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Will hung onto the wrought-iron rungs of the headboard and buried his head into the red-satin pillow, gritting his teeth as another orgasm—his second of the morning—threatened to devour him. Hannibal drove into him from behind, and there was a touch of violence to the snap of his hips, an indication that their quiet life here in Dordogne, France was grating on him. Soon, Hannibal would find an excuse to go to Paris and, after the weekend, he'd come home, ready to resume their life together. Come Monday, Will would read of another grizzly murder, sometimes simple, sometimes extravagant, and turn a blind eye. It was cyclical, like the changing of the seasons. Inevitable as sex, death, and taxes, and Will didn't have the patience, the desire, or the care to change it.

Sooner or later, everything would fall apart.

Right then, for him, it did. His body shuddered as his orgasm crested then slammed into him like a tidal wave. It broke him to pieces, and Will collapsed and lay there spent, exhausted, with sweat kissing his skin. Twice more Hannibal thrust into him, and he too climaxed, biting the meat between his shoulder and neck, hard enough to break skin, to taste him. He only bit when boredom corroded their quiet, peaceful, perfect little life, and killing was the only way to get rid of it. The goodness in him mourned Hannibal's next victim. But mostly, he was excited to see how creative Hannibal would be.

Hannibal threaded long fingers through his hair, once gently, then gripping hard for a second before letting go. It accurately summarized the change in their relationship over the last two years. From gentle and happy—killing together—to something... harsher, completely different. Will had let his humanity creep into their lives again, and when the act that'd kept them together disappeared, they slowly began to drift apart, resenting each other. Hating each other. Somehow loving each other even more.

But Will didn't feel that love when Hannibal left him there on the bed without a word. Not even a good morning. Now, Hannibal only spoke to him when he needed something. It carved him out hollow.

Will caught a glimpse of Hannibal's naked body as he walked into the bathroom, before the shower turned on. Before the sounds of the quiet street were drowned out by the beginning of a brand new day. A new day of tip-toeing around their relationship's problems and generally avoiding each other.

He sighed then yawned into his pillow, nuzzling it as a gentle breeze brought in the scent of garden flowers through the open window. Sweetness mingled with the smell of their sex, and he inhaled it deeply, basking in the early springtime sun as he drifted off little by little. The blood-red curtains fluttered against dark wood, and that was the last thing he saw, falling asleep, dreaming of blood on Hannibal's floors, his hands, over his arms, on his face, from a time when he and Hannibal were the same.

From a time he remembered being the most happy.

The covers were whipped back from his body some time later. He startled and looked up to find Hannibal's face, a shade of disapproval in those sharp, angular lines. "It's time to get up, Will."

Will narrowed his eyes at the clock and groused, "It's seven a.m.," then reached for the sheets. Hannibal caught his wrist, and his fingers pinched harder than they should've.

"I'll need your help today."

Hannibal left without another word. Will sighed harshly into his pillow and, rebelliously, didn't move. He went as far as wrapping himself up in sheets before guilt set in. The smell of coffee decided everything for him.

He got up and showered, brushed his teeth and dressed before heading downstairs. A set of French frosted-glass doors separated the two parts of their lives, personal and business. They were Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter in the privacy of their home. But here, on the other side, Alexandre and Julien Moreau owned Café Étoile du Matin, serving their customers exotic coffee and delectable pastries.

Julien and Alexandre were happily married. Will and Hannibal were not happy anything.

He gave the place a despondent look. He remembered the long weeks of renovating it, and how Hannibal had fussed over the dark hardwood floors for weeks. They were spotless now, glossy like dark glass, their gloom brightened up by the white textured walls, the clean-lined tables and cozy chairs. A reprint of Guido Reni's Michael adorned one wall and stood out as abstract, almost odd in comparison to the coffee shop's otherwise traditional French charm. Will never had the heart to ask why it was there, and Hannibal had never cared to explain.

An open patio took advantage of the sunlight through the spring and summer months, and with its white gauzy fabrics hanging from wooden beams, it gave the place an airy, dream-like feel. These days, it was Hannibal's pride and joy. A place where Hannibal served his customers Kyoto coffee as intricate as his meals; a place that landed itself in newspapers time and time again as the place to get the best coffee.

A place he began to slowly resent.

Will settled himself into one of the stools at the counter, next to the intricate machine that, over 16 hours, made Hannibal's most talked-about coffee. It's a cold-drip method, Hannibal had said one day. What do you taste?

Dark chocolate, Will had said.

As sensuous as sin.

And Hannibal had been right. Seduction was in every cup, every swallow. It was as good as sex, as sinful as Hannibal's lips over his skin... as satisfying as killing. Will shuddered and swallowed down his dark urge.

It fought back with the growl of his stomach.

From behind the granite counter, Hannibal gave him a smile. Something from an estranged lover, not quite genuine, but enough to keep the peace. Will smiled back, in the same way, then watched Hannibal slink into the back, out of sight. Alone was the only time he'd let himself feel the ache of missing Hannibal, of what they'd been.

What they'd never be again.

Hannibal came out with a plate of cupcakes and set them down. Without thinking, Will grabbed the nearest one and began to unfurl its wrapper. His mouth watered, and he would've ate the whole thing in one bite, if...

Will studied it skeptically, then looked up. They rarely shared eye contact anymore, too many resentments, too many secrets, yet now, Hannibal was staring at him. Waiting. Expecting.

It was all wrong.

He dropped his eyes to it again. "Is this one of your... people cupcakes?"

"It's a French toast cupcake with maple buttercream frosting, Will," he said plainly.

"With?"

Hannibal let out a breath. "Bits of liver sautéed in olive oil and a hint of basil." A beat, then, "The liver gives the cupcake more... body."

Where the livers had come from didn't need to be said.

Will gave him a look, then curled his upper lip in distaste and set it aside, resolving to go hungry. Like Hannibal had expected it, he produced a second plate from beneath the counter. A single cupcake sat on its clean white porcelain, chocolate as far as he could tell. Hannibal's creations were rarely as simple.

"Vanilla bean with chocolate ganache—all vegan ingredients." Hannibal smiled. "I made it just for you."

Another peace offering. Just another Band-Aid to cover up one of the many problems their relationship had suffered: Will's refusal to eat anything that was sentient or belonged to anything that had the capacity to feel. Bedelia had been the last, and she'd haunted him ever since, every night, in each one of his nightmares.

Veganism was the only thing he had any control over. It was his way of keeping what little humanity he had left.

Will plucked the cupcake from the plate and gave it that same skeptical look. "No... bits of that tax accountant—"

"It wasn't a tax accountant that was rude to me last week, Will," Hannibal said, with a hint of exasperation. "The food critic. I mentioned the review. Do you not remember?"

The food critic that'd written that Café Étoile du Matin, Hannibal's new bride, was too pretentious, high-priced, and whose selection of coffee and pastries didn't match the hype. Spend your money on your average coffee shop. The taste is the same, it'd said.

He remembered.

He remembered hearing about the death and dismemberment on the news too.

Will pinched a bite off his cupcake and ate it, catching a glance of Hannibal rummaging around again, getting ready for today's opening. His movements were sharp, aborted, violence trembling just beneath the surface. As cold and emotionless as Hannibal seemed, Will knew better. His emotions ran deep, deeper than his own at times, and while Hannibal expressed his by disemboweling, the point was the same: he could be hurt. Hannibal was hurting now. He could see it. If they were anyone else than who they were, Hannibal would accuse him of never listening, and Will, exasperated, needing an escape, would simply zone out and nod his head.

But they were Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter—and some poor soul would be dead by the end of the week.

"That food critic..." Will began, trying. "Is he—"

"She."

Maybe he hadn't been listening enough after all. "Is she the special today?"

Café Étoile du Matin's Wednesday specials. The talk of their small town. Sold out in an hour, tops. Always, always made with people. At the mention of today's special, Hannibal brightened considerably. His movements were fluid when he brought out a sample cupcake, and they made eye contact. It made his lonely, hurting heart flutter.

"A spicy chocolate cupcake filled with chili chocolate ganache, topped with chili cream cheese frosting..." But that wasn't all. "The heart of it is what makes it particularly delectable."

"Sounds good," Will said. It didn't. Human hearts had never been his favorite. "I'm almost tempted to eat meat again."

He hadn't intended it to sound so... sarcastic.

For a second, Hannibal stopped moving, stopped breathing. The only sign he was alive at all was the minute clenching of his jaw, and by the single degree his eyes lidded. If Will kept this up, if they didn't solve their problems quickly, he'd be one of Café Étoile du Matin's Wednesday specials. A part of him thrilled at the prospect of being killed by Hannibal. Neither of them would have to suffer anymore.

Will picked at his cupcake when Hannibal resumed animation, doing whatever he did with cups and saucers that made them clatter like he was going to murder someone. There was a cup of coffee in front of his face then, that rich dark chocolate-y smell drawing him out of his mood. He sipped it, and they made eye contact again, but it wasn't loving. It was an obligation.

"I expect you to change your attitude by ten," Hannibal said. Ordered. "I don't want my customers to feel uneasy while you're around—"

"Am I helping you today?"

"It's Wednesday, Will," Hannibal nearly hissed. "You know how busy it gets."

And that was Hannibal's way of punishing him, by making him interact with people. It was harder now because Will knew how easily people could be broken—and in how many pieces.

"I need my white container from the back."

A container that held whatever parts of that food critic he'd use today.

Will didn't argue. With cupcake and coffee in hand, Will abandoned Hannibal to his dark mood and headed to the back, past where they kept inventory—where he should've gone to get Hannibal what he needed—and out toward the garden. The sweet smell of lavender and jasmine greeted him before he rounded the corner and saw them, bursting with purples and whites. Roses climbed up trellises, lilacs sprouted in bushes, and tulips surrounded a bird bath, framed by white-wood benches. The garden stretched and curled lazily around the house and shop, bringing a smile to anyone's face.

It was his sanctuary when things became difficult.

When the need to kill became too great.

Gardening kept his hands busy, away from cutting throats open. It kept his mind occupied. He created instead of destroyed. It made him feel... human—and it was the only place he could spend time with her.

Will whistled. From behind the shed, from a hole dug under the fence, Abigail popped out and bounded toward him, tail wagging, tongue hanging happily from her mouth. He stooped low to hug her, to rub his face in her fur, and she licked his face over and over as if she hadn't seen him in years. Always happy and never violent.

"I missed you too," he said when Abigail licked his face again. "Here, I brought something for you, but you have to sit, just like I taught you." Will got up and put his hand out. "Sit. Stay."

Abigail obeyed, but barely. She kept inching up, getting closer but while still sitting, something only a dog seemed to be able to manage. He didn't have the heart to correct her, and he grabbed a rawhide bone from one of the many hiding spots he had throughout the garden. Her drooping puppy ears perked when he got closer, and she licked her mouth, struggling to stay still.

They settled on the stoop together after he'd given her the treat, and he rubbed behind her ears. She turned to nip at him a little, but that didn't convince him to leave her be. He combed through her dirty fur with his nails, examined a scratch on her nose, and another on her paw. She took the fussing in stride, subjected to worse as a stray, and chewed on her bone. He hated seeing her this way, too skinny, homeless. He wanted to rescue her, but Hannibal didn't like dogs, even forbade him from having one—another issue on the list of many.

He fantasized about leaving right then, leaving him, escaping somewhere he could be lost for years, until Hannibal found him and either dragged him back or killed him outright. But the part that still loved Hannibal, desperately so, wouldn't let him. The emptiness would crush him. Thinking about him, worrying about him, without being with him would damage him more than living with him. So, he stayed. In a life that wasn't his own.

In a life where Hannibal made all the decisions without discussion. Where they lived in France instead of Canada, where Hannibal had a coffee shop and he had... gardening. Where Hannibal always led and he followed.

He couldn't even have a dog.

Will scratched Abigail behind the ears again. He knew Hannibal was looming over them before he glanced over his shoulder to look. Abigail had tensed up under his fingers and let out a pitying whine. She was afraid of him, and by the look Hannibal gave her—a sneer as deadly as he'd given anything—Will couldn't blame her.

"I need you, Will," Hannibal said. Demanding. I need you didn't mean the same anymore— "The customers will be here soon." —because it was less sinister. Less... passionate.

Will turned his back on him. "I gotta go, Abby."

He kissed her head, then left her on the stoop to follow Hannibal inside.

:::

Like every Wednesday, it was busy. People waiting for their orders, others in line, even more sitting at tables or out on the patio, enjoying coffee and today's special. His smiles felt fake and plastic on his face, and he'd put on his glasses again just so he'd have an excuse not to make eye contact. So he could pretend to be shy. So he could pretend he didn't imagine every customer in a bloody mess, or how easily their throat could be cut.

Hannibal was safely tucked away in the back, making coffee, restocking pastries and cupcakes, and being charming just at the right time to a customer who happened to look at him or talk to him. He had it easy.

Will hated working here.

But it went smoothly. The morning bustle bled into an easy early afternoon, and every customer seemed happy. Then, lunch happened and it all went to hell.

Will smelled him before he got close to the counter. Liquor poured off him in waves, and the man kept wavering on his feet and making lewd comments at women. He was fifth in line, and by the time he got to the front, Will had dismembered him a hundred different ways.

"Get me a un café serré," he slurred, in an American accent.

The man sported a black eye, fresh and mottled, and this time, Will made eye contact, tracing the circular mark, the reds and blues, the dark purples—a morbid painting of pain. The man didn't take kindly to his staring and narrowed his eyes, hissing out: "What are you staring at, boy? Got a problem?"

Will dropped his eyes, clenching his jaw, and told the man how much his café serré would be and took his card. Enzo Clement printed on plastic. A name he'd remember... just in case—a very Hannibal-esque thing to do. It was a startling thought, but he ignored it as he ran the card, gave it back, and put the order through. The man walked away, and Will relaxed. That should've been the end of it, but it wasn't.

Clement was quiet after he'd gotten his order and sat down, drank his café serré entirely before stomping up to the front again and pushing a heavily pregnant woman aside to cut in line. "This tasted like piss," he said, slamming the empty cup down. "I want a fucking refund."

Will stared at the cup, tipped over and drooling black coffee on the counter. He didn't raise his eyes until Clement had grabbed his chin and yanked his head up. Staring at him, Will wondered if he had an axe in the shed sharp enough to cleave his head from his shoulders.

"D'you hear me?"

The room held its breath.

"You must like the taste of piss," Will said.

Clement's eyes flew open wide. "What?"

"I said you must like the taste of piss," Will explained, slowly. "You drank the whole cup."

"You little shit."

Clement's fist never got close to his face. Will stepped back, out of its way, then darted in, grabbing the off-balance man by the back of the neck and yanking him in. It left him prostrated over the counter, struggling, and Will leaned in, close enough to whisper, "Get the fuck out of my shop." He squeezed. "You're being rude."

He let him go. The man straightened up, nearly falling over, then threw a wild gaze at him, the customers, then at him again. He pointed. "I'm coming back for you."

Then left.

Rattled, Will braced his hands against the countertop, ignoring the customers who were still waiting to order. Hannibal came up behind him then, his body heat, his physical presence warm and safe, just like it'd always been. A gentle touch settled at the small of his back, in a way that silently asked if he was okay. He was, and Will nodded, acknowledging him, his support, while still trying to breathe somewhat normally. The urge to kill that man had been overwhelming. He felt as if he'd just run a marathon through a hell of temptation and had come out the other side out of breath, heart racing. Hannibal leaned in, but not enough for their bodies to touch. Asking permission, maybe, because they barely touched each other outside of sex anymore—a harsh reality he could change.

Needing him, to draw strength and composure from the man who never seemed ruffled, Will curved his spine into him, closing their distance. Hannibal let out a breath that was sinfully erotic. Brushed the shell of his ear and whispered, "What was his name, Will?"

Just like that, Will jerked his shoulder back and slipped out from beneath him, grabbed his wrist and dragged him away from the customers. They squared off in the kitchen.

"I took care of it."

Hannibal's face was expressionless when he said, "He disturbed my customers."

"You can't kill him."

"Will..."

The way he said his name lorded over him like an axe to the neck. Tired of him, tired of living a life not his own design, and without thinking, Will snapped. He shoved Hannibal back into the wall.

"I said no."

No, because they couldn't keep killing.

No, because Will wanted to kill him. Alone.

Hannibal couldn't accept no.

His world flipped on its axis. It'd only taken Hannibal a split second to prostrate him face-down on the stainless steel kitchen counters. Two more to get Will's belt unbuckled and his pants around his ankles. Will was determined not to be taken like this, not face-down, and turned partly onto his side, in an uncomfortable position that served a single purpose: a message he wouldn't take anything without a fight.

It only excited Hannibal even more. His hands were hard and possessive as he manhandled him into place, quick in whipping his pants all the way off. After Hannibal spat and speared him through, Will took every inch of him, making a strangled noise partly out of pain—mostly out of needing this. His thrusts were brutal and raw, quick like a cut to the femoral artery. The slow bleed of his orgasm began in his gut, curling around his spine as the pace turned quicker, more forceful. Hannibal hooked Will's leg over an arm, fucking him hard enough to jolt Will's body into the adjacent wall again and again. All he could do was hold on and suffer the brunt of his anger, gasping for breath as he bled out with an orgasm so quick, so intense, he simply collapsed on the counter top. If Hannibal had come, he didn't notice or care.

That was how they dealt with customers they couldn't kill.

:::

That night, Hannibal slept soundly beside him, and Will watched dreams flutter beneath his eyelids. He wondered if he dreamt of murder, of people whose lives he'd destroyed. Of Abigail. He wondered if Hannibal dreamt of him, of killing him, but didn't wonder if or why. Just how. He hoped his murder was quick. He hoped he tasted good.

Will sat up and studied his face. Beautiful with angular cheekbones like a statue. Like Le génie du mal, but incredibly... human. He lived and breathed like the rest of them, a god among men.

He wondered if Hell was missing its favorite fallen angel.

Will left him there and went downstairs, through the frosted-glass French doors. A play of light and shadow skittered over the walls, but he'd long ago forgotten how to fear normal things. Not when he slept with the devil.

He took out a simple machine for coffee, something Hannibal had bought just for him, plugged it in, filled and started it. It whirred and gargled, filling the air with the smell of coffee. Right then, his stomach growled, so he went into the back and opened the refrigerator. Inside, with a note in his elegant scrawl addressed Will, he found a vegan cupcake Hannibal had left him and devoured it on the spot. The ping of his coffee machine had him out in the main room again. He poured a cup, then sipped it—and grabbed a knife from beneath the counter.

A looming figure stood eerie just outside their front door.

He recognized that sway immediately, and who it belonged to. Could almost smell him from here. His lip curled in a sneer, and he set the coffee cup down, gripping the knife like a lifeline. Will held it behind his back as he slipped through the darkness to the front. He should've called for Hannibal, but he didn't.

He unlocked the door instead, barricading the inside from the outside with his small frame. Clement looked at him, his eyes flickering with something he knew intimately—the intent to kill. A sudden surge of adrenaline made everything that much clearer, and Will zoned in on the grip of a gun in Clement's hand. He'd never get a shot off—

"I knew I'd seen y'somewhere before... Seen your picture on the Internet," he slurred.

—not with how drunk he was.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Will said. He ached to murder him.

"Sure y'do," he returned coolly. "Thought I'd do the world some good. Revenge for all those people that've gone missing."

"I don't understand." But he did. All too well.

"You and your husband," he spat the word, "been killing them, haven't you?"

"You're drunk." Will gripped his knife. "And we're closed."

Will moved to close the door, not to avoid conflict, but to start it, and like a moth to his flame, Clement jerked it open, then raised the gun. "I know who you are."

The knife was deep in his belly before he could think to shoot.

Clement stood there, gasping, looking down at his gaping wound, the gun long ago dropped to clatter uselessly, out of reach. Will yanked him in by the back of the neck, held him cheek to cheek, and said, "No, you don't."

Will stabbed him two more times, then let his body fall lifeless from his hands. Blood spilled across the marble floors, splatter like art on the entryway's glass enclosure. The rush of a kill trembled off him in waves, and he stood there, staring down, watching the blood spread like black ink on parchment. He was high on the thrill, but it was entirely too quick, and like a drug, it wore off, leaving him there alone and exposed. Completely empty.

Killing wasn't the same without Hannibal by his side.

He needed Hannibal like he needed to breathe.

Blood crept toward him, but all he could think about was Hannibal and how their relationship had rotted with neglect. How selfish he'd been, how stupid. He'd let his empathy get the better of him, let his humanity ruin the only thing that'd ever made sense in his life. The year they'd spent killing together had been their best.

He swore to himself he'd fix it. Will looked at the blood pooling around his toes.

He hoped he hadn't gotten blood on Hannibal's hardwood floors.

Will slipped his bloodied socks off and snuck barefoot to the back of the coffee shop, through the back doors and into the shed. There, he found plastic sheeting and hauled it to the front, wrapped the body in it tightly, then hauled it out to the shed again where he left it to deal with in the morning.

After cleaning the marble floors, after a quick wipe down of the glass, and a cursory glance at the hardwoods with the lights on—no blood—he was up in their bedroom, slipping in beside Hannibal as carefully as he could.

"Did you stain my floors?"

—but it didn't matter. Hannibal was awake.

"No."

Hannibal took a breath, and Will couldn't help but tune in like Hannibal was the only frequency he'd ever get.

"Was it beautiful—" Hannibal whispered in the dark. "—killing without me?"

Will looked at his profile. His expression yielded nothing, but his voice, that exotic lilt like tinted glass and sin, betrayed everything. It told him he didn't just cut Hannibal, but gutted him, and he was lying there, bleeding as his life force slowly slipped away. Will fluttered fingertips over his cheekbone, but Hannibal turned away from his touch. He was left without him, and he ached.

"No." Will curled his empty fingers and watched him. "It wasn't beautiful... it was ugly."

The emptiness he felt then—now...

"I miss us," Will whispered.

"I never left you."

Loyal, patient Hannibal. Will reached out to touch him again. This time, Hannibal didn't shrink away, just let out a breath as if the very brush of his fingers completed him. It drew Will in, and he nestled his face into his neck, whispering, "I'm sorry," into his skin. Sorry for everything. For taking their life together for granted, for shedding blood without him. For denying what he was, and what he'd always be.

"I forgive you."

Will captured his lips with his own in reverence, kissing him as if doing so was the only thing he needed to live. Hannibal's fingers caressed his side, tracing where the blood stained his thin T-shirt. Will hauled it off and threw it aside, casting away his sins, seeking forgiveness in his arms, his kiss, in the warmth of their bodies pressed together. Forgiveness came with each of Hannibal's kisses, the fingers carding through his hair, the whispered something in Lithuanian against his neck. He was loved, he knew it, and ever doubting that was senseless.

He shifted to straddle Hannibal's hips, to grind down on him until their cocks strained with the effort, the both of them so hard, so in need, that steady breathing had changed to desperate panting. As difficult as it was, Will refused to rush this—because Hannibal deserved to be worshiped.

And worship he would.

Will drew a line down his body with his lips, from his collarbone down his chest. He stopped at each nipple, drawing them into his mouth, sucking until Hannibal let out a little sound that only urged him on. He circled each one with his tongue, then ventured farther down, kissing his belly, his hipbones, giving them a nip before nuzzling the inner part of his thigh. There, he bit, and Hannibal arched his back with it, hissing, slipping his fingers through his hair and gripping. It pinched, but he didn't care. He let Hannibal guide him to where he needed him most, and Will unhinged his jaw and swallowed him down, fast and hard as if his mouth were made for it. Only this, sucking him down to the root and back up to the tip again. Hannibal whispered something else in Lithuanian, and Will promised himself to learn the meaning of those sweet nothings—later.

Will tightened his lips around Hannibal's cock, drawing him in as far as he could go. When his cock hit the back of his throat, when Will angled him just so to suck and rub the head of him against his soft palate, Hannibal jolted, twisted his fingers in his hair, and let out a strangled groan. Killing was a beautiful act, but that sound... it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

And he wanted more of them, so he sucked him harder, more forcefully, hallowing out his cheeks. When he added his hand, slipping it down his cock in sync, Hannibal let out another noise, then another, keeping them contained to soft grunts. Struggling to keep his composure. Will was intent on cracking his exterior and drew back to concentrate solely on the head of his cock, tiny little sucks that, by the sound of it—sharp and desperate pants—drove Hannibal crazy. He tongued the slit, gave him a long suck, down the length of him, then went back to small, brief moments of intensity that did nothing to satisfy him. Will worshiped at his altar, sucking him hard with long strokes, then short frustrating ones, until Hannibal saw fit to haul him off and up.

They kissed as if they were starving.

Then Hannibal tried to flip him onto his back, to take him like he always did. Will resisted by steeling his body, tensing up, pushing back and driving Hannibal back onto the bed. Hannibal protested his intent by digging his fingernails into his arms. Not out of viciousness, but out of... subdued fear. He looked incredibly human in the soft moonlight, shadows casting his face in doubt and uncertainty. Hannibal thrived with being in control. Uncomfortable was giving that up, and that was what Will needed. For Hannibal to give up control.

Will brushed the back of his fingers across his cheek. "Will you trust me?"

Hannibal looked into his eyes. "Can I?"

"Yes." Will kissed his lips, the underside of his jaw. "I want to see you..." He nuzzled his way to his earlobe, mouthing it, catching it lightly between his teeth. "All of you."

Hannibal angled his head in and kissed him, and it almost seemed like permission. Reluctant yet there.

Will didn't waste any time flinging his hand out, searching blindly for the small bottle on the nightstand. They'd forgone condoms a long time ago, and Will slicked himself bare, then with one hand, guided himself into position. When the head of his cock pressed against him, Hannibal let his head fall back, limp, eyes closed, more blissful and ready than he'd ever seen him. Hannibal arched his chin, his back, and his whole body took a breath as Will pressed in, so slowly, so gently that forever seemed quick. His heat gripped him tight, and Will let his head lull forward, resting his forehead against his. They panted together, breath whispering over skin, sparing a chaste kiss or two while they simply... breathed each other in. Getting used to the flip in roles. Learning to trust each other in that quiet, still moment.

"It's beautiful," Hannibal whispered against his lips.

"This is all I ever wanted." His unquestionable trust, for Hannibal to relinquish a small amount of control.

They kissed until moving was a necessity. Will let out a shaky breath, hooked his arms under Hannibal's legs, and pulled back slowly, pushing in again just as gently. Once or twice more, tenderly as he could, just so he wouldn't hurt him. Then, when Hannibal teethed his ear, Will drove into him over and over again, making love to him, kissing his lips, wondering why he'd ever thought of leaving him. Admonishing himself for not appreciating them.

Hannibal wrapped his arms around him, and it felt like a promise of forever. Will kissed him one last time before rounding his own body and dropping his head forward. He buried his face into Hannibal's neck, mouthing his pulse point while pounding into him, harder and harder, faster until they were both breathless.

"I love you, Will."

His orgasm tore through him as unexpectedly as Hannibal's admission. Will bit at his neck, and Hannibal let out a forceful groan, shuddering under him with his own release. Both rendered boneless against each other, gulping in air in the soft moonlight. They came down in each other's arms, and Will listened to Hannibal's heartbeat until it died down to a low murmur. He'd never felt more safe and loved than this. They were both blissful, vulnerable...

Will went in for the kill.

"I'm getting a dog."

His tone left no room for argument.

Hannibal didn't say anything, just kissed his head and entwined their fingers together.

Will took that as a yes.

:::

Over the next few days, Abigail happily chewed on her bone in a little corner of the coffee shop made up just for her. She brought a bright exuberance to the place, and the customers stopped what they were doing to pet and play with her each time she came around. Hannibal didn't even flinch when she accidentally piddled on his hardwood floors, and let her sleep between them on the bed most nights. Will even caught Hannibal playing with her a couple of times, when Hannibal thought no one was watching. He didn't think he could love Hannibal any more, but as usual, Hannibal proved him wrong. Finally, they had a family.

They spent that weekend together in Paris, and come Monday morning, the news broke with the worst, most horrific and gruesome murder the City of Light had seen in years.