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Changing the Rules

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The pharmacist read Hannibal’s prescription before lifting his head slowly to give Will an appraising look.

"These suppressants have to be taken twice daily, at the same time each day," the pharmacist said, peering at Will through lenses so thick that his eyes looked cartoonishly gigantic. Will squirmed, hating how difficult it was to avoid looking into this man's eyes. "They'll wear off very quickly otherwise."

Will gave a jerky nod of his head. The man looked at him for another long second before turning away to fetch his pills. Will still hadn't decided if he really was going to use the suppressants that Hannibal had recommended, but his supply of suppressants was low and the opportunity to get any suppressants without all the usual hassle was too good to pass up.

"They've only been on the market a few months, you know," the pharmacist said reprovingly when he returned.

"OK," Will shuffled, his gaze sliding away from the pharmacist and latching onto the packets of condoms on display next to the counter. The boxes of beta condoms were all packaged discreetly in dark colors, in stark contrast to the brightly colored packets of alpha condom boxes. Will blushed, suddenly flustered. The pharmacist had to be made to believe that he was an alpha, which meant that he had to maintain his composure. “How much - “

“There have been incidents, you know,” the pharmacist paused in the act of handing Will his drugs, angling the paper bag back slightly so that Will couldn’t quite reach it. “With Diocyn. I had a young fella in here the other day who took his evening pill an hour later than he shoulda. Stunk up the restaurant so bad they called the cops on him.”

“Huh?” Will grunted. He wanted to get out, to get away from the man’s large, bulging eyes, but he was still surprised by his story.

“Public indecency,” the pharmacist nodded sagely, leaning forwarded and handing Will his suppressants. Will wasn’t sure he believed the story; the restaurant might have asked a freely scenting alpha to leave but he wouldn’t have been arrested for it. “Not really his fault, but that’s what I’m saying, Diocyn is going to get a lot of alphas into trouble and in six months they’ll be off the market. You get your doctor to prescribe you something else.”

Will nodded and fumbled as he got his wallet out of his pocket. He was sure that Hannibal knew exactly what he was doing by prescribing these pills to Will. The only question was why had Hannibal done it. Was it because he thought that Will would mess up taking his pills at the right times and be exposed as an omega, or was it because Hannibal wanted Will on a suppressant that only stayed in his system for a couple of hours; because he wanted to claim Will for himself and wanted to be able to do it without waiting too long for the suppressants to leave his body. Will hoped it was the latter.

He grinned savagely as he paid the pharmacist; who looked at him in alarm and took his money silently.

Afterwards, he drove back to work and sat outside in the parking lot, reading the instruction leaflet that had come with his suppressants. It was risky to start taking them before he was certain of Hannibal’s motivations in wanting him on this particular brand of suppressants. He weighed up his options as he regarded the innocuous looking pill in the palm of his hand. Still not sure if he was doing the right thing, he swallowed it dry. He only choked on it a very little bit.

Returning to his desk, he was already feeling different. He’d taken his first step in making the Chesapeake Ripper into his mate. He was showing Hannibal that he trusted him, that he was a trustworthy potential mate.

There was a stack of paperwork on his desk, most of them were forensic reports from Ripper crime scenes; full of the sort of minutiae that only the agents who truly cared about their jobs actually read. Will opened the top folder, rifling through it distractedly. There was no point in him investigating the Ripper further, he knew who he was, all he had to do now was catch him - although he wouldn’t be handing Hannibal over to Crawford.

Will slumped in his chair, bored by the endless pile of reports but occasionally rousing himself when he stumbled upon the odd crime scene photo and he could pause to admire Hannibal’s handiwork; to imagine what Hannibal had looked like as he committed these atrocities. What Hannibal would look like as he hunted for food for his family.

His phone rang, the ringtone was quiet but the phone vibrated noisily against the wood of his desk. It was embarrassingly loud. He grabbed at it quickly, answering hurriedly.

"William? It's Hannibal."

"Hi," Will looked around quickly. A few agents had glanced up to see what the disturbance was, but no-one was watching him now. He pressed the phone to his ear so that no one could eavesdrop.

"I wanted to invite you to my home for dinner, Will. I hope that isn't too forward, but I enjoy cooking for my friends."

Will took a quick breath. He'd never been able to flirt, he was too awkward, too able to see the emotions that lay behind the words. Flirting was entire sordid conversations smeared with lust, and it had always made his stomach churn. Now he wished he’d been paying more attention.

"Is that what we are? Friends?" Will asked, his tone brusque when he meant to sound interested. He leaned down, his forehead resting on the edge of his desk.

"I certainly hope so."

Will lifted his head to check again that no one was near him.

"If you'd be more comfortable meeting in my office then -"

"No!" Will interrupted, "No, I'd like that."

He could imagine exactly how Hannibal’s lips were curling into a smile at Will’s enthusiasm.

“Perfect,” Hannibal said, and now Will could hear the smile in his voice. Will smiled back, unseen. He wasn’t used to feeling this happy, or to causing those around him happiness. It was a nice feeling and one that he wanted to get used too. He wanted an entire lifetime filled with the ease with which Hannibal spoke to him. “And, of course, this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss how you are faring on Diocyn.”

“Oh,” Will blinked, his smile falling from his face and his happy little fantasy shattered. Perhaps Hannibal didn’t want him at all. Perhaps he just saw Will as an omega, somebody to be toyed with out of intellectual curiosity, but nothing more. The Chesapeake Ripper didn’t need a mate, he didn’t need a liability like Will in his life. “Oh, yeah, that would, that’s great. Thank you.”

“Next Friday then? Seven o’clock?”

“Yeah,” Will breathed down the phone. He could hear the way his breath crackled into Hannibal’s ear.

“Goodbye, Will Graham.”

The line went dead before Will could echo his good bye. Will gave an annoyed sigh.

“Bye, alpha,” Will said softly into the phone. It was inappropriate to call someone by their secondary gender; he wouldn’t have done it if he thought that Hannibal could actually hear him. He’d thought that Hannibal had hung up already, but he could hear the soft sound of laughter over the phone and then a click as Hannibal actually ended the call.

Will blushed and looked around. No-one was paying him any attention, all the other agents were just going about their business, completely unaware that Will had just been talking to the man they were all hunting. It made Will feel powerful in a way that he’d never felt before. He knew something that no-one else did. He wasn’t just a scared little omega anymore.

Will smiled and looked back down at his papers.

The week passed quickly. The new suppressants did make Will feel better. There was none of the soreness that so often seemed to linger in his bones after a ghost heat. He wasn’t sure if the relief was purely physical or it came from his own happiness at finding Hannibal.

Will arrived ridiculously early to Hannibal’s house. He’d been so worried about being late that he ended up being half an hour early. He parked and sat in his car, checking the time every few seconds. After five, agonising, minutes, he gave up and got out of the car to stretch his legs. Down the road, past the row of formidable looking houses, was a small park. Will ambled his way towards it, more interested in killing time than actually getting anywhere.

He reached the park and checked his watch. The walk had only taken him a few minutes. He half turned, suddenly deciding that he would simply knock on Hannibal’s door early, despite how rude that would be.

A dog ran up to him. He was an old, white pitbull with a bright orange ball in his mouth. The dog dropped the ball at Will’s feet and looked up at him, his lips twisting into an almost human grin.

“Hello there,” Will said, bending down and putting his hand out for the dog to sniff, but the dog skittered away. He had clearly only approached Will for his ball throwing abilities. Will picked the ball up and threw it. The dog happily scampered after it.

Will looked around to see any sign of the dog’s owner and, sure enough, there was a young man walking quickly towards him. Will looked away, watching the simple joy of the dog as he brought his ball back to Will. Once again, the pitbull dropped the ball at Will’s feet and refused to be petted, the animal’s eyes trained wilfully on the orange ball.

He smiled, the animal’s easy enthusiasm was infectious and he forgot about the dog’s approaching owner as he threw the ball again.

“I’m sorry,” the young man called out, panting slightly as he stopped next to Will. “He gets so excited when he sees new people.”

Will looked at the man’s shoes; they were expensive but caked with mud. Will didn’t look up. The man’s body language was apologetic and non-threatening; he was almost definitely a beta. There was a scent to him though; it was strange and slightly sweet and somehow utterly good even though there was a trace of alpha in it. Will frowned as he tried to puzzle out the mystery of this young man’s scent.

The man had been around an omega and it was that which Will was smelling. That slight trace of alpha was because the omega was mated and carried his alpha’s scent too. Will had never smelled another omega before.

“That’s fine,” Will muttered. The dog came back, dropping the ball at Will’s feet.

He hesitated, not sure if he should continue throwing the ball for the dog now that his master was here. With a shrug Will threw the ball again, slightly further than before. The dog leapt into a full run; he looked so happy as he tried to jump into the air and catch the ball before it landed.

“Are you…? I don’t mean to be rude, but do you live around here? I haven’t seen you before,” the beta asked. Will looked up. His eyes flickered over a surprisingly young and chiseled face before darting up to look into the man’s eyes. He could see a mania there, a desperate need to prove himself that verged on fanaticism. Will looked away. The stranger was an alpha.

“I’m visiting a friend.”

The dog had the ball in his mouth, but he was trotting back to Will slowly, as if he knew that playtime was over.

“Oh, that’s a shame. I think Bruno was hoping he’d made a new friend.”

The dog padded over to them and sat down, looking up at them with the ball still in his mouth.

“Bruno the dog?” Will asked. The young man nodded, blushing slowly until his cheeks were bright red. The man’s nervousness put Will at ease. He was usually the socially awkward one that stammered and blushed his way through conversations. Even though this man was an alpha, Will felt confident and sure of himself. With Hannibal in his life it didn’t matter what other people thought of him. Will smiled, truly at ease with talking to an alpha for the first time in years.

“He’s my parent’s dog,” the alpha said, bending down. Bruno let the alpha pet him, panting happily. It was strange to see an alpha take such a submissive position, but Will didn’t doubt that the young man was, indeed, an alpha.

“I’d better go,” Will said, risking one more glance into the stranger’s eyes. This man yearned, he ached with a passion that consumed him. Will could see the man’s lack of empathy and his need for greatness at any cost. “My friend will be waiting.”

The alpha looked so painfully young, still bent to pet his parent’s dog, that Will flashed him a sudden smile; wide and more genuinely sincere, before he turned to leave.

“Bye,” the alpha called out after Will as he walked away.

He was still ten minutes early when he rang Hannibal’s front door bell.

It had been a week since Will had seen the alpha, but the man had never been far from his thoughts. Every night he’d taken his dildo to bed with him and imagined it was Hannibal’s cock that he was pressing into his eager hole. The sight of Hannibal himself, looking powerful as he opened his front door, made Will’s ass twitch in recognition.

“Will,” Hannibal smiled and stood aside, “Do come in.”

In all Will’s dreams and imaginings about how this evening would go, he’d never once thought to be scared of Hannibal. Yet, here Will was, willingly stepping into the home of the Chesapeake Ripper and he still wasn’t afraid.

Hannibal offered to take his jacket with a silently extended hand. The gesture surprised Will. He wasn't used to people being so gracious, not towards him at least. He’d spent the last week thinking about this meeting, why hadn’t he put more thought into planning what he would say? Why was he so poorly prepared?

There was a faint whiff of alpha.

Hannibal must occasionally just walk around his house, scenting the place. Perhaps Hannibal used a fast fading suppressant himself, or maybe he sometimes forewent his suppressants entirely. Either way, the smell was delicious; like polished leather stained with blood. If Will weren’t on suppressants himself, and his omegan reactions nullified, then he would have got slick from just that faint trace of Hannibal’s scent alone. It was potent and strong and so heady. It was so rare for him to scent any alpha that, by contrast, Hannibal’s scent was almost overwhelming. Will opened his mouth slightly, to better catch the alpha’s scent.

"I admit I had an ulterior motive in asking you here tonight," Hannibal stood aside, guiding Will further into the house with his hand not quite touching Will's back. The room he brought Will into was lit only by a small fire burning in the grate. In front of the fireplace there was a large box. Something wriggled in the box, obviously alive, but Will couldn't make out what it was in the dim red glow of the firelight. "I have a friend who breeds Dalmatians, she euthanizes any pups that are deaf. However I was able to rescue this one. She can only hear in one ear, but I thought you would be able to overlook that."

Will knelt down next to the box, reaching in to stroke the soft fur. A white face stared mournfully back at him with sad little eyes. Her black spotted ears looked ridiculously large. Will tickled the skin behind her ears and she squirmed closer to him. Will blinked back a tear. The puppy was beautiful and Will was besotted already.

"You're giving her to me?" Will choked, his eyes not leaving the puppy.

"If you'll have her," Hannibal said softly. He had crouched down just behind Will and reached out to stroke the dog. His blunt fingers didn't quite touch Will's as they both petted the Dalmatian.

"I," Will bit his lip. Of course he wanted the homeless puppy, but he hesitated. "I want to. Sometimes I have to travel for work and..." Will trailed off. He'd tried to think of other reasons why he shouldn't have a dog aside from being an omega, but he'd always just been fooling himself. That was the only reason he didn't have a whole pack of dogs. He turned to look at Hannibal, whose face was much closer than he'd been expecting. The puppy licked his fingers as soon as he turned away, before chewing softly on his fingertips.

"You can leave her with me whenever you're called away."

The firelight picked out Hannibal's sharp cheekbones, casting the rest of his face into shadow. He looked inhuman, but no human had ever done anything this kind for Will. Simply saying 'thank you' wasn't enough. He wanted to hug Hannibal, to push himself back into Hannibal's arms, but he didn't know how.

He looked the Chesapeake Ripper in the face and smiled.

He could recognize that Hannibal was binding him to him; through obligation and affection, but Will had no intention of rejecting hm. He was enjoying it, welcoming it even.

The puppy's head was resting in his hand, and Will turned back to look at her again. Kneeling between Hannibal and the dog, he felt content in a way he couldn’t remember feeling before. He wanted to spend his life like this, feeling this kind of happiness. The puppy yawned, her small eyes blinking shut as she struggled to stay awake.

"I'm afraid she’s had rather a tiring day. Would you join me in a glass of wine while I put the finishing touches on our meal?"

Will lowered the puppy’s head so that it lay on the blanket that lined her box and gave her back a final, loving, stroke. Hannibal’s eyes were still on him, the red of the firelight disguising the red of his eyes. He could see Hannibal’s desire for him, the lust and the unquenchable curiosity, but it would not be so simple to make the Ripper truly treasure him in the way that Will yearned for. He wanted to be loved, fiercely and possessively, for the rest of his life.

Will nodded and Hannibal stood up. He did not offer his hand to Will to help him stand. Will averted his eyes as he found himself, still kneeling, with his face in front of Hannibal’s crotch.

“Does she,” Will coughed as he stood up, “Does she have a name?”

“I admit,” Hannibal said, leading Will through the house and to his kitchen; meticulously cleaned work surfaces gleamed at Will. This was where Hannibal butchered his trophies in an act of complete mastery and triumph over his victims. “That since I picked her up this afternoon I have been calling her Perdita.”

Will’s lips twitched in a grin. He doubted that Hannibal had really cared enough to call the dog anything. He was lying because he wanted to be the one to name Will’s pet, he wanted Will to have a permanent reminder of just who had given him the puppy that he’d been longing for. It was such a sweet piece of manipulation that Will couldn’t stop himself from grinning more broadly.

“Perdita? I like it. Alright, Perdita it is.”

Hannibal preened, his shoulders pushed back to make his chest look bigger as he handed Will a glass of wine. Will wondered if Hannibal was even aware of what he was doing.

“A toast then, to Perdita and her new place in the world,” Hannibal raised his own glass of wine, waiting for Will to make a move. Will raised his glass, touching it lightly against Hannibal’s so that the two glasses clinked. The wine was blood red but it felt acidic in his mouth. Will swallowed quickly and put his glass down.

“Not to your taste?” Hannibal asked, half turning away to stir a pot of something on his stove. Will didn’t let the move fool him into thinking that he was no longer the center of Hannibal’s attention.

“I’m,” Will swallowed, aware of the sudden tension in the air and he realised how much Hannibal prided himself on the delicacies that he offered his guests. “Not used to drinking wine. More of a whiskey drinker.”

Will had been so certain that Hannibal would be fascinated by him. He was an omega working for the FBI on Hannibal’s case, he should have been the perfect bait. But Will felt awkward, suddenly unsure of himself. He’d never seduced anyone before. He’d never been a sexual person, despite the public image of omegas as some sort of semi-mythical sex kitten. He picked up his wine glass again, his fingers fumbling with the stem. His plan had seemed so simple but, now that he was faced with a powerful, murderous alpha, his entire plan seemed ludicrous.

“Would you like something else? I have some beer that I made myself.”

“You make your own beer?” Will asked in surprise. He hadn’t expected Hannibal’s culinary skill to run as far as it did; he wondered how Hannibal managed to make use of his victims in his home-made beer. “No, no this is fine.”

Hannibal gave him a satisfied nod, making Will feel like he’d passed some sort of test. He was the one who knew what Hannibal was, he should be the one in control here. He squared his shoulders resolutely and picked up his wine glass again. He sniffed at it delicately, letting the wine slosh in the glass but not taking another sip.

“Have you been taking the Diocyn?” Hannibal asked, his tone was all professional concern, but there was a stillness to his face that Will knew had to be important.

“Yeah,” Will patted his pocket so that the small bottle of pills rattled noisily. It was another hour before he was due to take his second pill for the day.

“Good. It is troublesome to have to carry medication at all times, but Diocyn has the advantage of being extremely fast acting. Personally, I prefer suppressants that allow me to enjoy my natural scent in the privacy of my own home. Have you noticed any physical changes since changing suppressants?”

“No,” Will licked his lower lip, he could taste the acid of the wine there and he resisted the urge to wipe his lips with his hand. “I guess I won’t see any differences until my next ghost heat, right?”

Hannibal nodded and Will knew, with absolute crystal-clear certainty that Hannibal didn’t intend for him to ever have another ghost heat. He wanted Will; to fuck him, to bond him, to dominate him in ways that Will hadn’t even begun to imagine. This wasn’t what Will wanted. He wanted to be cherished; possessed without being destroyed by the force of Hannibal’s ego. The wine glass slipped from through Will’s fingers and crashed to the ground. Will looked down at it slowly. Had he deluded himself into thinking that the Ripper could offer him what he wanted? The wine poured against the marble flooring, seeping into the gaps between the tiles.

“Fu - I’m sorry!” Will spluttered, getting down onto his knees to pick up the shards of glass. “I don’t know what happened!”

He looked up and saw that Hannibal was standing beside him, his hand outstretched.

“Give me the glass,” Hannibal said smoothly. Will put the broken glass into the palm of Hannibal’s hand, being careful not to cut either of them. “Be careful, Will. The wine will stain if you get any on your clothes.”

“Shit,” Will muttered, standing quickly. Nothing about this evening was going as he’d imagined it would. “Let me clean this up.”

“Nonsense, you are my guest,” Hannibal said, obviously bemused as he wrapped the broken glass in kitchen paper towels and threw them away. He took more paper towels off the roll and shot Will a considering look. “Allow me to tidy this up. Would you go and check to make sure the noise didn’t disturb Perdita?”

Will hid his frown and left the kitchen. Hannibal was too quick to assume that Will would obey him unquestioningly; that Will was some weak-willed omega. He fumed, angry at himself for thinking that courting the Ripper would be easy and angry at Hannibal for having underestimated him. He put his hand on the puppy’s back and lifted one of her little paws. Perdita yawned, stretched and peered up at Will, struggling to keep her eyes open. Will wondered if Hannibal had drugged her so that she wouldn’t disturb their evening.

“Will?” Hannibal called softly from the doorway, “Come and eat with me.”

Hannibal’s soft tone didn’t pacify Will. They hadn’t even bonded and the alpha was already trying to dominate him, giving him commands rather than the polite entreaties that he probably used on his beta guests. Will followed Hannibal to the dining room, his head lowered demurely, but he was already making changes to his plans.

The dining room was beautifully laid out and Hannibal presented Will with his food with all the theater that human organs deserved. Will had been expecting the ostentatious presentation of the food, but the sheer amount of skill came as a surprise. The sauteed liver smelled delicious and Will found his mouth watering, even though he knew the meat was human. Beneath the pleasant smell of food there was still that faint trace of Hannibal’s alpha virility, and it made Will feel oddly jittery and nervous.

“This is,” Will said, swallowing his first mouthful, “Amazing, delicious.” He licked his lips, chasing the taste of human flesh. The last Ripper victim had not had his liver removed. This meat had come from someone else. Hannibal must be a much more prolific killer than either Will or the FBI had supposed.

“It is always a pleasure to cook for someone else. I do enjoy having others for dinner,” Hannibal said with a dark smile. Will closed his eyes, ostensibly to savour his second forkful of liver, but mostly to hide his reaction to Hannibal’s terrible pun. “Tell me more about yourself, Will. Have you always worked for the FBI?”

Will took a sip of his acidic wine, noticing that the food on Hannibal’s plate was completely untouched.

“No, I used to be a cop.”

“You were always drawn to law enforcement. Why do you suppose that was?”

Will looked around the opulence of Hannibal’s dining room and doubted that he would ever be able to understand the appeal that joining the police force had had for Will when he was younger.

“Did you invite me here to psychoanalyse me?” If Will could use his empathy as a bait to get Hannibal’s attention then he would, despite how much he loathed the usual tricks of psychiatry.

“Not at all. We are both observant people. I don’t believe that either of us can control that, no matter how much we might wish to,” Hannibal’s tone was entirely unapologetic. “You must know that I find you intriguing. We live in a society that venerates omegas and yet you chose never to reveal yourself as one, instead you chose a career path that most people would think was beneath you.”

“Beneath me?” Will coughed. “Are you saying that being a kept omega is somehow more, what, honorable? Than working for the FBI?”

“Many would say just that.”

Will bit back his sarcastic reply. This was Hannibal trying to convince him to quit the FBI and become his. The only reason he wasn’t taking Will by force was because he was such a narcissist that he wanted Will to beg for it first. To come to him willingly. Will glanced subconsciously at Hannibals’ long fingers as they cradled the handle of his fork, wrapping around it in a way that was bordering on sexual. He blushed and took a sip of wine.

“What made you apply to the FBI?”

Will put his wine glass down; he really couldn’t afford to drink too much and get too relaxed in front of Hannibal; he sat up a little straighter in his chair.

“A knife in the back. I was in New Orleans for a few years. I think I always knew that I’d get found out eventually, someone would look at me and know that I was an omega and then I’d be forced to give up whatever life I’d chosen. I wanted to be able to say that being an omega didn’t have to mean that. I wanted to be able to point to my time as being a cop and say, ‘look, an omega did that!’” Will took another swig of wine. Flavor burst on his tongue, too dry and too bitter, and he coughed shallowly before continuing, “And then I got in between two alphas fighting over some beta."

Hannibal's top lip flattened slightly, hardly showing his reaction at all. If the alpha were anyone else he would have been sneering but Will could see what he was thinking anyway; that those two alphas were fools to fight over a lowly beta when they had been in the presence of an omega. They were swine and, if Hannibal ever found out their names, he would track them down and kill them for their rudeness. Will hid his smirk as his confidence returned.

He was going to woo Hannibal, he’d make the man see him as more than an omega to be toyed with. They would be equals. They would have no secrets. And Will would be spared a lifetime of poor cannibal related puns.

“I applaud your ingenuity and perseverance, Will. But I must wonder, is it fair that you must hide your true nature? You are the most beautiful creature that I have ever encountered, but you hide yourself away with drugs, facial hair and scruffy clothes.”

Will almost flinched and he stared down at his plate. He’d always found the idea that he was supposed to be attractive as comical. He knew what he looked like and it was not the epitome of beauty that everyone seemed to assume omegas to be. All Will’s plans for courting Hannibal were based around showing him what an interesting mind he had. He had no idea how to use his body as an enticement, and it seemed ridiculous that Hannibal could see him that way.

“My clothes are nice. They’re fine,” Will muttered, pulling at his sleeve. Hannibal put a piece of meat in his mouth and chewed it smugly. Hannibal swallowed slowly, savouring the taste and the victory for a second, and began to speak again.

“I dislike having to take suppressants. I cannot show my face in public without pretending to be a beta, yet I am clearly so much more than that. As, indeed, are you. It is society’s fault that you feel the need to hide.”

Will gave a half-hearted shrug. He’d expected Hannibal’s manipulations to be subtler but it made him rather proud that Hannibal was being so forthright. He must want Will very much.

“I can’t exactly stop taking suppressants.”

“No,” Hannibal demurred, “Of course not.”

Will kept his eyes on his plate, painfully aware of the mess he was making of Hannibal’s beautiful creation. A bonded omega would take on some of the scent of their alpha. If Will bonded to Hannibal then his alpha would want him to stop taking suppressants. That was all very well for an omega who stayed at home all day, but Will had a job. He couldn’t walk around the BAU scenting freely, even if his omega scent was muted by the scent of Hannibal.

Will glanced up. He didn’t mean to catch Hannibal’s eye, or see the enquiring tilt of Hannibal’s head, or the desperation in the tightness of his lips. The Ripper was hiding just beneath Hannibal’s civilized and polished surface and Will could see him as clearly as he could see Hannibal’s loneliness and boredom. He saw how much Hannibal wanted Will in his life, despite Hannibal’s unwillingness to trust the omega.

The sense of unease that he’d felt before seemed to dissipate. Hannibal was a clever man. Possibly the cleverest man Will had ever met, because no one else had ever worked out the secret of his gender. Hannibal would come to realize that the two of the them could forge a good life together.

Will speared a piece of liver and wondered who it had come from. One day, in the not too distant future, he’d be able to simply ask Hannibal.

He didn’t stay for dessert. He needed to think and plan the next stage of his campaign for the heart of the Chesapeake Ripper. Being in Hannibal’s house, watching him eat and smelling that tantalising hint of his alpha scent was too much for Will. If he stayed too long with Hannibal then he knew he would be tempted to throw all his ideas away and ask Hannibal to take him that very evening.

Will left early, but he took Perdita with him.

Perdita snored quietly, still inside her box as Will drove back to Wolf Trap, stopping only at a store to get some dog food. Even arriving at her new home couldn’t truly wake her up as she trailed after Will with droopy eyes and sluggish steps. He’d never had a dog before and he had no idea how she would behave tomorrow, when he would have to go to work and leave her alone in the house.

He stayed up late, tidying up and clearing away anything that an anxious puppy might chew on. In the morning he overslept. For once his bed wasn’t cold and lonely as he wake up warm and curled up next to his first dog. She licked his face and jumped out of bed, eager to be let outside.

Going to work that morning was a wrench. He could hear Perdita making pathetic whining noises, begging him to come back, long after he locked the front door. It was almost physically painful to get in his car and leave her behind. He knew she would be bored and lonely all day long. He wished he could just stay home with her.

When he did, finally get to his desk, his thoughts still occupied by how Perdita would react to his absence, Lass was waiting for him.

“Will,” she began, “Crawford was looking for us, he wanted to talk to both of us together. I had to tell him that you weren’t in yet.”

He took his jacket off, walking around her to sling it over the back of his chair. Ignoring her was easier today.

“Then let’s go and find him,” he said flippantly. Lass frowned at him, pursing her lips in annoyance. Will knew she was not enjoying his new found confidence. The two of them walked to Crawford’s office; Lass marching primly ahead, while Will ambled along behind her.

“Lass, Graham,” Crawford barked out from behind them as they were still in the corridor. The commanding beta strode towards them. Will turned lazily as Lass hurried back, eager to impress her boss in any way she could. “Any leads from the hospital admissions log?”

“No, sir,” Lass said quickly before adding slyly, “I’ve checked all but one of the ER staff that night, sir.”

“One?” Crawford gave her a heavy, accusing glare.

“Graham spoke to Lecter instead,” Lass said eagerly, but Will could see that Crawford was not as impressed as Lass had been hoping. He disliked her inability to work as part of a team.

“I was going to see him anyway, and so I asked him what he remembered,” Will said, watching Crawford’s forehead now that his heavy glare was aimed at him. He could not allow Crawford to connect Hannibal and the Ripper in any way.

“You know Dr Lecter?” Crawford looked at him, the glare becoming a slow, appraising stare.

“Yeah, we’re friends,” Will said, his eyes on the wrinkle between Crawford’s eyes. The wrinkle in Jack’s forehead deepened, as if he couldn’t imagine Will having any friends at all. It was a fair assumption and Will felt a little presumptuous for calling Hannibal his friend. “Well, we’re friendly.”

“Huh. Have you sampled his cooking? I've heard amazing things about his dinner parties, although I don't know the man personally,” Crawford leaned forward conspiratorially. Will chanced a look into his eyes and saw a camaraderie that he’d never seen there before. He smiled, relaxing slightly.

“Yeah, he’s very good,” Will didn’t mean to inject so much pride into his words, but Crawford didn’t seem to care. He clapped Will on the shoulder with a hearty thump that Will wasn’t expecting. He braced himself, not stumbling more from sheer will-power than actual muscle strength.

“You’ll have to introduce me sometime,” Crawford said in a friendly tone that he never used with his agents. Will tried to stand a little straighter and give every indication of the sort of pride that an alpha would have in this situation.

“Sure,” Will tried to grin, but it felt sloppy and unnatural and he still couldn’t quite meet Crawford’s eyes.

“Great,” Crawford said curtly, his friendliness already vanishing as he turned away. Lass looked back and forth between the two of them, her eyes wide with disappointment and betrayal.

Will went back to his desk. He closed all the folders, shoved papers away as he slowly cleared his desk. He knew who the Chesapeake Ripper was and he didn’t need to read any more crime scene reports. Instead, he started looking through the teaching syllabus that he’d written before he took up Jack Crawford’s job offer.

At first, Will enjoyed the break from his work. It was nice to be able to just sit and plan his future, but soon he got bored and frustrated. He should be at home looking after Perdita, he should be making headway with Hannibal, not sat uselessly behind a desk, pretending to hunt for the Ripper.

It was two full days before he was called to another crime scene. Will slammed his car door shut and took a couple of deep breaths, enjoying the fresh air.

“Can you smell it?” one of the trainee agents who was standing on the sidewalk asked. She’d never spoken to Will before, but Will could see the young woman was an alpha.

“Smell?” Will asked in confusion. The alpha leered and nodded her head towards one of the large houses opposite.

“They say that there’s an omega in that house,” she smiled, but Will could see her savagery; the lust and brutality that she was trying to hide. He shuddered and looked at the house. It was, he had to admit, a very nice house. Through the wrought iron gate he could see a house that was larger and more expensive than anywhere Will would ever live without coming out as an omega. But it wasn’t the obvious wealth that made him stare.

There was a dog toy on the lawn, left out and forgotten about. There was a child’s swing hanging from a branch of a tree.

Will couldn’t know if an omega truly lived there or not. But he could see that a family lived there. He imagined that they were happy, that the child loved his canine companion. He imagined a parent pushing their child on that swing, although he didn’t know if they were an omega or a female beta. It was so real to him that he could hear the child’s laughter and the friendly barking of the dog, ringing in his ears and taunting him.

“Jeez, and you know that someone’s going to have to go in and question the family to see if they saw anything suspicious. Can you imagine the scent? I’d given anything to be that lucky b-”

Will coughed loudly, cutting off the female alpha. She stopped, realizing she’d said too much and shot Will a filthy look.

“Sorry, Graham. I didn’t know you were such a prude.”

“If you don’t know what’s inappropriate for the workplace then maybe you shouldn’t be working for the FBI.” Will said, his eyes fixed on the alpha’s chin. She made a shocked noise as her lips tightened in anger. Will had never been scared of alphas, but he didn’t usually say anything so obviously incendiary to them. He turned away, not giving her time to respond and walked into the crime scene.

The whole house stank of blood; cloying and metallic in his throat. Jack Crawford’s booming voice could be heard as soon as he stepped through the front door, and Will followed the sound.

“Lass, where the hell are the photographers? I want them here now,” Crawford scowled, his face only softening slightly when he saw Will. “Graham, I need you to do what you did with the Vanin case.”

Will nodded, remembering the mutilated beta corpse that he’d seen the week before. It had been so easy for him to see who Nicholas Vanin’s murderer had been and Crawford wanted a repeat performance.

“It’s a bad one; alpha female, beta male and three adopted children, “ Crawford paused, watching Will’s face and blocking the doorway. “They’re all in there.”

“OK,” Will nodded, but Crawford still stood in his way. “I’ll need some space, can I see them by myself?”

“Will,” Crawford sighed. Will looked up sharply, he hadn’t been expecting Crawford to use his first name. He was a tool for Crawford, a gift that had been dropped in his lap. A man who could solve crimes just be looking at the crime scene who had arrived just when Crawford’s entire career was being staked on finding the Ripper. Crawford wanted these deaths to be Ripper kills and he wanted Will to sniff out the culprit as if he were Crawford’s own, personal bloodhound.

“It’s fine,” Will said, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to see anything anyway.”

Crawford nodded and moved out of his way. Will stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. He wanted to be alone in here, alone with the corpses.

The scent of blood got thicker, it was so strong that it felt like there was a film of it on his tongue. He swallowed but the taste of blood stayed in his mouth. Was this how Hannibal felt?

The female alpha was sitting in an armchair in the corner, her hands bound in her lap and her throat cut. Blood had poured down her clothes, staining the pale blue wool of her twin set and making her pearl necklace look like it was made of red beads. She was older than Will had been expecting. Her hair was white and her face wrinkled. The broken skin at her throat hung loose and gaping. She had been made to watch as her family had been killed

Her husband had been killed first, his skull bashed in from behind.

I wasn’t interested in him. He was meaningless to me.

The children had been adopted years ago. They were all adults now, and all wore the same trappings of wealth as their adopted parents. The attacks on them had been brutal, vicious. Each of them shot in the stomach and then tortured.

I shoot you to incapacitate you. It doesn’t matter if the gunshot kills you though. I just need you to be still as I tear into you. I need to show her how weak and pathetic you are. Endure the pain that I give you. I pick up my blade and I cut into your flesh. I am not a surgeon. I don’t have practise killing. The wounds I give you are indiscriminate and arbitrary. This is revenge for everything that I suffered when you left me.

Will pulled back, coming back to himself. He’d unwittingly touched one of the bodies and there was blood on his fingertips. Hannibal would have loved this scene. Of course, he would have thought it unrefined and crudely emotional, but Will imagined he would have liked the primitive savagery.

He had to woo Hannibal, to show him that he was worth more than just a prestigious object, to be bound and fucked and tucked away in Hannibal’s house, never to truly be part of Hannibal’s life. He would not become like the omega in the house opposite; trapped at home so that their very existence was rapidly becoming a legend.

Will was not a killer. But to be part of Hannibal’s life, to stand next to him as an equal, he would have to show Hannibal he was capable of darkness. He could not murder someone just to prove himself to Hannibal, but he could tempt the man in other ways.

In the corner of the room there was a vase of pink peonies. Will plucked one of the flowers, cutting through the stem with his fingernails but staining the fragile outer petals with his bloody fingertip. He put the flowerhead into his pocket and carefully arranged his jacket so that it looked more rumpled and less obvious that he was stealing.

With one last look at the scene, he opened the door. Crawford was waiting for him.

“It’s not-,” Will began, knowing that all Crawford really wanted to hear was whether it was the Ripper’s work or not. But nothing about this scene reminded Will of the beauty of Hannibal’s canvases, and he didn’t even want to compare the two. “It’s someone who was angry about who the alpha adopted. Try looking into the biological parents, or the foster home. There was another kid, one who wasn’t picked. One who was left behind.”

Crawford nodded approvingly and Will hesitated. Maybe he’d made a mistake, and misjudged the man, maybe he wasn’t as obsessed by Hannibal as Will had thought. Maybe it was Will himself who wanted to see Hannibal everywhere he went.

“Yeah, well, I’m here now!” a beta agent growled at Lass as she hurried him along the corridor. He was carrying a large camera. Behind him, the forensic team were gearing up and Will had to move aside to let them pass.

“This is good work, Will,” Crawford said, ignoring Lass who was hovering nearby and eager to be part of the conversation.

“Thanks,” he said, his hand in his pocket, clenching the bloody, stolen flower. Only when he was back in the safety of his own car did he feel confident enough to let go of it. He got out his phone and called Hannibal to see if he was free that evening.

Hannibal opened the door with a smile for Will. It was small and genuine. A sign of his supposed triumph over the omega that was now coming to him so willingly.

WIll smiled back, not hiding his happiness at seeing Hannibal again. The alpha’s pride in his victory was misplaced but Will let him revel in it for now.

“My dear Will, do come in,” Hannibal stepped aside and held his hand out for Will’s coat, “Your call earlier was a pleasant surprise.”

Will watched Hannibal’s empty hand, still extended expectantly while Will kept his jacket resolutely on. After a few seconds Hannibal put his hand down and closed the front door. There was such a thrill in being here, in this house. He was in the den of a monster, and yet he felt completely safe. It made Will, who for so long had been the weak and timid omega, feel powerful

“I can’t stay long,” Will said, not moving into the house despite Hannibal’s slight movement to subtly herd Will further into the house. “I wanted to give you something. A gift.”

“Your company is a gift, Will. Please, come into the study. Can I offer you anything to drink?” Hannibal asked as Will let himself be led into the same room where Perdita had waited for him the last time he was here. This time the room was well-lit; Will peered at the bookshelves and the expensive pieces of art. Hannibal’s sense of intimidating style ran through every room he inhabited.

“No, I really can’t stay long.”

“Do sit down,” Hannibal gestured towards two comfortable chairs that faced each other. Will hesitated, watching the performance that was Hannibal undoing his jacket button and arranging himself in his seat. Perfection seemed to take so much patient effort.

Will put his hand in his pocket and touched the flower nervously. Was this a mistake? Would giving this flower to Hannibal be too obvious? Would it make Hannibal realize that Will knew he was the Ripper?

No, Will decided. Hannibal was far too egotistical, too confident in his own abilities, to ever think that someone had guessed his secret.

“This is for you,” Will pulled the flower from his pocket and stuck his hand out, feeling ridiculous. Hannibal watched him with amusement. It struck Will, just then, as he waited for Hannibal to take his flower, what a subversion of beta courting this was.

“Thank you,” Hannibal lifted his hand to pluck the flower from Will’s fingers, avoiding touching the bloodstains, and then sniffed the peony. Will looked away, turning to take his own seat. There was something incredibly arousing about Hannibal appreciating Will’s gift so obviously.

“This isn’t your blood,” Hannibal said. It was not a question, but Will shook his head anyway.

“I took it from a crime scene. I got one of the victims' blood on my finger.”

Hannibal smiled, chiding him gently.

“Should you be giving this to me, Will?”

“Aren’t we long past worrying about ethics?”

Hannibal crossed his ankles, exposing a hint of a dark green sock. It felt illicit, like he’d caught sight of Hannibal’s underwear. He could feel his cheeks heating as he blushed in embarrassment and he looked upwards, his eyes raking along Hannibals’ body and stopping, mesmerised, at his crotch.

Will closed his eyes in mortification.

“Ethics, good Will, or morality? Ethics must be given proper consideration, but we must all find our own morality.”

Will kept his eyes closed as he began the speech that he knew would inflame Hannibal’s interest in him.

“Ethically then, no, I shouldn’t have taken it. I disturbed a crime scene. Morally: well, I know that I didn’t interfere with the investigation. I wanted you to have something from the crime scene. It was...savage, the victims butchered. But it was beautiful. In its own way. The victims became more than they had been in life,” Will opened his eyes and finally looked Hannibal in the face.

This last line would be his bait for Hannibal.

“The killer’s jealousy transformed them into something inelegant, but poignant.”

The movement was slight. A muscle twitched around Hannibal’s mouth, but it was a crack in his mask. Will looked away, turning his head so that his neck was exposed. It was the wrong side, his bonding gland was on the other side. Will didn’t want to be too obvious.

“Would you care for a glass of wine, Will?”

Will glanced up, worried that he’d made a mistake. That he had, after all, been too obvious. Hannibal’s mask was perfectly smooth again and Will had no idea what he was thinking.

“No,” Will stood up with a smile. “I, uh, should go. I’m leaving the Ripper case, I’m going to be a teacher instead.”

“Really?” Hannibal raised an inquiring eyebrow, “That’s an interesting decision to have made.”

Will shrugged, looking down as Hannibal remained sitting.

“I guess. It’s what I came here to do, and then Jack Crawford asked me to join his team. It was only going to be for a semester and, you know, if I don’t get out of Crawford’s clutches I think he’ll want me on every case he looks at. I’m getting out while I still have my sanity. But I’m going to write an in depth profile of the Ripper before I quit, and I should get started on that tonight. It’s going to take me a while.”

Hannibal uncrossed his ankles, leaning forward in his chair. If it had been anyone else then Will would have felt odd, looking down, in a supposed position of power over the seated alpha; but this was Hannibal. He was always in control.

“Come here, Will,” Hannibal said, with a slight smile. Will stepped closer and Hannibal put a hand on his thigh. The sudden contact made Will gasp, he could feel the heat of Hannibal through the thin material of his pants. “You should take better care of your clothes, or they will crease.”

Hannibal stroked his hand along Will’s thigh, smoothing the cloth of his pants. It was too much. Will didn’t mean to look at Hannibal’s maroon eyes but, once he did, he couldn’t look away. He was trapped in place, Hannibal’s strong hand was flat against him but Will held as still as if Hannibal was gripping onto him with all his alpha strength.

Will could feel his cock twitching and hardening. He was so close to the alpha he desired, and Hannibal’s hand was right there! He put his tongue between his teeth and bit down, trying to distract himself as he breathed heavily through his nose.

“Now,” Hannibal’s hand smoothed down the material on his other thigh, “I imagine your profile of the Ripper would make fascinating reading. May I see it?’

Hannibal lifted his hand off Will, pausing with it in the air, not touching Will at all as his question hung in the air between them.

“Yes, of course.”

Hannibal smiled, but his hand didn’t move back to Will.

“I’ll show it to you before I give it to Crawford,” Will continued.

Hannibal’s smile widened, becoming more genuine and his hand reached for Will again, passing slowly and firmly over Will’s crotch; pressing against Will’s half hard cock. Will moaned and the noise broke the illusion that Hannibal was merely straightening Will’s clothes. His cock was fully hard now; trapped and pinched in the confines of his clothes.

Hannibal removed his hand and leaned back in his chair like a satisfied god that deemed the offering was worthy.

“That would be splendid. You must come for dinner when you’ve finished writing it. I’m sure we’ll have a lot to discuss."

Will nodded shyly. He wasn’t going to be writing a profile, this would be a love letter.