"That's bullshit," she said at last, her voice hoarse, but she was gratified that it did not shake. "You're a fuckin' liar…"
"Not at all, Faith, and you don't believe your words," Lecter interrupted calmly but assuredly, and he went so far as to smile at her faintly. "You know very well that I am speaking the truth…don't you?"
She swallowed, her eyes darting away; she wanted nothing more than to get up and leave, to call for Larry to come and take her back to her cell, take her away from this man who knew too damn much and had not the slightest qualm about saying it. She couldn't though, and she knew it. That would make her look like she believed him…it would make her look like she couldn't handle what he was saying to her. And worse of all it would make her look weak. No way was Faith Lehane going to look weak in front of this bastard.
"I don't know shit, and neither do you," she spat, but Lecter simply raised an eyebrow shifting his eyes to her arm, or more specifically her tattoo, in the short-sleeved prison shirt, changing the topic in what seemed a very abrupt manner to her.
"Interesting design you have there… was this the work of another prisoner?"
"What the hell do you care?" she asked tightly, but Lecter just smiled.
"I would wager not, it is too skillfully done… rather interesting, as I said before. Particularly the number 96 in its center… any specific significance to that number?"
Faith stiffened again, jaw tightening; no way was she saying a word to him. Still those probing eyes were focused on her… and still he continued to speak quietly, his every word upping her torment.
"You are eighteen, yes…and you were born in December of 1982. This would make you around thirteen years old in 1996…. Correct?" He pressed on ruthlessly, and Faith's lips thinned out even further, teeth gritting. "Am I wrong in my recollection that this was the year that your mother fatally overdosed?"
I'm not saying a word, I'm not saying a word… he can't make me, I'm not saying a fucking word…
"I can imagine that the year of 1996 was an important, if traumatic, one for you in your life," Lecter continued smoothly, and though Faith refused to look at him, she was all too aware of his eyes studying her. "I suppose it was a year that changed everything for you. With your mother's death, you had nowhere to go, did you…even that extraordinarily unstable and un-preferable environment, that small sense of security, was taken away. It had been bad for you, when she was alive… but it was worse for you when she was dead, wasn't it? So you left, didn't you…but it was months before you were placed in a juvenile center, before your foster mother came to claim you into her care. What happened before she came for you, Faith? When there was no one there for you but you…how did you survive?"
"Fuck you!" Faith snapped, no longer able to hold back, to hide that Lecter was affecting her. She could feel herself shaking slightly and deliberately tensed her muscles, trying to gain control. Lecter was unmoved, as always; if anything, his eyes glimmered with amusement.
"Interesting choice of words, Faith… Freud would have been quite intrigued."
"I'm not fuckin' talkin' to you!" Faith almost yelled, even as her face flushed hotly. "I'm not talkin' to you, you can't make me say nothin'-"
"You may not tell me anything verbally, Faith, but I can see the answers all the same," Lecter replied coolly, and Faith could form no reply for that.
Her thoughts were fragmented, nonsensical, and she felt violated, though he had never touched her, never raised his voice or showed anything but calm. It was that confidence, all that damn cocky amusement and certainty that got to her… not to mention that he was right. How did he know all this… it couldn't' all have been in her files. Who had he been talking to? Who would know? Not Angel, even Angel wouldn't know, and he would never… how the hell did Lecter KNOW?!
"Your foster mother took you in- Diana, wasn't that her name?" Lecter continued, as Faith sat with emotions running rampant, stilling her. "She cared for you, didn't' she, Faith? She cared about you as no one had before…and she was murdered. You were enraged, I'm sure, over the brutality of it, the injustice…but moreover, I suspect you felt fear. The helpless, childlike fear of a girl once more entirely alone in the world… so you left, didn't you? You came to Sunnydale… crossing the entire country to get there. Why? What would make you do such a thing… what was there in Sunnydale that drove you so strongly?"
"Nothin'!" Faith snapped fiercely, even as a small-featured face framed by blonde hair quickly flashed through her mind. "Shut the hell up, you don't know nothin', there was NOTHIN'!"
Normally she would have been able to play it off much more coolly than that…normally she would never have been reduced to such a state. But there was nothing normal about this examination, if that was what it was…and there was nothing normal about the man before her. Somehow Faith had lost all control of the situation, and a part of her wondered if she had ever even had it in the first place…
"I don't think so…I think it was everything," Lecter countered. "The only thing I do not quite understand is just what it was that you were seeking out here… what it was that would so call you. Or maybe… who it was."
Faith said nothing, fighting off the visualization coming to her mind. Her jaw was starting to ache from grinding her teeth, and her heart was pounding so fast she was sure Lecter must have been able to hear it… could he hear her thoughts too? Did he know she was a Slayer- did he know about B? No one in the prison staff did that she knew of- but then how-
"I know of the group of young people you associated yourself with, though I admit your files left details of this much to be desired," Lecter continued, watching her closely. "Though names are not mentioned, they are hardly necessary-"
"If you already know everything, then I don't need to tell you," Faith cut him off sharply. "If you know everything, why are you sitting here recounting it all?"
"You killed two men, Faith," Lecter replied, ignoring her words, instead continuing on with his line of addressal. "But it has been noted as well that someone tried to kill you. You were stabbed, found in the back of a truck with injuries that implied you had fallen a great distance… wounds severe enough to rend you into an eight month coma. Who did that to you, Faith… who did you let get so close to you?"
His eyes on her were all she could feel, all she could see… blood rushed to her head, roared in her ears, and Faith exploded. She banged her cuffed hands , formed into tight fists, on the table, hard and loudly enough for most people to jump- but Dr. Hannibal Lecter, as she had already ascertained, was not most people. As she stood with abrupt, jerky aggression in her movements, leaning toward him as she stood over him in a clearly physically threatening manner, Lecter didn't' so much as blink an eye.
"FUCK YOU! Who the fuck are you, how do you fuckin' know this shit- who the hell are you to say it, you fuckin' liar!" she yelled, her speech roughening, her voice also serving as a form of physical assault to him on its own as she glared at him, almost shaking with rage mingled with less focused, less desirable emotions. "Who have you been talkin' to- you don't know shit, this is total bullshit!"
"You are emotional," Lecter remarked detachedly, looking right back at into her face with something almost akin to pleasure. "You are afraid… why is that, Faith? Are you reacting in such a manner because you are so accustomed to lies and denials that the truth spoken aloud by another alarms you?"
"This is bullshit!" she raged, and yet she felt almost helpless, as if she were a child being politely ignored while in the midst of a tantrum. "This is fuckin' bullshit-"
"Who was it, Faith?" Lecter repeated calmly, but with enough intensity to effectively drown out her outburst. "Who hurt you, after all the hurt you inflicted upon others… who finally gave it back to you?"
"I'm not tellin' you shit!" Faith cried, smacking her hands against the table again hard enough that she felt the wood crack beneath her touch. She knew that if she chose to, she could break the handcuffs binding her wrist… hell, even without her hands free, she could easily find a way to hurt Lecter, even to kill him. But even in her rage and pain, a small but strong part of her- a part that had grown much stronger in the past few months of struggling for redemption- held her back. She couldn't hurt him… he was not physically attacking her. She'd go to solitary, maybe total lockdown, who knows for how long… of course, she could escape, but even in this mindset she knew she wouldn't- she couldn't. She had struggled too long for too little to let go now.
But damn she wanted to kill him.
"I'm not tellin' you nothin', you bastard, I'm not talkin' about anything! I'm not talkin' about her!" she hissed- and too late realized her mistake. Not only had she confirmed the gender of the person in question- and who knows how much he knew, if he had already known this or not- but she had also confirmed that he was right, that such a person existed… and that they had indeed stabbed her.
Oh shit… idiot, fuckin' stupid…
"But you just did talk about it," Lecter said softly, but no less triumphantly, his eyes on hers so piercingly that Faith jerked her head to the side, aware that she was breathing faster than usual. "You just spoke about her… who was she, Faith? What was she to you? Was she one of the girls you associated yourself with for a time?"
Faith pressed her lips tightly together, barely able to keep herself from lashing out… or maybe from breaking down. The ambiguity of her own feelings horrified her, and she remained rigid as Lecter continued.
"What was she to you, Faith… a friend? A partner in crime… a lover?"
A muscle in her face twitched at his last mentioning, and Lecter nodded as if he had expected no less.
"I see… you loved her, didn't you, Faith?" he said, his voice smooth, not quite gentle. "You loved her, and she stabbed you… she desired your death, and she undertook means necessary to claim it. She didn't love you, did she… no one ever has, have they?"
His voice lowered, and all Faith could see, all she could focus on, was his eyes bearing into hers…
"Tell me, Faith," he spoke softly, the pale blue of his irises dimly reminding her of a ghost, or maybe a vulture. "Do you still carry the scar?"
His voice implied that he meant much more than physically, and Faith understood and was shaken by this. Unconsciously her cuffed hands lifted, covering the healed-over, yet still markedly present, evidence on her abdomen. She did not reply, could not gather enough coherence or fire in her thoughts to answer in a satisfying manner, and Lecter smiled slightly. His eyes drifted deliberately to her hands, taking in their positioning before moving back to her face, and he spoke in the same measured, nearly intimate tone.
"Some wounds never fade away, do they, Faith? Especially when one simply attempts to will away their existence… sometimes, ignoring one's wounds can only make them worse, doesn't it?"
"Shut up," Faith ground out, her eyes hardening deliberately, her every muscle pulled into tension and angry anxiety. Her brows were furrowed deeply, and her voice was rough as she stared fiercely at Lecter- but considerably below eye level. "Shut up, you don't know SHIT…"
"Repeating those words does not make them so, Faith," Lecter replied mildly, "nor do they weaken their effect on you. You pride yourself on your physical strength, I am told… but what of your emotional and mental strength? Can you take the truth of your being and face it, do something to make it more to your satisfaction? Can you even stand to hear about it? Or will you buckle under to it, give into it… remain the needy child I see before me now?"
"I will NEVER give in to you, you bastard," Faith spat, her features tightening even further, even as her stomach twisted itself painfully and her heart pounded hard against her ribcage.
If she had expected Lecter to be disappointed by this proclamation, she was to be disappointed herself. He simply nodded slightly, the corners of his thin lips turning up just a fraction.
"I am delighted to hear that, Faith," he said dryly, though there was not delight at all in his tone so much as quiet amusement. "But it's not really me whom you're fighting so fiercely against… is it? The person you are really so earnestly battling is yourself…"
Faith stared, her thoughts overlapping, not quite linear in their order as she struggled against anger, instinctive defensiveness, a desire to carry out violence and vengeance… and also grief and deeply rooted anxiety. For she could never say so aloud, could not admit it even to herself…but what Lecter was saying, his entire harsh evaluation of her, was not inaccurate.
She was working up a response when a knock sounded at the door behind her, causing her to jump slightly. Lecter lifted his eyes to regard the door calmly again, unrattled, and Faith wondered bitterly if it was even possible to rattle him.
"Come in," he called out, and Larry entered the room once more, looking from Faith to Lecter warily.
"I've come to bring her back," he said, still eyeing the two at the table, obviously trying to assess what had happened. "That is if you're finished, Dr. Lecter…"
"Certainly, Larry," Lecter replied, his eyes lifting to regard him with a pleasant smile that nevertheless did not hide the satisfaction in his eyes. "We're quite finished now…I believe we made quite a bit of headway today, didn't we, Faith?"
"Fuck you," Faith hissed- she could think of no other reply. She could feel herself shaking slightly, and as much as she hated this- as much as she tried to will herself and her body to stop- she couldn't quite control it. Her hands formed fists as Larry came to take her by the arm, pulling her up to her feet again. For a moment she wondered dimly at what point she had sat down, and why she couldn't remember it.
Lecter nodded to her genially, and his voice was unfailingly courteous as he addressed her.
"It was a pleasure to meet you, Faith. I trust that we will have much more to discuss when I see you a month from now…until that anticipated time, I am certain that you will think over our talk often."
There was a faint undertone to his words, an almost threatening quality, that only further antagonized her. But as it was, Larry was already leading her away, and even his barely adequate hold of her was enough to make her restrain herself from any physical reaction
This was what she told herself… but even as Larry led her away, Faith was all too aware of the unevenness of her breathing, the sick, shaky feeling in her chest…and the hotness behind her eyes, the feeling of her complete lack of control. Even as she walked away, she was all too aware that was she not quite leaving Dr. Hannibal Lecter and his words to her behind.