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A Mark On The Record

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"The Defense is ready, your Magister."

But no response came from the Prosecutor. In fact, the prosecution bench was completely empty.

"Prosecutor Sahdmadhi?" the Magister said.

Prosecutor Sahdmadhi did not suddenly spring up from underneath, like he had simply bent down to pick up a dropped dahma. The bench remained empty as the seconds ticked by.

The crowd began to murmur as seconds became minutes. Prosecutor Sahdmadhi had never once been late, not even to his father's trial.

"Maybe he had to attend to some Regent duty," Apollo said.

"Bailiff! Track down Prosecutor Sahdmadhi at once--"

But before the bailiff could even answer, the door opened behind them. Prosecutor Sahdmadhi finally appeared, in a much more disheveled state than usual. He tugged at his slightly uneven collar.

"I apologize most sincerely to the court for my lateness. I was...otherwise occupied by something of the utmost importance."

His braid was coming undone down his shoulder. Traces of lipstick covered the collar of his coat, and indeed a bit had been missed across his jaw in his dash to get dressed.

He opened a scroll and started his opening statements.

"Ahem. The prosecution asserts that the accused, Fr'ame'd On'he viciously took the murder weapon, a vase, and used it against the victim, D'ed G'ai. And to this matter, the prosecution would like to submit evidence--the cracked vase. Ema, if you will. Er---" he cleared his throat. "Detective Skye. Please submit it into evidence."

"Yeah, I got it," Ema said.

She held up pictures of the case, enough that she herself was largely obscured by the large shots.

"I put it together the best I could. It really cut up my fingers yesterday... If you want the whole thing, you're going to have to wait. It's way too heavy for me to carry out here."

Objection!

Apollo pointed out towards her, in a massive objection. "If it was too heavy for Ema to lift, then how could have Fr'ame'd On'he managed it?!"

Ema rolled her eyes at him. "Seriously? You're doing this already? Before I've even had my coffee?" She let out an annoyed breath. "If you'd waited a second, you would've heard that Nahyuta asserts that Fr'ame'd On'he pushed the vase off of her balcony. D'ed G'ai had been harassing her for a while, because she refused to date him. Sounds like he deserved what he got."

Objection!

"Please keep your additional comments about the victim to yourself," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.

"Agreed," the Magister said.

"I'm just saying," Ema said. She laid down the pictures, finally, and the court audience was set aflutter. But it wasn't the vase that made the court gasp.

Her green vest had been so hastily buttoned that part of it was undone. Unlike Prosecutor Sahdmadhi, her neck wasn't covered by a collar. Today, her little tied pink scarf was gone, and her shirt was buttoned so carelessly that her neck was largely exposed. Dark circular marks covered her neck. Her lipstick perfectly matched the color on his collar, and missed at his jaw. Not only that, it was freshly smudged.

Ema ran her fingers through her unbrushed, and distinctly mussed brown hair. "Sorry, I slept through my alarm. I didn't get much sleep last night," Ema said.

She dug through her bag to find her Snackoos, which only revealed more hickies that had been hidden away.

Murmurs went across the court, and even a bit of laughter. The Magister slammed the gavel down. "Order, we will keep order in this court. The state of Detective Skye has no bearing on this case."

Ema smirked. "What? You think that's something, you should see what that monk's collar is hiding."

Apollo full on gasped, like his case had been destroyed. "What?!"

Ema put her hands on her hips and glared. "Oh, don't give me that hypocrisy! I remember you and Prosecutor Gavin. I had to knock on every door because I just knew all that tension was going to explode one of those days."

Apollo blushed bright red. "That's---Jeez--Objection! I don't want these mental pictures of you and Nahyuta."

"Then don't look. Look at the evidence instead," Ema said.

Satorha!

Prosecutor Sahdmadhi clutched tight to his rosary. "This....is not related to the case. We must get back to reading the rites for the deceased."

Ema brushed her brown hair back. "I really should've just come in late and gotten a coffee," Ema said.

"Perhaps you are right. ...Just one more thing. Yes...Ema---Detective Skye. You forgot your scarf. Perhaps a short recess to ensure that you are not cold?"

Ema shrugged. "Eh, the cat's out of the bag now. With the way rumors spread around here, everyone in the entire country will know by noon. Yes, it's true. So what?"

The Magister laughed. "How true. I remember a scene like this. Our very own Queen Amara and Dhurke coming in late, in such a state. Her hair all in tangled, her cheeks as pink as her ceremonial robes, and Dhurke couldn't stop smiling. It was little surprise when they were married shortly after, or when you, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi were born seven months later."

Ema smirked. "Seven months, huh."

"I will grant your recess. Now, Detective Skye and Prosecutor Sahdmadhi, please compose yourselves."

"If we got a forty-five minute recess we could..."

"Ema, shh--"

"I was going to say get donuts. What did you think I was saying?"

He softly gave an order to a bailiff as they passed. The door of the courtroom closed behind them, and muffled the sounds of the audience.

*

The waiting room was small. One mirror for tidying up before returning to court, two chairs, a bookcase full of scrolls--they were around every corner in the law office--and a small refrigerator.

"When you'd get that installed?" Ema asked.

"Just last week. I wanted it to be a surprise."

"It looks awesome. Really, I'm glad to see all the little additions you're making to the country," Ema said.

"Like a fair court system and far less executions?" he said.

"I was talking about the coffee shop, burger place, and expanded electricity, but that's good too," Ema said.

Ema finger-combed her hair back into submission, and rebuttoned her vest. She pulled out her lipstick thoughtfully, then put it back and rubbed the remainder off with a napkin.

Nahyua closed his eyes solemnly. "I cannot fathom that I missed the morning prayer. They say I was so austere that I rose even as a baby at the sound of the bells."

"There's a first time for everything," Ema said.

Ema glanced at him through the mirror. "You know the normal gestation period for babies is 9 months, right? And you don't seem to have any signs of a preemie baby like being severely underweight as a child. I've seen your baby pictures, remember. Queen Amara just couldn't wait to show them off."

"I am aware. ...She took such glee in showing such humiliating pictures."

"That's motherhood for you. Apparently this place is way wilder than anybody guessed. And here I thought working with Phoenix and Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth as well as Prosecutor Gavin and Apollo was something. They were all putting us all to shame all those years ago." She let out a little laugh. "Maybe it's just a law thing that transcends courts and countries. You know, there might even be science to it."

"There's a scientific theory that those that work to protect the sacred law are more...ahem, aroused? active?"

"Well, law is deeply stressful. The body wants to protect itself from stress in any way possible, and sex releases happy brain chemicals. So do snacks, for that matter," Ema said.

He raised his pale eyebrows teasingly at her. "Happy brain chemicals? Is that the scientific term?"

Ema puffed out her cheeks. "Oh, hush."

She reached up and dabbed a wet napkin at his collar, but it only made the color bleed more.

"Guess I really should've packed my detergent stick. Great for getting snack stains out of shirts. And lipstick."

He brought her hands to his lips. "I would gladly wear it, like a banner of your love hoisted high."

"You wanna show off a banner, just undo your collar." There were more than one bite marks there, to say nothing of the many, many hickies.

"Some things are best left unstated," he said. "And yet..."

He pulled off his gold and white outer frock, leaving only the deep red turtleneck he wore beneath, and placed it over her shoulders.

"The court got to see a side of you that I did not want to share. Now I must remind them not to think of you in any terms but as mine. Not my property, for you are your own person, but my love."

"Eh, don't worry. I know you would never think of me in caveman terms. Besides, it's pretty hot. Sure, it's full on lizard brain, but it's all really primal, so it hits hard. Marking and being protective of a mate--it's all very common in the animal kingdom. Just in humans, we tend to use rings and last names."

"Ema, my love, Is that a suggestion?"

"Actually, I'm just sciencing, but if you sprung something shiny on me, I wouldn't say no," Ema said.

He kissed the top of her head. "Love, we must get back to the courtroom. The recess will soon be over."

She yawned. "I should've gotten a coffee. I'm going to be wrecked today. I think I got all of an hour's sleep. I don't know how you look so refreshed."

"I am used to long travel, hours of prayers and fasts."

"That'd do it. Guess it comes with the Monk class," Ema said.

His brow furrowed in thought. "Is this your...Dee and Dee thing?"

Ema smiled. "Yup! You remembered! One day when we have a free moment, we need to play. I'll get the books and help you make up your character. Of course, that would require us actually having a break.. And having more than just us. Maybe Apollo will come along."

"Certainly. One more thing--before we left, I tasked one of the bailiffs with bringing you a coffee. By now, he should be back at the courtroom with it ready. Just be sure not to spill it on yourself when Apollo brings out some fanciful bluff," he said.

"Jeez, you're incredible. I'd be a fool to let you get away at this rate."

"That is not something you have to worry about," he said.

Ema reached up to kiss him one last time, and rolled his turtle neck down just enough to show a big mark she'd left. Just to remind everyone in the court that he was definitely off the market.

"Ema, are you being inappropriate again?" he said.

She grinned. "If you get to have the coat on me, I get to have a fraction of an inch of more of your neck revealed."

He sighed, but it was a fond sigh, a what am I going to do with you? sigh. "I will allow it. But please keep your mind upon the case. And do not work yourself into exhaustion. After all, there is tonight to think about..."

"An encore?" She winked. "Let's put last night to shame."