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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.

He’d jumped out of a plane once, ostensibly for charity, but mostly for the high of it. Klavier remembered the way the wind had whistled in his ears as he entered freefall, buffeting his body in its mighty grasp. He’d felt so powerful and so small, all at once, the instructor’s voice muffled, but anchoring, still. His heart pounded the same way now, body caught in weightless flight. Alien constellations wheeled overhead before falling away.

He could have kept falling forever, but every journey had an endpoint. This one came to a stop with Trucy’s voice in his ear. “Prosecutor Gavin?”

Klavier opened his eyes. He was inside Kristoph’s law library once again, sprawled in the corner where two bookshelves met. The room smelled like musty paper and old leather bindings. He could feel age-worn book spines against the back of his neck.

His wrists felt cold, chilled enough to ache. He couldn’t help but think of that one scene in countless movies, where the man recently-freed from handcuffs goes to chafe his wrists. And sure enough, when Klavier tried to rub some warmth back into his extremities, his hand closed around a manacle, invisible but dishearteningly tangible. His arms had some room to maneuver, but when he attempted to get up off the ground, he found himself pulled up short. He tried - and failed - to stifle a frustrated groan.

Still trapped. Time to determine the extent of it. Klavier traced along a manacle, until his fingers found the start of a chain, and followed it back toward the books and the wall. I’d gripe at you for tying me up like a dog in here, only I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t do this to the actual dog. I’d call the ASPCA on you, if you tried.

“Prosecutor Gavin? Can you hear me?” Trucy, again.

Klavier nodded. “Ja. I can’t see you, though.”

“Of course not, silly. I’m still on the outside, with the others. I’ll be the conduit between you and your guide, and everyone else - at least until you leave the room you’re in right now.”

“Leave this room. Ja, I think I’d like to do that.” Klavier pulled on the chains. They clinked cinematically. “Can you see me, even if I can’t see you?”

“If I really, really concentrate.” He could hear Trucy drawing a breath. “It’s kind of cool.”

“So then you can see the predicament I’m in. I don’t suppose you’ve your sights set on a key as well?”

“No.” Trucy’s voice receded, for a moment. “Aunt Maya says the guide should be able to help you with that as well.”

Klavier looked around the room again, just for good measure. Watery light slanted in from a stained glass window near the ceiling. A stepladder leaned against a shelf on the opposite end of the room, way out of his reach.

Apollo had stood on that ladder, in the dream he had, the night after Kristoph’s execution. Was that important? It probably wasn’t, but Klavier made note of it anyway.

“What guide?” he asked. “There’s no one here but me.”

Klavier could appreciate a good bit of showmanship, and what happened next could only be ascribed to a man showing off. Rays of colored light refracted off the window, rushing toward him and reforming into the sweep of a crimson cloak.

“Alakazam!” There was a popping noise, like New Year’s noisemakers going off, and the man in the cloak bowed with a flourish, then straightened.

Klavier heard Trucy gasp, muffled by a hand over her mouth. “Daddy?

There was no mistaking the man, whether you remembered him as Zak Gramarye, Shadi Enigmar, or the unfortunate Shadi Smith. He looked younger than he had in death, but not by much.

“Well, what do you know,” he said. “Look what the cat dragged in.”

It didn’t take Klavier long to recover his voice. “Now, now, don’t sell yourself so short, Herr Enigmar.”

“Who says I was selling myself short. I was talking about you, Prosecutor.”

Klavier laughed. “I’m just a man doing my job. No more and no less in your case than in any other.”

Enigmar peered into his face. “Heh. I heard you got less cocky with age, kid.”

“I heard you didn’t.”

“And look where that’s got me. Dead as Scrooge’s Marley.”

“Does this mean you’re about to tell me I’ll be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, posthaste? But I’m already full of Christmas spirit, Herr Enigmar.”

The man rolled his eyes. “Christmas spirits, maybe. But hey, can’t blame you. That’s what I’d be doing, if I were still alive.”

“We could all use a drink, right now,” Klavier admitted.

“Even me?” Trucy chimed in.

“No!” Klavier and Enigmar spoke up, in one voice.

“Whoa,” she said. “That was spooky.”

“Sorry, pumpkin,” Enigmar said.

Klavier raised an eyebrow. “Forgive me for butting into family affairs, but I think you owe your daughter the more meaningful sort of apology.”

“Klavier…” Trucy sounded uncertain. “It’s okay. I…”

“No,” Enigmar said. “He’s right. I am sorry. Never got the chance to say so, did I?”

“But you would have!” Trucy forced an upbeat cadence into her voice. “Once you talked to Daddy, you would have tried to contact me. If Mr. Gavin hadn’t killed you.”

Enigmar looked down. “No, pumpkin. I probably wouldn’t have risked it.”

Something told Klavier Trucy had figured as much, but it never hurt to be optimistic.

“You were better off where you were, with Wright, and I was a wanted man. More wanted, after I wrote that note to get the fuzz off of Valant’s back.”

Trucy was quiet. “It doesn’t matter now, anyway. I forgive you, and you’re here to help Klavier, not me.”

“Not sure how much it helps, but I’ve been keeping my eye on you as best I can. It’s easier, when you’re dead. You’re getting to be quite the magician. That invisibility trick you pulled, with your redheaded friend - that was pure Magnifi!”

“Grandfather?” There was something brittle, in Trucy’s cheer. She hadn’t quite managed to pull it off, but her father remained oblivious.

“Old codger would have been proud. He wouldn’t have said so, mind. Found the smallest flaws to pick on, in your act. But he would have been proud, all the same.”

Trucy’s laugh was only a little strained. “That’s what Uncle Valant says, too.”

“So Valant’s still around when you need him? Good man, good man.”

“The chains, Herr Enigmar,” Klavier reminded him. “Do you happen to have a key?”

Enigmar flourished his cape over his arm again. “Let’s see… Nothing up my sleeve, nothing in my pockets…”

“Have you tried your hat?” Klavier suggested.

The man ducked down. “Lift it and see.”

Klavier half expected to see Mr. Hat pop up, the way he did when Trucy ran this sort of act. He averted his eyes from Enigmar’s bald pate. He could still see blood crusting on it, in a stomach-lurching sort of double vision. Instead, he focused on the hat itself, running his fingers along the silk lining. “Aha, there it is!” One of his rings snagged on what must have been a hidden compartment.

He reached inside, and pulled out a deck of cards. Taking them out of the box didn’t prove any more keyful. If this was, in fact, the inside of Klavier’s mind, he had a sinking feeling it was playing some kind of trick on him. “I’m really not in the mood for puzzles,” he said, to no one in particular, half expecting Kristoph to reply.

“I don’t suppose you’re up for a Five-Card Draw?” Enigmar kept searching through his pockets, still unable to unearth anything relevant, as far as Klavier could tell.

Klavier was not, in fact, in the mood for poker. Then again, it wasn’t like he had anything better to do, without getting free.

“Trucy, what does your aunt say?”

“She says it’s your psyche.” Klavier could practically hear Trucy shrug.

Well, he’d never been the sort to turn down a challenge. “Fine,” he said. “Deal me in. Just bear in mind, I don’t have much of a poker face.”

“That’s all right, kid,” Enigmar replied, running the cards from one hand to the next in a flurry shuffle. “That might just be a sign of an honest man. Heh. Maybe if you’d gone on to become a defense attorney, I’d have hired you, and then I’d be still alive.”

Klavier winced. “I appreciate the sentiment, but there was never a chance of that happening.”

“Didn’t want to follow in his footsteps, huh?” Enigmar mused.

“Who does?”

“Lots of people.”

“I’d rather carve my own path,” Klavier said. “Follow too many other people, and the next thing you know, you’re just mouthing their words, and you don’t even know who you are anymore.”

“So you went off to find yourself.”

Klavier grinned. “Ja, and on the way, I found Ruth, Gladys, Rosemary and Irving. Would you care to deal, Herr Enigmar?”

Enigmar was a lightning-fast dealer. Klavier picked up his cards, and frowned. “Are you certain this is a poker deck?” The first card featured an enthroned man in red, scepter and orb in hand. The second, a woman in silvery-blue robes, holding a scroll. The third was a naked girl, half-submerged in a river, pouring two jugs back into the water, under the light of an eight-pointed star.

The last two cards didn’t have human subjects as their focus. An eight-spoke wheel, suspended in a cloudy sky, spun by a sphynx, a snake and a dog-headed man. And then, there was the moon, a woman’s profile barely visible in its face, dimly lighting the shore of a lake, with a scorpion climbing out of the water and onto a path guarded by two dogs.

From left to right, his cards were labeled ‘The Emperor,’ ‘The High Priestess,’ ‘The Star,’ ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ and ‘The Moon.’

“Tarot, eh?” Enigmar frowned. “How’d that get in there?”

“Don’t ask me.” Klavier shrugged. “What about your own cards?”

Enigmar turned them out. “Blank. Says a lot about my future, doesn’t it?”

“Do you know what any of this means?” Klavier wasn’t sure where he stood, on the idea of fortune telling, but he could be flexible, if need be.

Enigmar kept scowling at the cards. “Thalassa knew more about these than I did. Her old man never placed any stock in them, so I never learned.”

He pulled an old-fashioned monocle out of the same hat compartment the cards had come from, and examined each of Klavier’s cards in detail, finally singling out the Emperor. “Quite a fellow, isn’t he? I like the looks of him. We men in red gotta stick together, don’t we?”

Klavier rubbed his head. “Maybe he’s supposed to be you.” He’d intended the suggestion sarcastically.

Enigmar perked up with that, going over the card in yet more detail. “Hold on a second… Does that look like a key, to you?”

Klavier supposed the handle of the scepter looked vaguely key-like. If he squinted. He was starting to wonder whether he could give himself super strength and just break the damned chains. His brain, his rules. If only…

“Pay attention, kid,” Enigmar said. “You’re about to see my best trick yet.” And with that, he reached inside the card, his whole hand shrinking and disappearing. Klavier saw his diminished fingers grasp the scepter and pull, and in a flash, there was Enigmar, holding a small silver key. “Am I good, or am I good?”

“You’re very good,” Klavier had to concede. “And I’m very grateful.”

“Save your thanks till we see whether this works,” Enigmar said. “Here, feel free to do the honors yourself. I can’t see those damn shackles of yours.” Not like Klavier could, either, but he took the key anyway, felt around until he found a keyhole, and slid it inside.

One turn, then two, and the manacles fell aside, suddenly visible. The air around Klavier shimmered, and he saw thinner chains reaching up from his body and toward the ceiling. They stretched across his arms and shoulders, his knee joints, the swivel point of his waist. One even wrapped ominously around his neck.

Just like puppet strings, Klavier thought, and felt a shiver run through him. At least they didn’t seem to impede his movement any, shifting through the solid mass of the ceiling, as he rose and stepped forward.

“If I don’t miss my guess,” Enigmar said, “that key should help you jostle any lock you encounter from here on in.”

“Think there’ll be many more?”

“Probably. Look, Gavin, I’m just a guide. I know some stuff, cause I’m dead, and cause I’ve got a medium’s ritual filing it all into my incorporeal head - which is creepy as fuck, when you get right down to it. But if you want a map of what’s gonna happen to you, once you’re out of the stacks here, you’ve come to the wrong man.”

Klavier had a funny feeling those cards were his one and only clue, if only he could have interpreted them. As clues went, that flat-out sucked.

“No spoilers for me. I’ve got it.” He stretched, rubbed his wrists for form’s sake, and started toward the door. In the real world, it would lead him back to Kristoph’s front office. “Well, it looks like this is where we part ways, Herr Enigmar. Again, my thanks for your help.”

Enigmar folded his arms over his chest, blocking the way to the door. “Not so fast, Gavin Jr. I did you a favor, now you do one for me- And don’t say you’ll get to it later. Can’t kick around forever, when you’ve kicked the bucket. You owe me for this. You owe me for your brother, too.”

Figured, that he’d wind up paying for Kristoph’s sins. Klavier couldn’t even bring himself to feel bitter about it. He’d already resigned himself to that being the case. “How may I help you, Herr Enigmar?” The polite words did little to hide the snippiness in his voice. Then again, Enigmar had ambushed him with the ‘request.’

“I want to know why I died,” Enigmar said.

Klavier spread his arms. “I have a bit more insight into my brother’s mind, after the last week or so, but on that subject, I know no more than you do, or at least no more than was revealed at Fraulein Misham’s trial.”

Enigmar smirked. “You know, Gavin, I had this teacher once, back in middle school. Thought she was the smuggest bitch I’d ever be taught by, till old Gramarye took me on. You know what she’d tell me, every time I asked her a question she didn’t feel like answering? She told me ‘look it up.’”

Klavier glared at him.

“You’re in a library, Gavin. Think some of your brother’s bullshit isn’t on file here, along with your own?” He gave the stepladder a kick. “Find a book. Look it up.”

“I’m starting to think he killed you because you annoyed Der Holle out of him,” Klavier deadpanned. “Fraulein Trucy, I regret to inform you that your biological father is a deeply irritating man.”

“Seriously, Dad!” Trucy chimed in. “No offense. I tell Daddy that all the time, too. You really are being difficult, though, sheesh!”

“I gotta know, pumpkin,” At least Enigmar had the grace to look abashed at being chastised by his daughter.

“Fine.” Trucy sighed. “Aunt Maya told me to tell you, just look it up, like he says. She said it might be good for you to know, too, if you’re going to fight Mr. Gavin.”

Klavier scanned the shelves. There were an awful lot of them. Row after row of books, with no pattern to their order, that he could tell. Not alphabetical, certainly. Where do I even start?

His eyes fell on the stepladder. Might as well start where Apollo had.

Klavier could see one of the books sticking out slightly, as he reached the top. He grabbed it, flipping through it, and a loose page fluttered out. He nearly lost his balance trying to catch it. At least all those dance routines atop mechanical pyramids came in handy now.

He looked at the offending looseleaf, and froze. It was a page ripped out of a diary, written and signed by Magnifi Gramarye. The fateful page, which had gotten Wright disbarred, all those years ago. It clung to his fingers, dry and sticky with age, and as his eyes took in the faded words, his conscious mind stepped sideways, into another place and time.


Upstairs, the piano jangled, making him grit his teeth in irritation. “Zholtiye tyulpany who-oo-oooah. Pomnyat tvoyi ruki. Pomnyat tvoyi gubi… Strogiye tsveti. Strogiye tsveti.” The lounge singer’s voice was ever-so-slightly nasal. It would drive Klavier insane, he thought, with a smirk.

God, he couldn’t wait to get out of this place. Just like Wright, to pick a goddamn mafiya garbage dump. At least he wouldn’t have to come back for another week. He could see the man elsewhere. Suggest a restaurant, perhaps, and if he paid, well, then Wright would remain indebted to him, now wouldn’t he?

He’d never get the smell of borscht out of his suit.

He was halfway out the door, when he saw the man in white approach his companion. Something about him seemed hauntingly familiar, making Kristoph turn around and look closer.

No! It can’t be!

Shadi Enigmar. The sight of the man made Kristoph’s blood boil in his veins. You ruined everything, and now you’re back. You arrogant son of a bitch.

Memories of Wright’s voice, droning in his ears, tourist drivel about speakeasies and secret passageways. He knew how to reach the poker room, where Wright had taken Enigmar, unseen.

He watched the two men chat like old friends, through the slit in the wall. Watched Enigmar hand over documents, sign the admission of his own guilt. I could have cleared you, Kristoph thought. Only an amateur like Wright would be stopped by you having offed the old geezer. But Enigmar had lost his chance. No one would save him now. For a moment, Kristoph entertained the fantasy of simply calling the police. Letting them catch Enigmar, confession in hand, and watching him swing. No. The bastard has proven too slippery by half, for that.

He watched as the cheerful game of cards between old friends turned sour. What, you expected Wright not to cheat?

The thunk of the bottle echoed, as Enigmar struck the waitress-cum-conwoman, when she failed to assure his victory. I suppose treating those you employ with any sort of class would have been too much to expect of you. Never trust a man who’s rude to the waiter, as the old saying goes.

By the time Wright rushed out to call the police, Kristoph’s mind had long since been made up. What, you think you’ll take out Wright, next, then disappear into the night once more? The wall of the passageway opened up in front of him. Enigmar didn’t have the chance to react, as Kristoph retrieved the man's own makeshift weapon and applied it to his forehead.

One word of advice, ‘Mr. Smith.’ Learn not to mess with what’s mine.


The memory ended. Back at the library, Klavier put down the diary page, shaking his head to clear it. “Did you see all of that, too?”

Enigmar nodded, fists clenched. “What a character,” he said, in a way that sounded more foul than several strings of profanity.

“I won’t argue with you on that count.” Whom had Kristoph been referring to, when he said, ‘mine,’ just the way he had with Apollo? Could it have been Wright?

“So, I ‘ruined everything,’ huh? Melodramatic sack of shit. All I did was fire him.” Was that really the whole of Kristoph’s reasons? Klavier knew his brother was selfish and cruel, but was he really so petty? Was he really so careless as to risk his own freedom and livelihood over an almost decade-old slight?

What was so important about that one verdammt trial?

“That clears up nothing!” Klavier’s fist slammed into the wall behind him, making the bookshelves shudder and groan.

“Hah! I say I’ve seen enough,” Enigmar spat out. “Kick his ass kid, and let him burn in hell. That’s all I care about, now.”

Klavier looked over the bookshelves once again. If only he had the time, he could learn so much, here. Could learn, perhaps, not only what thoughts lay beneath Kristoph’s icy facade, but what emotions fueled those thoughts. Not just what, not just how, but why.

If only there had been time, in some other situation, without everyone counting on him, and (let’s not forget) his own life on the line.

“Did you see it all too?” he asked Trucy, before turning away from the books. There was no reply, but Klavier suspected the answer was ‘yes.’

This is the song that plays at the Borscht Bowl. Such a blast from my childhood! I nearly expired from nostalgia and secondhand embarrassment, in equal measure, while watching the video.


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October 2016


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