The envelope Alana hands him is thick, and sealed. Her cheeks are flushed, her expression sour, as she slides it through the little tray so Hannibal can take it. Hannibal smiles at her, charming and friendly, and takes it. He knows all of his outgoing mail is screened and addressed by her, so he cannot learn any addresses or personal information – he doesn't know if she reads his incoming mail. There is no return address on the envelope, but Hannibal recognizes the handwriting.
He goes to his desk and slices the letter open cleanly, but waits until she leaves, before he takes out the several sheets of folded paper, and lays them flat.
There's some things I need to say. Things I can't say when I'm looking at you. Because looking at you is the same kind of torture being opened up by you is – it's not exactly painful, the brain is quite good at going into shock so you don't feel pain. But you already knew that, didn't you?
I want you. I want you in the ways animals want each other – with teeth and blood. I want you in the way sinners want mercy, the way the thirsty want water. I want the imprints of your molars on my fingertips. I want your tongue in my mouth.
I want you the way men covet pretty things, only to destroy them later. I want to crack the polished lacquer of your Faberge egg smile. I want to melt the filigree from your golden gates. I want to paint walls with the colors in your eyes. I want to make the earth quake so your foundations crumble.
I want you strong. I want you vulnerable and invincible and in all the ways I cannot have you.
I want to open up your neck and play love songs on your vocal cords and tendons and sinew. I want to wind your hair into a violin bow and watch people dance to you. I want to – to take every bone, to hollow them out, grind the marrow into a paste and pave a stage with it. I want every tap dance, every ballet, every sonnet and Greek tragedy performed on your bones. I want your skin like a pelt on the floor.
I want you in the way animals do. I want you warm, and willing. I want to feel your wrists within the manacle of my fingers. I want to put your pulse against my own and see if they match up, to see if, perhaps, one day, I could make yours race.
I want you the way wild creatures will use trees to scratch itches they cannot reach themselves. I want to push my shoulders and flanks up to your brittle surfaces. I want to carve you clean. I want you to soothe my itch.
I want you the way the righteous want justice – something that burns me, at my core. Something that keeps me up at night and never lets me rest. A way that compels me to look at the stars and hope, and wish, you were looking at them with me. I want you in a way that feels like starlight – distant and cold and the closer I get, the more danger I'm in, until I suffocate or burn to ash.
I ache for you like animals do when a storm comes – I sit, and wait, and tremble, and look for you to come for me, to break over me. I want to wake up with your nightmare at my doorstep. I want to go to sleep with your life in my hands. I want you to open, cleave apart the sky, pour down your love and your wrath on me and mark me as your own.
I want you the way animals want each other – purely, without thought of consequence. Be the mantis or widow, the wolf or lion, be the carcass of a species long-since dead. I will make a home for myself in your ribs. I want you in the way a traveler aches for his bed.
I want you inside me. I want your blood and your flesh and your desire, all of it. I want to touch every nerve you possess, to light up and throw tension and strain through every muscle. I want my knife in your heart and your claws in my neck. I want you the way the fish want the lake surface to turn solid, to keep them safe – make me safe, but not too much, lest I freeze to death as well.
You are mine the way hunger is winter's. An inevitable consequence of an unavoidable event. Winter comes and everything dies. I want you at my side, I want your smile, I want your teeth. I want you the way animals want spring.
I want you weak, reeking. I want you marked. I want you scarred and shaking and terrified. I want you to trust me. I want you to despise me. I want your wrath and your hate and your fear, your vulnerability, your weakness. I want you to look at me and wish you were dead. I want you to ache for me, because, because I -.
I want to destroy you. Turn your teeth to butter and put your bones in my bread. I want to learn to make wine from your sweat and your blood. I want to devour you, and consume you. I want to touch the innards of your skull and test the strength of your barren jaw.
I want your mouth around me. I want to curl up inside your stomach and sleep there. I can't sleep anymore. I can't sleep without thinking about how you smell, isn't that strange? I don't even remember – but I do, don't I? I want to see you, to memorize your face in all its facets.
I want to be inside you. I want to see poison in your veins, turning them black, pooling around your wrists and your spine and tainting your tongue. I want to blacken your teeth. I want you muzzled and bound and free as a bird.
I want you the way animals want each other. I want you. I want to tear you apart and piece you back together. I need you like water, like air. I want you the way a drowning man wants the surface of the ocean.
I want you as you are; violent, cruel. Devious and deadly. I want you. I want to seep into your bones and make you ache. I want to make you hurt. I want you to cry out for me in the night and tremble until I touch you.
I want you to want me the way animals want each other. With teeth, and claws, and blood. I want you branded into me, I want to erase everything else that touched me, that touched you, that isn't us. I want your mouth on my scars while I open yours back up.
I want you the way the faithful want their gods. I want your better nature, your worst compulsions. I ache for you like the ocean licks at the borders of the land. I want to burrow into you and eat away at your cliffsides.
I want you.
I want -.
There is a stain, at the bottom of this sheet of paper. Hannibal lifts it to his nose, closes his eyes, breathes in deeply. Will. The scent of him, dirty and salty and sharp.
The last page has but a single sentence;
How do you want me?
Hannibal smiles, and takes a sheet of his own, and writes his response.
In a faraway cabin on the edge of the woods, with his wife and child and dogs outside, Will opens the letter with trembling hands and reads, in that familiar, beautiful script;
The way I always have, my darling Will. Wholly, and forever.
Will whimpers, pressing his knuckles to his teeth, and closes his eyes. He tucks the letter inside his pillowcase, and lays his head upon it, listening to the paper wrinkle and crackle. He sleeps, and dreams of monsters, and when he wakes, he calls Jack Crawford, a plan already in place.