Warnings : Slight Klavipollo. Not crack. Fluff only kicks in later. Damn well isn't short. Also, characters morph with situations. I.e, when faced with hardships, they become tougher, harder, colder. Some call this OOC-ing. I call it human.
Notes : Critique is always welcomed. If you think my fic sucks for any reason, you are free to critique/flame to your heart's desire. After all, I'm writing to improve myself as much as I am for fun. If you like my fic though - please review~ It's always nice to see that my readers aren't just computer-generated numbers as opposed to humans.
Also, this is actually a sort-of sequel to my other fanfic - Man of Mist. Either way, it's standalone because the main point has shifted from Man of Mist's ( Which was a 'Gee, I wonder what will happen if Kristoph adopts Apollo' line of thought.) and focuses more on Klavier and Apollo after Drew Misham's case. It's a sequel in the sense that it runs on the central assumption that Apollo was adopted by Kristoph six years before AJ : AA. It doesn't mean it's a complete AU though - everything still proceeds like in the real game, with the marked difference of Apollo acting differently because he was adopted by Kristoph, and hero-worships him. Either way, it doesn't really matter.
Summary : It's two months after the murder of Drew Misham, and following the events of AJ : AA, Klavier disbanded his band. Now he's the meat and potatoes of the journalists and the paparazzi - everyone wants a piece of him. The press can't wait till Klavier Gavin cracks from his brother's incarceration, and the law's social butterflies circle rumours viciously. Everyone has seen what his brother is like - now they want to see what Klavier really was like. He's back from a little hiatus to rethink his life, and suddenly every eye seems to be on him. He's lost contact with Herr Forehead - and the only consolation he has is that at least his brother is safely locked up in the Californian State Penitentiary.
There's a legend in the CSP that no one's ever broke out before, but there's about to be a first...
Part one : Exodus
Little swallow, dressed colorfully,
Comes here every spring,
I asked her, "Why do you come here?"
She said, "The spring here is the most beautiful."
Little swallow, let me tell you,
It's more beautiful here this year.
We've built large factories,
And equipped new machines,
For you to live here forever.
One : The man who looked at the sky
The man who looked at the sky sat there, on the same spot, at the same time. Every day, without fail, if you walked down to the The Pitch, you will see the same man, with the same hair, with the same spectacles there. He will be sitting on a bench, and he would always – always look up at the sky and smile. There was an area at The Pitch, you see, where the wall was down. The wire barbs here were loose and broken by someone long ago, and it's the only place in prison where you can see an unobstructed view of the sky. Anywhere else and all you see would be blue, tinged by the criss-crossing tangle of iron wires – and those remind him, as they will remind you – of things that he had lost. A family that he misses, or maybe his dog. There were many things that he missed and none that would appear in front of him, so he stared at the sky instead.
He was never interrupted despite his noisy surroundings, despite the fact that The Pitch was actually an indent in the yard of the Californian State Penitentiary. The ground here was shallow and sandy, and many inmates tend to gather around the shallow areas to trade stories and pass time. Break time saw many of the inmates in The Pitch, playing like schoolchildren, and most of them would see him on the bench, looking out at the sky faithfully.
In the penitentiary, he was pretty famous. He's been there for eight months – first for the murder of some random guy he didn't even know. Then for the murder and attempted murder for two artists, also apparently unrelated to him. As far as the inmates knew, the guy was bad news, and they were happy to just let him so sit there and stare at that sky – like the bloody fag he was.
So Kristoph Gavin sat.
He loved the sky. There was something about it that was so beautiful – that reminded him of days that had passed. He couldn't understand why they didn't look more at the sky. It was so, so very beautiful. When it was Summer, the sky would be a clear tent of blue – like smooth chinese silk that the heavens had paved, and when it was fall, it became almost orange, as though it reflected the inner hearts of the trees. And when it was winter, like now – the sky became gray, iridescent, nacreous. It's grayness almost ethereal as it fell down like a blanket in the afternoons and became progressively more beautiful as the day aged. It was unaging, immortal--
"Did you know that no one's ever broken out of this prison before?"
Kristoph looked up to see who had spoken to him – few people did these days - and saw Daryan walking towards him. He moved aside on the bench and allowed the other man space, and he took it, without so much as a by-your-leave.
"Yeah, I just heard it from some guy – bloody shit is making sad faces at everyone who passes him by in the hallway."
Kristoph chuckled. You never get tired of this inmates' antics. And though he had only serving eight months into his sentence, he had seen enough to at least merit him the prerogative of a good chuckle at their expense.
"Was he harbouring hopes to escape this place?"
"I guess so – I couldn't make out anything he was saying, 'cept that he had a wife and kids back home."
"Mitigating circumstances, hmm?" He said.
"That's what they all say," Daryan snickered. Kristoph nodded and turned himself back towards the wall and stared off wistfully at the sky again.
"You looking at the blues again? Don't you ever get tired of it?"
"Not really, some things you never get tire of – the sky's one of them."
Daryan clicked his tongue. "Well, it pisses me off – the way you keep looking at the sky."
Kristoph laughed softly at that, though his eyes never left the slice of blue. "Pudding pisses you off, Daryan. If dessert pisses you off, what is there left that doesn't make you angry?"
He smiled ruefully at that. "Pudding sucks – they're for gays."
"Hey, I like pudding," Kristoph protested softly. He swung his legs around on the stone bench and joined Daryan, who was staring out at The Pitch. A group of inmates were on it, playing rugby and tackling each other into the soft sand.
"Did the man say why there's never been a person who broke out of prison?"
"Nah, all he kept repeating was that that he was innocent. I didn't bother staying after I heard that." The ball was kicked high into the air and all the inmates crash into each other in a frenzy to reach for it. Daryan whistled as they all went down in an ungraceful heap.
"Inside and out, it's all the same. Every inmate claims that they're innocent."
'Well, they're not," Daryan snapped. Somewhere down in the pitch someone let out a bloodcurdling scream as a fight broke out between the inmates. Someone's arm got twisted all the way to the back and the snap was so loud that the both of them, seated almost a mile away could hear the crack. Neither man blinked. Standard fare at the prison - you get used to that. "No one's innocent."
"The first I agree with you, I'm sure."
They watched as a few officers rushed out from the hallway to stop the fight, waving nightsticks threateningly. A few inmates fell as others pushed them in their attempt to get away. Someone hit someone, and someone screamed – typical prison fare too – and a moment later another guard came out and drag the offender back towards the hallway, even as another heaved up an injured inmate and started rolling him towards Block A. As Kristoph's eyes trailed after the man, he spotted a tiny blonde boy standing beside one of the jagged pillars of the corridor.
And apparently so did Daryan, because he sucked in the a deep breath. "Machi Tobaye," He hissed. "What's that little twerp doing here?"
As though he could feel the hostile glances at him, the boy shifted uncomfortably and glanced around nervously.
"Indeed, shouldn't he be in the juvenile sections? " Kristoph asked, sliding a sly glance at his block-mate. "Are you going to go over and greet him?"
Daryan threw his head backwards and let out a sharp crack of laughter, sneering at the figure in the distance. "If I go over there, they'll be doubling my sentence – or shoot me twice in the head – I'll commit another murder right off the bat."
"Hmm? I see someone's still a little angry."
"A little angry? Try pissed – because I'm PISSED." He drew an exaggerated 'P' in the air. Kristoph shrugged noncommittally. "Besides," Daryan slid the glance back at him. "I'm not like you, I can't just forgive fags who stick me in jail."
He shrugged again, dismissing the subject. They watched in silence as the guard led Machi Tobaye towards Block C – the privileged block for privileged convicts, which just so happen to be theirs. Daryan let out a sound of disbelief at the disappearing figures.
"I can't believe it – they're bringing him to the Cee? What's so special about HIM?"
"Perhaps because of his connection with Lamiroir?"
"You shitting me? How does a lame-ass piano player like him gets the Cee treatment?" Daryan snapped his teeth shut like a shark – his favourite fish in the whole wide world. With his hair newly chopped off my prison regulations though – he looked more like a young Klavier than he did his usual self. "Besides, they can't only have JUST figured out he's connected to Lamiroir. They're practically on every soap and suds station."
Daryan scowled at the pillar. "I wonder why he's here."
"Perhaps we may find out yet," Kristoph said calmly. "After all, his cell shouldn't be far away from ours."
"Huh. No such luck – the kid's English is about as good as my Borginian – 'sides, you think he's gonna talk to me?"
Kristoph sneered. "Not you, perhaps..."
"...Oh, you're offering your services?" Daryan smiled back at him, but it was a conspiratorial smile this time. "Never knew you were so kind and benevolent."
Kristoph merely smiled and shrugged delicately, and they watched the inmates gathering themselves up from the sand. Another sound interrupted them – this time a long wailing screech from the sirens that dotted the yard. Inmates immediately scrambled up and headed towards their respective cells before the guards could come and tell them off or worse, put them on report. Only Daryan and Kristoph remained on The Pitch, and a moment later an officer came to get them.
"Gavin, Crescend." He barked. "Get back to your cells – break's over."
Daryan grunted and smoothed a comb over his shortened hair. "Aye, aye captain." He saluted mockingly and got up. Kristoph followed him, but as he passed by the guard shot out a hand to stop him.
"Not you, Gavin – you have an appointment with the shrink."
"The shrink." Kristoph intoned stonily. Again? How many times did they need to send him to the therapist in a month?
Daryan stop mid-track and turned around to blink at him. "The loony bin? You got something wrong up there?"
"No, no." He shook his head. "It's just a check up."
Another blink. "I've never been called in before."
"It's alright Daryan, it's just a check up...You don't have to worry about me," He added, knowing exactly which buttons to push. Sure enough, Daryan scowled at him.
"I'm not worried about you," He spat. "You can go all apeshit crazy – ain't business of mine as long as you keep your crazy in your pants."
"It's just a check up," Kristoph repeated stubbornly – and before the officer could stop him a second time he pushed his hands into his pockets and strode off towards the therapist's office, the last place he wanted to be on Earth. And on his way there – he couldn't be quite sure if it was just his imagination or reality, but he could have sworn there was a face in one of the trees, laughing at him.
The therapist's office is located all the way behind Block A – the block for all things administrative and restrictive. It was called the loony bin by the inmates, not because they felt particularly inclined to insult the people who go in there but because it was true – nine out of ten inmates who went in there were called in because they had some sort of outburst, and ten out of ten of those walk out a little crazier than they went in, and Kristoph was no different. Therapists in the prison had a strange way of treating patients, and Kristoph wasn't quite sure if it was therapeutic or the exact opposite.
Exact opposite, he decided stonily as the door slide open and the doctor waved him in. The process starts with the room itself – painted white all over, with the sickly smell of disinfectant clinging onto it like slime to the wall. There were a few beds in the room, since it also doubled as a sickbed for minor injuries and the inmate who had been injured in The Pitch earlier lied in one of them, recoiling into the corner of the room.
Kristoph stepped into the room, and the female doctor smiled at him. She'd always had a soft spot for well-dressed bad boys, and Kristoph was nothing if not one.
"Hello Gavin, how are you today?" She gestured at the seat and he fell onto it obediently.
"I can't see myself changing drastically since the last time I was here...Just a week ago." He commented coldly, crossing his arms and just a little cross.
"Oh, you know," The doctor explained airily away everything with a wave of her hand. " They want all the inmates in tiptop condition, I'm sure you heard what happened to that Iota fellow?"
Kristoph winced. "Yes, he's in the same block as I am."
"Yes, so you see, the prison can't afford to be lax in healths again, or we'll end up with an encore of that night's show. We need to make sure that all our inmate's ah...Health is in good condition."
My mental health, you mean.
This was the problem with therapists, they just can't get to the point. They had to beat around the bush, ask you a million questions that meant nothing before they got to the heart of the matter. If there was a literal bush for them to beat, they would have beaten it well into the ground and beaten the ground into dust.
"So shall we start, Mr. Gavin?"
"Now, how have you been this past month?"
"Unchanged. Exactly what do you expect me to develop in prison? A third personality?"
She ignored the jab. "Have you gained any new hobbies from the last time we've spoken?"
"Tanning," He retorted. "I've grown a fondness for tanning."
"Have you done anything worthwhile this past month?"
Kristoph sighed and looked out of the window to stare up at the sky again. The therapist's office had a nice, ivory-painted window that offered a splendid view of the sky – or at least more splendid than his little barred window allowed. Maybe he should appreciate these trips more often. He picked at a non-existent piece of dirt on the sleeve of his suit.
"I don't believe so, no."
"Have you found anything interesting?"
"What about complaints, do you have any complaints?"
He nearly choked on his own bile. The next thing you know they'll be asking him if he wants to leave the place. Instead, he settled on, "No."
Exasperated, the woman pursed her lips at him. "What about friends? Have you found any new friends?"
"No, I don't have any friends." He twisted his lips into a wide smile – though it was by no means pleasant anymore.
"What about number 6801, Crescend?" She flipped to a page on her file and showed it to him, as though afraid he might not recognize Daryan by his name. Kristoph glared coldly at the picture of Daryan – one taken before his ridiculous hair had been snapped off.
"He's an acquaintance," He intoned. "We get along because he's my brother's friend...Once. I have no friends. Never had, and I never will."
He repeated the last fact as though he was speaking to a child, and a flicker of annoyance flicked through her heavily made-up face.
"Well, you have to have at least one," She snapped. "It says here on the manual – either you have one or we make you one."
He scowled at her. "You can't 'make' me have friends." He snapped back.
"Yes we can," She replied with a sickly sweet smile. "We'll arrange for sessions, then there will be group therapy, then there will be--"
"Alright, enough," Kristoph cut her off impatiently, and her smile turned smug, victorious. "What do you want from me?"
"Give me a name – someone you would be interested in befriending. I arrange for the meetings and you attend them. Then at the end of it we evaluate your social capabilities and determine if you're a threat to the other inmates. The higher ups want records - lots and lots of records that we've been doing our job patching your brains up, and you're going to help me hit the quota."
"Fine." He snapped. "What kind of name do you want?"
The doctor leaned back on her chair. "Oh, anything, any name. I don't give a damn – and you know it. We're here to fill paperwork, not examine the paper quality."
Kristoph pondered this for a moment. Of course, he could just say Daryan's name and get it over with easily – at least he knew Daryan, though the man would probably be pissed at being dragged into a group-hug meeting. But then again, it would be a good chance to...
"Machi Tobaye," He stated firmly. Yes, Machi Tobaye was a good choice. Not only was Daryan curious about why the boy had suddenly been led into Block C - Kristoph himself was admittedly a little curious himself too. Besides, you never know when you might need an innocent face to wiggle something out of authorities - and the boy would be easy to befriend, trapped in a place where he had no friends and no one spoke his language.
"Machi Tobaye?" She repeated suspiciously. "Why him?"
"Hmm? Oh, he doesn't speak English. I just thought it would make my life easier if I chose a 'friend' who doesn't even speak my language you know." He didn't bother telling her he'd study Borginian, and studied it quite well. "Makes the touchy feel session shorter."
"Fine," She said, and filled his name in, though the suspicious look never left her face. Kristoph almost laughed at the idea of what thoughts was flying pass her head at the moment. She probably thought he was a pedophile.
"Can I go now?" He wheezed out when she was done. "I actually have things to get back to, unlike some people."
"No," She stated simply, throwing the file aside. "More questions. Have there been anything you're...Dissatisfied with this past month?"
But of course – why would she let him go so easily?
"Yes, I have actually." She looked up expectantly, pen in hand. "I'm dissatisfied with the pudding. There's not quite enough of it...Don't you think?"
He aimed a disarmingly charming smile at her that would have put his brother's to shame.
"I ah...I'm not very sure." The doctor cleared her throat. "Alright, last question then – have you been tempted to repeat your outburst in your trial?"
"I have not been tempted to ruin my hair again, no."
"Alright. Do you have anything you wish to tell me, which I will not repeat to anyone else under strict observation of the patient-doctor confidentiality rule?"
Unless you're drunk, of course.
"Very well." She tucked her files away and rose. "Now, as you well know, we have one last test to conduct to finish your session."
Kristoph swallowed, and for the first time in the interview, betrayed the slightest hint of nervousness. "Must I do that again?"
"Of course – we need to see how you'll react to the recording that had triggered your outburst in the first place and see if you will react the same way to it." A tremor – just the slightest one, ran down Kristoph's spine and he barely repressed the urge to shudder. This was exactly why he loathed these sessions. They kept making him watch Wright's recording. The month before this, and probably the next month, and the month after that too. By the time they were done with him, he would probably need a psychiatrist for real.
The proof of his failure. Again and again. And they expected him to NOT go crazy?
But this was prison, and you just don't say no when you're an inmate in here.
So what can he say but yes?
The corridor that linked Block C to Block B was dark by the time Kristoph finally got out of the therapist's office, and the lights were already dimmed – illuminated only by the fleeting cheap lights pinned carelessly onto the pillars that from afar, looked like dancing fireflies. A few officers passed him by, but none paid much attention to him other than to note that he was shivering like a leaf in the wind, both hands jammed into his pockets. They didn't say much though. After all, this was a Block C inmate, and you never know what kind of connections they have outside the prison wall – they could get their powerful friends to do you in.
A loose piece of scrap metal someone dropped stabbed out from the darkness, and Kristoph stumbled it. He swore – what was happening to him? He shook his head and muttered darkly under his breath – but it wouldn't work. The images that they showed him from the trial, the one from the murder of Drew Misham was still stuck in his head – all of Phoenix Wright's annoying, meddling video and a recording of the trial. All of it – Klavier's face when he finally realized who was the one who did all that, the disillusionment on Apollo's face... It was all proof of his failure. He couldn't even attempt one murder and get away with it, how could he be perfect?
As if it wasn't enough that he had nightmares of it everyday, they had to compound the problem by making him face it all over again. Maybe what they said was right. Facing your own failures takes more courage than climbing the tallest peak.
He shuddered some more, but it wasn't from a physical cold. It was a cold that blossomed inside of him, and he struggled even to limp the short distance back to Block C. He had to get out of here, he realized. Some time or other he had to leave this place – before they drove him insane.
Kristoph looked up at the sky again.
He had to get out of here.
Block C was divided into partitions – two electronic doors at each end of a partition, and six cells in each segment. Machi Tobaye was led into the next hallway, and Daryan strained his eyes to see exactly which cell Machi was being kept in. The partition doors had a sheet of semi-transparent hard plastic fixed into the middle to allow the guards to see easily into the next hallway, but from where Daryan was, it was hard to see the next hallway – but made no mistake, he saw it anyway.
Machi's spine had straightened when he walked by him, practically snapping straight like a suddenly unstrung bow, and when the door shut in between them, he could see the blond freak biting his lip. He couldn't see much after that, but it was enough to know that Machi was afraid of him – it made him felt just a little better – and he bared his surgically sharpened teeth at Machi's disappearing figure. Daryan grinned. He could smell the fear in the air.
Pushing against the cell bars, he propelled himself backwards and fell onto the bean bag, slinging one arm onto his face, his mind started whirring into motion. Now that Machi Tobaye was in the same block as him, he could finally get the one thing that had drove him on for the period of his incarceration – revenge. He would have gotten away with the perfect crime. They would never have been able to figure him out, and the cocoon would have as good as sold. It was not just a perfect crime, it was the perfect crime – proof to Daryan Crescend that Daryan Crescend was invincible – not that he needed much more ego-stroking. No one could catch a speeding shark.
And they wouldn't have.
If it wasn't for the boy.
He gnashed his teeth and started thinking of all the ways he could get his revenge – maybe he could bash his head in with a guitar? But where to get one? - when a click from the electronic door interrupted him and he strained his neck upwards to see who had entered his segment. Kristoph followed the click and he looked like--
"You look like shit." He told him.
"Why, thank you. You look enchanté yourself, Daryan." He bit out, already in the process of unwrapping himself from his overcoat.
Daryan swept his fringe off – the damned thing kept falling into his eyes – and scrutinized the man. He looked like a survivor of a train wreck.
"From that I-don't-give-a-shit look on your face, I gather things didn't went well?"
"Shrink is an apt name you Americans have given therapists – I feel shrunk." He replied acidly. Daryan threw back his head and laughed.
"Aww, the therapist got your knickers in a twist? What did she do to you anyway?"
"Measured the temperature of my brain," Kristoph snapped, slipping a hand in between the bars of his own cell door and unlatched the thing with a loud click. That was a privilege that Block C inmates enjoyed – the only doors seriously locked, barred like a vault with huge horizontal metal bars to secure it - was the partitions. Beyond that, the residents could freely open and close their respective cell doors in the segments.
He slipped into his own cell and collapsed onto his ridiculous pink armchair.
"God, they're making me crazy." He sighed, massaging the kinks out of his face.
"Losers," Daryan agreed. He climbed up and leaned onto the bars again, smiling wildly at Kristoph. "Guess who's the new bird in the cage?" He jerked a thumb towards the direction Machi had disappeared to.
Kristoph ignored him and pulled out the day's newspaper. "No, who?"
"Santa Claus," He snapped – and Daryan grinned. That was the one thing that made prison life remotely bearable – Klavier's big brother. The guy might be nuttier than a bottle of peanut butter jam, but at least he was entertaining being psycho. And if he had thought Klavier was witty...Well, his brother's tongue was razor sharp.
"Machi Tobaye," He announced to the audience of one. There were no other cells occupied in their segment and the echo that fell with his words made it seem almost dramatic. Kristoph looked up from the newspaper and Daryan let out a satisfied smirked – good to see he was more entertaining than some four-eye's prediction on Wall Street.
"Down the hall." The thumb jerked again,
"Ah." Kristoph looked in the direction. The plastic obstructed his view though – and he couldn't see the boy. "The next or the one after?"
"I think it's the next segment – remember what the Japanese guy did to the last segment?"
Kristoph's face scrunched up delicately at the mention of their fellow convict. "Please don't mention him – I still haven't quite recovered from the sight."
Daryan smirked. Yeah right, says the serial killer. "Well, they still haven't clean up his guts and the whole place smells like a fish market – so I doubt they'll stick him in there."
"I see," He fingered his hair thoughtfully. "And now that he's here – in our block, what do you plan to do with him?"
A grin spread on Daryan's face, thoroughly savage.
"Oh, you'll see. I have plans for him." He looked over at the partition that kept Machi away from him and sneered at it.
December brought with it light snow and gray skies – not that it mattered much to the inmates whether there would be a white Christmas or not. In prison, things were measured from end to end – that is to say that they measure things like this : How many more years until they left the place; how many years they have been in there. Things like thanksgiving and turkey-eating meant nothing to them, and indeed, they were right in not expecting anything, because nothing ever happens. December was given no respect by the inmates - it was just another month on the calender - especially in the CSP, where they had an excellent central heating system.
December also saw Kristoph and Daryan listless – the way they always were. For Kristoph, there's ten years more of this kind of prison life for the murder of Shadi Enigmar before they shot him in the head for Drew Misham. For Daryan, he had thirty more years to go before they 'live and let die', as Daryan had put it. Their time was measured in years, but strangely enough, neither found it very valuable, the way doomed people treasured their time remaining.
When you wake up everyday to cold, metal bars, it's kind of hard to appreciate life.
Daryan spent most of his December watching Machi. He watched him like a shark that had smelt blood and won't let go – swimming round and round until he caught a bite of his prey - eyeing him whenever the opportunity arose and eyeing him whenever he thought he could get away with it. When Machi passed by the hallways, Daryan was sure to be close around – sitting on a bench, walking casually around, whistling a dirty tune to himself. He was a stalker and that he was - he admitted it freely, proudly - but he was a stalker hell bent on revenge, and that makes all the difference.
To him, Machi was the source, the root, the alpha and omega of all his problems and more – the brat was the reason he wasn't out there, enjoying the better things in life or playing to a crowd of screaming fans. All because of him and his blabbermouth – who gives a shit about some Interpol agent anyway? They were a dime a dozen, and he couldn't summon enough feeling to justify compassion.
Kristoph on the other hand spend most of his time sitting outside again, even in the coldest days of December, and especially on Christmas. Staring at the sky all day long - and on Christmas, all night long. He even started keeping a journal as to whether the sky was clear or cloudy or pink or white or whatever. Daryan didn't bother trying to understand him, and Kristoph never tried to explain to him that the journal was the only way he measured time. How many more skies he could see until it was finally over? He counted it with the remaining pages on his journal. Around four hundred pages per book, around ten more until he was done.
The inmates started rumours – some about his visits to the shrink, some about his sanity. After all, how many sane person do you see who sat at The Pitch from dawn til break til evening, staring at the same spot in the sky? Some tried to guess what he was thinking, and they all unanimously agreed that he was probably thinking of freedom. They were wrong in this case, but it was something they would never be corrected on.
The rumours lasted, and soon, December drifted off silently like a dejected performer to which no one has applauded. January came, and with it, a small buzz of excitement in the air. It was the only time in the year where there was any excitement in the air at all – because it was the month for notices. Inmates that would be released will receive a notice telling them when they will be leaving, and the date for their parole meetings and interviews. Inmates who would be staying for years yet would receive a notice telling them how many more to go, and they would be glad that there was one less number on the paper.
Notices were delivered to their respective cells, and when January came around in full force, Daryan could be seen pacing up and down his cell, to Kristoph's annoyance.
"What are you so nervous about? The letter will come, and the letter will tell us what we already know - that I have nine more years and you have twenty nine."
"Aw man, can't I be happy I get me some mail? 'Cuz I don't ever get any."
"Not when the mail happens to be your death warrant, no." He smiled. "Unless you're into that sort of thing."
Daryan merely toss him a finger and continued pacing up and down his cell. Kristoph ignored him and returned to his books – this one on Borginian. He wanted to make sure that when they arrange that touchy feely session between him and Machi, he could make the child understand him. He read to the silent rhythm of Daryan's padded shoes going pat pat pat up the cell and pat pat pat down the cell, and when it suddenly stopped one day in mid-January – he looked up.
"I think it's here," Daryan announced.
"Why are you so happy?" Kristoph looked at his block-mate. "It's just a notice."
"I don't know – I think it's the feeling in the air, you know? Everyone's so excited that I can't help being so too."
Kristoph lowered his head to hide a small smile. Daryan reminded him of his brother so much sometimes. Perhaps that was why they had gotten along so well despite Daryan's attitude. A moment later he looked up again, but this time it was because the door clicked apart.
"Gavin, Crescend." The officer barked out – a grumpy one today named Fields. He stomped into the segment hallway and Daryan leaned forward eagerly.
"Mail for us?"
"Yeah – the notices." He hesitated a little, before brandishing the two envelopes with their names written on it. It was a small motion, but Kristoph was an observant man. He couldn't help but noticed that the man stepped backwards the moment the letters exchanged hands either. Why on Earth was Fields so nervous today?
He received his letter and slit it apart with a letter opener, while Daryan just tore through it with his teeth. The two men pulled out the letters – marked with an ominous shade of red – and started reading, Kristoph's brow furrowed in concentration at the words, even as Fields took a discreet step backwards and away from the cell entrance.
It was a long moment later before the two was finally spurred into action – not because they couldn't read fast enough but because they couldn't believe what they were reading. Eyes rove through it a few more times, reading as though their life depended on it, before Daryan finally raised his head.
"Y-You're not serious..." Daryan's face had turned a chalky, ashen colour. Kristoph had no idea what his face was coloured, but he had a suspicion that it was probably the colour of cement walls.
"They can't do this," He snapped derisively. "It's illegal – it's illegal to just...Do this!" He shook his head in disbelief and tore the paper into bits, letting it flutter weakly downwards. Without something to strangle with his hands, he turned to the officer instead. "What kind of sick joke is this?"
The officer gulped. Normally, Fields had a field day with inmates – most of them are intimidated by his craggy appearance – his face looks like something someone had stepped on sometime during childbirth – but this was just a little bit different.
"Well, see here. It's not something we decided on either – it's..."
But Kristoph was seeing red, and he held up a hand to stop him. "You expect me to believe they just ruled something like this? I haven't seen a single mention of it in the news!"
"They wouldn't put something like this on the news," The officer explained. "It'll cause mass outrage."
"It's already causing mass outrage!" Kristoph shouted, advancing on the officer. "They can't just--"
He was barely an inch away from the officer before he stopped himself. "It's impossible."
"It's not – ask the chief – I know you're all chummy with him. He'll tell you the same thing I just did!"
He raked his hand through his hair – messing up his perfect mane, closing his eyes, he refuted it under his breath stubbornly. "That's just...Impossible."
He looked over at Daryan for some sort of support from the man, but Daryan had already collapsed onto his bean bag, his letter and his head both in his hands. When he looked up, he was a mixture of mild disbelief and resignation. Mostly resignation.
"It's true...Isn't it? They're really going to move up the death sentences."
Field cleared his throat. "Yes, well – if it's any consolation, it's not just you. Every death row inmate in this place has received a similar notice – they're going to move up all the sentences to make space for the new ones."
"How nice to see we serve a purpose after all," Kristoph bit out, but it was without venom. He stared down at the pieces of the letter now scattered on the cement floor, looking a little forlorn. The cheap lights made the red paper looked almost yellow – or maybe it was actually a hideous shade of lime green. Well, none of it really matters now.
"Dammit, I can't believe this!" Daryan burst out, and Kristoph looked up. The man slammed his fist into the metal rails. Before the metal even stopped ringing he pulled back his fist and lashed out at the steel again, as though he could feel no pain from the collision. He drew back his fist, and hit it – again, and again and again – while the other two watched. Finally he collapsed back onto his bean bag.
"I can't freaking he believe this." He breathed out. "I thought I had twenty-nine to go, now they tell me I have half." He closed his eyes. "Screw this – this is freaking unbelievable."
Kristoph had no such reserve, not that he had calmed down. This was the real world after all. If they can evict people out into the streets to build megaplexes on their houses, what's to stop them from shooting a few inmates nobody cares about to make space for new criminals? The court cases were sped up to stop congestion in the law, now the noose would be swinging faster to stop congestion of the prison.
The officer stood there with them, shifting from foot to foot uncomfortably for a long time – not quite sure if he should leave them to their peace before Kristoph finally cleared his throat. "Thank you very much, officer – for giving- I mean, delivering these notices to us. We appreciate it."
The officer nodded, a little surprised at his civil tone. Then again, this was Kristoph Gavin – the so called 'gentleman' of Block C. At least he wasn't like the other ones down at Block B - who had been barely restrained from smashing the officer's head in. "I'll leave you guys alone then." With another nod he took a step back and turned around. He was halfway to the partitions when Kristoph called out to him.
"Wait a minute."
The officer turned his head around, and Kristoph walked up to him.
"There's a smudge on your pants...Here." He reached his hand down and swept an invisible dirt stain off the man's pants. "There," He smiled. "All better."
The officer returned his act of generosity with a glare. "Fuck off, Gavin, you fag."
Kristoph merely smiled and waved him off with a dismissing hand. "Good day, officer."
When he turned around again, Daryan was looking at him – and his hand curiously.
"What are you going to do?"
"Me? Are you sure you shouldn't make it 'we'?" Kristoph smiled a confident, winning smile. "I think it's time we started teaming up, don't you think? Makes things go much more smoothly."
Daryan leaned forward a little, a predatory smile spreading over his face too. "Deal – looks like you have something planned."
"Indeed." Kristoph reentered his cell, and started playing with the little ID card he had pilfered from the officer, flipping it from one finger to another expertly.
"You're not afraid he'll miss it?"
Kristoph chuckled. "This is the officers we're talking about, yes? They'll just file for a new one, no problem."
Daryan pondered that for a moment. "What did they give you, incidentally?"
"The chair, I'm afraid. Though I suppose it does suit me – a rather more gentlemanly way to die, don't you think?"
"Heh. I got the gun – can't say I disapprove entirely."
Kristoph chuckled again, and moving towards his bookshelf, gently slip the ID card into the slitted cover of one of his books – the one he used to store personal things he wanted no one to know.
"They may hold an execution parade in our favour," The ID card was concealed neatly in between the leather cover and the inside, and his fingers smoothed it over. "It'll be a pity the guests of honour won't be there."
Daryan looked up at him, and smirked. "Wow, fast. Got a plan already?"
"Yes," Kristoph answered simply.
He leaned even more forward. "Well, don't keep me waiting – what is it?"
Kristoph sank into his chair and crossed his legs, the picture of the perfect gentleman, and smiled charmingly. Daryan had no doubt that if this was a politician's campaign, half the crowd would have fallen on their knees to do Kristoph Gavin's bidding.
The smile went up a notch in it's ferocity as he noticed Daryan's rapt attention, his inner narcissist surfacing.
"We," He announced. "Are going to unmake a legend."