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First Dates

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First Dates

It was an early Tuesday evening that Alana turned on her television and planted herself heavily into her teal-colored sofa. Normally, she wouldn't describe herself as the type who enjoyed the brainless entertainment of the masses, but today had been a day filled with predictable, witless criminals and terrible coffee; frankly, she was exhausted.

She grabbed the remote and aimed half-heartedly at the screen to see it come to life. News; no. Infomercial; No. Cops; definitely no.

There wasn't anything in particular she was looking for, but her pizza wouldn't be here for another twenty minutes, and killing the time in silence wasn't really that alluring a thought.

Commercials. Hockey. Something about a pig-farm scandal...

Hannibal Lecter.

A familiar face flashed up on her television screen and with a jolt of her spine, Alana sat up straight on the cushions of her sofa. Neatly combed, ash hair, amber eyes and dressed in a three-piece suit – it was her former teacher.

A male voice-over rang through the speakers:

After the break, we'll see if this handsome psychiatrist with a penchant for life's finer things finds a connection with this longtime-single teacher who has adopted a total of seven stray dogs.

“Will,” Alana squeaked audibly into the room when dark curls and plaid filled the screen in the form of Will Graham, whose blue eyes peered moodily over his glasses. He was seated in a restaurant at a table across from Hannibal as he took a bite from his fork and said: “I have seven dogs.”

A close-up showed Hannibal's face, gulping visibly as he stared back at Will in amazement.

“Find out next on this brand new episode of First Dates.”

Alana watched as an ad for a toilet cleaning product popped on the screen, having some sort of cartoon duck as a mascot. But the funny-voiced, yellow bird did not register inside her brain as she sat on the couch, straight as a rod and breathing deeply through her nostrils.

Hannibal Lecter, a man of style and many talents, was appearing on a vacuous television dating show, and of all people, he was matched with someone Alana considered close to a friend. Will Graham; the unstable, lovable animal rescuer, teacher and profiler.

“No way,” she mumbled as she lowered herself against the backrest in stunned disbelief. “No way, no way, no way.”

She couldn't help feeling a cold clench in her stomach. Perhaps it was caused by not being informed that this was taking place by either one of them. Perhaps it was the realization that both men obviously had an attraction to the same sex, of which she had been painfully oblivious. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that she had considered both Will and Hannibal as possible dating candidates for herself.

Either way, both personally and professionally, she was harshly judging herself for decisions and conclusions.

But more than that, more than anything, she was curious. Very, very curious. Both men were eccentric, both were stubborn, and yet they had more opposite traits than Alana could count.

Alana reached for her glass of wine on the coffee table, and upped the volume with the remote before settling back into the couch.

Hoping, for once, that her pizza wouldn't arrive on time.

“No way this will end well.”

**

Voice-over: Welcome back to First Dates.

Street-view

Along the paved street, a man walks up the long road to the camera. He is dressed in a dark gray, wool coat, a gray and purple scarf, gray slacks with a white pinstripe, and polished, Italian leather shoes. His silver hair is slightly coiffed and parted to the side, and his gloved hand holds a small but long gift-bag.

Up next is Hannibal Lecter, a 47 year-old bachelor with his own psychiatric practice, a true passion for cooking and a knowledge of fine wine. There is only one thing missing from his home, and that is love.

Confessional: Hannibal

The camera cuts to the confession room, where Hannibal is seen sitting in a cozy studio, wearing a gray pinstripe suit, a white and red, diamond patterned shirt and a paisley, red and white tie made of embroidered silk. He is looking straight past the camera, at the person interviewing him.

“I've always been open to a relationship and I think I've got a lot to offer, but I've never found that one person to truly see me for who I am, and appreciate what they find,” he says, smiling coyly with his hands folded patiently in his lap.

Restaurant

Voice-over: “Perhaps the wait is finally over for Doctor Lecter, because he has just arrived for his First Date.”

Hannibal opens the door, his cheeks slightly tinged with the outside cold as he steps inside and walks to the host's podium, taking off his gloves.

“Good afternoon,” he says politely, as he folds his gloves into his pocket. In his hand, he still carries the gift bag while the other unwraps the scarf from his neck.

“And to you, good sir,” the tall, blue-suited and beaming host welcomes him. His hands gesture to Hannibal's outfit as the coat is unbuttoned and reveals the bold fashion choice beneath. “You look very handsome.”

Hannibal's lips twitch into a calm smile, as he nods his head to the host. “Thank you,” he speaks pleasantly, as he allows a staff-member to take his coat and scarf. “I always work to make a lasting first impression.”

The host laughs his wide mouth open, showing rows of perfect teeth. “You certainly will,” he assures his guest as he steps back, turning his body sideways to the bar that is located right behind him. “You don't look like a man nervous for his date.”

Hannibal chuckled, a gentle noise pushing through his nostrils as his fingers smooth over the collar of his suit-jacket. “A healthy amount,” he speaks steadily, before looking up at the taller host with a hopeful smile. “What do I have to lose but for one evening, after all.”

The host's hand lands brotherly on Hannibal's shoulder, leading him to the bar. “What a splendid attitude,” he says, before gesturing to an empty barstool. “Please have seat. Your date will be here shortly.”

“Thank you,” Hannibal nods, turning towards the graying, friendly-faced barman who has come to take his order.

“What can I pour you, sir?” the man asks, as Hannibal places his gift bag on the bar.

“I'll have a Chianti, if you have one,” Hannibal replies pleasantly as the barman's eyebrows rise, approving of the specific choice.

“Lovely choice, sir,” he says, as he ducks beneath the bar. “Coming right up.”

Confessional: Hannibal

Hannibal: “Wine is a true passion of mine. Good food needs a matching wine and I made it my specialty to know exactly what to drink, and when to drink it.” He smiles confidently. “I have quite an impressive wine cellar at home.”

Restaurant

The barman pours a splash of the red wine into a glass, and places it on the counter before Hannibal. “There you are, sir,” he says, as Hannibal nods his head in gratitude and picks up the glass by the stem.

He swirls the liquid, holding it up to the light before sniffing it, and at last samples it by taking a small sip that rolls inside his mouth.

“Very good,” he then approves, as the barman adds a healthy amount of the wine to his glass.

“What if your date doesn't appreciate wine?” the barman asks with bright, teasing eyes as he wipes down the counter. Hannibal chuckles, as he sips from the glass.

“What I enjoy most about humanity is passion,” he says, an even smile on his face. “The intensity of the fire burning within matters much more than the aim.”

The barman's eyes widen, as he slowly nods his head. “Well... you've given that some thought, I hear.”

Street-view

A man comes walking up the street. His dark curls are blown aside by the wind and on his nose perk dark-rimmed glasses. His cheeks are dusted with a light scruff of brown and gray hair and he is wearing a dark green coat, combined with an equally green pair of corduroy trousers. His shoes are brown and worn and his hands are in his pockets.

Voice-over: “Our next guest is 37 year-old Will Graham. This teacher and criminal profiler likes to fish in his spare time, and lives with a pack of no less than seven dogs. But he hasn't had a date, let alone a relationship, in many, many years.”

Confessional: Will

Will is seen wearing a plaid, blue and gray shirt as his eyes shift nervously behind his glasses.

“I don't really do well in social situations,” he says, blue eyes staring darkly from beneath low eyebrows. “I don't get on with people very well and I enjoy being on my own.”

Will fidgets with his hands, staring at his shoes rather than up in the camera. “But being alone – without someone to actually share things with – that gets...”, blue eyes flash up to the camera.

“...lonely.”

Restaurant

Will enters, pushing his wild hair down with two hands as he walks to the podium where the host is smiling at him.

“Good evening,” the host smiles brightly, as Will's eyes shift awkwardly from left to right. On the bar, Hannibal is seen turning halfway on his barstool to curiously glance over.

“I'm Will Graham,” Will says, eyeing the reservation book on the small table as the host claps his hands together before his chest.

“Of course, welcome mister Graham,” he says with endearment, as a staff-member comes to take Will's coat. Beneath the green jacket, a plaid, blue and gray shirt is revealed. “Your date has already arrived.”

Will's eyes immediately shift to the bar, where they land on Hannibal Lecter, gazing at him openly as he stands up from his barstool.

“O-ok,” Will stammers, following the host as he walks him to the bar, and gestures grandly to the handsome man in the sharp, eccentric suit.

Hannibal offers a hand as the host smirks at the barman and walks away.

“Good evening,” he says, as Will takes the hand to shake in greeting.

“Hello,” he replies, unsure eyes on Hannibal as he blinks his long lashes a little too often.

Hannibal's cheeks become a dusty pink, whether from the wine or the meeting, as he says: “I'm Hannibal Lecter.”

- “Will Graham,” Will replies, introducing himself in return as he lowers his eyes and takes back his hand. Hannibal quickly takes one step back to create a less overbearing distance between them.

“Please, Will, sit down,” he says, offering the seat as if it were one in his own home, and Will slides onto the appointed barstool.

Will's hands fidget with the collar of his shirt as he mumbles a: “I'm feeling a bit under-dressed.” Half a careful smile appears on his face when Hannibal lets out a hearty chuckle.

“Oh no,” Hannibal says, placing a casual hand on the bar beside Will's elbow. “Not at all.”

Confessional: Will

“He's wearing a three-piece suit,” Will says with a rise of one, dark eyebrow. “I'm not a suit guy.” Curls bounce as he shakes his head. “I own one suit, but it's like... tweed.”

Off-screen, an inaudible question is asked.

Will's eyes shoot up over the rim of his glasses to the ceiling as he ponders. “He's handsome, yes. I'm not blind,” he says, pursing his lips. “But he doesn't seem like the dog-walking, ice-fishing type to me.”

Confessional: Hannibal

“Not everyone has to have the same tastes I do, obviously,” he says, before his amber eyes light up. “He wasn't under-dressed,” he says with a smile. “In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing him with less on than he has now.”

Off-screen, a chuckle is audible, as Hannibal scratches the back of his neck, and looks playfully past the camera.

“Well, he's a handsome man.”

Restaurant

“I see you are a wine guy,” Will says conversationally, gesturing to the glass on the bar. Hannibal follows his gaze before he smiles and picks up the glass.

“Most certainly,” he agrees pleasantly, hooded eyes on Will as he takes a sip, before the barman comes walking up to them.

“And what about you, sir?” the barman asks him, placing a hand on Will's empty counter. “Your date has shown himself to be something of a wine expert, and now I wonder what your preferred drink is.”

A crooked smile huffs from Will's lips as he looks at the barman and gives a small shrug. “Whiskey,” he answers sheepishly, before shifting his eyes to Hannibal. “I like wine, I just...”

“Enjoy a good Scotch,” Hannibal finished his thought, smiling around the rim of his glass. Will inhales before nodding slowly.

“What would you like?” the barman chimed in, pointing to the wall of bottles behind him. “We have...” But Will stopped him before he could even start listing different brands with a wave of his hand.

“Whichever,” he speaks hastily. “It's all fine.”

Hannibal's eyebrows rise, and he clears his throat before the barman can turn.

“If it is all the same to my date, I would like to order him the 15 year-old Teeling,” he says, glinting eyes on Will who stares blankly back at him.

The barman nods, humor visible in his features as he rubs his hands together and eyes the couple in front of him curiously.

“Excellent choice. My personal favorite,” he says, as he selects a heavy, crystal glass from beneath the bar before reaching for the bottle.

Will looks at Hannibal, who smiles apologetically at his date.

“Forgive me for being forward, but it is a very rich, smooth Scotch, which I hope will match the course of this evening,” he says, eyes bright and cheeks pink with pleasure.

Confessional: Will

Will rises a brow to the person off-camera.

“He ordered my drink,” he says, before blinking rapidly. “I eh...”

Will looks straight into the camera. “...Ok.”

Restaurant

“Well, cheers,” Will says, picking up his glass and holding it up to clink it together with Hannibal's.

“Cheers,” Hannibal says, watching Will through his lashes. “To a lovely first date.”

They take a sip in silence, before Hannibal turns to the long bag on the counter. “I brought you a little gift, Will,” he says, handing the bag over to Will, who quickly lowers his glass.

“Oh, I...” he hesitates, clearly uncomfortable as he takes the bag. “T-thank you.”

“Open it,” Hannibal encourages him, smiling confidently as he holds his wine glass.

Will peeks inside, reaches in and brings up a large, long bottle of beer. The label is black with a maroon outline of a stag. “Beer,” he says, clearly surprised.

“My own creation,” Hannibal explained, pride clear in his eyes as he gestures to the label. “I have a passion for wine, but I definitely enjoy a good glass of cold beer every now and then.” His smile widens, as Will looks over the bottle and nods.

“A-as do I, thank you,” he says a little flustered. They are interrupted by the cheery host who comes up to the bar, gesturing wildly at the couple with that radiant smile.

“Your table is ready. Please follow me.”

Confessional: Hannibal

“Will is a most empathetic man,” he says, nodding as he presses his lips together. “I could tell almost immediately.”

An inaudible question is asked off-screen.

A small smile plays around Hannibal's lips as his eyes flicker towards the camera.

“Yes, that interests me.”

Restaurant

Voice-over: “Their table is ready, and Hannibal and Will sit down for a meal.”

Both men take their seats at a small table for two, located not far into the restaurant. They smile politely as they are handed their menus, while their drinks are placed in front of them.

“Enjoy,” the host says, his arms wide before he leaves them with a small bow of his back.

Hannibal picks up his wine, barely regarding the menu that Will is burying his nose into. “Can I ask why you are a single man?” he asks, casually gesturing towards Will with the wineglass. “A man with so much to offer.”

Will doesn't look up from his menu as he mumbles; “You must be referring to my looks, considering you don't know much else about me,” he says, the skin of his neck turning a blotchy pink.

Hannibal smiles, unshaken by the comment. “You certainly have a lot to offer there,” he agrees most happily, as his eyes roam curiously over Will's forehead. “But I'm eager to learn more about what goes on behind those ocean blue eyes and chestnut curls.”

Will huffs as his shoulders hunch, his eyes glued to the page with the entrées. There is a moment of stiff silence before he answers with a low but steady: “I don't date.”

Will's eyes meet Hannibal's over the menu. Hannibal's eyelids lower and the corners of his mouth twitch up. “That would explain it,” he says, amused but kind, as he finally lowers his eyes to the menu before him.

Will lowers his in the same instant, sighing as he reaches for his glass of whiskey. “My friend Beverly insisted I'd sign up for the show,” he admits, gulping down a big sip as he grimaces. “She fears I'm lonely.”

“Are you?” Hannibal retorts without missing a beat. His eyes are still on the card in his hands, but his eyebrows rise at the suggestion.

Will takes another sip, allowing it to sit in his mouth before he swallows. “Yes,” he then says, almost forcefully and completely unapologetic.

Hannibal's lips press together as he looks up with an encouraging glint in his eyes. “An admirable thing to admit.”

Will scoffs, as his fingers start fidgeting with the coaster on the table. “I don't get on with people, as a rule,” he says, as short nails dig into the cork.

“Men?” Hannibal asks lightly.

“Doesn't matter,” Will shrugs. “One is not better than the other.”

Hannibal laughs, his lips opening to show sharp teeth. “Well, as a psychiatrist of many years, I would say those feelings are completely justified,” he jokes, as a female waiter comes to stand before their table.

Will chuckles as he hands in the menu. “The smoked salmon and the John Dory for me, please,” he places his order as the waitress writes on her notepad.

“The scallops and braised lamb shoulder, thank you,” Hannibal says, presenting his own menu back to the waitress. “And another Chianti, please.”

He looks at Will, cradling his glass. “And perhaps a white Chardonnay for my date?”

Will raises an eyebrow at Hannibal's bold suggestion, before shaking his head to the waitress. “I'll have another Teeling, thanks,” he says, holding up his near-empty glass as he shoots Hannibal a narrowing glance across the table.

The waitress giggles at the exchange. “Coming right up,” she says, before walking off towards the kitchen.

Confessional: Will

“He's... I've never met anyone like him, that's for sure,” he says, biting his lip as he smiles awkwardly to the interviewer off-screen.

Off screen: “Is that a compliment?”

Will laughs before he speaks. “Not necessarily.”

Restaurant

“So you're a psychiatrist,” Will says, unable to hide the grimace that pulls at his face.

Hannibal tilts his head, closing his eyes into a sip of his wine.“I see you have negative associations with the profession,” he states dryly, before eyeing Will challengingly over the rim of his glass.

Will chuckles dryly, bangs falling into his eyes. “I just don't want to be psychoanalyzed,” he half-jokes, picking up the cork coaster to start picking it apart again.

“I can't simply turn that off, just like you can't stop analyzing me, Will.” Hannibal says matter-of-factly as he leans back in his chair and keeps his eyes deeply on Will, who in turn leans forward, placing his elbows on the table.

“Meaning?” He asks, suspicion narrowing his eyes.

Confessional: Hannibal

“Will is...” he chuckles, “I guess the word is feisty.” A coy smile plasters on his face. “I never understood the appeal of that in people, but it really suits him.”

There is a pause, before Hannibal looks at the interviewer off-screen. His face and eyes warm.

“Yes, it really suits him.”

Restaurant

Both men are now leaning closer across the table.

“You are a very empathetic man, Will,” Hannibal says, his voice slightly lowered as he tilts his head and places one hand on top of the tablecloth. “And you probably have a profession that makes use of that trait.”

Will inhales through his nostrils before he answers: “I'm a profiler for the FBI.”

Hannibal's fingers tap on the table. “Ah,” he says, eyes gleaming with satisfaction as Will sucks his lip between his teeth.

They straighten in their chairs when the starters arrive. The waitress walks to their table, carrying two plates and a tray with their drinks.

“The scallops for you, Sir,” she says, placing the plate before Hannibal.

“Thank you.”

The second plate is placed in front of Will. “And the smoked salmon.”

“Thanks.”

Their drinks are placed on the table. “Enjoy.” She smiles friendly at them, and both men nod before watching her walk away.

“Bon appétit,” Hannibal chimes warmly, before picking up his fork and knife and slicing into a scallop. His date only nods as he cuts into his salmon.

“Let me return the question,” Will says instead, as he takes a bite and chews his food almost angrily. “You are a good looking man with his life on the rails. Why are you single?”

Hannibal sniffles before answering, studying the scallop on his fork.

“My answer will not differ much from yours,” he muses thoughtfully. “You know as well as I do what it feels like to look a person in the eyes and see everything they are, while knowing they look back at you, and see no more than the color of your irises.”

His eyes meet Will's, whose fork is paused in mid-air as he watches Hannibal with a slightly puzzled expression. “At the risk of sounding pretentious...” he says, swallowing nothing but his own saliva. “I do.”

Hannibal nods, but chews and swallows before he speaks. “That's a lonely feeling,” he says, with a patient gesture of his hand. “One you tolerate less and less as you grow older.”

Will looks at him, blinking, before reaching for his whiskey and taking a big sip.

Voice-over: “the men's conversation turns to a more lighthearted subject during the entrée, where Will reveals quite the surprise.”

“Where do you live?” Hannibal asks, now sitting with a plate of beautifully chopped lamb.

“Wolftrap, Maryland,” Will answers, sprinkling lemon over the fish on his plate.

“By yourself?” Hannibal asks.

Will blinks, taking a bite of his fish before answering.

“I have seven dogs,” he says, eyes on his plate and curls before his eyes.

Hannibal blinks, before his throat gulps visibly.

Confessional: Hannibal

“I wouldn't say I'm a dog person, necessarily,” he says, pulling one corner of his mouth to the side as he pulls up a shoulder. “There's usually a lot of hair and drool involved, and that is not something I tend to enjoy.”

An inaudible question is asked off-screen.

Hannibal perks in his seat. “A deal breaker?” he asks, pondering as his eyes graze the ceiling. A real smile stretches on his face.

“No,” he says. “Not in this case.”

Restaurant

“Seven?” Hannibal asks, taking a sip of wine.

Will nods. “All strays,” he says with a wave of his hand. “But all well-behaved.”

Hannibal hums around his fork. “Impressive,” he says, with amber eyes bright on Will. “And a dependable substitute for family.”

Will snorts, almost choking on his drink before he laughs hoarsely at Hannibal's words. “Oh, here we go,” he says, smirking at Hannibal's playful expression. “And what is your substitute for family, doctor?” he says, pointing at his date with his fork. “Or do you have one?”

Hannibal chuckles as he shakes his head. One strand of silver hair falls from the coif to his forehead. “No, no,” he is quick to say. “I don't have any children, I never married and I have no living relatives.”

Will nods. “Me neither,” he says, toying with his fork as it presses into the fish on his plate.

Hannibal dabs his mouth with his napkin before clearing his throat. “I guess you could say my substitute is cooking, drawing and composing,” he offers almost off-handedly, as Will tries to conceal a snort from the other end of the table.

Confessional: Will

“He's a snob,” he says, chuckling as he presses his palms to his eyes. “He is such a snob.”

An inaudible question is asked off-screen.

Will lowers his hands, biting his lip as he contemplates. “Ehm... no, it's not necessarily a deal-breaker.”

Restaurant

“That's quite the life, Hannibal,” Will says, rising his eyebrows and showing his teeth in a crooked smile.

Hannibal tilts his head, closing and opening his eyes in admission. “Does anything in life truly have meaning without someone to share it with?” he asks, his eyes soft on Will, whose shoulders shrug up.

“Obviously, I don't have the answer to that,” he answers sheepishly.

Confessional: Hannibal

“Will is adorable,” he says, a helpless smile on his lips as he shrugs. “He is.”

Restaurant

Will stands up from the table, scraping his chair backwards with the back of his knees. “Excuse me for a moment,” he says, before walking off to the restroom. Hannibal's eyes follow him as he goes.

Restroom

Will is seen walking into the restroom. He leans both hands on the sink as he sighs, and reaches into his pocket for his phone.

“Bev?” he says, pressing the phone to his ear as he looks in the mirror, and runs a hand through his curls.

“Yeah, I'm on my date,” he says, visibly wincing at the reaction he gets from the other end.

“Yeah, he's really good looking,” he grunts, rubbing at something in the corner of his mouth, “but he's a total aristocrat.”

There is a silence where Will listens to the response from the other end of the phone, while poking at the dark circles under his eyes.

“No, no, he's nice,” he says after a moment. “He's just... intense,” he chuckles lightly. “Really intense.”

Will lets out a stream of air between his lips before he turns, and leans his behind against the sink.
“Yeah, I think he likes me, but we are very different people,” he says, examining his fingernails as he crosses his ankles.

The woman on the other end is faintly audible, before Will lets out a whine at her words. “I know, but he wouldn't be interested in...”

He is cut off by the woman talking in his ear, as he frowns, and pulls a face at her words.
“You know I don't want a one-night-stand, Beverly,” he says, visibly appalled by her suggestion, before he turns back to the mirror, and opens the tap.

“Alright,” he sighs, holding one hand under the stream of water. “I gotta go. I'll call you later.”

Will dabs his face with cool water, as he takes the phone off his ear and presses a button. The phone disappears into his trouser pocket, before he brings two hands under the tap to try and tame his curls.

Restaurant

The waitress walks to the table, where Hannibal is sitting by himself.

“Everything all right here, sir?” she asks him with a smile that Hannibal returns.

“I certainly hope so,” he says, his lips pushing wide as he looks at the blond woman with bright eyes. His hands are folded on the table top, as he sits straight on his chair.

The waitress bends over the table, collecting two empty glasses. “How are things going?” she asks him forwardly, to which Hannibal only sits up straighter.

“Really well, as far as I'm concerned,” he muses with a modest nod of his head. “He is very special.” A hint of teeth show through the beaming smile. “He is very aware of his own nature, intelligent, with a true ability to see me for who I am,” he says without missing a beat.

The waitress blinks, holding the glasses as she looks down at Hannibal. “That sounds like there is a spark,” she says, a little dumbfounded.

“I would call it an ignition,” Hannibal retorts quick and proud, making the waitress giggle at his eagerness.

Then, Hannibal unfolds his hands, leaning in closer as he says: “Could I go ahead and order two Amaretto and pear tarts?” he asks her.

The waitress smiles as she raises one questioning eyebrow. “Certainly, sir,” she says, before adding: “You are ordering for your date?”

Hannibal lowers his eyes to his hands before bringing them back up to the waitress. “Regardless of the course of this evening, from what I have learned to understand of my date I can be certain this is the last time I will find myself with the courage and opportunity to do so,” he says in a single breath, mirth open on his face.

“And it is the perfect choice.”

The waitress giggles again and bows her head. “Very good, sir,” she says, before walking off to the kitchen.

Confessional: Hannibal

“I don't think Will is the type of man who would want to have his decisions made for him, no,” he says smugly as he crosses one leg over the other.

An inaudible question is asked off-screen.

Hannibal smiles. “Because Will is a man who likes to have his buttons pushed,” he says, narrowing one eye.

Restaurant

Will is seen back at the table, placing his cutlery on his near-empty plate.

“Do you prefer fish over meat?” Hannibal asks him as he leans his back against the backrest.

Will shrugs, elbows on the table as he picks at the nearly undone coaster. “Not necessarily,” he says. “I'm used to it. I often fish my meals.”

Hannibal hums as he places his hands on the table. Palms down, but fingers nearing the middle.

“Impressive,” he says, leaning close to the edge of the table. “I often hunt mine.”

Will looks up, seemingly surprised. “Really?” he asks, his eyebrow arching up.

Hannibal smiles at him before lowering his eyelids. “I would love to have you over for dinner and feed you one of my conquests,” he offers almost sultry, to which Will laughs out loud; his face heated.

“How very forward of you,” he chuckles, his eyes back to the coaster as Hannibal brings back his own hands to lace his fingers together.

“I must admit I'm not usually this forward,” he speaks honestly. “But I only have a few fast hours to make an impression.”

His words are almost teasing, as Will looks back up through his curls with a scoff.

“Oh, you are making quite the impression, doctor Lecter,” he answers, equally playful.

Confessional: Will

“He knows what he wants, obviously,” he says with a little sigh. “I certainly don't have to guess.”

He laughs, lips open to show white teeth.

“That's... refreshing, I suppose,” he offers, eyes falling to his knees before lifting back up to the interviewer off-screen.

Someone should.”

Restaurant

The dessert arrives, carried in and placed on the table by their blond waitress.

“You ordered this?” Will says, looking at his tart and back up at Hannibal with suspicion.

“Problem?” Hannibal smiles as he picks up his fork, never lowering his eyes from Will.

Will only sighs as he tightens his lips. “You have a very controlling nature,” he points out while picking up his fork and digging into his dessert nonetheless.

Hannibal cocks his head as he picks up his own fork. “I think of it more as showcasing that I already understand you well enough to know what you might enjoy,” he says, watching Will with pleasure in his eyes as Will takes a bite of the tart.

There is a silence where Will chews his bite before taking a breath and saying: “Lucky guess.”

Hannibal chuckles warmly. “I am a lucky man,” he says pointedly before taking a bite of his own dessert.

There is another short silence where they both eat their tarts with satisfaction, before Will hums a defeated: “It is very good.”

Confessional: Will

“Yeah, it was a good choice,” he says, unable to hide a smile. “I can give him that.”

Confessional: Hannibal

“That was a victory, I might say,” he says, beaming proudly.

Restaurant

Will is eating his tart, already halfway finished. “So, tell me something you're not good at,” he says, making Hannibal chuckle as he wipes his mouth with his napkin.

“I don't tolerate rudeness,” he says without hesitation. “I 'm very put off by it.”

Will lets out a huff. “Aren't we all?” he says, taking a sip of his whiskey as he looks at Hannibal with intringued eyes.

“Perhaps,” Hannibal admits with a small stretch of his lips. “But I take great personal offense.”

Will releases a laugh into the glass before lowering it down, and looking at Hannibal with challenging question. “And how do you deal with that?” he asks him.

Hannibal picks up his wine, and takes a sip before he answers.

“I hunt,” he says, before cutting the crust off his tart with the side of his fork.

Will watches him with wondering eyes as one corner of his mouth twitches up.

Confessional: host and waitress

On the screen the waitress and the host sit side by side in front of the camera.

“There is something really intense about them,” the waitress says, smiling as she looks at the host beside her.

“Right?” the host concurs with enthusiasm. “I couldn't really get a feel of them.”

The waitress giggles as she nods. “This could either work really well, or not at all,” she grins, as the host barks out a laugh.

“I fear this date is beyond our understanding,” he says, playfully mocking as they both laugh out loud. “A completely different realm.”

Restaurant

Voice-over: “And even as the evening is slowly dying down, the conversation does not become any smaller.

Hannibal and Will are seen drinking coffee. The plates are cleared from the table.

“I'm curious, Will,” Hannibal says, sipping strong coffee from the small cup. “As an empath, what have you discovered about me this evening that I haven't told you myself?”

Will smiles involuntarily around the rim of his plain, black coffee, as Hannibal watches him from across the table with glistening eyes.

He is silent, frowning - openly thinking - as their eyes stay connected.

He sips his coffee before he answers: “That you dressed yourself in light colors to make me feel at ease, but you prefer to dress in dark,” Will says matter-of-factly, but with a hint of a sly smile on his lips.

Hannibal perks up eagerly, visibly brightened by Will's answer.

“Would you have preferred it if I had?” he asks him straightforwardly.

Will shrugs. “It doesn't matter,” he says, watching Hannibal over the rim of his glasses. “You can't hide behind your clothes.” He takes another sip of coffee before adding: “Not with me.”

Hannibal looks delighted; his eyelids lower and his smile perks. “That sounds promising,” he says.

The host comes walking up to the table, carrying a small plate with a leather envelope.

“Here you are, gentlemen,” he says jovially as he places the plate in between them. “The check.” He stays at the side of the table, looking expectingly from Hannibal to Will.

Hannibal pulls the plate towards him right away, his eyes pointedly on Will. “Will you let me do the honor of paying?” he says gracefully, to which Will snorts.

“You ordered me the most expensive whiskey on the menu,” he says, prying open the envelope to check the price. “You're paying.”

A satisfied smile curls around Hannibal's lips, as he reaches for his wallet in the inner pocket of his jacket. “Excellent,” he says, as he pulls out a gold credit card.

“That was settled quickly,” the host speaks with mirth as he hands Hannibal the device for his card. Hannibal hums, as Will is seen pushing back his chair.

Confessional: Hannibal and Will

Will is sitting in the confessional as Hannibal enters the room, shuffles behind the stools and sits himself next to Will.

“Hello Will,” Hannibal says, looking at him with a warm smile.

“Hi,” Will says, briefly looking at Hannibal before lowering his eyes to his hands.

Off-screen, the interviewer's voice can be heard: “So, do you want to see each other again?”

Will keeps his eyes on his hands as Hannibal turns himself towards him. “I'll go first, if I may,” he says, as Will looks up with an awkward smile and waves with his hand.

“Go on,” he says, his cheeks a warm pink.

Hannibal keeps his body angled towards Will as he looks at the interviewer. “Yes, I do,” he says confidently. “I think we have the potential to truly enrich each other's lives and I find Will a very interesting and delightful man who I would love to get to know better over that dinner I offered him.”

Hannibal nods as he brings his eyes back to Will, who is shifting his gaze from his knees to his hands to the camera and back.

“Will?” the interviewer asks.

Will sighs. “I...” he starts, his ears turning bright red. “I don't know if we're...”

His eyes flash helplessly to the ceiling before they land on Hannibal, who is smiling broadly at him.

Thrown off, Will scoffs at Hannibal's expression. “What?” he asks indignantly amused as Hannibal looks at him with tender eyes.

“I believe you are very annoyed by the fact that you do, indeed, want to see me again,” Hannibal says and laughs as Will closes his eyes with a wry smile, before shifting a helpless gaze at the interviewer.

“Fine, whatever,” he says, raising up his hands as he shakes his head. “Let's meet up again.”

Hannibal's smile is radiating and proud as he straightens on his stool.

“Can you give each other a hug?” the interviewer asks off-screen, to which Will's feverish grin falls into a frown.

“No,” he answers curtly, before the men are seen getting off the stools and leaving the room.

Restaurant

In the restaurant, both men are shown taking their coats back from the host, and slipping into them before Hannibal opens the door for Will. He moves past him without a word.

“Thank you for a lovely meal,” Hannibal thanks the host with a shake of his hand as Will waits outside in the dark street.

“I wish you much luck and a pleasant evening,” the host retorts with a chuckle, as Hannibal steps outside and is seen walking into the night with Will by his side.

Credits

Before the episode ends, three images of Hannibal and Will smiling in the confessional are shown with a short text beneath the pictures.

Hannibal and Will went out for a nightcap after the show, after which Hannibal stayed the rest of the weekend at Will's house. They are currently dating.

**

The TV screen went black after Alana clicked the off-button with unsteady fingers, and sat on the couch with a baffled expression.

That was...

She wasn't sure what that was.

What she did know was that her stomach clenched as she reached for her cellphone, before she scrolled through the list of addresses.

Finding the name she was looking for, Alana pressed call and brought the phone to her ear.

Her gaze shifted to the window, where the sky was dark. The pizza delivery man had come and gone, mission aborted.

“Hello,” was heard from the other side, and Alana stood from the couch.

“Will?” she asked, immediately pacing the floor from the dining table to the windowsill.

“Alana, hi,” he greeted her, distraction in his voice as the sound of rustling fabric could be heard through the speaker.

“I-I just saw you...” she stammered, unsure of what to say. Unsure of why she called. To know, maybe, or to understand....

Because, what the hell...?

“I take it you saw the episode,” Will said, chuckling lightly. In the background, another chuckle could be detected, and Alana felt her armpits growing damp.

“....You went on a date with Hannibal?” she asked him, quite unnecessarily.

There was a pause where the rustling of fabric continued before Will breathed a: “Yeah,” into the receiver.

Alana grimaced, unwilling to know the answer to the following question that she couldn't help but ask: “And you're still dating him?”

Will inhaled. “I, eh... things have... progressed quite quickly actually,” he said, as the sound of a zipper could be heard against Alana's ear. “Hannibal, stop it.”

Alana heard a low hum that she recognized instantly as the voice of her former teacher and friend, and felt her fingers clench harder around her phone.

Will huffed. “Isn't it funny we both know you?” he said, as his footsteps sounded on the floor. “We only just talked about that today.”

More footsteps, and a distant giggle.

Alana swallowed. “Yes, well...” she said, blinking rapidly over her stunned eyes as a thump sounded through the speaker.

“Hannibal, stop, I only just got dressed,” Will could be heard playfully scolding his...

His...

“Are you... boyfriends?” Alana asked through clenched teeth, as the words left her throat hesitantly.

Will snorted before he answered. “I... guess you could say that,” he replied almost giddily, before a loud cracking noise disrupted the connection.

“We're not boyfriends. We are united souls,” Hannibal's voice rang through the speaker, and Alana jumped on the spot.

She took the phone from her ear, only to hear Will's grunted reply of: “That's disgusting.”

What followed were a series of wet noises resembling lips sucking on lips, and tongues lapping into mouths.

Alana listened, eyes and mouth open wide.

A throat was cleared before Will was back on the phone. “We should get together sometime soon and catch up,” he said, happily apologetic. “A lot has happened.”

Alana's breath stuttered before she answered: “Yes, yes, ok,” her eyes now sightless on the dark window.

“Good night, Alana,” she heard Will say, as she lowered the phone from her ear. By her hips, giggles rose from the speaker before Will could be heard releasing a delighted squeal.

“Stop it, Hannibal. I'm ticklish.”