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Innocent Until

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‘At about 9PM last night, terror struck just outside of Fraunces Tavern, a popular bar and grill in Brooklyn, New York. Two men were killed and two others seriously injured. Eyewitnesses claim a man attacked the group, including Gwen Stacy, the girlfriend of one of the deceased. The man, Steven Rogers, bludgeoned the men to death in a violent passion before surrendering to cops when they arrived. Today, we’ll talk to some of the eyewitnesses and discover, just how terrifying this brutal killing was. I’m Shirleen Allicot and this is ABC 7, Eyewitness News.’

-Shirleen Allicot, ABC 7 Eyewitness News, New York, New York (2015).

Bucky checks into the prison, flashing his badge and signing the check-in sheet at the front window. “How’s it goin’, Sam?” he asks the woman sitting behind the glass.

“Same ol, same ol,” she replies easily, looking up at him with her tacky blue eyeshadow and red curly hair. Bucky’s pretty sure she’s been working at the prison for as long as it’s been in existence. She’s a lovely lady and despite her ‘I’m a crazy cat lady’ looks, she’s kind and does a lot for Bucky when she can. So he doesn’t judge.

“See ya,” he speaks before listening to the blaring alarm that signals the doors are momentarily unlocked for him. He’s ushered into the prison, walking along with one of the guards and moving through the halls easily.

“You think he’ll crack this time? Cut a deal?” the guard asks.

“Fuck if I know,” Bucky answers, shrugging. “Guy’s a fucking rapist.”

“He’s your client?”

“Doesn’t mean I’ve gotta like ‘im,” Bucky shoots back, his brow creasing when he sees his client sitting at the table. He looks smug as always. Bucky sometimes hates the clients he takes, but for every six he knows are guilty, there’s always that innocent one. The one he really wants to advocate for and make his job defending rapists and murderers worth it.

Bucky sits down, pulling out the guy’s file. Licking his lips obsessively, Bucky scans over the material before looking up. “State’s cuttin’ you a deal if you plead guilty.”

The guy sniffs, seeming unfazed. “Bitch was drunk.”

“Bitch is suing you in civil court too, you really want twenty years in this shithole on top of scrambling to find a way to pay her off?” Bucky responds, his eyes darkening as he watches this guy. Rugged jawline, purpling eyes. He’s getting beat up in here. “You’re too small. You’ll get eaten the fuck alive in here for that long. State’s willing to give you five in county jail. That’s easy living.”

The guy tosses his head to the side, his lips twitching, clearly battling something in his head.

“Look, I can argue all day that she was drunk and consent was granted, but this is New York and precedent isn’t easy for that. This state’s still pro-female in rape cases and with media pressure to not condone ‘rape culture,’ you’re really not looking at a good case. They got semen from you, you left scratches on her wrists and need I mention the bites?”

The guy visibly cringes.

“Admit it and move the fuck on, Erick. And stop calling your victim a ‘bitch.’ That doesn’t really look good to a jury. You really wanna spend twenty years getting your ass pounded in here? You know what they do to rapists right?”

Erick looks up, his eyes round as shock is finally taking hold of him– reality setting in.

“They rape you just as bad.”


 

Carol Danvers @CaptainCarolD – 45min
What a sick fuck! Bail denied! Good #RottenRogers

Mack Mackenzie @MackMackenziee – 23min
Seriously? Denied bail?? This guy was SAVING someone! #RescueRogers

Grant Ward @HailHyGrant – 12min
@MackMackenziee And he BASHED someone’s face in? Glad bail’s denied. #RottenRogers

An hour later and a plea bargain signed, Bucky walks down the halls, pausing despite his guard-usher when he sees a scuffle in one of the halls locked away from him by bars. There’s a blond in the middle; he’s swearing up a storm and threatening that he’ll attack if the assailants get closer.

They’re laughing at him, swarming around him like bees to honey.

Bucky doesn’t know why he can’t walk away. He’s transfixed, watching the blond like he’s a caged animal. His face is sweet and Bucky wonders what such a sweet face did to get himself thrown into one of the temporary holding cells.

The guard bangs on the bars, screaming at them to knock it off.

The assailants look over, backing up but the blond doesn’t relax. He looks to Bucky, desperation and fear in those eyes. And Bucky– Bucky steps toward the bars and wraps his fingers around them, his mouth dropping open. That face, so scared, so sweet and maybe…

‘So innocent.’

“Mr. Barnes,” the guard says, jarring Bucky from his thoughts.

Bucky turns, sniffing and following the guard down the hallway toward the exit. “You know about that blond?”

“Sure. He’s big news right now,” the guard replies casually. He pauses, clearly prepping for sharing the story.

Bucky stops too, leaning against the cylinder block walls. He crosses his arms over his neatly pressed suit, feeling the silk of his blue tie resting atop his white button down.

“He bashed some guy’s face in at a bar. Snapped another’s neck and sent two into ICU. Claims he was protecting some chick but she won’t come forward about it. Says the one of the deceased was her boyfriend.”

“Bashed?”

“You should see the photos in evidence,” the guard says, clicking his tongue. “Face is unrecognizable.”

Bucky’s heart stills, a cold clutching against his fingers like a child looking for security. He swallows roughly, thinking back on that sweet face. “But he looks so–”

“Nice? Yeah. He’s a nice guy. That’s the problem. He’s refusing counsel but he’s also refusing to talk till the girl comes forward to corroborate his story. Prosecutor keeps throwing him back into the holding cell in hopes it’ll scare him.”

“She can’t do that,” Bucky bites back, his brow heavy against his eyes. “He’s charged right? So he goes into a real cell. Gets a bail hearing.”

“Oh they already did that. Boy’s not getting bail. His silence pissed the judge off.”

Bucky bites his lip, shaking his head. He’s not sure he hates anything more than abuse of the system. Without an attorney to shield this guy, he’s opened himself to a swarm of ruthless bloodsuckers and they’ll suck him dry till he’s withered and turning to dust.

“Is there gonna be a discovery period? He hasn’t pled anything right?”

“Nope. Stays silent. They keep threatening him with life in prison and he still keeps quiet.”

“Fuck,” Bucky hisses under his breath. He’s shoving his hands into his pockets, feeling his ID card and some change. “I need to represent him.” Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, a refusal to enter a plea automatically defaults to a not guilty, but that doesn’t stop the prosecution from threatening for an amended plea.

“He’s refusing counsel, Barnes,” the guard reminds.

“Let me talk to him. Please.”

“Why? He’s guilty. There’s no way around it. He killed two guys and two more could be on their way out too.”

“Because I’ve got a feeling,” Bucky defends, his gray eyes darkening in defiance. There’s a story here. If the blond is refusing to talk then he’s either guilty as charged or there’s more to this than meets the eye and Bucky’s always been a sucker for doe eyes and broad chests. There was so much fear in those eyes. The kind of fear that creeps into your bedroom at night and coils around your ankles and yanks . Murderers don’t wear that kind of fear on their faces. They relish the kill. Bucky’s a good judge of character and has always prided himself on reading people almost effortlessly. He’s got a feeling about this blond that there’s more here and he’s going to pry with a fucking crowbar if he has to for it to all come spilling out.

He’s going to pretend he’s not violating one of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct about solicitation of services…

“Look, I ain’t guaranteeing nothin’,” the guard says, holding up his hands. “But I’ll try.”

“Put us in a private room.”

“Okay, okay,” the guard says, ushering Bucky back into the hall he’d just come from and down to a private interviewing room.

Bucky looks up to see a camera, wincing at it. “Turn that off. If he accepts me as counsel, he’s invoking the attorney-client-privilege.”

“He’s gotta initiate that,” the guard answers.

“He’ll initiate it. Just turn that shit off.”

“Okay. I’ll be back with ‘im.”

Bucky sits at the table, staring up at the camera until he sees the little green light go off. He sighs, a bit of relief slipping down his spine. He pulls out a notebook and his card. Flicking the off-white little card, he looks up when he hears the door creak to reveal the guard again with the blond.

The blond’s got a bruising eye and his knuckles are all busted up.

Bucky stands up, his mouth dropping open.

“They got into a little scuffle after we left,” the guard explains. “This may be your lucky day, Rogers. Barnes is the best damn attorney this side of the country.”

“I told you!” Rogers exclaims, looking visibly angry with shaking limbs and a quivering lip. He’s a caged lion, too afraid to pounce but strong enough he can’t hide his ferocity. Bucky licks his lips, not displeased with such a powerful body exuding such restraint. “I don’t want counsel.”

“Hear me out,” Bucky says, offering out his hand to shake. “I’m Bucky Barnes.”

Bucky ?” the blond jokes out, an incredulous look upon his features.

Bucky smiles sheepishly, shrugging. “Yeah. Call me a sucker for cheesy marketing.”

“So it’s not your real name?”

Bucky notices Rogers sits down and doesn’t shake his hand. Bucky follows suit. This guy’s desperate to maintain some sense of pride– some strength and courage but Bucky’s always liked tearing people down– releasing their inhibitions. He sniffs again, his nose going cold in the chilly room.

“So your name?” Bucky asks.

“Oh,” the blond says, his face going smooth and apologetic. He licks his lips before replying. “Steve Rogers.”

“Nice to meet you, Steve,” Bucky states smoothly. “Wanna tell me your story?”

“No.”

Bucky’s heart nearly stumbles in his chest, rolling around in a disoriented stupor. “You realize they’re gunning for your entire life in here right?”

“Yep,” Steve answers, trying his best to look proud and defiant, but there’s a slight twitch to his red lips– a wincing of the eye. This guy’s terrified. Fear’s got him by the balls and it’s yanking hard.

“Look,” Bucky sighs, leaning forward. He presses his palms to the table. “The prosecution is gonna abuse you for not taking counsel. You need me. If you wanna plead guilty and go down some self-inflicted death row that’s fine, but I’m not gonna let them string you up like a fucking slab of ham and shove our justice system out the damn door.”

Steve’s brow pulls together, like a lost puppy finally finding his owner. His lips twitch, his adam’s apple bobbing in his throat when he swallows. “I– I don’t wanna die in here.”

Those words penetrate into Bucky, send him reeling back and shuddering with the small admission of a man with nothing left to lose. “Then let me help you. Okay?”

“O-okay,” Steve whispers, looking to the table. His fingers are tremoring slightly. “What– um– what happens now?”

“You tell me your side. I take notes and I ask you to invoke your attorney-client privilege.”

“You’re talking to me already?”

“It doesn’t work like that. You gotta invoke it.”

“Okay. I uh– um. I invoke it?”

Bucky settles into his seat, breathing a bit more with ease. “Okay. Start at square one. Tell me everything and if you hold something back, all you’re doing is hurting your case. I gotta know everything.”

“I don’t want you to save me,” Steve mumbles, staring at a corner in the room.

Bucky can’t hide the hitch in his breath. He notices how Steve tenses from the sound but the man doesn’t look over. “What?”

“I just want you to make sure they don’t– I don’t know. I can’t stay in that holding cell.”

Bucky nods, swallowing thickly. His jaw’s tightening and relaxing, over and over as his mind’s reeling from the short few moments he’s been with this man. This man– huge, hulking and with a presence that would bring the world to his knees. But he’s kind. He’s delicate like a fucking dandelion with no claws and trembling so much he might break.

“Steve,” Bucky rasps, suddenly weak of voice. “Let me help you.”

“Why?” Steve asks, finally looking at Bucky with watery blue eyes. Eyes so blue Bucky’s half contemplating they’re contacts. “I killed people. I–” He whimpers, letting a wrecked sob escape those trembling lips as he folds onto the table, pressing his forehead against it. “I did this. I did this. I deserve this.”

Bucky sucks in his lips, watching this man fall to pieces, like a chess board clattering to the floor. You could set it all back up again but it’d never be just as you left off from it. He takes in a deep breath, mulling over what to say.

“Why’d you kill them?”

“They were hurting her,” Steve answers softly, his voice trembling as much as his shoulders. He isn’t looking up. His voice echoing off the contours of his arms as he buries his face into them against the table. “She was crying.”

Bucky nods, tilting his head to the side. “So you were trying to protect someone.”

“I didn’t know her,” Steve continues. “But she was cryin’ and they were laughin’ and I couldn’t– I always stick my dumb nose where it don’t belong.”

Bucky runs his fingers through his ruffled locks, feeling the sticky gel he’d casually tossed in this morning. “What happened?”

“Tried to stop it. Tried talking but they didn’t wanna. Started beatin’ me up. Holdin’ her down and–” A choked sob permeates the room.

Bucky grabs at his heart in response. He already knows what was happening.

“Then what?”

“I saw red. Got so pissed I slung the two guys off me and knocked their heads together. I heard…I heard the crack but– I just couldn’t stop. I was so angry. She was screaming for help and no one was answering.” His voice is getting stronger now, more rounded out and rugged. Bucky can’t help but feel compelled to listen. This man could tell the world to jump and it’d ask how high.

“I pulled the first guy off– her um. Her boyfriend. We fought and I don’t know what happened but the next thing I know, I’m bashing his face into the cement, over and over. I see blood. I know he’s dead but I can’t stop. I couldn’t stop. I did this. I killed them.”

Bucky coughs awkwardly, clearing his throat. He heard about this case on the news. Licking his lips, Bucky prepares what to say. This part is always so crucial. So specific and central that it is quite frankly, the entire point of hiring an attorney.

“You wanna plead guilty? Or do you want me to try to get the charges lowered?”

Steve’s got his chin dipped against his chest. He’s sniffing and Bucky can see the tears that slip slowly from his eyes like little glaciers lazing down a mountain.

“Steve–”

“I heard you. I can’t afford you.”

“I’m doin’ this pro bono. You don’t owe me shit.”

Steve looks up, a shock of concern darting across his face.

Bucky shrugs. “I’m pretty frank. How we pleading, Stevie.”

“Don’t call me that,” Steve deflects, but his voice is gentle.

Bucky nods, pressing his lips together, licking at them once more. He won’t admit it aloud, but part of him is worried he took this case because Steve’s a pretty face. He’s a bear in a too-small cage and sure, he needs help. But Bucky’s looking down those orange drags he’s got on and seeing the hint of a tattoo across the collarbone. He’s seeing a broad chest and arms that the prosecutor is going to make out to be the arms of a ruthless killer. Prosecutors always go for the kill themselves. They have to win. People often look down on defense attorneys but Bucky’s never met an unkind one. He’s met countless snide, rude and terrible prosecutors. The need to win outweighs the need to find justice.

Bucky just wants justice. Yes, Steve killed people. Yes, he deserves some form of punishment. But his whole life in prison? Over protecting someone?

“Okay,” Bucky says when Steve doesn’t seem like he’ll given an answer. “You don’t wanna tell me, that’s fine. I’m goin’ home to brush up on everything the police have on your case. If you don’t tell me how you wanna plead by tomorrow, then I’m pleadin’ for you.”

“Guilty as charged?” Steve spits back.

“No. Self defense. You’re the one who wants to belly up.”

“But I killed them!” Steve shouts, a flash of what this man could be lighting up his face, igniting his pupils and broadening his shoulders.

Bucky pushes his chair back, his mouth dropping open in surprise. “Sure. You killed them. But does your whole life in prison do anything for them?”

Steve bites his lip, looking down at his hands. “It’s what’s right.”

Bucky licks the corner of his lips, watching this hulking mass make himself so small and timid. Bucky presses his tailbone into the chair till it hurts as a reminder not to think too much on how he’s such a sucker for big men with soft hearts. “No. What you did was right. It’s not good and it’s not okay in the eyes of the law. But it’s what’s right. They were gonna hurt that girl and you were the only one willing to do something about it. If we start killing off our heroes, all we’re gonna have left is villains.” Bucky stands up, pushing his chair in carefully and going to rasp on the door.

It opens a second later and he looks over his shoulder one last time. “Do yourself a favor and start believing in yourself Steve. I just met you– and I already do.”


MSNBC @MSNBC – 12h

BREAKING: Steven Rogers hires famed defense attorney, James ‘Bucky’ Barnes. on.msnbc.com/1YmkkPk

Jen Walters @JenWaltersAAL – 3min
See you in court @BuckyBBarnes

Turns out, Steve’s big news. Bucky can’t find a single news channel that’s not discussing what a rabid dog he is. Bucky’s not sure how prison photos end up making people look crazy and murderous, but Steve looks like your general grade A serial killer with purple bags under his dull eyes, hollow cheeks and pale lips. Bucky almost wants them to reshoot the damn thing because he knows this guy’s pretty.

And that’s the problem. He’s pretty. Bucky’s twirling his pen in his hand, grinding his teeth together so loudly it’s giving him a headache. He’s never represented an overtly pretty person before. He’s represented good-looking people but not– pretty .

Steve’s pretty. He’s got that patriotic jawline, good ol’ boy smile and that All-American body. His heart’s made of honey and mush and Bucky’s pretty sure he’s a blusher.

Groaning, Bucky leans forward, snatching the remote to the TV and turning that bullshit off. Steve’s Public Enemy Number 1 and Bucky’s got to work on a motion for a bail appeal. He stands up, rubbing his chilly fingers over his face. “Okay pot of coffee– looks like it’s you and me all night.”

As the coffee’s brewing, Bucky does his research. He checks Steve’s background, finds his social media and what he finds– It’s upsetting. Bucky’s looking through his profile pictures on Facebook (the dope didn’t bother putting his profile on private). His pictures are modest and Bucky notices the lack of selfies. But that’s not what’s upsetting. It’s the comments. One after the other, people who Bucky assumes were Steve’s friends are commenting. They’re shouting and cursing the day Rogers was born. They’re hoping he gets beaten to death in prison, just like he’d beaten those men. They’re throwing rape around like it’s something to joke about and some are asking him to kill himself.

Bucky cringes, closing out the web browser. It’s usually expected but tonight it’s hitting Bucky harder. He needs time to really review Steve’s case but it never hurts to look into who his clients are as people. Steve’s got a lot of pictures where he’s tagged by others. They’re not too exciting. Friends throwing arms around each other’s shoulders and he’s got a few pictures of some girls kissing his face. Bucky smiles, tracing his thumb over his lips as he stares at those pictures. Steve is a blusher.

The guy doesn’t post anything radical or heavily political on his Facebook and he seems to honestly seldom use it, but it’s there. Bucky wonders if he uses Twitter or Instagram instead but right now Bucky can’t go playing professional stalker. Sighing, he tears his gaze from a picture of Steve at a pool party (Steve has a damn shirt on. Bucky almost wants to scream).

He picks up the manila folder and opens it up, wincing at the brutality he’s faced with. The picture of the woman’s boyfriend is unrecognizable. His brains and blood are smeared against the cement. Bucky clicks his tongue, flipping through the evidentiary photos. He needs to already start gearing up for a discovery motion. He needs as much evidence for Steve as the prosecution has against him. Witnesses, experts, character testimony. Bucky needs it all. This isn’t about whether or not Steve is guilty. He is guilty. But it’s about whether or not justice is equal to the crime. Right now, a life sentence for a guy who’s never even gotten a parking ticket grinds Bucky’s gears all kind of wrong. And he was protecting that girl!

Bucky flicks back to the page with her name on it. Gwen Stacy. If Bucky can’t get Gwen to corroborate Steve’s story, most of Steve’s defense falls through and he’s still looking at a life sentence. Granted, there’s the appellate level but Bucky doesn’t want to throw this guy through the wringer that long. He’s already looking at a six month litigation as it stands.

Bucky heaves himself up, adjusting his pants and walking over to the coffee. It’s going to be a long night.


 

Are We All Susceptible to Crimes of Passion?
Does murder lurk in every heart?

Stanton E. Samenow Ph.D

Posted Aug 19, 2014 – The August 3, 2014 edition of  The Washington Post  contains in its arts section an article about “murderous muses” depicted by choreographers. Agnes de Mille in the ballet of “Fall River Legend” relates the story of Lizzy Borden, a quiet, unmarried daughter who in 1892 murdered her  parents . Sarah Kaufman, the author of the article, writes, “De Mille capitalized on what draws us to crimes of passion, the poignancy and surprise of them. There but for the grace of not having a murderous weapon handy go the rest of us.” Kaufman writes, “Murderous  rage  can so easily, so unexpectedly, erupt from an ordinary heart.”

The idea in the Post article is that, given the proper circumstances and a weapon at hand, any of us is capable of committing a so-called “ crime  of passion.” From time to time, we learn about the unassuming, well-reputed individual who suddenly grabs a kitchen knife and slaughters his spouse, or the husband who discovers his adulterous spouse in bed with her paramour and shoots both. The “crime of passion” is a misconception. Of course, crimes occur that are not premeditated or planned in advance. And yes, it would be understandable to become enraged upon discovering that one’s spouse had been unfaithful. However, most people do not react to frustration, betrayal, disappointment, and powerful threats to their  self-image  by committing murder. The person who commits a “crime of passion” has at least in his thinking  resorted to extreme measures in response to other disturbing, threatening situations.

Psychology Today Read More

 

Bucky returns to the prison the following day. He’s got his thick manila folder with names he thinks are Steve’s friends, some cases similar to Steve’s, all the evidence the prosecution has on him and general notes.

He comes up to the window, smiling at Sam before she just rings him through the door. He’s in, looking at the holding cell and still seeing Steve in there. “I thought you can’t hold him in there anymore. He was denied bail.”

The guard, a different one from yesterday just shrugs. “I don’t make the rules, pal.”

“I’m here to see him. I’m his damn attorney and you have to find him a cell while we wait his appeal.”

The guard huffs, banging his baton on the cell and shouting for Rogers.

Steve slinks through the group in the cell. Bucky cringes at the way some of these guys look at Steve. One guy even whistles at him like some low class construction working pig would a chick on the streets.

Steve slinks out and the guard claps him in handcuffs.

Bucky licks his lips, heat swelling in the pit of his stomach at how easy Steve submits to the cuffs.

“Mornin’,” Bucky says lazily.

Steve just looks at him with those big, sad puppy eyes.

“Want any coffee?” Bucky asks as they start walking toward one of the private screening rooms.

“No.”

“You eat today?”

“No.”

“Christ, Rogers,” Bucky grumbles, shooting him an aggravated look. “You’re already on trial for murder. You think you can lay off the self-inflicted punishment?”

Steve just looks at him with a somber glance, weak and full of acceptance for what he’s done. “I deserve a lot worse.”

Those words. That’s exactly the kind of thing Bucky doesn’t need to hear. It throws vivid pictures into his head like paint exploding on a wall. He swallows, imagining what Steve would look like in his playroom, tied into one of his various scenes he’s got set up. Usually, Bucky doesn’t think about clients and his personal life together. Bucky’s a bit of a… well. He’s into BDSM. But he’s never crossed that line with clients before. He’s got plenty of sub friends who ask him for help and he gives it to them, nice, hard, and unrelenting. Steve’s got ‘sub’ written all over his face despite how thick his thighs are. Steve’s begging for punishment and doesn’t know how to adequately get it because, at least from where Bucky’s sitting, the guy’s probably never explored anything sexually exciting outside of doggy style.

‘Jesus Christ, fucking stop it you fucktard.’

They sit at the table, Bucky pulling out his files and arranging everything atop it. “You gave your plea any thought?” He doesn’t look up, still arranging the papers.

“Yeah.”

“And?”

When Bucky doesn’t hear an answer, he looks up at Steve, watching the man fidget on his seat. Bucky half wonders if someone touched Steve inappropriately while he’s been away but he knows not to ask. He’d like to think if something that drastic happened, the guards or Steve would tell him. He’s got to get this guy into a solo cell. “Steve? Answer please.”

“I don’t wanna die in here,” Steve responds meekly, his dark lashes slipping over his eyes to block any fear or trepidation Bucky knows is there.

“So we say not guilty and it’s self defense?” Bucky suggests, breathing in through his nose evenly. He can’t help looking at how the shadows cast against Steve’s throat, accenting his jawline.

“Is it possible? I’ve– But I’ve confessed to you. I didn’t. People saw me. So– how’s that possible?” Steve asks, hope rounding his eyes and making him so much younger than his thirty years. “I mean– um. What’ll happen?”

Bucky smirks, picking up one of his notes. “First, we do your bail appeal. Second, I move for an extension on discovery. Prosecution’s gobbled up most of the evidence and I need time to look through it myself. We need witnesses and experts. Time to gather up a proper defense. And with all that, yes. It’s possible. But you gotta stop punishing yourself. Stop showing the world you did it and start explain why you saved someone instead.”

Steve blushes softly and Bucky nearly groans as the rosy dusting settles against those taut cheeks. “O-okay.”

“Okay, I’ve got your bail appeal set for Friday. In the meantime, I’ll get you a solo cell. And Steve? Tell me if anything happens in that holding cell. If people beat you up or anything–”

“That’s all it’s been,” Steve answers quickly. “No one’s– They make jokes but, um, no one’s actually…” He shrugs, his face reddening further. Bucky licks his lips slowly, watching the red in Steve’s cheeks travel through his face and down his throat.

“So step one. Your friends. We need some character evidence if that’s okay. I think it’d help a jury sway your favor. But if we open that door, the prosecution can also go after character testimony. I’ve got a list of people here that I think would look good on a stand, but I need you to verify how well you know them.”

“Look good on a stand?” Steve asks, his pink tongue flicking out the corner of his mouth.

Bucky tilts his head to the side, offering a soft smirk. “Juries respond better to credible, attractive people. They hold their attention.”

Steve furrows his brow but Bucky disregards it.

“Okay so, Peggy Carter, Sharon Carter, Sam Wilson, any of these people close to you?”

“All of them.”

“Peggy and Sharon. They related?”

“Yes. Cousins.”

“Okay.” Bucky jots a few notes down about the cousins and proceeds to his next question. “Who is your best friend?”

“Sam Wilson.”

“Female best friend,” Bucky continues.

“Peg.”

“What’re Peggy and Sharon to you?”

“Complicated,” Steve sighs out, sliding down in his chair. “Is that coffee offer still on?”

Bucky looks up, smirking before standing up and knocking on the door. Once the guard opens it, Bucky murmurs about getting some coffee in here and then he goes back to the table. “Explain complicated, please.”

“I…” Steve’s getting redder than a tomato and Bucky’s 100% sure this man blushes all over his body. He’d love to trace his fingers against that skin and watch the red lines rise like a sunset against supple skin.

‘Stop it…’

“I’ve been kind of…off and on dating them both.”

Bucky’s brows raise half way up into his hairline. “Well hello. And here I pegged you for vanilla.”

Steve bites his bottom lip, dipping his chin overtly adorably, that blush still lingering on his face. “N-not vanilla.”

“Oh yeah?” Bucky asks. It’s not the right question. He should be sticking to the matter at hand– getting Steve’s case going, but Bucky’s selfish. “Is there anything that could depict you as more of a monster than the media’s already doing?”

Steve shakes his head, pursing his lips. “N-no. I don’t think so. I mean, yeah they’re cousins but they don’t like, um, touch each other and we’re not exclusive so. It’s totally okay.”

“You don’t tie them up in your basement and fuck them do you?” Bucky inquires with the utmost serious expression on his face. It’s ironic. Considering that’s exactly what Bucky does in his free time when his friend Clint comes around asking for a good flogging.

Steve’s eyes go wide, his mouth dropping into the littlest ‘o.’ “No. I mean, well. I’m usually the one getting tied up.”

Bucky can’t hide the flash of surprise atop his features. His spine snaps straight up and he chokes on his saliva.

Steve dips his chin like he’s ashamed.

“That’s…No one’s gonna use that against you, Steve,” Bucky says quietly, desperately trying to regain composure. Of course he’s lying. They would certainly use this against Steve if they caught wind of his sexual preferences. Unfortunately though, that’s not what springs to the front of Bucky’s mind. Out of every client he’s ever had, out of all his life, out of every ‘crazy random happenstance,’ this one is the absolute best and simultaneously the absolute worst.

He can’t have Steve. Steve’s his client and what’s the one thing professors tell you in law school before you take the MPRE?

Don’t. Sleep. With. Your. Client.

Bucky’s thankful the guard brings them in coffee. He takes his sweet time, tearing at the sugar packets and dumping them in one by one. Steve just takes his black, watching Bucky silently. Bucky can feel those curious eyes practically on his skin. He can feel every blink of Steve’s soft eyelashes and smell the coffee on his breath with every sigh.

Bucky’s drowning. There’s a bag over his head and he’s drowning in panic and morbid curiosity. Out of every client Bucky’s ever represented, not once has he ever thought he’d find one in his lifestyle. Not that he ever thought about it. It never crossed his mind in the first place. They are clients and Bucky is the attorney. There are clear cut rules and Bucky knows plenty of attorneys who were disbarred for ethical failures such as sleeping with a client.

He takes a sip of his coffee, burning his tongue and coughing.

Steve’s patiently watching him, like the good little sub Bucky’s now absolutely sure he is. It does nothing for the heat in Bucky’s stomach. He wants this man. He wants to be the punishment Steve’s so desperate for. He wants to break him and build him right back up to face the media, the jury and judge. It’s all simple attraction. Steve’s hot. Steve’s exuding that desperate need to feel punishment and Bucky of course is all too eager to deliver. It’s just an attraction and Bucky wishes to God he could set it aside and put it in a box for another day.

Wouldn’t that be the scandal though? Attorney and client caught red handed with nipple clamps and butt plugs? Bucky’s never even thought of that– shoving a plug up a client’s ass and watching him take the stand at a trial.

The shiver that cascades down Bucky’s spine causes him to moan, but he’s quick enough to correct the mistake. “Good coffee.”

“Tastes burnt.”

“Good sugar,” Bucky teases.

Steve offers an unsure smile, still fidgeting in his seat.

“So you let them tie you up? Together or…?”

“Is this relative to my case, sir?”

The muscles in Bucky’s legs clench at the formality. He curls his toes in his dress shoes, feeling the knuckles crack and strain from the intensity. “N-no. I guess not.”

Steve looks to the photos on the table, bringing up his handcuffed hands and grabbing them. “I really did a number on them.”

“And I need to show the jury why it was reasonable.”

“They were gonna rape her,” Steve explains, still staring at the pictures. Bucky can’t stop staring at the handcuffs. “Has she said anything?”

Bucky scrunches up his face, shaking his head from side to side. “Not yet. But I’m gonna talk to her. Though I’ve heard she’s making some rounds with some news stations, so we’ll see how that goes.”

“Are you serious?”

“You’re hot news apparently,” Bucky sings, leaning back in the chair. “You should see the hashtags on twitter.”

“Do I wanna know?”

“Probably not.” Bucky’s dive into social media led him to all kinds of things he didn’t think would ever occur, including the vast hate he was getting on his twitter account, but as the saying goes: haters make you famous. Steve’s a high profile client and regardless of Bucky’s pro bono representation or not, he’s still getting a lot of notice for this case and he hasn’t even been on it for longer than forty-eight hours.

“So, you’re gonna track down my friends and get them to testify for me?”

“Yep,” Bucky answers, lightly tugging the pictures of the bludgeoning back to the folder and away from Steve. He can’t stomach seeing the pain and remorse etched so heavily into the crinkles of Steve’s eyes. “Were any of them with you at the bar?”

“Yeah, Sam. He was inside.” Steve deflates. “In all my life, I never thought this would happen to me.” He sighs, rubbing his fingers roughly against his face, reddening his features.

“Yeah,” Bucky attempts, feeling his voice die before it has a chance to live. He’s never imagined what it’s like to be on the other end. Steve’s a scared lion in a cage too small but he’s just like the Cowardly Lion in Oz. He’s all size and no bite. No matter what happens, prison will kill him. He’s too good.

“I’ll see you in court,” Bucky abruptly says, standing up and swiping the folder into his arms.

“You’re leaving?” Steve gasps, his eyes alit with anxious tension.

Bucky purses his lips, blinking a few times. “We don’t have much else to discuss right now.”

“We can talk about my friends. Or– or about me? I dunno. Please don’t leave yet.”

Bucky’s heart tugs, like it’s trying its best to trudge up to this man and wrap itself around him. He plops back into the seat, wincing when his tailbone hits the hard surface too forcefully. “Okay. Let’s talk about you.”

“Whaddya wanna know?”

“College?”

“NYU. Art.”

Bucky quirks a brow. “Really?”

“Yeah, I draw. Wanted to do traditional animation.” He looks to Bucky’s folder, nibbling on his bottom lip.

Bucky stares, before looking down at the folder and then to the pen in his jacket. He pulls out a piece of paper with some scribbled notes on it and the pen. “Think you can draw with your hands cuffed?”

“They’re not tied together. I could draw you?”

Bucky smiles nodding softly. “Sure thing.”

Steve takes the pen and paper, looking up and down at Bucky before staring at the page. At first, it’s all blobs and weird lines but Bucky starts seeing the shape of a head and then Steve goes in for the eyes.

“So art. Saw you’re a vet too.”

“How’d you find that out?” Steve asks, looking to the paper. He’s filling in one of Bucky’s pupils.

“Facebook.”

“Oh yeah,” Steve laughs, looking up at Bucky again, analyzing him more intently than Bucky’s usually comfortable with.

Bucky coughs, looking away. “Doesn’t help your case much. Being a vet.”

“Why would it? America loves their troops but hates their vets.” He’s drawing again, shading around the cheek bones and the bridge of the nose. Bucky’s not even sure how he can do that with a cheap pen from the dollar store.

“You religious?” Bucky enquires, pulling out a piece of paper to jot down anything he thinks may help Steve’s case. He also needs to follow up with Sam and get him on the witness stand when the trial starts.

“Catholic,” Steve answers automatically. He’s licking at his bottom lip– side to side, over and over. It’s distracting Bucky, making the room grow tepid from its usual chill. “You?”

“Never had much faith in a God that doesn’t seem to have much faith in me.”

“Fair enough,” Steve lilts, moving the pen quickly, almost like magic as he’s filling out Bucky’s lips on the page.

“Did you have a job? Before all this?”

Steve sniffs, taking his time to answer as he’s shading out Bucky’s chin and neck. “Yup. Worked at my school’s art department for the Chair. Pretty sure I’m fired.”

“Probably,” Bucky smiles, tilting his chin up to get a better look at Steve’s drawing. “You’re damn good.”

“My mom used’ta say it’s cause I got bored easily. I’d go into my head and start drawing stuff.”

“You get bored easily?”

“Maybe. I can’t focus on stuff too long. I’m not ADD or nothin’, but I just have a lot goin’ through my head.”

Bucky nods. He understands that. What that really correlates to him, is that Steve’s smart. He’s aware of himself, which makes this case that much harder. Steve’s a big guy with a military past. He’s smart and probably has good grades. He’s got the makings of serial killing disasters even if this is being seen as a crime of passion. He still brutally murdered two men. And Bucky wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the other two sue for assault.

“You’re a nice guy, Steve,” Bucky blurts, unabashed and unashamed.

Steve’s head snaps up from the drawing, his mouth hanging open in astonishment. His eyes look watery, but Bucky’s not sure if that’s the dim lighting in the room catching on those blue hues or if he’s in fact that big of a softie. “Thanks. I– um. I try.”

Bucky smiles, but no happiness lights his eyes. He’s sad. Steve’s as gentle as they come with a heart too big for his body. He fucked up. He fucked up bad, but he’s not the ruthless killer the media’s stringing him up to be. He’s not a devil and he’s certainly not a repetitive criminal. As much as it pains Bucky to think it– this may have been a terrible idea, taking Steve’s case.

Bucky’s not even known him for forty-eight hours and he’s already thinking Steve’s a nice guy.

Shit.


 

It Started with Rogers: A Veteran Epidemic

By Min-Na Chen

With Steven Rogers’ bail rehearing occurring in less than several hours, all of New York is waiting in anticipation to know whether or not it’ll have a killer on its streets. Steven Rogers– age 30, was studying traditional art and animation at New York University prior to his brutal murders of Eddie Brock (25) and Harry Osbourne (24). Brock was a running back for NYU and promising leader of his community. He was studying politics and photography before Rogers cut his life short in a burst of cruel passion. Osbourne was a promising future scientist, looking to take over his father’s company Oscorp before his early demise. Rogers has been kept locked away in state prison and his attorney James ‘Bucky’ Barnes has yet to come forward with a statement, but does this silence proclaim an admission of guilt? Rogers has a military background, graduating high school and immediately enlisting in the Army before serving three tours in Iraq. He has no drug or alcohol history but his size and training lead us to believe him capable of murderous intent. No statement has been given why Rogers attacked these men and injured two others, but we can look at the facts.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine conducted a study of small pool of 1,388 veterans and found that 23% of them with PTSD and high irritability were arrested for criminal offenses. 9% without combat trauma had been arrested since their combat deployment. 223,000 veterans are currently in prison and 17,000 active-duty soldiers are in military detention or awaiting judicial proceedings according to the Army. Guy Garant, a prosecutor in Philadelphia anticipates “an epidemic” of veterans in trouble with the law. Steven Rogers saw three tours in Iraq, climbing through the ranks to the role of Captain before returning to civilian life. While his chest may be decorated for his past services to America, his behavior is hardly excused. Veterans experience irritability at a higher rate than civilians according to the American Psychology Association. Rogers isn’t the only veteran capable of murder and the programs available to veterans are limited. With the bail rehearing today, New York courts will set a dangerous precedent if they think allowing a veteran, capable of murder, back onto the streets is safe. Veterans have little to no outreach programs for anger management and PTSD. It’s too late for Rogers, but what about our other veterans? Are we going to wait for this veteran epidemic to escalate to the degree of school shootings before we do something about it?

-Min-Na Chen, It Started with Rogers: A Veteran Epidemic, New York Times, (2015).

They rise when the judge takes the bench, motioning for everyone to be seated. He ruffles some papers before him and places his glasses over his nose. “Let it be known, the court addresses the matter of Steven Grant Rogers’ denied bail on the 21st of November, 2015. Counselors, please rise.”

“Good morning, Your Honor,” Bucky begins, looking over to the prosecution briefly watching Jen Walters smirk at him, an unspoken challenge. She’s one of the best the prosecution office has and she knows it. “My client wishes to review his denied bail on grounds of lack of representation and formally recognize a plea– considering he never gave one.”

“Which was his choice,” Jen adds. “Your Honor, this man is a danger to society and should remain behind bars.”

“Bars by which she means a holding cell. Rogers was denied a private or mated cell by the prosecution.”

“Is that so?” the judge asks, looking over to Jen, a brow raised.

“Your Honor, the prison system is crowded. This is New York. There simply wasn’t room.”

“Actually, Your Honor, I have evidence here with me that solitary confinement and three mated cells were available for Rogers immediate use after being charged.”

“Objection, relevance? This isn’t about where Rogers should sleep but whether or not he should have bail.”

“Sustained,” the judge answers easily.

Bucky’s knees jerk in annoyance for a moment. He grinds his teeth together, watching Jen’s smug face taunt him like a child hovering a finger in his face, annoying but not actually doing anything.

“My client has no previous record, his service record is spotless and there’s no probable cause to deny him bail. Not to mention he never actually pled one way or another at his preliminary. It’s almost Thanksgiving. Let him go home to his family.”

The judge looks over to Jen, raising his brow once more. “And what do you have to say to that?”

“A decorated service history yes, but that makes him even more of a risk. He’s a trained veteran, capable of great harm if enraged. The State only asks to protect the people.”

“Need I remind you, Your Honor, he’s innocent until proven guilty? And for that matter, he pleads not guilty and self defense.”

Bucky hears the clicks of cameras behind him but he keeps his eyes trained to the front of the room.

“We had that preliminary hearing already, Barnes,” Jen inputs. “I know you weren’t there because your client refused counsel. There’s enough evidence for probable cause that he did, in fact, do what half of that tavern saw him do.”

Bucky smirks, but the gesture is anything but kind. He’s glaring malicious intent and all the snark and hate he can muster. If she’s going to play dirty, then he’s going to have to follow suit.

Bucky takes a breath, casually shrugging while saying, “And need I remind you that he has a right to amend his plea. If you wanna engage in settlement–”

“Enough!” the judge exclaims. “In the spirit of the holidays, I’m setting bail at 10 million. The court recognizes the formally announced not guilty plea. Court is adjourned. Please meet with the clerk to set up the next court appearance.”

Jen waggles her brow at Bucky before picking up her things and swiftly making her way out of the courtroom.

Bucky turns to Steve, his face softening when he sees the man’s gone sheet white. “Hey,” Bucky soothes. “It’ll be okay. I’ve got this.” He doesn’t know whether he should touch Steve or not. He opts to just hover there awkwardly.

“10 million,” Steve breathes, swallowing thickly. “10 million.”

“Did you not hear me? I’ve got this.”

“You’ve got 10 million stashed away?” Steve exclaims, his gaze flicking to the prison guards coming his way.

“I work in criminal law. I’ve got people. And it’s just bond. We get most of it back once your trial’s over.”

“Most?”

“I got this. You’ve got one more night in prison and then tomorrow you’re out. Promise.”

Steve breathes out. It’s shaky and his limbs are trembling just as bad as the day Bucky met him. He grips the table, looking like he’d rather toss it at the prison guards than stand up with his shackled feet and handcuffed wrists to follow them out.

Bucky looks around the room. There’s news reporters and photographers. There’s a cluster of what looks to be law students and Jen is talking to a few of them. Probably her interns.

“Steve, you’re gonna be okay.”

Steve’s brows are pulling together. He’s licking at his lips obsessively, making them redder and redder– wetter and wetter. Bucky wants to reach out and touch those lips, feel how soft they are against his own.

‘Shit…’

“Steve,” Bucky coaxes. “I swear you’ll be okay.” He finally does touch him. A quick little squeeze to the shoulder.

Steve stands up, sighing heavily. His shoulders are slumped and he looks so much smaller than he really is. He nods jerkily to Bucky before about facing and following the prison guards out. The cameras click off in a violent rhythm, everyone eager to grab a picture of Steve’s face. Bucky doesn’t blame him. The guy’s a doll. If only they weren’t trying to depict him as a brutal murderer…

Bucky clicks his tongue, settling his anxious nerves that are crying out for Steve like damn flies to flame. He’s got 10 million to track down. He can’t lose focus right now. He’s got an innocent man to save.


Grant Ward @HailHyGrant – 5sec
10 million bail?? Shoulda denied! Guy is NOT safe #RottenRogers

Daisy Johnson @DaisySkyee – 2sec
@HailHyGrant Says the guy who beat up his best friend for kissing his gf… #RescueRogers

Cosmopolitan @Cosmopolitan – 1hr

15 of the hottest defendants in a criminal case! #1 is Steven Grant Rogers!: cosm.ag/0510SRgx7

Bucky lands the 10 million not even several hours later. He met up with some friends: Foggy Nelson and Matt Murdock. They’re both defense attorneys and share that pure drive to represent the innocent and wrongly charged.

Bucky has to sign over his house and car if Steve flees the States but he’s pretty sure no matter what contract got set before him, he would sign it. Steve isn’t running. Steve’s a fighter– once you get him going. At least, Bucky thinks there’s a fighter in there. With the deal in hand, Steve’s got his bail money and Bucky’s one step closer to wiping the floor with Jen’s pretty face.

He’s back at his apartment in Manhattan, looking out at the skyscrapers and all the cars that flash and glow below him. He can’t stop thinking about Steve, alone and locked away in solitary. They finally decided solitary was the best option for him. Bucky’s pretty sure it was to scare him.

He takes a sip from his tumbler, wincing at the scotch’s burn. Another night full of case file reviews and legal research to try to find out how to get Gwen Stacy to corroborate Steve’s story. She’s the key witness. She literally holds Steve’s life in her hands and yet she’s traveling to news stations and playing the mourning girlfriend.

Bucky tries to sit down and work, tries to go over ways to force Gwen to testify for Steve, instead of against. But he can’t focus. His skin feels hot and his fingers are trembling. He stops an hour in and finally calls Clint. He pretends he’s offering out his services under the pretense of being concerned for Clint, but Clint knows better.

They end up doing two scenes with Bucky slicing a riding crop into the back of Clint’s knees as Clint’s coming from overstimulation from the penis pump.


 

Gwennnnn @gwenstcyy – 1hr
Funeral for Harry and Eddie will be tomorrow.

Bucky gets Steve from the prison the following day. There’s already a line of press and protesters. They have hateful signs and are screaming at Bucky as he walks.

“Let him rot!”

“He’s a psycho!”

“You’re going to hell!”

Bucky ignores it all. His gaze is fixed on the building and the doors he knows Steve is behind– scared but relieved to put this place behind him for now. It doesn’t mean he won’t ever be back, but at least he’s got a reprieve until his sentencing. Bucky doesn’t hope it goes that way. He’s already emotionally invested and it’s not even been a solid week yet. Bucky’s usually better than this.

He doesn’t even make it to the doors before some guards are ushering Steve out in cuffs. At least he’s not in full bar attire… Bucky shakes his head. This isn’t how he’s supposed to convince America that Steve was misunderstood. His size already works against him, same with his vet record. He needs to look wounded and sympathetic– not like the monster that he’s now perfectly depicted as.

“Get those off him,” Bucky growls. “He got bail.”

The guard’s eyes linger on Steve a few seconds too long for Bucky’s liking before he’s finally taking the cuffs off and tucking them into his pocket.

“Thank you,” Bucky says, but his voice is anything but appreciative. “You okay?”

Steve bites his lower lip, his eyebrows pulling together. “That crowd for me?”

“Don’t look at ‘em,” Bucky instructs. “Just look at me, okay? I’ll get you through this.”

“Yes sir.” Steve swallows roughly but he follows closely behind Bucky along with some guards to bring up his flanks. Bucky’s now desperately trying to avoid pitching a tent in his pants.

The crowd swarms around them, shooting off questions and insults one after the other. News reporters press up to Bucky, flinging their mics in front of him.

“Mr. Barnes! Mr. Barnes– what can you tell us about the case? Is your client pleading guilty?”

Bucky ignores it.

“Did you try to kill them, Rogers?!”

“Rogers! What’s it like to bash someone’s face in?!”

Tasteless. Bucky rounds on the reporters, his eyes glaring murderous intent. “My client,” he begins, commanding the crowd to go silent. “My client just wants to go home to spend his Thanksgiving with his family. I am working diligently to provide Rogers with the best representation possible and you’re all more than welcome to camp outside the courthouse if you wish to follow our case.” With that, Bucky rolls his eyes and ushers Steve into the car.

Steve fumbles around, awkwardly bending to get into the muscle car.

Bucky glares one more time at the reporters before slipping into the driver’s seat and buckling up. He replays everything he said, making damn sure he didn’t say anything that could sway public opinion, a judge or jury. Once satisfied he kept vague, he turns to Steve.

“I hate reporters,” he announces.

Steve just smirks, staring at his feet. “Same. Never been fond of the spotlight.”

Bucky licks his lips, his gaze raking over Steve’s form. “Somehow, I don’t think that’s true.”

Steve blushes from the tip of his ears all the way down that neck. Bucky wants to peel that shirt down to see just how far that blush goes.

“Thank you,” Steve says after they’ve sat in silence for a few miles. “I didn’t ask you to be my lawyer, but thank you.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it,” Bucky flippantly responds. “S’what I do.”

“You didn’t have to though,” Steve urges. His shoulders are so broad that Bucky feels he’s taking up half of the damn car.

Bucky shrugs. “I like a challenge.”

Steve snorts softly, settling back in the seat.

They go quiet, Steve staring out the window and Bucky trying desperately to keep his gaze on the road. Steve’s body is flawless. He’s wearing street clothes instead of baggy prison outfits and his chest is sculpted from the classic ages. Bucky could dig his fingers into those tits and fuck up into Steve’s mouth.

Bucky hits the brakes a little too roughly. Steve tenses but he doesn’t say anything. They still sit in comfortable silence, waiting for the light to change. Bucky doesn’t even know if this guy would even swing his way. There’s still the whole attorney-client-thing. Why’s he even entertaining this idea? It’s not going to happen. Ever.

“Hey Bucky?”

Bucky looks over to Steve, his eyes flashing in so much hope that Steve squints at him a little funny.

“It’s green,” Steve says.

“Green?!”

“The light’s green.”

Bucky looks up, noticing that in fact, the streetlight is green. His heart’s up in his throat, wishing to God green was an indication Steve was all for Bucky’s dirty thoughts. Red-Yellow-Green: the standard go-to safewords and absolutely not what Steve was talking about.

Steve starts laughing. It’s soft at first, just like a small bell jingling in the air but then he’s howling, grabbing his chest and tossing his head back. He looks so much like a frat boy that Bucky starts wondering if he’s got any frat boy porn stashed somewhere on his computer. He’ll need it after this car ride.

“What?” Bucky asks.

“Y-you just. Your face. I dunno! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” He’s still laughing, holding onto his left pec like it’ll fall off if he lets go.

Bucky wants to know what Steve’s body feels like. He looks hard as a fucking rock but looks can be deceiving. Some of the hardest bodies crumble into the softest subs Bucky’s ever touched– bodies more like silk.

Bucky starts laughing, unsure of what else to do. They come to another stop light and Steve just starts giggling all over again.

“Rogers! If you’re gonna make fun of how I drive–”

“No!” Steve exclaims, still laughing. “Fuck, I’m so sorry. You’re just. Shit.”

“I’m shit?” Bucky quirks a brow.

“You’re the best thing that’s happened to me since what happened. I dunno. I’ve just got a good feeling about you.”

Bucky smiles, his gaze scanning up Steve’s thighs before looking up into those pretty eyes.

“We’re not outta the woods yet, Steve.”

“Oh I know. I’m just– I’m goin’ home. I never thought I’d see it again.”

Bucky nods, watching the light dull from Steve’s face. His cheery exterior crumbles away and Bucky sees the sadness rise once again.

“I don’t know what’s gonna happen– with my family. I don’t got a dad. My ma’s always workin’ and I’ll bet people’ve been sayin’ some really nasty shit to her.”

“We can file an injunction.” Bucky presses on the brake pedal as he takes a curve.

“I’ll ask her. Well, if she’s even talkin’ to me. She didn’t accept my phone call in jail.”

“You tried to call her?” Bucky’s voice rises an octave. He feels foolish for not considering Steve has a mother or what this did to her. Cases like this don’t just change the lives of the defendant or victim. They change the lives of everyone involved, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Everyone feels the bite of the media’s snarling fangs.

Steve doesn’t respond. He just wraps those big biceps of his around himself. Bucky’s not sure how, but Steve has an uncanny ability to make himself look so small. He wants to reach out and pull Steve into him, kiss his fucking face and tell him he’s going to do everything for Steve. He’ll fight this all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States if he has to. Steve didn’t murder those men. He was protecting Gwen Stacy.


 

When they arrive at Steve’s apartment, there’s a line of reporters and protestors. Someone even throws an egg at Steve’s head. Bucky gets up in the perpetrator’s face and threatens to sue for battery but Steve just grabs Bucky’s wrist and the way he looks at Bucky takes his breath away.

“Just let it go,” Steve says. His voice is soft and defeated. It’s not the kind of voice that should come out of a man who obtained the rank of Captain with the Army. But it does and Bucky accepts it.

When Bucky realizes that the reporters are just going to keep following he turns on them, teeth bared and eyes flashing with what he hopes is enough malice to send them running.

“I swear to God, if any of you disturb this man, I’ll have you in court for violation of his constitutional rights!”

They don’t walk into the apartment building with them.

They go up the few flights of stairs in silence. Steve’s face is pale and he seems to be transfixed by his feet.

Bucky hates how much he keeps checking out Steve’s ass. It’s not the kind of ass body builders get and Bucky’s quietly surprised at that– considering Steve’s size and build. It’s round and plump, like a fucking porn star and Bucky feels his mouth water. He wants to bite into those cheeks, lap at that fucking hole and taste Steve intimately.

‘You wanna lose your license you dipshit?’

Steve stops at a door, huffing.

“What?” Bucky asks, walking up and looking over his shoulder. There’s a notice of eviction. “You’re fuckin’ kidding me.” He takes the letter and starts reading it. “I’m suing.”

“No you’re not,” Steve sighs. “Fuck.” He runs his fingers through his hair and lets out the most adorable little whine that Bucky almost groans.

“Steve.” Bucky stares at him, his brow furrowed. “They can’t do this to you! You have rights!”

“And so do these people, Bucky!” Steve motions around at the other doors. “They’re scared of me and they’ve got a right to be!”

“You’re not gonna do this again. You were protecting someone.”

“And what if I wasn’t?! What if I really wanted to kill those guys?” Steve shouts.

Bucky steps back, looking around to make sure no one’s around. “Steve, shut the fuck up right now.”

Steve goes silent, his teeth snapping loudly together. Bucky pushes the man up against the wall, feeling muscles clench and watches as Steve’s mouth drops open– eyes hazing over.

“Don’t talk about your case. Not ever unless I say so, got it?” He’s got a finger aggressively pointed at Steve’s face. He’s too pissed that Steve may have compromised his own case to realize how hard Steve’s body is trembling against his.

Steve nods.

“C’mon,” Bucky grumbles, walking away with the eviction notice pressed tightly in his palm.

“Where’re we goin’?”

“To my place.”


 

‘Today we got the first look at Steven Rogers since his bail appeal. The thirty year old accused was seen getting into his attorney’s Chevy Camaro while surrounded by protestors. We spoke to a few in the crowd and were met with many opinions about the safety of New York. Bucky Barnes had a few short words for us as well and we’ll replay you those right after the break. I’m Shirleen Allicot and this is ABC 7, Eyewitness News.’

-Shirleen Allicot, ABC 7 Eyewitness News, New York, New York (2015).

Bucky doesn’t have time to think about what may be littered around his apartment while Steve’s silently behind him in the elevator. Bucky’s pretty high up in the building and for some reason, they fall into that awkward elevator silence. They really haven’t spoken much since Bucky shoved Steve up against the wall and threatened him. Bucky feels bad about that. It was uncalled for but he was terrified of someone listening. If the prosecution had been around– if someone heard them…

Bucky gulps. He wants to step back and slip his hand into Steve’s but that’s not the kind of relationship this is. Steve is a client and Bucky is an attorney. It can’t get much more outlined than that.

The elevator dings and they’re walking down the hall. Bucky prays he doesn’t have anything weird out. Actually, on second thought– he prays he does have something weird out. Maybe Steve would be into it after a stressful adventure in the big house.

Bucky opens the door, looking around the dark apartment before flicking on the light. There’s a pillow on the floor and a pile of blankets pooled around the couch. He’s got dishes stacked up high in his kitchen sink and he’s pretty sure something smells fishy.

“You don’t clean much do you?” Steve teases.

“I’ve been busy,” Bucky responds, glaring at Steve. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I– um, I’m really thankful about this. You didn’t have– I mean–”

“Steve.” Bucky holds up a hand to silence Steve. “It’s okay.”

“I should try callin’ my ma again. I know she’s upset but I just,” he pauses, sighing heavily. Bucky watches those big shoulders sink. “I gotta know if she’s okay.”

“I’ll clean up a bit. You can use my office.”

Steve nods tightly, walking away through the French doors to Bucky’s study. Bucky’s pretty sure it’s an absolute mess in there with files, memorandum and all sorts of boring legal crap. Maybe it’ll look impressive– or sad. Bucky doesn’t really have much of a life outside of his job and the Scene. He’s got friends, but most of them are just as kinky as he is. He rarely sees them unless they’re begging on their knees for him to let his seed slide down their throats.

Bucky goes to cleaning up the kitchen, replacing the garbage bag with a fresh one and throwing the other one down the garbage chute. He tries to listen through the doors to his study but all he hears is muffled words. He grabs the lip of the sink, staring at the drain. He should be putting the dishes into the dishwasher but he can’t stop thinking about Steve. He feels guilty for the guy. He’s just an overgrown teddy bear with too big a heart. His whole life is upside down and he can’t even find a single bit of footing to stand on.

And he’s scared. He’s so scared and that’s what cuts into Bucky the most. A man that big shouldn’t wear such betrayed eyes. But it’s not the world that’s betrayed him and he knows that. It’s himself. There’s so much disappointment and anger. Steve’s bottling it up, but Bucky can see right through it. He sees how tense the man is– like he’s just ready to explode. Bucky knows a cure for that, but again, violation of attorney-client relationship and would Steve even be into that?

Steve comes back out, his cheeks are red, his eyes glossy. He looks so worn out– a soldier back from a war he can’t win.

“She okay?” Bucky asks as he starts loading the dishwasher.

“She talked to me. She said she’s not taking to any reporters but they keep comin’ round. Her job’s givin’ her some time off. Guess that’s good.”

Bucky winces.

Steve awkwardly shifts on his feet, looking around. Bucky watches him. He’s like a lost puppy in a strange place. He’s unsure where it’s safe and where it’s not.

“You can make yourself at home. The couch’s real comfy.”

Steve offers a small smile, heading for the couch.

“How are you and your mom though?” Bucky inquires.

Steve slips off his shoes and pulls his knees to his chest. He drops his forehead against his knees and sobs.

Bucky drops the plate he’s holding. It crashes to the floor and explodes into pieces. He doesn’t care. He runs over to Steve, sitting beside the man and pulling Steve back into him. Steve grabs at Bucky’s arm, crying loud. His body is shaking violently. Bucky’s heart is trying to hurdle itself out of Bucky’s chest. It’s desperately reaching for this man– this innocent man who didn’t mean any harm until he did. Life’s funny like that. One moment, you’re just a regular Joe going through the day-to-day and then you’re on trial for a murder that didn’t even take you minutes to commit.

“Steve.” Bucky turns, wrapping both his arms around Steve’s chest. The man just drops his chin, letting his arms go limp as he sobs. “She still loves you. It’s scary for her too. Her son’s on trial and people are comin’ round and sayin’ all kinds of hateful things to her.”

“I know! That’s the damn problem!” Steve wails. He tears himself out of Bucky’s arms, dropping his head into his hands. “She loves me! She said she loves me and she’s– she’s so p-proud of me!”

Bucky freezes, his mouth hanging open unintelligently. No one ever sees this side of the accused. All they see is the courtroom. They see the headshots of the accused in orange jumpsuits or pictures carefully selected to depict them as monsters. Steve’s not a monster. He’s so pure that the world just can’t accept him that way. It had to blot him somehow. It had to stain his shining light before time and space itself seared apart. He’s too good. Life always finds a way to put things back in balance and this is how it balanced out Steve.

“I’m sorry.” Steve wipes at his nose, sniffing loudly. “Christ, I’m so sorry.”

“S’okay,” Bucky whispers. “I’m here for you, Steve. Anything you need.”

Steve barks out a laugh. It’s abrasive. He wipes at his puffy eyes, sniffing again. “You do this for all your clients?”

“I dunno. Maybe. Most of my clients have families that’ll take them in.”

“My ma offered. I– I told her no.”

“I understand. You’re still welcome here.”

“Whadda we do now?” Steve asks, voice broken. “I need a tissue.”

Bucky stands to grab a napkin. It’s not a tissue, but it’s at least something. He hands it over and Steve blows into it loudly. He smiles, watching Steve’s face go a little red before settling back into its porcelain.

“We gather as much evidence as possible and prepare for trial. The prosecution is gonna come at you with a lot of deals and there may be one we entertain. Right now, we work on getting some witnesses, depositions, any evidence from the scene, eyewitnesses, the whole shebang.”

“Deals?” Steve sits back into the sofa. He turns toward Bucky but he’s so closed off. His arms are wrapped around his knees that’re so tightly pressed to his chest. He looks like a damn child and it physically hurts Bucky to keep from touching him.

Bucky’s always been a sucker for men like Steve. It’s that innocence that he craves. He strives to find it in his career and he strives to find it in his life. Innocence doesn’t mean lack of sexual experience or naivety. It’s a much larger concept than that to Bucky. It’s the kind of people who strive to do good. The kinds of people who honestly believe the world is perfect with its faults and all. The people who accept their actions and seek out atonement when they’ve done wrong. People like Steve– with pure hearts and damaged souls. Bucky’s always been drawn to that kind of innocence.

“Like if you plead guilty they’ll reduce your sentence. We can’t cross them off entirely. Some deals are pretty damn good.”

“But I’ve gotta plead guilty to murder.”

“But you’ll have to plead guilty to murder.” Bucky purses his lips, watching as Steve picks at the folds in his jeans.

“I hate myself.”

“Steve–”

“I know you’re just my attorney but– I’ve had no one to talk to. I’m just, I’m just so angry .”

“I know.”

Steve snorts before saying, “Of course you do. You deal with murderers all the time.”

“Rapists too. Drug dealers. Pedophiles. Gang members.”

“Yeah I’ll bet we’re all the same,” Steve snaps, digging his fingers into his jeans. Bucky can see his fingers going white.

“No. You’re not even the littlest bit like them,” Bucky admits. “You’re so much better than that, Steve.”

“You’ve known me for a week.”

“I know. That’s the cool thing about being an attorney. We get to learn about our clients real fast. We’re your counsel but we’re also your best friend. Everything you say to me is protected. I won’t tell a single person. I swear.”

Steve nods tightly. He finally looks up, his brows knitted together. His eyes are red and those pretty lashes are all clumped together from his tears. He’s so pretty that Bucky stops breathing.

“When we first met, you asked if there was something that could make me into a monster.”

Bucky stays silent, his gaze just flicking up and down Steve’s body.

“I dunno if it counts but– I mean, aside from the fact that I’m into BDSM– I’m also pretty sure I’m gay.”

Bucky’s eyes widen and he literally feels his feet go cold.

“But you date women?”

“No, I lied. Well, I mean. Yeah they help me out but it’s just– we’re just friends. I don’t see them that way. I’ve tried.”

“So you’re their sub,” Bucky concludes.

Steve looks up like Bucky hit him. His blue eyes search around the room for a moment before locking with Bucky’s again.

“You know what a sub is?”

Bucky leans back, laughing. “This is awkward.”

“You’re a Dom aren’t you?” Steve asks, his eyes sparkling for the first time since Bucky met him.

Bucky nods.

Steve just smiles, his body relaxing, like ice melting to water. He breathes with an easy sigh, chewing on his bottom lip. Bucky mimics him for lack of anything to say.

“Wow.”

Bucky sucks in his lips to keep from laughing. He’s not sure if he feels awkward or if Steve feels awkward but the tension that was in the air before is gone. It’s replaced with something familiar, like they’re both standing on solid ground instead of trying to fumble with shaky mountains that threaten to crumble. He feels his feet go warm again.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Steve comments, leaning back into the couch. He drops his head to the side, letting Bucky get a nice look at the curve of his neck. “Attorneys like power.”

“I like protecting people,” Bucky corrects quickly. “People fall into shitty situations and sometimes attorneys are the only people that can save them.”

Steve flicks up his brow briefly. “Hero complexes. Got one of those too.”

“I’m not surprised,” Bucky teases. “You wear your heart on your sleeve.”

“That obvious?”

“Absolutely.” Bucky brings his feet up onto the couch. They just barely hit Steve’s thigh. He feels warm like sand on a summer’s day. He doesn’t pull back and Steve doesn’t fidget.

They sit there in silence. Bucky doesn’t know for how long. Part of him wants to use this. He hates admitting it, but having a gay defendant often can help sway liberals in his favor. It also helps with showing he’s more passive. He doesn’t say the thought process is right, but that’s just how the system sees it. Though he also fears if people know Steve is into BDSM that he’d be crucified as a pervert and any shot at playing “the gay card” would go right out the window.

He sighs, slumping back into the couch, his feet now flush against Steve’s thigh. He looks up at the ceiling, thinking about angles to spin this story. They need Gwen to corroborate. Bucky’ll get a chance to conduct a deposition with Gwen if she’s the prosecution’s witness but he’d rather find a way to sway her to his side. She knows Steve did this to protect her. Which to Bucky, begs the question why is she trying to put the man away who saved her life? What strings are being pulled where?

“Bucky?” Steve asks.

Bucky looks over at him, cocking a brow.

“Your feet are cold,” Steve says.

Bucky pulls his feet away, feeling his heart tremble from the loss of contact. “Sorry.”

“I can’t believe you’re a Dom. I mean, I can. But– what’re the odds?”

Bucky laughs. He tucks his feet under himself, leaning against the couch arm. He watches Steve for a moment, looking at how relaxed he is. Like Bucky’s status just instantly soothes him. It’s honestly freeing that Steve knows. Bucky’s pretty sure he looks just as relaxed now.

“You’re tellin’ me. I almost shit myself when you said you liked getting tied up.”

Steve’s brows shoot up and the tips of his ears go red. “I can’t get over that you’re an attorney and you talk like that.”

“You think attorneys don’t cuss up storms? Fuck, Rogers. Haven’t you watched TV?”

Steve just shrugs, wiggling his toes.

“So lemme ask you this,” Bucky begins, moving so he’s sitting right next to Steve. “What do you want me to do? As your attorney? We’ve got two days till your second arraignment. We still pleadin’ not guilty and self defense?”

Steve takes in a deep breath through his nose. He stares at the far wall, chewing on his lips. Bucky watches patiently, looking at the pink flesh of Steve’s tongue. He watches it travel along Steve’s lips. He wants to kiss this man. Everyone has a unique flavor and Bucky’s pretty damn sure this man tastes like a man , musky and earthen.

“Yeah, I guess,” Steve finally answers. “It’s the truth. Yeah– I killed,” his voice cracks. He sucks in another breath and tries again. “I killed them. But they were hurtin’ her and I ain’t the type to let that happen. I fucked up but– I don’t– I’m not a monster. I was just tryin’ to do right by her.”

Bucky nods. There’s that innocence that he’s so attracted to. That desire to do good and believe the world will accept his goodness. It’s so heartbreaking when innocent people realize the world is just a dark, twisted place full of disappointment. Steve saved this girl and all it got him in the end was a ruined life, the threat of life in prison and evicted from his home.

“I’m gonna do everything I can, Steve,” Bucky promises softly. “I swear to God.”

“Thought you didn’t put much faith in a god that doesn’t have much faith in you.” He smirks, looking at Bucky from the corner of his eye.

“Clever,” Bucky comments. He leans back, appraising Steve with eyes that he probably knows are too hungry for what he sees. He catches himself though, tearing his gaze away and standing up. He walks over to the hallway closet to pull out some blankets. He sets them on the coffee table before going into his bedroom and pulling a pillow off for Steve.

“Thank you,” Steve says as he takes the pillow. “You’re doin’ so much for me. I feel bad that I don’t got any money.”

“You can pay me back by charming that jury with that face of yours. I’m in this to win, Rogers.”  He turns around, heading for the bedroom. It finally hits him how tired he is and he’s got a full day of this case tomorrow, plus a few of his other ones. He needs to meet with Jen and actually speak civilly since he’s pretty sure this case is going to move to evidentiary hearings.

“Goodnight, sir.”

Bucky pauses in his doorway, his lips parting silently. He looks at the foot of his bed for a moment before thinking of the perfect response.

“Goodnight, Stevie ,” Bucky taunts, remembering the day Steve was so vehement about him using that name.

Steve doesn’t correct him this time.