"I can't believe we're just going to sit here and wait for him to kill us."
It was the first time one of them had spoken in a while. The words had been stewing inside Magnus in the hours since Berger's visit and now they hung stagnant and unwanted in the thick, oppressive silence between them. He was vaguely surprised that Kurt didn't snap at him in response, and for once he wouldn't have blamed him if he had. He swore he could actually physically feel the other man becoming annoyed with him. They knew now that there was a key but there was no feasible way to get it, unless Berger somehow dropped it by accident, and that was unlikely to happen.
Really, what else could they do?
Judging by the significant drop in temperature, Magnus suspected it was late at night, maybe even the very early hours of morning. He shifted restlessly with his back and manacled hands pressed against the wall, dried blood itching on his face. Different parts of his body were sending out irregular signals of pain; his nose still felt bruised and he'd resorted to breathing through his mouth, which only contributed to his mounting thirst. His sore shoulders throbbed unpleasantly from the unnatural position they were being forced into, a pins and needles sensation prickling in his numbed fingers. Kurt had barely moved in the past few hours, but Magnus knew he wasn't sleeping. It was too cold to sleep, with the country having just entered its winter's infamously long and icy trenches. Magnus clenched his jaw tightly, determined to keep his teeth from chattering. He'd always been worried about catching colds, but now that was the least of his troubles. And in addition to being cold, he was hungry. The last time he had eaten had been a soggy piece of toast that morning and his stomach rumbled impatiently, unnecessarily preparing itself for a meal Magnus didn't see Berger providing them with anytime soon. Reluctantly, he raised his eyes and looked at the only other person in the room.
It would have been a drastic understatement to say that the older man did not look well, and considering the hungover states Magnus had regularly seen him in before, the fact that the blond was finding himself genuinely concerned was in itself a cause for alarm. The whites of his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, his complexion peaky and beaded with sweat. The chief inspector looked so utterly breakable that it made Magnus's neglected stomach flop over inside him. It wasn't until just then that he remembered that the older detective had been diagnosed with diabetes. He usually never even mentioned it, nor did he let it interfere with his work, often times dangerously teetering on ignoring the disease altogether. And it would only get worse the longer they stayed trapped.
"There's nothing you can do..." Magnus paused hesitantly, knowing how uncouth he sounded even before he finished the question. "... to, you know, put it off?" Now it was Kurt's turn to be facetious.
"Yeah, luckily I can just raise my blood sugar whenever I want," he replied harshly, huffing a cloud in the cold air with his breath as he talked. "We don't even need insulin either. It's all a sham." Magnus sighed exasperatedly, hanging his head as he tried to think. He must have been muttering while he thought of an exit strategy because Kurt interjected. "Don't forget the other door."
"What? What other door?" He snapped his head around to scan their dimly lit surroundings again, skeptical that he could have missed something so important and vital as another possible exit. He had to crawl forward as far as his chain would let him and crane his neck at an awkward angle, but Kurt was right. There was a shut wooden door on his side of the room, not that far away.
They both jumped when there were light fall of footsteps at the top of the stairs. Magnus's entire body tensed and he realized that this was what the both of them had been dreading.
"Don't talk," Kurt murmured in what Magnus knew could only be interpreted as a direct command. The other cop felt a sharp jab of indignation at this, a retort dancing on the tip of his tongue but he made himself shut up and nod. As Berger reached the bottom, they could see that he was carrying two medium-sized bowls.
"I took it upon myself to bring you both some water," he explained, as he set them down on the ground between them. His voice was so nonchalant and calm, like he was doing them a favor, and Magnus had never wanted to hit anyone more in his life. "You must be parched."
"What are you..." Kurt said, his voice complacent and calm despite everything that was happening to them, the little pause the only thing that betrayed the terror he felt. "What are planning on doing with us?"
"I just have a few questions. All you need to do is answer them truthfully. And please don't attempt to lie to me, Detective. I will know." Berger then stepped forward without and warning and roughly grabbed Magnus's hair, his fingers having an un-relinquishing grip on his curls, and pulled his head up and backwards. The young cadet jerked his head fiercely when a cold blade was pressed hard against the exposed skin of his throat, his eyes closed shut and lips pressed tightly together. With his heart pounding in his ears, he swallowed convulsively against the threatening metal that was poised to take his life at just a flick of Berger's wrist. "Your protege is counting on you, Detective Wallander."
"Okay, I'll answer your questions. Just put down the knife-" Kurt said, fully cooperative and desperate now that Magnus was in danger.
"When we're finished," Berger snapped. "I assume you've seen what I've done..." he elaborated almost as an afterthought. "...my crimes."
"I was the lead on your case. I went to the crime scenes, so yes." A break. "I saw everything."
"Were you impressed?" Another thick, unbearable pause. When Kurt finally answered, the word was tight and constrained.
"Which one?" Berger pressed eagerly. "Which one stood out to you?"
"The girl," Kurt managed to get out, his voice straining from barely contained anger. "The waitress." Magnus knew why his colleague had chosen that one; a twenty-one-year-old college drop-out. It had been the bloodiest, the most violent.
"Oh, yes. You have a good eye, Detective. She wouldn't stop crying- pathetic, really... You think I'm a monster, don't you?" Berger whispered the last part. His voice was quivering and baiting and made Magnus's skin crawl. He winced and struggled stubbornly as he felt the fingers tighten their iron-grip on his hair, the nails digging into his scalp.
"No," Kurt tried answering levelly, and Magnus could tell that he was having difficulty. "You need help. We can get you that-"
A startled gasp escaped Magnus as the the tip of the knife punctured his skin. He distantly heard a panicked, rapid panting noise and realized that it was coming from himself. A little bit of blood was welling up from the tiny wound and this was it, he thought. This was how he was going to die.
"You're lying," their captor snapped, the abrupt rise in his voice sounding terrifying and deranged.
"Yes," Kurt almost shouted and Magnus's heart climbed its way into his throat. "I do."
"You want to know why I'm keeping you here, Detective?" Berger's voice had gotten higher, almost manic. "For most of your career you have been under the mistaken notion that you're in control. That is where I come in- to shatter that hopeless delusion and show you how terribly vulnerable you really are. You should be thanking me." He released Magnus's head roughly and turned on his heel, up the stairs.
"I'm fine," Magnus cut him off rudely, only just suppressing the tremor that was threatening to creep into his voice. He exhaled shakily, the little cut on his throat not really hurting but still there, a reminder of how close he had been to death. Kurt's breathing was noticeably shallow, either from the stress of what had just happened or the effect this malnutrition was already having on his body- perhaps both. His tongue felt thick and swollen in his mouth, was becoming too much and he needed relief. Confident that Berger wasn't coming back so shortly after leaving, he went to the bowl on his side, lapping at the water inside. It tasted slightly brackish and dirty but it was water nonetheless.
"Don't drink too much," Kurt said suddenly, that insufferable and overly familiar edge of warning in his voice. If every part of Magnus's body hadn't been in pain, he would have rolled his eyes. This wasn't the police station. He wasn't even sure if they were in Ystad anymore. Despite what Kurt thought, he had no right to order him around as long as they were stuck here.
"I'm thirsty," he said slowly, not caring that he sounded petulant. Kurt glowered at him.
In the following hours it became all too clear why Kurt had warned him. Magnus had taken to squirming on the floor, trying futilely to ease the growing pressure in his lower abdomen. With his hands restrained behind his back it was impossible to undo his belt and he felt like an idiot that he hadn't foreseen this. Kurt was looking away in an effort to give him the flimsy illusion of privacy. He gritted his teeth in a paroxysm of discomfort, his bladder about to burst.
"Fuck." He turned his back away from Kurt and crawled on his knees to his side of the room. His face was red and burning in humiliation as he was forced to piss himself, shame washing over him when he felt warmth spreading in his jeans. When it was done he kept his back towards Wallander, finding himself completely incapable of looking him in the face. He couldn't stand having Kurt witness him like this; so debased and pitiful. A half hour passed before Kurt said something.
"We should move closer together."
Magnus pointedly ignored him.
"Come on, don't be ridiculous," he insisted sternly. "It's freezing."
"I reckon we should ask him," Magnus said finally, ignoring the suggestion a second time. "For food. The last thing I need is for you to fall into a diabetic coma."
"Once there was nothing in my fridge but spoiled milk and mustard, and it was days before I started to go into shock."
"Wow," the blond said dryly. "Astonishingly that doesn't reassure me." But for some odd reason, he found that this mild bickering between them actually did comfort him somewhat. It was familiar and normal, almost like they were back at the station. Kurt had also fallen back easily into their old routine.
"You sound like Linda," he replied mirthlessly. Then he paused for a moment before shaking his head. "She says she wants to join the force... do whatwe do." It would have been obvious to anyone that Kurt was more than resistant to the idea.
"Linda?" He cocked an eyebrow at the memory of Wallander's daughter. The last time Magnus had seen her was during that whole disaster with Ake. She'd seemed tough and resilient. "I'm surprised you're not thrilled she's following in your footsteps."
"Well, you know how fathers can be."
"I don't, actually." There was a silence. The words had just slipped out. His own father had left when he was very young, his mother having raised him as a single parent. Magnus immediately felt more than a twinge of self-consciousness, unaccustomed to divulging information about his personal life to his co-workers; especially Wallander of all people. He could sense Kurt's eyes on him and he shifted under his gaze, racking his brain for a change in subject. Kurt beat him to it.
"We need to at least try and get some sleep." He nudged closed to Magnus and turned around to lie down.
The thought of pulling away briefly flitted through Magnus's mind but Kurt was right, it was freezing. Grudgingly, he accepted the minimal contact and settled himself back to back against Kurt, the other man's body heat slightly abating the cold and he stopped shivering somewhat, allowing sleep to envelop him for the first time since their capture.
It only seemed like seconds before Magnus again found himself wide-awake and alert. Every sense was heightened in trepidation. He didn't know how much time had passed since he and Kurt had fallen asleep. His muscles were stiff and achey, from both fatigue and having lain on the freezing cement floor, the ligaments in his shoulders tingling agitatedly from the unwelcome strain being forced on them. The smell of the room was dank, of mildew and more recently, urine. He realized why he had awoken- there was a figure standing a few feet away, having just come down the stairs.
The thin, pale lips of Berger's mouth spread into a wide grin. He was holding a piece of stringy meat in his fingers, shiny and greasy in the dim light. Kurt had woken up also, and Magnus tried to imitate his disinterested look, but the mere sight and smell of food triggered something in him. It made his mouth water, caused his stomach to clench in need- reminded him how much pain he was in, how much his whole body hurt and how much he wanted to be home and out of this hellhole. He knew Berger wanted them to grovel for it- to crawl on their knees and beg him for food. The need to eat was simply too overwhelming; he could feel himself getting physically weaker with each passing hour. Before the young detective knew it, he was moving towards him, his expression drawn and resigned.
Berger unzipped his fly.
Don't give him a reaction.
But Magnus did- he couldn't help it. He froze as his dizzy, famished mind unwillingly came to terms with the revolting and unthinkable implication of that one simple action. Heat was rising in his cheeks and he averted his eyes to the floor, not wanting to look at the smile still plastered on Berger's face.
"How hungry are you, Detective Martinsson?"
No matter how hungry Magnus was, his stomach shrank and recoiled at what was being asked of him. Then he heard Berger's little laugh and Magnus distantly realized that his own head had started to shake almost imperceptibly back and forth, of its own accord. The balding man's features instantly darkened from sheer delight to a steely, frightening expression, furious at the wordless refusal. His beady eyes were black and glittering as he stared unblinkingly down at him.
"Then you can die here."
After Berger left, his superior gave him a small, curt nod, looking weary and more ill than ever. They didn't discuss what had just happened. If they didn't acknowledge it aloud, then it hadn't been a tangible threat; it wasn't real. Unadulterated anger and disgust and fear were coiling tightly inside him, raw hatred pumping through his veins, and he knew that right now, sleep was an impossibility. Every once in a while he would hear his own or Kurt's stomach growl. He listened for any sign that Kurt was asleep- snoring or a steady breathing pattern- but there was none. There was only the silence of both of them staring ahead at nothing through the darkness, Berger's last words repeating themselves in their heads.