Better Left Unsaid
by Melanie-Anne

There are some things better left unsaid.

I don't know what happened between the time Clarice set out for Mason Verger's farm and the time she was found at Paul Krendler's holiday home. I'm not sure I want to know. She left a little (okay, a lot) pissed at the world, men and the FBI, but she was Clarice. I don't know this person they brought back.

I was cooking when I got the call (it's a Mapp-women thing; if we're worried, we cook). It was Pearsall on the other end, telling me they'd found Clarice but Lecter was missing. Again. Pearsall went on to say Paul Krendler was dead. I can't say I was terribly upset, especially after everything he'd done to my friend. And right then I was concentrating so hard on the fact that she was all right, that I didn't really care about anything else.

I went straight to GW Memorial. They'd taken Clarice there for a checkup. If everything were okay, presumably, the powers that be would want her to go straight to the Hoover Building.

Assholes. Like they care what's best for her.

I was shocked to find her sitting up; wearing a black dress that I knew didn't belong to her. Her shoulder looked sore and she seemed exhausted. I was just grateful she was alive. In my head, Lecter had killed her a thousand times already.

My first thought was that he'd injured her shoulder. Then the doctor led me out of the room, saying, "I'm leaving the stitches as they are. Lecter did a good job; it should heal without scarring. She's in shock at the moment and I'd prefer to keep her overnight, just in case."

"Uh, sure. Okay."

He nodded to the bag I was holding. "Clothes?"

"Yeah. I'll, uh-" I gestured to the room, then turned. I think I may have been in shock too. Lecter hadn't hurt Clarice? He'd actually helped her?

Now that I think about it, it makes sense. Clarice had never been worried that Lecter would come after her. Then there are the letters, the gifts . . . the death of Paul Krendler.

The idea that Lecter may actually love Clarice sickens me. I've always associated him with evil and I just can't put him and Clarice together in my mind.

But I'm jumping ahead.

Clarice came home half a person. It was as if some part of her had died on the Chesapeake. I hated Lecter for doing that to my friend. After everything she'd put up with, after everything she'd gone through, what had he done to turn her into a shell of herself?

The OPR Board scheduled a set of hearings for the end of August. Clarice wouldn't answer the phone so I played go-between. Her behavior was starting to scare me. All she did each day was sit and stare into space. I thought about taking her to see a psychiatrist but two things changed my mind. The first was that Lecter was a psychiatrist and he'd done enough damage to make me wary of trusting another in that profession.

The second was Clarice herself. Last night I was in the kitchen (cooking, of course) when she walked into the room, smiling as if nothing was wrong. She apologized for her behavior, said she'd needed to sort a few things out in her head, and thanked me for being there for her.

I was too relieved that the old Clarice was back to worry about what had prompted the sudden change. I should have known what was coming. But you can't blame me for not wanting to believe it could happen.

I woke up this morning and she was gone. There was no note but I know where she's headed. She took the black dress with her.

I know he won't hurt her, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept. I never thought she'd let him win.

There are some things better left unsaid, but those are the kind of things that eat away at you until you think you'll go crazy with the knowledge. I know you won't tell anyone, John.

Clarice is in love with a monster. (There. I said it.) Bet you never thought we'd ever see that day come, huh?

I need to figure out how I'm going to explain her disappearance. Before I go, I have a favor to ask. Keep an eye on our Clarice, okay? You're her last angel.


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