copyright 2001, by
The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling and Paul Krendler
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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The shades of night lifted slowly from the windows of the
house on the Chesapeake. As the first blush of dawn stained the sky,
Hannibal Lecter passed a hand wearily over his heavy-lidded maroon eyes.
The voice of last night was quiet now, his ordeal of indecision ended.
But his vigil could not end with the coming of the day; there was
business that required his attention. Clarice would be hungry when she
woke, and he planned to feed her -- mind, body, and soul.
When soft rays of light caressed her body, Clarice stirred. A
faint grimace of pain marked her ivory face, and her hand moved to touch
her shoulder. Lecter moved then to the nightstand and drew open the
drawer. From a collection of vials, he selected one filled with
morphine. The sun glinted off the glass as he drew the clear fluid into
a syringe. His physician’s mind titrated the dosage: enough to ensure
her freedom from pain. His strategic brain increased the amount: enough
to keep her asleep while he prepared for the events that would mark a
truly festive dinner. She had slept too long to wake now, there would
not be time for the tender morning interlude he had hoped to experience.
He knew from his surveillance of Paul Krendler that the oaf planned to
retreat to his quiet house on the shore today. Lecter had been able to
ascertain that he would be coming alone, which made the situation
perfect for a small, intimate gathering. A cruel smile played over the
Doctor’s features as he envisioned what today would bring. Then slowly
he pushed the medication into her vein and watched her face relax, her
hand fall limply to her side. No need to worry about the side effects.
Lecter knew to several significant digits the strength of Clarice
Starling’s heart, the precise depth of her breath. He procured a few
silk scarves from the nightstand and bound her wrists to the bed with
the practiced hands of an experienced killer and the tender touch of a
Before exiting the room, he attached a pair of small silver
bells to each of the scarves. The bells would tinkle if she moved,
alerting him to her wakeful state. Stepping back, he allowed his eyes to
linger on her face, her form. Her rosy mouth was parted slightly and a
few tendrils of hair had escaped the knot at the nape of her neck. He
had never seen her look so helpless, so vulnerable. It made him want to
protect her, it made him want to penetrate her. He raised a hand to
stroke the line of her jaw, and then lowered it back to his side.
Calling on a vision of the evening’s coming attractions to distract
him from the pleasures so readily at hand, he enabled himself to walk
away. He turned and strode purposefully from the room.
As he passed the small stand in the hall, Lecter’s
attention was drawn to the telephone. He smiled, then took the Harpy
from his pocket and neatly sliced the cord. A challenge, he thought, and
a test. All part of the great game that had taken shape in his mind
through the long night’s watch. He retrieved Starling’s gun, her
handcuffs, and her wallet from the kitchen, then placed them on the
stand next to the phone. He picked up the gun and relished the cool
weight in his hand. Her weapon, he reflected, as surely as mine is the
blade. What does that tell me about her? She is explosive and precise,
though hardly subtle. She keeps a distance, but one that can be closed
in a fraction of a second. He examined the bullets and smiled. She can
pierce armor, too, as I know only too well. He noticed that the pistol
bore few marks of her ownership, and replaced it on the table. A pity,
he thought, as he had hoped to smell the nervous sweat of her record
kills on the grip. Not that it really mattered. If she needs this
tonight, she has already lost.
Traipsing down the stairs, he mentally reviewed the contents
of the refrigerator and found them satisfactory. In the living room, he
paused to ensure that the ambience would be perfect for post-prandial
conversation and perhaps more intimate encounters. If she completed her
work with a passing grade, he reminded himself. A small shiver of the
unknown coursed through his spine. He chose to enjoy the sensation. Only
time would tell the fate of the individuals destined to grace this house
Moving into the dining room, he thoughtfully arranged a
tableau of unusual objects on the sideboard. A small silver pan rested
atop a portable gas burner, and a soup tureen of fine, translucent china
occupied the center of the display, flanked by fanfares of roses and
orchids. An engraved tray holding several vials, needles, and syringes
was covered by a large silver dome and rested on the right side, and a
crossbow stood outrageously in the left corner, festooned with a garland
of flowers. Lecter pursed his lips in consideration, then added a small
bronze dagger to the display, almost hidden beneath the crossbow. A good
selection of working implements is essential, he thought, and I will
never let it be said that I did not provide Clarice with insufficient
opportunity to achieve any goal she may desire this evening. The tests
cannot be less than fair. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and a
plastic evidence bag from Clarice’s handbag. Dousing the cloth with
ether, he sealed it in the bag and placed it conveniently in his pocket.
Prompt hospitality would be of the utmost importance in welcoming our
unsuspecting dinner companion, he mused. Fortunately, the testosterone
driven engine of his pathetically showy car should be easy to detect
from a reasonable distance. Hannibal planned to be, as always, the
With an eye to the clock, he trotted lightly up the stairs to
check on Clarice. Her auburn hair glinted in the noon sunlight, and she
had tossed beneath the covers. He removed the white down comforter and
left her under only the sheet. He stepped around the bed to the carved
oak armoire, and opened the doors. An array of evening gowns in various
shades of black, white, and gray hung within. Musing, he pulled out
several before deciding on a daring ensemble of black silk. Its neckline
plunged to the navel, leaving only a narrow swath of cloth on either
side. The skirt would fit snugly, but the material had enough give to
provide ease of movement. He dressed her in his mind’s eye and let go
a sigh of wonder at his vision. She would be free to move, indeed, he
smirked, if she didn’t mind sacrificing a little modesty.
Hanging the gown on a rack in the bathroom to air, he filled
an enamel basin with hot water and dropped the almond soap inside.
Gathering up an armload of thick towels, he brought the basin to her
bedside. Critically he examined the depth of her sedation. Deciding that
safe was better than sorry, he drew up a small dose of Versed and
administered it, knowing that the drug’s amnesiac effects would ensure
that she would forget what happened here, even if she attained some
degree of wakefulness. Once he had completed the injection, he withdrew
the sheet and looked again upon her lithe body.
Silently regretting the infeasibility of another tub bath, he
pulled the black negligee up to expose Starling’s nude form. Even
after becoming indecently familiar with every inch of her skin last
night, the mere sight of her still roused Lecter’s body to attention.
He was fully aware of his erection as he bent over her, cleansing her
rose-petal soft skin lightly and briskly. He knew that if he lingered he
would be lost. She moaned a little, tensing slightly as his hands moved
between her thighs. He was almost caught there, unable to move, unable
to breathe, until she relaxed, drifting back into oblivion. He felt the
rapid rhythm of his heart echoing in the throbbing of the bulge under
his pants. Turning away from her with Herculean effort, he reached for
the small lacquered jewel box that had accompanied him though all his
travels. He opened it and, after a moment’s consideration, selected
the emeralds he had bought for her while in Brazil. He placed the
cabochon earrings gently in her earlobes and fastened the fine gold
chain around her throat. The pendant would drip tantalizingly between
her breasts when she stood. He paused a moment, taking a small black
velvet case from the jewel box, and held it tightly in his hands.
Shaking his head slightly, he returned it to the box without opening it.
Let her hands remain unadorned, he thought. His gaze returned to the
silk negligee that lay tangled in her arms. He was unable to remove it
without loosening the scarves that held her bound. A quick grin flashed
across his face, making him look almost boyish. Let her wonder, he
laughed, and once again took the Harpy from his pocket. He slashed
effortlessly through the almost weightless material and let it flutter
to a heap on the floor beside the bed.
Retrieving the gown from the bathroom, he drew it up over her
legs, over her hips, and fastened the two lengths of silk that passed
for a bodice behind her neck. Though he watched her carefully, she
remained still. Still smiling, he decided against panties. As he slipped
a pair of black Gucci pumps onto her small, neat feet, the muscles in
his cheeks began to ache. His face was unaccustomed to the statement he
was wearing. Schooling his features back to his usual deadpan affect, he
opened a small leather case and, using skills he had never practiced on
another, lightly made up her face. Only a wisp of smoky gray around her
eyes, a stain of crimson on her lips, a blush of faint pink across her
zygomatic arches, and she was transformed into the creature of
sophistication and elegance he had always known lay inside her. As he
heard the distant rumble of an engine, he knew he had not a minute more
Down the stairs he went, and lay in wait for his appointed
prey. Effortlessly he blended into the shadows with ease honed by
countless deadly encounters. The sound of a car door put him into high
alert. Only the flare of his nostrils showed his tightly wound
readiness, a predator poised for the strike. A key turned in the lock,
and Paul Krendler opened the door to his doom.
While Krendler was still disoriented from the quick
adjustment from bright sunlight to the dim hallway, Lecter struck.
Springing from the shadows, a wide grin of welcome across his face, he
extended his hand for Krendler to shake. “Why, Paul, it is simply
marvelous to see you here,” he effused in his most charming tone.
Reflex conquered confusion, and Krendler accepted the proffered hand. It
would be the last motion his hand would ever make.
Cobra-quick, Lecter crushed Krendler’s hand in a vise grip
and spun him around. With his other hand, the Doctor pressed the
ether-soaked cloth to Krendler’s nose and mouth. Within moments,
Starling’s enemy sank helpless into his arms. A feeling of elation
surged though Lecter’s bloodstream, though this act was as cold as any
other, and his actions as tightly controlled. The stakes, however, were
He affixed Krendler to the wheelchair waiting just out of
sight, and pushed him into the kitchen. Triple-checking the bonds,
Lecter utilized the minutes that Krendler would remain unconscious to
return upstairs to Clarice.
She lay as he had left her, and the sight was tempting to
Lecter. It all started now. There could be no return, no going back.
With his actions here, he was lighting the fire that could burn all his
bridges, making the choice that could cost him everything -- his
freedom, his love, his very life. He could kiss her now, take her now,
and she would never know. He would at least have that memory to sustain
him…… but even as the thought flickered, he rejected it. That would
be a hollow memory indeed, and unworthy of him or Clarice. With no
regrets, he prepared the IV bag that held Narcan and Romazicon,
antidotes to the morphine and the Versed that kept her prisoned in
unconsciousness. As it slowly dripped into her vein, she would rise like
a lady Lazarus. Of course, the longer she allowed it infuse without
ripping the IV out, the clearer her head would be. He smiled. The choice
would be hers. She might even imagine effects that didn’t exist,
believe herself to be drugged when the only medication working on her
was the power of suggestion. The most powerful drug of all. With one
last look, he slipped from the room. According to his calculations, he
would have just enough time to prepare the main course and ready the
salad and soup before Clarice could be expected to wake.
Clarice thought she heard distant noises, faint voices. She
struggled to clear her mind, to open her eyes, but the soft warmth of
sleep threatened to pull her down again. It was an effort to frame the
simple question, “Where am I?” As she lay fighting, images appeared
in the black void of her existence. She saw a fence, giant pigs. Felt
fear, cold and slick, dripping down to the small of her back. A stinging
pain, a heat in her shoulder. Heard a voice, a voice she knew she could
never forget. What was it saying? Something about being a Protestant.
Nothing made sense, nothing connected as she floated in emptiness. She
allowed herself to be taken again by the void.
When she woke again, a name was her first conscious thought.
Before she could even blink, she whispered it aloud… “Dr. Lecter.”
At the act of speaking his name, the events at the farm rushed back into
her consciousness. She lay frozen, unbelieving, but knowing all too well
that her recollections did not play her false. She saw before her the
face of Dr. Lecter, crucified yet somehow still in control. Why had she
thought he needed saving? Why had she gone there at all? Then she
remembered the burning heat of the touch of a finger in passing,
counterpoint to the icy chill in her veins as she played the game that
saved the life of Catherine Martin. Though she had tried to deny it for
ten long years, she knew her soul was forfeit in that game as payment
for the information, had known it somehow even at the time. She would be
forever his. She whispered his name again…… “Dr. Lecter.” She
thought of the life and the career that had betrayed her, sold her, and
used her up until she could not fight the knowledge of her emptiness any
longer. She thought of the monster that had praised her with insults and
riddled her true. She knew that she was not thinking clearly, that
somehow the barriers between her conscious and subconscious had been
lifted, and that she was seeing parts of herself she had never known
before. The inhibitions were off in the distance. She remembered the
fear that had gripped her when Mason’s men grabbed him and took him
away. The fear that she would never see his dark, piercing eyes again,
never feel the twisting of her gut as she opened another letter and read
sweet poison in a copperplate hand. The fear that she would never know
another person who knew her and respected her as this man did. The fear
that she would never be able to love anyone the way she loved this
madman, who was at the same time the sanest person she knew. She said
his name again, louder now…… “Dr. Lecter.”
She was able now to open her eyes. With the return of vision
she felt the closing of another sense, the rebuilding of the walls that
had crumbled inside her. Without moving she looked at the white ceiling,
inhaled the smell of salt air, took in the sensation of silk on her
skin. At this she stopped, puzzled. I’m fairly certain I was not
wearing silk at the farm, she thought, and tried to resurrect the memory
of how she had gotten from the pit of hell to this place.
She shivered, and felt a stab of pain in her shoulder. Good,
she thought, encouraged. Use that pain. What happened, Starling? Did the
good guys win? She laughed at the very idea. Who exactly were the good
guys, anyway? An answer floated up from somewhere inside her. The good
guys are us. The bad guys are them. And that’s all that really
matters, and that’s all that ever has. She blinked, trying so hard to
get an image, a sound, something that would tell her… and then she had
it. She felt herself falling; saw blood spraying on the ground. She
looked up into the face of Hannibal Lecter and could not take her eyes
from his. Then she hit the ground and knew nothing more.
Not enough, she berated herself. Think, Starling, what
happened next? She could come up with only one more memory, the sound of
her Mustang’s engine, the vibration of it under her, and she was able
to open her eyes for a second… Lecter was driving her car. She was
slumped in the passenger seat, her chest covered in blood. He was
looking at her with a strange, unreadable statement on his face. And
then the blackness had taken her again.
Somehow she knew she had reached her limit, that nothing more
would come. She was feeling stronger now, armed with at least a slight
knowledge of what had happened and a growing sense of her own body. She
tried to wipe her eyes and felt something restraining her arms. The
sound of silver tinkling filled the room.
In the kitchen, Hannibal Lecter was replacing Krendler’s
skull when he heard the distant shimmer of bells. He took a deep breath
and wiped his bloody hands on a kitchen towel. Krendler continued his
inane chatter unabated. “So, this Starling chick, she thinks she’s
so fucking hot……” The Doctor’s eyes fell on an eight-inch
chef’s knife. A gush of hot saliva flooded his mouth. Restraining the
impulse, he went on with his business.
Upstairs, Clarice raised her head and looked around her. She
saw an IV line running into the back of her right hand. Following the
tubing up, she saw a nearly empty bag of fluid hung from a makeshift
hook on the four-poster bed. Around her wrists were colorful bands of
cloth that held her to the bed. The bonds were loose, as if not intended
to imprison but merely to remind. She slipped her hands out easily. She
examined the IV and pulled it out at once. Blood started to ooze from
the back of her hand, and she cast out almost blindly for something to
staunch the flow. Reaching her hand down over the side of the bed, she
felt a heap of fabric and grabbed it. She pressed it over the bleeding
site and held pressure for a minute until she realized what it was she
was holding. The straps of the black silk negligee had been cut, and the
center of the garment was neatly slit from neckline to hem.
For the first time, she looked down at her body. Gone were
her messy, sweaty, dirty shirt and khakis. Instead she found herself
garbed in a garment that could only loosely be called a dress. It clung
to her like a glove. Strangely detached from herself, she had to admit
that the gown was elegant in its lines, voluptuous in its cut. The body
wearing the gown was beautiful. Starling could scarcely believe it was
she. A glimmer on her chest caught her eye. She stared at the huge
cabochon emerald pendant that dangled between her breasts. Then she
noticed the livid wound on her shoulder, with a neat row of tiny, exact
stitches down the center. Experimentally, she shrugged. The pain was
present, but minimal. “Doctor, you do good work,” she whispered.
The vocalization was almost inaudible, issuing from a throat
dry as parchment. She swung herself to the side of the bed without
thinking. As her sight reduced to tunnel vision, she reeled, slipping
off the bed and landing on the floor with an unceremonious thump.
Starling, this will never do, she chastised herself. Take it slow, baby.
Take it slow.
Lecter was tossing the salad when he heard the bump above
him. Never changing statement, he put the bowl in Krendler’s lap and
pushed the wheelchair into the dining room.
Starling lurched to her feet, swaying in the Gucci heels. She
could hear the sounds of movement, of voices. She took a breath and
smelled the most amazing scent, redolent with garlic, herbs, and spices
she had no name for. Her stomach emitted a loud cry of protest as she
realized she was ravenous, though her mouth tasted like last week’s
garbage. She walked carefully over to one of the suite’s doors, and
saw a well-appointed bathroom. Looking in the mirror she hardly
recognized herself. She looked like one of the glamorous women she had
seen in the magazines she researched when searching for Lecter. She
looked like she could be going to a dinner party.
The first real warning bells began ringing in her head then,
but she calmly proceeded to attend to the pressure in her bladder, her
most urgent need. “Never miss a chance to pee, Starling,” she heard
Ardelia say in her head, and smiled at the memory. Finding a toothbrush,
she gratefully addressed the foul taste in her mouth. She rinsed and
spit, then took in a deep, fresh breath. Are you ready, girl? she asked
herself. Do you know what you want?
“Yes,” she whispered, answering her own query. “Yes and
Lecter was bringing the soup to the table when he heard the
sound of Clarice’s footsteps in the upstairs hall. The dinner would be
unorthodox by necessity, but he felt that the exquisite main course
justified the other small imperfections. He checked the wine to be sure
it had breathed enough, then did the same to himself.
Clarice stepped into the hall and froze when she saw the
small table at the top of the stairs. A telephone, her gun, her
handcuffs, her wallet…… what was Lecter trying to do? As she
inspected more closely, she noted the severed phone cord. An extremely
sharp instrument had sliced it quite deliberately. At that instant, she
felt as if she could read Lecter in the same fashion he had always read
her. “So, the game has begun,” she said in a low voice. Every nerve
in her body became preternaturally alert. She knelt and repaired the
phone line in moments, thanking her stars for her hated technical
training. She lifted the receiver, and heard a dial tone.
Lecter had abstained from the pleasure of musical
accompaniment up to this point, the better to hear Starling’s actions.
He listened to her steps in the hall, her pause at the table, the rustle
of her gown as she knelt. Krendler was quiet now, thankfully, and he
heard the click of plastic as she picked up the phone. He heard a voice
-- Starling’s muffled southern drawl -- and sighed.
Clarice paused as she listened to the dial tone. It would be
so easy to call 911, grab the gun, and barricade myself in the bedroom
until the SWAT teams arrive. But what would that accomplish? I might as
well have left him to the tender mercies of Mason Verger. Think,
Starling, think…… would they ever let him live? Would he even get
out of this house alive? Or would some young pup with more balls than
brains and a head full of glory shoot him on sight? Her mind ran swiftly
down the corridors of doubt, the maze of her feelings, her ideals. Do
you know what you want, Starling?
The knots of her experience unraveled in that heartbeat and
wove themselves into a new pattern. She felt the bonds she hadn’t
known existed fall away. Bonds to sick institutions that warped the very
virtues they tried to protect could no longer hold her. She had found a
purpose in her life, there at the farm, and she could not let that go.
Her desire unclouded, became crystal, and she gave herself over to it.
She took a breath, held it, and released it. Then Starling began to
speak into the receiver, her low voice and her twang making her words
into a senseless susurration to anyone not on the other end of the line.
And that meant everyone in the world, for she had never dialed a number.
With a smile, she hung up the phone. The words she had spoken, over and
over, were “Pawn to king’s four.”
She looked again at the table, picked up her gun and caressed
it. The fact that it was useless to her in this situation made her love
for it no less. But if she could not win the game without a gun, she
would never win with it. She set it back down on the table, and picked
up her handcuffs. Now these, she thought, could be useful. She carefully
clinked them back down on the table, then silently placed them in the
waist of her dress, snug against her hip. The gown was tight, but the
fabric was gathered there, and she believed the silhouette would be
adequately masked. The wallet she never even considered. It had no place
in her life anymore. Feigning a slight stagger, she descended the
Lecter heard the unnatural rhythm of her descent with some
amusement. She had wisely decided to leave the trappings of her trade
behind her -- after all, the wound on her chest was the only badge
that meant anything to him -- but she thought to trick him with this
junior-high drama performance? He made up his mind to enjoy the short
time they had left to the hilt. He estimated that the authorities she
had called would arrive to this isolated location in about fifteen
minutes. Plenty of time to make his escape. The fact that she would not
be joining him burned a hole deep inside, and he heard a faint, mocking
chuckle somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind, but he chose to
ignore these sensations. After all, it was his last time with the woman
he loved, the only one he deemed worthy. It would be criminal to waste
it on regret.
When she walked in the room, though, he almost took the plate
he was holding and hurled it at her head. A surge of anger boiled up,
and he forced it down with some difficulty. None of his private war
surfaced as far as his face, though, and his voice what calm and almost
warm as he said “Good evening, Clarice. I’m so glad you could join
us for dinner.”
Clarice had stopped dead in her tracks. That voice sent a
jolt of electricity from her navel to her nipples and back down even
further. But of all the things she had anticipated, all the variables
she had run through in her mind, the sight of Paul Krendler at the
dining room table, tied to a wheelchair, had never once occurred to her.
She swayed, legitimately this time, and felt her knees begin to buckle.
In a flash, Dr. Lecter was at her side, graciously supporting her as he
guided her to her chair. Numb, she sat down. I can’t do this, she
thought. There is no way. I thought I could. I’m sorry. She looked at
Lecter, her eyes moist.
Krendler decided to join the conversation at this point.
“Hey, Starling,” he brayed, “you cornpone country pussy, how’d
ya like to sit over here by me?” He leered at her, a thin stream of
spittle leaking from the corner of his mouth. Lecter decided to skip the
Starling looked at Krendler, eyes growing colder and colder
still. She noted the red line circling his head. She looked at that man
who had almost single-handedly destroyed her life, and she thirsted for
his blood. I’ve eaten beef with more manners, she thought, how hard
can this be? Still, a reflex lower than thought caused her bile to rise,
and she reached for her empty wine glass. Lecter was at her side in a
moment, pouring for her. She gulped the wine greedily, erasing the sour
taste from her mouth. Lecter’s hand brushed hers, just for a moment,
as he took the glass from her hand. It was enough to stiffen her
resolve. She studiously avoided looking at him, hoping her face would
not betray her plans. She was fairly certain he would interpret this as
She was correct. Lecter, too, had thrilled to the touch of
her hand, the vision of her in motion, though she had yet to speak to
him. But he almost could not bear to look at the obvious anguish on her
face, the grimaces of disgust, the almost palpable rejection. He moved
to Krendler’s side of the table.
“What’s for dinner? I’m hungry,” she made herself
gasp, her own very real shock lending credence to her voice.
Still trying to play along, thought Lecter, almost
admiringly. She has courage, it’s true. Well, let’s see how she
plays this. “Revenge, Clarice, though it’s rude to ask.” He
lifted off the top of Krendler’s skull, exposing the glistening
membrane beneath. “I realize you may have wanted to be your own agent
of vengeance, but I could not pass up the opportunity. I hope you will
accept Mr. Krendler’s first offering in recompense.” While he spoke,
he was busy cutting away the shining coat and exposing the gray matter
beneath. He deftly cut a slice from the frontal lobe, placed it in a
waiting bow of ice water, then breaded it and added it to the already
simmering mixture in the pan. In a moment, it was done. A heavenly aroma
filled the room.
“Hey, that smells goooood,” exclaimed Krendler. “Can I
“He can have mine,” whispered Clarice. Though her head
was lowered, her eyes were busy, taking in the scene. She spotted the
elaborate arrangement on the sideboard, and found the little bronze
Lecter nodded. “If that is your desire, Clarice.” He put
the thin slice directly into Krendler’s mouth.
“Yum,” said Krendler. “You should have some.”
Clarice took this moment to bolt from her chair, taking a
path that would lead her past the sideboard. Lecter caught her arm and
whirled her around. His deep maroon eyes bored into her frightened face.
“You didn’t ask to be excused, Clarice,” he said in a chilling
voice. Saying her name was a pleasure he did not intend to forgo.
While he looked into her eyes she reached behind her and
closed her fingers around the dagger. In a desperate-seeming lunge she
threw herself forward, the dagger aimed for Lecter’s throat. He caught
her easily, and his hand gripped her arm painfully. He forced the dagger
from her fingers and threw it off into the darkness of the living room.
“Sit down, Clarice,” he snarled, pushing her violently into a chair.
“Paul and I will clear the table, then perhaps you’d enjoy some
dessert. Or, as I might say, your just deserts.” He pushed Krendler
into the kitchen, his back turned to Clarice as he did so.
From her vantage point she could not see the mirror that gave
him a clear view of her image. He saw her reach for the first likely
looking weapon she could find, and she picked up a large candlestick.
She was thinking desperately now, trying to find the opening
that would lead to the denouement of this whole tragicomic ordeal. She
stifled a hiccup of hysterical laughter. She was so close, so close to
winning, to proving that she could best her master. It should only take
one more move……
He was ready for her as she slipped up behind him in the
kitchen. With a smash he pounded her into the refrigerator, gripping her
shoulders with his hands. The candlestick fell to the floor. She
struggled to get away, but he demonstrated his legendary speed as he
opened the door, yanked her hair loose, and pinned it. He broke the
handle off the door and flourished it in her face, then cast it
carelessly aside. He took her face into his hands, bringing her
painfully close. “I know the FBI is coming, Clarice, I heard you call
them,” he hissed. “They won’t find me here. But you destroyed my
lovely meal, and that I cannot forgive. Perhaps you could repay me, by
providing a little snack for the road……” He bared his teeth, and
bent his head towards her lips.
Steady, now, girl, she said to herself. You’re almost
there. Just a little more.
He could not bring himself to do it. Instead, he stole the
kiss he had sworn he would only take willingly. Though her lips did not
move, he pressed himself firmly against her body and kissed her with the
full passion of his love. That is, until he felt the cold grip on his
wrist and heard the unmistakable click of her handcuffs.
He drew back, gazing intently at their linked wrists. If only
we were linked like this, he allowed himself to think sadly. But I’ve
lost you now. “That is really interesting, Clarice,” he said, “and
I am really in a hurry. So where’s the key?”
Inside, Clarice crowed, “Checkmate!” Her face, however,
showed only calm confusion. In a wondering tone she asked, “But why
would the FBI come? Nobody’s called them.”
He stopped, stared, and for the first time she saw genuine
surprise naked on his face. “What game is this you’re playing,” he
asked. “What is it that you want, Clarice?”
“This,” she murmured softly, as she drew his head down
and gave him the answer to the kiss he had bestowed upon her. Their
mouths opened, their tongues met, and their bodies melted together.
Wordlessly he removed the Harpy from his pocket and slashed her gown,
extending the plunging neckline all the way down to the hem. Her naked
body hummed in exultation as she felt his hand, his mouth, explore her.
She fumbled with his clothing, moaning with frustration as his buttons
eluded her. Never stopping his fevered caresses, he pressed the knife
into her hand. She returned his favor, slicing through silk and wool
like butter. His shirt opened wide and his pants fell down around his
ankles as they hungrily embraced body to body, skin to skin. Neither
would ever know who was first to sink to the floor. He reached between
her legs and her wetness seared his hand. She was so ready for him.
Rolling on top of her, he opened her thighs and entered her, groaning as
the waves of pleasure crashed over him. She reached up and pulled his
head down, invading his mouth the way he was penetrating her. Together,
linked as one, they climaxed, breathing in short, ragged gasps until
both were utterly spent. It was almost less love than war, but in the
end, each knew the other’s emotion was true. After, still handcuffed
together, they lay on the floor, eyes locked on each other. For the
first time in his life, Hannibal felt safe. For the first time in her
experience with him, Clarice felt in control.
She smiled at him, shyly, not sure what to do in her new
found position. He returned her smile, tentatively, until they both
began to laugh. He propped himself up on his elbow, and the old
inscrutable statement returned to his face. “So, Clarice,” he said
in the voice that chilled her all over. She began to doubt everything
she had felt, everything she had believed.
“Where’s the key?” he finished, and smiled
once again at the thought that bubbled to the surface of his mind. This
game was only just now ended. Checkmate.
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