A girl runs through Starling's dreams. Ashy, pale hair tearing past her face in the wind as she looks back over her shoulder for the reason that she runs. The cold bringing the blood high up into her cheeks and nose, blinding her with tears forced from her eyes by the onslaught. The collar of the black duffel coat that she always, somehow, wears flying up against her throat, close enough to the skin to scratch. In the belly of the woods, she is a small dark thing.
Starling wakes in the dark with every pore in her body forcing the darkness out of her. By the fourth time that she could safely discern from reality, there wasn't even any solace in waking up, soaked and cold. Alone with her heart, Starling had to face the identity of that fleeing child, and the reason for her unceasing running.
Monday morning, the smallest of hours, and as she crept to the window, pale and slim and shaky as a madwoman, the mottled orange blots of the streetlights through the dappled glass fell on Starling's face, sent phosphates drifting down before her eyes. The urban haze of the sky, stretching on past the houses at the end of the road, beckoned her out. She had to move.
Dressing in the dark was familiar. Quietly taking her keys from the bowl they laid in, privy to the tiny clashing whine of metal on metal, Starling found her way through the duplex to the door. As she went, sunrise began to stroke at the edge of the curtains. Outside, the air was cool and abundant and Starling drank it deep into her lungs, hands shoved into her coat pockets. A drive to Quantico was not unheard of at this hour and God knows she needed the guidance and company, but she was hesitant to give Crawford her transcript of the exchange in Baltimore. No, she couldn't hand it over just yet. Starling needed to move.
What good is this ever going to do me? She thought even as she pulled into the near-empty car park of the convenience store and got out, messy in her casual clothes. Food sounded good, and the shared kitchen was running low. Doing something productive sounded great, and the idea of saving Dee another chore made her feel like this was definitely the right decision, even if she was badly abusing the limits of the '24-hour' supermarket.
Baggy trousers hanging low on her hips, hair pulled up to the back of her head, Starling draped her arms over the handrail of her trolley and pushed it through the aisles. She felt aimless, as if she was wandering somewhere far more alien than the supermarket. Her eyes moved faster than the rest of her body, scanning her surroundings, keeping her safe. She gathered what she needed and what she wanted, trying to walk the nausea out of the pit of her belly. Starling was steady in her shoes, but the way that her insides squirmed at the images printed onto her eyelids was unsettling. She couldn't shake Mischa Lecter from where she sat comfortably on Starling's mind like a deity.
The cashier who served her was dead behind the eyes, and the sympathy that they held for each other was dull and cold. Starling hoisted the bags up in her arms and left, the first sunlight breaking on her face. The cold air hit her arms and her neck and her brain flashed so violently with the woods and the dark duffel coat that she almost cried, almost dropped her bags. She felt like a Maenad. She felt ridden with strife. So small are the things that send her to ruin, so lightly does she tread around herself when it's dark. She needs something she doesn't want to acknowledge; that she doesn't even want.
Starling is not one to be overcome, and a part of her broke when she heard herself whisper through her teeth; "I have to go to Baltimore."