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An Exercise in Rationalization

copyright 2001, by Zircon

Disclaimer:    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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PART 1


What?

What happened?

Where the fuck am I?

Calm. Stay calm, Starling. You can figure this out. Jesus, my head hurts. And the rest of me. Woozy, like when Jimmy Arnold sneaked that joint into our dormitory and dared me to toke ...

Something itches.

Well I'm not going to find out very much with my eyes closed. Let's give it a minute and do this logically. What's the last thing I remember?

Oh crap. Dr Hannibal Lecter cutting himself free from a forklift truck, as I point a gun at him. I handed him the knife myself - when exactly did I stop valuing my life? Then, a shot from another of Verger's henchmen ... Henchmen? Fuck's sake, Starling, you make it sound like a James Bond movie.

How incredibly embarrassing. I was shot by a shit-scented thug. He got me before I got him. Brigham would be spinning in his grave.

Dr Lecter must have gotten me here. I don't remember ...

... yes I do. He was driving my car, the trees were going past faster than they should've been. Lecter turned to look at me, his head moving slow, a rush of compressing air as his eyes touched me. He looked demonic.

Demonic?

Clarice Starling, you've been watching too much late-night TV.

Okay. I'm lying down. There's a slight breeze. Rhythmic pulses - a ceiling fan. I'm not in the hospital, this bed's too wide. Can't be in a cell, either.

No, I remember the bed. I remember Dr Lecter sitting over me, and the burning in my shoulder. A hunting trophy on the wall, with maroon eyes. Maroon, like his. Well, like his, when he doesn't wear those ridiculous blue contact lenses. Great disguise. Like someone will say to him, "Hey, you look just like the infamous serial killer, Hannibal the Cannibal, but it can't be you because his eyes are purple ..."

So, Lecter brought me here. Somewhere safe, I guess. Secluded? That's more comforting than it should be.

I can smell vanilla.

I have to open my eyes.

Whoa ... okay. Okay, so it is possible to move your eyelids too fast. Give it a second. Can I move? Try the head - yeah, that works. The bedroom, just as I remember. Kind of remember. There's a scented candle burning on the bedside table; that's what I can smell. I'm on top of the bedclothes, and I'm wearing a ...

What the hell is this hideous thing? Some kind of a ... dress? Is he trying to embarrass me into submission? If he's changed my clothes, he's already copped an eyeful, so what's the point in a dress that barely covers my tits ...?

Oh.

Right. He's teasing me. Punishing me. Just because I told him to shut up. He wasn't so concerned with my manners when I had a gun pointed at him.

Try to sit up.

Easy, easy. Lay back down and wait for the room to stop spinning. Okay, try again. Ardelia once told me that if I had anything going for me, it was stubborn persistence. She might be right, there. And I'm sitting up. Dear God, the neckline's so low on this thing, you can see my navel. This isn't fashion, this is cheap titillation.

You know, I get this feeling I should be wearing silk pyjamas. My wrists should be restrained. Where the hell did that come from?

Let's try standing up.

Okay, kneeling on the floor is good. Take a minute. Rest. Right. What time is it? How long have I been out? It's evening. Evening. Maybe a day, then? Maybe this is ... shit, it's the fourth of July. At least, I hope it is.

My skin smells of mint. Oh Lord, he's been rubbing lotion into my body. Guess he likes his women ... acquiescent?

Comatose?

Itching. I'm injured, on my left shoulder, and it itches. Still woozy. If I could focus, I bet I'd see a bang up job on the stitching. I wonder if there's anything he doesn't do to perfection? I doubt it.

Right, let's try the window. I smell water. One foot in front of the other, easy now. Good. It is evening. There's a lake behind the house, a lake, or shoreline, or something. A jetty and a small dock and a boat.

Must be pretty remote, here.

Well, you're on your feet, Starling. Time to check out the lie of the land. Walk.

Okay, stumble. Stumbling's good. Better than lying down and waiting for him - no, don't think about that. This is a big house. Nice. Landing and stairs, a dresser to one side.

Hey, this is all my stuff! Here's my clothes, and my handcuffs, and my gun. So, this is where I pick my gun up and head downstairs and confront the psychopath, right?

Wrong. Even this frock isn't so bad that he deserves shooting. The gun can stay here. I don't need it. I could put my jacket on. No - he wants to ogle my belly button, he's welcome to it.

Next?

A telephone. Great. This is where I call for back up and seal the doctor's fate, right?

Wrong ...

There's voices. I can hear voices downstairs. Is that ... that's Paul Krendler's voice!

Is this Krendler's house? I think he mentioned a lake house once, during one of his less than thinly veiled propositions. Okay. Krendler's here, and that - that sounds like it would be more suited to a dentist's surgery than a homestead. Buzzsaw. Nasty.

No less than the asshole deserves. You'd think people would have learned not to treat me with disrespect, after Miggs. I'd be indignant about the way Hannibal Lecter's always defending my honour, if I wasn't too busy trying not to like it.

What was I doing? Oh yeah, telephone. Who you gonna call? This is Krendler's house, I wonder who he calls? I could take a guess, the lecherous fuck. He has a leather-bound pocket book with every secretary's contact details alphabetised inside. He left it, 'accidentally', on my desk one time, just after I'd turned him down again.

The line's dead.

Oops. Fell over. Wonder what's making me so light-headed? I've been shot, so it's probably a pain-killer. Morphine? That's just great. I'm doped up with morphine and there's a serial killer and a buzzsaw and an asshole downstairs.

Well this is surreal.

Oh! There's the trouble with your phone, ma'am. Bad connection, on account of the wire being sliced through. Is Dr Lecter testing me? Patronising son of a -

Oh shit, my head's spinning, it's spinning, I can't see, and ...

... Daddy. My Daddy, peeling oranges, I'm so mad at him but it's okay ... oranges and SNO BALLS and ... and now he's gone! There's only bones and I'm crying and someone is wiping the tears away and it's him, taking care of me ... a bright, shiny belt buckle and a single source of light and the thoughts in my head coming to some kind of equilibrium, like everything's finally going to be okay ...

It's gone.

Well, that was weird. I'm sitting on the carpet with a broken phone line in my hand, and I'm thinking about my father. Must be the drugs.

There. Fixed the telephone.

Okay, Mr Bigshot Political Climber, let's see who you talk to on the nights you haven't duped some braindead bimbo into coming back here with you.

Last number recall.

"Well hi there, and welcome to Law-Men. If you're in the mood for broad shoulders under tight uniforms and a little bit of the old protect and serve, then you've ..."

Law-Men? What the ...?

"... calls will be charged at ..."

It's a sex line. Krendler calls sex lines, and not just sex lines, gay sex lines! Should have known he was an over-compensator.

Okay. We'll choose option one.

"This is the Beef County Sherriff Station, Deputy Hotrod speaking. I want to help you!"

No, stop giggling. This is serious. Krendler's in the closet, and after that speech he made about tea-party food! Oh, this is so -

"Umm, hi. Hi there."

"Evening, ma'am." Well Mr Sex-line sounds surprised. Guess he doesn't get too many contraltos calling. Shame to let him down. I know, tell him a fantasy. Make him play along.

You know, this is strange. I don't think I should be wearing pyjamas any more. I know I should be wearing cream silk. A cream silk gown, beautiful, and a beaded jacket. And emeralds. That's more like it. That's the Hannibal Lecter I know.

It is?

Don't argue with yourself, Starling. Oh, I've been talking.

"Sure, I understand," Deputy Hotrod says. "Are you sitting comfortably?" He's playing along. Oh, goodie! Tell him yes. Hey, this is fun!

"I'm trapped in my house, and there's an intruder dowstairs, Officer!"

"Uh-huh."

'Uh-huh'? Well that's fucking professional, Deputy Hotrod! I resist the urge to guffaw, and spin my tale.

"... we'll trace your call, and the units will be there in about ten minutes. If you can do it safely, just get out of the house, otherwise stay on the phone with me. Ma'am? Are you there? Ma'am?"

Oh, I'm bored with this now. I should put the phone down, but who cares about Krendler's bill? Let him run up a tab, see if I could care less!

Hummm.

Damn, I just had a really bad thought. Maybe Lecter is just here for one last show and then he'll take off again. Make me endure another decade of looking and hoping and hating myself. Well, I'm not going to let that happen! I've given up everything to save his ass, he isn't cutting loose this time round. If he's going, he has to take me too. Where can I fix these damned things? I'll hide them under my skirt, I guess. Have to walk funny or they'll drag my panties down round my ankles. I suppose I should be grateful he remembered panties.

Shut up, Starling.

Okay, let's go downstairs. It's about time I saw him.


FIN

Part 1 of 3

copyright 2001, by Zircon

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