The darkness she carried was deep… I thought. But I couldn’t find the words to call out.
I got the feeling what I should be doing was quietly listening to her words.
“I… hate it.”
Claudia’s voice was shaking. She bit her lip, and while her long bangs were covering them, I’m sure the blue eyes behind were glaring at me.
“People like you, I loathe them… aren’t you… the same?”
She asked with a voice so small it was vanishing.
Should I answer yes, or answer no, I didn’t know the correct answer.
… Defective in the head, huh.
I tried reflecting over Claudia’s words.
… I never said anything like that. I didn’t, but…
“I pretty much did,” I muttered.
Since I whispered in a small voice, I thought she wouldn’t be able to hear, but it seems she did.
Without saying anything, Claudia simply stared at me.
“I’m sorry. I said something awful.”
“Why are you apologizing?”
Her voice quivered so much, it was impossible to make our her actual pronunciation… but I knew what she was trying to say.
“I’m sorry. Without knowing a thing, I convinced myself I understood, and spoke ill of you. I was only thinking to get you an innocent verdict, and that made me make such a selfish assumption on my part… I made that wholly idiotic plea.”
… So I’m sorry. I apologized.
Sniffle… I heard the light slurping sound of her nose. She stroked her bangs aside, letting me see her expression well, but she was making an unsightly expression different from the one before.
Before I had realized it, her eyes were bloodshot, and her face itself had turned from its pale skin to a shade of pink.
Even her nose was runny, her mouth was open slovenly, and she was neurotically tampering with her hair, collapsing her hair style.
But this was the true her.
Pushing out her lips, she spoke. “Is there no one else?”
“Mr. Lawyer. Is there really… no one but you?”
“There’s no one. No one wanted to take on your defense. So the court appointed a lawyer. At the start, I wanted to decline it myself.”
… When I told her no one wanted to take her defense, her unsightly expression collapsed even more.
“So no one… likes me at all.”
She sounded awfully far-sighted, her tone as if she had given up.
“So… no one actually wants a hero of justice.”
Her words continued on.
“I’m just a criminal after all.”
After some self-depreciating words came out, it all came out like a flood.
To be honest, it was getting on my nerves.
… Stop it already, you fool.
“That’s right, it’s just as you said. No one thinks anything of you.”
I incidentally let my true feelings out. But that’s fine. If this girl continued talking anymore… I’m sure she would break. So right now, I needed to stop her mouth from moving no matter what.
“Look here, justice is something human kind has been experimenting with for centuries, and it’s a question so difficult that we still haven’t found the answer. It’s not the sort of truth a teenager like you, what’s more, a kid without much knowledge is suddenly going to arrive at. So stop thinking about such things for now. Put it to the side.”
“Justice and peace are humanity’s universal theme. It’s true it’s a vital and important problem, but it’s impossible to resolve it here and now. So you can live a smart life, let me give you some adult advice. You rarely get a chance to hit a home run in life. The basic rule is to try for a hit. It’s important to start by building up from the small things.”
I get the feeling I had abruptly blurted out something that was clearly out of place. But I guess that’s fine. Anyways, I need to take leadership, and take her somewhere else, from this gloomy, damp place to a bright, healthy space.
As she hesitated, I spoke to her.
“That’s how it is, so stop with those tedious things, and let’s get to the fun business talks.
She tilted her head. It seems her tears had already stopped. Her stiff expression was just a little frayed and crumbling.
But her current face was much more lovable than the precious one, and I got the feeling I could come to like it.
“That’s right. As I said before, I’m getting money to take on your defense. Now that I’ve taken on the request, I won’t betray you. Even if you hate and betray me, there’s absolutely no way I’ll ever betray you.”
… So use me as you will, I said.
“Humans who act for their selfish desires are villains? Then so be it. There’s only one person in the world who can tread down your life. Only you. Yet at this moment, your life is about to be trampled down by some incomprehensible thing called society. That is unfair. It isn’t something that should be done to a person.”
… So fight against it, for your own sake.
It was mostly winging it. But I got the feeling it was closer to life than some poorly played acting.
I want to be trusted by the client… by her. So I won’t lie, and I won’t betray.
Even if it’s something painful on the ears, I’ll speak my mind with honesty.
If that doesn’t work, that’s fine. But as long as just a little bit of my sincerety got through… I could go on.
Claudia silently looked at me. But by the time I noticed it, the shadow covering her had vanished, her expression being one as if she had been freed from a demon’s possession.