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If You Loved Me

copyright 2001, by LIttle Starling

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, Jack Crawford, Ardelia Mapp, and Paul Krendler 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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"Is it like this In Death's other Kingdom Waking alone At the hour when we are Trembling with tenderness Lips that would kiss Form prayers to broken stone." - T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

"Would you ever say to me, 'If you loved me, you'd stop'?"

As he leans in to me, I feel my heart pounding in my throat and his breath, sweet like wine, upon my lips. Like a infitisimally gentle wind, it passes smoothly over the plains of my skin, over each hill and vale, over my lips and my cheek, fading away at my jaw as though reaching the ends of the earth. The effect is not lost there, however, as the words that were carried upon it, caress my ears and linger in my mind for a moment longer than is quite biologically explicable. Like the murmurings of a secret lover, they rumble softly through my skin, but it is like a naughty child, or wayward pet, that I find myself extraordinarily placated by them.

The warmth of his body is palpable through his formal dinner suit, which he has been wearing for some hours now, waiting for me to arise from my drug-induced slumber. I feel its smooth, fine material brushing against my dress as the jacket falls slightly open over me. I can also feel it on my right arm, where his hand holds me against the fridge. The pain receptors in my scalp are shrieking protest against him, as I silently strain against the door, trying to pull free my long hair without him noticing me. I should know by now, that is impossible. I should know by now that Hannibal Lecter is omniscient in all matters concerning Clarice Starling, up to and including those that take place within my head. He is my warden, my lover, my liberator, my executioner. He is my environment. Wherever I find myself, that's where he is.

And here he is.

A finger brushes against my neck, sending shivers down my spine. My body arches almost imperceptibly against the fridge as I recoil or respond. His other hand is at a distance to my body, as though a wedge is being driven between us and his left hand lingering on my neck is our only connection, the last one to break. Except that I know this connection will never break. What is within us, and thus between us, is unbreakable. Literally - or at least, it seems that way to me. I wonder briefly whether he would ever forsake me; whether I could commit some crime so deep and intense that we might be severed forever... And I doubt it, with the strength of my soul and fire of my heart, I doubt it.

For we are the same, the Doctor and I. We are different in our one of our fundamental values, that being, the value of human life, but in so many other way, we are just the same. He is my creation as much as I am his; we have warped and perverted each other for almost a decade, in ways that are now irreversible. Had we even wanted to go back, it would be impossible - we are too deeply changed. And time does not flow backwards. Would that it did, I might fear the day I walked out of Doctor Lecter's prison cell and out of his life again. I might pray for it sometimes, lying desperately awake at night, and beg that it were possible. But I know now, as I knew then and will always know, I could not do it. I could not bring myself to betray him in that final, absolute way... If time flowed backwards.

Meanwhile, in the direction that it does flow, the milliseconds are soaring past, hurtling me towards an answer to his querie. I cannot meet his eyes, but focus instead on his lips. Suddenly, the drugs are clouding my brain again and I cannot focus on anything. Were it not for my hair holding me up, and his hand steadying me, I might have fallen down. My knees are weak. I struggle to focus as his admission - was it an admission? - strikes mercilessly into my heart. Would I ever say to him, "If you loved me, you'd stop"?

And if I said it, would he stop?

Would he stop lulling me into a false sense of security, letting me believe in my ability to protect the innocent and bring evil to justice? Would he stop then reappearing, as if from nowhere (for God knows, we have left no stone unturned in our search for him), to witness my pain and relish my suffering? Would he stop killing for me, for himself, for us? Those innocents who die only for his crusade against base rudeness? For their sakes, I should ask, beg, him to stop, if he loved me.

But does he love me? Would he stop? Or would he just smile in that enigmatic way and keep on killing, forgiving me my foolish faux pas? I could not ask it of him. I could not - and not merely because I fear his response, fear knowing the true nature of our relationship. I could not ask it of *him*. What is in his nature is dark, yes, and intensely despicable. But it is not unique. There is a cruelty with which I identify, and have many times directed at him. If I could hurt him deeply enough, make him feel the pain of his victims and repent, would not justice have been served? On him, perhaps, but then again, I do not doubt that he would find amusement in the irony of my fall from grace.

What is in his nature, I could not deny. Even if he loved me, I could not deny it, for to do that would be to send him back to prison, to cage the animal within him and in doing so, kill that which makes me love him. No, not his inherent cruelty and malice. Not his arrogance, either, nor conceit. But it would kill his spirit; the sum of his infinite complexities and conundrums. Especially if he loved me, I could not ask of him that which would kill him. Not, if I loved him.

My eyelids flutter almost closed, until all I can see is his lips, mere inches from my own. Parted, as though to kiss me, but his teeth lie behind them like white tigers, waiting to pounce. I know that I would never say it, any more than he would say it to me. We are too alike to be torn apart, least of all by each other. I dare a glance upwards at his face, and his eyes, "eyes I dare not meet in dreams," glint with menace and promise as they catch my own. They sear directly into me like a volt of electricity and I grit my teeth and honour my vow.

"Not in a thousand years."

And I get my just desserts.


copyright 2001, by Little Starling

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