Opening Bet

by llamajoy

It had been an act of purest optimism, applying to Gavin & Associates fresh out of law school, before even passing the Bar. Apollo figured he'd sent out more than two dozen resumes, and Gavin's was precisely the last firm he ever expected to hear from. But in some cosmic Murphy's Law twist, here he stood, outside Geschwindigkeit's Cafe, meeting Mr. Gavin himself for an interview.

An interview, for God's sake.

He straightened his tie (again) and walked in from the glare, into the cool, shady cafe. It took his eyes just a moment to adjust, and then he saw Gavin sitting in the back corner booth, looking from him down to his watch, with an utterly unreadable expression on his face. Apollo knew he was early, but not till that moment did it occur to him that maybe he was too early, that it could count against him as much as for him. Sweat prickled under his collar. "Attorney Gavin, sir?"

Kristoph Gavin's ice blue eyes flicked down to Apollo's bracelet. "Do you always wear jewelry?"

Wrong foot, right off the bat. Apollo blanched, but tried to make a recovery. "A token from my-- my late mother, sir." He knew it was a little soon to play the sympathy card (having no notion of how the older man would react), but it was the only thing he could think of to say. He wasn't good at lying off the cuff-- which was probably obvious now. He tried to keep his face neutral, wondering how much Gavin could read him.

"Hm," Gavin said. "Sentimentality may not be a desirable quality in an attorney, I believe. Will you sit?"

Obediently he sat, wondering if the interview was over even before it began. All the mock interviews that he'd run through online, and not a one had covered this eventuality. Ah well. It's not as though he'd really expected to make the cut, so he shouldn't have been so disappointed. He thought he'd make one more attempt, though, to make it worth his trip. He shifted his weight in the cushy booth bench, sat up straight. "It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Gavin."

One blond eyebrow raised, Gavin smiled a minuscule smile. "You're quite early, Mr. Justice."

That one he had an answer for, only rehearsed about a hundred times in his mind. "Yes, sir! I take the bus, so I'm dependent on the transit schedule. I'd rather be fifteen minutes early than one minute late."

It was obviously the right answer. Gavin nodded, his approval evident in his face, and Apollo remembered to breathe. "You've not yet taken the Bar examination, I understand?"

"Correct, sir. I graduated law school last month, and I sit for the Bar in two weeks. But in law school they always recommended seeking employment prior to the test itself..." his voice floundered as he realized how weak that sounded. "It was my understanding," he said, "that you were seeking a law clerk, and I believe I qualify for the job. Sir."

A waitress materialized at Apollo's elbow, startling him. "Here you are, sir, as you ordered." she said, delivering two drinks and setting them on the table directly between them. One was a black coffee, the other looked like a caramel frap, lots of whipped cream. She'd put them down in such a way that Apollo had no clue whose was whose. Was it some sort of a test? How was Apollo supposed to react to this? Black coffee for a hard-boiled, bitter style, frappuccino some sort of code for a fluffy, saccharine, ineffectual worker? Was it supposed to be some sort of statement? Or did it mean nothing at all?

He opted for sincerity, even if it sounded a bit foolish. "Er, which is mine, sir?"

"I took the liberty of calling your references, Mr. Justice," Gavin said, by way of explanation. "Your adviser mentioned that you took your coffee black."

He nodded. "Y-yes, sir!"

"He also mentioned that you had the highest LSAT score of anyone in your class." Gavin meticulously ripped the paper from a straw, and took the floofy coffee drink for himself. So much for first impressions.

Apollo blushed, but nodded. "I take the law very seriously, sir."

It might have been a lame line, but Gavin smiled that tiniest of smiles again. Maybe it was all the whipped cream he was drinking. "Very good, Mr. Justice. So do I. Can you start on Monday next?"

Apollo didn't choke on his joe, but it was a near thing. "Yes! I mean, of course, if I were--"

"You are," Gavin said smoothly. "My case load has gotten heavier of late, and I find I require an assistant. You realize your duties will be primarily administrative, of course."

"It would be an honor, sir!"

"And your coffee tastes are relatively inexpensive, so it would seem you won't be much of a burden on the office." Sure Apollo had had a lot of caffeine so far today, but he didn't think he was imagining the twinkle in Gavin's eye. Was he actually teasing him? Defense attorney Gavin, Aryan perfection and unblemished court record, wasn't renowned for his sense of humor. "The office opens at eight thirty; I will expect you promptly at eight twenty-five."

"Eight twenty-five," Apollo echoed, wondering how his coffee had vanished so quickly (or Gavin's for that matter; the man was discreetly licking his lips over an empty cup). "Thank you very much, sir."

"Oh, don't thank me yet." Gavin didn't crack a smile as he stood, but the way he leaned in to their booth was ever-so-slightly conspiratorial. "You've not seen your workload yet."

"I look forward to it!"

Gavin nodded and stepped back outside into the sunshine. When Apollo attempted to pay the waitress for his coffee, she said that the other man had already covered him-- and instructed her to give him bus fare for the ride home! Apollo honestly had never had someone in a restaurant hand him money for patronizing the establishment, and took the change with a bewildered sort of gratitude.

It took the whole twenty minute bus ride before the reality of things sunk in, and the elated adrenaline turned into a dull sort of panic. He resolved to spent the next two weeks studying nonstop, as there was no way he could afford to fail the Bar exam now.


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