Clarice Starling hadn't seen him in six years. She wondered vaguely if he would recognize her; ever since her graduation and Jack Crawford's retirement, everything had changed.
She remembered a time where peers and mentors had called her "Sterling". It used to infuriate her, even disappoint her how invisible she was- no matter how hard she worked she had still corrected those who couldn't be bothered to learn her name. Those days were gone. Her confidence had grown as well as her knowledge- as so had her renown.
She was a major player in the FBI hunting serial killers on the East Coast. She felt very settled in Virginia, and even bought an apartment close to the academy. They sometimes asked her speak about Buffalo Bill, even occasionally asking her to speak about Doctor Hannibal Lecter. She often obliged the former, but never the latter. Speaking about Hannibal Lecter to a group of trainees almost felt like sacrilege, an unspoken fear of hers was the idea it would somehow get back to Lecter and he would be offended by it.
She hadn't heard a peep about him, that was, until some hot-shot in Australia captured him and all the newspapers went wild. No one seemed to have any details though, no explanations were offered, this vexed tabloids and major newspapers terribly. Clarice suspected- like them- there was a sinister, twisted story to be told.
She fought like hell to make arrangements to pick him up. It had taken over ten hours on the phone, but they finally gave her clearance to assist in his departure.
Her plane ticket was clutched tightly in her hand, she had this irrational fear that it would slip through her fingers and she'd lose it- like the world had lost him.
"Flight 31-A. Now boarding." Rang the speaker overhead. She had priority seating, right after those with disabilities. She took a deep breath before getting on the plane.
It was a really long flight, but she couldn't rest. Instead, she listened to tapes on her player just heard his voice, her gut twisting as he delivered insights, insults, and toyed with her emotions. The day slipped by as she ran through preparing herself mentally for whatever assault he might make on her psyche. She exchanged multiple conversations they might had when they met again….if he was kind, if he was cruel, if he lavished attention or requested information, what she would say if he ignored her. It was a bit sick, really. She recognized it as nervous obsession, but when dealing with Hannibal Lecter not being prepared could be fatal.
She didn't realize she had fell asleep until a flight attendant roused her. A woman with tired eyes was lightly touching her shoulder.
"We'll be landing shortly. Please buckle your seatbelt." She said when Clarice removed her headset.
Clarice had skipped most the meals on the plane, she now regretted that as her stomach ached terribly. It felt a million times worse when the plane began to land. That spinning feeling in her stomach, the pressure of the world pushing on her, it was all familiar but through an entirely different way- she was going to see him again. She had gotten better at managing her fear, pushing out her panic and keeping her calm, but it wasn't helping much as images of Hannibal Lecter flashed through her memory.
She felt dizzy when she got off the plane. Before she picked up her bags, she bought a bottle of water and drank it all in one sitting. A few teenage boys were staring at her, smiling as she wiped sweat from her face. My god, she was sweating. She really did need to sit down and relax, pull herself together. This sort of mild hysteria wouldn't do.
She sat down in a waiting area, closing her eyes and settling herself. She felt much better after a few minutes of controlled breathing. She was to take a taxi cab to a hotel just outside the airport, in the morning she'd be briefed and then she'd jump on another plane, only this time she was to assist Doctor Lecter back to Baltimore.
She slept as well at the hotel as she had on the plane, her night was fevered and dominated by a pair of piercing eyes belonging to a ghost from her past. She woke up three times, and on the third she couldn't get back to sleep. She watched the clock with frustration, it's numbers turning slower than possible. At 6am she was completely dressed. She looked at herself in the mirror.
She looked calm. In control. Yes, this was the Clarice Starling she wanted Hannibal Lecter to see. She hoped to God she would keep it together. She slipped her gun securely in her shoulder-holster, feeling more confident then she had when she first left Baltimore. She reminded herself she was no longer Clarice Starling the trainee, no matter how much a laymen he might make her feel.
She allowed herself a decent breakfast of fruit and toast before hailing a taxi to depart to the privately assigned airfield. Australia wasn't interesting to her, not when Hannibal Lecter was the object of comparison. She felt she could have mourned the brevity of trip had this been any other assignment.
"Sterling." Said a deep voice labored with a heavy accent. She saw it belonged to a middle aged man with a dark tan.
"Actually sir, it's Starling." She corrected him politely as he shook her hand.
"My apologies. I'm Alex Glenn, from the ASIS. Let me accompany you." He said leading her to a clearing. Clarice saw a bunch of vehicles flashing their lights and a small plane being fueled.
"We're loading him onto the craft as we speak. We had a bit of an early start, you see, although he's been mostly compliant he hasn't been the easiest criminal to transport." Grimaldi admitted darkly. "Honestly, we're glad to be rid of him. He's made three of my colleagues cry- I believe he's making sport of us."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Clarice said sincerely.
"I've contacted the American Embassy, they've assured me that I will be rewarded for the capture of Hannibal Lecter." He said halting in his footsteps. His eyes flashed with greed and anxiety. "Am I to trust the American FBI will honor their agreement?" He asked, his tone becoming cooler.
"I'm not really the person to ask." Clarice replied calmly. "But I'll pass your concerns along."
She scrutinized Alex, wondering how exactly he had learned the whereabouts of Lecter and managed to detain him. He must have been exceedingly intelligent.
Alex nodded and walked her past various security guards. Everyone seemed to be busy and in deep conversation, too busy to notice her. She was greeted by the copilot and an officer as she took to the stairs into the plane.
"Your credentials please?" He asked, stopping her from getting on the plane. She flashed him her badge and id. "Thank you. He's in the back, don't touch him or hand anything to him. We'll be taking off in a half hour."
Now was it.
The plane was cramped, but she was smaller than most so she was more comfortable than the few officers scattered in seats throughout the plane. She breathed deeply through her nose as she slowly made her way to the back, careful not to trip.
Hannibal Lecter was secured to the wall of the plane, something like an oversized hand-truck staying him in place while heavy canvas wrapped around him. She was certain there was a fair amount of cuffs underneath the canvas, as well as a straight-jacket. He was wearing his signature hockey-mask. They must have got the memo he was a biter.
Her stomach clenched into a knot as she saw his eyes open wider. She knew he smelled her- with cold precision, his gaze shifted toward her. The guards chatting lazily about their drunken night sounded like gibberish to her ears, all she could concentrate on was his piercing eyes, so intelligent and intense.
"Well hello Clarice." He said, the mask not obscuring his familiar tone.
She gripped the chair to keep her hands from shaking and sat down across the isle.
"Hello Doctor Lecter." she replied evenly, pleased that her voice didn't wavier. It did, however, go up a in a slight pitch. She noticed this: she knew he noticed this as well.
"My, you're looking good these days." He said in a devilish sprawl. She noticed his hair was flecked with gray in some areas, but he largely looked the same. "Although, forgive me for being blunt, but your taste in shoes hasn't improved much. If I had known you were in town we could have made a day of it."
"I've only arrived last night." Clarice said, her cheeks heating with embarrassment. She refused to give him the satisfaction of getting her goat and purposely left her shoes in full view.
"You came all this way to keep me company? Clarice, I'm touched." He said, his eyes crinkled with mirth but she notice he never closed them. She hadn't really noticed that before. "Thank goodness you're here, I was beginning to fear this trip would be as monotonous as Bocrie's wit."
The guard stopped in the middle of his story and shot Hannibal a withering glance that he didn't seem to acknowledge or mind.
"The view is also much more pleasant." He added sensually.
"What were you doing in Australia, Doctor?" Clarice asked, trying to make it a point to ignore his flirtation.
"Oh, a little this, a little that." He replied mischievously. His eyes widened. "I would much rather talk about you, Clarice." He purred.
"Jesus lady, we can't get him to shut up for nothing." Bocrie fumed. "You get on the plane and he turns into chatty-McGee times two."
"As you can see, 'monotonous' is a generous word for it." Hannibal mocked.
"Gentlemen you can move to the front of the plane if we're disturbing you." Clarice insisted sternly as Bocrie tensed up.
Hannibal smirked as the the two guards moved a few seats toward the middle.
"What's so amusing?" Clarice asked.
"You used your grown-up voice." He said. "You've blossomed into quite the woman. I bet all the boys are nipping at your heels, fighting to get the juiciest piece of Special. Agent. Clarice. Starling. Have they?" He asked shamelessly, his rasping voice rising with excitement. "Have you acquired a husband? 2.5 kids?"
"No." She replied simply.
"Hm, that never was your dream, was it?" He said looking oddly pleased. "You had higher ambitions than burning dinner and wiping asses."
She tried not to seemed taken aback by his crass comment.
"What's your dream Doctor?" She asked him.
"One need only to be awake in this moment." He replied, unabashed.
"You could have caught a plane to Baltimore State Forensic Hospital anytime." Clarice replied.
"Don't be coy," he said softly. "your undivided attention is one of my deepest hedonistic pleasures."
His overt advances couldn't be ignored. She looked away, a blush creeping up her face. She was saved by the pilots voice over the intercom announcing their departure in a couple of minutes. She noticed that men with shot guns and several people in suits had found their seats, all assuming she had Lecter handled.
She wasn't sure who was handling who.
All the tension had worn Clarice out, she had fell asleep quickly after take-off, not sure she could go another round with Hannibal until she was properly rested. He had remained courteously silent, unlike the other passengers.
She shifted in her chair, trying to get the kink out of her neck. A bump of turbulence nudged her.
"Clarice…" It was a hushed whisper.
She took a deep breath in, her eyes still closed as she slowly came to consciousness.
"Clarice…" She heard Hannibal call, only this time with much more conviction.
She opened her eyes, the shaking of the plane much more pronounced. As she scanned the seats she saw everyone sitting- some reading, most sleeping, and a few watching a terrible movie. She turned her head lazily, contemplating how to scold Lecter for waking her up.
Except her reprimand died in her throat. He was looking at her- with purpose- with a sense of urgency.
"Clarice, I want you to listen to me." He said firmly, his eyes wide. "There is an emergency exit window one seat in front of me on my left. Go to that seat and put your seatbelt on. "
"NOW." He roared, his eyes flashing with fury.
A few heads turned to look at him, looking quite irritated. The shaking was becoming more pronounced and headphones began to pop off of their heads.
She got up and ran to seat he specified.
"What's going on Doctor?" Clarice asked over her shoulder.
"Make sure your seatbelt is resting low on your pelvis and not on your stomach." He barked. "No- don't look out the window." He scolded her.
"Why?" Clarice choked, fear gripping her.
"I need you to be calm." He replied. "When the oxygen mask comes down, put it on. Then, put your head between your legs, grab your knees, and plant your feet as far back as you can."
She wondered for a moment if he was playing some cruel joke on her- and then she heard it- a distinct bending-of-metal sound. The lights began to flicker.
There was no explanation, no message from the pilot, only the terrible wrenching of metal scraping metal, and then- emergency lights turned on and the shaking got rougher. Clarice heard the gasps of shock and anger as the oxygen masks burst from the top of the seats. She put hers on, recalling all the steps Hannibal had told her in her mind.
"Oh my God- the plane is going down!" She heard someone scream. Clarice figured that person much have looked out the window.
She heard the engines roaring, and felt the plane lurch violently. The rush of air over the plane caused a roar and whistling, and he felt pressure push on her.
People were screaming. Men were screaming. She felt dizzy, even though the oxygen mask was providing air she felt like she couldn't get a proper breath.
"Clarice!" she heard Hannibal shouting her name, but she couldn't hear much else.
It was the lambs. The lambs were screaming.
The oxygen mask was useless.
She took a breath. And then another. She opened her eyes, she was laying on her back on the ground, her feet propped up on a rock. She felt thirsty and damp, shaky and clammy.
"Where's the plane?" She gasped. "Where's the plane?" She asked again. "The lambs-?" She recalled their screams.
"Clarice you're slipping into shock." Came a level, firm voice. "The plane is gone and you're safe. Your lambs are safe as well."
"Doctor Lecter- where is the plane?" She gasped.
"It's gone." He replied.
"What- where is the plane?" She asked again. She had heard him answer, but for some reason she found she couldn't stop asking the question.
"The plane is gone, Clarice. You're safe."
"Where is the plane?" She gasped again. She wished she could stop asking.
"The plane is gone." She heard him say. There was no indication of annoyance in his tone. Only simple fact. "The plane is gone, Clarice. You are laying down on the ground. You're unhurt."
She was breathing hard now. Her hand flew to her mouth, searching for the oxygen mask that wasn't there. She thought of the hockey mask that covered Lecter's mouth.
"Don't move, just relax." She heard Hannibal Lecter's voice soothe her. "You did well. You did very well, and you're doing very well right now. You're safe. You're unhurt."
"What about you?" She gasped.
"Me? How thoughtful of you to ask. A few scrapes and bumps, but nothing serious." He replied. "I was more…secure…than most."
She was beginning to shake less, but felt drained. Her thoughts were beginning to order themselves, no longer was she living in a half-dream.
"The plane crashed." She said.
"Where is it?"
"Gone." He said simply. "We were thrown."
She turned her head, feeling more stable. He was laying next to her, his eyes cool and amused. His hands were folded on his stomach, his straight jacket undone and the sleeves rolled up. They were under the shade of a palm tree.
"Hello Clarice." He said with a ghost of a smile, he was not wearing the mask.
She lifted her head and saw he was laying on the sand next to her, his legs crossed leisurely.
"How did you get free?" She asked.
"Mmm." He said thoughtfully. "You seemed so happy to see me, I didn't want reveal I had shed my bonds until we landed- but our little travel mishap spoiled the surprise." He said. "Feeling better?" He asked pleasantly, flashing her a row of teeth.
"Are we alone?" She asked.
"For the moment." He said. "I didn't search for stragglers. Say- do you think we're on Anthrax Island?" He asked fiendishly.
She struggled to sit up.
"Oh my God-" Clarice gasped, getting into sitting position. "Oh my god, the plane crashed."
"Yes it did." Hannibal said. "And we survived."
"I have to find- I have to help the others-" Clarice gasped.
"Good thinking. I believe I Bocrie is playing in the waves…and behind that big rock." Hannibal said darkly.
She got up on her feet and found she was unsteady.
"I suggest you stay here with me." She heard Doctor Lecter say. "I've combed the beach, there's nothing worth saving. No lambs to gather either."
She stared at the huge bolder to her right and the ocean wondering if Bocrie really was bobbing behind it or if Hannibal was manipulating her using his terrible, dark humor. He wasn't predisposed to lying to her, not really. She felt sick and crossed her arms to find her holster empty- she had forgot about her gun.
"I have it." Hannibal said, reading her thoughts.
"I would like it back, please." She said firmly.
"To what end? Are you going to shoot me, Clarice?" He asked in a southern drawl. "No, we're equals now." He said standing up. "For the sake of peace I've hid it until we can trust each other, until we can come to some sort of mutual understanding."
"And what would that be?" She asked, clenching her hands into fists as he calmly stalked towards her.
"Survival." He replied. "Your gun is no longer your most important possession. Don't waste any precious time or energy trying to find it, I need you to focus. Did you have any sort of wilderness training at the academy?"
"Of course." Clarice answered.
"What is our first priority?"
"Maintaining body temperature... avoiding hypothermia."
"Very good." He said with a smile.
"We should build a shelter." She said.
"Find drinking water." She said.
"Very good Clarice." He said. "I've gathered everything I could find that could be useful to us. We'll go over the inventory and construct a lean-to."
She followed him to the base of the tree line overlooking the beach. Sitting in the sand was an array of junk, neatly divided and separated on the ground.
"We're exceedingly lucky I was wrapped in canvas. I suggest using it for our roof." Hannibal said rolling up his long sleeves. "I've had to cut it up a bit to construct a solar still. I would still prefer to find a fresh spring, but we'll be okay on drinking water for the moment."
He felt they were exceedingly lucky to have canvas, Clarice was starting to feel exceedingly lucky to have him. In that moment she realized with some discomfort that she couldn't name anyone else she'd rather be deserted on a island with.
"We have one pocket knife-" he turned to her. "-I'll hold onto it." He added before turning back to the pile. "A suitcase, a can of shaving cream, a bag of disposable razors, a man's hair comb, two very large white cotton shirts belonging to a corpulent, diabetic man, a semi-functional set of handcuffs, and various pieces of plane shrapnel. There was also a half-melted pitcher, but it's sitting in our solar still."
Clarice wiped the sweat from her face with her sleeve. She felt sand-grit stick uncomfortably across her face.
"How far did you go to find this?" She asked.
"Not far, but I did try to hit every direction." He replied.
"After we build our lean-to we should explore."
"We will construct our lean-to first, rest, and explore tomorrow." Hannibal replied. "The solar still is a temporary solution, we'll need more water than it can provide. Especially on hot days like these."
"I want to look for survivors."
"No." He said firmly. "That would be a mistake."
"If someone's hurt can I count on you to help?" She asked.
"If you bring someone who is hurt back to our camp, I'll smash their head with a rock and butcher them." He replied calmly.
She breathed deeply through her nose, infuriated. Her anger turned to fear as his stony gaze swept over her- there was no glass or cage to keep him from her.
"The more people we have, the more work we can do." She reasoned.
"Not if you bring someone who is hurt, thirsty, and stupid." He replied.
"I won't be able to live with myself if someone dies and I did nothing." She said.
"Your chances of living are best with me." He said, his eyes flashing. "This isn't a drill, there's no Jack Crawford to impress with your noble intentions- while they are endearing they can jeopardize our survival."
"Fine- we'll build a lean-to, we'll find a stream, and then we'll search for others." She said.
"What do you think they're going to do when they see me without my bonds, Clarice?" He asked, stepping closer. "You think they're going to share a lean-to with me? Ask me to fish for them? Do you think they'll trust me with their safety?"
"...when they see how you'll help them, they'll trust you enough."
"Am I going to help them?" He asked. "No, they will either try to kill me or detain me. They will become suspicious of you and label you an outsider- maybe an enemy- for trying to convince them I am to be trusted."
She knew he was right, but she couldn't shake her guilt.
"Have I ever steered you wrong?" He asked.
"…No." She replied.
"Then let's not waste daylight." He said walking past her into the woods.
She trailed after him, searching the ground for long branches and any objects he'd hadn't found. It was heavy work to haul branches back to their camp. The sun shot through the trees and she assumed it was late noon when they had gathered enough raw materials. The land was full of palm trees and they had spent a lot of their time sawing off the fronds with their blunt little pocket knife. After numerous trips Clarice was glad to see they had gathered enough foliage to begin building.
"Are you tired?" He asked her.
"Not at all." Clarice lied. He smiled knowingly.
He guided her through the construction of their shelter. It was about three fourths done when he asked her to finish it.
"I'm going to build a fire before it gets too dark." He explained. "Can you manage without me?"
"Of course." She replied.
"Oh, of course." He repeated.
"I didn't mean it like that." She said.
She was laying palm fronds on the ground and various leaves they had collected. Her mouth felt dry and a vicious thirst was building, she hadn't asked about the solar still and wouldn't bring it up before Hannibal. She didn't want to appear weak.
He built the fire around six feet in front of the shelter, when it began to smoke and light flickered she realized how dark it had gotten in such a short amount of time. He joined her to secure the finishing touches on their lean-to. It was pretty well crafted, Clarice felt that she could have a relatively comfortable night- that is, as comfortable as she could be sleeping next to a murderous cannibal.
"We can rest now." Hannibal said, admiring their handiwork. "We'll search for water in the morning."
Clarice felt pain when he mentioned water.
"The pitcher should be as full as it will get by now." He said studying her closely. He offered no explanation as he left her.
He pitcher was warped but mostly undamaged. He brought it to her.
It wasn't as much water as she hoped for, but it was enough to make do. She drank half, careful not to seem gluttonous and handed it to him. She found she couldn't watch him drink the rest of his share. As he finished she pushed her knees to her chin, wrapping her arms around her legs watching the fire.
"What are you thinking about, Clarice?" Hannibal asked, his clinical coolness ever present.
"Water." She replied.
"Water? Not Bocrie laying in a ditch begging, 'save me Agent Starling, save me, save me...'?" He mocked.
She huffed, shaking her head.
"You probably saved my life." Clarice admitted. "I'm beginning to wonder if this wasn't your first plane crash."
"Hm." He said, a satisfied smile growing. "Let's just say, it's not my first crisis."
A silence passed between them and she had the impression he wouldn't expand on that comment.
"I think it would be beneficial for us to compose a set a rules...procedures and the like." He said.
"I agree." She said.
"We should never go anywhere separately without telling each other exactly where we are going. If you're injured or lost I want to be able to find you quickly." Hannibal said.
"I don't know how much wilderness training you had at your academy, but I had enough to understand you don't wander on you own." She replied.
"I can't assume you know these things." He said seriously. "For example, what if Brave Clarice sees a pair of arms flailing flag her down for help over yonder? She might feel an urge to run through the brush- in her excitement she loses her footing and twists her ankle...then Officer Chavez appears from behind a tree. He sees her at her most vulnerable and the ugly side of human nature grips him- he takes everything she has, including her clothes and leaves her to die- naked and alone. Yes, he'll even take those ugly shoes..."
"Is this how you entertain yourself, Doctor?" Clarice asked deadpan. "Inserting me into your bodice-ripping fantasies?"
"My fantasies involving you aren't that tame." He said roguishly, winking at her. She hoped he mistook her blush for sunburn.
Fat chance though.
"I want my gun." She said.
"You said we were equals. You know where my gun is and I don't. Right now we're not equal." She insisted.
"We are equal in my knowledge that I won't use a firearm, and I know you won't either." He replied.
"Sounds like you're making all the decisions around here." She snapped.
"Just the good ones." He said.
"You can't decide for me."
"And why is that, Clarice?"
She clenched her jaw, he awaited her answer. She realized that she held no power here, and he was flaunting that. It was becoming more and more apparent that he was in charge and expected her to follow him.
"When we're rescued I'll remember this." She threatened. He didn't reply but his smile grew. She noticed he had been smiling a lot since she saw him.
"On the plane you asked me what my dream was." He said looking into the fire. "It's very similar to being on a deserted island with you, Clarice. Doesn't that surprise you?"
"No." She thought. "Yes."
They caught each others gaze and Clarice knew she was no longer in charge.
Authors Note: I admittedly am not a wilderness expert…so if you read something and think, "that wouldn't happen" or "that's not right", give yourself a pat on the back and type out an email to your Boy Scout or Girl Scout leader explaining what a stupid fuck the author of this Silence of the Lambs fan fic is instead of writing an essay on how wrong I am and submitting it as a review.
I also haven't read all Thomas Harris' books yet, so obviously this isn't really based on cannon. Once again please excuse my ignorance.
If you want some sort of reference to the island they are stranded on (because I decided to go full-on cliche and make it an island), I was inspired by Raoul Island which I believe is part of the Kermadec Islands. It's sub-tropical, has a lots of palms and not able to sustain coconut trees due to weather.
I am going to have Clarice run into survivors, I love the politics of people under strenuous circumstances so it's really going to get messy. I also love to think she's struggling with her feelings with Hannibal, I promise this is going to eventually turn into a bodice ripping romance…but I want to make it somewhat feasible. Which means it has to make some sort of sense why she'd fall in love with him.
Also, I'm sorry, but I am a slow writer. I'm going to let you know that right now incase you are looking for the next chapter within a day. I am going to try to write quality chapters without rushing it.
Thank you so much for your attention and I hope you enjoyed the first chapter!