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Title: In the Highest Regard
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Table: Quotables Challenge, tv_universe
Prompt: "I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not." -- Kurt Cobain
Author's Note: Sequel to "Satisfying Intermission."
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Hannibal Lecter or Will Graham, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.


When the last curtain call was done and the clapping had ceased, Will looked over at Hannibal with a sigh. "I guess it's time we went home," he said softly, knowing what was going to happen when they got there. He had no doubt they would be busy.

He wanted Hannibal to take him as soon as they were in the door. He didn't care if it was on the floor, against the wall, or even on the steps.

He didn't want to wait until they walked up the stairs to the bedroom; hell, he didn't even want to wait until they made it all the way to the house. He would let Hannibal take him in the back seat of the car, or even in a broom closet here at the opera house.

He'd never felt this desperate, this needy.

Could Hannibal feel that need in him? Will glanced over at his lover as Hannibal got this feet and reached for his coat. He was sure that the other man knew exactly how he felt. He could tell from that little smile that hovered around the corners of Hannibal's lips.

That was one reason that Hannibal had done the things he did tonight; he had wanted to show Will just how much he was under his control. Will really didn't mind that; he liked being able to relinquish his tightly held control to Hannibal when they were together.

He had to keep himself under that tight rein all the time when he was at work; it was good to be able to let himself go, to be who he really was. He'd never been able to do that before he'd been with this man, and it was a relief to finally feel that he could let his guard down.

He couldn't do that with anyone else.

"Well, Will, have you enjoyed your first trip to the opera?" Hannibal asked as the two of them shrugged into their coats. "I thought it was quite .... instructive."

Will nodded, unable to keep a small smile from playing around his own lips. "Yeah, I can agree to that," he said, his voice very soft. "And I've got the feeling that my .... instruction isn't going to end there." He left the thought hanging, waiting for Hannibal to agree.

"I've no doubt that it will continue," his lover told him, opening the door at the back of the box. "But we still have to navigate the crowds before we can go home."

WIll nodded, sighing softly. He wasn't looking forward to that.

Hannibal was watching him, a small frown creasing his brow. "What's wrong, Will?" he asked, his voice soft. "Are you embarrassed to go out there before all of those people after what we've done, knowing that none of them are anywhere near your level? Don't be."

Will sighed, shrugging, wishing that he could let other people's opinions slide away like water off a duck's back. But he couldn't. He cared what people thought of him.

Perhaps too much. But he couldn't change how he felt. "I just don't .... want people to think badly of me. To get the wrong impression of who I am."

Hannibal shook his head with a soft sigh. "Will, what other people might happen to think of you doesn't matter. What's important i what you think of yourself. Whether they love or hate you is not relevant. They are nothing to us, nothing in our lives."

Will wasn't so sure that was true, but he didn't say so.

When he didn't speak, Hannibal regarded him silently, their gazes finally meeting. "Will, there are many people who dislike me, for the wrong reasons."

Hannibal took a deep breath before continuing. "I do not let what they think matter to me. I would rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. These people who dislike me don't know who I am. So their opinion carries no weight for me."

Will nodded, sighing again. "I know I shouldn't care what anybody else thinks. But it's hard not to. And it's hard not to want to hide from them."

This time, it was Hannibal's turn to nod and sigh.

"You have nothing to hide, Will," he said, still speaking very softly. "You are a beautiful man, and I'm very proud to be the person who is with you. If anyone else doesn't see that, then it's their loss. They are foolish as well as blind."

"I don't know about that," Will said with a laugh. "You see something in me that I don't see, Hannibal. I've tried, but I just can't see myself as being all that attractive." He lowered his voice before speaking again, a blush coloring his cheeks. "I'm glad you do, though."

"And I always will," Hannibal told him, smiling and reaching for Will's hand. "I will always be here for you, Will. Never doubt that I will always hold you in the highest regard, and that you will always own my heart." He gave Will's hand a gentle squeeze to accompany the words.

Will could almost feel his heart overflow.

Hannibal was right. No one's opinion mattered but his own, and that of the man he loved. Anyone else was insignificant; what they thought had no bearing on the relationship he and Hannibal shared. Nothing was really important in their relationship but the two of them.

"Come, Will," Hannibal told him, not letting go of his hand as he gestured towards the door with his free hand. "It's time to brave the masses before we go home."

Will sighed, knowing that Hannibal was right. There was one more thing to get through tonight, and then he would get what he wanted when they got back to Hannibal's house. He only hoped the time would go by quickly, and that his fulfillment wouldn't be put off for too long.