copyright 2001, by
The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling and Paul Krendler
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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One thing she was certain of when she arrived was
the amusement Dr. Lecter would find in her resorting to a Motel 6.
With little pocket change as it was, it seemed to be the most logical
Once everything was
settled in, Starling took a moment to gaze at her surroundings, awestruck.
What am I doing here?
Was it possible that just five
hours ago she was reading a letter from Dr. Lecter and had made the conscious,
undrugged decision to fly down here on a wild goose chase?
She had her .45 handy, something the Bureau would scream at her for.
Now that she thought about it, the idea that Dr. Lecter was down here now
mocked her, and she was almost immediately convinced that she had wasted her
time and money for nothing.
Were you really foolish
enough to believe that he would willingly allow you to find him here?
He’s had two months to settle elsewhere, in Europe, where his tastes
are commendable and he wouldn’t stand out.
For Christ’s sake, he has the most recognizable face in the world right
now. Did you honestly think, girl,
that he would stay in the United States simply because of you?
Letting out a breath, Starling allowed her form to collapse on her bed.
After a few minutes, she stretched out onto the mattress and fell asleep.
When she awoke, Starling was drenched in sweat.
She was still lying in bed, above the covers, having never made her way
under their protection. The room itself was vacant, though the effects
of the dream forced her to search each room thoroughly several times
before she was satisfied that she was alone.
Daylight. There was little to fear in daylight.
The perfect archetype signaling trouble was a dark, stormy night. It was
neither dark nor stormy, and though it was something small and silly to
find faith in, for the next few hours, Starling was at peace.
She spent the majority of the day trying to get
her mind off her true purpose here, doing her best to ignore the fact
the Dr. Lecter could be watching her. Spending what little cash she had
to burn, Starling made the purchase of lunch and a pair of -
You know what you look like to me with your good
bag and your cheap -
shoes. Quite exquisite; Dr. Lecter would be
For Christ’s sake, will you get out of my head?!
Oh yes. Get him out of your head. You forget your
primary objective here is to find him. It would do well to get him out
of your head now. Good one, girl, good one.
Maybe she should fly home tonight. Okay, so, she
was here. Now what? Did she honestly expect him to be the first person
she met on the street? In a town this big, with the knowledge that he
might not even be here?
You know, you drastically need work on your
As the day progressed, Starling became more and
more determined to leave as soon as possible. She was almost certain,
even after a day, that she had been led here under false pretenses.
Needless to say, it was well past dark before she
could pull herself from the quaint shops in the French Quarter. It had
been long since her last visit to New Orleans, and in her tossing of
thoughts, she forgot exactly where she was. The town was dangerous for a
single white female at night. As she entered more secluded and dangerous
ground, she became steadily aware of her .45 attached to her ankle, yet
the thought gave her little comfort.
Soon, the click of her heels against the pavement
was joined with another. Starling’s breath caught in her throat. Now
don’t panic. You’re a trained federal officer. A thug shouldn’t be
However, she refused to allow herself to turn
around. Perhaps it was simply another patron from the busy streets
wanting to return to their house or hotel or wherever they were staying.
An instinctive shiver of her heart told her
otherwise. The footsteps behind her increased in speed. Starling’s
breaths quickened; she heard them echoing around her and was sure
whomever was behind heard them as well.
Reach for your gun. No. Don’t pause. Keep
walking. Hurry now. Hurry!
They were directly behind her now. Starling knew
her time for reaction was gone. A fierce hand grasped her arm and
twirled her to face him. She found herself yearning to see the doctor’s
familiar eyes, but the gaze she received was cold and foreign. A small
gasp permeated the air as the nozzle of a gun met her eyes.
“Your money. Now. Don’t scream. Scream, and
you’re dead. Do you understand me?”
Starling nodded quickly, refusing to let her
strength betray her. She looked to her purse and fumbled to pull the
zipper open, unaware of her rapidly increasing breaths. Please
don’t panic. Please God, don’t let me panic!
A hand pried at her throat, the other keeping the
gun with her eye level. Starling let out a whimper against her will,
feeling her strength beginning to crumple. She felt the hand leave her
neck and trail down her body to her belt. Obviously, he wouldn’t be
satisfied merely taking her money.
“Oh God,” she muttered, her voice clogging
with tears. The belt pulled itself free of her waist and was discarded
on the concrete.
“Like I said,” replied the assailant in a
husky voice, “scream and die.”
Suddenly, her breath caught in her throat as the
grip on her waist was released. The nozzle also disappeared from her
eyes. A voice, so welcome and soothing at this point greeted her ears,
and she nearly cried out in relief, yet refrained.
“Bonsoir, si vous ne vous occupez pas de tourner
autour de…” The doctor’s French
flowed beautifully, though Starling had little time to savor it as a
knife quickly sprang from his side and slashed across her assailant’s
neck. The man gurgled and dropped beside her belt. Starling, sprayed
only minimally with blood, looked to him with a slow, breath. After a
few minutes, she brought herself to meet her savior’s gaze, and let
out an exasperated breath of relief and comfort, though that was not
revealed in her voice. “Dr. Lecter,” she said shortly.
As always, his eyes were unreadable, yet by
looking in them she knew that he had been following her for the majority
of the day.
Relief swept over her once again, but was replaced
with uncertainty at recalling her dream the prior night.
“Good evening, Clarice,” he said finally,
wiping the side of his mouth quickly with the knife hand. Anyone else
would have lost an element of mystery with the common gesture, but not
him. No, it made him, if possible, to look even more elegant. Starling’s
“Good evening, Dr. Lecter,” she replied, not
being able to stop the extreme relief from flowing into her tone.
“Are you all right?” he asked calmly.
“Yes.” Strength recollected in her tone, yet
it was still shaky. At that, she burst into tears, the horror of the
events finally catching up to her. She cursed herself for crying but she
couldn’t stop it; the tears poured openly and gave no sense of
“Hush, now, little Starling.” Dr. Lecter
flashed the blade away as though it never were and took her in his
massive embrace, encouraging her to rest her head on his shoulder. “You’re
Am I, Doctor? You tell me.
Starling pulled away and nodded, her cheeks
stiffening as the tears stopped their flow and crusted against her skin.
Almost subconsciously, Dr. Lecter drew a hand across her face and
brushed the remains away before stepping back completely, evaluating
Though brief, Starling was horrified to find
herself savoring the touch, and more over, wanting another. However, she
did nothing to break the space between them.
“Why are you here, Clarice?”
He waited patiently as she found her voice, and
she took comfort in the soothing quality his voice generated to her
“Your letter brought me. I thought it was a long
shot, but here you are.”
Dr. Lecter grinned slightly, entertaining the idea
that he had grown predictable. “And here I am. Congratulate yourself,
Ex Special Agent Starling, you have found me. What exactly did you hope
Starling, shook her head, wondering when his voice
had stolen the words she had been asking herself all day. “I…I don’t
know, Dr. Lecter. Things are…a mess.”
“A ‘mess?’ How elaborate.” There was a
cold tone now, biting and almost carrying a threatening quality.
Oh please. Please. If you only knew what I’ve
“Dr. Lecter, I didn’t come here for sympathy,
or guidance, or to fix a mistake I am willing to admit that I might have
made. I came here…simply because I had to. Your letter-”
“Which part of my letter brought you from the
comforting familiarity of your home? Certainly not the descriptive
distaste I found in Paul Krendler’s contribution to our dinner two
Letting out a breath, Starling shook her head. “No,
Dr. Lecter…not that.”
“Then what? Quote the exact passage, Clarice. I
want to hear my words on your tongue, with all the emotion that
convinced you to bring yourself across the country in the hope that I
just might be here.” Dr. Lecter looked intrigued, the coldness drawing
away from his voice as though it hadn’t existed.
Starling drew in a breath, having memorized
practically every word on the flight over. Slowly, she recited, “ ‘Now
what are you left with? A bad name, a tarnished career, a stolen kiss
from lips you will never feel again?’ That…I suppose…and one
“Tell me.” Dr. Lecter’s eyes, unchanging,
remained burnt into hers.
“ ‘Where am I within you?’” Starling broke
her gaze, unable to register that she was here, in New Orleans, before
renowned killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and basically admitting that she
felt something for him, after everything.
Who am I? Why am I here? What is left of me if
I allow myself to admit that I could possibly love a being that goes
against every moral ethic I ever crafted of myself? Why does he empower
and excite me rather than scare the shit out of me?
Whatever she expected to see in Dr. Lecter’s
eyes, she did not. Instead of a cold stare, she found humor and
reasoning. “Am I to understand you came all this way for a single
“I came here to find out who I am, Dr. Lecter,”
Starling replied steadily, surprised and equally frightened by the
strength supporting her voice. The truth was, she wasn’t ready to
know, or to find out, even by accident.
Who am I?
“Clarice, don’t you believe you have known me
long enough to discard the formalities? Please, my name is Hannibal. Say
it as well as what you feel.”
Starling closed her eyes, something she knew might
bring about her end. “Dr…excuse me, Hannibal…I don’t know what I
want. The Bureau isn’t me; I don’t think it ever has been me. I don’t
expect anything of you…and I honestly don’t know what the entire
force was that brought me down here. Perhaps it was…the thrill of the
unknown. I am confused…you confused me and you can’t take that back.
I honestly don’t know what you expect of me anymore.”
A reasonable silence. “Clarice, I never expected
anything you were not capable of. You are your own person, and I can
mold you into nothing that you do not likewise mold yourself into.”
Dr. Lecter surprised them both by closing the space between them. “I
know who you are, Clarice Starling, I’ve always known. Forgive me; it
seems the words in my letter were a misled lie.” His eyes landed on
her mouth. “Or simply misled.” With that, he brushed his lips
against hers, and she savored the taste of his mouth. When she did not
withdraw, Dr. Lecter drew himself closer, his tongue breaking the
barrier of her mouth and he drank her in. Starling, at a loss for words,
found herself incapable of any other action other than to wrap her arms
around him, letting out a satisfied sigh as his lips moved from hers and
found her neck.
“Do you know, Clarice? Do you know who you are
now?” His voice was close, terribly close to her ear, his breath warm
yet it sent shivers over her body.
“Yes!” she replied, perhaps too eagerly,
wanting only at the moment to pull him closer. “I know exactly who I
am.” And at that moment, she truly did. She knew who she was, and the
only person she ever wanted to be. There, in the night of New Orleans,
in the arms of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, she felt truly at peace for the
first time since the death of her father.
“Tell me who you are, Clarice.” His arms
clasped tighter around her, strong and urgent.
Starling pulled herself away, simply so she could
look into his eyes. “I’m yours, if you want me.”
Dr. Lecter looked at her for a long moment; it was
enough for her to panic that his intentions were not to claim her,
rather to tease and kill.
However, every doubt she had felt or would ever
feel was swept away with his words. “I have known this since the day I
met you, Clarice. I wondered how long it would take for you to come to
the same conclusion. Now…” His voice trailed off as his eyes landed
on her mouth once again, and she could barely manage a gasp as he
claimed it once more. A few breathless minutes later, Dr. Lecter pulled
away and whispered, “I believe these streets are not as safe as you
are used to. Come.” With that, he took her arm and enclosed it with
his own, and led her down the street, eventually to coming across the
extravagant Windsor hotel, a great improvement over her own.
Once they were secured behind a locked door, Dr.
Lecter, always the gentlemen, caressed her hair, pulling it from its
design, his hand trailing down her cheek. “Are you sure you want to be
“Yes…I’m very sure.”
“After tonight, there is no looking back.”
At the sound of his name on her mouth, spoken
without hesitation, made him smile. His mouth found hers, and as they
fell onto the bed, Starling was sure the only person she was ever meant
to be was here, right within his arms.
Two weeks later, Starling sent a letter to Jack
Crawford. It was short, explanatory, yet still overlapped with shadows
of her whereabouts.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t see
myself in the Bureau. I’m not sure if I ever could. Thank you for
everything you ever did for me. You’ve been a great friend.
The words stung Crawford, for he could only guess
what they meant.
The Bureau, after reading the letter, removed her
name from their association forever.
At the same moment Crawford was reading her
letter, Starling and Dr. Lecter were enjoying an exquisite bubble bath.
Her hair was a deeper shade now, and they were far from New Orleans, or
anywhere in the United States.
Neither were seen by any prior associates again.
Part 2 of 2
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copyright 2001, by
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