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It’s not the first time he’s turned up at Hannibal Lecter’s house at an antisocial hour. But it’s definitely the first time he’s done it shit-faced.

The doctor’s looking at him as if - well, actually, as if he’s glad to find a disheveled, whiskey-soaked Will Graham on his porch at three in the morning.

He’s wearing the familiar grey robe over pyjama bottoms. He’s barefoot and his hair is decidedly mussy.

‘I missed the party then?’ Will attempts a nonchalant lean against one of the portico columns. He fails miserably and slides gracelessly to the cold stone floor.

‘By several hours.’ Hannibal looks down at him with a quizzical smile. ‘Though it seems you’ve been enjoying one of your own.’

He hasn’t moved from the doorway, and it suddenly occurs to Will that perhaps the doctor isn’t alone. His heart lurches at the thought.

‘Yeah. Sorry. I’d better...’

He rubs thumb and forefinger over closed eyelids.

‘I’ll go.’

‘Nonsense.’

A hand beneath his elbow draws him up. Hannibal looks out onto the shadowy street, spotlit by fluorescence.

‘You didn’t drive?’

‘Cab.’ He stumbles slightly and the hand tightens. ‘I let it go.’

‘Then you must allow me to offer you a bed for the remainder of the night.’

So polite. So normal.

I want to say yes.

‘I don’t want to disturb - you know, if you’ve got someone -’

The words trail lamely away.

Another little smile. ‘I am quite alone, Will.’

‘Okay.’

Stupid, to allow the doctor to lead him inside. To follow him to the kitchen without question. To sit placidly in the corner armchair, as Hannibal opens the chrome refrigerator and takes out god knows what.

Turns out it’s a carton.

The doctor holds it up. ‘I thought some hot milk. Unless you would prefer hair of the dog.’

Will shudders. ‘Milk’s fine.’

Hannibal Lecter is making him milk before bedtime. It’s almost funny. Will side-eyes the butcher’s block. Yeah, not really though.

Hannibal sets the milk to heat. Begins stirring it. A gentle sound. Rhythmic.

Will lurches to his feet. Mustn’t fall asleep. Instantly, Hannibal is at his side.

‘Will? You should sit down. You might injure yourself.’

So concerned. But I know...

‘Let me tell you something, my friend.’ Will reaches out, intending to pat Hannibal on the shoulder, but ends up pressing his palm to the doctor’s heart.

Correction. That gaping black maw where a heart should be.

And so what if the firm, warm muscle beneath cashmere feels so good, he wants to slip his fingers beneath the loosely-tied robe in search of skin?

It’s probably all monstery and leathery anyway.

‘Will?’

Realises that Hannibal is waiting for him to speak.

Well, let him wait. Let Doctor Hannibal Goddamn Chesapeake Ripper Lecter be the one left waiting and wondering for a change.

On a surge of recklessness, he pushes at the slight gap in the robe and it parts just enough for him to slide his hand inside.

Ah. Not monstery and leathery then.

Decidedly not. There’s crinkly hair dusting smooth skin and it smells freshly soaped. And frustratingly human.

‘I’ve already injured myself.’ Will’s eyes track over finely-sculpted features, lingering on a mouth that curves slightly downwards. ‘By falling for a -‘

Can’t bring himself to complete the sentence so instead he kisses Hannibal.

It’s a clumsy smash of mouths, and in humiliation he pulls away. But then there are hands on either side of his face, drawing him back, and Will groans as Hannibal sucks lightly on his bottom lip. Groans again when a tongue slips past the seam. His fingers spread on Hannibal’s chest and his thumb contacts a nipple. He rubs it experimentally and feels a quickening in the unmistakably there heartbeat.

To distract himself from the monster, he focuses on the man. Pushes back to thoroughly explore the mouth opened to him. There’s a faint taste of mint. He brushes his teeth before bed. How ordinary. But there’s nothing ordinary about the curl of desire in his belly as their tongues slide together. Will curls his free hand into the front of Hannibal’s robe and tugs. They’re tangled together and it’s pure bliss and utter agony.

Hannibal lifts his head. His gaze is enigmatic. Shadowed. Like the corners of the room which artful lighting fails to penetrate.

‘Is there something you wish to tell me, Will?’

Will swallows. Takes a deep breath. Wrinkles his nose. ‘The milk is burning.’

Moving swiftly, Hannibal grabs the blackened pan and dumps it in the sink. He stares down at it. ‘This has never happened to me before.’

‘I know the feeling,’ mutters Will.

His lips are swollen and tender. He wets them and he can still taste Hannibal. Hannibal, who’s walking slowly back around the island to him, bare feet padding softly on tile.

‘Will?’

He’s sobering rapidly.

‘What do you want me to say? That I worked it out watching you in the back of that ambulance? That it really pisses me off, because that wasn’t the only thing I realised?’

He can’t say it, but it’s shining in his eyes. Tears of anger mingled with tears of - of...

Hannibal does that funny little head tilt and quirks his lips.

‘Will Graham, are you trying to tell me that you are in love with me?’

‘Damn it, Hannibal, this is ser-‘

He’s stopped by a kiss that rocks his world; and with a resigned sigh, he wraps his arms around his monster and kisses back.

‘Stay,’ whispers Hannibal. ‘I’ll make more milk.’

‘Okay, but I’m crashing on your couch.’

‘Nonsense.’ Hannibal purrs. ‘I’ll be a perfect gentleman.’

‘Given where your hands are right now, I doubt that.’

A deep chuckle. ‘Fair enough. Perhaps you would care to join me for dinner after work tomorrow.’

Will groans, resting his forehead against Hannibal’s shoulder. ‘You mean today?’

‘Technically, yes.’

Will lifts his head and smiles wryly.

‘Then I guess technically I have a date with the Chesapeake Ripper.’

They share the milk for breakfast.