Chapter 4.3 ||
By the time Steve gets to the seventh floor, Banner has also arrived. He’s standing nearby while a rather young member of the crime scene squad takes photographs from every possible angle. He looks queasy, like this is his first homicide. Sam has up and disappeared, probably trying to talk to Erin, trying to get her to open up about what happened. That will only work if Bucky managed to calm her down. If Bucky is still in her apartment. They might have separated the two of them to make sure that they wouldn’t change their stories.
It only dawns on Steve then, that when they will ask if Erin has seen anything suspicious earlier nights and that the argument they had with Colin just a couple of days earlier, will be fresh on her mind. That she will blurt that out, and that Bucky will look even more suspicious. And well… They are already looking for an excuse that will prove that Bucky is the killer. How much more do they need?
“Steve,” Natasha says. “Give us the rundown here. What happened?” Steve just shrugs. He doesn’t have any more of an idea of what happened than anyone in here. All he did was come running when Erin screamed.
“Don’t know for sure. I came back from my brother’s about ten minutes before I heard the woman screaming. There was no one in sight that stood out. I heard a scream, and when I went up the stairs to check, I saw him. He was already dead. Never heard a shot or something. But that might have happened earlier. Can’t have taken long for him to bleed out.”
“It did not,” Banner confirms, “the bullet severed the jugular, but look.” Bruce lifts Colin’s shirt, it peels away slowly and reveals a small wound right beneath the collarbone. “He got stabbed with a small knife. From the look of it a kitchen knife, pretty long; but I will be able to tell you more about that once we get him back to the lab.” With the mess of blood, Steve hadn’t even noticed that there was second wound. Now it seems so obvious that all this blood couldn’t be from the one neck wound. There is just too much of the stuff.
“Did he bleed out from the stab wound, or the neck shot?” Steve asks, staring down at the little wound. It can’t have been a very big knife, but it must have been long.
“Can’t tell you yet,” Banner replies. “Not for sure. From the looks of it, he was shot first, then stabbed.” Steve turns to Natasha, both of them are frowning at the other. Stabbed later...
“Did he want to spare Colin?” Steve asks. “Give him a quick death, rather than leave him to bleed out slowly from his neck?” That would indicate a kind of personal bond.
“That would mean that he had a weak spot for Colin, liked him,” Sam replies and Steve jumps just a little. he hasn’t heard Sam come back from the apartment. What was it with him? “I tried to talk to Erin, but she is still too shocked to give a statement. I told her we’d come back tomorrow, and that she would need to give us a call if she decided that she was ready to talk about it. I was just going over to Barnes, see what he can tell us. Ask him about Colin. Have we found anything new?”
Before Steve can even speak, Natasha’s talking: “Yes. He stabbed Colin. But whether that is before or after shooting him, isn’t clear yet.”
“Mind if I talk to him first? See how he’s doing?” Steve asks. “I am not going to influence him. I just really need to talk to him.” Natasha shares a single look with Clint and Sam, then shakes her head. Clint has folded his arms over each other, mouth a thin line. They have obviously talked about this. They don’t look very happy. As if this is the worst case scenario, and they have already devised it.
“Steve. You know we can’t take that chance. You can go with Sam all you want, sit in on the interview. And if you need to talk to him, do that on your time off,” Clint says. And while Steve can see the logic in that, he can’t help but feel the anger bubble up in him. Because Bucky’s well-being should be a lot more important than their investigation, and it is to Steve. But apparently the rest doesn’t really care.
“Fine,” Steve snaps, harsher than he means to. “I think I will go with Sam.”
“You haven’t brought us anything yet,” Sam says, coolly. “All you’ve given us is your doubt. Doubt and honestly a fair deal of annoyance. We’re supposed to just trust you on this and you keep running out or keeping things from us.” Steve scowls.
“Sam. You have seen this day in, day out. This isn’t about the damn case," Steve says steadily, voice level. "If it was, I really wouldn’t be making an issue out of it. I wouldn't even be asking you. I know you want to keep me from meddling with Bucky's account of what happened. And I get that it is the right thing to do. All I want to do is make sure he is okay. That he is dealing with it." Steve grits his teeth. "Didn’t you guys read his file yet?”
“You have seen how much of it is redacted, Steve," Sam replies. "We know nothing more than that he's a sergeant and that he got off on a disability. From the looks of it a mental disability." Then they don't even know about the arm. Joshua wouldn’t even be a footnote on Bucky's file, but it would be in the medical file. They did a routine checkup on both of them afterwards, to make sure neither of them had a wound through which Joshua’s blood could have mixed with their own. They ran blood-work just in case.
“Okay. Uh. This probably wouldn’t be in the file anyway.” Steve runs a hand through his hair, conflicted. “But. I really don’t know if I can tell you anything about it. I am not betraying his trust.” Steve stares at the others, daring them to ask or say anything. Natasha seems mostly annoyed but quizzical. Like she is trying to make sense of exactly what Steve is trying to talk around. She doesn’t have enough information to actually figure it out though. Steve is sort of grateful for that. Someone’s making their way up the stairs, but Steve can’t really be bothered to look who it is, probably just another crime scene tech, to take photos or fingerprints. Maybe Ian, or Darcy.
“Do you even have anything, by way of evidence?” Natasha starts to ask, but gets interrupted when a deep voice asks:
“Detectives? I’ve got a search warrant for you.”
The guy delivering it is obviously on his way into work, dressed in a suit and tie. He grabs an envelope from his briefcase - a small, black leather thing that probably cost as much as Steve's entire kitchen - and hands it to Natasha.
"You are early," she says pleasantly as she takes it from him, suddenly all of the anger that she previously so obviously showed, has disappeared from her face. It is actually quite scary, the way her moods seem to shift sometimes. It is a mask just as fine as Bucky's. Only Steve can't see through Natasha's the way he can with Bucky and it bugs him. Bugs him to hell and back. Twice.
"Well, I was on my way to your office when I saw the police tape. This is the building on your warrant, so I thought you might have need of it." Steve sighs. Apparently he isn't even being kept in the loop anymore. When did they file for that? Mustn't have been too long ago, the DA makes quick work of most search warrants, especially if they have the type of evidence they do now.
"A search warrant?" he asks. "When the hell were you planning on telling me?" Briefcase-guy looks uncomfortably between the team members. This is not a situation he was working for, not something he was used to.
"When you got into the office this morning," Natasha replies, still with that odd calm that doesn't quite match up to Natasha. Not the Natasha he knows. "If this murder wouldn't have happened, you would also know that we found more surveillance footage of Barnes. This time on the security cameras from the building where our second victim lived." Steve's eyebrows knit together. Great, more security footage.
"Where was he, with Walsh?" Steve asks, not even feigning surprise at this point.
"Yes," Sam replies. "We have him and Walsh entering Walsh's dorm room about an hour before Walsh gets murdered. The later footage got deleted, so we don't have him exiting the building. Nor do we have anyone else entering, until the morning when Walsh's boyfriend discovered the body." Sam breaks away from the group. “I’m going to ask him questions. Come if you want to, but do it now.” Steve sighs and reluctantly follows Sam down the stairs.
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