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Quid Pro Quo

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Hannibal Lecter has a 9 AM appointment; he receives his visitor dressed exactly as he has been for the last six months – in his gray prison jumpsuit. He stands when Dr. Frederick Chilton enters, clasping his hands behind his back. Dr. Chilton still uses the cane. He has been unsteady since his dis- and re-embowling. More so since he was shot in the face.

"Frederick," Hannibal says, inclining his head minutely. Dr. Chilton scowls. Lecter's enduring politeness irritates him.

"Good morning," he spits, unwilling to look less courteous than Hannibal. He hobbles to the card table that has been set up for him just out of reach of the circular holes in the glass wall of Hannibal's cell and takes a Macbook from his bag. Hannibal lifts his chin and follows Dr. Chilton with his eyes as he spends several minutes hunting for an outlet for his charger. Eventually he locates one and returns to settle into his folding chair.

"I trust you are well, Frederick," Hannibal says mildly.

"I am speaking to you, but otherwise, yes."

"Where were we?"

Dr. Chilton opens his laptop and clicks around. The card table wobbles with his every movement. He considers. "Muskrat Farm."

"Ah. You have an outline from the police reports, I assume. What can I do to fill the gaps?"

"You told the police that you killed Mason Verger." Chilton peers over the top of his laptop screen.

"Indeed. And took great pleasure in it. Quite an unpleasant man. Presumptuous." Hannibal turns on his heel and begins to pace slowly. His cell is comparatively huge, but he knows the exact number of steps from one side to the other, and it is not enough for his liking.

"He was found..." Chilton removes a sheath of papers from the bag and rifles through them. "Drowned. And partially eaten, by his own eels, in the pool in which he kept them."

"Yes, that sounds correct."

"You do not recall?"

"Dr. Chilton," Hannibal says, approaching the glass and causing Chilton to scoot backwards in his chair in spite of the barriers between them, "the number of God's children I have removed from this earth is...rather large. Occasionally I deign not to keep the details of one in particular in the front of my mind. I have other things to think about."

He had not, of course, been present at the death of Mason Verger. But he was aware that Chilton, a nervous and easily excited man, viewed him as some kind of devil, a literal emissary of evil, and he found pleasure in playing up to this image. He liked sweating Chilton. It relieved his boredom somewhat.

Chilton, looking harried, is pecking away at his keyboard, likely quoting him verbatim for the no-doubt dreadful potboiler he is writing about the Chesapeake Ripper case. Hannibal has lost track of the most recent title. He is sure whatever Chilton calls it, it will be lurid and embarrassing. He sets one track of his mind to devising a way to end these tedious interviews permanently, preferably as soon as possible, preferably before this one is over.

"Let us move on," Chilton says. "The masses want a human monster, a creature they can both fear and...admire. Perhaps love. Women do persist in writing to jailbirds for their hands in marriage even in this day and age."

Hannibal stops pacing and waits for Chilton to continue, fixing him with an unblinking stare.

"Personal details are what will sell this book. Can you tell me anything about...your love life? The women who shared their bodies with a killer, unknowingly taking their lives in their hands?"

"Frederick, how tasteless," Hannibal drawls, quirking an eyebrow at him. "Surely you don't expect me to disclose anything unsavory about the good Dr. Bloom."

Chilton's eyes widen and he types furiously, then holds down the backspace key with apparent reluctance. "No, of course not."

"She'd have your testicles on display in her office with, as they say, a quickness."

"Yes," Chilton mutters.

Hannibal comes close again. "A very handsome woman," he says silkily. "As lofty as the concerns of your academic mind may be, I am sure you've noticed her charms."

"Yes, well. She has switched teams. Or rather, she and I now play for the same team."

"Dear Alana. You must have made some attempt to attract her attention. No luck?"

Chilton is a man quick to pick up on mockery, from long familiarity with being mocked. "What did you do to get it?" he asks, annoyed. "What draws an intelligent woman to a psychopath?"

Hannibal straightens just a little. "I am sure I don't know," he says primly, displeased with being called a psychopath. "Perhaps good food, good conversation, good sex."

Chilton shifts, looking as though he doesn't know how to feel about the mental image Hannibal has created with these words. Sensing an opportunity to twist the screws, Hannibal watches him carefully, breathes deeply through his nose to discern Chilton's true feelings: arousal. A truly vile man.

"Is it thinking of Dr. Bloom in a compromising situation that is exciting you, Frederick?" Hannibal asks, his voice quiet enough to force Chilton to lean forward to hear. "Or are you seeing me?"

Chilton wrinkles his nose. "Now who is being tasteless?"

"But you see the appeal." Hannibal is enjoying himself enormously already. "I can...smell it." He flares his nostrils to illustrate his point.

Reddening, Chilton snaps his laptop shut and begins to pack up.

"Leaving so soon?"

Chilton begins to rise, stops halfway up with a look of discomfort, and changes his mind. Hannibal knows why. He runs a finger casually around the inner edge of one of his cage's holes, not looking at Chilton.

"No. We are not finished. I simply wish to continue using the tape recorder." To prove it, he takes out a small microphone and clips it to his lapel, placing the body of the device in his pocket.

"Very good. Now, tell long have you wanted me? I have seen you looking Will Graham over"—it's true, and it rankles him—"stealing little glances...I believe you hit upon the correct expression when you described playing on the same team as our Dr. Bloom. You are a switch hitter, Frederick," he says, enunciating each consonant clearly.

Chilton's face is redder and redder. "You are here for the duration, Hannibal. I am still the director of this hospital. I can make things very unpleasant for you."

"If you don't like what you're hearing, you should go. Please, save yourself the aggravation," Hannibal says dismissively, turning away. "Perhaps I will be in a more cooperative mood tomorrow. One can never tell with psychopaths."

He waits. He hears the scrape of the folding chair against the floor, the tap of Chilton's cane.

"On the other hand," Chilton says, much closer behind him now, "there are things that can be done to make the rest of your stay...more comfortable. I hold that power as well."

So predictable, so easy. Hannibal turns his head slightly and sees that Chilton is standing by the slot through which his meals are passed, one hand on the glass, his hopelessly cheap slacks tented over his erection. Hannibal approaches slowly, deliberately, savoring the look of wariness and desire on Chilton's features.

"You are...a very...alluring man, Dr. Lecter," Chilton says, his hand drifting towards his fly. "In truth I have no trouble seeing how you ensnared Dr. Bloom...and Mr. Graham. Do not bother denying it, you are not the only one who can pick up on telling little glances."

"No, indeed," Hannibal says softly, adding this remark to his mental tally of Chilton's offenses. He is capable of making his voice deep, lulling, hypnotizing to the weak-minded, and he employs this ability now. He leans his elbows on the interior side of the tray, putting his face in the range of the slot. He looks up at Chilton through his lashes; Chilton smells of crude lust and flop sweat. Oh dear, it's almost too amusing. Hannibal would feel sorry for him, if he were capable of such a thing.

Slowly Chilton unzips his fly and takes out his cock, hesitating, stroking himself, keeping his eyes on Hannibal. Hannibal can see his thought processes as clearly as if they had been diagrammed on a chalkboard, weighing the risks against the rewards, the part of his mind that is constantly vigilant for jokes at his expense. So insecure, Frederick. Live a little. Take a chance. Roll the dice.

"What can you do to scratch my back if I...scratch yours, Dr. Chilton?" he asks, his tongue playing over his lips in an imitation of avidity. He knows Chilton is not quite stupid enough to actually enter his cell (if only), but he still holds the upper hand as long as he's this close. He may not be able to parlay this into an escape, but it could be very sweet revenge if he plays his cards correctly, even at the cost of a few niceties.

"I can do anything I want," Chilton breathes. Wretched little egomaniac. "This is my domain. Books, an internet connection, more phone privileges, better food...I know that would please you. Perhaps even conjugal visits." His leer both sickens and delights Hannibal.

"Very tempting..." He briefly debates how long he wants to draw this out and how far he will go to do it. A little bit of unpleasantness may go a long way towards entertaining him in the long years he may be here. Reaching his decision, he extends an arm through the opening and lightly caresses Chilton's erection from base to tip. Chilton shudders and leans his arm against the glass above the slot, closing his eyes. Hannibal wants to rip his cock off and hand it back to him, but a better idea has occurred to him.

"Closer," he whispers low in his throat. Unwisely Chilton moves in further, sliding the tray all the way in so that his cock is jutting through the slot. Hannibal forces himself to buy time, wrapping his fist around Chilton's erection and pumping slowly, able to remain expressionless externally while internally choking down his disgust and loathing.

"I want to see you," Chilton says hoarsely. I was afraid of that. Hannibal keeps his hand on Chilton's dick and uses the other one to gradually unzip his jumpsuit. He could use the control he holds over his blood flow to give himself an erection, possibly giving more realism to the charade, but his dignity simply cannot bear it. Chilton is breathing hard. Hannibal looks up to see Chilton watching him; he can practically feel his eyes crawling over his body. He represses a shudder.

Instead he stares into Chilton's eyes and deliberately wets his lips with his tongue. Unconsciously Chilton imitates him. I can play this one like a fiddle. Perhaps I am the Devil. He smiles at his private joke. Chilton takes this as some sort of signal.

"Your mouth," he urges, panting. The moment has come. Hannibal tilts his head down to look up at Chilton from a lower, more seductive angle and snakes his tongue out of his mouth, just barely sliding it against the bottom of the head. Chilton strains to press himself further towards him against the glass—and Hannibal snaps his jaw shut on the air just ahead of the tip of Chilton's cock. Chilton yelps and loses his balance, and to Hannibal's glee he actually falls on his ass.

Oh, I may live to regret not seizing my chance to bite it off, Hannibal thinks ruefully, but I might be here a long time yet, and leaving it attached increases the odds that I will someday regain the privileges I am about to lose.

On the floor, Chilton is spluttering, his face achieving new shades of crimson, his cock still poking dejectedly through his open fly. He seems to be too angry to form words. Hannibal smiles at him pleasantly and zips up his jumpsuit with a little flourish. He retreats to his bed with a spring in his step and picks up the book he's been reading as he lays down.

"Now, please, if you don't mind," Hannibal says, knowing he can't possibly dig his grave any deeper, "go take care of that somewhere else. Perhaps your secretary can open my mail for a few minutes so you can stimulate yourself to the recording. You may even have a fine new epilogue to your book: 'The Man Who Almost Fucked the Chesapeake Ripper.'" Chilton never does find the words, and Hannibal does not look up when the heavy door slams hard enough to bounce and slam again. He licks his fingers with his red tongue and turns the page.

A few hours later his bed, books, art supplies, and toilet are removed, but Hannibal has the satisfaction of the last laugh: in a matter of days, without having shown his face in Hannibal's presence again, Dr. Frederick Chilton goes into early retirement and cedes his office to Dr. Bloom. The book actually does quite well.