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Seeing her there was like opening the door at midnight and finding a grief stricken officer waiting. My mouth fell open and dried out suddenly- it wasn’t enough that the trial I had come from was as good as the defense’s- now I had this to worry about?

I stared for a while, allowing my eyes to adjust from the blinding glow of the courtroom to the natural lumination of the outdoors. Cautiously, I made my way down the courthouse steps and touched her shoulder.

She jumped and turned, but the apprehension soon melted off of her sweet face.

“Papa!” she squealed, snatching my pink shaded specs. I waited until the world’s fuzziness dulled a bit before asking, “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for Diego,” she responded, blinking through the rosy tint.

“Judge Armando,” I corrected, smoothing her teddy brown hair from the blowing wind.

With a smile, Zoë grabbed my hands and pulled me into a hug. “He’s gonna come today,” came the muffled voice from my chest.

“Of course, Zo,” I assured her, sitting us both on the courthouse steps. She pulled away and smiled, forcing me to reflect it on my own tired face.

“Have you ever met him, Daddy?” she asked, passing me a bag of bread.

Bread? An odd snack, given her location. When Zoë noticed my puzzled expression, she tittered,

“It was for the birds, Papa, me and Loki were feeding them.”

Good to know that my daughter thinks of me after these rats with wings. Thank Zeus for such a sweet little girl. I chewed my piece as I thought about the trial. The proceedings were beyond tedious and I could only pray that tomorrow’s would be a bit more merciful.

“Keller. What are you doing out here?” We turned to see Prosecutor Miles Finch frowning above us, the setting sun silhouetting his serious stance.

“Just-”

“We’re waiting for Diego Armando!” Zoë blurted.

Miles narrowed his eyes at me. All I could offer him was a sheepish shrug. The perfect prosecutor was likely not in the mood for this. He had faced off against Jesús Cristo, the best defense attorney around. Cristo had pretty much destroyed Miles’ case, visually frustrating him in court. Cristo was only doing his job- but this defendant was guilty and Miles believed it. The thought of him getting away irritated the attorney.

I was thankful that I was only called to state the case- Cristo kind of had a reputation for making detectives look like hapless gumshoes on the stand.

“Diego Armando?” he snorted. “He’s not real.”

“That’s not true!” Zoë fumed. “He is so real and he’s the best judge in all of Liberty City and he’s gonna make me a prosecutor when I turn eighteen! Right Papa?”

She turned to me with big eyes. Many options crossed my mind. This was the third week straight she’d come to wait for Judge Armando.
Her tenacity impressed me. But soon she’d…

Miles rolled his eyes and told her, “You wish to become a prosecutor, young miss? It takes more than a judge- you need many years of studying and hard work. There is no substitute for that.”

“Well duh Mister!” she scoffed, “but how can I be the best if the very best judge doesn’t bless me?”

A silence hovered about us as Miles considered her words. “Who told you about Diego Armando?” he asked, glaring at me accusingly.

“You remember how Judy Iscariot once framed those twelve guys for murder? Well, Judge Armando acquitted ‘em all and found evidence convicting her and disbarred her lawyer for using false evidence!” she gushed.

Miles just rolled his eyes again, causing my daughter to frown. “Men wait for many days, just to catch a glimpse of Diego Armando. That’s what Daddy told me. If you don’t believe Mister, why don’t you wait for him with us?”

Miles’ eyebrows shot up. I could practically see his brain cells scrambling to put together a rejection that wouldn’t send a ten-year-old girl into tears. Perfect.

“Yeah Finch, why not?” I grinned, patting the seat next to me.

“I…”

“Unless you know he’s already on his way out,” she teased, her face breaking into a big smile.

Miles gritted his teeth and sat uneasily next to me. The guy couldn’t stand to be outsmarted.
Even by a little girl he’ll likely never see again.

“I don’t think you two have met,” I realised, “Zoë, this is Miles Finch, our best ADA. Miles, this is my daughter, Zoë Keller.”

She only eyed him, but I elbowed her. “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” she sang, curtsying.

I gave her a wink as Miles relaxed. He asked, “You are pursuing a career in prosecution?”

“Yes! I’m going to be the prettiest prosecutor in this state and put all the bad guys Momma and Papa catch to jail! And if I believe enough and am true enough, Diego-”

“Judge Armando,” I interjected, offering Miles some bread. He just stared at me like I was some kind of fool.

“And just what makes you think Armando has the power to do this?” he demanded pointedly.

“Cause. He’s way awesome. If you believe, he will do it for you,” she giggled, tugging my sliding glasses.

Zoë stood and looked out at the gray street and twirled to the mighty fountain. We looked out with her. It’s usually such a contrast to me, to think that the grand courthouse shares a setting with the scummy streets, where there’s a dealer around every corner and pervs waiting in plain sight. The thought of this annoyed me and I sighed. Sometimes I wondered what the point was, tracking down these guys day after day for shylocks like Cristo to let them off…

As Zoë sat on the fountain’s edge and kicked her feet, I turned back to Miles. My vision was still a bit fuzzy without my glasses, but there was no question that his usual disposition of mild annoyance was slowly giving way to quiet fury.

“Keller…”

“Look, I only told her as a bedtime story… Mo was in the field and Zoë was worried she’d get hurt so I…”

“Fed her that foolish fable!” he hissed.

“You know, there’s no real proof that Judge Armando-”

“Even if Diego Armando ever existed,” he cut me off steadily, “I highly doubt that he ordained prosecutors.”

Before I could answer, a yelp seared the air. I turned to see Zoë pulling herself out of the fountain. Panic seized me as I raced to her. I left her for two seconds… and she… “Are you okay baby?”

She laughed and tried to wring out the water out of her clothes. “I-I just fell D-Daddy,” she shivered.

I removed my jacket and put it around her as she huddled closer. “I better get you home.”

She pulled away from my hug and sputtered, “N-no! D-Diego…!”

“Maybe tomorrow, Zo.”

“Would you like to dry off Miss Keller? There are towels in my office’s bathroom and we can dry your clothes in the court basement.”

Trembling, she looked up at me and I looked to Miles, who looked downright epic standing against the dark of the evening. He handed her his key and she bolted.

“I didn’t know you had a court office,” I said as we started after her.

“I worked for it,” he muttered.

Zoë was a smart girl. Miles had just assumed she’d look at the key and see the number to his office. By the time we got there, her clothes were strayed on his floor and we could hear her singing. Miles flushed as I picked up her garments. The girl had no shame. Monica and I had begged, punished, scolded, and reprimanded her for just ditching her clothes and running wild, but it was something she wasn’t growing out of any time soon. “Lock the door Zoë, Mr. Finch and I will be back.”

“’Kay Papa.”

The trek to the basement was silent and drying the clothes was obnoxiously so. The flickering fluorescent lights added to the uneasiness since Miles didn’t say a word even as we waited for Zoë to dress. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or suspicious- for Miles Finch, speaking was a craft that he held in the highest regard… silence was not his forte.

“You have a nice office, Miles,” Zoë said, coming out of the bathroom, my jacket hanging like robes on her shoulders.

Miles looked a bit surprised, but simply said, “Oh?”

“Prosecutor Finch,” I reminded her sternly.

She adjusted the glasses and grinned. “Prosecutor Finch.”

“Well, thanks Miles, but we gotta get going.”

“Wait.” He hesitated before starting again, “Miss Keller… why do you want to be a prosecutor?”

She laughed and hugged my legs. I bent down to face her and she studied me. As her thumbs lightly traced the black circles under my eyes, I closed them. My skin still tingled like it had been asleep.

“My daddy works real hard. Momma too.” We looked at each other, her fresh electric green eyes into my drained verdigris ones. “I want to make sure he never has to work late and can take care of himself so he’ll never have to worry about a bad guy getting away.”

Miles shot me an accusing glare and I could feel the heat rising up my neck. He scoffed and stared at the first law degree on his wall of accomplishments. “It was nice meeting you, Miss Keller… perhaps Judge Armando will be here tomorrow. And if not, you are always welcome to visit my office.”

Zoë grinned and curtsied again, snatching my car keys and bouncing off.

“Well… I better go…” I coughed, sidling to the door.

“You have quite a precocious child,” he mused.

“Yeah, well…”

“So full of life…”

“That’s why her name’s Zoë,” I told him, a grin spreading on me fast.

Monica had always been fond of the Greek culture and giving our daughter a Greek name, who had breathed new life into us, was an honour to her.

“So you’re not gonna tell her right? About Judge Armando?” I requested.

He said nothing, didn’t even move, so I exhaled.

But as I turned, his voce filled the room, “Many men wait days just to catch a glimpse of Diego Armando.”

I faced him and he smiled, chuckling, “Keller, we are all just waiting for Diego Armando.”

I frowned, but then gave him a grateful wave.
“We’re all just waiting for Diego Armando,” I repeated.

He turned off the light to his office as we both emerged into the lit hallway.





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