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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.


Klavier’s world fragmented for a while, after that.

Rough pavement beneath his back. The sleeve of a white shirt, familiar bracelet. Apollo.

“Trucy, call 9-11, now!” interrupted by “Damn it, Wright, I’m fine,” only something wasn’t right, and Klavier couldn’t tell how he knew that, until he identified the smell of blood.

The sound of sirens. Strangers’ voices. “Through and through, blood loss dangerous but not-”

***

Early morning light, making him squint, even with his eyes still closed. His body felt heavy, held immobile, like it was clamped down in some kind of vise, though he couldn’t sense any real restraints. His chest hurt, under a line of bandages. His mouth was dry, eyes glued together, when he tried to open them. His head pounded.

The texture of an unfamiliar couch beneath his back. Something rough and scratchy tied around both his wrists, too wide to be a pair of hospital bracelets.

The slam of a door. “Daddy? How is he?”

Wright’s voice, defeated. “Wish I could tell you.”

“What do the doctors say?”

“Like they’ve got time for me. Which, okay. I’d rather they focus on the guy who’s, you know, been shot. And he just…” Wright’s voice caught. “He just kept telling me he was fine, ordering me to go home and do what I had to do, even as they took him in for surgery.”

“He was still awake?” An unfamiliar woman’s voice, shaky and full of hope.

A pause in the conversation, where Wright must have nodded. “Never passed out at all. That’s good, right?”

“How stoic of him,” the woman said. “Downright British.”

Another silence. “If he said he was fine one more time, I swear to God I was going to punch him, Maya. And then, his doctor would punch me. And then, I’d probably punch myself. He’s not- he wasn’t fine. You’d think we’d been through enough he wouldn’t lie to me.”

The woman sighed. “Hey, Nick? Remember Dusky Bridge?”

“Yeah? What about it?”

“Remember what you told him, back then?”

Wright let out a strangled noise of frustration, as Klavier’s consciousness began to fade, again.

***

“I don’t get it,” Wright’s voice said. The shadows over Klavier’s eyes had lengthened. “A standard exorcism should have worked.”

Maya sighed. “Looks like we’ve got one persistent poltergeist on our hands.”

“Great. Of course he’d be some kind of powerful weirdo ghost.”

“The consanguinity doesn’t help, either. Plus your friend isn’t a trained medium, so he’s not exactly helping us fight him.”

“He was fighting, before…” Apollo’s voice, breaking through the pall.

“Still,” the woman said. “It’s possible that some part of him is still clinging to the guy. An older brother’s hard to let go of. If it was Sis…”

“Yeah, except Mia wasn’t psycho.”

“It doesn’t matter, Nick! Family’s still family, and that complicates everything.”

“Okay, fine. Explain to me again why he didn’t change form, though. You and Pearls always do.”

“That’s because we’re mediums,” the woman said. “Most of the times we are ‘possessed,’ it’s with our consent. And in Dahlia’s case, looking like Iris instead of me made it easier for her. But a powerful enough ghost, who’s taken charge, they can choose whether or not to transform.”

“Ugh. This is just a month for all the bad memories, isn’t it?”

“Could be worse,” the woman replied, almost cheerfully, and Wright laughed.

“Couldn’t it always?”

***

A paper band had been pasted over his mouth, leaving him mute. That, more than anything, sent a jolt of panic through Klavier’s body. What was left, if you couldn’t even talk?

The girl in lavender - Pearl - sat on the couch next to him, running a damp rag over his face. His eyes began to unglue, and the pounding headache receded, till he could make out the expression on Pearl’s face, glum, but determined.

“Mystic Maya, what are we going to do?”

The woman she addressed paced the room. “We’ll have to come up with a whole new ritual, Pearly. No way we can just leave the poor guy like this.”

“Of course not!”

Klavier made a crackling sort of sound, and both women’s faces turned toward him immediately.

“Oh, good, you’re awake!”

“It’s going to be okay, Mr. Klavier,” Pearl said, very earnestly. “We’ve run into some problems, but there’s nothing the Master of Kurain can’t deal with.”

“Yeeesh, Pearly, way to talk me up…” The medium blushed. She looked a few years older than Klavier, slim and pretty in some kind of purple robes, with her hair twisted into an elaborate topknot. “Maya Fey. Pleased to meetcha!” She reached over to squeeze one of his limp hands. “You can flirt with me later - I’ve heard stories about you, you Casanova. In fact, you had better flirt with me later, as a thank you for all my hard work.”

Klavier would have smiled at that, but the paper strip made it hard.

“You must be wondering what these are.” Maya fingered the scratchy bands around his wrists, then the one over his mouth.

“You were in the audience for the Tenma trial, were you not?” Blackquill’s voice chimed in. “In that case, wards such as these would be familiar to you. They are called ofuda, and they are all that’s keeping the miscreant inside you contained, for the moment.” Klavier remembered something about Shinto and spirits, but not much beyond that. He’d have to take their word for it.

Blackquill had discarded his habitual overcoat for something short-sleeved. It looked strange on him, almost costume-like in its normality. He met Wright’s gaze obstinately, then made his exit as swiftly as he’d appeared, leaving behind an awkward silence.

“He’s blaming himself,” Athena said, her own eyes downcast, heartbreakingly honest. “When it’s my fault, again… If I had acted faster. If I hadn’t startled Gavin into shooting…”

Pearl got up to take her hand. “It’s not your fault, or Mr. Simon’s, either. Mr. Nick, tell them it’s not!”

“Of course not.” Phoenix’s words sounded more like weary rote than anything else, genuine enough to satisfy, but only barely.

You’re not saying it, Klavier thought, and I can’t say it. But we both know with whom the fault lies.

“Well, good luck to all of us, convincing Simon,” Athena said glumly.

“Prosecutors.” Phoenix rolled his eyes. “They’re all mischievous aliens, as far as I’m concerned.”

Klavier wasn’t sure whether he wanted to voice his protest, or ruefully agree. He settled for an incoherent mumble.

“Present company not excluded, Gavin. I’ve heard Apollo bitch about your music way too much, for that.”

It was such a perfect opening, quip and culpability both, that Klavier expected his brother to pipe up with something scathing. Even if he’d been asleep, he would have woken by now. Klavier looked inward, trying to sense the now-familiar presence, but all that got him was a headache reborn.

Is he gone?

But if Kristoph had, in fact, been exorcised, why was he still being held prisoner, like this? A brief surge of irrational paranoia washed over him in a miasma of conspiracy theories. Right. These people are totally just holding the rock star hostage, for their personal reboot of Misery. Especially Apollo. More insidious was the possibility that they might not trust him walking free, Kristoph or no.

Something spiky and malevolent tugged at him, catching his attention at last. Nein. Kristoph’s presence may have been faraway and semi-dormant, but make no mistake, he was still there.

It’s not over yet. Layer upon layer of irony, in that one little phrase.

A part of Klavier wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, at the revelation. Gott, he was tired. Tired of what? Sitting on your ass and doing nothing?

Maya clearing her throat brought his attention back to the present. “Okay, guys, getting back on topic. Whole new ritual, and I think what we want is something that will let Klavier himself do most of the fighting.”

“Because you’re a lazy bum?” Wright contributed.

Maya whapped him. “Yeah, sure, Nick. Let’s go with that. But seriously, there’s only so much outside forces can do, if the ghost is really stubborn. If Klavier here was a medium, with all the training, that’d be super great for us. But he’s not. See, the problem is, ghosts kind of learn instinctually everything a medium spends all those years learning. Like cheating assholes. Though I guess if you have to die for it…” She shrugged. “And it’s tough, fighting a ghost from the inside, if you’re fighting on the conscious level of the mind. The conscious mind fights the very concept of the mystical, and the mystical’s gotta be your friend, if you’re gonna stand a chance.”

“So what if he was fighting from an unconscious level?” Athena suggested. “Lucid dreams, perhaps. Not that I know much about this, but…”

Maya waved her hand. “That’s not a bad idea, actually. Keep going!”

“Well…” Athena rubbed the gizmo around her neck, as though for good luck. “There was this exercise I learned about, in one of my psychology courses. The client is asked to visualize their emotions and experiences as a series of rooms, where the setting and items symbolize what’s relevant. Then, you take the client on a walk through those rooms. They can ‘interact’ with the ‘concrete’ items in a way that’s impossible, with abstract concepts. We don’t normally ask them to change anything drastically, but they can reach an understanding, through the changed paradigm. And if they do want to put a bad habit in a drawer and lock it away, sometimes it can serve as a handy, emotionally-charged mnemonic.”

Maya was nodding along. “And hey, a concrete Kristoph, standing in front of him, would be easier to punch the hell out of than a voice inside his head.”

“Right!”

“Do you guys use hypnosis for it?”

“We can,” Athena said. “But we don’t always have to. Might not be a bad idea here, though.”

Maya fussed with the braiding in her topknot. “I’m not bad at guided dreaming, but Pearly’s better.”

Pearl clasped her hands in front of her. “I’ll do my best, then.”

***

The Feys adjourned to a different room, taking some of the others with them. War council, for a battle plan unlikely to survive first contact with the enemy.

The couch shifted next to him, as Apollo sat down. “Hey.”

Hey yourself, Klavier thought.

“I guess you can’t really reply, right now. I just wanted to. I don’t know. Check in. It’s gotta be frustrating as hell, having people talking around you. Like you’re not even there, even though you’re the topic of the conversation.”

I don’t know, Klavier thought, I’m enough of an attention hog, I kind of like the idea of overhearing everyone talking about me. That’s a joke, Herr Forehead. But only mostly.

“God.” Apollo sighed. “I was about to ask if you were okay, again. I swear, I’m turning into a broken record. If I do it one more time, I’m getting one of those rubber bands around my wrist. Give it a snap, every time the words pop up.”

He folded his arms behind his head. “I just wish you could say something right now. Tell me you’re really in there. That you’re aware of what we’re about to do, and you’re okay with it. Doesn’t feel right, not asking you, even if it’s an emergency.”

Honestly, Klavier hadn’t given that part much thought. State of emergency was state of emergency, and besides, it wasn’t like he knew the first thing about ghosts, or magic. Tragically unequipped for dealing with his predicament, it made more sense for him to leave it to the experts.

“One more thing,” Apollo said. “I just wanted you to know I’m not dumb. Once I knew about Kristoph, I realized why you’d pushed me away, back there. So if you even start apologizing for it, after you’re free, I swear I’m gonna kick your ass.”

Klavier mumbled at him, in what he hoped was a reassuring tone.

“Ass. Kicking. Got it?” One corner of Apollo’s mouth quirked up, in an attempted smile. Only thing you gotta say about it is ‘you’re welcome.’ As for the rest of it, we can deal with that later, when there’s actual time.” He reached out, tucking a stray lock of Klavier’s hair back into his queue. “Until then, we’ve got your back.”

Klavier turned his head slightly, leaning into his touch.

“Ms. Fey says we’re gonna need people you’re close to, for the ritual.” Apollo frowned. “I wonder who counts for that. I can make some guesses, but I’m not you. Does Ema count? I still can’t tell.”

I’d like her to be there, Klavier thought. She’s important to me. Whether it’s returned, no way of knowing.

“I probably count,” Apollo mused. “I guess… I mean, I barely saw you, for a year, but… I don’t even know. Me, and Trucy. Prosecutor Blackquill, since he’s your colleague. Mr. Wright says he’ll be there. Ema. Right, Athena said you and Junie were friends. Am I on the right track?”

Not enough leeway, for Klavier to nod properly. He could blink his assent, he supposed.

“You know what?” Apollo said, his speech gathering forcefulness and momentum. “We need your input for this. So it’s worth it. It’s gotta be.” He pinched the edge of the ward plastered across Klavier’s mouth between his index and pointer fingers, peeling it off.

It was like a wave of color and noise, rushing back into Klavier’s mind. The world had been so subdued, lying dormant around him, and he hadn’t even noticed, till the veil was gone.

“I’d get you some water,” Apollo said, but you’re not supposed to eat or drink anything till the ritual is over.”

Klavier swallowed, ran his tongue over his chapped lips. “So it’s like a surgery, ja?” Bad joke, he realized, as the words left his mouth. Not with Herr Edgeworth in the state he’s in. Damn it.

Apollo laughed nervously. “Something like that.”

“You count,” Klavier said. “It’s my fault, for falling out of touch, but you’ve counted since the Misham trial.” When had he become the sort of man who didn’t trust easily, didn’t let anyone in, if he could help it? At least if someone managed to sneak past his defenses, they were in for good.

“How about everyone else?”

“Herr Wright should be with his friend, right now. It’s not fair to him - to either of them.” He remembered the way Edgeworth had spoken of Wright, and felt his heart clench.

Apollo’s eyes clouded. “He’s still in the ICU. No one but family’s allowed in to see him.” His voice took on a bitter edge, when he said ‘family.’ “Prosecutor Von Karma’s flight will be landing shortly.” Klavier was out of it enough it took him a moment to parse that Apollo was referring to Franziska Von Karma, rather than her deceased and rather infamous father. Not like you could tell these days, anyway, what with all the paranormal activity.

“Fuck,” Klavier said eloquently.

“Yeah, seriously. Mr. Wright’s been in and out, and he’s got his phone on, just in case. Beyond that…”

“I am so sorry.”

Apollo didn’t tell him to stop apologizing.

“What happened, back there?” he asked. “Herr Edgeworth wasn’t even supposed to be…”

“He was there,” Apollo said. “Trucy kept a bunch of us hidden - she’s been working on her transfer and invisibility illusions. Don’t ask me how it works. Gramarye stuff.

“He was standing closer to Mr. Wright than the rest of us, except for Simon. So when Kristoph fired, he pushed Mr. Wright out of the way, and then Simon got the gun away from him.”

And then, we all felt like shit, aside from the man directly responsible, Klavier thought bitterly.

Something snarled inside Klavier’s mind. I almost had him!

Klavier’s eyes went wide. “Apollo, he’s here! Get the ward back where it belongs, STAT!”

Do you think for a moment he’ll be on your side? Wright’s just as vindictive as any other man, and you have a lot to answer for, when it comes to him.

Apollo nearly fumbled the piece of paper in question, hollering, “Ms. Fey!”

“I’m sorry,” Klavier choked out, while he still had possession of his vocal cords.

Apollo’s hand clapped over his mouth. “No apologies. Got it?”

The older Ms. Fey was the first to rush into the room, surveying the scene with a gimlet eye. “What’d you do, brat?”

“Something kind of stupid.” Apollo looked down at his feet.

It’s a fine fix we’ve got ourselves into, but don’t think for a moment you can actually defeat me, Little Brother. I’ve already stood against the best modern magic has to offer. They can’t keep you bound like this forever, and when the wards are gone...

“Right.” Maya Fey whipped another ofuda out of her pocket, and Klavier saw a shimmery haze gather itself around her body. Her lips moved, forming strange syllables. The words were meaningless, to Klavier, but they gathered the energy, concentrating it into the piece of paper, till it glowed like a streetlamp in the dark.

I can see magic, Klavier realized. How can I do that? Had he been capable of it all along? Perhaps he’d simply never come in contact with anything like it, before. The Gavins were old European blood; no telling what sorts of talents ran dormant in his veins.

You’re getting full of yourself again, Kristoph told him. Far more likely, the presence of a supernatural creature, such as myself, is simply enhancing your inadequate senses.

Klavier snorted. Why do you always have to take the fun out of everything?

Isn’t that what older brothers are for? Kristoph replied with a laugh.

With a single flowing gesture, Maya plastered the ward over Klavier’s mouth again. It stuck, like a particularly adhesive strip of duct tape, and the world’s vibrance receded.

Kristoph?

There was no reply. It was entirely possible Kristoph was simply ignoring him, or trying to lull him into a false sense of security, but Klavier didn’t think so. His brother’s spirit was fully constrained within him, once more. Klavier’s body itself a prison, in which to house the criminal twice-condemned.

***

“We’ve got to do this quickly,” Maya said, pausing in her appraisal of a bored-looking Ema Skye. “The wards won’t hold him forever. Already, he’s been fighting them with everything he’s got. And, well…” She pitched her voice quieter, probably hoping Klavier wouldn’t overhear. “The way wards work is by blocking off spiritual energy. It’s more effective on ghosts, since they’re all spirit all the time, but it’s not exactly harmless to living humans, either.”

“So, Klavier-?”

“He’ll be okay,” Maya said, but she didn’t sound as certain as he could have.

“We could just tie him up normally,” Apollo suggested.

“I bet he’d like that.” A hint of mischief snuck into Maya’s voice. “But no. By doing that, we risk Kristoph jumping to someone else, or vacating the premises temporarily, so we can’t exorcise him at all, then coming back when we let our guard down.”

Ema reached for a Snackoo, only to have her hand batted away by the Master of Kurain. “I told you, no eating! We can all go out for burgers when this is all over.” Her own stomach growled. “I’m starving, too!

“Also, why are you a mystic black hole, Skye, geez? You’ve got all the magical energy God gave a pineapple.”

“Maybe it’s because I don’t believe in that junk,” Ema said petulantly, to Maya’s glare.

“Ah-ah. You call my job junk, I whack you, got it?”

Ema snorted. “Yeah, that’s what you said last time. Note how I remain unwhacked.” Klavier hadn’t realized they’d met before, but they sounded like vaguely belligerent old friends. Ema’s expression turned serious. “Okay, fine, whatever you say about my ‘magical powers,” she finger-quoted. “But I’m staying here.”

“They kick you out of the hospital?”

Ema glared. “There’s no news, the waiting room’s full of loud-ass kids, and one of the doctors hit on me. And did I mention the part where no one will tell me what’s happening or how he’s doing, till I’m ready to shoot someone myself? Detective Gumshoe said he’ll stick around over there. If I’ve got to be useless and annoyed, I might as well be useless and annoyed with you guys.”

Maya nodded. “That’s fine. Cykes, can I draw from you instead?” A thumbs-up from Athena. “Nick, I’m sorry but I’m gonna need you here 100% for at least a couple of hours.”

Phoenix looked up from where he was resting his head in his hands. “Dusky Bridge,” he said. “I got it.”

The doorbell rang, and Athena ran into the hall to let a frazzled-looking Junie inside. “That makes everyone,” she said, as her friend discarded her shoes. Nine people, all told, not counting Klavier himself. Ema looked up from her iPhone with a sigh. Still nothing new to report.

Junie knelt by Klavier’s couch. Klavier watched her compose herself, expression shifting resolute. The queen must don her armor and her crown, before she can assume the mantle of leadership. He knew the feeling well. Juniper Woods must have been formidable, as Themis’s student council president.

“I’ve fed and walked Vongole for you,” she whispered in Klavier’s ear. “Apollo took your keys out of your pocket. He said you wouldn’t mind. Apollo’s kitty and Mr. Edgeworth’s dog are set, too, so that everyone has one thing less to worry about.”

Taking care of the details. Life went on, no matter how much tension curdled the air, or how many degrees off-kilter his own world had spun. Someone would always have to walk the dog, do the dishes, buy filters for the Brita in the fridge. Subtle promises that there would be a tomorrow. He loved Junie a little, for that badly-needed reminder.

“Alright, everyone.” Maya lit some candles, along the perimeter of the room. “We’re going to be starting soon. Pearly, would you do the honors.”

Pearl placed her hands alongside Klavier’s face. “We’re going to make you dream now, Mr. Klavier. But you’ll still be able to hear some of us, even while you dream.”

Would it still feel like sleep, Klavier wondered. When this was over, he’d be more than happy to go back to his normal state of chronic insomnia. He’d welcome it with open arms and an overly-productive schedule.

It wasn’t like any of the other times he’d been knocked unconscious, neither forceful nor abrupt. He thought he heard the faint sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore, like a seashell held up to his ear. The indoor air smelled of forests and freshly-mown grass, and when he looked up at the ceiling, he thought he could see the stars.

The voices of those present inside the room grew dimmer and dimmer. Klavier strained to hear them, even though he knew it made more sense to let go.

“What happens now?” he heard Trucy ask.

Maya was facing away from him, her expression hidden from view. “Now, I call down the dead.”

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