Will had expected a certain level of extravagance when he agreed to allow Hannibal to court him, but things had gone from “sweet” to “ridiculous” in three weeks flat. Hannibal’s first show of courting had been to pull several dozen strings to get Will into the best Omega care facility in Baltimore, so that he could undergo a proper detoxification from the hormone suppressants he had been on. Said detox had revealed that his brain was horrifically swollen from blocker-induced encephalitis and Hannibal had somehow managed to have Will’s treatments for that done at the care center, rather than forcing him to spend a few weeks in a hospital. Will wondered when he would be invited to the opening of the new Hannibal Lecter library wing at Johns-Hopkins.
Hannibal had brought Will dinner every single night while he was there. He appreciated the fact that the Alpha had waited until after he had gotten better to start courting him in earnest. Oh sure, there had been little things; a selection of silk pajamas, cashmere loungewear, a rare book chronicling the lines of every Westminster Kennel Club recognized dog breed, and a marvelously fluffy robe among them. At first the Omega had been overwhelmed, but that was before he realized that Hannibal hadn’t even started yet.
Will rode home, three weeks later, in a lovely Mercedes CL65 he had never seen before. Hannibal was practically glowing with pride over it. “I can’t believe you got rid of your Bentley. You loved that car.”
“I did no such thing. My Bentley is at home, safe in my garage.”
“Why would anyone need two cars?” Will queried. Hannibal looked quietly, politely, ready to burst with excitement.
“Why indeed,” Will echoed.
“I never did like your car, Dearest,” Hannibal purred. “Old, unreliable, unsafe. Not at all fitting for you.”
“I’ll probably be replacing it in a few years,” Will grumbled.
“Oh it will be replaced much sooner than that. I paid a man to tow it off of a bridge,” And Hannibal really had, though Will would think he was kidding. “The Mercedes is for you. It only arrived yesterday and I thought you would like getting to see in on your ride home. Now isn’t this much better than that old beater?”
Will gaped at Hannibal for a solid twenty minutes. The Alpha’s smug expression was enough to reveal that, no, he wasn’t kidding. He had gotten Will a Mercedes. The Omega took in the car’s interior features and couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed it before; this was clearly the Omega Edition. The seat cushions were memory foam, appealing to an Omega’s need to be cradled, heated since they got cold easily, and made of a soft fabric instead of the leather that was traditional for Alphas. It was also made in slightly smaller dimensions, had more storage space, and had more internal lighting (such as along the doors). Omega Edition cars also had the absolute top of the line crash safety systems, since the designation with the weakest bones often didn’t fare well in collisions. “Oh Hannibal, I can’t accept this.”
The Alpha sounded like he had expected the protest when he replied. “You agreed to let me court you as I see fit.”
“You bought me a car Hannibal! A normal courting gift is a scarf or a book or a CD or basically anything that isn’t a car!”
Hannibal sniffed. “I got you all of those too. Several, in fact.”
“What? Hannibal, no. Just no. I cannot accept all of this. Thank you, but no.”
“I can’t take the car back, Will. Custom orders are final sale. What am I supposed to do with an Omega Edition car that I had custom made for you?”
“Are you trying to guilt me into taking the car?” Will asked incredulously.
“Of course not,” Hannibal replied. “That would be the basest of psychological tricks.” He switched back to his original tactic nonetheless. “You agreed that I could do this my way, Dearest. This is my way. Also, I don’t like your cell phone.”
Will took the bait. “I have a perfectly good cell phone.”
“Well you certainly do now.”
The Alpha appeared to be holding back laughter. “Allow me to amend our deal, Will. If, at the end of our year, you do not choose me as your mate, you can give back the car.”
“I’ll give back all of it.”
“What am I supposed to do with clothing that has been tailor made to your measurements?” He caught Will’s further gaping look and added with a smug smile, “We’ll have to unpack your trunk when we get back to your house.”
The Omega realized that arguing was futile at that point. Besides, part of him wanted to be able to sit back and enjoy this. One matter tickled at his mind, however. “How did you get my measurements?”
“I have a very discreet tailor.”
The pair arrived at Will’s little farmhouse around 6:30 that evening. The yard had been trimmed and the flower beds weeded in Will’s absence. When he opened the door, he found seven well cared for dogs, courtesy of Hannibal. He was amazed that the doctor had a full time pet care service even though he had no pets. His pack greeted him enthusiastically as Hannibal put the Mercedes’ keys into the keybox by the front door –which Will hadn’t had when he left for the Fights.
There was also dinner waiting for them, courtesy of Hannibal. The man may have been an absolute control freak about his food, but he had realized that Will would be too hungry to wait for him to cook a proper meal, so he had hired one of the chefs he worked with to cater his dinner parties. He immediately began bustling around the kitchen, plating the succulent chicken (yes, real chicken, from an actual bird) and eggplant. Will tiredly sat down at his little table and played with his dogs until Hannibal brought him his food. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
“You are very welcome.” Hannibal sat opposite the Omega with his own plate and waited until the other man took a bite before beginning his own dinner.
Once Will had swallowed a few bites, he spoke again. “I mean thank you for more than just this. The car, the books, the clothes, getting me into that care facility…. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and I know that’s how I come off. It’s just completely overwhelming.” The Omega part of Will’s brain –fully awake now since the detox- wanted to see how far he could push Hannibal, though the reasonable part of his mind remembered being poor and didn’t like all the fuss. He reached out slowly across the table and took Hannibal’s hand in his, trying to convey his gratitude. “Thank you, Hannibal.”
The Alpha smiled, a small but genuine thing, and squeezed Will’s hand. “You are welcome, Dearest. And I’m sorry for overwhelming you. I have never done this before and the urge to… flaunt is rather strong. It is in my nature to want to impress my chosen one, and I can acknowledge that perhaps I ought to go slower. In that vein, I will not bring in the things in the trunk. I will try not to overwhelm you anymore.”
Will smiled and the two finished their dinner in a companionable silence, as Will was too tired to really string together any sort of deep conversation. Healing was taking a toll. After the dishes had been cleared and cleaned, Will invited Hannibal over to relax on his bed. Perhaps most courting pairs wouldn’t lay together in bed after only three weeks, but Will and Hannibal had already had sex. Besides, Will wanted to snuggle. He had been deprived of physical contact for entirely too long and with Hannibal he felt safe.
He reflected on the irony of that as Hannibal spooned in behind him. He knew, beyond even the shadow of a doubt, that Hannibal was a murderer. He had seen it in his Alpha’s eyes when they were finally open to him. He knew. So why had he not gone to Jack with his suspicions? Why had he agreed to allow Hannibal to court him? By all logic he should have run the other way in the arena, but instead he had run right into Hannibal’s bed. There was no part of him that didn’t want to be in his Alpha’s bed again.
Will knew that he was absolutely safe from Hannibal, and that that safety came from his love. As long as Hannibal loved him, he would never hurt his Omega. And a man like Hannibal Lecter didn’t stop loving lightly. Even so, that was not enough reason for them to mate. Will knew that he wouldn’t end up agreeing in the end. Hannibal wouldn’t kill him just for refusing; he wasn’t that kind of Alpha. However reluctantly, however much it hurt him –and Will knew it would hurt Hannibal terribly; the Alpha would let him go. It was a shame, then, to accept all of the courting gifts and the gestures. He knew that he would never want an Alpha, so taking them was wrong.
So then, Will decided, no matter how much he liked them, no matter how special they made him feel, he couldn’t take them. He shouldn’t lead Hannibal on. Cursing his sudden attack of conscience, he pulled away from the Alpha and sat up. “Are you planning to stay here tonight? It’s a long drive back to Baltimore.”
Hannibal also sat up. “Of course, I would not wish to impose. I’m afraid I’m going to have to drive the Mercedes back, however. I can have it delivered to you tomorrow.”
“Do whatever you want with it, it’s your car,” Will mumbled.
“No Will, it’s your car.” Hannibal sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose; Will was giving him a headache. “We have had this discussion already. It was quite recently, in fact.”
“I know that. I just….” Will trailed off. He had no idea how to articulate what he was feeling in a way that wouldn’t crush Hannibal.
“Say it, Will.”
“I don’t want an Alpha, Hannibal.”
“I see.” Will looked at Hannibal closely and saw the flash of hurt cross his face. “Does that mean that, whatever I do, you will refuse to even consider suit?”
“Yes and no.”
“But mostly yes. Are you really completely unwilling to give me a chance, Will?” The Alpha didn’t bother hiding his disappointment and hurt now; he wore them plainly for the Omega to see. Will was not unaffected, but Hannibal continued before he could think of the right way to say things. “Answer me that honestly, De- Will.” Will flinched when he cut off the term of endearment. “If you say yes, I will stop trying. I will not attempt to insert myself where I am not wanted. I will let you be for the year and set you free at the end of it.
“I just don’t know how this is supposed to work!” Will exclaimed. “I don’t want an Alpha. It isn’t anything personal against you, not at all. If I did want an Alpha, I’m pretty sure I might choose you. I just don’t want to be mated. I don’t think my mind can be changed at this point and I don’t want you to waste all of this time, and effort, and money trying if, in the end, I could never give you a chance. I don’t want to lead you along. I- you are my best friend, Hannibal. I don’t want to hurt you like that.”
“I appreciate that, Will, I truly do,” Hannibal smoothed an errant curl away from Will’s forehead and the Omega leaned into the motion, so he shifted his hand downward to cradle the man’s face. “That is why I need you to tell me right now if I am wasting my time. Just give me a simple yes or no: Is there any chance, however remote, that I can prove myself to you and become your Alpha?”
“I don’t know! I can’t tell you that, I just don’t know!”
“If the answer were no, you would know it for sure,” Hannibal murmured softly.
Will hesitated for a moment at that. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Just let me try, Dearest,” The Omega melted into Hannibal’s touch, inching closer until his knees were pressed into the side of his Alpha’s leg, leaning against his chest and into his embrace. “If there is any chance at all, no matter how slight, I promise you I will not feel that any of this is a waste. Let that ease your conscience, which I feel may be part of the problem.” He maneuvered Will onto his lap and held him tightly. “While normally I would find this to be abysmal advice, I will give it to you now: do not worry about the future consequences. Allow yourself to enjoy being courted. If it causes you anxiety, it cannot work. All I ask, Dearest, is that you not utterly close yourself off to the possibility of us having a future together.”
Will nodded and burrowed into his Alpha’s arms, pressing against him to make him lay back on the bed. Hannibal pulled the blankets up over them and reached over to turn off the lights. Clearly he was meant to stay the night. Will whispered into his chest “That may be all I can promise you.”
“That is enough.”