New Design

One wistful glance at the dismembered body in the bag, that’s all it takes.

Hannibal is alight, and every cell of his being is focused on Will. Will curses himself for being so obvious. Now, of all times, Hannibal will notice if he shows any hesitation.

“Everything alright, Will?”

Everything is alright. Better than alright. The dead body used to be a law professor who specialized, off-the-books and for exorbitant prices, in visiting students accusing mentors of sexual abuse and providing career advice that conveniently convinced the students to drop the charges. They have her divided into nine different bags. Eight are earmarked for the office inboxes of her eight most recent clients; all powerful men with a history of churning through young, naive mentees. They bought pieces of her, after all; those pieces ought to be delivered. The ninth bag is for breakfast at the end of a long night of making deliveries.

It’s elaborate, but Hannibal likes elaborate. It involves a lot of breaking and entering, but Will has discovered he has something of an aptitude for that. Will wants to do this. He shakes the momentary doubt out of his head. “Everything is great,” he says, pulling out the list of office buildings and the security measures to be bypassed at each one.

Hannibal doesn’t push, at least not immediately. They deliver the body parts, and the next day, they wake up to a slow fuck and a late breakfast and everything is perfect. It should be perfect.

“Do you care about the news reports, now, Will?”

Will is tucked into the corner of the sofa, a little overfull and lethargic from breakfast. His laptop is cradled in his lap, and the online streaming version of the local news is playing.

He bites his lip. Hannibal’s question isn’t judgemental, exactly just curious. Will of all people is very aware that many serial killers enjoy watching their crime scenes being discovered— including Hannibal, under the right circumstances. Generally, though, watching a news anchor’s pinched-looking face as they stand around on the sidewalk outside of a crime scene, only police tape and other reporters visible in the shot, isn’t either of their idea of a good time.

“At least this is actual journalism,” he says, and Hannbal ducks his head, tacitly admitting the absurdity of his devotion to Tattlecrime as a source of validation. “But… no. I don’t. Not really.”

Hannibal just watches, knowing full well that he can draw the truth out of Will most of the time just by looking at him hard enough. Will bites his lip and glances back down at the screen, hitting the mute button on the computer. He doesn’t need to hear what the anchor is saying. But even the small glimpse of the scene outside one of the office buildings they’d visited last night draws a vivid picture in his head, one informed by years of working with the FBI. The body parts they’d carefully arranged in the inboxes (and in some cases, playfully, the desk drawers or habitual lunch-spaces in the office refrigerator) of the woman’s revolting clients were now a crime scene, being carefully bagged and transported to be examined for evidence. He isn’t worried about there being any, and it’s unlikely the local police will notice the missing organs and make the connection with a supposedly dead pair of cannibals. He just—

“You don’t like the idea,” Hannibal says, “of our art becoming evidence. First categorized, then gathered and disposed of, or perhaps returned to a family, if she has one to notice she’s gone. It bothers you. The waste.”

For a moment Will just blinks. He should really stop being so surprised, at some point, that Hannibal knows him so well. “Nicely done,” he admits. “I… yeah. Kind of.”

Will winces a little at the echo of the word waste. He knows that Hannibal knows he doesn’t really think that. Or at least, he hopes Hannibal knows. That Will wouldn’t have spent years alternately chasing and running from him, wouldn’t have even allowed the Chesapeake Ripper inside his head, if he’d thought of his art as waste.

Someone else would have, though. Does Hannibal know that Will still sometimes dreams of the words see, see? Of a cabin in the woods, of a house where every object bears the imprint of a dead person?

He doesn’t even know why, really. Will doesn’t feel guilty about killing Garret Jacob Hobbs. He didn’t feel guilty when it happened, and he certainly doesn’t now.

He doesn’t want another cannibalistic serial killer in his head. It’s an annoyance. He only wants—

“Will,” says Hannibal gently. “I highly doubt that you got the idea from him. You are a formidable hunter in your own right. It is natural that you should have preferences for the fruit of your labours.”

Will lets out a breath. He snaps the laptop closed and shoves it to the side. “Every part of the buffalo,” he mutters. “Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly an original concept. I didn’t get it from him. It’s just… associated with him.”

Hannibal settles on the other end of the couch, feet stretching out slightly towards Will. It’s a comfortable, easy posture, and Will relaxes a bit to see that he isn’t at all upset. If anything, he seems a tiny bit pleased.

“Perhaps you could associate it with someone else,” Hannibal suggests. “When Abigail came to me after killing Nicholas Boyle, she categorized it as murder only because she did not make use of his body. Would you prefer to honour Abigail, with our kills?”

Will’s stomach twists with the easy way he says her name, how casually he can suggest honouring her. He swallows hard before he says, “You’d do that?”

“I would still prefer to sleep on a down pillow in lieu of one stuffed with human hair,” admits Hannibal. “Perhaps there are some parts that could be put to better use as compost. But if you are asking if I would follow your lead in the choosing of the destiny of our next prey, of course my answer is yes.”

Will considers it: making use of an entire human body. He’s not entirely certain what he would do with a lot of it, if he’s honest, but it’s an interesting challenge. And the thought makes the knot in his chest relax, the one that formed as he imagined the unimaginative, clinical crime scenes that the work of the previous night must now be. It would feel better, he decides. More like him, the part of him that chose to live alone in the woods with a pack of dogs and a fishing rod. Nothing to do with Hobbs at all.

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, okay. We’ll hunt my way for a while. At least for long enough to find out what way that is.”


“Those are… nice,” Will says. He peers over onto the sturdy wooden table in the back room of the house, that is usually reserved for his own fishing lures. Hannibal is leaning over it now; he’s wearing a particulate mask as he leans close in and operates a rotary tool with a sharp, pointed burr as he engraves the final in a series of… something. Will frowns, wondering if he’s supposed to know what they are.

There’s four of them, clearly whittled from human bone. The first one looks more or less like a very short needle: chiselled as thin as the bone can go on one end, and only widening up at the very tip, where Hannibal has managed to engrave some thin swirls into the surface. The next two are increasingly wide versions of the same idea, with the intricacy of the engraved design increasing as he had more space to work with. He is working on what seems to be the final piece of bone on the table, which somewhat resembles a lion’s tooth in size and shape.

“I’m glad you like them,” says Hannibal, which is somewhat ominous. He lapses into silence, and Will squints closer to see that the engraving he is doing on the largest of the pieces of bone are a series of mathematical symbols, jumbled together in a meaningless tangle, which is is copying from a notebook in front of him.

Hannibal clearly isn’t in the mood to spontaneously offer up information, and Will bristles somewhat at the idea of having to push him, so instead he just turns to go.

“Stay, please,” commands Hannibal. “I’m almost finished here, and then I’ll be ready for you.”

Will feels a jolt of fear and arousal crash into him at that, at the casual way Hannibal just assumes he’s going to follow instructions. Hannibal isn’t exactly watching him, but the buzz of the tool has stopped and he isn’t not looking, so Will licks his lips, rubs his fingertips over the scar on his forehead in a gesture that could be an unconscious tic but isn’t. The rotary tool Hannibal is using is much smaller than the bone saw, but there’s still a cutting wheel burr lying on the table, which Hannibal had clearly used for some of the less fine work. It probably wouldn’t make it all the way through Will’s skill, or at least not elegantly.

He doesn’t actually think that Hannibal is going to try to cut into his head again, but he lets his remembrance of the incident play over his face before deliberately, calmly, sitting down on a chair by the door.

Hannibal can’t hide the tiny twitch of pleasure of his mouth, and the buzz of the tool switches back on.

After what feels like an eternity, he seems satisfied, holding the bone carving up to the light before finally setting it down beside its fellows. He pulls off the mask, and picks up the thinnest sliver of bone from the table.

“Excuse me a moment,” he murmurs, and slips into the kitchen. Will fidgets. He’s rather pleased to discover he’s nervous.

When Hannibal returns, it’s with a tray of tools that he promptly places behind Will, out of sight, and nudges a finger against Will’s forehead to indicate he wishes him to keep his eyes focused forward. Will grins a little and complies. “Okay,” he says, “You’ve tipped your hand. Whatever you have planned can’t be all that bad, if you need the element of surprise to keep me frightened.”

Hannibal’s face is warm, and it’s as good as agreement when he says, “I didn’t ask for you to be frightened, Will, you made that choice on your own.” Will just smiles up at him, feeling peaceful and happy. Placing himself in Hannibal’s hands is both awful, and easy. “What’s this about, then?” he says, because Hannibal seems to finally want to be asked.

“You didn’t think that I would hand over control of the byproducts of our hunts to you without asking something in return, did you?” he says. He’s ripping open a packet behind Will’s head, and Will forces himself to stare straight ahead.

“I didn’t really think about it,” says Will truthfully. “Kinda assumed if you wanted something, you’d take it.”

“You were right,” says Hannibal, and Will feels something cold swipe over his earlobe.

He almost laughs. “They’re earrings?” he says, and can’t help a little shiver running through him. The bones of their prey, carved by Hannibal’s hands, inside of Will. The intent behind the idea is clear: perhaps they will be practical with their kills, use as much of the bodies as they can, but this one small piece will be held back: a purely artistic object, a decoration on Will’s body for Hannibal’s pleasure.

“One earring,” corrects Hannibal as he sets the needle and a piece of rubber against Will’s ear. He doesn’t count or give Will a warning, just punches through the skin in one quick movement, and Will feels a stab of adrenaline before relaxing as the shot of pain subsides.

“That was the easy part, I’m afraid,” says Hannibal. He’s working some sort of oil into the smallest end of the thinnest bone earring. “The piercing needles is hollow, designed to have the target jewellery inserted into it.”

“And your bone thing is too big for it,” Will sighs, leaning his head back against the wall. He feels slightly dizzy, which seems ridiculous considering how miniscule both the damage and the pain was. Hannibal presses his wrist against Will’s clammy forehead, pushing his hair back while keeping his fingers clean of Willl’s sweat. He pushes his hair back, then presses a soft kiss there.

“You’re beautiful when you’re like this,” he whispers. “I should do this more often.”

Will groans, eyes closed and stars dancing in front of his eyelids as Hannibal starts pushing the bone into the new hole in his ear. It’s not excruciating, but it’s a deep nauseous sort of pain that makes him want to squirm away. He doesn’t, though; instead he sucks in deep breaths and puts the worry of fainting out of his mind. If he faints, he’ll simply wake up to the job being done.

Will’s pretty sure he didn’t actually pass out, but it still feels like coming back to himself when he feels Hannibal’s cool, dry hands on the side of his face. His ear is a dull throb of pain, and he can feel the end of the bone earring pressing slightly into the skin oh his neck just behind the lobe.

“Mmm,” he groans, not wanting to open his eyes yet. “Good?”

“Exquisite,” says Hannibal, and flicks the tip of his finger against the earring just to watch Will jerk in sudden agony. He squints open one eye, to watch Hannibal’s delighted face through the stars still bursting in his vision.

Hannibal’s mouth covers his, which is a welcome distraction. Will leans in, letting Hannibal’s tongue probe his mouth and Hannibal’s hands guide his head. “It will be at least six weeks until the next one,” Hannibal whispers against his lips, and Will groans. He’d nearly forgotten about the other three pieces of carved bone on the table.

The kiss must last a long time, because by the time Hannibal pulls back, the dizziness has subsided and Will feels only a slight, tired shakiness. He holds on to Hannibal’s shoulders to help him stand, then makes his was to the work table by himself to look at the other bone earrings.

He picks up the largest one, imagining having something that thick in the piercing hole. The skin would certainly never go back to normal, if it were removed after that. But then, compared to everything else he and Hannibal have changed about each other, an earlobe is the least of his worries.

He looks at the symbols carved into the bone, and glances down at the notebook they came from.

Hannibal smiles. “When I was younger, I thought perhaps I would eventually find a way to reverse time,” he says. “Foolish. But in many ways I am glad that I failed.”

Will places the earring back on the table. He’s sure he won’t see it again until it ends up inside him, and sure enough, Hannibal sweeps the remaining ones into a small cloth bag. “You wouldn’t have let me change you, if you had succeeded in turning back time,” Will says.

Hannibal crowds into him and tugs on the back of the earring, and a wave of pain nearly causes Will to buckle over, but he can’t help smiling even as he gasps into Hannibal’s shoulder. “God, you’re awful,” he mutters, and feels Hannibal’s answering smile against his cheek. “I wouldn’t turn it back either.”