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Part one: here
Part two: here

And there's one more part to go, because this ended up getting longer than I expected!

Title: Moment to Moment, Part 3 (of 4)
Characters/Pairings: Apollo/Klavier (overall), Kristoph, Trucy
Word count: 4,370
Rating: PG13
Warnings: References to murder, death; spoilers for Apollo Justice.
Summary: The captive Kristoph Gavin made his escape--then vanished. Months have passed. His disappearance has had quite an effect on the people he knows, but what will happen when he returns?
Notes: Set in the year following Turnabout Succession.



Apollo felt lightheaded. He had to stop walking, his legs suddenly weak, so he leaned up against the nearest wall, taking deep breaths. If Kristoph was back, then everyone was in danger, yet there was no way to prove that he'd returned. There was nothing but this feeling that had come over Apollo. If Klavier had felt anything like this, earlier, it was no wonder he had cut their visit short.

As the thought of Klavier came to him, he frowned, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed his friend's number. He listened to the rings until the call went to voicemail. He didn't bother leaving a message, but hung up the phone, thoughtful. Maybe Klavier had turned off his phone, or gone to bed early, or--any one of a number of reasons might have explained why he hadn't picked up, but Apollo was worried nonetheless.

What if Klavier had been right to be nervous? What if something had happened to him? Apollo redialed him, but again there was no answer. That didn't make him feel any better, but it wasn't more significant than him not picking up the first time. He felt the urge to call yet again, but he couldn't keep on dialing endlessly. If he hadn't picked up already, he wasn't likely to do so soon. He'd call back, if he wanted to. The phone would log how many times he'd called, and if Klavier saw a series of calls, he would likely realize that Apollo had grown worried about him. That wouldn't do his peace of mind any good.

Apollo sighed. What should he do? His fears were so vague, yet they felt so real. His bracelet was tight around his wrist, but he was likely picking up on his own tension, so that didn't necessarily mean anything. He turned over his options in his mind. He could go back to the police station with an abstract and confusing story that they might not be able to do anything about. He could return to his apartment and continue to assure himself that nothing was wrong. Or, he could go back to Klavier's apartment and make sure Klavier was all right.

His dealings with the police force today made him less disposed to choose the first option than he would normally have been. Irrational as it may have been, he felt too nervous to return to his apartment right away. The image of the dark stairwell stayed with him. A dark staircase would be the perfect place to ambush someone, so simple to push them down... It would look like an accident, and even if it was later proven not to be, that wouldn't make the victim of such a crime any more alive. He shuddered at the thought and made up his mind. He'd go check on Klavier, regardless of how silly or paranoid that made him seem.

Apollo was about to set out--even planning on shelling out the money for a cab, for once--when his phone rang again. With Klavier still on his mind, along with the hope that Klavier would call him back, he was so eager to answer that he didn't bother to check the caller ID before picking up, and he all but shouted into the phone. "Hello?!"

There was a startled noise, then laughter on the other end. "Ouch. Wow, Polly, did I catch you in the middle of your voice exercises?"

"Oh." Oops. It was Trucy. "Uh, no. I just--" Probably he should make some attempt at explaining. "I was expecting someone else."

"Someone you're really mad at? Because that hurt my ear."

"Sorry. No, um, it's complicated." Yes, complicated. That was it. He didn't want to alarm Trucy by telling her what was happening, or, more aptly, what he felt was possibly happening. That wouldn't do any good. Unless, somehow, he was right. In which case, she needed to be warned. "Where are you now?"

"I'm at the Wonder Bar. I've got a show tonight. You know, like usual?"

"Right. Okay, good." He paused. With that many people around, she should be fine. "Why did you call me?"

"That's rude. Can't I just call up a Polly and talk to him if I feel like it?"

"Of course you can! I didn't mean it like that." She was probably teasing him, but he felt bad anyway, on the off chance that she meant it a little. "You can call me whenever you want." He paused, thought about what he'd said, then quickly added, "Within reason."

"Good. That's better." She paused. Now that she'd teased him, she was actually going to answer the question of why she'd called, he guessed. Sometimes Trucy was a little too much like Mr. Wright for her own good. "Do you know where Daddy is?"

"No, I don't. I haven't seen him in a while."

"I keep calling his phone, but I he's not picking up."

It was the same as when he'd called Klavier. It wasn't possible that something had happened to Mr. Wright, was it? The agency didn't have any elevators, but Kristoph could have done something else. He could have gotten in somehow and-- No, Apollo couldn't allow himself to think about these things. He had no proof whatsoever that anything was wrong in the first place.

"Apollo?" Trucy asked. There was a questioning note in her voice, and he realized he'd let some time go by without saying anything, preoccupied by his speculations.

"Yeah, I'm here. I don't know where Mr. Wright is. I'm sure he's fine." He tried to make his voice sound cheerful and confident. "You know how he is with his phone. He probably left it somewhere weird, or forgot to charge it, or put it in the washing machine again, or something like that."

"I bet you're right. He is bad with phones, isn't he?" She made a small, thoughtful noise. He knew that noise. He didn't need his bracelet to tell him that now she was going to ask him to do something for her. "Polly, could I ask you a favor? I was going to ask Daddy, but since I can't reach him...."

"Sure, go ahead." He was already resigned to the fate she had in store for him, whatever that might be.

"Like I said, I've got my show tonight, and I have a lot of setting up to do still, but I realized I left something super important back home."

Right. He got where this was going. She wanted him to run an errand for her. "Trucy, my bike was stolen today. I don't think I'll be able to make it in time."

"That's all right! You wouldn't be able to carry this particular thing on your bike anyway!"

He was noticing a significant lack of sympathy where his stolen bike was concerned. "Did you hear what I said? My bike. Was stolen."

Trucy caught on, however belatedly. Her tone changed drastically, sobering with sympathy. He was sure it was largely to get him to do what she wanted, but at least it made him feel a little better. "Aw, I'm sorry, Polly. Don't worry, me and Daddy will figure something out for you. Anyway, do you think you could go get it for me? I'll pay for a cab for you and everything."

Hm, that sounded somewhat better. He'd been planning to pay for a cab himself, but if Trucy wanted to pay for him, then it wouldn't be too bad... Yet as he thought about that, it didn't seem fair to take money from Trucy, who was a teenager, even if she arguably earned more than he did. "No. That's all right. I'll pay for the cab." He could feel his wallet breaking as he spoke. Poor thing. It had so little to live for, but it was so young. "What do you need me to get?" He could combine the errand with his plan to check on Klavier, so it wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Trucy answered immediately, cheerfully. "Bullets!"

"Bullets?" Apollo blinked. "But Trucy, you shouldn't be using weapons in your show." That was a bad idea, for many reasons.

"Bullets the Cat, Apollo."

"Oh! Right. That Bullets." He'd almost forgotten about the cat Trucy sometimes shot out of a giant gun in her act. Probably he'd blocked it out, because it had always seemed like a slightly questionable trick, though Trucy swore that the cat loved it and couldn't get enough of getting shot through the air. Apollo supposed he'd take her word for it, considering that it was generally not easy to get cats to do things they didn't want to do. He didn't see a lot of Bullets, as the cat spent most of its time in Trucy's room or at the Wonder Bar.

Apollo sighed. This presented him with a whole new problem. "But Trucy. Bullets hates me."

"Polly, that's a terrible thing to say! No, he doesn't."

He didn't see how it could be terrible when it was only the truth. "Every time I see him, he claws me."

"That's because he wants your attention. You don't pet him enough."

"I--really don't think that's why, Trucy." He really didn't. Bullets didn't seem to seek him out except to claw his suit or jump on him, or get some fur on him then run off. Most of the time, Bullets ignored and avoided him, which suited Apollo fine, seeing as how the alternatives involved ruining or messing up his suit.

"Sure it is. He loves you."

Apollo sighed. He didn't believe it, but he was willing to go with it, for her sake. "I'll go get Bullets," he found himself saying. How did he get into these things? He was too nice, that was his problem. Either that, or he was a sucker. Yeah, probably it was the sucker thing.

"Thanks, Apollo, you're the best! My hero."

That did make him feel a little better. It was nice to be called the best, even if it was only to butter him up. This was the second time tonight that someone had called him a hero, wasn't it? Klavier had said the same thing. It was flattering, but he hadn't done anything traditionally heroic. "I'll get going now."

"His kitty carrier is right by the door," Trucy added. "I put it there so I wouldn't forget to bring him."

"That plan worked out well."

"Very funny," said Trucy, but she was laughing.

"See you soon," replied Apollo, resigned but somewhat amused himself. "And Trucy?"

"Yes, Polly?"

He was worried about her. Maybe he didn't have any verifiable reason to feel that way, but that was how he felt. "Take care, okay?"

There was a pause on the other end. "You sound really serious. Is something wrong?"

Trucy was as perceptive as always. He should have known better than to let even a little of his worry show. Should he go so far as to warn her when he had no proof? He might just be alarming her for no reason. "Everything's fine, mostly. I'm stressed--about the bike and everything. I've had a long day." No, he had to say something, even if his instincts were off. "I just have this feeling. A feeling that something, somewhere, is really wrong. I can't exactly explain it, but that's what I feel. So be careful, okay? Just in case."

He wasn't sure how he expected her to react, but she replied in all seriousness, "I promise. I will."

She believed him. That, more than anything, made him believe himself. He frowned. If his feeling was right, he had to act. The problem was, if something was wrong, he didn't know exactly what it was, where it was happening, or what to do about it. Yet he felt a greater sense of determination as he told her, "I'll be there soon! Don't go anywhere till I get there!" He was dimly aware that he was yelling again, but Trucy didn't complain about the volume this time.

***


Considering the way the beginning of the night had gone, Apollo was half-expecting something to go wrong during the cab ride. Either the cab would break down, or he'd have trouble with the cab driver, or would discover he had lost his wallet. Much to his surprise, everything went smoothly. He slipped a hand in his pocket and found that his wallet was still there, as was the money it contained. This small success was a pleasant change of pace, though it did little to alleviate his anxiety. Without a problem at hand to focus on, he had nothing to do in the cab but sit back and worry about his other, less well-defined trouble.

He was relieved when the vehicle finally pulled up in front of Klavier's apartment building. He all but jumped out of the cab, telling the driver to wait as he ran to the door. The doorman, who must have sensed his alarm, looked at him quizzically as he approached, with a tentative, "Good evening, sir?"

"Hi, I'm here to see Klavier Gavin." The words came out in a rush.

"He isn't in now. Would you like me to have the concierge leave a message for you?"

"He's not?" Apollo frowned, remembering how Klavier had given the impression of wanting to stay in, by himself. Had that actually been what he'd intended to do? "Can you tell me how long he's been out?"

"I'm afraid I can't give out that information." The doorman looked slightly suspicious of him now, which hadn't been the reaction Apollo was hoping for. He didn't need a mistrustful doorman. Not that he thought it would hinder him, but it didn't help him either.

He backed off, with an apologetic smile. "Right. Of course. I'll catch up with him later." The doorman's reluctance didn't matter a great deal. Now that he knew Klavier was out, he could construct a kind of timeline for himself. He pondered it as he headed back to the cab, which had waited for him as requested: another thing that had gone right. What had happened, earlier that evening? Klavier had been preoccupied, then had more or less asked him to leave. Then Apollo hadn't heard from him until he'd gotten all the way to his apartment. At that point, he'd called Apollo and told him to go to the police station. Maybe he'd initially wanted, not to be alone, but to investigate what had happened to the elevator and the lights? What if, between Apollo's departure and Klavier's call, Klavier had discovered something? In that case, his call could have had the ulterior motive of getting Apollo out of the way, sending him somewhere safe. Detective Gumshoe had spent a lot of time delaying him, though Apollo couldn't say for sure whether that was the plan or simply the detective's way.

What if Klavier had found something to make him think that Kristoph had come back? It was something of a logical leap, but combined with his suspicion and feeling of unease, it struck Apollo as plausible. In that case, what would Klavier have done? He couldn't have--he couldn't have gone looking for his brother, could he? Yet this was the same person who'd gone out of his way to make sure that his brother had been institutionalized instead of jailed and later executed.

Oh no. What if he had tried to track him down, to reason with him? Apollo had to find him, wherever he'd gone.

"Where to?" the cabdriver asked.

Apollo asked himself the same question. Where else would Klavier have gone, if he were looking for Kristoph? If Kristoph returned, he would undoubtedly be looking for revenge. What other reason would he have to come back? He'd be risking capture, so it would have to be a strong motivation that drew him back to a place where he might be recognized and apprehended. Kristoph had already proved that he had a vengeful nature. Where would he go, and what would he do?

It wasn't hard to guess who Kristoph would most want to harm. Apollo himself. Vera. Possibly Trucy. Klavier. And Phoenix. Especially Phoenix.

Oh no.

Hadn't Trucy said that she didn't know where Phoenix was? That could mean... It could mean anything, but most of the things he thought it might mean were unpleasant. All Apollo's doubts regarding the cab driver's question dissolved in an instant. "The Wright Anything Agency! And hurry!"

"Keep it down, buddy, I hear you. And you'll have to give me an address. I don't know where that is."

"Oh--right." Shamefaced, Apollo gave him the address.

"Hurrying I can do, though," said the driver. Apollo wasn't sure, but he thought the man winked at him.

He was true to his word, and Apollo would have said they made record time on the way to the agency, but he was used to biking the distance, so he wasn't sure about that. It felt like record time, what with all the speeding and swerving. By the end of the ride, Apollo was relieved to get out of the cab for quite a few reasons. He suspected he might be suffering from a mild case of whiplash, but he had needed that speed, so he thrust a twenty into the driver's hand before dashing off. At a time like this, every moment counted.

As he swiftly made his way to the agency door, Apollo noticed something odd. There was a commotion from the direction of People Park, the sound of music playing and voices, as of a crowd of--well, people. People were to be expected at People Park, but it was so late. What could be happening there? He glanced in the direction of the park, but he didn't have time to investigate that now. He had to check out the agency. If there was nothing unusual there, all the better. He'd get Bullets the Cat, then he'd take the cat to the Wonder Bar and make sure Trucy was safe. After that, he wasn't sure what he'd do, but he'd decide when he got to that point.

For now, he was concentrating on putting his key in the lock of the agency door. It was a good sign that it was locked, wasn't it? There was no sign that anyone had forced their way in. He opened the door and saw nothing but darkness beyond. Okay, that wasn't particularly unusual, if both Trucy and Phoenix were out. He had to stay calm. He closed the door behind him and reached for the light switch. To his relief, the lights came on at once, without a flicker. There was nothing out of place in the agency, not that he could see from where he stood. Good, it looked like everything was normal here. The pet carrier for Bullets was even by the door, as Trucy had said it would be. He let out the deep breath he'd been holding in, reassured.

He just had to find Bullets. The cat was usually in one of the bedrooms, or in the kitchenette, when he was hungry. The kitchenette being closest, Apollo decided to check there first, but a moment before he stepped into the small half-room, he froze. He could see from the light of the front room that there was something lying on the kitchen floor. No, not something. Someone. What he was seeing was someone's legs, though he couldn't see the rest of them from this angle. A wave of panic washed over him, cold. He didn't have a weapon or anything whatsoever to defend himself with, other than his own two hands, and he was no martial arts expert. He fought the urge to panic, but it was hard not to. He was frantically trying to decide what to do when a low voice spoke from the kitchenette. "Please come in, Apollo."

He knew that voice. How could he have forgotten it? At the sound, he took a step forward, moving closer, almost against his own will, as if the voice had some odd power over him. He couldn't turn away, especially not if what he suspected was true. He wasn't wrong. He entered to find Klavier lying on the floor, with Kristoph standing behind him, smiling as Apollo approached. There was a gun in Kristoph's hand, and Klavier wasn't moving.

Apollo realized he was shaking, with both anger and fear, as he regarded the man he'd once trusted and respected as his mentor and employer. "What did you do?"

Kristoph remained perfectly still. The gun in his hand was aimed at Apollo. "Calm yourself," Kristoph instructed. "For now, he's only unconscious. My brother is very curious and very persistent." He smiled. "Unfortunately for him."

"Leave him alone." Apollo's anger outweighed his fear enough for him to manage to speak those words. "He didn't do anything to you."

Kristoph watched Apollo, or it seemed as if he were watching him. The only light was from the next room, and it was difficult to tell the direction of his gaze behind his glasses. He must have been standing here in the dark with Klavier. No, there was a flashlight on the counter, and another one on the floor, both of them turned off. The window in here was also broken, and shattered glass glittered around the sink, which explained how Kristoph had entered the agency. Klavier must have been looking for him, and he must have found the same way in.

Apollo's gaze went to Klavier, his throat tightening and his chest seizing up. Klavier's eyes were closed, but he was relieved to see that what Kristoph had said was true. Apollo could see from where he stood that Klavier was still breathing through slightly parted lips, though his eyes were closed, his fair hair spread across the floor. He'd never felt so worried, yet at the same time, so relieved. There was no sign of blood anywhere, thankfully. Kristoph must have knocked him out with either the flashlight or the butt of his gun. That didn't mean he wasn't in danger. Not only was Kristoph standing over him, but Klavier could have a concussion. He needed medical attention. Apollo wished Klavier had told him what was wrong at once instead of going off by himself to confront his brother. It had been brave of him, but also foolish.

"I'm not sure yet," said Kristoph, his cool voice cutting through Apollo's thoughts, "if I'll be capable of killing my own brother. Fratricide is a crime I'm not yet guilty of. What do you think, Apollo?" He gestured toward Apollo with the gun, moving it toward him. "Will I add yet another item to my long list of offenses against the law, or will familial feeling win out?"

"Don't. Just--don't hurt him anymore. Please. Leave him alone."

Kristoph raised his eyebrows, visibly amused. "Your concern is moving. You were together earlier in the evening. Tell me, have the two of you become--very close?"

So Kristoph had been at Klavier's apartment. "We're friends."

"Friends? Is that so. Then I'm sorry I must deprive my brother of a friend. Your life will not be spared. After all, I have no familial feeling for you, Apollo. There is nothing to stay my hand."

"I know that," Apollo said. Once, he'd thought that Kristoph valued him, cared for him. He'd learned that that wasn't true, in what had likely been the most public and painful way possible. In court, in front of everyone there. Everyone had seen that he'd meant nothing to his mentor, that he'd been duped, working for a murderer. How had he been foolish enough to trust Kristoph? Wasn't he supposed to be so perceptive? It was true that he hadn't known about his ability then, but he'd been so stupid. Now Kristoph was going to kill him. If Apollo had realized what was happening sooner, if he'd done more, if he'd gotten here faster, could he have stopped this from happening? It could have been a matter of moments, of countless tiny details, that had made the difference between life and death. There was no way to know, now, how things might have gone differently.

He wondered if this was the real Kristoph standing before him in the kitchenette. This wasn't the friendly, eloquent man he'd once worked for; nor was he the furious, uncontrolled man Apollo had seen on the stand that once, racked with bitter laughter. No, the man Kristoph was in this moment was somewhere between the two. "You're taking this far more calmly than I'd expected, Apollo. So unlike your usual, emotional self, that boy I remember so well. Perhaps you have matured somewhat. I'd expect you to beg for your life, or at least the safety of your friends."

Maybe he had matured, or maybe it was more that he was frozen before Kristoph, unable to do anything to help himself or his friends. He'd looked up to Kristoph for years. He'd thought he was intelligent, respectable, gifted, everything Apollo had wanted to be. Now he felt powerless. He'd faced off against Kristoph before, but that had been in court, both of them surrounded by people. Here, he was alone.

Or was he? Above Kristoph's head, he saw a sudden movement atop the cabinets.

Could it be--?

It was!

With a sudden, sharp yowl, Bullets the Cat jumped down from the top of the cabinets and onto Kristoph's head.
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