Will Graham is acquitted, is released from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and shoots Hannibal Lecter in the head.
Will gives Freddie the interview.
He was only ever going to do the one, and he knows it has to be her. Not because he likes her; he doesn’t. Not because he trusts what she’ll write; he no longer cares very much what gets written about him. Not even because she deserves it, in some twisted way. Maybe she does deserve it, for sticking with him for all this time, even if he wishes she’d drowned in a swamp instead.
But Will no longer cares very much what anyone might deserve. That was the headline, after all, for the story of Will Graham’s second incarceration. Or at least the implication: Hannibal Lecter got what he deserved.
Will sits in his cell, and tries to stare Hannibal down. It’s irritating, just how lifelike his mind is capable of conjuring the ghost up. He’s wearing a grey three-piece suit with just a hint of tartan pattern, sitting on the floor on the other side of the cell as if the concrete were a throne. He’s looking at Will skeptically. Amused.
“Don’t pretend you don’t read her rag,” Will snaps, and he says it out loud. He’s been put back in the BHCI for the time being, despite the fact that it’s now a matter of record that the insane part of the moniker was more Hannibal’s fabrication than anything to do with Will. He doesn’t mind. He has a cell to himself, and here, nobody thinks it’s odd when he talks to ghosts.
Hannibal’s mouth twitches minutely. Will had always known that the Ripper read Tattlecrime. He’d even used it against him. “Is that why you want her to write it?” Hannibal asks. “In the hopes that I will read it, even beyond the grave?”
Will hears the buzz of the lock at the end of the hallway. The same sound that used to make him hope desperately that Hannibal would appear in front of his cell. Now he can hear the click of heels on the floor, and he rolls his eyes at the mirage in front of him. “No,” he says. “knowing me, I’ll probably conjure up a tablet for you, and you’ll read it right in front of me.”
Hannibal is smirking when Freddie clicks up in front of Will’s cell. She pulls up a chair, closer than is technically allowed, but security around Will is lax these days. He’s not an intelligent psychopath; he’s just a regular old murderer. The new orderly who had handed him lunch yesterday had even dared to make eye contact with him and blurt nervously, “I’d have done the same, bro.”
(The ghostly replica of Hannibal Lecter in the corner of the cell had nearly had an aneurysm when Will had gotten over his shock just in time to respond, “Thanks… bro.”)
“Will Graham,” she says, because she seems to have a kind of bizarre infatuation with addressing him by his full name. But she’s smiling, and her face is open and friendly, which is a bizarre look on her, from Will’s perspective.
But then, he has just handed her the interview of a lifetime. The least she can do is a friendly expression.
“Freddie,” he says, walking as close as he can get towards the bars of the cell without actually touching them. He grasps his hands loosely behind his back. “Thank you for coming.”
“Thank you for inviting me,” she says, nodding around as if they’re in a living room and not a dank and well-guarded basement. “And congratulations on your acquittal.”
Will tilts his head, and waits. From behind him, where Hannibal is sitting, comes the voice in his head saying “wait… wait… wait… she will continue.” And she does, twists her small neat mouth into a grimace and says, “But then, I suppose you’re not going to be acquitted of this, are you?”
It should hurt to think about. Most people would feel something at the idea of spending the rest of their life in jail, or even a significant chunk of years. He’s not going to get a death penalty, Will knows. Not for this. Not when everyone understands why he did it. Would have done it themselves, in his place.
It doesn’t hurt. He can sit in a jail cell and imagine talking to Hannibal, or he could do the same at home. It all feels the same, at this point. He isn’t going away. Will’s mind, apparently, is going to make sure of that.
“Unlikely,” he says to Freddie, “Since I did it.”
“How does it feel to be back here?”
Will glances around. He’d decided not to lie to her, as much as possible. He shrugs. “The same,” he says. “I always knew that I wasn’t a serial killer before. I still know it now. And it’s not like I was gone for long.”
“No,” says Freddie, drawing out the vowel in that way she has where she knows exactly what she’s going to say next, and is just trying to draw out the suspense before her next question. “No, you weren’t. Only a few hours. Tell me, Will, had you already decided to kill Hannibal Lecter even before you were released?”
Will’s skin feels like it tightens on his body very slightly. He opens his mouth, wondering what’s going to come out. What comes out is the blandest evasion possible: “I wasn’t…. it was a crime of passion.” It’s what all the newspapers had already said, after all. Anyone in their right mind would go out of their right mind, a little bit, if they had a gun in their hand and the psychiatrist/serial killer who had framed them standing right there.
Yes. A crime of passion. Will winces. Freddie grins.
“Passion,” she says. “Yes, I’m sure it was. How did he look, in the moment just before you pulled the trigger, Will?”
A truth. Will desperately hunts for a truth to offer her, but he’s not as practised as Hannibal at offering up gleaming truths from inside a morass of lies. And Hannibal is being no help at all.
“He turned away,” he says finally, and his voice doesn’t waver as he says it. It’s true; he had. Turned away, so that Will couldn’t see everything on Hannibal’s face that he could feel in his heart: fear, lust, anger, sorrow, regret, pride, and maybe– no. Will will not add love to that list. Hannibal wasn’t capable of it, he can’t have been. Passion, though, that Will can give him.
Freddie looks at him.
She keeps looking, and now it’s Will’s turn to look away. Because she knows, and Will knows she knows.
If Freddie Lounds were cruel, instead of merely uncaring and opportunistic, she would say it. She would tilt her head to the side in that terrifying way she has and intone, how long did it take you to realize? Did you wonder, for a split-second, what on earth that sound was? Did the world slow to a treacle-slow crawl in the instant you realized that your hands were shaking so badly you had pulled the trigger by accident?
But Freddie is not cruel, and the story of Will Graham, the murderer Hannibal Lecter created, is too pristine and saleable for her to destroy with a messy reality.
Instead she asks, “And how do you feel, now that your tormentor is dead?”
Will wonders if this is how Hannibal used to feel, every time a diner asked him what the meal consisted of. That there were so many possible answers that it was almost impossible to sort through them all and come up with the correct one to offer, but sort through he must.
I feel like myself finally. It’s incredible.
I spend every minute of the day wishing I hadn’t put my finger on that trigger.
I spend every minute of the day wishing I had killed him sooner. Or slower.
I miss him.
“It’s not enough,” says Will.