That Freelance Kid

Chapter 16

"Your brother?" Ema asked, surprised.

"I've never mentioned him before," Klavier confessed. "But he is, in a way, the cause of all this."

"I don't understand..." Ema confessed, her hands trembling.

"Then I will explain. I will finally explain." Klavier took a deep breath, then looked towards Apollo. Once Apollo had given him a nod of encouragement, he turned back towards Ema.

"My brother's name is Kristoph-he is my older brother, and he's a lawyer."

Ema opened her mouth to interject, but Apollo shook his head and held up a finger to his lips. "Listen." He mouthed. Ema took in a deep breath, then refocused her attention on Klavier.

"I know it is sounds confusing, but I promise I will make everything clear." Klavier reassured. "My brother Kristoph was a famous lawyer, much like Herr Wright. He's truly gifted, and able to best any prosecutor who challenged him in court. Despite his talents, my brother also has," Klavier paused, looking for the right word "He also has some...troubling issues as well.

"Despite my brother's involvement with the law, he was a murderer. It turns out my brother dealt with any rivals or unsavory witnesses by taking them permanently out of the picture-and he had an impressive head count when he was arrested. The thing is, he never would have been thrown in jail if it weren't for me.

"I was the first one to notice that certain lawyers and witness friends of his were ' disappearing' after meeting with him. They were mostly prosecutors that had bested my brother in court, or witnesses that had blew his cases. I knew it had something to do with my brother. Call it sibling intuition, ja?" Klavier explained, with a rueful smile.

"Even though I was just a rock and roll obsessed teen with a minimal interest in law, I led an investigation of my own. But my brother was smart and meticulous, and the evidence was hard to find. I won't go into much detail, but once I found a large amount of...disturbing evidence, I struggled for weeks about whether to go to the police or not.

"I was so afraid, Ema." Klavier said, staring intently into Ema's eyes. Apollo knew that it was the two of them now, in their own world, but he couldn't help but stay regardless.

"My parents had died only a few years before all it had started. Part of me wondered, maybe that was the reason Kristoph had snapped? He seemed so well put together; he managed to take care of both of us for a long time while balancing his career, but maybe...maybe it was too much for him.

"I decided I had do what was right, now matter how much I cared for my brother. His trial lasted months, my brother fought with everything in him the guilty verdict, but to no avail. Kristoph was sentenced to life in prison.

"I remember the last time I spoke to my brother before they locked him away. His eyes had turned so cold, and he was so pale and drawn, like a ghost. I wanted...I wanted to apologize. I don't know why, but I felt I had to tell him that I was sorry. He just stared at me, with those hard, cold eyes, and then he spoke to me for one last time.

"'When I get out of this place, I will make sure to destroy everything you hold dear, as you have destroyed me.'

"I was scared, Ema. Terrified, even. It was a long time I pushed his words to the back of my mind, and tried to live a normal life. I moved to the US, and decided to pursue my career in law, as a prosecutor. I wanted to be everything my brother wasn't. But it wasn't until I met Redd White that I learned that Kristoph's word's might have been a veiled promise.

"I met him for the first time at a party a couple of months ago. Actually Ema, you were there, and I had gone to look for you. Do you remember?"

Ema closed her eyes, replaying the memory in her head. "I think so." She replied. "But I've never met him."

"Good." Klavier replied. "He had mentioned my brother's name while speaking to another..associate of his. I had to know. Despite every instinct telling me not to do it, I went over and demanded to know what exactly he knew about my brother. I remember he paused, looked me up and down, and smiled. And I realized I was trapped.

"Mr. White did indeed know much about my brother-and he assured me that knowledge would come at a hefty sum. He originally asked for over thirty thousand dollars for each time he gave me any information."

Ema couldn't help but gasp. "Did he think you'd agree to that much money?" Ema asked.

"I'm not sure," Klavier replied. "But I know he is a cunning man. No matter how much I bargained, the verdammt swindler would not lower his price. I was in a rut, Ema, you see? I had to find out about Kristoph, but I couldn't hand over all that money without you noticing, and ruining us. So I..."

Klavier paused, then lowered his eyes to the pavement "This is where...April May comes in."

"After meeting with Redd White a few times, I could tell that he and Ms. May had a...complex relationship. And I decided to take advantage of it. I won't lie to you Ema-I wanted April May to like me; I needed her so I could get into Mr. White's good graces.

"I only meant for us to be friends, however. So she could put in a good word for me, and convince Redd White to lower his prices for his information. But it didn't take long before I noticed her behavior had changed...and I knew she wanted more than friendship.

"So I...I indulged. I flirted with her, just a little- a smile here, a wink there, and each time I felt ashamed. I felt like I had gone back to my old lifestyle, even though I had taken vows with you..." Klavier paused to pull Ema in a little closer, and she obliged, dreading the next thing he would say.

"Did..." Ema paused. "Did you two...?"

"No, no, not ever." Klavier finished. "But April May is under the impression that we did."

"What do you mean by that?" Ema asked.

Klavier took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "It was after another social. April May had too much to drink, and as usual tried to force herself on me...and she was insistent. She begged me to go back to her place, and was angry when I refused. So she slapped me, and walked off with another guy, all while Redd White wore the smug smile on his face. When I met them again, April was so sure that it was me that she slept with me-she was so drunk she didn't remember what happened correctly; she didn't even remember hitting me. It didn't matter how much I argued with her, she wouldn't let it go. And it wasn't long till Redd White began to play along with her delusions.

"When she left, Redd White proposed his new price to me and, to my surprise, it was much lower; it would barely even touch our income. When I asked him why, he shrugged his shoulders and said that the dirt he has on me is...is priceless. If I ever refused to pay him, or was late on a payment, he would use April's lie against me and release her tale to the public. It would ruin me, Ema...and it would ruin us."

Klavier paused and raked his hand through his hair. "I was trapped, Ema. I continued to pay him, but only got a minimal amount of information. He said the smaller the price, the smaller increments of information. All I know is that my brother mangled to use his legal pull to get an early release from prison, and now he's working his way to the US, possibly to get to me. And at the same time I had to continue to appease April May; I was afraid if I rejected her, she would go to the public anyway. When you caught April and I dancing that night, I was trying my best to keep her happy, just so she wouldn't say anything. But that doesn't excuse what I've done to you-I've failed to keep you happy, the most important woman in my life.

"I'm sorry, Ema. I'm sorry for deceiving you, and hurting you, and...and scaring you. I was so upset when you accused me of cheating, but I realize how foolish that was. I was so blind, so stupid. I thought I could protect you by hiding everything, but I realize now I only made you suffer."

Ema was quiet for a long time, processing the whole situation. Tears flowed freely from her eyes.

"Klavier," she whispered, at a loss for words. There was a long silence before Ema finally spoke up again. "I..."

"Deep down, I knew I should have told you. " He interrupted. "But I was afraid...I was afraid that if I told you about Kristoph's...mental instability, you would be afraid of me, that you would think insanity runs in the family. Especially after...I lost my temper. To be honest, I was unsure myself if…"

Ema didn't wait for him to finish and wrapped her arms around him.

"I forgive you," She said hurriedly, "And I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have been so quick to leave, and to judge-"

"Ema, please." Klavier interjected gently. "Don't apologize. You were just a victim of my stupidity, nothing more. I should have told you."

"And I should have been more willing to listen." Ema replied.

Klavier smiled, then pulled Ema in for a kiss. Apollo took that as his cue to leave. Before he could though, Klavier spoke up.

"Thank you, Herr Justice." He said.

Apollo eyes widened, startled. "Y-you're welcome?"

"If it wasn't for you being willing to involve yourself in our situation, Ema and I would have ever come to an understanding, ja? I should thank you for that night at the motel, too. If it wasn't for what you told me, I don't think I would ever have had the courage to face Ema again."

Apollo's face flushed. Though I didn't exactly involve myself. It was Mr Wright, he thought, but decided not to say anything

Klavier stood up from the curb, and helped Ema to her feet. Ema sniffed, then said to Apollo, "He's right, you know I don't know you very well, but...thanks, Mr. Justice. It means a lot to me that you were there to help Klavier."

Apollo blushed again, then cleared his throat. "What are you guys going to do now?" He asked.

This time Ema smiled, and it was a welcome sight to Klavier's eyes. "I'd really like to go home, go to sleep, and try to put all of this behind us." She confessed tiredly.

"Sounds like a plan, mein leibe." Klavier agreed.

Apollo couldn't help but give a smile. "I think I'm gonna go, too." He said. "I have some business to discuss with Mr. Wright."

"I didn't know that you a friend of Mr. Wright!" Ema announced. "Could you tell him I'm leaving?"

He nodded. "Sure thing."

With that, Klavier put his arm around Ema's shoulder. They walked off, and Apollo continued to take in the cool night air. He took in a deep breath, then let out a huge sigh. He looked up at the hotel, and idly watched the glowing letters advertising the name 'Gatewater Hotel' for a few moments. He was just about to head back inside when none other than Phoenix Wright stepped out, a self-assured smile on his face.

"Where's Klavier and Ema?" Phoenix asked, though Apollo had a feeling he already knew.

"They worked it out, thankfully, so they left. They both looked tired."

"I bet. So, Justice, everything went well?

Apollo rubbed the bracelet on his wrist. "As well as expected."

Phoenix nodded. "I knew you could do it."

"Me?" Apollo asked, pointing to himself. "I hardly did anything. I just told Klavier to fess up, that's all"

"But it was you who told him. And he trusted you enough to listen."

"He would've listened to you too."

"Maybe, but I think you did just a fine job of your own." Phoenix said.

There was a brief silence before the ex-attorney spoke again. "So, what was it that Klavier had to fess up?"

Apollo told him everything; about Redd White, April May, and most importantly Kristoph Gavin.

Phoenix listened intently, then sighed when Apollo finished. "Kristoph Gavin, huh? I've heard the name before, from a friend of mine in Germany. He was a good lawyer, apparently, and then he snapped and started killing witnesses and prosecutors." Phoenix shook his head, disgusted. "It makes me sick. As a lawyer, you're supposed to uphold the law and seek the truth. The minute you start thinking of court cases as a competition, you stop looking for the truth, and instead for satisfaction and piles of money. And that's were the corruption starts."

Apollo listened in stunned silence. "Mr. Wright-" he started, but Phoenix cut him off.

"That's enough about that, though. I want to ask you something." Phoenix smiled. "Do you think you can write that next book now?"

The question took Apollo off guard. For a while he just blinked at Mr. Wright, wondering if he had heard him right. When the question finally set in, Apollo laughed.

He hadn't meant to, but the question seemed so mundane in comparison to everything that had happened. And Mr. Wright had looked so serious when he asked!

"You're serious?" Apollo asked when he finally pulled himself together.

"Of course I am."

Apollo hesitated. "Well, I don't really know."

Phoenix rubbed the scruff on his chin. "Why do you think you couldn't write it before?"

Apollo shrugged "I don't know. I guess I just wasn't...inspired, at the time"

"And why not?"

"I just couldn't write anything."

"Why is that?"

Apollo bristled. He hated when Mr. Wright needled him like this. "I didn't have anything to write about!" Apollo admitted, ashamed.

"Nothing to write about?"

Apollo sighed. "It's just...while I was writing my new novel, I realized something was missing. My main character's relationship just felt...fake. Like something wasn't there. I realized I couldn't publish a book with no substance."

Phoenix crossed his arms. "What do you mean by fake?"

"They just seemed...too perfect, I guess. Every conflict they had resolved to soon, and I just couldn't get it to work. Sometimes I tried to base their relationship on Vera and me, but it just wasn't working." Apollo didn't look at Phoenix during his confession. When he finally locked eyes with him, he had only one question. "But why do you care, Mr. Wright? Is this really the issue here?"

"In fact, Justice, it is. Remember what I promised you before this started? I said this would help the Gavins, but I said it would help you too."

"I still don't see..."

"Think about it. I know you're a romance novelist, but didn't you learn something about relationships during this whole thing? Something that can maybe add to your book?"

Apollo scratched his head. "Maybe..." he reflected. Suddenly he laughed. "Maybe I should model my next conflict from Ema and Klavier. You know, something like a rich couple, a shady businessman and a socialite, and he's holding a dark secret from his wife, and the story is about the pursuit of honesty and how it defines a core part of relationships-" Apollo stopped, his eyes widening.

Phoenix merely arched his eyebrows and smirked.

"Oh my God." Apollo exclaimed.

"Would you look at that," Phoenix replied. "That seems like an interesting premise for a romance novel. I'm not in to them, normally, but maybe if I saw something like that in the store..."

When Apollo didn't reply, Phoenix spoke up. "I enjoyed doing business with you, Justice. I think you did a great job. And hey, if you need anything," Phoenix reached into his pocket, and handed him another card for his Anything Agency. "You know where to find me."

Phoenix turned, but before he could leave Apollo asked, "You're not staying?"

Phoenix shrugged. "Nah, parties like this aren't my scene. And I'm getting the feeling their not yours either."

"Yeah," Apollo admitted. "I'm gonna go too," he smiled. "Maybe write a few chapters when I get home."

Phoenix nodded. "See you around, Justice. I hope I see that new book of yours soon too."

Apollo watched as Mr. Wright finally walked away, down the street to his office. When he far enough away, Apollo muttered to himself.

"Thanks, Mr. Wright. I owe you one."


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