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Of Fake Fairytales and Faux Amour
- Chapter 15 -
A Likely Story
Tapping his finger against his arm, Miles glanced up at the courtroom clock for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"Your Honour, it's been thirty minutes," he said, before gesturing at the empty desk opposite. "It would seem to suggest that the new defence attorney has little to defend if they cannot get here on time."
"I do find the tardiness quite rude, Mr. Edgeworth," the Judge agreed. "However, court cannot proceed without the defence. Since Mr. Skipp Bailey dropped the case, we have no choice but to wait for his last minute replacement."
I wish the bar exam would filter out these time wasters.
Lacking something meaningful to do, he set about rereading the transcript from Friday.
'The defendant, Ms. Naila Gasket, was arrested for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Blake Male. The murder occurred late on Monday, May 28th, at Lucky 13 Casino. Staff found Mr. Male lying in a puddle of his own blood by the slot machines with a necklace clasped in his hand. The next day, the autopsy revealed that he was stabbed from behind with a small knife, in the armpit and then the neck, cutting through the jugular. The estimated time of death was between 11 P.M. and midnight. The police discovered a Swiss Army knife in a garbage can near the staff room, which bore no fingerprints but was covered in the victim's blood.
The prosecution's investigation on Wednesday narrowed the time window for the murder to between 11:40 P.M. and midnight, due to a card being hidden in the slot machine before that time.
On Wednesday night, there was a report of a break-in at Ms. Heidi Dinduet's apartment. Ms. Dinduet was the victim's new girlfriend. The police found Ms. Gasket at the scene and arrested her on the spot. Investigators then discovered that the knife was hers due to her initials matching the ones engraved on it. She also did not have a secure alibi for the time of the crime.
On Friday morning, Ms. Dinduet was called to the stand to testify about Ms. Gasket breaking into her apartment to attack her. The defence then pointed out that the defendant could not have known that Ms. Dinduet was home that night due to a status she posted on a social networking site stating that she was out with friends. It was only a coincidence that she had arrived home earlier than anticipated.
The witness then remembered that she had overheard the victim talking on the phone about a casino on the day of the murder. Redial proved it had been Ms. Gasket's number. With that evidence, the prosecution claimed that the defendant must have met up with the victim that night.'
If only I'd left it at that.
He had gone ahead and presented the necklace that had been found clutched in the victim's hand, thinking he was putting the final nail in the coffin. In hindsight, he should have known that it didn't belong to the defendant – that would have been too easy. Instead, the victim's girlfriend had piped up, telling the court that it was actually her necklace.
A casino security guard sitting in the gallery had then taken the chance to jump in, claiming that the defendant had been with him in the staff room on the night of the murder. With that new alibi, the defence attorney had accused Ms. Dinduet of the murder, forcing the Judge to call for further investigation.
"Ah, Everett, you are late," the Judge called out.
Miles' head snapped up from his documents, only to meet eyes with a different Everett from the one he had imagined.
Robert, Kath's uncle, strode up to the defence bench. "I apologise, Your Honour," he replied, before opening his briefcase.
Surely he can't… Please don't tell me he's the defence.
"I hope you have your affairs in order, Mr. Everett. Defending your client is an important job, no matter how late you are given the case," the Judge warned, squashing Miles' last bit of hope.
"Don't worry, Your Honour, I am fully prepared," Robert said, taking some documents out of his briefcase. "It's just that I accidentally bumped into this little old lady on the way here and made her drop her bag. After apologising and helping her pick it up, I saw a suspicious white package inside. Before I could say anything, a police dog came out of nowhere and jumped on the old lady, spilling the entire contents of the package, which just so happened to be a kilo of cocaine. Turns out the FBI had been following her as a known drug trafficker and I'd just helped them secure her with the evidence they needed! What are the chances!?"
Miles heard murmurings from the gallery about how cool that must have been.
I'll let him have his moment before I crush his defence to pieces.
"That's great to hear, Mr. Everett!" the Judge exclaimed, before clearing his throat. "Of course, I'm talking about aiding our friends in the FBI, not about your lateness or knocking over an elderly lady." He banged his gavel. "Court is now in session for the trial of Ms. Naila Gasket."
"The prosecution is ready, Your Honour."
"The defence is ready, Your Honour."
The Judge nodded. "Now that we have a full court, you may give your opening statement, Mr. Edgeworth."
"Thank you, Your Honour." Miles picked up the transcript. "It was previously demonstrated that Ms. Gasket's knife was the murder weapon in this case and that the defendant had arranged a meeting with the victim shortly before the murder. However, all this evidence has been overshadowed by the fact that the victim was clutching Ms. Dinduet's necklace, which was presumably ripped off at the time of the murder. The court was then interrupted by someone giving Ms. Gasket an alibi. After further investigation, the prosecution states that there is more evidence to show that Ms. Gasket is the true murderer. To start proceedings," Miles leaned forward onto his desk, "I would like to present a photo of Ms. Dinduet, time-stamped shortly after the time of the murder." He handed the picture to the bailiff, who brought it to the Judge.
"Very well, Mr. Edgeworth. The photo is accepted into evidence." The Judge stared at the picture for a moment, before scrunching his eyes. "Ah, yes, I see… Hmm, indeed."
"As Your Honour can clearly see, Ms. Dinduet is wearing the necklace that is supposedly in the victim's hand."
"Of course, yes, I saw that, definitely," the Judge agreed, nodding. His eyes then flew wide open in surprise. "But, how can this be!?"
"There is only one explanation." Miles slammed a hand down on his desk. "Ms. Dinduet did not get her necklace ripped off by Mr. Male. It was planted on the victim by the true murderer!"
That sent the audience into an uproar.
Miles eyed Robert, who seemed to have been listening to every word. His dark hair was a mess and his gold ascot tie wasn't quite tucked into his shirt properly, but Miles still felt somewhat unnerved by his presence. There was no room for personal problems in the courtroom, but it was exceedingly difficult to stop the link between Robert and that party – and therefore that kiss – from forming in his mind.
"Order! I will have order!"
Miles crossed his arms, letting his finger tap against his bicep in a slow reassuring motion as he waited for the Judge to calm the audience down.
There might be a link with Robert, but I'm professional enough to break it. At least it isn't Wright defending.
He closed his eyes briefly.
Thank God it isn't Wright…
"Mr. Everett," the Judge spoke up, "what does the defence have to say about the prosecution's claim?"
Robert stood up straight, pulling his shirt sleeves down. "Interesting theory, but highly implausible. How could Ms. Gasket have had time to steal the necklace and plant it before the body was discovered?" He grinned and grabbed the front of his desk. "Not to mention she has not been placed at the scene and has a solid alibi. Obviously, my client continues to plead not guilty to all charges."
The Judge nodded. "I see. How would the prosecution like to continue, Mr. Edgeworth?"
Miles smirked. "As a matter of fact, I have a reliable witness who can place Ms. Gasket at the scene of the crime and can hopefully lead us to the truth of the matter."
Well, 'reliable' is one word for him…
"I would like to call Mr. Homer Esman to the stand."
"Very well," the Judge replied. "Let the witness, Mr. Esman, take the stand."
Homer Esman was brought in and immediately made an impression on the courtroom. His hair was bright white, long and tied up using a cheap wooden chopstick. He was wearing what seemed to be a white 'I heart L.A.' t-shirt, but most of the writing remained hidden underneath an olive-green corduroy waistcoat. This was complimented by the tatty, designer leather jacket he wore on top, making it a rather peculiar outfit. Strapped across his back was a small canister that held a couple of logs and a few twigs.
"Witness, your name and occupation, please," Miles asked.
"You'll have to speak up, bro. My hearing isn't as clear as my pearly white locks!" Homer snickered, apparently at himself.
Miles cleared his throat. "Witness, could you please state your name and occupation for the court?"
"Yes, I'd love some slate so I can occupy my thoughts," Homer replied, before snickering again.
He could at least make sense when pretending to mishear me.
"Being called into court is not a joke, witness," Miles scolded. "State your name and occupation."
"Bit of a killjoy, aren't you, bro?" Homer grinned. "I'm Homer Esman and my profession is travelling shadow puppeteer."
The Judge blinked. "I've never heard of such an occupation, witness. You aren't making things up, are you?"
"I guess you could say that, yeah! I made up my own profession after I lost my home." He made a silhouette of a bird with his hands and made it fly off with a small whistle.
"Mr. Esman currently resides in, as he describes, 'Bin Number 6, Casino Back Door'," Miles explained, reading from the document with the witness' details.
"Finest accommodation I've had in a while; got a mosaic of fake casino chips on the wall. Damned fancy, that."
I'll be sure to let Wright know that his tiled soup can painting has been outdone. Perhaps he'll agree to replace it.
…Christ! What's wrong with me!? Am I seriously daydreaming about furnishings for that idiot!?
Miles rubbed his temple.
I am so far gone.
Miles snapped his attention back to the Judge. "Err… From his, let's say, 'apartment', Mr. Esman witnessed something critical to the case, Your Honour."
"Oho! Yes, bro, that I did!" Homer made a walking movement with his index and middle fingers. "Saw the murderer escape with my very own eyes!"
"That is very important, indeed!" the Judge agreed. "Please begin your testimony, witness."
"Sure. It all began on a dark and stormy night with the wind howling in the trees…"
"Objection!" Robert shouted, pointing at Homer. "Your Honour, I've read the weather report for that night and it was neither windy nor stormy, and there are definitely no trees behind the casino."
"Objection!" Miles retaliated. "The witness was merely setting a dramatic scene to display the facts in, Your Honour."
Still, I wish he wouldn't ad lib, for the sake of my health.
The Judge looked surprised. "Why, we haven't even heard the rest of his testimony, Mr. Everett!"
Robert smirked and put a hand on his hip. "What's the point of hearing the testimony if the witness has already proven himself a liar with the first couple of words?"
"Who're you calling a liar, bro!?" Homer exclaimed. "I'm a storyteller; I have to make it interesting or I've failed in my one true calling!"
"Witness, I cannot tolerate any deviation from the truth, no matter how mundane it may seem compared to your fantastical stories," the Judge scolded. "Objection sustained. You must tell the truth, and nothing else!"
Homer huffed and crossed his arms. "Fine. I'll keep it short and sweet. I shall call it 'The Tale of the Night Guard'!" He cleared his throat. "The story… err… testimony begins on a dark and blustery night where I was making a fire in Old Bessy so I could start my next show for my crowd of fans."
I see that the 'no deviation from the truth' lasted for about two seconds…
"It got to 11:55 and I was making the last of my setups, as my shows start promptly on the hour. Suddenly, I felt a suspicious chill within me, despite the fire. I saw the back door of the casino fly open and out rushed a woman in such a hurry that she almost stumbled over several times down the alley. She had this evil aura surrounding her, blood red and flashing…" Homer flicked open a Zippo lighter and held it under his chin, taking the moment to do a dramatic pause. "Flashing like a light that really needs changing."
If there was a simile of the year award, that would definitely get my vote.
"That certainly is… vague," the Judge said, sounding a little bewildered. "Wait, how did the witness smuggle a lighter into the courtroom!? Bailiff! Remove that item immediately!"
The lighter was taken with a small protest from Homer.
Miles inwardly cringed. Why was it always his witnesses who caused trouble?
"So, witness," the Judge continued, "who is this 'Bessy' character you mentioned? Why has she not come forward to give testimony?"
"Ah, but she has, bro." Homer tapped the can strapped to his back with a grin. "Old Bessy is where I brew the fire for my shows. Need light to make a shadow show, you see."
"Oh! Yes, naturally," the Judge said with a nod, before turning to Robert. "Please begin your cross-examination, Mr. Everett."
"Certainly," Robert replied. "Actually, that whole story reminded me of this one time at football camp near San Diego. We got pretty wasted on the coach's rum stash and somehow ended up in a back alley in Montreal." He winced and adjusted his ascot. "That rum definitely had a bad aura."
"Cool story, bro," Homer commented. "We could totally do a collab on that gem. Get in touch if you want to share the details!"
Miles slammed a hand down on his desk before Robert could reply. "Objection! We are not here to tell fairytales, Mr. Everett."
"Ah… Of course not, Mr. Edgeworth." Robert cleared his throat. "So, Mr. Esman, you say you saw a woman running out the back door of the casino." He grabbed the front of his desk. "However, you fail to say what she looked like."
Homer pointed at the defendant. "That woman over there, of course."
Robert fell backwards into the wall in surprise and the courtroom burst into a loud chatter, requiring the Judge to step in with his gavel. "Order! Order! Mr. Esman, this was probably the most crucial part of your testimony! Please add it in immediately!"
"Oh, uh, yeah, sure." Homer twisted the chopstick in his hair. "The woman I saw looked like the defendant and was shrouded in an evil aura."
Great, he sounds as confident as a cat in water.
"Hold it!" Robert shouted. "When you say 'evil red aura', what do you mean, exactly?"
"I can read auras, bro, and hers was intense. The front of her clothes was coated in it."
"Just the front?"
Homer nodded. "Yep, I thought that was weird, too. I guess hers was too thin to spread all the way around her body."
Miles raised an eyebrow. "Witness, this 'aura'… Are you absolutely sure it wasn't a bloodstain?"
Homer twisted his chopstick, apparently in thought. "Huh. Now that you mention it, yes, I guess it did look a lot like blood on her white casino uniform."
I think what's more confusing is how he got blood mixed up with spiritual energy…
Miles smirked and held his arms out wide as murmurings grew in the audience. "Well, I think that clears things up nicely, Mr. Evere-"
"Objection!" Robert slammed both hands down on his desk and grinned back at him. "Mr. Esman, could you please repeat your last statement?"
Homer frowned. "Uh… It looked like there was blood on her casino uniform?"
Robert's grin grew wider and he leaned further forward. "I think you'll find a glaring contradiction here, Your Honour. My client doesn't work at the casino; she's the CEO of HDCriminals. Why would she be wearing a casino uniform?"
"Objection!" Miles slammed a hand down on his desk. "Anyone could acquire a uniform from the staff room."
"Then the woman the witness saw could have been anyone!" Robert retaliated. "How did he even recognise Ms. Gasket at such a dark hour?"
"Good question, bro," Homer said, snickering. "I guess I just assumed it was her because she had the same hair colour and build."
Miles flinched. "W-what!?"
"Are you saying that you didn't see her face?" the Judge asked.
"Nah, I didn't see that."
Homer twisted his chopstick thoughtfully. "I did see something that made me question her presence, though…"
The Judge's eyes widened. "Please share with the court before we all lose track of where this maze of a testimony is leading."
Homer nodded. "There was another female security guard with the same hair and build who came out of that very door only fifteen minutes earlier! I know, bro, that the shift changeover is every six hours. The only conclusion I can reach is that the second lady was actually an evil shadow spirit that had experienced a bit of lag."
"Objection!" Miles pointed at Homer. "The witness is talking nonsense, Your Honour. We have already established that the second woman was the defendant."
"Objection!" Robert cut in, fiddling with his tie. "Don't be so hasty, Miles. What we have actually established is that there were two women who looked like my client. Even if Ms. Gasket was one of them, who's to say which was which?"
Miles smirked and tapped his temple. "I was hoping you'd bring that up, Mr. Everett." He picked up the security guard records from his desk. "It says here that the first guard had to leave early due to an unexpected illness and that she was replaced by an unnamed agency worker who was on duty until the murder." Miles then picked up the disc containing the security footage. "Your Honour, I have here the footage from the casino's security camera, if we could please take a look at it?"
The Judge nodded. "Absolutely, Mr. Edgeworth."
Miles handed the disc to the bailiff, who immediately popped it into the court's DVD player.
"Watch the security guard here," Miles said as the footage started playing. "She's going to leave the room in a moment. Pay close attention to her when she comes back." After a few seconds, the guard was seen exiting the room, before reentering about a minute later. "Notice that the guard is wearing gloves and that a document can be seen in her pocket. She had neither of those a minute ago."
The Judge's eyes widened in surprise. "Why, Mr. Edgeworth, you are quite right!"
"If you look closely," Miles continued, "you can see the name of the defendant's company, HDCriminals, written on the file. And if you fast-forward a bit…" He grabbed the remote from his desk and skipped to the part he was looking for. "There. The guard clearly leaves the screen towards the slot machines a few minutes before Mr. Esman saw her leave the building with bloody clothes." He hit his desk. "This security guard is obviously the murderer. And since she has a document with the HDCriminals logo on it, the obvious conclusion is that this guard is none other than the defendant, Ms. Naila Gasket!"
"Gah!" Robert fell backwards into the wall. "You remind me of this magician I met when I went to a bachelor party in Las Vegas. You really don't want to know where she was hiding the key to the handcuffs…"
"Bro, I think that party trick would definitely increase my show's popularity," Homer commented with a snicker.
The Judge banged his gavel. "I feel as though this conversation might be falling into a bit of a hole…" He cleared his throat, cheeks blushing. "Mr. Everett, do you have any objections to the prosecution's claim?"
Robert pondered for a moment. "Actually, Your Honour, I do. There is still no solid evidence that this woman was my client. Any security guard could have had a document with the HDCriminals logo on it, seeing as the company supplies cameras for the casino."
…It's true. I need something more conclusive than an unnamed security guard.
Miles looked over at Homer, who was pointing at Robert, obviously trying to imitate him.
"As long as the sun is shining in the sky-blue heavens, I shall see that truth will be avenged!" Homer proceeded to flick open another smuggled lighter, before placing it under his chin. "Like how WD-40 avenges the lost oil on a squeaky door."
He's outdone himself with that one…
"Bailiff, please remove that lighter and thoroughly frisk the witness!" the Judge interjected, looking alarmed.
After another dozen lighters were seized from his pockets, Homer was allowed to continue.
"Your Honour, ladies and gentlemen of the court," he turned to face Miles, "and stick-in-the-muds."
I don't think I deserved that.
"I believe that I have the evidence you are all looking for!"
"Y-you do?" Robert said, sounding a bit worried.
In a dramatic fashion, Homer spun Old Bessy from around his back and started rummaging through it, pulling out random bits of half-burnt materials in his haste. One of them looked suspiciously like the remains of a wad of hundred-dollar notes, but Miles decided not to question it.
"Aha!" Homer pulled out a small, mostly burnt scrap of paper and held it above his head. "Behold, the evidence that will put the final screw in the cupboard!"
Doesn't he mean 'the final nail in the coffin'? Oh, I give up…
Everyone fell silent, presumably unimpressed.
"And what does this show, exactly?" Miles asked, arms crossed.
"The second security guard I saw dropped this piece of paper." Homer snickered. "Well, it was a piece of paper before I used it to light the fire for my next show."
"You… mmmmmghhh!" Miles clenched his fist. "Witness, did you just admit to burning critical evidence!?"
And Wright complains about the witnesses he has to put up with!?
"No sweat, bro. There's still a logo and a bit of writing left on this baby."
"This must be the document we saw in the video!" Miles pointed at the witness stand. "I request an immediate handwriting analysis, Your Honour."
The Judge nodded. "Permission granted, Mr. Edgeworth. The court will take a twenty-minute recess for the prosecution to get the evidence analysed." He banged his gavel. "Court is adjourned."
As people in the gallery started getting up, Miles spotted Gumshoe and gave him a look, to which Gumshoe responded with a nod.
Don't disappoint me, Detective.
Miles turned his attention to his notes and decided to go over them again to make sure he hadn't missed anything important. Things seemed to be going in his favour, but he figured that he should be prepared in the event that his assumption turned out to be wrong.
Before he knew it, Gumshoe was back with the results.
"You were right, sir!" he exclaimed, handing him a piece of paper. "Everything on the document was written by the defendant!"
I knew it.
"Thank you, Detective."
"You're welcome, sir!" Gumshoe bowed his head, beaming, before heading back to his seat in the gallery.
Now I just have to hope for no more surprises.
A few minutes later, everyone was back and ready to continue.
"The court will now reconvene for the trial of Ms. Naila Gasket." The Judge banged his gavel. "Mr. Edgeworth, does the prosecution have the results of the handwriting analysis?"
"Yes, Your Honour," Miles replied, before sending a smirk Robert's way. "As I suspected, it says here that the handwriting does indeed belong to the defendant, which means that she was the one who dropped the document in her haste after killing the victim!"
Whispers in the audience grew as Robert's face fell.
"Order! Order in the court!" The Judge banged his gavel a few times. "Well, I believe that I have seen enough evidence to show that the defendant was the true murde-"
"Objection! Objection, objection!" Robert yelled, pummelling his desk in time with his protests.
He doesn't give up, I'll give him that.
The Judge blinked. "You have an objection, Mr. Everett?"
"Your Honour," Robert began, having apparently calmed down from his outburst. "All the evidence is circumstantial! My client is the CEO of HDCriminals; her handwriting could be on any document! Plus, I think the court has forgotten the fact that Ms. Gasket has an alibi."
I was wondering when he'd bring that one up…
"An alibi?" the Judge questioned, before it seemed to click. "Ah, of course! Mr. Edgeworth, what do you have to say about this forgettable alibi?"
Miles crossed his arms. "I agree with the defence. This matter needs further questioning from the court."
"See?" Robert said smugly, gesturing at the prosecution bench. "Thanks, Miles."
I wish he'd stop calling me that in here…
"I would not be saying that quite yet, Mr. Everett," Miles replied. "But indeed, the prosecution would like to call Mr. Kenny Ogden, the witness for Ms. Gasket's alibi."
The Judge nodded. "Very well. Let the witness, Mr. Ogden, take the stand."
Kenny Ogden was a very tall and burly man who, if the sheen of his skin was anything to go by, seemed to have a slight obsession with body oil. His hair was shaved and he had a dark horseshoe moustache that contrasted with his goatee, which had obviously been bleached. He was wearing a pair of jeans that had holes at the knees and a black tank top with the word 'Pain' written on the front. Around his waist, he sported what looked like a championship belt, and on his wrists were red sweatbands that matched his elbow pads. With his thick eyebrows, that had been shaved in a tick shape, he certainly projected an intimidating aura.
"Witness, could you please state your name and occupation for the court?"
Crossing his arms, Kenny simply stared back at Miles, eyes wide.
"Witness, your name and occupation," Miles prompted again.
"K.O. needs no introduction." Kenny raised a hand up, fingers splayed. "K.O. is five-time, five-time, LAWF champion!"
"Law F? I've never heard of that law before!" the Judge said, bewildered.
"No, pops," Kenny boomed, flexing his biceps. "L.A. Wrestling Federation."
"Ah, that does clear things up," the Judge replied, before frowning. "But it says here that we should be talking to a Mr. Kenny Ogden, a security guard at the casino?"
"If I may, Your Honour," Miles spoke up, producing a document. "This is Mr. Kenny Ogden, and he does work as a security guard at Lucky 13 Casino-"
"Watch it, frilly!" Kenny grabbed hold of the stand, ripped a piece of wood off the top and lifted it up into the air, much to the amazement of the crowd. "K.O. uses the Wood Smash on homies who spill his secrets!"
Why is it always the cravat they pick on!? Do these people not understand style?
"As you've probably guessed," Miles continued, unfazed by Kenny's threat, "Mr. Ogden is also a wrestler in a small local league, where he goes under the pseudonym of K.O."
I didn't think anything could beat 'travelling shadow puppeteer'.
Obviously, I was wrong.
"Mr. Ogd… err, K.O.," Robert began, looking slightly bemused, "could you please inform the court on the topic of Ms. Gasket's alibi? Specifically where you were and at what time?"
"You got it, suits," Kenny spread his arms out wide. "When K.O. testifies, he testifies on another level, a God-honest-no-messin' level!"
If we're talking about the basement level, then I quite agree.
"At 11 P.M., K.O. and his girl Naila over here were chilling in the staff room at the casino. She has the best, and that is the best, advice on K.O.'s sweet moves. But then, it's like, bam! Some underling comes in saying there's been a murder on the floor! So K.O. psyches himself up and checks out the scene, but that was the first time Naila was out of his eyeshot. She was in that staff room the whole time!"
"I think that provides a very conclusive alibi from a respectable source," Robert summed up. "The defence has no objections."
Of course you don't.
"At first glance, it might seem like a solid alibi," Miles conceded, "but I would like to ask about a separate incident from that night."
"What's that, frills?" Kenny asked, pointing the piece of wood in Miles' direction.
"I would like to know about this guard who had to be replaced. Seeing as you're the head of security, I believe it's safe to assume you would know the details of what happened."
"Objection! I don't believe that the guards on duty are relevant to the alibi, Your Honour," Robert spoke up, possibly understanding the implications of Miles' question.
"Objection!" Miles tapped his temple. "There is more to this murder than the evidence supplied so far, Your Honour, and it is our duty to look into every possibility."
The Judge closed his eyes. "Hmm. I do believe there are several things that need clearing up regarding the case as a whole." He opened his eyes and nodded. "Please answer the question, witness."
Kenny shrugged. "Don't know why you homies want to know about that. One of the underlings came into the office spewing puke everywhere, so K.O. rose to the challenge and sent her home while securing a last-minute replacement."
"And who was this replacement, Mr. Odgen?" Miles probed.
Kenny pulled a face and smashed a fist down on the witness stand, sending the piece of wood he broke off clattering to the floor. "That ain't got no bearing on the case, frills!"
Miles slammed a hand down on his desk, not making the wood shudder in quite the same way. "It was Naila Gasket, wasn't it?" He pointed at Kenny. "You switched the previous guard with the defendant, meaning she was not in the staff room at the time of the murder!"
Kenny let out a roar and stared menacingly at Miles, eyes wide.
"Witness, is this true!?" the Judge exclaimed.
Kenny hung his head. "Yes, it's true, pops," he admitted, before sending Miles a glare. "K.O. asks for permission to use the Face Raper to put frills back in his place!"
The Judge blinked. "I'm afraid I cannot grant that request, K.O."
Kenny huffed. "Consider yourself lucky, frills! You'd tap out in two seconds!"
Finally, we're getting there.
If people just told the truth, my job would be a lot easier.
Miles paused on that thought.
Maybe he could understand those witnesses to a degree; sometimes the truth was difficult to come to terms with.
But no matter how hard it is, surely it always needs to be heard?
…I suppose this means I should tell him?
Miles snapped his head up, caught unawares. "Th-the prosecution alleges that Ms. Gasket knew of these plans to switch places with the other guard."
Gah! I can't keep spacing out like this in the middle of court!
"Objection!" Robert grabbed the front of his desk. "How could the defendant have known such a thing? That's a ridiculous claim!"
"Objection! I have evidence, Your Honour." Miles reached into his briefcase and took out the bottle of ipecac syrup, before holding it up to show the court. "This bottle was found in Ms. Gasket's office. It contains ipecac syrup, an emetic no longer recommended for medical use. This is what was used to induce sickness in the other guard!"
"So what!?" Kenny shouted on top of the growing chatter. "Who cares if K.O.'s lady wanted to be on guard duty that night!? Don't make Naila out to be a murderer because of it!"
"Order! Order!" The Judge banged his gavel a few times, before looking across at Robert. "Mr. Everett, does the defence have any objections regarding this new information?"
"Yes!" Robert answered confidently, before his face fell. "But… erm… this is kind of embarrassing…" He chuckled nervously and fiddled with his tie.
The Judge blinked. "What's embarrassing, Mr. Everett?"
"I'm going to present the crime scene photo to the court," Robert replied, loosening his tie slightly. "However, the last time I did that, I threw up all over the defence desk."
The Judge nodded in sympathy. "It's very unfortunate to be haemophobic in this line of work."
"Ah, but that wasn't the only problem," Robert confessed. "I'd drank too much the night before while trying to beat a lead at blackjack in order to secure some evidence." He looked pensive for a moment. "Yeah… that's when I decided to take a break from murder cases for a while. Seven years, in fact! Only took this case 'cause no one else would, and I recognised the prosecutor as a decent guy." He gave Miles a sly wink.
How I wish I could reciprocate those feelings…
"What do you wish to show us in this photo?" Miles asked, arms crossed.
"Here." Robert briefly glanced at the photo and pointed at the necklace in the victim's hand. "The prosecution has yet to explain how Ms. Gasket could have had time to plant the necklace on the body before it was discovered. You were the one who proved that Ms. Dinduet was still wearing her necklace after the murder occurred, Mr. Edgeworth."
The audience murmured in agreement, forcing the Judge to bang his gavel a couple of times.
Miles smirked and shook his head. "Mr. Everett, you bring up a very good point." He gestured over at Kenny. "I'm sure you'd like to enlighten the court on this matter, Mr. Ogden?"
"K.O. says 'no comment'." Kenny lowered his head and twiddled his thumbs.
"Come now, Mr. Ogden, this is not one of your shows; you are in a court of law," Miles rebuked. "Ms. Dinduet told me that you met her that night before the police arrived. She was in the restaurant next door, after all."
Kenny punched a fist into his other hand. "Are you asking for the Pummel Horse, frills!? That's what happens to homies who go around accusing K.O. of shit he didn't do!"
"I also know that Ms. Gasket made you fix the security camera before she met with the victim," Miles continued, unfazed, before pulling out a document. "These are HDCriminal's earnings for the year. It's very clear that the company is currently losing money. This, I am informed, is due to a defect in the new cameras they released, which prevents the turning mechanism from being controlled." Miles reshuffled his evidence pile and presented a second document. "Here, in the security records, two days before the murder, we can clearly see that you worked a double shift. This would have given you enough time to fix the camera so you could make it stop rotating before the murder!"
Silence from the defence desk was always a good sign; Robert stared blankly at him, looking completely at a loss.
"You certainly have done a thorough job, as usual, Mr. Edgeworth," the Judge chimed in, seemingly impressed.
"Thank you, Your Honour," Miles replied, taking a small bow.
Kenny banged the witness stand, sending another piece of wood flying. "K.O. calls you out on your scheming ways, frilly! K.O. challenges you to a one-on-one, no-holds-barred…"
Hardcore wrestling match, with the Judge as referee…?
Miles crossed his arms and tapped his finger. "I have already shown exactly how the murder was carried out, Mr. Ogden. What need do we have for a motive?"
"Objection!" Robert intervened, picking up on Kenny's last lifeline. "Motive is of a very high importance, especially in a premeditated murder! I think you're forgetting that the defendant and the victim were once in a relationship, and I have proof that they were still on good terms with each other." He pulled out a pile of documents and flicked through them. "I have here a series of emails exchanged between the defendant and the victim. It's clear from reading them that they were friends."
It's true, none of those emails contained anything incriminating…
"That's right, suits! K.O. can testify that his lady and the dead one were still talking good. They had nothing to hide!"
…Nothing to hide?
"Why, that is some very important information, Mr. Everett!" the Judge exclaimed. "I don't see why the defendant would have wanted to kill Mr. Male if they were such good friends!"
No, it's true, there must have been a motive…
…And I think I know where to look for it.
Miles hit his desk. "Mr. Ogden, could I please get you to repeat your last statement for the court?"
"Naila and Blake were still friends and they had nothing to hide, frills! So how do you like that!?"
"I like that very much," Miles said, throwing the curve ball. "Your Honour, I have in my possession a photo of the defendant and the victim." Flipping the photo over, he held it up to show the court. "Here, on the back, is a string of letters and numbers that looks like a code of some sort. The prosecution was unsure of its significance, but I now have reason to believe that it is the key to finding the true meaning behind those innocuous-looking emails. If an IT expert were to examine them, I am convinced that they would find the motive we're looking for."
"Noooo!" Kenny's eyes bulged and he crumpled onto the witness stand, taking out the top of the stand in one fell swoop. "Where did you find that!?"
Miles tapped his temple. "It was found in a hidden drawer in Ms. Gasket's desk." He smirked. "It looks like the defendant did have something to hide, after all."
"Mr. Edgeworth!" the Judge cut in, wide-eyed. "Please take that code and have the emails examined at once!"
"Right away, Your Honour."
Gumshoe ran over to pick up the picture and quickly left the courtroom, promising to be back in a few minutes.
Surprisingly, Robert didn't seem too down about the turn the case had taken. If anything, he looked relieved and seemed ready to pack up his belongings, the fight having obviously left him.
A moment later, Gumshoe re-emerged with the results and handed them over.
Miles couldn't help but smirk as he read the contents of the emails.
"Well, Mr. Edgeworth?" the Judge prodded. "Don't leave us hanging!"
"Your Honour, it looks as though Mr. Male was blackmailing Ms. Gasket with some evidence of her former drug addiction. In response, she arranged to meet up with him to hand over the assets of her company, HDCriminals."
"Unbelievable!" the Judge exclaimed. "How did this get deciphered, Mr. Edgeworth?"
Miles tapped the sheet. "Apparently, the real messages were hidden in the emails' HTML source. A quick search of the code brought up the messages in question."
"I see," the Judge said with a nod. "Well, I believe I'm about ready to hand down my verdict. Bailiff, please let the defendant take the stand."
Naila Gasket, a petite, elegant woman, walked up to the stand, quiet and despondent. She seemed to have dressed up for the occasion as she was wearing a red and white silk sari decorated with golden sequins. "Your Honour, I'd like to… confess."
"No, Naila!" Kenny shouted, his tough-guy persona crumbling at the sight of her, tears already rolling down his face. "I know you didn't mean to kill him!"
Naila closed her eyes and looked away. "It's true; that was not my first intention. I arranged the meeting in a public place to protect myself, and the disguise and camera manipulation were so he wouldn't have evidence of our exchange."
"So you traded your business for the blackmail material?" Miles asked.
"Yes. It should have ended there, but after telling me that he had more evidence hidden somewhere, Blake said that he was going to liquidise the assets." Naila looked up at Miles. "I couldn't let him ruin all my hard work, so I… I took my penknife and… I don't know what came over me. Next thing I know, Kenny is telling me that he took care of everything and that I'm going to be fine." She turned away again. "I'm sorry, Kenny. You've been such a good friend to me…"
Kenny's bottom lip wobbled. "Naila, my lady!"
The Judge cleared his throat and Miles caught sight of Robert wiping his eye with his sleeve as he turned away.
Miles crossed his arms. "I assume the reason you broke into Ms. Dinduet's apartment two days later was to steal the rest of the blackmail material that Mr. Male mentioned?"
"Yes, that's correct," Naila answered. "I couldn't find anything at Blake's apartment, so I decided to check her place. I didn't mean her any harm… I didn't think she'd be home so early."
"I see…" Miles replied.
"Well, I believe this puts an end to proceedings," the Judge spoke up, his voice wavering slightly. "The court finds the defendant, Ms. Naila Gasket, guilty on the count of murder." He banged his gavel, before turning to Kenny. "As for you, Mr. Ogden, I hope you realise that trying to conceal a crime is a serious offense, for which you will be tried later this week."
"I understand, Your Honour," Kenny replied dejectedly.
The Judge nodded and banged his gavel. "Court is adjourned."
As people started leaving, Miles noticed that the courtroom was a lot quieter than it usually is after the proceedings.
People are too quick to sympathise. It's not as if it was an accident.
Whether or not she regrets it, she's still a murderer.
He picked up his briefcase and started putting his documents away. The thought that he wouldn't have to deal with this case anymore made him feel a little better.
I have enough to worry about as it is…
Sighing, he put the last document on top of the others and closed the briefcase, before setting off towards the exit. He found himself thankful that most people had already left the courtroom – his personal space being invaded was the last thing he needed at the moment.
I let one person in and this is where it lands me.
I should have known better.
He took a left in the hallway and looked at his watch. 11:53. At least the trial had gone faster than he thought it would.
I suppose I should thank Ogden for practically handing me the last piece of the puzzle.
Miles smirked at the thought and looked back up as he approached the prosecution lobby.
Wright was standing near the door, staring right at him.
Christ, I don't need this right now! What is he doing here!?
Phoenix laughed and walked up to him. "What's wrong, Edgeworth? You look like you've seen a ghost."
A ghost sounds like a rather pleasant sight at the moment.
"What do you want?" Miles asked, a bit too harshly.
Phoenix raised an eyebrow. "Someone's in a bad mood."
Shit. I've been over this. I have to act normally.
"Sorry. I'm just-"
"If I did half as well as you did in there, I'd be out celebrating right now."
Miles blinked. "You watched the trial?"
"Well, yeah." Phoenix shrugged. "I got curious after what we found yesterday. Wanted to see how things would turn out."
Fair enough. He did find that photo, after all.
A smirk appeared on Phoenix's face. "Looks like I saved your ass again."
Miles rolled his eyes.
I should have seen that one coming.
"Don't get too proud. I still would have found that photo had you not been there."
Phoenix chuckled. "Yeah, sure." He shook his head. "So… how much paperwork are you looking at?"
"I'm not sure yet. I have to get back to the office and go over everything."
Phoenix nodded. "Well, in any case, you're taking a break on Thursday night."
Miles frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"I made a phone call last night," Phoenix replied, his smirk turning into an actual smile. "I managed to get two tickets for the premiere of the Steel Samurai movie on Thursday!"
Miles' eyes widened. He opened his mouth to speak, but words failed him.
What is he…?
Phoenix laughed. "Wow, I knew you'd be happy, but speechless? Man, I'm good!"
Miles stared at Phoenix for a moment, confused.
Is this… an apology for last night?
No, it can't be. He has nothing to apologise for. I'm the one who stupidly started believing in something that didn't exist, and then-
Miles winced at the thought. He had been so close to telling Wright how he felt, somehow convinced that his feelings were reciprocated, only to be brought back to reality by a simple comment. How could he have been so stupid?
On the other hand, he couldn't possibly have imagined everything. Had Wright been giving him all the wrong signals without realising? He didn't know what to think anymore.
Miles snapped out of his thoughts and focused on Phoenix again. "Look, Wright…"
How do I say this?
He sighed. "This isn't right."
Phoenix frowned. "What do you-"
"Well, look who it is!" a familiar voice interrupted from behind.
Miles turned around to see Robert walking up to them.
Christ. Why now!?
"Hi, Mr. Everett," Phoenix called out, obviously trying too hard to sound enthusiastic.
"Please, call me Rob," Robert said with a smile. "I mean, we're practically family now."
Miles raised an eyebrow. "Family?"
Robert chuckled. "Well, we did spend a whole night drinking together."
That's… an interesting definition.
"Miles didn't actually drink anything, though," Phoenix commented with a smirk.
"Such a responsible young man," Robert said, patting Miles on the shoulder, before turning to Phoenix. "You're so lucky! You can drink as much as you want without ever worrying about not being able to drive home."
…Is drinking all this man ever thinks about?
Phoenix laughed. "Yeah, it's nice to have my own personal chauffeur."
Miles sent him a disapproving look.
Phoenix grinned and cleared his throat. "So, err… I didn't know you were a defence attorney."
Robert frowned. "Didn't I mention it at the party?" He shook his head, as if to answer his own question. "I must have been too drunk."
I wouldn't have guessed.
"You know," Robert continued, "I'm kinda the reason Kath became a lawyer in the first place."
"Is that so?" Miles said flatly.
Robert smiled proudly. "She's just a few months older than the twins so she used to come over to play with them as a kid. But then she'd get into fights with them and come watch TV with me in the living room." He chuckled. "There was this really good legal drama I watched at the time and she got really into it."
"But…" Phoenix paused. "If you're a defence attorney, why did she become a prosecutor?"
"Ah, that's an easy one," Robert said with a nod. "One of her friends was being threatened by this guy, you see. He got arrested and put in jail, and then Kath couldn't stop talking about how much she admired the prosecutor for putting that criminal behind bars."
So, in other words, you had absolutely nothing to do with her career choice.
Phoenix gave Miles a sideways glance and smirked. "Speaking of Kath, she's going to Italy soon, right?"
"Yes, she's leaving on the 18th," Robert replied. "Assuming she doesn't party all weekend and miss her flight on Monday morning." He laughed.
"That's… in two weeks," Phoenix stated.
Robert nodded. "Yeah, she's really excited. Although…" He turned to Miles. "She seemed a lot more eager to leave before she started talking about you, if you know what I mean."
Miles flinched, making Phoenix burst into laughter.
"Oh, don't worry," Robert added with a smile. "I'm sure she'll get over you as soon as she gets to Italy."
"She better," Phoenix said teasingly. He made a move as if to grab Miles' arm, but seemed to catch himself at the last second, lifting his hand up to rub the back of his neck instead.
Miles glared at him.
What do you think you're doing!?
"Must be hard," Robert commented.
Miles turned back to him. "Pardon?"
"Having to hide your feelings like that."
…You have no idea.
"You saw that, huh?" Phoenix said sheepishly.
Robert smiled. "Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me."
"Thank you," Phoenix replied. He took a glance at Miles and seemed to notice his discomfort. "So, um… Why is Kath going to Italy, anyways?"
"She's been wanting to learn Italian for a long time. She was always impressed whenever she heard me speak it on the phone."
Phoenix's eyes widened. "You speak Italian?"
"Of course!" Robert answered cheerfully. "I moved to Italy after I got my attorney's badge back in '88." He let out a sigh. "Can you believe it's already been thirty years? Time sure flies!"
Phoenix chuckled. "Yeah, that's what I hear. Did you live there for a long time?"
"Just short of five years. I wasn't planning on staying that long, but things got… complicated."
Please, Wright… Why do you feel the need to encourage him?
"Well… I originally went to study their legal system, so I thought I'd be there for about a year, but then I met this girl…" Robert paused, looking wistful. "She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. And, of course, I was young and stupid at the time, so, one night, I drank too much and… well… Tonio happened."
Tell me he didn't just say that.
"Right. Tonio," Phoenix said, failing to mask the uneasiness in his voice. "One of your daughters mentioned him at the party."
"Yeah. Don't get me wrong, though. He may have been an accident, but he's still a great kid."
Please. Stop talking.
Phoenix probably didn't trust himself to speak at this point as he simply nodded in response.
Robert laughed. "You guys are lucky! No matter how much you drink, you don't have to worry about that."
Phoenix glanced at Miles and chuckled nervously. "Yeah…"
"Anyways…" Robert looked at his watch. "I won't keep you any longer; I'm sure you're both busy."
"Indeed," Miles said dryly.
"I'll see you two around!" Robert bowed his head slightly, then disappeared into the defendant lobby.
As soon as the door closed, Miles let out a breath he didn't realise he'd been holding.
I guess it's a family thing.
"Well, that was awkward," Phoenix commented.
Miles turned to him and simply nodded in response.
Phoenix managed a weak smile, before lowering his gaze. "Sorry about before. I forgot where we were for a second."
Miles sighed. "This is getting out of hand."
Phoenix looked back up and frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Not here," Miles replied, shaking his head. He pointed at the door behind him. "Let me get my things and we can talk outside."
Phoenix gave him a weird look. "…Alright."
Turning around, Miles entered the prosecution lobby and closed the door behind him.
"Hey, sir!" Gumshoe greeted cheerfully. "Great job today, as usual!"
I almost forgot he was here…
"Thank you, Detective," Miles replied, walking over to the couch.
Gumshoe's smile suddenly faded and he let out a sigh. "I can't help but feel bad for that woman, though. She really didn't mean to kill him."
Miles frowned. "It doesn't change the fact that she did. And her friend tried to pin the murder on an innocent woman."
Gumshoe seemed to ponder for a moment, before smiling again. "You're right, sir. I'm glad we uncovered the truth! I didn't rummage through all that garbage for nothing!"
Why does he keep bringing that up like it's something to brag about?
"Indeed," Miles said, sitting down. He opened his briefcase and started putting away the unneeded evidence he had left on the table before court. He looked up at Gumshoe. "Detective, could you get the paperwork sent to my office? I have to… take care of something."
"Sure thing, sir!"
Miles nodded and put the last piece of evidence away, before closing the briefcase and getting back up. He walked over to the door and paused with his hand on the knob.
I can do this.
"I'll see you later, Detective."
"Have a good lunch, sir."
Taking a deep breath, Miles left the lobby and turned towards the exit, motioning for Phoenix to follow him.
"So what did you mean by-"
"Not here, Wright."
Phoenix looked over his shoulder. "But there's no one around."
Miles ignored him and they continued in silence until the exit. As they stepped out, Phoenix chuckled slightly.
Miles looked at him and frowned.
"Sorry," Phoenix said sheepishly. "I just had a big déjà vu. Which reminds me… I still have your umbrella."
I'd completely forgotten about that…
But if I ask him to give it back, he'll use that as an excuse for us to spend time together.
"Keep it," Miles replied as they reached the parking lot.
Phoenix raised an eyebrow. "What?"
Miles shrugged. "I have several."
"…Are you sure?" Phoenix looked perplexed. "I could bring it on Thursday when-"
"I'm not going to that movie with you."
Phoenix blinked. "What? But you're the one who wanted to go!"
"I never said that."
"Maybe not, but I saw you look at that poster on Saturday, and you seemed pretty enthusiastic when I asked you if you wanted to go."
Miles stopped and turned to face Phoenix. "Look, Wright." He paused, choosing his words carefully. "It's not that I don't want to go, but as things stand, I can't."
Phoenix frowned. "But you said you didn't know about your paperwork yet."
"It's not that."
"Then what is it?"
Miles lowered his eyes.
Now what? I can't exactly tell him outright.
This seemed a lot easier last night… before Wright made me realise that I was delusional.
"Edgeworth? Is something wrong?"
Miles looked back up at him and sighed. "Yes."
Phoenix seemed slightly taken aback. "I think this is the first time I've gotten a straight answer out of you."
…I think you'll find that my answer is anything but straight.
Miles took in a deep breath. This was going to be difficult. "Look. As much as I'd like to go see that movie with you, it's not right."
Phoenix scowled. "What do you mean it's not right?"
"I mean that this whole thing is getting out of hand. Pretending is one thing, but when you start subconsciously grabbing my arm, there's a problem."
"That wasn't subconscious!" Phoenix protested. "I just forgot we were in the Courthouse."
And I suppose you forgot we were at your apartment when you put your hand on my back last night?
Phoenix snorted. "You can't just disagree! I knew what I was doing."
"Sure you did," Miles replied dryly, before setting off again.
"Wait!" Phoenix jogged up to him and grabbed his shoulder, making him turn. "Why are you being like this?" He looked at him expectantly for a moment, before sighing at the lack of response. "When you called me yesterday, I thought you'd finally realised that spending time with friends instead of working all the time wasn't so bad. Do you have any idea how happy that made me?"
A strong feeling of guilt suddenly rose within Miles. It wasn't Wright's fault that Miles had stupidly fallen for him and he didn't deserve to have his feelings hurt like this.
Phoenix scoffed. "For what? Making up excuses not to spend time with me?"
Miles let out a sigh. "I'm not making anything up."
I wish I were.
"Then why won't you go to that movie with me?"
"Because friends don't go to movies together, Wright!" Miles snapped. "They don't spend hours together for no reason, and they definitely don't go out for coffee and have the barista believe that they are dating!"
Phoenix stared at him for a moment. "Edgeworth, what's going on?"
Miles looked away.
I guess now is the time to come clean.
I don't really have a choice after what I just said.
He turned back to Phoenix, who was still staring at him, waiting for an answer.
…But I can't tell him. It would only make things awkward.
I don't want to ruin everything after he's spent so much time trying to mend our friendship.
I'll just have to avoid him until I can keep my feelings in check.
"I just… need some time to clear my head," Miles replied. "This situation has affected us more deeply than you realise."
"Us?" Phoenix scoffed. "Fine, I'll leave you alone." He turned and started walking towards the bus stop, visibly upset.
I can't just let him leave like this.
"Wait," Miles called out.
Phoenix stopped, but didn't turn around.
Miles walked up to him and went to put a hand on his shoulder, but stopped himself. He needed to stay detached. "Please don't take this the wrong way. I just need to figure some things out on my own."
Phoenix spun around. "You mean like the time you disappeared for a whole year because you needed to 'figure out what it meant to be a prosecutor'? What is it this time? You need to figure out what it means to have friends?" He shook his head. "How long is that gonna be? Another year? Why does everything always have to be so fucking dramatic with you!?"
Miles looked down sheepishly. "That's not-"
"It's fine, I get it," Phoenix cut in sharply. "I'm interfering with your work time. I guess I'll just… go hang out with Larry." He turned to leave again, before adding over his shoulder, "At least he appreciates my company."
Miles felt his jaw tighten as he watched Phoenix walk off.
You've got it all backwards.
If only I could appreciate it less.
He set off towards his car, wishing the conversation had gone better. But no matter what excuse he'd come up with, the outcome would have been the same, and telling the truth would have been even worse.
At least, avoiding Wright shouldn't be a problem now.
Reaching his car, he quickly unlocked the door and slid into his seat, before letting out a long, exasperated sigh. To think that when he first met Wright again, he thought that his feelings were difficult to deal with.
Unnecessary feelings? I was such a fool.