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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
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.


The sun rose outside the window of Klavier’s bedroom. Needless to say, it was no longer five in the morning. It was going to be a warm day, and warmer still, with Klavier’s arms wrapped around him. Apollo’s eyelids felt heavy, and he counted the seconds, delayed each blink as long as he could.

It served him right, staying up all night before a work day. He’d have to get up any second now. He had a client to save and a case to close, and neither of those things would wait, no matter how much he wanted to bury his face in Klavier’s chest and just sleep.

He felt the gust of a sigh against his cheek, as Klavier stretched, mumbled something. “I won’t even ask what time it is. If I’m late for work again, Herr Edgeworth will-”

“Have you skinned for a rug? Yeah, I know.” Apollo’d heard stories about the Chief Prosecutor. He sounded brilliant, but terrifically intimidating.

Klavier groaned, pushed himself up into a sitting position, groped around on the nightstand for his rings. “Forgive my bad manners, but I do have to run. Just promise me this won’t be the last time I have you in my bed?”

“I’m not promising you anything.” Apollo’s face broke into a yawn. “But you know, it could happen again. Maybe. Go shower.”

“Do you want it after I’m done?”

Apollo waved him off. “I’m gonna want clean clothes, and I don’t have any here. I’ll shower at home.”

The door closed behind Klavier, and Apollo set about finding his discarded pants. The room and bed both felt colder without the other man there.

***

He returned to the Wright Anything Agency, only to find Phoenix Wright, once one of the country’s most renowned attorneys, glumly examining his hair in the mirror.

“Hey, Polly? Do you think I’m going gray just yet?”

“I’d worry less about your gray hair, and more about your gray matter, Mr. Wright.”

“Oh, that? That’s been gone for years.” Phoenix jammed his hat back on top of the spikes. “I don’t miss it. Oh, and speaking of missing things, where did you roll off to, last night?”

“Klavier’s house.” It took every last ounce of Apollo’s sleep-deprived willpower not to add ‘sticking it to the prosecution, Your Honor.’ Every. Last. Ounce.

He suspected Phoenix knew anyway.

“Guess what?” he said, and Apollo prepared himself for a barrage of teasing. What he got instead was the intel he’d been looking for.

“Turns out your girl - Dvoynaya, not Laroquette - is, in fact connected. To both victims! She used to work as a waitress at Harrow’s restaurant, about three years ago, and her son, Jason, was one of Mizuiro’s students.” Apollo couldn’t believe his luck. It couldn’t be that easy, could it?

***

His first order of the day involved a visit to Dvoynaya’s home, where no-one answered the doorbell, though Apollo thought he heard a child’s voice, inside. He’d been hoping to question her before bringing her into the trial, but so much for that. The next step involved another visit to the Prosecutor’s Office.

“Hey, Ema,” he asked. “Is there any chance I could take a look at the info from the Harrow crime scene, from, uh, five days ago?”

She hmphed. “No can do. That was a different lab jockey, not me.”

“Well, can I talk to them, then?”

“You’re gonna need a referral, warrant, something like that. Far as I know, it’s not your crime scene, either.”

Right, scratch the part where any of this was easy. “Fine, have you seen Klavier, then?” The prosecutor could probably get him access.

“Yeah,” Ema rolled her eyes skyward. “He’s not in the office right now, though, thank God.” Damn. Looked like it would be him and Trucy dragging their butts to that crime scene, tonight after court. So much for being able to crash early.

“He was disgustingly happy today,” Ema continued. “I threw a Snackoo at him - what was I thinking, waste of perfectly good karinto! - and he just caught it, ate it and complimented me on my aim. Pretty sure he got laid last night.” She wrinkled her nose.

“...And now you’re- What’s with that smile?” Ema folded her arms and peered at his face, giving him sudden empathy for witnesses he’d eyed for tells in the courtroom.

“Oh, you didn’t!” Apollo rubbed the back of his head. “The fop? Really? Seriously? You don’t know where that’s been!”

‘Hey, I know where he was last night,’ Apollo just barely managed not to say. “Can I ask you something?” he managed instead. She popped a Snackoo into her mouth and adjusted her microscope. He took that as a yes. “Can I ask why you don’t like him?”

She gave a grumbly sigh. “Why is it that a woman always needs a deep, psychological excuse to turn a guy down? He’s not my type, I’m not interested, end of story. He’s easy on the eyes, sure, but, eh. I want a guy with some dignity. Someone who knows their way around a crime lab is ideal. Oh, and someone who trusts me enough to be at least a little bit real with me, instead of trying to bury me in catch phrases and romance novel dialogue.”

She held up her hand to cut him off, right as he was about to protest. “Not like I don’t have shit of my own I’m never gonna talk to him - or you - about. And hey, for all I know he is real with you, and he does trust you. In which case, you’re a lucky guy. Either that, or he doesn’t and you’re a little putz.” The look on her face gentled a little. “But you don’t look like a putz, to me.”

“Uh, thanks?” Klavier trusted him. Having it put into words like that… That was a whole mess of feelings, all of a sudden. He’d examine them later, in detail.

“Just don’t go and prove me wrong. Now, do you have any actual questions for me, or are we still having a girl talk?”

She was the one who started it! “What, the Harrow question didn’t count?”

“Like I said, not my gig,” and she threw a Snackoo at him as well. It tasted kind of weird. Apollo wasn’t sure what she saw in them.

“Actually,” she said, as he was about to leave. “There is one more thing. One of my guys found a box of chocolates in Laroquette’s fridge, last night. I know you didn’t ask us to check the food.” He hadn’t? Fuck.

No, of course he hadn’t, outside of the fatal bento. He’d given her a list of items Kristoph might have worked through, and left out everything else, including really obvious things. Like the non-Palmolive contents of Mizuiro and Laroquette’s kitchen. Get your head back in the game, Justice. Kristoph won’t be the one up on the stand. Focus on the people who actually might be.

“Do you know if it’s the same box Mizuiro’s dessert came from?”

Ema nodded. “Looking like. There were eight missing, and we ran the remainder through for atroquinine.”

“Yeah?”

She pursed her lips. “One of the cherry cordials tested positive.”

Apollo grit his teeth. This didn’t look great for his client. “Any fingerprints? On the box or the candy.”

“I’ve got two sets. One’s Laroquette. The other’s not popping up in any of the databases.”

Apollo took a photo of the prints, lying stark in the powder. “So they belong to someone with no criminal record, unconnected to any previous trials.” He flattened back his hair with a huff. “Thanks for going the extra mile for me,” he told Ema.

“Pffft, you think I’d do boring overtime out of the goodness of my heart?” she said. “Gavin ordered the tests on the food, and I did my job." Except for the part where running lab tests wasn't actually her job, but Apollo sure wasn't going to mention that. "Guess fops are good for something, after all.”

***

The court date still managed to be a nigh-unmitigated headache. Klavier got Denise Laroquette up on the stand, first thing, and tore into her testimony. She had no alibi, obviously, and she never denied serving the chocolates to Mizuiro.

“You say you didn’t poison those chocolates, Frau Laroquette. Then, pray tell, who did? Russell Stover? If you’re lucky, you might just have a lucrative lawsuit on your hands.”

“I got them at the store,” Denise said. “The box still had the foil around it, when I brought it home.” Apollo’s bracelet spasmed around his wrist, nearly cutting off his circulation.

“Then you admit you are the only possible suspect?” She blanched, and remained quiet.

“Then how do you explain the second set of fingerprints on the box lid?” Klavier slid in his question, smooth as a puck across the ice. “If, as you say, the box was foil-wrapped until you opened it, all fingerprints left prior to purchase would have been on said foil, instead of the cardboard. Who, do you suppose, could have made contact with the box between your purchasing it and your assembling Frau Mizuiro’s lunch?”

He turned to Apollo. “Care to hazard a guess, Herr Forehead?” Apollo could practically hear Guilty Love playing in the background.

“I don’t think the box was wrapped in foil at all, by the time my client got her hands on it. Which is to say, you never purchased it, did you, Denise?” He slammed his hands down on his desk, feeling a little bad about doing this to his own witness and client. But if she wasn’t going to help him clear her, he’d have to help her whether she liked it or not. “Someone gave it to you, but who was it?”

Denise shook her head, refusing to change her story. “Like I said, I bought these. They were on sale - you can check the supermarket bulletin, if you want. I hate cordials and Kyouko loves them, so I gave them to her.” Her face was gray, but she wasn’t crying anymore.

One twitch from the bracelet, when she said she’d bought the chocolates, like before. Nothing in regards to the sale, nothing in regards to her and her partner’s respective preferences in candy. Just one contradiction.

“Are you covering for someone, Frau Laroquette?” Klavier asked her. No reply. “Someone you were having an affair with, perhaps? Just tell me. I promise, I will not shame you for your indiscretions.”

“How dare you…” Denise’s quiet, choked voice somehow managed to echo across the courtroom.

“From the size of the fingerprints, I’d say whoever it was has small, delicate hands, just like Frau Mizuiro’s. Another woman, like her? Perhaps even another artist? Don’t tell me you have a type.”

“There was not, is not, and will never be any affair!” If looks could kill, Apollo would have been left notifying Klavier’s psychotically smug next-of-kin later tonight.

One thing was certain: Denise was telling the truth again. And Apollo was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “I don’t think it’s a woman,” he said. “Small hands like that… Your Honor, I request permission to have all of Ms. Mizuiro’s and Ms. Laroquette’s students fingerprinted.” On the stand, Denise closed her eyes, defeated, and Apollo knew he was on the right track.

***

Klavier caught him outside the courthouse. “A kid? Scheiße.”

“What, you don’t like kids?”

“I like kids. I don’t like putting kids on the stand and watching them break. At least it’ll be your turn to play the villain, tomorrow.”

“You look so smug when you say that. Just gonna lie back and let me do all the work, huh?”

Klavier shrugged. “I have to let you earn your meager paycheck somehow.” A glance at Apollo’s grimace. “...You took this case pro bono, didn’t you?”

Apollo wished he hadn’t reminded him. “I couldn’t just let her do this on her own, could I? I’m gonna have to, I don’t know, start serving soup at the Borscht Bowl part time, if I want to keep making my rent.” At least Mr. Wright had told him he could always crash at the office, if he ever needed to.

“I could help out, if you want me to.”

“No thanks.” Said flatly, not allowing for a single rebuttal. Charity from a friend would have been bad enough. Apollo didn’t even like asking Clay for loans, and he’d known him since they were kids. But the way things were headed with Klavier… Making hooker jokes at his own expense was well and good; he wasn’t interested in actually feeling like one. “And no, I’m not moving in with you, either.” Too weird, too soon, too close without any room to breathe in.

Klavier held out his hands. “I thought I would offer, that is all.”

“You offered, I nixed, we’re done.” He raked a hand through his hair. “Same time, same place tomorrow?”

“Does this mean I don’t get the pleasure of your company tonight?”

The offer was tempting. Not just for the obvious reasons, but sleeping next to someone, with someone, instead of on his own, the way he’d done since college… It sounded nice. He shook his head. “No dice till this case is over. You’re distracting, rocker boy, and I’ve still got a ton of work left.”

Klavier grinned mischievously. “Achtung! You’ve uncovered the prosecution’s cunning intrigue plot: seduce the innocent young defense attorney and leave him too distracted to pay attention, thus winning the case and profiting. I’d twirl a mustache, but I would have to grow one to do it, and nobody wants that.”

“If you grow a mustache,” Apollo confirmed, “I’m never kissing you again.”

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