“Sir! Sir, please leave the premises immediately, sir, or I will be forced to remove you, sir!”
“Stop chasing me! Schieß, können sie nicht— can you not see who I am?”
It’s way too fucking early in the morning for this, and yet Ema finds herself subject to the inane screaming of two men she knows, neither of whom she particularly likes. She’d rather not spill her much-needed coffee, so she just moves to the side as she waits for the two of them to approach. Really, these dipshits should know better than to run through the prosecutor’s office like this, so she just calmly sticks out her leg and doesn’t feel bad at all when the pursuer trips over it and somehow manages to handcuff himself to his tie.
“Sir, please move away from the intruder, sir! He may be dangerous!” Officer Mike Meekins says shrilly, trying to point a stun gun and disentangle himself at the same time. Ema grabs the weapon out of his hands before he can hurt anyone.
“Don’t worry about it, Meekins. Go back to your post,” she tells him.
He points behind her, where the glimmerous fop has presumably taken refuge. “But sir, he— ”
“I said, don’t worry about it. If you make me repeat myself one more time, I swear I’m gonna fucking— ”
“Eek! Sorry sir, I’ll leave you now, sir, please don’t get angry at me, sir,” Officer Meekins says, tripping over himself in his haste to leave.
“Who the fuck is in charge of hiring,” Ema mutters darkly, watching him go. She’s now in possession of a police grade stun gun, which could absolutely be used to commit a crime were she of that temperament. Which, she’ll admit, would be extremely fucking tempting if she didn’t know how hard it was to get away with it around here.
“Ach, I’d like to know as well,” the prosecutor agrees, climbing down from the nearby basketball hoop that hadn’t been removed for some reason.
Ema pokes him in the chest, hard. “That includes you too, fop. What the hell are you doing, getting chased around here, and by Meekins of all people?”
And that is when she has the dubious pleasure of watching a grown man, her boss, pout. “He claimed he didn’t know who I was. Can you believe that? Honestly.”
Huh. Well, he does look different than usual, Ema supposes; his hair is in a loose ponytail rather than its usual tight braid, and he’s wearing a heather colored keyhole sweater. Still, it’s nothing worth declaring an intruder alert over, for fuck’s sake.
“Yeah, I really don’t care enough to unpack all of that.” With a flip of her hair and a swig of her coffee, Ema continues on her way, yawning as she opens the door to Prosecutor Edgeworth’s office with the background report on one of their rather suspicious witnesses, Trucul Pritt.
“Good morning, Detective,” he says, tucking something into the folds of his cravat. She’s pretty sure it’s one of the new limited release Steel Samurai Pride Collection minifigurines, but that doesn’t seem right. They’re not even in stock online yet, and she’s been checking everywhere for the lesbian Pink Princess one.
“Morning, sir. I’ve got the Pritt report here,” she says, crossing the room to deposit it on his desk. “Oh, and someone’s gotta talk to Officer Meekins.”
He gives one of those world weary sighs that makes her think even if that old comphet celebrity crush of hers has long since faded, he seems like the sort of person who would be fun to go out for drinks and gripe about the world with. “I take it that’s his stun gun in your pocket?”
“Hm.” Prosecutor Edgeworth reaches for his coffee, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Of course it would be. May I ask who that is you’ve brought with you?”
“Mein Gott, du auch?” the fop groans. Apparently he’s decided to tag along behind Ema, which is just fan-fucking-tastic. She’s not paid nearly enough for this.
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow, giving him a glance that could curdle milk. “I beg your pardon?”
“ Sie auch, Herr Edgeworth,” he corrects himself, looking none too pleased about it.
“Detective Skye, must I repeat my earlier query?” Edgeworth says.
“No? Come on, you can’t tell me you don’t recognize him either,” she insists, dragging Prosecutor Gavin into the light. “Officer Meekins just chased him all over the building, calling him an intruder, but surely you’ve got more brains than him.”
“I’m not sure I like your insinuation, detective,” he retorts icily. “Are you going to tell me who this man is, or am I to play some sort of guessing game?”
“Sehr lustig, you two. I know where I’m not wanted.” With a sniff, Ema’s boss turns dramatically on his heel and stalks out, followed shortly by an exclamation from Winston Payne about the intruder in the building.
“Sir. That was Klavier Gavin,” Ema emphasizes. “Is this some sort of officewide prank I wasn’t notified of?”
“Pardon?” Prosecutor Edgeworth blinks rapidly. “This isn’t funny, Detective. No matter one’s feelings on that man, gaslighting will never be okay, nor will I participate in it. Do you mean to tell me, truthfully, that you believe the man who just left my office was Klavier Gavin?”
“Yes, I’m positive of it.”
“Hm. Either you are quite mistaken, or it seems at least three members of our colleagues, myself included, are. And yet, if one wanted to claim to be the famous rock star prosecutor and walk in here with such a sloppy disguise, they’d have quite little to gain, wouldn’t they?”
There’s a cry of pain, then a— heh, a cry of Payne as some sort of physical altercation seems to be taking place outside. “No, sir,” Ema says, moving to shut the door behind her. “It doesn’t make any sense. And I know it was that glimmerous fop— no one else has been able to incite that amount of frustration in me within just a few minutes of conversation. Er, this has no bearing on my professionalism, sir.”
“I’m sure,” he replies dryly. “Well, if you don’t mind satisfying a personal curiosity of mine— ”
“Oh, I’m curious as well,” Ema says with a grin.
“Don’t cause any property damage, please,” Prosecutor Edgeworth says, looking like he regrets waking up this morning. She chugs the rest of her coffee, tosses the cup into his trash can on her way out.
She has to run a bit to catch up, but it’s not terribly hard. When she’s face to face with Klavier Gavin, he’s sulking with an ice pack held up to one cheek.
“Hey, fop,” she says, taking a moment to catch her breath. “Want to help me with a science experiment?”
“Well, seeing as I can’t even enter my own office without being accused of thievery— ” he sniffs dramatically. “What sort of experiment?”
Ema takes a moment to put on her glasses, cackle a bit, and savor the dawning horror on his face. “Social sciences.”
(No one in the entire fucking building realizes it’s him until he braids his hair. Ema figures the laws of the universe would make an exception to that idiot.)
“Ema fucking Skye.” The voice on the line is angry and choked with tears, and no matter her feelings on the man, Ema draws in a sharp breath at the raw emotion. “Did you tell anyone about this?”
“About what, the experiment?”
“What’s left of it.” Klavier Gavin sniffles loudly, and there’s a noise like he’s blowing his nose. “My— my brother, he— shit, I can’t, I can’t do this. ”
“Hey. Fop. What the hell has you in such a state?” Ema demands.
“I— no, priorities first. Um, you’re going to need to alert someone that there’s corruption within the guard at the prison where my brother is being held— I don’t think I could tell you names or descriptions, it’s all a blur, but there should be logs— ”
“Fuck your priorities. Is your brother still in prison, and are you safe,” she cuts in.
“He’s— he’s still there, he— I’m at home, but my hair. He cut my hair.”
Ema blinks. Tries to process. Normally she’d make a comment about his vanity, but seeing as she’s trans, somehow it hits home. When she came out to her sister, experimenting with treatments and growing her hair out long was a routine of theirs, a way to relax in the evenings, something to look forward to. Her online friends in the trans community talked about dyeing their hair different colors, undercuts and trims and the gender euphoria that came with it.
There’s something uniquely violating about having that taken away from you, Ema thinks, and her hand clenches around the phone.
“It all— ” Klavier hiccups, and Ema sighs. Well, she’s in it for the long haul now. Might as well.
“Hey, fop?” She says bluntly, more to interrupt his flow than anything. “I’m coming over so we can talk about this in person.”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good plan.”
“I’m bringing ice cream.” Ema hangs up, and grabs her tennis shoes from the shelf. She tells herself it’s just to console him, sort of like giving a dog some peanut butter in a toy to keep them quiet. She doesn’t actually like Prosecutor Gavin, she just had a fleeting moment of emotion and this is to make the emotion stop happening so she can get some peace and quiet in her head.
This excuse lasts her all the way through a trip to the grocery store, where she finds herself grabbing a tub of rocky road, which she hates. She stares at it in her basket before shoveling in sorbet swirl, neopolitan, and orange creamsicles with some thick plastic spoons thrown on top in case the fop is in such a tizzy he can’t even do his own dishes.
“Open the fuck up, it’s cold out here,” she says to his closed door when she reaches his house.
A single bloodshot eye peers at her through the crack, and she sees that the multiple deadbolts he apparently owns are all in use. Idiot; a lock is only as good as the weakest link of the door itself.
“Detective Skye?” he whispers.
“Drop the formalities, dumbass. You wanna let me in or not?” She hefts the bag in one hand, and he gives her a half smile.
“Yes. Right. The door. I should get some bowls— no, it doesn’t matter, nothing really matters, does it? Not really. Door, door, locks...” He mumbles to himself as he undoes the entire setup with shaking hands, while Ema stands watching helplessly.
Finally, the door opens, and she sees what he’s been talking about. His hair, which is so often carefully braided or smelling of the fragrant oils he rubs into it, is hacked short. It falls loose on his right, in choppy layers with residual waves on the longest bits of it. He tucks it behind his ear, looking close to another sobbing breakdown, and Ema’s throat constricts when she sees the sluggishly bleeding scratches on his neck.
“It doesn’t look that bad, does it?” he asks hopefully.
“Your hair can be fixed. You, however, look like a train wreck.” She dumps her shopping back in the freezer and drags his sorry ass to the bathroom. He doesn’t protest, just shivers pathetically on the edge of his jacuzzi while she rummages in the massive cabinet to get something to patch him up. He flinches, but doesn’t complain as she brusquely scrubs off the blood, takes a picture on her phone for evidence, and slaps some antibiotic and bandages over the worst of it.
“Thank you,” he whispers when she’s done, staring at a point somewhere on the floor.
“Don’t thank me. If I really wanted to do you a favor, I would have sent your lawyer crush to tenderly bandage and kiss your wounds,” she retorts.
He laughs, or maybe it’s a cough. “I think I’d prefer if he didn’t see me this way.”
“Eh, suit yourself.” Personally, it’s been one of her guilty pleasure fantasies to bandage a partner’s wounds while having a homoerotically charged lecture of their recklessness, followed by a passionate makeout session, but she probably reads too much fanfic anyways.
She lets out a massive sigh. “I told you. Drop the fucking formalities.”
“Skye,” he finishes. “Thank you, Skye.”
“Don’t get used to it, Gavin.” She sees his flinch at that word, and mentally berates herself. “No?”
“Klavier is fine. A bit familiar, perhaps, but I would rather not be associated with my family or my band right now.”
“Fine. Klavier.” She surreptitiously grabs an ibuprofen for herself before shoving the entire medicine cabinet back to the approximate state she found it in. “It’s too late at night for telling the authorities about this. Let’s take this somewhere else in your mansion, and you can tell me what happened.”
“Right.” He seems to have composed himself at least somewhat, and fumbles his way to the door using the wall for support. “You said, you— you brought ice cream?”
Ema ducks under his outstretched arm and wraps it around her shoulders, because it’s just fucking painful watching him stagger around like a newborn fawn. “Yeah, and the strawberry is mine. ”
They settle, finally, on a couch. Between consuming a frankly distressing amount of ice cream, Klavier tells her the whole story. How he’d gone to visit his brother in prison, hoping to find some sort of closure, but was met with only the usual sort of conversation. Since they’d last spoken, Klavier told her, he’d done near obsessive amounts of research into gaslighting in order to understand what had happened to him. But with that knowledge, every word from his brother’s mouth made him sick to his core.
There was no glass between them; only a long picnic style aluminum table with a guard standing by. Kristoph had earned that right, he said, through good behavior. That’s when it happened; Klavier stood up to leave, and suddenly his brother grabbed him by the braid and yanked forward, pulling out a pair of scissors that he shouldn’t have had. The struggle was long, and angry, Klavier said with a certain bitterness to his tone. The guard deliberately waited at least half a minute before separating them, and by then, the damage was done.
“I don’t know how word would have gotten to him. I only talked about it with Prosecutor Edgeworth, but if it was my fault, I’m sorry,” she says sincerely. Because hey, she may be an asshole, but she’ll take accountability where it counts.
Klavier shakes his head miserably. “No, I doubt he even knew. He just— wanted to leave some last scar on me, some mark of his presence in my life that it would take years to recover from, years I’ll never get back. Well— he already did that, what with the trauma and all, but— er. Sorry.”
“Your brother,” Ema says, stabbing into the mushy strawberry ice cream underneath the runny melted vanilla, “is a spiteful little bitch. If you want me to fuck him up for you, I could. I’ve got the connections. You want me to dye his hair purple?”
“You didn’t hear it from me, but I would be delighted should my brother’s hair spontaneously turn purple,” Klavier replies. “Ach, I’m a mess.”
“Yeah, you are. Are you done moping?”
He gives her a withering glare. “Mourning.”
“If you want sympathy, go call up Herr Boyfriend and ask if you can cry into his lap. If you want action, I’m the one to talk to. So are you done, or should I break out the sorbet?”
Klavier stares at her so long she thinks she might have crossed a line just now; then he slams his empty tub onto the coffee table. “Let’s do it. Do— something. Something to take back control. Fräulein Skye— how are you with hair?”
She grins. “Good enough for tonight.”
When she’s finished, Klavier looks lighter somehow, yet not quite as vulnerable. He scrubs the remnants of mascara off of his face, sprays his newly shorn hair with product, and strikes a pose.
“Well? Do I look ready to rock and roll?” he asks. His tone might be taken as flirtatious to some, but she’ll admit it’s growing on her. Kind of like a fungus.
Ema dumps the scissors and comb back in a drawer, brushing off bits of hair from her jacket. She’s not the greatest with hair, but it’s symmetrical and looks somewhat stylish. “I’d say yes, but I don’t want to be the one who comes out here to investigate a noise complaint when you start jamming out.”
“Well. It’s the appearance that counts sometimes; or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s the feeling that does.” He inspects himself from another angle and nods. “Moment of truth, then.”
After a what feels like a vain infinity of lighting, angles, and filters, with a full face of makeup to boot, Klavier shows her what he’s posted to instagram. She gives a short huff of laughter at the sparkles and impeccable lighting that contrast sharply with the absolute clusterfuck tonight has been, and scrolls down to read the caption.
Making the best of things! it reads. Here’s hoping Japanifornia is ready for my new look. I may be taking some more time to figure myself out, but that’s okay. Stay safe out there <3
Ema hands the phone back with a nod of approval. She knows a hopeful, genuine smile when she sees one.