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21 April 2010 @ 11:44 pm
Title: Façade
Fandom: Ace Attorney
Spoilers: Case 4 of PW: Justice for All.
Pairing(s): Adrian Andrews/Celeste Inpax; Celeste Inpax/Juan Corrida
Genre: Angst.
Warnings/Rating: Slight, slight AU because the timeline has my brain in knots. Why yes, I am all about covering my ass. Otherwise... none? WAIT, WHAT? AND IT'S A PG? WTFFFFF.
Notes: Adrian is such a challenge to write, I love her ♥ I have many thinky thoughts on the matter, but I feel silly even typing them up, so I won't bother you with them right now :3 I am definitely going to need to make some Adrian icons if I keep writing her like this, though...
Summary: Adrian struggles to cope with the news.

It's an impromptu party, mainly consisting of the station's staff and a collection of friends from over at Global, but the mood is jubilant. It's a Friday afternoon, after all, and for once they have a legitimate excuse to get drunk at work. Someone has brought a stereo into their office, the alcohol is flowing, and Adrian can't get away from the howling strains of "Don't Stop Believin'" as sung in gruff monotone by the Steel Samurai. She clutches her own glass tightly as she casts a surreptitious glance at the couple around whom the festivities are circulating.

Celeste, leaning comfortably into a laughing Juan's side, is glowing. The smile on her lips is small, controlled, but Adrian knows it well enough to see the joy behind it. She remembers kissing that mouth, the taste of wine and lipstick on her tongue, and before she knows it she is turning on her heel, topping up her glass shakily from one of the many trays littering an unfortunate intern's desk. Well, at least she isn't drinking straight from the bottle, she reasons. No jury on earth would convict her for getting spectacularly drunk today.

"Whoah there... Ms. Andrews, isn't it?"

She looks up into the slightly alarming, unmasked face of Will Powers, who is holding a beer and grinning widely, the remaining parts of his costume in endearing disarray, having come straight from work at the rival studio.

"Adrian Andrews, yes," she says politely, taking a sip of champagne. Her voice sounds odd; almost disembodied, somehow. "What happened to Journey? You have a very... unusual style."

He laughs, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. "Everyone else wanted Lady Gaga. I guess you could say I was overruled."

"Ah," she replies idiotically, clucking her tongue. Unable to find more words than this, she takes another long sip of her drink. Will stares at her, his brows creased.

"Hey, are you all right? You look kind of funny..."

She forces a smile. "I'm fine. I'm just not very good with champagne."

"No, me neither," Will admits, nodding at the beer can in his gloved hand. He takes a swig, following her gaze over the top of the can. "Yeah, great news, isn't it? I've never seen Ms. Inpax looking so happy."

"Mmm," Adrian hums noncommittally. Her eyes catch Celeste's across the room, and Adrian finds she can't drag hers away fast enough. Another gulp of champagne burns through her, the glass now empty. She refills it from a bottle at her elbow. Will gives her a perturbed smile, and seems indescribably relieved when a voice calls his name from the other side of the office.

"Hey Will, come do "Poker Face" with me?"

"Oops, duty calls!" he grins, looking a little embarrassed. He casts another confused glance at the glass in her hand. "Hey, it's been nice to meet you properly, Adrian... uh, take care, okay?"

She nods curtly, but gives him a smile to soften it as he wends his way around the desks towards the stereo, feeling her own cheeks redden slightly at this stranger's kindness. She's not that drunk, is she? Maybe it's not too late to slip out gracefully, before she makes a complete fool of herself...

She's almost to the door when a hand catches her arm.

"Adrian, you're not going, are you? We were going on to dinner at the Gatewater after this, I know it's your favourite..." Celeste's face is so full of knowing concern, Adrian can barely stand it. She can smell her perfume now, and she remembers smelling that same musk on her pillowcases the morning after; recalls all too clearly how she held the pillow to her face, smiling like some kind of idiotic schoolgirl as she inhaled, thinking this is the best I will ever feel.

"I'm sorry, Celeste, I'm feeling a little sick," she says, averting her eyes from Celeste's almond-shaped brown ones. "I think I must have caught that bug that's going around. You go on without me, okay?"

Celeste frowns, looking unsettled. Her hand on Adrian's arm tenses; unwittingly, Adrian glances down at it, and finds herself face to face with the elegant, white-gold engagement ring that she has come to hate so much in the last few hours. She shifts herself free, shaking her head apologetically as she makes for the door. Celeste follows her into the corridor, raising a placating hand to Juan over her shoulder.

"Tell him I'll be back in a minute, Adrian's not feeling well," she says into the room, before shutting the door behind her. Adrian stops, but it's like her insides keep moving - she finds herself gripping the banister with both hands. Celeste just looks at her.

"Please stay," she says quietly. "It wouldn't be the same without you, you know that."

"This isn't about me, Celeste. This is your day."

Celeste folds her arms. "And I want you to be part of it. You're my friend as well as my colleague, you silly woman. How could I celebrate my engagement without you?"

Adrian feels her fragile resolve shuddering under the strain. All she wants is for this to go away, for it to stop and for them to go back to before; but how could she take away Celeste's happiness like that? Selfish, selfish, selfish, a little voice inside her chants, and she believes it more with every repetition.

"Hey, hey," Celeste interrupts, her eyes softening with worry. "Don't do that, Adrian. I know you're beating yourself up for what happened, but that wasn't - "

"That's not - I'm not - " the pressure behind Adrian's eyes is building, making it difficult to think. She rubs at them behind her glasses, hoping to delay any oncoming tears in the process. "I'm just happy for you. This is wonderful news, Juan is a lovely man, and I'm just... I'm happy for you. That's all."

"Oh, honey," Celeste says, swallowing. She gazes at Adrian sadly for a moment, before abruptly pulling her into a hug. "Don't worry so, Adrian. It's all going to be all right from now on; I know it will be."

Adrian can barely fight back the burning in her throat as she detaches herself, rubbing her eyes once more. She looks into Celeste's face and sees nothing but desperate hope looking back at her. It makes her feel like sobbing.

"Come on, have dinner with us?" Celeste offers gently, brushing the hair back from Adrian's cheek. "It'll make you feel better."

Adrian can't help herself: she catches hold of Celeste's hand as it falls back to her side. Celeste lowers her eyes. "Adrian, no..."

She drops the brunette's hand as though burnt, her face flushing. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."

"It's all right. I just... can't. I'm sorry, too." Celeste sighs heavily, pressing her palm to her chest as though to keep her heart from escaping. "I take full responsibility for getting you involved in all of this, Adrian, and I will never forgive myself if it impacts upon your future. You have such promise, you know that... please don't let a trifling matter like this overshadow your talent. Please... don't squander your gift on my account."

Adrian opens her mouth to respond, her mind already flipping through various protests and counter-arguments, but Celeste shakes her head. "No, Adrian... we need to draw a line under this. It's a new beginning, for both of us."

The way she asserts this last statement leaves no room for further argument; all thoughts of fighting back seem to dissolve uselessly in Adrian's throat, and she is left nodding stupidly, the hollow in her chest aching more than it has done all day.

Celeste lets out a breath, seemingly relieved, and then gives Adrian a small, encouraging smile, the private kind that always felt like it was reserved especially for her.

"Now, I don't know about you, but I could do with some food to soak up that quite frankly foul champagne. Come on, let's go see if we can hurry them along a little, hmm?"

Adrian looks at her, her heart aching; in that moment she sees, more clearly than ever, the beautifully constructed, seamless façade Celeste so effortlessly wears, the mask she can destroy and reconstruct in the blink of an eye.

Adrian finds herself nodding. It is mechanical at first, but the lie becomes smoother with every passing breath.

"Yes," she hears herself say. "That sounds like a plan."

Current Mood: scaredscared
Current Music: Frou Frou - It's Good To Be In Love
Simon: Oh Kaya ♥prunesquallormd on April 28th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)

This is so sad, but lovely too. I've not even encountered Adrian and Celeste, but the feelings here are so beautifully drawn it's heartbreaking.
The image of the Steel Samurai singing Don't Stop Believin' and Lady Gaga (hmmmm, Bad Romance, maybe?) is so cute, and a very nice juxtaposition to all those emotions bubbling just under the surface.
Just lovely ♥
Berlioz, apparently: Maya &heartsperverbially on May 1st, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, darling ♥ Honestly, I am such a sucker for unrequited love in fiction; it's probably really blatant, huh? :/ I don't know why, since it sucks so much ass in real life, but I guess it's just one of those things...
Simon: Effy - breakingprunesquallormd on May 2nd, 2010 10:09 am (UTC)
Oh god, I'm exactly the same. I think maybe it's a catharsis thing? All those intense, painful emotions displaced somewhere else, and just showing you that you're not alone in how you feel.
Or something :)