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copyright 2003, by Kurt GW

Disclaimer:    Dr. Hannibal Lecter was created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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PART 1


Here at the FBI, things are just a little happier than they are normally. It’s a little brighter and a little busier, and the people who work here have made a bit more of an effort to cheer up the place. Today is a special day, you know. It’s April of 2020, a bright happy day here in Virginia, and there’s a field trip coming through, you know. Not just any field trip; this is a school from an area where a lot of FBI agents live. So of course the people who work here want to make the place spiffy. After all, it is their children who are visiting. There are those who say the FBI can be a voracious beast chewing on those who labor for it, but that’s not the sort of impression that the brass wants to make on their children. Some of these kids are old enough to understand that their parents may, at some point, give their lives in service of justice. The FBI wants to show them that it’s just a regular old fuzzy bunny as a workplace.

Is Special Agent Clarice M. Starling here among this subterranean hallway, you ask? I’m afraid not. Special Agent Clarice M. Starling vanished in 1998 and resurfaced in 2009 with a young five-year-old daughter in tow. It was a very tough time; Clarice Starling’s daughter looked a lot like her, but those maroon eyes gave away her paternity pretty clearly.

Clarice Starling? She was given a sealed name change in 2010, along with her daughter, under the auspices of the Witness Protection Program. She eschewed plastic surgery, though, and she did not want to be resettled. The Tattler tried for a couple of years to get access to her new identity. It only stopped after one of its reporters went just a wee bit too far. He’s serving five years in a federal prison now. After that, subsequent reporters decided that stories with headlines like ‘BIGFOOT SIGHTED IN COLORADO SPRINGS’ and ‘EGYPTIAN MUMMY COMES TO LIFE’ and ‘FILTH IN YOUR BREAD!’ were perhaps better stories to feature.

But sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight. There is a woman who works here, attached to the Investigative Support Unit. Back when Clarice Starling first became an FBI agent, it was called Behavioral Sciences. Not any more, though.

The one true constant is that everything changes.

Clarice Starling? Don’t ask too many questions or press too hard. If you satisfy yourself with asking where Clarice Starling is, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies will sing you a lovely song of We are not authorized to disclose, the safety of Ms. Starling and her daughter are paramount, and the inevitable chorus of The court has ordered the records sealed; there is nothing we can do. Press too hard and you might find yourself sharing a cell with an unfortunate Tattler reporter.

A hungry world has slavered for details of what Clarice Starling did with Hannibal Lecter for eleven years down in Argentina. The fact that she came back with a maroon-eyed daughter has led them to believe that she must have some story to tell about the years she spent down there in his clutches. But over the years interest has waned. The woman who works here has a very normal life.

Her name is Claire Starkey, this woman here in what was once Behavioral Sciences. Her ID identifies her as a Federal Investigator. Officially, she is somewhere in the void that Will Graham once was; she is not a sworn agent of the FBI, but she has a gun and identification entitling her to carry it. She works here as a sort of consultant in Investigative Support. She is authorized to see the same files that the real, standard FBI profilers are.

For eleven years she slept; for eleven more years she has been content. The first few years had been tumultuous. Her daughter had taken a great deal of adjusting to the new reality that her father was no longer here. The FBI was also very interested in Susana’s father herself. And they did have some interest in just why it was that Clarice Starling had disappeared for eleven years and returned with a monster’s daughter in tow.

Had it not been for the good graces of Special Agent Ardelia Mapp Bridell, things might have ended much differently: there was quiet talk in the corridors of power of incarcerating Clarice Starling, shipping her daughter quietly off to some state where they could keep her in a state home, and prying whatever information they wanted from both of them in complete privacy.

Much had changed with Clarice Starling in those years; much had also changed with Ardelia Mapp. She had married and had a daughter of her own, two years younger than Susana. But one thing had remained constant: when Clarice needed her, she was there. A fully qualified attorney, she defended Clarice’s interests with a rare ferocity. It was through her that the deal was struck: identity protection, a position with the FBI doing what she had always wanted to do, and amnesty for l’affaire Verger. In return, Clarice agreed to undergo hypnotic-regression therapies to attempt to gain what insight there might be into Dr. Lecter’s ways and means of hiding from the authorities.

There had been much usable information gained from those sessions, but there was no final success in catching the evil psychiatrist. He remains free and unknown to the law now as he did then.

All the same, Claire Starkey is content with her life. She has a job doing what she always wanted to do. She has a home and a sixteen-year-old daughter. Yes, it’s true that her daughter rolls her eyes at her decrepit old mother more than Claire would like, but Susana Starkey is sixteen. Such behavior is expected. The important thing is that she has been safe from Hannibal Lecter for lo these eleven years, safe, and happy. Claire has achieved a rare and real peace one does not expect to see in a woman who hunts serial killers for a living.

It’s sort of an open secret here in Behavioral Sciences that Claire Starkey is Clarice Starling. Everyone knows, but it is a secret held within the bounds of the department. Occasionally someone may call her Clarice at work, but whenever there are outsiders around, it’s strictly ‘Investigator Starkey’ or ‘Claire’. The department is protective of her.

And her daughter is here today, don’t you know, for the field trip. Ardelia Mapp has dropped by the subterranean offices. Yes, Clarice knows her friend is married and that she is now part of the socio-sexual corporation of ‘Mr. And Mrs. Harold Bridell’, but to her, ‘Delia will always be Ardelia Mapp. Clarice and Ardelia have amused themselves by mimicking the sheer horror their teenage daughters will evince if they see their mothers while on this field trip. Susana and her friend Amika have expressed ardent displeasure against their mothers ‘making a scene’ – making a scene apparently signifying noting the existence of their daughters while on this field trip. Such a thing is beyond pain to a teenager. In order to avoid humiliating their offspring, they have elected to keep from keeping tabs on the tour as it runs through the lower intestine of Quantico. On the other hand, if the girls should happen to see them as they go through Behavioral Sciences, then they must suffer the consequences. Perhaps maternal recognition will cause the two to turn into skeletons. Clarice and Ardelia will just have to see.
Right now they’ve been moving through the crime labs, and Clarice can hear them from where she sits. The FBI has a tour guide for these sorts of things, and he is engaged in herding the group of bored teenagers through the labs. She can hear him now, sounding bizarrely like Your Cruise Director Julie, and she can’t help but snicker.

“This is the FBI’s DNA scanning labs,” the tour guide says. “Around the turn of the century, DNA testing technology took a few days to work. These days, we can do it in minutes. The FBI has the largest known DNA database in the world. All incarcerated persons are required to submit a DNA sample. All FBI agents are, as well. Our scanning technology can verify a person’s DNA pattern without a shadow of a doubt.”

Ardelia is sitting across from Clarice, and they share a grin in the office. They can just see their daughters standing in the shuffling mass of bored teenagers. Ardelia parodies her own daughter by adopting a burlesque expression of agony, rolling her eyes so that just a sliver of brown iris shows just below her upper eyelids. Clarice grins, rolls her own eyes, and mouths the word Booo-ring. They try not to giggle.

The tour guide continues. “Just a few flakes of skin or a hair is all we need. Our DNA database is also capable of determining if two people are related. It is the only DNA matching program in the world that has the official blessing of the United States Supreme Court. We can determine if two people are blood relatives with complete accuracy. Scanning someone’s DNA takes only a moment or two. Would one of you like to volunteer?”

Clarice tries to return to her work; the words do not register on her. She doesn’t hear the tour guide say that all he needs is a strand of hair. She doesn’t really pay attention to the muttered giggles, or the ever-familiar hum of the DNA scanner doing its work. The tour guide announcing that it will take just a few minutes goes unremarked. She takes a long swig of coffee and tries to settle into the file she is reading.

But a few minutes later, something does attract her attention. From the room down the hall comes a sudden shrill computer alarm. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep….

“What the hell?” the tour guide asks.

Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep goes the alarm, and suddenly Clarice Starling knows what has happened, knows it in the pit of her stomach where all bad news resides. Claire and Susana Starkey have had a pleasant life for these past eleven years. But Clarice has never told her daughter who she really is, or who her father really is. Susana has known that her father was an Argentine man and that Clarice left him when she was five years old. She has claimed to have little memory of him. But she does not know who her parents are.

Well, she didn’t know five minutes ago.

The coffee in her mouth suddenly burns her sinuses as she gags. There is a big hot jolt of discomfort, then a feeling that reminds her of swimming at the beach and getting water up her nose. But it isn’t water; it’s coffee, black with extra sugar, and she sneezes it out her nose with a painful choked sneeze. Ardelia Mapp’s white blouse now sports a stain that matches her skin.

Clarice means to apologize, but she can’t. Her throat is partially charred and her sinuses clogged by the coffee’s unexpected exit. She can only look at her friend and mouth I’m sorry. Her blue eyes are wide with horror. Dread puddles in her gut like heavy, bitter oil. As she rises, her knees jelly and it takes a conscious act of will to make them firm again. With a look of horror on her face, she turns and takes a few jerky steps out into the hall. The forensics labs are only a few yards away, but to Clarice it seems like miles.

Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep, the universal sound of the shit hitting the fan in the Age of Silicon, and Clarice Starling knows that her pleasant little life with her daughter is now changed if not gone. A simple field trip has changed her life and her daughter’s life irrevocably and forever. It is with some horror that she rounds the threshold of the door and stares inside.

Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep, the shrill electronic tone warbling in the ears of the stunned teenagers, and in the front stands Susana Starkey with a stunned look upon her face. Her maroon eyes are blank and wide. Next to her is the tour guide, the thrice-damned tour guide who has ruined Clarice Starling’s life in just a few moments, and his eyes are blank with surprise too.

On a nearby monitor screen is a twisting DNA helix with the name SUSANA STARKEY written next to it. On the bottom of the screen are words that chill Clarice Starling’s blood.

MATERNAL MATCH FOUND: STARLING, CLARICE M/ FBI EMPL/WITSEC ID 21330654/ALT ID STARKEY CLAIRE

If it was just that, she could deal with it and explain to her stunned daughter later. But there is more. Blood tells a fascinating tale, and Susana’s blood is not done telling hers.

PATERNAL MATCH FOUND: and the next words are ones Clarice would’ve been happy never to see again, but just to rub it in a little more they are outlined in red and blink on the screen to make sure everyone pays attention to these words that read LECTER HANNIBAL MD/VICAP FILE #6223421234/10 MOST-WANTED LIST.

There is a laser printer not far from the monitor and the computer and Clarice’s daughter staring blankly at her. Paper is humming out of it. Susana isn’t looking at it; she has turned to stare at her mother framed in the doorway. She is the same person she was this morning; she wears the same jeans and sneakers and T-shirt, but she has just learned she is not the person she thought she was, and neither is her mother…or her father.

But Clarice is looking at it, and her stomach clenches and roils. All the kids turn to stare at her as Susana does, looking equally confused. Perhaps Susana will be arrested, they think. Perhaps Susana has a seee-cret. It sure looks like she does, that’s what the faces of the kids say. A few of the kids glance over at the laser printer, and Clarice glances over at it and finally looks away, unable to bear the shock of it anymore.

Out of the printer steadily crawl Hannibal Lecter’s face and fingerprints.

Mother and daughter stare at each other. There is a strong resemblance. They have the same delicate features and the same brown hair. Right now, they also have the same deathly pallor and expression of shock.

“This…this is wrong,” Susana says, and her tone shakes and jitters. She stares at the feared name of Dr. Lecter on the screen and then looks at that merciless face printed in living color on the paper. “It’s got to be wrong. That’s not…that’s not my father, is it?”

Silence holds sway in the room after her words drop off. Clarice’s gut churns. She had meant to tell Susana. Some day. She really had. But not…not like this. Her throat clogs, but she must speak. It takes another conscious act of will to force herself to form words.

Tears of pain and shame form in her eyes. But she cannot lie. “I’m sorry, Susana,” she says in a choked whisper. “It is.”


FIN

Part 1 of 19

copyright 2003, by Kurt GW

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