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Fandom: Ace Attorney
Title: Halfway to Sunlight
Characters: Ensemble, with focus on Apollo and Klavier
Pairings: Apollo/Klavier, some Wocky Kitaki/Vera Misham
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.


Klavier rejoined them at the crime scene three hours later, looking grim, with a purpling bruise over his left eye. He waved off Trucy’s concerned yelp. “Ach, don’t worry about it, fraulein. As they say, you should have seen the other guy.” The frenetic energy in his movements belied the words. He moved like a man still expecting an attack from a known quarter, hypervigilant.

“Your fangirls aren’t going to like this,” Apollo joked nervously. He didn’t like it.

“Are you kidding, Forehead? Half of them will see me as an utter badass, and the other half will want to take me home and kiss it all better. The only question remaining is, which type are you?”

“Did you just call me a fangirl, Gavin? Spoken like a man who’s not afraid to die.”

“Is that vote for option one, then?”

Trucy gave him one last worried look. “Well, I think you’re really brave, Prosecutor Gavin. You didn’t have to do that for us.”

Klavier pushed his hair out of his eyes. “Nein. That visit was overdue anyhow. But thank you for your kind thoughts.”

“Would you like some tea, or coffee, or something? I could make you some, back at the office.” Trucy’s hands were clasped in front of her, as she struggled to not reach out and take her idol’s hand, touch his shoulder or hug him. Privately, Apollo thought Klavier might have appreciated the hug, though the whole thing would only have made Trucy’s hopeless crush worse.

In response, Klavier gave her one of his most dazzling smiles. “Ja, I would like that very much, if it’s no trouble.”

Over several cups of very hot coffee (black, half a bowl of sugar,) Klavier told them what he had learned. “Meticulous bastard keeps every letter sent to him.” Just like Klavier himself, Apollo thought, then refused to carry that thought any further. “It would be touching, if it weren’t touched in the head, on all accounts. There is one woman in particular who has written him over and over again. A Fraulein Katerina Dvoynaya.” He shook his head. “Her stationery smells like lilacs.”

“What does she say?” That’s what Apollo wanted to know.

Klavier blew on his coffee and took another swallow. “She’s utterly convinced of his innocence, and neurotic about restating it, every letter, which suggests to me that she’s more likely to believe him guilty but approve of his actions, whether on a subconscious level, or deliberately obfuscating, to avoid being tagged by the police. She believes him to be someone very bright, who’s been unfairly hurt by a cruel world. Here, I will try to not ascribe motivations. The wording suggests someone who’s had little recourse in her own life, to a point of wishing for murder as a solution. And I can’t afford the luxury of sympathizing with our primary suspect, right now.”

Then why bring it up at all? Apollo thought. Klavier’s knee was still jiggling, foot drumming against the couch, and Apollo couldn’t tell whether it was caffeine or residual jitters. “We’ve established a connection between a potential copycat and her model. The next question is whether there are any connections between her and either of the victims. It’s possible there are none, in which case we go back to square one and review. Having unhealthy feelings for a murderer does not make you one yourself, after all, and I’d rather this case not rest on profiling alone.”

“I can look into that,” Apollo said. “Might be weird if you started poking around, since the burden of proof’s on the defense.”

Klavier gave a shaky laugh. “It would be almost as though I have a personal stake in this case. By all rights and ethical standards of impartiality, both of us should have been booted off, faster than you can say ‘conflict of interest,’ not assigned to it specifically.” So he felt some doubt regarding his involvement after all.

“Welcome to the Dark Age of the Law,” Apollo said dryly. “It’s dark. Now let’s use it to our advantage and stop this particular mess, at least.”

Klavier got up, took to pacing. “Either way, we will need more evidence. The two of you should hit the police headquarters, tomorrow. I’ll make my best puppy eyes at Fraulein Detective and hope that a posed forensic challenge outweighs her personal irritation with me.”

“So there’s nothing else we can do tonight?” Trucy asked.

Apollo shook his head. “Just paperwork. But that’s all me - lucky you.”

Trucy stuck out her tongue. “That’s what you get for going to law school and becoming all fancy pants and official.”

Klavier flopped back down onto the couch. “Is that my cue for being kicked out?” Trucy caught Apollo’s eye, shook her head furiously. Thanks for the vote of confidence, he thought. Glad you think I’m that much of an asshole.

“You should stay for dinner,” he said. “I mean, as long as you don’t mind it coming with a ‘frozen pizza’ warning.”

“Who says I don’t like frozen pizza. I used to live on the stuff as a kid. That, and pork lo mein.” News to Apollo. He’d always pictured the Gavins as refined. Nothing but the finest of everything. He couldn’t tell why Klavier looked wistful and a little bleary when he said it. No way of telling without asking. Apollo’s ability to Perceive was great at ‘what,’ not so hot on ‘why?’

Apollo was lost enough in thought that the hand abruptly dangling a pair of headphones in front of Klavier’s face seemed like it had appeared out of nowhere. He hadn’t even seen Mr. Wright come in. “You’re sulking on my couch,” Mr. Wright said, “and I don’t like it.” Klavier looked confused. “Put these on. I know they’re not the industry standard you’re used to, but not everyone’s loaded like you.” Apollo could hear snippets of music coming from the ear pieces, guitar and piano, and maybe some kind of strings.

“Herr Wright, I didn’t know you cared.”

Phoenix rubbed the back of his head, dislodging the beanie. “Don’t mention it. Please.”

Klavier slipped the headphones over his head, made sure the iPod cord wouldn’t tangle, and Apollo watched as something inside the other man uncoiled from the spring form it had been in, since early afternoon. The tension around his eyes and jaw eased, his shoulders un-hunched. His foot kept drumming, but to a more regular beat.

Something inside Apollo’s chest clenched at the sight, as though in inverse proportion.

“Are you going to keep staring at him, or help me with dinner,” Mr. Wright asked quietly, making Apollo jump nearly a foot in the air. “Let me guess: ‘I wasn’t staring! Why would you say something like that?’ The evidence contradicts your testimony, Justice.”

“What testimony? You were the one who said it for me!”

Klavier raised an eyebrow from the couch, pausing the music.

“My boss is a weirdo,” Apollo said, and went into the kitchen.

Over dinner, Apollo saw Klavier return to his normal self, chatting animatedly with Trucy about on-stage stunts and special effects. He had no qualms about revealing the tricks of the trade, and the glint in Trucy’s eye told Apollo a few of the Gavinners’ flashier maneuvers might wind up incorporated into her next show. Allowing for budget, of course.

“I didn’t know it helped that much,” Apollo said, as Klavier was putting his jacket on, after the plates had been cleared away.

“Huh?”

“You were jumping out of your skin, then Mr. Wright gives you his old iPod, and you’re suddenly okay again!”

Klavier looked sheepish, a little bit like he wanted to bolt, right there. “Did I look that bad?”

“Only if you were really looking for it. I looked,” Apollo admitted. “Mr. Wright looked, like a nosy asshole.”

“Well, I appreciate his nose, and I appreciate yours even more.”

“...You’re going to start calling me Nose nose now, aren’t you?”

“Well, since you’re asking so nicely, Herr Nase, I just might.” Klavier leaned against the doorjamb. “I don’t think it works that way for everyone, but for me… For me music is emotion. It speaks for you, when words fail and you’ve got nowhere to go, except inside your head. It calls to you, brings you out, sets you running. Even if it’s someone else’s, when it’s good, it does that. And when it’s your own, then you have yourself a conduit. All you have to do is ride it.”

Apollo remembered Vera’s swirls of color and thought he might understand. “Lucky. You make it sound like you practically get high, when you’re working on a song.”

“Only in the most legal, non-prosecutable, and also best ways possible.” Klavier grinned. “Hey, you want to see how I do it?”

“Isn’t that supposed to be private?” Not that Apollo knew that much about the creative process, but the image he had in his head involved reclusive, perfectionist divas. ...Okay, so maybe Klavier was only two out of those three.

“Apollo, Apollo,” Klavier threw an arm around his shoulders. “You forget that I am a performer as well. Privacy, I think, is highly overrated.”

***

Which was how Apollo found himself in the soundproofed basement of Klavier Gavin’s home - and didn’t that sound like the beginning to either a joke or a horror movie? - sitting on an amp, and watching as Klavier lovingly tuned an old guitar, grabbed some paper and pens from a desk drawer, checked the electronic output on a laptop screen.

“I can give you earplugs,” Klavier offered. “If you’re going to complain about the noise,” and Apollo rolled his eyes.

“If you’re gonna get as loud as one of your concerts, the neighbors are going to need earplugs.” Yes, despite the soundproofing.

“Good thing they think I’m cute, or they’d have called the police on me ages ago.” Klavier laughed ruefully. “One time the old ones did, and Daryan told them there was already an officer of the law present. Several, in fact, but thank you, ma’am.”

“Did it actually work?”

“Nein. But our drummer did manage not to get charged with drunk and disorderly, much as he deserved it.”

“You miss Crescend, don’t you?” Nice going, Justice. Where had that come from?

“Maybe,” Klavier said, fingers dancing over the guitar strings. A sharp, anxious, unfamiliar melody. “Just don’t tell him that.”

Apollo ran a hand through his hair. The gel was wearing out and it was starting to droop. “You did what you had to do.”

“Ja, I did my job, with him and Kris, both. I wonder, who’s next? Tell me, Forehead, have you killed anyone recently?”

“Hey, no fair! That’s a ‘have you stopped beating your wife?’ question. Penalty for leading and badgering the witness!”

“And do you hold me in contempt for it?”

“You bet I do!” He breathed out through his nose. “Besides, I doubt I rate as highly as a brother or bandmate. Oh, and I’ve never killed anyone, you paranoid weirdo. Nor am I going to. Let your logical fallacies try and work against that, Herr Prosecutor!”

“You’re my friend,” Klavier said. “At least I would like to think so.”

Apollo didn’t know why that made him grin so hard, ear to ear, till it hurt. “Yeah, fine, you are,” he said. “But only out of court. Don’t expect me to go easy on you in there.”

“A fierce friend, then, with a beautiful smile. I’m already doomed.” Apollo didn’t get the chance to sputter, as the rock star began to play in earnest.

It was loud, sure enough, but not headache-loud. High, soaring tones, and low ones, which seemed more grounded than ominous. Somewhere in there, Apollo’s eyes slipped shut, images popping into his mind with every new sound. A burst of airy, whimsical notes, like sparks in the air, sure and bright. That was Trucy. Something twangy, and a little sly, but warm and humorous, deeper than it first appeared. Mr. Wright, unless Apollo missed his guess. The scratching of pen on paper, as Klavier wrote something down. Echo of a piano key - he must have switched to the keyboard over in the corner, rolling melody like a wave, building in intensity if not volume. The reedy sound of a flute, quiet, like the music was cautiously reaching out to test the waters, and he thought of Vera. That last part must have been a clip. No way Klavier played a flute as well.

Or a violin, for that matter. Also electronic, and easily identifiable as such. There was something artificial in the graceful, dignified melody. Apollo watched the rock star swear under his breath and switch back to his guitar, tearing into a progression of boisterous chords.

“It’s not right. I just can’t seem to capture you,” muttered under his breath.

“Capture who?”

“Forehead! I thought you were asleep. If you were that tired, I should have played you a lullaby Or was I boring you?”

Apollo shook his head. “I wasn’t asleep. Just listening. You know, I had a music teacher who tried to get me to do that, all through high school. I’m pretty tone deaf, though, so that was a bust. But-”

“You don’t have to know anything about music, in order to hear.”

“Yeah.” They trailed off into comfortable silence.

“What time is it?” Klavier asked. Apollo held up his watch. It was a little after five.

...In the morning! How did that happen? At least tomorrow’s- today’s!- trial wasn’t till three. His head-first fall into panic got interrupted by Klavier grabbing his wrist, a quirky half-smile on his face. “Come on, I want to show you something.”

He found himself dragged upstairs, into a living room he hadn’t really looked at, the first time through. Leather couches, surprisingly used and comfortable-looking. A TV taking up an entire wall, larger than some movie screens Apollo’d sat in front of. Wide, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, their blinds folded to the sides, unused, leaving the room wide open to the world.

“That’s it,” Klavier said, one hand resting against the glass of the window.

Apollo peered out. “What am I looking at?” Outside, it was dark and still, though he could see the streetlamps along the drive already going out. Theirs was the only lit window. The neighbors all slept, like sane people should, though he supposed it wouldn’t be too long before work came calling for those who’d have to commute. Assuming anyone in Klavier’s expensive neighborhood actually commuted.

“It’s my favorite time of day.” Klavier still wore that strange expression.

“Don’t you mean night?”

A head shake. “Not exactly. Do you know how they say, ‘the darkest hour is just before the dawn?’ But there is something in between the two, when the sun hasn’t begin to rise properly yet, and you think it’s still pitch black out there.” Klavier flicked the light switch, leaving them in the dark. “But it’s not, is it?” And sure enough, as Apollo’s eyes adjusted, he saw some gray, the shrubbery on the lawn a little clearer than it should have been.

“If you carry the metaphor,” Klavier said, “this is the time when you keep thinking all hope is lost, and everything’s broken. And you don’t realize that you’re nearly out of it, help is already on the way; that you’re already nearly halfway to sunlight.”

“Nautical dawn,” Apollo said, not even sure where he remembered the term from.

“Ach, what a romantic you are. Not.”

So this was Klavier’s brand of optimism. There was something heartbreaking about it. It drew Apollo to the man with all the potential energy and untapped possibility of the yet-to-be-rising sun. He found himself reaching for Klavier’s outstretched hand, still chilled from the glass, and kissing the guitar-callused fingertips, breathing to warm them. He could hear Klavier’s voice catch in his throat, his own ever-chugging train of thought halting as it entered the final station.

Klavier’s free hand cupped his face, thumb tracing his cheekbone, and Apollo realized he could smell his hand lotion, hints of subtle, probably very expensive cologne, the faint scent of leather from long-removed motorcycle gloves still clinging to his fingers. Every inhaled breath was Klavier Gavin, and nothing could ever feel sweeter than the moment when Klavier closed the distance between them, mouth hot and demanding. Apollo’s hands latched on to the back of his shirt, clenching in fine silk, slipping under the hem to find warm skin. He felt more than heard Klavier’s hum of approval against his mouth.

“Is this-?” Is this okay?

“Ja,” and Klavier’s clever fingers were making quick work of his buttons, pushing his shirt off his shoulders. “More than okay.”

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