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disclaimer: i don't own the characters or Hannibal, just the story.

At first, she just thought he was pretty cute. She is intimidated by his intelligence and perception: sure, she's clever, but in a superficial way. Down-to-earth is how most would describe her. She never misses a beat, never makes a mistake, but emotions frighten her.

Will has too much going on in his head. She wishes she could extract the malfunctioning part of his brain and lay it out beneath her microscope, so she does, or at least tries to. She listens to his ramblings, and supports him with a casual ease. Maybe he doesn't see her in the same way he sees Hannibal, but that's okay with her. For now, she's stuck in the lab with Price and Zeller, who provide amusement but nothing tangible. If Will needs someone to hold on to, she would gladly revisit a crime scene at 1am where a possible crazed murderer is lying in wait, or sit with him when he needs to hear the voice of a sane human being.

She doesn't especially know Hannibal, but she doesn't trust him. She suspects he is playing with Will's mind behind the closed doors of his office, doing more harm than good, but she is a fiber analyst. Never one for the psychological. It both bores and bemuses her. In her mind, people are either good or bad.

"I'm on your side." she tells Will firmly as they stand in the shadows of Beth LeBeau's blood-spattered bedroom. He's staring at her oddly, in a way that unsettles her, and for the first time she's almost afraid to be alone with Will Graham.

"I didn't kill Beth LeBeau," he says carefully, though his voice shakes, "I just want to know who did."

"Yeah. Me too." She doesn't know why her flashlight is quivering slightly in her hand. She doesn't get afraid - not for herself anyway. She looks at Will, sees the fear and confusion in his dark eyes, and she's angry. She wants to rip out his brain and stamp on it. She wants to yell at Crawford and Lecter for the emotional torment they put him through. Why the hell does she care, anyway?

It's late, and she knows that Will will just have nightmares if he goes home now, so she drives him back to her house in Virginia. Maybe she wants an excuse to spend a little longer with him, but he goes along with it, even spinning the dials on the radio and chattering amiably like everything is fine. She knows that's as far from the truth as it gets though. Will is terrible at hiding his emotions.

Once they arrive at her house, she kicks off her shoes by the door and motions for Will to do the same, so he gingerly places them neatly on the doormat and shoves his hands in his pockets, looking lost. She rolls her eyes.

"Want some hot chocolate?" She doesn't even like hot chocolate, but she keeps some in the cupboard, and it seems fitting for the cold December night. Maybe even a little romantic. She clears her throat. "Or I have beer, if you'd prefer that..."

Will just shakes his head in the puppy-dog style he does, and slumps on to her couch, so she takes the opportunity to slide next to him. He places his head in his hands. "Still shaken up from what happened back in Greenwood, huh?" He gives an affirmative nod. "Ah." The silence that follows is, strangely, not awkward, but oddly comforting. She's sure that if she listens hard enough she could hear the cogs whirring in Will's brain, never allowing him rest, constantly spinning gruesome images around his head like a washing machine on a never-ending cycle.

He fascinates her.

"Let's watch a movie. No horror though, I promise." She claps her hands and hops off the couch to go rifle through her movie collection. The Grudge...yeah, maybe not. Saw...even worse.

"You have terrible taste in movies." he says from the couch.

"Thanks. What do you suggest, then?" After at least ten minutes of rummaging, he finally pulls one out and holds it out in front of him like King Arthur with Excalibur. She can't help but grin at the childish beam on his face, something that looks so foreign to her. "There, a decent film," he says triumphantly. "Fight Club."

"Fight Club? I had you pinned as more of a closet Disney fan."

"Say what you want, but Edward Norton is a great actor. Although who doesn't tear up at Mufasa's death?" He chuckles, and she realises with a sense of elation that he's joking with her. Will Graham, the depressed, antisocial criminal profiler is sitting on her living room floor laughing. She nearly grabs his face and kisses him right there and then.

"Well," she says coolly, "I suppose I don't mind staring at Brad Pitt's bare chest for an hour and a half."

Will doesn't even last that long before he's fast asleep on the armrest of the couch, his mouth slightly open, but she doesn't even mind because he looks so peaceful. So she gently lifts his arm and slides under it, settling herself against him. Maybe in another life things would be different, and Will wouldn't be completely screwed up, and they could be together normally, but she reminds herself she is being melodramatic and lets him sleep. This is as close to perfect as it will ever get for them, but as Beverly drifts off herself she mentally ticks one thing off her bucketlist: make Will Graham smile. Just once.

She would let Hannibal do the rest.