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walk tall knowing that i'm owning you

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He once told Jack Crawford he doesn’t regret eating anything, but that admission does not make Hannibal Lecter a glutton. Anyone could see Lecter’s self-restraint in his eyes, in the lock of his jaw, his perfectly tailored clothing; every hair in place. Self-control is the medium of which his person suit is made; there’s only one particular area in which he falters, but as he sips scotch looking at the  Florentine skyline --- he permits himself the selfish confession that he’s done pretty damned well despite his shortcomings. He glances at his watch and sets his drink down.

“Bedelia? A few minutes late is excusable, but we can’t be too tardy.”

“Sorry,” she breathes as she fastens the band of her shoe around her ankle, turning her back to him, “Do you mind? It’s too low for me to reach.”

Her words have been completely lost since she stepped out of the powder room. Her gown is the color of the Merlot she favors, subtle lace trailing up to where the dress joins at the base of her neck. It hugs curves, muscles, everything that her body is crafted with. The golden cosmetics she's used on her eyes make them resplendent--- a very tempting mix of ice and fire that could burn him to the bone.

He finally remembers that he needs to breathe. Discreetly smacking his lips, he notices that his mouth has started to water, only slightly.

“Pardon me, what was that?”

“The zip, Hannibal, I can’t manage to reach it.”

He’s greeted with an expanse of muscle and sun-kissed skin, punctuated by two dimples a disturbingly perfect size for his thumbs, settled over a peek of black lace. Heat from her skin diffuses into his fingers, leaving his nerves in aftershock. The zipper just barely seals the fabric over what would be considered distasteful, leaving the line of her backbone open to eager eyes.

“Thank you,” she murmurs, grabbing a gold satin clutch on a nearby side-table. The nights here are still warm, so he foregoes his suitcoat until absolutely necessary; Bedelia grabs a sheer wrap for modesty’s sake. Hannibal knows the expensive scrap of fabric is useless.

“Shall we?” Her soft smile doesn’t reach her eyes (it hasn’t for years) and she threads her arm through his. The motion briefly reveals the gentle teardrop slope of her bare breast and he swallows, trying to will his body into submission.

The cab has been outside for fifteen minutes and the driver is pursing his lips and checking his watch; Hannibal doesn't give it a thought. Frankly, the meat looks tough and rather unappealing. The only thing currently searing his brain is the line of Bedelia’s throat as she tosses polished waves over her shoulder. That is what looks rather delicious. Creamy perfumed skin, that when stimulated, elicits an aria only he and few privileged others have heard. And he’ll hear it again tonight. He’s sure he doesn't really need to make impressions tonight.  He can impress his colleagues blindfolded and bound, a Houdini of nuance. Tonight, he’d rather have magic than illusion. Tonight, he’d rather make her come until she sees the face of God in his own. But he’s no brute.

“You’re quiet,” she states, noticing his silence. During the rides to these venues, he usually makes polite conversation, but he’s too focused on self-control to remember tact. Fine then, he’ll admit he struggles with the self-restraint precept.

Pleasantly surprised by her concern, he shifts in his seat. “I’m simply thinking of the best ways to deal with some of the more banal, irksome patrons we’ll encounter this evening.”

Her brow furrows and her voice goes cold. “At least try to control your whims for the rest of the night.” She once more relaxes into the backseat, and brushes deft fingers over the gold dangling from her ears. He swallows, imagining those fingers wrapped around his cock. He’ll try to check his impulses, but hopefully he’ll fail miserably.

“You look lovely.” At that, her glacial exterior cracks the slightest bit, a flush blooming through on her cheeks. It’s a rare feat making the most powerful woman blush with so few words, and it’s not the first time Hannibal revels in it as memories of crickets chirping, jasmine-scented baths, and his uncle’s late wife surface in his mind. He wonders what she would say of Bedelia.

“I’m glad you think so,” her teeth snag on her lower lip and she brushes an errant hair out of her face with perfectly manicured hands. The gesture is sensual enough in its simplicity that Hannibal squirms and clasps his hands on lap. His companion’s years of clinical observation betray him, and he can see the race pistol fire behind her eyes. She knows. The car stops.

And the games begin.

She’s more flirtatious than he’s ever seen, rare laughs and whispers to the more alluring guests;  at one point he thinks he even sees her lips brush against someone’s ear, the breathtaking (and blushing) young wife of one of his higher-ranking colleagues. She floats through the ballroom, radiant and golden like the Florentine days. She nibbles on sweet hors d’oeuvres and it’s nearly pornographic, all lips and suckling and he may just kill her, turn her into something almost as beautiful, before she lets him fuck her. He’s never been so hungry in so many ways.

Across the room, she’s chatting with a bespeckled, squashed elderly man who is just as engorged on her charm as everyone else. Genial conversation hasn’t been as easy for Dr. Lecter, this night. It’s hard to acclimate to being the puppet, rather than the puppeteer. She twiddles her fingers in a patronizing half-wave. He grits his teeth, swallows everything but indigestable lust, and toasts his glass of champagne to his wife.

Later, when everyone is swilling what’s left in their glass and the crowd has begun to thin, she stands beside him for the first time that evening.

“Did you enjoy yourself?” he asks, looking intently at the de Troy framed on the opposing wall.

She rolls her eyes predatorily over his form. “Very much so. It’s embarrassingly obvious that you did not.” His face warms with anger, but he will not act like a petulant child. If his lower lip sticks out almost-indiscernibly, it’s completely subconscious. “You can’t possibly be jealous.”

“And you can’t possibly think that I’m naïve enough to believe you’re flaunting yourself for consortion’s sake; flaunting yourself like, well, meat. Not very wise when you’re in company with The Chesapeake Ripper.”

Her smile toes the line of a sneer. “You’ve grown spoiled, Hannibal. You think that since you’ve controlled the best of the FBI’s investigative teams, you can do the same for me. I’m not Jack Crawford, I’m your psychiatrist. I know all that goes on in that grotesque brain, including the fact you’ve been imagining me with my legs spread since we left the flat.” Her words are like a drop of blood in a glass of good Riesling, thick and coarse and metallic in something so delicate. He would drink it all.

Still, he won’t give her the advantage of knowing she’s outsmarted him. “I’m not a child. You can’t punish me. In fact, I’ve had quite a while to cultivate my self-agency.” Bedelia’s lips are red and enticing from the wine she was sipping before, and if he doesn’t kiss them soon, he may bite them completely off. And so he takes a firm grip of her wrist and pulls her (surprisingly and pliantly willing) body through the nearest doorway and pins her to the wall.

“I should have killed you when I had the chance,” he murmurs into her mouth.

“You wouldn’t.” Her challenge draws his lips to hers like a magnet, and it’s in no way proper, in no way graceful, all nips and heavy breath and tongues sliding against each other. She palms the front of his trousers and grips him in warning.

They’re interrupted by his phone buzzing in his jacket pocket. She scrapes her teeth against his jugular while he manages to communicate with only short hums. When he’s finished, he threads his fingers through her hair like a grappling hook and pulls her face away from his neck. “The cab’s here. Go, Bedelia.” He takes a moment to straighten himself and follows her out.

After a silent ride to the apartment, the door clicks and he kisses her once more, tongue invading her mouth without permission. He unhooks the upper part of her dress at the base of her neck and drags it down far enough to expose her breasts, apricot nipples already pebbled and swollen. His lips migrate down her neck, and he’s the one using his teeth this time while he tugs at her nipples roughly, rewarding with a short, whining moan in return. He’s almost painfully hard, but he’ll take his time with her; it’d be shameful to waste her after the evening he’s endured. “Go to our bedroom,” he orders, “Take the rest of it off. Wait for me.” He sends her off by unzipping her dress, and she looks over her shoulder knowingly as she makes her way to the room. He wants to make her wait, let the anticipation heighten her senses; he can’t.

She’s a vision, a long line of glowing golden skin in the halogen light, naked with her head reclined against the pillows, eyes closed and somehow peaceful. He unbuttons the top two buttons on his shirt, because although the thermostat says it's 20 degrees, it’s stifling. Bedelia’s eyes ease open and he swears her smirk could be what Dante and Milton were inspired by as they wrote of sin and temptation. Every demon within him is contending against one another: he wants to taste her, but then again, he wants to taste her. She reclines her head back again, growing impatient and bored, and she shudders in surprise at the vice-like fingers on her thighs as he spreads her open and dives in. He doesn’t tease or prepare her with tentative kisses and licks. He scrapes his teeth against her clit and uses two fingers without permission (from her mouth or her body) and relishes in the twinge of hurt that bursts across her face and quickly diffuses. Bedelia is not as loud as the women and men he’s previously been with, but her characteristic heavy breaths and whimpers and occasional pleas to God are much preferred in their understatedness. The muscles in her stomach and thighs begin to flex and quiver, she’s a tight coil ready to snap, so he pulls away. The floor length mirror in front of their bed, used for dressing, caught his eye as he walked in. Rather, the wanton, erotic tableau of her reflection did.

“Get on your knees, look at yourself.” She smiles and complies, and it’s no surprise to him that she likes this…before he’s asked her to be rough with her, pull her hair, direct her. He’s tinkered with the psychological mechanics of it all; she elicits so much control over herself, over her words, over the way she presents herself. In her darkest places, she wants the opposite. And he has wondered (often, though he knows the answer) if this means she has a substantial amount of control over him, without a pistol pointing at his naked form. She settles into position, and gazes at her own face. She preens, cat-like, and sighs.

Hannibal removes the rest of his clothing, moving behind her; his eyes travel down the line of her spine, marveling at the intricacies and nuances of one Bedelia Du Maurier. Years of swimming have given her almost-Olympian deltoids and trapezius muscles. She’s the thinnest she’s ever been since they’ve moved here and he blames himself, but her body is ultimately feminine, a tiny waist that flares into supple hips and thighs. He grasps her flesh there, watching the pads of his fingers dent her skin. “You know, something you said this evening intrigued me.” His fingers move under her to toy with her clit. She chokes out a quiet “Yes?”

“That I couldn’t punish you. But from my perspective-- I have to disagree.” He taps her clit once more, and she moans.

“Then do it, Hannibal.” So he does. He lines up and enters her in one smooth thrust, in tandem with the loud smack of his hand against her. She gasps, the loudest he’s heard from her in this context. He does it again, watching the red aftershock bloom across her skin. Her moan echoes off the walls, and he hopes the tenants on the lower floors hear. He thrusts into her with abandon, rough and punctuated with slaps against her backside. Her eyes are closed and her face contorted in pleasure. “Open your eyes, Doctor. Watch your comeuppance.” He catches her gaze in the mirror, spanking her with his left hand (it is  the hand of the Devil, after all) and rubbing her clit fervently with his right. Her muscles clamp around him and it’s almost enough to send him over, but he can’t; not after what she’s put him through. A few more strokes, and she’s gone. Her open eyes glass over and her orgasm rips through her in waves. It’s a shame her vision is compromised, because Hannibal knows the image he sees in the mirror has seared itself onto his conscious. He keeps thumbing at her oversensitive clitoris, shamelessly wanting her to feel more than she can bear. As her facial expression ebbs back and forth between one of pleasure and one of pain, every carnal sense in him travels in an electrochemical wave down every nerve and he lets go, thrusting into her, once, twice and a final third time.

She falls forward slightly as he slips out of her and reclines into the pillow. Bedelia turns to her side and reaches for the bedside table to grab a cigarette. He’s told her how poor of a vice she’s chosen, but he’s silently thankful now as the way she angles her body allows him to appreciate the blotched, devious insignia he’s marked her with.

He’s always thought the test rather trite, but Rorshach might have been more insightful than he realized.