Miroslav and Thomas returned to the office with fresh information on their heels. Purposefully, they strode into the office and Thomas stopped at his desk to complete the assignment Miro had given him. Miro was on his way to the office when Jürgen caught up to him and called out to him.
“Miro, my office, please.”
Changing course as gracefully as a gazelle in the savannah, Miro followed Jürgen into the boss’ office. Thomas shook his head and set about to send the email to Sebastian Kehl that Miro had asked him to.
“Do you have any new leads?” Jürgen asked once the door shut behind his lead detective. “The Großkreutz are getting anxious, especially after you ordered the paperwork on your suspect to be dissolved.”
Miro nodded. “I don’t think Schweinsteiger did it. We’re getting closer to the real killer. I have Müller checking on something in Dortmund. I’m going to have Schweinsteiger released and—”
“Miro, you’ve been spending too much time with Müller. You’re talking about as much as he does.” Jürgen smiled a little but sat down at his office and picked up a folder before offering it to Miroslav. “Put your constable on this. He should be smart enough to work on it while you’re wrapping up the Großkreutz case.”
Miroslav took the offered folder and glanced at the name on it and frowned. “What is it?”
“A new case, I thought you would recognize what one of those look like by now, Miroslav.” Jürgen said and Miro looked up.
“You’re taking us off the Großkreutz and Brandner case?”
Jürgen shook his head and muttered something that sounded a lot like ‘definitely spent too much time with Müller’ before he spoke louder. “I said I was leaving you on the case, your constable can investigate the new one. As soon as you’re done with your case, you can assist him.”
“What about his suspension?” Miro asked, watching his boss warily.
“The paperwork has gotten lost in all this stuff on my desk. In fact, I’m pretty sure I may never find it…” Jürgen met Miro’s eyes and the older man nodded. “Just don’t let him mess it up, okay?”
Miroslav nodded and held the folder tightly in his hand. “I’m one hundred percent positive he won’t. Thank you, sir.”
Jürgen nodded. “Now, go catch us a killer and get the innocent man out of our prison. We need the room. Use Lahm if you need assistance in questioning suspects or something. Joachim took Michael back to Berlin with him and Philipp isn’t doing anything right now too seriously.”
Miro wanted to ask why Philipp couldn’t just investigate the new case then, but he didn’t. He wasn’t feeling brave enough to risk insubordination or talking back to a superior officer. Especially not after Thomas had just slipped past that in a far more public scale.
“Yes sir.” Miro nodded and left his office. He took a deep breath before he started moving over towards Thomas’ desk. The younger man leaned back from his computer as he saw Miro’s approach, smile in place when he arrived to stand next to him. Miro looked down at the excited face. He was about to disappoint him in a large way.
“Did you send that email?” Miro asked and Thomas nodded.
“Just sent it as you walked up.” Thomas grinned.
“Good, then you can start looking into this.” Miro handed over the new folder and waited for the bombardment of questions that Thomas was undoubtedly going to ask and he wasn’t necessarily going to have answers for.
“What is it?”
“Our next case.”
Thomas looked confused and Miro didn’t blame him. However, it was out of his hands.
“But we’ve almost finished the other one?” Thomas asked, disappointment leaking into his tone.
“Sadly, murder doesn’t wait for us to solve one before another starts. Thomas, I’m trusting you with this to run it by yourself until I finish this case. I promise I will be there to assist you as soon as I can and I will keep you informed of the developments in this case.” Miroslav said it almost as convincingly as if he actually believed it.
Thomas’ expression cleared as his whole body stiffened. His eyes seemed to cloud over; they became more guarded than they had been a moment ago. His excitement was gone.
“Look, if you wanted to just get me reassigned so you don’t have to deal with me, you can just say so. You don’t have to lie, Miroslav.” Thomas said, quietly and he took the new folder from the desk. Miro opened his mouth to disagree but Thomas interrupted. “Just save it. Good luck, Sir.”
With that, Thomas left the office and Miroslav watched him go with a sigh. Great.
Miroslav shook his head. He wasn’t given much time to dwell on Thomas’ departure before Podolski showed up with Schweinsteiger’s lawyer in immediate tow behind him. Miro took a moment to collect himself before he faced both of them.
“Thank you for coming. I wished to question your client again and of course, you needed to be here for that.” Miro said by way of greeting. Arjen looked as if he was going to dispute that before they even got started. “I’m also going to potentially have him released, based on his answers to a few of those questions. So if you please?” Miro gestured towards the corridor that led to the interrogation rooms. “I believe your client has already been brought up from holding and is waiting on us.”
Arjen still looked as if he was going to disagree but Miro’s polite tone and gesture silenced him. Lukas gave him a thumb’s up behind Arjen’s back as the Dutchman led the way towards the interrogation room.
“Thank you, officer Podolski. I appreciate it.” Miro told Lukas before they went their separate ways.
Arjen took a moment to prepare Bastian for questioning and then Miroslav entered a few minutes later. He sat on the opposite side of the table where he normally would and folded his hands on the table.
“Now then, Bastian. Why don’t you tell me the truth? I know you didn’t kill either of them, so what are you really afraid to tell me?” Miroslav asked and watched the former suspect from across the table.
Bastian fidgeted and looked at Arjen before the older man finally nodded and Bastian sighed. He ran his hands through his now-unkempt hair and then down his face. He looked tired, exhausted. Guilty. He released a long, held breath before he spoke.
“Sarah and I…” Bastian sighed and looked at his hands. His shoulders were tense. “Sarah and I had been having a few disagreements a lot lately, that was true. We were seeing other people because we technically weren’t together anymore. We still lived together, but it was only as friends.”
Miro watched and waited for the rest of his story.
“I’d fallen in love with someone else. His name is Mario.” Miroslav’s ears perked up. Ideas began swimming around but then Bastian quashed the thoughts before they could completely form. “Mario Gomez. We know each other from work.”
“Did she know you were bi-sexual?” Miroslav asked and Bastian nodded.
“Yes. She even knew Mario and approved of our relationship.”
“Then what were you having disagreements about?” Miro asked. He was finding it hard to believe that a couple that were still living together after so recent a break-up could handle having a new relationship starting so close to home. It wasn’t impossible, but it was incredibly astronomical.
“Bills, other stupid things. Things that didn’t matter. Who didn’t wash the dishes last. Who forgot to take the trash out. It wasn’t important.” Bastian looked as if he regretted every single of those disagreements. Miroslav couldn’t blame him.
“Did you know Kevin?”
Bastian nodded. “I met him once or twice. He and Sarah got along well, despite the fact they didn’t grow up together. Every chance he got that Sarah wasn’t busy with something, he’d come down from Dortmund and they’d hang out. He was an all right guy.”
Arjen watched Miroslav warily but Miro disregarded it. Things were starting to click into place and he believed even more firmly that Bastian hadn’t killed Kevin, or Sarah.
“What happened the night Kevin was murdered?” Miro still needed to find out about that text message, and how Bastian knew about the hoodie suspect as well as the crucifix. Arjen made a sound of protest but Bastian spoke before his lawyer could.
“I really don’t know.” Bastian looked imploringly at Miroslav. “All I know is I was out with Mario and when I came back, Sarah was waiting for me and she was all shaken up. She was pale, was crying. I offered to take her to hospital, I thought she was ill, but she refused. She told me what she saw. I begged her, I begged her to call the police, to tell you, but she said no.” Bastian’s eyes filled with tears at that point and Miroslav felt another pang. “She wouldn’t. She said she had to keep me safe and that if she told anyone…”
Bastian couldn’t finish because the emotions overwhelmed him at that point. Miro’s heart went out to him and he looked at Arjen.
“We’ll have him released. He’s free to go.”
Arjen nodded and waited until Bastian had recovered before he started to pack up his paperwork. Miro spoke again, causing everyone to stop where they were.
“Bastian, why didn’t you say any of this before? Your silence made you look suspicious.”
Bastian watched Miroslav with a heartbroken look on his face. He was quiet for several moments before he found the words somewhere deep inside of himself.
“I was in shock I guess. After all, how do you tell the officer investigating the death of your best friend, someone who you loved with all your heart, that you couldn’t be trusted by them to help them? How do you live with that?”
Miro watched Bastian and he shook his head. “One last question, if you please. What did Sarah tell you she had seen?”
Bastian shook his head and swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat.
“She wouldn’t tell me much. Only that she’d seen Kevin get stabbed and he’d fallen to the ground. He’d reached out for the person that’d done it, but he couldn’t get a hold of them or something. That part didn’t make any sense.” He frowned, in thought before he continued. “She said the guy, the one in the hoodie? He’d knelt down and picked something off of Kevin before he’d made a run for it down the alley.”
“Did she say if she’d been seen by this person?” Miro asked.
Bastian nodded slowly, pale as a sheet and he whispered. “She said they had. And that she knew who it was. She wouldn’t tell me any more.”
Miro nodded slowly. “I’m sorry for your loss, Bastian. I promise we’ll find out who did this.”
Bastian nodded and wiped roughly at his cheeks. “Thank you inspector. You actually are a pretty cool guy and not a dick like the other guy.”
Miro frowned. “Thank you for the compliment but if I may, which other guy?”
“I don’t know. Tall, brown hair, kinda ugly. Mitchel? Matt? Michael? Something like that. He’s a dick.”
“When did he speak to you?” Miro asked, hopefully casually.
“When he took me to booking.” Bastian shrugged. “Thanks again, inspector. And please let me know who did this?”
Miroslav nodded and watched as Arjen and Bastian left the room. He remained in his chair and looked at the empty seat that Bastian had just left. If Michael had talked to Bastian improperly, without his lawyer present, then that was a conduct violation and he could be suspended for that. Not that Miroslav was going to use that against him. But why had Michael been talking to the suspect anyway? It wasn’t his case. And why hadn’t Lukas or one of the other officers taken Bastian to booking? That was his job, not Michael’s.
A few more questions than answers started to swirl in his mind. He realized a little too late that he’d forgotten to ask about the text. Cursing to himself, Miroslav shook his head and moved over to the evidence lock up where Sarah’s phone had been placed. He signed it out and powered it on as he walked back to his office.
He sat down and checked his emails. No reply yet from Seb. Oh well. He then picked up Sarah’s phone again and stared at the message. He didn’t believe Bastian had done it and his explanations made sense. So what was a reasonable, rational explanation to this text message?
Miro thought about it for a while, just staring at the message. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been lost in thought for before Philipp came over and knocked on his doorframe. Miro blinked and looked up.
“Hey,” Philipp greeted and smiled slightly at Miro. “Klinsi told me I’m to help you finish your case?”
Miro nodded, a small sigh slipped out as he did. Philipp gave him an understanding look before he looked at the empty evidence bag on Miro’s desk and then at the phone in his hand.
“Need some help with something?”
Miro nodded and then looked thoughtfully at Philipp. “What would be a reasonable explanation to you sending a text message accusing someone of murder if you knew that person didn’t do it?”
Philipp paused a moment, thoughtful look on his face. He shrugged. “I don’t know. Sent it to the wrong person, I guess?”
Miro frowned. Now why didn’t I think of that? He glanced at the screen on the phone and checked Sarah’s contacts. Bastian wasn’t listed as Schweinsteiger or Bastian. He was under ‘My love’. That was cute. Miro shook his head absently as he read the contacts near his position and he froze, eyes widened as he did so.
“Fuck.” He swore, causing great surprise in Philipp but Miro didn’t care. He reached for the phone and dialed Sebastian’s number as quickly as he could. It took a few beats of the phone to ring before someone answered.
“Is Detective Kehl in? It’s urgent.” Miro told the operator.
“Just a moment sir, I’ll transfer you.” She said before the phone began to ring again. Miroslav tapped his fingers impatiently on his knee.
“This is Kehl.” The voice of his friend came across after what felt like hours. Miro looked at Philipp who was watching him with a curious expression on his face.
“Seb? It’s Miro. I need you to check something for me and get me an address. I know who our killer is and you can help me find him.”