Will lingered in the hallway, watching the firelight lick over Hannibal’s arms, his face, the book in his hands. He made no motion, did not go to him and sit beside him on the sofa. He stood, breath held tight, wrestling with himself. He wanted to go sit there, but-
“Will,” Hannibal’s eyes looked up, then flicked towards him, turning his head to find him in the doorway, “come, sit down.”
And he’d been trying so hard to avoid detection, standing down wind and everything. Still, Hannibal had invited him, no point resisting now. He stepped forward gingerly, making his way consciously into the room. Here came the tricky part.
There were many seats to choose from, a sturdy rocking chair, a winged arm chair with its own ottoman, and the sofa, of course. Without looking too deliberate, too tense, without warning Hannibal, he hoped, he measured his steps and sat down next to Hannibal. He sighed with the cushions, making himself lean back in the posture of relaxation and stared into the heart of the fire, unblinking. He felt Hannibal start, pause, felt his eyes skip over the page, onto him, then back, afraid of being noticed for his watching.
“What’re you reading?” Will asked when he was sure Hannibal had read the page fifty times but not taken in a word of it.
Hannibal’s fingers hesitated over the page, trying to read for him. “The
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám,” he let the pages fall open towards Will, “In translation, unfortunately. I plan to learn Persian to read it properly.”
“All that for a book of poetry?” Will mused, tilting his head back.
“It is beautiful,” Hannibal explained, “and deserves to be understood in its native tongue.”
Will nodded thoughtfully, “Well, that’s one project for the future.” He winced; they hadn’t discussed the future yet. At all.
“Yes…” Hannibal hesitated, feeling the elephant in the room, “if I find myself with enough time on my hands to-” He silenced abruptly as Will’s arm came down around his shoulders.
Will gulped, feeling like a high schooler on his first date, all stilted movements and anxious energy. Keep calm, relax; it wasn’t as though they weren’t both mature adults who had done this a million times before with other consenting adults. There should be no problem, no awkwardness, and yet… his heart beat in his throat like a bird thrashing at its cage.
Cautiously, Will stroked his thumb against Hannibal’s shoulder, almost to remind himself it was there, real and solid. Hannibal jumped, nearly dropping his book, “Will, your arm-” he fumbled, trying to turn to Will without turning in to Will and finding the proximity made this almost impossible. To look him in the eye he’d have to get closer.
“I’m nearly healed,” Will swallowed, his voice sounding high and foreign, “besides I should be stretching it anyway, so I’m not so sore. So the muscles… heal the… the way they’re supposed to.” He tried not to watch Hannibal, curving into him, pressing against him. He tried to focus on the fire as Hannibal gave in to the position Will had put them in with the softest sigh. It couldn’t be done.
Hannibal turned his head to reply and found his cheek brushing against Will’s shoulder. His eyes closed instantly, his lungs involuntarily inhaling. Will felt his bicep tense with nerves, there was a painful yank at the still closing wound, but he gave no sign of pain, transfixed on Hannibal.
“Physical therapy,” Hannibal returned abruptly, lifting his cheek, voice rough and low, “will be the hardest part of the healing process. It will be… lengthy and very painful for some time.” He licked his lips, trying to open his eyes all the way and failing, “You should still be resting.”
“I can sit here.” Will felt his hand come around Hannibal’s shoulder, palm flat against his arm. His body decided before he did that he wanted Hannibal closer.
“Could we… just… come here,” he mumbled, squeezing Hannibal to him with one long pull.
Hannibal’s last restraints broke. Before Will knew it he felt arms wrapped around him and a face pressed into his collar. Stunned, he put both arms around Hannibal and held him. Hannibal fit into him like a warm, heavy blanket, pressing against him everywhere he felt lonely. Though he’d been alone, he’d never felt lonely… until Hannibal. Only made sense that being with Hannibal could soothe that ache, maybe the only thing that might.
Hannibal’s hands skirted the edges of his bandages, wary of pressing too much, of being too much. Yet, he held tight, squirmed half into Will’s lap, as close as he could possibly get. Will could feel his heart beat, a skittering patter in reckless time, and he was sure Hannibal had no idea Will knew about it. The moment reeked of desperation, and yet… his arm curled tighter around Hannibal. And yet he pressed closer and yearned to feel Hannibal melt against him, melt completely.
Hannibal gave, he shuddered, he kept perfectly silent, but he shook like a leaf. Will held him close and never once thought about letting go. Hannibal gave so beautifully, he pushed and melted and succumbed so perfectly in his arms. This… this was nice. It was actually… really nice, holding Hannibal. He hadn’t expected that.
Will let his head fall against Hannibal’s, let himself breathe in his hair, press skin to skin, rest together like this. He listened to Hannibal breathe and slowly their breaths fell together. He lost track of time and was on the point of sleep when Hannibal murmured something in his ear.
“The fire’s all but gone, we should go to bed.”
The words struck a bell and cracked Will’s eyes open. He was still holding onto Hannibal, smushed together in one corner of the couch. “N-No, don’t go,” his voice croaked, groggy. The implications of it didn’t register immediately, too tired to remember to care too little.
Hannibal paused. “I won’t. But wait here, I’ll get some blankets.” His legs hit the floor and he slowly rose, untangling himself from Will’s arms with unfair grace. Will whimpered, freezing where his Hannibal blanket had been. He closed his eyes and curled onto the sofa completely.
Hannibal returned. He knew he returned because he felt warm again, he felt welcome pressure and weight on the sofa, covering him, slipping up beside him and into his waiting arms. Will’s lips lifted, pleased to be embracing Hannibal once again.
“You’ll regret sleeping like this in the morning,” Hannibal muttered into his chest.
“Won’t,” Will grumbled, one hand stroking idly at Hannibal’s back.
“We could sleep on the bed… still together.”
Will heard the request in his pause. His arms tightened, “Too tired. Drag me to bed tomorrow.” And he hunkered down, pulled Hannibal close, and silenced him for the night with a kiss.