A hammer expresses in the intimate, perfect way that only a weapon can. The hammer speaks of things unseen in the banality of abundant matter. For every feast there’s a meal forgotten. And so he does rain it upon them, with the soundless swing of his arm and the sink of the claw end to the eye and the blunt side to the throat; soft parts. Weapons are like wines—there’s a perfect one for every occasion, each redolent and peculiar for the full expression of the moment. Hannibal is nothing if not versatile.
Alana and Margot left him to fight his way from the sty into the heart of the mansion. They needed to find the final piece to spur them to action. Alana’s gaze hadn’t wavered when she’d cut him free but Margot had stood apart from them, apart from the bargain Alana had made for them collectively. Now they’ll have to stay together, Margot’s inheritance dependent on Alana’s womb and Alana’s broken bones held together by Margot’s emptiness.
In the vast arches of this house, things are being born.
There’s a narrow window before he has to dispose of that uncouth henchman, unimportant but for the imprint of teeth against his cheek. He needs to find him first. Although he has been fighting carelessly, with no check on brutality, for escape, now is no time to ramble—he checks rooms quietly, methodically. Finally, he nudges the right door open.
Mason Verger is sedated, staged in the middle of a grand bedroom like one of his many ugly statues. Such flimsy artifice. In the corner there is something that passes for a surgical theater. It’s lit garishly and does the hulking, cooing figure bending over Will no favors. There’s no time for the story that Hannibal wants to tell; all he has is the hammer. Will locks eyes with his shadow the moment before he strikes the first blow.
“Couldn’t damage the face,” Hannibal says, pushing the body over with his foot.
He bends to carefully pull the IV out of Will’s arm. “It’ll take some time to wear off.” He can’t help himself. He touches the bandage across Will’s forehead like a blessing. “You’re safe.” Then he kneels next to the head of the body and, scalpel in hand, wreaks the beauty that has been lacking this evening. It’s tedious work, to peel an even layer of skin from the face. It can’t be too thin or he might cut right through it, but he doesn’t want to dull the scalpel scraping over bone. He decides to leave the eyelids. Too much work.
“In the business, we call it a face-lift,” he explains to Will.
The door swings open behind him. Margot has exchanged her fur coat for tears and a cattle prod. Alana stands behind her. Both of their hands are covered in afterbirth. With the scalpel in his hand he could end this triangulated misery but a covenant is a covenant.
Margot meets him in the middle of the room. “Why?” she asks, handing him the prod. He takes it, and brushes the back of his hand against the side of her face. Alana flinches.
“Cruelty for cruelty’s sake can be...inspired,” he says.
“Inspire me,” she whispers. He wants to smile.
A cattle prod is not an elegant tool. There’s no finesse, no gradient. Contact is contact and voltage is voltage. A knife is subtle in what it imparts about its wielder, but the cattle prod speaks the language of livestock—dull, blunt, two-dimensional.
Mason is utterly still. Hannibal has a lot of experience moving dead weight but it doesn’t get any less strenuous, shifting each uncooperative limb until Mason is bare from the waist down and his legs are spread, shifted and thrown over the arms of his mobile chair. It’s a sad jumble of skin, an utterly average circumcised penis and slack balls.
“There’s nothing so despicably human as a man’s unaroused genitalia,” Hannibal remarks, pulling out the catheter.
“Well, you know where I stand on the issue,” Margot drawls.
He takes a pair of disposable surgical gloves from the stand next to Will’s bed and snaps them on. It feels oddly reassuring, the old routine—even pushing a finger up into Mason to find his prostate.
“Prepping him? What, are you getting soft?” Alana says.
“Wouldn’t want to miss. Have you got a container?”
“Several.” She passes him a vial.
“They’ll have to be temperature controlled.”
“We both went to medical school, Hannibal.”
His name is soft and shocking in her mouth. After he’d stepped over her body he’d never thought to hear it again, but she survived. And here she was again; surviving.
He spreads his fingers, stretching the lax hole wide to accommodate the width of the prod, wedging in one side of the fork and then the other. It holds Mason’s asshole prone and open and red for a second, before it’s swallowed as he pushes it in and up. Then he flicks it on and off a few times in quick succession. They can all hear the instrument, humming inside. Hannibal holds as still as possible. The possibility of Will’s gaze itches, but can’t betray himself. He thinks about the intimacy he is achieving here, binding them all in this secret.
He turns it back on and presses intently. Mason’s balls hitch like sobbing shoulders and, sputtering, give up the ghost, emptying thickly into the vial. Margot takes it and replaces it, storing the vials in a small refrigerated box. Finally they contract into nothing, jumping at electricity’s whim.
Hannibal stands and pulls off the gloves, dropping the prod to hang out of Mason’s ass. “Dispose of all of this appropriately,” he says. “Is that payment enough for my freedom?”
“We all pay our prices sooner rather than later,” Alana says. “And none of us are free.”
He turns to look at Will. “Aren’t we.” Will’s eyes have fluttered shut with exhaustion, face limp with trust. Hannibal accepts the gift and the forgiveness.
“Don’t hurt him,” she says.
Hannibal blinks at her. “I am incapable,” he says. “Surely you know that. All choices from now on are his own.”
“He’s a good man.”
He can’t help a smile. “You still believe in goodness? After all this?”
“Absolutes are for priests and killers,” she replies. “I just remember his dogs.”