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Stages of Love

copyright 2002, by Cyranothe2nd

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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1 of 8 | 2 of 8 l 3 of 8 l 4 of 8 l 5 of 8 l 6 of 8 l 7 of 8 l 8 of 8

PART 1: Loss

"Show us your hands."

Clarice Starling obediently held her arms up, but her eyes never left the dinghy, bobbing up and down on the silent waters of the Chesapeake, slowly turning.

"I'm Clarice Starling." She shouted above the sounds of the cars and helicopters. She heard men behind her, moving forward. Just one second more...the small boat turned to reveal nothing. No hidden occupant, not that she'd really thought there would be. It was too obvious. Still, she had taken the bait.

"Blame it on the morphine." She thought.

The police reached her a moment later and wasted no time putting her into a car. She wasn't cuffed, a perk of her former Special Agent status. And strangely, no one asked her questions. Catching sight of her reflection in the glass of the police car door she realized why. She looked disheveled and drugged and in shock, which was all basically the truth, which explained why the police were treating her with kid gloves. However, she had no doubt the gloves would come off once she got to the station.

She used the intermittable drive to decide what to tell them. Eight years ago it would have never entered her mind to edit the truth-"Lie." She thought, "Call it what it is."-but now...

She knew her career with the FBI was over. She would be lucky to escape prosecution. She would not, could not, give them the intimate details of her relationship with Hannibal Lecter.

"Relationship?" she thought, started. What precisely was the nature of their "relationship"?

"Don't go there Starling." She warned herself, as she had done innumerable times when her thoughts strayed to closely to the Doctor. She ordered her thoughts, glad that she had thought to clean up a little before the police arrived. There were some difficulties but nothing that she couldn't explain. She replayed it all over again, like a video in her mind, forcing herself to see it as they would and formulate her responses accordingly. The station house came too soon.

Pearcell was there, along with two other agents, both pencil-necked desk jockeys who glared at her with sanctimonious expressions that only got more annoying as she was forced to tell her story again and again.

"So, Lecter went into the kitchen and you followed?" One of the pencil-necks, Agent Tarrow, was asking.

"Yes, he wheeled Agent Krendler into the kitchen and I followed him with a candlestick."

"And then what happened?"

"I told you that already." She said in exasperation. Pearcell shot her a look, which she ignored.

"I tried to hit him with the candlestick but he pinned me against the fridge by my hair."

"And then you cuffed him?"

"Yes, in the struggle I was able to cuff him."

Tarrow looked at her through narrowed eyes. "He just let you cuff him?"

No, he did not let me!" She near shouted, suddenly deathly tired. The morphine was starting to wear off and her shoulder hurt like hell. One of the cops had leant her his jacket but she was still freezing. Still she was thankful for the chance to cover the dress, it was too revealing in more ways than one. That Lecter had given it to her, had put her into it, hinted at an intimacy Pearcell and his desk monkeys would drool over. So, she pulled the coat tightly around her, letting them believe she had worn a tasteful black skirt and impossibly high heels to Mason Verger's barn.

Pearcell was not entirely buying it.

"Look Starling, there's no need to get upset. Agent Tarrow is only doing his job."

She sighed, knowing what was coming next.

"And it does seem pretty improbable that Lecter left you alive after you threatened him like that."

She brought her eyes up, glaring into Pearcell's insipid face.

"Frankly, I don't care whether you think it's probable or not. I cuffed him, he had the key, he unlocked himself and took off. I followed him but it was too late."

Not entirely true.

She had had the key and had given it to him after he nearly dismembered himself rather than hurt her, but that wasn't a story she was willing to tell Pearcell. She could scarcely believe it all herself. And she was already in enough trouble.

"He already had the key?"

"Yeah." She sighed, speaking as if to a small child. "I told you, he had set to cuffs out on the table by the phone to see if I would use them. The key was gone and I knew he had it but I knew I could buy time using them anyway. "

"What about your sidearm?" Tarrow asked suddenly.

"My sidearm?"

"Your gun. The one you took to Muskrat Farm. Wasn't it sitting on the table with the cuffs?"


"But you didn't take it into the dining room with you."


"May I ask why not?"

She was already ready for that one. Still, she was angry at the tone of the question.

"Ask away." She said flippantly.

"Agent Starling-" Pearcell started and she cut him off before he could get any further.

"Look, I've told you everything alright? I've cooperated completely and I resent the implication of Agent Tarrow's question." She said the words "Agent Tarrow" with the same sarcasm Lecter used when speaking of the FBI. "I was drugged, alright? I could barely see straight and I could hear Paul Krendler downstairs and I wasn't sure of the situation or whether I could shoot without harming him or someone else. So, why didn't I take the gun? Because I couldn't trust myself with it. And the first rule they teach you is when you pull the trigger be very very sure."

She had stood up during her tirade and she abruptly sat back down, dizzy and shaking.

"Can I get some water?"

Pearcell motioned to the second agent, the one who had not spoken yet, and he got up to get her a glass. Pearcell drifted over to her side of the table and stared down at her. She tried to look him in the eye but could not focus on his face.

"Has she seen a doctor?" He asked Tarrow, his voice sounding concerned.

"Now isn't that sweet, he's concerned for little ol' me." Clarice thought snidely as Tarrow shook his head no.

The taciturn agent came back and pressed the glass of water into her hand. She raised it unsteadily, draining the whole glass.

"Yep-" She thought, "Morphine is definitely wearing off."

"Starling?" She glanced up into Pearcell's face. "Look, I think we're done her for today. Agent Haines here-" He gestured to the water boy, "-is gonna take you to the hospital, OK? And I want you in my office tomorrow."

"What, so you can fire me in person?" She wanted to say but instead murmured, "Yes sir."


Part 1 of 8

1 of 8 | 2 of 8 l 3 of 8 l 4 of 8 l 5 of 8 l 6 of 8 l 7 of 8 l 8 of 8

copyright 2002, by Cyranothe2nd

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