When Lucas had pictured his future career, it was always sobbing widows in black veils, poor orphans taking on the big bads as he stood by them. (The occasional criminal, since one couldn’t pick and choose his cases.)
But mainly, of course, his absolutely inspired closing statements, the one that would sway the jury and get him the sentence he wanted. And if the widows and orphans were never more than blurry “means to ends”, if his dreams of pursuing justice ended with him plastered across magazines, well. He was only human.
But this. This was never supposed to happen.
The man across the table was completely unremarkable. Almost remarkably so. And yet, Lucas had no doubt that when the time came, he would be welcomed into hell by the devil himself.
He wasn’t trained for this. He’d defended thieves and murderers and some truly awful people, but this…he didn’t think he could do this. As a StarFleet public defender he knew he couldn’t choose his cases, he knew he couldn’t just walk away.
But he couldn’t even start writing an opening statement without wanting to throw up.
Glancing up from his notes, he swallowed once, twice, before shuffling his thoughts around. “After you plead guilty, what sentence do you want us to try for? If we plead temporary insanity, we can maybe get you onto the Tantalus colony. Maybe.“
He refused to put anything more than the bare minimum into this case. He might be a glory hound, he might be in it for money as much as justice, but even he had standards.
“Guilty? “ the man’s voice was unexpectedly smooth, rippling over the prison conference room and sending shudders down Lucas’s spine. He sounded as though he had no care in the world. As though he’d never watched a man die. Starve to death.
“We will not be pleading guilty. Nor were we temporarily insane. Our actions were logical. At the time. In hindsight they may seem extreme. But we can assure you, given adequate defense, our actions will be justified. “
Lucas could do little more than stare, horrified. He opened his mouth, hoping something more reasonable than “fucking what?” would come out. Unfortunately, it seemed his client wasn’t done.
“The witnesses they have are naturally inclined to paint us as a villain, being that they were of the lesser colonists, but we are sure a skilled lawyer could prove their bias false” He leaned back in his chair, hands folded peacefully in their cuffs.
Lucas was fairly certain his credentials had just been insulted. He was also very certain he didn’t care. He knew that not all the witnesses were from the “lesser colonists”, as this man seemed so certain of. He also knew he was probably obligated to tell his client that. He found that he didn’t much care for following protocol. Not with the evidence he had in his briefcase. Not with the previously classified testimonies he had been given.
This was going to be a horrifying interview.
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6 hours, 4 coffees, 3 Advils later, and his head was still pounding. Banging it repeatedly against his desk might not be helping, but stopping just meant he’d hear his clients voice whispering in his ear, refusing to plead guilty. Justifying his actions. He wondered who would get the case if he quit his job and moved to the Mars colony.
He couldn’t do this. Couldn’t possibly defend this man, couldn’t stand before a court and his victims and his own goddamned reflection if he even thought the words Not Guilty.
Someone knocked on his office door. Desperate for some distraction, even if it was another coworker who wanted to know exactly what a mass murdering genocidal maniac looks like up close. (Ordinary. Normal. Like someone you’d pass in the street and never think about again.) (Terrifying.)
It took him 5 seconds to recognize Captain James T. Kirk in full dress uniform. It took him another 3 seconds to connect him to the ‘Eyewitness: JTK, [minor] (Tarsus 9)Redacted’ that was on his witness list. It took him only 2 more seconds to stand up and desperately offer a hand while apologizing for the mess.
The Captain, for his part, seemed increasingly amused. Lucas wasn’t sure why, since his identity as a Tarsus IV survivor was about to be announced throughout the galaxy, not to mention the fact that he was currently face to face with the man responsible for defending his…what? He wondered how you describe that kind of relationship.
Personally, he would have preferred a right hook to the chin. But the Captain’s handshake was solid, not too long but firm. Slightly hysterical, he wondered if they taught that at the academy, along with effortless charm and disarming grins. Or maybe James Kirk was special. (Which of the list had he been on, Oh God, which list?)
“Captain Kirk, I-“
“Jim,“ the Captain interrupted. “Please, call me Jim.” He smiled, blue eyes friendly over the desk. Lucas thought he was going to throw up. The Captains gaze roamed further over his desk, lingering on documents he was probably more familiar with than Lucas ever would be, finally landing on Lucas himself, piercing blue and terrifyingly open.
“You were assigned the case only this morning.” Lucas nodded dumbly, not interrupting “and in that time you’ve interviewed the…client, requested and received the eyewitness testimonials and related evidence, and submitted a request, which was denied, to be transferred off the case.“
Again, Lucas could only nod, wondering why the Captain was even speaking to him. He was the enemy. He had made himself the enemy.
“Let me guess. He’s pleading not guilty.“ The Captain -Jim- continued softly. “He’s going to plead Not Guilty, and insist that he made the right choices. That his actions were logical.
-I work with a Vulcan you know,” Jim interrupted himself. “They’re very big fans of logic. Have you ever seen a disgusted Vulcan before?” Lucas shook his head, wondering idly of he’d ever even speak during this whole exchange “I have. Several in fact. All reactions related to this particular case.”
Kirk looked faintly amused again, but it faded into an almost feral kind of concern. He turned those blue eyes on Lucas, who found himself wondering if Captain Kirk had ever considered a career in law. He could probably flip a jury with those eyes alone.
“3 of the 9 eyewitnesses StarFleet has were children at the time. Of the 3, I’m the only one who will, and can, testify. Regardless of what StarFleet wants.“
Lucas had been doing this long enough, reading victims, criminals, juries, long enough to recognize a desperate kind of lie when he heard one. He wondered if the other two had been given the option, or if Captain Kirk had immediately stepped in to protect them.
“I thought, maybe, that he would plead guilty. That over the years he had changed, or been changed. But that’s not going to happen. And I can’t allow him to insist, again, that we deserved to die. Too many of my k- too many of us have spent so much of our lives believing him.”
Dimly, through the slowly mounting discomfort, Lucas realized that the rumors of a “child’s rebellion“ had been true. That the Captain Kirk had always been, in some sense, a Captain. He wondered how far he was willing to protect his “crew”. Glancing at some of the documents on his desk, he thought he knew.
“There were Betazoids on the planet.“ The sudden change in topic shocked Lucas out of his revelation induced daze. He stared at the Captain, not entirely sure where he should be going with that piece of information. Unbothered by his obvious confusion, the Captain continued.
“There were Vulcans and Bolians as well, and a few other species, but the Betazoids are the ones you should focus on. As members of the Federation, they have the right to request a Betazoid court try him. And in accordance to Betazoid law, there would be no defense or prosecution. There is a mediator, who questions the man on trial, and a trained telepath that announces his answers to the court. However, we need him to agree.“ the Captain stared at him as he spoke, every word pronounced carefully. Almost like he wanted to be sure Lucas understood what he wanted.
As if Lucas could miss it.
He cleared his throat, shuffling a few papers around in his desk. “There are no witnesses either. Traditionally“ The Captain nodded.
“No. There aren’t.“
They stared at each other for a moment, two men connected only by a single, rotten thread. Abruptly, Lucas stood, suddenly sure that he’d follow this case till the end. “I can have him request a Betazoid trial,“ he said briskly “it won’t even take much effort on my part. Just convince him it was his idea. That any telepath will prove he…will agree with him. I assume you’re taking care of the rest?“
Captain Kirk stood, straightening his uniform and donning his hat. “Yes, everything will be arranged with the Betazoid embassy by tomorrow evening.”
“Thank you for your time Mr. Lucas. It was a pleasure doing business with you.“
Lucas stood, escorting Kirk to his door. “Of course Captain. It’s always a honor to serve StarFleets finest.“
He turned back to his desk, knowing his greatest closing statement would only ever be heard by one man.
He had work to do.