Title: Rainy Afternoon
Fandom: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Trials & Tribulations focus)
Characters: Diego Armando and Mia Fey
Misc. Notes: Inspired by Suga Shikao's "Yuudachi." A study of mood. Finished for the Ultimate Fanfiction Contest.
The rain fell in sheets of water that ran down the window and blurred the world outside. Inside the car, the heat was on despite the summery temperature because they were soaked and shivering. They had laughed at first when the black clouds above had finally burst and their walk along the beach turned into a dash back to Diego's car. But Diego had seen Mia wrap her arms around her bare shoulders, trying to shift her dripping hair away from her body, and he'd flipped the heat on without speaking.
They were cocooned. Outside, the rain washed away what little color the city had to begin with, and traffic lights were a shock. Noise, too, was muffled; from outside, there was only the rush of the rain and the steady creak of the windshield wipers. Inside, the heater rumbled and radio played on low, barely audible. The DJs were going on and on about celebrity melodrama. Diego would have turned it off, but he was afraid that if he did, Mia would realize how closely he was listening to her.
She was singing to herself.
Perhaps chanting would have been a better word. There was little pitch variation to the tune, and the real power seemed to be in the rhythm, which she had timed to beat right along with the wipers. She sang quietly, sweetly, like a half-asleep child, as she leaned against her window with her eyes partway closed and a content smile on her face. It was a warm song.
A cymbal crashed on the radio, and Mia's voice tapered off rather quickly. For a few moments, the wails of some boy band filled the car, pubescent voices cracking. Diego clicked the radio off in disgust.
The wipers ground back and forth.
When Diego laughed, the dry cynicism sounded like a sin, like throwing a rock through a window. But sometimes it was the best way he knew to get her attention.
"Keep singing, Kitten. I was liking that." He glanced over to see her blush, and smirked. "I mean it," he added.
She looked away, and he had to look back at the road. But when it seemed like she wasn't going to sing again, Diego asked, "What was that song?"
She shifted in her seat before answering, making a thoughtful purr in the back of her throat. "It's a prayer," she said, "for protection from evil spirits. In theory, it should be recited before every channeling, but Mother told me once that it's only really used when some bigwig wants the whole 'authentic' experience. Still, I like the song. I always did."
"I see." He wanted to ask more but held off. Last time he'd pressed her for details on her family's unique background, she'd nearly chased him out of his own office in furor. They'd just met at the time, of course, but Diego wasn't about to stick his nose in that matter again without permission.
Instead he said, "It was nice. I didn't know you could sing."
"Liar." She flushed again. "I have a terrible voice. Maya wouldn't even let me sing her lullabies."
"I'm sure she was just being stubborn. Siblings love to tease"
"She was two!"
Huh." Diego was genuinely taken aback. "Well, I liked it."
Mia shook her head at him and was silent. Far away, there was a desperate screech of brakes, sounding almost melodic from such a distance. There was no chance it would break into their cocoon. Diego's eyes flicked only briefly in the direction of the sound.
In a minute, he said, "C'mon, sing some more."
His voice sounded muffled, pillowed by the heater and the wipers and the rain outside. Mia's was equally small as she replied, "I didn't even realize you could hear me before. If I'd have known you were listening, I would have stopped."
"That would have been a pity." He meant it. When she didn't respond, he said, "Do I sound like I'm trying to flatter you?"
"I have no sense of pitch," Mia insisted.
Oh. Was there supposed to be a pitch? Diego refrained from voicing that thought. "I think your voice is beautiful."
"I'm not listening to you." Her voice drifted over her shoulder, a barely audible murmur. It was self-assured and amused and a bit stubborn.
"Mia." Diego reached over and touched her bare shoulder, and the shiver that went through her was not from chill. There were many things he could say here, but he opted for a single word, slipping it between the beats of the windshield wipers so that it was almost lost. "Please."
She turned then and looked at him. Her skeptical eyes met his sincere ones, and her brows contracted once in puzzlement. "You're
"As I ever am, Kitten."
Again she twisted away, but not before Diego saw a hint of a blush creep back into her cheeks. She gave a soft sigh, as if to point out that this was against her will, and then began to chant. Diego's grin faded into a gentler smile. When the song ended, Mia looked over and saw him rendered defenseless by his love for her. She smiled shyly back, and began the song anew.
He awoke in darkness, water in his eyes and no one in his arms. Reality sank in heavily. A song circled in his head, but he couldn't remember the words or pick out the tune, only a sweet voice singing it as if in his ear.