She enjoys one of the city's most prominent sights from the confines of their hotel room. It is a perk her partner won for her - the room with a view of La Pedrera roof.
Staying in the same residential square of buildings, across the Gaudies' sinuous creation, she observes slim black silhouettes of tourists roaming between the mind-boggling shapes. They took the last chance of the day to admire the famous architecture, designed miraculously without one straight line. Towering against the sunset painted sky, the alien warrior-like terracotta chimineas bask in their cameras' attention.
From the corner of her eye, she spots a flying shirt. Like a white dove, it smoothly twirls in the air a few times then lands weightlessly in a graceless heap on the top of a stone terrace floor.
What caught her attention first, were little blinding specks coming from the east-side building of their courtyard. The fire reflections of the evening sun; they died the moment snow-white fabric hit the ground.
Her lips stretched into an amused smile. They must be shiny, extravagant buttons after all, belonging to some equally extravagant inhabitant from those vast floor-through flats on her left.
A single bark resonates around the square yard, and she tilts her head up toward the sound, curious, hoping to have a glimpse of the city's inner life. A small, long-haired Papillon sprints out and tries to stick her tiny head between iron-wrought posts, eyeing the same object of interest as the man following the dog.
This last week, she wondered who might live in these flamboyant modernist apartments, tasteful rooms behind the ceiling-tall windows, the stylish balconies with rich ornamental balustrades. She imagined intellectuals of all kinds – writers, professors, lawyers, and amongst them, esteemed architects… and fickle politicians perhaps, even…
…even prolific serial killers. She gasps at the unthinkable possibility of having encountered the man for the third time.
Her eyes swing to Hannibal's face, who casts a longing, mournful stare to the rumpled shirt. It tipped within seconds into frustrated disbelief. The expression was almost comical, and she would feel sympathetic if it wasn't him, a malicious instigator, who concocted the attempt for her murder and stole her husband. Even though the... stealing aspect has been in question, respective to the individual point of view, and definitely not in her favour according to public opinion on Tattle Crime.
Yes, she has done her homework this time. She summoned her courage and delved into the diabolic archives of Freddie Lounds, to start her research with the obnoxious journalist's help, undeniably funded with acumen for their story. Molly must give her credit for the foresight.
Like with a swish of magic wand administered by Hannibal Lecter, her bitterness is back (she is furiously aware of his power to bring the worst feelings out of her, and with that … tempting bravery, foolishness… But she lost her opportunity, mulling over appalling and futile things because Hannibal, meanwhile, had ushered the dog inside and rushed to close all the open windows and balcony doors. Strange.
Now, it is her turn to give a longing and unhappy look - at her cell, considering the utter impossibility of her intent with its lenses broken and camera gone for good.
She narrows her eyes through the large glass encasements. The dusk still hasn't blanketed the outer world around, yet their rooms are already alight; maybe, hypothetically, she would be able to snap a picture of him inside with Bruce's professional camera.
Her focus is on his static figure as Hannibal lingers somewhat lost in the middle of the living room, seemingly wedged in some unsolvable internal dilemma. He is still fixed to the spot when Will appears in the doorway. He is towelling his hair, while promptly tripping over the Papillon and catching himself against the frame as he tries to enter, and she forgets about taking pictures all at once. She rather throws aside the whole bold idea. She won't flaunt her half-naked ex, in clingy ink-blue pyjama pants that barely held to his hips, in front of the FBI or Interpol.
Like her, Will seems to be genuinely amused at the aloof and poised man's uncertain, nervy state, although his momentary incomprehension is laced by surprise after Hannibal answered his question. That much she can decipher, more from their postures than from their countenance, over the half span of a large courtyard.
Without a second thought, she slips on her spectacles because, just now, she has witnessed something she believes nobody has ever survived - Hannibal Lecter being reprimanded. Scolded even, and instead of fighting back, he meekly yields; his shoulders hunch anxiously, his head slightly bent. She smirks to herself; there is no doubt who between them holds the reins.
But, an awkward sense of foreboding brews inside her, as Will continues his quest for a motive behind his man's response, with more and more frowning. His face is so animated, a whole kaleidoscope of emotions. He goes from rather fascinated, stealing disbelieving glances at their dog, that eagerly championed Hannibal, to timidly joking when he questions him, to growing alert. They walk to the window where, puzzled and on the verge of missing something, he stares dubiously down, at the object incriminated, while Hannibal stares beside him. Then, after a moment of speculation, comprehension alights Will's face.
It was like watching a silent mystery film. If only she had subtitles to it.
If only she knew what Will is shouting when he retreats past the dining table in a frenzy and stops at a sideboard, tense and breathless, where there is nowhere further to run.
Why is he so mad? Because of his fancy shirt? A silly accident?
She considers the possibility of it being a wedding shirt, but he never seemed too invested in ceremonial outfits; any clean shirt and jeans would be sufficient. In this respect, she doesn't know him, and it's unsettling her, this version of Will in an unbridled anger and bitter disbelief, as opposed to the man she once had met; disarmingly awkward, forlorn and in need of touch ( not hers though , said a disturbing voice). If only she'd known at that time.
Hannibal follows but stops short, reflected in the wall-full mirror above the sideboard. He gazes straight at Will, absorbs the accusations while Will fires another question, his hand flicking toward the dog. His cool excuses and explanations aren’t apparently convincing enough, so he implores armistice instead. Abandoning his composure, he shifts to the edge of urgent, even desperate, but this does not help because... in a heartbeat, a flammable situation hanging in the air combusts.
It is a million light-years away from the easy, mellow friendship and loving atmosphere in that restaurant, only the depth of feelings exposed remains. And it coalesces into dread - Hannibal tries to advance, takes a step towards Will, but Will staggers back, anguished, almost panicked.
At the sight of his tortured, haunted face, the old caring flame she still held for her once vulnerable, damaged man swells inside her, and she reaches for her cell.
Somewhere under the extensive list of her friends and essential people, useful people and those unpleasant-must-haves, on the bottom of all contacts, is ‘Jack Crawford’.
But looking back up again seconds later, she is unsure who to save, because Hannibal seems the same as Will - shattered.
As if bereft of all hope, his exquisite poised expression in the mirror crumpled down like the exquisite shirt on the stones. His lips clamp into a painfully tense line… Is he going to cry? Or is this just an effect of his velvety dark eyes?
No, this cannot be about the garment piece, and she is afraid to venture further into obscure, wild assumptions - where her imagination is not adequate. She doesn’t indulge in menacing games.
Her thumb stops, fingers waver and loosen their grip on the phone, and she continues to watch them, captivated as Hannibal pleads without words to Will.
In an atmosphere volatile and thrumming with energy, ready to ignite again, she did not expect their next movements. Their hands reached for each other before even their feet moved, and she jumped, panicked, half-expecting violence when they met halfway across the room… into a crushing hug.
Hannibal holds Will like he is the most precious thing in the world. After a brief moment, Will stirs to reciprocate. He lifts his arms and mimics Hannibal’s clutch across his shoulders, even cradles the back of his head. She searches for flickers of expressions across Hannibal’s face as he speaks into Will’s ear, but it does not seem that he’s trying to placate him. His profound fearlessness is absent; he looks hunted, not the hunter. Yet it is Will who seeks comfort on Hannibal’s shoulder. Despite the little visual differences in their heights and muscular builds, Will fits perfectly against his man, with a familiarity of an ever welcomed and protected child (How many levels does their relationship have?)
She feels disoriented. She has misjudged the entire situation. She has thought about calling Jack twice, and twice she stopped. What was she doing here?
Will exudes contentment, more than resignation; his whole body is receptive to Hannibal’s. They linger entwined in each others’ hold, and she reflects on how overwhelmed and safe Hannibal makes Will feel at the same time.
Their emotions synchronize; the reins swap hands between them, and who holds them at the moment, holds them well.
There is nothing possessive about the embrace; they are just sharing devotion and closeness. Hannibal ducks his face to lightly skim his lips against the top of Will’s curls. His mouth might have been moving, murmuring soothing words into them.
There is nothing overly romantic, nor aesthetic about the scene either; both of them are dishevelled, half-dressed, and with the dog roaming around their bare feet, they are a long stretch from groomed eye candies in the restaurant. Having the two in a full view through the balcony doors… she cannot tear her eyes from them. Their stance is deeply familiar.
Eventually, Will comes to charge, and places a hand on either side of Hannibal’s sculpted face, subjugates him under the weight of his reproaching gaze, and the picture in her head shatters.
They talk, more like the two sane people would. They even banter, and Hannibal delivers his final defendant speech, which Will answers by dragging down his unresisting head and aligning their mouths. She frantically looks for a spot to refocus on when the matter becomes whose tongue ends up in whose mouth first.
To no avail.
As they part briefly with lips from afar like crimson blotches, scratched raw and swollen, and the word spelled in blasting red over Will's face is love, a genuine relief breaks across the serial killer's face. He curls a hand into Will's wet strands and draws him in for another round.
At the sight, a delayed embarrassment flashes up and down Molly's body, and she quickly lowers her eyes to their feet.
They manoeuvre together, without breaking apart, towards the back of the room. There, Hannibal reaches for a light switch and the darkness engulfs them, leaving her with the image of their feet tipping in sync toward the wall.
Her brain continues to fidget with the image, with the words tipping and hovering. She recalls the FBI forensic report from the ocean-side house. She remembers the aerial picture of the crime scene: blood, blood, blood everywhere. And footprints. In ashes, in the dirt, in sand… Each paragraph punctuated by a detailed image of their footwork on the ground.
Based on the evidence, the report said, the men struggled against each other, fighting, until Will wrestled Hannibal off the cliff and himself was dragged down. Their last set of footprints - against each other with their toes almost touching, were on one side wedged deeper into the sand... when they tipped over…
...alike a moment ago in their living room. Will and Hannibal in a familial hug, for affection's sake. One of a hundred times.
Consumed by an agitation, she mentally rushes back on the cliff's edge, with her new-found realization to re-enact events of that night.
With both men gore-stained and battered in the comfort of each other's arms, there was a little force needed to tip them over the edge, maybe no force at all,… just Hannibal's consent. And... down they went into the expanse of deadly black water. In the hope of what?
Weakness overtook her body, and she felt a sudden, inexplicable pain within her chest. Her hand shoots frantically against the window frame for support.
They didn't mean to survive; they just wanted to be together, to spend eternity together. Precisely, in that instant, at the cliff's edge, they didn't want to live one without another. But fate decided otherwise.
No, she shakes her head at the thought - at herself - she cannot possibly be sympathetic towards them; she is simply overwhelmed.
A small frown forms between her eyebrows as she regards her phone again. Something new is growing inside her, not outright defiance, but close enough, and righteous anger, revising - rethinking who actually she is about to call. To report.
Jack, disgraced and suspended boss of the Behavioural Science. Jack, who withheld the information from her and fed her a sanitised and twisted version instead. Who either branded her as weak and in need of emotional protection or simply manipulated her feelings, steered them the direction where his sole prerogative was catching Hannibal and catching Will.
On her account, she would help him back to his chair at the FBI, only for Will to take it all away again, because - and Molly knows, she just gathered that much today - Will cannot let go; he won't. Hannibal is his to love, to hate, to kill, to let live or punish. They own each other.
They don't fear death - even the mighty ocean didn't take them. Is she mightier than that?
The door from the bathroom squeaks open, and a waft of humidity, scented with Bruce's aftershave, reminds her of reality.
"Honey, are you ready? We can go."
Molly blinked. She'd almost forgotten; they have a table booked at a beach-side restaurant for their last dinner, their romantic goodbye to Barcelona.
He is pulling on a crispy-new shirt, white, nothing fancy, no shiny buttons to stand out, and it suits him.
When he notices her scrutiny, he winks at her, wiggles like a peacock, and sends her a carefree grin; all cheek and charm, playfully teasing aiming for more attractive. His sassiness has the right effect on her and prompts her to laugh out loud. He does that a lot; make her laugh.
In fact, she is ready; she clicks the home button at the bottom of Jack's contact screen and turns off her cell.
"Excuse me! Madam!"
The receptionist calls out the moment Molly passes by. She is the kind, auburn-haired girl they bought a box of chocolate for the other day.
Celia, says the tag attached to her elegant black and white blouse, is all apologetic smiles, "You are Ms. Foster, right?"
"Yes…?" she nods slowly.
"We have a package for you, I apologize we didn't give it to you when it arrived because your name on its packing slip was wrong. But I remember you, switching the rooms," the girl, beams at her, "and you are the only Molly with the American home address in the hotel, so I guessed it would be yours."
Her first reaction is to glance quizzically at Bruce, suspecting a romantic surprise (God forbid another ring!), but he shakes his head while the girl continues to vigorously explain.
"See-" Celia pulls a little book-size parcel at the top of the glassy counter, "-it says, Molly F. Graham."
The shock is so profound that she is seized by sudden disorientation. She briefly closes her eyes to focus, when she staggers against the reception.
"When…when did it arrive?" She forces out, fighting to maintain control of herself. To speak is such a chore, as if a vile spell had constricted her throat.
"Yesterday morning-" the girl pauses startled by the change in her, but she doesn't understand, a poor thing... Molly's sudden anguish.
It's pointless to waste time denying or disputing, even if she has no clear idea of how it could have happened—the consequence of her foolish intentions.
"I wasn't expecting anything," she offers, trying to soften the situation under the weight of their confused looks. Even Bruce had flinched at her reproachful tone.
"Please sign here," Celia is giving her a pen now, somewhat unsure, careful, pointing at the customer sign off form, "I'm truly sorry, the name misled us-"
"How did he look?" she interrupted.
"Who? The delivery boy?"
Of course, it would have been sent by a courier, none of them would deliver it personally—such a naive assumption.
In a daze of nervous expectation, she hastily takes the package to the lobby couch and takes to disassembling the wrapping with an anxious urge, like a hapless little girl who needs to find out what the devil hid inside it. It could be anything - a reminder, a threat, or the announcement of the end to their delicate treaty-
Her hands are shaking. Layer after layer, plastic, paper, a little cardboard box …
It's a new phone —the latest model of her broken one.
She releases a long shuddering breath and continues frantically tearing at the wrapping, taking apart every piece of the bundle, only to find nothing. There is no note, no signature, no evidence that would answer the nagging question of who has sent her the warning.
Which one of them?