Hannibal can feel the brush of the grass over his ankles. It tickles underneath his pants and lightly soaks his socks, and he glances over to the gravel driveway before deciding against it.

Will is, in all likelihood, drugged thoroughly enough that he won’t wake for small sounds outside the house. He’s likely primed to ignore them, anyway; dogs moving around, wind rustling through the trees and bushes, wildlife going about their nightly activity– the nights in Wolf Trap are hardly silent.

Still, Hannibal had decided to approach the house silently, and he is committed to carrying through on his plans unless there is a very good reason not to. So he approaches the house from the grass, and steps silently and carefully onto the wooden porch.

There are curtains drawn, but as there is no artificial light near enough to cast a glow from the outside, so Will clearly hadn’t felt the need for them to be carefully arranged. Hannibal stares in through a crack, and can see the outline of the dark mound on top of the pullout bed that Will, for some reason, usually sleeps on in the living room.

He’s twitching slightly, but it’s the unconscious little movements of sleep, not the tossing and turning that would lead Hannibal to believe that he’s in danger of waking. He’d been unsteady on his feet when they’d finished dinner– too much wine, Will had insisted shamefacedly, though of course Hannibal had known better– so Hannibal had insisted on driving him home. He’d dropped him off in front of the house and watched until Will was safely inside before driving away, pretending to be oblivious to Will’s longing, sidelong glances as he stepped out of the car and Hannibal didn’t follow him.

Not because he didn’t want to. Of course Hannibal wanted to go inside with Will, slowly strip his clothes off him, tuck him into bed and run his hands over his forehead as he dropped off to sleep. He just had better, more elaborate plans for the evening.

Plans which he had considered giddily while driving away, then doing a U-turn after a reasonable amount of time had passed and heading straight back to Will’s house. Plans which he really should have entirely worked out by now, the moment that he’s standing outside of Will’s front door but somehow hasn’t, quite. Will’s presence always throws him for a loop, and now there are too many possibilities to settle on even what he’s going to do first. He’d planted a few small pieces of evidence, his first time here, but it would be prudent to set backup plans. The psychic driving of the nightmares is coming along nicely, and the thought of leaning over Will’s shaking, sweating form and convincing him that the barriers between dream and reality are porous makes his heart flutter in his chest.

And some parts of him wanted… other things. As-yet-unexplored ways to take advantage of Will’s sleeping form.

He doesn’t even have to turn the handle; the door is not only unlocked but actually cracked open. Hannibal realizes as soon as he enters that it must be for the dogs; they can very likely nose it open, if they need to go outside during the night.

He’s prepared for the dogs, of course, with sausage. They’re friendly with him from his last visit, and the first order of business is to lead them to the far corner of the room, away from Will’s bed, and spread out his peace offerings on the floor for them to pick over.

He straightens up, and his eyes have adjusted to the darkness of the interior of the house. It smells vaguely of oatmeal, and Hannibal can’t figure out if it’s a smell soaked into the walls from the previous owner, or if that scent is somehow a piece of Will. He feels drawn to explore the house; it would feel exquisite to do so now, while Will is asleep in the living room. But the drug is also at its fullest strength now, and if he wants to draw nearer to Will, bear witness and make adjustments to his extraordinary brain, he should do it soon.

Will smells of sweat and wine and fever and drug, and it only gets stronger as Hannibal steps slowly, carefully makes his way across the room. The floorboards creak a little bit despite his best efforts, but Will is asleep, drugged, and– Hannibal suspects– in the grip of his fever-nightmares to a sufficient extent that anything that happens to him now will only become part of the landscape of his dreams.

He’s covered in a single sheet, which is already twisted up in his limbs. Hannibal draws up to the head of the bed and kneels down, leaning in to scent at the space where Will’s collarbones meet his neck, sweat collecting in the hollows. Will moans, a pained sound in reaction to the images behind his eyes, and Hannibal breathes deep.

He will think of which images he wishes to plant in Will’s mind– in a moment. For now, he merely wants to take him in: mouth slightly open, a strand of spittle trailing from his bottom lip. Neck twisted at a sharp angle, the pillow folded over underneath. He’s wearing a t-shirt, which is already nearly soaked through with sweat, and in a gap where the sheets have twisted up and fail to cover him completely, Hannibal can see that he’s wearing boxer shorts.

Will has somehow wriggled sufficiently far down the mattress that his feet are hanging off of the end, and Hannibal shuffles down. He’s not wearing socks. His feet are stacked on top of each other, surprisingly neatly considering his general posture, ten long toes lined up vertically.

Hannibal licks his lips, and leans closer. Inspecting the delicate arch of his foot, the way each toe seems articulated and capable of strength and movement. There is a miniscule tuft of hair on the top of each one; just two or three fine short strands, but still visible.

Hannibal is not in the habit of denying himself anything. Of late, his resolve has been tested, because for the first time, things that he wants are mutually exclusive. If he eats Will Graham’s brains, he can no longer speak with him. If he decides to put him in jail, Hannibal cannot also keep him in his own bed for that duration. It seems he is constantly being forced into decisions, when it comes to Will.

Will is coming along admirably. His destruction– in reality not a destruction at all, but the fire that precedes a rising phoenix– is beautiful and devastating to behold. Really, everything Hannibal is doing is just helping him along a path that Will could easily have set off down himself.

So Hannibal allows himself a small luxury, a setting aside of his long-term goals for his short-term pleasure. He shuffles down the bed, his knees making a soft whispering noise against the floor. They ache slightly, but it is a pleasurable feeling to be reminded that he is kneeling at the foot of Will’s bed.

He reaches out with his mouth, allowing his tongue to poke out just enough to graze over his lower lip. Wet, warm; he can feel the heat of his own mouth as if he’s Will. As if Will really is liquid, and the sweat pouring out of him is empathy that can seep into Hannibal, so that he can feel Will the way Will reaches towards him. He closes his lips softly over the big toe of the left foot, and sucks.

It tastes like sweat and musk and the inside of a shoe; Will clearly hadn’t bothered to do anything but undress and fall into bed. Hannibal breathes deeply and draws up saliva from his throat. He pushes his tongue out slowly, sliding in between the toe in his mouth and the one beside it, into a small undiscovered place in Will’s body where– Hannibal is nearly certain– nobody has ever been before.

The thought of being here first ignites him. That perhaps nobody has ever touched Will like this before. At the very least Hannibal is certain that nobody else has ever wanted Will like this before; that would be impossible. He gathers more spittle, sucking at his cheeks, and spreads it down. He laves his tongue down the channel created by the arches on the undersides of each one of Will’s toes, and when they’re finally coated with slick warm spit, he glances up.

Will has rolled over a little bit. He’s still very much asleep, but he has a different expression on his face: less pained. As much as Hannibal loves to see Will in pain, he has to admit that he likes Will looking like that, too, so long as Hannibal is the cause.

He slides his head forward, taking nearly the entire ball of the foot in his mouth, and feels his teeth just barely graze Will’s skin. Hannibal grinds the heel of his hand into the erection growing in between his legs, and can’t help the tiny moan– more of a whimper, or maybe just a vibration– that escapes him.

And Will answers it, moans like he knows exactly what’s being done to him. Hannibal has never wanted so desperately to be inside someone else’s head. Where is he, in the dream? What is he feeling? It’s maddening, to not be able to see the complete picture.

Maddening enough that he scrapes his teeth, just a little, down the skin of Will’s foot.

Hannibal pushes his hand harder into his groin, and begins to rock back and forth. He scrapes his teeth again. It feels so good; like he’s testing the give of the barrier that separates Will from the outside world. It’s soft, porous, could be bitten right through so easily. Hannibal has to remove his mouth from Will’s foot to get his hand properly inside his pants, but it’s worth it. And once he has his cock firmly in hand, he returns his mouth to the other foot; just as warm, just as welcoming as if it was just waiting to be slicked and sucked and bitten, and Hannibal is nibbling, at the too-long toenail, he can’t help himself, grasping his dick like–

–“Whaa?”

The noise is entirely unlike any of the sounds that Will had made from the confines of his nightmare, and Hannibal’s head snaps up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remove the foot from his mouth before moving his head rapidly, so he ends up biting Will’s toe rather more sharply than he intended, and doesn’t even have time to enjoy the fact of his having bitten Will Graham, because Will is struggling awake as if through a thick fog, muttering curses all the way. And Will is sick, and drugged, but he is also one tenacious motherfucker, and Hannibal has no doubt that he can fight his way back to consciousness if he decides he’s going to.

This is not a position that Hannibal has any desire for Will to consciously see him in, at this juncture.

Hannibal doesn’t run away. He has never run away from anything in his life. He simply exits expeditiously, not caring at all that the gravel crunches under his feet as he makes his way back to his car.

Once inside, he sits for a moment and breathes hard. He tucks his half-hard penis back into his pants. Then he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and begins the drive back to Baltimore.

***

“It’s good to see you, Will,” says Hannibal. The smooth leather of the seat under his fingertips soothes him. So, too, does the familiarity of Will sitting opposite him in Hannibal’s office. His home court. “You look better than yesterday.”

“I feel better,” shrugs Will. “Had a really good night’s sleep, for some reason. Must have been the wine.”

Hannibal merely nods, not trusting himself to respond.

Really weird dreams, for some reason,” Will continues. “Still, can’t complain. Better than my usual, actually.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” says Hannibal. “Tell me, what were these better dreams about?”