A/N: Laziness is a terrible thing darlings. And I happen to suffer from a serious affliction of it. Do please forgive meeeee. Also, however few the reviews, they made me happy because they were so lovely. So thanks to all you reviewers. THANK YOOOOUUU!!
Disclaimer: I don't own Deathnote or the Ace Attorney games.
Chapter 3: Trip to Wammy's
Ah, the laughter of children. Known far and wide for making soft-hearted adults feel unusually sentimental. It is also known to cause teachers to look around for property damage, and old men to reflexively shake their canes (provided they have canes) and scream to "Get off my lawn!" (Provided they have lawns.)
Phoenix, Maya, and Pearl couldn't help but notice the laughter of children as they walked up the dirt path to the large white building of Wammy's House Orphanage.
"I thought orphanages were supposed to be sad places..." Maya commented as Phoenix knocked on the front door.
"Television dramas are not reliable sources of information, Maya." Phoenix said exasperatedly.
"It's good to know they aren't..." Pearl muttered sadly, "I almost got sent to one..." A stab of misplaced guilt hit Phoenix square in the chest. 'That's right... after her mother was sent to jail, Pearls wouldn't have a guardian would she? ...I wonder who is taking care of her? Must be some of the other mediums...' He thought. A young girl with pale blonde pigtails opened the door.
"Um, can I help you?" She asked.
"We're here to conduct an investigation!" Maya chirped. Phoenix sweatdropped as the young girl looked mildly impressed.
"What she means is we just need to ask some people a few questions." The defense lawyer clarified.
"Oh, ok. You must be with that other guy. I'm Linda." The girl opened the door wider and ushered them in.
"This other guy... he doesn't happen to wear a big smelly green coat, and have a bandage on his cheek does he?" Maya questioned thoughtfully. Linda raised an eyebrow.
"Why, yes. Wouldn't you know that?" She replied.
"Not really, all we knew was that some detective was sent down. They forgot to mention which one." Phoenix laughed nervously, cutting off whatever Maya had been about to say. Linda nodded, as though satisfied.
"Alright. He's up in Roger's office, Roger is the caretaker here, just down the hall there." She pointed. "Is that all?"
"Actually, we're looking for someone called Mello. We needed to ask him something." Phoenix said, remembering Matt's advice. Linda blinked.
"Mello? I don't know... He came in from the soccer field a while ago. He might be in his room or he might be in the playroom, torturing Near." She looked extremely disapproving of this. "The playroom is right there." Here she indicated the room only about two feet away. "If Mello isn't there than I'm pretty sure Near would know. Near knows everything." A slightly adoring expression crossed her face, and she skipped off before Phoenix could ask what either Near or Mello looked like.
"That was weird." Maya commented. 'You're one to talk.' Phoenix rolled his eyes.
"Well, let's go have a look than I guess." He suggested, and walked towards the 'playroom.'
The only apparent occupant of the room was a small pale boy with white curly hair who was clothed in what appeared to be white... pajamas. He was in an odd kneeling/sitting position, with a curl wrapped around one finger of his right hand, and with his other hand was stacking dice. An unreasonably elaborate city of dice already surrounded him, and for a moment Phoenix and his 'sidekicks' were struck silent in amazement. Then Pearl bounced forward, agilely making her way to the center and the boy without disturbing a single die. The boy looked up when he heard her light footfalls.
"I would be very upset were you to ruin my city." He warned.
"I won't." Pearl smiled, and the boy blinked, as though unused to her brand of friendliness. The two appeared to be very close in age, Pearl was nine and the boy was too petite and... well, cute to be much older.
"Who are you?" He questioned monotonously, and Phoenix felt a chill run up his spine from hearing so apathetic a voice from a child.
"I'm Pearl Fey." Pearl proclaimed proudly. "Who are you?" The boy considered her for a moment, and turned back to stack his current dice tower a little higher.
"I am called Near." He replied.
"Near? Great!" Maya suddenly squealed. Phoenix flinched at the shrill tone and Pearl looked over in surprise, as though she had forgotten the others' presence for a moment. Near, however, displayed no visible reaction. "We were just looking for you!"
"Really?" A vague tendril of interest had entered the boy's voice, but he didn't look back up.
"Yes." Pearl, annoyed that he seemed to be ignoring them, bent down in his face. Eyes widening ever so slightly, he looked at her, freezing mid-stack. "That girl in the hall told us you'd know where some guy called Mello's room is, and Mr. Nick needs to talk to Mello." Near's facial expression had returned to emotionless, but he seemed to be attempting to lean away from Pearl without falling back into his city. It wasn't working out too well, and every time he tried to go back to ignoring her, she leaned in closer.
"Would you please step back?" He asked finally.
"First, can you show us where Mello's room is, please?" She returned, her infamous Stare-of-Doom on her face, then she actually took a step closer. If Near's personal space was being invaded before, now was enough to have sent him into conniptions had he been claustrophobic. Near crushed the urge to gulp. It was becoming clear to him that he was, for once in his life, outclassed. By a girl.
Calmly setting down the dice in his hand, Near nodded once. Pearl bounced up immediately, drawing his attention up to her, the mask of apathy slipping just for a moment in shock as she beamed at him.
"Thank you!" Pearl said enthusiastically, as though the confrontation had never occurred. Feeling a tad frazzled, though you wouldn't have been able to tell by looking at him, Near smoothly rose to his feet and delicately picked his way across his city to the door, Pearl following.
"This way." Near instructed, shuffling down the hall towards a staircase.
"Wow Pearly! That was so cool!" Maya whispered to her cousin delightedly. "But, I thought you had problems with clumsiness..." 'Yeah, wasn't that how she broke an urn one time?' Phoenix recalled. Pearl smiled proudly.
"I've been taking ballet lessons." She whispered back, "so my balance is much better now!"
"That's great Pearls!" Phoenix patted her on the head affectionately.
"Yeah, we're so happy for you!" Maya squealed.
"Are you coming?" Near's apathetic voice trailed back to them. The three shared embarrassed glances, and scurried to catch up.
Mikami Teru was frustrated. It was an emotion he had come to terms with long ago and he was fully in control. However despite his familiarity, or perhaps because of it, the sensation was extremely unpleasant. He had been thwarted, and that was upsetting. There was apparently a possibility that this criminal was innocent of the current crime, and that was upsetting. Most upsetting, however, was the fact that the very prosecuting office he worked for was apparently not opposed to manipulating the legal system. He had seen in the past two days alone evidence of controlled testimony, lying by omission, and bullying of employees.
If there was one thing Teru couldn't stand above all the other criminal things he couldn't stand, it was bullying. To torment or force one's will on another person was to Teru the lowest thing anyone could possibly do. And clearly, the alleged 'prodigies' of the prosecution department had done just that to Detective Gumshoe. Now, don't get Teru wrong, he thought Gumshoe was an annoying and incompetent moron. Still, that did not justify bullying in Teru's opinion. Nothing did.
So he had decided to have a little... Talk... with his supposed peers. One of course was at home ill, and therefore unavailable, the other was in the hospital being treated for an undisclosed but serious condition... the third was another story.
'Stunned' was not a term Edgeworth was overly familiar with. 'Surprised' he knew quite closely. 'Shocked', thanks in no small part to a certain Phoenix Wright, had become a rather well-used word in his extensive vocabulary. 'Stunned' was thankfully still a rarity.
But that's the only word he could think of to describe his feelings when a sophisticated man in sleek glasses with choppy black hair and burning auburn eyes stormed into his office. The man apparently experienced a brief moment of displacement, as most do when entering the office of Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth for the first time. It was all the pink. And the frilliness. And, to a lesser extent, the strong aroma of earl grey tea. The flowers might also have something to do with it, but those weren't Edgeworth's fault. He couldn't get Wendy Oldbag and/or Ema Skye to stop sending them. Accursed fangirls.
At any rate, Edgeworth recovered from being 'stunned' in time to get in the first word before the newcomer shook off his displacement.
"Who are you, and what are you doing in my office?" He questioned darkly. And found himself stunned for the second time that day when his stern voice and intimidating glare had no effect.
"Prosecutor Teru Mikami. I am here to discuss something with you, Prosecutor Edgeworth." Teru responded, his tone bordering on acidic. No, actually it probably was acidic. As acidic as the human voice can ever manage to be. Edgeworth was moderately impressed; even Franziska had trouble getting that much venom into her words. He was also curious as to what, precisely, had provoked this reaction from the new attorney.
"I see. What is it you wanted to-" Edgeworth didn't get the chance to finish.
"The way in which things appear to be run here is disgusting." Teru's eyes flashed dangerously, "I noted several disturbing hints, and read through previous case files. Attempting to manipulate witness testimony, withholding evidence in an attempt to subdue the defense at a later time, failure to appropriately examine the case itself. Not to mention taking out anger and losses on subordinates. How can anyone say that we are fighting for justice and to place criminals in jail, when it is clear that the majority of these offices are dedicated only to winning a trial at any cost, even that of becoming criminals themselves?"
The tirade was unexpected, and oddly unassailable. After all, everything Mikami had said was technically true. Even if Edgeworth had made a change in his own conduct in the past year or so, that didn't change what he had done in the past, and it didn't change what other prosecutors such as Godot, Payne, and Franziska, were still doing. Poor Franziska was making an effort too, though. Obviously she still hadn't given up her goal of defeating Wright, but she was at least trying to straighten out her methods. Edgeworth wasn't quite sure what to say, but he knew he had to say something.
"Honestly, you are right. Recently I have been attempting to change things, although you doubtless have not noticed since you are new, and though that cannot necessarily make amends for past mistakes, it is all I can do. Winning cases has been seen as a way of measuring one's aptitude. For too long the prosecutors here have seen trials not as means of delivering justice and discovering the truth, but as challenges. Challenges that they must win in order to be considered good at their job. It is taking a long time, but I hope to eventually reform these offices." Edgeworth explained. "I apologize for any misunderstanding. Now, if you would kindly leave my office?" Mikami raised an eyebrow delicately, his poisonous glare dissipated.
"I see." Teru, for all his loathing of criminalistic behavior, did believe in redemption. If someone had done something evil, it was only if they showed no sign of remorse and reform that they were to be punished, and that was all. Teru had seen the truth: that the only way to ensure peace and happiness in the world was to eliminate those who would do evil and harm others. Nevertheless, Miles Edgeworth seemed to be sincere in his intentions to change. It was only too bad that everyone couldn't be made to see the light. Perhaps one day Kira would become the only law in the world, the only Justice, and all the treachery in this world would become obsolete. Teru had to believe that, and until then, he would wait, and do his part. Still, Mikami never could resist defending others.
"What about Detective Gumshoe?" Teru questioned severely. Edgeworth blinked.
"Yes, what of him?" Miles tried to think of what the problem could be. Sure, Gumshoe was incompetent, but if Teru was displeased with his services then he should be taking it up with the Chief of Police, not the High Prosecutor.
"Although he is not the most... shall we say 'skilled'?... person in his line of work, it is clear he does his best. It has come to my attention that he has suffered not only insult, but also unnecessary paycuts to extreme levels, and even physical assault." Teru slammed his hands down on Edgeworth's desk alarmingly. Edgeworth stood, opening his mouth angrily to rebuke the other man for his impudence, but the syllables died on his tongue as he saw the complete and utter fury in Teru's eyes. There was something in them that was almost reminiscent of Phoenix in his 'you totally betrayed me' mode. "I understand that you made mistakes in the past that you are attempting to repair, however there is no excuse for using another person to express your anger or disappointment. Cutting his pay or harming him simply because things are not going your way or because you dislike something he said is not acceptable."
"Would he not have taken up this complaint himself, if it were such a problem." Edgeworth pointed out. Teru threw back his head and let out a sharp bitter laugh.
"Of course not! The downtrodden know better than to complain, lest they be punished further!" The poisonous glare was back. "Besides, it is clear that for whatever reason, he respects you and is loyal to a fault." Edgeworth winced at the truth in Mikami's words. He had treated Gumshoe badly, but he'd never really contemplated it before. And it wasn't just him, Franziska and Godot had clearly abused the detective as well. Recalling the unwavering faith Gumshoe had in him, the detective's unwillingness to say a word against him, and worse the shabby state of the detective himself due to his inability to purchase proper food and dress... Edgeworth felt a wave of guilt that had long been fighting to get past the wall of irritation he had regarding Gumshoe. Now that he thought about it, it was truly disgraceful. Half of the things Gumshoe had been rebuked for actually hadn't been his fault.
Damnit. Edgeworth was really starting to hate this Teru Mikami.
"This is Mello's room." Near stopped in front of yet another door. They all looked the same in this place. Well, except that this one had a sign on it that read "Mello and Matt's Room: Trespassers Will Be Shot; Survivors Will Be Shot Again. Especially Near." Not particularly promising. Near turned around and began padding back down the hall to the stairs. "If you can't understand why I'm not coming with you, than I'm not telling." He called as he disappeared. Phoenix was pretty sure he could understand. Hesitantly, the lawyer knocked on the door.
"LINDA IF THAT'S YOU AGAIN I SWEAR I'M GONNA-...Oh. Who the hell are you?" Crunch! A barefoot boy wearing a black long-sleeved T-shirt and black jeans with raggedy hems had yanked open the door. The crunching had come from the chocolate bar in his hand, which he had taken a large bite out of. Not that Phoenix was an expert, but the boy appeared to be of German descent, with blue eyes, lightly tanned skin, and blonde hair in a strange bob-like cut that brushed his shoulders. A gold and black rosary dangled against his shirt. The kid couldn't be much more than fourteen, and he could clearly glare for England if he wanted. There was an underlying well of malice in those blue eyes, and Phoenix couldn't help the feeling of relief that welled up inside that he wasn't the one that malice was directed towards.
"Er, hi. We were sent by Matt. We're his lawyers and-" Immediately the blonde's expression changed, melting into a bored look as he grabbed Phoenix by the front of his shirt and dragged him inside with almost super-human strength. Phoenix meeped. Maya and Pearl followed, grinning at Phoenix's discomfort. The blonde released the lawyer and slammed the door, taking another chomp out of his chocolate.
"Matt sent you, huh? Best lawyers my ass if you have to come all the way out here." Mello licked his bar thoughtfully. It had to be Mello, Phoenix just knew it. "I'm Mello." Yep, knew it. "Matt can be a dumbass sometimes with his hacking, but he didn't do it this time, as you probably already know."
"You sound pretty sure." Maya observed. Mello rolled his eyes and bit his chocolate again.
"Of course I'm sure. You chicks aren't lawyers, obviously, who are you?" The boy demanded. Maya grinned in her usual friendly manner.
"I'm Maya Fey, this is my cousin Pearl. We're kinda like Nick's helpers." She announced perkily.
"Nick?" Mello raised an eyebrow.
"Er, short for Phoenix Wright. Attorney at law. Um, nice to meet you?" Phoenix offered.
"Riiight." Mello drawled, and took another bite of chocolate. "So what do you want?"
"Well, mostly we just wanted to ask you a few questions, and maybe take a look around." Phoenix explained. Mello nodded.
"Fine, go ahead then."
There was a slight pause as Phoenix tried to think of what, precisely he should ask.
"So, um... where does Matt usually keep his laptop?" Phoenix settled for finally. Mello pointed over to a bed next to the one window in the room.
"Over there, under his bed. He hardly ever takes it out of the room, too, when he uses it he pretty much just sits on his bed." Mello replied. Curious, Phoenix walked over and took a look. The blanket and sheets were tangled, one blanket corner trailing all the way onto the floor. Apparently Matt wasn't the type of person to make his bed in the morning.
"Is there a possibility that anyone might have come into your room one day while you two were gone?" Phoenix asked thoughtfully.
"Sure, I guess." Mello shrugged. "Me and Matt are outside all the time, and like I said he usually leaves his laptop in here. The doors don't have locks on them, for 'safety reasons' or whatever, so it's possible someone could've gotten in. Although," here Mello's face took on a scary expression, "most people would know better than to come in here without permission."
"Er, right." Phoenix grinned somewhat nervously, and kneeled down to take a quick peek under the bed. It was extremely dusty. There was a clear square-shaped patch of carpet that Phoenix assumed was where the laptop normally sat, and... something else. Hoping it wasn't a spider or something, Phoenix reached forward and pulled out... a ring. It was a small gold-colored ring with a dark purple flower-shaped gem on it. "I'm guessing this doesn't belong to you or Matt." Phoenix said, standing up. Mello shook his head.
"Not a chance."
"Thought so... which means this has to belong to whoever used Matt's laptop to frame him!" Phoenix concluded triumphantly. Maya grinned and clapped, but the celebration was cut short.
"Well, duh." Mello rolled his eyes. "It's not like we're old enough to be taking girls to our room, so obviously it would be someone uninvited and, judging by the location, the one who highjacked Matt's laptop. So, do all lawyers have a tendency to state the obvious, or is it just you?"
"There's no need to be rude!" Pearl scolded, placing her hands on her hips. Mello's eyes widened and he stared at Pearl as though he'd never seen anything quite like her before.
"...Anyway!" Phoenix interjected, "I also want to know, is there anyone around who might have a grudge against Matt or something?"
"Sure," Mello answered, transferring his attention back to Phoenix and taking another chomp out of his chocolate bar. "Matt's ranked number three in the orphanage. It's an academic thing. And we're all pretty competitive, so it wouldn't be improbable for someone to try and take Matt out of the orphanage to improve their own ranking. Basically anyone ranked lower than him could have done it. And from the ring you can cut it down to just girls. Plus, it's unlikely that any of the really low rankings would have bothered, since it wouldn't have made a big difference, so you can exclude it to just the first ten rankings after Matt. Which would give you... about six suspects total." Phoenix, Pearl, and Maya all stared. 'I'm not entirely sure I followed all that...' Phoenix thought exasperatedly.
"You're ranked really high, aren't you?" Maya asked brightly.
"Second." Mello growled, viciously biting into his chocolate. "Not for long though, just until I beat that prat Near." There was a long period of awkward silence.
"Here," Mello said finally, walking over to a desk in the corner of the room and pulling out a sheet of notebook paper and a pen. "I'll make a list of possible suspects for you. You should also get that laptop fingerprinted. Most of the kids here are smart enough not to leave behind something like that, but just in case you should get it checked." Mello scribbled on the paper for a few minutes and brought back a list of seven names to Phoenix. "That's their rank and name, don't bother thanking me. Just get out, I have stuff to do."
"Er, ok, great." Phoenix tucked the ring in his pocket and left the room, Maya and Pearl behind him. Mello slammed the door loudly and Phoenix glanced down at the list.
"Alright," Phoenix grinned, folding up the sheet and tucking it into his pocket with the ring. "Lets head down to the police precinct and see if we can get someone to run a fingerprint check on the lap-" Phoenix was cut short by a painfully familiar voice.
"Hey! What're you doing here, pal!?"
A/N: Why does the possibility that I may have just hinted at Pearl/Near not bother me more? xDDD Well, for anyone who didn't think this story was crack... that should put your doubt at rest. REVIEW PLEASE!! I LIVE FOR THE REVIEEEWS!! ...Yeah I'm pathetic... Review anyway!!