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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.


So, here we are. Three men, a woman, a gun - no, two guns, I can see that Gant’s got one too - and a pool. Not that I should be the guy taking inventory, right now, with my vision occasionally doubling. It looked like there were two Daryans, for a moment, and normally I’d be all over that, but the circumstances are. Lacking. Ja, that’s the word for it.

“What’re you doing here?” I manage to croak out at Gant. It’d have been smarter to just let Daryan dispose of me. Never get caught on the scene himself.

“Babysitting your ex.” Gant rolls his eyes. “Do you really think he can be trusted, right now?”

“Think I can be trusted to tell?”

The look Gant gives me is almost sad. “You never could, kid, you never could. Always trusting everyone around you. A good man, to the end, and what did I tell you about good men?”

“Sooner or later, it all comes down to fate…” Thoughts twisting up in my head, till all that comes out is lyrics, twisting from association to association.

“That’s right, kid. Cressy, I can’t believe he’s still coherent enough to be quoting Billy Joel at me. You sure he’s not just faking it?” Gant laughs. “You know what your fate is. Finish the verse for me, that’s a good boy.”

But they never told you the price that you’d pay. For the things that you might have done.

The verdict comes down. Guilty for triple homicide, first degree.

That’s going to be Gant’s sentence, too, after I’m gone. It feels right, somehow. Feels proper, like closure.

“Finish it,” Gant says, or maybe it’s Daryan.

“What do you want me to do?” Ema’s voice sounds desperate. “I can’t kill him! I don’t know how.”

Gant makes a ‘tsk’ noise. “Use your imagination, girl! That’s right, just like you did with Marshall. Remember the sounds he made, when the spear went into him? All gurgly-like? How’s that for inspiration, eh?”

“I didn’t kill him!” Ema’s hands are over her ears. I want to hold her, tell her that she’s right, she couldn’t have done that, no way.

It’s definitely Daryan who speaks, this time. “Really, Goggles? You sure you don’t remember? Guy comes at you, and what do you do? You lunge at him, shove him out of the way. Just protecting your own shitty little girl hide. Same as anyone would. He hits the suit of armor, and bam. No more Mister Nice Guy.”

“There were three people in that room. Do the math, baby Skye. If Darke didn’t kill Neil Marshall, then… Oh, and he didn’t kill himself, either, in case you thought it was that kind of trick puzzle. You ever watch the procedurals on TV? It’s never suicide. You think they’d vary it up, but nope!”

If Justice hadn’t killed those girls, then…

“Just one person left.”

Then…

“Come on, Goggles.”

Then Kristoph must have.

They say it takes a moment of clarity, to admit the truth. But maybe it takes a moment like this, when nothing is clear anymore. It’s a simple matter of if/then, but just because you know the ‘if’, doesn’t mean you’re ready to admit the inevitable ‘then.’

“I didn’t do it! It was an accident!”

“Your poor sister. She’d have done anything to protect your ungrateful ass. Including lying to everyone about your guilt. The incorruptible Chief Prosecutor Lana Skye. But then, everyone’s got skeletons in their closet. That’s why she killed Goodman, you know. He was getting too close to unraveling your guilt, baby girl.”

I manage to push myself up on my elbows. “How’d you know what Marshall sounded like?”

“Comments from the peanut gallery? Speak up!”

“When he died… How’d you know what he sounded like, when he…”

“Turn of phrase, my boy! Ever use one of those? I know I have.”

“Maybe there weren’t three people in that room. Or maybe there were, but only at first…”

“Well, yes. Dear Lana would have to find her poor little sister eventually, now wouldn’t she?”

Ema stands. She looks like an Amazon from my vantage point, tall and glorious at her 5’1. “All right, if I killed Neil Marshall… If Lana killed Bruce Goodman, then why this? You wanted Klavier dead for sticking his nose into something. What was it? If you’re not involved with those cases, why not leave well enough alone?”

“None of your damn business, Goggles,” Daryan says, but there’s something funny about the way he says it. Almost like…

“For the last time, they’re sunglasses. Get your damn eyes checked. And you,” she whirls on Gant, “still haven’t answered my question.”

Almost like he wants her to keep digging.

Gant’s eyes narrow. “You seem awful keen on my giving you the good ol’ supervillain speech, girly. Cressy, check her for wires. Check both of them.”

Ema crosses her arms over her chest. “Oh, good. Having to do a fucking striptease for the city’s finest. That’s what I’ve needed to make today suck less.”

“Don’t need to check him.” Daryan smirks. “Already checked him all over, before we came here.”

Gant waves a gloved hand at him, grinning. “I’m an old man, Cressy. I don’t need you telling me these things. Too much information - TMI, the kids used to call it, back in my day.”

Ema takes off her labcoat, wads it up and throws it at me. Probably because throwing it at either of the men with the big guns is a bad, bad idea. “Hey, fopsky, pay attention. This might be the only chance you get to see my tits. Crescend, keep your hands to yourself, or I’ll get my creative on, in killing you.” She strips down deliberately and professionally, eyes glaring brutal murder. No wires on her, unless they’re subcutaneous, and those don’t transmit worth a damn.

“There,” she says to both of them, as she puts her clothes back on. “No wires, happy? Good, now go die in a fire.”

Daryan takes her phone, fishes mine out of my pocket as well, drops them both into the pool, one at a time. “And that’s for the wireless methods.”

“Y’ owe me a phone,” I manage to say.

He actually honest-to-God snickers. Leans in close enough he’s breathing in my ear. “You need phones where you’re going, tell you what, borrow someone else’s up there and call me up. Let me know all about it.” I shove him away weakly, gun be damned, and he lets me.

Hands on her hips, Ema advances on Gant. “Well, come on. You owe me dinner and a supervillain speech, after that show. Tell me why you want Klavier dead.”

Why you want both of us dead, I think, and it hits me. No way would Ema be getting out of this alive, not if they have their way. Not after what she’s seen and learned. She knows everything I do, if not more. The knowledge is almost enough for me to heave myself to my feet, but what would I do with it, even if I managed to accomplish that much?

“I know it’s your handwriting on that cloth,” Ema says, “and I know it’s the only evidence you’ve hung on to. I know you’ve been using it to blackmail Lana.” She looks him straight in the eye and lies like a professional actress. “She’s already told me as much, and if anything happens to Klavier or me, I’ve got a friend I’ve told to take the scrap straight to the police. At which point, Lana’s testimony should be enough to convict you.”

“You mean my police force?” Gant challenges her. “You think they’ll play to your informant’s tune. The LA police force belongs to me, baby Skye.”

My eyes settle on Daryan, who’s been awfully quiet, as though he’s ashamed.

“Not all of them,” Ema says quietly. “You never had me.”

Gant strides up to her, takes her chin in his hand. “And what if I told you I could free your sister, or at least postpone her execution some more. You’d be one of mine then, sure as gold glitters. She’d do anything to save you. You’d do likewise for her.”

Ema is quiet. “Maybe. But you’re bluffing. You’d never give Lana enough free reign to talk, now that you no longer have a way to blackmail her. She’s already dead to you. And so am I.”

“Damn shame,” Gant says. “Two pretty girls like you.”

I wonder why he expects Daryan to keep quiet, after all of this is said and done.

“So that’s your plan,” Ema says. “Have me kill Klavier, and then, lemme guess, Crescend shoots me? Hell’s his motive for that again?” Not that they'd asked Lana for her motive in killing Bruce Goodman.

“What, you wouldn’t want revenge if someone offed your eye-candy? Good thing you never scored with her, eh, Klavi-o. She’s a hard one.”

And if Daryan killed us both? Jealous boyfriend flies into a rage. It’s a common enough story. Crime of passion, straight out of Chicago. The movie, not the actual Windy City. But Daryan’s too clever for that. He’d still hang for a crime of passion. But self defense? Trying, and failing, to protect your best friend and prosecuting partner? Yeah, that’d fly okay with the judge, not to mention him being a cop. He’d already get favors, far as our broken legal system is concerned.

Ema’s tries to put herself between me and Gant again, but he checks her, stands over me, with his back to the pool. “One more thing I should tell you, chief. You’re already hooked for both Klavier’s death and mine. That phone Crescend destroyed?”

Gant’s ruddy face gets ruddier.

“Yeah, he was right to destroy it. But it was already recording, at that point. Already transmitting to every police station in the radar. You sure you’ve got every single man under your thumb?”

A surge of something very much like hope twitches in the pit of my stomach. He’ll go down for this, if nothing else, and his guilt might buy Lana some lenience, especially if Ema really has entrusted our meager evidence to another party.

I hear the smack of leather gloves, one against the other, the sound of nervous laughter. “You’re done,” Ema says. “It’s over.”

“You’re bluffing,” Gant says.

“And you were the one who killed Marshall and Goodman. I’ve got nothing to lose. You’ve got everything, and you’re going to lose it.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, girly. Or maybe you wanted Joe Darke to get free, take out another fifteen before they would convict him. Maybe you’d have been his lucky sixteenth. You know what they say about serial killers. They always come back for their chosen targets, and he seemed to have taken a real shine to you.”

Ema’s biting her lip. I can see her start to shake. Reliving that night, all those years ago. "Spree. He was spree, not serial. Why does everyone always get that wrong?"

“One man, instead of however many it would have otherwise taken. But do I get any thanks? No. You should be thanking me, Skye. You should all thank me, for everything I have done for this goddamned city! I dedicate my life to it, and this. This is fucking it. Brucie was bad enough, but you? You all take the cake!” He’s laughing, like a maniac, like a man gone well and truly over the deep end.

“So you killed Bruce Goodman for knowing too much. Then you set out to kill us for knowing too much. You’re everything that’s wrong with the United States school system. God!”

“Shoot them both,” Gant tells Daryan, voice gone cold, and right as he takes his attention away from Ema, I hear an unfamiliar man’s voice yelling ‘Police, freeze!’ Just one voice, funny, and I don’t see any lights, don’t hear sirens...

Daryan’s gun is still pointed at me, but he’s hesitating, looking around, doing anything but firing, and I know he’s normally more professional than that, not so easily distracted.

Gant’s ankles are in my immediate field of vision, and I hear Ema gasp as he raises his gun, pointing it at her.

I know he won’t miss. Not at that distance. Every one of the muscles in my body screams for me to move, and finally, finally, one of them wins. I can’t take Gant in a fight, as I am right now, but the edge of the pool is only inches from us. All I have to do is hook my arm around his legs, roll, and let gravity do the rest.

The gun fires as he goes down. His shoulder thwacks against my face, hard enough it feels like my nose is broken, and after that, I don’t hear much anymore, as both our bodies hit the water. I can feel it soaking into my clothes, making them billow and tug me down, all at once. The chlorine burns my sinuses, as I inhale, too out of it to hold my breath like I should.

I should fight it, I think. Kick my legs, flail my arms, break through the surface. My vision’s already going dark, and damned if I can tell which way the surface lies.

Muffled screaming. Maybe another gunshot - or maybe I just hallucinated that part - and then a pair of arms wrap around my chest. I struggle against them, reflexively, as they pull me forward and suddenly there is air again. I suck it in, huge, painful lungfuls, coughing and gagging, eyes stinging too much to open.

The next thing I know, there’s solid ground beneath my back. Someone’s hand pinching my nose shut, and the familiar taste of cigarettes, passed from mouth to mouth, then I’m rolled onto my side, so I can continue spewing water at my leisure.

Familiar swearing, too. “Fucking cuntbuckets, that hurt!” Daryan, next to me, rubbing his chest. “Jesus.” He’s soaking wet, hair streaking down his shoulders and back.

Why is he helping me? When did he switch sides, again? I’m going to need a chart, when this is over.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, Cressy?” Gant’s voice again. Now that my eyes are open, I can see Ema’s got a gun trained on him, for a reversal. Everyone always forgets she can use one. Including me. Including possibly her, but she is a cop, still. “Something like, oh, I don’t know, Borginia…”

“What’s he talking about, Daryan?” Ema asks.

“What, you honestly thought I’d kill you two for shits and giggles?”

Ema shrugs. “If he paid you enough, sure.”

“Not enough for this, Goggles.” His hand, solid against my back, trying to get me to sit up.

“You’re like Lana…” I take a guess. “Never did tell me what happened, in Borginia.”

Daryan sighs. “Nothing good.”

Gant smirks, even as he’s clutching his left thigh. Looks like Ema shot him, albeit non-fatally. “And by ‘nothing good,’ you mean ‘political assassination,’ my boy.”

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