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[personal profile] mllelaurel
Fandom: Ace Attorney
Title: Halfway to Sunlight
Characters: Ensemble, with focus on Apollo and Klavier
Pairings: Apollo/Klavier, some Wocky Kitaki/Vera Misham (I like making new pairing tags on AO3.)
Rating: M/R
Warnings: Some fairly pervasive emotional abuse themes. Some discussion of sexual abuse, late on, though nothing graphic/on-screen.
Summary: As if trying to emotionally disentangle himself from his former mentor after the Misham trial wasn’t enough, Apollo winds up with a copycat case falling into his lap, and said mentor’s younger brother a growing presence in his life. But neither of the tasks facing him will be easy, and everyone's got secrets they may or may not want to reveal.

Kristoph’s office was as much of a disaster zone as he’d feared. Every drawer had been opened and overturned, their contents rifled through and scattered. A thin layer of fingerprinting powder still lined Apollo’s old desk. Everything stank of luminol.

At least someone had been thoughtful enough to drape plastic over the bookshelves. Apollo wondered if Detective Skye’d had a hand in that. She seemed like the sort who wouldn’t let a book or laboratory get needlessly destroyed. It made his job easier, at any rate.

He was gathering up Kristoph’s deliveries, when he heard footsteps outside. His heart jumped, and he tasted bile in his mouth, because for a moment, he’d honestly believed that Kristoph himself had returned to his old haunting ground, logic and law be damned.

The intruder might have been tall and blond, but his blue eyes were darker, unhidden by glasses, and he looked as startled to see Apollo as Apollo was to see him. “Justice?” Klavier Gavin asked, his voice slightly shaky. “What are you doing here?” And Apollo thought, I could ask you the same thing, only deciding in a split second not to voice the cliche.

“He asked me to get him some things,” he admitted.

“And you’re obeying because…?”

Apollo bit the inside of his cheek. “I feel like I owe him.”

All at once, Klavier’s eyes softened. Apollo felt the prosecutor’s hand on his shoulder, firm but gentle. “Nein… Apollo, please believe me, you don’t owe that man anything.” Then why don’t you sound like you really believe that? Apollo thought.

“Not like I can talk,” Klavier continued. “Here I am as well, looking for all the lost yesterdays. That, and he’d never bothered to return my CDs - those things are vintage, you know! Can’t find them off of eBay.”

“Really?” Apollo wasn’t buying it.

He was right not to. “Nah,” Klavier said. “I’m just making that part up.”

Apollo huffed. “Well, there goes all my trust in you. How can I ever look you in the face in court again.”

“Shot my credibility, didn’t I?”

“Right through the heart. It’s dead. It’s an ex-credibility. Not like you had much to begin with, anyway.”

“Hey, at least I never got into an argument about krypton particles with a witness.”

“No,” Apollo had to smirk. “You just handed that case over to me. ‘Not Guilty’ and everything. That was nice. Thanks.”

Klavier shrugged. “Your defendant was innocent. Dumb, but innocent.”

“You’re telling me,” Apollo muttered under his breath.

“Not that I can fault him, really.” Klavier ran a hand through his hair. “Name me a man who’s never played the fool for love.”

“That sounds like a line straight out of one of your dumbass songs.”

“Doesn’t mean it’s not true.” Apollo noted how Klavier wasn’t bothering to argue the relative merit of the Gavinners’ lyrics. Maybe they’d had them foisted on by a producer. “Listen, Justice, if we’re going to banter, can we at least do it in a bar, instead of staying here all day and shriveling up?”

“Wish I could.” Drinks were expensive, and paychecks were still one of those things law school had apparently lied about. “I’m broke,” he admitted.

“Herr Forehead, for the pleasure of your company, I don’t mind paying.” Klavier paused, tilted his head. “...That came out wrong.”

Apollo could feel his face flush crimson. It would have been easy to start shouting, get flustered, be a joke in the prosecutor’s eyes, as always. Or he could go with the dry, honest facts. “Pretty sure hookers get paid more than me.”

The corners of Klavier’s eyes crinkled when he laughed. Really laughed, not the rock star interview grin. “High school teachers get paid more than you, Apollo.”

Boy was he not wrong.

Three blocks and two arguments later, a) they were at the nearest bar, b) Klavier really was paying, c) and Apollo honestly didn’t give a damn that all they had was American beer. Klavier slid a twenty over to the bartender. “Whiskey for me, and disgusting swill for Herr Shortstuff over here.” Apollo elbowed him in the ribs, like they were both ten and had known each other for every one of those ten golden summers.

Drinks in hand, they settled in, as Apollo dug for a conversation re-starter. “So, uh, how’ve you been? Band still, uh, disbanded?” Fuck. He was a real smooth operator today.

Klavier held up his glass, watched the light reflect in it. “Well, the drummer’s still talking to me.”

“That good, huh?”

“On the other hand, I’ve just won three cases in a row.”

“Yeah? That’s just ‘cause you weren’t up against me.”

“One of these days, you’ll get a guilty client, and then you’re toast, Justice.”

Apollo stretched his hands up over his head. “You realize I can tell when someone’s lying, right?” Not that it didn’t sound ridiculous, when he heard it from Mr. Wright or Trucy, but if Klavier wanted to disbelieve him, he was free to take it as a joke.

But Klavier just looked at him with a weird sort of half smile. “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“Shame it didn’t work on him.” They both knew who Apollo was talking about.

“I wonder why not.” Klavier asked. Because I didn’t know how to use it yet. Because I’m dumber than Wocky Kitaki in a box of rocks.

Instead, he shrugged. “Don’t ask me. He seemed nice. You know, normal. Friendly. Gave good advice. Straightened my hair or tie, sometimes.” Okay, that last part seemed a little touchy for a boss, now that he thought about it.

Klavier, apparently, thought so too. “The two of you didn’t-?” Klavier’s mouth twisted cynically. “He didn’t… did he?”

“You have a sordid imagination, Gavin.” He didn’t even notice the slip, reassigning the familiar name from defense attorney to prosecutor.

Klavier took another swig of his whiskey. “Well, I didn’t expect him turning out to be a psychotic murderer. I might as well cover my bases and make sure he wasn’t fucking his interns.”

The bracelet squeezed tightly around Apollo’s wrist. There was some sort of tell here, something Klavier wasn’t saying. But they weren’t in court, and the other man was not on trial. He left it alone.

Be honest, the bracelet reminded him, or maybe that was his own conscience. “Nothing happened,” he said, “but not because I didn’t want it. I was- god.” The beer wasn’t helping this. “I was an idiot, fresh out of law school, and he was-” Apollo set his teeth against the words. “Brilliant, charming, kind. Strict, but not cruel, the kind of mentor whose every bit of praise meant something.” Every word a lie, it turned out, but even a bracelet could recognize irony. “It was a sad little crush, straight out of middle school.

“He could’ve had me for the crook of a finger. He didn’t, so I guess he wasn’t interested.”

“That or he was biding his time.” Apollo shot him a quizzical look. “Till it reached a boiling point,” Klavier said. “Till it wouldn’t seem like anything but your idea, and he could wash his hands of all responsibility. Ja, that sounds like Kris, to me.”

Maybe Klavier had been right about American brews after all. Apollo felt his stomach twist, a bad taste in his mouth. “I wasn’t an intern,” he said, and the hell did that even have to do with anything?

Klavier snorted. “What, you thought he’d make you his junior partner?”

...Fine, he’d been an intern. Apollo finished the beer. It would have been a waste of someone else’s money, otherwise. “Can we not talk about this anymore?”

Klavier got up, downed his own drink. “All I’m saying is, you deserved better. I’ve seen you in action, I know.”

“Well, that’s what Mr. Wright’s for.” Even if he wasn’t even technically a lawyer anymore. Though he could be, again! Now that State v. Enigmar had been overturned.

“Ah, Herr Wright.” Klavier looked uncomfortable. “Speaking of people who deserve better. I’m afraid he did not meet me at my best.”

“So I’ve heard. Apparently you were a real jackass at that trial.”

Klavier threw up his hands. “How would you act, if your opponent looked you smugly in the face while handing you forged evidence? Or at least you thought he had?”

Apollo remembered a certain ace and chose not to comment.

“I was disappointed in him,” Klavier said. “I’d heard such great things, it was almost worth it, not going up against Kris for my first trial. And then, there he was, just another loser who’d do anything to make his case. He made me sick. But as it turned out, I was the loser, after all.”

“You’re not a loser,” Apollo said, sounding like someone’s mom.

Klavier pressed his hand against his heart. “Ach, Herr Forehead, you do care. Such regard from you is sure to keep me warm even on the coldest nights.”

You might say your petty discontent keeps me warm at night.

“Apollo, what’s wrong?” There were five feet eleven inches of rockstar suddenly leaning into his personal space. “You looked kind of white, all of a sudden.”

“You sounded like him for a moment there. Something he said, only it was kind of the opposite of what you said. It’s stupid, don’t worry about it.”

Klavier made a face like he’d just swallowed a worm without the tequila. “Ugh. Consider me chastised. I’m going to go and wash my mouth out with soap.”

“Please don’t. If I have to call an ambulance for you, I’m leaving.” He’d already banned Kristoph Gavin from this conversation once. What was it going to take, to make him stay out?

“I should go,” Klavier said, and was out the door before Apollo could stop him.


He took Vera with him the next time he visited Mr. Gavin, just like he’d promised. The man seemed gracious about the books; less so about the extra visitor. Apollo had given her space, so he wasn’t sure what it was that Kristoph had whispered to her, but she was quiet on the ride back, pencil held still in her hand. In a snap decision, he took her back to the office, rather than her apartment. It had seemed so quiet in there, last time he dropped her off. ‘You’re not alone,’ he wanted to tell her. ‘You don’t have to be alone, especially now.’

She curled up on the old couch, with her legs folded under, bandana sliding into her eyes. From his desk, Apollo could hear the tapping of lead against paper, but nothing got drawn. He made tea from tea bags he’d found in his drawer, which were probably older than Trucy. Somewhere in there, Mr. Wright wandered in, made a phone call, left again.

He came back with a box of watercolors in his hand. “You know, in some countries, it’s customary to give your guests presents. So here you go. I know they’re not great, but have you seen the price of acrylics, these days?”

Vera nodded slightly. “Art supplies are a specialty item. That’s why they raise prices.” She took the paints, dipped the brush into water. Apollo had a feeling she had better, back home, but ‘back home’ was an empty apartment.

He watched as the paper bloomed into swirls of color. Jagged bolts of blue, boxed in by red and turquoise, with swipes of orange and purple cutting through it all. He had no idea how she managed to keep the colors distinct, without turning them all into brown sludge, but he supposed that’s why she was an artist and he wasn’t. This wasn’t her usual style, either. Usually, Vera’s drawings were representative. Really representative; that’s why she’d been in the forgery mess to begin with. Abstract was new. Then again, who didn’t have a swirly colors day, every so often? Especially after dealing with Kristoph Gavin.

Phoenix cleared his throat. “You know, there’s an old friend of mine you’ve got to meet. I mean, I’ve dabbled in visual arts a little, but he does that kind of stuff for a living. ...Actually, scratch that. He’d probably hit on you. In fact, I’m just going to apologize for Larry’s existence right now, on principle. You have my blanket permission smack him. But if you want someone who knows the art world around here, he’s probably your guy.”

“You know how to draw?” Vera asked. It was news to Apollo as well.

Phoenix made the so-so gesture with his hand. “I’m okay, not great. Theatre was more my thing.” Apollo thought he looked kind of wistful. “Hey, maybe I should pick that up again.”

“I thought you were going to re-take the bar.” Maybe then Apollo wouldn’t be the only lawyer in his office. And hey, then he’d have technical seniority, how do you like that?

“Can’t a guy do more than one thing?”

“With our caseload? Yeah, probably.” Apollo sighed and resigned himself to eating ramen for the rest of his life and never getting a raise.

By the end of the night, figures began to emerge in Vera’s drawings again. Trucy, caught in motion, dancing with Mr. Hat. Apollo hunched over his desk, hair sticking up like bunny ears, with Mr. Wright looking over his shoulder, caught up in a legal brief, pointer finger extended at some particularly arcane and ungrammatical turn of phrase. He thought he’d spied a familiar purple jacket and orange pompadour in there as well, but Vera closed the sketchpad before he managed to get a good look at it.


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October 2016


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