Bucky has no desire to stay in his own apartment while the rest of the crew goes through his stuff. So he hides in Steve's apartment. Steve decides to do the same, he definitely does have an unfair advantage. He knows where everything in Bucky's apartment is. He knows where the gun is kept, knows where he keeps its rounds - far away from the actual gun, stuffed inside a lone white sock in the sock drawer - and knows where he would keep things that he needs to stay hidden. This is probably the one time that Steve could really help his coworkers and win their trust back. But if just feels wrong. So he has decidedly said: 'no."
      "You don't have to stay with me, Steve," Bucky says, as Steve examines his whiteboard. "Go, help your coworkers find stuff." There are lots of annotations in purple marker, written in Bucky's messy handwriting. One of the security photos has 'THIS IS NOT ME', written over it, barely legible in its all caps. When Steve looks down at the image, he can sort of see it. The face on the footage is very blurry, but the jaw isn't the right shape. The coat is off as well. Bucky has a coat like that sure, but it is a good five inches shorter than the one the person on the security footage is wearing. Bucky never wears coats that hang past his knees.
      "Hush," Steve scolds, and throws Bucky a photo of the ring found at one of the crime scenes. "Have you seen this thing before?" Bucky grabs the picture from where it lands, halfway in between the two of them. He has to reach to grab it.
      "Huh." Steve frowns at Bucky, cocking his head to the side. "I have seen this before. But where?" Bucky flexes and relaxes his metal hand, even with the silicone cover, Steve can hear the whirring of the engines powering the metal plates. It keeps them mobile, but Steve has always found it fascinating, the way they shift over each other and fill the little gaps between them. Bucky reaches out towards one of Steve's sketchbooks that lies abandoned on one of the boxes. Steve really should have taken the time to clean up the boxes last night. "You mind?" Steve just shrugs. Bucky won't judge him for any of the pictures that are in there, he's seen plenty of early work. Listened to every single one of Steve's long-winded rants on why things weren't working out. Why not? It is his most recent sketchbook, barely has five finished drawings in it and a handful of sketches or halfway finished drawings.
      "Go ahead," he replies and refocuses his attention to the whiteboard, taking in all the writing on it.
      "Got it!" Bucky exclaims. "One of the guys on the second floor has one of these, 2…" He pauses. "2-C. The brother, not the sister. He dropped it about… two months ago. Was almost out of the door without realizing and I picked it up for him. Why?"
      "This was found on the floor of Connor Walsh's apartment. It wasn't his or his boyfriend's," Steve replies and turns back to Bucky. "We think it belongs to the killer."
      "It is not mine, that's for sure. These things cost half my paycheck," Bucky replies. "Peter has one of these. Only one store in New York sells them. I think they're made of… Titanium? That and some kind of gem. He gave me the rundown when he got it. Wouldn't shut up about the thing." Steve jots it down on the board, another line of blue marker. The ring isn't the only thing that didn't pass the Bucky-test. The amount of little notes, little flaws that Steve hadn't noticed is actually stunning. Stuff like: ‘This guy's a lefty. With this wind and angle, he adjusted more than was necessary for a right-handed person. Scuffmarks on wrong side of hole in window’. All this stuff that Steve just can't know, but somehow Bucky has figured out to a T. It makes sense, Bucky has a lot more experience, especially in the sniper department.
      "You know, I think we might have enough on this board to plead your case," he tells Bucky, with a faint smile on his face. And it does look like enough. The inconsistencies are major enough to get the guys to look into. It won't be half-assed evidence now, will it? Bucky smiles widely at Steve.
      "You think so?" And Bucky just smiles.
      "Yes, I do. Tell me about the victims. Do you know them? Apart from the obvious ones?" Bucky bites his lip.
      "I know all of them," he says. Slowly, but steadily. "Some were old friends, people I met while at uni, some are old relationships. If you can call it that. But I know every single one of them." He doesn't seem as down about that as Steve would expect; it's like he has accepted it a long time ago. "At first I thought it was a coincidence. I mean, New York, it ain’t such a peaceful place. And it wasn't like I knew Jake so well… He was a drunken one night stand and I only remembered his name because I woke up at his place with a hell of a hangover and with the wrong pair of boxers on. After that his boyfriend came home and I had to make my escape through the window." Bucky chuckles at that. It must be a fond memory. "And then Susan died… She was my uni roommate. Hell of a girl, studied to be a lawyer. I think I told you 'bout her. Used to call her 'Suze'. Father Lawrence… I think I always confided in him more than you did. He helped me a lot, helped me with figuring out whether religion was my thing. I cast it aside later on, but he listened. Convinced me to give God a shot." Another fond smile crosses Bucky's face. Steve is just humming. "You know how I relate to the others. Well, Darren… You may not know him. He was Joshua's step-dad. Wrote him a letter just after Joshua died. You know how the army can be when it comes to the KIA letters. So I wrote him that letter. Told him about his son, the friends he made, how good he was with civilians. I told him that I tried to save Joshua and apologized for not being able to save him. We kept in touch after that. He kept on telling me all these stories about Joshua, about how much of a joyful kid he had been, the comic books he used to read and would then gush about. God. You should have heard him speak about Joshua. It was like he was his own kid, not just a step-son... They're all connected to me, Steve. And I hate it. Because there is the possibility that it might be your life on the line next. I don't think I can lose you." He isn't staring at Steve, but at that invitation that is tacked up on the fridge, staring without realizing he's doing it. "Or мама, папа, Peter, Elena, Maxim, Rebecca. Any of them." It almost seems like an afterthought. Like he hadn't really considered his siblings until he'd said that he wouldn't be able to cope with losing Steve. Bucky flusters just a little. Steve isn't going to mention it.
      "I am not going to let that happen, Bucky. C'mere," Steve mutters in reply and Bucky does so. He leans his back against the wooden coffee table, mimicking Steve's position. It isn't very comfortable for either of them, but Bucky doesn't seem to care either. Steve turns his head towards Bucky and looks him square in the face. "I got a gun, I got training and most importantly, I am too stubborn to let anyone just kill me. I survived a war, we both did. We will both make it through this." And he tries for cheerful, but it comes out distorted and blurry. Only then, the reality of Bucky's words truly sinks in. Someone is carefully targeting people Bucky knows, most of them that he actually likes; going from a short lived fling to two people Bucky is really close with. "I am going to fight. Fight for me. Fight for you. They won't get any of us." Fight for us. Bucky smiles. Steve decidedly puts a hand on Bucky's shoulder - metal one - and squeezes it lightly. The position is too uncomfortable too leave it too long, Bucky sighs and leans his body against Steve's,
      "You know, with a sniper, you ain't got a lotta choice. You'd think that all those years of war, you would have gotten some sense knocked in that head of yours. Where did that go? How did you get stuck with me?" Bucky wonders, and perhaps he hasn't meant to say it out loud, because he flusters just a little. "Don't. Do not read into that. I can see you doing it. This is the shock talking." Steve leans his head against Bucky's. Both of them are just so tired and shocked and worn; Steve can't bring himself to care what Bucky reads into his gestures.
      "Sniper-schmiper. Let him try," Steve protests and closes his eyes. Just a couple of minutes of rest, maybe. This is comfy. This is good. He could stay like this for hours on end. Doze off with Bucky right there. And in the comforts of his own home, it is very easy to forget the investigation going on, on the other side of the door. Easy to ignore the footsteps and loud voices and think that this is just any other night. He can imagine that the movie is about to start and neither of them will be able to watch past the opening credits because they are so tired. A small smile quirks up on Steve's face. "Besides, it isn't my fault that you got stuck with me. You glued yourself to me, remember?" Bucky just smiles. Comfort like this was doomed right from the start and Steve really should have known that.
      "Yeah. Least I did one thing right."

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