She clicked the save button and smiled. Another Lecterfic in the finished pile, another item crossed off the idea list. This had been a good one, too, pitting Hannibal against Jack Crawford in a war for Clarice's loyalty and love. The final scene was wet in more ways than one… she shivered as a frisson ran up her spine. Just imagining that voice could do it for her, no doubt about it.
She checked her email and shut off the computer. A long weekend ahead, nothing to do but write and sleep, and she'd best get started on the latter. It was one of her favorite kind of nights for sleeping… crisp October air, cold enough yet not frigid, with the smell of a storm on the wind. She opened the windows of her bedroom halfway and turned down the lights. Stripping off her jeans and sweater on the way to the bathroom, she brushed her teeth, washed her face, and took a warm flannel nightgown from the hook on the back of the door. She tossed her clothes in the hamper and checked the lock on the front door, then climbed into bed, a copy of Hannibal for company and the soundtrack on her CD Walkman.
She fell into slumber sometime during"The Burning Heart," as she usually did, the battered and much read book slipping from her limp fingers and landing with a soft thud on the floor. The wind howled outside, stirring piles of leaves into vortices of rustling sound. She turned in her sleep just as the first droplets of rain began to spatter on the patio outside.
Her eyelids fluttered in REM sleep, a dream stirring from the dark levels of her subconscious… she was lying on a small white bed, arms pinioned by scarves of silk, drowsily opening her eyes to see Dr. Lecter, sitting in a wing chair on the opposite side of the room, his gaze pinning her down as firmly as the scarves… he rose from his seat, coming to the bed in his cat-like glide, one hand reaching out to stroke the soft line of her jaw, sending chills through her whole body. She was powerless to do anything but murmur, over and over again, "Dr. Lecter… Dr. Lecter… Dr. Lecter…"
Something frigid and wet touched the side of her neck and she woke all at once, her sharp gasp punctuating the darkness. Her eyes flew open and she stared directly into sparks, glimmers, a whirling maroon dance of…
"Dreaming about me?" asked a singular voice, harsh as an old rusty scythe, penetrating as a bullet. The sound of a match striking and a flash of golden light settled into a soft glow as he lit the candle on her nightstand.
Wet with rain, dark hair slicked back over a high, pale brow, Dr. Hannibal Lecter crouched over her body, knees astride her hips, left hand holding a slice of silver against her neck, right hand bringing the match to his lips. He blew it out with a long, slow exhalation.
A cold sweat broke across her forehead and she began to tremble.
"No," she whispered. "You're not real, you're not here, I'm dreaming still…"
He smiled, showing small white teeth and a cruel streak.
"Oh, and you are real?" he asked, trailing the point of his knife from just below her ear to the tip of her chin, lifting her head to better meet her eyes. "You with your sad, pathetic little life, writing your… stories, dreaming your… dreams that can never come true? Sitting alone in the dark with the light of the monitor your only love, the touch of the keys your only… stimulation? If to be you is to be real, better that I am only a figment of the imagination."
She lifted her hand, slowly reaching to touch this vision made flesh. He snatched her wrist with lightning speed and pressed it firmly into the mattress, eliciting a sharp cry of pain.
"Who gave you the right to write about me, my dear? Who gave you the right to tell the world your scenarios, your… exchanges? Revealing the naughty details of my very personal life for the pleasure of your little friends, reveling in every caress, every game, every word?"
He leaned his body against her chest, bringing his face an inch from her own. Baring his teeth, he clicked his jaws together, biting the air so close to her lips that they brushed together in a faint shadow of a kiss. A stuttering intake of air, an involuntary easing of her hips, and he rocked against her, tensing his thighs and holding her more firmly. He straightened his torso, pressing a hand in the center of her chest for leverage, raising up on his arm.
"Ah, yes, I've read your… work," he whispered, sliding the blade into his right hand. "So thoughtlessly rude an invasion, don't you agree?" He began to cut the buttons off her gown in punctuation of his words. "And you of all people should know what that means to me."
"Dr. Lecter," she gasped as he nudged her gown open with the point of the knife. "I couldn't have guessed, I'm so terribly sorry…" Her voice trailed off when she felt the prick of the blade on the skin over her sternum.
"Ah, such a pretty apology," he mocked, reaching into a pocket. "But I'm afraid that simply won't do. " He took out a long scarf of silk and set down the knife long enough to wrap her limp wrists together, then lash them to the headboard. "I think a little quid pro quo is in order here, wouldn't you agree?"
His eyes were swallowing her whole, his voice wrapping her in a tingling veil, his touch as enticing as it was alarming. The kernel of fear that had been smoldering in her center burst forth into flame, and not even the cold wind from the window on her skin could cool its heat.
He swung his leg over her and stood next to the bed, stripping off the bedclothes. With one flick of his knife he cut cleanly through the remaining flannel, exposing her body in the candlelight.
"I could have your liver and your kidneys tonight. Clarice has been begging me to make her something new," he said, his eyes never leaving her face.
She knew it was futile to plead, useless to cry. Who knew better than she, who had studied this man for years? She was going to die, right here in her own bed, the victim of her fantasy… dead at the hands of her own obsession. It had a fearful symmetry, and she was beginning to detach enough to appreciate the dark humor. A smile touched her face, and she noticed a momentary flicker cross his features.
"Dr. Lecter, may I ask you something?" she said in a voice that was scarcely more than a breath.
He lowered the blade and stepped closer.
"Go ahead," he said slowly.
"Is the condemned allowed a last request?" She held her breath, hoping that her arrow had struck him in his only weakness - his whimsy.
"Why not?" he replied. "It will make an amusing tale to tell over supper."
She let out a long, silent sigh, then tried to get in enough air to speak again.
"Before you… before you do your work, would you kiss me? I'd just like to know if it's at all what I've imagined it might be."
He was still, not moving a muscle. The candlelight played on him for a protracted moment, in which time itself seemed to stop.
"No," he said finally, and licked his lips with a small pink tongue. "I will give you this, however. Your writing… it moved me. It was," and he paused, his eyes blinking once, "good enough to care about. That should please you."
She bit her lip and swallowed, hard.
"It does," she said, when she was able, at last, to speak. "Thank you, Doctor."
She closed her eyes then, not wanting to see, but clinging to his words with her last will.
She felt the first cut, a stabbing pain in her neck, and was not able to bite back the cry that escaped her lips, nor could she still the convulsion of her body. Her eyes opened of their own accord, and she found herself once more staring into his.
"I beg you to believe me, I would never, had I known…I would never…" and he drank truth from her eyes, and a regret borne not only of fear.
"I believe you," he whispered, his face so close that she could feel his breath on her lips, so hot, so hot, when the rest of her body was growing so cold.
And then he was on her, his teeth sharp on her lips, his tongue wet in her mouth, and it was good, it was thrilling, her whole awareness centered on her mouth, no pain… just all of life in a kiss like she'd never dreamed.
And she would never dream, or kiss, or wake, again.