He sees her first across the crime scene, silhouetted in a streetlamp and crushing a cigarette butt beneath one leather platform boot. She slips off a motorcycle helmet as she walks closer; he catches a glimpse of wild black hair.
She walks up to the police line. One officer holds it up for her but she still reaches, lifting it up too as she slides under. He makes no effort to hide his stare.
She hunches her shoulders and goes straight for Jack, who beckons Will over before greeting her with his hand held out. She ignores it, and Jack’s face doesn’t change as he lowers his arm. “You must be Miss Lisbeth Salander.”
Her tongue works in her mouth. Will hears the clack of a piercing. “I am.”
“My name is Jack Crawford. This is Will Graham,” Jack says, gesturing to Will.
She nods curtly. “I know who you are.” Will places the accent after a moment: Swedish, the strange inflections and slow roll of her consonants falling from her lips almost musically.
Neither she nor Will look each other in the eye, but he can feel her cataloguing him even as he catalogues her: he absorbs the black around her eyes, the feathery tips of her mohawk, the assortment of buckles on her jacket and the stained ends of her baggy cargo pants. He sees bulges in the pockets, identifies them as two knives and a can of mace. She radiates indifference, yet her presence weighs on him almost as much as Dr. Lecter’s.
“If you would follow me, Miss Salander.” Jack moves behind her; she flinches, but only slightly. Will is, against his better judgment, fascinated.
They make eye contact once, briefly, as she is leaving.
Will stays awake thinking about the darkness he sees there.
“Are you sexually attracted to her?” Hannibal asks, leaning forward in his seat.
Will shrugs, ignoring the fact that yes, he had spent some time last night thinking about the folds of the fabric in the space between her thighs. “It’s not about that. It’s…she’s...magnetic. She reminds me of – of someone.”
He had almost said myself, a slip of which both of them are keenly aware. Hannibal nods. “Do you consider her a puzzle?”
“I know what it’s like to have someone trying to piece you together,” Will responds dryly. He stares at the paisley embroidery on Hannibal’s tie. “I wouldn’t want to do that to her. I want to just…just talk.”
“Talking is always the beginning, Will.” Hannibal’s voice is soft. Will looks at the curve of hair behind his ear. “Talk enough, and the actions will follow.”
The pressure of Hannibal’s gaze on his back as he leaves the room stays with Will through the walk to his car, the drive to his house, and the clench of his fingers around his cock in the shower, mind flitting back and forth between two pairs of dark eyes.
He and she are irrefutably drawn to each other – Will feels it, knows it as well as he knows his own name – but it is three days before he talks to Lisbeth.
Or, really, before she talks to him.
“I brought you coffee,” he hears from behind him, and he spins around at the desk. She seems to have expected to startle him, because she doesn’t apologise; just holds the cup out to Will. She looks him in the eye as he takes it. “I assumed you like it black.”
"Thank you." He does. “So, are you police?”
Lisbeth snorts, moving papers from the side of Will’s desk before pulling a laptop out of her messenger bag, setting it down. “No. Jack asked me to consult with him on this case. I was in the States anyway.”
Her sentences are clipped, perfunctory. She gives nothing away. Will feels self-conscious as he raises the coffee to his lips, looking back at his own computer. Lisbeth must notice his unease, because when she next speaks, he hears what might be the faintest tinge of an apology lacing her tone. “I am from Sweden. I am usually brought on to consult with local law enforcement or private companies on matters of a more sensitive nature.” She pauses. Will sees what might be a little smile on her face before she turns, facing her laptop. “Although some might prefer the term ‘illegal’.”
She puts on her headphones, ending the conversation. Soon the soft clicking of keys sounds in the room.
Will takes another sip of coffee.
He accompanies Jack to where Lisbeth is staying, mind whirling with new details of the case and the feeling of blood and bone and viscera beneath his hands.
She answers the door in a torn grey tank top and loose black pants. Will maps the precise black outlines of a hornet on her neck, a loop on her bicep, and - when she turns around - he is fascinated by the sinuous curl of a dragon, mouth open and claws imprinted forever on the expanse of her scapula.
(Lisbeth catches him looking when she glances over her shoulder. She doesn’t look angry, merely contemplative.)
On the drive back, Jack looks at Will. “She’s definitely different.” he says, sounding as though he’s striving for conversation. “In a lot of ways.”
Will looks out the window. “In every way.”
Jack doesn’t speak again.
This time, it is she that shows up at his door, just as the sun crests into the sky. Will answers in boxers and a thin white sleep shirt, eyes heavy from another night spent caught in the throes of insomnia.
She pushes him back as she enters. He hits the wall and suddenly she is in front of him, eyes dark and searching before she takes off her shirt and pants – quickly, efficiently. Will is still trying to process the delicate planes of her pale body, compared to what he knows of how tough she is, when her hands grasp his shoulders and she tilts her hips into his. He inhales sharply.
“Um, I – I don’t think –”
“Good. Don’t.” She says calmly, and pulls him down for a kiss.
Lisbeth is animalistic in the bedroom, teeth and nails leaving bruises peppered across Will’s body. They fall onto the bed, Will on top, and she digs her nails into his back as he kisses down her stomach.
He dips his face between her thighs and she gasps, arching. Will digs his thumbs into the sharp points of her hipbones and closes his eyes; drags the flat of his tongue across her clit and listens to her hiss.
Her first orgasm is evident by the unabashed volume of her moans, hips jerking into his mouth. Will barely has time to lick her through it before she is pulling on his hair impatiently, bringing him up for a kiss. Her thighs are shaking.
She sits up and pushes Will down, straddling him. She slides onto him easily, and they both moan when he enters her heat.
“Wait - condom -” Will pants, thrusting up even as he says it. She tilts forward, palms on his chest and hips working on his.
“Don’t need one,” she says simply, and brings his hands to her breasts. He palms at them, rolling a nipple between his fingers before sitting up himself, catching one in his mouth. She is gasping on top of him, hands wrapped almost painfully in his hair.
He moves one hand to her back, fingers splayed over where he knows the dragon to be waiting, and lets the other hand fall between their bodies, fingers swiping along her wetness. She shudders, head bowed, and comes, muscles clenching around his cock.
When she sinks her teeth into Will’s shoulder, he follows her with a cry, abandoning himself to the warmth of her body.
(After, she smokes in bed; lies next to Will with a thin sheen of sweat on her skin and offers him a drag. The room smells like cigarettes for three days.)
(Will doesn’t mind.)
epilogue: tyger, tyger, burning bright
“You can try therapy but I assure you that it will not work,” Lisbeth says, meeting Hannibal’s gaze with a challenging stare. He shrugs.
“I am not trying to psychoanalyse you, Miss Salander. I just find you fascinating.” She hunches her shoulders. He wonders if she notices. “I would like to talk.”
She is beautiful in the light of his lamps, looking almost comically out of place surrounded by the carefully arranged decadence of his office. She is uncomfortable, but doing a valiant job of hiding it. Indeed, Hannibal doubts anyone else would notice. She really does remind him of Will, a fact he has already figured out how to use to his advantage.
She pauses before she answers. “What do you want to talk about?” She walks away from him, looking at the paintings on the walls.
Hannibal smiles. “I would like to talk about Will Graham.”
Lisbeth blinks once, twice.
Hannibal welcomes a puzzle.