Finally, after more than a month of searching for ideas and fighting writers' block, here it is.
For everyone who had been waiting for this last chapter, I will have to apologize.
This chapter is very poorly written (x
To make up for it, this chapter is almost the length of 3 1/2 chapters, with a bit of (failed) fluff in the end :]
I want to sincerely thank everyone who has reviewed and spurred my mind with tons of inspiration-without everyone's criticism and support, I probably wouldn't have finished this story the way I did.
Oh and, I threw an OC in there just for the sake of the trial.
So, I hope you all enjoy the finale! :3
Also, feel free to review on what you thought about the ending. I'd really like to know how people felt about it!
Maya stood stiffly at the witness stand, too embarrassed to turn to the defense table—sure, Apollo was there, but Phoenix was standing next to him.
"Witness, name and occupation," Payne said confidently, his easily shaken confidence back.
She gladly turned to Payne, but shakily replied, "Uh… my name? Let me think… M… Maya F-Fey, Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique… I think." She tapped a finger on her head, trying to get her thoughts in line. What's wrong with me? Every normal person at least knows their name! She pouted at herself, and the word "marriage" blocked her mind of all other thoughts.
Apollo gave her a strange look, but Phoenix gave her a stranger one. What's wrong with Maya…? he thought.
"Hey, Mr. Wright," Apollo said, the strange look on his face now replaced with a silly grin and a hint of pink splashed on his cheeks, "look at this." From his stack of papers, he pulled out the amateurish drawing.
Phoenix had a confused look on his face. "What is this…?" he asked slowly, snatching the paper from Apollo's shaking hand—he was trying to control his laughter.
He looked up at Phoenix and pointed at the paper. "Read it," he urged, "you'll learn soon enough."
Phoenix read the little drawing, and his jaw dropped. He started to shake, but it was more out of embarrassment than laughter. "Justice," he quietly asked, his eyes shining from under his light blue skullcap, "where did you get this?"
Apollo's laughter was quickly swept away, and replaced with a more nervous, scared-looking expression. "Uh, um, that is—"
The judge banged his gavel. "Mr. Justice."
"Y-yes, Your Honor?" he quickly asked, more than happy to avert his attention away from Phoenix.
"Will you be asking the witness any questions?" the judge asked, finally composed and not crying.
Apollo turned a little pink and started to scratch his head. "Um, and may I ask… what do we know so far?"
Payne started to sweat. "A-all we know is the identity of this witness…"
So, he couldn't think of any questions to ask, Apollo said, pulling out his papers like a real professional. "Well then, yes, Your Honor, I have some questions I would like to ask."
Phoenix watched Apollo clear his throat, now surrounded by a new air. I've got to admit, Phoenix thought, a smirk playing upon his face, I must be a little grateful to him. He did keep the wedding under wraps from the court… for now. Phoenix turned to Maya, who didn't look like she was paying any attention to Apollo.
"Ms. Fey," Apollo began, "could you please tell the court about your encounter with Shelly de Killer?"
Maya nodded. "Sure can do, Apollo!" She grinned. However, she still didn't even steal a glance from Phoenix. He groaned.
Everyone's eyes were now on Maya, who was trying to remember everything she could. "Let's see, it all began when I was sitting with Nick in People Park." She paused. "We were in a really heated discussion, so we didn't notice Shelly de Killer walking up to us. But, he did look a little suspicious—he had a hat that practically blocked his face! Oh, and he even had a trench coat on!" She took a breath. "But, I would have to say, there was one thing he said that seemed a bit fishy…"
Almost immediately, Apollo asked, "What did he say?"
Maya hummed as she tried to reminisce about the horrible incident. Suddenly, she pounded her fist into the palm of her hand. "He said something like…" she cleared her throat and did her best Shelly de Killer voice as she said, "'Ms. Fey, things won't go according to plan unless both of you stay alive.' It was something like that."
The judge banged his gavel. "What does this mean?" His eyes were wide open, as if Apollo already knew the answer.
Apollo thought deeply. "Well, Your Honor," he said, "It must mean that the person requesting de Killer's services must be connected to them in a way…"
Maya's eyes lit up. "Hey, I think I just had an idea!" She turned to Apollo and pointed at him. "You might be the reason Nick had to be kidnapped."
Apollo was taken aback. "E-excuse me?" He quickly looked around him—everyone was giving him a look.
"Well, actually, maybe you and Trucy," she explained, ignoring Apollo's beet red face. "You know, it's kind of like what Shelly de Killer did last time. If Nick's life was in danger, de Killer knew you and Trucy would do anything to keep him alive—even get a guilty verdict."
The courtroom was filled with chatter about Maya's clever deduction, and all she did was nod her head continuously and bask in the glory of using her brain.
Phoenix chuckled. We were thinking the exact same thing, he thought, smiling at Maya.
The judge banged his gavel. "So, what was the point of kidnapping you, Ms. Fey?" He stroked his beard as he tried to brainstorm.
Apollo tried thinking of an idea too. And then, it hit him. Wait, what was it that Iris said before? The guard said something about déjà vu…? And he didn't even check the victim's person… That's it! He forcefully slammed his hands on the table. "Your Honor!" he said, his voice booming now.
"Yes, Mr. Justice?" The judge was still trying to think, and it looked like he was hurting himself by doing so.
"I believe that Sister Iris might have some vital information to share with us," he urged, trying his best to sound convincing.
Payne screeched. "W-why would you think that?" His voice softened near the end of his question; he sounded too nervous to handle the case anymore.
Apollo turned to Payne. "According to Sister Iris, the guard present during her arrest forgot to do something vital during the time of the murder."
The judge nodded. "As the judge, I must explore every possibility of new information being found." He turned his head to Apollo. "But are you sure you would like to call the defendant to the stand? She looks a bit nervous…"
Phoenix and Apollo turned to look at Iris, who did not look pretty; she was practically chewing her fingernails off.
"Iris…?" Phoenix asked slowly. "Are you alright?"
She flinched. "O-oh, I'm fine, Fee—Phoenix, just a bit jittery."
Again, the judge nodded. "The court calls Sister Iris to the stand!"
Iris slowly got up, and replaced Maya's spot. But unlike Maya, she kept her eyes glued on Phoenix.
"Name and occupation," Apollo anxiously said; he wanted to get over the formalities.
"I am Sister Iris and I'm a shrine maiden at Hazakura Temple." She finally took her eyes off Phoenix, and her let out a breath.
"I need you to tell us about the time of the murder, in detail," Apollo said, quickly digging through his stack of papers for the correct one.
Iris fidgeted a bit. "A-ah, yes, of course," she said as she cleared her throat. "I was sitting in the jail cafeteria eating lunch with a woman I had seen around before, but we never really talked. I didn't really talk to her, and she looked like she was about to talk to me, but instead she took a bite of her food. Suddenly, she took a sip of her coffee and collapsed."
Everyone started to murmur nervously around the courtroom, and even the judge muttered, "I can tell this is getting complicated…"
Apollo turned to Iris, who was getting tense at the stand. When he got the attention of his client, he cued her to just continue with her testimony. She nodded, and turned to the judge. "Your Honor, may I continue?"
The judge nodded. "Of course, go right ahead."
After everyone settled down, she started her testimony again. "So, as I was saying, she collapsed. I stood up in shock, but an old-looking officer quickly apprehended me, but not after quickly examining the table. Another officer tried feeling the pulse of the woman, but she was already dead…" She started to look down, as if trying to suppress an unsavory memory.
"Uh, Sister Iris," the judge said, his eyes widening in curiosity, "is there a problem?"
Iris flinched. "Um, no, Your Honor… I'll carry on." She took a deep breath. "The old officer told me that he needed to execute a body search for anything suspicious, but…" she shuddered. "He… he…"
Apollo spoke up. "What happened, witness? What did he do?"
Iris stuttered, "I-I don't know if it was intentional, but…" she looked up, with tears bubbling in her eyes. "He seemed like he was enjoying searching my body."
The courtroom stirred; the judge banged his gavel immediately. "Order! Order!" he turned to Iris in surprise. "Witness, are you insinuating that that officer…"
"Yes, he was taking his time searching me, and he liked it very much. It was almost like he had a glint in his eye…" Iris looked down. "And even though I wasn't in possession of anything that could be remotely suspicious, they arrested me in suspicion about the poisoning."
Apollo thought out loud, "That can't be right…" He looked at Phoenix. "… Right?"
"Absolutely right," Phoenix said, turning to the judge.
The judge nodded. "I agree with the defense. Mr. Payne."
"Y-yes?" Payne said, getting a bit nervous again.
"I need for you to summon this witness right away. I will issue a 30 minute recess, and I expect you to get this officer during that time period," the judge demanded, giving Payne a look that told him "You better not screw this up!"
Payne looked down and sighed. "Y-yes, Your Honor…"
The judge nodded. "Good. Court is adjourned for a 30 minute recess!" He banged his gavel, and the swarms of people in the courtroom flooded out.
Apollo, Trucy, Pearl, Phoenix, Iris, and Maya all anxiously walked to the defendant lobby to talk about the development.
As Phoenix shut the door, he said, "I trust the two of you to remain quiet about this." He turned to Trucy and Apollo.
Trucy hopped up to Phoenix and pulled him to Maya. "Daddy, I can't believe you finally found me a new mommy!" She hugged both of them tightly. The only thing Apollo did was slowly nod his head, feeling awkward just standing there.
Maya turned red. "Ah, y-yeah, um, about that…" She looked at Pearl. "Pearly doesn't know yet."
Pearl bit her thumb nail and stood there, trying to piece together what they could be talking about. "Mystic Maya," she said, still thinking, "Could it be…" She put her hands on her cheeks and gave Phoenix and Maya an endearing look. "I have been right all this time?"
Phoenix turned to Maya with a nervous look. He jerked his head in Pearl's direction, gesturing her that she was the one who would tell Pearl the good news. Maya gulped.
She strode towards her cousin awkwardly, almost robotically. "Uh, Pearly," Maya said, forcing a smile on her face, "you know how we got taken hostage?"
Pearl vigorously nodded her head, her eyes sparkling with eagerness.
"Well, during that time… I sort of had a realization. " Maya closed her eyes and tried to feel her burning cheeks. "It was partially what Sis told me; she told me that if I really, really, really, really, really, reeeally, reeeeeally—"
"So you love him?" Apollo said, a bit of disbelief in his face.
Phoenix and Maya both glared at him, and he stopped talking.
"Like Apollo said, I… love Nick." Maya said, taking in a very deep breath.
Ouch, Phoenix thought. What an unnecessary pause…
"And Sis said," Maya continued, "that if I really love him, and if I really want to marry him, I had to take the initiative and just go for it."
Pearl and Trucy simultaneously chimed, "Awwww!"
Maya quickly turned red and said, "W-well, maybe we should focus on the trial. I mean, come on Apollo. You've been neglecting your client."
Everyone turned to Iris, who was sitting on the couch, dozing off. Poor thing, Apollo thought, giving her a sympathetic look. She must be worn out. He shook his head. "Actually," Apollo said, turning to the crowd of people, "This is starting to make sense to me…" He quickly pulled out a random piece of paper and flipped it over. "Mr. Wright, can you sketch out what Shelly de Killer's insignia is?" He held out a pen to Phoenix.
Phoenix quickly grabbed the paper and placed the pen nib on it. "Ah, I see where you're getting at, Apollo. Now, if I remember correctly…" Phoenix started to sketch out what seemed to be a shell, and handed it back to Apollo.
"Hopefully," Apollo said with a big sigh, "we can finish this case quickly." He straightened out his stack of papers.
"And then…" Pearl began, putting her hands on her cheeks. She looked adoringly at Phoenix and Maya, who were standing close to each other.
Maya blushed, and Phoenix chuckled. "Pearly, um, you're making me blush."
As Phoenix just laughed, Trucy shoved him closer to Maya. Then, his face turned completely red. "Daddy," Trucy teased, "I knew you would blush too!" She giggled.
Great, Phoenix thought, I'm made a fool by every female on the planet. He facepalmed, and the bailiff awkwardly walked into the crowded room.
"The trial will be reconvening soon," he quietly said, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone in the room. "You should start walking over there…" He quickly stepped out, and everyone started to once again flood the courtroom.
Soon, everyone quieted down as a shady-looking man approached the witness stand. He stepped up there, and looked expectantly at the judge. "Well?" he snapped. "What are you waiting for? Your head's not going to get any shinier." The man then crudely looked at Phoenix and remarked, "Hmm, didn't know they let bums sleep in here too."
This guy, Phoenix thought, better not be the witness…
Apollo balled his fists and glared at the shady man. "Let me guess. You're—"
"The witness, what does it look like I am?" he yelled, wildly turning his head side to side to make people turn away. He then saw one person sitting nervously in the audience—Maya. He calmed down and gave her a very strange look; he looked at her with tranquil, but wild, fearful eyes.
Maya shuddered. "Do… do I know him…?" she asked, turning to Pearl.
Pearl shrugged. "Do you recognize him, Mystic Maya?" Trucy leaned closer, curious as to where the conversation would lead.
Maya stared at the man. "He looks… so familiar… almost like…"
Apollo said, "Witness, we're going to need your name and occupation, if you don't—"
"Of course I mind, you nitwit!" the man countered, putting on a hideous scowl.
The judge banged his gavel. "Witness! Just state your name and occupation, now," he demanded.
The man grumbled to himself, and then turned to the defense bench. As he scanned the faces of the defense, his eyes rested on Iris, who in turn looked particularly scared. He mouthed "you" and quickly turned to the judge. "Well," he slowly started to say. He was finally cooperating.
Wait… Apollo thought. One look at Iris and he's ready to cooperate? What's this guy's problem? He paid close attention to the shady man for his name.
"I don't really like giving out my information, but…" he said, still very slowly.
Maya was still thinking. He looks so familiar! It's almost like I've seen him around Kurain… Maya gasped. "Pearl!" she said in a panicky tone as she started to shake her cousin. "I know who he is!"
Pearl's and Trucy's eyes widened. "W-who is he, Mystic Maya?" Pearl questioned.
Maya looked uneasily at the man. "He's…" Maya said, her voice getting a bit shaky, "he's…"
"My name," he continued hesitantly, "is…" At this point his eyes were darting swiftly from Maya and Iris.
"Pearl," Maya said, biting her lip. "That man is…"
"Ray Carroll," he finally said. He pulled out a cigarette, but the bailiff quickly confiscated it, and pointed to a sign he was standing next to, which stated, "NO SMOKING".
Maya almost flinched, and Pearl blinked. "Mystic Maya, I've never heard of him."
Maya cringed, and slowly looked down. "That's a good thing, Pearly," she whispered. "He's a very bad person."
Trucy popped her head into the conversation now. "Maya, can you just tell us how you know him? The suspense is killing me!"
Maya inhaled. "Pearly, remember all those times when our aunts would tell you to just stay inside and watch Steel Samurai with me a few years ago?"
Pearl nodded slowly, unsure of where the conversation would lead.
"Well, they were hiding you from this man. Uncle Carroll."
Pearl cocked her head to the side. "But, why, Mystic Maya? If he's our uncle, we should be welcoming him! Yet, you look so scared…"
Maya laughed nervously. "Pearly, he's not… the best uncle you could ask for… he's actually near one of the worst. Trust me."
Pearl just nodded and they turned their attention back to the trial.
"Ray… Carroll?" Apollo asked, quite unfamiliar with the name. Apollo thought, I thought that he would at least be someone I know…
"Yeah, RAY CARROLL. You asked for me, so don't act like you don't know me!" Ray snapped, and he banged his fist angrily on the stand. His eyes still continued to dart from Maya to Iris. They both tried to avoid his gaze.
At this point Phoenix was glaring at Ray. Why is he looking at Maya like that…? I can't stand it, he thought furiously.
Payne started to groan, and complained, "Witness, can you please just start your testimony?" He tried to run his fingers through his hair.
"Yes," Apollo backed up, "Can you stop complaining and testify on what you did when you came in contact with my client?"
Ray angrily grumbled, and finally agreed with a huff. "Alright, alright!" He cleared his throat, and started to talk. "I'm guessing you're talking about that girl that's looking a bit terrified right now. She should be terrified! She's a murderer, after all!"
The court did not stir, but instead, everyone held their breath.
"Let's see…" he said, scratching his chin. "Ah! I remember. This girl, she killed another inmate of hers, with poison, no less. And, when I saw the victim choking, I was the first officer to rush over there and apprehend this girl right here."
"Mr. Carroll," Apollo interrupted, "My client mentioned something about you saying 'Déjà vu'."
The judge widened his eyes. "Déjà vu? But how…?"
Ray scoffed. "What? None of you have heard about that poisoning in this courthouse before?"
From the corner of Maya's eye, she thought she saw Pearl twitch. But, it wasn't Pearl; it was Mia. She was also gritting her teeth. "Sis…?" Maya said almost silently.
Ray continued to let himself blather about the poisoning. "This girl, well… her sister poisoned a defense attorney in this very courthouse."
The courtroom had a low buzz emanating from it, and Apollo and Phoenix didn't like it.
"Now, her sister got off, but then she went and tried committing more murders. Now, if you knew of a sick person like that, wouldn't you be worried about that person's twin sister?"
The courtroom let out in a rage of murmurs and whispers.
"My thoughts exactly."
"Maybe… Maybe she really did kill that woman…"
"Yeah, for once, that old geezer spouted out something logical."
"Tch…" Mia said, turning to Maya. "That's Uncle Carroll?" Maya nodded with a serious look on her face. "Look, I know he's guilty." Mia looked back at her uncle and grimaced. "If you knew why he would have you kidnapped too, and why he would blame Iris, it actually makes sense."
Maya raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "What are you talking about, Sis?"
Apollo yelled, "The defendant's family ties have nothing to do with what we're considering!"
The judge didn't nod—but he didn't shake his head either. "I'm very confused… Mr. Justice, what was the relevance of bringing in this witness again?"
"We need to know why he arrested Iris…" he said. But he already told us, and it stirred up the court. "And…" he pulled a paper from his stack. "He was touching Iris… uh… inappropriately."
Ray yelled, "What do you mean, I was touching her 'inappropriately'?" he said angrily, pulling on the gloves he was wearing.
"Witness," Payne uttered, "were you or were you not searching the witness's body?"
"I sure did," Ray replied haughtily. "You have to perform a body search if you want to see if the person is hiding anything, right?"
Apollo started to sweat. "Uh, well that doesn't mean you have to, you know, enjoy it…"
The judge banged his gavel. "Mr. Justice, I don't think this person is bringing us any closer to light. In fact, he is making your case even worse. Ray Carroll, you are free to leave with Mr. Payne's discretion."
Ray started to mutter angrily to himself, as Payne said, "Okay, witness, you're free to go…"
"Mr. Payne, if you will, please call your next—"
"HOLD IT, PAL!" said Gumshoe, who slammed open the door to the courtroom. "I've got some really important testimony, Your Honor!"
The judge widened his eyes, and just stared as Gumshoe ran up to the stand. "Chief detective…?"
Gumshoe stood happily at the stand. "Turns out, Your Honor, the police found a spot outside of the jailhouse that ties in reaaaal close with this case," he huffed out of excitement.
Apollo turned to Phoenix. "Is he talking about that building next to the burger joint?"
Phoenix didn't turn to Apollo, but instead looked straight ahead. "It could be… But how does it even remotely tie in…?"
"The police have been keeping an eye out on this building near a regular old burger joint," Gumshoe explained with a wide grin on his face.
"What does this have to do with our case?" Payne asked skeptically.
Gumshoe laughed. "Don't underestimate me, pal, I'm the chief of the precinct!" He turned to Phoenix and Apollo. "That building the police and I were investigating, there were some shady deals going on there."
Phoenix raised an eyebrow and asked, "What do you mean, ''shady deals'?"
"You're curious, pal?" Gumshoe asked. "Well, I'll tell you. They sell all kinds of illegal things there on certain days of certain months. But they mostly sell drugs and chemicals that shouldn't be sold in stores."
"For example, let's say, some lethal poison?" Apollo asked, finally starting to get the picture.
Gumshoe replied, "Exactly, pal!"
The courtroom stirred, until the judge banged his gavel again. "I see! So, this is where you're going, Chief Detective!"
"And to top it off," Gumshoe said, "it seemed there were some shady deals going down on the day right before the murder in that building!"
Apollo smirked. This is shedding a lot of light on things we didn't know… Now, to just find the culprit!
The judge widened his eyes. "I see! Do you have anything else to add?"
Gumshoe thought for a moment, then replied, "Oh yeah, there's something I forgot to mention!"
The courtroom braced itself for the next piece of information Gumshoe would present to them.
"Like I said, pal, there was obviously something shady going on there the day before the murder," Gumshoe tried to persuade. "And it looks like it wasn't friendly. We got forensics check for any clues and it looked like someone got stabbed there. Maybe it was the client…?"
"I don't see why the drug dealers would have to harm their own client though," the judge refuted while shaking his head.
Apollo was poking at his forehead while he tried to figure out some possibilities. "Well, Your Honor," Apollo started, "what if the client was harmful or even dangerous to the drug dealers? It's possible if the client was a police officer or something…"
"OBJECTION!" Payne screeched, trying to keep his composure. "Y-you can't just blame the witness like that! That's baseless!"
"OBJECTION!" Apollo yelled back, "I'm not referring to Chief Detective Gumshoe, Mr. Payne."
"Then just who are you referring to, Mr. Justice?" the judge asked, leaning in a bit out of eagerness.
Phoenix smirked. He practically has this case in the palm of his hand now, he thought.
"Of course, I'm referring to…" he slammed his hands on the desk. "Ray Carroll!"
Payne and the courtroom found this accusation to be very shocking, and as the courtroom buzzed uncontrollably, Payne screamed.
The judge banged his gavel over and over again. "Order! Order! I will remove any person in this courtroom who dares disturb the peace again! Mr. Justice! Please explain this to the court immediately!"
Apollo nodded his head. With a confident smirk on his face, he replied, "All the questions you have will be answered right after we call back Ray Carroll."
Payne interrupted and said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Justice, but we've already sent him back to where he was…"
The judge banged his gavel anyway. "Mr. Payne, get Ray Carroll back into this courtroom immediately! If he's under the slightest suspicion, we can't let him get away!"
Luckily, it just so happened that Ray had been sitting in the audience, and as people started to stare at him, he grimaced. "Go ahead, Uncle Carroll," Mia said in a disgusted tone.
Maya pushed him along. "Come on, dear Uncle, the judge is calling!" Ray bit his lip angrily and trudged back to the witness stand.
"Wait…" Phoenix said, with a bit on confusion on his face. "Maya, Mia, this guy's your uncle?"
They both nodded, and Ray bit his lip even harder. It even seemed like he was sweating.
Now that I've established a connection with the Fey family and this guy, something important it bound to turn up… Apollo thought, getting determined to save Iris.
Ray again tried to act arrogant, but couldn't—he started to stutter. "O-okay, this is the last time I'm g-going to testify! If I have to after this…"
Apollo shook his head. "Don't worry, Mr. Carroll," he assured, "we won't need your testimony after this."
Ray growled, but Apollo just casually shuffled his papers. "We're going to need to know what you were doing the day before the murder," Apollo said, "and after, we're going to have to ask you a few more questions."
The judge nodded his head in agreement. "Witness, you may start your testimony."
Mia turned to Maya. "Maya, this is it. This will shed light on everything."
Maya looked at her sister. "Why's that, Mia?"
She turned to look at their uncle. "Well, I talked to the spirit of the victim in this case." She sighed, and quietly continued to speak. "It turns out we're related to her too—she's our aunt, and Uncle Carroll's ex-wife."
"Please tell us what you did when you saw the other inmate dying from poison," Apollo instructed.
Instead of countering what Apollo said with an insult, he cooperated. "Look, you know everything already; I checked the table for anything suspicious, and then I checked the defendant there—"
"And you didn't check the victim?" Apollo questioned. At this, Ray gulped.
"OBJECTION!" Payne said. "He's… he's badgering the witness, Your Honor!"
The judge ignored him, and instead stayed silent to listen for Ray's response.
Ray shakily responded, "Uh… I knew the other officers would go straight to checking the victim, so I went to get the only other person at the table…"
"And did they find anything?" Apollo asked.
Ray gulped again, and tugged at his leather gloves. "N-no…"
Apollo continued. "Did you have any connection whatsoever to the victim?"
Ray stopped, and started to sweat profusely. "She… she was my ex-wife."
The courtroom again stirred crazily until the judge banged his gavel. "Witness! I think that this kind of thing would be something to inform us about as soon as possible!" the judge scolded. Ray groaned, and started to fan himself.
He's cracking, Apollo thought confidently. "Witness, is it true you are related in one way or another to the Fey Clan?" Reluctantly, Ray nodded. "So, is it safe to assume you know the current master of the Kurain Channeling Technique, Maya Fey?"
As Phoenix furiously eyeballed him, Ray replied, "Yeah, yeah, I know her. So what?"
Maya turned to her sister. "This makes him a possible suspect now, right?"
"Exactly." Mia replied.
"I just have one question, witness," the judge interrupted.
"What?" Ray snapped.
"Why didn't you inform anyone about your relationship with the victim? You know, now that we know this, it makes your behavior kind of suspicious…" the judge said. "I mean, if my wife died in front of me, I'd be more concerned about her than the one who could have done it."
Ray got tense. Then, he quickly said, "You know, if my boss knew I had family in jail, I could get fired." He again tugged on his gloves.
"Apollo, he's got a motive," Phoenix said sternly.
Apollo nodded, and started to state the facts. "This man was the victim's ex-husband, so he's related to the Fey Clan. He never told anyone about his ex-wife for the sake of his job… and he apprehended Iris instead of even checking on her… Like he already knew she was going to die and didn't care." Then, he looked up at Ray again. "Wait, witness, why did you check the table? Was there something there you needed?"
Ray pulled tightly on his gloves. "W-what are you talking about? I never… I never checked the table!"
Hmm… Apollo thought, staring intensely at Ray, I was right. My bracelet's been going crazy for a reason. What was it that Iris said? One of his hands was 'stiff and rough'? And he keeps tugging on that one glove… "Witness, please relax," Apollo coaxed. "You're going to stretch out those gloves if you keep tugging on them."
At this, Ray tugged his gloves even more. "What are you talking about? I'm not—"
"You pull on your gloves every time we mention something that gets you edgy," Apollo explained. "Please, for the sake of calming your nerves, can you please take off those gloves?"
Ray flinched. He didn't say anything back.
Phoenix turned to Apollo. "What's this about taking off his gloves…?" he inquired.
"I'm perceiving his nervous habit," Apollo replied, "and I think he's hiding something in those gloves of his." He turned back to Ray. "Go on then, it's not like you have nothing to hide."
Ray scowled, and the judge urged him, "Witness, for the sake of this trial, can you take off your gloves? I don't know where this is going, but…"
Angrily, Ray tore off his gloves and threw on the witness stand. "Here!" he shouted, "I took off my damn gloves!"
Apollo smirked. "Gotcha." He walked over to the witness stand and snatched the gloves.
"H-hey! What are you…" Ray started, but he stopped as a white card fell out from one of the gloves.
Apollo grabbed the card, and compared it with the drawing Phoenix had made for him earlier. "Ray Carroll," Apollo said, "we've got you now!" Apollo held the card up in the air for everyone to see. On the white card was a pink design of a shell—it was Shelly de Killer's sign.
The judge nearly fell out of his seat. "Mr. Justice! Please present this to the court! What is the meaning of this?" Ray was about to run up to Apollo and attack him, but the bailiff and a police officer quickly apprehended him.
"Gladly, Your Honor," Apollo said. He quickly cleared his throat. "Let's review the facts, shall we? Ray Carroll is a middle-aged police officer. His ex-wife was a woman of the Fey Clan. Because of his ties to the Fey Clan, he knew of the women of Fey Clan, which gave him a connection to Maya." He turned to Ray. "Now, I'm guessing his wife was put in jail for some reason, and the secret of them being married was in jeopardy of getting out. So, what did he have to do? Of course, he had to get rid of her, for the sake of his job." He played with the card in his hand. "He sought the help of Shelly de Killer, and he agreed to pay for the assassination of his wife. So, he went to meet Shelly de Killer the day before the murder at the building near the burger joint, and if Chief Detective Gumshoe's theory is correct, Ray Carroll should have a stab wound somewhere on his body."
The bailiff and police officer quickly removed Ray's uniform shirt to find his shoulder in a bandage. "Hey! You can't—" Ray protested.
Apollo continued. "So, he gave Shelly de Killer the poison he wanted to be used to kill his wife. Somehow, de Killer got the victim's coffee laced and she died. When he saw her collapsing, he took the initiative and rushed over to the table, sure that de Killer would leave a card somewhere. After quickly scanning the table, he snatched it when no one was looking and took Iris under custody."
"The only thing we don't know," Phoenix started, "was why he had to kidnap Maya."
"You might as well confess," Apollo demanded. "You're practically guilty."
Ray twitched for a moment, and then started to fizz at the mouth. Trashing everywhere, he fell on his knees and confessed. First, he looked at Maya. "Maya… Maya was a beautiful woman. Even more beautiful than my wife. But not as beautiful as Dahlia. Of course, that's why I wanted to marry Dahlia. My wife wouldn't have it, so I left her." He fell to the ground, his mouth still fizzing. "I worked at the courthouse one day, and I saw Dahlia. I was about to approach her, but I saw that she… she was poisoning the coffee of the man across from her. I couldn't believe it—my perfect angel Dahlia almost killed someone. But, I got used to the fact, and gave up on her."
"You liked Dahlia?" Phoenix yelled. "You're at least double her age!" He stared at Ray in complete and utter repulsion.
"But you haven't explained why you kidnapped me," Maya said from the gallery.
Ray started to laugh maniacally now. "Oh, I'll get there, don't worry." He looked at Iris with lustful eyes. "I knew of Iris as well—I was planning on getting married with her too. But my wife got arrested for who knows what, and when I was watching over her cell one day, she begged for me back. If I didn't take her back, she would tell everyone of our failed marriage and cost me my job. So what did I do? I called de Killer." He licked his lips and started to cackle now. "Everything you said was right, I got stabbed. But, we decided to carry on with the assassination. So, I was standing near the cafeteria and de Killer was posing as a server there. He served my ex some coffee, but not without placing his card under the mug. So, when the hag collapsed, I got over there to take the card—I knew that since Iris was sitting with her, she'd be the perfect target to take the blame. So, I gave up on marrying Iris too."
"But, what does this have to do with me?" Maya asked, her voice shaking a little.
Ray's bugging eyes turned to Maya, which made her shudder a little. "I paid de Killer the next day," he explained, "and you were my last option. I was going to have him kidnap you so we could get married. Wouldn't that have been wonderful?" He started to laugh uncontrollably, and the bailiff and officer quickly escorted him out.
Then, the courtroom was deadly silent, until Apollo shyly scratched his head, and asked, "So, um, Your Honor, is this case closed?"
The judge sighed. "This took an exponential amount of time, Mr. Justice, but I suppose it was worth it. Well done. Mr. Payne, see to it that Ray Carroll is correctly arrested."
Payne trudged out the door and weakly replied, "Y-yes, Your Honor."
"Now," the judge said, "I declare the defendant, Sister Iris,"
It was the day after the trial, and the two engaged to each other had woken up from a night of great celebration first. Everyone had stayed at Phoenix's house to celebrate Apollo's big win, and everyone stayed up well past five in the morning. As Phoenix walked into the kitchen, Maya greeted him with a "Mornin', Nick." She gave him a warm smile as she watched the Steel Samurai on the television.
He stretched, and replied, "Good morning, Maya."
Without looking at him, Maya said, "Oh yeah, thanks for letting Pearly and me stay here. We ran out of cash so we had to leave the hotel." She laughed, but didn't take her eyes off of the television.
Phoenix sighed. We're still acting casual. Isn't it supposed to become more intimate when you marry someone…? He took a seat right next to her and placed an arm around her.
Maya blushed, and quickly turned to him. "H-hey Nick… Um… What's up?"
Phoenix got closer to her face. His face was red as he said, "Um… I thought I should do this… since we're getting married and all."
Maya continued to stare at him, and said back. "Oh, yeah. We should be a lot closer now, huh?"
"Yeah," he replied, "I think so."
They didn't say anything for a while, until Maya said, "So, since we're this close, don't you think we should…" she looked down, as her face turned a deep red, "I don't know, um…"
"Kiss?" Phoenix said, his face turning an even deeper red too.
Maya quickly looked at him, and fidgeted with her robes. "Um, yeah."
Maya looked up at him, and caught eye contact with him. She lifted her face closer and closer, until Phoenix touched lips with her. They stayed in this position of locked lips until they heard the clatter of something on the floor.
Maya quickly turned to see where the noise came from, her face tomato red. The clatter was the Magatama she always wore, and Pearl and Trucy were staring straight at them.
Maya quickly jumped off the chair she was sitting on and ran to Pearl. "Oh no, Pearly, you shouldn't have seen that… Um, are you okay…?" she asked, feeling extremely awkward.
Pearl turned to Trucy with her hands on her cheeks. "I told you they were each other's special someone!" She looked at Maya with very sparkly eyes. "Go ahead, Mystic Maya! Do more things like that with Mr. Nick!" She pushed Maya to Phoenix, and they were both a bit astonished.
Trucy giggled. "Pearl, maybe we should watch them!" she said as she started to sit on the floor.
Pearl lit up. "Why, that's a great idea!" She sat on the floor as well. "Well, come on, Mr. Nick! Kiss Mystic Maya again!"
Do they really expect me to start kissing Maya again…? Phoenix wondered, not moving.
Maya and Phoenix stayed frozen in place, until Pearl realized they didn't like to be watched. "Oh, Trucy, I guess they don't like being watched while they do these things."
Trucy snapped her fingers. "Aww, fine. Let's go back, Pearl."
Phoenix and Maya didn't move until they heard that they were back in the room they both slept in.
Maya sighed. "That was really uncomfortable!" She sat next to Phoenix again, and put her head on his shoulder. This time, she seemed a bit more relaxed.
"We're going to have to watch out for those two," he laughed, placing his hand on her shoulder. He was more relaxed too.
They laughed for a little bit, until Maya said, "Um… About that kiss…" She was turning a little pink in the cheeks again.
Phoenix's cheeks were turning pink too. "What about it?"
"That was our first one, huh," she said, sighing.
Phoenix chuckled pathetically. "Yeah." He turned his face toward her. "You'd think we'd have done a lot more things together, since we're getting married and all."
They were quiet again, until Maya piped up and bluntly asked, "So do you want to kiss again?"
He laughed and replied, "Actually, I do."
Phoenix leaned in for another kiss, and as they were about to make contact, they heard another clatter. As they looked up at who it was this time, it was Apollo—he had dropped his bracelet.
The engaged couple stared angrily at him as he nervously asked, "Oh… Um, did I come at a bad time?"