A Lesson in Patience
copyright 2000, by bloodandivory
The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling 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
At Doctor Lecter's direction, Clarice entered the suite's spacious bathroom. Only just returned from a series of travel related errands, he'd taken her jacket and ushered her in, telling her to change clothing. He was emphatic that certain cosmetic changes be made to her appearance without delay and Clarice, a novice in the life of a fugitive, could hardly argue.
The largest bathroom she'd ever seen outside of a movie had bright lights and gleaming tiles, white, accented with teal. She was surprised to find it transformed into an impromptu, but well stocked salon. Around the basin, the counter was laid out with assorted combs and brushes, hair clips, dye, shampoo, conditioner, strips of cotton, a spool of the sort of plastic film that clung to itself and sold in packing stores, and a neat stack of thick ecru towels bearing the hotel's discreet logo. One of these was draped over a rococo armchair from living room, which was sitting, backed up to the sink. A pair of silver barber's shears completed the picture.
Unexpected as all this was, the medium sized white and silver hairdryer was the stand out; it was the so0rt that stood on a base and went over your head. Though not surprised at his thoroughness, she thought the blow dryer, thoughtfully provided by the hotel, would have been adequate.
On the seat of the chair, the Doctor had laid out an oversized FBI tee shirt and a pair of simple cotton briefs. She crooked an eyebrow at his presumption, but finally began to undress. The attire was practical for the job at hand. How strange. She'd slept in that tee shirt on many nights, dreaming of him. The last 30 hours swam through her mind with the disorientation of mild shock. In that time, she'd left everything known behind and entwined her fate with that of Hannibal Lecter. She toyed with calling out a comment, and then decided there was nothing whatever to say.
Change completed, she sat, and pondered the proper attitude in which to be discovered, eventually choosing an air of stiff and disinterested primness. A few moments passed while she waited for him to join her, and she found it hard to maintain the feigned posture. The chair was almost sinfully comfortable. She couldn't help settling in and enjoying it.
He appeared, soundlessly, in the doorway, carrying a coiled spray hose, like the kind used in showers. He registered no surprise at seeing her; changed and in the chair, evidently expecting unquestioned obedience. She suppressed a smile as he moved behind her and went about fitting the hose to the faucet.
"If I’m going to be kept waiting this way," she said, with playful hauteur, "you could at least have left me a issue of Vogue. All the best salons do."
Task completed, he stepped back into her line of vision. He had a towel in his hands, and one draped over his forearm. The sleeves of his shirt were folded neatly back to the elbows. Corded muscle flexed easily beneath tanned flesh; the prison pallor was entirely gone.
He regarded her with tolerant amusement.
"Really, Clarice. You must learn to entertain yourself with internal resources."
With crooked fingers, he motioned for her to sit forward. He took the spool of plastic, stripped off a length and covered her shoulders with it, tucking the edges under the collar of the tee. He then arranged a towel over her shoulders. This brought him close enough for her to catch the sent of his cologne, and the events of their single night together flooded her mind and brought heat to her face.
When the towel was arranged to his satisfaction he did not withdraw, but slipped his hand under her collar, gently lifting her hair so that it lay over the protective covering. Though the touch was brief, but she relished it. All day long he had refrained from touching her in any meaningful way. Since leaving her hotel together early that morning before, there had been no indication, no mention of the staggering fact that they'd become lovers.
He had simply made no reference to it, as ever, the soul of politeness. Of course, they had been quite busy, moving almost constantly; picking up documents and cash and making rapid but prudent travel arrangements. Hung over from their night together and bemused at the abandonment of her past life, Clarice had been content to follow his effortless lead. She was impressed and rather chagrined at his facility in organizing their disappearance. It was ever less surprising that he'd eluded the Bureau so long.
They’d had, of course, little privacy to speak of, except for some 250 miles in his car. She'd enjoyed watching him drive. Behind the wheel, as ever at ease, he kept up a fascinating and convivial discussion, but never touched upon intimate topics. She knew Dr. Lecter would never make advances to her in an automobile.
This omission had not disturbed her; in fact she she’d been a bit relieved it. She simply loathed the way some men constantly pawed women they'd slept with, as if to reinforce their ownership. It was not only annoying, but also reeked of insecurity. The Doctor, clearly needing no such reassurance, had been refreshing in his demeanor.
Now, however, they were alone, at least, temporarily safe. Several hours of her own company had allowed her space to examine her feelings. Where she'd expected terror, or at the very least, trepidation, Clarice found excitement and a buoyant lightness. She was happy to be with him, and eager to further explore their new relationship. It was time to alter this practical reserve of his.
Before he could move away, she allowed her cheek to brush against his side and deeply inhaled his scent. He leaned closer and she though he might kiss her. He stopped short of this, however and looked into her eyes; sternness not quite hiding relish.
"We are going to do something to correct your tendency toward impatience, Clarice."
He drew back, all business. She shifted meaningfully in her seat.
"Are you quite comfortable?"
"Not entirely." she said, with a hint of challenge.
"Then I suggest you relax and settle in. You'll be sitting still for quite some time."
"All good things to those who wait" drifted through her head and she returned a rueful smile. All part of the game. He went on, shaping the other towel onto a roll and placed it behind her head, cushioning the chairs back. She leaned against it, determined to finish the game, even if she couldn't win it. Though she would enjoy out-waiting him, in her current mood a war of waiting was surely lost from the start.
Part 1 of 7
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