They walk a little too close, shoulders bumping into each other every other step and when the metal collides with Steve’s shoulder a little too hard, well… Steve’s not going to complain. They stay quiet until they’re out of sight from the rest of the team and opt to take the stairs rather than the elevator. On the landing, with the door closed behind them, Steve pulls Bucky into a quick, rather tight hug. Bucky leans right into it, his metal arm digging in a lot further than the flesh one does. When Bucky gets upset, as he is now, he has more difficulty with controlling the strength of the arm.
      “Jesus, Buck, I’m so fucking sorry. I had no idea they were going to do that,” Steve blurts out in a flurry of words. “I would’ve warned you or something. Fuck it, I don’t know where they got all that info. I swear to God, when I came in this morning, all they had on that damn board was your picture. I thought it was going to be fine. How was I supposed to know that Sam was going to put so much pressure on you? If I'd known, I'd joined the interrogation and I would've joined in, I would’ve defended you, I swear.” Bucky’s grip on Steve gets a little tighter and Steve can’t breathe, but whether that is because of the tension escaping him or the tightness of the hug. Then Bucky lets go all of a sudden and Steve backs off just a little bit. Bucky’s looking right at Steve with those big, sad grey eyes of his.
      “It’s okay. It’s your job,” he says. “I just... I didn't do this Stevie. I didn't. You got to believe me."
      “I believe you,” Steve replies. “I haven’t doubted you for a second, Buck. Why didn’t you tell them? I wouldn’t’ve gotten mad at you. Don’t have to tell me everything.” Bucky just vaguely shrugs, a little hopeless even, and as he starts to make his way to the ground floor. Steve follows suit.
      “I didn’t want you to find out this way,” Bucky mutters, fingers trailing over the iron railing. He’s avoiding Steve’s eyes, looking down at his own feet. “I was gonna tell you all about it when you got home from work. But you were lying there drooling on the couch. And I thought, let’s let him sleep. So, that became today. Guess your team beat me to it.”
      “I appreciate that,” Steve replies. “I do.” He manages half a weak smile in Bucky’s direction. “I’m gonna do the best I can to get them on a different track, promise. Or at least willing to see another option.”
      “Thank you, Steve.”
      “Promised I’d fight for you, didn’t I? ‘Till the end of the line,’ I said. Ain’t about to give up on that promise.” They go down floor after floor, until they arrive back at the reception desk. They say goodbye airily, like old acquaintances might. A gentle command to take care of themselves, answer that the other should do the same.

Steve doesn’t even know that Darcy is there until he steps on the elevator and sees her smiling at him. The button for the third floor is already lighted up, Darcy must be going to the homicide department as well. On its own, that's not a spectacular thing. They generally have a couple of cases running at the same time, though nowhere near as many as a couple of years earlier. Today, their sniper case is the only one that they're actively working on, apart from the two or three cold cases that litter the back of the whiteboard, like little spider webs. There haven't been any requests for data to be analyze for those cases, which means that this can only be for their sniper. Maybe this time it won't be bad news. Maybe this will be good. Steve's had plenty of bad news today, if he hears a lot more of it, he might punch someone.
      "Good morning, Darcy," Steve says and while he tries for calm and happy, he sounds more concerned and angry. One more plan that has failed. "What brings you to the homicide department today?" He nods vaguely towards the button, as if he needs to explain just why he knows it.
      “A criminal record,” she replies and tips the purple envelope she’s holding into Steve’s direction, so Steve can see the photo stuck to the edge of it with a paperclip. “You are mentioned in there quite a lot.”
Steve wants to not show he knows Bucky, but he won’t be able to hide the warm smile that spreads out over his face when he sees that picture of Bucky. It’s an old one, with Bucky no older than sixteen, maybe even younger. This is the stupid, rebellious Bucky, with bright blue tips in his hair and a suspicious colorless bit in his eyebrow, leather jackets and a fuck-off-attitude to match. Between that, and Steve’s troublemaker tendencies, they got into trouble so much. Steve can’t help but smile at that younger version of Bucky, still so innocent. Steve remembers clearly when he died Bucky’s hair; he spilled hair bleach all over his desk, ruined a pair of his favorite jeans and the apartment smelled like peroxide for a whole week. He would have gotten into so much trouble if Sarah and Alexander hadn’t been in the United Kingdom to be at a wedding because the house reeked of the stuff; Steve hadn’t been able to go to the UK because he had an appointment at the hospital in the middle of the week and that couldn’t be postponed. Steve and Bucky spent a whole week sleeping on the couch and more often than not waking up in the space between the couch and the coffee table because they both tossed and turned so much. One of the best weeks of his childhood.
Steve looks away from the photo, forces himself to look at Darcy instead. He knows that rap sheet almost better than he knows his own.
“I am,” he acknowledges. “I know.” Darcy raises her eyebrows at him.
“Does the rest of the homicide squad know?” she asks. “And you’re still on the case?” Steve just shrugs and leans back against the metal railing of the elevator. Once the rest of them see this report, who the hell knows if he will still be on the case.
“Not yet,” Steve replies. “Guess they’ll know now.”

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