A/N: Ta-dah! The latest addition to the story. After this, there's only one chapter to go. Now, Kaiba might be a teensy bit OOC here, but I did my absolute best to keep him IC. Hope you like it. Kinda fluffy here.
Muggs Vs. The State Part 2
Back in the courtroom, it was time for the defense to present their argument. Sonja figured she couldn't have been more nervous. She knew she was safe enough, what with the guards and what Kaiba had promised her, but she sorely wished she could be at home, pretending this never happened.
Lestor, Allan's attorney, stood up and cleared his throat. Robinson leaned over to Sonja.
"He's going to present his defense for Allan." He whispered.
"But how can he defend him after he stabbed me?" she asked.
"Allan will have told him that you had the gun against him before he stabbed you. He'll claim self-defense." Robinson said grimly. Sonja could hardly believe it.
Lestor called up his first witness and Sonja's heart sank when she saw who it was. It was Mick, the kid who attacked her the night she was stabbed. Robinson noticed her discomfort.
"Relax, Sonja. Listen, if in the event the defense comes up with a plausible argument, we still have our last resort."
"And what's that?"
"Our rebuttal witness. Someone to counter Allan's argument in our favor."
"Does Lestor know about this?"
"Of course. Rule number one in law school; no surprise attacks. We may or may not have to call him up, but just be prepared if we do, okay?"
Lestor addressed Mick the same way he did everyone else.
"Mick Brighton." He began. "How do you know my client?"
Mick shrugged. "I'm fresh out of college, see? During high school, I needed help and my parents don't exactly tolerate me. I met this guy at a seminary talk they forced us to go to and he saw promise in me."
"So what did he do?"
"He offered me a job at this stable he had."
"Yeah, pretty run-down. He had a few aging horses; skin and bones, I tell you. I was to feed 'em, groom 'em, put 'em and bring 'em in and stuff. He paid me, gave me a place to stay away from my folks and let me go to school and stuff. But he had to sell the horses because they were getting too expensive to keep."
Sonja got a bitter taste in her mouth at the phoniness of this speech. He was totally lying. She knew for a fact that Allan never had any stable at any of his various houses.
"Did you continue to keep in contact with my client?" Lestor pried.
"Sure. He gave me odd jobs and kept me at my schooling. I'm studying to be a horse trainer."
"I see. Now, what was your typical salary for keeping his stables tidy?"
Mick thought for a moment. "Eh, about fifty a month." He said. Here, Lestor frowned, but didn't say anything.
Robinson leaned over to Sonja. "That little mistake could help." He whispered.
Lestor continued. "Now, how are you affiliated with Sonja Gavens? Have you ever seen her before?"
Mick studied Sonja. "Nope." He said.
Sonja was appalled. That creep! She thought.
"So in your eyes, my client is trustworthy?" Lestor asked.
"Yeah, the next best thing to sliced bread." Mick said with a stupid grin. "I mean, the guy got me through school. He may look tough and hard, but he's got a heart o' gold, people!"
Sonja shook her head. Boy, was he milking it.
Lestor nodded to Robinson and turned to sit down. Robinson stood up to cross-reference Mick.
"Hello, Mr. Brighton." He said. "Now, I only have a couple of questions. When you said you worked in the stables belonging to Mr. Muggs, you mentioned you were paid about fifty a month, is that correct?"
"Now, this is slightly confusing, since fifty dollars, whether in Japanese or in American currency, is a very small amount these days for a kid practically on his own in high school. How did you afford books, tuition and necessities?"
Mick faltered a minute. "Uh, Allan paid for those for me." He said quickly.
"Oh? Then why bother paying you to do work for him if he was going to pay for it all himself? Since you were on your own, it obviously wasn't for life skills and if you're such a big horse lover, you'd probably vouch to do it for free, is that right?"
Mick blinked. "Uh, yeah. Sure."
"Then why didn't Mr. Muggs pay you more to take care of his horses?"
Mick seemed to be searching frantically for an answer. Finally he sighed. "I don't know why he didn't pay me more." He said irritably.
Robinson turned away. "I have no further questions." He said.
"You may sit down." The judge said to Mick. Mick took his seat, ignoring angry glares from Allan as he did.
Lestor stood up again. "I'd like to call my client to the stand." He said.
Allan sauntered to the stand, radiating confidence. He threw a smug look at Sonja as he took a seat and swore in.
"Now, Mr. Muggs," Lestor began. "Ms. Gavens mentioned that you were friends with her father when you were in college. Is this true?"
Allan chuckled. "Ol' Damon." He said. "Yup, that's true."
"Then you must have known Sonja herself, for a long time." Lestor said.
"Oh yeah, I was there when the little tyke was walking and talking for the first time. Cute little thing, she was, too."
"Lets' stay on topic, Mr. Muggs." Lestor said firmly. "Now, exactly how did you react when you found the sisters on your doorstep out of the blue one day?"
"I was shocked. I'd heard that something awful had happened to their parents and I'd spent weeks trying to get a hold of them. I was worried sick about the little girls. So when they showed up at my door, I took 'em in."
"Apparently, Sonja stole some money from you in order to buy plane tickets and run away, yet again."
Allan snorted. "Yeah. Well over two grand. That's why I came looking for them. I wanted to know what they'd done with my money."
"Did you intend to harm them at all once you found them?"
"Of course not. I just hated being lied to and stolen from. I would have forgiven the whole stupid thing. I went looking for Sonja and when I found her, I was trying to ask where the money was. Now, I know this is against the law, but I had a firearm on me for protection. She got it away from me and threatened me with it. I didn't want to hurt her, I was only defending myself, honest."
Lestor nodded. "No further questions, your Honor." He said.
Robinson stood up and approached Allan. "Mr. Muggs," he began. "You mentioned that you'd gone looking for Sonja in order to get the money back. Tell me, if you knew they took it and you were going to forgive them, why did you go after them?"
"Why, to bring them back."
"And if you truly meant no harm toward Sonja, why then did you stab her six times, putting her in the hospital for three weeks and nearly killing her?"
"I'm telling you, she shot at me."
Robinson reached into his folder and pulled out a picture of a gun. He showed it to the judge who approved in and then handed it to Allan.
"Is this your gun?" Robinson asked.
"Yep. That's it."
"This is the gun Sonja shot at you with?"
Robinson put the picture away. "I have one more piece of evidence to present to the court, your Honor." He said to the judge.
A portable television set was rolled in front of the court and Robinson moved to stand next to it. "I have with me, courtesy of Kaiba Corporation, the security tapes of the night of my client's attack."
He pushed the tape into the VCR and pressed PLAY. A grainy, black and white image appeared showing Kaiba entering the main lobby. After a few seconds, Allan appeared from behind the secretary's desk and stopped behind him, moving a gun into view and clearly threatening him with it. Kaiba slowly moved forward, barely off the screen with Allan still in view. Allan was waving the gun around, mouthing words, only taking his eyes away for seconds at a time.
"Now watch the screen carefully on your left-hand side." Robinson said.
Sure enough, the front door opened and Sonja appeared, moving carefully toward Allan, suddenly darting off screen as Allan turned around. She appeared again and got down onto her hands and knees, crawling slowly toward him until she was able to stand up behind him. Allan raised the gun up, aiming and Sonja suddenly pounced on him, pulled him back and reaching for the weapon. Robinson paused the tape. "Now you see, my client only grabbed for the gun in order to protect Mr. Kaiba who had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, watch the next few scenes closely."
He started the tape again. Sonja had the gun and was aiming it at Allan. He started to say something and she fired the weapon, not at Allan, but at the floor several feet away.
She looked off to the right suddenly where Kaiba supposedly was, wavered slightly and then lowered the gun, dropping it to the floor. Robinson paused the tape again. "As you saw, my client did in fact fire the gun, but not at Mr. Muggs as claimed. And she also lowered the weapon, so please consider that."
He started the tape once more. Kaiba had moved back on screen and Sonja was calling someone on a cell phone.
All of a sudden, Allan charged forward toward Kaiba and slashed at him with a knife procured from his jacket. Kaiba was stunned for a minute as Allan attacked Sonja, throwing himself bodily at her and knocking her to the floor, pinning her down as he raised the knife. He held her throat with his left hand and continuously plunged the blade into her chest until she ceased moving. He paused as Kaiba turned around and was about to stab her again when Kaiba snatched the gun off the floor and held it to Allan's head. He suddenly slammed the gun against his head, knocking him unconscious and then moving to check on Sonja. This is where Robinson stopped the tape for the last time, shutting the set off.
"So, Mr. Muggs." Robinson said. "Are you willing to reiterate on your claim of self-defense?"
Allan was seething, but remained slightly calm. "Yes." He gritted out. Robinson turned away. "I have no further questions, your Honor."
He sat down beside Sonja, smiling at her discreetly. Sonja seemed hopeful and turned to look at her friend sitting behind her. He was staring at the clock, oblivious.
The judge cleared his throat. "Will the attorneys now present their closing statements?"
Robinson stood up. He folded his hands behind his back and sighed, facing the jury. "Now, I know some of you might be thinking. 'Is she really innocent? Is she really telling the truth?' Well, please, let me assure you, that she is. My client has been the unfortunate victim of the modern day underworld of drugs, forced prostitution and violence at an early age and yet she's spoken not a word of it to anyone for almost fourteen years. Can any of you imagine going that long without talking to anyone? Can you imagine the aftereffects of such silence?"
He paused to let that sink in.
"I'm sure none of you can." He said gently. "It's all right, you don't have to. You've all had the privilege of living happy, peaceful childhoods, adolescents and adulthoods. You can't imagine that kind of life because you were fortunate. Think about how you saw my client today. If you noticed the look in her eyes, what do you think it was? I'll tell you. It was the look of an old woman on the very edge of her life. This girl is only eighteen and yet she's almost an elderly adult, never experiencing the life a teenage girl should be able to lead. She can never get it back. She can never have a second chance, to try to stop what happened before. She has to live each and every day with these memories and these scars, forced to let them haunt her day in and day out."
He paused again, facing away from the jury. "I'm sure some of you have daughters at home. Well, obviously you love them more than anything in the world. Like them, Sonja is also someone's daughter and someone's loving, caring and quiet sister. She has nearly nothing now and what she does have, she's worked all by herself to get. As I said, she's told no one of this for years and now that she finally has a chance at total freedom, it falls into the hands of you people from all over. You've never seen her, you've never seen each other and yet, you all share the same thing; you want to make the right decision. Sonja, despite her hardships, has put her trust into you to make that right decision. And now, from here on out, I leave it to you to decide."
He turned and sat back down. Sonja watched fearfully as Lestor stood up.
"Fellow human beings of the jury," he began. " Mr. Robinson presents a compelling and moving statement. But he's been in this practice for years. His job is to fool you into acquitting the wrong person. My client Mr. Muggs was simply entangled in a web of events too complicated for any human to solve alone. Ms. Gavens had obviously been living in the streets for quite some time, hiding the fact that she abandoned her family. Mr. Muggs took her in, unaware that she had grown clever. He provided her with a place to live, food and warmth. And yet, despite all of this kindness toward her, she rejected it and stole from him, lied to him and ran away yet again, fleeing to American soil where she wouldn't be questioned. Effectively burying her past, she thought she'd escaped. But all Mr. Muggs wanted was confirmation, so he simply wanted to find her. Is that so wrong? Is it such a crime to seek the truth?"
He paused a moment, eyeing each member of the jury in turn.
"There is no wrong in searching for the correct answer. And when you've been done wrong like my client, you go searching for the correct justice you seek. Isn't that right? It's only human nature to seek out justice for wrongs done to you. Such is to be said for my client. He was robbed, and he wanted nothing more than to seek the truth from Ms. Gavens. As Mr. Robinson stated, your duty, obligation and desire in this courtroom is to seek justice where it lies waiting and deliver it to the one worthy of its stinging blow. I stand before you now, saying with full honesty that my client is undeserving of such a hard strike."
He nodded respectfully and returned to his seat.
The judge cleared his throat. "Now that the closing statements have been said, the jury will now retreat to decide the verdict."
Lestor stood up. "Your honor, I'd like to request a directed verdict." He said.
"Overruled." The judge said. "This court is dismissed until further notice."
He rammed his gavel down and stood up. The courtroom stood up as he left and then everyone started to move around.
Sophie, sobbing, leapt over the wall dividing them and threw herself into her sister's arms.
Sonja hugged her tightly as Allan was led away by officers until the jury decided on a verdict. Sonja knew this part of the case was finally over, but there was still the jury's verdict to contend with. If it came up not guilty, Allan would be set free and she'd be in grave danger. If it came up guilty, he could get sixty to life, Robinson had said.
Sonja wanted to talk to Robinson, but he told her that the reporters outside were even worse today and they'd have to go straight back to the hotel immediately.
Sonja was strangely calm with this. Going back to the hotel actually sounded like heaven compared to this.
She was so drained, she didn't even remember how they got there in the end.
As predicted, the reporters were even worse. Sonja couldn't even look out her window without one of them spotting her. She ended up confined in her room with only a novel she'd read twice already. Needless to say, she was getting very bored.
Sophie had discovered a game room on the first floor, far enough away from the door that she wouldn't be bothered by anyone. As it turned out, she was even better at games than Mokuba and it seemed that Mokuba wasn't about to let that one go. They were in constant competition.
Sonja spent most of her time alone, now. It had been a day since the case ended and the jury was still deliberating.
Sonja sat down on the bed, tugging on strands of her hair and staring into space. She wanted some soda or something, but didn't dare go down into the lobby. Besides, tap water would suffice. She got up and went into the bathroom, turning on the faucet and letting it get as cold as possible. But suddenly, she didn't feel thirsty anymore, shut the faucet off and went back into the other room.
She sat down on the bed with a sigh, feeling rather depressed. She missed her shop and just wanted this whole thing to be over with.
She glanced at the digital clock on the table beside the window. It was going to be dark soon. She supposed she'd go to sleep and hope this nightmare was going to end, soon.
As she got up to close the curtains, she heard someone at the door. Curious, she went over and cautiously opened it, keeping the chain on. "Hello?"
"Sonja," Kaiba said quietly. "Come on, it's safe to come out."
She undid the chain and opened the door a little more. "What's going on?"
"Sophie told you've been shut up in here for hours. You're coming with me for a little while."
He turned away.
"Wait," Sonja exclaimed. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just hurry up." He grumbled. Sonja sighed irritably and shut the door, locking it with her room card.
As she followed him, she kept an eye out for anyone suspicious-looking.
"Where are we going, exactly?"
Sonja blinked. "How? I actually saw some people in sleeping bags out front. How are we going to get past them?"
He smirked and she knew he was up to something.
This didn't seem promising.
As it turns out, it seemed he'd discovered a broken emergency exit door near the back of the building. When he opened it, the alarm didn't sound and Sonja could see that it led to a back alleyway.
He shut the door carefully behind them and motioned for her to follow him.
"We have to be quiet." He muttered. "This is only a few meters away from the front of the building and we'll have about five minutes to use on getting away from here."
"You have way too much free time on your hands." Sonja grumbled.
"Normally, I don't. But I'm sure you didn't know that I get bored pretty easily." He said wryly.
"Join the club." Sonja mumbled.
At the street, Kaiba glanced out. There was no one in sight.
It was already night and the streetlamps were just coming on.
"Where are we going?" she asked again.
"I'll tell you…if you can keep a secret." Kaiba said.
But he didn't answer so she let it go, figuring he'd probably tell her after awhile.
About ten minutes later, she found out. By now, they'd reached the slum part of town, about five miles from her shop and a quarter of a mile from the hotel. The buildings here were run down and decrepit and stray cats appeared here and there, scavenging through the trash cans for food.
"Why'd you bring us here?" she asked.
Again, he didn't answer. But this time, he just glanced at her and motioned to the left. When she turned, she could see an old wooden port, probably abandoned.
"This used to be the Domino fishing docks." Kaiba explained. "Until the foundations started to give out and the city decided it would be cheaper to build a new one across town than to repair this one. Most of the people in the city don't even remember this is here. For one reason or another, they left it standing."
He approached the old wooden railing overlooking where some of the dock used to be. There was a small strip of sand below and Sonja could see a small crowd of people down there, lighting candles on little paper boats and setting them adrift in the water. From the light of the candles, she could see the water's filthy greenish color.
"It's polluted." She murmured. Kaiba nodded.
"Another reason why these docks were abandoned. The fish started to die out here and business was bad."
Sonja watched a small group of children below.
"Who are those people?" she asked.
"The dregs of the city." He said. "They're homeless families, vagrant runaways and orphans who avoided the child welfare."
"And they gather here for these paper boats?"
Kaiba nodded again. "Once a month." He replied.
Something occurred to Sonja, then. "Wait a second, how do you know so much about them? And how do you know where this place is?"
Kaiba looked away, for the first time, appearing uncomfortable. "This is what I wanted to keep secret, Sonja." He said quietly.
Before he could continue, there was a sound of small footsteps coming up the rotting wooden staircase. Sonja turned to see a small girl dressed in an oversized raincoat and pigtails approaching them cautiously. She held up a poorly folded paper boat with a small, stubby candle taped in the center.
"Hi." She said. "I'm not allowed to use matches. Can you help me?"
She held up a single match and smiled.
To Sonja's shock, Kaiba carefully took the paper boat and match from the little girl and set the boat down on the railing. He struck the match against the dry wood and touched the flame to the candle before waving it out and handing the boat back to the little girl.
"Thanks a ton, mister!" she exclaimed, turning and hurrying back down to the beach to join the other kids. She set the boat into the water and gave it a push. As it began to drift away, she turned back and waved.
Sonja could watch, speechless. She glanced at Kaiba who was leaning on the railing, watching the people below.
"I used to come here a lot." He said. " When I first took over Kaiba Corp, I had no idea what running a company like that was really like. Within the first week, I was exhausted and couldn't take it. But I didn't dare show how stressed I was."
He paused as a car passed on the road behind them and sped off into the distance. Sonja just listened quietly.
"One night, I decided to go for a walk to try to calm my nerves. By sheer chance, I happened upon this place and it was the night of the month that these people gather for the paper boats. I…I was afraid that they'd recognize me, even though that was irrational. But they paid no attention to me. Those that did see me only thought I was just another person.
"I enjoyed that thought, knowing that I could blend in here. To them, it didn't matter who you were. Everyone comes here to just be human, if only for a little while."
He fell silent and Sonja just stared. This man standing next to her was the infamous Seto Kaiba, known for his indifference to everything and everybody except his little brother. The one with the stone heart.
But Sonja could tell that people only said that because they didn't know anything else to think about him. As she watched the little paper boats floating peacefully on the water, she realized that he was showing her a side of him that nobody, not even Mokuba knew existed. The part he'd locked away years ago for the sake of his and Mokuba's survival. For a few minutes there, she'd been able to see the real Seto Kaiba, the one who still possessed fear, and doubt and weakness, all the traits that modern day humanity shuns in favor of supposed strength.
In a way, she was honored that he'd allowed her to see this other side. But she was also scared, because she now had this secret to carry as well. She was the only one who knew what he was hiding from everybody, even his brother. From this simple talk, she'd attained something almost unattainable; his trust. And he was counting on her to keep it, whether he knew it or not.
Sonja glanced at him again. He had a rather peaceful look on his face.
They continued watching the people below.
The elderly couple seated beneath a raggedy blanket, holding hands and smiling at the children.
The young couple sitting nearby, a small girl sitting between them and watching her brother light his paper boat and set it adrift.
The orphan girl assisting the young children with her boats and ignoring the infected scar on her right eye.
All of these totally different people gathered together in one place for one reason; to celebrate. Whether it was life, death, new, old, past or future, it didn't matter.
Sonja suddenly found her anxiety slipping away, her mind at ease.
She moved closer and leaned her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes. "I appreciate this." She said. "Thanks."
Kaiba was stunned, to say the least. But he just watched her for a second and then faced the water again. One of the people below had built a small fire on the beach and everyone was gathering around it. The soft glow was comforting.
You'll see, Sonja, he thought, The verdict will come out guilty and you'll be free. Just wait a little longer.
A/N: Well, how was it? Was it kinda cute? Kaiba was sort of IC. If it was any worse, I have no regrets because it's waaay better than the first version. R&R!