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[personal profile] mllelaurel
Fandom: Ace Attorney
Title: Way Stations of the Heart
Characters: Apollo Justice, Klavier Gavin, Kristoph Gavin, Phoenix Wright, ensemble.
Pairings: Klavier/Apollo, Phoenix/Edgeworth, past Phoenix/Kristoph and Klavier/Daryan
Rating: M
Warnings: Sexual references, and some violence (I can't tell where the graphic vs. non-graphic violence line lies, unless, like, people's guts are falling out.) Prevalent themes of emotional abuse, gaslighting and general creepiness. Major character death, right at the start.
Summary: Klavier thought he’d grown used to dealing with the deaths of people he loved, even Kristoph’s execution, but nothing could have prepared him for his brother’s voice inside his mind, or the inexorable loss of control over his own life.

In which there is possession, journeys to the center of the mind, too many close calls, and a love confession or two.


Images whirled through Klavier’s disbelieving mind. The empty alleyway behind the detention center. Phoenix Wright, in his hallmark blue suit, alone. The soundless flash of a gun. Apollo catching up to him, eyes wide, as the body fell. The police searching Apollo’s apartment and finding the murder weapon, complete with his fingerprints all over it.

So you’d try to frame him. At least Kristoph wasn’t delusional enough to think Apollo would actually do his bidding. Not when it came to murder. Not when it came to anything, and that’s just how Klavier liked it.

The evidence will speak for itself, Kristoph replied.

Ja, because there’s no motive and there never will be.

You really think so? Kristoph sighed. Then again, you didn’t get to witness Wright’s trial firsthand, so of course you’re missing a key piece of the puzzle. The ace which prompted my downfall was a fake. Forged evidence, once again.

Yes, Wright is, in fact, guilty of the crimes you and I took him down for, once upon a time. The timing is all that’s different. Only this time, he handed the Black Mark to an unsuspecting Apollo. He could have easily ended the boy’s career before it had even begun. And you call that a lack of motive?

Klavier reeled back. Why would he do that?

Some trite attempt to teach Justice a lesson in never trusting evidence handed to him by a stranger, perhaps? Enforcing empathy for his own situation via parallel? It’s not as though he shared his motives with me. What I know, I’ve pieced together on my own.

Give me one good reason why I should believe you.

Why would I lie? Kristoph said. My mind is open to you, as much as yours is to me, if only you’d make the effort. And sure enough, there was undeniable subconscious ring of truth to Kristoph’s words.

It doesn’t matter, Klavier said, at last. Apollo’s no killer.

Kristoph appeared unconcerned. I don’t need him to be. What I need is plausibility, not action.

How was he going to get Apollo’s fingerprints? Klavier hadn’t bothered to voice the question, but Kristoph still replied, in a round-about sort of way.

That reminds me. You’ve promised to help Miss Wright hang posters, for her little magic venture. It’s the perfect excuse for you to spend more time with my dear apprentice and a roll of double-sided tape.

Tape would be easy to leave prints on, and just as easy to transfer said prints, afterward. There’d be some distortion, but no one left a perfect fingerprint, in real life. Kristoph would know how to line them up, along the butt of the handgun, near the safety and the trigger.

There’d be residue, of course. Hopefully the forensics team would catch on to that. Ema would, surely...

Wait, what was he thinking? There would be no forensics team! Wright’s life was on the line here, and if Klavier let it get as far as an investigation, he would already have failed. The man had his flaws, but Klavier would be damned if he let him die.

Damned. Hah. As though his current predicament wasn’t its own circle of hell. Dante must have missed it, somehow, in his whirlwind tour, though it shared some elements in common with a number of them. Ever-trapped, unmoving, without winds, fire, ice or mud to hold him in place. Nothing solid to anchor himself with.

And if he let Wright die - let alone if he let Apollo take the heat for it - then he would deserve every second of this damnation.

***

Trucy must have been busy. The posters looked good, and not just for an amateur effort. The magician’s silhouette, with sparkling, glittery lights, all around her. “Uncle Valant says I’ve come a long way,” Trucy told him, proudly.

“And do you have tickets for me, Fraulein?” Kristoph teased. “I’d very much like to see you perform, after all this manual labor.”

“Of course!” she said. “...At a discount,” and bounced on the backs of her heels.”

“Ach, you still haven’t forgiven me for that, have you?” Kristoph toyed with the ends of his queue, just as Klavier would have done.

“Nor should she,” Apollo chimed in.

“It was my concession to the legal offices,” Kristoph explained. “Anything else would have looked like…”

“Collusion,” Apollo finished for him, in the same breath. “Anything else would have looked like an effort to bribe the defense. No, I get it. I still thought you were an ass, though.”

“Only because you dislike my music,” Kristoph countered. “Fraulein Trucy, at least, must have enjoyed the experience.”

“I did,” Trucy promised. “Until the murder, anyway.”

“Ja,” Kristoph conceded. “That was… unfortunate.”

“Well,” Trucy said, “you can just make it up to us all with a private performance. Unless you have another concert planned, of course.”

“Nein, I’m afraid I do not.” Good thing, too. Kristoph wouldn’t know a real performance from a hole in his shoe.

“Good!” Trucy linked arms with him, grabbing Apollo’s wrist with her other hand. “Then I get you all to myself.”

Apollo rubbed his forehead. “Creepy, Truce.”

She stuck out her tongue. “Whatever. He knows I don’t mean it like that. Right, Klavier?”

Kristoph laughed. Klavier had never heard his brother laugh like that since… since he’d gone off to college, probably. “Alas, you are far too young for me. Otherwise, how could I object to being a beautiful fraulein’s willing slave?”

“I hate you both,” Apollo informed them, laughing and frowning at the same time, when Kristoph reached over to ruffle his hair.

The evidence bags full of fingerprint-saturated tape burned a hole in Klavier’s pockets.

***

They wound their way back to the Wright Anything Agency. (Was Wright ever going to rename it, now that he was a lawyer again?) The eponymous man had locked himself in his office, busy with a case, but Athena looked up from the front desk, waving when they came in.

“All set? Sorry I couldn’t help you guys out.”

Apollo flopped down on the couch. “Hey, somebody had to look after the office. You know, our actual job.”

She grinned. “Well, I’m passing that baton to you now. Trucy, we still on for that shopping spree?”

Trucy reached into her magician’s cape, pulling out her purse. “You bet we’re still on! Just let me go bother Daddy for a sec. So he knows where we’re going.”

She ran off, as Athena held her hand out to Klavier. “Prosecutor Gavin, it’s good to see you again.”

Kristoph took the proffered hand, kissing the back of it gallantly. “The pleasure is all mine, Fraulein Cykes.”

“Oh, knock it off!” The blush clashed with Athena’s flame-orange hair, but she seemed the opposite of displeased. “Better be careful around this guy, Apollo, or he’ll turn you into a playboy, just like him, and then you’ll be insufferable to work with.”

“Yeah, I think there’s no risk of that. The day I start acting like him, go check the basement for a pod.” At least he didn’t tell her to call an exorcist. That would have pinged way too high, on the irony meter.

“Will do!” Athena gave him a mock salute, gathering up the paperwork on her desk and stacking it neatly, pen on top. “Oh, and before I forget, Prosecutor Gavin, Junie told me to tell you she’s looking forward to spending more time with Vongole, if you ever need a dog sitter, again.”

The smile Kristoph gave her was shockingly genuine. Say what you will about the man, he was nearly as fond of his dog as she was of him. “Convey my thanks to Fraulein Juniper, and tell her I may just take her up on that.”

“I didn’t know you and Junie stayed in touch,” Apollo said, after Athena and Trucy had gone.

Klavier snagged the pen from Athena’s desk, doodling a scattering of musical notes on a random sheet of paper. His hands had regained a modicum of movement, once again. Not enough to do anything drastic, but some.

“I was serious when I said she showed great promise, as a future judge.” Kristoph quieted for a moment. “I know I’m no replacement for Dr. Courte, but I figured I was better than nothing, ja?” That was a low blow - and, more chillingly, all too accurate. He was getting better at picking feelings and details out of Klavier’s mind. Before long, he’d be doing a better Klavier than Klavier himself, and when that happened… When that happened, what would even be left? Nothing but the remnants of a washed-up former star. Not even fit for a late-night VH-1 special.

Something about Apollo’s expression looked relieved. “So, it’s like that, huh? I thought it might be… You know…”

“Jealous, Herr Forehead?”

Apollo started. “Huh, what? No!”

“You needn’t worry. I wouldn’t dare steal her from you. Besides, a little birdie told me Fraulein Juniper is far more interested in a certain knight in shining red suit, than she could ever be in my humble self.”

Apollo continued to gape at him. Kristoph decided to put it plainly. “She’s enamoured with you, Forehead.”

“Oh,” Apollo said. “Damn.”

“That’s not the reaction I was expecting.”

“I feel like an asshole now.”

“You are impossibly oblivious.”

Apollo thumped his head against the back of the couch. “...How do you turn down someone that nice?”

Kristoph raised an eyebrow. “And more importantly, why would you want to?”

Apollo’s lips pressed together into a tight line. “Right, you would just keep leading her on. Of course.”

“You really think so little of me?” Kristoph’s words echoed Klavier’s own thoughts.

Apollo grumbled something incomprehensible. “I wish I felt the same way about her. It would have made my life so much easier. So. Much.”

“So, there’s someone else, then, is there?”

“Because that’s any of your business.”

“Call it friendly concern,” Kristoph said. “You do consider me a friend, don’t you?”

“If you’ve gotta ask…”

Klavier felt his face smiling. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’”

Apollo raked both his hands through his hair, leaving it messy and beautiful. There was something soft about it, unguarded. So unlike the usual slicked-back helmet or rigid spikes. He remembered the way it had looked, after a restless night on that couch, and felt his breath catch, somewhere above his heart.

“You look… I was going to say ‘better,’” Apollo said. “But I don’t know. You seem different, and I can’t tell, either way. How’re you doing?” he asked, echoing himself, back at the prison, half a lifetime ago. His eyes never left Klavier’s face, searching for signs of emotions, serious and intent.

“I still don’t know,” Kristoph said. “Would you fault me for saying that?”

Apollo looked away. “Nah. I’m not that much of a bastard.”

“I thank you for your concern. Have I thanked you, before? I certainly owe you that much.”

“You don’t owe me shit,” Apollo replied. “Like you said, we’re.” He shook his head. “We’re friends.”

“Herr Forehead?” Kristoph shifted his position, leaning closer to the younger man. “There’s something you’re not telling me, yourself.” His taller form blocked the setting glare of the sun coming in through the window. “What’s wrong?”

Apollo’s eyes squeezed shut. “Klavier, seriously. Now is not the time.”

“When better?” Kristoph countered.

Never sounds like a plan.”

“Really? Whatever it is can’t be that bad.”

“And if you keep pushing, I’m gonna punch you in the face.” Klavier almost wished he would, even if it would be his face taking the hit.

“It’s not bad,” Apollo said, after a moment. “It’s just. Timing. And everything. Everything’s just wrong, for it.”

“Tell me anyway?”

Up close, Klavier could see Apollo’s eyes light up with frustrated anger, mixed with some other, less-definable emotion. Neither he nor Kristoph got the chance to react, before Apollo’s hands seized his shoulders, mouth pressing against his, hot, clumsy and desperate.

For the space of two heartbeats, Klavier revelled helplessly in that kiss, eyes sliding shut. If things had been different, this would have been everything he’d ever wanted.

Oh, Apollo. Your sense of timing is even worse than you think it is.

In the back of his mind, he felt Kristoph recover from his shock. Felt the beginnings of a smirk. A boy in love is so much more… amenable.

Klavier shoved against Apollo’s chest, pushing him away, biting back the flare of guilt at the pain on the younger man’s face.

I said you don’t get to touch him, Kris.

Oh? Because he belongs to you, of course?

Hell no! But he deserves better than you.

Mine to do with as I please. Mine to praise and use, spoil, guide and destroy. The sense of it rose up, unbidden, plundered from Kristoph’s mind, just like Kristoph had stolen his own memories.

He deserves better than your lies and your manipulation.

Now, isn’t that Apollo’s right to decide?

He doesn’t know who I am right now. He doesn’t know you’re here, or who, exactly, he’s kissing.

If he wanted someone else, Klavier thought, if he loved someone else, that’d be fine. But I’ll be damned if you get to take the real choice of it away from him.

Even if it was me he wanted?

It’s not.

Apollo got back up off the ground, straightening his vest. “So there you fucking have it. Happy now?”

Immediately, Kristoph tried to backpedal. “My apologies, I… I was startled.”

“Yeah, try that again, once more with feeling. You knew exactly what you were doing. How about you be a man and fucking own it?”

No way to cover for it anymore. This time, Klavier was the smug one, even as the realization that Apollo would probably never speak to him again, out of court, settled in for the long haul.

Of course. Kristoph’s voice sounded cold. You can’t have him, so no one can. Klavier refused to dignify that with a response.

“Something’s really is wrong with you,” Apollo said abruptly. “I saw the look on your face, before you pushed me away. You looked fucking terrified. You looked scared of me, what the fuck? Klavier, please…”

For you, not of you. It makes all the difference, mein schatz.

Kristoph pinched the bridge of his nose. “Justice, please, stop shouting. You’re giving me a headache.”

“The hell I will!” Kristoph’s slip did not go unnoticed, and Apollo rounded on him, arms crossed over his chest.

Klavier heard a door open, and Phoenix stepped outside of his office. “Hey, you two. Quit it with the lovers’ spats. Some of us are trying to get some work done. And by ‘some of us,’ I mean me.”

“You’re starting to sound like me, Mr. Wright.” Apollo’s anger seemed to diminish, contained in a tighter shell.

“Never let it be said that the teacher cannot learn from the student. Or something like that. Wanna tell me what’s up, or can I go back to my case?”

“It’s my fault, I’m afraid,” Kristoph noted. “I’ve been…” He shook his head. “Boorish.”

“Right,” Phoenix said. “So it’s Tuesday.”

“Hey!”

A shrug, as the senior attorney bent down to peek at Klavier’s doodles. “Huh. Didn’t know you were such a fan of the Beatles, Gavin.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.” Kristoph’s hackles went up, but it was already too late.

Phoenix hummed several bars, recalling the lyrics. “‘Help. I need somebody. Help. Not just anybody. He-e-elp.’ Quite the choice of song you’ve got there.”

“Well, it is a classic.”

Clever, Little Brother. Very clever.

Being able to remember pages and pages of musical notation, without needing to actively think of the words, had definitely come in handy. You couldn’t wait and file through your brain, when you were on stage. Your guitar strings needed to pick up the melody and go, before the rest of you even knew what you were doing.

Besides, Kris never did take his music seriously. He’d ignore the snatches of song flitting through Klavier’s brain, like so much white noise. Klavier had banked on that.

Phoenix’s gaze fixed on Klavier’s face, suspicious.

Kristoph sighed. “Sometimes, my subconscious is wiser than my conscious self. Herr Forehead tells me I should own up to it, and I admit, he’s right. I’ve been having a rough time, lately. I’ve tried to not show it, but…”

You’re not the only one capable of being clever, and no lie is quite as effective as the almost-truth.

“You should have just told me to begin with,” Apollo said. “Dumbass.”

“Ach, but I didn’t want to worry you.”

Apollo glared.

“...Didn’t want to monopolize you, or to make you feel like you might have to take care of me. If anything, I would have preferred to be there for you. It’s not as though I’m the only one who’s hurting.”

“I’m fine,” Apollo muttered.

“Are you?”

He sighed, rolled his eyes. “I will be. No thanks to you.”

“We both will be. But perhaps it’s better if we work at it, together.”

And so, all the children learn a Very Important Lesson and the curtain falls on a hug. Isn’t it heartwarming?

It’s not over yet. The thought reverberated eerily, belonging equally to both brothers. Everything to lose. Everything to gain. All suspended in one single moment, hanging in midair, stretched against the deadly blade of a knife.

It’s not over yet- And just like that, serendipity decided for them, with a knock on the door and a girl’s cheerful voice.

“Mr. Nick, hello? Are you home?”

The girl wore lavender. That was the first thing Klavier noticed, swiftly followed by the pretzel-like loops of her hair, and the halved ying-yang pendant hanging around her neck, complementing the one Wright sometimes wore.

A snippet of Kristoph’s memory. I’ve never seen him take it off. Not even… And cut off, before Klavier heard or saw any more.

The visitor was tiny and delicate, half-disappearing in Phoenix’s arms, when he hugged her. “Pearls, long time no see! Have you come to help me clean the office again?”

Pearls- probably a nickname for ‘Pearl’ - pouted and elbowed him in the side. “Mystic Maya told me to tell you I’m not your maid, Nick you slob. Um… that’s a direct quote.”

Phoenix laughed. “Okay, okay, no worries. It’s what I have junior partners for, at any rate. Sorry, Apollo.”

Apollo mumbled something about toilets, cleaning, and annoying bosses.

The girl turned toward Klavier. “Hello. Mr. Nick, who’s this? I don’t think we’ve been introduced. I’m-” She trailed off, one tiny hand curling tightly around her necklace.

“Oh! I didn’t realize you were another medium!” She bowed, low and formal. “My name is Pearl Fey. It’s a pleasure to make both of your acquaintances.”

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