Will hangs around the living room for a while when it arrives, unsure of what his role is supposed to be in the proceedings. Hannibal likes to do things with an audience, usually; so the fact that he accepted a rather hefty package and then immediately absconded to the bedroom with it is somewhat odd.

After about an hour, though, he decides that he wants to know what the hell Hannibal is doing more than he wants to avoid whatever the consequences would be of bursting in on him in the wrong moment. It is a testament to the amount of extra soundproofing he’d had left after he had finished with retrofitting the basement, which he’d ended up using on pretty much every room in the house, that he only hears it as he approaches the door: an unearthly noise coming from the bedroom, somewhat like a very well-controlled wail.

Will pushes open the door, and finds Hannibal sitting on the edge of the bed, with a coffee table set up in front of him, and his special delivery set up on top of it. “Will,” he says. “Finally. Come here.”

Will leans against the doorway and scratches at his forehead, instead; the scar above his brow and across his cheek are constantly itchy, which Hannibal claims will stop eventually if Will allows him to rub some sort of very expensive oil into them each night. “You mentioned this once,” dredging up the memory as if from a past life. Hannibal had only ever played the harpsichord for him, but he had mentioned this once, after the Tobias Budge incident; early enough in their acquaintence that Will had been unsure whether the mention was an invitation to ask for a performance or not.

It’s an odd contrast to his haprischord posture, where Hannibal is apt to look severe and concentrated. Now, he’s sitting on the edge of the bed, with one of the extra blankets draped over his shoulders. His legs are spread on either side of the small table in front of him, and everything about his body seems looser and more relaxed. He beckons Will over again, and this time Will goes.

“Playing the theramin requires stillness throughout the entire body,” Hannibal says gently, “so the best position from which to approach it is a certain type of alert relaxation. Like a hunter stalking prey.” He pushes himself a little farther back on the bed, and opens his knees even wider; clearly an invitation for Will to sit in between them. He does, dubiously, and leans back into Hannibal’s arms.

“What kind of prey are you stalking?” he asks.

Instead of answering, Hannibal guides Will’s hands towards the instrument; one towards the long rod pointing straight up, and the other in between a loop of metal. The instrument makes a sound like a radio being tuned far too fast, and Will flinches.

Hannibal places a hand on his chest. “Steady,” he says. “If you find the hunting metaphor too exposing, perhaps think of it as one of your strays, cowering in the woods.

Will rolls his eyes, but stills. There is something unnerving about Hannibal’s energy, this position, the way the air in the bedroom feels almost cloying.

“The pitch goes up as you bring your hand towards the pitch antenna, and down as you move it away,” Hannibal murmurs. “So long as it’s within range, the volume antenna raises the volume as you bring your hand farther away.”

“Seems counter-intuitive.”

“Yes, if you view proximity as the variable to which the volume ought to be tied. View the gesture as a whole, instead. Larger gestures correspond to louder sounds, both in music and in our daily life.”

“I guess.” Will brings his hand close enough to the volume antenna that the resulting sounds don’t grate on his hearing, and tries to make sense of the pitch antenna. Every note seems to slide around in the air, even when he thinks he is being very still; it is practically impossible to come back to a note he’s left after he’s left it.

Hannibal tucks his chin into the space between Will’s shoulder and neck. “A theramin is an instrument that can create exquisite music without ever needing to be touched, but it requires the rare gift of perfect pitch to play properly. The player must be able to know what note they are playing without reference.”

Will bites his lip. He feels odd, a creeping sensation of dread that there is something underneath the surface of this conversation that he will have to look at eventually, but he can’t see it yet, so he pushes. “Why?” he says. “I don’t see why you couldn’t learn to play a theramin exactly the way you learn to shoot a gun. You learn how to arrange your body, and you do it enough times to absorb what happens as a result of every tiny variation. Eventually, you understand the air surrounding your body and the target so well that you know where your shot will hit before you even pull the trigger.” He bites his lip. “So I’m told. I was never all that great a shot.”

“Perhaps that is true.” Hannibal watches as Will alternately curls his fist, then opens it to its full length. It makes a little over an octave, so he experiments with the angle of his fingers until opening and closing his hand produces a perfect octave every time. “Very clever,” says Hannibal approvingly.

Will glances to the side, and catches Hannibal’s glance: adoring, yes, but also calculating. The cold river of understanding creeps up his body, filling his mouth and nose. “I’m not the first person you’ve showed this to, am I?” he says.

Hannibal tosses his head just slightly, a fringe of hair that had been falling in his eyes sweeping over his forehead instead. The motion jostles the theramin, and it makes a high protesting noise. “Jealous, Will?”

Will considers it. Sorting out threads of emotions takes time and concentration; usually, it simply isn’t worth it to figure out whether what he’s feeling truly belongs to him or Hannibal. They share enough already; they can share emotions perfectly well. This time, though, he makes the effort.

“No,” he says eventually. “No, I’m not. But you want me to be.” He can practically see the scene, now that he knows it’s there to see; Hannibal curling protectively around Alana, leaning in close to whisper in her ear about his otherworldly musical instrument. He can feel her trust, her innocent intruigue, the way she can ignore everything about her situation that just doesn’t feel right as long as she has Hannibal directing her gaze in what must, surely, be the right direction.

Will slumps back, and the theramin squeals in protest. “We’re not killing Alana,” he says. He can feel Hannibal gearing up to speak behind him, and adds, “That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? I’m supposed to be jealous, like with Bedelia, and finally then I would agree to it. It’s not happening, Hannibal. I’m perfectly wiling to cop to jealousy when it’s appropriate, but I’m not going to back down on this.”

“Very well,” says Hannibal soothingly, “We’ll discuss it later.” Will snorts. He suspects they’ll be discussing Hannibal’s outstanding claim on Alana’s life for the rest of their days; but as long as he keeps putting it off indefinitely, the discrete choice to prevent her death every time the issue comes up will eventually go towards the continuous state of her simply being alive, Hannibal’s promise unfulfilled. Until she dies, or they do.

Hannibal nudges him forward. “Show me your hand position idea again,” he says. “Perhaps we could experiment with the fingers.”