No More a Savage Life is the first installment of a trilogy. Enjoy the fic, and please consider reviewing either as you read, or when you've finished. Quite a lot of work goes into presenting a satisfactory story: lots of research and time considering plot and developing original characters with enough backstory to blend successfully with canon. It's helpful to hear what readers think as they move through the chapters as the information often provides invaluable assistance/inspiration to the writer. Thanks so much for reading- Enjoy the ride!
The characters contained herein are not my property. They are the brilliant and inspired creation of the author, Thomas Harris. The following scenarios and exchanges are written to enjoy and honor his creation of these characters with respect and admiration. I do not own the characters, only the plot line, dialogue not attributable to Harris, and my own original characters.
No More a Savage Life:Chapter One
Clarice Starling was beyond incredulous when Clint Pearsall informed her that Director Noonan was reviewing her statements and was strongly suggesting the physician complete her examination with a rape kit.
Strongly suggesting? What the hell! They can't force that on me, especially while i'm on suspension. It's not like they can threaten me or anything.
She tugged at the dress, trying to pull the halter tighter around her neck in an effort to make the deeply plunging neckline less revealing.
How dare he suggest… How dare he assume. Who the hell does he think he is? I'm not doing it! I'm not and they can't make me!
Her mind swirling, now feeling even more exposed than she felt in and out of consciousness while Doctor Lecter tended her injuries, Clarice defended as calmly as, under the circumstances, she was able.
"That isn't necessary, Sir. Believe me, he wouldn't! I mean he didn't! I know he didn't."
At this point, Pearsall was so disgruntled to have to be dealing with this situation he didn't even bother to make eye contact with her. He was attending to a series of text messages, blatantly ignoring her plaintive protests.
"Agent Starling by your own account you were medicated heavily and not conscious for the majority of this experience. Is that a fair account of your statement thus far?"
This isn't happening...oh, god this cannot happen. No matter how much I object he's sure as hell not gonna listen. How do I stop this without raising suspicion?
"Yes, Sir, but..."
Continually attending his cell phone, Pearsall showed absolutely no concern for what Clarice might or not have been going through. He was obviously preoccupied by Hannibal's escape and having to deal with Clarice's possible participation was seen by the man as nothing short of a major inconvenience. He believed with his years of experience he should be in the field looking for Lecter, not playing wet nurse to a disgraced agent with a schoolgirl crush on a madman.
Obviously exasperated, he interrupted, "And is the evening gown you are currently wearing the ensemble you wore to the Verger Estate? Expecting dinner perhaps?"
Clarice was incensed at the Deputy Director's sarcastic suggestion.
You condescending sonofabitch who the hell do you think you are?
Holding her tongue as best she could though not being particularly successful, all she could manage to filter through her gritted teeth was, "Don't be ridiculous. That suggestion is so ignorant it's practically obscene."
Still staring at his cell phone, Pearsall continued his salacious line of questioning.
"Obscene? You're kidding me right, Starling? No more obscene than the fact that you're unconcerned about being naked in front of a serial killer. If you didn't wear that ridiculous outfit to work, then it's obvious the crazy bastard stripped you and dressed you up like Prostitute Barbie for what? His own amusement? You think you might want to determine how he amused himself with you while you were sleeping. You think you'd want to know. Hell, if the nut job raped you, you might want to take a morning after pill. You wouldn't want to wake up in nine months having to shit out the maroon-eyed-eleven-fingered-freak-of-nature-bastard child of Hannibal the Cannibal, would you? If he didn't want o have sex with you, why would he remove all your clothing?"
Shit out a child? And he thinks Lecter is a freak of nature? Could this man be a bigger asshole if he tried?
Doing her level best to remove all emotion from her tone, even though she wanted nothing more than to stab the man in his heart, Clarice spoke her belief as dispassionately as possible.
"He removed my clothing in order to perform the surgery necessary to save my life, Sir."
The 'Sir' sounded more like a big 'fuck you', but Pearsall was too wrapped up in his own self-aggrandisement to notice.
Taking his eyes off his phone just long enough to be obnoxious, Pearsall's gaze began at her eyes and skimmed over her form, resting long enough at her breasts to cause Clarice to shudder as she struggled to repress her anger. She shifted uncomfortably on the examination table as he looked her up and down, his eyes and his voice electrified with insinuation and innuendo as he spoke.
"It is obvious by the cut of that dress that he removed at least some of your undergarments and that he had access to your person while you were incapable of resisting and unaware of your surroundings. With that in mind it would be prudent to process a rape kit."
Yeah, not happening, Big Guy!
Clarice stuck to her guns, not budging an inch as she pressed her point.
"I was asked to, and allowed the physicians to examine the site where Doctor Lecter performed the surgery. It is my right to withhold my permission for any additional examinations. I am informing you now, that that is my intention. I categorically refuse to submit to any gynecological examinations, nor will I allow a rape kit to be processed as I was not raped."
Ardelia entered the room and immediately took her place by Clarice's side. With Pearsall within earshot, she didn't dare speak her mind.
Suddenly Pearsall's cell phone began to hum. He checked the caller i.d., grumbled when he saw the name, now forced to withdraw from the examination room in order to take the call that was obviously of import and probably regarding Clarice.
Ardelia nudged her friend's shoulder with her own, leaning against her to add physical, as well as emotional support.
"Hey girl, are you okay?"
Absolutely panicked, Clarice didn't feel the need to hide the circumstances from Ardelia.
"No, Dee, I'm mortified. They want to take a rape kit."
Not yet picking up on why that might be a problem for Clarice, Ardelia supported the concept of further testing.
"So? That sounds like a really practical idea. I mean...it would be better to know than not."
The quizzical look confirmed that Clarice had no idea to what Ardelia was referring.
"Better to know what?"
Her voice almost reverent in an attempt to soothe her friend, barely lifting above a whisper, Ardelia explained, "To find out whether or not he took… liberties."
Irritated that Ardelia, didn't seem to understand her concerns when, as her best friend, she definitely should have Clarice asserted sarcastically, "What he took was a bullet out of my body, Dee."
Absolutely unconvinced and utterly clueless, Ardelia returned, "C'mon Clarice you give him too much credit. I know you have this weird connection to the man, not that I'll ever be able to understand it, but what's really behind all this stubborn certainty?"
Clarice shifted uncomfortably on the examination table. She was anxious and uneasy, her physical discomfort matching her emotional unease. Her legs were dangling as she wasn't quite tall enough for her feet to reach the step-stool provided. Not with bare feet anyway; she had removed the shoes Hannibal purchased. Tucking her hands under her thighs, she pulled her legs together as best she could.
How can I make her understand without this sounding ridiculous? Hell, it is ridiculous. I was naked in front of the man and still I'm convinced he acted appropriately. That takes faith to a whole new level. I must be as crazy as he is.
"It may sound unbelievable, but he would consider that rude and common and Dr. Lecter is neither. Leave his feelings for me aside. He has too much respect for himself for that."
Leave his feelings for me aside? Why the hell did I say that? She'll never miss that...Shit!
Ardelia raised a hand, signaling to Clarice that she would check on Pearsall. She left her friend's side and poked her head just outside the doorway. Seeing Pearsall turned from the room Ardelia began to pace in the doorway, making sure the Deputy Director couldn't overhear the conversation.
Ardelia spoke softly, consistently checking the hall to warn of his inevitable return.
"For someone who was unconscious for most of it, you seem uncommonly certain."
Playing nervously with the hem of the elegant dress, Clarice asserted, "I am certain."
Ardelia, moving very slowly so as not to risk detection, closed the door to the examination room even as she urged Clarice to reconsider.
"Why are you so against this? If there was no sexual misconduct, no harm, no foul. It's not as if Lecter will ever find out, and what the hell did you mean by, 'leave his feelings for you aside?' What feelings?"
Crap! I knew she'd pick up on that. What the hell's wrong with me? The morphine must have melted my freaking brain!
"It isn't about Lecter. It's about me. I wasn't raped, Dee. You know I'd know."
Ardelia stood at the foot of the examination table, her eyes shifting, focusing on nothing in particular as she processed Clarice's last statement. Suddenly, as if a shade lifted and the room was flooded with light, Ardelia had a revelatory moment. She rushed to her friend's side and placed an apologetic hand on Clarice's shoulder.
"Ohhh, I get it! Sorry Clarice, sometimes I'm not too quick on the uptake. Shit, I didn't even think of that!"
Burying her face in her hands she worried, "Now you know why I don't want an exam, Dee. Can you freaking blame me?"
Rubbing her friend's back though she knew it was poor comfort, Ardelia consoled, "What are you so freaked out about? It isn't as if you are the only virgin in the free world."
Crossing her arms, not in defiance but more in a gesture of modesty Clarice asserted, "It's Washington, Dee. Eliminating school aged kids, I very well might be so I'd prefer this not get out. I mean it's no one's business and I just don't want them to have any more ammo to aim in my direction."
Ardelia felt the need to play devil's advocate.
"Don't get pissed at me or anything, but I've got to ask...Who are you trying to protect, yourself or him?"
The hospital was loud and smelled like a mixture of industrial cleaner and the unpalatable and as such uneaten trays of Salisbury steak being collected in the hallway. Her senses were overwhelmed causing her to shake head as if the action might clear her mind.
Unable to focus clearly, Clarice muttered, "I don't know anymore…I only know that he wouldn't rape me."
"Clarice, he murders people then he cooks and eats their body parts. Why do you believe that rape is far beneath his standards?"
Slapping her palms in frustration on the paper lining on which she was seated, Clarice's voice was edged with anger.
"You probably won't believe this and it may seem to be a contradiction but he is one of the most principled people I have ever met. He just doesn't feel bound by our societal norms. Based on the moral code he has constructed I am absolutely certain he would never hurt me and I'm even more certain he wouldn't rape me."
Ardelia wasn't convinced. She smoothed the fabric of the dress spilling across the examination table in order to draw Clarice's attention to it.
"I don't know, Clarice. The shoes, the dress…he dressed you up as if he were taking you on a date. Maybe you were just asleep for that part. Why else would he put you in this type of clothing? It's really...sexy."
He said he loved the dress...he said it was beautiful...
"I assume this is Dr. Lecter's idea of appropriate dinner wear."
"Well, it's obvious he has great taste and it's even more obvious that he is attracted to you."
Clarice turned to her friend. She wanted to share her thoughts, but only her friend could hear this.
She whispered,"Ardelia…It's more than that…I think he's in love with me."
Incredulous, Ardelia challenged, "What? What did he say to you?"
Turning away, Clarice spoke in hushed tones, her voice trailed off as she explained.
"It's not what he said…it's what he did...He...he..."
She couldn't make herself say it. Not in this dress, in this place with that sonofabitch Pearsall on the other side of the door.
Knowing that Clarice was not a timid person, her friend's inability to explain what had happened to her panicked Ardelia.
"Jesus, Clarice! What the hell did that bastard do to you?"
Clarice laced her fingers and braced them around her neck. She curled up, leaning forward and rocking herself.
"I can't talk about this here. I've got to get some distance—this can't be overheard…by anyone."
"Alright I'll get you some scrubs. You can't waltz out of her in that cocktail dress; you'll stick out like a sore thumb. We can put our heads together and figure this out at home."
Clarice and Ardelia arrive at their duplex while Pearsall was still pacing around the hospital on his cell phone arguing with senior members of the Justice Department as of yet unaware of the pair's departure. When he finally entered the examination room with a doctor to insist on the rape kit, he realized, much to his rage, that Clarice had indeed left the building.
Until the next chapter, my friends!