Hannibal recalls– clearly, from one of the happiest days of his life– that he had once told Will that he worried too much.

It was true, of course, but perhaps not the whole truth. The whole truth would be to admit that, though he is perhaps less prone than others, Hannibal worries too. It’s a natural reaction: the mind casting ahead for contingencies that may have yet gone unplanned-for. Hannibal enjoys planning for contingencies; it is, almost always, possible to do so in a way that is both effective and enjoyable.

So he no longer worries when he wakes to a slight disturbance from the other side of the bed, and senses Will rising, donning a robe over his naked body, and leaving the room.

At first, when it had happened, Hannibal had assumed that Will had had a nightmare. That, of course, would be no cause for worry, except in the sense that if he does, Hannibal doesn’t want to miss it, and it’s odd that he would sleep through Will thrashing and sweating beside him.

He would have assumed that he were going to the bathroom, or getting a glass of water, but the bathroom is ensuite, and Will is gone too long for that. After the third night, when Will is gone for forty-five minutes, Hannibal had decided that the next time, he would follow him.

So he had; silently, feet accustomed to stealth from years of practice, peering down into the kitchen to where Will had sat slumped against the refrigerator.

The image is still burned in his retinas.

It had stayed with him all day, percolating in his mind. Possible solutions, or at least explorations of the situation, presented themselves to him like clouds floating by. Stabbing: too extreme, probably, and counterproductive in a situation where he and Will had just finished closing up all the unnecessary holes in their bodies. Tying Will to the bed: more appealing, and Will probably wouldn’t even complain too much, but then Hannibal would never figure out why Will was doing it. Or doing nothing, and simply observing Will in his private ritual, night after night: appealing, for certain, when he turned over in his mind the idea of infringing secretly upon the one part of Will’s life that Will thought to be a secret from him. Ultimately unsatisfying, however, and he hears the explanation in Will’s voice, even inside his own head: You don’t just want to see. You want to be seen.

Which is why Hannibal is lying on his back, keeping his breathing entirely even, as Will steals out of the room and towards the kitchen. The kitchen where Hannibal has left an assortment of pastries which he had very carefully– casually– mentioned to Will were intended for no specific time, simply to tide him over if he got hungry in between meals.

Will had just given him that little smile, the addictive one that had only appeared after they were settled and safe and Hannibal thought to fulfill one of Will’s small unspoken desires without him saying a word. An entirely new expression on Will Graham’s face; it would be enough to live off of, if bodies could feed from such things.

The pastries are on the counter, and if Hannibal still has the ear of God, he prays to them as he slowly pushes himself upright, pulls on his own robe and silently follows Will down the stairs.

He hears Will before he sees him. It’s not that he’s being loud; if Hannibal were in bed, where Will clearly assumes he is, it would be inaudible. But in the tiled kitchen, the clink of metal against ivory is distinct, and the wet, slightly obscene smacking sound of a viscous substance meeting saliva.

He peers down through the slats in the stairs. Will is not eating the pastries.

Hannibal understands something of indulgence. He feels the pull of humanity’s warring instincts, the base and animal urge to fuck and feed and kill and the ever-present tug of the desire for something more. Elevation. Effort. Refinement. He has done his best to merge the two, honour both the god and the beast inside himself, and encourage Will to do the same.

He’s still not certain how to deal with this.

Abruptly, Will turns his head, and Hannibal remembers suddenly that he cannot hide from Will, any more than Will can hide from him. Still, Will seems as if he had been intending to at least try. His eyes are wide and alarmed, and he yanks the spoon out of his mouth. A small, sticky trail of peanut butter clings to his lips.

Hannibal straightens up and descends the stairs, since there is no more point to staying in the shadows. By the time his gaze fixes back on Will, there is no more trace of uncertainty or fear in Will’s face; instead, he puts the spoon back in the jar of peanut butter and slowly, deliberately raises it to his mouth.

The jar, Hannibal notes, is not one that was in the refrigerator. He certainly would have noticed the garish colours adorning the plastic tub containing partly crushed nuts but mostly hydrogenated vegetable oil. Will must keep it in the workshop, then, among the fishing gear where it had not yet occurred to Hannibal to snoop. An oversight, clearly.

One of them is going to have to speak first, and since Will’s mouth is currently glued together with peanut butter, it’s not likely going to be him. “You spurn my offering,” Hannibal says, “And yet are apparently so hungry that you would fill your body with this.

“Not the point,” says Will. “You live with Hannibal Lecter for long enough eventually you’re just going to want to sit on the floor and shove a spoonful of cheap peanut butter in your face every so often.” His diction is slightly muddy, the effect of the sticky substance coating his mouth.

“So this is my fault,” Hannibal intones, and starts to advance on Will. Will allows himself to be backed up, and it is only once he is pressed back against the refrigerator that Hannibal recognizes the glint of mischief in his eye. Will is enjoying this.

And it is not like Hannibal to allow someone else to enjoy a situation, and not find enjoyment himself.

“You crave merely the sensation of opposing yourself to me, then,” he says, and now they’re so close that Hannibal can feel the heat of Will’s body. “Tell me, what reaction did you imagine provoking?”

“I also like the taste of shitty peanut butter,” Will taunts, and his breath stinks of the stuff. He ignores the second question, and licks brown goo off of his front teeth.

“Did you want me to find you?” Hannibal growls, and as much as he would prefer that Will had eaten the food Hannibal had made, he has to admit that this is rather more interesting. “Reprimand you? Punish you?”

Will’s hips push forward off the refrigerator subtly, and it’s as much invitation as Hannibal needs. He grabs one of Will’s arms, gripping tightly enough that the soft silk doesn’t slip against Will’s skin, and jerks his arm behind his back to spin Will around and crush his front against the cold metal of the refrigerator door. His cheek sticks to the smooth metal, pulling a slight wince from him at the press of his scar against the surface. The jar of peanut butter drops to the floor with a thud.

Hannibal gets a hand under the hem of Will’s robe and smacks the underside of his ass, the sound slightly muted through the fabric. Will jerks forward, moans, and the refrigerator rocks slightly against the wall. Hannibal hits him again, unsure of whether it’s Will who wants him to or if the desire appeared in his mind free of outside influence.

Perhaps there is no such thing as a desire free of outside influence. Even now, here, Will’s desire to degrade himself by sitting on the floor while eating peanut butter straight from the jar is influenced by Hannibal. The fact that he opposes Hannibal’s desires instead of strengthening them is hardly material.

In an instant, Will twists around and sweeps one of Hannibal’s legs out from under him. The other buckles, and they hit the ground together; Hannibal’s lower body is still irritatingly weak as a result of the bullet wound and protracted recovery. Will’s weight presses down on the tender scar, and Hannibal instinctively holds his head up off the ground to avoid concussion, and only realizes after a moment that Will had placed a hand on the back of his head to protect him as they fell.

Hannibal could easily buck him off, but he doesn’t. He would far rather feel the hard floor and the warmth of Will’s body, Will’s hardening cock pressing into his hip, Will’s left hand fishing around on the floor beside them.

“Or maybe,” says Will, “I was just looking for an opening to…”

His hand comes up between their faces, and it’s too close to his eyes for Hannibal to quite see it clearly before Will’s index and middle fingers shove into his mouth. Then he tastes the salty, chemical-acrid taste of the large blob of peanut butter on them, which Will pushes in deep and swipes around to deposit on his teeth and the back of his tongue. Regrettably, he manages to get most of it deposited somewhere in his mouth the instant before Hannibal’s teeth instinctively clamp down on the intrusion.

“Fuck,” says Will, the pain causing him to jerk for a moment and then go still. Then he’s laughing a little when he loosens and mutters “Typical,” and reaches his other hand around the bottom of Hannibal’s jaw, stretching his fingers as wide as they can go to press hard into the hinges of Hannibal’s jaw. Like he’s a dog that’s picked up something it shouldn’t.

Hannibal lets the fingers go before he really needs to, and runs a tongue over his teeth, staring up into Will’s face. He swallows the peanut butter, grimacing as he tries to get as much of the taste out of his mouth as possible.

“Oh, come on,” says Will, “It isn’t that bad.” And he leans down and kisses Hannibal, his mouth sticky with the same substance Hannibal has just tried to evict from his own. Hannibal brings his hands up to Will’s sides, intending to finally shove him off, but then Will presses his hips down and his tongue farther in and Hannibal never quite gets around to it.

Their faces are smeared with goo and Will’s eyes are bright by the time he finally lets Hannibal up for air. Hannibal’s hands have made their way underneath Will’s robe, gripping in between his thighs, spreading them apart so that Will is straddling him.

“I guess I need to find a new secret habit,” says Will. “This one might be… obsolete.”

Hannibal squeezes his flesh hard enough to bruise. “I’ll find it,” he promises. “I’ll always catch you.”

“Good,” says Will, and leans down to kiss him again.