Hannibal has always liked the nighttime; it is the only time of day when he feels as though shattered teacups could come back together. The night is a strange creature: wild, untamed, unpredictable. Time feels malleable within its grasp, as if it could be massaged to reverse and fix that which is otherwise irreparably broken.
Moonlight streams through a gap in the curtains draped over the picture window. Will sits in an armchair, glass of wine perched delicately in his hand, one leg crossed over the other. Hannibal sits adjacent to him. The room is quiet except for the ticking of a clock on the mantel.
Tonight is one of those moments where time and space seem to melt and warp. A moment of malleable time.
Hannibal allows himself to fantasize yet again about timelines where his teacup came back together. One where Will never betrayed him, and they escaped together like he — they — had planned. One where Will never pulled a knife on him in Italy. One where Will never rejected him and led him to spend three years in solitary confinement.
One where he never put a buzzsaw to his beloved’s skull in an irrational attempt to put an end to his dependency on him, once and for all.
But for all of the flexibility of the nighttime, Hannibal has yet to see a teacup reverse. Maybe that is why he sits here, in a situation where he should feel content, thinking instead about what could have been.
He studies the way the moonlight falls across the face of his beloved. Will is gorgeous draped in shadows, his expression impassive and dangerous. Across his left cheek is a long pink scar. On his forehead, there is a fainter one. He looks lost in thought, but Hannibal knows that he is hyperaware of his surroundings and Hannibal’s presence.
He knows they both wish the teacup would come back together.
They both know that it won’t.
Hannibal reaches out tentatively. He reaches until his fingers nearly graze Will’s forehead, and then, when Will doesn’t move away, he brushes a gentle, loving fingertip along the thick white scar above his right eyebrow.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and it’s so truthful it hurts. It aches somewhere deep in his chest that no amount of surgery or murder can fix, heavy with the weight of innumerable words left unsaid. He would rather cut out his own heart and gift it to Will than suffer one more second of this emotional anguish.
Will’s eyes trace from Hannibal’s fingers down his arm to his face. Then he reaches up slowly, brings Hannibal’s hand to his mouth, and presses his lips above his knuckles. Hannibal breathes heavily as Will’s teeth graze his flesh and then cut deeper and deeper, until blood wells up from the wound. Will runs his tongue across it, lapping up the blood, and gives it a soft kiss.
“I know,” he says, dropping Hannibal’s hand. The look on his face is similar to the one that Hannibal has saved in his mind palace forever, the one when they sat in the museum and waxed poetic before Will pulled the knife on him. Will steadies his wine glass and stands, moving away to bask in the moonlight cascading through the window.
Hannibal swallows and brings his hand up to his mouth, pressing his lips where Will’s had been. It’s hard to keep the tears from his eyes.
It is as close to a final apology and forgiveness as the two of them will get. And even though the teacup hasn’t come back together, well...maybe this is enough for them.
Shattered pieces and all.