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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 contents of his answering machine the next morning were a game of ‘Good News/Bad News,’ or at least ‘Annoying News/Useful News.”

Useful news: the small fingerprints on the offending Russell Stover box belonged to Jason Dvoynoy.

Annoying news: the judge wouldn’t issue any warrants on Dvoynaya’s belongings, in regards to the Harrow case. No connection established. He might be talked around to doing it for the Mizuiro case, though, considering her son’s involvement. Apollo made a few calls of his own.

Seriously Questionable News: According to a phone call from the warden, Kristoph had requested his presence.

Might as well get the stressful one over with first, Apollo thought.

***

Kristoph seemed different, this time. Almost his old self. “There’s no need to panic, Justice. I merely wished to see how your case was progressing.” He listened as Apollo described the proceedings so far, offering dry commentary.

“I’m surprised you managed to implicate my greatest fan, as much as you have so far. You did seem to have it in for her, right from the start. Impressive, for a woman you’ve never even met.”

“No verdicts have been handed out yet, Mr. Gavin.”

“Two days of trial left, today included.” Kristoph leaned over, pinched a piece of lint from Apollo’s jacket with two fingers. “I trust you will not waste them.” Do you remember the letters you requested, last time we talked?”

Apollo sure remembered the talk itself.

“I wish to give you these letters. Klavier badgered me into letting him read them, but frankly I don’t trust him not to jump to prejudicial conclusions, based on his first impression of the writers in question. Or to lose the valuable evidence in the clutter of his desk, for that matter. But I know I’ve trained you better than that. I only hope his bad habits haven’t been rubbing off on you. I’d hate to think of all that wasted work, on both your part and mine.”

Apollo nodded. “Thank you.” Now if he could just see where the strings were…

Kristoph shook his head. “No need. It’s the least I can do, for a young man who occasionally reminds me of myself at that age.”

As compliments went, it was chilling, uncomfortable and blatantly contradictory. “So, you think of your younger self as a ‘worthless boy in cheap suits?’ We’ve got to work on your self-esteem, Mr. Gavin.”

“Now, when did I ever say such a thing?”

“Last time we talked.” Apollo’s headache was coming back with a vengeance. Maybe it wanted to be Kristoph’s cellmate. They deserved each other and Apollo wished them hundreds of fat children.

Kristoph rubbed the bridge of his nose, pushing his glasses up. “You have got to learn how to take a joke, Justice. You are altogether too thin-skinned, as you are. It won’t serve you well, in your chosen profession.”

“Why are you trying to be nice to me?” Apollo blurted out.

Kristoph shook his head. “Flattering as it is to have you ascribing diabolical motivation to my every move, the truth is, I’ve grown bored in here. Besides, if the man who’s put me behind bars can’t apprehend a pale imitation of me, if even that, then I’ll have to be supremely annoyed with myself.”

“So you think the letters are key and assume Klavier hasn’t told me everything relevant he’s read in them?”

Kristoph gave him that look Apollo used to crave, the proud one, which almost reached his eyes. “You’ve got it in one. Now, I’m not saying my little brother had flat-out lied to you. But he’s always been very good at leaving out details, missing the obvious.”

The way he’d missed you? Apollo wondered, and made a decision.

“I trust him,” he said. “He’s smarter than you think.” And so am I. “I’ll take photos of your correspondence for the court record, but after that, I need to get going. The trial will be starting soon.”

“Best of luck, Justice,” his former mentor said, and Apollo had no idea whether or not he meant it.

***

“You come see me when you running from something,” Machi observed, watching Apollo fidget in the chair next to him. “This time and last time, too.”

Great, now fourteen year olds were giving him valuable psychological insight. Apollo had walked out of Kristoph’s cell with hours to kill before the trial and a burning need to… what? Do something nice? Be around someone non-heinous? Machi worked for either one.

“I finished your paperwork,” he said. “You want to look it over, before I turn it in?”

“Sure. This mean I stay in California?”

“Or any other state you want, yeah. After you get out. Shouldn’t be too long, right?”

Machi shrugged. “Two years. Better than-” He made a throat-slashing gesture.

“Yeah, that sounds pretty harsh. Why’d you do it, anyway? Smuggle the cocoon, I mean. I know you said you needed money, but don’t musicians make lots of money anyway?”

Machi sighed at him. “Rock stars make money. Pianists make music. Machi make mistake with trusting Crescend.”

“But why’d you need the money?” If Machi didn’t want to tell him, he could always tell Apollo to get lost, right?

“You ever been to Borginia?” Machi made a face. “But no refugee status. Can’t emigrate, need papers. Black market cost.” He sounded too old for his age, Apollo thought.

“Plus I hear about sick son of chief. I had friend who die of Incuritis, but couldn’t pay for cocoon. Even in Borginia. I hear about boy, I feel bad.” No good deed went unpunished, huh?

“You’re going to be okay, though,” Apollo said. “Lamiroir’s still in the US, so she’ll look after you. We’ll help too, if you want.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to.” Maybe no good deed went unpunished, but maybe it was still worth it.

***

He ran into Lamiroir in the lobby, as he was leaving. There were small scars near the creases of her eyes, but she recognized him as she walked past. “You’re a good boy, Apollo,” she said, and leaned in to kiss him on both cheeks.

Maybe it was a European thing. He still felt like he was missing something, with the look she gave him, like she was ready to either smile or cry, and the almost forlorn way the bracelet tugged at his wrist.

***

Jason Dvoynoy was a chubby, shaggy-haired kid who didn’t look up when Apollo addressed him on the stand. “Is Ms. Laroquette in trouble?” he asked.

Apollo nodded. “I’m trying to get her out of it, though. I was hoping you might be able to help.” He tried to dampen the Chords of Steel, keep his voice as quiet and un-intimidating as possible. “Did you give her a box of candy, the day before, um…” He tried to remember what he’d have felt when he was eight and someone discussed death in front of him. Actually, he was probably a bad example. Everyone in the foster system knew about whose parents had died or abandoned them, and everyone talked about it like it was nothing.

“Before Ms. Mizuiro died? Yeah, I did.”

“Can you tell me why?”

“I liked her.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“Bought it. With my allowance.” The bracelet didn’t react.

“Did anyone else open the box while you had it?”

Jason shrugged. “Dunno.”

“Did you?”

Jason made a face. “I ate two, okay? So sue me. Mom never lets me have candy, except on Halloween.” Apollo looked at the boy’s worn-through jeans and wondered if the rule had more to do with what the family could afford, than with any kind of dietary reason. “I ate one the night before, and one that morning.”

And now came the part Apollo hated. “Did you put anything else in the box, or in the candy itself?”

“You mean did I poison Ms. Mizuiro?” Okay, so this was a pretty with-it kid, and Apollo felt like a royal tool. He nodded, watching Jason’s reactions. The boy didn’t say anything and his body language closed off completely.

“Jason? Come on…”

“I’m not going to say anything else,” Jason said.

Trucy spoke up, before Apollo could. “Did someone tell you you shouldn’t?” Nothing. “Someone you’re scared of?”

The kid rolled his eyes. “Yeah, like I’d tell you guys that.”

“Is it someone you want to protect?” Trucy’s voice was gentle. “Sometimes people we love do some pretty bad stuff. My daddy- My first daddy, I’m adopted now- he hurt someone pretty badly. She could have died. He never hit me, or anything like that, but that doesn’t automatically make him a good person, or make it okay. It’s still pretty hard for me to talk about, though, since he’s still my daddy, regardless.”

Apollo had never heard her talk about this part of what had happened at the Borscht Bowl club. Of course, she knew. She’d been in the courthouse, the day of Mr. Wright’s trial, and seen enough to figure out ‘Shadi Smith’ was her father, before the truth of it fully came to light. She must have heard about his beating of Olga Orly. Enigmar didn’t deserve to have died the way he did, but he sounded like he’d been a real prize, when he was alive.

“I think someone hurt my mom,” Jason said, barely audible.

“What happened? You can tell us.” Jason’s eyes darted up into the audience, where his mother would have been sitting, had she been allowed to. The judge had ruled that no persons who might influence Jason’s testimony be present for it.

“She got home from a date, and she was crying. She does that, sometimes. The guys she dates are jerks! She told me she was okay, but she was hiding her hand under a pillow. And later when I went to toss a Kleenex in the trash, one of her gloves was in there, and it had blood all over it. I think that was blood, anyway. It looked kind of like when I got a nosebleed.” Well, Apollo would definitely be getting that warrant now. That was something. The testimony didn’t fit with anything else he’d learned so far, but Apollo had no doubt Jason was telling the truth.

No, wait, it did fit with something he’d heard…

The wording suggests someone who’s had little recourse in her own life. Klavier’s remark, upon reading Dvoynaya’s letters. Dammit, Klavier was right. Neither of them could afford to feel bad for their suspects.

“I told Ms. Laroquette,” Jason continued. “Mom yelled at me for it, but… I told her about the crying and the cut and stuff, and she said she’d call Mom and try to help. Mom cried after that call, too, but she didn’t yell at me anymore. She said my teacher was very nice, and I should do something nice for her. So I did. With the candy thing.” Things Denise had left out of her testimony, though if she thought she'd be putting Dvoynaya or her son in danger by speaking up, that might explain it.

“Am I in trouble now?” Jason asked, and the judge shook his gray head. “Is my mom?” No one could answer that.

“I think we will want to talk to your mom,” Klavier said, from across the room. “Who knows, maybe we could help her.” He’d been uncharacteristically quiet for most of the testimony.

Jason didn’t look like he believed him, but he didn’t talk back, either.

***

One more day left of the trial. He and Klavier met to review at a nearby diner. Trucy was supposed to have joined them as well, but she just winked at Apollo and told him she had an engagement at the Wonder Bar, before taking off.

“Okay, so this is the part where we hope the police dig up bloody gloves, glass shards, um… what else? In Dvoynaya’s apartment.” Apollo stuffed a french fry in his mouth. “Gah. We’ve been over this so many times, some of these words have lost all meaning to me.”

Klavier reached across the table, hand cool on Apollo’s forehead. Utter bliss. He closed his eyes for a moment. “You know what the worst feeling is?” Apollo continued. “Not when a case makes no sense at all, but when you can tell it’s gonna start making sense any time now, but it hasn’t fallen into place yet, and the harder you think about it, the more frustrating it is.”

“I’m starting to wonder,” Klavier said, “if Mizuiro was the intended target at all.”

“Right. Jason gave Denise the candy.”

“And there’s no real motive, as far as Frau Mizuiro is concerned. Frau Laroquette, on the other hand…”

“Jason had told her some stuff she wasn’t supposed to know. But why try to kill someone who’s trying to help you?”

Klavier pushed aside the remains of his sandwich. “Because their help is only going to get you killed, perhaps? Or because you’re scared of anyone knowing, no matter what they’re planning to do about it.”

Apollo sighed. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Now, what about Harrow?”

“You tell me. Weren’t you going to talk to the waitstaff at his restaurant?”

“Yeah, later tonight or tomorrow.” He was cutting it real close, he knew.

“Apollo.” Klavier shook his head. “Tomorrow will suffice. Tonight, let me walk you home, and I will talk to the staff at Le Grand Jour in your stead.”

“I thought you were supposed to be the lazy guy who never went to crime scenes.” It was sweet, but Apollo didn’t need anyone else doing his job for him.

“A reputation I am quite comfortable leaving in tatters.”

Apollo gave him a half-smile. “You’d almost think you were all grown up. You’re gonna get boring, if you’re not careful.”

The glare Klavier shot back at him looked almost real. May have been real, and Apollo wondered if he’d unintentionally pushed some button. “Ugh, you’re right. I’m tired and not fit for human consumption right now, ignore me.”

Klavier shook his head, brightening. “Well, now you’ve left me with a dilemma - to make a bad joke about blowjobs, or cannibalism? Your pick, Herr Forehead.”

“No cannibalism! I’m eating!”

***

As promised, Klavier walked with him to his apartment. They stood outside, in the glow of the streetlights just beginning to flicker on. Apollo had one hand on his keys, when he said, “Hey, sit down a second, will you?”

Klavier gave him a funny look, but did as he was told. “There, now I’ve made these extremely uncomfortable steps my personal abode. What else can I do for you?”

“Hold still,” Apollo said, and bent down to kiss him. It was every bit as good as he’d remembered, made even better when Klavier’s hands hooked into his belt loops, dragging him closer. His own hands tangled in Klavier’s hair, pulling it out of its customary twist, lamplight catching in the platinum blond strands.

Klavier chuckled, after they broke apart. “You just did that so you wouldn’t have to stand on your tiptoes, didn’t you?”

“Shut up,” Apollo said, and kissed him again.

“I’d been wondering, you know,” Klavier said, several long minutes later. They were still sprawled out on the steps, Apollo’s butt slowly going numb.

“Wondering what?”

“Ach-” Klavier looked away, oddly bashful. “Wondering whether you’d wanted to mark two nights ago as a one-night stand, or something altogether different. It was hard to tell, from your behavior, and I didn’t want to push.”

“You could have asked!”

“Neediness is not exactly an attractive trait, Apollo.” A trace of bitterness there, perhaps some old hurt.

“It’s not neediness,” Apollo retorted. “It’s communication. Not that I’ve been doing a great job of that myself,” he admitted.

Klavier leaned his head on Apollo’s shoulder. “No offense, but you really have not. Your actions could be read as entirely above-board, wishing to focus on a case without distraction. But they could also have been a smokescreen for ‘I’m not that into you, after all, but I’d rather not fight while on opposite sides of the courtroom.’”

“They’re above-board,” Apollo said. “Geez, what do you take me for?”

Klavier shook his head. “I should have realized.”

“I want you,” Apollo said, the way he should have done a while ago. “And I like you. And I want to do, um, everything we’ve done, again, and then some. Just not till after the case. There, happy?” It was kind of weird, being on this end of the equation. You’d think he’d be the one unsure where he stood with the blindingly handsome rockstar. But Klavier hadn’t left his interest ambiguous. Apollo had. “Guess I didn’t want to seem needy either. And also busy! Did I mention busy?”

“Three times by my count.” A sigh. “And speaking of busy, I should go charm some wait staff, shouldn’t I?” Klavier leaned in for another brief peck on the lips, then got up, stretching.

Lucky wait staff, Apollo thought, hating them a little.

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