Rain pounded dismally against the iron bars of the Los Angeles District Prison. Dim moonlight filtered through, painting the features of a shackled prisoner. His grey eyes stared down at the cuffs that bound his hands. Footsteps could be heard approaching, and a guard appeared in the doorway. The sound of jangling keys signalled that the door was unlocked. The prisoner rose silently and exited.
The courtroom's doors swished open and the man was led in. Murmurs and hushed whispers could be heard throughout the room. The man's gaze averted towards the defence bench. He scowled. Standing on the other side was someone he vaguely recognised; a girl clad in yellow with bright orange hair. He dismissed her presence from his mind. She was a stranger to him and so was he.
He let out a sigh of boredom and placed himself by the prosecuting bench. He kept his face hidden; his back turned on the public.
"That's him, I'm sure of it...Prosecutor Blackquill.", whispered the yellow-clad lawyer.
His name was Simon Blackquill, and he was a prosecutor. It seemed strange to be in that particular profession as he was still serving time. Blackquill honestly did not care; the public could shame him, the lawyers could taunt him, but it was none of his concern. They gave him a name that was imprinted like a tattoo.
He was called the "Twisted Samurai".
The nickname suited him as he was clad in a Japanese surcoat; his family crest emblazoned on the back. He tended to swear at people and address them rudely. He would refer to people using out-dated honorifics and nicknames. But he had the will and power of a trained samurai.
"Very well, if both parties have no objections I shall now pass my verdict," The judge cleared his throat. "This court finds the defendant, Damian Tenma, not guilty!"
The judge glanced at the two lawyers on opposing sides, earning nods, he banged his gavel. "That is all."
The elderly judge and all members exited the courtroom in a single file. One of the defense attorneys, Apollo Justice, quickly left with the defendant. A smile on his face as his heart sung out victory. Blackquill's eyes followed Apollo until the door snapped shut.
Silence entered through the cracks in the walls.
The two lawyers stood in the room, no words exchanged. Only the sound of rustling papers filled the room. Occasionally, the fleeting glance; they could have a conversation through gestures - words had always seemed meaningless.
"You can be a bloody nuisance, can't you?" Athena growled at him, zipping her satchel. Her mood matrix turned red with anger.
"It is a murder case, isn't it?" he smirked, eyes boring into hers. His words dripped with sarcasm.
She heard herself being cut off by him.
"No. How about you listen?"
Athena looked at the grumpy prosecutor; he had a look of annoyance on his face.
"I don't want to have to cross swords with you again…you go find your cases and I find mine. That way, we won't have to see each other again. Good?"
She nodded slowly. With that, he hastily picked up his belongings and left.
Aura Blackquill stood in the detention centre, her arms folded. The door opened with her brother in shackles. Simon seated himself opposite her; his trademark smirk formed on his lips.
"How was the trial today?" she asked as she took her seat.
"Really, Aura, I never thought you would be interested in the law of all things. Not after that incident in which I-"
She held up a hand to silence him, he looked away for a brief moment.
"Don't remind me of that…All I want to know is, how's the little princess?"
Simon tilted his head; his sister's tone had changed in the sentence. "What are you implying?"
The woman tittered nervously. "Me? I'm not implying anything, just starting a conversation. What's got you so worked up today?"
Simon stared at his shackles. "To say the least, the 'princess', as you refer to her, is wasting her time. Honestly, I was taken by surprise when I saw her. Cykes-dono has changed."
"Who would have thought?" Aura questioned, her eyes met Simon's gaze. "I suppose the princess has a reason for being a lawyer… Perhaps it has something to do with you."
The prosecutor shook his head. "She has disappointed me by trying to be a saviour. I'm murderer beyond redemption. I cannot be rescued."
Aura's expression darkened. "You leave me with no choice, little brother."
With those vague words, the engineer left the room; leaving Simon to ponder.
Phoenix Wright sighed to himself and shook his head while he commenced with his paperwork, Apollo had gone out and Trucy was at school. The office door banged open revealing a very distressed Athena who immediately ran into her office, slamming the door in the process. Short, stifled sobs could be heard from the neighbouring office. After hearing the sounds of crying, Pearl Fey walked in.
"Is that Miss Athena?" she said as she set her book down, gesturing at the door.
"Yes...she seems to be distressed."
Phoenix's face showed signs of worry. He worried for his colleagues like a father would worry about his child. He wondered if something had happened earlier on that day. She had greeted him in the lobby with a smile on her face, flashing her peace sign. Whatever must have happened was affecting her greatly.
"Leave it to me, Mr Nick."
He watched as Pearl shut the door behind her. Anxiety welled up inside him as he tried to finish the last of his work.
Pearl quietly entered. "Athena...?"
The young attorney didn't face her; she stared out of the window with red and raw eyes.
"Please, Pearl, I don't want to see anyone."
Athena shook her head slowly, the young Fey walked over to her.
"Well, if you want someone to talk to, I'm always free."
The lawyer smiled, "Thanks, but I doubt I'll need it."
Athena gestured at the picture of three people, a sad smile cut across her face. It was obvious that she knew the people in the photograph. Pearl figured it held a very dear and sad memory to the lawyer. She assumed one of them might be a relative; her mother, maybe?
"Who are the other people?" The medium tilted her head slightly, referring to a purple haired woman and a man.
"I can't say...I don't want to,"
Before Pearl could persuade her, the young lawyer walked to the door.
"Don't ask me again, please."
Her office door was left ajar, leaving a very confused Pearl Fey.
Blackquill sighed as he picked up the case file on his desk. It had been there for a couple days and he was in no mood to handle anything. He leafed through typed up pages of boredom, only to discover that Athena Cykes was handling defense.
If anything, she was no longer the little girl he once knew. It was best if they kept their distance. They were simply prosecution and defense, nothing more.
A murder had occurred at Themis Legal Academy. The victim was Constance Courte, a woman who taught the Judge classes and the defendant was her pupil, Juniper Woods. Tomorrow he would have to face off Cykes once more. He had sent Fulbright to gather evidence, and hopefully not give the defense any details.
Bobby Fulbright had seemed promising; attempting to rehabilitate the prosecutor. Although Blackquill was grateful, the man seemed to be more annoying than helpful. His yells of justice only served to allow the inmate to threaten him. It irritated him even more when the detective would simply laugh at his threats.
He ran a hand through his mane of shaggy hair, darker rings were appearing under his eyes; sleeplessness was an obvious reason. The charm given to him by a witness in the last case had proved to help him only a few nights. After that, the effect wore off and he was back to square one. He was lucky enough to get at least three hours of rest. The screams of fellow inmates haunted him constantly. He would wake up to the various howls and screams in the night.
Paranoia provides no purpose other than to make you weak, Blackquill. He thought to himself as he waited to be led to the interrogation room to question various murder witnesses.
This time, he would crush Athena Cykes. No matter what it took.
Phoenix cradled the phone between his shoulder and ear, jotting down notes.
The senior attorney shifted positions. He muttered goodbye, placed the phone back on the stand and surveyed the documents on his table.
There had been talk of an international spy in the area, pulling the strings on various cases. It was grim; and it only continued to fuel the dark age of the law. So much had been swept under the rug. And Wright was determined to find the truth.
Phoenix leaned back in his seat. He tried to keep a strong face on for his colleagues. But he was worried about Athena. She had acted strangely a couple of months ago, when she came into the office with tears streaking down her face. He had decided not to press it then, for fear of being pushed aside. Yet, even Pearl Fey couldn't get an answer out of her.
Sometimes, the lawyer thought it had something to do with the new prosecutor. The name was not easily forgotten; Simon Blackquill.
He had agreed to meet up with the chief prosecutor to settle matters. Wright and Edgeworth went way back, and for Phoenix, he was glad that the man was staying in America. He would not have to worry about the prosecutor taking off to Europe again. Phoenix picked up the phone again and dialled Edgeworth's number.
"Hey, Edgeworth, do you want to go see the State vs. Woods trial?"
He listened to the reply, and grinned. "You're already there? Great! I'll come and see how Athena's getting on."
Without further ado, the lawyer grabbed his jacket and exited the office.
Another client found innocent thanks to the Wright Anything Agency. The trial was over, leaving Blackquill bitterer than ever. His gaze followed Athena as she exited the courthouse; orange hair visible amongst the many reporters and flashing cameras. For a quick moment, she turned around to face him; cold, grey eyes linked with peaceful, blue eyes. He broke their contact by returning to where Fulbright was standing.
"Wait!" He heard quick footsteps heading in his direction.
Cykes stood next to him, catching her breath. "I guess you lost this time in court, huh?"
"You are merely wasting your time. Give up this chivalrous nonsense…If this is the only reason you became a lawyer then I'm very disappointed in you, Cykes-dono."
The young attorney was taken aback by surprise. "But I-"
"I don't care what the blazes you wanted. You cannot save me." Blackquill looked away, focusing his eyes on the wall.
"I became a lawyer for you!" She yelled at him. "I became a lawyer to free you of those chains! Is that so hard to understand?"
He put his finger towards his temple, smirking, "No. But your efforts will surely be in vain."
The prosecutor exited, leaving Athena dumbfounded.
Shortly after her meeting with Blackquill, Athena found herself walking across town to get to the agency. Apollo had ducked out to see a friend, vaguely stating that "they were preparing for a mission" and that he wanted to see them before they went off. Thankfully, Trucy would be at the office so she would have some company.
The moon shone in the night sky; illuminating the stars above. She heard footsteps behind her, was someone following her? She decided to think nothing of it, but prepared herself for a combat if it came to that.
"Ach, Fräulein Cykes, what are you doing out late?"
Athena turned around to face a blond haired prosecutor; Klavier Gavin. She had seen him earlier during the investigation. The young lawyer smiled.
"Hey, Mr. Gavin,"
The prosecutor smiled briefly before eyeing her seriously. "Something tells me that you had a run-in with a certain samurai prosecutor."
"How do you know?" Athena placed her hands at the sides of her face; surprised by his words.
"I've seen that face many times before; it's the face of someone who'd rather hide their past than face it," Klavier shook his head. "I saw you with him earlier."
"Do you have time for a coffee? I know a good place nearby." Klavier gestured towards a line of buildings heading south.
A few moments later, the two lawyers were sitting opposite each other in a cafe.
"Do you know Herr Blackquill very well?"
Athena took a sip of her coffee, "I faced off against him about five months ago. That's about it."
"Then why are you so silent about him? He's just another rival…A bit like me and Herr Forehead but we're more or less close friends. I doubt he could care less about you, ja?"
"That's just the point. I barely know him anymore."
Klavier fell silent; fiddling with his blond locks. His blue eyes spoke of seriousness; they held an understanding of wisdom and knowledge. He pressed the question that plagued him.
"What you mean to tell me is that you and Herr Blackquill have known each other for some time?"
Athena nodded, clutching her arm. "…Yes. I knew him since before he was arrested."
"Well, that makes two of us who have heard of him."
The lawyer tilted her head in question. Klavier elaborated.
"My brother, Kristoph, was his defense attorney during that case. I saw that trial."
"I can't remember who handled the trial. I was just too busy trying to tell them that he didn't murder anyone…" Athena recalled, focusing her gaze on the now empty coffee cup.
"It's not really surprising. I think Kristoph knew he was going to lose that case. We never spoke of it. In some ways, I guess you could say we were both involved in fueling the 'dark age of the law'."
"Nein, I blame myself. What you did was attempt to save Herr Blackquill; with failure."
Klavier met her gaze with a sorrowful expression. He had spent eight years thinking of that dreaded day Phoenix Wright lost his badge. He spent his time blaming himself; questioning his motives. His first trial had ended in failure for both sides. Athena understood his underlying emotions.
"But, you didn't really know did you?"
Klavier shook his head. "That's just the thing, I knew. And with that, I drove Herr Wright to disbarment. But Herr Blackquill was different, he pleaded guilty. He was aware of the consequences that would come, and he got himself on death row because of it."
The German prosecutor sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Whatever we have said now, I hope you can keep it to yourself. So will I, though the pain still burdens me…"
"I won't say a word. But I will thank you for sharing it with me. It's good to tell someone, isn't it?"
"Indeed, Fräulein Cykes. I think I'll be taking my leave now. Guten Abend."
Klavier rose from his seat, shook hands with Athena and was soon on his way.
Athena watched the man leave; swallowed by the crowd. She turned around and walked home in silence. Her conversation with Gavin left her feeling slightly lighter; as though her pain and turmoil had been evaded slightly; so very slightly, it was barely there. Perhaps she was too late to save Blackquill. Maybe, just maybe, she could call him 'Simon' again.
And that day was approaching fast; like a runaway train.
Original Author's Note: So I played around with the timeline from The Cosmic Turnabout to suit the story line. Instead of having just after the first session of the trial to investigate, I put in an extra day. It's a little hard to spot but it's there!
Athena rose early from her sleep. It was six thirty when she woke up, normally she overslept till around eight. She took a jog around the park nearby and got back in time to have breakfast and take a shower.
Athena set down her bowl of cereal and turned the TV on. She turned to the news channel; hopefully something new apart from Japan and Germany and the rest of the world. Her eyes widened as she stared at the breaking news. A cold chill swept through her all of a sudden; like cold water rolling off her back.
A murder had occurred at the Cosmos Space Center.
"I wonder if Apollo knows…" She muttered to herself.
The agency would probably take on the defendant of that case. The lawyer took a bite out of her toast, grabbed her jacket and exited.
"Sorry, Mr. Wright, but I'll be taking a leave of absence."
"Wait! What do you mean by a 'leave'?" Athena asked; though she had a vague idea of his reason.
It was just a few hours after the court session for the day was adjourned. Athena and Phoenix were about to head back to the Center to talk to some witnesses. Apollo was at the hospital earlier, he had been treated for his wounds from the bombing at the courthouse.
Phoenix laced his fingers together; he locked eyes with his subordinate. "Can you at least give me a reason why?"
Apollo looked down at the floor. "My best friend…Clay Terran…is dead. That's reason enough, isn't it, Mr. Wright?"
"Apollo…" Trucy moved to pull him into a hug but he declined.
"Trucy, I'm fine. You don't need to feel sorry for me."
"You're not fine, Polly," She muttered, glancing up at him.
"Yes, well, there's no time to waste. I've got to find Clay's killer. I'm going to find his murderer by myself."
"B-But that's what we're here for," Athena balled her fists; her co-worker had been acting odd since the trial.
Phoenix tilted his head in the direction of the red-headed lawyer. "I agree with Athena. This is why we work together."
Apollo sighed. "Is that so? I see I'm not getting through to you."
"But, Apollo, that's why Daddy works with you guys. He wants to find the truth." Trucy chimed in. She was acting like a concerned sister; she wanted Apollo to be safe. She didn't want the agency to fall apart.
"The truth, huh?" Justice rounded on Trucy. "That's quite a noble cause,"
He turned to face Phoenix. "What if the truth you seek and the truth I seek are different?"
Wright's eyebrows creased into a frown. "I'm not sure I follow…"
"No. I didn't think so. I'm going to apprehend my best friend's killer, in my own way."
Before anyone could say anything, Apollo walked out of the office; leaving behind three stunned people.
An iron curtain of silence veiled the air around her. Whirring machines were muffled by her headphones; they blocked out the noises. She heard voices and quickly hid herself in the cabinet. The girl heard laughter around her and then…nothing. She peeked out to find a woman - her mother - standing to the side of the room; hatred filled her.
A gleaming object caught her eyes; she cautiously picked it up and tiptoed over to the person. With her face full of innocence, she spoke softly, the smiling woman turned around. The girl quickly thrust the blade in over and over again until the body slumped forward.
Looks could be deceiving to anyone. The child beckoned to the robot to place the body on the operating table. When the deed was done; she smiled gleefully. The door opened to reveal a young man clad in black; his eyes widened in horror and shock; he called out her name like a chant. But she smiled sweetly and whispered:
" Something's wrong with Mum, so I'm taking her apart to fix her!"
Athena jolted awake, she remembered it all; every memory down to the last detail. She was shaking with fear; her eyes were dull and lifeless. Her mood matrix was black – it registered no emotions other than pure fear. She tried to move and get out of bed, yet her limbs made no contact with her nervous system. It was like her brain had shut down along with her body.
She did not want to return to the Space Center. If anything, it was the last place Athena would want to go. It was not just the question of her facing her past, but it would bring back some unpleasant people into her life.
The young woman tried to roll over and get some rest. She needed to forget her past for now. The case that her boss was working on only served to reopen wounds. It was the last thing Athena wanted now.
He scrawled another line into the wall with the nib of his pen. The prosecutor was on his last few days. After tomorrow he would be hanged, with most of the county in attendance. He would expect Aura to be there; cursing and screaming. Athena would probably be there too; crying in failure. It was pointless how people had tried to help him, they never quite grasped the fact he was guilty. Fulbright was one of those people. He had two more scrawls to make on the wall.
Blackquill had seen many inmates through the years being walked to the noose. They had told him not to fear death; but to embrace it and welcome it. He had done that over the course of seven years. The man had created a mask; a mask to conceal his emotions. He had placed lie on top of lie to hide the truth.
He thought bitterly about it; some nights it would keep him awake. He had vowed not to tell a soul, not even his sister knew. He had kept quiet for seven years. It was harsh reality that people could not escape, yet, Blackquill could.
Seven years in prison had taught him something; he was not to take anything for granted. Memories were fragile, and so were humans. Two more scrawls on the wall would mark his death. He awaited his death in open arms. The day would finally come when he could finally settle down.
But, the Phantom he had been hunting down was still free. And Blackquill would make sure that his goal was complete. His last two days would be busy and necessary in order to truly be at rest.
He had not seen it coming. They took Athena away immediately after they read the fingerprint data. Phoenix Wright looked up to face Blackquill; the prosecutor had his eyes closed. The court was in an uproar; any objections Phoenix made were drowned out by voices. Even the judge could not uphold order. There were no hushed whisperings or mutters – it was all out in the open. Men and women were raising their voices and shouting over the top of everyone. All the lawyer could do was cradle his head in his hands and admit failure. He had got the verdict he desired but the outcome left him feeling bitter.
Minutes passed before Phoenix left. He had to sort the matter out in some way. He would not have Athena wrongly accused of Clay Terran's murder. He recalled the look on Blackquill's face; it was of anguish and shock. He could not understand what had astonished the man. He was like a bloodthirsty hound luring in for the kill.
Of course, how could I have been so stupid? Phoenix stopped in his tracks.
It was what Edgeworth had been talking about; the target. It was the one person Blackquill pursued with a passion. Even Fulbright had mentioned something earlier during the investigation.
If the Phantom was who Blackquill was after, would it mean Athena was roped in somehow? Wright wondered as he hailed a cab. He had to get cracking on the case instantly.
Aura Blackquill crossed her arms and scowled at the surveillance camera. The door opened and Simon walked into the room. His face was paler and his eyes were red and raw. He seated himself and glowered at the engineer opposite him.
"I believe you required my presence, Aura?"
"As a matter of fact I did,"
The prisoner nodded; allowing her to continue. She leaned forward; her blue eyes pleaded silently.
"I wanted to know why you did it. Just why did you kill her?"
Simon smirked and shook his head. "That question is unnecessary. All you need to know is that I killed my mentor in cold blood. That is all I shall say…"
Aura glared angrily at him. "How could you? How could you do this to me, Simon?"
She tried to fight back tears; it was of no use. "I loved her! I would've died for her! I would've killed myself if it hadn't been for that stupid princess!"
"Well, Cykes-dono is not the guilty party that you have always tried to convince yourself of. You don't want to believe that your own flesh and blood was capable of such an act. Feelings are pointless, so to speak…I gave that all away when I was incarcerated."
Aura fell silent; she stared at the floor. She rose from her seat as she heard the door open. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Fulbright and Phoenix Wright enter. She opted to take the safer path to end their conversation.
"You've spent all this time rotting away and you haven't said a word. It's even turning your hair grey, or to be more precise, white!"
"I don't have anything to say, Aura. Why don't you go home and play with your dolls?"
Phoenix stood motionless in the doorway. The Blackquill siblings were having a heated conversation. He only hoped it would end soon so he could question the prosecutor. But Aura Blackquill was quite jumpy today; even she wanted questions.
"Well, even if you don't, I have plenty, you jerk!"
"M-Ms Blackquill, don't you think that's enough for today?"
Aura was shocked by the detective's words. Surely he knew that her brother was going to die? She turned to face the obnoxious man and snapped at him.
"'Enough for today'?!" she repeated his words with a mocking tone. "Today is all there is when there's no tomorrow!"
Phoenix raised an eyebrow. His face was a picture of puzzlement; he was entirely unaware of what the siblings had been discussing earlier. He wondered if Fulbright knew, Wright made a mental note to ask the man later.
"We have company, Aura. Please try to calm down."
He saw the prosecutor tilt his head in his direction. Aura paid the defense attorney no attention.
"All right, fine. I see you're just not going to listen, no matter what I say," She crossed her arms and looked away. "I've had it. If that's the way you're going to be, I have another plan up my sleeve."
She turned to leave, stopping in the doorway. "I hope you're happy, Simon, because I'm done! Do as you please, see if I care!"
The robotics engineer bade her brother goodbye and exited, leaving the prosecutor. As she stormed off, the words cut inside her deeply; her brother's words rang true. Though she hated to admit it, she was so intent in believing that Athena Cykes was the culprit. She had very little time – not even tomorrow. She had to put her plan into action as soon as possible.
Darkness coiled itself around her; like a vice. Its arms pinned her to the wall, leaving her no way to escape. She had to fight somehow – attack or strike back. It was pointless, against the will of Darkness, she was a child. The words echoed in her ears. Child, child, child…No! She had to free herself from these chains. Cold, dark chains hugged her wrists mercilessly. Was this the end of everything? Child, child, child… She felt herself fall again; plunged into an empty void–
Her eyes opened suddenly. The images swam in her mind; of blood and darkness. It was her second nightmare in the span of two days. Her back ached from the uncomfortable mattress she lay on. She then realized that she was not in her room, but in the detention center. Athena recalled being hauled into prison and had then blacked out. Her head ached and she was confused. The lawyer heard heavy footfalls and then a man appeared; it was Detective Fulbright.
"It's time for the police to question you, Miss Cykes. Just standard procedure, that's all."
For a brief moment, Athena heard a hint of discord in man's heart. She brushed it aside, thinking nothing of it, and rose from the mattress to be led away.
All Apollo Justice wanted was to see his friend again.
He stood in the Space Museum, covered in bandages, staring at the photograph of his friend. He tried to hold back tears, but, he had to restrain himself. The shock left him as just as shell; meaningless and lifeless.
Why? He asked himself. Why did all the good ones die?
Apollo took out his attorney's badge; it was merely a lump of metal. He couldn't save Klavier Gavin from the pain of losing his brother, or to defend Solomon Starbuck properly. He let his emotions get to him and was later involved in the courtroom bombing.
That profession was suited to Phoenix Wright - the man he looked up to; the man who save them all. Even in his darkest hour, his disbarment, he managed to find evidence. Apollo only presented it.
He had achieved nothing, apart from a cold lump of metal that sat in his hand. He glared at it, before placing it in his pocket again.
His bracelet squeezed against his wrist. He had been having doubts; he could not trust anyone, least of all, Athena Cykes. Her fingerprints were found on the lighter and he had sensed that she knew about the murder – or murders – in the Space Center.
He had asked Aura Blackquill earlier about Athena Cykes being involved in anything, she had nodded. He also picked up that her eye would twitch when his co-worker was mentioned. He had sensed hatred beneath her words; they were also tinged with sorrow. Thankfully, she had helped him progress in his investigation with the Hope capsule and the murder of Terran.
He wondered how his superior was handling his own investigation. When Apollo bumped into him and Trucy at the Robotics Lab, he seemed had got on track with his information gathering quite well. He was sure Phoenix was going to be fine; he would not need some worthless attorney like him.
Apollo let the breath part from his lips and banged on the glass again. Suddenly, he heard shouts and voices. Without warning, robots swarmed the halls of the Center. He watched in surprise as they dragged some visitors away. The faces were blank and the voices that escaped them were snippy and short.
A robot made way for him; it was less than a meter away from him. Then, it stopped its movements and spoke:
"Mr. Terran, please leave the Center. Anyone else will be taken, you are pardoned by Ms. Aura. She requested that you are to bring the killer to justice."
Apollo wasted no time in answering. "Who did she say was the killer?!"
The robot swirled its head around. "The killer is…Athena Cykes."
So…it was true. All his doubts had been cleared; it was the truth. He dashed for the exit and turned left for the courthouse. As he was leaving, he saw masses of people crowded around the area; the riot police had set up a barricade. In the midst of all the men and women, Phoenix Wright was there, a horrified look sat upon his face.
Apollo had no time; he was worried about Trucy. He had last seen the girl wandering around the halls of the fourth floor. More than anything, Justice hoped she was going to be fine. Aura Blackquill was serious about proving her brother's innocence; and she would go to great lengths to prevent the man's execution.
With no time to lose, the man ran to the courthouse; the archives room was bound to turn up with something he needed. He would catch Clay's killer using any legal means.
Trucy is going to be all right...It will be fine...
The words played through Phoenix's mind like a mantra.
Edgeworth had appeared earlier and they had both gone through the Robotics Lab with a fine-toothed comb. He had learned the truth to Athena's dilemma and her strange behaviour these past few days; she had wanted to save Simon Blackquill very much. He could not break the news to her - Blackquill's execution would be tomorrow. If not for the sake of Athena's arrest, he would not have known. And if he allowed the man to be killed of a crime he did not commit, then the young lawyer would leave him forever. He and she would have both been failures.
Even though Athena, Apollo and Blackquill had all being acting odd, the one that struck Phoenix as strange was Fulbright.
The detective had just popped out of the blue. He had expected someone else; Ema Skye or Dick Gumshoe. He had never even heard of the man before. Despite being disbarred, Edgeworth would tell him of all the "annoying" detectives down at the precinct. Not once had Fulbright's name been brought up in conversation. Though it was to be expected to have another detective. Last he heard, Ema was back in Europe retaking her forensics exam and Gumshoe had married Maggey Byrde and they were living in another state.
He would have to look into it later.
Until then, his daughter had been kidnapped by an engineer who clearly wanted her brother innocent. Phoenix would have to save two souls tomorrow; Athena Cykes and Simon Blackquill.
As if on cue, his phone rang; the Steel Samurai tune that Maya had put in many years ago began to play. He punched the green answer button.
"Ah, Mr. Wright. I presume you've been wondering how your dear daughter is?"
"Aura, what have you done?" Phoenix tried very hard to keep himself calm.
"Oh, I haven't done anything to her. But...Well I have something to tell you; a sort of ransom note, I suppose."
"Bring me the killer of Clay Terran and Metis Cykes."
"A-And who would that be?!"
The line went silent for a second, before he heard the crackling response: "Athena Cykes."
His heart skipped a beat as he heard the reply. Something had to be wrong with what Aura Blackquill had said.
"Th-There must be some mistake with your conclusion."
Phoenix stared dumbfounded at his phone. When Aura said something about Athena being a murderer, he had to retort and say something.
"I can assure that I have proof. You will see at the trial!"
The phone went dead. Wright buried his head in his hands. If all was lost, then he would have failed as a lawyer and as a father.
Simon Blackquill would be hanged, Athena would spend her life behind bars and Trucy would be gone from the world.
He gritted his teeth; Phoenix had to rise from the ashes again. He would resurrect from the flames time and time again. It was no different in this case. He would not just have to grin and bear it, but he would need to prove his opponents wrong with a broad smile on his face.
Miles Edgeworth leafed through the files on his desk. There were a series of photographs marked on the pages. Some familiar names cropped up on the document; prosecutors were named, defendants mentioned and cases were cited.
He sighed softly and took a sip of his tea. It was Earl Grey; the colour of the blend was dark, almost like that of the law and of justice. One of his subordinates would be executed in less than eighteen hours. If he was to prove a young girl's guilt to rescue his jailbird colleague, then so be it.
He was up against Wright again. It would be a nice battle; a fleeting memory flashed through his mind.
Miles' position had gradually risen through the last seven years. At first he took up working for international crimes based in Germany. Occasionally he would see his sister, but she was based at another branch of Interpol.
After spending a year and a half with the organization, he prosecuted various cases in France, Japan and Great Britain. His international reputation as a prosecutor increased through five years. Then, his boss retired and so he took up the position of chief prosecutor just a year ago.
Blackquill's case had caught his attention ever since he saw the UR-1 trial. There had always been something that seemed off about the case. The man had admitted to the crime the minute he walked in the doors. It was one of the shortest trials Edgeworth had ever attended. Though, after spending years with Phoenix Wright as an opponent, any trial seemed short.
Now, he held the evidence that proved his subordinate's innocence. Yet something in there was sticking out. He just could not put his finger on it.
For now, Edgeworth would just disregard it. A logical explanation may come up to him during the trial. And maybe Wright would make some ridiculous assumption. No, it was a definite thing for Phoenix to do. He would bet his tea stash on it.
The trial would have to start soon; Blackquill would die tomorrow if nothing was to be done. They could not wait any longer. The man straightened his cravat and smoothed down his hair. He placed the files in his briefcase, gave a nod to his secretary and shut the door as he left.
Athena Cykes was led down the halls of the detention center as the guards escorted her to the courthouse. Just then, another cell was unlocked and a man walked out. She noticed his shaggy mane of dark hair and his surcoat; Blackquill.
They exchanged glances; as though they were briefly brushing fingers together. Though there was no physical interaction, an electric-like current flowed through Athena. Simon nodded before ignoring her presence and headed out the other direction.
The man stopped in his tracks. No one had called him Simon for seven years. With the exception of his sister, nobody called him that. He swore to himself and carried on walking. Athena did not know him anymore; she had to know that at least. He bit down on the feather in his mouth, speaking with hatred in his voice.
"Don't ever think our current positions change anything, Cykes-dono. If anything, you're a lot more stupid and idiotic than I previously assumed."
Anger was detected in his words as Athena listened in. There was regret, too. It was faint; as though she never heard it. But in that moment, her heart shattered into a million pieces; Simon Blackquill resented her. He hated her now. If so, how was she to prove him innocent when she could take the fall?
She loved him.
And he probably hated her.
The guard pushed her forward, leading her away from the man who had long since left. It was not her trial or his; it was their trial.
Aura tapped on the keyboard as she tried to focus her eyes on the robotic control systems. She was not going to appear in court; she hated them. The courts sucked the life out of the lawyers and defendants. It left them as hollow beings who all believed in one thing; evidence was everything. She would give her evidence to prove a woman's guilt.
Even if Athena Cykes were to be found guilty, her brother would remain a shadow; a memory of a man from long ago. He was not that man anymore. The courts had done that; taken his soul and left a meaningless mess instead. The grim reaper had been in that lab many years ago, and it had taken away Aura Blackquill's one reason for living: Metis Cykes.
Metis…If only you knew…
Aura shook her head. It was pointless.
She remembered the day they first met, as though it were only yesterday; her glances, her smiles, her laughter. She was the first woman Aura ever truly felt safe and happy with. She recalled the nights they worked together; building and manufacturing. She remembered the times she put Athena to bed when Metis was working. It was like she was a second mother.
And then Metis died.
She had dated other women afterwards but quickly gave up. No one could match Metis' comfort and care. Athena Cykes left for Europe and quickly became the object of hatred in her mind.
Aura had abandoned all hope then.
She had thought of killing herself. The equipment was always there; right before her. But she soon realized that she would rather have a proper burial; under the cold stars, with Metis beside her.
It was merely an illusion, yet something motivated her to carry on – to move on. When Apollo had met her earlier, she knew what he felt, because that was what she did when her lover died. But…they had to let go; at some point in time, they needed to face forward. She would say that Apollo was doing a much better job than she could have ever done.
She had waited years for this opportunity to come.
Aura jerked the clutch to the right; the controller was brought to life. She moved the robot around the courthouse and then maneuvered it in and onto the witness stand.
The trial was about to begin.
Apollo Justice searched the labs and basements in the Space Center. He had been there for more than two hours and had achieved nothing. He had found several scraps of paper and some blueprint but that was it.
The case had been taken to court already. Nothing good was going to come of it. Fortunately, the archives room provided some documents for missing persons.
Approximately twenty-five people had been reported missing in the span of fifteen years. Seven of the cases were solved, leaving around eighteen cases that had gone cold. Apollo had spent the last hour before the trial poring over the documents. There was a connection; it was small yet it remained in place.
All of people who were reported missing were around thirty years of age. They had all been last seen at their workplace, and they worked near the center of town. While looking through the files, Apollo wondered how the police had not noticed anything.
Perhaps it was a link to the "Phantom" ideal that his boss had come up with. He could not say for sure; but he had to find some more evidence before going back to the courthouse.
"As I stated earlier, the truth is not what we always expect, Mr. Wright." Edgeworth crossed his arms, his eyes shut in thought.
Beads of sweat trickled down Phoenix's brow as he examined the contents of the file that the bailiff had passed around. The judge was the first to mention the highlighted text.
"'Doctor Cykes performed tests on her daughter, Athena Cykes, who provided the role of a research subject.' Do you have anything to support your claim, Mr. Edgeworth?"
Some more files were handed around. Edgeworth polished his glasses.
"Your Honour, these are the testimonies from various witnesses who claimed to have seen Metis Cykes perform experiments on her daughter. In addition to these verified testimonies, we also have security camera footage. This disproves Mr. Wright's allegations of another perpetrator such as Simon Blackquill. The case stands that Athena Cykes murdered her mother for having treated her so badly, she broke down, and on that day, she killed Metis Cykes."
The members of the gallery began conversing loudly before being silenced by the gavel.
It was looking bleak right now. Everything pointed to Athena's guilt. All Phoenix could do was sit back and watch in horror.
Edgeworth moved to question one of the robots at the crime scene. Evidence was given and testimonies checked; the case piled up against Athena. The judge had to give a verdict.
The elderly judge sighed, the case had been open and shut and there was plenty of reasoning behind Edgeworth's arguments. The rumbling noise from the gallery dissipated, the man fingered his gavel. His brow furrowed, he took one last glance at the files before clearing his throat.
"This court finds Athena Cykes–"
In place of the witness stood Simon Blackquill; his grey eyes penetrated the gazes of the lawyers around him.
"I won't allow it," said the man through gritted teeth, glaring at the judge.
The bewildered judge stared at the person who was behind the witness stand.
"Mr. Blackquill, what are you doing here?"
Edgeworth tapped his index finger on his upper arm. This was no laughing matter. He had seen men and women burst through those doors and try to stop a trial. Granted, they had their reasons; but when an old case was finally going to be put to rest, the former defendant of the case was going to plead his guilt.
The prosecutor glared at his superior.
"This is balderdash. There's no point of holding a trial, I'm guilty. I killed Metis Cykes, and that's all there is to it."
Aura Blackquill ran a hand through her hair.
Why, Simon, why?
She began to frantically tap out her answer through the robot. She could not afford any errors or objections.
"Simon, what the hell are you planning?"
She glanced back at the screen that followed the court proceedings; her brother smirked back at her through the robot. Her hands furiously typed out the remainder of her sentence.
"That little princess is guilty. She killed Metis, and you're still willing to play that game?"
Simon cut in. "What are you playing at, Aura? As far as I'm concerned, I was arrested, put on trial and subsequently throw in the clink for murdering my mentor. Would you really go so far as hold a retrial that is not even official? You know Athena Cykes is innocent and you refuse to acknowledge it. That is all."
Edgeworth pinched the bridge of his nose; he felt a migraine coming along.
"Blackquill, do you know that today we can bring an end to this dark age of the law?"
His words were greeted with a one-sided smile and an airy brush off.
"...Hmph, you expect too much from me. I'm just a murderer beyond redemption." said the prosecutor, smirking.
"Well, if none of you can agree then I will just hand down my verdict!"
They were losing time; the execution would be in twelve hours. They had to do something.
But, what should I do…?
Wright needed to negotiate an agreement with Edgeworth; they were wasting their breath. Blackquill was a stubborn man who stuck by his claim of guilt.
A voice echoed in the room. Phoenix looked around; it was not his voice or Edgeworth's. It certainly was not Blackquill's. He absentmindedly snuck a look to the side of his bench and let out a yelp.
Clad in yellow, with a serious expression on her face was Athena Cykes.
Blue eyes met grey. The man looked away; he trained his gaze on the wooden carvings on the walls. They were strangers. He was Simon Blackquill, and she was Athena Cykes.
She was going to live.
He was going to die.
He wanted to die.
Simon Blackquill had waited for this day to come. He wanted to protect her. He had vowed not to let her into his cold and cruel world – she needed safety and protection. Athena Cykes needed to know that she had to let go.
He could have pleaded 'not guilty' at his trial. He could have blocked out the truth and continued living life. But, as the samurai of yore; his duty was to protect his mentor's treasure – her daughter.
He had tried to suppress his emotions and hide behind falsified feelings; anything to stop his aching heart. He had imagined what Metis would have said all those years ago.
He loved Athena.
There was no denying it. He had done everything for her. He did not want to see her suffering; she needed to know.
So, he turned to face her. Her eyes pleaded silently for the truth. She wanted to set him free, and he knew.
But he would not let her save him.
Simon clenched his fists tightly, a thudding noise, like a heartbeat, resounded in his head. He did not want to be innocent. He had to die; if it was only to prove Athena wrong, then so be it. He could not get her image out of his head; her childlike face covered in blood.
"Tell them, Cykes-dono. You will not gain or lose anything; just tell them what you saw. I killed your mother; I've said that for the past seven years – try and accept that I will die. This is the last time you will ever see me, so tell them."
"W-What if I c-can't?" Athena said, shaking violently.
"You're the only person I've known with a pure heart, and you need to tell them that," he said, his hand gripped the stand forcibly, his knuckles turned white.
"If you can't, then I will."
Apollo closed the case files, and zipped up his satchel. He had finished. He took one look at his bandages before leaving for the courthouse. He had his evidence and proof; Clay Terran's murderer was indeed Athena Cykes. But Blackquill was not the "Phantom", it was another man.
He had no clue as to who it might be. Hopefully, Phoenix Wright would come up with something.
The past few days had hit him hard; like a punch in the stomach, or a kick in the shin. He was not sure he could trust anyone; not even his own mentor or his own colleague.
Without a doubt, Athena Cykes was involved somehow.
Blackquill closed his eyes slowly; allowing memories to flow back into his brain.
Simon opened the door to the psychology lab. Normally Athena would be in here; drawing or colouring. Sometimes she was reading or writing stories. When he did not find her, he began to panic. Doctor Cykes nowhere to be found and Aura had gone downstairs to see some colleagues. He shut the door behind him and walked down the corridor. If he could not find Athena in the robotics lab then something was up.
The hum of machines was silent and gentle. Without a second thought, he entered the lab. His eyes enlarged at the sight before him.
Athena stood before him; her face was covered in blood and she held some tools in her hands. Simon looked behind her and saw the katana; his eyes fell upon the body just above the weapon.
Metis Cykes lay on the operating table; she was dead to the world. He heard the sound of someone – something – moving. Ponco the robot faced him with a cheery smile.
Blackquill grabbed the katana off the floor and sliced through the robot. He could not afford witnesses. No one would know. He paced around the room and noticed some rolling cases; he shoved Ponco's body parts inside the case and shut it tight. Then, he proceeded to pick up Athena and carried her outside of the room.
On the way upstairs, he dumped the rolling case containing Ponco down the rubbish chute. He arrived at the apartment, fumbled around for the keys and quickly led Athena in.
He cleaned the blood off her with an old rag and gave her some pyjamas to change into. Once she was cleaned and dressed, Simon then put her to bed. He had given her some water and a sleeping pill. She had to forget today's events. If the sedative was going to work, rest assured, she would suppress her memories.
He sat by her bedside waiting for the little girl to fall asleep. Then he rose from his seat and walked over to her. He crouched down by her limp body and softly uttered two words:
" Forgive me."
When he arrived downstairs, there were policemen scouring the place. His sister ran up to him, her eyes were red and raw.
" M-Metis…S-She's d-dead, Simon."
He nodded solemnly as he gripped her tightly. He heard her muffled sobs and envied her. He would not have time to cry…Ever. He heard footsteps approach as two men wrenched him away from Aura.
For the first time, he felt the cool metal cuffs grasp at his wrists.
" Simon Blackquill, we are arresting you for the murder of Metis Cykes."
"…I removed any trace of Athena being in the lab that day. I wiped off her fingerprints and eliminated the possibilities. I was even caught on camera."
Edgeworth inclined his head toward a piece of paper he had produced. "So you wiped off Ms. Cykes' fingerprints and you dismembered the robot?"
Phoenix opened his mouth to speak: "So, do you still admit your guilt or do you hold Athena responsible?"
Blackquill beckoned his head towards Athena. "No, I do not hold Cykes-dono responsible. Nor do I even continue to plead my guilt. It was my belief that Athena Cykes was the killer, yet I felt put off by it. I suspected another person was in there that day; the killer."
Edgeworth piped up again. "Therefore, you believe that you and the defendant are innocent?"
"I did what I did. Athena needed to forget; and I needed to disappear. If it was only to save her from the hellish world we are in, then I had to do it. I placed myself behind bars; I was willing to die,"
Blackquill turned to Athena.
"I was going to die to save you…"
It was over. The truth was out in the open. Aura Blackquill had done what she wanted to do. Simon was innocent; he was finally freed of the chains of his past. She felt nothing. Even though Athena was nearly was sent to jail, she was not guilty. Maybe, just maybe Athena was not so bad.
Seven years of turmoil and strife had ended. Aura tapped out her final message.
The buzz of chatter soon fell as the gallery observed the robot on the witness stand. Aura Blackquill had something to say.
"The little princess who was truly beloved by Metis, and who repaid that love with death," Athena looked over to the speaker. There was no hate or underlying regret in the words. It was simply nothing.
"All these years, hating Athena was the only thing that's kept me going..."
Simon Blackquill glanced at the robot who was speaking his sister's words.
"But what do I do now? Can anybody tell me? How am I supposed to go on?"
"Hmph...How unlike you, Aura," Simon tilted his head towards the robot. "Metis was deeply passionate about her work, and she chose you as her partner. Isn't that-"
"Shut up, Simon! You know exactly how I felt about her!" yelled the voice.
"Her respect as a co-worker wasn't all that I wanted!"
Of course I knew, Aura...
Aura and Simon had never really been best friends; they had not always tried to be there for one another. But deep down, they both loved each other. The Blackquills were never big on affection, or care, or love. They were different in many ways – sometimes strangers to one another. Yet, Simon knew; he always knew that his sister wanted the best for him.
...She loved you too.
"There is something I'd like to say, Aura, if you'll just lend an ear. I have in my possession a lead on who Metis' murderer is..."
A document with an audio recording and a sheet of notes was presented to the court.
"Where did you get that?" Edgeworth finally spoke up.
Blackquill only smirked. "I have my ways,"
The sound of a bird's cry made itself known to the court as the hawk swooped down and seated itself on the judge's chair. In its beak was a set of notes, the hawk dropped them into the bailiff's hands and the bailiff handed them to Blackquill.
Blackquill leafed through the files. He collected his though before speaking.
"For seven years, I have been chasing a phantom. I had no evidence or proof. Yet I had hope, Aura's co-worker was a scientist who could analyze human emotions; so I asked her to evaluate the recording. And it is because of my request that she died."
Phoenix went through the document. "It says here that there is no emotion detected in the voice, or discord for that matter. Simply put, the name 'Phantom' was given for the very reason that he is almost inhuman."
"Indeed, Wright-dono. You are quite correct,"
Edgeworth nodded in agreement. "We have been tracking them down for over seven years now. It is great news that this file has been brought to our attention."
"Though, you must take good care of this document; it's all I have left of my mentor."
"Regarding the events of seven years ago, I find Simon Blackquill, not guilty,"
Blackquill acknowledged this with a nod of his head.
"Athena Cykes, we were earlier led to believe that you were the perpetrator of this crime. After reviewing the evidence, I declare you–"
"Hold it!" screamed a voice.
Standing in the doorway, clad in red, was Apollo Justice.
The outburst turned heads around to face Apollo Justice. He walked down the steps and onto the witness stand. Simon Blackquill sidestepped to allow him through before walking out of the courtroom himself. The robot who posed as Aura Blackquill listened intently to what the young man wanted.
"It's quite simple really, Athena Cykes is still guilty. Sure, she's been cleared of the crime from seven years ago…However, what about Clay Terran's murder? Is that to go on unsolved? Or should we hold another trial?"
Athena fumbled with her sleeve and looked away. "But why would you do this, Apollo?"
"Athena, please listen to what I have to say," Apollo looked up to the judge. "I would like a little of the court's time to explain myself."
The judge sighed. "I suppose we could, as long as we get permission from Miss Blackquill,"
Apollo glanced at the robot to the left of him. He opened his mouth to speak; he needed to give her a good enough reason. She had been in the same position as him; they had spent the last few nights comforting each other. Their tears had been shed, their pain had ebbed away and the darkness they saw had turned into light.
"…Just as you lost someone close to you, I also lost someone myself. Please, give me a chance to prove that Athena is guilty."
There was no hesitation in her words as she spoke: "I'll allow it."
Aura Blackquill tapped out her instructions on the screen. She pressed a couple of buttons before turning off the computer.
Her work was finished.
She turned towards the twelve hostages who were seated on chairs and sofas. It was as though they were waiting for a job interview, not being involved in some kidnapping situation. Aura watched as a girl dressed in a blue magician's outfit entertained the crowd. It was Phoenix Wright's daughter that had given away the fact that she had taken them all.
Aura had never planned on harming them or killing them, she just had to hold them hostage just to get the trial started. And now, the trial was pretty much over. She suspected that the police would come by any moment.
The woman stood up and walked over to the captives; she waved off their surprise and began to speak.
"You're free to go now,"
They all breathed a sigh of relief, picked up their belongings and headed towards the nearest exit. Most of them departed quickly, some took their time and a couple stayed. A young boy, around fourteen, with light brown hair and green eyes walked up to her.
"What was the whole point of keeping us holed up in this dump?" He asked, annoyed.
Aura rested her arm on the back of a chair. "Nothing to concern you with, Shorty,"
The boy stormed off, obviously irritated by the reply. Aura sighed; she never did well with kids.
She was ready to surrender to her crimes. Aura had done what she wanted. It was over.
Athena stared at Apollo. She was shocked that her friend could think so little of her; even accuse her of murder. Of all the things and cases they had solved together, the man had still gone on to doubt her.
Sometimes, she even doubted herself. She had doubted herself for all those years. Athena's main dream to save Simon Blackquill was accomplished today, yet she still was not free of those merciless chains of justice.
She looked up at the gallery, Simon's eyes were trained on her; he understood her better than anyone. They had to play the part before today; they had to act like strangers on the other side of the room. But they both knew who they were. Yet, they had changed so much. She wanted to know more of him, and get to know him better.
And Apollo still questioned her reasoning till today. He was so lost in his emotions that he could not see the truth that lay ahead of him. He did not trust her.
And he made that very well known.
"Very well, I'll have the police report sent immediately." The judge concluded, nodding at the bailiff.
Edgeworth began to read the file. "In the previous case, it was made clear that Solomon Starbuck was not the killer. Therefore the culprit was another person. On that day, the killer waited for the two astronauts to make their way into the boarding lounge. Solomon Starbuck, who was already drugged at the time, had nothing to do with the murder. Instead, the killer attacked Clay Terran and murdered him with the utility knife from the case seven years ago."
The prosecutor passed around some photographs and documents. "Also at the crime scene was a lighter that we presumed the killer used. The Forensics analyzed the fingerprints and concluded that they belonged to Athena Cykes as Prosecutor Blackquill had stated earlier."
Blackquill could be seen nodding in the gallery.
"We also discovered that the killer had escaped into the Space Museum. Director Yuri Cosmos, unaware of the events, switched the launch pads around which allowed the killer to leave via Boarding Lounge 2. Therefore we must make clear of who was the person that escaped and killed the victim."
"Thank you, Mr. Edgeworth. Now, Mr. Justice, please explain the basis for your accusation."
He felt the bracelet tighten against his arm as he began to speak. Apollo explained the routes he believed that Athena could have taken. He backed up his claims by stating that the lighter at the crime scene was covered in her fingerprints.
Yet as he continued to testify and argue his point, Phoenix Wright would cut down his arguments. Any time soon, Apollo's arguments would have been a waste of time and the judge would have to declare Athena Cykes as innocent.
He did not want Clay's case to be left unsolved. He had to repay the favour that Clay granted him when they were young children.
Even though it was impossible, even though it was stupid, he wanted Clay Terran to still be beside him. He wanted to spend his nights with the person he trusted the most.
He recalled nights when Clay would ring at three in the morning, demanding him to help him understand their homework or his studies. Apollo wanted to be woken up late at night, just only if it was because of Clay Terran; he longed to hear his best friend's happy and cheerful voice once more.
When he had sat in the robotics lab and told Aura Blackquill of his tales, she understood. Of all the people in the world, Aura knew what he was going through.
There were so many things they had wanted to say, but they were cast away. Aura had told him of what she had wanted to do, to say, to accept; just one more thing before they could live life again.
But Clay Terran and Metis Cykes were never coming back. And all they could do was accept that and avenge their killers.
He turned, helpless and desperate, towards his mentor. Apollo wanted his pain to be fully eradicated. But, he had to be sure. He had to make sure Athena was not the suspect.
Apollo's eyes pleaded silently as he faced Phoenix Wright.
"It's alright. Even a bluff would suit me just fine,"
Phoenix still said nothing.
"I just want to make sure that Athena is innocent. Can't you see how stressful I've been for the past few days? I had to cover my eye so I wouldn't have to perceive her by mistake."
Phoenix was rendered speechless. Apollo had left the agency so as not to suspect Athena or cause any trouble. He had been so immersed in his feelings that he lost control of his real self.
I know exactly how you feel...
He would not let Apollo suffer any more than he already had. He had to find an alternative. If the killer was not Athena, then it had to be some who could give orders and have access to certain facilities.
"Apollo, I can honestly say that Athena is not a murderer, just trust me on this one."
"I do, I really do. I want to trust Athena again. Just please tell me who killed Clay so I can live in peace."
Edgeworth polished his glasses before placing them back on his nose. "I believe Mr. Justice had his own reasons for suspecting Ms. Cykes. It is only natural to doubt someone when you get such strong emotions from them. Either way, she could not have been the killer."
Apollo tilted his head to face the prosecutor. "You're quite right, Mr. Edgeworth,"
Edgeworth leveled his gaze with Wright's. "And now, we come to the moment of truth, Mr. Wright. Who would be the killer and escapee if it was not the defendant?"
Phoenix filtered through the various profiles on his charts. The Phantom had to be someone they had met before; someone who could have been at various place and have access to crime scenes. It had to be a person that was easy to get hold of.
And it had to be a detective.
According to Aura Blackquill's statement, the detective at the scene had told them to evacuate using the fourth floor ladder.
But why that one…?
It puzzled Phoenix. There were many emergency ladders scattered around the Space Center. The answer hit him in the face. The Phantom's objective was to secure his own escape route in order to get away, but the Phantom was not the first person to go down the ladder; he was the last person.
What if he did not go down the ladder? And took a different route instead?
Phoenix examined the maps and charts of the Center. He could only draw one conclusion from the mess:
Bobby Fulbright was the Phantom.
It was obvious. After he matched the statements together, it seemed to be the only possibility.
He opened his mouth to give out his answer.
"The killer is someone you all know and have met before; someone who had access to the building and was on duty that night. I conclude that Bobby Fulbright is the Phantom."
The court went wild; people began to yell at Phoenix and demand answers from the lawyers. After Phoenix gave his argument and explanation, the judge called for order.
"Given the circumstances, this court will take a 30 minute recess to locate and question Bobby Fulbright. Until then, court is adjourned."
He gritted his teeth and silently cursed. Blackquill stormed down the corridors of the courthouse and into the lobby.
After the conclusion that Wright had come to, the prosecutor could only question. It was quite a logical and interesting theory, yet it seemed like something anyone at the agency could pull off. But after waiting for seven years, all Blackquill wanted was to finish off the man who murdered his mentor, and put Athena and Aura in misery.
He entered the lobby. Most of the people who he had seen at the trial were there. Athena was speaking to Wright about how she would not cry till the end. He found Apollo, Trucy and Pearl speaking about the events so far. He tried to look for the chief prosecutor; it seemed Edgeworth was nowhere to be seen.
Just as he was getting ready to leave, the door opened and Edgeworth entered the room with someone behind him.
He watched his sister walk over to Athena. They shared no words, just glances and glares. He heard her speak:
"I didn't hold this trial to help you, Mr. Wright. I did nothing of the sort for the little princess over there," She turned her head in the direction of Athena. "I'm sure it sounds stupid, but I did it for Simon. But I'm sure you figured that out already."
Simon smirked at her words. He crept up behind her and whispered:
"Thank you, even though I did not request it,"
He studied her as her figure turned around to face him. Her neutral and snarky expression had changed. He was greeted with a look of surprise and a smile. Simon suddenly felt himself being embraced in a hug.
The Blackquill siblings were never big on affection but this time was different. They had not greeted each other for a long time; the barriers and boundaries prevented any physical contact. If they wanted to share one moment of freedom before the other one would have to leave, it would be now.
Simon had to tell her now; they could not say it out to the others. He leaned down towards her ear, and spoke softly.
"She loved you very much, she was just afraid of what would happen. She never knew you loved her too."
Aura let go of him. He looked down at the floor, he felt slightly ashamed but at least it was in the open.
"Why? Why didn't she say?"
He was going to answer before realising that his sister was not talking to him, or anyone. He could have said something at the time, or urged them to act on their feelings. But that was not like him, he let the natural course to flow and then Metis died.
Aura's eyes darted from person to person. Her eyes fell upon Athena; it was not the girl's fault anymore, she had not done anything wrong.
Why didn't you tell me sooner?
If Simon had told her all those years ago, maybe they would have been closer than they once were. It was not his fault either, all Metis had told him was that she could not act upon her feelings for fear of rejection.
Nobody was to blame. It was no good trying to force guilt on to someone else. Athena, Simon, Metis...they had made her very happy all those years ago. However, their time was ending. It did not do to dwell on the past.
Instead, Aura raised her head to look up at Simon. They were so different yet so alike. She put a hand on his shoulder, a small meaningless gesture, and allowed herself a small smile.
Simon watched as she exited the room without protest. He heard Wright mumble something but paid no attention. He heard someone approach and tensed up. If it was Athena, it could wait. However it turned out to be Miles Edgeworth.
His superior handed him several documents and told him that he would take care of the case while Edgeworth did a couple of background checks. Simon thanked the man and they both left the lobby in separate directions.
Apollo felt very stupid. After everything, he had continued to believe in Athena's guilt. Much like Aura, he had gathered evidence and theories to support his claims. Yet, Phoenix Wright cut them down and proved Athena's innocence.
He had total faith in his mentor. Apollo felt like an idiot for doubting his colleague. But, if anyone could prove that the Phantom was the murderer, then it was Phoenix Wright.
"Well then, I entrust this case to you, Mr. Wright."
Phoenix lifted an eyebrow. "Whatever do you mean? We're in this together, Apollo,"
Apollo rubbed the back of his neck and laughed nervously.
"Really, I thought you didn't need me after all that."
Phoenix chuckled. "Believe me, Apollo, I'm going to need those chords of steel!"
Apollo smiled. The Wright Anything Agency was truly the place for him to be.
He shed his jacket and removed the bandages on his arms. Then he peeled off the bandage that covered his eye and smoothed down his hair. He was the same old Apollo Justice again.
Apollo put on his best grin and yelled at the top of his voice. "You bet I am!"
The trio of lawyers made way into the courtroom to do battle with their toughest opponent yet.
"And so, that confirms that Bobby Fulbright is the Phantom," Phoenix concluded with a smirk on his face.
"Perhaps so, Wright-dono, yet you have not seen what Cykes-dono has just come up with,"
Blackquill and Cykes exchanged knowing glances. Athena smiled at the prosecutor as he nodded at her.
Simon Blackquill was helping them.
The young woman turned her Mood Matrix on. The system began to download files as Athena swiped through to find the recording of Fulbright's testimony.
As Wright listened in, his face paled. There was no sense of emotion in the words. The man could control his emotions. He could be smiling while feeling sad. He could seem angry whilst be surprised. Nothing seemed to fit in. It was completely illogical.
They were getting nowhere at this rate.
Simon was tired and irritated. Fulbright's testimony had been nothing but a pack of emotionless lies. Yet the defense lawyers could not extract the emotions or pinpoint the errors. He was becoming more restless by the minute.
Eventually, he moved himself into a fighting stance, took aim, and cut at Fulbright's sunglasses. It was just as he expected; an imposter.
The man on the witness stand levelled his eyes to meet Blackquill's.
"Prosecutor Blackquill, I thought you believed me!"
Simon shook his head and clenched his fists. This act would not work on him. No matter how much this…person tried to convince the court that he was Bobby Fulbright, Simon was not buying it. He decided to play along to the game that the Phantom had tried to set up.
"Oh, I never did. I'm sure you've heard of people pretending to be others; assuming their identities and acting like them…"
"But, after everything I've done to rehabilitate you and bring you back into society –"
Simon cut him off with the slamming off his fists on the bench. "I don't recall ever giving my permission to be rehabilitated in any way."
"That's quite enough of your jabber, Fool Bright. Tell us who you are,"
The prosecutor smirked; he placed a hand on his chin and pretended to think. "Aren't you the Phantom?"
Phoenix stared speechlessly at Fulbright's form. There was a tear in his forehead that had produced no blood or any reaction. Instead, he felt as though he was staring into a dark abyss of torment and lies.
The person standing before them sighed before feeling around his throat. The lawyers watched with horror as Fulbright's face was peeled off to reveal another face, and another until the final mask was produced.
Phoenix Wright's face was on the Phantom's face.
"Well, Mr. Wright, present your evidence to prove that I was involved in the murder of Clay Terran. Explain to me, why on earth I would kill a man over a moon rock?"
The Phantom's words were emotionless and lifeless.
Phoenix had to present something that was more than just conclusive evidence; he needed to prove that the Phantom was involved in the other incident earlier which had injured Apollo.
Apollo's injuries were the result of a bombing in the courthouse. It had happened a couple of days ago in Courtroom 4. A bomb had been planted in the room, hidden inside a doll, by a member of the bomb disposal squad named Ted Tonate. The man later admitted to the fact that he murdered a detective and assaulted Apollo Justice to keep his crime a secret, but he had not set off the bomb. Later on in his interrogation, Tonate denied that he pressed the switch; he claimed that another person had been in there.
The conclusion that Wright could draw was that the Phantom had set the bomb off.
Phoenix looked at the various diagrams and photographs that displayed the bomb fragments. He knew there was something in there. There seemed to be something resembling a lump of black metal with zig-zagging golden lines etched on it.
Wright then remembered a conversation he overheard when he first entered the robotic lab; Aura Blackquill had mentioned something about a capsule that had been in space for the last seven years was evidence for the bombing trial. She also said that there were some valuable fragments of moon rock inside the capsule from when they first sent it out into space.
Even though the Phantom had thought that there were no remaining traces of the rock, he was quickly proven wrong when Phoenix presented the photograph of the lump of metal.
When Phoenix had questioned Athena in the detention center, she had spoken about her mother; the earring that she wore was crafted by Metis Cykes. Athena had said something very interesting about it: the earring was made out of moon rock. If he could do a comparison between the fragment and the earring, he could prove that the Phantom was the killer.
It seemed completely far-fetched but made sense somehow. The fragment would lead him to the Hope capsule which was what killed Clay Terran and caused the bombing in order to eradicate evidence. The psych profile was what led Metis Cykes to her death; the information on it was too incriminating to keep her alive.
And so, he needed to put the Phantom behind bars. Too many people had suffered for a stupid and irrational cause; it had put people behind bars, placed people into misery and was ultimately the start of this dark age of the law.
He raised his finger high, pointing it at the Phantom and yelled out his words.
"You can't outrun the law; you can't hide from your emotions anymore; so just show us your true face!"
He heard another shout as Apollo also aimed his finger at the Phantom. "Tell who you are; I don't care what you want, I just what to know who you are!"
Athena joined in; she thrust out her finger her finger determinedly.
"You've seen the evidence and it contradicts your emotions. You feel so much fear; so just unmask yourself and show who you are!"
The Phantom looked around in fright after he'd been proven wrong for three times. His face darkened and his eyes darted around the room; he panicked and began to breathe heavily. He removed his mask of Phoenix Wright and moved to pull off various masks of people they had seen before; past defendants, past witnesses, past lawyers. At last, he turned back into Fulbright's torn face and stared up at the moon; he screamed for help but nothing came.
His face turned from terror into horror as he saw something. He could not move; his legs were glued to the floor. He could not scream anymore, so he spoke very faintly.
"I-I haven't revealed anything, you know th-that, don't you?"
An ear-splitting sound rang through the court; a gunshot. The Phantom fell down on the floor. His face was covered; shrouded in mystery. Fulbright's mask lay on the ground, amongst all the other ones. There was blood pouring out from a wound. Paramedics rushed in and dragged the man away before anyone had time to react.
If the man was dead, then there was nothing they could do.
"Paramedics have confirmed that the bullet did not pierce any vital organs, so he is undergoing surgery as we speak. On the other hand, forensics has confirmed that the sample of moon rock matched Miss. Cykes' earring so it appears the defense was correct."
The judge nodded in approval, he thanked Blackquill for the news and turned to Athena.
"Miss Cykes, after a long trial, I'm very happy to pronounce you; not guilty!"
Confetti rained down on the lawyers as they expressed their joy. Apollo yelled happily, shaking hands with Athena as Phoenix clapped cheerfully. A hint of a smile crept up Blackquill's lips as he exchanged glances with her.
Despite everything, she had not run away from him. She had continued to pester him and irritate him for so long, yet when he snapped back, she had retorted. She was no longer a girl, but a young woman with her life ahead of her.
And he hoped to be part of her new life.
The young lawyer turned around to face the speaker. Simon Blackquill stood before her; he gazed into her azure blue eyes. She felt a happy tingling feeling course through her body. It was real – he was alive. This was here and now.
"I'm forever in your debt,"
He wanted to hold her; hug her or squeeze her hand. He wanted to tell her how much he had missed this. The walls and barriers that had chained him to his death were gone. He wanted to do more than thank her. He owed her his life, literally. Instead, being his usual stiff self, he appreciated her work.
"You went through all that trouble; even taking the bar exam while overseas,"
"Well, I knew that if I didn't get your sentence overturned fast, you'd be executed. So I studied and studied! I was frantic!"
Athena placed her hands on her chest and beamed at him.
"I'm just glad I made it in time...just barely but I made it!"
She allowed the tears to finally fall. After so much pent-up frustration, difficulty, and working around the clock, she could cry.
The prosecutor took another step closer to her, his eyes studying her.
"Yes, I survived by the skin of my teeth, thanks to you."
Athena put her hands on her hips. "Sh-Shame on you, Simon; for trying to throw away your life like that,"
"It was never my intention to throw away my life. But there are some things in this world that are more important that your own life."
The corners of his lips turned upward slightly, Simon placed a hand on her shoulder. "You,"
She gasped in surprise. He had rendered her speechless. She wrapped her arms around him in a comforting embrace, whispering into his coat. Her muffled replies were greeted with a caress on her cheek and a short, simple "Thank you."
The astronaut gripped the controller, his eyes were squeezed shut. He began to whisper some reassuring words.
"I'll be fine, I'll be fine…"
In the control room, standing behind the Space Center's director were the three lawyers. A voice sounded over the radio, they announced that the countdown was going to start.
Phoenix stared ahead at the picture of the rocket on the screen. Finally, the rocket would be able to launch without any saboteurs nearby. The Phantom had finally been caught. All that was left was to figure out the man's identity.
Clay Terran may have been unable to go to space and accomplish his dream of flying the rocket, but he was at peace. Apollo knew that Clay would rest now, knowing that the person who murdered him was behind bars for good.
Simon Blackquill was alive and free, Athena was happy. Her task had been achieved. It would not have brought her mother back, but at least Simon was still here. She was truly grateful to Phoenix Wright and his agency. The Phantom had been caught, the worst was over.
The rocket lifted off from its position and launched into the sky. It left a long line of cloudy smoke behind; swirling and circling the skies above.
Out in an open field, Simon Blackquill stood; he watched the rocket as it flew past him; the smoke trailed behind it like the arc that a volleyball made when it was set high above the net. His long coat blew in the wind. The launch had marked a new era; he was still alive. And for the first time in so long, he was genuinely happy.
Miles Edgeworth maneuvered his chair to face the window. He saw a flash of something; almost like a shooting star. The rocket had launched. He sipped his tea and leaned back in his chair. The target had been captured, Blackquill and Cykes were free to go and Wright had saved the day again. All the chief prosecutor could do was smile and be thankful that the law system was going to be restored to its former glory.
She heard the guard slam the cell door behind him. Aura Blackquill heard the familiar whooshing sound that emitted from the rockets in the Space Center. She allowed herself a small smile. Starbuck was really among the stars now; after years of planning, her colleague had made it up into space. She undid her hair, allowing it to fall from its usual drill style; it cascaded down her shoulders like ripples of water. Her brother had survived. That was all she wanted.
While the dark age of the law was over, there were still many more cases to be solved and defendants to be cleared from their charges.
But aside from all that, Athena wanted to see Simon again; relaxed and happy as he once was. She would do anything to bring out his old self again.
He was seated beside her in the Wright Anything Agency along with all the other lawyers and friends. Edgeworth was discussing something with Phoenix and Pearl Fey. Trucy Wright and Juniper Woods were both gently teasing Apollo for liking something. Whatever they were all talking about, Athena could not find herself to care.
She looked into Simon's eyes; kind and gentle. She knew she loved him deeply; and though she had not acted upon her feelings, Athena would tell him soon.
Simon broke her trance as he raised his glass of sake.
"I'd like to know more about you, again."
Athena knew it was not him talking while being drunk. In fact, she could say he was feeling very sober at the moment. This was her opportunity; their opportunity to see each other more often outside court cases.
She smiled. "So would I."
When Athena called Simon next, it was the week after their trial.
They had been out last night after solving a kidnapping case with the Wright Anything Agency and the Chief Prosecutor. Technically, he did not need to celebrate seeing as the defendant received a "Not Guilty". But, for the sake of socializing, he went out for noodles. Sometimes he worried about Phoenix Wright's wallet, but that could not be helped if the agency continued to have victory dinners at Eldoon's stand.
For Blackquill's "hangover" remedy, he would simply attempt to do something productive relating to his work. But every time he opened the case files, he felt his eyes close shut and he was lost to slumber. Simon could not blame himself; Edgeworth had even requested that he should take time off before going back into society and working again freely.
But Athena was having none of that.
It was around midday when he heard the shrill noise of the phone ring. Simon sauntered out of the room to pick up the call, dressed in black sweatpants and a navy blue hoodie, looking thoroughly rugged like a drug addict, and lazily answered the call.
He grimaced slightly at the chirrupy and happy tone on the other end of the line.
"Oh, I wanted to see how you were and I also needed to ask a favour of you…"
"I'm fine, thank you. What is this favour of yours, I'm quite busy at the moment."
Simon smirked at his words. Busy sleeping, he thought.
"Oh, I was just wondering if you could accompany to my mom's grave tomorrow. You don't have to come, I was just –"
"I would be glad to accompany you, even if it is only to give my respects. I shall meet you there tomorrow."
He hung up after that. But something did not feel right to him. The prosecutor removed the thought from his mind and proceeded to read up on some cold cases.
Athena placed the phone down on the receiver and began to card a hand through her hair. She was not sure why she asked him to come, and she had made such a big fuss over it that she wondered if he was even planning on coming at all. But he had agreed and had reassured her that, yes, he was coming.
Really, she only wanted to see him.
Simon was quite the unsociable person and did not mind being somewhat distant in communication. She had known all that from the minute he walked in those lab doors all those years ago. Metis did not mind at all, they shared a deep bond of friendship and partnership that Athena could only wonder.
Did Simon love Metis?
Did he care for her and hold her in the night and whisper sweet nothings to her?
"No." she said out loud and shook her head.
It was stupid to think about. They had only shared a work relationship. Besides, Aura was always around her mother. Obviously, the engineer had known way more about Metis than she had Simon had ever known. In fact, her mother loved both Blackquills more than her.
But did she know?
Could she really say that her mother did not love her?
No. There was nothing to know about it. And there never would be if she did not ask Simon.
Apollo closed the drawer to the file cabinet. He had just completed his paperwork for a robbery case and was about to continue work when Wright appeared next to him.
"Hey, are you feeling okay?"
"I'm fine." He said; his eyes did not quite meet Phoenix's worried gaze.
Ever since the Clay Terran case was solved, Phoenix had taken it upon himself to worry about his subordinates. No matter how many times Apollo had given his boss an answer; there was still a lingering and tense mood. Apollo and Athena were on speaking terms but it was still awkward. She came in on time and left a little earlier than everyone else. Apollo often suspected that she would go over to the Office to see Blackquill or at least attempt to sneak into the Prosecutor's Office without permission.
Speaking of the Blackquills, Apollo had to prepare for Aura's trial.
He visited her occasionally, sometimes her brother would be there. But mostly, it would just be the two of them. The visits were short; maybe a little awkwardness, but it was just small talk and talk of work and prison. They did not talk about the Space Centre or Clay or Metis. Sometimes, he did not need to say anything – neither did she. The silence suited them just fine. It was good to take a break; for him, at least.
He turned to face his boss, muttered something about getting lunch and left without a second glance. It was a lie. He was not going to grab lunch or anything of the sort. He was going to see Clay Terran's grave.
Edgeworth shut the door behind him as he entered the dark room. Miles seated himself at the chair and stared at the man on the other side of the barrier. He broke the silence a couple of minutes later.
"Do you have anything to say in your defense?"
Following a surgery on his abdomen after being shot, the doctors and detectives placed the Phantom on bed rest until he had recovered enough to be transported to jail. The doctors had also scraped off any remaining masks the man was wearing and administered some treatment.
The Phantom shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He was pale skinned with dark hazel eyes. There was a line of black hair running from his right temple to the back of his head. When he spoke, his voice sounded distorted; as though he was speaking through a mouthpiece.
"No, I have nothing, Mr. Prosecutor,"
Edgeworth eyed him carefully. He dropped a couple of files on the desk and proceeded to take out some photographs. The prosecutor dragged his finger across the faces.
"Are any of these people related to you in any manner?"
Phantom shook his head.
"Are you in any of these pictures?"
He continued to shake his head.
Miles decided to change tack and recited some testimonies that described the Phantom during his various missions and operations.
Again, Phantom refused to say anything. He continued to exercise his right to remain silent.
Eventually Edgeworth gave up, he nodded to the guard and exited the room.
If he was not going to be able to coerce the Phantom into answering, then he would have to ask a colleague of his. Much to his chagrin, most of the prosecutors were terrified of the Phantom. But one name was etched on the forefront of his mind.
Simon glanced over at Athena as she stood beside him. There was a bouquet of roses in her hand and a necklace in the other. They had not said anything for a while; they just stood in silence, overlooking Metis Cykes' grave. They both knew it hurt them deeply to be here, but it was out of respect. He had never truly said goodbye to the woman he looked up to. And well…Athena never had the chance to visit her mother's grave.
He was never one for small talk. He did not mind the silence. In fact, it was somewhat soothing to the prosecutor. After endless, sleepless nights, he could finally rest; even though he never expected to still be alive today, he was thankful.
Although Aura knew about Metis, he could not find the words to tell Athena the same thing. They were two very different people, and they had their own ways of coping; for Aura, she simply lashed out and lost her control, and Athena had ignored it completely. No, she did not ignore it – Athena simply had no idea of what was going on.
But could he say that for certain?
His eyes studied her. She had made no sign of movement in the last five minutes. He thought of reaching out to touch her – a small, comforting gesture like a hand on the shoulder, or a reassuring smile. However, his awkward nature prevented that. The only embrace they had shared had been a week ago, but that was simply a reunion. She thought of him as a brother, not a lover.
And what did he think of her?
Simon could not say for certain. At least that was what he thought now, the past was not important. They had to look to the future. Whether he loved her more than she loved him, he would never tell her. His stupid pride stopped that.
In more ways than one, he resembled Aura; they had never acted upon their feelings, they just chose to dismiss it from their minds. He would have died happily knowing that she was going to be alright. Instead of feeling relieved, he felt tense and odd.
He opened his mouth as if to speak, but then clamped it shut. Thankfully, his phone rang at that exact moment, a wave of relief washed over him. The caller ID was registered as Miles Edgeworth, he answered.
"You called, sir?"
"Ah, yes, Blackquill, I was wondering if you could come down to the detention center. It concerns the Phantom case; no one can get a word out of him and I was wondering if you could help out."
"Good. I'm sorry if I've interrupted your morning."
"No, I was just visiting my mentor's grave with Cykes-dono,"
There was a brief pause on the other end of the line before Edgeworth spoke again. "Right, well, I'll meet you there in ten minutes."
He heard the phone click on the other end before ending the call as well.
He looked over at Athena. Her expression was the same; neutral, emotionless and indifferent to what he had just said. She gestured at the gate; her eyes never left his face. As he left the graveyard, he wondered what he had done to make her suddenly seem so quiet and unable to speak to him.
Athena watched the prosecutor as he walked out of the gate. He had not turned his head once, or even glanced back at her. It eerily reminded her of their first encounter during the Tenma case. But this time, no words were exchanged.
She had wanted to see him more often, but their meeting now was hardly meaningful. He had only accompanied her to pay his respects to Metis Cykes. She wanted to ask all sorts of questions. But the words got caught up in her throat before she could even say anything.
Athena had tried to pick up any emotion in his words; it only worked when someone spoke. The only time he spoke was when he was talking to the Chief Prosecutor. What she had picked up was relief.
Was he relieved that a case had brought something up?
Was he relieved to leave her mother's grave?
Was he relieved to be rid of her?
The questions kept appearing her mind. Each one was more negative than the other. It was almost as though he had made a broken promise. But, as Athena recalled from their conversation a couple of days ago, it was not even a promise – let alone a reassuring statement. All he wanted was to see her more often – nothing more than a kind request.
She wondered why she kept having sudden doubts and contradicting feelings. She had wanted to tell him that she loved him, and if he did not share her feelings then at least it was in the open. But, she could not tell him. All Athena wanted was an answer to an entirely different question; yet she still held the words on her tongue.
Maybe she could ask him again someday. But for now, she needed to keep quiet about it.
Phoenix shut the file and placed it in the cabinet. After reviewing the agency's paperwork and making small edits to documents, he had finally completed the lengthy, time-consuming task. He slumped back in his seat and ran a hand through his hair.
Something was not quite right in the agency.
Despite their forgiveness, Apollo and Athena still did not speak much. Things around the three of them were still awkward and left a long, strange silence whenever someone said something out of the blue. Apollo kept to himself, he sometimes added sarcastic comments and always rushed to the detention centre whenever there was mention of a new case. Athena, on the other hand, was a little less cheerful and bright around both of them. Maybe it was the effect of her trial or something someone had said. Or maybe it was related to Blackquill.
He hoped that the matter could be resolved soon; even Trucy was getting worried about it and Pearl had mentioned something about it when she last visited a few days ago.
Phoenix rubbed his eyes and groaned. He hated feuds and issues, especially when it concerned his colleagues.
Blackquill shut the door behind him. After yielding no results from the Phantom today, he was tired, frustrated and irritated. Even before the interrogation, Athena's behaviour stumped him earlier. She was not her normal self today; unlike yesterday and a week before that where she agreed that they should see each other more often.
And as stupid as he had been, it was his own fault that he even brought up the matter earlier. He could not call her by her first name, only choosing to be polite and stiff as always.
If he did try and call her by her first name, he would recall her standing by her mother's body; knife in hand, blood everywhere and wondering why her mother would not wake up. He shuddered at the thought. Seven years of torment could not stop that painful memory to arise at uncertain times; least of all now, when he had been released.
Whatever he had done to make Athena seem strange, he would hold full responsibility for it. It was stupid, to say the least, but after everything, he was not worth her time. And so, he cut off all contact and focused his attention towards the Phantom case.
Aura Blackquill would be lying if she said that she did not miss the outside world; the buzz and excitement of life around her; the thoughts that would constantly cross her mind in between projects; the tinkering away at machines. Yet, it was the result of her actions that brought her here into this god forsaken place.
The prison was lifeless and soulless. She wanted to be rid of it, and do that she had to cooperate with her lawyer.
She did not want Athena Cykes to handle her trial at all. Despite her forgiving the young lawyer, she could not bring herself to deal with her. She resembled nothing of the woman Aura had loved unconditionally, yet that was not her excuse. It was out of the anger, shame and embarrassment she had received throughout all those seven years that she could not face another Cykes.
When Simon had come by to tell her that he had appointed Athena as her lawyer, she flat-out refused. And so, Apollo Justice was brought in.
He smiled softly at her and exchanged pleasantries. Though coming from Aura, there was hardly anything pleasant about the place they had dumped her in. Apollo sarcastically stated that she would be fine and she would get used to it. She had scoffed in reply to what he had said. Then he dropped a case file on the table.
"Please, Aura, I just want to make this easier for you and get your sentence reduced. So can you tell me what you did and run through it again?"
Aura crossed her arms. She had so much respect for the man; they had shared the same destiny and yet he pulled through it much quicker than she had ever done. Clay Terran would be smiling and dancing among the stars right now, and like Apollo he would be shouting "You're fine!" to other people. Her lips turned up at the thought before immediately returning to her somewhat bored and neutral face.
Hopefully, Apollo would be able to help her.
"After reviewing the arguments presented by both parties and consulting the evidence, I shall hand down my verdict. Under these circumstances, I find Aura Blackquill 'guilty' of the kidnapping of twelve hostages. However, her sentence has been reduced to a minimum of three months with a chance of parole."
The judge banged his gavel and nodded at the defense and prosecution. "That is all."
Simon rose from his seat in the gallery. He swung his work satchel over his shoulder and beckoned for Taka to follow him. So, Aura is to have a short stay in the clink. He bit down on the feather in his mouth, gritted his teeth and scowled. He heard short, quick and uneven footfalls approach him. Apparently, "someone" was trying to catch him before he left – and that "someone" was Athena Cykes.
He did not know what he was going to say; he could hardly dismiss her when she had tried to grab his attention. It vaguely reminded him of their second trial against each other; although, technically that had been her first, proper trial.
They were not pretending to be strangers anymore, they knew each other. Still, that did not mean anything to Simon. Though he could love her as more than something of a sibling, it was only an emotion; love was such a fragile bond. With that broken bond came pain and heartbreak, and Aura Blackquill became nothing more than the shell of the woman he saw today in court. He would not suffer from the same cause, and so he turned around to face Athena and uttered two words.
He did not even properly face her, or look her in the eye. They were strangers again; two lawyers who happened to have shared the same fate. But when he tried to look at her, Simon would see her eleven year old self again; helpless and bloody.
Her voice echoed in the hallways as he departed.
No. No, he would not surrender to her again.
She heard the discord in his voice; loud and unchanging. Athena wanted to cover her ears at that moment, but stopped herself. She needed to hear his voice; even if it was only a sigh or an insult.
Athena could not understand anything; whatever had happened to make him feel like this? Was it her fault? Was it to do with the case? Was it to do with Aura? Whatever it was, it had hit him pretty hard. She hoped she could see him again.
Athena reached out to grab him; his coat; his hand; anything, but failed to do so. Instead he had walked away. His grey eyes were imprinted in her mind.
"Wait!" She heard herself yell.
Her voice echoed in the halls of the courthouse; it faded into an eerie silence. She cried out his name long after he had left; her feet were glued to floor and her hands fell to her side. Athena could have screamed some more, cried some more or even moved some more. But her emotions had got the better of her; she was silenced, Simon Blackquill had left again.
She did not want him to leave her life again; even the fleeting memories had got the better of her. It was as though she was stuck in another time with no conviction to move forward.
And she had done nothing to stop him.
Two weeks had passed since the day he exited her life. Athena had taken to contacting him by phone and leaving messages on the prosecutor's answering machine. But there was never any reply. He probably did not even pick up the phone and took to emailing. So, Athena had tried to email Blackquill several times but it probably got sorted out into his 'Junk' folder.
It was too obvious; he was never going to reply to anything she sent. Heck, in his eyes, she would probably be acting like some young woman lusting over a hard-to-get man.
But she was not going to stop at all; Athena wanted answers to questions that had been there for a very long time.
Pearl set down her cleaning equipment. She had finally finished off work on Phoenix and Apollo's office. Next, she would have to deal with the clutter in Athena's work space.
The young Fey picked up some clean rags and a mop; she proceeded to make way into Athena's office.
Pearl was greeted by Athena's back hunched over by the window. There were shards of glass on the floor; several papers were strewn about alongside some ribbons and pens. The girl tiptoed her way around the room, avoiding the mess, and placed a hand on Athena's shoulder.
"Hey, what's the matter?"
Pearl clicked her tongue as she helped Athena into her seat. "It's not 'nothing' if you've got all this clutter in here. You've been acting a lot more strangely lately."
"Keen observational skills, Pearly. Why don't you pursue a law degree?"
"Hey, Athena, listen. I'm trying to be helpful, if you don't want me to help, then I'll just leave."
To prove that she was not just joking, Pearl picked up her cleaning utensils and headed to the door.
"Wait, I didn't mean to. Sorry, I've just been so way over in my head lately."
Pearl sighed. "Okay."
Athena pulled out a photograph out of its destroyed glass frame. Fey recognized it almost instantly; it was the photo she saw when Athena had first come into the office in tears. It was a picture of Metis Cykes, Aura Blackquill and a younger Simon Blackquill. Unlike as they were now, their faces and smiles were full of life.
Pearl remembered watching the trial with surprise and shock in her face as Aura Blackquill revealed her reasons for kidnapping the hostages and Simon's Blackquill's undying faith. Now, they were the shells of who they had once been; proud and happy. Not even seven years of misery could change their feelings and thoughts.
Athena gave the frame a clean using her sleeve and pressed her thumb against her mother's face.
"She loved them more than she ever loved me…"
"You mean Prosecutor Blackquill and Ms. Aura?"
"Yes; they were always around her and she cared for them as friends. I was just in the way."
Pearl placed a hand on her friend's arm. "But can you say that for sure?"
"I-I don't know." Her voice faltered and her shoulders drooped slightly.
"Exactly," Pearl whispered softly in reply.
"I don't think anyone understands what I'm trying to do – or even say…"
Pearl watched Athena with gentle, sympathetic and caring eyes. She had understood what it felt like to lose someone important. Even though Morgan Fey had been somewhat cruel and cunning, Pearl had never known until the last moment. The young Fey had always looked up to her mother as an important figure in her life, she had never once sought to follow Morgan's path. In her dysfunctional family, it had been comforting in some way to know that someone had loved her.
As she watched Athena, the young lawyer had been through a similar phase in life. Athena was never sure if her mother loved her even, or that Aura Blackquill was someone to consult; Athena had turned to Simon Blackquill for help, a man with almost no social skills, and he had helped her as something of a brother. He cared for her, read her stories and even played with her; everything that a sibling would do.
Yet, looking at the picture of Metis Cykes, Aura and Simon Blackquill, Pearl sensed that everyone alive in there had changed immensely. Aura Blackquill sought revenge for seven years and her brother had thrown away his life, to what most people would say: a meaningless cause.
There were no knights in shining armour, or damsels in distress; life was not a fairy tale. Athena Cykes' life had hardly been perfect; and neither had Pearl Fey's.
"I understand what you mean." Pearl said.
Athena looked up at her. "At least I have you to count on."
It was true actually. After being driven into saving Simon, she was only to be repaid by his silence and avoidance, and being friends with Apollo led to awkwardness due to some suspicion and Aura's hatred only proved to chip away at her heart even more. Pearl Fey was someone she could count on; even if it was just for a little while.
Blackquill glared at the documents displayed in front of him. The Phantom case was proving a lot harder than he thought. There were various investigators from Interpol who were taking care of the investigation and some members of the FBI were also involved.
However, the documents in front of him were neither from his superior nor from the Interpol. Oddly enough, Apollo Justice had sent them over with a small note saying that he had found these in the Archives room under the courthouse.
Blackquill praised Justice, despite being something of a hot-blooded, loud and tense lawyer; he knew how to gather relevant information and had it in several files. Simon wondered if it had something to do with Terran's case when Justice had been absent from the trial, and being a defense attorney, he gave the information over to the prosecution who worked with Interpol.
For the last two weeks after Aura's trial and his last encounter with Athena, Simon had spent the New Year working on the Phantom case. He had spent endless nights questioning the man and following up on leads, and when he would return home, Simon would just fall asleep on the bed almost immediately.
Any irrelevant thoughts were pushed aside; his attention was focused on the Phantom case. Once or twice a week, the man would make time to visit his sister in jail. He was never sure why he did it, he supposed it could be a payback to all those times she visited him. But Aura had her reasons, and all of that was wasted breath. Yet now it was silence; heavy and awkward.
Simon had adjusted to his life in his workplace fairly quickly; he had added a few bits and pieces to the office as well as working.
There were a few samurai swords placed on a stand inside a glass cabinet lodged between two bookcases to the left of the room. On the other side was a black leather sofa where he occasionally lounged when he pulled an all-nighter; most of the time he used it to stack up files where there was no space. His desk and chair were by the window near the center of the room, a dark burgundy carpet covered the floor in the center. To the far left, behind the dark mahogany bookcases was a perch which Taka would usually rest in.
As he was seated in the chair beside his desk, he leafed through the files that Justice had given him. Simon smirked to himself, the documents were sure to come in handy anytime soon. He made a mental note to thank Apollo later in the week.
Phoenix's eyebrows creased together into a frown. "Hey, Apollo…"
"Yeah?" The other man looked over his shoulder to face his boss.
Phoenix beckoned towards the seat in front of his desk and gestured for Apollo to take a seat. Normally the seat was reserved for clients; however it was now occupied by Apollo Justice, who in some ways, was a client himself now. They had not really conversed together ever since the Phantom case was closed, and that had been three weeks ago.
Phoenix was actually quite good at heart-to-heart talks, usually had been with his many former assistants when the agency used to be the 'Wright and Co. Law Offices'.
"So, what's been bugging you the past few weeks? Is it us, is it just you, is it something to do with Clay?"
"It's not much really, I just feel stupid all the time. All those suspicions and stuff, they kinda got the better of me, y'know?"
Phoenix acknowledged this quietly.
"And well, I miss him so much. One minute, he was with me, crashing at my place, next he's lying under some headstone."
"He's in safe hands now. He's up there among the stars. Clay's alright. Don't let anything change that thought."
"Thank you, Mr. Wright."
"Hey, come here." Phoenix outstretched his arms as though to pull Apollo into a hug.
Justice did not hesitate as he stepped into the embrace; it was comforting and soothing. He had spent so long wearing a rigid and fake mask of emotions that concealed his true self. Now, it was all over.
And Phoenix Wright had ended his pain again.
"Thank you, thank you, thankyou…"
He muttered the words under his breath until it became an incomprehensible and meaningless chant.
Edgeworth set down his teacup on the tray before adjusting his glasses. He turned on the laptop, gave it time to boot up and then accessed the call center. A small blue screen appeared and several usernames showed up. Miles then clicked on two usernames and pressed the call button.
"Hey, Mr. Prosecutor,"
Edgeworth nodded at the person on the screen. "Good day, Lang,"
The man on the screen smirked. Lang's golden hair stuck up in various angles, over the last few years it had grown past his shoulders and down to his upper back. It was still shaped as Edgeworth remembered it; like a wolf. His eyes were dark hazel and concealed slightly by a pair of wire rimmed glasses. From what Miles could see, the agent was dressed in a black button down shirt and a grey suit jacket.
Despite a slight change in appearance, Lang still had the same smug personality; however his respect for Edgeworth had increased quite a lot. When Edgeworth had first met the man, they had shared a mutual dislike of one another. Shi-Long Lang had always tried to assume responsibility over a case and act as a figure of authority. That made Miles constantly irritated due to the fact that he was a prosecutor and Lang was part of Interpol.
However after solving a double murder and stopping a smuggling ring, they both became a little less rude to one another. Their meetings did not stop there after Miles went off to work at the ICPO branch in Germany. After solving cases together, they became acquaintances and good friends. As Miles recalled, Lang and Edgeworth's sister worked together and were even closer than the two men were.
He pushed away old memories from his mind and rubbed at his temples. The reason Edgeworth had called Lang and Franziska was to see how the ICPO were handling the investigation overseas. In return, he exchanged information. They needed evidence against Phantom and figure out who were the higher-ups involved. No doubt was in any of their minds that it was going to be a large scale operation.
"So, how's the case going?" Lang's slightly accented voice came through the speakers on the desk.
"It's not made much progress, I was hoping that one of you found something."
"Well," Lang turned his head to look away, his eyes were shut. "Nothing's turned up here. I've checked with the Zheng-Fa police and the Borginian agents, there's nothing."
Just then, a cracking sound filtered through the speakers, Miles recoiled. Another webcam feed showed up on the screen.
"Hello, dear Franziska,"
"Hey, Sis," Lang tilted his head at the newcomer.
Franziska von Karma tilted her head sideways, an annoyed expression filled her face. From what Miles could see, Franziska had her trust whip in her hands.
Typical, he smirked inwardly.
"Miles Edgeworth, why are you discussing the case outside my presence? You know better than to do that, fool!"
A few more crackling sounds made way into Miles' speakers. He gritted his teeth as though he was receiving the lashes physically not through means of sound.
Franziska von Karma had always been an impatient woman, and Miles had known that for so long that he would dismiss it. Yet, looking back on times, he missed her impatient and somewhat rude attitude.
Franziska's hair had grown out since he last saw her, it had reached shoulder length. Her face had aged slightly in the last five years and, like the other two, she wore a pair of oval glasses that rested on her nose. Her attire was somewhat the same; the puffy sleeves had been replaced by a simple work shirt and she wore a turquoise blazer on top.
Like Lang, her appearance was a little different but her attitude was still, for the most part; the same Franziska von Karma that Miles had known since she was a little girl.
"Have your foolish American police figured anything out?" Franziska's slightly German accent was present in her voice as she spoke.
"Not really, however Prosecutor Blackquill has been given evidence by Apollo Justice. The file detailed various missing persons that have disappeared in the last decade and a half; they were around the same age and in the same area of the city when they disappeared."
"Does that mean anything?" Lang asked.
"It gives us something to work on. From Justice's deductions and Blackquill's input, I can guarantee it was the Phantom that took their identities and killed them."
"Hmm. Have you found anything out, Lang?" Franziska nodded in understanding to Edgeworth's deductions.
"No. I've been through Borginia, Zheng-Fa and the Balkans. Nothing has shown up on our charts, Sis,"
"Thank you, Agent."
"However," Lang scratched his chin in thought. "Going by the various points that Edgeworth has come with, I'll do another check on the regions in the Balkans, Borginia and Zheng-Fa."
"Good. And you, Franziska?" Edgeworth tilted his head in question.
The feed showed Franziska smirking at him and Lang. "I'm glad you asked, Little Brother." She pulled out a stack of papers that were labelled and stamped in German.
"I've found out that the murder and kidnapping rates have increased in Central and Northern Europe. In fact, they've increased a lot in Germany, Denmark and Holland. Perhaps it may mean nothing, but it's a first. The evidence points to a criminal organisation that runs overseas. It's a possibility that it's based in a less developed country, decreasing the chances of the ICPO finding out."
"That's a very good point, Sis."
"Of course it is." She allowed herself a small, sly smile.
Edgeworth closed his eyes; he took in the information and began to process it. The ideas, assumptions and evidence gathered from their findings were, no doubt, valuable. However, it was mostly circumstantial and not very conclusive. He would have to postpone their next call to a later date.
"Well, despite our discoveries, I cannot really give Interpol responsibility over the Phantom case. It'll have to wait until we find more proper evidence relating to the case. We should look on a national scale and turn to less-developed countries. Nothing may come of it, but I want to make sure."
"Very well, Mr. Prosecutor, I entrust the case to you…for now."
"All right, Miles Edgeworth."
"Until later, then. Thank you."
Simon sighed, he placed his hand on the doorknob and turned it.
Relax; you're only going to thank Justice-dono. There's nothing else to worry about. Simon inwardly cursed himself.
When he entered, he was greeted by Trucy Wright, behind her was Athena Cykes and to the side of the room was Apollo Justice who was sipping on a cup of coffee while he sifted through some nodded to Trucy before crossing the room in two long strides.
Apollo looked up from his seat at the figure that was towered over him. He let out a short yelp. It was quite odd to find a prosecutor – let alone Blackquill – here at the agency. Justice composed himself and set down the files.
"Oh, did you want something, Mr. Blackquill?"
Blackquill looked away briefly before he faced Justice again. "I came to express my gratitude on finding evidence for the Phantom case. It has helped immensely."
"It was my pleasure, Prosecutor Blackquill,"
"And well," He watched Simon as he rummaged in his pocket for something. "I'm sure your 'Space Boy' friend would be thankful as well."
In Blackquill's hand was a square piece of paper; a note, a photograph?
Apollo gingerly took it out and gasped in shock as he turned it over.
It was an old picture of a younger Clay and Apollo. Justice recalled it as one of the first times he had visited the Space Center. They were dressed in simple t-shirts and shorts; Clay had his arm around Apollo and made a peace sign with the other hand. Apollo, on the other hand, had his eyes shut in a laughing expression with his mouth wide open. In the background was the entrance to the Center, it was slightly different back then; the earth emblem was just above the GYAXA sign and there were security guards stationed by the launch pads.
He felt his heart skip several beats as he gazed at the photo. Apollo felt tears stream down his cheeks as well; a comforting hand was placed on his shoulder.
"Justice-dono, you can cry. Terran-dono would've wanted you to have this as something of a memory; a token of your friendship…"
Apollo's chocolate brown eyes were raised to meet Blackquill's ash grey. "H-How did you find this?"
"Aura gave it to me when I last visited,"
"Th-Thank you, tell her that too…"
"Of course," Blackquill nodded solemnly before he straightened his surcoat. "I'll be taking my leave now."
Silence filled the room, Apollo hesitated slowly, he shook his head and whispered softly.
"Thanks…" he trailed off and turned his attention to the floor. Just when he thought he was past it all, it had all come back - he just couldn't shake it off. No matter how hard he tried, he would never be free of his chains.
This is my chance, I've got to tell him!
Even though probably nothing would come of it, Athena had to tell him now. The perfect opportunity had arisen; Blackquill was here.
Athena silently rose from his seat towards the prosecutor.
He turned to leave the office but before he could reach the door, a cold hand grabbed his. Simon took one step away from the door frame and looked up at them. It was Athena.
Her blue eyes bore into his.
"Why do you always have to leave?"
He raised an eyebrow behind his fringe. "Cykes-dono, I don't–"
"Don't 'Cykes-dono' me! You've always run away from me, and now you're still doing it. Why can't you understand?"
"I can't understand because you are not allowing me grasp your reasoning. What is it then, Athena?"
Simon put emphasis on her name; an attempt to coax her into getting irritated. Athena was his last concern at the moment. It's stupid, really, he mentally swore to himself; the only reason he had come down here was to thank Justice, not to deal with the emotions of a young woman.
His grey eyes studied her; there was a small sign of hesitation as he watched her rubbed her hands together. He broke off his gaze and glanced at the wall to his right. There was nothing of interest apart from a couple of photos of what he assumed to be Wright's friends. Eventually he heard her voice.
"I love you."
He pulled away from her grasp and looked away.
Her bright blue eyes studied his actions. If he looked in deeply, Simon could feel himself drowning inside her beauty.
No, this is ridiculous.
This was meant to be his least concern, and yet she had managed to disrupt the walls he had built around his heart. It had only been three weeks of no contact or communication, and when he saw her face, Simon would just lose himself to those pitiful and stupid emotions.
It was not supposed to happen.
He expected Athena to move on, out of his life, and get a young man as a boyfriend. She would have the life that she had always sought after. However, Athena was giving it all up for a stupid and finished cause; Simon Blackquill – him.
His back was turned on her; he felt her eyes burning into him. Athena would not understand. He could put into simple terms, as though he was speaking to a child, and the words would still have no effect.
Metis Cykes had never been like this.
Her mother had been more of an introverted woman who never acted on impulse; unlike her daughter. When Simon had recently visited Aura, she had said:
"I may have loved her, but I knew she would never have me as a lover. I guess it's just me being me…"
Looking back on his sister's words – the impulse, the need and the craving for someone to care and understand – it was simply lust.
Elapsam semel occasionem non ipse potest Iupitter reprehendere;
Not even Jupiter can find a lost cause.
The words in his mind bore significance to the matter at hand. He did not deserve her. He was Jupiter, and he would never be able to find the lost cause of love and affection, even if he tried.
"Forget me, Athena. Understand that I'm not worthy of you…"
As always, he never looked back. The prosecutor faced forward, he did not dare look into those forever forgiving eyes, and left the building quietly.
"You mean you just plainly stated 'No.' and that you're not 'worthy' of her?"
Simon set down his pint glass of beer. "…Yes."
Aura smirked at him. "That's stupid."
The siblings were out at a bar nearby the prisons, Simon had received permission to take Aura out and make sure that she behaved well and acted well. It was something of a test that prisoners on parole would receive: to make sure that they could cope in an outside and social environment.
Thankfully, Aura was taking it well and acted as a normal citizen.
Her appearance had changed a little. Her purple hair was showing strands of black hair at the roots from where she had dyed it last around two months earlier. Her eyes were red and raw from insomnia and tiredness and her appearance was slightly dishevelled. She was plainly dressed in a pair of white jeans, a navy blue polo shirt and black sneakers.
Simon had also exchanged his work attire for a pair of blue jeans and an old t-shirt with the faded lettering that read 'Ivy University'. Like his sister, his hair was quite messy but the rings under his eyes had decreased immensely despite occasionally pulling all-nighters at the office.
"And how is that stupid?"
He watched Aura put down her glass of tonic water. She ran a hand through her hair, grimaced at the colouring, ignored it and looked back at him.
"When someone says that they love you, you should accept it and rather than being rude, just acknowledge it. I learned that the hard way."
"I'm sure you did. However, I've told Ath–Cykes-dono, that she should keep her distance from me. Unfortunately she doesn't understand the meaning of the word 'no'."
Aura raised an eyebrow at the slight name change but quickly dismissed it.
"Pity though, the girl could've learned a lot from that lesson she learned when she realized that she shouldn't have faced you in court…"
The stupid girl shouldn't have involved herself in these matters.
Simon deciphered the underlying meaning of her words. But made no comment.
"Ah well." He said off-handedly and took a sip of his beer.
Aura eyed him warily for a couple of minutes before she spoke. "Do you love her?"
"Well…I suppose you could say that I do like her a little more than something of a sibling."
Aura snorted at his reply. "C'mon, surely it's more than that."
"Honestly, Aura, I'd never have anything more with Athena than you did with Metis."
Simon knew he was pulling at her heartstrings but he wanted information; and not something for a trial, it was personal. And in his mind, it continued to seem even stupider every time he tried to get Aura to say something. He knew his sister was hard to deal with, but when it came to the matters of the heart she probably knew best.
Since a young age, Simon would always notice Aura being frustrated over something to do with love. He had recalled times when she laughed off dates and rejected boy's attempts to date her. He supposed she had always known that she preferred women over men, and he did not hold it against her. Simon accepted Aura, and she in return accepted him for being just as different in another way. As they had both always known; they were so alike yet so different.
He watched Aura sip her drink and ponder a little. Eventually she broke the silence and spoke.
"I almost made a move. Though I only got as far as tucking the little princess in bed," Aura tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. "I had already known that she cared for me as a friend, not as a lover, so I didn't really need to push it any further."
"But she did, and never told you."
"She told you, though."
"Never mind, Simon, it doesn't do well to dwell on the past. Just face forward, always."
He had to press the question now. It was going to be stupid, and he would feel foolish afterwards. But it had to be done, at least for the sake of things. He needed to get Athena off his mind for a while. So Blackquill set down his beverage and eyed his sister seriously. She responded with a questioning tilt of the head.
"Aura, do you give me permission to attempt to take Cykes-dono's hand?"
And then the laughter came.
Aura barked out a few short giggles before losing herself to the rhythmic tone of her voice. Simon silently cursed himself as he would do when he felt like a complete idiot. After what seemed like hours had passed, Aura finally silenced herself and raised her gaze to face her young brother.
"Oh God, Simon, you don't need to ask me that! What are you, some Victorian-era aristocrat asking for permission to marry some father's daughter?!"
"Yeah I know she's not my daughter, but it seems like that by asking me. All you wanted was to see if I agree to you confessing your love for the princess."
Simon leaned in to listen in to what she had to say next. "And?"
"Go for it. Tell her whenever you can. Give yourself the chance that I never had, just so long as you don't make the same mistake that I made and follow my route. Believe me, you'd only be putting yourself in a whole load of unwanted misery. And with that misery comes pain, and you would just be creating scenarios and fantasies of times you two could've spent together. That's what happened to me, as you know."
"Of course. I give you my utmost thanks on this matter."
Aura downed the last of her drink. "You're welcome, it was my pleasure."
The tiniest hint of a smirk was visible on her lips.
Lang picked up his bag from the baggage reclaim conveyor belt and sauntered outside the Hope Springs Airport. There were metal bars that separated the passengers from the family members or other people. There were also some reporters nearby who were probably waiting for someone to appear. As he moved towards the black limousine to the right side of the line of metal bars, the group of reporters crowded around him.
Lang knew he was popular now after he became head of the Zheng Fa Interpol branch, but he never expected reporters to be crowding around him.
He received the position a year and a half ago after his boss passed away and the higher-ups decided that they would vote for the next branch leader. He never expected that he would win by such a landslide victory. Lang did not have as many subordinates nowadays as he used to when younger. He had about two subordinates that he just named 1 and 2; their real names were Li and John but for privacy's sake, he named them in his own way.
Ever since then, Lang had attempted to fend off as many reporters as he could, only holding press conferences when Interpol allowed them, which was hardly ever apart from the annual recap.
As he trudged towards the limousine, cameras began to flash light into his eyes and make irritating clicking sounds. He nodded towards the bodyguard by the car door; the bulky man spread his arms out to prevent the journalists from crossing any further.
The voices now became cries of exasperation; they pelted questions at him and Lang dodged answers.
"Has the investigation made progress so far?"
"No comment." He stated, glaring coldly at a youngish man with a scraggly beard and slicked back black hair.
"Do you think that the Phantom's identity will be revealed soon?"
"In due time, yes."
The agent stepped into the car and the slammed the door shut behind him.
The pounding of hands on glass were made known to his ears. Flashes of light continued to attack his eyes. Finally, the bodyguard got into the driver's seat, put his seat belt on and drove off to the Prosecutor's Office.
God, he hated the press.
Athena placed the box down on the desk. She had been sorting out files all morning at the agency. She collapsed in her seat and stretched her legs.
The general awkwardness and tension between the three lawyers had generally dissipated after Blackquill came over last week to thank Apollo. But after that, Apollo seemed a little more lighthearted and returned to his regular snarky self in the span of three days.
Phoenix Wright also seemed less distanced and more engaged with them. He allowed them to take on trials and anyone who came into the office in a spot of legal trouble. His daughter, Trucy, was still cracking jokes on Apollo and making everything seem fun whenever she could.
Then there was the subject of Simon Blackquill.
Every time she made a move or crossed the boundary between friendship and love, she was pushed back. She had confessed her love for him, and all he did was ignore it and disappear again as he always did. It was pathetic how many times she tried, and how many times he had resisted. She felt weak, just as her child-like self had once been. Every time she looked in the mirror, she saw who she once was and who she still was; a young girl with no way of telling the difference between what was real and what was fake.
Although she had grown immensely, both emotionally and physically, she still continued to get the nagging feeling that Simon Blackquill did not disappear out of her life for no reason. In fact, he wanted to leave her alone. He probably thought that she was not worth his time; he would reject her if it only meant he had some peace of mind.
That thought kept Athena awake at night, and did not cease to remain in her mind ever since she had confessed her love. If the thoughts became a reality, there would be nothing more she could do than live with a broken heart. She hoped and prayed silently that they would not prove to be real.
A week after Aura had shared her opinion with him; Blackquill attempted to dismiss it from his mind and tried to continue work on the Phantom case. Maybe he would tell Athena how he felt about her, but that time was not now. New evidence had cropped up in the investigation that Agent Shi-Long Lang had ordered. It was Simon's duty to work towards completing his task; the task he had had set himself seven years before, and the mission that took away the life of Metis Cykes.
He wondered why Metis had suddenly become the item of interest in his mind. It continued to puzzle him, so much that he was taking time off. While the Phantom was his main concern, he never could figure out why Metis had seemingly known so much, and was willing to give away her life to support his stupid, stupid cause.
It was the damned cause all over again that left him as a crippled mess; grieving over the death of someone he had shared months, mere weeks, with. He knew perfectly well why he was not worthy of Athena's love; Simon had sent her mother to an early grave. Though it was not as direct as most people would assume, both Blackquills knew of the consequences it might have led up to.
She's dead, you can't revive her. It wasn't your fault, nor was it Athena's or Aura's. And Simon found himself in the state of denial he had tried to ignore for so long; the harsh reality that there was no one to blame, not even himself.
When he had stood in the graveyard, overlooking his mentor's grave, he knew he had to say something to Athena. He wanted to explain to Athena all his actions, his motives, his reasons…He also needed her to know that Metis Cykes did love her, and that it was not some illusion. Yet, it was the very thought of her mother's death that muted his words and left him to stand in silence. Maybe Simon was too busy overthinking things; or he was just wondering why he had been given the right to live again.
If I were dead now, none of this would've happened…
But would none of this really have happened?
"I may have loved her, but I knew she would never have me as a lover. I guess it's just me being me…" Aura's words ran across his mind like a passing train.
He would have to tell Athena how he felt about her. But, as a Blackquill and as something of a samurai, it would never be such an easy task to accomplish. Perhaps he and his sister were cursed to never admit their feelings for those they really loved, and the consequences that would follow of not admitting love, and had followed, would prove to be painful and almost fatal.
He was no seer. Blackquill loathed talk about the future and a possible string of incidents that could have happened after a certain incident had occurred. He decided not to dwell on the matter any further.
At the same moment he had made his decision, the office phone rang. There was no caller ID registered so he had no choice but to pick up the call.
A familiar voice drifted through. "Blackquill, there's more evidence. Please meet me in my office in ten minutes."
Phantom glared at the two men on the other side of the wall.
"So, you want information on me?"
The prisoner's voice sounded robotic and devoid of emotion, his face was cold and unnerving.
Edgeworth quickly exchanged glances with Lang, who nodded and answered briskly. "If you're willing to cooperate, that is."
The former spy threaded his fingers together and leaned forward. Phantom's dark, hazel-coloured eyes studied both men; as though he were penetrating their minds and discovering all their inner secrets. He was not a detective, and he was no longer a spy, however he still remained intact with his tracking traits.
Phantom observed the maroon clad man closer to him; from what he had learned, the man was named Miles Edgeworth, and he was a state prosecutor. Edgeworth was one of the reasons he got dumped in here. But Phantom felt no need to hate him, he had no emotions, so why bother? He did not need emotions to prove anything; it was all in his mind.
When he first met Edgeworth, the man struck him as somewhat aloof and reserved, but also of high authority. During all their interrogations, Phantom made sure not to answer any questions and deny his involvement in any matter.
However, he had the nagging feeling that his time was running out and he would never figure out who he was. It was obvious that the investigation into his former life (or many former lives) was being run by Interpol, and the one individual behind it all stood to the side of the room by the door.
Phantom curled his lip in disgust. He hated being the centre of attention, and with international police on his case, it was not making his life any easier. But his life had never been easy, so there was no fuss about it.
He wanted to be rid of this fake persona on him; he wanted to be him. He wanted a name, a face, a being. He wanted so much, however he could only get it if he cooperated with the police.
"I'll cooperate in exchange for something."
Miles gave him a long and hard stare, his eyebrows twitched downwards. "Well, what is it?"
Phantom allowed himself a small smile. "A name for myself."
"I fear your visits will soon have to end, Apollo."
Apollo stared alarmingly at his friend, who responded with a giggle.
"Not like that, silly. I meant that I'm leaving jail soon."
"O-Oh, right. I kinda forgot about that." The young lawyer rubbed his neck and grinned sheepishly.
Aura Blackquill smiled softly at him. "I'm glad we had a chance to talk."
"Yeah, I guess I am too."
Apollo did not waste any time on dwelling over trivial things this time. He was truly grateful and thankful to Aura. She had picked him up when he was in a rough patch, and most importantly, she understood him. The engineer had wanted nothing more than to see him succeed, and indeed he was successful. He had found out the information that put the Phantom behind bars, and he did it by investigating behind the scenes. Blackquill had benefitted from it greatly, and his sister was also happy.
The UR-1 had been put to rest.
That was an important factor for him to consider.
Although the people involved still had not fully recovered from their ordeal, Apollo was truly happy that he had done something to make someone else proud. Throughout his whole life, he had been shoved into a corner and left there to act as the third wheel. When he met Clay Terran, he felt the sudden urge to make friends with him. Unlike the other people Apollo used to play with, Clay understood him. And now into adulthood, Aura Blackquill understood him as well.
Even if Clay was no longer with them, Apollo gave thanks to all the people that made his life better somehow; Aura, Starbuck, Clay, Phoenix and Trucy. And perhaps, if he would let her in again, Athena.
"No, I don't guess. It's not a bluff this time round and I'm being as serious as I can. Truly, I'm happy for the first time since Clay left us and I have you to thank for that. Honestly, I don't know how I would've gone through all of that without you bumping into me at the Space Museum and requesting that I join you for a cup of tea. Heck, I don't even though how I would have handled stuff without your advice and encouragement. So, thank you."
Aura stared at the young lawyer, she felt her cheeks rise in colour. Never in the last seven years of her life had she felt so appreciated, not since Metis was alive. The woman felt hot tears trickle down her face and smiled at the young man.
Apollo smiled back at her. "No. The thanks all goes to you, Aura."
She wanted to reach out to him, but she knew that the glass barrier would stay between them for a few more weeks. When she left prison, Aura would definitely pull Apollo into a bone-crushing hug. She smiled at the thought.
Athena had spent the last two weeks avoiding Blackquill and generally anyone associated with the Prosecutor's Office except for Klavier Gavin, who she went out with for a coffee and a chat. Apart from that, her social life was limited to going out for noodles and spending time with Apollo and the Wrights.
The day had been quite short after the agency took a larceny case to court and were given a 'Not Guilty' soon after the trial had started. Instead of celebrating, Athena decided to take a jog around People Park.
She started her jog at a relatively regular speed; her earphones were placed in her ears as she jogged to one of the many Pop songs she had on her iPod. It had been a while since she felt relaxed, with the slight rays of an afternoon sun on her face and her hair free from the confines of her side ponytail. Athena soon turned around a corner where the joggers usually went for their morning exercise and avoided the bike paths that tended to cause quite a few accidents.
Fifteen minutes had passed, her iPod started a new playlist which was darker themed than the last one. Athena disagreed with the music choice her device had made and whipped out said device to switch back to her old playlist when she felt her head bang into something soft and heavy at the same time.
The young woman pulled away from the source of her slight injury to look at the thing or the person that had caused it. Her eyes were raised and immediately made contact with a pair of darker grey ones.
Her fun and light mood was instantly crushed and replaced by worry and anger. Athena broke off their eye contact and side-stepped to allow him to pass. But Blackquill was having none of that.
"Well, it seems that one of us wasn't looking in the right direction and conveniently bumped into the other. I've been meaning to tell you something– "
Athena cut him off. "Oh, so it was convenient, was it? Well then why didn't you phone me or something? You could have at least tried to do something. But no, you're just wrapped up in your cosy little office with your many court cases and having a wonderful time ignoring me."
"Don't talk rubbish. You don't know what it's like having Interpol on your back all the time while you investigate the Phantom, or the constant haunting thoughts of your former days in the clink. Balderdash. You probably would never understand the feeling of being responsible for someone's death. So, I suggest that you do not act as though you can comprehend what goes on people's daily lives."
"So what? That doesn't change the fact that you could have called. Just one phone call, Simon! That was all I would've needed. Just one!"
"Well, my job isn't to relieve you of your waking thoughts, Cykes-dono. Just in case you never understood the term, a prosecutor's job is prove that a defendant is guilty of the crime they have been charged with. Not, with the duty of taking care of other people's feelings. That is simply a waste of time."
"Oh, so emotions are of no matter, are they? Explain to me how you would have got the Phantom in jail if it was not for me."
"Evidence, Cykes-dono, not emotions. You merely provided the court with a testimony, which a child could have easily done by analyzing."
"Are you trying to tell me that my mother's work was a waste of time and space? If you are, then you can get out of my sight."
Blackquill eyed her seriously. So, the moment of truth has finally dawned upon us.
"I doubt that you would know the words that your mother wanted to tell you. You made her feel as though she failed as a parent, and in some ways as a human, too. Metis Cykes loved her daughter with all her heart, but the words never came to her. Because with the way you treated her, she never understood. And with all that ignorance inside you, you shattered her. And I drove her to her death. Therefore, before you come to any conclusion, you ought to learn the facts behind everything that occurred."
Blackquill raised a hand to silence her. "That was what has been haunting me for the last seven years. And all of what I have said wasn't what I wanted to tell you." Simon shook his head and straightened his coat before looking back at Athena. "I should really be taking my leave."
She watched him walk a few steps before she ran towards him. "Wait!"
Simon stopped in his tracks. Athena could not let him go, not when he was just about to tell her something important. She wanted to know, whatever it was had to be relevant and at least for her ears. The young lawyer watched him bow his head down before he raised his eyes to be levelled with hers.
And the words, barely audible, flooded into her ears. "I love you, Athena."
The words struck her like a wave that crashed down on the shore. She stared into his dark charcoal grey eyes, Athena felt his gaze penetrate her. He stood in front of her. A somewhat sorrowful expression on his face, his head was turned sideways to avoid the eye contact they had shared a minute ago.
There was no regret; there was no remorse or pain. But there was no happiness. The feelings in his heart were neutral.
"That is the truth of the matter at hand, Athena." His words were precise, drawn out clearly and almost mechanical.
She placed her hands on her hips. There was no running away now. No stupid decisions were to be made.
"I appreciate it," Athena eyed the man once more. "I appreciate your saying so. At least I won't have to live in denial for the rest of my life."
He tilted his head to face her. "Well, that makes two of us."
"Promise you'll see me again."
She was serious. She did not want to get her hopes up this time.
"I mean it, Athena. I will."
She watched him weave into the crowds of people going outside of the park, a dark mane of shaggy hair visible among all the pedestrians, his surcoat billowing in the wind. As soon as he escaped from her vision, Athena looked down at her iPod and hit the 'Play' button, returning to the melancholic melody that she had paused twenty minutes ago.
His words continued to ring in her mind moments after between the music in her ears.
It was an early Tuesday morning at the 'Bean's Brewery' coffee shop. The place was teeming with university students, rush hour commuters and other busy people. But for Phoenix Wright who had no cases today and had entrusted Cykes and Justice to sort out their own schedules, he was seated in one of the booths.
Seated opposite him was the stoic chief prosecutor of their city, Miles Edgeworth. Between them was a menu and two cups of coffee. They had taken their orders ten minutes earlier; java for Wright, espresso for Edgeworth. Thankfully they had arrived early and service had been quick due to the immense increase in people, orders, and the constant demand to serve those cranky university students with classes at eight in the morning.
"It's been a while since we last sat down together for a cup of coffee, Wright."
"Coffee, Edgeworth?" Phoenix raised a questioning eyebrow. "You were always a tea drinker."
Miles chuckled at the last statement and readjusted his glasses. "True, though I must admit that the late nights have taken a toll on me. Alas, I'm not as young as I once was."
"No." The blue-suited lawyer leaned back in his seat. "Hell, they call us old geezers at the age of thirty-four."
"So," Phoenix stirred his beverage around with his spoon. "I was wondering if you'd like to join me for dinner at the agency with the others on Friday. It'll be informal, just my lawyers and you could bring a few along."
"I would love to but–"
"Don't think about declining, it will just be us catching up."
Miles smirked at Phoenix's interruption. "I was thinking nothing of the sort. I was about to say that I might arrive later as I've a conference with the Bar Association earlier in the morning."
"Oh," Phoenix grinned sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "It's at 8 in the evening."
"I'll be half an hour late then."
"That's no problem, we'll serve at 9."
"Good." Edgeworth glanced at his watch and set his coffee cup down. "I'm on a rather tight schedule today so I'll be off."
"Yeah, I'll call you sometime later this week."
"That's fine." The prosecutor rose from his seat and grabbed his coat, fumbling with the sleeves. "And Wright?"
Phoenix faced his companion and tilted questioningly. "Yes?"
"Thanks for the coffee."
Phantom scratched the back of his head and leaned forward in his seat to face the holographic projection on the wall. On the screen, two faces were visible: Shi-Long Lang and another person, a woman with powder-blue hair, piercing grey eyes greeted him. Her eyebrows were turned downwards in a frown and her mouth drew a thin line on her pale face.
Lang spoke first. "So, if we are willing to cooperate with you then you give us information on everything."
Phantom nodded, taking the bargain into account. "I'll tell you all I can."
"Good," muttered the woman, her accented voice carried across the speakers. "Suspect questioned by Interpol Agent Shi-Long Lang and High Prosecutor Franziska von Karma. We shall now begin the 33rd interrogation of prisoner D-643. Commence."
The sharp noise of a tape recorder being switched on resounded in the room.
Aura leaned back in her seat, her arms were crossed and a bored expression filled her face.
"You requested me?"
Simon nodded. "The prison chief is willing to discharge you for the next two weeks for a therapy session and an evaluation to see if you can manage to live life outside of prison."
"Is that so? I'm being subject to yet another useless test that would define who the hell I am…Wonderful," Aura placed a hand on her chin. "I suppose you agree, don't you, Simon?"
"On the contrary, I disagree. But it just goes to show that you'll be leaving prison soon."
Simon pulled out a thick document, lined with papers, and placed it on the desk. "I've spoken to Edgeworth-dono. He's willing to discharge you before the two weeks are over, hopefully he'll be able to pull some strings."
Simon tilted his head questioningly, like a confused dog. "I thought you'd be at least glad to know that."
"I am. I just don't need to express my gratitude every two seconds."
"Always so stubborn, weren't you, Big Sis?"
"Don't speak in past tense, Simon. It makes it seem like I've gone and died."
"Didn't you want to die then?" He asked quietly, barely audible, yet she still heard the words.
"Maybe. In any case, visiting hours are over."
He gave her a small smile before he rose and left.
"When did these meetings begin?"
"Uh…Sometime eight years ago? I think it was October. Or was it November?"
"Who was there?"
"Arrow…Wasp…Raven, too. They're the only ones I remember."
"What were their real names?" Lang asked.
"I don't know."
Franziska held up a hand to silence Phantom. "Which intelligence agency do you work for?"
"U-um…" Phantom looked around the room, his hazel eyes darted around his surroundings; as though the walls would cave in.
"Which intelligence agency do you work for?" She repeated, oblivious to his distress.
"I-I can't tell y-you…Th-they'll k-kill me if I s-said so."
Von Karma slammed a hand down on the desk. "You pathetic fool! Don't you want to know your foolish name? Or do you just want to slink off into the night like a dog with your tail between your legs?!"
"You make me sick. All this foolish bickering about wanting your name and you can't even tell us who you work for? Do you want to die?"
"I don't know!" Phantom yelled.
Athena set her bag down on the floor of the agency. She sauntered into the kitchenette beside her boss's desk; the signs of post-trial stress were plain on her face as she opened the door to the mini fridge, relishing in the prospect of a cool, refreshing drink. She pulled out the carton of orange juice and turned around to get a glass.
A voice soon startled her out of her reverie.
"I was wondering when you might have decided to grace me with your presence."
Standing in the doorway was none other than Blackquill. He had his arms crossed, by his feet was his satchel; it was crammed with case files and documents to be filed. Athena grimaced inwardly at the thought of having to handle more case files; she was still recovering from her court ordeal over a month ago. The young woman pushed the thought out of her mind and flashed her friend a smile.
"What brings you here, Simon?"
"Edgeworth-dono said that there would be an informal dinner here on Friday evening. I was planning on attending, if you have no objections."
"Of course not! I heard it from Mr Wright earlier. I guess he wants us to just relax a while, even if it'll only be for a night." Athena took a sip of her drink before eying him over the rim of her glass.
"Precisely my thoughts," Simon nodded in response, he picked up his satchel from the ground. "In that case, tell Wright-dono that I shall be present."
"Sure thing. Are you leaving now?"
"Yes, I have a pre-trial hearing to attend to."
"Okay then, good luck."
Blackquill smirked at her. "Wishing the prosecution luck? Perhaps you should change professions."
Athena smiled in response. "I'm wishing you luck, idiot. Not your side of the court. That doesn't matter."
"That's a legitimate enough reason, I'll accept that."
He turned around and walked to the door, opened it and shut it again; leaving the office once again to its silent state.
"…This court finds Matilda Adlitam not guilty."
Confetti rained on the prosecution and defence as the people in the gallery cheered happily. The members of the gallery exited the courtroom, leaving two lawyers behind; they were shovelling case files into their bags, like snow being shovelled off a driveway.
"Hey, Herr Forehead?" The blond prosecutor piped up from his place on the other side of the room.
"What do you want, Gavin?" Apollo rolled his eyes at the flashy prosecutor, feigning interest as he placed his papers into one of the binders on his desk.
Gavin was oblivious to this. "Herr Edgeworth told me that there's gonna be a dinner party on Friday. Is this true?"
Gavin laughed at his response. "It seems like he didn't tell you. Maybe he didn't invite you …I heard Herr Blackquill might be going."
"It's only Thursday today."
"All the more reason. Tell Herr Wright I'll be there." He waved before shouldering his bag and departing.
Apollo groaned inwardly, glaring daggers at the prosecutor's retreating figure.
"So it'll be me, Edgeworth, Apollo, Athena, Blackquill and Gavin," Phoenix checked off the names on his list. "Anyone else?"
"Can I join, Daddy?" Trucy piped up from her seat, not taking her eyes off the console screen, clearly engrossed in her video game.
"No, you've got your finals to study for." Trucy pouted in reply. "Didn't you say you were going to stay with Jinxie or something?"
"Oh yeah…" Her voice trailed off.
Trucy returned to her video game on her handheld console, she plugged in her earphones, blocking out all outside noise.
"Okay," Phoenix continued. "We'll serve them roast chicken and potatoes. Sound good?"
Apollo and Athena nodded in response. "Yeah."
"Very good, let's get to business!"
An hour after dinner had been served and Wright and Gavin had set to washing the dishes, Blackquill and Athena retreated to sit on one of the agency's leather sofas.
"That was a very nice meal, Athena. I didn't know you could cook so well." He raised his wine glass in appreciation.
"Well that's what you get when you spend a lot of time in Europe."
"Then I suppose I ought to visit Europe again."
"You should." Athena studied the floor.
He hummed in reply. "Perhaps we could arrange a trip for the two of us."
"That'd be nice. I've never really been abroad with someone other than a family member."
She exchanged eye contact with him. He swallowed. She continued.
"I don't why I had to have this horrible hearing thing; I know the headphones were meant to nullify the emotional input but still…"
Blackquill placed a hand on hers, trying to encourage her to carry on. His hand was warm and large, it held her petite one like a fragile object.
"I just wanted to be normal. I just wanted to be someone else…"
Blackquill cut her off.
"You should never say that, Athena. If you were someone else, I would never have met you, you wouldn't be working in this profession and you wouldn't have met the people who have come to care about you, to understand you, to be friends with you," He paused briefly to catch his breath.
"You're very grateful to have met us despite your childhood, despite all these horrible things, despite those harsh seven years. If you weren't the person you are now, I wouldn't be here anymore. Accept who you are, accept that you've done more than you think…Accept this."
They were so close – almost too close. Simon's eyes flickered over her rosy cheeks down to her pink lips. The urge to press his lips against hers was more now than ever. He leaned in, his heart thumped heavily. Ignoring the growing feeling in his chest, he closed his eyes and waited for her to approach him.
"I won't bite." He said softly, eyes still shut.
"I know." Athena replied.
It was quick and short, as though only a split second had passed. His lips brushed against hers before he withdrew. When Athena opened her eyes, she found the prosecutor staring at the carpet, embarrassed.
"I don't know what came over me. I didn't…"
"Don't apologise, not now. Not when we've come so far"
She leaned in, caressing his cheek and encouraged the aloof prosecutor to face her. Athena closed her eyes and pressed her lips against his in a short kiss. It was soft and brief, but meaningful. "Thank you," she whispered.
His hands undid her blue hair ribbon, allowing her bright hair to fall down her shoulders like ripples of water. He dove in for another kiss, this time longer and more passionate. He gulped in air with each pause, parting from her moments after with the tender breaking of their locked lips.
Had it been another time and place, they would have held each other tightly; blood staining their clothes, the katana lying on the floor, neglected. But this was here and now, seven years after and they weren't young anymore, stupid or pathetic. They were adults; they were man and woman not prosecutor and defence lawyer.
He held her close to him gently, letting out a smile; it was one that resulted in the twinkling of his grey eyes, new life being breathed into them. She smiled back in response before they returned to the real world again.
There were noises around them; there was the crying out of Gavin. "Hey Herr Wright, you lose fifty bucks! They kissed!"
There was the scoffing from Edgeworth and Apollo, exchanging all-knowing glances.
And with this, they were happy, they were companions again. At this point words seemed meaningless; gestures spoke far more than them. Regardless, Simon uttered two words.
Three weeks later: Sometime in February-March 2028
Gentle rain pounded on the windows of the courthouse, the afternoon drizzle had painted the sky in a grey colour, the colour that Blackquill often associated with his superior's favourite tea, Earl Grey. He crossed his arms, his eyes directed at the fiery-haired woman on the defense bench. He smirked.
"Cykes-dono," He had not dropped the honorific usage despite their relationship, his prison days and vocabulary still remained seven years strong. "I implore you to see your client's guilt. He's clearly sweating from the nape of his neck and below, his hands are gripping the stand and he can barely form a coherent sentence."
Athena dropped her gaze with him and stared at the defendant. True enough, Frederick Jameson was in a state of distress. He let out an animal-sounding yell before his hoarse voice spoke. "Alright, fine I did it! They caught me on camera, good for them! Can you please just end this already?"
The judge nodded his head. "Well, as Prosecutor Blackquill has proved to this court, the evidence holds enough to clear doubt and the defense's argument is weak." He cleared his throat and raised his gavel. "I stand to find Mr Jameson guilty of three counts of larceny. Court is adjourned."
The swift wooden pounding of the gavel sounded throughout the courtroom.
"So you won this time, huh?"
Athena leaned against the vending machine, sipping at her caffeinated drink. The prosecutor raised a quizzical eyebrow, as if silently criticising her drink preferences. "Yes. I thought that was fairly obvious."
"So I'll have to treat you out tonight?" She dropped the can into the rubbish bin, giving him a wry smile. "It's been far too long since I've had to do that."
A smug smile formed on his lips. "We did make a pact, Athena; the losing party treats the winning party to something after the conclusion of a trial, should we be on opposing sides."
"Yeah, yeah. So what'll it be? Japanese cultural things again?"
"No, I was thinking of something a little more…different." He leaned in closer to her, her lavender perfume drifted into his nostrils.
He gave her a quick peck on the lips. "Come meet me at the office later today."
She sighed. "Ever the mysterious one, aren't you?"
He nodded in reply, smirk in place, and turned around. Athena watched his receding figure as he became nothing more than a black dot at the end of the long lobby corridor.
Fat drops of rain slid down the panes; the smaller drops merged with the larger ones to form marginally bigger water droplets. Miles moved swiftly to pour hot water into a cup, colouring the liquid a dark brown. He passed the teacup of Earl Grey and a saucer to his companion who nodded in thanks.
"It's only been a few weeks since we shared coffee together, Edgeworth. Is this your way of thanking me for some unknown thing?" Phoenix said as Edgeworth poured another cup for himself.
"It has been three weeks, precisely." The prosecutor sat down opposite him on the velvet sofa. "And no, you've done nothing to deserve-"
Phoenix cut him off with a chuckle. "So it was just an excuse for a coffee date? You could've just asked."
Flustered, Edgeworth set his cup down. The blue-clad lawyer waved it off.
"How's the agency doing?" Miles asked, resuming his tea-drinking.
"Well, the demand of cases is high but it's good business. We occasionally lose a few cases but it's all good, so long as we try the correct criminal."
"I'm glad that your few visits to Europe and their judicial systems and methodology weren't wasted."
"No they weren't. But it gives me hope to see Apollo and Athena mature, they both moved on from their own personal troubles as well and are quite comfortable with the current state of affairs."
"And what is that?"
"Athena is happy with Prosecutor Blackquill, she speaks occasionally about moving in with him in a few months' time and Apollo is doing well on his own, with the occasional visit from Aura."
"That is good news."
"You know…" Phoenix set down his cup, the inky remains of tea leaves swam in the cold liquid. "Their relationship reminds me a little of you and me."
Miles raised an eyebrow. "…Blackquill and Cykes? In what way, might I enquire?"
"The whole protection thing going on. You've just helped me so much and I've only just begun to return the favour."
"Wright, what you did twelve years ago was enough; you became a lawyer and you got me out of the rut that was DL-6. That's more than I had ever bargained for and I still hate myself for my pathetic aloofness, I should've trusted you." He looked away, gripping his upper arm with his other hand.
"Well, that's in the past. I'm glad to have your trust now and well…"
"Well what?" Stormy grey eyes met with cobalt blue.
"I just wanted to say thanks for everything."
A bare hint of a smile made its way onto Miles' face. "You're welcome, Wright."
He set the teacup down. "You can call me Phoenix, you know."
"Alright then, Phoenix," He adjusted his glasses, the smile now fully projected on his pale face. "I'll still battle you in court when I have the chance."
Wright rose from his seat, smirking. "You'll still lose."
Edgeworth stood up also and straightened his coat. He walked his partner to the door and before turning the doorknob to let Phoenix out into the brightly-lit hallway of busy prosecutors, spitting photocopiers and small talk at water coolers, he whispered a few words, a smile still on his features.
"Not if I can't help it."
The spiky-haired lawyer grinned before exiting.
The graveyard was a small piece of land, a few marble tombstones stuck out in odd shapes, names of loved ones inscribed on them. Apollo stood in front of one such grave, marble like all the others, yet a small GYAXA logo was painted on and the name Clay Terran was written in blue rather than black.
"I thought I might find you here."
A feminine voice snapped him out of his reverie and he turned around to come face-to-face with Aura Blackquill. She was dressed in grey jeans, flats and a dark green Macintosh coat; the lack of high heels made her seem a few centimetres shorter than usual.
"Her grave is just a few plots away." She said in response to his tilted, questioning head. He nodded, still not uttering a word.
"Coffee?" She asked, gesturing at the exit with her head.
He brushed off some imaginary specks of dirt before starting down the lane with her in companionable silence; her light purple hair blew gently to the side in the calm breeze.
Phantom sat on the paper-thin mattress, scowling. Tomorrow, he was going to be transferred to Borginia, or so he had been told by the wolf-like Interpol Agent Lang and the snooty Prosecutor von Karma. The lawyers there would try him and find him guilty of espionage crimes and then he would go land-hopping to the rest of the world and be tried in their filthy courts and their filthy justice systems.
The thought sickened him to the stomach, the broken down remains of his watery soup and rock bread lunch churned in the hydrochloric acid of his belly. His hand absentmindedly returned to the head wound, the circular scar was still healing; his recollection of snipers was…extraordinary but this particular one had managed to hit him quite well. He wondered if his inevitable death would be with the gun or the lethal injection. Both, he mused, were equally as impure. He liked death by blades; they cut clean through the body and left little to imagination.
But despite the barrage of trials that awaited him, it meant dying later and for that, he was a little grateful. And like Simon Blackquill once would have done, he would embrace Death and welcome it with figurative open arms.
Blackquill sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. The case file on his desk provided little relaxation in the early hours of night time, only tiredness seeped into the cracks of his skull.
His door swung open to reveal Athena, she removed her yellow jacket and hung it beside his coat on the rack beside the door. She gave him a long stare before she spoke.
"You need a haircut."
"Do I?" He asked, closing the file. "Perhaps you could give me one."
A grin formed on her lips as she walked over to him. Athena leaned down to press their lips together briefly before relaxing her body on his lap, straddling him. "Maybe." She replied, her hands now around his neck.
"Or you continue kissing me here." His deep voice vibrated against his throat as he dragged the syllables out, stormy grey eyes peering at her.
Their lips collided together again, she relished in how he easily reciprocated, one hand placed at her taut waist, his other hand now tangled in her ginger hair.
"One moment," He murmured as he pushed her off him and moved to close the blinds; the flickering orange office lamp became their only source of light in the room. He quietly tiptoed to where she was standing by the desk; the rays of the pale moonlight caught her porcelain skin. He wrapped his hands around her waist from behind.
"It's been quite a while since I have received this amount of human contact; allow me to treat you tonight instead."
She hummed in response. "Since when did you decide that our pact's terms were to be changed?"
"Now." She felt his head nuzzle into her neck, his lips peppered her throat with butterfly-light kisses, eliciting a moan from her.
"Is this your way of thanking me, Simon Blackquill, for your acquittal?" She asked a few minutes after.
"Yes…" The word lingered in the air, merging with the dust particles.
He heard her voice again, a playful hint was detected. "Well I hope that you can thank me like this later on because I'm going to need a lot more of it when the going gets tough..."
He smirked. "You can count on that."
They both fell silent and Simon turned her around so that she could face him. Her azure eyes bore deep into his charcoal grey eyes, as though she was testing the waters with each touch, each ripple, each drop…Oh God, how he loved her. They didn't need words or gestures, not when he could look at those eyes; those eyes that pleaded for forgiveness and acceptance and begged for his love. He wished that he could stay in this moment, remain in this gazing stance.
And for this short moment, he could do it without breaking eye contact. His hand moved to caress her cheek. Only a few syllables, three words worth of one meaning; words he didn't have to utter very much when he could make himself known through other means stood as important now as they had been a few months back when they had first confessed.
"I love you."
Her reply came, in her voice that was as sweet as honey from her kissable lips. "I know." She murmured, her hand on his rough, pale cheek.
And that was enough for them; it was enough evidence in their quiet courtroom, free of judges and defendants and witnesses: just the two of them and their love, their pasts, their presents and their futures.
And there we have it. Congratulations if you've read this far! Feedback is much appreciated, as I might consider writing another romance soon!
If anyone's interested in following up on the Phantom storyline I sort of cobbled together here, then check out Transit umbra, lux permanet. It's a much more fleshed out story that realistically (as far as the AA universe allows!) explores Simon's state (mental health and all that jazz) in the aftermath of DD and investigates the Phantom's origins. It also brings us up to the SoJ timeline. No Athena/Simon, I'm afraid, unless you're interested in seeing the exploration of their familial bond as uncle/niece. But there's some good old Wrightworth, Faraskye, and Aura/Metis (OG Cykesquill lol).