A letter from the Author:
Having no prior experience in these sorts of shenanigans, I'm going to assume that my story here has been told a thousand times, in one form or another, by various writers for this website and many others, using similar but not identical characters/characterizations to the ones I've chosen, and using similar but not identical plot devices. I assume there have been a thousand stories using my exact premise, written at various points in the past, by rationales far nobler than my own. I assume there have been a thousand stories told using these conventions, told by writers far more talented than myself.
This is going to be the thousand-and-first telling.
Screw you, that's why.
Xirema the Untalented
Haruhi Fujioka, 23 years old, rolled over in bed to reach the alarm clock, whose incessant screeching was now threatening to steal the sanity she'd worked so hard to establish in her life. This maneuver was made all the more difficult by Tamaki, who had managed to somehow wrap himself around her overnight, and Antoinette, who was curled above the covers atop the both of them, still asleep and occasionally making soft growling noises.
Managing to get a firm grasp upon the infernal device, Haruhi silenced it and began to wriggle herself out of Tamaki's grasp. Unable to process any thought more complex than 'Walk', 'Shower', 'Dress', she made her way for the bathroom, shrugging her nightgown before entering.
The shower offered a brief opportunity to wake up and consider her current lot in life. She ought to be considerably more excited. Today would be her first day working for the Prefecture Law Firm. This was, quite literally, what she'd spent the last eight years of her life preparing for. And though the desire to bear children had begun to fester within her, it was little more than a hope for the future at this point, as she knew better than to attempt to raise a child without a considerable nest-egg of savings built up to support it.
Having showered herself, and having woken up considerably more, she walked back into the bedroom. Tamaki had a dumb grin on his face, and was visibly drooling into the pillow. Haruhi giggled softly, and using a corner of the bed sheets, wiped off his cheek. Unable to resist, she tussled his hair. She then crept out of the room into their kitchen and made herself a small bowl of cereal.
"Mei should be arriving soon…" she murmured, checking the time. She heard the soft padding of footsteps, and she turned to see Antoinette slowly walking towards her with her soft black eyes.
"Today's gonna be a great day, Anne!"
Antoinette laid down next to Haruhi, staring intently at the cereal bowl.
Haruhi's gaze changed quickly to shrewd suspicion. "Not for you."
"So I guess I can't help but feel bad for Tamaki, you know? I mean, he *really* tries hard when we're in bed, but there's just not much you can do with only four inches, you know?"
"I guess I'll have to tell him eventually that it's just not cutting it, but he's so proud of himself. Could you imagine how he'd react if I told him that he wasn't quite 'doing it', right? I can't stand it when he cries, it just breaks my heart."
"I'll be honest though, when he's using those strong, piano-playing fingers, it's something else entirely though, and I especially love the part where he…"
Haruhi broke off mid-sentence. "Oh." She blushed and grinned. "Sorry."
Mei glared at her, though only briefly as she needed to keep her eyes on the road. "You know, I'm happy you and Tamaki are happy together, but I really wish you'd stop describing your sex life to me in such lurid detail. It's driving me to a superstate between Nausea and Rage, and the result is not unlike trying to explain H.P. Lovecraft to a seven year old. With Cancer. Whose father died in the war. While trying to deliver a stack of H.P. Lovecraft books to starving orphans in Africa." She paused for a moment. "Anyways, I think that's how Renge was conceived."
"Right, sorry I… Wait, what?"
"Look, I'm just saying, it pisses me off, alright?"
They drove in silence for a few minutes. Haruhi continued to stare out the window. The Prefecture Law Firm was already in view, but with the absurd street layout, it would take some time for them to arrive.
"Hey, when do I get to be a godmother?"
Haruhi rolled her eyes. "Just give us a year or two, we want to have at least some form of savings prepared, which means me doing well at this job for at least a year or two."
"Oh good. I just wanted to be clear on that issue. You and Tamaki spend the first year of your marriage humping like bunnies, but you intend to wait a few years to have kids. Alright. Sure. That's logical. What happened to all that money the Suoh family was supposed to have?"
Haruhi grinned sheepishly. "Spent on therapy. The Suoh's managed to hold onto just enough money to keep their enterprises afloat, and it'll be some time before their profits are stable enough for anyone involved to have any lending money."
"Therapy? For what? Being ego-centric nutjobs?"
Haruhi sighed. "Alright Mei, what's bothering you?"
Mei sighed. "I dunno. I guess things are going okay for me, it's just… Well, everything has gotten so boring lately. I mean, I used to hear about all the crazy shit you put up with when you were in high school, then when you went to university in America, and had to put up with more crazy shit there. Meanwhile, the whole time, my life is a never-ending plateau of monotony. I mean, where's MY six idiots who will dress up like women just to beg me to stay with them?"
"You could dress up like a dude and try to join an actual host club. Seems to have worked for me."
Mei raised an eyebrow. "Sorry Haruhi, but not all of us are blessed with your washboard chest. Some of us are just automatically assumed female when we walk in the door."
Haruhi made a soft noise under her breath that sounded like a cross between a growl and a hiss.
"Hey, where am I supposed to drop you off?"
"I'm going to assume it's the gigantic building with the words "PREFECTURE LAW FIRM" emblazoned on the front."
"Okay smart-ass, that's brilliant. I never would have guessed. But do you have any insight as to which door I drop you off at?"
Haruhi giggled. "Just take me to the front door."
"God, I really wish you guys would get your own damn car. Do I have to pick you up this evening?"
"No, I'm going to work out a train route."
Haruhi smiled at her friend. "Aw Mei, thanks for doing this."
"Sure thing buddy. Same time next week?"
Haruhi raised her hand to her forehead. "Look, why don't you come over this Friday and join me and Tamaki for dinner?"
Mei sighed. "Yeah, I'll do that."
The woman sitting in front of Haruhi was supposed to be her boss.
One of Haruhi's most uncanny abilities was the ability to understand, on a deep profound level, how people worked. It might be enough for her friends that she could superficially tell when something was wrong, but for Haruhi, her insight went so much deeper. If anyone had believed, 5 years ago, that things really had worked out between Tamaki and his family, they were sorely mistaken. But a lot of talking, with Haruhi mediating the discourse, had been what was needed to finally reach the stage where everyone was calm and eager to be together. They weren't quite at the point where family-get-togethers were an option, but at least the prospects of reaching that point were secure.
Reading her boss, however, was proving a considerably less fruitful endeavor.
"So you were the smartest girl in your high school, correct?"
Haruhi stared at her. "Well, by logical definition, yes. I ran the risk of getting kicked out if my grades weren't top in the school, so quod erat demonstrandum, I must have been the smartest person at my school because if there ever was anyone smarter than me, I had to surpass them or else lose my scholarships. I actually ran into trouble once with that. But I don't think my high school career is relevant at this stage—"
The woman cracked a smile. "Then I think we have a good assignment for you, for your first case. I assume you practiced a few cases under your professors while at University?"
"Um, yes. There were five cases I assisted with over my time at College. The first was defending a 17 year old boy who had shot his teacher, the second was a civil dispute between—"
"I don't want to know the specifics." She rose from behind her desk and turned to look out the window. "The man you'll be defending is on trial for a number of heinous crimes. It is considered common knowledge that he is guilty of all these crimes. Your job will be to prove him innocent in a court of law."
Haruhi raised an eyebrow. "Is he innocent?"
"Oh. Well. I'm glad I can help," Haruhi said dispassionately.
She heard the woman chuckle briefly. "We took on his case once before and were able to successfully turn the jury to his side. There is a reason we would bring someone as bright as you into our firm, and we expect you not to disappoint us."
Haruhi shook her head. "But you're not even convinced he's innocent this time."
"He outright admitted to us he was guilty last time. Made our case easier because we knew where we needed to strengthen his defense."
"But why would we defend someone we clearly think is evil?"
Her boss chuckled again. "Oh, I do love the fresh lilies." She turned back to face Haruhi and lit up a cigarette. "We're defending him because the commission alone will probably pay your salary for the year. If you can even manage to prove him innocent, you'll probably get a large bonus for your efforts." She grinned, revealing a rather terrifying expression. "I hear you intend to have children once you've amassed a stable nest egg of savings. Wouldn't it be lovely if that could happen sooner rather than later?"
Haruhi nodded silently, feeling uncomfortable about the prospects. Were this another time in her life, she would have told her boss to go to hell and walked out the door, but her priorities had changed considerably since then. Hey mom, try not to be too mad at me, alright? This is for your future grandchildren. "What's the name of the man I'm representing?"
Her boss shrugged. "No one knows. We've just been told to address him as 'Hannibal Lector'. There is, of course, no such person that has lived in the last millennium and a half, so it is obviously a pseudonym. Oh, and that reminds me. You'll be getting a pseudonym as well. Lector has a tendency of attracting unwanted attention to his lawyers, so to protect your personal life, you'll be addressed for the next few months as 'Patricia Martin'." She reached into the drawer of her desk and pulled out a black wig. "You'll want this."
Lector just looked like a terrible person. Tattoos depicting skulls and chains spread across his entire body. His clothes were torn, and he seemed incapable of smiling.
Nonetheless, black-haired-Haruhi adjusted the microphone and spoke to the crowd of several hundred reporters.
"I, Patricia Martin, am the legal counsel for Mr. Lector. It is my understanding that he is innocent of the charged placed against him, and I intend to prove these facts in court."
This, of course, was met by a screaming of insults and boos from the amassed crowd.
"I would remind all of you that it is the duty of us, as citizens, to consider only the facts of the case, and not let preconceived judgments of guilt determine how we treat everyone involved."
This caused the boos to silence, but not the hissing.
"And of course, we must remember that we are a society comprised of sane, reasonable individuals, and if it is in their judgment that Mr. Lector is found guilty, then this judgment shall be accepted and carried out."
The hissing stopped, but the boos began again.
I wonder if I could make a mix tape out of this.
A reporter addressed Haruhi. "Excuse me, Miss Martin, but on what basis do you believe Mr. Lector to be innocent? Several eyewitnesses have claimed to have witnessed his brutal atrocities first-hand."
Haruhi nodded, allowing herself time to prepare her sentence structure. "I don't feel obligated to answer such a question outside a court of law." Right as the boos and hissing began again, though, Haruhi followed up with, "HOWEVER…" And at that, the crowd silenced itself, "It might be appropriate to shed some light on the most damning of the evidence."
Haruhi turned her back to the crowd for a brief moment to look at Lector, who stared at her with a lecherous look on his face. She began to speak.
"Much of the evidence presented in this case comes from eye-witness testimony, this is true. And while I could go into detail about the unreliability of evidence from such sources, expositing on the actual likelihood that these witnesses actually saw Mr. Lector commit these crimes, and not someone who bears a superficial resemblance to Mr. Lector—Certainly I will be going into detail on those considerable issues—but rather, I would direct your attention to the man himself."
She turned back to face the crowd. "Mr. Lector is not an unintelligent man. He is not impulsive, he is not reckless, and he is not gullible. Whatever he may be, in the realms of morality and legality, he is none of those things. But you know this, don't you? The man has been in the public's eye for some time. And I ask only that you consider, for whatever worth it may be, to try to place yourself inside the mind of a man like Mr. Lector, whom you believe to be a vicious man, and ask, given those traits, whether this man would attack another human being so ostentatiously."
By this point, Haruhi had worked up a sort of momentum, and the crowd couldn't help by be enthralled (though, as Haruhi quickly noted, it was certainly more a function of their idiocy than any genuine charisma she might possess) as she built to the denouement: "Certainly a man might be driven to murder the one who slept with his wife. Certainly a woman might murder the one who soiled her husband. Perhaps someone merely views the world through a corrupt lens, and seeks to have it burned down before them, but Lector is none of those people. Considering even for a moment the possibility that he is capable, conscientiously, of exacting such a brutal streak of violence upon us, are you prepared to believe that he would do so in such a direct and over-the-top manner?" She peered down upon the amassed. "I am not."
The crowd remained deathly quiet. Haruhi took this as a victory, but did not cheer for it. Though she had successfully mollified the crowd, the doublespeak and lies necessary to have done so felt like poison running through her veins, and it wasn't a good feeling.
"That was an excellent speech, Miss Martin."
Haruhi awoke, finding herself on the train. She looked to her left to see a young man smiling at her, holding an obscured notebook.
"Ugh, who are you?"
"I'm terribly sorry to wake you. I represent the Prefecture Local News, and was hoping I could ask you a few questions about the case you've taken on. Also, I need you to spell your name for me, I seem to be having a few difficulties spelling it." He smiled innocently as he spoke those last few words.
Haruhi spelled her name "Patricia Martin" to the man while she checked the time, noting that she had a few minutes before the train would be reaching her stop. "Make it quick, mister, um…"
The man smiled charmingly. "Yagami. My name is Light Yagami."
"Right. Mr. Yagami." Haruhi noticed that he hadn't yet actually written her name down, and seemed to be trying to recall the spelling in his head.
"Certainly. First of all," he took on a pained look on his face as he said this, "do you honestly believe in Lector's innocence?"
Haruhi looked at him suspiciously. "That's not the sort of question you should be asking me."
Light turned away smiling. "I understand your trepidation, but I would then ask that you consider the place you've put yourself in. You've been paid to defend his innocence, when any man observing these proceedings would have already assumed his guilt. So I guess what I'm really asking is, what is a young woman such as yourself doing wasting your time protecting someone such as him?"
Haruhi backed away. "Are you… Are you flirting with me?"
Light continued to smile. "Not at all."
"I happen to be married."
"Then your husband is a very lucky man."
Haruhi felt uncomfortable. It wasn't just the very invasive questions, or the manner in which he attempted to lead her responses, or even the unapologetic bias he was displaying, whereupon he seemed determined to prove the man's guilt. She had the impression that Light was trying to encourage her, indirectly, to stop defending Lector.
He continued with his questioning. "The man got off on a technicality last time. How do you feel that will influence this trial?"
"I'm sorry? That seems like a very loaded question."
"For the crimes he has committed, I don't think anyone here would blink if he were given the death penalty. He deserves to die. So how will this influence your defense of him?"
Light's smile faded slightly, but not altogether.
Many of the passengers were paying acute attention to the conversation taking place, but Haruhi paid no attention to them. "I want to be very clear about this. Mr. Lector is a Japanese citizen. He deserves the rights and privileges a Japanese Citizen deserves, and those include the right to a fair trial, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and I intend to ensure that he receives those rights. That's the cornerstone of our society, and if we do not uphold those pillars, then we might as well be barbarians. Even if he is guilty, I would rather him set free by a fair trial than locked up by an unfair trial."
His face had what Haruhi could have described as disappointment. "I see." He turned away from her. "So what you're saying is, it doesn't matter to you if he gets away with his crimes again, if it means that the law was upheld."
Haruhi thought about it for a moment, while the man watched her intently. "I guess that is what I'm saying. I'm sorry if that doesn't fit into your little narrative, but that's how I feel." Saying that made her nearly throw up, but she restrained herself.
Light sighed and began to write into his notebook, as the train slowed to a stop. Haruhi stood up and began to make her way towards the exit, while Light also stood up, and made his way towards an opposite exit.
"Have a good day, Mrs. Martin." he said, without facing her.
TO BE CONTINUED?
Dun dun duuuuuuuuuhnnnnnnnn...