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  1. Public Bookmark 16

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    Summary

    Gil gets into a spot of bother.

    Malcolm helps him out of it.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    4,890
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Collections:
    1
    Comments:
    34
    Kudos:
    76
    Bookmarks:
    16
    Hits:
    426

    17 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Notes

    “You were… pretty confident out there,” he says, still not quite able to believe how easily the kid had got them both back in. Bright just shrugs.

    “It honestly wasn’t that bad. With your hands free, I mean,” he adds hastily. “I imagine it’s trickier with them stuck behind your back.”

    “All the same,” says Gil, “that was… /insanely/ dangerous, kid. I don’t want you taking those kinds of risks for me. If you’d - Jesus, if you’d even /slipped/ - “

    “I wasn’t gonna slip -”

    “You didn't /know/ that!”

    “Gil, I knew I could do it! I’m fine with heights, and you…” he trails off, as if he’s been caught out.

    “I… what?”

    “You… maybe… aren’t super comfortable in high places?” Bright looks at him apologetically, and Gil feels his eyebrows shooting up his head.

    “Who the hell told you that?!” he demands.

    “Nobody! Nobody, it was just a… a guess,” says the kid defensively. “We’ve worked enough cases together. Sometimes involving rooftops, and you know.” He shrugs, as if to say /I’m a profiler, I can’t help it/. “It was just a… feeling I picked up. Anyway… I wasn’t gonna leave you there.” His eyes dart back to Gil again, trying to figure out if he’s actually mad.

    Gil gets to his feet, ignoring Bright hovering beside him as if he’s about to keel over, and is gratified when his legs hold steady underneath him. “Are you sure you’re ok?” Bright asks, and Gil looks at him.

    “Come here.” Ignoring the bewildered look on his face, he pulls him into a hug. “Thanks, kid,” he murmurs. “I don’t ever wanna see you doing something that stupid again, but… thanks.”

  2. Public Bookmark 50

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    When an investigation spirals out of control, Malcolm finds himself plunged into a nightmare.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    77,177
    Chapters:
    24/24
    Comments:
    547
    Kudos:
    277
    Bookmarks:
    50
    Hits:
    7734

    17 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Tags:
    Bookmarker's Notes

    “Stop!”

    Malcolm’s shout has both men falling silent. His chest is heaving as if he’s the one been yelling, the gun practically rattling in his hand. He squeezes his eyes closed, trying to get himself under control.

    “See?” mutters Martin, “you’ve upset him -“

    “/Shut up/! Just - /stop talking/,” snarls Malcolm. He turns to Gil, taking a calming breath, trying to ignore the concern radiating off the older man. “Gil, he… he’s right. We can’t leave him here.”

  3. Public Bookmark 19

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    Malcolm does what he’s told for once, he stays by the LeMans and waits for the team to deal with their hostage situation. He’s just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    11,306
    Chapters:
    2/2
    Comments:
    24
    Kudos:
    97
    Bookmarks:
    19
    Hits:
    942

    17 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Notes

    “Stay down,” JT says, his voice devoid of emotion. Gil knows that JT is acting on ingrained soldier instincts but Gil’s instincts are completely different; they’re completely parental. Gil thinks /screw that/ because that’s Malcolm right next to a bomb. Bright’s scrambling onto his feet but has a gun trained on him and the kid might kick the other in the kneecap but Malcolm – a man with one of the brightest minds Gil has even known – /kicks the bomb/.

    Gil’s going to throttle the kid once this is over.

    The bomb skitters across the floor at the same time of the gun going off followed by a cry from Malcolm. The noise Bright makes immediately triggers something primal in Gil – a parental instinct to react when their child is hurt – but JT’s pressing down on Gil so he’s sandwiched against the concrete, unable to move.

  4. Public Bookmark 7

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    Gill gets drugged, Dani’s concussed, Malcolm is losing his patience, and JT is the only actual level-headed adult around. It’s an unpleasant experience for all involved.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    15,038
    Chapters:
    2/2
    Comments:
    24
    Kudos:
    44
    Bookmarks:
    7
    Hits:
    599

    17 Jun 2021

  5. Public Bookmark 4

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    Malcolm was destined to have a tough childhood since he was born psionic. Everything else just turns out to be a series of unfortunate events.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    12,063
    Chapters:
    2/3
    Comments:
    14
    Kudos:
    45
    Bookmarks:
    4
    Hits:
    400

    16 Jun 2021

  6. Public Bookmark 4

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    Summary

    Malcolm decides to buy a rune-wrapped bed and need Gil’s help to build it. Gil’s not all that impressed with the idea.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    8,694
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Comments:
    8
    Kudos:
    37
    Bookmarks:
    4
    Hits:
    464

    16 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Notes

    Something /pops/ and for Gil, that’s the last straw. Damn the consequences, he’s pretty sure that Malcolm may yell at him later, but something’s just popped in his kid and his parental instincts to /help/ and /soothe pain/ take over before his rational mind does. He jumps from the bed like he’s been burnt, letting go of Malcolm’s arm so that he can undo the left restraint at the wall. With the restraints also rune-wrapped, Gil can’t use his power to whip the metal off the wall himself, he has to do it manually. It takes him far longer than he’d like, Malcolm’s speech rapid in his mouth guard, but as soon as the left restraint is free from the wall, he rushes to the right-hand side of the bed to tear off the other one. Yet as soon as the kid is free from one restraint, he’s righted himself in bed and dives to the right, only to collide into Gil. Both of them go crashing to the floor in a mess of limbs, Malcolm’s arm still restrained by one cuff and his legs captured by the duvet. In the kitchen, there’s three quick pops – lightbulbs – Gil’s mind tells him but that’s the least of his concerns as Malcolm’s free arm is flying in every other direction.

  7. Public Bookmark 21

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    Summary

    Family isn’t just blood. It takes the Major Crime Unit team a couple of months to realise it too.

    Aka: as the team start to work with Bright more, they begin to get along with him, even if it's begrudgingly at first.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    45,215
    Chapters:
    6/6
    Comments:
    68
    Kudos:
    133
    Bookmarks:
    21
    Hits:
    2380

    16 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Tags:
    Bookmarker's Notes

    The loft feels /alive/.

    There’s movement everywhere she looks. Bright’s waistcoat floats over to his wardrobe which opens by itself, welcoming the waistcoat home; his shoes float across to where the rest of his shoes are stationed by his front door. The large, oak bookshelves that reach high upwards seem to be swaying too, its occupants gently rising and patting down to make a slight beat with each other. Even the intimidating grimoire that’s on the shelf seems to be beating something that’s both out of time and out of tune with the other books, but continues to do so. Dani notices the yellow parakeet – Sunshine, Bright had called her – flying around her owner’s head before she makes her way up into the rafters, singing a high-pitched song. Near the bookshelves are two cabinets full of weapons that Dani eyes warily before she looks to the bulbs above her head, watching them sway in time with the beat that the books are producing. Glasses on Bright’s kitchen counter float and sway before they make their way to a sink that’s full of bubbles, dipping themselves before they scrub themselves clean. All the activity is bathed in white wisps that seem to hum with their own energy, glowing like fireflies as they move objects around the loft. The whole room is amazing, the power and energy that’s leaking from it is seeping into Dani’s own pores.

    Dani’s met those with psionic powers before, but they’ve usually had to keep eye contact on objects and even used their hands to aid them, but she’s never seen anyone with this much power.  Bright is no exception, she’s watched as Bright has used his power to bring coffee cups to them when they were working, floating pens and papers their way instead of them having to get up and pass them to each other. Yet she’s also witnesses the night terrors he’s prone to having and the devastation they cause, the energy rapid and frantic, like Bright’s power is trying to escape from his own mind. But this, this is on a whole different level; there’s no concentration required, all free-flowing and calm, the white wisps clearly a manifestation of Bright’s power – something that she’s only seen first-hand tonight. As the energy around her sinks into her own body, Dani can’t help but slightly marvel that this power is under the profiler’s skin constantly and the fact that it’s all contained in one man.

    It’s incredible. It’s terrifying. It’s beyond beauty.

  8. Public Bookmark 4

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    Summary

    There are three main reasons why Malcolm wears his watch like he does, the face upside down to the world. That’s all you need to know.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    5,633
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Comments:
    8
    Kudos:
    41
    Bookmarks:
    4
    Hits:
    419

    16 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Notes

    It leads up to the final reason for the watch, for why Malcolm Bright wears his watch the way he does, the face upside down to the rest of the world. The last reason is for Gil alone to know.

    In such close proximity, Gil can feel Malcolm’s pulse against the metal.

    The smooth under surface of the metal sits perfectly against Bright’s pulse, and with enough concentration, Gil can use the metal to feel the pulse underneath it. It’s constantly thrumming away, a frantic beat underneath the skin, and Gil can’t help himself. For a man who’s constantly portraying a façade of calm, Malcolm’s frantic heartbeat gives him away every time (apart from his wisps of course). The thrum of the kid’s heartbeat lets Gil know that he’s alive, and whether he’s about to have a panic attack or a night terror. It’s come in handy plenty of times, allowing Gil to quickly and efficiently manoeuvre Bright out of situations that may trigger any sudden thoughts that may link back to his night terrors. It helps Gil find the undercurrent of panic before it arises and silently threatens to drown Malcolm.

  9. Public Bookmark 64

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    Strange never goes unnoticed forever and it has a tendency to spread.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    4,205
    Chapters:
    2/2
    Collections:
    2
    Comments:
    18
    Kudos:
    535
    Bookmarks:
    64
    Hits:
    2923

    15 Jun 2021

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  10. Public Bookmark 49

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    Lan Sizhui isn’t clumsy. He’s not. But every so often, the Wei Wuxian aspects of his upbringing override his Lan upbringing and things just. Happen. Especially when Lan Jingyi is there to encourage his occasional less Lan-like behavior.  

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    5,112
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Comments:
    24
    Kudos:
    293
    Bookmarks:
    49
    Hits:
    2138

    15 Jun 2021

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  11. Public Bookmark *

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    Exploring an ancient Jedi Temple on Vrogas Vas, Luke runs into a little more trouble than he bargained for. Meanwhile Doctor Aphra has been sent to secure the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, and the Inquisitor who was once Ezra Bridger has a mission of his own. Their colliding paths will lead deep inside the Temple, to the revelation of secrets decades old, made only more complicated when Darth Vader comes to claim his son.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    302,485
    Chapters:
    55/55
    Comments:
    1100
    Kudos:
    1653
    Bookmarks:
    494
    Hits:
    67024

    15 Jun 2021

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  12. Public Bookmark 36

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    From the last days on Night Island through the events with the Body Thief and beyond -- the tangled story of Lestat and Louis as seen through the eyes of Marius. Turning out to be a true friend, Marius never tires of assisting these two during the course of their twisted affairs and in the end he, who seemed to be caught in the role an eternal watcher and bystander, even gains new perspectives for his own existence. Co-written in 2001 with Cesare.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    61,379
    Chapters:
    34/34
    Comments:
    42
    Kudos:
    139
    Bookmarks:
    36
    Hits:
    3249

    13 Jun 2021

  13. Public Bookmark 55

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    Luke loves working at his sister’s daycare. The kids are incredibly sweet, equally insufferable, but still sweet. Especially when one of the kids comes with a hot firefighter dad.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    14,214
    Chapters:
    4/?
    Comments:
    65
    Kudos:
    269
    Bookmarks:
    55
    Hits:
    3335

    13 Jun 2021

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  14. Public Bookmark *

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    Fic-Exchange 2019; Alex couldn't believe his eyes. What were they doing?

    In a strange ironic twist of fate, Nile and Alex meet in an awkward role reversal. Namely, with Nile being the unfortunate spy trying to sneak away and keep his target alive, while Alex is determined to stop this nefarious plot.
    The twist?
    Nile's target is a cactus. And he kicked the door and broke it. And now he's stuck in a goddamn greenhouse with Alex Rider.
    Yassen is going to kill him.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    3,968
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Collections:
    1
    Comments:
    23
    Kudos:
    419
    Bookmarks:
    126
    Hits:
    2156

    13 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Notes

    “Well kid,” Nile said, looking tired but a bit saddened. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’ll miss you. You’ve grown on me.”

    “Aww,” Alex cooed, “then this ebony assassin began be /Niling/ my sad fancy into smiling.”

    Nile stared at him, then looked unsure at Yassen. Yassen didn’t look over his shoulder, although he did offer a monotone, “quoth the raven.”

    “I hate you,” Nile said, sounding almost gentle with it, “I absolutely hate you, Alex Rider. Where the /hell/ did you learn a goddamn /edgy poem/?”

    “I’m a glutton for extra credit in school.” Alex shrugged, “Yassen, kick his ass extra hard for me, alright?”

    Inside the helicopter Yassen waved. Alex /beamed/ and waved back.

    “Fucking ridiculous,” Nile said, shaking his head slowly, “all this for some goddamn cactus.”

    “I love you too, you prick!”

    “Your principal called! Said you’ve gotta get back to your little lunch hour!”

    Alex laughed, “King Louie Some-random-number is looking for where his outdated fencer went! Better scuttle on back to the dark ages!”

    Nile flipped off Alex Rider, and finally started to see why Yassen liked him so much.

  15. Public Bookmark *

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    You’re Yassen Gregorovich, Alex tried to say over the dead shot body of Sayle.
    The Russian stared at him, eyes fixed on Alex’s face. It was impossible to tell what the man was thinking, even as Alex shakily reached to his face. Smearing blood across his cheeks, drooling foam from his mouth.
    I can’t breathe, Alex realized, and only then did the pain register.
    “Stop trying to talk.” Yassen Gregorovich said, talking with no trace of an accent in his voice. He spoke softly, direct with a purpose Alex couldn’t register. “You have been shot through your throat.”

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    12,068
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Collections:
    3
    Comments:
    50
    Kudos:
    566
    Bookmarks:
    182
    Hits:
    4245

    13 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Tags:
    Bookmarker's Notes

    “Yassen, /Yassen/!” Alex shrieked, clutching the mirror between white gripped knuckles. “Yassen there is /something wrong with my teeth/.”

    Alex snapped his head up, looking a bit white, “Yassen /do I need braces/.”

    Yassen inhaled, and exhaled carefully. Composing himself before he responded flatly. “No. Those are your teeth.”

    “No shit,” Alex gasped, poking one with his finger, “I need a dentist, /now/. Oh god, what is-.”

    “Alex, sit.” Yassen snapped, already fishing for something Alex could fiddle with. 

    “What is going on,” Alex whimpered, clutching his knees. “What is, what’s /happening to me/?”

    “You’re growing up.” Yassen said, wishing that Hunter was still alive to give the talk.

    “Puberty doesn’t involve monster teeth!”

    “It does for you.”

    Alex swayed, paled, and gazed at his knees. He blinked quickly, gaining a greenish hue. Yassen recognized the signs of vomiting before they began, but Alex’s strange heaving motions didn’t accomplish anything. It made sense that his vomiting regurgitation reflex was different also.

    “Oh god, oh /god/.” Alex whispered, staring at his hands in disgust and absolute repulsion, “you- I did. You weren’t lying. Oh god I /did eat Sayle/.”

    Had he not realized that? Had he simply ignored it before?

    “Oh,” Alex said, succumbing to hysterical laughter. His teeth flashed like something feral and wild, eyes bright. Something /moved/ across his eyes- a second thin eyelid. Yassen doubted Alex knew he had it.

    “Oh god I’m a monster, I’m a /monster/!” Alex screamed, and looked at Yassen with all the signs of an idiotic idea. Luckily, in the past few weeks, Yassen had learned how to deal with such foolish impulses.
    Alex lunged at him, and Yassen sighed as Alex flailed and tried to get the knife on his thigh out of its holster. It had a button for release, one that Alex apparently couldn’t find. His desperate clawing was accomplishing nothing other than burning his hysterical energy.

    “Are you done?” Yassen checked, Alex shrieked and kept trying to get his knife free. Apparently not.

    He kept thrashing and clawing, his efforts useless. After a while, Yassen resigned himself to having to intervene. Alex was now hiccuping in strange gasping sobs. 

    “Come on,” Yassen said, scooping the teenager to cling to his side like a leech. He waddled (limped) into the kitchen, depositing Alex on top of the island. Alex hunched there, crying and grabbing his hair as snot and tears ran out of his nose. “Have a shellfish.” Yassen offered, giving him a raw mussel. Alex sobbed and stuck it in his mouth, sniffling around the black shell. After a while, Yassen reached out to awkwardly rub his back. He had read a few books and deep pressure was advised for sensory and emotional breakdowns.

    Alex snuffled, obediently gnawing on the mussel. It cracked and shattered like broken glass, but Alex managed to chew and swallow it down happily. Yassen didn’t understand.

    “...Yassen?” Alex asked quietly, strangely vulnerable, “...am I a monster?”

    “Not more than me.” Yassen responded instantly. “You are something different. Your father was as well. He died before he could explain to me fully your species. I’ve categorized you as leviathan.”

    “I’m a /leviathan/?” Alex asked, still sounding incredibly weak and distressed, “like, like Cthulhu and-.”

    “No,” Yassen said, applying more deep pressure, “you are simply something else. You are still Alex Rider.”

    “I’m Alex.” 

    “Yes,” Yassen confirmed, “I will not let you starve yourself to pretend you are something you are not.”

    Alex sniffed, stared at his hands and the flooring and then the fridge. Quietly, he asked for another mussel.

  16. Public Bookmark *

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    He said, “aren’t Tuques only Canadian hats?”

    His enemy, maybe in his twenties, shrugged and looked at his hat with open misery. “Yeah but puns are really important to me in crisis situations.”

    Hunter almost paused, “...puns?”

    “Wool, that was anticlimatic.”

    Hunter put the gun on the nearest table, deciding not to use it as a throwable weapon. “Jesus.”

    The other scoffed, looking visibly upset. “Oi! Fuck ewe.”

    Okay, this kid had to die.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    5,753
    Chapters:
    1/1
    Collections:
    1
    Comments:
    46
    Kudos:
    490
    Bookmarks:
    119
    Hits:
    2479

    12 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Notes

    They stood there for a few minutes, Alex tapping his fingers along the lamp. It was a steady rhythm, normally trained out of agents. Another oddity.

    “So, uh,” Alex said awkwardly. “Are you going to try and kill me? You’re probably really confused. Oh shit, was Princess Diana alive when you were?”

    John blinked rapidly, “I killed Princess Diana.”

    “You absolute-,” Alex said, cutting off his words with a muffled broken noise. “I can’t believe- she wasn’t hurting anyone!”

    “I’m /dead/! I don’t get to feel bad!”

    “Yeah well, Princess Diana is dead now too! I wonder why!”

    John couldn’t explain why, but he started to laugh. A little bit in shock and confusion. The information slowly starting to catch up with him. “I’m going to burn this building to the ground.”

    “Okay, I’ll help with that,” Alex agreed, completely exhausted. “Did you really have to kick my face?”

    “Did you really have to drop the ceiling on us?” John asked.

    “It was a calculated decision,” Alex said, “but God, I’m bad at math.”

  17. Public Bookmark *

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    Will knew what had happened. He knew exactly how Abigail's ear had gotten into him, who had shoved it down his throat. He also knew that trying to indicate Hannibal as a killer again was futile. Jack seemed to want to believe him, going by the conversation in the BSHCI's visitor hall, but Jack needed something concrete, evidence. Hannibal had eluded capture for so long, he wasn't going to start leaving fingerprints or hairs at his crime scenes now.

    No, Will was going to deal with Hannibal Lecter on his own terms. The man deserved to reap what he'd so carefully sowed, didn't he? He deserved to experience what he'd coaxed forth from the bottom of Will's soul, to see the result of his machinations.

    ---

    After his release from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Will doesn't return to work for the FBI.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    72,764
    Chapters:
    14/14
    Collections:
    7
    Comments:
    1020
    Kudos:
    7252
    Bookmarks:
    2678
    Hits:
    139484

    12 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Tags:
    Bookmarker's Notes

    /Until death do us part, and all that/.
     
    He looked at the backyard, the lawn finally emerging from under leftover crusts of snow, the lonely tree by the small pond. “I want a bigger yard.” The words came impulsively. “With a shed, where I can keep my boat motors. Space for my dogs.”
     
    Something large and sprawling, with real trees and a real sight of the outdoors, not the façades of town houses on the other side of the street, or the next tiny yard one house over. A river nearby would be ideal. “On the outskirts, where it's quiet. Quiet/er/.”
     
    He turned to observe the impact his words had.
     
    For all of two seconds or so, Hannibal looked nonplussed. The puzzlement was quickly replaced by something best described as 'cat that got the canary'. Will could /tell/ Hannibal was trying to contain his satisfaction, to appear nonchalant, but he was getting better at reading his expressions.
     
    Lightly, Hannibal said, “And here I thought I'd spend the next years attempting to persuade you.”
     
    Will didn't know what had brought about his sudden change of mind. The previously listed reasons were still valid, though somehow less important now. This was going to be one of those situations where the outcome remained unpredictable, yet not /unchangeable/. If it ended in a catastrophe, at least it would end in one of their own making.
     
    He wetted his lips on the bourbon. “I have a condition. Rather, a promise.” The minuscule twitch of Hannibal's eyebrows bade him continue. “Play your games, if you must, but play them away from home. I don't care if the next psychopath comes after you, or after me. If there is going to be another Mason Verger, I'll kill him, too.” He smiled darkly. “Or watch you kill him.”
     
    “But?”
     
    “But if he comes after Abigail, all bets are off. If something happens to Abigail, I'll kill you. That's my condition. That's my promise.”
     
    Hannibal looked positively gleeful now. “Why, Will...it seems I've raised a monster.”
     
    Will snorted. “You hardly /raised/ me.” He lifted his glass in a mock toast. “You just set me free.”

  18. Public Bookmark *

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    Within minutes, he'd polished off the slice and was chasing the crumbs with a wet finger. Dinner was postponed. Taking off his jacket, Hannibal bustled about the kitchen, brewing a cup of strong coffee that would go well with the dark chocolate.

    As he cut himself a larger piece, he saw there was something written on the paper plate. Carefully, using the knife, Hannibal separated cake and plate.

    Under smears of chocolate and crumbs, it read in cursive print: Graham's Cakes & Baked Goods. Wolf Trap, Virginia.

    ---

    A bakery AU, but not really. Or, the series without Will Graham, FBI special consultant. But again, not really. READ THE NOTES!

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    53,302
    Chapters:
    8/?
    Comments:
    450
    Kudos:
    3443
    Bookmarks:
    1171
    Hits:
    51983

    12 Jun 2021

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  19. Public Bookmark *

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    Alt Title: Wendigo (current title open to change)

    Will hasn't eaten meat since his dad died when he was a kid--hasn't been able to stomach it. It's not moral, it's just unappealing. Too bad his dad never gave him the name of his butcher.
    He doesn't mind Hannibal's cooking, though, and if he could only remember to ask him who his butcher is...

    Hannibal is simply curious how deeply Will's nature is buried. He'd almost missed seeing it himself.

    Language:
    English
    Words:
    13,291
    Chapters:
    3/?
    Comments:
    76
    Kudos:
    915
    Bookmarks:
    259
    Hits:
    15821

    12 Jun 2021

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  20. Public Bookmark *

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    A seduction through physical objects. It starts with a scarf loaned to Will on a cold day, but Hannibal, as usual, isn't satisfied with anything small.

    Series
    Language:
    English
    Words:
    32,188
    Chapters:
    15/15
    Collections:
    9
    Comments:
    1946
    Kudos:
    20407
    Bookmarks:
    4923
    Hits:
    364198

    12 Jun 2021

    Bookmarker's Tags:
    Bookmarker's Notes

    “I should go home," he said.

    "You don't want lunch?"

    "I think it would be a bad idea. Shouldn't have had the second drink. I probably shouldn't have had the first." He studied the sidewalk next to Hannibal's feet.

    "Are you afraid I'll take advantage of you?"

    "Of course not."

    "Do you want me to take advantage of you?" There was no teasing in Hannibal's tone. It was a serious question.

    Will looked up at him, startled. Caught by the rising desire to say yes, which was exactly why he should leave. His defenses sagged low enough around Hannibal without the help of alcohol.

    "Maybe," he said.

    "In what way?"

    "I have no idea."

    Hannibal studied him, rock solid and unperturbed. Nothing Will said ever shocked him. No matter how honest.

    "Perhaps I can oblige. Come with me," he said.

    They walked down the street together, breath steaming in the chill. Their shoulders brushed now and then. Will stuck his hands in his coat pockets so he wouldn't do anything stupid with them.

    A block away, Hannibal opened the door to a small antique store and gestured him inside. It could've fit into a large walk-in closet. Most of the space was taken up by a display counter. Velvet lined the shelves inside it, and nearly everything on them glittered under the halogen spotlights.

    The old man behind the counter stood to shake Hannibal's hand. "Dr. Lecter! Marvelous to see you. How's the ivory eye getting on?"

    "Very well, thank you, Philip." To Will, he added, "You've seen it, I think. On the bookshelf in the study, an eighteenth century anatomical model."

    Will nodded. A cross-section in bronze, glass, and ivory, forever studying the room and its occupants. Hannibal and Philip chatted, an ear carved from bone was brought out for inspection, and finally Hannibal got to the apparent point of their visit.

    "I recall a pair of cufflinks in ebony and diamond. Do you still have them?"

    "Oh, yes. One needs a modicum of taste to appreciate that sort of subtlety, and it seems taste is in short supply these days. I took them off display for a while, one moment. I'll fetch them."

    He disappeared into the back, which gave Will an opening. "Those aren't for me, right?"

    "Of course they are."

    "/Diamonds/? Actually, forget that. I don't own a shirt with French cuffs."

    Hannibal nodded to his bag. "You do now."

    Will glanced into the bag and saw nothing but a froth of black tissue paper. He rubbed at his forehead. "Okay, but. Diamonds?"

    "You asked me to take advantage of you," Hannibal murmured. "That's exactly what I'm doing. And you're going to let me, aren't you?"

    Will couldn't tell if the heat in his face was the scotch, or the close air of the small shop, or the absurd blush he suspected. He looked down and swallowed hard, eyes fixed on the toe of Hannibal's shoe.

    The silence stretched. Two clocks ticked, just out of sync, on a high, dusty shelf.

    "Yeah," he said, a little hoarse. "I'll let you."

    "Good," Hannibal said.

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