping. Perhaps another few months and the number of words he didn’t know would get less and less. Hannibal kept lending him books—new releases and older classics in Lithuanian, letting Will expand his vocabulary even further. Now there were a number of words that he knew how to spell, but didn’t know how to say out loud.

The opera was lovely, and Will truly enjoyed the performance, tearing up even. Though he couldn’t match Hannibal who had teared up three times over the two hour and a half long parts. And after the show ended they did get to meet some of the performers, talking with them in French, laughing about stories of their show playing in other cities, and which of those was the most eventful. Will even got them to autograph a napkin for him, while Hannibal drew something for them on another.

That was only Friday—Mischa had been introduced to Abigail and the two of them had promised to mind Will’s shop for the weekend. Will and Hannibal, and the dogs, were expected home on Sunday evening and not a minute earlier.

Will’s car was the designated car for dog-travelling, so as not to spread all of their shed fur into Hannibal’s car as well. Saturday morning they both slept in, and then a bit after ten were on the road towards Klaipeda.

Hannibal in casual jeans and a t-shirt was something Will really liked looking at. He matched him in the outfit, and now they looked like the truly belonged out there, in nature. There was food in the trunk, as well as a tent and sleeping bags, along with towels and blankets to sit and nap on. Will had his ukulele and notebook filled with poems and songs with him.

He had played for Hannibal several times already, but out in nature it was somehow different. It was closer to what most of his songs were about. A lot of them were about Hannibal, about the idea of him, about his best qualities and how much Will wanted someone like that in his life.

Taking the ferry over to Kuršiu nerija, they got out on the deck (leaving dogs in the car with the windows open and a water bowl on the seat between them), moving onwards, to see the land across the water. Leaning against Hannibal, Will sighed.

Really, it was perfect. He was going to a place that gave him peace, with his dogs and his songs, and now—now he had someone to share his favorite place with. He had Hannibal right next to him, their hands linked, looking forward to a life spent together.

 

~~
The gifts eventually turn from practical things to things that look beautiful on Will: bracelets, scarves, suits and eventually—lingerie. And beautiful lace chokers too. They tried out the last two together, with Will posing for Hannibal, while he drew him (other times Hannibal would bring out his camera and take pictures of him, which they later would admire together); with Will smiling and saying teasing things.

 

art by psychoheu

 

Hannibal has found all the places Will likes to be touched, where he has to apply his fingers or tongue, or the scratchy morning beard so that Will would shiver and moan. Will delights in how Hannibal likes to explore him, how much pleasure he can wrench from him just with light touches. It should feel like teasing and denying, but it doesn’t. Everything Hannibal did only heightens the pleasure, driving him onwards.

With the drawing finished, kissing became that much more important. Hannibal let his fingers and tongue run over Will’s abdomen, heading ever downwards, until he reached the hardening cock. A teasing flick and all Will could do was moan aloud Hannibal’s name, only encouraging him in attempts to get more sounds out of Will.

Will let his head fall onto the pillow, and his eyes to shut. He knew that Hannibal would give him great pleasure and he definitely would get to come, but the journey there would be longer that he would take on his own. Hannibal kept surprising him every time they did this—but they were always good surprises.

And, “Aaaah, Hannibal!” That was definitely a tongue and lips doing the good work of trying to get Will completely erect and desperate to come. “That’s so good, keep ah! Keep doing that! Mm.”

Opening his eyes, Will looked down, where Hannibal’s mouth and lips, in such an arousing red was doing all they could to get Will to lose his mind. Smiling, he tangled a hand in Hannibal’s hair, pulling him a bit downwards.

With an obscene smile, as much as one could smile with a cock in their mouth, Hannibal obeyed and went on to swallow Will deeper.

“Ah!” Will almost jumped, but Hannibal’s hands on his hips held him down, adding to his pleasure. Those capable and strong hands were what Will had been dreaming about since he met Hannibal; he fantasized about such hands even before the two had met. And now—now they were fulfilling all of Will’s wishes.

He wasn’t about to get anywhere will Hannibal on top of him, controlling his pleasure. Will moaned trying to buck up, unsuccessfully, which in turn made him moan some more—Hannibal was strong enough to keep him, to have him, to take care of him.

“Mm, Hannibal, perfect.”

Just at the moment Hannibal sucked him in deeper and swallowed—Will could tell that he was deep, so deep that he shivered all over, overwhelmed. The mouth around his cock was almost scorching hot, drowning out all other sensations.

A tongue joined in on the fun and Will could only clutch at Hannibal’s hair, trying and failing to fuck the mouth which was doing its best to make him incoherent.

Still held down, he was at Hannibal’s mercy—he controlled where and how Will got his pleasure. And at the moment, the pleasure was doled out by Hannibal in all the right places. Moaning and shivering, Will felt his orgasm fast approaching, “I’m, oh, I’m gonna come!”

Pulling off, Hannibal smirked, “You should definitely do that.”

Before Will could huff and make a comment hurrying him up, Hannibal had kissed the tip of Will’s cock and swallowed him down again, sucking it and lapping his tongue on the underside, wrenching the pleasure right out of Will.

With a shout, Will tensed and came.

Hannibal didn't let up, and kept sucking him down, making him go oversensitive until he had to push him away lest his cock decided to get hard once more. Will didn’t have to open his eyes to know that Hannibal had that smug proud look on his face. He had made Will come after all.

While languid and resting, Will pulled the drawing closer. His favorite pens have spread throughout Hannibal’s house, and there was always some on the dresser next to the bed. He admires how Hannibal has captured him, that teasing yet innocent look Hannibal sees when looking at him. The lace choker only added to it, making Will feel harder again, contemplating should he get Hannibal to touch him some more, but eventually deciding against it. They had enough fun already, and earlier there was talk of making dinner.

Perhaps they could skip wearing clothes while making dinner—now that was a wonderful thought. Will hummed to himself and flattened the drawing out. Grabbing a pen, he added lines from a song he had written for Hannibal.

Finished, Will set the pens that had rolled into bed and the drawing on the dresser, before snuggling up to Hannibal. Looking up, he smiled and leaned closer to kiss Hannibal’s nose.

Before they kiss again Hannibal casually drops the question asking Will to move in with him.

“What?”

There’s a soft look full of love on Hannibal’s face. Touching one hand to Will’s cheek, he whispered, “Please, move in with me. You already spend a lot of time here, and I love looking at you in the mornings. Be mine, be here.”

Will had to smile at that. He did spend so many of his nights here, and the house was a place he had almost always dreamed of having while growing up; there was enough space for him and the dogs, and he had fallen in love with the terrace looking over the river as soon as he had seen it.

With a wink, a look and teeth biting on his lover lip, Will tried to look like he’s still thinking about it, “Well. I would be only fifteen minutes further from work than I am now.” He could lease out the little apartment above his shop, that would mean some extra income for him.

Grumbling some more that now he will have to get up for work earlier, Will smiled, but eventually—of course—confirmed, “Yes. I will, Hannibal, I’ll move in.”

“Oh, dear Will. I love you.” Leaning closer, Hannibal poured all the love he had (that will never end) in kissing Will. All Will could do was respond with all the love he has (that will also never end) and kiss Hannibal back.

“And I love you, Hannibal Lecter.” Before getting to logistics of moving and organizing they snuggled under the blanket to take a nap together.

Tomorrow will bring new opportunities and things to consider—including a large order of a permanent nature of flower arrangements that’ll launch Will’s shop towards further success. The dream of having more than Abigail as a part-time assistant was going to come true.

Maybe it was destiny, maybe it was meeting Hannibal, no one knows. All Will is feeling is joy.