foxysquidalso: (prosecutors and detectives)
[personal profile] foxysquidalso
Title: Burden of Proof
Pairings, Characters: slight Daryan/Klavier, suggested Kristoph/Klavier, Sofia Crescend (OC)
Rating: R
Warnings: mild violence; strong language; strong references to child abuse, though nothing whatsoever graphic or detailed; also sort of spoilery by association for the first case of AJ.
Word count: 6,662
Summary: Being a detective is in Daryan's blood, but sometimes solving a mystery doesn't solve the problem, as he discovers when he learns Klavier's secret.
Notes: Set years before AJ, also before Klavier has gone away to law school. I decided to write Daryan as part of an Italian-American family largely because "Crescendo" has an Italian origin.





He'd always wanted to be a detective, like his dad. Detective Anthony Doriano Crescend. Grandpa Doriano had been a detective, too, the first Crescend born in the US. He'd served his country as a soldier, then as an officer of the law. He was going to be like them: Detective Daryan Anthony Crescend.

An amateur pilot and a devoted weekend flyer, his dad died in a plane crash when he was eight years old, a victim of mechanical malfunction. Daryan stood beside his mom at the funeral and watched a long line of policemen say goodbye to his father. One by one, they stood in front of him, clasped his shoulder, told him to be strong. They all expected him to be the man of the family, to be like his dad, to join them on the force someday.

That was when Daryan started misbehaving in school: starting fights, refusing to do his homework, insulting the teachers, getting himself sent home.

He still wanted to be a detective. He wanted it more than ever. He was the best at solving mysteries. He always guessed who did it before the detectives on TV. He was the one who figured out which of his sisters was stealing his mom's shampoo. He was always the one who found the remote, the car keys, or his mother's purse when no one else could find them. Just like dad would have.

It was at school that he couldn't act like one of the good guys. When he punched a kid and gave him a bloody nose, he didn't feel anything. He watched the kid cry, blood pouring over his mouth and down his chin.

"Why are you such a bully?"

Daryan looked up. A new kid was standing there, watching him. Daryan remembered the teacher introducing him earlier in the week, but he hadn't cared enough to pay attention. "Why are you such a fag?" asked Daryan.

The other boy scowled at him. He had yellow hair and an accent, but not thick enough that Daryan couldn't understand him. "You shouldn't use that word." the boy seriously informed him. "It's a hateful slur. Gay people are the same as anyone else."

Daryan wasn't used to any of the kids talking back to him. "Huh?" He would have said more, but at that point, one of the adults monitoring the playground had noticed the crying, bleeding child and hurried over, putting an end to their conversation. Daryan was taken away to the principal's office again, but he couldn't stop thinking about that blond kid. Talking to him like that. He decided to beat him up as soon as he got the chance.

That chance came soon enough. He was suspended for a day, but on his first day back, he managed to corner the boy at recess, trapping him between the swings and the chain link fence. "What's your name?" he demanded.

"Klavier Gavin."

"That's a stupid name. It doesn't sound real."

"I like my name. But I don't like you," said Klavier. "You're mean, and I hate bullies."

"I don't like you either!" Daryan pushed him.

Klavier stumbled a step back, falling into the fence, then recovered his footing and gave Daryan a violent shove of his own.

By the time the playground monitor came to pull them apart, both of them were bruised and breathless. Daryan had fallen and scraped his knee on the asphalt, and his whole leg was bloody. The monitor had an especially stern glare for Daryan, and probably thought it was all his fault, but he hauled both of them away to the principal's office (by way of the nurse), because that was the rule.

Klavier was sent back to class, since it was his first time in trouble. Daryan had to wait outside the office until his mother came. "Daryan," she said sadly. "What am I going to do with you?"

Daryan shrugged and didn't say anything.

She didn't speak again until they were in the car. "What would your father say?"

He burst into tears.

"It's all right, baby." She hugged him and stroked his hair. "I'll take you home. We'll be all right. Okay? Don't you worry."

After that day, Klavier became something of a fixture in his life, though not a wanted one. It seemed he couldn't turn around--at least when he was up to something--without seeing the other boy glaring at him. It seemed like every time he called some other kid a name or pushed somebody, Klavier was there. It annoyed him, so of course, they fought again. And again. Daryan accepted that that was how things were going to be.

His mother had other ideas.

"Good morning, Daryan." She shook him awake. "Rise and shine. You'd better get up--we're having company today."

He groaned. "But Mom, it's Saturday."

"I don't care what day it is. When I tell you to get up, you get up."

"Yeah, okay." He groaned again, but sat up in bed. "Who's coming over?"

"A friend of yours. Klavier Gavin."

"What? Mom, are you serious?"

"I'm very serious." She'd begun straightening up his room, picking up the clothes he'd left in a pile on the floor the night before. "Daryan, what have I told you about this? There's a hamper right here."

"Mom, Klavier isn't my friend. I hate him!"

"You only hate him because you don't know him. I had a nice talk with his mother. She's a very sweet woman. Together we decided that if you boys got to know each other--"

"I won't!" he shouted, interrupting her. "You can't make me. I'm going to stay in bed. I won't come out, no matter what." He plopped his head back down on the pillow and pulled his covers up over it.

"Okay, Daryan. But you're going to feel pretty silly when Klavier comes up here and you're still in your pajamas."

She was right. He would feel stupid if that happened. "Fine, I'll get dressed, but I'm not going to talk to him, and I'm not going to get to know him."

"But you are going to be a good host, and you're not going to say anything rude, because if you do, I'll know."

"Fine, Mom!" He hated when she did things behind his back like this. He obviously didn't have any choice. He jumped out of bed. "Go away and let me get dressed."

"Don't talk that way to your mother."

"Please?" he added.

She had another stern glower for him, but she left. Daryan considered escaping out the window, but since his room was on the second floor, that didn't seem like the best idea. He got dressed and resigned himself to living through a stupid waste of a Saturday.

That was how he and Klavier ended up in his room together, staring awkwardly at each other. Daryan felt betrayed by his mother. It wasn't fair of her to leave her alone with somebody he didn't even like, while she and Klavier's mom got to have fun talking downstairs.

"Your room's cool," Klavier said at last.

Daryan wasn't fooled by the compliment. His mom had probably told him to be polite, too. "Yeah, it's okay."

Klavier was all dressed up, too, in a shirt with a collar and buttons. Daryan felt a little sorry for him. At least his mom had let him wear a T-shirt, like a normal kid.

"What's this?" Klavier asked, reaching out towards the shelf beside him.

"Hey, don't touch my stuff," said Daryan quickly. "You're going to break it."

"I never break anything," said Klavier with a smile. For some reason Daryan believed him. In spite of his words, Klavier lowered his arm and didn't touch anything. Instead, he leaned in to look more closely at the item on the shelf he'd been reaching for. It was a framed photograph. "Who's this?" he asked.

It was a photo of his father in uniform, taken before Daryan was born. He was smiling at the camera and giving the photographer a mock salute "That's my dad. He was a detective."

"Really? Wow, that's so cool."

"I'm going to be a detective, too."

"You are?" Klavier turned toward him, eyes wide.

"I am." Klavier didn't have to look so doubtful. "What's wrong with that?"

"It's just that policemen are supposed to protect people, right?"

"Yeah, so?"

"You don't do that."

Daryan shrugged. "I don't have to. I'm not a detective yet. I can do what I want."

"I'm going to be a prosecutor," said Klavier, "and I already stop people from doing bad things. It's what your job means that matters, not your job title. Helping people is the most important thing."

Klavier sure was weird. Daryan didn't know any other kids that talked like that. When he thought about it, though, he liked the idea of being a detective right away, without having to finish school and go through all the training. After all, he already solved mysteries around the house, for his mom and sisters. That was like being a detective. "I guess so," he said, not wanting to admit that the other boy might be right about something. "So you're gonna be a lawyer?"

"That's right."

Daryan snorted. "Detectives are way cooler than lawyers."

Klavier laughed. "No way. Lawyers do all the really hard stuff, use their brains and get the bad guys put away for good. I mean, detectives are okay--"

Daryan wasn't going to let that go unchallenged. "Detectives are the best. They're the ones actually going out on the street, getting shit done and risking their lives."

Klavier had a very smug smile, but Daryan didn't mind it as much this time. "Prosecutors do that too, sometimes," Klavier said. "They work with detectives a lot."

Daryan couldn't deny that. The prosecutor his dad had worked with had been pretty cool. She still came by to visit his mom sometimes. "Maybe. They're not all bad."

"Good. I'm glad you approve of some of us."

The way he talked, it sounded like he thought he was already a lawyer, and Daryan didn't feel like pointing out that he wasn't. "Some of you are all right," he clarified.

"What should we do now, Detective Crescend, if I can't touch any of your stuff?"

Klavier was being weird again. He didn't have to call him Detective Crescend, like they were little kids playing pretend. He was nine years old, almost ten. Still, there was something about it that he liked, so he didn't argue about it. "We could play a video game. I don't mind if you touch that."

"I like video games."

"What's your favorite kind?"

"I like RPGs, the fantasy ones where you go on adventures. And puzzle games."

Daryan made a face. He was not going to play a stupid puzzle game. "I like shooting games. And racing ones, where you can drive into buildings. They've got to have stuff blowing up in them."

Klavier nodded, seriously. "Ja, stuff blowing up is cool."

"Yeah, it's the most cool." At least Klavier liked some normal stuff.

Daryan hated to admit that his mom had been right about something and he had been wrong, but once he got to know Klavier, Klavier wasn't so bad. Before long, Klavier started coming over on the weekends without their moms arranging it. Klavier was strange, but he could be fun. He even played guitar, which Daryan had to admit was awesome. He begged his mother to buy him a guitar, too, until she finally gave him one for his tenth birthday. After that, he took lessons with Klavier, and he and Klavier practiced together all the time.

Before Daryan even knew what was happening, he and Klavier were best friends.

Surprisingly, they stayed friends for years, through elementary school and into high school. They weren't in any of the same classes--they probably shouldn't have gone to the same school, but Klavier's parents had some idea about supporting public schools. Daryan didn't really get it, but he didn't want his friend to leave, so he didn't complain.

Klavier wasn't much like him. His home life certainly wasn't. His parents were both alive, and they were rich. He only had one sibling, an older brother, who couldn't be more unlike Daryan's noisy, messy little sisters. Klavier's house was always quiet and clean. Klavier's life seemed perfect.

Although--Daryan couldn't help but notice that, every now and then, something seemed off. Maybe it was his detective instincts, inherited from his father, kicking in. He noticed things. Sometimes Klavier became suddenly, inexplicably depressed. He'd be angry for a few days, and he'd yell at Daryan during practice. Then, one morning, he'd be cheerful again, as if nothing had happened and nothing was wrong.

Once, when Daryan was staying over Klavier's, Klavier disappeared for more than an hour. When Daryan finally went looking for him and found him, he was standing in the bathroom--not doing anything but standing in the middle of the tile floor, staring at the mirror. He was breathing hard, and he looked shaken. He didn't seem to notice that Daryan had entered the room. He hadn't answered when Daryan had knocked on the door. It was weird, and not Klavier's usual fruity, goofy brand of weirdness. "Klav, are you okay?"

Klavier murmured something in German, then blinked and turned toward him. When he saw Daryan, he became himself again. "Oh, ja, I'm fine." He smiled. "I was feeling a bit sick, sorry."

"That's cool, man. You feeling better now?"

"Ja, I'm better now. I think it was something I ate."

Daryan didn't think so, but he didn't disagree. If Klavier didn't want to tell him, that was Klavier's business. Maybe he had depression and didn't want to talk about it. He'd known for years that Klavier went to a therapist, but he'd assumed that was just something rich kids did.

He noticed other stuff, too. Like the way Klavier's brother would suddenly smile when Daryan turned toward him, as if he'd been watching Daryan with another expression altogether on his face. Kristoph was weird, too, but not in a fun way, like Klavier. Kristoph never did anything fun, not that he was aware of. Daryan actually didn't know a lot about him, as he was so much older than Klavier, and he tended to avoid spending time with Klavier when Daryan was around. Kristoph was also a defense attorney, which was odd enough on its own. Daryan had no idea why someone would want to do that for a living.

Noticing stuff didn't mean anything if it was just stuff. Anyone could have a bad day, and anyone could be weird. Noticing stuff and putting it together: that was detective work. Still, Daryan didn't have anything that tied all the little, odd moments together. Not until he found out about the book.

He first noticed it when he went over Klavier's house one day. A plain book, with a dark, cloth cover, lying out on Klavier's dresser. It looked like one of those blank books people wrote or drew in. It was just sitting there, and he didn't think much of it, but he noticed it, because he noticed things. He talked to Klavier for a while. They listened to music and talked about the next song they were going to write, and then Daryan glanced over at the dresser again and noticed that the book was gone. Daryan scanned the room, as casually as he could, and he didn't see it anywhere.

He hadn't seen Klavier put it away, and no one else had come in the room while they'd been talking, so Klavier must have purposefully moved it from the dresser while Daryan had been distracted by something else--when he'd been searching through Klavier's music files for something he wanted to listen to, maybe. He must have been intentionally sneaky about it, too, because Daryan hadn't been aware of him moving things around or putting anything away. He hadn't wanted Daryan to see the book.

That was definitely a clue. What could be in that book? It wasn't a sketchbook, because stick figures were the best Klavier could do where drawing was concerned, though he had drawn some funny stick figure comics. Was it a journal? Klavier had never told him he kept a journal, and Klavier talked about everything. He wasn't the kind of guy who kept secrets--was he? Maybe, if he was, he was just really good at keeping secrets. Daryan had never considered that possibility before.

"What are you thinking about, Daryan?" Klavier asked him.

"Huh? Me?"

"Yes, you. You've got that thoughtful look on your face." Klavier poked the corner of his mouth. "Herr Frownyface."

Daryan pulled his head back, his frown deepening. Klavier could be a little too touchy-feely sometimes. Maybe because he was European, maybe because he was Klavier. "Yeah, whatever, Blondie."

"Ja, I know you like blonds." Klavier winked at him.

"Quit it." Daryan wasn't in the mood. He was, however, in the mood to find out about that book. He changed the subject, but all the time they talked, he was waiting. Eventually, Klavier left to go to the bathroom, and as soon as he was gone, Daryan got up and began his search. Fortunately, Klavier had to primp every time he went in the bathroom, but even with that added time, Daryan knew he didn't have long. He first checked the places that were easy to search, which Klavier would have been able to hide the book in without him noticing.

He found it easily enough. Klavier hadn't had time to find a really good spot for it. It was behind the dresser, in the very narrow space between the back of the dresser and the wall, far back enough that he would have had to be intentionally looking for something back there to find it. Quickly, Daryan fished it out. He didn't have time to worry about whether it was the right thing to do, looking through Klavier's personal things. He flipped the book open.

Fuck.

The pages inside were full of writing, as he'd suspected, but it was all in perfect, elegant German script. Daryan put the book back, then flopped down on Klavier's bed, just in time to appear lazily innocent as Klavier opened the door. "What are you up to?" Klavier asked him, smiling.

Klavier noticed things, too. That was the trouble with Klavier. "Nothing," Daryan said, rolling his eyes.

Daryan was determined to solve the mystery of the book. The problem was getting time alone in Klavier's room. Usually, they hung out in the room together. Even more usually, they spent time in the basement, where they practiced playing and worked on their songs until Mr. Perfectionist Gavin himself was satisfied with them.

Another thing Daryan was good at was getting around problems. When he conveniently left some things upstairs in Klavier's room, Klavier didn't think anything about him running upstairs to get the notes for their latest song.

He had to find the book quickly. It was no longer behind the drawers. It wasn't in the drawers either, or under the mattress. He tried to think of where Klavier might put it. Klavier was one of those tricky "hide in plain sight" types. Where did you normally put a book? A bookshelf. Daryan checked Klavier's shelf. There it was, lying on its side up against the back of the shelf, behind a row of books that were the right side around, displaying their spines proudly to the world as if they didn't have a single secret. Yeah, Klavier wasn't the best at hiding things; he was too honest.

Daryan was ready. He had a pen and paper in his bag. He opened the book and hastily copied as much of the German writing as possible. Hopefully it would be enough to tell him something about why Klavier was hiding it.

"What took you so long?" asked Klavier, when Daryan stomped down the basement stairs.

"Man, you're nosy. I was hungry."

"You're always hungry. I don't know how you manage to eat so much."

Daryan shrugged. "Fast metabolism."

"Thanks for the science lesson, Daryan."

"You're welcome."

"I was being sarcastic."

Good. Klavier didn't suspect anything. For the rest of the day, Daryan had time to think about what he'd done. If the book was some kind of private diary, then he was probably being an asshole, snooping into Klavier's stuff and copying out what he'd written. It was just that he didn't like the way Klavier had hidden that book. Something about it didn't seem right.

By the time he got home, that night, he was doubting himself more. He was definitely being an asshole. If Klavier had a secret, it was his right to keep it. And what if it was something Daryan didn't want to know? He thought of the way Klavier was always standing close to him, looking for excuses to touch him. What if Klavier liked him or something? They talked about girls, and Klavier dated girls, but Daryan wondered about him. He didn't know what he'd do if Klavier was gay for him. It wasn't like he wouldn't be friends with him anymore--he wasn't a total asshole--but he would feel seriously awkward.

He hesitated as he sat at his computer, typing the German words into an online translator. He knew online translators tended to suck, but at least it could give him an idea of what Klavier was writing about. He'd managed to get a fair chunk of text written down. All that scribbling of papers right before the class they were due in had made him a pretty fast writer, though he always got points off for not handing in his work typed.

He was actually slower at typing, so it took him longer to get all the text into the translator. He still wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do, but he'd already done so much. He might as well see it through. He took a deep breath, then clicked translate.

Daryan read the block of translated text. As he'd expected, it wasn't the clearest translation possible, but it was clear enough. He understood most of it. He sat in his chair staring at the screen for several minutes before he could look away.

Daryan felt sick. Once he could move again, he ran to the bathroom and threw up.

Once he was finished, he looked up to find his mom in the doorway, gazing down at him with her eyes scrunched up in that worried way of hers. Her mom radar must have gone off and brought her here. "What's wrong, baby?" she asked.

He couldn't tell her the truth. "I'm sick."

Before he could evade her, she was at his side, feeling his forehead. "You do feel hot."

"Yeah, I feel like shit."

"Daryan," she said warningly, but she was starting to let his bad language slide a little, because that was all she said about it. "Maybe you should stay home from school tomorrow."

"Maybe."

"You get in bed, I'll bring you something to drink."

"Mom, I'm not a little kid," he said, as she bustled away, but there was something nice about being taken care of. When he returned to his room, he deleted the text off the screen, then balled up the paper filled with German scrawl and threw it in the trash. He wished he could pretend he hadn't read it. He climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over his bed, like he used to when he was younger and wanted to hide from everyone.

He couldn't hide, though, and when his mom brought him some orange juice, he sat up.

"Anything you want to talk to me about?" his mother asked, seating herself on the edge of his bed.

"No, Mom. Like I said, I'm just sick."

"You know you can always talk to me though, right?"

"I know." His mom could have been a good detective, too. "Relax, it's only a cold or something."

Her eyes still wore that worried look, but she smiled at him. "Whatever you say, Daryan."

It had been a good move, making his mother think he was sick, because the next day she was at work, his sisters were at school, and he was free to do what he wanted, with an excused absence. Klavier texted him shortly after he got up, asking him if he was okay. Yeah, he texted back, one of his famous one-word replies.

He got dressed. He glanced at the picture of his dad on his shelf, smiling and saluting as always. He wondered what his dad would have wanted him to do. The right thing, probably, though Daryan didn't always know what that was. He'd do something. That was always better than doing nothing, right? That was what he told himself as he left the house.

Kristoph Gavin's office was open. Daryan pushed his way through the door and told the startled secretary, "I need to see Kristoph."

"I'm sorry, he's busy at the moment--"

"I don't care," said Daryan. "Let me see him."

The door to Kristoph's office opened, suddenly, and Daryan saw that usual soft smile on his face, the one that looked like it had been something else an instant ago. "Hello, Daryan. What a pleasant surprise." He turned that smile on his secretary. "It's all right. He's a friend of my brother's, as alarming as he might appear." Daryan didn't think he looked alarming at all. He had hardly put any gel in his hair. Before he could say anything in reply, though, Kristoph was talking to him. "Please, come in." He opened his door wider, and stepped aside so Daryan could enter.

Daryan was starting to have second thoughts as he stepped through the doorway and into the office and Kristoph shut the door behind them. Maybe he should have talked to his mom about it first, or to Klavier. It was too late for that, though. He was standing in Kristoph's office, and Kristoph was sitting down behind his desk. "Please, take a seat, Daryan," he said, then waited until Daryan pulled up a seat and sat in it before asking, "To what do I owe this unexpected visit? Shouldn't you be in school?"

"I'm home sick," said Daryan, defensively, not caring if it sounded stupid to say that when he obviously wasn't at home.

"I see. I do hope you're feeling better soon. And are you going to enlighten me as to why you're here? Perhaps you need help with a legal matter of some kind? I'd be happy to defend you, if you're in some kind of trouble."

Daryan figured out that sitting down wasn't giving him the courage to talk, so he stood up again. "No, I'm not in any kind of trouble, and screw you for assuming that. You're the one who's in trouble. You're a sick fuck, you know that?"

Kristoph's eyebrows rose. Then, for the first time since Daryan had met him, years ago, he saw Kristoph frown. "Excuse me?"

"I know about what you've been doing, asshole." His mom would probably kill him for talking to an adult like that, but he had a great reason to do it. He felt kind of nervous--probably this was a crazy thing to be doing--but what the hell. He remembered how Klavier always used to stand up bullies at school. His dad had done the same thing, at work. Policemen are supposed to protect people, right?

Kristoph's frown righted itself into a smile, but it was a different kind of smile, strained. Daryan saw it twitch. "I'm sorry, Daryan, I have no idea what you're referring to."

"Don't play stupid. I mean what you've been doing to Klavier."

"Klavier," said Kristoph. The strain in his smile evaporated. It solidified. "I see. What has Klavier been telling you about me?"

"He didn't tell me anything, I know. You shouldn't do that shit, okay? I won't let you get away with it. I'm going to tell someone about it. I'll go to the cops."

"This is very serious, Daryan. I do wish I knew what it was all about. I would suggest that you didn't attempt to contact the police without proof of your allegations, whatever they might be."

"I just want you to leave him alone. Stop hurting him. Okay?" The poorly translated words that had stood on his computer screen had been so sad, so unlike the Klavier he knew, not that Klavier couldn't be sad, but he wasn't used to Klavier being hopeless, or even worse than that, resigned. "If you stop bothering him, I won't do anything."

Kristoph folded his hands and regarded Daryan coolly over them. "I understand that you're trying to be a good friend, Daryan. That's an admirable impulse. But there's something you don't know about my brother. He is mentally ill. He's been in treatment for some time. He has what I suppose you could call delusions, and some of them might well revolve around me. Of course, I'm not always privy to the content of those delusions, so I can't say for certain."

"Klavier isn't crazy," snarled Daryan. "And he's not a liar, like you."

"I see. So based on some supposition of yours, you're going to approach the police and tell them that I'm abusing Klavier in some way. What do you think the outcome of that will be, even if there is an investigation? Do you want to see my brother humiliated like that, all his emotional problems dragged out into public view? Allegations of abuse can be quite devastating to a family. Do you want us all to suffer because of your rash accusations? If so, that's very selfish of you. I'm surprised you would do that to someone you claim to care about so much."

Daryan's face felt hot. He wouldn't let Kristoph turn this around on him. "I'm not the one who's doing something wrong. You are."

"What's your proof of that, Daryan?"

All he had was the journal, which he'd translated from German. It had said what Kristoph was doing. Klavier wouldn't have written that if it hadn't been true. He knew it. The journal was his only proof, but he couldn't tell Kristoph about that. It was a secret, and it was very possible Kristoph didn't know about it. If Daryan told him, Kristoph would find it and read it. Maybe he would get rid of it, or do something to Klavier. "I don't have any proof," he said, much more boldly than he felt. "That doesn't matter."

"It seems foolish to accuse a defense attorney of something without any proof, doesn't it, Daryan?"

"Yeah, but I don't care. I'm not going to shut up about it, okay?

"There's absolutely nothing you can do."

The fact that that was probably true made him more angry. "Screw you."

Kristoph laughed. "Your loyalty would be truly touching, if it weren't so wrongheaded."

"He likes me better than you," Daryan blurted, surprised by the words as he said them. "I'll take him away from you."

Kristoph laughed. "Do you think I care about that?"

It was soft laughter, and Kristoph was still smiling, but in that moment, all Daryan's doubts disappeared: it was completely true. It wasn't proof that a court would accept, but it was proof enough for him. No one who was innocent would smile and laugh like that or say they didn't care. Daryan thought he had hated people before, but now he knew that he hadn't really, because he'd never felt anything like the sick rush of anger that rose up in him now. Before he knew what he was doing, he was looking for something to break, and he found it. There was a vase of flowers sitting on one of Kristoph's many legal bookshelves. Daryan picked it up and threw it to the ground. There was a satisfying crash as glass, flowers, and water flew everywhere.

Kristoph was no longer smiling. "Daryan," he said sternly. "I want you to leave at once, or I will call the police. For my part, I have a great deal of proof."

The secretary opened the door. "Mr. Gavin, is everything all right?"

"Everything is perfectly fine," said Kristoph quickly. "I'm afraid we've had a little accident here, but Mr. Crescend was just leaving."

"That's right," said Daryan, with a final glare. "I'm leaving." He couldn't help himself from enjoying the sound of the broken glass breaking beneath the soles of his boots.

It wasn't until he was outside that he realized that a piece of the glass had cut through his hand, making a deep slice between his thumb and forefinger. It was bleeding badly, and his hand was already covered in blood, but he'd been too pissed to notice it. He lifted up the bottom of his shirt and wrapped it around his hand. It wasn't much of a solution to the problem, but it was the best he could do.

He'd taken the bus to Kristoph's office, and he had to take it back. People probably stared at his bloody, shirt-wrapped hand, but he didn't notice. By the time he got home, the bleeding had stopped. When he pulled the shirt away, it started up again. He washed it in the sink, then bandaged it up. Then he washed his shirt too, even though he hated doing laundry of any kind. He didn't want his mom asking him any questions. Daryan would have to think of a lie to explain why there was a big bandage on his hand, but that wouldn't be too hard.

He'd think of something later. He was feeling sick again. He went back to bed.

There's absolutely nothing you can do, Kristoph had said. Was that true? Maybe it was. The problem with some mysteries was that once you figured them out, it didn't make them any better. The bad guy was still bad, and nothing had changed. He felt like something heavy was pressing down on his chest, and it hurt. He closed his eyes.

"Daryan! Hey, Daryan, are you here?" He didn't know how long had passed before the sound of the voice woke him up. He yawned and stretched, and for a single happy instant, he'd forgotten what had happened--until he felt the ache in his hand, and the weight on his chest returned.

"Yeah, I'm here," he called out.

"Ja, I see you are." Klavier was standing in his doorway. He'd probably let himself in with that stupid key his mom kept under the rock out back. He was always telling her that that was stupid and burglars were going to find it there someday, but she never listened. At least today, it was Klavier who'd used the key, which wasn't bad, although Daryan felt weird, looking at him. He wasn't used to feeling that way about his best friend. Maybe he shouldn't have searched through Klavier's stuff. Maybe it would have been better if he'd left the whole thing alone, since there was nothing he could do about it anyway.

"Since you're sick today, I thought I'd bring you your favorite, look." He was holding a bag, and he pulled a brightly colored box out of it.

"Gummi sharks?" asked Daryan, incredulous.

"That's right. I know how you love them."

"Klavier, I haven't eaten these things since I was eleven."

"I know, but I thought they might cheer you up."

"You have the craziest ideas sometimes." Daryan shook his head and reached out to take the box anyway, because he kind of did like those things.

"What happened to your hand?" Klavier asked, looking down at the bandage wrapped around the outstretched hand.

"Nothing. I was trying to make a sandwich." It was a lie that made him look stupid, but at least it was believable.

"Why would you do that to yourself? It's no wonder you hurt yourself. I think you're allergic to domesticity."

"No, I'm not! I can make stuff."

"Did you get to eat your sandwich?" Klavier asked.

"No, I gave up."

"I'll make you one, then."

"Klavier, don't--" Daryan began, but, with a wave and a smile, Klavier was already on his way out the door. Daryan heard him walk down the stairs toward the kitchen. He sighed, then opened the box of gummi sharks. They were really good. He'd eaten his way through two packets of them before Klavier returned.

"See, I told you you liked them," said Klavier, eyeing the carnage with a smirk.

"Okay, I like them. But you didn't have to make me a sandwich," he said as Klavier presented him with the plate.

"I didn't want you to starve to death, what with that fast metabolism of yours."

"Real funny." Daryan might have objected to Klavier making him a sandwich, but now that he had it, he was sure as hell going to eat it.

"You look like you're feeling better," said Klavier, when he'd finished.

Klavier tried to take his plate from him, but Daryan was too quick for him. "You're not taking this downstairs and washing it. I'll leave it right here for my mom. It'll give her something to bitch about later. She'll like that." He put it down on the nightstand.

"Ja, okay, I don't want to wash your dirty dishes, believe me. I was just going to put it aside for you." Klavier sat next to him on the bed. "So, you feel better?"

"Yeah."

"Good. I didn't know what to make of your texts. First, 'Sick," then 'Yeah'. They weren't very informative."

"Not everyone likes to write text novels like you."

"Ja, maybe not. But I enjoy composing my text novels." He paused, studying Daryan's face intently. Daryan didn't know what to say, when Klavier looked at him like that. "You should lie down again," his friend said at last. "You still look tired. Rest up."

"Fine," said Daryan. He knew that being bossy cheered Klavier up. He lay down again. The pillow was cool beneath his head. It was true, he did feel tired. Tired and sad. Was he always going to feel that way?

Klavier lay down beside him. Usually Daryan would have objected to that, as it was a little too fruity for him, but today, he didn't say anything about it. Klavier smiled at him. Daryan wished he could say something to his friend, to let him know that he understood what was going on and that he wanted to help, but what could he say? By the way, Klavier, I'm a jerk, I read your diary, and I'm sorry your brother's a sick creep?

"You can go back to sleep if you want," said Klavier. "I'll keep you company."

Daryan's first impulse was to say that sleeping together was way too gay, but he didn't say that. He let Klavier stay where he was. It might have been true that there was absolutely nothing he could do about Klavier's problem, but at least he could try to be a decent friend. "Thanks for the sharks and stuff," he said. "That was nice."

"You're welcome. I've got to look after you, right?"

It wasn't until much later that night, after Klavier had gone home, that Daryan happened to glance at his wastebasket. His mom hadn't emptied it yet. It was still full of all the crap he'd thrown in there over the past few days. Except for one thing. The paper on which he'd copied out the pages from Klavier's journal was gone.
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