before we get lost
Apollo is never going to get used to waking up next to Klavier Gavin. For one, it always feels like he’s in a movie where he’s the main character living out some romantic fantasy.
Sunlight beams through the window of Klavier’s penthouse apartment bedroom and it casts him in a golden glow that makes him look like a god from a Renaissance painting. Apollo’s breathing stops as he takes in Klavier’s peaceful, sleeping face from his side of the bed. He’s tempted to move some of Klavier’s hair out of his eyes, but he’s worried he’ll wake him, and he’d rather pull his two spikes right out of his head than do that. Klavier’s the kind of guy who stays up late making his case as perfect as it can be, so him getting a full night’s sleep is rare. He needs every spare hour he can get.
Plus, Apollo likes looking at him like this, soft and unguarded, shimmering under streaks of sunlight. For maybe the thousandth time since they started dating a few months ago, Apollo can’t believe they’re here. It hadn’t felt real that first night when Klavier kissed him during one of their unofficial work sessions, but then a kiss turned into a date, which turned into another and another until they officially decided to be official. And it just… hasn’t stopped? For whatever reason, Klavier keeps wanting to be with him and Apollo’s going to ride that wave for as long as he can. He’s… never felt this way before.
He doesn’t want it to end.
It’s late enough that Apollo can’t justify staying in bed any longer, so he carefully slips out from beneath the sheets and gets ready for work. He should probably stop staying over on work nights, but…
It’s embarrassing to admit, but something about being in his apartment by himself hurts now. It’s so much easier to be together.
Apollo clears his throat as he turns on the faucet to brush his teeth. There’s no reason for him to get so sappy this early in the morning. Klavier cleared a drawer for him weeks ago, so it’s not like staying over is entirely impractical.
Apollo washes his face, changes, and styles his hair as quietly as he can so he doesn’t wake Klavier before he needs to. When he steps back into the bedroom, though, Klavier is sitting up and rubbing sleep from his eyes.
He brightens when he sees Apollo emerge from the bathroom and it’s like Klavier has tied a rope around his heart and tugged. “Schatz.”
“Morning,” Apollo says, walking over and dipping his head to meet Klavier for a brief kiss. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“Nein, you only broke my heart when I found your side of the bed cold,” Klavier says, voice gravelly with sleep.
Apollo rolls his eyes but gives him another kiss in apology. “I have to go. Gotta prep my client. Still on for movie night, right?”
“Ja, I will see you then. Good luck in court today, Liebling.”
“Thanks.” Apollo gives him one last kiss for good measure.
He wins his case and, as customary, the WAA goes to Eldoon’s to celebrate, but since Athena and Mr. Wright are knee-deep in a tough murder investigation, Trucy is his only companion. Apollo doesn’t mind, though. Trucy is one of his favorite people in the world, so it’s nice to spend some quality time with her.
“How are things with Klavier, Polly?” Trucy says between mouthfuls of noodles.
Apollo nearly drops his chopsticks. “What brings that up all of a sudden?”
“Aw, c’mon,” Trucy says with a shrug. “I know you’d never talk about him with Athena and Daddy here, so I get special Honorary Little Sister privileges.”
“Is it really that interesting?” Apollo says, poking at his beef.
“You’re dating an international rockstar, Polly. Of course it’s interesting!” Trucy says. “But we should talk about this stuff, y’know? You’re always so secretive. It’s not good for you.”
Apollo sighs and slurps some noodles. It’s not that he’s trying to keep his relationship a secret from Trucy, but he’s always had a hard time sharing stuff about his personal life. It’s a habit he learned over the years of hopping from foster home to foster home, school to school. Talking about his personal life tended to be a bummer, so he got used to not talking about it.
It’s unfair to treat his relationship with Klavier like that, though.
“It’s good,” Apollo finally says. “He’s—yeah, it’s going really well.”
He finds himself smiling and Trucy beams at him.
“Aww, Polly. That’s sweet. I’m really happy for you. I can tell you’re happier too,” Trucy says.
“Yeah. Like, you’ve kind of mellowed out, y’know? You’re not yelling at the slightest inconvenience anymore,” Trucy says.
“I didn’t do that.”
“You totally did.”
Apollo huffs and drops it. He won’t win against Trucy. “I guess he’s helped… take the edge off. We talk about stuff and it—I don’t know… ”
Apollo can tell he’s blushing. See, this is exactly why he doesn’t like talking about his personal life. It’s embarrassing.
“Yes, I’m sure it’s the talking that’s taken the edge off,” Trucy says, innocent eyes paired with a shit-eating grin.
Apollo slams a fist on the table out of shock. “Trucy!”
“Kidding, kidding,” she says, laughing. “But seriously, I’m glad. I think you guys are good for each other.”
Apollo’s still trying to get his blush under control as she speaks, but he’s finally able to mumble out a small “thanks.”
“So…” Trucy says, drawing out the vowel. Apollo braces himself. “Have you told him you loved him yet?”
Apollo’s very glad he wasn’t eating his ramen then because he definitely would have spit it out. “It hasn’t even been four months, Trucy.”
“Wouldn’t you know by now?” Trucy says, tilting her head.
“I—maybe? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter,” Apollo says, going back to his bowl and hoping Trucy will take the hint.
“Well?” Trucy says because of course she doesn’t want to change the subject. “Do you love him?”
“I don’t know,” Apollo says, anxiety suddenly filling his stomach like a swarm of bees.
Trucy leans forward. “You either do or don’t, right?”
“I don’t know, Trucy,” Apollo says. “What’s even the difference? Between like and love, I mean. Where’s the line?”
Trucy hums thoughtfully. “Gosh, when you put it that way, I don’t know either. I figured it was one of those ‘you know when you know’ things.”
“So, you’ve never been in love before?” Trucy asks, her curiosity clearly going beyond the context of Apollo and Klavier’s relationship. She’s probably asking for life reasons and Apollo probably has an obligation to answer her as her Honorary Big Brother.
“No,” he says simply. “I’ve had a couple of boyfriends before, but they didn’t last long.”
Trucy hums. “I guess it’d be hard to know if you’re in love for the first time. Oh! I have a great idea, Polly.”
“And that is?” Apollo says, grimacing.
“You should ask Daddy!” Trucy says, as if she’s suggesting Apollo should ask Mr. Wright for advice on something totally inconsequential, like where to vacation in Europe. “He and Papa have a love story for the ages. I bet he could help you out.”
“Are you out of your mind? I’m not talking to my boss about my love life,” Apollo says, glaring.
Trucy raises her hands in defense. “Hey, it was just a thought.”
“Can we please change the subject?” Apollo says. “I’m begging you.”
“Alright, but only if you order me an extra side of egg.”
Despite the subject change, Trucy’s question nags at Apollo all day.
“Do you love him?”
Truth be told, he hasn’t thought about it, which is weird because Apollo is a notorious over-thinker. Their relationship has been good, and all of his energy has been focused on keeping it that way. Because that’s the problem with good things… it’s really easy to mess them up, at least in Apollo’s experience. So, is there really any reason to rock the boat?
That doesn’t stop him from thinking about it, though. It almost ruins their movie night.
“Ach, Schatz, you seem so far away,” Klavier says, his fingers softly combing through Apollo’s hair as they cuddle on the couch. They’re watching some black and white foreign film that Apollo would have trouble following even if he was one hundred percent focused, so as is, he has absolutely no idea what’s going on.
“Sorry,” Apollo says, squeezing Klavier around his middle. “Just thinking.”
“You do that too much,” Klavier says fondly and presses a lingering kiss to Apollo’s temple. Apollo leans into it, relaxing at the touch. There was a time, when this whole thing started between them, that Apollo would flinch at some of Klavier’s touches and had to pull away. It probably hurt Klavier at the time, but he was patient and gentle with Apollo. They took it slow, Klavier being very careful to ask when he wanted to hold hands, a kiss, or something more. He never once got mad or frustrated when Apollo had to say no, only offered to do something else instead, and Apollo’s never stopped being grateful for that. He was secretly really anxious that his pace would be too slow for Klavier to put up with, but he just kept being there, kept supporting him until Apollo started leaning in, instead of away. Apollo trusts him.
The thought makes a well of affection rise to his chest and he lifts his head to plant a kiss on the underside of Klavier’s jaw before resting his head on Klavier’s chest. He lets out a contented sigh and tries to get back into the movie.
But then his thoughts start creeping back and he wonders, is this love?
Is it this feeling? Feeling happy and warm and safe in someone’s arms? Couldn’t that also be attributed to romantic feelings that come before the love threshold? Is there a love threshold or is there an entirely different metric Apollo hasn’t even thought of?
It doesn’t make sense to him. What’s the difference? He doesn’t have anything to go off of and it feels like this is something he has to parse sooner or later for the good of his relationship. Klavier’s put so much effort in, and Apollo wants to make sure he’s doing the same.
Maybe Trucy was right. Maybe he does need some qualitative data…
If there’s one thing Apollo Justice thought he’d never do, it’s ask his boss for relationship advice.
But apparently that’s what happens when you have a boyfriend you’re crazy for. He can’t believe he let Trucy talk him into this. She barely even said anything and still she managed to plant a seed in his mind that wouldn’t stop growing. A magic trick if he ever saw one.
So, here he is, on a workday, decidedly not working because he’s too anxious to do anything except worry about what he’s going to say to Mr. Wright.
He tries to think of any other solution or any other person to ask, but when he thinks of how Mr. Wright looks at the Chief Prosecutor, how they look at each other, he knows he has no other option. He can’t think of a single couple he knows that looks so… whole together. No, it has to be Mr. Wright. Especially because Apollo’s absolutely not going to talk to Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth. Apollo can speak with Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth on three subjects and only three subjects: 1) the law, 2) how his day is going, and 3) the weather.
The day moves slowly, especially since he can’t get absorbed in his work. Apollo waits until the end of the day before he makes his move, hoping Athena will leave before Mr. Wright so he doesn’t have to awkwardly ask if they can speak in private. Trucy’s practicing at the Wonder Bar so he won’t have to worry about her snooping around, at least.
“Hey Boss, is it okay if I head out in ten minutes? I have a spin class I want to catch,” Athena says from her desk.
Mr. Wright looks up from his file and glances at the clock, seemingly surprised it’s that late. “Oh. Oh, yeah. That’s fine. Good work today, Athena.”
Athena gives him a big grin and gathers her things before saying her goodbyes. She’s gone like a flash of lightning, and suddenly Apollo’s faced with a perfect opportunity to speak with Mr. Wright.
Maybe I shouldn’t do this now, he thinks. This is probably a bad idea anyway.
He’s about to pack it in and go home when his phone buzzes.
It’s a text message from Klavier asking for another movie night since Apollo was so absent from the one they had last night. Apollo sends a quick text to accept the invitation and to apologize.
Don’t worry, Liebling. Miss you. See you tonight, Klavier texts back with a red heart emoji. Apollo’s heart flutters and he can feel the pull of a smile on his lips.
He realizes he has to talk to Mr. Wright today, no matter what. This isn’t something he can put off. Taking a deep breath, Apollo gathers all his courage and walks in front of Mr. Wright’s desk.
Mr. Wright looks up from his paperwork, once again dazed, like Apollo’s awakened him from a trance. “Hm? What’s up?”
“I… I was wondering if I could speak with you about something,” Apollo says, scratching the back of his neck. “Something… not, uh, work related.”
Mr. Wright’s eyes widen a fraction as he tilts his head. It’s probably a shock hearing something like this from Apollo. He’s very anti-talking-about-personal-lives-at-work but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Mr. Wright gestures to one of the chairs in front of his desk and Apollo takes a seat.
“Is everything okay?” Mr. Wright says, his kind eyes filled with worry.
“Oh, no. Nothing’s wrong, I promise. I just… I needed someone to talk to about something and I think you’re the only person I know who could help.”
“You’re bein’ a little vague, Apollo. What’s this something?” Mr. Wright says, which yeah, okay, Apollo guesses he probably needs to know the topic of discussion, but also, ugh. This is mortifying.
“Well, uh… I was just wondering how do—you know when you’re with someone and—no, oh my god,” Apollo says, pinching the bridge of his nose. He knew he’d fudge this up and he can feel Mr. Wright staring at him. He just needs to say it. “How did you know you were in love with Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth?”
He doesn’t so much say the words as shout them, but in all honesty, he’s just grateful it didn’t come out louder.
Mr. Wright looks like someone just used a taser on him, though.
“Wow, that’s a little bit more personal than I was expecting,” Mr. Wright says, scratching at his cheek with one finger, on the verge of laughing. “Can I ask why you want to know?”
“To, um, compare notes,” Apollo says, not quite meeting Mr. Wright’s gaze.
“Ah,” Mr. Wright says, solving the puzzle. “I see. Well, I might end up disappointing you. Miles and I did everything backward. I fell in love with him when I was nine and didn’t see him for another fifteen years. Then, when we met again, we were still figuring things out. It wasn’t until I adopted a kid that we actually started dating. Didn’t get married until I got my badge back. It’d probably be hard to apply my situation with yours.”
Apollo winces. “I guess so, but nine? How could you know when you were nine?”
Mr. Wright laughs, full and jovial. “Good question. Though, I didn’t know I was in love when I was nine. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.”
“But how did you know when you got older? What was it that made you realize?” Apollo says.
Mr. Wright freezes at the question, then looks out the window and hums. “It was… right after I got disbarred, I think. When it happened, I was devastated, obviously, but I also kept wondering how Miles would see me now. Would he be disgusted with me? Or worse, pity me? But… ” Mr. Wright runs his hand over his desk, his eyes suddenly very soft. “When I told him everything that happened, I was a weeping mess and I was so sure he was going to get up off the couch and walk out of my life forever. Instead, he handed me a handkerchief and said ‘take the time you need, but then, let’s get to work.’”
He laughs and his face is so fond, so full of love, Apollo feels like he’s intruding on a private moment.
“And I just had this thought,” Mr. Wright continues, “like, I want to be with this person forever, no matter what. And you don’t have a thought like that without finally getting the picture, y’know? But I’ve always wanted to be with Miles. I guess what I’m trying to say here is there’s no benchmark, Apollo. It’s not something you can evaluate with a neat little list, as much as you might want to.”
Apollo’s brows furrow as he takes it all in. “I… get what you’re saying, but there’s gotta be—I don’t know—symptoms? Something that makes it different, right? If I just had something to go off of…”
“Symptoms? It’s not a disease, Apollo,” Mr. Wright says, laughing. “Well, maybe it kinda is, but it’s not something you’re going to figure out with your mind. You’ll feel it.”
“For the sake of argument,” Apollo pleads.
Mr. Wright sighs. “Gun to my head, I’d say you’re probably in love when even the mundane makes you full to bursting. They’ll be doing something totally normal and you’re blown away by them. It’s like they shine doing nothing at all and you could pick them out in any crowd because your eyes just seek them out.” Mr. Wright actually gets a little embarrassed at that, based on the light dusting of pink on his cheeks. “I think I’d also ask yourself how you’d feel if they left? That’ll probably give you a better answer than anything.”
Apollo’s chest twinges immediately at the question and, okay, that requires further study.
“I think I understand,” Apollo says, though that remains to be seen.
Mr. Wright leans back in his chair, his fingers intertwined in front of him. “Just think about it. But not too much, okay? In the end, I don’t think it’s something you have to figure out immediately. It’s okay if you don’t come up with an answer right away.”
“O-okay. Thank you,” Apollo says, feeling sheepish again. “I… really appreciate it. I know this isn’t exactly a normal conversation you’d have with one of your subordinates.”
“Aw, c’mon, Apollo. You’re family. You can always reach out for help—for work or otherwise, okay?”
Apollo smiles. “Yeah, you got it, Mr. Wright.”
If there’s one thing Apollo knows about himself, it’s that if someone tells him not to overthink something, he’s going to overthink it. It’s made evident by the fact that as Apollo bikes to Klavier’s place, he nearly gets run over by a car. Twice.
He can’t help it. He keeps playing the conversation with Mr. Wright in his head over and over again, trying to figure out the riddle that is his relationship. Every after school special he’s ever watched has emphasized how important it is to communicate with your partner, but he can’t communicate if he doesn’t understand his own feelings. And Apollo wants to communicate. He wants to be a good boyfriend. He wants this to work in the long run.
That’s something, right? Mr. Wright said something about always wanting to be with Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth. Apollo’s not sure about the particulars of “forever” but he definitely wants this to continue for a long time. Is that the same? Is Apollo still too wishy-washy?
And what about the whole “shining” business? Klavier always shines. Apollo could pick him out of a crowd no problem way before they ever got together. That’s just a Klavier rock god thing, not really a good indication if Apollo is in love with him or not. But then, there’s the other thing…
How would you feel if he left?
When Apollo gets to Klavier’s apartment complex, he takes a moment to really imagine it as he stops at the bike rack.
He closes his eyes and thinks of Klavier telling him it isn’t working out, Klavier turning away, walking out the door and out of Apollo’s life. It conjures more images of his absence—Apollo spending his evenings alone, the bed cold, the desire to text Klavier and ask him about his day squashed by the fact he’s not allowed to do that anymore. The absence of Klavier’s voice, of not talking to him every day, hurts beyond what he can put into words.
Apollo’s eyes prick, threatening tears. He feels like he’s being torn apart. It’s like someone’s stomping on his chest with a steel-toed boot, making it hard to breathe. Apollo rubs at the spot over his heart, trying to encourage his muscles to unclench, but they remain stubbornly tense. He has an inkling it won’t go away until he sees Klavier and that’s suddenly all he wants to do right now.
He decides to leave the whole love quandary at that for the day, feeling drained, and locks up his bike before he heads upstairs.
And just from the small distance from the bike rack to Klavier’s front door, an aching need builds in Apollo’s chest, making it even tenser than before. Is he really about to give himself an anxiety attack over a distinction of how he feels about Klavier?
No. No, he’s not going to overthink it anymore. He’s going to have a nice night in with his boyfriend and he’s not going to think about this anymore. He’s going to listen to Mr. Wright’s advice and be okay with not knowing. He’s Apollo Justice and he’s fine.
He takes a moment to take a couple of calming breaths before going inside, not wanting Klavier to worry about him, then uses his spare key on the door.
Klavier is sitting in one of his plush living room chairs, playing his acoustic guitar, dressed down in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. When Apollo enters, he’s blinded by the smile Klavier gives him.
“Liebling,” Klavier says and his eyes are bright, lighting up as he takes Apollo in. “Give me a moment, I am working out this melody.”
Apollo is struck and it’s like he’s seeing Klavier with new eyes. Nothing’s changed, nothing’s different, except that everything is.
It hits him like an avalanche: a rush of heavy, overwhelming snow that doesn’t leave room for nuance or subtlety. It hits him so fast and hard that he might collapse from the weight of it.
He’s in love with Klavier. Of course, he is. He’s not sure how he could have possibly questioned it or so willfully ignored it when this feeling is so obviously crushing him now. He’s so in love he can’t stand it.
Apollo stands dumbfounded in the entrance, so completely overwhelmed by the revelation that he can’t move, can’t do anything.
And then it just falls out, tumbles out of him like a marble rolling off a table onto the floor—
“I love you.”
Time stops in Klavier’s living room. They both freeze and all Apollo can think is shit shit shit shit shit and it was kind of rude of me to drop that on him when he was in the middle of writing a song.
Klavier’s eyes widen as he looks up from the neck of his guitar and stares at Apollo like he’s just told him there’s a bomb in the apartment.
And fuck, fuck this is scary. Apollo is terrified he just fucked the whole thing up, but now that he has a name for the feeling, now that he knows what this is, and the gates are open, he can’t take it back, he can only double down.
“Klav,” he says, his voice completely different than what it’s like normally. It’s soft, but grounded in that softness. “Klav, I love you.”
Klavier gapes at him, mouth hanging open and eyes a total mystery to Apollo. In Apollo’s recklessness, he hadn’t realized that saying something like this usually requires an answer and he’s put Klavier on the spot.
Apollo’s trusty anxiety finally catches up to him and he holds his hands up in defense. “I mean—! Sorry, I didn’t mean to just dump that on you. Um, you don’t have to say it back or anything I just needed to tell you, so—”
Apollo is cut off by Klavier hastily tearing his guitar strap off his shoulders so he can put the guitar down. He makes a beeline for Apollo and before Apollo can respond, Klavier cradles his face between his palms and kisses him hard.
Apollo feels it down to his toes. Klavier kisses him like it’s the last one they’ll ever get, like he’s trying to sear this moment into his brain forever. Apollo’s a little confused, but it doesn’t matter. He’s just realized he’s in love with this man, so he’s more than happy to kiss him back for all he’s worth.
Apollo’s hands fist into Klavier’s shirt, the kiss making him dizzy and weak in the knees. He’s both disappointed and slightly relieved when Klavier pulls back.
Klavier’s thumbs brush against Apollo’s cheeks and he looks at him with such tenderness Apollo’s afraid he might melt from it.
“I love you,” Klavier says, his eyes swimming. He kisses Apollo’s cheek. “Ich liebe dich.” He kisses Apollo’s other cheek, then starts peppering kisses all over his face, saying the words over and over again in different languages.
Apollo laughs and happy tears cloud his vision. Klavier loves him back and, impossibly, Apollo loves him even more for it. “Klav.”
Klavier pulls back, wiping a tear from his cheekbone. “Schatzi. I love you. So much.”
Apollo blinks away his own tears, then wraps his arms around Klavier’s neck to pull him into another kiss. Klavier melts into him easily, his lips soft and familiar against Apollo’s. All the tension in Apollo’s chest is replaced with a liquidy warmth that makes him feel safer and happier than he’s ever been before.
When they separate, Apollo wraps his arms around Klavier’s middle and presses his head against Klavier’s chest. Klavier’s arms circle around Apollo’s shoulders and hold him closer, Klavier’s cheek resting on the top of Apollo’s head.
They stay like that for a while, happy and content, Apollo listening to Klavier’s pounding heart beneath his shirt. It feels right, being in Klavier’s arms. It feels like home.
Eventually, they pull away, though not very far since Klavier’s hands find their way back to Apollo’s cheeks.
Apollo beams up at him. “So, what movie we watching tonight?”
“Liebling,” Klavier says, drawing in close again. “I don’t think we’re going to get to a movie tonight.”
Klavier kisses him again and, yeah, Apollo’s just fine with that.