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Indulgence

copyright 2001, by Little Starling

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, Ardelia Mapp, and Jack Crawford were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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PART 1


"Lecter, you frighten me," I murmur, leaning back into the rickety old chair. It creaks under my weight, but I know it will hold me up. Around me, the basement office breathes in and out, in and out, reminding me that I, too, must breathe. But breathe what? The air down here is musty and stale, smelling of rotten papers and nostalgia. He is still on my wall, relegated to the bottom left corner, his maroon eyes watching my every move. Good evening, Dr. Lecter, I think. Wherever you are tonight.

It is growing late - the hours have been passing like minutes, while I, absorbed in my work, breathe dust and shadows. My stomach is growling and I realize vaguely that I haven't eaten since breakfast. It is now eight p.m. and I am not yet ready to leave. Not even hunger will drive me out of my dark cocoon; I like it here too much.

For most of my colleagues, this ugly little room would be more of a prison cell than a nest - for me, however, it is very much the latter. My property surrounds me - pens, clothes, bags, books... So many books... They are not all mine, however; the pile beneath the photograph are simply on loan. For how long, I don't know. But he will be back to claim them. To claim me. The thought surfaces eagerly before I shove it back down into my subconscious.

If I saw him again, I would shoot him on sight.

No, Hannibal Lecter will not be back for me. There is a strong likelihood, in fact, that he won't even be back for his books - but either way, I intend to hold them for him. They were taken from his cell after his escape, and after much wrangling, came to rest in my office, still ironically referred to as Hannibal's House by the witty pricks in this place. But fuck them all. They only say it because, regardless of who really lives here, they're not welcome. I've locked them out.

But then again, perhaps they are right and he does reside here, at least in part. As much as it this is my little nest, so much of him is here also, physically and in essence, that his absence is almost inconsequential. Almost. Perhaps what is here of his has been simply left behind, like the shucked shell of a cicada in the summertime. Will he return for it? I don't know. Maybe the real question is: if he requested it, would I take it to him? That, I think I can answer - yes.

Although it has been over a year since we parted company, he is as present in my thoughts as he is absent from my life. "Thirty seconds of every day" - hell no, at least an hour. I would hesitate to call myself obsessed by Lecter, though I know many who are. The word has a certain connotation of being uncontrollable; I am perfectly in control. Of my thoughts, of myself and of my space. Because he is in my head does not mean I cannot control him there - I do not always think of him.

Some days, I hardly think of him at all.

Still, the question nags at me - I have to wonder - does he ever think of me? Wherever he might be now (which is as likely to be in Europe as it is to be next door), I wonder whether I ever cross his mind. Even in passing. Perhaps he sees a woman with my long hair, or my "beauty spot" (in that position the French call 'Courage', for which reason I am vainly reluctant to have to removed). Or he will, perhaps, meet someone by my name - at the theatre, the opera, in a restaurant, and remember that he once knew me. Too well, and not well enough. Then again, it's more than likely that he simply doesn't think of me at all.

How that would infuriate me! After the devastation he has wreaked upon my life, upon my mind - and not even devastation so much as an utter shaping of it - how dare he forget me? More than a decade after our first meeting, I am a different woman for having known him. I cannot begin to explain how, I just feel it. I have learned to appreciate the beauty in this world, seek it out. I have been known to attend the opera (and not understand a word of it) and classical concerts (looking ravishing, looking for him). Last weekend, I attended an art exhibition downtown - it was on the various interpretations of Dante's Inferno, most intriguing.

Things like that, Hannibal Lecter has opened my eyes to. If he knew of his - influence - upon me, he might even be proud. I want, stupidly, to share with him my fascination at this new world before me, and feel a certain, inexpressible emptiness all the while that he is not here to guide me through it. There is so much in this world I had never even considered before - art, poetry, music! - and now he has abandoned me.

No, I'm wrong, he was never with me from the beginning.

Such must be my penance for letting him go - that he will haunt my mind like a shifting shadow. Am I obsessed with him, after all? No... Yes - no, it is not obsession. It is late, I am tired of working; this is the only reason why he is in my thoughts tonight.

Still, it frightens me that I think of him at all. Doctor, where are you? I think again, resentful that I should even care like this. An answer drifts back on the echo of that question and dammit, I still don't know. The papers in front of me are useless; they belong to somebody else, another stolen life. What do I care about another cold stiff in the morgue? Every day, there are more, and every day, I fight to restore them, wreak vengeance for the wrongs done to them. All the time wondering, isn't it time I had my own vengeance? But that would be self-indulgent and I have never been one to indulge.

Everything of Lecter is in the filing cabinet behind me, and in his pitiful mug shot on the wall, and in his books. Right now, I want nothing more than to go over to those books, open them up and pore over the pages as he must have done throughout those eight years he was incarcerated. But I control myself. Or my fear controls me. Either way, I cast a final glance at them before standing and stretching languorously.

Then I gather my belongings and head for my Mustang.


FIN

Part 1 of 10

copyright 2001, by Little Starling

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