Categories > Books > Hannibal > Daylight Dies
A/N: This is a fic about revenge. As such, it will get nasty. If you don’t like violence, you probably want to hit the back button.
Disclaimer: The characters you recognise are the property of Thomas Harris. No copyright infringement intended. I’m only playing with them, and I’ll put them back when I’m done.
When it came, it was without warning.
The doctor spun her in his arms, the skirts of her gown flaring out behind her. A tiny crack, like a twig breaking in the distance and the doctor’s head snapped back in a spray of gore.
He took an eternity to fall, slipping away from her arms, a smile still upon his lips.
Instincts honed by training and circumstance took over, and Starling dived for the floor, rolling away from the body. A bullet pinged off against the while stone slabs where she had lately been standing, spraying up a cloud of mica dust and chips. She saw everything, slow motion and as clear as crystal.
Men in grey fatigues, one below amidst the begonias, another moved through the lengthening shadows towards the pool.
Where there were two, there would be more.
Starling wriggled on her belly and elbows, ignoring the effect upon her exquisite gown. She wriggled towards the doctor who lay broken on the terrace, his arm flung out at an awkward angle. Another bullet shattered one of the open French doors, showering the room within in broken glass.
They were shooting blind, Starling knew. They couldn’t possibly see her from the ground.
Starling reached her objective. He was still warm, still lifelike save for the small entry wound on his right temple. She didn’t look closer, knowing all too well what she would see if she did. Her hands flew over his chest, slipping into the breast pocket of his blooded jacket. Nothing.
Footsteps now, and the sound of voices. Were they in the house, too?
The inside pocket held results, and with a feral smile that her former comrades in the FBI would not have recognised, Starling crawled on hands and knees towards the doors. Congealing blood and dirt caked the lower skirts of her dress where she had crouched over Lecter, now she encountered broken glass.
The voices were closer, deep and masculine. And American.
Starling’s eyes narrowed. They were not within the master bedroom yet. Ignoring the splinters of glass that sent icy slivers of pain shooting up her hands and knees, she completed her crawl for cover. Gaining the safety of the master bedroom, out of the line of sight of those in the garden below, Starling swiftly and silently took up a position by the bedroom door. It was ajar.
Her heart thundered in her chest, the blood rushing in her ears. Not fear, no, but a furious anger. Later, that would turn to grief, but not yet.
She risked a quick glance through the gap in the door. Movement on the stairs.
She slowed her breathing, trying to control the racing of her heart. He had never been troubled by nerves or an excess of adrenaline, but she had never truly mastered the trick.
A pair of balaclava masked men advanced down the hallway, checking each dark panelled door.
Starling’s lips drew back, revealing her teeth in unconscious predatory anticipation. She could not know, but the expression on her face would have frightened most. It bore an uncanny resemblance to Dr Lecter’s most coldly calculating smile.
The rustle of cloth, the quiet tread of boots on thick carpet, the quiet breathing of stealthy men. Starling could hear it all.
A floorboard creaked just outside the bedroom door, and a booted foot kicked it open. It bounced back off the panelled walls, and as the man stepped in, Starling reacted. She surged forwards from the opposite side of the doorframe. With her left forearm, she pushed the man’s assault rifle away. Her right hand flashed out in an arc of silver. He went down, gurgling and kicking, and Starling snatched up his gun. She put two bullets into his partner before he even had time to register that is had all gone terribly wrong indeed.
Arterial spray coated her face and hands and breasts, her gown was ruined and two men twitched out the last of their life on the priceless Persian carpet.
Starling wiped the blood from her face. Its copper tang coated her lips and she licked them clean. To taste her enemy only fuelled her anger, but she had to keep a clear head.
A quick search of the bodies revealed no identification, but Starling took a 9mm Glock from the second corpse. It was a serviceable sidearm, blocky and reliable. It was also fully loaded. Dr Lecter’s Harpy, she slipped into the bodice of her gown.
She had to leave the house. Voices downstairs, louder than before. They must have heard the bullets.
Starling kicked off her heels and headed for the terrace.
Outside, twilight was falling and Dr Lecter’s corpse was just a dark shape on the pale stone. She didn’t look at it as she silently crossed the terrace. It wasn’t him any more, he was gone.
No bullets twanged off the stonework, no shapes moved in the garden below, that she could see. She had to risk it.
Starling swung over the stone balustrade, her bare feet scrabbling for purchase against the stone. There was a light trellis below the terrace, not strong enough to bear her weight for long, but long enough to get to the ground. Her feet found wood and living plants, and she began to climb down.
The flimsy construction creaked and swayed out from the wall. Quickly, Starling descended in a shower of broken twigs and dead leaves. The last few feet, she jumped and landed in a crouch amongst the clematis.
Down in the garden away from the house lights the darkness was nearly complete. Keeping to the bushes, Starling crept down the side of the great house,. There was a postern gate in the garden wall that gave access to a narrow side street behind the property. Ancient ivy almost hid it from sight, and she hoped the invaders did not know it was there.
By the pool now, and she skirted the pool house, wary of the floodlight.
Her bare feet were cold and wet, cut by glass and coated in congealed blood , so she made more noise than she should have as she came to a thicket of ornamental Japanese cherry trees. A shadow beyond moved, and Starling ducked down in the dark as gunshots boomed out across the lawn. Swearing under her breath, she searched the area over the sights of her Glock.
There. A man-shape, the slightest clink of metal against metal. She fired once, twice and with a feminine cry of pain, the figure crashed down into the leaf mulch and dirt.
Starling didn’t hesitate. She hurled herself into the thicket, past the gnarled trunks of the elderly trees, over the body on the ground. She rather thought something warm tried to seize her ankle, but she kicked out hard and carried on.
The garden wall loomed up out of the darkness, its ancient brickwork and ghostly grey ivy a welcome sight. Hauling gnarled and twisted ropes of ivy away from the crumbling bricks, she quickly uncovered the door. A loose brick beside it provided a convenient hiding place for the key, and Starling felt a rush of relief that she didn’t expect when she found it still there.
The lock was stiff. Gritting her teeth, she forced the rusty key round, and the gate creaked open. Starling slipped through the cobwebbed aparture and into the night beyond. She did not know where she would go, or what she would do, but she did know that someone, somewhere was going to intimately regret the events of the evening.
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