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Burning Hearts

copyright 2002, by Jane Moss

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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She wasn’t sure exactly when it happened, but slowly she became aware of the charming music which was playing in the background all evening. The violins made her want to sway with their soft rasp. Yet there was something so sorrowful between the lines. Something that made her heart stir and view her life from a different angle. Sitting in a room by herself, listening to classical music – a CD she bought on sale. This music was almost haunting and yet she was not afraid. It wasn’t really her style, but recently it changed without her knowledge to suit the style of someone else.

Yes, Dr Lecter would approve of her choice of music. The thought drifted through her mind and she made no attempt to stop it, nor catch it for further analysis as it dissolved just as fast as it came.

Suddenly yearning for something warmer than her 40W bulb, she left the bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the table and went through the rooms to the closet where she kept everything she never used. Blowing the thick carpets of dust off a small cardboard box, she took out various sized candles and brought them to the living room with her. They were different shades and sizes, all lit previously but never finished.

Switching off the electric light she was greeted with the soft and fuzzy glow of candlelight. And still the song played on, enveloping her in its exhilarating and unnaturally calming atmosphere. Parts of it were warm to her ears, yet others felt colder. Images of the dungeon flashed through her head. Clarice couldn’t stop her mind from drifting up the stairs to the back of her wardrobe…Where a black silky dress lay with her guilty conscience, always drifting at the back of her mind. Her cheeks burned at the thought of it, because with it’s elegance and grace came the memories… She decided to keep his gift even though she was sure it was best to part with it. She didn’t want to think about the reason behind this.

Taking another sip of the nearly empty bottle of Daniel’s she was glad she didn’t have much more left. Suddenly feeling very hot and sticky in the normal clothes she wore, Clarice made her decision. She headed upstairs discarding them in messy heaps along the way. In her bedroom, she reached behind all her usual garments and brought out the soft and silky material deeply inhaling its scent. Sterilised bandages, her skin, dinner and a trace of… HIM… Clarice pushed it out of her mind the best she could slipping on the soft cool fabric onto her hot skin. She let a sigh escape. She didn’t have time to stop the vivid memories from drifting through her senses.

Soft rasp of his voice downstairs… the smell of something delicious… the sizzling of the pan as he fried Krendler’s brain and fed it to him… his LIPS…

Clarice took another longer breath before slowly letting it out and wondered why she was doing this to herself. ‘Because now that you have no job, you’ve got time on your hands’, her mind retorted. She didn’t exactly know why she so desperately felt the need to experience that dark night at Chesapeake, but she decided it was her intoxicated mind that was to blame for all of this.

Standing atop the stairs she slowly made her descend in the Gucci shoes to go with the dress. Her hands gripped onto the barrier and for the first time that night she regretted the giddy of alcohol. She remembered Ardelia leaving to live with her latest boyfriend. Unlike Starling she had a job and had a life. Clarice kept the loneliness from settling and reentered the room feeling she fitted in with the charming sound of music, which drifted past her ears once more. Now all was missing was the wine, but a journey to the cold kitchen seemed unappealing.

No it was something else she wanted to see here. SOMEONE else, her mind corrected. She couldn’t deny it anymore. Clarice wanted HIM here. She couldn’t explain why she was expecting something to happen and found her disappointment when the unmoving room stared back at her. Desperately wanted to talk to him, there was nothing left to deny. To talk about anything at all. He always knew her mind. It was then she felt the empty air around her exposed skin. Nobody was here with her.

A thousand years was a long wait. He had just left her there without any promise of return, but her mind refused to banish the memories, which she unwillingly let flow into fantasies. She felt her heart burning from somewhere deep inside. Knowing she had pushed him away. Her heart burning for the man who would never return. Her eyes stung at her bad decision and a wave of loneliness swept over her and she almost let a sob escape. Grabbing the near empty bottle of Daniel’s she drank the last drops and was frustrated to find it did nothing to block her running thoughts. She really wanted to hate him for it all. To hate him for tearing the last veil from her eyes. And she despised the truth of what was actually around her. All that was left was an angry emptiness that refused to leave her. She flung the empty bottle against the bare wall and saw it smash into a thousand pieces.

* * *

The air was cold tonight. It blew softly against his warm skin and he roamed the empty street he knew so well. Lifting his head to look up at the distant stars, he let out a long breath which turned to steam as he exhaled. This was the only time he was sure he wouldn’t be noticed. Dr Lecter let his eyes follow all the constellations the stars made before turning his attention back to the darkened street.

He could live freely out of DC, but something held him here, like a heavy chain around his heart. He stopped and turned to look at a pale light escaping through a familiar window. He had been on this very same spot a thousand times before. The house was quiet. Was she there at all? Briefly he wondered what kept her occupied these days. Sitting alone. He saw the image clearly in his mind. Movement. Shadows on the walls. She just came downstairs and sat down again. It was too dark in the room to tell what she was wearing, but subconsciously he knew it was something… different. That was certainly a change. He regarded his view from the other side of the street for a moment.

A crisp sound of breaking glass rang through the stillness. Anyone else might have not heard it, but his sharp senses picked it up. He inhaled almost sharply and a part of him wished he could get just that bit closer… No it was too soon for a fruitless risk.

It was getting colder by the days in November. He couldn’t tour her neighbourhood for hours. Dr Lecter walked into a small café he found around the area. It was just barely his taste but they did make good tea. He settled back into his seat after getting himself a cup. Soon he would have to leave this spot as well. He didn’t want the owners to see too much of him. Yet he didn’t want to part with her presence so soon. She was so close now… so near. Curiosity enveloped his mind as he regarded the sound of breaking glass he heard earlier. Was it a bottle? She made no attempt to gather the sharp pieces. Thrown in anger then. Sharp pieces…. Sharp - Nobody saw him leave the café. The waitress recovered a $20 bill on his table.

* * *

Clarice did not hear her door open smoothly. Did not notice the soft glow of the candles around her extinguish one by one. Did not wake from his presence as his eyes took in the delicious sight of her. It pleased him she had kept the dress, as he could guess that the decision tormented the back of her mind. Her skin looked beautifully pale in the dark moonlight and he had to hold himself from moving any closer, as his present position provided him with the whole view of her; relaxed and almost slumped in the corner of her sofa. He stood over her for a long moment listening to her soft breathing and letting his eyes roam her stillness, before he concentrated his attentions to the rest of the room.

Turning he took in the whole room at a glance. Everything looked wonderfully calm and dormant, save for her warm presence. Dr Lecter ran his elegant hand over a small table in the corner and found no dust. She had indeed been spring-cleaning. Now he could almost pick out the smell of detergent in the still air. It was such a degrading job for her. Part of the floor was covered with the cold remains of her anger in shape of shattered glass. It was the only evidence of disturbance in the room. Leaving the broken pieces for now he looked up. Several books were piled on a cupboard. He soundlessly picked up the top one - “Dante’s Inferno”, he smiled, pleased with her choice. It seemed she had tried to study his tastes. Other than that her living room looked quite innocent. He moved onto the kitchen, which felt rather abandoned, with almost everything in its place, untouched. Somehow he knew the pans and plates were hardly used at all. What a shame she almost never took the time to cook. He checked her near-empty cupboards and looked disapprovingly at the soups in powder form. She was certainly in need of food by his definition. From the look of her kitchen he was displeased she hadn’t been eating right. Dr Lecter opened the first drawer to find her cutlery, the second held her gun under a few kitchen towels. He did not hold back the slow light grin of amusement from spreading over his face. Walking past the living room he listened to her even breath before moving towards the stairs.

Upstairs, her bathroom revealed nothing unusual. He looked at the two nearly empty bottles of what he regarded as cheap shampoo. ‘Tsk, tsk, Clarice… still the old habits’ he mused, thinking of what attention her coppery hair deserved, and reached into his pocket to retrieve a bottle of jasmine bath oil, placing it carefully on the towels and softly spreading any creases until he easily achieved perfection. He smiled slightly picturing her panic the next morning. It was most intriguing to see inside her house as it had some likeness to her complicated mind, his most prized obsession.

The door to her bedroom was slightly open as he approached it with his usual grace, carefully nudging it open with his hand before stepping inside. To his disappointment it only smelled of clean bed sheets and he knew Clarice did not spend much time in the room. Hardly any belongings were left on the dresser and the room somehow craved attention. Looking closer he found a single framed photograph and he picked it up to examine further. The man was dressed in his police uniform and the girl had Clarice’s eyes, only difference was the happiness which filled them. A naïve innocent happiness of a child. Before it was ripped away. He put it back down. Dr Lecter stored the image into his memory palace to contemplate on further and saw Clarice look at this picture on many sleepless nights, remembering her brief childhood. Feeling needed and loved. Come to think of it, the room reeked of un-loved bitterness she felt late at night. Her regret. She still longed for it didn’t she? Under her tough exterior, behind her steel weapon, she was still that young girl who wanted the same things. And he would give it to her.

Dr Lecter stepped out into the small corridor and headed towards the last room of the house. The curtains were drawn and the room appeared unusually dark. He was not a man to be discomforted by the darkness; instead he found its soft stillness appealing to the eye. The doctor stepped deeper into the blackness and gently pulled back the curtains, letting the room bathe in the moon’s soft glow. A papier-mâché of bloody scenes. Crime scene photos. Old pages from books. Newspaper cuttings. Along with small notes on yellow stickers, stared back at him from the entire wall. At the center was his own mug shot attached with three pins. He stood for a long time bend over the collection centered only around him, letting his eyes roam every corner, reveling in her obsession of him. ‘What would the bureau think?’ he mused, ‘Clarice…’. Inwardly relishing at the idea of her guilt at the extensive collection locked away in her house. He could almost see her sitting in this dark room bent over papers and computer screens… searching for a taste of him. He closed his eyes deeply inhaling her scent. Her skin… hand cream… pepperoni pizza… a tinge of sweat… something sweet… He turned back to the door, softly exhaling his breath. He saw a rose appearing a deep red in the light, with a large bud and a short stem, so that it fit perfectly into the water-filled glass which held it. He came closer bending down to inhale its sweet scent once again, before running his fingers up the smooth petals. Dr Lecter wondered briefly how the flower, which was so evidently out of place, had found its way here. Clarice was still full of surprises.

He would come back to look at things more thoroughly but for now this would have to do. Dr Lecter descended the stairs, his steps very slow, very measured and without a sound. He entered the room to be greeted with the sound of her almost melodic breathing as opposed to the empty silence of the house. This time Dr Lecter did not stop himself from stepping closer to her sleeping form and with slow grace he got down onto his knees in front of her, hearing part of Dante’s sonnet in his mind, ‘He woke her then and trembling and obedient she ate the burning heart out of his hand.’

He did not wake her, but felt a stab of hunger still. He watched her closely, every curve and every hair on her body which the dress revealed, coveting her beauty. Clarice’s face was so very close to his, he could not stop himself from softly inhaling her scent. The rose would wilt in comparison to her. Part of him wished he could stay and watch her skin bathe in the moonlight longer, but all too well he knew he they had to part. Her eyes, though closed, looked like she could wake up at any moment. Reaching out, he stroked her hair with the softest touch savouring in the sensation it provided. He could not hold himself from bringing his hand near her arm until it almost came in contact and with a ghostly touch he hovered it over her bare skin letting his warmth send goose bumps over her and Clarice stirred softly in her sleep and he sat frozen. There was no denying the feelings which surrounded them. Her house revealed as much to him. Even the still sight of her brought his heart more longing than fulfillment. He wanted so much to touch her skin instead of the air around it. Her presence gave tranquility and he could not interrupt her peace. Not now. He smiled sadly to himself: the man she had looked for so long was inches from her and yet she did not wake to see him. Dr Lecter briefly wished her eyes would flutter open and he would not have to leave her warmth so soon.

Softly not to make much sound he gathered the sharp pieces of glass from the bare floor of her room, then almost sadly he took the last sight of her and stored it deep within his memory to keep with him. ‘Weeping I saw her then depart from me,’ Dante’s words echoed in his mind. All stories end the same. One last breath and he stepped out sliding her lock in place without much sound. The cold air bit at his warm skin and the wind swept away the last traces of her. The freezing breeze was an unwelcome touch and echoed the hard pavement under his feet. His mind was elsewhere: back in her warm house. Someday he would come back and wake her.


copyright 2002, by Jane Moss

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