Lingering Fragrance is submitted within this chapter as it was originally a extract from this story.
Written draft of the Mia Fey Ace Attorney Visual Novel.
Xekuto Zoren is my OC and Mia Fey's childhood friend.
Chapter I – Distant Remnant
"W-wow…! What is this? I've never tasted anything like it!" The ten year old girl exclaimed with delight as she grinned back at him, bright, yellow crumbs were littered all across her rosy cheeked face.
He smiled, ruffling her chestnut coloured hair affectionately. It really had been a while since he'd last seen her. She'd really grown, the light purple, sleeves of her robes were short enough to reveal her wrists, and the large ribbon tied around her waist to keep the uniform in position didn't seem overly big anymore. He grinned to himself, remembering seeing her when she first received the costume, and had pretended to mistaken her for a wrapped up baby just for a tease.
"It's called cake, Mia. Hasn't your mother ever bought some for you after work?"
Her hazel eyes perked up with the usual curious spark as she gazed up at him.
"No, it's the first time I've ever eaten something so good!" She stuffed the last remaining pieces into her mouth.
"How exactly is cake made?"
The young boy sighed softly, amusement glittering in his own emerald eyes. Her thirst for knowledge was the one thing that hadn't changed after all this time.
"Mostly eggs, butter, milk and flour."
She really does have strict parents, this one.
"So," he mused. "What have you been up to before school term started?"
Giggles filled the silent meadow as he tried to wipe the crumbs off her rosy cheeked face with a handkerchief.
"You tell first, Xekuto-niichan!"
The memory floated in her mind as if it were music in the air. She sighed and covered her face with a hand. A glint of sunlight from a golden badge pinned to her bottom right white lapel reflected from the office windows managed to jerk her back to the present.
That's right; she was a defense attorney now. Not a child eagerly anticipating someone to tell them more stories about what they did in school. The young woman felt oddly cold in her tight black top and skirt, even though she was wearing a tan scarf around her neck, along with a blue magatama. She gazed back at her work table. Files and numerous sheets of paper were spread out on the simple plastic desk. Here and there, she would glimpse a photo of a victim, or another of the suspect, her client. She sighed once again, no matter what she did or tried, her brain just didn't seem to be working this morning… She wondered what was wrong with her, when suddenly the boy's image appeared in her mind again.
"Stop thinking about him!" she cursed at herself through gritted teeth. Work was more important here, not remembering childhood friends.
Childhood friend, she corrected herself. He had been her only proper friend back at Kurain Village…
"A-HEEEMM!" The young defense attorney could recognise that ridiculously loud clearing of a throat anywhere.
"Good morning, Mr. Grossberg." She turned and managed to smile at him without much trouble. The boy's image appeared again, this time more distinct in shape; his spiky silver hair outlining the golden sunlight that was filtering through…
"Ah, and a good morning to you too, m'dear!" A rather plump old man with perfectly round glasses came marching towards her. He was dressed in a red suit that surprisingly managed to fit him. The man glanced at an oak clock that sat neatly near his own grand desk.
"By George! You're the first to come yet again, and so early too! What exactly are you up to, Mia?"
"N-Nothing much. I just thought that getting to work with a clear mind would be more helpful, sir."
"Ah yes, just like the fresh scent of lemons when I was a youth… As they say, always work hard and never give up!" He fluffed out his moustache as if to prove his point.
Mia had no idea what lemons had to do with persistence but she nodded politely for her boss's sake.
"Perfect, just perfect. It's only lunchbreak and I've already humiliated myself by showing the wrong case files to Mr. Grossberg TWICE, AND I've forgotten my purse!"
She clutched her head and massaged her temples in an attempt to make the ache in her head die down, not knowing how much worse her first day as a defense attorney could get. Mia was aware that she was alone, everyone else had left either to purchase their lunch or rest outside in the fresh air. So far, she hadn't come across a single work partner that seemed thoroughly interested in doing their job properly. Maybe proving herself worthy to her boss wouldn't be so hard after all…
That's when she first heard his voice.
"What are you doing up there all alone, Kitten?"
She positively jumped off from where she was sitting at the cocky remark that had just shot out at her like a stray bullet. Mia turned her head sharply to stare at a dark skinned man with wild black hair. He was leaning by the doorway as she took in his image; a bright red shirt and striped vest, including two dark bands at the curve of his arms with matching red trousers and a neat black tie positioned near his collarbone. She flushed at being caught sitting with probably a dazed look on her own desk.
However, it wasn't the way he dressed that rendered her speechless, it was his eyes. Dark, hazel brown eyes that held her gaze with such curiosity. Mia noticed a clean, white mug in his hand with steam coming out of it. Coffee, she guessed.
But that didn't matter.
A total stranger had just called her Kitten!
"I have a name." She replied back coolly. "It's Mia Fey."
"Ha…!" He gave a short bark like laugh that made her flinch. The man walked slowly towards her. "Well, I guess when asking someone a question, you should always know their name." He extended his coffee holding hand towards her.
Mia stared at him with disbelief. "What, you expect me to shake hands with your coffee mug, s-sir?" she managed sarcastically.
"No, I expect you to drink from it." He replied with a teasing grin.
Her eyes widened.
"Don't worry, it's perfectly safe. I haven't even taken a sip yet, which I warn you, is rather unusual for someone like me," He gazed at her again with those eyes. "unless I'm distracted, of course."
I-Is he HITTING on me? That's it, this day could not possibly get any worse than this.
After a moment's silence, the man continued the conversation as if the last few sentences were never said.
"I heard that you forgot your purse."
Oh please, Lord. No.
"So, how about it, Kitten?" He held up his still steaming coffee mug and drank from it. "Want to do lunch?"
It took all of Mia's physical strength to stop her jaw from crashing to the carpeted floor, or simply scream at this man to politely go away.
"After all," he continued. "You are the office newbie here. I think I should keep an eye out for you. Have you seen the way some guys back there look at you?"
Yeah, you're giving me a great example of that. She thought vehemently. No, she wasn't going to lose to him that easily. In fact, this was a perfect opportunity; she would show him that she wasn't just some vulnerable elementary school girl. Mia had worked extremely hard to get here in this office all by herself, and she will not tolerate any of this behaviour shown towards her, especially by this man that obviously has never heard of the term 'personal space'.
"Fine," she replied, pasting a sickly sweet smile on her face. "I'll go, but bear in mind, Mr. Armando that this is in no way a date."
"Ha…! I don't keep promises like that, Kitten." He motioned towards the door with his coffee mug. "Shall we?"
She was on the floor, crying, crying her eyes out as she lay there, winded. In the back of her mind, a small voice was telling her to get up, after all; no one was there with her. Her mother was too busy taking care of her baby sister to care about her anymore. She was just a worthless little girl who no one took notice of…
She jerked and the tears stopped flowing for a second. Her eyes looked up and found a young boy in what seemed to be a gi top standing at the top of a small hill.
"How long are you going to lie there crying? Stand up." He said again, more sternly this time.
"B-but…!" she protested through sobs. "It h-hurts!"
A strange sensation came over her as she saw his eyes soften.
"I know." He said quietly. "But you're going to get up in the end anyway, right? So why not lessen the pain by just getting up now?"
He was right. He was right and she knew it. Focusing on her bruised hands, she planted them to the ground and slowly, ever so slowly lifted herself up. Suddenly, there was a hand there, reaching out for her. Without thinking, she grabbed for it and was on her feet again in less than a heartbeat.
The young boy knelt down and patted the dirt off her purple robes. She stared at him with fascination, the pain in her legs forgotten.
"I-I thought you said I had to get up myself." She blurted out.
His gentle eyes silenced her completely as a warm smile gently positioned itself on his face.
"Yeah, but it's much more worthwhile to achieve something through the aid of friends, am I wrong?" he murmured, and handed her a handkerchief to wipe away the tears stains left on her red cheeks.
Mia blinked, and found herself back at the office in front of her computer. She breathed a sigh of relief and cleared her head. It seemed that she had managed to survive that unexpected 'meeting' with Mr. Armando. How much coffee does he drink in a day…? No wait, an hour? She was absolutely certain that he had drowned down at least seven cups in that period of time. The young defense attorney shook her head in both disgust and frustration. Great, now she was worrying about HIM too. She rubbed her tired eyes, trying to refocus them to the computer. The framed photo that sat neatly at the corner of her desk was still in her peripheral vision though. It was a photo of her as a young child, in her spiritual training top on the back of a young boy that looked a few years older than her. A spiky haired young boy wearing a white jumper sat at the bottom left hand corner, smiling out of the frame.
Okay, back to the case, so this young lady here called Delores Wellington was stabbed with a fruit knife on September for –
"Ah, Mia, m'dear!" She gritted her teeth before turning to face her boss with what she hoped not to be a grimace upon her face.
"Mr. Diego Armando wants you in his office, he's been buzzing me for ages." The plump old man replied with a twitch of his moustache.
Mia groaned and sank deeper into her seat.
Grossberg was not amused. "Come now, m'dear. I tried to convince him that you were too busy to be interrupted but seeing that you were gazing into space only a few seconds ago proves me wrong."
She flushed a dark shade of pink, dipped her head in apology and headed for the coffee addict's room straight away.
What could that man possibly want with me now?
She thought with annoyance and she turned the knob of a handsome mahogany door. A golden nameplate was pinned near the top, which she fixed one of her most fierce glares at before entering.
"Ah, there you are, Kitten, finally!" He looked at her from his rosewood desk with that cocky smile plastered on his face. "I've been waiting for ages."
"I apologise to you with deep sincerity as I obviously wasn't working." She muttered sarcastically.
"Ha…! You amuse me more everytime you speak, Kitten." He leaned back on his wheeled chair, arms folded behind his head. The smile was still there.
Mia placed her hands on her hips and gave him a disgusted look. "What did you call me here for?" She had long given up asking him to quit calling her kitten.
"Ah yes. I'd almost forgotten." He stood up and walked towards her until they were only one metre apart.
Mia felt the back of her neck start to burn with embarrassment. "W-What is it?"
"Something very important that I need to ask you, and you alone." He whispered. The smile was gone now as he inched closer towards her.
He was so close she could feel his warm coffee scented breath on her cheeks. It was obvious that her entire face was completely dyed red by now.
"…Would you hold my coffee for me?"
She blinked and found herself leaning slightly back.
"H-huh…? WHAT?!" it seemed that her jaw had fallen and hit the floor.
"Thanks! I owe ya' one!" Before she had time to protest, a hot cup of coffee was already in her hands and the attorney was walking away to one of his pigeon holes.
"I need to go through some files, you see. And I didn't want a coffee ring to stick to that table, after all, it IS new." He murmured, half to himself, half to her, as he looked through a brown manila folder.
Mia stood there the whole time, hardly listening to him rant on about how good his coffee blend was and why on earth the text of the file was in Times New Roman, with her mouth open and steaming cup still in hand. She wanted desperately to just drop it, not caring about staining his precious carpets, and run. However, she didn't want to cause a scene and the rugs that she was standing on just might have been purchased by Mr. Grossberg, and knowing how much he cared about his expensive items, she didn't think it was a good idea.
Mia didn't know how long she had to stand there, holding his coffee cup and listening to his pointless observations. But she did know that she would never set foot in his office again, unless she, herself had a reason to enter. And judging by what he had just done, the chances were officially negative infinity.