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So aramley and I are traveling together, and I essentially double-dog dared her to write this fic despite the fact that I've never seen a single episode of Hannibal in my life, and then she refused to play unless I participated. The end result being this fic, i.e. proof positive that we are simultaneously the best and the worst. This also means I squeak in under the wire with my "at least one fic every month" policy! We actually had this finished earlier, but we didn't have Internet until tonight, so. I'm posting this so I get to decide which country's standardized spelling to use, btw. aramley wants you all to know that she had nothing to do with all the missing "u"s.

title: quis custodiet ipsos custodes
fandom: Hannibal (NBC)
pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
words: 2100
rating: pg
summary: Will and Hannibal post-consult in Rome: Hannibal wants to take Will to the Capuchin ossuary and Will just really wants some gelato.
warnings: all of my knowledge of Hannibal comes from gifsets on tumblr. aramley has seen exactly two episodes. we have, however, been to all the places in Rome which are mentioned! take that as you will. aside from the implications of cannibalism, there's really nothing offensive in the fic itself.



"But -- "

"Please, Will," Hannibal says. "It really is fascinating. I think you will enjoy it very much. The Marquis de Sade once -- "

"Okay, okay, fine," says Will, relenting. "Let's go to the Capuchin Ossuary. But then -- "

"Then yes, Will," Hannibal says, with the hint of an indulgent smile. "Then we can get gelato."

*

"That was -- "

"Remarkable, isn't it?" Hannibal says cheerfully. "The artistry involved, and the vision to see what a whole can be created from such unexpected pieces! I particularly loved the patterns made from the vertebrae, didn't you? Simply exquisite. It's a pity we'll never know who created them."

"Disturbing, I was going to say," Will says. His face is pale and sweaty. "Can we leave now?"

"Yes, of course," Hannibal says, graciously concealing his disappointment. The Capuchin Ossuary is his favorite tourist destination in Rome, and he had been looking forward especially to sharing it with Will ever since they found out they were being sent to liaise with the Italian police on a murder investigation. "You wanted gelato. Shall we walk back to Giolitti's? It's only fifteen minutes or so, and it's a lovely day."

Will's face, if anything, goes paler. "I don't think I can eat anything right now," he says. He reaches into his pocket to dig for loose change and dumps the entire handful into the bowl of the woman begging on the steps without even looking to see how much it is. "Prego, buona sera," he mumbles, accelerating away when she attempts to thank him.

"Will, death is simply a part of the life cycle," Hannibal lectures as he follows after him. "It's nothing to pathologize or be disturbed by, and certainly not -- Will!" he shouts, horrified, as Will suddenly darts out into the street, heedless of the oncoming Roman traffic, and bends down to pick up --

A mangy stray dog. Of course.

Hannibal waits until Will gets back onto the pavement before he says, "That was an incredibly foolish thing to do."

Will ignores both him and the drivers who are leaning out of their car windows or on their horns or both, instead focusing on the bundle of trembling spindly-legged dog in his arms.

"You could have been killed," he says to it, soothingly. Hannibal forbears to point out that the same could be said about Will. The dog turns its pointed head up and licks Will's chin softly and, really, Hannibal thinks, one does not need to be a psychic to see the direction in which this is heading. One only needs to know Will -- which, unfortunately, he does.

"Give me your jacket," Will says.

"What," says Hannibal. His jacket is expensive and exquisitely tailored, and a particular favorite -- he had chosen his wardrobe for the Italian trip with more than the usual care.

"She's trembling," says Will, smoothing the dog's fur again in long strokes. "Come on, it's just until we get back to your apartment."

"Will," Hannibal begins. Will and the dog turn on him a pair of eerily well-matched dark eyes. Hannibal takes off his jacket.

*

Hannibal did not require even the most cursory inspection to determine that the hotel in which the FBI intended to house him and Will was of unacceptable quality; he is instead staying in a friend's flat in Trastevere while she vacations in the Alps. Until now Will has resisted his invitations to take up residence in the second bedroom, but the needs of his newly acquired stray apparently outweigh his desire for distance and strict propriety, as he simply assumes that they will both be accompanying Hannibal back to his apartment. Hannibal does not realise this until they are in the taxi, Will looking expectantly at him as the driver asks for the address.

"The hotel doesn't allow pets," Will says, as though this is adequate justification.

Neither do I, Hannibal considers telling him, although in private moments he is sometimes forced to admit to himself that this is not strictly true.

The apartment in Trastevere is lovely: high-ceilinged and light, with polished hardwood floors that Hannibal eyes ruefully as the dog's long nails skitter across it. Will hands Hannibal's jacket back to him absently, eyes still fixed on the dog, and Hannibal hooks it delicately away on one finger; the dog smells about as good as it looks.

"Okay," Will says. He looks about as animated as Hannibal has ever seen him, practically overflowing with enjoyment. "I guess I'll go put her in the shower and you can get some food for her."

"So silly of me," Hannibal says, "but when I went to the market, I neglected entirely to buy emergency dog supplies."

"Well, that's okay," Will says, oblivious. He gives Hannibal an awkward pat on the arm. "You have other stuff, right? I bet she's so hungry she'd eat anything, wouldn't you, girl?"

"Thank you for your confidence in my culinary abilities," Hannibal says, but Will is already shepherding the dog into the bathroom. Hannibal thinks of the Egyptian cotton towels and considers raising a protest, before heading instead into the kitchen to see if he has anything fit for a stray dog's dinner.

Obviously there is nothing special that Hannibal can offer Will's new pet, and he is a bit peeved to realize that he feels disappointed by this: he may not have been expecting to host a mangy mutt for dinner, but he takes pride in his hospitality, and no matter how irritated he becomes with Will and Will's tendency towards martyrdom, the desire to impress him never entirely subsides. And so even though neither the dog nor Will is likely to truly appreciate his sacrifice, he takes the steak he was planning to cook for his own dinner that night -- a thick porterhouse, marbled through with fat -- out of the refrigerator and sets a skillet on the stove.

*

Hannibal is only half right: while Will fails entirely to acknowledge the handsome gesture which Hannibal is making for his dog, the dog eats the perfectly cooked steak daintily and with every sign of enjoyment, and then proceeds to drive Will nearly into a state of aporia when she refuses to eat any of the increasingly expensive dog food which he acquires for her.

"Perhaps she merely has an appreciation for the finer things in life," Hannibal suggests mildly, observing from the couch as Will attempts (and fails) yet again to lure the dog to her dish of kibble with a trail of packaged dog treats. Clearly bored with this game, she instead jumps up beside Hannibal and settles her head in his lap. He decides to permit her to remain there for the moment -- he isn't wearing anything that would be ruined by a few stray dog hairs, and since her initial introduction to the shower at Will's hands, she has proven to be a remarkably clean animal. Perhaps, he allows, even attractive; certainly her fur is very soft. "I'm sure she would enjoy dog treats if they were of better quality, wouldn't you, Frances?" He doesn't know any recipes for dog treats. It will be an interesting challenge, but their case is closed and he allotted a full week to showing Will around Rome; he has the time to experiment.

"I can't believe the dog likes you better than me," Will says under his breath, just loudly enough that he clearly means for Hannibal to overhear. "And what did you just call her?"

"Frances," Hannibal says. He nobly forbears to answer Will's first remark with another encomium to Frances' good taste. "It seems fitting, doesn't it? After all, we did find her after an outing to a Franciscan monastery."

"I had almost managed to block that entire afternoon from my memory, thank you, Dr. Lecter," Will says irritably. His expression is deliciously petulant.

Frances whuffs out a small, contented sigh against Hannibal's thigh. Hannibal is aware of the error inherent in attributing human emotions to animals incapable of feeling them, but still: the dog does seem to enjoy Will's distress.

"Lunch, I think," Hannibal says, rising and dislodging Frances. "I made a trip to the carniceria this morning."

"That'll be why the refrigerator looks like an abattoir," Will mutters.

Hannibal regards him slyly, aware of Frances' small weight leaning against his leg, and of Will's eyes on her. "Jealousy, Will?"

"You don't even like animals," Will responds, in what Hannibal is keenly aware is not a denial.

"Certainly I don't share your fondness for them," Hannibal says. "But since you seem so set on saving this animal I see no reason not to accommodate her."

"'Accommodate' her with fifty euros worth of prime steak, sure," Will says, but like Frances he follows Hannibal into the kitchen and watches while the steaks grill to perfection: soft and pink and almost bloody in the centre. He defers to Will's judgment on the likely dangers of including the accompanying peppercorn sauce with Frances' dinner, but she looks accusingly up at him when he sets her plate on the floor unseasoned, as though she somehow knows he has served her an incomplete course.

He finds a kind of solution in the third or fourth (fifth, Will insists, stranded outside holding Frances' leash as she now pines when separated from Hannibal and finds Will the only acceptable substitute) bookstore he tries.

"That smells really good," Will says later, leaning a hip against the kitchen counter. "New recipe?"

"Yes," Hannibal says. It's not a lie. He continues stirring the minced mixture on the stove while Will leans over and tilts the cover of the propped-open recipe book.

"Uh huh," he says, slowly. "Now, you know I don't read Italian all that well, but I'm pretty sure that's a recipe book for dog treats."

"An astute observation," says Hannibal, dryly. "Would you kindly pass the salt?"

"Okay," says Will. Hannibal chooses to ignore the tinge of amusement in his tone. "Well, enjoy. If you need me I'll be out in the living room with that dog you're so graciously accommodating."

Frances, at least, fully appreciates his efforts. Her clean plate is somehow more satisfying than all the praise that follows his most successful dinner parties.

*

"Have you given any thought to how you intend to bring your dog back to the United States?" Hannibal asks, merely out of curiosity.

"My dog," Will repeats.

"Yes, the animal which you so precipitously hurled yourself into traffic to rescue? She has been staying with us in this apartment for the past four days. I trust her existence has not slipped your mind."

"Dr. Lecter," Will says slowly, "Frances isn't my dog."

"If you are insinuating that she can remain in the apartment after we leave, I can assure you that my friend will not appreciate being bequeathed a pet."

"That," Will says, with a significant look at the dog whose newly-glossy head lies in Hannibal's lap and whose ears he suddenly realizes he has been absently smoothing, "is not at all what I was insinuating."

Hannibal immediately stops -- the word is not petting -- smoothing Frances' ears.

"Besides, Frances has expensive tastes now," Will says. "I'm pretty sure I can't afford her. The other dogs might get ideas."

There are a hundred objections that Hannibal could make. He has never been fond of animals. He dislikes mess and disorder -- as fastidious an animal as Frances has proven herself to be, she will inevitably introduce an element of chaos into his neatly ordered life. His lifestyle is in no way conducive to pet ownership, and this is truer than he can possibly explain to Will.

At the same moment in which he is preparing to launch into a detailed (though less detailed than it might be) explanation of why precisely he cannot take ownership of this dog, Frances opens her eyes to see what has happened to the petting. She pushes her cold nose against Hannibal's fingers in a wordless demand and, when he continues to deny her her due, emits an impatient high-pitched noise.

"Yeah," Will says. "That's your dog."

*

"You know," Will says idly as the plane taxis down the runway at Fiumicino, "I never did get to try gelato."

Hannibal looks up, momentarily distracted from attempting to comfort Frances, who has not taken to her airline-mandated animal carrier at all well. It is true that, in all the fuss surrounding the care and feeding and export of Frances, he may have neglected his original purpose of showing Rome to Will, and he feels somewhat obligated to make amends. He has never made gelato before, but he is hardly one to shy away from a culinary challenge, and much as he hates to be derivative, Stamets may have had a good idea with the mushrooms: a small lemon tree is perfectly feasible in the Washington climate, and easily fertilized.

"Well," he says. "I suppose I shall have to rectify that."

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