A/N: So, I've been playing around with this idea for a couple months now, and I finally got around to typing it up. I wrote it in one sitting, so sorry if it's not that great. Please read and REVIEW.
"Where is Lady Murasaki?"
The words were forced angrily through his clenched teeth; I could feel the muscles tightening around his jaw in rage. I looked back at him through the wide, wary eyes that were not my own. At Hannibal…the boy…the monster. "Grutas has a houseboat," Kolnas replied. I could feel his lungs quivering in fear – fear for his life, fear for his child. I could understand his second fear, but not his first. I had never reached an age when I could feel fear for my own life. "A canal boat. He – he moves around," he continued, his voice trembling. The burn on his hand throbbed, but he took no notice. I did.
"Where is the boat?"
It was strange, to be looking at someone and looking back at yourself through their eyes – like mirrors placed opposite each other. My brother's eyes were black and burning with hate, Kolnas' were wet with helplessness. I could feel in his heart, as he could, that he was no match for the monster looking him in the eye. Although I wasn't afraid, I could understand why the former soldier was. Hannibal presented a frightening image, his eyes of hot steel, a mask of blood smeared across his chin and cheeks, and his hawk-like face carved in marble. But I knew him better than he knew himself. I had felt everything he had felt, grown up with him, matured with him, fought with him, screamed with him, cried with him. And understood everything he hadn't.
Kolnas' throat tightened, Hannibal didn't so much as blink, silently challenging the older man to doubt his promises of killing his flesh and blood. "In the canal lock," Kolnas whispered. "West of Mole." A tear spilled down his cheek – I could feel the single drop roll slowly down – and he pleaded, "Where is my child?"
A light smile graced my brother's marble face, and he/I slowly approached the telephone mounted on the wall. Kolnas' eyes followed every move, watching as Hannibal/I dialed the numbers one by one. I could feel the confusion in Kolnas' brain… What the hell is he doing? Where is my daughter? I knew what my brother was doing, and I took a small amount of pleasure in Kolnas' frustration. I would have smiled if I could. Leaving the phone off the hook, we backed away, allowing Kolnas to move forward and pick up the receiver as we silently drew our pistol.
"Hello?" Kolnas said hesitantly.
"Hello?" A woman's voice repeated on the other end.
I felt a spark of glee that was all mine when Kolnas recognized her voice. "Astrid?"
Kolnas' breathing grew rapid. "Look at the children," he ordered. "Look at the children!"
A pause in which Kolnas held his breath. I had to admit, he did love his children. At least he had some virtues.
"The children are fine. They're sleeping," came the news through the wire.
If I had had a mouth to call my own, I would have giggled when Kolnas turned around, the expression of utter shock and anger and betrayal stretching his features. Hannibal/I gazed back calmly and shrugged. "You tricked me," he hissed.
"No," my brother countered. "I kept my word. I'll spare your life for the sake of your children." We very nearly smiled at that, but a face of marble betrays no lies.
I felt the sword's sheath press into Hannibal's back reassuringly as he held up the gun and placed it on the table in an attempt to further manipulate the former soldier. Kolnas believed it. Of course, he had never noticed the very slight linear bulge right between my brother's shoulder blades. Then again, my brother had never been dumb enough to turn his back on the enemy. The two men circled each other, my brother drawing further from the weapon resting on the table, Kolnas drawer nearer. He eyed the firearm with greed, and I could see the plan forming in his head. I wanted to pat his shoulder and say with false sympathy that it would never work.
Kolnas' eyes jumped from the gun to my brother's face and back again, his fingers itching to pull the trigger but at the same time nervous about our widening smile, knowing but unrevealing. He decided to gamble, just as Hannibal and I had suspected he would. Before Kolnas' fingers could even brush the gun's smooth skin, still warm from Hannibal's palm, my brother's lightning-quick reflexes had whipped out the short sword and slid it neatly into Kolnas' skull. Pain reared its ugly head when a slight twitch of Hannibal's wrist twisted the blade around and then rammed it upwards, its bloodstained nose tasting fresh air as it broke through brain, bone, and scalp. Kolnas' vision was fading, but all I had was a splitting headache, at the same time rejoicing with the exultation racing through Hannibal's veins.
As the blade was wrenched out of Kolnas' head, the dead man crumpling to the floor, Hannibal sighed contentedly. All senses I shared with Kolnas vanished. I had gained back another piece of my soul, and Hannibal had lost another piece of his.
Sneaking onto the canal boat was easy. At the expense of a sailor or two, we darted silently into the belly of the ship, Hannibal's eyes hunting for Lady Murasaki. The pulsing of the engine – the heart – echoed throughout the network of narrow hallways. While Hannibal and I snuck closer and closer to one of the two remaining separated pieces of me, I observed Lady Murasaki through the hungry, greedy eyes of Vladis Grutas. The animal within this particular man was much more prominent than I was used to – while the beast in Hannibal may be stronger, Hannibal could no longer be counted as a man, only a beast. Grutas was both, and I didn't like it.
I tried to warn my brother when Grutas crept into the bathroom to wait unseen, but Hannibal had always been blind to my presence. I knew Grutas had a gun, I could feel it perfectly as he pulled it out of his belt and held it at the ready. This wasn't something Hannibal had predicted, for once it was unexpected.
The force from the bullet punching into his back knocked Hannibal and I forward, we landed with a solid thud on the cabin floor. My brother remained silent, playing dead. I could tell that the slug had hit the bull's eye, right where Hannibal's spine should have been had the sword not been resting there. I had felt the blade snap in half, sacrificing itself to protect its wielder.
Grutas came slowly forward, keeping the gun steadily aimed at my brother. Leaning over, he rolled Hannibal onto his back so that they could see each other's faces, their eyes meeting. Confident that he was in no immediate danger, Grutas pocketed the gun and produced a switchblade, jabbing Hannibal a few times below the waist. My brother neither said nor did nothing to stop the knife's movement, playing along beautifully.
"Can't feel your legs?" he said smugly. "Too bad. You won't feel it when I cut off your balls." Still, Hannibal remained silent, glaring resentfully at the Russian who was now looking at Lady Murasaki. "A present for you," he told her. "A velvet bag." His eyes turned back to my brother. "Can you see?" he whispered. Without waiting for an answer, he moved close to our aunt, anticipation and excitement bubbling in his stomach. "Look at this…" he admired. "I can put some color in her cheeks." His tongue flicked out and slithered across her skin. She ducked away, protesting angrily, unable to fight him while bound. His hands clamped around her head – I could feel her silky hair, her clenched jaws, her cheek still wet – and forced his mouth on hers. She struggled, neither of them seeing as Hannibal's act vanished and he drew the broken blade from beneath his coat. Just as Grutas' filthy hands made their way between Lady Murasaki's legs, the sword sliced across his heels with precision.
Grutas let out a growling hiss of pain – half me and half him – and drew out his gun. Another howl ripped from his throat as Hannibal cut across his other heel. I tried to scream when I felt the Achilles' tendons snap and coil up like springs behind his knees. Grutas collapsed, the gun sliding across the floor and out of reach. Hannibal stood, cutting away Lady Murasaki's bonds as the wounded Russian crawled like a worm, inching towards the gun. Grutas reached as far as he could, his fingertips nearly brushing it, until his wrist was snapped when Hannibal pushed forward a table, jamming the Russian's hand into an unnatural position. I tried to contribute my own scream, but all that came out was Grutas'.
Hannibal and I dragged Grutas back across the floor, turning him over so that our eyes met – the tables had turned. His chest was exposed, the skin pale against the dark shades of his clothing. I looked up as my brother gazed back down, slowly removing his jacket.
I had suffered through the same thing time and time again – Dortlich, Milko, Kolnas – but I had never been afraid. Now I was. My brother no longer looked like my brother – now he was a monster, even to me. I could feel Grutas' heart grow cold as Hannibal's gloved hand and broken sword slid to his neck.
"Where is Grentz?" he asked calmly, his expression almost sympathetic.
"If I tell you, will you kill me quickly?" Grutas begged.
Hannibal's eyes widened with sparks of glee. "Yes!"
"A village in Canada," Grutas choked out. "Near Saskatoon."
Without replying but seeming satisfied, Hannibal exposed Grutas' neck. I braced myself for what was to come, but Lady Murasaki's voice cut in. "Stop, Hannibal!" My brother's eyes rose – he looked furious that she had interrupted him. "Give him to Popil," she pleaded.
"He ate me!" I cried through Hannibal's mouth.
"He ate my sister!"
A quiet, wheezing chuckle came from Grutas. "So did you," he hissed. "You ate her too. So why don't you kill yourself?"
Hannibal drew back, away from Grutas, his stomach churning. "No…" His voice cracked with horror and rage.
"We fed her to you in a broth!" Grutas continued.
But Grutas wouldn't quiet. "You have to kill everyone who knows it, don't you? You ate her…half conscious…your little lips greedy around the spoon!"
Now both Hannibal and I were crying, his whole body quaking with anger from both of us. His lungs tried to open up and receive air, but he was too distraught. Finally, a deep, shaky breath was managed, and our eyes locked onto the Russian. Such was my anger that for the first time, I took control of the body I resided in. I threw my head back and let out a throat-tearing yell of utter fury, then dropping to my knees and pinning Grutas where he was. I pushed down on the hilt of the jagged blade until it pierced his skin and slowly carved a line into his skin, him screaming all the while. As the blood welled up to the surface from the deep gash, I reached up and started to carve another line, and then another, and another. Finally, a bloody letter was engraved in his flesh.
"M for Mischa," I hissed through my brother's lips. Then I plunged the blade through Grutas' wrist and into the wood below, nailing him to the floor. I reached into Hannibal's pocket and pulled out the Russian's dog tag, dangling it above his head.
Before I could say anything, however, I was distracted by the sudden commotion by the door. The helmsman had attempted to sneak in, but Lady Murasaki had run Grutas' switchblade through his neck. The only sounds he was making now were dying gurgles as he collapsed in the doorway. I leaped to my feet and wrapped Hannibal's strong arms around her. When she drew back from the embrace, she looked him in the eye and said, "Stop now. Forgive them."
I will tell you now that I did consider it. But then all the thoughts I'd ever had about the life I could have led and the life my brother could have led took over, and I responded, "Never."
Lady Murasaki didn't attempt to persuade him, but instead walked through the door. I called after her. "I love you."
She turned around, a desolate expression on her beautiful face. "What is left in you to love?"
As she faded away, I realized she was right. There was nothing left in Hannibal but thirst and carnage. And there was nothing left in me. With a sigh, I cast my eyes downward, and sunk back into his body, letting Hannibal take control once more.
A/N: Reviews anyone? Pretty please, with Gaspard Uliel on top? Please be honest.