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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.


Daryan reads over my shoulder as I flip through the files Ema gave me. “You know there’s more than one case in there, right, Gavin?” He’s right. Goodman’s murder is marked BR-2, but Ema’s thrown in SL-9 as well. Either she grabbed an extra folder from her desk by accident, or the two are connected.

“That’s some heavy shit you’re getting into,” Daryan tells me.

“Any particular reason?”

He pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, bites down on one without lighting it. “Call me a superstitious son of a bitch, but I don’t like you fucking around with dead prosecutor cases.” He taps Neil Marshall’s name with the cigarette. “This guy was before our time, but I heard he was good. His big brother used to work down at the precinct. We’ve had a few beers. Anyway - Marshall. Got locked in a room with a serial killer, apparently, and we all know how that ends, if you aren’t the final girl in a horror flick.”

I check the date. “Right after he received the King of Prosecutors award, ja?” Something about Marshall’s face seems familiar. I’ve seen it before, but where?

“That cursed hunk of junk? Yeah.”

“You’re a superstitious son of a bitch,” I tell Daryan.

“Call it what you will. How many of the guys who’ve won the damn thing are still alive right now?” I think back. Marshall, probably would have been Edgeworth, after him, if he hadn’t died, and after that, I’m drawing a blank. Pretty sure I was in the running for a while, before NQ-3 took the wind out of my sails.

“Wanna tell me why you picked this ungodly mess for your next thesis presentation?”

“Just doing a favor for a friend.”

“Female friend?” He smirks.

“When is it ever not?”

“Hey, you do me favors from time to- Actually I’m lying. You owe me favors and never deliver, like the spoiled little princess you are.”

“For the last time, Daryan, I’m not making you a sandwich. You can make me one, if you’ve got that much of a hard-on for BLTs.”

“Tell me about the girl instead, and we’ll call it even.” He slides an arm around my waist, pulling me back against him, so that my head’s resting on his shoulder.

“She’s a real sharp one,” I say. “Brilliant mind, about as crazy as you. Has a mean right hook.” Beautiful and sad, and I don’t need a therapist to tell me I’m a sucker for those.

Daryan laughs. “Man, you sure know how to pick ‘em.”

“After nine years with you? You’re only just starting to realize I have bad taste? Slow, Daryan.”

“Watch your mouth, or the next thing you know, I take your little girlfriend and fuck her against the nearest wall, while you watch, hard enough no dick but mine will ever do again. Then where would you be?”

“Laughing at you while she rejects your sorry ass.” Not that I’ve had better luck.

“What, is she a dyke or something?”

“Only for you, Crescend. Only for you.”

***

Here’s the first big problem with digging into a cold case:

“What do you mean, the evidence is gone?”

The chief of police spreads his hands. “Sorry, Klavi-o, them’s the breaks. We pulled SL-9 for transfer almost a decade ago, and BR-2 not long after.” He pulls a bottle of Scotch out of his desk drawer, pours me a drink.

I take a sip. It’s not half bad. “Well, I’ve already pored over everything more recent half a dozen times, Herr Gant. A man needs a challenge sometimes, ja?”

“You want a challenge, my boy, why don’t you try taking more challenging cases of your own, while their blood’s still fresh?”

“I take cases,” I protest.

“You take junk,” Gant retorts. “Easy wins and petty bullshit. That’s not the man I’d thought you were, when I first met you. Scribbling over bleached bones, like a Sudoku puzzle and hiding from the real action. It’s a coward’s way of doing things. I may be an oldster, but my sense of adventure and pride hasn’t died yet. Where’s yours?”

At Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery, with my brother, I almost tell him. I could name the exact plot, if he wanted me to. Over Gant’s head, the photo of a smiling Lana Skye seems to be pleading with me, standing next to- Oh! So that’s where I’ve seen Neil Marshall before.

“Do you remember him?” I ask Gant. His eyes follow me, to see where I’m pointing.

“Marshall? Of course I do. What a guy. Helped us convict Joe Darke with his dying breath, you might say.”

“And Bruce Goodman was on the same investigative team with him, ja?”

“You’re thinking someone tried to pick the team off, one by one? I’ll tell you right now, you’re late on that arrival. It’s been too damn long, and guess what? Rest of them are still kicking, aren’t they? Besides, they caught the one who did it, both times. Darke’s gone to meet his maker for all the poor souls he’s killed, and Lana… Dammit, why’d you have to bring her up? Now you’ve gone and made me upset.” Gant snorts. “Drinks are on you next time, just for that.”

He’s given me an idea, though. Jake Marshall. Angel Starr. Maybe the investigative team’s remains hold the key I’m looking for.

***

There’s a man in a cowboy hat sitting at the bar. I straddle a stool next to him. “Howdy, pardner.”

He laughs. “Don’t even know what your accent’s supposed to be, but it sounds ridiculous, when you try for the good ol’ West.”

I hold out my hand. He’s got a nice firm handshake. Could crush a guy’s hand, if he tried, but he chooses not to. “Klavier Gavin. I’ve been hoping to run into you, here.”

The cowboy sits back, folding his arms. “Daryan’s ‘friend,’ huh?”

Best to be cautious about what he means by that. I can rag on Daryan for being a delusional closet case all day long in my off time, but I’m not stupid or malicious enough to actually out him in front of another cop. “Ja,” I say. “We go a long way back.”

“You’re a prosecutor, right? Don’t tell me I’m being served.”

“If you were,” I assure him, “I’d have brought at least some police backup with me. No sense in slighting our friends down at the precinct.”

Jake Marshall smirks bitterly. “Ah, fuck the precinct,” he says. “Friends of present company excluded. What do you want, city slicker?”

“If you don’t mind, Herr Marshall, I’d like to ask you a few questions about the murders of Bruce Goodman, and-”

Marshall stares into his glass. “And Neil Marshall, lemme guess. Gotta tell you, ‘partner’, it’s damned spooky, having you know my name without my having given it first.”

“Daryan,” I say, by way of explanation.

“Yeah, yeah, I know you got it from Crescend, but you still shoulda waited till I gave it to you. Ain’t they got legends, wherever you’re from, about people’s real names?”

I order a drink of my own. “Which one of us did you just call a fairy, Herr Marshall?”

“Figure it out, kid. And if you want me shooting the shit with you about SL-9 again, you better believe you’re buying my next drink.”

I buy him several. Apparently this bar’s got good bourbon.

“I still remember the night when Neil died,” he tells me, voice thick with emotion, even after all these years. “You got a brother of your own?”

“Had,” I tell him, and his eyebrows climb a little. “An older brother. He was a defense attorney.”

Gavin, right. That’s where else I’ve got your name from. Shit luck all around. My condolences.”

“And you have mine, Herr Marshall.” I’m starting to wonder if anyone’s got siblings left living and free anymore in this fucked up world.

He swishes the bourbon around in his mouth. “Would you believe me if I told you it was a dark and stormy night. ...A Darke and stormy night. Fuck everything.”

“If it was, in fact, dark and stormy, then I say let the facts trump Herr Bulwer-Lytton’s legacy.”

“Joe Darke had just turned himself in.” Marshall settles down for a good long tale, the kind you tell around the fire. “He was a panicker, right from the go, that one. Killed a man, killed the witness, killed another, till there were fifteen souls on his conscience. Must have weighed heavy, those souls. Neil and the chief had him up for interrogation, when the power blew. We needed a confession. Angel, Bruce and I had scoured that bastard of a case, but the evidence just didn’t stack enough for the guys upstairs.

“The power blew, and Darke had second thoughts. Got out the door and beat feet all the way to Gant and Skye’s office, where he ran into Skye’s little sister.”

“Ema had been there that night?” My stomach twists in sympathy for her.

“Waiting for Lana to get out of work. From what we could tell, Darke took her as his hostage. Didn’t do anything to her,” he hastens to add, at my alarmed look. “Didn’t have the time. Neil gave chase, caught up with him. By the time the rest of us arrived on the scene, Neil was dead and the girl was out cold.

“She helped us convict Darke, after it was over, though she was pretty fuzzy about it. Must have had the devil scared out of her. Bruce was the one who asked her all the questions.”

Neil Marshall’s death sounded open-and-shut to me. “So, what’s the catch?” I asked.

“The catch,” Marshall says, “is Gant throwing us all under the bus, after the case was over. Angel was fired. I was demoted. Bruce… well, Bruce just refused to let SL-9 go. Something about it just didn’t seem right, to him.” Couldn’t let go, huh? It’s like the Powers That Be are sending me a clue-by-four. Get off the verdammt case, Gavin, or you’ll end up like that other guy whose last name started with G. First a prosecutor, and now this. I’m starting to sound like Daryan, with all the superstition and parallelism.

“When Lana was arrested, two years later, Ema came to me. Poor lil cowgirl didn’t have anyone else to go to, and Lana and I’d gone out, once or twice.”

“Were you able to help her?” I ask.

“That’s one word for it.” Marshall sounds cheerful, like a man whistling all the way to the gallows. “Angel had seen Lana stabbing Bruce in the parking lot.”

“So that part was true, then?” My heart sinks. Hard to fight that sort of witness testimony, especially years down the line, without the ability to cross-examine. A part of me wonders if Skye is guilty, after all. Would you have fought to have Kristoph acquitted, regardless of his crimes, if you had known he had killed someone? The answer is always and always a silent ‘no,’ no matter how desperately I miss him, but Ema is not me. Perhaps her way is the saner, between the two of us.

Then again, maybe I’d had family loyalties enough, when it mattered. I had agreed to prosecute NQ-3, after all, and look where that had gotten me.

There’s a part of me which keeps hoping against all reason that Lana Skye is innocent, for Ema’s sake, and for mine as well.

“She saw her stab the guy,” Marshall says. “I didn’t say she saw her kill him.”

“A non-fatal blow, and someone else finished the job?” Not ideal, but I can work with that, even if the idea of working to acquit an attempted murderer makes me sick. No, I remind myself. You wouldn’t be fighting to acquit her, in that case. Just saving her from an undeserved death sentence. There’s a very real difference.

“Nein, that theory falls apart anyway… Fraulein Starr would have seen a followup, if there had been one.”

Marshall nods, giving me a lopsided grin. “Watch whose wife you’re calling ‘Fraulein,’ though. I don’t know mule from cattle, when it comes to German, but even I know she’s a Frau now.”

“Wirklich? Congratulations! I can buy you another bourbon for a belated wedding present, if you’d like.” Marshall looks like a guy who can hold his liquor and still tell it like it was.

“Quit trying to booze me up, Gavin. I just said I’m a married man, and either way, you ain’t my type.”

I have to laugh at that. “Fine, fine, I’ll send you a toaster later.”

“Put a cactus decal on it, and you’ve got yourself a deal. To get back to what I was saying, Bruce’d told me he was going to go through the evidence room, before he died. Just so happened, I was on permanent evidence room patrol. Like riding a desk, only more boring. I got Ema in there with her luminol bottles. She sprayed the whole place down - stank like the devil - and lit up like hell. If Bruce wasn’t killed in there, then we were gonna be looking for a whole other dead guy.”

“But no other casualties showed up, ja?”

“None whatsoever.” Marshall finished his last drink. “Chief had the evidence taken to his personal safe, for storage, after we’d reported it.” I remember that safe. He claims he keeps his best scotch in there, when I ask.

“I managed to sneak Ema in there as well. Gave her some aluminum powder, when she asked. She said she could get the combo, from his fingerprints.”

“Wait, back up. Why were you two sneaking behind the chief of police’s back? Helping you investigate would have been his job.”

Marshall looks at me like I’m fresh out of kindergarten. “Doesn’t matter, either way. She got caught. Gant chewed her out till she looked green. Think he might have played his organ at her. That thing would make anyone go deaf. And that’s when I kissed my job goodbye altogether.”

I hadn’t realized. Though Daryan did say he used to work at the precinct.

“Where are you at now?” I ask, and Marshall tips his hat.

“Let’s just say I steer a mean taxi. Want my card?” I take one, file it away in my pocket for later. “And that,” Marshall says, “is all she wrote.”

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