Franklyn is enjoying the opera. Really. He is. That is, after all, the entire reason why he had come. Because Franklyn is a cultured man who appreciates the finer things in life. Like opera. And cheese, of course. So if, during the performance, his eyes kept wandering over to Dr. Lecter, that was just to see if his psychiatrist was enjoying the show as much as he was. And now, during intermission... well, it’s only natural for Franklyn to catch the attention of the good doctor and his high society friends.
“Hello,” Dr. Lecter smiles warmly, clearly happy to see him.
“Hi! Nice to see you.” Remembering his manners, Franklyn turns to look at his companion. “This is my friend, Tobias.”
“Good evening.” As Dr. Lecter addresses Tobias, Franklyn notices a scruffy-looking man standing uncomfortably close to him.
“I’m sorry, but who are you?” he asks, hoping to alert Dr. Lecter to the intruder.
“My apologies, Franklyn. This is my partner, Will Graham.”
Franklyn has a hard time concealing his shock and disgust. This partner of the psychiatrist couldn’t look more out of place in the distinguished opera house. His hair curled in messy locks around his face and he looked beyond uncomfortable in his suit, even if it was perfectly tailored. Franklyn was prepared to comment on Will Graham’s drink choice (because honestly, who drinks whiskey at the opera?), but he’s interrupted by one of Dr. Lecter’s other companions, a keen, birdlike woman wearing a fashionable red dress.
“How do you two know each other?”
“There should remain some mystery to my life outside the opera.” Dr. Lecter answers.
“Honestly, Hannibal!” The woman scolds him, hitting the doctor playfully with her black-gloved hand. “You cannot keep every element of your life a secret and pretend it is all in the name of mystery. Why, I still have not forgiven you for keeping this simply delightful young man here all to yourself—” she continues to talk about Will, singing the scruffy young man’s praises as if he was a rare reblochon. Franklyn decides that he needs to take control of the situation, to remind everyone that he is still there.
“I’m one of Dr. Lecter’s patients,” he blurts out, hoping to turn the conversation back towards himself. There’s a slight awkward pause, and Will Graham appears to be stifling a laugh. Franklyn ignores him, as the man obviously lacks the social grace to know what to do in this type of situation.
“Did you enjoy the performance?” Dr. Lecter asks, tactfully changing the subject to distract from his partner’s clear immaturity and incompetence.
“Loved it. Every minute,” Franklyn responds quickly, eager to show off how well he fits in to the psychiatrist’s social sphere.
“His eyes kept wandering.” Tobias chooses that moment to rejoin the conversation. “More interested in you than what was happening on stage.”
Franklyn scowls at him. Of course he had glanced at the doctor throughout the show, but there was no need for Tobias to bring it up like this. As he so often does, Franklyn feels pity for his friend, who, while undeniably intelligent, is somewhat lacking in tact. Perhaps Tobias is merely jealous of Dr. Lecter for holding such a high status in Franklyn’s esteem? Franklyn resolves to invest more in his relationship with Tobias, just in case.
“Tobias likes to joke. I mean, I noticed you in the audience, but I was so enthralled by the performers that I, um…” Franklyn fumbles, trying to rescue the conversation from Tobias’ misstep. “Mr. Graham, was it?” he asks, turning to Dr. Lecter’s companion, who is currently looking at his phone. The nerve of this man! He obviously isn’t cut out for high society, and Franklyn is determined to call attention to this fact. “What did you think of the opera? Or perhaps you were too busy scrolling through your messages to pay attention?”
“Will has, unfortunately, been very busy with his work for the FBI recently,” Dr. Lecter interjects, in a sharper tone of voice than Franklyn is used to hearing from his psychiatrist. “Although I lament his habit of taking his work home with him, I know that it would be selfish to take him away from his work and the lives he is saving.”
The woman in the red dress then begins to talk with Will again, asking him questions about dogs, for some reason. Franklyn smiles, thinking that he might be able to get the psychiatrist alone, without Will there to ruin everything. Franklyn opens his mouth, but Dr. Lecter speaks first.
“Now, Franklyn, I must get back to my conversation. Besides, you must leave something for us to discuss next week.”
“But—” Franklyn can’t hide his disappointment. Here he is, finally given a chance to talk with Dr. Lecter in a setting outside therapy, and he’s being upstaged by this dog-loving, whisky-drinking social inferior.
“It was good to see you, Franklyn.” Dr. Lecter smiles at Franklyn before turning back to the other socialites.
As Franklyn walks away, he reflects on his conversation with the good doctor, and considers it a success. After all, Dr. Lecter had been glad to see him. Maybe after a few more “chance” encounters, they will even start to become friends.
I have the other two chapters mostly done, and I'll probably post them later this week
Chapter 2: Hannibal
Hannibal smiles as he looks at Will. His partner is always beautiful, but Hannibal does love seeing him in formalwear, especially if the aforementioned formalwear is custom tailored and hugs his shoulders and waist in a way that makes Hannibal want to drag him out of the opera house and back to his home, social etiquette be damned.
“It’s been too long since he’s properly cooked for us,” Mrs. Komeda is saying to Will. “He used to throw such exquisite dinner parties. You heard me,” She turns suddenly to address Hannibal directly. “Used to.”
“I will again,” Hannibal teases back. “Once inspiration strikes. I cannot force a feast. A feast must present itself.” He smiles faintly at his own joke.
Mrs. Komeda scoffs.
“It’s a dinner party, not a unicorn.”
“But the feast is life. You put the life in your belly and you live.”
“I can’t say I blame her, Hannibal. Even after all the unexpected culinary wonders you’ve introduced me to, your cooking is far too good to be wasted on my unrefined palate.” Will smirks.
There is polite laughter from the surrounding socialites, and Hannibal is about to quip back when Mrs. Komeda’s eyes flick to someone standing behind him.
“I believe that this young man is trying to get your attention.”
Of course, Franklyn just had to come to this performance. His patient’s stalking was irritating enough when it did not interfere with his social life. Hannibal breathes in and out, reminding himself that no matter how annoying they are, he does not kill patients, and he most certainly does not murder people in front of an audience. Unless that audience is Will.
“Hello,” says Hannibal.
“Hi! Nice to see you,” says Franklyn. “This is my friend, Tobias.”
“Good evening,” said Hannibal, and introduces Will, emphasizing the word partner while wrapping his free arm around Will’s waist to drive the point home.
“How do you two know each other?” asks Mrs. Komeda.
“There should remain some mystery to my life outside the opera,” says Hannibal smoothly, deflecting the question with practiced ease.
“Honestly, Hannibal!” scolds Mrs. Komeda. “You cannot keep every element of your life a secret and pretend it is all in the name of mystery. Why, I still have not forgiven you for keeping this simply delightful young man here all to yourself—”
“I’m one of Dr. Lecter’s patients,” Franklyn interrupts. Hannibal’s eyes narrow, and Mrs. Komeda looks taken aback. Will coughs, seeming to find the situation amusing.
“Did you enjoy the performance?” As much as Hannibal would love to end the conversation, preferably by murdering his obsessive patient, it would be rude to summarily dismiss the man in this context.
“Loved it. Every minute,” says Franklyn.
“His eyes kept wandering.” Tobias interjects. Hannibal notices Will looking at the man with a puzzled expression, and resolves to ask him about it later. “More interested in you than what was happening on stage.”
“Tobias likes to joke. I mean, I noticed you in the audience, but I was so enthralled by the performers that I, um…” Franklyn trips over his words, casting around for a change of subject, a distraction from his humiliation. His eyes light on Will. “Mr. Graham, was it? What did you think of the opera? Or perhaps you were too busy scrolling through your messages to pay attention?”
Rude, thinks Hannibal, countering Franklyn immediately by expounding upon Will’s work for the FBI and lamenting how Will’s selflessness takes him away from Hannibal far too often (and thinking privately about how beautifully Will blushes when Hannibal compliments him, no matter how often he does it), all while internally seething about the presumptuousness of his most annoying patient. First interrupting his conversation at the opera, and now insulting Will. While Franklyn has never been shy about angling for dinner invitations from his psychiatrist, he had never been desperate enough to offer himself up as the main course. Hannibal considers. He could always serve Franklyn up as a nice tête de veau. There is something poetic about the idea of making his turophile patient into head cheese.
“Now, Franklyn,” says Hannibal, while Mrs. Komeda resumes speaking with Will. “I must get back to my conversation. Besides, you must leave something for us to discuss next week.”
“It was good to see you, Franklyn.” Hannibal forces one more smile, and then turns his attention back to Will.
Mrs. Komeda might have been right after all, he muses. Perhaps it was time for a dinner party.
Coming to the opera, Will decides, had been a terrible idea. Like any couple, he and Hannibal had their ups and downs (like when he found out that his boyfriend was the Chesapeake Ripper, for example), but this might actually be the last straw. Pulling the wool over the eyes of rich people in fancy clothing might be one of Hannibal’s favorite pastimes, but a half hour of actually having to talk to the people in question and Will was willing to say without a doubt that he prefered the socialites on the dinner table as opposed to sitting at it.
The only saving grace was a woman named Mrs. Komeda, who seemed genuinely kind underneath the gossipy, frou-frou syntax that everyone seemed to speak in, and who had, apparently, been one of Hannibal’s friends since he first came to America. Currently, they were trading stories of Hannibal’s culinary exploits over the years, and it takes most of Will’s effort to stifle his laughter at the doctor’s ridiculous cannibal puns. After Will had recounted the story of Hannibal’s attempt at making pigs in a blanket (skipping over the part where Hannibal had proudly showed off his “pigs” wrapped in literal blankets, which Will had to admit was pretty funny), Mrs. Komeda commenced her scolding of Hannibal for his recent lack of proper dinner parties.
“I will again,” Hannibal promises. “Once inspiration strikes. I cannot force a feast. A feast must present itself.”
Will almost misses Mrs. Komeda’s reply (snarky yet still polite and friendly) because he is schooling his face into an Appropriately Solemn Expression for when one’s partner is discussing cannibalism in polite company. It’s a difficult task, but he manages it and is even able to add a comment about his own “unrefined palate” and “unexpected culinary wonders.”
Everyone’s polite laughter is interrupted by Mrs. Komeda, as yet another over-eager fan of Hannibal’s (there had been quite a few so far) approaches, this one closely followed by a taller man who screams psychopath even more than Hannibal does. (Although Will supposes that to the average person, Hannibal doesn’t scream psychopath at all.) During the introductions, Hannibal addresses the man as Franklyn, and the pieces fall into place. Franklyn, the one who is in love with Hannibal and keeps trying to be friends. The Divination by Cheese guy. The one who keeps stalking Hannibal at the pretentious, overpriced organic grocery store he insists on buying all of his non-people ingredients from.
“How do you two know each other?” she asks.
Hannibal responds without missing a beat. He may have insanely questionable ethics, but he (mostly) respects doctor-patient confidentiality.
“There should remain some mystery to my life outside the opera,” he says.
Mrs. Komeda doesn’t buy this. Will briefly considers rescuing Hannibal by faking an emergency of some sort (pretending to get a text from Jack would probably work), but then decides that he is far too entertained by the proceedings to intervene, and merely smiles politely when the older woman calls him a “delightful young man.” The situation only gets better when Franklyn decided to clear up the misunderstanding himself.
“I’m one of Dr. Lecter’s patients,” he says, and Will had to cough to cover his laugh.
“Did you enjoy the performance?” Hannibal asked, and his voice sounds strained, probably with the effort of keeping it polite and non-murder-y.
“Loved it, every minute.”
“His eyes kept wandering.” Tobias chooses that moment to rejoin the conversation. “More interested in you than what was happening on stage.”
Will stops internally mocking Franklyn’s pining and focuses again on his companion. In a way, Tobias is just as interested in Hannibal as Franklyn is. He can’t know that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper — Hannibal is much too clever for that, and besides, Tobias still has a questioning look in his eyes that convinces Will that he only suspects. He doesn’t know… not yet, anyway. But he sees something in Hannibal that interests him; something that hints at darkness.
Will should probably say something to Hannibal later. Tobias’ interest has the potential to be inconvenient, to say the least.
At that moment, Will actually does get a text from Jack, and he sighs in relief as he checks it, grateful for the distraction. Even if it is a crime scene, it won’t be one of Hannibal’s.
“Mr. Graham, was it?” Franklyn’s voice, now addressing Will directly, cuts through his thoughts. “What did you think of the opera? Or perhaps you were too busy scrolling through your messages to pay attention?”
Will rolls his eyes, then blushes as Hannibal jumps to defend him. Even if the part about “saving lives” is complete bullshit, the obvious love and affection in his partner’s eyes is enough to make him blush every time. He supposes he should feel bad for Franklyn, who, in all likelihood, will probably end up on Hannibal’s dinner table sooner rather than later. He should probably do something about that, if only because one of Hannibal’s patients going missing would be suspicious.
As Hannibal politely yet firmly dismisses Franklyn, Will goes back to talking with Mrs. Komeda, making a note to ask Hannibal for Tobias’ last name. Just in case.
Thanks for reading!