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The Justice Anything Agency

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I

“Allow me to explain.” Ahlbi pushed himself up on his tip-toes, and Apollo tried not to notice how they were practically eye-to-eye. “You have so many clients coming through your office these days. Some have lived in Khura’in all their lives and don’t or barely remember when defense attorneys practiced here. Others are tourists from outside of Khura’in who are looking to see the historic sole defense attorney office in our country’s legal revolution.”

“Who told people this place was historic?” Apollo asked, his eyes searching the only recently spider-free room. Maybe the old coffee table and scratched desk—somewhere under the splash of tourist brochures Apollo had walked in to find this morning—looked historic, but that had more to do with lack of upkeep than national significance.

Ahlbi blinked rapidly, his green eyes practically sparkling with delight.

Apollo sighed. “So, you’re already cornering tourists in the bazaar, and now you want to inundate them with more travel advertising at the sites you send them to?”

“It’s not ‘cornering.’” A soft bark from within the depths of Ahlbi’s enormous shoulder bag seemed to endorse his statement. The faint squeeze around Apollo’s wrist said otherwise. He rubbed his arm just below the golden bracelet he always wore. “It’s…mutual endorsement for one another’s professional endeavors.”

“It’s what, now?”

“Allow me to explain.” Ahlbi straightened his posture and grinned. The empty space where a baby tooth had been missing when Apollo first reopened the Sahdmadhi Law Office now had a grown-up tooth breaking through. “I’ve been studying some of your law books, especially to work on my English! An extensive vocabulary will impress tourists for sure.”

“For sure,” Apollo echoed

“So…it’s all right, isn’t it?” Ahlbi leaned forward again, his eyes unfairly huge and doe-like. “If I put out a few brochures here? Just on the table. You have so many custo—clients that people must need to sit and wait to speak with you. People like having things to read.”

“Ahlbi, people don’t come to a law office as a tourist attraction. They come when they need legal counsel.” Apollo studiously avoided eye contact, staring just over Ahlbi’s head instead, where a picture of Dhurke with Ahlbi-aged Nahyuta and Apollo hung framed on the opposite wall. “And people who need legal counsel don’t need brochures. This isn’t a travel agency.”

“But it is an office,” Ahlbi said, “and an office and an agency are pretty similar things, wouldn’t you say?”

Beside the picture from Apollo’s childhood hung another taken only a year ago in a courtroom lobby after a hard-earned acquittal: Apollo at the edge of the frame, Trucy and Athena cheesing for the camera beside him, Phoenix Wright leaning over the three of them from behind and squishing them all into a bear hug of sorts.

“I suppose they are,” he said, knowing it was a mistake the moment the admission was out of his mouth.

 

II

It was July. Freaking July, and Ema was wearing a jacket. Not even a light jacket, not even a cute little shrug, but a fall jacket, the waist-length kind with a little extra lining and not-just-for-show pockets. Which her gloved hands were currently crammed into.

Beside her, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi looked almost scandalously underdressed in his white mandarin-collared shirt and slim slacks tucked into his boots. The outfit screamed attending a polo match for charity, not attending a crime scene for investigating.

“Aren’t you freezing?” Ema managed through her chattering teeth. Prosecutor Sahdmadhi glanced over, blinked in slow motion the way he always did when she said something that she knew didn’t compute for him. After his usual pause, his expression softened into a smile.

“I grew up in the mountains,” he said gently. “Ones even higher than this. I’m afraid I don’t feel the cold the way you do. Is it much warmer in America?”

Much warmer! It should be beach weather right now! Fireworks and hot dogs and frying eggs on the sidewalk.”

Alarm flashed across Prosecutor Sahdmadhi’s face. “You cook on the ground in America? I walked the streets of Los Angeles. This doesn’t seem sanitary.”

“N-No, we don’t…you don’t eat the egg, you just fry it.”

“But why?”

“Because you can. Because it’s so hot out.” Ema gestured and Prosecutor Sahdmadhi blinked again. “Because it is scientifically possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk.”

“Of course,” he acquiesced, and Ema wasn’t sure if she were more pleased or annoyed that he accepted science as a reasonable answer without her actually explaining the in-depth workings of it. His attention turned downward then, and Ema’s followed it to the body on the ground, a sheet covering it. “Will the cold interfere with your ability to estimate a time of death?”

Ema clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth in disbelief. “Interfere? Cold, interfere with my investigation? Witness the power of science, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi.” She adjusted her sunglasses for emphasis, and he turned away, but not before she caught a hint of a laugh around the corners of his mouth.

 

III

“Gavin.”

Klavier looked up from his triage of monitors, a split second of blurred vision before the two Chief Prosecutors before him merged into one. “Ah, Chef. What can I do for you?”

Herr Edgeworth crossed one ankle over the other and leaned back against the door frame, the closest to casual he could muster. Folded over one arm was his raincoat, and in his hands was his briefcase. Klavier frowned, brought a hand to his face and rubbed at his eyes with his thumb and index finger. Blinked blearily, looked up again. No, his blurred vision hadn’t deceived him. The Chief Prosecutor was clearly on his way out.

“Trial today?” Klavier guessed, shoulders relaxing.

“At six p.m. on a Friday? Can you imagine? The traffic would be barbaric.” A wry smile quirked at Herr Edgeworth’s lips. Klavier scrambled in place where he sat on the floor and bit back a cry of pain at the cramps that spiked through his legs as he jerkily unfolded them from the lotus position. Just how long had he been sitting like this? It was only twenty minutes or so, right?

The Chief Prosecutor didn’t say a word as Klavier struggled to his hands and knees and lurched to his feet.

“What time were you in this morning, Gavin? I didn’t see you come in.”

“You, ah, must’ve been hard at work,” Klavier hedged.

“Gavin.” Herr Edgeworth shifted his briefcase from one hand to the other and pointed out of Klavier’s open office door and down the hallway, his hand just visible from beneath the raincoat. “See that corner office there? The one with all the windows that let in natural sunlight, and the fully glass walls and door that let its occupant see everything in the office?” His hand disappeared beneath his raincoat again, that same faint amusement in his expression. “That is the Chief Prosecutor’s office. For what it’s worth, I have been in the office since seven. Though I did take an hour for lunch.”

Klavier rubbed his eyes again. “Ach, I’ve just been putting in a few extra hours, Chef. Lots of work for everyone with half the staff.”

Guilt leaked into Herr Edgeworth’s expression at that. “Yes. You’re correct. I stand by my decision to purge our office of corrupt employees, but I recognize the burden it puts on the rest of you, if only temporarily.”

“I don’t mind,” Klavier said quickly, his quip having backfired. “Really, Herr Edgeworth, I like my work. Lay it on me, as many cases as you’d like. That’s what I’m here for.”

The Chief Prosecutor’s smile returned, more wan than ever. “Go home, Gavin. Eat something, sleep. Please.”

At the word sleep, Klavier’s eyelids slurred downward of their own accord. He blinked once, twice, hard, and forced his eyes and smile both to widen. “Dinner and bed at six p.m. on a Friday? Can you imagine?”

Herr Edgeworth exhaled shortly through his nose, politely bid Klavier a good night, and left. The last few holdouts throughout the office departed shortly after him, free to go once the Chef clocked out for the night. Klavier turned back to his monitors, the news running, muted, in one window, e-mail in another, documents, documents, sticky notes and to-do memos peppered throughout.

Three militant raps on his doorframe startled Klavier out of his next bout of paperwork. He looked up into a shadow.

“Gavin-dono, you’re still here?”

“Ah, Herr Samurai.” Simon Blackquill’s stern face faded into focus. Klavier squinted a bit to see him. “I didn’t realize you were still here, too.”

“What are you working on?”

Uhm…” Klavier glanced back at his screens. “What am I not working on, my twisted friend?”

“Dodging my question, are you, scalawag? Is it because you’re so sleep-deprived you can’t remember a document you were reading thirty seconds ago?” Herr Samurai tapped one index finger to his temple, a feather at his lips tilting up with his smirk. “Or are you feeling defeated knowing that you are not the last man standing in the Prosecutor’s Office this evening? Not that you look strong enough to stand right now.” He laughed at his own…joke? Klavier shook his head.

“All right, Herr Samurai, I get the picture. I’ll pack up my work, you pack up your analysis.”

“Good choice.” Herr Samurai didn’t move from the doorframe and stared until Klavier saved his files and powered down. “You work more diligently than ever lately, Gavin-dono. At what cost, I wonder?”

“What did I say about your analysis?” Klavier chuckled, easing into his suit jacket and clicking his briefcase shut.

“Maybe you should take a vacation,” Herr Samurai added. He stepped aside when Klavier made it to the door and kept step with him all the way to the elevator.

“A vacation?” Klavier laughed, but not before the image of a glitzy hotel room came to mind…a balcony overlooking the beach…a glass of wine…a king-sized bed with an extra soft mattress, sheets warm from the laundry, and all the pillows he could ever want…

The elevator dinged, the doors opening to the garage where only Klavier’s car remained.

“Where is your…?” Klavier asked.

“The office is but a brisk walk for me, Gavin-dono.”

“You can’t drive.”

“I can. In fact,” Herr Samurai said, holding out his hand. “Keys…Exhausted Workaholic-dono.”

Klavier handed them over.

The ride was quiet save for the monotone directions from the GPS. Herr Samurai drove like a ninety-year old, which suited the sleepy fog in Klavier’s mind just find. Klavier asked twice if it were more than a brisk walk home for Herr Samurai from his apartment in downtown L.A. Herr Samurai must have made another one of his…jokes…based on his banging on the steering wheel with laughter, but Klavier missed the punchline.

Herr Samurai dutifully parked Klavier’s car in his apartment’s garage and returned the keys, folded in a piece of paper.

“This arrived in the Prosecutor’s Office’s general mail this morning,” he said when Klavier gave him a questioning look. “Farewell, Gavin-dono.”

It wasn’t until he’d made it to the elevator up to his apartment that Klavier unfolded the paper. At first, alarm coursed through him—it looked like some sort of ransom note—but his dizzy mind soon recognized it as a flyer, what looked like a child’s advertisement.

Dear Legal Professionals and Enthusiasts of the Los Angeles Prosecutor’s Office,

NOW OPEN, COME SEE!! The HISTORIC Justice Law Offices of the Kingdom of Khura’in. Part of the REVOLUTION TOUR PACKAGE, or a site to see on its own!

Come visit the Kingdom of Khura’in and discover the past, present, and future of our legal system!

Now open for guided tours. Ask for Ahlbi.