Making a List


Freddie’s finger jerks. Her keyboard glitches at the exact same moment, and an ever-expanding line of g’s starts to scroll across the screen. She hastily hits the delete button, which seems to snap the ancient laptop out of it, and glances up.

The guy from last night is cautiously descending the stairs. He’s a cop, and Freddie has managed to cultivate a taste for sleeping with cops out of necessity, but breakfasting with them is a whole different thing.

“Hi,” she says, trying to inject just enough warmth into her voice that he won’t immediately wonder why she no longer gives a shit about him now that they’ve had a confidentiality-breaking pillow talk session, but not so much that he thinks he’s invited to stay any longer.

Apparently she misjudges it, because the dude comes around to sit next to her at the table inside. Freddie hastily closes the excel document she had been working on, leaving open the decoy tab, scrolled down to halfway down the front page of the New York Times, as if she were just a normal person reading the news over coffee. Freddie has become too used to having a decoy tab ready to be switched to on her laptop not to use it when when she thinks she’s alone.

“I really enjoyed… getting to know you last night,” says the guy, nearly shy. She can’t remember his name, which she considers more of a problem in terms of file categorization than in terms of interpersonal interaction. Christ, how old is this one? He barely even looks legal, especially with the weird puppy-dog eyes he’s sporting now. They don’t let teenagers be cops, right? Freddie didn’t think they did, but it’s entirely possible. If she were a little more at loose ends, perhaps she’d make an investigation into it.

Then, because this is the worst morning ever, he glances at her screen and says, “Oh hey, you’re like, a writer, right? Are you on there? Do you wake up every morning and go look at your name in the newspaper?”

Freddie has always considered it rather unfortunate that she was given, by whatever vindictive higher power hands out physical characteristics, such a diminutive body. She has often considered that she would probably be extremely good at beating the shit out of people, if only she came close to matching the weight class of anyone that she would like to beat up. She could learn anyway, she realizes– some martial arts are specifically designed to help a smaller body get leverage over a larger one– but she’s never been all that inclined to spend effort in areas that she isn’t naturally talented in. Usually, she doesn’t regret having bent her talents towards the pen, supposedly mightier than the sword.

But sometimes the sword sounds pretty damn good. Okay, sometimes punching someone in the face sounds pretty damn good. But then her hand would hurt for days, and she doesn’t have that kind of downtime.

“Yeah,” she says instead, raising the pitch of her voice and talking a little faster. “Yeah, I _love _seeing my name in print. It just makes me feel good, you know? It feels like a man who knows how to treat you like a princess.”

The kid-cop blanches. Apparently every bro wants a chick who’s creative, but nobody wants one who’s high-maintenance. “Cool,” he says, a bit less enthusiastically.

“The last guy I dated was, like, totally unsupportive,” she continues. “But just like, women have to have their own voice, you know? It’s so nice to meet someone who’s just into me being a girlboss.” She smashes two fingers of each hand together in a crude imitation of a hash symbol.__

It doesn’t take long after that. “Anyway, I’ll, uh, leave you to it,” the guy stammers, and quickly collects the rest of his shit from her room. Freddie breathes a sigh of relief as the door slams shut.__

She gets up from the kitchen table and goes to lock it, then stares out the window at the row of peaceful brick houses down the street. It’s been nice, having a house of her own; she’d never stayed in one place for long enough to consider something as impractical as accumulating furniture, but now things are different. She no longer requires instant mobility quite so much as she once did; now what she needs is a home base, a place to keep private information, a quiet spot to think and make connections.__

She’d thought Jack was nuts, at first, when he’d approached her. Mostly because she’d assumed that he would no longer have a job, after the cock-up with the Dragon. But it seems that he knows too much of the FBI’s business to be let go quite that quickly; and furthermore, his last two consultants having absconded off of a cliff together, he was in the market for a new one.

She’s not a replacement for Graham and Lecter; not allowed at crime scenes at all, actually, but the investigation she’s doing has no active crime scenes. Apparently there is enough in the budget for exactly one FBI employee to actively investigate the outlandish notion that Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham might still be alive, and that employee is Freddie Lounds.

Hell, she’d be doing it anyway. The FBI is just paying her expenses, this time, and for their money, Jack Crawford gets all the articles that would formerly have ended up on sent privately to his email inbox instead. The site keeps chugging along, powered by a couple interns with even more lurid styles than her. Hell, if Lecter was allowed to bring up his little stable of psychos unimpeded, there’s no reason Freddie shouldn’t.

She returns to her computer, her spreadsheets of reported sightings and far-flung deaths and sources. She’s making a list of contacts to follow up with in South America, and a completely different thread leading to Italy. It’s good work. Exciting work. And in some sense, truly her work; it has not escaped her notice that everyone else who had contact with Graham or Lecter during the period of their acquaintance had something terrible happen to them. Even the survivors– Jack Crawford with the scar on his neck and his wedding ring still on his finger, Frederick Chilton, whose skin used to be someone else’s, and Alana Bloom, wherever the hell she is– everyone else paid the price.

Except Freddie. She cannot know for sure, but she feels, deep down, that she is the only one for whom there will be no price.