Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney / Gyakuten Saiban, its characters and settings, are property of Capcom, and are being used here without permission.  This fic is rated NC-17 for adult male/male content and some violent material.  C&C welcome and appreciated.




One of Every Color

Chapter 3

Tuesday September 17th, 2019.  9:34 am




The morning after Ayame's visit, Phoenix got off to an early start.  He hadn't slept so well that night and was anxious to continue his investigating.  If he managed to find his two witnesses that day, he could file his appeal as early as the next day.  And for once, he would appreciate being too busy with the trial that would follow to worry about anything else.


His first interview of the day was with Angel Starr, who had been lead detective on the arson.  He hadn't really seen her since his case defending Lana Skye, but had heard rumors of her being accepted back into the police force.  A brief talk with Mike Meekins at the station confirmed it, and with a little prodding Phoenix was able to learn where her latest case was being investigated.  Phoenix caught a bus downtown and had little difficulty locating the crime scene: a fire truck was pulled up to a gas station, where half a dozen firefighters and a few uniformed officers were circling the burned out shell of what might have at one time been a sport utility vehicle.


Finding Angel in the mess, however, was trickier.  She wasn't in the white coat Phoenix remembered, nor could he spot her unique hat.  After a few minutes of circling the crime scene he finally caught a glance of her long hair, draped down the back of a charcoal suit coat.


"Miss Starr?"  Phoenix moved around in front of her, and was relieved to see it was indeed the detective he was looking for.  She was dressed in fitted pants suit with a rather low cut blouse.  "Miss Starr.  I don't know if you remember me, but--"


"I'm afraid I have no time for defense attorneys," Angel interrupted.  She turned purposefully away, monitoring the progress of her officers.


Well, I didn't think it was going to be easy.  Phoenix took a deep breath and stepped in front of her again.  "I know you're on duty, but if I could just have a minute to--"


Angel poked him hard in the chest with two fingers, startling him into taking a step back.  "I'm very sorry, Mr. Wright, but I'm not as soft as Gumshoe," she told him coolly.  New attire or no, she didn’t seem to have changed in personality.  "I'm not about to spill any information or evidence on…."


Angel trailed off, glancing between Phoenix and the scene.  She squinted.  "What is it you want anyway?  This was a traffic accident--we haven't even charged anyone yet."


"It's not about this case."  Phoenix spoke quickly, hoping to get everything he had to say out as soon as possible, so she wouldn't be able to interrupt again.  "I need to talk to you about the Gander arson case four years ago--she's going to be executed soon, did you know?  You were the head detective on that case."


Angel stared at him for a long moment without response--at least he had managed to get her attention.  He was just working up to continuing when she took him firmly by the elbow and tugged him away from the other officers.  "Miss Starr--?"


"Keep your voice down," Angel hushed, continuing to pull him along until they were out of earshot of her colleagues.  "Now.  Say that again?"


The seriousness in her tone impressed itself on Phoenix, and he lowered his voice before starting again.  "I said, I need to ask you about the Chassie Gander--"


"Yes, I heard you.  I should have known she would get to someone like you."


Phoenix frowned.  "What's that supposed to mean?"


Angel tilted her chin up.  "Never mind.  Just be careful who you mention that case to.  You can't just go around shouting about the mafia in this town, you know.  It can be dangerous to your health."


"I wasn't shouting…"


"Anyway, if you're bringing it up at all," Angel continued, "it must mean you're taking the case."  She was watching him closely, but all he could discern from her expression was wariness.   "Are you going to try and get that mob girl set free?"


"It's not like that," Phoenix quickly contradicted.  "I have new evidence--I honestly think Chassie is innocent, and I need to know what you testified to in the last trial."


Angel narrowed her eyes at him, and he considered it a victory that she appeared to honestly process what he was saying.  She glanced past him back at the other officers before speaking again.  "So you really plan on appealing the case.  You realize who prosecuted it last time, don't you?" Her frown deepened.  "And you think you have evidence he hasn't seen?"


"Well yeah…."  He had the clinic papers with him, but he had a feeling it would be best not to show them off, not with Angel glaring at him like she was.  "An alibi, in fact.  I thought maybe you'd know why it wasn't in the original police report."


Angel tensed visibly.  "You think he had it suppressed again?"


I should have known she'd think that.  If Angel hates anything it's prosecutors.  Phoenix felt guilty for getting Angel on Edgeworth's case again, after the remark he had made about her persistence the first time Chassie was charged.  "I don't know," he admitted.  "But I do think…he made a mistake.  And you know better than most that we can't let those mistakes go."


Phoenix was pushing his luck, and he knew it, but his words did the trick.  Angel's shoulders drooped minutely and her glare relaxed.  "I can't talk now, but I'll see what I can dig up for you," she offered at last.  "Just be sure you know what you're doing.  This was an important case for us, especially Edgeworth.  A lot of people are going to be unhappy if they hear you're challenging it now."  She met his gaze firmly.  "You had better be sure about what you're doing."


Phoenix nodded.  It was too late to second guess himself now that Angel was involved.  She's the last person that would spill gossip around the station, but they're all going to find out sooner or later.  Looks like I'll be famous again for a while. 


"Just one more thing," Phoenix interjected before Angel could turn away.  "Do you know where I can find April May?"




"Oh my gawd.  You interrupted my mid-morning mocha break for this?  As if."


Oh boy….  Phoenix cringed lower in his chair.  He would have thought that all these familiar faces would make his investigation go more quickly than if he were introducing himself to strangers, but so far that was proving not to be the case.  "I'm sorry, Miss May.  I'll be as brief as I can."


April shot him a long-suffering look.  He had managed to catch her on a short break from her job as K.B. Security's daytime secretary, which was not so different from the last position she had held at Blue Corp - from what Phoenix understood of their two companies, at least.  She was making the most of the uniform, if nothing else.  She leaned forward over the edge of the cafeteria table, forcing Phoenix to glance uncomfortably away.  "So.  I suppose you want my testimony."


"That's, uh, why I'm here," Phoenix stuttered.  "I know you said in court that you saw Chassie enter the building that night.  Can you tell me a little bit about that?"


April snorted.  "Creepy little thing.  I recognized her immediately, you know."  She rested her chin on the back of her hand.  "It pays to know people in your same line of work.  Not that I know anything about the mob, mind you."  She giggled, shoulders lifting childishly.


"Of…of course not."  Phoenix cleared his throat.  "So you did see her go in."


"Through the window," April confirmed.  "Crawled right in like a common thief!  Very unprofessional, if you ask me."  He hadn't, but she continued anyway.  "She's such a tiny little thing, and with Jackie inside I didn't figure she could do any harm.  Shows what I know, huh?"


Phoenix pursed his lips as he tried to fit the name she'd dropped into his memory of the case.  "Jackie…you mean Mr. Hoff?  The second male victim?"


April nodded.  "Yeah, that's him.  Just moved in with Mel's sister Ann next door.  Poor things."  She shook her head, but it was an exaggerated gesture that conveyed no heartfelt sympathy.  "Poor little baby."


"So Mr. Hoff and Ann were living together with their infant in one half of the duplex," Phoenix summarized, getting his thoughts together.  "And Mel Arky was living next door.  And he worked for Blue Corp."


"Not very well," April said carelessly.  She leaned back once more, tugging idly at the tips of her hair.  If she gave any care to the loss of life years ago, she certainly didn't show it.  "But he was fun enough at a party.  He invited Libby and me over that night for drinks.  That's when I saw that freaky vampire chick crawl in.  We were getting some fresh air outside."


Phoenix consulted his notes.  "And that was around 2:00 am, a little over an hour before the fire started."


"Sure was.  Now are you done with me, Sweetie?  You're using up my whole break."


"Uh, sorry."  Sweetie?  "Just one more thing," he persisted.  "You were at the scene of the crime, but you left before the fire, right?  When was that?"


April tilted her head to the side, contemplating.  "Um…I think it was around 2:30."  She giggled again.  "We were pretty trashed by then, especially Mel.  So we took a bunch of embarrassing pictures of him and then I took off."


"Pictures?"  That perked Phoenix's interest.  "Do you still have them?"


"Baby, keeping records is my life," April drawled.  "I've got mounds of pictures.  Not that I think they'll do you any good."  She winked, elbows drawing together slightly to enhance her cleavage in an all too familiar tactic.  "Won't come cheap, either."


Nothing ever does.  …Did she call me "baby"?  Phoenix was pretty sure any pictures April had wouldn't be fit to show in court, but his crime scene was now nothing more than a burnt out shell of a building.  The pictures might at least give him an idea of how the duplex looked when it was intact.  "All right, let me be honest," Phoenix told her, hoping she would respond if he was upfront.  "I want whatever pictures you have of that building and that night.  If the case gets appealed you'll probably be subpoenaed anyway, but will you promise me you'll only tell the truth on the stand?"


April's grin vanished, and her eye twitched as she sat up straight.  Her change in demeanor was so abrupt Phoenix swore it was accompanied by an audible snap.  "Like I said," she replied tersely, "it's going to cost you."


"I'll give you five thousand dollars."


Phoenix heard the words come out of his mouth rather than spoke them.  It was such an unexpected declaration that the pair stared at each other in silence for a full ten seconds.  Gradually April's eyes sharpened on him.  "Up front?"


"Of course not!  I'm not that naïve."  His response made her glare wicked, and he quickly went on.  "Half when you get me the pictures, half after your testimony--if you haven't lied.  All right?"  Did I just offer to pay her off?  Urami's having a bad influence on me.


He didn’t know April particularly well, but he could tell she was surprised; when they first met almost three years ago he would have never been so bold.  A battle of pride versus greed played out across her face.  "All right," she agreed.  Her expression softened back into childishly flirty.  "Five grand it is.  You're quite the businessman, Feeny.  Just don't hold it against me when my testimony doesn't help your client any."


Feeny!?  Phoenix managed not to wince as he pushed to his feet.  "We'll see.  Thanks for your help, Miss May.  And…."  He smiled sheepishly.  "For not holding a grudge, from last time."


April adjusted her uniform top as she stood as well.  "Yes, well, part of the business and all.  Just don't think I've forgotten."  Hostility gleamed in her eyes as she turned away, but she still added an extra sway to her hips as she walked off which Phoenix was fairly certain was for his benefit.


Old habits maybe.  Phoenix rubbed his eyes.  At least that's my last interview.  Now I just have to put everything together.  He gulped as he headed out of the building once more.  And cash that check….




Urami got plenty of looks from the guards when she entered the prison.  She always did.  Her family had warned her of being so careless when around the police but she paid them no notice.  It wasn't as if any of them would dare touch her.


The guard staff was used to her visits by now, and she barely had to say a word for them to bring Chassie to the visitation room.  They faced each other across the glass as they had done many times over the past few years.  Some would say they could have been sisters, not because of any resemblances in their faces, but because of the dull, despondent air both seemed to project.  Even as far as prison visits went, it appeared an eerie and depressing affair.


"He came to see me yesterday," Chassie reported in monotone.  "He was just what you said he would be.  Not like the others, at least."  Her thin fingers wrapped around each other anxiously.  "But he has not filed the appeal…?"


"Not yet," Urami admitted.  "I figured he would take his time….  He's very careful about picking his cases." She had looked into several of his cases since their first meeting, and by now believed she knew at least something of Phoenix Wright's business habits.  "But I sent him to Hotta Clinic.  By now he'll know you couldn't have set that fire."


Chassie lowered her head, nearly becoming lost in her long, thick hair.  "Is it worth this risk?" she asked softly.  "If Phoenix Wright is as honest as you say he is, he might--"


"It's worth the risk," Urami insisted.  Her voice rose a bit above its own usually steady murmur as she leaned forward.  "You don't have to worry about me, Chassie….there's nothing he can do to me.  Either he'll do just enough and you'll be free, or…"  She smiled grimly.  "We say our goodbyes."


Chassie lifted her gaze to meet Urami's, and slowly smiled back.  "You've always looked out for me."


Urami's eyes thinned.  "Not well enough….  I'll get you out of this.  None of this was your fault."


"Even if they kill me," Chassie went on as if not hearing, "I will not regret being your friend.  Please say the same."


"Of course…."


"Good."  Chassie took in a long, slow breath, and finished exhaling before she continued.  "Then for now I will trust your Phoenix Wright.  And hope he does not pry too far."




Phoenix spent the rest of that afternoon at his apartment.  He wouldn't be accepting any new cases anyway, so there was no point in staying at the office and using up electricity there.  He was also able to recover somewhat from having deposited Urami's check.  With some of the money going to April he somehow felt a little better about the whole thing, even if he was still surprised with himself for making such an offer.


It's not like I told April to testify she "didn't" see Chassie, he reasoned as he poured over his collected evidence.  I'm just motivating her to tell the truth.  If Chassie's really innocent, that's all I can hope anyone will do.  And at least I have an idea of what April will say before she takes the stand.  Either April mistook Urami for Chassie and I'll be able to find a contradiction in her testimony, or…she really did see her, and I'll have to get an explanation from Chassie on what she was doing there.


Either way it meant a trip back to the prison.  But Phoenix was fairly confident now, and he wasn't in a hurry to speak to her until he was certain of all the facts.  Having changed into T-shirt and jeans for the remainder of the day he spread out all his files across the living room floor, including the pictures he'd developed off his camera at a drug store kiosk.  It looked to be the most prepared he'd ever entered a trial.


"Chassie entered the building around two," he spoke aloud, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.  "She was admitted to the Hotta clinic just before three, at least fifteen minutes before police say the fire was started…."  He checked a city map he kept on hand.  "If she was at the duplex she would have had to leave by 2:45 to make it to the clinic by 3:00…she was nowhere near the building when it caught on fire."


Edgeworth will have a hard time arguing his way out of that.


Explaining away Chassie's presence at the crime scene and the cuts on her hands would be easy after that.  And the supposed motive was no problem at all--Mel Arky may have been a Blue Corp employee and a bother to the Shikabane, but there was no proof Chassie had anything to do with that at all.  Not to the point that she would need to kill four other people with him.


"This one'll be a snap, Nick!"


Phoenix frowned as he leaned back and glanced around his empty apartment.  This was usually the point in which he'd get rousing encouragement from an eager assistant.  It had been months since he and Maya worked on a case together.  She had responsibilities in Kurain now, and though they kept in touch well enough it wasn't like before, when she could visit on a whim and jump into an investigation with him.  As often as he'd joked over the past three years how quiet it was when Maya wasn't around…it didn't compare to the actual occurrence.


It really is quiet.  Phoenix slumped, toppling over onto his back and stretching out across the floor.  His day hadn't even been as long or as taxing as the day before, and yet he was exhausted.  As he lay there, letting his mind drift over the events of the past forty-eight hours, a heavy, familiar weight began to settle behind his ribs.  It was an effect the quiet sometimes had on him.  When the case was over, when the excitement had settled…when there were no energetic young friends, or the wise smile of his chief…the world seemed to narrow around his small apartment.  There was nowhere to go and nothing to see, and no motivation to seek either.


It was a lot easier when someone was around to drag you out.


His phone rang.  He rolled over, and crawled back to his lumpy sofa to retrieve it from the pocket of his suit coat.  A quick check of the screen showed a familiar number, and he answered.  "Larry?"


"Hey Nick," came the bright response.  "Yeah, it's me.  Are you busy?"


"I guess not."  Phoenix pulled himself up onto the sofa and stretched out with a sigh.  Larry didn't call him often, but when he did, it probably meant something troublesome.  "What's up?"


"I just got off work," Larry explained.  Phoenix could hear the unpleasant blare of rush-hour traffic in the background.  "I've got leftovers, so I'm taking them over to Edgey's--I said I'd help him set up a proper dog run for Pess."


Phoenix frowned.  Edgeworth again.  I should probably just tell him and get it over with, since I can't seem to stay away from him.  "I don't know," he stalled.  "Opposing council and all that."


"Oh come on, Nick, you're the one who was so excited about him coming back," Larry reminded.  "'It'll be like old times' - 'we got along great as kids' - is this ringing any bells?"


"Yeah, but--"


"Besides, you need to bring the beer," Larry added.


Phoenix rolled his eyes as he pushed to his feet.  "I see how it is.  It's not the pleasure of my company you want, it's my booze."


Larry laughed.  "It's the beginning of the week, Nick, I know you at least have a six pack."


Phoenix sighed as he moved into the kitchen to check his fridge, even though he already knew Larry was right.  For not seeing each other often anymore Larry knew him pretty well.  "Yeah, well…."  Unable to think of any proper excuse Phoenix pulled out the six pack.  "It's cheap, so don't complain."  There's no way Edgeworth will drink this.


"I won't, I won't.  Seeya there."


Larry hung up, and Phoenix let his hand fall, staring at his phone.  You just can't say no to anyone, can you? he thought as he pocketed the device and went looking for his shoes.  It's just as well.  I wasn't doing anything anyway.




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