World: Ace Attorney
Featuring: Mia Fey x Diego Armando
Warning: spilt coffee, keep away from young eyes.
This, Mia Fey decided, was highly unusual.
She had been talking to her boss, Marvin Grossberg, about a man that had phoned in the morning, requesting their services. They were standing just beside her office, a stack of files under her arm and a quizzical look on Grossberg's pudgy face as his employee explained why she thought the man should not be taken under consideration - "he first tried to order a pizza, for God's sake!" - and how it was probably a joke.
The Spanish asset of Grossberg Law Office was sitting at his desk, making it look like he was working, but the comments on Mia's assumptions he threw from time to time through his open door gave away that Diego Armando was, in truth, far from being completely interested in the case he was working on.
And then, without so much as a knock, the main door opened suddenly, and in came a man Mia had never seen before. He was tall, and well-built if his square shoulders were anything to judge by, but the first thing that caught Mia's attention was his dark glare. His blue eyes swept over the room from behind glasses, a few locks of messy black hair masking his sight. He was obviously looking for something, or someone.
The long, black coat he was wearing did nothing to ease the female rookie's nerves – nor Grossberg's – but she put on a brave face and even managed a small, polite smile.
"Can I help you, sir?"
The man's dark glare settled on her, and Mia could almost feel her boss inching closer, and maybe hiding behind her much smaller frame. Did he really think she was in any position to protect him?
"Does Armando work here?" came the man's rough question.
Mia blinked. "Uh... yes, his office is right there on your right..."
Without so much as a "thank you" or another look, the man marched over to the indicated spot, slipped into Diego's office and slammed the door shut.
This couldn't be normal. Mia's co-worker knew better than to get himself in trouble, but it really looked like the black-haired man was mad at Diego. And the way he had said "Armando"...
"Mr. Grossberg, do you know this man?" Mia asked, but her boss was long gone. The tell-tale sound of the main door slamming shut told her that Marvin had scampered away. Why wasn't she surprised?
Mia shifted her weight from one leg to the other, uneasy. She should go back to work; she ought to head into her office and take a good look at those files she had just received. It would be the right thing to do; but those muffled voices inside Diego's office were just so intriguing. And she was pretty curious to learn what her mentor had done to deserve such spite.
Clutching the stack of documents to her chest, Mia quietly walked over to Diego's door, her heels making more sound than usual on the wooden floor and causing her to wince. It wasn't spying, she tried to convince herself, she was just concerned about her co-worker. The young woman stopped right next to the elegant mahogany door, leaning her back against the wall. She could always say she was waiting to speak with Diego about something, if someone happened to walk in.
The voices were getting clearer; whether it was because she was closer or because they had gotten louder, she didn't know.
"That trial should not have ended the way it did." The newcomer's hissing voice send shivers down her spine. It was now obvious that the man was pissed.
Diego's chuckle rang out. "I don't see why you feel the need to cry over spilt coffee, Leroy. My client's name was cleared, I proved he was innocent, it's all over now. Barging into my office and hissing at me like a rabid cat isn't going to change the fact that you could not prove him guilty."
"He was not innocent, and I don't think I used your first name in this conversation, Armando."
At this point, Mia had learned three thing: the man's name was Leroy, he was a prosecutor, and had faced a trial against her mentor recently.
"Fine, Mr. Prince, if my client was indeed guilty, then please kindly explain how he managed to be at work and rob a jeweler whose shop is situated on the other side of the town at the same time.
Because, though I do try to keep my mind open, I can't fully grasp the concept of someone being able to cheat such essential concepts of physics." Mia smiled at Diego's sweet mocking tone; she could almost see his grin.
"He was not at his workplace!" Leroy Prince was getting angrier by the second.
"Ha...! Have you forgotten already? Our client, Mr. Lotso Bucks, is a security guard at Gatewater. On the door of the security room, there's a fingerprints reader, which insure that only allowed employees can get through. Fortunately, the sensor also records whoever entered the security room, and when. As you can see, here..." There was a rustle of paper, and Mia could only assume Diego had gotten a document out. "Mr. Bucks came for a late night shift at exactly 10:32 pm. And the jeweler was robbed at exactly 10:35 pm, judging by one of the watches the robber attempted to steal and broke. There is absolutely no way Mr. Bucks could have crossed the city in three minutes, and since he still has his two hands and nobody stole his fingers to get inside the security room, we can only conclude that he was at work, not on the crime scene."
Even the best prosecutor in the world would not be able to find a loophole in Diego's reasoning. Try as she might, Mia could not think of one. She figured the man was going to walk out and admit defeat, there was no shame in it after all, truth was the only thing that mattered.
But she was wrong.
"You... You forged this!" Leroy spat.
Mia could practically see Diego's eyebrow rise in faked confusion through the wall. "Begging pardon?"
"That fingerprints thing, I wasn't even aware it existed until you brought it up in the courtroom! It's fake, you forged it!"
Mia gasped; forging evidence was the worst thing a lawyer could do, and the best way to get disbarred. And accusing a lawyer of forgery was not something to be done without some serious backup. Clearly, it was the man's anger at being bested speaking.
"Now, Leroy, do you even realize what you're saying?" Her mentor was quite calm. "Winning is not the only thing that matters, our job, our whole purpose is to uncover the truth. And not confuse the courtroom with an arena. Now I suggest you calm down. Here, have a cup of blend #102, it's going to-"
But Diego never got to finish his sentence. There was a loud clank, the sound of glass shattering over the floor, and a muffled grunt. Mia wondered if Diego had dropped his mug, but her eyes widened when she heard chairs being slammed the floor and the dull sound of flesh hitting flesh.
What is going on in there? Should I open the door? Her heart was hammering against her ribcage.
When Leroy gave off a yelp, she made up her mind and flung the door open, dropping her stack of files in her haste.
Diego had Leroy pinned against the floor, only the man's arms behind his back as the prosecutor struggled to get free. The two chairs that adorned the older lawyer's desk were on the floor, tipped to the side, and white shards were scattered all over the floor.
When the door opened, Diego raised his head. Mia's heart ached when she caught sight of his bleeding nose. "Mia! Don't-"
A well-aimed kick from Leroy cut him off and had him slamming back into his desk. Now really angered, Diego growled and lunged at his adversary with feline grace, pining the other man against the wall with one of his arms twisted behind his back and his cheeks crushed against the wallpaper. "Listen to me, you idiot. Either you stay and we both end up in a hospital room, and since you started it you'll be in trouble, or you leave and we shall never speak of it again. It's up to you."
"Putting up a good show for your little assistant? How pathetic of you, Armando," Leroy smirked, but winced when Diego twisted his arm even more.
"I said: it's up to you."
Leroy muttered something Mia didn't quite catch, but Diego wrenched the man away from the wall and dragged him over to the door. "You're never stepping in here again," the tanned attorney ordered as he flung the battered man out of his office and slammed the door shut.
Mia released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Everything had happened so fast, she had been unable to do anything. But her mind snapped into place when Diego turned to her, an apologetic look on his handsome face. "I'm sorry you had to see this. I've had problems in the past with Prince, but it never came to this."
"It's nothing, I... Mr. Armando, your nose is bleeding quite a lot." Mia took a handkerchief from her pocket and got closer to the taller man, pressing the soft white cloth against his abused nose. The fabric soon turned a deep shade of red.
"You don't have to do this, kitten, I can manage," Diego assured her, but never made a move to stop her.
"Don't move." Mia cupped his cheek with her free hand to stabilize his head, soaking up as much blood as she could. Then she noticed the large brown stain on the arm of his usually spotless red shirt. "What happened?"
Diego shrugged. "That idiot wasn't calming down, so I offered him a cup of coffee. He just grabbed it and threw it my way." The male attorney looked at the white shards on the floor, his lips forming a thin line. "And it was my favorite mug, too."
Mia's eyes traveled over to what was left of Diego's most loved container, and the black beverage pooling around it like blood on a crime scene. Mia inwardly chuckled at the thought that, for Diego, breaking his favorite mug certainly held the same level of seriousness as a cold-blooded murder. But then she noticed some coffee was dripping from the desk, and groaned; the files that were on the desk, the files she had spent hours completing and which only required Diego's signature, were supporting enormous stains.
Diego noticed her groan and when he followed her eyes, his shoulders dropped. "I'm sorry about that, I'll take care of it."
"It's not your fault, you couldn't foresee anything." Once the blood stopped flowing, Mia dabbed his nose some more and pulled back. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"
"No, thank you."
The magatama at Mia's neck trembled, and she frowned. He was hiding something. "You're lying," she blurted out before she thought.
Diego blinked. "What makes you think I am?"
"Well... you haven't called me "kitten" since I walked in, and... I just can tell." Mia hoped that would be enough to convince Diego that if he was injured elsewhere, he'd better tell her.
The Spanish man seemed to debate for a while, but he sighed and brought his arm up. "Coffee was too hot, even for me," he mumbled. Mia took his wrist and rolled up his sleeve, gasping at what she saw. Under the brown stain she had noticed previously, Diego's skin was red and hot where coffee had attacked it.
"Dear God, Mr. Armando... Sit down, I have some salve in my office, I'll go get it. We need to treat this before it gets too serious." Mia ignored Diego's protests and exited his office, walking as fast as she could toward her own working space to retrieve a cream-colored vial, which she promptly brought back to her co-worker.
Said man had picked up a chair and taken a seat in it. The pain didn't look like it was bothering him much, but Mia had a feeling he was just trying to put up a good front. He didn't speak a work as she dragged the other chair across the office and sat down in front of him, taking his injured appendage from the armrest to have a look at it.
The tanned skin was red, as if sun burnt, and the lean muscle of his forearm twitched every time she probed his skin. He didn't utter a sound as she began rubbing the soothing salve into his abused flesh, drawing patterns with her right hand as she held his arm by the hand with her free one. His skin felt hot and smooth under her touch, and although she could feel his fingers twitch around her wrist, he never said anything.
Mia eventually let go when she was satisfied with the state of his forearm. "I don't have a bandage but anyway it's better if you don't wrap that burn."
"You heard everything, didn't you?" he asked so suddenly her grip on his hand almost faltered; but there was no hint of resentment in his tone, just genuine query.
"I... I happened to walk by when I went to retrieve some files..." she muttered uncertainly. Diego's unwavering brown stare soon had her lie crumbling away. "I didn't mean to spy, I was just... kind of worried about what would happen." And I was right, she almost added.
The male attorney's eyes fell to the floor, surprising Mia. Was he ashamed that she had to patch him up after the brawl, small as it was? Was stupid male pride the reason why he wouldn't meet her eyes?
His fingers tightened ever so slightly around her wrist. "Did you believe him? When he said I... forged evidence." His eyes drifted unconsciously to a piece of paper draped over the edge of his desk.
Mia blinked; so that was the reason he was so silent? He was afraid she had... lost faith in him? All because of an angered man's words?
"Oh, Mr. Armando..." She took his hand into both of hers, which got him to look up. "The idea never crossed my mind. You have nothing to worry about; if anything, I should be the one worrying for your sanity, if you wouldn't put it past me to doubt you over something so trivial."
To Mia's relief, a smaller version of a grin she knew far too well tugged at Diego's lips. He patted her knee with his free hand, nodding. "Thank you, kitten," was the only thing he muttered, but Mia knew he really was grateful.
"You're welcome. Now, you should head home, it's seven pm anyway, and you need a shower and a change of clothes. Don't worry about the mess," she added when he opened his mouth. "I'll clean it while I wait for Mr. Grossberg to come back. I have some things I need to tell him, and we both know he's bound to come back here before leaving tonight."
"Kitten, I can't let you do that, you had no part in this," Diego said, standing up when she did.
"You have to rewrite my files tomorrow, you said so yourself. The least I can do is tidy up your office a bit." Mia took the long brown coat that hung on a rack behind the door and presented it to Diego. "Now, you go home and take care of your nose and arm. You've got lots of things to do tomorrow."
Armando groaned, but eventually gave up. "Fine," he said as he took his coat from her. "Can I at least wait for you, and drive you home?" He had never liked the idea of his young, innocent kitten roaming the streets alone on those dark winter evenings. Made his blood boil, hotter even than the coffee that had singed his flesh.
But Mia shook her head. "No, thank you, there's somewhere I need to go tonight, before heading home."
The comment made Diego's stomach twist; was she seeing someone? He fought the furious growl that threatened to emerge from his throat, and ignored the hollowness in his chest as he grinned his trademark grin. "Getting cuddly tonight with a big mean cat?" he asked wolfishly, but it didn't sound right, even to his own ears.
Mia laughed, but never answered.
Diego's grin faltered. But it wasn't until he was outside, and alone, that it disappeared completely. He sighed. What a day...
It was white, plain, empty and yet full of untold promises, and beautiful. And it was sitting on his desk.
Diego had spotted the brand new mug immediately; how could he not, after all, since he had spent his walk from his car to his office mentally slapping himself for remembering to stop by the bakery for croissants, but forgetting to bring a spare mug at work. He had groaned at the thought that he had no choice but to use those awful styrofoam containers, which tainted his perfect coffee's taste. Or spend a day without coffee.
The attorney hung his coat and approached his spotless ebony desk; the mug stood out like a sore thumb, its pure white color challenging the dark wooden surface underneath.
There was a small orange ribbon tied to the handle; a gift? From whom? Diego's fingers caressed the soft fabric, and something black caught his eye. Upon closer inspection, he saw the little black cat drawn on the ribbon, and instantly understood.
"There's somewhere I need to go tonight" he mimicked inwardly, a soft smile gracing his features as he ran a finger along the simple yet elegant handle. She had bought him a new mug.
Mia Fey had bought him a new mug.
His eyes darted over to her office; the door was closed, but he could hear her. She was talking to someone on the phone, a client, from the sounds of it.
Diego walked over to where he kept his coffee maker and started it up, retrieving a medium-sized cup from the drawer underneath. Mia enjoyed coffee, just not straight black coffee. So Diego devoted the next ten minutes to making the best cappuccino he could, mixing coffee and milk – which came from a small bottle he kept for those special occasions – and even adding foaming milk thanks to his coffee maker. One lump of sugar, a spoon – he kept those for special occasions too: you never need to stir coffee – and once his own mug was filled to the brim, he deposited both containers and the croissants he had bought earlier on a tray he had "borrowed" one day from the cafeteria, with every intention of returning it... another day.
Office breakfast. No better way to show gratitude, as far as Diego was concerned.
The attorney reached out to untie the orange ribbon from the handle; but he decided against it in the end. He felt the little piece of fabric belonged there, just the way his little kitten felt right by his side.
Diego grinned as he picked up the tray, minding his tingling forearm, and walked out of his office. Oh, he had long since stopped denying it.
He was falling for Mia Fey.