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Hot for Justice

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The sensible thing to do would be to take a leave of absence. 

After prosecuting back-to-back trials sending his best friend and his only family member to prison on murder charges, Klavier didn't doubt that everyone from the chief prosecutor to Fraulein Detective would sympathize. Who would want to be back in the courthouse that had stolen away the two closest people in one's life? The headaches and mild panic attacks, the sleepless nights and drowsy days---they could all be explained away by stress. Professional anxiety. Personal matters.

A leave of absence meant running away again, though, and Klavier wasn't prepared to open himself up to attacks from the media. He'd done it once before, seventeen and unconvinced of his own suspicions of faulty evidence. The interviews that aired following State v. Enigmar--everyone from Will Powers and Max Galactica to the local detectives and prosecutors--illustrated a career of earnest faith in clients and hard work to uncover the truth. Hardly a forger's legacy.

Klavier flew off to Europe to tour with his band and didn't return to the courts for seven long years. Teen magazines showered him with admiration and praise for his music, but more serious publications for more serious readers reported inability to handle the politics of the legal world. To be expected from someone so young, they published. "Prodigy" became an insult in Franklin New Gothic and Times.

Even if he did take a break, there was no Gavinners to return to. With Daryan gone, the band members agreed it was best to bring their multi-platinum career to a close. The musicians went their separate ways--most back to Europe where they'd first met--and laughed about the idea of doing a reunion show one day. 

If Klavier wanted music to soothe his soul, he'd have to play it himself. A solo career hardly seemed like the appropriate course of action when most of his thoughts revolved around stress from his primary trade. Still, for much of Klavier's life, his guitar was a source of comfort during difficult spells. A trusted friend, even. Music and lyrics could keep his smile from stiffening too much.

So no, there would be no retreating from the legal system this time, no further blows to his legitimacy as a prosecutor. He was an adult. He could play this game. Smile for the camera, no comment. Were there any signs, Mr. Gavin? No comment, no comment. How does it feel to be blood-related to a killer? Ah, frauleins, don't weep to think that the Guilty as Charged Tour was the Gavinners' last. There will always be How do you sleep at night knowing that you ruined the career of an innocent young lawyer, Mr. Gavin? music.

If only that music would come to him, though. Sleep evaded him night after night, and so Klavier would sit in bed with blank sheet music and a pencil at the ready, fingers poised over his guitar, the loudness of its unplucked strings ringing in his ears. His best friend and bandmate, his brother, and now music. All had abandoned him.

In place of a leave of absence, Klavier took on smaller cases. Easy wins: robbers caught on security cameras, brawls that took place in front of dozens of witnesses, that sort of thing. Starting his career from the bottom, working his way up. Building credibility. Having some wins to his name, not just helping the defense find the true killer. Avoiding Herr Forehead and his impossibly complicated trials at all costs.

Their paths did cross one day in the courthouse, of course. Klavier was coming off of his seventh consecutive victory of the month--car thieves with fingerprints, tire prints, and their faces captured on camera when they stopped for gas--child's play. Herr Forehead was staggering out of the courtroom across the hall for a recess in his latest murder trial. Herr Wright's daughter bounced after him on one side, a nervous man--presumably his client--on the other.

"Prosecutor Gavin." Despite working in the same district, the courthouse meeting seemed to surprise Herr Forehead as much as it did Klavier. "It's been a while. How are you?"

With all that hair gelled straight up and off his face, it was no wonder he couldn't keep his expressions hidden. Klavier would be able to spot those crooked eyebrows knitting with concern from a mile away. He flashed his most dazzling smile, the one that made the frauleins scream and reach towards the stage. Herr Forehead's lips only pressed together more tightly, his hands finding their way to his hips.

"Ach, Herr Forehead, you worry too much. You'll get wrinkles." Klavier reached out and tapped his forehead with one finger the way he'd seen his courtroom rival do dozens of times when thinking over evidence. Herr Forehead squawked. "You must not be keeping up with the papers, or you'd know that I've been racking up victories for the prosecutor's office."

"I know that," Herr Forehead snapped. Herr Wright's daughter and the twitchy client slipped into the lobby behind him. "Art thief, drug dealer, parents throwing punches on a playground. All criminals who deserved to be caught. No match for you."

The compliment wrapping up that statement would have been what most people focused on, and Klavier wasn't going to complain that Herr Forehead had an uncharacteristically kind word for his courtroom performance. What caught him off guard was the admission that he'd been following the cases. He didn't even have time to respond before Herr Forehead was talking again.

"I wasn't asking about your trials. I just haven't seen you around any of my crime scenes lately. You just go from being on every case to none of them, so I can't even ask if you're okay about---stuff."

Ah, there was that speak-before-thinking-through-statement nature Klavier missed in his trials. The defense attorneys he'd faced hardly had any spark, maybe because they knew how guilty their clients were. Herr Forehead would get so wrapped up in having something to say that ferocity sometimes usurped logic as the primary motivation of his words. Klavier didn't realize he was laughing until he caught sight of Herr Forehead's blazing eyes.

"If you have time in your busy schedule, you can visit my office. The door is always open to you," Klavier said. "I am doing well, Forehead, and I appreciate the concern. Our cases will overlap sooner or later."

"Sooner would be better. Without you, I have to defend against Winston Payne." When Herr Forehead's shoulders slumped, his antennae seemed to droop. "His screechy objections make me want to shoot my ears off."

"Ah, the sound of a shrill, rasping objection at top volume. Can't imagine what that's like."

The glare was worth it. Klavier laughed again, interrupted only when the bailiff came by to announce that the recess was over. Bidding farewell and good luck to Herr Forehead, Klavier searched his pocket for his keys. Another victory. Maybe he should treat himself to lunch. Maybe he should wait and take Herr Forehead and the fraulein with him. Klavier hummed to himself. Fighting with his old rival over who would pick up the check, despite one party not even being able to afford it, sounded like a fun way to spend his afternoon.

Klavier's hand froze on the handle to the defendant lobby where he planned to wait, where Herr Forehead would retreat once the trial came to a close. The tune he'd been humming---what was it? Not a Gavinners' song, that was for certain, but nothing Klavier could place from his vast collection of music. He hummed the last part over again to himself. No, they were just notes he'd strung together.

New music.

Lunch with Herr Forehead would have to wait. Klavier practically sprinted to the parking lot to jump on his hog and hurry home, humming the bars over and over to himself so he didn't forget before he had a pencil in hand and clean sheet music in front of him. There was a new hit song to be written.