Clarice often found herself trying to put Mason Verger out of her mind. He seemed to haunt her thoughts and it unsettled her. One thing that always occurred to her was what had really happened the night that Hannibal suggested he peel his own face off? Sure, Mason had told her some things about that night like his autoerotic asphyxiation set up, the experiment with the hungry dogs and his efforts to seduce the good doctor.

One night when Hannibal was out for a walk in the rain, Clarice lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, entertaining her ridiculous qualms. How far had Hannibal gone to punish Mason for his sins? It was true that Hannibal only ate the rude, but Mason didn't fall into the category of "rude". Mason Verger was disturbed and filthy. In Clarice's opinion, and maybe even in Hannibal's, being eaten was even too good for him. She couldn't imagine Hannibal allowing Mason's dirty, paedophilic flesh near his mouth.

But what had Hannibal done to gain Mason's trust? Had it just been the drugs? Clarice had done a little looking up on 'poppers' and was slightly shocked. Poppers were used to enhance sexual pleasure and were popular in night clubs and with the gay community. This knowledge made her ask 'could Hannibal have used more than the drugs to entice Mason to do what he wanted?'

Clarice knew she was being absolutely stupid. There was no way Hannibal would stoop so low to bring Mason down. Still, it was an anxiety. It really shouldn't bother her. She always thought 'if he plays for both teams, I am okay with that. I have nothing against different sexual orientations.'

Despite this logic, for some reason, the chance that Hannibal had... done things with Mason made Clarice feel sick and jealous. Mason had been quite handsome before the incident and was not a closeted gay. She could imagine him touching Hannibal's arm, maybe putting his face a little closer than he would with someone else. She could see the secretive half smile Hannibal wore when he was thinking, his then-whole hand on Mason's knee. Clarice would banish the images from her mind's eye, stomach roiling with resentment.

She wanted Hannibal to be all her own. It was unrealistic to think that she was the only one he had ever been with sexually, but she desperately wanted to be the only one Hannibal had ever touched intimately. They had never really discussed past romantic relationships, nor did she want to, but a self-destructive curiosity ate away at her. Who had Hannibal been with before? Another woman? Mason...?

Hannibal returned late in the night and found Clarice still awake. He stripped off his wet clothes and joined her in bed. He pressed his face against her neck, nuzzling her affectionately. "Hello, Clarice," he murmured, relishing her warmth. Clarice acknowledged him half-heartedly. He stopped and immediately asked what was on her mind.

"H, I know this is out of the blue," she took a deep breath, "but did you ever do anything with Mason?"

"Do? As in...?"

"Sexually?"

Hannibal frowned slightly. He looked somewhat affronted, but Clarice caught the confusion in his eye. "I did nothing of that nature with him. I have no interest whatsoever in anyone but you."

Clarice nodded, her trepidation assuaged.

"Why do you ask?" Hannibal prodded gently.

Her cheeks went a light pink. "Just insecurities," she paused, looking at him measurably in the eyes. "I want you all to myself. I don't know who you've been with before, and now I have decided I don't want to know."

"Clarice," Hannibal stroked her cheek lightly, "I knew a long time ago that I would never completely own you. You are too strong and independent for that, but I do want you to know that I am yours in body, mind and soul."

"I don't want to own you," Clarice sighed, "I just want you for myself."

Hannibal eased Clarice onto her back. "You have me." His mouth trailed to her neck once again. His hands, even the prosthetic, were hot on her skin. Clarice wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, their lips meeting in a blazing kiss. He intended to show her exactly what he meant.

A few hours later, dawn peeked through their bedroom window. Clarice opened her eyes part way, slitting them against the sun light. Hannibal was dead asleep, his head resting on her chest. She tenderly ran her fingers through his hair.

He had expelled all of her anxiety, without a doubt. She had been a complete idiot, and was grateful that he didn't ridicule her for it. He felt the need to comfort her, and it amazed her in a way of how well he conveyed his thoughts and feelings through physicality rather than words. One would think that with all his intelligence and large vernacular that Hannibal would be a talker.

It wasn't even sex that Clarice was thinking about. She was thinking of all the little things Hannibal did that she learned how to read, from the way he cocked his head, to the way he picked things up. Every motion he made had a purpose, he was not a superfluous man.

In his sleep, Hannibal mumbled something under his breath. Clarice curled her hand around his and held it loosely. Her eyes began to close and she surrendered to her exhaustion.

In the stillness of the morning, they slept peacefully. Neither dreamt. They simply existed together.