It’s dark by the time that Will makes it back up to the lighthouse, though he knows that Hannibal will have watched him approach through the windows above, and Will is so eager to share the good news that he rushes up the stairs.
Hannibal is waiting for him at the top of the lighthouse, eager to touch and hold and speak, even after so short a separation, and as Hannibal pulls him into his arms Will tells him breathlessly, “The babies are here.”
He says this softly, despite his excitement, because he sees that the boys are sleeping in their crib.
Hannibal releases Will and takes a step backwards so he has room to sign, and Will sees that Hannibal is unsurprised but pleased. “Did he give them names?” he asks.
“I think he’s still working on that,” Will says.
And then, breathless now with amazement and not a little bit of fear, he says, “Hannibal, they’re so little ! How could they have just gone out into the world on their own?”
“Nearly everyone does,” Hannibal says, but thoughtfully, without the old carelessness with which he originally assumed that the boys’ would leave them. “Every common shark, every skate and stingray, and almost all the little fishes begin life that way. Every little crawling thing and the octopuses and sea snakes and the turtles. Even birds that guard their eggs from harm and keep them warm force the fledglings out of the nest before very long.”
Will looks back at the twins, sleeping so peacefully in their bed, curled against one another. “The world’s a cruel place,” he says softly.
“Of course,” Hannibal agrees, “but not you - you’re stronger than the world’s cruelty.”
That startles Will.
Then he wants to argue - to tell Hannibal all the reasons why he’s got it wrong.
Instead, Will lets Hannibal say his piece.
“There is so much good in you,” Hannibal tells him, “and you make goodness and mercy and bring it into the world.
“For the children, and D, and even the dog,” he continues. “For me.”
And, as he lets Hannibal draw him into his arms, for once in his life Will really believes that.