Order In The Court: Part XXXI

Urahara removed the Hougyoku from Rukia with no difficulty. Possibly having Ichigo, Renji, and Kuchiki Byakuya standing over him with hands on sword hilts helped him concentrate.

Once that was done, Rukia walked over and kicked Urahara in the shins.

"It is only due to the dignity of the Kuchiki," she said coldly, "that I do not kick higher."

"Ow," said Urahara.

"So," Phoenix said. He stuck his hands in his pockets. "It's been good seeing you again. Working with you again. Properly, I mean, not with you being channelled. But now --"

Mia patted him on the shoulder. "Stop worrying," she said. "I'm staying here."

"You're what?" Phoenix yelped.

"They've decided to reorganise the legal system. I think that Yamamoto's taking advantage of the sudden change in the 46 to push a few reforms through. I'm not the only one who's staying. So are Godot and von Karma."

Phoenix blinked. "Von Karma? He's staying?"

"He says he wants to take charge of Aizen's prosecution personally." Mia shrugged. "Don't worry. Godot and I will keep an eye on him."

"Will you be all right?" Phoenix finally said.

"Of course I will." Mia hugged him. "And you'd better take care of yourself, too, or I'll be back to find out why."

Nemu had cornered Klavier Gavin. "The Shinigami Women's Association requests and requires your presence for a photoshoot," she said calmly.

"Oh good," Apollo said, sidling towards the door. "Then I'll just be off and --"

"You are also required," Nanao said, blocking the way out.

Apollo turned pink. "Me?"

"It was my idea!" Trucy said, bouncing up and down on her toes. "I think it'll be a marvellous calendar with you both in it . . ."

Klavier flung an arm round Apollo's shoulders. "Lie back and enjoy it, Herr Forehead. Who knows? You may like it."

"I hear that Dahlia Hawthorne's sentence has already been passed," Edgeworth said.

Franziska nodded. "She was going to be executed, but one of the Captains put in an appeal for clemency."

"Not the womaniser in the pink kimono!" Edgeworth said, horrified.

Franziska smiled. "No. Captain Unohana. Of Fourth Division. I believe the terms of the sentence involve penal servitude in Fourth Division for life."

Edgeworth thought about that. "And just how long does life last, here?"

"Precisely," Franziska said.

"Well," Ichigo said to his reunited team. "We did sort of succeed, I guess . . ."

"Of course we did!" Orihime declared. "And we found the villains who were behind it all and we saved Kuchiki and sorted out Urahara and --" She trailed off, waving her arms incoherently.

Chad nodded. "We did what needed doing."

"Don't tell me you wanted some sort of dramatic fight to resolve the whole thing?" Ishida asked, with what Ichigo felt was unnecessary sarcasm.

"I wouldn't have minded the chance to kick Kuchiki Byakuya around the block a few times," Ichigo mumbled. "I suppose I just feel . . . sort of unnecessary."

"But none of this would have happened if you hadn't come here to rescue Kuchiki!" Orihime pointed out. "And we've made lots of new friends! Captain Zaraki was just asking me earlier when he could see you again --"

"Excuse me," Ichigo said. "Got to see a cat about an exit."

"It's so romantic," Maya sighed.

"What is?" Phoenix said, already dreading the response.

"Captain Kuchiki told Kuchiki Rukia all about how he was married to her sister and swore to protect her and how he was glad it hadn't come to a situation where he'd have been forced to choose between his promise and his duty and how he respects her even more now and they're going to talk and everything and --"

"Wouldn't that have been a private sort of conversation?" Phoenix asked.

"Well, it would have been," Maya said, "except that he did it in front of everyone in front of the Scaffold while he was holding her in his arms after throwing himself in front of her to save her from Aizen . . ."

"It's so very romantic," Pearl agreed, sighing. "I bet you'd do something like that if Mystic Maya needed your help, wouldn't you, Mr Nick?"

Phoenix swallowed. "Look! There's Captain Ukitake with candy for you!"

The best thing about that, he reflected as he walked away, was that it got rid of both girls.

Later that day, there was waving and saying of goodbyes.

"I owe you my thanks," Hitsugaya said, shaking people's hands in a manly and adult manner. "You saved me from the death penalty, and --"

Pearl squeaked and hugged him.

"Will someone please explain that I am over fifty years old and a Captain of the Gotei 13," Hitsugaya muttered.

Mia and Maya were hugging, Phoenix and Godot were shaking hands, von Karma was delivering instructions to Franziska and Edgeworth about perfect conviction rates, Apollo and Klavier were receiving a set of brown paper envelopes from Nanao and Nemu . . .

. . . and the sun slowly set in the west, as the attorneys walked through the gateway back to the world of the living.

"Don't worry," Aizen said. "I intend to handle my own defense."