Every morning, Hanna wakes up to the smell of breakfast. It should probably be a crime that someone who doesn’t eat anymore makes such delicious pancakes, but luckily it isn’t yet so Roderick can make him all of the toast and omelets and pancakes he wants. Although, at first Hanna thought the zombie was doing it because Hanna had hired him! But no - six months into their acquaintance and Hanna knew that Benvolio was doing it because they weren’t just partners, they were best friends.
Hanna has never had a best friend before. That’s really what makes his heart swell when he wakes up with the sizzle of bacon in the air. Not that he doesn’t have to make breakfast for himself, but that Horace is there, so Hanna isn’t alone. There’s never such a big sense of elation as when Hanna wakes up in the morning to find that his undead best friend is still with him, sometimes even smiling at him! So far, Salvador has one hundred thirty nine smiles to his name, since Hanna had met him. Each one is like a little present, and Conrad’s smile tally is so far behind that sometimes (around his moments of crushing insecurity) Hanna’s convinced that he’s the one making Keaton smile so much! He doesn’t spend nearly as much time with Conrad, so it might just be that Hanna has more time to see Leonardo’s smiles.
In a secret place in his heart, though, Hanna wishes all the time that Terrence’s smiles are all for him.
Statistically speaking, there is definitely someone Martinez could have chosen to be a better best friend. Hanna has, well, zero experience, and no one to ask for advice from, and previous to Zachariah's involvement in his life had only had acquaintances and sort-of friends and maybe friends and fair-weather friends and then Doc Worth and Lamont. (Doc Worth and Lamont are really great of course! But they aren’t best friend material.) But he’s chosen Hanna anyway, or at least hadn’t argued when Hanna had chosen him, and that’s great! It’s really, really great. Like so great that sometimes Hanna is in danger of exploding with how great it is, like when Sherwin makes him breakfast, or asks if he’s okay, or walks him to work, and especially just basically every time Hanna turns about and Percival is still there. And when they’re investigating things, like last week when there was a troll in the lumber yard of poor Mrs. Gordon’s uncle, having his best friend next to him makes Hanna feel invincible. There’s someone better out there, but Amadeus has chosen him, Hanna Falk Cross, and most of the time that’s enough.
When it isn’t enough - that’s usually late at night when Hanna jerks awake from nightmares which always fade the moment he jackknifes into a sitting position, only to find himself alone in the apartment. Of course it’s some kind of mind-numbingly fucked up to expect Dixon to be next to him all the time, to never leave or get bored or go to the store or the library. But even though when it happened Hanna told himself to the moon and back that if he would just go back to sleep, Henrich would be there when he woke up, it never helped. Before he had known Gideon, being alone had been pretty usual and seeing Doc Worth or Lamont or his co-workers - that was icing on the cake. Hanna had been one of those lonely people who talked to cashiers, but with Valentino in his life now, he doesn’t need to seek out social interaction on his days off anymore because he has a best friend. Waking up alone (or even having to walk home alone from work, only to find the apartment empty) reminds Hanna of how things had been. Then - worse than that - it reminds him of how things will be again.
In his better moods, Hanna knows that Toni and Conrad and Veser’s friendship isn’t dependent on Olav’s. Just because he hadn’t met any of them before meeting Munroe doesn’t mean they’re going to leave when he does. It’s just that, huddled around his laptop at 3AM looking for something to distract himself with because he can’t go to bed before Sanford gets back, that’s pretty hard to remember. Mostly he ends up watching Bill Nye on youtube until he falls asleep, still waiting. One night in twenty, he doesn’t fall asleep, though.
Langdon comes home, usually before dawn but not always, and must drop what he is carrying because he suddenly has his arms full of Hanna. Hanna knows that this must, in some manner, hurt Xavier’s feelings (I hope he doesn’t think I don’t trust him, Hanna often thinks.) but he doesn’t stop. When he doesn’t sleep, what Hanna thinks is this:
His best friend is really somebody else’s best friend.
Benjamin would argue, but Hanna knows that he is correct. He is borrowing this wonderful friendship from some man or woman he’s never met, who Jamaal can’t remember. Hanna is borrowing everything from the people Winston can’t remember: his time and his energy and his smiles and his delicious pancakes and his hugs and every single time Drake asks, “Are you okay, Hanna?”, Hanna is stealing that concern, too. Somewhere out there, Sid has a real best friend and a real family and maybe a wife and kids and a dog or a cat or maybe he was a horse rider. Hanna is pretty much struggling just to be a good best friend and can’t even conceive of being any of that other stuff (only Clemens is totally part of his family, but don’t tell anyone). Hanna is five feet and two and a half inches tall, and he was one hundred and ten pounds the last time he weighed himself, and next to his best friend he looks really small. When he thinks about all of the wonderful people that his best friend used to know - who Apollo says he makes up for - Hanna feels even smaller.
Even Vesser and Doc Worth, who are the two most cynical people Hanna knows, say that Tobias won’t leave him even if he remembers. Hanna tells himself that they see something he can’t, most of the time - except when he can’t sleep, and then he wonders if he’s the one who sees what they don’t: No matter how sincerely he and his zombie are best friends now, the moment Socrates remembers his real name and all of the people that he left behind, there will be too many holes in his heart for Hanna to fill, and then sudden best-friend feelings for a man or woman who thinks that Patrick is dead. Even if Alfred doesn’t leave, he and Hanna won’t be best friends anymore because somewhere out there will be a real name and a real best friend and a real family for him. Hanna will just be some fake kid who smiled too much and made him paper cranes which will suddenly have a much more real meaning, also out there somewhere, where Hanna could never, never touch it.
It’s selfish and wrong but Hanna doesn’t want there to be something important to Rainer that Hanna hasn’t been involved in. The moment that Cleveland remembers to love something Hanna can’t touch, the zombie himself becomes untouchable: impervious and suddenly just as too good for Hanna as Hanna always knew Isocrates was.
The zombie that Hanna knows now is a good imitation of the original, surely, but he lacks the knowledge that he could totally have better. In addition, their friendship and the names Hanna spits out and the stupid fucking cranes that Hanna leaves everywhere are fake like plastic flowers: just fine from far away, but up close and with something to compare it to - not even worth the time. On sleepless nights, Hanna tells himself that he and Santiago are best friends and that things are definitely as good as they could be. He tells himself that just because their friendship is only an imitation of the real thing doesn’t make it fragile. In Hanna’s imagination, his and Godfrey’s friendship was as endless as their walks on cool fall nights, but -
Just the slightest brush of memory would sweep their friendship away. It’s almost enough to make Hanna wish he could stop dreaming that they could be real best friends: best friends forever like they’re five or eight or thirteen and not living in the real world where Hanna Falk Cross having a best friend is so much of a miracle he could only be best friends with a dead man who doesn’t know himself.