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It Only Hurts When I Breathe

copyright 2003, by AriadneLily

Disclaimer:    These characters were created by Thomas Harris.  The song belongs to Shania Twain and R. J. Lange.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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Special Agent Clarice Starling tosses in her sleep. She’s having another nightmare. But would one call it a nightmare? She is standing in the late Paul Krendler’s kitchen, hair caught in the refrigerator. In front of her is Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He asks her something. What she says is entirely different than what she is thinking. The blade comes down. She wakes up. “Why do I keep seeing him?” she asks herself. “And why the hell did I say that?” She looks at the clock by her bedside. 3:51 AM. She groans and gets out of bed. Deciding its pointless to go back to sleep, she saunters downstairs and into the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee, then goes into the living room and turns on the television set. “I wonder how he is...and if he thinks of me as often as I think of him...”

/ Hope life’s been good to you since you’ve been gone /
/ I’m doing fine now - I’ve finally moved on /
/ It’s not so bad - I’m not that sad /

She remembers exactly how that night went. Things seemed to be going fine, until she went after him with that damned candlestick. He had her pinned, she stopped fighting him. “What did you want him to do, Clarice?” she asks herself. She hears his question, hears her answer; feels his lips against hers, and wants more. She shakes her head, eliminating the memory from her thoughts. “No,” she says. “I’m fine. Why the hell do I keep thinking of this? Its in the past, he’s gone, I shouldn’t be thinking of it anymore. I’m free from him...I really don’t need to be worrying about this.”

/ I’m not surprised just how well I survived /
/ I’m over the worst and I feel so alive /
/ I can’t complain - I’m free again /

Clarice feels a pang of guilt. “I’m such an idiot. Why didn’t I say what I meant to say?” She has gone through the scenario over and over again in her head. She thinks of any number of replies she could have given him. “Not in a thousand years?” she asks. “Where the hell did that come from? I would have told him to stop that night. And now he’s hurt, because of me.” She’s constantly beating herself up like this. Everyone else says its not her fault; she couldn’t have stopped it. “But I -could- have stopped it, I could have just said ‘stop.’” She takes a sip of her coffee. “And what if he -did- stop, Clarice?” she asks herself again. “Then what? Would you have let him run? Would you have gone with him? Hmm?” She takes a deep breath and sets her mug down. Almost on command, the tears start flowing. “Why can’t I just forget him?”

/ And it only hurts when I’m breathing /
/ My heart only breaks when it’s beating /
/ My dreams only die when I’m dreaming /
/ So I hold my breath to forget /

She stands up to bring her mug back into the kitchen for a refill. She leans against the refrigerator and wipes her eyes. In her head, she hears him. ‘How are you really, Clarice?’ he asks her subconscious. “I’m fine,” she says aloud. “No, better than fine. I’m doing wonderfully without you. The best I’ve been in a long time.” ‘Then why are you crying?’ the voice asks again. “I’m not crying,” she grumbles. “And don’t think I’ve ever cried over you.”

/ Don’t think I’m lyin’ ‘round cryin’ at night /
/ There’s no need to worry, I’m really alright /
/ I’ve never looked back - as a matter of fact /

“I’ve never cried over him...” she says, sinking to the floor. “Have I?” She brings her knees into her chest and hugs them. “Yes I have,” she admits. “I am right now.” The tears are flowing more freely from her eyes, and she makes no effort to wipe them away. She feels as though her heart has been broken by the man she loved. “Did I love him?” she yet again asks herself. “-Do- I love him?” She laughs at the thought. “That can’t be right; an FBI agent -cannot- fall in love with the man she’s supposed to be hunting.” The laughter turns to tears again; the tears turn into sobbing. She buries her face in her arms as she cries.

/ And it only hurts when I’m breathing /
/ My heart only breaks when it’s beating /
/ My dreams only die when I’m dreaming /
/ So I hold my breath - to forget /

“This needs to stop,” she says into her folded arms. “This needs to stop right now.” She quickly stands up and walks to the sink. Placing her hands on the countertop in front of her, she stares out the window, searching for someone she knows isn’t out there. “Where are you?” she asks the Lecter of her mind. “I’m in such pain without you. It’s like you broke my heart and just left the pieces on the floor when you left. I can’t have one good night’s sleep without it being interrupted by a dream of you. When are you going to come back for me?”

/ It only hurts when I breathe /

She closes her eyes, lays her head on the kitchen counter, takes a few jagged breaths, then sighs deeply. “I hate you,” she says. “This will be the last time I think of you.”

/ I’ve never look back - as a matter of fact /

She feels a hand on her shoulder. “Oh come now Clarice, I don’t think you really mean that.” Clarice whips around to find herself face to face with the very man she has been talking about for the past hour.

“Dr. Lecter?”

/ It only hurts when I’m breathing /
/ My heart only breaks when it’s beating /
/ My dreams only die when I’m dreaming /
/ So, I hold my breath - to forget /

He nods slowly, and pulls her close to him, as if shielding her from the world. She cries harder now, sobbing into him, pawing at his chest. “Where the hell have you been?” she asks him between sobs. He raises an eyebrow.

“Have you missed me that much my dear?”

She pulls away and narrows her eyes. “No of course not,” she says sarcastically. “I’m only dying without you.”

Without warning, Hannibal Lecter swings her around, knocking her into her own refrigerator. He pins her and holds her wrists roughly. “Shall we try this again?” he asks, grinning. “Would you ever say to me ‘stop? If you loved me, you’d stop.’” He inches closer to her, anticipating an answer.

‘Don’t make the same mistake again,’ she tells herself. ‘Tell him the truth this time...say what you meant to say the last time he asked you this.’ Clarice regained what little composure she had left and took a deep breath. “Of course I would,” she says to him.

“Say it then,” he demands.

She looks into his mesmerizing eyes. “Stop,” she says forcefully.

The psychiatrist’s eyes light up. He releases his grasp from her wrists and places his hands on her shoulders. Not averting his gaze for a second from her bright blue eyes, he leans down and gently kisses her lips. He pulls away. “Not in a thousand years,” he says mockingly.

Clarice feels her heart break into a million pieces again. Her gaze drifts to the floor, almost as if searching for the shards of her heart. The tears do not come this time. She pushes him away and returns to her bedroom, shutting the door carefully and quietly behind her. She retires to her bed, and closes her sore and tired eyes. She hears the door open, and Hannibal Lecter is standing near her. “That’s alright,” she says to him. “I still love you.”

/ Hurts when I’m breathing /
/ Breaks when it’s beating /
/ Die when I’m dreaming /
/ It only hurts when I breathe /


FIN

copyright 2003, by AriadneLily

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