Lecter inhaled sharply, held his breath a moment and exhaled slowly. He quite honestly hadn't even thought of this. Of course he knew, but everything had been so unexpected that his normally careful and controlled self hadn't been very careful. Obviously. "And you don't want to have it?" He looked at her sharply then turned his attention to his hands.
"No, I do. I don't know that there's much you can do, and I don't expect anything from you if that's what you're thinking. But I just thought you should know." She sighed and pushed back her hair from her forehead. Damn but this was hard. She stood wishing that she had brought a change of clothes with her; suddenly she was hot even though it wasn't too bad today.
He stood and walked with her. "I guess that would make you due the middle of March," he spoke as he calculated.
She nodded, "Yeah, that's what the doctor said, March 2. I mean it; I don't expect anything from you. I just wanted you to know. I think you can understand why I have to have it, why I have to keep it."
His voice was quiet when he spoke, sincere in his tone. "Yes, Clarice, I understand. You're truly a brave woman - bringing a child into this world knowing I'm his or her father takes courage. I will help you, of course, as much as I can. You have insurance, I assume. But whatever's not covered I'll pay for. I won't take any arguments on that, I don't run from my responsibilities." He chuckled lightly, "all right, most of them."
"I was hoping you wouldn't be upset with me, and I appreciate your generosity. I don't think I'm very brave. Now I'm going to have to make up some story about why the father of my baby is never around. And when it comes time for it to be born, I'll have to try and explain to Ardelia why I need her in the delivery room with me instead of you." She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned against a tree. "This isn't exactly what I had planned for my life," she glanced at him.
"No, I imagine it's not." He shoved his hands in his pockets, "I don't know what you want me to say. Do you want me to ask you to come with me? I don't think you're ready for that, Clarice."
She looked at him with wide eyes, that hadn't even been something she'd thought of. Though his mentioning it meant he must have thought of it before now. "No, you're right. I don't have much of a life, but I'm not in a position to give it up quite yet. Ardelia would never forgive me if I just up and disappeared, and I owe Jack something for his commitment to me."
He walked with her in silence, sensing there was little more for him to say. He was almost fifty-one years old and about to become a father to a child he'd more than likely never be allowed to see. A child who would not be allowed to bear his name, not that he knew the first thing about being a father. He had never bothered with things that dealt with families; marriage had never been something he thought of. And children had been even more farfetched to him than marriage. "I don't know what I can offer you, Clarice, other than financial support and emotional support as best as I can give it under the circumstances. You'll need a way to get a hold of me, of course. And while I'm not in the position to give you an address, I'll give you an email address and a pager number. Is that acceptable for now?"
"Yes, Doctor, that's more than I expected honestly."
"I thought we were beyond this doctor business, Clarice."
"We were. We are. I mean, out here in the open I assumed it was better if I address you by doctor than by your name. There millions of doctors in the world, but I know of no one else with your given name."
"Good point, Clarice. You didn't bring dinner, I see. Can I treat you or do you have someplace to be?"
"I'd like that," she offered him a smile. "I'm not really dressed right, though."
"You're fine, Clarice. I'm a little too casual, but that's all right." He led her to where he had parked his rental car, opening the door for her before getting in himself. "We could always go back to my hotel room. The damage has already been done," he chuckled lightly.
She blushed, "I'd thought of that. I have nowhere to be until work in the morning. But I already told Jack I'd be late since you were going to be in town for the night. Well, you being the mystery man who sent me roses."
They ended up ordering room service to be delivered to his room, neither wanting to waste their time sitting at a table when they could be in his room in bed together. Hannibal had been surprised that Clarice agreed, but he was pleased. The idea of sitting across from her at a table having to feign politeness when he wanted to touch her was not pleasing. Though he realized when she had a bag with her containing clothes that she hadn't planned on going home that night either. After dinner, Hannibal broached a subject she had not touched on. "You mentioned my being upset with you. But I suppose the more appropriate question would be whether or not you're upset with me. It certainly wasn't intentional, but I would like to know how you feel."
"Well, I feel a lot of things: nervous, anxious, embarrassed, excited, scared. I'm going to be a mother, something I have no example of to base my mothering from. Embarrassed because as if I don't already get talked about enough at work as it is, now I'm going to be pregnant and unmarried with no boy friend in sight. There are already rumors that I don't like men, I can just imagine what will be said now. Excited because I have to admit that I look forward to the chance to be a mom, to have a child that I'm responsible for. Someone that's mine, someone that I belong to as much as they belong to me. Scared because I have no idea what's going to happen to me. I don't know the first thing about being pregnant or being a mother. I've never changed a diaper in my life." She blushed slightly and lowered her eyes; embarrassed she had spoken so freely about these things. But she had no one else to say these things to.
"I think you'll do a fine job as a mother. And as far as your embarrassment, what are you going to tell people anyway? What did you tell Ardelia about those days you spent with me?"
"That you were a boy friend from college who called me when you came into town. As far as what I'll tell them now, I have no idea. Either way I'll look like a fool, I can't tell them you/he is involved because then when the time comes for the baby to come they'll wonder where you are. And while I don't care what most of them think, I don't want to lie to Ardelia more than I have to. And Jack," she looked away, wondering how Jack Crawford was going to feel about her condition. Lecter had hinted once that he thought Jack was fond of her, but she had taken it for one of Lecter's attempts at getting under her skin. But she had to wonder slightly if there wasn't some truth in his words. Why else would Crawford have selected her for the Buffalo Bill case? And why else would he defend her against Krendler and his cronies?
"Well, obviously it's not my place to say. And I'm not going to put undue stress on you by telling you should or shouldn't do something."
She stood from the bed and walked to the window. What was it when she was with him and her need to look out windows? "I know, Hannibal. And like I said, I just wanted you to know. I'd made my decision before I saw you, but you deserved to know."
"And what would you say if I asked you to come with me, Clarice?"
She turned to look at him, surprised by his question. "I don't know," she shook her head. "I honestly don't know. It's tempting, but I worked so hard to get into the FBI. I don't know that I can just turn my back on my career, not so early. I know things are going badly now with Krendler, but things could improve." She sat on the edge of the bed. "Is that an offer or just hypothetical?"
"It's an offer, Clarice. I didn't really expect you to say yes, and I honestly don't know that I'm ready to entrust you with that yet. But you think about it, and if you decide it's something you're interested in - a life with me - you let me know. But bear in mind once you leave there won't be any going back. I'd let you leave, of course, but if you leave you have to sever all ties, including Ardelia. And should you choose to leave me later, you'd never be able to find me again."
"I'd like to think about it, and I understand your cause for concern. It's genuine, you have no reason to trust me." She laughed lightly. "Ironic, isn't it? You're the fugitive and I'm the agent and it's you who has reason to distrust me."
"Well, if I weren't a fugitive trust would not be an issue."
"Of course not." She laughed a little sarcastically.
"I'm not sure I find this as amusing as you apparently do, Clarice. Believe it or not, I don't enjoy the thought that I'll have a child I may never get to see. Or if I do see him or her I can't tell them who I am."
"I've thought of that. Why don't you have any? Children I mean? You didn't get imprisoned until you were forty-one. Have you ever been married?"
"No, never married. And my generation, Clarice, it was usually marriage and then children. So no children either. I never took the time, I suppose. Between my career and my hobbies," he raised a brow at her look. "I had more than one hobby, Agent Starling. I never lacked for companionship, and it was enough to satisfy me. I wasn't of the mind to settle down, it'd be a little difficult to live the life I led with a wife and kids at my house."
"Yes, I can imagine it would be difficult to explain why it wasn't a leg of lamb in the refrigerator."
"Your attempt at humor is touching, Clarice. But I'd suggest you not quit your day job."
She leaned back against him, her head on his chest. "So there's no former Mrs. Hannibal Lecter." She traced her fingertips along the arm he placed around her. "I guess I knew that now that I think about it, some of the things in your dossier I've forgotten. I believe I wondered when I first discovered that was true whether or not it was because you couldn't find anyone to meet your strict standards."
He chuckled lightly. "Hardly, Clarice. I put myself through medical school and then started my career. You of all people can understand that, with a degree in psychology I'm sure you've looked at medical school as an alternative to the FBI."
"Yes, I did. And you're right; I had no desire to spend the next six years of my life in school. I wanted to work."
"Would you undress for me?"
"It's a little late for an office visit, isn't it Doctor?"
"Indeed, but I promise to be very thorough."
She was actually glad to shed her work clothes and help relieve him of his as well, which she did without being prompted. She offered him a slight smile in response to the smug grin he wore when she got to his underwear. She really didn't care whether or not they ended up having sex, though she had to wonder whether her being pregnant would effect his wanting her.
"I assume your doctor has said this type of activity is all right?"
"Midwife. And she didn't say otherwise, so I assume so."
He rolled her onto her back, lying on his side next to her moving his fingers lightly over her naked body. "Midwife? That's interesting," he stopped, watching his hand and her body's reaction to his touches and looked at her face.
"Yes," she said before bringing his face to hers so she could kiss him. She wasn't used to being aggressive, and somehow knew that Lecter liked being the one in control, but his response to her kiss suggested he didn't mind her aggressiveness on this occasion. She felt her body respond to him as his hands stimulated her, it would be so easy to not get turned on by him if he wasn't so good at what he did. She inhaled sharply when he bit her upper lip, not hard but hard enough to cause her to react.
"Does that bother you, Clarice?"
"No," she said quickly. She released his hair from the rubber band and fanned it out with her fingertips. "It was just startling is all." He was kissing her neck now, she could feel his teeth nipping her neck as he moved down along her shoulders, collarbone, and finally to her breasts causing her to groan instinctively. He teased her nipple with his tongue and as if that wasn't torture enough he lifted his mouth from her skin and blew on it lightly causing her to shiver and tingle at the same time. Like everything with him, he aroused conflicting feelings in her but obviously from the way her body reacted to him she enjoyed it. She welcomed him when he finally entered her, his response to being inside of her once more answering her question about whether or not he would find her being pregnant offensive.
Clarice lay sleeping beside him; he was finding sleep difficult to come by on this particular evening. Sometime during the four days they had been together two months ago he had managed to change his life in a way he had never thought possible until now. He had lied partially to Clarice about the children, he had been told over twenty-five years ago after a late in life bout with chicken pox that he very probably could not produce children. That was one of the reasons he never thought of marriage, the purpose to marriage in his opinion was to produce heirs. And if he stood little chance of accomplishing that he saw no point in committing himself to spending the rest of his life with anyone. His hand rested on her stomach, a look of amazement in his eyes at the thought that at that moment his child was growing. Had it been anyone but Clarice he might have doubted his being the father of the child, but he believed her when she had told him it had been years for her. And it was not as if she knew he was going to pay her a visit for her to plan on becoming pregnant.
The wakeup call came too early for both of them. Clarice showered and dressed for work and as much as he hated letting her do it, she took a cab to work after they shared breakfast in their room.
Clarice spent that day at work in a daze. Ardelia was full of questions about why she didn't bring her mystery man back to their duplex; Clarice told a partial truth stating that they wanted privacy. The fact that they needed privacy was something she left unsaid. The roses were still fresh on her desk, the two that had still been closed yesterday had opened over night causing Clarice to sadden a bit knowing that meant they wouldn't last much longer. After work, she did something she normally did not partake in; she joined some of her coworkers for a night out at an area bar. No one seemed to notice that her drink of choice that night was Diet Coke instead of a Killian's. When she got home that night her bed seemed unusually empty, and though she thought she wouldn't she slept well. She knew that sometime soon she would have to think of Hannibal's question to join him and an answer, but she was in no mood to do that yet. For that matter, she didn't know if he wouldn't get back to wherever he was and rethink it and renig on the offer.
Lecter spent the next day trying to sleep once he got home due to his having to work that night. Clarice living in Washington D.C. would not bode well for him if he wanted to keep this job and these hours, both of which suited him so well he hated to leave the job so soon. Susan Palmer would be someone to contend with, though he could easily dismiss her. He'd just have to do it politely, the last thing he needed was attention of any kind drawn to him. A baby. He'd like to think that it was foolish for him to actually be pleased with the idea of becoming a father at his age and under the circumstances, but he couldn't help but be just that. If anything could have made Clarice think about joining him, this is the one thing he really hadn't considered that actually might work. He had given her an email address she could contact him with. The computer he used was registered to a Texas attorney who wouldn't know anything about the laptop should he be contacted about it. She had not provided him with an email address, not having one aside from her work email address to give him. For obvious reasons that would not work, and he realized that it was now up to her whether or not she contacted him.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com