Note: Phoenix Wright / Gyakuten Saiban, its settings, plot points, and characters, are all the property of Capcom, and are being used here without permission. This first chapter takes place after the murder of GS1 Case 1; Spoilers for that case and a small bit of GS3 Case 1.

The Golden Gavel

Episode I: The First Round

Part 1/3: Payne and Suffering

August 1st, 2016, 4:50 PM

As he ran a hand through his lengthy red hair, Jack Keeper let out a heavy sigh and gazed at his completely empty bar. The Golden Gavel's lack of customers was hardly surprising; it was not yet five-o-clock and many of his regular customers were still hard at work. This little problem was compounded by the chronic lack of publicity the Gavel received; after all, the taxpayers would be furious if they realized some of their money was being used to fund a tavern hidden in the basement of the district Prosecutor's office!

In the last two hours alone, Jack had managed to keep himself busy by washing all the mugs and glasses, wiping down the counter and the tops of the barstools, and polishing the Gavel's seldom used tables until they had that hallowed mirror-like gleam. He'd even messed around with the old pinball machine a while, though he didn't even come close to beating the high score.

In short, Jack was both lonely and bored. There are certain things, however, that a lonely man can do to relieve his boredom while he's sure no one else is watching...

"First, I put a black five on the red six, and then I put a black four on a red five..." he muttered to himself. "And then I can flip this card up and find a red king, which I can put in the empty place the red four used to be in."

Jack continued to mutter to himself as he flipped cards from a pile before him, hoping to get lucky enough to actually win an old-fashioned game of solitaire before his deck ran out.

"And then I can put this red two on that black three and... damn, I'm all out of cards!" he exclaimed bitterly. "Lousy game just made me waste..." he looked at the clock in the corner of the TV, which was set to the news channel. "Eight minutes! I ought to just..."

However, Jack never verbalized just what he should do, as a loud fanfare blared from the television and the words "Breaking News" shot across the screen.

"Hmmm, I wonder what happened this time," Jack proclaimed to the empty room. He leaned against the bar as the screen changed to a view of a well-dressed woman behind a desk.

"Good evening viewers, I'm Lily Jumper. I interrupt this broadcast of 'Money Money Business Hour' to bring you word of a violent murder occurring at the Happy Heights Apartment Complex in the Downtown section of the city," she explained, her throaty voice dripping with false sentiment. "The victim is apparently a young woman who was living alone in one of the many budget apartments that make the Happy Heights complex so well-known to city residents. This sad event ends a three day period in which no new murders had been committed in the City. Unfortunately, it appears that such good times were not meant to last. As of yet, DNN has not been supplied with either the victim's name or any possible suspects in the case. We will release more information as it becomes available." The newswoman paused and gave a dramatic breath. "I repeat: One woman has been found murdered in her apartment located in the downtown section of the city. We now return you to 'Money Money Business Hour' already in progress."

"Humph," sneered Jack, glaring at the TV screen. "She didn't really give any specific information."

Jack returned to shuffling his cards and was about to deal out a new game when a chime rang through the room, indicating that the bar's main door had been opened. He looked up to see a short, balding man nervously glancing about the room, his eyes partially hidden behind a pair of thick glasses. Upon seeing Jack he nodded and crossed the room, taking a seat in one of the several stools on the outside of the bar counter.

"Good evening, Jack," he said in a thin, squeaky voice.

"Good evening, Mr. Payne," replied Jack, his voice brightening slightly. "How're things going for you?" While Winston Payne was neither a very respected nor a very talented prosecuting attorney, he was one of Jack's regular customers, and a good bartender tries his best to be friendly to his regulars.

"I lost another trial today," said Payne. "I almost had this one wrapped up too, but my key witness slipped up on one little detail during his testimony and the whole case fell apart after that. I tried to justify the contradiction, but the defense built up a head of steam and the judge just made his decision right then and there."

"Tough luck, Mr. Payne." Jack always called Winston by his last name; he figured it would help the man's poor ego a bit. "Do you want your usual, then?"

"Yes please."

"Can do." Jack said, smiling. He hummed to himself as he walked over to his big shelf of cocktail ingredients. "A bit of grenadine, a bottle of maraschino cherries..." He sat the bottles on the counter and opened the door of a large refrigerator embedded in the wall. "A bottle of lemon-lime soda..." He twisted the cap of the soda bottle, chuckling at the fizzy sound it made. He grabbed a cocktail glass and mixed the soda and grenadine together, absentmindedly watching as the pale yellow-green and deep red liquids swirled together. He mixed them with a swizzle stick and dropped a pair of cherries into the concoction while the liquids were still swirling about. Jack lifted the glass to eye level, checking for impurities, and when he found none he smiled and sat it down in front of Payne with a flourish.

"Here you are, Mr. Payne. One Shirley Temple served cold, with an extra cherry instead of a slice of orange, and mixed the old-fashioned way without a shaker. Is it to your satisfaction?" he asked, leaning back slightly.

Payne took a tentative sip before downing nearly half the glass in one gulp. "Yes it is. Thank you."

"You're welcome," said Jack. He turned and put back the cherries and grenadine while leaving the lemon-line soda on the counter. He poured himself a mug of it and grabbed his chair from the end of the bar area. With a bit of effort, he sat it across from Payne and took a seat.

"I just heard on the TV that the city's got another murder case on its hands." said Jack.

"Doesn't surprise me," said Payne. He took another sip, his eyebrows crinkling slightly from the sweet flavor of his drink. "Of course, it doesn't really matter much to me anyway. The chief prosecutor hasn't let me do a murder trial in nearly a month."

"Really?" Jack arched an eyebrow in surprise. "Well, Lana's always been good at giving people lots of chances. Maybe tomorrow will be your lucky day." Jack smiled to show he was serious.

"If it is, it'll be the first I've had in a long time..." Payne trailed off and sipped his Shirley Temple once more. "I haven't really had a lot of good luck since... you know."

"Yeah, I remember." Indeed, Payne had once told Jack the story of how he took on rookie defense attorney Mia Fey and lost... horribly. It made sense to Jack; he'd heard other attorneys talk about Payne's days as the 'Rookie Killer', well before Jack had become a bartender. The only part of Payne's story Jack didn't understand was the part about Payne "losing his hair" at the end of the case. Jack had read about stress related hair-loss before, but going nearly bald in a matter of seconds seemed to be taking that concept a wee bit too far in his opinion.

Payne raised a hand and patted what was left of his dull gray locks thoughtfully. "I just wish there was something I could do about this. What I've got left is just... there. I can't really impress anyone with it."

Jack gave a nod. "I'll admit it's not much to work with..." He leaned back and thought about Payne's predicament for a moment. "Maybe you should just shave it all off. It'll make people think you have a full head of hair and that you just shave it to look... uh, hip."

"I don't think so. I mean, that'll probably just make me look like an old man. I'm not ready to be old yet."

At fifty-two years of age, Payne already was an old man in Jack's eyes, but Jack knew better than to say that out loud. "Well, I'm sure that there're other things you can do. You could get a wig, for example."

"No, no wig. Everybody would know its fake, and if I get another run of bad luck it might fall off by accident. Heck, I'd probably throw it at someone if they made me mad enough." He laughed squeakily before gazing at his empty cocktail glass. "Could you get me another drink, please?"

"Sure thing, Mr. Payne. You want another Shirley?"

"Nah, get a mug of... diet cola. I need something a little less sweet."

Jack smiled and nodded before heading to the fridge to grab a bottle of said diet cola. "You know, if you don't want a wig, I'm sure there's some other stuff you could do to look nicer." He grabbed a beer mug out from under the bar and poured the soda in. "Maybe you can try brushing it forward instead of back. Your hair wouldn't be as nice-looking as it used to be, but at least you could get some coverage up top."

"Maybe..." muttered Payne as Jack sat the mug of soda before him. "I might try that one of these days."

Jack thought some more before sitting upright in a burst of realization. "Or... maybe you can grow it out; have it hang down to your shoulders or something. It'd make you look like one of those big-shot rock stars!"

Payne merely let out another squeaky laugh. "Mr. Keeper, it'll be a cold day in hell before I let myself wear my hair like that." he smiled and took another swig of soda.

"If you say so, Mr. Payne."

The two men lapsed into silence for a moment before another loud fanfare sounded from the TV at the other end of the bar.

"More breaking news? This better be good..." muttered Jack.

"DNN has just received more information regarding the horrible murder in the Downtown section of the city," announced the newswoman, her skin shining eerily beneath a layer of thick makeup. "The victim has been identified as Cindy Stone, aged 22. Ms. Stone, a model, had just arrived at her apartment after participating in a photo shoot abroad. As of this moment, the motive behind this ghastly event is anyone's guess. Police reports have been slower than normal due to a power outage in the downtown section of the city."

"Power outage? Those don't happen often in this day and age," said Jack.

A dark-haired man suddenly walked onto the TV newsroom and handed the newswoman a piece of paper. The woman shot him a glare and he scurried away, embarrassed. The newswoman glared at the paper and her face suddenly broke into a creepy grin.

"We here at DNN have just received more breaking news in the Cindy Stone murder case... it appears that District Police have arrested a suspect and charged him with the murder! The murderer is identified as Larry Butz, age 24." A picture of a nervous looking orange-haired man with big eyes appeared in the corner of the TV screen. "Mr. Butz was the only person seen at the crime scene and thus appears to almost definitely be the culprit! We here at DNN offer the legal system our support in seeing this horrible criminal brought to justice. This is Lily Jumper of DNN reporting." The news fanfare sounded again and the TV returned to its previous show.

Jack stared at the TV for a moment longer before swearing loudly. "Damn fool! She's already calling that... butt man a killer and she hasn't even got a bit of evidence to back herself up! I swear, it seems like there's not one newsperson on TV that cares about anything but sensational hogwash!"

"All suspects are guilty until declared innocent, Jack," Payne said knowledgeably.

"I know; I know..." Having tended bar at the Gavel for three years, Jack was well acquainted with the maxim of the Modern State Legal System. "But, some days, it still seems kind of... dumb to me."

"I'm not the person that wrote all the rules, Jack."

"Yeah, but you're the only guy here for me to complain to. Maybe you could bring some more people in here next time; I could use some real business one of these days."

"Bah... I'm a prosecutor, not your recruitment slave," whined Payne.

"Whatever. You want another drink?"

"No thank you, Jack. I should be getting home... maybe there'll be a message on my answering machine or something."

"Who knows? Everybody gets a lucky break sometime, that's for sure."

"I might be able to prove you wrong..." said Payne with a wry smile. "I believe this will be enough to cover the drinks," he added, handing Jack a few small bills. "You make keep the change, of course."

Jack scurried to place the bills in the old-fashioned cash register at the back of the bar. "Thank you, Mr. Payne. You're a good customer."

"It pays to have someone who listens," said Payne wistfully. He eased himself to the ground and walked out of the room, sounding the door chime once more in his retreat.

Jack picked up the empty mug and cocktail glass that Payne had left behind and sat them in the little sink behind the bar before returning to his seat.

"Alone again..." he said sadly. "Oh well, back to work..."

He dealt out his pack of cards.

"First, I put the black ten on the red jack, and then I put the red eight on the black nine..."

A/N: Those of you that are active on the Court Records forums may recognize this fic; I've been steadily posting it on their fanfiction forum for just over a year. The reason I am posting it here gradually and not all at once is because I wish to both revise the text of the fic (hopefully with the help of at least one beta) and to rearrange its structure. The first is fairly straightforward; the latter will be accomplished by altering some plot points from the Court Records version and, on occasion, adding in plot points that I had considered but not used before. With support, a little luck, and a lot of time, I hope to succeed in this endeavor.

Also, I am aware that the first chapter of this fic is somewhat detached with the mainstream PW world; I assure you, this quality will lessen as more and more story events intersect with fanfic events later on.

Reviews would be nice, but I will not guilt you into leaving them.