Disclaimer: Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling belong to the creative genius- Thomas Harris.
A/N: English isn't my native language. So please excuse the errors. Reviews are always appreciated.
Challenge extended; challenge accepted
Dr. Lecter stifled a yawn as he watched the woman sitting across him ramble on about her miserable life.
Aleatha Greene, 42 had been divorced for three months. This was her sixth therapy session with the Doctor.
"I don't know why I didn't see it earlier. I mean the signs were all there. John and I were so close before he hired Donna. After that, we just drifted apart..."
Their weekly sessions were tedious, even more tedious than his interactions with Raspail had been. Dr. Lecter had a sudden urge to snap her neck then and there, and end both their miseries. But he knew it'd raise red flags if a prominent member of their social group suddenly disappeared. Who was he kidding? He could handle a bunch of cops. The actual reason his hands were tied was Clarice. Aleatha was a friend of hers and if he killed her, he'd have to deal with Clarice's rage. The thought gave him heebie-jeebies.
She had come a long way since her FBI days. His cub had grown into a ferocious lioness. A year ago, she'd banished him from their bedroom for two weeks. Apparently she had caught him flirting with a young woman at a party. He had tried to set the record straight to no avail. Hannibal Lecter, cannibalistic murderer of more than twenty people, had been forced to sleep on the couch in his own house. He had planned and plotted to re-earn his place in his bed. Showering her with semi-automatic pistols had mellowed her. A brand new Porsche and he was golden. The lesson he had learnt was to always remain in her good graces.
When she'd asked him to conduct poor Aleatha's therapy, he had no choice but to submit to her wishes.
And so he sat, cross-legged, his face unreadable, listening to the hardships faced by the newly divorced Ms. Greene.
"Rachel seems to be handling the divorce much better you know. She's found a new hobby. She sits on her computer all day long writing stories." Rachel was Aleatha's 16 year old daughter.
"Stories? What kind of stories?"
A quizzical expression on Dr. Lecter's face.
"There is this website on the internet where you can write stories about characters someone else created. Books, movies, plays. There's all kind of stuff."
"Interesting," he thought.
When he didn't say anything, she continued, "She writes a lot about that psychopathic cannibal, Hannibal Lecter. Should I be worried?"
"I'm sure it's harmless, Aleatha."
Their hour came to an end. As soon as Aleatha was out the door, Dr. Lecter fired up his laptop and started surfing the net. What he found shocked him to the core. There were thousands of stories written by amateurs about him, dozens of communities and blogs were dedicated to him and Clarice. Full-fledged websites had been created in his honor.
He was aware that Sir Anthony Hopkins' performance had made him quite popular but he hadn't realized till now the extent of his fan base. He didn't know how to feel about it.
His smart phone buzzed, Clarice's picture appearing on the screen.
"Good evening, Clarice."
"So formal. For once can't you greet me with a 'hey' or 'yello?'"
"I'll try next time."
"We'll see. Are you busy?"
"Oh good. Tell me which dress should I wear to the opera tonight? The green one or the red one?"
"I'm sure you'd look good in whatever you wear, my dear."
"Charmer. I'll be there in an hour, okay?"
"Okay. I love you"
"Love you too."
Dr. Lecter and Clarice occupied their seats in the ornate box beside the stage. The lights dimmed and the curtains opened. Halfway through the performance, she could tell that his mind wasn't into it. His head was tilted slightly, his forehead creased just a bit, a sign that only she knew meant he was thinking very hard about something. She didn't disturb him and occupied herself with the performances on the stage.
The drive home was no different. The silence unnerved her.
"Are you mad at me?" she asked when she couldn't take it anymore.
"Of course not."
"Then why the silent treatment?"
He faced her, realizing his mistake.
"I'm so sorry, Clarice for giving you the wrong impression. I'm not mad at you. It's something else."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
''Would you take no for an answer?''
He sighed. "Do you know people write stories about us?"
"Hannibal, you gave your blessings to Tom when he sought your permission to write about the events of our lives."
"I'm not talking about Thomas.'' A pause. ''Amateurs write about us." Disgust was evident on his face.
Finally realization dawned on her. "You mean fanfiction?"
"Do you know about it?"
"Of course I do. I've written some fics myself."
"I beg your pardon."
"Fics. Short for fanfictions. It means stories."
"You write stories about us?" he asked, surprised.
"I go by the name cstar7. I don't like to blow my own trumpet but I'm quite good. Apparently people can't get enough of my writing," she replied, haughtiness dripping from her voice.
"I can't believe it."
"Every other person writes fics now a days. So many of our friends do. I'm surprised you didn't know."
The revelation shocked him and he spent the remaining drive trying to process what she had said. Clarice, on the other hand, was exultant. Finally a subject she had more knowledge about than he did.
On reaching their mansion, Dr. Lecter went straight to his study. Clarice removed her (torture) heels, grabbed a bottle of wine and two glasses from the kitchen, and padded toward his study, muttering, "It's gonna be a long night."
He was sitting in front of the PC, on his big leather chair. He looked up when she entered.
After opening the page of SOTL/Hannibal on ff/dot/net , she told him about the ratings. She handed a glass to him and with the other curled up on the sofa to observe. Dr. Lecter took a sip of his wine, rubbed his hands together, more for effect than anything, clicked on the story at the top and dived into the world of fantasy. It was a one-shot written by Biyo94 about what happened between them after the dinner at Chesapeake.
Five minutes later.
"So what do you think?" Clarice asked, curious about his reaction.
"This is fanfiction? Smut? No plot, no flow, nothing."
She giggled. "It must be, what we fanficers call, a lemon. I've written some myself. They are fun to write."
''You write pornography?''
She rolled her eyes. "Oh come on Doctor. There's nothing wrong in writing some mature content. The fics are filtered you know."
No reply from Dr. Lecter.
"Try another one," she suggested.
Clarice woke up eight hours later to find Dr. Lecter still sitting in front of the computer. When she opened her mouth to speak, he raised his index finger. He finished reading and looked at her, giving her his full attention.
"Good morning, my dear."
"Morning," she yawned. "Did you sleep at all?"
He smiled. "No. I was busy. I read six multi-chapters and forty one-shots."
Her eyes went wide. She knew he was a quick reader but this quick, she hadn't guessed.
"So what do you think?"
"Mediocre work, I must say."
"Why am I not surprised?" she mumbled.
"I heard that."
"You need to keep in mind that these are amateur writers, Hannibal. Lower your sky-high standards just a little bit and you'd enjoy their work."
"Why should I lower my standards? These people should raise theirs if they really want to be called authors. Their work is ghastly."
Angered by his verbal attack on fellow Lecterphiles, she hissed, "You take that back. You take that back right now."
He shook his head defiantly.
"You want to be banished from the bedroom again, Hannibal Lecter?"
"That's not fair, Clarice," he protested, sounding like a teenage boy who got sent to his room by his mother.
"Fair? You know what's not fair? Criticizing other people's work when you don't know the first thing about writing."
"For your kind information, I am a published scholar. I've written in prestigious journals and reviewed numerous psychiatric books."
"That's not the same and you know it," she yelled. She took a moment to calm herself then continued, "Actually you don't. That's the problem. You can't appreciate fanfiction because you haven't written one. Why don't you write one?"
She walked up to him, never breaking eye contact.
"Are you up to the challenge, Doc?" She knew her use of the word 'Doc' to address him would rile him up.
Dr. Lecter stood motionless like a snake observing its prey. His red tongue darted out of his mouth, touched his upper lip for a nanosecond, then returned to its resting place. His maroon irises glittered as they caught light.
"My college roommate tried to challenge me once..."
"Let me guess. You ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone."
"What? No. Of course not. Why do people always assume the worst about me?" he lamented. "I accepted his challenge and came through with flying colors."
"Good for you. How about my challenge, Doctor?"
"Do you really need to ask, Clarice? I accept it. I'll write a fic," he said, unable to hide his distaste for the word. ''I'll show these self-proclaimed authors what writing is.''