Title: The Burning Heart Series : He Woke Her Then...

Author: lornesgoldenhair

Genre: Hannibal Fanfiction

Pairing: Hannibal/Clarice

Timescale: Set after Hannibal the movie (alternate ending – i.e. Hannibal escapes with his hand!)

Rating: NC-17/M for violence and possible sexual content.

Date of Creation: April 2008

Summary: Clarice lies close to death having lost everything she holds dear when she is visited by an old friend. Can he give her what she needs to live?

Distribution: DodgyObsession, , otherwise just ask.

Disclaimer: I don't own Hannibal or Clarice, they belong to the talented Mr Harris, I'm just borrowing them ;-) No infringement of rights intended.

'Drop your weapons!' Special Agent Starlings voice rang out hoarsely across the warehouse. 'I said drop your weapons! Put the gun on the floor and raise your hands!'

Around her the SWAT team took aim at the small group of men who stood in darkness beneath the stairwell. Starling squinted into the gloom trying to make out their position. This was not how she had intended this to go off, cornered, face to face with the suspects, a direct confrontation between the two sides. Outside darkness was falling, the wind picking up. On her arms the fine hairs stood on end.

'This is your last warning,' she called, 'put the weapons on the floor and raise your hands where we can see them.'

Of course, they didn't.

The shots echoed in off the concrete walls to be followed instantaneously by a barrage of fire from behind her. But for Clarice it was already too late.

-- --

Hospitals. They smelt of cleaning fluid and the nurses' cheap perfume. As he passed through the ER his senses were all but assaulted by the stench of drunkenness and incontinence, the city's deadbeats gathering in the reception out of the cold, arguing with the orderlies who tried to move them on. He would have thought that given her dedication in the line of duty they could have found her somewhere more befitting her character.

There are deep rollers and there are shallow rollers. You cannot breed two deep rollers or their young will fall too far and die. Agent Starling is a deep roller, let us hope for her sake that one of her parents was not...

He had expected it. Her fall. Six months had passed since she had let him escape from the lake house and he had followed her life from a distance waiting for it to happen. Affiliated as she was in the minds of the press to his infamy he could be sure that any news regarding her career would be touted in the headlines. He had predicted a case backfiring, a dramatic dismissal from the FBI with an outside chance that she would take it upon herself to quit. He had to admit he had not anticipated this.

It rather complicated his plans.

But no matter, he was never one to avoid a challenge.

Dr Lecter slipped unnoticed from the entrance of the hospital and disappeared deep into the bowels of the building. He carried around him the confidence of one who belonged in the environment, a born doctor, pausing only to help himself to a white coat and stethoscope to immerse himself in his role, and then drifting unhindered through the halls.

Surely the FBI might have expected his visit; surely Clarice would have warned them? But alas poor Clarice was unconscious and if she hadn't been... well he doubted she would have tried to prevent him paying a call. In their last encounter she had made it quite clear that she had no will to stop him. A vague intention perhaps, a knee jerk reaction drilled into her by the academy to call for help, but no will.

His eyes travelled the stillness of the late night corridors and found nothing. He had always preferred the hospital at night, the mortuary in particular, alone with beauty and intricacies of the bodies he dissected, the absolute silence of death.

He glided past open wards and darkened bays, the occasional snore or mumble emanating from the patients and made his way to where she lay. He need not follow the signs, he could practically feel her there waiting.

Outside her room a single officer stood watch. 'Stood' was a mere turn of phrase, it seemed the man couldn't even bring himself to stand on duty; instead he had borrowed a chair from the nurses' station and settled himself with a flask and a newspaper. Lecter's eyes narrowed, that was just rude. As he grew closer the officer looked up at him wearily.

I'm surprised he's awake.

'Good evening,' Lecter smiled, 'Just checking in on the patient before I finish for the night.'

The man grunted and returned to his paper.

Unbelievable. Obviously highly trained.

He pushed open the door.

Her scent hit him immediately, delicate as it was it was unforgettable. Softly he shut the door behind him and let his eyes adjust to the light in the room. It was dim, lit only by a single sconce at the headboard of her bed and the monitors which surrounded her. A cursory glance at them told him that although deeply unconscious she was stable. He crossed to the nurse's desk and cast his eyes over her observations pinned across an angled desktop like a blueprint. More stable than she had been before, she had been lucky it seemed. He caught sight of the empty sandwich box to one side of the chart. Nurses. An unconscious patient and the immediately assume they can take their break in her room. With fingertips he lifted the waste and dropped it disdainfully into the bin before turning his attention to Clarice.

She was lying propped at a slight angle, her face in perfect repose. The covers were pulled to her arm pits and tucked tightly around her, their faultless position evidence that she did not move in her sleep. On her left shoulder a fading pink scar from the bullet he had removed that summer. Lecter stepped closer and scrutinized it, and satisfied with his handiwork, turned his consideration to her face.

She was thinner than before, no doubt because of her IV diet and piped synthetic foodstuffs. He eyed the foul looking bag suspended above her head and watched as it dripped its purulent yellow contents into the tube which entered her stomach. A stab of anger raced through him before he pushed it away and moved back to his examination.

There were dark circles beneath her eyes and her skin, always pale, was almost translucent, but she held around her the same beauty he had come to know so well. He allowed his gaze to linger a moment too long on her lashes and then gently folded back the covers.

He was purely professional as he surveyed her body. In his mind he estimating the path of the bullets which had torn through her, the structures they could have damaged, her chances of complete recovery. Of course he had accessed her casefiles already but he never did trust anyone else's judgement. Expertly he palpated her abdomen and slipped the stethoscope over her ribs. Her body at least was on the mend. Lecter replaced the covers and loosened them around her, freeing her restriction and as a final touch he smoothed her long hair over her shoulders and adjusted the light above her bed so that it did not shine directly on her face.

She was healing and she was out of danger, he had known that from the press cuttings and confirmed it with his own inspection. Barring any undiscovered brain injury, a highly unlikely prospect given her history, there was no reason why she would not wake up.

Lecter took his place in the chair by her bed, removing from it the debris of empty sterile packets and papers. Obviously she had no regular visitors. There were no flowers in the room, no cards. The rats had deserted the sinking ship. Perhaps they had come at first, but three weeks had passed now, their lives moved on while hers lay in limbo.

There was no physical reason why she did not wake. A physical reason could be healed.

'Clarice,' he addressed her as he had always done, with a hint of curiosity and veiled sensuality. 'I was not expecting to see you again so soon but it seems you have gone and got yourself into trouble again. I wonder if you realise how much?' He paused. 'No? Are you feeling shy Clarice? Then please let me explain.'

He reclined in the chair, his fingers steepled before him.

'The newspapers say your career is over, that your injuries will never allow you to perform active duties again... I don't envision you sitting behind a desk. You'll be pensioned off no doubt, or quit, the choice is yours, but your days with the FBI are over little starling. I think you know this don't you?' He tilted his head and regarded her, her breathing soft and regular, her face expressionless. 'Yes,' he said. 'You know. Your job is gone and your friends, judging by the less than welcoming decor of your room, have deserted you. You went a step too far on that raid didn't you Clarice, throwing caution to the wind. They blame you for crafting your own doom, but I know better. It is not your doom you are crafting Clarice... but your escape. It's time for a change Clarice, if you feel you can. If not you will continue to lie here until your choices are gone.' Dr Lecter leaned forward and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. 'What's it to be Clarice?'

He tutted. 'A drugs raid Clarice, and a relatively simple one at that. How unbecoming for you to have failed so utterly in the line of duty. The average trainee fresh from the academy could have handled that one and you yourself have handled so much more. Some might say that your lack of engagement with your role is symptomatic of something deeper and more sinister. You would protest I think, if you could,' he smiled, 'But you have chosen to be silent. Tell me Clarice, is it silent where you are now? I doubt it.' Lecter rose and bent across her body, placing his lips close to her ear and whispering. 'It's time to wake up from your dream, and when you do... I'll be waiting.'