beverly katz, will graham, jack crawford, brian zeller; will x beverly (hannibal)
2013 words ; pg-13
returning the favor is a one-woman show | what makes beverly so good at her job is the fact that she has a knack for identifying the misfits. perhaps, she thinks, this is how she noticed will graham in the first place.
Sketch of your faces, I still don’t know
You aren’t permanent, permanent.
-- Nothing and Nowhere, Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton
They say dead men tell no tales.
Beverly Katz knows better.
There’s nothing more telling than a dead body. A naked, ruined dead body. With no clothes trying to define it. With bruises so brutally honest. With a fading scar on the back of its left palm from that one time the deceased was pinched by a childhood friend when they were in elementary school. With those specific marks in the ligaments that let the forensics know of the ankle injury suffered in high school. With skin flayed and ribs revealed. With a gaping hole in the head; the brain exposed. With a deep, scarlet, smiling gash across the neck; the larynx cut open.
You get the idea.
When you’ve spent as much time as Beverly Katz has in the morgue, you’ll find out that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing more generous than the dead.
What makes Beverly so good at her job is the fact that she has a knack for identifying the misfits; the anomaly; the pieces of a puzzle that aren’t where they’re supposed to be.
It’s almost scary, really, the way her eyes casually catch a lone strand of blond hair on a yellow-sheeted pillow. The way she looks and frowns and searches and searches and searches and Brian goes, “Oh, here she goes again,” and she picks a misplaced fiber with her tweezers and yelps, “Gotcha!” if only to spite him.
What’s ironic is: she can’t find the off switch.
She would watch a movie with her girlfriends and completely miss the actors’ dialogues because she happens to spot the goof in one of the scenes. And her friends squint their eyes and ask, rather accusingly, “How did you even see that?” And she shrugs.
Perhaps, she thinks, this is how she noticed Will Graham in the first place.
She came to the victim’s house with Brian and Jimmy; they weren’t the first ones to arrive, nor were they the last. They started with the living room downstairs, sweeping, collecting, brushing, dusting, combing. A camera clicked; its flash came on without a warning and startled her. She looked around her, taking in the crowd, feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden.
She stepped up the stairs.
There was a young girl lying on her bed; dead, not asleep. The nightgown she wore was crisp white and, in some parts where her blood tainted them, red. The wounds on her torso gaped open, like starving mouths whispering Beverly’s name. She glided to one side of the bed and, with her back to the door, she bent over, blinking at the wounds. And she found it: the anomaly; pieces of antler velvet that weren’t where they’re supposed to be.
Behind her, there were careful footsteps approaching. She ignored it, picking the antler velvet with her tweezers. As the footsteps came to a halt, a silhouette of a man hung on her peripheral vision, nudging her temple. She straightened herself and turned to the newcomer.
That’s when she saw him.
Here’s the thing: it was a crime scene. It was supposed to have a dead body (check). It was supposed to be bloody (check). It was supposed to be chaotic (forensics and detectives making erratic movements: check).
It wasn’t supposed to be normal.
And Will Graham was normal.
At least he was at that time: he wasn’t making any movement, he wasn’t covered in blood, he wasn’t dead.
He was a white male standing still in an old gray jacket; she knew it was old because the stitching across the shoulder seams was coming undone. There was pet hair—a dog?—clinging to the outworn fabric.
The crumpled shirt he wore underneath it, though, was the one that gave her pause.
He was wearing a red-and-white checkered shirt; a background of white being ran over by red lines. Her eyes glanced down to the girl’s blood-stained white nightgown before making their way back to the shirt, then to the top button, to the neck, to the face.
She furrowed her brows. Somewhere downstairs, the camera clicked again; through the opened bedroom door, Beverly watched as the flash lit up the hallway.
“You’re Will Graham!”
It made him jump. “You’re not supposed to be in here,” he snapped. He frowned at her, looking like he was genuinely offended by her presence.
He wouldn’t be the first one.
Still, he answered all of her questions. “Strict screening procedures,” he hissed, gulping down the few last syllables, as if trying—and failing—to stop them from coming out.
She, on the other hand, was unhindered. “You unstable?”
He kept quiet at that; she caught him heaving a relieved sigh as Jack walked in, saving him from having to provide a reply.
She thought to herself. “Well,” she thought, “this is interesting.”
Jack lets it slip.
He spits the words out in the open, as if they shouldn’t matter to anyone; to her. “He’s been talking to Hannibal.”
She misses the rest of Jack’s sentence.
A new case.
A body was found at the parking lot of an office building, so that’s where she is now. She’s currently waiting idly because she’s done her job, so have Brian and Jimmy. But Jack won’t let anyone else touch, let alone take the body away, not just yet.
Will’s not done with it yet; not done making his jumps.
And yet, he’s nowhere to be seen.
She’s wandering around then, slipping her hands inside the pockets of her pants. Her feet reach the end of the building area, where the parking lot stops and is separated from the construction site next door with a sloppily-erected stainless steel gate. She observes the gate from one end to another, noticing an opening somewhere to her left.
Someone—something?—is scratching the stainless steel from the other side of the gate.
She makes her way toward the opening, occasionally looking over her shoulder at Jack’s figure in the distance; his hands perch on his hips and his right shoe taps on the ground as he’s towering over the dead body. She hurries up.
The construction site is empty, for the most parts. The workers have gone for the day and all that remains is the skeleton of a new building. That and a tall crane, which doesn’t seem very surefooted when viewed up close; its top sways from side to side, making her cringe.
Her ears ring; the scratching resumes. She gazes to her right, and finds the culprit.
Beverly approaches animals the way she does humans: quick and rash. “Hello there,” she calls out. She moves closer too, stopping only when she’s merely a few steps away from it. The dog is skinny, with nicely-colored fur that’s covered with mud; definitely a stray. It stares at her as she squats down; she remembers something she read in a magazine once and shows the dog her opened palm. According to the article, she’s supposed to let the dog lick it; a symbol of peace offered and received. Or something.
The dog barks at her instead, waggling its tail.
The stainless steel gate rustles all of a sudden, as if someone’s bumping blindly into it. Beverly freezes, listening: a pair of feet being dragged across the concrete of the parking lot at the other side of the gate. She stands up defiantly then, waiting to be discovered by whomever it is that she knows is going to walk through the opening at any second.
And of course, she thinks as he appears, it has to be Will.
He stops dead at his tracks when he spots her. She grins at him then, and he looks down at his hand as a response; there’s a piece of flatbread in it, meat-stuffed, the kind you buy at a 7-Eleven. The dog sniffs the air and jogs toward Will, who hands it the bread when it’s near enough. He smiles at the dog, reaching out to pet its head. She frowns as she hears him mutter under his breath, whispering a greeting.
But the dog backs away from him and, still chewing the bread, runs to sit next to Beverly’s thigh. It lets her scratch behind its ears this time. The right end of her lips curls into a half-smile.
Will fumbles with his glasses. “It’s a he,” Will starts. “The dog. That’s why he prefers your company.”
Beverly tilts her head. “You mean he’s more comfortable around bitches?”
He clears his throat, letting out a feeble apology. “That’s not what I mean.”
She chuckles. “Hey, I’m not offended,” she says. “I don’t mind being a bitch.” She laughs loudly then, and adds an afterthought, “I don’t mind being your bitch.”
He tenses at that, swallowing. He folds his arms. “Jack’s looking for me.” More a statement, rather than a question.
Beverly scoffs. “Will, that was a joke. You don’t have to change the subject.” The dog lies down near her feet as she shifts her weight. “Anyway, I thought we talked about this.”
Will draws breath. “About what?”
He rubs his chin; he hasn’t shaved, she notices. “I never promised you anything,” he mumbles.
“You’ve been seeing Hannibal.”
“You’re saying it like it’s wrong”
“You do know you don’t have to see a shrink. You’re not—” She pauses at that, waving her hand in the air. “Crazy,” she continues, for lack of a better word.
He raises his eyebrows. “He’s not exactly my shrink,” he says. “When I go to see him, we usually just—” Will coughs timidly. “Talk,” he groans.
Beverly lets out a snicker. “So,” she says. “What? I have to wear a well-tailored houndstooth suit now before you want to tell me how you’re doing?”
His reply is unexpectedly quick. “You haven’t really asked me how I’m doing, though,” he deadpans. “How are you doing?”
She sighs. “I’m pissed, actually. Thanks for asking,” she says. “I want to get out of here. I want to go home. But Jack won’t let us wrap things up before you’re done with it. But you were gone, and now we’re all stuck in here.”
She watches as he flicks a glance toward her and bites his lip when he realizes she has caught his gaze. Beverly asks abruptly, suddenly afraid of him turning the course again. “How are you?”
He uncrosses his arms, breathing deeply. He’s taking his time, it seems; although, if you ask Beverly, she will say that he’s just stalling. Meanwhile, the dog’s finished his meal, panting heavily.
“Beverly,” he begins, finally; he’s talking to the ground, rather than to her. But then he looks up, staring back at her intrepidly. There’s a slight breeze and she feels cold all of a sudden, shivering.
Will continues. “What’s houndstooth?”
The dog barks again.
She learned them in the academy; they all did. One: law enforcement and criminals share the same profile. Two: everybody has homicidal tendencies.
Actually, the last one she learned from 12 Angry Men.
But Will would approve. Will would say, “Everyone has thought about killing someone one way or another.”
She remembers saying it to a best friend; “I’m gonna kill you,” she shrieked, between guffaws. She has seen almost everything during the years she’s spent in the FBI: from a good clean beheading to a week-long torture; this has been very educational. It teaches her what not to do. She could literally, if she wants to, get away with murder.
Yet, never did she wish someone dead.
Not until she met Will.
It’s not that she wants him killed; nothing could be farther than the truth. It’s just that, she imagines it will be so much easier to dissect him if he’s lying completely still in the morgue, or in her lab. He won’t run; he won’t be squirming when she rips him open to peer at his insides. And then she can finally shout out that one short, gratifying phrase: “Gotcha!”
Don’t get her wrong; she never wishes him ill.
She just wishes he were a corpse sometimes.