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The Murder Next Door

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''Athena, you can go back, I'll take care of the rest myself'' announced Phoenix upon noticing the lawyer's face drooling over case papers. Athena stirred herself, trying to move her sore muscles, exhausted from tidying up some cases and folders labeled as closed. Without Apollo, work was piling quickly and the office felt rather empty. Now, she missed those infamous "Chords of Steel" of his. The young woman understood the red-demon's decision and went along. Instead of mopping over his absence she decided to look forwar tod the day he would come back to them, the day where the Wright Anything Agency would be complete again.

Apollo chose to remain in Khur'ain to help restore a fair legal system by taking over his foster father's law office. The man was called Dhurke Sahdmandhi. He was a famous lawyer in his younger days and the Queen's husband at that time, Amara. Together they already had a child, Nahyuta who successfully became a well-known international prosecutor. Apollo was thankful for Phoenix's guidance and teachings and knew he still had much to learn from him, thus the promise of his return. However, for now, he had to stay back in the spiritual kingdom, ensuring the revolution's success with the help of his brother Nahyuta and the crown princess Rayfa. Queen Amara would make sure to watch over the three of them instead of her late adored husband. The man sacrificed way too much but stood tall and firm despite of it all, never wavering and never giving up because a dragon never yields. He could rest in peace now that the most precious persons in the world to him embed this creed in their hearts and in their mind. Apollo was actually drowning under cases while Rayfa, Nahyuta's sister took upon herself to honor her duties and make herself worthy of the throne and her people. Datz was doing fairly well and was as active as always. Nahyuta was also freed from the chains that strained his heart, feeling like he could finally breathe again. Knowing Apollo was way beyond thinking about giving a visit to his mentor, he often offered to on his behalf, inquiring about everyone's well-being and even playing the mailman. Justice suspected there was another reason but knew he had all the time to look into it later. Not even the monk's sutras could win against Apollo's Chords of Steel and bracelet of truth.

Finally prepared to leave, Athena grabbed her things and made her way to the door, bidding goodbye to Trucy and her boss. Phoenix, worried, told her to be careful on her way home and thanked her for her hard work. If Athena never had a father, she saw Phoenix as such. Since arriving in LA three years ago, Athena only visited the Space Centre, her former home, thrice. After Phoenix cleared her name in Clay's murder and shed light on what happened on the fateful day her Mother –Metis Cykes- was murdered, Aura, Simon Blackquill's older sister offered that she moved back to the Space Center like she used to. The engineer felt guilty for lashing out her sadness, anger, and frustration unfairly on Metis's daughter. She was fully aware, deep in her heart, that the child had nothing to do with it all. However, Athena kindly refused but was grateful. Instead, she lived alone in a small studio her relatives bought to her as a way of congratulations on passing the bar. Athena still felt happy that Aura found in herself to forgive her after all the suffering she thought she caused her. The older woman was deeply concerned about her brother and his almost execution was just another catalyzer to her fall in despair. Athena heard the discord in her voice every time she spoke. It was so noisy, so sad, and so sorrowful it hurt her ears but it's exactly because of that she never despised or blamed Aura for hating her. The engineer was all but affection and shown-feelings but Athena knew that two people counted for everything in her world; Metis and Simon.

Another starless night was covering LA when Athena walked to her home. She never felt scared by herself at such late hours. Come what may, creeps would totally find their backs broken against the ground if they ever tried anything thanks to Athena's mad reflexes and great self-defense skills.

At home, she let herself crumble on her bed. Her studio was quite small but good enough for one person. She decorated the place in a way that matched her personality; warm, cozy and welcoming. When she arrived in America, the young lawyer was so eager to decorate the place fitting her tastes that she almost forgot her purpose of coming in the first place.

Eventually, Athena found the strength to drag herself to the bathroom for a relaxing shower. Later, the orange-haired lawyer shoved herself under blankets, widget quietly hanging around her neck. A pack of sweet strawberry ice cream in her hands, she proceeded to watch the following episodes of a soap drama she started recently on Maya's advice. She was eager to find out if Rafael really cheated on his wife Daniella. Athena enjoyed many kinds of series but it was her first telenovela. Those were just made of drama, affairs, and romance. At first, she doubted she would like something such as this but only one episode was needed to get her hooked up.

Halfway through the third episode of the night, Athena felt a sudden feeling of anxiety building up inside her. She tried to brush it off but Widget wouldn't allow it. His way of babbling her feelings to the open made her attempt pretty useless. It was not long before the feeling overwhelmed her. In the studio next door, she heard footsteps she didn't recognize. Those footsteps didn't belong to her neighbor at all. Her unique sense of hearing never deceived her. Just behind the wall, just meters away from her, something was surely happening and without knowing why the lawyer felt nauseated. It was quiet, a dreadful silence. The atmosphere was suffocating beyond understanding. Athena was a lawyer, an energetic and brave one at that. However, even the most courageous people could get frightened to the core by the unknown.

Simon silently accompanied the police in their hunt as they drove through the streets in a panic. The case at hand was a fairly famous one around the Prosecutor's district and Police Department, even gaining attention from the FBI. However, that case had already been closed twenty years ago so why bring it up? In fact, the criminal involved just escaped from prison three months away from his execution. The man was kept alive this long just for its psychiatric and psychologic importance. Actually, the wanted man was a dangerous serial killer.

Chief Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth requested that Simon Blackquill, being a master of psychology, was to be assigned to this case one year ago. In truth, the prosecutor's office was short on honest and capable prosecutors after the Dark Age of Law. Miles took upon himself to eradicate the office from every corrupted and malicious prosecutors such as Payne. He actually started quite early by displaying Prosecutor's Portsman wrongdoings to the open some years ago. Today, the prosecutor's office counted over 5 great and honorable prosecutors including him. Among them were Klavier Gavin, former rockstar, and rockin' prosecutor. After what happened in Khur'ain the poor man begged Ema to go back working at his side making her assigned to every single one of his cases. There was also Sebastian Debeste, a prosecutor who proved himself worthy of his badge. Diego Armando, a former lawyer and convict and last but not least, Simon Blackquill the infamous "Twisted Samurai". Sometimes, Franziska Von Karma would lend a hand by using her position in Interpol as an asset.

In the meantime, Simon was going through the serial killer's psychological profile. Catching the man was of utmost importance. The murderer they were after was a horrifically disturbing psychopath. His love for slaughter and blood baths made him more of a terrifying wild beast than a typical homicidal maniac traumatized by his past or childhood. His favorite activity besides killing was to bathe himself in his victim's blood and he didn't particularly give a care about leaving evidence behind. The man didn't have a weapon of predilection either; he used whatever was at hand to murder his victims. The killer's favorite dish was usually women. Sometimes he would go for children or men. However, he thought women were softer to the touch and were truly magnificent when the blood covered their bodies.

Simon closed the folder with a sigh of disgust. Even more, details were mentioned but reading them was boring Simon to death. Not long after the madman escaped from prison, the police managed to find his track. The twisted samurai grew anxious as they drove through awfully familiar streets. The night was dark, abyssal even. It crept into Simon's heart like a disgusting otherworldly creature. A ringing, barely heard, resonated in the car, covered by the deafening screams of the siren. Simon ruffled through his pocket, bringing his phone out.

'Athena' he murmured

Then it shot him, of course, the streets were familiar. The next moment, Simon found himself grabbing the car's driver from behind as if his life was depending on it, shooting him the deadliest glare he could come up, and roared

''Drive faster dammit!!''

Confused, the policeman mumbled 'B-but'

''I SAID DRIVE FASTER DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND!'' demanded the prosecutor in rage

Fearing for his life, the officer obeyed despite all the police cars ahead of them, sometimes almost crashing into one of them. The ride seemed unbearably long as they flashed past the light poles, startling pedestrians out of their pants and strays cats out of the garbage cans. Finally, they reached their final stop. Not even waiting for the car to stop, Simon hoped down, borrowing a gun in the process. The prosecutor tried to remain as calm and composed as possible but his worry only grew stronger for the person he as supposed to protect.

Athena hid under her blankets, shaking. This feeling sent her back to her past, something she was supposed to let go of. However, being a psychology expert she knew that even if she was over her fears, sometimes, they could resurface without warning. Soon enough, she heard a herd of footsteps rushing next door and a loud knock on her own door. Somehow, she knew who it belonged to and rushed to open the doorway. Just as she opened the door, she felt a pair of strong arms pulling her into a tight embrace. The young woman gasped 'Simon!' before feeling all her fears and insecurities fade away.

Athena could feel the fear and worry in his voice as he answered by a 'Stupid woman'. However, at the same time, she felt strong relief and happiness. She understood that the man was worried sick about her and in a way, it made her understand that the pack of policeman meant that something indeed happened next door. The next moment, looking over Simon's shoulder she noticed the officers struggling to take out a man madly laughing and covered in sticky red blood. Slowly, Simon loosened his grip on Athena, and stared at her looking for anything that could be off. Satisfied, Simon walked over to the crime scene. Not losing a second, he gave his orders the detective I charge. Unfortunately, they arrived way too late. The madman seemed to have allowed himself a little treat before his execution. The crime scene was fully painted in red. Shaken but still curious, Athena tried taking a look at the scene. She tiptoed behind a police officer only to find her view voluntarily obstructed by Simon.

''You shouldn't peek inside. Nothing children can handle.'' Warned the prosecutor

''I'm not a-fine, I get it'' pouted Athena but her pout quickly changed into a sorrowful look ''So…she is…dead?''

''Yes'' replied Blackquill

''I-I see''

If Simon didn't want her to see what was inside, it was for own good. She was aware of it and yet, her imagination started running wild about the state of the corpse they found…if it could still be called a corpse.

Simon supervised the team but kept a close eye on Athena. Even though he kept his usual demeanor and look, he was amazed and impressed by how swiftly Athena composed herself and got back to her cheerful personality. In a way, he felt like he was left behind all these years while the shy little girl he knew metamorphosed into a bright and strong-willed woman, quick to get back on her feet. Sometime later, the young lawyer came back to the police with coffee and snacks. She actually would have preferred helping out with their job but Simon would never allow it.

''Here, yours'' said Athena as she offered a cup to Simon. The dark prosecutor eyed the cup before accepting it

''Thank you'' he whispered

''No problemo'' grinned the young woman

Then the lawyer sighed

''What is it?'' asked Simon, puzzled

''Oh, a sigh of relief. There is no more discord in your heart''

''D-discord? Your ears must be broken Cykes-dono.''

''Oh Gosh, here you go. Way to destroy a wonderful bonding moment buddy''

Blackquill only smirked. Now, it has been two years since he met with Athena after his incarceration. The Athena he used to take care of and play with was no longer the same. Before him was a young brave and beautiful woman he had to protect at all costs even though sometimes, he felt like the one being protected by her.

Unnoticed by Athena, Simon was gently gazing at her while she offered another cup of coffee to one of the officers. Indeed, now that he was back for good, he would be able to fully dedicate himself to protect and take care of the woman he fell in love with.