Archive for the Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction Category

The Cell

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , , on March 12, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

By Running With the Deer

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Summary:      Jack Crawford finds a videotape from the past.

Timeline:        This vignette would occur just after Chapter 11 of HANNIBAL.

Rating:           PG-13

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Jack Crawford invited Starling in and shut the office door.  Her stomach stirred uneasily as she found a chair; her Section Chief usually kept the door open when they spoke.

On his desk she saw the report she had submitted, detailing her foray into the abandoned State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, her encounter with Sammie, and her failure to recover the file on Hannibal Lecter.

Crawford half-sat on the edge of his desk, holding a small box; Starling recognized it as a videotape.

His face was solemn, his voice unnervingly gentle.

“Starling, when I read that every patient’s file—except Lecter’s—was still in the facility, it got me wondering what else may have been left behind, so I went in with a crew over the weekend.”  He tapped the videotape box against his knee.  “We found this under the dropped ceiling in Chilton’s office.  Aside from proving that your earlier impressions of Chilton fell short of the facts—the guy was off the scale and way more than a little dangerous—it also…”  he trailed off, suddenly at a loss to continue.  He looked toward the window and took a breath.  “Starling, while you were helping us on the Jame Gumb case, you spent some time with Lecter, in his cell, according to this tape.   Continue reading

Capture and Rescue

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , on March 12, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

DianaLecter

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Summary:         Dr. Lecter & Clarice Starling are captured by the FBI.

Timeline:           After Hannibal.

Rating:              R

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Sometime in the dead of night, as they were nestled securely in the comforts of their temporary cottage in Athens, as part of a marvelous tour of Greece, the sirens alerted them to the aspect of being discovered.   Later, in the state of being confined, Dr. Lecter learned it was a result of matching fingerprints from the note Clarice Starling sent Ardelia Mapp with a careless brush of another found off a museum brochure.  This indicated that someone had originally picked up their scent and had been following.  However, the culprit was never identified, and the Bureau refused to acknowledge such an accusation.

Now, here again, lying on a cot while staring incessantly at the ceiling, motionless and without feeling behind his eyes, Dr. Lecter reflected their last minutes as though watching himself through another person’s eyes.  Starling had been most difficult to persuade, and he doubted she was satisfied with his decision.  Later, he knew, she would see it was truly for the best.  The modern world would never welcome her back if they thought she had willingly attached herself to his arm and approved of all the horrors of his creation that they snickered at with a false sense of astonishment.

There were conditions, however.  Dr. Lecter wouldn’t let them take him back without conditions.  He also wouldn’t let them have her.  Sneaky, yes, but her reaction to this made it all the more convincing that she had been with him as a result of either highly affective drugs, or simply as his captive.  While Dr. Lecter knew this behavior was subconscious and in truth meaning something quite opposite of the way the public was diagnosing it, he was pleased that it was to her benefit.

Now, refusing to speak to anyone, or even acknowledge his own petty existence for what it was worth, Dr. Lecter lay motionless, staring at the same spot on the ceiling, chasing his own regrets away, as it was useless to reflect on what was and what is and feel sorrow.  The simple knowledge that his time with Starling was over and he might very well never see her in person again was enough to break his control, without much provocation.  With more ease than he would’ve expected, Dr. Lecter refused to let his mind travel there, and remained in the recoils of his own memory palace.

However, he did once allow himself to imagine what she was feeling, and it likewise nearly made him lose control.  The media was lapping this up like a man in a desert whom hadn’t seen water in weeks.  During the course of modern procedures, Dr. Lecter managed to acquire a copy of the National Tattler. The story made him writhe in irrepressible anger, reading the possibility that Starling had sold herself in the manners of a prostitute to catch him, of which he saw through and kept her pinned up for his own petty desires.  He didn’t expect much from them, in truth, but the comical jests, addressing her actions as a new form of prostitution, among other things, infuriated him.

The minutes before capture, he tried to persuade her to jump out the window and save herself the humiliation this would cost her.  Determined as always, Starling refused.  When force was about to occur on his part, Starling surprised them both by snapping a pair of forgotten handcuffs on their wrists, linking them together.  Distraught both with fear for her as well as admiration, Dr. Lecter was left with little choice.  He drew out a blade; as he always had one near and handy, and drew it into his own skin, deep enough to smart but not enough so to cause much damage.  Taking his own blood, he painted her hair and hands and face with it, her struggle making it look all the more convincing.  There were tears in her eyes; that also contributed to his plans.  Though he read the true intent of the tears, he doubted anyone else would.  In a calm, controlled manner, he said:

“Clarice…get on your knees.  Now.”

Abiding perhaps by a sixth sense that could do nothing but obey his voice, Starling lowered herself to the ground, tears pouring openly down her face as she made no attempt to swipe them away with her blood-stained hands.  Smiling despite his own controlled grievance, Dr. Lecter ran his free hand, still clutching the blade, across her face, taking his blood and her tears with it.  “Brave now, little Starling.  We must be brave.”  Then, with fluent ease, he allowed his hand to rotate so the blade rested snugly yet not at all threateningly at her jugular vein.

“Fear not, little Starling.  As all dreams are destined to, ours has come to an end.  Thank you for allowing me the pleasure of sparing you the nightmare.”

It was then that the authorities entered, all armed, shouting orders at the top of their lungs.  Dr. Lecter, calm still, raised his voice to a degree above a whisper and was instantly heard above all others.

“Gentlemen, if I might so kindly emphasize; take one more step, and her blood is on your hands.”

Everyone stopped and considered.

“Now, here is my offer.”  Dr. Lecter smiled pleasantly, though his eyes were cold and he felt compelled to go directly to the point.  “Reassure me that no harm will be brought to myself and that Ms. Starling will receive suitable quarters upon arrival in America, and I promise not to spill her blood.”

Officers, being petty and ignorant, failed to recognize his admiration for Starling that suggested that he would never harm her, and agreed.  Routinely dropping the blade, Dr. Lecter tugged on the cuffs to symbolize his wanting her to stand, and the gash in his side was revealed.

The story itself, masterfully crafted, was woven out later.  Dr. Lecter confided that he had taken her, quite against her will, after the episode at the Muskrat Farm.  From thence, she had been a prisoner, and though he did not come out and say it, he did imply some matters on fulfilling his desires.  He went on to say that she most likely planted the fingerprint that betrayed them to the authorities in hopes of squirming away.  The cut in his side was explained that at the moment of their arrival, she was attempting to end him and didn’t get very far.

Starling was not reached for comment by the media.  The story was gobbled up with all its false nutrition, and no one dared challenge its accountability. In a secluded session with Agent Mapp, Dr. Lecter assured her that the note she received was provoked and forced out of Starling’s concern, and he made sure no distaste for their current living arrangement was revealed.

As he had done so, so long ago when the bars separated them, Dr. Lecter had taken Starling’s hand and muttered, “Goodbye, Clarice,” as they were separated.

Now, Dr. Lecter reflected, was the time to do as he had most commonly done in the days of the dungeon.  Sit back, relax, and let life pass you by.  He had souvenirs this time, memoirs of a good few years and time that was so precious now.  Dr. Lecter had always known it couldn’t last, and was surprised yet far from satisfied with the time that fate had purchased.

His new quarters were temporary, located in Washington DC.  They resembled the Baltimore Asylum slightly, in that they were underground and at the end of another row of cells.  However, he was his own company here.  The other cells stood vacant as the last two occupants were transferred to their permanent residences.  This displeased Dr. Lecter.  No Miggs or Sammy to toy with.  Oh, the small pleasures of life were taken away, even those that you found in the oddest of places.

The tools previously used to make the best out of a bad situation were not available at his convenience.  There was nothing to do here but wait.

*          *            *

The evening news flashed on the screen, but Starling couldn’t bring herself to watch it.  Mapp, on the other hand, ate it all up, convinced that her former roommate’s distress was the product of her horrific experience with Dr. Lecter.  At one point, she called Starling in, claiming they had a statement from the doctor himself.

“…this footage, released by the FBI, can only hint at the events that occurred in the four years of their disappearance.”  The video changed, and Dr. Lecter was visible.  It wasn’t a very good picture, rather a black and white blur.  However, Starling could see clearly that he was annoying the interrogators. His posture was perfect, and though she couldn’t see it, she knew his eyes were distant.  Then softly, in a low voice that she knew all too well, he said, ‘Be very sure you tell Ms. Starling how much she was appreciated.  She needs to know that I had a lot of fun.’  The tone itself was teasing, but then Dr. Lecter looked directly at the camera, something most likely meant to be concealed, and winked.

The media couldn’t make anything out of it other than the desired effect that he had savaged her body continuously over the years.  When Starling saw it, she burst into tears and raced into her room.  Mapp came into support her, reassuring her that she was safe now and that he couldn’t hurt her anymore.

Starling’s response to that was only to cry harder.  Again, Mapp made the assumption that it was a result of pained memories of a time spent in the worst hell imaginable.  She was only half right; it was a result of memories, though far from pained.  The same qualification applied for the sobs at night and the screams that awoke her as Starling came out of a nightmare or some other phantom of the night.

When Starling was alone, she would curse at the top of her lungs, occasionally beat at old pillows.  Childhood methods said to vent anger and frustration, all in vain as only one thing could ever make it better.

Two weeks after the dream came to an end, Mapp approached Starling, rather hesitantly, with news that she thought would make it all better.  Dr. Noble Pilcher, a one time fling, wanted to visit, perhaps help her heal old scars.  Starling refused almost immediately and screamed at Mapp for suggesting it. That caught her former roommate off guard, and Starling made the reluctant decision to cover it with an acceptance.

Dr. Pilcher would visit the next day.  Starling lay in bed most of the day, having taken the phone off the hook to avoid the press, thinking in never-ending sorrow how fast it all had ended.  They knew it wouldn’t last forever, but their time together was brief, so abruptly ended.  She supposed the true knowledge that he would never again hold her had not yet seeped in, nor had the idea of his lips never being on her’s again, that the last touch they shared was two weeks dead.  That he would most likely be put to death for his infamous crimes.  That she was the only being in the world who did not see him as a monster, and yet even that aspect had to remain hidden or else all his sacrifices to save her would be in vain.

How did I get here? She must have asked herself that question a thousand times, never satisfied with the answer.  I brought myself here.

The fleeting thought entered and exited her mind at least a million times a day, that thought drifting on her last known connections in the Bureau.  She was a waste of an officer, she knew, but was there any last chance that she could…could…

That thought was impossible.  There was no way known to mankind that she could get Dr. Lecter out.

Knowing if she focused on this for long that she would sink into a deep depression, Starling forced her thoughts to Dr. Pilcher.  He had been funny, charming, yet did nothing for her.  Absolutely nothing.  She supposed that should bother her, but it didn’t.  It only made her resent him more for reasons even she could not rationalize.

It wasn’t until she opened the door and saw his wide, imploring, hungry eyes that she knew exactly what she had to do.  Forcing a receptive smile, Starling turned as if to insinuate a welcoming.  Nearly stumbling over himself, Dr. Pilcher entered and withdrew his coat presumptuously.

“Thank you for coming by, Dr. Pilcher,” Starling said in her most convincing voice.  Over the years with Dr. Lecter, she had nearly mastered a tone for every mood it is possible to experience.

He seemed discouraged by something, and made it vocal as soon as possible.  “Dr. Pilcher?  Clarice…we’ve known each other forever, and it’s not like you haven’t ever called me Noble.”

Starling hated him instantly, for the look in his eyes clearly read ‘screamed’ as opposed to ‘called.’  So sorry, N-O-B-L-E.  Won’t make that mistake again, N-O-B-L-E.  Can I get you some coffee, N-O-B-L-E?  Oh you cheap prick…

“I have changed, Dr. Pilcher,” she said, masterfully maintaining a controlled tone.  “I doubt anything can change me back.”

“Anything, Clarice?”

Oh, how she hated the sound of her name on his tongue.  Her fists clinched into tight balls and her nails dug deep enough in her flesh to draw blood.  As each second ticked by, the more she was convinced to be rid of him.  However, despite her utter distaste, the sound of her name made her ache.  Over the past few years, the only one she conversed with was now drawn to confinement.

The plan started when she opened the door began to progress in her mind.  Act now, or kiss happiness goodbye.  Yes or no, Clarice?  Yes or no? Wouldn’t you risk it?  You know he’d risk it.  Yes or no?

The answer, of course, was yes.  Performing a subconscious maneuver that mimicked Dr. Lecter’s, Starling found herself hovering beside a small coffee table, standing and offering her false smile to Dr. Pilcher, something he bought with flying colors.

I forget how easy it is to dupe the ignorant.

That voice in her head sounded so much like Dr. Lecter’s that it caused her to bite her lower lip to chase away a scream.  Nevertheless, she maintained composure.

Okay, Clarice, okay.  So you’re here.  You’re here now.  What next?  Get him out of the room, that’s seems obvious enough.

“Dr. Pilcher,” she said politely.  “I believe Ardelia brewed some coffee.  Please; go help yourself.”

His eyes left her’s as though physically dragged and traveled in the general direction of the kitchen.  After a few minutes of thought, he looked back to her, wearing that dopey smile again.

“Okay, Clarice.  Under one condition.”

Oh you snobbish little son of a bitch.  “Yes?”

“Call me Noble.”

Her eyes flashed once in anger; if he caught it, he hid it well.  Convinced that he wouldn’t be able to hide anything, Starling felt secure that the breech had gone by unnoticed.

“Okay.  N-O-B-L-E.”  She smiled at herself as well as his face as she emphasized the name.  “Please…go help yourself.”

The impression of his face would remain with her until she died, as well as the emotion she felt, her eyes exploring him.  Did he suspect?  No.  He simply thought it odd, but he was dismissing it as the common behavior of someone who had ENDURED what she endured.

As soon as he was out of sight, Starling dove for the coffee table drawer and pulled it open.  As she suspected, Mapp’s backup firearm sat there, waiting for her.  She congratulated herself on knowing Mapp well enough to look there.  Good ole’ reliable roommates…what would you do without them? Mapp’s insistence on putting her backup there had caused a fight here or there in the past, Starling finding her paranoia (Mapp of course denied it as paranoia and carefully placed herself under the classification of ‘prepared’) ridiculous.

“Thank you, Ardelia,” she said, perhaps too loud as there was a rustle from the kitchen.  Quickly, she took the gun and pointed at the door, catching a taste of pleasure at Dr. Pilcher’s astounded face.

“Clarice-?”

“Don’t you even FUCKING ‘Clarice’ me!”  Starling shouted, startled at the strength and integrity behind her voice.  “You must understand, Dr…I’m sorry…N-O-B-L-E, that a girl gets desperate when all other options are taken away.  Now, if you would so kindly oblige my instruction, I’ll do you the favor in not shooting you.”

A hint of that country twang she spent years trying to drown out crept back into her voice.

Timidly, Dr. Pilcher nodded.

“All right.  Now.  In the closet behind you, you’ll find a large trench coat and a cowboy hat.”  A memory skipped then.  Mapp’s date with a sex offender that left them with a trench coat at their convenience, and then the cowboy hat, a joke after a trip to a bar with a distinct Western motif in which the bartender hit on Starling relentlessly and failed to take the hint.

Another reason to thank Mapp later.

After he was in the proper attire, Starling jerked her head in one swift motion for the door.  “If you will.  And, N-O-B-L-E…I warn you.  Scream and I’ll shoot you dead.”

Once they were out in the open, Starling pressed herself to his side, the gun-hand slipping under his arm and well out of the public eye.  She kept a careful eye on him as he slid into the passenger seat of her Mustang.  Sitting herself promptly behind the steering wheel, she wedged the gun under one leg as she started the ignition.

Somehow, Dr. Pilcher found it within himself to speak.  “Clarice?” He ignored the warning glare the sound of her first name produced.  “Where are we going?”

At last, she had an authentic reason to smile.  “Nowhere of your interest, I assure you.  I’m going to see…an old friend.”

*            *            *

The look she received, standing before the desk of the hospital administrator, was indeed priceless.

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m here to see Dr. Lecter,” Starling replied, her voice nice and shaky, full of delightful false uncertainty.

“Ms. Starling?  If you don’t mind my asking…why?”

Starling’s eyes fell to the ground, her grip tightening on Dr. Pilcher’s arm, as well as the impression of the .45 at his side.  “Closure.  I need to…get it behind me.”

The administrator nodded understandingly, her eyes then traveling to her companion.  “And his story?”

“This is my fiancé.  I couldn’t bear to come down here by myself.”

“And his…colorful attire?”  Clearly, this snobbish woman wasn’t bought.

At that, Starling jabbed the gun further into his side.  Okay, N-O-B-L-E.  Spill it.

With that, the rehearsed statement created in the car flew effortlessly from his lips.  “I…I have to conceal myself.  I’m afraid that it might upset Dr. Lecter to see me…with Clarice.  But I also couldn’t allow her to come here alone.”

Starling’s winning look did it for their case.  The administrator gave her a sympathetic look before allowing them to proceed.

Unbeknownst to her, Starling’s heart pounded fiercely within her chest as she was walked through the procedures she knew so well, and sent down the corridor at the side of a big nurse, not quite as big as Barney, and not as wise by the eyes.  For that she was glad.  Any ignorance for what she was about to do was very welcomed.

Finally, they came upon his cell.  The orderly tapped obnoxiously on the bars.  “Hey, Doc.  You got a visitor.”  No movement or noise from within.  Starling came into view.  He was reclined on his back, staring at the ceiling.  From personal experience and what she knew of him, she could tell he had been like that sense capture.

Then, his nostrils flared.  With a swift move, his dark, sleek head lifted and his eyes flickered with an unreadable emotion as they landed on her.  They shared a long look, one that nearly brought tears to her eyes.  After a minute, Dr. Lecter turned elegantly to face the orderly.

“Thank you, Alan.  I believe you can leave us now.”  He did not ask about her gentlemen friend.

As soon as the orderly was out of sight, Starling stepped forward, removing her arm for the first time to reveal the .45.  Dr. Lecter looked at it for a long time, his eyes distant and still unreadable.  Finally, he looked back to her.

“What are you doing, Clarice?”

“Please,” she said shortly, her voice desperate and pleading.  It was only then that Dr. Lecter acknowledged her companion with his eyes.

“Friend of yours?”  he asked casually, as though they had met somewhere for coffee.

Starling turned her attention to Dr. Pilcher and looked at him as though she had never seen him before.  “Take off your hat, N-O-B-L-E.”

Dr. Lecter, for the first time that evening, seemed amused.  “Clarice, you’ll never get us out of here.  Please.  Stop being foolish.”

“Hannibal…” she replied, her voice clogged with emotion and near a whisper.  “Please…please…I don’t care what happens.  Two weeks and I already know I can’t live like this.  Either we get out of here or die together.”

The humor was replaced with surprise and admiration.

“Well, where are my manners?” Dr. Lecter said, standing then in full.  “Please, Noble, was it?  Why don’t you join me?”

Dr. Pilcher looked sharply to Starling, who pressed the gun at his spine harshly.  “Go.”  Her voice was commanding and cold.

Dr. Pilcher’s eyes widened considerably, his skin paling.  “Clarice-”

“Don’t make me say it again.”

Dr. Pilcher looked down and to the small door, handle only on the outside, of course, that was the barrier between them.  Starling watched him carefully, reflecting that his eyes were the ones of someone considering their options.  He knew now that his fate was within that cage.  Was he going to abide?  Would he scream and get shot, or enter and die anyway?

Say something now before he backs out.  “Noble.”  Her voice lost the cold edge, gathering a pleading one in its place.  He took the time to gaze into her eyes.  In the time that they had known each other, he had often evaluated her wants and needs by studying her eyes.  Back in the day, when she carefully avoided stating her opinion in too many words.   “Noble…please.  Please.”

Dr. Lecter shifted uncomfortably in his cell.  Obviously, he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of Starling begging anyone other than himself.

His eyes traveled and she knew she had him.  Looking to the ground, he silently made his way toward the door and allowed himself in.  Stopping his slow, walk of death just a foot from Dr. Lecter, he sighed and looked up.

The doctor smiled pleasantly.  “Good evening.”

“Take off your coat, Noble,” Starling requested nicely from the other side.  “And the hat.”  He did so.

It was the last thing he would see, or hear.  Mimicking a move he made once, long ago in Florence, Dr. Lecter’s hand shot to a sensitive location around the groin area.  A few minutes later, standing promptly in his newly inherited coat and hat, Dr. Lecter’s maroon eyes traveled to her.

Now’s not the time for an emotional reunion, Starling reminded herself.  Now’s the time to run like hell!

With that, she took the initiative, forcing herself to tears.  Dr. Lecter, tipping the rim of his hat far over his eyes, made his way out of the cell, concealing his bloodied hand in one of the massive pockets while draping his left across her shoulders.  Without words, he knew exactly what sort of game they were playing, and secretly applauded her insight.

As the orderly came into view, far at the other end of the hallway, Dr. Lecter maneuvered his bloodied hand out of his coat pocket and performed another quick death, leaving him to call out once before bleeding to death.

In the front office again, Starling’s face was a blur of tears.  The administrator looked at her with concerned eyes.  “Something wrong, dearie?”

“That monster!  That monster!” was all she could get out as Dr. Lecter hurried her outside.  From behind, there was a rustle to indicate the rushing of hospital staff to the lower floor.  They had little time.

Starling hurried Dr. Lecter to her small car, and without words, he ducked accordingly as she drove from sight.  Nothing was said on the way to the airport, no verbal confirming needed to be assured that that’s where they were headed.  Once, though, Dr. Lecter allowed himself to raise his unscathed left hand to caress her cheek, which she did sigh to.  Taking her eyes briefly from the road, she looked to him and read everything, everything that was felt, things words could not describe.

He knew what she had risked for him, and the question of love was no longer debated.

Sirens sounded in the distance as they pulled up to the airport.    Registering themselves under the name of Dr. and Mrs. Shepard, they were gone quickly, and far from the United States before the FBI had a full statement for the press.

*            *            *

London.

It was a temporary stay, to say the least, as the first and foremost location the FBI would search were the European countries.  By now, they knew Dr. Lecter’s taste.  However, they would thoroughly search Italy, France, Germany, and even Spain before considering here.  Out of all his luxurious vacation locations over the years, he had not been known for someone who thoroughly enjoyed England.

The names they registered under at the hotel were less complicated than the airline reservations.  Smith would do nicely, for they would overlook it at first because it was so common.  They knew Dr. Lecter and Starling alike did not abide the thought of being common.  For safekeeping, Dr. Lecter also offered to forgo the “doctor” title under this alias, and settled for being simple and plain, Mr. Smith.

They had risked too much getting here to risk more.  Small sacrifices were necessary to main inconspicuous.

Starling barely had the time to close the door before Dr. Lecter pounced on her like a hungry cat.  It took everything for her not to cry out, so relieved to have his lips on her again, hands exploring her body without reluctance as though it were a foreign land.  Her mouth was hungry, too, her arms and legs wrapping around him as she drank him in.  They fell back onto the bed after a few minutes, his hands pawing with a newfound impatient streak at her clothing.  He was losing control, she realized.  They both were.

Far into the night, their passions united, and neither thirst was quenched, even as dawn approached from the far horizon.  However, they recovered quickly for there was little time to sit around.  Reservations for Moscow awaited them, and from there on, the world.

No one again questioned Starling’s feelings about Dr. Lecter.  She had sealed it with her crazy rescue attempt.  It didn’t matter.  That experience proved her devotion to him, and she knew she’d either shoot herself or go through the time in prison with him as opposed to being away.  She couldn’t be more satisfied with her sacrifice.  It consummated their relationship in a way good sex never achieved.

All was right with the world again, all was whole.  Now, on the plane to their new life, a brief place of residence, as always.  Starling watched Dr. Lecter’s dozing form with a special sort of love.

A new life ahead, or perhaps simply an extended version of the last.  Her meaning suddenly made sense, and she was happy.

Fin

Copyright 2001, DianaLecter

For the Moment

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags on March 12, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

By Sacara

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Summary:     Clarice misses Hannibal.

Timeline:       This story takes place sometime after the book

Rating:          PG-13

Author’s note:  Actually this fic deals within only hours, well …..  see for yourself! I hope you like it! Please excuse any  mistakes.

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Blue eyes searching around – she was in an elevator.

It was four foot square, a plush carpet, underneath elegant Gucci shoes, stained and worn by hundreds of feet coming in from anywhere, trailing muddy suitcases after them.

The walls were covered in the ruddy soft carpet and a dim lamp was the only light source in the tiny roof. One wall was mirrored. Why that – do they try to make the place seem bigger? If so, they never succeeded.

A soft creaking noise – the lift suddenly came to a standstill. Not again.

She strained her ears to hear any sound of the elevator moving, but in vain. This elevator was dead, as dead as her early childhood belief in an honest government. Stuck again in a minute elevator in the back of her former place of work, the FBI building.

Dizziness seized her like a huge wave and in her head the recurring images of her past: the cellar in Gumb’s house, all those disgusting moths – multiple Miggs cracking up in his dark cell, then Ivelda falling again and again in slow motion the baby pressed to her body after the deadly shot …dizzy so dizzy … Krendler, with his brain uncovered gleaming in candlelight – then the most painful piece of the jigsaw puzzle: Brigham, lying there on the street, dead. Her ally, her friend. No, no please not again. She couldn’t go through that all over again. ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe in here! Please, please, please, GET THIS DAMN ELEVATOR RUNNING!’

She bit her lower lip bloody, tasting the sweet tang of iron, the salt…

Her nails dug deeper into the callused spots of her petite hands.

The tiny room began to spin around. She was thrown against the four walls, her pale horrified face flashing at her in the mirrored wall.

Faster and faster. Terrible details of her eventful life swept into her abused mind…. stop, please stop….

With a scream former Special Agent Clarice Starling, FBI, awoke from a nightmare, a nightmare which has haunted her for a long time. It haunted her like the unceasing screams of the lambs.

Clarice sat upright in her bed. Darkness surrounded her. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, outlines of her bedroom becoming apparent by the minimal light of the moon.

She unclenched her fists the panic dissolved slowly. Clarice felt the sweat beads on her forehead and wiped the now cool liquid off her face. Her nightgown also wet from perspiration was stuck to the features of her slender body.

She was so tired, tired of waking in the middle of the night, alone, waiting to fall asleep again. This dream came to her out of the depth of her consciousness like a dreadful monster that had crept out of the moor to frighten people.

Why an elevator? Clarice couldn’t remember being afraid of confined spaces, claustrophobia was never an issue. Then why this dream?

Clarice shook her head with resignation. With both hands she rubbed her tired eyes. Maybe she really should ask him, but she was afraid.

She didn’t want him to see her as his patient. She had tried to tell him lots of times and always backed out, because she wanted him as a man not a doctor – if she needed treatment she could go to a psychiatrist. Clarice scoffed, that was a lie of course, she would never in her life make an appointment.

Clarice was certain that he would find a solution to her problem, but …. she sighed deeply … we’ll see!

A quick glance over her right shoulder at the watch on her nightstand made her realize that sunrise was due in more than three hours. It was no use trying to sleep now. The last times she had awaked out of this nightmare it turned out to be a tossing and turning while brooding about the most unconceivable things. Clarice stood up thinking that she could reflect on the meaning of life another night.

She put on a dressing gown and went to the living room. She switched on the lights to prevent from falling over one the boxes that were still scattered about the room.

Warm light filled the huge room. Its high ceilings and big windows increasing the effect. The room looked like an antique shop, the most beautiful things were distributed over the space.

Clarice walked over to her favorite. It was the first precious gift she had received from him. An antique bureau made from rosewood, she stroked the smooth varnish of the piece. She just loved all the little drawers and secret spaces the bureau provided.

She turned slowly around the room smiling to herself, everything reminded her of him.

Clarice went into the kitchen to fetch herself a drink. She came back out with a campari orange and sat down on the pompous maroon leather suite. Goosebumps covered her delicate skin and she covered herself with a blanket, feeling chilly all of a sudden.

She slid down just a few inches to lean her head against the soft material. The drink tasted wonderful and fresh and for a moment Clarice just closed her eyes.

Former agent Starling thought about the serious changes in her life.

She was free now. No longer did she have to tolerate the macho-like behavior of her superiors that treated her like a nuisance from time to time. She was her own boss now, what a satisfying feeling!

And even if she hadn’t her best friend Ardelia anymore, who she missed sadly, the mere thought of him set her in a state of euphoria. Him of course was Doctor Hannibal Lecter, her … well .. what exactly should she call him. She was with him now for almost 16 months and that was all. Hannibal came and went whenever he liked, not saying where he would go or where he had been, not even telling her how long he intended to stay. He treated her with utmost generosity and of course provided her with the most unimaginable gifts and all other needful things, but there was not one single thing that he had revealed about himself. When he was there, there was her apartment, or when they went on a trip together to somewhere all over the world, they surely held never-ending thoroughly intellectual discussions about anything, but they never really   talked. She had tried to but he wouldn’t give her an inch.

She certainly loved him with all her heart, how else could she have stayed with him, after what he had done, but she wanted more of him. She needed him, especially in nights like tonight when she has waked up bathed in sweat.

Clarice also knew that she feared to tell him about these thoughts, because she didn’t know how he would react. He needed his newly gained freedom more than the air he breathed and she was afraid that he needed it more than her. If she challenged him to decide maybe he would leave her. And that she wouldn’t be able to bear.

Her glass was empty but Clarice was too exhausted to get another drink. She put it on the table in front of her and leaned back again.

“Where are you now, Hannibal? Please if you can hear me, I need you tonight more than ever!” all of a sudden she sensed that he would come tonight. She just said it aloud to assure herself.

She lay down on the broad couch and minutes later she fell asleep.

A key was turned in the lock and the door to her apartment opened. Hannibal Lecter entered the room. He smelled the air and smiled. It smelled like Clarice, his Clarice.

It was 6 days ago that he had done the same and he longed to hold her in his arms again, touch her soft skin and breath in her unique scent.

Hannibal put his elegant long dark coat on a hanger and into the closet, then walked through the hall to the living room. He noticed the lights there, deep wrinkles appeared on his forehead.

After a quick look into the bedroom he noticed that she wasn’t in bed. He was getting worried, why wasn’t she sound asleep in her warm bed at 2.30 a.m.?

Lecter found her on the couch in the living room, sleeping. He propped himself on the back rest and just admired the sleeping beauty. She lay there calmly, totally relaxed. ‘She’s all mine’ he thought and still not quite believed it.

With the very tips of her fingers he stroked her cheek, it wasn’t more than a feathery touch, because he didn’t want to wake her. Despite his caution Clarice woke and opened her eyes.

Their eyes met and if was like a firework. Nothing had changed since the first time. A broad smile appeared on her beautiful face and she held out both hands.

“Come here Hannibal!”  it wasn’t a request.

Hannibal went around the couch to lie down beside her. They just held each other, for a while they enjoyed the company of one another, but after some time that wasn’t enough. Hannibal threw away the blanket not caring where it landed. His hands roamed over her slender body. Dozens of images for his memory palace, he couldn’t get enough of those. His fingers and his mouth were everywhere. Clarice had stopped thinking, she just enjoyed the things he did to her body, one shiver after another ran down her spine.

Hannibal longed to taste her – all of her, he pulled up her gown and tore the panties off her body. He teased her with his lips and tongue his fingers sank deep into her sweetness. Several times he brought her to the outer edge to hold back again, then she finally climaxed with a scream that was hastily muffled with his mouth on hers. In his kiss she tasted herself and Hannibal’s unique flavor.

Clarice thought they would make love now, but he just pulled down the fabric of her gown again and lied down beside her, one arm around her body.

She didn’t know what to do. Should she ask him, but what if he got angry. She didn’t want to disturb the atmosphere. How long will he stay, this time she wondered.

Again they enjoyed just being with one another. Hannibal dozed off feeling completely safe in her arms. Only some forty minutes later he stirred and sat up.

“Hannibal what is it?”

“I have to go, my love!”

“But you’ve just come home!” tears filled her lovely eyes.

“I know, I’ll be back in two days, there’s some business I have to pursue!” he stroked her cheeks and wiped away the tears.

Clarice just shook her head sadly.

“I can’t go on like this!” she said sulkily.

“I know my little Clarice and things will change, believe me! The next time I am home I’ll stay longer!”

“Said that before!”

Lecter stood up, his face a wooden mask. He looked at her for some time and eventually smiled.

Clarice smiled back. He turned and went into the hall. Then she heard the knocking of the closet door, his coat, finally the entrance door was closed quietly with a clicking sound.

It wasn’t enough, not nearly, but it was enough for the moment…

Fin

Copyright 2001, Sacara

77 Days

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags on March 12, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

By Kabochon

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Summary:      Well…you decide.

Timeline:         Outside canon; response to a fanfic challenge.

Rating:            NC-17

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Day 1

When I first meet him, I am in the grocery store, searching for fruit.  He’s standing at the juncture of the strawberries and grapes, holding several of the former in his hand, smelling them.  I guess I notice him because of his state of dress.  He’s wearing a beautifully cut dark suit and a white fedora, dark sunglasses hiding his eyes.  He is small, sleek, immaculate and very dapper.  I myself am squeezing plums maybe three feet from him and couldn’t help but watch him.  He’s better looking than my plums and I slyly think about putting him into my basket instead.  Then he looks up, right into my eyes and I look away quickly.  I feel a heat rising in my cheeks as I sigh.  Busted.  But I had to look back at him and to my surprise, he is still staring at me.  So I have to meet his gaze and he summarily slides the strawberries back into the container and comes over to me.  Wiping his hands with a silky white handkerchief, he extends his left hand, capturing my right, and raises it to his lips to kiss it.  “Good afternoon.  My name is Hannibal…”

Day 3

I am in his bedroom, lying on his bed.  His room, his entire house in fact, is beautiful, with masculine overtones and rich accents.  His taste is exotic, extravagant and foreign.  I am in the presence of a cultured man.  He comes into the room carrying a tray, wearing gray slacks and a gray overshirt, which sets off his hair and his odd maroon eyes.  I smile at him, thinking how attractive he is for an older man.  The tray contains fresh fruit.  He knows how much I like fresh fruit.  In the short time I’ve known him, he has figured out everything that I like and has made all of it available to me at any time.  He does everything and I rather like the idea of being waited on by such a handsome man.  “Sit up,” he tells me.  I do.  “Close your eyes,” he says.  I do.  “Open your mouth,” he instructs.  I do.  I am rewarded with the sweet taste of globe grapes and then a decadent strawberry.  The juice from the strawberry runs over my lip and I stick out my tongue to lick it off and he says, “No,” in a tone that demands I obey, which I do.  “Do not open your eyes,” he says and I keep them closed as I feel something warm and moist dab at my lip.  I grin because it feels good.  “You taste like this strawberry,” he says, his breath warm against my cheek.  I must know if the effect I have on him is similar to the one he has on me.  “You like strawberries?”  “Yes.”  “Good.”  I do not open my eyes and I feel my lips as he finally claims them, ripe with fruit nectar and my own honey.  I like what I taste.

Day 4

The first time we make love, he pins my hands down above my head.  I like it.  I like him.  He is cultured and interesting, extremely intelligent and he pleases me.  The second time we make love, he asked me if he could blindfold me.  It is a new experience and one that I like.  I couldn’t stop smiling at work today.  I have found an extraordinary lover in this man.  The third time we make love, he teases me and repeatedly brings me within a nanosecond of climax.  I all but beg him to please continue after five times of such occurrences.  This time he obliges and I knew I was falling in love.  The fourth time we make love, he ties my wrists together with a fabulous Hermes scarf.  That morning, he sent a dozen white roses to my office.

Day 7

I go to his house after work.  It is a ritual now.  He has taken the liberty of transplanting my clothes and other affects.  I only go by my apartment now to pick up my mail and feed my fish.  He is there, waiting for me and I never think how odd it is that he is so wealthy yet does not appear to work.  I have time enough to say “Hi” and then he is all over me.  We make love with most of our clothes on and it is so good and I think ‘Where have you been all my life’ and then we eat the dinner he has prepared which turns out to be tenderloin and saffron rice.  The meat is exquisitely tender and delicious and I cannot place the taste yet I know it is not beef.  I do not ask him what it is; early in our conversations he revealed to me that he was a protective cook and would tell nothing of his culinary secrets.  We finish the excellent meal with glasses of Batard-Montrachet and soufflé and I am near to burst.  We sit on the edge of his bed and he holds my face in his hands for so long I think I could drown in the mysterious pools that are his eyes when he slaps me.  He then produces a mirror and shows me my face and the spot on my cheek that is reddening from the blow.  I stare, transfixed.  He traces the blossoming blemish tenderly.  The next day, I am addressing my supervisor, one Jack Crawford, and I flashback to last night and the image in the mirror and desire floods me in intense waves and I have to sit down.  Mr. Crawford asks if I am okay and I nod yes but the reality is that I want to cry when I think that it will be at least six hours before I see him again.

Day 10

And so it went, one piece at a time.  I am with him every night and he makes love so very very well that soon I was crazy about him and not just physically.  I found myself in a situation that most would deem pathological but I myself never thought to label it at all.  Later I come to see it as being in a dream state or a serious phantasmagoric episode, but never pathological.  Never that.  It just lacks implication.  I can say that now.

Day 12

We go shopping today; for what I’m at a loss until he tells me when we arrive at Hammacher Schlemmer and head for bedding.  “What are you looking for?” I ask.  “A bed,” he says.  “A bed?  You’ve got a great bed!”  “Yes, my dear.  A great bed for one person.”  I shut up on hearing the tone of his voice and I realize he doesn’t like to be impudently questioned.  We look at beds or rather, he looks at beds, searching for whatever will catch his eye.  The one he chooses is so not like the other furnishings in his very elegant abode that I am inclined to think it garish.  I almost say this, but the imperceptible glint in his dark eyes silences me.  I should learn to control my impudence.  The bed is brass, with opulent curved head and footboards and I stare at it.  “Lie down,” he says to me. I give him a look and he says it again.  “Lie down on the bed.  I want to see how you look on it.”  I do as he says and lay primly on the decorated coverlet.  We are in the middle of the store I realize but it doesn’t matter.  “Grab the headboard, my dear.”  I do as instructed.  He comes closer.  “Spread your legs,” he says to me.  To the attendant, “When can I have this bed delivered?” She replies, “Your delivery area is…hmm, three days.”  He nods and directs his gaze back to me.  “Wider.”  I open my legs wider, mindful I’m wearing a dress at his request.  “Wider, my dear.  Throw your head back.”  The attendant stares at me as well as errant passersby too nosy to pay attention to themselves.  “Open your mouth.”  His voice is velvet and how can I resist?  To the attendant, “Please select for me the highest quality Posturepedic and box springs to go with this bed and four fat large goosedown pillows.  I will be expecting the delivery in three days’ time.  Good afternoon.”  He turns back to me, dismissing the goggling attendant.  “All right, my dear.  You may get up.”

Day 15

The bed arrives and we go shopping to find linens for it.  I am on his arm, dressed in clothes I could never afford.  I can’t help but wonder if I’ve ever been this happy.  After buying linens, we are both carrying parcels when we stop into an obscure sports shop.  I wait by the counter, sitting my parcels on the floor and began flipping through a circular on the counter.  He goes ahead with the clerk and I hear, “That one.  May I try it out please?”  I do not look up from my circular until he comes over to me, a riding crop in his hands.  “Lift your leg and put it here.”  He points to a footstool in front of me.  I bend my leg, he lifts my skirt, exposing my leg and thigh, uncovered by pantyhose.  He steps back and strikes me across the inside of my thigh.  The pain is blinding, exquisite and with it comes the heady wave of lust and I cannot even draw breath to whimper.  My eyes are locked with his and I do not notice the shock on the faces of the clerk and the few customers that are milling around the front.  He covers my leg with my skirt and turns to the clerk, who is beet red, and hands him cash.  “I’ll take it.”

Day 16

What he did:

He fed me.  He did all the cooking and all the cleaning.  He dressed me every morning, undressed me at night and had my clothes laundered right along with his. He even kept up my shoes, having them polished and buffed and resoled if necessary.  He read to me endlessly and not in English.  I was treated to his hypnotic voice reciting beautiful words I don’t know the meaning to in French, Spanish and Italian.  He washed my hair every other day and dried with my hair dryer.  He bought an outrageously expensive hairbrush to brush out my hair and beat me with it.  The bruises stayed longer than any I’d had while with him, but every night he brushed out my hair for long periods of time and my locks have never looked so good.  He bought tampons for me and inserted and extracted them.  I was taken aback the first time and his explanation was simple, “I eat you while you menstruate and there’s no difference.”  He ran my bath every evening, using expensive bath emollients and creams to keep my skin lustrous and soft.  It never occurred to me to wonder what his housekeeper thought of the whip that lies on the dining room table, or the several pairs of handcuffs that lie sporadically throughout the house and at either end of the brass bed, or the pile of thin chains that lay coiled in a corner of the bedroom.  I did wonder what she thought of the large number of shampoos, conditioners, the various bath salts, gels, bubbles and creams that overflowed the cabinets and lined the side of the tub.  He took off my makeup using a cotton ball dipped in lotion, running it gently over my forehead and cheeks and lingering it over my eyelids.

What I did:

Not a damn thing.

Day 20

I am standing, my heels raised, almost on tiptoes, across the room from him.  My hands are handcuffed over my head and I am hanging from a hook in the wall. I am in darkness watching him read by the light of a lamp.  I was told to be quiet what seemed like an eternity ago.  My arms begin to hurt and then ache and then my whole body begins to ache when I finally give in and say, “Please, it hurts…really, I can’t stand it any more…”  He glances up at me, his maroon eyes unreadable from this distance.  Then he rises, goes into the bedroom, and then comes out holding a handkerchief and another one of my Hermes scarves.  “I thought I told you to be quiet, Clarice.”  He stuffs the handkerchief in my mouth and ties the scarf across it.  I taste the cleanliness of the cloth.  The news comes on and the reporter drones on about the two murdered individuals whose corpses were missing organs.  He looks up at the television, enraptured.  I try to listen to the news, try to concentrate in order to take my mind off the pain.  It doesn’t work.  My arms are screaming now and I ache all over and I can do nothing because of the handkerchief stuffed in my mouth.  Finally he comes to me and turns on the light.  I am blinded, closing my eyes against the light and the tears that have begun lighting my cheeks.  He stares at me, small sleek man in dark clothes.  In one hand he holds a bottle of oil that he uses to rub me with after my luxuriant baths.  He does so now, beginning with my armpits and my neck.  I can’t even register this, my brain is overridden by the involuntary spasms my muscles undergo.  He massages my breasts and I let the tears flow, beginning to choke on them.  He rubs my belly and tears run up my nose and I can’t breathe at all now.  I barely feel his fingers sliding into me because I know I’m choking, I’m asphyxiating, I’m dying.  He stretches my legs apart and it hurts like bloody everlasting hell and I can take no more and the tears flow harder.  He finger-fucks me while staring at me…he is blurred through my tears…and everything is transformed and I come, my cries muffled by the handkerchief.  He releases me, frees me and then fucks me standing up.  Then he bathes me, lotions me down and rubs my wrists, shaking his head slowly.  “Pity, my dear.  You’ll have to wear long sleeves tomorrow, what a nuisance, it’s going to be a scorcher…”

Day 23

I am blindfolded and all I know is that I’m sitting on the floor, in front of something cool.  I have since learned not to question his methods or motives, just go with the flow.  “Open your mouth,” he tells me and I do and my mouth is filled with the taste of ripe strawberry.  I chew slowly, relishing the flavor of the fruit.  I open up again without waiting for his command and soon as I think that I have erred, he fills my mouth with…a peach!  The juice dribbles down my chin and I go to lick it away and he says,  “Wait…” and I feel the warm sensation of his incredible tongue dabbing at my chin.  I open my mouth again and this time I get…olives, rich and succulent, a sharp salty contrast to the taste of the peach.  I chew and swallow, loving this experimentation.  The next time I open up, my mouth is filled with a rich, sweet mushy substance that I do not recognize.  “What?” I say as I chew the marvelous morsel, “what is it?”  “Figs, my dear…Anatolian figs.”  I open my mouth again…this time a draught of ice-cold water slurries down my throat and it is magnificent.  It is magnificent.  My body sensation has been channeled into my tongue, making this experience as rich as any other one he has given me the three weeks I have been with him.  I open my mouth again…pineapple!

Day 27

Our evenings rarely varied.  He ran my bath, undressed me, handcuffed me to the rail, bathed me and then allowed me to soak while he starts dinner.  When I was ready to get out, he uncuffed me, lifted me out, dried me off with fabulous plush towels, dressed me in what has become my in-house gear…an oversized Brooks Brothers shirt in either blue, pink, gray or white…shirts he does not wear but likes on me…and he handcuffs me to the kitchen table leg while he finishes dinner.  We had endless talks…my days at work and his memories of Florence.  When dinner was ready he made one large serving and fed me from his fork, alternating between his lips and mine.  He held the wine to my lips and allowed me to drink when I was thirsty.  Sometimes he would push my head between his legs and I would fellate him as he ate, trying to see how long it would be before I could make him drop his fork.  It was a good game.  We talked more than anything and I felt as though I’d known him all my life.  We never went out and only saw coworkers and friends at lunchtime.  Most evenings, I was handcuffed to the table or couch or anywhere, just within touching distance of him.

Day 30

I have known this wonderful man for a month.  We are having dinner at a posh upscale restaurant and I am happy.  I am with him.  I am blabbering on about my day at work and my instincts telling me that my boss, Jack Crawford, has the hots for me when he places his thumb across my lips.  “Tell me later,” he says, “but leave your mouth open.”  He takes his hand and dips his thumb into the glass of wine we have been sharing…it is Batard-Montrachet and it is exquisite. He wets my lips with his thumb, my mouth becomes slack under the gentle pressure and he rubs it against my teeth.  Uncaring I am that we are out in public, at lunchtime, in broad daylight.  I begin to suck his thumb languidly, enjoying the taste of him underneath the wonderful wine he has made me grow accustomed to. My eyes close and at some point he removes his thumb, his maroon eyes unreadable and he presents his hand to me.  “Dry me.”  I wrap his hand in my napkin and ever so gently pat him dry.  “I want you to remember how it is with you, with us,” he says and when we part, I have an image of myself handcuffed and hanging from the wall, my back an acre of pain from the whip he beats me with, tied and stripped and reduced to a single passion: wanting more, needing more, craving more…

Day 32

I realize that my life is split neatly in two: with him and without him.  Day and night.  I could go to work and be the consummate professional but everything had become bland, tasteless.  Nights were fierce and sharp, like razor edges…all my senses acute and in intake mode…keening…day and night.  I think how my boss will never know the true me.  He thinks me lovely during the day…but I am such at night…and not how he would think…

Day 36

“I have to go out for a while,” he says, “but I’d like for you to do something for me.”  “What?”  I ask as I watch him dress.  I am handcuffed to the bed.  “Lie down.”  I do so and he sits beside me, his hand on my stomach.  “I want to watch you make yourself come.”  “What?” I say.  Masturbation is an intensely private thing with me.  He looks at me and I am stammering, “I can’t…it’s…I’ve never…it embarrasses me.”  “It embarrasses you,” he drawls, his eyes pinpoints of light in the dark room.  “Maybe you haven’t figured what this is all about.  Tell me, my dear, that you aren’t that dense.”  “I’ve never done that in front of anybody.” “But I am not just anybody.”  He rises and leaves the room, leaving me on the bed.  My face burns at the thought of him watching me masturbate.  This is the first time that I have told him no.  I wonder why and what about this request makes me want to deny him when I never have before. What is my aversion to him watching me masturbate?  Surely it is no worse than being chained and led like a dog, handcuffed, or even being whipped and then raped.  I can no longer really say what I will and won’t do.  Not after everything I have done.  If he asks me to have anal sex I would, even though I have previously said I would never do such a thing.  I guess that is the difference between who I was and who I am.  But this is my one hang-up.  When he returns sometime later I am still in the same position.  He sits back down, his maroon eyes covering me.  “I want you with me.  I will not force you to stay.”  He touches my cheek.  “But when you are with me you will do as I say.  As. I. Say.  Is this at all unclear?”  His voice is harsh, hard…totally unlike the silky auditory velvet he wraps me in.  “Please,” I beg, “anything else and I’ll do it…I can’t do this…” He rises and goes to the closet and to my disbelieving eyes he begins gathering my things and placing them in the large suitcase.  Patiently.  Methodically.  His face is devoid of expression.  He unlocks me and rubs my wrists, takes off the shirt I am wearing and slips on a sweater of mine.  I am so used to being dressed by him that I do not help him in any way…he slips a skirt over my hips and gently pulls me to my feet.  He reaches for the phone and calls a cab company.  I am unable to speak.  Minutes pass.  He has put my shoes on my feet. “Please,” I beg.  “I’ll walk you to the taxi, of course and if I find anything else of yours, I will most certainly drop them off at your  place.”  He brushes my hair and I feel the tears welling in me.  More minutes pass and I hear a horn blowing.  He goes over to the window and asks for another moment.  The cabbie replies that the meter’s running.  “Please,” I say again, my hands slipping into the waistband of my skirt and he looks at me.  “Wait.”  He rents the skirt off so that his view is unobstructed.  Tears slide down my cheeks as I begin to masturbate, the humiliation of doing that in front of him colors my face crimson.  “Harder,” he says as he goes for his wallet.  I am squeezing my clitoris as hard as I can as my other fingers slide in and out of me.  “Spread your legs so I can see.”  I move faster and in spite of my embarrassment I feel myself about to come.  He removes a fifty from his wallet and holds it between two fingers.  I am crying freely, silently, my breath escaping me in harsh little gasps and then my knees buckle as I come.  He holds me up, kissing my face.  “I love watching you when you come.  You stop being beautiful and you turn into this hungry ravenous creature…you eclipse beauty.”  He kisses me again and then turns to go outside and pay the cab driver.

Day 38

I was never prepared for what I was going through.  Years ago, a friend of mine had talked about being a sadomasochist and had me repulsed.  We stopped speaking as I had no wish to consort with such a person.  I wonder what she would say if she saw me now.

Day 42

Today he comes in with several parcels.  I love it when he comes in with bags…usually it’s something for me and today is no different.  “What is it?” I ask.  “All good things to those who wait,” he says, which draws a frown from me.  But as it stands I don’t have to wait long.  He allows me to open the bags and in one, I find a Dolcis shoebox and inside, a pair of suede dove-gray pumps with arch-killing, insanely high, fuck-me-til-I-cry stiletto heels.  I look at them in shock and place them to the side.  In another bag, I find a black garter belt and pale gray thigh-high stockings…seamed, no less.  In the final bag, there are four Brooks Brothers shirts…one gray, one white, one pink and one blue.  I give him a look.  He smiles at me, his maroon eyes twinkling.  “A fantasy of mine, oh I don’t know how old…is to see a woman wearing a black garter belt and high heel shoes…would you indulge me, Clarice?”  I inhaled and exhaled.  I have never owned such articles and tell him so, but I will indulge him…he knows I will indulge him.  He waits for me to go get changed.  I decide to match it up and wear the ensemble with the gray Brooks Brothers shirt.  I brush out my hair and put on a little makeup.  It is difficult to get the seams straight but I manage and then I put on those ridiculously high heel shoes.  They are a perfect fit.  I don’t question how he pulls this off.  He is sitting in the chair, anticipating my approach and I can tell when he sees me that he is impressed.  “Walk towards me.  Slowly.”  I do so.  “No, walk like a woman.”  My face scrunches up.  He gestures with his hands.  “Like you’re on a runway” I get it and slunk towards him, keeping my balance although I can’t see how because I feel as though I’m ten feet tall.  I stop in front of him.  “You are…exquisite, my dear,” he says, his eyes on me.  “Get on all fours.”  “What?”  “Get on your hands and knees.”  I look at him.   “All fours, my dear.  And pull your shirt up so I may see your ass.”  I know I’m looking stupid as I stare at him.  But I manage to drop to my knees, staring at the carpet.  “Crawl,” he orders.  “Crawl around on the floor.”  I shake my head.  “I can’t do this.”  He sighs.  “If you feel stupid, my dear, just say so.”  He rises to his feet and walks over to the far wall.  “It’s not like we haven’t been through this before.  I hate to pack.  I hate to unpack even more.  You remember how long it took me to unpack your bags that last time?”  I want to cry.  “Please,” I say again.  “What I cannot understand is why you don’t get what we’re about? Why do we have to negotiate anything when in the end you always do what I say?”  “I’m scared you’ll make fun of me.”  “Oh really, my dear…if I were to do that I’d let you know.”  He leaves and comes back with the riding crop.  “I can make it so that you can’t even get out of bed.  But I don’t want to do that…today.  Crawl.”  I look up at him, my tears staining my face.  He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a fat wad of cash.  I dimly notice the denominations are hundred dollar bills.  I have never seen such a fat roll of hundreds.  He flicks one off the roll and throws it at me.  “Crawl.”  I drop my head.  He comes closer, beginning to drop hundred dollar bills on the floor in front of me. “Crawl.”  I look at all the money in front of me and I am eat up with shame as I reach for one of the bills.  “Crawl.”  I take it between two fingers and slowly crawl towards the next one.  He continues to flick them down and I realize I am following him, picking up the money…shame a scarlet letter covering me.  “Crawl…just like that…”  I crawl and crawl, my right hand fat with hundreds until the delicate stockings tear in the knees and runs begin trailing up and down my legs.  I get back to the couch and he overtakes me and turns me on my back, entering me in one movement and it is the first time we come together.  I dimly acknowledge through my tears and his kisses that he could have and would have beat me anyway.

Day 46

No one saw my body except him, another woman, and some kid whose name I can’t remember.  When I did check my reflection, I would see my bruises as belonging to another, never to me. My body had nothing to do with me.  I still do not know how I was able to maintain that distance.  It was as though my body was a decoy to be used whichever way he decided to be used as a form of excitement for us both.

Day 49

I get a call from him while at work one day.  “Go to the Ritz-Carlton.  Room 227 is yours.”  I start to ask and he says, “No questions, my dear.  Room 227 at the Ritz.  Be there by five-thirty.”  I get off work at five and drive downtown to the Ritz, check in, receive my room key, take the elevator and enter Room 227. I do not expect him to be there and I am not disappointed.  The bed is piled high with packages and there is a note stuck to the phone.  “Open them.  Take a bath.  Get dressed.”  In one of the bags I find more opulent bath emollients and I take a luxuriant bath, opting not to shampoo my hair, which I have forgotten how to do, at any rate.  I dress in the hotel robe and open the other packages: a blonde wig…expensive, human hair, very soft; a dark blue man’s suit cut for a small framed man; in the hatbox, a white fedora; small black wingtips in the shoebox; a white handkerchief, socks, a tie…in the last package, a beard and mustache.  I dry myself in the same sequence he dries me: face, neck, thorax, abdomen, back, thighs, calves, feet.  The only thing missing is underwear.  I don’t worry.  The trousers fit perfectly…socks, the shirt and vest combination hides my small breasts effectively…tie and suit coat.  The shoes feel a bit weird, as I have never worn men’s wingtips before.  In the bag that contains the beard and moustache is a small pot of glue.  I don’t want to smear it on my skin and opt to spread it on the back of the beard in a thin layer.  The mustache took two tries but the beard was much harder…twenty minutes later I had it reasonably attached.  I  pin my hair and slip on the wig, adjusting and adjusting until I was satisfied.  Then I hunt through the paper and find a fake pair of eyebrows…he knew just as I’d found out that they would be necessary.  I glue them in place and when I look at my watch it is seven-o-clock.  I put on the fedora, rakishly tilting the way he does his and look at myself.  I look like a young man, unseasoned, who perhaps took after his mother.  The phone rings.  I answer it.  “Good evening, my dear.  I am in the lobby.  Bring the room key.”  I go downstairs, enter the lobby, my eyes anticipating seeing him.  I spot him sitting on a sofa, his maroon eyes locking with mine.  He motions for me to come over and I force myself to walk slowly, evenly even though the wingtips are starting to hurt.  He is wearing a suit identical to mine, fedora included.  “You look great,” he says and my heart is light.  We go to the bar and have drinks…I am nervous and have two past my normal limit.  We sit downstairs for a while and then he ushers me upstairs and we look into the mirror: two men, both small…one sleek, the other fey.  “Take off your belt,” he says and I do.  “Get on the bed, hands and knees.”  He unfastens my slacks.  “Pants down over your ass.”  I do as bidden and he beats me, making me hold a pillow over my head to stifle my cries and then takes me anally.  It hurts, the pain is severe, incredible but yields in him and me a powerful orgasm quite like nothing we’ve experienced prior to this.  He stuffs Kleenex between my cheeks.  It is soaked with semen and tinged a dark pink when he removes it later.  Curling against me, he says in my hair, “…so tight, so hot, you cannot fathom…”

Day 53

I wonder to myself how pain can be so exciting, exquisite.  If I hurt myself, say stupidly stubbing my toe or barking my shin, I was no good, needing comfort like a baby.  But when he inflicted pain…the line between it and pleasure was blurred to the point of unrecognizance.  Sensations differed in quality but were similar in effect…equally intense, equally able to arouse me.  Pain was always a prelude…sometimes hours earlier…but it always led to orgasm.  I longed for it because to me it was as sensuous and as integral to our lovemaking as having my breasts caressed or my clitoris stimulated.

Day 55

Am I civilized?  I wonder as I stare at myself from outside of myself at work.  I am a federal technical agent, all prim and proper, cold to my male coworkers, never smiling, never giving them any more fodder than they already had for their wet dreams.  But with him, I am nothing less than a wild, a dirty girl, an out-and-out horny bitch…cuffer then cuffee.  Am I civilized?  Am I?  Is he? Are we?  So easily I change from “work” to “home” that I must wonder if this was in me all along.

Day 58

Today I woke up, feeling like seven layers of hell.  I don’t feel any better by lunchtime and go home—to my apartment.  My apartment has been vacant almost two months and dust is everywhere and it is an oven.  I fall into my bed, unable to draw the blinds I feel so bad.  The phone wakes me from delirium.  “What is it?”  “I must be coming down with something. I’m never sick.”  “I’ll be right there.”  “No, don’t…” and I know no more until he is there, carrying me from my bed.  “I want to stay here,” and he doesn’t even reply and I am too weak to argue or move.  We go back to his place, in his car which I’ve never ridden in before and I am too sick to appreciate its beauty.  He puts me to bed, takes my temperature…and everything becomes hazy…

Day 63

The haze goes away and he is standing above me.  “Clarice?”  “Yes,” I say, my mouth like cotton.  I feel so disoriented.  “You have the flu.  You’ve been abed for almost a week…today your fever just broke.”  He had been feeding me aspirin and all sorts of other medication, bathing me, giving me rubdowns, made a hot blend of tea for me to sip…as I got better and could hold down more food…homemade soups, brothy and creamy…sitting on the couch wrapped in blankets and afghans, him massaging my feet and legs…then homemade milkshakes and finally real food.  My head was finally clear but my body felt broken. He stayed with me, reading to me, talking to me, teaching me ways of internally amusing myself and he slept on the couch.  I have not been nursed this way since I was five years old.

Day 69

“I’ve hired a masseur tonight,” he tells me.  He runs my bath and I relax in it as he bathes me.  He dries me and dresses me in a robe and we wait for the masseur who arrives at eight o clock.  He’s a cute thing, around 25 or so, blonde and chiseled.  “I’m going to watch you,” he says to the boy.  The boy’s hands were slick with oil and began at my shoulders.  They are large and warm and soon I am limp.  I begin to grunt when he grabs me…I had no idea I was this stiff. “Let me try,” I hear and I feel his hands, cooler and smaller, lightly touching me in comparison.  I am lulled.  Both of them take a foot in hand, applying wondrous pressure and then I am turned over, unable to contain the bliss within me.  My muscles are limp and in a state of suspension.  I hear conversation. “No.” “Twenty-five extra.” “No. I don’t hit women.” “She likes it.” “You got the wrong man.” “I’m telling you, she likes it.  It arouses her.” “No.”  “Thirty.” “No.” “You will not hurt her.” “I can’t.” “Forty.” “No, dude.”  I feel the slight sting of a belt or whip or something across my back and I don’t even flinch. “See?  Fifty.” I am struck again, and then again and again and he cradles my face to look at the blinding pain in my eyes. “A hundred…harder…” The blow that comes after that makes me bite my lip in agony and in ecstasy…he kisses me and the final blow makes me scream inside his mouth.  “That’s enough,” he says, rising and handing the boy a crisp hundred-dollar bill.

Day 72

Throughout the entire time, my daytime life went unchanged.  I supported myself, did my work and kept up my apartment.  I made my own choices.  My nighttime life was 180 degrees opposite.  I was helpless, dependent, taken care of.  No decisions were expected of me, no responsibilities, no choice.  I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, I loved it!  Once I got to his place, nothing more was needed for me to do.  I was there to be done to.  It was true emancipation…no adult worries, nothing of the sort.  The first question he asked me was the last question he asked me, “Would you let me blindfold you?” Nothing since was a matter of my acquiescent or protest, even though my qualms at certain things were highlighted to make my addiction distinctively clear to me.  This was the phenomenon of being an observer in one’s life, a surrendering of individuality, a total desertion of self.

Day 73

All I know is that I’m in a hotel of some sort.  I don’t know anything else due to the blindfold that covers my eyes.  He has led me in and I imagine we are in an extravagant suite…his taste, if nothing else, is impeccable.  He sits me down and from the lack of real resistance and no back to support me, I assume it is the bed.  He undresses me and then slaps me, making me fall to one side.  He tells me not to cry.  After some time, I feel myself being touched again and due to the softness of the hands that are touching me, I assume it is a woman.  At first I do not know how to feel and then I hear his voice.  “Relax.  It’s all right.”  She touches me more firmly, her fingertips making circular patterns and her hands cover my breasts, stimulating my nipples.  I felt something wet touching my nipples and realized that this woman is going to make love to me.  She parted my legs and I felt her mouth between my thighs and I tried to be appalled but I could not. I  heard him talking to her in low tones…instructing her what to do, how to do it.  The pressure of her mouth increased and I felt it on my clitoris, stimulating me and I began to get into it despite the fact that I’d never been into being with women.  Her fingers penetrated me and then her tongue and I heard his instruction for her to spread me wider, lift my legs over her shoulders, deeper…harder and I began to groan as she licked and sucked on me and I could not picture how I must look to him…is he jealous that she is making me groan like this?  But the slow pleasure arising from her fingers and mouth is halted when she is pulled away and I am raised and thrown over something.  The blindfold is taut around my eyes and my forehead bumps something solid and I cry out in surprise.  I feel his hands on my upturned ass, hear him say, “Give me my belt,” and all I can think is that I will not cry out, no matter how hard he beats me, I will not cry out.  I clench my teeth, blood roars in my ears and tears squeeze out of my eyes until I do cry out.  He stops beating me and says, “Give me the petroleum jelly,” my buttocks are spread, his finger is in my anus, another on my clitoris and I am so tense the finger in my ass hurts.  I clench my teeth again, frantic and overwhelmed with a need to orgasm.  I twitch and move, even though it hurts but I need to come and I begin to beg him to make me come.  He pulls his finger out of my anus and smacks my upturned bottom with his hand, hard and I wince.  I am then picked up and thrown on the bed, and I feel her hands and tongue between me once again, the blindfold is removed and she is orally pleasuring me.  His fingers are in my mouth, painfully yet pleasurably and finally I achieve release.

Day 75

Tonight some blood stained his sheets.  He touched his finger to it and then tasted it.  “You really do crave this, don’t you my dear?  You love it just as much as I do.  I get so aroused wondering how far we’ll go…”

Day 77

I woke up this morning, tears in my eyes.  He went about our morning ritual and I could do nothing but sit on the side of the bed and cry.  “What’s the matter?” I could not answer him.  All I could do was cry.  He walks away and I could not follow.  I just cried.  I could not stop crying.  He puts on my sunglasses and leads me to his car.  All the while, I cried.  He asked me again and I would not answer.  I could not.  He smoothes my hair, kissing my cheek, asking me to tell him what was wrong.  I could not.  “What the hell is going on?”  Nothing but my tears.  “Talk to me, please!”  My sobs answered him.  I cried all day and when I was still crying at four-o-clock, he took me to the hospital and I was sedated.  The next day, I began a period of treatment that lasted several months.

I never saw him again.

When my skin returned to its natural complexion, I slept with another man and discovered I did not know what to do with my hands.  They lay on either side of me, awkwardly and uselessly.  I’d forgotten.  I’m a responsible adult again, all day, every day.  What has not changed is that my sensation thermostat has been thrown off kilter; it’s been years and I wonder if my body will ever again register above lukewarm.

Fin

Copyright 2001, Kabochon

Con Tartufi

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

by Horserider1

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Summary:     Paul Krendler meets his fate on the way up to the Verger helicopter.

Timeline:       Between Chapters 93 and 100 of the Hannibal novel; follows canon.

Rating:          R

Author’s Note: This work is the follow up to “Kitsunegari”, a piece authored by Kabochon. “Kitsunegari” is a story exclusive to the Visionary website, and for this story to make sense, one should read that work first. This is also a “missing scene” that would occur in the epilogue of one of my other works, “Heat of the Midnight Sun”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Indeed it is, Paulie-boy.”

He stops and turns quickly, facing me.

“What the hell’re you – MMMPH….”

I clamp the ether-soaked rag over his face, smashing it into his nose.

“Should I gather from your previous crude commentary that you are giving serious thought…to eating my wife?!”

Continue reading

Kitsunegari

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

By Kabochon

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Summary:     Paul Krendler ruminates aloud on his fateful jog to Mason Verger’s helicopter.

Timeline:       Just prior to chapter 100 in Hannibal.

Rating:          NC-17

Author’s Note:  This takes place during Horserider91271’s “Heat of the Midnight Sun,” at the end of the main story body.  Dedicated to Glimmerdark, who really wanted to know.

Please keep in mind that Paul is talking to himself OUT LOUD while he jogs.

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~Earlier~

The doors opened and Paul Krendler stepped in beside Clarice Starling.

“Starling,” he said curtly, “I was just coming to talk to you.”

“About what, Mr. Krendler?” She didn’t look at him but knew he was looking at her, at her neck.

“Status of the search for Lecter.”

Well, I’m cross-checking receipts and reports of sales of those things he likes. I thought I’d gone over that with you, sir.” It was hard keeping disdain out of her tone.

“What did I tell you? I wanted knowledge of everything you’ve been doing.  Everything.” His eyes had not left her neck. She blinked slowly, exhaling through herteeth. His voice grew quiet. “What’s that on your neck? Burn yourself with the curling iron?”

Only a idiot moron like Paul Krendler would mistake a very obvious hickey for a curling iron burn. She briskly shook her head. “No.”

“Well, what is that, then?” He leaned closer and she moved away.  “Nothing, sir.”

Krendler pushed the STOP button and faced her. “I asked you a question, Agent Starling. I demand an answer. What is that on your neck?”

She sighed, rolling her eyes. Fuck it. Go for the throat. “A hickey.”

He laughed, abrasive and rudely. “What?”

“A hickey. Obviously, you’ve never given one or received one to not have known what it is.”

He straightened quickly. “Watch your tone, Starling.” A pause. “Who gave it to ya?”

She shook her head. “Mind your own business.”

“Don’t tell me you gave up that country cornpone pussy to some needledick office boy!”

She eyed him then, glint in her gaze. “All right then sir. I won’t.” And she turned away, reaching to start the elevator again.  He grew enraged, slapping at her hand. “Who did it?”

“You told me not to tell you, sir.” She faced the doors, cooling herself past the point of aloofness.

“Who did it, Starling! Who put that on your neck???”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Tell me,” he threatened. The actual sight of it…whoever it was was serious about marking her. He groaned, wishing it’d been himself. Clarice was an intangible fantasy, one he entertained with his hand early every morning.

She mashed the elevator button. “If you really want to know, Mr. Krendler, then you’ll just have to deal with the fact that I won’t tell you who my lover is. I will say he’s courteous and magnificent and he makes me come just by looking at me.”  The elevator stopped at her floor and she stepped out, turning to glare at him. “Shame you’ll never get close enough to find out.” And the doors closed.

~Later~

“I really hate that bitch.

“I really really hate that bitch.

“Who the fuck do she think she is, anyway?  Like her pussy’s gold or something?  I’ve seen better ass on a mule.

“Okay, so maybe I haven’t.  Okay, maybe I am getting over seeing her in the elevator with that large ass hickey on her neck.  Fuck it, the thing was so big I was tempted to touch it to see if it was bleeding.  What kind of slut comes to work showing off a hickey like that?  Ah shit, I really hate that bitch.

“What makes me hate her so?  I guess I could tell myself the truth.  I called her up one time, drunk off my ass, but she’d been on my mind for a long time.  She’s got a great set of legs…look like they go all the way to her fucking neck.  And I’m a leg man, don’t let the smiley face fool you.  If a bitch’s got a great set of legs, she’s got my attention.  Anyway, I wanted to see Starling on the side, you know.  Secret secret.  I am a married man after all, but shit, I haven’t been faithful in years.  And Starling’s lithe, leggy and brunette, just the way I  like them.  And she’s a hard-ass, which is the biggest turn on for me.  I admit to having the hots for her even back when she caught that sick fuck Jame Gumb before me.  She was a young thing and I wanted her even then.

“When she told me to drag my ass back to Marlee, my wife, it was like a kick in the head.  I was so fucked up that it took a minute to realize that country tramp pussy bitch turned me down.  I’ve fucked so many wannabe agents like her I’ve lost count.  All I had to do was promise them a leg up when they graduated and a leg up was what they got, on my desk with my dick in them.  Line ‘em up, knock ‘em down, that’s the credo I live by.  And most of those tramps wanted to fuck their way up the ladder anyway, so why should I lower myself by helping them?

“But Starling had the balls to tell me no!  Even now it burns me.  I so want to get in her that it wakes me up every fucking morning and I’m reduced to beating my meat and panting her name low enough so Marlee won’t hear me.  Shit, even now my dick’s getting hard thinking about that cornpone cunt.  I bet her pussy is tight too, tighter than a virgin asshole…gotdammit!!!  That’s not helping me here, now my dick’s all hard and my balls are banging painfully against my thighs.  I might need to stop and handle it while I think about ass-fucking Starling.  Now, there’s a thought!

“Damn.  Starling.  I want those racehorse legs wrapped around my back, those nails digging chasms into me as I jackhammer the shit out of her, making that bitch scream my fucking name.  Not the name of the dickhead boy toy who gave her that fucking hickey.  I bet he’s a wet-behind-the-ears needledick two-minute jerkoff rat bastard who probably ate her pussy first.

“Shit.  Why’d I have to say that?  I have never eaten a slit in my life and I certainly wouldn’t stick my face in that cunt’s cunt.  All fishy and pissy and…man I bet she’ll scream like a banshee if I hit that clit right!!

“I am going to fuck her.  I am going to fuck Clarice Starling.  I’m going to fuck her hard.  With my position and then with my dick.  Ass then pussy and then I think I’ll make her suck it, ram it down her throat—is that ether I smell???”

Fin

Copyright 2001, Kabochon

Cutting Up A Few Old Touches

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

By Running With The Deer


Summary:    Free now from his captors, Hannibal Lecter does a bit of research and makes a gruesome discovery before touching base with an old friend. Suspenseful drama.  Additional Note: Reading Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon will be of help in understanding Dr. Lecter’s discovery in the barn.

Timeline:      After Silence Of The Lambs; follows book canon.

Rating:          PG-13


The elegantly dressed man blended in with other commuters in the long-term parking deck at St. Louis International Airport. As he stood alongside the new Acura, an observant passer-by might have wondered why it took him so long to get his car door open or, perhaps, why he had purchased such an expensive automobile without opting for keyless entry. But the hurrying strangers were intent on their flights, their children, their luggage.

Hannibal Lecter took his time, tapping flakes of rust and mud off the magnetized Hide-a-Key that he had found under the rear fender, just before he’d switched license plates with the vehicle in the next spot. He aimed the small box far from himself, intent on keeping his clothing unsullied. Finally, the small drawer gave way and he had the key in the lock. By the time Dr. Lecter had seated himself behind the wheel, he was of interest only to an impatient man in a beat-up Pontiac, who coveted the conveniently located parking space.

Lecter marveled once again at the smoothness of the engine and the intriguing dashboard features. This opportunity to sample a new era of automotive technology was one of the few small benefits of his cloistered years in the asylum.

He glanced in the mirror at the other driver, who was fidgeting behind the wheel. Lecter pulled away, mildly surprised that the man had declined to honk his horn or shout exhortations through the open window. No matter…perhaps he was mute.

Mute…Lecter barely noticed the ticket booth, the money he pulled from the late Lloyd Wyman’s billfold, or the digital “thank you” that flashed as the gate rose to allow him egress from the airport.

It was a pleasant day, cool, with a slight breeze. Lecter consulted his mental atlas briefly, gauging the driving time to his cottage on the Susquehanna. Beyond that lay a new identity, and the brief interlude among tourists until he reached Brazil. Still, no hurry at all. His new face had set nicely and he had no sense of pursuers closing in.

His thoughts reached out like pseudopods, caressing, exploring.  Mute. Silence…lambsContinue reading

Precession – Second of 2 Parts

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

by Glimmerdark

It was five, perhaps ten minutes later when Clarice raised her head from Cooper’s chest.  Her face was puffy, streaked with tears, but no trace of regret was apparent to his searching gaze.  She smiled at him, and her eyes were bright between the swollen lids.

“Thanks,” was all she could say.  She was too full for words.

He couldn’t respond.  Biting his lip, he stood and let her go.  He turned and walked out of the office, hoping only that he wasn’t walking out of her life.

Starling still felt the touch of his hands warm on her back.  His smell, reminiscent of pine trees and coffee, lingered in her nostrils.  She allowed herself a moment only to savor the might-have-been.  The place he so clearly desired in her life was reserved for another, and there was no changing that.  Even had she wanted to.

She leaned back in the chair and pulled his drawings to mind, each line etched on her memory with acid and fire.  She felt a renewed anger burning in her, but with a strange detachment was able to laugh at it.  Men just don’t understand the Little Mermaid, she thought.  Not even Dr. Lecter knows what she means to us.  Her story can’t scare us – women face her choices every day.  Why would I be upset at being compared to her?  Apparently even he can be wrong once in a while.  I don’t know if that’s comforting or frightening right now.  But to think that he would believe I needed a reminder?  Like a schoolgirl? Oh, by the way, Clarice, we’re playing for keeps here.  Well, no shit.  “Thank you, Dr. Lecter, for that insight. I’d have never come up with it on my own,” she said out loud, bitterly.  Will anyone ever realize that I’m a grownup?

Then start acting like one, Starling, she told herself.  “Listen to me!  Talking to myself like some damn fool,” she muttered.  She collected herself, smoothing back her cropped hair and straightening her crumpled blouse.  Using an old trick she’d learned in college, she extended her arms straight out from her sides and put on a broad smile, hoping that the physical openness would trigger a similar emotional response.

Stewart walked in to find her in that strange position.  “Um, excuse me, but I thought I’d bring the letter back, since I’ve gotten everything off it that I can.  Which is nothing, by the way.  The drawings will take longer, but I’m not very hopeful.”

Starling’s smile grew into a grin.  “Thank you, Amanda,” she said, and took the letter.  She sat back into her chair and drew the paper from the envelope.  Unfolding it, she swiveled so that Stewart was left with only the view of the back of her head.  It was an unmistakable dismissal.

Stewart left the office confirmed in her feelings that all the strange rumors about Clarice Starling didn’t even compare with the truth.

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Starling greedily read the words again and again.  No matter that she knew them by heart.

There was a pricking on the back of her neck and a tickle at the base of her spine that told her that there was something to be found here.  She recalled Jack Crawford telling her to never ignore that sensation.  The memory no longer hurt – she’d left the pain behind when she packed for this journey.  Two fathers down.  One more to go.  Have to erase that association, she thought.  Even if I am southern…

Her mind grasped the word “southern” and tugged at it.  Lecter’s never forgotten where I come from; he’s taunted me with it enough.  So why did he address me as his boreal Clarice?  The arboreal part is fairly clear, but to call me northern?  It doesn’t make sense…

Except if he’s talking about in relationship to himself.  Remember, girl, he doesn’t know that you know he’s in Brazil.  He’s starting the clues here.  He wants me to think in terms of spatial relationships… she ran it through again and again in her mind, but came out sure that she was missing something.

Just go on, it’ll come, she told herself.  She felt a tightness in her temples and a dryness in her mouth.  Excitement.  She looked at the words on the page.  The first two paragraphs were relatively self-explanatory, even with the Lecter slant.  But the third…

“I long to hear your answer, my Leda, my Lyra, my beauty crowned.  When you’ve reached your zenith, do come find me.  From where I’ll sit, your warrior has long since gone to ground.  Let the hunter reemerge to avenge the sting.  Use the telescopic lens of your precision and I know you’ll find more jewels for your head.  And perhaps some silence for your bed.”

An outsider might assume he’d called her those names before, that they were allusions to past events, but she knew they weren’t.  My Leda.  My Lyra.

Leda was easy.  Leda and the Swan.  She savored the salacious thrill that danced in her lower abdomen.  The animal/god and the girl.  But strange for Lecter to choose that image… he always rejected those who viewed him as an animal.  It didn’t ring true, this metaphor.  What the hell was he driving at?

She jogged through her memories of mythology, which were actually fairly extensive, but could not recall a Lyra.  A nymph, perhaps?  Was she another of Zeus’ conquests?  Move on, Starling.  Just go with the flow.

But that was the trouble; there was very little flow to be had in this bizarre passage.  The crown reference she didn’t get at all, as he had always called her on her common roots. The zenith was easy… hadn’t he been her “therapist,” and just pronounced her finished?  So she assumed she was at her high point now, her “zenith.”  But the warrior going to ground?  She had always thought that was what he admired about her.  The hunter he had referred to before, and she knew that’s how they both thought of this game.  The lens of precision?  She had once dared him to use his lens of perception.  “Oh, God, none of this makes any sense at all,” she groaned.

Except, of course, the silence for her bed.  That was all too clear.  Even the indirect mention of her lambs started them off.  She gritted her teeth until the piercing shrieks died away.

Think, think, think.  She got up and began to move around the room, looking at the pictures of victims on the wall, forcing her conscious mind to consider every detail.  All the while, her subconscious bubbled beneath the surface, churning constantly.  She reached the grisly crime scene photo of Paul Krendler, his blank eyes staring from his mutilated head.  Blood ran down his face, into his eyes and out again.  Dripping from the corners, the scarlet tracks looked like tears.

She raised a hand to the picture and traced the lines with her finger.  In all her agonies and self-deception, she had never tried to trivialize this.  This thing that Lecter does for… well, who knew why?  The taking of life.  Consumption.  That label made it sound like a disease.

For the millionth time, she wondered if Lecter was truly insane.  Is that even relevant, she asked herself, laughing.  This whole thing is insane, I’m probably insane, and this whole fucking world has gone insane.  For all I know, he’s the only sane person around.

Perspective.  It all comes down to perspective.  I’ve learned my lessons well.  When someone controls your perspective, they control you.  “Like you tried to do, Paul,” she said to the gruesome image on the wall.  Her voice was not unkind.  “Lecter tried to do it too, and he succeeded where you failed, Mr. Krendler.  Because I wanted him to succeed.  But that’s over.  Now I know, because he taught me so, that the only perspective that matters is my own.  And, from my perspective, you deserved to be punished.  Perhaps not to die, but I wasn’t making the decisions there.  And you’d have given up my life without a qualm, wouldn’t you, Paul, if it would have furthered your pathetic career.  So I don’t feel much regret at your untimely demise.  In fact, come to think of it, I really don’t feel any regret at all.”

She walked back to the desk, her head feeling as oddly light as it had on the night of Krendler’s death.  She sat and picked up the letter once more. The word “boreal” still hummed at her.  She sensed it had more to say.

“Boreal, boreal,” she whispered under her breath, hoping that she would find something different in the sound of the word.  Where have I heard that before?  She thought about the Greek myths, the winds that blew Odysseus on his journeys.  Tempting, and very Lecteresque, but she couldn’t make it fit.

The humming in her mind turned into a tune, one that she couldn’t quite place.  She became very still in her chair, trying to sneak up on the memory. When it came, she almost slid off the chair onto the floor, so incongruous was the snatch of music that played in her head.

She remembered weekends in Bozeman, when she was pressed into service as a chaperone for the younger children’s trips to the movie theater.  The old couple who ran the small cinema were kind folks, and when a kid’s picture played they always had a special matinee for the orphanage children.  She recalled The Muppet Movie vividly, remembering that she had laughed as much as her younger charges, and been touched in a way they could not understand by the sweet sentiments underneath.

“Aurora Borealis, shinin’ down on Dallas, can you picture that?” she sang, a little off-key.  Chuckling at the memory, she was about to dismiss it when she felt a sliding in her mind, and heard the click of a key in a lock.  Tumblers fell into place, and she whirled to face her computer.

Aurora Borealis… Corona Borealis… The Northern Crown… Leda and the Swan, that’s Cygnus… Lyra?  That’s the Lyre… the warrior gone to ground must be Orion, dead of Scorpio’s sting… Sagittarius is the hunter — oh, sweet Jesus, he’s giving me a map… a star map, how could I have missed that?  After all he said before!

She didn’t merely surf the web, she flew across the sites until she found what she wanted… and then her exhilaration turned to ashes in her mouth.  A time.  Of course, you idiot.  You need a day and a time.  No, wait. “When you’ve reached your zenith…”  Okay, so I’m Corona Borealis.  She decided to use nine p.m., knowing it as the traditional time for star maps.  And Lecter is nothing if not traditional, she mused.  She clicked and clicked until she had it.  Corona Borealis, at zenith at nine p.m. over Washington, D.C.  On August 5th.  Surrounding the crescent constellation were Cygnus and Lyra.

She clicked over to the Southern Hemisphere, picking Rio as a random example, and punched up the night sky for August 5th.  It would be close, and she could refine her search once she found out more about the southern constellations that residents of northern lands never get to see.  As she waited for the page to load, her fingernails tapped her desk calendar.  That’s only three days away.

When the picture appeared, she smiled.  There was Scorpio, Sagittarius close by, and, lo and behold, a tiny constellation called the Telescope.  Off to the side was the Southern Crown, and she smiled.  “More jewels for my head,” she said, and her voice was rapturous.

Okay, he connected “telescope” and “precision,” and said to use it, so that must be what’s at zenith.  Let’s try… Belo Horizonte?  No, not a coastal town.  São Paulo?  It’s the biggest city left… It’s not exactly on the sea either, but it’s only about 70 kilometers away, and there’s a river…

She watched the screen as the stars of the constellations connected themselves.  The Telescope lay dead center in the circle of black.  She could not contain the animal cry that burst from her lungs. She whooped and hollered, screamed and jumped, leaving her chair far behind in an excess of satisfaction.

In the end, it was one word that she repeated over and over.  “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”

Beneath her sternum, Starling’s heart pounded against the ribs of its cage, drumming out a bossa nova beat.  She had managed to sit down, however, and to all outward appearances appeared her usual poised and controlled self.  Unfortunately, outward appearances didn’t mean anything to Dale Cooper, and he knew the moment he walked in the office that something significant had occurred.

He looked at her from across the desk, noted the letter next to the computer.  The official FBI screensaver was on the monitor, but he had no doubt that it concealed something of importance beneath.  Moving casually, he reached as if to pick up the letter, then bumped the mouse as if by accident.

Her swift intake of breath confirmed his suspicions.  He needed only a glance at the stars on the screen and then the puzzle fell into place, aided by an agile brain and years of stargazing during his camping expeditions.  His motion toward the letter this time was real, and he took it up to examine it.

His eyes never got as far as the words.  The moment his finger touched the thick blue paper, his mind went elsewhere, sliding through darkened tunnels until he burst out into a brilliant white hall, sunlight dancing on marble and brass.  A large, curving staircase was the focal point of the formally appointed room. To the right, he saw a large counter made of some fabulous wood, the grain alternating white and black, polished to a glossy shine.  Well dressed folk of all colors strolled through the lobby, passing through glass doors flanked by guards and bellhops, whose red linen uniforms provided a splash of color that matched the poinsettias which festooned the sides of the marble staircase.  The atmosphere was filled with perfumed tropical breezes and the scent of old money.

Among the swirl of people moving to and fro, his eyes were drawn to one figure — a man ascending the staircase.  From the back, he cut a dashing figure.  A white linen suit, an ebony cane, a jaunty fedora… and a powerful aura of danger.  Cooper knew without thinking that this was Hannibal Lecter.

Cooper’s point of view began to move, following up the stairs, getting closer… the man he sought disappeared momentarily as the curve of the stair took him out of view for a moment… his vision flew up the marble, he was about to turn the corner…

A woman garbed in black in front of him blocked his path.  Frustrated, he moved to the center of the stair and was about to continue upward when he felt a hand grip his wrist.  He looked down and saw long, red-lacquered fingernails.  He looked up and saw gray-green eyes boring into his.  Laura pulled his wrist, trying to lead him back down the stairs.  He resisted, grasping the banister with his free hand to give him some leverage.  She shook her head, and he could see her lips move, but no words issued from her mouth.  She tried again, and he could tell she was screaming now, her face contorted by the force of her cry.  Still, he could hear no sound.  She put her other hand on his wrist then, and tugged him down the stairs, tears leaking from her eyes.  She shoved him into a lobby chair, and he felt himself sink deeply into the plush cushion.

She was not giving up.  As she knelt astride his lap, the heat of her overwhelmed him.  It was like sitting an inch away from a blast furnace, and he could sense the drops of sweat forming on his brow.  Her hands were on his shoulders, pushing him into the back of the chair, and she leaned forward, arching over him.  Her eyes flashed at him, and her mouth never stopped moving… she was trying so hard to tell him something, he knew.  But he could not concentrate on making sense of the motions of her lips when he was confronted with the undeniable presence of her cleavage, deep and soft in front of his face… her slit skirt riding high on her hips, forced up by the wide angle of her legs on either side of his… her hair, falling long around her face to brush lightly against his chest…

This girl-child, this woman, this creature whom he had never seen in life except as a cold blue corpse, this dead spirit of his imaginings who haunted his dreaming and his waking hours… he wanted her so badly he could feel the need stretching vainly against his boxers, the frantic drumming of his heartbeat…

“Laura,” he gasped, but heard no sound.  His hands traveled up her legs to rest on the curves of her hips, his fingers splayed across her back, pulling her in toward him even closer…

She looked down at him, lips parted slightly, and her eyes closed for a moment.  Her hands moved then, down his shoulders to the center of his chest, and he felt chills radiating from every part of him she touched.  His head tilted back, his eyes began to close, and he was completely unprepared when she tore open his shirt, sending buttons flying through the air to skitter across the cold marble floor.

His gaze traveled down with hers, and he saw a brand across his chest, the sigil of his doom burnt and smoking in his skin.  The pain hit an instant later and he screamed noiselessly.  His eyes closed and he writhed in torment, his whole universe reduced to the smell of searing flesh.  Until he felt a touch on his cheek.

He opened his eyes again, only to see Laura crying.  Her tears sizzled as they fell onto his chest, and he felt a blessed coolness at every point they touched.  Her hand passed over his face and she ran her fingers through his hair.  Her eyes met his and her mouth opened in what Cooper was able to recognize as a sigh.  She reached over to the end table next to the chair and took something in her hand.  As she bent down to kiss him, he felt that something as her fingers twined with his.  Then her lips touched his and he was lost in bliss…

The first thing he noticed when he came back to himself were Clarice Starling’s shoes, since they were right in front of his face as she bent over his body lying on the cheap Bureau carpeting.  Her hand was clapped over his mouth and her face was frightened.

When she noticed that he was awake, she let out a great gust of air.  “Oh, Coop, thank God.  What happened to you?”

He sat up and was pleased that the world stayed in focus.  He brought up a hand to rub his eyes and felt something rough scratch his face.  He opened his fingers and stared at the object in his palm.  It was a matchbook.  Printed on the silver cardboard was “Hotel Praia Plata, Praia Grande, S. P., Brasil.”

Starling was staring too.  They looked up at the same moment, and their eyes met.

“I’m going with you.”

“Pack your bags.”

They spoke simultaneously.  The air between them sizzled with anticipation, dread, and longing.  The hands she offered him were strong, and lifted him off the floor with ease.  He removed his hands from hers and began to unbutton his shirt.  She looked at him quizzically.  He pulled apart the placket and saw what he had feared.

In charcoal ash on pale skin, the hieroglyph of the Black Lodge was drawn like a map on his chest.

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Starling’s eyes moved over the pattern bleak upon Cooper’s bared chest.  The edges were sharp with no trace of a blur.  Blacker than night, it looked almost like a brand.  Unbidden, memories surfaced.  The animals at the ranch, the searing sizzle of flesh as iron burned skin.  She felt the gorge rise in her chest.

“Oh, God, Coop… I…”

Words failed her.  He just stood there, looking at her.  She fumbled for speech again.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” she whispered.

When she dared to meet his eyes, they were cold and glittering.

“I don’t have to do anything, Starling.  I never had to help you.  There was nothing stopping me from reporting you to Noonan.  He’s asked me enough times to keep tabs on you.  You could be in a mental institution right now, wearing a drab blue gown in a room with nothing sharp or strong enough to harm yourself, wondering where it all went wrong,” he said.  His voice held as little inflection as it had when they first met.

She shivered under his gaze.

He continued.  “There might be something for me in all this, you know.”  He emitted a short bark of laughter.  “But that’s the point, isn’t it.  You don’t know.  You take my help without really believing where it comes from.  You’ve never asked where my ‘visions’ have taken me, what I’ve seen, or even how I’ve brought you this far.  You are so wrapped up in your obsession that you’ve forgotten that anyone else is real.   Just like him, aren’t you now?  Don’t you ever wonder if you’ll come to him with your newfound veneer of cold, hard will and find out it was the human in you he responded to all along?”

The words struck her like a slap across the face.  She wondered if she was going mad, if she was ever going to get this right, if she could ever find herself in the vast aisles of hopes, fears, constructs and masks she had put on, taken off, taken in, and shoved aside over the last month.  Her face crumbled, her shoulders slumped, and she suddenly looked weary and… old.  Older than her thirty-three years.  As old as all that had happened in those years made her feel.

His tone held little mercy.  “Don’t you dare to condescend to me.  I am going to Brazil for many reasons, Starling.  Only one of them is you.  Perhaps someday you’d care to know the rest.”

She did not trust herself to speak.  She nodded and looked aside.  The silence rose like a fog.

He turned and walked out of the office.  She heard him say as he left, “Perhaps you’d better think of what you’re going to tell Noonan.  I’ll await your instructions, Special Agent Starling.”

And then there was only the sound of staccato steps down the hall.

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Starling drove the Mustang home mainly by force of habit.  God knows she wasn’t paying any attention to the road.  It came as a shock to find herself pulling into the driveway.  Ardelia’s brand new Chrysler 300M was already parked.  Starling hadn’t even ridden in it yet.  She turned off the ignition and leaned her forehead against the steering wheel.  Inhaling deeply, she took some small comfort from the warm familiar odors of the car.  But it wasn’t nearly enough.

Sitting up, she grabbed her purse and her attaché case and slid out the door.  As she moved, she caught a glimpse of herself in the side mirror.  There was a pallor on her face she’d never seen, and even in the dim twilight she could see lines that had not existed a month before.

She wrenched her eyes away and walked into the duplex.

“Ardelia, are you decent?” she yelled before going over to her friend’s side of the house.

“And when am I ever not?” responded Mapp, coming out of the kitchen to give Starling a hug.

“I just didn’t want to catch you in flagrante delicto with one of your studs,” teased Clarice.

Mapp smiled.  “Come have some dinner, honey, it’s just me, myself, and I.  You can tell me all about what the hell you’ve been up to for the last two weeks.”

Starling paused for a moment before following Ardelia into the kitchen.  After a brief internal tug-of-war, she rallied and moved on.

While Ardelia finished up the simple meal of rice and beans, Starling rummaged through the liquor cabinet and found a nearly full bottle of Jack Daniels.  Getting the Coke from the fridge, she poured generous amounts of each into tall Pilsner glasses.  Ardelia shot her a look that was equal parts curiosity and delight.

“So it’s going to be one of those kind of nights?” Mapp asked with a devilish grin.

“Damn straight,” said Clarice with perhaps a little too much vehemence.

As they ate and drank, Ardelia peppered her with questions about “that divinely gorgeous partner,” which Starling answered honestly, and a few veiled inquiries into the progress of the investigation, which were neatly avoided.  Mapp needed little encouragement to fill Clarice in on all the doings in her own life, and Starling found herself slipping, with the aid of the familiar surroundings, into the old comfortable companionship.

They adjourned into the living room, taking up positions of long tradition.  Ardelia sprawled across the couch and Clarice sat tailor style on the floor, playing DJ.  Nostalgia, as ever, grew with each shot from the whisky bottle, and they found themselves dissecting their Academy days while singing along to the tunes.  Ardelia eventually got drunk enough to do her best Patti LaBelle impression, and Clarice sang backup. “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi….”

They laughed and danced until, winded, they fell back onto the couch.  Clarice couldn’t help but to remember that, at one point in her life, these had been the best moments she’d ever known… her closest connection with another human being.  But all that was changed now.

With the wisdom of a friend, Ardelia held her as she shook, and asked no questions.  But when Clarice finally ran her hands through her hair and sat up, her eyes were dry.  She had found herself unable to cry.

Mapp looked at her friend, so different from the one she’d known in school.  “Just remember, Clarice,” she said, “you are the strongest person I’ve ever known.  And that’s saying a lot.  You’ve been through hell, but you’re on the other side now.  It all gets better from here.”

Clarice smiled wanly.  Looking at her watch, she discovered it was two in the morning.  With a final hug, she left Ardelia and found her own bed.  In the small circle of light cast by the lamp at her bedside, she composed the note she would leave.

“AM,

Been called away for the case.  Don’t know exactly how long I’ll be gone.  I promise I’ll be in touch if it’s more than a few days.

Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.

Love you,

CS.”

As she switched out the light and went to sleep, her last thought was that she hoped every word of the letter was true.

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Morning came early, and the birds woke Starling long before her alarm clock.  She sat up, wide awake despite her late night.  As she stretched, she felt a smattering of peace settle itself around her shoulders.  Only pausing long enough to pull on some clothes and grab a water bottle, she jogged out the door and set out at a brisk pace.

Running always helped her think calmly, at least for that time before the endorphins really kicked in.  And then it was just free association.  Her thoughts stepped in time with her feet, forming a strange sort of poetry in her mind.

Been… through… hell… that’s… for… sure… I’m… not… that… girl… any… more… can’t… look… back… won’t… stop… now… even… if… I… could… some… how…

As she realized she was rhyming she laughed and felt a weight pass.  Picking up speed, she pondered her behavior towards Cooper.  He was right… she’d been terrible to him, and he’d put up with it for a while.  Suddenly she knew that she’d needed his warning about not losing herself.  Being with Ardelia had helped her reclaim some of that.

Mentally, she shrugged.  Oh, well.  Her bags would be a little heavier, that’s all.

As she went into the tough stretch of the run, when she could feel the burning in her calves begin, she drifted over all the changes in herself over just the past… month?  She could scarcely credit that it had been only twenty-eight days since she’d locked herself to Hannibal Lecter.

“Well, I’m not doing half bad, considering,” she puffed, at last pleased with herself.  She’d done all she could.  And that’s all anyone could ever except to get out of her.

Coming back to the duplex, she took a quick shower and threw the few things of her own that she would be taking into a knapsack.  All her other luggage was long since packed.  She put a call into the office to let them know that she’d be a little late, and got all the stuff, with some difficulty, into the car.

She placed the note for Ardelia in her mailbox, and drove away.  And, while she didn’t look back, she did put a tape of Lady Marmalade in the stereo.

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She walked into the ritzy salon called Eden, shedding the glances of the rich middle-aged women like a dog sheds water.  The young, blandly pretty receptionist looked at her with mild distaste and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think you have an appointment.”

Starling put on her best game face, the one she used on drug dealers and chauvinists, and said, “Perhaps you’d better check your book again.”  That look, combined with the thousand dollars protruding from her palm, definitely got the girl’s attention.

“Well, as a matter of fact, we have had a cancellation…” the doe-eyed young woman trailed off.

Starling had no idea if the girl was prevaricating or if she had honestly lucked out, and she didn’t care much either way.  “Fine.  I need a cut and a color, a facial, and a massage.”  The manicure she could handle herself.

Shortly thereafter, she was comfortably ensconced in a beautifully appointed room, having scented oils worked into her scalp.  Even the stylist’s tut-tutting over the state of her split ends was humorous rather than annoying in her present mood.

“My dear!” the man exclaimed.  “Your hair looks like it was hacked off with a knife!”

He certainly didn’t understand why she threw back her head and howled at that remark.  But he was extremely competent and, when she left four hours later, she felt like a queen.  He’d added highlights and lowlights to her auburn tresses, and the sun danced fire on her head.  The cut was a simple short bob, really the only thing possible given the wreckage that Lecter had performed, but it was so well executed that it moved like waves on the sea.  All in all, she was thoroughly satisfied.

And she became even more so as she walked through the halls of the FBI, feeling the eyes upon her.  She went directly to the basement.  As she surfed over to the travel website, she called Cooper.

“Could I see you for a while, please?”

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

It was hard to tell if he was still angry over the phone, but she decided not to dwell and instead bought tickets.  This inner shopping thrill was a fairly new experience for Starling, who had never spent more than 10 minutes picking out an outfit before her reiving of Neiman-Marcus.  But she was enjoying it.

A knock at the door.  She looked up, and saw Cooper.  Knowing from his sheepish expression that it was safe, she got up and met him at the door. She ventured a small joke.  “I need spanking more often, I think.”

That bought her a startled look and a laugh.  “You’re just finding out all sorts of things about yourself, aren’t you?”  At her gesture, he came in and seated himself.

She followed suit.  “I need to apologize to you, and thank you,” she said, all traces of jest gone.  “Those were things that I needed to hear.  I regret the rudeness of my behavior.”

She drummed her hands on the desk, hearing her words and realizing how awkward and stilted she sounded.  “Oh, Coop, that came out all wrong. I’m sorry, okay?  I want to make it up to you.”

“I’m sorry too, Starling.  I shouldn’t have said the things I said the way I said them.  You have enough to deal with.”

She smiled.  “You have a little bit on your plate yourself, and I have a feeling I don’t even know the half of it.”

He nodded and looked away.

“Tell me, Coop, please.  I really want to know.  What was that thing on your chest… is it still there?”

“No, it came off… eventually.”  He felt no need to elaborate on the hours of soaking and scrubbing it had taken.  “What you saw was the symbol of the Black Lodge.”

She put her elbows on the desk and cupped her chin in her hands.

He cleared his throat.  “I had not had one single… well, I call them ‘experiences’… since I left Twin Peaks.  It was just feelings, urges… I would see someone and have to hold down my arm to keep from striking them.  There was a need to hurt, with weapons, with words, whatever.  Not easy to control, but I got better at it.  I learned that if I didn’t let myself get emotional about anything, it got easier.  No highs, no lows…  I found that avoiding mirrors helps.  You can’t see it, I know, no one else can.  But when I look in a mirror, I sometimes don’t see me.  I see him… IT… call it what you will.  I see evil.  And it snarls.”

He took a deep breath.  “So that’s how it was.  I was never happy or sad.  I just got through every day as best I could.  I couldn’t get close to anyone or it would just become unbearable.  I felt dead inside, except that I knew I had to keep going.  But I didn’t know why, or where that need was coming from.  It sure didn’t feel like it was coming from me.”

Starling looked at him.  His blue eyes were dark and his hands were clenched into fists.

He went on.  “I think I know now what it was.  I don’t know what it is about the things that Lecter has sent you… maybe I’ve just been more open since we’ve met.  I couldn’t not care about you.  I tried, believe me.  But there was something about you that night on the Chesapeake.  Something I couldn’t deny… I had a feeling that you knew.  Knew what it was like to live on that knife-edge of darkness and light.  I could see the veins running through you as if you were marble.  They still do.  I’ve had visions before.  I guess you could say I’m psychic, whatever that means.”

He reached for his wallet and took out Laura’s homecoming picture.  “Twice now, I’ve seen her.  She was at the hotel.  She put the matchbook in my hand.  She stopped me from following Lecter.  She was afraid.  I saw her before that, too.  I was in a courtyard… tunnels all around… I could feel his presence, sinister and angry.  She made me leave, sent me away.  She’s trying to help me, I know it.  But I don’t think she realizes, like I’ve come to, that I have to face this thing, whatever it is.  I can’t keep going like I have been.  I need to take a leaf out of your book.  We’ve both been trapped too long.”

He looked at the picture.  Starling could see the emotion in his eyes.  Suddenly, she understood even more than he was saying.  She sat back and let him finish.

“Something doesn’t want me to go there.  Doesn’t want me to help you.  That’s the only direction I’ve got right now, so I’m going to run with it.  I know this all sounds bizarre, and I haven’t made it very clear, but… thanks for listening.”

“We’ll help each other, Coop.  I know we will.”

He shook his head, not in negation but to clear his thoughts.  “So, what now, Special Agent Starling?”  This time, the title was teasing.

“We’re off to see the Wizard,” said Starling, smiling.  “Our flight leaves at seven.  Red-eye to Rio.  We’ll take a private plane from there to São Paulo.  I want to have a night just to ourselves before the appointed day.”

“What did you tell Noonan?” asked Cooper, curious.

“I told him that this is my goddamn investigation and that I’m doing what I see fit.  If he has problems with that, then, well, I know where the door is. I’ve been shown it enough.”

And, somehow, as the plane lifted off that evening, the FBI was the furthest thing from either of their minds.

Cooper marveled at his companion, reclined and sleeping in her cramped economy class seat.  Her face was smooth, her breathing regular.  One hand was tucked underneath her chin and the other lay open across her lap.  Her head, cradled in the cheap airline pillow, was turned toward the window.

He, on the other hand, had apparently been condemned by the gods of slumber to watch a red line move at a snail’s pace across continents and oceans on the map thoughtfully displayed by the airline.  He wondered if they tortured their sleepless passengers intentionally or if someone actually thought this was a good idea.

Not even fifty milligrams of Benadryl and a glass of white wine had been enough to induce sleep to come to him this evening.  The claustrophobic quarters weren’t the problem.  It was the face that came to him whenever he closed his eyes.  He could have stood it if he were seeing Laura alive.  But the face he saw was blue and gritty, though strangely no less lovely for that.

And so he sat and stared at Starling until the first blush of dawn stained her pale skin.

It was the smell of coffee that awoke her, finally.  She resisted, feeling the last echoes of a dream fading, but it was too late.  The only part of it she could call to mind were two voices, one rough and one velvet, speaking in perfect harmony.  “That’s my girl.”

When she opened her eyes, she saw Cooper, freshly shaved, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

“I didn’t know you were so fluent,” commented Starling in a voice rusty from sleep.

He turned to her and grinned, but she could see the dark shadows beneath his eyes.  “I’m not, really.  But it’s good mental exercise.  And I can get the gist of things.”

She nodded and crawled over him, deftly avoiding either coffee spillage or newspaper creaseage.  Opening the overhead compartment, she took out her travel bag and made her way down the aisle to the tiny bathroom.  She decided to settle for washing her face and brushing her teeth.  More complete preparations could wait until São Paulo, where better facilities would be available.  She looked once in the mirror, ran her fingers through her hair, and exited the bathroom just as the fasten seat belts light went on.

Their descent was unremarkable, and soon Starling found herself waiting with Cooper at the baggage carousel, silently offering a prayer to whatever gods might be listening that her luggage would arrive.  Apparently, one or more deities were paying attention, and they were able to grab their things.  Cooper, who had only a single small suitcase and one garment bag, assisted Starling, who looked like she was drowning in black leather.  They made their way to the crowded customs station and, by dint of FBI identification and a little sweet-talking from Cooper, were able to skip the whole sordid process.

Once out in the main thoroughfare of the airport, Starling finally began to notice how dull and dingy everything looked.  She cast a critical eye over the orange plastic seating, the brown and green tiles on the floor.  The whole place looked one step away from a Howard Johnson’s scheduled for demolition. Cooper noticed her gaze and the slight frown on her face.

“Welcome to a third world country, Special Agent Starling,” he said.

She didn’t respond, but continued her survey of her surroundings.  Her eyes marked the beggars at the intersections of hallways, mostly handicapped, crying out in words she did not know but she understood them all the same.  The children who accompanied the panhandlers, dressed in little more than rags, would dart in and out of the crowd, and Starling began to keep one eye on her things.

Cooper gave her a searching look, but said nothing more.  They walked down the wide, high corridor until they found a moneychanger.  Starling stopped.

“You’ll get better rates outside,” said Cooper.

Starling favored him with a withering glance.  He shrugged, and they entered.

After receiving a large wad of reais, the Brazilian currency, and a warning about carrying so much cash, they proceeded once more down the corridor.  Starling’s shoulders were aching from unaccustomed burdens.  She spotted an empty bench down a side hallway and motioned Cooper over to it.  Setting down her bags, she sighed and stretched.  He sat next to her, grinning.

“Are you so out of condition, then?”

“Not on your life, doughboy.  Here,” she replied, pulling a fair-sized manila envelope out of her bag.  She opened it only to pull out another envelope. This one she opened to reveal two fresh-looking passports.  She handed him one along with a thin file of other documentation.  Flipping through, he saw a credible picture and all appropriate visas and entry stamps.  Noting briefly that his name was Kyle Moore, he looked up and raised an eyebrow.

“You’ve been a busy girl.”

She flushed.  “I thought it best to be prepared, just in case…”

He smiled and tucked the papers away in his bag.  She gave a mock groan and stood up, hoisting her luggage into place.  They moved at a brisk pace until they reached the other end of the airport, where the smaller domestic carriers were housed.  It was no trouble at all for Cooper to arrange seats for Kyle Moore and Julianne McLachlan on a small plane bound for São Paulo.

That city from the air was like nothing Starling had ever seen.  It stretched as far as she could see, an ocean of corrugated aluminum and plywood.  But even the smallest hovels had tall wire antennas, raised to the sky like an army of pikemen advancing on the information age.  The boundaries of class were as apparent as lines on a map as they flew closer into the city’s center, where poverty gave way to gleaming skyscrapers and a modern skyline.  Her face, like a child’s, was pressed to the window during their descent, drinking in the scene.

They disembarked in the open air, and the smell of the city hit her all at once.  Now she knew at least one reason Lecter had elected to stay in a hotel on the coast.  Praia Grande, the small town that boasted the Hotel Praia Plata, was about 60 kilometers from São Paulo, to the east and on the sea.  She felt it turning her like a compass needle, directing her orientation in this strange foreign land.

A young man in a grimy brown uniform had piled their luggage on a cart.  They followed him across the tarmac to an outbuilding, where a taxi was waiting, just as Cooper had requested.  Sliding into the back seat, Starling leaned her head back and let out a long, low sigh.  The driver assisted in loading the luggage into the trunk, and returned to his place.  He turned around and met Starling’s eye.  “Pra onde vai, a senhora?” he asked.

“To the Hotel Ca’d’Oro,” said Starling, needing no translation.

Cooper’s eyes widened.  He’d run across references to that hotel during his Brazil research, and it was, by all accounts, one of the marvels of the city. Colonial atmosphere, sheer elegance, and priced to match.

The taxi lurched in and out of traffic like a drunken sailor dancing a jig on a heaving deck.  Starling was amused to note that stoplights seemed to be mere recommendations instead of commands, and that the average New York city cab driver would likely be frozen, white-knuckled in fear, in this grand chaos.  Somehow, they wound their way through the city into the fashionable Jardins district, and did arrive intact at the hotel.

The Grand Hotel Ca’d’Oro rose, white and gleaming in the morning sun, high into the skyline.  Liveried bellhops met their taxi and efficiently extracted the luggage while Starling and Cooper looked around.  The cab driver cleared his throat.

“Cuanto custa?” asked Cooper.

“Pra o senhor?  Sòmente vinte reais.”

Cooper reached into his pocket and withdrew a fifty reais bill.  “Você nunca nos viu, comprende?”

“Ah, claro que sim, o senhor.  Bom dia,” said the taxi driver, who winked, took the money, and then took off.

Starling looked at Cooper quizzically.  Her Portuguese was pretty much limited to “Where is the bathroom?” and “Freeze, put your hands up!” – both phrases she had felt it essential to learn.

“Security, my dear Starling,” said Cooper expansively, enjoying a brief moment of superiority.  “Unless I miss my mark, that cabbie is now suffering from currency-induced amnesia.”

Starling’s only answer to that was a smile.

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Clarice luxuriated in the deep tub, barely visible beneath the mounds of foam that covered her like a lush, thick blanket.   The grime of nearly twenty solid hours of travel was soaking away nicely, and the jasmine floral scent of the bubble bath wouldn’t clash with the perfume she planned to wear.  The piping hot water soothed aching muscles and tempered, to some degree, the adrenaline rush that she’d been riding ever since she got off the plane.

It was with an odd regret that she opened the drain and stood.  She turned on the shower, letting the driving rain of water sluice the bubbles from her body.  Her hair she’d washed already, and it was about half dry.  She turned off the shower and dried herself with one of the thick white towels close at hand. She’d never felt cotton this soft before.  She slipped on one of the hotel’s bathrobes, and the texture was the same, almost silky next to her skin.

She crossed over to the counter, looking up into the mirror.  “It all starts here,” she whispered.  A smile curved her lips and was quickly gone.  She opened the black case she’d brought, stuffed with all sorts of goodies from the helpful saleswoman at Neiman-Marcus.  She pulled out a small glass jar and dipped her fingers in the glossy pomade.  She smoothed it into her hair, noting that the lemony scent was fresh and pleasant.  She dried her hair carefully, keeping the hair dryer on the lowest setting, coaxing the sleek, straight mass into something that resembled the fabulous ‘do she’d gotten at the posh Washington salon.

She covered her face with a light moisturizer, and decided that foundation was unnecessary for her clear, pale skin.  A dusting of fine powder, and she was ready for the difficult part.  For the last 15 years, since she began reluctantly to use makeup, a dash of eyeliner and a sweep of nearly translucent lipstick had sufficed as the whole of her beauty regimen.  Now she held an ebony brush in a hand far better suited to holding a firearm.  Taking a deep breath, she flicked the bristles across the gunmetal gray eyeshadow, then slowly applied the color to the crease of her eyes.  Following with lighter and darker shades of the same color, she attempted to remember all the instructions given to her.  She blended and blended, trying to avoid looking like a raccoon and succeeding admirably, given her lack of experience.  The darkness threw her blue eyes into sharp relief, and accented the contours of her face.  She smudged black kohl liner just from her pupils out towards her temples, and with a larger brush, applied just the barest hint of rose blush.  Her cheekbones needed little assistance.

As she picked up the lip liner, she recalled arguing with the cosmetics girl over whether or not redheads could wear red lipstick.  She had lost that battle, but seeing the stain spread over her lips, she conceded that she had been wrong.  This matte hue, the color of old blood, did suit her well.

Gazing at her reflection, at once familiar and strange, she wondered if this was what Lecter had seen in her all along.  The potential to become this elegant creature… but it was just a mask, now.  There was so much she would need to learn, if…

She forced her mind away from ifs and back into the moment.  Diving her hand yet again into the black case, she retrieved a small glass bottle from its protective wrapping.  Long had she wondered about what scent she would wear, knowing as she did the importance of the olfactory to Lecter.  She had discarded the idea of her old L’Air du Temps.  For some reason she didn’t want to evoke the memory of dungeon days.  Rather, she had decided on an old classic.  She remembered it as her mother’s one extravagance, saved only for the most important events.  She’d never forget the smell of it on her at her father’s funeral, as her mother stood there, watching them lower the casket into the ground.  Starling had watched all the way, until the first shovelful of dirt was tossed in, then she had buried her face into her mother’s chest.

As she dabbed L’Heure Bleue onto her throat, beneath her ears, onto her wrists, the inside of her elbows, and the center of her cleavage, she inhaled deeply.  The odor of strength, virtue, and love filled her with peace.

She laughed at herself as she recognized how deep her tension had truly run, now that it was gone.  She wasn’t even certain she would meet Lecter tonight… it was tomorrow that the stars would align.  Even so… it would not do to be unprepared.  She picked up the convenient bathroom phone (ah, the luxuries of this hotel!) and dialed Cooper’s room.

“Hello.”

“Do me a favor, Coop?”

“Sure.  What is it?”

“Rent us a car, and put on your fancy duds.  We’re going out on the town tonight.”

He laughed.  “Eat, drink, and be merry?”

“You got it.”

He hung up, and for all his outward jocularity, was not able to escape the inevitable follow-up as he dialed the concierge.  As he listened to the ringing, he said it aloud.

“For tomorrow, we die.”

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The drive to the shore was pleasant, especially as the sea breezes grew strong enough to waft the smell of the city away.  They talked as they drove, of inconsequentials and trivia, neither one willing to broach the more serious subjects at hand.  The setting sun glowed behind them, the smog of the city creating a truly amazing sunset, resplendent in reds and purples.

They had settled into a slightly uncomfortable silence as they neared the town of Praia Grande.  The sun was absent now, and only the painted sky remembered the light.  Starling could stand the quiet no longer.

“Any moment now, Coop.  You know that.”

His hands tightened on the steering wheel, but he made no reply.

“He won’t be happy that you’re here.”

“Was there anything else I already know that you wished to tell me, Agent Starling?”  He made a point of keeping his eyes fixed on the road ahead.

She blushed, and her hands twisted in her lap.  “I guess what I’m trying to say is thanks.  For everything.  In case I don’t get a chance to say it later.”

There was a long pause.  They arrived in the town, a picturesque collection of colonial buildings, and Cooper pulled over at the first opportunity.

“Having doubts about your ability to protect me, are you?”

“I’ll do everything I can.  But I’m only human.  I can’t do anything about what’s inside you.”

The heat of his anger cooled abruptly.  He turned his whole body towards her, a maneuver awkward in the tiny Fiat Uno that had been his only choice of a rental car.

“I know,” he said softly.  “I don’t expect you to.”  He reached out a hand and lightly traced a finger across her cheekbone.  “You’re truly lovely tonight.”

Starling’s heart skipped a beat at the sudden change of mood.  She felt like a rabbit frozen in the middle of a lawn.

“Because I know I won’t get a chance to later.  And because I want to know what might have been,” he whispered, and leaned into her.

She closed her eyes, still unable to move.  She felt the softness of his lips on hers, smelled the pine scent that always hovered around him, and warmed to the heat of his kiss.  She was just about to part her lips…

He pulled back.  It was as chaste a kiss as could be imagined.  It could have been brotherly, even, except for the tingle that still throbbed around her mouth.  She opened her eyes to see him watching her, an unreadable expression on his features.

He smiled then, his eyes bright.  “Don’t worry, Clarice.  We both belong to someone else.  I won’t jeopardize that.  But I needed to get that out of the way.”

She ventured a small smile in return.  “It’s a beautiful evening.  Let’s walk, shall we?”

They got out of the car, their fine attire out of sync with their mundane conveyance.  Cooper wore, of course, a suit black as night, dark as coal, with his usual brilliant white shirt and red tie.  Starling was garbed in the obi dress, the sheer black fabric like a sensual shroud over her glowing, pale skin.  She stood tall in the Gucci shoes, and did not stagger as she once had in the daringly high heels.  He took her arm as they strolled through the crowd of locals and tourists. The rhythm of the night had begun to possess the town, and they could hear the beat of the samba leaking through walls and making its way into the street.

It was an upscale place, and they stood out only as first among equals as they mingled into the pedestrian traffic.  They stopped for dinner at an outdoor café.  Cooper ordered for them, and they sipped caipirinhas while feasting on lobster.  Starling ate lightly, as much for the sake of her dress as for fear of being too weighed down with food to be ready for whatever else the night might bring.

The lights of the café created an island in the darkness, and the strum of a classical guitar enveloped them in sound.  As hyperaware as she was, she couldn’t help but relax a little in the gorgeous atmosphere.  And, though she had but sipped her drink, the kick of the cachaça began to work, unbeknownst to her, in her bloodstream.

So perhaps it is not surprising that Cooper was the one who felt it first.  An icy hand gripped his heart, and the breath was sucked out of his lungs.  He choked on the fluid in his mouth, coughing and spluttering.  Starling looked at him in concern, handing him a napkin.  When his streaming eyes had cleared and his voice returned, Cooper looked nonchalantly around.

“Sorry about that,” he said calmly, even though his nervous system had gone into high alert.

Starling nodded and began eating a small piece of the sticky sweet coconut custard dessert that had just arrived at the table.  She gave a little sigh of pleasure.  “This is so good, it is unbelievable.”

He smiled, glad that her attention was elsewhere.  The bright lights prevented him from seeing anything outside their immediate vicinity.  He closed his eyes and let his awareness expand slowly, searching for…

He had it, for just a moment, before it was gone, submerged in the throng of people and passions wandering the avenue.  It was an unmistakable presence, and he shook at the malice and desire he felt entwined in that aura.

The sound of glass cracking brought him abruptly from his reverie.  He looked down at the stinging in his palm.  The alcohol burned in the shallow cut that was bleeding profusely.  The pieces of his glass glittered on the pavement.

Starling pressed the linen napkin into his hand, holding pressure.  “What is it, Coop?” she asked, her eyes worried.  “Is it…”

He shook his head.  “I’m just a little keyed up, that’s all.”  No need for her to know.  She’d find out soon enough.  He didn’t have anything useful yet, nothing concrete.  “I need to work off this adrenaline,” he said, forcing a small chuckle.

Her eyes looked around and settled on a neon sign across the street.  “I think I have the perfect idea.”  She laughed then, a silver sound that cascaded over him like a net, pulling him into her joy.  “Tonight I am going to do what I was always too busy studying, or working, or worrying to do.  Tonight, my friend, we are going to dance.”

He summoned all his strength, and with a blow, quashed the darkness that had loomed up inside him into a tiny ball.  He exhaled, and smiled, genuine this time.

“Well, why not?  Going to let your hair down, then?”

She gave him a mock glare and giggled.  “As if I have any left.  Come on,” she cried as she pulled him to his feet.  “Or are you too wounded to keep up with me?”

Precession

Glimmerdark

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Part 4

They laughed as they left the outdoor patio and crossed the street to the building advertised as the Clube Discotecnique.  Neither one marked the figure standing in the darkness of the far side of the café, his fedora pulled down low.  A stray gleam of light penetrated the shadows, and a flash of silver glimmered briefly and was gone.  The man took his hand out of his pocket and strode into the crowd, moving quickly between the jostling bodies.  He paused for a moment outside the nightclub, licked scarlet lips, and pulled the door open.

The night was as young and beautiful as a baby star, born from darkness into light.  The warm sea breeze carried Lecter down the busy street from the churrascaria where he’d eaten back to his lush hotel.  The walk was full of sights and smells as the well-plumed gents and fine-feathered females strolled the avenue in search of fulfillment.  He allowed himself to be distracted by the displays, finding entertainment in the multitude of concurrent reenactments of ancient themes.  He was observing one fine young coquette strutting between two clearly enamored bucks when a voice like a sunburn jerked him into high alert.

Eyes darting, he casually sought concealment under the awning of a small café, wedged between the protruding edge of a fence and a blackboard sign proclaiming the day’s specials in glittering chalk.  Perhaps he’d been mistaken… certainly others from West Virginia sought tropical refuge on their vacations. He was about to dismiss his impulse as a weak, traitorous aural hallucination when the voice spoke again.

“This is so good, it’s unbelievable,” it said, and issued a small sigh of pleasure.

There could be no mistake now, not when he was attuned for it.  Clarice Starling was sitting less than fifty feet away from him.  She must be out on the patio, behind the fence.  His hand rose a moment, fingers spread… then he tucked the wayward digits neatly into a fist and lowered his arm.

He pressed his face into the wood and wire fence, careful of splinters, bracing himself on the wooden crosspiece.  Through a gap, he could just barely make out a slender redhead, but the back of a man’s head blocked her face from view.  He took a breath, and then another.  The man was sitting at the same table.  He heard a sharp crack and felt a sting.  He looked down.  His hand had broken off a six-inch section of the crossbar, and a large splinter was embedded in his palm.

He settled back from his awkward vantage point and removed the splinter, then sucked the wound.  His lips curved into a smile as his tongue was granted one small taste of blood.  He turned back to the fence and was about to resume his position when a laugh scattered across the night.  He heard her voice, bright with merriment and, underneath, taut with strain.  And then his vantage point ceased to matter as he saw her, just a quick profile, and then the back of her body, hand in hand with this black-haired stranger, crossing the street.

The blade was cool in the heat of his palm and he savored it.  The shutter of his mind clicked and the memory was his forever.  That feeling, and the way Clarice Starling’s back looked in a charmingly insouciant black rag… Gaultier, he thought.  As they disappeared into the nightclub, he allowed himself to rise briefly on his toes, but he was not able to see her shoes.

The impetus of his motion carried him into one step, then another, and then he was at the door, oblivious to the traffic that had amused him earlier. Flick of a tongue on lips inexplicably dry, and he pulled the handle.

The interior of the club was loud, dark, and smelled of sweat, alcohol, smoke, and pheromones.  He could make out the brightness of the dance floor in the back, surrounded on all sides by platforms of various heights, connected by a web of stairs.  The bar was to the right, the bathrooms to the left, and Clarice Starling was nowhere to be seen.

There was nothing else for it.  He moved carefully, keeping to the sides, hugging the darkness.  The music was not Brazilian… the words were English, and the instrumentation had a synthetic sound that he vaguely placed as belonging to a decade or two ago.  The patrons seemed to be enjoying it, and he suffered more than a few jostles as inebriated women tipped in their heels.  Finally he stood on a low riser, in the shade of those above.  He tucked himself into the blackness under the metal, open stairs, and he had an excellent view, not only of the dance floor, but also of every exit.

A redhead in Brazil is not difficult to spot, and it took Lecter less than thirty seconds to find her crowning glory, shining in the beams of light that crisscrossed the dancers.  She was obviously not a practiced dancer, and she just as obviously did not care.  Though her movements were never less than graceful, he observed.  The song ended and another began, and he could actually hear her screaming her approval.   And then she executed a little pirouette that brought her around to face him.

Breathing paled in importance next to the opportunity to look at her.  Her layered bob framed her face in flame, and the gray shadows smoked around her eyes.  Her lithe, lean body, which could look almost boyish in the professional clothes she usually wore, was aggressively feminine.  A strip of black hugged every curve and every valley was sheathed in a whisper of translucent fabric.  And she was smiling, her lips red as blood.  Her arms were flung up over her head, and she writhed in a smooth little shimmy that stopped time dead in its tracks.

Lecter crouched there, frozen, and watched her dance, lost and sensuous in the rhythm.  Her lips moved with the words, and the vision and the music burned themselves into his brain.

She turned again, then, and began to dance with the same black-haired man he had glimpsed at the restaurant.  They moved together on the floor, very, very close together.  But never touching.  He kept repeating that.  Never, ever, touching.  Though he strained to the verge of his concealment, he could not see the man’s face.

He waited there through a few more songs, until his rage overcame his caution, and he moved out onto the floor, gliding like a ghost between the dancers.  He passed no closer to the couple than he had to, staying on the edges, until he emerged from the crowd into the relative sanity of the opposite riser. It took him a moment to find them again in the throng, but when he did he had to grasp at the stair rail for balance.

The black-haired man was the one he had seen in his dream.  The same man whose visage rested, face-down, on his coffee table, under the bronze Rodin.

He straightened and recovered immediately.  The man was whispering something in Clarice’s ear, his head bent low to hers.  She laughed and put her hand on his shoulder, then stood on her toes to tell something to him.  He nodded and put a hand on the small of her back.  They danced together truly then, moving as one to the beat.

Lecter thought the taste of blood that erupted in his mouth was just an illusion until he realized he’d bitten his own tongue.  He was so abstracted that he closed his eyes for just a moment, the better to gain a handle on his boiling anger.

Even that moment, though, was long enough that he did not see the black-haired man stop the dance, looking down at Clarice and speaking quickly. When Lecter opened his eyes again, he saw the man pulling her by the hand off the dance floor.  A flush was spread over her face, and he knew it was more than just the exertion.

He threaded through the throng and followed.  He made it to the door just an instant behind them, and was able to effortlessly blend into the sidewalk crowd.  The night was still a child… it was only one in the morning, and he was practically invisible as he tailed them, from a safe distance, to the tiny Fiat Uno.

There was a beat up blue Beetle a few cars down.  It took Lecter only moments and he was inside.  The sound of the engine springing to life was lost in the many noises of the busy street, and he smoothly pulled out into traffic, a discreet three cars behind them.

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Clarice bit her lip.  Her feet ached in her elegant shoes, and her heart thrummed inside her chest.  “You’re sure it was him?” she asked for the tenth time as they pulled off the highway and entered São Paulo proper.

Cooper sighed, his eyes occupied with the traffic.  “Believe me, it was him.  I would know that mind anywhere, and I caught a glimpse as we were leaving to prove it.”

“But…”

“No buts, Clarice.  Now, listen, we’re almost there.  When we get to the hotel, I want you to run to your room and lock the door.”

“But…”

“I know it won’t stop him, but it will slow him down.  Get your gun and go to the bathroom.  It’s the only room in that suite that has no other entrances.  Stay there.”

“Coop, we need to stick together.”

“No, that is the last thing on earth we should do.  If he sees us together, he’s likely to kill us both.”  His voice was sharp-edged and impatient.  He stopped, uncertain how he was going to convince Starling of what he’d felt.  The rage, the need, the love… They turned into the Jardins district, only a few blocks from the hotel.

She sensed that he was deadly serious, and did not speak, but rather wondered.  Would he really kill me?

The answer came immediately.  Yes, he would.  If he thought you had been untrue.  Of course he would.   If he had been betrayed.  He would kill you and eat you and love you, and feel no contradiction in the act.

Though the night was warm, she shivered.

Cooper chanced a look over at her.  In the end, he simply said, “Trust me.  I just have to ask you to trust me.  I know what I’m doing.  This is the only way.”  He hoped she didn’t realize the full force of his words.

A long silence ensued.  They pulled up to the hotel, and the valet stepped up to the car.  Cooper caught her hand and pulled her towards him.  Their eyes met, and she was impaled by the intensity of his gaze.  “I know exactly what I’m doing, Clarice.  Now, go.”

Her hand was crushed under the weight of his grip.  For a moment, in the pain, in the confusion, she saw stars.  Then her vision cleared and she was able to think.  Of all the people in the world, she could trust only three.  And he was one.

“Bless you, Cooper,” she said suddenly, surprised to hear the words leave her mouth.

He smiled and pressed her hand to his chest.  “Now, on three, go.  One, two, three, GO!”

They ejected out of the car like they were on a drug raid.  Cooper flipped the keys to the valet and took off at a dead run.  Starling matched him. Bursting into the lobby, they flew past confused bellhops and past the elevators.  The clang of the stairway door echoed in the empty hallway.

Lecter spotted the Fiat in front of the Hotel Ca’d’Oro and a smile crossed his face even as he passed it and parked the car a block ahead, in a dark alley behind a dumpster.  He gave the steering wheel a quick wipe with his handkerchief and got out, moving quickly back into the street.  A flurry of black and red confirmed his destination and he set out at a brisk pace.

The lobby was deserted save for the bellhops and one lone girl sitting at the desk.  He saw that there was a door to the right leading to a restaurant/bar, elevators, a service stairwell, and no other exits.  He glanced at the desk, then headed into the restaurant.

Though they were done serving food, the bar was still open, and a few older, well-dressed patrons nursed sweating glasses at the dark wood counter. The room was tastefully, elegantly decorated with antiques.  The showpiece was an 18th century clavier, standing on a dais in the corner.  All gilt and glitter, it pulled at Lecter like a magnet.  The warning rope was hardly a deterrent, and he unhooked it casually and pulled it aside.  He was seated on the red velvet bench before anyone could think to stop him.

Not that anyone would, once he started to play.  The notes shone as brightly in the still, cool air as the gleaming brass rails of the bar.  The bartender made a half-hearted attempt to walk over to this stranger, but found himself spellbound by the cascades of pure, perfect music that spilled from the dais and swirled around the tables.

Lecter noticed none of this.  Time had taken on a different quality, and each finger moved slowly and deliberately, the music sheathing him in tranquility.  He allowed his passions to flow and be transformed; taking on the sense of inevitable order that pervaded the sounds he created.  He lolled his head back and closed his eyes, holding this moment apart from everything, distilling his being into pure will.

A fraction of eternity later, he finished the piece, and the last notes echoed in his mind as he stepped down and replaced the rope.  He did not hear the smattering of applause that issued from the bar, and he strolled without a word back into the lobby.  He hoped his quarry had done something useful with his brief reprieve, for it would be the last peace he would ever know.

He stepped quietly up to the desk.  A few words with the girl, convincing her of a missed meeting and an important business deal, and he was in possession of the room number of one Kyle Moore, dark-haired, handsome American traveler.  448.  He breathed his thanks and left a moderate gratuity on the desk, then proceeded to the elevators.  As soon as the doors opened, though, with a quick look that assured no eyes remained upon him, he went instead to the service stairs, holding the door so that it closed behind him with only the faintest of clicks.

He could smell her here, in this motionless air, as he had been unable to do before in the vast outdoors or in the smoky club.  She had changed her perfume, and the even the scent that lay beneath was subtly different than the one he had smelled at the house on the Chesapeake.  She had changed, and he wondered anew what he had wrought with his long-distance surgery.  He ascended the stairs slowly, breathing her in, and breathing in also a different smell, one reminiscent of the dark heart of a pine forest.  That one he filed away to savor at a later time.  He stopped at the entrance to the fourth floor, pushing the door open slowly.  An object on the ground caught his eye.

He picked up the shoe that he had given Starling, and for a moment his heart thrummed and his serenity was threatened.  He stilled himself, then whispered quietly.

“Oh, Cinderella, you should have left long before midnight.”  He tucked the Gucci shoe into the crook of his left arm, and carefully walked down the corridor.

The hall was silent.  He made his way through that thin quiet, arriving at the door marked 448 in numbers of brass.  It was an old hotel, without the modern inconvenience of keycards, he noted happily, and it was only the work of an instant to handle the old-fashioned lock on the door.  He slipped inside as softly as a cat, not even breathing for the first few seconds while he allowed his eyes to adjust to the darkness.

A movement caught his eye and he tensed, one hand holding a bit of blackness, the other a sliver of silver.  But it was only the breeze billowing the sheer white curtains of the balcony.  He relaxed just a little, grateful that he had not been detected back at the club.  For what sane man would leave his window open, knowing that the likes of Lecter were in pursuit?

As his pupils dilated, he occupied himself identifying the sounds of this place.  He heard the gentle beat of a ceiling fan and the soft, slow breathing of a sleeper.  He stopped to make sure.  But his first assessment had been correct — only one person slept here this night.

He wasn’t quite certain how he felt about that.  Certainly it would make things less complicated, but that was a dubious recommendation for this situation.  He had wanted Starling to watch.  But perhaps there were still avenues of that sort open to him.  When he had turned over all the scenarios his mind produced and settled on one, he began his hunt in earnest.

He slithered like a snake through the antechamber, never brushing a piece of furniture or rustling his clothing.  When he could at last see into the bedroom, his eyes picked out the shape of a man lying under tousled sheets, on his side, facing the window.  A soft light, just barely bright enough to see by, snuck in through the sheer panels.

Lecter moved closer, then realized he still held Starling’s shoe.  He set it down on the floor without a sound, and resumed his deadly march towards the bed.  He could see now that the man wore a white cotton T-shirt, and that his arms were folded beneath the pillow under his head.  The angle formed between his neck and shoulders was a beautiful thing to behold.

He was almost at the edge of the bed.  He decided to take no chances and to come from behind.  The Harpy had warmed to his hand and now felt like liquid metal, waiting to flow and merge with the heat of blood.

In one sharp-edged, feral motion, Lecter pounced, the knife-edge aimed squarely at the sleeping man’s throat.

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Cooper’s last glimpse of Starling had been though the closing stairway door, seeing her trip in her absurdly high heels then stoop to take them off.  He wasted no more time looking back, knowing that his very presence threatened her now.  He unlocked the door to his room then flung it closed behind him, turning the bolt although he knew it wouldn’t make the slightest difference.  He leaned back against the door, breathless and panting.  He felt almost as if he were suffocating in the black confines of the room.  His eyes automatically scanned the darkness, searching for a hint that something was wrong.  He found none.

He laughed, a bitter mocking sound.  Isn’t this what I wanted?  I waited years for something like this, I came across continents to set up this chance. What is this sudden instinct for self-preservation now?

But even as he asked himself the question, he knew.  It was the same thing that had stopped him every time before.  It was the presence inside.

As he walked through the suite, pushing windows open to gain some cleaner air, he thought of all the things he had never told Starling.  The things she hadn’t needed to know.  The failed suicide attempts, the reckless chances in the line of duty, the careless street crossings and the miserable, long and lonely hours of knowing that this thing inside him would never let it end.  The torture would continue, no matter what Cooper tried.  The evil would not let him go so easily.

And so he had lived hopeless, looking in vain for an evil stronger than the one he carried inside, that would unwittingly set him free.  He had found it in his first real taste of Lecter, inside that courtyard full of malevolent energy.  But Laura, of all people, had tried to push him away.  Great, he thought, now that’s two spirits I have to overcome.

He had wondered why she would try to stop him… surely she understood what he has going through?  But when she’d kissed him, he knew.  She was reminding him that life could be sweet, even tainted as it was.  But he didn’t have her courage.  He just wanted to drown himself in the blackness until there was nothing left.

He undressed slowly, folding his clothes and putting them on the back of a chair.  He brushed his teeth mechanically, blindly, as he’d done for ten years.  The figure of the demon in the mirror, wearing white boxers and a T-shirt, was too much for him at any time, but especially right now.  He didn’t fight these ordinary rituals… he was saving his strength for the big showdown he knew was coming.  He just didn’t know when.

He walked into the bedroom.  The sensation of suffocating got stronger, more insistent, and he turned on the ceiling fan, letting the waves of air roll across his body.  He crawled into the bed, drawing the thin sheet over him, and put his head down on the pillow, curling up his arms beneath.

He jumped when his fingers touched something cold beneath the pillow.  It was his .45, and he hadn’t put it there.  Nor was he able to move it… when he tried, his arms turned to ice and shooting pains ran up his hands, searing with a cold that was almost like fire.

He willed himself to relax, and the agonizing pain subsided, leaving him simply chilled to the bone.  He felt the first stirrings of real fear, sliding around in his abdomen like ice cubes in a shaker.  But he slowed his breathing down, and called upon all the meditative skills he’d ever possessed in his life.  He forced himself almost into a trance, and his body quieted, lying there in the bed as if asleep, while his mind hovered above, alert for anything.

He began to worry then, wondering what was taking Lecter so long.  Had he gone to Clarice first?  No, that would not be his style.  More likely he was amusing himself by spinning out the cat-and-mouse play as far as it would go, or taking the time to craft a truly memorable death for the man who had dared to hold a thing already marked by him.

He was surprised that Clarice had not seen through his charade, but knew that a madman already occupied most of her mind, a tenant she had finally welcomed.  He wondered if she would still feel the same way for Lecter when he worked his evil on someone she cared for, at least a little.  He hoped that perhaps she would flee, and escape this path of darkness, fly away to somewhere warm and sweet, somewhere safe.  He knew that wasn’t her way.  But still he wondered if she would ever be able to look Lecter in the eyes again.  And then he had no time left for wondering, when he felt the malign presence slip through his door.

Cooper lay there, concentrating, meditating, and keeping up the appearance of somnolence as he felt the prowl of Lecter’s eyes searching the small apartment.  Well, now, this is a test, he thought ruefully.  If I can fool Hannibal Lecter, I must be good.  He most carefully did not think about the gun nestled in his grip.

As Lecter approached the bed, almost painfully slowly, Cooper put his full awareness into remaining motionless.  Completely still.  He felt the hairs on the crest of his neck rise in response to the nearness of danger, but he kept ironclad control.  The air filling his chest with every breath seemed stagnant and he felt like he was choking on dust, but still he did not move.

And then he felt the rush of air and the fury of the predator’s strike.  He could do nothing but watch in horror as his own body twisted in a flash faster than thought.  And then he was staring into endless eyes, feeling the prick of a blade against the side of his throat.  He wondered for a moment why he was still alive to feel such things.  And then he knew, as he felt the heaviness in his hand.  The tip of the cocked and ready .45 was pressed deep into the flesh under Hannibal Lecter’s chin.

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Clarice Starling was huddled into a small, black-clad ball in the corner of her spacious bathroom.  Her arms were braced on her knees, and she held her gun with both hands.  They ached with the strain of holding this position for what seemed like forever.  One shoe lay on the floor next to her.

She tried to listen for suspicious noises, but couldn’t hear a thing beyond the roaring of her own blood in her ears.  Why had she been so stupid, so careless?  What had possessed her to go out for a night of fun in Hannibal Lecter’s new hometown?  And why hadn’t Cooper stopped her?

She paused right there.  That one was the poser.  Coop was the safety freak, the one who didn’t trust Lecter.  The one who had insisted on coming along to protect her from herself.

Among other reasons, she amended, remembering their conversation.  She railed at herself for her insensitivity, for her heedlessness.  He had been nothing but help to her, and she had taken it all, and given nothing in return.  That was not who she was.

She knew, deep down, why she had gone.  It was her last act of rebellion, a sort of bachelorette party before plunging into whatever she had thought lay ahead of her.  And she had been almost aching to be caught, wanting to flaunt her new self in front of Lecter.  And she had not counted the cost to Cooper carefully enough.  She had figured that if he saw a threat, he could get out.  She had depended on it.

Why hadn’t he?  Looking back over the evening, she was jolted by the sudden awareness that Cooper had known, long before the dance floor, that Lecter was around.  She remembered the glass breaking, and his uncharacteristic nonchalance.

Think, Clarice, think!  You’ve nothing better to do.  Look at you, hiding in a bathroom, your only defenses one high heeled shoe and a gun you know damn well you won’t be able to use, waiting for your black knight to burst through the door and kill you or kiss you.  And Cooper’s probably doing the same thing, without the consolation of having started this himself.

But, he did start this, she thought.  He brought me here, not the other way around.  Now that she had the relative leisure to process his strange command, it was truly bizarre.  Almost as if he wanted to get himself killed.

And in that instant, she knew.  She couldn’t have explained how, but a billion bits and pieces coalesced into a sure and certain knowledge.  She was on her feet and running before she had the time to think her next thought.

It came to her just as she was kicking in the door of room 448.  The words fluttered in her mind like moth wings and screamed like lambs.  I have no idea what I’m going to do.

Starling’s foot had already begun to fly when she realized two things.  First of all, the door was not locked or even latched, as evidenced by the fact that it stood open just a crack; and a blow of the force that was currently aimed at it would create a ricochet that would probably knock her down.  Secondly, she noticed that she wasn’t wearing any shoes and that this was really going to hurt.

She was at least able to catch the swinging door with her elbow, preventing it from either maiming her or waking up the entire hotel, but she was left with a stinging, throbbing foot.  Her impetus carried her through the antechamber and into the main room of the suite, hobbling drunkenly into the center of the room.

So much for grace, she thought as she automatically brought her gun up and made a quick sweep.  What she saw very nearly stopped her heart.

Entwined almost like lovers on the bed were dark shadows of the two living men she loved best, stopped and motionless in the pale light.

Which made her instinctive command of “Freeze!” rather pointless, but the habits of ten years were not about to be broken in that instant.  She moved swiftly forward, and saw why they were not about to move any time soon.

Blade and gun.  Jesus Christ, they were going to kill each other.  Neither so much as looked in her direction.

That was it.  The proverbial last straw.  Clarice Starling had not worked, packed, traveled, and travailed so long and so hard to let it all end here.  It was time for her to take control.

She knew that, inside her, something new had been born in this last month.  It was time to put it to the test.  She gave herself over to instinct.

“Dr. Lecter,” she said softly, the sounds rounded and gentled by her West Virginia drawl.  “I believe it is customary to at least offer a tap on the shoulder when you are going to cut in.”

Even in the dimness, she could see him stiffen, and yet he did not move.  Point one for Starling’s side.

“Well, hello, Agent Starling,” he said, his eyes never leaving Cooper’s.  “How nice to see you again.”

“Dr. Lecter, I would be pleased to go through the formalities some other time, but right now I would like for you to put your knife down at the bottom of the bed, and put your back against the wall.  Keep your hands where I can see them.”

“And why would I do that, Agent Starling?  Have you no concern for my welfare?  I’m hurt,” he said, and the coldness in his voice prickled her spine.

“Cooper is not going to hurt you, Doctor.  In fact, Cooper is going to put his gun down at the bottom of the bed just after you put down the knife.  He is also going to put his back against the wall.”

“Oh, Clarice, you’ve got a gun.  How droll.  Do you think you can command me with that blunt little tool?  Do you think you’ll even be able to use it?”

The words brought up all the echoes he’d intended, she was sure, but she maintained her composure.

“No, Doctor, I don’t think I can command you with a gun.  But if you’re so sure that I won’t use it, why did tonight matter so very much to you that you came here, engaging in such rude behavior?”

He blinked.  Starling could never before, in any of her confrontations with him, remember him blinking.  Point two for her side.

In one fluid motion, he broke the stalemate, folded the knife, and placed the Harpy at the foot of the bed, then retreated to the head, sitting straight up against the wall, legs ramrod straight in front of him.  His hands were laid, open, in his lap.  She felt his eyes on her for the first time, and repressed a shiver.

She did not even allow herself a sigh of relief.  “Now you, Coop.”

Wordlessly, Cooper uncocked his weapon, flipped the safety on, put the .45 next to the knife, and assumed much the same position as Dr. Lecter had.

Gun still trained on Lecter, she went forward and scooped up the array of deadliness from the end of the bed with her free hand.  It was an awkward bundle, and she backed up until she could feel the dresser behind her.  She reached her hand behind her back and deposited the gun on the top.  The Harpy she kept curled in the palm of her hand.

“Now, Dr. Lecter, I am going to ask you to go and sit over in that chair.  I want you to give me your word that you will not move from that spot, no matter what, until I tell you.  I guarantee that you will not be hurt in any way.”

“It’s perhaps a little late for that, Clarice,” he said in the mocking voice that had haunted her dreams for so long.  Only this time, she sensed, it was not her that he mocked.

“Just do it, Doctor.”

“As you wish,” he said, and began to get up.

“Stop!” she barked.  “Give me your word, Doctor.”

He looked at her as if he were looking at a child.  “I give you my word,” he said slowly, tonelessly.

She caught his eye as he stood.  She felt like she would drown in the moist shine she saw there.  “I trust you, Dr. Lecter.”  There was nothing more she could say.

He took his place in the appointed chair and looked away.  He looked away.  She could scarcely credit her eyes.  Score three for Starling’s side, but suddenly it had stopped feeling good.

She stood there for a moment, then put her gun down next to Cooper’s on the dresser.  He just sat there, staring blankly ahead.  He would not meet her eyes.

She went to him, and sat at the edge of the bed.  “How many times have you tried this?”

“Too many,” he whispered.  “And no matter what I do, it won’t let me go.  It stops me every single time.”  His face looked like an egg about to meet the side of a bowl.

She put her arms around him and pulled him into her.  She recognized the broken sobs that issued from his shaking body.  So many times, they had been her own.

“Oh, Coop.  Oh, Coop.  Why?” she breathed into his ear as she stroked his hair.

He pulled away from her embrace and looked up at her.  Gently, he took her hand, got up, and led her into the bathroom.  Shutting the door behind them, he turned with her to face the mirror.  The puzzled look on her face dissolved into horror as he pushed his mind out, as hard as he could, to make her see what he saw.

She could not tear her eyes away.  Superimposed over Cooper’s reflection was a snarling, grinning, greasy wretch of a man with long straggly hair and the cruelest eyes she’d ever seen.  It was repellent.  Horrific.

And then she understood what she had not before.  The evil in Cooper was the kind of evil that raped and tortured little girls, the kind that devoured and defiled everything it touched.  This was no gourmet of pain, no aesthete of darkness.  This was raw filth and decay.  The stench of it filled her nostrils and made her eyes water.

She did not, could not stop to ponder why the difference was important.  She knew only that it was.  And Cooper had been living with this infection inside of him for ten years.

She felt him shake beside her, his hand quivering in her own.  As he turned away, the image disappeared, and she was able to look at him again.

“There is no cure for this, is there?” she whispered.

He shook his head.  “I have no hope of one.  I don’t know how much longer I can control it.  And when I can’t…” his words trailed off into silence.

She put herself between him and the mirror, resting her head on his broad chest.  She sagged forward into him, and the unexpected weight of her forced him back a few steps until he actually had to step over the bathtub rim to keep from falling.

She threw her arms up and rested them on his shoulders.  Brimming eyes upturned to his, and she said, “Coop, I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.  But you shouldn’t have tried to use Dr. Lecter.  After all, you made me the keeper of your courage.  Let me give it back to you.”

He started to give her a wan smile but was stopped by the sensation of hot wetness on his chest.  For a ridiculous instant he thought that perhaps he’d bumped the shower knob.  It wasn’t until he looked down to see the crimson gush flowing over the silver blade and felt the pain that he realized what had happened.

The world grew gray, and the last thing he saw was Starling’s face tracked with tears.  He heard her whisper, “Laura, help him now.”  He tried to say something, but only a fountain of blood came out.

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A howl and a heat, a scream and a sigh, and the pressure of lips on his own.  And then he was there, in the room with the black and white floor and the red velvet curtains.  He looked down.  He was dressed in a black suit with immaculate white shirt.  As his awareness returned, he saw a tall mirror standing in the corner.  He walked over to it.  And there, nestled in the silver, cradled by the elaborate carving of the frame, was his own reflection.

A sound jerked him from his reverie.  A phonograph across the room was playing an old 78, and the sound of screaming lambs filled the air.  He crossed the room, smiled, and took the needle off the record.

When he turned around, Laura was there.  She made a heavenly armful as they waltzed to the music of a ghostly orchestra.

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Starling held his body up, locked in her arms, until the last ragged gasp emerged from his lungs.  She lowered him down into the tub, pulled the curtain, and turned on the shower.  The harsh spray of cold water stung her skin as she rinsed most of the blood from her body and his.  Tears fell and mingled with the other rain as she braced herself against the wall.  Her stomach heaved but nothing came up.

She did not know how long she stood there, eyes closed and shivering, until she realized that she had lost something.  At first she thought it was Cooper’s absence that she felt, but she knew that wasn’t it.  Slowly, it dawned on her.

The lambs had stopped screaming.

She stripped out of the soaking dress and laid it at Cooper’s feet.  Stockings, too, came off and she was left naked under the chilling stream.  She rinsed her hair, plunging her head into the spray.  When at last she finally felt clean, she shut the water off and carefully stepped, dripping, out of the bath.

She did not notice the luxurious feel of the soft white towels on her frozen skin.  She dried off and pulled on the terrycloth robe that hung behind the door.  It smelled of pine, fresh and aromatic.  She stifled a sob with a sharp gasp and pulled open the door.

Hannibal Lecter was still sitting in the chair.  He looked as if not one muscle had betrayed his promise.  Only his eyes moved to observe her entrance.

She had never seen him like this.  The crackling, surging energy of his presence was subdued into a small trickle, and she could not read his eyes at all. Her knees began to tingle and threatened to abandon her entirely.  She had had enough of control.

She dropped weakly into the chair next to his.  She searched her mind for words adequate to the situation and found none.  Finally, she said, “I think I’m going to need your help in there.”

He looked at her and raised an eyebrow.  The expression on his face was eloquent.  It stated clearly that he had absolutely no idea what she could be talking about.

Her aching brain simultaneously registered two amazing facts.  The whole interlude had been quiet enough to escape notice, and there was something in this world that Dr. Hannibal Lecter did not know.  It was too much.  It was all so very much too much.  Her elbow went on the arm of the chair, her face went into her hand, and her other arm waved for Lecter to go into the bathroom.  “Just… just go,” she muttered.

He got up and walked into the bathroom.  She drew her legs up and curled herself into a ball, her head between her knees.  When at last she felt the touch of a hand on her shoulder, she sat back.

“I confess that you have surprised me, Clarice,” Lecter said simply.

And then he knelt, wrapping his strong arms around her, and she clung to him as if he were the last rung of a fire escape.  That this moment should come now, like this… hysterical laughter warred with tears and she just shook, letting every emotion pour out of her body until she could be still.

She raised her head and met his eyes.  His face was grave but full of compassion.  “There are some things I need to know,” he said quietly.

And so she told him.  The whole story.

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She looked in the mirror one last time, making sure that everything was in place.  Her hair, her makeup, were all in order.  The strapless silk sheath was that shade of forest green that suited her best.  Or so Hannibal had said, and she was inclined to agree.  It certainly went nicely with the cabochon emeralds that now graced her ears, wrists, and throat.

She reached out a manicured hand to touch her reflection in the glass.  She would never think of mirrors in quite the same way again.  A part of her felt guilty at the joy that bubbled up inside her, but she set that aside as foolish.  Cooper’s death was a victory, in its own way.  He would not begrudge her the happiness she felt.

Hannibal had listened to her story, and had brushed the tears from her eyes with deft fingers.  If he was skeptical of some of the more unbelievable elements, he did not show it.  When she pressed him about it, he met her question with another question.  He wanted to see the picture of Laura.

She found it in Cooper’s wallet.  He took it and stared at it for a long time.  Then he told her about his dream.

He had not told her how he had taken care of the body and she had not asked.  They had enough other things, more important things, to discuss.  It was enough for her that he felt it safe to remain at the Hotel Praia Plata for one more night.  A special surprise, he had said.  And then they would be moving on.

One last look at her reflection and she was ready.

He stood on the balcony, watching the dusk creep up the sky.  The ocean breeze was cool against his skin.  A small noise behind him made him turn, and he caught his breath as he saw her, elegant and beautiful, backed by the fluttering white wave of the curtain.  He congratulated himself on his choice of dress, and on the jewels that sparkled against her alabaster skin.  He offered he his arm, and she took it.  The smell of her could make him giddy.  The knowledge of her could frighten him.  The combination was utterly irresistible.

They enjoyed a fine meal at the hotel’s restaurant.  The salty, steaming, dripping rare beef, roasted over Brazilian hardwoods, was excellent, as was the accompanying farinha and feijoada.  The hotel unfortunately did not have a bottle of Pétrus in the cellar, but the 1981 le Pin was more than adequate… much more, in fact.  He ordered quindão for dessert, and ignored the brief shadow that crossed her face as she tasted the coconut sweet.

“Did you enjoy your meal?” he asked when she had finished, catching her hand and bestowing a kiss upon it.

“It was marvelous,” she said, enjoying the thrill that was running up her arm.  Her head tilted just a shade back and her lips parted.  “A lovely surprise.”

“But that was not the surprise, Clarice,” he responded, his voice carrying a hint of mystery.

She arched an eyebrow and looked at him.

“All good things to those who wait,” he said, enjoying her curiosity immensely.  “I find that a little exercise is soothing to the digestion after a meal. Would you care to take a walk with me?”

She nodded, still unused to him making requests instead of commands.  He led her out of the restaurant and into the hotel lobby.  Putting a hand in his pocket, he withdrew a silk handkerchief and neatly folded in into a long strip.  “If you’ll permit me?” he asked, and tied the blindfold around her eyes when she assented.

They walked and walked, and he spun her around several times to ensure her complete lack of direction.  He amused her along the way with anecdotes from his time in Florence, and she responded with tales of her and Ardelia at the Academy.  She was beginning to be glad he had selected marginally more sensible shoes for her when she heard a bell and felt the unmistakable stomach lurch of an elevator.

She was surprised to feel a strong breeze when they emerged, but knew better by now than to question it.  He led her a few steps further and moved behind her.  She shivered as the warmth of his body pressed into her and she leaned back into him.  His breath was delicious against the skin of her neck as he whispered in her ear.  “My Leda, my Lyra, my beauty crowned,” he said, removing the blindfold.

As if his words were not enough to set her aflame, she opened her eyes to see the vast expanse of the night sky stretched out above them, and the constellations that had once been only pixels on a screen burned in the velvet black of the heavens.  Strains of music wafted past her ears and she tore her gaze away from the stars.  They were on the roof of the hotel, and a string quartet was laboring in a soft circle of torchlight.

“May I have this dance?” asked the voice that had both singed and soothed her soul.  She turned around and settled gracefully into his arms.  They moved together as if they had been made for each other.

She lost herself in the rhythm of the dance, her mind reeling at random over the events of the past month.  She looked up and found it strange that the North Star was absent from the view.  Something of her thoughts must have showed in her face, for he said, “You know, Clarice, the full cycle of the precession of the equinoxes takes twenty-six thousand years.  For the pole star to change from Polaris to its opposite takes thirteen thousand years.  You have taken exactly one month.  You shame the very stars in their courses.”

He brought his face to hers, and their lips met.  Starling felt an explosion of light in her chest, like a sun gone supernova.  She felt the compass of her heart shift, and she knew he was right.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Maria Velasquez was shaking as she tiptoed her way out of the house.  She had forgotten her purse, and had been faced with a real rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma:  would it be better to risk returning for it, or to risk a beating from José when she came home without the money she knew would go towards paying his gambling debts.  The clear and present danger overcame the threats of her employer in her mind, and she had snuck quietly back into the servants’ hall of the grand mansion.  Her heart hammering, she retrieved her purse and began to make her way out again.  Not that the Doctor and his wife were bad people to work for, she told herself.  It was a good job, a very good job, and she would be a fool to chance getting fired.  So it was better to follow their strange directions.

She dared a glance back over her shoulder as she slipped through the manicured garden into the alleyway.  For one frozen moment she thought she was done for, as she spied the Doctor and his beautiful wife on the terrace.  The dying sunlight seemed to catch them in its glow, and the lady’s platinum hair gleamed only a little brighter that the gentleman’s splendid white tie ensemble.  But they were wrapped up in each other, dancing to inaudible music, and Maria breathed a sigh of relief as she made her getaway.

Fin

Copyright 2001, Glimmerdark

Precession – First of 2 Parts

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

by Glimmerdark

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Summary:     Clarice comes full cycle.

Timeline:      Outside canon; SOTL/Twin Peaks crossover.

Rating:         PG

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From the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary:

precession (pre’ces’sion) n.:

1. the act or fact of preceding; precedence.

2. Mech.: the motion of the rotation axis of a rigid body, as a spinning top, when a disturbing torque is applied while the body is rotating such that the rotation axis describes a cone, with the vertical through the vertex of the body as the axis of the cone, and the motion of the rotating body is perpendicular to the direction of the torque.

3. Astron.: The slow, conical motion of the earth’s axis of rotation, caused by the gravitational attraction of the sun and moon, and, to a smaller extent, the planets, on the equatorial bulge of the earth. See “precession of the equinoxes.”

***********

Starling awoke to the shriek of sirens and a blue red blaze through the windows.  A foul, sickly sweet odor filled her nostrils and her mouth tasted like vomit.  All at once, she realized where she was and jerked hard on her right arm.  The bite of the handcuff tore into her wrist and she looked to see herself shackled to the bottom of the refrigerator.  Tucked into her grasp was a handkerchief.  Embroidered in blood-red floss, the initials ‘HL’ stained one corner. Folded neatly inside the square of linen was a handcuff key.  Her left hand moved instinctively to her panties, where she’d stashed her key earlier.  Of course, she found nothing there.

Continue reading

Alcatraz

Posted in Hannibal Lecter Fanfiction with tags , on March 11, 2010 by hannibalvisionsarchive

By Kabochon

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Summary:       Evelda Drumgo’s thoughts before her confrontation with Clarice Starling.

Timeline:         Chapter 1 of Hannibal.

Rating:            R

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I know it’s gonna go down today.

Fuckers thought they were slick, but Dijon taught me well.  Even though he was dead and rotting in hell, he taught me well.  ‘They don’t like us, they’ll always try to get us, better make sure we give as we get, got that?  Fuck ‘em all, do what we gotta do.’

With five kids, damn straight.

I have my ice mixed and am preparing to deliver it.  I have a flight to Grand Cayman tonight and would come back with my cash and go home to my kids.  That’s my plan, but I  know that asshole I was fucking ratted me out.  Could smell it on him when he left my place this morning.  I wish that bastard knew that the condom I gave him was full of holes.  But whatever, he’ll go down soon enough.  Dijon gave me that shit off a needle that trick ass bitch Marsha Valentine used.  I would have killed Dijon’s trifling ass all over again were he not already dead.  I knew he’d stepped out on me, that wasn’t a problem, but when he brought that shit home to me and our kids that’s when I got mad.  I stuck that whore in her chest and gut with a spoon shank–see if you fly off at the lip again, you bitch.  I go down, we all go down.

Because I knew it was going down today, I am prepared.  Balisong in my bra, HIV needle in my hair, a loaded MAC-10 underneath Marquez’s carrier.  I look over at my baby boy.  Beautiful, like his mother.  Sorry that the world I have to show you is so shitty, a fucking prison in itself.  Sorry that Mama may or may not make it out alive.  Sorry that your stupid ass father got himself killed.  But I love you.  You will be all right.

Out of all the pigs I’d encountered, only one I’d met was worthy of respect.  Starling.  She was all right for a white bitch.  Not like the other ones who assumed just cause I’m a renegade black woman I’m beneath contempt.  The reasons why I spit, bite, shit, piss, stick and fight when I’m detained.  But not Starling.  It’s like she knew.  She’s all right.  I never reveal my feelings, learned that shit from Marquez’s father too.  Marsha never knew what hit her, didn’t see it coming.

The Crips were bequeathed to me from Dijon.  Solid backup and worthwhile acquaintances.  They had a gunship waiting and since I knew they were out there, they knew.  The Crips armed themselves.  I kiss my son and rub his head, flicking my braids out of the way.  I knew Starling would hold her fire if she saw me with my baby.  But that didn’t mean I wasn’t prepared to fight.

If she’s out there, I might not have to kill anybody else.  That depends on what shit they come with.  I’m not afraid to die, but you best believe I won’t die alone.

I slip Marquez’s carrier over my shoulders and motion to the guys.  “Let’s go.”

Fin

Copyright 2001, Kabochon

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