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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.


Harrow’s restaurant, Le Grand Jour, was still closed and cordoned off. The detective in charge peered at his badge and waved him through. “Say, you’re not Phoenix Wright’s new kid, are you, pal?”

Apollo nodded and Trucy waved from behind him.

“Tell him Dick Gumshoe says hello, willya? Trucy, kiddo, how long’s it been? How are you not still ten years old?”

“That’s because you got old, Uncle Richard,” she said, very sweetly and earnestly.

He ruffled her hair and laughed. “You got me, pal. Now quit making fun of an old man and- you’re here to investigate, right?”

“That’s the plan,” Apollo said. “Can you tell us what you and your people have found so far?”

The details were about what Mr. Wright had told him, at the start. Weapon originally acquired on the scene, which probably suggested murder of opportunity. No fingerprints inside the office, aside from Harrow and his accountant. DNA evidence still in processing. “Funny thing is, though,” Detective Gumshoe told them, “most of the bottle ain’t there anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“It shattered on impact, see, but there weren’t enough shards left lying around to put it back together. The killer must’ve taken the rest with him.”

“Like a trophy?”

“Or a way to keep us from finding something out.”

Apollo had a sinking feeling this would all end with him digging through a dumpster and having to pay for dry cleaning afterward. “Could I see the reservations list for the night Harrow was killed?” he asked.

Dvoynaya’s name wasn’t on it, of course. Then again, anyone could make a reservation under a fake name. “The restaurant doesn’t take walk-ins, right?”

“Nope. Heck, it doesn’t even take me. The waiters here’d probably kick me to the curb, if they saw me coming.” The detective looked forlorn. Apollo could relate.

“They probably wouldn’t let me eat here, either.” The ensuing clap on the shoulder nearly knocked him over.

He showed Detective Gumshoe a photo of Katerina Dvoynaya. “Think those snooty waiters would remember if they saw her, that night?”

Gumshoe squinted at it and stuck it in his pocket, with a “sure, pal, I’ll ask.” In the interest of fairness, Apollo also gave him photos of Mizuiro and Laroquette. Hopefully they wouldn’t have shown up here as well.

“Think the judge could get us a warrant for her trash, too? For that bottle?” Maybe this time he wouldn’t forget anything. Especially with this detective in charge. He was helpful; Apollo liked him already.

Mental checklist complete, for now, Apollo and Trucy wandered inside. There were few enough surprises to find, at this point, though Trucy was able to bag a glass shard, to use for comparison purposes, if needed. As they worked, Apollo noticed that his assistant seemed distracted, not as cheerful as she normally was.

“Hey, Truce? Everything okay?”

“Huh? Yeah, why?”

He gave her a look that said ‘you remember we can both practically read minds, right?’

“It’s stupid,” she said, fiddling with the ends of her cape.

He pulled up an expensive-looking chair. Pulled up another one, for her. “Can I ask you something first?” she said. “You really like Prosecutor Gavin, don’t you?”

Right. It was official. Everyone knew. He was pretty sure Gumshoe knew, and Apollo wasn’t even sure he’d met Klavier. “I do,” he admitted.

Trucy gave him a crinkled smile. “How can something be both cute and unfair at the same time?”

“Unfair?”

She took off her hat, staring at the top of it. “I’m not dumb, okay? I know I’m fifteen and he’d never be interested in me. Actually, it’d be kind of creepy if he were. That’s why even though I’m not stupid, this is. Why does knowing he likes somebody else hurt?”

“‘Cause feelings are stupid?”

She pulled a candy wrapper out of her hat and threw it at him. “They are not! Also, I totally noticed when you didn’t ask how I knew he liked you back. Which means he does, and you know it already.”

...Definitely Wright’s bio kid. There were evil lawyer genes in her.

She sighed. “I wish boys my age weren’t dumb. Why would anyone fall in love with one of those?”

“Hey, I was fifteen, once!”

“Yeah, and no offense, but you’re a dork.”

“Klavier was fifteen, once.”

“Nope. Don’t buy it. He was always at least seventeen.”

“Yeah, and he was awful at seventeen, what’s your point?”

“My point is… I want to fall in love with someone. Someone who’d like me back. I’m fifteen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have real feelings.” Apollo remembered that restless, yearning sensation, from when he was her age. The drive to feel, to know, to find others who felt the same.

“Keep talking like that, and you’re gonna wind up falling for, I don’t know, Stickler the Panty Thief.”

“...Thanks, Polly. Do you want me to barf on the scene and contaminate the evidence?”

“Just aim away from me! And don’t stress over the love thing. It’s not always worth it.” The last time he thought he’d been in love, well, let’s just say he was still playing fetch quests and serving as verbal whipping boy for the person in question. Not like he felt anything positive for Kristoph anymore. He wasn’t even sure what his original feelings had been, looking back. Admiration, mixed with the knowledge that he’d never be good enough. Gratitude, weighed with obligation. Sheer attraction to an urbane, well-tailored man, whose soft voice and delicate hands hid an icy disregard. A wizard’s brew of feelings, every once-wholesome ingredient secretly laced with a tasteless, odorless poison.

Experts said that atroquinine would remain in your system for years, like mercury, even as the body decomposed. Vera had been lucky - the poison particles had been bound up in chips of nail polish, which were, in turn, difficult to fully digest, thus allowing the doctors to purge the toxin from her body, leaving her alive. Even so, they couldn’t get to every last trace. Some of the atroquinine would remain in Vera’s kidneys. She’d have to be careful for the rest of her life, making sure she never ingested any more.

Just like his poison of choice, Kristoph stayed in your system. Purge any affection you might have once had for the man, but something still remained, fishhooked in your guts, dragging you back to him, come what may, looking for a cure and finding only more bile.

“Sometimes it’s worth it,” Trucy said.

“Maybe,” Apollo grudgingly admitted. Not in Kristoph’s case, that was certain, but he was hardly the only person in all the world. “If you’re really, really sure you know what they’re like.”

“Like Prosecutor Gavin?” She waggled her eyebrows.

He snorted. “I don’t even know what his favorite food is.”

“Want me to find out? Seriously, I am happy for you. Even if you’re a hottie-stealing buttface.”

Apollo wanted to tell her not to blow it out of proportion. Everything was way too up in the air, as far as he and Klavier were concerned. He reached over and gave his assistant a one-armed hug instead. She deserved one. “You know your dad’s gonna give us both grief if he finds out about this talk, right?”

“That’s why,” Trucy said, “he’s… actually no, he’ll totally find out. We’re just going to have to admit we’re doomed, and get him back for it later.”

***

He should have passed out, after dropping Trucy off, but instead, he found himself pacing restlessly, too tired to sleep. Let his feet carry him to People Park, and seriously, if he wound up getting mugged, it would be his fault and no one else’s. Not even the mugger’s. Somehow.

Instead of a mugger, he wound up running into Wocky. ...Possibly scratch that ‘instead.’ He didn’t know what the Kitakis were up to, these days, and he didn’t want to know! Either way, Wocky probably wasn’t going to mug him. Not if he wanted a defense attorney, next time he didn’t actually do something illegal.

“You look like shit, Pointy-locks,” Wocky told him.

“Hey! Have I ever made fun of your stupid clothes?”

“Quit that, Suit Boy. Ain’t the clothes I’m talkin’ ‘bout ya know. What’d your girlfriend dump you or sumpthin?”

Wocky looked at him like he was having a mental episode, when Apollo burst out laughing, so hard he almost wheezed. “Wocky, I haven’t had a girlfriend since high school.” And it was pretty rare even then. Turned out he wasn’t that bi, who’d have thought.

“Dang, bro, that’s harsh. Want me to hook you up? What? Whatchoo giving me that look for? Okay, fine, whatever, if you don’t want no fine honeys, at least hook me up instead?”

What did Apollo look like, OkCupid?

Wocky looked bashful, all of a sudden. “You could get me the number of the angel in overalls who was with you the other day, right?”

“I don’t know, Wocky. It’s kind of creepy, giving some guy a girl’s number, without asking her permission.”

“So ask! I ain’t seen her since that day, but when I saw her, it was like some punk had popped a cap in my heart. Only not for real. This time. She had a spatter of paint on her cheek, you know that? It was real cute!”

“Fine.” Apollo rolled his eyes. “I’ll ask.” He paused. “Hey, uh… don’t bite my head of for this, but…”

“You know, when a G asks that, he knows he’s gonna get his head bit.”

“Have you talked to Alita, since…”

Wocky slumped. “Yeah, man. Ma and oyaji don’ know, okay, don’t tell them. I know I shouldn’t, and she coulda got me iced and all, but she looks so sad in dem fucking pajamas. She told me how scared she was, when she thought the ya-san’d have her whacked.”

‘Whacked’ for nearly causing Wocky’s death through callous, profiteering inaction, Apollo thought.

“And she cries, sometimes. That’s the worst. If she cries, I pop right back to feeling like I’d do anything for her, break her outta jail, go all Bonnie and Clyde, ya know? And I know she kinda treats me like shit, but-”

“Yeah, I know.” Apollo sighed. Believe me, I know.

“But thing is? I ain’t in love with her anymore. The cute things she used ta do, they don’t seem so cute now. I just feel bad, like she’s a stick keeps pokin’ me in the back of the head.”

“Are you sure you should be thinking of other girls, when you’re still like that?”

“Hell yeah I’m sure,” Wocky said. “I ain’t gonna live forever, you know. Any day, it could happen, bam, I’m a smear onna hideout floor, and I ain’t goin’, thinking all the living I did was for Alita Tiala.”

“You sure you should be dating anyone at all, with what you’ve just said?” It didn’t sound very safe for either person involved.

“You mean… Yeah, I guess you’re right. Girl’d be sad if I just left her behind, ri’? So maybe I clean up my act a little. But only a little, and don’t tell my guys, or I’ll rip you a new one, you got me?”

“I’ll talk to her,” Apollo told him. “But that’s all. She doesn’t want to give you her contact information, you don’t whine. And if you hurt her, I’ll rip you a new one.”

“What is she, your long-lost sister?”

“Hey, you never know. She could be. And I’m serious. She hasn’t even talked to anyone but her dad, another guy and a psycho for most of her life, so be nice.”

“That’s okay,” Wocky said. “I talk hella lot. I can talk enough for both of us. And if she wants to talk - or if she wants to draw me a story, I’ll listen. Psychos and all.”

Apollo nodded. “And let me know, if you ever stop visiting Alita, okay?”

“What, so you can swoop in and hook up? You fucker!” Apollo cringed.

“No way! I just-”

“You’re like that, too, huh,” Wocky said, and maybe he wasn’t so dumb after all. “Can’t quit the bullshit, can’t pretend it’s not poo of bull. Let me know if you ever figure it out.”

“I will,” Apollo replied. Assuming I ever do.

***

There was a message from Klavier on his answering machine. “Hey, Apollo. No emergency, I just wanted to call and wish you good night. Get some sleep already, or your forehead will get all wrinkly, and you’ll be garbling words in trial, tomorrow. Don’t make it too easy for me to walk all over your case, ja? Anyway, sweet dreams.” He listened all the way through, feeling like someone had taken a bag of bricks off his chest and he could breathe again, for the first time in hours.

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