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The Honorary Gavin

Chapter Text

“So, the killer had to be standing... uh... here?” said Apollo Justice, all too aware of the eyes of everyone in the courtroom upon him as he pointed to the diagram of the crime scene. There was a moment of concerned silence.

“Objection!” screeched Payne from across the room. “You get points for flair, but that's about all you get.” Apollo gulped, vaguely aware of his hair spikes trying to droop. Had he made a mistake somewhere? “I hardly need to point out that standing there would be impossible. The victim is facing a solid cupboard!” That would certainly be a mistake... “Or are you claiming the killer climbed the cupboard and hit him from above!” Payne let out a bark of laughter. Apollo felt his spikes droop a little harder.

“It's simple logic really,” said Mr Wright suddenly from beside him. Apollo whipped his head around. Mr Wright was perfectly composed, slight smile on his face, hands in his pockets: a far cry from what he'd supposedly been like in his courtroom days. “If this was the only place the killer could've been standing, then that means that, at the very moment of the crime...” Is that what he was aiming at...?

“Wait! I know! At the moment of the crime, the cupboard... wasn't there!” He swore he could physically feel Mr Gavin's glare.

“What's this now?!” exclaimed the judge.

“I mean, that's the only explanation!” said Mr Wright happily, eyes firmly on the man at the witness stand. “Right, Mr Gavin?”

Mr Gavin paused, frowning deeply towards the defence bench. At the back of his mind, Apollo wondered whether his hair spikes would ever truly be the same again. “If I may have a word with my subordinate,” Mr Gavin said coolly. Apollo swallowed nervously and nodded. “Justice, your reasoning for this utter tomfoolery is based around this bloodstained card, correct?” Nod. “And, since I was not privy to this particular piece of evidence, may I ask you clarify its origin?”

“It was presented by the defendant, Phoenix Wright. It was his daughter, I think, that handed it to me in the recess.” Beside him he caught Mr Wright nodding to back him up.

“And,” continued Mr Gavin, a cold smile returning to his face, “do you remember what Phoenix Wright was disbarred for?” Ah.

“You're not suggesting...” Why did the room feel that much smaller all of a sudden? “I mean, it was only alleged... right?”

“Oh, but that is exactly what I am suggesting, Justice.” Beside him, Mr Wright made to interject but before he could, “Though of course, if this card truly was at the scene of the crime, and the killer truly did miss it, and Wright truly did take it instead, then there is something that would mark it as legitimate: something that, with technology as it is, would be almost impossible to forge without suitable time and preparation.” He looked at Apollo expectantly.

“The blood, right?” he said, really wishing Mr Wright would look less uncomfortable than he was right now. “If it was... forged... then a blood test might show it's not from the victim!” Mr Gavin's smile warmed.

“That would certainly be the simplest way. Shall we hope we are so lucky?” His gaze flicked up towards the judge. “Your Honor?” The judge considered it for a moment.

“Sadly, considering the defendant's history, I have to agree. We will now take a ten minute recess while further tests are done on this new evidence.” The sound of the gavel echoed through the courtroom.



Apollo sat hunched up on the couch in the defendant's lobby, sifting through the court record for anything that could get him out of this. To think, he'd read through so many of the case files on the trials of Phoenix Wright; is this what the chaos was like for him too? Speaking of Phoenix Wright...

Apollo glanced up. His client was quietly gazing at the painting on the wall, occasionally scuffing his sandals on the floor. Mr Gavin had been confined to the witness lobby, and the girl who handed him the card may as well have vanished from the face of the earth. He sighed and retreated back to combing through the autopsy report; maybe there was something he'd missed.

“Would you believe me if I said it was a replica?” said Mr Wright suddenly, still staring at the painting. Apollo didn't bother looking up. After what felt like far too long, the door to the lobby swung open and the bailiff instructed them to get back to court.



His boss was already behind the defence bench by the time Apollo made it there. Not that that would give away the results of the test or anything... To confirm his suspicions, Prosecutor Payne had in his hand a written report, and was looking like the cat that got the cream... and probably a full steak dinner to go with it...

“It seems Mr Gavin's suspicions were well founded,” he announced. “The blood on the card is not in fact the victim's.” From the corner of his eye, Apollo saw his client wince in his seat. “Moreover, the expert assigned to the test took one look at it and said he'd never seen a more haphazard forgery in his life!”

“And just what did he mean by that?!” shouted Apollo indignantly before he could stop himself. Payne just laughed and shook his head.

“The way the blood spread indicated it had been dropped from a low height, certainly not falling from a man's head to a table.”

“Ah...”

“Your Honor, the prosecution demands the evidence be struck from the proceedings immediately!” The judge was nodding profusely. Not good, Justice. “And furthermore, the defence should be held in contempt of court for trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the-”

“Wait, what?!” Apollo shouted. Really not good, Justice! “But I even didn't know it was forged!” The judge held his gavel with both hands, fidgeting with its handle.

“That may be so, Mr Justice, but the defence must be held accountable for the evidence it presents.” He felt his stomach drop. Defending Phoenix Wright and he ended up like this? The world had a cruel sense of humour.

“I'm so sorry Your Honor! I swear, it won't happen again!”

Mr Gavin coughed, calmly. All eyes swivelled over to him. “I would like to apologise for the unseemly behaviour of my subordinate.”

“M-Mr Gavin?” His boss glared at him for a moment, then continued.

“I would also like to remind the court that today is Mr Justice's first trial; it appears I misjudged his capability in handling this case.” Not that he didn't have that coming, but ouch.

“Oh, Mr Gavin, are you taking responsibility for Mr Justice's actions?” asked the judge, eyebrows raised. Mr Gavin shook his head with a smile.

“I merely wish to remind those of the court that we were all young once, blinded by false trust in an idol.” Apollo looked over; his boss' face was still in a placid smile. The judge hummed lowly.

“I suppose we do all make mistakes,” he mumbled, still stroking his gavel. “Mr Justice?”

“Y-yes, Your Honor?”

“I trust you understand the gravity of your actions.”

“Yes, Your Honor. I... The defence swears to be more scrupulous about where it gets its evidence from.”

“And certainly not from ex-lawyers disbarred for forgery,” added Mr Gavin. Apollo couldn't quite tell whether that one was aimed at him or Mr Wright. Maybe it was both.

“Then,” continued the judge, eyes closed in thought, “a hefty penalty should be sufficient.” He stared down at the defence. “This will be recorded, Mr Justice, and should this be repeated, you will have to be disbarred.” Apollo nodded.

“I understand, Your Honor.” Right, time to get back in the game, Justice. “If I could just run a couple of things past the last witness..?”

“That would be Kristoph Gavin, correct?”

Mr Gavin's stare switched straight back to him. “What are you playing at, Justice?”

“I just wanted to check!” he squawked. “About the cards!” Mr Gavin's expression turned icy. “It just still seems a bit odd, the mistake you made!”

“Justice, as you should have figured out by now, I was aware of the poker games taking place behind the scenes at the Borscht Bowl. I have played there once myself; after all, I was a friend of the man in the centre of it.”

“'Was'?” Mr Gavin's eyebrows shot up. “Sorry, that was meant to be internal dialogue.”

“Good,” said Mr Gavin shortly. “I would hate to think you would expect attempting to implicate someone in a murder to have no impact upon a relationship.” Yeah, that one was definitely aimed straight at him. “If you would allow me to continue...

“I remember playing with a blue-backed deck at the time. My confusion about the colour of the cards was because I forgot the Borscht Bowl also played with red-backed cards.”

Apollo tapped his forehead, sifting through the information. It seemed reasonable, but...

“And if you are going to continue on with your tirade about my knowing the state of the victim's lack of hair, I assure you, one does not need more than a split second through a window to make note of that.”

Resigned, Apollo nodded. His brain felt totally dry! “Considering the lack of reliable evidence-” He glared at his client, who was in turn trying to look unaffected. “- the defence has no further questions for Mr Gavin, and would like to apologise for the undue suspicion placed upon him.” His boss settled back into his signature smile, and straightened. The judge's gavel came down again.

“Now that this unfortunate waste of our time has been concluded, are there any more witnesses the prosecution or defence would like to call?” Apollo shook his head, hand feeling slightly clammy where it rested on the bench.

“I believe that eye witness testimony from Mr Gavin was all the prosecution needed, Your Honor,” Payne replied. “His own lawyer, claiming he was the killer? Damning evidence, to say the least!”

“Objection!” There was a scraping as Mr Wright pushed himself to his feet. Two bailiffs rushed forwards, ready to restrain him. “Gavin has no proof to back up his statement!”

“Oh?” said Mr Gavin. “And I suppose you have evidence to prove I'm lying?”

“Well...” Mr Wright looked sheepish, fiddling with his hat.

“Or was that the intent of your forged evidence? I must say, Wright, I had not expected you to stoop so low as you have today: that you would take advantage of the inexperience of my protégé to carry out such brazen forgery!” Across the room, Prosecutor Payne cleared his throat.

“If the defendant has finished his squabble with his lawyer,” he smirked. What happened to this being Apollo's first trial, anyway? “Then I think we can conclude this trial, no?”

“Already?” Apollo groaned. He heaved the court record back towards him, flicking through the photos, the reports, anything.

“Quite,” said the judge, with a definite nod. The gavel raised.

And the gavel fell.

“I see no reason to continue this trial; I hereby pronounce the defendant, Phoenix Wright, guilty of the murder of Shadi Smith.” Apollo felt like he'd just been punched in the gut. “Another trial will be held concerning the evidence forgery that has clearly taken place here.” It's over, just like that? “Court is adjourned.”



It took far too long for Apollo to put away his things, as sluggish as his limbs felt. Mr Gavin was rather resolutely not assisting him.

“I hope you realise how much you embarrassed me today, Justice.” Apollo swallowed past the lump in his throat.

“I'm really sorry, Mr Gavin, sir...” An uncomfortable silence settled over the lawyers. “Is... is there anything else you need me to do?” Another long pause.

“No. Go home Justice, and ensure you're in early tomorrow.” Mr Gavin adjusted his glasses and picked up his own briefcase. “I will decide what I am to do with you then.”

And with that he stalked off, the courtroom door banging shut behind him. It took a little while longer, but eventually, Apollo had picked up his own satchel, slung it over his shoulders, and walked out of the empty room. He could hear shouting from the defendant lobby as he walked past. He peeked in, and saw the magician girl from before facing down a bailiff. At that moment, she looked over at him and caught his eye.

Apollo ran.

 

Chapter Text

Apollo's phone buzzed from it's place on his bedside table. He batted the charging cable out of the way and flipped the phone open.

Clay: dude ur trial was on the news WHAT HAPPENED?!

He sighed. He'd had several hours by now to process the day, and had found that time largely useless. Carefully he put down the manga he was reading onto the bed and typed out a reply to his friend.

Apollo: If it was on the news wouldn't it say?

Before he could go back to his manga the phone buzzed again.

Clay: news was vague

Clay: also i wanna hear it from u :<

He considered just turning the phone off and getting back to the wonderful world of super-powered fighters instead of whatever horrible one he was in now. Then he imagined Clay on the other end of the line and decided that, no, that would make him a terrible friend.

Apollo: Phoenix Wright gave me forged evidence and I nearly accused my boss of murder because of it.

Apollo: Oh yeah and also I lost the case and Mr Gavin had to bail me out from getting DISBARRED.

Clay: ...ouch

Apollo: Pretty much. Ugh I don't think I could've blown it any harder.

Clay: well u didnt ACTUALLY get ur boss arrested for murder

Clay: look on the bright side right?

Apollo: It still doesn't make sense though! Everyone was being so weird by the time the forged evidence even came up! And I don't understand why Mr Wright would want Mr Gavin arrested for murder. They both said they were friends!

Clay: :/ if it makes u feel any better i dont want u arrested for murder

Apollo: Thanks but I really didn't think that you did.

Clay: hey do u wanna meet up somewhere to rant properly?

Apollo: Sorry I really shouldn't. Mr Gavin told me to be in early tomorrow. Which considering his face when he said that means I'm getting up at 4am.

Clay: bright side pollo! ur not fired!

Apollo: Yet.

Clay: BRIGHT SIDE POLLO

Clay: but srsly apollo U ARE FINE

Clay: AND UR NOT GETTING FIRED

Apollo: Thanks Clay. I think I needed that after today.

Clay: anytime my friend ;)

Clay: but yeah ill let u get ur beauty sleep

Apollo: :P

Clay: :p

Apollo gazed forlornly at his old and battered clock: already past ten at night. He double checked the alarm was set right and scrabbled around on his sheets for the old bus ticket he'd been using as a bookmark. Clay was right; he was going to be fine!

Probably.

Maybe.

Why was his life like this?



At six o'clock sharp Apollo reached the door of Gavin Law Offices. Mercifully, it was locked; he was in first, which definitely counted as early! He let himself in, grabbed the key to the letterbox outside the office complex, and went out to collect the (non-existent) mail. By the time he got back inside, the lights had been turned on, and sure enough, his boss was there, powering up his computer and reaching for a file from the cabinet behind him.

“Good morning, sir!” Apollo chirped, hoping he didn't sound as tired as he felt. Mr Gavin didn't look up.

“I'm glad you made good on your word, Justice,” he snipped. When he didn't continue, Apollo moved over to his own desk and prepared for a long day.

Thankfully, his predictions of misery didn't last long, when only a few minutes later a cup of coffee was placed along with a stack of unfiled papers on his desk. He looked up, meeting the eyes of Mr Gavin as the man leaned back up. “I believe we have something to discuss, Apollo.” Oh god, not the first name; that was so jarring! Taking a deep breath – he was fine! – Apollo put his pen down and tried to look attentive. Man, that coffee was tempting right now. His fingers twitched towards it. “Yesterday, quite frankly, was a disaster: one that I have no intention of allowing you to repeat.” Here it came... “However.”

“H-however?” Apollo echoed absently. Mr Gavin chuckled.

“However, you are clearly dedicated to making up for that mistake.” He paused, and his expression morphed into something more concerned. “Unless, of course, I am mistaken-”

“Oh! No sir!” barked Apollo instantly. “I swear I'll work twice as hard! I won't make that mistake again, sir!” Mr Gavin smiled again.

“No, Justice, you won't.” Apollo had a nagging feeling he should be more concerned about that weirdly threatening statement, but damn it he was back to being 'Justice' and wow he never thought that would be so comforting. “At least, not in the near future.”

“...Sir?”

“Until further notice, you will remain as my assistant,” Mr Gavin said, hands folding behind his back. “You will be my aide in court on occasion, but you certainly will not be taking on cases by yourself until you've proved yourself capable enough.” Apollo's mouth hung open a bit. That... wasn't even that different from what he'd been doing up till now anyway. His boss tilted his head questioningly, and he suddenly realised he was staring.

“Thank you, sir! I won't let you down again!”

“I am glad to hear it, Justice.”

Not fired. Apollo Justice was fine! Just... set back a couple years...



Clay picked up Apollo from his apartment at a little before eight, the cloudy sky barely starting to darken. “So, lawyer boy!” Clay grinned while Apollo zipped up his hoodie. “How are you enjoying your new-found, re-found life of assistant-hood?!” Apollo rolled his eyes, letting Clay lead the way down the street.

“Oh, it's just great,” he drawled. “This is exactly where I wanted my life to go: forever indentured to my favourite slave-driver Kristoph Gavin, may his name be praised.” He kept walking.

“That bad, huh.”

“Honestly, the worst part is that he's not actually being angry with me,” he continued, kicking at a bit of paper from some junk-food place. It fluttered off into the road. “It's just... awkward and weird. Seriously, every time we're in the same room it feels like... I don't know... someone's just kind of holding their hand right over your head and you can feel something's off but it's not like you have anything to really react to because nothing's actually happened.” Clay gave him a pitying look. He huffed to clear his head. “Where's this place we're headed anyway?”

“Wonder Bar.”

“That explains the lack of car then... Wait I thought you weren't supposed to drink while you were training?” Clay whistled tunelessly. Truly the picture of innocence. “Clay, I'm not going to encourage your disappointing your colleagues.”

“They said I'm not supposed to drink to excess,” interjected Clay.

“You're still drinking alcohol, though.”

“Yeah, well not everyone is as much of a lightweight as you, 'Pollo. A beer or two does nothing to me! Just take off your lawyer hat for a bit, 'kay?” Apollo put up a token effort to grumble for a little while, but soon enough the two fell into trading stories about the last week.

Apollo had never been to the Wonder Bar before, as it turned out; or, if he had, he'd then been hit over the head and forgotten everything about the dingy front and its windows choked with various flyers for everything from cab companies to someone's excess of newborn kittens. However, despite the slightly decrepit look from outside, the inside was still well kept, with even a stage set up in a corner (for bands, he supposed; that said, he wasn't sure what bands would ever need hula hoops). He let himself get pulled through the crowd towards the bar.

By the time the pair had got their drinks – beer for Clay, coke for Apollo, because damn it he didn't want to risk a head ache when already coming in early – and found a free booth, someone had started fiddling with a CD player near the stage. Considering the location, Apollo was honestly surprised it wasn't a cassette deck. The tables closer had started murmuring more excitedly.

“Clay, please tell me you didn't bring me here to watch a bad garage band,” groaned Apollo, dejectedly looking into his glass. Clay twisted in his seat and looked towards the stage in confusion.

“I didn't realise anyone was playing,” he said, frowning. He looked apologetically at his friend. “Sorry; if it ends up being too loud, we can go somewhere else.” Apollo sighed and continued staring into the inky abyss of cola before him.

“Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests!” sounded a cheerful voice. An eerily familiar cheerful voice. With dread in his heart, Apollo looked back up; a girl who was almost definitely the daughter of Phoenix Wright was skipping towards the centre of the stage, arms gesticulating wildly and cape flowing behind her. A cheer arose from somewhere close to the front. Did she have actual fans here? “Thank you all for coming tonight to see me, the magnificent magical girl, Trucy Wright!” Another round of cheers and applause. Well, there went any doubt that this was some other teenage girl in a top-hat. “And boy have I got a show for you today!” In his peripheral vision Apollo could see Clay frowning back at him and mouthing something. Tearing his eyes away, he leant in over the table.

“Wright?” Clay whispered. Apollo nodded, and grimaced. Clay mirrored him and took a hasty swig of his beer. An enormous bang interrupted their pity party and both jerked in surprise to look back at the stage. There was confetti everywhere.

“Whoops!” said the magician, with far too big of a grin for any of that to have been accidental. With a gloved hand she tapped her hat in a comically cute way and swished her cape, blowing most of the confetti off-stage. One of the remaining pieces she picked up, twirling it in her hands, each time making it bigger and bigger, until finally it turned into a large blue feather. Trucy Wright held it up with a smile. “There it is!” she said triumphantly, before cupping her hands around it. “Now on the count of three. One, two three!” And with that she opened her hands and let a blue dyed dove with a tiny bow-tie fly off into the air. The crowd cheered and Apollo and Clay stared open mouthed. What did a teenager even do to get that good? Vaguely Apollo was aware of something cold on his arm. He looked down and swore quietly; he must've spilled his coke when he jumped earlier. He nudged Clay's arm.

“D'you have a napkin?” he whispered over the background music that was now becoming notable in Trucy's performance. Clay shifted and rummaged in his pockets while still clearly entranced with the magical girl on-stage. Apollo would've loved to be entranced too, but currently, mopping up the spillage with some newly acquired old tissues was taking precedence.

“Aw, do we have someone keeling over at the back there?!” sparkled Trucy, with a wink towards the audience. Why did Apollo have such a sudden sense of foreboding? “Don't get too drunk now! The show's not over yet!” Slowly he raised his head back to look at the stage. Trucy Wright was looking straight at his booth, watching, waiting. With a simply wonderful sense of deja vu, the two made eye contact again, and for a split second Apollo watched her smile freeze before her effervescent stage persona took control again. “Well, now that everyone's awake!” She paused, letting the audience snicker. A few amused looks were shot his way. If Trucy could magic a hole in the ground right under him, that would be great. “For my next trick, I'm going to need a lovely assistant! Do I have any volunteers?” She exaggeratedly surveyed the many people jostling in their seats with their arms stretched skywards. She pointed towards one of the closest tables. “How about you, with the cute hair bow!” There was a squeal, and a young woman with purple hair and a bow shaped like bunny ears climbed up onto the stage. “So, what's your name?” Trucy chirped. The purple haired woman said something too quiet to hear from the booth at the back. “Well then, Lovely Assistant Bonny, if you could hold this hoop for me...”

Despite the awkward fact of who's kid he was watching, Apollo found himself getting drawn into the performance in no time. Levitation, sawing someone in half, making an entire frozen chicken and a broom appear from what appeared to be a pair of brightly coloured woman's underwear; he'd never seen anything quite like it for years, not since back when the TV had a whole bunch of specials by some magic troupe. All too soon, Trucy was taking a final bow and wishing the crowd a safe journey home. With a final flourish towards another silk hat set out for tips at the front of the stage, she twirled her cape around herself and dashed off. As the patrons of the bar thinned and began to leave, Apollo pushed aside his empty glass and carefully made his way towards the door Trucy had just left through.

“Hey, 'Pollo, wait!” he heard Clay say behind him as he rushed to catch up. As he passed the tip hat he put a couple smaller bills in it, before quietly slipping out. The door opened again and closed, hushing the noise from the bar as if he'd stepped into a bubble. “Dude, what are you doing?” A bubble with Clay in it. He turned back, keeping an eye out for staff who would know they weren't supposed to be back there.

“I just wanted to make sure Mr Wright's kid was okay,” he said quietly. Sort of quietly, anyway. “You know, since she's lost her dad, and child services can be a nightmare, and I probably should've done this earlier instead of just disappearing on her like some sort of lawyer-magician...”

“That would've been nice, yeah,” said a voice that was slowly becoming the harbinger of heart attacks. Apollo whirled around on the spot. Trucy Wright stood right in front of him, stiller and more serious than he'd seen before. Magic. Only actual magic could make someone pop up that quietly.

“Oh, ah... Ms Wright, I, uh-” “Hey kid, sorry about defending your dad so badly he came out of court even more arrested than he was when he went in!” didn't seem appropriate somehow.

“I heard you before,” she cut in. “I'm staying with a friend of mine and Daddy's.”

“Ah, do you... have any other family that could take you in?” Why, oh why hadn't he taken that free sensitivity training course he'd seen online? Turned out being on this side of the conversation was just as uncomfortable! Who knew?! “For, more long term, I mean...” The girl shook her head, and studied the floor.

“'S fine,” she mumbled. “I know how this goes now.” And as if nothing had happened, she perked up again, an exact smile on her face, and a light bounce in her feet. “I'm making good money on shows here. I can fully support myself already!” Apollo nodded, feeling dazed. “So no reason to send anybody round, right?” Well that was so transparent it put glass to shame. Trying to ignore every last word of his law degree, Apollo sighed and nodded. He could take a hint. Besides: been there, done that, didn't even get a t-shirt.

“Well then,” he stammered, wondering when teenagers started making him feel like a scolded child. “Stay safe, I guess.” Bounce... bounce... “And, uh... sorry. About your father.” Bounce... bounce... “I guess I'll just be going now..?” Bounce... bounce... Hint, hint, Justice. He nodded again, more firmly, and escaped back into the bar, hearing a very confused Clay follow after him.

 

Chapter Text

The next two months felt horribly long to Apollo; his attorney's badge was still right there glinting on his lapel, and yet he didn't even get a chance to present it to anyone. He just had to hang back as Mr Gavin took on client after client: doctors, businessmen, all sorts who could afford the Coolest Defence in the West.

The door to Gavin Law Offices opened early on the morning of June the fifteenth, and automatically Apollo put down the contract he was checking over and trotted over to the waiting area to greet the potential client. A stocky woman in what he was fairly sure was a full formal kimono had already seated herself on one of the sleek black leather couches and was now watching him carefully as he came over. Something about her was... unsettling.

“Mr Gavin is in a call right now,” he said, the script he'd polished over the past few years of working there (hopefully) covering up any fear in his voice. “May I offer you a drink while you're waiting?” The woman smiled, her lipstick-covered smile strangely at odds with the hard gaze in her eyes.

“I expect this office to have some good tea for clients,” she said in a husky voice Apollo didn't quite expect. She didn't continue. Apollo nodded firmly and hurried to a glorified closet by the storage room that functioned as a kitchenette. She hadn't actually given any other hints as to what tea she actually wanted... Well that was a test if ever he saw one. He searched among the tins on their little shelf and settled on the most refined looking green tea. She was wearing Japanese clothing, right? Maybe this would impress her more? Bottled water (not the sparkling water because he was set on not repeating that little incident) in the kettle, he heard his boss brush past towards the waiting area. Well, that was remarkably quick.

He returned holding a clean white cup and saucer just as Mr Gavin and his client started moving to his office. The woman caught his eye and, looking down at his hands, held out her own and took the tea from him. She looked down at it and unwaveringly drank a mouthful. At a loss for words (or actions, or clues...) Apollo just stood there, aware that everyone was now just awkwardly standing in the middle of the office. Finally, she looked at him again.

“Late, but good.” Test... passed..? “I didn't catch your name.”

“Apollo Justice.” He reached out for a handshake. A beat passed. She was holding a cup and saucer, Justice; don't be stupid.

“Plum Kitaki, wife to Big Wins Kitaki,” the lady replied eventually, with a hint of a twinkle in her eye.

“Ki-Kitaki?!” Apollo shouted before he could catch himself. Wasn't that the Yakuza? Mr Gavin was going to defend the Yakuza?! The previously mentioned Mr Gavin rubbed at his ear pointedly at the edge of his vision. Plum let out a hearty, full-bodied laugh, by some miracle keeping the cup in her hands perfectly still. Apollo didn't really care to find out where someone picked up that particular skill.

“Oh, I like him,” she said, again with a glint in her eye. Apollo wasn't entirely sure how to feel about that statement. Settling down, she continued her shuffle into Mr Gavin's office, watching expectantly behind her. Guessing what she was trying to suggest with that, he slowly walked in too, closing the door behind him, and leaving him in a room with both a crime boss and a lawyer boss. At least they weren't all walking into a bar. Seating herself in one of the armchairs opposite Mr Gavin, Plum placed her tea onto his desk and folded her hands over her obi. After a while of hovering in silence, Mr Gavin gestured for Apollo to perch on the other armchair by the desk.

“So, Ms Kitaki,” smiled Mr Gavin: clearly a man who knew no fear. Or was used to dealing with the Yakuza. Apollo didn't want to follow down that train of thought. “How is it that we can help you today?”

Plum let out a puff of air, and stared into the middle distance. “It's my son, Wocky. He's such a harmless boy and yet!” Ah, yes, a harmless gangster. You found them all the time. “There was a murder last night, in the park across from our house. The silly boy found himself in the middle of it; not that he could ever really kill someone – he doesn't have the nerve for it – but of course, the police don't want to see it that way.” Plum grimaced, and gave a hard stare. “Wocky is my only son. You understand why I cannot allow him to be convicted.” The light from the office window changed slightly, and Apollo caught a flash of metal in one of Plum's sleeves; he gulped surreptitiously. “He is to inherit the family... business... after all.” Maybe he should've made tea for himself too, to calm his nerves.

“I quite understand, Ms Kitaki,” said Mr Gavin, neatly steepling his fingers over the desk. “May I ask a few questions before we finalise an agreement?”



As ever, the detention centre was cold and grey and full of nasty plastic chairs. A guard watched over them, stock still, as they sat in the visitor's room waiting for Wocky Kitaki to be brought in. From the sounds of the commotion out there, he did not in fact want to see a lawyer.

“I told you! I ain't need no lawyer! Just hit me with that verdict, G! See if I'm scared!” Apollo exchanged a look with his boss.

“It seems we have an unwilling client, Justice,” he commented calmly. Apollo nodded. The racket outside continued, as someone clearly got kicked somewhere painful. Even the guard on the other side of the glass kept letting his eyes wander over to the direction of the fight. Another shout, this time likely from Wocky himself, and the opposite door slammed open; a man in a bright pink jacket and hair styled into fox ears all but fell into the room. Looking closer, Apollo could make out tiny whisker tattoos on his cheeks. This was the heir to the Kitaki business?! Wocky glared at someone just out of Apollo's line of sight. Mr Gavin cleared his throat.

“My name is Kristoph Gavin. Your mother sent me to be your defence.” If that was meant to defuse the situation, Apollo was pretty sure his mentor was losing his touch. Wocky swerved around, glaring daggers at the pair of lawyers.

“Well tell the lady I don't want no defence!” he yelled. Mr Gavin just adjusted his glasses. “I did it yo! Put me in the clink! I ain't scared!”

“You've made that clear,” chuckled Apollo nervously, feeling his palms get all sweaty. Somehow, him being so different from his mother counted for absolutely nothing. Wocky paused, making a gesture with his hands that probably meant something that was too cool for Apollo to understand. “But even if you did it we could help reduce your sentence, right? A young man like yourself... you have a lifetime of potential before you!” He closed his eyes and prayed. He then thought better of it and opened one eye to actually gauge the reaction of the confessed gangster in front of him. The confessed gangster was giving him an odd look.

“Whadda you even care, G?” he decided on, crossing his arms in an obvious attempt at intimidation.

“Well...” He didn't think he'd get this far... “Your mother told us you were getting married soon. You wouldn't want to miss that while you were locked up... right?” “Also I'm fairly sure I'll end up in Tokyo Bay if you get convicted! Your mother seems the type to ship a body across the Pacific to make that happen! I don't want to die!”

Wocky's eyebrow twitched. Gotcha. “...Has she...” Wocky groaned, arms straining. Was he going to start fighting someone again? All of a sudden, the wind dropped out of his sails and he collapsed heavily into his seat. “Did you see her?”

“Your mother? Yeah-”

“Not her!” Wocky snapped, eyes blazing again. “My angel! My snapplecakes!”

“Your fiancée?”

Yeah!” He slumped back down when Apollo shook his head.

“Ms Alita Tiala, correct?” said Mr Gavin. Wow; Apollo never thought he'd manage to forget Mr Gavin was in the room with him. Put that down to the terrifyingly overpowering character of Wocky Kitaki. “I was under the impression she had also gone to look for a lawyer for you.” Wocky looked like he'd just been stabbed. He didn't want to picture that!

“Ha... she really did, huh?” The arms were back folded in front of him again.

“You wouldn't want to let your beloved down, surely.”

“Hah...”

“Now, if I could ask you a bit about your actions at the time of the murder.”



Apollo didn't rank their chances very high. They'd managed to confirm their client had brought a weapon to the scene, dropped it when he ran, didn't actually invite the victim out there, and also that the police hadn't finished questioning him because of his resistance previously. Apollo glared at the door bitterly for several seconds after Wocky and his guards had left.

“Well, now that the police have taken advantage of our hospitality towards the defendant,” growled Mr Gavin in a tone that reflected exactly what his subordinate was feeling. Now that was true vindication. “Shall we return the favour?” He rose, letting Apollo stuff his notes into his satchel and sling it to his side. “The detectives at the crime scene can be our captive audience.”

They ended up walking to the scene; it was a nice day and People Park was fairly close to the detention centre (and parking Mr Gavin's car any closer was, according to the map he had in his bag, basically impossible). Sure enough, there were a lot of officers there milling around, examining some tyre tracks on the curb near the entrance, trying to get a gaggle of onlookers away from the park, throwing worried looks towards the Kitaki mansion on the other side of the street...

“If I find who's been spitting gum out here...!” yelled the voice of Plum Kitaki, carried right out to the crime scene by the wind. No wonder the police looked so worried. Mr Gavin strolled up to one of the officers guarding the park entrance and presented the letter of request from Plum. Blanching, the officer nodded and moved aside quick enough he banged his shin on the bright purple motorcycle leant casually at the roadside. Seriously, getting it to stay in that relaxed a position must've actually taken some serious effort. Why even bother? Not looking at where he was going, Apollo walked straight into the back of his boss. Apologising profusely, he realised Mr Gavin had completely stopped and was staring straight ahead. He followed his line of sight.

A noodle cart was sitting perfectly innocently in the middle of a bunch of detectives, with a giant policeman figure at the helm.

“I didn't miss Wocky mentioning that, did I, sir?” asked Apollo, blinking at the odd sight. Mr Gavin pursed his lips and just pushed his glasses further up his nose. He said nothing.

Ach, now there's a familiar face I didn't expect to see here,” came a heavily accented voice off to the side. Both lawyers turned to face the newcomer. “Come to watch me perform, Bruder?

Apollo rubbed at his eyes, wondering whether staying up all night reading comics was starting to mess with his brain. Kristoph Gavin's mirror-image-with-a-fake-tan was indeed still standing there, grinning in a way that suggested he knew just how corporeal he was. “Um...” he said, eloquently.

“Ah! I can assume you would be that assistant he always mentions, ja?”

“Mr Gavin's mentioned me?” Apollo felt his face heat up a bit.

“But of course! Apollo Justice, wasn't it?” The not-Mr Gavin reached out a hand covered in rings. Apollo shook it.

“A pleasure to meet you, sir.” The not-Mr Gavin laughed and hooked his thumbs into his trousers.

“Now, now, let's not be so formal,” he said with another grin. Apollo was starting to get unnerved at the amount of eye contact. And teeth. And he didn't need to bend over like that; Apollo wasn't that short! “That's what names are for after all.”

“That would be great and all,” Apollo said, “but I have no idea who you are.” There was a truncated chuckle from his boss as the not-Mr Gavin's smile suddenly became a bit more empty.

“...Well then.” He looked over to Mr Gavin, who was trying to keep his glasses from slipping as his shoulders shook. “It appears I have been unmentioned by my dear brother over here.”

“I... didn't know you had a brother, sir!” Apollo admitted, scratching at the back of his head and hoping his own smile was suitably apologetic. It wasn't as if his boss kept family photos around the office or anything, anyway... How was he supposed to know?

“Klavier Gavin,” said the new man by way of introduction. “Prosecution on this case.” He shot another, more hopeful glance at his brother. “Which means we'll be facing in court at last, eh Kristoph?” Mr Gavin looked over the rim of his glasses at the prosecutor.

“Actually, Mr Justice is leading this case,” he said, watching shocked looks develop on the other two's faces.

“R-really, sir?!” yelped Apollo. He could see Prosecutor Gavin start to frown. And thus, the rest of the family resemblance is revealed.

“Did you not hear me mention it to you earlier?” Had he?! How had Apollo managed to miss that?! How out of it was he today?!

“I think Herr Justice's face answers that question, nein?” smirked Klavier, having recovered remarkably quickly. Was his embarrassment just a balm for Gavins or something? Mr Gavin sighed: a quiet, frustrated thing at the back of his throat.

“Klavier, please stick to using just one language at a time. You sound ridiculous.” The same frown was being reflected between the two brothers. If he squinted, Apollo was fairly sure he could see a lightning strike right between them. Then again, maybe that was just the effect of the comics again. The face off was interrupted as footsteps tapped towards them and a voice grumbled,

“Oh, great, and I thought one Gavin was enough.”

“Well I could never disappoint you, Fräulein Detective,” said Klavier, quickly turning and winking at a miserable brown-haired woman Apollo surmised was a detective. She didn't look particularly impressed. Apollo was, but mainly because he was fairly sure this was proof that Prosecutor Gavin had some sort of happy switch somewhere.

“Too late,” she said. That was way too easy a set up. She shoved a manila file at the prosecutor. “There's your report, Fop, now go away.” And with that, she turned on her heel and flunked back to the noodle cart. Prosecutor Gavin tapped the file against his hand, and, after a several second long silence, turned to leave as well.

“See you in court, Herr Justice!” he said with a wave behind him, the words almost lost as a bunch of the onlookers outside the park took that exact moment to shout and scream at the prosecutor.

Apollo wasn't entirely sure what he'd just witnessed. But at least his boss was looking a bit more amused. “Shall we continue our investigation then, Justice?”

 

Chapter Text

“Yeah, we put that mannequin there to mark where the body was,” explained one of the police by the noodle cart. “Still freaks me out a bit to be honest...” Apollo slowly walked around the cart, carefully avoiding anything and anyone strewn across the muddy grass. 'ELDOON's' was printed on fabric sheets neatly hung on one side, 'NOODLE' on the other. Just the one noodle; must be a pretty small business. “Oh, I'm guessing you'll want the autopsy, if you're defence. You'll have to go through Detective Skye for that. Sorry.” The policeman looked genuinely apologetic; perhaps the good detective's disdain extended to more than just Gavins. Apollo looked over at her. She was looking longingly towards a tarpaulin sheet spread out by the cart and munching on something out of a bag. Were detectives allowed to eat right next to a crime scene like that? Just as he'd steeled his nerve to interrupt her snack break, she turned round to greet a girl hurtling down the path at remarkable speed, cloak flapping against the wind. Maybe the population of Los Angeles was smaller than he thought.

“Oh, that's where it went!” Trucy Wright said happily, head turned towards the noodle cart and hands on her hips. “I was looking everywhere for that!” Some of the cops milling around had looked up at the current interruption. Apollo faintly wondered whether any of them were fans of Trucy's. Probably not the one ordering her to leave the crime scene, though. Detective Skye held up a hand in greeting, before going back to her snacks. “Daddy asked me to give this back,” Trucy continued, unperturbed. Making for somewhere behind her back, stopping, realising something, and then just unzipping her purse-belt, she held out what looking like a pin badge; Detective Skye took it, looked it over, and popped it in her pocket. She went back to chewing her snacks. “Um...” She looked over at the very determined looking teen. “I need that noodle stand back now,” Trucy said. To her credit, the detective looked very professional, being that unaffected. She popped another snack in her mouth and looked back at the crime scene.

“Can't,” she finally decided on. Trucy looked very disappointed. Would Apollo ever be able to achieve such fierce a resistance to a face like that? Maybe she was a robot too... “It's a crime scene now. Higher ups will have my head if I hand it over.” With an almighty sigh, Trucy fidgeted with one foot, and made to leave. Then her head jumped back up, hat tilting worryingly.

“Are my panties a crime scene, too?” Apollo blinked; had he missed something, or more likely several somethings? “Because I really need them back.” Detective Skye looked like she was genuinely considering that question. Then she actually smiled. Why did he get the feeling he'd just eavesdropped on a miracle?

“We haven't found any panties,” she said with a shrug. “So we don't have them impounded or anything.” Letting her snack bag hand drop a little way, she brought up the other up to her chin and tapped there thoughtfully. “But if you've lost them, make sure you check everywhere.” She smiled again, and fingered the arms of the glasses on her head. “I remember ending up finding something important in a car exhaust once!” Wait, that sounded familiar...

“Is she that Ms Skye..?” Apollo murmured to himself. The detective's head whipped round, definitely not smiling anymore. “Uh, I mean...” She glared at him.

“Were you listening in?” she said angrily.

“I just couldn't help but hear!” he replied, hoping it didn't come out as too much of a squeak. Detective Skye reached for her snacks again. Apollo reckoned that was probably a bad omen. “But that means you'd be... Ema Skye? From that old case of Phoenix Wright's...” Ema puffed out her cheeks and started to munch again.

“So you know his cases,” she grumbled between bites, “and you still didn't-”

“I did the best I could with his-!” Apollo cut himself off abruptly as he realised he didn't actually know what words he should put after it. Current company: the man's daughter; the man's old friend and client; his own boss, who could well have ended up arrested because of the man. There probably wasn't a word in the English language that would placate all of them. “...With him.” Apollo was more than aware that three pair of eyes were boring into his skull, and felt a sudden spike of resent towards Phoenix Wright for being indirectly responsible for this. The detective's chewing sounded very loud in his ears.

“Anyway,” she said, turning back to Trucy, and making a point to lower her voice. A hand was placed heavily on Apollo's shoulder.

“That... got a bit out of hand,” he admitted with the most nervous of chuckles. And he didn't even get the autopsy report.

“Justice, if needs be we can stop by the precinct later and ask for the autopsy from there,” said Mr Gavin calmingly. Apollo nodded, shoulders slumping. That sounded suspiciously like disappointment in his boss' voice. “Although in future, be more careful about antagonising the people in law enforcement; you will claim no favours from those who dislike you.” Definitely disappointment.

“Yeah, s-sorry, sir.” He chanced a look back at Detective Skye; she was making notes about something, and Trucy had run off somewhere. “But, back to our investigation, right?”

“Quite.”


Thankfully the other cops on the scene had information that they were actually willing to share with the defence: a knife with Wocky's fingerprints, a gun without any. No one had any theories to offer about the mystery noodle cart. Then again, that could leave room to get his client off the hook. At one point he tried to peek under the tarp, and had never had so many people practically tear him away from it shouting at him about not contaminating evidence before forensics got a look at it. Shouldn't they tell that to the woman dropping crumbs everywhere?

With a resigned final look around, he and Mr Gavin wandered back out of the park. By the looks of things, the motorcycle had gone, as had a lot of the onlookers. Perhaps they'd all gotten bored of not being allowed anywhere near the crime scene. In a rush of blue silk, Trucy Wright narrowly pelted past him, just catching his satchel and sending it flying off back down the path. He groaned inwardly; at least he was fairly sure nothing in there was especially breakable. Then again, he distinctly remember thinking that right before discovering the impact of a similar instance had caused his biro to leak over everything he owned. He rushed over to check inside. Good, only undamaged stationery in there.

“Oh, didn't see you there, Apollo!” Since when was she on first name basis with him? She looked back behind her, in the direction of the Kitaki mansion. Apollo made an executive decision not to ask. A thought came to him.

“Actually, Ms Wright,” he said, spotting Mr Gavin only just noticing he wasn't catching up. “You know about that noodle stand, right?” She nodded. “Would you happen to know why it's here, then?” She looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Well it went missing last night.”

“Really, where from?” She smiled, her eyes not hiding the gears clinking away behind them. “If you could mark it on this map, I should have a pencil somewhere...”

“A magician never reveals her secrets, Apollo!” she grinned with a tip of her hat. Seriously?! “And definitely not for free!” She winked. Seriously. This was really who he was dealing with. He folded his arms in front of him and concentrated every little bit of disapproval he could find within him into one glare. He was apprentice to Mr Gavin right? He should have this down no problem! He didn't have it down. At all. Tapping a gloved finger against her chin like he'd seen her do on stage at the Wonder Bar, she feigned being deep in thought. “I guess you don't really want to know then...” Reluctantly he dug in his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He fished out a dollar bill and held it out. “You'll need more than that, you know.”

Seriously?!” Apollo shouted, feeling his breaking point fast approaching. Trucy Wright just looked at him expectantly.

“Well I do live off tips, you know, since my Daddy's in jail now and all-”

Fine, just take my money why don't you!” he snapped, thrusting a five dollar bill at her instead. She smiled and took it with a flourish, tucking it into her purse. Apollo grabbed his map and a pencil from his bag, and pushed both into Trucy's outstretched hands. She drew a tiny noodle bowl, handed them back, and walked off with a spring in her step. Apollo stared forlornly at the placement of the noodle bowl.

They were checking at Miraktis' clinic anyway!


“You must've met Ms Wright before, right sir?” he asked Mr Gavin while they walked together.

“I have seen her on one or two occasions, yes.”

“...How do you not do everything she wants you to?” His boss chuckled. That... wasn't supposed to be a joke.

“It's quite simple, Justice,” Mr Gavin sighed upon seeing Apollo's crestfallen expression. “She is as much of an opportunist as her father. Show her no weakness. Give her no opportunity to take advantage of you.” The expression on his face was strangely clouded. Apollo supposed it was only reasonable to be bitter still. But taking it out on a teenager seemed a bit much.

The front entrance to Meraktis Clinic was blinding. Apollo could actually see himself reflected in the sparkling gold bricks. Not that he was checking his hair or anything! A police car was already parked outside, and someone was standing guard and glaring at him.

“Place is off limits for you too, kid, go play hide and seek somewhere else,” he drawled.

“Kid?!” He was twenty-two for crying out loud! Mr Gavin cleared his throat loudly. The guard apparently noticed him for the first time. He stuttered aimlessly, “Oh I uh... The clinic's closed while we investigate a break-in, sir. I'm afraid you'll have to take your son to a different doctor.” Apollo glared at the guard, then realised his boss hadn't denied any of that and looked in dismay at him instead. Mr Gavin looked far too entertained by this.

“Actually, sir,” Apollo snarled. He did not have patience to deal with today; he could get reprimanded for it later but right now he could not care less. “We're investigating the murder of the owner of Meraktis Clinic.” The guard refused to budge, but did look a little surprised hearing that. “And we have a letter of request from one Plum Kitaki.” Apollo grinned and presented the letter. He hadn't realised it was so easy to scare people with just a piece of paper. Well, a piece of paper from the Yakuza, but his point still stood.

“Uh... right away, sirs,” the guard stammered, stepping aside.

“Nicely done, Justice,” Mr Gavin murmured in his ears as they went inside. A warm fuzzy feeling made itself known in Apollo's stomach.

The reception was unremarkable: even more so compared to outside. There was a large rack of slippers, a couple of potted plants, a cute teddy bear mascot... Then Apollo noticed of the stacks of bowls on the floor. “Do you think they let the washing up pile up or something?” he pondered out loud. Another cop walked past, giving the two lawyers a funny look.

“No, I don't remember Meraktis Clinic ever using bowls this cheap,” his boss hummed.

“'Remember', sir?”

Mr Gavin raised his eyebrows. “Oh, he was my client some years ago. It may have been before you started your internship, if you do not remember yourself.”

“Ah, you knew the victim?! I'm sorry for your loss then, Mr Gavin!” So his boss worked with the Kitaki's family doctor too, huh. Mr Gavin smiled coolly and shook his head.

“We were hardly close, Justice,” he said. “After all, it wouldn't do to become attached to everyone who walked through my door. They are entering a law firm; their lives are already hanging in the balance.”

As it turned out, there really wasn't much else of note in the reception, so they made their way along the corridor and into Meraktis' office. Inside were two people with bands on their arms indicating they were part of the forensics department. When asked (and presented with the letter again, to Apollo's – only slightly – perverse glee), they agreed to let the lawyers look around if they didn't touch anything. This was way better than just presenting his badge!

“Right, let's look for a reason this guy got killed!” said Apollo, gazing around at the glowing blue jars lined up on the wall, each with a fish in. Creepy. Other than that little factoid though, the wall didn't look like there was much information on the victim. There was a lamp lying on the floor, cord unplugged from the wall and bulb smashed. According to forensics, Meraktis' fingerprints were all over it, which made sense, considering he owned the damn thing.

“May we please examine the doctor's files?” Mr Gavin asked one of the forensics team. They sighed wearily.

“We're not done with them yet, so no,” they said shortly, turning back to their work.

“What about the safe?” Apollo interjected. They sighed again.

“We haven't checked that either yet. No.”

“...What have you actually been doing then?” he mumbled to himself. The forensics member made no indication that they'd heard him. A moment of silence passed, and Apollo could sense Mr Gavin looking at him expectantly. Well he'd been doing so well up until now... “Please can you check the safe now then, so we can see what's in there?” he said firmly. Another heavy sigh.

“Prince, go do the safe so we can get rid of this lot,” they said to their companion, then went back to resolutely ignoring their existence. Well it'd worked at least. Prince stood up and slumped over to the safe, giving it a once over, then practically choking the number pad and door with fingerprinting powder. Holding up something that looked like a barcode scanner, Prince looked over the screen and sniffed.

“All from Meraktis.” Prince walked back to his previous spot.

“You're not even going to check inside?” said Apollo incredulously. Looked like he'd just met two very good reasons defence attorneys were needed!

“Wasn't broken into,” Prince shrugged, not looking up. “Don't need what's inside.” Apollo pressed his finger up to his brow and frowned.

“Does that means we can touch it now?” he tried. Prince just gave him a thumbs up from the floor. Apollo guessed they just didn't care today. He turned back to the safe, Mr Gavin doing the same next to him with a disbelieving sigh. Fingerprinting powder was still stuck to some of the number keys. Four of them, to be precise.

“Well, it seems as if the police have let their standards drop more than usual,” Mr Gavin growled, rubbing at the bridge of his nose.

“Actually, sir, we can just guess the code from here,” Apollo smirked. His boss gave him a questioning look.

“Justice, there are ten thousand possible combinations; if you think I will stand here while you test them all, you are sorely mistaken.” Apollo shook his head, and crossed his arms confidently.

“Actually, sir, there's only a few.” He looked at the numbers covered in powder: 2, 5, 7, 9. “When you have a number pad like this, you can use chalk – or I guess in this case fingerprinting powder – to see which numbers have been pressed before, because they'll have fingerprints left behind by whoever knows the code. If the pad's used often enough, it can even wear down in a way that lets you see the order the buttons are usually pressed in.” He looked proudly up at his boss, before starting to go through the possible combinations.

“However did you become so well-versed on such a specific practice, Justice?” Mr Gavin asked. He probably wouldn't buy that Apollo just watched a lot of crime dramas again, huh. Apollo looked around at the forensics team; they had stopped and one had taken out a Thermos of coffee.

“I, uh, plead the Fifth, sir.” Before Mr Gavin could retort, the safe beeped and unlocked. Justice prevails! The safe was about half full, with a few files and... “Is that a bullet back there?!”

“I suppose he did work with the Kitaki family,” noted Mr Gavin, peering over his glasses at the bullet embedded right at the back of the safe. “It may well be years old...

“But then again it may not. And a crime taking place here rather than People Park would be quite beneficial for our client, hm?” He called to the forensics team. Prince looked up, bored. “We believe this to be important to our own case,” he said. Prince rolled his eyes and grabbed his camera, snapped a shot of the inside of the safe, then grabbed the bullet and plopped it unceremoniously into an evidence bag.

Apollo was fairly sure there wasn't anything else of interest in the office, so he tucked away his newfound evidence to give to the experts down at the precinct, and together with Mr Gavin, returned back out to the street.

“Mr Gavin, sir, do you know if Dr Miraktis was in with any other crime families?” Apollo asked.

“Not that I am aware of, no. However, as I mentioned previously, we were not close.”

“Ah, yeah, right...” There was a scuffle to their right; there was nothing there by the time they looked. Probably just a raccoon or something. “So, this could have nothing to do with the Kitakis at all! At least that means Tokyo Bay's out, right?”

“Justice, I have no idea what you are on about.”

Suddenly there was a triumphant shout from the garage beside them. “There you are! I was looking all over for you!” He was hearing that voice a lot lately.

“Ms Wright,” he called, lifting up the shutters, “what are you doing here?” Trucy leant round the side of the lime green car parked inside the garage, holding aloft a brightly coloured pair of lady's bloomers.

“Panties!” she chirped, as if that explained anything. After a few seconds of awkward, panty-dominated silence, she realised that it really didn't explain anything. “Ema was right; they really were in the tailpipe!” Apollo frowned.

“Were you going around looking at the tailpipe of every single car you saw looking for those things?”

“No!” Trucy's hands were on her hips and she looked indignant. Show no weakness, Justice. He crossed his arms and stood firm. “I live here,” she eventually continued. “Nothing weird about checking the local cars, Apollo!” There was still a lot weird about that still.

“Wait, you're staying with Dr Miraktis?!” She clearly had bad luck with her guardians, huh.

No, I'm next door. With Eldoon?” Apollo blinked; wasn't that the name on the noodle cart? “Anyway, if you could get out of the way, I need to go home and prepare for my show this evening!” And with that she flounced past, weaving past his boss, and walked straight into the ramshackle house neighbouring the clinic.

“Well then,” said Apollo. He checked the clock on his phone: looked like visiting hours at the detention centre would be over by the time they got there.

“Shall we return to the office to devise our case, Justice?” He nodded.


Apollo: Guess who gets to lead another case!

Clay: what no way!

Clay: :D well done my little lawyerly chicken

Apollo: Also I found out Mr Gavin has a brother.

Apollo: A prosecutor brother. He is very shiny.

Clay: wait... a gavin prosecutor?

Apollo: Yes?

Clay: not klavier gavin?!

Apollo: ?

Clay: U MET KLAVIER GAVIN?!

Apollo: Judging by your reaction I'm much less surprised he looked so sad when I didn't know who he was.

Clay: R U KIDDING ME RN APOLLO

Clay: GOOGLE HIM RIGHT NOW OMG

Apollo: ...No wonder Mr Gavin never mentioned him.

Clay: THAT IS ALL U HAVE TO SAY?!

Clay: pollo if u bump into him again ur getting his autograph for me

Clay: u hear?

Apollo: I'm up against him tomorrow in court. And no I am not getting his autograph.

Clay: POLLO

Apollo: Clay.

Clay: POLLO PLS

Apollo: Goodnight Clay.

 

Chapter Text

Apollo paced back and forth in the defendant lobby, muttering under his breath and rereading the court record: now with added autopsy report and crime scene photo. He was fine! He could do this! Of course he'd been there bright and early (as had his boss), but he supposed it was too much to ask the same of his client. Less than twenty minutes remained before the trial, and yet there was neither hide nor hair of Wocky Kitaki. He looked at the clock on his phone again, and triple checked it was set to silent.

Finally there were heavy footfalls and the lobby doors swung open.

“'Sup,” Wocky said rather glumly, flouncing over to the couch and sitting as far away from Mr Gavin as he could manage. “Hit me with that guilty verdict, G!” he continued, a lot of his enthusiasm from the day before drained out of him. At least his hair was still nicely styled.

“Mr Kitaki,” said Apollo as he tried to massage away his impending headache. “You aren't getting a guilty verdict today; that's why your mother hired us.” Wocky folded his arms and slouched.

“Listen to your lawyer, Wocky,” sounded a stern voice. A huge man wearing a strikingly cutesy apron stood just inside the door looking towards Wocky.

“Get out, old man,” he snapped. “Don't think you're stopping me being a real G and keeping it real up in the pen.” The arm gesture that Apollo didn't understand was back.

“I apologise for the behaviour of my son, Mr Justice,” said the larger man, turning to him. “I am afraid he does not know any better.”

“Your son..?” Apollo echoed, dread pooling in his chest. “Th-that makes you...”

“Winfred Kitaki.” Apollo's throat tightened. The Boss, Big Wins himself?!

“A-ah it's, uh, g-good to meet you, Mr K-Kitaki, s-sir!” If he was nervous earlier, he was practically in heart attack territory now!

“I appreciate what you are doing for my family,” Big Wins said, face not showing anything. Was that a threat? That was probably a threat, right? Before Apollo could fully keel over though, a bailiff leaned through the door and called for the defendant. “I will see you once this matter is dealt with.” And with that, both Kitakis followed the bailiff out. Apollo looked over at his boss.

Mr Gavin was sitting calmly, reading a book, blissfully peaceful. “Justice,” he said, peering up. “Good luck.” Apollo slumped and did his best not to cry.



“Court is now in session for the trial of Wocky Kitaki.” Apollo hazarded a glance around the gallery as they settled down; they looked a lot younger than the usual crowd. He thought back to his brief foray into the world of modern music the previous night. Surely no one would come to court to see their favourite musician... right?

“The defence is ready, Your Honor,” he said, voice steady.

“Ready to rock 'n' roll, Herr Judge!” said Prosecutor Gavin with a true rockstar's grin. There were a few cheers in the gallery before the offenders were shushed by their companions. It was just going to be one of those days, huh. Again he could just see his boss out of the corner of his eyes, hands already to his glasses.

“Ah, long time no see, Prosecutor Gavin,” said the judge conversationally. “Were you taking a leave of absence?” The prosecutor casually flicked at some his his blond fringe.

“You know that little band I started in my free time?” he smiled, and his gaze drifted slightly up towards the gallery. “Thing is, we got real popular.” A sympathetic laugh went round the crowd. And those people up there were why not just anyone could be a judge. “Hard to say 'nein' to your fans when three of your singles go platinum, ja?” Apollo caught Mr Gavin flinch minutely. Oh, yeah, he said he disapproved of his brother's mixing of languages before. Make note if you are ever tempted, Justice.

“...I see. To be honest I was a little concerned.” Was the judge a fan of Klavier Gavin, perhaps? “I feared you might still be distraught over that one trial...” Prosecutor Gavin leaned forwards and chuckled, a winning smile on his face.

“Not to worry, Herr Judge.” He looked directly at the defence bench. Apollo gulped surreptitiously and hoped the other Gavin wasn't as perceptive as his brother. “I wouldn't miss this day in court for the world. A chance to see the man my dear brother picked out in action? It was worth dropping a show or two.”

“Do me proud, Justice,” Mr Gavin said quietly, not looking at him and his lips barely moving. Apollo nodded. He had the strangest feeling he'd gatecrashed some sort of sibling rivalry with his mere existence.

“I see...” said the judge. He banged his gavel. “Please give your opening statements to the court.”

“Before I do,” started Prosecutor Gavin, raising one hand and rhythmically snapping his fingers. “I was thinking... is the air in this courtroom not a bit...” – he paused dramatically – “serious?” Somewhere up in the gallery music began to blare. Apollo looked up and searched for the source.

“Hey, up in the gallery?” he said loudly. “No cellphones please! This is a court of law!” The music abruptly ended. Across from him, Klavier Gavin looked slightly surprised. Was that not just someone's ringtone? “And, uh, Prosecutor Gavin? This is a murder trial. I'm fairly sure the air in this courtroom is supposed to be serious...” The prosecutor looked a little frozen in place. “I mean... someone's dead... and all...” Someone coughed.

“Ach, of course,” continued Prosecutor Gavin, the ghost of a pout on his face the only indication anything was wrong. “If that's how we're going to play it today, Herr Justice, let me set the scene...

“The victim, Pal Meraktis, director of the Meraktis Clinic. The place, People Park. Meraktis died that night, left pulling a noodle stand as he went.”

“A noodle stand?” the judge interrupted. “Why in the world was a doctor pulling a noodle stand?” Prosecutor Gavin chuckled.

“Yes, I believe you will only find that out by asking the defendant, right here, right now. Because it's an undeniable truth that he shot the victim.” Objection!

“What do you mean, 'undeniable'?” shot Apollo with a hard look. He was denying it! He was denying it right now!

“If you are to glare at anyone, Herr Justice, glare at the punk in the defendant's chair.” Surely there was a law preventing people who rode motorcycles from using 'punk' as an insult... “His crime was clearly witnessed, you see.” ...And surprise, surprise, the police had coincidentally neglected to inform the defence team of this delightful little titbit of information. Apollo hated this country sometimes.

“Very well,” said the judge, tapping his gavel. “Please admit this witness to the court.”

Prosecutor Gavin held up one hand, fixing his gaze on the judge. “Nein! Not yet! First there is one little matter to be cleared up...” Apollo watched in confusion as the prosecutor made a gesture he was fairly sure was just straight up air-guitaring. How was this man related to his boss again?

“What is it?” said the judge, entirely unaffected by the show. Maybe this sort of thing happened more often than Apollo had thought.

“The motive, Herr Judge. Why did the little punk do it? Why did he kill the director of the Meraktis Clinic?”

“Objection!” Apollo shouted, arm outstretched automatically. “The defendant is within his rights to refuse to testify about that!”

“Oh?” said Prosecutor Gavin, leaning forwards, smiling. “But what if the defendant specifically requests to do so? As he did this morning?”

That's why he was so late?” hissed Apollo, face falling. He decided to direct his irritable glare across the courtroom instead of at his worryingly guilty-looking client. The prosecutor just grinned a little more, starting to snap his fingers again.

“I want to 'give a shout out to all my homeys!' I believe he said.” There was a great deal of murmuring amongst the gallery.

“...Can the defence specifically request he not do so?” Apollo muttered, he hoped too quiet for the prosecution to make out. He wasn't sure whether the 'show no weakness' mantra he heard was his boss' voice or his own mind by that point. The gavel came down again to shut up the crowd.

“Well this is highly unusual, but... The court will now hear from the defendant concerning his motive in the crime!”



If nothing else, Apollo was thankful that Plum had already told them about her son's anger towards the family doctor, the previous day in the office. Keenly aware of his boss right next to him, arms tightly crossed in his court equivalent of a frown, he was guessing that pressing indiscriminately would have consequences. “The defence may begin its cross-examination.” Right. Here came Justice!

Apollo raked over Wocky's statements in his mind. There was something... off at the end there. “Mr Kitaki, you say you went over 'to his pad',” he said, hand pressed firmly down on the desk to stop him tapping his fingers while he thought: unprofessional, according to one Kristoph Gavin. “Can you please clarify what you mean by that?”

“To his turf!” Wocky practically exploded. “His home-ground!”

“His clinic?”

“Yeah!” Apollo leaned back up. As he thought, that was off!

“Mr Kitaki, if you went to the Meraktis Clinic, how could you shoot him in People Park?” And... Wocky was staring at him like he was an idiot. Great.

“You know the fastest way from my place to his, J-man?” Apollo shook his head, realising he wasn't going to like the answer to that. “Through the park, yo.” Yep, he didn't like the answer to that at all. “So I was just walking through the park, knife ready, and boom! He comes popping up, outta nowhere! Right before my eyes!” Apollo made a note to look up whatever that arm gesture meant once he got home; it probably wasn't important, but still...

“And the victim was pulling the noodle stand at that time?” he clarified.

“Yeah! It was so whack, you know what I mean?” Sort of. “But man, I felt like someone up high was watching over me right then.” Apollo felt Mr Gavin shift beside him.

“Mr Kitaki,” his boss enunciated. “Please add the statement about readying your weapon to your testimony.” Wocky looked at him with disdain.

“Sir?” Apollo said quietly.

“We have the autopsy report, Justice,” came the serious reply. “You should only need to scan it to see the mistake our client made.” Really?

So, Pal Meraktis died between 10:15 and 10:45 on the night of the fourteenth. Death was caused due to a bullet wound. “Ah!” A smile returned to the face of Mr Gavin.

“So yeah, I was getting my knife ready when the doc appeared.”

“Objection!” Man, did it feel good letting his Chords of Steel get to work! “You were carrying a knife when you set off to meet the victim, correct?” Wocky crossed his arms, settling back into cool-confessed-gangster mode.

“My favourite shiv, yo,” he grinned. “Birthday present and everything.” Apollo grinned back.

“The victim was shot, Mr Kitaki, not stabbed.” Something broke behind Wocky's eyes. “And while your fingerprints were indeed found on the knife at the scene, the same isn't true for the gun. Would the prosecution care to explain why it assumed the defendant was carrying both weapons?” Apollo looked back at the prosecution bench, and felt the smile slip right off his face.

Gavin was standing there, unfazed, snapping his fingers in his unprofessional way and smiling slightly. Maybe it was genetic. Suddenly he leaned right forwards and thumped his fist against the backboard. “Herr Justice, I said earlier that I had a witness to the crime, nein?” he said smugly. He had... kinda forgotten about that actually... “But you should know,” he continued, his grin distinctly knowing, “that I checked the background for the pistol used that night. The Kitaki family confirmed it went missing from their own storeroom a few days ago.” Oh crud.

“The defence maintains that it could have been removed by someone other than the defendant,” Apollo said anyway, exuding as confident an air as he could. “I mean... it's not like there'd be a shortage of people wanting to use those guns among the Kitaki-”

“Justice,” interjected Mr Gavin firmly, before continuing in a softer voice. “Consider who your clients are before insinuating such things about their family.” But they were literally the Yakuza; would a few words in court really change that much? The faces of Plum and Winfred Kitaki popped into his mind. Actually, no, never mind, he was never going to bring that up again.

“Uh, that is,” Apollo stammered. “The Kitaki household is large! And there may have been many various opportunities for a lot of different people!” His boss nodded approvingly. Phew, that was one step too near some concrete shoes. “And if he already planned on using a knife, why would he even need a gun?”

“As a back up weapon, one would presume,” the prosecutor shrugged. “Should he have gotten into an altercation with the victim, it would've been useful to have a gun should he need it.”

“But that doesn't make sense,” Apollo insisted, fists thudding down firmly. “It's common sense to bring a close range weapon as an emergency back up, not a long range one! He already planned on using the knife as his weapon of choice!” Prosecutor Gavin chuckled.

“Well aren't we learning some things about the Herr Justice's own thought processes. I should take that into account should you ever be arrested for murder, ja?” Apollo glowered at him. “But, aren't you forgetting about the witness again?” he continued expectantly.

“Well they haven't even appeared yet. For all we know they may be totally unreliable!” The sound of the gavel rang out, and both defence and prosecution looked up.

“I believe that is a perfect lead into the court hearing the testimony of this mysterious witness,” said the judge. “If none of you have any objections?”

“The defence has no further questions for the defendant, Your Honor.”

“Actually, I do have one more, Herr Judge,” said Prosecutor Gavin across the way, before turning to look at Wocky. “Did you know about the full extent of your condition?” What was he playing at now..?

“'Bout the doc's botched op? Yeah, bullet in my chest, I got it.” Prosecutor Gavin raised his eyebrows.

“Ah, then I see you did not. You have six months to live, Herr Kitaki, give or take some.” Wocky looked distinctly uncomfortable, flipping and twiddling the hair that fell over his forehead.

“You're... you're just jacking with me, G...! Ha...!”

“I'm afraid not. Ironically, in killing Herr Doktor, you have rather doomed yourself too, ja?” The finger snapping returned, the sound audible now that it was so quiet in the room. “That bullet in your heart... The surgery required to remove it is ever so complicated.”

“...Where did the prosecution come across this information, pray tell?” asked Mr Gavin perfectly calmly. The prosecutor opposite held up a small collection of papers.

“Let me present the defendant's latest health check-up report to the court.” Apollo all but snatched the copy from the bailiff's hands as they were presented to him, and scanned it, feeling his heart sink past the knots in his stomach. “Now!” he continued. “Since we've got this place hopping, let's finish the warm up and start the real show, ja?” Apollo was fairly sure 'hopping' was not applicable to the current atmosphere of the courtroom. “Bring on the witness!”

 

Chapter Text

“So,” said Prosecutor Gavin, once the witness had been escorted to the stand. Apollo shot a semi-sympathetic look towards his own client as he slouched in his seat and fidgeted. Being told he was one foot in the grave when he was already on trial for murder? That was harsh. “You will tell us your name and occupation.” Apollo shook his head and focussed back on the current proceedings. A man with a gaunt face dressed in academic robes stood at the stand, flicking benignly through a book. He looked up.

“My name... is Wesley Stickler,” he said, in a straining voice Apollo strongly associated with expensive coffee shops near Ivy U that shouldn't reasonably stay in business in student populated areas and yet still did, he assumed solely to insult the poorer students working in them – he wasn't still bitter about that place at all, honest! Apollo distantly wondered if he was going to leave the courtroom actually liking anyone. “By 'occupation' I take it you refer to some labour that 'profits' society at large, and supports a livelihood under which definition I must confess to being 'unemployed' however, we must...” Apollo's eyelids suddenly felt very heavy. ...Hm, what should he have for dinner tonight? “...our confusion is not Gestalt, per se, but derives instead from...” Did he still have some pasta left in the cupboards?

“By which he means to say that he is a student,” cut in Prosecutor Gavin. Apollo started at the sudden interruption, hoping no one had noticed his drifting off. Call it an automatic response from that stupid coffee shop, that should do it. “A junior at Ivy University, if I am not mistaken?”

“Yes,” Stickler confirmed. “In the Department of Science and Engineering. Filled with curiosity for all things-”

“Well Mr Stickler,” said Apollo hurriedly, flashing what he hoped came across as a diplomatic smile. “We don't want to keep you from your studies, so why don't you give your testimony so you can leave!” “And never come back preferably!” He was fairly sure he kept the last part internal. If he didn't, the others within earshot were being very nice about it. Or were on his side...

“Indeed,” said the judge with a nod. “Mr Stickler, please testify to the court about what you saw on the night of the crime.”

“You ask, quite simplistically, 'what I saw',” started the student on the stand with a 'wise' sigh. “However we must understand that homo sapiens possess-”

“Your testimony, witness,” said Mr Gavin sharply. Stickler glowered, then sniffed and flicked through his book.

“Fine. That night, I passed through the park on my way home from shopping... when I saw them! One man, pulling a stand. Another man, facing him.”

“About what time was this?” asked Apollo, finger on forehead in thought. Stickler appeared to be in thought for a while.

“I would say it was after 10PM, that is, less than two hours before midnight although by-”

“Uh, thanks, Mr Stickler,” Apollo shot. Wasting time with the boss watching? No thanks. “And are you absolutely sure about the two men's identities?”

“I saw them quite clearly. The man facing the victim was the defendant.” Apollo nodded to himself; Wocky had already said they had faced off that night. “In his hand he held... yes, a pistol!” He frowned. For someone so sure of himself, Stickler didn't seem so confident in that bit... “It was pointed at the man pulling the stand.”

“Hold it!” Confidence growing, Apollo looked down at the photo of the crime scene; the only lamppost was indeed a considerable distance away. “Mr Stickler, how can you be so sure he was holding a gun?” On the stand, Stickler again fingered the corner of one page. “That late at night, it was pitch black, and the crime scene was poorly lit! You shouldn't have been able to see such a small object unless you were close enough to be stabbed by the defendant!” Stickler lurched, several pages of his book fluttering as it was almost dropped.

“Herr Justice,” interrupted Prosecutor Gavin with mock scandal. “So you are suggesting the defendant is the sort of person who would kill all witnesses?”

“No!” shouted Apollo. Yes, if he was honest. “No, not at all! I uh...” He put on his best self deprecating smile. “It's just, if you thought someone was brandishing a gun, you would want to stay as far away as you could, right?” He chuckled nervously. The room was silent. Crisis... averted?

“I will have you know my eyesight is flawless!” snapped Stickler, having finally recovered. “Why, just last week my professor offered me this praise: 'At least you have good eyesight, Stickler. I'll give you that.'” That didn't sound much like praise to him. “Besides, I heard it! A shot! The bullet hit the man pulling the stand from the front, square in the forehead!” Apollo could've sworn a minute laugh from Mr Gavin as he looked back at the autopsy report.

“No, Mr Stickler, it didn't,” he dead-panned, holding the report aloft. “The victim died from a shot to the temple, not the forehead. So unless the police suddenly find a completely different man shot while pulling a noodle stand in a park, the defence asserts that the witness' eyesight is not as good as he thinks it is!” Apollo was amazed at how offended one university student could look.

“Objection!” shouted the voice of Prosecutor Gavin. Oh for... was he air guitaring again? “Herr Justice... Oh Herr Justice...” he sighed, his grin leaking into his words.

“...Prosecutor Gavin.”

“Your tactics are so outdated. Trying to shake the witness by focussing on such small trifles?”

“That's not a small trifle!” he insisted, pounding his fists on the bench. “That's a very big trifle! My client couldn't have shot someone in the side of the head if they were standing off face to face!” Prosecutor Gavin just shook his head, fingers beginning to snap again.

“Hey, Herr Justice,” he said, ignoring his protests. “Let us imagine you are walking through the park. You see two men facing each other. One has a pistol trained on the other-”

“Allegedly.” The prosecutor huffed.

“You think one has a pistol trained on the other.” He hooked his fingers into his pockets and looked up. “...What would you do, Herr Justice?” Apollo raised a eyebrow, and thought carefully.

“Well, I...” “I would shout at them to stop,” probably. He flicked his gaze over to Mr Gavin, who was standing perfectly relaxed, arms tucked behind him. Back to the other Gavin. Wait a second... that was a trap!

“I would shout,” said Prosecutor Gavin matter-of-factly at the lawyer's continued silence. “Wouldn't you?”

“Actually, I wouldn't,” Mr Gavin cut in. “If there was a man with a gun, the sensible thing for one to do would be to not alert him of one's presence. Shouting towards and aggravating the potential shooter would be an incredibly rash action, don't you think, witness?” He tilted his head and smiled towards Stickler, who was sweating profusely and toying with his book.

“Well yes, that is true, and let it be known that as an intellectual and a man of science-”

Prosecutor Gavin slammed the wall behind him. “Achtung! The witness was likely panicked!”

“Hold it, Prosecutor Gavin!” Apollo shouted, turning on Stickler. “Witness, did you or did you not shout out to the two men?!” The rustling of paper flooded the room as Stickler continued to worry at his book.

“That... that...”

“After all, you are a sensible man, correct?” chimed in Mr Gavin. So that's what he was doing!

“I... Urk!” he babbled. Over at the prosecution's bench, Prosecutor Gavin was no longer smiling. “That is...”

“Your Honor,” said Apollo, thumping the bench again. “This part of Mr Stickler's testimony is clearly not reliable enough to build a case! If he was unaware of his own actions at this point, can the court really be sure of the rest of his account?” The judge closed his eyes in thought.

“Mr Justice,” he finally said. “Although the witness does indeed seem a bit sketchy...” Apollo looked back at Stickler; he looked like he was about to cry. Apollo was almost sympathetic. Almost. “Can the defence provide a better explanation for what happened?” Apollo took a deep breath and glanced over the papers laid out on the bench.

“Yes, Your Honor,” he said and nodded. “It's quite simple; there was another party at the scene.” Fairly sure he could actually hear his boss rolling his eyes at that one, he hurriedly continued. “It would explain why the two weapons found at the scene were in totally different condition, and the contradiction between what the witness saw and what the autopsy showed would be resolved.”

“But I'm sure there wasn't anyone else at the scene!” yelped Stickler. “From the time I stepped in that park to the time I left, naught but those two men passed in my vision!” Apollo shook his head.

“Actually, Mr Stickler, I can prove there was someone else there.” He stared again at the crime photo; yes, he was sure this was it. He held it up. “If I may direct the court's attention to the ground around the noodle stand.”

“Th-those are...” Prosecutor Gavin was practically wilting, shoulders slumped and face fallen. Good, he'd seen it too.

“Footprints,” Apollo confirmed. “As you can see, there are a set that go the same way as the noodle cart's tracks, those being the victims of course; and naturally we have those of Mr Kitaki, facing the victim. But then we have one more set, unconnected to the others.” He raised an eyebrow at the man on the witness stand. “Mr Stickler, you wouldn't happen to have stood there, would you?”

“And present myself to be shot as well?!” shrieked the horrified Stickler.

“Herr Justice,” Prosecutor Gavin interjected. “Those prints could've been left earlier in the day-”

“They stop at the stand though,” shot back Apollo. “The stand which we have established to have only been there when the victim pulled it!”

“Then perhaps Herr Kitaki returned to the scene, ja?” he smirked. “If I were in his place I would want to leave something to throw off the law.” Apollo just folded his arms and leaned back comfortably.

“Would you also leave behind a knife with your fingerprints?” he said sarcastically. “A knife which, as the defendant has testified, was a birthday present? Well aren't we learning something about Prosecutor Gavin's thought processes today!” He had earned that glower. And it felt wonderful. “Your Honor, the defence asserts that there was one more person at the scene; Mr Stickler just didn't see them because they were hidden by the noodle stand and the cover of darkness!” The judge nodded. Apollo could practically feel himself flying. Just a little bit more! “And... judging by the footprints, travelled there by the cart too!” Another nod from the judge.

“Then we will need to know more about this noodle cart,” he said firmly. Apollo grinned to himself.

“Actually, Your Honor, the defence has a witness already waiting,” he said, glancing over at his boss and getting a tiny nod in return. “Guy Eldoon, the owner of the noodle stand!”

The judge's gavel rang out. “The court will take a five minute recess while the witness is fetched.”

 

Chapter Text

Apollo tried to breath deeply as he looked over the notes he'd made the previous day during the investigation. Someone tapped him on the shoulder, and he spun round to see a bailiff with her arm outstretched. “From the forensics team, Mr Justice!” she barked, handing over a thin folder. Apollo quickly flipped it open, skimming the ballistics report inside. So the bullet from the Meraktis Clinic safe was from the Kitaki gun, huh. He thanked the bailiff and glanced over at the prosecution bench. The Gavins were having a staring match, by the looks of it. Was his life just going to include this now? There was a limit on how much passive aggression he could handle in a day! With a hefty sigh he settled his weight on the bench and watched the bustle of people in the gallery. He kind of wished he'd had a chance to talk to his witness beforehand, but apparently noodle sellers were busy people; Apollo was thankful he'd even spotted the guy arrive. At least, he assumed the guy entering the witness lobby with a ramen bowl on his head was the noodle seller.

His people watching was abruptly ended as the judge adjusted himself back in his seat and banged the gavel. “Court is now back in session. Mr Eldoon?” The eyes of the court turned towards the witness stand. Sure enough, there stood a scruffy looking man in a ramen bowl hat – would that make it a ramen bowler hat? – and with a towel around his neck.

“To think he wouldn't even wear a suit to court,” Mr Gavin tutted quietly.

“Well could he even afford one? There's probably not a lot of money in the noodle business...” Apollo reasoned, slightly louder than he meant to. Eldoon looked at him curiously. “I mean, uh..! Witness, please state your name and occupation!” Back in court mode, Justice...

“Guy Eldoon,” the witness said with melancholy. “Current owner of Eldoon's Noodles.” He sighed deeply and sorrowfully and let his ramen bowl fall over his face. “Fifteen generations of the saltiest noodles in town, and now the shiny one over there won't even let me pull my stand!”

“How terrible!” exclaimed the judge, eyes wide.

“Herr Noodle,” Prosecutor Gavin said with an exasperated smile, “I can hardly hand over important evidence to the first person to come asking, now can I?” Eldoon folded his arms crossly. Apollo got the distinct impression the prosecutor had had this exact conversation before. “Now,” he continued, ignoring Eldoon's stare. “The defence had some questions for you, ja Herr Justice?” Apollo nodded.

“Mr Eldoon... your noodle stand went missing on the night of the fourteenth, is that correct?”

“Aye, that it did.” Eldoon toyed with something silver around his neck, before glancing around and setting his hands back in front of him. “After a long day of doing my rounds, dishing out hot salty broth, I returned home 'n' found it gone the next morning!” He sighed again.

“Around what time did you get home?”

“Couldn't 'a been much past nine.” Apollo frowned.

“Isn't that when most people would want to eat at a noodle stand though...” he mumbled. When too drunk to worry about food safety regulations...

“Gotta chase that morning trade, boy!” Eldoon all but shouted. And who exactly ate noodles for breakfast? Apollo couldn't think of anything else he needed to know down that path.

“Okay, Mr Eldoon,” he said, racking his brain. “What do you usually carry in your noodle stand?”

“I hope you're not hoping to hear he carries dead doctors around in there, Herr Justice!” interrupted Prosecutor Gavin. Apollo glared at him; if he was trying to put him off...

“Ha! I can't let bodies in my broth, y'know! It would ruin the flavour.” Who even was this man and why was that his number one concern? “My stand only holds my delicious noodle soup and the bowls I serve it in.”

“Are the bowls like the one you have on your head?” Apollo asked and pointed. Eldoon nodded solemnly. “How many of them do you have?”

“Enough to fill my stand,” he shrugged. “And enough I have to keep them in there overnight!”

“I see...” Something told Apollo he'd have to remember that; something about the bowls was bugging him, but he couldn't tell what. But at least he was fairly sure his theory about someone hiding in the noodle stand held water now. Or noodle broth. Man, he needed a lunch break soon.

“If that's all you wanted to ask, Mr Justice,” said the judge hesitantly, causing Apollo to jump.

“Ah, no, Your Honor!” he replied, more than certain he sounded exactly like he'd been zoning out. “There was another matter!” He looked hard at the witness. “Mr Eldoon, please tell us what you know about Dr Meraktis.”

“What makes you think I know anything about him, sonny?” Eldoon said, eyes narrowing. Not that that was suspicious or anything!

“You are his neighbour, Mr Eldoon,” Apollo smirked, shaking his head disbelievingly. “Unless of course Ms Wright is currently staying with a different owner of Eldoon's. Or unless you lied to her about where your noodle stand went missing from.”

“You sure that's what she said?” the man challenged.

“Look, I paid five bucks for that information; I'm sure!” A heavy silence filled the courtroom. His boss leaned over.

“Justice, it's poor form to disclose that sort of information,” he murmured. Apollo felt his shoulders slump, then shot up again.

“But sir, isn't it a potential conflict of interest?” he said back. “I thought I was supposed to disclose that...” There was an expression he couldn't quite read on Mr Gavin's face.

“What my brother means,” grinned Prosecutor Gavin from across the room, “is that you don't look very cool when you do.” Mr Gavin gave a grumpy little huff.

“Klavier, that is not what I-”

“I'm sorry, Herr Justice, but he is right; you simply aren't very cool-” Apollo resisted the urge to hit his head against the bench and instead looked pleadingly up at the judge. The judge looked as lost as he felt. Whatever happened to professionalism, Mr Gavin?

Apollo banged his fists loudly on the desk. “What I meant to say,” he yelled over the squabbling lawyers and giggling gallery. He reached down to his satchel and pulled out the map he'd marked up for the case. The others eventually calmed down, and he felt goodness' knows how many eyes trained on him. “What I meant to say, is that Ms Wright marked on here where the stand went missing from.” He walked over and held the map out for Eldoon to inspect and pointed at the drawn noodle bowl. “Witness, can you confirm she was correct, bearing in mind perjury is a criminal offence?” Eldoon hummed to himself, arms folded loosely.

“Yup, that's right.”

“And you testified earlier that you took your noodle stand home on the night of the crime.”

“Yup.” Apollo took a deep breath and forced his fists to unclench as he stepped back behind the defence bench.

“Then will you please testify what you know about your neighbour already!” This was starting to feel like the longest day of Apollo's life.



“That 'doctor'...” started Eldoon with a growl, looking like an entire flock of birds had flown into court specifically to shit on his good mood. Apollo didn't want to picture that. “Just swannin' around, actin' like he's smellin' of roses...” He fixed Apollo with a stare. “You know he's only doing good 'cause of the mob?”

“Literally everyone in here already knows he was with the mob, witness,” drawled Apollo.

“Really?” exclaimed the judge at the same time. Both defence and prosecution looked up at him in exasperation.

“Herr Judge,” laughed Prosecutor Gavin after an awkward pause. “He was the Kitaki family's go to doctor, remember?”

“Oh! Oh of course! Continue, witness.”

“And witness,” cut in Mr Gavin coolly, “treating a patient who may or may not have criminal ties is perfectly legal.” Apollo nodded in agreement.

“What about stealing my Pops' idea and offering every fifth op for free!” Eldoon continued bitterly. That was a... little less legal. “He saw business and the guy got in good with the Family. Ran me outta town!”

“How does a doctor run a noodle salesman out of town?” Apollo wondered out loud. “And aren't you still technically... Wait.” He aimed a questioning look towards the witness. “Are you saying you're a doctor?!” Eldoon shifted uncomfortably and fiddled with his ramen hat.

“Was once,” he mumbled. “Was for years. Then he just had to come breezing along a couple years back and goodbye business!”

“...I'm sensing a lot of enmity between you and the victim,” said Apollo. He'd just realised something.

“You're not...” whispered Prosecutor Gavin, barely audible from such a distance. Apollo smiled triumphantly at him. Finally, a lead.

“Oh, but I am,” he chuckled, before affixing a stare towards the witness. “Based on this obvious grudge Mr Eldoon has, the defence would like to propose a new theory.

“The victim pulled the noodle stand to the park because he was forced to by the killer.” He rifled through his court record and pulled out his recently acquired report. “And this began in Meraktis Clinic itself. I would like to submit the ballistics report for a bullet found in a safe in the clinic.” The judge and prosecution had their turns at reading it.

“So the Kitaki gun was fired at the victim's clinic?” said Prosecutor Gavin, skepticism written all over his face. “So a Kitaki-”

“Did not fire it,” Apollo completed. “If you're going to argue that my client made it to the clinic after all, why did the victim end up dying in the park alongside a noodle stand?”

“Then maybe another member of the family?”

“Why would they try kill off their family doctor?” he asked simply. “Like you said earlier, Dr Meraktis would've been their best bet for stopping the defendant from dying. The motives of a Kitaki don't make sense here.

“But were the killer trying to enact some... poetic justice, let's say...” He turned back to Eldoon. “Threatening him at gun point and making him pull the stand to a public area...”

“You calling me a killer, boy?” snapped Eldoon. “I told you before, that stand was filled with bowls when it got stolen! Why'd I get rid of all that?! Or you saying Trucy made it all disappear?” Apollo paused, frowned. The bowls again...

“Ah!”

He had it! “There were a whole bunch of bowls in the reception area of Meraktis Clinic!” exclaimed Apollo. “The stand was emptied at the clinic, so the killer could hide inside and keep the victim at gunpoint, and still easily fetch the bowls once it'd all blown over!” Finally this was starting to make sense! “That way the killer could force Meraktis to parade around the streets, until Mr Kitaki chanced upon him. Then the killer let out his second shot of that night and used Mr Kitaki as a scapegoat, in full knowledge of his family connections and the suspicion that the police would place on him because of it!” He could feel himself breathing heavily as his arms thudded heavily onto the bench. “And the killer, who wanted to humiliate Dr Meraktis before ending his life, was you, Guy Eldoon!”

Eldoon lurched backwards on the stand, noodle bowl hat toppling and smashing on the floor to reveal cropped back hair, still with bits of chopped up vegetables stuck in it. The gallery went wild, gasps and shouts as the judge futilely called for order. Apollo panted, staring wide-eyed down at the bench. Had he... actually done it this time?

“Herr Judge?” Prosecutor Gavin's voice cut cleanly through the commotion. “If the defence wishes to propose this theory-”

“It does.”

“Then, please allow the prosecution to do some further tests on the inside of the noodle stand.” He stared down Apollo with a serious look. “If Herr Justice is right, there should be traces of Herr Noodle's presence in there.” In an instant he'd switched back into rockstar mode, flicking his bangs nonchalantly. “Unless of course you are afraid of what we may find?”

Next to him Apollo could hear Mr Gavin muttering “oh, very clever” bitterly under his breath. After some thought, Apollo nodded.

“The defence has nothing to be afraid of, Prosecutor Gavin.”

“In that case,” the judge said, clearing his throat. “The defence and prosecution will do further investigation into this matter. Bailiff, please take Mr Eldoon into custody for questioning. Court is adjourned until tomorrow.”



Apollo practically collapsed into one of the couches in the defendant lobby. “A whole extra day...” he mumbled. And almost got the actual culprit to boot!

“Indeed,” said his boss as he sat down as well and switched his phone on. “You held up well today, Justice. Well done.” Apollo could practically feel himself glowing. “I hope you can keep it up tomorrow.”

“Of course, sir!” Mr Gavin coughed and massaged his ear. Whoops... there went his goodwill. The lobby doors slammed open and Apollo darted upright to greet his client.

Or... a girl in a cape and top hat? Why would she be here? Apollo suddenly remembered who Trucy had said she was staying with at the moment and felt all the relief he'd been feeling disappear. Just like magic, huh. “How could you?!” she shouted, striding up to him. “How could you even think it was him?!”

“Ms Wright I-”

“You don't even think it was, do you?! You're just-”

“The evidence points to him!” Apollo shouted back, hearing his voice crack. “It's not my fault he did it!”

“He didn't! He was at home! I was at home while he was at home!” His voice caught in his throat. Was that true...? No, show no weakness!

“I understand you want to protect your friend, Ms Wright, but-”

“Are you kidding me?!” she shrieked, moving closer and hand moving out to-

“Trucy, please keep your hands off of my employee,” said Mr Gavin, voice icy cold. Trucy looked over, startled. Mr Gavin was reading something on his phone, no indication of having even interrupted. With a sigh he switched the device off and rose. “Justice, shall we leave? We have investigation to do, do we not?” Apollo grabbed his satchel and followed his boss out of the room, Trucy's protests bouncing around in his skull.

 

Chapter Text

After a brief lunch break, Apollo found himself and his boss back in the detention centre. The plastic seat of the chair he was sitting on had shattered at the edge and was digging into the back of his knee painfully. Would it be possible to stab someone to death via prison chair? He shifted to get the shard of plastic out of his way, until Mr Gavin cleared his throat poignantly. That shouldn't count as fidgeting, surely? He looked down at his satchel, studying the scratches in the leather for lack of anything else to do.

“Excuse me?” A sweet voice cut through his meditation and he jerked upright. A woman in a floaty yellow sun-dress and her hair neatly tied up was standing a little way away. She was clutching a card close to her chest. “Would either of you be able to lend me a pen?” Stabbing himself on the chair (again), Apollo rummaged in one of the pockets inside his bag and grabbed a relatively presentable-looking ballpoint. The woman thanked him and sat a couple of seats down, opening the card and starting to write inside of it in spiky little letters. Apollo surreptitiously tilted his head to read the cursive on the front. 'Good luck in court!' read the letters around a smiling fox face with a clover in its mouth; they really did make cards for every occasion, huh. “Do you like it?” the lady asked suddenly. Apollo jumped, his obvious snooping revealed to the world. “I spent a long time last night making it, but I couldn't give it to him before his trial.” She sighed, the feathers on her dress' decal quivering at the motion. “They wouldn't even let me in to watch from the gallery; the place was completely packed an hour before they started!”

“It sounds like you've had quite a day,” said Apollo sympathetically.

“Oh, my poor Wocky...” Apollo paused, wondering if he'd heard that right.

“You're here for Wocky Kitaki?” he said tentatively.

“Of course,” she said with a small smile. “I'm his fiancée.”

“R-really?!” Apollo nigh screeched. They said opposites attract, but he'd always assumed that just started from someone mixing up their psychology and physics textbooks.

“So you would be Ms Tiala, in that case?” said Mr Gavin calmly. If Apollo concentrated, he could feel the icy glare burrowing into the back of his head. Alita nodded. “We are Mr Kitaki's lawyers.” A look of recognition clicked in Alita's eyes as she examined Mr Gavin again.

“Oh yes! Plum mentioned she was heading to Gavin Law!” Without turning back to Apollo, she handed the pen over. Back to being the sidelined sidekick, he supposed. When in trouble, just call The Coolest Defence in the West (and Apollo Justice, boy wonder)! “I'm so glad my Wocky's got the best defence around!” Ouch. Apollo rubbed at his wrist, wondering if he'd managed to sprain it somehow, and did up the bag again, still trying to focus on the woman beside him. “I couldn't bear it if he was found guilty!” He winced again, tearing his eyes away from Wocky's fiancée and towards his bracelet, trying to shift it from where it pressed too tightly against his skin. Within moments the pain faded.

“Justice, are you feeling unwell?” asked Mr Gavin, peering over his glasses at him. On Apollo's other side, Alita was looking concernedly at him as well.

“Oh, no,” he blabbed instinctively. “Sorry, the chair's just... I think it's a little broken, sir. I keep scratching myself on it.”

“Then move to a different chair,” his boss said sternly. “You're a full grown adult now; use your common sense.” Sheepishly Apollo picked up his bag and shuffled around to sit on the other side of him. The other two went back to talking, and Apollo went back to feeling more than a little left out.

“Oh yes, it's such a shame that poor doctor was killed,” sounded Alita's voice right as Apollo decided to look back over. His wrist flared again and he bit his lip to be quiet. He looked away. The pain faded. He looked back. The pain started again. His boss laughed lightly at something. Apollo had stopped listening to the conversation; he'd just remembered a similar thing happening from his first trial. But why would Ms Tiala be hiding something?

“Mr Justice?” called a guard. Apollo hadn't even noticed them come in. “Mr Kitaki is able to see you now.”



“Aaaaaaaaay, imposter!” hollerred an exceedingly cheerful Wocky as his lawyers entered the room. A second of uncomfortable silence pressed down upon them all. Wocky opened his eyes and for the first time actually checked who was with him. He drooped. “Dizzam, G! You're not Alita!”

“Indeed we aren't,” Mr Gavin agreed settling into a chair. Wocky huffed and slouched awkwardly across his own seat, legs splayed. “We're looking for more information on your current state of health.” Wocky continued to melt ever further into the chair, arms starting to obscure his face due to the odd angle.

“We're just worried,” said Apollo. “You looked pretty shaken up earlier. How did it happen, exactly?” Wocky sniffed and stopped his slide down towards the floor. Apollo guessed physics had finished its course.

“...You know,” he finally said, voice barely more than a mumble. “Us Kitakis are in a feud right now.” No he did not know that; he was a good law abiding citizen, thanks. “With the Rivales Family. So, 'bout six months back, I went up into Rivales turf packing a knife and bam! Shot to the heart, coldest thing I ever seen. Miracle my homies got me outta there alive.”

“And to the Meraktis Clinic, right?” said Apollo.

“You shoulda seen their faces when they wheeled me in,” chuckled Wocky. “But it wasn't like they could just let the Boss' son die, so they got to saving me pretty quick!” His face fell again. “Or well... guess they didn't.” Apollo wasn't entirely sure what to say to that.

“I'm amazed you didn't stop bringing a knife to gun fights,” he tried to joke. Wocky didn't look up. Okay, maybe that was a bit tasteless. “But don't worry Mr Kitaki! We're definitely getting you out of this one!”

“Yeah, I got it, G.” Apollo never thought he'd miss the old excitable Wocky. “...Hey, J-man?” Apollo hummed and tilted his head in question. “D'you know when Alita's gonna visit? My old man didn't tell.”

“She's just outside actually!” he said. Finally he got to be a bearer of good news! In an instant Wocky's entire demeanour changed, one finger twirling his hair. “The only reason she wasn't in court was because it was so full up with people. I think they might have been fans of Prosecutor Gavin?”

“Yo, you met her then?”

“She seemed very nice.” “I have no idea what she sees in you, actually!”

“Oh she is foiiiiiine!” Apollo wasn't sure if Wocky had even heard him. “My girl, she is my world y'know? Makes me feel like there's something worth protecting. And she's not soft like my old man! Not going on about getting out of the old business! She gets me, yo!”

“Well I suppose she is marrying into a crime family,” Apollo reasoned. He heard the quiet cough of Mr Gavin's disapproval. He ignored it.

“I know, G!” Wocky enthused, leaning back and folding his arms behind his head. “So many miracles 'cuz of that doc!” Wait, what?

“You're engaged because of Dr Meraktis?” Apollo said, thoroughly confused. Alternatively, maybe Alita was a secret doctor as well. Maybe Apollo was a secret doctor.

“Nah, J-man, we just met there,” Wocky continued, still grinning at the ceiling. “Alita was a nurse back then, helped me back to life. A real angel, y'know?” He gave a happy sigh. Apollo turned to his boss.

“Sir,” he said discreetly, “should we just let him see Ms Tiala?” Mr Gavin examined their client, then gave a small nod.

“I don't believe we can get much more from him while he is in this state.”

And so, armed with precious little new information about one Alita Tiala, the lawyers left the detention centre.



It was another lovely day at People Park; the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the teenage girls were fawning over the purple motorbike parked outside, the police were crawling around where the dead body was found... “You can't be serious,” whined an accented voice Apollo was slowly becoming used to.

“Yep,” snarked another familiar voice back. “Hand prints, empty bullet case, the works. Your entire case got shot down by a rookie.” Detective Skye removed another pack of snacks from her pocket and went to eating. “Now piss off, fop, and stop making the crime scene stink of hairspray.” Prosecutor Gavin made as if to reply; the detective beaned him with a snack. Glumly, Klavier Gavin walked straight past his brother and Apollo without greeting them. “Congratulations on your lucky guess,” droned Detective Skye at them without the slightest hint of enthusiasm.

“It wasn't a lucky guess!” Apollo protested. “It was deductive reasoning!”

“Lucky guess with fancier words,” was the only reply. He looked at the people rummaging around inside the noodle cart, its fabric flaps flipped up to give them better access to its innards. The detective just chewed on her snacks; looking at the bag, Apollo could see they were Snackoos specifically.

“So they really did find evidence someone was in there...” Apollo thought aloud.

“Yeah, Eldoon's good as guilty.” Munch, munch.

“So it was definitely him?” pressed Apollo. The detective shrugged.

“You're the one who proved it in court-”

“I mean that was sort of a theory?”

“Justice,” Mr Gavin interjected, “are you trying to undermine yourself?” Apollo held back a groan. Too obvious, huh. “I told you before, Ms Wright was just playing on your doubts; pay her no heed, and she will have no effect.”

“Trucy's got involved in this again?” muttered Detective Skye, only just loudly enough for Apollo to pick up on. She shoved her Snackoo bag back into her coat pocket. “Hey, you know we haven't checked for fingerprints yet! Let's do that!” They hadn't even done that?! What were the forensics team here even doing?! Apollo hazarded a look over to one of the park benches: three people in forensics armbands side by side, laughing and eating cupcakes. Useless, useless country!

Detective Skye prodded one of the police leaning up against the noodle cart. “Hey, need the powder.” After some shuffling and creaking wood, she held up a tiny bottle of silvery-white powder triumphantly, and climbed up into the cart herself. Apollo blinked. He looked up at his boss. His boss also blinked. Good to see they were on the same page there. Behind the row of other police, there were a few gleeful giggles and the sound of something digital.

Detective Skye climbed back out of the noodle stand and stared at the device in her hand that Apollo recognised as what the forensics team used to scan fingerprints. She prodded at its screen and frowned. “That's weird,” she hummed to herself. She turned her frown back on the lawyers. “I got prints, but they're not Eldoon's.” Then Trucy had been right; Apollo felt a sinking feeling. How could he get everything else right, but not that? The detective double tapped something and the device beeped repeatedly; her frown deepened. “That's really weird, it's not matching anyone else related to the case either.”

“Clearly your fingerprinting skills aren't up to par,” sighed Mr Gavin, toying with his glasses and shaking his head. “As one would expect from someone not a part of the forensics team, of course-”

“Hey, I'll have you know I am fully trained!”

“Which is why you have no armband, detective?” he smiled back. Detective Skye looked like she wanted to punch him. She reached for her pocket instead. “Well, Justice, as the police investigation has managed to destroy all but the crudest of evidence, I think we're done here.” Mr Gavin turned on his heel, making Detective Skye's Snackoo missile fall short of him and bonk Apollo on the nose in his stead. Dusting chocolatey crumbs from his face, he gave her an apologetic smile and followed after his mentor. His doubts were starting to multiply again...



Apollo: Hey Clay. I actually got off work early today. Can you check for a blue moon tonight?

Clay: woah really

Clay: niiiiice

Clay: so how did the gavin party go

Apollo: I don't think they get on. At all. I have never felt so much passive aggression contained in one room.

Clay: was klavier gavin cool tho

Clay: were u cool in front of klavier gavin

Apollo: Why is everyone I know obsessed with how cool I look?

Clay: like the cool suave lawyer type

Clay: like the next level of sexy librarian

Apollo: And no I was not cool in front of Prosecutor Gavin. He explicitly said I was not cool.

Clay: NOOOOOOOOOOO POLLO

Clay: thats it im gonna go punch klavier gavin in the FACE

Apollo: Good luck with that.

Apollo: Honestly I think he was just trying to wind Mr Gavin up? He kept doing that. It was weird.

Apollo: Both of them actually. It felt like I was the only one actually taking the trial seriously and they were just occasionally going through me to one up each other.

Clay: …

Clay: pollo im pretty sure this means ur in a love triangle congrats

Apollo: Pardon.

Clay: theyre fighting over u

Clay: love triangle

Apollo: Clay have you been marathoning soaps again?

Clay: LOOK THEYRE THE BEST THINGS TO BINGE ON OK

Clay: AND EVERYONE AT THE SPACE CENTRE LOVES THEM

Clay: ESPECIALLY PONCO

Clay: WHY DO U WANT TO SEE PONCO CRY POLLO?

Apollo: Why exactly would a robot want to watch soaps?

Clay: THE EMOTIONS POLLO

Clay: SO MANY EMOOOOOOOOOTIONS

Apollo: Ah of course. So many emotions. All of them fake.

Clay: im not joking about ponco crying when we dont let her watch soaps

Clay: its hard to watch tbh

Apollo: ...That's just sad.

Clay: oh also sol says hi

Apollo: Say hi from me too.

Clay: also sol says aura needs me

Clay: also sol says shes in a bad mood and im probs gonna die

Apollo: Ok. Goodbye Clay. Rest in peace.

Apollo flounced back onto his bed and popped the phone into its usual charging place. He'd have to make dinner eventually. Besides, he could do with taking his mind off of the day. He thought back to his meeting Ms Tiala as he rummaged through the kitchen cupboards. No pasta after all... shame. She'd seemed so nervous talking about the actual crime. He screwed up his eyes and tried to remember when his wrist started hurting. She was talking about... how she was glad Wocky was going to get off the hook, he remembered that. And it turned to being sad about the doctor being dead. But why would she be hiding anything about that. Unless... Apollo's gaze drifted over to his bag. He still had the pen that Alita had held. And gotten her fingerprints on. Did Ms Tiala count as related to the case? Unidentified fingerprints, a shifty third person, a suspect who didn't do it.

Apollo slung his bag onto his back and ran back out the door into the twilight, unshackling his bike from the parking lot and pedalling towards the precinct at top speed.



“I'm here about the Kitaki case,” he panted at the first person he could find. “I think I might have some important evidence.” The woman tilted her head and looked at her watch forlornly.

“That's the noodle incident, right?” Apollo vigorously nodded. “What kind of evidence are we talking about here?”

“Fingerprints.” She shook her head and tried to push past him. “Wait, please! I'm Mr Kitaki's lawyer; I really need to confirm the fingerprints found in the noodle stand!” The woman sighed irritably and glared at him.

“Listen, those prints have been checked across the database and it's not matched anything.” She blew a strand of hair out of her face. “Last time we let Detective Skye near a fingerprinting set, that's for sure.”

“But the person I'm talking about might not have a criminal record!” he insisted, sidestepping to block her path again. “And she hasn't come up in the case at all yet, so her prints might not be on file at all!” The woman raised one grumpy eyebrow, before shooting air out through gritted teeth and gesturing him to go with her to forensics.

In the lab, he carefully fished out the pen Alita had used that afternoon and placed it on the counter. “It'll have mine on too,” he explained as his helpful companion (who hadn't bothered to tell him her name) grabbed the appropriate equipment. “But mine are on record anyway, so they'll be easy enough to rule out.” They fell into silence as the pen was covered in powder and each print was scanned. It looked much grubbier when covered in that stuff. The woman plugged the scanner into a computer and tapped at the keyboard, then stood back as she watched it compare the prints to the ones found in the noodle stand.

'MATCH FOUND'

 

Chapter Text

“Court is now in session for the trial of Wocky Kitaki.” The gallery was packed again. Apollo watched Prosecutor Gavin carefully as they both confirmed their readiness, hyper aware of the small printout he'd slipped into his court record after his boss had given it a last look over: no use arguing about that if he could help it, right? “I trust the prosecution and defence have both looked further into the theory proposed yesterday?”

“Yes, Your Honor,” said Apollo.

“Regrettably, the lead detective managed to tamper with the scene,” interrupted Mr Gavin, stood straight with his hands folded at the small of his back. “So we are unable to identify the fingerprints present; however, the defence's theory was soundly proven nonetheless.” Apollo shuffled on one foot, praying he looked less guilty than he felt; Prosecutor Gavin was grinning widely. Sorry for the incoming embarrassment, sir!

“It seems the defence has been left out of the loop,” he chuckled. “You see, Herr Judge, last night the police received an anonymous tip off.” Anonymous? Apollo had never been so relieved to have his name forgotten. With a flourish, the prosecutor pulled out a document. “A little hint towards some new fingerprints to take.”

“The prints from the stand were compared to every person involved with this case without success,” insisted Mr Gavin. “They are simply unusable.” The quiet snapping of Prosecutor Gavin's fingers started up again; his brother's own hands marginally twitched at each click, Apollo noticed.

“Not every person, as it turns out,” the prosecutor continued on. “One person in particular was only intercepted this morning as she arrived in court to watch the trial.” He stopped, hooked his hands by his hips and stared intensely at the two attorneys. “Our informant was correct; we have a match.”

What?” hissed Mr Gavin. Apollo suddenly remembered he wasn't supposed to know about Ms Tiala's involvement, and quickly feigned surprise as well, trying to pass it off as him still thinking through the implications (as if he hadn't spent hours up the previous night doing just that).

Before the gallery had even had its chance to be amazed the judge had brought his gavel down to interrupt them. “Prosecutor Gavin!” he exclaimed. “Please tell the court at once! Who is this mysterious person?”

“Achtung! I would like to call to the stand, for her debut performance, Alita Tiala, the fiancée of Herr Kitaki!”

Apollo hadn't realised he'd been quite so nervous, when a bailiff came to hand over the updated fingerprinting results for him to place in front of the printout from his pen. He let out a breath. His boss looked tetchy still, but at least the blame couldn't be put on him anymore.

Alita Tiala was accompanied to the witness stand. Just glancing at her was making Apollo's wrist ache. “Name and occupation please, Fräulein!” Prosecutor Gavin barked cheerfully. Ms Tiala smiled and steepled her fingers together.

“Alita Tiala,” she said sweetly. Looking closely, Apollo could make out little spots of ink left behind on her fingertips. “And my occupation... would be future wife.” Apollo could hear the judge coo over that. His Honor was soundly ignored.

“Ach, Fräulein, you forgot to tell Herr Judge the best part!” said Prosecutor Gavin, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “Such a romantic tale: true love blossoming between patient and nurse!”

“Ooh, you're a nurse, Ms Tiala?” said the judge with intrigue. He leant forwards in his chair. “Such a caring young woman as well! Any man would be lucky to have you as a bride!” Alita continued to smile demurely at him. Yeah, yeah, she could go for the easy target all she liked; he was ready for this!

“She was a nurse, Herr Judge,” Gavin confirmed. “As fate would have it, at the Meraktis Clinic!”

“That was how you met, right?” jutted in Apollo. “Back when the defendant was shot in the chest?”

“...Yes,” came the strained reply from the stand; that smile was starting to look forced.

“Actually, Herr Justice,” cut in Prosecutor Gavin over the murmurs of the gallery. He took out yet another piece of paper. “I have another little thing here that I'm sure you'll find very interesting. You investigated the Meraktis Clinic yourself, ja?”

“The day before yesterday, yes.”

“You left behind something rather important in that safe. You took the bullet, but you left behind this little file here. Would you like to know what it says?”

“Prosecutor Gavin,” Apollo growled, fists falling to the bench in frustration. “Would you cut the suspense and just tell us already!” The prosecutor chuckled.

“Patience, Herr Justice!” Was that supposed to be a doctor joke? Seriously, Prosecutor Gavin? “This is the patient record for Wocky Kitaki, written just after he was shot. Naturally, it's signed off by the victim, but alongside that signature is another: one that belongs to Fräulein Alita!” More photocopied documents were passed around.

“So she knew everything about Mr Kitaki's condition?” said Apollo incredulously. “And didn't tell him?” Who didn't tell their fiancé something like that?!

“Yes, I knew,” snapped Alita from the stand, for the first time looking cross. “And I don't see how that has anything to do with this!”

“You said this was found in the same safe as the bullet?” asked Apollo. Prosecutor Gavin gave him a thumbs up. The most unprofessional thing so far, but okay. “That would suggest it has a lot to do with this.” He gazed down at the signatures, finger worrying at his forehead. Wouldn't it have been easier to destroy this record anyway? The Kitakis would've looked into it once they found out... Something clicked. “It's insurance.”

“What are you on about?” sniffed Alita dismissively. “Are you blind? That's a patient record, right there!” Apollo shook his head.

“I know what it is, Ms Tiala; I am a lawyer, you know. But it shows you were involved with the botched operation.” He stood up straight as the pieces fell into place. “You were marrying into the family. You would've been very close to them; Dr Meraktis was scared you would expose his mistake. But by keeping around proof of your involvement, you wouldn't be able to do that even when Mr Kitaki died. After all, that would paint you as much of a target as the doctor.”

“Are you saying the Kitakis would try to enact vengeance?”

“That is not what I said, Prosecutor Gavin.”

“But it's what you meant, ja?”

“No comment.” He checked back on the witness; she was looking significantly less composed than before. “But what matters is what the victim and witness thought they would do.

“But of course, everything was thrown out of balance when the head of the family sent them all to a health check-up, and Mr Kitaki's condition was revealed. At that point, Dr Meraktis had nothing to lose, since he was known to have been the one to operate on the defendant. Ms Tiala, on the other hand...”

“So you're trying to say I murdered the doctor because he had my name on a little slip of paper somewhere?” Ms Tiala folded her arms and glared at him. “Don't make me laugh.”

“In that case,” Prosecutor Gavin interjected, “would you care to explain to the court why your fingerprints were found in that noodle stand? Along with a spent bullet cartridge, I might add.” Alita huffed.

“Hasn't the lawyer already explained that?” she sneered, looking casually towards the defence bench.

“Uh, have I?”

“Not you!” she snapped. “The actual lawyer here, not some greenhorn wannabe!”

Hey!”

“She does have a point,” hummed Mr Gavin, shrugging. Apollo gaped at him. His boss looked passively back. “The Kitakis came to me for help, Justice, not you. Don't be so surprised when they aren't happy about it.”

“You gave me the case, you bastard!” he didn't say, because he liked having a job, and he could see several preteens in the gallery whose parents would be angry at him. His tongue hurt a little from how hard he had purposely not said it. Apollo balled his fists and took out his angry stare on Ms Tiala instead. Besides, she started it!

“I believe the witness is referring to her fingerprints being 'found' by an amateur,” explained Mr Gavin coolly. “And thus being inaccurate-”

“Can we just use our common sense today and sort this out already?” yelled Apollo tiredly. “We have copies of what the prints look like, and what Ms Tiala's look like. Can we get a copy of what Mr Eldoon's look like? Because it'll probably be obvious just by comparing them ourselves.”

“I do have the details for the people in this case...” said Prosecutor Gavin, bending down behind the bench to get the necessary things. He placed another file down and leafed through the pages, eventually stopping on one. His expression was decidedly neutral as he turned back and forth between the page and the report from the stand. “Herr Justice, a second opinion if you please?” The prosecutor beckoned. Apollo wasn't entirely sure when he'd become the preferred lawyer to engage, but walked over anyway. He frowned at the two sets of fingerprints.

“There is absolutely no way anyone could mess up taking fingerprints that badly,” he drawled. The noodle stand prints (clearly Ms Tiala's) were all present, most fingers showing tight whorls; meanwhile, Eldoon's file showed half of his left fingers were covered in noticeable scars, the remaining prints in loose, jagged waves.

“Herr Judge, a third opinion?” A bailiff was sent with the relevant information up to his bench while Apollo returned to his rightful position. Disapproval radiated off of Mr Gavin. Another two months of being coffee boy, then. The judge inspected the papers closely, and finally nodded.

“I don't think there is any reason to believe these prints belong to Mr Eldoon,” he said firmly. Apollo relaxed; one battle over. “Mr Gavin, I'm afraid I cannot accept your theory.” Mr Gavin smiled a very fake smile.

“I understand, Your Honor.”

“Well, now that that matter is finally sorted out,” said Prosecutor Gavin, with a grin towards Apollo. “Fräulein, would you care to answer the question? How did your fingerprints get into that noodle stand?” Ms Tiala's eye twitched minutely as she inhaled heavily.

“I wouldn't know,” she settled on. “I see no reason for me to be inside a noodle stand, do you?”

I'm not the one being asked,” the prosecutor answered simply.

“The defence explained yesterday that the noodle stand was used to humiliate the victim...” Apollo trailed off, dread clawing at his stomach. Across the room he could see Prosecutor Gavin start to sweat too. “...Because it represented how he'd wronged Eldoon,” he finished. Dead end.

“Now why would a little old nurse like me try to humiliate him with a noodle stand?” Alita taunted.

“Well maybe you got the doctor to pull the noodle stand because it was funny..?” he suggested, hand nervously raking through his hair. The reaction from the court was rather chilly, really. He looked with pleading eyes at the prosecution. “Uh... any ideas, Prosecutor Gavin?” Nothing but a shrug. “Well... I guess you didn't get into the noodle stand...” he continued hesitantly. But she definitely was in the noodle stand, motive or no! Motive... motive...

Did she really need a motive?

“That is... you didn't willingly get into the noodle stand, Ms Tiala.” Apollo's wrist suddenly twinged as she jumped a little, one of the feathers on her dress flying loose. “How was your relationship with the victim, by the way?” Alita visibly took a deep breath and placed a nonchalant hand on her chin in thought.

“I haven't seen him since I quit my job at the clinic,” she said. Liar! “That was around six months ago now.” Her gaze turned harsh. “Though I suppose you've got it in your big head that I went to see him on the night of the murder. As if I had any reason to do that!”

“Objection, Ms Tiala!” Apollo shot. “He had the patient record with your name on it, and the botched operation had just been discovered by the Kitaki family. You had a lot of reason to go and see him, even if just to talk it out!”

“Why are you so certain he was blackmailing me anyway?” Alita retorted. “He was far too timid a man for that, you know. A total coward.” Apollo winced as his bracelet squeezed tight on his wrist. Something around here...

“Wouldn't that make him exactly the sort of man who would resort to blackmail, Fräulein?” Prosecutor Gavin smiled, eyebrows raised. Alita rolled her eyes. Apollo felt the rest of the world falling away as he focussed on her movements.

“In that case the doctor was clearly as scared of me as he was of the Family, because he didn't try anything,” she sneered. There! Her hand on her scarf!

“Ms Tiala, whenever you speak about the doctor you fidget with your scarf,” Apollo cut in. Could this be exactly like his last trial?

“Oh, you poor child, is it distracting you?” gasped Alita mockingly. Instead of letting himself be goaded, Apollo confidently crossed his arms and grinned.

“Yes, actually. Could you remove it please?” The expression that crossed Ms Tiala's face in that moment was a strange one.

“Mr Justice!” gasped the judge indignantly. “Asking a lady to remove her clothes for the court... how could you?!” Apollo slumped. They were really doing this?

“So crude!” chimed in Ms Tiala.

“So forward!” added Prosecutor Gavin.

“So not what I meant!” squawked Apollo, feeling his cheeks burn. “Your Honor, do you remember the trial of Phoenix Wright?”

“How could I forget? Oh, yes, you were there too weren't you Mr Justice?”

“Y-yes, Your Honor.” Was he really that forgettable? “Do you remember the waitress, and how she touched her neck when remembering how the victim hit her?” The judge hummed as he thought back.

“I do remember that, yes.”

“Well I think something similar is happening here,” Apollo concluded, fists pressed to table. “But to confirm that theory, I need the witness to take off her scarf.” The judge nodded in agreement.

“As embarrassing as this is, Ms Tiala,” he said. Oh for... did the neck count as indecent now? Was Apollo going to have to watch out about wantonly revealing his ankles? “Please remove your scarf.”

With another bitter glance shot at the defence, Alita slowly reached up and unwound the fabric. A thick line of purpling bruises cut straight across her throat like a choker.

A cacophony of gasps and screams rang around the gallery, barely contained by the judge banging his gavel desperately.

“Order!” he tried to yell over the crowd, before admitting defeat. “The court will take a brief recess while the gallery calms down.”

 

Chapter Text

Mr Gavin was watching Apollo out of the side of his glasses. Wocky was scuffing his feet on the floor of the defendant lobby. No one was actually saying anything to him; they didn't need to to build the static in the air. Apollo fiddled with some of the papers in the court record as he cast his mind back to when he'd visited the Meraktis Clinic. He remembered it being really messy, and the forensics guys being really uninterested, but he was drawing a blank on any further details.

“Don't fidget, Justice,” said his boss sternly.

“Sorry, sir.” The air still felt heavy. The only noises were the distant hum of people in the gallery, the sweep of Wocky's shoes, and the crackle of Mr Gavin turning a page of the book he was pretending to read. The door creaked open.

“Well isn't it just like a funeral in here!” boomed the voice of Plum Kitaki. She bustled over and sat herself down by her son. Her son scooted away, features twitching angrily but still not saying anything. Apollo stared intently at the court record; he realised a couple of seconds later that what he was actually staring at was the back of a photo and contained nothing to stare at whatsoever. And that meant he now had two people looking at him funny. If the couch would eat him now, that'd be great, thanks. Plum finally closed her eyes and sighed. “Listen, Apollo.” He jerked upright at the sound of his name. Sweet merciful everything, someone had actually remembered his name today. Plum fixed him with a hard look. “Between you and me-” – and everyone else in here, really... – “I've been wondering about her myself.”

“A-about Ms Tiala?”

“Mm...” Apollo saw her brush her fingers beneath her sleeve and gulped in memory of what he'd seen when she did that before. Surely they would've confiscated any weapons when she entered the courthouse... right? “Call it woman's intuition, but...” She looked over at Wocky and paused.

“...She seemed off when she talked about the case yesterday, at the detention centre,” Apollo confessed.

“Ah, I see you have some woman's intuition for yourself!” Plum said, a sparkle in her eyes.

“I mean I don't think that's quite it,” Apollo cut hurriedly. “More having a feeling for when people are hiding things... I suppose part of me expected her to be involved.” He considered his current standing with the people in the room. Had that little conversation been enough? “And I'd expect someone cut from the same cloth as Mr Gavin to find that out somehow!” The Mr Gavin on the couch with him coughed lightly, obviously trying to hide a snicker; Plum Kitaki just burst out into her full-bodied cackle.

“My, my, you have a way to go to hide your flattery!” she said between laughs. Apollo felt himself flush. Okay, maybe that was a bit too on the nose... She sighed happily as she calmed. “Ah, now that wasn't what I came in for.” Apollo dared to stop sinking into the cushions and looked back at Plum. “I needed to warn you about an investigation going on back at the house.” She grinned. “The police finally worked out our storeroom was filled with illegal firearms. They're clearing them all out now. But it saves us the effort of doing it ourselves now we're on the up and up!” Plum started laughing again.

“...Please tell me you're joking,” groaned Apollo.

“You're jus' throwin' it all out?!” screeched Wocky, finally goaded into speaking up again. “Jus' lettin' all that life go?!” Apollo got the feeling Plum hadn't been joking about the illegal weapons. At least he wouldn't be thrown for a loop if that got brought up by the prosecution. Bright side, right?

He was Apollo Justice, and he was getting it right this time!



As he and the others paraded back into the courtroom, Apollo noticed the mean age of the people in the gallery had sky-rocketed. He had to wonder what the kids (and their parents) were expecting out of a murder trial involving the Yakuza.

“Court is now back in session,” stated the judge, as the final babble of the gallery quieted into nothing. “Now, where were we?”

“Asking Fräulein Alita how she got into that noodle stand,” answered Prosecutor Gavin.

“And her relationship with Dr Meraktis,” Apollo added. “Which, uh, considering her neck injury, probably wasn't that great.”

“If you must know, this is an unrelated injury,” Alita said, simpering smile plastered back on her face. Considering Apollo could still see her rubbing at a ring on her finger nervously, he wasn't buying it.

“Oh yeah?” he challenged. “Where's it from then?” Alita drew her hands up to her cheeks and shyly turned her eyes downwards.

“Oh, I couldn't say!” Apollo folded his arms and looked at her expectantly. Alita's stance didn't change. “It's a rather... private matter you see... Ah, well, very embarrassing...” He rubbed at his temples and tried to put the uncomfortable images he was getting about the witness' private life firmly at the back of his brain. From the silence in the room, he wasn't the only one.

“Well, Fräulein,” said Prosecutor Gavin irritatingly cheerful and unfazed. “Now that you've set the mood, I'll just show everyone where that injury came from, ja?” He held up a picture of familiar looking lamp. “This was found in Herr Doktor's study, bulb broken, and,” he pointed to part of the photo, “with lipstick on the cord.” Alita shifted uneasily.

“You're reaching for your neck again, Ms Tiala,” said Apollo. She flinched.

“The boys down at forensics are checking for additional DNA on that cord at this very moment,” Prosecutor Gavin continued, thumbs casually in his pockets but posture now straight and face schooled. “I think it's about time you came clean about that night, don't you?” Sweat was beading on Alita's brow, her slight shivering setting her dress decal fluttering madly. Her jaw remained clenched shut.

“Prosecutor Gavin,” said Apollo, tearing his eyes away from the woman on the witness stand before his fingers went numb. “I think we should take pity on Ms Tiala and explain for her. After all, I'm sure she'll correct us if we've got something wrong.” He smiled innocently at the prosecution, arms crossed, head tilted, looking like the perfect little lawyer. He got a smirk for his efforts.

“Then let's rock.” Apollo purposefully ignored the air guitar in lieu of sorting though his own thoughts.

“On the night of the fourteenth, Ms Tiala went to see Dr Meraktis at his clinic. Since this was soon after the Kitakis' health check up, we can comfortably assume she was there because of the patient record in the safe.” Alita opened her mouth to protest; she was met with several stares from the lawyers in the room. “Even if she wasn't being blackmailed, she could've gone to warn the doctor.”

“Yes, that's exactly why I went!” interrupted Alita. “I was worried for the doctor.”

“So you were at the Meraktis Clinic that night, ja?” Prosecutor Gavin said. At the witness stand, Alita began to toy with her ring again.

“I suppose I can't lie to you,” she sighed. Didn't stop her trying, though. “I wanted to spare the doctor's good name, you see. I wouldn't want to speak ill of the dead!”

“Either way,” Apollo continued, not particularly bothered at the blatant falsehood of Alita's alleged reasoning. “The meeting went south, and the doctor tried to strangle Ms Tiala.”

“And whatever changed his mind, Herr Justice?” argued Prosecutor Gavin. “Fräulein Alita is alive, nein? And Herr Doktor arrived in People Park unharmed.” Apollo frowned to himself as he looked back at Alita's neck.

“Maybe she managed to talk him down?” Apollo suggested.

“While being strangled?” sighed Mr Gavin with a tired look over his glasses. That felt like the wrong answer.

“And then she walked home and was no longer involved in the crime, as any reasonable person would do,” Prosecutor said in a sing song voice. “Since she clearly didn't take the obvious opportunity to kill the victim.”

“Well maybe that wasn't what happened,” Apollo snapped.

“Mr Justice, if you're going to waste the court's time, have a penalty to waste yours,” said the judge: a bang of the gavel. Double Gavin'd and a penalty? That was cruel and unusual, really.

“Maybe... Dr Meraktis stopped strangling her because he thought she was already dead? If you're being strangled, you fall unconscious before you die.” Actually... “Ms Tiala didn't have a chance to fight back at the time because she was out cold, leaving Dr Meraktis alone with what he thought was a dead body.” He hazarded another glance at Alita; one finger ran up and down the line of bruises on her throat. Apollo smiled inwardly. “And what would he do in that situation?”

“Obviously he would try to dispose of the body,” Mr Gavin picked up. Apollo was so ready for this teamwork! “For which he used the noodle stand which we have discovered the witness to have been inside.” With one elegant hand held aloft, he presented the photo of the crime scene. “As you can see in this photograph, a river runs through People Park: the perfect place to dispose of Ms Tiala's corpse, wouldn't you say?” He smiled towards the witness stand. Alita was shaking more obviously now. Fair enough; she wasn't used to the Kristoph Gavin brand of gallows humour, after all.

“But Ms Tiala woke up,” Apollo cut in. “Around when Mr Kitaki confronted the victim, the witness saw her chance and shot him from inside the stand!”

“Oh and I have a gun now, do I?” snipped Alita, with a dismissive sniff and a raised eyebrow. “You really are trying to pin this all on me, aren't you!”

“Well the gun was fired from the noodle cart, Ms Tiala,” said Apollo. “The empty bullet casing proves that. And it was fired in the clinic, because a bullet ended up there too. Other than the victim, the only other person who undeniably went to both locations that night was you Ms Tiala. You took a gun from the Kitakis' storeroom and went to visit Dr Meraktis. He opened the safe as you asked him to, but then attacked you, fearing for his life. You fell unconscious from the struggle and Meraktis panicked and stole the noodle stand from next door to transport your 'body'-”

“Herr Justice,” Prosecutor Gavin cut in, shaking his head. “Surely you don't think Herr Doktor would just leave the gun with the poor Fräulein?” Well it wasn't completely impossible. But somehow, Apollo felt it wasn't the most convincing argument.

“Ms Tiala could've hidden the gun on her person just before she blacked out,” he said, projecting as much confidence as he could hope for. “Maybe she just shoved it down her underwear? It's what I'd do, probably...” Apollo's voice trailed off as a myriad of jokes about packing heat entered his thoughts unbidden.

“Mr Justice,” said the judge. He looked uncomfortable. “Please don't make me imagine that.”

“Oh, uh, sorry Your Honor.” “I wasn't making you do anything, though!” “But the evidence proves the gun was moved to the noodle stand along with Ms Tiala, replacing the noodle bowls inside.” On the stand, Alita was shaking vigorously, feathers coming loose all over the place.

“It wasn't me!” she shouted, clutching at her balding decal. “I'm just the victim here! I... I...!” She stopped, panting for breath, then stood up straight, a facade of herself before her near break down. “I know I didn't shoot him in the back.” Apollo pictured the scene in his head, and bit back a groan.

“Justice,” Mr Gavin said in a light voice laden with mock curiosity. “That witness yesterday, did we ever find out for certain whether he shouted or not?” Apollo felt his eyes grow wide and a grin slide onto his face.

“Why no sir!” he chirruped, mirroring his boss' tone. “I don't believe that was ever decided.” In unison the two defence lawyers folded their arms and smiled coolly at the witness.

“Now that's just plagiarism,” Apollo heard Prosecutor Gavin mutter from his own bench.

“Ms Tiala!” shouted Apollo. “You shot Pal Meraktis!”

“With an illegal firearm, no less!” added Prosecutor Gavin. He just really wanted that fact out there, didn't he.

“There were illegal weapons involved in this?” said the confused judge.

“Yes, but that fact isn't relevant, Your Honor!” Apollo stretched out his arm and pointed square at Alita. “What matters is that Ms Tiala killed Meraktis and let the blame fall on her own fiancée!”

He watched as Alita breathed heavily, looking desperately at Apollo, the Gavins, the judge, the gallery. No one answered. Her hands rose to her decal, her neck, up over her face and shielding her eyes. The last few feathers dropped as Alita Tiala screamed to an uncaring crowd.



“I now declare the defendant, Wocky Kitaki, not guilty.” Apollo could practically hear the hallelujah chorus. He'd actually done it this time! This wasn't just a dream, right? But the scene didn't dissolve as the people of the gallery gathered their things and began to file away. Paper brushed past his arms.

“Justice,” sounded Mr Gavin's gentle voice. “I need to have a quick word with someone. I'll meet you in the defendant lobby.” Apollo nodded viscerally and pulled himself back into his present life of packing away his files and knowing that he'd won. He wandered giddily back towards the lobby, silently waving to Wocky in hopes of not interrupting his talk with his father.

“Thank you for your services, Mr Justice,” said Winfred anyway. Apollo was barely even tempted to quail at the words.

“You're very welcome, Mr Kitaki,” he replied, drifting into autopilot. “Thank you for asking Gavin Law to represent your family.” There was a sniffle. Glancing over, Wocky's eyes were looking a bit red. Finding out his fiancée was willing to sacrifice him wasn't going over so well then.

“You better watch your back, J-man!” he snarled, effect ruined by being on the edge of crying. “Don't think you're gonna get off takin' my Alita away from me!” He sniffed again.

“Wocky, it's high time you opened your eyes.” Wocky snapped back around to look at his father. “This life has cost you this much. Your mother and I only want to help-”

“What about what I want?”

“Wocky.” Winfred fixed his son with a hard look. Wocky shuffled his feet, looking guiltily down at the floor. “We found another doctor who can help you.”

“R-really?”

“But it's expensive.” Wocky opened his mouth to protest. “And I want to do it clean this time. I can't let something like this happen again.” Wocky's jaw went a slack and for the first time Apollo saw him as someone vulnerable. Winfred inclined his head towards Apollo. “And Mr Justice?”

“Yes, sir!”

“I will remember you should my family need help again. So long.”

And with that, the two Kitakis left. A blond head poked round the door and Apollo jumped to attention.

“Our clients just left, sir!” he barked; there was a chuckle from the newcomer. “Oh.” Wrong Gavin.

“I just came to congratulate you,” Prosecutor Gavin said with a shining smile. “Fräulein Alita has confessed to everything.”

“Thanks for your help in there,” said Apollo, adjusting the shoulder strap of his bag.

“No need to thank me,” the prosecutor laughed. He leaned in close. “Thank our 'anonymous whistle blower', ja?” He actually winked as he said that. Apollo felt his face flush hot; he knew?!

“Klavier, whatever are you doing to my apprentice?” Prosecutor Gavin hurriedly straightened.

“Good showing in there, Bruder!” he grinned, slouching again in an instant. Mr Gavin sighed and shook his head lightly.

“On our side, perhaps,” he said, walking up to stand beside Apollo. “Though your performance was quite another matter.” The prosecutor raised his brows.

“Really, Kris? I beg to differ. We found the true criminal after all.”

“I see your flippancy towards your job has not changed for the better these past few years,” returned Mr Gavin with a frown. His brother's own expression began to twist too. “Now,” he said, face clearing. “Justice, I believe a celebration is in order, no? How about we go out to dinner tonight?”

“R-really sir?!” exclaimed Apollo. Was this the true reward for success?

“I'll let you decide where we eat, since this was your win.” If this really was a dream of Apollo's, it had definitely taken a turn for something.

“Well...” he stammered, mind drawing blanks. His boss gestured to walk with him. “I'll admit, I have the strangest craving for noodles...” Mr Gavin chuckled.

“I know a suitable place, then. I'll reserve a table for us.”



Clay: heyyy pollo

Clay: heyyyyyy

Clay: pollo the news told me about ur case b4 u did

Clay: again

Clay: pollo it said u did good

Apollo: Sorry I was at dinne with mr gavin

Clay: er u ok dude?

Apollo: Its fine juts had a lotta wine.

Clay: um

Clay: pls dont tell me u got drunk with ur boss

Apollo: Weel he ordered a bottle for th etable.

Apollo: An he was dribing so couldnt drink much.

Clay: pls dont tell me u drank like an entire bottle of wine

Clay: in front of ur boss

Apollo: Well itd be RUDE Not to.

Apollo: And it was good wine.

Apollo: V v good wine.

Clay: apollo im stepping in this is an intervention

Clay: go drink water and sleep

Clay: i thought i was supposed to be the irresponsible one :/

Apollo: Im fiiiiiiiine :p

Clay: ok u can tell me that again in the morning

Apollo: Dont need sleep HTAT bad.

Clay: goodnight sweet prince

Apollo: :(

Clay: :( to u too

Clay: good. night. apollo.



Apollo: Clay you were right this is the worst thing I've done in my life. I am never going near alcohol again.

Clay: told u so :p

 

Chapter Text

The rest of the week practically flew by in a flurry of headaches and paperwork and the promise of a bonus with his next paycheck. Shucking off his shoes, Apollo heaved his grocery bags onto the kitchen counter and rubbed his sore arms. Being well off hurt. He dug out his phone and put it down next to the bags as he started to put the things he didn't need right now away. Still caught in traffic, Clay?

Satisfied that the vegetables were no longer contaminating his workspace, Apollo wandered to his coffee table and rummaged amongst the detritus of single living. Three crappy spam catalogues (that reminded him; he seriously needed to find a way to get off their mailing list) and an empty instant noodle cup later (when was that even from?), he pulled out the copied out recipe he was looking for. Note to self: keep notes to self on hand better. A few more things from the cupboard... Why did cupboards even need top shelves? He did a final checklist of everything and, happy everything he could reach was laid out he flopped onto the couch instead with his phone.

As if on cue, the front door slammed open.“Great,” he said, giving up his short lived dream of a moment of rest. He flung himself upright and made for the kitchen. “Ditch your jacket and let's get started.”

“Oh Apollo, I thought you'd never ask!” Clay teased, shrugging off his Gyaxa jacket anyway and hanging it over the back of the couch. “What're we making anyway that means I have to strip?” Apollo rolled his eyes.

“Taking off a jacket hardly counts as stripping,” he snarked, checking his friend had remembered to kick off his shoes too. “But I'm guessing you don't want it covered in flour and stuff so...”

“Correctamundo, 'Pollo!” Clay hopped awkwardly, desperately trying to free his foot from the cruel grasp of his shoelaces. “So are we baking a cake or something?”

“Nah, oven's still too crap for that. Uh, can you grab the baking powder from the top shelf? It's still up there from when you caught Mikeko trying to eat it.” Clay poked his side before reaching up.

“Making. What are we.”

“Oh, uh, gulab jamun.” Clay tilted his head questioningly. “The sweet doughball things in syrup? I made you some back when you got into Gyaxa, remember?”

“Ohhh yeah!” Clay said, putting the pot of baking powder down. “That's when you set the fire alarms off, right?”

“Yeah, well,” stuttered Apollo, flushing a bit and starting to measure out flour. “That's why you're here; you can fireman's lift me to safety if it all goes horribly, horribly wrong.”

“Welp, let's just hope you don't have to return the favour, short-ass!”

“Clay, I'm kind of hoping I won't have to ask the favour.” Apollo rather liked having somewhere to live, after all...



As it turned out, Apollo didn't need to worry about anyone fireman's lifting anyone else; the deep frying and syrup making went absolutely fine. And Mikeko only tried to help twice.

“Why must you torture me with sweets that have to marinate?” groaned Clay. The two men (plus cat) sat sprawling on the couch, television blaring in the background. The little bag of pistachios for the topping lay open on the table.

“You do realise they aren't all for you, right?” said Apollo, reaching for a pistachio and trying not to get the weird membrane bits everywhere as he de-shelled it. “There's like sixteen servings there. There is no way you could eat all that.”

“Bet I could.”

“Bet your teeth would fall out if you tried.”

“Eh, I don't need teeth to be an astronaut. I mean, have you seen space food?”

“Yes, Clay, I have seen space food,” Apollo said patronisingly. “You have made me eat space food.” He turned to look his friend in the eye. “And I don't care what you say; eating peaches like that should be a crime.” Clay tutted.

“You're just too attached to the concept of solid food,” he sighed.

“Sorry for not being an infant, I guess.” Apollo reached for the pistachios again.

“Are those even part of the recipe or did you just want a snack when you were out?” Clay asked, pointing to the bag. Apollo examined the nut in his hand with mild surprise.

“I guess I should probably leave some for the sweets,” he pondered, popping it into his mouth thoughtfully. “Do you think they'd know it's missing the topping?”

“Dunno,” Clay shrugged, nicking his own pistachio from the table. “Depends who you're giving it to.”

“Didn't I say?” Clay shook his head, crunching. “Huh, I guess I am being a bit of a space case today... Sorry, just a dramatic week. Mr Gavin said he's alright with me leading some of our smaller cases on my own, you know?” Apollo sighed happily and let Mikeko clamber into his lap. Good thing his thighs were immune to cat claws by this point. “It's just... really nice to know he trusts me not to screw up again.”

“On small things.” Apollo glared at his 'dear' friend.

“Clay, I endured three days of gangsters for this,” he said in a low voice. “If you rain on my parade now you are going to leave here without a single gulab jamun to your name.” Clay glared at his 'dear' friend back, before giving him the biggest, cheesiest grin that could fit on his face.

“Well we can't have that then!” he grinned. “No way am I letting your irresponsible boss eat them all!”

“Okay, one; not giving any to Mr Gavin,” said Apollo. “They're way too sticky for him to ever want to breath near, let alone put in his mouth. Two.” He looked bewilderedly at Clay. “Are you still upset about the wine thing? I told you, I'm fine! We were able to laugh it off afterwards; it's all fine!”

“'Pollo, your boss still got you drunk-”

“He didn't get me anything!” he retorted, hearing his voice start to rise. Mikeko hopped down onto the floor and slinked off. “That's like me going off on Sol if you two get drunk together.”

“That's completely different!” Clay insisted. “Sol's not the one in control of my salary... It'd be like if I went drinking with Mr Cosmos or something!” Apollo sat back and raised an eyebrow, then grabbed his phone and started pressing buttons. “Uh, 'Pollo?”

“One. Mr Cosmos is way older than Mr Gavin: terrible comparison. Two.” Apollo turned his phone screen and shoved it into his face. “Photographic evidence from the space centre's New Year's party.” Clay squinted at the picture of him and Yuri Cosmos quite obviously engaged in a drinking contest, shots of various colours laid out before them.

“...Remind me to take your phone off you this year,” Clay grumbled. “You're way too good at getting blackmail material.”

“But seriously, Clay, you don't need to worry about me like that.” He tapped his forehead in thought. “Unless I get targeted by the mob over everything, I guess. But I think I'm in with them? So it'll be fine, probably.” Clay buried his head in his hands.

“You're really not helping, dude.”



Apollo resolutely decided the next morning (midday still counted as morning if it was Sunday, obviously) that Clay did not in fact need to know that the mob were receiving sweets from Apollo Justice. Frankly, had Plum Kitaki not been outside, sweeping the pavement and shouting directions towards a haggard looking man painting the wall, Apollo would've dropped the damn things off on the doorstep and accepted that he was never getting the Tupperware back. But instead, Plum waved him over with a smile. “Do try not to shake so much,” said the little voice in Apollo's head, as he cautiously leaned his bike against the wall where he could still see it. Apollo had to wonder when his head voice had begun copying Mr Gavin. Maybe it was his subconscious telling him he needed glasses?

“Good to see you again in one piece!” she laughed. ...Was there a reason he shouldn't be? Apollo gulped. This had been a monumentally stupid idea. She looked appraisingly at the plastic box he was clutching onto. “Come for a nice scenic picnic on a sunny day, I see.” Apollo followed her line of vision as it swerved over to the entrance of People Park. “The heat's off now, so us Kitakis have got back to upkeeping.”

“Upkeeping?” Apollo echoed back. That was ominous.

“Making sure the facilities are all in working order.” Plum narrowed her eyes and blew air through her teeth. “Those cops made... quite the mess.” Apollo pretended not to see the glint of metal as the woman twisted her hand around her broom's handle.

“So they're all gone now?” he asked before he could stop himself. “Even the ones investigating the illegal weapons?” “Like that broom obviously is?” Plum's chest heaved as she laughed.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “We cooperated, after all.” Apollo forced his brows to remain level; Plum caught him anyway and smiled ruefully. “...Most of us cooperated... Say, Apollo.”

“Yes?!”

“You're around Wocky's age, yes?” Apollo nodded hesitantly; three years was a small margin, right? “You know what it's like to be a young man these days...”

“Uh, somehow I think our situations are a bit different,” he cut in. It was difficult to imagine Wocky as an orphaned law student struggling to pay rent. “I mean, I was already starting to intern at Gavin Law when I was his age? But I'm not sure your son's really the type of person for that...” He trailed off; Plum was rubbing her thumb across her jaw and examining him through dark eyes.

“You might be right...” she mumbled cryptically. “Maybe being more involved in the family business would help.” Apollo couldn't help but grimace. How exactly did any of that translate?! Plum laughed harshly again upon seeing his face. “I mean the baking business, you silly boy!”

“The Kitaki family bakes?” he said incredulously. Or was that just another euphemism for shooting people? It was, wasn't it.

“We're trying to make clean money. What did you expect from us: car salesmen?”

“I would've thought money lending would've been the more obvious choice,” Apollo admitted, rubbing his hair nervously. Judging by the amount of loan sharks in the high value offices around where he worked, it certainly didn't pay poorly. A cold look brushed over Plum's face.

“Oh, we'd run into problems with that,” she said mirthlessly. “A lot of problems.” Abort, abort! Apollo could tell for a fact he did not want to know any more about his loan shark neighbours!

“Well if your family's baking now I guess that means you're really into your sweets and things!” he babbled.

“You still have a long way to go if you want to change the subject without others noticing.”

Apollo thrust out his box of sweets. “I, uh, wanted to give your family these to apologise for the stress caused by the case!” Curiously, Plum tucked her broom (broom, with knife: knife broom) under one arm and accepted the gift. After a quick check inside, she looked back at Apollo.

“Well it's only right to offer you come in and share these over some tea, yes?” He took a step back, shaking his hands profusely in front of him.

“Ah, that's quite alright, Ms Kitaki,” he said hurriedly. He could do without bumping into Wocky today; he liked living. “I have places to be!”

“Oh?”

“And, well, I sort of misjudged how many I needed to make,” he chuckled, worrying at his hair. “There's only so much sugar I can handle...” Plum chuckled along with him.

“There,” she said simply. “You're already getting better at hiding what you want from people.” Apollo felt himself blush. Damn mobster senses. “But feel free to stop by any time. When you're feeling up to trying the Boss' cakes.” Apollo nodded dumbly as Plum turned and bustled inside, scolding the painter working on the wall as she passed.

He grabbed his bike again, and hopped on, deciding to skip People Park, even if it was clean now. He'd keep having his lunch breaks at his usual haunt,thanks.



It was odd, the contrast between the shiny golden pillars of the Meraktis Clinic and its boarded up doorway. Apollo gave it a week before the obvious target got graffitied. Letting his bike slow to a crawl before leaping off it, Apollo removed the satchel from his back and took out the second Tupperware container. He knocked on the door of Eldoon's house and waited as footsteps pounded from inside. The door swung open to present Trucy Wright: blatant teenager. Blearily she pulled down on the weirdly bunched up cuff of her pyjama top before recognising him in his regular street clothes.

“Ah!” she exclaimed, hand reaching up over her mouth. Broken up specks of blue varnish adorned her nails. “What are you doing here?” Apollo belatedly held out the sweets. Trucy eyed them blankly.

“I wanted to apologise for before,” he said. He was fine; he'd rehearsed this one. “I didn't get a chance to after the trial, but I'm sorry I accused your guardian of murder; I was wrong and neither him nor you deserved to be put through that.” He held Trucy's eye contact. How could someone who looked so tired have such a piercing stare?

“If it's about Eldoon, why did you come when he wasn't here?” she finally asked, blinking at long last.

“Practically, catching him would mean biking around somewhere unfamiliar in the dark,” he started, tapping one finger against the side of the box he held. “Which, uh, no thanks. I value my wallet. And my bike. And my shoes-”

“I don't think anyone around here would steal your shoes Apollo.”

“It's happened before.” That was such a terrible night. Trucy tapped her finger to her chin, eyes glinting mischievously.

“Then again, Eldoon's sandals are wearing a bit thin...” she wondered loudly. Apollo scowled at her.

“Moving swiftly on,” he said through gritted teeth. “I wanted to thank you anyway. I wouldn't have looked any further for the true culprit if it wasn't for you.” He gave her a helpful little smile. Trucy, meanwhile, looked distant.

“So that was you that got them to bring in the actual killer!” she said, a grin spreading on her face.

“...Why does everyone know about that?” he mourned privately.

“Oh, don't worry,” she chirped. “I don't think everyone worked it out.” She tapped just next to one eye. “I just see these things. It's good for a magician, you know!” Well that felt like familiar reasoning. Trucy sighed and crossed her arms, her stage persona dropping back down to normal levels. “Why didn't you just get her as a normal witness though?” she asked.

“Uh... that is...”

“And don't even think of saying 'you'll understand when you're older'-”

“I won't!” Apollo barked indignantly. “I mean, come on, that phrase only exists for sadistic adults to torture kids with.” Or probably when they couldn't think of an actual answer, but wanted to sound important. “It's more... Well you've seen Mr Gavin.” Trucy nodded at him, then shifted her head and nodded more vigorously to herself.

“I can't believe Daddy hung around with him for so long,” she muttered to the door frame. Apollo could slowly see the eggshells creeping under his feet. He opted to keep quiet.

After a long few seconds, Trucy reached out and took the box of gulab jamun from his hands. “I'll tell Eldoon you came over,” she told him, holding up the plastic container to gaze inside. “Maybe he'll even get some of these...”

“Trust me, you really shouldn't eat them all at once.”

“Bet I can anyway!” Apollo chuckled at the echo of his friend's words.

“Not if you don't want to spend the rest of your life only being able to eat puréed peaches, you can't.” Trucy made a face. “Anyway, I should go. Goodbye, Ms Wright!”

“You can call me Trucy, you know,” she said as he backtracked to his bike. He smiled.

“Okay then. Goodbye, Trucy!”

 

Chapter Text

Tuesday was yet another sunny day in a whole line of sunny days. If he was honest, Apollo kind of missed living somewhere with actual rain. But he was glad he could sit outside for lunch so often, away from the sounds and smells of coffee shops pressing down on his senses. As of late, he'd been frequenting a bench in Vitamin Square. He vaguely remembered it being surrounded by construction work when he'd started working nearby; at the time he'd assumed they were building another office complex or fancy restaurant, not a little park, but he supposed even salarymen needed their flowerbeds every now and then. Or would do, if any of them came to use the park. Actually, considering his suspicions about the local money lenders, maybe it was better everyone else ignored his favourite lunch spot.

“Ach, they took it all down?” whined the voice of a passer-by. The very familiar voice of a passer-by. Apollo looked up from the last few bites of his sandwich and twisted to see Klavier Gavin, sunglasses on, briefcase in hand, pout on his face. Just as he was about to continue on his merry way, he caught sight of the very obvious, bright red lawyer sitting alone on a bench. “Ah, Herr Forehead, fancy meeting you here!”

What did you just call me?” he sputtered. The prosecutor strode over and leaned on the back of the bench, letting his briefcase swing over the front.

“Herr Forehead?” Apollo blinked at him bewilderedly. “It seems an obvious nickname, ja? With its blinding expanses shining a light on the-”

“How long have you been calling me that in your inner monologue?” butted in Apollo.

“A while.” He graced Prosecutor Gavin with a dirty look. And here he imagined he was starting to be taken seriously. Apparently taking his death glare as a challenge, Gavin gave him a truly shit-eating grin and poked one ring-festooned finger squarely against his forehead.

“Would you stop that?” Apollo snapped, batting the offending finger away and rubbing at his hand where it caught on the other man's damned jewellery. “My forehead is totally average and un-noteworthy, thank you very much.”

“If you want to kid yourself, Herr Forehead.” Apollo continued to glower at him as he stepped around the edge of the bench and sat down.

“There is no way you came all the way here just to insult my facial proportions,” Apollo said darkly. He knew where the Prosecutor's Building was, and it certainly wasn't close.

“Ach, nein, I'm here on a tip off,” he said lazily. Well the lack of local murder had been nice, but what could you do? “A nice little café's earned the praise of my colleagues, so it seemed only right to check it out, ja?” Apollo raised his eyebrows.

“If it's Trés Bien they're talking about, they're trying to poison you,” Apollo warned, taking a swig from his water bottle.

“That was the place that saw the overcomplicated murder, wasn't it?”

“Yeah, the Phoenix Wright case.

“Ach, what was it... State vs Byrde?” Apollo nodded and shoved the last bit of sandwich in his mouth. He swallowed.

Wait a second. “You know about that case?” He couldn't remember it ever getting discussed in law school; he'd only knew because of how many Phoenix Wright cases he'd looked up on his own. Man, he'd been a nerdy teenager... Oh who was he kidding, putting that in the past tense in his own private thoughts?

“Well, ja,” said Klavier pointedly, shaking his head in happy disbelief. “Wright cases were always the fun ones to study...” He trailed off and looked longways at Apollo. Hurriedly his gaze snapped straight ahead of him and his posture stiffened. ...Did that mean Klavier Gavin, apparent rockstar prosecutor, was as equally nerdy as him? Oh boy, he totally needed more info.

“Prosecutor Gavin!” Apollo gasped in mock scandal. “Do I detect admiration for the Turnabout King?” The sideways glare was back.

“Must be your imagination, Herr Forehead,” he retorted in an unusually dull tone. Apollo felt a slight squeeze on his wrist. Gotcha, Gavin! “I don't see why I would admire a man who tried to fool me with forged evidence on my first trial.” Apollo shrugged. He could get in line; the club was... surely not that big?

“He got you with it too?” asked Apollo hesitantly, racking his brains for the allegations that were everywhere in the legal world back when he was a teenager. The Skye case..? No, he remembered the prosecutor for that one being the Demon Prosecutor. The Engarde case had been iffy... but that had Prosecutor Edgeworth too. The Hazakura Fey case? ...Same prosecutor, said prosecutor's sister, and someone who got poisoned immediately after said prosecutor's first trial. How the hell had Apollo not noticed that pattern before: two people suspected of evidence fraud getting that involved in each other's lives? Prosecutor Gavin was starting to look at him funny. Apollo looked at him past the finger that had at some point made its way to his forehead: his own this time, thankfully. After that, the only case that had any rumours surrounding it was...

Oh.

“You were the prosecution for that case?” concluded Apollo aloud.

“You weren't aware of that?” said Gavin sceptically. Apollo burrowed his stare at his lunch box.

“Well it's not like the records on it are easy to get a hold of,” hissed Apollo, feeling his cheeks flush despite himself. “It still counts as an unsolved case, so since I'm not involved I don't have access to anything other than what we have in the office.” He sighed and grabbed the apricot out of his lunchbox.

“You... have files on that case?” said the prosecutor. His demeanour had twisted into something almost softer than the dramatic performer Apollo had gone up against in court the week before. Apollo swallowed his mouthful of fruit and nodded pensively.

“I found them when reordering the old files at the office, a little while back,” he offered by way of explanation. “'S weird though. They're really patchy compared to all the others from around then: no court transcripts or anything, just the court record, with all the evidence in. Not even the profiles.” He tapped his chin as he took another bite of apricot. “Back then I assumed Mr Gavin had held onto it for Phoenix Wright's sake, but then again...” He took a more forceful bite and tried to push that other trial out of his memory. “It sounded like he'd seen through that little charade well before any murder accusations got flung around.” Ugh, he'd been so blindsided by Wright, and over what? A few cases that looked more and more suspect every time he revisited them? Apollo turned to face his companion. “But, I suppose it would make more sense keeping a little record of his brother's first trial around, right?” Part of Gavin's bangs fell over his eyes as he toyed with his hair. Only a slight smirk was visible to Apollo.

“Ja, I suppose it would.”

A car zoomed past behind them as Apollo let the apricot stone drop back into his lunchbox; he instead pulled out a small plastic container with two of the few remaining gulab jamun he hadn't managed to foist off onto anyone. He could see Gavin eyeing them with interest. Slowly he shuffled out the kitchen paper he'd stuck at the bottom of his lunchbox; the stare continued.

“If you want something, just spit it out,” said Apollo teasingly. It wasn't as if the guy had been reserved beforehand!

“I don't suppose you'd let me have one of those?” Gavin practically stumbled.

“Won't you ruin your own lunch, Prosecutor Gavin?” Apollo taunted back. He could see the other man's jaw shift as if he was trying to refrain from sticking his tongue out. Chuckling, Apollo took pity on him and lifted the box towards him. He took the remaining sweet and grabbed his make-do napkin so that his suit was suitably protected from syrup. As he bit into it, he turned back to Gavin, only to watch on in dismay as the man shoved the whole doughball into his mouth at once. He had no idea that many colours could still be seen through fake tan.

“And that is why you shouldn't take food from strangers,” wheezed Apollo, trying not to choke through his laughter. Gavin's eyes were watering. Steadying himself (or rather, trying to steady himself), Apollo presented his water bottle. A pained swallow, and it was snatched from his hand. “Richer than you thought it was?” he teased, the blond still gulping down water. Gavin just nodded, face still looking red, and handed back the bottle. Apollo grinned at him as he casually took another mouthful of his gulab jamun.

“I should be going,” the prosecutor said in a rush. He swept up his briefcase and lurched to his feet.

“Ah, running away from the scene of the crime, Prosecutor Gavin?” Apollo laughed round a mouthful of rich, milky dough.

“I just wouldn't want to spoil my lunch, ja, Herr Forehead?” Apollo resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at him as he walked back towards the road.



Yet again, the beginning of the week was turning into a mess of anxiety. Apollo probably could've guessed that by the time he tried to walk out the door on Monday morning; some of his Tupperware had apparently been returned overnight, now containing an extra lid (as if he needed any more of the damn things!) and a cardboard patisserie carton. Removing his foot from on top of the box, he bent down and carried it back inside. The cardboard box had a little cartoon fox face printed on, and he felt a bit queasy. The logo bore an alarming similarity to the apron he'd seen Big Wins wearing before. At least he knew which family brought the box back. Eyes flicking to the clock on the kitchen wall, Apollo baulked and rushed out the door, all the while trying very hard not to think about how the Kitakis got his address.

Then of course by the time he'd managed to get to work by the skin of his teeth, fetched the mail, and made himself and Mr Gavin coffee, a client was already through the door in a rush of slicked back hair and dodgy tie pattern. Gruffly he introduced himself as Mr Frank Board and demanded to see his boss.

And then nearly threw a fit upon finding out Kristoph Gavin could not manipulate time itself and appear in two courtrooms at the same time and “your case will be assigned to my apprentice instead, Mr Board”. The glower from the businessman made Apollo wince; the consolatory pat on the shoulder from Mr Gavin didn't help him much.

He ended up discussing the case with Board well past lunchtime, only ending when the man looked at the glittering watch on his wrist and declared himself in a hurry. Apollo would've preferred him admitting that two hours ago when he was complaining about his “terrible, snivelling, waste of space children”.

The door to the office slammed shut and Apollo finally let his head fall to his desk with a resounding thump. Who even started looking for a lawyer two days before having to defend against embezzlement charges in a court of law?

“Justice,” sounded the cool voice of Mr Gavin. Apollo groaned and leant up on his elbows. “Will I have to pull some strings and take on Mr Board's case myself-”

“No, no at all, sir!” Apollo shouted, darting upright in his seat in a flash. Mr Gavin's face relaxed and he nodded to him as he left to meet with someone at the detention centre. Apollo waited until the door closed again before trudging into the kitchenette to make himself the strongest cup of coffee he physically could.



At least on Tuesday he managed to escape the office with reasonable time to spare before his stomach imploded. With a heavy sigh Apollo sat back on his usual Vitamin Square bench and open his lunch box. He'd seriously misjudged how much pasta he could eat last night but hey, pasta salad was fine with him. Before long there was a cry of, “Herr Forehead!” and footsteps coming towards him. He didn't look up from his food.

“I'm guessing the café's good after all,” he said. Gavin sprawled next to him holding a takeaway cup of something hot, and a half eaten pastry.

“Oh, it's wunderbar,” he replied, sipping at his drink. “But it doesn't have the lovely weather.” Apollo looked impassively at the sky: same as ever if you asked him. There was a hefty sigh from next to him. “Not that you have so much of a reason to be here again, Herr Forehead.”

“I eat here,” he said back. “And I got here first, so I don't know what you're on about.” He shovelled more cold, mayonnaisey pasta in his mouth.

“You come here, even though it'll never be the same without the strawberry?” Apollo kept chewing, trying not to let an excessive amount of his confusion leak into his expression. He could see Gavin's grin creeping up on him. Dammit, his curiosity had been exposed! “Ah, so you really are a newbie round here, Herr Forehead,” the prosecutor crooned, accented voice becoming more and more accented as Apollo's eyes narrowed at him. Gavin tucked his drink between his thighs and waved his now free hand, snapping his fingers rhythmically. “The playground equipment that used here,” he explained. “It was all shaped like giant fruits. I think they were trying to encourage kids to eat healthily, ja?” He sighed and leaned back, draping his arms over the back of the bench. “Useless, but a sweet gesture, though.” Apollo felt the sudden urge to punch something from that pun.

“That was pitiful, Prosecutor Gavin,” he grumbled.

“A fan of cherries yourself then?” he shot back, smirking gleefully. Cherries..? Oh. Cherry pit. Apollo felt the sudden urge to punch himself for that (accidental) pun.

“Did you live round here growing up, then?” said Apollo to bring the subject away from terrible jokes. He was fine with just two a day, thanks.

“Nein, I don't remember this ever being a residential area,” he started, staring wistfully at a cypress tree pressed up against one of the low-rise office buildings not too far from the park. “But if Großer Bruder keeps working late and you keep losing your house keys, you learn where teenagers don't get yelled at for loitering. Perils of being eight years the younger, ja?” Gavin toyed with his hair and scrunched up the paper bag his pastry had been wrapped in. Oh boy, was this all that was expected to unlock someone's tragic family backstory these days? Clearly he needed to be more careful about who he sat on a bench a couple of times with.

“Wait, eight years?!” he screeched. A quick bit of maths in his head... “You're only twenty-four years old?!”

“What's that 'only' supposed to mean?!” shouted Gavin indignantly. “I know it's hard to tell people's ages when you're only a teenager but-”

“'Teenager'?! I'm twenty-two!”

What?!” One of the windows of the office with the cypress tree swished open and a head poked through.

“If you two don't stop that racket,” the office worker yelled, “I swear I'm filing a noise complaint!” Attorney at Law Apollo Justice and State Prosecutor Klavier Gavin looked disbelievingly between each other and the plaintiff. Apparently satisfied, the plaintiff yanked the window shut and disappeared.

“But seriously, Herr Forehead, 'only twenty-four'?”

“I thought you'd be closer to Mr Gavin in age, seeing as you look so similar,” Apollo explained, nonchalantly taking a swig of lemonade from his bottle. “Besides, the teenager thing is way worse; I beat you in court for crying out loud!” Gavin just shrugged it off.

“The way Kris talks about you, I thought you were younger,” he said shortly, and sipped at his own drink. So one Kristoph Gavin was the source of all age-based confusion, huh. The prosecutor huffed, pout firmly on lips. “And here I was, thinking you'd be into cheap concert tickets.”

“You would've missed me when I was a teenager too,” Apollo deadpanned.

“But you would at least have had lucky friends, ja?” Apollo decided to keep his face neutral. Yes, because a fledgling career as a scalper would've solved all his high school woes. “Ach, online auction for the unfilled reserves it is.” An idea popped into his head. Lucky friends, huh? A glint in his eye, he dug his phone out of his pocket and flipped through his contacts.

Apollo: Hey Clay are you there?

An awkward silence passed over the two lawyers in Vitamin Square.

Clay: ok are u in trouble or am i gonna get juicy workplace goss?

Apollo: Neither. I bumped into Prosecutor Gavin at lunch and he's trying to sell me concert tickets for cheap.

Clay: wtf is ur life now dude

Clay: WAIT A SEC WHAT CONCERT?

Apollo relayed his friend's insistent message.

Apollo: Guilty as charged tour, July 7, Sunshine Coliseum. Gavin's bragging about normal tickets being sold out.

Clay: NOOOOOOO

Apollo: Do I even want to know?

Clay: I HAVE TO BE AT A SIMULATION THEN

Clay: AND ITS GONNA TAKE ALL NIGHT

Clay: wait a sec pollo

Apollo: ...Now I'm fairly sure I don't want to know.

Clay: u can go in my place!

Clay: pick up all the merch!

Clay: snap some pics!

Apollo: Be alone in an entire building of screaming teenage girls? No.

Clay: polloooooooooo

Apollo: I have my limits Clay. And about 5 of them are crossed by going to see a concert for a band I didn't even know existed 2 weeks ago.

Clay: :((((((

Clay: :(((((((((

Apollo: Clay you can keep sending as many sad faces as you like but you know I'm not budging on this one.

Clay: :(((((((((((((((

Apollo sighed and let a few more sad faces roll in before checking the screen again.

“He wants an autograph,” Apollo said in a bored tone. Maybe he should've just not mentioned it. Gavin waggled his eyebrows.

“Are you sure you're not just a closet fan, Herr Forehead?” he smirked. Apollo thrust the phone at him in response. He went cross-eyed as he read the conversation.

“Something to keep me company in the vast expanse of space, 'Pollo,” the prosecutor read aloud. He looked back at the man holding the phone. “Space?”

“Oh, yeah, he's an astronaut,” Apollo said casually. As his companion opened his mouth to reply, he continued, “and yes I am aware that every single person I know is a million times cooler than me, so don't even bother.” Gavin blinked.

“That wasn't what I was about to say,” he chuckled with a shake of his head. “I was going to suggest we give Herr Clay something a little better than an autograph, ja? Your phone has a camera?” Apollo nodded, catching on and letting himself be pulled shoulder to shoulder to Klavier Gavin, famed rockstar, and holding his phone aloft.

Apollo sent file IMG_10532.jpeg

Clay: DUDE

Clay: DUDE YES

Eventually of course, the two lawyers had to go their separate ways, but Apollo had to admit he felt a little lighter than before. Even with the prospect of continuing to scrabble at heavily incriminating evidence for Board. His heart sank right back down upon actually thinking about it, and he barely reacted to Mr Gavin's joke of his 'taking such a long lunch break to fraternise with the enemy'. Sometimes he could swear that man was psychic.

 

Chapter Text

Apollo admittedly wasn't watching where he was going; he was far too eager to bitch about Board's finished case (outcome: very, very guilty) to the first suitable person, that being Clay. What sort of asshole didn't tell their lawyer about their secret Swiss bank account until court when he knew the opposition was more than aware of it?! Phone already out, he didn't noticed the teenage girl humming and hawing to herself just outside the office. He did notice, however, when he crashed straight into her back, sending the both of them sprawling to the curb. His phone clattered away and he scrambled after it, apologising profusely.

“Oh, great, I was looking for you!” said the girl, audibly winded. Apollo looked over at her as he got back to his feet; Trucy Wright grinned at him and grabbed his wrist.

“Uh, Ms Wri- I mean, Trucy?” he stuttered, stumbling as she tugged him towards the road. “What are you-”

“I need help,” Trucy said urgently, pulling him until he was walking alongside her. “...Well I don't need help, but Ema needs help and I need help to help her an-”

“Okay Trucy, slow down. What's this about 'Ema'?” Trucy looked at him, still walking fast, before suddenly realising something.

“Oh, I mean Detective Skye!” she explained, eyes wide. Apollo's wrist was starting to ache from her grip. “She's in trouble and I don't know anyone else who can help her-”

“Why does she need help?” Apollo asked patiently.

“Because everyone else we know is on the wrong side!” she wailed. “We only know police and prosecutors and people who can't do anything!”

“So Detective Skye's in legal trouble?”

“That's what I've been saying!” It really wasn't... Apollo gazed forwards, still trying to keep up with her power walking and feeling his stomach rumble irritably.

“You're taking me to the detention centre, right?” he sighed. A nod yes. “And you're not taking no for an answer?” A shake of the head no. Apollo heaved another sigh. Well, Mr Gavin was out investigating today... “Alright. But at least let's get a bus; there is no way I'm walking that far.”



This just in; local man hates these chairs!” Apollo narrated in his head. Next to him, Trucy flicked a playing card between her fingers idly, every now and then transforming its face into a different number: ace of spades, king of clubs, queen of diamonds, jack of hearts. Suddenly she waved at someone who brushed past in a long, wine red coat. She pursed her lips as they walked back out into the city without a response.

“Friend of yours?” Before Trucy could reply, a guard silently appeared to usher them to see Detective Skye. Maybe they offered ninja training for them.

“Hi again, Trucy,” Apollo heard Ema say as the teenager flounced into the room. He watched as her face stormed over when she saw him enter too. “Oh. That's who you were talking about.” With a growl, the detective reached into her pocket and pulled out a bag of Snackoos. Was she allowed those while being detained? Wait, no, she was allowed them at fragile crime scenes too; the police just didn't care.

“Well it's him or-”

“Or asking the Lord of Darkness himself, I know,” Ema sighed, words muffled by her chewing. Who the hell..? “Look, Trucy, I'll just wait to get a state appointed lawyer,” she mumbled. “I didn't kill him, so...” She tailed off and began munching forlornly on another Snackoo. “Never mind. Maybe I'll get lucky.” Trucy looked like she was about to cry. Apollo felt guilt boiling in his stomach; he'd read about State vs Skye and how long it'd taken for even her sister to believe she hadn't killed someone.

“Detective Skye,” Apollo piped up. The woman barely moved her eyes to look at him. “It's probably better you take the help you're offered instead of leaving it to chance like that.”

“What, and hiring a rookie isn't leaving it to chance?” Ema snapped.

“A rookie with one win is better than a veteran with none,” Apollo replied calmly. Mr Gavin had told him once about state appointed lawyerhood. Seeing the evidence for the first time in court, not even meeting the client until the trial began, having no time to mount a proper defence: what a horror story. No wonder the conviction rates were so high. Of course his boss had managed to successfully break free of that fate, being good enough at his job he could have people seek him out instead of relying on being assigned to random strangers. Most didn't have that kind of potential, though, as he'd seen when acting as legal aide on more complicated civil cases.

“Please Ema!” begged Trucy, hands clutched together at her chest. “He did really well on the noodle case, remember?” Ema hummed in thought for a moment, tongue poking at one cheek.

“Well I guess the tip off shows he's not completely terrible-”

“You know about that too?!” groaned Apollo.

“How do you think the prosecution found out?” shot Ema. Her eyebrows lowered and she angrily jabbed the separating glass panel with one finger. “And it didn't even get him all embarrassed in court! Useless!”

“I can't be blamed for Gavin's reaction!” Apollo protested. “...Wait, why exactly did you want to-”

“But you did win so...” Apollo held his hands up in defeat and finally slumped into a chair.

“Does this mean you're willing to let me defend you, Ms Skye?” he asked, rubbing at one temple. Ema chewed slowly, eyes narrowed.

“We'll see...” Well, he had to decide if he wanted to do this anyway...



“Right,” Ema started, letting her snack bag rest in her lap. “So the Glimmerous Fop roped me into security for his stupid concert-”

“Uh, 'Glimmerous Fop'?” asked Apollo. Couldn't she stick to actual names like normal people did? Ema rolled her eyes and flicked a Snackoo at the lawyer so fast he didn't even see her hands move. The crunchy dough smacked ineffectively against the glass.

“Prosecutor Gavin,” clarified Trucy.

“He threatened to cut my paycheck if I didn't help out last night, so there I was, backstage at the Sunshine Coliseum, bored, surrounded by the Fop's stupid, loud, glimmerous music, when I hear gunshots. So I rush into the dressing room to see what the hell happened, and there was a guy lying on the floor surrounded by blood.” She shuddered. “Horrible bullet wounds, ripped right through his-”

“Okay, Ms Skye, we don't need it in that much detail,” said Apollo, stomach turning. How anyone could recall something that gruesome so dispassionately was beyond him.

“I called for back up,” she continued. “It took a while for it to arrive, but I stayed in the dressing room the whole time so no one disturbed the scene.” Ema reached into her Snackoo bag again and Apollo heard a distinct crunch. “And then they went and said I'd killed the guy! Me! The head of security!”

“Did you see anyone else around the time of the shooting?” Apollo asked.

“I already said I didn't. There were shots, I went into the room, I saw the victim already dead, I called for help. I didn't see anyone else while I was in there.” Viscerally she bit down on a Snackoo, sending crumbs flying.

“Well that's why they arrested you,” grumbled Apollo under his breath.

“What was that?”

“Uh, nothing. Did you know the victim?”

“Nope.” She chewed. Apollo twirled his hand in a gesture to continue. “Okay, I saw him a couple of times, but we never talked. I know he was Lamiroir's manager...” Great, that was someone new!

“Who's Lamiroir?” The name sounded vaguely familiar to Apollo, but he couldn't for the life of him place it.

“A singer,” Ema explained with a shrug. “She was performing with the Gavinners for whatever godforsaken reason.”

“I'm guessing you're not a fan,” he joked. She fixed Apollo with a look. He cleared his throat awkwardly. “So you hadn't met the victim before the concert.”

“Never.” Apollo's bracelet remained loose on his wrist. No motive for killing him then: good.

“Alright, Ms Skye,” Apollo eventually said, clapping his hands together. “I'll just need to double-check with my boss, but I would be happy to defend you in court...”

“Tomorrow.”

“Right.” Apollo pulled his phone from his pocket and quickly selected Mr Gavin's number.

“Justice?” sounded the voice of his boss.

“Hello, sir, I'm down at the detention centre with a potential client.”

“That would explain why I returned to an empty office.” He was back from investigating already?!

Apollo chuckled nervously. “Sorry, sir, I was ambushed on my lunch break and forcibly dragged down here.” Trucy didn't even have the decency to look sheepish. Apollo turned away as a sigh made its way through the phone.

“This sort of thing could only happen to you,” he just barely caught. “This client?”

“A detective accused of murdering some singer's manager last night at a concert.”

“Ah, this would be at the Sunshine Coliseum, in that case?”

“You knew about that, sir? I thought it was a rock concert...” There was a long silence on the other end of the line. “...Are you still there, Mr Gavin?”

“Justice, please think about your questions before you ask them,” the voice chided. “It will save us all much embarrassment in the future.” Apollo tried to contain his blushing; no need to show his slip up to the people in the room. He could practically see his boss there with him as it was, rubbing his eyes beneath his glasses as he did.

“Right, your brother.”

“Correct. Now you were saying about this detective?”

“She didn't even know the victim; looks like they only arrested her because she was there. Should be quite a simple case to defend against, sir.”

“From what I am aware, my brother's little band contained more than one other member of law enforcement.” Was it really that little? Prosecutor Gavin could only exaggerate his record sales so much, surely. “They're no doubt desperate, if a murder happened right under the nose of the law.”

“You think this might be a cover up, sir?”

“That is certainly a possibility. I assume the trial is tomorrow?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then it conflicts with my schedule...” Apollo crossed his fingers and took a deep breath. This really didn't count as a 'little' thing to take on on his own, what with the murder and all...

“Mr Gavin, sir? If you don't need me beside you in court tomorrow, I'm willing to take on her case.” There was a pause where he could only hear Mr Gavin's breaths.

Finally, “I see.” Perfectly neutral. “Very well then, I entrust this to you, Justice. Do not fail me.”

“Thank you, sir!” The line beeped before he got his whole sentence out. He turned back to Ema. She and Trucy appeared to be communicating to some extent via hand gestures. Had they been doing that behind his back the whole time? “Well, Ms Skye, if you would allow me-”

“One more thing,” the detective said, smile ever so slightly malevolent. “I'm not letting you do anything unless you have Trucy here with you in your investigation.” Had... had he heard that right?

“I'm sorry, what?!”

“I'm still with the police,” she grinned. “So like hell am I letting you run around without proper supervision. Who knows what evidence you'll forge when I'm not looking.” This couldn't be real.

“Please don't tell me you think a teenager counts as supervision... And hey, I haven't forged anything!!!” Next to him, Trucy winced, hands covering her ears. Apollo wasn't particularly in the mood to apologise for that one. Ema leaned back in her chair, arms folded.

“Those are my terms,” she said tersely. “Take Trucy with you, or take your ass home.” Well he could hardly just call Mr Gavin back now.

“Fine.” Apollo couldn't believe he was actually doing this.

 

Chapter Text

Apollo clutched his letter of request tightly as he paid the cab driver. Receipt tucked safely away in his trusty satchel, he walked alongside Trucy past the throngs of reporters and towards the back entrance of the Coliseum. There were posters all over the place, and someone was selling balloons from inside some sort of blue mascot costume. Apollo shivered.

“Hey, Apollo, we should get balloons,” chirped Trucy.

“If you're not going to take this seriously, I'll just send you home, you know.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

“If you do, I'm telling Ema,” she sang. “She wasn't kidding about booting you off if you try to get rid of me.”

“Are you seriously trying to blackmail me, Trucy?” he said thunderously. His first murder case without his boss' help and this was what it had already come down to. No wonder Mr Gavin was so reluctant to trust him. Trucy frowned, hands on hips. “Why did she want you over here anyway?”

“She already told you that,” she scolded. “I'm here so you don't forge evidence.” A motion caught Apollo's eye: one gloved hand adjusting the brooch holding her cape closed. Strange... Apollo was sure it had been a diamond last time he'd seen it, not some odd smiley face. Eh, maybe that was like changing t-shirts for her. “Hey, Apollo? Your eyes are going weird...”

“Oh, uh, sorry,” he hurried. “Just zoned out there for a bit.” He forced out a chuckle and ignored the intense gaze of the girl beside him. It felt unnervingly like something sinister was happening behind the scenes that no one had bothered to clue him in on. That or some stupid sitcom plot, and Ema was trying to set him and Trucy up. He resisted the urge to retch and tried to put that well out of his head. That would be even more sinister. “L-let's just hurry up and get to work then.”



“No unauthorised personnel,” droned an exhausted looking man in a security uniform, towering at least a foot above Apollo's height.

“I'm authorised,” he said coolly, handing over Ema's letter and letting him scan it. “I'm the accused's lawyer; I'm here to investigate.” The security guard sighed through his nose.

“And the girl?” Both of them looked over at Trucy, top hat and cape bouncing up and down with the rest of her. “I'm not getting paid to just let fans in and gawk.”

“She's my assistant,” Apollo said firmly. The guard raised his eyebrows disbelievingly. Did Ema not put that properly in her letter? Ugh, he should've read it more carefully! Apollo quickly gave Trucy's outfit a once over as he reached for some sort of excuse. The face of Disappointed Gavin (trademark pending) could get out of his head, thanks. “She's a performer herself,” he settled on. “I require her expertise to contextualise aspects of this case.” The guard nodded, apparently too tired to argue, and stepped aside to let them pass. Big words: a lawyer's best friend.

“Vigilante of justice, Trucy Wright is ready and roaring to go!” cheered the magician the instant the door to the outside had closed.

“Vigilante of justice, Trucy Wright is advised not to mess with things,” Apollo retorted, blinking as his eyes slowly adjusted to the dim backstage hallway. “If we get chucked out of the crime scene we're both screwed.”

“Don't worry Apollo,” she said teasingly, wagging a finger at him. “I'm willing to take you on as my sidekick!”

“I think you'll find, according to every comic ever, that I, with my adulthood and proper job, would be taking you, with your adolescence and offbeat attitude, on as my sidekick.” Trucy paused and tapped a finger against her chin.

“I don't know,” she pondered. “You're trying to use maturity in an argument about superheroes... I'm just not sure I'm convinced.” Apollo glared. She had a point. He was not about to admit that, however.

Instrument cases were piled up neatly against one wall of the corridor, by a vending machine. His stomach grumbled jealously. He looked at the prices. His stomach promptly shut up.

“Ooh look!” squealed Trucy. “A Blue Badger doll! I heard it's the mascot of the Gavinners now!” Apollo spun away from the overpriced vending machine and gazed at the blue plush figurine. “Loads of girls at school have them... Apollo, we should take a photo with it!”

“What, why?!”

“We can put it online when there's a giveaway going and get some sweet band merch!” Apollo sputtered indignantly.

“I don't want any band merch! I've never even listened to their music!” Then again... for Clay..? Apollo was glad when the logical part of his brain kicked in again. “Besides, I'm fairly sure they'd notice if we took a picture here. The case it's on has all kinds of information on it.” Trucy thought for a moment, then reached out towards the doll. “Don't touch that!” Apollo scolded. “You'll get fingerprints on it-”

“I'm wearing gloves, Apollo.”

“Well then you'll get microfibres on it!” he snapped. Trucy huffed and turned away from the Blue Badger. Satisfied that no information had been gained from the toy, he continued down to the dressing room doors and checked the panels either side. “Hey, Trucy, did Ms Skye say which dressing room she found the body in?” The magician hummed in thought, before shaking her head. Decidedly she opened the door labelled Gavinners and went inside. Oh for... “Wait for me, will you?”

Apollo was fairly sure they'd ended up in the wrong room, considering the lack of blood. Then again, it was hard to tell with all the police stuff... “I know some of the members of the Gavinners work for the police, but isn't this a little much?” he thought out loud. Trucy gasped dramatically.

“Don't tell me you don't know!” Apollo raised an eyebrow. “The police is the Gavinners' thing! Every single member is tied to the law in some way. They even share their mascot with the actual police!” Surely that was verging on the edge of propaganda..?

“...The Blue Badger is the police's official mascot?!” said Apollo incredulously. Come to think of it, he had seen it outside the police department on occasion. Wriggling. Creepily.

Gosh Apollo, I know that and I'm not even much of a fan of Gavinners stuff!” Before he could retort, the door to the dressing room nigh slammed open and a man with the longest pompadour Apollo had ever seen marched forcefully inside. Bit Freudian, wasn't it?

“Hey,” snarled the newcomer, letting the door shut behind him. Light shone off his sleek jacket as he approached. “What do you think you're doing in here?” Apollo hurriedly pushed his lapel forwards.

“Detective Skye's lawyer: here for investigation,” he recited, and got ready to present his letter of request again. The man halted and looked between the pair.

“The crime scene's next door,” he said brusquely. “This room's for us police only, so scoot.” He grabbed a plastic folder of something from the messy coffee table and shooed them out of the room, the rings on his hand glinting menacingly.

“Ooh, can I get an autograph first?” asked Trucy excitedly, reaching behind her and pulling out a notebook and pen from somewhere Apollo daren't imagine. “Pleeeeeeease Mr Crescend!” Apollo was relieved to see that he wasn't the only one affected by that face; it took less that three seconds for Crescend to give in and tuck his folder beneath his arm.

Once they had been escorted back into the corridor, newly acquired autograph in tow, Apollo turned to Trucy. “I thought you said you weren't a fan.”

“I'm not,” she replied. “But I know what Daryan Crescend looks like.” Apollo filed that name away in his memory in case they bumped into him again later. “I wonder how much his autograph is going for online right now...” He looked incredulously over at Trucy. She smiled. “A girl needs her pocket money, Apollo!”

“You sneaky little... Anyway, let's see what else we can find round here.” Together they pushed open the door to Lamiroir's dressing room.



This dressing room contained significantly more blood. And white tape. And police. “Oh, I recognise you.” Apollo looked up towards a tall man with bleached white hair braided with black beads and tied up with what looked suspiciously like a forensics arm band. “Mr... Forehead, wasn't it?” Three guesses who he'd heard about him from, then. Could the floor please come through for him just this once and swallow him, please?

“Apollo Justice,” he said miserably, holding his hand out. The forensics guy took it, rings digging into his palms. Had he missed a memo somewhere; were rings just the in thing nowadays? “Detective Skye's lawyer.”

“Andy Prince,” returned the newly named forensics guy. “Forensics team, Gavinners keyboardist.”

“Prince..?” Apollo echoed. “I thought Prince was someone else...”

“Yeah, I'm not the only Prince in forensics,” he said by way of explanation. “The one you met, what colour hair did they have?” Apollo cast his mind all the way back to Meraktis Clinic.

“Brown.”

“That'd be Finn, then. God, I haven't actually seen him in years...” Apollo cleared his throat.

“Mr Prince, I'll need some information on the crime,” he said. Time to do an actual thing! Prince straightened slightly and nodded.

“The victim was Romein LeTouse, the manager of Lamiroir and her little pianist kid. He was shot twice with a high caliber weapon and died from blood loss.” Apollo sheepishly followed Prince's line of sight as it travelled over to the wall. Two bullets sat firmly embedded, cracking the paint.

“That's... a seriously powerful gun,” he murmured.

“No kidding,” Prince said casually. Apollo clearly didn't have the stomach for forensics work, if that level of indifference was expected. “Without proper training, the recoil from a gun like that could full out dislocate your shoulder.” Remind him not to play with guns. Ever. Prince rubbed at his chin thoughtfully. “We know for a fact the murder took place in the third set of the concert last night. You see, Lamiroir was in here briefly in the break between sets, and didn't report anything odd.”

“Surely that puts suspicion on her,” interrupted Apollo. “After all, this is her dressing room, right? And her manager! People are usually murdered by people who know them, not some stranger.” Prince hummed in agreement.

“Thing is, Mr Justice,” he said, “the Gavinners' dressing room and the corridor just outside were chock full of staff and performers all through the break; any massive gunshots and we all would've heard for sure.” 'We'? Damn, that meant he could testify that for himself.

“Even so...” he protested. “Couldn't she have done it before the break, and gone in during it to hide evidence?”

“Nope.” Apollo's face fell as he was handed a program for the concert. First set: Gavinners; second set: Lamiroir ft Machi Tobaye and Klavier Gavin; third set: Gavinners. Apollo didn't recognise a single one of the songs listed alongside the names. “Trust me when I say Lamiroir was onstage; all of us could hear her through the speakers.” At the attorney's questioning look, Prince gestured to a spot above the door.

“That looks just like the PA system we have at school!” Trucy commented. Oh yeah, still literally a teenager.

“Works just like it too probably,” said Prince. “It plays through the whole gig so we don't miss our cues.” Apollo made a mental note to jot that down once he was done talking.

“Mr Prince, what was the state of the body?” Apollo asked. “I got some details from my client when she found the victim.” He made sure to fix the man with a steely glare as he recounted his talk with Ema. “But...”

“He totally chickened out,” whispered Trucy. Apollo held back the urge to turn his steely glare onto a new target. In his peripheral vision he could see Trucy give Prince a cheery thumbs up, and the policeman laughed lightly.

“I'll get you a picture,” he acquiesced, smirk twitching. It wasn't that funny, dude... He turned to Trucy as Prince walked off to one of the forensics team closer to the blood stains.

“Do you mind?” he hissed. “I'm trying to be professional here!” The magician stuck her tongue out at him.

“For a lawyer, maybe.”

“That's because I am a lawyer!”

“Well they're not,” she stated, hands firmly planted on hips.

“They're still law enforcement. I don't know whatever the hell it is magicians do, but we act in a mature fashion to each other!”

“And then no one actually likes each other either.” Her gaze flicked away from his. “I should know; Daddy's in law.”

“Daddy's in jail!” snapped Apollo, thoroughly fed up with her criticism. “There's a difference!” Trucy's gaze flicked straight back to his, blank and frozen. Well he'd said it now; backing down would just show weakness. He held her stare.

A tap on the back of his head broke their stupor. “Photo for ya.” Apollo turned on his heel, neutral expression returned to his face and took the proffered copy of the autopsy report. Next to him, Trucy shifted round so her entire body was facing the two of them. Apollo looked at the picture clipped to the file and winced. If he squinted he could actually see the floor through his- ugh! Focus on something else, Justice!

“That gun,” he started. He looked over at where it would've been in real life, had the police not taken it in as evidence. “Is that the murder weapon?” Prince nodded.

“Yep: the 45-caliber revolver itself. Way bigger than what the police carry, just for reference.” Apollo frowned.

“How did it get here then?” he asked. “If it didn't come from the police at a police event.” Seriously, there was no way they could heap all the blame for that onto one person.

“Well, uh...” Prince nervously scratched at his nose. “That's classified information, I'm afraid.” Apollo blinked at him.

“So Interpol are involved,” he stated, watching as the man shot back in shock. “...And that was enough confirmation for me, thank you.”

“What's Interpol?” asked Trucy, obviously feeling left out.

“The International Police force,” Apollo answered. “They tend to keep things under wraps, since their operations are so big. Makes it pretty obvious when you've wandered into the middle of things though, because everything suddenly goes quiet if you don't have proper clearance.”

While I can't confirm or deny the involvement of Interpol,” rushed Prince, cutting Apollo's explanation off, “they may or may not be the reason that gun is here...” Apollo raised an eyebrow.

“You don't have clearance to talk about it, right?” he said mirthfully.

“That's the gist of it,” groaned Prince. “Look man, all I know is Interpol were staking out the concert last night, well before any Borginian nationals got murdered. Klavier and Daryan are higher in the ranks than the rest of us, so they might have a clue.” Prince sighed heftily. “Not that they bothered warning us there was a mission going on...” Apollo nodded sympathetically, before looking back at the autopsy report. Good to know.

 

Chapter Text

The photo of LeTouse's body still grossed Apollo out to look at. Blood smears... a dying message, cruelly erased by the killer? “Mr Prince?” he said, just as the man was about to get back to his work. “It looks like the victim was holding something when this picture was taken. What was it?” He watched carefully as Prince's back froze up and he slowly turned back around.

“Oh, haha, that?” He rubbed at his nose again. “Just a keyring...”

“A keyring?”

“Yep. A keyring. With keys. And a ring.” Prince clapped his hands together, fingers idly toying with his jewellery.

“Mr Prince,” Apollo said firmly. “I think you know where this keyring came from.”

“Oh, no,” he insisted, fiddling again. “I have no idea whose it is. For all I know it could be the victim's...” Apollo let himself focus in on Prince's hands. Gotcha!

“Mr Prince,” said Apollo. Prince jumped. “You wear several rings. I've noticed both Gavin and Crescend wearing similar ones, in fact. Am I correct in assuming they are somewhat of a Gavinners trademark?”

“Actually, now you mention it,” piped up Trucy, tapping her mouth. “Every promo piece I've seen in magazines and stuff has all the band members with rings. Even the beach ones.”

“Do I even want to know what you were doing with beach photos of the Gavinners?”

“I'm a teenager, Apollo, I have needs.”

“So... no, I don't want to know,” he concluded, before shaking his head and looking back at a very sheepish Prince. “It's only natural you'd come to associate your rings with your band, in that case.” He smiled. “So it's very interesting you're playing with them whenever you mention that keyring.”

“Hey, can't a man have a nervous tic in piece?” grumbled Prince.

“Up till the keyring came up, you were scratching your nose instead,” Trucy commented.

“Which member of the Gavinners are you trying to protect, Mr Prince?” Apollo pressed. “Or do I have to track them all down until one of them folds?” Prince looked back and forth between the two confronting him, before letting out an almighty groan and pushing his hands into his coat pockets.

“Fine. You got me. The keyring belongs to Klavier.”

“What?!” screeched Apollo and Trucy simultaneously.

“But if the victim was holding Prosecutor Gavin's keys...” Trucy gasped. “Then that puts him as the killer,” Apollo finished in his head.

“He must've been framed!” insisted Prince. “No way could he've done it; he was on stage with us the entire time!”

“Are you sure that wasn't his very similar-looking-from-a-distance brother?” asked Trucy. “I mean have you heard them talking? They sound way the same!”

“One,” said Apollo, interrupting the girl's flight of fantasy. “I think Mr Gavin would die before putting on as ridiculous an accent as his brother-”

“It's not ridiculous, Apollo, it's cool!” What was the world coming to these days?

“Two; Mr Gavin did not come into the office this morning smelling of fake tan and hairspray. And three; Mr Gavin only plays piano and violin, not... it was guitar that Prosecutor Gavin plays in the band, right?” Prince nodded, whereas Trucy was just tapping her chin in thought.

“Why do you even know what instruments your boss plays?” she asked.

“...We've been working together for years, Trucy,” Apollo returned. “It's not exactly odd to know a random piece of trivia here and there.” He shook his head; he was being led off topic. “Anyway, Prosecutor Gavin didn't have an opportunity to kill LeTouse for as long as he was onstage, and he has a hell of a lot of witnesses to that. An entire audience of witnesses. Who would probably give their firstborn to bail him out if they asked...” The little voice in his head that liked to mimic Mr Gavin was yelling at him for being so easily distractable again. “Someone else had his keys on the night of the crime.”

“Which is what I told you to start with,” grumbled Prince. “Detective Skye must've stolen Klavier's keyring and planted it on the victim to frame him; she certainly hates him enough, from what I've heard!”

“But if they were stolen, Prosecutor Gavin would've noticed and asked people to look out for them, surely,” Apollo tried to reason. “So maybe he knew-”

“Oh, that's right!” started Prince. “You wouldn't know, but he was complaining about his keys going missing all afternoon!”

“Oh.” There went all suspicion on the rockstar prosecutor, then.

“Since his bike key and guitar case key and-”

“Okay, yes, I get what you're saying, Mr Prince, sorry for accusing your bandmate.” Jeez, he was just doing his job here! “Around what time did Prosecutor Gavin notice his keyring was missing?” Prince closed his eyes and hummed thoughtfully.

“I'm not sure...” he admitted. “He didn't say anything when we were all having breakfast together at the hotel, but after we'd all split up, he had to get a taxi to the coliseum.” Apollo nodded. Was there a way he could use that time frame to make a case for Ema? Clearly he needed to talk to his client again.

“Thank you, Mr Prince,” he said. “That's all for now; if we have any more questions, we'll come back.” Prince sighed and wandered back to the rest of his team, leaving Apollo to remove his trusty satchel and get out his notebook. As he scribbled, Trucy reached back and brought out a bright pair of frilly underwear from behind her back. Apollo felt he'd seen them before somewhere, but was fairly sure he'd blocked the memory out for a reason.

“One, two, three!” Trucy counted, showmanship radiating off her. A little puff of smoke erupted from her bloomers, and she held up a tiny jar. Apollo side-eyed the policeman that were now applauding her, including Prince. How bored were they, exactly? “C'mon, Apollo, time to do some real investigating!” Apollo blinked up at her, pen still held to paper.

“We've been doing that for the past half hour, Trucy,” he said. She put her hands on her hips, the panties disappearing right before Apollo's eyes.

“No we haven't!” she argued. “We haven't dusted even a single print!” Trucy held aloft the jar again.

“...You're actually serious,” Apollo muttered to himself. “Look, Trucy, you can't just go round doing that at a crime scene. That's what the forensics department are for.” She stuck her bottom lip out. Not this time, Trucy Wright. When Apollo just went back to his notes, she turned and skipped over to Prince again.

“Hey, Mister,” she chirped. “Apollo's being a pain in the butt right now, so can you help me instead?” Apollo glared at the girl over his notebook and kept writing. Even brazen evasion of Justice couldn't stop him from being actually professional! “Just a little bit of fingerprint finding? Please?” He knew that smile was back. He refused to look at it, lest he too be enthralled. There was a chuckle and he heard Prince rise from his knees.

“Sure, why not? Anywhere you wanted to look?” Deeming the coast probably clear, Apollo hazarded a glance towards the two. Trucy was pretending to be deep in thought, hand tapping at her hat.

“You're treating this as a locked room mystery, right?” she asked.

“Well it's not a mystery at all if Skye killed him.”

“Well if it wasn't her,” sighed Trucy, “I'd look for how the real killer escaped!” Comically she held her hand to the side of her mouth and in a stage whisper continued, “I'll tell you a little magician secret, if you promise not to tell anyone.” Prince nodded vehemently. Apollo tried to appear as if he wasn't watching on intently. Trucy pointed to the ceiling, just beside the door. “If I wanted to disappear from this room, I'd use that vent.” The eyes of both men trailed towards the exit they'd missed before.

“Wow, we hadn't thought to check there before,” stated Prince, grabbing the nearby ladder and setting it up. “Thanks, Miss!”

“Can I use the powder?!” begged Trucy, bouncing on the balls of her feet and balling her hands. “After all, I'm trained by a professional!” Prince hummed to himself, eyes closed.

“If you're referring to Ms Skye,” Apollo butted in, “then she really can't count as a professional after last time.” Trucy spun round to glare at him.

“What do you mean 'after last time'?” she cried angrily, hands back at her waist. “She was the only one who got it right back then, even when everyone else got all messed up!” Apollo felt himself inch back; looked like he'd hit a sore spot, huh.

“Sorry,” he said, arms folding defensively. “With so many people getting on my case for something I didn't do, I guess I forgot how to be a reasonable human being.” Hopefully the sarcasm was enough to hide the fact that, with Mr Gavin grumbling about her, it really had slipped his mind how much the detective's findings had tied the Kitaki case together. Watching as Trucy's smile returned, Apollo shrunk back into his note taking.

“Mr Prince?” he said hopefully. “Do you mind if I take a picture of the crime scene for my own reference?” He got a thumbs up in reply, and dug his phone from his pocket. Three unread messages from Clay. Quickly he launched the camera and snapped a couple of larger shots of the entire dressing room, since the photo of the body showed little else. Satisfied, he checked everyone else was hard at work and switched into his messages.

Clay: heeeeey pollo happy lunch break

Clay: aw is ur boss being a miseryguts abt letting u out again :(

Clay: OMG POLLO SOMEONE DIED AT THAT GAVINNERS CONCERT LAST NIGHT HOLY SHIT I WAS ALMOST WENT THER WTF

Apollo chuckled under his breath and quietly tapped out his own reply.

Apollo: I know. I'm on the case for it right now :)

A few seconds passed, before the screen scrolled up to welcome a new message.

Clay: UR WHAT

Clay: HOLY MOLEY DUDE U GET THE BEST CASES EVER

Clay: FIRST GANGSTERS NOW ROCKSTARS

Apollo: Guess who is literally backstage in the dressing rooms right at this second :)

Clay: NO WAY

Clay: pics or it didnt happen

Apollo: Nice try but that's illegal. You're a civilian.

Clay: a FRIENDLY civilian

Apollo: The law does not care about friendship Clay.

“Aha!” crowed a victorious Trucy Wright from the vent. “Found some!”

“Great work!” replied Prince. There resounded the smacking sound of a high five. “Now, let's see who these babies belong to!”

Apollo: Gah I've got to go. Things are happening.

Clay: k good luck w/ ur things

Apollo tucked his phone away and wandered back to where Trucy and Prince stood staring at the little fingerprint scanner between them.

“Huh,” said Prince. “What on earth was Machi doing up here?”

“Machi?” queried Apollo. Prince jerked around at the sound of his voice, jarring the ladder and making Trucy wobble on her perch. “Who's that?”

“Machi Tobaye, Lamiroir's pianist,” he said, tilting the scanner so Apollo could see the screen. “They were sharing the dressing room, but still... I can't think why he would need to use the vents.”

“I think we'll need a little talk with Mr Tobaye, in that case,” Apollo said, stepping out of the way as Trucy hopped back to the floor, cape fluttering as she went. “Is he in police questioning or..?” Prince shook his head.

“No, he and Lamiroir are both back in their hotel rooms, but you probably won't get anything out of them.”

“Why not?” Apollo asked. He could be plenty persuasive when he needed to be, thank you!

“Well, Mr Justice, do you speak Borginian?” Apollo looked blankly at the policeman. “Didn't think so.”

“Surely they have an interpreter if they don't speak English!” Apollo shot back.

“They did,” Prince said lightly. “But last night... he was brutally murdered!”

“What?!” Apollo shrieked. Another one?! Just how dangerous were these musicians?! He watched as Prince double over with laughter.

“Man, Klavier wasn't half kidding when he said you were easy to wind up,” he wheezed, before straightening up again. “But seriously, we're having to ship in a Borginian interpreter from out of state just to get them home safely, now that LeTouse is out of action.” Oh. Right. The Borginian manager would probably speak Borginian and English, huh. “But considering this little situation we have going, I'm going to see if they can't hurry them up a bit.” He sighed. “Hey, Miss, thanks for helping me out here. Klavier would've had my neck if we'd overlooked that and you guys'd brought it up in court.”

“So Prosecutor Gavin's assigned to this case?” asked Apollo, as Trucy's voice overlapped him anyway.

“Does this mean I can get an autograph as a reward?” she grinned, pen and paper already in hand. Prince smiled back and signed it with a flourish. “Gavinner get! Do I get a prize if I find you all?”

“What,” grunted Apollo.

“You know,” said Trucy, poking his shoulder. “Like with the Badgers at Gatewater Land! Total rip-off by the way. I only ever found the Bad Badger by getting into the storerooms and having Daddy put on the suit.”

“Funny story,” chimed in Prince. “Gatewater Land was one of the first venues the Gavinners played at!” Trucy oohed appropriately. “Then there was that murder...” he muttered.

“Small world, huh.”

“No, Apollo,” said Trucy pensively. “'Small World' is at somewhere else I think.” Apollo resisted the urge to thump his head against the bullet laden wall. After all, that would just destroy the evidence.



Apollo was glad he had Mr Gavin to name-drop. He made it much easier to circumvent normal detention centre visiting hours.

“So what did you drag me away from dinner for?” growled Ema, currently snackless (though obviously not by choice).

“Well after some investigation another lead's come up,” explained Apollo, reaching for his notebook.

“Look if you're just gonna talk at me it can wait until tomorrow,” said Ema grumpily, standing to leave.

“Wait! Ms Skye! I do need to get a statement from you!” Ema raised an eyebrow, and slowly sank back into her seat.

“I'm listening.”

“Where were you yesterday morning?” Silence fell for a while, Ema puffing one cheek out and poking it idly.

“I was at the scene of a robbery all morning,” she finally said. “But the investigation was all wrapped up by mid-afternoon so I still had to go to that Glimmerous Fop's stupid concert.” Apollo's eyes widened. This was better than he could've imagined!

“So there were other police as witnesses who can confirm your location?” Apollo rushed out.

“I suppose so, yeah,” she hummed. “I can give you the references if you really want them.” Apollo nodded, and flipped over a page in his notebook.

This was going to be too easy!

...Not that he was complaining.

 

Chapter Text

He was Apollo Justice, and he was fine! Apollo shuffled through his notes a final time before placing them on the bench and determinedly stopped fidgeting. The bench still felt empty to him on his own, especially now he had to fend off the death penalty rather than just prison time. He was fine; he had a clear case pointing to a different culprit. A complete acquittal was well within his sights! The gallery looked, if anything, even younger than his last face off with Prosecutor Gavin, the recent concert clearly having drawn in the crowds. Great, now he felt bad about presenting a photo of a guy with his chest ripped through. On the opposite side of the court, Apollo watched as the prosecution made his way to the bench, looking more pissed off than he thought possible from a man who was still technically smiling.

Apollo thought back to his little patch of research on the concert the previous night; and boy, did he never intend to visit the Gavinners fan forum again, for his sense of style's sake! The band's official site had had a bit of information on Lamiroir (a landscape painter in sound, whatever that meant), though sadly missed out Machi by anything but name. Meanwhile, forums had provided him with a wonderful viral video of Prosecutor Gavin struggling as his guitar burst into flames. Apollo caught Gavin's eye from across the room; he got the distinct feeling the prosecutor knew exactly why he was fighting a grin. ...Did laughing at his misfortune make Apollo a bad person? Eh, if not, gossiping about the footage with Clay probably sealed the deal. The video was fairly poorly recorded though, so other than something to cheer him up after an hour of scrolling through ugly purple headers and massive gaudy logos and stupid cruddy autoplay, it seemed irrelevant. Though it would've been fun to bring up, just to see Prosecutor Gavin's reaction. Apollo shook himself out of that train of thought. “All rise!” The babble from the gallery faltered as the gavel came down.



“Court is now in session for the trial of Ema Skye,” said the judge.

“The defence is ready, Your Honor.”

“The prosecution is A-OK, Herr Judge!” Gavin lilted. Apollo looked over at him doubtfully; that was not a very 'A-OK' fiddle with his hair.

“Hmm, very well, Prosecutor Gavin,” hummed the judge.

“Ach, my opening statement, ja?”

“No, no, actually.” Apollo jolted. Okay, that was a new one. Did the trial get called off or something? “There was something else I wanted to ask you about.” At least Gavin seemed as confused as him.

“...Yes?” The judge sighed, low at the back of his throat.

“Say you're going to visit someone in the hospital with an incurable disease,” he began. “What do you say to them?” Prosecutor Gavin made a confused little noise. Apollo was inclined to agree. What the hell happened to the murder trial? “I mean, you wouldn't say 'get well soon', right? You'd only be kicking them when they're down...”

“Um, Your Honor?” Apollo cut in, doing his damnedest to put on the most placating smile he could for His Worryingly Distracted Honor. “May I ask what this is about?”

The judge cleared his throat. “Actually I'm going to visit someone who is terminally ill.” He rearranged his robes. “Right after this trial, of course.” Well everyone had kind of assumed that already. “The Chief Justice's son.”

“The... Chief Justice...?” Apollo echoed weakly. Apparently the grapevine had forgotten to give him that particular memo. Thanks for nothing, Mr Gavin's connections!

“His son is afflicted with a most terrible disease,” the judge continued. “He doesn't have long, it seems, so I thought I'd go pay him a visit. I thought saying something moving might be the order of the day.” The air settling in the courtroom was filled with the sound of silence. Someone, somewhere, sneezed. A mumbled 'bless you' followed. “...In any case,” the judge finally broke in, “I'm a bit busy today, so let's wrap this up quickly. Prosecutor Gavin, your opening statement, briefly!”

“You're in luck, Herr Judge,” replied Gavin with a smile towards Apollo. “You'll be off to your hospital visit sooner than you think, right Herr Forehead?” ...Really, dude?!

“Prosecutor Gavin,” Apollo shot, “in case you weren't aware, this is a court of law. Please do not undermine the severity of the situation with silly nicknames.” Gavin's smile froze in place as his eyes blinked repeatedly . Heh,he'd pulled off his Elder Gavin impression correctly then. Score one for Justice! A few murmurs and chuckles rung from the gallery. Right, now his head was back in the game from the judge's little excursion... “Your opening statement, Prosecutor Gavin?”

“Ja, natürlich,” he said back, shaking his head. And... there went the air guitar. “Let's rock!

“To review, the victim in this case: Romein LeTouse, age 35, the global manager for diva songstress, Lamiroir. The cause of death: blood loss due to being shot by a large caliber revolver.” Prosecutor Gavin held up one of the files on his bench. “This report has all the details.”

“The court accepts this into evidence.” The judge peered at his copy of the report. “Hmm... 45-caliber... That's quite large, isn't it?”

“Way bigger than police routinely carry,” confirmed Apollo, remembering Prince's comment from the previous day. “And Prosecutor Gavin, I've been meaning to ask this, but has the police worked out where the gun came from?”

“Ah, ja,” Gavin smiled, fingers settling into their usual clicking. “The gun in fact belonged to the victim himself.” The reaction of the gallery was immediate; the judge hurriedly banged his gavel and called for silence. That was around what Apollo was hoping for. Now his chosen suspect would've had all the tools they needed. “I'll present the full findings to the court, ja?” The bailiff handed Apollo a couple of sheets of paper stapled together. Two rounds fired, fingerprints wiped. Ah, bare minimum of evidence, how Apollo loved it.

“Whatever was Mr LeTouse doing with such a dangerous weapon?” asked the judge incredulously, clearly having got to the little detail about potential damage to an untrained shooter. “Surely a manager's job wouldn't call for that.”

“Ah, well,” chuckled Prosecutor Gavin nervously, twirling several strands of his hair together absent-mindedly and letting them unravel again. “The manager side of his job certainly wouldn't. But you see, just like my bandmates and I, Herr LeTouse had not just a career in music, but also in law. That gun was the mark of his work with Interpol.” Apollo had been expecting more from the crowd at that revelation, somehow. A few gasps at least. No? Just him? Damn Gavinners fans. Too used to weird career moves.

“Now that we've aired that out into the open,” continued the prosecutor, oblivious to the defence's rapid mental calculations, “let us call the lead detective to the stand. Sadly, Fräulein Murderer-”

“Objection!” shouted Apollo, thumping his fists into the bench. “My client is only accused, Prosecutor Gavin; until this trial is over, keep your slander to yourself!”

“Objection! Even if she didn't pull the trigger, Herr Justice, she still let a man die while in charge of keeping him safe!”

“Objection! Last time I checked, Prosecutor Gavin, it wasn't her concert LeTouse died at!” The eyes of the two men met across the courtroom, blue glare against brown. How was this the same man who'd teased him with terrible fruit puns just a week ago?

The judge's gavel slammed down repeatedly. “That's quite enough!” he bellowed, their audience also quieting back down. “The defence's objection is sustained. Prosecutor Gavin, please refrain from calling the defendant 'Fräulein Murderer' until my verdict is handed down.”

“Understood, Herr Judge.” Hah. Hah. Hah. “I take it Herr Justice is rather set on his 'Not Guilty', nein?” Apollo let himself stand up straighter and fold his arms.

“The defence maintains that Ms Skye only found the body, as she has told the police already,” he said calmly. “And I will prove that in court today.”

“Ooh, feisty, Herr Justice,” Gavin said with a chuckle. A few inappropriate whistles sounded down from the gallery and Apollo resisted the urge to search for the perpetrators. “I can dig it. Now, shall we get back to summoning the first witness?”



Apollo was momentarily surprised when the man being led to the stand did not in fact have white braided hair. Duh, Justice; Prince was just on forensics! “Name and occupation,” recited Prosecutor Gavin, leant back into his usual casual pose.

“Daryan Crescend, lead detective and Gavinners second guitarist,” the witness droned back. Looking at the two band members side by side was jarring. Talk about stylistic differences!

“Please testify about the state of the crime scene.” Apollo took a deep breath and focussed on Crescend's movements. After all, he knew already when he needed to look for tics, if his bandmate had been any help.

“Detective Skye called for help over the headsets at around 9:30,” he started.

“Hold it,” interrupted Apollo. “What headsets would these be?” Apparently he'd missed something after all. Great.

“Little in-ear ones,” Crescend elaborated. “All the performers and backstage crew had them for the whole concert. To keep organised, y'know?” Apollo nodded; that seemed sensible.

“So what was the actual range of functions for these headsets?”

“They're basically just walkie talkies. You can broadcast to all the others on the same frequency in a range of thirty feet when you turn the mic on, and you'll automatically here what anyone else is sending out unless you specifically mute it.”

“So the microphone is just switched on and off?” Apollo asked. What a weird way to set it up.

“Yeah, pretty much. Makes for a helluva awkward situation if you leave it on for something private, though.” Apollo's wrist twinged as Crescend touched at his pompadour. Apollo opted for not asking about that ever in his lifetime on pain of second hand embarrassment.

“Back to the crime scene, ja?” cut in Gavin. Apollo pretended not to notice the faltering thumb rubbing his ring back and forth.

“The Gavinners were still playing onstage for the rest of the song they were at,” Crescend continued, “while the rest of the security team kept Sunshine Coliseum on lockdown. Back up from the precinct arrived at ten.”

“But that's a half hour window before the scene was secure!” protested Apollo. “With such a strong police presence with the band, surely the response should've been way quicker!”

“What, with only five of us, a dead guy, and a murderer?” Crescend snarled, eyes glinting dangerously from beneath a few flyaway hairs. “What are ya, crazy?”

“But-”

“You gonna tell me how to do my jobs, Sleeves?”

“...What did you just call me?” Apollo said incredulously. Crescend took half a step back, one hand settling in his coat pocket.

“What, like I'm gonna call you 'Justice'?”

“I mean it is my name.” Crescend let out a bark of not-quite-laughter.

“Pretty damn stupid one for a lawyer,” he snorted, pointing.

Your hair is as big as your arm. Your argument is invalid.” Apollo flicked his gaze back and forth between the detective and Prosecutor Gavin. “Are all of you like this?” he mumbled. Gavin had the audacity to wink at him.

“Anyway,” said Crescend, more seriously. “If you're trying to get at LeTouse not being dead yet, or being moved or something, don't bother. The autopsy proved he died between 9:00 and 9:30, and a basic look at the scene can tell you he stayed right there after he got shot.

“There were signs of a struggle at the far side of the dressing room.” Apollo looked down at the diagram he'd made of the room. “The murder weapon was lying on the floor beside the victim, and there were signs he'd written a message in his own blood before dying.”

“From the photo of the body, it looked all rubbed out,” Apollo cut in. “Do you know what it originally read?” Crescend shrugged.

“Luminol doesn't exactly work if everything's covered in blood,” he explained. “So we didn't bother trying.” Apollo felt his spikes droop a little. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Ema in the defendant dock, suddenly clenching her fists and twitching.

“So there was a useless message, the gun, the body, and I assume Ms Skye?” Apollo said.

“Yeah.”

“Isn't it a little odd she'd stick around if she was the killer?” he said pleadingly.

“Not if she'd already called the cops,” Crescend cut back. “Pulling a vanishing act after that? No way.”

“There's a really easy way to not have to pull a vanishing act at all...”

“Objection, Herr Judge!” Prosecutor Gavin shouted, after his long period of mildly entertained silence. “The defence is needling the witness over irrelevant details!”

“I'm pointing out a serious flaw in the prosecution's logic!” Apollo shouted back, feeling blood rise to his face.

“Objection sustained.”

“Oh come on now!” The judge looked sternly down at him. Apollo felt himself wilt. “Fine. Mr Crescend, was there anything else of interest at the scene?” Crescend looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Nothing else was noteworthy about the area around the body,” he finally concluded. A grin finally worked itself onto Apollo's face.

“Objection!” he bellowed, finger outstretched towards the witness stand. “Perjury is a serious offence, Mr Crescend!”

“Hmph. You saying I'm a liar, Sleeves?”

“I am doing exactly that,” smirked Apollo, crossing his arms. “Because there was something else found with the body. Something that's in your best interest to lie about. Mr LeTouse was holding onto a keyring: one that belonged to none other than Klavier Gavin!”

A collective gasp arose of the gallery as both witness and prosecutor flinched back as if they'd been stung. Frantically the judge thudded his gavel. “Defence, you will submit this evidence to the court immediately!” Apollo kept smiling.

“I'm afraid I can't, Your Honor.”

“What?!”

“When I asked after it, I was told it had already been given back to Prosecutor Gavin.”

“Prosecutor-”

“Ja, ja, I know,” Gavin sighed, digging in his blazer pocket and tossing something metal onto the bench. “It was returned, Herr Justice, because it was irrelevant to the case: no fingerprints left intact. It was no use having something snatched from the killer when the killer was already identified and in custody. Also I needed it to drive.” Well there was the honest answer at least (and last).

“Actually, Prosecutor Gavin,” Apollo continued, hand reaching to search for the next piece of evidence he'd need, “I think you'll find it very relevant. I'm told your keyring went missing on the day of the crime.”

“Ja, that is correct.”

“Can you please confirm when that was?” Gavin frowned at him, hand tapping at his leg.

“I'm sure I had it when I left my hotel room first thing,” he said slowly. “But I couldn't get to the stadium... It would've disappeared somewhere between nine and eleven in the morning.” What kinda 'first thing' on a weekday was 9AM exactly? Triumphantly Apollo held up his report.

“This is a statement from a colleague of Ms Skye,” he announced, “who was working alongside her on the morning of the seventh. She was at the scene of a break in – several miles away from any hotel – from around seven, till past midday.” He looked directly at Prosecutor Gavin. “It certainly makes sense for the victim to grab a keyring from their killer,” he reasoned, smiling all the while. “But there was no way for the defendant to have that keyring!” The crowd practically exploded with chatter again. “Ms Skye could not have been in that dressing room while Mr LeTouse was still alive, and his clutching onto that keyring proves it!”

“Silence!” yelled the judge, slamming his gavel over and over again. “I will have order in the court!” He turned to stare at Apollo. “Mr Justice, I hope you have some sort of evidence to show where that keyring came from if it wasn't the defendant!” Apollo nodded.

“Of course, Your Honor,” he replied. “Wouldn't come to court without it. If you would just look at this fingerprint analysis...”

“'Tobaye's prints found on the ceiling vent'?” the judge read out.

“Achtung, Herr Justice!” interceded Prosecutor Gavin. “That dressing room was being used by Machi as well as Lamiroir. It's not unusual to find his fingerprints inside.”

“On the ceiling vent?!” Apollo exclaimed.

“There may be any number of perfectly innocent reasons.”

“In that case,” Apollo said with a huff. “Let's get Mr Tobaye to tell us himself what these perfectly innocent reasons are! Has an interpreter arrived for him and Lamiroir yet?” The prosecutor nodded. “Then I summon Machi Tobaye to the stand!”

 

Chapter Text

Apollo relaxed on the couch in the defendant's lobby, sharing a packet of swiss rolls with Ema. Machi, Lamiroir, and their interpreter were still somewhere in the LA traffic between the hotel and the courthouse.

“You would've thought Prosecutor Gavin would at least have those two on hand as witnesses or something,” Apollo complained. “It's not like they're totally uninvolved if their manager bit the dust!” Ema chewed loudly.

“Oh yeah, breaking news, Glimmerous Fop jumps to dumb conclusions,” she bit back. “You really think Machi's the one that did it? I mean, it's a hefty weapon for a kid to use.”

“It's a hefty weapon for anyone to use. And appearances can be deceiving; for all we know, he might have training. Or be some sort of teenage superspy.”

“Oh yeah, because that actually happens outside of kids' books!” Ema snorted. “...Please don't tell me you're going to argue that once the trial's back on-”

“Of course I'm not!” Apollo snapped. Did he really come across as that scatterbrained? “Hey, Ms Skye, are you sure you didn't see anything else odd, so you could be called to testify if we hit a roadblock?” Ema huffed.

“I told you already, I didn't see anything!” she insisted. “It's not like I was watching out for children climbing into ventilation systems.”

“I know, I know, sorry.” The two fell back into contemplative munching. Apollo looked at the various pins on the detective's lab coat. Another yellow face gaped back at him. Okay, was it just the mascot for something? It was unsettling. And it made him never want to buy from that company at all. A commotion in the corridor grew louder as it passed the lobby doors and entered the next room over, a babble of words both English and some other language. “I think that means our witness just arrived. Looks like we can get this conflict of interest joke of a trial over and done with.”



“Court is now back in session.” Machi Tobaye was a fair bit shorter than Apollo had expected from a fourteen year old, and stood next to his mama bear of an interpreter with a blank look on his face. His eyes were just barely visible through his dark glasses, and stared vacantly at a point somewhere below the judge's seat.

“Could the witnesses give their names and occupations to the court,” said Gavin calmly, smile not quite reaching his eyes. Uncooperative witness, Prosecutor? The interpreter and Machi exchanged a few words in Borginian, before the former turned back to Prosecutor Gavin.

“'Machi Tobaye',” said the interpreter, “'and I play piano.'” A brief pause. “And my name is Natvi Utzvel. I am an interpreter of several European languages.” Apollo had the sudden feeling that the upcoming cross-examination had the potential to rapidly become confusing, with the wrong questions. Easy, Justice; just don't ask the wrong questions!

“Well Machi,” said Gavin. He actually used names like a normal person? And yet Apollo was stuck with 'Herr Forehead'?! “Herr Justice over there was wondering what you were doing with the ceiling vent in your dressing room. I'll let you explain, ja?” Utzvel paused, realised the prosecutor was done, then quickly repeated it to Machi.

“'The vent by the door I used to help Lamiroir. It was something we had to work together on.'” Apollo blinked.

“The stage is all yours, Herr Justice.” What exactly was he supposed to do with that?!

“Right, um, Mr Tobaye...” Apollo started. Surreptitiously he glanced down at the court record. Ah! A contradiction already! “How exactly did you 'work together' with Lamiroir, when her fingerprints weren't found on the vent? Only yours were!” More murmuring between the witnesses.

“'Lamiroir was on the other side of the vent when I helped her.'”

“But that would put her inside the vents!” he countered. Across the room, Prosecutor Gavin cleared his throat.

“This would be my cue,” he said, snapping his fingers. “For a small part of her performance, Lamiroir was indeed in the vents.”

“What?!”

“During the Guitar's Serenade,” Gavin continued, “Lamiroir magically travels from one side of the stadium to the other, carried off on nothing more than her divine voice.” Or wires, more likely. “And for that, she moves through the air vents that run across the dressing rooms. I actually have a diagram, if you like.” Apollo begrudgingly accepted the paper from a harangued looking bailiff. Didn't need it, but thanks.

“Wow,” exclaimed the judge, ignoring the diagram as well. “I wish I could've seen such a beautiful scene; it sounds wonderful!”

“Don't worry, Your Honor,” said Apollo. “With a special guest like Lamiroir, the concert probably got officially recorded, right Prosecutor Gavin?” No response. Apollo looked towards the prosecution bench, only to see the man in question standing stiffly and playing with his hair. “Prosecutor Gavin?”

“Ach, ja!” Gavin rushed out, voice modulating strangely. “Natürlich, that... the concert was all caught on tape!” Apollo hoped that wasn't literal; of all the media that hadn't wasn't in retro fashion right then, VHS was up there.

“You seem a bit unwell,” noted the judge. Gavin responded with a nervous chuckle.

“I'm quite alright, Herr-”

“Oh, was Lamiroir's song the one where your guitar caught fire?” Apollo asked. The prosecutor slumped over double, fist clenched on the bench, overall looking like he'd been punched in the gut.

“Why do you know that?!” he hissed. “I thought you said you weren't a fan!”

“I'm not!” Apollo returned, arms folded grumpily. “But it was pretty hard to miss when I was doing my research last night.” He could have sworn he saw Prosecutor Gavin's eye twitch. Sheepishly Apollo ran a hand through his hair. “I mean it's kind of everywhere at this point...”

“...We had testimony to cross-examine, ja?” Apollo blinked at the sudden subject change.

“Uh, ja- I mean, yes.” He turned his gaze back towards the witness stand. “So, Machi Tobaye, you say you opened the vent to help Lamiroir, who was inside it?” Murmurs.

“'Yes.'”

“Around when was this?” Chatter, chatter. Apollo watched closely as Machi's eyes darted around while he spoke.

“'In rehearsal.'”

“I can confirm there were a few times Lamiroir tripped during practice,” interrupted Gavin, fingers unusually still by his side. “Having to run through a cramped space while in a flowing gown is no simple task, after all.” The hand lifted to run through his bangs.

“There's a 'but' there, isn't there, Prosecutor Gavin,” Apollo stated, eyes fixed on the motions of his fingers. Gavin met his eyes, and Apollo could see him swallow. Quickly he fumbled through his notes and retrieved the concert program he'd kept from Prince. “The Guitar's Serenade had Mr Tobaye playing alongside Lamiroir. Was this the case in rehearsals as well?” A pause.

“Yes,” the prosecutor admitted. “Lamiroir's trick was only practised while Machi was onstage too, so we could get the timing right.”

“Which contradicts Mr Tobaye's testimony,” finished Apollo. He could hear the gallery mumble and gasp, but at that moment he was more interested in the flicker of fear behind the boy's sunglasses. But he didn't understand English, right? “Mr Tobaye, why did you lie to the court?” Utzvel quickly broke into hurried Borginian, Machi whispering something back. Apparently not satisfied with whatever he'd just said, Utzvel hissed something back, and Machi nodded, hugging himself tightly. Well that wasn't suspicious at all!

“'I lied because you would not believe me.'”

“That is for us to decide, ja?” said Prosecutor Gavin with a smile. “So why did you open the vent?” Utzvel repeated the question while Machi's eyes darted back and forth between the prosecution and defence. Brazen lie incoming.

“'I hid from the gunshots.'” A confused gasp arose from the gallery. For once, Apollo was with them.

“So you admit to being in the dressing room when there were gunshots?” asked Apollo, smirk sliding onto his face. Too. Easy. A confirming nod as the question was translated. “Now, considering the defendant has said on record that she didn't see anyone while in the room-”

“Herr Justice, defendants tend to lie to cover themselves-”

“No one lies to put themselves as the only possible suspect!” he reasoned. “The only logical order of events is that Mr Tobaye shot the victim then fled through the vent when he heard Ms Skye at the door. In fact, Prosecutor Gavin, wasn't Mr Tobaye staying at the same hotel as yourself?” The prosecutor was beginning to sweat now. Good, he was catching on.

“J-ja,” he stammered, “all the performers stayed in adjoining rooms.”

“Then it would be simple for Mr Tobaye to steal your keys that morning, and then have them snatched at by the victim. And as for motive for killing his manager? All manner of possibilities: a disagreement over contracts, a past slight, a criminal plot newly imported from their home country, the list goes on.” Prosecutor Gavin suddenly stood up straight, an expression of realisation on his face.

“Actually, Herr Justice, there is concrete evidence to show Machi was not the culprit.” Apollo frowned at him. “Herr LeTouse's dying message was wiped away, nein?” So? “The killer saw it was there!” And? “...Herr Justice, it appears your little research stint simply wasn't good enough. Machi Tobaye is blind.”

What?!” Apollo shrieked. No, no, no! All the other evidence... Everything else fitted! “No, that can't be right. He knew where the vent was!”

“Of course he did,” said Gavin, slouching, with his hands hooked back into his pockets. “Lamiroir needed to know their layout, and the two shared a dressing room. There's nothing strange about the vent being brought up in conversation.”

“But, but...” Apollo flicked through his notes. Something had to prove Machi could see, surely! He looked back up at the witness stand, and remembered something; he looked between the two lawyers when nervous, even when no noise would've prompted him to do so. He was definitely lying, but the evidence was only in his reactions. Apollo took a deep breath and pressed his finger hard to his forehead. But currently, his reactions were too small to count as evidence.

“Mr Justice,” said the judge firmly. “If you're quite done bullying a poor blind boy.” Apollo shot an indignant look up at the man. He needed to do something that would cause a huge reaction!

“I'm not done yet, Your Honor,” he said, the sound of his own footsteps echoing in the courtroom. “Prosecutor Gavin, you have the murder weapon with you, right?” He kept on his path towards the opposite bench as the prosecutor brought it out of his briefcase with little more than a curious hum and a raised eyebrow. Apollo put on the proffered gloves and picked up the gun, turning it over in his hands. It felt weighty and cool even through the fabric. Wordlessly he pretended to examine the remaining bullets.

“Careful, Herr Justice,” Gavin warned. “It's still loaded with live rounds.” Apollo nodded in understanding and proceeded to squint at an engraving on the barrel.

“Ms Utzvel, can you just come here and look at this for a moment?” He heard the interpreter clump over, leaving her charge alone where he stood. Perfect.

Quickly Apollo gripped the handle of the revolver and turned, arms raised before him. As if in slow motion he watched Machi's eyes widen at the gun aimed squarely at him, and the boy ducked and cowered behind the stand. It took a breath longer for the two people surrounding him to freeze up, and several more for the gallery to fall into chaos.

“Are you alright over there, Mr Tobaye?!” Apollo yelled over the judge's calls for order. “What's got you so scared?!”

“Mr Justice!” the judge called disbelievingly, still hammering his gavel. “How can you even ask that?! You just pointed a gun at him! Heck, you're still pointing a gun at him!” Apollo could spot several extra bailiffs enter the room and slowly make their way towards him.

“How do you know that, Your Honor?” he retorted calmly.

“What do you mean, how do I know that?! I can see the gun in your hand right there!” Apollo smirked and slowly lowered the gun back to the prosecutor's bench. He caught Prosecutor Gavin's eye as he did so, and saw the dots connect as he watched.

“We can see it,” Gavin repeated, turning towards the witness stand. “Machi...” he said darkly. The boy flinched.

“And that,” said Apollo cheerily, peeling off his gloves, “is my evidence that proves Machi Tobaye is not blind after all. The defence thanks the court for its cooperation.” He stalked back to his own bench, the bailiffs retreating once more. “I believe that clears up any contradictions?” The judge nodded thoughtfully, and brought down the gavel with a finality that made Apollo feel light on his feet. He'd made it! A murder trial all by himself, and he'd got through it looking cool to boot!

“Wait! Please!” begged the voice of Machi Tobaye, its owner clutching to the stand like a lifeline. “I not do it!”

“He spoke English all along?!” wailed Utzvel. “I didn't get to sleep last night so I could get here in time, and you didn't even need me here?!” Prosecutor Gavin looked tired.

“The world is full of surprises, ja?” he sighed. Sure, if you didn't look hard enough. Apollo tried not to let his smugness show on his face.

“Please believe!” Machi continued. “I not want to die!” Apollo raised an eyebrow. “I not kill him! I not kill anyone!” He was far too good at playing innocent for Apollo's liking.

“Machi,” said Prosecutor Gavin sternly. “Herr LeTouse was killed on American soil, not Borginian. As a minor, you will not receive the death penalty for this.” Apollo glanced back at the crying boy on the stand. Machi sniffled.

“But I not...” he choked out. A pity plea worked better if used before repeatedly lying to the court. “He was dead when I arrive.”

“And yet you didn't say anything to anyone?” said Apollo sceptically. He shook his head. “The defence moves to indict Machi Tobaye in the murder of Romein LeTouse.”



“I see no reason to further prolong this trial. I hereby find the defendant, Ema Skye, not guilty.”



“Well, thanks, I guess,” said Ema.

“Um, thanks for hiring me,” returned Apollo. An awkward silence settled in the defendant's lobby.

“I'm free to go now, so... I'm just gonna...”

“Yeah, okay. I'll send the invoice once I've written it up.”

“...Well at least I get to look forward to Prosecutor Diva's grovelling apologies.”

“Heh, good luck with that!” Ema's shoes clipped on the floor as she left the lobby and Apollo went back to checking everything was back in his bag where it belonged. He'd won. He'd won! No sooner had the door closed, it creaked open again. Apollo turned to look at whoever'd come in. “Ah, hey, Mr Gavin!” he grinned, before seeing the sour look on his boss' face. His hopeful smile faded. “I got a complete acquittal for Ms Skye!”

“So I heard,” Mr Gavin said in a clipped voice. He came closer. “I also heard something else I found rather interesting.” His arms folded. “Just what is this about ferrying a certain young Wright around the crime scene?” Oh crap; Apollo hadn't intended to tell him about that. Ever.

“It was at the client's insistence,” Apollo explained.

“And so you simply went along without resistance?”

“There was resistance!” he protested. “But...” “But I was too scared of calling you back.” “But I was too desperate to gamble on it.” “But I wanted to prove myself on a case of my own.” “...I'm sorry, sir.” Mr Gavin let out an irritated sigh and put his hand to his face.

“You understand, Apollo, why I cannot allow this,” he said, light glinting on the rims of his glasses. Apollo bit the inside of his cheek. Was... that rhetorical or..? “Why I cannot allow you to bring someone such as Ms Wright anywhere near your investigation.”

“Sir,” Apollo said, his voice already feeling raspy. “Ms Wright isn't her father; it's not as if-”

“You think she is so different?” chuckled Mr Gavin venomously. “You think we are not all bound by those that raise us? That the daughter of a charlatan would become anything but?” Anxiously Apollo rubbed at his bracelet. “Look at me when I am talking to you, Apollo. I will not have you jeopardising your cases and your reputation because you were too weak to make your point to your own client. This is for your own sake. Do you understand?” Twitch.

“You're lying, sir.” Both men blinked; he really had managed to say that. Apollo swallowed past the growing lump in his throat. “When you're stopping yourself from saying something you tend to tense your hand. I don't know if you used to use stress balls a lot and it's just...” Mr Gavin's stare dug into the back of his neck like ice. “Your hand tensed when you said it was for my sake.”

Finally his boss closed his eyes and lightly shook his head. “There is, of course, a reason I still employ you,” he said to himself. His arms tightened across his chest as he gazed down his nose at Apollo again. Apollo felt the couch press against the back of his knees. He hadn't even realised he'd been backing away. “Yes, I'll admit my intentions are not entirely selfless. Remember, Apollo, that your performance inexorably reflects on my mentorship. Should you destroy your own reputation, you will inevitably taint mine as well.” Oh. Shit.

“Sorry, sir, I hadn't even considered-”

“That much is obvious.” Stiffly, Mr Gavin pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Though I advise in the future you think before agreeing blindly to let any plebeian passer-by into your work – Apollo, look at me for goodness' sake – and if anything like this happens again I will be far, far less forgiving.

“Now gather your things; we're done here.” Apollo snatched up his satchel from where it'd fallen aside, and let his boss place a heavy hand on his shoulder, thumb digging into his neck, and steer him out into the late afternoon sun.

 

Chapter Text

“Mikeko, come on,” Apollo grunted again. “I really need to leave for work now.” He sighed as the cat sat pointedly on his foot, body simultaneously trying to curl around his leg and anchor his shoe to the floor. Apollo bent down and tugged Mikeko's paws away from the leg of his slacks. Instantly she jumped off and made for his other leg; Apollo skidded his foot out the way, reaching out to the door frame to stop himself toppling on top of the cat. This time he caught Mikeko around the middle and held her up to eye level. The tiny bell on her bright red collar tinkled as she shook her head and gave a stare more indignant than cat-kind had ever known before. Apollo stared back into her intensely green eyes. “Look, someone in this household has to earn some money, so unless you're planning on going to work at a fast food joint, you need to let me leave the apartment.” Mikeko mewed at him and batted at his face. “Yes, I know that was a bad example and you're too hairy to work in a fast food joint, but you get my drift. And unlike you, I literally cannot survive off of trash and dead birds. Please do not test this.” His cat meowed again and flailed at his offending arms, looking pointedly at the floor. Apollo sighed and placed her back by his feet, and reached for the door handle. Carefully he opened the door, still in a staring competition with his pet, and sidestepped around it. Suddenly he darted out and brought the door crashing closed with him. Mikeko thumped against the other side of the wood. “I'll restock on your treats on the way home, don't worry.” At the mention of the T-word, an appreciative mew sounded through the door.

Mikeko got like that, sometimes, especially when he'd been obviously stressed and not sleeping well. Just his luck to have a psychic for a cat.

Apollo jogged downstairs and out into the parking lot round the back of the building. “'Grats on making the papers, Mr Justice!” called a cheerful voice as he fumbled with his bike lock. He looked around at the source: Bea Seid, a nice woman who lived two doors down. He'd taken care of her two cats over the last holiday season while she was visiting relatives abroad. Them and Mikeko had got on like a house on fire, and it was probably a miracle they didn't end up in a house on fire, with the chaos the lot of them caused.

Ms Seid was leaning up against her car and held up her newspaper. “I'm in the paper?” asked Apollo, stuffing his lock in his bag and wheeling his bike over to her. Seid tapped at an article in the legal section. More specifically, she tapped at the photo next to it: Apollo Justice's unconventional cross-examination read the subtitle. Apollo felt himself flush. No wonder Machi's reaction had been to full on hide; he looked terrifying in that picture! “Who even got a photo of that?” he wondered aloud.

“Dunno,” Seid shrugged, folding her paper back up. “Good thing they did though. Bet that's got the legal people talking!” Apollo chuckled awkwardly.

“I'm guessing I'll see for myself sooner or later.” Going by the tone of the article, that was an unfortunate prospect.



Mr Gavin's comment on Apollo's tardiness was predictably caustic. “Yes sir, I did say cat troubles, not car troubles; this is the third time you have made this joke now. Please stop before I miss your brother's poorly thought out puns.” The sound of the office coffee machine rattled too loudly for how little sleep he'd had. The court transcripts for State vs Skye had finally been sent. The printer declared itself to be out of ink. Apollo knew for a fact the printer was lying. He tapped at the touchscreen on it, scrolling through the menu to bypass the error message. Finally the printer gave a beep of surrender and whirred back into life. While he waited by with a paper-clip, sipping at his much needed caffeine, Apollo heard the door to Gavin Law swing open. Straightening his tie, he tried to look awake as he went to greet the new client.

A blue top-hat and cape greeted him, and he bit back a groan. This was going to get messy quickly. His eyes flicked towards his boss' office as he approached Trucy. He knew all too well that the interior walls weren't soundproofed. And even if they weren't transparent... Apollo subconsciously glanced over to the CCTV camera nestled near the ceiling. Sometimes he was glad for the extra security, around certain clients, but other times, he really wished privacy extended beyond Mr Gavin's office and the bathroom. This counted as one of those other times.

“Ms Wright,” Apollo sighed. Trucy snapped her gaze away from the security camera. “Why are you here?” Hesitantly, the girl put on a showman's smile.

“Am I not allowed to pop in to see a friend?” she chirped. “And what happened to you calling me Trucy? I liked that better, you know.” Apollo grimaced. Mr Gavin could hear every word of this conversation, couldn't he.

“You shouldn't pop in to chat with people while they're working, Ms Wright,” Apollo settled on. Hopefully the 'extra encouragement' from his boss would keep his heartstrings restrained for once. Trucy pouted.

“I chat with Ema all the time when she's working and she doesn't mind!”

“She's part of the police force,” Apollo returned. “I'm fairly sure they have incompetency as a job requirement over there.” There was a pause, before Trucy glowered at him, hands planting themselves on her hips.

“You know, Apollo,” she said angrily, “I don't know why I keep trying!” Apollo blinked at her, dumbfounded. “You really aren't a nice person at all!” What was with the sudden switch?

“...Any reason you came here to tell me that?”

“Oh my god, Apollo!” she nigh shouted. “You really think I bothered coming over here to not give you a chance? Like I'm going to walk all the way over here to get all petty over someone!”

“So you sincerely came here to 'see a friend'?” Apollo asked, deadpan. Trucy didn't even need to say her 'well duh' out loud, with the expression on her face. “In that case, I'm sorry you walked all the way over here. Any friendship beyond us working a single case together is purely imagined.”

“Well I got that,” she spat, head tilted away. Apollo felt his stomach clench. “Didn't mean you couldn't be nice about it, though.”

“Y-you weren't listening otherwise,” he protested weakly. Yes, Justice, follow your boss' advice to be mean to the fifteen year old! “I...” Mr Gavin had been right about her dad though. “I don't know why you've been so insistent on getting close to me so far, but please just... take this as a hint and don't come here again.” With a bitter smile that seemed out of place on the girl, she brushed at the badge holding her cloak together: still a shocked yellow face. With another sigh Trucy turned and walked towards the door.

“Hey, Daddy?” she mumbled to herself. “I don't know why you thought this would work.” ...Wait a second!

“What's Mr Wright got to do with this?” Apollo asked, stalking past the waiting couches to try and catch up. She didn't stop. “Is he forcing you to do this?” The door was wrenched open and shut again. “Trucy? Trucy!” Apollo grabbed at the handle and burst outside. Not a flutter of cape was there to be seen.

A lull of frantic searching passed, before Apollo backed back into the office and shut the door again. He dawdled back to the printer and picked up the copy of the court transcript and his lukewarm coffee. He drained its remains in one long gulp and returned to the dreary task of finishing his case file.



Zero extra cups of coffee later, he tapped on Mr Gavin's door, completed folder in hand, and was called in. “I've got the file for State vs Skye done, sir,” he said, head barely past the threshold. The faint smell of nail polish hung in the room, as was often the case when his boss was under stress; Apollo found it one of the more reliable indicators. Mr Gavin looked up from his computer monitor, left hand still draped across the keyboard.

“Good,” he said simply, removing a nondescript keyring from his desk draw and placing it at the edge of his desk. He resumed his one-handed typing. “'Ongoing' cabinet, remember.”

“Yes, sir.” Ugh, he'd only messed that up a few times! Apollo walked forwards and swept the keys off the table, and moved to the filing cabinet in the corner. He let his finger trail over the engraved metal labels until finally coming to rest at S-Z.

“Justice?” Mr Gavin chimed over the rattle of keys and drawers. “It occurs to me that we have yet to celebrate your latest victory in court.” Apollo looked up, fingers still wedged between files. “It must have slipped my mind.”

“It's quite alright sir,” he rattled back, autopilot engaged as he resumed flicking through the alphabet. Scott, Sheckter, Stickleback... Ah, there.

“I insist,” Mr Gavin continued. He again looked away from his monitor and towards Apollo. “I don't suppose you had any plans for lunch?”

“Oh, no, sir.” As if his boss needed confirmation about his employee's absent social life.

“In that case, I had somewhere in mind. If you could fetch me the file for Inn vs Trout 2023, I can finish up here and we'll leave.” Apollo nodded firmly, handing back the keys and holding back a relieved little smile on his way towards the store room. He'd learned enough.



Le Café Americano was a high-class looking place, barely distinguished from the surrounding restaurants by the more tailored suits of the customers milling about inside. From what Mr Gavin had said on the walk there, its owner was a childhood friend of the Chief of Police. Apollo had a sneaking suspicion he was being told this as encouragement to mingle. But, even if he hadn't been told about the general nature of Americano's clientele, he could've guessed after three separate people eyed him up while still in the queue to order; one of them even remembered his name. Mr Gavin looked back at the people still lined up behind them, and turned to Apollo.

“Justice, would you please go save us a table?” he asked quietly, a hand making its way to Apollo's shoulder and gently twirling him around. “I'll place orders for the both of us.” Gingerly Apollo scouted out a group table near the front of the café and began his navigation towards it. The metal sugar bowl in the middle of the table glinted at him as he awkwardly shuffled on the unpadded chair. Nearby he thought he heard his name whispered and he tried to subtly turn his head to watch the neighbouring table: a few police badges amongst them. Was this how people reacted to Mr Gavin after he was on a high profile case? Another shaky breath, and Apollo reached into his pocket to clutch his phone. He seriously wished Mr Gavin hadn't made him leave his work at the office.

“Now isn't that a familiar forehead!” sang the familiar voice of Prosecutor Gavin. Apollo had never thought he'd be so happy to hear such a reference to his facial features. He looked up as one of the chairs scraped back to allow the musician a seat. “You doing okay, Herr Forehead?” he asked with a relaxed smile, setting his iced coffee and pastry down in front of him.

“Uh, yeah, I'm fine,” he managed back, feeling himself relax now he was no longer stranded.

“Ah, you just left the courthouse pretty speedily, is all,” the prosecutor continued.

“Well-”

“We had work to do back at the office,” cut in the cool, smooth voice of the other Gavin, having approached directly behind his brother. Klavier physically jumped in his chair, eyes flown wide. The table rattled in protest.

“Kristoph!” he said. “I... didn't expect to see you here!” Kristoph tilted his head inquisitively and placed down the tray he held.

“Whereas you expected my subordinate?” he asked, sitting opposite. Apollo was now wedged between the two Gavins: rival on his left, boss on his right. Why did it feel like he was on the witness stand all of a sudden? He thanked Kristoph as the man moved a sandwich and a tall mug of chai in front of him. Cautiously he took a bite.

“I'd assumed he was here on my recommendation, ja Herr For-... Herr Justice?” Apollo waited as the words sank in.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “This was the place you were talking about?!” He looked out the window and across the street; sure enough, just a little further down a sign proclaimed Très Bien! in almost indecipherable cursive. He hadn't even noticed it on the way over; he'd been too engrossed in his own thoughts. Apollo turned back to his food, only to catch his boss raising an eyebrow as he looked between the two younger men.

They soon lapsed into silence. “So,” said Apollo. “Prosecutor Gavin. How's the case going?” Yeah, great ice breaker there, Justice: real original. Klavier paused.

“Oh, you mean the death of Herr LeTouse,” he said faintly.

“Well yeah,” continued Apollo. “How many other cases are you on right now?”

“Actually I'm not on that case any more, either,” Klavier sighed. Apollo made a questioning little noise. “It's being treated as an international incident now. And only my tours are international; my prosecuting career isn't.”

“It wasn't an international incident from the moment an Interpol agent got shot?” questioned Apollo. Klavier drew one hand up to his mouth and mimed zipping his lips shut. “Right. If you can't even tell your bandmates, you definitely can't tell me.” Klavier opened his mouth to respond but then seemingly remembered something, and started the motion over.

“Well I'm sure Frau von Karma will do well as ever.”

“'Frau'?” repeated Apollo. “What happened to 'Fräulein'?” A haunted expression entered the prosecutor's eyes.

“Did you know, Herr Justice, that she carries a whip?”

“Still?” Some legends never died. Apollo suddenly became hyper aware of a very slight redder patch of skin at the bottom of Klavier's chin.

“You mean to tell me, Klavier,” chided Kristoph, firmly putting down his espresso, “that you called Prosecutor von Karma 'Fräulein', to her face, no less?” Klavier chuckled and looked away, taking a swig of coffee. “I know you like to make a habit of making a fool of yourself, but butchering the German language in front of a German woman?” Klavier visibly winced at the word 'fool'. “Sometimes I wonder if you don't have a death wish, little brother.”

Apollo had no idea what the hell they were talking about.

“Ach, and I should instead force myself to default to 'Frau' on the off chance I meet another von Karma?” Klavier complained. “Oh ja, very suave. Guten Tag, Frau fifteen year old fan! Wouldn't that just send the crowds wild?!”

“It would at least be correct,” sniffed Kristoph, peering over the rim of his coffee cup. “But then again, one can hardly expect proper use of the language by a person who calls themself 'Klavier', hm?” The sweet smile from Kristoph clashed unpleasantly with the sudden hard look in his brother's eyes. Kristoph sighed. “I don't know why you couldn't have stuck with-”

“Achtung, Kristoph!” snapped Klavier, fist banging against the table. Apollo's drink sloshed dangerously. A few other patrons had stopped talking and turned to look at the Gavins. Kristoph raised an eyebrow and took a small forkful of his salad. “We are not doing this here,” Klavier whispered lowly, eyes flicking towards Apollo and onto the other people in the café.

“And what exactly are we doing?” asked Kristoph innocently. “Beyond discussing your unusual name?” Apollo recognised that smile from court. All witnesses have a weakness. Once you know it, the ball is in your court.

“I think 'Klavier' fits him pretty well,” he piped up, voice sounding overly loud to his ears even as the ambient conversation of the room had begun to rise again. Both brothers looked round at him, slightly stunned at his intervention (or his presence, said the miserable git living in his head). “...With his image, and all, I mean...” He just caught a small thankful smile from Klavier before burying his gaze in his half-eaten sandwich. There was another light sigh from Kristoph's end of the table as the younger Gavin knocked back the last of his iced coffee and shoved his chair back.

“Well, I should be making tracks, ja?” he said breezily. He gave a little wave and walked off. “Kristoph. Herr Justice.”

Apollo felt a pat on his knee: a reassurance from Mr Gavin. The two lawyers finished their meals with little more than silence.



Apollo: Hey Clay. If I ever get invited to a Gavin Thanksgiving dinner please launch me into space so I have an excuse not to go.

Clay: do i even wanna kno what happened to u at work today

 

Chapter Text

Well here went nothing. Apollo took a deep breath as the door to the prison's visitor's room swung open. His hands felt kind of clammy as they clutched his notebook, filled with what he needed to ask.

“So, kid, why did you want to see little ol' me?” said the prisoner dully. The guard nodded to Apollo and stood off to the side, leaving him facing down Phoenix Wright. Apollo's main observations were rather taken up by how much like crap the man looked: cropped hair, heavy bags under the eyes, stubble a million times more straggly than the last time they'd met. By the looks of things, prison wasn't working out so great for him.

“Funny,” Apollo replied. “Looks like we both want to know the same thing.” Wright hummed, and tilted his head in question.

“Strange. I don't remember asking for an attorney.” Apollo kept his clenched fist out of sight, under the table between them.

“Mr Wright,” Apollo continued insistently, “why did you tell your daughter to get close to me?” Wright leaned back in his chair and remained silent. “And don't try and play dumb; I overheard Trucy talking to herself. She apologised to you, for being sent away.”

“A young girl talks to herself and you decide I'm the one to blame?” Wright remarked, voice slow and heavy. “The judge would've given me a penalty for that theory, back in my day.”

“Then it's a good thing we're not in court, and not in your day,” retorted Apollo. “I know what I heard her say, Mr Wright, and I know you're involved. Adding onto that, Detective Skye's insistence on Trucy shadowing me...” He felt his bracelet tighten on his wrist as he mentioned the detective, noticed Wright's arm tense as if he was trying to grab something in his pocket. Or rather, where a pocket would likely be if he was wearing something other than his blue and white striped prison uniform. “Have you met with Ema recently?” Apollo asked suddenly, voice light. “Just out of interest.” He stroked his bracelet carefully while he settled both arms over the tabletop. Wright tried to keep a disinterested look on his face, though his eyes ran across the gleaming metal regardless.

“...Tell me, Apollo,” said Wright, a small smile on his face. “Did Kristoph send you here?” Apollo blinked. Hey, that wasn't an answer!

“I asked first, Mr Wright. Are you in contact with Ms Skye?” There was a slight chuckle.

“How about an answer for an answer? Are you here because of Kristoph?” Apollo held back the growl gathering at the back of his throat. He hadn't seemed this irritating in the old trial records!

“Fine,” he finally agreed. “This wasn't Mr Gavin's idea; I didn't even tell him I was scheduling this visit.” Wright leaned back, surveying the young lawyer. Finally he nodded.

“Fair enough,” he said. “Now what was it you wanted... Have I talked to Ema lately?” Apollo waited. “I've not talked to her while I've been in here, no.” Apollo squinted. His bracelet was suspiciously loose.

“Hold it, Mr Wright,” he said. “I didn't specify talking!” Mr Wright gave another chuckle.

“No wonder he's keeping you close,” he muttered to himself. “Good spot, kid. I haven't talked to Ema, but I have a few ways to pass messages along.”

“So she's in on whatever your plans are?” Wright raised an eyebrow.

My turn to ask a question, Apollo.” He hummed to himself, looking off into the middle distance. Since when had Apollo agreed to this game, exactly? “Ah, I know! Trucy said you were being perfectly nice to her before Ema got arrested; why did that change?” Damn the concerned father!

“I've already apologised for being too polite beforehand,” Apollo said, stubbornly holding eye contact. Avoiding eye contact is a sign of dishonesty, Justice. Certainly not the image a lawyer should project. “The only thing that changed was my patience.” Wright's stare burned into Apollo's.

“Now, now,” he said lowly. “You're not playing fair.”

You're going to lecture me about playing fair?” laughed Apollo, (only a little bit) hysterical.

“You're rubbing your wrist on the table,” commented Wright, apparently unperturbed. Apollo jerked his hands back towards himself; the other man chuckled again. “Looks like you forgot why you know how to look for tics, Apollo, who told you about all that potential of yours.” Apollo felt himself shrink a little in his seat as he remembered his first trial, and the instructions of the man now before him again. “So are you going to tell me the real reason you broke my daughter's little magical heart? Since we can hardly lie to each other.”

“I was simply reminded of who her father was,” Apollo snapped. Wright's eyes widened momentarily, before he returned a smirk to his face.

“Then I guess I have dear Kristoph to blame for that as well,” he said quietly. Apollo said nothing. “Your question, Apollo.” The lawyer briefly looked down at his notepad.

“First you make me to lead your defence in court, then you try getting your daughter to befriend me; why are you so set on keeping an eye on me?” Wright hummed in thought again.

“You know, kid,” he sighed, “would you believe this isn't about you? Not really, anyway.” Apollo gaped at him.

“So you want to know what I'm doing, for reasons that don't involve me,” he confirmed.

“That's the gist of it!” Apollo wasn't sure whether he felt better or worse that he wasn't important enough for Phoenix Wright to care about the tabs kept on him. “Think of yourself as more of a... what's the word for a connecting thing? 'C'-something...”

“A conduit?” guessed Apollo.

“That's the one!” He didn't continue. “Oh, right, I guess it's my turn. Uh... what's your favourite colour..?” Apollo glared at him.

“Red. Obviously. Why did you start this stupid game if you only had a couple of questions to ask?”

“Eh,” Wright replied with a shrug. “Let me tell you, kiddo, don't end up like me. It gets real boring in here. A man's gotta entertain himself somehow!” 'Become a sphinx' wasn't most people's first resort. “Right back at ya though; why are you miserable over an easy answer?”

“Because it's a useless answer!” yelled Apollo exasperatedly. He saw the guard wince. Oops. Volume control. “I could be curled up in bed with my cat and a manga and a seriously unhealthy amount of pizza, but instead I'm wasting my weekend getting yanked around by someone who almost destroyed my career before it even got started! You actually expect me to be happy about it?!”

“Thing is, Apollo,” smiled Wright lazily. “I didn't make you come here, did I?”

“...I'm aware of my own bad decision making, thanks,” Apollo snarked back. He smiled nastily. “After all, I put my faith in you when we last met.”

“Touché.”

“My question,” continued Apollo. “Why did you forge that playing card?”

“Easy,” chuckled Wright. “Because the original was destroyed by the killer.” Apollo raised his eyebrows.

“You didn't need to forge anything there,” he said. “The judge asked for a reason the killer took the card, not the card itself. Hell, by supposedly having the actual card, you destroyed your own argument about the killer not knowing the colour you were playing with. There wasn't a way for you to win by encouraging me to present it to the court.”

“Sure there was!” said Wright with a grin. “I show the killer I know what happened, then they confess!”

“How could I forget,” scoffed Apollo. “The tried and tested method of psyching out the witness till they don't know what's real any more, and getting them to admit to whatever you want.” Wright glared at him.

“Can I help it if a lot of murderers like to take the stand?” he huffed. “And are you going to keep talking like you never accused a witness?”

“I at least summoned those witnesses,” Apollo shot back. “I prefer not banking on the fact the prosecution is in my pocket.”

“Is that how I did it now?” hummed Wright, a hint of scorn tingeing his words. “Guess all those Christmas cards from the von Karmas must've got lost in the mail. Whoops.”

“That wasn't who I was referring to,” Apollo said.

“Oh, I know who you were referring to.” Wright looked right at him, a sly look in his eye. “And by the way, I welcome you saying that to his face. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.” Apollo grimaced and got to his feet, stumbling a little as the chair didn't move, bolted to the floor as it was. He hated these chairs too, turned out!

“Look, Mr Wright,” said Apollo tiredly. “I'm done playing with you. I have cat and pizza to look forward to.”

“Ah, wait, Apollo,” Wright cut in. “I have one more question.”

“Too bad,” Apollo replied. “I'm out.” The guard made their way over.

“Hey, just humour an old man for a second!”

“You're thirty three. That's not old.”

“...You know that off the top of your head?”

“It's not weird!” The look Apollo got in return told a different story. “'Sides, you set the rules in the first place. You should at least stick with them!” Wright tipped his head from side to side as he considered his words.

“How about you ask me my favourite colour?” he grinned. Apollo gave him a withering look. The most withering. The witheringest.

“It's blue, isn't it.”

Wright mock gasped. “How'd you guess?”

“Magic,” he deadpanned, and turned again. “Seriously, I'm leaving now.”

“Fine, I'll just ask,” grumbled Wright. “Do you really think I killed Shadi Smith?” Apollo froze. The atmosphere in the room seemed to weigh that little bit more all of a sudden.

“No,” he finally answered. “I don't think you're a murderer.” He turned to look back at his ex-client. “But you still forfeited. That's what happens when you cheat.”

“Objection,” said Wright softly. “That's what happens when you get caught.”

Apollo shook his head. “Goodbye, Mr Wright. Let's not play again.”



“Hey, Mr Gavin?” The man in question placed one mug of tea down on Apollo's desk and straightened, cradling another.

“Yes, Justice?”

“How long did you know Phoenix Wright?” Mr Gavin frowned down at his associate.

“Seven years,” he said coldly. “What brought on this line of questioning, pray tell?”

“Seven years?!” echoed Apollo incredulously. “Seven minutes alone with him was bad enough!” His boss cleared his throat. “Oh, sorry sir. I went to visit him yesterday.” An all too familiar stormy look was beginning to materialise on Mr Gavin's face. “I just figured... If Ms Wright was following me because of her father, it was best to cut it off at the source, right?”

“I see...” The frown began to fade. “Did you discuss much else?”

“Uh.” Apollo thought back. “It was mostly riddles and insults, to be honest.”

“That certainly sounds familiar,” Mr Gavin chuckled. “It seems he is yet to change. I assume you were able to break his odd obsession with you?” Apollo tilted his head. That made it sound like he'd been talked about for much longer than he'd expected.

“Apparently I'm a 'conduit',” he said instead with a pout, absent-mindedly reaching for his tea.

“I am very sad to hear that, Justice.” There was a pause as both men took a drink.

“Makes sense,” Apollo reasoned to himself. “With how he acted in his trial, I mean.” Mr Gavin nodded and hummed in agreement. “How anyone could be that set on hurting someone though...” He looked up at his boss, feeling a little sheepish. “Can I just apologise for all the times I said anything good about Mr Wright while in earshot?” Mr Gavin's shoulders shook in well contained laughter; he had a warm, genuine smile.

“I believe I can find it in my heart to forgive you,” he said cheerily. “Perhaps I should've wondered earlier whether he was taking advantage of my hospitality.” Apollo took another sip of still hot tea, unsure of what to say. “Well, no doubt we can both put that man behind us, hm?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Oh, and Justice? I've a few finished case files in my office that need ordering back into storage.”

“Right, sir!” Well, looked like life had more or less returned to normal.



Apollo slouched back on the Vitamin Square bench and stretched. Just his luck all the files Mr Gavin had handed over to him had belonged on the top shelves. And weighed a ton. His stomach rumbled a bit as he took out his lunch box. Apollo's phone rumbled as he reached for his first sushi roll.

Clay: ur on this case right? www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-crescend-arrest-20260713-story.html

Clay: WTH HAPPENED TELL ME NOW

Frowning, Apollo clicked through the link. Daryan Crescend was now suspected for the murder of Mr LeTouse? What?

“No, Daryan, I don't know what Frau von Karma's going off!” shouted a voice going past. Apollo turned away from the article and watched Prosecutor Gavin stride down the street, phone held up to his ear. “I'm on my way! Will you calm down?!” There was a growl, and the footsteps stopped. Then Apollo watched as Klavier walked backwards over to him.

“Forehead,” he said. Wow. Not even a 'Herr' anymore.

“Gavin.” Apollo had been in many staring contests in his life. This was another one. “Did you want something or..?”

“Ah, ja,” Gavin started, breaking into his trademark smile. “If you could just come along with me, bitte.” Apollo blinked. Gavin's smile stayed there, not moving; he peered past Apollo, at his phone's screen. “I see you've heard the news. So! Los geht's!” He prodded Apollo's shoulder. Apollo looked back at the article, piecing things together. Gavin sighed. “Ach, sorry, I suppose I'm springing this on you. If you don't have time for this, I'll just take that shrimp nigiri and be on my way!” Apollo slapped his hand away from his lunch as it crept over.

“Hey! I paid good money for this!”

“So cruel...” Apollo put his things away and shook his head.

“So Detective Crescend hasn't got his defence yet?” he chattered, standing up and slinging his bag over his shoulder. A look of relief washed over Prosecutor Gavin's face. “...Wait, please don't tell me this is a ploy to get me on a motorcycle.” Gavin laughed as they began to walk.

“I do have a car, Herr Forehead.”

 

Chapter Text

“Ah, shoot,” muttered Apollo, bouncing in his seat to rustle the phone from his pocket. “I need to tell Mr Gavin why I'm not back from lunch yet.” Beside him, the other Gavin nodded and returned his eyes to the road. Apollo scrolled through to the office number and dialed.

“This is Gavin Law Offices,” trailed his boss' voice on the other end of the line.

“Hey, sir,” Apollo cut in to save the spiel. Look who didn't check the caller ID and tried to use their client voice! “I'm just calling to say I might be a while.” A sound of understanding. Apollo tried not to sigh directly into the speaker as he considered how to word his problem. “I'm currently travelling to the detention centre to speak with a detective charged with the murder of Romein LeTouse, having been ambushed by the detective's friend on my break.” There was a pained silence from his speaker.

Again?” groaned Mr Gavin at last. Yeah, that was about what he expected from that comment.

“I'll let your brother explain.” Apollo thrust the phone at Klavier. “Gavin. Phone.”

“Can't,” he responded indignantly. “I'm driving.” Apollo glared and pushed out his arm again. “Herr Forehead, I'm not going to be responsible for an accident!”

“...Has anyone told you you're the least rebellious rockstar ever?” Apollo grumbled; his phone continued to hover near the prosecutor's head. Klavier briefly side eyed him.

“I may be a rockstar, but my first duty is to uphold the law.” Apollo pouted at him, eyes still narrowed. He wasn't even sure Klavier could see his incredible feat of intimidation. “Herr Forehead, just put it on speaker!” Rolling his eyes, Apollo pressed the appropriate key. “Hallo, Kristoph!”

“Oh good, you two are quite finished!” sniffed the man still back in the office. “So, Klavier, care to explain what you're doing, kidnapping my apprentice?”

“I'm not kidnapping him!” Klavier protested. “He's here of his own free will!”

“You threatened to steal my lunch!” shot in Apollo. “That's coercion!”

“It was only one piece of sushi!”

“The intent was there!”

“Children, please!” chided Kristoph with an audible sigh of disapproval.

“Sorry, sir!”

“Sorry, Kris!”

“Now, Klavier,” he continued. “If you would explain yourself?” Klavier nodded, then obviously realised that phonecalls did not, by default, involve anything but audio.

“Frau von Karma's apparently found new evidence,” he explained. “I got a panicked call from Daryan around twenty minutes ago yelling he'd been detained for Herr LeTouse's murder, and a few other charges.” Well that timeframe would explain why Crescend hadn't got an attorney yet. Apollo couldn't help but feel a little smug at the fact Klavier had asked him for help so readily. “So I've enlisted Herr For- Herr Justice's help. I'm guessing he hasn't got another case on his plate already?” Apollo shook his head. Klavier smiled slightly. “...And I have this strange feeling you wouldn't want to sit through the case of the deadly Gavinners concert, ja?” Another light sigh sounded through Apollo's phone.

“Very well,” Kristoph said. “Justice, update me when you know for certain if you have a client or not.”

“Yes, sir!” he chirped.

Apollo shuffled his phone back into his pocket as the car stopped at a red light. “...He was won over unusually quickly,” said Klavier. Apollo looked over, seeing him frown ahead and tap his fingers on the steering wheel. “I was expecting more resistance.” He had a point there.

“I think Mr Gavin's just in a good mood today,” Apollo mused. “Maybe he got a particularly good night's sleep.” The tap of nails on the wheel slowed, and halted.

“Kristoph... didn't tell you anything since Friday?” Klavier asked tentatively. “About me?” Apollo tilted his head and tried to recall the past few days.

“Well, he told me the story of how you got fired from a paper round,” Apollo said. “The one with the beehive?” Klavier let out a nervous chuckle. “Actually, I can ask now without the phone interrupting; why the hell did they have a beehive on their lawn?”

“You don't remember that fad?” Apollo stared him down dully.

“I think that one missed my neighbourhood, actually.” Klavier stared onwards as the traffic moved off again.

“As long as he didn't take out the family photo album,” he chuckled, voice sounding strained. Apollo watched the man's jaw clench. He sighed and settled back in his seat, watching the cars before them.

“At least the bees were an accident,” he said, watching out for his companion's reaction in his peripheral vision. “If we're swapping stories about cruddy ways we got fired from temp jobs, I'm warning you now, I'm going to win.” Finally Klavier glanced over. Bait taken.

“Oh?” he hummed with interest. “Don't leave us in suspense, Herr Forehead.”

“Right, so...” Truly the best way to start a story Justice, well done. “Back when I was a teenager-”

“So when you looked like an infant, ja?” teased Klavier. Apollo glared at the interruption.

“I will hit you. There will be an accident and it will be awkward to explain to the insurance company.” Klavier held one hand up in mock surrender. “When I was a teenager I worked retail on the holidays a lot, 'cause they were always hiring, and apparently I liked pain. But at this one place, on my first day I had this woman come up to me – you know the type, soccer mom, all that stuff – with some broken train toy and kept saying that it was the only one left on the shelves so could I please get one from the back. And I kept telling her that if that was the only one left, it was the only one left and another one wasn't magically going to appear if she bothered the staff enough. And she just kept getting so angry? Kept saying how miserable her son was gonna be if he didn't get this specific dumb toy for Christmas, and how all her plans were ruined by me not conjuring a new one up and not, you know, the fact she forgot about her son until the twenty-third. And she just kept bothering me and bothering me, until eventually I got so pissed off I shoved her into this huge display of chocolate reindeer.” Apollo grinned and glanced over at Klavier. “I got fired on the spot and we had to pay her off with broken chocolate to stop her suing. I didn't even get a paycheck from that place at all, after 'damages' got taken out of my wages.” He sighed and looked back at the road. “...Still kinda hard to regret though; she was really annoying.”

Klavier laughed. “You know, Forehead,” he said airily. “As much as I sympathise with your teenage woes, you do realise you've just confessed your previous misadventures in assault to a state prosecutor, ja?” Apollo slapped his hands over his mouth, feeling himself flush profusely. He pointed accusingly at the laughing prosecutor.

“Th-that was when I was a minor!” he objected. “And no one actually got hurt! So it would've been sealed by now anyway!” Klavier kept laughing anyway.

“Whatever you say, Herr Forehead.” Apollo burrowed his hands into his lap and stared at them, as the car continued to make its merry way towards the detention centre.



“Ugh, you finally showed up?” groaned Crescend as they entered the visitor's room. His hair was out of its pompadour, casually slung back in a ponytail instead, and he had on a considerably smaller amount of shiny metal jewellery.

“Ah, ja, my teleporter broke down you see,” smirked Klavier right back at him, quickly taking a seat; Apollo followed next to him. The prosecutor's face turned serious. “Have you heard anything new?” Crescend sneered at him harshly.

“What, in the past hour of getting stuck in a cell? Whaddya think, Gavin?!” Klavier had begun to tap on the sill in front of the partition irritably.

“Well I'm not the one working with Interpol!” Klavier shot back. “It's not as if you've kept me in the loop so far!”

“Um,” said Apollo, shuffling his feet uncomfortably. “Should I come back later or..?” All the little complaints Mr Gavin had given about his volume over the years were suddenly rushing back, directly into his ears.

“Nah, Hellspawn,” snipped Crescend. “If you're here on business, you get to stay right there.”

“...'Hellspawn'?” drawled Apollo. “How did I get that name?” Thinking about it, 'Sleeves' and 'Forehead' were actually kinda reasonable now. Crescend gave him a nasty grin.

“Just ignore him,” sighed Klavier, slouching back. “He sometimes calls Kristoph the devil.” Apollo looked confused. “When Daryan and I were teenagers he managed to walk into my brother's bedroom by mistake first thing in the morning.” He grinned across the glass partition. “And apparently he was scarred for life.”

“You weren't there, man!” protested Crescend. “How was I supposed to know he even slept?!”

“To be fair,” cut in Apollo, “if there was a human who genuinely didn't sleep, I'd put money on it being Mr Gavin.” If there was a human who Apollo didn't want to piss off first thing in the morning, he'd put money on it also being Mr Gavin.

“See?” Crescend enthused along with him, not actually bothering to look at him. “Anyone can see it!”

“I mean, I kinda have the insight of seeing how much caffeine the man ingests every day...” Apollo grinned sheepishly towards Klavier. “Seriously, I hope low blood pressure runs in your family. I don't want to be responsible for killing my boss via coffee-induced heart attack; I mean, I would've got rid of my best shot at a good lawyer!” He chuckled half-heartedly. Klavier gave a strained smile. Okay, gallows humour probably wasn't the best fit for the situation; that was on him. “...Anyway. Mr Crescend?”

“Yo.”

“Can you tell me what's happened on the case over the weekend?” Apollo asked. “Last I remember, Mr Tobaye was the suspect.” Crescend grunted and slouched back in his seat.

“Well he's not been cleared yet,” he said. “Out of custody for now, but he's not leaving state or anything.” Crescend tilted his head forwards and a few sections of long hair slipped over his shoulder. “Don't ask me how he's got off so light. Couple of days ago he told us he was all ready to confess. Then the moment I walked in he clammed up, wouldn't even speak to an interpreter.”

“That might be stress,” reasoned Apollo, making mental notes. “Especially considering how the interpreter was acting by the end of that trial.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Crescend grimaced. “Feel as bad as ya like for him, but we all know the brat's a killer.” Twitch. Apollo slipped from where his head rested on his left hand, and stared at his bracelet. Oh boy. Fleetingly he noticed Klavier shooting him a concerned look, before shaking his head and focussing back on Crescend. He'd closed his eyes by now and kicked his feet up onto the sill of the partition. “We were already running dry when he said he wanted to talk. Screwing us over like that...” He growled to himself and looked at Apollo. “Trust me, there's nothing there at that crime scene anymore. It's crawling with guys now. There's no way someone's not messed something up somewhere!” Apollo tried not to react along with his bracelet. Weird. He couldn't see Crescend messing with his hair or clothes or anything.

“Maybe they're focussing on some other thing about the crime, if they're getting in a bunch of new people?” suggested Apollo. Actually... “Kl- I mean, Prosecutor Gavin mentioned 'other charges' earlier. What are those, exactly?”

“Cocoon smuggling,” said Crescend. Apollo waited for him to elaborate. There was a silence, in which he was fairly sure he was the only one confused.

“Like... caterpillar cocoons?” he probed. Because that was... really dumb sounding, if he was honest. It was suddenly dawning on the two musicians in the room that this was the first time he was hearing any sort of mention of this.

“Like silk cocoons, Herr Forehead,” Klavier explained. “Though, more dangerous. And also very, very illegal.”

“Um. Right.” Danger cocoons. Of course.

“Ach, Daryan, has that info been cleared yet?” Crescend looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Only if you're officially involved,” he finally settled on. “So, you're here to be my lawyer, right?” He gave Apollo a slightly menacing grin. “Better confirm it already, 'cause then, I can say what you're in for.” That seemed... backward, somehow. Hesitantly, Apollo nodded, and gestured towards the guard.

“In that case, Mr Crescend, I am willing to represent you.”

 

Chapter Text

A considerable amount of paperwork and a quick discussion on Borginian Cocoons later, Apollo waved goodbye to Crescend, experiencing a sinking feeling as his bracelet immediately fell loose once more. Klavier smiled at him and offered a hand to stand. If this could not become another Attila Tilata situation, that would be great. Wait, no, that wasn't quite her name... “Shall we make our way to the crime scene, Herr Forehead?” he heard Klavier say, voice lilting overly cheerily. Apollo's wrist twinged again. Can't fool everyone, Gavin. Apollo gave him a sympathetic look and a thumbs up, reaching for his phone as they exited the detention centre. Barely a single ring and,

“News, Justice?”

“Detective Crescend agreed to let me defend him, sir,” replied Apollo, following Klavier towards the car.

“Excellent. Will you be investigating right away? I assume the trial is tomorrow, after all.” Klavier waved at him from the driver's seat. Apollo couldn't help but think he was starting to mimic a hyperactive puppy.

“Yes, sir. Prosecutor Gavin wanted to assist me; would that be alright?” “Please can we not have a repeat of last week. Please.”

“In investigation?”

“Mm.” A pause on the other end of the line as Apollo held the car door half open, waiting.

“In this case,” Mr Gavin said thoughtfully, “I believe my brother may be an asset. Make good use of him, Justice.”

“Will do, sir!” The dial tone blared at him as he finally slipped into the passenger's seat. Klavier had already started the engine and was tapping distractedly at the wheel while Apollo did up his seatbelt. “Right,” he said with a deep breath. “Investigation here we come! Klavier Gavin, welcome to the life of a defence attorney!”



Badge: check. Letter of request: check. Captive prosecutor: check.

“What was that last part about a captive prosecutor, Herr Forehead?”

“Nothing you were meant to hear.” Apollo started to stride towards Sunshine Coliseum's back entrance, not really waiting for Klavier to catch up.

“That makes it all the more worrying,” Klavier whined, quickly closing the gap between them anyway. Damn his long legs!

“People are nicer to prosecutors,” Apollo said grumpily. “Everyone knows that. So you're my ticket to make people be nice to me.” “And also not assume I'm a child.” Klavier hummed in amusement.

“You realise I could instead turn them against you, ja?” he smirked.

“You could,” admitted Apollo. “But don't have a good reason to, so unless you're after some sort of power high, you won't.” A devilish glint entered the prosecutor's eye.

“Who says that's not exactly what I'm after?” he said, voice suddenly lowered to almost a purr. Apollo just blinked owlishly up at him.

“...You get weird when you're nervous.” Not in the regular cold sweat way, but okay, rockstar persona could go on the list too. Klavier coughed awkwardly at that, hand automatically raising to play with his hair. Man this guy was easy to read sometimes.

“I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Uh huh, sure. Whatever you say, buddy.” Apollo casually patted his arm; he felt Klavier tense up a little as he did so. “To be fair, though, I'd worry about you if you weren't at least a little bit nervous about your friend being the prime suspect in a murder-slash-smuggling case. I'll do my best though, don't worry!”

The guard at the door this time saluted the pair and stepped aside immediately to let them inside. He didn't even get to present his badge? Come on now!

As Crescend had said, the backstage area was now bustling with people in matching black suits. “Well this is different,” Apollo commented. Suddenly self conscious of how literally everyone in the corridor had multiple inches on him, Apollo bit his lip and tried to hop up on tiptoe to scan for anyone who seemed to be in charge.

“If only you had an umbrella,” Klavier sighed. “Or perhaps a teddy on a stick. It would make it easier to follow you.” Apollo wasn't entirely sure what he was talking about, but pushed forwards anyway, making for where he remembered Lamiroir's dressing room to be. The door opened right as he got there, and another man in black almost smacked into him. Apologising, Apollo finally edged into the definite scene of the crime and let out a relieved sigh; it was far emptier than outside, presumably because the police had checked it over plenty when it was just a murder case. Except... something felt off this time... An idea suddenly forming, Apollo took out his phone and tapped into his photos, flicking through to the ones he'd taken when investigating before. He wandered around the couch set and held up the picture for comparison.

“Ah!” he exclaimed. “The wall! It's in a different place!”

“What?!” Klavier shuffled around to look at the screen too and frowned. Sure enough, the division between the sitting area and the make-up area jutted out at least a foot more in the picture from the previous week. Apollo followed the odd metal strip on the wall's end up, until it met the ceiling.

“The wall moves?” he murmured. Trying not to stumble on the musical debris all over the place, he made for the wall and tugged. Sure enough, what he had assumed was just some odd art installation or a curtain or something stretched out further and further, until it almost entirely dissected the room.

“Scheiße,” hissed Klavier, himself walking towards the door back to the corridor. “Our dressing room didn't do that!” Apollo watched as the man tilted in place at the entrance, looking towards the other side of the room. He was about to ask, when he realised what was going on.

“You can't see the body, right?” he asked, pushing the wall back into place.

“Nein,” Klavier confirmed. “And I'd assume someone was changing back there if I walked in.” Apollo's face fell as he remembered why he had been so sure of Machi's guilt.

“So if the wall was out...”

“Anyone near the entrance would have no idea a body was there at all,” Klavier finished for him. “Which may change the time frame completely.”

“Well, Mr Tobaye still has the gunshots to contend with,” Apollo said, hopefully sounding more optimistic than he felt. And at least Detective Skye was safe thanks to double jeopardy. That was a load off him.

“Ach, and if he's off the hook, Frau von Karma's found a way around that also.” Apollo glared at him.

“In that case we'll just have to find a way around her as well!” Digging his notebook out of his bag, Apollo jotted down information about the moveable partition, and snapped another pic of the scene. “But first, let's get to somewhere else; I can't see anything else new in here.”

“Lead the way, Herr Forehead.”



Over in the Gavinners' dressing room, it looked as if a bomb had hit. “Jeez, no wonder the police miss so much evidence if this is what they leave behind,” muttered Apollo as he prodded at a broken guitar case with his foot. There appeared to be even more paperwork scattered about than when he'd investigated with Trucy. “How do you even mess up something like this that badly?” Klavier chuckled.

“My lock picking skills don't match up to your lofty dreams, then?” Apollo gave him a disbelieving stare.

“How, and also why?”

“You already know my keys went missing before the concert, nein?” Apollo blatantly eyed the various other instruments unpacked by their cases and in a haphazard pile by one wall. “...It was a special guitar, Herr Forehead. That had to be treated with proper care and respect.” What, was it his child or something?

“This wouldn't happen to be the magical spontaneously combusting guitar, would it?” Klavier's eyes narrowed angrily for a moment.

“How can you speak of it so... off-handedly?!” he harrumphed. “Such a waste of such a fine piece of Borginian workmanship!” Apollo was fairly sure he could see the beginning of tears in the prosecutor's eyes.

“Well, clearly that guitar meant a lot to you,” said Apollo soothingly. “But look on the bright side! You don't need to give it a funeral; it's already been cremated!” A horrified, scandalised look appeared on Klavier's face. He looked somehow closer to tears. “...I'm guessing my career in counselling is a dim one?” Klavier's face dulled and he nodded wordlessly. Then he frowned as he bent down to check inside the case. Apollo raised his eyebrows and knelt next to him. Weirdly, the velvety inside had been covered in white powder and sticky residue. “Okay, I'm not a musician, but I'm fairly sure none of that is good for guitars, right?”

“Ja,” Klavier confirmed, biting his lip and getting to his feet. “That looks like someone's been looking for something in particular.” His eyes flicked towards a man in black sitting up on the table and reading a file. “Herr Schutzmann, can you tell us what you've been testing for in this guitar case?” The man looked up and between them.

“Organic matter, sir!” he barked. He looked back down at his file.

“And did you find any?” prompted Apollo when he kept reading.

“Yes, sir!” Back at the file. Apollo sighed.

“Can we have the forensics report then, please?”

“Yes, sir!” The man in black saluted and held out the same report he was reading. He immediately picked up a different file and started to read that instead. What a strange guy. Apollo quickly scanned the page. Traces of cocoon silk found on residual tape adhesive. Little marks had been placed on an attached photo of the lid.

“...My guitar was a mule?” breathed Klavier behind him.

“The case was, at least.” Apollo sighed and rubbed his temples. “Why do I get the feeling you're about to tell me something incredibly incriminating about that case?” He slipped the sheet into his bag as Klavier groaned.

“I shipped it here from Borginia using a particular service usually reserved for fragile evidence,” he said weakly. “To stop the wood from being damaged, you see. But... it doesn't go through customs like normal Borginian exports. I think... I think I may have found the one way to get a cocoon into America.” He groaned again and dug the heels of his palms into his eyes. Unsure what else to do, Apollo tried to pat him comfortingly on the back.

“Well, you weren't the only one who knew about it, right?” Apollo tried, faux-cheerfully. Klavier gave him a thoroughly miserable look. “Please tell me you told someone what you were doing. Any leads at all. Please.” By now, the prosecutor had migrated over to the wall and was pressing his forehead against it, eyes shut. “Look, Prosecutor Gavin, if Interpol were coming after you for accidentally smuggling a highly controlled, incredibly dangerous, ultra illegal drug, I'm pretty sure you'd know about it.” Klavier opened one eye, still looking ill.

“And if they just haven't put the pieces together yet?”

“They've got far enough in whatever theory they've got going that they've got forensics checking the case,” Apollo reasoned. The pity party was starting to test his patience at this point. C'mon, man, there was still your friend to clear of a death penalty! “You're pretty much the number one target! If you're even allowed back into the theatre, you're not a suspect!” Frustratedly he folded his arms and watched Klavier as his words filtered through.

Like magic, the rockstar prosecutor was back, smile on face, no obvious indication of his mid-investigation crisis. “Achtung, baby, we still have work to do!” Jeez, this guy didn't go halfway with his moodswings.

“You do you, Gavin,” Apollo sighed under his breath, pretending not to be thankful that he could stop trying to be comforting now. Dammit, he was a lawyer, not a therapist



“Seriously, why do you need so many guitars at one concert?” Apollo complained as they walked towards the wings. “I've already counted thirteen since we've been here. Thirteen, Gavin.”

“If you're up to thirteen, you've been counting at least one bass along with them.”

“Well, yeah,” Apollo said. “Bass guitars are still guitars.”

“Herr Forehead, the bass is a completely different instrument,” Klavier pouted at him.

“You hold it by the neck and pluck the strings. Same instrument.”

“You can play a violin like that as well,” Klavier pointed out. “Does that make me a violinist?”

“Play a guitar with a bow, then get back to me with that false comparison.”

“First admit you're calling something with four strings the same as something with six strings, then we'll talk, ja?” Apollo glared at him for a couple more seconds before marching ahead.

The stage itself had apparently established itself as the new place to be, with all the people swarming around the piano and instrument cases.

“All clear, sir!” barked one of them towards two people not in uniform: one tall, in sunglasses and a furry collar, and the other considerably shorter, with short blue hair and a pencil skirt. Apollo's heart clenched a bit; he'd actually managed to find someone at the crime scene who didn't tower a foot above him! He glanced her over one more time and his heart clenched again; that was definitely a whip she was holding. Beside him, he saw Klavier follow his line of sight and audibly (even over the bustle of investigation) gulp.

“Haha, Herr Forehead,” he said, “I think I'll just go search over-” Apollo grabbed firmly onto his sleeve and dragged the prosecutor after him. “Now this is just unnecessary.”

“You're going to have to confront her at some point,” he hissed through gritted teeth. “And I sure as hell ain't going in without moral support.” “Or a human shield.” Von Karma turned her head as they approached. Apollo let go of his unwilling assistant and held his hand out for her to shake. “Prosecutor von Karma, I believe?” he said, all smiles. “I'm Apollo Justice, Detective Crescend's lawyer.” Von Karma's leather-clad grip was uncomfortably firm. Channel the strength of your inner Gavin, Justice. He cleared his throat as Klavier tried to back away. The other Gavin. Definitely channel the other Gavin. “I hear you've already met Prosecutor Gavin.”

“Ah, ja!” stuttered out Klavier, hand knuckle deep in his fringe. “Good to see you again, Frau von Karma!” Apollo thought he was doing a rather good job keeping the fear out of his voice, all things considered. Von Karma raised one perfect eyebrow and placed one perfect hand on the handle of the whip at her belt. The words 'that', 'escalated', and 'quickly' rushed to the forefront of his mind.

“Apollo Justice, have you foolishly aligned yourself with a fool such as this Jüngling Gavin?” she asked, voice clipped. Apollo eyed the whip warily.

“Since he has a personal stake in this case,” he said slowly, cautiously, “I thought it would be good to have his input..?” He trailed off, waiting for some sort of reaction from von Karma. Her grip on her whip clenched. “But I didn't come over just to talk about my assistant. I was actually after some information on the case.”

“Hmph, at least you don't try to hide it,” von Karma sniffed derisively. “But if you think I am the sort of prosecutor to collude with a foolish defence attorney, then you will face the end of my whip, Apollo Justice.” To punctuate it, she flexed the leather menacingly.

“Don't worry, Prosecutor von Karma,” Apollo smiled back. “I'm not after collusion or anything; I just want us to be on an even playing field in court tomorrow!” Crack! Apollo jolted backwards, fairly sure that squeak had indeed come from his own mouth, since from what he could see, Klavier had taken the opportunity to flee. Von Karma flexed her whip before her again; his forearm stung.

“Only a fool believes a von Karma could be taken in by such foolishly twisted logic!” she shouted. Apollo rubbed his sore arm nervously. “Your foolish idea of a fair fight is nothing but an incompetent fool's foolish cry for help!” Had this woman ever heard of a thesaurus? “I will not help you aid a criminal!”

“Hey, Crescend's guilt hasn't been proven yet!” Apollo interjected. What was it with prosecutors and premature assumptions? Von Karma smiled smugly, and held up a smug finger.

“But it will be,” she said. “And you will see how foolish you've been.” Apollo gave a resigned sigh.

“Right, sure, looking forward to it.” “I'm still gonna win, but whatever.” “I'll just, leave you to your job then.” The other, furrier person not in uniform called for her, and von Karma turned away from him. Conversation over then?

Apollo retreated and scanned the area for his runaway assistant. A beacon of blond hair peeked over the sea of black caps, back in the wings. Gotcha! Apollo walked over and tugged on his sleeve. “Oi, scaredy-cat.” The prosecutor looked down at the sound of his voice, eyes immediately drawn to the nasty red line blooming across his forearm. He grimaced.

“Well, we're a pair now at least, ja?”

“We'd be more of a pair if you hadn't bailed on me,” he muttered darkly.

“Well, did you find anything useful anyway?” Apollo mumbled out a negative, scuffing his feet against a loose piece of tape on the floor. “Ach, thought not.”

“You could've warned me a little bit what I was up against!” Apollo shot.

“Was me trying to run away not enough of a hint?” returned Klavier incredulously.

“...Point taken.” Apollo shook his head. “But at least I tried doing something potentially useful!” Even if it ended in pain. Horrible, horrible pain. Klavier raised his eyebrows and smirked.

“And you assume I didn't, Herr Forehead?” Apollo tilted his head; Klavier beckoned him to follow towards the backstage corridor once more. “I asked the lovely Fräuleins over there,” he whispered, pointing out a trio of women in uniform, gathered around some electronic device, “about Frau von Karma's little secret. Charm gets you further than shouting you know.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Apollo huffed with a roll of his eyes. “I'll bet they were only nice to you because of your prosecutor's badge.” Klavier waggled his eyebrows suggestively and Apollo was suddenly reminded that he was also talking to a famous rockstar who regularly used chains as a prop and seemed to only own trousers made of leather. “I really hope I meant that literally. Anyway, I'm guessing you got what you were after? Otherwise you pulling me aside like this is kinda pointless?”

“Natürlich, my dear Forehead,” he smirked, before his face turned serious. “Apparently Lamiroir came forwards as a witness last night, claiming she heard gunshots during the concert.” Apollo frowned.

“She's saying that now? It's been like five days!” Klavier nodded solemnly.

“But that hardly matters now,” he said. “If Frau von Karma's deemed it so vital she's taken a new suspect in, then...” He shrugged. “I suppose we'll just have to rock with it in court, ja?” Apollo let himself chuckle at the man's showy air guitar.

“Let's talk to Crescend one more time before visiting hours are supposed to be over,” he said. Klavier nodded in agreement. “Then we can work out where the real culprit is lurking among this mess!” After all, the smuggler-cum-killer must have the evidence pointing to them! Right?

 

Chapter Text

When Apollo and Klavier emerged from Sunshine Coliseum, the sky was mostly clouded over and the occasional gust of wind blew litter rustling across the asphalt. “Same,” mumbled Klavier towards his foot, where a flyer for Lamiroir had caught in his laces. With a melodramatic sigh he hopped up on one leg and tugged at the thematically appropriate advertising. Apollo stopped and watched as a middle aged man with thick glasses walked up behind the prosecutor. Inevitably,

“Mr Gavin, isn't it?” Klavier lost his balance and crashed into Apollo as he whipped around. Turned out being whacked in the face by the Gavin drill hurt as much as Apollo imagined it would. Unperturbed, the man continued, “Um, my daughters are big fans of yours, and, well, I was wondering if you'd have time to sign their bags... They're quadruplets you see, and, um, since their birthday's coming up-”

“Ach, never fear, mein Herr!” Klavier interrupted, rockstar grin plastered over any previous expression. “I always have time for my fans.” He reached into his pocket and turned to Apollo. “Perhaps you should wait in the car, ja, Herr Forehead?” Apollo shot him a thumbs up and took the proffered keyring. Right, the parking lot was... that way! He examined the keyring idly as he walked; it appeared to be the same one LeTouse had grabbed from his killer, with its purple strap and heart-shaped ring. And... That was a Gavinners' logo. Who the hell put their logo on their own keyring?! Apollo rolled his eyes at even coming up with that question. Same guy who wore his own logo as a necklace. Obviously.

He didn't even get a chance to spot the child that rushed into him, sending him toppling towards a trash can and creating an almighty crash as its contents spilled. “Sorry Mister!” the child yelled, continuing to chase after their escaped balloon. Apollo groaned and got to his feet, heaving the trash can upright as well and tentatively placing the trash back into it. Why did this sort of thing happen so often to him?

One piece of paper in particular caught his attention, though. Apollo chucked away the last paper cup and squinted at the weird writing on the page. He looked back behind him to check on Klavier: now talking to a small gaggle of preteens. There was a poster for Lamiroir on the wall behind him that hadn't been taken down for the next show yet. And at the bottom was a bunch of characters that looked a lot like the writing on the note. Apollo stared back at it again. That would make it Borginian, probably. He took a breath and marched off quickly towards the car, finally getting there and sitting down in private, where he wouldn't be interrupted by any more rogue civilians. He whipped out his phone and brought up a translation app before examining the note again.

From the way it was laid out, it was obviously a letter, the positioning of the names being a dead giveaway. Scrolling through the options on his translator, Apollo finally found the option to input via photo (no, he didn't care the feature was in beta; why did they always have a pop up for that anyway?) and straightened out the note. One camera snap later (alongside a good thirty seconds of buffering and not particularly good phone signal), the translated text came up onscreen. Predictably both names had been left in the Borginian alphabet, but at least the bulk of it was intelligible.

The letter was received. Beware. The manager is the policeman. It knows about the cocoon but does not know the location. I heard it talking on the phone. Keep the guitar safe therefore it can not interfere. I do not want to die please.

It probably read better in the original language, but hey. Apollo grinned to himself. The afternoon hadn't been a total bust after all! Next, to piece together whatever the hell the names were and he had his smugglers! A quick internet search for the right alphabet, and he pulled out his trusty notepad. Right. So that first character made a 'd' sound...

He'd only gotten halfway through the first name when his heart sank. The last few letters didn't help either. The letter was definitely addressed to Crescend, unless 'Daryan' had become a popular name overnight. And Apollo certainly hadn't met anyone else called that. He started on the sender's name, silently thanking the mysterious quadruplets that were making Klavier not be there at that very moment. After another minute of checking back and forth, the second name revealed itself to be none other than Machi's. Well. At least Apollo hadn't been totally wrong about him, then. Resignedly he switched back into the translator and stared at the message again.

A bang on his window awoke him from his misery: a wave and a grin from Klavier Gavin. Apollo tossed the keys at him as he slipped into the driver's seat.

“Have fun with your adoring fans?” he snarked.

“They were certainly very... enthusiastic,” Klavier replied, jaw looking a little tight. “As much as I appreciate that spirit-”

“Bad timing, right?”

“Ja. Bad timing.” The familiar tapping of his fingers started up again aside the car's engine. “Now, to the detention centre.” Apollo made a small noise of agreement and stuffed the incriminating letter in his pocket. Better at least check with his client before jumping to conclusions.



They'd barely gotten into the waiting room when a detective ran up to Klavier, a grim look on their face. “Prosecutor Gavin, I'm gonna need you to come in for questioning,” they said sternly, not bothering to spare a look at Apollo. Klavier just looked tired.

“Could this not wait until-”

“We're on a tight schedule, Mr Gavin, and this is an important matter. Please come with me.” Klavier opened his mouth again, and sighed, turning to Apollo.

“It's fine,” Apollo said before the other man could speak. “I can speak to Crescend alone; I've got all the same info as you anyway, right?” And potentially more... “You go get questioned, and I'll see you before trial tomorrow, got it?”

“Got it,” Klavier returned, throwing him a thumbs up and slouching after the detective. “Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Forehead!”

Daryan was brought with no delay to the visitor's room. “'Sup, Pointy.” Apollo rolled his eyes. Was this guy going to come up a new nickname every single time they met? “Gavin with you?” Apollo shook his head.

“Detective wanted to see him for some reason,” he recounted. “Didn't say why. But actually, Mr Crescend, this makes it much easier on me.” Crescend raised an eyebrow as he retrieved the letter from his pocket. Apollo pressed it to the glass. “Explain this. Now.” His wrist twinged as Crescend's eyes widened momentarily.

“...Dunno why you're showing me that,” he replied haughtily, brushing at a few strands of hair. “My Borginian's real crappy to be honest. I can't give you a translation of that lot.”

“Actually, Mr Crescend,” Apollo said, smiling. “I don't need you to translate; I already know what it says.” He lowered the paper to the partition's sill, still in Crescend's line of sight. “Welcome to the twenty-first century, where we're never too far from a computer that does the hard work for us. Shall I read what the letter says in English?” He showily took out his phone. Crescend snarled, face crunching up cruelly.

“Fine,” he snapped. “Yes, I know what it says, but in case you hadn't noticed, I didn't write that note. Hell, I've never seen that thing until just now!” A telltale twitch of his eye on the word 'that'. So his pet theory of this being the last of a series of notes held water.

“No, that doesn't surprise me,” Apollo ceded. “Since it managed to get thrown out, I'm guessing it got lost somewhere along the line. Sorry about that, by the way. Things might have turned out better if you knew who to avoid.”

“I... don't know what you're going after here,” Crescend growled, any ferocity undermined by his heavy swallow.

“I think it's time to come clean, Mr Crescend. You and Machi Tobaye are partners in crime. After all, Tobaye wouldn't think to use a guitar as a drug mule on his own, would he? Your knowledge of the evidence shipping system Prosecutor Gavin used was the only reason a cocoon made it past customs. But you missed the warning to stay away from LeTouse and panicked when he confronted you. Which explains how he ended up murdered even though Tobaye had been doing a fine job of flying under his radar.” Thinking about it, a lot more of Machi's actions were starting to fit better. “Mr Crescend, the evidence shows that you are largely responsible both for the smuggling of a controlled substance, and the murder of Romein LeTouse. And the fact you were the lead detective on the case for so long is a whole other matter.” Like, really. Jeez.

Curiously, Crescend didn't crack. He just slouched back and crossed his arms loosely over his chest.

“So?” he shrugged. Apollo blinked.

“So you're the criminal!”

“And?”

“What do you mean 'and'?! You killed someone!” Apollo slammed his clenched fists on the sill.

“It's not like you're the only one who's worked that out,” Crescend laughed harshly. He gestured around the room. “Or haven't you noticed, I've already been arrested.”

“Uh.”

“Man, you got all caught up in playing detective, didn't you? Well tough luck, Justice, you're on the wrong side.” He sighed and grinned menacingly up at the ceiling. “You know, for the protégé of one of the most respected defence attorneys in California, you're pretty shit at your job!”

“Now that's just... that's just personal.”

“Yeah, but since I've got the death penalty hanging over my head, I don't really care, you know?” Crescend sighed again and sat up straight. “Anyway, you should go work on your strategy. I'll see you when you get me off tomorrow, yeah?” He gave a mocking little salute and heaved himself to his feet.

“What do you mean 'when I get you off'?” Apollo shouted. “I'm not defending you after that!” Crescend frowned at him.

“Yeah, actually, you are. You already signed the paperwork to be my lawyer. You did see how much that stuff from Interpol complicated it, right?”

“Mr Crescend, I think you'll find I have,” Apollo pulled out his phone to check the time, “at least half an hour to track down someone and file to drop your case.”

“Aw, and you'll just let me rot in the hands of some state appointed nobody? I wonder how Gavin'll react to that one: his best friend just left to the wolves by the guy he asked for. I'm sure that'll do wonders for his head.” Apollo felt his nails digging into his palms. “D'you think he'll take it out on you or himself? I'm not sure,you know. And boy would the rest of the band be screwed if I ended up dead! Fans can be crazy enough at the best of times, but towards the guy they know put the final nail in their idol's coffin? Imagine all the death threats!”

“Mr Crescend-” He looked frantically at the guard across the room. Said guard continued to stare absently at the window.

“Probably not so great if word got around the legal world either,” he continued amiably. Apollo could see his own hands shaking. His suit felt at least three sizes too small. A rather novel feeling, in all honesty. “I've seen how old Krissy reacts when his little bro ends up the wrong end of the gossip mill, and they're related-”

“Mr Crescend, that's enough!” Apollo interjected, louder this time. “I get it, okay!”

“So I'll see you in court, then?” Apollo nodded, swearing his tongue had been glued to the roof of his mouth. “Sweet. See you then!” And alongside the guard that had brought him in, he walked right back out.

Apollo took a deep breath to steady himself, and got to his feet. Thankfully, Klavier hadn't left questioning yet, leaving him to catch the bus back towards the office in peace.



“Ah, you're finally back, Justice,” Mr Gavin greeted as he set his satchel down by his desk. “I trust your investigation went well?” He emerged from his office, and stood in the doorway, watching. “You look a little green around the gills; are you quite alright?” Apollo looked up, wince halfway on his face already.

“Well,” he stammered out. He took a deep breath. “My client's definitely guilty, sir.” Mr Gavin merely raised his brow and tilted his head.

“Whatever brought this on?” he asked. “I am aware that my brother doesn't keep the best company, but murder is quite the step up from staying out too late drinking.”

“Don't forget there's smuggling too,” Apollo mumbled. His boss cleared his throat. “Crescend confessed to everything, once I showed him this.” Apollo held out the Borginian note for Mr Gavin to examine.

“Justice, I'm not sure what you want me to look at,” he commented. “I can't read a word of this.” Apollo blinked, then fumbled for his notepad, where he'd written the translation for the whole thing.

“Sorry, sir,” he said sheepishly. “Wrong version of the letter. Here.” Mr Gavin scanned it for a moment.

“This 'Machi' is the child you indicted for murder, is it not?” Apollo nodded, logging onto the computer on his desk and getting the relevant reports from his bag. “Then this note means nothing.”

“Sir, Crescend himself confirmed they were in cahoots,” Apollo argued back. Hello? Any help and support for his legwork? “And as I said, he confessed right after.”

“And you haven't considered the possibility of him protecting the child?” his boss said without missing a beat. “'Women and children first' is a sentiment still held by many in this day and age.”

“I know he was telling the truth!”

“Really, now.” Apollo grabbed hold of his left wrist.

“My bracelet didn't react at all while he was saying he was a criminal!” His boss folded his arms.

“So you are abandoning your role because your jewellery has decided to behave like jewellery usually does.” Apollo ground his teeth.

“It's led me to the right place so far,” he shot. “Wocky Kitaki's fiancée wouldn't even been called to the stand if my bracelet hadn't helped me!” His boss raised an eyebrow in surprise, before shaking his head and clearing his expression.

“You give yourself too much credit. Tell me Justice, have you watched any television since then? Or movies, perhaps?”

“Huh?” Apollo frowned at the sudden subject change. “I... Well I had a sci-fi marathon with my friend a couple of weeks ago.”

“Good. And what did your bracelet tell you?” There was that smug smile right there. Apollo deflated.

“Nothing, sir,” he said. “It didn't react at all.” He struggled to keep looking at Mr Gavin as he ran his thumb over the metal bangle on his wrist. Mr Gavin's smile softened.

“I see you understand the point I am trying to make. You aren't special because you have the power to notice when people touch their neck, Justice, and it saddens me to see you using it as a crutch.”

“The thing about crutches is the person's worse off without them,” Apollo said testily before he could stop himself. Seriously, the man who couldn't see the other side of his own office without his glasses was going to give him a speech about the use of crutches?

“...It is a figure of speech, Justice.”

“I know,” he said, arms folding and face contorting into a pout. “I'm just saying it's a bad figure of speech.” Mr Gavin frowned and closed the distance between them; he sharply tapped his arms with one finger.

“Apollo, I have told you before,” he said lowly. “If you do not wish to be perceived as a petulant child by those around you, do not present yourself as one.” Apollo jolted, and forcibly dropped his shoulders and relaxed his expression. “Better. Now if you would go make both of us some tea, and I'll help you build this case just this once, since you appear to be struggling.” Apollo sighed and walked towards the kitchenette.

“Yes, sir.”

 

Chapter Text

By the time Crescend was escorted into the defendant's lobby, Apollo and his boss had been sitting there in near silence for a good ten minutes. Apollo nodded towards his client, lips pulled taut; Crescend relaxed ever so slightly upon taking in Mr Gavin.

“Your bro call in sick or something?” he asked in that weirdly cautious tone usually used when someone wasn't sure if they were past the small talk stage with someone.

“Or, more likely, he overslept,” Mr Gavin replied conversationally.

“Could you really blame him for being tired?” Apollo grumbled under his breath. “Yesterday was tiring.” He didn't bother shielding his glare at Crescend. Not like anyone in here was in the dark about his feelings towards the guy.

“Justice,” chided his boss. “Professional courtesy, please.” Crescend snorted.

“Sorry, sir,” Apollo forced out. He resumed his miserable stare at his bag; looking at the actual evidence, he decided, was just going to make him feel worse.

“So you're still going after Machi, yeah?”

“Indeed. That is where critical thinking leads, after all.” A sigh. “Justice, you're fidgeting again. How many times do I have to tell you-”

“Sorry, sir.” Apollo hadn't even noticed when he'd started to jiggle his leg. He stopped.

Several sets of footsteps and voices faded into life and the lobby door swung open. “What a day already, ja?” Klavier chuckled strenuously. Three other men followed him in behind him, one who Apollo recognised as Andy Prince, and the other two Apollo presumed to be the remaining members of the Gavinners. Apollo forced his face into slightly less of a death mask.

“Ugh, are the paparazzi still stacking up?” groaned Crescend.

“Would they do anything else?” said Klavier with a sardonic grin. Great. Just what he wanted: more pressure. Apollo pushed himself to his feet, weaving around the others and leaving the lobby without making eye contact with anyone. Down the corridors, and eventually to the men's bathroom, he quickly surveyed the stalls: all empty.

He sighed, and leant his elbows on the sides of one of the sink, looking at his haggard face in the mirror. Wow, turned out getting only two hours sleep made you look like you only got two hours sleep. Who would've thought.

“I'm Apollo Justice, and I'm fine,” he recited. And he was about to get a murderer off even after- Deep breaths, Justice. “I'm Apollo Justice, and I'm fine!” Machi was getting a guilty verdict no matter how he cut it; this was just the path with the fewest casualties, remember? He looked back in the mirror. “I'm Apollo Justice, and I'm fine!” It'd all magically make sense once it was all laid out in court, right? Right! “I'M APOLLO JUSTICE AND I'M-”

“Herr Forehead, when hiding from people, it's usually a bad idea to shout your name so loud, ja?” Apollo whirled around, bashing his elbow on the rim of the basin in the process. Klavier stood in the doorway, Apollo's bag slung over his shoulder. The door closed behind him as he walked up to the line of sinks. “Stage fright?” Apollo turned back away.

“Something like that.” Well there went a considerable amount of psyching himself up, right down the plughole! Dammit, interrupting Gavin. He eyed his hands, thankful they weren't betraying him by shaking. He wasn't quite pathetic enough to be caught crying in a courthouse bathroom, thanks. ...That sounded like the premise of a Gavinners song: not helping, brain. He took another deep breath, suddenly self-conscious of having a Gavin hear his Chords of Steel exercises; if Klavier was anything like his boss, he was going to be hamming up an ear injury for hours. He heard shuffling from beside him and pre-emptively tensed.

“You'll probably want this.” Apollo waited, then turned. Klavier was holding forwards his bag, body language and expression otherwise totally neutral. Apollo gingerly took the strap, and placed it back over his own shoulder. “The bailiffs are trying to round us up, by the way. We should get going before they send a search party.”

“Another one, you mean?” A little chuckle.

“Ja. Another.” The prosecutor stepped back. Apollo stood, still closely examining the floor. Nope, no tells there. But he could tell they hadn't steam cleaned the room for a while...

“I don't mind if you don't want to stand at the bench, you know,” Apollo rushed, before he lost his nerve. “I know you've got the media breathing down your neck and if I screw up it'll blow up in your face and...” He gasped for a breath. “And being in with the defence could mess up your career with prosecution and-”

“Herr Justice.” Apollo cut himself off, and peered up at Klavier's face. He winced; the serious look sitting there seemed so out of place on the rockstar. “I'll tell you now, I'm not the kind of person to sit back and watch just so someone else can take the blame for me. That's not the kind of person I ever want to be.” Apollo gulped and his eyes darted to the side.

“I-I just have a really bad feeling about how this trial's going to go down, and I don't want that to... to...” He trailed off.

“All the more reason to stand by you, ja?” Klavier said, with a grin that came across about as forced as any last shred of optimism Apollo had. The prosecutor shook his head. “I'm afraid you won't get rid of me that easily, Herr Forehead; I'm told I can be very clingy.” Apollo looked concernedly at him, but eventually sighed in surrender and did a final check in the mirror. He made a little adjustment to his hair spikes. Perfect. “Now, to soothe the frayed nerves of the poor bailiffs on missing person duty, ja?”

Apollo tried to focus solely on the weight of his bag as they walked towards the courtroom, on the press of the strap into his shoulder, on the rhythmic brush of leather across his leg. He was Apollo Justice, and a lot of people were counting on him.



The sound of the gavel echoed through the courtroom. “Court is now in session for the trial of Daryan Crescend.”

“The prosecution is ready, your Honor,” said von Karma in a clipped voice.

“The defence is ready, your Honor!” Apollo's throat already felt scratchy.

“Hm, Mr Gavin,” hummed the judge. “If you don't mind me saying, you look... different somehow.” Oh come on now; at least Apollo had the excuse of not even knowing the existence of a second Mr Gavin. Klavier just laughed, leaning forwards and shaking his bangs away from his eyes.

“I believe you've mistaken my identity... Herr Judge.”

“Oh! Prosecutor Gavin? Whatever are you doing on the defence bench? Shouldn't a prosecutor be, well, prosecuting?”

“Oh, natürlich, but today I am not a prosecutor, but instead a humble legal aide.” Because 'humble' and 'Klavier Gavin' belonged in the same sentence.

“Oh, well then.” The judge looked over towards the prosecutor's bench. “Then, you have no objections to this, Prosecutor von Karma?” Von Karma crossed her arms.

“If Klavier Gavin wishes to live out his foolish dreams as a defence attorney, then I will not try to stop him.” Apollo frowned to himself.

“Is she pronouncing your name weirdly because she's not over you calling her 'Fräulein'?” Apollo whispered to his foolish legal aide. Not that anybody had explained what that was about. Klavier frowned back at him, before his eyes widened in understanding.

“Ach, nein,” he said quietly. “She's just pronouncing it as the German word it is.”

“Oh shoot,” Apollo hissed. “Does that mean I've been saying your name wrong? Gah, I'm really sorry!”

“It's fine, Herr Forehead,” Klavier said with a smile. “I'm rather partial to how it sounds when treated as English.”

Crack!

The two lawyers at the defence bench sprang apart as the whip hit the wood before them. “Why?!” shouted Apollo reflexively. Von Karma flexed her whip.

“Stop wasting time!” she snapped. “A trial is no time for foolish emotional bonding!”

“We weren't-” Another flex of the whip. “Okay, fine, we're done.”

“Your opening statement, Prosecutor von Karma?” said the judge. She nodded, and hooked the whip back onto her belt. When she wasn't trying to injure him, she came across as kinda cool, really.

“On the night of the 7th, the defendant, Daryan Crescend, shot and killed the undercover agent Romein LeTouse in order to cover up his involvement in an international smuggling plot. The evidence and testimony the appropriate forces have gathered proves that no one else could be the culprit of either of these crimes.”

“That'll be decided after the defence has had its go at it,” Apollo said firmly, holding von Karma's piercing gaze.

“Then the defence...” started the judge.

“The defence asserts that Mr Crescend is not guilty of the murder of Romein LeTouse nor the smuggling of Borginian Cocoons.” Over in his seat, Crescend nodded along. Smug bastard.

“Hmph. Foolish, Apollo Justice. Foolish indeed.” Apollo resisted the urge to roll his eyes; coming across as childish wasn't what he wanted to do right now. He was the youngest in the room as it was.

Suddenly the judge cleared his throat. “Now, one thing I don't understand,” he said loudly (though still by all appearances to himself), “is why the prosecution is demanding such a high sentence over a bunch of cocoons!” Von Karma sighed.

“Your Honor,” she said tetchily. “The copy of the autopsy report I provided also contains a brief summary of Borginian Cocoons and the dangers of them. Read it.” Looking more than a little put out at the prospect, the judge reached for something beside his seat. “The prosecution calls its witness to the stand.” Klavier hummed in thought.

“Strange,” he murmured while the people of the court bustled around. “Doesn't that make it sound like she only has the one?” Apollo frowned.

“You're right,” he said. “I didn't think Lamiroir would be brought out so early.” Klavier chewed on his lip and looked back towards the stand.

“You say that...” Apollo followed his gaze.

“I was expecting her to look more like her picture,” he quipped. Klavier poked him in the ribs.

“Herr Forehead, that's obviously not her.”

“Hey, hey, I'm not judging what she looks like without photoshopping!” Klavier levelled him a flat look while Apollo just stifled a giggle. All in favour of blaming it on nerves? The judge's gavel cut through their exchange; they quickly settled along with the gallery.

“Name and occupation,” recited von Karma. The witness removed his sunglasses, and placed them in his pocket. ...Wait, why had he been wearing them if he was just going to take them off right away?!

“Shi-Long Lang. Interpol investigator.” “The sort of guy who needs to be introduced with dramatic saxophone music if the snazzy leather coat is anything to go by.”

“Thank you, Agent Lang. Now please explain to the defence why only Daryan Crescend could be the culprit, in simple enough terms that it will register in their foolish minds.” Apollo just glared at her. Personal attack, much?

“No problem, sis,” Lang said with a wolfish grin. Apollo resisted the sudden urge to gape; Klavier, notably, didn't. Here was truly a man who knew no fear.



“There's two big reasons the brat over there's to blame,” Lang began, nodding his head at the defendant's seat.

“Hold it!” shouted Apollo. “Do you mind not baselessly insulting my client?” Lang paused, then held his hands together in front of him and pulled them apart; he'd apparently got a scroll from somewhere mysterious and unseen. Magicians were just coming to haunt him, weren't they.

“Lang Zi says:” Lang read, “'Do not interrupt your elders when they are speaking.'” He refurled the scroll.

“Yeah, well Apollo Justice says: 'Don't blame me for doing my damn job.'” You know, defending his client?

“If that was all you had to add,” sniffed von Karma from across the room. “Let us continue.”

“Couldn't have said it better.

“Firstly, we've confirmed that the way the cocoon entered the country was within Klavier Gavin's imported guitar.” There were a significant number of gasps among the gallery. Apollo just nodded, subtly reaching for the appropriate forensics reports in case there was any attempted perjury going on. “We've also confirmed that an evidence shipping service that does not pass through customs was used to bring it from Borginia to the USA.”

“As a way to preserve the wood,” Apollo interrupted. Lang raised his eyebrows and drew his hands together. Not the scroll again! “I heard you the first time, Agent Lang,” Apollo hurried out. “I just wanted to make the reasons behind Prosecutor Gavin's actions clear to the court.” Out of the corner of his eye Apollo caught a thumbs up from the man in question, just low enough to be concealed by the bench.

“Ah, but now you've helped me,” continued Lang, hands still pressed together. “Because, you see, he didn't tell anyone what he was doing.” He paused, and grinned at Apollo. Time seemed to stretch.

“I... knew that already?” Apollo said haltingly.

“...You did?”

“Well yeah. Didn't you see us investigating together yesterday?” Lang coughed awkwardly.

“It, ah, seems I must've missed you.” He coughed again. Someone, somewhere, let out a quick bark of laughter and quickly quieted. “But nevertheless! You have overlooked the vital point this has raised; only someone able to predict his reasoning would know to hide contraband inside the guitar and not have it picked up by the authorities!” Apollo jumped. Crap, that made sense! Trying very hard not to glance over to his client in case he started questioning himself again, he gulped and tried to think.

Okay. So their argument was that the culprit used the guitar, because they knew it wouldn't go through customs. But if Crescend wasn't involved, they couldn't know about the lack of customs. So there had to be another reason to use Gavin's guitar.

Wait. Gavin's guitar!

“Ah!” yelled Apollo, blinking his eyes back into focus. Several dirty looks were shot his way. Ignoring them, he whirled on his feet to face Klavier. “Prosecutor Gavin, when did you decide to bring that guitar back with you?!” Suddenly jerked back into the fray, Klavier took a moment to recover.

“It was a gift from Lamiroir after we played together,” he recalled. “We agreed to hold a concert together at a later date, and after hearing how well that guitar sounded in my hands, she gave it to me so I could play it again then.” Sounded exaggeratedly dreamy if Lamiroir knew as much English as they'd all been told.

“So Lamiroir knew you were taking the guitar back to America?” Apollo asked in confirmation. Klavier simply nodded. “Was anyone else present: Mr Tobaye, for example?”

“I suppose he would've been; he was practically glued to Lamiroir's side for most of the time I saw her.” Apollo grinned.

Well, he grinned until a loud crack sounded terrifyingly close to his face. At that point he made the transition into screaming.

“Do not try to accuse Machi Tobaye!” shouted von Karma. “I have investigated thoroughly and confirmed that your previous accusation is false!”

“Last time I checked,” Apollo retorted, “he wasn't found not guilty in a court of law. Your personal decision to drop him as a suspect isn't legally binding!”

“Fool! I would not be so foolish as to cease my investigation on a whim!”

“Doesn't mean you're not wrong, though!” Fire in her eyes, von Karma flexed the whip again. Apollo thumped his fists onto the desk and held her gaze. Meanwhile, Klavier had receded as far away from him as possible whilst still technically standing behind the defence bench.

“Hold it!” bellowed Lang; both Apollo and von Karma stopped and looked to the witness stand. “I don't think you've noticed,” he said to the former. “But none of what you've just gathered matters. Gavin still didn't tell anyone how he shipped that guitar.” Apollo felt his grin slip back onto his face. He shook his head lightly.

“Actually, I don't think you've noticed, but the true culprit didn't have to know the real way the guitar was getting shipped.” Confidently he leaned back and folded his arms. “Tell me, Agent Lang, if you were called to an airport and found out a man was carrying a guitar containing an controlled substance, who would you think the smuggler was?” The visible concern on Lang's face felt so damn good right about now. “Would you assume it was the man carrying the guitar? The man travelling with the man with the guitar? The woman who gave him the guitar? Or the child who liked to hang around with the woman who gave him the guitar?

“I'm just saying, if the smuggler was that far removed from suspicion, would it really matter to them whether their contraband was caught in customs?” Any look other than pure dread dropped off of the investigator's face instantly. “The fact our smuggler was willing to send a potentially lethal drug to the States shows their lack of regard for other people's safety, don't you think, Your Honor?” The judge hummed to himself.

“Mr Justice, that is certainly an interesting alternate theory,” he admitted. “But do you have evidence to back it up?”

“Um, well...” 'No' was the wrong answer, he was guessing. But hey, that's what clever rhetoric was for. “I believe I have as much proof as the prosecution. Because, sadly, the forensic report on the guitar case reported no fingerprints internally, and the guitar itself was destroyed when it caught fire: no prints there either. Unless, of course, Prosecutor von Karma would like to present evidence to support her theory?” Von Karma's grip on her arm tightened.

“I would not,” she said.

“Agent Lang?”

“...It is as you said; the physical evidence has been destroyed.” Apollo grinned again, and instinctively ran a hand through his hair.

“Well, I guess we don't have evidence one way or another!” he said brightly. “So it'd be a mistrial to hand down a verdict, right?”

“Not so fast,” interjected Lang. “I said there are two things that prove the defendant's guilt. You have only heard one of them.” Apollo drooped.

“Oh. Yeah.”

“You do have a habit of latching onto half the picture, Herr Forehead,” commented Klavier quietly.

“Shut up,” Apollo mumbled back. “You're not helping.”

 

Chapter Text

“Very well, Agent Lang,” said the judge alongside another rap of the gavel. “Please tell the court your second reason to suspect Mr Crescend.” Lang exchanged a hard nod with von Karma before he began.

“The second way Crescend's in the firing line is a statement from Lamiroir.”

“Hold it, Agent Lang,” Apollo interrupted. Don't let the ball start rolling again, Justice. If von Karma was willing to completely refocus her case from this one testimony, it holds a lot of power. “From what I've gathered, Lamiroir came forward as a witness only very recently.”

“And thus suspicion was placed on Daryan Crescend only very recently, Apollo Justice,” tutted von Karma, wagging her finger at him and smiling. “I know you are too foolish to keep up with our logic, but you should at least try to fool yourself.” Apollo took a deep breath and completely refused to take the bait dammit.

“What I'm trying to say is,” he continued through gritted teeth, “that Lamiroir is likely not acting in good faith.”

Apollo jumped aside as a crack resounded in front of him. “Do not accuse anyone that crosses your path simply because you are too foolish to accept your failure!”

“I'm not accusing anybody yet!” Apollo shouted back. How Mr Gavin kept his cool in trials like these, he'd never guess. “But can you use some common sense here-” OUCH! “-and maybe think about why she would only say something when someone she's close to is at risk?” OW! “Can we please just accept that it's shady as hell?!” CRACK, CRACK, CRACK, CRACK-

“WOULD YOU STOP HITTING ME ALREADY?!!!” Apollo bellowed at full force, fists pounding on the desks and sending the pages in his court record fluttering. Von Karma narrowed her eyes and prepared another crack of her whip as if it were a loaded gun. Though considering the pain currently blossoming through his shoulder, an actual loaded gun wouldn't be much worse. An eerie silence had settled over the courtroom as person after person prodded at their ears. ...Oh no.

“So this is how my music career ends,” mumbled Klavier solemnly, leaning against the back wall with his hands cradling his ears. “Deafened by Justice. Betrayed by the conductor of the muses himself-”

“Okay, you've got the mythology joke out the way,” Apollo grumbled. “You can stop being so melodramatic now.” As if he'd buy a rockstar being deafened by a single bout of his Chords of Steel. He watched the judge remove his hearing aid and fiddle with it. Deciding continuing to watch would be detrimental to any scrap of confidence he had left, Apollo tried burning a hole through the defence bench instead, shamefaced.

“Well,” coughed the judge. “Now that I can hear again...” Apollo continued to test his hypothesis that if he stared at the desk hard enough, it would come to life and eat him. “Mr Justice?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

Please don't do that again.”

“Sorry, Your Honor.” Why did he have the sudden feeling he'd just incurred a penalty? “Agent Lang, if you would continue your testimony, please.” He dragged his gaze back up to the witness stand with not an insignificant amount of effort. Irritatingly, Lang looked as unaffected by Apollo's volume as von Karma did. Must be an Interpol thing.



“On the night of the crime, Lamiroir travelled through the air vents in the second set when she heard two men arguing in her dressing room. She identified the voices as those of Romein LeTouse and Daryan Crescend.”

“Hold it,” Apollo shot in. “How could she be so sure?”

“Of hearing her manager?” Lang said, eyebrow raised, and chuckling.

“Obviously not that,” Apollo said, deadpan. “I'm referring to 'Crescend''s voice.” Hopefully Lang could hear the airquotes there; Apollo wasn't going to actually do that in court with his boss in the gallery. “All of the Gavinners are men, and most have fairly similar accents, from what I've heard of them. Identifying just one of them, without any sort of visual clue, and distorted through a metal ventilation system on top of that, should be pretty much impossible.” He looked over to Klavier for backup. Why did his backup look so sheepish?

“Actually, Herr Justice,” he said with a slight deprecating chuckle. “In case you'd forgotten, Daryan would be the one other voice of the band she was familiar with. He went with me to Borginia, and we met with Lamiroir there.” Apollo pursed his lips and turned back to his notes. “And with a musician's ear such as hers, I'd expect her to remember both of our voices, ja?”

An amused harrumph sounded from the other side of the room. “Klavier Gavin, perhaps you yearn to return to your proper place in this trial?” smirked von Karma. Klavier just laughed, patting the defence bench then hooking his thumbs into their usual position at his hips.

“Danke, Frau von Karma, but I am quite comfortable where I stand now,” he grinned back. Apollo tried not to glare too hard. Sure, he could be comfortable all he liked; he wasn't the one getting whipped. Apollo turned his focus back to the witness, ready to get the next contradiction. And hopefully not having it immediately destroyed by his own aide. Wow, did he ever understand why Mr Gavin disliked when Apollo spoke out of turn while assisting.



“The two men were arguing, then two gunshots rang out. Lamiroir then continued through the vent to get back onstage in time.” Lang stood back with a lazy smile. “Clear enough for you, pup?” Apollo held back a glower at the newest nickname he'd apparently been blessed with without his consent.

“About as much as a garden pond, Agent Lang,” he growled. “Clear enough, but still fishy.” And also just deep enough to drown him if he didn't drain it ASAP. He took out the compiled list of statements taken during the initial investigation (thank you Klavier Gavin) and flicked through to the most appropriate one. “Because I have a statement here from Ellie Trick, the stagehand who helped Lamiroir back to her dressing room after the theatrics of her song had finished. A lot of wires in the non vent-based route, apparently. According to Ms Trick, the singer accompanied her to the dressing rooms as planned, where she only briefly went into the room, then went next door.” He held up the pack of sheets. “And by the way, this is backed up by everyone else there at the time, which is a lot of people by the way.”

“Objection!” snapped von Karma. “This is irrelevant information.” The judge opened his mouth and raised his gavel, but Apollo quickly cut in,

“What this proves, is that she didn't report the gunshots that she supposedly heard!” The judge's gavel retreated. “She would've known to look for signs of the murder, and since she said nothing after confirming her suspicions, there can't have been dead body in that dressing room before the third set!”

The gallery had begun to murmur to itself by the time he'd finished his piece. “Mr Justice,” said the judge with a frown. “If Lamiroir didn't hear the murder take place, then what did she hear?” Apollo grinned; finally, a chance to really turn things around!

“There's a very simple explanation, Your Honor,” he smirked, arms folded. “In regards to the two men arguing; Mr Crescend is a colleague of Mr LeTouse. They were likely having a heated discussion about the very serious mission they were on: finding the smuggled cocoons.” Dramatically he whisked out a copy of the crime scene photo. “And that search explains the noises that Lamiroir initially interpreted as gunshots. If the court could direct its attention just next to the giant bouquet?”

“Ooh,” exclaimed the judge. “I'm glad to see that type of machine is still around! That really takes me back-”

“I take it His Honor is familiar with standing hair dryers?” And seriously, what was it with performers and hair? “And, rather importantly, to the fact they are heavy and filled with machinery?”

“Ah yes, I remember when I was but a lad,” trailed the judge. “And my mother took me to the salon with her, only to never take me again once I knocked one of their machines clean over! What a racket it made!” And what damage to the poor woman's wallet, probably.

“So it was very loud, was it?” asked Apollo innocuously, staring down the prosecution.

“Oh, very much so!”

“Almost like a gunshot?”

Terrifyingly so, even to my young ears!” Suddenly a humongous crack cut the judge's reverie off.

“What a foolish notion!” von Karma shouted. The gallery fell silent. “Perhaps a child could be so foolish as to confuse a hair dryer for a gun, but Lamiroir is not some childish fool!” Apollo had the sneaking suspicion he and the judge were being insulted.

“Remember, the sound would've been echoed by the vents, Prosecutor von Karma,” interrupted Apollo.

“And Borginia has a much lower rate of gun violence than here,” chimed in Klavier. Hooray; his backup was back to backing him up! “It would be unusual for Lamiroir to know exactly what gunshots sound like, nein?”

“The defence proposes Lamiroir simply misinterpreted the sounds she heard during the concert!” Apollo shouted. And thus, everyone was telling the truth and any mistakes were coincidental and there were no bad people in the courtroom.

“Well you can just ask-” Von Karma suddenly cut herself odd, freezing in place. In the blink of an eye she had returned to a more casual position. Or it would be casual, if his bracelet wasn't urging him to watch her fingers clenching her sleeve. “The defence has made its point, as foolish as it may be.” Apollo squinted across the room. Could you spell 'suspicious'?

“I have been wondering, Frau von Karma,” said Klavier, an uneasy look on his face. Apollo watched him warily. If he would kindly not get in the way of his friend's case that would be great. “Why hasn't Lamiroir been testifying herself? The police certainly don't lack interpreters.” Another few wrinkles appeared in von Karma's sleeve. What, did she not even trust the testimony herself?

“Lamiroir is unable to appear in court today, as we have not managed to contact her,” she said, voice clipped.

“But you got her statement,” Apollo pointed out. “Don't you have to get contact information off witnesses to avoid fraud?” Surely there was someone in this damn city to report police negligence to. Surely.

“That is not the issue,” von Karma snipped back. “She was in fact called yesterday morning and asked to collect Machi Tobaye from custody, since he was no longer a suspect.”

“Ja, I remember seeing her leave the hotel,” Klavier interjected, voice thoughtful. He looked to Apollo. “That was around eight, I believe.”

“So rockstars are aware of the second eight o'clock,” muttered Apollo, more to himself than anyone else. Apparently it was loud enough for Klavier to give him an offended look.

“She never arrived at the detention centre,” von Karma continued. “Nor has she been seen since.” It took a moment for the prosecutor's words to sink in.

“Wait, she's missing?!” shouted Apollo, lurching forwards. “The key witness for this case, and you don't even know where she is?!” How do you even lose a witness like that?! Beside him, Klavier had also hunched forward, panic written across his features.

“Lamiroir hasn't been found and we're still prosecuting?!”

“A search effort is ongoing,” von Karma sniffed. “And since her testimony is already on record, I felt her presence was not required.” Apollo bit his lip and looked around at the others' reaction to the news. Judge: surprised. As if that would ever change. Witness: uncomfortable, but not particularly shocked. Eh, he had to have known. Prosecutors: still arguing. Lawyers will be lawyers, he supposed. Client: bored. Apollo frowned at Crescend. Come on now; the trial had just unexpectedly taken a worrying turn! It wasn't like anyone had planned for the witness vanishing!

Except of course... No, he'd just watched too many crime shows over the years. If that didn't happen when he was working with the mob, it wasn't going to happen now.

You know, with an international smuggling operation? The next thing on the cliché list?

Apparently Crescend had caught him spacing out while still staring at him and nodded back towards the prosecution's side. Apollo grimaced and turned back around. Well, the whole ordeal did benefit Crescend; no wonder he was fine with it. Apollo winced at his own thought process. No, no, it must be just a mask developed as an Interpol agent. Otherwise, that would make Crescend a bad person and if Crescend was a bad person then defending him in court would make Apollo a bad person. A deep breath later, and he tried to focus back on von Karma.

“The recording of the interview, Your Honor,” she snipped, handing a flash drive to a bailiff. They walked off, presumably to get something to play the file on. Had Lamiroir really been the only thing tying the case to Crescend? Since when did good cases rely on one piece of evidence?!

His brain was irritatingly set on filling in the gaps. Hadn't Crescend been working on the case up until then? With full access to the evidence except the internationally famous witness and the Borginian letter that still burned a hole in his bag?

No, because the evidence still pointed to someone else and any confessions were a lie and Apollo was still a good person.

His head was starting to ache. Just a bit more, Justice. Just a few more little holes in Lamiroir's statement and the prosecution would have nothing left except to accept his theory of Machi being the culprit. And then Crescend wouldn't be a criminal and then Apollo wouldn't have been a bad person for helping him. And everything would be fine. He could do this.

 

Chapter Text

“Herr Forehead?” Klavier murmured, prodding him. Apollo looked around at him giving a smile that felt frail even to him. “Are you alright? You look...” A hesitant expression crossed his face as he searched for the right words; finally he settled on an apologetic smile. “You look like someone killed several puppies in front of you. Horribly.” As if there was a pleasant way to kill several puppies in front of someone. Apollo gave a strained chuckle, throat feeling like sandpaper.

“Oh, no, sorry it's just, uh...” “Your bandmate is either a criminal or entirely willing to die for a kid he doesn't know that well, and I'm not sure which!” “I guess I have a stomach ache or something!” Another chuckle. Klavier's worry did not fade.

“You... aren't sure whether you have a stomach ache or not?” he asked.

“Well it's just one of those things, you know..?” He was on a roll for sounding pathetic in front of this guy today, wasn't he. He turned away again, pretending to refresh himself on the court record. He could hear Klavier sigh, still watching him.

“Ach, just remember I'm here to help, ja?” he said, jovial tone half-reaching his words. Apollo could see he was looking over his head now, towards where Crescend was sitting, no doubt still slouched and bored.

“Yeah,” he replied, taking another deep, steadying breath. “I know.”

The click of the judge's gavel cut through his thoughts. “Very well, Prosecutor von Karma,” he said. “Hopefully this clears up any doubts around your argument; Mr Justice provided a very compelling case against Mr Tobaye in the previous trial after-” The crack of von Karma's whip silenced him. Jeez, and someone was saying nice things about Apollo for once!

“It will,” von Karma said stiffly, one hand buried in the opposite sleeve.



This is the interrogation of Lamiroir,” recited the video file on the large screen placed precariously on the witness stand. An officer sat across from Lamiroir, who was fully dressed up in her stage clothes, the camera obviously similarly placed to those in the visitor's rooms. “It is 10:25PM, July 12th.

Ms Lamiroir, you wished to provide witness testimony, yes?”

That is correct. I believe what I heard that night may be more important than I realised at first.” Apollo raised his eyebrows at Lamiroir's remarkably fluent English. He side-eyed Klavier: no similar response. Why would not needing an interpreter be a secret. Why would that happen. There had been a murder for crying out loud. Why did people not put any weight to murder these days. “I heard my manager's voice during my song, while I was passing backstage. His voice was coming from my dressing room, I think, and he was arguing with a detective.”

A detective, Ms Lamiroir? How do you know you heard a detective?”

I heard him again just a few minutes ago. He was accompanying Machi so that I could visit him this evening.

...May I ask who that man is?” There was a long pause from the officer.

I believe that would be Detective Crescend, if he was with the suspect. Are you certain you heard him, Ms Lamiroir?”

Crescend... Yes, he was definitely at the concert. It was definitely him.”

Ms Lamiroir, I find it hard to believe it would take-”

I am good with voices. I am certain I heard Detective Crescend arguing with my manager.” A sigh from the officer.

Alright. What were they arguing about?”

I... I am not sure. They were vague in their words, and if they were speaking in idioms, my English was not good enough to understand their meaning.” Apollo resisted the urge to scoff at that. Why was von Karma even bothering to show this when it just made her witness out to be a liar? But then something in the back of frame caught his eye; at the window of the door, someone had started to loiter, just aside enough that their presence was nothing more than a shadow cast over the hallway. “There was... something about a 'switch' maybe? My memory is not clear. I am sorry.”

Alright then, Ms Lamiroir. What happened after you heard their argument?”

I heard a sudden loud noise. A gunshot, I believe, and then more shouting.” Apollo squinted as the shadow at the door shifted as someone else passed by. Argh, if they could just move a little to the right, he might actually get a clue who was bothering to eavesdrop on this. “There was the sound of bottles falling over, and then another gunshot, and after that my manager stopped shouting.”

From everyone we've checked, you didn't say anything about this until the body was discovered in the third set. Would you mind explaining why?” Good. Look sheepish, lady. Actually feel bad about throwing a wrench in everything.

I had to continue my song at first. And it is in my contract that I am not allowed to speak English publicly. That extends to most of those backstage, and so I checked myself before I broke that agreement.

Machi was already in the dressing room when I returned and I saw nothing out of place.” Apollo winced as a pain in his wrist suddenly became known. Gah, not again. He didn't need cramps putting him off now! Surreptitiously he shook his hand violently behind the cover of the bench and refocussed on the screen. Something seemed different, somehow. The world around him was starting to blur as he stared intently at the video, searching.

Aha! At the window! Where before there was only shadow, the figure had moved again, back far enough that, even though their back was obviously turned, the line of their hair could be made out. The large, white tipped, pompadour shaped line of their hair. Apollo cursed inwardly. Why was Crescend eavesdropping like that? What reason could he have to bother if he wasn't a criminal and Apollo wasn't a bad person? “Thank you for your cooperation, Ms Lamiroir. If there was nothing else, you may leave.” The footage cut as the two stood.

“Objection!” shouted Klavier the moment the screen went black. “What we just heard confirms the defence's arguments! There was no body in the dressing room before the third set!” Von Karma smiled, and held up one glove clad finger, waggling it smugly.

“Klavier Gavin, were you really so foolish as not to check the layout of the accommodations you were performing in?” she tutted. A significant amount of wind fell from Klavier's sails.

“The moving wall, right?” sighed Apollo, contradiction already in mind.

“At least one of you has done his research,” von Karma smiled. She gave a little curtsey. “So at least one of knows that the body was simply out of view of Lamiroir, as the wall was in the way.” Apollo leaned back on one foot and folded his arms casually.

“But didn't you hear, Prosecutor von Karma?” he said coolly, ignoring the chunk of ice that was starting to form in his stomach along with his reasoning. “Mr Tobaye was in the room too, and had been for more than the brief moment Lamiroir looked in for. We established some time ago his eyesight is just fine; he would've noticed the room had suddenly halved in size if he was standing anywhere but the door. So again, there was no body in that room before the third set.” Unless he was an accomplice. Unless he was accomplice to Crescend and everyone was telling the truth and any mistakes were made in bad faith and the courtroom was full of bad people like Apollo. He blinked, eyes going fuzzy. And everyone was telling the truth and had been for some time now, and any mistakes were made by omission and only two people in the courtroom knew.

“And just where was the wall before that set, Apollo Justice?” von Karma asked, hand outstretched. “Or were you merely too foolish to think of any evidence before making that statement?”

“Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, Prosecutor von Karma,” Apollo replied by rote. “Perhaps we should ask Mr Tobaye, unless he's gone missing too. Or you're afraid you were wrong about his innocence.” And she was, because everyone was wrong and any mistakes were because there was evidence that no one was going to see because of the one person in the courtroom who held it.

“Jeez,” exclaimed a loud voice from Apollo's left: Crescend's return to the fray. “This was seriously the prosecution's whole case? Some biddy who was ready to throw the first guy she thought of under the bus? No wonder there's so many rumours about a darkness in the legal system if this is what our best comes up with!” Apollo glanced to his client, and immediately regretted having his left hand still attached to his body. Just cramps, just cramps: no neck touching going on here! Crescend stood and gestured widely up into the gallery. The bench pressed against Apollo's elbows, the varnish feeling overly sticky. “Remember, Gavinners fans, if you're unhappy with the way the force is run, details of who to write to are on the website!” Shit, the fans had slipped his mind. What had Crescend said about the death threats? Or had he even said that, Apollo couldn't even remember beyond bad, bad, BAD, BAD.

“It is a shame I have to say this,” the judge sighed. “But Prosecutor von Karma, I sympathise with your suspect. The recording does not change the defence's case. You have failed to convince me of the defendant's guilt.” He sighed again. “The defence maintains that Machi Tobaye is guilty of the crimes Daryan Crescend is accused of?”

“Ja, Herr Judge,” said Klavier long before Apollo had even reacted to the question. That really was enough for Crescend to be safe. Double jeopardy would take care of the rest. “The transcript from State vs Skye still contains all the proof needed, ja Herr Justice?” And it was that easy for a criminal to walk free, even from this side of the bench. Even with stacked odds. Because Apollo Justice was a bad person who let criminals walk free and concealed evidence and did the wrong thing because lies by omission were still lies and mistakes weren't an option in life and death and there was no one in the courtroom stopping him- “...Herr Justice?” The voice was panicked and distant even though its shadow fell onto the bench right next to his and the too warm shape of a man was in the same too warm air as him. “Herr Justice, what's wrong?” Apollo swallowed around the dryness in his throat and shook his head in words that wouldn't come; breathing was hard enough right now, with the suffocating air around him and in him and making his head spin. And dammit he was in public and the world was watching and he wasn't just representing himself here. “Herr Judge, a recess vielleicht?”

...Klavier was offering an out?

“Hm? But I was ready to announce my verdict. Surely this can wait just a bit?” Apollo just barely shook his head again, the small motion blurring the grain in the wood of the bench. A tanned hand settled just by his forearm as its owner grinned at the judge.

“Ah, but victory will be that much sweeter once the lead defence is lucid enough to hear it, ja?” He looked across at von Karma with a much more shit-eating grin plastered over his face. “Besides, this way Frau von Karma may have a chance against us.” The crack that followed was to be expected. Klavier shot in pain back regardless.

“Very well. Prosecutor von Karma?”

“...No objections.”

“Then the court shall take a twenty minute recess while Mr Justice recovers from his fit.”



Apollo grabbed ahold of Klavier's sleeve and announced overly loud, “I'm sure I'll feel better with something from the vending machines,” and, quietly scooping up his satchel, dragged the worried prosecutor out into the corridor. Their steps were drowned out by the echoes of people leaving the gallery from some other trial.

“Herr Justice, the machine that way is closer-”

“It's out of stock,” Apollo lied, not slowing his pace.

“...Clearly you notice things I don't,” Klavier sighed. “To the point where you can predict hours into the future. Truly a talent you should put to use in the courtroom, by the way.” Apollo huffed through his teeth as they rounded a corner and arrived at one of the more secluded vending machines in the building. So secluded, apparently that someone had forgot to restock the thing and all that remained were cartons of apple juice. “Actually, perhaps you shouldn't rely on it too much.”

“I wanted juice anyway,” Apollo grumbled as he dug out his wallet and forked out an amount that only registered in his head as 'entirely too much for a tiny carton of apple juice'. Klavier sighed again as the machine whirred.

“There's another reason we're here, other than testing out your clairvoyance, ja?” Apollo swallowed, bending down for his drink. Deep breaths.

“He's guilty,” he muttered.

“Wie bitte?”

“Daryan Crescend,” Apollo repeated, “is guilty of smuggling Borginian cocoons and murdering Romain LeTouse.” The silence between them hung for a few more seconds.

“Herr Forehead, I appreciate the level of set up, but this joke is... It's not funny.” Apollo stared him in the eye.

“It shouldn't be,” he said. “It's not a joke.” Klavier pulled his face back in a ghost of a nervous smile.

“Tja, seriously, the punchline's still falling flat.”

“Prosecutor Gavin.” His smile fizzled out. Apollo reached for his bag and pulled out the Borginian note (and translation, paper-clipped to the back, obviously). “I found this just outside Sunshine Coliseum, in the trash.” The prosecutor took the proffered letter, eye scanning over it while Apollo stood again.

“This would be when you knocked the trash can over, ja?” he said, voice contrastingly mirthless as he turned to Apollo's own handwriting.

“...You saw that, huh.”

“You weren't quiet about it.” Another sigh. “This letter, it's still from Machi.” Not this argument again.

“Gavin, Crescend admitted his involvement after I showed him this, while you were off getting questioned,” Apollo said insistently. “Machi's still guilty as hell, sure, but he wasn't acting alone.” He paused, looking down and watching himself scuff one shoe back and forth. “And honestly? I don't think he was the one who shot LeTouse.”

“Even though that's what you've been arguing for a week now?” said Klavier. Apollo didn't have to look up to know his face was beginning to twist into a telltale sneer; he could hear it in his voice. He clenched his fists, forcing them to stay by his sides. He rose to make eye contact with Klavier. “You've known Daryan is a murderer since yesterday and you still stood there all of today's trial still claiming he had nothing to do with it?!”

“He's my client!” choked Apollo, feeling his face start to burn. No, no, not now! Couldn't he go just ten minutes today without looking completely weak?! “I have to act in his interests! Accusing him of everything he's been charged for would be collusion with the prosecution, therefore a mistrial; there's a system in place, in case you hadn't noticed while you were too busy air guitaring!” The grimace the prosecutor had been sporting suddenly dissolved into something unreadable. Apollo saw him swallow. That was too far, wasn't it.

“You... should've told me, Herr Justice,” he said, voice sounding smaller than Apollo had ever heard it before. “'Collusion with the prosecution' hasn't stopped you before.”

“I...” His mouth ran dry. He'd fucked up. There was no polite way of putting that. He had misread the entire situation so horrendously badly that there were literally no allegories left to describe it. Apollo could feel himself shrink back, shame pressing at his eyes. “I'm telling you now...” Even his Chords of Steel were disappointed with him. Wow. “You didn't sign up for this. I'm sorry.” The moment of wet, oppressive quiet stretched.

And again, Apollo watched as something clicked into a new position behind Klavier's eyes and the prosecutor stepped back, slipping the paper-clip and translation off of the Borginian note, and handing them both to Apollo. He waved the note upright, other hand slung at his waistband, and grinned. “Well, it's time for the prosecution to pull off a turnabout for once, ja?” he said cheerily, eyes still serious. “I'll see Frau von Karma gets this evidence, and I'll see you back on the defence's bench, doing your job.” He turned, throwing up a hand as he walked away. “Bis bald, Herr Forehead!” Apollo finally felt himself smile as he grabbed his bag and juice, and headed off to the defendant's lobby.

“Ugh, what took you so long?” groaned Crescend the instant he walked through the doors. To Apollo's complete un-surprise, his boss had come down from the gallery and was in the lobby too.

“The machine stole my money,” Apollo fibbed, extracting the straw from the carton. “And I wasn't paying seven dollars for a drink.” He flopped onto one of the couches.

“Wasn't my brother with you?” asked Mr Gavin, frowning towards the doors that had not opened again.

“Went to the bathroom.”

“Even with you feeling faint?” he pressed. Apollo sucked at his juice box more insistently.

“Maybe he got bored of watching me kick a vending machine.”

“An average of two people every year are killed by vending machines falling on them, Justice. Leaving you alone with one was very irresponsible of him.”

“I'll be sure to mention that when trial starts, sir.” Jeez, he hadn't even tried to kick the vending machine in reality and he was nevertheless starting to feel guilty over it.



Apollo hadn't checked the time on his phone, but he was fairly sure it had been a lot more than twenty minutes by the time the bailiffs called them back to the courtroom. His observation was backed up by the increasingly irritable Gavin that had been sitting in the lobby with him.

Klavier nodded to him as he approached the bench; Apollo quickly reorganised the notes he'd left scattered as the judge called for silence. “Now, Prosecutor von Karma, I was about ready to announce my verdict, so unless you-”

“Objection!” von Karma yelled, voice crisp and ringing. Apollo just about heard the judge sigh and mutter something under his breath. “The prosecution has new evidence it wishes to present!” Apollo braced his elbows on the table. Here it came: the moment of truth! She held up the note. “This is a letter addressed to the defendant, discussing the smuggling operation!” A gasp from the gallery.

Crescend surged to his feet, gripping the railings surrounding the defendant's chair. “Where the hell did you get that?!” he demanded, knuckles searing white. Von Karma laughed.

“Did you really think you could hide the truth from a von Karma?” she said proudly. “How very foolish.”

“He wasn't 'hiding' anything,” cut in Apollo. He was still playing the part of the defence lawyer, after all. “After all, that would be obstruction of justice, and as an upstanding member of law enforcement, he would of course be above that. Right, Mr Crescend?” He turned to smile innocently at his client. Crescend gaped at him.

You-” He didn't even manage a second word before von Karma's whip cut him off. Apollo turned away as von Karma officially submitted the note and her own translation. Huh, his phone hadn't actually missed anything important. The power of technology was getting better every day!

“This letter was found in the trash just outside the venue,” she announced to the only person this was news to, who just so happened to be the only one whose opinion mattered. “However it was misplaced, and only translated very recently.” Apollo quirked an eyebrow at Klavier who winked in return. Klavier had... covered for him? Apollo forced down the grin he wanted to let loose, and instead held a thumbs up behind the cover of the desk.

“Frau von Karma,” Klavier chimed, “you're just proving the defence's theory for us again. This letter appears to be written from Machi, not Daryan.” Apollo stood up straight. Right. He was still on the job. He could do this.

“My assistant's right, Prosecutor von Karma,” he added. “If you had us all wait so long during the recess just to bring out the true culprit's letter then-” Apollo reckoned he deserved the whip to the face after the past few hours of knowing bullshitting.

“Do not be so foolish to presume that is all I have to offer!” she shouted at him, a smug look on her face. “Because this letter has also brought on a confession, that I'm sure your foolish minds will find very interesting.” She clicked her fingers at the entrance to the courtroom. “I summon Machi Tobaye to the stand!”

What?!” yelled Crescend, upright again already. Then, realising everyone was looking at him, he chuckled, and fiddled with his hair. “Seriously, you're gonna try using the actual criminal's words to convict me?! This god damned country, man!”

“Daryan,” said Klavier sternly, still staring straight ahead. Crescend swerved around to glare at his bandmate. “Have a little faith, ja? If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

“Yeah right,” he hissed. Normally, Apollo would be inclined to agree with his client. Amazing thing, perspective.

The judge brought down his gavel again. “Name and occupation,” recited von Karma.

“Machi Tobaye. Pianist.”

“Good. Please tell the court your involvement with Daryan Crescend.”

“Don't you dare, Machi,” Crescend growled, one of the bailiffs starting to twitch towards restraining him. Machi glanced towards him, sunglasses glinting in the artificial light.

“No,” he said firmly. “You hurt Lamiroir. Is too far.” The boy turned back to the stand, Crescend's furious glare tracking him. “I met Daryan still in Borginia.”

“Hold it!” Apollo interrupted. “Would this be the same trip that- AUGH!”

“Of course it was the same trip that Klavier Gavin met Lamiroir, you fool!” shouted von Karma, still flexing her whip, readying for a second attack.

“At least let me ask my stupid questions!” Apollo protested. The second attack was unleashed.

“No. Witness, continue.”

“There we talk cocoon smuggling. I... need money. He say he help and know way through security.”

“So he suggested Prosecutor Gavin's guitar as a solution?” asked Apollo.

“Yes. Is not checked by security.

“When I arrive in America, we use notes to talk. We hide in theatre so we are not seen.”

“Objection, Mr Tobaye,” shot in Apollo. “Do you have any evidence of Mr Crescend being the one you passed notes with? This is a very serious allegation that I... will not...” Machi had begun to hop on one foot, grabbing his shoe and slipping it off. “Um... Mr Tobaye? Could you put that back on please?” Not responding, Machi placed the shoe down heavily on the edge of the stand, and reached inside to pry back the insole. From beneath it, he took out several tightly folded pieces of paper and slammed them down next to the shoe. “Police say is enough.”

“Those aren't...”

“You kept them?!!!” Crescend exploded, rearing out of his seat, finally spurring the hesitant bailiff nearby into action. “You moron! You knew we could both get killed for this and you still-”

“Is insurance,” snarled Machi, turning to stare him down. “And I am right.”

“Objection?” said Apollo weakly. “Surely those could be forged?”

“The handwriting from one of the more incriminating ones has been analysed,” she said, with a curtsey. “It is, without a doubt, Daryan Crescend's handiwork.” Apollo slumped against the bench. “Would you like to hear what he wrote?”

“N-not really, actually.”

“I think I will tell you anyway. 'Interpol found out the cocoon left the country. Watch out for agents, and I'll sort out the guitar when it arrives. Remember, our buyer is waiting.'” He was right; he didn't want to hear that.

“Daryan,” said Klavier, calmer than Apollo expected. His face was mask-like, it was so tensely neutral. “Consider this our swan song. I'm sorry I expected better.”

“Listen, Gavin, man,” panted Crescend pleadingly. “You don't really believe this kid, do you?”

“Mr Crescend,” Apollo interrupted. “The testimony doesn't need to be believed by anyone; the evidence speaks for itself. Please sit back down.” Crescend stood still, staring wildly at him while two bailiffs attempted to guide him back to his seat. “Witness, there is still the matter of the murder of Mr LeTouse.”

“Yes,” Machi said calmly. “Daryan miss warning about manager. He shoot in second concert part and say to destroy cocoon. I send people away from room in third concert part. Then I hear gunshots and hide in vent.”

“And that's where we got up to during State vs Skye,” Apollo finished. “Mr Tobaye, you say you heard 'gunshots'? Was there someone in the room with you at that point?”

“No,” Machi replied. “Maybe I hear... recording? I not know.” Apollo nodded, and sighed.

“The defence has no more questions for the witness.”

The gavel echoed. “In that case, I think I've heard enough to hand down my verdict.” “For really reals this time, Your Honor?” “Although it appears the witness is not as innocent as initially believed, I find the defendant, Daryan Crescend, guilty of murder and smuggling.”

Apollo let out a breath he had been holding for far too long as he let his head drop against the bench. Screams were starting to trickle in from the gallery.

“And with one little scrap of paper, it's done,” Klavier murmured from a little ways away.

“Somehow the solution was even easier than we thought it was,” Apollo mumbled in agreement into his notes. All that trouble because Crescend caught Machi before he confessed the first time round. What a world.

Klavier's shadow fiddled with its hair. “Ach, I should probably...”

“Go ahead,” Apollo sighed, leaning semi upright and starting the painful process of tidying up his stuff. He felt the man shuffle past behind him. “And... thanks, Gavin. For everything. I...” He paused; Klavier turned back to face him, his smile not reaching his eyes. Apollo offered a similar one back, and gave him a thumbs up. There was a short huff of laughter from the prosecutor, before he mirrored Apollo. “Well, I'll let you get on with your very important celebrity stuff, yeah?”

“Then, auf Wiedersehen, Herr Forehead.”

“Right back at you, Gavin.”



“Congratulations, Justice,” Mr Gavin greeted him with, just outside the courtroom. Apollo blinked at his boss. “I didn't think there was a way for everyone to lose today.” He sighed, beginning to walk off. “Then again, you so often find ways to surprise me.”

“Sir, I still need to talk with my client...” Mr Gavin tilted his head, arms folded, a hard look in his eyes.

“I've no doubt Klavier can do that on his own,” he smiled, ice in his voice. “Now come along.” Apollo looked guiltily towards the defendant's lobby, before finally trotting after Mr Gavin.

 

Chapter Text

Mikeko leaped over the back of the couch when Apollo flung his bag down slightly too close, slightly too hard, quickly following it by himself. The cat hissed, and trotted off to jump on the kitchen counter. Apollo mumbled out an apology to her, before grabbing his phone and opening his messages.

Apollo: Why did I become a lawyer again?

He sighed and leant back into the couch cushions, debating whether he could bother to cook dinner. From the way Mikeko was flicking her tail, trying to move her out of the way long enough to use a chopping board looked unsurvivable. Apollo watched her for a moment, letting the regular motions calm him down. She looked around, apparently feeling his stare with a sixth sense only known to cats and spirit mediums, and moved to paw at the sink. With a sigh, Apollo got to his feet to save her from the terrible fate of an impromptu dirty-knife-filled bathing experience, only to be met with a mew as he reached for the gross cutlery. “What, you want to cut yourself trying to get at the pasta sauce?” A firm pat at the faucet. “I'm not turning that on for you; you'll just complain about getting wet. You have a bowl for a reason.” He gestured towards it. A louder mew. Apollo rolled his eyes and bent to pick it up for Her Majesty the Queen of Calicoes to enjoy from her lofty perch. Oh, the water bowl was empty. He glanced at the cat that he'd just lost an argument to, and silently filled up her bowl, replacing it in its usual spot. Mikeko immediately hopped down and began to lap at it. Apollo sighed and decided to sit down nearby, still watching. “Guess I'm just being a grouch, huh?” Mikeko didn't say anything back, because she was a cat.

His phone vibrated in his pocket.

Clay: for truth and justice

Clay: pun intended

Clay: im guessing u asking thats a bad sign

Apollo: Oh good I was just wondering if I betrayed my principles as much as it feels like. Turns out I have. Hooray.

Clay: um

Clay: did u finally give in to ur inner urges and punch a client or smth?

Clay: bc if thats the case i totally understand

Clay: some of those ppl u talk abt sound like real assholes

Apollo: I punched nothing except the idea of a fair trial.

Clay: ok i dont kno what happened since yesterday lunch

Clay: but ur starting to go poetic which is a sign uve spent too long around artists

Apollo: 1. Took on Daryan Crescend's case. 2. Found evidence proving guilt. 3. Managed to conceal evidence AND STILL act in bad faith of my client! I am literally the worst defense attorney I could be right now!

Clay: oh

Clay: thats um

Apollo: Oh and to top it all off a woman is probably DEAD because I got the wrong guy as the criminal until the real culprit was practically gloating about it in front of me and I still nearly let him get away with it?!

Apollo: Oh shit if Gavin hadn't stepped in for me Crescend would've walked.

Apollo: And the cocoons had a death penalty I almost let a kid die shit shit shit shit.

Clay: hey pollo!

Clay: past tense right?

Clay: so it didnt happen

Clay: and u didnt let any kids die

Apollo: The judge was like ten seconds away from the not guilty verdict Clay! This isn't some nightmare one in a million scenario here! I literally did nothing to stop it!

Clay: but it stopped anyway

Apollo: BECAUSE A DAMN PROSECUTOR I'VE KNOWN FOR ALL OF A MONTH THOUGHT I LOOKED UNWELL! THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF CHANCE I WANT TO LIVE OFF CLAY.

A low rumble sounded from next to Apollo's leg, and a weighty ball of fuzz clambered into his lap. Apollo dropped one of his hands to scratch between her ears and she purred contentedly. Well at least Mikeko probably didn't care about morally dubious lawyering. Cats probably didn't even have lawyers. ...Why was he coming up with so many 'clawyer' puns now? “What do you think of all this?” Apollo asked his cat. As usual, his cat did not appear to understand the question. He kept stroking her anyway. He still loved her.

Clay: ok im gonna put on my serious hat now. ur not a bad person for getting tricked by someone with enough power to complete destroy the crime scene? basically everyone else thought machi did it too which i guess he did bc he was kinda in on it... but its not like u were the only one got by it.

Apollo: Congratulations you missed the entire going halfway with concealing evidence thing. The thing that I literally did nothing to stop in any direction.

Clay: oh yeah?

Clay: howd the other side get the evidence then

Apollo: I showed it to Prosecutor Gavin.

Clay: there see?

Clay: thats not nothing

Clay: thats taking a chance

Apollo: Actually I think you'll find that's shoving the problem off on someone else but thanks.

Apollo: Wait I've told you nothing. Where are you getting this from?

Clay: well

Clay: good news for u

Clay: u made the news again! www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-crescend-guilty-verdict-20260714-story.html

Apollo: Oh yippee.

Apollo: You know past me would've been really happy about all this. Past me is an idiot.

Clay: i wouldnt check the comment section btw

Clay: just a warning :/

Apollo: Oh yeah because obviously I would normally jump at the chance to read internet comment sections.

Clay: dunno what the cocoons u said meant tho

Clay: was that just autocorrect being bad or smth

Apollo: ...I'm going to have to ask you to forget I said anything about cocoons.

Clay: wo are u a butterfly spy now or smth

Clay: bc a butterfly spy sounds like a rly good idea for a kids show

Apollo: Sure. Let's go with butterfly spies. Because there's always a way to have symbols of death more deathy.

Clay: nah man butterflies are pretty

Apollo: Deathy's not a word according to my phone. It should be.

Clay: and now i sound super emo

Clay: while talking about butterflies

Clay: thanks for that pollo

Clay: also speaking abt butterflies

Clay: classic doctor who marathon on scifi channel rn!

Apollo: How did you get from butterflies to Doctor Who?

Clay: episode just finished and it had maggots as the bad guys

Apollo: Maggots aren't even close to butterflies. My question stands.

Clay: yeah but they were GREEN maggots so basically caterpillars

Apollo: No one listening in on this conversation would ever believe you're the scientist out of us.

Clay: look im in physics not biology

Clay: but srsly switch over to it

Clay: i need someone to laugh at the effects at with

Apollo: Fine. Just give me a moment to order pizza and I'll pick on an easy target with you.

It'd probably help him forget the day, anyway.



When Apollo rushed out the next morning, the mailman pulled him aside and handed him a stack of letters. “Empty your mailbox,” was the final thing he said before vanishing off into the traffic. Apollo glanced at the stacks of boxes for all the apartment dwellers and groaned. The hate mail had already begun. And somehow it got delivered ten times as fast as any other mail. But hey, at least he had an excuse if he forgot to pay his bills. “Sorry, sir, but your final notice must've got lost among the ten billion Gavinners fans' death threats to me. Catch me next month? Great!”

Eh. He could dream.

Gavin Law Offices' box wasn't doing much better, he noted as he freewheeled his bike into the nearby parking lot. He did not look forward to being the one who had to read them all. His work address he could understand, but how'd they even get his personal address? It wasn't like Mr Gavin was the sort of person who gave it out to any random kid that came his way. And Apollo tried to be careful about privacy online. Would that mean someone had managed to follow him home? He shuddered.

An odd shade of purple caught his eye while he fiddled with his bike lock. A very distinctive shade of purple that he had only seen on a motorbike once before. Well, time to face the music: in double time, and other dubious puns that his brain shouldn't be coming up with at a serious time like this.

A shout from Mr Gavin's office cut him off before he could announce his arrival. “I'm asking, Kris, what the hell you did to him to get him like that!” It took a moment for him to place the voice as belonging to Prosecutor Gavin, with the European accent significantly less pronounced and a suspicious lack of gratuitous German peppering his words.

“And I'm saying, Klavier, that I do not know what you are talking about,” replied Mr Gavin, loudly, but not forced. Apollo could almost see him examining his nails in feigned boredom.

“Shaking in the bathroom? Nearly collapsing at the bench?”

“He was a tad nervous, yes.” Well there went any doubt about who the brothers were discussing. “Any reason that prompts you to come to interrogate me first thing in the morning? I am rather busy, you know; thanks to your little friend we'll be suing young women over death threats for weeks, I fear.” And there went any doubt about being on mail duty for forever. Joy. Apollo shifted, belatedly remembering the CCTV camera that caught the entrance to the offices. Quietly he dropped his bag to the floor and pretended to search for something inside, still straining his ears to hear the conversation.

“Don't try to dance around the question, Kristoph; I'm not a kid and that's not going to work anymore.”

Something sounding suspiciously like his boss mumbling, “could have fooled me,” just about made it through the wall. “I don't see why I should answer any question when you've nothing to suggest I 'did' anything to my apprentice. It's really no wonder you lose cases so often if your standards for due process are this low.”

“You know, you'd be more fun at parties if you didn't treat everything like a criminal investigation,” Klavier grumbled. Apollo bit down on a chuckle. “But if we're going to play this game, I'll bring my evidence, ja?” An amused harrumph from Mr Gavin. “Such as him being perfectly alright after our investigation, then the moment I see him again he's acting like one wrong glance and he'll be struck down on the spot? That's not normal behaviour without some sort of frightening stimulus!” Mr Gavin tutted.

“If I recall correctly,” he said calmly, “which I'm certain I do, you left him to meet with Mr Crescend alone, correct? Now, one of us is a convicted murderer, but I appear to be sitting quite happily in my office, talking to you.”

“That's... that's not-”

“I'm rather hurt you'd suspect your own brother before your murderous friend, Klavier. That you'd suspect me of abusing my own protégé at all is bad enough, but-”

“They were your words!” A moment of contemplative silence. “I know you and I know Daryan, and when I heard someone talking about a system that everyone simply has to obey, it isn't Daryan I hear!”

“Oh really now?” Mr Gavin commented mockingly. “A student using the language of their teacher? Truly a novel concept! Having had to live through your 'Professor Courte said this! Professor Courte said that!' stage, forgive me if I don't take your accusations particularly seriously. Unless, of course, this is your way of reporting Ms Courte for terrorizing pupils who aren't even in her class, in which case I suppose I should have a nice chat with some of the higher ups at Themis, hm? I remember Mr Means having a grudge; perhaps he was onto something after all.”

“That has nothing to do with this!” Klavier protested. “Up till now he's been perfectly willing- no, by the end of the trial he was perfectly willing to admit when he made a mistake. I'm not blind to when that mysteriously changes!” Mr Gavin let out a weary sigh.

“People do strange things under pressure, Klavier. From what he's confided in me, he's not had so little faith in a client before. Obviously I am disappointed,” – gee, thanks – “but not particularly surprised by his poor performance.”

“But he's not the-”

“Not the what? Not the type?” A pause, in which Apollo could tell his boss was shaking his head. “I dare say you shouldn't try to go off blind faith like this; it's not as if you're even competent at reading people, after all. Unless, of course, you knew your friend was willing to stoop to murder from the beginning, and you were ignoring my warning you away out of spite?” Klavier didn't respond. “So don't you think you should listen to your big brother, who's known Justice many times longer than you have, when he says that you have no idea what type of person that man is? Because he most certainly is the type of person who will enforce a fair trial no matter his own beliefs. Or at least, he would have, had you not sabotaged his efforts.”

Objection,” Apollo was telling himself to rush in and say. But Mr Gavin would ask evidence from him just the same. And what exactly did he have to offer? He'd defended Crescend; Gavin had demanded to know why he was scared; Gavin had given the prosecution the lead; only then had the prosecution won. Apollo's hands clenched into fists inside his bag. And evidence was everything, in and out of court. Apollo chose the rules over his beliefs. It was that simple. That was the type of person he was.

And apparently the type of person to eavesdrop on conversations clearly not meant for his ears, but that was another can of worms entirely.

“He's shared incriminating evidence with the prosecution before,” Klavier retorted. Apollo froze up. No, he wasn't going to- “Back in that noodle case! He rightly identified Fräulein Alita back then!” An icy chill seemed to permeate Gavin Law. There was a reason Apollo hadn't told his boss. He could still remember the glare when it came up in court.

“Really now,” Mr Gavin finally said. Softly. Coolly. “How interesting.” This was it, wasn't it. This was how he finally got fired. He'd had his second chance after accusations of murder, and this was the final straw leading to dismissal without a reference and with only five trials under his belt. And it wasn't even worth it; the system would be the same no matter who he worked for. That was just the way of things, Justice. “So this is a pattern of sabotage between you. Then I have not one, but two traitors in my midst. Thank you for informing me, brother.” Just a few feet away, Apollo hunched with gritted teeth, trying to quiet his panicked breathing. This was it; he was gone.

“Wait,” butted in Klavier. “That's not what I...” He paused. “That wasn't his fault; I coerced him.” From the other side of the wall, Apollo blinked in surprise. No he didn't. What the hell was Gavin doing?

“On the Kitaki case?” hummed Mr Gavin, equally disbelieving. “Now however did you manage that feat?”

“I... bumped into him on his way home,” said Klavier.

“Really, now. Quite the detour from where you've been staying, don't you think?”

“I was heading out to a restaurant that evening.”

“The night before trial? Now that is irresponsible.” A bark of laughter from the younger Gavin.

“Since when have I not been irresponsible in your eyes, Kristoph?” A melodic chuckle. “Ja, I stopped and pressed him and eventually got out of our dear Herr Justice that he was worried about Fräulein Alita. And the rest is history, ja?” His accent was firmly back in place now.

“And yesterday?” Mr Gavin's voice had settled to an oddly toneless state.

“Ach, you saw us leave the courtroom, Kris, I'm sure. He looked so scared after he let slip about that letter! And it wasn't as if he had a chance of stopping me handing it over to Frau von Karma.”

“So he knew, did he?” If Apollo could see through walls, he was pretty sure he'd see his boss' courtroom smile. “Because he told me you had gone to talk to your friends.” There was a nervous chuckle from Klavier. Did he know? Did he even realise he was being tested?

“Was that what I told him?” the prosecutor laughed. “Tja... It was some phony excuse like that. He must've been pretty on edge if he didn't see through that, nein?” Apollo tried not to take the following laugh too personally. Bad idea to bite the hand that was trying to defend him from the wrath of his boss. Or however that saying went.

“Oh but of course; you must've not touched your neck, thus evading his magnificent powers of observation.” Okay, screw the saying; that was being taken personally. He let out a little light sigh. “So you are taking full responsibility for sabotaging my apprentice's work?”

“...Yes, Kristoph.” The man's voice was heavy, overly German lilt beginning to drip away again. “It was all me. I'm very sorry.”

“There,” Mr Gavin cooed. “That wasn't so hard, was it now? No need to blame other people for your own actions.”

“Yes, Kristoph.” Apollo could hear his boss' desk chair squeak when he sat down.

“Now I shouldn't have to tell you, but stay away from my Justice; I won't have you hurting him again, do you understand?”

“...Ich verstehe.”

“Auf Englisch, bitte.”

“I understand.” Mr Gavin hummed in approval, and the sound of shuffling feet roused Apollo. They couldn't know he was eavesdropping for all that. Obviously he was on thin enough ice as was.

Quickly he opened the front door and slammed it shut it again, loudly. “Good morning, Mr Gavin!” he shouted, Chords of Steel back in business.

“Volume please, Justice,” his boss called from his seat, blissfully unaffected. “This is a law office, not an opera house.” Klavier rounded the corner, not making eye contact with him and strode right out of the door without a word. Doing his best not to look suspicious, Apollo dumped his satchel by his desk and poked his head round the door to Mr Gavin's office.

“I'll just go get the mail quickly!” “Please take this tone as regular appeasement, for the love of everything!”

“No need, Justice,” said his boss, staring intently at his screen. The light reflecting off his glasses proved rather conclusively that he was looking at his blank desktop. Apollo stopped, biting his lip.

“I mean, it looked pretty crowded, sir.”

“I'm sure it's nothing important,” Mr Gavin returned instantly. He continued to stare at the empty screen. So this was how it was gonna be, huh. “You'd be far more use compiling your case file.” Apollo mulled over his words, before he was interrupted by his boss finally looking towards him. “Is there something you wish to tell me, Apollo?”

“No!” he squeaked, holding up his hands. “No! Nothing I want to- I'll get on and get on, right away, sir!”

“Close the door on your way out.”

“Of course, sir!” Smooth, Justice. Smooth.

 

Chapter Text

Mikeko meowed angrily as Apollo tried to push her back into his apartment with his foot. “Aw, come on, Pollo!” chirped Clay with an enormous grin. “Mikeko just wants a night on the town; no harm in that, right?” The cat spotted the sympathetic target and fixed him with a mournful look, made somewhat more comical by the fact she was repeatedly having to climb past a shoe. “You'll behave, right, ol' fluffy-face?” Mikeko blinked at him. Clay turned back to Apollo. “See, she'll be good!”

“Don't be taken in by her thrall, Clay,” growled Apollo, wincing as a set of claws caught his sock. “She's not going drinking with us. She's not 21.”

“She might be in cat years,” argued Clay, nonetheless bending down to help scoop Mikeko back inside.

“Well the state of California doesn't recognise cat years as an appropriate unit of measurement. Plus, she doesn't have an ID with her.” With a final yowl, Mikeko lost her balance and toppled backwards; Apollo quickly shut and locked the front door.

“Jeez, you're such a lawyer sometimes,” pouted Clay as they traipsed downstairs together.

“Strange, that,” Apollo snarked back. “I'd say you're very much the astronaut, but we are currently off to screw up your training regime with alcohol. Again. You realise at some point Aura's gonna notice something in whatever data she keeps trying to get off you, and I'm gonna get raygunned to death in my sleep? Because I'm not looking forward to that, just by the way.” Clay stuck his tongue out.

The evening air was stickier than usual, the sky a rusty brown from clouds trapping the glow of the street lights far below. “Wow,” Apollo commented half-heartedly. “D'you think we might actually see rain this side of Halloween?”

“Ugh, can't it wait another week?” Clay complained. “Clonco just shot a hole in the lounge window!”

“'Shot'?” echoed Apollo concernedly.

“Yeah, Aura's taking that mod off,” Clay mused. “Even she thinks it's a bit too dangerous. Mostly because she was like a foot away from where the bullet hole is now, but you know. Better the reinforced glass now than any of our torsos further down the road.”

“Sometimes I forget,” sighed Apollo, “that working at the Cosmos Space Centre is somehow more dangerous than having to meet potential murderers every other week.”

Eventually Clay grabbed the back of Apollo's shirt to stop him, and tugged him into a building covered in posters. Apollo's eyes were drawn to a particular one about someone's cat having kittens and needing to-

Wait a second. “Isn't this where Ms Wright works?” Apollo said, suspicions confirmed as he saw the layout of booths and tables.

“Yeah,” said Clay, unaffected, already heading to the bar. “She was seriously good last time; I thought we could catch her again!” Apollo followed after him, trying to avoid bumping into the others in the room.

“You didn't text me anything about that!” Apollo said weakly, tripping on umbrella someone had left on the floor. Really, now? Who even did that?!

“Well she's not a band, and a magic show's definitely more interesting than just beer.”

“That's not the point,” Apollo insisted. “It's just... Look I really don't want to bump into her again.” Clay looked back at him, eyebrows chasing his hairline. “We sort of had a fight last week? Because I let her onto a crime scene and Mr Gavin got really angry and she tried to visit me at work and-”

“Waaaaait, wait, wait, wait.” Clay waved his hands between them and clapped them together again. “I heard something about Mr Gavin in there?” Apollo rolled his eyes. He had an unfortunately educated guess about where this conversation had suddenly taken a turn to.

“Yes,” he said slowly. “My boss did not appreciate that Ms Wright had wormed her way up close to a contained criminal investigation because of me. And since she got close to me professionally because I talked to her outside of work a total of two times, I don't want to risk muddying the waters any more and have her accidentally pissing off my boss again!” Clay held up a finger triumphantly.

“So it is about Mr Gavin!”

“It's not about Mr Gavin! Not all of my reasoning is Gavin-based!” He huffed a sigh through his teeth. “I don't want to see Ms Wright because I don't trust her not to cross boundaries-”

“Which would piss off Mr Gavin,” Clay butted in.

“It would piss off me as well, Clay! Or am I not allowed to have the same work ethic as someone else without getting called out for it?!” Clay stood in silence for a moment, chewing on his words.

“How many times did Trucy try to visit you at work?” he eventually asked.

“Once, last week. Then we fought. Then a whole bunch of other shit happened. And now it feels more like a month than a week.” Like, wow.

“Well,” hummed Clay. “If that really is the only reason you're avoiding her, maybe you could try talking things through with her now that you're not at work? Instead of assuming the worst and setting fire to ever bridge you come within a mile of?” He gave his friend a hopeful smile. “Seriously, I'm slightly worried the only people you ever seem to talk to are me and your boss.”

“Mikeko counts too, you know.” Clay levelled a look at him. “She does!” The look continued. “Okay, fine, I'll go try to talk with Trucy Wright, and hang the consequences.”

“Oh, were you here for Trucy's show?” called the man behind the bar. Clay and Apollo turned to him. “Sorry to disappoint, but she's gone up to the mountains, until school starts up again if not longer.”

“What?” exclaimed Clay with an expression of exaggerated dismay.

“'Pparently her and that father of hers hashed out that she'd be better off staying where she had friends, now that she doesn't have to boost her old man's income. Poor girl looked pretty put out by it, but that mighta just been wishful thinking on my part.” A feeling of relief began to rise in Apollo's gut, before it quickly got strangled by guilt. Would she still be performing if Apollo hadn't snapped at her?

“I'm sure she'll enjoy her trip while she's up there!” Apollo reasoned.

“Ain't that always the way of things?” the bartender chuckled back. “Now can I get anything for you two gentlemen, or were you only here for the magic?”

As the two ordered drinks and sat down in the same booth they'd filled before, a traitorous little part of Apollo's mind was just cheering away that at least he didn't have to face his own decisions tonight. He'd had quite enough moral conundrums, thank you very much.



It turned out Apollo's predictions of rain were entirely wrong. By the end of the week the window at the space centre had been fixed without a hitch, the city air had cleared back into its usual itchily dry state, and the only change in temperature had been localised to the cold shoulder in Gavin Law Offices. Apollo was genuinely starting to wonder if Mr Gavin had turned down the thermostat.

By the end of the following week, Apollo was seriously starting to mull over Clay's comments on his social life. The two line 'conversations' he was having in the workplace weren't exactly cutting it, considering Clay was a busy man, and the world was still yet to invent a machine to allow cats to talk back. Although, if Mikeko could talk, Apollo had a feeling he'd hear an awful lot more expletives in the mornings. He was going to have to replace the front door entirely one of these days, wasn't he.

Apollo vaguely wondered whether Prosecutor Gavin was doing okay while he packed away his finished lunch on the bench in Vitamin Square. Now he was starting to regretting not getting the guy's number at any point before. And how would he even try to broach it now? “Hey, your brother's gone off me, most likely because of what you said to him, so can I replace him with you?” Stupid. The news hadn't been much use, since it was currently obsessed with the deadly orca accident at a local aquarium. If he saw one more pun on 'killer whale' he was going to punch something.

“Ah, Justice,” Mr Gavin smiled at him the instant he re-entered the office. A middle aged woman with bags under her eyes and a bob cut was standing there, hands on hips, and Apollo resisted the urge to pinch himself to ensure he wasn't having a nightmare about working in retail again. “Ms Noor, Mr Justice will be handling your case, so if you could excuse me...” Mr Gavin proceeded to flee into his office. Not that Apollo could really blame him, but he still had to stop himself from glaring.

“Well then, Ms Noor-”

Mrs Noor.” Apollo blinked.

“Pardon?”

“Ugh, kids these days and their lack of respect for the institution of marriage,” Noor started. Apollo felt his eye twitch reflexively. “You know, if a woman was truly devoted to their husband, instead of-”

“Why don't we discuss your case, Mrs Noor!” Apollo interrupted loudly. And surprising nobody, Mr Gavin had dumped another client from hell onto him. Where exactly did he find these people?



“I'm making coffee, sir,” Apollo said round his boss' door once Noor had finally left along with her ten minute rant on smartphones. He was sure. He'd counted. Hell, by minute seven he'd almost given in to the temptation of texting Clay right in front of her to see how she'd react. Almost. But only because the CCTV was right there.

“In that case I'd like some too.” Okay. Better reaction than the past couple of weeks, at least.

Once Apollo returned with hands full of caffeine, Mr Gavin actually bothered to thank him. “I assume you had a nice conversation with Ms Noor?” he continued with a smirk And sure enough, there was the reasoning for the sudden defrosting: the Justice Embarrassment to Gavin Enjoyment correlation curve.

“She is certainly a character,” said Apollo stiffly. “You know, I had genuinely forgotten some people in this country still use the Miss and Mrs titles. I don't think I've even had to think about them since I left school.” Probably a good thing too, since he had a hard enough time as it was working out the invisible rules of what to call people when. With another little chuckle, Mr Gavin took one of the coffee mugs and put it down on his desk.

“Some people just like to be contrary, Justice,” he said, his static fingers curled around the ceramic mug. “But those like her always give in once they're shown their place, I find.” Apollo nodded grimly.

“I'll keep that in mind, sir.”

“And do remember to come to me if you need help, hm?” his boss continued, still smiling, still frozen in position. “I'm slightly worried you've been trying to isolate yourself, from the way you've been cutting off our conversations so quickly lately.” Apollo jerked as an ache shot itself through his left wrist, the mug in his left hand sloshing boiling hot coffee down over his thumb and the back of his hand. Apollo whimpered, hurriedly setting the mug down before he dropped it entirely and sucking at the fast reddening skin. “Justice?” worried Mr Gavin, flying out of his seat and round to beside Apollo.

“S-sorry, sir,” he said, jaw clenching. “Muscle spasm... or something.” Swearing in front of the man who employs you is a bad career move, Justice. Just as a reminder. He heard said employer sigh.

“It's that accursed bracelet again, isn't it.” Apollo didn't answer. A cold hand wrapped around his own and pulled it away from his mouth. Mr Gavin's fingers ran over the burned area, leaving behind skittering trails leading towards his wrist. Any pain lingering beneath the golden bangle had been overwritten by the throbbing of his hand. “Apollo, I really must insist you stop wearing this-”

“Sir, it's important to-”

“It's visibly causing you pain,” Mr Gavin said firmly. He cleared his throat, and pursed his lips until Apollo tore his gaze away from their hands and into his eyes.

“I can handle it,” Apollo protested, just barely feeling a squeeze on his wrist at the same time as his boss' mouth twitched. “I mean, it's really not that painful. Without the coffee, I mean. Obviously. That's painful.”

“It's a matter of cause and effect, Apollo,” Mr Gavin continued. He shook his head, the motion looking odd without the arm motions that usually accompanied it. One of his thumbs had gone back to running over Apollo's skin. “Once again it seems you must be reminded to look beyond your immediate surroundings. What would happen, for instance, if this happened again while you were on your way to or from work? Most drivers wouldn't stop in time if a cyclist lost control of their steering right in front of them, now would they?” Apollo swallowed, trying to shut off the visuals in his mind. Another squeeze to his wrist, and he realised his eyes had fallen off to the side. He dragged them back to look at Mr Gavin properly. “No doubt neither of us would appreciate you dying over your need to wear gaudy jewellery.” His face remained totally passive. Apollo's hand had started to tingle. “Now,” he said, hand covering the bangle completely, “if you would relax your hand, please.”

“Mr Gavin,” Apollo cut in, trying to tug his hand out of his boss' grip. Metal pressed in a line against the base of his thumb. “This really isn't necessary!”

“Then give me a reason you should continue to wear it!” retorted Mr Gavin, voice beginning to rise in volume. Apollo opened his mouth, but didn't get even a sound out before he continued with, “Needless to say, without the magical nonsense that you should know better than to believe in.” As if Apollo didn't already know not to try and bring that up again.

“...It's comforting,” he finally came out with. His boss' slowly raising eyebrow said that was an incorrect response.

“Now, Apollo,” the blond crooned, squeezing Apollo's hand again in an act of reassurance largely destroyed by the added pressure being on sore skin. “Adults aren't supposed to bring their security blankets to work with them.”

“It's not a security blanket!”

“Volume, please.” He sighed, smiling, all in the manner of a parent trying to get their toddler to shut up and eat their vegetables already. “But really, Apollo, however you classify that bracelet as, the fact remains that you are putting some small modicum of comfort over your own health and livelihood! That's not the sort of behaviour I expect to see from a student of mine.” Apollo chewed his lip, forcing himself not to shrink away. He couldn't help but wonder if there was even an argument left that he could make in return. Not that its existence mattered much if he couldn't find it. Apparently seeing what he wanted, Mr Gavin's expression warmed. “Your hand?”

With a shaky nod of surrender, Apollo tucked his thumb into the palm of his hand and let his boss carefully shimmy his bracelet off. His wrist felt uncomfortably cold from the sudden rush of air to it.

“The lengths you go to avoid people helping you are baffling, Justice,” Mr Gavin said conversationally, tucking Apollo's bangle into his pocket.

“Hey, sir, can I at least have that, please-”

“I will return it to you at the end of the day.” From the other side of the office walls, the front door creaked open and the rustling of clothes announced a newcomer's presence. “Why don't you go run that burn under some cold water, and then get back to work, hm?” With little more, he strode off to greet an apparently familiar client; as if a spell had been lifted, Apollo felt anger bubble up in his chest almost the instant his boss was out of his line of sight. Where the hell did he get off just... doing that?! He took a deep breath and resisted the urge to pour both mugs of coffee all over Mr Gavin's computer. No use getting another burn.



Clay: HE DID WHAT

Apollo: I KNOW RIGHT? I mean I've got it back now and all but still!

Clay: hey pollo will u defend me if i murder ur boss

Clay: this is a srs question btw

Apollo: Thing is I'm sure he said back when he hired me he was chill with me wearing it to work. I remember being happy about it at the time because hey it was finally a change from high school dress codes!

Apollo: Also Clay I'd love to defend you for it but not only do I need a boss to actually hire me but also you disclosing your intentions beforehand means I'd be an accomplice and would instantly destroy any credibility I'd have in a court of law.

Clay: dang :/

Clay: wyd tomorrow then?

Apollo: Wrt the bracelet?

Clay: ye

Apollo: Maybe he'll forget about it overnight. I don't really want to just leave it at home. I mean what if Mikeko hurts herself with it? Or blocks the toilet with it? Or whatever she does with things when I'm not watching.

Clay: so ur gonna keep goin in with it then

Apollo: I guess so.

Clay: sweet

Clay: fite the power man :p

And it wasn't as if Apollo didn't try, but he didn't exactly get very far with it; he hadn't even crossed the threshold of Gavin Law when his boss demanded he hand it over.

 

Chapter Text

One thing Apollo was glad of in the following days was how quickly the hate mail to the office had tapered off. Letter after letter was no longer being dropped on his desk while he tried to focus on an actual client's case, so Apollo was left in peace to work out how to make the judge sympathise with a woman accused of siphoning funds from a charity working with narcoleptic children. One who looked worse and worse with every lot of tax returns he trawled through.

Add on top of that the wonderful continuation! Not an hour her trial, he'd called Mrs Noor to the stand and asked a totally innocuous question that sent her into a several minute breakdown of how much she in fact hated children. That was just the way of things, he supposed. Apollo had just sighed and packed his evidence up, admitting defeat while his client began to boast how her husband was committing fraud with a charity he founded as well, and wasn't that just magnificent?! All in all, the judge handed down a guilty verdict quicker than Apollo had ever experienced. Small victories, though: Mr Gavin hadn't been watching that one from the gallery. He was free to bend the details.



By late August, the air was humid again, the painted white buildings of the offices around Gavin Law looking dull in the grey daylight. No sooner had Apollo slouched down in his usual spot in Vitamin Square than the heavens finally gave up the ghost and decided to absolutely tip down with rain. On the one hand, Apollo breathed a sigh of relief that he could at least listen to the pattering of raindrops at work, instead of nothing but still air and the grating whir of fans; on the other hand, he hadn't eaten lunch yet. And food was not permitted at the office. And, most irritatingly of all, Apollo had not brought a coat into work.

He glared up at the sky for a few moments, immediately regretting it when a raindrop managed to perfectly target his eyeball. Hissing under his breath, Apollo leapt to his feet and manoeuvred his bag to haphazardly hold it over his head. Two options then: back to work, or find somewhere else to eat. His stomach clenched as if it were reading his thoughts. Just his luck this would happen on a day when he overslept and skipped breakfast. But at least there were a bunch of cafés nearby, right?

A minute of uncomfortable jogging later, Apollo ducked into Le Café Americano and ran a hand through his hair. The scent of toasted panini assaulted his nostrils and suddenly the miserable, cold, probably kind of soggy sandwich in his lunchbox was incredibly unappetising. It wasn't as if he was a broke college student anymore, right? He was making good pay; he could totally afford to upgrade his lunch! Deciding the line of logic going through his head wasn't the same strain that told him to pull all-nighters binging on old TV shows, Apollo slid into line and scanned the fancy blackboard menu up on the wall.

Eventually he rattled out his order and leaned on the end of the counter, deciding to people watch until his coffee was ready. The shop was somewhat less busy than it had been when he'd come before with Mr Gavin. A couple of faces were familiar from around the courthouse.

The door opened again and Apollo could just see a figure in his peripheral vision shake off their umbrella, come towards the counter and suddenly freeze. He turned to look, and came face to face with a certain blond prosecutor that he hadn't seen in weeks. Apollo gave a little wave and a little smile. Without acknowledgement, Klavier stuttered back into life and flagged a barista down to order. Rude. Of course, eventually Klavier had to finish his transaction; Apollo kept staring him down, arms folded, while the espresso machine spat.

“Prosecutor Gavin,” he greeted again, once the man had awkwardly placed himself beside him, looking literally anywhere but at the lawyer. Apollo bit back a sigh. What the hell had gotten into- He suddenly remembered the conversation he'd 'just so happened' to overhear in the office. That would explain it: someone in this world knowing how to follow basic instructions. Apollo got the feeling his boss' advice to his brother had probably been implied to him too without him noticing. Maybe it had been assumed he'd treat Gavin the same way as Trucy.

Then again, look how that almost turned out, thanks to Clay's alarmingly persuasive array of kicked-puppy faces. Apollo looked back the the prosecutor; Klavier was still looking distractedly around the café. “You know,” he piped up, before the man found someone he urgently needed to talk to. Klavier tensed. “It's not like you can distract me from my work if I'm already on break.” The cogs in the prosecutor's head almost visibly turned; probably working out what the hell he was trying to say, if Apollo had to guess. “And, um, it...” He swallowed. Being direct, pros: less chance of misinterpretation, and the wonderful feeling of being honest. Being direct, cons: Apollo had no idea how Gavin would react if he knew he knew everything that had gone down in that conversation, which if confronted loudly in a place filled with people in law would get back to his boss within the week.

Well that couldn't happen. He liked being somewhat respected at the office. “I mean, what Mr Gavin doesn't know, won't... harm him?” That was not the sort of thing good people said, was it.

“So he had the talk with you as well?” asked Klavier quietly, Apollo barely catching it.

“Ah! Yes! I mean, probably?” Klavier Gavin's secret talent: accidental out giving. “But if we're not working, then there's no work to be sabotaged, right! So there's nothing bad going on and work's not-”

“You're starting to babble, Herr Forehead,” Klavier prodded, his face finally starting to relax. “I fear your flawless loophole is about to collapse in on itself.”

“I prefer the word 'technicality',” Apollo shot back. “'Loophole' sounds like cheating.”

“And yet, it isn't,” continued Klavier. “Thus the loophole, nein?” Well, debating the implications of words was one rung up on the conversation ladder from debating the weather, he supposed. What Apollo wouldn't give for straightforward, linear relationship progression. Saving the pair from the awkward, the barista thumped their hand down on the counter.

“Drinks, sirs. Food'll be out in a minute.”

The two picked up their coffees and Apollo led the way to a table in a far corner. “I'm guessing you've been pretty swamped lately, if you're only now coming back here,” Apollo said conversationally, slinging his bag to hang over the back of the chair. Klavier raised his eyebrows over his drink. “I mean... I haven't seen seen you go past my spot for a while so...” The other's eyes flicked off to the side and he took another large gulp of his coffee. Frowning, Apollo instinctively reached for his wrist, only to be met with skin. Oh, right.

“I happened to find somewhere to park a bit closer, that's all.”

“Oh. I... guess that makes sense.” The noise of the rainy café washed over them as they sipped in silence. Eventually someone in a black apron came over and placed two sandwiches on the table between them.

“Um, Mr Gavin?” they said, and Apollo instantly jolted upright and scanned the room for his boss; he belatedly realised that not everyone called Prosecutor Gavin Prosecutor Gavin. Indeed, Klavier was looking intently at their impromptu server. “Sorry to bother you, but I don't suppose I could get an autograph for my little sister? She's a big fan...” Apollo tuned it out. If this happened whenever Gavin went out in public, he couldn't blame him for shutting himself away at work most days. Instead he slowly slid his plated panini towards him, idly figuring out whether it would be rude to start eating now considering he and the other person at the table weren't actually sharing a meal. Etiquette. Total pain in the ass.

As the table-side conversation finished, Klavier kept a neat grin on his face as he waved away the barista; then he promptly ran a hand over his face and reached for his sandwich (a cold one, in this weather, the weirdo). “How do you even manage that?” grumbled Apollo under his breath. Klavier looked up.

“Manage what, Herr Forehead? Signing some paper? I'd hope you already know that with your profession.”

“Obviously not that,” he huffed. “The whole-” he gestured in a circle around his face “-smiling, always keeping eye contact, all that stuff. If I try and keep that up around people they just end up asking if I'm having a stroke!” Klavier was smiling at him again. “You don't have to demonstrate again, Gavin.”

“Ah,” Klavier purred lightly, “then it seems I have fooled even you, Herr Forehead.”

“What, d'you have robots in your cheeks to smile for you? 'Cause that's a weird image that is going to haunt me in my sleep.” Klavier laughed and finally ducked his head.

“Nein, nein, my facial muscles are all natural, I assure you.” Someone phone the tabloids, quick! “I was referring to your other little mention there. You see, mein Herr, I have not looked anyone in the eye since I walked in here.” Apollo looked at him sceptically.

“So this is you saying you have robots in your eyes.”

“Where are you getting the robot part from?” said Klavier exasperatedly. Actual answer; Apollo had far too recently listened to the part of his brain that told him to stay up all night watching TV shows. Given answer; Apollo was so cool he just left people wondering. “But, my dear Forehead,” he continued, staring straight at Apollo, “I suppose I could reveal my little secret, since it's you.” He winked and beckoned him closer with one finger. Apollo leaned over the table, trying to frown as much as possible while maintaining eye contact. “You see, I am actually looking... right... here.” He poked the bridge of Apollo's nose.

Apollo groaned and heaved himself backwards, the chair scraping over the floor. “Real mature Gavin. I sure see why you get paid by the state.” Klavier didn't look any more amused having achieved his forehead-prodding aims. He took an angry bite of his panini and continued biting through the pain of molten cheese.

“Ah, well, I can hardly make you use that trick,” the prosecutor sighed, picking at his own food.

“Amazingly I don't have much of a use for flicking people in the face,” Apollo snarked. His tongue felt all numb now. Damn cheese. Klavier frowned.

“I wasn't suggesting you do that part to your clients or whoever you're trying to look in the eye.”

“How the hell does poking help look anyone in the eye?!” Klavier paused, frowned harder, and suddenly bent down chuckling. “Okay, most people would laugh when they'd done their joke, not like thirty seconds after.” Klavier looked up, grin deigning to reach his eyes.

“I think you've misunderstood,” he laughed, before placing his index finger on the bridge of his own nose. “If you look at this point on a person's face, it looks like you're making eye contact. Personally I never liked looking through the windows to another's soul; it feels like spying on them, nein? Have you really never heard that trick before?”

“No?” replied Apollo suspiciously. “Why would I?” Klavier's smile was fast fading again.

“Ach, but Kristoph was the one who taught it to me...” He trailed off and diverted his attention back to his lunch. Apollo bit his lip. It wasn't as if the topic hadn't come up at work before. Then again, it really did seem like cheating.

“Actually, Herr Forehead, I should be leaving,” Klavier said, downing the last of his coffee and replacing the cup next to his half eaten meal. “I have... a meeting soon. Can't miss it.” And before Apollo could even finish his mouthful to say goodbye, the man was hurrying back out into the rain. There you go, Clay. He avoided burning that bridge.  Except the bridge was just a log that had turned out to be a crocodile instead.  Truly, Justice had been done.

Klavier's umbrella still rested against the table. Momentarily Apollo considered borrowing it to get back to Gavin Law, then remembered that umbrella theft was a serious issue, and the logo on the handle of it would give away who he'd been talking to.

So instead he chewed slowly, and watched the puddles growing out in the street.



“Apollo Justice,” beeped Ponco, having caught up to him in the corridor. “How may I help you today?”

“I'm off to see Clay, in the lounge,” he said, gesturing with his thumb. “Is he still there? Or has he decided to pull the old Let's Scare Apollo Right Next to a Flight of Stairs trick.” Ponco's head spun on her neck as she processed his questions. Why the Gyaxa robots had been programmed to do that, Apollo would never know.

“Clay Terran was last recorded entering the employee's lounge,” the robot recited. “Apollo Justice has clearance for this location. May I escort you to the employee's lounge?”

“Nah, you've got your job to do. You have fun.”

“I will!” she chirped, face turning green. “Helping people brings me joy!” Apollo shot her a thumbs up and let the little robot skid back to the parts of the space centre actually open to the public.

When he entered the lounge he was greeted with the sight of a sweaty, shirtless Clay doing push ups. Clonco stood a few feet away, counting. “Hey,” Apollo said, side stepping the oddly positioned robot and making a beeline to the nearest chair.

“Hey,” Clay grunted back. He looked up and glared at Clonco. “That one definitely counted as a full push up!”

“Push ups should not bend the back,” Clonco retorted. “Bending the back is unsafe.”

“'Pollo, tell Clonco my back wasn't bent!” Apollo smirked.

“Sorry, Clay, but I trust the robot on this one.”

“Traitor,” Clay whispered, flopping down on the floor. “'Kay Clonco, I'm releasing you from servitude. Please go hit Apollo on your way out-”

“Don't you dare!”

“Okay, please go do an angry face at Apollo on your way out.” Without hesitation, Clonco wheeled towards him, face turning red. What the hell happened to the Three Laws of Robotics when you needed them, anyway?!

“Hey kids,” piped the voice of Sol as one of the other doors swished open.

“Hey,” they both chorused back. Sol then actually surveyed the scene.

“Do I want to know what you've been up to in here?” he asked, staring at the man still lying half naked on the floor.

“I just got here,” said Apollo, kicking back and tucking his arms behind his head. “I am uninvolved in any of Clay's nefarious plans.”

“Riiiiight, my nefarious plan to actually get to a thousand push ups in a row.” Apollo rolled his eyes.

“There was no way there was ever a real reward for that. The gym teacher obviously told the class that because he wanted an annoying bunch of fifteen year olds to shut up for a couple years.”

“I think you'll find,” Clay argued into the floor, “that the reward in question, is pride.”

“Also I'm pretty sure the guy's dead now.” That got Clay to sit up. “Unless I overheard some of the trial for the murder of some other Mr Dodge Ball a year or so back.” Clay looked aghast.

“Why would you just drop that emotional bombshell on me like that?” he protested, crawling to his feet and collapsing next to Apollo, sweaty arms and all.

“Clay, he got fired for breaking a kid's nose.”

“I'm not saying he wasn't terrible, but murder, 'Pollo!” Apollo levelled a look at his friend. Sol was fiddling with the television screen to get it off of its screen saver mode.

“Yes, wow, murder in the city of Los Angeles!” Apollo said sarcastically. Clay scowled at him. “Look, sorry if I get a bit desensitised when I've been a qualified lawyer for less than half a year, and I've already been involved in three separate murder cases. I swear, sometimes, there's something in the water of this city that makes people just burst into violent rages.” Nearby, the wall mounted screened burst into life, the channel it had started on currently reading the news.

“-rium has again declined to comment on Ms DePlume's accusations. After a seven week long search following her disappearance, the body of Borginian singer Lamiroir has been discovered in an uninhabited Los Angeles house.” Apollo felt something cold drop in his stomach as the newsreader's words sank into the back of his skull. Beside him, he felt Clay tense up too. “Local law enforcement have named Daryan Crescend, a former detective and member of rock band the Gavinners, as the main suspect, and have released a statement to the public saying-” Sol had finally caught on and switched channels.

Apollo felt sick. “Sorry, Apollo. I'm guessing you were a fan..?” There it was. There it finally was. Sol grimaced at something over Apollo's shoulder, presumably Clay. Confirmation that he really had let a woman die. The screen was flashing through shots of children playing, trying to sell them cereal. Apollo Justice had indicted a child of one murder and set off a chain of events leading to another. Now he had been seconds away from getting off not just a killer, but a serial killer. The room felt very quiet, despite the cheery ad music blaring.

His thigh buzzed. Wait, that wasn't right. The phone in his pocket was ringing. That meant he had to answer it. Feeling more like a robot than any of the inhabitants of the Cosmos Space Centre, Apollo brought the device to his ear. “Apollo Justice here.” The lounge started to recolour itself, Sol grabbing a tablet from the charging hub, Clay leaning back to watch whatever program was starting on TV.

“I'm afraid something urgent's come up,” the voice on the other end of the phone crackled. After a second, Apollo placed it as Mr Gavin. Wait, but they'd swapped his day off to now to compensate for weekend work; he wasn't supposed to be working now. “I need you at the office immediately.”

“Sir,” Apollo said, mouth still dry. “I thought I had today off?” Clay looked over with interest. A sigh through the phone.

“Thus I am only calling for an urgent manner. This client is very insistent you take her husband's case.”

“No offense, sir,” Apollo said, glad his boss couldn't call him out on his eye roll all the way across town, “but surely you can take it?”

“It's at the client's insistence, Justice.” Apollo sighed, then stiffened. That wording felt... jarringly familiar. “I would hate to disappoint Ms Kitaki.”

“Well, I'm sorry, sir, but- wait Kitaki?!!!” The two astronauts nearby jumped. In the background of the call, Apollo swore he heard the deep, hearty cackle that he could honestly say he hadn't missed. “Again, sir?!” His poor, poor heart.

“Yes, Justice, I did indeed say your client is Ms Kitaki.”

“...Is it for murder again?”

“Of course it is, Justice. Now, the cab should've arrived outside by now; I'll see you in half an hour.”

“Sir I-” The line cut out. Apollo took a gratuitous moment to hold the handset out and glower at it. Two astronauts looked at him with pursed lips and unsure gazes. Apollo sighed and pushed himself up by his knees. “Sorry, I need to... Sorry.”

“'Pollo?” said Clay hesitantly. He sighed. “It's fine; I'm not gonna set an ultimatum. But text me when you have time?” Apollo nodded solemnly, and started his walk to the awaiting cab.

 

Chapter Text

It felt weird going into the office while still in his casual street clothes: like attending your college graduation in your pyjamas, or going swimming in a full tuxedo. Apollo self-consciously rolled his coat sleeves down as he opened the door. “Half an hour exactly!” exclaimed the voice of Plum Kitaki from her seat on one of the waiting couches, cup and saucer balanced perfectly on her lap. “If only everyone I knew was as punctual as you!” As she stood, crockery still in hand, Apollo remembered not to initiate a handshake with someone unable to respond. Learning from mistakes: second only to not making mistakes in the first place.

“I didn't expect to see you here again so soon, Ms Kitaki,” Apollo admitted, unsure what to do with himself while Plum straightened her obi with one hand. He sort of felt naked without his badge, if he was honest.

“And where else would I go if I needed a good lawyer?” she said jovially, walking briskly around the corner towards his desk. Apollo barely caught his attempted glance through the wall in time. Plum noticed anyway. “A good lawyer who gets his hands dirty, I mean.”

“Uh...” was all Apollo managed to respond with. Why had he agreed to come work with the gangster again? Oh, right, so he didn't have to refuse a gangster. Apollo settled down in his seat, and waited as his client stood expectantly by the door to his boss' office. “Sorry,” he started, running a suitably apologetic hand through his hair, “but my humble workspace is right over here...” Plum shook her head.

“That won't do,” she said. “This conversation needs to remain strictly private. And I've been made aware before as to where those private areas are in this establishment.” Apollo scratched at his neck. He guessed pointing out the privacy of the bathroom was the wrong move. Chewing his lip, Apollo stood and moved to knock on the door when it suddenly opened anyway; his fist hovered in the air, just shy of whacking Mr Gavin in the blue suited chest. He heard a chuckle behind him.

“I'm sure I needn't remind you that I am not, in fact, deaf,” the blond sneered, face unusually tight. Plum stared him down. The question of the day, obviously, who would win on a one on one fight between them; Apollo reckoned Mr Gavin might actually stand a chance if he wasn't trying to be cordial. Apollo wondered when he'd started thinking his very uptight, law abiding boss with a penchant for personal grooming might be able to one up a member of the Yakuza.

“In that case, Mr Gavin,” Plum said, “I can just ask you if you want to sit in on our meeting.” Mr Gavin tilted his head, smile straining.

“Don't worry, Ms Kitaki, unlike some in this world, I understand when I'm not wanted.” Apollo tried to not let his anxiety show too much as his boss brushed past him and towards the storage room instead. Why did everyone in his life apparently hate everyone else. Even the ones he thought got along.

“After you, then, Ms Kitaki,” Apollo mumbled, quickly doubling back to get a pen and legal pad off his desk before following her into foreign territory.

Apollo settled uncomfortably into Mr Gavin's leather desk chair and set his things on the empty surface before him; the actual owner of the space had been speedily thorough in clearing it. Apollo resisted the urge to adjust the chair so he had a better angle, hoping he wouldn't have to trespass too long. Damn Mr Gavin and his... long torso, he supposed. He couldn't really tell for the style of jacket he favoured.

“Alright then,” Apollo sighed, looking across the wood at his client. “Now that we've kicked Mr Gavin out, what did you actually need me for?” “Seriously. Here on my day off. For you. Appreciate me.”

“We've run into some... trouble with the bakery,” she explained. “This morning a customer dropped dead after eating one of our delicious freshly made cakes just out the front of the building.” Apollo frowned.

“Are the police sure it wasn't a coincidence? Just a normal old heart attack or an undiscovered allergy or...” His questions were drowned out by Plum's laughter.

“I like your spirit,” she cheered, and suddenly sobered. “But no, it was definitely poison.” Well she didn't have to sound so sure about that! “Unfortunately there was a witness who called the police, and Winfred was arrested the moment they arrived on the scene.”

“What about Wocky?” asked Apollo. “Last time we talked, you mentioned getting him to work in the family business. If he's a witness on our side, that would make this easier.” Plum shook her head sadly.

“He's in Europe, getting his operation.” She looked pensively into her tea. “And I would be with him too, if I hadn't had... issues... with my passport.”

“Funny how things work out, huh?” Apollo grinned, scribbling down a few points on his pad. “So your husband is being charged with poisoning a customer... Do you know when the trial-”

“Tomorrow.”

“And of course it is.” Apollo huffed and made to stand. “We have both the best and worst police force in the world after all!”

“I have one more thing to tell you, Apollo,” said Plum. Apollo sank back down again. “I happen to know the victim.” Apollo nodded nervously. “And I know he's connected to the Cadaverini family.” Apollo frowned, trying to place the vaguely familiar name, then let out an almighty groan.

“Please tell me we're not thinking about the same Cadaverini family,” he muttered. Plum cackled.

“With the way you're moaning up a storm, I'd say we are!” Explained why she was so set on the whole 'privacy' thing. “I don't know what they're pulling, Apollo, but from what I've seen of you, I think you'll get to the heart of the matter.” The lawyer swallowed, and took his letter of request from Plum; it was surprisingly unwrinkled from being tucked into her obi. They finally shook hands, and Apollo carried her empty teacup to the kitchenette as she bustled away.

Mr Gavin sat in Apollo's desk chair, reading a book with a small frown on his face. “You should go home and change before investigating,” he said closing the book with a clap. “Perhaps then you'll have a chance of being seen as an adult for once.” With little ceremony, Mr Gavin stormed back into his office and closed the door firmly. Why not just bring up him needing his badge?!


Back in his trusty red suit, Apollo made for the detention centre first. Best to know what he needed to ask the detectives ahead of time. Amazingly, the police let him in to see Winfred Kitaki almost immediately; either they couldn't find anything, or this was such an open and shut case that they didn't need anything.

The Kitaki boss nodded at Apollo as he was led in, the usual guard joined by a second, either side of the door of the visitor's room. “My wife sent you here?” he asked in a quiet voice. Apollo nodded in confirmation. “Good. What would you like to know?”

“A brief timeline would be nice for a start,” Apollo said busily, taking pen and paper from his satchel. Big Wins nodded solemnly.

“I arrived in the bakery at 5 so I could open at 8,” he began, head bowed so shadows were cast down by his ridiculously bushy eyebrows. “Everything went as usual. The man who died, Davide Canide, bought an eclair from the display at around 10. He sat on a bench outside the shop front, and when I next returned from the kitchen, he was collapsed on the ground.”

“Did you see anyone else during all this?” Apollo probed, jotting down the appropriate points.

“There were a few customers beforehand,” he said, unmoving. “But business is slow before the lunchtime rush.”

“No one hanging around outside the building?”

“If there was anyone, I couldn't see them from behind the counter. I assume a passer by called the police.” Apollo nodded, and wrote that down too. He checked his other notes and looked back up at Big Wins.

“Plum said she believed this Mr Canide to have Cadaverini connections,” he stated, tapping his pen. “Do you know anything about this?” A barely perceptible smirk morphed onto Big Wins' lips.

“'Connections' is not a strong enough word,” he said. “Davide Canide is 'connected' to the Cadaverinis in the same way as Little Plum is 'connected' to the Kitakis: married to the current head.”

“...The police are gonna be pretty set on their motive, then,” Apollo sighed. Just his luck.

“I hope you aren't set along with them, Mr Justice,” Big Wins continued lowly.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Apollo stammered. “I am definitely aware that the Kitakis aren't doing the whole mobster thing anymore! That has been made very clear!” “So please don't hurt the poor defenceless lawyer!” Anyway, obvious lead from there; what the heck was a Cadaverini doing in a Kitaki bakery?”

“That, I do not know for sure,” Big Wins said, back in his calmer tone. “But it makes me believe this was an attempt to incriminate me.”

“By offing someone really high in the food chain?” Apollo pointed out, sceptically. Big Wins gave an amused huff.

“Disputes can be complicated in the underworld. And even a wolf can be defeated by a wasp.” From his overcomplicated metaphor exposure thanks to one Mr Gavin, Apollo guessed that was supposed to have a double meaning and all be very clever. He raised his eyebrows to signal an appropriate level of being impressed. “But, Mr Justice, you should take note that there may be reason for this attack.

“A few weeks ago there was a minor... prison riot after an ex-lawyer was targeted. I am informed that in the chaos there was an altercation between some of my people, and a friend of the Cadaverinis. While I wish for this to be resolved without further violence, today has shown that my idea is not shared.” He looked straight at Apollo and raised his eyebrows just enough for his eyes to glint in the halogen light. “That is why my wife and I have come to you, Mr Justice. I... do not wish to go to prison, now that I have turned my new leaf. And now with Wocky's surgery, I am afraid I no longer have the money to ensure my own protection.”

“Well you can count on me, Mr Kitaki!” barked Apollo. “The Cadaverinis won't pin any false charges while I'm on the case!” The barely-a-smirk had returned.

“That is exactly what I hoped for. Good luck, Mr Justice.”


Apollo balked at the mess as he approached the Kitaki bakery. He'd at least gotten used to the blood by now, but why had no one warned him about all the other bodily fluids?! He quickly surveyed the people milling around. Familiar face, spotted! The detective looked up from her notepad as he approached, and pushed her pink-lensed glasses up to rest the top of her head.

“Afternoon, Detective Skye,” Apollo called.

“Hey, Justice,” Ema returned, grabbing a plastic bag from her coat pocket. Apollo's heart sank; what'd he done to warrant the Snackoos already making their appearance? But to his surprise, instead of throwing them at him, Ema nudged the bag open and offered the end to him.

“...You are giving me food,” he said suspiciously. “You are giving me your food.”

“What, this saying something else to you?” she quipped, nipping her hand in and taking a Snackoo for herself. Gingerly, Apollo copied her. He paused, and looked over to the white outline on the pavement, still surrounded by suspicious brown stains.

“Should we really be eating at the scene of a poisoning?” he asked warily. “You know, where someone got poisoned by eating sweets specifically?”

“Eh,” Ema shrugged. “I don't put arsenic in my food. Nothing to worry about.”

“Riiiight.” Apollo eyed the snack, before eventually giving in and popping it into his mouth. Huh. Pretty good actually. “Anyway,” he said between chews, “you seem... cheerful.”

“Well duh,” Ema replied, voice also muffled. “Poison cases are actually fun! You know, I got so much training for this, and this is the first time I've actually got a go at one? Too many people just hit each other these days. Why do that when you can use your brain and a little bit of science and make someone drown in air or make someone's skin go every colour of the rainbow!” Apollo was fairly concerned that Ema's eyes were about to literally sparkle, like some sort of poison fuelled firework.

“You are just a little bit too into this,” Apollo commented under his breath.

“Look, it's not like I'd use the power of science for evil,” she grinned. “Although... There are a few people I'd like to put a little something in their coffee...”

“Congratulations,” drawled Apollo. “I am in the midst of some sort of mob warfare, and I'm now most scared of you.”

“I wouldn't bother giving you the revenge shits!” she said cheerily, grin showing too many teeth. Or maybe that was just Apollo's imagination. “After all, you're the reason I am literally not allowed to work with The Fop ever again!” He frowned at her. “Yeah, apparently accusing me of murder was enough to convince the higher ups that maybe he shouldn't be bossing me around.” She wrinkled her nose and shoved another Snackoo in her mouth. “'Bout damn time if you ask me.”

“Well,” Apollo sighed, deciding to take another Snackoo, “at least someone came out on top from... all that.” Ema hummed in agreement.

Then suddenly stopped chewing and brought her hand to her mouth, eyes flying wide. “Oh god, I didn't even think,” she gasped. “I'm so sorry!”

“No, it should be fine on my end, if I'm looking at anyone else,” Apollo babbled, hands out calmingly. If she was keeping up, she should be blaming him! “I mean, everyone was a stranger to me! It shouldn't be so big a deal if I want to keep working in the legal world, right?” Ema blinked at him.

“Stranger..? Oh.” She had suddenly become much more interested in the exact appearance of the snack that had made its way into her hand. “So, no one's mentioned the autopsy, huh.”

“Eh?”

“What they found, down at the morgue, about 'Lamiroir'...” She wasn't making air quotes, but Apollo was fairly sure she was doing so in her head.

“What, other than my client murdering her within hours of his arrest?” Apollo snapped. “Because, yeah, actually, I know how timelines work. My job sorta relies on it, actually!” Ema didn't offer an immediate retort.

“It's just, according to fingerprint analysis, and dental records and basically everything, it turns out Lamiroir is actually Thalassa Gramarye.” She looked at him expectantly. Apollo just stared back. Who? “You know, the magician who was thought to have died in an accident about a decade back? Daughter of the one and only Magnifi Gramarye?!” Nope. Magic shows had seemed pretty boring at that age. “How do you not recognise that name?! I thought you were-” She cut herself off. “He said he was going to tell you,” she growled under her breath. Apollo cleared his throat.

“If you wouldn't mind? Since apparently I'm not in on whatever the hell is going on behind my back?” The detective gave him a pitying look.

“I think you should probably ask Mr Wright,” she said. “I'm not good at this sort of... emotional thing.”

“No.” Apollo folded his arms. “I'm not going out of my way to have another useless conversation with him unless I am literally forced to.” The Snackoo bag rustled ominously as Ema melted a little bit back to her usual self.

“Jeez, no need to get pissy on me for Mr Wright not wanting to talk to you much,” she snarled around a mouthful of chocolate and sugar.

“Just tell me already!”

“Ugh, fine! Thalassa Gramarye was your mom, got it? Sorry for trying to let you down gently!” She growled under her breath again, and Apollo was left with the cries of a thousand Snackoos. Well. That was certainly a statement.

“So, where'd she supposedly die the first time round?” he asked, leaning back on one leg.

“Here. In LA. You could literally look it up right now.” Apollo resisted a grin. Swing and a miss. If this Thalassa lady was American, he didn't have to think about it.

“Oh, good,” he drawled. “For a second there I thought Wright might actually have something on me. But hooray for bluffing, right?” A Snackoo hit him in the face. Crime scene: contaminated.

“You know,” Ema munched. “I just realised... I have no incentive to give you any info?” A beat.

“H-hey, that's not fair!” Apollo protested.

“Fair, schmair; you're being an asshole.” Another Snackoo vanished into the void. “Hmm, and the team probably wouldn't notice if a bit of hydrogen sulfide went missing all of a sudden.”

“Okay, fine, fine, don't poison me!” Ema didn't respond, just kept chewing. “...Please may I at least have a copy of the autopsy report, and then I will go quietly.” More chewing. “Pretty please.” A thoughtful pose, sort of like The Thinker, but holding a Snackoo. “I will literally call you 'Your Majesty' for the rest of the time I am here, but I just really need that report.” There was a suspiciously louder crunch, and Ema side-eyed him.

“...Do it in court tomorrow too and you've got a deal,” she smirked.

“You want me to call you 'Your Majesty',” Apollo repeated, “in court. That is, in a court of law. During a murder trial.” He glowered at her. “Okay seriously, I don't know who-”

“You know, Justice, having a well prepared defence lawyer makes the police look bad,” she said, loudly. “They're really cracking down on us detectives.”

“Fine!” Apollo all but yelled. “This is probably the weirdest bribe in history, but sure! What's 'Her Majesty' without her Court anyway?!” Staring Ema down as hard as he could without his eyes literally popping out of his skull, Apollo shook her hand. She grinned.

“Hey, Chou, you heard all that, right?” she shouted off to the side. A nearby woman with a huge cloud of hair surrounding her head grunted, evidently put off at being distracted from her work. “You're a witness to this, got it?” Another grunt. “No wriggling out, Justice. Not with both me and Prince on the lookout.” Dammit, he had sort of been planning to skip out of that one, if she couldn't prove the agreement happened. But she'd clearly spent too much time around lawyers for... well his good, not exactly hers. Ema cleared her throat.

“Understood, Your Majesty,” he grumbled. The detective's smile made Apollo feel... uneasy, somehow. “Can I have the autopsy report now?”

“Sure.” Cheerily she walked over to a little fold-out table the police had set up (absolutely choked in chemistry-ish-looking equipment, Apollo noted) and leafed through a stack of papers. “No... no... that's not even for this case so I don't know what it's doing in here... ahah!” Ema cleared her throat and turned back to hand her poor, bedraggled subject a ream of paper. “Now, since you are uninitiated, let me tell you all about this-”

“Actually, Your Majesty, I'm good.” As he began to read through the report, a Snackoo hit his forehead.

“That wasn't a request.” Apollo surreptitiously gulped and looked back up again. Well someone was on a power high today. If only it were him. “As you know if you've been paying attention, the victim here died by acute arsenic poisoning-” Apollo was already starting to lose focus as the far too excited detective accelerated to talking a mile a minute. Smile and nod, Justice. Hell, maybe try that eye contact trick Prosecutor Gavin told you about. A test subject for a test subject, or however the real saying went. “So naturally all the signs were there: diarrhoea, vomiting, acute hemolysis. If you compare that to the usual signs of chronic arsenic exposure...” Apollo couldn't help but notice that Ema had turned her attention away from him and towards the white outline on the pavement; he silently tuned her out and read the autopsy report instead. 1: Canide had shown signs of distress at 10:20; the paramedics declared him dead when they arrived on the scene at 10:40. 2: Lethal quantity of arsenic found in the cream of the eclair the victim had been eating, matching symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning exhibited by the victim. 3: Only other trace of arsenic at the scene was a used syringe thrown into a dumpster behind the Kitaki Bakery: no fingerprints discernible. 4: A jogger, Sue de Nymme, had stopped to talk with the victim; she was the person who called an ambulance and the police. Apollo nodded to himself; he was pretty certain of which thread he'd have to follow up on quickly.

He let himself drift back into the present world. “...but organic arsenic's really not that hard to come by, what with relatively high levels found in Californian tap water; give me the proper filtration equipment and I could probably pull off my own murder within a couple weeks.” Apollo blinked, unsure of exactly when the detective before him had begun seriously working out how to kill people.

“Remind me to only ever drink bottled water again,” he commented absently. And give it to Mikeko for that matter. He'd rather pamper her forever and break the bank instead of killing his cat, gangster style.

“Actually, since the arsenic comes from the groundwater,” Ema continued without losing a beat, “you'd be just as screwed buying bottled water from a company that uses Californian reservoirs.” Apollo pouted.

“Okay, just so you know, Your Majesty, when I drop dead from dehydration in about a week, it's entirely your fault.”

“You're welcome!” Ema smiled back.

“There is something less poison-based I wanted to ask about, though,” Apollo said. Ema visibly wilted. He flicked through his report and tapped at the section about the witness. “Is there any way I could contact Ms de Nymme? I think I need a little chat with her.” The Snackoos had somehow sneaked back into Ema's hands.

“Sorry, no can do,” she munched half-heartedly. “She said she didn't want to be contacted further.” Apollo blinked.

“...So she's not testifying in court tomorrow?”

“Nope.”

“She's the only known witness and she's just not going to say anything?!” Ema shrugged.

“Can't say I blame her; I mean, I wouldn't want to risk pissing off the Kitaki family, would you?”

“Your Majesty, I am literally defending them for the second time this year,” Apollo said. “I think that counts as evidence of how worried I am about getting into mob stuff.” i.e. terrified, but she didn't need to know that. “Plus, they're not in the crime business anymore!”

“Riiiiight. Because we both know how much words mean, O Mr Lawyer Man.” Apollo grumpily crossed his arms and scowled. Well, you know what? He was going to point out the whole 'the Cadaverinis are stinking the place up big time' tip off, but he suddenly didn't feel in the mood! Besides, a prepared police force makes the defence look bad. Which totally probably maybe was a reasonable line of thought. After all, they wouldn't get any surprise mob family activity, just the perpetrators weren't what they thought; it wasn't as if Apollo was putting anyone in danger, really. “Anything else you wanted, by the way?” Apollo jolted out of his own thoughts.

“Huh? Oh, oh right, um...” No moral dilemmas at work, Justice. “I'd like to have a quick look around the bakery's kitchen-”

“No,” interrupted the other cop on the scene, the woman with the poofy hair and the forensics armband. Prince, Apollo was pretty certain she'd been called. Again. Apollo looked at her confusedly. “I'm not finished. Don't contaminate the scene.” Apollo looked down at the Snackoo crumbs all over the ground. Apollo looked back up at Prince.

“I promise not to touch-”

“Do lawyers not know how to listen these days?” she growled. “I said no.” He tried looking pleadingly at Ema for help. She just gave him an irritatingly smug little smirk.

“You got arsenic detection kits for me to play around with?” she asked mockingly. Apollo narrowed his eyes at her.

You are far too easily bribed, you know that?” he said, halfway between a sneer and a pout and pointing accusingly.

“Eh, I don't get paid enough to resist entertainment,” she shrugged. She popped another snack in her mouth. Apollo made a mental note to sue the police department for corruption at some point. With some of the cases he'd seen so far, they clearly deserved it. “But yeah, if that report's all you wanted, then scram. I've got things to do.” Admitting defeat, Apollo retreated to the nearest bus stop to work out his next move, both literal and figurative.

 

Chapter Text

Back to the office, Apollo decided, to see if he could... circumnavigate the 'do not contact me' instructions of the key witness. Or at the very least bounce some ideas off of his boss. He walked in, notepad full of notes he'd jotted down on the bus and slumped across to his desk. Something was certainly happening in Mr Gavin's office, what with the thumping and rustling going on. Hopefully any angry fits were not being caused by earlier. Not that it was particularly likely Mr Gavin would destroy his entire office in a fit of jealousy over an undesirable case, but still. Apollo shook his head and traipsed into the storeroom to look for a good old fashioned directory.

It made a satisfying boom as he hefted it onto his desk. Right... now to find 'de Nymme'...

“Ah, Justice, how long have you been here?” asked the voice of Mr Gavin, as his door creaked open. Apollo thought he saw him stuff something in his pocket.

“Just got in, sir,” he said, running his finger down the directory page. Delite... de Meurnier... Dent... Depp... Apollo glared at the page, mentally reciting through the alphabet in his head. Dammit, stupid directories. Too easy to get off of them... which he still needed to do at some point, come to think of it. “The police are being useless again.”

“They do tend to enjoy doing that,” Mr Gavin sighed, moving round to behind Apollo's chair as he took a massive chunk of pages and flipped to the 'N's instead. “Just what new depths have they reached today?”

“Letting the sole witness off the hook?” Apollo complained, still scanning through the names. Apparently a total of zero de Nymmes or plain old Nymmes lived in California. “Missing the whole 'married to the mob' background of the witness? Blatantly showing off their allegiances to disbarred lawyers who shouldn't be anywhere near this case and yet worm their way into every little thing I try to do, and just generally being an example of why that 'Dark Age of the Law' buzz keeps getting thrown around? Take your pick!”

“What did he say?” uttered Mr Gavin quietly. At some point he'd stiffened, and Apollo's chair bumped into the man as he swivelled it round to log onto his desktop computer. After all, when in doubt, get unto thee the internet!

“Sorry, sir?”

“What did this mysteriously allied disbarred lawyer say?” Apollo turned his head to look properly at his boss.

“That I helped in my mother's death,” he said cryptically. He let out a chuckle. “Desperate, right?” His computer dinged its awakening. Mr Gavin's face relaxed to a smile.

“Very desperate indeed.” Apollo tilted his head and stared at his boss' face. Something... something about him was just rubbing weirdly at the moment. Like spotting a single pixel on a flat screen TV that was just starting to glitch out. “Justice, have you been sleeping enough recently? You've got quite the faraway look in your eyes.” Apollo jerked back, blinking rapidly.

“Sorry, sir,” he laughed roughly. And just like that, nothing. “I guess my brain's not been resting properly at night!” Mr Gavin left out a soft sigh.

“I'll get you a drink,” he said, the chair creaking as the weight he'd put on the back was lifted. “Something non caffeinated, perhaps, to let you sleep before tomorrow's trial.”

Apollo mumbled a thanks, and refocussed on his computer screen. Sue de Nymme, prepare to face... the void. Apollo grimaced and clicked through the links for social media searches. No results, no results, no results. According to his browser, the only Sue de Nymme that had ever graced the world wide web was someone on the Steel Samurai fan forum. And even they had ceased activity five years ago. The scent of rooibos assaulted his nose as a cup was placed before him.

“The Steel Samurai, Justice, really?” Apollo rapidly pressed the back button. Naturally, it backed out into the thread he'd just come from.

“This is definitely not what it looks like,” he mumbled, feeling his cheeks start to burn. He continued hammering the back button until he was finally free from the clutches of the forum. “Ugh, I swear this show gets everywhere.”

“Oh? I take it you're not a fan?” Apollo barked in laughter.

“I guess I just didn't catch it at the right age,” he said.

“I've never seen that be a deterrent to others,” Mr Gavin muttered darkly. Apollo tilted his head in question, not looking away from the computer. Maybe... 'Susan' de Nymme? 'Soo' de Nymme? Ugh, he was just grasping at straws now. “But then again, there are reasons I employ you and not them.”

“Ah, so I'd be fired on the spot if I came into work wearing a Steel Samurai t-shirt?”

“I think, Justice, that if you came into work wearing such attire there would be a multitude of reasons for my firing you that have very little to do with my distaste for a particular children's show.” He let out a little sigh. “Now, I think you've put your poor internet browser through enough, hm? Unless you truly have your sights set on sourcing witnesses from an internet forum, in which case I would like to remind you of basic legal procedure.” Apollo hurriedly shut the browser window.

“Yeah, don't worry, sir!” he chuckled nervously. “I would never try something like that!” “If you were going to find out, anyway..!” The sceptical look from his boss suggested he could, in fact, read Apollo's thoughts. Which wasn't exactly comforting. “Actually, sir, can I ask you something?” After all, one witness down didn't necessarily mean he'd lost all hope.

“Ask away, Justice.”

“Do you happen to know who the current head of the Cadaverini family is? The Kitakis said the victim was married to them, but I didn't think to ask a name...” And, not being a part of the seedy underbelly of LA, Apollo didn't magically have that sort of knowledge. Whoops. A disbelieving look from Mr Gavin stared back at him.

“You 'didn't think to ask'?” he said. Apollo shuffled awkwardly in his seat.

“Sorry, sir,” he mumbled. “I got kinda thrown off by doing a big case on my own. I'm really sorry about that earlier, by the way! I'm not sure what Ms Kitaki's thought process was, kicking you out!” And really, Mr Gavin clearly got cowed by the woman too if he called Apollo in. Mr Gavin blinked, frozen for a moment, then finally melted into a smile.

“Not to worry, Justice. I never blamed you.” And like a boot to the head, the sudden sensation of wrongness pulsed across his vision. Blinking violently, Apollo rubbed at his eyes, trying to clear the aching. “Justice?” He hissed and tapped around for the mug of tea his boss had put down for him, only for the porcelain to immediately be pulled from his fingers.

“Sir, I'm fine, I just need a-”

“A fly just landed in it,” Mr Gavin said unusually gravely. “I'll get you another.” And with that he pushed himself firmly to his feet and walked with the mug back to the kitchenette. Apollo winced again and tried to pull his head back up again, and to his surprise he was met with no further pain; the tension behind his eyes vanished the instant Mr Gavin left the room. Maybe Mr Gavin had just been wearing a type of cologne he was allergic to? Apollo didn't know what they put in fancy cologne these days: could be anything, really. He could hear the kettle boiling next door, and crockery crashing louder than needs be. Had it been two months ago, Apollo would've been inclined to blame it on his bracelet, but then again, the pain then had been in his wrist, not his eyes. Wondering, he flexed his left hand, watching the tendons move beneath his skin. And why would it be after Apollo apologised, not before, if he'd been right in thinking it was picking up hidden secrets? Well, maybe he was overthinking this; maybe he just needed to book an eye test for some point in the near future. After all, how likely was a magic ability to see secrets that caused random body parts to sprain themselves? And he was fairly sure he'd used up his Unlikely Event Quota by age twelve.

The reappearance of Mr Gavin (plus one rooibos) broke him out of his thoughts and he dug out the autopsy report. The police didn't know who he was married to, but did they know anything else about the victim? If so, Apollo could dig around and find someone who had a motive to be the real criminal. Well, he was in his forties so... Quickly Apollo reopened his browser and pulled another search up, this time for Davide Canide. Sure enough, the man's social media presence was now displayed for all to see. Apparently he really liked dogs. Heck even his hair kinda looked like poodle ears. But Apollo wasn't there to find out Mr Canide's favourite animal. He changed tab. Relationship status: married to Viola Cadaverini. Perfect. “Gotcha,” Apollo whispered under his breath. He clicked into Ms Cadaverini's page: blank. “Shoot.” Spot the born mobster compared to the idiot who married in.

“Something the matter, Justice?” asked Mr Gavin, leaning over his shoulder. Everything about the action was completely ordinary once more, as if Apollo's sudden reaction beforehand had been nothing more than a dream. Mr Gavin examined the screen. “Ah, if you're looking for a Viola Cadaverini, then I have some good news for you.” Apollo turned in his seat. “I've accidentally received a few letters addressed to her in the past, here at the office. I assume she works in one of the buildings around here... 'Tinder Lender'? Something along those lines.” Something at the back of Apollo's mind suddenly clicked into place.

“Tender Lender!”

“That is approximately what I just said, yes,” said Mr Gavin. “I believed you to be a lawyer, not a parrot, Apollo.”

“No, I just recognise that name! From-” Apollo abruptly shut himself off as his mind caught up to his mouth, and he remembered which part of his memory that particular name belonged to. Mentioning the mysteriously allied disbarred lawyer in front of Mr Gavin equals bad, Justice. “From somewhere, I guess.” Hurriedly he stuffed his report back into his satchel and made to stand; he knocked against his boss' body. “If it's close by, I should be able to question her before she closes!”

“Justice.” Apollo nodded, shuffling sideways along the edge of his desk to get out. Mr Gavin took a large sideways stepped and blocked him again. “You wish to confront a woman you believe to be the head of a long established crime family, who lost her husband supposedly to an opposing crime family this morning, while you are yourself working for that same opposing crime family?” The 'I thought I taught you better than this' was left hanging in the air, unsaid.

“Um... Well when you put it like that, it does sound pretty stupid, huh.” Apollo trailed off, worrying his lip.

“Perhaps there is a reason it sounds that way, hm?” Mr Gavin returned sarcastically. “Truly there must be some sort of correlation between the little voice in one's head that tells them not to dive head first into pointlessly dangerous situations, and the little voice in one's head that reminds them not to shout to a person all of a foot away from them.” Yeah, yeah, 'impulse control' had already been discovered, thanks.

“Well... if you come along with me, maybe it will deter her by numbers...”

“Apollo, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant to only think that idea instead of actually proposing it.” Apollo giggled nervously and rubbed at his hair. Sure. Let's go with that.

“In that case, sir, I'm not actually sure what to do next,” he admitted.

“There's nothing more to gather at the crime scene?”

“Did I mention the whole 'lead detective is easily bribed by things I don't have' thing? I feel like I didn't.” Damn Dark Age of the Law. There to scapegoat all of life's problems. “And...” Apollo strained his neck to read the wall clock, “I wouldn't be able to get to the detention centre for more questioning within visiting hours. And last time I tried going after hours the guards on duty recognised me and got really snappy with me! And I-”

“I understand what you're trying to say, Justice, just please, be quieter about it.” Apollo halted, belatedly realising he'd let his voice rise again in his anxiety.

“Sorry, sir.” Mr Gavin's brow unpinched itself, and he gave a long-suffering sigh.

“I suppose at the end of the day, I cannot physically restrain you from jumping in front of a metaphorical train,” he sighed. “However, if you wish to gain anything of use, it would be wise to record the encounter for someone else to reference in case of your inevitable demise. Hand me your phone.” Apollo nodded dumbly and did so. That metaphor was... somewhat more blunt than usual. Mr Gavin coughed and got Apollo to unlock the device, before switching to its sound recorder. He placed it gently onto the desk. “Now, Justice, let us have a conversation.”

“About what?” Mr Gavin rubbed at his temples.

“It doesn't matter, Apollo,” he ground out irritably. “This is a sound test. I wasn't aware you leave your brain in a jar on days you aren't scheduled to come into work.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“No matter,” his boss sighed again, and picked the phone back up, stopped the recording and pressed play. A lot of static filled the room, even at full volume.

“......matter.........sound te.........”

“Your microphone is terrible,” sneered Mr Gavin, putting it back down.

“Well I didn't exactly get the phone for microphone quality,” Apollo said. “If someone can't hear me in a call, I just speak louder?”

“Somehow that doesn't surprise me.” Mr Gavin's voice was just loud enough to hear. He was carefully tilted the phone around, eyes running up and down the sides. “Wait here,” he said, louder, and went into his office. For a moment there was a lot of shuffling and clinking and thumping, and then he returned with a small black rectangle of plastic with a phone jack in the middle, and plugged it into the side of Apollo's flip phone, making the little thing look terribly lopsided. The man pressed to record again. “Let's try this again, shall we?”

“So that's a microphone?” asked Apollo.

“Yes, Justice,” came the reply, as if to a very young and stupid child.

“Why do you keep that in your office, if you don't mind me asking?” Apollo's eyes caught on a crease forming in Mr Gavin's jacket as his stance tightened.

“I bought it for an older, broken phone of mine while I looked for a replacement,” he replied, too quickly, and picked Apollo's phone up again before he had a chance to press him. “Now, let's see how that improved the recording.”

Sure enough, other than a strange, exceedingly high pitched whining in the background, their short conversation played out in perfect quality, very loud and clear.

“I give you this, then, to record your suicide mission,” Mr Gavin said, handing it over. Apollo nodded along, resisting the urge to roll his eyes until his boss was out of the room. Now he had a device that could blow someone's eardrums out if he shouted into it: Level Up!


Tender Lender was the type of building that had obviously been built around, sitting squat and brick-fronted among the other offices in the area. All in all, the place was surprisingly cheap looking from the outside, especially in contrast to both its surroundings and the knowledge that it was owned by the mafia. Perhaps they just killed anyone who complained about the aesthetic. Apollo shook himself back into the present, double checking his phone was recording. A deep breath, and he pushed open the front door. A tiny bell rang from above as he did. A particularly robust looking woman in a worryingly nondescript suit sat behind the reception desk, reading a hunting magazine: just in case anyone worried they weren't getting involved in mob stuff.

“I'm here to speak with Ms Viola Cadaverini,” Apollo said hopefully, doing his damnedest not to cross his fingers behind his back for luck.

“You have an appointment?” the receptionist asked in a monotone.

“Um, no?”

“Then sit.” With a nod, Apollo did what he was told, and squished himself into one of the boring chairs along one wall. At least him being all nervous wouldn't be unusual in a place like this. Just another office-working sod who's got problems going on, thank you, nothing to see here. A shrill laugh echoed through the wall. Did offices just not do soundproofing these days? Apollo strained his ears to listen to the noises: at least two different voices, feminine in pitch and intonation.

“'Course they believed it,” went one. Would the microphone be strong enough to pick them up? “Idiots the lot of them. Didn't even question me.”

More laughter, a different source. “Even with that? And they skipped right on over you to get Big Wins? You've got wiles, sis.” More laughter, two people; they suddenly silenced, and the quietness stretched.

First voice, calmer. “No, I don't know why that happened. He must've found out and got in first.” Another pause, and Apollo realised there must be someone else speaking, but far too quiet to reach the neighbouring room.

Second voice again. “Come on, Carmen did good enough, cuz! They ain't looking, right, sis?” More quiet. The receptionist flicked a page of her magazine. There was a fly somewhere in the room by the sound of it. More talking, but now too muffled to hear. With a restrained sigh, Apollo leant back and let his head fall against the wall. Judging by the endearments, he should've made an appointment. Clearly the lot of them had plenty to talk about.

No sooner had Apollo accepted his endless wait, the nearby door swung open, and two young women with matching thick, black hair traipsed out, one giggling and the other biting her lip.

“-ell Uncle Rosario... Spain's not hiding him forever,” called a new voice, surprisingly clear now the door had been opened. Maybe there was soundproofing. Maybe these people were just very loud.

“And make Papa hate us more?” the giggling one gasped. Apollo reckoned she was the owner of voice number two. “How could we turn it down?!” The remaining woman sighed and tugged on the other's arm.

“Mercedes, let's just get going already.” Voice number one: identified. “Right now I just want to have dinner and sleep.”

“Fine, fine. Ciao, Viola!” Apollo eyed the two warily as they left the building. They sounded suspiciously like family members. Or... Family members, he supposed. Heh. Mobster puns.

“Pei?” called the voice still in the room. “Can you start closing up...” The receptionist languidly looked up, gazing at Apollo.

“There's still a guy out here,” Pei replied, eyes beginning to bore into his soul. Did it still count as showing weakness if it was the reaction of any sane human? “Want me to chuck him out?” Apollo could just about make out a sigh.

“I think... that would be best.” Apollo got to his feet, ready to object.

“Wait! I promise I won't take long-”

“Out,” Pei cut in.

“But I really need to see-”

Out.”

“Seriously, this is imp-” Pei pushed herself up and marched around the desk towards Apollo. “Okay, got it, got it,” he stammered, backing away. “I'll just go, sure.” Pei continued to approach, considerably quicker than he was walking backwards, and twisted him round by the shoulders. The little bell above the door chimed as he was shoved through it.

He just about caught himself before he tumbled forward onto the concrete paving slabs. “Well,” he announced to nobody in particular. “So much for that idea.” He sighed and started his walk back to the office, when something scuffed away from his foot. A... wallet? Frowning, Apollo stooped to pick it up, noticed the glint of a set of keys not too far along the path towards the parking lot. Quickly he checked inside the wallet, pulling out the driver's licence; the apparent owner was one Carmen Cadaverini. Useful. Waddling forwards, Apollo scooped up the keys as well and followed the path, twirling the keyring idly. A sudden shout rang up from amongst the parked cars.

“Mercedes I know this is because of you; stop using my bag to carry knives for God's sake!”

“Not my fault you're getting done by cheap knock-off bags, sis.” Sure enough, the two young women from Tender Lender were facing off next to a sleek black saloon car.

“Excuse me,” piped up Apollo, holding the wallet and keys aloft. “Is one of you Carmen Cadaverini?” One of them held up her hand tiredly, and slumped over to take the lost item.

“Thanks,” she said. “Someone managed to slash open the bottom of my handbag.” She glared at the other woman, who, now that they were in the bright light of outside instead of the misery of a loan shark's place, was clearly still only a teenager.

Whatever.”

“Actually,” Apollo continued before they could start arguing. He flashed his badge. “I'm currently investigating the death of a Mr Davide Canide, and was told he was married to a Ms Cadaverini; that wouldn't happen to be one of you, would it?” Put on the innocent investigator face, Justice. They don't know that you know how wrong you are. Carmen shook her head.

“Sorry, still single ladies over here,” she said.

“Perhaps a family member of yours then..?” Carmen narrowed her eyes at him.

“Maybe you should mind your own business, sir. You don't know what you're getting into, do you?” The teenager leaned back on the front of the car and made a gun with her fingers, shooting idly into the sky.

“Yeah, signore,” she grinned. “Don't mess with any Ms Cadaverini or... pew!” Carmen rolled her eyes at the other's display.

“Ignore my sister,” she said sweetly. “Sometimes she doesn't know when to shut up.” Her sister flipped her off.

“Better than being shit-scared Viola's gonna come whack you with her crutch just because you dissed her hubby to some random on the street!”

Mercedes!” Carmen hissed. “Shut. Up.” Mercedes stuck her tongue out and went back to shooting the breeze. Apollo folded his arms and looked at Carmen expectantly.

“Sure, Davide married our cousin a few months back. Don't ask me why, he's a stupid prick. Now if that was all, go away.”

“So he's the type of person to have enemies?” Apollo shot in, carefully edging round to the front of Carmen again.

“Not that I know,” she said hurriedly. “Other than usual Family stuff, I guess.”

“'Usual family stuff'?”

“You that dumb, signore?” chided Mercedes from the car. “Cadaverini! Mean anything to you?”

“Oh, did Mr Canide's family not approve of the marriage?” Apollo asked, totally innocently. Carmen looked at him disbelievingly.

“Not us, idiot. The Kitaki family.”

“Careful, sis,” Mercedes called. “He's probably too dumb to know them as well!”

“Oh, as in the Kitaki Bakery, I know,” Apollo nodded. The two Cadaverinis shared a funny look.

“What, so you couldn't put the name and the scene of the crime together?” Carmen sneered. “No wonder you see so many seventeen year olds running around in court these days if you can pass the Bar.” Well that wasn't very nice. “But yeah, Kitaki poisoned him, at the Kitaki Bakery. Big surprise there.” She surged forwards again, all but pushing Apollo aside, and unlocked the car. “Now, I've got places to be. Mercedes, get in the car.”

“Ms Cadaverini-” Both women ignored him, and he was drowned out by the slamming of doors and the rumble of the engine. Mercedes flipped him the bird as the car backed up and swung far too fast out into the road. Apollo huffed and kicked at a loose stone on the ground. Stupid Cadaverinis. He kicked another stone, starting back to the office for real this time. Knowing too well I don't want to fight a gangster. Only in his head was he not blatantly sulking. Not making obvious slip ups or being obviously outwardly evil. Totally unfair.

“Back,” he muttered darkly as he stepped back into Gavin Law.

“Mercy me, you're still alive,” said Mr Gavin, perfectly coolly from the printer. “Truly a miracle has occurred on this day.” Apollo ignored him and pulled out his phone to finally stop the sound recorder. Good. It hadn't completely destroyed the memory on it or anything. “You were able to record your interview with Ms Cadaverini?”

“Sort of,” Apollo sighed, pressing play on the newest audio file. The speaker whirred into life, the sound of his own past breathing playing loudly in the room. The bell of Tender Lender chimed as the event replayed.

“How do you mean?” asked Mr Gavin, voice developing an irritable tone. While the recording kept playing, Apollo gave the abridged story, trying not to focus on the angry twitches of his boss' mouth. Great. No information and Disappointed Gavin. What a wonderful day this was turning out to be.

The audio had reached around the point Apollo had been able to eavesdrop. Sure enough, anything useful was completely overpowered by the scratching noises from being in his pocket. Mr Gavin shook his head. “Well it appears that your poor investigation skills leave us no choice but to create our own evidence,” he sighed.

“S-Sorry, sir?!” Apollo exclaimed. “We can't just forge evidence! That's terrible!”

“It was a figure of speech, Justice,” Mr Gavin said dully. “I refer to you getting one of those women on the stand tomorrow and dragging out enough information to put them away, instead of your client. Your job, in other words.”

“What if it wasn't one of them that did it, thought?” Mr Gavin blinked at him. The part where Mercedes and Carmen were insulting Apollo had come up.

“And you're certain they're innocent, are you?” he asked. And the award for loaded question of the day went to..! “If they committed this particular crime, then there's no problem. If they didn't commit this particular crime, then they've no doubt committed some similar crime before, or will do so in the future. So again, there should be no problem.” Apollo chewed his lip and stared down at where he shuffled his shoe across the carpet. Mr Gavin stepped closer, beginning to loom over him. “Look at me, Justice.” Apollo took a breath and tilted his head back up. “There's no poor outcome for putting a Cadaverini away. And in your head you know that, don't you?

“So what are you going to do tomorrow?”

“Put a Cadaverini away.” Mr Gavin smiled.

“I'm glad to hear it.”


Clay: ur still not free?

Clay: dude its like 11 take a break

Clay: polloooooooooo

Clay: :(

Clay: pollo im sleep now but srsly

Clay: we NEED to talk tmrrw

Clay: like REALLY need

Clay: well ur def not replying

Clay: night i guess

 

Chapter Text

He was Apollo Justice and he was fine. But he really wished Big Wins would stop staring at him like that.

“So yeah,” Apollo finished lamely. “It's got to be one of them. I managed to get in touch with Ms Viola, so she should be waiting in the gallery.” Well, as long as he could trust the bailiff's information.

“You avoided the police?” said Big Wins, face unchanging. “Wise.”

“Well it's still my best chance at a trump card,” Apollo explained. “Since I need to keep the prosecution on their toes to get as much testimony as I can. Mr Gavin said that shouldn't be too hard with today's prosecutor though: Sebastian Debeste, I think his name was?” Mr Gavin had then proceeded to make a mean joke out of the man's name. Apollo didn't really feel like repeating it. “But you're gonna be fine, Mr Kitaki! I'm sure of it!” Big Wins nodded, silently.



The gavel clicked. “Court is now in session for the trial of Winfred Kitaki.”

“The defence is ready, Your Honor.”

“The prosecution...” Prosecutor Debeste paused for dramatic effect, and bowed, arms outstretched. “Is ready, Your Honor.” Apollo tried not to roll his eyes too hard. Why was everyone at the prosecutor's office so damn theatric? The little sprig of hair on Debeste's head bobbed along with him. Between the hair and the red suit jacket, Apollo was starting to feel a little challenged.

“I must say before we start,” said the judge enthusiastically. “I've never seen the defence and prosecution so well coordinated before!” Apollo faked a smile. He presumed Debeste's was just as faked. There could only be one.

“Thank you, Your Honor,” he chuckled. “I was thinking of wearing the jacket that came with my red suit too.” He shot Debeste a nasty grin and crossed his arms. “But then I realised it would be a bit too gauche. But at least it means we don't match, right, Prosecutor Debeste?” Apollo reckoned he deserved a pat on the back for that barbed comment. Note: tell Mr Gavin about it later. Debeste's smile wavered a little.

“We certainly don't,” he said. “Now, we have a trial to conduct, do we not?” And with that, he removed something from his suit pocket, twiddled it between his gloved palms, and with a flourish extended it into a full conductor's baton. Apollo blinked in disbelief. Well at least the testimony wasn't getting 'whipped' into shape this time round. One, two, three, one, two three; Debeste swung the baton, eyes following the tip as he talked. “As for my opening statement! The defendant, Winfred Kitaki, is undoubtedly the killer. He was the only one with access to the victim's food, so the truth should be obvious to anyone with a starch belief in facts!” Apollo frowned at the prosecutor.

“Did you mean to say a 'staunch' belief?” he asked. Debeste's face lit up.

“Remember, Mr Justice, this is a case all about cakes!” he grinned, baton swishing side to side like a cat's tail. “A pastry case, if you will!” The judge laughed heartily. Apollo just had the sudden urge to cry. Vaguely musical themed dramatics and poorly timed puns? He was beginning to wonder whether Prosecutor Gavin was just very good at disguises. “So, let the first witness please come to the cake stand!” Please stop! He couldn't cake- take this anymore!



“Name and occupation please, Ms Witness!”

“Ema Skye, lead detective.” Apollo was honestly surprised at the not totally miserable tone of the woman. Maybe the novelty of poison hadn't worn off yet.

“Now please tell the court all about Mr Kitaki's custardly crime!” Oh for the love of-

“Was that supposed to be a play on dastardly?” Apollo protested. “Stop trying to make puns that don't make any sense!” Debeste looked over at him, a pout briefly ghosting across his face; a smug look returned.

“Objection, Mr Justice,” he smiled, hands splayed in front of him. “If you keep picking up on them all, then they clearly must make sense in your mind.”

“Just because I-”

“Objection sustained,” interrupted the judge. “Mr Justice, if you keep ruining our fun, a penalty will be coming your way!”

“...Someone's dead, Your Honor,” Apollo croaked. Murder trial! Why did this mean nothing in this country?!

“And we all will be someday,” said the judge sagely. “So it's best we all have some levity in our lives before then.” Apollo felt his eye twitch involuntarily. “Now, witness, your testimony. And feel free to inject some levity into it!” Yes, preferably with the syringe from the crime scene so we can all die with some sort of dignity left.

“No problem, Your Honor!” smirked Ema, still in a worryingly pleasant mood. “There's nothing more fun than the symptoms of arsenic poisoning, after all!”

“Objection!” shouted Apollo, holding up the autopsy. “Vomiting and diarrhoea aren't fun at all!” The judge hummed.

“I'm inclined to agree with the defence,” he said, nodding. “The witness will refrain from mentioning horrible things in their testimony.” Apollo looked up at the judge's seat, eyes lidded in bewilderment.

“Couldn't she just not be so cheerful about it instead, Your Honor?” Abruptly something hit the back of Apollo's head; he glared at the woman who had just thrown a Snackoo at him.

“Stop trying to make the trial boring, Justice!”

“Indeed,” agreed His Honor of the Poor Decisions. “Continue with your cheerful testimony, witness!” Was there just something in the water as of late? Other than the arsenic, obviously.

“Well I guess all you need to know about the symptoms is that the victim went through them all,” sighed Ema. “And the autopsy confirmed arsenic in the bloodstream, but not in the kidneys, which means the victim was killed in a single attack.”

“Hold it, detective,” piped up Apollo. “What sort of time frame-” he was cut off by a Snackoo flung at his face. He spat out a few crumbs that had managed to land in his mouth. “What the hell was that for?!” Ema folded her arms and narrowed her eyes at him.

“We had a deal, Justice,” she said harshly.

“Uh... we did?”

“Yes. We did. Would you like to try addressing me again?”

“Wha- Oh.” She hadn't forgotten like he'd hoped. “I, uh, don't know what you mean, detect- ow.” He needed to work on his bluffing, huh.

“I have a witness who can confirm you gave your word, Justice.”

“That... uh...”

“Mr Justice!” the judge exclaimed in a scandalised voice. “Are you breaking a promise?!” The urge for Apollo to just lay his face down on the bench in defeat was really starting to get to him. Keep the scream inside, Justice. Just... keep it inside.

“No, Your Honor. Sorry, Your Honor.” He turned to Ema; please let his glare contain enough venom. “Why don't I try asking you again, Your Majesty.” There was a choked snort from across the room. Apollo turned to glare at Debeste too. If the whimper was anything to go by, he was much more intimidated by mean looks than the good detective. “During what period of time could the victim have ingested the poison for him to die right when he did?” Ema tilted her head and chewed on a Snackoo, deep in thought.

“Well,” she munched, “off the top of my head, acute arsenic poisoning kills a human adult somewhere between twenty minutes and an hour after they've ingested it...” She fixed her gaze back on Apollo. “Official time of death is 10:43. So the earliest Canide could've ingested the lethal dose of poison was about twenty to ten.” Apollo smirked.

“Can you add that to your testimony, de- Your Majesty?” Ema raised her eyebrows.

“Sure. So, the victim ingested poison some time after twenty to ten, which is why we know his death was caused by-”

“OBJECTION!” screeched Apollo, finger outstretched. There! That was the foothold he needed! A Snackoo hit his forehead.

“At least let me finish my statement.”

“I'm just stopping you from making more of a fool of yourself in front of the court,” Apollo snapped back, grabbing one of his many sheets of paper and waving it at her. “My client has repeatedly stated to both me and the police that he sold an eclair at ten. And when I asked the precinct last night about any receipts found on the victim's person, guess what I got a copy of!” He tapped the bottom of the photocopy of the Kitaki Bakery receipt, right where there was a little timestamp. “The supposed murder weapon was not given to Mr Canide until ten past ten! That's a good half an hour beforehand in which he could've been poisoned!” Gasps arose from the gallery. Apollo kept shouting over them, “The defence proposes that the victim wasn't poisoned by the defendant's eclair at all! In fact, he was a dead man walking by the time he bought that fateful pastry!”

“Objection!” cut Debeste's voice through the courtroom. The gallery quietened. The prosecutor took a deep breath, and spread his arms apart, and began to wave his baton again. One, two, three, one, two, three; okay, that was getting really distracting. “Perhaps your smoke and mirrors works elsewhere, Mr Justice, but here it's just setting off alarm bells.” With a flourish, Debeste pointed with his baton, stance as if he were fencing. “Even if, somehow, the victim was already poisoned, the defendant had no way of knowing that. So giving him an eclair filled with arsenic was still undoubtedly an attempt on his life!” Apollo's breath stuck in his throat a bit. “Unless, of course, the defence is trying to reduce their client's sentence from actual murder to only attempted murder.” Debeste looked suspiciously like Mikeko did right before she pushed Apollo's files off the coffee table. Apollo turned his head quickly towards Big Wins, silent in his chair; Big Wins slowly shook his head.

“The defence is trying to do no such thing,” he said. “Mr Kitaki did not poison any eclairs. The one found at the scene is likely an attempt by the real killer to disguise the true cause of death.” With that, he folded his arms and leaned back, making sure he was looking down his nose at the prosecution as best he could. “And clearly they outsmarted the investigation, hm?” Debeste, having lowered his baton to play with it between both hands, jerked suddenly, baton flying up to hit him in the face; Apollo could see a nasty red stripe between to form already. Well, it was probably about time the prosecution was the one physically injured.

A Snackoo batted one of Apollo's hair horns down into his eyes. “How about you hold it right there, Justice.” Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Apollo turned to Ema. “You don't get to insult us if you can't do any better. Do you even know your 'real killers''s motive to do all that?” Ah, Detective Skye, master of the implied air quotes.

“No,” Apollo said with a shrug. “Not yet, anyway.” Ema chuckled, and popped a snack into her mouth.

“Thought so. In that case-”

“But judging by the way this trial's been going so far, I shouldn't need one.” Both Debeste and Ema were looking at him as if he'd gone mad.

“Mr Justice,” grumbled the judge. “A motive is most certainly required for me to hand down a verdict.” Apollo just kept smiling.

“That's unfortunate then, because unless I'm mistaken, the prosecution has failed to even bring the topic up.” He spotted Debeste shuffle on his feet. Good. The police hadn't worked out why Canide was on the scene either.

“Hm, the defence raises a good point. Prosecutor Debeste, care to offer an explanation?”

“Well, Your Honor,” he started, baton bending between his fingers. “You see, the Kitakis are a known crime fam-”

“Objection!” Apollo cut in. “It has been made well known in this very courthouse that Mr Kitaki is insistent on establishing his family honestly! Why would he risk that to bump off a random stranger?” The noise from the gallery was beginning to escalate again. “When you actually think about it, Mr Kitaki has nothing to gain from killing Mr Canide; his family's reputation is almost certainly being used as a scapegoat by someone else!” The judge banged his gavel down, calling for silence.

“Mr Justice, I am inclined to agree with your reasoning. However. There is still the matter of who you're accusing.” Apollo sighed. “Do you, or do you not have evidence to show the court?”

“I have a witness, Your Honor,” he said evenly. “A witness who knows the victim intimately well; if anyone knows of his enemies, it's her.”

“I... haven't been told about any witnesses showing up,” interrupted Debeste.

“It was an informal arrangement,” Apollo explained. “She should be in the gallery right now.” He craned his neck, eyes raking the benches. “I would like to call the victim's wife, Ms Viola Cadaverini to the stand!” There, movement just at the end of one of the rows.

“H-his wife?!” exclaimed Debeste, looking genuinely shocked. “He was married?!”

Meanwhile, back on the witness stand, Ema was chewing determinedly. “Why does that name ring a bell..?” Apollo could just about hear her mumble to herself.

“Very well,” nodded the judge, bringing down his gavel. “We will take a short recess for this Ms Cadaverini to get herself in order. Court will reconvene in ten minutes.”



Ms Cadaverini looked out at Apollo through hooded eyes, gratefully sitting down in the chair one of the bailiffs had fetched and setting her walking stick across her lap. Were all Family leaders so... ominous? “It's nice to... finally meet you in person, Mr Justice,” she said, voice mousy. “My apologies for being indisposed yesterday. I've no doubt we would have had... a lot to talk about.” With a smile, she took something small and wrapped in foil from the handbag hung from her shoulder. “May I offer you a chocolate as a reparation?”

“Uh, no thanks,” Apollo answered rubbing at his head awkwardly.

“...A shame.” Who knew handing out chocolate could be made into a threat? Ms Cadaverini watched her own hands closely as she unwrapped the sweet. “Now, you wished to question me... about Davide?” Apollo nodded firmly. Until she tripped up and incriminated herself, but she didn't have to know that. With any luck her cousins had told her he was just some idiot who didn't know what he was doing.

“Were you aware of anyone who may've wanted your husband dead?” he asked. Ms Cadaverini smiled into her chest and popped her chocolate into her mouth.

“I'm afraid not,” she said after a moment. “That would be rather too simple, would it not?” Well sometimes simple was good. And meant he didn't have to trip people into confessing to crimes they may or may not have actually committed- don't think about it like that, Justice.

“I suppose so,” Apollo smiled back instead. “In that case, may I ask if Mr Canide had been acting strangely recently? Anything that may have indicated he was scared of something happening to him?” Ms Cadaverini giggled, hand brought up to cover her mouth.

“I can't answer both of those questions at once, Mr Justice,” she said softly. “He could be... so paranoid at times.” No shit. Living with her would make anyone paranoid. “So... perhaps he was worried about his death... but that must have started long ago.” Apollo huffed and bit his lip in thought. Okay. Dead end there. Literally.

Wait a second. The Kitakis were a known crime family. And Canide was a coward?

“Objection!” he called trying not to let his face split too much into a grin. “Why would Mr Canide go to the Kitaki Bakery, witness?” Ms Cadaverini tilted her head in silent question, blinking a few times for good measure.

“Well, Mr Justice, Davide had... quite the sweet tooth.” Apollo shook his head.

“That's not what I meant, Ms Cadaverini. If he'd visited just any bakery, then there'd be nothing wrong with what you told us. However, as Prosecutor Debeste demonstrated for us earlier, the Kitaki family has far from lost its reputation for criminal activity.” Ms Cadaverini's hands gripped her cane. “If your husband was so paranoid, Ms Cadaverini, why would he eat from a place with that kind of reputation?”

“I... I'm sure he just didn't realise,” she said hesitantly.

“Have you seen the sign for the Kitaki Bakery, Ms Cadaverini?” Apollo smirked. “It's pretty clear who owns it unless he was blind. And I didn't see any note of that in the autopsy report.”

“Well, he wouldn't have a reason to connect them with anything immediately dangerous,” she continued hurriedly.

“Objection, Ms Cadaverini,” Apollo cut in; he leafed through his court record. “Both you and your husband know a man by the name of Tacito Maledo, correct?”

“...Indeed.”

“Then I assume you were both also aware that he was attacked on the thirteenth of August while serving a three year prison sentence.”

“...We were informed, correct.”

“And, of course, the report of the attack named the culprits, Ken and Raiden Kitaki, isn't that correct?”

“You've made your point, Mr Justice,” Ms Cadaverini hissed, face darkening.

“Hold it, Mr Justice!” Debeste suddenly called. “You change your mind a lot, don't you? I succinctly remember you telling us the Kitakis' reputation was ill deserved! And yet these two men attacked a fellow prisoner? These two points go together about as well as choc-chips and cheese!”

“Chocolate cheesecake is a thing, you know,” Apollo snarked. “But perhaps I should let my client explain, since he understands his own family's politics better than the rest of us.” He looked expectantly at Big Wins.

“The culprits have been reprimanded,” he said gruffly. “Should they attempt such actions again, they have been told they will be disowned.” That was... kinda harsh, but okay.

“See?” Apollo said cheerily. “Now, while the victim would have had his doubts, we in the court know that Winfred Kitaki doesn't share the mindset of the attackers. Unless, of course, the prosecution wishes to suggest that someone is a murderer just because a relative of theirs attacked someone.” There was a strangled yelp as Debeste's baton flicked him disturbingly close to his eye.

“N-no, not at all!” Debeste stuttered, baton swishing back and forth in two-time. Apollo narrowed his eyes at the man. Why did he suddenly seem so much tenser at that? Ugh, where was Mr Gavin with his information network when Apollo needed it? And why couldn't Debeste stop fidgeting for just a second?! Apollo slammed his fists down.

“Then, witness, please tell us why your husband went to buy a pastry from a baker who by all logic should have scared him out of his mind!” Ms Cadaverini didn't answer at first, instead taking another chocolate from her handbag and quietly unwrapping it. Apollo hammered his fists on the bench again. “WITNESS.” Ms Cadaverini's face twitched and she touched her left ear.

“You are... very loud, Mr Justice,” she said. Apollo refused to budge. “Ah, yes, I remember now. He was told to go there.”

“By who?” Apollo prodded when she fell into a contemplative silence over her chocolate.

“I don't recall.” Apollo grit his teeth.

“Well do you recall when he was told to go?”

“Not particularly, no.” She sighed distantly. “Mr Justice, I am unaware of anyone marching up to his door with a poisoned syringe and dragging him along to be a part of some... strange scheme. Perhaps... you should look for the culprit not shrouded in mist. The defendant's chair... may be a suitable place to start.” Apollo glowered, brain working overtime.

Hold on a damn second! “What was that about a poisoned syringe?” he asked, leaning forwards eagerly. Ms Cadaverini blinked at him.

“It was used to poison the eclair, was it not?” she said. Gotcha. Across the room, something was dawning on Debeste's face.

“How did you know a syringe was used, witness?” demanded Apollo. “None of us have mentioned anything about a poisoned syringe, after all.” Ms Cadaverini again clutched tightly at her walking stick and said nothing.

“Ms Cadaverini,” said Debeste sternly. “Please answer the question. We definitely didn't talk about the syringe in here.”

“Indeed,” chimed in the judge. “I didn't even realise a syringe was involved until now!” It was in the evidence list though...

“I remember now,” Ms Cadaverini hummed to herself.

“How convenient,” Apollo muttered under his breath.

“Of course... I do apologise for my slow memory,” she continued; Apollo wasn't entirely sure whether he'd been heard or not. “An old head injury of mine... can make things difficult.”

“Oh, that's understandable!” said the judge, smiling warmly at the witness. “We all have our reasons for memory loss.”

“I'm glad... you understand, sir.”

“Ms Cadaverini,” jumped in Debeste again. “Please inject your enthusiasm into telling us about that syringe.” Dammit. Apparently they weren't quite out of pun territory yet.

“I was getting there, Mr... Debeste,” she said coldy. “A friend of mine must've mentioned it. She had wandered past the crime scene on her way to visit me, and told me then about what she'd seen.”

“You had a lot of visitors yesterday, then?” asked Apollo innocuously. “Because I actually met with a couple: Carmen and Mercedes, your cousins?”

“Second cousins,” she corrected. “Yes... one of them told me.”

“Really?” said Apollo in mock awe. “It's amazing either of them caught what all the fuss was about when they came to see you! Considering they drove. And the road Kitaki Bakery is on was closed while the investigation took place.” Again, Ms Cadaverini gripped her cane, and Apollo heard the wood of it crack. All the while, her face barely changed.

“Perhaps it's them you should be asking then,” she said bitterly. “I can only repeat what I heard, after all.” Well just see about- Oh crap. Evidence required. Apollo made for his phone, the recording from yesterday still on it, before remembering Viola Cadaverini hadn't been picked up at all. She was going to slip it all onto someone else, just like that?! But he was sure it had been this Cadaverini, now!

But fine. Client or some other Cadaverini. He still had two options left. But honestly? He'd rather not have to take down the teenager.

“Alright,” he eventually conceded. “In that case, the defence would like to get Carmen Cadaverini to testify in order to corroborate her cousin's recollection of events.” The judge nodded sagely.

“In that case, court is adjourned for today while a subpoena is issued.” But before he could bring down his gavel, there came a shout of,

“Hold it!” Someone in the gallery clambered to the partition behind the prosecutor's bench. “Don't bother, I'm already here.” Apollo looked up, and realised with a sinking heart that Carmen therefore knew all the details she needed to match.

“Oh, well, in that case, I suppose we'll just have to have a recess instead!” And the gavel fell.

 

Chapter Text

“Name and occupation if you please, Ms Witness.”

“Carmen Cadaverini. I'm a, um, freelancer...” Debeste quirked his head at Carmen.

“Freelancer of what exactly?”

“You know,” she said nebulously, waving her hands. “Whatever comes my way.” Then again, how exactly would you normally explain you took part in organised crime?

“Ah so you're one of these newfangled hippies I keep hearing about?” chimed in the judge.

“N-newfangled?!” echoed Apollo in disbelief. Across the room he could see Debeste looking similarly taken aback. You could fit three full Apollo Justice lifetimes in before hippies were news to anyone! ...Wait, surely the judge was old enough to have been a hippy-

Suddenly the courtroom doors clattered open, Detective Skye and another cop surging in. “Okay, hold up right there,” bellowed Ema, marching past a bailiff and making a beeline towards Carmen. “Before you even start talking, put these on. I need to check something.” She handed the witness a pair of pink lensed glasses identical to the ones on her own head.

Sorry?” Carmen gawked, looking at the glasses with something akin to disgust. “Why exactly would I want to put those ugly things on?”

“Ms Cadaverini!” snapped Debeste, pointing at her accusingly with his baton. “Don't insult Detective Skye's fashion sense; it's rude!” Maybe that was why Ema seemed more cheerful lately: basic moral support. Carmen scowled back at him.

“Hey, I swore to tell the truth in here,” she sneered. Ema shoved the glasses at her again, and, face scrunching up all the while, Carmen took them. “I don't see why I have to do this,” she grumbled.

“To hide your eyes, Ms Cadaverini,” Ema said acidly. The cop just trotting up behind her now nodded eagerly, clenched fists almost cartoonishly before him. “Consider this a little experiment in facial recognition.” Carmen tensed, but took a breath again and pushed the tinted glasses up her nose.

“That is definitely her, sir!” said the unnamed cop triumphantly, one fist thumping into his palm. He whipped up a megaphone strapped to him. “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, SIR!!”

“Your Majesty, can you let the court in on what's going on?” asked Apollo. He had no doubt it was incredibly important, and also that the megaphone was incredibly necessary. Wait, no, the other one. He had a lot of doubts about both of these things. Ema smirked at him, crossing her arms.

“I remember why the name 'Cadaverini' sounded so familiar,” she said smugly. “And that means you, Justice, have been hoodwinked by the mob.” Up from the gallery came a trill of scandalised gasps, and Apollo looked at her questioningly.

“I've been hoodwinked by the mob,” he repeated, “by getting the head of the mob to testify in court?”

“Yeah- Wait, you knew she was the one in charge?” Ema just stared. “Are you actually mad, Justice?!” Apollo shrugged.

“A witness is a witness. But that doesn't explain the... glasses thing?” He leaned sceptically on the bench. “Seriously. I have no idea what you're trying to do, other than offend a mobster's sensibilities.” Ema blanched a little at that. What, didn't she realise she was pulling the same stunts here?

“Well,” she said with a clear of her throat. “Since apparently I'm the only one who worked out that just maybe they're going to try and pull the wool over our eyes, I got in the first officer on the scene to provide halfway reliable testimony.” The cop in question was physically, noticeably trembling.

“And now I have suspicions, SIR!” he shouted. Why did Apollo suddenly feel like pushing an imaginary pair of glasses up his nose irritably? “And they're multiplying!”

“In that case,” hummed the judge. “Perhaps we should hear this young man's testimony first... Any objections?”

“I... guess not, Your Honor,” said Apollo. He had to admit, he was lost. He'd had this a minute ago, but alas, his poor trap had been trampled over by police.

“I, for one, am intrigued, Your Honor,” Debeste practically sang from his side. “Name and occupation first, then, Mr Witness!” The officer with the megaphone saluted, the various straps around his neck and shoulders clapping together.

“Mike Meekins, SIR! And I am back on the beat and HAPPY TO BE SO, SIR!” Shout out to everyone Apollo had ever known for putting up with this shit. Maybe not so much the megaphone feedback. That was definitely an evil of its own that he was fairly sure he'd never have to apologise for.

“I must say,” the judge mused, “you look very familiar.”

“I'm told I just have one of those faces, SIR!” Meekins shouted back.

“Okay Mr Meekins,” cut in Debeste. “Why don't you tell us your magnify-cent deductions from putting sunglasses on the other witness?” Was it possible for puns to directly cause death?

“Well, to put it simply... SHE IS THE WITNESS, SIR!!!” Apollo clutched his ears as the megaphone feedback peaked. In contrast, the entire rest of the court fell very, very quiet.

“Um, witness?” Apollo finally piped up. “I'm pretty sure everyone knows that the witness is in fact the witness.” One witness, two witness; damn, the only people in red in here were the lawyers.

“Urk!” Meekins squawked as he leapt backwards. “Wait, no, no, SIR YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. She was wearing sunglasses at the scene! She's... uh... Sorry. I forgot her name.” Apollo blinked, once, twice-

“WAIT, WHAT?” he yelled. “Carmen Cadaverini and Sue de Nymme are the same person?!”

“THAT'S THE ONE, SIR!”

Two Snackoo missiles were abruptly launched at each of them. Apollo ignored it; a sudden flash of something in the corner of his eye had dragged his attention further back to where Carmen still stood, now fiddling with a long strand of hair that ran over her shoulder. He shook his head virulently as the outside of his vision tried to blur and fall away. He wasn't wearing his bracelet; this wasn't supposed to happen anymore!

“Sorry, Ms Cadaverini,” grinned Ema. “But your little fake identity's been found out.”

“Tch,” was Carmen's only response.

“So,” the judge said wondrously, “'Sue de Nymme' was actually a pseudonym?” Ema nodded, then froze. Glaring, she turned to look at Apollo.

“Why didn't we catch that one?” she asked, deadpan. “That's, like, super obvious. What the actual heck.” Apollo looked back at her darkly.

“I don't know,” he said sarcastically. “How about you don't put that question to a lawyer whose legal name is Apollo Justice. So sorry if I don't question a fake sounding name.” Besides, surely it was the police department's fault, not that of some random defence attorney. “But, Ms Cadaverini, I think the court would like to ask you about a bit more than just that syringe, right, Prosecutor Debeste?”

“Huh?” Debeste just looked lost. Looked like Ema hadn't informed him of her schemes. “I mean, uh, yes! Let us keep our wits about us and eye up the witness' eye witness testimony!” But... there weren't subtitles or anything to eye up..? Or at least, not that he could see. “Ms Witness, please tell us about what you saw on the day of the crime.” Carmen huffed and gave the prosecutor a withering look, but eventually walked back to the stand.



“Yesterday morning I went jogging around the area-”

“Hold it!” Apollo shouted immediately. Carmen just rolled her eyes and turned to look at him. “I have the same question for you as I do the victim, Ms Cadaverini; why would you go there willingly?!”

“Looks like you didn't grow any intelligence overnight,” she grunted. “Do I look like a coward to you, sir?”

“...Well-”

“Don't do it,” Debeste stage whispered across the room. “It's supposed to be a rhetorical question to make you look like the bad guy.”

“I worked that out, actually, thanks.” Carmen cleared her throat impatiently. “Go ahead and continue your testimony then, Ms Cadaverini.”

“Anyway, when I reached Kitaki's place I saw Davide sitting on the bench out front with a paper bag.” Reasonable if he was expecting to meet someone there. “So, since I saw a friend, I went over to chat with him a bit.” Apollo grinned.

“Objection!” he yelled. The room paused and again Carmen twisted to look at him, mouth twisted angrily. “Ms Cadaverini, your motives still aren't making sense.”

“I thought we'd moved on from the Kitaki thing?” she grumbled. Apollo just shook his head in disappointment.

“Ms Cadaverini, it looks like you grew amnesia overnight. Because just yesterday you told me you disliked the victim. It certainly didn't seem you'd sit down and chat with him so casually.” Carmen narrowed her eyes and folded her arms challengingly.

“Did I really say that?” she said sarcastically. “Maybe I did grow amnesia overnight, because I don't remember that! Or, or..!” She leaned forwards conspiratorially. “Maybe you grew amnesia overnight! Because I happen to like Davide just fine.” Apollo raised an eyebrow and took his phone out of his pocket, turning it on and opening his sound recordings.

“Mr Justice,” said the judge. “I'm afraid just your word cannot be taken in this case.”

“I didn't think so, Your Honor,” Apollo responded lazily. “That's why I brought evidence.” He skipped through to the correct part of the previous afternoon's investigation and turned the volume up.

Mercedes!” buzzed his phone. As her voice began to replay, the present Carmen's eyes began to grow wide. “Shut. Up. Sure, Davide married our cousin a few months back. Don't ask me why, he's a stupid prick. Now if that was all, go away.” Smugly, Apollo stopped the recording.

“My point about the witness' odd behaviour stands,” he said. True to form, the gallery picked up its babbling; the judge called for silence.

“Objection, Mr Justice!” Debeste called. “I won't allow that as evidence; the witness obviously didn't consent to being recorded!”

“Objection right back, Prosecutor Debeste!” Apollo returned, fists making their way to his bench. “This conversation was held in a public parking lot. There was no reasonable expectation of privacy! This recording is perfectly admissible!” The judge closed his eyes and bowed his head deeply in thought.

“Objection overruled, Prosecutor Debeste,” he finally decided. “Is there more to this recording, Mr Justice?” Apollo nodded firmly. “Then please, submit it to the court.” Good thing Mr Gavin had helped him edit down what was legal in court last night.

Audio file copied onto a flash drive, the bailiff retreated to hand it over to the prosecution.

“So, witness,” continued Apollo again. “Why did you stop and talk to the victim right before his death? Because in case you hadn't noticed, you're the only one at the scene who has a grudge.”

“How dare you!” Carmen interjected. “You're seriously trying to pin this on me now?”

“You did try to evade the police,” Debeste pointed out. “I'm afraid you are looking fairly suspicious.” Apollo smirked. “Though there could be another reason!” he amended quickly.

“I just didn't want to be bothered!” said Carmen insistently. “It's bad enough I had to sit through him puking his innards out; you seriously think I wanted to relive that?!” She was leaning forwards now, knuckles white against the stand. Suddenly she relaxed and stood back straight. “I... We needed to talk business, that's all.

“Yeah, we were talking business. He started to eat the eclair he'd bought, but he said it tasted a bit bitter so he stopped. I guess he must've tasted the poison in it.”

“OBJECTION!!!” Carmen jumped, the hair around her finger coming loose and smacking back against her shoulder. Apollo blinked and looked around in shock. Ema stormed to her feet from her seat a way behind the defendant's. “Arsenic is flavourless!” She sat down again.

“Erm, was that all?” asked the judge, looking a little shell shocked.

“I felt it was important information,” replied Ema, remaining seated this time.

“Well it was bitter!” insisted Carmen. “Like someone had put burnt grass in it or something!”

“Perhaps you are referring to the green tea powder we flavour that type of eclair with,” said Big Wins, unexpectedly entering the fray. “The savoury notes of the pastry balance out the sweet cream.”

“Who the hell puts tea in an eclair?” squawked Carmen. “It's gross enough as a drink! Don't just go around shoving it in random people's food without their consent!”

“Well as long as you make the ingredients known to the customer,” Apollo interrupted nervously, “then it's perfectly reasonable. But, uh, Ms Cadaverini?” He chuckled to himself. “Maybe you didn't notice while going off on your tirade against tea but... With what we know so far, you should be dead.” Carmen blinked silently.

“I should be what now?”

“If you ate enough of an eclair pumped full of arsenic to notice it tastes of tea, then you should be dead.” Carmen tensed, eyes frozen wide. Apollo smiled. “You don't look very dead, Ms Cadaverini.”

“That... ah...” He could make out a drop of sweat trickling down the side of her face.

“Mr Justice, it's possible the witness has just knows the taste of a Kitaki Bakery green tea eclair from somewhere else,” argued Debeste. Apollo raised his eyebrows and looked between the witness stand and prosecutor's bench.

“With all due respect, Prosecutor Debeste, the evidence is right in front of you. Surely you can see the witness' sudden change in composure?” Please. Surely common sense wasn't dead yet.

“Wh-what change in composure?” stumbled Carmen, hair tightly coiled once again around her finger. Apollo leaned on the bench, fist propping up his head, and stared at her.

“Ms Cadaverini,” he said. “It's time to come clean. The one who ate the eclair found at the scene... was you!”

With that, he gave a firm point and the gallery exploded. That never got less satisfying.

“Objection!” Debeste shouted amidst the judge's futile calls for silence. “As you pointed out yourself, Mr Justice, if the witness ate the eclair, she should be dead!”

“Yeah!” joined in Carmen. “Good to know at least someone in here has some sort of brain!” Well... that just meant she didn't eat a poisoned eclair.

And that meant that 'not guilty' verdict was in reach!

“I remember what I said, Prosecutor Debeste,” said Apollo, trying to keep his excitement from bubbling over. So close! “I said the witness would be dead if she ate an eclair filled with arsenic.”

“And the one at the scene had-”

“I know it's filled with arsenic now,” he continued. “But the question is, when did it get there?”

“Well obviously,” sighed Debeste, fiddling with his baton, “it was injected by the defendant before he gave it to the victim.”

“But by the time the witness tasted it,” Apollo jumped on, “it would be deadly, and we wouldn't have any witnesses at all. So if it was injected with poison in the bakery, why does the witness know what it tasted like?”

“I just had one... last week!” said Carmen, sweating harder now. “And it was gross! If I knew that was what Davide had ordered, I would've stopped him eating any of it!”

“...May I say something?” came the low voice of Winfred Kitaki. “About the green tea eclairs?” Apollo nodded. “Truthfully, we've sold very few. It seems the local market finds little appeal in the idea.” That little bubble known as hope began to grow in Apollo's chest. “I think there have been maybe... five we have sold since introducing them a month ago. And I am certain that the one I sold yesterday has been the only one in at least a fortnight.” He adjusted his stature slightly, managing to look both humble and proud, all while his eyes were still cast in shadow. “The receipts are, of course, still on record, should you need proof more than my word.”

Meanwhile, Carmen's arm was shaking, hair pulled taut over her shoulder. “Th-that... You can't take his word for it; he's a criminal!” Said the pot to the tea kettle.

“I think,” mused Debeste, “Ms Cadaverini is correct in this case. Your Honor, may we have a recess so the police can retrieve these receipts?”

“I believe that would be wise,” the judge said. “Defence?”

“No objections, Your Honor,” Apollo replied, staring down Carmen. She flinched. “The verdict will be the same, whether the witness insists on wasting the courts time or surrenders on her own terms.” Carmen looked away, hair finally falling slack and just before the gavel sounded,

“Fine. I'll confess.”

The gavel had to sound anyway, but was drowned out by the excitable crowd.



“You'll just try to pin something on me if I don't come clean so, here you go, my real eye witness testimony.

“Davide and I, we had a plan, you see. After Maledo got attacked... well it was about time to restart our shit with the Kitakis.” Knew it. “So he was supposed to buy something from Big Wins, and I would come over and poison it, and then I'd step in and play the model citizen by stopping him from eating it and filing a police report.”

“So this was a plan to frame Mr Kitaki?” Apollo asked.

“What, and you think anything else would've worked?” she snapped back. “Oh, sure, he makes public appearances and all that about how he's all on the level now, but the moment his people attacked mine he wiggled them all out scot-free. Hate to break it to you, kid, but words mean eff all to people like us; he's as dirty now as he was a year ago.”

Apollo shook his head sullenly. “None of that is good reason to kill somebody-”

“That wasn't part of the plan!” she cut in. “I swear, I don't know why Davide died! He just... collapsed and started heaving all over the floor before he'd even got the eclair out! I called an ambulance but...

“Well I suppose we all know how that worked out.” Carmen laughed bitterly. “But it wasn't like I could go all that way and not keep it pinned on Kitaki, especially after he managed to do it for real. So I ate some of that disgusting eclair and filled the rest with arsenic, then I chucked the empty syringe into the trash round the back.

“So yeah, I poisoned the eclair. Sue me. That doesn't mean I poisoned Davide!”

Apollo cleared his throat. “Actually, Ms Cadaverini, I think you'll find you're the only person who could've. Prosecutor Debeste?” The man looked up, a dejected look on his face. Looks like he knew where this was going. “I was told that, other than the syringe, no trace of arsenic was found at the scene. Is that correct?”

“Yes,” Debeste sighed. “Nothing in the area, nothing on either the victim or the defendant.”

“...You're not...”

“And nothing else that would tie Mr Kitaki to the crime?”

“No.”

“Well in that case,” Apollo continued, relaxing into a more confident stance, “there was only one way for traces of the real murder weapon to leave the scene: alongside the only witness, the 'jogger', 'Sue de Nymme'. You already admitted you brought poison to the scene, Ms Cadaverini. It's time to fess up to the rest of your crime!”

“But I didn't!” Carmen howled. “I only even handled the syringe! I didn't give Davide anything, he just died in front of me! Why the actual hell do you think I'd want any of this!”

“It would have made Mr Kitaki's situation much worse,” shrugged Apollo. “And you found Canide's life to be suitable collateral.” Not exactly a pleasant thought, but hey, gangsters.

“I said I didn't like the guy; I didn't want him dead! Lord above, what the hell sort of person do you think I am?!”

“In the words of your sister? You're a Ms Cadaverini, and if I mess with you then...” He formed one hand into a little finger gun and pointed it towards the witness stand. “...Pew.”



It took three bailiffs to remove Carmen Cadaverini from the courtroom and place her under formal arrest.

“One thing,” said the judge gravely, “has been made very clear to me today. I believe I am prepared to hand down my verdict. So if there are no further objections..?” The two lawyers shook their heads in unison. “In that case I find Winfred Kitaki not guilty.”



“It seems you have saved my family once again, Mr Justice,” said Big Wins, back in the defendant's lobby. “The Kitakis remain in your debt.”

“Well, I'm just doing what I get paid to do, I suppose,” Apollo replied, running a hand through his hair. Man, he never knew what to say to his clients after he got them off...

The doors opened again, and sandalled footsteps hurried towards them. Plum Kitaki brushed past Apollo and went right up to her husband, grabbed him by both cheeks and pulled his head down to eye-level. “I'm glad you're alright,” she whispered, and pressed a peck of a kiss to his lips before stepping away again. “Though you really should have been more careful in there,” she continued more sternly, switching her focus back and forth between Big Wins and Apollo. “You're very lucky no one called your bluff about no one buying the green tea eclairs last week.”

“Eh?” exclaimed Apollo.

“I... really don't recall,” said Big Wins, frowning (probably; Apollo couldn't tell for sure with him).

“Hm? Perhaps... that was the day you were taking Wocky to the airport? I definitely remember selling one of the wretched things!”

“Eh?!”

Plum began to laugh, arms shaking along with her stomach. “Oh don't worry, you silly man. It wasn't Cadaverini that bought it, now was it?” But still! The evidence would've backed up Carmen?! Eventually she let out the last of her chuckling with a sigh. “Regardless, thank you Apollo. I'm glad I came to you for help.” Not sure what else to do, Apollo bowed his head in acknowledgement as the two Kitakis took their leave. Well that was... one of the stranger endings to a case of his.



The courthouse bathroom's faucet squeaked in protest as Apollo tried to shut it off again. From the fashion of the prosecutors, you would've thought the justice system had a bit of money to spare on utilities. But perhaps fancy neckwear was just more important than basic hygiene to the higher ups. The restroom door opened and shut, someone with black hair sweeping towards him as he shook his hand dry and tried once more to force the water off. The person kept going, closer and closer, and all of a sudden his arm was grabbed and pushed away from the sinks. He stumbled back, twisting to see what the actual hell this guy thought they were doing.

He recognised that face. His breath caught in his throat as he realised that despite the reddened eyes, this new person was undoubtedly Mercedes Cadaverini. Taking advantage of his surprise, Mercedes shoved him again, and Apollo felt the wall tiles, cool on his back, and Mercedes' fingernails digging into his shoulder where she pinned him.

Fuck you,” she spat, raising one hand and pressing the switch-blade gripped within it up to Apollo's stomach. He froze, taking shallow breaths as the point frayed the fabric of his vest. “How fucking dare you take her away from me!”

“Ms Cadaverini,” Apollo tried to croak out, lifting his hands in a pacifying gesture only to feel her knife dig into his stomach. This... couldn't be happening!

“You fucking set her up, didn't you!” Apollo's eyes flicked around the room. Surely there was an escape route from here! Didn't you!” The corners of his vision were starting to blur from the combination of tears and his own mind trying to grab at her rapidly tensing jaw.

“I don't know what-” His own voice caught, and he cursed how pathetic he must've looked right then. “Please, Ms Cadaverini, th-this isn't worth-” Mercedes' grip tightened somehow further.

“You think I really fucking care?!” she screamed, snot beginning to trickle from her nose. “At least I'll know you'll be fucking dead like you deserve!” She sniffed, eyes burning as she pulled her blade slowly up his stomach to settle threateningly right beneath his sternum. What a way to go, huh. Killed by a teenager in the courthouse restroom. And it was probably going to flood, if no one turned that faucet off. “So this is it, okay! Goodbye forever! Arrivederla, signore!”

Apollo was hardly one to believe in miracles, nor fate, nor even luck if you really pushed him. So he supposed he only had chance to thank for the bathroom door again creaking open, and the white suited detective (if the holster was to be believed) walking in.

“Woah now!” he shouted, arms momentarily flying up in shock before reaching down to grab his pistol. Mercedes spun her head round, neck audibly clicking; Apollo saw his opening. With as much strength as he could muster he swung his unpinned arm down on the elbow of her knife arm. He dived off to the side, out of her grip, wincing all the way down as the end of the blade hadn't quite evacuated the area of his torso and he felt pain scorch across his midriff. She tried to grab at him again but barely missed, and he raced into one of the stalls and slammed its door shut, back against it to keep it held.

“I suggest you drop your knife, little lady,” he heard the detective say evenly. There was another loud sniff, he presumed from Mercedes, and the clatter of metal against ceramic. “Now... why don't you come with me.

“Fuck you,” Mercedes choked out. “Fuck you too Justice. Don't think I'll go forgetting this! You... you messed with the wrong woman!”

But finally, she abetted, and stepped away from her dropped weapon. The bathroom door opened a final time, to let the sound of rushing water out into the corridor, and a gaggle of bailiffs in to assess the damage.



Apollo: This is Apollo's boss. I was informed I could contact you on his behalf. I'm afraid your friend has had rather too much to drink tonight, and is no state to return home on his own. Please collect him from Gavin Law, Vitamin Office Park.

 

Chapter Text

Apollo's head hurt. And his chest was cold. And his pillow was damp.

He opened his eyes, grunting against the bright sunlight coming in through the window; why were the curtains open? Shifting under his duvet, he realised the reason his chest was cold was because he wasn't wearing a shirt. He shot up, wincing as the long scratch across his stomach tugged at itself. Well, he was still wearing boxers, which reduced the chance of... things having happened last night.

Speaking of things, why was he at home? The last thing he remembered was feeling kind of sick in the passenger seat of Mr Gavin's car. Apollo guessed he'd drifted off.

The sound of movement sounded from the other room, and Apollo pre-emptively pulled the cover up to his shoulders to protect whatever modesty he may or may not have had. Instead of the bedroom door opening though, the TV turned on. Silently, Apollo crawled out of bed and fumbled around for a t-shirt to pull on so he could check out the intruder.

The smell of instant coffee hit his nostrils the instant he opened the door. “Oh, 'Pollo, you're up.” Clay sat sprawled on the couch, Mikeko enjoying his pets.

“Clay, what are you doing in my apartment?” Clay looked down at his lap.

“Uh, bothering your cat, mostly,” he answered. Mikeko mewed at him until he started up scratching behind her ears again. Apollo folded his arms.

“Hilariously literal,” he said, deadpan. “Why are you in my apartment, bothering my cat?” Clay continued to look anywhere except at his friend, settling on being unusually engrossed in a TV ad for laundry detergent.

“Just making sure you didn't die of alcohol poisoning in your sleep or anything, you know?”

“Which is why you are in here, and not somewhere you could see me if I was actually dying of alcohol poisoning. That makes total sense.”

“Hey, did you seriously want me watching you sleep?” Clay asked. “Kinda weird, dude. Not into it.” Apollo spluttered.

“I-I'm just saying you'll need a better alibi than that!” he protested. “Otherwise... well, I'm awake now, and I haven't died in my sleep, so you can go home already!” Clay sighed deeply and picked up something from the cushion next to him, holding it up for Apollo to see: his suit vest, now with battle scarring.

“Apollo, can we sit down and talk for a bit?” Cold pooled heavily in Apollo's gut and he strode to the kitchen to get coffee for his headache.

“It's fine, Clay,” he said tersely. “I'll just need to fix it up when I have time.” The couch cushions creaked while Clay got to his feet and followed Apollo.

“Apollo, you get called into work on your day off and the next time I see you you're dead drunk and bandaged up! Do you really expect me not to worry about you after all that?”

“It's just a scratch, Clay.” Mix instant coffee with cold water to prevent scalding the crystals. Wait for kettle to boil. Ignore pulsing in temples. “It's only gauzed up to avoid infection.”

“Apollo, it's two foot long and went through your vest too, what the hell happened?”

“Minor altercation with the culprit's sister,” Apollo said through a yawn. Man, his mouth felt gross right now. “These things happen.”

“'Minor altercation'?” Clay repeated incredulously. “Apollo what sort of 'minor altercation'- Wait, if you only consider this minor, what's been happening at work that puts it into that sort of-”

“Clay.” Apollo glared at him as he finally filled his mug. “I have only just woken up, I am yet to have my morning caffeine dose, and my head feels like it's been sat on by a particularly overweight elephant. Can you just let me be sarcastic in peace, without you getting all paranoid?” He took his coffee and marched back to the couch, some of the drink spilling onto his lap as he sat down too heavily. He hissed in pain. Stupid coffee. Clay's bemused face soon appeared next to his as the man leaned over the back of the couch.

“I'm paranoid now, huh?”

“You stayed at my apartment overnight without my permission just to confront me about my clothes getting slashed.”

“Well I would've loved to actually get your permission to stay overnight, but in case you'd forgotten already, you were totally unconscious because your boss got you drunk again!”

Apollo banged his coffee mug down on the coffee table with a thud. “Clay, for the last damn time, Mr Gavin didn't get me anything! I know it's just so hard to accept I'm actually an autonomous adult who does things under his own free will – which shock of all shocks, sometimes features alcohol! – but I don't know, maybe you could actually try, instead of just assuming everything I do is all because someone else is responsible! Maybe this is just some shitty attempt at coddling me after all my stupid fucking mistakes, but guess what! Treating me like a kid doesn't help anything! It just makes me hate you! So will you get that point through your skull already and quit bothering me!”

Clay was very, very quiet. Mikeko's collar tinkled as she ran to hide in the bathroom. Apollo growled and took a mouthful of coffee. Then coughed and spluttered, it being massively too hot to drink. He banged it back down and stormed back to his room. “Leave any cups you used in the sink. I still need to get to my job, because I am, in fact, a responsible adult who does stuff like that.” The bedroom door slammed shut behind him.



Apollo sprinted along the path from the parking lot, uncomfortable in his rarely worn suit jacket. He had his reasons for favouring the waistcoat. And one of them was the fact he was pretty sure his arms were melting. He almost keeled over the moment he made it inside Gavin Law. “Sorry I'm late, sir!” he croaked, slumping in the general direction of his desk.

“Good afternoon, Justice,” Mr Gavin called back from his office. His door opened. “Were your cat troubles particularly acute today?” Apollo shook his head, panting heavily.

“More friend troubles, sir,” he said. “Like him putting my phone somewhere I wouldn't hear my alarm.” Mr Gavin chuckled good naturedly.

“My, that certainly is quite the predicament. Just make sure it doesn't happen again, hm?” Apollo frowned. “Was there... something else, Justice?”

“Well, I mean... I wasn't expecting you to be so accepting of that excuse, sir,” he admitted. “Usually you'd chew me out over being minutes late, let alone hours.”

“Oh?” Mr Gavin shrugged and shook his head. “I suppose you've merely caught me in a particularly good mood.” He beamed at the still frowning Apollo. “The transcripts for State vs Kitaki came in, and I must say, excellent work.” Apollo finally relaxed into an anxious smile, resisting scuffing his shoe on the floor. “It seems you missed many of your finer points in your retelling over dinner.”

“Ah, well,” Apollo said bashfully. “I guess I got a bit thrown off by the whole... attempted murder... thing.”

“These distractions become less of an issue with time,” sighed Mr Gavin wistfully. “But I believe you're beginning to blossom into a fine young lawyer.” Apollo's face heated up. And it had only just gone back to normal from the rush in! “Though if I may suggest one thing?”

“O-of course, sir!” His boss tapped him on the top of his head with one finger.

“You appear to have sweated out your hair gel. You should go and fix that.” The blood fell right back out of Apollo's face again, and he scurried to the bathroom.



A cup of coffee was placed on Apollo's desk along with a binder from some old case of Mr Gavin's. Apollo gratefully took the cup and turned back to filing the court record in the firm's digital database. His boss, meanwhile flipped the binder open, still on the desk, and searched through it. “Your friend didn't seem too keen on me last night,” Mr Gavin said conversationally, not looking up. “I don't suppose you could apologise to him on my behalf if I interrupted some important event of his?” Apollo paused in his typing. Clay hadn't said anything that suggested that... Hell, he hadn't mentioned anything important going on recently. Usually he was lamenting staying up for upcoming simulations for a good week before they happened.

“How was he acting?” he asked cautiously. And why did he have a bad feeling about this all of a sudden?

“Very coldly, I must say. I don't suppose he glares at everyone like that?” Apollo licked his lips. “And the most curious question: 'did you foist the entire bottle on him again?' I'll admit, I'm not sure quite what he meant by that.”

“I, uh, wouldn't worry about it, sir,” Apollo mumbled. Dammit Clay. Was it that hard to keep the snarky comments inside? He managed it every day! Look at how many clients he'd succeeded at not snarking at! Most of them! “I'll have a word with him.”

“Surely you know not to say that if you don't want someone to worry?” Apollo chuckled along with him, feeling uneasy. “Though I take it to mean I am correct in my assumption that he dislikes me.”

“He just gets a bit overprotective sometimes,” Apollo said. “Since we've known each other since middle school and, well, you know I don't exactly have the largest support network in the world...”

“Mm.”

“Don't get me wrong, it was all great back in high school, both of us protecting each other from bullies, but it's not like we're in high school anymore. We've got separate lives, our own social circles. Maybe it's just a miscommunication issue and he genuinely thinks I hate my job and everything in it. I guess sarcasm doesn't translate so well over text message.”

“I wonder.”

“Oh, sorry, I'm kinda rambling here, huh. We got into a bit of an argument already today-”

“Apollo, may I ask you something?” Apollo halted suddenly. A worried look was plastered across Mr Gavin's face.

“Ask away, sir.”

“When you were in school together, did you excel compared to him?” Apollo furrowed his brow and put his head in his hand, thinking back over the years.

“Let's see... definitely not academically,” he murmured. “There's a reason he's an astronaut and I'm not, and it's nothing to do with acrophobia. In sports, I guess I was a bit fitter than him to begin with, but then everyone else's legs grew bigger and now he can and has bench pressed me.”

“An interesting hobby.”

“Can't recommend it; I'm fairly sure he nearly broke my spine first time round. There's popularity, but we were both outcasts there. Nerds and weirdo immigrant kids don't get much love from cliquey teenagers.

“So no, I don't think I ever excelled in comparison to him,” he concluded, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms over his chest. “Hell, he even officially started training with Gyaxa at the same time I started my internship here!” Not that he hadn't been unofficially with the space centre for like five years by that point, but the paperwork was important.

“Except, of course, you are excelling now.” Apollo scratched at his neck, feeling overly warm.

“I'm glad you think so, sir, but-”

“The general populace would no doubt agree,” Mr Gavin cut in. “After all, how many times have you made the news? Some of your cases have been rather high profile, wouldn't you say?” That was true. Clay kept pointing the stories out, after all. “Whereas I don't believe I've seen the name 'Clay Terran' appear anywhere.”

“Well Gyaxa's pretty hushed up about their stuff ever since that incident six years ago,” Apollo countered.

“But nevertheless, your friend doesn't make headlines.” Eventually, Apollo nodded in reluctant agreement. “So for the first time in your lives, you're exceeding him. It makes sense for him to be jealous, no?”

“Well...” No, what was he thinking?! Clay wasn't like that at all! “Clay's really open about things! He'd just tell me he was jealous, maybe not on purpose, but he wouldn't keep it to himself!” Mr Gavin raised an eyebrow.

“My apologies if I offended you, it just appears to be where the evidence leads. I can't imagine insulting a friend's boss without some degree of ill will.” Apollo grimaced.

“I do see where you're coming from, sir,” he said. “But I respectfully disagree. This is... probably all just some misunderstanding, or a joke going wrong, or something like that.”

“I suppose you do know him better than I.”

“Yeah, so, um, I'll just clear it up with him and it'll be fine.” They were always fine, after all!



Apollo: Hey Clay.

Clay: oh ur out of ur responsible adult job now

Clay: go u

Apollo: Hilarious callback you got there. But I guess since you brought up my responsible adult job let's talk about how I'm trying to keep that responsible adult job.

Apollo: So can you not give the cold shoulder to my boss when you're obviously associated with me? Thanks.

Clay: dude wtf r u talkin about

Apollo: Last night. Obviously. Mr Gavin confronted me today about you being an ass.

Clay: wat do u want me to bend down and kiss his shoes or smth?

Clay: i went in picked u off the couch and got u home

Clay: y would i talk to ur creepy boss more than i had to

Apollo: Oh trust me I'm not asking you to talk to him considering how that worked out. In fact I would MUCH prefer if you just kept all the little words inside.

Clay: ???

Clay: idk what ur asking here

Apollo: In fact I would MUCH PREFER if you didn't make snide comments about him making me drink an entire bottle of wine!

Clay: pollo i have literally no idea wtf ur talking abt??

Clay: i said like nothing to him

Clay: pinky swear

Apollo: Pinky swears do not hold in a court of law Clay. And obviously you DID bring it up because you are the only person I know who brings that ONE time up! You're lucky Mr Gavin didn't understand what you were referring to.

Clay: srsly i didnt say anything like that

Apollo: Well then my boss is damn good at making up things you'd say without being in on the conversation that prompted it. Mr Gavin said after I explained what you said that he didn't even realise I'd drunk that much after the Kitaki trial!

Apollo: *The first Kitaki trial.

Clay: pollo will u gd trust me when i say thats bs!

Apollo: Sure once you admit you antagonised my boss!

Clay: EXCEPT I DIDNT

Clay: DONT U THINK ID BE BRAGGING IF I PUT A SICK BURN DOWN ON THE GUY

Apollo: Considering you know I get pissed when you insult him around me? Yeah actually I can see you NOT openly boasting about it.

Apollo: Look I don't know if it just slipped out because you were tired or whatever. But can you not try to dodge around it and accept you screwed up? Because Mr Gavin may have been in a good mood today but that's not every day and if you make this a pattern I get to face the consequences.

Clay: k i still think this is some sorta witch hunt going on

Clay: but fine sry for not worshipping ur lord and saviour mr gavin

Apollo: That was the most insincere apology I have ever laid eyes on. And I am a lawyer which is saying something.

Clay: ugh

Clay: right were meeting face to face this weekend

Clay: u r going to see for urself that i am telling u the gd truth

Clay: theres other stuff to that i keep tryna tell u but u keep ditching me for the office

Clay: but fine

Clay: everythings just gd fine

 

Chapter Text

“I'm afraid that is absolutely unacceptable, Justice,” Mr Gavin said as Apollo placed the office mail on his desk. Apollo looked at him questioningly. His boss got to his feet and stepped around to his side of the desk. “Your vest,” he said, running two fingers up the line that'd been slashed, now sewn tightly shut with red thread.

“I did the best I could, sir,” Apollo tried to protest.

“I can see that. But nonetheless you look like you've stepped out of a stage production of Oliver Twist. Perhaps we should give you a flat cap to continue the impoverished look.” Apollo shrank back into himself; a cough from Mr Gavin reminded him to turn his eyes back to face him. “Clearly it is unsalvageable; please remove it and do not come in wearing it again.”

“Sir, I don't-”

“You are at least wearing an intact shirt?”

“Yes, sir, but I-”

“Then it will have to suffice for now. Make sure to buy a new vest over the weekend, hm? I pay you more than enough to expect you to look professional.” Apollo guessed he wasn't getting a word in anytime soon. “Maybe this time you'll find something of a less offensive colour...” he trailed under his breath, though loud enough for Apollo to easily hear as he returned to the main office. Of all the... He'd said it looked good on him when he'd first come in wearing it! What, was that just his evil colour-blind twin back then or something?!

Apollo took a deep breath to calm himself as he sat down behind his desk and looked around. Good. No hawk-eyed boss following him out. Quickly he took out his phone.

Apollo: Hey Clay I'm probably only going to be free to meet up tomorrow evening. I don't know how long I'll need to spend looking for a new waistcoat my size. I don't really want to shill out 100 bucks getting something tailored.

Clay: isnt it work hours

Clay: naughty pollo ;)

Apollo: Well Mr Gavin isn't watching right now and doesn't seem to want my company so there.

Clay: :o my petty boy is growin into a petty man

It was at that precise, ironic moment that the door to Mr Gavin's office swung open; Apollo froze, phone on full display while he rested his elbows on the table. A frightened little squeak escaped him.

“Justice,” Mr Gavin said coolly. Apollo's phone continued to buzz.

Clay: but uhhh

Clay: i can help u shop if u want someone to carry bags

Clay: since i bet ur mr gavin wouldnt do THAT

Clay: hed probs break a nail or smth and bitch abt colors or smth all the way

Clay: he seems like a shitty persn to buy stuff with

Clay: hey pollo u there buddy?

Clay: or am i abt to get a huuuuge block of txt bc :( cmon dude

Clay: im goadin u n everything here

With one calm hand, Mr Gavin plucked the phone from Apollo's grasp. Apollo tried to chase it, but it was quickly pulled out of reach. The man looked at the screen, face carefully schooled.

“Do you make a habit of this while I'm not watching over you?” Mr Gavin asked. Apollo gulped; that was the 'irritating witness' voice.

“No, sir.” Mr Gavin scrolled up through his past conversation. “Mr Gavin, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't read through my texts-”

“And I'd appreciate, Apollo, if you didn't betray my trust like this and spend time playing on your phone and shirking your work.” Apollo gritted his teeth in an attempt to stop his face scrunching up like it was really trying to do right now. Mr Gavin tapped a few things and a series of dial tones played through the speakers. Apollo surged to his feet, a refreshed urge to get back his phone; a withering look from Mr Gavin and he sat back down again, shamefaced.

“Yo, 'Pollo?” said Clay, the phone apparently on loudspeaker. “Um, is something up?”

“Clay Terran, correct?” asked Mr Gavin.

“Oh, um, yeah.” There was an awkward, shuffling silence. “Aren't you Apollo's boss? Why... why do you have his phone?” Apollo shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Well, he needed to know how Clay acted around Mr Gavin, right? This was for the best, if you thought about it!

“Well, Mr Terran, considering Apollo's phone is in my office right now, along with Apollo-” Apollo could've sworn he heard a relieved sigh coming from Clay's end of the line. “I don't see what's so unusual about me having access to it, and by extension, you.

“Now, Mr Terran, would you mind explaining something to me?”

“Um, sure, shoot?”

“Why are you texting my subordinate when he, and I assume you also, is supposed to be hard at work?”

“Well he... I mean he texted me first so I-”

“So you encouraged his poor behaviour?”

“Hey, give him a break, will you?” Clay snapped. Apollo watched as his boss' eyebrows raised in almost mocking disbelief. “Maybe if you didn't have him work – what, twelve days straight is it now? – I'd be a little less happy to play along when he finally decided to stick it-”

Clay!” Apollo finally hissed. Clay's voice halted suddenly, and he was left with just Mr Gavin's icy glare for feedback. Hurriedly he folded his hands in his lap and stared intently at them instead.

“Oh, you're there too, 'Pollo?” Apollo swallowed. So if he wasn't there, Clay really would just... So he really had been lying before, huh. Clay Terran was a hundred percent willing to chew out Mr Gavin at his expense, just as long as he went behind his back to do it. Why would he lie about that? Why would he keep doing it? His hands were beginning to blur around the edges.

“It seems Apollo doesn't want to talk right now,” said Mr Gavin. Apollo couldn't tell his tone, and didn't exactly feel like looking up to find out. “Now, just what was it you were trying to tell me?”

Clay didn't respond, instead a beep sounding as he hung up. The phone buzzed with a new message.

“Ah,” commented Mr Gavin. “It appears he'll speak to you tomorrow. Do enjoy that.” He pocketed it.

“Sir, please may I have my phone? I won't use it or-”

“Just like how you were going to take off that unsightly waistcoat of yours?” he asked sweetly. He placed a hand on his shoulder, running his thumb beneath the seam of the armhole. “And yet it seems you were distracted before even managing that.” Yeah, strangely enough, Apollo hadn't been that enthusiastic to strip. “So no, I think I'd rather not take that chance. At this rate I'm wondering if I need to take it off of you myself-”

“It's fine, sir. I can do it just fine on my own.”

“Good, good. I suppose it would raise some uncomfortable questions should a client walk in on us, no?” Apollo joined in with a half hearted chuckle. And right on cue, the office door opened, and Mr Gavin left to leave Apollo feeling hollow.



“Hey,” Clay greeted half heartedly from the other side of the threshold. He quickly sidled in and let Apollo shut the door as the telltale jingle of a sprinting Mikeko approached. True to form, she emitted a soft thud as she face planted into the door. Then she trotted off as if that hadn't happened. “D'you think she'll ever stop trying to do that?”

“When she dies and not a day before,” Apollo muttered, watching as his cat made a beeline to his satchel, haphazardly thrown onto the couch. “There's nothing in there for you, you know. Just boring lawyer stuff.” Mikeko gazed at him with unblinking green eyes as he approached and lifted her away from the potentially fragile paperwork. This just wasn't going to be his week, huh. “Come on, go chew on your mouse or something and don't piss off my boss, 'kay?” Apollo could've sworn Mikeko huffed as she ran off elsewhere. He could also hear Clay shuffling sheepishly over the sound of her collar. “Because I could do without my friends pissing him off, couldn't I.”

“'Pollo, listen-”

“Oh, sure, what's your dumb lie gonna be this time, Clay? How about, 'that wasn't me on the phone, just a robot Dr Blackquill programmed to have my voice'! Or is that not easy enough to debunk?” He spun angrily on one foot. “Or maybe my ears have actually been replaced with magical glow-worms that feed me lies! Who knows?! Surely there must be a good reason you were antagonising my boss less than twenty-four hours after I specifically asked you not to!”

“I wasn't trying to antagonise him!” Clay shouted back at him. “I was trying to stand up for you!”

“Great, so again, less than twenty-four hours after me telling you not to, you decided to come in and white knight for me! Because that makes it so much better!”

White knight?” Clay echoed disbelievingly. “Sorry, you consider that white knighting now? Maybe you should change the name of your job: become a white knight attorney!”

“Have you stopped to consider my clients actually ask for help, instead of telling me repeatedly that they know they fucked up and are completely accepting of that and they'd really rather not be patronised by someone repeatedly denying it to make their boss look bad?!”

“Apollo, open your eyes here! I wasn't the one who called your boss! He called me and started insulting us! He might well have been in full toreador get up and waving a red cape around!”

Apollo crossed his arms and sneered. “Really, so you noticed all of that and still decided to engage? What a font of wisdom you are, Clay.”

“Not all of us are people people,” he huffed, folding his arms too. “I can admit that.”

“Shame you couldn't admit that before you found out I was listening,” Apollo snarked back. “Maybe you would've remembered how to end the call a little sooner.”

“Oh for-”

A soft mew cut between them. Instinctively the two men looked down to the very pissed off looking cat at their feet.

“We being too loud?” Apollo said softly as he bent down to offer conciliatory pets. Mikeko was very easily bribed by said conciliatory pets. “Listen, Clay, I... Look, it's obvious you weren't telling the truth about not snapping at Mr Gavin. I just want an apology, okay?”

“Fine,” Clay sighed, joining him on the floor in the impromptu cat petting party. “I'm sorry about the phone call. I shouldn't have taken the bait and got you in trouble.” He looked seriously into Apollo's face. “But I did not say anything to your boss when picking you up on Wednesday night.” Apollo's mouth twisted. “Apollo, look at me here, does it look like I'm lying to you?”

“I wouldn't know,” murmured Apollo bitterly. “There's no good way of telling when someone is lying to you, is there? Not without evidence, anyway.” He looked away, racking his mind back to everything that seemed too exact from Mr Gavin's account, everything in his theory that fit too well.

Apollo abruptly stood up, grabbing his coat and pulling it on. “Anyway, we should make tracks before we argue past closing time, right?”

“Yeah,” Clay said with a nod. He grasped Mikeko firmly and waddled with her over to her food bowl. “You be good, okay?” he said with a kissy sound. Mikeko poked her tongue out a little ways. Clay gasped. “Apollo, watch out, at this rate I'm gonna steal yo' girl!”

“Clay we both know I give the better ear scritches. She wouldn't give that up.”

“I can learn,” Clay countered indignantly, wagging his finger as he followed his friend out the door. “Soon I will have dozens of cats fawning over me!”

“You certainly have ambitions, Clay, I'll give you that.”



“But yeah, I guess that leads pretty neatly into what I wanted to tell you,” Clay finished, leaning against the bar as the two waited for their drinks. Apollo gestured for him to continue. “I'm off to Florida next month!” he announced with a giddy grin. “The people at NASA agreed to team up with GYAXA, so a bunch of us get to stay there for some special training!”

“Woah,” said Apollo, smiling along. “So you're going; who's off with you?” Clay pursed his lips and tapped one finger on his other palm.

“Well there's me and Sol,” he said, counting off on his fingers arbitrarily, “and I think they did it as all the technicians who weren't on HAT-1? That's what it looked like on the sheet, anyway. I didn't recognise any of the names on there as a part of the original team.” He grinned at Apollo again, letting out a barely contained giggle. Man, he'd really just been sitting on that? Amazing what you could forget about when your friend got stabbed. “They're gonna be sending off a government satellite while we're there and everything so it's actual serious real life experience on the launch process instead of just a bunch of videos and documents and they've got way more equipment to prepare for zero-g since they don't have the same earthquake risks as we're stuck with over here and-” He took a deep breath. “And there's a rumour the actual Aria Knott is helping me and Sol out, literally on the hero list, I am training with legends, 'Pollo! And oh my god, it's so close, I'm actually getting there? It's actually-” The loud electronic trilling of Apollo's phone cut through his excitable diatribe. A few other patrons turned to glare.

Apollo coughed awkwardly and made to stop the damn thing. But his heart sank upon spotting the caller ID: Gavin Law Offices. Clay looked at him expectantly, clearly eager to keep going. “Um, sorry,” said Apollo. Clay's face had already begun to fall. “I'm gonna need to take this.” Hurriedly he pushed his way outside, refusing to look at his friend's reaction. “Hello, sir. This really isn't the best-”

“Justice, thank goodness you picked up.” Mr Gavin's voice was fast and panicked. Apollo almost flinched the phone away from his ear in surprise. “This is an absolute emergency. The Bordeaux case files, the, ah, reference details, I need them urgently!” Apollo ducked out of the way as an obviously tipsy guy slammed the door open next to him.

“Mr Gavin, I don't know what you're talking about, the – ow, watch it! – I don't know about any Bordeaux case.”

“I explicitly remember giving it to you to take a copy of parts of it on Friday. And now any trace of it has gone from the office! Gone! Listen, Justice, if I don't have the information in that file to criminal affairs by ten I don't have a hope in hell of a solid defence!”

“Sir, I really don't know why you're asking me!”

“Because the file isn't at the office, and it isn't with me, so by deduction you must have taken it home with you!” Apollo bit back a growl.

“I don't believe I've taken anything but my own work from the office,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Justice, please. At least for my peace of mind, could you check your bag?”

“I don't have it with me right now; I'm out with a friend.”

“Then get it and check then!” His boss' breathing was broken and shaking. “Justice, I realise I've been harsh on you these past few days; I've been having my own share of problems. But I'm begging you not to take your frustrations out on me now!”

Apollo groaned and rubbed at his eyes. So, which guilt trip did he want to take on today? Twin images of a distraught Mr Gavin and a betrayed Clay were beginning to dance in front of his vision. Why couldn't they just all be on the same page for once? Why did they just keep pulling him around like this? Just... have some nice low stakes. Or no stakes at all.

“Hey, you still out here?” came Clay's voice, far too close to his ear. Apollo whirled around. Clay gave him a strained little smile. “Ha. Glad you didn't completely ditch me.” Apollo grimaced, ending the call and letting his phone drop to his side. A couple of seconds later, it began to ring again. He silenced it entirely.

“Can we go home?” he asked in a small voice. Clay nodded solemnly, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and pulling them together. “I'm sorry.”

“I know.”

“This is all really stupid.”

“Maybe.”

“I'm happy for you, by the way.” Clay huffed and smiled down at the pavement.

“Thanks.” He turned his head upwards, smiling at the light polluted sky staying still as they moved beneath it. “D'you think the bartender's gonna be angry that we didn't pay?”

“Almost certainly. We should never, ever go back there.” Clay chuckled, and they kept walking.



Apollo made straight for his satchel once they'd made it back to his apartment, while Clay greeted Mikeko.

He looked, dismayed at the papers inside: a manilla folder titled Bordeaux, right there, taunting him. This really was his fault after all.

 

Chapter Text

Gavin Law was still locked up when Apollo arrived, ten minutes late. Silently he unlocked the office and went over to his desk. The only sound was his computer fan as he powered it up. He tapped a finger on his desk before stopping himself.

The silence stretched. Apollo typed in his log in details and slouched back in his chair. His new waistcoat was still stiff and uncomfortable in all its boring, charcoal grey glory; there hadn't been any other colours available without several days worth of tailoring. Now it was just making him feel equally grey. ...Grey counted as a feeling, right?

His desktop finally loaded, and he opened his email client. Mr Gavin was off sick? Man, he hadn't even realised that was possible. Hyper aware of the CCTV still running and stopping him going home and making up for lost sleep, Apollo reluctantly straightened and settled down for a very boring day.

Totally alone.



He and Clay kept just missing each other, as per the wonders of being two adults with vastly different jobs. Even with texts rather than having to meet face to face or call each other, there was something stilted that came from the time.

Apollo: Yay lunch break and I am bored.

Apollo: Oh I guess you're still doing space things. Good luck with that.

Apollo: You got your itinerary for Florida yet? :) While I waste away here with a guy who I think was more sweat than man.

Apollo: The handshaking was the worst part.

Clay: YO i have returned

Clay: the tyranny of ponco knows no bounds!!!

Clay: dude

Clay: ?

Clay: aw ur back at work alread y:(

Clay: anyway

Clay: we gotta take our own bedsheets?

Clay: like

Clay: pparently their not providing them which is total bs

Clay: also i need to stock up on toothpaste probs

Clay: faaaaairly sure i dont have 2 weeks left in that tube

Clay: k ive been told im not gonna be leavin here tonite wtf

Clay: ye ok right its some out of state educational thing

Clay: think i just worked out why were goin to florida NOW lol

Clay: some sorta research swap or smth

Clay: but anyway ill be some teenagers cool mentor by tomorrow B)

Clay: be impressed B)))

Apollo: I am very impressed. Or I will be once you actually BECOME the cool mentor.

Apollo: Oh right you're gone now.

Apollo stared at his phone. After Clay's wall of messages he guessed he should probably answer a bit more than that.

This wasn't exactly fair though; he'd actually asked a question for Clay to talk about. Clay just told him stuff. A certain memory from the office was resurfacing as it had done so many times over the past week. Could he really not stand being the successful one? So he ignored Apollo's life completely?

Don't be stupid, Justice. This was Clay's dream; obviously he was just getting overexcited over it.

That may have been the logical conclusion. But it didn't stop the uncomfortable clenching of his stomach whenever he thought about it. He forced it out of his mind. Be happy for your friend, dammit.

Apollo: Are you free to come over some time this weekend? I'm all clear by the looks and the scifi channel keeps saying it's having a 48 hour Star Trek marathon.

Apollo: I don't think they expect anyone to catch all of these things.

Apollo: Just a feeling I'm getting there.



There were times Apollo regretted telling Clay he could use his spare key whenever. One of those time was right now, when he'd just got home from grocery shopping and was untying his shoes just by the front door. Before he'd even managed to react to the noise of his friend in the corridor the door had already swung open hard and batted him over into the bags on the floor.

Clay stepped around in alarm, apologising profusely and loudly and standing in the way as Mikeko sprinted out to greet him...

And darted straight through his legs and out the door.

Apollo shoved himself up, kicking his shoes off behind him, stumbling over his laces. He could hear the bell on Mikeko's collar echoing down the hall, bouncing off the cool linoleum. There! He ran down after her, desperately falling forwards as his feet slipped and slid. His heart seized as his cat made a final leap onto the large push handle on the fire escape door.

It held. Panting, he caught up and grabbed Mikeko around her middle. She kept her paws wrapped around the handle as best she could, mewing indignantly as he pulled.

Apollo stopped, frozen. “You wanna leave that badly, huh,” he whispered. Mikeko didn't react. It made sense, didn't it? She'd been a stray before he took her in. It wasn't like he could ask why she'd ended up climbing through his window in the first place. If all this time she really had been trying to escape, just to be kept trapped inside by him every single time...

Wouldn't that make Apollo a bad person?

He looked again at Mikeko, the strength starting to fade from his arms. No wonder he didn't have many friends if he couldn't even realise a cat didn't want to be with him. Mind made, he balanced Mikeko's weight in one arm and pushed open the fire door.

He stepped out onto the metal staircase. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Apollo bent down and placed Mikeko gently down. She took a couple of steps forward. And as the warm city air blew the sounds of lunch hour traffic over to engulf the two of them, she flicked her tail happily. “Sorry, Mikeko.” Mikeko moved a little again and nosed at the railings, a gust of wind rippling through her fur. Apollo turned away and leaned on the railing too, watching the cars stacking up in the surrounding streets. Textured metal was digging through his socks and his toes were starting to numb from it.

The tinkle of a bell again. Apollo smiled sadly down at Mikeko. “Go ahead,” he said quietly. But she didn't bound towards the steps clinging to the side of the building as he'd expected. Instead she turned and trotted back down the corridor she came from. “You don't have to do that,” he called lamely after her. Without acknowledging her owner she turned the corner, right back into his apartment. “Um.” She hadn't been trying to leave? Did... did she just like the wind or something?

He'd been keeping the windows all closed since he'd taken Mikeko in because, unlike a cat burglar, he knew first-hand she could climb in and out.

Despite himself, Apollo laughed, dragging a hand across his face. He really had that little faith that his cat wouldn't just up and leave him forever? Hell, Mikeko often had funny little ways of showing him what she wanted; maybe she just wanted to prove that all this time.

“'Pollo?!” Clay shouted down the corridor. “She's back!” Apollo sighed. Time to go home, then.

“I know!” he replied. “I saw!” He shut the door behind him, heading straight to the bedroom and unlocking the window.

“Uh, 'Pollo? You sure that's a good idea?” Mikeko had followed Clay into the room too. Apollo heaved the bottom panel up so there was a good foot gap letting the city in. Mikeko promptly hopped onto a spot of the bed that now had a draught blowing over and sat there with her eyes closed.

“I'm sure,” Apollo said firmly.



“You know,” commented Clay, reaching for more popcorn, “it's pretty lucky that even with all the falling about they do, no one ever bashes into a wall or knocks themselves out on a console or something.”

“It probably wouldn't do any harm anyway,” Apollo said back. “Since there is clearly nothing stronger than paper and balsa wood on that ship.”

“You ever knocked into paper at high speeds, 'Pollo? You get some mean paper cuts. Also it's not paper; it's cardboard.”

“Cardboard is literally just thick paper.”

“So's wood, if you're going down that path. Distinctions are important.” Apollo shrugged and reached for the popcorn bowl. His hand came up empty.

“H-how..?” he murmured. That was a full bowl last time he checked! Clay crammed the rest of his popcorn handful into his mouth, still staring at the TV. Well there was how. “Hey, Clay, is there any popcorn flavour you don't want?”

“Nah, anything's good.” Apollo levelled a glare at him. That wasn't a good thing! “My vote goes for sweet though!”

“Fine,” Apollo grumbled, grabbing the bowl and going off to search in one of the plastic bags still on the kitchen counter. There was only sweet microwave popcorn left. When Clay'd knocked him over earlier, Apollo landed on a bottle of soda and burst the damn thing. Now even the butter popcorn was sweet. As was his bread for the week. At least there wasn't anything too expensive in there.

Suddenly his phone began to trill from the coffee table. Clay laughed. “Don't you know you're supposed to put your phone on silent before you watch a-”

He stopped himself very suddenly. Apollo started the microwave off and hurried over to see his friend frowning down at the caller ID. “Again, huh.”

Apollo sighed. Sure enough, it was one of his boss' occasional out of hours calls. Talk about bad luck.

“Apollo, this isn't a coincidence anymore, is it.” Apollo ignored him and reached to answer Mr Gavin.

“It hasn't happened when I've had a weekend to myself. You've just got bad timing.

“Hello, sir!”

“Ah, thank goodness you picked up. You see, I-” A warm, firm grip took ahold of his hand and tugged the phone away from his ear, the voice instantly drowned out by Clay's movements.

“Right, listen up, Gavin, because I have had it-”

“Clay, what the hell do you think you're doing?!” He scrambled over the top of the couch after his phone, only to be pushed at arm's length.

“You think you can just take over my friend's life and walk over him whenever you feel-”

“CLAY!!!” He made another reach, cursing his stature all the while. If he could just get him to drop his arm a bit..!

“Don't think I haven't been paying attention, Gavin,” he continued despite Apollo's struggling. “I know the shit you're trying to pull here, and I swear next time we meet you are going to be sorry you ever tried to mess with him!” He may have a size disadvantage, but winning a fight like this was hardly rocket science. Gritted teeth, Apollo retreated slightly, then with a shout of effort launched himself full force at Clay, slamming into his torso like a particularly ferocious door and sending the both of them crashing to the floor. Apollo's phone skittered away. Apollo crawled after it and pressed the button to end the call. Over in the kitchen, the microwave pinged its completion.

He sighed in relief. He should still be able to undo the damage. From next to him, Clay groaned, “I think you broke my coccyx.” Swiftly pocketing his phone, Apollo got to his feet and stood, arms crossed over Clay.

“Now,” he said frostily, “care to explain why you did that?” Clay blinked up at him.

“Dude, come on, I'm not exactly hiding my motives here.”

“Then you wouldn't mind explaining them, surely.” Apollo noticed Clay shiver minutely. He shook his head to stop himself focussing in on the movement.

“Ugh, fine, in case you really need me to say it again...” He cleared his throat dramatically. “I think. Your boss. Is a bad person. Can you hear the underlining in there? Because there's a lot of it.” Apollo sneered.

“Oh yeah? Where's your evidence?”

“Evi...? Apollo he's interrupted every single get together we've had for like a month because he's getting you in for overtime!”

“Circumstantial,” Apollo countered instantly. “Of the few times he's called me for work related stuff, it's just happened to be mainly when we're together.”

“That just means he's doing it on purpose-”

“Impossible. Amazingly, I don't actually share every detail of my social calendar with Mr Gavin. So there's no way he could know when we're meeting up. As I stated before, it's just a coincidence.”

“Do you want the numbers on just how unlikely it's a coincidence, 'Pollo? Because I know a hell of a lot of people that could do the stats on that.” Apollo huffed.

“Only if you get them to calculate the chance that my boss is telepathic too. Maybe they'll get some breakthrough research out of it. Especially considering it would mean he's putting that telepathy to work specifically to spite you but not, you know, never lose a case in court ever.” Clay rolled his eyes.

“Fine, I'll drop that.” He sat up against the couch, massaging his lower back. “Round two: the alcohol-”

“Overruled.”

“Apollo...”

“We've had this argument already. Aren't you getting bored of trotting it out?” Apollo smirked. “Or is that all you've got?” Clay narrowed his eyes and mumbled under his breath. “Sorry, I didn't catch that.”

“I said, you've started acting like this.” Apollo stared at him.

“What's that supposed to mean?!” And what was with the sudden attitude spike?!

“I mean half the time I actually see you – you know, when that actually happens despite your boss – you're completely miserable, and the other half you're acting like a stuck up prick!”

“What, am I not allowed to be stressed out after a murder case? Or is Mr Gavin somehow responsible for every death in LA now? 'Cause I have to say, that is impressive.”

“It's not just that,” Clay snapped. He was looking increasingly uncomfortable. Maybe he realised he didn't have a leg to stand on. “Ugh, I guess you can't see your own face when work gets brought up either, um... But trust me, you get all on edge whenever he enters the conversation! No way you don't realise that too!”

“Of course I get on edge!” Apollo shouted. “Every time I ever mention Mr Gavin you start off insulting him or belittling me!”

“Belittling?!”

“What else do you call totally writing me off and going behind my back like that?!”

“I'm going behind your back because you're not listening to me!” He pushed himself to his feet furiously. Apollo held his stance.

“I listened the first time! And it was bullshit! What the hell gives you the right to keep pushing?!”

“What do you want from me?! An apology for caring about your well-being?! Me to just let Gavin take what life you have left outside work like some sort of law office vampire?!” Eyes closing, Apollo took a deep breath and looked at his friend once more.

“What I want first, Clay, is for you to answer me one question,” he said, air ringing with the lack of volume. “Were you or were you not trying to goad Mr Gavin into firing me with that phone call.” Clay paused for several seconds, looking aside and chewing his bottom lip.

“Yes,” he finally admitted. “There's other stuff too, but yeah, part of me was trying to force you out.” Apollo nodded.

“Clay?”

“Yeah?”

“Get out of my apartment.”

“...What?”

“You heard me; get out of my apartment. Now.”

“'Pollo, I-”

“Do I need to call the cops to get you chucked out for trespassing? Leave.” Clay swallowed silently and just barely nodded. Without another word he toed into his shoes and shrugged on his jacket. “Leave your spare key here, please.” It was placed softly on the kitchen counter top.

The door shut decisively behind him. With a tired sigh, Apollo rubbed at his temples. His hand came away wet. Oh. How long had he been crying?

Well. He still had things to do. He went and picked up the spare apartment key. “Hey, Mikeko,” he called idly. There was no answer; Mikeko was still lounging on his bed after all. “D'you wanna look after this?” Maybe he shouldn't make jokes like that right now, even to himself.

There was a sudden spike of noise from the TV as it cut to an ad break. Something about mobile networks... Shit, Mr Gavin! He fumbled in his pocket and called back. Mr Gavin picked up on the first ring.

“Ah, I was right about to call you,” he said. Apollo quickly searched for the remote and muted the TV. “I assume from the fact you are calling me that both you and your phone are intact?”

“That we are,” Apollo replied. “I'm... really sorry about Clay, sir.” He sighed. “I think he might've been planning something like this for a while now.”

“That is disturbing.” Mr Gavin's voice took on a warning tone. “I hope you've dealt with him accordingly.”

“He won't do it again, sir.” Mr Gavin made a noise of disapproval. “I mean it, sir; he's gone now!” He chuckled weakly. “You would've heard him interrupt again, right?” Apollo's gut twisted in on itself with every word. Clay had seriously threatened his livelihood by trying to lose him his job and force him out into the world without a good reference, but they'd still been friends for a good decade! But... this was the right thing to do, wasn't it?

“I suppose I should actually ask you, now that I have a chance without Mr Terran interrupting. Would you mind resending your email with the links to those protected cloud files? I fear it might have bounced, and I'd rather not waste away the rest of the afternoon because of something so trivial.”

“Oh, right away, sir.”

“...Justice? Is something else the matter?”

“Oh, no, sir. I'll see you on Monday.”



Apollo murmured his good mornings, and marched straight to his desk and pulled out all the drawers. Damn thing had to still be here somewhere... Ugh, it was probably totally out of battery now. He could've sworn it had a better battery life when he'd bought it!

“Looking for something, Justice?” Mr Gavin asked, holding Apollo's missing phone nonchalantly in one hand. “I know Mondays are difficult for the best of us but I don't believe it's been cause for you to leave important technology at work before.” Apollo smiled gratefully and stepped over to take it: fully charged, presumably thanks to his boss. “It was in the bathroom for some ungodly reason.”

“Probably fell out of my pocket,” said Apollo. “Thanks, sir.”

“Well done for getting in on time without your alarm.”

“Th-thanks, sir.” Apollo rubbed sheepishly at his neck, deciding to omit the fact he'd been so wound up over it that he hadn't managed more than a half hour stress nap anyway. It was fine. He could just replace lost sleep with coffee.



The days that followed were quiet in a way that Apollo wasn't used to. No back and forth texts from Clay, no surprise clients dragging him away from lunch, just him and his inability to get a good night's sleep. “Apollo, you've not touched your coffee, again.” Apollo looked up at his boss in surprise, then at his cup of long cold coffee.

“Sorry, sir,” he mumbled. “Guess I got too engrossed with my work.”

“I wasn't aware you've found such an emergent passion for writing invoices. If only you could've told me earlier, I'd have given you more to do, hm?” Mr Gavin chuckled, then looked concernedly at Apollo when he failed to follow suit.

“Oh,” said Apollo belatedly. “Heh, if only.” He continued to tap despondently at his keyboard. He was too tired for this right now.

“Justice...” Mr Gavin sighed. He moved to crouch beside Apollo, placing a hand on the back of his office chair. “It's apparent there's some long term issue here. I think I deserve to know what's happening, no? Besides, misery is known to love company.”

“I'll get over it,” Apollo insisted. Mr Gavin didn't move. “It's...” He sighed. “After what happened the other week, it's... well, Clay and I haven't exactly been, you know, on good terms. Or, um, speaking terms.”

“Oh my,” Mr Gavin said quietly, hand moving from the chair to rub comforting circles on Apollo's back.

“I mean,” Apollo continued, feeling the floodgates starting to shift, “he hasn't even texted me or anything to say, I don't know, maybe we should meet up so we can talk it out properly? And it's all really weird, because we've never had a big bust up like this and...” He sighed, resting his face in his hands. “I suppose that's on me too, though, right? I... I should call him and apologise too.”

“Whatever for?” asked Mr Gavin, frowning. “He tried to sabotage your career, not the other way around. Unless, of course, you have some malevolent plan that you simply never let on to.”

“That...” Was a good point.

“Don't let people walk over you when they were in the wrong.” Mr Gavin's voice was crisp and clipped, and his hand had stopped awkwardly so his fingers were digging against Apollo's spine. “Surely you've learnt this through the Wrights by now.” Apollo chewed on his lip. It always came back to them. Always. “Even if he claimed to be your closest friend-”

“He is my closest friend.” And wasn't that a miserable situation? If even his best friend unrepentantly hurt him. That left him with who else, Mikeko? Mikeko was great and all, but also a cat who he obviously couldn't understand in the slightest and could not offer support when it turned out his idol was seriously an evidence forger that convinced him to accuse his boss of murder in a court of law. Speaking of his boss... Mr Gavin's gaze felt icy.

“Still?” he commented and fell back to accusatory silence. “So nice to know I'm ranked below a backstabber.” Apollo could've sworn he'd punctuated that with a jab to the vertebrae.

“I don't mean it like that, sir!” he back-pedalled. Was there just going to be a list of people he wasn't allowed to mention at work anymore? “It's just... it would be unprofessional to refer to my boss as my closest friend, right?” Mr Gavin smiled benevolently and began to stroke his back again.

“I understand your concern,” he cooed. “But don't forget I'm here to support you no matter what, Apollo.”

“What, even if I just up and quit? I appreciate the sentiment, sir, but that sort of stuff obviously doesn't hold water.” Just look at all the times Clay had said he'd always encourage him to reach for the metaphorical stars. Look at all the small print that came with that. Mr Gavin had frozen again, now wearing an expression equal parts dismay and anger.

“Apollo... is this your way of telling me...” Hurt coated his voice.

“What? No, sir! I was just speaking hypothetically!” Oh and now he got to comfort his boss. Truly, his life was turning out so well lately!

Though that would imply there was a point when this sort of thing wasn't the case.

What? Obviously there was; this was a dream opportunity when he'd signed up. So what if Mr Gavin was a little touchy. And would rag on Apollo for being the same. That... that was just what one was supposed to expect out of the workplace, right? That was just why it wasn't friendship or anything.

“Ah, that is a relief,” Mr Gavin chuckled. “Please don't scare me like that, Justice.”

“Sorry, sir.” And there he was, apologising again. But this was his mentor, a man who'd given him a chance to prove himself. It was only fair to be a little indebted to him! Even if... half of that could be twisted to talk about Clay and... at least with Clay he'd been able to relax and be happy.

And it was in that moment, in a great wave of disapproving looks and snide comments and two months punishment for a simple panicked action, Apollo realised something; he was fucking miserable.

“Hm, Justice? You're very tense all of a sudden.”

“Uh, muscle spasm, sir.” Mr Gavin sighed.

“Perhaps you should see a doctor about this; it seems to be a recurring problem.”

“Mhm.” He must've been happy here at first. The internship was well paid, Mr Gavin provided all sorts of advice to help him grill witnesses and pass the bar at an excellent age, but still...

Part of him wondered whether this was still all because of Phoenix Wright, who got his hands over seemingly everyone he ever met and forced eggshells under his feet whenever he came up. But that wouldn't be fair, would it. Phoenix Wright hadn't caused Clay or Prosecutor Gavin to vanish from Apollo's life, had he. Phoenix Wright hadn't been the real issue for a long time now.

The real issue had changed. The real issue was the man still pressing against his spine that seemed to repel everyone Apollo ever talked to. The real issue was how hard that man had made it to do anything but continue apologising for someone else's eggshells.

And the real issue was what Apollo was going to do about it, of where he could even go from Gavin Law, what the hell law firm would still hire him if Mr Gavin put a bad word out about him, of how the hell that idea became so easily seated. Okay, that was quite a lot of real issues. But in case, there was one thing that was absolutely certain!

Apollo Justice was breaking out.

 

Chapter Text

When he heard the word 'subterfuge', Apollo had never really pictured sitting his lunch hours out at a local coffee shop on the off chance the guy he needed would walk in. This was what a stakeout was though, right? This was why he hadn't become a detective. Friday marked day three of his investigation but only during office hours because he still needed to get home and feed Mikeko and by then everyone at the prosecutor's office surely would've left and leaving a message would create a scene and...

Apollo hated Mr Gavin's connections sometimes; he couldn't do anything without it getting back to work somehow. But that was just more reason to leave, wasn't it. Apollo checked the time on his phone: lunch break over. So back out of Le Café Americano and back to Gavin Law he went to be greeted with a request for overtime on the weekend, “since you aren't doing anything else, hm?”

More days passed without success. Apollo was about ready to throw caution to the wind and make for the other side of town and claim he got mugged or something which was why he was late back to work. Maybe pulling his first ever sickie would work better...

By the following Thursday Apollo had pretty much accepted that his spy skills were at a whopping level of zero, as Mr Gavin cheerily asked him out to lunch and walked them right to Le Café Americano. Apollo reluctantly sat down as his boss paid and tried not to look too guilty.

“Something on your mind, Justice?” Mr Gavin asked innocently while they ate. “I would've thought you'd be happier to have a hot meal instead of one of your packed lunches.” Trap sighted. He definitely knew about the stakeout. He wondered who'd ratted him out. The staff maybe? Surely the other customers wouldn't be coming here every day.

“Funny story,” Apollo eventually chuckled dismissively. “I've had to come here anyway recently, because my fridge was acting up!” Sure, it was a blatant lie, but it was fine going behind someone's back in this sort of situation, right? Mr Gavin frowned over his glasses.

“Apollo, you should have told me sooner. I can pay you a little extra this month to cover the cost-”

“Ah, don't worry about it, sir!” said Apollo, waving his hands. Would taking money over this count as fraud? Probably. In his heart it would, anyway. “It's just a little thing with the plug; I was going to fix it myself once I had time free, but it didn't work out last weekend...” He trailed off, rubbing anxiously at the back of his neck.

“I see,” Mr Gavin said pensively. “In that case I'll ensure I don't need you over the next few days so you may return to normalcy.”

“Th-thanks, sir.” Pros: he was now pretty much guaranteed a weekend of peace. Cons: the way he worded that, Apollo couldn't help but feel a bit creeped out.



Okay, so other than a message from Mr Gavin, why would Apollo need to speak to Prosecutor Gavin specifically? Mentioning legal stuff would stick out, considering he was known for being attached to the other Gavin... Apollo's thumb hovered over the buttons on his phone, Clay's name blinking in his contact list. Just someone to brainstorm with would help so much.

He shook his head and turned his phone off. No. This was his mission, his fresh start and he was going to do it without meddling.

What, meddling like going to one party's own brother?! What if something had changed when he wasn't listening and this was all some fool's errand anyway and he really had nothing at all and had no way of getting a grip in this city and had to move somewhere completely new and unfamiliar and-

Deep breaths, Justice. No breakdowns in the coffee shop. He put his phone back down on the table and leant his chin in his hand. In his peripheral vision the front door opened and closed to let in a small group of laughing customers. Maybe it would be good to move elsewhere: somewhere with less air pollution perhaps. Or fewer crime families who were worryingly attached to him.

Actually, speaking of crime families, maybe joining the Kitakis would be a good career move!

Apollo never thought he'd ever think that sentence. Even if they didn't shoot people anymore. Ugh, the noisy people who just came in were obviously screwing up his thought process. He looked around to glare half-heartedly, and half choked on his breath. How about that? The moment he gave up, Klavier Gavin just waltzed in. By the looks, Klavier hadn't heard his spluttering because he was still engrossed in his conversation with one Prosecutor Debeste and some woman with long dark hair which Apollo guessed probably wasn't another Cadaverini. Probably. Okay, maybe that case was just starting to mess with him now. The trio suddenly hushed as they paid for their food and turned to find a table. Apollo made eye contact with Klavier.

Klavier froze momentarily, eyes roving left and right. Apollo kept staring. His two companions moved off towards the front of the shop. With a slight nod Apollo gestured to the seat opposite him. Klavier frowned. Apollo pursed his lips and nodded harder at the seat. Klavier looked anxiously at his friends; the woman had noticed he wasn't following and had abandoned Debeste alone to the table. Just before the mystery woman had grabbed Klavier's arm to drag him off, Klavier held up his hand. “Moment mal,” he smiled, shooing her away again and walking over to Apollo's table, seating himself silently. Two of them sat looking over at each other, the coffee shop chatter bubbling around them.

“It's, uh, been a while, huh,” said Apollo unevenly. Okay so apparently the little bits of script he'd had in his head were just going to abandon him. Great.

“It has,” Klavier eventually replied. This was stupidly presumptuous of him, wasn't it? Just waltzing up after like a month of no contact and demand he act as a career advisor or something. Ugh, this was why you're no good at networking, Justice; you pull stunts like this. This was a horrible idea. He was obviously just getting worked up over a few bad vibes at the office and dragging down everyone else because he couldn't be bothered to do his own legwork-

“Herr Justice,” Klavier cut in, snapping Apollo back to the Americano. “It's nice to see you again, but if this isn't going to be a conversation, I have colleagues I actually need to discuss some cases with-” See? Still too green to be on your own, Justice. Can't even time a lunchtime conversation right.

“Aha, I totally get that!” he said instead, waving his hands light-heartedly. Why did he even think Prosecutor Gavin still cared? He didn't have any reason to after how Apollo handled Crescend's case. This was all so very stupid. Klavier raised his eyebrows and gave him an odd looked, starting to stand from the table. “Um..! Wait, Prosecutor Gavin, I...” Well either he cared and would help, or he already hated him. He couldn't burn a bridge that wasn't there, right? “I need a favour!”

Klavier sat down again. “...I'm listening.”

“Right. Yep. Um...” Bridge: not on fire? That was good. Apollo swallowed nervously and dug his gaze into his empty plate. “I guess I'm not sure who else to ask, because it would kind of miss the point if I did, and, well, I guess that's kind of on me, but-”

“Herr Forehead.”

“Right, pointless words, sorry.” He took a deep breath and levelled his gaze at the man across from him. “Do you know any law firms hiring at the moment? Ones that don't have any connection to Mr Gavin, that is. And preferably aren't massively out of state. And-”

“I think I get what you're asking,” said Klavier, thoughtfully looking askew and fingers tapping lightly on the edge of the table. “I take it you've yet to officially resign from Gavin Law?”

“Yeah, I'm... kinda putting that one off.” Klavier nodded. Part of Apollo wondered why he wasn't jumping to his brother's defence; another part thought back to the few conversations he'd seen between the two. Had Apollo really just been that oblivious this entire time?

Klavier remained silent for several moments more. “Does he already know you're planning to leave?”

“I don't think so; I joked about it once, but I think he wrote it off as me making dumb comments like usual.” Klavier's fingers seized for an instant, then started up their steady drum again. “You know,” Apollo chuckled, “if he hadn't reacted so badly I probably wouldn't have seriously considered leaving at all.”

“It's amazing how many people shoot themselves in the foot like that, ja?” There was a far off look in his eyes as his fingers continued to move, slowly slowing, and a smile came onto his face. “Ah, I believe I have a possible solution to your little law office conundrum.”

“Really?”

“I can certainly try, nein? Tja... give me the weekend and I'll meet you back in here on Monday.”

“Not here,” Apollo corrected. “I've, um, kinda been coming here for like two weeks and someone's flagged it up with Mr Gavin.” Klavier blinked at him and pointedly said nothing. Or at least it felt pointed. A fair rebuttal for a blunt admission. “You know my usual bench, right? It's... probably more covert if you stop off there.” Realising how rude that could sound, “I mean, if that's okay with you, obviously! If you don't pass there anymore I totally get that!”

Klavier leaned over the table, grinning wildly, and prodded Apollo's nose with one finger. Apollo's mouth snapped shut. “It's no problem, Herr Forehead.”

“There are better ways of interrupting people than poking them in the face, you know.” Seriously, how many times had he done this now? Klavier laughed heartily, shaking his head.

“Lunchtime, Monday, Vitamin Square. I look forward to our jam session.”

As he stood, something small and silver on his lapel caught the light: a tiny badge in the shape of an acoustic guitar with a strangely darkened soundhole. Apollo was about to ask after it, but before he could, one of the staff stopped at his table to ask if he was finished with his empty crockery. So instead, he watched as Klavier returned to a conversation with Debeste and the mystery woman. The mystery woman was waggling a fry at them, which wouldn't be odd except for the fact that Apollo was pretty certain they didn't sell fries at the Americano. Where did she even get those?

He pushed the idle questions from his mind and slipped his phone into his pocket, ready to leave. On the way out, a certain mocking voice caught his ear. “Maybe he decided the vest was too gauche.” The voice chuckled to himself; Apollo turned away from the door and walked coolly over to the table.

“Ah, so you noticed my change of attire, Prosecutor Debeste,” he smiled, arms crossed, looking down at the seated prosecutor. “It's a shame really. I wouldn't have to have changed at all if only somebody had done their job and let the bailiffs know that mobsters may bring weapons to a mob trial.” The colour drained from Debeste's face as he caught on to Apollo's implications. “But I suppose that sort of reasoning is just too much to expect from the police these days.”

“Herr Justice,” Klavier cut in seriously. “You should be getting back to work soon, shouldn't you?” Apollo caught onto his implications a fair bit quicker. Shame faced, he nodded and made for the exit. Bridge: wobbly. Idiot.

“See what I mean now?” Debeste hissed.

“Wow, that was your trial that knife woman was in for?” said the mystery woman mid-fry.

The door shut on Le Café Americano.



As promised, the weekend was quiet enough for Apollo to fix the non-existent problem with his fridge. The scifi channel was marathoning every Godzilla movie it could get the rights to. He'd dug out an old electric fan he'd bought that one time the AC was out for the whole apartment block, so Mikeko could join him on the couch.

Apollo: Sorry I didn't listen to you about Mr Gavin.

The weekend passed with no response from Clay.



Apollo examined the unusual envelope as he brought in the morning mail for Gavin Law. Bright yellow, handwritten address, commemorative stamp: a far cry from the usual white printed stuff that usually ended up in the box. Maybe a greetings card? 'Drew Misham' could be some foreign stationery company used by fancy people, if the artsy signature on the back meant anything.

“Are you celebrating something, sir?” he asked casually, handing the stack of letters over to his boss.

“Hm?” Apollo gestured towards the yellow envelope. Mr Gavin took in the front of it, and all in an annoying surge Apollo's eyes felt about to jump clean out of his head. While he blinked away the dizzying spots he caught Mr Gavin shake his head and adjust his glasses. “Ah, not myself, no. I assume this is merely an invite to some event.”

“Seems kinda weird to send it to your work rather than your house.”

“I am not in the habit of giving my home address to anyone who asks for it, Apollo,” he snapped back. Someone was especially tetchy today... For a cold moment Apollo wondered if he'd found out somehow that he was planning on leaving the office, before writing that one off as seriously, getting paranoid now, Justice. Unless... what if Prosecutor Gavin had said something by accident again? “Was there something else you wished to talk to me about, Justice?” Shoot, he was spacing!

“Oh, uh, no! I'll just get back to work, sir!” Before he could rush off, Mr Gavin held up a finger and rummaged in a desk drawer. He handed over a folder.

“Please put this back and find me State vs Nimh.”

“Right away, sir.” And so began a very ordinary morning for Apollo, despite the little pit of niggling unease in his gut.



Prosecutor Gavin was already lounging on the bench in Vitamin Square by the time Apollo got there, sunglasses on, either staring at the sky or napping, hard to tell.

“Ach, here at last, Herr Forehead.”

“Do I want to know how long you've been here already?” Apollo asked sheepishly, taking a seat beside him.

“I hardly noticed, I was so absorbed by the beautiful scenery.” Apollo tilted his head up. The cypress trees were still cypress trees, the sky was still sky, and the office park was still full of boring buildings full of boring people.

“Riiiight, sorry I couldn't be more specific on timing; clients don't know what a lunch hour is half the time, so I couldn't know-”

“Don't worry about it,” Klavier said shortly. Apollo clapped his mouth shut and tucked his hands in his lap. Apparently there was more than one irritable individual in the Gavin family today. Klavier sighed and finally slipped off his sunglasses, tucking one arm into his shirt to sling them over his lapel and...

“Ah, I didn't get to ask on Friday,” Apollo said conversationally, pointing to the tiny silver guitar. “That's new, isn't it? It looks pretty nice.” Klavier's motions stuttered before changing to comb one hand through his hair.

“Ach... ja, it's rather a nice gift from a friend, isn't it,” he stumbled airily. Apollo narrowed his eyes at the man. He was fairly sure he could see his hand shaking. And more importantly, getting worse.

“Um... Prosecutor Gavin, are you okay?” He wasn't going to keel over from arsenic poisoning, was he? Oh shit, why did he have to even think of that right now?! “Prosecutor Gavin, if you-”

“No, I can't do this,” he said suddenly. Wind falling from his sails, he unpinned the badge from his shirt and turned it over. There was a tiny black plastic switch on the other side: 'on', and now 'off'.

“Does your friend give everyone accessories with power switches?” Apollo asked. Klavier grimaced and said nothing. “I'm guessing this isn't one of those things you see at Christmas office parties that light up and squeal songs at you. Just considering it's not doing either of those things right now.”

“No, no it isn't,” said Klavier glumly. Damn, Apollo thought he could expect a chuckle at least from that. “It's a bug.”

“Looks like a guitar to me.” Klavier levelled a flat look at him. “Fine, sorry, go ahead and tell me why you're carrying around a spying device, and why you showed up to talk to me with it on.” He sighed.

“Would you believe that this isn't about you?” Apollo blinked. He'd heard those exact words before. And he had a sinking feeling about why Prosecutor Gavin was still willing to talk to him.

“Let me guess, it's about one Kristoph Gavin, you're very concerned about him sending me here, and your favourite colour's blue.” Klavier just looked confused.

“You were on the right track until that last one. I'm not entirely sure where that came from.” Apollo chuckled bitterly to himself.

“Can I ask you something, Gavin?”

“...Alright.”

“When did you start working with Phoenix Wright?” The man tensed, hurriedly looking away and playing with his hair, but Apollo knew he'd hit the mark. “Thanks for at least not outright calling me a conduit, by the way; that kinda stung last time round. But people spying on me really is getting old, you know?”

“I... wasn't aware you were being spied on before.”

“No. I guess he wouldn't tell you about using his daughter to get to me to get to Mr Gavin. Not if he was trying to get you on his side. Aren't there just so many lovely people orchestrating this whole mess?” Klavier gave an almost-smirk in return. “I don't even know if I should be angry at this point, you know? I don't know what you or him are after, so it's pretty likely you wouldn't even get it from talking to me.”

“Any evidence-”

“All I have to offer would be testimony, which I could give in court.” Klavier looked like he was about to try to say something again. Rolling his eyes, Apollo continued, “Which you were worried I would refuse to do, obviously, so you went through all the bother of trying to record it on your little toy and then gave up. I don't know why you got so wound up about that, by the way. We're in a public space; the recording is perfectly legal.” Klavier's brow furrowed.

“The legality of it wasn't the issue at hand,” he huffed. “I'd rather not record someone without their consent regardless of any laws that may or may not exist!” How about Apollo just take the executive action to not say anything about his own secret microphone adventures?

Tutting, Apollo heaved himself to his feet. “Well, since you're apparently here to question me over the same shit you should know better than me, being brother of the accused and all, and not help me out like I thought you were going to, I'm just gonna go now, okay? Sorry for trusting you and all. Clearly I need to work on that.” He flung one hand up in a casual wave and began to walk away. “Later.”

“Apollo, I didn't say I wasn't helping you.” Apollo stopped where he stood and slowly turned. He raised a single eyebrow. Klavier dug into his pocket and took out a business card, presenting it to him. Hesitantly Apollo walked back and sat down next to him to read it. Edgeworth Law Offices? As in Edgeworth-famous-for-palling-around-with-Phoenix-Wright? He looked up to see Klavier watching him carefully. “Before you ask, no, this has nothing to do with Herr Wright. The justice system can just be strangely insular sometimes.” Yeah, Apollo felt that. Stupid nepotistic hiring practices accepted as an industry standard... Again he looked down at the little card, an extra mobile number scrawled on the back.

“I still can't help you, you know,” he said finally.

“That's fine.”

“Why are you just handing this over then? It's not like you've got anything else over me!” Klavier tilted his head, frowning.

“I was under the impression this was a favour, not a bribe,” he said. Well a lot of bribes started out as favours!

“Well, yeah, but, even then...” This was stupid. Gavin obviously had something in mind. “You're still insisting on being all generous even after I was rude to you?” He crossed his arms. Take that, Gavin! Time to fess up!

Klavier did not appear about to fess up. Instead he paused, before bending over and laughing. “Herr Forehead, my professions require me to talk with criminals and paparazzi regularly. You'll have to try harder than that, ja?” Apollo clenched his jaw and settled on staring a hole through the ground. “As far as I know, you're having as schrecklich a day as I am...” he continued to mutter under his breath. Guessing that was bad, based on the tone.

“Unless the worst thing that happened to you today was a pen running out of ink... no, you're just not being harsh enough on me.” Seriously, some sort of feedback here. Anything.

“I suppose a cold case coming back to haunt me again does sound worse. Though I've no doubt your pen situation is a nasty one, ja?” Nein, actually.

“Overcomplicated murder case then?”

“When is it ever not?” Klavier snorted. Then he sobered. “Tja, I suppose mine wouldn't be if everyone would stop falsifying evidence long enough to testify.” Apollo thought back. Ah, yeah, Gavin was involved with Phoenix Wright's forgery stunt – the first one, anyway. With his habit of appearing out of nowhere, chances are it was about him somehow.

“These things might be less likely to come bite you in the ass if you don't voluntarily seek out the guy who started them,” he said, tucking his newfound job opportunity away for now and crossing his arms over his chest. Klavier shook his head.

“Herr Wright pulled off many improbable things in his time, but poisoning a man he no longer should've been able to contact crosses a certain line.” Apollo grimaced sympathetically. “So no, I believe of all the players, he's one of two who definitely aren't involved.”

“Two?”

“Dead people can't plot murder, Herr Forehead.” Apollo looked around at him incredulously.

“You're really saying that when you know Phoenix Wright is connected to it all? You know, the guy who kinda notably defended a case where he proved one of the witnesses was literally already dead and also guilty of attempted murder?!”

“Herr Forehead, I'm sure there's a much more reasonable explanation to that trial than someone channelling a ghost, and really should be revisited by the Bar Association.” Annoyed, Apollo began to respond, then promptly realised he didn't actually have a rebuttal without revealing horrifying amounts of personal information. He settled for an immature huff instead. “Considering how tied up I've been in that old case, it's worrying, really. But there are better sides to a pattern continuing after you look at it, too. Like knowing it exists. There's comfort in that too, you know?”

“Yeah, you lost me a while back.” Klavier half-frowned, half-pouted at him. “Hey, don't blame me for not being on the magical Gavin wavelength of poetic nothingness. It's really confusing to us mere mortals, you know?” Now it was Klavier's turn to respond with a huff.

“To put it in a way for mortals to understand...” he pondered. “Did I ever officially tell you why I'm back here after a seven year absence?” Apollo hummed and relaxed his finger into his forehead while he thought back. It would've been a long time ago now.

“Well in court you said something about... wanting to see your brother's protégée in action, I think.” Klavier smirked and made ready to shoot back. “But... that wouldn't make sense. You were surprised when Mr Gavin told us I was taking the case. So logically, you came back to face off with your brother.” Klavier leaned forwards, hand stretching out dramatically. “But then again... couldn't you have done that at any time? Mr Gavin was taking cases constantly for years before you came back; I can't think of anything special about that case outside how weird the whole noodle cart thing was...” Apollo trailed off as he caught sight of his companion's strained expression, one more usually seen on students seriously desperate to answer a question from the teacher. “I just answered a rhetorical question, didn't I,” he said sheepishly.

“I'll admit, I made the dramatic pause too long.”

“No, no, I should've realised sooner! Sorry, I'll stop messing up your bit!”

“It's not a problem, wirklich!” It was an odd feeling, Apollo realised, sitting next to a man he was convinced had stabbed him in the back all morning, and trading apologies back and forth over something petty instead. And after so many conversations in the past month that just left behind anger and a bad taste in his mouth, it was almost a relief. He knew the camera was still there, hidden in his palm; it was obvious he hadn't planned to tell him his true motives at first. But in the end, Apollo hadn't forced him, right? He could've lied so easily; Apollo didn't have any evidence to counter him. But he'd confessed. And between Clay lying about riling up Mr Gavin and Mr Wright giving him false evidence, it felt so long since anyone had bothered being honest.

And so, maybe his standards were slipping, but it felt good to be told the truth. “Um, so your reasons!” he said determinedly to Klavier. “Your magical reasons that can only be expressed through sentences that translate really badly into normal human English!” Klavier's shoulders shuddered with a chuckle.

“Ja, ja, I'll get there,” he said, fighting down his smile. “You're right, by the way. Somewhat right. There wasn't anything special about the Kitaki case, and I wasn't expecting to face off against you or Kris that day. Tell me, Herr Forehead, because I think I may be right here-”

“So this isn't going to be a rhetorical question.”

“Nein, nein, I want an answer. Before your first trial, were you aware that my brother was friends with Phoenix Wright? Or that he was the only one who took his side during the Bar Association's tribunal following his presenting forged evidence?” Apollo shook his head.

“I kind of figured he hadn't told me though in case I literally never shut up about it,” he admitted. “Since I, uh, kind of idolised him, like just a little bit, sort of, I guess?” Yep. That would throw off suspicion. Behold the power of Justice.

“He never told me either,” Klavier continued. “I only heard the numbers for and against Herr Wright's disbarment. The first time I heard they'd even met after that trial was when the news came out that Herr Wright had been convicted of the murder of the same man he'd failed to defend seven years ago.” Apollo screwed his face in confusion.

“You mean Shadi Smith? I thought...” Pulling out his phone, Klavier quickly typed something in and turned it to let Apollo see the screen. An image search of Zak Gramarye stared back at him with a dozen very familiar faces. “Yeah, that'll be the one.

“But still, you cancelled part of your tour to ask Mr Gavin why he hadn't told you about one of his friends?” That seemed a bit unfair.

“There's one final thing you're missing, my dear forehead. The night before the trial I received a tip off, someone telling me that Herr Wright was going to present a forged diary page, and telling me how I could catch him in the act.” If this was what this trail was leading up to, then... “The one who warned me not to trust Herr Wright was my brother. And then I discovered he took the opposite of his own advice. That is the reason I returned: to find out why.”

“There's another,” Apollo butted in before his brain caught up. “There's another reason, isn't there. You were referring to a pattern earlier. That hasn't come up yet; when we met he'd hid you from me but not me from you, I remember that. One incidence of something isn't a pattern.” Klavier grinned.

“Ahah, I knew there was a reason I can't seem to beat you in court,” he said. “But knowing what I've told you, haven't you seen the pattern too?” Apollo tilted his head. “A pattern through the 'victims' of your first case.”

“Well the people assaulted were Shadi Smith and the waitress, both with bottles.” Which honestly still put him off bringing beer bottles home even now.

“That's one pattern,” Klavier ceded. “But there's another, wouldn't you say? Three people: one killed, one imprisoned, and one left questioned. By removing the red herring of the unfortunate waitress, the 'victims' are all tied together by the case seven years ago. Two of them are unlikely ever to be able to tell their sides of that story.

“And as luck would have it, the next beat has landed. The case I'm investigating now is the murder of the forger from the original trial, Drew Misham.” Drew... Misham? That name... “He died from acute atroquinine poisoning just moments before-”

“AH!” Klavier jumped as Apollo yelled. “The envelope! Wait...” He turned and stared at Klavier. “Are you sure he's a forger? Not like... a stationery designer or something?”

“Quite sure, ja.” Then why did he send Mr Gavin a letter? “There's something you want to add, nein?” Apollo wrung his hands and stared at his interlocking fingers. But Mr Gavin only joked about forging evidence. There shouldn't be a reason for him to be in contact with a forger.

“There was a letter from a Drew Misham this morning,” Apollo said firmly. “I noticed it because it was bright yellow and stuck out, and it had that name signed on the envelope and no other return address, I'm sure!” Eyes distant, Klavier tapped his fingers across his thigh.

“A yellow envelope?” he echoed. Apollo nodded decisively. “So it ended up with Kristoph... Vielleicht... nein, dass weiß ich schon...”

“Uh, hello, non-German speaker present.”

“Es ist nichts, ah, I was just wondering. The witness that will actually cooperate recalls Herr Misham putting away a yellow letter before he died. It wasn't found at the scene so up to now I thought he was either mistaken, or hiding something. But if it does exist... well it could change the whole context of the case.” Suddenly he barked out a single burst of laughter. “Wouldn't it be ironic if we lost the exact same thing he forged to start this all in the first place: a suicide note?” Apollo bit his lip and pushed himself to his feet.

“I'll get it then!” he said confidently. “If it's important to find out whether it's murder or suicide, I can get it!”

“Wait, Herr Justice,” Klavier interjected, an odd edge to his voice. “It could...” His voice trailed away. Apollo wondered whether the two of them were wondering the same thing.

“I mean, if I get it, he won't think he's being investigated for forgery or something silly like that, right?” He knew his laughter sounded forced. It was forced, after all. That really could be a thing, couldn't it? Klavier echoed him. “So it's fine, right? A little back room stuff since you helped me out on the job front!” Frantically he pulled out his phone to check the time, mentally sifting through his boss' definite appointments. Trust today to be court-free. “I can drop it off at the end of the day, probably, and he won't notice!”

“Herr Justice, I told you, the business card was a favour-”

“Think of this as a favour back then!” Apollo shouted over his shoulder as he jogged back to Gavin Law, set on his mission.

 

Chapter Text

Apollo sat on edge for some time before Mr Gavin left his office and headed for the bathroom. “I was just about to make tea, sir,” he chirped, jumping upright. “Would you like some?”

“Ah, yes, thank you,” came the clipped response.

“I'll collect your last cup too!” Mr Gavin ignored him. Good. He had his in. Continuing to smile along in his part, Apollo slipped into the secluded study and looked around. Sure enough, the yellow envelope was still on his desk, tucked under some other papers and unopened. Thank goodness it wasn't in one of the locked drawers; Apollo had exactly zero ways of getting into those stealthily. Scooping up the mug still left from that morning, Apollo took the envelope and held it carefully behind his thigh, out of sight of the main office's security camera. Then, stepping behind his own desk he mimed tripping over his chair and falling to the floor. Heart hammering in his chest (and wow, this felt silly, acting for an inanimate object) he quickly slid his prize into his satchel beneath his desk and stood again, theatrically dusting himself off with one hand.

Finally, he picked up his own used cup and made it to the kitchenette. Apollo let out a sigh of relief. Nice tea for Mr Gavin... and might as well make it for himself too for a job well done. He was even successful in not bumping into his boss on the way out despite his nerves!

The nerves didn't fade, either, with guilt slow roasting his insides while he tried to focus on the menial tasks Mr Gavin needed him to do. Up until the man himself opened his office door in a flurry of anger that was practically palpable, that was. Apollo looked up. “Sir?” Composing himself into a tense smile, Mr Gavin faced him.

“You wouldn't happen to know where that letter of mine has disappeared off to, would you, Justice?” he bit.

Yes.” “Letter, sir?”

“You remarked upon it earlier; it was in a yellow envelope.” Apollo pretended to think.

“Didn't I give that to you, sir?” he said innocently. All things considered, it was a good thing he was already planning on leaving. If he never had to see that strained smile again it would be too soon. “I, uh, don't think you gave it back.” Nonetheless he patted around on his desk, making sure to check underneath the keyboard, like any responsible employee would.

“Justice.” Apollo put his keyboard back down. Yeah, that probably was pushing it. “Would you help me look for it, please?” he simpered icily, smile failing. Swallowing a whimper, Apollo nodded and rifled through his desk drawers, keenly aware of Mr Gavin looming over and inspecting his work carefully. Forget slow roasting; guilt was straight up trying to deep fry him now. Naturally, all the drawers were free of suspicious letters from forgers. Mr Gavin frowned.

“Maybe it got tucked into something else by accident?” Apollo suggested. Mr Gavin hummed in acknowledgement and gestured for him to follow him into the store room. How did this get to be worse than what Apollo was expecting out of this afternoon?! The door closed ominously behind them, pushed by some demonically timed draught. “So, uh, it's pretty important, huh?” he chattered, running his hand along a row of uniform plastic binders.

“My personal mail is a private matter, Justice.” Apollo didn't particularly want to look at his boss' face right now; he was pretty sure it would be awkward to explain to the people down at the morgue.

“So it's from a friend then?” How long was he going to be stuck doing this?

My, Justice, I wasn't aware it was possible for an alleged adult to forget the meaning of the word 'private'!” Mr Gavin hissed venomously.

“S-sorry, sir.” Apollo was going to stop fishing for extra information before he broke down sobbing on the floor. He would quite like to quit before getting fired, thanks.

They kept looking in tense silence, Apollo being the unlucky one to concede to checking beneath the bookcases and having his knees instantly regret it. He still had to cycle home today. He could do without carpet burns from some stupid fake search for an envelope he knew the location of. But seeing Mr Gavin get more and more worked up about it was the worst thing of all. Sure maybe even last month he'd pin it down to just not wanting to see him upset, but now? Mr Gavin didn't get upset over nothing. That wasn't his style.

But despite the horrible swirling pit of cold fury threatening to swallow Gavin Law Offices in an eldritch dimension of terror, the hours still ticked by and the mythical five o'clock passed.

“It's, uh, probably time for me to get home,” said Apollo to excuse himself, scurrying to sling his satchel onto his back. “I hope you find your letter, sir!” There was only silence as he walked towards the door. Nearly done, nearly free, nearly-

A heavy hand dug into his shoulder, accompanied by a sickening voice, “Apollo, weren't you ever taught it's wrong to steal?” But it barely registered as all Apollo could focus on was nails in the wrong shoulder, tugging, anger too close to his ears and mixing in with the sound of rushing water that couldn't be here right now. And without thinking, he swung his fist around to fend off the woman trying to kill him, felt his knuckles make contact and warm as the grip around his shoulder broke.

Mr Gavin stood in front of him, hands cocooned around his nose and slowly staining red. He'd... Apollo had just punched his boss. Apollo had just punched his boss in the face. Colour drained out of the world and the freezing fear in his stomach grew and grew as Mr Gavin opened his scrunched up eyes and looked at him incredulously.

Apollo slammed open the door and sprinted away, with a satchel that felt far too heavy for what it was.



The receptionist at the Prosecutor's Building waved him on through the moment he got his name out and legs aching, chest heaving, he made it to the right office.

“Komm herein!” Klavier shouted through the door. Apollo's arm just about had the strength in it to push the ridiculously heavy door open. At least, one of them did; the one he'd recently punched a man in the face with was starting to throb in a particularly uncomfortable manner. Upon hearing Apollo enter, Klavier looked up from where he was hunched at his desk and his posture brightened instantly. “Ah, Herr Forehead, any luck?” His anxious voice did not match the rest of him. Apollo nodded in lieu of trying to force any words past his dry throat, and stumbled fully into the office so he could actually shut the damn door after him. “You're, ah, a little out of breath?” Apollo stared him down.

“Do you have... any idea.. how far... it is to cycle here... from work..?” he panted. Klavier cringed and quickly vacated the stool next to his desk. Apollo gratefully planted himself and crumpled his torso over said desk. Or now that he looked, it looked suspiciously like a speaker?

“I'm afraid I... Apollo is that blood?!” His wrist was unceremoniously manhandled. Apollo just buried his face into the desktop.

“I punched him,” he mumbled into the cloth (who put a cloth on their desk anyway?).

“Wie bitte?”

“I punched Mr Gavin in the face,” he repeated, utterly refusing to leave his buried state. “I'm a violent criminal.” Klavier choked out a worried little noise.

“This... was over the letter?” Oh, yeah. Let's not forget that.

“I'm a violent criminal and a thief,” Apollo clarified. Who'd just turned up at the literal hub for prosecutors across the state. Apollo was a terrible criminal. He rolled his face so he could just look at Klavier. “Aren't you with the police?” he said, voice distorted from his cheek being squished into a hard surface. “You should probably arrest me, you know.”

“Should I now.”

“Mmhm.”

“Despite me being the one who wanted the letter.”

“I don't think you asked me to punch anyone in the face.” Also he hadn't really asked for the letter; Apollo offered that. Apollo was a voluntary criminal. “So...” Apollo heaved his arms around so his hands lay above his head in surrender. “You can arrest me now, any time would be good.” Klavier sighed disbelievingly.

“Sure, I'll arrest you, once I've got you some water.” He patted Apollo lightly on the head. “We wouldn't want you keeling over before we get you to the detention centre, ja?” Apollo nodded into the desk. “And if you could get that letter out that would be wunderbar.”

Klavier's heavy footsteps retreated off down the corridor. With a groan Apollo examined his knuckles; Gavin wasn't kidding about the blood, huh. He must have been seriously preoccupied with his failure of an operation on the way over.

Well, at least he got the stupid envelope. Overdramatically he flung his arms back and let his satchel fall to the floor, finally pulling his head upright. Then immediately regretted that last action as his head spun. Ugh, he was not built for cycling like that. Though it wasn't as if he was built for anything he'd tried to do that day. His phone was vibrating in his pocket. Seriously he'd been busted on the thievery front probably instantly if Mr Gavin wanted to check him first. Who had he been kidding? With a great deal of autopilot-controlled effort he checked the caller ID and groaned loudly: Mr Gavin, obviously. He declined the call and thumped it down on the stereo-cum-desk. And if he got worked up over being in the same room as his boss, how was that going to start reflecting on his behaviour around clients?! Hell, if he started suspecting Mr Gavin of dodgy dealings because he got upset about his mail being stolen, how was he supposed to defend someone he'd only met after they'd already been arrested?

Oh, really, as if he didn't already know exactly how that went down. He had a panic attack in the middle of a trial! That's how that went down! And still screwed up everything else for everyone else in the process! The business card for Edgeworth Law was still in the pocket of his slacks. How was he even supposed to approach them? “Oh, hi, I can't defend clients for shit despite training under the brightest mind in the industry but I'd like to work here if that's okay! Oh and also I assaulted my last boss, so I think that's a great point for me!”

His phone was vibrating again. One glance later and he angrily declined that call too. You're fine, Justice, just get Gavin's stupid letter and put it on his stupid speaker desk and you can go hand yourself in. The bright yellow envelope seemed even brighter now, taunting him, being overly cheery for the last known correspondence from a dead man. Seriously, even the stamp was happy, with its... magicians? Now he looked at it properly, that was one of the images that had come up when Gavin had looked up Zak Gramarye for him. Must be his lot. Or whoever used to be his lot, anyway, considering the whole death thing. There was a hell of a lot of death around this one envelope, wasn't there.

Before Apollo fell entirely into his own navel, the door thankfully opened and a few steps later the letter was replaced by a plastic cup of water. “Ach, danke, danke, danke!” Klavier gushed, looking around at his office and blatantly trying to work out where to actually sit amongst the clutter. Apollo shot him a half-hearted thumbs up. His phone began to vibrate again. Again by rote, he declined the call. At some point this was probably going to end up with him missing a super important phone call like Mikeko having to be rushed to cat hospital or something... He was about to decide he couldn't care less right now, but no, he had limits. “Entschuldigung,” Klavier said, reaching past Apollo for a stray phone handset that had somehow tucked itself into a CD shelf. Who even put that on their work desk? “I should probably let the lab handle this, ja?” At least someone was happy in here. Also not arresting the confessed criminal, Apollo couldn't help but notice. Apollo's phone rang again, buzzing across the stupid tablecloth speaker desk like an annoying giant red wasp. Deep breaths, Justice. Klavier had stopped, own handset halfway to his ear and gazing curiously at the scene. Apollo shook his head dismissively and turned away, with another firm decline while the other man called someone over. At least Mr Gavin had the decency to wait until he wasn't in traffic anymore. Apollo swallowed as another thought occurred to him. Or he'd done serious enough damage that he'd only just recovered enough to call. He looked at the blood on his knuckles. He'd just given the guy a nosebleed, right? He hadn't even used a good punching technique; he hadn't been thinking about it at the time. But still...

The phone began to buzz again. “Fine, fine!” Apollo snapped at last. “I'll pick up your damn call!” Out of left field (right field, going by direction and not weird metaphor nonsense) a hand intercepted his before he could reach the phone.

“That would be my brother, ja?” Apollo nodded. “Put it on speaker.”

“Eh?” Klavier deftly removed his guitar pin and flicked the switch on the back, setting it down on the desk next to Apollo's phone. “Oh, uh, right.” Apollo accepted the call, activated speakerphone, and turned the volume up. “A-Apollo Justice speaking!”

“I see you finally decided to pick up, Justice,” sounded Mr Gavin's acerbic voice, artificially loud in the silent room. At least he didn't sound stuffed up in the way that would indicate a broken nose or something.

“S-sorry, sir, traffic,” he offered as weak explanation. “Was there something you needed, sir?” In an office across the city Mr Gavin laughed harshly.

“Truly, Justice, I refuse to believe even you could be so dense.” Apollo shifted uncomfortably on his stool. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Klavier's stance steadily draw tighter. “There's something you need to say, don't you think?”

“I'm sorry, sir.” The words felt weighty in his mouth and the pause that followed hung weighty in the air.

“Really now. That's all you have to say, is it?” Apollo winced and gripped at his arms instinctively. He was really just going to act like this when Klavier was the Gavin watching him? “I must say, I expected better and yet I am constantly disappointed. It's as if you have no idea how generous I'm being, not firing you on the spot despite your actions today!

“Now, would you like to try again, Justice?”

“I'm very sorry for hitting you, sir,” Apollo said, the scratchiness of his throat pushing through. “I panicked when you grabbed me-”

“I hardly grabbed you, Apollo.”

“I know, sir. Sorry. I panicked when you touched me and wasn't thinking. It won't happen again, sir.” A soft tutting on the other end of the line indicated Mr Gavin was doing his trademark mocking head shake.

“Now, Justice, if you weren't thinking about your actions, how can you promise to not repeat them, hm?” Apollo could feel his face beginning to heat. This level of apology nitpicking was meant to stay private, dammit! Though... that was on him for it not being, too. For his part, Klavier was remaining expertly schooled, still tense but unmoving.

“I wasn't thinking, sir,” Apollo started again, “but I will try to be more conscious of myself in the future.”

“'Try'?”

“I will be more conscious of myself in the future.”

“Better, I suppose,” Mr Gavin sighed. Even knowing he was quitting at the first opportunity, Apollo's heart still clenched at the disappointment dripping off his words. He didn't want this! “Now-” And so easily his voice slid back into the cool sweetness he was so known for. “Why don't we put this all behind us, hm? Stop your gallivanting around with whatever prosecutor you've decided is your friend this time and make sure to be in promptly tomorrow, understood?” Something... something was wrong in that sentence.

“'Prosecutor', sir?” Klavier looked at him, face finally shifting from stern to panicked. Apollo shrugged, confusion rising up. He hadn't... Klavier hadn't said anything while the call was active, right?

Understood, Justice?”

“...Yes, sir.” The dial tone sounded long and harsh before shutting itself off automatically. Klavier and Apollo stared at the phone for a moment, then at each other. “I swear I didn't say anything about this-”

“No, I didn't think you did.” Klavier tore his eyes back to the phone and frowned at it. “You cycled here, ja? You didn't take a taxi or bus or otherwise tell anyone where you were going?”

“Yeah, I... I don't think I even took a direct route here; I've never had to actively navigate the streets around here before.” He closed his eyes and balanced his face in his hands. “Um, maybe the receptionist I checked in here with?” Klavier let out a frustrated hum.

“They shouldn't have given that information to anyone outside the building,” he said, pacing to his desk and sweeping up his bug badge. “That's a serious breach of confidentiality if-” He froze, staring at his badge. “Surely...” His gaze tracked slowly to Apollo's phone, still sitting there in all its bright red glory. “Apollo, may I borrow your phone a moment?”

“Sure..?” Gently the guitar badge was put down and the phone was picked up and flipped over. Biting his lip, Klavier slid open the battery compartment of the device and removed the plastic panel.

“Scheiße.”

Confused, Apollo stood up and peered over the other side at the internals of his phone. Across the battery ran a series of thin strips of metal up to nestle alongside the contacts, and two tiny squares, neither bigger than his pinky fingernail, lay suspended in the shining silver web: one a strange arrangement of etched metal and the other a simple black chip. “I don't think that's supposed to look like that,” Apollo whispered lamely. He looked to Klavier for any sort of clue. Klavier swallowed, mouth pulled taut, and reached again for his own handset.

“Ja, me again. I'm going to need the tech guys up. Unknown device found in a phone. Mm, alles klar.” He hung up and looked apologetically at Apollo. “I hope you didn't have evening plans,” he said. “I don't know how long this will take.” Apollo grimaced again at the electronic mess that made up the inside of his phone. Not knowing what to say, he said nothing.



The terse silence felt like it stretched for years. The remaining logical part of Apollo's brain that wasn't currently occupied by white noise or focussed on the continued pain in his chest told him that Klavier had not paced the length of the room enough times for that to be true. Finally the door opened without so much as a knock and two suited and armoured people stormed in. “Prosecutor Gavin, civilian, please leave the room,” snipped the person in front, a woman with a neat black bob and an icy hot look in her eyes. Apollo didn't have to be asked twice by the scary police people. He swiftly walked out of the room, Klavier falling through the doorway a moment later with an indignant yelp, the yellow envelope stuffed halfway into his shirt.

Approximately three seconds later the door reopened. “The device was not a bomb,” the bobbed woman said simply.

“No one thought it was!” barked Klavier.

“With the number of times I've dropped it, I don't think that was still an option,” added Apollo quietly. Klavier gesticulated around him in a 'see?!' sort of motion. “But since that's ruled out, what is in my phone?” The woman stepped aside to let the men back in and shut them back off from the world.

“This is yours then Mr...”

“Apollo Justice, sir.” He held out his hand for a shake. The woman ignored him.

“Detective Arme,” she just said, scooping up his phone, guts et al. “When did you discover these devices?”

“When I called down,” Klavier butted in. Arme shot him a silencing glare.

He's the one who found it,” Apollo said in support. “I haven't opened that thing since I got my current SIM... which was a while ago.”

“It's unwise to continue on a single plan for long lengths of time,” said Arme.

“I'm actually fine, thanks.”

“Changing SIMs regularly also keeps the likelihood of being tapped to a minimum,” she continued anyway. Tapped? As in wiretapped? Apollo's blood ran cold.

“Those things are tapping my phone?” he asked weakly.

“Oh not both, of course,” chuckled Arme, returning the phone to the desk and digging her hand into a small bag she'd placed next to it. “The black chip appears to be a simple GPS tracker: completely benign, completely legal, so common I've seen them in clothes.” That was how he knew... He was at the Prosecutor's Building, after all. What else would he be doing there? “Small enough it likely doesn't even have an internal battery; it's just leeching off the phone's. But this silver one? A little nastier. Looking at the serial... anything going through a phone network should be fair game. Might be keylogging too, since your phone has a physical keyboard.” She pulled out what looked like a tiny pair of pliers along with a pair of rubber gloves, pulling the latter on with a snap. “So let's see exactly which bits it's listening to, shall we?” Gleefully she took ahold of her pliers and grabbed the phone battery.

“Wait, wait, what are you doing?!” Apollo interjected, lunging forth in an attempt to stop her. The other cop that had come in with the detective grabbed his midriff and pulled him away.

“The battery's in the way, Mr Justice. I can hardly analyse the situation properly without removing it.”

“But you said,” croaked Apollo, wriggling desperately in the cop's hold and trying to stay in the room. “You said the GPS thing was using the battery. It'll stop if you take the battery out, won't it?”

“Well, of course.” Arme said it as if it were the most simple thing in the world. Was he the only one who spotted even a slight problem with the situation?! “However, since it's already been surrendered as evidence, I fail to see the problem with the signal blinking-”

“What do you mean, you 'fail to see' it?!” yelled Apollo, making use of the cop's surprise at his outburst to break free and rush over to protect his phone. “It's still being watched! You think he won't notice if it suddenly shuts off when he knows I'm with at least one prosecutor?!” Crud, Mr Gavin had to have put together what was going on with the letter. He had to know.

“Apollo,” said Klavier soothingly.

“Don't 'Apollo' me!” Apollo snapped back, feeling his voice rise to dangerous levels. Not that he could care if he wanted to. The air around him was too thin to breathe properly and he only barely noted he was shivering as his limbs felt sluggish. The other chip... Texts went through the phone network, right? They were fair game. All those texts to Clay: to complain, to plan, to do anything in safety.

“Herr Justice,” Klavier amended. “That silver chip in there is conclusive evidence of Kristoph's wrongdoing. You don't have to face him again.” He smiled gently. “It's okay now, ja?”

“You're wrong!” insisted Apollo, world swaying back and forth as he desperately tried to push air into his lungs. With those texts, it would be so easy to mimic how Clay talked! And knowing when they were hanging out was even simpler! It fit together too well. Klavier surged forwards to offer a steadying hand. Apollo flailed in its vague direction to get rid of it. “You can't promise any of that!”

“We've caught him admitting to tracking you, Herr Justice-”

“You recorded him saying I was with a prosecutor!” Apollo shot back. Next to him Arme was impatiently tapping her pliers on the desk, thumping loud enough to hear over Apollo's own heart.

“Which you said yourself he shouldn't know.” Why was he staying so calm over this?

“So?! You only have what I say to go off! I could be totally mistaken, you know, or maybe I've been lying through my teeth this whole time! How would you know the difference?!” Klavier tilted his head thoughtfully.

“I don't see why you'd lie,” he said, “which leads me to believe you. You've always told me the truth eventually in the past.” Why was Apollo the one to have to point out his own untrustworthiness?! How was it not broadcasting to the world at a million decibels by now?!

“Like hell I have! Or did you just conveniently forget about the first half of Crescend's trial? What part of 'hiding critical evidence from you' just screams truth?!”

“In case you'd forgotten-”

“Or afterwards, when I ran off as soon as I could instead of owning up to any of it? Or the day after? I heard your talk with your brother, you know!” Klavier's eyes flew open. “I heard you slip up about Ms Tilia, and take the blame, and I didn't even step in! That's the sort of person I am, you know! Doesn't it make more sense that the guy who stole from someone and punched them in the face when they tried to stop him escaping would lie about what he said?”

Arme coughed. “This is all a very lovely discussion to be a fly on the wall for,” she said, annoyance in her tone. “But how about you give me the go ahead to start dissecting this so I can get specifics, hm?”

In the split second that preceded his actions, Apollo knew what he was about to do was stupid. And irresponsible and disrespectful and ungrateful and probably not particularly legal. But ignoring his brain, he turned away from the others' expectant looks and flung his hand out to sweep his phone away from the detective. Grip firm, he pushed away and raced to the door, slamming it in the face of the footsteps that followed him, and continued full pelt down the corridor to the elevators.

And that was roughly how Apollo Justice found himself hunched into a shady alcove of an underground parking lot, panting and cradling a phone without its back while he waited for the spots dancing in front of his eyes to subside.

Once he'd finally accepted that no one was chasing after him, he sighed, and looked at his phone properly again. He clicked into his text chain with Clay and scrolled miserably. There was his apology; Mr Gavin knew that now. Or his attempts to arrange for Clay to come over; Mr Gavin knew those now. The time he'd been caught texting at work; that was one unlikely event solved. The messages stopped midway through him getting angry at Clay for allegedly insulting his boss the first time round. He'd been completely fooled, hadn't he. Clay really wasn't lying. He clicked aside to the options to keep loading the earlier messages.

And stopped. And stared. An option he had never used before was in there with all the rest: Unblock this number. He went ahead and pressed it and in an instant his phone began to shake.

Clay: abt the other day

Clay: i uh

Clay: ok this is kinda hard

Clay: well if ur not here rn its cool

Clay: i get time to think lol :p

Clay: ok lets go again

Clay: k in advance im sry if this sounds like trash

Clay: im just gonna be honest here

Clay: but u kno

Clay: not a shit abt it

Clay: hopefully

Clay: ur right and i shouldve listened to u when u told me to butt out

Clay: like i care abt u alot pollo

Clay: but i put wat i thought was right over what u wanted and that was bad

Clay: its ur life u kno?

Clay: and even if my side isnt changing i dont want to lose u over smth like this

Clay: weve got thru worse u kno? way worse bullies than a guy with bad timing

Clay: id rather be friends than be right

Clay: so im sorry

Clay: ill drop it

Clay: pinky swear

Clay: u doing ok buddy?

Clay: sorry text me if u want me to shut up

Clay: idk

Clay: pollo? :(

Apollo finally made it back to where he'd texted Clay just two days ago.

Apollo: Sorry I didn't listen to you about Mr Gavin.

But instead of silence:

Clay: pollo!

Clay: ur ok!

Clay: hey?

Clay: heeeeeey what sorta guy leaves me hangin like that :p

Clay: apollo?

Clay: srsly u ok?

Clay: apollo pls pick up

Clay: apollo pls just lemme know ur alright

Clay: apollo ur fine right?

Clay: please talk to me

Clay: dont o this to me pollo please

Apollo wiped at his eyes and sniffled, belatedly realising he'd begun to cry as Clay's text got more and more on edge. He hadn't... Clay hadn't left. He hadn't left at all.

Finally after several seconds of only quiet and choked breaths, Apollo's phone buzzed a final time.

Clay: apollo im really worried im coming back to la ok just please please if u can still read this dont do anything bad ok im coming i swear im sorry

And just like that, Apollo had managed to convince his best friend of ten years that he'd killed himself.

 

Chapter Text

The Kitaki mansion had a doorbell. Apollo expected to have to bang a gong, or sacrifice a goat to make a guardian kitsune howl his arrival, or knock on the door. But no. Doorbell. But the normalcy of the situation gave him time to stand on the doorstep and shift from foot to foot and generally examine the state of his life.

It didn't look particularly good from his point of view. He'd literally not slept that night, instead pacing and reasoning whether or not to call Clay. He hadn't, in the end. There was always a chance his phone would be off whenever he called due to his flight, and the moment he started to chat with Clay the gig would be up and Mr Gavin would know and be able to destroy anything that connected him with the wiretap. Not that his psyche was letting him off for not telling his friend he was still alive. He'd debated going back into work and just pretending nothing had happened, then remembered the back to his phone was basically gone forever now so everything was exposed and leaving his phone at home would raise Mr Gavin's suspicions and basically that would give him up too. But at least that was an extra day he didn't have to apologise all over again.

So here he was, his current plan: consulting the only people he could think off who wouldn't alert Mr Gavin or rush it to a criminal case that a half decent lawyer could bust open in their sleep.

The door opened a crack, then all the way, and Plum Kitaki stood there in a homely headscarf that completely failed to dull any of the dignified intimidation radiating from her. Maybe it was the fact that he already knew she hid weapons in otherwise benign home supplies that did it. “Good morning, Apollo,” she said. “Now what brings you here?” At least it was easier to ask for help from people he wasn't supposed to stay away from.

“I, um, need some advice,” he said, scratching at his neck awkwardly. “About... well...” Maybe just saying it out in public where literally anyone could hear him was a bad idea. “...A situation I've gotten into,” he finally settled on. Plum briefly lowered her eyes in thought, then stood aside and gestured inwards.

“Why don't we discuss this somewhere more private?” Apollo swallowed back the last of his resolve and followed her inside.

The Kitaki mansion certainly continued the mismatched theme of the Californian Yakuza, with shoji screens and genuine tatami mats in the rooms he could see into right alongside kitschy floral patterned couches and what looked suspiciously like a home bar. Seriously, who had a home bar these days?! And the number of definite swords on some of the walls did not seem to belong in the house of a family that had reportedly had the entirety of its illegal armoury confiscated. “Ah, those are just antiques,” Plum said without once turning to see Apollo eyeing them up. Yeah, antique weapons were still weapons. “Well documented family heirlooms, you'll find.” ...They absolutely had been used to murder someone at some point, hadn't they. Apollo shuddered and decided to do his best to ignore the swords.

Eventually he was led to a room that faced off into a little garden that seemed all well and cosy until he noticed Wocky on a large cushion in the corner, staring at him over a handheld console. “I'll fetch us some tea,” Plum said, already bustling away.

“Ah, you don't have... to...” Apollo was being ignored. He sighed and sat down on one of the cushions beside the low table in the centre of the room and stared out into the garden, trying to work out whether that was a pond or just a bunch of rocks. And if the former, how many different sets of human remains were in there.

“Yo,” piped up Wocky. Apollo winced. Of course he'd managed to get himself alone in a room with a gangster again! Why wouldn't he?! His pond-slash-rock debate was not answered by the sound of rushing water. He kept staring at the garden. “Yo!” came Wocky's voice from right next to him, accompanied by a thud as he slammed his handheld down on the table. Apollo screwed up his eyes and held his breath. It wasn't like he'd even get a chance to get to his feet this time, let alone run away. “You ain't some geezer. Help a G out here!” Apollo tentatively opened his eyes. Wocky was just slouching there, not quite kneeling, not quite sitting, shaking his console pointedly. Apollo looked down at the screen. It appeared to be some sort of turn based RPG. Ah, he'd never really got on with that sort of... He looked at the character portraits. Huh. He'd forgotten they were making a game from that. He didn't own any of the systems it was releasing for, after all. “This guy's been givin' me shiz for three days. You do it.” ...No. No thanks.

“Do you have any healing or holy abilities?” he asked, avoiding pressing any buttons that he didn't know the functions of.

“Yeah...”

“Use them on the boss.” Wocky looked at him like he'd somehow lost his head. “He's a vampire. Did it not say already?” It'd said in the manga. It'd been reiterated to death in the manga.

“Man, you think I read that whack-ass shiz?” he whined, snatching control back and tapping hurriedly. “Last time I tried listenin' up my guy was crying 'cuz two chicks gave him lunch! I ain't reading that anymo'!” Unless the game had switched up the story beats... that was a long time to play without reading anything.

“I thought the story was kinda the draw for this sort of game,” admitted Apollo.

“Dunno,” Wocky shot back, squinting in disbelief as the enemy vampire's health bar plummeted. “Don't usually do these. Street brawlers are better, but Ma ain't having it 'cuz of the violence.” Apollo watched as one of Wocky's team was decapitated and fell to the ground, prompting a string of curses from Wocky. Maybe he needed a Kitaki to English dictionary to understand these people. He sighed and watched for a while, as two more characters were executed in uncomfortably gory fashion before the boss literally exploded on-screen. Who knew 'fantasy violence' could be nastier than the real thing? “Thanks J-man,” Wocky said with presumably a sick-ass hand gesture; Plum finally arrived back with a tray and shooed him off into the garden. She carefully laid out the tea set (plus a couple of slightly green tinted eclairs) and slid the screen doors on either side shut.

“Now,” she smiled, smoothly removing her headscarf and kneeling on the other side of the table, “shall we begin?”



“That's about everything I can think of right now,” Apollo sighed, cradling his tea cup and watching for Plum's reactions. The bust-up with Clay, the phone (now on the table), the evidence theft, the legion of suspicions Mr Gavin had picked up; it'd all been dragged out over a shared pot of green tea. “Sorry if it sounds all muddled up; I'm... I'm just tired at the moment.” Plum hummed in sympathy and sipped her tea.

“So you're hoping for a way to connect your boss and these... devices,” she mused. Apollo nodded. “Did anyone take fingerprints?”

“No.” Apollo held his hand next to the tiny chips. “But the actual illegal parts are too small for a full fingerprint anyway, see? Only having fingerprint fragments is basically a free pass for Mr Gavin. And that's assuming he didn't do the obvious thing and use gloves; it'd be weird to plan far enough ahead for a wiretap and not think of that, wouldn't it?” He sighed again and took a gulp of tea. “I was wondering if there was someone I could find who had a receipt or something proving he bought them..?”

“I must admit, I've never used these before. I wouldn't know personally where to find them.” Apollo felt himself deflate. Served him right for thinking one type of criminal record indicated a totally different one. “And I would think no such merchant would easily give up their receipts to someone asking around.” Yeah... He slumped a little more. “However.” He perked up slightly. “There are certain... benefits to having a reputation, wouldn't you say?” Judging by the fact her eyes were beginning to sparkle, Apollo's mounting concern was probably justified. “Especially so if you're a certain person who should know better than to eavesdrop on his mother's private business.” A sudden thud sounded from outside and right as a shadow ran past, Plum pushed herself upright and opened the garden door. Wocky froze comically mid step. “Would you like to join us, Wocky?” Pouting, Wocky stomped back into the room and made for the giant corner cushion. “As I was saying,” Plum continued, shutting the screen door again. “Someone like my dear sulking son over there would be able to find some sellers for you to question rather easily, wouldn't you say?”

“Ay and whadda I get for all my hard labour?” Wocky protested.

“It was 'Streets of Neo Olde Tokyo Deluxe' you were after, wasn't it?” said Plum in a caricature of thoughtfulness. Wocky sat up straight, and scuffed his cushion closer to the table.

“I mean...” he said 'nonchalantly', “I can hit a couple homeys up.” Played like a shamisen.



“You're jackin' me!” Wocky exclaimed down the landline. “You think I'm made of cash?!” Apollo grimaced and tapped a pen on the paper pad he'd brought with him. With a sudden burst of inspiration he scribbled down a few more details of the totally fabricated situation that meant he needed Mr Gavin's receipts. “Yeah, I need that model! You know who you're messin' wit' right now, G?!” It had been literally hours. By the time Plum had let him stay for lunch, Apollo had begun to suspect this was some sort of strange sleepover. This was his life now. What the hell. “You sure? 'Cuz if I find out you been lyin'... Aight. I'll be back.” Wocky unceremoniously hung up and turned to Apollo. “Found your guy, J-man! Only one that sells that model in the state!”

“Seriously? Sweet.” Wocky shoved over the notes he'd been keeping on his own paper scrap, the final number on it heavily underlined.

“You need any learnin' on the record thang?” he asked, standing up and stretching.

“I'm good, thanks,” Apollo replied, starting up the dated little tape recorder attached to the Kitakis' phone. “And seriously, Wocky, thanks for all this; it's been really helpful.” Wocky blushed and became remarkably fixated on fixing his hair.

“Yeah, well, you done a lot for us lately, wit' keeping my old man outta the clink is all... Just don't start getting any funny ideas about your place in this family, got it?” He pointed accusingly. “I'm the eldest and it's staying that way!”

“No offense,” Apollo chuckled, “but I don't think I'd be a great Kitaki anyway, new or old style. Anyway, you have a game to go claim, right?”

“Right.” And with that Apollo was left with a phone, a device to record it, and a number to record. Well, he was only getting one shot at this! He dialed.

“Good afternoon!” he all but squeaked down the phone. If he was going to play up his connection to Mr Gavin, the role of the nervous assistant would be best, maybe? It wasn't like he could stare anyone down over the phone, after all. “I was told to call this number, um-”

“Well you called it,” snapped a deep, distorted voice on the other end of the line. It made sense to be using a voice changer if you were that sort of 'business', huh. “You here for anything?”

“Yes, yes. I'm calling on my boss' behalf, actually. He, Mr Gavin that is, got arrested this morning and I'm doing my best to clear him, you see.”

“You being?”

“Apollo Justice, of Gavin Law. It's, well it's an awkward situation I'm in, you know?” The person on the end of the line remained silent. Fine. He'd just go without feedback. Who needed it anyway?! “Mr Gavin's been accused of a ton of illegal surveillance on one of our rival firms, which obviously he wouldn't do! But he kinda said he had purchased some wiretaps of the same type that they found in the other office, just not used them for that sort of thing. Obviously, since they've already found something like twenty there and are still investigating? Nasty stuff, you know?

“But anyway, he's concerned it'll get pinned on him, so he gave me this number so I could get a statement to prove he never purchased such a large amount of the wiretaps!” The other end crackled back to life.

“So, Mr Justice, you want me to give up information on a potential customer to some kid over the phone?” Why did Apollo get the feeling he'd just had his name looked up? “You're a lawyer, ain't ya? Why don't you work out for yourself why I ain't so keen on that idea?”

“Ah, and I totally get that!” Apollo butted in before he could be hung up on. “As a lawyer, I wouldn't ask this if there was an easier way out, and this is absolutely the way with minimal damage to all of us! Since I'm calling instead of Mr Gavin, the police have no knowledge outside of what I choose to tell them, and the purchase and ownership of devices such as the ones he bought from you aren't illegal in and of themselves. In fact, proving he's still in possession of all of the, um...” He quickly checked the notes on the model number for added authenticity. “Of all the S-5828 units you sold him would ensure you aren't held as an accomplice, as well.”

“Mr Justice,” growled the other end. “Would I be right in thinking you're trying to blackmail me?”

“Oh, that wasn't my intent at all,” Apollo said sweetly. He'd seen Mr Gavin pull this enough times to know how this went. “Just a reminder that on a serious case of industrial espionage such as this, the police could easily get the wrong idea about your little business and succumb to their trigger happy nature. I'm sure it'd be much simpler to let a little information slip about Kristoph Gavin'ss S-5828 order so no one has to chase you down for testimony when this whole affair goes to the court. Wouldn't you say?” There was another long pause. Please let that have worked. Please let that have worked.

“Alright Mr Justice. We can work something out. You got something to record me?”

“I have indeed.” And oh boy did he, even if this went belly up! He didn't touch the tape recorder next to him. “Recording's started.”

“Can I get a promise to not be bothered about this further if I tell you what I've got?”

“I guarantee you will not be asked for any further information during the investigation of Kristoph Gavin's involvement in the illegal surveillance of Edgeworth Law Offices' staff.” That wasn't even a lie, really. Since as far as he was aware, Edgeworth Law Offices had not been in anyway bugged.

“That's not all I'm after, Mr Justice.”

“Without you sharing information on all S-5828 units you've sold, I have no control over what happens after I'm removed from investigation.” There was a distorted breath. “Although your information may be limited to total number sold from all customers if you believe it to be low enough.”

“Just KG's order then.” Oh jeez, that meant there were a lot of those things floating around, almost certainly. “Alright, I testify that on December 9th, 2025 Informer Electronics sold twelve units of the Snitch S-5828 wiretap to Mr Kristoph Gavin. No other S-5828s were purchased by him since they were first put into production.”

“Thank you very much for your cooperation.” Twelve?! Twelve individual wiretaps?! “I suppose it would be a bit silly to say 'see you again' or something, right?” The line had already gone dead. “Ah well,” sighed Apollo, hanging up and stopping the recording.

Then he stopped dead as he realised what he'd already written out on paper just to get that testimony. Without proving the numbers added up, what if he got a lawyer who could wiggle out of that too? Without intent, proving he'd bought the stupid things didn't mean anything. Groaning he flopped back onto the floor with his hands clawing at his face. He'd only proven opportunity! With that kind of time frame – nearly a year ago was the earliest he could've been tapped?! – motive was totally up in the air too. All he actually had in terms of evidence that anyone at all had been tracked by him was him knowing Apollo had gone to the Prosecutor's Building after stealing a dead man's letter, and tapping was just Mr Gavin's word against Clay's because Apollo had been too stupid and unconscious to know what the hell went down there!

“Hey J-man.” Obviously this wasn't going to be enough, how could he even begin to think it was?! This wasn't some small-time idiot who'd panicked and killed someone and left evidence all over the place; this was Kristoph Gavin! The Coolest Defence in the West! “Oiiiiii.” It would take time to get him in for this. And even then some secret contact in the police force would probably send him a memo and he'd get rid of all proof that he owned any of them and just make out the phone guy to be a liar and all Apollo's hard work would've gone down the drain and he'd be the only one left with criminal charges for starting all this off and punching him in the face hard enough to draw blood and- Wocky pried his fingers from his eyes and hovered over him, upside down from his comfy patch of floor. “You even here right now, G?” Apollo hurriedly sat up. He really ought to be more careful where he went into introspective spirals. That could've been dangerous if Wocky was still out to get him rather than hopping on the Kitaki train of being unduly nice to him.

“Ah, yes, I'm done,” he smiled robotically. So at least a bit more proof Mr Gavin really did buy wiretaps and was now missing one, then he could turn himself in and take more than himself down. Including the phone guy. Sucker.

“You seen where Ma went?” Wocky continued to chatter, helpfully fetching the original tape for the old tape recorder and handing Apollo a clear plastic case for his evidence filled one. Apollo shook his head.

“Sorry, she didn't come in here.”

“Damn.” How would he even go getting evidence like that, though? It wasn't as if he'd know where Mr Gavin kept dubiously legal bits of electronics. Could be in his house for all he knew.

Wait a second. Thinking about it, he had one usual clue he could think of: that microphone, back when he was getting info from the Cadaverinis. He'd gotten it from his office. And he'd shut the door after him when he'd gotten it so Apollo couldn't see in. Would that indicate something Apollo absolutely mustn't see? Like more of the chips that had mysteriously found his way into his phone?

He had a key to the office. And he hadn't been fired yet. It wouldn't even be illegal or anything to investigate his own workplace, right? The only area he wouldn't be able to access would be the locked drawers of Mr Gavin's desk. And, okay that was definitely illegal, but if he needed to, and it would get him somewhere..? Well, it couldn't be worse than assault. “Wocky,”, he said thoughtfully. “I don't supposed you'd be able to teach me how to pick locks?” Sure, one kind of criminal record didn't automatically indicate another. Wocky's mouth stretched into a wicked grin. But it was a pretty good place to start.



Ever the model of the worn down businessman, Apollo fumbled in his satchel for the keys to Gavin Law and let his suited self in. He flicked on the lights inside and resisted a cheeky wink at the security camera. It was nice and quiet inside, as expected from a law office at a little past midnight, the air only broken by him temporarily letting his bag drop onto the waiting couch so he could retrieve what he needed from inside. It was so easy to pick up little portable cameras these days; he'd got one from a camping store in the end, as it attached to a headband for hands free use when searching. And with that, he didn't need his phone for anything! “No, Mr Gavin, I didn't leave home tonight. Why'd you ask?” The camera beeped its awakening and, strapping it to his head and picking his satchel back up, he strode towards Mr Gavin's office.

Dark in there too. Apollo switched on the lights for recording purposes and shut the door behind him out of habit. Time to see what Mr Gavin was hiding in his drawers! Wait, that came out wrong. The top drawer was unlocked. It was, however, also only filled with basic stationery. He'd always wondered where Mr Gavin kept his pens. Simple curiosities aside, Apollo tried prying the bottom of the drawer to reveal the hidden area. Apparently the drawer was just a drawer and did not have a false bottom nor a hidden area. The top drawer was unceremoniously shut.

A car drove past outside, quiet and singular in the way that Apollo mostly associated with late nights. Yeah, wonder why that might be, idiot. He yawned and tried the next drawer down: locked. The others weren't, but were filled with similarly useless case files when he checked. Fumbling back in his satchel he took out the mangled paperclips Wocky had helped him shape earlier in the afternoon. Time to test out his skills! He knelt, and began to fiddle.

And kept fiddling.

And kept fiddling. He wasn't great at this, he had to admit. Wocky had said he was good at this stuff, right? He also thought he was the ultimate gangster, though... Apollo bent closer to the lock, pushing his ear as far forward as was comfortable to listen out for the tiny clicks that would indicate he was on the right track. Ah, that was one, maybe! His stupid, sweaty hand slipped on the paperclip and it fell to the floor. Apollo took a deep, calming breath before he picked it up again. Another car passed, its soft growl flowing through the room.

But the sound didn't stop. Apollo frowned, and yawned widely in case it was just his ears popping from fatigue or the start of a cold. The odd bubbling sound only continued to grow.

It was the coffee machine. It was unmistakably the sound of the office coffee machine.

Heart hammering in his throat, Apollo flailed with his paperclips. Okay, this was fine. He just needed a glimpse with his camera and he'd have evidence if it was tampered with, then he could run. His hands shook as he pushed in the clips one last time. And by some miracle it worked; the lock turned with the paperclips. He rushed the drawer open. Gotcha. A frantic look to the door while the coffee machine stopped its boiling and started to cool, and he rifled through the cables and the mic he'd used before and stopped, breathing hard as he lifted out a clear ziplock bag filled with silver chips. The nine little lifesavers glinted back at him from their plastic prison and without further delay he stuffed them in his satchel for safe keeping.

There were footsteps approaching now, he could hear. Out of time! Go, go, go! He slammed the drawer and stumbled upright, right as the door swung open.

Mr Gavin stood in the doorway, light glinting against his glasses, a steaming mug in one hand. “Now whatever are you doing here at this hour, Justice?” he asked casually, as if Apollo wasn't standing there terrified with a camera strapped haphazardly around his head. His hidden gaze bore into him.

“Um, collecting my things, sir?” Apollo tried. Just leave the doorway so he could get out!

“Really?” answered Mr Gavin, smiling, unmoving. “From my study?” Yeah, that stupid answer was on him.

“I could ask you the same question, sir! Why were you in the office with the lights off and everything locked up?” Mr Gavin tilted his head to the side, light finally shifting away from his glasses so Apollo could see the faraway look there.

“That' because, you see, the strangest thing happened to me today, Justice.” He still wasn't budging. “An acquaintance of mine called the office asking to speak to you. And they were ever so surprised to hear me pick up. They were under the distinct impression that I was in detention under suspicion of illegal surveillance, of all things.” Shit. He hadn't thought the phone guy would try to contact him again. Mr Gavin's smile shifted upon seeing Apollo's eyes widen, his lips pulling back from his teeth. “You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you, Justice?” Apollo stepped back from the desk, further away from the man in the doorway. “Now, Apollo,” Mr Gavin cooed, looking mockingly sympathetic. He took a step further into the room, immediately shutting the door before Apollo even stood a chance of reaching it. “I don't want to let you go. So why don't we sit and discuss this over a cup of coffee, hm?” He held forwards the single cup. Apollo suppressed a shiver as his mind filled with memories of his last big case, of what Klavier had told him about the sender of the yellow envelope, of every bit of reasoning as to why Mr Gavin wasn't offering to drink any himself.

“It's a bit late for coffee, isn't it, sir?” he chuckled nervously.

“It's a bit late for a lot of things,” Mr Gavin retorted instantly. “Yet here we are. Take the coffee, Justice.”

“I'd really rather not.” A moment of stillness.

“...I see. Well that is rather disappointing.” Mr Gavin moved forwards and set the coffee down on the desk. A moment of numbness, and Apollo suddenly realised that actually, no, he could and should leave right the hell now! He darted forwards, just as his hand brushed the door handle something heavy slamming across his stomach. Mr Gavin's arm curled around his midriff, dragging him back away. “Where do you think you're running off to, exactly?” he snarled. Apollo tried to claw the man off of him, unfocussed on the leg running behind him and with a jab to the back of one knee sending him careening back to slam on the desk with a yell.

“Get off!” Apollo screamed in protest, lashing out with his legs as best his could, aiming for the groin without remorse. He hit his mark, Mr Gavin momentarily flinching away before trying at a different angle; it was still enough time for Apollo to notice the hot coffee next to him, steaming away innocently in its fragile ceramic home. Eh, what was one more count of assault? He made a grab for the handle, slinging its contents forth!

He'd misjudged the angle. The coffee rushed right by Mr Gavin, only a few drops splattering across his thigh. And in the time it took to process his failure, he was set upon again, his back bent back across the desk, Mr Gavin's shaking arm firmly across his shoulders. Apollo tried again to kick back, hands scrabbling to get rid of his arm, his glasses, anything, but right now he was intensely aware of every inch Mr Gavin had on him in every direction. The twisted form of one leg pinned across his two, arm shoving him down and face held back as far as he could may not have been stable, but to hold a considerably smaller man down it was enough.

Mr Gavin took ahold of the coffee cup with his free hand, twisting it and wrenching it away from Apollo's grasp, sending the white porcelain to smash in the puddle of coffee seeping across the floor. Grinning in honest relief, the man shifted his weight, the edge of the desk digging further into Apollo's waist as he tried to slip down, and gripped Apollo's tie. And pulled.

The fabric slipped past his collar and Apollo screamed, scratching at the man's hands in any sort of hope of stopping the jerky tightening of tie around throat. Irritably Mr Gavin wound the fabric around his hand again and again and tugged tighter. Apollo barely managed to take the biggest breath he could before the pressure became unbearable. He couldn't... This couldn't be happening right now... Doing his best not to let the freezing panic grip his muscles still, Apollo kicked out, praying his attacker had forgotten about that, and he had, and Mr Gavin fell back slightly, but the tie still bound them together and only cut more into his skin. And it hurt! It hurt! And the reality was beginning to sink in, Mr Gavin's anxious face blurring through tears.

Then there was the sound of the front door opening. Two lines of sight rolled over in the direction the noise came from. “Thank God you're still here!” a man shouted. Apollo was too dizzy to place the voice at that moment. “I've got your payment right here, like I said I would, 'kay?!”

“I'll be through in a moment, Mr Shott,” Mr Gavin called back, turning his attention back to Apollo. Was... was it over then? Fair enough, right: just a little revenge for punching him yesterday? But he wasn't stopping. It wasn't stopping. He was going to run out of air with a witness only feet away.

No! Apollo flung his arms away from their last ditch hopes of loosening the tie around his neck, searching blindly shoving whatever he could off of the desk, the cacophony of both monitor and keyboard crashing away. He couldn't feel his fingers.

“You okay in there?” shouted Shott, oddly distantly, Apollo felt. His legs were so cold.

“Quite alright!” was the fuzzy reply. The sides of Apollo's vision were flashing in dark spots. His limbs had stopped responding to him as the sight of Mr Gavin breathing heavily faded farther away and finally dropped upwards into nothing.



Everything hurt. Apollo didn't much feel like opening his eyes. There was rough carpet against his cheek. And that hurt his cheek, but didn't explain why his throat felt like someone had jammed a hot poker down it. His hands were somewhere too, probably. The floor rumbled and tried to run away from him. That wasn't fair of it...

Wait, floors weren't supposed to move, were they? Heaving a sigh that wasn't quite signalling right to his lungs, he tried to open his eyes. Something unstuck, but nothing else changed. The floor jogged him, and his head jumped up and back down. Now the floor was trying to injure him? That was ridiculous... Apollo blinked again: still nothing. Had the floor blinded him? How horrible of it. Another jog and another time his head hit the floor. Fine. If that was how the floor was going to play it! He tried to kick the floor right back. It didn't do anything. He tried again. Why couldn't he move just one leg? Growling and failing he tried to roll over and fix the problem by using the other leg, but instead of more floor he felt his arms roll up with him and hit a wall that he still couldn't see. Where was this?

The room shuddered and he was pressed into the wall further before rolling back to the mercy of the carpet. After a moment, somewhere far away there was a voice. Maybe another person would be able to tell him where he was? He forced a loud greeting out his ragged throat, only coming out as a series of garbled nonsense. The voice promptly stopped. Then again. If only he could hear what they were saying, or see them, or something. Not one to give up so easily, he tried to shout again, with an attempt to push himself up to try and get their attention. The voice picked up, then another voice that grew closer, and a different voice that was familiar but he couldn't think right now. He tried to ask, and mid-gargle there was an explosion of bright light. He screwed his eyes shut against the intrusion. It made it worse to think. The second voice was loud and clear, but somehow didn't make sense, no more than his attempts at communication had. There was contact on his shoulder, then his hip, and he was changed to a direction that may have been up but swung wildly instead, as the first and third voice grew in volume. And then he was pretty sure he was pulled forwards before everything dissolved into white.

 

Chapter Text

Something was humming out in the darkness. Not the mechanical whir of a fan or the stop-start buzz of LA traffic, but something organic and faintly melodic. It was a pleasant way to wake up in the morning, Apollo thought. Beat being smothered by cat butt, anyway. He stretched his legs out against the mattress and sleepily opened his eyes.

This was not his bedroom. His bedroom was not bright white, nor did it have metal poles attached to the ceiling. The humming stopped and there was a movement at the edge of his vision. Apollo grabbed the plain blue duvet over him and pulled it up to his chin. He and Klavier Gavin blinked at each other.

“It seems the prince has finally awoken from his slumber,” Klavier commented. Apollo scoffed.

“I'm not up on my fairytales,” he said, voice painfully scratchy, “but I'm pretty sure you've got some details wrong there.” With a certain amount of effort, he scooted backwards so he could sit upright. The world span away into flashing colours for a moment, before returning him to what was definitely a hospital ward.

“Wahr, wahr, you have caught me in my lies. You haven't been asleep for a hundred years.”

“Lucky me.” From the combination of sitting up too fast, the bright lights, and presumably whatever reason he was doing in a hospital rather than anywhere else, Apollo was fairly sure his head was about to explode. Ugh, he remembered up to Mr Gavin walking in on his search, then the fight, then Mr Gavin's face while he held him down... Apollo dug the heels of his palms into his eyes and scrubbed, trying to burn the image back out of his memory. After that there were only things that felt more like dreams than any actual events. “How did I end up here?” he eventually asked. Klavier sighed and readjusted himself in his little plastic visitor's chair, suddenly deciding that a loose thread on his blazer pocket was the most interesting thing in the world.

“There was a breakout at the detention centre,” he said. “Traffic in the area was being diverted, and two officers on duty heard something strange when they stopped my brother. And then they found you in the trunk.” That would match up with the sort-of memories he had. “Apparently you then collapsed on one of them when he lifted you out, and vomited all over his shoes, so they rushed you to hospital.”

“I don't think I've ever been more glad to have been unconscious for something,” Apollo muttered to himself. “They... caught Mr Gavin driving my body off, then?” And wasn't that just a strange way to think of himself.

“Natürlich, he's been arrested.”

“I guess you're here for more information on what happened, then.”

“Not... professionally...” stammered Klavier. He had moved onto rhythmically twisting his loose thread. Why so nervous all of a- Hang on.

“If you're not here with the police,” Apollo started accusingly, “and you're not family... Did you break in-?!”

“Calling it that is a little extreme, nein?” Apollo folded his arms and waited with scepticism on his face. “I was simply able to persuade the receptionist that you might like some company.” Apollo let his silence judge in his words' stead. “With an autograph,” he added under his breath. Bribery!

“Ha! Your corruption has been exposed, prosecutor! You know, I should totally write all this down and upload it to your Gavinners forum and rake in the comments.”

“Actually, portraying the band members committing criminal acts is against the forum rules. You'd be banned instantly.” Apollo gaped at him.

“You know,” he said, “I've been thinking this for a while now, but don't you think some of the stuff around your band is a tad authoritarian?”

“The police are picky about their image, Herr Forehead.” Yeah, if only that extended to actual professionalism, everyone's jobs would be much simpler. “They need me to keep being a sparkling clean role model, ja?” To keep off the accusations of corruption? Because that totally worked. “Not that it's really true,” Klavier was still going, sheepishly. “After all, it's my fault you ended up like this...” Apollo stopped, and frowned.

“Back up a second there, Gavin. I don't remember you trying to... well I didn't see you at Gavin Law back... Um, what time is it now?” Klavier quickly checked his phone.

“About 6 in the evening, Wednesday.” Meaning he'd slept the best part of a day. He was pretty sure he'd been sleep deprived lately, but jeez, that sounded off.

“Right. I didn't even see you yesterday! You didn't even know I was going into work that night!” Klavier sighed heavily (there was a lot of that lately, wasn't there) and gazed up into the ceiling, bangs falling over his eyes.

“I'm still in the dark, but you wouldn't have gone there at night if you didn't know about the bug, nein?”

“Right..?”

“And you wouldn't know about the bug if I didn't open your phone-”

“I'm gonna stop you right there,” Apollo butted in. “I think I prefer knowing about the bug in my phone. 'Sides, if I didn't know about it I wouldn't have checked and been able to...” ...Unblock Clay's number and found out he thought he'd died- “Shit!” Apollo shouted, grappling at his blanket and utterly failing to retrieve his phone considering he not only lacked said phone, but also pockets. “He still doesn't know!” He jerked his head round to Klavier. “Can I borrow your phone? I seriously need to call Clay. As in, as soon as possible.” Dazed by the sudden change of tack, Klavier handed his weird metal and glass rectangle over. Apollo tapped clumsily at the screen, typing in a number he thankfully knew by heart, and called.

Please pick up despite what Apollo was ninety percent certain was a withheld number. The line rang once, twice, three times.

A click of live air. “...Hey?” It was so nice to hear Clay's voice again.

“Hey,” Apollo said back. “It's Apollo.” The pause that followed felt infinitely tenser than any of his court cases.

“Apollo?” Clay echoed. It was hard to discern his tone through the crackly phone line. “You're... Where are you? I came back because you weren't answering and you weren't answering the door either and your cat neighbour said she saw you leaving last night and you weren't back and she let us both in and your phone's still here and Mikeko's really-” He paused and line crackled again and Apollo belatedly realised Clay's voice had started to crack.

“I'm in the hospital,” Apollo said while Clay composed himself. There was another sniffly crackle and what he thought was Clay whimpering. Crap, that was probably the worst way to say it. “It's not what you think, I swear! It's just kinda... complicated and I'm using someone else's phone so- ugh, obviously I'm on someone else's phone; you can see mine right there.” He took a deep breath and swallowed in some sort of attempt to soothe his increasingly sore throat. “You were right, Clay. Mr Gavin tried to kill me.” Another silence.

“Whaddya mean I'm right?!” Clay yelled down the phone. Yep, he was definitely crying over there. “I thought the guy was a prick, not that he was down with murder! Jesus Christ, what the hell...” He trailed off, mumbling. Apollo chewed on his lip, feeling guilt of all things. This wasn't supposed to settle so quickly in his mind, was it? Half expecting him to be reading his mind, Apollo looked to watch Klavier's reaction. There was none; he didn't appear to be listening particularly intently. Maybe he shouldn't ask. Either he was alone in his idiocy or Klavier was stuck too.

Then again, he'd considered his brother spying on Apollo before Apollo being mistaken about what he'd said. Clay was still in the background of the call, his mumbles interspersed by another voice, and Mikeko's yowling. But if he'd expected it to get this far, then really he'd just let Apollo walk into danger! Truly, was it that surprising he'd willingly allied with Wright? No doubt this was just some selfish idea again to put him in jeopardy in order to bait Mr Gavin into looking like the bad guy. Apollo watched creases grow in the duvet cover as his hand tightened.

A tan hand settled itself next to his, careful not to touch. Apollo slammed back into reality. Back in his apartment block Clay shouted goodbyes to his neighbour and closed a door. What the hell was he thinking, 'looking like the bad guy'?! Apollo had been trying to run away! And so the guilt burned up into anger as Clay began to speak properly into the phone again. “Okay, you're fine right?” he sniffed. “I'm coming over. You're gonna be just fine! Say it with me 'Pollo!”

“I'm fine,” Apollo returned. He could feel Klavier's curious look burning into his cheek.

“I can't hear you all the way over there!” sang Clay.

“My throat is kinda threatening to give up on me right now,” he pointed out. Clay was managing to make his pout known despite the lack of visual feedback. Quite amazing really. “This is as loud as you're getting unless you turn the volume up on your end.” Clay let out a sarcastic little sigh.

“And here I thought I missed the responsible Apollo,” he teased. “...Guess I just missed the rest of you.” Apollo was suddenly very thankful that Klavier wasn't paying attention; he was sure he must've turned beet red. Clay coughed awkwardly. “I mean, uh...”

“N-no, that's, um-” He was mercifully interrupted by the door to his room opening and letting in a nurse and a police officer.

“Excuse me,” said the nurse sternly. “I'm going to have to ask you to put that away. Cellphones are not to be taken off of airplane mode in the ward to avoid interference with machinery.”

“Oh, um sorry, I'll just finish off-”

Sir.”

“Sorry!” He hurriedly hung up and thrust the phone at its owner.

“And Mr Gavin, you should have been told this on your way in.”

“Aha, wirklich?” Klavier chuckled sheepishly, accent heavily in place, playing with his hair just so. The nurse was not moved by his display. He ducked his head and went to change the settings. “Of course. Very sorry.”

“Actually, Prosecutor Gavin,” cut in the officer, who now Apollo looked closer, was wearing a forensics armband. “Can I ask you to step out entirely? I'm here for questioning!” Klavier looked anxiously at Apollo, who nodded.

“Can you go and text Clay which hospital we're actually at?”

“Do you need me to let him in as well?” The nurse was eyeing him suspiciously. Probably for the best. Apollo shook his head.

“He's down as my chosen representative. They should let him in just fine.” Apparently satisfied, Klavier nodded and stood to leave.

“How are you feeling, then, Mr Justice?” the nurse said monotonously as they peered at a clipboard near the head of his bed.

“Um, sore, mostly. My throat hurts a lot.”

“Yes, strangulation mixed with dry swallowing pills and subsequent regurgitation would cause that.”

“Sorry, what was that middle one?” He didn't exactly have a frame of reference, but he'd suspected asphyxiation alone wouldn't have made him feel as awful as he did.

“Ah, then you did not willingly take any sleeping medication last night?” interrupted the forensics officer.

“No,” Apollo answered. So he'd been knocked unconscious, thrown in the back of a car, and drugged?! The forensics officer nodded sagely. “I don't use sleeping pills; they never wear off in time for me to actually wake up again.” Maybe the dosages were just meant for larger people than him.

“Anything else that contains diphenhydramine as an ingredient?”

“...Can I just say I don't take any regular medications and have that cover it?”

“You certainly can, Mr Justice!” He took out a little black notebook and pen and began to write.

“If your body's completely unused to diphenhydramine,” said the nurse, “then quite frankly you owe your life to the officers that found you. You were in a critical state on your way in. You're very lucky they didn't wait around.” Great. Just keep on piling on the reasons he should be dead right now. “The IV's out now; you're not experiencing any itching around the area?” Apollo looked down at his arms in almost surprise. Sure enough, there was a small piece of gauze taped to his left bicep.

“You're all lucid and ready for questions, too, right, Mr Justice?” enthused the pushy forensics officer. Apollo's headache was already watching on the horizon, ready, waiting. “Brilliant! Ah, I should introduce myself first, shouldn't-”

“Let me guess: Prince.”

“Close,” grinned the forensics officer. “Joseph King, at your service.” Joseph..? Shortened to... “As you may have guessed, I am not on the best terms with my parents!”

“If it's any consolation,” Apollo said, doing his best not to snigger, “I've heard worse.”

“I take no comfort in the suffering of others,” King said gravely. “Now, about your actions yesterday...”



“Thank you very much for your cooperation, Mr Justice,” King said at long last. Apollo was beginning to wonder if he'd ever speak again or whether some sort of hole had burnt itself through his oesophagus as revenge for years of Chords of Steel exercises. “Remember, you'll need to be at Witness Lobby number three tomorrow.” Apollo nodded in acknowledgement. It was going to be weird on the other side of the system.

“Can I ask one last thing?” he croaked.

“Shoot!”

“They tested the coffee that got left on the floor in the office, right?”

“Sure did! Did it myself, actually! Can't leave unidentified substances lying around after all!”

“In that case, what was in it?” King tilted his head in confusion.

“What are you talking about? It was coffee.” Apollo frowned.

“J-just coffee? Just... plain old coffee?” He'd been convinced Mr Gavin had been offering him poison, and it really was just coffee?!

“Yep,” King continued unaware. “Checked for diphenhydramine: nada. Came up clean after preliminary tests for major common poisons too. Regular levels of caffeine for a drip brew. Completely unrelated to the case, really. That all?” Apollo didn't answer, continuing to stare at his hands in his lap. “Alright then, I'll get out of your hair!” Did that mean Mr Gavin hadn't even been intending to kill him? There had to be something in the sequence of events that proved he wasn't just being paranoid all that time, right? Rejected coffee, ran, held back... Why had he thrown the coffee? It was just blending together like the day before when he'd punched behind him for no good reason. Was it all just self defence? Why couldn't he be sure?

“Herr Terran said he's a bit stuck in traffic,” sounded a voice from the doorway. And he'd been caught falling into his navel again. He really needed to work on that.

“Sorry for making you play messenger.”

“Kein Problem,” Klavier returned without hesitation. Tapping at his thigh, he continued to stand by the open door.

“If you want to come back in, you can, you know.” Klavier's fingers jumped in their rhythm. “If you don't mind me not talking much.” Apollo gestured with a few fingers against his throat. But, maybe having company right now was for the best. With a grateful smile the door shut behind Klavier as he returned to his bedside chair. “Did you know Prosecutor Edgeworth is prosecuting?”

“I wasn't aware, nein.” He didn't look as put out as Apollo expected. Surely Apollo couldn't be the only one suspicious of the Wright connection? “I suppose it's not much of a surprise; from what I know of the man and his portfolio he does seem to revel in taking the biggest of cases.” He smirked. “And you've sampled some of the rest of our legion of brave defenders of justice, ja, Herr Forehead?”

“From the amount of sarcasm I'm hearing, I'm guessing you don't care for people like Payne.”

“Paynes, multiple,” Klavier corrected. Apollo gave him an odd look.

“There's more than one of him?” he asked tentatively.

“You've... Apollo, you've stood against both of them.”

“Have I?!”

“You've lost against both of them. They bring it up every time I see their selbstgäfallig, gottverlassen faces.” Apollo pursed his lips and watched on in intrigued silence. “Apparently it's now my shortcoming that they worm their ways into the simplest cases they can and think preying on rookies is a sport despite still being in positions of public trust! But ach, of course having any sense of fair play is something to ridicule!”

“Didn't at least one of them lose to Phoenix Wright after he was whacked over the head by a fire extinguisher? I think the article said it was a Payne, anyway.” He had to admit he hadn't paid much attention to anything beyond the very catching headline. Sue him, he'd been browsing the courthouse's library for hours at that point.

“Please remember, Herr Justice, who it was that managed to discredit Herr Wright's entire career.”

“Oh, right.” Klavier huffed bitterly.

“Actually, I'll think you'll find it was-” Apollo realised his poor wording.

“That was meant to be the word, not the name,” he quickly added. Klavier's little smirk betrayed him.

“Ich weiß.” Jeez, the world was lucky 'Klavier Gavin' couldn't be punned so easily. At least, not in English. And he refused to look up whatever German word 'Klavier' apparently was on moral grounds at this point. “Though, I suppose I'll keep the fire extinguisher trial in mind once it's usable again.”

“Usable again?” Apollo questioned. “Does that mean you're trying to... undiscredit Phoenix Wright? That's, uh, a bit much isn't it? Considering he literally gave me forged evidence in my first trial. Sorry, Gavin, but I have no intention on letting that drop under the radar.”

“I'll admit,” said Klavier, clicking his tongue, “I'd forgotten about that.”

“What, did he mysteriously neglect to mention it when you were meeting up in prison?” Klavier shifted his eyes away. “What a surprise,” Apollo muttered under his breath.

“Still, I should at least try to repent for my own actions, nein?” Fair enough.

“Well... just remember not to go too far the other way, yeah? If this started off from trusting Mr Gavin's faulty information, don't go straight into Phoenix Wright's convenient half-truths.”

“I promise I'm being careful about this,” Klavier smiled.

“Is this 'careful' on a delayed timer or something?” Apollo harrumphed. “Because unless I'm seriously mistaken, 'this' has already put me in hospital. Just in case you were having trouble following along at home.” Klavier's face drooped.

“Ach, that...” No, actually he couldn't take the kicked puppy face.

“Sorry, that's unfair of me-”

“Nein, I dragged you into-”

“You obviously weren't offering; I dragged myself-”

“You know, Herr Forehead, this type of conversation really is becoming a problem of ours-”

“Well it wouldn't be a problem if you could just accept I'm-”

“Every time you've told me you're something negative, it's over something so trivial-”

“Trivial doesn't mean-” Apollo cut himself off and ran a hand over his face. “This is going nowhere.” Plus his throat was burning again.

“I can agree with you there.” Apollo grimaced and reached for a cup of water the nurse had been nice enough to bring him during his interrogation.

“Did it at least work this time?” Klavier tilted his head questioningly. “The letter, I mean. Was my dumb suicide mission worth anything?” Again Klavier winced before managing to break into a smile.

“Ja, actually.” Apollo gestured for him to go on, still sipping. “The letter indicated the victim's daughter had been acting strangely, which he believed had some connection to Kristoph. So we brought the Fräulein back in for further questioning. The officer who'd detained her when the initial crime was reported hadn't checked a nail polish bottle she'd been carrying. When she began painting her nails as we talked, I had the bottle tested and sure enough, it was laced with with atroquinine.”

“She was painting her own nails with poison?” Apollo asked incredulously. Klavier nodded.

“It's a fairly ingenious method, nein? Obviously we had to remove the polish before properly arresting her; a simple cut by her drying nails would spell certain death.” Add that to the reasons to dislike the smell of newly applied nail polish. “It was a quick trial once we swapped suspects,” Klavier continued wistfully. “She wouldn't even answer any of the defence's questions trying to explain away her possession of the bottle.” He sighed. “So at least officially, Fräulein Misham is guilty of premeditated murder.”

“And unofficially?” Apollo continued for him. Klavier's face tightened.

“Unofficially, have you ever heard the name 'Ariadoney' before?” Apollo frowned.

“It rings a bell...” A very specifically enunciated bell... “I think Mr Gavin mentioned it when I was asking about something on his desk... It's a brand of nail polish, isn't it.”

“Natürlich.”

“The same one that Ms Misham had?” he added as a guess.

“And also is far too expensive for what it is!” Apollo hadn't expected that sort of sentiment to come from someone with a solid metal pendant of his own band's logo hanging around his neck at all times. Maybe it was a brand-specific thing.

“Oh boy.”

“Since she should have knowledge of her father's forgery operation,” he continued, “there's grounds for continued questioning anyway. Hopefully in a less... intimidating environment she'll be more talkative.”

“Would you even be able to follow up if you're right and your brother is involved in whatever weird enormous scheme's going on? Wouldn't conflict of interest kick in?”

“Ah, but if I get far enough to need to be booted, then I've done my job, nein?” Apollo hummed in thought. “And if tomorrow goes well, perhaps I'll need to prove that bit less to be taken seriously.”

“Well that's not pressuring or anything,” Apollo said snidely. For the however-many-th time that day, Klavier's eyes flew wide and he opened his mouth to respond. Apollo held up his hand. “Sorry. Joke. You currently do not have permission to apologise.”

Thankfully, before they managed to get into another bickering match about whose fault it was this time, the pair were interrupted by the metallic rattle of the door handle. And then in came Clay, breathing hard and looking wildly over at Apollo. Time froze, and started up again and somehow Apollo was fairly sure nothing existed in the space between then and him being smothered by an entire astronaut. His head buried itself firmly into the crook on Apollo's neck, mass of hair tickling his nose, and for that moment Clay was much quieter than Apollo usually saw him.

Several seconds later, Apollo had to tap on Clay's shoulder. “Dude,” he croaked. “Can't breath. Please take weight off chest.” Clay shot back apologetically, hitting something with his foot and sending a clang around the room.

“Shit, wasn't thinking!” hissed Clay, face blotchy in the halogen light.

“No, it's fine, seriously-”

“Do you need something to sort that out? Like, can I get you anything or-”

“Clay,” Apollo said as firmly as he could. “I'm fine. You're just kinda heavy. And I'm kinda tired.” Clay nodded, and his breathing slowed down, shoulders relaxing. Apollo bit his lip, looking away nervously and reaching for his water. “This... probably needs a bit of an explanation, huh.”

“...Beyond the 'my boss literally tried to kill me' thing? 'Cause, I mean no offense but I think that's on the asshole boss end not yours so you don't need to really say more if you don't want to-” Apollo sighed.

Definitely beyond that.” And wow, he only had two days of explaining to do and it still seemed massive. Looking around, he continued, “I think there was another seat in here...” Klavier helpfully pointed to the stack in the corner. Clay shot the guy a thumbs up and went to grab a chair. Then paused. Then turned and stared.

“Is that Klavier Gavin?”

“Hallo,” said Klavier Gavin unenthusiastically.

“Apollo, why-”

“You already know I know him, Clay.”

“Yeah, but... Wait, have you apologised for calling my man here uncool yet?” Clay pointed very accusingly at a very confused Klavier.

“Wie bitte?” Apollo sat by, also very confused. When had he ever..? Hold on. A recollection of miserable rereading of text messages was returning to him.

“Clay, that was one time, literally months ago!” Klavier looked at him pleadingly. “Back in the Kitaki trial,” Apollo helpfully explained. “I can't even remember what it was about now; it's not like it was a big deal.” Clay had folded his arms and was now squinting between them.

“Well, ah, I'm sorry for calling you uncool back then?”

“You don't remember either, do you.”

“I have said many things in court that I have since forgotten.” Apollo chuckled, shaking his head lowly.

“Well, thanks anyway Clay for defending my honour,” he said sarcastically. “Several months late, by the way. After we'd forgotten about it anyway.” Clay shot finger guns over one shoulder as he turned to actually retrieve his chair. Apollo had to admit though, the air didn't feel as tense now. Now he just had to hope Clay didn't suddenly realised this now meant he had access to Klavier's number. “You sitting comfortably?” Apollo asked as Clay wiggled into the nasty looking hospital chair.

“No,” Clay answered cheerfully. “Seriously, my butt is already going numb from this thing.”

“Tough. I have things to tell.” Apollo grabbed at his water, kind of wishing he'd actually planned out a way of explaining the next part. “Right, you know how-”

“Should Klavier Gavin still be in here?” Clay interrupted.

“He knows pretty much everything anyway, so sure.

Anyway, you know how I've only sent one message to you in the past month?” Clay nodded solemnly. “Um, I'm really sorry about that. I literally didn't see any of your messages until two days ago. Your number got blocked.” Clay frowned while Apollo took a preparatory sip of water. “And I... I'm fairly sure Mr Gavin did that. I left my phone at work a bit after that big argument and I think he might've got into it to block you. And it's not just...” He could feel his throat starting to close up again, eyes prickling as he stared determinedly at the surface of the water in the glass as it shook.

“Deep breaths, 'Pollo,” Clay said softly, hand coming to rest on his upper arm. “I'm not angry, 'kay?”

“I know that,” Apollo snapped reflexively. “Sorry, it's not just that, it's everything before and...” Deep breaths, Apollo. “I swear I'm not bringing this up to argue about it again-”

“That's not the best way to brace someone for bad news, you know.”

“Give me a break; I'm in hospital for crying out loud,” Apollo snorted. Another deep breath. “That time you picked me up from the office and didn't do anything wrong but Mr Gavin said you insulted him?” Clay's eyebrows flew up. “And I totally believed him because it sounded like something you absolutely could've said and you proved earlier you're exactly the type of person who would bring it up?” Clay opened his mouth to retort; then Klavier raised an eyebrow at him; then he closed his mouth. “There was an actual reason he knew to do that, and why he kept calling me when I was with you.”

“Was telepathy the right answer after all?” Clay joked worriedly.

“It's probably for the best it's not.” Seriously, he didn't want to think of the damage a psychic Mr Gavin could bring to court tomorrow. “He was bugging my phone instead! Isn't that just great?!” After several different choices, Clay's face finally settled somewhere between disgust and concern.

“Do you know how long this has been going on?”

“Potentially since December!” Apollo cheered. “Maybe even before then with a different device! I don't actually know!” With a final twitch, Clay's face relaxed, and he nodded.

“I see,” he said calmly. He got to his feet. “Well, I'm just off to kill your boss now so-”

“YOU CAN'T KEEP SAYING STUFF LIKE THAT IN FRONT OF LEGAL PROFESSIONALS!”

“It's fine,” Clay insisted. “Just as long as you two deny anything, yeah?”

“Herr Terran, as a state prosecutor I have a duty to report my suspicions about any murderous intent you may or may not have.” Clay looked at Klavier in disbelief, then turned to Apollo.

“I thought he's a rockstar; is he always this much of a stick in the mud?”

“You get used to it,” he shrugged. Clay pouted and sunk back into his seat, head falling into his hands.

“My dreams have been dashed to pieces, you monsters,” he said sullenly.

“Would've thought you'd learned your lesson after you found out Sol dyed his hair to get that colour,” Apollo said smugly. That had been a strange conversation indeed.

“How was I supposed to know?! I'd been hanging out with you for years at that point! My standards for how hair works had long been destroyed!” Klavier cleared his throat.

“Sorry, but why would being around Herr Justice destroy your standards for how hair works?”

“He means the spikes,” Apollo explained, flicking them in demonstration. They were currently all limp, and one flopped dramatically downwards and bounced over his forehead. Served him right for going an entire day without hair gel. “They're just always there no matter what I do, you know? Like the Gavin Drill.” Klavier blinked at him suspiciously. “You know...” Apollo twirled his finger down his shoulder.

“Apollo, we have to do that ourselves.” Apollo tilted his head, confused.

“It's... not natural?”

“Not at all! Do you have any idea how long it takes to do in the morning?” Apollo blinked. Then blinked again. Then turned to stare straight ahead.

“I've been accidentally internally insulting my boss' appearance for nearly four years,” he announced to the world at large. The laughter that followed from Clay was infectious.



Apollo was definitely thankful to have been discharged in time to sleep in his own bed that night. It was difficult enough to sleep as was since his body clock had been thrown out so thoroughly. But no, the comfort and security of his own sheets in his own apartment, with his best friend taking the couch and the place of his alarm (his phone had been taken into evidence at last) made for a good night's rest and an awake, if antsy, Apollo.

“C'mon, hurry up, 'Pollo!” Clay called from the other room. “Cars have traffic problems to deal with you know!”

“Got it!” Apollo yelled back, adjusting his old red waistcoat, back on his torso where it belonged. Something still felt wrong, though... He stared at himself in the mirror on the inside of the closet door. Spikes sharp, suit neat, missing tie compensated for by carefully unbuttoned shirt collar. Ah, yes, that was it.

He tugged open his sock drawer, patting around at the back until his fingers found what they were looking for. With a grunt, he pulled his precious bracelet out into the light and slipped it over his wrist. He smiled at his reflection. Apollo Justice: ready to face the world.

 

Chapter Text

Witness Lobby three had a much comfier couch than any of the defence lobbies, Apollo couldn't help but note. Stupid judicial favouritism. Prosecutor Edgeworth had briefed him on the questions he would be asking in court when he arrived, before promptly abandoning him and Clay in the lobby without further ado. Apollo decided to be optimistic about the brush off, and assume it was just because Prosecutor Edgeworth knew Apollo knew how trials worked by that point.

Somewhere a few walls away went quiet and stopped a babble Apollo hadn't realised was there. Hopefully that was his trial so he would get to stop stewing soon. Sure enough, the door to the lobby opened to let in a bailiff, who promptly threw up their hands and apologised for getting the wrong lobby. The door shut on them again. Clay released a bored sigh.

“You do have your gallery ticket, right?” Apollo asked. “You could go watch the early bits if you want.”

“Nah,” Clay replied, sheepishly fiddling in his pocket. “Your boss'll be in there already, right? I'm not looking at his face anymore than I have to today.” Apollo chuckled despite himself.

“Fair enough.” He sighed. “Once I leave Gavin Law you are gonna have to call him by his actual name, you know.” Clay's mouth twisted up.

“Like hell I am. I'll have you know I'm working on my clever literary references for him as we speak.”

“...Have you got past Harry Potter allegories yet?”

“I said I'm working on it!”

“That's a 'no', then.” Apollo reached idly for his phone, yet again remembering he didn't have one right now, and instead slouched back to stare at the ceiling. There was a mysterious brown stain that was starting to grow mould. Other than that it was a totally uninteresting, totally ordinary ceiling. “Thanks for skipping work so you can stay and watch, by the way.”

“Don't mention it, buddy. I'd stick with you even if we weren't friends.” Apollo frowned, and turned to narrow his eyes suspiciously at Clay.

“The existence of that second sentence is suggesting something, you know.” Clay grinned anxiously.

“That's, uh, yeah turns out abandoning the whole schedule NASA set up for us without due warning has a bit of a fee except in a few special circumstances. As in literally thousands of dollars.” Apollo blinked on owlishly. “And apparently best friend emergencies aren't in those circumstances. And our funding for the program is mixed up in federal grants so...”

“Clay, what the hell-”

“Basically if anyone from GYAXA asks, I am on the brink of horrible pukey death right now, and you are looking after me while I am in your apartment suffering. Unless it's Sol or Aura asking. They're down with this.” Apollo rubbed at his eyes. Why was everything surrounding his life so dramatic?

“Sure,” he said once he'd finished questioning reality. “I promise I'll cover for you. But you're gonna have to come up with a good reason for being in the courthouse.”

“Secret clone robot,” Clay answered without hesitation.

“That's just- Actually, no, if Dr Blackquill's involved that's totally believable.”

“Shame I can't make my face glow. That'd be fun.”

“That would be terrifying. Please stick to normal facial expressions.”

“Killjoy.”



“Court is back in session for the trial of Kristoph Gavin.”

The witness stand was a scary place. The judge and gallery loomed from all sides, the prosecution and defence far enough away to feel closed off, the light from high above directed all towards him. Plus it didn't help Mr Gavin was sitting off at the edge of his peripheral vision, roughly the closest person to him. If only he could have a 'friendly chat' with whoever set that up.

“Witness, please state your name and occupation.”

“Apollo Justice. I'm a defence attorney, currently employed at Gavin Law Offices.” The words barely registered as being from him. Had it really been too much to expect from himself to not drift away within a minute of being in the courtroom? Mr Gavin had twitched; the small motion tugged his eyes that way stronger than it had any right to. Deep breaths, Apollo. You're fine, right? This was just another day in court!

“Very well.” Apollo wished he could read Prosecutor Edgeworth to some degree. Between him and the defence attorney Mr Gavin had no doubt painstakingly chosen, there were so many unknown reactions. “Mr Justice, for now please testify about your experience on the night of the crime.” 'Experience'. Like it was a skydiving trip or something. Apollo nodded and wet his lips anxiously. The defence leaned forwards minutely. Man, watching someone else in his place was already distracting.

“I went to Gavin Law late on Tuesday night, just after midnight-”

“Wednesday, then,” interjected Edgeworth calmly. Apollo frowned.

“I guess, technically, yes?”

“Prosecutor Edgeworth, please let the witness speak,” said the judge.

“Apologies, Your Honor. I was hoping to clear the issue up now before anyone would opportunistically make use of it later on.” Apollo faintly wondered whether everyone with glasses did that patronising little head shake. “Continue, witness.”

“So I went to Gavin Law just after midnight. I was going in to search for evidence of wiretapping by Mr Gavin to corroborate what I already had.” Up in the gallery the crowd had already begun to murmur. He probably had power, huh. His own protégée, accusing him of wiretapping: damning evidence to say the least. “While searching a locked drawer of his desk, I found and took several of the devices I was looking for. Unfortunately at that moment I heard someone approaching, and Mr Gavin entered the study. He offered me coffee, and when I refused and tried to leave instead, he grabbed me and pushed me over the desk.” The gallery kept echoing. Why were they the only ones? Why was the defence so silent? “I tried to fight him off but he grabbed my tie and strangled me to unconsciousness. I don't remember much after that until I woke up in hospital, but I know I was found drugged up in Mr Gavin's car-”

“Please stick to what you remember, Mr Justice,” the defence attorney spoke at last. “There are enough doubts surrounding your recollection of events as is, never mind adding hearsay to the mix.” Ah, so that was how he was going to be wrong today; he was 'mistaken'.

“I'd love to give some non-hearsay testimony about that part,” he snarked back, “but unfortunately I was unconscious from being drugged up in the back of Mr Gavin's car.” The judge's gavel cut through his words.

“Mr Justice, you are a lawyer yourself,” he said. “You should realise Ms Cox's point.” So that was her name.

“Sorry, Your Honor,” Apollo smiled tiredly up at the judge's seat. “I'll admit I'm a bit stressed out from this whole thing. It's not every day your boss strangles you and forces a lethal amount of sleeping pills down your throat, you know?” If he could convince the judge more than himself, that was fine.

“Ah, that's understandable,” the judge answered gently. “Let me know if this is getting too trying for you.” That was all it took from down here?! Holy shit, being a witness was amazing!

“My, that's certainly a level of emotional manipulation I hadn't expected from you, Justice,” chided Mr Gavin, softly and sweetly.

“I learned only from the best, sir,” Apollo smiled graciously back. He hoped to everything he was imagining Clay's cheer there. Nope, the others were looking too. Dammit.

“Before this discussion goes further,” Edgeworth interrupted, “I believe now is an appropriate time to submit Mr Justice's evidence to the court record: his cell phone, which has both a wiretap and a GPS tracker attached, and a taped recording of a statement from the business believed to have sold several wiretaps to Mr Kristoph Gavin. Hopefully this should supplement-”

“What about the rest?” Apollo asked. Edgeworth halted, shock taking brief hold instead. “I had a camera with me the whole time I was in there, and I said I found the remaining wiretaps; I put them in my bag before I tried to run! Hell, there's CCTV in the office; that should've caught Mr Gavin moving my body!” Then he stopped himself. And felt a wave of cold dread rush across him. They didn't find them. They couldn't find them.

“Hm, you hadn't been in all day, had you, Justice?” Mr Gavin commented. “I suppose it makes sense for you not to know. I'm afraid our security cameras went down on Tuesday: a technical glitch that still has yet to be fixed, thanks to you.” As part of him somewhere deep inside expected, there was a squeeze on his wrist as a few wrinkles in Mr Gavin's suit appeared. Liar.

“Suspicious sentiments aside,” Edgeworth continued, “and as much as I hate to say, the defendant's words hold up to investigation. All recording appears to have ceased mid-afternoon.” Probably after the phone guy had tried to call back. Damn it! “As for a camera and the suspected wiretaps? There was some further investigation after you were questioned yesterday. We found nothing of the sort.” So it had been for nothing after all. Apollo stared limply at the witness stand, letting his eyes travel across the wood grain with his thoughts. He'd nearly died for the chance for Mr Gavin to get rid of the evidence.

“Now,” said Cox with a cheery clap, reading off a sheet in front of her. “Let's get down to breaking this up, okay Mr Justice?” Jeez, she didn't have to sound so sadistic about it. “Unfortunately for you, my client has already testified about his actions that night. He was quite alone in his office during the time frame you've laid out.”

“Objec-”

“Ms Cox, you can't have been in practice very long if you've never had a client lie to you,” Apollo cut in over the prosecution. Seriously, this was what Mr Gavin was replacing him with? Pathetic.

Edgeworth just coughed this time round. “As I was about to say, the defendant's word does not hold precedence over the witness'. If the defence has neither questions nor evidence, then I suggest it keep quiet.” Cox made a placating motion with one hand.

“Please don't interrupt me while I'm still talking, Prosecutor Edgeworth.” She held another piece of paper up. “The defence has its witness too, for your information. Bill Shott, a client of Gavin Law was in the building at around half past midnight as well. While he's unavailable to take his place on the stand in person until later today, I do have an official statement from him stating he met Kristoph Gavin and no one else.” Shott... Shott... Ah, yes, he'd almost forgotten.

“Please submit this to the court record, Ms Cox,” said the judge. Cox bowed politely, and handed a copy to the bailiff. “Mr Justice?”

“Yeah, actually there's a reason he only met Mr Gavin. I heard him come in but couldn't call back due to my boss strangling me. Next time I find myself in that position, I'll make sure to telepathically communicate a little clearer, promise!” Chuckling worked its way around the gallery, the sound pooling comfortingly around him. “But if you want proof I heard him, I don't need to see his statement to tell you he came in to pay Mr Gavin. And hopefully he mentioned the loud crash I caused. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the defence didn't mention that.” Edgeworth carefully read over his copy of Shott's statement, eyebrows raised all the while.

“It shouldn't come as a shock that the witness is correct,” he smirked, eyes affixed across the courtroom.

“A well educated guess from a man who often deals with the invoices of our clients,” Mr Gavin said dismissively. “I would expect no worse deductive reasoning from a pupil of mine.” Before prosecution or witness had a chance to butt in, he continued with a thoughtful hand on his glasses, “Though I must wonder just what that noise was... Ah, yes, I remember now. I knocked my coffee off my desk.” Predictably, Apollo's wrist seized again. Yes, muscle spasms, he didn't need the reminder right now. His memories may've been a bit jumbled, but Mr Gavin had left the cake and was taking the piss now.

“Objection, sir,” Apollo said deadpan. Really, that wasn't even worth wasting his Chords of Steel on. “I think you'll find the coffee stain is from you offering me coffee, like I've already said.” Mr Gavin smiled smugly and shook his head.

“Now, Justice, I'm sure the police only found one shattered cup, and no evidence of any others having been used that night. Why would I offer someone else coffee and only bring one cup? That's rather rude, no?” Apollo fought down the urge to punch something, forcibly unballing his fists and pressing them into his sides. He was trying to be the good one in this scuffle. No point ruining that so fast. And for goodness' sake, had Mr Gavin always been this annoying in court?! But it didn't matter; he was going to look his best to ruin his mentor's reputation!

He couldn't call him that right now. This wasn't ruining his mentor's life, just helping a friend with a case. Acting in his client's (read: his) best interests! That was all!

Edgeworth was tutting. “Gavin, lying will get you nowhere in this court. Your Honor, if you would direct your attention once again to the photo of the crime scene. That coffee stain in particular.”

“Ah! That's quite the distance from the desk! Even I wouldn't be able to knock my coffee that far!” Had His Honor tried? Either way, Apollo smugly crossed his arms as Mr Gavin flinched again, before switching the movement to brush something off his shoulder.

“It'd make much more sense,” Apollo jumped in, “if, for instance, someone had tried to throw it to fend off an attacker, right?”

“But that stain is massive!” the judge marvelled. “The entire cup had to have missed to cause something of that size!” Apollo felt his smile tighten and twitch.

“I said they 'tried', not that they succeeded, Your Honor.” Another ripple of laughter. “Besides, if it had worked, I would've been able to run away with an easy self-defence case and a bunch of evidence.”

“So you truly are set on incriminating yourself like this,” Mr Gavin mumbled suddenly. Apollo whirled around where he stood to watch the man. Mr Gavin peered back at him. “Hm? Is there something I can help you with, Apollo?” Belatedly Apollo realised people were staring. He shook his head and faced back forwards. What was he up to now..?

“Your Honor, I believe this is proof enough that a struggle took place in Gavin Law Offices that night?” The judge nodded seriously at the prosecutor's words.

“Indeed,” he mused. “Considering what little evidence we have, and although much of what Mr Justice believes to have existed has since disappeared, I do believe the witness was attacked in his place of work. And while it saddens me to say this to any upstanding member of the legal community, Mr Gavin, by all we know thus far, it seems clear that you were that attacker. Considering the state the witness was finally found in, I don't doubt you had murderous intent.”

“Just a moment, Your Honor,” Mr Gavin said, getting smoothly to his feet. And there is was. This just wasn't going to be easy, was it. Mr Gavin sighed and regretfully lowered his head. “I... I suppose I should've expected this to happen some time or another.” He gazed sadly towards Apollo, pressure slowly building around his wrist. “I hope you can forgive me, Justice; you can see I tried my best.” Mr Gavin sighed and looked askance again, voice continuing its saccharine drip. “There's something I should confess about my apprentice. You see, while I care for Apollo a great deal, keeping his secrets is not something I wish to suffer prison for: certainly not when he seems to take every opportunity he can to self sabotage despite my efforts.”

A sickly sense of deja vu was beginning to settle around Apollo now. When he stopped focussing it he could practically see its miasma as he was ushered to take a seat near the prosecution bench and his boss was guided silently to the stand to turn the case back away from him. Almost six months exactly now... and yet it hardly felt different. Despite everything that changed since then, why was it still repeating?



They'd had a brainstorm together in hospital the previous evening, Apollo and Klavier and Clay, over their grand strategy for the trial.

“So it can't look like a fluke, right?” Apollo had mused. “It has to look like he could kill someone that wasn't me?” Clay had huffed at that, kicking a foot against one leg of his chair childishly.

“It's pretty obvious, isn't it? You guys have seen the way he acts, right? It's like an iceberg and a vampire had a baby that went to finishing school.”

“That is strangely specific,” Klavier had mumbled.

“You missed the bit where the baby is now incredibly charismatic and could sell ice to a polar bear.”

“I think you'll find that with the heavily reduced ice caps-” Apollo had stared him down. “Okay, sorry. General population are ice-starved polar bears. I remain a grizzly.”

“Doch... Herr Terran, you may have a point.”

“I do? Sweet.”

“That coolness is my brother's whole image, nein? 'The Coolest Defence in the West'. But should we apply the heat? Cause some cracks in his facade? It's quite amazing the ways the media can spin a meltdown-”

“Gavin, are you really proposing your plan via the medium of ice puns?”

“Take it or leave it, Herr Forehead.”

“Listen, puns aside, the last time I tried baiting someone into incriminating themself, I got stabbed in the court bathroom. There's gotta be a better way than that.”

“You could also just stand there looking cute and sad until he confesses everything he's ever done?”

“I'm not Vongole, I'm a twenty-two year old man!” Klavier had looked confused, hurt even.

“Kristoph told you about Vongole but not me?”

You don't try to eat tennis balls and need emergency trips to the vet on trial days.”

“That-”

“So have we got anything past annoying him or kidnapping his dog and making it cry?” Clay had butted in, breaking up what had otherwise been threatening to become another bickering match.

“We're not making Vongole cry,” the other two had said in unison.

While they'd never really progressed past that point, they'd all agreed that even if Mr Gavin looked good by the end of the trial, at least a guilty verdict was a shoe in. He'd been caught red-handed after all.



The judge called for silence. Apollo spotted a motion up in the gallery and smiled at Clay's waving back at him. At least he could be sure someone in here was on his side; he still couldn't get a read on Prosecutor Edgeworth, and the judges here were always gullible as humans came.

“Very well, defendant,” Edgeworth said grimly. “By all means enlighten us as to the reason you continue to delay the inevitable.”

“Careful, Mr Edgeworth,” Mr Gavin chuckled. “I think you'll find your personal biases are showing, hm?” Looked like Apollo had been right to be wary. Edgeworth brought one hand down, palm flush to the bench. “Now, now, patience is a virtue.”

“And wasting the court's time is a punishable offence. Your testimony.” Mr Gavin smiled, eyes closed, and adjusted his folded arms.

“Ah yes, now where to begin about my apprentice? You must understand I've been very concerned for him as of late.” Yeah, so was Apollo. Slightly different reasons, he guessed. “I fear he has... 'fallen in with the wrong crowd', shall we say.” Oh no. Apollo could see where this was headed from a mile away. After all, how else did you win a trial if not by pinning the blame on someone else?

“Leave the Kitakis out of this, sir,” he burst without thinking. Of course he'd bring them up. He'd brought the damn phone right to them. “They're not involved and you know it.” Mr Gavin looked pityingly at him, that somehow piercing stare that weighed down on Apollo's shoulders. But they really weren't involved... Well, not like he was implying, anyway!

“As I was saying before I was so carelessly interrupted, Justice has appeared to have fallen far too close with what can only be described as a family of mobsters.”

“Objection!” Apollo yelled, jumping to his feet. He could already hear a bailiff walking towards him. “The Kitakis have been clear of organised crime for-”

“Justice, do save your chittering for when it's more suited. This trial is hardly place for your strange allegiance to the Kitakis, now is it?” Apollo glared, gritted teeth, as the bailiff finally reached him and eased him back down.

I would argue,” Edgeworth picked up, arms folded and sternly looking down his nose at the witness stand, “that this trial is more suited for finding the truth, certainly not the gossip you appear to be trying to sell us.”

“Indeed, Mr Gavin,” chimed the judge. “Right now, you're doing little more than trying my patience.” A brief bolt of irritation passed the man's face. “However, Mr Justice, if you interrupt again, I will have to ask you to leave the courtroom.”

“Sorry, Your Honor.” He was getting too easily baited, he knew. But he was a lawyer! It was in his nature to object to injustices! Forcibly he shoved his hands into his lap and stared at them.

“To cut things short,” Mr Gavin continued, “I find Justice has been... increasingly violent this past month. The boy's always had something of a temper, as you've no doubted noted.” He paused to let the gallery laugh for him. It wasn't supposed to turn like this! “To the point on Monday he quite clean punched me in the face, with no provocation I'm aware of. Thankfully I suffered no lasting damage, though footage should still exist thanks to the office's security cameras.” Apollo shrunk a little into his chair, ignoring Edgeworth's disbelieving look, blocking out the horrified muttering of the crowd. Calm, Apollo. No interrupting until the judge forgets about his threat. “And, well, it was a similar event that took place that fateful Tuesday or Wednesday night.” Just stay quiet and take mental notes. This wasn't a murder mystery this time round. “He burst into my office, saying he wanted to talk, awfully angry. I offered to make him a cup of coffee so we could discuss his grievances in a more amicable setting, but when I tried to leave the room he took ahold of me and threw my own cup at me!” Calm. Thoughts. Apollo. “Upon realising he'd missed he tried to attack again, so fearing for my life I attempted the safest way to knock another person out I know: pressure on the neck.”

“So you admit to strangling the victim?” said the judge, eyes wide.

“Only to de-escalate the situation, Your Honor.” Apollo looked insistently at Edgeworth, who thankfully had a smug look across his face. Sadly it appeared Mr Gavin had spotted the same look. “As for how Justice ended up in my car, I have nothing but theories. You see, Mr Shott came in around that time, so I ensured Justice was in a safe state and went out to deal with him. By the time I'd returned Justice had vanished, and the window was left open.” Apollo had the distinct feeling the details of this particular fairytale were designed just to annoy him. Seriously, did that window even open?! And since when was he fit enough to go climbing out of windows seconds after waking up anyway?!

“Then you have no connection to Mr Justice's sudden heavily sedated appearance in your car?” asked Edgeworth. Mr Gavin smiled sweetly and shook his head. “I find that unlikely. Your Honor, I present to the court the list of items found in the defendant's vehicle, among which is a largely empty bottle of generic sleeping medication. The active ingredient is of course the same the victim ingested. Surely there can be no doubt as to the defendant's guilt?”

“Oh? Where, pray tell, did you eventually find it?” The pleased surprise didn't fit there.

“As the defendant is pretending not to know,” Edgeworth drawled, “the bottle had been hidden beneath the driver's seat.”

“Ah, it must have escaped from my luggage after my last business trip. Thank you very much for finding it, Prosecutor.”

Still aloof. Maybe getting Vongole in would've been a better idea after all. Then again, anyone just ended up looking sympathetic when left with a dog, so maybe that was the worst idea any of them had come up with. Apollo rubbed his thumb along the patterns in his bracelet as the others continued to talk nonsense. Not like the judge was convinced by the looks of it. So what, an initial conviction and a successful appeal a few months later? Then back to work as usual. Except with some other damned soul now that Apollo had run. Now that Klavier had run. Now that the pattern was ready to complete itself.

Wouldn't that just be great? Another seven years and Apollo would get to suddenly appear on his white horse and hand over a ticket away, be the hero for a moment. The thought settled, bitter and acrid in his chest. Didn't Clay always say he was supposed to be the responsible one? As in not the idiot who rushed in and played right into people's hands? And yet, looking back across the months, that's all he'd done: dodgy evidence, spurious indictments, chasing down the most dangerous people he could find. Why should he deserve to be surprised Mr Gavin was taking this in stride? They'd worked together for years and here he was on his normal level of stupidity.

Don't think too hard about why murder isn't stranger than work, Apollo.

Nothing was changing. Not really. He'd tried so hard to think before acting, to shore himself up and it'd somehow made no difference in the end. He'd just become the next legal professional to silently slip away after hurting someone who didn't really deserve it. Or maybe who did.

He'd started crying at some point, he realised as he felt warmth bloom across his fingers. In a way it was nice; it took away the world and replaced it with little strands of refracted light. It almost pulsed in time with the blood rushing in his ears. The benches had faded off into the distance again, the only way he knew they were still there the unfamiliar voices debating amongst themselves. Maybe they were welcome to it. Maybe this was a battle that was never meant to be fought by Apollo Justice. Maybe screwing up taking down Mr Gavin was just the next pattern he was making. Which meant he'd fail at setting the stage for Klavier no matter what, right? That was beat number three. So it didn't matter what he did, what he said, whether he jumped up and waltzed around the courtroom until he was held in contempt. None of it would change anything else, anything but his own memories.

Huh. It made sense so many people believed in destiny. The third beat was freeing in its strange way. After all, when the consequences never mattered, why not do what felt good in the present?

He'd started smiling at some point, he realised as he felt his cheeks begin to cramp. When he looked back up he realised not a soul was watching him; after all, who would pay attention to the only one there who remained silent? No one went to a trial for that.

“Objection! No other pill bottles were found in the area!”

“Objection! There's no need to carry pills in a specific bottle if you're trying to be discreet! Wouldn't you say it's more surprising if you did?”

“Absolutely not! Discretion is far easier if the item can be disguised as mundane!” Still they went, and the victim sat by to watch as if this was just a movie, playing the same pixels no matter how corrupted the file got. Maybe he had died after all, or would end up dead by the time the verdict was handed down. And the murderer was on the stand, but Mr Gavin wasn't accusing him so he'd be fine. But a demon was so maybe he wouldn't.

“That's quite enough, Ms Cox! Unless the defence has definitive evidence to prove who was responsible for drugging the victim and moving him into the car, this line of questioning is over!”

“But that's impossible, Your Honor!” The gavel slammed its toll.

“In that case, it appears we are done here.”



“I don't even get to defend myself, huh?” The words just fell out of Apollo's mouth, really. Jerkily heads turned to look at him, forgotten as he'd somehow been. “I mean, you're just gonna accept all his saying that I'm some violent gangster? Don't you think you're rushing this through a little bit?”

“But Mr Justice,” said the judge. “The defendant's testimony has already been deemed untrustworthy.”

“Oh, really?” Apollo shrugged. “Sorry, I stopped listening.” A strange mix of a noise arose around the room amidst the shocked or scandalised or pitying gazes. “You should've believed some of it though, you know? I mean, I did punch him in the face after all. And I went to the Kitakis specifically to get help in my totally illegal investigation – I mean you've actually listened to the recording I handed over, right?

“Though I guess I can't blame you for assuming he's been talking out his ass this entire time. That's practically Gavin Law's motto, right? Serving lies with a smile!” The strange reaction was growing around the gallery.

“Please control yourself, Justice,” Mr Gavin admonished without turning to face him. “It's unwise to belittle your place of work in such a way.”

“No offense, sir,” Apollo said casually, “but I'm not actually gonna continue to work for you.” That got him to turn around. “Oh, yeah, this is my way of telling you I'm leaving.” It took but a moment for Mr Gavin to regain his posture, exuding a kind, caring air.

“Now, Justice, there's no need for your self-imposed exile here.”

“Are you seriously gonna talk like I'm leaving because of the guilt just weighing down on me? Because I think you'll find it's more due to things like cutting me off from my friend so completely he thought I'd died.” Shocked cries from the galleries. “Yeah!” Apollo cackled up at them. “That's stuff they don't prepare you for in law school!”

“Justice,” Mr Gavin said lowly, unlikely to be heard by anyone off the floor. “Restrain yourself. This kind of behaviour is hardly appealing to employers, now is it?” Apollo just grinned at the threat, kept there as Mr Gavin's calm features faltered in confusion.

“Good thing I've already got a foot in the door somewhere, right?” A moment of honest surprise. Then he returned to a resigned head shake.

“Very funny, Justice.”

“Ahah, I wasn't talking about you, sir. You've heard of Edgeworth Law, right?”

Apollo was surprised every time the smile dropped off Mr Gavin's face entirely yet somehow... The look in his eyes went vacant for a second and as Apollo's wrist seized he saw his pupils widen through his glasses. Slower this time he diverted his gaze to the Edgeworth standing behind the bench.

“I'm no more than a sponsor, naturally,” the prosecutor said. “Though my... associate keeps me informed. He had mentioned a potential addition to the firm, last time we talked.” The light was glinting wrong this time. All Apollo had left were the other myriad little twitches and creases. “And as for Mr Justice's outburst... My aforementioned associate certainly has what he refers to as a good sense of humour.” More twitches, and the man turned his back.

“Yeah, I figured I'd end up with someone like that, with the questions I was asking.”

“What, hideously unprofessional?” snipped Mr Gavin, swinging round again.

“Someone you couldn't manage a rapport with. I mean, really, you tried to ruin my reputation with your own brother, and yes I heard that. Why would I trust you not to screw me over with another law firm?”

“Eavesdropping is beneath you, Justice.”

“Says the man who installed multiple devices in my phone to stalk me.”

“The difference between these two things, Justice, is that you are running purely on assumption whereas I-”

“Have no actual evidence and only my word, right? How long ago did you delete the relevant security footage?”

“...It still exists.” Not according to the tightening hands.

“You know, sir,” Apollo said, pointedly leaning his chin on his left fist so his bracelet stayed centre of attention. “You really shouldn't fidget like that. It makes you look untrustworthy.” Mr Gavin narrowed his eyes darkly. “More importantly, you shouldn't lie on the witness stand; it's illegal. Actually, I guess it's a bit late to tell you off for that now, huh?”

“Justice, don't-”

“Seriously, perjury is a nightmare for us defence attorneys; don't add to the problem!”

“Just-”

“I don't know how you even thought I'd be convincingly dangerous? I mean the last person who nearly killed me was a teenager! That's a bit-”

At long last it happened. With a fist slammed against the posts of the witness stand hard enough to sickeningly crack and send silence rippling across the audience, Mr Gavin snapped, “Will you just shut up! I don't care what little self-centred headspace you've built yourself into but you will stop it at once!” The room remained very quiet, not even a cough to break it up.

“So how d'you feel about being on the same level?” Apollo continued quietly. And with that the spell was broken, and the noise began to rise once more. And the judge roared for a silence that didn't seem to come. “Your Honor!” Apollo shouted over the racket, arms raised and outspread. “People of the gallery! Thank you for your time!” He bowed where he sat, legs carelessly crossed, and let the world envelop him.



“Upon careful consideration of both evidence and the testimony given, I have come to a clear decision. I declare the defendant, Kristoph Gavin, guilty.” Despite everything, the reaction of the crowd was mixed: confusion, cheers, boos. “Apollo Justice, you will also surrender yourself to further police questioning following the assault charge you appear to have confessed to.”

“Understood, Your Honor.” Honestly he had no idea how he'd gotten away with it up till now. But apparently the world hadn't forgotten about its consequences just yet.

“Court is adjourned.”

The gavel fell for the final time that day, and it really dawned on Apollo how tired he was. Kinda hungry, too. It was well past lunch. “Mr Justice,” said Edgeworth sternly, gesturing for Apollo to follow him out of the room. No waiting about for a new police escort, then.

“May I just have one more word with Mr Gavin?”

“I do not believe that would be wise.” Nevertheless Apollo watched as his boss – he definitely couldn't call him that anymore – brushed past with his own little troupe of bailiffs. “Mr Justice?”

“Yeah, coming, sorry.”

“If you are worried about your friend, I can ask one of the bailiffs tell him to wait in the witness lobby.”

“...Thanks, Prosecutor Edgeworth.” He'd been more thinking about what hadn't managed to surface during the trial: where his body was supposed to be found. If Mr Gavin had been trying to pin Apollo's murder on the Kitakis, there was a perfect place to dispose of his corpse, wouldn't you say?

But then, had he realised he was still moving to the beats of, of all the patterns he could've chosen, the first case Apollo ever won?



Apollo pretty much collapsed on the couch next to Clay and slouched into him. “Hey buddy,” Clay murmured, shifting his arm to sling it around the other man instead. “Have fun with the cops?” Apollo grunted vaguely in reply. “That good, huh.”

“'Nother trial tomorrow.”

“They ain't hanging around, huh.”

“Also I think Gavin might be in trouble for not reporting me.”

“Cool Gavin?”

“Yeah.”

“Damn.” Clay shifted and fumbled in his jacket pocket, pulling out a little plastic packet. “I brought gummy candy by the way. It might be a bit sticky from body heat but, uh...” Apollo took it and began the far too complicated right now task of opening it.

“You're awesome, Clay.” He sighed as the bag finally split and he grabbed a slightly melted sweet. “Sorry for messing up in there,” he mumbled through his mouthful of gelatin.

“Messing up where?” said Clay incredulously. “Did you see yourself in there? You were actually kinda cool.”

“You,” said Apollo, pointing accusingly at his friend, “are biased.” Clay shrugged. “Besides, I thought we decided I wasn't trying to look cool, I was trying make Mr Gavin look bad so Klavier has an easier time linking him elsewhere. I just made it really obvious why he'd want me dead specifically.”

“The people around me didn't seem too fussed over who he wanted dead.”

“And the police don't think they have enough evidence for the wiretapping, so they said they're not bothering to bring it to trial.”

“Well that's on them then. I bet you could get a conviction with what you picked up.” Apollo grimaced.

“Or I'd just destroy what's left of the evidence, dooming the case even more forever.”

“Eh, no one's perfect. For example, confession time.”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes.” He patted himself down before finally finding the correct pocket and pulling out the ragged stub of his gallery ticket.

“How did you even do that?”

“I might have been tearing off and flicking tiny bits of paper at The Man-”

“Clay-”

“And I may have moved onto the defence lady after he went too far away-”

Clay-”

“But in my defence the woman next to me was egging me on for most of it, and I'm really sorry-”

Clay!” Clay stopped. “Please tell me all your brainstorming came up with a nickname for Mr Gavin better than 'The Man'.” Clay remained suspiciously silent. “For the love of... We're discussing this over takeout. I am helping this time.”

 

Chapter Text

Unfamiliar experiences tend to have the unusual effect of sending time hurtling past at rates far too fast to process. Whether that be a child's first day of school leaving them back home before they know it, or a lawyer watching their mentor destroy the place in their life and disappear all in less than a hundred hours. Apollo's assault trial came and went – a warning, and court mandated therapy thanks to Mercedes Cadaverini's attack – as did his first meeting with the head of Edgeworth Law – a strange man named Raymond Shields, who asked for a hug first thing and was immediately hit by no less than three balls of paper thrown by his employees – and the calendar kept flipping on. Certainly there and there moments stuck and played in true speed, such as the wonderful reactions from his new colleagues when Plum Kitaki came in for the first time. Then the second time, with cake.

Some things never truly went away though, it took a while for him to realise. Between the ties he could get away with not wearing now his workplace was happier with business casual, to the weekly arrival of the florist's deliveryman bearing flowers.

“Hyacinths again,” the man had announced upon seeing his unwilling repeat customer. “It seems someone is very keen to apologise to you, sir.” Apollo returned a tight smile.

“It certainly appears that way, doesn't it?” he gritted out. Not that hyacinths might have another meaning when given to someone named Apollo or anything! Not that that specific shade of powder blue might be a bit of a giveaway to his 'secret' benefactor! Like clockwork the deliveryman left on his merry way, and Apollo turned back to the office. “Who wants them this week!” he called, holding the stupid dying plants aloft.

“Parents' wedding anniversary!” explained one person, raising their hand expectantly.

“Messed up message, but sure!” It was better than leaving them to rot in a dumpster at least.



Him and Klavier eventually got around to swapping numbers, realising pretty quickly Apollo's new location was well out of the way of anywhere to eat, basically destroying any remaining chance of them bumping into each other out of court. If he was totally honest it had been a matter of time before he'd been fully dragged into the prosecutor's friendship group – currently Debeste and the 'mystery woman' he was stuck calling Kay now. And obviously a proposed meetup over the weekend at some point had to conflict with Clay's day off, dragging him in too.

So even if Apollo and Debeste remained wary of each other, something felt almost inevitable about the five of them continuing to talk. Like on a certain unreasonably cold afternoon in early December, leaving the group shivering around a table of hot drinks and probably too many muffins. They'd left Le Café Americano behind; it'd suddenly come out that the owner was nearly a million dollars in debt. After careful consideration of context clues, four out of five of their group had been very insistent on abandoning ship.

Shame about the food, really.

“You can't just not go!” gesticulated Kay with an entire muffin. She faux-pouted. “Ray'll be really disappointed you know.”

“I didn't say I wasn't going!” Apollo shouted, drawing a few heads from the surrounding tables. “I just said I had plans already!”

“Yep,” Clay chimed in from his other side, leaning around and dragging him over by the shoulders. “New Year's Eve means 'Pollo is GYAXA property.”

“You don't have to phrase it like that, you know...” He shook his head. “But seriously I have one chance a year to catch Mr Cosmos drunk off his ass and trying to wrestle with the robots.”

“Sounds... interesting...” Apollo grinned and pulled out his phone.

“I mean, it's good to record these things in case they're useful later,” he said lightly, opening up the relevant folder of his photos and handing it over. Kay raised her eyebrows, quietly scrolling through them, and every now and then snickering and glancing up at Clay. Clay's eyes slowly narrowed.

“Wait... Those pictures were supposed to be on your old phone!”

“Cloud's great, dude.” The muffins' structural integrities were endangered as Clay lunged across the table towards the treacherous device. “Hey, careful!”

“Don't just go around showing them to people! It's really uncomfortable!”

“It's just Kay though-”

Apollo!”

“Okay, sorry, sorry.” Reluctantly Kay let him take the phone back. “I don't know how to delete them from the cloud, by the way.” Clay sighed and held a hand out.

“What you don't realise,” Kay whispered ominously as he frowned at the screen, “is that the bionic contact lens in my right eye has already scanned and saved every piece of incriminating evidence to a remote server.” The two men looked at her nervously. She split into a smile and held her hands up in front of her. “Kidding!” It was always hard to tell with her. Apollo still had no idea what she actually did for a living; after she'd busted out an actual, literal hologram projector he'd been too scared to ask questions.

“I thought I asked you to the Prosecutors' New Year's Ball as a plus one,” Debeste said to her. “But if you don't want to disappoint Mr Shields, then...” An astute observer would note that his lip had begun to tremble.

“Unlike some, the great Kay Faraday is perfectly able to appear at two parties at once.”

“Don't get on my case when you double booked too,” Apollo grumbled. He turned to Klavier. “Besides, Gavin's being suspiciously quiet. I bet you messed up planning ahead too, right?” Klavier looked up from the overcomplicated latte he'd been nursing.

“Wie bitte?”

“Are you staying at the Ball all night?” Debeste cut over him. Klavier nodded, and stared back at the surface of his drink. Apollo shot him a worried look.

“You okay?” he asked. “Did... something happen?”

“Nein,” Klavier sighed, reaching out for a muffin and beginning to slowly pick bits off from it. The others looked unsure between themselves. He laughed half-heartedly to himself. “I suppose that's the problem, isn't it? Nothing has happened.”

“About..?” Apollo said cautiously, unsure just how much Kay or Debeste were supposed to be in the loop.

“Ja, about that.”

“Well, he hasn't managed to appeal my case yet, right? So it's not like there's some big rush or anything.”

“It's only a matter of time, Herr Forehead.” Apollo shrugged and drank some of his chai.

“I know that. But it's not like any of us have any control over that.” He paused. “Though, the woman you're questioning... Something different might happen if you get me to talk to her. I'm fine with helping you out if it's you asking.” Klavier smiled.

“Danke. I'll keep that in mind.” Loudly Kay cleared her throat.

“The rest of us are at your service too by the way.”

“And we will steal the rest of the muffins and leave if you're just gonna talk like we're not here,” Clay added on. Debeste looked alarmed at the other two and hurriedly joined in,

“Yeah! That's what friends are for!”

“What, stealing food?” Apollo questioned.

“Not that one!”

“Yes,” Clay said at the same time.

“So!” exclaimed Klavier, banging his fist triumphantly on the table. “If I can't wrap this up this year, I'll ask you all then!”

“Still can't believe it's nearly the end of the year already,” Clay muttered sullenly.

“So... you're going to finish this next year?” said Debeste slowly, eyes slowly lighting up. Apollo felt the strongest sense of foreboding.

“I... might do?”

“So that would make it... a New Year's resolution?” Apollo let his face fall into the tabletop as Klavier and Debeste high-fived.

“Why do I even hang out with you guys?”



Of all the moments at the turn of the year, the moment the clock struck midnight wasn't the one Apollo really remembered. After all, that happened every year. It got old hat after the twentieth time.

What stuck that time, December 31st, 2026 was the moment he said goodbye to his colleagues, collected his coat and left the convention centre several local law firms had joined forces to rent out. The air was biting that night after several days of snow, and he rushed into his awaiting cab. Two parties in one evening? Apollo Justice: social butterfly! As the car trundled through the dreaded holiday traffic, Apollo fumbled to remove the clip-on bow-tie he'd donned for the work do. He let out a happy sigh and let himself lean back in his seat, watching the brightly lit world go past until they got closer to the space centre, and the buildings trickled off.

It was strange to think how much had changed since last year. A new job, new friends, and his fair share of new outlooks on life. And he'd finally got around to finding someone to fix the oven, just the other week. For all the questions he had, for all the worries, he'd known for a while now that true closure would probably never arrive. He couldn't bring back the dead, and he couldn't erase others' grudges, and he couldn't read minds to get his answers. Though if he could do all those things, he'd be the best lawyer ever. But also immediately captured by the government so they could study him so it was probably for the best he was just human.

He thanked and paid the cab driver and stepped out back into the cold. Shivering, he shoved his hands as deep into his pockets as he could. He stopped as he realised there was something strangely rigid and sharp in one of them. He pulled it out to get a proper look.

It was a single playing card: the ace of spades. Trying not to panic, he flipped it across to its red back. Not a single blemish marked it on either side. Someone must've slipped it into his jacket at the party. Releasing a deep breath, Apollo looked around and spotted one of the colourful trash cans set out for museum visitors. Determinedly he strode towards it, card outstretched and hovering above the trash can.

Apollo faltered, biting his lip. Would it really be right to just throw it all away? If someone went to the effort of reaching out to him in such a way, they'd have to be in serious trouble, so wouldn't ignoring them make Apollo a bad person? Maybe he should keep the card...

No, what was he thinking? If he was diving back into any of Mr Wright's mess, it was going to be on his terms, not because of someone who couldn't even be bothered to write him a letter. He could be haunted for the rest of his life for all he cared, but he'd never asked to be involved. He wasn't going to risk his livelihood for people who'd thrown him under the bus at the drop of a hat; that wasn't the sort of person he wanted to be.

The playing card fluttered harmlessly into the trash can, and Apollo went to join his friends.