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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.


I follow her as she rushes out. “Think you’ll make visiting hours?”

“I will if you shut your trap and give me another bike ride.”

“The former, never.” I fish the keys out of my pocket, hand her the now-familiar helmet. “As for the latter, hop on.”

I’m pretty sure I manage to not break any speed limits, but it’s a close one. It’s all for nothing, anyway. The guard on duty crosses her arms and shakes her head, when we ask to see Lana.

“No can do. Skye’s been moved to solitary, pending her execution.”

“What?” Ema’s so livid, it almost comes out monotone, shock and fury stealing her voice.

“That can’t be part of the regulations," I protest.

The guard shrugs. “Orders from above.”

Who?

She spreads her hands. “Way above my head, that’s all I know,” and I think, the chief of police counts as pretty high, right?

“What are we going to do?” Ema asks, as we step outside. The wind’s picked up, stopping up my ears, chilly and echoing.

I blow on my fingers, trying to warm them up. “We’ll have to carry on without Lana’s confirmation. We’ll get to question her all we want, if we get her that appellate trial. What did you want to ask her, anyway?”

“What would Gant want, with that particular piece of evidence? Neither you nor Crescend ever answered that question.”

“Blackmail,” I say. It’s pretty obvious, having thought it over.

“Blackmail for someone who gives a damn about me going to prison,” Ema says. “Not a lot of people who fit that profile.” She rolls her eyes, before I can say anything. “And you a) hadn’t met me then, and b) would fucking know if you were being blackmailed. So leave yourself out of that count. Who’s left?”

“Lana,” I say. “You think Goodman learned too much, and Gant forced Lana to do his dirty work.”

Ema sits on the steps, folding herself in half, till she’s hugging her knees. “Accomplice to murder. Second degree. Still better than first, right?”

I shake my head. “If you’re right, that would still make Gant the accomplice, at best. Lana would still be the one who committed the physical act of murder.”

“But if someone hires an assassin…”

“Both the assassin and the buyer are held liable.”

“Damn it!”

I put my hand on her shoulder and she doesn’t shake it off. “This just means we have to prove Lana didn’t kill Bruce Goodman at all.”

Ema looks up. “Hey, I’m all for that, but how?”

“Recall Jake’s testimony. That is-” I shake my head. “Recall your own investigation. Why was Goodman’s blood all over the evidence room, when he supposedly died in the parking lot?”

Ema snaps her fingers. “Because Goodman had died in there! And the body Angel Starr saw Lana stabbing in the parking lot was already just that. A body.”

“And if Lana didn’t stab the living Bruce Goodman - and why would Gant have her re-do, if she had?”

“That leaves him as the original stabber. But how do we prove it? All we’ve got is handwriting and conjecture! The scientist in me is boiling right now, I’ll have you know!”

“My brother would have liked you,” I tell Ema. “He was always going on about the value of evidence and hard fact, over snap judgements and subjectivity.”

Ema nods. “I’ve met him in court, a couple of times. He was a good defense attorney. Kinda condescending, though, especially to the detectives.” She huffs. “We do all the dirty work, and that’s the thanks we get. Then again, we are supposed to be on the prosecution’s side, so we’re hostile witnesses. At least there’s that.”

“Kris is like that to everyone,” I say. “I’m sure it wasn’t personal. He’s just never been one to mince words.”

“You’re nothing like him,” Ema says.

“Sure, rub it in my face. He was far more your type, was he not?”

She looks taken aback. “What? No way!”

“Serious and smart. That’s your type, right, fraulein?”

“Yeah, if you like looking at someone hidden under glass. If I had to pick between him and you, I’d choose you any day. Not that I’m succumbing to that false dichotomy anytime soon!”

“Ja, of course, there are plenty of other men out there. I could even introduce you to some, if you’d like. Or women, if you prefer.”

“Just men,” Ema says. “Silly way to limit myself, isn’t it? But you can’t argue with your own preferences. Well, you can, but probably not those particular ones.”

“We’re getting off track.” Any other day, this would have been a welcome tangent, but Lana Skye doesn’t have the luxury of waiting.

“We need more evidence,” Ema says. What we need is burned or buried, likely as not. “I was hoping… I was hoping Lana would agree to testify, since Gant doesn’t have anything to blackmail her with anymore. I was hoping she’d tell me - tell the police - that Gant was the one who did it. She’d be convicted of evidence tampering, but she’s already spent so many years in prison. More than enough for a lesser sentence.”

“But if we can’t get in to see her…”

“We’ll think of something,” I tell her, even as my mind goes frustratingly blank. Two more days, after the sun sets. That’s all we have. Two more days.

***

Daryan’s gone again, when I get home. “Called in for work,” says a note on the fridge. Maybe his glacial case is finally moving.

I spend the rest of the night and all of next morning calling in every favor I’ve got, as a prosecutor, a Gavin, a man with far too much money and not enough places to spend it. None of those favors get me in to see Lana, though at long last, a policeman by the name of Meekins cracks and admits that Chief Gant had been the one to sign her isolation orders. Just as Ema and I have figured, but it’s good to have the confirmation.

It’s almost noon, by the time Daryan walks back through the door. He’s got bags under his eyes, and the six o’clock version of a five o’clock shadow. His jacket and hair both smell of pungent cigarette smoke.

“How’s the case?” I ask, and he looks at me like I’d asked him for the weather on Mars.

“I fucking hate this case,” he tells me. “Don’t ask unless you want the nasty details.” Could mean kids, sexual assault, political corruption, all of the above. Unless I’m working to redress it, he’s right, I probably don’t want to know.

“Come to bed,” I say, when he parks himself on the couch, pulls out another cigarette.

I expect a crack about how I’m not his mother, or something lewd, but all he says is, “Only if you come with me,” and catches my hand. Holds it in his, palm-up, as though he’s studying my rings. “Hey, which one’s your lifeline?” he asks.

“Hell if I know.” Neither of us has slept in over twenty-four hours. I’d be lucky to find my middle finger, let alone a line on my palm.

He stands and kisses me, tasting of coffee and cigarette smoke. It’s a comfortable, familiar flavor.

“You know I love you, right, Gavin?” My heart skips a beat, then does double-time. Must have been a real bitch of a case, to have messed with him that hard.

“Ich liebe dich,” I say right back. Been a while since those words’ve come out of my mouth, but they still feel right.

“You shouldn’t,” he tells me. “Trust me, you really shouldn’t.”

***

It’s still light, when both of us wake up, though the sun will be setting soon.

“I think I’ve got something on your case,” Daryan says. “Just gotta confirm a couple of things is all. Any luck getting through to Skye?”

“Lana?” I shake my head. “Any of your connections good for this?” He’d mentioned hobnobbing with the Chief Justice, at one point.

“Not sure yet. That’s what I’ve gotta check. I’m going to head out for a bit. Keep me posted, okay?”

I watch him shove his phone in a bag, along with a bunch of leftover wires, from the pile he’d brought in for Ema. Then, I brew myself a pot of coffee and make more interminable, nutzlos phone calls.

***

I’m about to pour myself a glass of something stronger, when he returns. “No time for booze tonight, Gavin,” he tells me, tossing me a bottle of ginger ale. I watch it fizz in my hands, like a bomb ready to explode. “We’re meeting with someone who can help us. Well,” he amends, “his representative, anyway. Guy’s not gonna fly in from Washington for my sorry ass, but this is the best I can do, on short notice.” So he is pulling legislative favors, after all. “Goggles is gonna meet us there.”

“Where’s ‘there?’” I ask.

“Mélisse, up on Wilshire. You’re paying for all four of us.”

“They’re still open?”

“They are, for a reservation.”

I dig my boots out from under the bed, make sure my wallet’s in my pocket. "Ready to go when you are." Neither of us looks dressed for a fancy restaurant, exactly, but $125 a pop prix fixe, the waiters can put up with my courtroom jacket and Daryan’s scuffed up leather pants.

It’s Daryan’s car, so he takes the wheel. The ginger ale stops fizzing, so I drink it, just so I can dump the empty bottle in the car’s bilge, instead of hanging on to it. There’s a steadily-accumulating pile of coffee cups, sandwich wrappers and what might have once been an important case folder, now soaked in what I can only hope is Diet Coke. I kick up my feet onto the dashboard, just so I don’t have to keep them in all that trash.

I’ve gotten okay amounts of sleep earlier, but for some reason, my eyes are starting to close. Must be the stoplights streaking by outside the window, green and red, with streaks of gold to mark the change. I close my eyes. Just for a second. Can’t actually nap, or I’ll be groggy and out of it, when we arrive.

It takes me a half hour to realize we’re not heading anywhere near Wilshire. “Hey, Daryan, are you lost?” My voice slurs, like a drunk’s - and I can normally hold my liquor. Must be more tired than I thought.

“I know where I’m going,” he tells me, eyes ahead, on the road.

Not sure how long it is, before the car stops. Still doesn’t look anything like Wilshire. Looks like some kind of abandoned private residence, actually. Daryan reaches into the glove compartment.

And I wonder why the business end of a gun is suddenly staring me in the face.

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