Summary: During Digestivo. Hannibal prepares himself & an unconscious Will for their final conversation.
Hannibal carried him inside. Chiyoh offered to help. He was tired, after all. Frozen and bloodied, hair mopped to the side of his face, shoulders tense and stiff from having been tied back. But he refused, a silent shake of his head and Chiyoh backed away. Walked to the field, rifle in hand. He allowed himself a moment to appreciate her. How, wordlessly, she knew. This was something he must do alone.
Will lay slumped in the backseat, arms limp on the floor. Dead weight. Hannibal felt the same strain he had the night before when he carried him, though he no longer had adrenaline fueling his body. He brought Will, slow, up the steps, across the porch, over the threshold, reveling in every second of pain the twinge in his back sent lighting up his spine.
Hannibal laid Will down delicate onto his bed. Careful not to wake him with too much movement. Fearing he might break.
He’d need some time to think. Prepare. More time than Will’s body was unconsciously willing to give, so he gave two gentle flicks to the syringe, a steady gentle pressure on the plunger, and Will’s sleep took on a far more tranquil rhythm. He drifted deeper. Hannibal, finally, exhaled.
He took a step back, took a moment. Contemplated the door. It stood open behind him, winter chill seeping in through the gap. And then there was the car. Chiyoh. The ease with which he could disappear. It was, he knew, the most practical option. He could make his way to the coast and set sail, heading someplace quiet and obscure, somewhere Will would surely never find him. He’d have to leave quickly in order to get far enough. He’d have to leave now. Hannibal’s eyes, resting on the doorknob, flicked back to the bed. To Will’s pillow flattened curls, the iron streaks of dried blood along his jawline.
He shut the door quietly, though he knew Will was sedated. Nodded to Chiyoh through the window and set to work.
He took care of himself first, Will’s shower rattling to life, blood peeling off him here and there, ripping off soaking bandages. Ignoring, as best he could, the cold and awful weight inside his chest. The feeling of his lungs filling with water. Water stinging sharp against the brand on his back, the burn raw, white hot pain in every corner of his body.
Deep, drying breaths. Hannibal redressed himself, his wounds. Turned his attention to Will. He undressed him as slowly as time would allow, fingers gliding over skin with each gentle tug of fabric. Placed a cloth over what Will would not want him to see, wrestling down the urge to look. He’d never looked before and he wouldn’t now, Will was worth more than that. Although.
Hannibal sat up straight and felt, all around him, a tension. An uncomfortable air of finality. A penultimate afternoon. He looked back down at Will.
This could very well be his last chance to look. Admire.
Still, he didn’t. He did allow himself one thing, though, face in the crook of Will’s neck. A deep, slow inhale. Committing the scent to memory, locking it in its own room near the center of his mind, before he began with the water.
There were parts of Will still caked in blood from days prior, places Mason’s men hadn’t taken care of. Patches of rough blood stuck to the skin on his chest, stomach, spilt from where Hannibal had opened his head. He couldn’t deny the bizarre amusement he felt cleaning up the fallout from something he had inflicted, though of course, with Will, it wasn’t the first time. His eyes narrowed as his musings led him to the terrible realization that this would, in fact, be the last time.
Dabbing gently with warm water, watching close as beads of it rolled across Will’s hips, dripping off his waist. Hannibal changed the bandages on Will’s shoulder. Cleaned the wound across his forehead. Slow and somehow far too quick. He took his deliberate time pressing Will dry with a towel, dressed him up again in warm and comfortable clothes. Smoothing the hair across his forehead, resting his fingers against Will’s face.
He knew this would be the last time. Of course he knew. The last time his hands would grip his face. The last time he’d lay him down onto a bed. Hannibal closed his eyes and lived, for only a fraction of a second, in a world where the opposite was true. Where these actions were the first of many times.
…It was still possible. A tiny sliver of possibility rested inside Will, the chance that his journey sparked a deeper understanding of the truth of him, the truth of Hannibal. How those truths fit together.
But then there was the truth of the bullet wound in Will’s shoulder. The ugly scar across his head. The reality of their situation sat thick at the back of Hannibal’s throat, cold in his stomach.
This was the last time.
So, he cleaned up. Discarded old bandages, positioned Will comfortably, carried a chair to his bedside. Hannibal flipped to a new page in his journal, pausing to open the levy, let icy dread flood through his veins and into his pen. Worked, diligent, at solving the problem that teacups and time had laid out before him.