Hannibal made the use of endearments look natural, almost easy.
My darling boy. Dearest. Mylimasis. Love. Cunning boy. Gorgeous creature. Precious boy. Darling. Mongoose. Beloved. Mano Meile.
Fuck, even when he called Will by his name it sounded like an endearment. The way his voice tilted at the consonants, the low purring, the velvet heat of his voice. Will, my darling Will.
It could have been adorable for Will if it wasn't so damn infuriating that he couldn't do the same.
Hannibal called him all types of sweet names that never failed to make his cheeks flush, and Will... Well, Will called Hannibal 'Hannibal.'
It was silly, really. It wasn't something they needed and Hannibal didn't seem to mind the lack of endearments from Will. He had spent the whole five years prior of relationship with Will calling him 'Dr. Lecter'. So, being called by his name was a huge upgrade.
And anyway, what do you call a man like Hannibal Lecter?
'Sweetheart' was too juvenile. And Will was sure that Hannibal would cut Will's tongue and make him eat it before he allowed Will to call him 'baby'.
Hannibal managed to call Will 'darling', 'dear' and 'dearest' and make it sound natural and loving. In Will's mouth it sounded foreign and forced.
It was complicated, to say something. Hannibal was too elegant, too masculine and imposing; in contrast to Will, with his thin frame, bright puppy eyes and morning messy and bouncing curls. Hannibal had described him as 'Pretty' once.
"The prettiest." He had said.
Will grinned still in bed, lifting a brow in mocking question, "The prettiest what? Boy? Man? Thing? Teacup?" he teased.
"Just the prettiest." Hannibal answered, dragging Will's hand to his lips and kissing softly every knuckle. Eyes sparking with the morning sun, looking at him utterly besotted as every time his eyes rested on Will.
How could you top that?
Will had no idea what to call him. But he wanted to return the affection.
So, he decided to look for the perfect endearment.
It started with Will trying to pull 'darling'.
"Darling, do you want more wine?" Will said to his reflection on the bathroom mirror, "Darling, what do you prefer, lungs or liver? Darlin', the dog pucked all over the carpet again. I told you not to give Panna Cotta to Encephalitis. Darlin', is that my favourite flannel shirt the one that you're setting on fire?"
With every new attempt the word started to lose its meaning; and the more he tried to pronounce it, the more his southern accent appeared.
Hannibal made 'darling' sound like as he had come out of a children's book about princes with swords and white horses. Will made another attempt and groaned, feeling like he butchered the word.
Still, he tried.
"Will, dear, have you seen my blue sweater?" Hannibal said entering the bedroom, it was now or never.
"Yes darlin', third drawer on the right."
Hannibal stopped in his tracks, still as statue. During the time the silence estretched Will could only fidget with his fingers.
"I'm," Will began, trying to advert looking at Hannibal in the eyes, "I'm trying to find a suitable petname for you. If you don't like it I can drop it off."
"No, in fact," Hannibal said as he recovered his chain of thoughts. When Will looked up, Hannibal was positively beaming, "I look forward to hear more."
Will grinned, "I'm going to find the perfect one."
"I know you will."
Will's second attempt wasn't totally a disaster.
He breathed in, and out, and in and out, before sitting at Hannibal's side on the couch.
"Hello gorgeous," Will said and cringed as soon as the word left his lips. Definitely no. It was something that you could hear on a Friday night inside of an overcrowded bar with trashy pop music. It was nowhere close to how sweet Hannibal's names for Will were.
Hannibal didn't seem to mind. He looked more amused than anything. He greeted Will with a peek on the cheek before answering with a smile and his own "Hello beautiful."
Third, Will tried with something sweeter.
He discovered that Hanni and Honey could sound very similar if he accented it enough.
And, damn it, there was no way Will would pass up on the opportunity to waltz into the house and say,
"Honey, I'm home!"
and hear Hannibal's laugh from the kitchen.
It was nice. The kind of nice that makes you giggle and leaves you breathless. With every new petname the next one was easier, and Will discovered his new favourite past time: Tease Hannibal Lecter with the most cheesy and/or ridiculous petnames imaginable.
Will would say things like "What are you reading, baby?" and Hannibal would lace his fingers into Will's hair and tug playfully while explaining how he would cook Will's tongue.
Will would say "looking good babe" and slap playfully Hannibal's ass on the hallway, just to get grabbed by the waist and laugh into a kiss while pinned against the wall.
At night, while Hannibal nuzzled at his throat and Hannibal's cold feet played with his ones at the end of the bed, Will would say things like "Oh, does my cannibae want to cuddle?" just to find himself shoved out of the bed and laughing histerically on the floor until Hannibal admitted that he did, in fact, want to cuddle.
Around the mark of two months looking for a suitable endearment Will decided to have some more fun. Giving the thought of how much Hannibal called him 'boy' he tried a new one.
Will practiced on the bathroom mirror, weighting the word in his tongue until he could say it without laughing or getting his ears blossoming pink.
"What's for breakfast, daddy?" he said nonchalantly, sitting on the kitchen counter next to where Hannibal was cooking scrambled eggs.
Hannibal straigthened before speaking.
"I'm sorry Will, what did you just say?"
Hannibal's face, that one had only three expressions (1, Curiosity. 2, The "You're dinner" expression every time they encountered someone rude. 3, The 'smitten cannibal' expression everytime he looked on Will's direction.) was suddenly showing a new one: confussion. In matter of seconds Will lost all the courage and turned five shades darker of red.
"I-I said, uh, wh-what's for breakfast, daddy?"
"Sorry mylimasis, could you..." Hannibal stopped, tilting his head to the side with eyes closed, "One more time darling, please, if you don't mind."
Will lifted a brow, trying to read his dorky cannibal, "What's for breakfast," a pause, and Will teased, "daddy?"
And with that Hannibal turned off the stove, pinned him against the counter until he stole all the air from Will's lungs. And only when Will's lips were as red as his cheeks and adorably swollen Hannibal dragged him to their bedroom.
"Hannibal the breakfast!" Will laughed as Hannibal threw him on top of their bed making him bounce.
"Forget the damn breakfast."
'Daddy' was used frequently in the bedroom after that. But Will still needed something he could call Hannibal outside the confines of their abode. (Well, to be fair, he did call Hannibal "Daddy" in public. Sometimes, to mess with people. Sometimes, just to mess with Hannibal. And other times, when he just wanted something. Hannibal didn't stand a chance against those soft pouty lips, bright puppy eyes, and the word "Daddy.") But, that was Will's secret weapon and if he used it too much, Hannibal would soon catch on and learn to resist it. So, he kept looking for more pet-names.
His favourite so far was 'Cher' with his New Orleans accent pronouncing it like 'Sher'. It also seemed to be Hannibal's favourite too, always granting him a warm smile and a kiss.
Or it was Will's favourite until he did try to use it in public.
The french endearment seemed fitting for the opera night. 'Cher' was sober enough to fit Hannibal's self and not too refined to be uncomfortable in Will's tongue. It seemed dignified and sweet enoug to fit between flutes of champagne and Hannibal's acquaintances.
Hannibal looked at Will curled at his side as enamoured as always, and so much more when Will spoke,
"Do you want me to bring you something to drink, cher?"
At their side, Hannibal's acquaintance snorted.
"Is there something wrong, Samantha?"
Samantha, a woman with round face and long black hair pursed his lips behind her champagne flute.
"I'm sorry it's just..." but then she snorted again, "That accent Patrick, dear, where did you learn French?"
Patrick Kore, Will's alias --
"Oh my god Hannibal, really? Patrick? You're unbelievable. Please tell me yours isn't something stupid like..."
"If you excuse me I'm going for a walk. Hopefully I will find a cliff near the house from where I can push you again."
-- hadn't lived in the U.S. But Will was so taken aback from the rudeness of this woman that he didn't even tried to recall his fake backstory.
"New Orleans." he answered and Samantha had the guts to snort, again.
"It's something wrong Mrs. Segovia?" Uh-oh, Hannibal changed 'Samantha' for 'Mrs. Segovia' and had that 'You're dinner' expression on his face.
"I'm sorry Aquiles, is that well, one would think that the partner of someone like you would at least try to learn some proper french instead of..." and there it was, the wrinkles on her nose as if she was smelling rotten fruit, eyeing Will as he didn't deserve being called Hannibal's partner, "that."
"There is nothing improper about Cajun, Mrs. Segovia. And I think that Patrick's accent is rather charming." He said sweetly to Will, before turning his head to Samantha with a stern gaze, "and I think that how my partner calls me is none of your business."
Luckily for her, she had the decency to look mildly ashamed.
"My apologies Aquiles, it's only that I didn't thought that you would find charming something so ordinary."
Will wanted to say something but Hannibal spoke first.
"Samantha, have you ever considered to shut the fuck up?"
Will's brows ricocheted to the sky and his jaw drop to the floor. Did Hannibal Lecter say the word 'fuck'? Samantha gasped and nearly dropped her flute of champagne along with Will's jaw.
"Was that ordinary enough for you Samantha? Now, if you excuse us," Hannibal asked before he turned to Will and winked, holding Will's chin to help him close his mouth. "Now baby, let's get to the parking lot so I can blow your fucking brains out and suck your lovely cock."
Will followed Hannibal (more like Hannibal dragged Will away) outside the Opera House and only snapped back to reality when they were walking down the stairs and Hannibal said, "Vitel tonne."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Vitel tonne is a dish of Piedmontese origin. It is served today as an appetizer, although it was originally a unique dish." Hannibal began to explain but Will shook his head, stopping him holding a hand on the air, trying to recover his line of thought before Hannibal keep explaining how he was going to cook Mrs. Segovia.
"You did that," Will said completely mesmerized "I can't believe you said that."
"She was being rude to you darling, and I couldn't kill her in front of so many witnesses."
"You said 'fuck' Hannibal. I wasn't aware you could speak the language of us, mere mortals. I thought you made some kind of deal with the devil and the price to pay was that you would only be capable of speaking in metaphors."
Hannibal huffed, and looked up, the closest thing to roll his eyes that Hannibal Lecter would do. "I did not such thing, darling, and I'm very capable of cursing. Now, shall we go home?"
"Oh no, no, no, no. You stop right there. We are going to the parking lot because cher, after that, I think you deserve... How did you say? Oh, yes, getting your lovely dick sucked up until I blow your fucking brains out. What do you think?"
Hannibal buried one of his hands in Will's hair pulling him in a hungry kiss. The other grabbed Will's ass with strong fingers and sharp nails.
Will laughed breaking the kiss, "And Hannibal, if you want to call me baby again, and curse, I'm totally in."
Hannibal gave him a toothy grin before pushing Will against the wall.
Will was still looking for more endearments when it finally clicked. And of fucking course, the idea would come to him four weeks later when Hannibal was soaked in blood and elbows deep in Samantha Segovia's ribcage.
"Mongoose, would you be so kind to pass me the cooler?"
This man that broke open a ribcage with his own hands was the same that caressed reverently Will's back every night until he fell asleep.
This dangerous creature soaked in blood who made art out of death, considered Will his equal. This beast with teeth that could tear skin and monstruos hunger looked at Will as if he hold all the answers of the universe inside his blue eyes.
This monster, in all his glory, loved him.
Will stepped towards his monster.
This monster was his.
His monster, his killer. Hannibal smiled at him as if nothing else mattered in the whole world when Will was close.
"Yes, my dear?"
I want to marry you.
Will grabbed Hannibal by the cheeks, pulling him into a hungry kiss.
"I love you." Will breathed out, eyes closed and shaking. Hannibal pressed Will against his chest, holding him in a thight hug between strongs arms.
"And I love you too, mylimasis." He said showering Will's hair with little kisses. "Now my love, go and fetch me the cooler while I finish putting the cherries on Samantha's mouth, please." He teased making Will laugh.
"Yes, honey." He answered, turned around and stopped, just to turn again towards Hannibal.
Hannibal looked at the younger man opening his mouth, waiting, with fond amusment. Will made a needy noise mockingly making Hannibal sigh fondly.
He selected one of the shiniest cherries and feed it to Will directly in the mouth.
Will ate it closing his lips around Hannibal's fingers, "Merci, cher."
"Go get me the cooler, you wicked creature."
"You know baby, I think I finally found the perfect petname." Will said.
Outside the house the snow fell mercilessly.
Will looked up, resting his chin on Hannibal's chest to look at the other in the eyes. Dark brown glowed with red under the firelight of their living room.
"Aren't you gonna ask me what hideous new name I thought for you?"
"I have faith that nothing can be worse than the time you decided to call me 'Hannibunny'."
"That was a good one."
Hannibal only made a non-commited noise. The room was warm with flames and both of them snuggling in the sofa under heavy blankets. The study was a bubble of intimacy in the middle of the dark night, both of them illuminated only by the fire.
"Tell me Will, which horrendous new name have you thought of?"
Will smiled and sat over Hannibal's lap to nibble more comfortably at his monster's throat.
"Hannibal..." he whispered and Hannibal hummed pleased as he bared his neck, giving Will more space to kiss. "Hannibal, my darling, my love," Will continued teasing, tracing soft kisses, biting gently at the jaw, "Il mio il mostro" Will whispered at Hannibal's ear and the man under him let out a shaken breath.
Will continued his trail of kisses, jaw, cheeks, a peek on the nose. A languid kiss on the mouth as he ate another of Hannibal's moans. "My Ripper" he said grinning, lips brushing lips, and Hannibal could feel his spine melt like lava.
"Will..." he moaned.
"Shhh darling, I was thinking," He said placing another wet kiss behind Hannibal's ear. "I want to call you my Ripper, but I shouldn't do that in public. So, Hannibal," Will said pushing his lips against his lover's, another moan lost in his throat. Carefully Will pulled out a ring from his pocket and hold it for Hannibal to see, letting it rest on top his monster's heartbeat.
"How do you feel about 'my husband'?"
It took Hannibal a moment to come out from his stupor and seconds later they were on the floor, tangled between legs, arms, blankets and kisses.
When Hannibal finally let go Will's mouth after hours, Will broke the Guinness World Record of how many times a person can say "My husband" in one hour.