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I Won't Say Goodbye

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“Ma’am, visiting hours are almost over.”

“Guess it’s time for me to head back.”

“Okay, I’ll be back tomorrow. Take care!”

Two weeks ago Ema never imagined she'd make so many visits to the detention center. Of course, two weeks ago Lana hadn’t been arrested for acting as an accomplice to murder. Though compared to watching Lana shut herself in for two years, seeing her smile behind a thick layer of bulletproof glass was surprisingly preferable.

Lana would walk in, escorted by the usual guard, and then take her seat, and Ema would skip past the formalities and talk about whatever her mind could think up: her classmates’ reaction to her upcoming departure, tidying up the Wright and Co. Law Offices because someone had to, how no one understands the complexities in the recent Pink Princess episode...

It was just nice to talk to her without the dreaded silence of the past two years hanging in the air. Just nice to be able to make up for all the lost time between them, in the little time they had.

So little time before the glass barrier between them becomes an ocean.

So soon the time had come for her last visit. Ema arrived earlier than usual, hoping to make sure she had as much time as possible... not that it really helped, given how inflexible the guards were with visiting hours. Instead Ema finds herself sitting in the visitor's room, fiddling with the strap on her bag until Lana arrives.

After today, their contact would be limited to written letters. Letters that could take weeks to get a response. Was that really okay? To just go off to another country while Lana remains stuck in a jail cell?

Don’t think like that, she chided herself. This is the last time you’ll see her, don't make it memorable for the wrong reasons!

Lana arrives at the usual time, the same warm smile on her face. Ema returns the gesture with her own smile.

“All prepared?”

“I know, I know, all my bags are packed, get the early train, be at the airport at least two hours before, have all relevant documents ready, and Grace will be waiting at the destination.”

...and get over the fact that I have to leave you behind.

“I’ve known Grace since I entered college.” Lana said, seemingly oblivious of the worry in her sister's mind. “If you ever need anything, you don’t have to hesitate to ask her.”

Just talk to her about it, you need to get it off your chest. No, it's too late for that.

The two dueling thoughts keeping Ema from focusing, she instead discreetly bites down on her lip and nods along as Lana recounts another tale from her college years.

She almost jumps out of her chair when Lana abruptly changes the subject.

“Are you sure you're fine?”

“I guess I am a bit anxious about the trip, but I’ll manage.”

“It’s more than that, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean, other than that I’m perfectly fine.”

“Ema, I can see you squeezing your bag strap.”

Oh, right. She used to be a detective.

“It finally hit me that this is goodbye.”

The warm smile changed to a wistful one. “I’m sorry I can’t be there with you.”

“I know,” Ema sighs. “I know why it has to be like this, and I’m glad that the truth came out. I’m glad you don’t have to cover for him anymore, it’s just... a lot to process. Anything could happen to you while I’m away, and I wouldn’t even have the chance to know what happened until it’s too late. I don’t think I’m ready to leave you behind.”

She paused, thinking over whether she really wanted to say the next part.

“Not when you’re only in here because of me.”

She tried to avoid talking about the incident since the verdict was declared. I should be over it now, she had hoped, apparently in vain.

“Ema, you know that’s not true.”

“None of this had to have happened!” Angry fists slam the table while mournful eyes shield themselves from the world. “Prosecutor Marshall already had the situation under control. He had already subdued Darke. Everything could have been fine and I just… I charged at him like a fool. I set him up to die. You ended up blackmailed into covering for me. Gant took over and it was my fault. It’s my fault Mr Marshall and Ms Starr lost their jobs.

“And Mr Edgeworth… wouldn’t have...”

An all-too-familiar silence fell upon the two. Ema buried her head in her arms, while a mournful look made its way to Lana’s face. Her eyes closed, the older sister recalls having felt the same feeling so many times. The nights when she’d come home to find Ema asleep on the couch, tired of waiting for her big sister to come home. The nights when they’d argue over some trivial matter, as if that was the only way they knew to communicate. Worst were the nights when Ema didn’t say anything, as if she accepted life with a sister who hated her.

Lana carefully chooses her next words before placing a hand on the barrier between them.

“You saw someone about to stab another man, and you acted on that instinct. It’s unfortunate that it turned out how it did, but you did what you thought was right. What happened was the culmination of the mistakes of several people, myself included. You don’t have to carry that burden alone.”

The younger sister hardly budged.

“Over the past two years, there were so many things I wished I'd done differently. Maybe I could have found you and Neil earlier. Maybe a second investigation would have revealed Gant's doing. We can't undo what we've done, but even then, we-”

“-even then, we keep moving forward.”

Lana freezes in place, watching Ema's head slowly rising.

“I remember what you told me, so long ago. ‘I miss them too. I can’t promise that things will be the same. But I'm still here. And as long as I'm around, I'll stay strong for your sake.’"

Lana recognizes the words even before Ema finishes speaking. Those were the same words she had told her after their parents’ accident, the same words when she swore to keep her safe.

“And now it's my turn.”

A deep breath, Ema’s eyes open as she meets Lana’s hand with her own.

Another silence washes over the two, yet the dread is absent this time. In its place, something comforting, almost pleasant. Understanding, the two sisters decide, in time for the guard to arrive.

“Ma’am, visiting hours are almost over.”

“Well, this is goodb-"

“This isn’t goodbye,” she interrupted. “I'll be back. It may be a long time, but we'll see each other again. We’re family, and nothing will change that.”

Lana just smiled, pride welling up in her chest. “You’ll be fine. Say hi to Grace for me?”

“I will. And I’ll be sure to keep you updated whenever I can. Take care!”