Summary: Police Inspector Kurt Wallander is struggling to accept having shot and killed another man, even though it was clearly self-defense…so he turns to a colleague whose hands he knows are no more clean than his own.
A/N: Written in response to the events of “Faceless Killers”, with the end of “One Step Behind” kept in mind--this will make little sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the show and what happened at the end of Season 1: Episode 3. It's a ‘missing scene’ of sorts, perhaps. Because I process things through writing, apparently.
[Wallander, Martinsson. ‘Mens Rea.’]
“How do you do it?”
Magnus Martinsson, busily typing away at his computer, glanced up briefly, but didn’t pause in his typing. “Do what?” he asked after a short pause, his eyes focused on the glowing screen before him once again.
Kurt Wallander just stood there for a second, looking even more rumpled and lost than usual. “I…I dunno,” he sighed, seeming almost ready to drop the subject before he’d even breached it. “Just…live with yourself, I guess. I mean, after…” He cast about the room, looking everywhere but his younger colleague, rubbing his two-day stubble unconsciously. After a moment the rubbing shifted to cover the rest of his face, his eyes in particular; then he dropped his hand to his side and released another heavy breath. “It’s just, I never thought…I never thought I’d take the life of another man. Ever. And now I have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
Martinsson was quiet for a long moment, but his fingers had gone still over the computer’s keys. “Well, in my case,” he said at last, still not looking over at the other man, his voice soft, his words clipped and clearly carefully chosen, “I just think about what would have happened if I hadn’t pulled that trigger.” Now he did look at Wallander, his expression set and grim; but his eyes were steady, if harder than they’d once been, and there was no blame, no guilt there. “I mean…what would I have to live with then?”