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Involving Lisbeth Salander, Dr. Anders Jonasson was as perplexed as anyone.
She had left Sahlgrenska hospital in June. She was trialed in July for sixteen separate offenses, but by some miracle was acquitted. Anders watched the news coverage for a week after the trial ended.
Then she dropped off the map. Her lawyer, Annika Giannini, couldn't even find her. Rumor was she'd gone abroad. TV and newspapers promptly forgot about her, seeing as they couldn't call her a Lesbian Satanist anymore.
Anders still thought about her. He kept on at Sahlgrenska, still enduring the graveyard shift. It was never quite as exciting as that night in April, when he got to perform brain surgery on a patient that actually fully recovered, and the resulting drama. From Zalachenko getting blown away (which surprised the shit out of Anders), to telling Peter Teleborian to get lost for a woman he didn't know at all, to smuggling in PDA under the nose of an armed security guard.
She was the most interesting patient he ever had. He sometimes wondered if they could have been friends, if they'd had more time.
In February, he picked up his mobile and saw he had two missed calls, both made during his shift, around three in the morning. He didn't recognize the number, and whoever it was hadn't left a message.
He rubbed his eyes, slipped his phone into his pants pocket, and hoped that he wouldn't fall asleep while biking home.
He sleep walked up the stairs, missing the key hole twice before he managed to get his apartment door open. He resisted the urge to fall into bed, but being the neat guy he was, hung up his coat in the hallway first.
Anders flicked on the overhead light, and then nearly jumped out of his skin.
Sitting at his kitchen table was a tried looking Lisbeth Salander.
"Jesus Christ!" He put a hand over his rapidly beating heart. "Holy shit..."
Her hair was still short, since it had been mostly shaved off for brain surgery. She loose black linen pants and a white button up shirt. Her black eyes had dark circles ringing them. She was smoking a cigarette.
"Sorry." She said. Anders didn't think she sounded particularly sorry.
Stunned, his tongue deserted him. He stared at her.
"I tried to call." She snubbed out her cigarette. "You didn't pick up."
Somehow she had found his mobile number, and then his address. He had some inkling that she was good computers (why else would Mikael Blomkvist have wanted him to smuggle in a Palm Tungsten T3?), but how good, he didn't know. He wasn't an idiot.
"I was working." He managed to choke out. "Sorry."
She rose from her perch on the edge of the seat. Sometimes he forgot just how tiny she was. If he didn't know her, and someone described her personality to him, he'd think she was six feet tall and 150 lbs. She had, after all, beaten the shit out of Magge Lundin and Sonny Nieminen, the leaders of the biker gang Svavelsjo MC. The was 4'11" and couldn't have been over 90 lbs.
He stared at her as she approached him soundlessly.
He had to admit, he was happy to see she was okay. She had disappeared for so long, he had hoped she hadn't been killed or injured. But here she was, completely healthy, in his kitchen at four in the morning.
"What are you doing here?" He says, when she's a foot away from him.
She grins lopsidedly at him. What a funny expression.
Without warning she steps forward and presses her lips to his. He's caught off guard for a moment, and doesn't reciprocate, but then recovers. He's ok with this.
m m m
Mikael Blomkvist was half asleep.
His TV was on, the news blaring. It was six in the morning. Monica Figuerola was napping on his couch, her feet in his lap. Her blonde hair was mussed, and she wore very little clothing.
He had talked to Salander three days ago. She had awkwardly asked for his advice on how to get reporters to leave her alone. Most still thought she lived on Lundagatan, though she spent all her time at Fiskargatan 9. But if she went out it was almost a guarantee that some journalist would recognize her and try to rope her into a interview. Blomkvist had told her she was doing the right thing—just ignoring them until they got bored.
It was in this way that he'd found out she had returned to her job at Milton Security, once again doing the research that she found interesting, given to her by Dragan Armansky.
They had a tentative friendship. It was not warm or smiley (and certainly not romantic), but they respected and trusted eachother, which was all that Blomkvist could ask for.
m m m
Anders Jonasson was awake, staring at the ceiling.
Lisbeth Salander was asleep on her stomach next to him, splayed out in his bed. She was a messy sleeper, he had learned.
It was the seventh time this had happened.
Sometimes she'd call, sometimes she'd just show up at his apartment in Goteborg. He didn't have any idea what was going on, but he was realizing he definitely didn't have a problem with it.
That was the thing—she didn't just show up for sex. She'd stay for the rest of that day, until his shift started at eight in the evening. He liked her company, even though she was strange.
He didn't know if this counted a relationship. He knew he wasn't seeing other people—it wasn't his style to try to get with as many women as possible—but he was afraid to ask her. Coaxing information out of her was a delicate process. Go to far and she'd shut her mouth for the rest of the night. But they had some measure of trust. After all, he had, literally, seen inside her head. And held Teleborian and the police at bay. And bended the law to get her her PDA.
He just enjoyed it while he could. Held onto the thread of hope that they were exclusive. But he doubted that was Lisbeth's style.
m m m
"Do you ever sleep?" He asked her.
She sat at her desk, laptop open, the bright screen reflected in her black eyes.
"No." She said, completely deadpan. It was four thirty in the morning. She was on the CNN international news site, half watching a pod cast playing in the left hand corner of the page.
Anders was lying in her bed at Fiskargatan 9. He had the weekend off, and had finally convinced her to let him come see her in Stockholm rather than her driving out to Goteborg.
Her apartment was impressive. And he liked the name on the plate on her door—V. Kulla. He got the Astrid Lindgren reference immediately. He had looked around and almost laughed at the enormity of the apartment, and how only three rooms were furnished.
It was Sunday morning now. He'd have to leave by noon.
"Come here." He said, after watching her for a moment.
She looked at him with something that might have been endearment, and then crawled back under the covers and into his arms.
m m m
Lisbeth was twenty seven years old. Anders was thirty three, in March. He was good doctor, but he knew she was infinitely smarter than him on any subject she chose to apply herself to. It was because of this that Anders knew better than to try to control Lisbeth Salander in anyway. She was very much her own woman.
They were at his apartment when her mobile rang. It was Mikael Blomkvist, with some shred of news that she had missed. She immediately booted up her computer and checked the business headline of a Swedish news network.
The CEO of a Swiss clothes manufacturer was arrested today, for alleged arms dealings with with a local gang. One of the major investors, British lawyer Jeremy MacMillan, is currently under investigation.
"Shit." Salander muttered. MacMillan had a practice in Gibraltar, and she had enlisted his services when she needed someone to handle the huge sum of money she had stolen from Hans-Erik Wennerström several years before. She gave him freedom to invest where he thought wise, and paid him a handsome salary, and in return he monitored and handled the finances of Wasp Enterprises. That decision was shaping up to be a mistake.
She snatched up her mobile, and bought a plane ticket to Malaga, where she would connect to Gibraltar. The flight left in four hours.
She put on easy, inconspicuous clothes, and shoes she would walk in. She packed a shoulder bag with the necessities that should hold her about a week. She already had a plan unfolding in her mind, and with luck everything would be taken care of soon. She'd have to reassess the pros and cons of working with MacMillan, though.
Anders had been silent all this time, after she'd cryptically explained what she was going off to do. He knew her finances may not be legally acquired, but also knew she was clever enough to cover her tracks. If this is what she had to do, then he sure as hell was not gonna hold her back.
Just as she was heading out the door, he grabbed her by the wrist, and pulled her into a hug before she could kick him in the head. There was an awkward moment before she lightly returned the gesture.
"Be safe." He told her.
Not surprisingly, she didn't answer.
m m m
"Scissors." Jonasson's request was met swiftly by a nurse.
He gracefully cut the end of the string, the neat line of stitches complete.
The patient was a man, about thirty five, who had been stabbed in a bar early in the morning. Lucky for him, no vital organs had been punctured, and wound had been simply a matter of sewing the skin back together. They'd release the guy in a few hours, once he'd sobered up.
Jonasson checked around, and found no patients in need of his help. He headed toward the staff room, made himself some coffee, and then settled in on one of the couches to check the news on his mobile, as he did roughly ever hour he could.
It was his way of easing any anxiety surrounding Lisbeth's impromptu trip to Gibraltar. If her funds had been discovered, it would have been front page news. If Jeremy MacMillan had turned up dead, it would have been front page news. If Lisbeth Salander had turned up dead, it would have been front page news. The media was all too eager to start writing about her again.
He checked the major news affiliates thoroughly, but found nothing with the name Salander mentioned, except for a book listing that included Mikael Blomkvist, Malin Eriksson, and Henry Cortez's The Section. It gave a brief synopsis of the book, which Anders had already read.
He let out his breath, and took a swig of his coffee.
m m m
Mikael Blomkvist wandered home from the Millennium offices around seven in the evening.
Bellmansgatan was quiet and peaceful, and the cool breeze smelled fresh. He took a moment to relish it before stepping into his shared apartment.
Monica Figuerola was in her running gear, and heading out just as he was coming in. She kissed him quickly before jogging out onto the street.
He slung his bag down on the kitchen table, and yanked out his laptop before heading over to the desk in the corner. His home page was a news cite, and the headline made him smile.
Jeremy MacMillan charges dismissed.
And then, as a sub heading:
Lawyer has documentation proving he had no knowledge of company's criminal dealings.
Lisbeth Salander knew how to handle a situation. She was no doubt on her way back to Sweden.
He opened a new word document, and named it To Sally. Then he started typing.
I'm going to marry Monica. I never thought I'd want to get married again, but I'm sure this time. I've ended the affair with Erika. I know we're not involved anymore, and I don't expect us to be, but I thought you should be the first to know.
He hoped she'd check her copy of his hard drive soon. He reached inside his desk drawer, and pulled out the small velvet box.
A few minutes later, Monica returned home, and Blomkvist was waiting for her.
m m m
Lisbeth was content.
As it happened, matters in Gibraltar were an easy fix. Some hacking and false documents and the peace was restored. MacMillan actually hadn't known the company he was investing in was involved in criminal activity. One dumb ass decision was all.
She gave him a very stern warning. This could not happen again. And if it did, he'd wish he'd never been born. She'd make sure of it. They were technically business partners in Wasp Enterprises, and bad decisions could not be tolerated.
But the crisis was averted, and she took a flight back to Sweden as soon as the articles had come out claiming MacMillan's innocence.
At home at Fiskargatan 9, she undressed and slept for a full twenty four hours straight. She woke a two in the afternoon, and headed down to the nearby convenience store to buy bread, milk, cheese, cigarettes, and Billy's Pan Pizza. Back upstairs, she flicked on her laptop.
Instead of checking her email, something made her stop. She clicked instead on the folder marked Asphyxia, and down to the file marked MikBlom. She opened his desktop, and immediately saw the centrally placed document entitled To Sally.
Her eyes widened as she read it.
Blomkvist and Figuerola.
What kind of parallel universe had she fallen into?
She felt nothing. No regret. No longing. She felt safe enough to say that she was over him. What a relief. She'd spent far too long wishing she could be with him.
Not many friends of hers got married. She knew too many douche bags.
m m m
Anders was ambling home from Konsum when his mobile rang.
He fumbled around for a moment, switching the bags from hand to hand as he searched for his phone. He was in scrubs, but these days there was rarely a time when he wasn't.
He answered it quickly, not bothering to look at the Caller ID.
"Jonasson." He greeted.
"Oh...hi. I saw the papers."
"Yeah, I'm back in Sweden now. Everything's sorted out."
"Are you working this weekend?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Thirty-six hour shift."
"When do you get off?"
"I'll meet you at your apartment."
m m m
Lisbeth had breakfast made for her, which was an unusual occurrence.
She was halfway through her fried egg when she felt Anders' tired eyes on her. She looked up with an eyebrow raised.
"Something's on your mind."
She stared at him blankly.
"You don't have to tell me. I was just observing."
She bit her lip, and broke eye contact.
Anders gave up and returned to his food.
"Mikael Blomkvist is getting married." She said after a while.
"Really?" Interest sparked in his eyes.
"And you're still in love with him?" His voice was quieter.
She gave him a sharp look. "No."
"But it bothers you."
"No, it doesn't. I'm happy for them." It was the truth, but she knew it sounded like a lie.
"I'm serious." She said.
"I don't love him."
He reached gently across the table, and took her hand with a smile. She did not recoil. Instead, she smiled back crookedly.