Escrita por: Ro_Nask
“You’re gone and I gotta stay high all the time to keep you off my mind” - Habits (Stay High) - Tove Lo
Starling was startled by the sound of her roommate's voice and realized she might have been burning the Ardelia’s favorite skillet. She turned off the oven quickly as she heard her friend’s footsteps approaching, while the african-american called out for her.
“Over here!” she answered, trying not to get flustered and nervous over the skillet, which she purposefully positioned herself in front of. She saw Mapp enter the kitchen. “Oh, hey.”
“Hi… Do you mind explaining to me why there is a pet carrier in the middle of the living room?”
“Oh, that!” said Starling finding a perfect excuse to move away from the kitchen. “Come with me”, she pulled her roommate by the arm. “Remember that stupid idea everybody had to send me to the psychiatrist?”
“Yes, FBI’s orders, why?”
“It turns out I was probably right and I don’t need any more psychiatrical experiences in my life.” stated Clarice letting go of her friend’s arm and walking around the living room as if she was looking for something. “Where is it?” she started whistling.
“What the hell, Starling? You got yourself a dog to get rid of therapy?” questioned Ardelia crossing her arms on her chest, watching her friend with a hint of skepticalness in her brown eyes.
“Nope. Not a dog, a cat.” replied the brunette, still looking for the furred thing.
“And why did you do that again?” insisted Mapp, her question making Clarice stop and face her with a mocking smile.
“Oh, your dearest Dr. Bloom suggested.”
“Sorry, how is this supposed to help you?”
“He said that I need something to take care of and since I don’t have a life aside from my job I should get myself a pet.”
“And why didn’t you get a dog? We’re feds, a dog would be great and everybody loves dogs.”
“Dogs need training and constant supervision, we are feds, we have work to do. A cat is independent, he will do fine on his own from time to time.”
“Makes sense.” Ardelia shrugged. “So, is it a he?”
“Yeah. Black cat, maroon eyes, he’s kinda cute, I think you will like him. Oh, he is not so easy though, but I think he likes me.” said Starling before taking the stairs and checking her room. “There he is!” she came back with a black furred ball on her arms.
It was an adult cat, Ardelia could tell, he seemed to have just woken up, was yawning and checking the surroundings with his big maroon eyes that send a shiver all the way down Mapp’s spine when he looked right into her eyes.
“Did you name him already?”
“No, not yet. Why?” Clarice wondered, watching the cat as if Ardelia had said he didn’t look quite right.
“Just asking, he will need license, better think of the name quickly, girl.”
“Okay, I’ll work on that.”
“You are right he is kinda cute.” said Mapp, getting closer, ready to pet the animal. “We could call him Fur Ball for now.” she would have caressed the cat, hadn’t it hissed at her, she moved her hand away quickly as if she had just got burned.. “Or not! And he is really not a easy one.”
“He will get used.” commented Clarice with a small smile, petting the animal herself, the cat let out a small purr.
“If you say so… Well, he likes you, that is already something… Anyway, beer?” Mapp walked to the kitchen, soon opening the fridge.
“Why is my skillet on the oven?”
“Damn it, fur ball!” Ardelia cursed as she stepped off her shoe to clean her socks and the inside of the shoe. “Starling! Your cat doesn’t like me!”
Clarice came out of the kitchen and sat at the couch, the pet laying on her lap as soon as it got the chance, the woman had to take care not to get its attention by making noises while eating, she had read somewhere cats loved to check on your food, even with their bowls full.
“Why did he do now?”
“Starling, this week all my clothes were full of cat hair, he attacks my legs as if they were barking dogs, he hisses if we spend too much time together and he thinks my toothbrush is his toy.”
Clarice watched her friend, ready to comment, she opened her mouth to say something, but Mapp kept going.
“He sounds jealous, as if he is marking his territory.”
“Ardelia, he is just a cat.”
“He clearly doesn’t seem to think he is. Look at him, doesn’t his eyes freak you out not even for a moment.”
“I find them fascinating.”
“Clarice this thing licks himself.”
“He is grooming and he bathes twice a week.”
Ardelia faced her friend for a moment.
“Oh, Lord. You’re obsessing over the cat now?”
“What? No! I’m doing what I was told to, take care of him… Ardelia, the cat was sick.”
Mapp needed a moment. “Okay, explain.”
“I chose him because he was all quiet on his own, I asked what happened to him, he was shot, it seems that his previous owner did this to him, that’s why he is not one to like people. I’ve been having to check into his stitches, take him to the vet to see how his lungs are doing. He almost died, Delia.”
“Always saving a lamb, aren’t you, Starling?”
Clarice looked away, petting her cat, the animal purred, moved on her lap, jumped to lay on her shoulder, purring next to her ear.
“Fine, fine, you told his sad story, now light up. I won’t fight fur ball anymore… By the way, get him a name. He is jealous of you, mean to everyone else, think a little… Maybe you should call him Lecter… Or Lucifer.”
Starling didn’t answer right away, she seemed thoughtful.
“Might not be the best idea though, since the point was to get you out of the Hannibal House to begin with.” Ardelia commented, she walked away from Clarice’s silence, while she made her way upstairs she heard only a small whisper.
“Hannibal… Come here, boy…”
Ardelia ran, her gun in hand. The FBI agent had been woken by her friend’s screams, it had been ages since Clarice screamed like that. The african american reached the bedroom door to find her friend crying quietly, she saw the cat jump into the bed and lay beside his owner’s face, his presence seemed to calm Starling down.
“Where the hell have you been, fur ball?” wondered Ardelia, she knew Clarice allowed the pet to go out, he had been out for a while and Starling had been worried, Mapp was surprised to see him back, knowing that some felines would just run away never to come back.
The maroon eyed animal faced her, but he did not hiss, he just watched her before looking back to Starling.
Satisfied with the silence, Mapp left to her room.
On Clarice’s room, Hannibal watched the brunette sleep quietly now, a pang of regret hit him for leaving for so long.
Soon his head grew bigger, his paws too, he was a feline, but not a cat anymore, now a black tiger he found his tiger form was a bit too big for Starling’s bed and changed again. His comfort was found on his human form. Hannibal Lecter lay beside Starling breathing as quietly as a sleeping tiger. He had been shot indeed, by not by a owner, but by a hunter who recognized him from the news. Weakened the cannibal took advantage of his supernatural family heritage to change into animal form and disappear. He was found and taken to a shelter as a cat, his wounds were treated and were beginning to heal when Clarice appeared and his maroon eyes caught her attention, she saw him, the real him, without noticing and she saw his pain and wounds. Never one to leave a lamb behind Starling decided to take care of him, unaware of his powers and of who he was.
It took awhile for him to accept it completely, accept his lack of freedom. His great comeback would have to wait, he needed healing and Starling needed company to keep her lambs silent. On his moments out of the house he was exercising, preparing everything he would need to come back to the FBI’s attention. The day it took him to long out, his little Starling paid the price.
As he laid beside her, maroon eyes watching her sleeping form he knew he had to take action, needed to come back for once, Clarice needed her last change, her downfall had done its job, it was time to pick her up.
Quietly, almost shyly, he moved closer, observed her face, then he kissed her lips softly. In a moment, she kissed him back, soon their tongues met, Hannibal kissed her deeply, made it last just enough.
Clarice opened her eyes at the end of the kiss, surprise written all over her face as she saw him, she would have reached for her gun, hadn’t he caught her hand on his and pulled her close.
“You’re dreaming, my little Starling. Everything is alright. The lambs are safe… I’m here.”
A needle met her skin, she didn’t even bled, she just nodded slowly, allowed him to kiss her again, he let go off her lips only when she fell back asleep. Watched her for a while longer, savored on the moment of peace that would precede the storm.
When Clarice woke up, her cat was laying beside her, she smiled, happy to have him back.