ext_49394 ([identity profile] kiyala.livejournal.com) wrote in [community profile] shannys_corner2011-06-26 11:19 am

[fic] Unbreakable (1/2)

Title: Unbreakable
Author: [livejournal.com profile] kiyala
Word Count: c.18,000
Fandom: Inception/Ace Attorney (crossover)
Pairings: Miles Edgeworth/Phoenix Wright, Daryan Crescend/Klavier Gavin, Arthur/Eames
Rating: PG-13
Warning: this fic contains spoilers for Apollo Justice (and one spoiler for Trials & Tribulations)
Notes: Seriously overdue fic from [livejournal.com profile] help_nz for [livejournal.com profile] cosmiko_ling, because it just kept going and going xD Hope it was worth the wait ♥
Also, thank you to [livejournal.com profile] hidden_gems for the beta ♥
Summary: Despite Kristoph Gavin being locked away for his crimes, Phoenix Wright cannot rest until he unlocks the secrets he'd come across during his investigations. He hires Dom Cobb and his team of extractors to get the truth that his magatama can't.

It’s been three weeks since the trial of Kristoph Gavin. Perhaps State v. Misham had been the first trial under the Jurist system, but State v. Gavin is the one that gains the attention. It had, predictably, ended in Kristoph being found guilty and perhaps the papers and news readers are all calling it a great victory for the legal system, but the true victor is somebody else; somebody far more specific.

Phoenix Wright, for somebody who has won perhaps the longest, most difficult battle of his life, does not feel particularly victorious. He had, on the day of Kristoph’s trial, but it had faded quickly, leading to this instead. Ennui; a fog settling around him, not even lifting after the return of his attorney’s badge. It sits there, a dead weight on the lapel of his old blue suit, and business continues as usual. Trucy goes to school, Apollo works out of the offices of the Wright Anything Agency—now renamed to the Wright & Co. Law Offices once again—and when Phoenix is not spending time at the office or at home, he passes it playing bad piano and good poker.

Edgeworth isn’t happy. Phoenix has known this since the first day he’d gone back to the Borscht Bowl Club, but Edgeworth is busy in his new position as Professor of Criminal Law at Ivy University, and Phoenix is not ashamed to take advantage of this fact to worm his way out of conversations he isn’t sure he wants to have. Unfortunately, there is one place Phoenix cannot escape Edgeworth, and that is in bed.

“Phoenix,” Edgeworth pins him down to the mattress. He looks much leaner when he’s out of his suit, but there’s enough strength in his arms to keep Phoenix down. “You’re going to talk to me.”

Phoenix sighs, raising an eyebrow at his lover, surrendering wordlessly.

“Tell me what’s wrong.” Edgeworth is kneeling over him, but instead of the usual thrum of desire that runs through him, he feels nothing but weariness. It must show in his expression, because Edgeworth’s grip on his wrists tightens. His tone is sharp, the way it once was in court. “You know that I’ve noticed, so just tell me. I thought you’d be happy once Kristoph Gavin was thrown in prison. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

Phoenix sighs, looking at the ceiling, not meeting Edgeworth’s eyes. “I thought it was.”

“But?” Edgeworth presses, insistent as always.

“I don’t know, Miles.” Phoenix turns onto his side and Edgeworth’s grip on him loosens, letting him go so they’re lying facing each other. “It’s just something I saw when I was investigating.”

“Using Ema’s… hidden camera,” Edgeworth’s mouth twists when he says it, still not comfortable with the way in which Phoenix had gathered his evidence, incriminating as it had been.

“Using my magatama,” Phoenix says, frowning as if he can visualise the unbreakable locks he’d seen. “I saw something I don’t understand. Unanswered questions.”

“You’re talking about those psycholocks.” Edgeworth sits up, his frown matching Phoenix’s.

“You’ve seen what they usually look like,” Phoenix pauses just long enough for Edgeworth to nod before continuing, “The ones I saw on Kristoph were totally different. Black and… sinister.”

“They’re just locks,” Edgeworth snorts softly, but his tone is hesitant and his tentative smile slips away when Phoenix’s expression says that he disagrees.

“They’re secrets, Miles. Every single one of them. There were five, and that was just when I questioned him about murdering Zak. Who knows how many more there are?”

“What does it matter?” Edgeworth’s tone is gentle, and he strokes Phoenix’s hair, fingers scratching lightly against his scalp. “Kristoph Gavin is in prison for murder. You’ve achieved what you’ve set out to do. That’s enough—it was more than enough of a challenge.”

Phoenix closes his eyes, turning his face into Edgeworth’s hand and trying to believe his lover’s words. Without Edgeworth, he would still be floundering, looking for a way to make his evidence matter. Edgeworth, who returned home from Germany, returned to Phoenix and decided to stay, had helped develop the MASON system, had pushed the idea for the Jurist system, and Edgeworth is the reason Phoenix has his attorney’s badge once again. He wants Edgeworth to be right. This should be enough, but he knows it’s not.

“There are so many questions left unanswered, Miles. Don’t tell me you’d be happy to leave them alone if you were in my place.”

Wrapping an arm around Phoenix, Edgeworth sighs quietly. “I’m trying to tell you that some questions are better left unanswered. Gavin is evil, we both know that. Digging deeper isn’t going to reveal anything pleasant. Besides, he’s in maximum security now and even if you wanted information, I doubt he’d give it to you.”

“There is a way,” Phoenix says, thoughtful. He rubs his chin and glances at Edgeworth, “What do you know about dream extraction?”

Edgeworth stiffens immediately. His eyebrows draw together and he’s silent for a long moment before he says, very carefully, “I’ve heard of it. Sometimes, the police force uses it to assist investigations, but it’s highly uncommon. The entire process itself necessitates the subject to be entirely unaware. It’s an invasion of privacy. A violation of ethics—”

“I want to extract Kristoph’s secrets,” Phoenix says simply. “I want to know what he’s got locked away. I want to know everything.”

“Phoenix, if those locks are bothering you so much, perhaps Maya could help.”

“I already talked to her about them,” Phoenix says and Edgeworth tries to ignore the sharp mix of hurt and jealousy that he’d gone to Maya first. Phoenix seems to notice it, because he rubs Edgeworth’s arm as he adds, “She’d never heard of them before. Miles, if the Master of Kurain hasn’t heard of these black locks…”

“All the more reason to leave them alone, because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,” Edgeworth interrupts. “Please, Phoenix. I have a bad feeling about this, is there any way I can talk you out of it?”

“There isn’t,” Phoenix kisses Edgeworth’s shoulder in apology and grins. “Trust me. I know how much it costs to hire an extractor. I wouldn’t be spending my life’s savings unless I was sure.”

“I’m not letting you do that,” Edgeworth says sharply. His eyebrows are drawn together and his tone leaves no room for argument. He continues before Phoenix can protest, “If you’re doing this, you’re doing it properly. You’re hiring the best and from what I’ve heard, they charge far more than you can afford. I’m hiring them, if you promise that after this, we’ll just put everything behind us. You’ve got your badge back, and we’ll move on, so that Kristoph Gavin is nothing more than a faded memory.”

Phoenix stares at Edgeworth silently for a long moment before finally saying, “Can I promise that?”

“You could, for me. Lie if you need to, Phoenix, I just want you back.”

Phoenix snorts quietly and turns onto his side, pressing a kiss to Edgeworth’s forehead. “I haven’t gone anywhere.”

Edgeworth simply gives him a sad smile. “Promise me.”

The amusement slips from Phoenix’s expression and when he presses his lips to his lover’s, it’s a reassurance and apology at once. “I promise. I’ll get my answers, and then I’ll let this all go.”

Edgeworth smiles, struggling to remember not to celebrate too soon. “Thank you, Phoenix.”

Arthur is cleaning up the apartment he never lives in when his phone starts ringing, the sound of his this-is-urgent ring tone bouncing off the walls and making him drop his broom in alarm. He scrambles for his phone, but he gets as far as his bedroom when he realises that there’s only one person set to that ring tone. He’s forgotten to change Cobb’s tone back to normal, and Cobb knows better than to call his mobile if there’s an emergency.

For the first time in two years, Arthur lets Cobb’s call ring twice before leisurely answering. “Hey Dom.”

“Promise you won’t yell at me,” Cobb says. As far as opening lines go, Arthur doesn’t find it terribly promising.

“I know better than that. What have you done?”

Cobb laughs on the other end and it makes Arthur relax a little. Nobody would sound so genuinely amused in the face of certain doom. “It’s nothing. Just a job offer—”

Dom, do you know what retirement means—”

“—a legal one,” Cobb finishes. “More or less.”

“More or less,” Arthur repeats, sceptical.

“We’ll be working with people in the justice system. Actually, our client used to be the most famous prosecutor in all of the States—”

“Dom, I don’t care if your client is Damon fucking Gant. I haven’t agreed yet.”

“But you will, Arthur.” Now, Cobb’s voice takes that excited tone he uses whenever he comes across the challenge of the unknown. “I haven’t told you who the mark is. Have you heard of Kristoph Gavin?”

“Of course I have. He’s the one they—” Arthur stops abruptly and sighs explosively. “Fuck. You’re right. I’m in.”

“I’ve heard he’s insane. He was in solitary confinement already, but now he’s been shut away in maximum security because they just don’t know what to do with him.”

“We’re extracting from a psychopath,” Arthur says, as if saying it aloud will help him better understand this fact. “You realise just how dangerous this is, don’t you?”

“Why else do you think I called you? You’re the most loyal friend I have, Arthur, but you wouldn’t have followed me around the world if you were happy sitting back and being safe.”

Arthur barks out a laugh. “You’re right about that.”

“We’re being hired by Miles Edgeworth. We’re meeting at the Wright & Co. law office in a week. I’ll send you the details, and you let me know if you find anything interesting about our client.”

“I’m on it,” Arthur replies, and despite all the downtime since the inception job, despite the fact that he thought this was supposed to be his time to relax, it’s the prospect of a new job, of having work to do, that makes him feel a wave of calm settle over him.

The rest of the conversation is just catching each other up on their lives, about what Phillipa and James are doing, and work isn’t mentioned again. Arthur doesn’t even think twice about this; if Cobb has anything to mention, he would have done it already. He doesn’t offer to gather the rest of the team because Cobb is more than capable of doing this himself when it’s a legal job and they have the luxury of time. They bid goodbye to each other at the end of their conversation and say that they’ll see each other in a week, and for a moment it sounds like Cobb is going to say something.

“You okay?” Arthur picks up on it immediately, frowning with concern even if Cobb can’t see it.

“I’m fine Arthur,” Cobb says and Arthur is good at picking up on the times when Cobb is lying; this is not one of them. “I’ll see you next week, okay?”

Arthur lets it go, pushing it from his mind in favour of concentrating on the work he has to do. Not being pressed for time means he can take his time to be thorough with every piece of information he comes across. It’s easy to find information on Edgeworth; from his infamous days as the Demon Prosecutor to now, a professor of Criminal Law at Ivy University. There are several articles that mention him alongside Phoenix Wright and Arthur does a quick search on the name, unsurprised to find that he is the attorney who owns the offices they’ll be working out of.

He’s more intrigued by the fact that between the two of them, it’s Phoenix who would be more interested to extract from Kristoph Gavin. There are several articles that describe the way Phoenix had exposed Kristoph for who he truly was and finally, a week later, Arthur makes sure to turn up at the office half an hour early just for an opportunity to talk to Phoenix Wright himself.

“Are you Cobb?” Phoenix greets him at the door, shaking his hand firmly.

“I’m his associate. Arthur.”

“The point man,” Phoenix smiles. “I’m told you’re the best.”

“Who told you?” Arthur asks, looking around the cluttered office with a critical eye as he is lead inside.

“A lot of rumours, but mainly Cobb. We’ve been emailing each other about this case—job.”

Arthur raises an eyebrow. “Are you planning on using this evidence in court, Mr. Wright?”

“Phoenix,” comes the absent correction. “No, there’s no point. This is purely for selfish reasons, but it’s still an investigation to me. I’m after the truth.”

“Here I thought it was Mr. Edgeworth we were working for,” Arthur says, though he’s already come up with his own theory of what’s going on.

“Miles is the one with the money,” Phoenix smiles, “and he wants me to leave the subject of Kristoph Gavin well and truly alone.”

“From what I’ve found,” Arthur doesn’t even need to pull up physical records that he’s read to remember this, “you’ve always been a determined man when it came to your cases. Then, when you pursued Gavin, you turned ruthless.”

“Well,” Phoenix’s eyes are shuttered, “I’m sure your research also pulled up what he’s done to me. To my family.”

Arthur sighs quietly. “Mr. Wright, it’s not my job to question why our clients want us to extract information; my only job is to get that information, but Cobb only told me you want to uncover what other truths Kristoph Gavin has locked away. If you go digging into a man’s mind just to see what you can see, you won’t like what you find. I guarantee it.”

“Funny. You’re the third person to warn me about that.”

Arthur raises an eyebrow. “Then maybe we’re onto something.”

“You don’t understand. I need this. It’s like he’s got an impenetrable wall up in his mind and I’m not going to get any closure until I break it down.”

Phoenix runs a hand through his hair and for a moment, looks utterly worn out.

Arthur is saved from having to respond by a knock on the door. Cobb looks unsurprised to find Arthur here early and they greet each other warmly. Phoenix helps them rearrange the furniture to accommodate the rest of the team and Arthur is pleased to find Ariadne making her way into the room.

“Is everyone here?” Ariadne asks, looking at Cobb with a cautious expression that makes Arthur immediately suspicious.

“We don’t need a chemist on-site for this job, so we’re just waiting on—”

“Well isn’t this a lovely reunion?” a voice interrupts; too smooth, too familiar, and Arthur freezes.

“Cobb,” Arthur growls, not once looking at Eames. “A word.”

“What, not even a hello?” Eames is silenced with a glare as Arthur pushes past him, out of the office and onto the street.


“What the fuck,” Arthur snaps, “what the fuck is going on in your head? I don’t— You know— Damn it, Dom, I didn’t sign up for this.”

“This?” Cobb repeats, with the evasive tone he uses whenever he lies. “This is an extraction on Kristoph Gavin. It’s exactly what you signed up for.”

“Not with Eames,” a pleading note creeps into Arthur’s voice and he hates everyone and everything for it. “You have no idea—”

“I know that you’ve got issues to work out,” Cobb interrupts calmly. “And I know you won’t unless someone makes you do it.”

“There’s nothing to work out.” Arthur is stony faced as he turns towards the door to go back inside. “You stay out of this. And keep Ariadne out of it, too.”

“We need Eames,” Cobb says. “We’re extracting from a psychopath. We need the best we can get. I should have told you first, I know, but don’t let your personal issues with him interfere with the job.”

“Would you listen to that.” Arthur laughs bitterly. “Dominick Cobb, telling me to act professional. Like you can talk.”

“Arthur—” Cobb begins, but Arthur ignores him, walking back inside.

The entire atmosphere of the office has changed now and Phoenix raises an eyebrow questioningly, but doesn’t ask. Judging by the fact that he and Ariadne have taken both the seats on either side of Eames, he’s either been told or has figured it out for himself. Arthur doesn’t care either way; he sits down and keeps his eyes on his moleskine.

“Let’s get started then,” Cobb says with forced cheer, once he enters the room again. “I’ll just open with my starting ideas…”

Arthur gets his pen out, ready to make notes, and lifts his head to watch Cobb move to the centre of the room. His gaze falls on Eames for the briefest moment before he looks away, but it’s just long enough to see the pained look in the forger’s eyes.

Arthur sighs silently to himself. He’s already looking forward to the end of this job.

Edgeworth makes his way to the Wright & Co. Law Offices as soon as his consulting hours at university are over. Trucy and Apollo are both in Kurain, staying with Maya because Phoenix doesn’t want to get them involved in this and it’s the only good thing Edgeworth can find with this.

Without Trucy and Apollo, the office is markedly quieter. Edgeworth notices it from outside on the street, but in the place of the lively chatter there’s an air of tension that fills the entire building.

There are strangers in his partner’s office, making themselves at home. The desk and couch in the reception area have been rearranged to allow for a larger workspace and there’s a small girl examining photos spread out over what is usually Apollo’s desk. There’s a man with several days’ worth of stubble lying on the couch and idly flipping through a dossier and while Edgeworth disapproves of how lax he looks, it’s nothing compared to the irritated scowl of the third man in the room, who has his gaze fixed on his laptop as he works but occasionally looks up to glare more intently.

“Miles,” Phoenix saves him from having to awkwardly break the silence and motions him into the office, where a fourth man is standing with a whiteboard. “This is Cobb, the extractor. You’ve already seen his team out there.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Edgeworth manages a smile and a quick shake of Cobb’s hand. “How is everything progressing?”

“We’re going over the best way to bring Kristoph into a dream that we can navigate,” Phoenix turns to the whiteboard and Edgeworth can see some suggestions scrawled out on it. “Cobb says that it’s best to construct a dream that looks like something he’s familiar with. Something related to whatever we’re trying to extract.”

“Have you come to a decision, then?” Edgeworth directs his question at Cobb, because it’s easier than thinking about Phoenix sharing dreams with Kristoph Gavin.

Phoenix smiles in the cautious way that Edgeworth has learned to interpret as trouble. “The best bet is to recreate his family home. He’ll be most at ease there, which means that his subconscious will be easier to work with.”

Edgeworth considers this silently, and there is a knock on the door. One of the men enters the room with a moleskine in his hand and Cobb turns to him.

“Arthur. Did you find anything?”

“There aren’t many people in the police department who have had experience with shared dreaming,” Arthur reports. “Just a few who had to work with special cases. Our best bet is in a prison cell at the moment on smuggling charges. Cobb, do we need to do this? What is one policeman going to do? This one has… connections to the job, too.”

“Depends on who he is,” Phoenix folds his arms across his chest. “I thought it would be a good precaution to take, but I think I know which policeman you’re talking about, and that gives me an idea.”

“Phoenix…” Edgeworth says cautiously.

“Daryan Crescend,” Phoenix says, glancing at Arthur for confirmation before continuing. “Close friend of Klavier Gavin, Kristoph’s younger brother.”

“Surely, you aren’t getting them involved in this, too…” Edgeworth begins, but his tone is resigned.

“The younger brother would be helpful to make the dream more believable,” Cobb says with a small shrug. “If he’s willing to help.”

“That’s a very big if,” Arthur speaks up. “His own brother?”

“I’ll talk to him,” Phoenix says, and he sounds far too confident for Edgeworth’s liking. “He’ll help. I know he will.”

“And on top of that, you’ve got the fact that Klavier Gavin seems to have cut all ties with Daryan Crescend since his sentencing,” Arthur points out.

“Leave everything to me,” Phoenix says, and it makes Edgeworth want to shout no, because he’s afraid of what Phoenix may do. Kristoph Gavin has always brought out the worst in him and Edgeworth is too much of a realist to hope that this time will be any better.

“Fine.” Cobb is in charge here and it’s his decision. “I’ll leave them both to you then, Mr. Wright. We’ll all meet here again tomorrow afternoon to go through our ideas together.”

Arthur nods once in agreement. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Watching Arthur promptly turn on his heel and leave, Edgeworth considers just how strange this all is. With so many people involved, with so much work to do, it would be far too easy for things to get messy.

With a quiet sigh, he simply hopes that Phoenix knows what he’s gotten himself into.

Phoenix goes to visit Klavier the next day. He is staying in his own house, away from the now-empty Gavin manor, and doesn’t look entirely pleased to see Phoenix—or to have company at all.

“I need to talk to you about something,” Phoenix says, once Klavier lets him inside. He’s busying himself by making coffee for both of them and Phoenix lets him stall for as long as he wants. When Klavier finally turns around, he continues, “I wanted to know how you would feel about… investigating your brother a little further.”

Klavier’s laugh is hollow, bitter. “What is there to investigate? He’s a murderer. He’s in prison. End of story.”

“Is it?” Phoenix asks, because he knows it’s not enough for him; certainly, it’s not enough for Klavier either.

“What are you here to talk about?” Klavier asks, frowning. “Is there something else that he’s done?”

“Probably.” Phoenix grimaces at Klavier, “I’m sorry for saying it, but there’s a good chance that there’s a lot he’s done that no one has ever caught him for.”

“So, what?” Klavier sits across from Phoenix, sipping his coffee slowly. “You’re going to try and dig deep enough to find out what he’s done? Then what?”

“It’s not that straight-forward,” Phoenix sighs. “I know with a… high degree of certainty, that he’s still hiding things. Who knows what? I just want to get to the bottom of everything. To understand him and find out what drove him to do everything he’s done.”

“He’s a psychopath,” Klavier says dispassionately. “Isn’t that enough for you? There’s something wrong with him. He’s sick.”

“Maybe. But I want to know everything, Klavier. I just want to give you the opportunity to help me. To finally find your own closure while you’re at it. You can’t just hole yourself up here and pretend you haven’t lost everything. Trust me, things don’t work that way.”

Klavier frowns, but says nothing. Phoenix lets the silence grow, drinking his own coffee. He knows that Klavier will come around in his own time and sure enough, Klavier speaks up again after a long moment.

“So you already have something planned.”

Phoenix nods. “I take it that you’ve heard of shared dreaming?”

“Yes,” is Klavier’s immediate reply. He frowns. “You’re going to try extracting from him?”

“It’s the easiest way I could think of. Your brother is the type of person to guard his secrets carefully no matter what, but I think that it might be easier to find a way to uncover them if we go into his subconscious.”

Klavier shakes his head. “You want to get in Kristoph’s head, when you already know that he’s crazy?”

“We have a team of professionals to help,” Phoenix smiles. “Their job is to keep things as stable as possible so we can find the secrets Kristoph has locked away.”

We,” Klavier repeats. He turns his coffee mug around in his hands as he thinks silently. At length, he finally sighs. “Do you really think it will help me put this all behind me and move on?”

“I’m counting on it to do the same for me,” Phoenix says with such honesty that Klavier looks taken aback. “I won’t be happy until I have the answers to the questions that have been gnawing on me ever since… a long time ago, now.”

Klavier gives Phoenix a wan smile. “I’m sure I understand that feeling better than anybody else, at the moment.”

“That’s why I need your help,” Phoenix says, and his expression serious again. “If we’re constructing a dream, we need to draw on elements from his past. We could go digging and hope for the best, or we could use your input. I know it’s a lot to ask of you, Klavier, but will you join us?”

Klavier hesitates, but Phoenix notes with some relief that he doesn’t immediately refuse. The emotions play across Klavier’s face clearly, showing how conflicted he feels, and he finally looks up and says, “I need more time to think about it.”

“How about I give you a day to think about it,” Phoenix offers. “You have the number to my office. Give me a call once you’ve made up your mind. And either way; thank you for hearing me out. I know this is difficult for you.”

The corner of Klavier’s lips twitch into a brief, mirthless smile. “Thank you for coming to see me. I haven’t had very much company lately. I’ll give you a call as soon as I can.”

“Thank you,” Phoenix nods in appreciation. “Don’t let yourself get too down, alright?”

Walking Phoenix to the door, Klavier snorts quietly. “I will try.”

From there, Phoenix immediately makes his way to the downtown detention centre. He’s already made arrangements to speak to Daryan Crescend beforehand, so as soon as he goes to the reception desk, he is led into a small interview room.

Daryan looks up when Phoenix walks into the room, frowning with confusion.

“What the hell’s going on?” Daryan’s cuffed hands are balled into fists, his entire posture tense. “I was told some lawyer wanted to talk to me, but no one said anything about you. If this is about my sentence—”

“Calm down, Detective Crescend,” Phoenix smiles, sitting down across from him.

“Ain’t detective any more, is it?” Daryan retorts, but he sits back in his chair. “So what have I done to earn myself a visit from Phoenix Wright, of all people?”

“I have a job offer for you,” Phoenix folds his arms on the table and leans in just slightly, lowering his voice, “and the opportunity to shorten your sentence.”

“Yeah?” Daryan raises an eyebrow, his curiosity piqued. “So what’s the catch? How terrible is this job you want me to do?”

“It’s quite simple, really. I have a feeling you might even enjoy it. I want someone I know—someone who’s done standardised legal extractions—to go in with a team I’ve already hired. You’re the only one I know that has had any kind of experience with shared dreaming.”

Daryan snorts, shaking his head. “You can’t just go into a dream like that. If you’ve already got a team, I’m only going to get in their way.”

“No, I’m sure that you’ll be very helpful to them for this job,” Phoenix smiles. “Especially for this job.”

“Alright, I’ll bite,” Daryan shrugs. “Who’s the subject?”

“Kristoph Gavin. I know he’s already locked up but I want to find out what else he’s got locked away in his head. You know enough about dreaming and about Kristoph to be pretty damn useful.”

Daryan’s gaze drops to his hands. “Does Klavier know about this?”

“I’m asking for his help on this too. He hasn’t agreed yet, but I know he will. He needs the closure.”

“And does he know that you’re planning on having me as part of the team?”

Phoenix’s lack of a reply says enough. Daryan laughs hollowly and shakes his head.

“Forget it, man. He’s going to take one look at me and decide that he doesn’t want to be part of the job. I know you need him more than you need me so thanks, but no thanks.”

“You’re both professionals. I’m sure you can put your differences behind you,” Phoenix raises an eyebrow. “You’ll at least try, won’t you? Because I did some asking around and we can have you paroled if you do help us. Keep up the good behaviour the guards have seen in here already and we could get rid of your charges altogether.”

“You’re bribing me to break into Kristoph Gavin’s head and steal his darkest secrets,” Daryan says, raising an eyebrow. Then he smirks. “This has got to be the best day I’ve had in forever.”

“You’ll help us then,” Phoenix says, sounding satisfied.

“Yeah I’ll help. I’ll figure out what to do about Klavier—just give me some time to talk to him and we’ll work things out somehow.”

“Wonderful. You’ll come with me, then. I’ll give you fifteen minutes to get ready; we have a dream to plan.”

Arthur is in a bad mood. His expression is impassive as ever, his voice just as controlled, but everything inside him screams to get out of here, away from Eames. Preferably several countries away from him.

The fact that he’s having such a severe flight reaction only serves to piss Arthur off even more. He’s not the type to run and damn it, between him and Eames, he’s not the one in the wrong. It’s just that Arthur doesn’t like being faced with his mistakes and no matter how he looks at it, that’s exactly what Eames had been. A very bad mistake.

Which doesn’t explain with he’s showing up to the Wright & Co. offices with coffee for the entire team, down to the precise orders, Eames’ long black with one sugar nestled in the cardboard tray beside Arthur’s latte. Yes, it’s his job as a point man to remember small details, and it’s better for the team’s production if they’ve got a steady supply of coffee. But it doesn’t explain the strange thrill he gets from Eames’ reserved smile when he accepts his cup, or the sudden jolt of electricity when their fingers accidentally brush against each other.

“I hope you’ve come up with a plan for your forge,” Arthur says, just to break the silence. It comes out sounding condescending, and he doesn’t try to take it back. The disappointment in Eames’ eyes stings all the same.

“I’ve got a lovely plan that we’ll run through once everyone gets here,” Eames replies. He sounds as calm as ever, but there’s a hardness in his eyes that Arthur knows is because of him.

It’s been years since Arthur and Eames have gotten along. There was a time that they’d been much like Cobb and Mal; two halves of the same whole, understanding each other in a way that no others could. That time has passed, and Arthur has put it firmly behind him. Or so he’d like to think. The Fischer job had been filled with their old flirting, the covert glances and intentionally brushing against each other. The Fischer job had made it a little too easy for them to fall back into their old patterns. It had made Arthur realise there is only one way that he’ll ever be able to go on with his life without craving Eames like a part of him that has been torn away; he needs to avoid seeing him, avoid being near him, avoid thinking of him. It’s far easier said than done, but Arthur had been trying his damned hardest and that is why he’s so pissed off at Cobb now, for ruining that.

The door swings open and, speak of the devil, Cobb walks through, wearing the expression he always wears when he thinks he’s doing a good job of playing it cool. For the best extractor there is, Cobb is alarmingly bad at lying, but that’s what Arthur’s there for. And Eames.

Arthur looks up to find Phoenix watching him curiously, and turns away, returning to his own workspace.

Daryan is drinking his coffee like it’s the best thing he’s ever tasted; probably not very far off from the truth considering where he’s been, Arthur thinks. There isn’t much to brief Daryan on when he already knows most of it better than they do, but he’s sitting there, looking like he’s waiting for something.

The door opens, and Arthur turns to see Klavier Gavin walking into the room. He pauses at the door, trepidation written all over his face, and then his gaze falls on Daryan, and his eyebrows knit together in an impressive, immediate scowl.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Klavier demands, and Arthur feels like he can relate. Klavier turns to Phoenix, looking betrayed. “You could have told me that you were making him work on this.”

“I didn’t want that to influence your decision,” Phoenix replies, hands held up in front of him defensively.

“Why? Because you knew that I wouldn’t agree if I was aware that I’d need to be working with Daryan?” Klavier’s voice rises and Daryan fixes his gaze on his coffee, keeping his face carefully blank. Arthur doesn’t even know who to feel more sorry for.

“I didn’t tell you because this case has to do with your personal relationship with Kristoph and that had to be the deciding factor, not the fact that Daryan is helping us.” Phoenix’s voice is gentle but his expression warns against any argument.

With a sigh, Klavier turns his gaze to the floor before looking up at the rest of the team with a polite smile. There’s a round of introductions and then they get down to work.

Cobb is unafraid to be direct; he takes Klavier over to a cork board with pictures of the Gavin mansion and outlines the plan they’ve already come up with; they’ll make Kristoph think he is at home, where he is most likely to be comfortable, so his secrets won’t be as tightly guarded.

“How are you going to manage that?” Klavier asks sceptically.

“Have you ever been in a shared dream before?” Arthur raises an eyebrow.

“Nah, he’s never had to,” Daryan answers for Klavier. “Only a handful of detectives have, over here, and there ain’t as big of an underground scene for it here, just yet.”

“I’m aware of these facts,” Arthur says tersely.

“And I’d prefer if you didn’t speak for me, considering I’m perfectly capable myself,” adds Klavier, sounding equally unimpressed.

“Give the man a break, he’s only trying to help,” Eames joins in, earning a glare from Arthur.

This is your highly competent team?” Edgeworth raises an eyebrow at Cobb, who looks uncomfortable as he watches the others snap at each other. “I realised that Gavin and Crescend would have trouble working together, but dealing with that on top of your point man and forger?”

“They’ll sort it out,” Cobb says uneasily. “They usually do.”

“They’d better,” Edgeworth huffs, folding his arms, and Phoenix places a hand on his shoulder, calming him.

“Don’t you worry, Miles. They will.”

Despite Phoenix’s assuredness, there is no sign of Arthur and Eames getting along any better than before. Arthur and Ariadne are working with Klavier, getting as much detail as possible from him about the Gavin mansion, about how life had been when he and Kristoph were younger. Arthur cross-checks everything against the information that he pulls up from—somewhere, with alarming speed and accuracy.

“I’ve got an idea for the forge,” Eames speaks up, from the corkboard that has copies of the Gavins’ old photographs pinned to it.

“Yes, Eames?” Arthur doesn’t look away from the sketches Ariadne has done of the mansion.

“The mother.” Eames taps the picture once. “Use her to lull Gavin into feeling even more secure. Make it easier for Cobb to find the information.”

“That’s not going to work,” Arthur says immediately. He looks up, glances around to make sure Klavier isn’t there, and lowers his voice before he continues. “Their parents died when they were young—under suspicious circumstances. Judging from what we know about Kristoph Gavin at the moment, I’m sure you’ll see why that’s a bad idea.”

“Oh, come on,” Eames snorts. “Did you hear what Klavier was saying? Gavin and his mother were close.”

“He killed his parents, Eames.”

“That’s just an assumption you’re making—”

With good reason,” Arthur snaps. “He’s already been found guilty of—how many murders?”

“All people he didn’t know,” Eames argues. “And look, even if you’re right, there would have been a period of his life before he snapped. I’ll forge a young version of his mother. He would have loved her then.”

“No. This is a risk we can’t take,” Arthur shakes his head. “Find someone else. Someone who’d make him feel smug and relaxed—forge his old apprentice, Justice, if you need to.”

“I wasn’t aware that a point man’s job included deciding how the forger was going to do his,” Eames smiles with obvious insincerity.

“It’s the point man’s job to make sure we don’t fuck up,” Arthur shoots back.

“Enough, seriously,” Ariadne interrupts. “I’m sick of hearing you guys argue. Arthur, get back to these sketches. Eames…”

“I’m going out for a smoke,” the forger growls, hands shoved in his pockets, his shoulders hunched.

“Right,” Ariadne says, nodding.

Eames nearly runs into Klavier on the way out, who looks terrified by the look on Eames’ face. Arthur’s isn’t any more welcoming for the briefest moment, before he calms himself. He forces a small smile, and waves Klavier over.

“This is the model for the mansion,” Arthur indicates the foam core miniature on the desk beside Ariadne. “The grounds loop in on themselves and we’ve added some dream architecture on the inside, but we’re more interested in the general feel of it being right.”

“It looks right,” Klavier nods, glancing at the photographs and sketches beside it. Sounding less certain, he asks, “Do you need me to go into the dream with you?”

“Not if you don’t want to,” Cobb speaks up from the other side of the room, where he’s conversing quietly with Phoenix. “We have enough information to do the actual job without you. It’s best if you stay out of it. You too, Ariadne.”

For a moment, Ariadne looks like she’s about to protest. With a sigh, she nods. “Right. We promised Miles.”

“We’ll go over your architecture,” Cobb decides, reaching for one of the PASIV cases. “The sooner we’ve finalised this, the sooner you can go home. You have classes starting up again soon.”

“Lucky me,” Ariadne says, with a slight quirk to her lips. “If I see Mal, I’m decking you.”

Arthur snorts quietly, and Cobb manages a smile. “You won’t see her.”

Klavier watches with fascination as the PASIV is set up and both Cobb and Ariadne fall asleep.

“You’re sure you don’t want to try it out?” Arthur raises an eyebrow at Klavier.

Shaking his head, Klavier smiles. “I… don’t like the thought of other people being in my head. It’s barely pleasant for me in there, these days.”

“Well, you’ve lost a lot.” Arthur says, folding his arms. “I doubt that Crescend being involved in the job would help.”

“I guess you’d understand what it’s like,” Klavier says, “with Eames.”

“There’s nothing with Eames,” Arthur says calmly, and then looks up when he notices the way Phoenix suddenly jerks in his chair. “Something wrong?”

“Nothing,” Phoenix replies, sliding his hands into his pockets. “Don’t worry.”

Arthur frowns, but he’s distracted when the door opens, and both Eames and Daryan walk inside.

“Hey,” Daryan greets the room at large, but avoids Klavier’s eyes. He takes a seat beside Eames, talking to him quietly—Arthur thinks he hears the mention of forging, but he doesn’t ask.

Klavier gives Arthur a strained smile, clearly feeling a sense of kinship regardless of what Arthur says. It makes Arthur wonder if he’s more obvious than he thinks, but he pushes it to the back of his mind when he notices Cobb and Ariadne stirring awake.

“We’re done designing the dream,” Cobb announces, pulling the needle from his wrist. “Arthur, if you go under with Ariadne to learn the details, we’ll be able to push forward, and Ariadne can go home.”

Arthur nods, sitting down and setting himself up. He’s aware that Eames is watching him, but he refuses to look at him, fixing his gaze on the PASIV as Cobb depresses the button.

“So, what’s up with you and Eames?” Ariadne asks.

They’re walking up a long, gravel driveway and Arthur begins to memorise the crunch of the small rock beneath his shoes. “Why are you always so interested in other people’s business? It has nothing to do with you.”

“It does, if it affects the job.”

“But it’s not. He’s doing his thing, I’m doing mine. We’re leaving each other alone.”

“And when you shot down his idea for the forge—”

“It was a bad idea.” Arthur lets out an agitated sigh. “I would have done the same no matter who came up with it.”

Ariadne watches Arthur carefully as they approach the large double doors of the mansion and walk inside.

“But Eames is right, you know. It’s not exactly your job to decide who he’s forging.”

Arthur doesn’t reply, and Ariadne knows better than to push. The rest of the dream is spent going every minute detail, and if Arthur speaks, it’s only to ask questions on the architecture.

Arthur keeps an eye on his watch, moving slower than the time around them to keep track of how much dream time they have left.

“We’re done,” he says. “But we’ve got a few minutes left on the clock. I’m getting back to work.”

Before Ariadne even has the time to react, Arthur dreams up a gun to shoot himself out of the dream. By the time Ariadne constructs her own, less violent kick, Arthur and Eames are already in a punch-up.

“What the fuck were you going through my bag for?” Arthur growls, holding Eames down to the desk with one hand on his throat, the other across his chest. “Are you just trying to piss me off?”

“Calm down,” Eames’ hands are free, and he could easily throw Arthur off. Instead, he holds the wrist of the hand Arthur has on his throat. “I was just checking if you had a few smokes I could steal. Noticed you still smoke the same brand, by the way.”

Arthur pulls his hand away as if he’s been burned and takes a step back. “You had no right— We’re not—”

“I know, Arthur,” Eames says, easing himself off the desk and rubbing his throat. “Forget it.”

Ariadne is the first to act, grabbing hold of Cobb and advancing on Eames, leading them both out of the office.

Phoenix stands to the side, wearing a slight frown and he glances at Klavier and Daryan, who both look bewildered by what they’ve just seen.

“If you two wouldn’t mind,” Phoenix says, and he doesn’t need to say any more. They both nod, leaving hurriedly, and Phoenix folds his arms across his chest, looking at Arthur.

“What?” the point man snaps.

“I can’t have you starting brawls in my office,” Phoenix says, and reaches into his pocket. “Your issues with Eames are disrupting the team dynamics here.”

“There’s nothing with Eames,” Arthur says firmly, and frowns when Phoenix takes a small green object out of his pocket and sets it down on the desk. “What’s that?”

“I can tell you’re lying,” Phoenix says, running his forefinger along the smooth surface of the curved jade. “There’s more between you and Eames than you want to admit.”

Arthur snorts. “Don’t be ridiculous, I barely even know him.”

“No?” Getting up, Phoenix crosses the room to Eames’ workspace, picking up an empty takeaway coffee cup. “You know exactly what kind of coffee he drinks. Without having to ask.”

“So? I’ve worked with him before. Remembering small details is part of my job.”

“You’ve forgotten to get extra sugar in Cobb’s coffee,” Phoenix says, remembering earlier in the morning. “But you’ve never forgotten that Eames drinks soy.”

“Well, remembering that someone is lactose intolerant is a little more important,” Arthur snaps, but then immediately shuts his mouth when he realises that he’s not helping himself. With a scowl, he folds his arms. “Fine. I know Eames better than I said, but it’s only because I’ve worked with him so often.”

“Really?” Phoenix raises an eyebrow. He chuckles. “You’re making this too easy for me.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Arthur narrows his eyes.

“The cigarettes, Arthur. Eames commented that you still smoke the same brand. He wouldn’t know that if you were just colleagues.”

“People smoke at work all the time. In fact, Eames went out for a cigarette just before. It would be easy for him to see what brand I smoke if we went for a cigarette break together.”

“He might be the type to smoke on the job, but you aren’t.” Phoenix stands in front of Arthur’s desk with his arms folded, the same determination brightening his eyes like in court. “Your pack wasn’t even opened yet, but somehow Eames knew it would be there. He knows you well enough outside of work to know that you smoke, and what brand you like.”

“Okay, so you’re right,” Arthur admits. “But I don’t see what you’re trying to do here, Mr. Wright.”

“I’m proving that whatever there is between you and Eames, it’s more than a simple friendship.”

“Stop wasting your time,” Arthur mutters. “I don’t even see how you’d be able to prove that.”

“Well, you’re not denying it, for one,” Phoenix smiles, but Arthur looks unimpressed. “Fine, you’re going to make me work for this lock, aren’t you?”

“Lock?” Arthur frowns, but Phoenix is already pacing the office, muttering under his breath. With a sigh, Arthur rolls his sleeve up and glances at his watch. “Look, this job may not be as time-sensitive as others, but I’d prefer if I could just get on with my work—”

“Your watch,” Phoenix interrupts.


“Your watch. It’s the exact same one that Eames wears.”

Frowning, Arthur touches his watch lightly before realising what he’s doing. Clearing his throat, he says, “So? That doesn’t mean anything. Do you honestly think we matched our watches on purpose?”

“You said it, not me,” Phoenix grins. “It’s not uncommon for partners to have things that match. Miles and I—”

“I don’t care,” Arthur snaps. “With all due respect, Mr. Wright, stay the fuck out of my business. The watches just match by coincidence. We have the same tastes, that’s all. Satisfied?”

“You really think I’ll believe that?” Phoenix presses, and at the back of Arthur’s mind, he is impressed by how determined Phoenix is—if they’d gone to him, instead of the wishy-washy lawyer with no backbone after Mal died, perhaps things would have been much easier. Phoenix laughs and continues, “I have eyes, Arthur. I don’t think you’d be able to convince anyone that you and Eames have even remotely similar tastes in anything.”

“Fine,” Arthur growls. “Fine. We used to be… We used to be close. That is all you’re getting out of me, Wright. Nothing more.”

“I could ask someone else,” Phoenix shrugs.

“Eames won’t talk.”

“I’m not talking about him. There’s someone else who would have the information I’m after, if I wanted to know exactly why this world-class team of extractors is falling apart at the seams.”

Arthur doesn’t reply, shaking his head and keeping his gaze fixed on the documents in front of him.

“I could ask Cobb. I’ve done my own research, and it seems that you’ve worked almost exclusively with Cobb as your extractor for the past two years. It only makes sense, naturally, that the best point man would work with the best extractor, but it’s curious that aside from the Fischer job, you’ve never worked with the best forger. If I understand correctly, you used to work with Eames all the time—”

“Stop,” Arthur interrupts, rubbing a hand across his face. “Just stop. You don’t have to ask Cobb. I’ll tell you, if it makes you stop pushing. It’s—nothing. I just… Eames was supposed to be there, when I was working with Cobb to clear his charges, alright? He was supposed to wait, and then he decided that he didn’t want to. Apparently he didn’t care that much, my mistake for assuming otherwise. He walked out on me when I needed him the most, and I can’t forgive him for that. It doesn’t exactly make me want to see him.”

“Was it like this on your last job too?” Phoenix asks gently.

“Last time, I could… forget it, sometimes. It was like we were slipping back into what we had, but I’m not the type of idiot to set myself up to make the same mistake twice. I’m making sure it doesn’t happen.” Arthur looks up at Phoenix with a weary look. “Happy?”

“Thank you,” Phoenix gives Arthur a small smile. “…You know that people make stupid mistakes they later regret, right?”

“And you know when it’s in your best interest to drop a subject, right?” Arthur replies.

“Depends on who you ask,” Phoenix grins, but his expression turns serious when he says, “I’ll leave you alone. Thank you, for humouring me. Something tells me that you don’t talk about this very much.”

“If you’re expecting me to thank you for prying into my business, you’ll be disappointed,” Arthur says, though he doesn’t look as irritated as Phoenix would expect.

He decides to take it as a good sign.