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Behind Masks; Before Bars

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There is a wall in Jack Crawford's office that had been dedicated solely to the Hannibal Lecter case. On it had been pictures of the man known to the press as the Chesapeake Ripper and numerous newspaper clippings detailing an array of his most infamous crimes, as well as photographic examples of his handiwork. But with the emergence of another killer, one closer to home and much more active than his predecessor currently is, the Lecter memorabilia has long since been replaced with material on this new case.

Starling sits opposite Crawford, the desk between them piled high with paperwork. A thick case file rests atop a small mountain of papers; it is the one thing that draws Starling's eyes from the wall, where gruesome autopsy photos of Buffalo Bill's five known victims are tacked over a large map showing where their partially flayed corpses were found.

“When is your appointment with Dr. Du Maurier?”

“Four o'clock tomorrow. Can I ask why you were so insistent I speak with her?”

“I thought you had an interest in this case, Starling.”

“I do, sir.”

A pause. “I want to know if she's remembered anything else about her time with Lecter.”

Eyeing the file, filled with the sparse notes from numerous other agents, Starling asks, “Do you suspect she may be withholding information?”

“I have no evidence to say either way, but she has lied to us in the past. I don't doubt she will lie to you.” He taps the end of his pen against the desk, watching her face but avoiding her eyes. She notices his own are bloodshot, sunken in, likely the result of many sleepless nights. “You're familiar with Lecter's mind games?”

“As much as I can be through reading over the file.”

“Well, keep whatever you've learnt in mind while talking to Dr. Du Maurier.”

“Do you believe she's dangerous?”

His eyes lower to the pen, still tapping rhythmically against the desk. He stills his hand, sets the pen down. “I apply to her the same caution I applied to Lecter. Not because I believe she is like him, but because I believe she has the capability to become like him. You wouldn't underestimate him, Starling. So don't underestimate her.”

She wants to ask again why he requested her and not someone more qualified. Though undoubtably grateful for the opportunity, she wonders why he does not send a fully qualified field agent, someone with experience in dealing with similar cases. Perhaps it is because he doubts Du Maurier will talk to anyone, so there would be no point in sending someone who could, given the chance, use their time for more important things, her education at Quantico be damned.

Regardless of Crawford's intentions, she is curious - has been ever since she read the story on TattleCrime, though she wonders how accurate the version told by Freddie Lounds is. Pieces of the story never quite seemed to make sense, never seemed to fit with each other, as though stitched together with half-truths and outright lies. She wants to know the truth of it, if not for anything else then for the sake of personal edification.

"Be careful around her, Agent Starling."

Her eyes widen slightly. "I will. Thank you, sir."

He nods quickly. “I want your report on my desk on Monday, 0900 hours. Not a minute later.” He looks down at his watch. "Better get back to class, Starling. And don’t be late for your appointment with Du Maurier; she’s refused to see agents over less.”