Dr. Hannibal Lecter stood in the hallway of a bright and spacious home in Maryland, simply listening. His head was tilted back and eyes were closed. He stood there lost in the music that was playing. The music, played on the cello, was enchanting. A hand lifted, as if he directed the piece playing. The piece was Malena by Ennio Morricone and it was simply enchanting.
When the music stopped abruptly Lecter’s eyes opened. Not a sound was made as he waited, head cocked to the side. The music started once more. The cello sounded bittersweet. It was something that touched the heart and soul with its sorrowful melody. This was a new piece and it was unlike anything he had ever heard before.
Taking a step forward, Lecter stood in the doorway of a near empty room. The blond wood floors were highlighted by the cream and pale blue walls. A woman sat in the middle of the room. She wore nothing save for a rather oversized man’s shirt. Fingers on the strings and holding the bow with a certain grace that was so rarely seen, the woman looked perfectly serene. There was not any music before her. She was playing by memory. Her eyes were closed and curling damp hair brushed against fair cheeks. The woman did not know that a killer watched her intently.
The piece wasn’t finished. She stopped abruptly and frowned, something was not flowing how she wished. Looking up when she heard the applause. Shock was written over her features.
“Bravissima ma Stassi.”
She smiled gently, and with a tip of her head to hide the blush that threatened to color her cheeks, she spoke.
“Thank you Hannibal. I did not know you were here. In fact, the question at hand is what are you doing here?”
He gave her a half smile and stepped closer. His lips brushed against her forehead fondly. The woman blushed once more and murmured a thank you.
“You did not come to my home last night and only left a short text Anastassia. Is there something amiss?”
She shook her head gently and looked up at him.
“I had a trauma call come in at the last minute. We were in surgery for over twelve hours. Hence, you received a text message. I was on my way to the OR.”
“You know I detest text messaging.”
“I know. It was my only option at that point. I apologize, Hannibal.”
Hannibal stroked the back of his knuckles against the softness of her cheek. He watched her for a moment, before speaking.
“I was concerned.”
She stood up to put away the instrument. Her voice was soft as she worked.
“I apologize, truly. I didn't wish to worry you. I figured you would be in session by now.” Then she added sheepishly. “Besides I needed sleep.”
“You have not had sleep yet? How long have you been up Anastassia?” His voice sounded stern.
Dark eyes flicked over to look at the clock. “Nearly forty hours now, I suppose.”
“You need to rest. Now.”
“I came home to sleep, but my cello called for me.”
That he believed and a small smile appeared. “What was the piece you were playing?”
There was a shake to her head. “It was nothing, just something that I am trying to compose.” She rose and returned the cello to its place.
Pulling her to him, Hannibal curled his arms around Anastassia Serdste. “It is beautiful, much like the composer. “The accented words were soft. It was within a heartbeat that his tone changed to something more terse. “You. Bed. Now.”
She laughed softly and pulled away. “Yes Sir, but do I need to remind you that my father is at home with my mother at the moment?” She chided him gently.
“No my dear, you do not. I am serious, you and I have a date this evening at the symphony and I will not have you falling asleep.”
“But of course.”
A brief kiss was brushed along his jawline and she turned and went upstairs. Hannibal lingered for a moment before walking to her kitchen. The older home was large and spacious. Far from the luxury that his exuded, Anastassia’s home was bright, cheerful, and airy.
By the time Lecter finished making tea and went to her bedroom upstairs, Anastassia was already fast asleep. Placing the tea on the bedside table, he sat down in the large chair over in the corner of her bedroom. The curtains were drawn so that she could sleep, but there was still enough light in the room for him to see. Two iPods were left on the small table next to the chair. He picked the first one up. It was nothing that he had not heard being played before. It was simply her personal tastes in music, they mirrored his own in many ways. The other was much more important to him. Taking the device and putting it on a small sound deck he allowed for his fingers to roam across the screen. Finding what he was looking for, Lecter let the music play softly.
This iPod contained only pieces that she played or sang. Anastassia often times would record a finished or near finished piece. It was so that she could detect any flaws in the music. This was a rare find; she did not allow anyone to listen to this. There was the most amazing piece on the playlist. It was Anastassia herself singing part of Lakme – The Flower Duet. Leaning back in the chair, Hannibal Lecter once again lost himself in the music.
Looking over at the sleeping woman, he rose from the chair to sit down along the edge of the spacious bed. Lecter allowed his fingers to run softly through Anastassia’s hair. She stirred gently and large dark eyes opened part of the way.
She sought his hand with one of her own, curling long fingers around his. She tugged gently to draw him closer. He did not smile, nor did his expression change. Lecter leaned down with the tug and she pressed her lips against his in a tender kiss.
“Lay with me Hannibal.”
He nodded. Rising, Lecter took the time to remove and hang his clothing. He paused only briefly before sliding into the bed with the younger woman. Anastassia curled into him with her back against his chest. There was a hint of a smile upon her lips.
“Thank you.” She murmured softly with a voice thick with sleep.
Lecter stroked a hand over her hip. She was so fair and seemed fragile. Although, he knew that was not the case. Slowly he began to stroke her soft skin. She responded in kind with Lecter's strokes.
They took their time, enjoying the feel of each other. Their touches became more urgent in the darkness of the room. When the moment was right, he entered her. Taking what he wished, as always. Lecter moved Anastassia to his will. She complied, not fighting him. Her back still to his chest, long nails bit against his thigh.
He relished moments like these and so did she. The slowness in the dark when neither had a care in the world. Even now, he took his time with the woman beneath him. Strong hands gripped her hips, they both used each other’s bodies for their own pleasure. He could tell that she was teetering on the edge, and then he pushed her over. He followed in the footsteps of her pleasure filled cries.
The breaking crescendo left them both weary. Anastassia was dozing beneath him, with his chest weighing heavily on her back. There were no words spoken. Hannibal Lecter had known Anastassia since she was a mere eight years old. Twenty-four years is a long friendship. He lay with her, listening to her even breathing while resting as well.
His short reverie was alas broken by the vibration of the cell phone that resided on the nightstand. His eyes narrowed and with a glance he saw the caller ID. Will Graham.
“’Yes Will?” The reply was terse.
“Dr. Lecter. I am with Jack Crawford. We are looking for Dr. Serdste. Do you have any idea where she possibly can be?” Will knew that Lecter was close with Anastassia.
He frowned. What was this about? Had she done something? Impossible. He spoke quietly so as not to wake the sleeping woman.
“She is in her home asleep Will. I am with her. What is this about?” Lecter could almost see the wheels turning in Will Graham’s mind over the fact that Lecter was with the sleeping Anastassia.
“She isn’t answering either her home phone or her cell phone.”
“She may have turned them off. Anastassia has not slept in almost two days.”
“Don’t leave Dr. Lecter. Do not open the door to anyone but us. We are en route with an ETA of 4 minutes.”
Then the call disconnected.
With a heavy sigh Lecter pulled away from the sleeping Anastassia. His fingers brushed through her dark curls. He nudged her gently with his voice and touch.
“Ma Stassi. You need to wake up. The FBI is on their way here. Is there something that you need to tell me?”
Anastassia’s voice was thick with sleep once again. “What? Why are they coming here? Is something wrong with my father?”
She started to sit up. Rising up on her elbows her head tipped forwards while she tried to think about what was happening. Frowning slightly, she raised her head finally. She there was a look of pure confusion writ across her features.
“What is going on Hannibal? I am surprised you are still here. Do you not have patients today?”
“You needed someone to watch over you. I know not what is going on.”
She smiled just a touch. His English was normally absolutely perfect, except when stressed. Every once in a while there would be a minor error.
He moved off the bed and extended a hand to help her up. Rising with a single fluid movement, she walked naked to the closet to put something on. Although show wasn’t anything he had not seen countless times before, he did appreciate the lovely view.
“You have some clothing in the top bureau drawer. I believe it is a pair of jeans and a light sweater.”
A pair of jeans was pulled on and a white camisole was tugged into place. The oversized shirt was then pulled on over the rest of the ensemble. Taking a comb, she pulled her hair up and back to get it out of the way. Stepping out of the room briefly, the water was running. Anastassia took the time to brush her teeth and wash her face.
She looked tired. She looked incredibly tired. Alas, there was nothing that could be done about that now. The doorbell rang right as she was stepping back into her bedroom.
“Shall we?” She asked Lecter, who had already dressed in the jeans and sweater.
He merely nodded and then asked a question. “Do you wish for me to leave Anastassia?”
Looking to him she frowned slightly. “No. You know me better than anyone else. Why would you need to go?”
Lecter extended his arm and they made their descent down the staircase in comfortable silence.
They were not dating. They were occasional lovers and often times companions for social events. Being a companion to her was often quite lucrative for Lecter. Anastassia Serdste was the daughter of a US Senator. She had other family members that happened to be high ranking cabinet members in government. It was assumed that someday one of them would seek the presidency.
Most importantly, Anastassia was a genius. She was reading before she could walk. By the time she was five she was reading medical textbooks and the New England Journal of Medicine. With nothing more than pictures and her own mind, she was already figuring out new ways for the techniques used in surgeries.
Anastassia took, as a joke, the MCAT at the age of seven. She made a perfect score on one of the most dreaded exams in the world. Beyond brilliant and with an eidetic memory as well, Anastassia was one of the most interesting people that Lecter had ever met. She was infallibly polite and gifted in many areas. He appreciated such qualities. He had taken a position as an assistant lecturer at Johns Hopkins and met her there. His fondness for Anastassia as a child was obvious. She grew up with him as a mentor and a close friend. It was not until she was twenty years old did he even consider her anything other than a child. Shortly after her twentieth birthday something changed. With that change, Hannibal Lecter took her virginity.
Opening the door, Anastassia tried to put on a smile for the gentlemen waiting.
“Will, Jack, won’t you please come in?” She was courteous to a fault.
Will Graham and Jack Crawford entered her home. Neither of the men had been there before.
Leading the men into her sitting room, she turned and paused. “May I get either of a drink? Some tea perhaps?”
Both men declined the offer and took a seat; Anastassia did the same while noting the looks of surprise on both men’s faces. Trying to discern if it was because of Hannibal Lecter being in her home or the casualness of the clothing he wore, she was more than just a touch amused. She could feel hands brush her shoulders and looked up. Hannibal Lecter stood behind her. Anastassia leaned forward to rest elbows on her knees. There was a pique of curiosity in her eyes.
“Gentlemen, what is so important that you needed to find me?”
Jack Crawford spoke first. “Dr. Serdste, do you know of the Inquisition Killer?”
“Please, call me Anastassia. I am not on official business in my own home.” She shook her head and frowned. “No. Should I have heard of this person?”
“He is a serial killer that we have had on our radar for a while. He likes to preform torture scenes and video tape them. We get sent the videos.”
Anastassia blanched upon hearing this gruesome tale. “What does that have to do with me?”
Will Graham started in quickly. He was a bit nervous having to tell the woman before him such news. Even more nervous due to the fact he could tell that she and Dr. Lecter had recently been intimate. While it wouldn't be obvious to most, Will knew.
“He is stalking you Anastassia. We found his lair. Everything in it was attributed to you. He is killing for you. He is begging your favor.”
The information did not register right away. She stared blankly at the two men. Hannibal’s hands on her shoulders tightened.
“Will, Jack – tell us what you know of this man, please.” It was not a request, it was a polite seeming command from the standing Lecter.
“Perhaps it is best that you let us speak alone with Dr. Serdste, if you would Dr. Lecter?” Jack spoke first that time.
“Jack Crawford, I will have none of that. Hannibal and I have known each other for years. I have nothing to hide and especially nothing to hide from him. Go on please.” Anastassia’s voice was stern, even to her own ears.
Jack Crawford continued. “The man we believe is the Inquisition Killer is better known as Rohan Finn Hammerli. He is a physician. His skills are methodical and he keeps the victims alive until he feels he is finished with them. His domain was filled with pictures of you dating back over twenty years. There are boxes upon boxes of love letters written to you as well. They explain the details of what he did to the victims and how he did it for your love.”
He paused for a moment to measure Anastassia’s reaction. She looked beyond pale, and then he continued. “The letters are written in each of the victims’ blood. Each picture of you is painted with blood as well. We are not sure how long he has been doing this. Most of the women that he killed in the beginning were transients it seems. He is now going after women that are well known professionals in their fields.”
Anastassia swallowed hard. She could feel Hannibal’s grip on her shoulders tighten and his fingers digging into her collarbone. Her voice was a soft whisper as she tried to speak. “Hannibal, you are hurting me.” When the grip lessened, she spoke again. “Why me Jack?”
Will Graham took the question. “We believe he knows you somehow Anastassia. Given the age of the pictures it would possibly be during your medical school years. That is the age range you were when the pictures seem to have started. You may have impressed him, frightened him, or even just shown some common courtesy that could have been mistranslated in his mind. Somehow you touched his life. He fears rejection or not being good enough for you. So, in his twisted way, he is trying to prove that he is worthy.”
“This is a lot to handle when you haven’t had any sleep.” The comment was dry. “Am I in any immediate danger?” There was a note of concern and then she looked startled. “Have you informed anyone else? Does my father know?”
“We put in a call to Senator Serdste on the way here, yes.” The reply from Jack Crawford was cautious. He did not answer her first question.
All three men looked surprised at Anastassia’s swearing. It was a rare moment indeed. She was a guest speaker at Quantico each term. While both men knew her slightly, they did not socialize. None the less, Anastassia Serdste was a well-known person throughout the ranks of new and old agents alike.
Straightening up, she looked at the two agents. “You have maybe ten minutes to get this in order, if that long. My father and the Secret Service will be here soon.”
Dr. Anastassia Serdste was not just a physician. She was the only child of James Serdste. James Serdste was better known as Senator Serdste of Maryland. His other title was the Senate Majority Leader. As if right on cue, Senator Serdste burst into his daughter’s home.
Jack Crawford and Will Graham both stood upon the abrupt entry of the Anastassia’s father. She did not.
“Hi Dad. Thanks for knocking.” She looked at her father with warmth and adoration, but there was certain tightness to the smile. Anastassia gave a nod to the three gentlemen with him. She knew who they were; they were part of her father’s security team.
Lecter moved away from Anastassia for the first time since the FBI came into her home. Extending a hand, he nodded to the other man. “Good to see you again Senator, I wish it was under better circumstances.”
“Thank you Hannibal. Thank you for staying with my daughter.”
Lecter nodded and this time he took a seat next to Anastassia. He was listening to every word and speaking very little. There was a touch of cruelty in his smile that very few would ever notice. The discussion continued on. The men of the FBI and the Secret Service spoke of tactics to keep Anastassia safe.
When everything was said and done, it had been decided that she would have a security detail with her at all times. She was not happy.
“How in the hell am I supposed to work?”
“Your safety is more important than your job Anastassia.” Her father spoke first.
“Reality check Dad. Who knows if this guy is going to come after me. Who knows when this man will be captured, if at all.”
Lecter gave Anastassia’s should a light squeeze once again. Leaning down, he whispered softly to her. “Ma Stassi, may I have a word privately please?”
“Excuse us for a moment gentlemen.”
She rose swiftly and headed into her kitchen with Lecter at her side. Once the door was closed, she turned to him. “What did you need to see me for?”
“The FBI will do their best. You need to attend to your safety first and foremost Anastassia. I will not permit you to put your life in danger my dear.”
Her expression softened and she nodded. “Very well Hannibal.” She sighed. She would listen to him before the other men, including her own father.
They walked back out and once more took a seat. It was decided. She would have three armed agents with her at all times. A female agent would reside in the house with her and two more agents would be watching the perimeter. Whenever she would leave the house, an agent would be by her side at all times and the other two would be near. There would even be an agent with her in the operating theater. Anastassia was not happy with the idea, but she would live with it.