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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.


Then comes Gant’s trial. My own choreographed solo, and you better believe I cut loose when I have the chance. His defense gives me a run for my money, with entrapment charges and claims of ambiguity in his confession, but the fact is, by the time Gant confessed, the only risk he thought he was facing was having his crimes exposed. No one was holding a gun to his head, that much is clear even on slightly scratchy recording. Handwriting may not be great evidence, but between the confession and Lana’s testimony, I nail the bastard to the wall. God help me, but it’s a good feeling.

And then comes the hard part. The one I knew was coming. The part where Gant calls out Daryan on the smuggling and murder charges, and I realize that if he gets them to stick, his own arrest will be called into question. I know Daryan’s guilty as far as the smuggling’s concerned. As for the assassination… Honestly, I’m not sure what to believe. I’d like to believe him, and I think I do. I’d like to think he had no motive, if nothing else. But who the fuck knows? That whole part’s over my head, much as I’ve occasionally joked about going into international diplomacy. Maybe this is the sign I really shouldn’t.

“Look through my personal belongings,” Gant claims. “You’ll find the photograph to convict Cressy with.”

His friend, Fulbright, presents the evidence, but maybe Fulbright isn’t his friend anymore, so much. The man smiles disarmingly, spreads his hands, and swears on the Bible he’d never seen any photographs with Daryan in them, in any of the stuff confiscated from Gant’s office or home.

Daryan looks as confused as anyone else, at that revelation. Looks guilty as hell, and I hope to God it’s just of the lesser crime.

Gant’s accusations look like desperate bluster, after that. So much dust scattered in the wind, to obscure the blood on his own teeth.

The look in his eyes as they lead him from the courtroom for the final time is almost admiring. “Looks like you’ve got that fire back after all, boy,” he tells me, but the cold rage I’m feeling is nothing like fire. Ice is just as capable of burning its target. “They’re gonna need men like you more than ever, now that I’m out of the picture.”

You’re just like me is what he’s trying to say. I want to contradict him, but the words dry up in my throat. “You’re not needed anymore,” I tell him instead. Said like that, it sounds an awful lot like agreeing.

***

For his part in Gant’s arrest, Daryan’s promoted to captain. I watch as he receives his railroad tracks, and he looks so fucking beautiful in that moment, with the pride in his eyes and the smile that doesn’t quite reach all the way. I feel like my chest is going to cave in, with how much I miss him and want him back, but there’s a line and we’ve both drawn it. Guess Smythe and Henley sang it right, after all.

I leave the ceremony before it’s over, take a bus to the end of the line. The grass around my brother’s grave has just been trimmed, filling my nose with its clean, sharp scent. His headstone is elegant and austere, more expensive than its simplicity might lead you to believe. He would have liked it. The daughter he raised lies next to him, so I hope he’s not lonely, wherever he is.

“There’s a real chance you were a murderer, isn’t there?” I ask Kristoph. I don’t expect a reply, and I don’t get one. Probably for the best. I really don’t feel like having to check myself into a mental institution.

“Don’t think for a second I’d condone your actions. If you were alive, know that I would have taken you down for it, brother or no.” The sunlight flares and blooms, far too bright in my eyes. “Still, I can’t judge. If you’re a murderer, that makes me one as well.” A single murder gets you life in prison, but at least there’s a chance for life. For three, there could have been nothing but death row. And that part’s my doing.

“If you aren’t, then I’m in the clear.” I know which of those I believe, and it’s the one that won’t absolve either of us anytime soon.

The boy who killed him is buried elsewhere, a lonely corner of a prison cemetery. Everyone tells me I should hate him, but it’s never sunk in, somehow. I just wish I could have rescued him from the bleak hole he found himself tumbling down into. It’s naive of me, and condescending besides, but I can’t turn off the feeling any more than I could keep doubt from seeping into the cracks left by his testimony.

“I won’t apologize to you again,” I tell Apollo Justice. “You’ve already told me those words were worthless, coming from me, and you weren’t wrong. I don’t know what to say to you, not really, except that I believed you, in the end, when it was too late to matter. I believe you, still.”

Last is the girl who’d wrestled death to the bitter end. What lives might have changed, had Vera Misham woken up? She could have corroborated Justice’s testimony, won him an appeal. I wish she’d fought just a little harder. I wish I had known her better, so I could say something to her, right now. Her and Trucy both - not knowing them well enough is my second biggest regret. Right after not knowing Kristoph well enough I could have stopped him while they still lived.

Four graves, but Daryan’s wrong about one thing. I won’t be joining them anytime soon. I owe them far too much, and dead men can’t exactly pay their debts. I leave flowers on each of the stones and catch the next bus home.

***

I find Ema sitting on my steps when I return. “I didn’t think you should be alone tonight,” she says. “Wanna let me in?”

I open the door and collapse against her, arms around her waist, knees buckling under me. She touches my lips with her fingers, takes my chin in her hand and turns my face aside when I try to kiss her.

“A post-traumatic hookup isn’t going to help anyone, and I won’t be your rebound.” You wouldn’t be a rebound, I want to tell her, but I’m still broken enough over Daryan, I don’t know if I can say those words honestly and with a straight face.

“What, you’re not going to call me a glimmerous fop and tell me off for making you wait?”

“Later,” she says. “Besides, you’ve got simmer enough in you, to cancel out the stupid. I guess. Doesn’t seem to make you happy, though, does it? I almost wish you really were nothing but flashy clothes, empty smiles and easy victories. You’d be happier that way, and I’d be able to keep not caring about you.”

“How’s Lana?” I ask.

“Adjusting,” Ema says, after a moment. “Not used to her world being world-sized again, all of a sudden. But she’s free and she’s back. I have her back, after all those years, thanks to the two of you.”

“Guess we’re not always the villains, ja?”

“Not this time, anyway,” Ema says, ghost of a smile on her lips. “And maybe not other times, either. You’re not a bad guy, Gavin, and I’m willing to keep hitting you until I knock that into your head.”

“Bitte, fraulein, I’ve already begged you to have pity for our poor overworked DV squad.”

“Who says I’m domestic?” she retorts and presses her lips against my forehead. She never wears lipstick, but it still feels like she’s left her indelible mark on me, somehow.

I close the door behind us and turn on the lights. It’s a long night ahead of us, but she’s right. Not being alone does help.



And this story's done! Phew! It definitely wasn't always easy, figuring out how things were going to work, but I did it.

There are definitely still some hanging threads, after the end, but bits of a larger story wound up bleeding into this one, unexpectedly. A larger story dealing with the Phantom's shady organization, Interpol shenanigans, and enough plot that I'm frankly terrified to tackle it. Maybe I will, at some point, though. I think all the things directly relevant to this particular story got addressed, at least a little, though feel free to ask if anything still fails to make sense.

(If any of you are familiar with Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, the shady international plot is mentally filed as 'Al-Thamen goes here' in my notes. For extra dorkery.)

In other notes:

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d want to thank Damon Gant for something, but his determination to destroy the Rise from the Ashes evidence made my life SO. MUCH. EASIER. The evidence and proofs in this freaking case are many and varied, even without trying to re-mix. So I figured, a decade after the original cases, yeah, that evidence is dead meat, except for the piece of cloth he used to keep Lana in line.

Joe Gillis and Norma Desmond are from the film/musical Sunset Boulevard. The soundtrack to the musical also served as my writing music. I now have the title song stuck in my head. Though unlike Joe Gillis, who’s kind of a douche, Klavier’s a genuinely good person. The music informed mood much more than characterization.

Gott im Himmel und All die Teufel in der Hölle. Warum kann ich nicht weiter? Was verdammt falsch mit mir? - God in Heaven and all the demons in Hell. Why can't I move? What the hell is wrong with me?

Tun Sie etwas! - Do something!

Blame all mistakes on me and/or Google Translate. (The word used for ‘wrong’ looks like a cognate for ‘false,’ so there’s a real chance it’s not, appropriately enough, the correct usage. But I don’t speak German, aside from tiny basics and whatever I’m learning thanks to Herr Klavier Gavin, and so I don’t know what I might replace it with.)

“Sooner or later, it all comes down to fate… But they never told you the price you’d pay/for the things that you might have done.” - Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young.” The titular lyric is, of course, what Gant’s getting at.

Smythe and Henley are Patty Smythe and Don Henley. The song being referenced is “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.” Self-explanatory, I believe.

Just so you all know, the working/joke title of this fic is "Daryan Crescend Says 'Fuck' A Lot: The Musical." Which isn't entirely fair - I'm pretty sure every character appearing in this fic drops at least one F-bomb. But Daryan managed three in one paragraph (and five in pretty close proximity,) so it had to be commemorated. ...And now you all know a little something extra about the inner workings of my brain.

Thank you all for reading!

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