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Notes: Apologies for the delay between chapters. Work has been incredibly hectic. Being a grown up sucks! Thank you so much to people who have posted this around and written reviews. I love getting feedback!

Today was the day of Athena's party for Simon, and she couldn't be more of a nervous wreck. Though she worked as hard as she normally does, Widget remained in his anxious yellow state for the majority of the workday. During breaks, she went over the party "to do" list, driving everyone crazy: she checked to make sure that the decorations were still there and had not been moved, she called the food deliverers to triple check that they would be there on time, and she called Miles to ensure he would do his best to help with the surprise aspect of the party.

Meanwhile, Simon was finishing up his work for the day when he heard a knock on his door. "Enter," he said, glancing up. Miles opened the door and peered in.

"Simon, I have a request. Mr. Wright has asked us to meet with him regarding an upcoming case." This better work.

Simon smirked. "Is it time for the surprise party?"

Miles shook his head. "It appears Athena somehow found out you know about the party, and thus moved it to next week."

"Hm." Simon rubbed his chin. "Interesting. I'm surprised someone like her could wait that long. Did Wright-dono say what the case was about?"

Miles shook his head and shrugged. "He said that he was unable to divulge the information on the phone, but what he was able to say is that a particular item had been stolen several years ago and had suddenly reappeared. I believe that this may be tied to at least one murder."

Simon straightened. "I will accompany you, Edgeworth-dono. Please allow me a moment to organize my office and I will be out right away."

Miles nodded and exited the room, breathing the quietest sigh of relief he could manage. It seems like Simon bought the story. He had warned Athena that Simon was onto the ruse, but that he would do his best to lead him off course. Now, all we need to do is keep his suspicion low...

Taka squawked and flew to Simon's shoulder. Simon rubbed Taka's head and said to the bird, "I believe we have work to do." He quickly and quietly put his files away. His eyes drifted to his desk drawer, which he opened hesitantly. Inside lay a small yellow box with light blue ribbon around it. Simon gingerly picked up the box and slid it into a breast pocket on the inside of his coat. Just in case... The two headed out the door, with Simon turning off the lights and locking the door behind them.

The trip to the Wright Anything Agency was a relatively quiet one, with Miles looking especially pensive. Something Wright-dono said on the phone must have really gotten to him, Simon thought to himself, but he still felt like it was possible Miles was leading him on. The story did sound somewhat similar to his own case, after all. The three of them walked up to the front door and Miles opened it, leading them inside.

"Nick?" Miles called, but no one responded. In fact, Wright Agency was completely dark. "...Nick?" Miles called out again, more worried. "Simon, be prepared for anything..." Miles spoke softly, his voice trembling ever so slightly. Simon's right hand went immediately to the katana at his belt, and Miles flipped the light switch.

"SURPRISE!" A multitude of voices jumped at Simon, Taka squawked and flew off his shoulder, and he pulled his katana out halfway before realizing what had been said. Sliding the sword back into its sheath, he scanned the room, stunned. Athena, Apollo, and the person he believed to be Clay had jumped out from behind a couch. Phoenix and Gumshoe had jumped in from Phoenix's office. A young girl (who Simon guessed to be Trucy) and another young girl he didn't recognize at all, jumped out from behind a curtain on what appeared to be a stage. Simon shot a look at Miles, initially irritated, but then he saw Miles was holding back laughter and couldn't help but chuckle himself.

"Were you surprised?" Athena asked, clasping her hands together. "We have so much stuff for you!"

Simon took another look around the room. Every single decoration had some kind of bird theme to it. Streamers with canaries on them, a stack of robin-embroidered cups and bluebird napkins. Pictures of hawks and eagles lined the walls, some of which appear to have been drawn by someone, likely Trucy and perhaps the other girl. Suddenly, he felt a bit embarrassed by the box in his jacket. Stupid... 

"You... don't like it?" Widget flashed bright yellow.

"Hm?" Simon snapped back to reality. "No, Cykes-dono, it is wonderful." He bowed. "I was thoroughly surprised at the ability of both you and Edgeworth-dono to mislead me. I appreciate the kind gesture, and am immensely amused at the party decorations."

Athena jumped up and down. "I'm so happy!" It was true, Widget was bright green, with a smile on his "face." "Let me introduce you to everyone." Simon was led around the room and introduced to Clay, Trucy, and someone named Pearl Fey. Upon introduction, he seemed to remember she was involved with the one case with the orca. Indeed, she did seem to have a penguin calendar in her possession, further convincing him he'd seen her before. Trucy explained that she would be providing a "pro bono" (had Phoenix taught her that phrase?) show for him on account of him never having had the chance to see her magic shows. Athena grabbed him arm and hastily showed him the mini sushi bar they had set up. 

Simon couldn't help but feel touched by how much trouble everyone seemed to have gone through. Unconsciously, Simon wrapped his arm around Athena's shoulder and pulled her closer to him; he didn't notice he had done this until Athena flung her arms around his torso and hugged him tightly. "Your heart is practically singing!" She was completely aglow.

Simon laughed. "You are practically singing yourself, Cykes-dono."

Athena blushed deeply and pulled away, rubbing the back of her head the way Phoenix often did. "O-oh, you know, it's nothing! I'm just happy you're here and that we've been able to hang out!"

It was Simon's turn to blush slightly. "Yes, I have also enjoyed being able to spend time with you..."

On the other end of the room, Clay was laughing. "I can see what's happening..."

"What?" Apollo asked, turning away from watching Phoenix and Miles talk.

"They don't have a clue."

"Who?" Apollo looked around the room.

"Oh, nothing..." Clay walked over to the sushi table and poked Simon. "You should eat some sushi first!"

"Hm? Oh, yes, of course." Simon grabbed a cardinal-stamped plate and placed several pieces of sushi on it, including a few for Taka. After he began eating his, others grabbed plates and lined up to get their own. Soon the room was filled with talking and laughter, and Simon was soon acquainted with those he had not known before.

Clay Terran was an employee of Cosmos Space Center, working not only as an astronaut, but also as a tour guide and educator. He seemed incredibly close to Apollo, and Simon found himself a bit envious that they had such a close and longstanding relationship. The closest he'd had to something like that was with Metis, Athena's mother, though she was more of a mentor figure for him. Taka, of course, was his dearest friend, but it was different, and probably a bit embarrassing upon contemplation, that his best friend was a bird. He had Athena had become closer over the past year, but he doubted he could reach what Apollo and Clay seemed to have...

Pearl Fey, apparently affectionately known as "Pearly" (which she insisted everyone call her), was the younger cousin of Maya and the sister of (deceased) Mia Fey. He had not met either of her family members, but Maya was rumored to be coming in this weekend for the magic show. Pearl, like many members of her family, appeared to be a talented spirit medium and was partially responsible for keeping Phoenix's magatama charged. Simon spent a good portion of time listening to Pearl explain her role as a spirit medium, and said she would look into perhaps finding Simon a magatama, if he were interested.

Trucy Wright was the absolutely adorable adoptive daughter of Phoenix Wright. She had a talent for magic, though Simon was slightly disturbed at her carrying around what she called her "magic panties." Simon noted a passing likeness between her and Apollo, but thought little of it. Apparently, she was fast friends with Jinxie Tenma, who had been involved with the case regarding the murder of the Nine-Tails Vale Alderman. Trucy told her that Jinxie would have come to the party, but she was helping her father prepare for a wrestling match. It was all the same to Simon, as frankly, that girl kind of creeped him out, but he thanked her for the thought regardless.

Simon went to refill his sushi when he saw Pearl moving to feed Taka the fish portion of her own sushi. "Ah, Pearly... I would be careful, Taka doesn't much like other peo--" Taka ate the fish from Pearl's hand and affectionately nibbled her fingers. Simon chuckled. "I suppose he has taken to you just fine."

Pearl laughed and smiled at Simon. "You're silly, Mr. Blackquill. Animals tend to love me!" She pet Taka, who thoroughly reveled in the attention from the young girl.

"He's growing soft, I see." Simon smirked and finished restocking his plate.

"Attention one and all!" Trucy yelled, out of sight. "It is time... for the magic show!" Athena and Apollo threw open the curtains on either side of the stage, and Simon made his way back to the couch. "This show is dedicated to Mr. Simon! Hurrah for him not being a jailbird anymore!"

"Trucy..." Phoenix appeared to be sweating slightly, but Simon laughed.

"For my first trick..." Trucy held up a bright blue scarf. "Athena, m'lady, can you see through this scarf?"

"Nope!" Athena threw up a peace sign.

"Excellent!" She showed the audience both sides of the scarf, showing that there was nothing attached to it. She straightened her arms as she grasped the center of the scarf and lifted it up, a dove flying out. The audience ooh'd and ahh'd at the feat, and Simon found himself rather impressed, as he couldn't tell how she'd done it.

Taka squawked and flew after the dove. "Taka, no!" Simon yelled as the hawk grasped the dove in its talons. Trucy screamed, and Gumshoe and Miles jumped up. "Taka! Release!" Taka voiced the hawk equivalent of a grumble and released the dove, unharmed. The dove flew back to Trucy, visibly shaken.

"My apologies, Trucy. Doves are natural prey for hawks. It slipped my mind, as Taka normally eats fish and rodents only." Clearly trying not to cry, Trucy nodded as if she accepted the apology. Simon felt awful. "I have an idea," Simon said after a moment. "May I show you a magic trick?"

"Y-You know magic?" Trucy exclaimed. Athena blushed and turned away, walking toward Gumshoe, who looked a little concerned.

Simon smiled. "I know a magic trick," he clarified. Turning to Phoenix, he asked, "Have you a zip tie by any chance?" Phoenix nodded and retrieved one from the office kitchen. "Trucy, please tighten the tie around my wrists as tightly as you can." Trucy followed the request, and Simon followed up by putting the end of the tie between his teeth and pulling as tightly as possible. He ensured that the tie lock was located between his wrists and hit the tie against his stomach, opening his elbows upon impact and allowing his hands to spring away from his body.

The zip tie flew off his wrists and landed on the floor and Trucy squealed with delight. "How did you do that?"

Simon smiled. That seemed to have worked. "I would be happy to show you it, but of course, only you. A master magician should keep her secrets close to her heart." Trucy nodded vigorously and Phoenix went to grab some more zip ties, and a pair of scissors, just in case. The two spent a good fifteen minutes in the corner until Trucy could do the trick as well. Beaming, she showed Clay and Apollo, who politely clapped when she managed to do it on the first try.

"Thank you," Phoenix said quietly to Simon, who shook his head.

"I should have paid more attention. I apologize for traumatizing Trucy, Wright-dono."

It was Phoenix's turn to shake his head. "I disagree. Trucy learned an important lesson to be aware of potential safety issues with her magic, and she learned a new trick, thanks to your mentorship."

Mentorship. Simon didn't know how to respond to that. "I am happy to have helped, even if I was partially responsible for the problem," he finally said, but spent the rest of the evening periodically pensive, mulling over the word.

As the party came to a close, people began leaving, wishing Simon the best of luck and thanking him for his service, both in and out of prison. Simon graciously thanked them for coming. Soon, it was only Phoenix and Athena with Simon, after Miles left with Trucy and Pearl. Taka had flown out the window in order to find a mid-night snack.

"I'll be in my office a moment, then I'll head out. Lock up if you don't leave before I do." Smiling, Phoenix left the two alone as Athena cleaned up the remaining decorations (she would not let Simon help her, so he begrudgingly sat on the couch).

Simon coughed uncomfortably and stood. "Sit down!" Athena barked, and Simon, wide-eyed, sat back down.

"Cykes-dono..." Simon coughed again, reaching into his coat. "Athena..." Athena turned quickly to him, not used to hearing him say her first name. "I have a... I have a present for you, in commemoration of... of your name being cleared. My life wasn't the only one saved that day, after all. This party... it should have also been for you."

Athena turned pink. "Oh, no," she said, suddenly flustered. "I mean, I wasn't the one in prison. I--"

"You were also a prisoner, though of a different sort. I know this. We have spoken about it."

Athena put down the streamers she was holding and grabbed her elbow in true Athena style. "Yes, well--"

"Athena." Simon stood and pulled the box out of his coat, walking toward her. "It is not much, and perhaps it is silly, but I have a gift for you." He held it out, and Athena pulled on the ribbon, smiling slightly at the colors, allowing the box to stay in Simon's hands. Perhaps she is afraid of dropping it. I don't need Widget to tell me she is nervous. It is written all over her face. Neither of them noticed Phoenix sneak out and coyly dim the lights, allowing the moonlight to filter in through the windows.

"Wh-what is it?" she asked, but Simon merely nodded at the box, and she slowly opened it. 

Inside was a bracelet. It had a silver chain, which appeared almost as if it had been anodized to appear somewhat black. There was a charm shaped like a bird in the center of the item. Wide-eyed, Athena picked the bracelet up, turning it over in her hands.

"It... is a blackbird." Athena looked up at him, and he suddenly could not meet her eyes. "Blackbirds... they symbolize the unknown. They are able to unveil that which is hidden, much like your own ability to read emotions. There is light, and there is dark, and the blackbird has the ability to find meaning in both. You... have been instrumental in my own growth as a person, and I find you... helpful... in my own journey to make sense of life outside of prison."

"It's... beautiful..." Athena unclasped the bracelet and held it out to Simon. "Could you...?" Simon took the bracelet and gently placed it around Athena's left wrist. "I love... it. I really love it, Simon..."

Simon felt his voice catch in his throat, and he felt a slight pang of guilt. "I am glad you like it. I thought it might be silly, considering..." He glanced at the streamers and smiled. "...considering everyone pairs me with birds."

Athena blushed. "I'm sorry, I thought--"

"--no it's fine--"

"--I just thought it would be cute--"

"--it was..."

The two fell silent, Simon's right hand still on Athena's wrist. The left had fallen back to his side. The past few weeks had been so different than they usually had been. Suddenly Simon felt stupid for getting the bracelet for her. It was too sentimental, too close. He felt naked, too close to another human being, unprepared. He could never have with Athena what he saw others have, and he felt guilty for even wanting that in the first place. What's wrong with me? Athena moved toward him, wrapping her right arm around his waist and resting her face on his chest. Simon began to panic. She can feel my emotions. She will know. I cannot linger here. Simon backed away, allowing her wrist to finally fall. Athena looked at him, confusion in her eyes.

"Tomorrow is a work day, Cykes-dono," Simon smirked, destroying in less than a second the atmosphere of the past few minutes. "I should rest so that I may be at my peak performance. You should as well."


Widget was turning blue, and guilt hit Simon like a truck. He did not let any of that show outwardly. "I will help you clean, and you may not contradict me there. Then I will walk you home and see you at some point tomorrow, I am sure of it."

Athena nodded, but was quiet the remainder of the evening. Simon caught her running her fingers along her left wrist several times during the walk home and tried to convince himself that she was simply getting used to the bracelet. She will be tired of it after long and remove it, I am sure.

After Simon dropped Athena off at her apartment and they said their goodbyes, Athena sighed deeply and plopped herself on her bed. Why did he back off? she asked herself over and over again. She took her glove off and changed into her pajamas. Athena considered taking the bracelet off, but decided against it, running her fingers along the chain as she laid back in bed. Under the light of the moon, she watched it glint and gleam. A blackbird... 

Simon, on the other hand, walked into his apartment with a heavy heart. He'd had a moment, perhaps, where he could have felt a connection with someone, had he allowed it. Simon was swimming in unfamiliar waters, however. Perhaps he would have to visit Aura tomorrow. As much as he loathed to admit it, his sister knew more about the heart than she did, having loved and lost more than he had with Metis's death. He would never hear the end of it, but he needed her advice. Despondent, Simon didn't bother changing out of his clothes. He simply fell into his bed and buried his face into his pillow, feeling like the stupidest man to have ever lived. 

February 2017

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