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Faint of Heart

copyright 2003, by Steel

Disclaimer:    These characters were 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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Clarice wasn’t sure this was such a good idea, but that never seemed to stop her before. After receiving Dr. Lecter’s invitation, she debated whether or not to turn over his request for the meeting to the Bureau, or to actually show up. He had promised that no harm would come to her, but it wasn’t herself she was worried about, or was it? She made her decision after reading the last line of the letter about a dozen times : One last time, Clarice.

Special Agent Clarice M. Starling stood waiting at the deserted construction site. Waiting for what, she wasn’t sure. Waiting for whom, she knew all to well. Curiosity had gotten the better of her. The thought that this would be the last time she would see him caused her some discomfort. If Hannibal Lecter wanted to disappear forever, he would. She knew there would be nothing she could do to find him. The only reason he had surfaced at all in the last ten years was for her benefit. If that were to cease, he would truly be gone. She was confused about her feelings for him, but knew she could not act on them. Would not act on them. She was happy now, well mostly. Clarice had settled in with the Bureau and was in a comfortable place in her life. Things didn’t always have to be so complicated, if she didn’t make them that way.

It was almost midnight. Valentine’s Day. She wondered why he had chosen this day. Must have his reasons, he always does, she thought. Looking around, she saw no sign of him. Climbing to the second floor of the half-finished home, she walked out onto what was eventually to become the balcony, to try and get a better look at her surroundings.

As she looked out over the railing, lost in thought, she felt strong hands gently grasp her shoulders. Frozen in place, she didn’t speak. Dr. Lecter stepped closer until his chest was touching her back. He let his hands glide softly down her arms until reaching her hands. Entwining her fingers with his own, he brought her arms up, crossing them over her chest.
He tilted his head and brushed a whisper of a kiss along her exposed neckline.

If Jell-O had legs, it would be Clarice Starling in that moment.

“Dr. Lecter.” She finally managed to vocalize.

“Shh…..Before you begin your interrogation Agent Starling, I have a proposition for you.”

He felt her stiffen in his arms.

“My life has been full, Clarice. Anything I’ve wanted to do, anywhere I’ve wanted to go, I have done so at my leisure. Even with the inconvenience of your comrades searching desperately for me so as to make a name for themselves; I am satisfied with how things have materialized, with one exception. You, Clarice. Never had I expected to find, or want another person that has intrigued me as much as you, little Starling. I have always taken what I’ve wanted. But you, you cannot be taken. What I want from you, Clarice, must be given freely. So, to my proposition. What I ask of you Clarice is one night. One night with me, of your own free will. And in return, I will accompany you to your masters and allow myself to be incarcerated. Consider this my Valentine’s gift to you. Much better than my last, wouldn’t you agree?”

When his words had finally penetrated her emotional haze, she spun in his arms, not sure if she was going to slap him or kiss him. As it turned out, she did neither. She just stared at him. Not believing what her ears had just relayed to her brain.

“You gotta be kidding me Doctor.”

Clarice had barely spoken the last syllable before he grabbed her around the waist, pulling her so close to him that she had all the hard evidence she needed to understand that he was indeed, ‘not kidding.’

“I am waiting for an answer Clarice,” his voice was a low rumble.

As if another part of her psyche took over, Clarice grabbed his head with both hands and kissed him or bit him, neither could say for sure. It was as though war had just been declared.

The battle lasted for several hours. Although their wounds were not severe, there would be scars. Scars that both would wear proudly.

Silently they watched the sunrise. As the sun cleared the horizon, Clarice got up, pulling away from her battered and bruised lover. He watched her as she dressed, noting a particularly nice purple welt forming just above her left breast. Had it been worth it? he asked himself. Without hesitation the answer came to him. Absolutely.

When he had finished dressing, he joined Clarice on the balcony. They stood there together for several minutes, enjoying the fresh air before the Doctor spoke, “Shall we Agent Starling?”

Turning to face him, she studied his features for a moment before reaching up with one hand to gently touch the nasty bite mark on his lower lip.

“No.” The word was barely audible.

Letting her hand fall from his face, Clarice began to move toward the stairs. When she had reached the doorway she turned to see him giving her a puzzled look.

My Valentine’s gift to you.”

The arching of one brow was to be his only response.

“Your freedom, Hannibal.”

With a sad smile, she turned from him and slowly descended the stairs.

He watched from the balcony as she exited the house and got into her car. The Mustang roared to life and within moments, she was gone.

She never looked back.


copyright 2003, by Steel

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