As exhausted as he was, and truly he could not remember a time when he had been so tired, Magnus got very little sleep. His body, now that the adrenaline had ebbed away, was a patchwork of aches and bruises. It seemed that every time he would just start to fall into a deep rem state he would roll over onto a particularly damaged area and wake himself with the pain.
At least Lanie, he was happy to see, was not having the like difficulty. His girl was curled on her side next to him, deep in the thrall of a peaceful slumber. He sat for a while just looking at her, marveling that someone so sweet, so passionate and clever, would choose to be with him. A not insubstantial part of him wanted to damn the doctors advice - he was not getting any sleep anyway - and listen to the lower member of his body that was screaming to be inside her, but she looked so serene that he couldn’t quite bring himself to disturb her.
When daylight found him still restlessly tossing and turning, Magnus decided sleep was useless. Between his battered body and his anxious mind he was not going to be able to relax. Sliding ever so gently out of bed so as not to disturb Lanie, he quietly made his way into the kitchen where a needy cat begged for some much missed affection.
After a shared breakfast of bacon and eggs, Magnus shoed Cori off his lap, took a long hot shower to soothe his aches, and got dressed. If the smell of cooking or the vocal kitty hadn’t woken her up he was fairly sure that Lanie would be out for a while. Scribbling off a quick note to her, Magnus decided he might as well head into the station now and face the music. Maybe then at least his mind would quiet and he could finally rest.
The winces and looks of pity he received from his coworkers as he made his way into the precinct granted him some dark amusement. He had to admit his face was something of a site, What with the dark purple eye and the bruising along his jaw. He had decided to let his beard grow a bit to cover the later, but it would take a few days before there was growth enough to hide the swelling.
“Magnus!” Anne-Britt called as he walked into their area. “We weren’t expecting you until later this afternoon. Is everything okay? Nothing wrong with Lanie?”
”I left her passed out to the world, snuggling my cat,” he assured her.
“I would think you’d be there with her.”
”Too antsy,” he shrugged. “Figured I might as well come get fired, since I was awake and all, and then we could sleep without worry for a few days.”
”Stop that!” She insisted, smacking his arm. “You’re not going to get fired!”
”You sure of that?” He asked, cringing internally at the uncertainty that flashed across her face.
“Listen, Magnus,” she said, choosing her words carefully, “I feel really bad for getting you into this situation... but I also can’t apologize for it. You kept her safe. I feel awful if it gets you into trouble, or worse, but...”
”Say no more,” he smiled. “Whatever happens with the job I wouldn’t have had it any different. Look, I love being a cop, and I hope to be one for the rest of my life. But meeting Lanie, getting the chance to be with her, if the job is the cost of that, it’s a price I’m willing to pay. So thank you. Sincerely.”
”Wow, you’re really crazy about her, aren’t you?”
”I love her,” he said simply, smiling. “So, is Wallander in? Best get this over with.”
Squaring his shoulders, Magnus knocked on his superior’s door. All talk aside, he really was dreading this. He would make the sacrifice if he needed to, but he loved his job, loved being able to help people. The thought of no longer being allowed to do so demoralized him.
“Martinsson,” Kurt barked, looking up as he entered the office, Anne-Britt on his heels. “You look terrible.”
”Thank you,” he answered, trying to keep the instinctive smirk off his face. He didn’t know why Wallander brought out his worst qualities, but he couldn’t deny he did. He supposed it was that he was secretly desperate for the older man’s approval and knew he was fairly certain never achieve it.
“Well, let’s get down to it. You are aware, are you not, of the strict department rules regarding fraternizing with a protectee?”
”And you admit that you broke this rule with Ms. Greyson?”
”I do. Many, many, many times,” he added, a hint of a smile attempting to tilt up his lips.
“Magnus!” Anne-Britt hissed behind him.
“Is this a game to you, Martinsson?” Kurt demanded, scowling.
“Not at all,” he replied. “I just thought I should be clear with the situation. This was not a case of lines crossed once due to, I don’t know, boredom or casual lust. This was a matter of realizing the person sitting across from you was the most precious thing in the universe, and you would die to protect her. I don’t take this lightly, not in any way at all. I don’t take my job lightly - and I defy you to find any other instances where I ever crossed a line or broke the rules. I didn’t take the threats to the protectee’s life lightly, and in fact went to great lengths to try and keep her safe, despite her own reckless instincts. But I also do not take Ms. Greyson lightly. I love her and I will not apologize for that. If anything, it gave more incentive to keep her safe.”
”Can you honestly swear then,” Kurt asked, giving him a hard look, “that your relationship with her never once, in the entire course of the investigation, put her at greater risk?”
Magnus thought back over the past week, and a sinking sensation began forming within him. His mind saw her in the rain soaked dress, figure scandalously exposed by his choice of her attire. He remembered the way she had run out of the house the first morning because he had allowed himself to be over familiar with a kiss the night before, and how he had failed to make sure the door to Haas’ office was locked when they raided his office safe, distracted as he had been with the taste of her arousal on his tongue. Defeated, he lowered his eyes.
“No,” he admitted quietly. “I can’t swear to that. You’re right. I crossed a line that should never have been crossed and I put my charge at risk. I don’t deserve to wear the badge. Go ahead and take it.”
Lanie woke to a cold, wet touch to the end of her nose. As she mindlessly seaters it away, she was favored with an aggrieved meow and a set of claws digging into her shoulder that served to rouse her the rest of the way.
“Wow! Ow!” She fussed, sitting up half way and scratching the insistent feline under the chin. “Okay, I get it, you want love. Yes, there you go, sweet boy. Now where’s your daddy? I swear, if he went running this morning, we are going to have words when he gets back.”
A quick scan of the room located the hastily scribbled sheet of paper he had left for her:
”Lovely, I’ve gone to the station to get my debriefing over with. When I come home I expect to find you in our bed, ready to begin your punishment. Don’t let me down. Love, M
ps- the greedy puss had half my breakfast, don’t let him bamboozle you into more.”
Sending up a silent prayer, Lanie set the letter down and made a trip to the bathroom. Well, sleep was out of the question now. She would never be able to sleep worrying over Mags and his job. If he was suspended, or worse fires, she would never be able to forgive herself. She was the one who had insisted he get physical with her. After he had thoroughly spanked her, it was true, but none the less. She was half tempted to go down to the station and confess her ultimatum to his higher ups. Somehow, however, she didn’t think Magnus would appreciate her interference.
Drawn to the kitchen by the smell of cooling coffee, Lanie threw on his academy tee and the shorts she had worn her first night and left the comfort of the bedroom. She was just sitting down to wake her mind up with the morning crossword puzzle when a knock at the door had her jumping nearly out of her chair.
It was silly to be anxious she decided. The case was closed. She was no longer a witness under an order of protection, she was just an executive assistant, aspiring artist, and girlfriend to the most attractive police detective in Ystrad.
When she opened the door she had the fleeting thought that she might have preferred the kidnappers. Standing on the threshold instead were Mrs. and Mr. Martinsson, bags full of breakfast in their hands.
“Good morning Lanie,” Magnus’ father smiled. “May we come in? We brought pastries and coffee.”
”Of course,” she agreed nervously, “but I’m afraid Magnus home.”
”Running or at the station?” Mrs. Martinsson asked with a knowing look.
”At the station,” Lanie answered.
“Leo, you owe me a cocktail,” his mother pronounced with a smirk that looked all too familiar to Lanie. "I know my son. I suppose he didn’t sleep a wink last night, did he?”
”I don’t think so, he left before I woke up."
"He's never had much patience with waiting," his father offered with a shake of his head. "Gets that from me, I suppose. Well, would you mind if we waited with you? It might give us a chance to get to know the young lady who's stolen our son's heart."
"Please, be my guest," really, what could she say?
As Leo Martinsson passed out the coffees and Norell and Lanie brought in plates and napkins from the kitchen for the pastries, Lanie did her best to subdue the panic that was rising inside her. The last thing she felt up for after the week she had gone through was a cozy tete a tete with Magnus' parents, but apparently that's what the fates had planned for her. She really must have angered some deity or other, she decided.
"So, Lanie," Norell said with an enigmatic smile, "we've heard so many various things about you. It's nice to finally get to meet you ourselves."
"You have?" Lanie gulped, trying to think of what they might have heard.
"The old biddy network is notoriously quick," Leo advised her.
"Thank you, Leo, that makes me feel so flattered to hear my friends described that way."
Lanie hoped to never be on the other side of Norell's icy look, but Leo just laughed it off and bit into a Danish.
"Now," Norell continued, talking as though holding court, "I know a bit about Sonja Widser, so we're not about to give too much weight to anything she or her father says, even if he stocks Leo's favorite brandy. Millicent, however, is another story."
"Millicent Vikander?" Lanie asked, thinking back to stately grand dame from Haas' party. It should not surprise her, she supposed, that the woman would be acquainted with Mrs. Martinsson, but everything was happening so quickly that Lanie was feeling a bit at sea.
"She is one of my oldest friends," Norell conceded. "She told me that you and Magnus were nigh on inseparable at the soiree. Besotted is, I believe, the word she used. I have to admit, if I had not seen you last night I would not have believed it. Pardon me for being frank my dear, but you are not my son's usual type."
"So I've heard," Lanie said dryly. "Believe me, Mrs. Martinsson, no one is more surprised at Magnus' interest in me than I am. I am aware of the fact that he could have any woman he chose. The fact that he chose me is something I will be grateful for for the rest of my life."
"You went to university, dear?" she was beginning to feel like she was under interrogation, and wondered if this was where Mags had gotten his penchant for detective work.
"For two years," she answered, aware that it was most likely not the answer they hoped for. "I transferred after that to an arts conservatory to study painting."
"You're an artist!" Leo enthused. "Good for you! If we had more artists and less lawyers, the word would be a better place!"
"You are a lawyer, Leo," his wife reminded him.
"So I know where of I speak," he grinned.
"You work for Haas as his assistant?" Norell continued.
"I do, yes. I started there four years ago, and moved up quickly to his desk. It's not something I envision doing forever, but it's challenging and I like the responsibility he gives me."
"He's an odd duck, Erik Haas," Leo mused. "I never cared for him. Cold eyes. I know he thinks it's because he worked for his money, but really it's that I can never get a read on him. I don't trust a man with no passion in him."
"I think he's mostly benign," Lanie smiled. "I will say that your son was not the biggest fan either to begin with, but he has come around on him a bit."
"That is encouraging. My apologies, Lanie, but might I use your powder room," Mrs. Martinsson asked.
Giving a quick thanks that they had been too exhausted to have left anything untoward out in the bedroom, Lanie nodded and watch Norell rise gracefully and exit the room.
"You'll have to excuse Norell," Leo smiled when his wife was gone. "Magnus is her only cub, and she is frightfully defensive of him. You wouldn't be the first young lady after him for his trust fund, you see. Not that you seem like that sort of girl."
"I was under the impression that his trust fund had been dissolved," she said, looking at him in confusion. "That you cut him off when he decided to become a cop rather than a lawyer."
"Is that what he's been telling people," Leo laughed. "Tell me, do you really think our jeweler would have lent him those sapphires if I had truly cut him off? Oh yes, they called me to verify."
"I didn't even think of that," she admitted. "So why does he think you disapprove?"
"My son has had a very easy go of it most of his life," Leo told her with a sigh. "Part of that is our fault, of course, for indulging him as a child, but it's more than that. You see Magnus is far too talented for his own good."
"I've noticed," she remarked dryly.
"I have no doubt," he commiserated. "His mother is much the same way. He swanned through school without ever really having to try at anything. One year he decided he wanted to play rugby, next thing he's captain of the team. He runs for school government on a lark, he's elected class president. Auditions for a part in the campus play, lands the lead role. It's always been that way for him, and it made him lazy. Careless. He made top marks all through law school without committing to any branch of the law, but rather flitting from specialty to specialty. So when he pronounced one Christmas that he wanted to become a detective, we naturally decided it was just another whim that would pass like all the others. Only this one was different. This one could get our son killed. And so I told him I was not going to pay for him to go to the academy. If he wanted to become a cop so badly, he would have to earn it for himself. I've never been more pleasantly surprised or more proud than when he graduated top of his class. He never once wavered as he moved out of his luxury apartment and into this place, using the money from selling his car for the security and expenses. I reinstated the trust after he finished his first year on the force, but he insists he doesn't want it. That he prefers to make his own way. Well, that's all well and good for now, but one day he might want to settle down, and when he does he will be able to do so in a manner that gives his family every advantage money can buy."
"I had no idea about any of that," she breathed. "No wonder you are so concerned with who he dates. I would be interrogating me as well."
"The interrogation is over, Lanie," Norell said, coming out of the bedroom with Lanie's sketch book in her hands. "I just found this. I'm sorry, I'm a terrible snoop. It's where Magnus gets it from, if you haven't figured that out yet."
"My book!" Lanie gasped in horror, running to retrieve her most precious position from the other woman's prying hands.
"Did you do all of these sketches of Magnus?"
"Yes," she admitted miserably. "Please, Mrs. Martinsson, no one has seen those, not even Magnus. They're just... just something I'm working on. They're not ready."
"Ready or not, they are exquisite," Norell said, smile lighting her face. "If I had any doubts about your feelings for my son, they're gone."
"I beg your pardon?"
"My dear, it is so blatantly obvious that the person who did these drawings was in love with the model. I felt almost guilty for looking at something so personal."
"Well you should!" Lanie blurted out, anger flushing her face. "It's the equivalent of reading my diary!"
"Oh god, Mum," said an aggrieved voice from the door way. "What have you done now?"