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Whispers End

copyright 2001, by bloodandivory

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling and Paul Krendler 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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I wake alone. As always.

The drugs have worn off now. I have back the ability to examine what I do... or did... with some critical facility.

I don't want to.

I remember everything… every touch, every taste, with terrible clarity... his drugs do not affect my memory. And I cannot say that they affected my feelings, though they did affect my behavior, of course. No matter what I felt... what I wanted to do, I could not have done... that, if I hadn't been drugged.

Could I?

I ate human flesh.

And I enjoyed it. Hell, I reveled in it.

I look at the nightstand in the dim light. My car keys lie there. John Brigham's gun and clip lie there, too. I have not used them.

Am I damned now?

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

He saved my life. And without the restrictions I'd have imposed on him when the evening began.

I could leave here now. I wouldn't betray him back to another hellhole like Chilton's. No matter what I couldn't do that. If I had to, I'd rather kill him than see him chained up again.

Except that he's chained me more effectively than any metal. I am a prisoner, just as surely as if I were caged like he was.

I can't back away from the truth... I've wished for this... not this, exactly, but something like it. Ever since Baltimore I've known there would be a day I would face Hannibal Lecter without a barrier between us, and that I would not be afraid.

But I am afraid.

Not of him, or his control.

I am afraid of myself.

The taste of Paul Krendler lingers on my palate. I ought to want to vomit. I ought to be appalled.

But I do not and I am not.

I ate my enemy. There is some rightness there I can't quite encompass.

I am sleepy. Of all places on Earth, in Hannibal Lecter's house, all I want is to bury myself in the crisp clean sheets and erase my angst-ridden mind.

I sleep, gratefully.

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

I could leave now.

But where on Earth do I want to be, other than here?

Eventually, I turn again, in the luxuriant bed and am totally comfortable... completely at ease. Whatever I have become will prove itself out another time and I cannot change it now. As I fall asleep, face against the soft, silken pillow, I wonder, still without fear, about my future.

Our future.

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

He summons me again, in that particular way. I know he will have the light on... so distracting, yet so focusing at the same time. The drug has not come yet, but I know it will... so subtly and seamlessly that I will not know he's done it till afterwards.

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I have told him everything. The vital and the trivial. He's relished some, endured most. But he's experienced me as completely as mere conversation allows.

There is more to remember, but try as I do, I can’t catch it. Whatever it is, though, it is mine, and I want it back.

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

He takes my hand, as gently as a father.

But, thanks to him, I no longer need a father.

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

It has been some time now. I float through life because I am afraid to change things. Yet I know I can.

His attention is sweetly comforting and I hibernate in the enveloping warmth of his care. Something is happening to me, something that I welcome, but cannot discern.

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

I join him. He is pleased with me. We have laid my father's bones to rest and made sham of my allegiance to betraying institutions. My abandonments are healed, my disappointments accepted. We have examined my life, inner and outer, finding both lacking.

I did not want to do this, but having done it, I do not regret. I am freer, lighter... almost entirely without burden.

For the first time in my life I am free.

To choose.

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

He draws me to my accustomed place and begins.

I am instructed to look into his eyes, but not to see him. Not if I need to look at something else. 

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

Tonight I have no such need. I look directly at him, in a way I haven't before. Empty of baggage, without sidetracks and impediments, and I wonder what he sees. Is he bored with me and my endless crutches? I have sensed him bored. If anything could pull me from the drowsy complaisance he's created, it is that tired, patient look.

When quite myself, I have never bored him. And it's dangerous, yes... that is how it began. 

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

But I do not need to bore him. I need never bore him again.

The subtle and familiar paces begin and I am taken, will-less, into that terrible, calm space where nothing bad can touch me.

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

It is so safe here.

But it is also a sort of living death. It has been in my mouth to say so a hundred times, but muted, I've refrained. Tonight, though, I rather lack the strength to dissemble, than possess the power to play along.

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

“How are you feeling, Clarice?”

“Frustrated.” I pause a moment, waiting for reaction. When there is none, I bravely carry on. “I feel trapped. I want to get on with my life.”

“Yes...?”

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

I cannot tell if it is eagerness or dread in his voice. Inwardly, I curse his drugs, and him, for the very first time. It seems terribly important, in this velvet calm, that I know the difference.

I need to know things now.

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

I need desperately to know.

Summoning all the will left to me, I feel a little break from our contrived yet comforting tradition.

“I'm unhappy.”

An arched brow; an amused expression.

“Are you?”

I'd like a challenging expression on my face but I am too relaxed to let it grow there. Somewhere beneath the subtle haze, I feel a flare of anger.

“Yes.”

It is entirely outside our arrangement, but I squint at him in the now unfriendly light.

“That hurts my eyes. I don't like it. Turn it off, please.”

For a moment he doesn't speak and in that quiet I know I've surprised him. The strange, uncomfortable triumph I feel is muted by the other feelings I'm suddenly experiencing.

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

“Turn it off? “ his tongue darts out and licks his red lips in delay, or anticipation. I want to know which, and that furthers my resolve.

“Please.”

“Do you know what you're asking?” As always, he is composed and calm, a manner I find increasingly infuriating.

I want to shake him at his roots.

Just as he has shaken me.

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

“Am I permitted to know?” There is some challenge now. My voice is stronger.

“Only if you knew already,” he says with a smile.

“I am tired of this, Doctor Lecter,” I say with a shrug. The title chafes, as it has these many weeks. But I use it here deliberately. Indeed, with acerbic irony. “I am growing bored with this.”

“I see. You wish to move on.” He steeples his fingers, as I've seen him do a thousand times. “And are you ready for what lies ahead?” He is all challenge. “Are you capable, Clarice?”

“I don't know,” My lips dry, trying to form that which I am not permitted to say right now. And after a struggle, I produce it. “If I am capable, how would I know? Can I ever know, Hannibal? Am I allowed?”

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

He smiles, and a laugh, genuine, delightful, and, perhaps, a little bit relived, reaches me. I smile, in turn, at the sound. After a moment, the single brightness dims. After a longer time, vital and tremulous, we sit together as equals.

“Of course you are, Clarice. If nothing else, I hope you’ve learned that you are powerful. A warrior. You may take what you want.”

“Then I want back what you’ve taken. Let's say you been holding it from me... for me. It's time to give it back.”

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

He looks composed... maybe even resigned. Now it is not the gentle haze that prevents me from comprehending. Now I remember, and the distraction is much more vital... more physical.

“You remember what you wish, Clarice, but not more.”

It clicks into place, then, like justice coming home.

I remember, not just within his strictures, but everything. And it comes with an earthy sense of possession, and passion. It is mine, entirely. I own it. True, I may discard what I wish, at will. But it is infinitely more precious, more vital that I may now keep, and treasure, what I love.

To thank him would be trivial… gratuitous, so I hold my tongue.

But I am infinitely grateful.

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

“So, what do I do now?” I ask, limited breath stealing some of the force from my words. I am awash in sweet, passionate memory.

How can he have thought to protect me from this?

I bared myself to him… an ultimate act of trust. And he responded, as I knew he would. I see what I have been missing. Doctor Hannibal Lecter coming to me, needing to taste my flesh. I see him, at my breast. I feel him come to me, kneeling before me, taking what I so joyfully offered.

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

My body, ten steps ahead of my mind, flushes hot, blood rushing to color skin that has been pale for far too long. Maybe for my whole life.

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

He looks at me quizzically.

No.

Searchingly.

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

“What do you remember, Clarice?”

Of all times, can he not read me now?

Impulsively, with a lack of restraint that is entirely my own, I finally go to him.

“What do you remember?” I ask, hungrily. Entirely myself now, I am starved to touch him. I think, fleetingly, that is has been this way since Memphis and before, if I'd only been able to admit it.

“Everything,” I say, my mouth terribly, wonderfully close to his.

“I remember everything, Hannibal.”

FIN

copyright 2001, by bloodandivory

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