NO MORE A SAVAGE LIFE-CHAPTER TWO
The characters contained herein are not my property. They are the brilliant and inspired creation of the author, Thomas Harris. The following scenarios and exchanges are written to enjoy and honor his creation with admiration. The only thing I own are the ancillary characters, the plot I develop and the dialogue not associated with Thomas Harris' work.
This is a sequel to No More a Savage Life and although it can stand alone, I suggest reading the first installment before reading this segment as characters were introduced and developed in a way that impacts how this story developed. Fair warning the both installment are rated M for fairly expressive sexual situations.
If you take the time to read, please consider reviewing the chapters. It's enjoyable to see where people are in the story and your thoughts allow me to share the experience with you. I will respond to each and every review. Please enjoy with my thanks and best wishes!
No More a Savage Life- Chapter Two
The first days and weeks immediately following the wedding, Clarice and Hannibal rarely left their lush Patagonian compound. They ventured out now and then for groceries and supplies, but the bulk of their time was spent walking their property arm in arm; learning about it as they learned about each other.
The pair had just returned from a particularly long walk. Hannibal, ever the gentleman held the door to their home open for his wife, allowing her to enter. She smiled as he dutifully followed her. Upon entering the foyer, as she passed, Hannibal took Clarice's hand and kissed it.
"Would you mind if I played piano for a while, my Love? It is excellent therapy. I am attempting to regain my technique and it would be best not to let a day pass without a bit of work."
Clarice was uncomfortable with the subject of his self-mutilation. She reached for his hand and stroked the scar as was her habit when the feeling of guilt was upon her. It was a deep rose color, ridged like a piece of thin rope had been laced under the flesh where the thick keloid had developed though the actual seam of the scar was exceptionally even. Seeing Clarice was obsessing over the injury, Hannibal sought to ease her anguish.
"It is a rather exceptional repair is it not? Especially when one considers how quickly the arrangements were made and how hastily the surgery was performed. I am tremendously pleased with the result. I have very little loss of sensation. Yes...I was exceptionally fortunate."
Pulling him close Clarice spoke against his ear. The tone was just a breath below her normal speaking voice, but her words were filled with emotion.
"Is it getting better? Is there any pain?"
Hannibal slipped his hand beneath the curtain of her hair and brushed a kiss along her cheek as he closed and locked the door to their home with his free hand. His voice was rich with concern for her as he sought to console, "Every day more of my technique returns to me. There is no longer any pain, so please do not let this trouble you. It doesn't trouble me."
Clarice rested her head on his chest and listened to his heart beating strong and steady. Running her hands up his back, Clarice pulled him close.
"There aren't any words I can think of to tell you how sorry I am. When I see the scar, knowing I drove you to it, all that pain, it breaks my heart. I'm so sorry, H."
Hannibal tightened the embrace and rested his chin on her shoulder speaking very tenderly against her ear, "No words are needed, Clarice. I feel it in every kiss… in every touch."
Breathing slowly she again reached for his hand and pressed his palm to her cheek kissing the ridged scar where it appeared the most obvious and she assumed, the most sensitive. He lips brushed the area along his inner wrist where his flesh was most tender.
Hannibal was experiencing a flood of sensory input. Unaccustomed to her presence in his life and still making daily adjustments to her presence, he closed his eyes to limit the stimulation as he attempted to extrapolate how she was feeling based on the information he was processing.
Though she is holding me close to her body and pheromones are being released as if she were aroused, she seems sad. There is too much stimuli and no context from which I can process and assess the input. I am unsure.
He inclined his head slightly and traced his thumb across her lips as he considered her thoughts. Unable to come to a determination, he sought an explanation.
"I am not yet acclimated to the natural range of your emotions, Clarice. Additionally, your current physiology and body language seem incongruous. Do you mind if I ask, what are you thinking?"
"It's just that..." Clarice was obviously tremendously pained by his injury. She continued, "I don't know how you can be so unaffected by this. You cut your goddamned hand off! Doesn't it...don't you...never mind."
Believing she thought him limited in some way by the injury, Hannibal took Clarice by the hand and walked with her to the music room. He guided her to sit on the bench beside him. As he rested his hands on the keys he continued the conversation as he proficiently worked on his scales.
As his hands flew up and down the length of the keyboard, he questioned, "Never mind what, Clarice? Please continue. As intuitive as I am and though I am certain I will develop the ability, I cannot yet approach your unspoken thoughts."
Clarice listened intently to the notes and watched his hands move up and down the keyboard. She remained silent.
Hannibal pursued as he fluidly moved from scales to arpeggios, "Clarice...you are holding on to what seems to be a very serious question. It is obviously disturbing you, so much so that I can feel the weight of it. You will find relief in the asking of it."
Breathing deeply, Clarice released the question with her exhalation, "You didn't cry out, not a whimper, not a sound. How? The pain…it must have been…"
Hannibal leaned toward her, his hands still moving along the keyboard as his voice whispered along her neck, "Exquisite, Clarice."
Clarice arched her neck and exposed her throat allowing Hannibal to search her pulse points with his mouth. He was so gentle and had developed a way of calming her that was immediate and quite disarming. Though she was responding to his attention, her focus remained on his injury, "Exquisite? Why exquisite? What would make you choose that word? There was nothing elegant in the injury. It was violent and gory."
"The duality of the word is appropriate as it equally infers both pain and pleasure." He continued to attend to her flesh, speaking against her throat and teasing gently with his teeth.
"I get the pain, H...I don't get what you mean by pleasure. What the hell kind of pleasure could you find in maiming yourself and self-inflicting that kind of injury?
Hannibal continued to play the piano as his mouth searched her neck. Hannibal answered, "Because, my Love, it was my pain and not yours."
Clarice shifted against him. His presence often made it difficult for her to concentrate. "I know you don't regret it now, but did you ever regret it?"
Hannibal stopped playing and swung a leg over the bench. He was now straddling it and facing her. He wrapped his arms around his wife's waist and pulled her against his body. "It was a decision quickly made but never regretted." He kissed the top of her head.
Clarice buried her face against his chest, listening to the rhythm of his heartbeat. "So much suffering..."
Hannibal took her face gently into his cupped hands and lifted her head off his chest, tilting her chin back slightly allowing their eyes to meet. He kissed her gently on the lips.
"Pain is fleeting and forgotten quickly my Love. Your feelings of guilt are self-imposed. To free yourself from it you must reconcile my actions with my emotions."
Clarice shook her head and looked away. "I don't know how to do that."
He lifted her chin and held it until she met his gaze again. "Allow me to help you."
Hannibal brushed a gentle kiss against her right cheek.
"You must understand there would have been far more suffering for me had the injury been to you. Know that I would have joyfully surrendered both hands to spare you even a moment of that pain."
Still holding her face, his intense eyes locked on hers, he placed another kiss, this to her left cheek.
"You have no guilt in this Clarice. You were not an accomplice to my injury, it was a fait accompli. The actions of my past delivered me to that moment and led me to that decision; to that conclusion."
"No, I did it. I trapped you. I might as well have grabbed the cleaver and chopped your hand off myself!"
Hannibal's hands left her face and traveled down to her hips and pulled her tighter to his body.
Clarice shifted her position, confused by the mixed signals. Hannibal was focused.
"You feel anguish because you believe that the removal of my hand was the act of a desperate man."
"You believe that I was powerless and as such I became a victim of violence in your eyes."
"But it was not an act of desperation, rather one of protection; a man protecting the woman he loved from pain. It was a sacrifice born, not of desperation, but of a heart filled only with love for you."
He coiled his arms around her and pulled her tighter still, to the point where she was uncomfortable. "If it were necessary to do so could you free yourself from me, Clarice?"
"Not easily, but, yes…I think so."
"You are not trapped…merely being detained, yes?"
"What is your state of mind, Clarice? Are you desperate to be free of me?"
"No…I'm uncomfortable but I'm not desperate."
"If you desired freedom would there be more than one way by which you might achieve that objective?"
"Yes. There are several ways…why?"
"That is precisely my point, Clarice. I was merely being detained and as such there was no need for desperation. I had at my disposal endless choices, infinite scenarios. In one scenario, yours, I am the victim. In my scenario I am quite the opposite and as you had no control over my choice, you have no culpability in my decision. You have no guilt. I was never powerless, rather, in that moment I was omnipotent…all-powerful. The final choice of which action to take was mine alone. I chose to be Power…to be Protector. It is not in my nature to choose Victim. Do you understand the distinction?"
"Yes, I do… I just never thought of it that way."
"Please, for my sake and your own, absolve yourself of all guilt and let this be the last we speak of this."
Hannibal softened his hold on his wife, lowered his head and touched his lips to hers. Clarice smiled. "I really do love you, H."
"And it is for that love that I would gladly have surrendered not only my hand but my life as well."
"Don't say that, H. I know it's true, but don't..." Seeking levity, Clarice slapped him playfully on his backside.
"Play your piano…practice makes perfect."
"Practice makes perfect only if one is perfect in the practice, Clarice."
"Don't be such a smart ass, H!"
Before returning to the keyboard, Hannibal looked deeply into her eyes, his crimson glowing within her blue, "I really do love you as well, Clarice."
"I know, H...I know."
Ardelia was called into Pearsall's office along with Lloyd Bowman. She assumed it was in reference to a string of killings along Washington's I-95 corridor stretching into Virginia.
"Hey, Lloyd heard anything about this? What's going on?"
Lloyd was leaning against a water cooler and thumbing through a manila folder as he spoke, "I think they've made a few connections with the missing people and the body they uncovered last week. I did a little research before coming up here…I think we've got another serial killer on the loose."
Pearsall opened the door to his office.
"We'll be meeting in the conference room. I've got two detectives from D.C. homicide. They've got some information on a series of murders. It's crossed several state lines so it's in our court no, so you two will be joining the task force."
Bowman and Mapp followed Pearsall to the conference room and took seats. D.C.P.D. representatives were already present.
"Gentlemen, allow me to introduce the agents we discussed, Special Agent Lloyd Bowman and Special Agent Ardelia Mapp. They'll be taking lead on this case so any and all information and evidence will be disseminated through them. Bowman will handle forensics and Mapp will cover the field work."
One of the D.C. detectives stood and passed out manila folders.
"This is an overview of the cases we have identified as being committed by the same perpetrator. There may be more but these are confirmed. He kills them…then he carves them like a butcher."
"He's a cannibal? Are we sure it isn't Lecter? His body was never found." Bowman's curiosity peaked.
"This killer isn't as skilled as Lecter. He isn't as precise or refined…more the ability of a butcher and less of a surgeon." The lead detective commented.
Bowman continued. "Lecter could have adjusted his methods to appear less sophisticated, he…"
Ardelia interjected. "First of all, Lecter was a freaking genius not an idiot. He took pride in his intellect and in his ability to out think us at every turn…he would never insult his own intelligence by dumbing himself down not to get caught. Not to mention he had already escaped our custody and only returned because he wanted Clarice. He would never stay in this area if there was any chance he survived his wound. She was the only thing that kept Lecter here. With her gone…he would have no reason to take such a risk."
Pearsall stared at Ardelia. "When the hell did you become a Lecter expert, Mapp?"
"Seriously? Everyone knows I shared a duplex with Clarice Starling… we talked about him all the time."
"Yeah, where did that get her?" Pearsall mumbled.
"Do you work hard to be this huge an Asshole or does it come to you naturally?" Ardelia glared.
Bowman verbally stepped between them. "That's just stress talking, he meant no offense."
"Sorry, Mapp, I wasn't thinking- it's just the topic of Lecter makes me crazy."
"How do you think it makes me feel, Mr. Pearsall?"
"Point taken but thankfully, Hannibal Lecter is dead. Logan's shot was unbelievably accurate."
Bowman persisted. "But they never recovered his body…kind of leaves you with reasonable doubt."
Pearsall was adamant. "I don't care if they never found his body because I was there when the bullet ripped his ribcage open and tore into his wicked heart. I was there when his corpse sunk like a stone and I watched his worthless blood color the water redder than his devilish eyes."
The lead detective confirmed. "Mr. Pearsall is right. It definitely isn't Lecter…we have confirmed the killer is not a previously known offender."
Ardelia spoke first. "How did you confirm that?"
"We have DNA evidence."
"What kind of DNA evidence?" Bowman asked.
"There is a sexual component to his crimes. We constructed a DNA profile from semen samples taken from the bodies of the victims."
"So he's a serial rapist and a serial killer?" Ardelia questioned.
The second detective interjected. "Actually, the sexual crimes occurred post-mortem so he's not technically a rapist…he's a necrophiliac."
"Jesus…you've gotta be kidding." Ardelia made no effort to hide her disgust.
Pearsall passed another folder to the attendees. "Here are copies of letters claiming responsibility for the crimes."
"How'd we get these?" Bowman asked as he opened the folder and slid out the contents, pouring over the information before waiting for an answer.
"The Tattler received them. They called us and asked if they should run it or not. We asked them to sit on the material until we can get a better handle on this but we can't hold them back forever."
"That's not like the Tattler's editors to offer advance notification before printing." Ardelia offered.
Pearsall paced around the conference table. "Before the Tooth Fairy maybe but now none of their reporters want to end up like Freddie Lounds. We get the letters as soon as they get them."
"Why the hell are all these nuts so crazy about the Tattler?" Ardelia pushed through the papers, scanning them quickly. "These aren't just letters…this is a freaking manifesto and why the hell is Hannibal Lecter's name all over the place?"
"This one thinks he's the heir apparent. He signs all of the correspondence with the initials C.R.R."
Ardelia didn't get it. "What's the significance of that?"
Pearsall slapped a folder against his leg.
"Chesapeake Ripper Reincarnate."
Clarice busied herself around the house for a short time but soon felt a strong desire to be closer to Hannibal. She walked down the hallway and stood outside the massive oak door of the music room listening to his playing. Clarice wondered if he knew she was near.
Hannibal poured himself into the Czerny School of Velocity in an attempt to bring the injured hand up to technical speed with the right hand. Something caused him to stop playing.
Clarice smiled. He knows.
She could imagine Hannibal, his maroon eyes sparkling, his head tilted to the side as he processed the information that flooded his senses.
His satin smooth baritone boomed effortlessly through the closed door. "Clarice?"
How the hell does he do that?
"My Love, I know that you are near."
She placed her palm against the door but did not open it. She whispered an apology. "I'm sorry, H. I didn't mean to interrupt. I just wanted to listen for a bit. Go back to your playing."
"You need not apologize, Clarice. There are no locked doors between us. If you want to be with me you need only open the door and enter the room."
Clarice continued to speak through the closed door. "But…it's your private time, H."
"I spent eight years of my life in virtual solitude, Clarice. I have no need or desire for private time. A moment away from you is an eternity."
Clarice pushed through the door to see Hannibal sitting at the piano, patting his hand on the bench.
She crossed the room and sat on the bench with her back to the piano's keys, facing Hannibal.
Hannibal kissed the top of her head as she reached around his body and rested her head on his chest allowing the freedom of his arms to continue playing. He lowered his head, inhaled the scent of her shampoo, closed his eyes, and searched his memory for a new piece to play.
With Clarice holding him, Hannibal sought something less academic than the exercises he had been working on. Something decidedly more romantic was needed; Bach, the Goldberg Variations…the Aria. As he played, Clarice exhaled deeply and as her body melded against his own, Hannibal was content.
"Okay, wasn't that what the press called Lecter…the Chesapeake Ripper?" Ardelia was incredulous.
Pearsall nodded, still pacing around the table. "Yes it was, that's why this guy chose it. If you go through the papers and read his writing this guy's ego is huge. He's obsessed with beating Lecter's body count."
"How many did Lecter kill?" Bowman asked.
Pearsall wasn't sure. "Who knows in Europe and the Eastern Bloc countries…we had him convicted for nine- then he got the cops in Memphis and an ambulance crew, plus that tourist at the airport."
"Don't forget Chilton." Ardelia added.
Pearsall nodded. He was circling the table much like an aquarium shark circles within the tank. "Yeah, that idiot too, plus the Italian inspector, the Sardinian, Mason Verger, Paul Krendler…and don't forget poor Starling. Christ must be a minimum of what maybe nineteen that we know of, but Lecter didn't kill on a whim."
"Hannibal Lecter had a huge ego." Bowman offered.
Pearsall nodded. "Yes, but he wasn't driven by it. You had to threaten him or threaten someone he wanted to protect, like Starling. He wasn't random, not to mention that he had many years of inactivity so this guy will beat him easily. He's taken down at least one person per month."
The second officer chimed in. "He's already up to nine, almost halfway there."
"When did the letters start coming in?" Ardelia was starting a timeline on the back of her folder.
"First one came in after the sixth body was discovered. Now we get one every time another's found."
Bowman was writing in the margins of the case file. "It's unusual that he doesn't have a preferred method for body disposal. Some were weighted down in water like Buffalo Bill. Some buried, some left arranged in tableaus like the Tooth Fairy minus the mirrors…what's going on?"
The lead cop spoke as he opened his file. "You answered your own question. He's copying the methods of killers Lecter helped you catch; telling us that without Lecter we won't catch him. It's like…a dare."
Pearsall finally sat at the head of the table and opened his copy of the file. "So, he copies other killers but he hasn't copied Lecter. I don't think he has a taste for the blade. He drugs them while he has them and shoots them when he's through. The only thing he took from Lecter is the cannibalism if he's actually ingesting the meat. He carves sections from the bodies but we have no evidence of what he does with it. The gauntlet has been thrown. Let's hit him in the face with it."
Hannibal became aware of the passage of time when the sunlight filtering through the window began to soften and change color. He gently roused Clarice, sleeping soundly with her head on his lap.
"Wake up, Clarice... it's getting quite late."
"What…What time is it?"
"It is time for you to relax and enjoy a hot bath so that I may prepare our dinner."
"I'd rather stay with you." Clarice reached up for Hannibal. They kissed. At first, their touch was tender, tentative, but as their passions deepened, whispers of fingers across fabric became urgent tugs at pulls at buttons and zippers. Hannibal, still breathless from the contact forced himself away.
"If it were up to me, Clarice the taste of your lips on mine would be the only sustenance I would require this evening. I will however not jeopardize your health. Please, go now, while I am still able to exercise some small measure of self-control."
Clarice stood from beside Hannibal and trudged grudgingly crossed the room. "Okay, but you owe me, H. Promise?"
"I promise, my Love. I will ravage you until dawn."
Clarice opened the door and blew Hannibal a kiss before disappearing into the hallway.
Hannibal stood and closed the lid covering the piano keys. Next, he reached to switch off the light illuminating his sheet music but something gave him pause. His head tilted briefly to the side as he considered it, his eyes searching, his nostrils flaring. Her scent…it's still unusually heavy in the air. Why?
When the answer came to him Hannibal's maroon eyes sparkled with amusement."Clarice, would it please you if I pretended I did not know you were standing just outside the door, in the hallway, waiting to pounce upon my person as I egress?"
Clarice grasped the molding and poked her head playfully around the door frame. "So, I'm busted huh? The problem with you Hannibal Lecter is you need to get more fun out of life."
"Using my own words against me, Clarice? I'm surprised you remember that exchange."
"I remember everything you've ever said to me, H."
"And I remember everything that has passed between us as well." Hannibal opened his arms.
Clarice rushed into the room, jumped into his welcoming embrace and clasped her fingers around his neck, her legs around his waist. Hannibal placed his hands on her bottom to support her weight and walked with her out of the music room to their bedroom, whispering his plans in her ear the entire way.
"First, a massage, I think, followed by a shower… together of course. We will then dress and I will escort you to Dona Quela's for a romantic dinner. It's been quite some time since we last indulged and nothing would please me more than for the world to see my stunning wife by my side."
Until the next chapter my friends!