A prosecutor and her friendship with a certain colleague told in a series of drabbles. Crossover with a mystery anime. Spoilers for the whole of Ace Attorney.
She was wary of him at first glance, perhaps out of instinctive suspicion, perhaps because of that ridiculously frilly suit. After all, an understudy of Karuma would have been groomed to be a mirror image. They held the customary welcome party for the young man, the secretaries immediately swooning over the new ‘hottie’ of the office. He was younger than her by a couple of years or so, but his youth made her all the more aware of her short stature as he towered over her while introducing himself. He had a quiet reserve she had not expected.
Her door was always slightly ajar and his office, just down the hall. She watched him pass day after day, exchanging customary greetings with the vague friendliness of colleagues. On occasion he would stop to discuss a case she was taking, his eyes averted from hers and fixated on documents more often than not. He said he envied her ability to read people, she saw it as his indirect admittance to poor people skills. Despite his showy outfit screaming otherwise, she had never heard of a shy prosecutor and wondered how he would perform in court on his own.
Busy days meant forgoing extravagant lunches. On days like this, she found herself packing a lunch box, and others looking rather disbelieving at the incongruity of her tailored suit and the humble looking blue Tupperware filled with last night’s leftover stir fry with eggs. He looked lonely sitting with just his tray, his eyes fixed on his food and some report. As she leaned down to catch his attention from a lowered perspective, she thought she saw a hint of red blooming on his pale cheeks. Sitting next to him somehow felt like she was back in that music room.
They said he was a devil in court, she couldn’t believe it till she went to see for herself. Behind the Prosecutor’s bench, he conducted himself with an arrogant coolness that would have sent most women swooning (some did). She, on the other hand began to feel a vague sense of familiarity well up in her. And as his lips curved into a conniving little smile, his eyes taking on a glint of triumph, she heard a precious vase smashing in her echoes of her memory. Oh yes, she remembered now, where she had seen such a terrible smirk before.
He had been under fire as of late. Rumours and slander were nothing new in the Prosecutor’s Office, especially ones circulating around his and his mentor. Gossip was ‘troublesome’ as she saw it, but she could not deny that success had changed him to an extent. The reticence she had enjoyed months prior vanished, especially in the presence of that bumbling detective. She had never thought about it before, but the flamboyant clothes and his smug demeanour reminded her of the caked on makeup of ‘tacky oba-sans’ the twins often pointed out disparagingly. For all of the things he did, he was still shy to her.
She remembered a trip to a shopping mall when she was sixteen; the furious look on her senpai’s face terrified her as he prepared to vent his anger on their club mates. Mitsurugi sat in the Prosecutor’s lobby, muttering about the fresh faced attorney who had beaten him and crumpling the paper cup full of hot coffee. She changed her mind about consoling him and made herself as inconspicuous as she could. The poor, well-meaning detective got his pay docked for his efforts and she wondered if that forlorn expression was how she looked whenever senpai said her debt had been added to.
He’d asked about the photograph on her shelf, the last one she had taken before graduating from high school. She realised it was the first time they had ever spoken about something outside of work, even if it was more like her reminiscing out loud and he listening with an increasingly put upon expression at the zaniness of her youth. When she tried to ask him about his school days, he looked uncomfortable and wistful all at the same time. It was a long time before he ever told her about his childhood and even then only a little.
They’d asked her to prosecute the case. She had no idea why when there were others clearly more suited. She knew that it would damage her position if she refused, but she did it anyway. Perhaps they wanted to see if she had contracted a loss of conscience by associating with him. It didn’t really matter to her anyway; she had never worried about being in the ‘in crowd’. He looked worn and broken on the other side of the glass. Withdrawn as he was, she was still glad he had consented to see her. It made her feel like she was really a friend.
She’d attended every hearing. She would have helped if she could, if it were ethical. All she could do was try to will some of her own power into him. Karuma stood behind the Prosecutor’s bench, pulling every dirty trick he knew. No mercy, no justice, not even for the man he had mentored from childhood. Even if Mitsurugi expected it, she felt betrayed for him. Would he have taken her prosecution with the same resigned expression? She thought that she wouldn’t have been able to in his shoes.
She could not imagine what it must be like for him, having his past thrown out in the open like an embarrassing slide show. Yet, knowing so much brought a sense of closeness and understanding. Their dreams had been so similar though their paths entirely different. She wondered what he would have been like if he had been given the chances and experiences she had. Chiding herself on such ridiculous fantasies, she reminded herself that he was who and what he was today because of the experiences that shaped him. And she could not imagine him any other way.
“Where are you going?” she’d asked as he shut the door of his office. He looked startled to find her in the corridor. Whatever excuse he had died on his lips as he knew as well as she did that she read most people like books. He needed a break from everything to be away from the glare. The latest case had caused so much scandal, it was a miracle the others had not dragged him out to be flogged. She spied the slip of a plane ticket from his pocket but chose not to comment. What could she possibly say?
“Take care of yourself, Mitsurugi”
“Good bye, Fujioka.”
It was going to be lonely in the office.