At any rate, I'm posting it here, in hopes that it might necromance this comm, scientifically speaking. Here it is!
It’s never been a secret that I’m not fond of Klavier Gavin. In fact, from the very beginning, it became somewhat of an office joke. Everyone knew that flashy princess prosecutor’s antics were the metaphorical equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. And to add insult to injury, no one made any effort to hide this. We both knew about the office pools, betting on how long it would take for that diva to get me shouting at him, or for me to storm off in a huff. You’d really have to be oblivious not to know of them. So, of course, Klavier feigned ignorance, only to annoy me all the more. Which was stupid anyway, since I also knew he was placing bets himself!
Have I mentioned how much I hate that glimmerous fop?
He’s an insult to the profession! Always parading around and signing autographs and posing for pictures as if this was all some Hollywood starlet’s game. Justice isn’t a game. That’s something I know all too personally. Really, you’d think it’s something he would have learned too, considering what happened to his best friend and brother. But no. He never showed the slightest bit of concern over what had happened. At all. He quit his band—yeah, he’s a quitter too—and went along his work as he always had, all flash and no substance.
At the time, it both annoyed and frightened me a bit. To discover his own brother had been a sociopathic murderer? The fop’s reaction made me wonder if maybe he was a sociopath himself, just not a violent one. Why WOULDN’T he be upset about it?
Or at least we had all thought, anyway.
Okay, so, it’s no secret that I hate my job too. So yeah, I don’t pay the closest amount of attention. Sometimes I get caught up in my own experiments, science is still my passion, and forget a couple things. Case in point, the time I forgot vital test results at the fop’s office. I’d been so distracted with running the tests myself to verify the lab’s results, I’d forgotten to return the actual documents I had swiped from the lab. And just my luck, when do I remember this? 3 am when I’m about to drift off to sleep. Seriously, this is my life. THIS IS MY LIFE.
So I got up, fumbled into some street decent clothes, dropped my butt in my car and drove to the prosecutor’s office. Just another thing about that fop that irritated me, he’d never waste his precious time working after hours. More often he’d take off early because he had some gig to rehearse for or he needed his beauty sleep. That was the biggest problem with that idiot, he was all glimmerous and not at all simmerous. I’d grown up knowing real prosecutors, the kind that spent so much time at work that they barely slept at all and had a full head of gray hair at age 20 to prove it. The fop just couldn’t compare. A real prosecutor had a furrowed brow and quick wit, not a sparkling grin and quick fingers.
You know what else sucks? Poor night vision. Lucky me, of all things, I can barely even read in dim lighting. The prosecutor’s office was pitch black at that hour, and I hadn’t even thought to bring a flashlight. Yeah, stunning detective instinct, I know. So I tripped all over myself navigating the lobby, luckily the elevator was still in service at that hour so I didn’t have to kill myself on the stairs, and stumbled out on the fop’s floor. Only then did it occur to me that I didn’t have a key to his office. THIS IS MY LIFE.
It was about this time though that I realized I could make out my own feet when I looked down. Why had I worn heels to go on late night reconnaissance missions? At any rate, I looked around and found the source of the light coming from the fop’s office. I quickly pulled out my keys—remembering belatedly that I had an LED penlight on my keychain, oh geez—and held them between my knuckles, ready to jam them into some punk’s eye socket if I had to. Hey, I’m a cop. It’s okay.
I pressed my back to the wall and leaned over just a tad to push open the door, sloooowly. It didn’t make a creak, which figured with how obsessive the fop could be about maintaining his things, and smoothly swung open, bathing the hallway in bright fluorescent light. Inside, someone made a startled noise and began shuffling around. No going back now!
“HAAA!” I leapt into the room, guns blazing, metaphorically speaking of course, and faced the trespasser. I locked eyes with his infuriatingly blue eyes, and the chuckle that reached my ears was enough to send me into a fit of fury before I had even registered who I was looking at.
It was the fop himself, and of all the things he could have possibly grabbed to protect himself against a potential trespasser, he had picked up a pen and a headshot of himself.
“Well Fraulein Detective, I wasn’t expecting you of all people to break in here at such a late hour for an autograph. Could you really not contain yourself until morning?”
The implication that I would even want his stupid illegible autograph in the first place would have normally had me seeing red, but immediately I sensed something off about the situation. I lowered my hands and inspected the area. Everything looked as it usually did in his office; pristine and yet cluttered. Guitars hung from the walls, a new-agey spiral CD rack dominated a corner, and large LCD flat screens hung right above a far-too luxurious leather recliner. I’d always been tempted to ask if that chair was comfortable at all or just stylish, but I didn’t want to risk him offering me to sit in it. The whole office was too garish and looked like it belonged in a recording studio rather than a prosecutor’s office. Where were the filing cabinets and large bookshelves stuffed with prestigious texts in several languages?
“Gavin, what are you doing here this late?” I sounded a lot more tired than angry, but my usual annoyance was still there. Still, something was wrong with this picture, besides the fact that the fop was here this late at all. I just wasn’t exactly sure what it was.
“Ah, Fraulein, you have it all wrong.” He started snapping his fingers in that infuriating way he always did when he wasn’t really interested in what you had to say. “This is my stage. I don’t need permission for a late night sound check. But you, on the other hand…” He put his hands on his hips and bent forward, smiling at me charmingly, condescendingly.
I scowled. “I just came to pick up a file I forgot, okay?” I shoved past him and set to looking.
“Tsk tsk, Fraulein. Always such sour notes. You should make an effort to be on key with people once in a while. You might discover a lovely voice.”
So, I’m not a big fan of similies or analogies or whatever the hell that was, but musical ones piss me off even more because I don’t know a flat sharp from a flat tire. I mean, it’s rude to use specialized terms someone doesn’t know in a conversation, right? How would he like it if I started going off about luminol? That’s right, he’d love it and laugh in my face. ARG, I could strangle him!
I was too tired to argue, though, so I just kept rifling through the sheet music and case files on his desk trying to find the lab results. I dropped a few papers and cursed my own clumsiness under my breath. I leaned over the desk to try and pick them up when something caught my eyes. The fop had large moving boxes hidden behind his desk.
I must have gasped or made some kind of surprised sound, because the fop sashayed over, all smiles, trying to steer me away. Of course that only made me more suspicious, so I dropped down on my knees and pulled a box out into the open. Sure, technically it wasn’t my business, but if a prosecutor was smuggling contraband into his office at night, it was my duty as a detective to find out. Ignoring the fop’s pseudo-friendly protests, I tore the tape off and hastily opened the flaps.
Of the myriad of things I might have expected to find in there; guitar strings, low calorie snacks, pirated music, porn, drugs, or some FDA unapproved hair cement, I never would have expected this.
“Board games?” I held one up and shook it just to make sure this wasn’t some elaborate cover up.
“Ja…” Behind me, the fop fidgeted. I glanced back at him, thoroughly confused at the sight. He looked nervous! But… the fop never looked nervous. Over-confidence was his whole insufferable shtick. “Ah… want to play?”
I didn’t say anything. I was utterly perplexed. Was this really the same glimmerous fop who lived to torment me, standing here in his office with me past three in the morning, looking as shy as a schoolboy as he asked me to play a board game with him of all things? Had I somehow slipped into some parallel world where everything was bizarro backwards and carrots ate people?
I looked back down at the various games, wondering if this was some kind of joke I wasn’t getting. The boxes weren’t the current modern covers for these games either. They were old and worm with old-fashioned cover art. Why in the world would the fop have anything that wasn’t the latest and greatest?
I nodded pensively to myself, trying to puzzle it out. I’d forgotten all about the fop’s question, and just my luck, he took the nod to mean yes. He sat cross-legged on the floor, somehow still managing to be ~fabulous~, and told me to pick a game.
My first reaction was to fling a box at his head and tell him to shove it. But they were such old boxes, I didn’t want to risk damaging them. And besides, it was almost 4 am by then, and hell if I was going to drive all the way home just to get back in the car and drive back to the office. So I thought, why the hell not? If this was a prank he was pulling on me, then whoever bet on me throwing my coffee on him this morning would be getting a full return. He let me pick the game—oh what a gentleman—and I settled on Battleship, if only for the mental image of me sinking the rich diva’s yachts. Preferably while he was still on them.
There’s an odd thing about sleep deprivation. It’s sort of like a drug, scientifically speaking. Your brain releases these chemicals into your brain, trying to get you to sleep. The longer you deny it, the more the chemicals stew and start to mess with your head. Things you might not normally say just slip out with ease, things you normally wouldn’t do suddenly seem like a great idea, and even the lamest little comments become hilarious. It’s a lot like being drunk and high at the same time, scientifically speaking, so I really was not to be blamed for what happened.
It was all perfectly awkward at first, the two of us sitting on the floor and quietly putting pieces together like scolded children, but then the game actually started. What began as just calling out numbers became cries of despair every time one of us was hit, and victory cheers whenever we hit the other. Soon the fop was trying to enter negotiations, but I showed no mercy. I sunk every last one of his fancy schmancy ships, until the fop fell over on the ground, writhing dramatically in acted pain, and giving a Shakespearean final monologue as he prepared to meet his maker.
It must have been the sleep deprivation, or how friggin amazing it felt to beat Mr. Perfect at something, because at the time I found this to be comedy gold. I couldn’t stop laughing and fell over too, clutching my sides and begging him to stop. By the time he finally did, we were both panting for breath.
My cell phone alarm went off, signaling the time I usually got up for work. The familiar ring tone snapped me out of my foggy, pleasant stupor. I got up, gathered my things, and prepared to go. But as I headed for the door, the fop reached over me and slammed it shut, blocking my exit. I jumped back, blinking in shock for a moment, before turning to pop him in the face if he got any ideas.
“You forgot this.” He said nonchalantly, handing me the lab results I had come for in the first place.
“O-oh… thanks.” I took the file, baffling in the moment’s hesitation before he released it into my hand. Had he not wanted to let go? Why? “So, uh, yeah… board games. Closet addiction?” I snarked, trying to lift the strange tension in the air.
“Childhood toys.” He said, his eyes dimming. “They’re not mine. They belong to mein bruder. I had them preserved in a nice case, but I couldn’t stand to stare at them anymore.”
There was something unsettling about the entire situation. The fop wasn’t the kind to be troubled. He was usually either obnoxiously care-free, or throwing a hissy fit over not getting things exactly the way he wanted them. This quiet, inward hurt was not something I had thought compatible with mother frickin Klavier Gavin, and it struck a chord with me. I knew what it was like to watch a sibling drift away, grow colder, change until you couldn’t recognize them. But I had gotten Lana back. Gavin hadn’t been so lucky. Had he been holding this in, all to himself, this entire time?
“Did you guys used to play a lot as kids?” It was a pretty lame question, admittedly, but I didn’t know what else to say, and all of a sudden it didn’t seem like a good idea to leave him alone.
“Ja. There’s not a lot for a pair of orphaned kids to do but play cheap donated board games.” Tear out my heartstrings, why don’t you?
“I see…” I transferred my weight from one foot to the other, so tired I was ready to collapse. But I couldn’t go yet. Not just yet. “Did you do both do that whole ‘woe is war, to taketh my battlements, so many good men died today’ spiel when you lost?” I flailed for something to ask, some way to keep the conversation going.
“Kristoph never lost. He wouldn’t allow it.” Gavin replied, too quickly.
It chilled me to think of what a future killer would do if he didn’t get his way. “What do you mean he wouldn’t ‘allow’ it?” Morbid curiosity was still curiosity.
“If I ever got close to winning, he’d find some excuse to leave the game. Then he’d be cross with me and refuse to play again for days.” Klavier’s gaze never wavered, but I realized he wasn’t looking at me. He was purposely keeping his eyes unfocused, indirectly avoiding my stare.
See, there was something else that bothered me about Gavin. He was naturally good at everything. Music, law, singing, dancing, fashion, public speaking, logic, even science! Anything that jerk tried, he could pull off with minimal effort. While people like me, on the other hand, could spend their whole lives studying for just one profession and then fail the exam miserably. It was stupidly unfair!
This only made Gavin’s admission all the more discomfiting. Even as a child he had been a natural-born winner, and yet he’d been too afraid to win at something as simple as a board game lest his own brother deny him affection. I’m not an expert or anything, but I was pretty sure that this constituted as some form of emotional abuse. It made sense, then, why Gavin was such an attention-mongerer, to put it kindly.
What could I possibly say to that? I’m sorry?
“Hey Gavin, look, I—”
“Ema.” He interjected gently, my mouth shutting itself at the sound. He never called me my real name, not ever. It was always teasing pet-names with him. “You should really get those files back to the lab before they’re reported missing.”
I nodded dumbly and fled the scene.
That’s really how it all started. The whole day after that, I just couldn’t get Gavin out of my head. Not in a fangirly way or anything! I just kept thinking about what he’d said, and what impact his brother’s arrest must have REALLY had on him, beneath the surface. Maybe it’s just my tender-hearted nature, or more likely my inner-scientists’ thirst for answers, but I couldn’t let this one go.
And that’s how I found myself stupidly waiting at Gavin’s office after hours, just to see if he’d show up again. Of course, after such a long day and running on nothing but caffeine, I eventually gave in and took a seat in his recliner, just to rest my feet. Seriously, why the hell do I wear heels? As it turned out, his chair WAS as comfortable as it was stylish, and as exhausted as I was, I was slumped over and asleep within seconds.
Like I said, sleep deprivation is drug.
I woke up to the familiar sound of a Snakoo bag crinkling. I snapped open my eyes and found one being waved in front of my face. I blinked awake, and then looked up to find my mystery benefactor.
Gavin grinned at me cockily. “Come for a rematch? You’ll need your strength.”
I snatched the Snakoo bag from him, growling over his amused laugh, and said, “As I recall, I was the one who beat you last time, bud!”
“Oh? We’re buds now? How exciting!” Before I could object to being called his ‘bud’, Gavin had already begun setting up another game. “ACHTUNG! You may have gotten lucky last time, Fraulein, but tonight we play it my way!” His over-the-top announcements didn’t even phase me anymore. I barely noticed it over the sound of my own munching.
“Clue?” I raised a brow as I sat down and watched him set up while I munched my Snakoos. “Don’t you get enough of crime scenes at work?”
“Ack! I confess it, Fraulein. You’ve caught me. I have quite the fondness for dramatic irony.”
I rolled my eyes. “This isn’t ironic, it’s self-indulgent.”
“Oh hello, Fraulein Kettle! You and your Snakoos are looking quite black this evening.” He said cheerily.
I threw a Snakoo at his face.
So we picked our pawns. I bet anyone can guess who Gavin picked. Yep, Miss Scarlet. He offered me Mrs White, you know, the maid. I Snakoo’d him harder and snatched up Professor Plum, which only prompted Gavin to make a comment about how I was must only be picking that color because it reminded me of someone I was wildly attracted to. By the time I finished pelting him with Snakoos for that quip, Gavin decided to outlaw food throwing all together. He claimed he didn’t want to risk the games getting damaged. I knew he was wimping out. Typical.
We played the game, and it ran way long. I guessed a couple of times and got it wrong, to my extreme irritation. I was supposed to be a homicide detective for cripes’ sake! Oddly enough, Gavin never made a single guess. He must have been more lost than I was. I started to get irritable, having long run out of snacks to munch on. Thankfully, I finally guessed right and OWNED the hell out of that cocky shimmering brat! I got up and started parading my triumph all around the room. Gavin just shrugged and said he’d get me next time.
It wasn’t until I got home that it occurred to me he’d implied there would be a next time. And it hadn’t even crossed my mind to object.
I don’t know how we came to the agreement that Fridays would be game night. It’s not like we ever talked about it. No, during work hours we were the same as ever. Only after-hours, focused on some silly old children’s game, did we treat each other like human beings. It was jarring and, frankly, sorta creepy. But I didn’t complain because even freakier was the fact that I kept winning. At everything! No matter what we played, Connect 4, Sorry!, Trouble, Monopoly, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Life, Cherry Picker, whatever, I always won! It was a few weeks into this that I came to the startling truth. Gavin apparently sucked at board games!
I also realized how pathetic it was for a grown woman to be spending every Friday night playing board games with her boss, but I pushed the thought aside. Besides, if the world’s most eligible rock star was spending his Friday nights this way, then it was cool or something. Right?
Whatever. It felt so liberating to finally get back at that glimmerous fop. Like my total lack of a love life was going to bother me NOW.
You ever heard of Phoenix Wright, by any chance? He was a real sensation back in his day, before he lost his badge, thanks to the fop himself, no less. Well Mr. Wright was famous for something called ‘turnabout trials’ where he could take any case and turn it completely on its head at the last moment. Oh, law scholars have written entire papers on Mr. Wright and the turnabout trials. I did a thesis on the subject myself back in school. Anyway, you ever have one of those moments where you get this sinking pit in your stomach and you just know everything’s about to turnaround on you, as if your life was nothing but a turnabout trial itself? Yeah. THIS IS MY LIFE.
Let me back up a bit. Remember how I said I kept winning, and that Gavin sucked at board games? Well obviously he had to, big time, if he kept losing to a perpetual loser like me. But that’s where assuming things gets you into trouble. When there’s more than one possible answer to a situation, the simplest one is usually true. Barring that, the one that benefits you most is most likely false.
This is a rule I was quickly reminded of one game night. I packed up my things and helped Gavin put away the game, doing my gloating routine, as per usual. But as I slipped the game back in the packing box, I noticed that the Clue game’s top wasn’t put on properly. I tried to push it down into place, but met resistance. Something was preventing it from closing all the way. I pulled it out to arrange the pieces better, when I found the two slips from the last time we’d played. There was mine, covered in angry scribbles of my frustration, and Gavin’s…
…which was completely clean and had all the boxes eliminated save the correct answer.
So normally one might think, wow! How chivalrous of him to let me win! Uh, what, are we living in the 1800s? A woman doesn’t need a man to LET her win, and even so, I knew better than to believe the glimmerous fop would ever do something just to be polite. He had been mocking me the entire time. The last couple months were nothing bit a cruel inside joke. I flushed, humiliated as I remembered all my gloating and ungraceful victory dances. He must have been laughing so hard on the inside. Had he told our coworkers too? Were they placing bets on how long it would take me to figure it out, if at all?
I slammed the game back in the box, giving it a kick for good measure once I stood, unconcerned with damaging it, antique or not. Gavin jumped and began asking me if I was alright, calling me ‘Fraulein’ with so much false sweetness I wanted to gag. I grabbed my bag, slapped the old Clue slip in his face, and told him to go have serious relations with himself. I didn’t even care as he apologized, ignored him completely as he called me down the hallway—my name sounded like poison coming from him now—and stormed into my car. I didn’t care that I was probably fired for cursing out my boss. If I never set foot inside that forsaken office again, it would be too soon.
I didn’t cry or anything. I’m just not that kind. But hell if I didn’t get a crap load of pollen in my eyes.
I spent the weekend just moping around my apartment in my pajamas. It wasn’t like I had anywhere else to go or any friends to go visit. I ran out of ice cream quickly though, so I had to settle for yogurt. It didn’t fill the void. I even tried freezing it overnight, only to find exploded yogurt containers in my freezer the next morning. Huh, an aspiring scientist who didn’t understand basic pressure principles. THIS IS MY LIFE.
The moping probably would have bled over into Monday too, since I was positive I was unemployed now, except the traitorous jerk had a case that morning. Not my problem, right? Yeah, except I had ‘borrowed’ another lab file and forgotten to return it. Whoops.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have been perfectly content to throw my hands up in the air and still say, “Not my problem!” In fact, I did say it initially. But court cases were about more than just him and me and our petty grudges. People’s lives were on the line. I couldn’t just let a potentially guilty man go free, or an innocent man be thrown in jail. Besides, that’s called obstruction or something, and the last thing I needed was that smug bastard prosecuting me.
So I got up, fumbled into some street decent clothes, dropped my butt in my car and drove to the courthouse. I didn’t wear heels for once. I understood now why Mr. Wright didn’t even bother to shave in the mornings anymore. No, I didn’t wear sandals. That’s just taking the whole unencumbered vagabond thing too far. Sorry, Mr. Wright.
I intended just to give the file over to some bailiff or something. Lucky me, court was already in session, and the jerkwad security guard wouldn’t let me say a word while proceedings were in order. He ACTUALLY made me sit down and watch until a recess was called. So yes, I had to sit there, sweaty and gross, hair an unbrushed mess, in a stained old tracksuit which I was almost certain had holes in it somewhere, and fuzzy slippers while the object of my deepest ire stood there and shot his million watt smile at everyone. I bet you can guess where this is going. All together now! THIS. IS. MY. LIFE.
The trial dragged on and on. It was pretty clear the perp was guilty, but Justice had to make a nuisance of himself. I wanted to throw the lab results at the back of Justice’s big head and tell HIM to deliver them to the traitorous jerk, since the kid seemed so keen on delaying the trial and spending as much time with him as possible.
A couple hours in, and by then I suspected I was stinking up the place judging by the looks the people around me were sending in my direction, and I didn’t give a flying frack whether the guy was guilty or not. I wanted to go home, flop onto my bed, and curl up under the covers for the rest of my LIFE. MY LIFE. Which THIS IS.
When at last it looked like the judge was about to hand down a guilty verdict, Justice objected. Of course. Okay, I had a new most hated person on my list, right after my former boss, of course. The kid asked to see the lab results. Klavier snapped his fingers in tempo—SERIOUSLY, WHO DOES THAT?—condescendingly.
“Of course, Herr Forehead. It’s my pleasure to oblige!”
The traitorous jerk began looking through his files. His self-satisfied grin shrunk into a puzzled frown as he went on looking. He smiled up at the judge and calmly asked for his indulgence, “The file seems to have fluttered away on the breeze!”
He kept looking, growing more and more frantic by the moment. Of course, he would never find it because I had in secured in my lap. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from snickering; a deep, dark part of me secretly satisfied at watching the bastard squirm. Oh, what would he do when he found out the file wasn’t there at all? It’s not like he could do anything to me. I was already fired. If he tried to press charges on me for obstruction, well, I’d ditch the evidence and there would be no way he could prove I’d ever even seen the file.
Besides, I wasn’t about to draw attention to myself when in my current state. I was a hot mess, and the last thing I needed to give that traitorous jerk was more ammunition against me.
The jerk kept rifling through his files, checking every single individual sheet of paper. The judge cleared his throat, growing impatient. The jerk tried to smile his charming smile, but even I could see the sweat beading on his face. It reminded me of that cliché about the classroom dream where you’re not wearing any underwear. Classic! He might even get a penalty for this. Oh, I could hope!
“Mr. Gavin, we’ve waited long enough.”
“Just a moment, your honor! I’m certain she’s here. But you know women, the harder your pursue them, the harder they are to catch!”
Oh, his cute little phrases wouldn’t save him now.
“Mr. Gavin, you’re wasting the court’s time—”
“Sorry to keep you in a cadenza. It’s just… my detective…” Oh he was not about to blame this on me! Granted, I really did have the file, but still! It was the principle of the matter that offended me!
“Is Ms Skye okay?” Oh bless Justice’s puny bones, he could be clueless but at least he was sweet.
“To be honest, I don’t know.” The jerk furrowed his brow, none of his usual airy joviality present. “She didn’t come into work today, and we haven’t heard from her at all. Ah, not to say she can’t take care of herself. The Fraulein Detective is quite the formidable opponent when she wants to be. But it is concerning, nonetheless…”
Did he really think I was going to buy a cheap line like that!? What kind of idiot did he take me for? Did he think that I would just ‘overhear’ him compliment me and claim he’s worried, and then gush over him like a fangirl? Was he waiting for me to run up and hug him so he could pull another fast one? Well the joke was on him, because if I hugged him he’d just get sweat and yogurt stains all over his fine designer leather!
The thought was odd, I mean besides the obvious inherent bizarreness of the situation, and it took me a moment until it clicked. Of course he couldn’t have staged this. He didn’t know I was here. The fact that he was in this mess meant that he hadn’t known the file was missing, which meant he had no way of predicting that I’d come here and see him say that.
Not that this changed anything! So he said one sort of borderline nice thing. Probably just to take the focus off his mistake anyway.
That didn’t change what he had done to me.
Only it did, and I groaned, kicking myself for caving. I just couldn’t do this to him. Cynical as I am, I guess I’m just not that awful a person. Damn. He was even better than me at being evil.
“I’m right here tr—Mr. Gavin.” I stood up, using all my willpower not to call him an unsavory name out loud. “And I brought the file you left at your office.” No way I was going to take the blame for this. Nooo way. This was humiliating enough as it was.
His cocky grin was back full-swing in an instant. What I would have given to punch it off his face. I eyed the bailiff, wondering if it would be worth it, but decided not to. Letting him bother me would be letting him win. I wasn’t dressed for the detention center anyway.
“Decided to skip work to hole away at the gym, Fraulein? Playing hookey: you’re doing it wrong.” I rolled my eyes and slammed the file on his desk, not bothering to acknowledge him any further than that.
I turned to go, but just as I did, Justice requested a recess to review the lab results in detail. The judge actually friggin ALLOWED it. Of course, NOW they called a recess. I was ready to tear my hair out, when I felt someone take my arm—gently but firmly—and pull me through the crowd.
I already knew who it was by the time he tugged me out into the prosecutor’s lobby. “Don’t TOUCH me!” I shrieked, snatching my arm out of his grasp.
“Don’t you talk down to ME!” I jammed a finger into his chest, hitting his stupid metal necklace and hurting myself more than him. I recoiled, cradling my aching hand, and cast him a furious glare. “You’re a lying, dirty bastard and I don’t have a thing to say to you!”
I made a loud, frustrated sound over his attempts to talk. He kept trying, but I just kept talking over him, flinging insults. I really didn’t want to hear any of his trite little musical metaphors or charming little phrases. Every time he tried again, I just got louder, until people began to stare. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything anymore. I just wanted the glimmerous fop out of my LIFE.
“Ema.” He interjected gently, my mouth shutting itself at the sound. He never called me my real name, not ever. It was always teasing pet-names with him. “I know I gathered all the files from my office. You forgot to return this one again, didn’t you?”
I nodded contritely, wishing I could flee the scene, but he was probably a faster runner than me anyway.
“Danke. For bringing it to me. You always seem to remember these things at the most inopportune moment, but you come through nonetheless.”
His attitude reignited the fire in my stomach and I clenched my fists at my sides. “If you’re trying to butter me up—!”
“Nein, nein.” He shook his head, looking very tired all of a sudden. “I’m sorry for winning. Clue is a more difficult game to purposely lose. It leaves evidence.”
“I don’t care how sorry SAY you are! I won’t—” I stopped short, processing what he’d just said. He thought I was angry because he he’d won? I inhaled sharply, the memory of the first night and what he’d said about his crazy older brother flooding into my mind. Oh no… No, no, no… Was this really all just a ridiculous, sitcom-y misunderstanding?
“You can’t be serious.”
“Fraulein, if you’re calling me a liar, fine. But please don’t slap anymore evidence in my face. My nose is a national treasure, you know.”
“No, you emotionally stunted man child!” Gavin laughed. “Yes, yes, I know. You’re looking fine in black too, Mr. Pot.”
“How fine?” He grinned innocently. I scoffed, seriously reconsidering revisiting the punching-him-in-the-face option.
“Just turn it off for a second, fop!” He opened his mouth to say something, and I could already hear him making some crack about how his specialty was turning things ON, but I raised my hand to shut him up. “I wasn’t mad because you won. I work with you every day. I’m kinda used to you beating me at everything and being a smug, insufferable dolt about it!”
Gavin’s smile wavered. “But then, why…?”
“BECAUSE you let me win! Idiot, do you have any idea how insulting that it?” The blank look on his face clearly told me he didn’t. “It’s like saying I’m not good enough to play an honest game with you. It’s essentially mocking me.”
Gavin frowned sadly, looking every bit the part of a kicked puppy. A purebred, award winning puppy, but a kicked puppy nonetheless. “I never meant… Ema, if I wanted to mock you, I wouldn’t show you those sort of… things. Or charitably gift so much of my precious time to you.” Of course, what an honor. No mention of how I had wasted MY time playing musty old board games out of concern for him. Egocentric jerk. “Nein, I’d probably pick up on something more to the point, like how much shorter you look today than usual.”
I’m pretty sure I developed an eyetwitch that very moment. Making a mental note for the next time I asked myself why I bothered with heels in the first place, I interrupted Gavin just as he was starting to go on a rant about my entire outfit.
“Okay! Point made! Anyway, whatever. You got your file, and I’m sorry, I guess, for what I said last night.”
“And for crushing mein poor nose!” He whined.
“Yeah sure. That too.” I gestured dismissively. “I am going home now. Good luck with the trial.”
“See you tomorrow?”
I paused. Did that mean I still had my job? “Uh… okay.”
“Mm, and don’t forget to bring some ice on Friday.”
Now I really had no idea what he was talking about. Was he still whining about how much his nose hurt or was this some odd high-fashion trend/German custom I didn’t know about?”
“Well you’re going to need it,” he nodded seriously, “when I burn you at Clue.”
“Yeah, we’ll see about that.” I said as I slunk off towards the parking structure to find my car.
That’s another thing that annoys me. You can work yourself to the bone for something, plan your entire life around it, devote all your time, energy, and resources to it, and still lose out. Just like that. You just don’t get what you not only wanted, but actually earned. And then out of the blue, some silly thing you didn’t even ask for, that you only really got roped into by coincidence and misinterpretation, just sticks. Even when you royally screw up and get it all wrong, it stays constant, just a part of your life, as silly, innocuous, and unrequested as it is.
But you want to know the thing that really annoys me most? That I can whine and wheedle and moan and cry and snort and yell and complain all I want, but the fact of the matter is, even if we had it another way, our way, we’d just find something else to whine and wheedle and moan and cry and snort and yell and complain about. It’s human nature, scientifically speaking. So the very best we can hope for is to just take the short bursts of happiness as they go, whether we wanted them or not.
That’s just life.
And I mean, it’s not like you get a better offer.
If anyone can see this, way back in the olden days of '08, wave back!