It's been four months and two and a half weeks since that day. We moved location three times since that day. I changed my appearance twice since that day. My mood, my thoughts, my feelings changed so many times since that day. I left behind... everything that day. The day, I died.
The great red dragon was a worthy opponent for Hannibal, for us. To experience such... beauty was overwhelming. I never thought I could feel so alive, so fulfilled, so whole. I always felt like an incomplete puzzle in a way. I changed shape; to fit in and hoped that the other people wouldn't realise that some pieces don´t fit. It was the same with Molly; all I wanted was to have a normal life, a loving family. But Molly loved only the version of the Will Graham she knew. I tried so hard to be the “husband Will”, the “stepdad Will” and before all that nothing but the “poor boy Willy”, the “smart but strange student Will” and then the “teacher Will”, “special agent Will”. It was always hard work and even so, most people realised quite fast that I am not normal at all... I was never just this version or that version of Will. And even though they all thought I was a little weird, different, they never saw me for who I am. Hell, I didn't even see me. How could someone know what you want, need; what you are when you don't even know yourself? But still he saw, he knew. And I will always be thankful for that. Don´t get me wrong Hannibal Lecter is the devil. He hurt me, many times. I´ll never forget what he did to me, to the people I loved. But I've forgiven him, It wasn't my conscious decision to forgive him. I just did. I always knew that in Hannibals ugly, manipulating acts he was (in his own twisted way); thinking about the best possible outcome. Maybe not always with my well-being as a first priority. But he wanted the best, for both of us. It is hard to explain what I feel for Hannibal. There is probably not one person in the whole world who find our... relationship understandable. That is not important though, we (as hard as it is to put in words) understand. As I once said to Alana; We know where we are with each other – that's what is important in the end. It took me long enough to comprehend where I stand and -I am still not sure where exactly that is – all I know is that I stand by his side. We are (at last) together as equal partners.
“What are you doing?” I ask Hannibal. He sits outside on our small but very beautiful porch. The “little” villa Hannibal purchased for us, here in Cuba, is extraordinary. It fulfills all our needs. The villa is big enough for Hannibal´s taste and also very stylish furnished. The kitchen is enormous. We live quite secure, with a lake nearby. A big market and some, as I call them, fancy shops are easy to reach, especially with our Jeep Grand Cherokee (which took me long enough to get Hannibal to buy). “Just enjoying the sun” Hannibal's eyes are closed, his head tilted back as he lets the sunlight hit his face. He still relishes in everything, now more than ever. Since his little “break” in prison, he is determined to feel the world around him once again. Or that is how he explained it to me, I remember how I rolled my eyes at his overdramatic words but of course, I understand; even with the little time I spend in prison... I´ll never forget how it felt to feel the snow on my skin again.
“Uh-uh, are you planning on staying there all day?” “Has it been long?” “About half an hour. I was thinking you might be dead; you know, dying of old age and such.” “You aren't funny, Will” Hannibal answers, eyes still closed. “I really think I am.” I step further outside. “But seriously though; I´m starving.” “We did eat breakfast two hours ago.” “But it's already four pm!” I am not ashamed to say that I indeed, whined. Hannibal chuckles slightly (a new development, something he does quite a lot nowadays.) “Is it in my fault that you choose to sleep till noon, Will?” “Is it my fault that you want to drink and talk until the early morning hours, Hannibal?” He finally opens his eyes and smiles at me “Ah, I suppose your right, it is all my fault. How dare I let you starve.” “Exactly!” I huff feigning annoyance. We smile at each other, dear lord do we smile a lot. Internally I roll my eyes at myself (also a lot nowadays). We look at each other for a moment; with a small sigh, Hannibal stands up “Very well, I will go to the market then and start cooking. But be warned Will, you know a good and fresh meal takes some time. Don´t expect me to hurry and have a perfectly cooked dinner ready in half a-" “ Yes, yes. Less lecturing, more getting dressed for the market." (I am so lucky he actually likes me, otherwise I would have ended up as a meal long ago but as it is...) Hannibal just sighs again. “Oh and Hannibal, I probably won't be home when you get back.” “You won't come with me?” Wow, he really looks disappointed. “Ah uh no, I´d like to go fishing.”... “Of course Will. Any wishes for our Meal?” “Nah, you know I trust you.” His face lightens up at that. Sometimes he is so easy.
I wait until Hannibal left before I, in fact not take my fishing stuff, but my (small baby aka) Triumph Bonneville and drive into town myself. For you see I've got a small surprise for Hannibal (well and myself). I drive up to the small shop at the end of the side-road. The shop looks very minimalistic and clean. On the inside, it looks inviting even with its dark interior. The only white you see is the font of the shops' logo. I smile; very classy an elegant. Perfect.
“Thank you so much again” “It was my pleasure, Mr. Graham. Maybe we'll see each other again?” I laugh at the man's enthusiasms. “Who knows, maybe.” I pay him (with 10 bucks extra tip) and leave with a friendly wave. I am more than happy that everything worked out so perfectly.
When I am back home again, Hannibal is of course already back in the kitchen working with concentration (and a small smile on his face) on our meal. I decided that I didn´t need a good excuse. I´ll just tell him immediately. I enter the kitchen after I removed my dirty boots and my leather jacket. “Will.” He looks me up and down with slightly narrowed eyes. “I don´t believe you take your beloved bike out to go fishing.” “Nope, I don´t.” I say casually as I snatch a sliced pepper from Hannibals cutting board. “So pray tell, where have you been?” “What? Can´t smell it on me?” I mock playfully. Hannibal straightens up and looks me directly in the eyes. I hold his gaze- oh how far we have come. “I smell... something sterile.” “Not bad, very good!” “Will.” It´s said slowly and casually but its a warning; enough playtime. “Very well. I have a surprise for you.” Hannibal already looks surprised, I can't blame him; this seems out of nowhere for him. My planning is unknown to him after all. “ Who knows what you will think about it though.” I mumble as I move closer to him. “Would you like to see it now? Or after dinner?” Hannibal huffs slightly “After dinner then. Considering you were so very hungry.” Fair enough “After dinner it is.”
Dinner as per usual is delicious. Hannibal's table setting is flawless; the food is exquisite and the wine enjoyable. I´d prefer a scotch but what do I know. We talk about everything under the sun; no specific topic at all. It´s so easy to talk with Hannibal. I love to discuss with him it´s ...thrilling. Even back then, when I had one of my bad days (and oh boy were there many), the sessions with Hannibal were always intriguing. As we finish dinner, Hannibal immediately begins to clean the table. After everything but our wine is cleaned up; I turn to him, slightly pounding and say “What? No dessert today?” Hannibal looks impatient. Curious after all. “I don´t think you deserve one.” I let out a bark of laughter. “Oh? Was I...” I grin at him and try to mimic his voice “...terrible naughty?” Hannibal's expression is unreadable for a moment, his voice when he answers is deeper than I have ever heard before. “Indeed you have been. What's to be done about that?” I swallow at the tension that suddenly fills the space between us. “Well...” I laugh nervously “Uh mm” ... “Let us move to the sitting room, shall we? I´ll bring a new bottle of wine.” I nod, thankful that Hannibal is breaking the thick atmosphere. When we finally settle down with another glass of wine; Hannibal takes a big gulp from his. I grin into mine lightly. I wonder what he´s expecting. “So...” I start and he instantly looks at me. “As I said I have a small surprise for you. Well, to be totally honest it is a gift for myself but I suppose you will... appreciate it too.” I stand up and start to undo my shirt. He raises an eyebrow at me. When I am shirtless I move to kneel down in front of Hannibal; I look up at him. Hannibals breath stutters for a moment. It´s kind of ...cute (I will never let him know that I thought that about him) how easily effected he is by me. After a long moment; I smile and turn around. There is another moment of silence, then... “Will.” Hannibal breaths, he lifts his hand and traces my shoulder blade with his finger. Gently, a bit up and down again. I twist my head around to see a glimpse of his face. “What do you think?” “...It´s beautiful.” I chuckle at his phrasing. “Yeah? I think so too. Do you remember the date?” “Of course, how could I ever forget the day we died?” He's smiling now too; but his voice is thick and even from this angle I can see that he has tears in his eyes. Ridiculous man. “Ah as you may have guessed I didn't go out fishing but to the tattoo parlour.” He laughs shortly “Oh Will...” I indeed had the idea for a little while. I guess something new, for the new (or old and finally awakened), Will. On my shoulder, in black ink (till my body is no longer), the date of the day we killed the dragon and we were reborn -in Roman numerals. And below it … “Do you like the quote I choose?” “It is very appropriate” he strokes around the tattoo again and reads it out loud “Remember tonight... for it is the beginning of always” I turn around fully. Hannibal looks besotted, to put it mildly. He cups my cheek. “My dear boy. Will you ever stop surprising me?” “Nah. That would be boring.” We are both grinning like fools (I´d say God help me... but that ship has sailed). Maybe it is the wine in the end that gives us the courage, maybe it is the emotional moment or maybe (just maybe) it is about fucking time that we both lean in and take a little risk. I close my eyes and in spite of all that ever happened between us, we kiss. And it feels like home; like I'm finally no longer missing a piece (We fit together like puzzle pieces). You complete me.