A/N: Last part! I'm so sorry for taking forever to update, but I hope you'll enjoy it, regardless! I got some major inspiration to write something "happy" after 2x4, BECAUSE LET'S FACE IT, THAT WAS BULLSHIT. Bryan needs to stop killing off my favorite characters! :'(

CH 3: Cutting Loose

After what felt like an eternity, Will finally eased his car into the long, ornate driveway of Dr. Hannibal Lecter's home. Even though the doctor seemed like a relatively reclusive man, there was no question that he was skilled with the art of managing parties.

A flurry of noise suddenly came from out back, and from what Will could discern, there was an adjoining part to the manor that he assumed was used for ballroom dancing.

'Who actually has a ballroom built into their house?' he wondered.

To Beverly, he whispered, "I'm suddenly feeling a little under-dressed… Somehow I have a feeling I've got the shabbiest suit here."

"Maybe," Beverly coyly agreed, "but you definitely don't have the shabbiest-looking date." She grinned and goosed his ribs.

Trying his best not to blush, Will led her down the path toward the back entrance where the festivities were being held. Past the tall, iron-barred doors laid a tremendous ballroom with gold leaf ornamentation, Brazilian brown flooring and large, scenic windows that stretched all the way from the floor to the ceiling. Since they were a little late, there were already quite a few guests milling around the refreshment tables.

Will blinked as they fully entered the room. When he looked down at his feet, he saw his shocked reflection staring back at him from the sheen of the bright, fussily polished floors. "Holy crap," he whispered.

"Would you care for a drink, sir?"

Startled by the sudden question, Will immediately looked up and observed the hired help for the night. "Uhhh…no, thanks," he declined. He figured it wouldn't be wise to be inebriated at such an event. As the maître d' asked Beverly the same question, he reached into his pocket and retracted some aspirin. If he'd suspected that they would help with his anxiety, he would've gladly taken the whole bottle.

"Ah, Will! Special Agent Katz!"

Practically choking on his pill, the agent rubbed his chin and whirled around. "Oh…hi, Dr. Lecter," he sheepishly greeted. "This is, uh…this is really something else. You sure know how to make we simple folk feel…well…more simple."

"Glad to oblige," Lecter ribbed. Now turning to Beverly, he asked, "Have you tried the hors devours on the left-hand side of the refreshments table? I can guarantee it will be quite a treat."

"We just arrived, so we haven't had anything yet," Will cut in. "I've been taking pills all day, so I think I'm a bit full at the moment."

"Nonsense! You must at the very least treat yourself." Again Lecter's eyes fell on Beverly, for she was one of the few colleagues whom had never sampled his cooking. He took a certain thrill in knowing they were feasting on human flesh – to know that they turned their noses up at his customs, but in the long run enjoyed them as much as he did. "Shall I fetch you a plate?" he asked.

Alana Bloom came up then and smiled, interlocking her arm through Lecter's before whispering something into his ear.

His expression was displeased. "What do you mean, Abigail is sampling the truffles? Tell her to wait like a good hostess!"

Will felt the blood drain from his face. "Abigail…you mean, Abigail Hobbs is here?" He hadn't seen her since his visit to the mental hospital, and he had to admit that the idea of milling with her in the same room was quite unsettling. She reminded him of what he was capable of…she reminded him of what a monster he could be.

Exhaling through his lips, Will sensed a waiter passing by and swiped a flute of champagne from the tray. The maître d' lurched in surprise, though fortunately caught himself from spilling the liquid courage all over the floor.

"Clumsy, clumsy," Lecter tsked. To Beverly, he added, "If your date keeps drinking like this, he will soon be incapable of dancing – for that I must ask: would you care to do me the honors later on this evening? The orchestra will be playing a delightful Lithuanian waltz that is not to be missed."

Will felt his cheeks color. "I'm not drinking that much," he muttered. Alana met his stare and he immediately looked down at the floor, not pleased that she'd been asked to arrive early, as well. At this rate, he'd be hiding under the refreshments table before the gala even truly began.

Sparing Will a sidelong glance, Beverly shrugged and agreed, "Sure, Doc, why not? Will they be playing the Cha Cha Slide later on, by chance? I'm told I kill it with that dance."

"The Cha Cha...Slide?"

Beverly raised a brow. "Seriously? Wow. You need a serious lesson on pop culture."

Seemingly tired of this exchange, Alana latched onto Dr. Lecter's arm. "Dance with me, Hannibal," she urged.

He took hold of her hand and nodded, giving her a gallant bow. To Will, he added, "It would be splendid if you two could join us. No one has been brave enough to grace the dance floor yet, so it would be delightful if you could help us set an example."

Will's eyes were wide. "But I…I can't dance!"

Beverly grinned broadly, nudging his arm. "Then learn, young grasshopper!"

"Unless some disco music comes on? Nope! Won't even try it."

Beverly scoffed and folded her arms. "Are you kidding me right now? Maybe I should start calling you 'Chump' instead of 'Champ' from now on! What kind of man can't turn his hot date around on the dance floor?"

Will's face was beet-red. "Oh, and you can?"

"Damn right, I can! I had a strict family – Cotillion was a must." With a smug look in his direction, Beverly tugged on his arm and urged, "C'mon, Champ, let's show these doctors how it's done."

"I don't know..."

Lowering her voice, she whispered in his ear, "C'mon, Graham, Bloom will shit a brick."

"Well, uh...I mean..."

"Great! I knew you'd agree!"

Annoyed since she'd said that loud enough for everyone to hear, Will had no choice but to hand a waiter his glass before Beverly grabbed his hand. To his surprise, she began using all her strength to tug him toward the dance floor.

"No, no, no, no!"

But it was too late. Beverly had already dragged him out onto the barren space where Lecter and Alana were preparing to do the waltz, or...whatever the hell it was people did at elegant parties.

"Bev, I don't know how to dance," he hissed. "I've never seen one of those Jane Austen chick flicks, so I can't even pretend to know what I'm doing!"

Beverly winked. "Don't worry, Graham, just follow my lead – I think you'll be surprised at how much you do know." To Will's confusion, as the orchestra's music swelled and ensconced the entire room, Beverly felt the rhythm and began to do the Electric Slide. Out of the corner of his eye, Will could see Lecter sparing them a scathing little glare.

"Beverly," he whispered, "Beverly, wait..."

But she ignored him, grinning as she grabbed a hold of his hand and tried to get him to follow her lead. Shyly, Will moved one foot to the right in an attempt at humoring her, but ultimately pantomimed the movements due to his embarrassment. He didn't like that people were watching them. But then, an odd thing happened: as Beverly continued to coax him into dancing, more couples came out onto the dance floor and began to mimic her dramatic, over the top movements. He could see Lecter was about ready to pop a blood vessel. Will finally cracked a smile at that, chuckling as the majority of the room became a mob of Electric Slide dancers. He had to hand it to her...when Beverly wanted to command a situation, she took it by the horns and damn well got her way.

Finally, Beverly seemed to tire of the Electric Slide. She took Will's hands and slyly urged, "Why don't you be a good dance partner and dip me, hmm?"

"Dip you? Like...dip you, dip you?"

"No, the other dance move called 'dip'...dip shit," she sarcastically teased. Laughing, she tapped his chest and said, "Yes! Now dip me!"

Feeling ridiculous, Will's hands grew clammy as he unsteadily moved Beverly downward. She swung her arm back in a dramatic fainting motion, grinning up at him as her back arched. By this point Will was grinning too, but unfortunately, that's also when Beverly decided to jerk up and conk her forehead against his. "OW! Jesus, Beverly!"

She began laughing uncontrollably, hugging him around the shoulders as she tried to catch her breath. Unable to help himself, Will began laughing too, the crows' feet around his eyes crinkling as he watched tears of mirth stream down her cheeks.

Lecter was at their side in an instant. "Miss Katz? I heard your friends are looking for you."

Still laughing, Beverly leaned into Will's arm and momentarily rested her forehead against his shoulder. "Who?"

"Zeller and Price...they should be by the refreshments table."

Will couldn't see Brian or Jimmy anywhere, so he assumed Lecter was trying to undo the damage they'd caused to his precious waltz. Nevertheless, Beverly grinned and gave Will's arm an affectionate squeeze. "I'll go see what they want, but then I'll be right back, ok? You're still my date, so I meant what I said: I'm not sharing."

In spite of himself, Will couldn't help but smile as he watched her leave. No matter what the situation, Beverly had a way of making things seem right with the world.

"Will!"

Startled by the jovial tone, he turned and quirked a brow as Jack and Bella Crawford headed toward him. Still influenced by Beverly's razzing, he couldn't help but joke, "Wow, are you really Jack Crawford? You seem a tad too…pleasant."

Crawford sneered at his colleague, his hand never leaving his wife's as she patted his chest affectionately. "Who, Jack?" she asked. "He's nothing but a big ol' teddy bear!"

"Grizzly, more like," Will gibed. Smiling in spite of himself, he tucked a hand into his pocket and asked, "Here for the refreshments, I take it? Every time Lecter hosts a shindig, I see your face stuffed in a plate."

"Fuck you, Graham."

"Jack!" Bella hissed. Though her tone was horrified, her eyes were laughing. "Is this really how you FBI agents speak to one another?"

"More than we'd like to admit," Will said. "The man's taught me every curse word I know."

"Want me to teach you a new one right now, Graham? You're embarrassing me in front of my wife."

"Jack, please."

He chuckled and sipped at his wine, only to pause and gesture toward the far end of the room. "Is that Dr. Bloom? Beverly mentioned in passing that she would be here tonight, but I wasn't sure that she'd show."

"Why do you say that?" Will asked. He hoped no one noticed the slight flush that had crept up his neck.

Shrugging, Jack explained, "Alana said she would be very busy with her seminars this week."

"Is Dr. Bloom the one doing your psychological profiles?" Bella queried. "I thought I saw her in the paper once…"

"No, no, she's just a consultant. Dr. Lecter is our primary psychological profiler."

Seeming to notice Will's displeasure, Jack placed a hand on Bella's back and urged, "Why don't we go say hi to Dr. Lecter, love? It'd be rude to neglect our own host."

"You're right, of course… Please excuse us, Mr. Graham."

Will nodded with a tight smile, though the moment their backs turned, he lost his perfunctory expression and frowned. He wasn't quite ready to discuss Alana with anyone, and he hadn't even realized how deeply it bothered him until that moment.


Milling around the refreshments table, Beverly soured as she realized Lecter had more than likely sent her on a wild goose chase. She couldn't find her colleagues anywhere.

Shrugging it off, she ignored a woman's questioning look as she reached for two flutes of champagne.

"Trying to beat your own record, Katz?"

Whirling around, Beverly snorted when she realized it was Zeller and Price. Perhaps they'd been looking for her after all. "As much as I'd love to get drunk off my ass right now, I already promised I'd be on my best behavior."

"That bad, huh?"

"I'm in a dress and five inch heels...what do you think?"

"I dunno," Zeller coyly said, "I feel very 007 in my tux."

Beverly scoffed. "Yeah, if James Bond had a bit of a paunch."

As Zeller scowled, Price pointed toward Will and said, "Your date looks a little lost over there without you...I think he needs a drink in the hand he keeps curling."

Following Price's pointed finger, Beverly paled when she realized Will was being interrogated by none other than Freddie Lounds. "Excuse me," she urged, now clip-clopping toward the duo with purpose. Freddie looked up, surprised.

"Lounds, right?"

The redhead flashed a simpering smile, extending her gloved hand toward the other woman. "Guilty as charged," she agreed, giving a mocking bow of the head. "And you're...who, exactly?"

"Special Agent Katz," Beverly said, ignoring Freddie's outstretched hand. "Is there a problem over here?"

"Why, not at all! I was just telling Agent Graham about the pressures of journalism."

"Oh, really?"

Will shifted, appearing uncomfortable.

Folding her arms, Beverly snidely began, "Y'know, I've been meaning to ask you...why don't you ever put something factual in that column of yours? Instead of calling Will Graham a psychopath, you should be unveiling the fact that he's a sex god with a 10 inch-"

"Beverly!" Will hissed, horrified.

She snorted and tapped the side of her head. "Oh, right, sorry...10 and a half." Entwining her arm through Will's, she began ushering him away as she said, "Now if you'll excuse us, we've got to go make our latest sex tape, Fifty Shades of Plaid. Time is money!"

As they left a bemused Freddie Lounds behind, Will indignantly jerked his arm from her grasp. "Why did you do that? Even if you were joking, you know she'll probably put all that in her blog!"

"So what?" Beverly fired back. "Maybe now you'll actually get laid!"

"What? I don't need inspiration to...to..."

"Right. And da Vinci didn't need inspiration to create beautiful works of art. Trust me on this one, Graham; you'll thank me eventually."

Frustrated, Will pressed his lips together and exhaled. Even if Beverly meant well, sometimes her methods were less than pleasant.

"C'mon," she urged, "let's go back and join the others. You can't make Bloom jealous if you're all the way over here."

Will flinched. In all honesty, he wasn't even sure that he wanted their plan to work anymore. Up until the debacle with Lounds, he'd genuinely been enjoying himself and Beverly's company. The thought of adding a jealousy scheme to the mix suddenly seemed tacky and unwelcome. Nevertheless, he allowed Beverly to lead him over to their colleagues, all of whom were milling around and listening to Lecter speak.

As Will tried to blend in without rudely interrupting, Beverly seemed to have other plans. She smiled and rested her head on Will's shoulder, fondly squeezing his waist as she made sure they were in Alana's direct line of vision. When she knew they had Bloom's attention, Beverly lifted her head and pretended to whisper something suggestive in Will's ear. Even though she'd literally said to him, "This is me saying something coy," he found himself flushing due to the close proximity of her lips to his skin. Her breath tickled him and he swallowed.

Finally, Alana seemed to be fed up with the blatant PDA; she cleared her throat. When Will caught her gaze, she motioned to him with her glass and he frowned, furrowing his brows in confusion. Was she seriously asking him to follow her? He had no desire to speak with her, let alone be with her in one of the many large, extravagant rooms.

Alana was becoming more persistent. As she moved to the French doors that led into the foyer, she approached the grand staircase and began to gesture sharply toward the rooms above.

"I, uh…I'll be right back," Will dumbly said. Nodding to Beverly, he uneasily headed toward where Alana had exited mere moments before. He was anxious and displeased, but knew he needed to face her sooner or later.

The foyer was surprisingly vacant, so Will had little trouble catching up to Alana. She stood at the top of the staircase, waiting impatiently for his arrival. When he reached her, she managed a smile and softly greeted, "Hi, Will. Um…I hope it's not too forward that I want to talk?"

"Of course not," he said, even though he couldn't imagine what she wanted to say. The whole "we're bad for each other" spiel had pretty much summed it up. Though maybe she wanted to further pour salt in the wounds?

Alana touched his arm then, and Will jumped. "Are you ok?" she asked. "I hope our situation didn't make things awkward between us…relationships ground us in life, so you need a friend."

"I have a friend," he shot back. His tone was defensive and curt.

Alana regarded him with the typical soft, sympathetic gaze that he'd grown to dread. He didn't want her pity.

"I'm fine," he finally said. "Is this all you wanted to talk about?"

She shook her head. "No, no, of course not – can we please step inside?" Motioning to the open room to her right, she waited until Will hesitantly slipped past her.

Following in after him, Alana closed the door and leaned against it a moment, her lashes fluttering as she shook her head. "You must hate me," she whispered. "It's been bothering me all week, Will… I don't want us to feel uncomfortable around each other."

"We don't," he argued, though deep-down he knew it was quite the opposite. He'd rather get a root canal than talk with Alana at that moment.

Seeming to sense this, she came toward him and placed a hand over her chest. "I promise you," she gently began, "my intention was never to hurt you... I like you a lot, Will. We had a good thing going before our…incident."

Will frowned, lowering his gaze as his cheeks burned in shame. "Yeah? Well I must've not been all that terrible, because I recall you kissing me back. I'm confused enough without all these mixed signals, you know."

"I know," Alana softly agreed, "and that's why I wanted to clear everything up tonight…I owe you that much."

"So start talking."

She flinched, a little surprised by the sharpness of his tone. As she gazed up into his burning blue eyes, she recognized hints of pain and dismissal. Shaking her head, she observed, "Perhaps you're not in the right frame of mind…"

The laugh that followed was grating, Will's hands shooting into the air before he interlaced them behind his head. "Right," he sarcastically agreed, "of course I'm not! Nobody thinks 'the crazy guy' can handle emotions anymore, so it's necessary to just keep walking on eggshells when he's around!"

Alana's gaze was sharp. "Will, you're being ridiculous… I just don't want to hurt you anymore if you're not feeling-"

"If I'm not feeling what, Lonnie?" he coldly asked. "Because as far as I'm concerned? I'm feeling too much, and that's why I can't concentrate anymore… I can't solve these goddamn cases, and I definitely can't solve the mystery of our relationship, so what do you expect me to say? That I want you to keep bringing this up? That I want to keep feeling this way? Stop pussy-footing around the inevitable! Just tell me what you want, and get it over with!"

Alana lurched back from the growling force of his words, her chin lifting in an attempt at keeping her pride. That was the problem, she realized – they were both far too prideful and stubborn for their own good. Two people with such strong personalities weren't destined to get along, and yet she'd genuinely believed at one point that she could love him. He was different…she was different, but it wasn't enough to keep her from having reservations about his sanity.

"I'm sorry," Alana finally said. "Really, I am, but...shouldn't you be happy? That agent you brought obviously likes you, so-"

"Don't drag Beverly into this," Will warned. "If you don't mind, I'd like to keep her out of our little homespun drama."

Alana was indignant. "That's what this is to you? A 'homespun drama'?"

Will exhaled and ran a hand over his face, wishing for a great flood to come by and sweep him away. He couldn't deal with this anymore – he couldn't deal with the rejection anymore. Finally, he softly pleaded, "Just go, Lonnie… Please. We're obviously not going to resolve anything, so you should just leave before things get worse. At the very least, I'd like us to remain friends."

"Alright," she agreed, "I want that, too."

"Yeah."

Sending him one last searching look, Alana gathered up the material of her dress and lifted it above her feet, stalking off toward the door and leaving Will there to contemplate all that had just transpired.

He thought he heard the door slam, but that could've just been his imagination. At this point and time, anything could just be his imagination.

Approaching the lit fireplace on the far side of the room, Will sank down onto the bench in front of the flames and sighed, bowing his head as he rubbed at his face. He knew that the others were probably wondering where he was, but he wasn't in the mood to come back downstairs just yet. He couldn't face them.

After what felt like several minutes more, he heard the soft click of the doorknob, followed closely by the low hum of the guests talking downstairs. He grimaced and rolled his eyes. "Lonnie, I thought I told you to go… I have nothing more to say to you."

When only silence greeted his ears, a sense of panic filled him and he glanced over his shoulder, blanching when he realized Beverly was standing in the doorway. "Oh…uhhh, sorry." Meekly shooting up from his perch, his lips spread into a nervous smile as he held his hands out at his sides. "I'm not being a very good escort, am I? It wasn't my intention to leave you down there with those snots all by yourself, but…uhhh…I did. Maybe I can get a 'do-over'?"

Moving out from behind the bench, Will tucked his hands into his pockets and looked at Beverly more fully. The soft light from the flames danced on her skin, and it made his chest ache. She looked painfully beautiful. He felt like an ass for making her trek all over Lecter's house looking for him.

"So, uh...did all that 'work talk' chase you away?" he tried again. Though the question was out of place, Will was desperate for something – anything – to say to make the situation less awkward. He didn't want to feel uncomfortable around Beverly, but the issue with Alana had made him feel self-conscious. He hoped that it didn't show on his face.

Beverly flashed him a warm smile. "'Work talk'? No, not really, but they're definitely not as interesting as you are. You're the only one who'll let me talk about my Elvis obsession without groaning."

"You like Elvis?"

She laughed, closing the door as she stepped softly into the room. "Apparently you weren't listening during our drive...I guess some things never change." Coming over and coaxing him into sitting back down, her smile faded as she asked, "You ok? I can't pretend you didn't tell me to buzz off just now, so I'm guessing things didn't go over so well with Alana?"

Will sighed. "Do things ever go 'so well' in my life?"

"Oh, please. You're on a date with me right now, aren't you?"

He chuckled. "Well, I guess there is always that."

The two fell into amiable silence, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder as the flames continued to crackle warmly behind them.

Finally, Will felt compelled to talk (which was a rarity all on its own). Glancing toward Beverly, he shrugged and smiled. "I'd hate to think of you doing all of this for nothing, but I've kind of realized that...well...I was pursuing Alana for all the wrong reasons. I wanted a chance to grasp at life and my reality, but I just so happened to grasp at the wrong person." When Beverly quirked a brow, Will assured her, "I don't want Alana." He was surprised by the firmness behind his words. "I mean…maybe I thought I did, but a guy can only take 'no' for an answer so many times. I'm not stupid enough to keep trying. Besides," he softly continued, "I never would've asked you if I'd wanted to take someone else. I'd like to think I'm not that much of a jerk."

Beverly stared at him, surprisingly speechless. Will didn't think she'd ever been this silent for so long, and it honestly made him anxious. Had he said something wrong? Shrugging it off, he decided that he was already this far along, so he might as well keep going. Placing his hand over Beverly's, he smiled and said, "For the record? I really appreciate your honesty. Nobody else seems to think I can handle the truth, so...thank you. Really."

Beverly finally brightened, her smile infectious as she lifted her palm and clasped his hand. "What do you say we ditch these stiffs, hmm? We can go to a DQ in all our finery, pig out on ice cream, go to a midnight showing of some action flick, and then egg Lounds' house for fun." Suddenly registering Will's gaze, she frowned and scooted in closer. "What's wrong?"

He smiled weakly. "Nothing, it's just...you're kind of amazing." Shyly smoothing the loose hair from Beverly's bun, Will allowed his fingers to trace down toward the soft curve of her mouth. Feeling surprisingly emboldened, he brushed his thumb across the expanse of her lips and watched as her exotic, kohl-rimmed eyes met with his. The intensity of her gaze sent a jolt straight through him and he blanched, sucking a breath as he tried to steady himself. Her hand touched the one on her face and he trembled, closing his eyes as her soft, full mouth suddenly came over his. The kiss was firm, but gentle, his fingers lacing through her hair as she pulled him in closer. Her fists clenched his lapels and tugged, causing their mouths to join more strongly together. As Will groaned into the kiss, he felt Beverly's tongue trace along his lips.

With his hands drifting to the small of her back, Will only became marginally surprised when she lifted a leg and straddled him. Threading her fingers through his hair, she angled her face into his and glossed their tongues, now feeling the beginnings of his arousal prodding between her thighs. When Will's hand slid beneath the hem of her dress, he suddenly pulled back and stared up at her in shock. "Did you seriously not wear underwear to Lecter's party?"

Beverly sneered. "Well I'd say it worked out pretty damn well for you, so shut up and kiss me."

With a grin, Will brought his lips to hers and the two laughed, their hearts warm and full as they reclined against the bench.

A/N: AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND ADOPTED LOTS OF DOGS AND EVERYONE LIVED. THE END. If any of you have any Will/Bev one-shots you'd like to see written, go over to my "Katz and Dogs" fic and leave a prompt. I'd hate to end that fic just because Bev's gone. :'( So any and all suggestions would be appreciated. :) Let's keep Will/Bev alive (and consider Thomas Harris' canon law since EVERYONE LIVES IN RED DRAGON EXCEPT (most of) THE BAD GUYS)!

INDIVIDUAL THANK YOUS:

theheartsbeat: I'm SO sorry for keeping you waiting so long...I really hope this lived up to your expectations!

Abigill Fan: A little Will/Bev lovin'? Oh, yes. ;) I couldn't help myself, especially after the tragic end this ship has been given! :'(

kierlani: It's here now! Better late then never, right? :P Though I do apologize for the long wait!

Deedeekamau: Updated and completed! :) Though I guess that's obvious. haha Thanks so much for reading!

maxweston: You're probably my luckiest reviewer since you didn't have to wait long at all...everyone else has been waiting since before July, so you had it easy. :P haha Thanks so much for your interest!