It was rare for a case to go well, even rarer for Will to actual celebrate something, but tonight was a night of exceptions.
The ‘killer’ the team had been tracking for the last week had actually kept his victims alive in a crawlspace, meaning the body count was a miraculous zero. This prompted Bev, Price, and Zeller to extend an invitation for drinks to Will and, with a conscience unburdened by murder, he accepted.
“If you are thinking of drinking in excess tonight, good Will, might I offer my services as a designated driver?” Hannibal asked.
“You don’t have to pussyfoot around it, Doc – you can come, too,” Beverly had responded before Will had a chance to say anything.
And that’s how they’d ended up in a booth at a nearly-empty dive bar, where Beverly was trying to keep a handle on her boys on one side while Hannibal and Will sat on the other side, Will with his hand curled around a bottle of cheap beer. Hannibal noticed Will’s cheeks were rosy, from alcohol and maybe a sliver of happiness. Hannibal’s own glass held nothing but water, but even he had to admit that the night was pleasantly relaxing.
“I’m just saying, fingerprints are just a small part of solving any case,” Zeller said.
“Oh, yes, obviously, because finding something completely unique to a killer is just a ‘small part’ in comparison to, what? Knowing what shoe size they wear? Of course, I mean, how many people could possibly wear a size 11?” Price gesticulated wildly with his left hand, holding a martini in his right and not spilling a drop.
“Hey – enough work talk, please?” Beverly framed the command as a question, her body between the two being the only thing prevented a full-out brawl.
Will just laughed, his cheeks growing more red as he sucked the last of his beer from the bottle and held it up to ask for another. It was strange to see Will completely void of the tension that usually kept him strung tight like a bow string, and Hannibal stored it memory as best he could. The three across the booth could see it, too, and were kind enough to not point it out and embarrass Will. It was an unspoken agreement to just enjoy the night.
“Humph. Fine then. How about a little Truth-Or-Truth, huh?” Price suggested.
“What’s wrong with Truth-Or-Dare?” Zeller asked in a half-hearted attempt to keep the argument going.
“Oh, my god, I just—“ Beverly mimed grabbing their heads and knocking them together, which earned another laugh from Will.
“Perhaps a simple sharing exercise; everyone admits something about themselves that others would not expect?” Hannibal said. Zeller rolled his eyes, but Beverly’s lit up at the idea.
“Only if you go first,” she said.
“I can agree to that,” Hannibal said. He could feel all eyes in the booth on him and took note of Will’s slight grin. “Something about me you would not expect is that I happen to be quite fond of surfboarding.”
“No way!” Beverly slammed her hand on the table as Price’s eyebrows shot up his forehead. Will laughed again and Hannibal collected each laugh like it was a rare gem.
As they went around the table, they learned that Zeller had gone to Fat Camp at 11-years-old, Beverly had lit her first violin on fire in protest to the lessons she had been forced into (“I had a pyro thing back then”), and Price had been going for a theatre major before switching into forensics – even going as far as performing a monologue from Faust, bowing to the applause of the table. Hannibal had to admit it was perfect, word-for-word.
Now, it was Will’s turn to share. He took a swig of his fourth beer of the night.
“In college, there was this girl I liked—“ Hannibal’s grip on his glass tightened for a moment “—and she was big into, uh, hippy stuff. Y’know, she had the beads in her window and wore a flower tucked above her ear.” Will closed his eyes and smiled.
“That better not be your secret,” Price said.
“No,” Will laughed. “No, uh, so anyway – she was a flower child. She was into Buddhism and did yoga and… belly dancing. So, to impress her…” he trailed off, rolling a hand in the air to indicate what went unsaid. Hannibal’s lips quirked up at the edges.
“Are you telling me that you took belly dancing classes?” Beverly’s mouth fell open. Will nodded, flush from embarrassment but drunk enough to not be bothered by it.
“For how long?” Price asked.
“Uh, well… a year?” Will admitted.
Price threw his hands up in mock-surrender while Zeller silent plotted how to use this information. Hannibal took a sip of his water.
“Okay,” Beverly sat back, “You can’t just say these things without proving it.”
Will scrunched up his nose and shook his head, but Beverly saw the lack of conviction in the action.
“Nuh-uh, this is happening. Show me that those hips don’t lie!” She said, knowing Will would acquiesce with enough pressure.
“Come on, Will!” Price added.
Hannibal couldn’t hide his surprise at the small nod that broke into a toothy smile as Will stood, the other side of the booth clapping. Hannibal had to slide out of the booth for Will to get out and took the opportunity to brush a hand over the small of Will’s back. Will turned his head slightly as Hannibal sat back down, acknowledging the touch but saying nothing. Still, his smile didn’t falter. Beverly snatched the phone that Zeller was trying to hide under the table. Price gave a wolf-whistle.
And then Will moved his hips.
Hannibal focused on nothing else.
Will started with a basic figure-eight movement, jutting out his left hip before swinging his hips back and to the right, moving the right hip forward. His eyes were closed in concentration, alcohol not helping his coordination, but a grin was still plastered to his face. After completing a few figure-eights, Will switched to lifting up each hip bone for a few beats, placing the corresponding leg forward to shake that hip towards the table. Hannibal could practically hear the jingling the belly dancing chain would make and let himself imagine Will in his youth, clean-shaven and slim as he struggled to control his body movements.
“I don’t know if I can even do this one anymore, I don’t really have the, uh, abs for it,” Will laughed, lifting his shirt up in a moment of uninhibited joy. Even through the slight paunch that comes with age, it was clear that Will was pushing his abs in and out in order to make his belly roll. Hannibal’s eye caught on the dark trail of hair leading from Will’s bellybutton to the buckle of his belt.
Quickly, Will shoved his shirt back down and curtsied. Beverly screeched as she clapped, elbowing a sulking Zeller into joining in the applause. Price fanned himself as he shouted ‘Bravo!’ over and over. Hannibal simply clapped, never taking his eyes off of Will. Will’s neck and cheeks ran pink and Hannibal imagined that blush lighting up the belly he had just seen, colouring the pale expanse of flesh.
Will took one last bow before walking back to his side of the booth. Hannibal didn’t move.
“Move over so I can sit down,” Will said, his voice light.
“I do believe this is still my seat,” Hannibal said, sipping his water while keeping his eyes on Will.
“Are you gonna take that, Graham?” Beverly asked. Will looked to her, then back to Hannibal. They made eye contact.
“If you don’t move, I’m just gonna climb over you,” Will said. It was a challenge, but there was something else in his eyes and Hannibal locked onto it.
“What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” Hannibal asked. He returned his glass to the table and placed his hands on his thighs. An acceptance of the challenge.
“I warned you,” Will said, his knee finding contact with the few inches of bench next to Hannibal’s lap. He swung his other leg over carefully until his other knee landed next to Hannibal’s thigh, leaving Will straddling Hannibal. He looked back over his shoulder at the three scientists, but they were back in their original argument and, when he faced forward, Will found himself caught in Hannibal’s line of sight. The shift in mood showed on Will’s face, the pink cheeks staying bright as his smile collapsed into a thin line. It was a moment of sobriety, the effects of the alcohol in his system freezing for the time being. Hannibal moved his fingers up just enough to brush the inside of Will’s thighs, his eyes piercing into Will’s but his face showing no acknowledgement of the touch. Will jerked his head away as he pulled his leg over, tumbling back into his original seat.
The other side of the booth hadn’t seen the touch, the table too high and their own conversation keeping them focused on each other. Hannibal turned his head to look at Will, but Will had his head down, his own fingernails seemingly more important at the moment. The blush was still there on his neck.
“It’s getting late, is it not?” Hannibal asked the whole table.
“I guess,” Beverly replied.
“William, can I offer you a ride home?” Hannibal turned back to Will, head still down. “Or would you rather stay?”
“We’re all gonna call a cab later, so you can share,” Beverly offered. Will lifted his head to look at Beverly before turning to look at Hannibal’s shoulder.
“No, I – thanks, but I’ll, uh, go with Doct-,” he paused, “Hannibal.”
The smile spread across Hannibal’s face like the sun rises.