"Achtung! Look at my luck, handsome and alone. Care for a friend or a little something more?” Klavier lead with his hips and purred at what he assumed was a single man at the bar with very nice hair. He'd always liked the slightly solitary types.
“Back off buddy, I'm a lesbian.” Ema Skye turned around with a potent glare to lecture the blonde haired perpetrator, but was distracted by the crop top which spelled out ‘Hottest Piece of Ass’ in rhinestones. That alone basically guaranteed that he or they weren't looking for a sapphic counterpart. She unclenched her jaw, slightly less frustrated by the case of mistaken identity than she would be if he'd been a run-of-the-mill straight man.
“Apologies. The lighting in here is...rather terrible. From the back you looked...never mind. The ladies are lucky to have you.”
She looked at her outfit and sighed, this wasn't the first time she'd been mistaken for a twink. Depressingly, twink Ema had had better luck at bars. But no amount of loneliness could change her chemistry, and even if it could, leather and depreciating rhinestones were the opposite of her type.
“Yeah, why don't you tell them that,” she half muttered into her drink. Another weekend, another night at a gay bar, alone. And she knew it shouldn't be so surprising anymore. The lesbian bar plague had claimed another local haunt. The name was more than apt considering the fact that even on weekends it rarely had a pulse. But it still stung. It'd been a year, a goddamn year since she'd even been on a date, and every match on dating sites ended up being a swing and a miss. Either she'd send a message and never get a reply or the conversation would last about as long as a can of rootbeer kept it's bubble. That was an accurate summupance of how she felt: like a bottle of soda left in the fridge for a year, just wanting to touch lips with someone. Well, anyone but a man.
“Ah, having trouble in that department?” She wasn't sure if he was being smug or if the German accent just made it sound that way.
“If you say that I just need to 'get myself out there’ more, I will deck you,” she narrowed her eyes with a chilling expression, but the laughed.
“As a pretty boy myself, I must say that the more... feminine ones tend to find the presence of a loner at the bar somewhat intimidating. I presume that's your tactic and type?”
Her face contorted and she squeezed her hand on her drink. Was she really that predictable? “Fine. Yes. And I assume your type is twinks? I've been told I have a resemblance.” Her voice was as warm as the burn from the neat whiskey she'd been drinking.
“Did the rhinestones give it away?” He laughed, and she joined in.
“I'm actually pan, so...If I had to describe my type i think it would just be… interesting people. I just have learned how to play the field, I suppose. This shirt gets attention, and I'm feeling like more of a top tonight so I figured I should use it to my advantage.”
She nearly spit out her drink with a laugh. She was sure the alcohol was making him funnier, or perhaps it was just the sad reality of her life at the moment. Making a friend and having a decent conversation was better than going home in silence and crying herself to sleep.
“Pleased to meet you, miss?” She nodded at his question of pronouns.
“Miss Ema. Klavier Gavin. Rockstar.” He held his hand out for a handshake, and wiped it on a napkin when she held her own out with reproach. They shook, and he took a seat next to her.
“Of course you are. You look like you robbed the graves of David Bowie and Prince's closets. And then spent your inheritance in a leather shop.”
He laughed. “You've got quite the sense of humor. Perhaps you could use that to attract the ladies, ja? Who doesn't like someone that can make them laugh?”
“Apparently my humor is a little too dark for many. I'm a forensic investigator, so dead bodies and I are on a first name basis. Turns out formaldehyde isn't the most seductive scent on the planet.”
“How interesting.” She gave him a threatening look.
“Nein, nein. I assure you I'm not hitting on you. If I were, you'd know . I wasn't entirely honest with you before. While I am a rockstar, I'm also a prosecutor.”
Ema looked at him like she'd just seen a dog driving a car. Admittedly, he gave off a comparable level of responsibility and maturity.
“i could think of nowhere better to prosecute than where I studied. So, I returned home and decided to take a break from touring for a while. Perhaps you've heard of the Gaviners? That's my band.”
In a selfish way she didn't want to watch his eyes light up if she admitted that the name was familiar. The man looked like he had enough ego to force the ghost of Freud to return and change his ideologies. She remembered one song that had been on the radio for some time, full of the strangest legal jargon and guitar solos. It wasn't bad, per say. But it definitely wasn't good. “Ah yes, the obnoxious band that doesn't know how to write lyrics.”
“Ouch. You don't pull any punches, do you fräulein?”
“Not with foppish men such as yourself.”
“Fair enough. It seems I've bothered you enough for the night. Enjoy your drink and solitude,” he said with a bit more of a bitchy coldness.
She sighed. “I'm sorry, it's just… it's been a while, okay? And I'm a bit jealous of your confidence,” she mumbled, and waved the bartender over for another drink.
“Another double shot of this and... something in a similar price range for my friend.”
He smiled. “A gin and tonic, please.” the bartender nodded and Klavier winked at him.
“Really, flirting with the staff?”
“Never know if you don't try, ja?”
“But don't they feel obligated to flirt back? I mean they can't just leave like your average patron. It feels like you're trapping them is all.”
“Sounds like you're the one who's trapped. Keep it light, keep it casual. I tend to watch their eyes. Those who are interested in playing along often have a certain twinkle. Listen for their intonation, sounds rarely lie. Oh, and always tip well.”
She raised her eyebrows in annoyance.
“And before you ask, yes I'm aware of the power imbalances between men and women, I'm much more reserved when I flirt with them thank you very much. But it's late, and that bartender has a nice ass so let me live.” Ema could swear he'd said the last sentence twice as loud on purpose. Sure enough, the bartender came back with a massive blush across his cheeks. He handed Ema her drink, and set Klavier's down on a new napkin. She already had a tab going, so he had no reason to hesitate for payment, yet he stopped for a moment.
“I get off in an hour. Will you still be here?”
“I will indeed. Perhaps you'll get off again an hour later, hm?” The bartender grinned.
“Name's Josiah. Haven't seen you around here before, unlike Ema.”
“Gag. Don't drag me into whatever this is,” she tutted and took a long sip of her drink.
“Klavier. I just moved here actually. Not from Germany, although my accent is from there if you were curious,” he winked again, and Ema could swear she saw Josiah, generally unfazed by bar bullshit Josiah, swoon just a little.
“Let me guess. Artist? No, musician.” Josiah gave a solitary finger gun and Ema cringed.
“Achtung! You're quite the observer. I'm a lead singer, and…” Klavier made an air guitar gesture. She sputtered in laughter, sure that Klavier had just blown his shot.
But Josiah laughed in way that could only be described as the 'you're really hot so that's soooo funny’ laugh, and perched his elbow on the counter.
“You do look the type to be good with your hands.”
“Well, if this gin and tonic is any indication, you're quite the alchemist.”
Josiah blushed further, and was about to speak when he was interrupted by a banging sound behind him.
“Hey! Barkeep! We've been waiting for like ten minutes over here!”
“Duty calls. Pleasure chatting with you, Klavier,” he said his name in a deliberately darker tone.
“We'll continue it after you get off, lovely Josiah.” He clinked one of his many rings against his glass. Thankfully, Josiah's hands were empty as he pivoted a little too fast and fell ass first onto the floor.
Ema looked at Klavier slack jawed. “You broke my favorite bartender."
"Shut up Ema, I'm fine." Josiah blushed profusely and skittered off to help someone else who'd been waiting.
"Hm, perhaps you need a new favorite. One of the female variety would be more fitting.”
“Ugh, not likely. My ex was a bartender and I'm not interested in dating another after that experience.”
“Generalizations like that are why you're still single,” he half sung, which only made the comment more patronizing.
“Oh, my mistake. I didn't realize you were taking Josiah to dinner and buying a house together.”
“Ema, Ema, Ema.” He shook his head and finished his drink. “the reason my flirting worked is because he's looking for the same thing. Likely some human connection for an evening or string thereof in the hope to feel a little less empty in this world.”
She tilted her head. She hadn't expected him to say something so…smart?
“What? That's what we're all looking for, just under different time constraints.”
“I'm not looking for something quite so... intimate.” she took another sip of her drink. Discussing sex still felt like a weird subject. She'd only just lost her virginity two years ago in a tire fire of a first relationship. She'd only been with one woman, and the joy of new love had done far too good a job hiding all of the red flags. She didn't know what would happen when she tried to be with someone else like that again, and she was just as afraid of it as she was eager to find out. But she wasn't about to overshare that information with Mr. Flamboyant Fuck beside her.
“You say that as if sex is the most intimate thing you can do with another person.”
“Oh forgive me. It almost sounded like you thought I was wrong,” she said playfully. There was a sadness in her eyes that he picked up on, which encouraged him to change the subject.
“You know, I think I might know the perfect person for you to date. They're a nonbinary Lesbian, but very feminine. Also enjoys telling me to eat my own tongue. And they're an interpol agent who is more than comfortable around a dead body. She'll be visiting the prosecutor's office next week for a case.”
She stared at him like he'd just asked how she felt about taking a day trip to the moon.
“You could say something .”
“Is she- I mean are you sure they're gaynle?”
Klavier guffawed and Ema felt her cheeks flush as she yelled to correct herself. “Single! Gay and single! Oh, shove it.” She finished her drink in one gulp and enjoyed the intentional burn which distracted her from having her face on fire.
“I suppose I can't verify their relationship status. However, you can always bond over your mutual dislike of fools such as myself and see where it goes from there, ja?” He snapped his fingers, and Ema tried not to groan when Josiah appeared.
“You know Ema, ja?”
“I'd say so. We did go to high school together.” Ema rolled her eyes.
“So if I found a fellow lesbian that I thought had her morbid sense of humor and was definitely her type, would she have a good reason not to agree to a blind date?”
“Hm, no. I don't think she would.” Josiah stared at her with a smug smile.
“You're corrupting him, stop it,” she glared at Klavier.
“Oh honey, I've been corrupted. Maybe you should try it, after all you have been complaining about how you've only ever kissed one girl and this seems like a viable way to rectify that situation.”
“You can rectify my situation anytime,” Klavier said darkly before refocusing his gaze on Ema.
“Say something smug and I will buy another drink just to dump it on your hair,” the threat didn't have her heart in it. She stared at her drink and prepared to be mocked.
“I'd heard it was harder, but I had no idea… even when I was checking for bars to visit around town I noticed that the only two lesbian bars had shut down recently?”
“Yep. And I'm one of those idiots who didn't realize she was gay until I turned 21, which meant I was already out of college and incredibly out of touch. J, can I please get another? I'm too sober for this.”
“Alcohol can't fix all your problems,” he sung as he left to do as she'd asked.
“To be perfectly blunt, that sounds like it fucking sucks,” Klavier said with an unexpected kindness to it.
“Like I've made mistakes in my life, lost my virginity too early and all that nonsense, but at least I figured out that I was different than my other male counterparts fairly early on. I hated football, but there was a reason I was always on the team during my preteen years.” He clinked his rings on the counter and his glass in a drumming pattern.
“Lucky you. Oh thank God.” She grabbed the drink from Josiah and shotgunned it.
“Hey! This is watered down.”
“Because I knew you were going to do that. And I have plans tonight, so I'm not interested in staying and making sure you take a taxi home instead of driving.”
She blew a raspberry at him. “tip retracted. I'm closing my tab anyway.”
Josiah shrugged with a candid expression and went to go swear at the computer for crashing again.
“Your prince charming has an anger problem with technology, just so you know.”
“Yet another thing we have in common. He is just looking out for you, you know.”
“Ah yes, near stranger. Clearly you know the man you want to fuck so badly so much better than his friend of many years,” she put some extra bite into her words. She was feeling vulnerable, and there were few things that she hated more. Although being babysat came in close second.
Klavier narrowed his eyes. “Do you want their number or not?”
“Not. It won't work out. It never does.” She felt the emptiness gnawing on her insides like it usually did. It was time to go home, find her cat Lumi and curl up into a ball. She opened the taxi app on her phone and hit the *send to my location* button. It pinged.
“Leaving already?” Josiah returned with her credit card and a slip for her to sign. She tipped him anyway.
“Yep. I've got a date with loneliness, you know how it is. For me anyway. Have fun you two. And Josiah, if you dare try to give me a play by play i won't hesitate to throw up all over your bar.”
The bartender made a concerned face. “Did you at least get the number of Klavier's lesbian?”
“Ooh, do not call her that. If anyone owns I guillotine I am positive their name is Franziska Von Karma.”
“Wait. Why is that name familiar?” She turned, her voice was softer than before.
“Oh right, you're a forensicist so perhaps you know their brother, Prosecutor Edgeworth?”
Josiah gave her a look like he'd won the lottery. “she’s currently just a detective studying to be a forensicist. But Yes, Ema. Perhaps you know this Edgeworth?”
“Oh God, don't remind me. The ghosts of compulsive heterosexuality are supposed to remain buried.”
Klavier gave her an incredulous look. “What about heterosexuality?”
“Back when I thought I was straight,” Ema started.
Josiah gave an enthusiastic “ha!”
“He and Phoenix Wright helped exonerate my sister. And Because he was kind and emotionally unavailable, I believed i fancied him. Because I didn't know what having a crush on someone actually felt like. I'm sure I made a fool of myself regardless. Wait, why am I telling you any of this?”
“Booze!” Josiah echoed from across the bar, and she sighed.
“Obviously I didn't have any feelings towards him, but the Lesbian hadn't jumped out at me yet so I was at a loss. And your supposed date is his sibling ? I didn't even know he had one.”
“I see. No offense, but considering how adverse prosecutor Edgeworth is to affection of any kind, it sounds like you really picked the perfect non-crush. makes me want to laugh. Not at you, at the circumstance.”
“Oh, go ahead,” Ema replied in a voice that suggested he should do anything but.
Klavier blinked, and tried to pretend that aspect of the conversation had never happened. “yes, well. Don't let their connection to Edgeworth be the reason that you get cold feet. If you don't want their number, perhaps I could give yours? I can't guarantee success though. Every time I cross Franziska's path I get a serious case of cold shoulder.”
“Why are you helping me? It's not like I've been nice to you,” ema spoke softly.
“Truthfully? Initially it was to make up for mistaking you as a twink. Now, I think it's because you opened up to me and are a wonderful conversationalist. Maybe even a friend.”
Ema shot him a look.
“Josiah, help me out here. Does that mean she hates my guts, or that she considers me a colleague?”
Josiah mirrored Ema's look back at her until they both broke into laughter. “Both. She's a tough nut to crack, but if she really hated you, you'd know .”
Klavier cleared his throat, and pulled out a ten dollar bill to set on the bar. “ A tip, since Ema declined to do so.”
“Oh, put your money away, of course I actually tipped.”
The rockstar smiled. “I knew it! You are all soft on the inside.”
Ema's phone beeped, notifying her that the taxi was already here. “that's my ride. It was...nice meeting you Klavier. Even if you are a bit of a fop.” She made sure she had her phone, keys, and wallet before sliding off the bar stool.
“Ema. Give me your number.” Klavier held out his phone on a blank contact page.
She caved and entered it. Somehow the responsive clack from the keys was fitting. It also made her gut swirl with something she couldn't distinguish as anxiety or excitement.
“This better not be some ignorant attempt to try and date me,” she said hollowly, using the words as a plunger to push down any hope or expectations about Franziska Von Karma.
“You know it's not,” Klavier said with a sadness that made Ema want to leave even faster. The last thing she wanted was pity. Nowadays It seemed like the only part of her social life that wasn't in short supply. She waved at Josiah, who was just about to finish his shift, and tried not be jealous of the night he had ahead of him. Somehow the genuine smiles the two men shared made her feel all the more empty.
She breathed a sigh of relief when the cab driver was a woman, after all it was getting late and it meant one less thing to keep on her mind during the silent ride home. She tipped extra anyway, and grabbed her mail on the way back to the apartment.
Lumi was waiting by her food bowl, and she fed the chatty cat before feeling her phone buzz. It was a message from an unknown number.
The message was short: 'Franziska Von Karma: 741-555-6422. -Klavier’
She smiled, and burst into tears. She wasn't used to this kindness, and the hope she'd been trying to suppress burst out with a warmth so strong it was almost painful.
The tears confused her. She couldn't pinpoint the emotion that was flowing out of her with such force. So, being the scientist that she was, she grabbed a nearby slide and caught a couple. They had to dry, so she readied herself for bed, and to her surprise, she fell asleep rather quickly.
She woke up again at four in the morning, and felt the science bug itching to go. She readied the slide with a coverslip and put it into her microscope. Her tears looked like a neuron, branching out in multiple places. She sat back with wonder and pulled up the images from Rose-Lynnfisher's experiment. The fractals matched one image labeled Tears of Elation at a Liminal Moment. She really was growing and changing. She smiled tiredly in the room only lit by the microscope and let the words soak in.
Maybe she would send a message to Franziska Von Karma after all.