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Of all the days to go running, she had to pick today. Less than half an hour into her run, rain began pouring down, and he car was parked a ways away. Clarice grimaced and pushed herself harder. The faster she got out of the rain, the faster she could get home and dry off. Unbeknownst to Clarice, a surprise was waiting for for her in her car.
Completely unaware of the sudden storm or of Clarice's return, Hannibal Lecter sat asleep in the passenger seat of her car. After a very stressful plane ride and very little sleep, the good doctor was dead tired. His fatigue hit him even harder when he took a seat in Clarice's car. Her scent overloaded his senses and immediately relaxed him. It was like a drug, and his eyelids turned to lead. He knew that Clarice would run for a while. Closing his eyes for ten minutes wouldn't do any harm.
By the time Clarice made it back to her Mustang, the rain had stopped. She glared up at the sky, cursing her bad luck, before unlocking the backdoor to grab her towel. It was gone. Clarice looked in the front seat and immediately froze at the sight of the sleeping cannibal currently using her folded towel as a pillow. She had to admit, he was kind of cute. He even managed to make a tank top and shorts look regal. Part of her hated having to wake him but only part of her.
With an evil smile, Clarice silently went to the passenger side door. After quietly unlocking it, she yanked it open. Hannibal's reflexes were better than she expected, and he grabbed the seat belt in one hand the minute his head dropped while her towel was caught in the other.
Hannibal blinked for a second, slightly confused. "Clarice? What happened? Where am I?"
"I should be asking you that. You're in my car."
Then it all came back to him, and Hannibal nearly blushed and got out to stand beside her."'I'm sorry for the intrusion. I had to fly coach to avoid suspicion. Remind me to never do it again."
She smiled at the pained look on his face from the memory. She knew how he hated confined spaces, and the crowded cabin must have been hell to his senses."That sounds horrible."
"It was. I then got very little sleep due to my body's reaction to the time change. Your car proved to be an excellent location for me to rest my eyes for a bit. I must say, I didn't expect you to be back this early."
"I wasn't going to until it started raining, but it's stopped now. That still doesn't explain why you're here."
He sighed."Truthfully, I came to check on you. I have no doubt that Mason Verger is angry that he didn't capture me in Florence. I could easily go into hiding again, but I know he would use anything or anyone to draw me out again."
Clarice knew exactly what her meant."Me."
Hannibal nodded solemnly and rubbed his eyes."Yes, but I don't plan on hiding forever. When the time is right, I plan on facing Mason once and for all."
Her eyes widened."You can't do that! He'll kill you."
"He wouldn't kill me, Clarice. Mason probably wants to torture me until I look like him or worse."
"And that sounds better?"
He chuckled."No, but it gives me the opportunity to find a way to get to him. If I know Mason well enough, he'll want to watch as I'm being tortured, and he needs a secluded place to do it."
"Most killers stay close to home when they kill, and his own home is perfect. Lots of land and nobody's around for miles to hear the noise. There's even more than enough places to hide the body,"she said calmly, leaning against her car.
Hannibal was silent for a more and simply stared at her."You've been studying me too long. You're beginning to sound like me."
She laughed at his comment."I learned that in Serial Killer 101 at the academy. You were the advanced course."
"A course very few were able to take."He stretched arms for a moment, and a loud pop echoed."Mm. We know Mason's plan. Now all that's left for me to do is strike Mason when he least expects it.
"Wait. You're going after going after him yourself?"
"Why? If he comes after you in the states, he'll be convicted easily. There's ways for us to be safe without killing Mason."
The doctor chuckled. Same old Clarice. Always trying to save the lambs."Our situation is not a pretty one, Clarice. The FBI would not care if we were both found dead. In fact, they would probably be relieved to be rid of one of their most wanted criminals and their most hated agent."
"That's not-"She stopped herself then. She had wanted to say that it wasn't true, but it was. She might have been able to get protection, but Hannibal was on his own. There was no way he would willingly walk back into a cage. Then there was the fact that they had to believe her first, and it wasn't as if they trusted her judgment at the moment.
He waited for her to finish, but when nothing came, he continued."Clarice. Even if you did turn Mason in, he has enough money to bribe his way out any sentence. The minute was he freed, he would resume hunting both of us. He will not stop until he is dead or we are."
Clarice remained silent. She knew that Hannibal had probably looked at his from every angle. Even the bureau knew that Mason had enough money to rent a U.S. Senator if he wanted. Getting off on those charges would be child's play. Hannibal knew that she was no fool. She knew what the stakes were and what Mason was capable of, but the part of her that wanted honor he dead father's memory was telling her to find a way to save everyone.
"I know,"she said finally."When do we go in?"
He looked at her, shocked."We?"
She smiled slightly."You don't think I'm going to let you go alone, do you?"
He was stunned for a moment but soon began to smile himself."I had the feeling you were going to say that, and I know there's not a thing I can say to change your mind."
"Mason has hired Sardinians to do his dirty work, you know. I killed one in Florence, but there are more. They will be a problem."
"All the more reason for me to go with you and watch your back."
"Fair enough. I have no doubt that he has also upgraded his security since my last visit."
"He has. Guards are posted at the gate round the clock."
Hannibal took a moment to mull over that piece of information. Mason was psychotic but he wasn't stupid. Getting to him was not impossible, but it wasn't going to be easy. Tedious, very tedious.
"I'll have to figure out something soon. In the mean time, take care of yourself. There's a very good chance that Mason already has someone watching you."
"I know, and I will. You just better do the same."She hugged him then and buried her face in his shoulder."When will things be normal, Hannibal?"
"Come now, Clarice. Look at us. Our lives will never be normal,"He said, earning a small laugh from her."but I promise you I will be careful."
She pulled away enough to look into his eyes. She then leaned forward until her lips were just above his own. For a moment, Hannibal thought that she was going to kiss him, but when he leaned in, she pulled away.
"Not today. You made me wait, so I make you wait. When this is all over, you'll get your kiss."
Clarice heard him let out a small whimper before letting him go. She got into her car, and Hannibal bent over to stick his head in the window."You are a very cruel woman, Clarice."
"I'm just giving you motivation to get this over with and come back to me in one piece."
"Believe me, Clarice. Knowing that you are in danger is motivation enough."
She smiled at him, and he took a step away from the car. Hannibal watched her drive away until she was out of sight before going to his own car.