It had to be considered some form of blasphemy, Apollo supposed, to be an aspiring defense attorney working as a personal assistant to a prosecutor. Granted, his personal assistant duties were more for said prosecutor’s life in general, rather than his law career, but that was beside the point.
It all started - and quickly escalated - during a guest lecture at Themis Legal Academy. Apollo had been a bright-eyed freshman at the time, the kind who took meticulous notes and sat in the front row of every lecture, determined to soak up every bit of knowledge he could. After all, law had been his passion ever since he was a child, something that other children usually thought was uncool. Even at Themis, his enthusiasm seemed to surpass his classmates’ at times, though there were some professors and guest lecturers who appreciated his efforts.
“Mr. Justice, was it?”
Apollo looked up from his desk, where he’d been packing up his things. “Oh! Yes, sir, that’s me.” He internally winced at how loud his voice had gotten, echoing across the mostly-empty lecture hall.
“You asked good questions today. Tough questions, the kind that freshmen usually never even dream of. I’m always glad to see students like you in my talks.” Kristoph Gavin cocked his head sideways, looking Apollo up and down. His gaze was unnerving, especially behind his wire-rimmed glasses, like he was inspecting Apollo for flaws. “This is rather sudden, but...I might have a job opening that would be of interest to you.”
Naturally, Apollo had assumed it was an internship at Gavin Law Offices, one of the best firms in the city. Though it wasn’t Apollo’s dream workplace - he had always been more fascinated by the Wright & Co. Law Offices, found himself drawn to it for whatever reason - he wasn’t about to tell the Kristoph Gavin that.
Only, it turned out not to be what he’d assumed at all. Instead, a week after their meeting, he found himself standing in front of a noticeably hungover Klavier Gavin in his penthouse apartment’s living room, who was wearing a too-tight t-shirt and a large pair of sunglasses that were doing a poor job of concealing his bloodshot eyes.
“...ah, how old did you say you were?”
Apollo blinked. “Um, I didn’t. I’m nineteen.”
When Klavier didn’t reply, Kristoph cleared his throat. “My brother is twenty-one.”
Klavier straightened up in his seat. “Does he not know who I am?” He sounded more curious than arrogant, surprised rather than offended, but the question itself still made Apollo bite his lip to stop himself from rolling his eyes.
“It’s clear to me that he knows more about me than he does about you,” Kristoph replied, his tone clipped. Already, his patience seemed to be wearing thin. “Mr. Justice, all you need to know is that my brother somehow became both the lead singer of a world-famous rock band and the youngest prosecutor at the prosecutor’s office at the age of seventeen. As a result, he finds himself incredibly busy. He already has a manager to handle the band’s affairs and a publicist to help maintain his reputation, but I’m of the opinion that he needs a personal assistant to help him with the more...mundane tasks.”
“...personal...assistant?” Apollo repeated in disbelief.
“I could tell when we met that you were persistent, someone not easily deterred by obstacles or difficulties,” Kristoph continued, ignoring him. “Given my brother’s...eccentricities, I expect you’ll do well. Plus, working for him will open doors to both the prosecutor’s office and my law firm. Would that not be to your advantage, Mr. Justice?”
“Mr. Gavin, I really appreciate that you thought so highly of me, b-but I’m not - ”
“Ach, Kristoph, I never said I needed a personal assistant, and now you drag some unassuming student away from their studies - ”
Unfortunately, both of their protests fell on deaf ears. After much needling and persuading and steely-eyed glaring on Kristoph’s part, somehow, Apollo ended up starting his new job a few days later. He was nervous, unsure of what to expect from Klavier’s so-called “eccentricities”. The pay was excellent, far beyond anything Apollo imagined himself making before graduating law school, but it was the work itself that concerned him.
Apollo arrived at Klavier’s apartment a little more prepared than last time, dressed smartly in the red waistcoat and slacks he usually saved for mock trials and presentations, his laptop and agenda tucked safely into the leather satchel slung over his shoulder. He’d been granted security clearance into the building and the elevators, along with his own six-digit passcode that would let him into Klavier’s unit. Standing outside, Apollo punched the numbers into the keypad, took a breath, and then opened the door.
“Ah, guten tag, Apollo. Can I get you anything to drink?”
Apollo nearly bit his tongue in surprise at the sight of Klavier leaning against the back of the couch - one of the couches, anyway, there were several throughout the apartment - wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, unzipped, with nothing underneath. He was taking a long swig from his reusable water bottle, his short hair kept out of his eyes with an elastic headband, revealing the beads of perspiration dotting his forehead.
“Oh, I-I’m not thirsty!” Phrasing, Apollo, phrasing, he scolded himself. “Were you, um, working out just now, Mr. Gavin?”
“Bitte, Mr. Gavin is my brother. Just call me Klavier, ja?” Apollo was adamantly doing his best not to stare at his abs; they seemed to flex as he spoke. “Just came back from a run, actually. Got stopped by a few fans, but they were very polite. They only wanted a selfie, not an autograph.”
“Is that...a good thing?” Apollo asked.
“My autograph can sell for thousands to just about anyone, but the photo would only be meaningful to them. They wanted a memory, not a memento,” Klavier explained, walking towards the kitchen. He began refilling his bottle with the fridge’s water dispenser. “So, I read mein Bruder’s background check on you. There was nothing about your life from before you came to this country when you were nine years old, nor did he find out where you were originally from.”
“O-oh?” Apollo squirmed, rubbing at his wrist.
Sensing Apollo’s discomfort, Klavier glanced over his shoulder to look at him. “Not that it matters, of course. All that matters is that you aren’t a thief or a murderer, and you are who you say you are.” Klavier then smiled, gesturing at the kitchen island barstools across from him. “Go on, sit. No need to be shy.”
Apollo sat down, carefully shrugging off his bag at his feet. “So what can I do for you, Mr. - uh, Klavier?”
“You’re learning already,” Klavier teased, sounding far too delighted for Apollo’s taste. “Well, today’s my day off from the courts. All I have planned is my livestream later tonight. I sing and play songs, answer some questions, talk about my week. It’s the best way to connect with my fans, you know?”
“Uh, sure,” Apollo said. “So I’ll be helping you with that, then?”
“Ja, I do it from my home recording studio, so I just need it to be cleaned up. Oh, and make sure the equipment is set up and working,” Klavier added. “I would do it myself, but I have conference calls all day. The prosecutor’s office, my record label, not to mention the touring company. The Gavinners are going to Europe next year, so...lots to talk about.”
Apollo blinked. “Wait, that’s it? You want me to clean and set up one room?”
“What were you expecting?” Klavier said curiously.
“It’s just - well, from what your brother said about you and what I read when I looked you up online, I thought...I wasn’t expecting you to be so - ”
“Charming?” Klavier leaned forward with a flashy grin.
“ - I was going to say normal,” Apollo said, his brow furrowing somewhat. “I was expecting you to ask me to separate your Skittles by color, or to rent out the entire Eiffel Tower, o-or to find a unicorn in a candy forest, or…” He trailed off, his cheeks starting to heat with embarrassment.
“I expect perfection, not the impossible,” Klavier said with a good-natured laugh. “But, if you want me to be ridiculous, I’m more than willing to meet your expectations.” If Apollo didn’t know any better, he would have said Klavier’s tone was almost flirtatious now.
“...expectations, right.” Apollo cleared his throat. “Still, you called me here pretty early. Unless your studio’s the size of a basketball court, it shouldn’t take me all day to clean. Are you sure there’s nothing else I can do for you?”
“Ah, I did want you here early for a reason.” Klavier pulled a glass out of one of the cupboards, filled it with water and ice, then slid it across the kitchen island to stop neatly by Apollo’s elbow. “I thought we could get to know each other better between my conference calls. Hard to be my personal assistant if I don’t know anything personal about you, ja?”
Apollo stared down at the glass in front of him, unsure of what to say. The ice cubes were in the shape of the Gavinners’ logo. “I don’t mean any offense, Mr. - uh, Klavier - but I’m sort of a private person. Unless there’s something you need to know about me that relates to my job, I’d rather not share too much.”
Klavier frowned. Apollo silently wondered if he’d somehow already messed up, twisting his fingers anxiously in his lap. Then, Klavier carefully schooled his expression into something more pleasant, though it was definitely more strained than before. “Fair enough. Let me show you around the apartment.”
It was dizzying, how expansive - and expensive - Klavier’s apartment was, boasting a home gym, a screening room, and a personal office alongside the recording studio, a surprising number of guest bedrooms, and multiple lavish-looking bathrooms. Apollo couldn’t help but question how many of his and Clay’s apartment could fit into Klavier’s floor plan.
After the tour was over, Klavier went to shower and then shut himself inside his office to take his calls, leaving Apollo to clean the recording studio. It was hardly messy; there were a few headsets and guitars laying around and a week’s worth of dust settling on the equipment at most. He was reasonably satisfied that everything was up to Klavier’s standards by lunchtime.
“You’re free to spend the rest of the day however you’d like,” Klavier said when they sat down to eat the food Apollo had ordered for them. “But I’ll want your help during the livestream. Filtering questions, picking out song requests, that kind of thing. I’ve been doing it by myself up until now, but it’ll be more efficient with you there.”
“Okay, sure,” Apollo nodded. “I’m surprised you didn’t have someone helping with that stuff before.”
“Like I said to Kristoph, I really don’t have the need for a personal assistant. However, he is correct that I’m getting busier,” Klavier admitted. “Probably better to start with you now than to go looking for someone when I’m too overwhelmed to even think about it.”
“I know this wasn’t really what either of us planned, but...I’m glad I can be here to help,” Apollo said sincerely.
Klavier’s face softened. “I’m glad you’re here, too,” he said quietly. Apollo didn’t know how to respond to that.
Later that evening, after Klavier spent his afternoon on the phone and Apollo spent his afternoon on homework, they met up again in the recording studio. Klavier, dressed casually, sat on a stool in front of a patterned tapestry with one of his acoustic guitars in hand. Apollo was comfortably settled in an armchair behind the camera, his laptop open to the livestream chat.
He wasn’t sure what to expect; in his research, he never watched any of Klavier’s previous livestreams, only his performances and a handful of television interviews. Klavier certainly seemed as flashy as he’d expected, constantly flirting with whatever camera was in his face or whichever person he was speaking to. He was gorgeous and charismatic, sure, but Apollo couldn’t see how the more down-to-earth setting would suit Klavier’s louder-than-life attitude.
The livestream began with a song - 13 Years Hard Time For Love, not that Apollo was familiar with it - then Klavier started talking about his week. He spoke mostly of his band’s recording sessions, though Apollo soon noticed a few fans asking about his court cases and couldn’t help but direct Klavier toward them out of his own interest. It didn’t take long for people to start wondering what Klavier was looking at whenever his gaze seemed to wander.
“Ah, I see many of you asking if someone is here with me,” Klavier chuckled. “Ja, I have a personal assistant now. He just started today, actually. Be kind to him and don’t ask any questions that will get you banned, alright?” He paused to read the rapidly-scrolling chat, then laughed again. “Sorry to disappoint, but he is not mein Freund. Bit of a shame, though, I think he’s rather cute.”
Apollo felt his cheeks redden once more, making a mental note to look up mein Freund when he got home.
After the livestream ended, Klavier seemed more cheerful than he’d been all day, yawning and stretching pleasantly with a lazy smile on his face. “I think that went well. What did you think, Apollo?”
“You answered some pretty invasive stuff,” Apollo said, shuddering when he remembered the question about Klavier’s last relationship. He couldn’t fathom talking about something so intimate, so personal, to thousands of strangers. “But, uh, thanks for not telling them anything about me when they asked. I don’t wanna know what your fans would do if they knew my name.”
“You said you were a private person,” Klavier shrugged. “I can respect that.”
Smiling, Apollo let Klavier walk him to the door. “Same time tomorrow?” he asked, adjusting his bag strap on his shoulder.
“Ja, I’ll need help shuffling some cold case files back and forth between the prosecutor’s building and criminal affairs,” Klavier replied, leaning against the doorframe with his arms folded across his chest. His grin was warm, open, sleepy. “Gute Nacht, Apollo.”
“Goodnight,” Apollo echoed. As he crossed the threshold and walked down the hall to the elevators, he couldn’t help but think that things weren’t going to be so bad after all.
Honestly, Apollo hadn’t expected the job to last that long. Not because of his failures or Klavier’s expectations, but rather, the fact that neither of them had really wanted it to exist in the first place. Things were a little tougher at times - one of Klavier’s bandmates, Daryan, seemed to have it out for Apollo for no rhyme or reason. Klavier himself was temperamental after an imperfect performance, or conversely, a complete shut-in after a bad conversation with his brother. His requests did get strange at times, even consulting Apollo on things that Apollo thought he had no business meddling in.
“Do you think I should grow out my hair?” Klavier had asked one day, staring intently at Apollo through the mirror’s reflection. “Maybe I’d look sexier with longer hair, ja?”
“Um.” Apollo had felt like he’d stepped into a trap. “Sure, I guess. Maybe?”
“Do you like men with long hair?”
Apollo had bristled. “What does that have to do with anything?”
For the record, Apollo did like men with long hair. Also for the record, Klavier ended up growing his hair long. Apollo tried not to think about what that meant.
Then there was the time Klavier had been pushed into a tabloid-motivated relationship with the lead singer of an all-girl rock band by their record label, resulting in him constantly being photographed with her at clubs and industry events. Klavier had insisted Apollo accompany them wherever they went, a perpetual third wheel that got in the paparazzi’s way. “Achtung, I have to break up with her,” Klavier had bemoaned a couple months into the “relationship”. “She’s a lovely, talented woman for sure, but...this really can’t go on.”
“Uh, you’re not actually dating her, remember?” Apollo had to remind him. “She’s secretly dating her drummer.”
“How should I go about doing it, Apollo?” Klavier had asked, ignoring him. “What’s your experience with breakups?”
“I, uh...I don’t have any.” Apollo had coughed sharply. “Never been in a relationship, so.”
Klavier’s expression had immediately cleared up. “Ah, what a shame.”
Apollo had recoiled. “Th-that I’ve never been dumped?!” They were interrupted by the Gavinners’ manager before Klavier could explain what he’d meant.
And now, four years later, when Apollo was a mere week away from graduating law school - he’d already finished his classes, that is, and was waiting for the convocation ceremony - he was still there. Through Klavier’s tours and temper tantrums, his court cases and convoluted requests, Apollo was still spending three to five days a week at Klavier’s apartment, bracing himself for whatever nonsense or normalcy Klavier had planned for him that day.
“Is that you I see checking your exam results again, mausi? They haven’t changed since you got them three weeks ago, you know.”
Apollo hastily snapped his laptop shut, looking up to see Klavier wandering into the kitchen wearing sweatpants and nothing else. His hair was pulled back into a loose bun that settled at the nape of his neck, sweat glistening on his collarbones. Apollo tried not to visibly swallow.
“Hey, the only thing you’ve had me do so far is schedule your dentist appointment,” Apollo retorted. “There is something else you called me here for, right?”
“So much attitude this morning,” Klavier lamented, sauntering closer so he could tap Apollo on the forehead. “If I were an unreasonable man, I would have you fired for it.”
“But you’re not unreasonable. You’re weirdly...well, reasonable.” Apollo swatted Klavier’s hand away from his face; he could practically smell him from here. “Foppishness aside, I don’t think I’ve had a single day where you’ve stressed me out more than school.”
“Foppishness? Ach, I knew I shouldn’t have introduced you to Fräulein Detective,” Klavier sighed. “Anyway, you’ve helped me through hangovers, colds, panic attacks...was that not stressful for you?”
“Trust me, nothing you’ve done was as bad as my tort final,” Apollo said dryly, though he did recall one particular night in which Klavier had been at least two beers and three phone calls to his brother too deep. Kristoph would have fired Apollo that night if Klavier hadn’t stepped in and protested.
“You’re too good to me, schatz,” Klavier said, walking over to the fridge to grab his post-workout protein shake. Apollo watched him, his mouth twisting at the sentiment. Klavier had taken to calling him all sorts of German nicknames, most of which Apollo didn’t care enough to look up. He suspected it was mostly playful insults, like the one he’d gotten after tripping and banging his head onto a telephone pole. Klavier had called him Herr Forehead for three months, only stopping when Apollo mentioned taking in a stray cat. He was then dubbed mein kätzchen for six months after that.
“Seriously, Klavier, what else can I do for you today?” Apollo asked, his patience wearing thin. “I mean, it doesn’t seem like you need me here. You’ve got your radio interview, the band meeting - ”
“Don’t forget, I have to drop by my office as well,” Klavier added.
“I didn’t forget,” Apollo said defensively. “Anyway, that stuff’s for your publicist and your manager to worry about, not me.”
“Not today,” Klavier hummed. “Today, you are keeping me company instead.”
Apollo frowned. “What? I-I’m not qualified. I’m here to pick up your dry-cleaning and place food orders and sort fanmail!”
“Relax, süßer, you’ll be fine,” Klavier said airily. “There is one thing I need you to do while we’re going around, though.”
Apollo let out an exasperated sigh. “Fine, I’ll bite. What is it?”
Klavier’s smile was secretive in a way that Apollo didn’t find remotely comforting. “I need you to plan the perfect date.”
“What,” Apollo said flatly.
“I’m going on a date tonight, and I need you to plan the perfect date,” Klavier repeated like it wasn’t the most ridiculous thing he’d ever said, and Apollo had once heard him recite the entire Gavinners’ discography without taking a breath. Apollo had never known there were so many innuendos revolving around the concept of being arrested until that very moment. “Something romantic, something personal, something...vollkommen.”
“Um. Well. Usually, dates are planned at least a couple of days in advance, you know. I can’t exactly book the best restaurant or find tickets to a popular show at this late notice,” Apollo reminded him, wondering if Klavier was really this out of touch. “Who’s your date, anyway? It’d be helpful to know what they’re into, what they’re not into, if they’ve got fatal allergies or crippling fears, stuff like that.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Klavier shrugged.
“Doesn’t - ”
“Just go with your instinct, Apollo.” Klavier was suddenly standing very close again. His gaze was unnervingly intense. “Whatever you think is perfect will be perfect.”
“No pressure or anything,” Apollo muttered. “Well, way to be vague. You know this is the most impossible thing you’ve ever asked me to do, right?”
“Ja, I’m well aware,” Klavier grinned, striding towards the living room. “I look forward to seeing what you come up with!”
Apollo sighed, opening his laptop once more. “So do I.”
The radio interview was to be like any other, not that Apollo paid much attention to how such things worked. He accompanied Klavier on his work engagements whenever he could, but he was mostly there to make sure Klavier got what he needed - a cushion for his bad back, his phone charger, protein bars, that sort of thing. His publicist and the band’s manager were the ones who handled the actual work, and Apollo was to stay out of their way.
Klavier wasn’t promoting anything in particular; his publicist had pre-screened the questions to strike a balance between talking about his rockstar career, his prosecutor career, and his private life. Apollo watched him from the other side of the soundproof glass, hovering behind the assistant producers and rubbing his wrist anxiously until the skin started to redden.
“Congratulations on your most recent win, by the way,” the radio host added after they’d moved on from a conversation about the Gavinners’ most recent album. “Must feel good after losing your last three trials in a row, huh?”
A storm of emotions quickly crossed Klavier’s face. “Danke, but trials aren’t about winning or losing,” Klavier said with a diplomatic smile. “In my last three trials, the defendant was innocent. In yesterday’s trial, they were guilty. Ganz einfach.”
The host paused. “Yes, but doesn’t it feel demoralizing to prosecute someone who turns out to be innocent? Do you feel guilty or - or remorseful for putting them through the whole process?”
“...I feel a sense of relief when the truth is discovered no matter who or what they are,” Klavier said carefully, sneaking a glance at Apollo through the glass. Apollo shot him an encouraging smile in return. It was a conversation they’d had many times during late nights over Apollo’s textbooks and glasses of cheap wine. “But ja, of course I’m sympathetic as well. I have no interest in setting records at the prosecutor’s office, only on the music charts. I know their lives are not meant to be treated as means to my own ends.”
“Right, right,” the host said hastily, his tone faltering somewhat. “So with all the time you’ve been spending on your music career and your law career, have you had time for personal relationships?”
“If you mean romantic relationships, nein, I’m not seeing anyone at the moment,” Klavier replied.
“Really? You’ve been photographed with the same pretty detective quite a bit over the last couple of years,” the host teased, his tone implying a sense of familiarity that he and Klavier didn’t share.
“Detective Skye is a colleague and a good friend,” Klavier said shortly. He was barely hiding his frown by now. “Our jobs require us to go to many places together - crime scenes, the police department, the prosecutor’s building. It’s part of the process.”
“Okay, then what about him?” The host nodded in Apollo’s direction. Apollo’s eyes widened; every muscle in his body seemed to tense up. “Your personal assistant, anything personal going on there?”
“His personal life is his personal life,” Klavier said, his jaw clenching. “But if you want to talk about romance, why don’t we talk about the Gavinners’ latest single? We’re shooting our new music video next month, and we just got the visuals a few days ago. It will be - ”
“Getting defensive, huh? It’s alright, I get it,” the host interrupted with a sly chuckle. “It’s more about what you’re not saying than what you are saying, isn’t it? There’s been a lot of talk on social media lately, and everyone’s been weighing in on who’s more likely to be the inspiration for the love songs on your most recent album. My bet’s on the detective, but your assistant might be the darkhorse for all I know!”
Klavier looked at Apollo again, then looked back at the host, his gaze hardening. “Entschuldigung, I think that’s all I have time for today,” he said sharply.
“Wait, what do you - ”
He didn’t let the host finish his sentence. Klavier took off his headphones, got to his feet, and swept out of the booth without another word. He gestured for Apollo to follow him, ignoring the pleas and protests of the producers. They could still hear the host desperately trying to transition into a smooth ad break as Klavier slammed the door behind them.
“Klavier? Hey, Klavier, slow down!” Apollo practically had to jog to keep up with him. They finally came to a stop outside the station building, where Klavier let out a long, trembling breath, half-hunched over with his hands on his thighs. “Hey, talk to me.”
“Achtung, that man had no respect for anything,” Klavier scowled, straightening up. “He made practicing law sound like playing a game, he kept talking about you and Ema when neither of you asked to be scrutinized, and he mispronounced my name in the introduction. What a complete lack of professionalism.”
Apollo winced. “Should I have intervened or something? I-I don’t exactly know how to handle this kind of stuff.”
“Nein, nein, it’s okay, Apollo.” Klavier paused to take in a few deep breaths of fresh air, the tightness in his expression slowly melting away as he did so. “I’ll get my publicist to send a statement over to the station manager later today. In the meantime, let’s go get lunch and head to the studio early.”
“If you’re sure,” Apollo said, glancing through the station’s front doors. He could see some of the producers furiously arguing with one another, probably over what to say to Klavier before coming outside to talk to them. “Man, that guy was an asshole.”
Klavier laughed. “Quite the arschgeige, indeed.”
Apollo smiled easily in return. “Guess we should get out of here before they try to drag you back in, huh?”
“I would never let that happen,” Klavier protested with another chuckle. “But ja, schatz, let’s go.”
“Afternoon, short stack!” Apollo internally groaned the moment he walked into the recording studio. For whatever reason, he’d expected that the band meeting would be better than the radio interview. He certainly wouldn’t have thought so had he remembered who was in said band. “I see Klavier found you in whatever closet you were hiding in.”
“I’ve been out of the closet for six years now, but nice try,” Apollo shot back. The drummer failed to hide his laughter at Daryan’s dumbfounded expression.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Daryan muttered, elbowing the drummer sharply in retaliation. “Klav, heard you had a rough morning. Were you really that offended by the host thinking you were dating this kid? I mean, I know I would be, but you actually tolerate him!”
“If this is your idea of pleasant small talk before we start the meeting, I want no part in it,” Klavier said, dropping into his seat. Apollo sat beside him, passing him his tablet while silently contemplating the consequences of throwing it at Daryan’s head instead. “Let’s keep this to an hour, I have errands to run at the prosecutor’s office.”
“Okay, hotshot,” Daryan sighed, disappointed that Klavier wasn’t taking the bait. “So, the label wants us to confirm the lineup for next month’s charity concert so they can clear the television rights…”
After the meeting was over, Apollo and Klavier took a car to the prosecutor’s building, both settled comfortably in the backseat for the half-hour drive. “I don’t know how you can work with that guy and not completely lose it,” Apollo grouched.
“He wasn’t like that when we first started out,” Klavier said. “I think the notoriety of being in the Gavinners and being a detective has gone to his head. I wish you’d let me say something to him.”
Apollo looked at him, a reluctant smile on his face. “As much as I’d like either of us to tell Daryan exactly what we think of him, I’m not letting you risk your working relationship by defending me from a couple of petty insults. But hey, if your band ever breaks up, give him hell from me.”
Klavier’s responding laugh was interrupted by his ringtone. He shot Apollo a quick apologetic glance before answering his phone. “Guten tag Mama, wie geht es dir?”
As Klavier spoke with his mother, switching seamlessly between English and German, Apollo’s smile widened. He’d met the Gavins a handful of times over the years and thought they were sweet, intelligent, and warm. Conversely, his opinion of Kristoph Gavin had lessened greatly since their initial meeting, both from Klavier’s anecdotes and his own experiences. He found himself wondering how Kristoph had turned out the way he did with the upbringing he had.
“I’ll tell you all about my date tomorrow, I promise.” Klavier’s smile softened. “I’m not sure either, but I’m hopeful. Anyway, don’t let me keep you from Papa, have a good time at the exhibit. Ja, ich habe dich lieb.”
After he hung up, Apollo looked at him dubiously. “You told your mom about your date?”
“What else would I talk to her about?” Klavier replied, slipping his phone back into his pocket.
“Touché,” Apollo said, relenting. “Speaking of your date, I booked the - ”
“Ah, ah, don’t tell me a thing,” Klavier interrupted, clicking his tongue in warning. “I look forward to being surprised.”
Apollo gritted his teeth; he could already feel his temper rising for the hundredth time in the last twelve hours. “Klavier, how do you think your date is going to feel when they find out that someone else planned your so-called perfect date with zero input or feedback from you?”
“Apollo, I - ”
“Wait, let me finish. I’ll admit I had some biased opinions of you when I first started this job, but you’ve actually been pretty decent compared to what I thought you were gonna be like,” Apollo continued. “And yeah, you’re a busy guy, and maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion or overthinking this o-or whatever, but how can you claim to be a romantic perfectionist when you can’t be bothered to put in the work for this person?!”
“...ah.” Klavier swallowed. “You’re...angry with me.”
“More like I’m angry on behalf of your date, whoever they are,” Apollo replied testily. “It just...it seems like a total lack of respect for them. Something I never thought you’d have.”
Klavier seemed unable to meet his eyes. “...I think you’re right. I’ll call it off before it’s too late, maybe find another day where I can make the plans myself.”
“No, no, I…” Apollo let out a long exhale, his heart thrumming rapidly in his chest. He’d been annoyed with Klavier several times before, sure, but he’d never been upset with him like this. He wasn’t sure why this, of all things, seemed to be getting to him. “...the reservations and everything have already been set and paid for, and I think you and your date will enjoy yourselves. But...tell them the truth, okay? And next time you make plans with them - if there is a next time - just pick a restaurant and get me to book a table a few days in advance instead. No more theatrics for the sake of theatrics.”
Klavier smiled, though his eyes were still clouded with regret. “Ja, Apollo, I will. I’m sorry, I...I really didn’t think of it that way.”
Apollo nodded, taking another deep breath to calm down. They arrived at the prosecutor’s building a few minutes later, both of them still awkwardly silent as they took the elevator up to the twelfth floor and went into Klavier’s office. “So...what are we doing here, exactly?” Apollo asked. “I thought you’ve been prepared for the Doe trial since yesterday.”
“I am, I just need to grab a few files so I can work from home over the weekend,” Klavier replied, holding up his USB drive before plugging it into his work computer. As he worked, Apollo paced the length of his office, shaking his head amusedly at the expansive wall of guitars. “Do you want one of your own someday?”
Apollo turned. “Uh, a guitar?”
“Nein, your own office,” Klavier clarified, his eyes still glued to his screen.
“That’s a long way from now, but it sure would be amazing,” Apollo admitted. “And ‘Justice Law Offices’ definitely has a nice ring to it.”
“If people can believe it’s your actual name, that is,” Klavier teased.
Apollo snorted. “Every single semester, I had at least one professor who stumbled over my name when taking attendance. They probably thought I was some law-obsessed weirdo who had it legally changed.”
“You do have a stronger passion for law than most,” Klavier reminded him, removing his USB drive. “There are prosecutors here who practice law for power, money, or fame. But you...you’re more like me, ja?”
“Trials aren’t about winning or losing,” Apollo said, echoing Klavier’s words from earlier. “It’s about the truth.”
“Exactly, which is why I look forward to facing you in court someday.” Apollo bit his lip to stop himself from smiling too widely, an unfamiliar sense of warmth coursing through him. The two of them left Klavier’s office feeling considerably more relaxed than they had when they walked in.
When they stepped out of the elevator onto the first floor, someone was waiting by the doors. “Ah, Prosecutor Gavin. I wasn’t expecting you to come in today,” Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth said, nodding in their direction.
“Guten tag, Herr Edgeworth,” Klavier replied with a polite smile. “I was just prepping my case for the Doe trial on Monday.”
“And you’ve got Mr. Justice with you,” Edgeworth continued, turning his inquisitive gaze onto Apollo, who trembled under its intensity. He’d met Klavier’s boss many times before, but even now, he still found him both imposing and awe-inspiring.
“Uh, h-hello, sir,” Apollo stammered.
“Wright has been talking about you quite a bit these days. He’s looking forward to you starting with him in two weeks’ time,” Edgeworth said, the twitch in the corners of his mouth suggesting a hint of a smile. “Prosecutor Payne has been begging to prosecute your first trial, given his love of intimidating new defense attorneys, but I suspect you’ll both be happier if Prosecutor Gavin were to be assigned instead.”
“We were just talking about that, actually,” Klavier said, his eyes widening. “Do you mean to say - ”
“I can make that happen, yes,” Edgeworth replied. “In fact, I think I will make it happen. And who knows? If I have the time, I might come and observe the trial myself, see what Wright’s protégé is made of.” Having rendered them both temporarily speechless, he nodded once more. “Have a good evening.” He disappeared into the elevator with a sweep of his coat.
“I can’t believe he might watch my first trial!” Apollo exclaimed, having found his voice again. “The pressure’s definitely on now.”
“You know, you might not be a law-obsessed weirdo, but you are a law-obsessed fanboy,” Klavier remarked. “Let’s head back to my apartment. I need to change and freshen up before my date.”
“Date, right.” Apollo cleared his throat. Something about the idea of Klavier going on a date didn’t sit right with him, but it was too late to say anything now. What could he say, anyway? “Yeah, let’s go.”
Apollo sat on the edge of Klavier’s bed, hands folded neatly in his lap while he waited. As silly as it was, he felt like it was almost too intimate for him to be here despite constantly being in Klavier’s room on any given day. Maybe it was knowing that Klavier was going on a date that made it feel like new territory - was he going to bring his date back home? Did it matter if he did?
“Are you so used to me being naked in front of you that you won’t even look at me anymore? How disappointing.” Klavier clicked his tongue disapprovingly, causing Apollo to startle and look up. He was standing not two feet away from Apollo’s face, wearing nothing but boxer briefs, a sight that Apollo would have found sexy were said boxer briefs not printed with the Gavinners’ logo. At least Klavier’s thighs made up for it.
“Why are you naked in front of me this often?” Apollo said dryly, hoping Klavier hadn’t heard the hitch in his breath. “More importantly, why aren’t you dressed yet?”
“I need tonight’s dress code, of course,” Klavier replied. “Tell me, how should I be dressed?”
Apollo twisted his mouth thoughtfully. “Casual, I guess. Like, jeans and sneakers casual, not sweatpants casual. And, uh, you’ll be in public, so grab some sunglasses and a hat for sure.”
Humming, Klavier turned and disappeared into his walk-in closet, practically a room of its own. A minute or two passed before he poked his head back out. “Apollo, can you come here and help?”
“How hard is it to pick a pair of jeans?” Apollo muttered to himself, getting to his feet. He went in to find Klavier rummaging through his wide selection of T-shirts, some of which were more expensive than Apollo’s best pair of shoes, still sans clothes. “Hey, wh-what the hell have you been doing in here this whole time?!”
“I was tempted to go for my usual - leather jacket, skinny jeans, combat boots,” Klavier mused, ignoring him. “But...would it be suitable for a first date?”
“I think you’re overthinking this, and that’s coming from me.” Apollo turned and began picking his way through Klavier’s shoes, mostly so Klavier couldn’t see the look on his face. “So I, uh, I guess you must really like this person if you care this much, huh?”
“More than I’ve liked anyone in my life, ja.” Klavier’s reply was instant.
“What are they like?” Apollo asked.
Klavier started humming again. “I would say...clever. Hard-working, witty, sweet...ah, and gorgeous, of course.”
“Of course,” Apollo echoed with a roll of his eyes. “How’d you meet?”
“You seem so curious tonight. I don’t mind though, I much prefer this interview to the one I had this morning,” Klavier laughed. “Anyway, I met them through work.”
Though Apollo was unsatisfied with such a vague answer - it was about as revealing as if he’d said a dating app or a mutual friend - he didn’t push it further, and instead shoved an armful of clothes into Klavier’s unsuspecting hands. “Here.”
Klavier stared down at Apollo’s selection, confused. “Is this not what I typically wear?”
“Well, yeah,” Apollo shrugged. “If this person likes you as much as you like them, then they should like you as you are. Don’t get super dressed up just because you think that’s what they want. And, uh, besides...can’t really picture you in a suit and tie. I’ve seen your prom photos.”
Klavier stepped closer, close enough that Apollo could count the different shades of blue in his eyes. “If you’re sure,” he murmured.
Apollo blinked. “I’ll, uh, I’ll wait outside.” He quickly turned and went back out to the main room, collapsing back onto Klavier’s bed with a heavy sigh. Klavier emerged a few minutes later, finally dressed, and sat at his vanity to do his hair and makeup. Apollo watched his reflection quietly, admiring the way Klavier looked with glossy eyelids and smoked-out eyeliner.
Once he’d finished, Klavier stood, then crouched down in front of Apollo, cocking his head to one side. “So...how do I look?”
Apollo leaned back. “Uh, f-fine. You look...you look good.”
“You can be more honest than that, you know,” Klavier said quietly, more serious than teasing. “I told you, I want this to be perfect. I want to look good for y - for them.”
“Has anyone ever told you you’re more than just your looks?” Apollo retorted. Klavier merely stared at him, imploring. “Because, well, you’re...you are. More than, I-I mean.”
“That’s very kind of you to say, but that’s not what I meant.” Klavier’s expression relaxed. “Anyway, we should get going, ja? Don’t want to be late.”
Apollo frowned. “Sorry, ‘we’? I thought I was just going to give you the itinerary and head home.”
“Nein, Apollo, I want you to take me to the first location so it’ll be a complete surprise,” Klavier replied, like it wasn’t a foreign concept to have one’s personal assistant tag along on a date. “Besides, you’re not doing anything tonight, as far as I remember.”
Sighing, Apollo got to his feet and reached for his satchel, slinging it onto his shoulder. This was starting to feel like the longest day he’d ever had with Klavier, and they once spent an entire weekend sorting through unmarked boxes of cold-case evidence. He wordlessly stalked his way out of the apartment with Klavier at his heels, who had the audacity to start humming again once they stepped into the hallway.
As they took the elevator down, Apollo couldn’t help but sneak a few glances in at Klavier’s face. He seemed calm, but the way he fiddled with the ring on his thumb suggested otherwise. They must be one hell of a person to make him this nervous, Apollo thought. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to finding out who they are, or if I’m dreading it.
Klavier stepped out of the car and onto the curb in front of the entrance first, staring at the building before them in complete awe. Apollo, on the other hand, got out behind him, his body wracked with nerves. He’d been here hundreds of times before, its ability to inspire and amaze him never failing, but he couldn’t help but worry that after all this time, this was what was going to let Klavier down.
“The Cosmos Space Center,” Klavier murmured, impressed.
“Since everything was so last-minute, I had to call in a few favors from my friends,” Apollo said, immediately feeling like he had to defend himself. “Clay and I practically grew up here. We used to spend hours in the observatory in the Space Museum, especially at night when you can see the stars. People have booked it for private dinners and weddings, and the restaurant here isn’t bad, so…”
Klavier was still staring in wonderment. “It really is quite beautiful.”
“Glad you think so,” Apollo said, letting out a quiet breath of relief. “So, um, I guess you should get in touch with your date and I’ll, uh...I’ll head home. Did you want the rest of your itinerary now, or did you want me to text it to you as you go?”
Klavier paused, then turned on his heel. “Ah, there’s no need for any of that.”
Apollo frowned. “Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
There was another pause. “Apollo, I realize this is probably...inappropriate. Nein, definitely inappropriate. Given the power imbalance between us, and for me to put you in this position…”
“I...have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“...but next week is your last week with me before you start at Wright & Co. Law Offices - ”
“ - Wright Anything Agency, they changed it - ”
“ - so if you want to quit now because I’ve crossed a line, I...I understand.” Klavier looked at him expectantly.
Apollo stared blankly in return. “I still have no idea what’s going on here. Did your date cancel on you or something?”
Klavier let out an exasperated groan. “Achtung, Apollo, my date for tonight is you!”
Apollo blinked, and then blinked some more. It was all he could do, really, as he processed Klavier’s sudden outburst. “You made me plan our date by myself?!”
“Apollo - ”
“And you didn’t tell me what was happening or who this was for or why you hadn’t mentioned it before - ”
“I know, I know,” Klavier sighed, shaking his head. “This was a bad idea, wasn’t it? I’m sorry, I...if you want to leave and never speak to me again, I understand. I just...I wanted to do something before you left for good.”
“Is that what this is all about? Me leaving my job?” Apollo asked. “You wanted to wine and dine me so I’ll keep working for you?”
“Apollo, bitte, listen to me,” Klavier pleaded. “I never needed a personal assistant, remember? But what I wanted this whole time has been you.”
Apollo’s eyes widened. “...what?”
“I was already interested in you on day one, but it would’ve been unethical if I had asked you on a date while you were working for me, and you were too good at your job for me to let you go. So I thought I would be fine with us just having a working relationship, maybe even an actual friendship, and I would move on to someone else,” Klavier confessed with a half-hearted smile. “But my feelings only grew stronger as time went on, and...it always felt like it was too late for me to end things, one way or the other.”
“Telling me and having me quit or firing me and never telling me why,” Apollo guessed.
“Ja, exactly. Sometimes I thought you were hinting at feeling the same way, too, but it was probably just my wishful thinking,” Klavier added wistfully. “So, with you leaving next week, I wanted to say something and see if I was right. If you were interested in me, or if I was just getting my hopes up.”
Apollo hesitated. “Why did you have me plan this whole thing? And why so last-minute?”
“My reasoning might sound silly to you,” Klavier admitted. “You’re good at what you do. I don’t just mean working for me, but...having seen your mock trials, I know you’re a real problem-solver, someone who thinks quickly on their feet. So I presented you a problem in which you had to consider what would be the perfect date for me and, subconsciously, what would also be the perfect date for you, with a time limit that would prevent you from falling back on all my usual places to satisfy just me and me alone. I know it sounds bescheuert when I say it out loud, but...it’s the truth.”
Apollo hummed, still thinking. Klavier hated that he couldn’t read Apollo’s usually expressive face. “What would you have done if you were the one planning this?”
“I would have overthought it, made too much of a spectacle. You would have hated it,” Klavier said with a self-deprecating laugh. “You’ve observed enough of my trials to know what I do when I start to get bored.”
“I’m starting to look forward to facing you in court less and less, now that I think about it.” Apollo then smiled. “But, um, I guess we have a date to get to before that happens, huh?”
Klavier sucked in a breath. “You mean…?”
“My original date for tonight was my Netflix queue, but the boss I have an inappropriate crush on sounds like the better deal,” Apollo shrugged. “...er, and by that I mean you, not Mr. Wright.”
“Ja, ja, I understood that much,” Klavier laughed, elated. “So you’re not mad at me?”
“I’m kind of always mad at you, and we’re gonna have a talk about this later, but we’ve only got the observatory for two hours, so let’s head in before we unnecessarily waste your money,” Apollo snarked.
Klavier held out his hand. “Then I’ll let you lead the way, schatz.” After one last moment’s hesitation, Apollo interlaced their fingers together and walked them both inside.
“You never answered my question, by the way,” Apollo said as he and Klavier took their seats underneath the night sky. Their faces were illuminated only by moonlight and the single candle on their table, the faint scent of rose petals wafting up from where they were strewn across the floor, soft piano music floating in through the observatory’s speakers. “Did you want to know the whole plan now, or as we go?”
“I’d rather be surprised along the way,” Klavier hummed, clasping Apollo’s hand between both of his.
“If you’re sure, but don’t get too excited. We only have two stops after this,” Apollo said.
“Ah, a three-part date - an appetizer, the main course, and dessert,” Klavier murmured, kissing the back of Apollo’s hand before letting it go. “For someone who claims to be guided by their head instead of their heart, you’re already doing quite well tonight, liebling.”
“I didn’t know being pragmatic meant that I don’t know how dating works,” Apollo muttered, though admittedly, he’d only gone on maybe two actual dates in his whole life.
After they ordered their food, a comfortable silence fell over them for a few minutes, taking in the works of Chopin and the stars that shone above their heads. Apollo almost expected things to be unbearably awkward - he was on a date with his boss, after all - but he was taken aback by how natural it felt. Maybe it was knowing this was something he and Klavier had both wanted for years, maybe it was the fact they knew each other better than almost anyone else. Either way, Apollo was pleasantly surprised.
“Did you ever want a career in space yourself?” Klavier asked, breaking the silence. “Or was it always law, because of your foster father?”
“You remembered!” Apollo exclaimed. He’d only briefly mentioned his years in Khura’in about six months ago when his brain-to-mouth filter had collapsed during exam season, telling Klavier more about himself than he’d told most. “No, it was never anything but law for me. I do like learning about space, though. Clay’s the whole reason I got into constellations and horoscopes when I was younger, even though I don’t usually believe in that kinda stuff.”
“Really? So you could identify the constellations above us?” Klavier mused, gesturing upwards.
“Well, there’s the obvious ones, like Canus Major and Ursa Minor,” Apollo said thoughtfully, pointing them out. “But Clay taught me how to look for Corvus and Crater, since they’re both associated with the god Apollo.”
“You’re into mythology as well?” Klavier pressed.
“Oh, no, not really. I just know Apollo was a disaster with women,” Apollo said with a laugh. “So how about you? Was it always going to be law and music?”
“Law was always my main intent. Music was more of an accident than it might seem,” Klavier admitted. “I played the piano and the guitar as a child, but the guitar spoke to me more. My parents encouraged me to take singing lessons when they found I had a natural talent for it. The Gavinners was something I started in my spare time, we never meant to become popular.”
“Sure doesn’t seem that way,” Apollo commented. “I’ve been with you for tours, signings, interviews...people are obsessed with you.”
“You know…” Klavier cocked his head to one side, observing Apollo curiously. “...the very first thing I noticed about you was that you had no clue who I was. You’d never heard of me, you had to research me after you got the job...you knew more about Kristoph than you did about me.”
“To be fair, I liked to look into every guest lecturer who came to visit,” Apollo pointed out. “But when I was first starting law school, the only prosecutors I knew about were the ones that Mr. Wright went up against. You were never one of them.”
“Actually, I almost was,” Klavier said. “You know the Gramarye case? It was supposed to be my court debut against Kristoph, but Herr Edgeworth stepped in at the last minute once my brother was replaced by Herr Wright. Apparently, some forged evidence was involved, but they never found out who was responsible. He’s still investigating the case, even now.”
“Really? I would love to help if Mr. Wright would let me,” Apollo exclaimed, his eyes lighting up. At Klavier’s warm chuckle, he frowned. “What?”
“Nothing, I just…” Klavier took his hand again, squeezing it. “...I find it cute whenever you get excited about something. Usually it’s law, but there was that time you asked to watch some show on my TV because yours had died. You were glued to my couch for three days.”
“I’d rather not talk about my anime obsession, thanks,” Apollo mumbled, his face reddening. “And cute, huh?”
“Very,” Klavier murmured, running his thumb across the back of Apollo’s hand. “I’ve never seen someone get so worked up over crime scene photos before. What are you going to be like once you start getting cases of your own, schatz?”
“Insatiable,” Apollo replied with a bold grin.
Once their waiter arrived with their food, they spent the next little while eating and chatting about nothing in particular. Despite the endless hours they spent in each other’s presence, there were still a surprising amount of topics they hadn’t yet covered. “Are we getting dessert?” Klavier asked after they’d finished.
“Not unless you really want to, since the, er, ‘dessert’ of this date is literally dessert. But we have some time before we head to the, uh, ‘main course’,” Apollo offered.
“Then will you show me around?” Klavier requested. “I’ve always wanted to come here, but never had the chance until now.”
“Oh, sure.” Apollo felt his face heat again when Klavier took his hand for what felt like the hundredth time that evening already.
They took their time circling the Space Museum’s exhibits, fingers loosely interlaced between them as they went. Apollo wasn’t as knowledgeable as Clay, though he did his best to recall everything he’d taught him about space. Klavier seemed endlessly fascinated by whatever Apollo had to say, his eyes sparkling with every word he spoke.
Once the tour was over, they returned to the observatory. Klavier took Apollo’s other hand in his, gently pulling him so they were facing one another, the stars continuing to shine above them. “I see you thinking hard about something, liebling. Are you...reconsidering this?”
“No, n-not at all. Actually, I was thinking about...do you remember the World Music Awards from two years ago, when you were up for Best Rock Album and Best Music Group, and it was a super big night for the Gavinners and you were talking about it for months, and then I got food poisoning from the shrimp cocktail?” Apollo asked, shuddering at the memory.
“Ja, I remember. You sprinted for the bathroom ten minutes before we were supposed to go up on stage,” Klavier replied, also wincing. “Strange thing to be thinking about right now, why?”
“Well, you came to check on me as soon as you saw me run off. You almost missed your acceptance speech,” Apollo said, a fond smile beginning to spread across his face. “And then you skipped Daryan’s after-party so you could take me back to your place and look after me. You still paid me even though I was useless all night.”
“Technically, Kristoph is the one paying you. I have no qualms about spending his money,” Klavier said, chuckling.
“How about the time I suddenly started crying in the middle of helping you pack for tour because I failed my civil procedure exam and thought they were going to kick me out of law school?” Apollo continued. “You made me stop, hauled me onto the couch, tucked me in with that huge faux fur blanket from your bedroom...and then made that super awful mug cake that almost gave me food poisoning...again.”
“Ach, so I’m a better cook than baker, sue me.” Klavier released Apollo’s hands so he could wrap his arms around his waist instead, drawing him in closer. “What’s this about?”
“You listened to my story about how terrified I was to come out to Clay in high school because I was worried he wasn’t going to be my friend anymore, and told me the story about how you came out to your parents in return. You helped me study for my civ pro make-up exam even though you were in the middle of recording an album and hadn’t slept properly all week. You bought me that super-expensive watch I had my eye on when I told you Mr. Wright made an offer and that I was officially giving you my resignation - ”
“Again, Kristoph’s money, not mine,” Klavier reminded him. “Apollo, what are you getting at?”
“I...I know that looking after you is technically in my job description, but...you looking after me was never part of yours. And...I know it’s not just because you were interested in me. It’s because...that’s the kind of person you are. Not the kind of person I expected you to be when we first met, where you were all tired and hungover and smelled like the inside of a gym locker.” Klavier made a face. Apollo laughed. “Anyway, I’m just telling you that because of all that, I’m reasonably confident that, y’know, this...this’ll work out.”
“Reasonably confident, hmm? How technical of you, is that your law degree speaking?” Klavier teased, leaning down to rest his forehead against Apollo’s.
“I-I don’t have it yet. Convocation’s next weekend.” Apollo chewed his lip for a moment, seemingly lost in thought, then, in a burst of spontaneity, tilted his chin upward to close the gap, his mouth meeting Klavier’s. A sense of familiar warmth seemed to pass between them as they kissed, like they’d done this hundreds of times before. Apollo bunched his fingers into Klavier’s jacket, tugging him impossibly close. Klavier parted his lips, deepening the kiss, letting out a soft whine of disappointment when Apollo pulled away. “So, um, will you be there? Convocation, I mean.”
“I wasn’t aware I was invited,” Klavier said, still breathless. “But na sicher, I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else.”
“Okay, okay, tone it down,” Apollo sighed, patting him on the chest and taking a full step back. “On to the main course?”
“One more thing before we do.” Before Apollo could ask what he meant, Klavier tugged him back in for another kiss, a little briefer and a little sweeter than their first. He then leaned back, only to duck back down to peck him chastely on the nose. “Ja, now I’m ready.”
“Such a flirt,” Apollo said, shaking his head amusedly, though he accepted Klavier’s outstretched hand and led them out of the observatory.
Penrose Theater was not a place that Klavier was too familiar with; before the Gavinners became the big deal they were now, they mostly played originals at bars and covers at weddings, and were then propelled past the stage of small clubs and mid-sized venues straight into stadiums and arenas. Apollo expertly navigated the building without pause, refusing to let Klavier even look at the event program or any of the advertising, and led them straight to their seats in the front row of the otherwise-packed audience.
The security guard standing in front of the stage nodded in greeting at Apollo, who nodded and waved back. Klavier glanced between them. “Familiar with him, are you?” he asked.
“It’s not him I’m familiar with,” Apollo replied, patting Klavier’s hand reassuringly.
Moments later, the curtains drew back, revealing an elaborate set-piece full of bright colors and whimsical shapes, accompanied by cheerful, bouncy music. A whirlwind of white smoke began to spiral at center stage, spinning faster and faster as it went on. The silhouette of a young woman slowly began to appear in its eye, striking a dramatic pose.
“Go-o-od evening, Penrose Theater! I hope you’re ready for a magical night, filled with wonder, laughter, and joy. Welcome to Trucy in Gramarye-land!”
The smoke dissipated to reveal the one and only Trucy Wright - Trucy Gramarye, for the time being - in all her top-hat-and-cape glory, brandishing her million-dollar smile. She did a little twirl to thunderous applause, waving enthusiastically at the audience as she waited for the noise to die down. Trucy glanced down at the front row, her eyes meeting Apollo and Klavier’s, then winked before continuing on with her introductory monologue.
“Ah, of course,” Klavier commented, cheerfully clapping along. “The daughter of your mentor. How did I not see this coming?”
“Yeah, well, that’s what you get when you make me plan things so last-minute,” Apollo shot back, sticking his fingers in his mouth so he could whistle louder than anyone else.
The next two hours were, indeed, filled with wonder, laughter, and joy, with incredible feats and tricks that made time fly by almost too quickly. Once the show was over and Trucy had taken her last bow, the curtains drew closed once more, and the crowd began to disperse.
“Achtung, what a rush,” Klavier said with a satisfied sigh; the smile on his face felt near-permanent by now. “She’s a true performer, that one.”
“Do you want to meet her?” Apollo offered. “I’m going to be working pretty closely with her at the office, a-and you’re sort of, well, kinda my, uh...my…”
“...ex-boss?” Klavier teased, nudging Apollo. “Or were you trying to say boyfriend, mausi?”
“What’s the difference?” Apollo deadpanned, though he felt his heart thumping rapidly at the word. “Anyway, let’s go say hi.”
Moments later, when they were backstage among sound equipment and leftover props, Apollo found himself nearly tackled to the ground. “Polly, I didn’t know you were gonna be here!”
Klavier, who was leaning against a speaker, was doing a poor job of concealing his laughter. “Polly?”
“Trucy, what did I tell you about nicknames?” Apollo groaned, releasing her. “But hey, you were amazing up there. I have no clue how you did...well, any of it.”
“Uh, that’s the whole point!” Trucy retorted with a sunny grin. She then turned to Klavier, a mischievous glint in her eye, and extended a hand. “Trucy Wright, magician extraordinaire. And you are Klavier Gavin, rockstar prosecutor and Apollo’s soon-to-be former boss.”
“Charmed to meet you,” Klavier replied, taking her hand and lifting it to his lips. She giggled, flattered by the gesture. “Your show was incredible, absolutely captivating. You, fräulein, have the makings of a superstar.”
“You’re too sweet,” Trucy beamed. She then tilted her head, looking at him curiously. “I have to ask, though - Apollo requested front-row tickets for you and your date. He complained a ton on the phone about how you wouldn’t tell him what was going on and how annoying you could be - ”
“Trucy,” Apollo hissed.
“ - but he’s here with you instead,” Trucy finished, her eyes flickering back and forth between them. “So...what happened?”
“It’s quite simple, really,” Klavier said, moving to drape his arm around Apollo’s shoulders. “Apollo is my date tonight, and hopefully, for many more nights to come.”
Trucy’s eyes were impossibly round. “Really? I thought your date was gonna be a famous model or something!”
“Trucy,” Apollo repeated with a resigned sigh.
“Bu-u-ut even though I haven’t known Polly all that long, I think he’s pretty great. You have good taste, Mr. Gavin,” Trucy continued, rocking back and forth on her heels. “Well, don’t let me keep you! I bet Apollo’s got something super exciting planned for the rest of the night.”
“H-hey, don’t oversell it,” Apollo interjected.
“Come on, Polly, I’m practically your little sister now! If I don’t hype you up, no one will,” Trucy reminded him. He wasn’t remotely comforted by the notion. “Anyway, you two have front-row seats to my show whenever you want. Unless you break his heart, Mr. Gavin. Then you’re totally banned for life.”
“Understood, fräulein, I’ll take care not to,” Klavier said, chuckling. “And bitte, call me Klavier. Mr. Gavin is my brother.”
“Bye, Trucy,” Apollo said, pointedly tugging on Klavier’s arm. “I’ll be dropping by the office on Monday to go over some paperwork with your dad. Maybe we can go have lunch or something?”
“You’ll also be texting me tomorrow about how your date went,” Trucy demanded, her brows furrowing in determination. “And send me Klavier’s number!”
“I’m not doing either of those things,” Apollo called, shutting the backstage door firmly behind him.
Klavier was still laughing as he and Apollo made their way out of the venue, arm in arm. “I like her.”
“So do I,” Apollo admitted despite himself. “Anyway, dessert?”
Klavier wasn’t quite sure what to expect next, given Apollo’s vague hint of “dessert” being quite literal. As he sat in the backseat of the car with Apollo half-asleep on his shoulder, he mentally ran through a list of all the friends and acquaintances Apollo had mentioned over the years. Did he know an artisanal baker who would teach them how to make bread? A chocolatier who would give them a fondue fountain with the finest fruits and cheeses? Maybe a factory manager who could produce those discontinued German sweets that Klavier had told him about once? No, that would be silly.
“So, uh, before you think that I ran out of ideas, just...just trust me, okay?” Apollo pleaded when they arrived.
Klavier looked out the car window to see they were stopped in front of the courthouse. It was especially majestic-looking at night, illuminated by dozens of streetlamps and garden lanterns. “I always trust you, schatz,” he replied easily, turning to look back at Apollo.
Smiling, Apollo led them out of the car and across the street to a tiny dessert shop, the kind that stayed open into the early hours of the morning for the late-night crowd. Klavier had seen it in passing dozens of times before, but had never been inside. It was stylish, with white-tile backsplash and neon signs, and mostly empty save for a couple around their age, sharing a plate of honey toast.
“Two two-scoop waffle cones, please,” Apollo said to the person behind the counter. “I’ll have milk tea and sesame.” He then looked to Klavier expectantly.
“Dark chocolate and espresso, danke,” Klavier added after some deliberation. When Apollo reached for his wallet, Klavier held out a hand to stop him. “Ah, nein, let me pay.”
“You technically paid for everything else. Let me get our eleven-dollar ice cream cones so it feels like I contributed something,” Apollo insisted, nudging him back.
With their ice cream in hand, Apollo then walked them back across the street and onto the front steps of the courthouse, coming to a stop about halfway up. They sat down, their knees knocking together comfortably, and began to eat. The evening air was pleasantly warm, not suffocatingly so, not usually the kind of weather that Klavier would have ice cream in - something he didn’t do much, anyway, given how strict his diet was during tour season.
“While I have no complaints whatsoever, I am curious about your rationale,” Klavier said after some time. “What did you imagine for me and my hypothetical date that wasn’t you?”
“I guess I thought…y’know, if you really liked each other, you wouldn’t need some big, flashy event to happen at the end of the night. That it might be nice to just sit and talk,” Apollo shrugged, taking a bite of his waffle cone. “I...it’s not like I have a lot of dating experience to go on, and you’ve never been on a real date since I’ve known you, so this was kind of a gamble.”
“I was too attached to you from the very beginning to be interested in anyone else,” Klavier murmured, leaning in to give Apollo a sticky-sweet kiss on the cheek. “You and your loud voice and your big hands and your snarky attitude...and as a bonus, you were actually very good at your job.”
“Your dentist appointment is Tuesday morning, by the way,” Apollo said, his face reddening. “Hope this doesn’t give you cavities in the meantime.”
“Funny,” Klavier remarked. “And ja, your instincts were right. While I love a grand gesture or two, this feels right for you and me.” Apollo shuffled closer, tucking himself up against Klavier’s side. “Like all the nights I spent helping you study, or you helping me with court cases...it was just us at my desk, running on nothing but coffee and adrenaline, working until you crashed on my couch.” He carefully laid his head on top of Apollo’s. “It was times like that where I almost forgot you were my employee and not my boyfriend, or even just my friend.”
“Since you’re only a couple years older than me and we have a lot in common, I could see why,” Apollo agreed.
“Achtung, if we first met in court instead, you would have absolutely hated me,” Klavier said, his laughter causing both of them to shake. “I bet you would think I was too much. As for me...I would have fallen for you anyway.”
“Maybe,” Apollo said quietly. “But...me finding you annoying and me finding you attractive aren’t, er...mutually exclusive feelings.”
“Good to know,” Klavier murmured, leaning down to kiss him. Apollo’s lips tasted much sweeter than the bitterness of the dark chocolate and espresso lingering on his own tongue. Letting out a pleased hum, it was Apollo who deepened the kiss this time, moving closer to rest his elbows on Klavier’s knees. By the time they pulled apart, their ice cream had started to drip down their fingers. “Tonight has been perfect. Beyond perfect, even. Not a photographer or reporter in sight.”
“Oh, I texted your publicist and asked her to put in an anonymous tip that Klavier Gavin was spotted at a private club on the other side of the city,” Apollo said, smirking when he noticed Klavier’s gaze lingering on his mouth when he licked his fingers clean. “The paparazzi are gonna be disappointed when all they find is Kristoph Gavin having dinner with members of the Bar Association.”
“Ah, this really is the best night of my life, then,” Klavier declared, sighing happily. “I only wish it wasn’t ending so soon.”
Apollo hesitated. “...well, th-there’s a chance I might have left something at your apartment earlier, and I, uh, should go back with you to get it?”
“Is that a question?” Klavier teased, his eyes flickering back to Apollo’s bottom lip, now swollen from Klavier’s affections. He could already feel heat stirring in his stomach, a contrast to the coldness in his mouth. “I suppose we can’t have you leaving things behind. Should we get going so you can...start looking for it?”
“I say the sooner the better,” Apollo replied, shooting straight to his feet. “We can finish eating these in the car, right?”
Mid-morning light streamed in through the windows, angled in such a way that it seared through Klavier’s eyelids, causing him to reluctantly stir. He woke slowly, drowsily, pushing aside the heaps of blankets and throws that were on top of him, and then stared at the windows in confusion. Klavier could have sworn he’d drawn the mechanical blinds before falling asleep; given they were remote-controlled, it took no effort to do so, just a single push of a button and the room would be thrown into darkness.
Yawning and scratching his neck, Klavier stood, padding his way over to the window to gaze out at the city. It was already alive with the sights and sounds of people and traffic, while Klavier himself didn’t feel quite ready to face the day just yet. He was somewhat sore, though it was the kind of soreness he could associate with a particular moment in time that was more pleasurable than painful. Smiling, he turned on his heel to look back at the bed. It was that he realized it was empty. His heart sank at the implications. Did he...was he not...could he have…?
He looked up from the bed to see Apollo standing in the doorway, wearing one of Klavier’s old Gavinners T-shirts. It fit him surprisingly well in the shoulders - Apollo had a broad back - but hung loosely around his thighs, only just concealing the hem of his boxer briefs. Klavier’s heart thumped pathetically. “And here I thought you’d run off,” he said with a hollow laugh. He hated how desperate he sounded.
“Huh? Oh, sorry, I had a couple emails from my professors that I needed to reply to. Didn’t wanna wake you with my typing,” Apollo said sheepishly, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. “Why did you think I left?”
“I...I don’t know,” Klavier confessed. “Neither of us is the type for one-night stands, but...ever since I knew I wanted to do this, I’ve been...worried that you were going to think I was manipulative, or that you were going to change your mind, and...I really, really like you, Apollo. I’ve been famous since I was seventeen, you know? It’s hard for me to...to feel like I really know someone and trust someone. So, waking up alone, I...I got scared that I was wrong about you.”
Apollo’s gaze softened. He gestured for Klavier to come closer, his arms outstretched. Klavier obeyed, coming to stand between Apollo’s knees. Apollo rested his hands on Klavier’s waist, causing him to melt into his touch. “Look, I...I told you before, I don’t have a ton of precedent for relationships or whatever, a-and yeah, this is kind of a dramatic shift in our dynamic, but you’ve always been more of a friend than a boss to me. Unless I find out that you were taking creepy pictures of me while I was sleeping or something, I don’t think this is weird. And I want this to work, because...well, because I really, really like you, too.”
Klavier let out a sigh of relief, moving to kneel between Apollo’s legs, nestling his head comfortably against Apollo’s stomach. “Okay. Okay, I’m glad to hear that, liebling.”
“Sorry to freak you out,” Apollo mumbled, raking his fingers through Klavier’s hair. “Hey, you wanna make breakfast together?”
“Ja, I would love that.” Klavier turned to press a kiss to Apollo’s arm before standing up, feeling like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
The rest of the day felt almost like any other, with the two of them moving fluidly around the apartment as they worked. Klavier spent most of his time in his home office, busying himself with the last preparations for his upcoming cases, while Apollo cleaned here and there, pausing to have a brief email exchange with Mr. Wright (and ignoring Trucy’s demanding texts).
By sunset, Apollo was doing his last check of all the equipment needed for Klavier’s livestream, something that was second nature to him by now. He sat down in his usual chair with his laptop, sending off a few messages to the chat moderators in advance. Klavier came in, dressed and ready, and went to wind his arms around Apollo’s shoulder from behind, kissing him briefly on the forehead.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked, tilting his head so he could meet Apollo’s eyes. “They’re smart, they’ll know right away.”
Apollo nodded, a small smile on his face. “Yeah, I’m sure. Ready?”
“Ja, I’m always ready.” Klavier took his seat in front of the camera, guitar in hand. When the camera’s light flickered on, he began to speak. “Guten tag, everyone! Hope you’re all having a good evening so far. I’ll wait a few minutes for people to join us before we get started, so in the meantime, tell me how you’re doing, what you’ve been up to.”
Klavier carried on with idle chit-chat for the first few minutes, responding to viewers’ comments. Apollo watched him with a warm adoration settling comfortably in his chest, then silently reminded himself not to get too distracted. He glanced back at the chat, eyes widening when he saw several people commenting on how Klavier seemed to be even happier than usual and was constantly looking at someone on the other side of the camera.
His personal assistant, right? I always thought he was super cute, someone wrote. PSA: Please do not comment on the personal lives of Klavier’s employees unless disclosed by Klavier or his employees themselves, one of the chat moderators replied. Apollo let out a trembling breath.
“Herzlichen Glückwunsch to everyone who’s graduating this month. School can be really difficult, so I’m proud of everyone who made it through,” Klavier said sincerely. “Ah, and before I forget - you’ve probably heard me talk about the Gavinners’ performance at the Student Health Initiative charity concert that’s happening next month. We’ve spent all week working on our setlist and a few extra surprises - no spoilers, na sicher. Mods, if you could post the links for donations and video submissions for our charity chat livestream, danke.”
Klavier’s phone rumbled silently in Apollo’s lap. He picked it up to see a rapid-fire series of text notifications coming in from Kristoph, some of which mentioned Apollo by name. Wincing, Apollo set the phone back down and flipped it over, hoping Klavier couldn’t see the concern written on his face.
“The best part of my week was definitely last night,” Klavier said, shooting one last glance at Apollo. At his affirmative nod, he continued, “I went on a wonderful date with my boyfriend. He planned it to perfection and completely surprised me.”
That’s not exactly how I’d put it, Apollo thought with a good-natured eyeroll. Everyone in the chat immediately began to freak out, a sudden burst of messages flooding the screen. The chatbots were working overtime trying to clean up offensive language and capslock spamming, while a couple moderators sent Apollo personal messages asking why he hadn’t warned them beforehand.
“To most people, my boyfriend can be very witty and sarcastic and a bit pessimistic, but I know how sweet and sensitive and thoughtful he can be,” Klavier continued, making a point of not looking at the chat. “He’s graduating next weekend just like many of you, and I’m so proud of him.”
Apollo, we need a new PSA and quick!, one of the chat moderators pleaded. Are people allowed to talk about Klavier’s boyfriend? What can they say?, another asked. Why the hell didn’t you say anything earlier?? It’s like you want Twitch to break, yet another complained.
How about ‘PSA: When discussing Klavier’s boyfriend, please be respectful. Asking questions about their relationship is acceptable (within reason, nothing sexual or derogatory), prying into his identity and personal life is not. Anyone who violates the rules is subject to a temporary/permanent ban’. We’ll add a longer version to the stream rules later, Apollo replied, chewing his lip thoughtfully.
Yeah, that works, when did Klavier get a boyfriend anyway?, the first moderator asked. Apollo decided not to reply.
Klavier began to strum a few chords idly. “So, I’d like to dedicate the first song of the evening to mein liebe, who I know is watching me tonight.”
I found you in a stunning dress...I held you...you put down your glass and looked me in the eyes...
Where should we go now...just you and me, but I can’t…I’m on my way to court…
Apollo found himself cringing as the Gavinners’ signature song carried on. While he was immensely fond of Klavier, even after all this time, said fondness did not extend to his music. Looking back at the chat, he could see dozens of people were getting banned from the stream. His boyfriend is defo his hot personal assistant no doubt!!, one persistent chatter claimed. Banned for inappropriate discussion, the moderators chided. Gritting his teeth, Apollo began to scroll through chat to find questions that Klavier could answer after the song was over, reminding himself that this time, unlike the very first time he’d come to Klavier’s apartment, he knew what he was getting himself into.
After the livestream was over, Klavier seemed almost as relieved as Apollo was. “Are you okay, Apollo?” he said tentatively.
“You were right. It’s pretty transparent to everyone who I really am,” Apollo admitted. “I know people have been interested in learning more about me ever since we were photographed having lunch together at the courthouse in my first month with you.”
Klavier nodded, swallowing thickly. “Ja, I remember that day. You were...you were nervous. Your face was all over the internet, everyone was speculating whether you were my boyfriend, my new personal assistant, maybe both.”
“Not exactly what I signed up for, but I didn’t exactly sign up for this job in the first place,” Apollo said with an awkward laugh. “But...I got a pretty good boyfriend out of it, so it’s not so bad.”
Klavier’s eyes softened; he moved to cradle Apollo’s face in his hands. “You’ll tell me the second someone crosses the line, ja? And that includes me.”
“Hey, I’m not one to keep my mouth shut about that kinda thing,” Apollo said, smiling.
“Guter Junge,” Klavier said, satisfied, as he bent to kiss Apollo. “Will you be staying over tonight as well?”
“Longest first date ever, huh?” Apollo snarked, moving out of Klavier’s grasp so he could start packing up his things. “But yeah, I, uh, I guess it couldn’t hurt. I should definitely head back to my place tomorrow, though. Otherwise, Clay might think I’m trying to break our lease.”
Humming, Klavier reached for his phone and began scrolling through his unread messages, his expression souring when he did so. “Achtung, what a nuisance. You would think my brother has better things to do than to lecture me about my choice in lovers.”
“He’s been on my case ever since I turned down his job offer,” Apollo said, groaning. “He might’ve been able to convince me to work for you, but I’m definitely not interested in working for him.”
“And I thank Gott for that.” Klavier pocketed his phone and began helping Apollo with the clean-up. “If you ask me, you got to work for the better Gavin brother.”
“No arguments here, Prosecutor Gavin,” Apollo replied with a teasing grin.
Klavier stared at him incredulously. “Now I’m starting to think it’s less of an obsession and more of a kink. Do we need to talk about this, liebling? Should I invest in some good-quality handcuffs? Maybe pull out my old copy of Constitutional Law to read during foreplay? Get you a gavel-shaped - ”
“I have the right to remain silent,” Apollo interrupted, elbowing him playfully.
“Ah, I think we’re starting to mix professions now,” Klavier said, laughing. “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
“Okay, okay, I get your point.” With a huff, Apollo snatched up Klavier’s phone and began scrolling through his contacts. “Besides, you might not want to talk to your brother - and I certainly don’t blame you - but aren’t you forgetting someone else you promised to call?”
Klavier’s eyes widened. “Scheiße, my mother! I was so caught up in work that I completely forgot. Danke, baby.”
Apollo held his phone back out to him, a smirk playing on his lips. “Are you sure you didn’t need a personal assistant before I came along?”
About thirty minutes later, Apollo had finally finished the last of his tasks for the day, which included a long text exchange with Klavier’s publicist who was simultaneously thrilled and upset that they hadn’t heard about their relationship upgrade earlier. Notably, Klavier was trending on Twitter with dozens of hastily-written articles already hitting the internet, all speculating on his boyfriend’s identity. Most, to Apollo’s chagrin, were completely correct.
Still, when Apollo walked into the living room, he felt strangely numb to the excitement of what had happened and the uncertainty of what was to come. Instead, he only had eyes for Klavier, who was sprawled across the couch, chatting happily with his mother in German. Klavier reached a hand out to him, pulling Apollo onto the couch so they were tucked in together, side-by-side. Apollo felt the pleasant rumble of Klavier’s voice in his chest as he spoke.
“Ja, ja, of course I’m happy,” Klavier said, nestling his chin against the top of Apollo’s head. “Mhm...hmm...nein, I haven’t been paying attention. I don’t really care what they have to say.” He then let out a soft, petulant whine. “Ach, I don’t want to talk to him either. Mama, nein, sie ist unhöflich und respektlos und - ”
“Relax,” Apollo murmured, massaging a tense knot in Klavier’s shoulder. Klavier took a slow, meditative breath.
“Sorry, I...I just don’t want anything to do with him right now. I’m in a good mood and I just know he’d spoil it.” Klavier paused to kiss Apollo’s temples in gratitude. “Anyway, what were you saying about dinner? We can go to that restaurant you like, the one with the crab, and I know Apollo is a fan of their baked fish…”
Klavier carried on, rubbing Apollo’s back absentmindedly while he talked. Smiling, Apollo laid his head back down onto Klavier’s chest and pulled out his phone. The temptation to check social media and see his name and photo plastered everywhere was strong - what did people think? What were they saying? What did they believe to be the truth?
Instead of searching his name, Apollo went to his convocation’s event page. He could only hope it wasn’t too late to buy one more ticket.