It had taken 26 long months to find him. She had almost given up hope of ever seeing him again – particularly without the resources of the Bureau at her disposal.
Now she finds herself in front of the house he is renting in South America. She goes around to the back and picks the lock on one of the doors. She roams from room to room searching for him and finally stops in the doorway of an upstairs bedroom. She clutches the door frame for support, trembling with the excitement of seeing him once again and with dread in anticipation of his response to her after the unfortunate outcome of their last meeting.
His back is to her, but she knows that he is aware of her presence. When he turns around, his deep maroon eyes are flat and cold. There is no trace of the playful gleam that she has longed to see once more.
“Why are you here, former Special Agent Starling? I don’t know of anything we might have to say to one another.”
“Hannibal, please. You have to listen to me,” she begs. “I must have loved you for years, only I’m such a stupid fool I didn’t know it. You must care. I’m sure you did.”
“You’ve been very frank, Clarice. And what about the FBI?”
“I never really loved the FBI.”
“You certainly gave a good impression of it up to now. No, Clarice. I tried everything. If you’d only met me half way on the Chesapeake.”
“I was so glad to see you. I was, Hannibal. But that situation with Paul Krendler was such a shock.”
“You were injured, and it was because of me. I hoped that you’d at least call out for me, but you didn’t.”
“I wanted you. I wanted you desperately, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted me.”
“It seems we’ve been at cross purposes, doesn’t it? But it’s no use now. As long as I believed that you might be conflicted about sending me back, there was a chance we might be happy. But when you chose to cuff me, you changed everything.”
“Oh, Hannibal, Hannibal. Please don’t say that. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for everything.”
“My little Starling. You’re such a child. You think that by saying ‘I’m sorry,’ all the past can be corrected.”
She begins to sob, face in her hands.
“Here, take this towel. Never at any crisis of your life have I known you to have a towel.”
He walks out of the room, but she stops him at the head of the main staircase. He is on his way to the front door.
“Hannibal, Hannibal. Where are you going?”
“I’m going to Florence. Back where I belong.”
“Please, please take me with you.”
“No. I’m through with you and the FBI. I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left of charm and grace. Do you know what I’m talking about? Make an effort at an answer.”
“No,” she sobs, one hand clutching the towel to her breast, the other clutching desperately at his arm. “I only know that I love you.”
“That’s your misfortune.”
He pulls away from her and starts through the open door, but turns to look back at her as she calls out to him with an anguished cry.
“Hannibal! Hannibal, if you leave now, where shall I go? What shall I do?”
“Frankly, Clarice, I don’t give a damn.”