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Title: From the Inside Out
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Table: narrative_x_10
Prompt: Story 03
Author's Note: One-shot.
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.


No one else knew him the way that Hannibal did.

To be fair, he'd never given anyone else the chance to know him, Will told himself as he stepped out of the shower. He was always careful not to let people get too close, not to let anyone have a window to see inside his mind.

He didn't want to be close to anyone. He didn't want anyone to know him. He knew all too well what that led to -- ridicule, rejection, and a hell of a lot of pain. He'd been there before, and it wasn't a feeling that he ever wanted to meet face to face again.

Strangely enough, the ridicule that he'd borne in the past hadn't come from anyone he'd been personally involved with. It had come from his work colleagues.

The people he worked with now weren't like that. They accepted him -- but he couldn't help feeling he was still an outsider in so many ways. They looked as being more than a little strange -- and frightening -- because of his empathic abilities.

That was always going to set him apart from everyone else.

Will sighed, reaching for a towel to dry himself off with, then catching sight of himself in the bathroom mirror. He slowly straightened to his full height, taking stock of his body, looking at himself with an overly critical eye.

What was it that Hannibal saw in him? He didn't see anything particularly special; his body wasn't any better or worse than any other man's who was in decent shape, really. There was nothing about him that he felt made him stand out in any way.

The only thing that made him special was his empathy, and thankfully, that wasn't something that showed through on the outside.

But it was apparently one of the things that attracted Hannibal to him, so in a way, he was thankful for it. Without that special ability, he probably wouldn't have Hannibal in his life at all, as a friend or as a lover. And Hannibal certainly wouldn't know him so well.

Hannibal knew him from the inside out.

There was something about this body that Hannibal found alluring, something that kept him coming back time after time for more of him. Will didn't think it was just his empathy that kept the other man enthralled; there had to be some physical counterpart.

What was it about him that Hannibal apparently found so fascinating? Will narrowed his eyes, studying himself, but he couldn't see anything special.

He had a decent body -- fairly broad shoulders, muscular biceps, a slim waist, curving hips, slender thighs, long legs. He wasn't a bad-looking man. Of course he wasn't; Hannibal would only want someone who he thought of as being attractive.

But still, there didn't seem to be anything outstandingly handsome about him, either. Of course, he wasn't the best person to judge that.

He'd never really cared about what he looked like; actually, he usually tried to hide his good looks behind the facial hair he always sported, and the thick-lensed glasses that he didn't really need. He didn't want to be seen as attractive, didn't want to draw attention to himself.

But he couldn't hide himself away from those who looked closely enough.

So far, Hannibal was the only person who had ever done that. There had been others who had looked, but only briefly. They had lost interest when they'd found out that Will didn't fall easily into anyone's bed -- and that he wasn't experienced.

Hannibal had been his first and his only lover. Maybe he was crazy to feel that he didn't ever want to be with anyone else, to limit his experiences, but that was the truth. Hannibal satisfied him in every way; he didn't need more than what he had.

It felt as though asking for more would be greedy, especially when he was with someone who understood everything about him, someone who had already stripped him to the bone.

Hannibal had started by stripping him from the inside out; he had gotten into Will's mind far too easily, but then, it was his job to be able to do so. He was a psychiatrist; he knew all the ways to insinuate himself into someone's psyche.

With Hannibal, that hadn't felt like an intrusion.

It had been easy to let Hannibal get int his mind; he hadn't even realized that he was letting all of those protective barriers that he'd so carefully built around himself crumble to the ground. It had seemed natural, letting Hannibal inside those walls.

He had gravitated toward Hannibal like the proverbial moth to a flame -- and Hannibal had been very careful not to singe his wings. It was as though Hannibal knew that he Will was being drawn into a fire that might burn him if he didn't watch his step.

His lover had been careful with him from the very first; the first night they'd spent together, Hannibal had been almost tender, almost loving.

That thought brought a wry smile to Will's face; if there was any word that he would never use to describe the man who was his lover, "loving" was it. But that first night, when he'd surrendered his virginity to Hannibal, it had been taken with care and patience.

It was as though Hannibal had known that to be too hasty, to try to know Will's body as intimately as he already knew his mind, would only place a chasm between them. So Hannibal had taken care to bridge that gulf slowly, until it no longer existed.

However, that intimate knowledge was very one-sided.

Will knew almost nothing about Hannibal, in spite of the fact that they had been lovers for a few weeks now. There were sides of himself that Hannibal revealed freely -- and others that he kept shrouded in mystery, refusing to give Will the key to open those doors.

There were times when it was terribly frustrating not to know much about his lover's past, and others when Will felt that it was probably better for him not to know.

There was no telling what could be hidden in Hannibal's past. He'd already decided that he didn't need to know what was there; if Hannibal wanted him to know, then he would bring up the subject. If not, then he wasn't going to pry.

Hannibal might know him from the inside out, but he didn't need to know the other man that way. There was such a thing as personal space, and even though it almost seemed as though Hannibal invaded his space when he pushed against those barriers, Will wouldn't do the same.

He was sure that if he did, Hannibal would move in the opposite direction.

That was the last thing he wanted, he thought with a soft sigh. He couldn't lose Hannibal. That would send him scuttling back into his self-imposed isolation, and he didn't want that.

Hannibal had told him more than once that it was past time he let himself trust someone -- and he was right. It wasn't easy to open himself up and let Hannibal in at times, but he was doing it, one small step at a time. And it was getting easier as time went along.

Taking a deep breath, Will reached for the towel again, this time wrapping it around his waist. If he didn't hurry, he was going to be late for his evening session with Hannibal -- a session that he hoped was going to turn into yet another night of exploration and discovery.