[identity profile] kiyala.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] shannys_corner

Arthur is calmer the next day; even Klavier notices it, when he walks into the office the next morning.

Eames looks up from the files he’s reading, waving Klavier over. “Good morning. Arthur went on a coffee run just before. Latte with two sugars for you, yeah?”

“Thanks,” Klavier takes the cup being held out to him, silently marvelling at how much brighter Eames’ mood seems, too. “So you wanted me to come here to talk to you about Kristoph?”

“Anything you can tell us makes us better prepared for getting around when we’re in your brother’s head,” Eames says, sipping from his own coffee cup. “Usually, we’d just observe our mark in their natural setting, but we don’t exactly have that luxury this time.”

“I’m not sure I’ll be able to help you very much,” Klavier says with a grim smile. “I thought I knew him, but… well. I was mistaken.”

“You may think so, but you know what they say about hindsight. It might not have been obvious to you then, but now…”

Klavier frowns, and tries to think of something. “He’s obsessed with perfection, if that helps. But that’s not exactly news to anyone.”

“Don’t you worry, mate,” Eames claps him on the shoulder. “It’s not something you can force. We’ve got time—it’ll come to you.”

Klavier nods, but before he can reply, his attention is captured by Arthur and Daryan, setting up a PASIV by Arthur’s desk.

“I’m setting the timer for five minutes,” Arthur says as he unwinds two IV lines for them. “That’s an hour. More than long enough to show you what dreaming is really like.”

Daryan looks nervous, and Klavier can’t fault him for that; good mood or no, Arthur is still one of the most intimidating people he has ever met. Klavier watches with fascination as they both slide the needles into their wrists, and when they fall asleep, he turns back to Eames to find that he’s watching Arthur with a soft look in his eyes, the slight quirk to his lips impossible to read as anything but affectionate. It makes Klavier feel less guilty for glancing back at Daryan, taking in his relaxed features, the way he looks more at ease than he has been for a very long time.

“Your… friend,” Eames says, with a very deliberate pause, “is in good hands. There’s no one quite like Arthur to teach someone what dreaming’s really about. That’s part of the reason why Ariadne is such a good architect. Well, that and the fact that she’s extremely talented.”

“Nice timing, Eames. Or did you see me at the door?” Ariadne walks into the office, followed by Cobb. She has a small suitcase with her and crosses the room to hug Eames. “I’m going to say this now, while Arthur’s asleep: if I hear that the two of you are still being idiots, I am not above flying back here for the sole purpose of kicking your arses.”

“Duly noted,” Eames replies, though his smile suddenly looks much more strained.

“And you,” she turns to Klavier. “I’m not really sure what’s going on with you and Detective Crescend, but I hope you work it out.”

Klavier simply blinks, at an utter loss for words, and Cobb chuckles, shaking his head. “That’s Ariadne for you. Best not to question it.”

Klavier nods mutely, his attention captured when he sees Daryan and Arthur stirring. Arthur wakes immediately, his eyes sharp and his movements efficient as always when he gets to his feet and pulls the needle from his wrist before winding his IV line back into the machine.

Daryan takes longer. He’s awake, but he lingers in his seat, wide-eyed and elated. There’s a smile on his face that Klavier doesn’t think Daryan could hide even if he wanted to. It’s infectious—it’s a knee-jerk reaction for Klavier to smile when Daryan is, ingrained from sharing so much both on and offstage, and their eyes meet. For a brief moment, Daryan’s grin falters, but when Klavier keeps smiling, so does he, even brighter than before.

Klavier is vaguely aware of Arthur saying something about dropping Ariadne off at the airport and meeting a contact after, but the majority of his attention is on Daryan and he can’t really find it in him to care about much more than the fact that this is the first time they’ve connected since the eventful concert that had torn everything apart. The thought makes his smile slip just a little, and it’s enough to make Daryan withdraw, his own smile fading and his expression turning guarded.

And just like that, the moment is gone and Klavier is left feeling empty, feeling angry that Daryan is the one who is afraid of being hurt.

Eames is watching with a look that is far too knowing for Klavier’s liking, but there’s a touch of sympathy, of understanding, that softens it.

“Kristoph had a dog,” Klavier says, desperate to change the subject. “Vongole. She’s my dog now, I suppose, but when Kristoph had her, he… was never cruel, but I can see now, that he’d use her to feel in control.”

Eames’ brow furrows as he considers this. “We could use this information to make him feel more relaxed in the dream. You’ve given us a good way to fool him into thinking nothing is amiss—perhaps if I can meet your dog, I’ll be able to find a way to incorporate her into the dream. At the very least, having her demanding his attention will keep him distracted while we do our work.”

“How are you going to do that?” Daryan speaks up, frowning. “I thought that you couldn’t control projections—”

“Ah, of course, but that is assuming I’ll be using a projection,” Eames smiles. “Forgers have their tricks, Detective Crescend and they all centre around the way people perceive things.”

“You’re going to dream up a dog,” Daryan says disbelievingly, and Eames chuckles.

“You’ve dreamed up guns before, I’m sure. Why is a dog any different? I’m sure Arthur’s shown you his lovely Penrose staircase. If you can put a paradox into a dream, a small animal shouldn’t really be that much of a stretch.”

“Arthur did say that your ideas tend to be a bit—outside the box.”

“Oh, forget what Arthur says. He wouldn’t be able to think outside the box even if his life depended on it.”

There’s a look in Eames’ eyes that says he doesn’t really mean it, but Klavier is kind enough not to point it out.

Daryan, on the other hand, isn’t. “Man, that’s bullshit and you know it. What’s with the two of you, anyway? Messy break up?”

Eames barks out a laugh, and it isn’t a pleasant sound. “Something like that. Similar to whatever has the two of you doing your best to avoid each other.”

“I doubt it,” Klavier mutters.

“You’d be surprised by just how many people make the same kinds of mistakes,” Eames sighs, and then turns to the whiteboard near his desk, picking up a marker. “Enough of that. Klavier, this is the rough layout of the mansion here; which rooms would your dog usually stay in? I need all the details as precise as possible. I think that if we get this down, you’ll be able to sit the rest out. Something tells me you’d appreciate that.”

“Just a little,” Klavier replies with a wry grin. “I know that you do this for a living, but I really can’t see how.”

“To each their own,” Eames shrugs, before turning back to the whiteboard. “Now, you said that Kristoph’s study is located over here…”

By the time Arthur returns, they have Kristoph and Vongole’s daily routines mapped out on the board and all three of them—Daryan included—are in an animated discussion of exactly how Eames will use Vongole to keep Kristoph distracted.

This all changes, however, when Arthur shuts the door behind him. It closes with a soft click, but it catches Eames’ attention and Arthur’s expression makes him fall silent mid-sentence. Cobb is standing beside Arthur, looking grim, and Eames visibly deflates.

“Something’s wrong,” he says, not a question.

“The contact I spoke with,” Arthur says slowly, “is from the local underground dream sharing world. The type that use PASIVs as recreational tools. Tells me that for a period of just over a year, Kristoph Gavin had been a regular customer of his. I’m talking multiple times a week.”

“Fuck,” Eames mutters. “Fuck.”

“I’m sorry,” Klavier frowns, confused. “Why is this such a bad thing?”

“Means your bro’s familiar with shared dreaming,” Daryan answers, his arms folded across his chest. “Means he can tell the difference between a real dream and a fake one.”

“He’s more likely to be a lucid dreamer,” Cobb explains. “If he notices things in the dream that tip him off about it being an extraction… well, judging from what we know about him, he’s not going to react well.”

“We need to tell Wright,” Arthur says. “This just got a lot riskier. Going in with a plan of action is pointless, if he’s going to notice and change things to suit him. We can’t do this.”

“Arthur,” Eames’ tone is gentle. “I think it’s worth a shot. We’re only using the normal compound—we don’t have the risk of Limbo to deal with, we don’t have to worry about this mark sending hired thugs after us. We change the plan—maybe the plan has to be about just adapting to whatever happens. We’ve done that before—and I know that if you’re the dreamer, we’ve got a good chance of keeping the dream stable enough, even if we does become lucid. We can do this, trust me.”

Arthur is silent for a torturously long moment before sighing in defeat. “Fine. But we still need to talk to Wright. And… Klavier, if we’re going to lose control of the dream, you’re the one who knows most about your brother. You’re the most well-equipped to help us navigate your brother’s mind. I know that it wasn’t part of the original plan, but that’s been shot to hell now. You’ll need to come into the dream with us.”

Klavier feels himself go cold with dread. He hasn’t heard very much about dream sharing, but what he does know has never made him keen to learn more. Especially not by going into Kristoph’s head.

Arthur doesn’t stop to notice the terrified look in Klavier’s eyes, already pacing as he comes up with a new plan. Eames is helping Arthur and they work in perfect synchrony, adding their ideas into something better, too focused on their work to care about how they treat each other. Klavier watches them work, fascinated enough to be distracted.

“See, Arthur,” Eames smiles reassuringly. “We’re fine. We’ve got a plan—maybe not as detailed as before, but we know what we’re doing before we’re found out. If everything goes well, we can keep him distracted long enough to do our job and get out. At least we’re not going into a dream without knowing we’re facing a militarised subconscious or something of the sort.”

Arthur’s expression immediately closes up and Eames must realise his mistake because his eyes go wide.

“No, Arthur, I didn’t mean it like—”

“Fuck you, Eames,” Arthur spits. He turns to the door, shaking his head at Cobb, who looks like he’s about to protest. “I’m going somewhere to plan in peace.”

Still, when Arthur slams the door behind him, Cobb sends a reproachful look in Eames’ direction before following.

Klavier remains in his seat, still struggling to grasp the fact that he’ll be dreaming with the others. He doesn’t look up until Daryan sits down beside him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Hey,” Daryan’s voice is gentle and Klavier is reminded once against that this is the only point of familiarity in an entirely new world that he doesn’t understand. “Look, if you’re going to be dreaming with us, it’s probably best if you got familiar with it first. Hey, Eames, is it alright if we use the PASIV?”

“Do whatever the bloody hell you want,” Eames grumbles, an unlit cigarette already hanging between his lips. “I’ll be outside.”

Daryan nods, opening the case and setting everything up before swabbing Klavier’s wrist and pushing the needle.

“You’ll love this,” Daryan promises, and that’s all Klavier hears before his eyes slip shut.

Eames is sitting in the sunny patch of a bench, in a park near the office when a shadow falls across him. It’s Phoenix and Eames’ shoulders slump as he exhales his smoke and looks up.

“I heard that I missed another fight in my office,” Phoenix says, taking a seat beside Eames. “I guess that’s what I get for spending my morning in Miles’ office.”

“Barely a fight,” Eames grunts. “I said something stupid. Arthur got mad and left. Not exactly a new development.”

“Is that what happened last time?” Phoenix asks, looking at his hands and turning a small, jade stone between his fingers. “The time you broke up?”

Eames laughs bitterly. “Oh, no. See, that time I was the one who left. All the stupid things were said afterwards. I must say, though, if Arthur told you anything about us at all, you must be a brilliant lawyer.”

Phoenix smiles at the compliment, but it’s short-lived. “I did my research, Eames, and I’ve seen the brief moments when you’re working together and you click. You and Arthur are brilliant together.”

“You don’t need to tell me that, I’m perfectly aware of how good we can be. And just how toxic we can be. I’ve seen both.”

“I know what it’s like to have someone like that—someone you love even if you don’t always see eye to eye with them, Eames. I’m just saying that maybe, some things are worth fighting for.”

“Fighting,” Eames laughs, shaking his head and taking another drag of his cigarette. “Fighting’s all we ever do, mate. I know you’re trying to help, but there’s nothing either of us can do. The ball’s in Arthur’s court. Always has been.”

Phoenix doesn’t look happy and Eames pats him on the shoulder before getting to his feet, smoking the last bit of his cigarette before putting it out.

“I’m heading back to the office. Klavier and Daryan should be done now. Speaking of which, I know Cobb is working on familiarising you with shared dreaming, but you’re probably better off going under with Arthur, too.”

“Did he teach you?” Phoenix asks, hurrying to keep up with Eames.

“Actually,” Eames grins. “I taught him.”

When they return to the office, the PASIV has already been packed away, and they find Daryan and Klavier standing over the model Ariadne has left behind of the mansion. Eames smiles when he notices the fact that they’re standing much closer to one another than before, and that Klavier sounds much happier when he speaks.

“I take it the dreaming went well?” he asks, and they both turn to him with matching grins.

“It was amazing,” Klavier beams. “The possibilities are… endless. Daryan dreamed up a concert for us—just like the ones we used to put on. It all felt so real. I had no idea…”

“Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, eh?” Eames winks. “Come on, I’ll run you both through a few more trials. Wright, you come along, too. The sooner you’re all ready for this, the sooner we can do this extraction. Best not to leave it too long when Arthur’s all agitated like he is now.”

“Because you don’t want him to stress himself out?” Klavier asks.

“Because the longer the job stretches for, the more difficult it is to deal with him,” Eames replies. “Trust me. It’s in our best interests to get this done nice and quickly.”

“Well, then,” Phoenix reaches for the PASIV, placing it on the nearest desk. “Shall we?”

“You know, I’m not even sure if I’m excited or if I’m terrified,” Phoenix says, looking at the blueprints of the Gavin mansion one last time.

It’s the night before the extraction and Cobb has decided that everyone is ready, Phoenix and Klavier included. Tomorrow, one of the guards Arthur has paid off will slip a sedative into Kristoph’s late-morning tea, and everything will be set in motion from there.

Edgeworth is sitting in bed, a textbook on criminal law open in his lap as he cross-references information for a paper. He’ll be the one to watch over everyone when they go under with Kristoph and no matter how inconsequential his role is, he feels the tension too.

“Come here,” he says, putting his book on the bedside table and reaching out for Phoenix. He kisses Phoenix’s forehead and gives him a reassuring smile. “You’ll find what you’re looking for, Phoenix. Perhaps—as Cobb told us—you won’t uncover every secret he has, but you’ll find out what defines him. What made him into who he is.”

Phoenix chuckles. “You know, Cobb said that usually his team just goes in to find tangible information. Something that can be found written down on a piece of paper. I couldn’t make things that simple for them, huh?”

“You don’t do anything simply,” Edgeworth laughs, and pulls Phoenix into a kiss. “It’s one of the things I love about you.”

Phoenix smiles, content to lie in Edgeworth’s arms. “You know, I have a feeling that Daryan and Klavier are working their issues out. I’m glad.”

“Is that so?” Edgeworth raises an eyebrow. “You do realise that it might take them a while, don’t you? With Daryan betraying Klavier’s trust the way he did…”

“I know,” Phoenix sighs. “They have a lot to sort out, but I can see that they’re trying, and that’s a good start.”

“What about the two working with Cobb?” Edgeworth asks. “Arthur and Eames?”

Phoenix frowns. “I can tell that they miss whatever they had—I don’t need a magatama to know they’re lying to themselves. I talked to them both and…”

“You know, Phoenix, you don’t need to solve every single problem you come across,” Edgeworth says gently. “You can’t expect to be able to.”

“I know.” With a loud sigh, Phoenix turns his face into the crook of Edgeworth’s neck. “They’d just get over it so much faster if they weren’t being to damn stubborn.”

“Oh, of course,” Edgeworth laughs, his fingers stroking through Phoenix’s hair. “Because you have never been stubborn in your life.”

“That’s different,” Phoenix protests.

“If you insist.” Edgeworth tilts Phoenix’s head back to kiss him. “Enough talk. We’re both tense and nervous and I have a wonderful idea of how to deal with it.”

“You’re my favourite,” Phoenix grins, rolling over so that he’s lying on top of Edgeworth, kissing him hard.

“Oh,” Edgeworth’s smile would be smug if not for the flush creeping up his neck. “I know.”

They’ve appropriated an interview room for the job, and Arthur stands at the door, waiting for confirmation that Kristoph is unconscious so they can begin. His mobile phone buzzes once before going silent and he checks it, nodding at Cobb as he slips it back into his pocket. “We’re on.”

“Go get him,” Cobb instructs. “Eames, you go with him. I’ll set up here.”

Arthur doesn’t protest Eames’ company; he’s too far into his work mindset to do so. With a curt nod, he glances at Eames. “This way.”

Eames follows close behind, the way he does when they’re in hostile territory—whether dreamed or real—to let Arthur know his back is being covered. It’s unnecessary in a secure place like this, but it’s comforting all the same. Arthur knows that running point for every job—especially some that Cobb had gotten them into—is dangerous an requires him to be self-reliant in every situation. Still, it’s nice to be able to rely on Eames.

The thought brings him to a halt and Eames lets out a muffled grunt of surprise when he walks into Arthur’s back. “All right, Arthur?”

Arthur turns sharply, facing Eames. If the motion surprises Eames, his expression doesn’t show it. The forger simply watches patiently, the slight raising of his eyebrow questioning without the need for words.

Arthur looks away, clearing his throat quietly. Damn Phoenix Wright, for bringing thoughts back into his head when he’d spent so long pushing them out. Surely a mind criminal would have better control over his thoughts.

“We’re here,” Arthur says, to break the silence, and to bring himself out of his thoughts. There’s a guard standing outside Kristoph’s cell and he lets them in, saying nothing as they lift Kristoph’s unconscious body between the two of them.

“Off we go, then,” Eames says, and Arthur leads the way back to the investigation room.

Cobb has the PASIV ready and Edgeworth is frowning in that way Arthur as seen in many people, pretending they aren’t terrified. Klavier looks even worse.

“The timer is set for two hours,” Arthur says to Edgeworth as he puts Kristoph down in a waiting chair and unbuttons his cuff, rolling it back to expose his wrist. “We’ll give ourselves the kick if we’re done before then. If Gavin wakes himself up, you have a gun to defend yourself. He won’t pose a threat, but if you feel the need for backup, wake one of us by tipping our chairs over. I’d suggest Eames.”

Phoenix raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t ask so Arthur ignores him. He doesn’t look at Eames when he takes one of the IV lines Cobb is holding out for them.

“Ready?” Cobb asks Edgeworth.

“Are you?” Edgeworth replies, and his gaze is locked with Phoenix’s as his fingers hover over the button. “Good luck.”

“Is there a reason you volunteered me as the backup?” Eames asks, when they’re standing at the front gate of the Gavin mansion. Kristoph is inside somewhere. Arthur leads the way up the gravel path.

“If I woke up, the dream would collapse,” explains Arthur. “So if I can’t provide armed backup, you’re the next best thing.”

“I’m touched.”

“You know, I’m a trained detective,” Daryan speaks up. “Firearms training and stuff.”

“You dislocated your shoulder firing a weapon I could handle when I was four years younger than you,” Arthur replies, not looking back. “And besides, I’d rather pick someone I—”

His throat closes around the word trust, and he blinks. His chest shouldn’t hurt that much. It shouldn’t hurt at all.

“Something’s off, Arthur,” Cobb speaks up, thankfully knowing when the subject needs changing. “The colours here? Everything’s a little too bright. Too saturated.”

Arthur stops walking, realising Cobb is right. “He can’t have taken control of the dream that quickly. Eames, get in character.”

“I don’t have a mirror, so I’ll need you to tell me how this is,” Eames says, and his outline flickers for a moment, his solid build replaced by a much shorter, slimmer figure. “How’s this?”

“Apollo Justice,” Daryan growls. “You’re convincing enough for me to want to punch you out.”

Daryan,” Klavier says reproachfully. “That’s not fair. He’s not the one who made you—”

“Yeah,” Daryan sighs, rubbing the back of his neck. “Right. Sorry.”

Klavier pats Daryan on the shoulder, and that seems to be enough. Arthur glances at Eames and nods once in approval of his forge.

“He’ll either be in the lounge or in his study,” Klavier says.

“We’ll find him.” Arthur replies. He and Cobb are both dressed in the uniform of the household staff. “You stay here until I give you the signal. Especially you, Wright. If he notices you, his defences are going to go up immediately.”

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” Phoenix grimaces. The only reason he’s here is to see whatever truths Kristoph’s mind holds for himself. The only reason Cobb and Arthur have allowed it is because it’s the only way they’ll get paid.

“Careful, Arthur,” Eames speaks up suddenly, as Arthur and Cobb turn to the main door. It’s said in Apollo’s voice, but the urgency, the sincerity, is all Eames.

Arthur looks over his shoulder, his brow creased, and nods without a word.

“The architecture isn’t how we planned it,” Cobb says in an undertone as they walk to the house. “The lines are too straight, everything’s just a little too—”

“Perfect,” Arthur finishes grimly. “I noticed. He might not have complete control of the dream just yet, but he’s influencing it. It’s just a matter of whether he’s doing it intentionally. Only one way to find out.”

They push the door of the mansion open, and freeze when they come face to face with Kristoph.

“Hello,” Kristoph greets pleasantly. “I was told to expect company.”

Arthur tenses and Cobb frowns. “By who?”

“Why don’t we invite everyone else in,” Kristoph smiles, “I’ll explain for everyone’s benefit. Klavier! Do something useful for once in your life and invite everyone in, why don’t you?”

Klavier jumps and Daryan visibly tenses, reaching for his gun before Klavier stops him with a hand on his wrist. Phoenix walks closer and Eames, still as Apollo, brings up the rear.

“My, what a party,” Kristoph chuckles. “Daryan Crescend. I was so curious to hear that your sentence had suddenly been cut short with no explanation. You may think I’m locked away in my little cell, but I still have eyes and ears everywhere. Imagine my surprise when I hear that there is a plan to extract my thoughts! Assisted by my little brother, no less. Have you not hurt me enough, Klavier?”

“Kristoph,” Klavier says warningly, but it’s no good: his voice is already trembling. Daryan places a hand on his shoulder, and Kristoph laughs.

“So you ran back to my brother like the dog you are, Crescend? Tell me, how does he cope with the fact that he loves a murderer? Or has that love been killed?”

Arthur and Cobb frown at each other, unsure of what to do. This is so far out of their control that none of Arthur’s plans apply. Arthur reaches for the gun concealed beneath his jacket, ready to lift it to his temple and abort the entire thing, when a sweet voice cuts through the chaos.

“Oh Kristoph, Kristoph. My sweet little Kris.” A young blonde woman walks toward Kristoph, arms outstretched. Arthur recognises her, at the same time he realises that he cannot see Eames or Apollo.

Kristoph stiffens, but doesn’t look convinced. Arthur waits; he knows that Eames is good at his job, but he wants to see if he’s good enough to pull this off.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Eames wraps his arms around Kristoph, pulling him into a motherly hug. “My darling, you are dreaming.”

“I know, Mama—” Kristoph begins, but Eames hushes him.

“You’re asleep in your chair, Kristoph. You are allowing your paranoia to get the best of you.” It’s so small that Arthur nearly misses it, but he sees the brief hand signal Eames sends his way. It’s something from the time when they’d worked as a team, telling him very simply: play along.

“Mama,” Kristoph says warmly, and moves without warning. His hand is around Eames’ throat in an instant, pressing down.

Mama!” Klavier cries, too caught up to remember that it is just a disguise. “Kristoph, please!”

“Master Kristoph,” Arthur speaks up, forcing his voice to remain calm, his hands remaining at his sides. “You’re distressing your mother, sir. You’ll hurt her—”

“Everything is fine, Kristoph,” Eames chokes out. “C-Come, now. I’ll sing your favourite song to you—”

Eames hums some notes, and Kristoph’s hands ease their grip. Klavier’s eyes are wet and Kristoph takes a step backward, his surprise written clearly on his face.

“This is just a dream,” Eames says, taking another step forward, tilting his head up to kiss Kristoph’s forehead. “Just a dream, my darling. Calm down.”

“Just a dream,” Kristoph repeats. He looks up at the entrance again, but Arthur has already ushered the others out of sight. Only he remains, a cloth in his hands as he polishes a statue by the door. He doesn’t look at Kristoph or Eames, but every part of him is ready to attack at the smallest provocation.

“I’m sorry for your throat,” Kristoph says, and now he sounds like a vulnerable boy. His head is bowed and Eames chuckles, patting his cheek.

“It’s nothing, Kristoph. I’ll drink something for it. You sit down.” Eames glances at Arthur and with a reserved smile, says, “To the kitchen. I’d like something warm.”

“Ma’am,” Arthur intones, following obediently. The kitchen is at the other end of the house and the moment they reach it, Arthur takes Eames’ wrist, pulling him closer with a concerned frown.

“Did he hurt you?” Arthur lifts his fingers to Eames’ neck and the forge drops so that he touches light stubble instead of smooth skin. “Jesus, Eames—”

Eames silences him with a kiss, pressing their lips together briefly but firmly. Arthur melts into it for a moment before jerking his head away, frowning, and Eames sighs quietly.

“It’s not that easy, Eames,” Arthur says, shaking his head. “And Jesus fucking Christ, couldn’t it wait until we weren’t in the middle of a job?”

“No,” Eames mutters, quiet enough that it’s not actually meant for Arthur to hear. “So what now, Mr. Point Man?”

“Cobb should be looking for a safe in Gavin’s study. Crescend should be covering him, and Klavier should be keeping an eye out for anything unusual.”

“Everything’s unusual here,” Eames indicates the room around them, eerily neat and symmetrical. Everything looks far too perfect, to the point that it starts to look wrong. Glancing around uncomfortably, Eames adds, “Perhaps we should join the others in the study. The sooner we get out of here, the better.”

Arthur nods in agreement, and leads the way. There aren’t any projections—no butlers or maids milling about the mansion—and their absence sets Arthur on edge. He has his gun out and Eames covers him as they walk through the mansion and up the stairs.

“So much for having a plan,” Eames muses. “Pity we couldn’t use the dog. Such a sweet little thing.”

“Eames, please,” Arthur sighs. “Shut up.”

“You really need to dislodge that stick up your arse,” Eames mutters, patting Arthur on the shoulder.

Don’t,” Arthur hisses, grabbing Eames’ hand and twisting. “Just don’t.”

“Of course.” Eames smiles mirthlessly, yanking free of Arthur’s grip, trying not to dwell on the feeling of their hands against each other.

The rest of the walk to the study is silent. Arthur purposefully walks two steps further head of Eames, and Eames lets him—until Arthur reaches the open door of the study. The expression on Arthur’s face is surprised for a brief moment before going blank, and that’s enough to make Eames catch up as quickly as he can.

“That was a very nice trick,” Kristoph says, sitting at his desk. Klavier, Daryan, Phoenix and Cobb are all standing in the corner of the room, but Kristoph doesn’t seem to have harmed any of them. Motioning to the door, he smiles. “Come in, both of you. I’d like to speak with you all. Surely, you didn’t enter my mind without knowing that I’m familiar with shared dreaming. The trick your shape-shifting friend there played on me was quite convincing, I must say. It took me a while to realise that you weren’t all projections of my own imagination.”

Turning to Klavier and Phoenix, his smile grows predatory. “You’re after my secrets, hm? Well, never let it be said that I am not a gracious host. I’ll show you exactly what you’re here for. I hope it breaks you.”

Standing, Kristoph walks to the door of his study. The corridor behind them has become bare; a long stretch of concrete floor with countless doors, hanging open, their wood decaying. He addresses the others without looking back at them, walking to the first door. “Now, you are in my mind.”

Arthur waits for Phoenix and Klavier to move first before falling into step with them. Cobb follows reluctantly, but Eames stays beside Arthur, his gun gripped tightly.

“This is…” Cobb begins, looking at the doors. He doesn’t say any more, but Arthur knows. Cobb had, at the insistence of Ariadne, told Arthur all about the memories he’d kept of Mal, storing her inside his mind. He’d learned to let that go, but Arthur still hasn’t entirely forgiven him for it.

For Cobb to make the parallel, Arthur realises that whatever these memories hold, it’s the very core of what Kristoph is.

“Is this not the easiest extraction you’ve ever had to do?” Kristoph asks cheerfully. “I’m doing all the work for you. Now that you’ve caught up, let’s start at this one.”

He pushes the first door open a little wider and steps through. The others have little choice but to follow.

They step into a well-lit, richly decorated room that Arthur immediately recognises as the sitting room of this very mansion, with the exception that it looks like it’s actually lived in. There is a woman sitting on the couch and for a moment, Arthur thinks Eames, but this is a memory of Kristoph’s mother. She is heavily pregnant and Klavier takes a step forward, barely aware of his surroundings. “Mama…”

“You’re going to have a little brother, Kristoph. You must be a good brother. Treat him well. Little brothers are precious, ja?”

There is a young boy kneeling at her feet and his excited voice overlaps with Kristoph saying the words, as if they’re ingrained in his mind: “Yes, Mama. Little brothers are precious.”

“What does that mean?” Klavier asks, as the room begins the fade, losing colour and detail until it is empty and featureless. “Are you saying that I started it?”

“I’m merely showing you my memories,” Kristoph smiles, and it looks just as terrifying on his face as a snarl. “I’ll leave you to interpret them. I can’t make it too easy now, can I?”

Kristoph continues walking to the next door, and Klavier follows. The rest are just a step behind.

“You’re in this one, too,” Kristoph says, the sitting room looking slightly different, this time. There are toys strewn all over the floor and a younger Kristoph sits on the couch with a large book and a serious expression. Beside him sits—

“Holy shit, that’s you,” Daryan murmurs. He is right; the Klavier in this memory is three and is looking at his brother with clear adoration. It doesn’t matter that Kristoph ignores him, Klavier sits there and watches, waiting patiently for his brother’s attention.

“You were always like this,” Kristoph says, from his corner of the room. “You would look up to me. Adore me. You’d do anything I’d say, Klavier, what changed?”

“I grew up,” Klavier says with a grim smile. “And I thought that you were going to leave the interpretation up to me.”

“I just wanted to remind you of how things were. How things could have been, if not for your poor taste in friends.”

“You talking about me?” Daryan cracks his knuckles threateningly, taking a step forward.

“Making friends with Daryan is the best thing I’ve ever done,” Klavier snaps. “Daryan is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m who I am because—”

“So you’re admitting,” Kristoph cuts in, “That this one person—the best thing you’ve ever had is someone who turned around, betrayed you and became a murderer?”

The colour drains from Daryan’s face. Arthur and Eames glance warily at each other, but Klavier laughs. There is a bitter edge to it, but he does sound amused.

“Your mind games aren’t going to work on me forever, Kristoph. I’ve talked things out with Daryan, and you aren’t going to make me turn on him just by reminding me there’s blood on his hands. Maybe things aren’t perfect but I think you should remember how much blood there is on your hands, first.”

“Do you know?” Kristoph asks suddenly. The room stills, which immediately sets Arthur on edge, but then it begins to fade away, just like the previous memory. Kristoph is looking at Klavier with a serious expression. “Do you have any idea how much blood there is on my hands? Do you want to, Klavier? Is that why you’re here? Wright?”

Phoenix visibly tenses, but Kristoph turns away, leaving the room without giving him a chance to reply.

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Eames speaks up. Everyone turns to him and he shrugs, though he looks at Arthur when he continues, “The memories we’ve seen so far are tame enough, but we all know how this story ends. He’s far too lucid for us to trick and forgive me for looking a gift-horse in the mouth, but I’m certain that there’s something unpleasant waiting among all these memories.”

“It’s not my call,” Arthur says, looking at Phoenix, at Klavier.

“I need to know,” is all Phoenix can say, and Klavier nods in mute agreement.

Eames sighs, but says nothing as the two of them lead the way to the next room.

“I think you’re right,” Arthur says, lingering beside Eames. “I don’t like this. Nothing’s under our control, no matter how well we planned. If this were any other job, we’d kick ourselves out, call it a failure and run for it. Like you said before, Gavin can’t even come after us and we don’t have to worry about Limbo. We’re just stuck here anyway, because of Wright and Klavier. I really don’t like this, Eames.”

“They deserve the truth,” Eames shrugs, resigned. “They’ve both been through enough that it would be unfair for them to come this close only to fail.”

Arthur nods, and waits for Eames to follow before going to the next room.

“You’re late,” Kristoph greets, as they walk in on a scene with younger versions of Klavier and Daryan playing the guitar. It’s clear that Klavier has never played before and his laughter fills the room when he messes up a chord.

“This is great. I’ve only ever played the piano before. Get it, klavier, like my name?”

“Funny,” Daryan grins. “You gonna show me, then?”

The younger Klavier takes Daryan by the wrist and leads him off. Arthur glances at the real versions, not entirely surprised to find their fingers are interlaced. His attention snaps back to the memory when a younger Kristoph walks into sigh, with his mother. If Klavier and Daryan were in their early teens, Kristoph would have been in his early twenties. If not for the pale skin and sharp suit, he would look exactly like Klavier.

“Mama, why is that boy here? What is he doing, teaching Klavier how to play guitar? Send him home, he doesn’t belong here.”

“No, Kristoph,” she says gently. “You’ve always been possessive of Klavier, but it’s time he made his own friends, without you scaring them away. It was bad enough when his sixth grade class was too afraid to even look at him.”

“That was your doing?” Klavier asks, rounding on Kristoph with his hands balled into fists.

“I tried it with Daryan, too,” Kristoph smiles. “First with money, then with threats.”


“Didn’t work though, did it? You fuck,” Daryan snarls.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t.” Kristoph gives Klavier an earnest look. “I could have protected you from him. I always knew he was bad for you. That he’d end up hurting you.”

You can’t talk!” both Klavier and Daryan yell in unison and look at each other, squeezing each other’s hands.

All signs of amusement disappear from Kristoph’s face. “Don’t you see, Klavier? Our own mother told me to treat you as something precious to me—and then proceeded to tell me off each and every time I did. Then you would treat me as though I was the greatest person in all existence, only to forget about me the moment you had your own friends. What was I to do?”

Klavier looks back at the memory playing itself out in front of them; Kristoph is arguing with their mother, his face a mask of cold fury, and looks away, shaking his head as it begins to fade.

“Moving along,” Kristoph barks, all the humour gone from his voice. Phoenix looks wary, but Klavier balls his free hand into a fist, gripping Daryan’s hand tighter with the other, and follows his brother.

“Arthur?” Cobb looks just as far out of his depth as Arthur feels.

“They’re getting their answers. We’re here to keep an eye on them.”

“You’re the dreamer, can’t you control these… memory rooms?”

Arthur shakes his head. “That’s like asking me to control your projection of Mal, just because it’s my dream.”

Cobb grimaces. “Right.”

Kristoph is waiting for everyone outside the door. Cobb wordlessly goes to stand between Phoenix and Klavier, and Arthur notices with an unpleasant jolt that the grin is back on Kristoph’s face.

“I promise this will be fun.” Kristoph pushes the door open all the way and walks inside.

They’re in Kristoph’s study again. He doesn’t look much older than in the previous memory, and he’s sitting at his desk with a glass of wine. There’s a toolbox sitting in front of him, along with a small pile of textbooks on the same subject; the mechanics of cars.

Klavier looks around with a frown, but Daryan’s eyes widen with shock, already grabbing for his gun with one hand.

The Kristoph in the memory turned the wall-mounted television on, and settles back with a small smile as the voice of a news reporter comes from the speakers:

“Reports say that Peter and Caroline Gavin have been killed in a tragic, three-car accident earlier tonight. Police are treating their deaths as suspicious, as initial investigations have indicated that the brakes of their Mercedes have been tampered with—”

No!” Klavier cries. His eyes are wide and already welling up with tears. “No. Tell me this isn’t true. You didn’t…”

“Are you asking me to lie to you brother? I thought you were better than that—”

How could you?”

“For you, Klavier. So you would need me. And it worked, didn’t it? This was just the beginning.”

“No,” Klavier moans brokenly, covering his ears with his hands. “No more.”

Before Kristoph can say any more, a gunshot rings out, followed by a body falling to the floor. All eyes in the room turn to Daryan, who holds his gun in a white-knuckled grip.

Kristoph smiles. “I’m surprised, Crescend. Does it get easier to shoot someone when you’ve already done it once?”

Daryan spits in Kristoph’s direction. “Shut the fuck up. He doesn’t need this. He doesn’t fucking deserve this.”

“And yet he somehow deserves you?” Kristoph raises an eyebrow. “That doesn’t sound right.”

“The only reason I’m not emptying my gun into your head right now is because you’re still useful to the others. But I’ve had enough of this.”

Daryan lifts his gun to his own head and looks at Arthur, waiting for the small nod of approval before he pulls the trigger again.

Phoenix turns away, covering his mouth with a hand. Eames pats his shoulder. “Relax, mate. They just woke up.”

“Well, then.” Kristoph looks unperturbed as the room fades around them. “Shall we continue?”

Phoenix hesitates, turning to Eames before he follows.

“Daryan will be taking care of Klavier,” Eames explains quietly. “Edgeworth might be a little concerned, but I’m sure Daryan will explain what’s going on.”

Arthur remains silent, and follows Phoenix. There’s nothing else to do.

Eames’ earlier prediction proves to be correct. The memories now are far darker; they see Kristoph mastering his ability to manipulate those around him, keeping Klavier on as short a leash as he can manage while controlling others with subtle mind games, with his charm. There’s a memory of Kristoph intimidating his way up through the law firm he works at, threats veiled by compliments, convincing others to do work he doesn’t want to. There are memories of his techniques to collect evidence; using blackmail and coercion to get his information, culminating in one terrifying memory of a witness bound with a gag hanging around their neck, strapped down to a chair and covered in cuts made by a bloody scalpel held loosely in Kristoph’s hand.

“I remember this case,” Phoenix says weakly. “The key witness was found dead after being tortured and… ugh. And you. Gavin, you were defending the killer.”

“I don’t like losing cases,” Kristoph smirks. “Once I knew the witness’ testimony would spell a guilty verdict for my client… well, I couldn’t let him testify now, could I?”

Phoenix shudders, looking like he’s about to throw up. Arthur, Eames and Cobb are all so distracted by their concern for Phoenix that Kristoph takes them by surprise when he grabs Arthur, arms pinned back, a small knife held to his throat.

Arthur,” Eames yells, but Kristoph is pulling Arthur through a hidden door already, disappearing from sight.

“I’m told that you’re a fan of paradoxes,” Kristoph laughs, stepping out into what Arthur immediately identifies as Klavier’s old music room. It’s mostly empty of instruments now, but the soundproofing remains.

“I’m sure you realise there’s no point in screaming,” Kristoph says pleasantly. “But I look forward to hearing it anyway. I understand that if I weren’t suppressing them at the moment, my projections would be tearing you limb from limb, because I’m aware it’s your dream I am in. Luckily for you, the memory I just showed you has reminded me that I am only too willing to rip you apart in their place. It’s all me in the end anyway, is it not?”

When Eames realises that the hidden door Kristoph has taken Arthur through has resealed itself, he sees red.

“Eames!” Cobb calls after him as he leaves the room. “Eames, wait!”

“We’re trapped here” Eames realises, looking at the rotting doors that sway and creak in a non-existent breeze, stretching out on either side of them. He grabs Cobb by the collar and yanks him closer. “You were an architect. Fix this. Put it back to how it was.”

“Eames, we don’t even know where he’s taken Arthur. They might be awake right now.”

“If Arthur was, he’d wake me,” Eames growls. “Now change it back.”

In a quick moment, they’re standing outside Kristoph’s study once again and all the doors are gone. Eames dreams up a gun for each hand and turns to Cobb and Phoenix, who both look stunned.

“If you’ve had enough, get out of here. But do not wake Kristoph until I’ve found him.”

Phoenix looks as though he’d very much like to leave, but Cobb shakes his head. “I’m not leaving you down here by yourself.”

“Suit yourself.”

Eames frowns in concentration, relaxing when he hears a dog coming around the corner.

“Vongole,” he says, and she turns to him immediately, tail wagging. “I’ve no idea if this is going to work, but—find him.”

Vongole wags her tail again and for a moment, it seems like she hasn’t understood. Then, she sets off at a brisk trot and Eames follows behind her, down the main staircase and through the house, past the sitting room and the kitchen, around to a room at the very end of the house. Its door is shut and Eames can hear nothing on the other side. He frowns, looking at the dog. “You’re sure.”

Vongole whimpers and that’s good enough for Eames to at least have a try. He shoots at the door knob, pushing at the door and then pushing harder when he realises how heavy it is. “A little help?”

Cobb and Phoenix both hurry to help. The sound of something scraping against the floor tells them that there’s something heavy in the way, and that they have the right room.

“Arthur!” Eames yells, once the door is open wide enough for him to slip through, stumbling past the stack of amplifiers blocking the way.

Arthur is leaning against the wall, hand pressed to a knife wound in his side and his nose bleeding. Kristoph is in a much worse state; his entire face is bruised and bloody. He has a hand against the wall, struggling to stay upright and Eames has his gun in his hand before he even realises. He fires two shots, one for each kneecap, and Kristoph goes down screaming.

“I’ve seen enough,” Phoenix’s voice trembles, and so does the hand reaching for the gun Eames had discarded on the floor.

“Cobb,” Eames says, and Cobb responds immediately, shooting Phoenix through the forehead before waking himself up as well.

“Shoot him,” Arthur murmurs, looking at Kristoph.

Eames shakes his head. “Let him suffer. Fuck, Arthur, I was so afraid.”

“You forgot who he was dealing with.” Arthur grins, and his teeth are red. “So did he. Idiot. Why didn’t you just wake me up?”

“I wasn’t going to leave you,” Eames replies. “I’m not making that mistake ever again, if you let me.”

Arthur’s gaze snaps to Eames’ face. “Are you talking about—”

“Yes, Arthur.” Eames looks away before forcing himself to meet Arthur’s eyes. “I left you at the worst possible time and you have every right to hate me for it.”

“Well, I did,” Arthur says, and when Eames flinches, he repeats, “did.”

“During the Fischer job,” Eames says carefully, “I swear, it was almost like I had you again and then when you left… Christ, I deserved that.”

“Yeah, well,” Arthur braces one arm against the wall so he can stand a little straighter, a little closer to Eames. “I’m not going anywhere, now.”

“Is that so?” Eames asks with a small grin. Kristoph is still making pained sounds in the background, but Eames filters it out, filters everything out except for the way Arthur slowly leans into him, pressing his lips to Eames’. It’s just the chaste brush of Arthur’s lips against his, but then Arthur kisses him firmly, winding his fingers into Eames’ hair. Arthur’s mouth tastes of blood, but Eames doesn’t care, pressing himself closer.

Arthur breaks the kiss with a small, pained sound and Eames pulls away, apologising, his eyes on Arthur’s bleeding wound.

“I think it’s time we get out of here,” Arthur murmurs, a gun already in his hand. “Ready?”

Eames nods, and the last thing he hears before he wakes are the words, “I love you.”

Edgeworth has an academic paper to work on, but doesn’t even have the chance to make a start on it. Barely fives minutes have passed before Klavier wakes, gasping, his fingers scrabbling for something to hold onto.

“Klavier…?” Edgeworth’s concerned voice is drowned up by Daryan, waking up just a moment later.

Klavier. Klavier, Klavier, look at me, man.” Daryan pulls the needle from his wrist and once he can get Klavier to stay still for long enough, does the same for him.

“What happened?” Edgeworth asks, already afraid for Phoenix.

“Lost control of the dream,” Daryan replies, not looking away from Klavier. “Someone tipped him off or something. He knew what we were there for and he—”

“He killed them, Daryan,” Klavier’s voice trembles and there are tears streaming down his cheeks. “He killed his own parents.”

Edgeworth stiffens at the words. “What…?”

“He was showing us memories. All the things he’d done.” Daryan frowns, squeezing his eyes shut and taking Klavier’s hand. “Look, maybe someone else can explain. Right now, Klavier…”

“Yes,” Edgeworth clears his throat. “Yes, of course.”

He looks away when Daryan wraps his arms around Klavier, turning to Phoenix’s sleeping form.

“He was doing okay when we left,” Daryan says quietly, and Edgeworth nods in appreciation.

It doesn’t take much longer before Phoenix wakes too, his blue eyes wide and terrified.

“Phoenix,” Edgeworth places a hand on his shoulder, calming him down. He’s vaguely aware of Cobb sitting up, of Klavier still sobbing brokenly, but his attention is focused on Phoenix, who looks like he’s just woken from the worst nightmare of his life. “I’m right here.”

“Miles.” Phoenix sits up, letting Edgeworth unhook him from the PASIV before leaning into his arms, clinging to him.

“Arthur? Eames?” Edgeworth asks, looking at Cobb.

“Just give them a while.” Cobb doesn’t look concerned as he begins winding the IV lines back into the PASIV case, so Edgeworth decides he doesn’t need to worry.

Soon, Arthur and Eames wake, silently getting to their feet and straight to work.

“We’ll need to debrief everyone,” Arthur says, as Eames speaks with the guards, arranging for them to move Kristoph back to his cell before he wakes.

“Right you are, Arthur. Perhaps we should get back to Wright’s office for that?” Eames crosses the room and helps Arthur pack everything away, their fingers brushing far more than necessary. “We’d better do that quickly, too. I have the feeling that both Klavier and Wright got more than they bargained for.”

The change in location helps. Daryan is less antsy now that he’s away from the prison, the familiarity of his offices causes Phoenix to relax and everyone finds comfort in the fact that they’re away from the cold, featureless interview room.

Cobb has tried his best to explain things to Edgeworth on the way, but nothing truly prepares him for the horror he feels when Arthur describes the endless doors of memories and what they’d seen.

Klavier looks shattered, but Daryan does his best to hold him together, calming him down as Arthur recounts the memories in sequence. Phoenix looks worn by the time Arthur reaches the memory of Kristoph killing his parents, and only looks worse from there.

“He kidnapped me,” Arthur says matter-of-factly. “He made an attempt to torture me, but… well, I’m the better fighter.”

“Damn right,” Eames murmurs fondly, which brings a hint of a smile to Arthur’s lips. He picks up the explanation, “And so we found them in Klavier’s old music room. Arthur had already done a number of Gavin, so I made sure he wouldn’t get up again.”

“And somewhere along the way, I realised I couldn’t handle it,” Phoenix adds quietly. He leans against Edgeworth and grimaces. “You were right all along. You told me I wouldn’t like what I’d find in there…”

“Well, that doesn’t make it any less necessary,” Edgeworth replies gently. “You did what you had to. Just remember that.”

Phoenix nods, relaxing when he feels Edgeworth’s arm wrap around his shoulders. “I’ve had a taste of the truths locked away in Kristoph’s head and that’s enough for me. I don’t need to uncover every single truth I come across. I think the best way to deal with Kristoph Gavin is to stay the hell away from him.”

“Thank God.” Edgeworth is so relieved that he kisses Phoenix full on the lips, right there. “I think that’s best. Thank you.”

Phoenix gives him a mirthless smile. “I don’t think Klavier is going to be thanking me any time soon, though. There are some things you just never need to know.”

“I’m not sure about that,” Edgeworth murmurs, tilting his head as he looks across the room at Klavier, who has his head resting on Daryan’s shoulder, their arms around each other. “I watched the State vs. Misham recording several times, Phoenix, and I noticed that as upset as Klavier was by the accusations made against his brother, he never once seemed surprised by them. Perhaps it’s hope, perhaps it’s flat out denial that kept them at the back of his mind, but regardless, I think that Klavier has always known, on some level.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that I’m the reason he knows it for a fact now.” Phoenix sighs tiredly. “I don’t think I’d forgive me, if I were in his shoes.”

“Phoenix, you hunt for the truth. That’s who you are, and it’s what you do. Without you, I wouldn’t ever have found out who killed me father. Do you think I hate you for that? Do you think that Maya resents you for finding out that Godot killed her mother?”

“Those situations were entirely different—”

“Phoenix, please.” Edgeworth kisses him again. “Just shut up and accept that you’ve done something good, regardless of how much it may hurt Klavier now. Besides, look around you. Before this job, Klavier wouldn’t even think about being in the same room as Daryan. And I remember you telling me how badly Arthur reacted to seeing Eames here. If not for this job, I doubt any of that would have changed.”

Phoenix looks; Arthur and Eames are sitting beside each other and perhaps they’re not the type for public displays of affection, or perhaps they’re holding back for Cobb’s sake, but Eames still has a possessive hand on Arthur’s hip, and Arthur has his fingers curled loosely around Eames’ wrist as they speak quietly.

“Sometimes, you need to be happy with the small victories. You may not feel like you’ve won, but in the end, you’ve still achieved something important. I learned that from being in court with you.”

This brings a big, genuine smile to Phoenix’s face and he pulls Edgeworth closer, into a kiss. “You’re right, Miles. Thank you.”


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February 2012


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