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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.

Katerina Dvoynaya looked different, in person. Older, more careworn, but somehow more vibrant than her pictures, all the same. Her one request, before she took the stand, was that her son not be present for her testimony. She must have known from the start, Apollo thought, that it would not go her way.

She met Klavier’s eye, when he asked for her name and occupation; met Apollo’s when he questioned her. She only looked away when Denise was led in by a friendly bailiff.

“Where were you, at the time of Kyouko Mizuiro’s death?” Not that an alibi mattered with a delayed-action murder, as proven by Dvoynaya having been at one of her temp jobs.

“Please describe your previous interactions with Frau Mizuiro? With Frau Laroquette?”

“I’d never actually met the art teacher,” Dvoynaya admitted. “As for Ms. Laroquette, she was Jason’s homeroom teacher, and a favorite of his. We’d had a few teacher conferences.”

“How would you describe the character of your interactions?”

She shot Apollo a questioning look.

“Positive? Negative? Did you get along?”

“I suppose so. She seemed like a nice woman.” Dvoynaya shot a nervous, darting smile vaguely in Denise’s direction.

“According to your son’s testimony, Ms. Laroquette called you, shortly before her partner’s death, to inquire about some injuries you’d-”

Dvoynaya’s hands curled into the ends of her hair. “Oh, God. That. Jason thought I’d gotten hurt, poor kid. I mean, I was hurt, but he could’ve gotten the DSS on us!” She made a small noise of frustration. “I’d dropped a wine bottle as I was washing it, to put it in recycling, and cut my hand on one of the shards. Here-” She held out her left hand, which was bandaged. “It wasn’t as bad as it looked, and it didn’t look like I’d cut a nerve or tendon or whatever, so I didn’t bother going to the emergency room.”

She was talking a lot, filling in needless details of the story. Usually a sign of someone lying. The problem was, while Apollo’s bracelet certainly was reacting to something, the deluge of information made it hard to pinpoint the lies. There was enough truth in there he couldn’t simply chuck the whole testimony, no matter how much easier that would have made things.

All right, let’s see if we can focus this in a little… “Could I ask you where you’d gotten the bottle in question?”

“My boyfriend ordered it for us, when we were out on a date at a nice restaurant.” She was telling the truth.

“And the name of this restaurant, Frau Dvoynaya?”

She pursed her lips. “Uh, something French… Le Grand Jour. That was it!” The facts of her testimony were correct, but her forgetfulness was an act, considering what Apollo knew.

“Your former place of employment, you mean?”

Dvoynaya shot him a baleful look. “I was hoping you wouldn’t mention that part. Yes, I used to work there.” Her recovery was quick, and she didn’t show much fear at that information being uncovered. “Not the nicest of memories, culminating in three years of temping and unemployment, for me.”

“Could you please elaborate on that?”

“Could the defense please establish relevance,” Klavier shot back from across the room. If he hadn’t done it, the judge would have, so Apollo didn’t hold it against him.

Think, Justice, think... Would the judge allow him to draw the tentative connection between the two cases? He had to try. It was the only proof of relevance he had. “Your Honor, it has been established that Ms. Dvoynaya was at Le Grand Jour the night its owner, Walter Farrow, was murdered. I will prove to you that this murder served as Ms. Dvoynaya’s motive for killing Ms. Mizuiro - or should I say, attempting to kill my client, Ms. Laroquette.”

Dvoynaya’s hand curled in her hair again, and the judge muttered something under his breath which sounded an awful lot like Mr. Wright’s name. “I’ll allow questioning along these lines for now. God help me if you want to cross-examine an avian, though…”

“Ah… No avians. Sir.” Apollo promised.

“Frau Dvoynaya? If you would please answer the defense’s question?” Klavier gave the witness his most charming smile, but it didn’t look like Katerina was buying.

“Mr. Justice, I think you’re being ridiculous, but very well. I’ll comply. I’d been working as a waitress at Le Grand Jour for two years, hoping to transition into the kitchen-” A direct match for the other waitress’s testimony. “-when the owner propositioned me. I told him to go to Hades, he fired me. That was that.” A brief but sharp reaction from the bracelet. Katerina had told the truth almost entirely, but whatever she’d changed or left out had emotional relevance.

She looked him straight in the eye. “Yes, I realize this gives me motive to kill Harrow. This also gives everyone who’s ever worked for him motive. It doesn’t mean I picked up that gun and shot him.”

Apollo took a slight gamble. “How did you know he'd been shot?”

“He was, huh? Lucky guess. I mean, it’s a common murder weapon, right?” Except that Harrow had been bludgeoned. By guessing or ‘guessing’ the wrong murder weapon, Dvoynaya had distanced herself from suspicion on that count.

“Ms. Dvoynaya,” Apollo pulled out the planner, “could you please tell us why the night of Walter Harrow’s murder is marked in your calendar as ‘the big day?’ All your other date nights are simply labeled as such, according to my translator.”

He didn’t expect Dvoynaya to burst out laughing. “Mr. Justice, do you happen to speak French?”

“Uh, no.” He’d taken Spanish in high school.

“Bol’shoi Den’ - The Big Day,” Dvoynaya said. “'Le Grand Jour', in French.” Seriously? Dammit! That was a stupid-looking error to make. “As for why it was marked differently? My history with Le Grand Jour meant that I wished to prepare myself before setting foot there again. Girding my loins, so to speak. I wouldn’t have gone there at all, but Raul insisted.” At least technically true on all counts, as far as silent bracelets were concerned, but again, Apollo felt like Dvoynaya was hiding something.

“Do you have any further questions regarding your sideline case, Mr. Justice,” the judge cut in, “or can we get on with the case you’ve actually been hired for?”

“Just one.” Better make it good. “Your son, Jason, mentioned in his testimony that there was a bloody glove in the trash, the night you injured your hand. Do you normally wear gloves indoors, Ms. Dvoynaya?”

More tugging on her hair. “Why would I do that? Jason must have made a mistake. He must have seen a bandage I used to stop the bleeding.” Lies, all of it.

“I don’t know,” Apollo said. “A glove and a bandage don’t look anything alike, and I don’t think your son’s dumb enough to make that kind of mistake. Moreover, if you claim there were bloody bandages, why didn’t we find any in the garbage bag along with the glass shards which you claim caused your injury?”

Katerina shrugged. “Don’t look at me, I don’t go through my trash after I take it out. Maybe a raccoon dragged it off. We get raccoons going after our scraps, sometimes.”

“Objection.” Klavier gestured at the witness. “The photos show that the bags in question had not been torn into, as a wild animal would have done.”

“Then I have no idea,” Katerina said.

“Can you identify this item for me?” Apollo asked, holding up the burnt scrap of what he sincerely hoped was cloth.

“No,” Katerina said bluntly. ‘Yes,’ said Apollo’s bracelet. She made a face. “It smells terrible, even from all the way over here. Where did you find that.”

“Buried in your backyard, actually.”

A raised eyebrow. “Well, I suppose anyone could get in there if they wanted to. I wish the landlord would plant hedges.”

“You know what I think, Ms. Dvoynaya? I think this item is the glove Jason mentioned. And if it is, that means you have been lying to us. I’d love to hear why you felt the need to destroy something so innocuous.”

“Suit yourself,” Katerina said. “Doesn’t look like a glove to me.” He needed proof.

“Your Honor,” Apollo asked. “I don’t want to dismiss Ms Dvoynaya just yet, but could I please call on an expert, to corroborate my claims?” The judge allowed it.

“In that case, I call Detective Ema Skye to the stand.”

Ema looked excited to be there, for a change, likely because she’d be presenting scientific findings.

“Detective Skye,” Apollo asked her. “Could you please tell us the composition of Exhibit J?” The possible glove.

Ema launched into a detailed elemental analysis. Apollo had no idea what had just come out of her mouth.

“Is that some kind of fabric?” Klavier asked her.

She glared. “I was just getting to that, yeesh! Yeah, I’m guessing it was some kind of fabric. And before you ask, there’s no way to test for blood traces, since luminol works via oxygen reaction and fire uses up the oxygen in everything it touches.”

“Would it be possible to tell or reconstruct what this item once was?” Apollo wanted to know.

Ema popped a Snackoo. How had they allowed her to bring those with her, again? “Build me a time machine and we’ll talk. ...Oh, I bet I could… No, quantum physics is out of my expertise.”

The glove would have been Apollo’s best connection between the cases. Damn. It was time to cut his losses and refocus.

“All right, Ema, could you please tell the court the rest of your findings, in regards to the contents of Ms. Dvoynaya’s home?”

Ema grinned like a Cheshire Cat. “Lady,” she said, turning to Katerina, “scientific analysis concludes that you are seriously messed up. Let’s start with the small fry: the glass shards found match the bottles in Harrow’s cellar.” But Dvoynaya had already covered for that.

“Part two: that bottle in your nightstand drawer?” The hand in Katerina’s hair tightened, till it looked like she would tear a clump out any second now. Ema listed off another chemical compound. “Layman’s terms: atroquinine.”

Good thing they’d all been wearing gloves. Extra good thing Vera had never come close to that bottle.

“It gets worse.” ...As did Ema’s smugness factor. “Six of the seven syringes you found in that trash contained insulin, like you’d use for a diabetic…”

“That’s consistent with Frau Dvoynaya’s medical records,” Klavier chimed in.

“Interrupt me again and I’ll set your desk on fire, Glimmers.”

Klavier held up his hands, laughing. “My apologies. Disrupting the work of a genius is a true crime.”

“Hmph. You know it. Anyway, as I was saying: the final syringe tested positive for atroquinine. And! There were traces of dark chocolate and some kind of booze on the needle.”

“Like a cherry cordial, perhaps?”

“Wouldn’t know. I hate those things.”

As far as Kyouko Mizuiro’s death, the evidence spoke pretty decisively. “Let the record show,” Klavier added, “that Fraulein Detective here should be commended for her work. She should have been promoted to forensics years ago.”

Ema looked like she didn’t know whether to take the compliment or assume he was making fun of her. She settled on a surly, yet strangely pleased expression as she stepped down.

Katerina had removed her fingers from her hair, looking deathly, angelically calm. “You still haven’t provided me with a motive for killing Kyouko Mizuiro, Mr. Justice, outside of your wild speculation.”

“I stand by the theory that my client was your actual target. She’d learned something you didn’t want her to know, from Jason, even if it had nothing to do with Walter Harrow. Maybe it was that you did drugs. Maybe it was that your boyfriend belonged to a gang.” He was spouting bullshit now. It was about Harrow. He just couldn’t prove it. “Whatever your motive was, the fact of the matter is, you did kill her, in your attempt to end my client's life, and it’s just as clear that Denise Laroquette is entirely innocent in this matter.” Arguably, that had been clear since Jason’s testimony.

“I just have one more question for you, Ms. Dvoynaya.”

She rolled her eyes. “You keep saying that, but it’s never true, is it?”

“Did you know that your son had eaten two of the chocolates? One of those after you must have dosed them. Do you realize how close you’d come to killing him?” And do you realize that if I didn’t prove your guilt, he would have been the next most likely suspect?

Apollo could practically hear something snap inside Dvoynaya’s mind, as she lunged at him. It took all of the bailiff’s efforts to keep her from trying to kill him with her bare hands. “Never accuse me of trying to harm my son again! Do you hear me?”

He held himself very still, as Katerina Dvoynaya was led out of the courtroom, and Denise’s ‘not guilty’ verdict was announced.

Any science mistakes here should be blamed on the author being a liberal arts major, rather than a deliberate narrative misdirect. Ema knows her stuff. Lily, less so.


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October 2016


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