"Do you love him?" she asked, soft as if she hadn't even meant to ask but the words had slipped out against her will.
Eddie didn't have to think twice before he said, "I do.”
Maybe it should have been a bigger revelation, a more shocking one at least, but it really wasn't. Eddie didn't have enough mental fortitude to overcomplicate things any further than they already were. Because what else could this feeling that had been blooming in his chest for months now possibly be?
The thought of Buck waiting for them when they got home – their home now, not just his – was the only thing that was keeping him sane right now. The knowledge that as soon as Christopher was asleep, he could wrap himself in Buck's arms and trust that he wouldn't judge him when he finally allowed himself to fall apart. Even more, he trusted him that afterwards, he'd gather the pieces of him that his parents had shaken loose and help him put them back together, build him back up even stronger than he was before.
Eddie could count on the fingers of his one hand the number of people he'd so easily give his heart to and trust that they would keep it safe. So what else could it be other than love?
#what comes next #the 1920s musician au is continued #because why not #probably should read the previous parts in ch 28 and ch 29 to know what's happening #1920s au#historical au#mfs fanfic#raylla fanfic #raelle x scylla fanfic #hope you enjoy #happy June aka pride month and the month MFS season 2 premiers #the image of Raelle trying to carry a gigantic bass brings me joy #no idea why
Azriel tries to convince you to stay, Devlon brings you to his personal residence, and then you and he talk — and eventually make a bargain.
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#azriel #azriel x reader #acotar#acosf#sjm#acotar fanfic #this chapter got carried away so i'm giving myself way more time before the next one #ch 28 is gonna be eris centric because my boy deserves it
As the star witnesses in Touka Shiromajyo’s murder trial, both Natsu and Lucy weren’t allowed to sit through the trial. It was fine with them, considering just the idea of testifying was becoming more than Lucy could handle. She’d made a lot of progress with Natsu and the therapists help, but facing the woman who tried to kill her... in the flesh? Knowing Touka, she’ll be staring them down from the defense table with some stupid smug grin. It made Lucy’s skin crawl just thinking about it. Frankly, it wasn’t fair that they were having to go through this in the first place because the prosecutor offered Touka a deal. If she was remorseful and plead guilty to attempted murder and stalking, they would recommend only an in-house psychiatric treatment at a hospital versus jail time. But she’d refused the deal. As far as Touka was concerned this was all Natsu and Lucy’s fault for driving her to commit the act.
The defense really had very little they could do to argue against the facts of the case. Gajeel and his team did an excellent job tracing all the events of stalking from the beginning, so their best chances were to show Touka was completely mentally unstable, suffering from a disorder that made her incapable of knowing right from wrong or gain sympathy by attacking Natsu and Lucy’s roles. It wouldn’t get her off completely, but it might mitigate or shave time off her sentence.
The prosecution began by carefully laying out the timeline of events. In a stalking case that spanned years, this would be crucial as they moved through all the evidence to show when and the possible why’s that would establish Touka’s motives for kidnapping Lucy. It showed the buildup, the prosecutor pointed out, like an old coal train that slowly moved forward inch by inch, picking up momentum until it had reached its top speed, and unless someone pulled the breaks, there was no stopping it now. In order to provide a visual for the jury, they created a long board with all the points plotted out to use during the duration of their case. They kept it facing the jurors the entire time, a strategy to keep them focused on it.
In keeping with the strategy, witnesses and evidence were also presented in chronological order starting with Natsu, Gray, and a few other former students of Meguro Nihon. Both Natsu and Gray both testified that they didn’t remember or even interacted with Touka. The others were there as former club mates of the woman who testified they remembered her making comments about Natsu back then, but they also testified that they never saw or heard of him interacting with Touka.
“So, is it your testimony miss Fumiko that as far as you remember, there was never any interactions between the two?”
“Yes. Back then Touka and I were good friends, well at least I thought we were. I know she had a crush on him,” the woman blushed, “so did I, but Natsu was out of our league. Neither of us ever tried to approach him.”
“Thank you, miss Fumiko.”
The defense attorney then stood up to cross-examine the woman. “Miss Fumiko. How do you know that Ms. Shiromajyo never tried to talk to Mr. Dragneel? Isn’t it possible that she may have done so when you weren’t around?”
“Maybe... but I’m pretty sure Touka would have said something, if not before, after of what the outcome was. And I never saw her distraught about him.”
“Judge,” the defense objected. “Move to strike miss Fumiko’s testimony. It’s impossible for her to know the operation of another’s mind.”
“Objection!” The prosecutor fired back! “Miss Fumiko is just stating an observation.”
“Sustained,” the judge sided with the prosecution.
Undeterred the defense attorney pressed on. “Alright then, miss Fumiko. Did you ever observe Ms. Shiromajyo behave in any manner that concerned you?”
“I don’t understand...”
“Did Ms. Shiromajyo do anything that appeared as if she was obsessed with Mr. Dragneel?”
“No further questions.”
The prosecutor stood back up. “Redirect your honor, I’d like to clarify what this witness understood ‘obsessed’ to mean.”
“Go ahead,” the judge granted.
“Miss Fumiko, how often would Ms. Shiromajyo talk about Mr. Dragneel?”
“Oh, daily! She kept a journal and would write things in it about what he did, what he wore, clippings from the school newspaper if he was in it, stuff like that. Sometimes we’d both talk about it, especially when he did something really cool.”
“I see. So, you actually saw the contents of the journal?”
“Yes. I remember it had a pink cover, and there were doodles and hearts with their names in it.”
“Daily chronicles, could that have been seen as obsessive miss Fumiko?”
“Objection!” The defense attorney decried.
But before the judge could respond, the prosecutor waived his hand with a smirk. “That’s okay. I’m done with this witness.”
“You’re free to leave Miss Fumiko,” the judge instructed the witness.
For the first three days of the trial, witness and evidence covered the time leading up to the Main event. Lisanna and Bixlow testified about their experience with Touka, along with two other college students who had a class with Natsu and had been approached by the woman. The manager and an employee of the movie theater testified about the assault incident in their establishment. The person Touka had tried to pay to kill Lisanna testified about that event. The doctor that performed the plastic surgeries was brought in to cover all the work she’d had done to transform herself, and other witnesses were brought in to testify about behaviors they’d witnessed showing her growing obsession. As the lead investigator, Gajeel testified about the police evidence, the methods they used to obtain what, how, etc. The defense attorney did his best to undermine Gajeel’s credibility due to his personal relationship to Lucy’s best friend. But the burly detective had been ready for it and proved to be undeniably unshakable in that regard. Nothing the man did through the investigation could be deemed biased.
Finally on day four, it was Lucy’s turn to testify. As they waited her turn in a soundproof side room, Natsu did his best to keep her calm. “Remember the affirmations,” he held her hands in his, staring up as he kneeled in front of her. “If you need a moment to breathe or you need a moment to calm down, signal the prosecutor.”
Lucy nodded. “Okay.”
“I’ll be sitting in the gallery with Levy during your testimony because the judge is allowing it. Just look at me, keep your eyes on me the whole time. Don’t look at Touka.”
“Natsu— I-I can’t do this...”
“Yes, you can, you can do this. Just remember what we talked about. She can’t hurt you anymore, so don’t give her any more power to.”
Tears pooled in Lucy’s eyes. “I’m scared, Natsu.”
He leaned up, cradled her face in his palms, and kissed Lucy’s forehead. “It’s okay to be scared, but you’re stronger then you know. We survived because you’re strong, Luce, remember that.”
A woman from the prosecutor’s office walked Lucy to the stand while Natsu and Levy went and sat in the gallery. It was a win for them that the judges allowed there to be a psychiatrist present as well during her testimony, just in case a panic attack was triggered. The defense of course had fought the motion, citing the inflammatory appearance to the jury, but the judge overruled them. Lucy did her best not to look in the direction of the defense and kept her eyes glued on Natsu as a grounding point.
It wasn’t always easy. Her body was visibly shaking the entire time along with tears trickling down her face through the hardest portions. They’d warned Lucy that her time on the stand could take at least two days, more if the defense’s cross-examinations stretched out. She prayed they wouldn’t. Lucy knew they would try to trip her up but hoped they wouldn’t push it too far because as the victim, badgering would actually be counter effective for the defense. That first day the prosecutor took her through the beginning, how she’d met Natsu, when Touka entered the picture, the day at the cafe. Having to bare her life like this to the public was humiliating even if some of it wasn’t a big deal. Like meeting Natsu, their whole story about meeting on the train, was it really relevant? According to the prosecution, it was meant to establish that Natsu was a single male when they met, and not as the defense asserted, in a relationship with Touka.
Lucy took the jurors through the weeks and months, how at first Touka seemed harmless, including the conversations she’d had with the woman as she tried to convince Lucy not to date Natsu. She was forced to explain what caused her to reject Touka’s beliefs in deciding to date Natsu, how hearing about the woman through the eyes of others like Gray changed her mind. Next, they covered the escalating behaviors, being followed and approached by Touka everywhere they went. Lucy spoke of her growing fears, and the creepy feeling of being watched along with corroborating dated photo evidence from her phone of pictures she’d taken of Touka during some of the following incidents. By the end of the first day of testimony, they managed to reach the movie theater incident without many objections by the defense attorney. Lucy didn’t know if that meant he planned to leave her alone or was simply waiting to reserve his cross for later. The unknown left her even more anxious and that night, Lucy struggled to get a decent night’s sleep.
“I hate her even more,” Lucy snapped. “Why couldn’t she just take the damn deal so we could all move on?!”
Natsu pulled his girlfriend close. “I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to that. All we can do, is our best to move forward.”
“I know...” Lucy sighed.
“Look on the bright side.”
“There’s a bright side?!”
Natsu chuckled. Lucy might be angry at the moment, but it was better she was letting it out instead of holding her emotions in. “You did really great on the stand today.” He kissed her lips. “I’m very proud of you Luce.”
That made Lucy blush, and her anger fade a little. “Thanks. But the hardest part will be tomorrow.”
“And you’ll do fine tomorrow too, just do what you did today. Stick to the truth, ignore the defense side, and just stare at your handsome boyfriend.”
“Pfft,” Lucy snorted a laugh, but he was right, and his humor was a pleasant medicine to take in. “You’re such a weirdo. But thank you. I don’t think I could do this without you.”
“Forever, right?” Natsu kissed her again. “Imma stick by you no matter what.” He smiled and cuddled her against him, “now go to sleep.”
And she did try her best to get enough sleep. Lucy even took extra melatonin to assist, but she still ended up waking up in a cold sweat from a nightmare. Even though the prosecutor had gone over her testimony more than once in preparation, the idea of reliving the kidnapping left a sinking feeling in her stomach when faced against the defendant. Whereas day one she’d done well to avoid it, Lucy made the mistake of looking at Touka as soon as she’d sat down on the witness stand. Strangely, instead of fear, seeing the smug look on the woman’s face made her angry instead. So, Lucy steeled back her resolve to get this whole damn nightmare over with.
#i think i forgot to upload a version of this when I finished Ch. 28 #i put it on the Youtube playlist tho #anyway here's a lost Gorillaz track from an album called 'Swallow my Eggnog' lmao #Don Quixote's Christmas Bonanza #Gorillaz #Stereo I Want it On (Audio)