The freezing water poured into Magnus' open mouth and down his throat. He choked violently, his whole body trembling as instinctive fear clawed its way into his mind. He thrashed blindly as his lungs screamed at him and his elbow slammed into something – someone – solid; with the distant realisation of someone panicking he recognised that there were arms wrapped around his chest tightly but he kicked out mindlessly, wriggling to get away in a desperate need for air.
His thoughts were muddled, half from blind fear and half from the concussion his attacker had given him, so he wasn't thinking clearly when he threw his head back as hard as he could into the assailant's face. Pain exploded through the back of his skull and his minimal vision blanked out entirely for a moment as his brain struggled to get into gear again. The arms holding him had released on instinct and without even thinking about it, Magnus kicked himself upwards, desperate for air.
When his head broke the surface of the lake he instantly took a massive gulp of oxygen just coughing overtook him. Water streamed from his mouth as he choked it up, expelling it painfully from his lungs as he struggled to breathe. All he could hear was the pounding of blood in his ears and so when strong hands grabbed his arms he reacted on instinct and lashed out, his fist glancing off something harmlessly as he floundered in the water. It took a second for him to register Kurt's voice cussing at him and then the hands wrapped around him again.
Before he could really make sense of anything he felt himself being pulled from the lake and with the desperation of a drowning man he grabbed at the solid planks of the jetty beneath him, hauling himself out of the freezing water. He was still coughing and he through watering eyes he could make out the image of his boss at his side, saying something he couldn't hear.
"Urghh..." He groaned incoherently for a few seconds, blinking wildly as the world gradually focused.
"Magnus! Magnus, are you alright?" Kurt actually sounded worried about the young detective who just nodded slowly in response. The gun in the elder man's hand eventually reminded him that his attacker was still in the water and was a potential threat; the thought made his heart hammer and he automatically reached for his own gun only to find it missing – probably in the lake somewhere.
"What did you do to her?!" The voice that was screeching all of a sudden wasn't one that the detective recognised and he twisted himself around to look in the direction of the noise. With still blurred vision he could just make out the shape of a man, at least six foot four and heavily built and holding a distorted shape that looked horrifyingly like a gun.
"Drop it!" Kurt shouted back his hands releasing Magnus to raise his own weapon.
"What did you do to her?" The voice repeated but there was less anger in it this time, instead filled with a strange combination of grief and resignation. Magnus' vision finally focussed again and he was able to clearly see his assailant clearly for the first time.
He was middle aged, probably no older than 35, with thick muscles and a nose that looked like it had spent more time broken than not. A fighter then. His dark eyes were wild and he was waving his gun around like a man possessed.
"Caroline Vers?" Kurt asked, his voice soft – intended to calm. It didn't work, if anything the other man looked even more enraged.
"Did you kill her? Is she dead you son of a bitch?" Magnus' head was pounding with the concussion and he was seriously struggling to keep up with the conversation but he was starting to make sense of it all.
"Put the gun down," Kurt ordered calmly. His own gun was still trained on the man and his hand was steady. "I'm Inspector Wallander of Ystad Police and this is Detective Martinsson of the same." There was a moment where everyone was still but eventually the stranger obliged, throwing his weapon away from himself towards the shore.
"Where's Caroline?" He asked, looking no less dangerous than he had a moment ago. He looked like a man on the very edge of his sanity and that made him a very real threat.
"Are you alright?" The quiet voice beside him was a surprise and he jumped lightly. Kurt was watching him worriedly. Without wishing to try and talk past the scratching in his throat he nodded mutely, deciding to ignore the shivering racking through his thin frame. "Get in touch with Anne-Britt and get some uniforms here. Can you do that?" Magnus didn't answer that, just glared, somewhat offended by his bosses lack of faith. A little dip in a freezing lake didn't render him incompetent.
The next few minutes were a little bit of a blur. Magnus was able to choke out an explanation to a concerned Anne-Britt even though it felt like his throat was on fire and his teeth were chattering so badly that even simple words were a challenge. But after a minute she got the message and informed him that she would be there soon with a unit of police. Meanwhile Kurt slapped handcuffs on his attacker and led him into the building, forcing him down into a chair.
"Care to explain that whole fiasco?" Kurt asked him, trying to hide his anger but failing miserably. Magnus would have laughed if he wasn't sure that such an action would reduce him to frantic coughing.
"I didn't know you were cops, alright?" The man still sounded like he was about to explode but he was making the effort to be civil.
"Policemen or not, that was still assault. You could be charged." A very vindictive part of Magnus hoped that he would be; that water had been damn cold.
"You were trespassing."
"Doesn't make it legal."
"What happened to the right to defend your property?"
"Do you own this land?" The man's silence confirmed what they already knew. "Alright, let's try something else. What's your name?"
"Toreg. Max Toreg." Magnus quickly texted the name to Anne-Britt with the instruction to run it through their systems.
"How do you know Caroline Vers?" The man flinched but didn't lose his calm.
"We are... Close. Together."
"When did you last see her?" It would seem that Toreg had reached the end of his fragile patience at last and his muscles bunched.
"What happened to her? Is she dead?"
"Why would you think that?"
"I'm not a fool. I watch the news, I know about the killer that's out there. Caroline fit the description. I told her to be careful but she just shrugged and laughed it off..." His voice trailed off and he rubbed angrily at his face; with a start, Magnus realized Toreg was crying. The detective himself was still trembling, his vision fuzzy and his brain working far slower than normal even though his attacker seemed completely unaffected by the fact he was dripping icy water onto the carpet. That said, he seemed so wired that he probably couldn't even remember the impromptu swimming session. Despite Magnus's distraction, there was something he still needed to ask.
"What did you throw in the lake?" He was proud that his voice didn't shake as much as he was. At that, Toreg hesitated, looking fearful for the first time. Kurt picked up on the change too.
"We'll have divers going in there anyway. Whatever it is we'll find it, there's no point trying to hide it." The room was silent for at least a minute and the Toreg sighed heavily.
"When she didn't come home, I realized something must be wrong... Look, Caroline was a wonderful person. The nicest girl you could ever meet but she'd made some bad choices. Years ago, lapses in judgement. It wasn't her fault!" He was losing it again, hands going to his hair and tugging helplessly.
"What wasn't her fault Mr Toreg?"
"For a long while now, Caroline has been fighting to kick an addiction."
"She was into drugs?"
"Heroin, amongst others." Toreg wasn't meeting their eyes, staring at the carpet looking thoroughly miserable. "I didn't want anyone to know about it. As soon as people heard I knew they would judge her for it and she didn't deserve that. I dumped her stash in the lake somewhere no one would find it."
Kurt looked at Magnus for a moment, who did his best to look calm and collected but just succeeded in looking like a drowned rat. After a minute the Inspector sighed and massaged his temples.
"We'll take down your details when the others arrive and after that you're free to go - for now. Don't take any sudden holidays Mr Toreg." With that he stood up and released the handcuffs while Magnus did his best not to glare at his boss; the bastard had given him a concussion and hypothermia and Wallander was letting him go? He should be charged with assault on a police officer at the very least.
Despite his ire however, once backup arrived Toreg was sent on his way without further comment. Magnus stood next to Kurt's car fuming silently while the Inspector finished up with the uniforms, giving them instructions to fish around in the lake to check the drug story and sweep the house for fingerprints. By the time Wallander joined him, Magnus was trembling violently, unable to feel his fingers while his head throbbed unpleasantly. He would give anything to curl into a ball in his bed and go to sleep for the next few days.
"You look terrible you know," Kurt informed him, not sounding particularly sorry about that fact.
"I wasn't exactly prepared to go swimming today," he shot back, annoyed.
"Oh, just perfect, thanks for asking." He knew he should really keep his temper in check but he was cold damn it.
"Get in. It's warmer in the car and your lips are turning blue." Magnus didn't want to argue and potentially lose the opportunity to get near a heater so he slipped in without further comment. "How's the head?" Kurt asked once he'd climbed in too, turning up the heating as high as it would go. When Magnus frowned, the Inspector expanded: "I saw you hit your head you know. I'm not completely blind."
"I'll be fine I'm sure," he told him, unwilling to admit just how badly his head was throbbing.
"Like hell you will be. You have a concussion."
"I've had concussions before and I didn't die. Can we please just go?" He just wanted to be away from that house. Wallander hesitated but then just sighed and put the car into gear, pulling away smoothly and heading back the way they had come.
By the time they arrived back in Ystad, Magnus was struggling to stay awake. It was getting dark; he was finally beginning to feel his fingers again and everything had that fluffy feeling that you get when you're half asleep.
It wasn't until Wallander pulled up outside his flat that he made the effort to pay attention.
"Why're we here?" He slurred, blinking rapidly in an attempt to focus.
"You said it yourself, you haven't been home in days and you desperately need to sleep. You're half way there already," he observed, pulling himself out of the volvo and moving around to the other side to help the somewhat unsteady detective.
"I'm fine. We have work to be doing."
"I don't care. Anything you do at the moment will more than likely be incomprehensible and you'll just have to redo it later. Sleep for now." Kurt had suddenly produced keys from somewhere - probably the detective's pocket, he was too drowsy to notice - and before Magnus could really work out what was happening he was back in his own flat and being pushed towards his room. Too tired to argue, he staggered towards his bed, longing for the warmth and comfort.
Before he'd managed to get through the door of his room though, he looked back to see Kurt settling himself on the sofa in the tiny living room and he frowned at the older man, who shrugged at him.
"What? You have concussion remember? You can't sleep for too long."
"I can set an alarm," he argued but it came out more like a garbled sigh.
"But you won't. Go to sleep Magnus," he told him softly, his voice gentler than he could ever remember it being. And so, oddly comforted by the Inspectors presence, he did just that.
Thanks for the reviews :) Sorry I didn't reply, my PM system had a bit of a hissy fit :/
I don't know anything about Swedish law. I made everything up.
This took far longer than it should have done. Sorry. I had some turning 18 to do. Also, this story is only going to be a few chapters but I've got another Wallander fic idea in the works so there will be another story. Probably not a sequel though.
For the record, I stole the name Toreg from Skyrim.