Note : I'm sorry if I've offend anyone with my portray of this place in NY. I've never even left the country, much less go to America, and the only things I know of NY I know from playing games set there, or reading about it in books. I'm not talking about the main city area, obviously, but somewhere vaguely uh...Around? Once, again, I'm sorry if I upset anyone in describing such a seedy place. x_x
Summary : To summarize, this is a story of Apollo before, during, and up to his first case in AJ: AA. This is the first chapter, and the rest goes on to tell his story - the way he felt during and after the case and all the drama of his pre-lawyer life- etc. And no, there will be no pairings, even if the story mostly revolves around Apollo and Kristoph. There will be an OC mentioned in this chapter, which will become one of the main characters in another story of mine soon, and a little bit of him will be slotted in here, for the fun of it.
Caution : Extremely long descriptions. Boring as heck. God knows I fell asleep writing this. Mild swearing in later chapters.
Disclaimer : Polly, and his horns belong to Capcom. Kristoph and his smexy butt belongs to Capcom too.
I'm knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door.
I : When the saints come calling.
The Institute of Saintly Light for the Protection of Children, was something that had never and will never live up to the name. It was placed on a corner of the darkest, seediest corner of New York, and walking into these kind of places was not something normal folk did. Even the people who lived on that street avoided walking on it – they sleep in their houses, stay there, and when the absolutely have to leave, they pull their caps down and wrap their coats around, stuffing their hands into their pockets and walk as fast as they can without looking downright suspicious.
The building itself was no saviour to the condition of the street in which it reside on – it was an ugly building, one built with a few spare coins by some senator desperate to raise his rating above the rock-bottom point by building himself an orphanage and proving himself to the press that he was a 'Champion of the people'. It was an ugly building, it bears repeat, because there is nothing beautiful or even bearable about it. It was a dismal, miserable building built on a square piece of ground – the construction didn't even have to apply a permit for, because no one cared about it and no one knows who owned it, not even perhaps, the owner itself – brick by red brick stacked onto each other to form a square building of square diameters ran by square people with no architectural incline of any form . If someone bothers to find out the exact measurement of it, the person would realize that the entire building inched to the left, slanted as though even it cannot bear the sight of itself and slowly, through the evolution of time, have recoiled in disgust of itself. It resembled a factory, with it's red brick walls stacked in uniformed shape, and that was, in the opinion of everyone that resided in it, true because it was a factory – a facility to shape young children unlucky enough to be in it into miserable adults to be let loose onto society. Even the administrators cannot argue that.
One of those unlucky children is Apollo Justice, who at the age of 16 has spent 8 years – exactly half the years of his life in that institute and had shown no signs of leaving soon.
There are only three ways to leave the institute before you reach the age of 21 and leave the place officially to become a lying, dishonest member of society – One, you commit a crime. This was a simple thing to do, and many of the children in that place, past and present had done it, whether with intention to leave or not, none could say. Many had joined the local gangs and committed misdemeanours, stealing, fighting, underaged drinking etcetera and got themselves arrested. This of course, provides the Institute with a reason to expel them, which they do without fail and without feel, and then they wash their hands, as if to get rid of the bad smell of said person's file and go to lunch.
The second way was much simpler - be born really smart, and with a talent for all sorts of things intellectual and smart and get yourself shipped off. That was the second way, and so far none of the people here had managed to do it except for Kazaf Devereux, a legend among the residents of the Institute. That kid was a world-class cyber-criminal, had amassed himself a whole arm-long resumé of fraud, hacking, and every conceivable crime possible on the net, at least, up till he was dragged off by officers who finally managed to track him down. While it doesn't seem much different from method one for the adults, it was a big difference for the residents. The kid was a legend. He may have went, but he definitely went with a bang. They all wanted to be like him.
Method number three seems the most logical, the most beneficial, but it was harder even than being born Einstein – get adopted. The reason for the amazingly low adoption rate in that neighbourhood was simple – no one really wanted kids. They have more than enough of them – hell, some of the kids wandering around the Institute probably had parents out there, parents who hadn't wanted them, who had left them to fend for themselves. Couples who can't have kids are rare, and even if there were, all they had to do was lean over the fence and ask their neighbours in a sweet tone - "Can I have your newborn baby please, Mrs XXX?" - and they'll get a baby. As if it wasn't already hard enough to find a couple willing to adopt, finding decent, white-collar ones was even harder – most who turn up had too many problems for even the wardens to discharge them a child.
And so every time there was a potential parent visiting the Institute, the children find themselves scrubbed and washed and polished and put into their Sunday's best, all lined up in the dining hall, ready for the visitor's inspection like vegetables in the market. It was happening right now.
Apollo stood at the end of the line, his palms clammy and sweaty. He fought the urge to wipe his forehead with his brown, coarse sleeve – it wasn't good form to give the impression that he was a sweater. Taking a peek down the line, he could see that a lot of the children lined up were having a similar dilemma, most were biting their lips, some were openly sweating. All were nervous. Oh, there were some that leaned back and flipped their dyed black hair over their face and pretended they don't care but Apollo could SEE what was really going on in their heads. They all wanted to be adopted, one and all.
It was like a shining plate of roasted meatloaf held above your head after ten whole years of eating 'nutritious' gruel. You either want it or you want it. Everyone here would kill the person next to them gladly without a second thought to get a family.
Tip, tap, tip tap. The Potential Saviour from Dumpy Institutes's shoes were tapping on the cement floor, making a clicking sound every time the heel hit the floor.
Today's visitor – the first since June this year, and it's early October already – was a harried looking man who looked like he had been putting one too many hours inro his office job and had gone home one time too many to a nagging, chirping wife. His tied was still on him – he obviously rushed here right after work – though it hanged loosely from his neck. His wife was hanging onto him too, but it was his arm that she hanged onto, with a smile that was somehow too wide and too cheerful at the same time. It was so sunny it was almost fake.
Tip tap, tip tap. The couple's feet slowly tapped down the line that stretched so far it could line the whole dining hall – or the canteen really – and the dining hall was big. Like factory big. They paused and examined a little girl, 8 years of age, and Apollo's pulse spiked.
No! Have they already decided? But that wasn't fair! They hadn't even had a look at him!
He felt silly thinking that, like he was selling himself off or something. But he couldn't resist the thought and his heart going ba-dump, ba-dump in his chest. He wanted this, he realized. He really really wanted this. He wanted to be shipped off to some nice, two-storey house with cramped quarters, and maybe he can have his own room, or share one with a sister. He would love to have a sister.
He wanted to be able to do those things people on television or in books were always doing - playing games, spending Sundays together, going shopping, sharing responsibilities and arguing, yes even arguing - with a family of his own.
He smoothed his hair off his forehead, checking them to see if they were still spiky. Spiky? Yes. Perfect.
Truth was not on his side though, and statistic was even less so. Few couples want children as old as him. They prefer adorable little kids that they can bond with over the years, and who won't have so clear a memory of what life is like outside their household, who would cuddle around their legs like a furry animal and call them 'Mama' and 'Papa' without reserve.
It was okay though. He can hope right? He had a lot of it.
Tip tap, tip tap. The sound was getting on his nerves, which were already frayed in the first place. Why was it taking so long? Down the line he can see them whispering excitedly - well, one of them anyway – over a boy. Zack. Damn. It was good news though, if they were considering Zack. Zack is only one year younger than him, so it meant he still had a chance.
More tapping footsteps. They were getting closer now.
He smoothed his hair, then looked up the moment they got to him and beamed his best Please-Adopt-Me smile and like the rest, said his name.
"Apollo Justice, ma'am!" Only of course, it came out as a shout. A loud shout at that. He could hear snickers from the other kids and felt his face growing hot. Dammit! If that voice of his repulses the woman, he swore he'll swallow a Molotov cocktail and not speak for the rest of his natural life.
He looked up shyly at the lady, but she was smiling at him, and he felt a little better. Maybe he'll stand a chance after all.
She interviewed the last of them, then walk to warden in all his glory of a beer belly and started speaking. Apollo felt his heart going like a racehorse. This was it, this was his big chance – if he could just get himself adopted, he'll get everything he ever wanted – a father, a mo--
"We want that girl, Amelie."
He looked in disbelief at them, mouth agape. He lost his family again.
After all the excitement of the day, all Apollo wanted was to crawl into a hole and die with a book by John Grisham. Maybe The Rainmaker. He liked that one. He wallowed in the room he shared with three other boys for most of the rest of the afternoon – all the rooms in the building were divided so that they would fit two bunk beds for four people – and did just that, minus the dying part.
That was another hope dashed. How many times had it been, these past eight years? Parading down the dining hall in his Sunday best, always smiling, always hoping that somehow, this time, God would be nice to him. His prayers would be answered and he'll get the family he wanted, and he can move on to something better, something worthy of him. Apollo was not a vain or cruel person, but even he knew he was meant for better than a school that had teachers with no interest in teaching them and students who had no interest in learning. Every school day he never failed to show up. Almost every day there was no teacher – they were off smoking or doing god knows what – and he was left with his well-abused textbook. No one here even cared about their future. Or their education. Or even themselves for the matter. All they wanted was to leave. To work. Get married. Get someone to screw. Live. Procreate. Die.
He sulked on it. Rolling around the narrow bed until even he felt ridiculous with his own behaviour. He got up and stare out the window – he had been lucky in getting a first floor room : or perhaps not so since they were only granted to the oldest residents – it was nice weather – the leaves had just started red and gold, and even if the building was ugly, at least the fields outside wasn't. It would be nice to read out there. Having made a decision, he grabbed his book and headed outside.
On Apollo's favourite tree, he had invented - as well as patented it when it was asked of him by the other students – a pulley designed specifically for gangly people like him who can't climb trees to save their lives. His arms were far too long than they should be for his age, and he was always awkward with them – bumping into this and that. But wait. Gangly wasn't a politically correct term. If you called a normal person gangly, his father could sue you for the millions you don't have. No, it was better to call him precocious. Yes, that was what all the wardens – those who still bothered with politically correctness anyway – called him. The others just called him the stick insect.
He pulled the rope a little. Firm. No pranks involving cut rope this time.
The device was a simple mechanism, a piece of plank – a wood, a board, anything- fixed with two lengths of durable thick rope like the kind they use for camping trips like a swing. Then the other end of the rope is thrown across a strong tree branch of the tree you wish the climb, and using a miracle of muscle – or like a Apollo, a fixed pulley wheel he gets a tree-climber to fit into the branch – you slowly pull yourself up. It was a nifty device, and the only thing that can get Apollo onto a tree. He's crap at tree climbing.
He swings one leg over the branch and propped himself up against the trunk. Ah, bliss, he sighed contently. Up here, it was like being in heaven, especially when the sun was setting and the sky was all orange-gold with black streaks striking against it like it was today. Especially in fall. The leaves are red, and the grass is golden and you feel timeless just being here, swaying gently with the the wind. Here. He sighed again, - what a contradiction. He loved some things here so much, and hated some things here so much - raising his book up and started reading his law thriller.
"Hey, Pole!" a voice shouted.
Apollo closed his book a little and peered to his side, down, squinting a little with tired eyes. It was Jacques. Or Jack, as everyone called him around here. Why was he here? He didn't want to deal with the little twat. The disappointment earlier in the day had drained him of all energy.
"You reading those tombstone-books again?"
Jacques had no respect for books with more than 30 words in them, including the copyright remarks, and have always made this abundantly clear by torturing anyone who read them cruelly. This wasn't to say that he was the muscle of course, at 5"4 and 16 years of age, he wasn't much in the way of muscle to muscle anyone but eight-year-olds. No, that was his best friend, Tiny Tim. Kind big for a person with 'Tiny' in his names.
"Yeah, I am."
"What's it to you anyway? Why are you always up there reading those stupid books? They ain't got nothing but words."
And what's it to you, crap face, that I choose to read them? Rabis up your butt? Apollo mentally retorted. Of course, to say that in real was to ask for more gum on his shoes.
"I just like reading."
"Bullshit. You just acting all prissy 'cuz you think it's cool reading. I bet you don't even understand what you're reading."
"Yes, you're right Jack. I understand nothing." Consent is always sweet.
The boy – Apollo can't seem to think of him as anything more matured than a boy – peered up at him with a confused expression, as if he couldn't make out if he was being slighted or not. Not, he decided.
"So anyways, we were just going up for a game of foozball. You want to come?" he offered the olive branch. Only of course Apollo knew it wasn't anything of that sort. No doubt Jacques just wanted him on the opponent team so they would lose.
"I'm sorry Jack, but as you said, I need to go back to being cool. Reading, I mean." He ignored him and reopened his book. A rock hit his leg.
"Pole, I'm not asking okay? I'm telling you to get your ass down to the field, or you won't be playing any. For a month. Maybe forever."Jackques leered at Apollo, who found it amusing, but he knew what he said was true. Tiny would back his friend up, he always did.
"Alright, fine." He closed the book, throwing it down to the ground and winced when it hit the ground with a thud. He hated to treat his books that way, but that's the price you have to pay when you're born a bad tree-climber and you don't want to read on the ground because people -people like Jacques- will find you and make you play football with them. Not that it made any difference anyway, they always seem to find him. He slid down the tree.
"Lead the way, Jack." He tucked the book under his arm. He hope he can still hold the book by the end of the game. Some days the competition was so fierce – everyone slammed into everyone else and everyone else slammed into everyone they don't like – that by the time he climbed out of the ditch they called a field, he would be shaking all over. Jacques smirked and ran off towards the ditch, and Apollo followed.
This is my life, he thought. My name is Apollo Justice, and this is my life.
He ran off to join Jacques for a game of foozball.