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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.


There was a police officer waiting for them, when they arrived at the hospital. “My name is Lupe Rodriguez, and I’m going to need a list of everything you’ve touched, inside his cell.”

“Do you know what it was, yet?”

“We’re working on it.” Rodriguez had a nurse draw blood, while she grilled Apollo. “Just a precaution. We don’t want you dropping dead as well.”

“Shouldn’t you get Vera Misham and Mr. Wright- Phoenix Wright- as well? They’d also visited him.”

“Already on it.” He knew that Klavier was getting the same treatment, over in a different hospital room.

“Was it atroquinine?” he asked, and the officer made a face.

“I’m getting real tired of hearing the name of that shit, you know.”

“Believe me,” Apollo said, “I know.”

“Yeah, it was.” Her phone buzzed, right then. Apollo watched his blood run down the tube while she talked, and wondered if he’d get an orange juice after this. You were always supposed to get an orange juice after having blood drawn, and fuck he was tired, if these were his thoughts.

He looked up, when he heard the phone snap shut. “It was on his letters,” Rodriguez said, and Apollo hoped it was just the blood loss making him run cold all over. He had handled those letters. Klavier had handled those letters. Had been the first person, other than Kristoph and presumably the guards, to come in contact with them, and all on Apollo's behalf.

“More specifically,” Rodriguez continued, “it was the perfume spritzed on some of those letters. Miniscule, diluted amounts. Not enough on each for our scanners to detect. But atroquinine-”

“Stays in your system,” Apollo finished for her. “Enough small amounts, from multiple sources...” How many letters had Dvoynaya sent? Klavier told him they had smelled like lilacs.

“And you wind up in the ICU. Better that than the morgue, but between you and me, I’m not holding my breath for Gavin.”

I should feel sad, Apollo thought, but all he’d felt when she said it was a brief moment of panic when he mis-connected the name with Klavier, instead of his actually-afflicted brother. She just said he’s probably going to die. Why don’t I care? I thought I would have.

I wonder if Kristoph knew. Back when he’d tried to give Apollo those letters. But if he’d known, wouldn’t he have made sure to minimize his own contact with them? Or didn’t he care? Maybe he thought it was a better way to die than whatever the state had in store for him.

“Well,” Apollo said, “I haven’t dropped dead yet. Any idea when I’ll know whether I’m going to?”

“Three hours if I fast-track ‘em, for both you and your friend.”

“Do I have to stay here till then?”

Rodriguez shrugged. “I would, if I were you, but you’re not in custody, protective or otherwise, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“There’s someone I need to talk to,” Apollo said. “Could you please tell Klavier?”

The officer shrugged again. “Just don’t cross any state lines while you’re out. I’m already overworked as fuck. Who do you need to talk to?”

“The suspect,” Apollo replied.

***

The women’s prison was unfamiliar ground to him, but Katerina Dvoynaya was wide awake and oddly cheerful, by the time he arrived. “Mr. Justice! I didn’t think I’d see you again. Come to question me, just like the rest of them?”

“Hey, the rest of them are getting paid for it,” Apollo retorted.

“Then why?”

He sighed. “To know, I guess. Not like you can be double-jeopardied for the first two cases, and Kristoph is open-and-shut. I just- I want to know why.”

Her face looked serious, almost peaceful, when she said, “I wanted him to die knowing it was at the hand of someone just like him.”

Apollo gaped.

“You thought I was a lovesick, deluded idiot, didn’t you? Squeaky Fromme, going ga-ga for Charles Manson. One of those women who gushes over a serial killer, because surely he’d only hurt bad people and sluts, and she would be special, and maybe they would run away together. But there’s one thing I know, Mr. Justice. No one is special. Not to a predator like Kristoph Gavin.”

“Okay, so, wait, you decided to kill him, but first you took a tangent to murder two more people, just so you’d match him better? Sounds like serial killer fangirl business, to me!”

Dvoynaya shook her head. “I just took a tangent to murder one, and he already had it coming. All Gavin gave me was inspiration and method. He would be my atroquinine parallel, himself.” She twisted her hair again. “I suppose that makes Laroquette my Vera Misham, though. I hadn’t even intended that.”

“Wait, back up. I know you’d never meant to target Mizuiro, but don’t tell me Denise was an accident as well. I won’t believe it!”

“You were right about her, too. You said she knew too much, and she did. I should never have let Jason see the blood on my hand, or that glass, or that fucking glove. It never fit properly, anyway, never buy gloves on sale!”

“I think I’ve got it now,” Apollo said. “You struck Harrow with the bottle, but it broke, slicing through your hand in the process. You had to take the glass shards with you because they had drops of your blood on them, which could be used as DNA evidence to ID you. You’d worn the gloves to begin with, so that you wouldn’t leave fingerprints, and you must have, I don’t even know, worn a hat, to keep stray hairs from giving you away, likewise.”

Dvoynaya looked him over proudly. “You don’t work in the restaurant biz and not learn how to keep your hair out of the way.”

“So Jason had told Laroquette, and now two people knew things which could have pinned you to Harrow’s murder.” He emphasized the number.

“If you’re about to suggest I would have killed my son to keep him quiet, Mr. Justice…”

Apollo’s hands went up to guard his neck. “Y-yeah, right. We’ve been down that path already. Sort of. What’s going to happen to him, now that you’re in prison?” Foster care would be Apollo’s guess, and he felt a pang of obvious empathy.

Katerina looked down. “Denise Laroquette said she would take him in. I don’t understand that woman. A part of me-” This time a clump of hair did come away in her hand. “A part of me wonders if she doesn’t intend to get her revenge through him. If you’re going to hurt me, that’s the way to do it. The only way, and with God as my witness, I would return from the grave itself to destroy you for that.”

“She lied on the stand, to protect him, when she thought he’d helped kill Mizuiro.”

“Then I don’t know. Maybe she means well. You’ll have to pardon me. I don’t believe in ‘means well,’ so much. It’s a Russian thing.”

“I could ask her for you,” Apollo offered. “I’d know if she were lying.”

“And I should believe you when you say that, why?”

“No reason. But it’s better than nothing.”

“Information for information, huh? A fair trade.”

“You used the cordials because you thought the alcolol would mask the taste of the poison, right?” Apollo eased back into questioning.

“If you already know everything, why bother coming to me, Mr. Smarty Pants?”

“Fine.” If she didn’t want any more lead-ins, he could get to the big questions. “Why did you kill Walter Harrow? It wasn’t just because he fired you, was it?” She’d lied about something, when she testified about her job at Le Grand Jour. Something small enough as facts went, but bruisingly important.

“I told you he’d hit on me, right?” Apollo nodded. “And then I said I told him to go fuck himself. That last part…” She smiled bitterly. “Sometimes you say yes for all the wrong reasons. Like you don’t want to make a fuss. Like you don’t want to lose your job. Like what would even be the point of saying no, with the relative amount of power you have, right at that moment.”

“And he fired you anyway?”

“Why not? He’d gotten what he wanted, and with me out of the way, less chance of his asshole tendencies coming to light.”

“I think everyone there already thought he was an asshole, going by the interviews.”

Katerina’s lips curled up. “Mr. Justice, I think that’s the sweetest thing you’ve told me all day.”

“But why… Why wait three years?”

She buried her face in her hands. “I didn’t plan on killing him. This wasn’t one of those plans simmering on the back burner, day in and day out, till it explodes. Or maybe it was, somewhere deep in me. Maybe I really was a killer from day one, and all I needed was the footage of Kristoph Gavin’s trial, to bring it out in me.

“I remember seeing him there, up on the TV screen, and he had Harrow’s eyes. Those same cold eyes, just waiting to pounce on you, the moment you showed a weakness. They showed clips of him laying into you, did you know that? You and the other Gavin, both. Who’d have thought I’d get a nice reunion for my own trial. I couldn’t have arranged it better, if I tried. All it needed was a cameo from Kristoph himself.”

Katerina looked back up at him, her own eyes hard and fearless. “It was a triumph to watch, at first. I thought, here was another Walter Harrow, getting his just desserts. Gonna go to prison, get taken down a peg or two, and then, die like the pig he is. But then, I read the magazines, and there’s a spread of his goddamned luxury cell, and I think, I can’t even fucking get welfare, and this sack of shit who’s murdered at least two people is feasting on caviar, reading his law books, and probably getting prostitutes delivered to him daily.”

She laughed at the look on his face. “I’m probably exaggerating on the prostitutes. But not by much. So that’s when I started sending the letters.”

“How did you get your hands on the atroquinine?”

“Mr. Justice, you can get anything on the black market.” Sort of a lie, sort of not. He’d done some research on the woman, in the aftermath of the trial.

“You never told the court your boyfriend’s last name, did you?”

“Wasn’t relevant.”

“Not even that it was Raul Rivales?”

“Not relevant, and it would have biased the judge against both him and me. Raul’s a good guy. Well,” she said, “no worse than most, anyway. I never told him my plans. Any ways he helped me, he did it without knowing. Just because he liked me.”

“So, he thought you were going to use atroquinine in, what, a new casserole?”

“Like I said, he never asked. We’ve all got our needs for poison, Mr. Justice. He didn’t ask me why I had my heart set on going back to Le Grand Jour, either. I’d told him about what had happened. So he wasn’t surprised, when I told him I felt sick, after the meal. We’d taken separate cars, so I sent him home. Went to the bathroom, put on my old togs, so that the food runners wouldn’t pay attention to me. I kept the bottle Raul had ordered.

“Walt was in his office. I clocked him. You know the rest.” She propped up her chin in her hands. “You know what’s funny, Mr. Justice? It feels good, telling someone. Almost like therapy.”

“W-well,” he admitted, “you do sound kind of messed up.”

“You were gonna say ‘crazy,’ instead, weren’t you?”

“Hey, you said it, not me.” Hands up, please don’t strangle me, nice homicidal lady.

One last branch of questioning. “Why didn’t you get rid of your bottle of atroquinine? You’d tried to burn the glove, so clearly you had no problem destroying evidence.”

She glared at him. “Do you know how much dilution atroquinine needs, before it’s safe for disposal? I’m a murderer, not a sociopath. You think I was going to dump that down the water main? I didn’t have time for the proper procedures, and there are only so many murders a girl wants on her conscience, before she reaches crit. Whole city’s way above that limit. Mizuiro was bad enough. Hell, I woulda felt bad about Laroquette, had I gotten her.” It didn't excuse her actions, but, well, it was something.

And the final question. “What about your perfume bottle? We’d never recovered it. Or did you dropper-mix the perfume and poison?”

She nodded. “Right for the letters, into the spritzer, then flush the traces, till they wouldn’t harm anyone else. I couldn’t stand the smell of the perfume, afterwards, so I gave the rest of the bottle to a neighbor. She’d always said she liked the way it smelled on me.”

Apollo’s eyes widened slightly, and he reached for his phone. “What, you think I’d poisoned that bottle, after all? Mrs. Carter would have been dead already, if I’d done that.” Regardless, he dialed Rodriguez, gave her the name and the info. They’d bring the neighbor and her perfume in for questioning.

“Sorry,” he said. “I couldn’t take the risk.”

“Gotta think the worst of me to the end, huh? Some defense attorney you are. I thought you lot were supposed to always have faith in humanity.”

“You’re not my client,” Apollo said. “You never were.”

“Would you have taken my case?” she asked.

He shook his head, and she smirked.

“Stuck-up goodie two-shoes.”

“That’s me,” he said, and bid her goodbye.

He stood in the prison parking lot, letting the sun seep back into his skin. All the answers he’d wanted, and Dvoynaya hadn’t even tried to lie to him. It was almost like she’d given up, having achieved her original goal, but hit a few snags along the way. She was flat fucking crazy, no matter how functional she sounded, but Apollo found himself feeling sorry for her, more than anything else. Not as sorry as he’d felt for Denise or her partner, or as sorry as he felt for Jason, who must have been going through hell right now, but sorry nonetheless.

Kristoph had been her original target, and Apollo still couldn’t tell whether he felt appalled, or wished to congratulate her on her good taste.

Hell, Apollo thought, I was awfully quick to leave that hospital. Rodriguez had told him his and Klavier's tests both came up clean. Not enough contact for the poison to get inside them. Phoenix and Vera had never touched the letters at all. I didn’t want to see him like that, prelude to a corpse. I didn’t want to see him at all. The bile in his throat tasted an awful lot like ‘scared,’ and Apollo couldn’t say whether it was for Kristoph’s sake, or of the man. Why does he bother me more, near-dead, than he does alive?

***

“Did you learn what you were hoping to?” Klavier asked him. The hospital room was dimly lit, shades drawn, so that Apollo could barely see Kristoph’s prone form. The prosecutor sat slumped in a plastic chair next to the bed, his brother’s hand held in one of his. Apollo could hear the faint whir of machinery, the heart monitor’s rhythmic beeping.

“I did,” Apollo told him. “I’ll fill you in later. Sorry I left you here, all by yourself.”

“Nein.” Klavier shook his head. “I think I needed the time alone with my thoughts. Not that I was entirely alone, with Kris here.”

“What were you thinking about?”

Klavier laughed ruefully. “Whether to ambush the doctors, telling them to take my blood, bone marrow, organs, whatever they might need to make him well again.” Apollo started, heart doing a sick half-turn in his chest. “Or whether to get up in the dark, switch off the life support and turn myself in.”

Apollo wrapped an arm around his shoulders, pulled him closer. “You too, huh?” he said quietly.

“Don’t ask me whether I love or hate him,” Klavier said. “It’s not a question I can answer.”

“Is it both?”

“I’m not sure. Apollo… could we go-” He shook his head. “I was going to say ‘home,’ but that’s a bit unclear, isn’t it?”

“My place?” Apollo suggested, and Klavier nodded, standing up.

“Close enough to what I was thinking.”

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