The handle clicked as the catch slid open and Hannibal's eyes flashed in the darkened room as her scent reached him, her light footfall tapping out a rhythm on the steps which led her into the darkened room.
He did not move, but waited, sure she would reach over and flick the switch to turn on the light. Considering her most recent dealings with darkness, she seemed especially afraid of it now. He noticed her shoulders tensing as the fear permeated her senses, could see the memories flashing before her eyes as if he were watching them directly. She darted over to the light switch and flicked it, releasing a breath simultaneously as the light flooded the familiar area.
He was surprised when she did not turn around to check her corners, but instead headed straight to the laundry basket and begun sorting and placing her clothing into the machine. He watched, utterly enthralled at seeing her involved in such a simple task.
"Oh god…" He heard her whisper to herself as she closed the lid and rested her forehead on the cool metal surface. "Clarice, what are you doing?"
Well now, that really was interesting. He suddenly found himself profoundly wishing he could remain an invisible observer to her inner thoughts, alas he could tell from the set of her shoulders that her turning and discovering him watching her was imminent. As much as she was trying to deny her instinct to give in to her fear and check the room, he could see her will was crumbling. He decided he would be the one to deliver such a surprise.
He walked up behind her, knowing that his footfall was silent but that she could sense him, her hands clutched into fists suddenly, her knuckles nearly as white as the surface she'd rested them upon. He stopped immediately behind her, enjoying the way her hair shone in a multitude of warm colours under this light. He breathed in deeply and held her scent upon his tongue, savouring it.
She hadn't stepped away and her fists had unclenched, the colour returning to them now that they lay flat upon on top of the machine. Her heart rate had quickened, but she was careful to keep her breaths measured and he allowed himself a small smile at the notion that still, she was trying to hide from him.
Half a step closer and his chest brushed against her shoulders, a breath suddenly left her in a strangled gasp and he could feel the heat coming from her, could smell her skin cream, perfume and arousal. The sharp increase in that last particular scent was what prompted the raising of his hands from where they'd lain dormant at his sides.
He reached forward with his hands, his shoulder coming into contact with the back of her head now as his fingers skimmed along hers. Her eyes were following his movement as his large, naturally tanned hands, colouring in such contrast to her own, gently brushed their way over her knuckles and up to her wrists.
Her skin was warm and her breaths came quicker now, he could see her chest moving rapidly beneath the charcoal t-shirt she was wearing. Still, he continued with his hands, moving up her arms whilst his head dipped forward toward her neck, his nose brushing against the shell of her ear so softly as he breathed in. Her head inclined just a fraction to allow him closer as her eyelids fluttered as the sensation.
His fingers dipped into the valley created at the crook of her arm before brushing around to her elbows and continuing up over her biceps and shoulders. He stroked the line of cotton which wrapped around her arm, his fingers briefly dipped beneath before encompassing her shoulders fully in their warm heat.
Spurred on by her slight acceptance in the form of moving her head to allow him better access, no matter how unintentional, he dipped his head lower to brush his mouth against the small patch of skin visible to him through her hair. As his lips met her skin, she let out the softest sound, one so small that if it were any man but him they wouldn't have heard it. But hear it he most certainly did and an answering growl rumbled from his chest as his grip on her tightened, his hands then descended to trace down past her clavicle and shoulders and over her ribcage.
His maroon eyes watched as her fingers curled against the washing machine, as though she was fighting to stop herself from reaching up to touch him and he smiled into her neck as he kissed the shell of her ear with an aching tenderness.
He continued to watch every reaction she had to his touch as his hands slid further down, dipping into her waist before his fingertips slid over her hips… and paused.
"Clarice" he whispered into her hair, his lips caressing the strands of copper.
"You… shouldn't be here Dr Lecter." She breathed, seemingly trying to gather herself. "This is the first place they'll look once they watch the tape from opposite your cell."
"Clever girl, Clarice… I wondered if you'd remember." A brush of lips at her ear "So what will my little warrior do, when the FBI realise she's been a very naughty agent, hmm?"
"I'll accept the consequences, whatever they may be." She was struggling to keep her voice level as his fingers traced patterns across the bare skin visible just above her belt loop.
"Whose consequences, Clarice. Those of the FBI, those of your own making… or mine?" The last part was growled low into her ear and he knew had the desired effect as she swayed momentarily, nearly falling back into him, but not quite. The suspense was thrilling, for the both of them he expected. Neither could predict the other, what they might do, who would succumb to who.
"You won't hurt me, Dr Lecter." A flash of irritation sliced through him at the surety of her words, the finality of them. He knew it to be true, but that didn't mean he didn't loathe to be predictable.
"You are so sure, Agent Starling?" He watched the gooseflesh breakout over her arms at the metallic note in his voice he'd deliberately reinserted. Good. She was still afraid of him, of what he had done and could do, but never to her.
"Yes, I am." She said simply and the irritation melted away as she leaned backwards, her back coming into contact fully with his chest and the lengths of their bodies pressed together. She had submitted to him and his arms enfolded her immediately, one hand rested upon her abdomen whilst the other raised to lay upon her sternum, his large hand bringing his thumb and forefinger to rest against her collarbone.
"Clarice…" He murmured again, holding her to him and enjoying the feeling of her pressed against him.
"Have you noticed you call me Agent Starling when you're angry at me, but Clarice when you aren't?" His smirk widened at the rising note of panic in her voice, his little starling was fighting with herself now he had allowed her blood to cool enough for her to realise the seriousness of her situation.
"Mm, and you have only ever referred to me as Dr Lecter."
She said nothing, merely relaxed into him and took a deep, trembling breath.
"Are you still fighting with yourself, Clarice?" He teased and she shot him an irritated look from beneath her lashes, which somehow succeeded in making her even more delicious to him.
"I don't have a choice, Dr Lecter." The resignation in her tone struck him and for the first time in many years he felt as though a spear of ice had shot through him. Ordinarily, he would have no compunction about using manipulation to get what he wanted, but not Clarice. Clarice was to come to him willingly, not because she'd decided she had no other option.
"You know…" He began, taking one final moment to enjoy the feeling of her in his arms before he continued. "The reason it took your esteemed colleagues so long to actually locate the surveillance tapes, is because I had them edited."
She held herself completely still in his grasp, still not having touched him back yet, something of which he was all too aware as her arms hung limply at her side.
"You didn't think I'd let them demean you, tarnish your reputation further because you were there on the very day of my escape, did you Clarice?" He could feel her heart rate increasing again, the options stretching out before her in her mind's eye, he was sure. "No, I had an old friend make sure you weren't… identifiable. Your life is yours to return to if you wish to do so."
He was giving her a choice, damn him. Ensuring she was fully aware of her actions and could blame no one else. Her thoughts were running at a million miles an hour and here, in the safe cocoon of his arms all she could do was think about how right it felt, how his touch calmed her in a way no other had. How it felt like coming home. Not to mention the sparks he ignited across her entire body with even the most chaste of touches.
"Hmm, take your time Clarice. I'm quite content to wait." He rumbled into her hair as he nuzzled further into the warmth and softness of her skin.