“Hey, Hannibal, I’m taking Linus for a walk—”
Will stopped abruptly in his tracks, Linus bumbling into the backs of his legs, both of them pausing in the doorway to Hannibal’s study. With stark shock etched on his face, Will stared at Hannibal Lecter, who placidly gazed back at him, a pair of reading glasses perched on his nose.
“Will?” he prodded, his mild tone at odds with the soft smirk on his lips. “Is something wrong?”
“No, just—” Will cocked his head, unable to hide his surprise. “You got glasses.”
“I did,” Hannibal said, touching the wire frames with a gentle finger.
Will shoved his hands into his pockets and moved close enough to get a better look at the glasses in question. The delicate wire frames gleamed against Hannibal’s tanned skin and stray strands of his fine hair, longer now and almost entirely silver. His amber eyes flicked over Will’s face, seeing him clearly, bright and mischievous and wreathed in laugh lines Will loved, having been the cause of so many.
“You’re staring, Will.”
“Sorry,” Will said, huffing a soft laugh, struck by the sight of his husband wearing glasses. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
“Do you recall several nights ago informing me that I needed a pair of readers?”
A small sound escaped Will at the word, one he failed to stifle.
“Am I amusing you, Will?” The temperature dropped significantly with that question.
“No,” Will said, grinning. “That wasn’t a laugh, Hannibal, trust me. Second to never expecting to see you wearing glasses comes you using the word ‘readers’. It’s... cute.”
“Yeah,” Will said, knowing Hannibal couldn’t resist him for long.
“What was decidedly not cute was being told by my drunken, melancholic husband that I’m ‘blind as a bat’ and need to get my ‘prissy ass’ to the optometrist and do something about it before I ruin another meal.”
Will winced, ducking his head but not breaking eye contact. How could he, when Hannibal was so majestically irate? He seemed a scholarly longshoreman, sitting in his comfy chair drenched in sunlight, snuggled in a thick cable knit sweater with his tousled hair falling around his face.
“For some reason you also tried convincing me I’m not god.”
“Did I manage to persuade you?” Will teased, taking the seat opposite him in the warm sunlight.
“I’m not certain why you attempted to,” Hannibal said, laying his book aside to stroke Linus when the portly dog flopped against his bare foot. “And I fail to see why my needing glasses had anything to do with my contested status as a deity.”
A smile spread over Will’s lips, unstoppable as the years that had passed them by. Deciding to spare, and perhaps mollify, his husband, he watched Hannibal pet their dog and fondly murmured, “You know, once upon a time, I argued with myself in the heart of the Norman Chapel that you weren’t god.”
Hannibal’s gaze drew back to his slowly, uncertain.
“All the years we’ve been together, all the places we’ve been, I’ve started to doubt my certainty on that count,” Will softly said, blue eyes bright with amusement. “I’ve watched you insert yourself seamlessly into every place we’ve gone and become indispensable to the people around you, a mercurial trickster god whose appetite for the best life has to offer doesn’t stop with actually consuming it.”
Hannibal straightened in his chair, absently pushing his glasses up his perfect nose.
“It’s like they all had a Hannibal-shaped hole in their lives that could only be filled by your presence,” Will said, and sighed, gazing at his husband’s beloved face. “If that’s not godlike, I don’t know what is.”
“Was there such in your life, Will?” Hannibal asked, the words a throaty murmur, his amber eyes hooded.
“What do you think?” Will retorted, his favorite response when Hannibal was fishing. He laughed at the clear consternation written on Hannibal’s face and said, “When I start thinking you’re a god, Hannibal, you go and do something completely human like sneeze, or forget where you put your keys, or scold the oven, or even—heaven forbid and spare us mere mortals a smiting—need a pair of reading glasses.”
Hannibal’s sculpted mouth quirked in a half-repressed smile. His amber eyes glittered brightly behind his pristine lenses, filled with mischief and something Will could only classify as orneriness. It coaxed a soft chuckle from Will, who easily admitted, “But the most human thing you’ve ever done was fall in love with me, Hannibal. So whenever I start thinking you’re a god, I just remind myself of that... though apparently the argument with myself gets somewhat heated when I’ve had a few too many.”
“Gallons, you mean?” Hannibal asked.
“Are we smiting now?” Will countered, brows shooting up and chin tipping down.
Hannibal responded with a familiar, sharp-toothed grin that woke lines around his mouth and nose. Age had changed them both, but it had granted Hannibal a delicacy, a vulnerability only enhanced by those glasses and it bit Will’s heart with sharp, ruthless teeth. The vain and capricious god of his world succumbing to the rigors of age was Will’s own special purgatory, one far greater than succumbing to age himself.
“I can’t believe you got glasses and didn’t tell me,” Will said, striving to keep the waver from his voice. He leaned forward and grasped Hannibal’s hand, clinging to the man before him as he had on the cliff where there lives had ended and begun all at once.
“I wanted to surprise you,” Hannibal purred, fully aware of the effect he had on his husband.
“You did,” Will murmured, grasping Hannibal’s whiskered chin to tip his head to the light. “I thought your pride would be the undoing of you.”
“Only you will ever be the undoing of me,” Hannibal said without hesitation. “Even my vanity must bow before the demands of practicality, Will. The years have passed in the blink of an eye, and with each moment you grow more radiant. I merely wish to admire the view.”
The soft awe in those words soothed the tightness in Will’s chest, chasing away the sadness which always lingered when he considered what lay ahead of them and how their lives were yet to change.
“That aside,” Hannibal whispered, sensing he stood poised between passion and melancholy, “I look quite handsome in glasses.”
“I’d noticed,” Will said, both of them pleased by the admission.
“I can read to you again in the evenings,” Hannibal murmured, pressing against Will’s hand, delighted by his overtures even still. “And try that recipe Mrs. Alvarez recommended.”
When Will remained silent, Hannibal questioned, “Will? What is it?”
“Nothing,” Will said, tugging Hannibal’s glasses off and laying them carefully aside so he could brush a kiss over his parted lips. “I’m just admiring the view.”