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[personal profile] mllelaurel
Fandom: Ace Attorney
Title: Monochrome Cities
Characters: Klavier Gavin, Ema Skye, Daryan Crescend, Damon Gant, Jake Marshall
Pairings: Klavier/Daryan, Klavier/Ema, background Jake Marshall/Angel Starr
Rating: M/R
Warnings: Non-consensual drug consumption, dysfunctional relationships
Summary: As the date of Lana Skye’s execution nears, her sister finds herself desperate enough to accept the help of a fop of a prosecutor and a shark of a detective. Together, Klavier, Ema and Daryan race against time to finger the real culprit behind the murders of Bruce Goodman and Neil Marshall, over a decade after the fact, with the trail gone cold. But everyone's got their own agenda, and the web they find themselves caught up in may be more tangled - and more of their own making - than any of them have anticipated, when even betrayal is far less simple than it first appears.

Note: Takes place two years after Notes From The Underworld and serves as a direct sequel to that story, so you probably want to read Notes if you want things to make any sense.


Nightfall, in black and white. Camera pans on a metropolis of monochrome skyscrapers. Zoom down in a blur, so fast you feel like you’re falling.

I think I am falling. Try to catch myself on my hands, arms too clumsy, unable to take my weight. Everything’s slow-motion, blinking in and out.

Wide-angle shot: a man, kneeling on cold concrete. Focus to reveal his face.

I can’t focus. My eyes feel over-dilated, like fear or sex. It’s not sex, so it’s gotta be fear.

“Still think you’re hot shit, Gavin?”

Zoom in further on the gun in the speaker’s hand, obscuring his face. The hand holding the gun is steady, callused. It’s fired before. It’ll probably fire again.

I know what every one of those calluses feels like against my skin.

I can’t breathe, my heart is racing at a million miles an hour. This isn’t fear. This isn’t normal.

I’m going to die, aren’t I? The thought comes in snippets, broken lego blocks of nothingness and sound.

The man steps closer, presses the barrel of the gun against my mouth. I look away from him. Pan camera to a swimming pool, city lights reflected in murky chlorinated water.

That’s gonna be me in there, in just a few minutes, isn’t it? Joe Gillis, floating face down as he tells his story. At least Joe had his lifetime-long moment of clarity. Artistic license and all.

My name is Klavier Gavin. I wish I could tell you how we wound up here, with this pool and this gun, and this man I fucking thought I could trust.

Someone else is coming down the steps. Looks like Norma Desmond is ready for her closeup. The sound of clapping. “Well, whaddaya know? I didn’t think you had the balls for it, Cressy, but you came through for me didn’t you? Attaboy!”

Krissy? Isn’t that what he used to call- But no, Kristoph’s dead. Been dead for over two years. The man holding the gun to my face is Daryan Crescend. My best friend, or so I’d thought. Guess he was Gant’s man, after all.

“You won’t get away with this, Daryan!” A woman’s voice. “They’ll track the ballistics on your firearm. The fingerprints, the whole nine yards.”

Daryan laughs. Too loud, and then too soft. My head hurts and sound is getting lost. “You think I’m gonna be the one who kills him, Goggles? Guess again.”

News to me. Firing a bullet into a guy’s head tends to kill him, right?

“They’re gonna find your fingerprints all over him,” Daryan continues.

“What makes you think I’d-?”

Daryan’s free hand fists in my hair and yanks, snapping my face upwards. “You kill him, he goes nice and quick. You even get to pick how, make it merciful. Otherwise… I bet I could make this sad sack last all night, and you’ll get to hear every scream.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Wanna bet on that, cupcake?”

The woman crosses into my line of sight. Ema. The proverbial dame who walked into my office, only this one’s not bad news. Not bad news at all. I’d say I’d give my life for the chance to have met her, but that’s looking sort of literal, right now. Her hands are fisted in the pockets of her labcoat, but she’s not crying. I wonder if I am. I can’t feel my face.

“It’s okay,” I try to tell her. I have no idea whether I succeed, with my tongue leaden in my mouth.

“It’s not okay at all,” she whispers, so I guess I must have said it after all, and she crouches down next to me, pulls my head into her lap. “It’s not okay at all, you fucking fop.”

Gott im Himmel und All die Teufel in der Hölle. Warum kann ich nicht weiter? Was verdammt falsch mit mir?

Tun Sie etwas!

***

One week ago

Truth be told, I’m the one who walks into her office, not the other way around. And hell, I’d probably make a better stereotypical femme fatale than Ema anyway, excusing the femme part. I know she’s in today, saw her car in the parking garage below us. I know she’s not out working on a case, for much the same reason. Someone’s home in there, but the lights aren’t on, and I don’t hear any sounds of movement.

I find her huddled between the desk and the filing cabinet, head in her hands. She hadn’t locked the door, so here’s hoping some part of her wanted to be found. If not, I’m okay with her slapping me.

“Detective?” I ask. Leave out the ‘fraulein,’ for a change of pace.

She ignores me.

“Ema?”

“Get out of my space, Gavin.”

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong.” I kneel next to her. “What if you were hurt and I just left you in here, what kind of man would I be, then?”

She snorts. “The average kind. Look, I didn’t hit my head, I didn’t have a beaker explode in my face, I haven’t inhaled anything funny, though God knows, at this point that might help. You don’t need to call an ambulance. Now go away.”

“Those aren’t the only kinds of pain. You know that, Detective.”

“Stop calling me that!”

“Your wish is my command, Fraulein.”

“I swear to God, Gavin, you are the world’s most annoying man. Alert the Guinness Book of World Records and give yourself a fucking prize. You’ve earned it.”

“Would you like me to turn on the lights? Get you something to drink?”

Her shoulders tighten. “Can’t get drunk on the job, remember. Not all of us are CP’s pets, like you.” She doesn’t get along very well with our Chief Prosecutor, for whatever reason. “Fuck. Not anymore, anyway.” Something inside her seems to break as she says this, and I can see streaks of tears, even in the dark. She’s biting down on her fists to block out the sobs.

I hazard a guess. “Is this about Lana?”

Give the woman credit, she doesn’t slap me. She decks me, instead. That one’s gonna bruise yellow-green and be awkward to explain, come tomorrow morning. At least now I know I was on the money.

“They’ve set her date,” Ema says. The date for her execution. She’s got good lawyers, and even the chief of police has gone out of his way to pull some strings for her, for old friendship’s sake, but everyone’s time runs out, sooner or later. Especially if you’re guilty of stabbing a detective to death.

“How long?” I ask.

“A week from now. Like you care.”

“I may not have a sister,” I say, “but I had a brother, once.”

She pushes me away, but there’s no real strength behind it. “Yeah, well, you never had to watch them kill him.”

I remember a needle sliding into a young man’s arm, trying to meet his eyes in the final moments. At least the human rights commission finally went through, so that it’s not the noose anymore. Some say cruelty is necessary, when it comes to dispatching a murderer. Me? I’m starting to have second thoughts about the death penalty as a whole.

“If I’d been there the day he died, I might have been able to stop it,” I tell her.

“And me being there for her changes nothing.”

“Ema… Do you think she is guilty? ...Ach, don’t hit me again! The domestic violence unit has better things to do than questioning me!”

“Yeah,” Ema says flatly. “I think she’s an unrepentant murderer. That’s why I’ve been trying to push her appeals. You idiot.”

I remember hearing that Lana Skye had confessed to killing Bruce Goodman, but a confession’s easy enough to force. “May I take a look at those case files?” I ask. About time I had a new cold case to obsess over, right?

“What, you think you’re such a genius you’ll see something everyone else has missed?”

I flash her a rakish grin she probably can’t see in the dark. “What if I am?”

She gives me the files.

***

Daryan’s home ahead of me, and how often does that happen? “No case?” I ask.

“Case that might as well be cold, for how fast it’s moving. You?”

“Idiot caught on camera. Guilty verdict on the first day. Even Herr Judge was bored.”

“Seriously? That’s the senile old fart who’s happily entertained by the crumbs he finds in his own beard.”

I roll my eyes. “Be nice to the elderly. Some role model you are.”

“Like you’re any better. Got any plans for tonight?”

We both know what my plans are. Hole up in my room, with old case files for company, looking for contradictions I’d missed the first time around. It started with NQ-3, but once you get going, it’s hard not to imagine you’ve put innocent people away for life or worse at every turn.

Not that Justice was innocent. Not on at least one count, anyway.

“Never thought I’d say this, but you need to go out and get yourself a bimbo. Girl, guy, I don’t even care.” That’s new. Normally Daryan gets into one of his moods, if I’m with another man. Women he doesn’t so much care about, but I guess with guys, his pride gets hurt. “Hell, if having a short brunet sucking your dick’s what you need, be my guest.”

We both know what he’s referring to. “You’re out of line.” I will my voice not to crack.

He snorts. “I’m not the one still obsessing over a dead man who’s killed half my family, babe.”

“Piss off, Daryan.” I don’t even realize I’d switched to German.

He laughs. “I can’t tell if you just told me to go fuck myself, or asked me to fuck you into the furniture. Pretty sure the word ‘fuck’ was in there somewhere.”

“It’s the former. But you know what? What the hell, either one means you stop talking, right?”

He reaches over to grab the links of my belt, pulls me down onto the couch with him. “If you think I stop talking when I fuck, clearly I haven’t fucked you enough.”

“Maybe you just haven’t fucked me hard enough for me to notice you were doing it.” Okay, now I’m flirting. It feels kind of good, despite itself.

He takes me up on that, and rightly so.

“I’m worried about you, babe,” he says afterward. His hair is down and messy all across the cushions, and my face feels like it’s got a crease in it, from being shoved into the couch’s arm. It’s not bliss, but it’s pretty damn close.

“Stop worrying,” I tell him.

“What, afraid I might get wrinkles?”

I’d still love you with wrinkles, I think but don’t say. Daryan’s not much for love confessions. It’s fair enough, I suppose. I’m not much for being faithful. Still, we’ve been some kind of together ever since we were practically kids. Long enough to learn where all our fault lines were and stay in it anyway, so I figure we must be doing something right.

“You already have wrinkles,” I tell him.

“And you’ve got a real shiner on you. Gonna tell me why?”

I shrug and shoot him a grin. “Let’s just say I got too fresh with a beautiful fraulein.”

He smirks. “Yeah, that sounds like you all right. Gonna wind up with a sexual harassment suit one of these days, and I ain’t bailing you out.” A beat. “Someone hurts you for real, though, you know I’d-”

I cover his mouth with my hand. “Shhh, you can’t just go around, telling a prosecutor where you’d hide the bodies. Even if they are merely hypothetical.” He bites my fingers, sucks one into his mouth. Looks like it’s time for round two. We both could use the distraction.

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