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Retrospect

copyright 2003, by Mel

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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PART 1


She could feel them all looking at her, feel their eyes straining through the gloom to catch a glimpse of her face. Unashamed, she tried to ignore them, ignore the attention and the guilt they were trying desperately to confirm or deny. The eyes on Starling glinted dully in the gathering dusk, searching for the thing that would explain why Hannibal Lecter had left this one alive. Lips muttered to one another things she could not hear, but the way the shifty characters around her were trying to speak without moving their lips told her that she was the hot topic of conversation. The sounds of their voices, but not the actual words, carried clearly in the stilly night on the river.

She rapped on the window to get the attention of the deputy standing outside the car she had been escorted to. He turned and leaned toward the open window, his eyes on the pale strip of exposed skin running throat to navel.

"I'd like to be taken to the hospital now, if you wouldn't mind. I want to go home."

The deputy nodded, and went to consult his superior.

She leaned her head back and sighed. Tomorrow the questions would start. After tonight there would be no respite.

**

The visit to the hospital had been a short one. Aside from rest, the physician had also prescribed her an overly large bottle of antacid after she complained of nausea. The sick feeling was still nagging at her stomach as she pecked away at her keyboard, dutifully making her report on the events of the few days she had spent on the Chesapeake in the company of Dr. Hannibal Lecter….

For what I can approximate to be 48 hours I was heavily sedated with what the ER toxicology report confirms was morphine. I awoke on the third evening shortly before dark in a bed on the second floor of Mr. Krendler's house, with no recollection since being shot in Mason Verger's barn. I was dressed in the outfit tagged and bagged along with this report…

Clarice paused. It was only a small lie. What were 48 hours to the Bureau? In truth, she had been coherent just a few hours after their arrival on the Chesapeake, thanks to the timely administration of the appropriate counter-measures. Lecter had been sitting beside her bed when she came to, and she remembered a powerful swell of relief that they were both still alive, and evidently a long way from Muskrat Farm.

What was her duty now? Word was coming to her from her few remaining sources that her severance package would be a good one, and that the reason for her resignation was already slated to be issues of emotional capability. What was her duty to an institution that would hold her up like a human shield after all the blood, sweat and tears she had already expended in their defense? The swift rush of anger solidified her resolve. She continued…

I was dressed in the outfit tagged and bagged with this report. The pictures from the scene depict the nature of the ensemble. I have no recollection of how I came to be wearing these clothes. I left the bedroom and called 911. At this time I was still under the influence of the drugs given to me by Dr. Lecter and my recollections are regrettably hazy. I believe I went downstairs where he and Paul Krendler seemed to be sitting down to dinner. I don't believe I ate. I tried to engage the Doctor, but he easily overpowered me, given my condition, and trapped me by my hair in the refrigerator…

Clarice stopped typing. Glossing over the 'dinner party' was easy, what engaged her thoughts now, was how to describe the Doctor's miraculous escape. She laughed silently, momentarily imagining the looks on her superior's faces were she to tell the truth. Actually, Lecter was the best therapist I ever had. He hypnotized me and I feel freer than I ever felt before. I let him go as a thank you.. Her fingers itched to type those very words, and more. One of the detriments to her new-found freedom was the urge to constantly speak the truth, however distasteful it might be. Instead, she finished up:

I had concealed my handcuffs, which I had found upstairs along with my unloaded weapon, in my dress. Dr. Lecter tried to kiss me and I cuffed myself to him. He tried to persuade me to let him go, and when I would not, threatened me with a butcher knife. I believe he dislocated his thumb and several of his fingers with a sharp blow to the back of his hand, and escaped the cuffs that way. It took me several minutes to free myself from the refrigerator door, and when I got outside, Lecter was gone and law enforcement had arrived. The rest of the incident is a matter of record with the local Sheriff's department.

She sat back now, surveying the work of deception and outright lies that she had created to feed into the ever-open maw of the FBI. She added a few recommendations to the bottom of the report, half-heartedly, suggesting that the Doctor would be halfway to Europe or even Asia by now, and requested, for show of course, that a deputy be stationed outside her house until they could be sure he was not coming back for her.

How she wished he would.

Despite her sudden urge to speak bluntly, there were some things Clarice would never reveal, not to the Bureau, not to Ardelia, not even to John Brigham or Jack Crawford, had they been alive. Many of the investigative team attributed her reluctance to elaborate on her experience to something like shellshock... Oh no, it was something else entirely. The secret she now kept warmed her frozen soul and shielded her from the volleys of those who would harm her. She couldn't describe it in words, but in their short time alone, truly alone this time, he had given her something so precious that her heart ached with gratitude. For the first time in her life, Clarice felt unfettered by anything. He had brought her to realize that she owed nothing to anybody except herself.

Already at the end of her tether by the time she had reached Muskrat Farm that fateful night, Clarice had been a truly broken spirit when she awoke on the Chesapeake, too tired to be afraid of the monster at her bedside. When she had attempted to croak out a greeting she found her voice lacking and he was immediately proffering a glass of water to her lips.

"You gave me cause for concern there for a while, Clarice. You didn't seem to want to wake up."

Clarice surveyed him silently, and he continued.

"You can relax, my dear, I have no intentions towards you tonight, of any description. You saved my life."

Piquing interest cleared Clarice's foggy head somewhat. That sounded awfully like sincerity from him, something she hadn't heard in his voice for a long time. In the midst of international cat-and-mouse they had never seemed to have time to be anything other than antagonistic towards one another.

"Are you ok Doctor?" It was not the agent's voice she used. Clarice felt out of time, out of body.

"Yes, thank you." He seeme genuinely please she had asked. "And you, you will be just fine too. When you feel like it there is a bathroom just through that door," he gestured vaguely behind him, not taking his eyes off her for a second. "You can take a shower or a bath, there are clothes in the closet. I will be downstairs. Maybe some coffee?"

Despite herself, she smiled lopsidedly, and nodded. He stood and departed, and she heard him taking the stairs.

Out of body just about summed it up. She could no sooner have attempted an apprehension than she could have opened the window and flown home. The physical was part of it, but she was surprised and intrigued to find that she lacked even the slightest motivation. A bath sounded great.

FIN

PART 1 of 5

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