It would be a lie to say he was never angry with Klavier, that he never blamed him for what happened.
But then, he's become accustomed to avoiding the truth.
While it doesn't start innocently, he doesn't intend for it to get so far out of hand.
It starts at the club. He's surprised when Klavier enters, and he almost doesn't recognize him, his always immaculate hair falling messy and loose down his back, his flashy clothes traded in for the simple comfort of a threadbare t-shirt and a well-worn pair of jeans.
It's when Phoenix notices the thin wire-rimmed glasses perched on his nose that his curiosity overpowers his apprehension, and he rises from the piano bench to join Klavier at the bar.
"Herr Wright," Klavier says with a start, and his surprise seems genuine. "What are you doing here?"
"I work here," comes the easy reply, and he gestures vaguely in the direction of the bartender, who nods. "Remember?"
Klavier nods, eyes going round behind his glasses. "Herr Forehead made it seem--" he stops, shaking his head. "My apologies for my presumption."
Phoenix shrugs as the bartender brings them two glasses of a dark something. Apollo has been pestering him endlessly about retaking the Bar, though he hasn't yet asked about the twitch in Phoenix's lazy smile whenever the subject is broached, and Phoenix doubts he ever will.
"I didn't know you wore glasses," he says conversationally, finger circling the rim of his cup.
Klavier's hand goes to the frames, a subconscious gesture. "Normally I wear contacts."
"Kristoph had astigmatism, right?" Phoenix asks, the name rolling off his tongue as though he didn't spend last Thursday afternoon watching the man die. "Or is it estigmatism? I'm terrible with that crap."
"Ja, astigmatism," Klavier says, his voice clear and even.
Phoenix nods, then turns his attention back to Klavier. "Well, I think they suit you."
Klavier's smile is tight, lips stretched thin, and he reaches for his drink. He takes a deep gulp, then pulls the glass back in surprise.
"This is grape juice?" Klavier's looking at the glass, bewildered, and Phoenix is looking at Klavier.
And then Klavier laughs. What else can he do? Here he is with a man he helped to disbar, the man who helped bring about his brother's end. Here he is in the very establishment in which his brother took another man's life, and he's drinking grape juice--of all things!--and Phoenix Wright is telling him he looks good in his brother's glasses. His murderous, tragic, beautiful brother.
What is he supposed to do?
"Hey," Phoenix says, laying a hand on Klavier's arm, and the wild, terrified look leaves his eyes. Klavier waits for him to say something more, watches as he takes a sip of his own drink, the way his Adam's apple bobs as he swallows. Wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, he says, "I didn't mean to upset you."
"You didn't," he replies, and he knows he's got the right tone of voice, the right level of innocent confusion.
Still, Phoenix raises an eyebrow. But ultimately he shrugs and says, "Alright, good."
Klavier crinkles his nose, the shadow of a memory flashing across his mind. Something about grape juice, and maybe Herr Forehead? He can't remember.
Phoenix knows that this is potentially a bad idea even as he's gesturing again to the bartender. She brings them two shots of vodka and two bowls of cold borscht. Klavier raises an eyebrow.
"This here is the Borscht Bowl Special," Phoenix says, then downs the shot of vodka and brings his bowl to his lips, forgoing the spoon, to chase the alcohol with a sip of his borscht. Klavier stares at him as one might stare at the monkeys at the zoo, and Phoenix adds, "Since you didn't seem too pleased with the juice."
He turns to his own Borscht Bowl Special. This is where Kristoph came night after night? It doesn't make sense. None of it makes any sense.
The vodka slides down his throat, much less harsh than he was anticipating--maybe they give Herr Wright the good stuff?--and then he sips from his bowl, mimicking Phoenix.
Well, at least the borscht is good.
It's not innocent, because they end up pressed together in the back of a cab, and Phoenix had an inkling that something like this might happen. If he's honest with himself--and he's still good at that, at least; he's promised himself that no matter what else happens, he will always go into things fully aware of what he's doing, for good or ill--he can admit that he was hoping for this to happen, that he was guiding the evening in this direction.
If only Klavier hadn't been wearing those glasses.
Once at Klavier's apartment, whatever pretenses they may have yet been clinging to fall away, and Klavier shoves Phoenix down onto the couch, climbing on top of him. They fuck right there in the living room, not even bothering to fully undress, and they don't kiss, don't look each other in the eye. Phoenix tangles his hands in Klavier's hair, the long blond locks twisting around his fingers, and that's the closest either of them gets to admitting the truth.
Apollo speaks of Mr. Wright incessantly. Complaining, mostly, though it's clear he's fond of the man. He speaks of the Wrights with the air of a stern but warm-hearted school marm.
It's strange, hearing so much of Phoenix. Kristoph rarely mentioned him, despite their frequent meetings, and when Klavier would ask about him, Kristoph would politely and completely change the subject.
At the time, he thought his brother was trying to protect him. Maybe he was, in his own way. He'll never know, now.
When they next meet, it's at the courthouse. Klavier is surprised to see the other man--dressed in his usual hoodie and sweatpants ensemble, he looks terribly out of place--and for a split second he thinks to make a sharp left turn down another corridor, though he has no particular business in that direction. But then he sets his smile and walks over to Phoenix.
"Herr Wright, so good to see you. What brings you out on this fine afternoon?"
Phoenix shrugs. He's looking at a plaque affixed to the wall, reading over the list of all the judges who have ever presided in these halls, their names written in bold golden letters, and he does not startle at Klavier's voice suddenly beside him.
"Killing time, I suppose."
Klavier shifts uncomfortably on his feet, still smiling. Why is Herr Wright here, he wonders. When Phoenix offers nothing further, he asks, "Is everything okay?"
Phoenix turns, an invitation in his reckless grin. "Things just got quite a bit better, I'd say."
Klavier's fingers shake as he presses the key into the lock, Phoenix whistling behind him. Whistling. He could strangle him.
He has never done this before, though there was once when he would have, had things gone his way. He and Daryan, they'd been arguing, first over some bit of Daryan's testimony, then over a scrap of lyrics they'd been turning over for several days, then over nothing at all, each spitting angry, desperate barbs at the other. And people were starting to stare, so they'd moved to one of the empty dormitory rooms on the seventh floor, used for sequestered jurors--Klavier had a key to almost every room in the building, he was trusted and well liked in the courthouse--and Daryan, he'd pushed Klavier onto the bed, stood over him, stepped between his open legs, and for a moment Klavier thought Daryan was going to climb on top of him, rip and tear at his clothes, pound him into the thin, crinkling mattress. Instead, he'd yelled some more, and Klavier had yelled right back, but his heart was no longer in it.
He has never done this before, though he suspects Herr Wright must think that he has, he led him here so eagerly, without a word, without a moment's hesitation.
When they enter the room, Phoenix stops in the doorway, appraising his surroundings. Klavier's heart leaps into his throat, what if someone sees them, oh god, what if he misinterpreted, what if this wasn't what Herr Wright had in mind--
His jumbled, rushing thoughts come to a halt as Phoenix closes the door, closes the space between them. Phoenix reaches out tentatively, runs gentle fingers through Klavier's hair, his touch feather-light, and Klavier cannot stand the sadness in his eyes, how he imagines it must be reflected in his own. He can't stand any of it, but he pulls Phoenix into a kiss anyway.
Klavier's stopped visiting the prison. Daryan has been writing him letters, using his one phone call a week to call him. Klavier answered the first call, feeling sick with guilt and sorrow, and Daryan had not yelled, but only because there was no need; his words stung just as sharply in their dispassion.
The third time is the same as the times before it, except this time, Klavier purposefully seeks out the other man, knows how the night is going to end before it begins. And after, when they are laying--sweaty and spent, yet not sated--in Klavier's bed, he says, "We shouldn't keep doing this."
Phoenix rolls to face him, propping his head up in his hand. He looks at Klavier, really looks at him, and it is the first time Klavier has felt that Herr Wright's gaze isn't going straight through him, as though he is truly being seen.
"Yeah, you're probably right," Phoenix says, rolling away again, out of bed to pull on his clothes. "I'm getting too old for this sort of thing."
"Herr Wright," Klavier starts, and for a moment his next words catch in his throat. Then he swallows, and he continues, "Is he a good man?"
Apollo looks up from the chalk outline on the ground in front of them. He's squatting, resting his elbows on his knees, and he seems far away. Klavier pretends not to notice as he fingers the bracelet at his wrist.
"He means well," he says. "His heart is always in the right place, though his execution tends to leave something to be desired."
Klavier nods, looking away. He is thankful when Apollo turns back to his work.
He doesn't mean to sound surprised, but he does, the words coming out as a question. Phoenix smiles, gives him a nod, and slips into the office, leaning casually against the large amp Klavier's been using as a work bench.
"What'd you do to this thing?" Phoenix asks, indicating the broken guitar with a tip of his head. "It looks like a bear got hold of it."
Klavier laughs, a practiced, easy sound. He had not expected to see the other man, he thought they'd had an agreement. He says, "What can I say, rock and roll is a dangerous business."
Apollo would have rolled his eyes, and Trucy would have tittered, but Phoenix doesn't even acknowledge the statement as he continues to look around the room, not bothering to snoop discretely. Klavier keeps on smiling, and eventually Phoenix's eyes come to rest on the young prosecutor, and he says, "I've been working on a little project, and I was wondering if you'd be willing to help."
Now this is unexpected. A wary curiosity flares in Klavier, and he asks, "Oh? And what would that be?"
Phoenix's smile falters, his lips forming a thin, straight line. Klavier is unused to such a look on him, though he knows well enough that Phoenix is more capable, more intelligent--more dangerous?--than he lets on. Something flutters in his stomach, and he is unsure if it's excitement or fear.
Phoenix regards him with a look he can't quite read, and he says, "I've never been much for the death penalty."
Klavier can't decide if this is cryptic or candid. He knows that it's no kind of answer, and he would undoubtedly feel in this moment a kinship with his long-suffering Herr Forehead if he didn't find himself dreading whatever it is that Phoenix may say next. Still, he forges on: "And what does that have to do with me, Herr Wright?"
"A fine question," Phoenix says. He smiles again, seemingly relaxed, but Klavier can see the sharp calculation in his eyes, the worry in the carefully careless set of his lips. Or maybe he's seeing what he would like to see. "I was hoping you might help me get rid of it. I've been trying by my lonesome for several months now, but I haven't been making much progress, clearly."
Clearly. Klavier does not need to ask what it is he's referring to. He also doesn't quite know what to say, however, his mouth dry and his thoughts racing. He feels his heart thumping wildly in his chest, and the force of it against his ribs, the sound of it in his ears makes him dizzy, nauseous. When he speaks, it is not what he thinks he will say.
"Perhaps you should have said something sooner, Herr Wright."
His voice is hard, and for a moment Phoenix's features soften into something that might be guilt. It last but a second, and then he's back on, saying, "Yes, perhaps I should have. But I'm asking you now, and we'll both have to live with that."
Phoenix's eyes, searching out Klavier's, are questioning. Though he would like to, Klavier does not look away. He thinks of Kristoph, resists the familiar urge to twist a finger through the spiral of his hair, and says, "I would be happy to help you in this endeavor, Herr Wright."
Phoenix is, in his way, quite brilliant, Klavier discovers as he comes to spend more and more time with the man. He is also even more secretive than Klavier had originally suspected: he refuses to enlist the help of Apollo, to even tell the young man what it is that he and Klavier are working on, and he swears Klavier to the same secrecy. And so does he reject Klavier's suggestion that they reach out to Miles Edgeworth, a man suffering no shortage of influence, and a man who Klavier had understood to be a friend of the Wrights. Phoenix dismisses this casually at first, but when Klavier presses the issue, he sees something desperate flare in Phoenix's eyes, so he lets it drop.
He is no fool, of course. He knows well enough why Phoenix would not want these particular parties to know of his work; it is, no doubt, the same reason Phoenix hesitated in coming to Klavier. He might find it unforgivable if he didn't know the feeling so well himself.
They work well together, which is perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Klavier had expected it to be awkward, given their recent history, but Phoenix makes no mention of it, spares Klavier no meaningful glances, and so Klavier does the same. He had expected that Phoenix might be too elusive, too guarded to be a proper partner, but his determination and focus seem to outweigh whatever reservations he may have about Klavier--and he must have some, Klavier assumes, unwilling to believe that Phoenix might hold him in any particular regard--and he gives of himself freely, so far as their work is concerned.
Though he knew this man existed--has had the dubious pleasure of seeing him in court, though never outside of it--it is something else altogether to witness first-hand Phoenix's drive, his doggedness.
He wonders how well acquainted Kristoph was with this particular side of Phoenix.
It's not thirty seconds after he's sat down that Phoenix appears in the doorway of his office. He looks as he always looks, wearing that familiar, lazy smile, but time spent together is teaching Klavier how to better read him, and he catches the hesitant hope in Phoenix's eyes.
"How did it go, Herr Gavin?"
Herr Gavin. Phoenix has only recently begun referring to him as such, always with a gentle amusement in his voice. At first Klavier had wondered if he'd called Kristoph the same, but no, he can't imagine his brother tolerating such an obvious nod to his heritage.
"Quite well," he replies, grinning. "I do believe I rocked the house."
Phoenix rolls his eyes, but he can do nothing to hide his buzzing excitement. Phoenix moves to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of him--and Klavier thinks, not for the first time since they started this, that perhaps it's time for a proper desk--and Klavier tells him of his very successful dinner meeting with several prominent representatives.
"Fantastic!" Phoenix says, when Klavier finishes recounting his evening. "We should celebrate."
Klaiver is about to protest--one good meeting is progress, but not a victory--but then Phoenix has conjured a bottle of wine from seemingly nowhere, and he asks, "Did Fräulein Trucy teach you that trick?"
Phoenix laughs, truer than Klavier has ever heard from him. "Why yes she did."
What he forgot to bring were cups. Klavier thinks that perhaps he should take this excuse to beg off, considering their history, but instead he slides out of his seat to sit on the floor with Phoenix. The other man takes a deep swig directly from the bottle, then passes it to Klavier, who accepts.
"This is wine, ja?" he asks, the bottle poised at his lips.
Phoenix laughs again, and Klavier is glad to hear it. "Yes, it's wine. I know better than to serve grape juice to Herr Gavin."
Klavier smiles around the bottle. As he pulls it from his lips, he says, "Oh, it wasn't all that."
"I believe you called it 'swill' and threw the glass at the bartender's head."
Klavier laughs. "Funny, I don't remember that."
Phoenix shrugs, taking the bottle from the other man's hands. "It's possible I'm making it up, I suppose."
An hour later, the wine is gone, and Klavier feels warm and relaxed. Talking with Herr Wright--Phoenix--has been nice, and he finds that he enjoys seeing Phoenix so unguarded. The older man is spread out comfortably, his legs stretched out in front of him, the left crossed over the right at the ankle as he leans back onto his elbows. Phoenix is telling him about Apollo's recent case--a particularly ridiculous affair, though Klavier has heard as much from Apollo. He doesn't interrupt, though, enjoying Phoenix's soothing lilt.
He wonders if Kristoph ever saw Phoenix like this, so contented and at ease. He wonders, as he has always wondered, what the two of them were like together, what sort of relationship they had.
He wonders if they were ever lovers.
Though he knows he shouldn't, he finds that he can't help himself, and he leans in and kisses Phoenix very gently on the mouth, nothing like any kiss they've shared before. Phoenix hesitates, then winds his fingers through Klavier's hair and kisses him back, hard and needy. Tomorrow Klavier will make excuses, will tell himself that it was the wine, the thrill of their progress, but right now, as he pulls Phoenix closer, he knows that's not true.
He would hesitate to say that they're dating.
Certainly, they don't "date." They spend most of their evenings together, but they make phone calls and plot strategy instead of going to dinner or the movies. But more often than not, their nights end in Klavier's bed, and sometimes Phoenix even stays until morning.
He has not mentioned this development to Apollo, or to anyone. He recognizes what this means, the misplaced guilt and shame, but he doesn't let that stop him. He likes Phoenix, admires his intellect and determination, appreciates the way he can so easily shift between the serious and the silly. He's beginning to trust him.
And he can't shake the feeling that, if he can get over the things that are holding him back, they might have something worthwhile going on here.
It is the first time he hears Klavier say his first name--Phoenix, a gasp from Klavier's barely parted lips, his eyes screwed shut in pleasure--that he worries that perhaps they've taken this too far.
They are lying in Klavier's bed. It's approaching midnight, and he suspects that Phoenix will soon ask for a ride home. When Phoenix rolls out of bed and starts pulling on his pants, Klavier sighs and does the same, rubbing at his eyes.
"You alright?" Phoenix asks, slipping into his shoes.
"Ja, it's just my contacts are bothering me."
"Why don't you ever wear your glasses?" Phoenix asks, and if he notices the way Klavier suddenly tenses, he doesn't let that stop him. "They look so good on you."
Klavier eyes the glasses, resting on the top of his dresser, right were he left them after that first night with Phoenix. And something in his stomach drops.
When Klavier was younger, he used to cut his hair himself, cropped short, just over his ears. Kristoph had always hated it that short, never hesitated to tell him as much.
Standing at the bathroom mirror, he wonders why he ever grew it out in the first place, why he was always so desperate to please. He fists his hair in his hands, pulling it tight, and runs the scissors through his long golden locks, lets them pool on the floor at his feet.
Phoenix is surprised when he sees him, maybe doesn't recognize him right away, though Klavier can't tell for sure.
"Do you like it?" he asks, and curses himself for letting his voice betray his anxiety.
Phoenix looks at him--really looks--and even with his hair so short, even as well as he's come to know him, he still sees Kristoph.
"I love it," he says, and hopes that maybe someday he will.
It was a surprise, when Kristoph voted against Phoenix's disbarment.
"You know that he did it," Klavier hissed, his voice low despite his transition to their native tongue. One could never be too careful in the prosecutor's office.
Kristoph had smiled at him wanly. Even good men, he said, can make mistakes. Even bad men deserve second chances.