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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.


Trucy’s show had drawn quite a crowd. Apollo shot Vera a worried look, where she seemed to have retreated behind her sketchpad again. “I… Sorry, ambient noise. I can’t hear anyone, so I can’t hear myself think, and I…” Next to her, Wocky glared at anyone who dared stand too close, a short, surly purple-orange sentinel.

“They’re gonna be quiet for Shorty soon, babe. Or they better, if they want alla their teeth.”

“Your mom would be upset if you got arrested again,” Vera told him, quietly.

“Aw, didja have to mention Ma? She likes you better than me, anyway; she’d just be pissed you had to sit inna police station for me.”

Vera gave a small shrug. “So everyone’s agreed. Don’t get arrested.” She shifted closer to him, as they spoke. Partially reading his lips, Apollo realized. Hey, it was a good skill to have, when things got loud.

Toward the back of the bar, he could see Mr. Wright with a bottle of his ever-present grape juice. Almost definitely actual grape juice, this time, considering the man sitting next to him was none other than the infamous Chief Prosecutor. Well, okay, they were both adults, they were allowed to drink, but Apollo sure wouldn’t, in Miles Edgeworth’s presence. The smile on Phoenix’s face seemed unquantifiably different from his usual. Lighter, reaching up all the way into his eyes. It might have just been anticipation for his daughter’s show, but the comfortable, familiar way he leaned in toward the man in the expensive suit made Apollo wonder.

The lights dimmed. Voices quieted, and a playful melody rose from the speakers. Apollo gaped in surprise, as he recognized a snippet of the song Klavier had played for him, in his basement all those weeks ago. So that’s where it had wound up. The curtain lifted on Trucy, in her blue magician’s attire. She greeted the crowd, calling back to the regulars. “Any smokers among our audience tonight? You know you shouldn’t do that- I have to say that, since my Daddy’s in the audience,” she said with a wink. “But for now, if someone could lend me their lighter, that’d be great.”

Several hands shot up. “Awww, you guys are so helpful. This is why I love you.” Trucy held up a lighter in each hand, one red, with a skull and crossbones, the other sparkly, peeling-off gold and silver. A flicker of her fingers, and there were two blue-red flames dancing in her hands, over her palms and wrists, as she turned them, spinning around her hair, burnishing it into a halo. Blue magician’s gloves folded around the fire, molding it into a ball, then extinguishing it with a sharp clap.

Trucy held her hands out to the audience, still clasped together, one on top of the other. Her top hand stroked something gently, and Apollo saw the cooing white head of a dove. “Hey, who let this little guy in here? No one? Guess I’m keeping him, then.” She placed the dove in a large cage, off to her left. “Hey, wait a minute, what’s that?” The little dove shifted on its perch, and suddenly there was another behind it, where none had been before. Trucy took off her hat, with a look of consternation, checking inside and shaking it out. Only when she put it back on did it lift off her head, hovering in the air for several seconds, held aloft by another bird.

“Okay, guys, this is getting ridiculous. Uncle Miles, are you helping Daddy play some kind of prank on me?” She marched up to the Chief Prosecutor, who froze for a moment, then relaxed, wagging her finger in front of his face. “Hah, I knew it!” Her hand reached right into his cravat, and to Apollo’s surprise, the man let her, the white ruffles parting to reveal another bundle of chirping feathers. She cradled the bird against her chest, as she carried it back to the cage, to deposit it with the others.

“Time for you all to get some sleep,” and she swept off her cloak with a flourish, draping it over the cage for a long beat, before lifting it again. The cage vanished, and in its place stood a beaming Klavier Gavin, his trademark purple jacket marked with a diamond pin, to match the patterns on Trucy’s cape. The audience erupted into cheers, and Apollo couldn’t help but join in.

“I’d like to thank my lovely assistant,” Trucy said, as they both took their bows. “He said I could even saw him in half, if I wanted, but that would be really sad, and then I’d get mobbed by all his other fans, and not in a good way.” She reached over to clasp Klavier’s hand, and he pulled her into a hug. “Best lovely assistant ever!”

The tabloids would have a field day with this, tomorrow. Hell, the legitimate newspapers might too. They’d already run the photos of the erstwhile rock sensation kissing some short brunet in front of a courthouse for weeks on end, to Apollo’s chagrin. Small blessings that the photos were blurry, though half of LA probably knew it was him anyway.

Those tabloid photos probably acquired some new friends, when Klavier vaulted off the stage and headed straight for him. “Well, Herr Forehead? What do you think?” he asked, with an arm around Apollo’s waist. Somewhere in the back, Apollo heard a squawk from Wocky.

“I think you let Trucy do all the work and got half the credit for it.” Apollo softened his words with a half-smile. “But you looked pretty doing it, so that counts for something.”

Klavier mock-pouted. “Hey, I could be a magician too, if I wanted to.”

“Yeah, with a lot of training,” Trucy piped up, as Wocky’s voice broke through the conversation again.

“Swear you were cheating, Misham! I bet you already knew. Thanks a lot for being gay, dweebface,” he pointed at Apollo. “Now I owe her fifty bucks.”

Apollo snorted. “Yeah, like you can’t afford that. Also, I’m bi.” Kinsey scale five still counted, dammit.

“You’re buying the what now?”

“Argh, never mind. Just give Vera her money and let her be smug at you. She deserves it, for putting up with your face.”

Wocky abruptly felt the need to check out the tops of his sneakers. “Heh, yeah, she does.” A glance at Vera’s sketchpad showed a small cartoon of Wocky blushing beet-red. “Hey, my face don’t turn that kinda colors!”

“Yes,” Vera said, “it does.” Apollo had to agree.

Phoenix pulled him aside as they left the club. “Hey, kiddo, you free tomorrow?”

Apollo shrugged. “I am now, if we have a case. Do we have a case?” The ‘kiddo’ nickname felt a little strange - wasn’t Phoenix way too young to be his father? But it felt comfortable enough, too, so he left it alone without ribbing the man too much.

“Nope!” Phoenix said cheerfully. “But there’s someone I’d like you to meet. A couple of someones, actually.”

***

“You sure you’re okay with me changing plans at the last second like that?” he asked Klavier, who only smiled and kissed his cheek.

“I’ll do my best not to pine away to nothing, without your constant company. Somehow, miraculously. Actually,” Klavier said, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to do on my own anyway. Now’s probably as good a time as any.”

“What is it?”

Klavier studied the rings on his hands for a moment. “I’ve some jailhouse visits of my own, far overdue.”

“Not-” Apollo had promised himself he’d stick to his guns and stay the hell away from Kristoph, for good. But if Klavier was planning to… Okay, so maybe Klavier honestly wouldn’t want him there, for that meeting, but he still deserved to have someone waiting, when he returned. And if Klavier did want the company, self-made promises could just get fucked.

But Klavier shook his head. “No, not him. I’ve already said everything I wanted to say, to my brother. Daryan and I, on the other hand… That screaming fight has been a Sword of Damocles for some time now. Might as well get it over with. We both owe each other at least that much.”

“Has his sentence been announced yet?” Apollo asked.

Klavier toyed with the ends of his hair. “Not yet. His defense team is very good, but he’s got Interpol riding him, and he certainly did kill their man. It could be anything from death, to life, to a dozen years. Hard to say. However it goes, he’s alive right now.”

“Good luck,” Apollo said. “Call me if you want to talk, after, okay?”

“As if I need an excuse to call you. Embarrassing you by proving that you like my music after all is excuse enough.” Apollo regretted ever setting his ring tone.

“Guitar’s Serenade is Lamiroir’s music. I never said I didn’t like hers. And okay, I like some of your newer stuff. Your lyrics still suck goats, though.”

“Goats? You wound me!”

“Goats!”

***

He heard a woman’s voice, when he entered the Wright Anything Agency, the next day. “Nick, when do I get to meet your Mini Me? You promised me you had him living in your storage closet, like Harry Potter, you liar! And then I wanted a little closet lawyer of my very own.”

Apollo just gaped. The woman wore some sort of purple kimono, her hair held up with chopsticks in a kind of braided bun. Very pretty, but clearly Phoenix’s mischievous ilk and thus not to be trusted, going by what he’d just overheard.

“You want a closet lawyer,” he heard Phoenix say, “talk to Edgeworth.”

“Aww, Nick, are you still pouting about- hey, the guest of honor is here!” She ran up to hug Apollo before he got the chance to have any say in the matter. “Maya Fey. Pleased to meet you!”

“Uhh… I’m Apollo Justice, and I’m confused.”

“But honest! Nick, I like this one. You’re keeping him.”

Phoenix shrugged. “Already planning on it. He’s good for tax writeoffs.”

“That’s it,” Apollo said, deadpan. “I quit my job. You’re all nuts.”

“You noticed.” Phoenix sounded so very sympathetic. “Maya’s one of my oldest friends. She helped me with a lot of my cases, before I, uh, went on vacation and she became Master of Kurain.”

“I’m here partly to kick his ass and make him study for the bar,” Maya informed him. Apollo still had no idea what a Master of Kurain was, except possibly vaguely pseudo-Japanese, going by the clothes.

“Her sister,” Phoenix continued, “was my mentor.”

“Mia Fey…” Apollo recalled the name.

Maya nodded, looking sad for a split second. “You know, it’s so unfair. I’m the one who never gets to see her…”

“We could get Pearls to do it, if you want,” Phoenix suggested, but she shook her head.

“Maybe next time. This one’s not for me.”

Confusion reigned in Apollo’s skull, as Phoenix made him sit down on the couch, while his friend sat cross-legged on the floor and closed her eyes. What happened next made him fairly certain someone had slipped hallucinogens in his orange juice that morning. He watched as Maya Fey’s body shifted slightly. The woman looking back at him now had rounder features and a different look in her eye, though Apollo would eat his bracelet if she and Maya weren’t related in some way.

Speaking of bracelets, why did he even think this was weird anymore? Pieces of jewelry that let you know when someone was lying, sure, whatever, why not? So why balk at shapeshifters? He held out his hand, instead of flopping over and giving up forever, the way he wanted to.

“Hi, I’m Apollo Justice,” he said, again. The woman’s eyes settled on Phoenix, and she smiled, nodding.

“Mia Fey, former attorney at law.”

...Okay, ghosts, not shapeshifters. About the same caliber of what-the-fuck. Right. Totally not weird at all. Just roll with it. “Uh, same. I mean, not former, current. He’s former, but we’re working on that.”

Mia frowned, and Phoenix got a frantic look on his face. “Wright? It looks like you’ve got quite a bit of filling in to do.”

“Tattletale.” Phoenix made a face at Apollo and launched into the whole complicated story.

“So, now you have a junior partner of your own,” Mia said when he was done. “In that case, welcome to our little family, Apollo.”

Apollo let out an unintended choked-up noise, lump wedging itself in his throat. Any second now, Mr. Wright would object to such drastic inclusions, and he could go back to normal…

Phoenix never objected. “Th-thank you, Ms. Fey,” Apollo finally replied, voice shaky. “Hey, is it true that you very nearly defeated Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth, during his first trial?”

Mia laughed. “Oh, that’s a long story, and besides, he wasn’t Chief Prosecutor, back then. Just a brilliant and rather messed up young man, in a truly ridiculous jacket.” Apollo listened as he began a story of her own.

He’d never thought of Phoenix and Trucy’s little Anything office as a legacy, but here was the proof, right before his eyes. Phoenix, Mia… This was the proverbial Something Bigger, and Apollo was a part of it.

***

“Ghosts huh?,” he asked Phoenix later, after Mia’s form had faded and Maya had gone off to take a nap.

“Don’t go Flat-Earth Atheist on me now, Polly.”

“I just. If there’s ghosts, and psychic powers and all that stuff… Do you ever wonder if there are other things, too?”

“Like what?”

“I’m just thinking about something Machi said. Do you think there’s fate out there, or God, or something that says ‘hey, you! You’re supposed to do this big important thing, then die, once you’re done with it’?”

Phoenix laughed ruefully. “Don’t ask me. But you know what I believe? I don’t think we’re ever done with the ‘big important things,’ as you call them. Finish one, and the next one always comes along, whether it’s a case, or raising a child, legislative action, or just talking to the right person at the right time.

“And yeah, sometimes shit happens. We get hurt. We die. We find out things we don’t want to know about people we thought we knew. We lose people, which can be worse than all of the above. But even then, they’re not really gone. I mean, literally, you just had a two-hour chat with someone who died ten years ago. And whoever’s left grows some calluses, or maybe some scar tissue, finds everyone else who’s left, and hangs on.”

Phoenix clapped him on the shoulder. “And now, I feel like I’m back in art school again, having a philosophical discussion at- what time is it, even?. Though you and I are considerably more sober, now, than my friends were, back then.”

“I’m not getting drunk with you, Mr. Wright.”

“Wouldn’t ask you to. So, what brought this on?”

“I’m happy,” Apollo said, and realized that it was true.

“And you think you shouldn’t be?”

Apollo shrugged. “Shoes. Dropping.”

“Shoes always drop. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy, and it doesn't mean you don’t deserve it when it comes your way. Which reminds me, Maya’s gonna want to meet your boyfriend, when he’s back from wherever.”

“I think they’d get along.”

“Scary, isn’t it? Does he like burgers?”

“Probably. Who doesn’t?”

“Vegetarians.”

“Veggie burgers! …Why are we having this conversation?” He thought for a moment. “Oh, hey, yeah, I remembered what I was going to ask. What was that music you gave Klavier, that time he came over?”

Phoenix fished the iPod out of his desk, cued it, and handed it to Apollo. “It’s kind of old. We’re talking over thirty years. But there’s still something to it, I think. This band did a rock opera, about the war in Sarajevo.”

“Cheerful,” Apollo said. “Totally what you give a guy, to cheer him up.”

“Hey, it ends in two kids from the opposite ends of the war starting to see each other as people, as opposed to enemies, and getting out while the getting’s good. Sounds pretty hopeful to me. Plus there’s a lot of loud guitars, so I figured Gavin would like it. Sometimes you need something loud and tense, but also kind of pretty, to shake you out of a funk.”

“So does this mean you like Klavier now?” Apollo asked.

Phoenix gave him a mock annoyed look. “He’s like that stray that shows up, sheds on everything, and never leaves. I think that means we’re keeping him. Unless you dump him, and even that’s case-dependent.”

“I’m glad.” Never dumping, Apollo thought. Not gonna happen.

“He’s an okay kid,” Phoenix said.

Apollo’s phone chose that moment to ring, Guitar’s Serenade announcing itself across the kitchen.

“That’s him,” Apollo said, and took the call.

***

He found Klavier at People Park, as promised, slouched on a too-small swing set, arms wound around the chains. Apollo took the swing next to his. “How’d it go?”

“Screaming fight.” Klavier bent backwards, till the ends of his hair were brushing the gravel. “About what I figured. How about you?”

“Uh… really not a screaming fight. Pretty great, actually.”

“Ungerecht. Want to switch?”

The scary part was, Apollo almost said yes. If it was a matter of a world where he was happy and Klavier was miserable… Yeah, he’d make that switch in a heartbeat. If someone offered him the chance to go back in time and swap out his own mediocre adolescence for the pain of Klavier’s, he’d take it. A wild, irrational, overprotective urge, but that didn’t make it untrue. Even scarier that Klavier probably felt the same, when it came to him.

But this wasn’t a world in which Klavier was miserable. In which either of them were miserable, all-told, not anymore, so he could afford to say, “Nah, I don’t like Crescend that much. I can share, though, if you want. Apparently my boss’s friend wants to meet you.”

“Oh, really? Tell me, Forehead, is this an attractive friend of Herr Wright’s?”

“Yes,” Apollo deadpanned. “And she can have your crazy ass.”

Klavier reached over to poke him with his foot. “Surely, you don’t mean that. I’ll just have to go and cry on her shoulder, about how terrible you are to me.”

“Yep. Sure. You go do that, rocker boy.”

“Just promise me you will introduce me as your lover, when the introductions are made.” Klavier amped the accent, just to make the word sound even more unbearably seventies porno-cheesy. Apollo wouldn’t have thought that was possible, but you learned something new every day.

He smirked and said, “Uh-huh, yeah. When pigs fly. You get ‘boyfriend,’ or you get ‘that annoying sack of potatoes who follows me around everywhere.”

“Ooh, potatoes.”

Apollo facepalmed. “...You get ‘boyfriend,’ and you’re gonna like it.”

Klavier really did have a beautiful smile, even when he was practically hanging upside-down. “You know, I think I can live with that.”

The sun shone bright overhead, casting circles of light over Apollo’s vision, as he reached across both their sets of chains to pull Klavier into a startled, laughing hug, and hung on like he’d never let go.



Holy shit, I can’t believe this fic is done. I didn’t actually write it all in a month, since I had about four chapters pre-written, before I posted a single one, but still, that went surprisingly fast. My first novella! How’s that for a milestone. Bear in mind, I’ve had a years-long dry spell, when it came to fic writing, so this is huge. Apparently the answer to “what makes Lily actually get butt into chair and write?” is “gay lawyers.”

Now that the fic is done, I can share with you all the truly hideous bilingual pun that forms the basis of Katerina Dvoynaya’s name. Okay, so: ‘Kitty’ is one of the diminutives for ‘Katerina.’ The other waitress even calls her that, at one point. Dvoynaya means ‘double,’ in Russian. Kitty Double -> Copy Cat. Sorrynotsorry.

What else, what else… Trucy’s performance is partially based on this guy’s. Isn’t he fab?

The rock opera Phoenix references is Savatage’s “Dead Winter Dead.” Time for honesty, I didn’t actually have a specific song in mind, until I was asked about it, at which point I realized that “Mozart and Madness,” from said soundtrack fit my description perfectly.

Another song I listened to repeatedly, while writing this fic, is “Light,” the final song from the musical “Next to Normal.” You can see how its thematic influences snuck their way in. Though I’d say “Halfway to Sunlight’s” ending is overall more unqualifiedly happy, than said musical’s.

Everything I listen to is way, way too old for these characters to actually listen to, sob, but this is where handwaving and making them have eccentric tastes comes in. :)

“Never flinch in the face of traumatic client revelations,” which Apollo references in chapter 13, is a piece of advice I’ve found useful myself in the context of counseling psychology, though I actually first saw it on N. K. Jemisin’s blog (tw: discussion of sexual assault in fiction and counseling contexts), rather than getting it from a professor. And no, it really isn’t t an easy instruction to follow. Apollo certainly fails at it, but he’s not a professional counselor, and it’s not expected of him, so that’s okay.

I feel like I’m forgetting something… Oh yeah, Lawrence v. Texas is the Supreme Court Case which finally struck down Texas’s sodomy laws, in 2003. So part and parcel of decriminalizing gay sex in the US. I’m not making too many calls about the state of gay rights in 2026 Ace Attorney verse, though presumably no worse, and probably better, than they are right now (especially in liberal parts of the country,) but I sure can reference existing cases!

If I’m still forgetting something, please leave a comment and I’ll reply and add to the notes here. Thank you all for sticking with me. :)

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Lily

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