“Can I be offended if I think she’s cheating on me?” Bucky asked, balancing his phone between his ear and his shoulder as he poured a splash more rum into his mojito.
“Rum makes you maudlin,” Loki reminded him, his voice tinny over speakerphone. There was the sound of water sloshing in the background, so either he was taking a bath, already by the pool, or his drink was larger than Bucky’s was.
“And vodka makes me paranoid.”
“So drink a beer.”
“I haven’t had vodka today,” Bucky pointed out. "What I’ve had is no sex in 13 days and one obligatory phone call. If she’s not cheating on me – and her husband – then she’s rapidly losing interest.“
There was a shhhhlct sound over the phone.
"Are you shaving?” Bucky asked in disbelief.
“Maybe some of us have let ourselves go,” Loki pointed out in a dispassionately catty tone. "But not all of us have the luxury of not putting in the effort daily.“
"Ok, whatever,” Bucky rolled his eyes. “You know half of it you do for your own exacting preferences.” It was an odd friendship between them borne from a game of ‘younger relative or paid entertainment’ played during a tediously monotonous party.
“Not all of us can get away with just trimming our pubes so our dicks look bigger and more uniform.”
“Yeah, but not all of us get to just lie there and take it.”
Loki was silent for a moment and then changed the subject, more of a sign that he was acknowledging the accuracy of that statement than verbally agreeing would be. “Do you have a back up plan if this goes south?”
“I have three. Lady Platten thinks I’m sweet.”
Loki snorted. "All her wealth is tied into her late husband’s estate.“
Well. Not everyone could have a back up plan that included moving back into their childhood bedroom and still maintain their lifestyle. If Bucky was on his own he’d have to rely on his one published book to support him. He’d be living in a studio apartment and eating ramen in no time.
"Maybe I’ll see if your mom wants company,” he told Loki.
"It’d be good for her,” Loki agreed. "I will pay you to seduce my mother from my own trust fund.“
Bucky made a face. That backfired.
Loki called Bucky often, but he rarely called Bucky and demanded that he come over immediately for an emergency. Loki might be dramatic but he also liked his space, and he definitely wasn’t the type who needed suggestions on what to wear, so Bucky found himself responding by driving over to the large house in the richer part of town. Where they lived, all parts of town were rich.
"What is it?” Bucky hissed after Loki gestured for him to be quiet the moment he opened the ornate door.
“Shut up,” Loki said in a normal voice and then pulled Bucky through the door. He hadn’t been to Loki’s lover’s house often. It was a huge monstrosity that made Bucky think of dick comparisons. His girlfriend’s dick was smaller than Loki’s boyfriend’s. Loki’s family had the biggest dick of all. It wasn’t really a secret that most of society figured Loki was slumming. "He’s dead,“ Loki said, slamming the door behind him.
"Who?” Bucky asked in concern, his tone softening. Loki didn’t get along with his family, but Bucky thought it was because he cared too much in an odd way. If someone was dead then Loki would be distraught, and it definitely explained why he’d call Bucky over. “Your father.”
“No,” Loki corrected him impatiently. "He’s dead.“
Then he gestured across the open marble entryway into the living room, where there was a dead body very visible even from this distance. It took Bucky eighteen steps to cross over and look into the room. Then he stared at the body lying face down on the ground, completely naked. Blood had soaked through into the lush carpet, and it was dark as though it had time to dry. "Oh.” Bucky said, and thought about how he could use this for his next book. “Gross.”
“Gross?” Loki echoed, incredulously. “You’re the one who wrote about someone being impaled. I figured you’d be better with blood.”
“I didn’t realize you read my book,” he responded, walking around the body, careful not to touch the blood. “Did you check for a pulse?”
“Be more helpful,” Loki snapped.
“I didn’t even realize he could die,” Bucky pointed out, skirting the blood splatter. “He always seemed like the kind of asshole who could live forever.”
“I was here,” Loki said, his wringing his hands in that subconscious way he did when he actually was upset. “We fucked this morning, and when I finished showering he was gone, so I took a nap.”
“For 8 hours?”
“I know what it looks like,” Loki answered. “I didn’t do it.” He grabbed Bucky’s arm. “I’m not lying. You need to help me hide the body.”
Bucky considered that, rationally. He looked down at the body. He looked at the stained white carpet. He thought of the amount of staff wandering around the building. “We need to call the police.”
“No,” Loki said.
Lieutenant Steve Rogers had a soft, sympathetic face. He didn’t blink when Loki bluntly said that the dead man was his sugar daddy, a term neither of them particularly used often because they weren’t into the kink of the term. He also didn’t treat either of them differently afterwards as he took their statements. His partner was a lot less respectful.
“I’ll be honest,” he told Loki after closing his notebook. The body had been removed from the room by the ME’s office. Bucky had heard someone mention that it looked like a poker from the ornate fireplace was missing. “It doesn’t look good for you. It would be wise if you started looking for a lawyer. A good one.”
Loki started laughing. He stood and paced over to the wetbar and poured himself a healthy sized drink, downing it in a few smooth gulps. “A good lawyer,” he repeated, and poured himself another glass.
Officer Rogers raised an eyebrow towards Bucky.
“His brother is Thor Odinson,” Bucky inserted.
It was the first time Lieutenant Rogers reacted to anything outwardly. “I know Thor,” he said.
“I imagine all of you know Thor,” Loki answered, saluting both of them with his half-full tumbler before drinking that glass down as well.
Loki showed up at Bucky’s condo holding four shopping bags and wearing a scowl. “I just came from Odinson’s office,” he said, pushing his way through the door. He continued walking across the living room and down the hallway, dumping his bags in the spare room he sometimes slept in while drunk.
“It looks like you just came from Macy’s,” Bucky said.
Loki sneered like Bucky had said ‘Walmart’. “Yes, well, half my credit cards are currently frozen, and I’m not allowed back in the house. I’ll need clothes, and excuse me but I’m not wearing your spare pyjamas.”
Bucky had thought Loki would go home, not squat in his spare bedroom. “What did your lawyer say?” he ventured, sure Loki’s black mood couldn’t get any worse.
“After he finished laughing?” Loki snapped. “He told me I was screwed in a cheerful tone and then told me he’d save me in trial.”
Thor Odinson was one of the best defense lawyers in the country. Every time they were in the same room as each other, Loki verbally decimated him.
“Which means,” Loki continued in his sly, but stubborn tone. It was the same voice he used when he was plotting out which rich person he was going to seduce next. Bucky had a bad feeling about this. “I’ll have to make sure this never goes to trial. The police are useless, so I’ll have to solve it myself.”
Yep. There it was.
Being Loki’s roommate in a one-bathroom condo was an arduous experience. He had a nightly routine and a morning routine, and in between both Bucky had been sleeping. Bucky felt like he was going to spend his life in a perpetual state of needing to piss and getting beat to the bathroom. He may as well be living with Becca.
“Ok,” Bucky said, uncapping the top of a whiteboard marker. He wrote “poker?” on the glass door leading out to his balcony. He’d been using the surface to plot out his second book, but it had been 6 months since he’d looked at it. “Did you notice it was missing?” he asked. Loki was just finishing making a batch of mimosas for their breakfast.
“Of course I did,” Loki said. “Someone gets stabbed and the first thing people do is look around for a weapon. There weren’t many other things in the room that could break skin.”
Bucky wrote the word Weapon on top of poker. He then stepped a foot over and wrote Motive? on the glass. Then below that he put Money? and then Enemies?
“Rich people always have enemies. I didn’t pay that much attention.”
“Ok,” Bucky said, and circled the word poker. “How are we going to find this, then?”
“I have some ideas.”
Bucky had to call Lieutenant Rogers after the two of them found the missing poker in a dumpster two miles away from the house. Bucky couldn’t smell anything but garbage, his pants were covered in something noxious, and his white sneakers were stained with muddy water and grosser things. He’d probably need to take 8 showers and bathe in tomato juice just to smell normal again.
Loki looked just as awful as he did, but he also looked unbearably pleased with himself. Bucky had no idea how Loki lived the kind of charmed life that meant stubborn perseverance and a half-witted idea actually payed off.
“I’d ask how you knew,” Rogers said, observing the two of them as someone wrapped the poker in plastic behind him and started processing the scene. “But the two of you look like you’ve spent the day poking your heads in dumpsters.”
“Fascinating,” Loki replied in a deadpan. “You have basic observational skills.” Then his eyes narrowed at the alley entrance where an attractive man in an expensive suit was loitering. “Excuse me.”
“Don’t mind Loki,” Bucky told Lieutenant Rogers. “That’s just his personality. It grows on you.”
“I’m glad you called me,” Lieutenant Rogers said, and his handsome face looked so earnest that Bucky couldn’t take the words as anything other than genuine. “I didn’t expect you to keep the card.”
That had been one fight Loki lost, and Bucky figured the only reason he’d capitulated to calling the cops was how bad it would look if he took the poker himself. The cops had access to fingerprint databases and the like. “A handsome man like you?” Bucky asked and grinned.
Lieutenant Rogers blushed. “If I warned the two of you off of investigating this on your own, would you listen?”
Bucky didn’t bother denying it. He looked at Loki, who was leaning close to his brother and had his ‘mean and baiting’ expression on his face. Bucky had seen Loki in action when he’d been trying to secure himself a boyfriend higher in society the year before. He’d seen a lot of expressions. “No, sorry.”
Bucky returned from visiting his girlfriend to find Loki sitting on the couch looking at printouts from something that was clearly pictures he’d taken from his phone. Mentally, Bucky sighed, and wondered if he wanted to ask.
“What are those?” he asked.
“The Grandmaster’s ledger,” Loki said, sipping at his drink and crossing his legs casually. “He wasn’t very good at keeping records. I’ve already picked out four discrepancies, and I’m only on page 13. I think his accountant was stealing 0.5% a month. Not enough to really raise red flags, but enough to afford a nicer apartment. Good for him.”
Sometimes Bucky forgot that the reason they got along was that they were both more intelligent than the people around them, but then Loki never really let anyone forget that he was singular. “Did you break into the house?”
“I have a key,” Loki pointed out in a clear ‘these incompetent idiots didn’t change the locks’ tone. “It’s hardly breaking in.”
God, they were both going to go to jail. Bucky sighed out loud. “We should tell the police.”
“You can tell Lieutenant Sexy if you want.” Loki gave him a knowing look and took another sip from his drink. “I haven’t found anything that points to a reason for murder. If anything, I’ve just found a lot of reasons to keep the man alive for as long as possible.”
Bucky pulled out his phone so he could give Lieutenant Sexy a call. That name was definitely going to stick. “It hardly points to murder,” Rogers said once he heard Bucky out. Loki’s face did his insufferably smug expression that made Bucky grit his teeth. “But there might be something there. Can Loki provide me with the combination for the safe?”
Bucky looked at Loki. “Numerical representations on a keypad of the words Purple Rain,” Loki said in a bored tone.
“I’m on speaker?” Rogers inquired, and Bucky could almost hear the raised eyebrow. “Stay out of the house, Loki.”
“Absolutely, Lieutenant Sexy,” Loki said. “Best behaviour, cross my heart.”
“Goodbye, Bucky,” Rogers said, and it sounded like he was trying not to laugh. Bucky liked him a bit more for that.
“So that’s your type,” Loki mused once Bucky hung up the phone. “Rich women and men who know how to use their guns.”
Bucky made the unfortunate discovery the next day that Loki’s type was Thor Odinson. The sight of them making out on Bucky’s couch would forever be seared into his eyelids.
Bucky didn’t think it was a good idea to go to the funeral, but Loki lived for drama, and Bucky secretly enjoyed drama, and so the two of them put on their nicest suits and went to the party.
The night was kind of a blur of the two of them being side-eyed, alcohol, and Loki elbowing someone so hard in the solar plexus it sounded like a rib cracked. After that, he had no idea how he ended up pressed against his best friend’s side in the back of Lieutenant Sexy’s police car. Bucky feared he might have called the man. His crush was becoming detrimental to his lifestyle.
“It’s natural to be upset,” Lieutenant Rogers said to Loki. “Just stop maiming people who call you a murderer, and everything might be ok.”
“I’m not upset,” Loki corrected. “I’m inconvenienced. The old bastard had to go get murdered before I could move on.”
“We’re considering money as a motive.”
Loki visibly rolled his eyes. Bucky could feel it.
“Which means,” Lieutenant Rogers continued with a sharper tone. “You’ve moved down the suspect list. Your personal net worth is only about ten million less than your boyfriend’s had been.”
Only? Christ. How rich was Loki?
Lieutenant Rogers and Bucky’s eyes met in the rear-view mirror and they shared a ‘can you believe that ridiculous sentence?’ moment.
On day seven of staring at the whiteboard, Bucky had an epiphany. Loki had just emerged from the bathroom, and the living room smelled of steam, his shampoo, and enough body lotion to drown a small child.
Bucky had ended up pissing in the kitchen sink, and he was pretty furious about it. Not that he ever washed dishes, but that wasn’t the point.
“Maybe we’re thinking about this wrong?” Bucky suggested as he stared the murder board with a scowl. The word Weapon and Motive were blurring together. “What if Jeff Goldblum wasn’t the target?”
“Who do you suggest, then?” Loki asked, pursing his lips. The drink in his hand went mostly untouched. “Me?”
Bucky raised his eyebrows. “To ruin you and get you sent to jail? Yeah, that could be a motive.”
“Ah.” Loki considered it. It looked like he was doing complex math in his head, like the meme. “Call Lieutenant Sexy. I know who did it, then.”
“I’m single,” Bucky blurted out over the phone when Lieutenant Rogers personally called him to let him know Loki’s suggestions had panned out. “I mean, I have a girlfriend who bought me my condo and who expects me to service her once a week, but for the rest of the time I’m single.”
“Oh,” Rogers answered, sounding surprised. “I didn’t realize you were interested in men.”
“I’m more nuanced than that,” Bucky said. Mostly he just liked people who could protect him. It wasn’t that nuanced at all. “Do you want to go out sometime?”
“Sure,” Rogers answered, which also surprised Bucky, because he’d basically outright outlined the fact that he wouldn’t be giving up his lifestyle in order to date and Lieutenant Sexy was ok with that. “Do you like mini golf?”
“I’m crap at it,” Bucky said.
“Me too, but the place here has the best ice cream and a nice view of the ocean.”
“I love ice cream,” Bucky replied with a grin he could feel in his cheeks.
“I’m off on Tuesday,” Rogers replied.
“Tuesday it is, then.”
“I’m moving in with my brother,” Loki told him, throwing all his new clothing into a plastic bag. “Give these to charity,” he said, then looked Bucky up and down. “Or keep them.”
Bucky rolled his eyes and wondered: Was Thor the love of Loki’s life or another sugar daddy to piss his family off?
He also wondered if Loki even knew.
“Don’t think about it too hard,” Loki replied. “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 4pm—” which was practically mid-morning for them. “We’ll go see who else your girlfriend is up to.”
“I’ve never been on a stakeout before,” Bucky mused. “And we are good at this.”
“If we can solve a murder, an adulteress should be simple.” Then Loki grinned, sly and like he was enjoying himself. “Bring drinks.”