A/N: Dear readers: Please check my profile for a poll (right above the PM button) on Clarice and Hannibal's next path taken! Your choice will influence an upcoming chapter!
Clarice's eyes widened in bewilderment, she looked down and realized her body composition over another's. Her FBI training sparked to life as she rolled to the side and jumped off the bed, landed on her feet and struck the bathroom door with her back. Hannibal remained still, watched her graceful and slender body movements and press against the secured door; her chest rose and fell with short bursts of air.
Clarice's hand instinctively reached for a holstered weapon while her cop eyes inspected the scene before them. Hannibal observed as she took in his position; over the blankets except the small edge of what she placed over him when she had straddled him; a scene he would play over again later, his palms were facing away in surrender an act showing he was unarmed or under surrender, but she knew he would be neither and had other weapons up his proverbial sleeve. His eyes were dark and vigilant for her next move.
A pained expression flashed across her face, the affliction of her fractured ribs, the sickness her head contusion along with the hang over; all catching up at once after her jostled movement.
"Clarice..." Hannibal spoke with apathy.
She gripped her head and raised one hand. "I... what happ-" a throb of pain halted her from speaking, by now she figured best say what needed to be said and question everything else later, "Water" she croaked out "I need water and-" Clarice didn't hear Hannibal rise from the bed and grab a bottled water and aspirin until he stood in front of her with the offerings. Her eyes glanced over the items but she did not take them.
"Clarice." His voice teetering on a threatening level.
She grabbed the water, breaking the seal as she opened it, then washed down the chalk white pills. As she did Hannibal reached over and picked up her duffle bag. Clarice emptied the bottle of water when Hannibal reached past to open the bathroom door. He silently took the plastic bottle when she finished and handed her the bag. He could read the questions on her face, maybe even abashment and disdain in herself for her own actions. Hannibal longed to help rid her of those thoughts but talking now would solve nothing and knew she would need to eat something soon.
"I'll will return shortly with adequate food. Get dressed. Don't leave. Don't answer the door." Hannibal's words were short and firm, almost on the verge of making her feel like a child being unattended for for a short while. He turned and left with the car keys in hand and his jacket pulled from the chair.
Clarice watched as he exited the motel room, listened as the car started then pulled out away from the building. She felt slightly numb as she stepped into the bathroom, locked the door behind her and dropped the bag to the ground before sitting down on the closed lid of the toilet. Her head ached something fierce and the pills wouldn't kick in anytime soon. She leaned forward with her head in her hands as the dream replayed over a few times, she even tried to recall the night before and whatever she thought took place sent waves contrition through her.
Clarice's mind tried to pinpoint the source of her remorse without her permission. It wasn't for the FBI, she hadn't been working for several months and even if she had gone back it would not be the same- images flashed in her mind; Co-workers afraid to work with her or maybe even scared to make enemies with her, because of him, scared they might end up like Paul. No, the FBI let her down when Noonan took her gun and badge on the whim of falsified evidence from Krendler. They would not listen to her, when would they ever?
Crawford wasn't the source of her guilt, he hadn't been there much for her. The suspected 'Protege of Crawford' the one to take Will's place, a position she could never, will never, fill.
Ardiela, her best friend... Whatever deity existed, if one did exist, had it out for her in the worse way possible and the last thing Clarice wanted was to get Ardelia caught up into it.
Maybe her penitence was for herself; the feeling of having a guilty pleasure of something taboo? 'You tried playing a dangerous game- his game... and now it's too late to stop.' The pulsating feeling that grew quelled Clarice's thoughts.
She let several minutes creep by and waited for the throbbing to subside. 15 minutes must have passed when the pills started to kick in and gave her a chance to stand face to face with herself in the mirror.
Clarice still looked like a train wreck, she thought back to the lady at the diner and the motel manager, no one had bothered asking what happened to her. Where they afraid to? Afraid to hear some lame answer to their thoughts of her beaten by a significant other? She began to feel foolish thinking the eel-like hotel manager may have wanted her; like so many coworkers and bosses with their lewd comments or attempts, but now he may have only been concerned for her.
Hot tears prickled her eyes as her actions last night skittered across her mind- No, she refused to feel guilty about how she looked to him; Hannibal. He wasn't superficial, these nicks and cuts were most likely invisible to him. What mattered to him were- she gripped the sides of the sink, 'Clarice get a fucking hold of yourself,' she blinked back the tears. 'Stop thinking, what matters to him doesn't matter to me at all. And what matters to me is getting answers from him.'
'He's not going to make this easy'
'I know and I don't care, look what I've been through. Was any of it easy?'
'Of course not. So who's fault is that?'
For god sake she needed a distraction and fast. Clarice grabbed the bag and rummaged through it to pull out a set of clean clothes. For a moment she deliberated whether or not to shower. The last thing she needed was putting herself into a situation with Hannibal to re-wrap her chest but at this moment a cold shower sounded like heaven and outweighed all the cons. Clarice had pulled a towel out the duffle bag when she noticed the makeup bag at the bottom. A quick zip open revealed natural shaded makeup from foundation to eyeliner. 'That sonofa- he really thinks of everything.' she bit her lip to keep from smiling.
Clarice carefully loosened the ace wrap, slipped out of the underwear and turned the water on which had come out in spurts, her first fear was that it would be brown as the sink water, once it became a steady stream she held a glass cup under the flow and found it suitably clear. With the dial turned to just below lukewarm Clarice stepped over the tub edge and under the water, the coldness sent a shock to her system that caused her to breathe quick shallow gasps, a moment is all it took her to steady her breathing and help reduce the pain in her chest. Oh how she longed to breathe normally again without incurring the wrath of her fractured ribs. The chill of the water helped inhibit the inflammation and numb her body to most of the physical pain.
Clarice felt blissfully unaware of anything outside of the shower curtain.
Hannibal heard the shower soon after the front door creaked open, he carried in one hand two white bags with styrofoam containers of restaurant food, passing up fast food for something with taste and nutrients. In a the other hand a map for him to memorize unfamiliar streets for their destination. Assuming Clarice was still accompanying him on the run with no doubt she will want answers and he will supply them in calculated dosages.
He set the food on top of the dresser before spreading the map open upon the disarranged bed covers. Locating their location took no time and soon he was tracing their route, time and mileage, petrol stations and alternatives roads if there were detours. Then he heard the shower cut off.
Clarice turned the metal handle and the water died down. She stood silent for a moment listening for anything beyond the door. Foot steps and possibly rustle of a plastic bag? She couldn't answer that question but only the important one; was Hannibal back? Clarice stepped out of the tub to quickly, and as painless as she could, dry off her hair then her body. With half her body donned with fresh clothing she frowned the door still locked in a battle with herself about him and her current state.
'Why can't I just live a simple life?' The cogs in her mind began to spin, several thoughts fighting over one another for her mind tract.
'Effortless lives for feeble people.' Her heart skipped at the silent thought that had called from the back.
'I want to be normal, simple.' She prevented her head from turning towards the mirror; seeing herself weak and damaged would not help. 'But... I can't be, can I? Normal people are compliant, powerless and tolerant to...'
'Not you.' The thought whispered bringing memories of fights and scoldings. 'But he-'
'He must see that. Sees something the others...' Clarice tightly closed her eyes. 'Don't don't don't don't.' She couldn't think of it, wouldn't admit to it, she can't let those feelings grow. A weed of a feeling. Something to be stomped out.
Clarice recalled a field behind the orphanage filled with dandelions. The matron always seemed to be yelling at the greenskeeper to destroy them whenever they popped up but, before he got around to it, the girls would rub the yellow heads on the back of their friends hands; proclaiming their friendships. One girl who hung around with Clarice told her that the dandelions were wish makers and that Ms. Mildred hated little girls making wishes. Clarice wondered why anyone would want to kill wishes of little girls and thinking back on it now Ms Mildred could've been allergic to them. A weed is a weed, right?
Clarice sighed, she wasn't doing a good job fighting with herself and it got her nowhere. She needed to grow up, stop acting like a child who is afraid to turn out the light. She couldn't wrap her torso alone and as much as she hated asking for it she needed his assistance.
"Clarice." The voice violently pulled her from her rumination.
"Y-yes." She stuttered then berated herself for it. There was a stretch of silence.
"The food is growing cold."
"Ok. I'll be out in a moment." Her tone felt a renewed sense of strength.
She finalized her emotions; she was an adult, he was an adult and it only felt weird if she made it weird. Clarice wrapped the towel around her torso, grabbed the rolled up bandage and with reestablished confidence stepped out into the room.
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