The book store was quaint. It wasn't the largest that Clarice had seen, nor was it the smallest. It was in the middle. The overall tone of the place was comfort. Shades of greens and browns were the themes for furniture and wall colours. Small, one seated couches dotted the rows between bookshelves. Near to the middle of the building, there was a large, circular run of countertop which served as the checkout line. Off to the left of the checkout was a spiralling staircase that wrapped around a large tree trunk. It led to an upper level that ran balcony-like around the store.
Clarice wanted to buy something for Hannibal as Jo looked for a present for her niece. Clarice wanted to surprise him with a little something. She felt that with all that had happened in the past, with Hannibal being caught up in taking care of her, no one had taken care of Hannibal.
He was well adapted to looking after himself mentally by locking away his emotions. The years he had spent in the basement of Dr. Chilton's facility had forced him to put aside his self-destructive thoughts about Mischa. After the ordeal with Mason Verger and the removal of Hannibal's hand, he had fled and followed Clarice from a distance, finally approaching her with an offer for love and acceptance.
Now that they were together, he had an outlet for his emotions. He could bounce his feelings and thoughts off of Clarice. She had created a theory about it. She thought that because he had someone who could reciprocate his emotions and be affected by them, his control had slipped marginally. Thus, the events of the other night: him being upset about his severed hand and her reaction to his stump. Clarice thought that she had eased his insecurities about the stump a little by touching it for the first time.
On the car ride to the store, Clarice watched prairie landscape flicker by. There were long stretches of plain, flat ground between various parts of the Canadian city they were in, and currently everything was draped in snow. The winter was as harsh as it was rumoured to be in the North; dry and blistering. But when one was inside on a cold day, it was beautiful. The clean snow was crystalline in the sunlight. It sparkled like diamond dust on the sidewalks. Clarice often had to look away. She was unusually affected by snow blindness.
As her thoughts returned to the quaintness of the beauty of Canadian prairie landscape, there really was no other way to describe it; she selected a dark covered Moleskine notebook. It was filled with completely blank pages and was held closed by a black elastic band which was attached to the cover. It was a hardy looking book of good quality. Clarice picked up another one, only it was bigger. The first one was pocket sized and the second one was full journal sized.
Jo had gone up the stairs to check out the kids' selection of books. From what Clarice understood, her niece was turning nine years old. She had warned Jo right off the bat that she didn't know much about children and had no idea what a nine year old girl would want for her birthday. She had vague recollections about what she had liked as a child and could not really make a comparison.
Waiting for Jo to pick something, Clarice wondered briefly what her life would have been like if Hannibal had not re-entered it. She would not be in some prairie town in the middle of an icy Canadian winter, she knew that for certain. It occurred to her that she probably would have been living a lonely but complacent life as an FBI agent. There had been no man in her life before Hannibal's arrival at her house that one night. There was nothing but Ardelia and her career.
She missed Ardelia but she also knew that she was ultimately happier with Hannibal. And now that she had re-established her friendships with Lou and Jo, she had another facet of joy to add to her life.
As a younger woman, the FBI had been good for her. It provided her with room to learn and mature, it was a place for her to cement her morals and decide on what she valued most. It was also a catalyst into the world of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Her phone vibrated in her jeans pocket. It was a text message from Hannibal. Clarice opened it, wondering quietly what he needed.
'Bring Jo over for supper,' the first line of the message read. The second line was written in French, a language Hannibal had been teaching her. 'J'ai tué Lou.'
Clarice translated the phrase slowly. "Oh my God," she gasped softly. Hannibal had killed Lou.
'Why!' She texted back.
'Bring Jo. Come home. I'll explain.'
Clarice closed her eyes. Jo was going to die. If Hannibal had killed Lou, it was for a reason.