Will hesitated before taking his usual chair in Hannibal's office.
"I'm sorry about the other night. For interrupting."
"You're always welcome in my kitchen, Will. I know I've told you that before."
Hannibal put away his notebooks and settled into the seat opposite Will. Will watched him clasp his hands together and release them. They rested easily on his legs, while Will... Will never knew what to do with his when he was sitting in this room.
He tried resting his palms against his thighs, but it felt weird. He grasped the arms of the chair instead, too tightly.
Hannibal's eyes tracked each movement. Will wondered what he would be writing in his notes later.
"I hope the wine wasn't too terrible. My knowledge is limited, I'm afraid."
"It was most acceptable. I have a recipe or two in mind that would suit it very well."
"Oh, well. Good."
Hannibal leaned forward. "I was hoping you would join me." His voice was pitched low, giving it an appealing throaty quality. The slight upward tilt of Hannibal's lips suggested he was well aware of its effect. "I will need to make some preparations, but-- perhaps tomorrow, if you don't have plans?"
Will swallowed down the impulse to laugh. He didn't need to further expose his eternally empty social calendar to Hannibal. If anyone was aware how few plans Will ever had, it was Hannibal.
"I'd like that."
"Then it's settled." Hannibal rose and crossed over to his desk. He made a note in a book – an appointment diary of some kind, Will assumed. "I promise there will be no other guests to make you uncomfortable."
"Thank you. I've had quite enough discomfort for one week."
Hannibal turned his head far enough for Will to see a question on his face.
"I think I used up all my courage bringing the wine." He still wasn't sure of his choice, but Hannibal didn't seem to have taken offence at it.
"It felt daring."
"No, I-- yes." Will hadn't put a name to the rush he'd felt turning up on Hannibal's doorstep, but daring would cover it. He pushed at his glasses, but they still didn't feel right on his face. "I'm not sure why. This place, it's become a... a refuge, of sorts. I feel safe with you. Daring suggests the opposite."
"There are many types of danger, Will. I hope you know I would never turn you away, or humiliate you."
"I do know." Will adjusted his glasses again, bringing Hannibal back into focus. "It's just--"
"You have been disappointed before."
"People change. Or what you want from them changes. Empathy doesn't help much with that."
Hannibal smiled. "Stepping outside the lines of previously established behaviour always carries a certain risk. Especially when the behaviour in question does not come naturally to you."
There was a hint of a question in Hannibal's words.
"Are we talking about paying a surprise visit with a bottle of wine, or are we talking about the fact that it was your doorstep I ended up on?"
Perhaps he hadn't used up all his courage on the wine.
"Whichever you are comfortable talking about."
"It wasn't—" No, that wouldn't do. "I'm not--" He huffed out a breath instead of words, frustrated with the way words kept slipping out of his grasp.
"Let me be the one to take the risk here," Hannibal said. He waited until Will nodded his defeat.
"You wish me to be aware, without causing offence, that you intended no romantic or sexual overture in the gesture."
"Yes." The sense of relief was almost overwhelming. "And--"
"Also, perhaps, to communicate that you have no attraction to the male sex whatsoever."
That was the second time Hannibal had used the word 'sex' in under half a minute. Was he doing that deliberately? Will swallowed, trying to keep his voice level. "That would be correct, in my experience."
"Very good." Hannibal sat down once more in his chair and smiled.
Will wasn't sure if he should be insulted by that. "Would it be a problem for you – for our friendship – if I was attracted to men?"
"Not at all, Will. It has been a while, but I have had sexual relationships with men."
Will could see Hannibal's lips were still moving, but they slowed and slurred. He blinked and a shadow appeared, solidifying into a man kneeling in front of Hannibal's chair. Another blink and Hannibal was naked, sprawled wide with the man's dark, tousled head bobbing in his lap, eyes closed and mouth opening to release a moan--
Will blinked again, and realised they were standing by the door. Hannibal was grasping his hand as if he was going to shake it. Or was he waiting for Will to let go?
"Daydreaming?" Hannibal asked innocently. Too innocently, Will suspected. It was very hard to hide anything from Hannibal. "Perhaps we can talk about your thoughts over dinner tomorrow."
Will said goodbye and let the door close behind him. Outside in the cool night air, he sighed.
This was going to need another bottle of wine.