Disclaimer:Thomas Harris owns them. I'm just borrowing them.

Author's Note: This storyfollows film cannon except that it works under the premise that they had 20 minutes instead of 10 before the authorities arrived at the end. Picks up right at the end of the kitchen scene between Hannibal and Clarice.

Chapter One

Clarice turned her head as his arm made the small backward lift before coming down toward their bound wrists. Her eyes squeezed shut and an involuntary scream escaped her lips as the metal arched lower, her body jerking violently in tandem with the sharp clack of steel impacting wood. Her mind hung in numb suspension in the brief moments of silence following the sudden sound. It was only after the second click echoed in her ears that she came back to the present and the feel of blunt metal moving along her right wrist. Clarice's eyes slid to the right, head slowly turning, unsure of what she'd see, surprised to find her hand still attached to her arm, resting unfettered on the warm countertop. Her blue gaze traveled across empty space, finally encountering Lecter's left arm and perfectly intact hand tucking the now open handcuffs into his jacket pocket.

The cleaver was still held in his right hand, the bright metal reflecting the feral glint in his eyes, not catching the amusement she saw when she eventually lifted her gaze from his whole hands. Still trapped by the uncaring grip of the refrigerator door, she could only back up so far as the monster advanced on her slowly, a bare smile curling the corners of his red lips. Her eyes widened as one tip of the blade pressed against the hollow of her throat, pupils dilating as Lecter's face leaned in closer to hers. The breath caught in her chest as he lightly turned the metal at her neck, pressing hard enough to cause a thin stream of blood to trail down her breastbone.

The hint of a smile still played at his mouth as he said quietly, "Tell me, Clarice, did you know that to cleave is one of the few words in the English language that means both itself and its opposite—to cling together and to split apart?" He waited patiently in the silence that stretched between them, thicker than any prison cell had ever been. When no reply was forthcoming, he raised an eyebrow and asked, "No answer this time? I must say I'm surprised with you, Agent Starling. You've never been at a loss for words before. Perhaps you find it difficult to speak with such pressure weighing on you." At that statement, he removed the blade from her throat, reaching back to place it on the counter.

He tilted his head slightly as she remained mute to his questioning. "As I said before, I'm rather pressed for time and would like to put a comfortable distance between myself and this place before your associates arrive." The doctor leaned in close once more, face inches from hers as he inhaled deeply of her scent to take with him. "I regret that this must be goodbye for now, Clarice. I had hoped for a more pleasant evening," he offered with a bit of melancholy in his deep voice. Then his lips were lightly brushing hers again, only a fleeting touch before he began to withdraw from her.

Her lips moved against his slowly as she murmured, "Don't stop." She wanted desperately to close her eyes, to block out the violet ones staring back at her. Starling was afraid to meet his intense gaze, afraid not to, afraid he would comply and at the same time wouldn't. Her mind had broken free of its paralysis and was now thrown into a whirling chaos of conflicting needs, beliefs, wants, and desires. Nothing was making sense to her; she had reacted solely on instinct and found her rational mind more and more incapable of taking over the longer she held eye contact with Lecter. Some part of her watched as his grin widened at her tentative words, the full meaning of her earlier retort ringing clear in light of this sudden addendum.

And then she no longer had to think or watch as his mouth covered hers once more, different this time, steadier and more insistent as Clarice's eyes slid shut in agreement. She didn't move, couldn't will herself to budge as Hannibal's lips began to claim her, his mouth gentle and soft where she would have expected it to be hard and cruel, even in this type of exchange. It was undoubtedly the most sensual kiss she had ever experienced, his pointed tongue tracing the small space between her lips as she exhaled slowly, finding its way inside her mouth with no resistance. That willful tongue glided over the roof of her mouth and caressed its counterpart in deliberate strokes. She acquiesced easily, running her own tongue over his small white teeth, dipping inside the monster's mouth to taste him in return.

Hannibal's hands rested on her sides, thumbs stroking the bare flesh as he pressed her against the cool white metal behind her. His lips traveled along her jaw line, savoring each flavor he encountered in her skin, moving down to the thin line of crimson staining her chest. With maddening slowness, he captured the congealing blood on his rough tongue, gradually returning the skin to its freckled cream color. Unable to help himself, the doctor suckled lightly at the tiny wound, profoundly pleased when Clarice gripped his upper arms with a hissed, "Yes." Eventually, he resumed feasting on her hot mouth, warm palms moving to the pale expanse of flesh at the center of her dress to push aside the material obstructing their progress to her breasts.

Clarice gasped quietly as his fingers found her nipples and pinched them lightly, tugging at the rosy tips until they were pebbled tightly, his luscious mouth quickly descending to replace his hands. She impatiently pulled his shirttail free from his pants, small hands slipping underneath the whiteness to rub his broad chest, fingers playing with the light growth of hair there. A whimper escaped her throat as Hannibal nibbled on her tender nipples, his hands massaging her ass as he pulled her hips toward his. She couldn't wait—didn't want to—as her hands unerringly found the fastenings on his pants and undid them, reaching inside and freeing him before he could protest.

He stilled briefly as her hands surrounded him and began to stroke his length. There was no more hesitation on his part, his hands locating the slit in her dress and bunching it up around her waist. His thumbs hooked under the edge of her underwear and pushed them down, amused when she stepped one leg out of them, not bothering with the other one. They were both momentarily grateful for their similar heights as Hannibal grasped one of her thighs and pulled it high up along his waist. His knees bent slightly, fingers of his free hand sliding along her folds and coming away wet with her arousal before positioning himself at her entrance and cupping her firm ass in both hands. Clarice brought her arms up over his shoulders, hands locking together behind his neck as he thrust into her smoothly.

She moved up with him when he straightened his legs, her one dangling leg just reaching the floor on tiptoes. He created a fast rhythm between them, nearly sliding out of her tight body with each stroke. They remained in quiet erotic concentration, eyes never leaving the other as the urgency built in their coupling. The sharp tendrils of an impending orgasm worked their way through Clarice's flushed body, her head falling back at one point to thunk against the refrigerator door. She snapped it back up, however, when she felt sharp teeth pressing into the skin at her collarbone. Her eyes locked on his again, a grin spreading across her lips as his eyes narrowed in pleasure and he pushed harder into her. Her climax started deep inside her womb, and she buried her face in the side of his neck as it shot out along her nerves. "Hannibal…," she managed to whisper against his skin as she clung to him.

The sound of his name issuing from her lips in the moment of release combined with the sweet sensation of her muscles gripping him to send him over the edge after her. His fingers dug into the soft flesh of her backside, teeth sinking into her shoulder and breaking the skin, bright drops of red welling up into his mouth. It was several moments before he regained his composure, kissing the bite mark that stood out starkly on her shoulder. Hannibal moved his lips back to hers, the taste of her blood still strong in his mouth.

She relaxed as she felt him begin to soften inside of her, a little regretful as he pulled back a bit and slipped out of her. He eased her down to the floor, running his strong hands up her back, kissing her softly one last time before he stepped away from her. His smile turned sad as he tucked his shirt back into his pants, fastening them again with efficient movements. "I am sorry, my dear Clarice, but I believe our time together has drawn to a close. I do wish that we could prolong our encounter; however, under the circumstances, I think it would be best for us both if I leave now. Somehow, I don't believe the authorities would understand our current situation." Hannibal brought his hand up to caress her face, placing a tender kiss on her lips. "I will be sure to call on you again, Clarice," he promised quietly.

His hands gripped the edge of the refrigerator door, flashing her a grim smile. "Let me offer you one last bit of assistance before I make good on my escape." He pulled at the well-sealed door, a small grunt resounding as the appliance opened and her hair came free. A grimace contorted his face as he clutched at his left arm, knowing the feel of a dislocated shoulder when it happened.

Wordlessly, Clarice stepped up and held tight to his forearm, shooting him a look that clearly let him know to brace himself on something. Lecter pushed against the edge of the counter, hearing the loud pop as she jerked his arm back into place. Wounded arm tucked against his chest, he turned the leave, stopping when a hand fell onto his back. Clarice moved in close, gave his cheek a soft kiss, and murmured, "Be careful."

Lecter nodded briskly in acknowledgment. "Always," he returned and strode out the door, just missing the lone tear that tracked down Clarice's cheek as she watched his retreating back cross the lawn toward the lake.

Moments later, she ran her hands over her face, removing any traces of tears and wiped her palms on her skirt. Clarice adjusted the front of her dress and slipped her underwear back on, a pang of longing filling her chest as she started for the door herself, the sound of sirens loud in the open air. She hurried down to the shoreline, searching across it for any sign of Doctor Lecter. Lights flashed behind her in blue and red, shouts ringing around her. As her eyes lit on the boat, she could hear the team closing in on her. A quick glance confirmed the small craft was empty. It was with mixed feelings that she raised her arms above her head, calling out, "Clarice Starling—FBI!"