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Let Her Walk

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Case ID: TL-2
Crime: Homicide
Victim: Mia Fey
Suspect: Maya Fey
Location: Fey & Co. Law Offices, 580 W. Broad St., Suite 302
Date: 05/09/2016

It took five re-reads of the case summary before Lana could see anything past the victim's name. Five re-reads, two sips of coffee, and a quick tuck of her hair back behind her ears, and she thought perhaps she should move on to the next page, since it was only one of a half-dozen cases to assign this morning.

She skimmed the précis; someone on the force had finally learned to put the important things up front. One decisive (and cooperative) witness, one piece of decisive evidence, one autopsy report, one suspect. Arrest made at the scene, suspect currently in interrogation, no defense on file. Every piece of information loosened the vice-grip around her lungs. By the end of the introductory material, she'd managed to lower her free hand to the arm of her chair, tapping her fingers in a conscious imitation of her usual habit.

She turned to the third page. "Suspect Data", it said, in reassuringly familiar lettering. "Suspect is the younger sister of the victim, Maya Fey (17)." But that's no older than Ema. She could feel her lips snarling slightly as she pointed out to herself that Ema had been quite capable of homicide. She forced her eyes down to the next paragraph. "Suspect resides in Kurain and had no prior arrangement to visit Los Angeles. Suspect purchased a one-way train ticket for cash two days prior. Suspect is a minor child, legal ward of Morgan Fey (aunt). Morgan Fey stated no knowledge of the suspect's travel plans, nor any recent contact between the victim and the suspect."

Mia had said something about that, once; they'd been watching The Godfather and Mia had stood up, suddenly, and switched off the TV, whispering that she'd come to the city to avoid all that. Mia hadn't elaborated as to what all that was; Lana hadn't pushed. But she'd seen the flashes of envy in Mia's eyes when she mentioned Ema, when she'd said that Ema planned to follow in her footsteps into police work. Mia had never mentioned an aunt at all. Lana wasn't even sure she had even specifically mentioned a sister.

Mia had just listened to her stories of stolen makeup, embarrassing photos, and superglue on the toilet seat in the name of scientific inquiry, and had said nothing. Only that she had walked away from all that, walked away from what it meant to be a Fey, and if they wanted to talk to her, they could come find her. And now, it seemed, they had. Los Angeles hadn't been far enough away for Mia to run.

Enough. She closed the file without reading the miscellanea of the crime scene or the autopsy report. Can't let it bog me down. Keep moving, keep going. Get it assigned and off your desk and onto the next one.

This would need a delicate hand in court; as much as her fingers itched to snatch the file up again, to write her own name across the top, to put Maya Fey's neck in the noose herself, she knew she couldn't. No, to accuse a minor of sororicide and have her tried as an adult would require more subtlety and manipulation than she had mastered. Impersonal would get this tried in juvenile court; vengeful would strain credibility. She opened up the court calendar and started down the list of names. Anderson and Gupta were on vacation, Davies, Milligan, Le Marre mid-trial, Payne was incompetent, Chesterton and von Karma would insist on prying out why she was so set on keeping this out of juvie, where it would be a five-minute case at most. Crime of passion, minor sibling, plea bargain, and Maya Fey would be in and out of detention and counseling in a year. Ema could have used the counseling. No, no, no. The rest were already assigned and investigating or too junior. Which brought her to the end of the list, and one name left. She erased the case she'd pencilled in by his name earlier that morning, and assigned State vs. Fey to Miles Edgeworth.

It wasn't technically violating the agreement, after all. The note, buried amid the case notes, personnel files, and stale bagels she'd inherited along with her office, had simply said "Do not assign Miles Edgeworth against Mia Fey." She hadn't recognized the handwriting, then. But there had been little instructions scattered throughout those first few weeks, most from Damon, but several in this hand. None had been outrageous in their demands, and she had committed each first to memory and then the shredder. It had almost been a favor to Mia, anyway; she had heard the stories about Mia's first trial second-hand, as one of the new detectives couldn't seem to stop talking about it. Mia had just shown up at the station at the close of business that day, with a bottle of cheap wine and a black-and-white movie on DVD. The same way they'd commemorated breakups, unfair professors, and Mia's first attempt at the bar exam. It was the last time she'd spoken to Mia.

Mia wouldn't be taking any more cases; one fewer restriction when juggling 15 prosecutors' schedules without tipping off anyone that the assignment was anything but random. Mia wouldn't be taking any more cases. She never would get her chance to see if a real trial against Mia was anything like the shouting matches they'd had in law school, anything like the grand battles they'd both imagined fighting.

She hadn't really noticed that she'd started moving until she was shutting the door of her office, file tucked under her arm. It's just a case. Drop it off and move on. Every click of her heels against the granite floor sounded like the fall of a gavel. Guilty, guilty, guilty. She wasn't sure who she was accusing, but the rhythm was soothing, and carried her down one flight of stairs and over to the other side of the building.

She pushed open the door without knocking; Edgeworth didn't even look up from his papers. Her presence was normal, everyday, routine. There was almost no-one else there that early, and she often dropped by even when she didn't have cases to deliver. But this morning, she did, and she crossed the room as quickly as she could without breaking stride.

She dropped the case file into the center of his desk, directly atop the stack of forms he had already completed that morning. A few papers fluttered at the impact, one sliding to the floor.

"Someone needs to hang for this," she said, unable to keep her jaw from clenching and turning the final sibilant into a soft hiss.

He looked up, then, his eyes gone just slightly wide with confusion. He held her gaze, silently, and she knew he was trying to read her expression. She stared back, facing him head-on. Straight forward, keep moving, every muscle still, eyes open. Finally he flinched first, looking down at the closed file on the desk. Perhaps she had given enough away in that moment, or perhaps he had given up on understanding her today, she wasn't sure. Either way, he straightened his shoulders, and slid the file over to the top of his to-do pile without opening it.

"Understood," he said, his voice quieter than hers, as always. Today, that meant barely above a whisper. She could hear his breathing in the quiet office as he reached over to retrieve his papers. She couldn't look away from the manila file, thin and unlabeled, and slightly askew from the rest of the stack of papers. She reached out and straightened it, feeling like she should have something to add on top. White roses for the dead, but all she had to lay across it was her hand, as pale as the manila.

"Was there anything else, Chief Skye?" Edgeworth was looking at her again, confusion replaced by something she might have thought to be worry. She shook her head, not trusting her voice any more, and pivoted sharply on her toes, letting momentum whip the rest of her body around, whip her hand off the file. With the folder no longer in sight, she found that she could move freely again, one foot in front of the other. It was the only thing she could do; leave the scene behind.

She could hear Damon's voice in her head, reassuring her, sturdy and strong. If you run, you look suspicious. If you stay, you get caught. So walk away, Lana. She obeyed.