He is not prepared for this. He doesn’t know what exactly he is prepared for, mind you- but it’s definitely not this.
He went to the administration office weeks ago, filing for a handyman. Today of all days they informed him that they, finally, organized someone to look at the issue at the end of the day and wouldn’t he be so kind to instruct them?
He is a forgiving man- more or less- and society taught him early on that, as an omega, certain behavior was expected of him, such as always being available for any kind of request. He still has his limits. It’s Friday afternoon. He has been teaching since early morning. He’s ready to officially start the weekend.
He picked up a new stray yesterday, Winston, and he really, really wants to see how he’s doing. Winston seemed to get along with the pack just fine but that was when Will was there to watch over them.
And instead of being on his way home, he must wait for some handyman to show up whenever he damn well pleases.
When he finally hears footsteps approaching, he is not ready to play nice. He already prepared the most time-saving way to go about it (no small talk, show the door, leave them to their work). And then the man enters the room.
He carries himself with a kind of grace one wouldn’t associate with a handyman, though it doesn’t come off as arrogant, on the contrary. He looks soft, toolbox in one hand, the other swinging freely by his side. He’s wearing a flannel shirt over a white t-shirt and it’s a very cuddly combination.
Will went 38 perfectly fine years without meeting someone whose mere presence made his imagination run wild with pictures of mate, white picket fence, kids and he could have gone perfectly fine without ever experiencing it.
It is awful.
Where are the dogs in those fantasies? No, that is wrong, too. He isn’t interested in a mate at all, dogs or no dogs.
His mind is in a limbo, battling between presenting himself in the most dramatic way possible and cowering before the other one, showing his submission. And all that before he even knows the secondary gender of the handyman. Pathetic.
He pushes his glasses up his nose and crosses his arms. “You’re the man for the door?”
It sounds gruffer than intended though the other one doesn’t seem to mind. A cursory glance through the room while he approaches Will and then he’s in front of him, extending his hand in greeting.
“Hannibal Lecter, House Doctors handyman services. I consider myself more as a versatile craftsman than ‘just for doors’, though.”
He smells like old wood and motor oil. Warm. Home. Alpha.
Mr. Lecter pulls his hand away again, probably thinking Will was ignoring it on purpose. He wasn’t but he doesn’t allow himself to mourn the lost opportunity. Time to finally make a good impression.
“Will Graham. I teach here.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Mr. Lecter replies and it makes his stupid omega hormones preen as if he got the alphas’s approval or something.
The seconds tick by where Will stares and no one talks. “The door!” he cries out before he can make a bigger fool of himself. “The door doesn’t close properly. It’s rather annoying. I have to leave it open or it rattles at the slightest breeze but if I leave it open you can hear everything that happens in the corridor and that really disrupts my lectures.” He realizes that he, embarrassingly, rambles and stops abruptly.
Not that Mr. Lecter seems to notice. He turns around, looking at the wide-open door he just came through. “Well, I better get the lady right again, hm?” He winks at Will, so quick Will is sure he imagined it, and gets to work.
Will doesn’t swoon. It just isn’t something he does. But Mr. Lecter’s sure movements are certainly worth it. And he doesn’t work silently, not at all. At first, he explains what exactly is wrong with the door- it was warped- and how he would be fixing it, then he starts to explain every step. It’s a relief because Will wouldn’t have known a single reason to linger after he instructed Mr. Lecter on what had to be done.
“You’re not from here, are you?” Will blurts out, interrupting Mr. Lecter. He didn’t intend to do that, but the thought had been niggling at the back of his mind since Mr. Lecter started his explanations.
Mr. Lecter looks at him, slightly taken aback. “Excuse me?”
Will averts his eyes. “I mean, you talk with an accent. European? Maybe East Europe?” He risks a glimpse and to his relief Mr. Lecter just seems impressed.
“Really? What is it like?”
“I’m afraid I can only tell you how it once was. I haven’t been there in quite some time.”
Will wants to ask why, to know every little thing about this man. He barely refrains from asking, fearing it might come across as invasive.
“I’ve never really been outside the US,” he says instead.
Whatever qualms Will had about asking Mr. Lecter about his life- Mr. Lecter does not have them. At all. What parts of the US did he get to see? Where did he like it best? How long did he work at the Academy? Did he enjoy teaching? Did he ever consider fieldwork? Oh, he was a police officer before? (Will preens at how impressed Mr. Lecter sounds and it is embarrassing.) That must have been quite different than standing in front of a bunch of trainees, wasn’t it?
Will doesn’t like sharing about his life. He avoids it as much as possible. But when it is Mr. Lecter asking all those questions...
Time flies by and all too soon, Mr. Lecter presents the fixed door just as Will got comfortable where he sits on his desk.
“I believe it is time to say goodbye,” Mr. Lecter says, and he sounds regretful. Does this mean he enjoyed their time together as much as Will did?
This time, Will takes Mr. Lecter’s hand, shaking it. It is warm, dry. A bit rough. He should ask for his number, shouldn’t he? When he looks up, he finds Mr. Lecter’s gaze on him. He is smiling. Maybe he wants to ask Will out himself? Is he the type of alpha who likes to take the initiative?
“Well, Mr. Graham, your company has been a pleasure. If anything else needs some fixing, you know whom to call. Have a nice evening.” With those parting words Mr. Lecter releases his hand, turns around and leaves the room.
Will stares after him, hand still extended, long after the steps have faded.
He is an idiot.
Kathy Sasbury is later than usual. She always tries to be at the office at half past eight but today it’s already ten past nine. It’s not her fault, of course. Her coffee machine broke, her cat puked on the rug and traffic was a nightmare. All she wants is a coffee and the solitude of her office. When she sees a man pacing in front of it, she knows she won’t get either.
“You made a mistake,” the man begins as soon as she is near enough. “I told you that it must be...!”
He sounds agitated and she probably would be more sympathetic if her morning hadn’t been so shitty.
But her morning has been total shit, so she ignores him and unlocks her door. He immediately follows her inside, still blabbing how she fucked up- and isn’t it nice to hear about your supposed mistakes first thing in the morning? At least he has enough decency to wait in front of her desk while she puts her jacket and bag away, leaving her enough time to place him.
A few days prior, he stood in the same spot he stands in now, insisting he needed a new projector for his classroom, now, and that it had to be the same handyman from House Doctors handyman services as last time.
It was cute how he tried to assure her that this handyman could do anything. “Very versatile, he said so himself!” His crush was painfully obvious and even though she is no matchmaker, she had to help him, one omega to another. And really, it wasn’t like it’d hurt anybody.
But maybe she was wrong, and the handyman wasn’t as interested as the poor guy had hoped. When her computer is booted up and she opened the correct file, she finally has pity on him.
“Good morning, Mr. Graham. How can I help you this time?”
Mr. Graham mumbles something that could have been a “Morning” before he launches right into his tirade from before.
“I needed a new projector for my classroom and I specifically asked you for the same who fixed the door.”
“Yes, Mr. Graham, I know. That’s why I specifically requested said handyman.”
He frowns. “Well, he didn’t come.”
“That is hardly my fault. Maybe Mr. Chilton had to attend a more urgent matter.”
“No, no. That is wrong.” He frowns harder. “Why would you say Mr. Chilton? I wanted Mr. Lecter.”
She looks at him, really annoyed now. “Why would you want Mr. Something? House Doctors told me they’d send Mr. Chilton to fix the door.”
“Well, Mr. Lecter did.” He looks almost petulant now. Maybe he’ll even stamp his foot.
“You asked for the same guy as last time and I did exactly that, with the information I had on hand. If you know the name, I’d recommend requesting them by name.”
“Fine,” he hisses. He actually hisses like an angry cat. “I’ll remember this for the next time.”
He storms out of the room, before she can say anything else on the matter. Her computer pings with an incoming mail. She reads “Sick leave cover” as the subject and closes her eyes in defeat.
Coffee first, everything else later.
“I heard you were unsatisfied with Mr. Chilton’s services.”
The words startle Will out of his observation of the alpha kneeling in front of him. (He sits on his desk again. Hopefully, Mr. Lecter won’t find it too informal.)
“I- well, he was... rude. And in the end not very helpful.”
Mr. Lecter smirks. At least Will imagines it, but he has no way of proving it that wouldn’t mean taking his eyes off the very fascinating back of Hannibal.
He blushes at his own forwardness in calling Mr. Lecter by his first name, if only in mind. He can’t really dwell on it because Mr. Lecter does something with the floorboards that ends with part of the floor unhinged and his back muscles playing in a very enticing way.
Will never thought he’d be one of those omegas who fawn over the big strong alpha fixing everything but well, here he is, fawning over the big strong alpha fixing everything. And he cannot even resent it since it’s so satisfying to watch the alpha work.
“He must have had a bad day, then. I know Mr. Chilton to be very service-oriented.”
‘Not as bad as my day,’ Will wants to say. ‘Because I expected you and got him instead.’ He doesn’t of course, that would be inappropriate.
“Oh, I’m sure. Too bad he couldn’t do anything. Makes teaching harder until they buy a new projector. Who knows when that’ll be.”
Mr. Lecter looks at him over his shoulder and Will shrugs. Nothing he can do about it; it’s still annoying.
“It could be that I have a spare projector at home. I could exchange it until they get a new one.”
Will looks at him, eyes wide. “Really? What would you get out of it?”
Mr. Lecter grins. “Well, I’d have to insist that you keep me company, of course.”
“And I’d have to endure.” Will leans back and grins too. “Of course.”
Will sits on the porch of his house, watching his dogs roaming the garden. Only Winston is keeping him company, leaning heavily against him. He is glad that Winston took so well to him and the pack. That leaves his mind open for thoughts on Mr. Lecter.
He still hasn’t been by with the projector and it has been nearly two weeks by now. He is of course not obligated to come but then, he was the one who offered it in the first place.
“I’ll give him another week and if he hasn’t come around by then, I’ll leave it be. How does that sound, hm?”
Winston’s tail makes a thumping noise when he starts to wag it.
“Good idea? Yeah?” Will laughs and scratches him behind his ears. “I’ll do you one better: if he really shows up again, I’ll get a move on. Can’t have him thinking I’m not interested now, can I?”
Winston just keeps panting, perfectly content, and Will keeps scratching him and then Buster comes running, trying to climb Will’s leg, begging for attention, and Will has to postpone the planning of the courting of one Hannibal Lecter.
Mr. Graham was adorably flustered when he came to install the projector and it was nearly enough to make up for the three weeks he didn’t see him. Regrettably, the delivery of the projector took longer than anticipated and he than had to find a free evening of his where Mr. Graham would be there. Ms. Sasbury, the one to always request specifically him, was ever so helpful to coordinate it with him.
Mr. Graham thanked him profusely while he took the old projector down and then asked him what exactly he was doing when he installed the new one. It was a delight, having Mr. Graham be comfortable with asking Hannibal questions. Sadly, he was in a bit of a hurry, telling Hannibal that he had an appointment at the vet.
“Not for me, of course,” he laughed, flustered. “For my dog. Yeah.”
Thankfully, Mr. Graham doesn’t let him wait too long for their next meeting. He gets called in just a week later for “something minor”, as Ms. Sasbury called it.
He is greeted by the delightful sight of Mr. Graham, sitting behind his desk, and a cup of coffee. Mr. Graham looks especially good today though Hannibal can’t tell why.
“Mr. Lecter! How nice to see you again.” Mr. Graham stands up to shake his hand. “I hope you like coffee? It’s only from the machine down the hall but better than nothing, I guess.” He smiles and it’s endearing, really, so he takes the coffee. It tastes as atrocious as he thought but that’s alright as long as he can spend some time in Mr. Graham’s company.
The job really is something minor, some screws that need to be tightened, and he is done way too fast. But Mr. Graham holds him back when he turns to leave. Mr. Graham, Will, looks at him, cheeks flushed, clearly nervous. It’s happening. It’s finally happening. He’ll end this chicken dance, ask for his number and the next time they’ll see each other neither of them will be at work.
“As a thank you,” Will mumbles, presenting him a box of pralines. Hannibal looks at it, uncomprehending. “For the projector,” Will explains, smiling shyly.
It’s work to smile back. The sentiment is certainly sweet but has no chance against his expectations.
“Thank you, Mr. Graham. How thoughtful of you.”
He leaves with a box of chocolates and unfulfilled hopes.
He gets another call from the Academy a week later and when he enters the classroom the next day, Mr. Graham has a coffee from the cafeteria for him, along with a plate of cookies. But then Mr. Graham lets him go again without any hint of being interested in further contact. Hasn’t he proven his worth enough by now? Maybe Mr. Graham misread his interest though he finds that hard to believe- his mind is too sharp to have missed something that obvious.
Of course, there is the possibility that an omega with Mr. Graham’s personality and skills is not unmated by chance but by choice. Which would be a shame since he never met an omega as fascinating as Will Graham.
It’s irritating. Every other job, every other person is dull compared to Mr. Graham and work has never been as much of a core as it is now. It comes as a relief when Ms. Sasbury calls him again and asks for his attendance during the next week. He tried to be courteous, tried to prove himself to the omega, tried to be patient and wait for his initiative. This time he wouldn’t leave with any open questions.
“That’d be it, huh,” Will notes with an air of nonchalance- all for show- as Mr. Lecter packs up his equipment. It’s been a tense hour where Mr. Lecter worked on the door handle (it had been broken off by someone who was not Will). Mr. Lecter didn’t seem to be in the mood for a conversation. After a few attempts, Will didn’t try again and with every minute spent in silence he lost more of his confidence to see things through.
“Excuse me?” If possible, Mr. Lecter seems to tense up more, where he is hunched over his toolbox.
Will grimaces. “Oh I- just... Everything in this room is in perfect working condition.”
He huffs a laugh. “For now, yes. So...”
Mr. Lecter turns around. It’s the first time today that he really looks at Will.
“I guess... There’s no need for us to meet again.”
Mr. Lecter blinks. “That is true, yes.”
“But then, it is not as if one needs a reason to meet up. One can always just... meet because one treasures the company of the other.”
“True again.” Mr. Lecter does this thing where he’s almost smiling but not quite. Will is itching to coax it into a real one.
Screw it. He has nothing to lose. Cocking his head, smirk in place, he goes all in.
“Fancy a drink?”
A whole week passes where Mr. Graham doesn’t request a handyman, followed by a second and a third week. When the Friday of the fourth week passes without Mr. Graham demanding to hire competent handyman Mr. Lecter for yet another poor excuse, she starts to get worried.
Did Mr. Graham try to make a move and got rejected? Or did he just get over his crush?
She’s driving from the parking lot when she sees him on the sidewalk, all bright smiles, next to a tall man trying the handyman-look, complete with a belt full of tools. She smiles to herself.
And maybe everything worked out just like Mr. Graham wanted.