Monday was bruschetta.
Heirloom tomatoes from the greenhouse, chopped and warmed lightly on the frying pan, tossed with olive oil, fresh basil and slivered olives. Baguette sliced thin and toasted to a slight crisp. The bread is then topped with the mixture (which is deposited from one of Hannibal’s broad chef knives for show) just before serving. Any sooner and the bread will begin to sog.
The bruschetta is stored in glass containers with white plastic lids. They make small precise lines along the container, each toast separated from the next with a carefully placed piece of parchment paper. The containers are stacked into a wicker basket along with a blanket, plates, napkins and other dining essentials.
Hannibal dresses warm; a woolen suit and matching gloves. Under his arm he carries a bottle of sauvignon blanc from Nice. It is wrapped in brown paper and topped with an ornately crafted origami lotus at the lip.
The snack is eaten on the floor of Will’s porch. The pair sit atop a thick blue blanket graciously provided by Will, and the meal is dined on crisp blue plates that Hannibal had procured in Bologna.
Will blushes slightly at the flower atop the wine bottle.
Will’s dogs trot crisp paths on the frosted field as Hannibal and Will watch and eat.
On Tuesday, Will cancels their lunch date.
Hannibal receives the call mid-preparation of roasted plum, prosciutto and goat’s cheese hors d'oeuvres with a basil and balsamic dressing. He shakes plum juice from his hands, and wipes them on his apron before answering the call.
Will’s voice is distressed on the other line: “...no, sorry, it’s just, there’s this case…"
Hannibal sets his knife down. He wonders if the leg of jambón, imported all the way from Spain, has gone bad. There is too much fat on the edges near the thigh and the meat smells slightly off.
He tosses the jambón in the compost and resigns himself to a metal bowl and a tin of blue-finned tuna.
He whips up a quick meal of tuna sandwiches with orange zest, wrapped in parchment paper and packed in a brown paper bag. He fills a double-walled glass thermos with herbs of chamomile, sage, lemon balm and boiling water. A meal of comfort.
At the bureau Hannibal finds Alana Bloom cussing out Jack Crawford in an otherwise empty lecture-hall. He also finds that he doesn’t mind postponing his lunch delivery too much, as he gets to hear Alana call Jack a ‘dictator’ with an ‘abhorrent disregard for your employee’s mental well being.’ Hannibal weighs in with an expression of smoothed emotion, only raising his eyebrows at some of Alana’s more poignant insults. Jack looks to him a few times throughout her verbal beat-down -and Hannibal is quite certain that his lack of verbal response speaks volumes.
Hannibal inquires about Will’s whereabouts. Jack shoots him an inspiringly loathsome glare before exiting the hall.
Alone, Hannibal allows himself a smile at the recent turn of events.
He finds Will some twenty minutes later hiding away in Alana Bloom’s office. His glasses are on the desk, head in his hand, burnt orange flannel shirt wrinkled and askew. He looks up just a beat too late at the sound of Hannibal’s footsteps, which stirs something akin to concern in the older man’s chest.
Will takes the bag from Hannibal silently and goes about eating his sandwich similarly. Hannibal sits in the desk-chair opposite him, watching the muscles in Will’s jaw flex as he chews, looking at the circles under his eyes, the dirt under his nails.
Will gives Hannibal a not-quite smile when he finishes his meal. He looks frustrated and in need of a long rest and maybe a back massage.
Hannibal gives him a slight smile in return, along with the comfort of his soundless presence. He will press Will for details later.
On Wednesday Hannibal is out for blood.
He serves heart chopped brusquely, roasted in a sherry flame, skewered and sticking out of a halved watermelon. He serves sweet corn, cut from the cob, tossed with chilli peppers and black salt from the dead sea. He serves vermouth from 1947 with halved olives that float in the bottom of a heavy, squared glasses.
Will eats the food without a second look. Jack gives him several.
Hannibal does not mind if Jack sees this meal for the rude gesture it is. Hannibal wants Jack to know he needs to back off.
As Jack slides a cube of heart between his lips, Hannibal removes the apron from his waist.
As Jack sips his drink, Hannibal takes his seat at the table beside Will.
As Jack mulls over the taste of chillies and corn, Hannibal fingers at Will’s blushing knee when he is certain Jack will notice.
Jack does eventually back off.
On Thursday there are three bottles of champagne.
One is actually from Champagne, France, while the other two are sparkling wines from lesser known cities around the south of the country.
Hannibal is curious to see which Will will like best. He has a feeling it will be the Saint Péray; a wine that is cheaper than the Champagne, but no less exquisite. It possesses a more crisp finish, a touch more carbonation.
Will looks like a deer in headlights when he sees Hannibal open the cooler and pull out three bottles, yet he stays quiet. He has learned not to protest. He knows Hannibal enjoys sharing food with friends -but spending this much money on them is uncommon.
So, rather than protesting, Will asks if this is Hannibal's way of courting him.
Hannibal smiles as he takes a knife to the corks of each bottle, removing each one with a fluid strike. The skill is one that took several messy attempts and several hundred dollars of wine to perfect, though Hannibal decides that the way Will's pupils dilate with each pop makes it worth all that effort.
Instead of answering Will's question, Hannibal hands him the first glass.
"I take it you have had champagne before? At one of Jack's work parties, perhaps."
Will shakes his head as he watches the bubbles rise.
"I've always just gone straight for the scotch. Makes the functions easier to handle. There's always too many people." He brings the glass to his lips and swallows. "Hmm. It tastes beautiful, if that makes sense.”
“As though we are tasting liquid stars,” Hannibal smiles and takes a sip from his own glass.
Will makes a small noise of agreement before moving back to sip at his own drink. The movement is not necessarily graceful, and his swallows are less delicate, savouring sips and more indulgent gulps, but Hannibal is entranced by his enjoyment of the drink nonetheless.
He watches as the bubbles flow from the flute to Will’s lips. He watches the blush rise on Will’s face when he catches Hannibal watching. Hannibal does not look away -instead his eyes fall to Will’s lips, where a single bead of of the Champagne has collected.
Hannibal leans in to taste.
Hannibal is quick to conclude that champagne tastes far better from Will’s mouth than it ever could from his artisan crafted crystal flutes. Though, he imagines that almost anything would.
They continue to steal kisses in between sips of their drinks, savouring the crisp tannins on one another’s tongues.
Hannibal brings Will to bed, tipsy and flushed. He soothes Will to sleep with a dotting of liquid-star kisses all down his neck.
On Friday, Hannibal wakes to the smell of cooking yokes.
He is wrapped in Will's sheets and the shedded fur of his many dogs. Sunlight streams in from a window to the left of the bed frame, illuminating the slow downward spirals of all the dust motes there. Hannibal can hear Will banging around downstairs, and sprawls himself across the bed, content to listen to the sounds and simply enjoy waking in his lover’s house.
Will brings him breakfast in bed. A simple omelette over toast and a strong cup of coffee. Hannibal thinks it is the best meal he has eaten all week.
Buster hops in bed after Will settles in and the rest of the pack is quick to follow. Hannibal pretends not to notice the dog hair that floats in his coffee.
He sips from his coffee and is pleased to find that he cannot taste the difference.
On Saturday, Hannibal drives Will to Seattle.
He’s rented a hotel room in the centre of the city for them, and feels something akin to pride when Will blushes at the admission of the expensive hotel but otherwise does not protest. Hannibal requests that they both turn off their phones for the duration of their stay. He tells Will that it is important for them to spend this time together, away from prying eyes and other earthly distractions. He tells Will that this weekend is just for them.
What Hannibal doesn’t tell Will is that this weekend is the only one like it that they will ever get.
It is meant to give them the one taste of what they could have had should they have been born into some other universe; one where Hannibal was not a killer that Will was hellbent on trying to catch. It was a present of a sort, yet one not given without selfish intent. Hannibal knew that this taste would make his betrayal sting more deeply. Hannibal hoped that, should Will be unable to reconcile with Hannibal’s nature, that this weekend might serve as the one untainted memory Will may have of them to keep.
Though, of course, Hannibal is more hopeful that it will serve as temptation. A reason to forgive.
These thoughts hang heavy in his mind long after exiting the car.
On Sunday they find themselves by the water.
There is a fair at the pier there and Will wants to go. Hannibal follows behind him, watching Will’s eyes light up at the glowing lights and smell of fried food. He smiles tentatively.
Will buys them kettle corn while Hannibal buys them tickets for the looming, metal ferris wheel.
At the very top, poised over the fair and overlooking the water, they share a long and slow kiss. There is a palpable finality to the action, and when they pull apart, Will’s eyes are hazy and wet.
The wind whips through Will’s curls.
Hannibal’s hand finds its way to Will’s thigh.
Will looks at him with such longing and sadness that Hannibal feels something inside himself give. An itch at the back of his skull, something that echoes the expression on Will’s face. An indescribable thought.
He fumbles with it, his face inches away from Will’s. He tries to transmit it through word and sound, yet there is something essential lost in translation as it travels from mind to mouth. Hannibal cannot bring himself to vocalize hollow words; he tastes something bitter on his tongue. This is not a language he has ever learned to speak.
Will watches his lover’s face with something like recognition. A patient understanding.
Hannibal’s eyes slide shut.
The air is cold, but the lips that press up against his are warm and plush. Gentle. The hand on Will’s thigh shakes.
They pull away; palms and sides pressing together.
Slowly, the ferris wheel begins to move. The pair cling to one another and watch as their cart slowly descends over the twinkling lights of the fair and back down to the cool earth.