"It's called 'Capgras Syndrome'."
Will pauses, a forkful of food halfway to his mouth. He lowers his bite, untouched, and swallows harshly, looking to his right where Hannibal is sitting, at the head of their dinky little table in their tiny little safehouse. England, this time, and Will long ago stopped asking 'Why' or 'Where next'. He just nods whenever he sees an open suitcase, packs up quietly, finds Hannibal waiting for him in the car and they move on to their next destination, as they have for the last eight months.
Hannibal isn't looking at him. He never looks directly at Will anymore, if he can help it. He looks tired, there are dark circles under his eyes, new lines around his mouth that weren't there before the fall. A faded, white patch of scarring mars his temple, the only visible sign that cannot be hidden by clothes to show he was injured at all.
Will swallows again, and says; "I've heard of that." Because he has, but he can't remember what, exactly, it is.
Hannibal nods. His gaze is fixed resolutely on his wine glass. His lips purse. "There are a few definitions," he continues. "And unfortunately there are more questions than answers in regards to the exact cause, and it manifests in many different ways, but it's essentially a form of delusion that convinces the sufferer that their friends, or family, or loved ones, have been replaced by an imposter."
Imposter. Will's throat goes tight, and his inhale is terribly shaken. He looks back down at his plate, appetite very abruptly gone. "Oh," he manages, for that's all he can manage, and it's more a gasp than a word; a simple expulsion of air that deflates his lungs and makes them burn.
"My manifestation of it seems to only affect my vision," Hannibal tells him. "Your voice, your scent, are all known to me. They conjure the same emotional reaction as they always have."
"But you can't look at me," Will replies. He wonders if it's possible for the heart to simply break, for it to shatter like a Goddamn teacup and lay in pieces beneath bare feet, cutting him further. He breathes out again.
Hannibal shakes his head. "The most comprehensive explanation I could find was that faces of our loved ones trigger a conscious and unconscious reaction. I recognize you as Will Graham, I know your face – you're not a stranger – but the unconscious reaction, the releases of hormones that promote attachment, and of love…. When I look at you, I don't feel that, and so it's like you've been replaced."
"I know you're not trying to hurt me," Will says. "But -."
Hannibal closes his eyes, and sighs. "I'm sorry, Will."
It's not Hannibal's fault, he wants to say. It's not his fault – Will is the one who flung them into the ocean. Will is the one who broke them against the cliffs, who made them take in seawater, who damn near killed them. It's because of Will that Hannibal took brain damage, that he almost died, that he no longer recognizes Will when he looks at him.
How tragically, viciously ironic, that the moment Will finally saw him, and loved what he saw, he robbed Hannibal of the same gift.
He stands, because if he remains he will do something drastic. Hannibal still does not look at him, lowers his eyelids and narrows his vision so he doesn't have to. Will's heart twists in his chest, his lungs ache, and he manages to say; "I'm going to bed." Hannibal nods, and Will goes to their bedroom – only one room in this little house, another cruelty. Not Hannibal's fault, again; he had no reason to believe they would not be happy here, cooped up and alone with nothing but each other for company.
He strips down to his underwear and turns off all the lights, closes the heavy curtains to seal in warmth and to make sure nothing peeks at them from the outside; no wandering eye or drafting slant of sunlight. He climbs into bed and brings the pillow Hannibal uses to his chest, clinging to it like a child. He refuses to weep, refuses to let the tears clogging his throat and burning his eyes fall, because Hannibal will surely smell it, and Will doesn't want to make him suffer. Not anymore; he sacrificed his vengeance and his desire to die in the ocean, as payment for them both to survive.
They are surviving. They are alive. But they are not living. Not thriving at all.
He is still, and silent, unable to sleep. He listens to Hannibal clearing their places, a small amount of time later. Listens to him washing the dishes and locking the front door. Hears him come up the creaking, narrow steps, and enter the bedroom. Hannibal sighs, and Will closes his eyes, because he sounds more like himself when he can't see Will.
Will releases the pillow for him to use, somewhat settled by the knowledge that his scent, at least, is familiar and welcome. Hannibal sheds his clothes, and approaches the bed, forgoing his nightly routine in favor of dipping the mattress beneath his weight and spreading his hands warm and wide across Will's back.
Will shivers, biting his lower lip, turns when Hannibal presses up close to him and lets Hannibal cup his face, kiss him fiercely. He rolls onto his back as one of Hannibal's hands pets down his stomach, finds the smile on his belly and the waistband of his underwear. Hannibal growls, buries his nose in Will's neck and breathes in deeply, hungry and wanting, and Will lifts his hips to let him push his underwear down, shivers as Hannibal's fingers immediately dip between his legs, testing the resistance of his tight, dry rim.
Hannibal answers him with another rumble, tension in his shoulders and a shudder running down his spine. "I love you, Will," he breathes, and the awful tightness in Will's throat flexes its coils, choking him like a snake. He runs his fingers through Hannibal's hair and kisses him again in answer.
"I love you too," he replies hoarsely, but cannot say anything more. He touches the edges of Hannibal's smile, lifts his head to steal his mouth in another kiss, and reaches down to grip Hannibal's thickening cock through his underwear. Hannibal growls against his mouth, pushes himself over Will and tugs at his underwear, freeing his legs and allowing them to spread.
Will kisses him, hands wide on his face, memorizing how Hannibal's jaw clenches and his throat moves as he kisses Will. Hannibal settles between his thighs, spreading him further, and he leans down to nuzzle at Will's neck, taking in another greedy breath, lips parted wide and baring his teeth over Will's throat as Will takes his cock out of his underwear. He shivers, clinging to Hannibal's nape and shoulders tightly, as Hannibal's fingers pet gently over his rim again. Too dry, but relaxed enough to slip the tip of one inside.
Will hates what he's about to say. He grits his teeth and kisses the warm arch of Hannibal's ear. "Close your eyes," he whispers. "I'll get the lube."
Hannibal nods, an answering roll of his shoulders the only indication of his own internal struggle, and Will pushes himself upright and reaches to turn the bedside lamp on. It's a weak bulb, barely strong enough to illuminate the end of the bed, and paints the air gold, but it's enough for him to fumble at the top drawer and pull the bottle out.
He pauses, and looks at Hannibal, finds that he is obediently keeping his eyes closed, his jaw and neck tense as he fights the urge to look. Will would kill a thousand men, everyone else in the world, if he could let Hannibal see him. The first time Hannibal opened his eyes, when Will was redressing his bullet wound, he'd recoiled from Will as though his touch burned. Will might live until the end of time itself and still feel the ache that had bloomed within him, seeing Hannibal's eyes darken, flash, angry and raw and snarling at him as if Will were a stranger.
He swallows when it's suddenly too painful to look at him, and turns the light back off, hears Hannibal breathe a sigh of relief that feels more like a spear through his chest than the gentle puff of air against his neck that it is. He cups Hannibal's nape and kisses him again, hands over the bottle and listens to the tiny snick of it opening, shivers as Hannibal wets his fingers and returns his touch to Will's ass.
In all things, Will has never known Hannibal to be hesitant. Hesitation implies doubt, that's what he had said all those years ago before Will earned his smile and Hannibal fled to Italy. He does not hesitate – years of medical training and, Will is sure, plenty of practical experimentation has taught him how to touch a man, how to pierce and spread Will and season him with sweat and pleasure.
But he goes slowly, like he wants to relish and savor every yielding cell in Will's body, wants to draw patterns in the air when Will exhales, wants to time the tremble of his thighs and the give of his tensing stomach to some melody only he can hear. He pushes into Will with two slick fingers, crooking them up past his rim immediately, and Will groans at the stretch, tilting his head back and blinking in the darkness. He has never been a particularly vocal bedmate – first, because he never had a space to himself and it's rude to be loud. Then, when he did, there were the dogs to consider, who would get riled up if there was too much excitement. After that, truthfully, he had no interest in finding another person to make noises for, and then, with Molly, there was a child to consider.
But Hannibal, denied one sense, is owed the full array of stimulation to the others if Will can give it. He's the most touch-starved man Will has ever known, and Will would be a fool not to have noticed how Hannibal clung to him on the cliff, how every muscle in him was so weak, so lax, that pushing him off it was as easy as falling asleep.
Hannibal's free hand cups his neck, thumbs over his thundering pulse, and Will lifts his head in obedience to the unspoken command, finds Hannibal's mouth in the darkness and kisses him fiercely, clinging to his hair, his neck, his shoulders.
"Please," he whispers when their lips part, and Hannibal growls in answer, pulls his fingers back and smears them around Will's rim. He slides forward, his knees forcing Will's thighs up, farther apart, and Will lifts his hips in readiness, gasps as Hannibal grips his hips tightly and angles Will as best he can. He refuses to stop kissing Will, and Will doesn't want him to stop – he likes swallowing Hannibal's air when they first come together, when Hannibal seats himself so deeply inside of Will they are finally, finally, one person.
Hannibal's hands tighten, and there is a single moment of stillness, before he pushes into Will with a growl, biting down on his lower lip. Will groans, yielding to Hannibal as he always has – his touch, his knife, his cock, Will takes it all. He trembles as Hannibal fucks into him, his shoulders tense and his back rolling in a high arch, heels dug into the mattress as Hannibal sinks all the way inside in one smooth thrust.
It starts as a burn in Will's chest, a helpless flutter of his heart that makes his lungs tighten, hitch, trying to contain it. He feels too tight everywhere – his tense thighs, his weak throat, so fragile Hannibal's grip might crush him. His mouth, paper-thin and fine as porcelain as Hannibal kisses him. His hands, hardly more than wisps of air as he digs his nails into Hannibal's shoulders and urges him on.
Hannibal shudders above him, iron where Will is ash, stone where he is water, and he slides his hands up Will's flanks, grips him tightly around his aching lungs, and shifts forward again, straightens his legs out and lets Will arch, seeking depth, curling his body in a way that means Hannibal can still get as deep into him as possible at this angle. He lifts his legs, hooks them high on Hannibal's back, and whines when Hannibal's hands slide to grip him on either side of his spine, and he can feel Hannibal all against him; sweat-damp chest hair burning his own warm skin, belly sunk against Will's cock, mouth still, always, on his.
He rolls over Will like a wave, blister-hot and trembling, damp with sweat, and Will lets another helpless sound escape him as Hannibal builds up a rhythm, his thrusts hard enough to make Will gasp, feeling them in his throat.
Hannibal tenses above him, mouths at his neck, breathes out heavily. "Will," he murmurs; a warning.
"No," Will whispers, shaking his head fiercely. "No, no, don't stop. Don't." This is the only way Will can touch him freely; in the darkness, where Hannibal cannot see him. When they navigate each other in daylight, Will must be careful. Must tell him 'Close your eyes' and wait to approach, must be loud and raucous and warn Hannibal of his presence. He doesn't have to do that here. The tears he had kept stubbornly back are threatening to fall again and he clenches his eyes tightly shut, trying to keep them. His head burns from the effort.
Hannibal sighs, the sound just as wretched, just as lovesick. He nuzzles Will's neck and pulls out, flattens himself over Will and arches his back so his slick cock can rut against Will's instead, giving paltry relief, but not enough for him to come.
"I'm sorry," Will breathes, clawing at his hair. "If I hadn't…" If he hadn't pushed them off the cliffs. If he hadn't fought so hard against Hannibal's influence all this time. If he hadn't sent Hannibal away and let him get arrested. If he hadn't, if he hadn't, if he hadn't…
Hannibal kisses him in answer, silencing Will's regret. He is warm, and wet, and so hard, leaking onto Will's tense stomach. Will arches his hips, grinds fiercely against him, clings to him with every limb and every muscle he has.
Once Hannibal has recovered, he flattens his hands on Will's hips, lifts him again, and fucks back in. Will's cry is ragged, raw, he feels like he's gargled glass and saltwater and it's trying to harden his heart, to steel and iron-line his lungs, but it can't. No amount of shells or casing can mend the pitiful, desperate mess inside his chest.
He buries his face in Hannibal's neck and closes his eyes, digs his heels into Hannibal's back as Hannibal starts to slow again and lets out another weak, warning sound. Will nods, drags his nails down, urges him deeper. "I love you," he whispers again, and Hannibal goes still, shudders around a trembling breath, turns his face to Will's hair and comes inside him with another soft noise. Will feels it as his cock twitches, as he empties, feels it when some leaks out around him as he starts to soften.
He slips out of Will and it feels like blood loss, makes him weak and shuddering. Hannibal is quiet, for a moment, and still, and then Will gasps as he leans up and turns the bedside lamp on. Will's lashes flutter in the sudden glow, and he stares up, meets Hannibal's eyes.
Hannibal stares at him. Looks, and looks. "Anything?" Will whispers.
Hannibal's jaw clenches, and he turns his head away.
Says, whisper-soft and as raw as Will feels; "I will always love you, Will." And his eyes close, and he lets out a defeated sound. Will can't stand it, he won't stand for it, and so he reaches up and turns off the light and Hannibal sags against him. He kisses Will's pulse, breathes in his scent, and Will hates the sound he makes; relieved and desperate and guilty as though he's begging for forgiveness. As if he has just warmed someone else's bed, filled someone else's body; the cheating husband coming home to his loving wife.
Will swallows, and rolls so that Hannibal is no longer covering him. His own arousal went cold at the absent look in Hannibal's eyes, like they are nothing but strangers, and he shivers and pulls the blankets in a tight cocoon around his shoulders. He listens to Hannibal settle behind him. Listens to him breathe. Can hear something wretched and unsteady in his inhale, aches to soothe it, knows he can't.
"Will," Hannibal says. "I'm sorry."
Will tries to remember the last time Hannibal apologized for anything. Felt guilty for anything. He can't. Somehow that's worse. He closes his eyes and turns his face to the pillow – it's Hannibal's, their positions on the bed reversed, but he won't move now. He bites his lower lip and tries to ignore the dull throb of his muscles as they try to stretch and re-center themselves.
He doesn't sleep, but he's pretty sure Hannibal doesn't either. They exist like that, two static creatures destined never to touch, God and Adam, or perhaps Pyramus and Thisbe, those old lovers who could only speak through a hole in the wall and met their tragic end. The darkness enfolds them, trying to soothe, and when dawn breaks Will is the first to rise, and once he's safely locked in the bathroom, he knows Hannibal has opened his eyes, and gone to the kitchen to make them breakfast.
Will sits in the dining room after his shower, waiting for Hannibal to finish plating their meals. Hannibal brings them out, his eyes purposely averted, and Will aches, aches awfully, as he's presented with a modest offering of eggs, bacon, and fried chipped potatoes. Hardly Hannibal's usual fare, and the presentation is certainly closer to the borders of normal than he is. Will wants to be hungry. He wants to eat.
But he remembers how many meals they have shared, eyes locked and the air thrumming with inside jokes and bantering exchanges of metaphor and promise, and his stomach tightens in a vicious coil, robbing him of his appetite.
He sighs, and rubs both hands over his face, up through his hair. "This Capgras thing," he begins, and Hannibal nods. "Is there a cure?"
"Therapy seems to be the only solution," Hannibal replies. "But I don't think it needs to be explained why that is not feasible, for men like us."
Will nods. Prescriptions, doctors peeking into their minds, publicity. Too risky. And therapy wouldn't work on either of them.
"Maybe I should leave."
He sees, out of his periphery, Hannibal freeze, and go tense.
He swallows. "You can't even look at me," he says. Hannibal's jaw clenches, bulging at the corner. "If you can't look at me, if you can't see me, then…" 'Then what's the point?' he wants to ask. What does it matter, after all the bloodshed and all the violence and all the secrecy and lies. What does it matter, when all's said and done, if Hannibal can't even stand the sight of him?
Hannibal huffs a breath. "No," he replies. Will looks at him. "I have given the matter extensive thought, and no." His eyes lift, and Will thinks again of how they had slept on each other's side of the bed last night – they've switched roles. Now Hannibal is the one who cannot make eye contact, and Will is the one tasked with yearning, longing, wanting to reach out and touch his face and whisper 'Look at me, see me, I beg you'. "I would be compelled to hunt you down, in your absence. And if you caught me by surprise…"
Will doesn't want to hear the end of that sentence. He does. Hannibal doesn't want to say it. He doesn't have to.
"I don't know what to do," he confesses. "You won't me leave, and I don't want to leave," he adds before Hannibal can reply; "But I can't stay either. I can't live like this."
Hannibal's eyes shine, dark beneath his lowered lashes. He swallows, and reaches out and Will takes his hand, squeezing tightly.
"It's just my vision that has decided to play this cruel trick on me," he murmurs. Will nods, once, slowly.
He breathes out, and doesn't suggest the alternative; Hannibal can always kill him, once and for all. Will doesn't suggest it, but instead he asks; "Could you even stomach me, now?"
Hannibal's fingers tighten, his mouth turns down in a severe scowl, and he glares at his coffee mug. That answers the question, Will supposes, and he hates that answer. He's not even worth eating anymore, because he's not Will – he's barely even an imago of Will, an imprint in Hannibal's brain of his beloved fellow monster. How could they have fought so hard and gone through so much and still ended up in the same fucking place.
He stands, food abandoned, though it makes him shiver to deny Hannibal the pleasure of knowing he has fed Will. "I'm going to the store," he says, and runs his hand through his hair again. He doesn't want distance, but it's all he can offer.
Hannibal nods, and Will turns to leave. He feels Hannibal's eyes sharp on his back. "Will," he calls, and Will turns. The second their eyes meet, he sees another flash, an impotent and outraged color that looks like blood tainting Hannibal's iris. His nostrils flare, his fingers curl. Will is the only one singularly capable of offending him just by existing, for daring to look like the man Hannibal loves.
Hannibal's lips purse, and he says, "Let me know when you're on your way back."
Will nods. He doesn't know what he expected Hannibal to say. He wishes Hannibal hadn't said anything at all.
He buys too much, because there's something to be said for retail therapy. He has his bags knotted tight around his fingers, slung over his shoulders, the kind of person who insists on taking one trip only, and curses when he fumbles for his keys, and they drop.
"Hannibal!" he calls. He receives no answer, hears no movement inside. He huffs, and sets some of the bags down, retrieving his keys and shouldering his way inside. "Hannibal?"
Again, no answer.
Will's chest goes cold, but he forces himself not to panic. Hannibal could not have gotten far, for they only own one car and he's not the kind of person to rely on a taxi. He might have taken a walk; he might be asleep, recovering from their restless night.
He goes to the kitchen, frowning when he sees the lights are still on. There's still a pan on the stove, thickly lined with grey, cooled bacon grease. Hannibal would never just leave the dishes undone. The panic flickers anew, and he abandons the groceries, and goes to search.
"Hannibal!" he calls, and wonders if he sounds as sad, as scared, as frantic as he felt in the catacombs. Wonders if Hannibal is listening, relishing the sound of his voice before the sight of him inevitably shatters the illusion.
Their plates are where he left them, Will's meal still sitting there, congealed and cold. Hannibal's coffee, half-drunk. Their chairs pushed back.
"Hannibal!" And he is frantic, now, his heart racing as he follows the trail of lights and goes upstairs, to their bedroom. There is no telltale mound in the sheets hinting at a sleeping man. But there is also no open suitcase, no missing clothes. He rubs his hand over his jaw and swallows back his panic – Hannibal forbade him from leaving, but he made no such promises, and Will has no idea where he keeps the passports and the money because moving safehouses was always Hannibal's gig.
The bathroom door is closed, but there's a light. He hears the fan whirring. He goes to the door and knocks. "Hannibal?"
There is a moment of heart-stopping silence. Then, Will smells blood. "Hannibal!"
"Yes, Will," Hannibal replies. He sounds…. He sounds off. High. Sounds like he did when they were drunk off painkillers and barely able to stand. "I'm in here. It's not locked."
Will doesn't know what he's going to see. He needs to see. He opens the door, finds that it is, indeed, unlocked, and pushes it wide open. He sees the blood first, sees it pooled and dripping off the edges of the sink. Sees a needle, uncapped and leaking a single drip of morphine. Sees the sink basin filled with red water. Sees something that looks suspiciously like a melon baller, but smaller, and with serrated edges.
Sees -. Sees Hannibal, sitting on the toilet by the counter. He has blood on his hands. There's blood on his face. He lifts his head and Will presses his knuckles to his mouth, stifles a wounded, feral-sounding noise against them.
One of Hannibal's eyes is missing. The other is greyed out, and there's a mark of a scalpel at the corner, where he assumes Hannibal must have forced something inside it to sever the nerves. His forehead and the bones of his eye sockets are thick with bruising, and blood has stained his face like a macabre weeping widow. A single bead of it falls from his nose as Will watches.
"Oh my God," he breathes. Hannibal's head tilts, and his lips twitch in a smile. His hand is curled around a single blade, and in his palm Will sees the white, gaping bulge of his eye, the severed blood vessels and nerve attachments flopped like seaweed on the hull of a ship. Will lunges to him, falls to his knees on the bloodstained floor and grips Hannibal's hand tightly, covering his fingers over the eye, as though if he keeps it in a steady hold, they will be able to reattach it.
"What -? Hannibal, what the fuck did you do?" he whispers, and cups Hannibal's face, staring up at his remaining iris, barely-colored with its original mesh of brown and red and whiskey-gold. The gaping hole where his other eye was is so bruised and swollen Will can hardly see the innards of it, but it's openly weeping blood.
Hannibal smiles at him, and he must be in a lot of pain, but that smile, oh God, that smile. It's how he used to smile at Will. It's how he hasn't smiled since they fell. "It's alright, darling," he says quietly, and reaches for Will's face. Even blind, he can find it, and Will's eyes burn, flooded with water. His greyed eye flashes to Will, and he lets out a content, humming sound. "I can see you now."
Will doesn't know what to call the sound he makes. Doesn't know what the name of this emotion is. Shock, a deep ache, frantic, howling, what the fuck did Hannibal do?
He reaches up with a shaking hand, pushing Hannibal's swollen eyelid up to bare the empty hole. More blood leaks out, though it's a slow, single, thick drip. He can't deny that Hannibal did a good job – there's no extraneous tearing, no unnecessary damage.
"Why?" he breathes. Shudders. Oh God, why?
Hannibal smiles at him, warm and full of adoration. He pets his thumb over Will's wet cheek, mixing blood and saltwater – poetic, Will thinks, even as he sobs and lowers his head, cups the hand holding Hannibal's severed eye and kisses his bloody knuckles.
"Will," Hannibal murmurs, and cups his face, lifting it. He touches Will's tears, and gives him another warm, affectionate smile. He leans down and Will angles himself to meet him, tasting Hannibal's blood, sweet with morphine, coating his lips. Hannibal sighs, and he sounds so happy, the singularly most joyful man in the world. "Don't cry, my love. I can see you now."
In answer, Will can only sob.
"You didn't have to do this," he says.
Hannibal laughs, and cradles Will's hand in his own, so that his severed eye is held between them. He tightens his fist and Will whimpers as he feels the delicate organ crush between their knuckles, no going back now.
"There's no reason to weep," Hannibal tells him. Will shivers. He sounds so much more like himself. "I have made myself perfectly content – now, I can look at you, and remember you, and love you freely." Will swallows. There's not enough air in the room, it's too bloody, too raw.
He lifts his eyes, touches the little clotting line on the side of the eye Hannibal chose to keep. "Can you actually see me?" he whispers.
Hannibal hums, and Will watches the dim iris move, raking him up and down. "A shadow," he replies with a nod. "An outline, that is easily filled with your true likeness." He smiles. "Something both my conscious and unconscious mind can look upon, and love."
Will slides his hand from Hannibal's, wincing at the sight of pale, off-pink matter clinging to his skin.
"You'll have to forgive me," Hannibal adds. "I would have saved it for you to eat, but it was damaged, and I would never serve you bad meat."
Will wants to laugh. He wants to cry. He wants to tear out one of his own eyes and give it back – he would, if he thought it would help. He wants to divvy up his organs and his bones and recreate every piece of himself in Hannibal's body, beneath his skin.
He does none of that. Merely cups Hannibal's cheeks in gentle hands and lifts to his knees, and kisses the scarred piece of skin on his temple that broke him so badly. Kisses his swollen forehead, holding that brilliance that Will has always been so drawn to.
Kisses his brow, above his empty eye socket, mindful of the swelling. Kisses the bridge of his nose, wet with sweat and blood.
Kisses his lips, and trembles when Hannibal answers him in kind, unblinking, eye wide open.
Will pulls back with a ragged gasp, his vision blurring, too wet to see. "I love you so much," he whispers, and Hannibal's smile is blinding – he has given fuel for his radiance, his transformation. They're shifting course again, evolving, adapting, as they always have. Will swallows, and stands. "I'm going to go get some ice for the swelling, and stuff to help you clean up." Hannibal nods. "Wait here for me?"
"Of course, Will," Hannibal replies. Will does not flee from the bathroom, for that implies he wants to get away from what he left behind, but he moves with incredible haste, retrieving Hannibal's emergency kit from the hallway closet which is much better stocked than their little bathroom first aid kit. He gathers fresh, warm water, and towels, and antibacterial soap, and hurries back upstairs to find Hannibal just as he'd left him, sitting on the toilet, idly drumming his bloody fingers against his knees.
Hannibal looks up, breathes in. Smiles widely, and Will has to take a moment to remember how good it feels when Hannibal smiles at him like that. It's been so long, he's raw with it, his own kind of touch-starvation that seeks, not physical closeness, but the intimacy they once shared. A version of Hannibal that does not flinch and recoil from the sight of him, that can only kiss him in the dark.
He enters the bathroom slowly and sinks to his knees with the same reverence as a supplicant before an altar, and takes the scalpel from Hannibal's hand, setting it in the sink to wash later. He takes a cloth, wets it in his own fresh water, and begins to gently clean Hannibal's hands. He is no stranger to caring for Hannibal, and the rushed instructions between bouts of unconsciousness come back to him.
"When did you take the morphine?" he asks.
Hannibal hums. "What time is it?"
Will huffs, and checks his watch. "Ten-thirty."
"Half an hour," Hannibal replies with a nod. Will presses his lips together, and swallows.
"You're a stupid son of a bitch," he mutters.
Hannibal laughs, and for a moment Will has to freeze and remember how to breathe. It's been so long since he heard it; Hannibal laughs low, like the sound is being drawn out of him and into the air by a hook.
"I had everything perfectly under control," he replies. Will doesn't doubt that he believes that. He doesn't even really doubt that it's true.
"Still," he replies, and settles on his heels once Hannibal's hands are clean.
Hannibal laughs, and interrupts Will's task of rinsing the cloth, leaning in and taking his chin in a gentle grip. He tilts Will up, and leans down, kissing him passionately – it lingers, stealing the breath from Will's burning lungs, making his heart pulse strongly and his stomach tense, fingers clenching around the wet, pink cloth still held in his hands. He shivers, parts his lips for Hannibal's tongue, tastes coffee and blood and moans weakly as Hannibal's other hand slides through his hair, grips him tightly at the nape.
The kiss ends, and Will swallows, flattens his hand gently, so gently, over Hannibal's swollen cheek. "Thank you for doing this for me," he murmurs, for he knows what it is; it's a gift, as bloody and visceral as all the other gifts Hannibal has given him. "You didn't have to. You know I would have never asked you to."
"I know," Hannibal replies with a warm smile. "And that is one of the many, many reasons why I love you."
Will vision blurs again, and he leans in and presses his mouth to Hannibal's jaw, kisses there chaste and light, and then sits back when Hannibal releases him, wetting the cloth again and rising to his knees so that he can wash Hannibal's face.
He is very careful, but thorough, ignoring Hannibal's subtle flinches and the curl of his fingers when he brushes over a tender area. When he is clean, Will isn't sure how to stymy the blood flow from his empty socket, so he merely takes a thick wad of gauze and tapes it over. The other little scar has already clotted, so he cleans it and secures another bandage over it, and kisses Hannibal's scarred temple when he's finished.
He stands, and takes Hannibal's hands, helping him to his feet. "Careful," he murmurs, unsure how far Hannibal's vision extends. Guiding Hannibal out of the bathroom and to the bed brings with it a sudden, giddy kind of anticipation. It's been a long, long time since Hannibal was anything close to dependent on him, and though his vision is not totally gone, there is a lot he will not be able to do while he recovers and adapts to the learning curve of navigating the world with compromised sight.
He lays Hannibal down on his side of the bed and tucks him in, another wave of elation swamping him when he realizes he doesn't need to turn off the light – that he can lean down, and kiss Hannibal openly, and loves how Hannibal smiles and arches up against him, clinging right back.
"I've gotta go clean up, and put the groceries away," Will says, for Hannibal would be annoyed if all the food spoiled and so much was left uncleaned. It's Will's turn, now, to hold the reins and keep the home. He finds himself looking forward to it more than he would have thought.
Hannibal smiles, and nods, releasing him. "I'll be here," he replies, and Will's cheeks ache with how wide he smiles, because he will be, he will be here. Right here, where Will can see him, and touch him, and love him how he always wanted to.
This time, when the tears fall, they are ones of joy, and when he kisses Hannibal again, and again, and Hannibal steals a single drop from his cheek, he thinks Hannibal can tell the difference. He sees Hannibal smile, warm and wide and so utterly content, and knows he can.