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Walls had been no obstacle.

The night had been cold and still, with streetlights cutting like razor lines scratched into glass. She had reached his office before she knew it, hiding in the dark on the mezzanine, in the comforting scent of wood and books and leather. She thought she might watch him, safe from behind the bars of the railing like one contemplates a predator in a zoo.

She wasn’t sure what she wanted from Lecter, or how she might go about getting it. But thoughts and memories (of hunting knives and hands at her neck) clashed and scratched at the inside of her head and in there she found no solace. Despite what Abigail knew Lecter had done to her and what he was trying to do to her, he was still and calm in a shifting and cutting world. He was where she sought shelter.

Dr. Lecter had known she was there before she had decided what to actually do or say. He greeted her warmly, with his low clipped tones. His voice—the voice on the phone—was nothing if not soothing, crisp and authoritative. You were obeying it before you even knew it.

“Come down from there” he said, looking up, allowing his lips to curve up slightly. She regarded him, wary, aware she looked every inch the starved animal he was offering food to that she was.

She looked down at him. He was unlike anyone she had ever encountered—foreign, strong and fine-boned, sophisticated. He intimidated her, to say the least. There was something magnetic about him. Some dark immensity to him that commanded its own gravity.

Abigail came down.

As she stepped from the ladder, he proffered his hand--a consummate gentleman. His hand was still and steady, and very strong. He sported the amused quirk to his face that he seemed to prefer when regarding her; she had noticed he otherwise kept pleasantly impassive (except when regarding Special Agent Graham).

Abigail was too overwrought to exercise her normal control. She was raw, and let her voice go scratchy and raw as she confessed. As she confronted him his eyes seemed to glitter; she admired his ability to hide so much of his thought process. He was smooth and coiffed and lupine, and gave her very little back to work with.

She hadn’t wanted him to apologize. She had just wanted him to—to react. Because he had saved her. Maybe she hadn’t needed saving to begin with. On more than one level, he was responsible for the danger that she was in now. She just knew he was the only one who could calm her head.

He took her accusations seriously, smoothing them over without dismissing them. He had a way of talking, a velvet commanding coolness to his immaculately chosen words where it seemed he was shaping reality by speaking. He could make things seem logical, clever, that maybe were insane or horrifying. But in her state, she couldn’t tell. She only knew his words were comforting; a palliative, even as she felt their poison seeping in the broken parts of her mind and heart.

“I’ll keep your secret,” he assured her.

“And I’ll keep yours,” she had said, plainly, looking into his dark eyes. It could have been her imagination, but there seemed to be rich little pools of red in them. Up close and alone, she could sense there was something simmering beneath his marble surface; his exotic bone structure and his heavy lips, with the wide and shallow cupid’s bow. It was hard not to watch his lips move as he spoke. It was hard not to reach out for him—she felt very lost, and he was the only thing she could think of to hold on to, even as he frightened her.

He gave her a knowing, almost affectionate smile, tilting his head. “No more climbing walls, Abigail,” he said. He was warning her to go no further. She smiled at him.

Lecter returned to his desk; he had a loping, calculated grace to his movements. “Give me one moment;” he said, rearranging some papers and books. “And then I will return you to the hospital, or another location if you wish.”

No, she thought, no. She couldn’t just go back, that couldn’t be their whole conversation.

But staring at his back, he couldn’t think of what else to say. She felt frantic and ragged compared to him—unformed. His suit was cool, against the blood of the walls. As he stood and sorted his papers, she watched the muscles on his back pull against the fabric of the suit. All of a sudden she felt very, very alone, and desperate, and all the warmth bled out of her. She shuddered a sigh, and it caught in her throat like a sob in spite of herself.

Dr. Lecter straightened at the sound, and turned. He looked her over as she caught her breath, and cocked his head, and knitted his brow in concern.

“Are you hungry?” he said, after a pause. “You are agitated, and understandably so; perhaps I can—“

There must have been something in her face, her rapid heartbeat and wide staring eyes and frantic breaths. He tilted his head, considering.

“Abigail,” he finally said. His accent made her name, round and friendly in most people’s mouths, seem sharper, staccato. Dangerous. “Come here. To me.” Again, the same tone as before: stating the future, making it come true. Again extending an arm. She approached him, slowly, hands at her side, head down.

He put out a hand on her shoulder; she seized the opportunity to lean forward bury her face in his fine suit, embracing him, her arms crooked up over his shoulders. He froze, but then gently rested his arms around her.

She gently rubbed her face against his chest—he smelled amazing—and pressed her hips into his. She felt him rest his head against hers, inhaling her hair.

At that, Abigail knew she had either condemned or saved herself.

He led her back to a bright blue satin couch pushed flush against a wall, sitting her down. He didn’t say anything; just held her, stroking her long dark hair. Abigail was conscious of the strange feeling—becoming more and more familiar—of being able to enjoy a lush moment while still plotting, still gauging and testing the other person.

She pushed a hand over his chest and shoulder to loop around his neck. There was a lean hardness and strength to him, a warmth to his skin she found intoxicating and terrifying. She almost felt awe; he didn’t seem completely human.

“I can’t—“ she finally said. “What am I? What’s inside me?”

“We cannot choose our natures, Abigail,” Lecter murmured. She felt as well as heard his voice, the low tones resonating in her body, strangely delicious. “But we can refine them.”

“You’ll help me?”

“As always, if you ask me to.”

(He always wanted her to think it was her fault, her choice.)

(And it was, wasn’t it?)

“You can help me…be like you?”

“What do you mean?”

She bit her lip. “To… know what to do? What to say?”

She felt him shift, leaning his cheek against her head. “Of course. You are a profoundly bright young woman. We will start from scratch; it will not take long, I think.”

She leaned back, looking up, her wide blue eyes steady. “But what if—what if I’m just messed up? Just damaged, just like totally damaged forever. All marked up.” She raised her hand to her scarf covering her neck wound. (That was not plotting, she realized, as the words tumbled out. It was fear.)

He was wearing his calm smile again. He raised a rawbone hand—“May I?” he said.

She nodded. He gently untied the scarf, folding it and placing it back in her hand, as he looked at her healing scar. It was red, and raw-looking and angry, she knew. It didn’t hurt much.

(Hunting had taught Abigail Hobbs many things. She knew that when a creature was wounded, it could attract protectors. Mostly, visible wounds attracted predators. Dr. Hannibal Lecter had presented himself thus far as both; time would tell which one he would prove to be. Still, she felt as shy showing him her scar as she did the first time she kissed a boy.)

“It is just a scratch,” he said, his lips curling into a smile that touched his eyes, that showed teeth. “It will heal.”

“No it won’t,” she said, “not really,” She wasn’t pretending at despair. The same hitch caught in her throat. “I’m ruined, I’m--”

“Shh-shh,” he hushed her, and he got that same look in his eyes as when he proffered his help—of considering and then deciding upon an attractive if risky option. He leaned forward, slowly, giving her ample time to protest. She didn’t, although every nerve ending was trembling in anticipation. He bent his head to her neck like a vampire, to just above the cut where her jawbone met her neck. He pressed his lips to the spot. His breath and mouth were hot on her skin, giving her goosebumps. “Does this hurt?” he said softly, murmuring in her ear.

“No,” she breathed, “it’s…” She trailed off. In fact it was very much the opposite. There was something almost unpleasant about his close physical presence, that was overwhelming—like hovering your hand too close to a flame. Almost.

He kissed her scar. For a moment her mind went blank at the sensation of his full lips on her skin, the sting, the softness. She knew she must have tasted metallic, like blood, like the blade that sliced her open raw. He didn’t seem to mind.

She tilted her head back, raising a hand to his smoothed hair, ending up on his neck. “Mmm,” she couldn’t help humming, in the back of her throat.

He immediately leaned back, her hand slipping away to land on his chest. He removed it, but kept her hand in his hands, in his lap. His lightly stroked and scratched with his thumbnail where her thumb met her forefinger, drawing little lazy designs. The sensation was such that Abigail found herself hotly shifting in her seat. He looked chagrined, but he kept stroking, kept scratching, his eyes burning red. “Forgive me,” he said. “A mistake. Again. This is unusual for me,” he said, gently.

But something had uncoiled in her. “You said you would help me, if I asked.”

“I did.”

“Help me. I’m like you, aren’t I?” She pulled him by his beautiful lapels, closer to her.

“I told you,” he said, but his lips were twitching. “No more climbing walls.”

“I’m over this one already, aren’t I?” she breathed.

Abigail couldn’t begin to imagine Lecter’s usual type. She had thought at first he had some affinity or longing for Graham--and maybe he did--but he must at least appreciate women, from the way he touched her, from the way his eyes burned. He must like sophisticated women, she knew, women like Dr. Bloom who were educated and refined and charming and beautiful. Not girls like her, little more than a child who was too smart for her own good and profoundly damaged—jittery and frantic; raw.

She knew she had a certain prettiness—large blue eyes, full lips, dark hair. She realized that probably didn’t matter to him.

She leaned forward, brazen and broken as ever. But Abigail was young, and panicked in the last few inches. He looked her over, speculatively, almost hungrily, and smiled, and kissed her mouth. It was chaste at first, soft. She was the one that opened her mouth to his; he responded then, taking control. He looped his hand round her neck, pressing her to him with a cold possessiveness that took away what breath she had. When his tongue entered her mouth, she couldn’t help but moan as he briefly blacked out her capacity for thought.

He tasted like wine, and pomegranate.

All she could think of was pressing against him; feeling more of him against her, holding her and sustaining her above blackness like mounted antlers.

His other hand pressed on her ribcage, inside her jacket, just below her breast; it moved round to linger at the small of her back, under her shirt, his fingers playing lightly at the small of her back, sending flushes of excitement down. Oh, she thought, oh, as he took off her jacket. He knew what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing. This was not like the boys she had toyed with before, discarding them out of disappointment, from an inability to keep up with her. Lecter was changing her already just from his touch, redirecting blood, rerouting neurons, while she became malleable in his hands. Like dough. Like meat.

Her agitation had left her incredibly sensitive to stimuli. Her body started responding without her approval, rising to his touch, writhing impatiently for more. The sounds she heard herself making were obscene to her ears, but she almost couldn’t bring herself to care.

While he was being more gentle than she expected, a brutality and hunger lurked in his touch. She ran her hands over his chest, his face, holding onto his shoulders. He was immensely strong and hard beneath the thin fine fabric of his wonderful suit, cool-colored against his warm skin, dark eyes, ashy hair.

She started to relax in his arms, and he leaned her back as gently as he had leaned back Dr. Bloom, after he had bashed her head against the rock wall. She opened her eyes as he looked down at her, brushing her hair out of her face even as his own perfectly brushed hair fell down. (The sight of the hair spilling into his face turned her on tremendously. She wanted to see him undone, unmade, like she felt. As both punishment and reward.)

At first she had thought him emotionless. In fact, he was just extraordinarily contained. But his eyes would narrow, his head tilt, his lip twitch—or in this case, curl. The way he was regarding her…was delight, she decided, but it was a private delight, not one to be shared with her. A delight at circumstance, of discovering an unexpected novelty.

“Now, Abigail,” he said, tucking his hair back. “Now is the time to ask me to stop, if you want me to.” She believed him that he would stop, if she asked him to this one time, although his hands still dug into her flesh, although his weight was still heavy and welcome on her, although his breath had quickened and she was rubbing herself up and down him.

(She wasn’t sure who was manipulating who; who was really getting what they wanted out of this encounter. She hoped it was her. She doubted it was her.)

She shifted, the side of her hips and ass grinding against his lap. His eyes flickered as she ascertained that he was as aroused by the situation as she was. This was a strange comfort—although he seemed a monster, a god, inhuman—he was still a man, and could be controlled like a man. She pressed her thighs into his erection, hard even though his trousers and her pants.

“No,” she said, “I am asking you not to stop.”

“Good,” he almost purred, “good girl,” and the darkness in his tone sent all her blood rushing suddenly down. She pressed her thighs together to offer some pressure as relief; it only made things worse. She whimpered,

“Have you…?” his delicacy was almost ludicrous, but she didn’t laugh.

She thought about lying, but thought better of it. “No,” she answered solemnly. “But I take—for cramps, I mean. So you don’t. But no. I haven’t. Um.”

He nodded curtly, jutting his jaw out momentarily in thought. “Very well.” He sat up, carefully, impassively removing his suit jacket and folding it on the back of the couch. He removed his vest and tie, a little of the cold haughtiness returning to his face. The terse efficiency, demonstrating a very adult masculinity, appealed very much to young Abigail. He pushed up his shirtsleeves before turning back to her—she admired his forearms, strong, dusted with dark hair. Without the added structure of his jacket, she could see he was unexpectedly lean.

“Here, sit up,” Lecter said. He pulled her up with the same deference that he had helped her down the ladder with. He ran her hands up her thighs to her shirt, helping her out of it. He expertly unhooked her bra—an ugly everyday thing, she had not expected the night to end like this. The air felt cold and strange on her exposed breasts, as did his eyes. She made to cover herself.

He tutted, moving like lightning to catch her arms before she could cross them, his grip almost hard enough to hurt. He looked her up and down, slightly working his jaw, his heavy mouth open. She was a pretty girl, and had seen how mens’ faces could darken and transform with lust. But there was something different about this hunger—it animated his face instead of dulling it.

He looked up at her, and for the first time smiled as he leaned her back, leaning into her neck, his lean, blunt hands moving to her waist and breasts. She felt she was being fed upon; it was not unpleasant. One of his large hands cupped her breast completely, his fingers rolling and pinching her nipple, making her cry out and jerk against him. He rose, using her momentum to part her legs and nestle his bulk between them. It was all efficient, all utterly purposeful. He moved down, kissing a line down her neck to her breast, taking one in his mouth, working it—nipping slightly, making her cry out again.

Abigail ran hands her hands through his hair, mussing it. Although she knew she had utterly lost control of the situation she felt strangely powerful as she gazed down to see him sating himself on her breasts and flesh, his eyes half-closed, his patrician lips on her skin. He moved down, removing her shoes and pants as quickly as he had removed his own jacket, vest, and tie. She raised her hips to help him.

He placed both hands on her waist, digging hard into her body, before he moved his hands down. He rubbed a thumb experimentally between her thighs, over the thin, dampening fabric of her panties. She gasped, arching her back as he pulled them off. Before she could catch her breath, she lay naked and open before him.

He flicked his eyes to hers. “We must prepare you adequately,” he said, simply, as if she was a piece of meat to marinade, a batter to be constituted from scratch, before he moved down between her legs. She almost cried out in protest—too much, too intense, she couldn’t, she wasn’t expecting—but her words turned to whimpers as he licked her, slowly at first, then not so slowly. His tongue was hot and wet, the texture maddening. He licked up her cunt to her clit, manipulating it with his tongue, sucking, even biting once or twice, softly—which hurt, but only increased her sensitivity to his ministrations and his hot breath on her.

She bucked and kicked at the intensity of sensation, building, coiling, white hot, driving out all language and thought. He held her down, more brutally and viciously with every attempt of hers to move away from his incredible mouth, until it hurt, until he also entered her with his tongue, still rubbing her clit with his fingers—and it broke, washing over her, white-hot, dam of ice-water breaking over her, washing way her agitation, her untasty thoughts, her tasty ones. He kept his mouth on her as she shuddered and clenched, only raising his head when the orgasm had subsided.

She was breathless, overwhelmed, scrabbling her hands on the blue couch. He reached out to place a warm hand on her stomach as a comfort, as he gently wiped his mouth with a handkerchief, which he placed on his suit jacket. He gave her a moment, rubbing her stomach and legs companionably, while she recovered.

She reached out again, to pull him down on her mouth, his body hard and pressing between her legs. The taste had only sharpened her hunger for him. The impassiveness, she was thrilled to see, had left his face. She felt almost special to see so much of him; she saw how he hid around his clueless colleagues. Her own monster.

(He said they would start from scratch; had they already started?)

She fumbled at his pants. She was used to jeans, not trousers, and after a moment he helped her undo them and pull him out. She was still panting, face flushed, mouth open. She was not very experienced, and an erect cock was still a novelty to her. She ran her hand up and down its length experimentally, grasping it, pulling, playing her fingers around the hot, velvety length. She was rewarded not with sounds or exclamation, but by him briefly closing his eyes tight.

He pulled her hand away, angling himself down. She started unbuttoning his shirt; she could do that—or at least, she could, until he started rubbing the head of his cock against her opening.

“Now, Abigail. Now, my girl,” he said, taking her face in his hand to make her look at him. “This can be slow, or fast. Either way, this is really going to hurt.”

“I know,” she said. She could see the thought did not entirely displease him. She wasn’t sure if it displeased her either. “Fast.”

He nodded. She wrapped her arms around him, as if she were holding onto him for comfort (the child only has her parent to run to after she has been punished) and he drove into her, all at once.

She felt like she was being split; stabbed with a knife—it was sharp, and sudden, and there was a strange hot wetness that could only have been blood. She gasped and clutched at him, tears in her eyes. He only started moving when she had caught her breath, and then, slowly, as the pain mostly subsided, and there was only a sharp and pleasant fulness. But she felt the hot splurt of blood on her thighs and knew it was on the beautiful blue couch, and for some reason this made her cry out and twist under him. At first his lip curled at her struggle, and he pinned her hand pushing against him with his own, held her under him, until she cried out—“your couch.”

He paused, and laughed—actually laughed—and pulled out and back, to examine the damage (her) critically. She scrabbled up, looking at the blood on her cunt and thighs. “We’ve ruined it,” she said, stupidly.

He laughed again, softly, not unkindly. “You dear girl. We’ve done no such thing; I am adept at removing bloodstains,” he said, reaching out to push her hair our of her face, pushing her back prone. “Allow me.” Something glittered in his reddish eyes, though, and he lowered himself to her stained thighs. Between the orgasm and the pain, she was abnormally sensitive, and whimpered as he kissed and licked at her thighs, her cunt. Even through the pain, between the sensation and the sound she felt as if she might come again. She heard him suck and swallow; she saw him raise his monstrous head, with blood on his lips, surreal, between her pale legs.

“There,” he said, something obscene in his satisfaction. The taste had released something in him. He mounted her once more, roughly, kissing her harshly so she tasted her own blood. She was so shocked by his unnatural quickness and the taste of blood and wine together that she registered pain before remembered what it was. He moved inside of her slowly, almost tenderly, and she buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms and a leg around him. He kissed her face; if her cries sounded too much like pain he slowed. This wasn’t tenderness, not exactly, but she could pretend she thought it was. She was grateful he was pretending, at least, this deal sealed in blood could have gone much differently.

(She thought of the way he had said “gutted” when he accused her of butchering that man, the way he had shamed and frightened her into submission, into accepting his help. The way she already depended on him, like he engineered, and owed him. And the way that sometimes the safest place was beside the monster—or under it, as it may be, as it was now—instead of in front of it, as prey.)

(But the dark part of her, the part that didn’t plot but savored every wrong second—this part was not new but had been dormant; it almost frightened her with its intensity)

Abigail had been worried she had only had movies to show her how to behave, but instinct was instinct. She met his thrusts without thinking. She matched his rhythms, curling into him, as he wound his hand through her long hair, pulling gently, and not-so-gently. She buried her face in his neck and chest, clasping to him—she then took his own face between her hands, savoring her power, as he held his head, and kissed him. He smiled against her lips as he started moving faster, with less control. His lips were slack; his only sound heavy breathing turned almost to panting.

She had managed to undo his shirt, and had worked her hands up under it, feeling the hard roil of his muscles as he drove into her, the curve of his back into his narrow hips. His stubble scratched her face, the good side of her neck. He started nipping softly at her shoulder, her neck. Abigail felt predatory too—she started clawing at him, out of lust, out of anger. Her fingernails sunk into his skin as she dragged them across his back, scoring him, scratching long lines across his back, his shoulder blades. She felt him bare his teeth into her skin, even as he moved a hand down back between her legs, and she melted.

She came again, clawing at his back, drawing blood as he had drawn hers. He drove into her further, all the way, and it hurt tremendously even as she wailed in delight—and then was still, gasping softly, as he came hot inside her.

She clung to him for a moment, not wanting to let him go. He allowed it for a moment, until he disentangled himself, all icy control again but smiling at her gently.

“Remarkable girl,” he said, kissing her forehead. She closed her eyes, and breathed.

With a few precise movements, he had cleaned them both with his handkerchief and had done up his pants and shirt, smoothing his hair back, before turning back to her.

“Now,” he said, pulling her up, helping her dress herself. “We have sealed our deal in blood. It is time for you to have something to eat.’” There was a subtle emphasis on “you,” as if he had already been fed, and she wondered if he had done it on purpose, and if so, if she had been meant to catch it. He purposefully left her scarf on the couch. She grinned, shy all of a sudden, a little dizzy from sensory overload, as she let him lead her towards his desk chair. He kept a hand possessively on her shoulder as he led her.

She felt her neck as he made some cursory phone calls—yes he had found her, she was fine, he would put her to bed and return her to the hospital in the morning, she just needed a brief escape. She saw, to her profound satisfaction, the blood on his back staining his crisp and perfect shirt.

(Tonight would buy her time, she hoped, to figure out her next steps. She hoped she could continue to fuck him.)

As she watched Hannibal Lecter smoothly manipulate various hospital staff and agents via phone to ensure their privacy, as her body shuddered and twitched out the aftershocks of their encounter, as she shifted, trying to find a sitting position that didn’t hurt—she thought of how he might see the world, and people.

He must see everyone as there for him to carve up and reconstitute into more pleasing shapes for him to consume, whether they were dead or alive. Make you up from scratch, he had said, and the thought wasn’t entirely unwelcome—that he could impart some of that blood-black cool stillness to her fevered state. Just as if he were making a meal of her, that by an alchemy of heat and pressure (touch and words and circumstance) he could bend her to his will as easily as he bent over the corpse she made, as he bent over her on the couch.

The bloody mark on his back from her scratch (maybe even now spreading her own poison) was curved, like a linoleum knife.