- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
- Established Relationship
Will took his bags from the clerk with a murmured thanks. Steadily falling snow dusted him as he walked out of the market. He trekked to his car, ducking his head to spare his glasses. It didn’t work. Will shook the snow off his head before getting in the car. He took a dry part of his shirt and wiped his glasses dry again.
He wanted to say that he wouldn’t volunteer to help Hannibal cook again, but he knew that would be a lie. Oh well. It’s not like running to the market to get more vegetables and salmon was a hardship. Even in the snow.
He’d barely pulled onto the road when his cell phone rang. The Bentley’s display read ‘Jack Crawford.’
Will sighed and accepted the call.
“I swear, if you’re calling to have me come look at a body, I will become a serial killer just to spite you.”
Jack let out his own sigh. “No. No, I’m not calling for that. I wanted to see how you’re doing.”
Will kept his snort of disbelief internal. Like Jack really cared about him. Jack lived for the catch. Will helped him achieve that, but Jack didn’t care what Will went through to meet that goal. Luckily, Will had more people in his corner than Jack did on this issue. “I’m fine.”
“Do you think you’ll be back before the new year?”
Will waited for his jaw to unclench before he said, “I don’t know, Jack. How much value do you put on my mental health after I got into the head of the Great Red Dragon?”
The line was silent for a full minute. “I understand it was hard for yo-”
“No,” Will interrupted, tone clipped. “No, you don’t. You don’t understand anything about what I went through. You may know, but you don’t understand. And that’s fine. Most people don’t understand. But I will say this – if you want me to keep helping you, you need to respect the time I need between cases. I can’t take a breath if you keep pulling me under. I want to save lives as much as you do, but I won’t destroy myself for you… or them.”
The silence was longer this time. Will let it hang over them and just concentrated on driving.
If he had met Jack before New Orleans, Will could imagine being just like Jack. Living for the job. Desperate to do just a tiny bit of good in the world. But he’s not like Jack. And, for the sake of his loved ones, Will refused to be used by Jack like that.
Finally, Jack took a big breath and sighed. “Okay. Okay, Will. I guess I’ll see you whenever Dr. Maguire clears you.”
“Not a day earlier. And… try to take a breath yourself. You need it, too – whether you know it or not.” He heard Jack grunt in acknowledgement. “Merry Christmas, Jack.”
“Merry Christmas, Will. Talk to you later.”
Will said his goodbyes and ended the call. Well, that was one less thing to worry about.
The drive back to the house was quiet. Just the way he wanted it. The upcoming party would be loud enough. Especially with his family coming in from the south. Their plane hadn’t landed yet, but the party wasn’t until five o’clock. If he was lucky, he’d have a couple hours without others there. Will sighed and concentrated on the road, soaking up the quiet while he could.
Coming off the highway and into the neighborhood, the snow slowed to a stop. Will parked in the driveway and got out to collect his shopping bags from the back seat. Behind him, he heard tires crunching in the snow. Then brakes squeaked. Will turned to find a taxi at the end of the drive. He frowned and set the bags in the car again. Looks like his quiet time went out the window.
The taxi door opened. A full head of long, ash blonde hair appeared first. Then an excited smile on a face with familiar prominent cheekbones. A giddy happiness zinged through Will and he breathed out in surprise.
“Mischa. What- How did you-” Will cut himself off when he realized he’d walked forward and pulled his sister-in-law into a bear hug.
She laughed and hugged Will back just as tight. “By plane, silly. How else would I get here?”
Will rolled his eyes and pulled back. “You know what I mean. I thought you were staying with your parents in Europe. Did Hannibal know you were coming?”
Mischa shook her head, giving him a sly look. “I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Oh, it’ll be a surprise alright.” Will chuckled. “Good thing I got more food.”
“Ah, did you burn something again?”
“It wasn’t burnt.” Will gave an exaggerated sigh. “It was just blackened instead of gently poached.”
Mischa was kind enough to hide her laugh behind her hand. “I can imagine the face he made.”
“Yeah, well, I can describe it in vivid detail if you like.” Will turned back to the Bentley and picked up his grocery bags.
“No need. I saw it plenty growing up.” Mischa picked up her bags from the driveway and shook some of the snow off. “But don’t worry. He said you’re getting better at it.”
Will shrugged. He actually was getting better. Tonight was the first time in a while that a food faux pas occurred. It wasn’t even his fault this time, but he couldn’t tell Mischa that it was all due to a sudden make out session with her brother. Well, he could. He just didn’t want to.
“I’m working on it,” he said instead. “Do you need help with your bags?”
“No, but thank you.” Mischa swung a messenger bag around herself and pulled up the handle of her bigger suitcase. “After you.”
Will grinned, closing the trunk and locking it. He led the way into the house. They left their shoes by the door. Will went ahead into the kitchen while Mischa stayed behind.
“Hey,” Will greeted, setting the bags on the island counter.
“Welcome back,” Hannibal said, giving Will a soft smile. “Thank you for making the trip.”
“You’re welcome. The butcher gave me more than I asked for. Luckily,” Will added, walking closer to Hannibal.
“Luckily?” Hannibal echoed. Will saw the moment that her scent caught Hannibal’s nose.
Will grinned as Hannibal’s eyes widened. “Yup. Oh, and I picked up a stray while I was out, too.”
Mischa stepped silently in the kitchen, gifting her brother the same excited grin she gave Will. “Hello, brother.”
“Mischa.” Hannibal quickly wiped his hands off on a towel then strode over and hugged his sister. “I’m so glad to see you. I thought you were attending the winter ball with Poppa and Momma this year.”
“I was going to, but I received the perfect counterargument in the mail a few weeks ago. However, I must warn you…” Mischa pulled back a little, giving Hannibal and Will a serious look. “Poppa and Momma expect you to visit them for Christmas next year.”
Hannibal chuckled. “That will not be a hardship, sesuo.”
“Ah, you say that now, brolis. They also expect you to attend the ball.”
Both of them looked at Will.
Putting the last of the groceries in the fridge, Will shrugged. “It’s fine with me. Can’t promise your feet will survive another ball though.”
Hannibal let go of Mischa and held out his hand to Will.
Will suppressed a smile and shook his head, but took his husband’s hand anyway.
Hannibal spun Will once before pulling him in and holding him close. They swayed to unheard music. “I can teach you, mano širdis.”
Will felt his cheeks heat a little from blushing. “You’re ridiculous.”
“You’re both ridiculous,” Mischa declared, setting two bottles on wine on the counter. The labels indicated it was from the Lecter family orchard. “That’s all I could fit in my suitcase. You’ll have to stock up when you go home next year.”
“Thank you,” Hannibal said.
“Could you hide it in the cellar, please?” Will asked Mischa. “I don’t want it sitting out when my brothers get here.”
Mischa gave him a curious look.
Will shrugged as best he could while still swaying with Hannibal. “Yeah, I’ll go ahead and say sorry in advance. My family is coming for dinner tonight and they’re not as… refined as your family.”
“You don’t have to apologize, Will. I’m looking forward to meeting them.” She picked up the wine then paused, making a face. “As long as I don’t have to watch American football. It’s so very dull.”
He snorted. “Just wait.”
“They’re not as bad as Will thinks,” Hannibal explained. “I believe he’s just embarrassed about how loud they can be.”
Mischa and Hannibal shared a fond look before she headed to the cellar with the wine.
“Shall we pick up where we left off?” Hannibal teased, slowing them to a stop.
Will chuckled. “Probably not a good idea.”
“Daddy?” a sleepy voice said from just outside the kitchen.
“See,” Will teased his husband.
Abigail shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing her eye with one hand. Naptime blankie trailed behind in her other hand. “Is there a lady here? I heard a lady.”
“There is,” Will confirmed, reluctantly letting Hannibal go. “In fact, I think your Christmas present came early this year.”
Abigail froze. Her eyes went wide and bounced between Hannibal and Will before they settled on Hannibal. “Really, Papa?”
Hannibal smiled, motioning for Abigail to turn around.
Abigail turned, finally noticing their guest in the cellar doorway. “Aunt Mischa!” She bounced across the room and clung her aunt.
“Oh my God, you’ve gotten so big,” Mischa exclaimed, hugging back just as fiercely. “And brava on your letters, by the way.”
“Thanks! When you said you couldn’t come, I was super bummed, but then I thought maybe I could change their mind, ya know; it wouldn’t hurt to try anyway, but now you’re here and I’m so excited it worked!” Abigail finished, finally taking a breath. Mischa laughed.
“Abigail?” Hannibal asked.
“Would you show Mischa to one of the guest rooms, please?”
“Sure! You should stay next to my room!” Abigail grabbed Mischa’s messenger bag and started to walk out of the kitchen.
“Hey,” Will piped up. “Don’t I get a hug?”
Abigail ran over to give Will’s legs a quick hug, then took Mischa by the hand and left the kitchen together.
“Really feeling the love there,” Will murmured.
Hannibal slipped an arm around Will. The strong warmth had Will melting against his husband. A hand drifted in front of Will and plucked the glasses off his face.
“Sorry. I forgot they were there.” Will took the glasses and folded them into his jacket pocket. He didn’t really need them anyway. It was just a way to separate himself from work and the outside world. Home was a different story. He didn’t have barriers like that with the family he’d made with Hannibal.
“It’s alright.” Hannibal turned Will’s face by his chin and placed a sweet kiss on his lips.
Will hummed in appreciation then pulled back a little. “Jack called me.”
He nodded. “We knew he would. Did he try to convince you to change your mind?”
“I didn’t give him a chance. And, if he’s dumb enough to call before I’m ready, I won’t give him a choice.”
“Excellent,” Hannibal enthused, grinning proudly.
Hannibal brushed his nose against Will’s before giving him another sweet kiss. Will turned and pressed their bodies flush. He cradled Hannibal’s neck, demanding more. Will felt more than heard Hannibal’s growl of approval before Hannibal gave Will exactly what he wanted. The taste and feel of his husband drown out all other thoughts.
Boisterous laughter from upstairs brought Will’s surroundings back into focus. He broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against Hannibal’s shoulder, catching his breath.
“How long did Mischa say she was staying?” He could feel Hannibal smiling as he brushed a hand through Will’s curls.
Will groaned a little.
“She won’t be so bad.”
“I know. I was just thinking of my family.” Will lifted his head again. “Fish and houseguests, ya know.”
Hannibal nodded. “I doubt they will stay long, but we can always make out in front of your step-mother to give them a little incentive.”
Will laughed, squeezing Hannibal a little in thanks. “Give me a heads up first. I want someone to take a picture of their faces when we do.”
“I’m sure we can arrange that.” Hannibal squeezed him back. “Come. Help me prepare the salmon?”
He nodded and grinned. “Us versus rillette – round two.”
sesuo = sister
brolis = brother
mano širdis = my heart
Profilers for Christmas is an anonymous crime drama Advent Calendar featuring both art and stories. Additional information about the challenge can be found here.