Disclaimer: No, I'm not Thomas Harris, but I wish I had his money! In all seriousness, though, I don't own the characters of Hannibal I'm-oh-so-sexy Lecter and Clarice I'm-oh-so-lucky Starling. This is merely a fanfiction.

WARNING: The author is not a native English speaker, so be gentle.

Info: Two years after Memphis.

"Why are we whispering?"

"It's intimacy"

Viktoriya Tokareva, "Tu es..."

CHAPTER 1: Love is Strange

Starling woke up in the dark. Her sleep had not refreshed her; she woke up bilious, irritable, ill-tempered, and looked with hatred at her room. Its stillness was almost unnatural. The screaming was so vivid; it took her a few minutes to realize that it was just a dream.

Then she remembered. It was not a usual screaming. There was no screaming at all.

The lambs were silent. They were standing in the dark sheep pen and they were silent. Ten pairs of black oval eyes were staring hard at her.

Her cell phone rang insistently; a late call again, but to Starling in her present state of mind this was positively agreeable.

"Hello?"

"Good evening, Clarice"

Starling's hand shot out to the night table.

"Did I wake you? Sorry"

"Good evening, Doctor Lecter". – Her voice sounded alright to her.

"Don't bother to look for the .45, Clarice, you won't need it. And I'm afraid I had to disconnect your telephone from the Network; you'll be able to fix it up easily. There's a trace-alert on it, is there not?" – A pause. – "Hmmmm. Your voice has deepened".

"Has it?"

"You started smoking, didn't you?"

"I did, yes".

"Must I tell you that it is rather unhealthy, Officer Starling? Although I do find it is a stroke of good fortune for me."

"Why, Dr Lecter?"

"Your smell, Clarice", - was the answer.

"Makes it much easier to indicate where I am, doesn't it?"

"Precisely" He's near.

Feeling as if she were moving under water, Clarice Starling leaned back against the pillows and took a deep breathe. She was facing the biggest miscalculation in her life. How sad...

"And how do you want to kill me?"

"I could ask you the same question".

"What?"

"Clarice. If my death is the only way for us to play - so be it. But if you are not tricky enough, I'm afraid the game will end rather abruptly. And we wouldn't want that to happen, would we now, hmmm?"

"You said you had no plans to call on me".

"Aren't I giving you what you love the most, Clarice Starling?"

"Advancement?"

"Of course. I'm still among FBI Most Wanted. Take your chance, Officer. How often did you see me in your mind's eye, Clarice?"

"Every day".

"Hmm. Surely Daddy wouldn't approve such an obsession with a serial-killer?" – He drawled.

"Why do you want me to kill you?"

"You always were so much fun to toy with". In Montana Starling often saw a farm cattoying with a half-dead mouse. The game would not last long.

"I understand you want to die?"

He chuckled quietly. "Are you asking me, Officer Starling, if my little oddities have driven me to suicide thoughts? Don't be silly. It has a certain appeal, though, dying from those shapely hands of yours, wouldn't you agree?"

"No."

"The truth is I'm rather bored and the only person who can entertain me is an FBI agent." He said in a sorry voice.

So much for another round of mind games.

"What if I say no?"

"You know the answer."

A beat. Then a sigh from Starling.

"Dr Lecter?"

"Clarice?"

"I'm terribly sorry, but I didn't follow your advice not to look for the gun. I have it in my hand now and the muzzle is inch away from my temple. So you'd better choose another game or you'll have to play alone."

Cold silence followed.

Tick-tock, tick-tock…

Wake up, girl. Get some clothes on, call the police, go look for the Doctor. Come on.

Too late. The door cracked and Dr.Lecter himself stood at the doorstep. My, he indeed could kill me whenever he wanted to, she thought.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. That is a very dirty trick, you know that?"

Something stirred in her. "You look good, Doctor."

He stood still, unblinking.

"I'm glad you find me so, Clarice. Now could you please put the gun down?" – He started to move gracefully along the wall, never taking his eyes off her – "It is very annoying".

"Is it? You make one more step and I pull the trigger."

Lecter stopped in a dark corner, so she could barely see him.

"Why don't you ask me where I went to after Memphis?" – His voice moved lower. He must set on the floor.

"Florence?"

He laughed quietly. "Oh, Clarice, that's the first place FBI would think I went to."

"Because ofthe drawings."

"Yes."

"Are you planning to go there as soon as you're finished with me, sir?" – She asked casually.

"Finished with you, Clarice? Hmm-- I think if it really happens I'll stay here in your house. If you don't mind, of course."

How lovely. "But-- they will find you-- the house will be full of cops and--"

"If you take your own life, that is. Yes, they'll stick around for a while. I do not want to find out how you taste, Special Agent Starling. At all. So why pull the trigger?"

"I don't believe that, Dr Lecter."

"I didn't expect you to. The gun, Clarice: it is still in your hand. You only need to point it at me and shoot."

Staring at the corner he was sitting in, Starling unhurriedly put out the bullets and dropped them on the floor. The gun followed.

"And you, Doctor, you only need to take out your Harpy and..."

She jumped when she heard something metallic rolled over the floor to her bed.

"Take it." – And she did. The knife reminded her of an ace's sting. Starling pushed the blade inside and squeezed the handle that still had the warmth of his hand.

Lecter went on a knee before her bed and winked at her, a seductive smile on his red lips.

"What happens next, Dr Lecter?" – She asked as she looked at his fingers stroking the covers. He tilted his head, sighing.

"Oh Agent Starling…" – Lecter eyed the bed – "Ummm. Give me some room, will you?"

She obeyed and in bare seconds the Monster was lying beside her.

For the first time she could actually feel the warmth radiating from him.

His eyes were closed. Dr Hannibal Lecter off duty, Starling thought. Catch the feeling.

"Have the lambs stopped screaming?"

"Yes" – it was a bare whisper.

"Tell me, Clarice, tell me"

Starling turned to face his dark profile. "They are silent. They stand there and they are silent. I open the pen and wave them to come out, but they stand still. They just look at me. I know they will be all killed in the morning and I try to safe them. But they just won't come out--" She had to stop because of the sudden limp in her throat.

"Why don't they want to come out, Clarice?" Lecter's own voice was not as stable as it had been a minute ago.

"They… resigned to their fate".

"Resigned to their fate" - He echoed. - "Silence of the Condemned… Standing in the elevator with all those upper-crust toffs around, have you ever felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights? They don't take you too seriously, do they? Rural background, thousands little goals along the way, the distance is too long, the lamb is too heavy. Nothing can set you free, Clarice, as your God, the Night Watchman, is long dead. Will you tell me if they ever come out?

"Yes, Dr Lecter; yes I'll tell you"

"So why not come out yourself first? You don't need to make up your mind right now"

She heard him turning on his side.

"Clarice Starling, did your father ever flirt with his wife in your presence?

"Yes"

"Did you ever want to replace your mother? Did you ever feel you were kept aloof?

A beat. "I don't recall that, Doctor. If I did envy her, I had no right to complain".

Hannibal Lecter reached his cupped hand into the deep neckline of her dressing gown and freed her breast, quickly peaky in the open air. 'Now you do" - he bent to her coral and cream his dark sleek head.


In the Beginning Harris created 'Silence of the lambs'. And Harris said: 'Let there be a book" and there was the book. And Demme saw that the book was good; and he invited Hopkins over there... Many years passed, and then the Lecterphiles appeared.