Second Guitar

by Tenshi

Apollo told Trucy that he had some paperwork to clear up, and she had better go ahead and take the bus back to the office. He usually rode with her as far as the next to last stop before the offices, when he got off and walked the two blocks to his apartment, but this time he made excuses and what he hoped were knowledgeable gestures towards Machi Tobaye's clearance paperwork. Trucy had homework and school the next day. Apollo would see her tomorrow afternoon. No really, he'd be fine to finish up. Really, it'd be very boring.

She agreed at last, looking a bit more hurt than convinced, but Apollo hadn't wanted to tell her his plans outright. The moment he got done in the courthouse, he was going to go to the bar across the street and drink himself right under the table. It was not an admirable goal, but it was the one he had, and he intended to meet it.

Honestly, after the last case, he wasn't sure he could sleep otherwise. His spine had been stiff with stress for the last three days straight, and to his mind the only way to make it relax involved liberal amounts of Guinness.

After spooling off several yards of red tape, and watching an eager Machi Tobaye sign forms as though they were autograph requests, Apollo felt a little bit better. He'd never seen anyone so delighted to be charged as an accomplice to smuggling. But after all, the most Machi would see of that would be a fine. He was likely to avoid any more serious penalties on that kind of offense, and Lamiroir had already posted his new, lower bail without a blink. He would be staying with her in the hotel until the next trial. And after that, well. Apollo had been happy to give Machi instructions for requesting political asylum. He would not be returning to Borginia, but he would not be executed for murder, either.

By the time Apollo came out of the courthouse he no longer felt the need to get absolutely plastered, but he still reasoned that he'd earned at least one beer, and maybe one of those nice Reuben burgers. The street was blurry with rain that felt too cold for July, and he dashed across the crosswalk to the striped awning of the Gavel and Scales. He paused a moment before going in, stomping the water off his shoes. It was only then that he noticed the lean purple contours of a motorcycle propped half-heartedly under the awing, rain plinking on the leather seat in a way that could only be described as forlorn.

"I guess you need a drink even more than I do," Apollo muttered, and stepped into the close, noisy confines of the bar.

The Gavel and Scales had been the watering hole of choice for courthouse employees time out of mind, so much that it still insisted on smelling of smoke even though smoking in bars had been outlawed decades ago. It boasted a long history, no less than three ghosts, a marble bar that had lived through the fires of Prohibition, and small leather-covered booths where people could sit intimately close or be left the hell alone.

For Klavier Gavin, sequestered in a far corner with his back to the wall and several empty shot glasses in front of him, it was obviously the latter. Everything about him radiated unwelcome, and even the waitress bringing over another glass did not linger to ask what else he might want. It was not that he seemed angry, though Apollo supposed he had every right to be. It was more a display of bleak despair, the sort that could drive a man to Jägermeister and leaving his precious bike at the mercy of the elements. The bar was as dim as a cave, but Klavier the rock star had his sunglasses on. They made him look cool and indifferent, but Apollo wondered if anyone else there suspected just how much he was grieving.

Apollo knew he should just leave him alone.

Instead he found himself staging an intervention.

"Hey, Gavin."

Well, Apollo admitted to himself, maybe not very much of an intervention.

Klavier looked up at him over the rim of his sunglasses. He still looked like himself: that is, like Prosecutor Gavin, but something about the alcohol in his bloodstream brought Klavier the temperamental rock star very close up to the surface. Apollo did not need any kind of breathalyzer to tell that Klavier was very, very drunk. He didn't say anything, just stared at Apollo as though just looking at something took all the concentration he had.

Apollo swallowed. "Uh, you okay?"

Klavier blinked, and Apollo could have smacked himself in the face for being so stupid. For crying out loud, Justice. The man's best friend practically confessed to murder and obstruction of justice today, of course he's not all right.

"Ach!" Klavier started. "Herr Forehead! I didn't see you there." Klavier's speech was only a tiny bit slurred, and the way his eyes suddenly focused was enough to convince Apollo that Klavier had not, in fact, seen him. Wherever Klavier Gavin's thoughts had been, they were a long way away from the defense lawyer standing uncomfortably at the end of his table.

"Sit sit sit," Klavier continued, waving at the other side of the booth. "All the paperwork is done for our kleine Puppe, ja?"

"Puppy?" Apollo echoed, and then remembered the fragmented bits of German 101 from his first semester of college. Little doll. "Oh, you mean Machi. He'll be fine, I think."

"Gut, ser gut." Klavier lifted his glass, studied its absence of liquid, and scowled. "I should have had them bring the bottle." He looked up at Apollo, still standing. "You are not staying?"

Apollo sat, awkwardly, and the restless motion of his hand was enough to summon over the waitress. She took his order and returned, shortly, with a beer for Apollo and another frost-coated shot-glass for Klavier.

"Are you sure you should--" Apollo began, but Klavier had already tossed back his drink, and then leaned back bonelessly in his seat with his eyes closed.

"I know how much I can drink, Herr Forehead, and it is quite a bit," Klavier said. "I am German, after all." He paused and opened his eyes, but the only thing he looked at was the fan on the ceiling. "I was not the self-destructive member of the band," he added, softly.

"Detective Crescend," Apollo murmured.

Klavier's mouth went tight, and he groped around on the table for his glass. Apollo scooted his beer bottle into range, and Klavier drank from it without any sign that he noticed the change in taste. "I blame myself," Klavier said at last.

"It's not your fault that he decided to blow away an Interpol cop and pin the blame on an innocent kid--"

"It ist mein fault," Klavier said, bringing the bottle down heavily on the table, and fixing Apollo with his glare. "I knew Daryan had ...problems. I never pressed him to talk about them, and I should have. I might have stopped him. I thought it was enough, loaning him money, looking the other way when he undressed and showed off all those little needle-pricks down his arms. He was a good cop once, Forehead, you must believe me." Klavier looked up at Apollo in something like desperation, and Apollo nodded mechanically. He had, in the last ten seconds, learned way more than he ever expected to know about Daryan Crescend, and his relationship with Klavier. "But he should never have been a star. Never. It was too much for him, the fame and the power and the pressure. I thought anyone who could handle a gun could handle three platinum singles in a year-- I was wrong. I wish you could have known him then, I do. You would have liked each other, I think."

Apollo didn't think it was possible for him at any point to like as colossal a dickhead as Daryan Crescend, but he only nodded again. So maybe Daryan was a murderer and a liar without a shred of integrity to his name. Now. But he had been Klavier's friend, and more than that, if Apollo was reading the prosecutor's tone right. He didn't think that bit about undressing had anything to do with changing costumes backstage.

"Ach, but maybe it is just as well you did not." Klavier pushed up his sunglasses with the heel of his hand, rubbing at his eyes. "I was blind. Blind to what he had become. For you, it was easy to see what he was, was it not? Easy to find him guilty."

It hadn't been easy at all, Apollo thought, and Daryan had very nearly gotten away with his crimes, but all he could say was, "I'm sorry."

Klavier waved a hand, upsetting two of his empty shot glasses. Apollo righted them without thinking. "Ah, well. It is a good thing then, that bassists are so easy to come by. Do you play, Herr Forehead?"

"M-me?" Apollo stammered. For a second he wished wildly that he did, if only to fill the vacancy in Klavier's life that he felt personally responsible for making. "No, I--well, in high school I played clarinet in band, but that really doesn't count..."

"No matter," Klavier said, with a regal gesture. "In fact, I am wondering now if this isn't the end for us. For the Gavinners. We will not easily recover from this blow." He sighed. "So many girls liked Daryan, you know. He had that bad boy appeal, but at the same time, he was a cop and a good guy, or so it seemed. Down they went in droves for him. How it will break their hearts when they hear of this."

"What about your heart, Klavier?" Apollo said.

Klavier looked at him a long moment, almost smiling. "I am," he said, "not near drunk enough to talk about that, mein Herr."

"I think you're drunk enough, period," Apollo said. The waitress approached with his burger, and Apollo gave her a twenty to pay for it, and an apologetic gesture. "I'm sorry, could you bag that to go, for me? I need to take my friend home."

The waitress had been serving hotshot lawyers for too long to be swayed by the latest prettyboy prodigy from the head prosecutor's office, and she nodded. "Good. I didn't want to think about him taking that bike of his home, in his state. They'd be mopping him up off the highway."

Apollo shuddered.

"I can get home on my own, Herr For-"

"My name," Apollo said, through his teeth, "is Apollo, and if you're going to get any drunker than this you can at least do it in private. And before you even think about driving that oversized dildo of yours home, you better remember that a lot more fangirls will cry if you wrap yourself around a tree than they will for Daryan Crescend getting booked for murder in the first. Even worse if it happens on the same night."

There was nothing to break the staredown between the two of them. No judge held court here, and even the waitress had gone back behind the bar to wrap up Apollo's burger. Eventually though, it was Klavier who looked away, fishing in the pocket of his coat for a heart-shaped key ring that Apollo had seen way too many times in the past three days.

"Here then. Much as it pains me to ride bitch on my own bike--"

"I can't drive your bike," Apollo said, picking up the white paper bag that the waitress had deposited on the table. "Besides, it's raining. I'll call us a cab. Keep your keys."

There was a taxi waiting at the curb, the driver preoccupied with the evening newspaper. Machi Tobaye stared out from the front page, his press photo impassive over the words "Acquittal in Bizarre Guitar Murder Trial."

Klavier, sliding into the back of the car, might have laughed under his breath. "I was barely seventeen," he said, "and I once killed a man with a Fender guitar."

Apollo answered, in spite of himself. "I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster," he said, and was glad for Klavier's unsteady smile.

"So! There is hope for you after all, ja? Ninth and Isaacs," he added to the cabbie, and fell back into the seat. Shut up in the cab with Klavier Gavin, the tiny space smelled of stale leather, Apollo's hot burger, and Klavier's cologne mingled with alcohol. With the downpour outside, it was somehow very cozy.

It got even cozier when Klavier was lulled to sleep by rain, the motion of the car, a respectable blood-alcohol level, and what Apollo suspected was several nights of very little rest. He slid down against Apollo, his head on the other attorney's shoulder, the perfect blond coil of his hair getting caught the golden pin on Apollo's vest lapel. Apollo tried to free it, but instead his hands just got tangled up in fine strands as pale and soft as winter sunlight.

Klavier sighed something German in his sleep and Apollo looked out the window, pretending not to notice what his hands were doing in Klavier's hair. He yanked them away fast enough when the cab stopped in front of a row of respectable brick townhouses, in a part of town that Apollo had no hopes of staying in unless maybe his bus broke down. Klavier woke up and stretched as though Apollo had been no more interesting to nap on than a sofa, and waved aside Apollo's cash for the cab fare.

"No, really, I should just catch the bus from here..."

"Nein, nein. I've taken you far out of your way, and your dinner will get cold. Come inside and eat before you go, ja?"

Apollo didn't really have much choice, as he had to get out of the cab to let Klavier out, and then Klavier made a point of sending the cab on its way at once before Apollo could protest. Apollo stared after it a moment, but Klavier was holding a cast-iron gate open for him, and Apollo had no choice but to follow him up the carefully manicured front walk.

Klavier's house, as expected, was very expensive and very open-plan and very purple. The living room featured a u-shaped sofa like some sort of violet leather-covered wharf, with a glass coffee table of a yacht docked in it. The wall art was all black and white cityscapes with one massive purple modern painting that looked like a bruise. A beautiful, heart-shaped bruise. The kind of bruise inflicted by lost love, the kind of bruise you could write a six-weeks-straight-at-#1 kind of song about. A Klavier Gavin kind of bruise.

"Darjeeling?" he asked. "Cream, sugar?"

Apollo yanked himself out of the purple and gold swirls of the painting. "Eh? Oh! Yes, please. Cream. No sugar."

Klavier busied himself in the black marble kitchen, only a very little bit unsteady on his feet. Apollo thought there might yet be something to those boasts of his alcohol tolerance. While his host hummed and clattered in the cabinets, Apollo took a closer look at the photographs lined up on the mantle.

These, too, were black and white, in modern rimless frames to keep with the room decor, but they were no artsy angles of skylines and fire escapes. Snapshots, as candid and personal as anyone else's, rock star or no. A laughing pair of boys looked up from a half-competed sand-castle, both of them too pretty to be allowed. Apollo himself had always been a pasty kind of kid, but even in the black and white photo, it was obvious the boys were as golden as the namesake Apollo could never live up to. With a jolt Apollo recognized Kristoph Gavin in the older boy's face. He picked up the frame and studied the frozen image of his old mentor, trying to find in his clear eyes the murderer he would become. It was no use. This Kristoph Gavin was just a young boy on holiday, knee-deep in sandy battlements, a band-aid on the back of his right hand. Apollo put the picture frame back with a sigh. Poor Klavier, he thought. All those hit singles must be cold comfort when your brother and your best friend both turn out to be killers.

Kristoph was in several of the photos on the mantle, aging ahead of his younger brother. He was already looking like the Kristoph Gavin Apollo had known while Klavier was still a kid, smiling toothily and decked out in a leather jacket and microphone for some long-lost Halloween.

One of the frames, however, was tilted face-down on the mantle.

Apollo looked around guiltily, but Klavier was doing something arcane in the kitchen with loose-leaf tea and a pot that looked like it belonged in a chemistry set. Curiosity won over, and he tipped the frame up to look at the picture.

Without the outrageous rock-star hairdo and the shark leather jacket, it took Apollo a moment to recognize Daryan Crescend. He and Klavier were seated around a metal table in the police department, at what looked like the end of a very long night. Paper coffee cups and files littered the table, and both of the men looked haggard and yet too young at the same time. But they were smiling, wan and triumphant, at whomever was taking the photo. Daryan was sitting with his chair backwards, Klavier had one hand in his short-cut hair. Apollo flipped the frame around, to look through the clear glass at the back of the photo. Written on it, in Klavier Gavin's unmistakable autograph-hand, was the date, seven years ago. Guilty verdict for murder in the first degree, for all seven perpetrators of the Gutslit Slayings. Underneath it, in smaller print, it said, also, first songwriting session for the Gavinners' debut album.

Apollo flipped the photo back over, and felt his heart contract. They looked so close, in the picture. Tired and overworked but happy, optimistic. Looking at the face in the photograph, Apollo believed what Klavier had said. He would have liked this Daryan Crescend. He slid the frame back as he had found it, face-down on the mantle, like the lid of a tomb.

"Must be nice to have your bike to go back and forth," Apollo said, aloud. "Guess you can come home for breaks in court proceedings, or for lunch or whatever."

Klavier was leaning down into his fridge, drumming his fingers on the door to a rhythm only he heard. "Ach, nein. Traffic, it is so bad around here. I go into work in the morning and don't get back here until late, most nights. But the courthouse cafeteria, it does good wraps. Have you ever had the sesame tofu one?"

Apollo looked at the face-down photo again. Klavier had turned it over, deliberately, before court that day. Before Daryan's confession.

Klavier had already known.

Somehow, that knowledge only made Apollo sad. If you couldn't believe in your friends, in your family, who could you believe in? Nobody but yourself, and the ghosts on your mantelpiece.

"I thought you would already be eating," Klavier said, suddenly very close.

Apollo jumped, startled. Klavier was standing next to him, with an engraved glass teacup in hand. There were small artful chocolate biscuits on the saucer. "Oh! I ah, I totally forgot about dinner."

"A good Reuben burger is not a thing to neglect," Klavier said, tsking. "Here, take this and go over to the sofa--"

"I can't eat on the sofa," Apollo protested. "What if I spill something? It'll get all over the leather and I'll have to buy you a new one and that thing must have cost like a million dollars--"

"Ach, I got it on clearance at IKEA. You would not believe how many people don't buy purple furniture. I'm always getting deals on my decor." Klavier flashed him that rockstar smile of his, and Apollo, diminished under it, picked up his greasy takeout bag and went to do as he was told.

The burger was squashy, and messy, and had oozed sauce and sauerkraut all over the wrapper. There was no way to eat it with dignity, not even if Klavier Gavin had not been sitting right across from him, sipping his sugar-but-no-cream tea and watching.

"Um," Apollo said, doing his best with the one valiant napkin the waitress had packed for him. "Sorry, this is hardly a first date food."

"I'd much rather watch someone eating something that they obviously enjoy," Klavier said. "It's much better than the other way around. Have you ever been on a date with a model? Pick pick pick at lobster croquettes as though they had glass shards in them, nudging a twenty-five dollar slice of gold-leafed cheesecake around the plate, always in mortal fear of eating a microbe of anything that might make them fat. Feh."

"Sorry," Apollo said blackly, wiping sauce off his chin, "I don't have the option of dating models."

"Don't waste your time. Or your money. Find a nice girl and go out for a chili dog and a loud rock concert. It's better all around." Klavier took a sip of his tea, and Apollo chewed at his burger in something like vengeance. Either one of those dates was a cosmic impossibility for him, at the rate he was going.

But all he said was, "Aren't you hungry?"

Klavier shrugged. "Honestly, I'm content to smell it. I've had to lay off the red meat lately. I had a salad back before I went to the bar. At least, I think I did." He looked thoughtful. "I don't really remember."

"Health nut, huh?" Apollo grinned. "What was that about chili dogs?"

"Open jealousy," Klavier laughed. "Rocks stars have to keep skinny, you know. For that there are two options. You can turn into an ardent fan of tofu, or--" His smile broke into a thousand pieces, like a mirror stuck by a bullet, and his eyes went unconsciously to the face-down photo on the mantle. "Well. Rock stars. You can guess."

Apollo carefully folded up his burger wrapper. "...was it cocaine?"

Klavier's hand tightened on the cup. "...Among other things."

"I'm sorry, Klavier," Apollo said, giving up on his wrapper origami and crumpling it into a ball.

"Ja," Klavier answered, to his teacup. "Me, too."

Apollo ate the delicious little cookies and drank his tea in the awkward silence, and then cleared his throat. "Well," he said, "thanks for the tea, but I really should be going--"

"Or you could stay," Klavier said, in a tone very different from any other he had used all evening. Apollo felt his face go hot just from the sound of it. He wished he'd left himself some more tea, as his throat had just gone quite dry.

"Um," he said, and coughed. "Look, I might be out of the dating models sphere, but... are you propositioning me?"

Klavier shrugged. "Yes. But I know I shouldn't. I'm drunk, to be honest. Daryan is in jail for murder, and you just happen to be sitting on my sofa with your tie undone." He emptied his cup. "And you deserve better than that."

"Maybe," Apollo said. Klavier's hair was mussed against the golden line of his throat, and Apollo couldn't help remembering how it had felt in his hands. "But you know, what good is it being twenty-two if you can't sleep with someone even when you know it's probably a bad idea?"

"I don't know how much of a bad idea it is," Klavier said. "Just that you deserve better."

Apollo couldn't believe how calmly they were discussing this, as though it was only a matter of court procedure. "Deserve? Come on. You're Klavier Gavin. You're a million miles out of my league."

"Nein," Klavier said, hollowly. "I just realized I don't want to be alone tonight, that's all."

"That's all," Apollo echoed. There it was, out on the table, perfectly reasonable. Klavier was lonely, Apollo was there. No more than that. Apollo looked at Klavier's wrists, and the thick silver hoops in his ears, and the folds his pants made at the top of his thigh. He wished he'd had more than a sip of that beer.

"Will you stay?" Klavier asked, leaning forward, teacup balanced in his fingertips and dangling between his knees. "I can tell you right now, I don't want to talk. But if the answer is no," Klavier lifted one shoulder. "That's fine, too."

It wasn't fine, Apollo thought. It wasn't fine for Klavier to spend the night alone in his expensive, echoing house, it wasn't fine that his brother and best friend both would probably swing for murder. "I'll stay," he said. "If you're sure you want me to. I'm sure you could go out on the street and have your pick of any--"

"I do not," Klavier said, "want to be Klavier Gavin the rock star tonight. And that is all I am to them. Trust me, I am sure, or else I would not have asked." Klavier put his teacup down on the edge of the table, and stood. Apollo thought he should stand up too, to be on at least somewhat even footing, but he didn't think his knees would hold him. What was he doing here? How had this happened, exactly? Did he really want to get fucked, by Klavier Gavin, on what obviously was nothing but a rebound?

Well, said a tiny, malicious voice inside him, you've got to take what you can, Justice. It's not like you're going to get it any other way. And if there's no promises, there's nothing to lose, right? Apollo tried to swallow. Well, nothing except for the one really obvious thing...

Klavier was standing next to him now, but Apollo could only look at his empty teacup on the tabletop. His hands were twisted together in a tight knot, and he was wildly grateful for those chocolate biscuits to leave a bitter cocoa sweetness in his mouth instead of burger aftertaste. Because if Klavier was going to-- if they were--

"Ach," Klavier said, and Apollo could hear him smiling. "You look like a scared rabbit, Herr Forehead."

Apollo opened his mouth to protest, but nothing came out. Klavier had brought his hand down on top of Apollo's head, and ruffled the spikes of his hair that wouldn't stay down with the rest. "See? You even have the ears. But I am no wolf, you know."

"Stop that," Apollo said, reaching up. "You don't have to treat me like a little--" Apollo's voice broke off, mid-protest. Klavier was not treating him like a little kid, after all. Klavier had in fact caught Apollo's hand in his own, and lifted it to his mouth to kiss his knuckles. Apollo felt his face burning, and wondered if Klavier was really so hard up for company that he would pick a weedy little defense lawyer to ease his loneliness.

"I can hear you now," Klavier said, "You don't even have to say anything." He sighed, and it tickled like ghostly fingertips over the back of Apollo's hand. "Do you think I think so much of myself? That I will only have, I don't know, other rock stars in my bed with me?"

"Frankly," Apollo said, "yes."

"Ah, you wound me, Herr Forehead." There was something in the annoying nickname that was almost endearing. "Perhaps it is that I will only have other lawyers in my bed. Would you feel so underqualified then?"

"I think I'd still feel underqualified even you said you only liked to sleep with short, brown-haired defense attorneys who have a penchant for red vests."

Klavier laughed, and sprawled down on the sofa next to Apollo. "You are a tough one, you know that?"

"Maybe I just think if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is."

"Or maybe," Klavier said, sliding one hand against Apollo's face, "I will just have to come up with some evidence to prove my motive?"

Apollo shivered. Klavier's hands were warm, and there were tiny calluses on his fingertips from the strings of his guitar. Apollo was going to say that it would have to be some damn good evidence to prove such an unlikely theory, but Klavier leaned forward and presented something that was pretty much irrefutable.

Apollo was not so virginal that he had never been kissed. He'd had his share of teenaged makeout sessions, and plenty of groping around in college, and he liked to think that there really wasn't anything in the mouth-to-mouth department that he would find too surprising. But then, he'd never been kissed by Klavier Gavin before. For all that he protested that he was really a lawyer at heart, there was no getting around the fact that the man kissed like a god damn rock star. He was used to getting what he wanted, and not having to ask for it. He knew he was hot, knew he was good in bed, and had no problems with letting Apollo know that, too. He was greedy, he was ruthless, but not in any way that Apollo could bring himself to mind.

Apollo could not, in fact, get very much beyond Oh god. But then somehow his hands were ravaging the smooth perfection of Klavier's hair, Klavier's perfectly indecent mouth was moving down Apollo's throat, and Apollo made a growl of want that he didn't even recognize as his own.

Klavier chuckled, ticklish at his ear. "Maybe the rabbit is a wolf underneath, hn?"

"I'm no wolf, either," Apollo panted, and felt a current of motion around his neck as Klavier pulled Apollo's tie free, shirt buttons giving way under the onslaught of his guitar-quick fingers.

"Nein? What are you, then?"

"I'm a--ah--defense lawyer..." Apollo managed, but nothing else, as Klavier's mouth had just closed hot and hungry over his nipple, and Apollo's case was completely forfeit. He had no argument to make, no objections, and could only fall back into the yielding purple leather of the sofa with Klavier's heat pressing down on top of him.

Klavier was not so desperate as to rush things. For a long time they lay tangled up together on the couch, mouths meeting and then wandering away some distance over ears and throats and shoulders before meeting up again. Klavier's thigh was wedged up between Apollo's legs, and in Apollo knew he should be mortified at how he ground up against it, trying to ease the burn Klavier had started. At the time though, he could only think that as close as they were, it wasn't near close enough.

When they paused a moment, Apollo was shocked to discover that Klavier's shirt and jacket were gone, shoved off in a wad of designer tailoring on the floor, and Apollo's own hands were frozen, caught in the act of undoing the prosecutor's belt. His thumb, by some other will than Apollo's, clearly, was stroking the thin, groomed trail of gold glittering faintly under Klavier's navel.

"And he says he is such a poor lover," Klavier said, his ragged breathing taking all the mockery out of his words, his lower lip swollen from Apollo's attentions a moment before.

"Er," Apollo began, looking down at his hands as though he wasn't sure how they got there. He was still mostly wearing his shirt and vest, though both were unbuttoned completely and shoved back off his shoulders. Klavier brought one fingertip down over the taut muscles of Apollo's belly, and hooked it into the as-yet still fastened waistband of his pants. "Well?" he prompted. "Are you convinced yet?"

In the purple shadows of the living room, Klavier's belt buckle flashed in Apollo's hand like a star. "Almost," he said, and undid it. The zipper purred open, Apollo's fingers moved past crumpled silk boxers, and then Klavier was arching up in a catlike stretch, a long, low growl in his throat as his swollen cock slid into Apollo's hands.

It was like a shot of the drug that had been Daryan's undoing, that kind of heady gratification. Apollo's breath caught even as his hands remained greedy, stroking the rigid weight of Klavier's need, moving his hand down to cup the heavy softness of his balls. He had a ring in the tip, a hot little band of thick silver, and Apollo's fingers couldn't leave it alone. Apollo remembered the way Klavier's earrings had tasted in his mouth, and wondered if this one would taste the same: warm metal and salt.

Klavier swore, some phrase in German that Apollo did not know, and fell forward on top of him. He could no longer spare his hands to hold himself up; they were needed instead for the very vital task of ripping into the front of Apollo's pants and freeing his cock from its confinement. Apollo pressed back into the sofa with a groan, his hands tightening on Klavier even as his own hips lifted upwards.

"We will have time later for the pretty things," Klavier said, freeing one hand and fumbling for an ornate wooden box on the glass coffee table. "But I'm not very patient right now."

It occurred to Apollo that any man who kept condoms and lube so handy was a man used to fucking on his couch, and that he, Apollo, should be scandalized to just be one among the many. All he cared about at the moment, however, was that Klavier kept pumping his cock in his silver-ringed, guitar-callused hands. Warnings tried to surface as Klavier shoved Apollo's pants down, but Apollo ignored them. He knew what he was getting into, and more importantly, what Klavier was getting into, and quite honestly the sooner the better.

"You've done this before?" Klavier asked, flipping down the lid of the box, pump-bottle and foil wrapper in hand.

"I'm very good at faking expertise," Apollo said, admiring the way Klavier's cock jutted up just so in the frame of his pants.

"Nein, Herr Forehead," Klavier laughed. "I won't have you faking anything with me. Not evidence--" there was a quick motion in his teeth and then the foil packet was torn open, and his cock sheathed in a coat of iridescent violet latex, "and not in the noises I want to hear you making."

The lubricant on Klavier's fingers was cold, and the sudden invasion of them in Apollo's ass was enough to wake up a fleet of butterflies in his stomach. There was a split-second of panic, of almost saying no, of Jesus Christ, Justice, are you out of your mind, but then Klavier's slick fingers had pushed up and in, stretching a ring of muscle that Apollo had never taken much notice of before. He noticed it now. Noticed it like there had never been any other part of him but this, and the way it was suddenly compromised, and the sweet explosive pleasure of Klavier's fingertips pressing just so up inside him.

He made a sound of some kind, he wasn't even sure what. But it was wild and it was desperate, and Klavier's grin was almost feral. "Ja, noises just like that."

Apollo's only answer was the sound of his fingernails dragging over the surface of Klavier's couch. He thought he was going to be fucked like that, on his back like the proverbial virgin, but Klavier fell back against the couch cushions and pulled Apollo with him, so that Apollo found himself suddenly on top. Klavier was tousled and beautiful, his hair scattered in a pale wave on the leather, his thumbs pressing little circles above Apollo's hipbones. "Now," he breathed. "Let's see if you can take what I give you. It will be up to you if it's too much, this way."

Apollo shifted his weight, and the slick, latex-covered tip of Klavier's evidence nudged up against his asshole. The metal ring was hot even through the latex, a tiny ring of hardness. "I can take anything you can dish out, Prosecutor Gavin," he said, through his teeth, and let his weight push him down, impaling himself on the cock underneath him. Klavier's breath hit hard against the back of his teeth, and he couldn't stop his own answering motion, shoving up as Apollo moved down, every bit as eager. Klavier's hands were twined together around Apollo's on his cock, pumping in time to the rhythm Apollo chose.

It was too late now to take things slowly. The sofa creaked underneath them as they rocked together on top of it, and Apollo felt the dull ache building into a wave, one that threatened to overtake him, to pull him under and drown him. He was fighting it, on instinct, until Klavier canted his hips at a slightly different angle. He was after his own pleasure, evident in the desperation of his thrusts, but it was Apollo's undoing. He said Mein Gott and he said Ich kommen, but it was the broken sound of Apollo's name--his own name--that ended it. Apollo spilled himself all over their tangled fingers and the shivering planes of Klavier's belly, falling forward and gasping Klavier's name, confessing to crimes long held silent in the crashing aftermath of their release.

Apollo woke up in a twist of violet silk sheets, wondering blearily why his ass was cold. It took a few seconds of intense concentration for him to realize that it was because there was nothing on it, not even his boxers. That was because there was nothing on Apollo at all, nothing but the slipping-away sheets and the smell of Klavier Gavin all over his skin. The man himself was asleep on his side next to Apollo, the bedside table clock read twenty minutes after nine, and Apollo lay there and tried to reconcile the morning with the vivid memories of a one-night stand with a rock star.

What was the proper way to do things, anyway? To creep out of bed, gather up his clothes (from their various locations in the bedroom, on the stairs, and by the couch), call himself a cab, and try not to look Klavier Gavin in the eye for a month or two? Or should he go downstairs, make them both coffee, and assume Klavier would still want to admit to his crimes in daylight? Apollo swore, silently. This was why he was a lawyer, dammit. There was a process for everything. But in real life, he couldn't just go look up the previous court decision and go by that. He had to wing it on his own.

"When you are done making up your mind," Klavier said, without rolling over, "maybe you would like to go out for breakfast?" He eyed Apollo over one perfectly golden shoulder, smiling drowsily. "As thanks to you, I have to go and get my bike back, you know. The deli two blocks from the courthouse has good bagels." He stretched. "Or, we could get crepes instead, maybe?"

"I thought I was supposed to write a lipstick note on the mirror and sneak out," Apollo said, tugging up the sheet around his hips and wondering why he was being so modest. The night before Klavier had been face down in everything Apollo was trying to hide. Several times.

"Ja, well, if you really wanted," Klavier flashed him that sleepy, sexy grin, and Apollo punched down the sheet a little more firmly between his legs. Dammit, even first thing in the morning, even with his hair going everywhere and the pillow creases leaving a red stripe across his face, why did he have to be so damn hot?

"But," Klavier continued, "you don't seem the type to carry lipstick."

"Well, uh. No," Apollo admitted.

"Want to borrow some of mine?"

"No! I mean, It would be sort of pointless now--" Apollo checked himself. "You have lipstick?"

"Got to have something to go with the eyeliner, ja?" Klavier kicked one leg free of the blankets and sprawled back in the pillows, sheet riding low around his hipbone. Apollo tried to find somewhere else to look, without any luck.

"Look, Prosecutor Gavin, I know you're trying to be gallant and all but--"

"Aaaach, it's Prosecutor Gavin now, is it?" Klavier lifted both his eyebrows in mock-alarm. "Now who is it who's trying to be gallant? Do you think I kick lovers out of my bed in the morning, and never speak to them again?"

"Truthfully," Apollo said, "yes."

Klavier put a hand to his heart. "You and your fatal barbs, Herr Forehead! Have mercy. Have you forgotten what I told you about my guitars?"

"Your guitars?" Apollo said, trying to follow this apparent non sequitur. "When? After it burst into flames?"

"Nein, no more of that one. I meant, when you came to visit me in my office, a few days ago. You recall?"

Apollo did recall the Prosecutor's office, and how it looked like it belonged to a music executive instead of a district attorney. There was the sleek expensive furniture, and the walls full of guitars, that Klavier had said were "your lovers," Apollo said, mostly to himself.

"You do remember! My instruments, they are like lovers. To be handled carefully, to be chosen carefully." His voice pitched deeper, and a dozen memories came along with the sound of it. Apollo was blushing even before Klavier put his hand on Apollo's thigh, underneath the sheet. "Do you think I would play an instrument once, claim I knew all there was to know of it, and never put my fingers to its strings again? Ach, nein. I am an even more devoted musician than I am an attorney, you know. And that should tell you enough."

"It doesn't tell me anything," Apollo grumbled, but his sulk came out muffled, as Klavier leaned over to kiss the corner of his mouth.

"Then you are not listening," Klavier whispered. "I'm asking you, do you want crepes for breakfast, or do you want bagels?"

"I, uh." Apollo looked down, at the motion of the sheet between his legs, where Klavier was doing something very interesting with his fingers under the covers. "Maybe... maybe I'm a crappy guitar."

Klavier laughed against his ear. "I may have only played you one night, but it was enough to know that that is not true." His fingers tightened, and Apollo hissed at the pleasant wave of warmth Klavier was squeezing into him. "Your sound is sweet. All you want, mein Herr, is a little bit of playing."

Apollo's answering noise was mingled disbelief and surrender. The sheets were shoved back, Apollo's cock was enveloped in the wet heat of a slow, hungry mouth, and Apollo found himself headfirst, literally, in another jam session with Klavier Gavin.

Before the pleasure disconnected coherent thought, it occurred to Apollo that really, it was only the natural order of things. When one guitar was destroyed, Klavier had to pick up another one. No matter how much he had liked the first, there would be no getting it back. Another would have to be found that would service, and at once. He couldn't be a rock star without an instrument.

Klavier started to hum one of his own melodies, a thrumming vibration down in the back of his throat, and Apollo sprawled back in the sheets and let himself be played.


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