***Part Seven***
Word Count: 1,894

Clarice was fairly certain within five minutes of talking to Dr. Chilton that he was a creep. She wasn't so sure he didn't belong at the Baltimore State Forensic Hospital as a patient himself.

Even before his come-on, he made her skin crawl. It had nothing to do with the fact she was involved with someone either. He was just a creepy pervert. Thinking Mr. Crawford chose Clarice because of her appearance versus skills was ludicrous. She was nothing like Dr. Lecter's choice in women.

Barney's sincere politeness was refreshing once she'd managed to escape Dr. Chilton's company. She hoped she'd placated him, flirted back enough, to make it easy to return if she had to. Crawford's instructions were just vague enough that she wasn't sure what he wanted in her report.

She'd seen photos of her subject. She'd read about, and through Will heard more things about him than she probably knew about her own father and mother. She still, as she hung her coat on the spot Barney indicated, wondered what type of man he was.

He was a killer, obviously, first and foremost. He was immensely smart and skilled. Everyone who knew him both personally and professionally expressed shock once the real man was revealed and exposed.

How had he managed to go undetected for so long? Years. Who knew how many victims there were really. Clarice suspected there were more no one knew about. And that was just in the United States. He hadn't always lived here, she knew. Was there a trail of victims from Europe to the shores of America, leading straight to Baltimore?

So, why was she doing this? Interviewing a man who could fool the likes of Jack Crawford and Will Graham right under their noses? She was excited as Barney gave her the final instructions on how to approach Dr. Lecter's cell. Only it was like no cell she'd seen before this point.

Hannibal Lecter wasn't sure what to expect when Dr. Chilton told him someone from Jack Crawford's unit was coming to speak to him.

He was surprised, really. Without Will Graham's keen, unworldly, insight on the Buffalo Bill case, Lecter was sure they would never get to him. Jack was no slouch, Lecter knew, but he wasn't the one who'd tripped Lecter up. While one of the best, Jack Crawford wasn't in the same league as Will Graham. He'd been saddened, though not surprised, not to read Will's name in conjunction with the Buffalo Bill case. He'd looked forward to crossing paths with the young man once again.

The young woman who appeared in front of his cell was not even close to what he'd expected Jack to send him. Young was an understatement, which was part of the reason he had asked to see her identification. He wouldn't put it past Dr. Chilton to think of some sort of scheme to try and get Lecter to talk.

He discovered more than the fact she was not an actual agent when she approached his cell. Her attire was the biggest clue to that. While not blue jeans, her clothes were not like anything he'd seen an agent wear. While inexpensive they at least suited her. He gave her that.

It took him a moment to put his finger on what was familiar about her scent. He didn't know how it was he had such a keen sense of smell. Long ago as a boy, he believed it was a gift from God. As an adult, one who couldn't find suitable answers to his questions from theology or God, he turned to science. So, somewhere in his gene pool another Lecter down the line had to have had one as keen, if not more so.

If he hadn't just been thinking of his adversary, he was ashamed to realize it may have taken him longer to identify the familiar scent that was distinctly Will Graham.

He was tempted to ask her how she enjoyed his handiwork, but sadly she had been nothing but polite and respectful to him. No disdain was evident in her tone or posture. No look in her eyes of seeing him as evil as he saw in so many. It was one reason he elected not to receive visitors. Because of her attitude, and the rudeness of Miggs in the cell next to Lecter's, he refrained from even mentioning the information he'd gleaned.

That didn't mean he wouldn't store the information away for another time if needed. Did Will know she was here? The scent clung to her, suggesting intimacy not just casual contact.

Interesting indeed.

Intriguing even.

Clarice hung up the phone, digesting Crawford's information about Miggs' death. Crawford said she didn't need to feel anything and yet she felt as if she was supposed to. A man was dead because of her. Dr. Lecter had done it for her, taunted the man so relentlessly as to result in his death. She should feel ashamed, but she couldn't find it in her to be upset someone would stand up for her. Even to someone crazy.

"You're an idiot," she murmured. Lecter did it for his own amusement, nothing to do with her. She was reading far too much into it. Letting the psychiatrist into her head just as Will and Crawford had instructed her not to do. Not that she lost sleep over it. Other than the name he'd dropped at the end of her visit, but that was a clue to catch a killer. Wasn't that what she was here to do?

The clue had led to her unraveling a piece of the puzzle that was Dr. Hannibal Lecter's mind. She had figured out one of his codes. Not a huge piece of the puzzle, but still she felt good about it.

The storage unit. She'd been confused at first, until she realized Lecter wouldn't send her on a wild goose chase with absolutely no pay off possible. So, she refused to do as the storage facility owner preferred she do and return the next day. She had to get in there now. She was excited, but also a little afraid it was now or never and anything in the unit would be gone tomorrow.

His keen sense of smell astounded her once again when he commented on the fact her cut was no longer bleeding. It should have been creepily revolting, but he sounded so sincere in asking after her.

The towel he'd offered her had floored her. For one, she hadn't been able to see him, though she knew he was there of course. Another, she wasn't expecting kindness from him. It wasn't as if she was soaked to the bone.

Going to him had apparently been a mistake. She hadn't even thought about it. It was his clue that led her there.

Will didn't understand her reasoning, though.

"You find a severed head and visit the serial killer who led you to it instead of me. Or Jack?"

"He'd clearly wanted me to find it. He knew what was in the unit, Will. He told me so."

"During your visit tonight."

"Does it really matter?"

"Yes, Clarice, it does. It's exactly what he wants. He has managed from behind bars to immerse himself in a serial killer case."

"We don't know that for sure."

"Do you really believe otherwise?"

"I don't know, Will, I really don't."

"And why is he willing to talk to you over anyone else anyway? Don't fool yourself into thinking it's your skills, Clarice. It's because he can manipulate you due to lack of experience."

"Wow. Is that really what you think?"

"I don't think, I know. Jack wasn't a fool to send you. Young, attractive, green and wet behind the ears, and an orphan."

"He doesn't know that."

"You don't think he can find out? He's incredibly resourceful even incarcerated. He's managed to get my home address to send Christmas cards."

"I'm not you. He's already imprisoned. He has nothing to gain. He's never going to be free. He knows that."

"Clarice," he whispered, looking defeated and hurt. "I can't do this." She noticed tears forming in his eyes and realized this was serious. This wasn't just an argument.

"Do what?" Tears were beginning to fall from her eyes now.

"I thought I could. I didn't want to be that guy. The one who lets my misfortunes try and dictate what the woman I love does with her life. Working for Jack, well, that was just a theory until now."

"You didn't think I'd do it?"

"I thought you were one of many who wanted a spot in his small, elite unit. I had no idea you were truly on his radar."

"Will."

"Do you realize I had to stop myself from leaving your room the other night and telling Jack I forbid you from doing this?"

"You what? You wouldn't dare," she said indignantly. She had no clue he would have thought to do that.

"I didn't, all right, but damn it, Clarice. This is more than dreams and theories now. And I can't get sucked back into that world again by Dr. Lecter. It's a world you evidently want more than me."

"How can you even think that?"

"I don't need to think it. You're already on your way. Did you tell him anything about yourself?"

"No! I know how to follow the rules."

"Funny. There was a message on my machine asking me if I really thought I had what it took to keep an up-and-comer happy."

"What? Why didn't you say something before now?"

"Because I was mad. I thought you'd betrayed me to the one man I'd just assume think I'm dead."

"Will, I didnít."

"When this is done. We can talk if you still want to, but I can't have that man picking his way through my life and mind again."

"So that's it? What about the other night? That meant nothing to you?"

"It meant everything to me, Clarice. I love you."

"I love you, too, I do."

"I know. I see it when you look at me. It's the only thing that stops me from never finding the bottom of the bottle. I just can't. Jack. Lecter. Killers. I left it behind for a reason."

"You knew what I wanted to do."

"I thought I'd have some time to adjust to you being an agent first. Jack's not going to let someone like you slip through his fingers. Just one piece of advice."

"What?"

"Get out before he chews you up and spits you out. I don't know when that'll be, but I pray you will. You're too good to end up like me."

He kissed her then. It was like one of their kisses at the beginning of their relationship. Tentative. Holding back. The emotions couldn't be hidden by either of them though.

"Good luck, Clarice."

"Thank you," she said, feeling stupid for saying that.

She stared after him at the closed door. Should she go after him? Except it would solve nothing. Change nothing. She'd come too far to change paths now. She was on the verge of getting what she wanted.

No FBI. No BSU. No justice for people like Janice.

She collapsed on her bed, letting the tears flow freely. God it hurt. Love. What a crock.

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