Repairing boat motors was always a source of calm for Will, but after therapy with Chilton, it was like wrestling with his own doubts.
He could hear the car stop, and the footsteps that came along with it, the carefully selected treading of an apex predator.
Hannibal watched alongside Will, staring more at him rather than his work, it wasn’t the same tender gaze that left Will feeling warm and as though his face was being caressed with just his eyes.
No, instead Hannibal’s eyes just felt hungry, craving for something as they burrowed their way into the back of Wills skull.
“You’re up quite late Will, it’s nearly 2am.”
“Couldn’t sleep,” Will grunted, “felt like I was being watched.”
“And are you?”
“You right now, though people turn up in the woods outside my house sometimes.”
“You don’t appear all that concerned.”
Will shrugged and bent down to reach into the boat, fishing out a stray bolt and setting it on top of the engine.
“Should I be?”
“Perhaps, perhaps not. Do you know why they’re there?”
“You keep looking at me differently.”
Will looked at Hannibal incredulously, “Yes? Was it what I did with the deer?”
“We can talk about it if you want.”
He frowned, “I ate it.”
Will itched his head, getting motor oil on his face as he swiped at a stray hair. Truth be told, he was settling back into bad habits again, and Hannibal could tell that he positively smelled almost exclusively like wet dog.
Hannibal was still watching, staring at Will, it felt like his eyes were devouring him as they stood.
He felt slightly intimidated by the man’s severe look, and shrunk back in on himself defensively.
“I don’t know what happened to me, ok?” Will snapped, gesturing wildly with a wrench as he spoke, “One minute I’m asleep and the next I’m eating a raw deer, sometimes I get weird dreams and sleepwalk, but I’ve never killed something before... Have I?”
“If you have, then I would’ve been unaware.”
“Great.” Wills voice was laden with sarcasm, he looked up from what he was doing, avoiding Hannibal’s gaze, “I am listening to you by the way, I just... focus better if I’m doing something while I listen.”
Will frowned at the wine in his hands, he grew frustrated at the expensive gestures that Hannibal kept displaying, it stressed him out, and the fears of having Hannibal leave him, or no longer find him and his numerous issues amusing anymore.
He had to push back, away from the doting, establish a firm boundary, despite how he craved to pull closer, have the taste of Hannibal dance around his mouth like before.
“You need to stop giving me expensive things.”
Hannibal looked up from his inspection of Wills house, “Is that so?”
“Yes,” Will was frustrated, “I can’t keep doing this, you keep giving me things, they’re expensive and I can’t even begin to repay these, I don’t want your gifts, and I especially don’t want your fucking pity, Hannibal. I’ve been infantilised my whole life by adults, my own goddamn peers, before because of my autism, and I don’t like it.”
“You feel as though I am infantilising you by gifting you things.”
“You know I don’t intend it to be like that.”
“But thats the issue! People never fucking intend to treat me differently, but I can always tell they do! I bend over backwards trying to just fit in with everyone, I constantly mask and put on a facade of myself so I don’t get seen as a freak, all the while people read about how autistic people have no empathy! About how we’re like children! How we can’t be independent! I can’t shut this off, this whole hyper empathy, Hannibal! I can’t fucking conform no matter how much it kills me, and I don’t need you to give me stuff!”
Will slumped back into his chair, defeated. He stared blankly at the wall behind Hannibal and took a sip of the wine, it only made his dry mouth feel even worse.
He spoke again, voice softer than before, “Buying expensive things for people... you have abandonment issues, you buy things to get people to like you, to stay. You want to shower people with extravagant things to make up for when you didn’t have money, you don’t want people in a similar situation as you did.”
Hannibal didn’t seem to show any visible expression, but he was internally impressed at just how easy Will was at reading people, no doubt formed by having people in his life constantly letting him down. He wouldn’t infantilise the man. He pondered his next move, taking a faint sip of his wine.
It was Hannibal’s turn to read Will.
“Quite observant, you always amaze me Will.” He started, “However I’m not the only one with abandonment issues; You’re autistic, it’s natural for you to be suspicious of my actions. I’m guessing as a child people pretended to be nice with you in order to gain societal standing with others. You were used to garner pity points, put on display like a toy for your supposed friends to show how they were good people.”
Will looked down at his drink, prompting Hannibal to press further.
“You prefer animals to humans, specifically dogs, because they’re honest to you with their intentions. Dogs not have the faculty to be insincere or manipulate, they’re honest with their feelings to you. You know when a dog loves you, because the dog just does. Humans are naturally deceptive. When humans show compassion you have to guess and interpret, are they being honest? Do they have an ulterior motive for their perceived kindness?”
“Dogs don’t abandon you and leave you in the dirt, humans do.” Will tacked on.
“You don’t like gifts as you feel the need to give back in a similar fashion.”
“Do you know what a love language is, Will?”
“Different ways people show their affection for others.”
Hannibal nodded, “Mine is giving people gifts, however for people to show their affection to me, I’d prefer they’d spend time with me. I don’t care about reasons, I just like having people I care about with me.”
Will pursed his lips, his words slowly forming as he thought deeply about Hannibal’s words, “I... like to spend time with people... I like... touch too, just... sitting with someone.”
A smile danced around Hannibal’s mouth, he finished his wine and set the glass down, pleased at the arrangement taking place.
“Do you like being given gifts?”
Will nodded, shrinking away from the conversation again.
“Then it’s settled,” Hannibal stated plainly, as though the resolve to Wills issue were as plain as day, “You repay the gifts I give to you in the form of spending time with me.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“We live in different places, it’s hard to spend time with a guy when you live in Maryland and I live in Virginia.”
“I found property that could suit us both, wooded area away from others, it also has a river that runs through the garden into a nearby lake, lots of space for the dogs, room for Abigail to study, room for you to fish... we could move in together, if you’d like.”
“That sounds nice.”