It shouldn't be this way. Not for him.

He doesn't remember many things about the past; seven years is a long time, and with age comes forgetfulness. Memories of better times mesh and cloud his mind, so much that sometimes he has to look into the old case files to remind himself—wasn't it Butz who got beamed in the head with a statue? Or was it a clock…? Wait, what kind of name is Butz, anyway…?

It doesn't matter too much, though, so he doesn't dwell on it. The courtroom was always a mass of chaos and illogical riff-raff. Whips have been aimed at his poor face, coffee's been flung around, and pencils roll under desks and begin to beg for retrieval. It's always been a place where logic is swept aside, cast away to the door like muddy, unwanted shoes—he doesn't mind. It's created a few good memories.

That he sometimes forgets, sure, but still good.

He runs a calloused hand over his face, feeling stiff hairs rub his hands unpleasantly. He should probably shave more often; he knows for a fact that he doesn't value his "face-fur" (as a certain young child at home calls it) as much as some people he could name off the top of his head did. But at this point he's pretty used to having it, so it's probably not going to come off anytime soon.

But, still. This man doesn't deserve what's happened to him. Not after all this. Not after all he's done.

He shouldn't have had to outlive him.

God, this just wasn't fair.

He couldn't believe that the evidence had been forged. It looked so real, but he supposes that it wouldn't have been any good otherwise. The source should've been checked better. He'd always been a bit of a flake, that one, but he just couldn't imagine that dishonest evidence would be brought into the courtroom. Not by him. He was better than that, he was so sure.

It didn't matter much. Not in a court of law. He rubbed his old hands against the polished wood before him, inhaling the scent of Pledge that usually stuck around after the podiums were cleaned. The janitors must have come by the other day. Maybe earlier this morning. He didn't exactly stick around as much as he used to, so he wouldn't know when they came.

He surveys the area from his position, taking a moment to study those sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom. He and the man across from him are no strangers here, nor is the prosecutor (though he has to admit, the elderly man does feel like a different person each time his hair changes). In fact, it might have been called a meeting of professionals, if not for the young rookie trembling in the defense's bench.

The poor boy looks even more nervous than he was during his first trial. His hair is weirder, too. He's seen strange things in his life, certainly, but the red-clad lawyer's spikes point at him almost threateningly. His mind quickly runs through all of the violent people that have been in the courtroom, but only one of the few that he can remember had spiky hair, and even then, he wasn't exactly an evil mastermind. More like an evil twin. With red skin. And a Brooklyn accent.

Even so, he'd give this rookie a chance. Underdogs had the most interesting habit of kicking veterans off their thrones. Though, he recalled with a fond smile, this particular prosecutor seems to fancy more of an armchair now.

He pulls away the sleeve on his wrist and glances at his watch. Ten o'clock sharp.

The gavel cracks, and as he waits for the murmuring crowd to quiet (this particular trial is attracting many law officials, he notices, and can guess why), the usual exchanges take place. Almost subconsciously; as each party sorts out their thoughts, they respond mindlessly to the ritual.

Except the rookie, who seems to simply stutter out a response before leaning on the podium heavily. He raises a brow in half-concern, wondering if the boy will suddenly fall over. He smiles as he recalls that it wouldn't be the first time defense attorneys have fainted in court.

But the boy seems to straighten himself out, after a brief conversation confirming his name and readiness. The mentor seems indifferent to his student's nervousness, appearing to simply wish for the trial to proceed.

No choice then. The gavel pounds against the desk. "Then let's begin. The defendant may enter the courtroom."

And he does, taking his place at the defendant's chair without a shred of hesitation or worry. This was different from the man seven years ago, the one who practically drowned in his sweat in every trial. This one wasn't concerned at all.

Or maybe he just didn't care anymore, and that assumption seems all the more realistic when he silently waits. No loud exclamations and coughing sounds that vaguely flit through his mind. No slamming his hands on the polished wood in front of him. Hands in his pockets, slightly slumped posture, staring straight forward.

He shouldn't have had to outlive this man.

But he has. So he grips his gavel with trembling, aged hands, and shakes his head, offering up the only greeting he sees fit.

"This is truly an unfortunate turn of events. I'm sorry we had to meet again under these circumstances. Long time no see, Mr. Wright."


Author's Note.

And here is my first Ace Attorney story. Ace Attorney stories are difficult. Judge is difficult. Narrative Judge is difficult. I want to hate you, Judge.

…But I can't. I will cry many tears of sorrow when you die, Udgey.

If you die. How freakin' old are you, anyway!?

-Angelfeatherwriter-