I so love these two and the strangest plot bunnies hit me when it comes to them.
Lisbeth clutched the black garment bag tightly against her chest and stood as still as possible. If she was really lucky he wouldn't turn and see her standing in the middle of the street looking like the pathetically lonely odd girl she was.
If she were lucky, he wouldn't ever know that she loved him. But Lisbeth had learned long ago that people like her were never fortunate and almost never lucky. She should have known. He had Erika why would he want her.
He had never said they were exclusive and it never occurred to her that she should mention that she didn't want to share him.
She shifted her body and let the cold swirling around her enter and envelope her heart. Mikael was just a stupid idea in her stupid head.
Lisbeth turned around and walked away from everything he represented. She wanted nothing more to do with him or his kind. She threw the bag in the garbage and mounted up. She dropped the helmet over her head and heard the gravel and snow crunching together in unison.
She kicked started the bike hurriedly but a hand on her arm stopped her from taking off. She turned and met the eyes of Erika Berger. Lisbeth shoved her off and the woman stumbled backwards into the trash bin and hooked her hand onto the garment bag Lisbeth had hoped she'd miss.
Erika fell and the expensive black leather jacket in its black plastic cocoon fell right into her lap.
With a shriek of rage, Lisbeth launched herself off the bike and ripped it from her hands before the other woman could figure out what the bag held and why it was important.
This was not Erika's and would never be. It belongs to her and she would not let the other woman ever lay her hands on it. It was at this brief moment of trivial sentimentality that she heard Mikael approach them.
"Are you ok?" he said.
Lisbeth strapped the bag to her bike trying not to watch him act the knight and help the other woman out of the inch deep snow. She didn't want to be here. She didn't need to be here and she'd be damned if she'd let them see her falling apart like this.
"I asked if you're ok."
Despite herself she waited to hear Erika's response but it wasn't what she was expecting.
"He's talking to you, Salander."
Lisbeth remained frozen with her back to them. Maybe if she didn't say anything they would just leave her and she could go back to her misery in peace.
"Do you want me to wait?"
"No, go on. Tell Annika that I'll be there in the morning." He responded and she heard the snow and gravel crunch again, only this time it was moving away.
"Are you going to tell me what that was about out?" he asked quietly.
She was frozen, half on and half off. Her head in its black helmet giving her more privacy than she needs. "I don't like to be grabbed."
"I'll make sure to tell Erika that the next time."
"If you want." Lisbeth answers and this time she has purpose and the bike roars to life reminding her that she has a choice. She can leave him here. She doesn't have to stay. He can't make her.
"Will you let me come with you?" he asks.
"I'll drop you off." She answers gruffly.
He nods or she thinks he must have agreed in some silent Mikael way because the bike is lower and her back is a lot warmer than it was a few seconds ago. He grips her waist comfortably as if he rides with her everyday.
She would like to shrug him off and dump him on his ass in the snow but she has a soft spot for him that makes it difficult for her to be a complete bitch. "Don't hug me."
"I'm not. I've never been on a motorcycle before. I don't want to fall." He says and does not relax his hold one bit, if anything it tightens and she tells herself that it means nothing.
They go down the road at much higher speeds than necessary and arrive at his home faster than he anticipated. "You want to come in?" he asks not getting off the bike until he has an answer.
He knows that much about her. She runs at first chance of genuine emotion. It scares her more than any violence ever could. "Lisbeth. Come in."
"Why? Give me a good reason." He says and she wonders if she can really give him one he'll buy.
"I don't want to." It's a good a reason as any.
"I know that. I'm asking you to." She shakes her head and he gets off the bike reluctantly. "If I call you, will you answer?"
He sighs in annoyance but smiles at her anyway. In that moment she hates him more than she loves him. She hates him for making her do things that she'd never do. Hates him for making her vulnerabilities come out of hiding to do his bidding.
"Where do I put my bike?" she asks.
"Bring it into the house. A little snow won't hurt my floors too badly."
She gets off and walks it in. They prop it against the wall and she waits in the hallway as he locks the doors. She's never been in his home before. She feels awkward.
"You're not thinking of leaving now are you?"
"Does it look like I am?" she retorts.
"Yes it does." He says and walks further into the house leaving her and her thoughts alone.
She should leave. She could open the door and drag her bike out and he'd never stop her. She knows him well. He won't force her to do anything. He respects her that much, at least. She walks to her means of escape but the crumpled black bag tells her, she won't go.
"I'd really like it if you didn't go. It's snowing pretty hard."
Lisbeth grabs the bag and tosses it at him. "I'm not leaving."
"Good," he catches it. "What is it?"
He does. He says nothing. He only examines it and caresses and stares at it in wonder.
"You don't like it." She says and tries to pull it out of his hands.
There's a brief tug of war between them but it ends when he pulls too hard and she drops the part of the jacket she was holding and slams her mouth against his. He moves backward and she recoils as if struck. "Lisbeth."
The jacket is on the floor and his face is inches from her before she's made two steps back. "Don't do this. Don't leave before you give me a chance."
She looks down at the floor and she knows that's she's being childish but she can't control her feelings. She'd never had to do it. "It's a present."
"I know it is. I want to know why and frankly I'd really like to know what happened between you and Erika tonight but I'm not going to force you to tell me."
He lets her go and she watches as he picks up her present and tries it on. It fits better than she thought and its clear he loves it. "I don't like being grabbed so I pushed her and she fell."
"No harm was done so…"
"She fell against the dumpster and it fell on her. I didn't want her to see it."
"Why was it in the dumpster if it was a present?" he asked but the mulish look on her face is enough to tell him not to push her. "I still like it. Though I may have to wash it first now that I've known where it's been."
"It wasn't there long." She said matter of factly.
"Yes, well. Still will wash it. Just in case."
Lisbeth shrugged and kissed him again. He put the jacket down and gave her a present of her own.
Many hours later Erika was on her way to see Mikael. Annika had texted her several times since this morning that Mikael had not arrived and given how things had been between him and the Salander girl, well let just say that Erika was concerned.
She arrived at his house and noticed that his car was still parked and clearly had not moved as it was coated with a thin layer of snow. She called his mobile but all she got was voicemail so she decided to check on him personally.
She dug her set of his keys and let herself in. "Mikael? Mikael? Are you here? Annika called, she's very worried and to be honest so am I? Hello?"
"Hello." Erika nearly had a heart attack as she spun to face the serious face of Lisbeth Salander.
"Is Mikael here?" Erika asked.
Lisbeth's answer clearly indicated that she thought Erika was very stupid. "It is his house. Where else would he be?"
"He didn't answer his mobile and I thought…"
"He slept in."
"With you." Erika surmised from Lisbeth's lack of attire and the two cups of steaming coffee she held.
"I'll be going then. Tell Mikael that Annika wants to hear from him when he gets up."
Lisbeth shouldn't have bothered to get out of bed and offer Mikael coffee. She shouldn't have bothered to answer the nosy woman but then if she hadn't, Erika wouldn't have seen that Lisbeth wore only a leather jacket and that Mikael was definitely staying home.
She closed the front door just as Mikael rounded the corner fresh from the shower and a towel wrapped around his waist, "who was that?"
"Annika says to call her." Lisbeth said with a full smile.
"Who was here?" Mikael asks her suspiciously but she only hands him his cup of coffee and he really doesn't need the answer as he spots Erika's familiar car speed off.
"I'll be staying," she said from behind him and wandered back to the bed and their warm covers.
"It was time to end it," he muttered quietly then called Annika to wish her a happy holiday, his certainly would be.