I am going to write Hannibal Lecter a bit differently for the purpose of this story. He will be slightly out of character, so prior apologies for that. I can't promise frequent updating for this story. It's winter break for me and I've finally had the time to sit down and just write without some sort of due date on the horizon. However, I am attached to my character and her truth and the plot I'm still working out, so there's a good chance I'll keep putting effort into this, if anyone wants more. I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1- Week 1
Monday, 1:57 PM
"How many weeks do I have to go?"
Detective Lawson glanced at me. She attempted to offer a comforting smile, but she was too severe of a woman to pull it off. In the time that we'd been acquainted with each other, I had never seen her with makeup on, which might have softened the sharp contours of her face; nor did she ever take down the tightly-wound bun she kept her ash-brown hair in, which aided in the tightening of skin across her high cheekbones.
"Generally, it's a six week process. However, considering the...uniqueness of your case, eight weeks is mandatory."
Closing my eyes, I nodded.
The elevator dinged, and the doors parted.
"Are you doing alright?"
"Yes," I lied, eyes flying open.
I followed her as she approached a desk.
I probably should have been paying more attention to my surroundings, considering she wouldn't be here to take me to the remaining sessions, but my mind had difficulty completing this task.
I halfheartedly listened to Detective Lawson relay my information to the secretary. My eyes wandered over to a stack of magazines and newspapers. The top newspaper's headline read Chesapeake Ripper Strikes Again.
Releasing a deep exhale, I slipped my fingers beneath the coat sleeve of my opposite arm. Upon running the pads of my fingers over the long, puffy scar tissue, my nails sank down into the skin.
A low whimper escaped my throat. I coughed, in an attempt to disguise it.
My head snapped up at Detective Lawson's voice.
Inhaling sharply, I retracted my nails from my skin and formed a fist.
"Dr. Lecter is ready to see you."
She led me to a door. One hand went to rest on my elbow.
"Are you okay to do this? You've been handling this whole ordeal rather well. A part of me is a little concerned."
"You don't have to worry," I assured.
She dropped her hand and smiled. A real one, this time.
"Call me when you're finished with the session and I'll pick you up. Also, try not to be intimidated by Dr. Lecter's frankness. He's already read all the important details regarding your case. Eight weeks may seem like a long time, but for him, it will be short. He will attempt to cover a lot of ground."
"Good. I want to tell you how proud I am of the progress you've made," Lawson acknowledged. "Think of this as a final stepping stone for moving on to the rest of your life."
I nodded, unable to think of a proper response. While I appreciated her compliment, I didn't fully believe it. In instances like these, I found it best to remain quiet and keep the insecurities locked away. Ungratefulness was such an ugly visage.
We exchanged a final goodbye before she departed.
I knocked on the door. The light snack of water and goldfish crackers earlier this morning, made my stomach clench and rumble. Thankfully, this was the only discomfort I felt.
It was odd that I wasn't more nervous. Or perhaps the weariness of retelling my story to the numerous detectives in Topeka, wore away whatever anxieties I'd had.
Gingerly, I opened the door. Who I presumed to be Dr. Lecter, sat with one leg hitched overtop his other, in a leather chair. A notepad and with what I assumed was the papers of my information, sat balanced on his knee. His attention was on it, until I closed the door.
"Miss Heleski, please, have a seat."
I stared at him for a moment, off-put by a detail in his expression. What was it?
Ah, yes...the smile. It mimicked the one my stepmother wore when I came home from school breaks. The one pasted on my father's face as he listened to Dr. Emerson's recommendation.
Polite, stiff, detached.
I had the sudden urge to turn and sprint out of the office. Generally, I was never wrong in my presumptions regarding the people with these sort of smiles.
But, I denied the urge. These eight weeks were mandatory, whether I liked it or not. Plus, Detective Lawson had been insistent Dr. Lecter was one of the best psychologists in the country. For everything she'd done on my behalf, I figured I could push down my discomfort for the time being and give him a chance.
"Thank you," I finally answered.
His eyes followed me as I walked to the empty chair across from him and sat. Unsure with what to do with my hands, I rested them atop my thighs.
"Are you alright?"
The question startled me. Was he already that acute to my emotional state?
However, upon looking at him, I realized his eyes were drawn to my right hand. Three of the fingernails were stained with drying blood.
I balled my hand into a fist and retracted it into the sleeve of my coat; hidden from his perceptive gaze.
We made eye contact, and I fought the instinct to look away. His eyes were a hardened brown, and he never once blinked. I gathered he often initiated eye contact with others, and rarely was the first to look away.
When I had yet to lower my gaze, the corner of his lips, twitched.
"Not as timid as the reports would have me believe."
Mercifully, he lowered his gaze to the papers on his knee. I released a quiet sigh.
"Did they say I was weak?" I asked.
"Timid," he maintained, glancing up at me. "I've never quite liked the word 'weak' to describe a victim, especially if they've had an encounter such as yours. One could hardly blame you for your reaction."
Unsure of what to say, I kept my mouth closed.
"Do you know why you are here?"
I leaned back in the chair, attempting to relax. "Detective Lawson told me it was so I could talk about what happened. So I could accept it and move on."
My lips parted to say more, but I thought better of it.
"Go on," Dr. Lecter announced, sensing my hesitation.
"That's what she told me," I explained, looking at a nearby bookshelf. "But, I think it's because they want you to interrogate me, without making it seem like it's an interrogation. The information I told them helped, but they're frustrated I don't know more. And with how brutal Thomas is, they know it's only a matter of time before he kidnaps and tortures someone again. I think they're hoping you can get me to reveal more."
Upon glancing back at him, Dr. Lecter was expressionless, though I noted a slight shift forward in his posture.
"And do you know more?"
"No. I told them everything."
I couldn't tell if he believed me or not.
"You address him by name," Dr. Lecter redirected. "Did he ask you to?"
It was difficult to bury my surprise. So far, his line of questioning didn't match up with that of the police.
Dr. Lecter nodded. He rested an elbow on his chair.
"You are correct in your theory, Miss Heleski. I have been hired to evaluate you. For the next eight weeks, the detectives in charge of your case, hope I may bring to light something you may have neglected to tell them."
"I told them everything," I insisted.
"I apologize, that was a careless choice of words on my part. They hope I may be able to extract details that you might have forgotten."
My brows knitted together.
"Do not think of it as a flaw on your part," he assuaged. "Thus far, you have given them more information about this serial killer than the four years they spent tracking him. By all accounts, your intelligence exceeds theirs."
I cocked my head. "I'm glad you speak so highly of them."
His smile lacked the stiffness of his last one.
"It can be both a blessing and a curse that the police are not more efficient at their jobs."
"Which is it for you?"
I asked without meaning to. The way Dr. Lecter regarded the police, prodded at my curiosity.
He aimed his gaze down at the paper on his lap. From my vantage point, I could still see his smile.
"A curse, of course."
There was an amusement in his tone that made me wish to explore his answer more. Thankfully, I refrained. Already, I got the impression Dr. Lecter chose his words wisely. I couldn't be sure an exploration would even garner a satisfying response.
"I would like to start by getting to know you," he began. "No case can be solved if the characters of those involved, are left unexplored."
I shifted in the chair. "How important am I really to this investigation?"
Dr. Lecter looked up at me. A curious amount of intensity was directed at me through his eyes.
"From these reports, I know next to nothing about you, Miss Heleski, other than the standard details. While the good detectives may believe you were spared as a result of good luck and quick thinking, I believe differently. Thomas could have killed you, but decided not to. The average lifespan of his victims is three days. You were with him for three weeks. Something about you enticed him."
I grimaced at his choice of words and looked away. Mentally, I blessed the prescription I was on. It prevented me from feeling the full effect of what he'd said.
"What do you want to know?" I asked quietly.
"Whether it brings you discomfort or relief to realize you enticed him."
"I'd rather not talk about that."
"Fair enough," he acknowledged. "None of the questions I ask you, require an answer. Your comfort, above all else, is the focus."
Rather than soothe me, I felt worse. That my discomfort was held in such high regard, seemed wrong. If there was a chance that the case could be solved, then damn my own comfort! If there was a chance that Thomas could be caught...
I shook my head. Thomas wasn't an idiot. Far from it, in fact. As grotesque as his mannerisms and emotions could be, his intellect was profound. He wouldn't allow himself to get caught unless he wanted to.
"They're never going to catch him."
I hadn't meant to say it, but couldn't afford to feel the proper regret once the words were out. I knew it was true.
"I need you to understand that," I continued, meeting his gaze. "The police aren't going to catch him, even if I remember new details."
I didn't elaborate, and Dr. Lecter didn't ask me to. I think he understood what I meant to say.
"Then let us pretend as if you have never been questioned by the police. Let us pretend that you have escaped from where Thomas kept you, and I am the first person to sit with you and ask about your experience. Furthermore, I hold an insatiable curiosity about who Robin Heleski is."
"I'm not important."
At his blank stare, I reiterated.
"Thomas could have kept any of his victims for a longer period of time. That he chose me is nothing but dumb luck."
"That may be, but for my own sake, I would like to judge that."
"I don't understand."
His stare was unflinching. "Call me curious."
"I thought your name was Dr. Lecter."
He tilted his head, expression unreadable. "You become unusually defensive when confronted by the topic of your own self worth."
"There's eight more weeks of this?" I mumbled.
"Do you think ten weeks would be more sufficient?"
He asked it with such a straight face that I nearly missed the fact he was teasing me.
"I think I'd rather not see you again after this session."
"I appreciate the honesty. It only helps conclude my analysis."
"You work fast."
"You are becoming easier to read."
"Then there's no use for me to talk about myself."
A long silence stretched between us before Dr. Lecter emitted the most natural smile I'd witnessed on him.
"Your father or your stepmother?"
I crossed my arms. "I'm not following you."
"Which one was more upset when you were diagnosed with major depression disorder?"
He must have known I wasn't going to answer, because he continued shortly after.
"That is why you were out so late at night, in such a rundown part of Topeka, correct? To attain anti-depressants from a drug dealer."
Hesitantly, I nodded. "He was a younger guy I knew through a friend from college. It was his second year as a licensed pharmacologist. He was trying to make some extra cash on the side to repay his student loans."
"You failed to mention in the report, that you knew him."
"I didn't want him to get in trouble. He helped me more than my dad and stepmother ever did after I was diagnosed. By all accounts, he's a good guy in my book."
Dr. Lecter uncapped a pen from the front pocket of his tailored, maroon suit. As he began to scribble notes down, I was hit by a wave of panic.
"You're not going to tell the police that I knew him, are you?"
"A counterproductive act on my part," came his smooth response. "Though, if this is how you still receive your anti-depressants, I would advise you to be more cautious. It is not uncommon for dealers, no matter how affluent their status in society, to hook their clients by lacing depressants with something more addicting."
I listened to the scratching of his pen against the paper.
He glanced up. "What for?"
"Caring enough to say that."
This time, I couldn't maintain eye contact with him and felt relief upon looking down.
A few seconds later and his pen resumed its scratching. The silence quickly turned suffocating. I didn't enjoy the topics dipping their toes into the forefront of my mind. How Dr. Lecter managed to pull them from me, I still wasn't entirely sure. I'd already revealed more to him than I did to the police. Could this be considered a sign of progress?
"It was my father."
His pen froze. I kept my gaze aimed down, suddenly finding his carpet extremely fascinating. If I squinted hard enough, I could make out one stiff, red strand among a sea of bristled silver.
"I started getting really bad in high school, but blamed it on things like stress and bad friendships and the atmosphere at home. My father was a successful architect and my stepmother, a wedding planner. We had a lot of money...but...they weren't the...nicest people."
Closing my eyes, I attempted to focus on even breathing.
"I tried to kill myself my second year of college. I bought some razor blades at a nearby hardware store and cut open my wrists. Everyone tells me that it was lucky my roommate had been home. I call it bad timing. Even now, I wish I could go back and do it somewhere...different."
"Why did you do it there?"
I shrugged. "I wanted to die somewhere comfortable."
When he didn't respond, I continued. "After a month stay at a hospital, my father was ordered to get me checked out by a professional."
"Ordered?" Dr. Lecter repeated. "I can think only of a handful scenarios where an order could be legally issued."
Releasing a deep exhale, I opened my eyes.
"They were concerned with the state my body was in."
He maintained his silence. A part of me thought it was intentional. He wanted me to say it.
Raising my arm, I waved it down the length of my body.
The word sounded uglier than ever before. And a shame existed in me now, that hadn't been around then.
"I'm not a...I forget what you call it."
"Masochist?" he offered.
"Yes. I'm not that. That's not what it did for me. I think...it was more to punish myself for all the ways I didn't consider myself enough. It always hurt, but, I never regretted it and it became insignificant to the emotions I felt."
A laugh shot out of me, causing my throat to throb dully.
"This is so bizarre," I whispered, shaking my head.
My eyes were so focused on the little strand of red in the carpet that I nearly missed Dr. Lecter's question.
"You are only the second person who has wondered about how it made me feel."
Dr. Lecter's leather seat squeaked beneath the shifting of his weight.
"Was Thomas the first?"
My teeth clamped down on my bottom lip so hard that I momentarily went numb. Slowly, I released the abused piece of flesh and breathed out.
"Yes. What does that say about you?"
When he didn't answer immediately, I scratched the back of my neck. I wasn't sure if it was the subject matter or my posture that was making me itchy.
"I saw a psychiatrist named Dr. Emerson," I went on. "There were the preliminary questions, some blood tests, and a machine that scanned my brain wave activity. Because we could afford it, my father had it all done. I think for him, it was more to disprove that I could somehow be abnormal."
A harsh knock against the door, jolted me from my focus. A quick glance at Dr. Lecter showed me a cold glare aimed at the door.
I was impressed at how polite he managed to sound.
"Dr. Lecter, Will Graham is here-."
"Not now, Elena," he interrupted. "I have a full thirteen minutes left with my patient."
The voice wasn't put off by the order.
"He insists it's urgent."
I felt myself growing tense at the expression on Dr. Lecter's face.
"I can go," I blurted, rising to my feet. "It's no problem."
Dr. Lecter turned to me. "Sit."
I gave him a half smile. "See you on Thursday."
He didn't say anything else as I walked to the door and exited the room.