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Title: This Could Be Love
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Fandom: Hannibal
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Hannibal Lecter or Will Graham, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue. soar


Will watched as Hannibal moved around the kitchen, making after-dinner coffee for the two of them. It was one of the nights during the week that had become a constant for both fo them -- having dinner together, then an impromptu session, if Will felt like it.

Lately, he'd felt like talking more often than not. Hannibal never really pushed him to talk about anything he wasn't comfortable with, as he knew some psychiatrists would do. They talked more as friends than as a doctor and a patient.

That was unusual in itself, he thought with a soft sigh. Most psychiatrists kept a wall between themselves and their patients, one that couldn't be breached.

But he and Hannibal were different. That wall was still there, in some ways -- but he'd been able to climb over it more and more lately. He had felt that he was becoming a part of Hannibal's life, as a friend, not a patient -- and now as more than a friend.

That was what he'd wanted all along.

From the first time they had met, he'd felt an irresistible attraction to this man. And now that they knew each other better, Will knew that he was falling -- and that he didn't want o get back up again. He hadn't wanted to put a name to that feeling before tonight.

Now he could. Now he wanted to. The word hadn't seemed appropriate before, but suddenly, it was the right one. It described how he felt in four letters.

It was a word that had always scared him before, one that he'd never wanted to use in relation to another person. It had always felt as though he was giving up his personal space, letting others get too close for his comfort. He hadn't been able to do that.

But now, everything had changed. He could use that word openly and freely -- even if only in his own mind. He hadn't had the courage to say it yet; he was afraid that if he did, things could shift and change yet again, and Hannibal would back away from him.

Love. This could be love.

He wanted it to be love, even though he was still cautious about using that word. Somehow, it didn't seem right; it wasn't big enough, expressive enough, to describe what he felt for Hannibal. This was love, yes, but it also felt like so much more.

He'd never felt this way about anyone before, never thought that he could. He'd always had trouble with relationships; intimacy wasn't easy for him. Will had long ago convinced himself that he was better off alone, and that he would always be alone.

It had never occurred to him that he might at some point meet someone who would change that, someone who could barrel into his life with the force of a steamroller.

Hannibal had been that person. Hannibal had never said a word to him to make Will think that he felt the same, but somehow, Will knew that he did. He knew that, somewhere within the heart that this enigmatic man kept out of sight, love was flourishing.

He couldn't let himself doubt that.

He had to believe that Hannibal loved him, in spite of never having said anything to that effect -- because if he didn't, then his world would come crashing down around him. He would feel the pain of his self-imposed isolation more than he ever had.

If Hannibal didn't return his feelings, Will had no idea what he would do. But he was sure that they were returned -- even if Hannibal didn't show it outwardly.

It was the small things that made him confident those feelings were duplicated iwthin the other man's heart -- the way Hannibal watched him when he thought Will didn't realize it, some little remarks he had made, the way he smiled when he would bid Will good night.

There had been a few times lately when Hannibal had taken his hand just before he'd left -- and he had been sure that the other man hadn't wanted to let go. That was what had solidified his certainty that Hannibal felt the same, more than anything else.

Hannibal loved him. And it was time for that to come out into the open.

But how was he supposed to bring the subject up? It wasn't like he could just simply ask; if he did, he wasn't likely to get an answer. Hannibal would hold the words in, refusing to say them, even if they were true. He wasn't that kind of man.

"Will, what are you thinking about?" Hannibal asked as he slipped into the chair opposite Will, handing the young man a coffee cup. "You look so serious that it must be something weighing on your mind -- if you care to talk about it, then I am here to listen."

"It's something we should talk about," Will murmured, reaching for the sugar, then the cream. He took a moment to stir both into his coffee, trying to marshal his thoughts.

"Then what is it?" Hannibal leaned back in his chair, looking thoughtfully at the young man sitting across from him. "Spit it out, Will. After all this time, you must know that you can say anything to me, and that I will not judge you for it."

Will nodded, taking a deep breath. This was it, then.

This was going to be the hardest thing he had ever asked anyone, but he had to know for sure. He had to have an answer, or he would drive himself insane thinking about it and constantly wondering.

"Do you love me?" he asked, his voice wavering. He hadn't expected the words to sound so small; he had somehow thought that they would come out sounding strong and confident, as though he was completely sure of what the answer would be even before he asked the question.

Hannibal sat there looking at him, studying him, his face calm and composed. Will could feel his heart sinking; he was sure that Hannibal was going to say something that he wasn't prepared to hear, something that he didn't want to hear.

If he did, then Will's entire world would crumble around him; he would lose not only a friend, but the person who would always own his heart.

Hannibal leaned forward, placing his hand on Will's.

"Of course I do," he said softly, his voice barely above a whisper. "I hope you've never doubted that, Will. I have tried to show you that in little ways, though I admit that I should have said the words long ago. Still, I hope that telling you now makes up for that."

Will could feel his heart leap within his chest; he couldn't stop the smile that slowly spread across his face. Yes, this could be the kind of love he'd always wished for; this was love, a love that he'd never expected to find, one that he would treasure for the rest of his days.

"There's nothing to make up for," he said softly, squeezing Hannibal's fingers with a gentle pressure. "I kind of always knew it was there. I was just checking."

Hannibal laughed softly, raising his coffee cup to his lips, his gaze meeting Will's over the rim. Will was sure that he could feel his heart turning over; now, they were truly on their way, embarking on something that would be strange and wonderful. He could hardly wait to begin.