"Dr. Lecter, I'm Clarice Starling" she said from the doorway of Hannibal's office as her tiny knock called out as he and Will both looked towards the angelic voice. She stood with auburn hair and big blue eyes, those that Hannibal himself found attractive, and dressed in slacks and a cream colored top that flowed around her body. She held a suit jacket in hand, since outside was no doubtfully hot from the spring rains making the air even humid for Hannibal.
"You must be Will Graham" she said giving Will a smile. Will blinked a couple of times before realizing who this girl was and quickly adjusted his own jacket before coming over to her and offering a handshake. Will felt his skin vibrate with her approach, feeling almost relieved that Starling had come to help. Will had been over this case for weeks, looking at the crime scene, trying to figure out the mind of this killer, but every time he closed his eyes he just saw the image of himself, nothing else, no design, no fragment of what could have happened or what was thought of, just himself standing in the dark alone.
"Agent Starling" Will said shaking her soft hand "Jack Crawford said you might be able to help us on this case."
"Well I'm not an agent yet" Clarice said giving him another smile with her full lips "I'm still a student at the academy. But yes, I think I can help."
"Starling this is Dr. Lecter" Will said as Hannibal moved towards her, his face seeming composed but his breathing seemed strained as he approached her.
"Sorry for intruding on your office doctor" Clarice said taking Hannibal's hand in hers. Clarice was surprised at how gently he touched her as she looked up at him quickly, his eyes staring into hers.
"It is my pleasure that you could come here" Hannibal said as he gently took her hand to his mouth. She smelt divine, a perfume skimming the soft niche of her skin that Hannibal no doubt could recognize if he only took the time to smell her once more. It was a strange odor, but heavenly none the less. Hannibal felt time slow as he held Clarice's hand in his, the few seconds between them savored by him at least, while Clarice simply looked at him with curious eyes, like those of a lamb.
Clarice seemed taken aback by how gentleman-like Hannibal acted towards her, but she had to focus on this case now and quickly turned from him as she walked towards the desk with all the pictures spread out for her to glance over.
"What have you figured out so far?" Clarice said holding up a picture of a little girl no older than ten.
"Well we know two girls have gone missing, with both family members killed and mutilated in the same stance" Will said coming over to her as she looked at the gruesome murder that showed before her. Clarice saw the three bodies, one man, one woman, and one teenage boy, sitting on the family couch, their eyes ripped out from their heads as their mouths were twisted in clown like smiles. She felt herself flinch a bit but then calmly look over the photo once more. Their hands had been twisted and tied together, as if they were just lounging while watching TV. The killer had even taken time to have the boy's phone placed in his hands.
"The perfect family" Clarice muttered.
"Exactly" Will said "He's putting on a show. Making their world into his."
"And I bet you anything" Clarice said closing her eyes as the photo left her hand "He made the little girl watch."
"We think so, yes" Hannibal said getting closer to her, careful not to make her aware that he was watching her every move. He had noticed she balance on one foot, and then another, as if she couldn't keep still but knew she had to. He had also noticed the slight shudder when she had seen the little girl's photo, which told him something had happened to her at that age. Something dark.
"There was a chair set up" Will said finding the picture and handing it to Clarice "It had powder marks and the girls fingerprints were found on one of the railings. I've tried looking at where he is coming from, but it's not working this time."
"What about the other girl?" Clarice said looking at Will. She could feel Hannibal move behind her, but she paid no mind. He was supposed to be this brilliant psychiatrist, one of the best in the city, and she had heard about his affinity with Will Graham, the man that could think like a killer.
"Same pose, but the girl was slightly younger" Will said handing her another photograph.
Clarice looked at the first girl, and then the second. The first girl was blonde, Jessica Hink, with big brown eyes and a smile filled with braces, her skin tanned no doubt by hours playing in the sun. The second girl had short jet black hair, pale, with green eyes, her face small and her eyes almond shaped. Clarice felt the pattern, but still wasn't sure if it was really him.
"We won't know anything for sure until he takes a third girl" Clarice said looking at both girls carefully while Will simply just stared at her.
"There is going to be a third?" Will said in disbelief. Hannibal was also surprised at Clarice's certainty, his eyes watching hers focus clearly on what was in front of her.
"And a fourth" she said "But we will only know that if he takes his third."
"Are you sure?" Hannibal said very interested on how Ms. Starling knew so much.
"If it is who I think it is" Clarice said putting down the photos and closing her eyes, her body straining to keep itself together in this moment. "He'll be after a red head, long curly hair, about the age of six with hazel eyes and light freckles. "
"And what kind of person are we looking for?" Will said knowing the storm was about to break loose. Hannibal moved closer to Clarice, disguising himself looking at the photos as he stole glances at Clarice.
"This man is in his mid thirties, white, and will have mousy brown hair" Clarice said keeping her eyes closed as she saw him in her mind "He's about 6'2, large, muscular, probably goes to the gym every now and then, and he's good with fishing wire. If he goes for a red headed girl, then it's him."
"Why a red head?" Will said shaking his head as he looked back at the photos.
"Because it's his pattern" Clarice said moving away from the desk finally as she collected her jacket towards the door "He wants variety, and he'll be scoping out for his exact victim. He'll take days, maybe even weeks if we are lucky, to pick out his victim."
"Is there any way we can stop it" Will said flabbergasted at how cooly Clarice was talking about another little girl getting abducted.
"No" Clarice said "He'll get her. But we might be able to save her family."
Hannibal watched as Clarice went from soft, composed, and happy to stone cold, fierce, and determined. It reminded him of his late sister almost, the way she used to get about certain things that bothered her immensely. This woman, who had drifted into his office like a bird's feather, had suddenly metamorphosis into this eagle, ready to take down her prey at all costs. It reminded him of the old Greek myths of the the Furies, woman with wings that would punish the sinners and evil doers of the land and underworld.
He would very much like to have her for dinner, this Furie of his.
Nothing eloquent, just a meal to show her how he appreciated her tenaciousness.
"I know Jack Crawford said you could help" Will said shaking his head at how unclear he had been looking at things "But I need to ask you how you know all of this."
"Because" Clarice said clearly as her hands fingered through her auburn hair gently as she walked slowly out the doorway "I was the fourth girl last time."