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thanks, mom

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The day of Sebastian's first trial since he went back to Themis Academy and re-earned his badge was quite an eventful one.

The case was a simple one, thankfully. He had pored over the file for hours, forming hypotheses and arguments, and he felt like he had a good grasp on it now. He was going to win this case. That'd prove he really could learn on his own. He'd show them.

Raymond Shields finished his cross-examination of Detective Flatfoot (that was his name, right? He couldn't quite remember.) and it took him a second to realize he was supposed to call in his first witness. Justine tapped her gavel against one hand in anticipation.

"O-Oh! Yeah!" He shuffled the papers on his desk. "The prosecution calls… Owen Baker to the stand!"

He grinned as the defendant, a chef at the local bakery, walked up to the stand. Here they are. The person who committed the murder. I just have to prove they're guilty.

Easy.

...Hey, wait, this moment of silence was getting long.

"...Prosecutor Debeste?" That was Justine. She was waiting on something.

Oh.

"Oh!" He coughed into his gloved hand, hiding his embarrassment. "Uh, n-name and occupation, please!"

They said just that, and gave their testimony. Raymond was listening carefully, putting his full focus into memorizing their words. He'd be a tough opponent.

"...I was nowhere near the ovens on the day of the crime, ya hear? I couldn' be the murderer."

"Objection." Sebastian perked up. Raymond was talking. "The security footage caught you walking in. You were at the scene of the crime two days ago."

A contradiction! This was his chance!

"Hold it!" Sebastian yelled - maybe a bit too loud, seeing as how everybody flinched. "The security cameras were only set up at the entrance of the bakery! Baker could've easily walked in without going anywhere near the ovens. They’re in an entirely different part of the building, after all!"

There was a small moment of silence, and Sebastian started to feel nervous. Had that been wrong…?

"Hmm." He glanced up at Justine. "The prosecution makes a good point. Objection overruled."

"R-Really?" He grinned. Even Justine thought he was doing a good job! The surge of happiness from the praise made him speak without even thinking.

"Thanks, Mom!"

...Silence.

...A very, very, very long moment of silence.

Sebastian realized that he had just… called Justine his mom… in front of a live gallery. In a courtroom.

"U-Um?" His voice was very small as he felt his face completely flush red with embarrassment. "I-I mean. Um. I meant. Well. Uh."

Justine was staring. Hm. Maybe he could rent a car and drive away from the state, never coming back? No, he couldn't drive. Maybe Kay could come with him? They could both change their names. That sounded like a good idea right now. He buried his face in his hands.

"Well," Raymond was the first to speak. "You think we can strike that from the record, Your Honor?"

"...I believe that would not be an issue." He couldn't look at her. He kept his gaze anywhere but at Justine for a very long time.

 

~÷~÷~÷~÷~÷~

 

It took several minutes of testimony before he was finally able to fully focus on the trial again. Somehow, he was able to prolong it long enough to get a second day, giving him time to actually recover from calling the judge his mother in the middle of a trial, and he walked out into the lobby.

Kay was the first to greet him, and he instantly started talking.

"Hey, Kay? Think we can leave the state? Change our names? Pretty please?"

She completely ignored the question. "So! Mom, huh?"

"Sh-Shut up!" He felt his face go red again as he crossed his arms and glanced away.

"You really see her like that? Don't blame you, actually. She has that energy."

"Wh-" How was he supposed to respond to that? Maybe he shouldn't have started speaking without thinking again, but he did anyway, pointing at her. "W-Well, of course I see her like that! She- after everything she's done for me, who wouldn't?!"

Oh, he really did just put his foot in his mouth, huh. Now he would have to leave the state alone. Great.

Instead of responding, Kay simply raised her gaze to something behind him. "Oh, hi, Your Honor."

Uh oh.

"She's…” He pointed a thumb over his own shoulder. “...right behind me, isn't she?"

"Yup!"

Ah.

"Sebastian?" He turned around and, yeah, that was her. He was dead. He would be dying today and it was Kay's fault, he decided. "Could I see you in the judge's chambers?" And the judge's chambers would be the scene of his death.

"O-Okay, Justi - I mean, Your Honor! Of course!" He let out a small laugh, high-pitched with nervousness.

As he was led away, he shot what he hoped to be a death glare at Kay. She just grinned at him in return.

 

~÷~÷~÷~÷~÷~

 

Other than their footsteps, the walk was completely silent and extremely nerve-wracking. Well, he'd considered her to be some sort of motherly figure for a while now so he guessed it had to come out eventually but it was way too over-familiar, wasn’t it? And especially in the middle of a trial. God, why'd it have to be in the middle of a trial? She’d probably be mad. Oh, she’d be really mad and then she’d never want to talk to him again and it’d be his fault. Was she going to yell at him? She never seemed like the type to raise her voice, but she was a judge so it wasn’t out of the question. What if she-

“Sebastian?”

Oh. He hadn’t even heard the door shut behind him. Why was he trembling?

“I-I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean-!"

“Sebastian." He stopped. "...Please calm down. I am not mad.”

"...Huh?" He blinked.

She retracted her gavel, placing it on the desk behind her, and continued speaking. "Even if I did not agree with that sentiment, there would be no reason for me to be mad at you. Do you understand?"

Even if she didn't? "...Um, does that mean…?"

She turned back towards Sebastian, who had stopped trembling by now, and smiled. "If you do think of me like… a mother, like you said, then… I do not think I'd mind. In fact, it would be an honor, Sebastian."

He stared in shock. He had been expecting a lot of things from this, none of them good, but this… she was being so nice to him.

"...R-Really?"

She nodded, walking over to him, and she gently cupped one cheek in her hand to wipe a tear off his face, and, oh, when had he started crying? With a long, shaky breath, he leaned into the touch. It felt… really, really good.

After a moment, Justine pulled him into a proper hug. It had been far too long, since his actual mom left; he'd almost forgotten how it felt, to be so gently cared for like this.

He learned that Justine was really good at hugs.

"Also," she started, voice a bit quieter now, "good job today, in court. I'm very proud of you for coming this far."

He let out a small, shaky laugh, hugging her tighter. "Thanks, Mom."

She laughed too; a quiet, gentle thing. "...Anytime, son."

 

Sprite edit of Justine hugging Sebastian.