Chapter 3.8 || Homesick
Steve stays longer than he intended to, and by the time he makes it back to his apartment, it’s almost eight AM. He is only supposed to be at the station at nine, so he’s got plenty of time to get ready, to get himself looking more like a respectable police officer and less like… well, himself. He still feels drained. Mainly because while he loves his brother, being around Alexander gives him the strangest sort of homesickness. There is nothing to miss, he has everything he needs: a good home though the neighbors are crappy, a steady job that holds odd hours but is satisfying, both loving friends and family he can turn to whenever something is wrong, that damned cat that has wiggled his way into Steve’s heart and won’t let go even if Steve would want that. Still Steve feels that strange feeling that could only be homesickness if being homesick meant longing for a home he hasn’t ever known. Longing for a future just inches out of his reach.
The feeling only strengthens when Steve comes home to an empty, dark apartment that is hot enough to make him throw off the jacket he’s wearing the second he walks in, in favor of something a lot colder. He can only stare sadly at the result of his night of brainstorming sitting on that easel, at the stacked boxes around it littered with whiteboard markers and unused fridge magnets depicting Dora the Explorer. Nothing about this screams: ’settled’. All it shows, is the apartment of a tired and lonesome bachelor.
It is the worst feeling in the world because he knows he doesn't need to be so fucking upset with Alexander's happiness. He doesn't want to be jealous of his brother, with his three little literary kittens and his girlfriend and his apartment that actually looks settled, not like it is just another halfway home. Another temporary home for him to fill for another year or two. And by the end of his lease, the apartment may have the joyful clutter, the little accents of color and the decorations. Little touches that make it completely Steve's, that show it has really been lived in. But he won't have settled, not really.
Steve abandons his coffee on the counter, not caring for coffee right about now, and takes the whiteboard from the easel, to sit down in the middle of his living room and just stare at it. The board isn't as filled up much as he wants and it is definitely nowhere near as filled as it should be, if Steve wants it to be enough for the rest of the team to realize that Bucky is being set up. Steve pauses and grabs the copy of the case file for the second murder. There’s a piece of evidence missing, must have slipped his mind last night. One of the witnesses had found a ring at the crime scene. A simple, chrome thing on a metal chain. Like it was the one ring. But it hadn't been any of the victims’. Finger print results were inconclusive. But that was then, and this is now.
With a heavy heart, he picks up the phone to call the homicide department. They will have run the prints against the prints that are in the record by now. Maybe if that was a match, Bucky will remember where he has seen that ring before. How he had touched them, held it maybe. It’s a base for Steve to work off.
“Detective Barton, homicide department," Clint says, as he picks up the phone. Somehow Clint always sounds cheerful, even when they’re in the middle of an investigation like this. He rattles of his rank and department, as if by now he’s gotten so used to it that he’ll pick up his private cell phone the exact same way.
"Clint," Steve stays, after just enough time for him to gather himself. Clint's chair creaks when he moves, the sound even audible through the speakers of Steve's mobile phone. "Did we run Barnes's prints against the ones that we found on the second victim?" There is a rustle of paper, folders moving. Clint's desk chair rolling away with squeaking wheels. Pages flutter open and Steve can hear Clint suppress a curse after a soft thud. He doesn't intend to smile at that, but he smiles all the same. "You okay, Clint?"
"Yeah, one of the folders slid underneath the bench," Clint replies. "Got it. Okay. The prints got tested. One of them came back with a 79% match to Barnes's right thumb. The rest of them were still inconclusive." Seventy-nine. That is not especially a lot. Even a smudged print sometimes gets worse results. Steve just hums.
"Okay. Thank you," he tells Clint, then keeps slowly asking: "Has there been any more evidence towards Buck?" The 'Buck' slips past his lips before he even realized it. The others know now, Steve no longer needs to mind his words, watch his tongue. But still he has that reflex. Maybe a good thing.
"No, none yet," Clint replies. "But there is another eye witness of the latest murder that has come forward. So I don't..." A shrill scream echoes through the apartment, from another floor. He wouldn't pay too much attention to such a scream otherwise, but this is not a normal scream. This is not the kind of scream someone screams out of joy, or because they're scared of a damn spider. This is pure, blood curdling horror.
"Help! Help!" The voice continues and Steve can hear the tears in the woman's voice, which shakes like a fallen leaf on the wind. "Oh my God, I think he's dead!”
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