Disclaimer: I don't own Phoenix Wright, or any of the following characters. Capcom will not cede ownership of them not matter how much I object. XD

And After

The verdict is finalised with the three bangs of the gavel and, while the crowd is cheering, he feels his knees start to buckle.

He has done it.

The girl smiles at him and comes up to thank him; he smiles in return. His mask is flawless.

Later that night, when he returns to the office, the shadows are cold. The dark is welcoming.

It has been all cleaned up. No more glass shards, no more scattered soil from the plant, no more Mia.

His heart leaps up in his throat.

No more Mia.

It plays over and over like a nightmarish carnival song.

No more Mia.


He raises his head, and only then realises where he is sitting. Emotions grip him harder, but the girl before him seems even younger than she was a few scant hours before.

"I-I-I wanted to thank you."

His mouth is dry. He realizes she is as shocked as he is.

He forces another smile, but it's cracked and so painful.

"Nick…why are you…where…where my sister…was found…?"

He understands how odd it must be, and yet, he can feel her – can feel Mia – from this position. Even if it is the spot where she was killed.

Perhaps because of it.

"Nick…" She is kneeling before him, and suddenly, he can glimpse Mia in some far recess of her eyes. "She…she's really gone isn't she?"

He doesn't have the strength to tell her that he has been fighting the same conclusion; so when she slumps forward he merely catches her.

They are alone, together.

"It's…it's gonna be alright." He says awkwardly, because he is not used to closeness, and because Mia never cried.

The girl burrows harder into his chest, her soft sobs resound through his entire body, and before he knows it, his arms are surging with the need to comfort her.

Holding her close, he hides his face in her hair. She is so young, too young for such grief. Dimly he recalls she has lost her mother, as well, and his heart tightens further.

"She's gone, Nick." She says with that heavy finality he hates. Her voice sounds so much older.

"She's gone." He says softly, and lets himself fall. All the strength he has mustered for the trial, all the reasoning, disappears with those words. Maya's tears are hot against his chilled skin, and he is holding her so tightly he can no longer tell is it is her sobs, or his own that are shaking his body.

The night spins its shadows around them, pulling them into slumber.

A woman walks in softly. Crouching, she gently brushes the sleeping girl's hair, and places a small kiss on it.

Her eyes move to the man, who even in his sleep cannot stop his tears. She is touched, grateful and saddened all at the same time.

"Thank you for taking good care of her." She whispers softly. "I entrust her to you. You will make a great brother, I know." Brushing her lips across his forehead in passing, she allows herself another smile.

Taking one last glance at them, she bows her head in resignation. When the morning comes, she knows they will be alright.

With a final smile, she melts into the air.