"You sure spent a long time looking at the cakes today, Polly," Trucy remarked on their way walking home from the grocery store. "That wasn't like you." She tapped her chin, giving the matter a bit more thought than Apollo felt was necessary (outside of the court room, did he also have to face such scrutiny?). "It's a long time until my birthday...And Daddy's passed not that long ago... Ah!" she gasped, "Could it be that your birthday is coming up, Polly?! Could it even be today and you haven't told us?"
"N-no," Apollo shook his head. The cloth grocery bags rustled in his arms, "I wasn't thinking about myself. I was thinking about a...friend. ...But I'm sure he's had dozens of store-bought cakes in his lifetime. Better ones than the pre-made sort you buy at the grocery store too." He sighed. The thing about being close to a former rockstar/prosecutor was that he'd pretty much seen, done, and bought everything. Who could be harder to surprise on his birthday than Klavier Gavin?
"If I wanted to do something special for a friend's birthday, I would try and learn a new trick to show them and I'd make a present by hand. Daddy always says that homemade gifts are the best."
Once again, Phoenix and Trucy's outlook on life failed to surprise him. ...But maybe he could bake Klavier his own cake. If he just did a little research for a recipe and followed it properly, how hard could it be? "Thanks, Trucy. That's a great idea."
"Hee hee, actually, I have a birthday present to work on myself," she chattered happily, "It's for Klavier."
"Oh?" She didn't seem to realize they were both aiming to please the same person. The stairs up to the apartment rang with their steps, heavy with the load of groceries that they carried.
"I'm going to make him a video. See, last time he came to my show, he said he wished he had a freer schedule so he could be around us all the time. I figured if I made a video of some of the fun things we do around the agency and stuff he could watch it any time he likes, even when he can't talk to us, and it will be like we're together."
"That's creative. ...And it does sound like the kind of thing Prosecutor Gavin would appreciate." Apollo struggled to shuffle his load, unlock the door, and hold it open for Trucy. "Just don't film me doing anything weird, okay?"
"Of course not. I want to make a video that will make Klavier feel at home with us." Trucy began to unpack and put away the groceries. Apollo joined her in the task, marveling at her enthusiasm for her project (but also worrying a little that his normal could be a little awkward and that Klavier might end up with some record of this awkwardness to view again and again as long as he liked).
Trucy's video camera was antiquated and somewhat clunky, but it seemed to work just fine. She surprised Phoenix with it when he arrived home ("Oh, you got it to work again!" "The battery just needed charging, Daddy."), went through several takes of her adopted father's sloppy camerawork before convincing Apollo to film her Mr. Hat trick, and, finally, recorded Phoenix snoring after he fell asleep on the couch in front of a rerun of "I Love Lucy." After that, Apollo went home. If he let Trucy and Mr. Wright coax him, he would never leave their place. But what good was it keeping his own apartment if he never did anything there but slept?
The day before Klavier's birthday, when Apollo planned to bake his cake, there was inevitably a major problem. After several days of researching and testing recipes, the oven in his apartment suddenly refused to work at all. It had struck Apollo as a little fussy from the start of his experiment, but he had assumed that it was merely the age of the equipment. He had never used the oven very much, not being especially interested in baking, so for all he knew, that part of the kitchen had been in disrepair since before he moved in. He would have to see about getting it fixed, but in the meantime, without infinite time to wait on a potentially slow repair man, Apollo knew he would have to inquire about the availability of the next most convenient place to bake the strawberry shortcake he had settled on: Mr. Wright's apartment.
"Um, hello, Trucy? It's me, Apollo. Is your father home? He's not? ...Do you know when he'll be back?" Ugh, the young defense attorney grimaced. Mr. Wright might have a good track record for coming through in a pinch, but the time one spent waiting for him to show up and set things right could be killer. Mr. Wright was a pretty easy-going guy... If Apollo got permission from Trucy to come over and borrow their kitchen, he wouldn't get upset, would he? "Are you busy? Are you using your kitchen? Do you think I could come over and bake at your place? My oven's busted."
Trucy was enthusiastic about the prospect. "Definitely! Please come! I can help you out if you want and I can use the chance to get some last footage of you for my tape. It's disappointing, Polly. I barely have any of you on my tape."
"Well, uh," Apollo scratched the back of his head, "I guess if you can think of something you want to tape me doing I'll try and help you too when I get there. Thanks, Trucy. I'll see you in a few minutes."
There was definitely something funny about riding the bus with his arms full not only of ingredients (plenty of people in the city had to bring their groceries home this way) but also with the hand mixer and a few other pieces of kitchen equipment he was afraid to show up and find out that Mr. Wright didn't own. "I just want to be your one-man bakery shop," Apollo hummed to himself, altering the words to the song by Three Dog Night.
Trucy was pointing her camera out of the window at him as he got off at the bus stop and headed toward the building. He waved to her and she waved back. "Welcome, Polly, master chef!" she greeted him at the door.
"Uh, hi," he flashed a lopsided smile. "You ready to bake?"
"What kind?" she zoomed in on his bags of supplies. "Oooh, strawberries!"
"Ah, if you turn out to be good at this, make one for my next birthday."
"Sure... If you're still interested by then. So," Apollo shifted the weight in his arms from one side to the other, "Do you think you could turn off that camera for a minute and let me squeeze through the doorway?"
"Oops, sorry," Trucy obliged, not only putting aside the camera, but helping him put down his supplies on a kitchen counter. "So, now that you're working here, any chance that I can chime in as your beautiful assistant?"
"Uh, you can help some... I guess," Apollo shrugged. He had meant for this cake to be a special gift from him to Klavier, not some shared thing from Trucy as well, and he wasn't sure if she would be more help or hindrance to the baking process, but he'd been forced to call on her hospitality, so it didn't seem right to say no.
While Apollo set up his supplies, washing his hands and preheating the oven, Trucy's eyes strayed back to her video camera. Her half brother hadn't told her she couldn't tape him baking...he'd only asked that she stop for a moment. Trucy leaned over and squinted through the eyepiece. It wasn't a bad angle. ...If she could just find something to prop the camera up on... One of Daddy's law textbooks would do nicely. She'd have to let the tape run long to make sure Polly didn't see her toying with it too soon, but a longer take would just give her more to work with. It was nothing the power of editing couldn't overcome. Trucy didn't have any special equipment to work with, but she had plenty of enthusiasm, and Daddy always told her that with enough spirit one could overcome all but the trickiest of adversities. Not only would Klavier receive a wonderful cake for his birthday, but he'd get a sneak peek at the makings of it too.
"...Trucy? You wanted to get in on this, right?" Apollo called to her.
Trucy pressed the record button down and waited to see that tape was actually rolling (she'd been so disappointed that time Vera had agreed to paint on camera for her but nothing had actually been recorded). "Yep! I'm coming!" She pulled off her gloves and went straight to work, washing off the eggs.
"Oh, and what's this?" However, Klavier's growing grin as he unwrapped Trucy's gift indicated that he knew exactly what he'd received. Taped to the front of the DVD case was a note written in pink and purple gel pen explaining roughly what she had recorded for him ("Wright Family Home Videos Starring Trucy, Polly, and Daddy"). "Thank you, Trucy. I will treasure it!"
"Wocky helped me transfer it from video to a DVD," Trucy noted, "Polly told me he didn't think you would still own a VCR."
"You keep in contact with many of your past clients, ja, Mr. Wright?"
"Any of the ones friendly enough to want to keep in touch," Phoenix shrugged.
A shadow crossed Klavier's face, unsuited to a day meant for celebrating. "You really are a nice guy." Apollo noticed the bittersweet touch to his words and reached out to touch his hand. "Ha ha ha, I would try and institute a similar policy, but many of my clients turn out guilty and would not be quite so interested in seeing me again. ...But," he pushed his lightheartedness to the fore again, directing a gentle smile straight to Apollo's eyes, "I wouldn't want to see those people again either. I'm excited about this tape. Cut that cake and let's watch!"
"Can't you watch that later?" Apollo grimaced, "It's supposed to be for when you're busy and can't see us, isn't it? I'm going to be too embarrassed to enjoy my cake."
"Oh, you shouldn't be so shy, Herr Justice. I'm certain your awkwardness around the house is going to be my favorite part." Klavier rose and went to put the DVD into the player hooked up to his flatscreen TV (Apollo found it a bit excessive, but conspicuous consumption was par for the course with Klavier- it was probably a rockstar thing).
Trucy hastened to his side as the DVD loaded, giggling as she whispered in his ear, directing him to a particularly fascinating selection he might want to view first.
Apollo uncovered the cake and Phoenix began to calmly stud it was purple candles as the movie began to role. "Augh! No!" Apollo squawked as he came onto screen, mixing the batter for Klavier's cake.
"'No?'" Klavier echoed him, "My expectations have been raised."
"T-turn it off!" Apollo reddened from his neck to the tips of his ears as the recording continued on, "I can't stand to see this!" Onscreen, after setting Trucy to washing and slicing the strawberries, the two of them burst into a loud and cheerful medley of showtunes, singing along with one of Trucy's mixtapes.
"Look at you! Listen to you!" Klavier came and wrapped his arm around Apollo's waist, pointing with his other hand up at the screen, "Those Chords of Steel really have done something for your voice! You're practically ready to go on tour in The Rocky Horror Picture Show!"
"N-no," Apollo groaned, pressing his face into Klavier's partially open shirt, "It gets worse!"
"It gets worse?" Klavier repeated considerably more cheerfully, looking to Trucy for confirmation.
"He talks about how he'd like to feed you the cake. Sensually," Trucy answered, equally cheerful, "And while we're waiting for it to bake, he shows me the proper way to do a striptease."
"Ugh, no, I'm going to die," Apollo moaned into Klavier's chest.
"What's that you've been teaching my little girl?" Phoenix asked, looking more threatening than he might have intended with a large cake knife in his hand.
"Ha ha, look, Herr Justice, you're running your lips around the tip of a strawberry just now! This is shaping up to be my most fun birthday in years!"