Disclaimer in first chapter
“So, Faith Lehane… Lehane is Irish, yes? You do not physically appear to carry Irish characteristics… but I would expect your would find such tendencies in your behavior,” Lecter commented wryly, and Faith stiffened.
Was he mocking her? He was acting like he already knew her… what did he mean, saying she had Irish tendencies? Was he implying that she was a drunk, uneducated hothead?
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked tautly, but Lecter politely ignored both tone and question, still regarding her almost pleasantly.
“And Faith… usually a name chosen by parents of religious faith, particularly of a Catholic background. But your parents were not actively religious, were they, Faith?”
“No,” Faith replied with a shrug, somewhat relieved; so this was where all that was leading. The guy was going to try to ease into the nitty-gritty details of her screwy childhood… whatever, she could deal with that, deflect it, now that she knew where it was going.
“Nah, expect they were going for the irony on that one.”
“Is that so?” Lecter replied, and his voice was soft, even, his gaze unwavering. Something about it was almost hypnotic, compelling… even as it unsettled Faith, a part of her didn’t want to look away.
“What do you mean by saying that, Faith?” Lecter continued, and Faith ripped her eyes away from his, her heart beating rapidly quite suddenly. She kept her eyes deliberately averted as she replied to him roughly.
“Look, I know what you’re going for here, DOC,” she spat, deliberately using the nickname not only to show her contempt for him, but also to prove to herself that she wasn’t intimidated too. “You’re trying to get me to spill my guts over having a bad childhood and get me moaning and crying over how my mama didn’t love me enough made me do all the big bad evil things I did the past couple of years. Well screw that, there’s nothing to tell, and I’m not saying it anyway. I was born, I grew up. End of story.”
“Did you really?” Lecter remarked mildly, seeming unmoved entirely by her roughness, by her use of the nickname he had explicitly warned her not to use. “Grow up, that is…”
Faith’s face flushed slightly, from both anger and embarrassment; how the hell had she managed to walk into that one? She had to give the old guy credit- he was slicker than she would have thought.
“Okay, I’ll give you that one, smartass,” she muttered. “But that’s all you’re gonna get… from this point on, you’re just wasting your time…” she let herself smirk, raising her eyebrows and deliberately stretching as much as her cuffed hands would allow. “That is, unless you just like the view.”
All the other psychiatrists, in Faith’s previous experiences- actually, most older adults in positions of authority over her- would definitely be flustered by such an implication on her part. But Lecter just continued to regard her without expression changing… if anything, he was showing a hint of a smirk as well.
“I assure you, Faith, that I am quite uninterested in your ‘charms,’” he said dryly, obvious sarcastic emphasis on the last word. “I have nothing but disdain and contempt for those controlled by their sexual inclinations, and beyond that, a girl such as yourself would not in the least interest me.”
“Well, guess your ‘sexual inclination’ isn’t straight then, huh?” Faith shot back as she allowed her posture to relax to its previous carefully uncaring position.
She did her best not to show it on her face, but she actually was a little stung by Lecter’s wry response and seeming total lack of response to her sexually. Could he really not find her attractive? And why the hell did she care?
“You mean ‘orientation,’ Faith, not ‘inclination,’” Lecter corrected; she heard the amusement in his voice and bristled. Seeing this, he smiled. “You have no reason to be insulted. You are an attractive girl to most, I am sure. You are simply not one that I would find sufficiently suitable to my sexual desires.”
“Oh yeah?” Faith couldn’t resist, her eyebrows shooting up even higher. “Might I ask who would be?”
“No,” Lecter replied affably, his faint smile not fading at the open hostility in her voice, and Faith wondered how it was that she was being drawn into this- how the hell had it happened?
“Faith, it does not escape me that you are avoiding speaking to me about yourself,” Lecter continued, his eyes still locked on hers. “You are trying to deter my attention away from you upon yourself. This will not be successful. I am here to talk about you. Because you seem so reluctant to do so, I will allow you now to decide where you would like to start. What would you like to talk to me about in regards to your life?”
“Well, that’s pretty easy,” Faith replied quickly, confidence alight in her tone now- she was relieved to have an answer, a way out of this at last. “There’s nothing at all I want to talk to you about. Makes your job easier, huh? So why don’t we just sit here and do our thing- you get paid, I get outta my cell a while, we both win. Sounds like a plan to me.”
“I don’t believe that, Faith,” Lecter replied so firmly that Faith’s irritation was equaled by unease. “You do wish to talk with someone… you wish to talk with me, whether you allow yourself to acknowledge it or not…you wish to do so desperately. But you will not… you cannot allow yourself to, because you are afraid,” he said softly, intently, his pale eyes bearing across the table into hers. “You are afraid of what you would say, how it might make you feel… but mostly, you are afraid that if you should attempt to speak, to share yourself, that you would discover that there is no one around you, no one on all this earth, who would care enough to listen.”
At those softly spoken words, Faith froze, for a moment unable to look away from that penetrating gaze as her mind raced, defensive, rattled. Finally, her voice a little louder, a little less even and more defensive than she had intended, she shot back, “Oh yeah? That’s what you think, DOC? You don’t know shit about me- you don’t know shit about anything!”
“No?” Lecter threw back at her, his voice growing quieter still, but there was an edge to his tone, steel to his voice and eyes as he replied. “I would first like to remind you, Faith, that I have made it quite clear to you that you are to refrain from addressing me as anything other than Dr. Lecter. And I would then counter your statement by asserting that I do in fact think I know you. I believe, in fact, that I know you better than yourself.”
“So you read my files and that makes you know me?” Faith laughed, but there was no humor in the sound. She rolled her eyes, as much for her own benefit as for Lecter’s. “First off, they don’t tell you shit about ME, they tell you everything I did to make me a bad girl whose gotta cool her heels behind bars, and listen to pricks like you try to play doctor with my head ‘cause they’re too scared to do it with my body. Like I said, you don’t know shit.”
“Do you care to test that theory?” Lecter leveled, his tone and expression unchanged by the mocking of Faith’s word, and she set her jaw, not liking his continued cool confidence, the fact that she still had not shaken him in the slightest. He was still watching her, almost unblinking, and Faith felt more restless and discomfited than ever, barely resisting her urge to squirm and look away from him.
“The files told me some facts about you, yes…but simply being in this room with you tells me so much more, more than you could possibly be aware of,” Lecter almost purred, his voice a low, nearly velvety cadence that Faith inwardly writhed at. “Your posture, your facial expressions, the way you shift your weight and move your hands even while cuffed… and let us not forget your eyes. Your eyes are truly the windows to your soul, Faith… and whether or not you realize it, and I believe that you do not, your eyes are more transparent than most.”
“You think you’re some kinda mind reader?” Faith said quickly, staying on the defensive, aware of the tautness of her muscles even more strongly now. “I know you don’t know nothing you didn’t read or someone didn’t tell you, that’s bullshit. You just want me to tell you what’s what to prove how wrong you are. I might not be a rocket scientist, but I’m not stupid either. You’re not gonna get me to tell you nothing.”
“No?” Lecter asked, and there was not even a hint of surprise in his tone. “Then I’ll have to tell you.”
He leaned in toward her, his eyes slightly narrowed, yet still fixated unwaveringly on hers… his voice lowered, soft, but intense, and Faith couldn’t help but listen, couldn’t help but allow him to continue. She didn’t understand why this was, why she couldn’t tune him out, be indifferent to him as to everyone else… but for some reason, she simply couldn’t. She couldn’t make herself do it.
“What you are, Faith, is a child… in every possible sense of the word. Impulsive, mentally and emotionally underdeveloped, your desires and needs overruling any more logical part of you… you may look and behave like a woman, an experienced, unflappable veteran of life and the ways of this world, but it’s all a mask of what you truly are inside.”
His voice lowered further still, but Faith caught every word, could almost physically feel them burning into her brain.
“You are nothing more than a little girl in all reality, Faith…a desperate, terrified small child who was never loved by her mother, and who was loved too enthusiastically by her mother’s string of male visitors. You look now for someone to give you that perfect and unconditional love you never had, the love you need so very intensely in order to feel that you and your life has value…but you haven’t found that love, have you? No one is willing to give it to you..perhaps no one alive is even capable of it. And so you became angry… you lashed out at the world, hurting because you hurt, hating because you have no love… all that toughness and independence you make sure to display, all that nonchalance, it may be real in part… but it’s also a cover, isn’t it, Faith? It overrides the greater truth of who and what you are. Frightened…needy… and weak.”
Faith froze; for several moments she was unable to speak, unable to even think in any logical manner. She was dimly aware of the dryness in her mouth, the constriction in her throat, and the pounding unevenness of her heartbeat, and she could not yet even experience a sense of disgust at them. She could barely wrap her mind around Lecter’s words enough to make sense of them, let alone to deny them. And she had to deny them…they couldn’t be true, he was wrong, very fuckin’ wrong-
Only he wasn’t… a soft, nonetheless firm voice somewhere inside told her that he wasn’t. Still she fought against it, fiercely protesting.
“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.