Turnabout Tyson (Part 7)

This is chapter seven, the final chapter. Chapter six is available here.

July 18

Courtroom No. 2

District Court (Part 3, continued)

Franziska was back to having an uncomfortably familiar smug smile on her face. "Just as I thought" she said. "The defense likes to make up stories, but that's all they are. Here we only care about the truth. And the truth we just heard."

Phoenix ears perked up at the word "story".

(Story... that reminds me of something. What was it again?) His eyes went large for a moment, and he covered his mouth in surprise.

(Of course! That's it. I always thought I had no evidence... but I had all I needed with me the entire time!)

He looked over to Athena, who was having trouble keeping an upright posture, sweat dripping from her forehead.

(I could raise the point myself, but... seeing Athena so determined that she openly defied my order, I mean, my wish, for her to stay at the agency makes me think this isn't appropriate. She really earned this moment. I wouldn't be here anymore if it weren't for her.)

"Hey, Athena!" Phoenix said.

Athena looked to her side, surprised.

"I have something that might be able to help us. When I was at the crime scene the previous day I could never get to the crime scene, but I still could gather some evidence on the first floor." He pulled out a plastic bag with some papers on it.

"This is a story Tyson wrote. You might remember they earlier testified about how they were talking about a story they were writing with someone else when the argument between Ini and Sam happened. With these papers as evidence we can prove that their earlier testimony was the correct one!"

Athena's eyes visibly lightened up.

"Thank you, Boss! That's exactly what we needed."

More gavel-banging could be heard from the judge's seat. "Is the defense done chatting? I asked for evidence, and I want to see it with no further delay!"

"Of course, Your Honor" she responded, arms crossed, now smiling again. "Let me just point you to this piece of evidence that the prosecution has overlooked." Phoenix held the plastic bag up high for everyone to see.

– "A set of loose pages with text on it?" Franziska asked, teeth clenched. "What about them?"

Athena extended her arm towards Tyson, pointing to their face.

"As indicated by the name written on them, they contain a story written by the witness. They are in fact a writer, not a dance instructor. The pages were found on the first floor of the building. It is the same story that Tyson had previously testified to having talked about to someone on the first floor when the last argument between Ini and Sam was happening!"

Tyson grasped the witness stand firmly and leaned forward.

– "W-wait! I could have left it there at any day! This doesn't prove anything!"

Athena stemmed both her hands on her hips.

"Oh yeah? Given how personal the story is they contain, why would you have left them at the club where everyone could easily find and read them? The only explanation is you hastily fled the building right after the murder... which you could do because you were on the first floor – a witness to the crime, not the culprit!"

"N-no!" Tyson was drawing at the strings of their hoodie, as if trying to shut out the world around them.

"Tyson! Take back your confession now! It is obvious you were trying to cover for Dyson!" she continued with a new amount of force in her voice.

Tyson was silent for a moment again. "But... but it's not true. How could you even prove a person like Dyson existed?"

"All I need to do is call your contact in your Harmony app! If it was really just you sending that message to yourself then nothing would happen!"

"Please, don't ..." Tyson pleaded, eyes hidden below their hood.

Gavel-banging was once more audible in the court room. "Witness, you will surrender your phone immediately!"

They clutched themselves, but didn't resist when the bailiff came to take the phone and upon holding it said: "Witness, unlock this, please."

Tyson did as asked, and then slumped over the stand, breathing audibly.

Athena got the phone handed by the bailiff and touched the small symbol with the handset on it.

For a moment, nothing happened, and Athena, Phoenix and Tyson, who was now standing upright again, all visibly tensed up again. The room had fallen entirely silent.

Then, in a corner of the gallery, a man was turning to his neighbor, because he could hear a faint buzzing from that direction. Said neighbor tried to ignore it, but then the man spoke up:

"Excuse me, I think your phone is vibrating."

His neighbor reluctantly took out their phone out of their pocket. It had a charm modeled to look like a meteor, colored dark grey, with a streak of light resembling a flame, attached to it. On the bottom the name "Dyson" was engraved.

The phone owner tried to suppress the call wordlessly, but their neighbor saw the notification saying "Tyson calling".

"Hey, wait a moment, YOU ARE DYSON!"

The exclamation could be heard in the entire courtroom.

The gallery immediately got unruly, the increasingly loud murmuring being interjected with occasional exclamations, their content getting lost in the cacophony of voices.

The judge banged his gavel three times. "ORDER! Order! Order in the court!" He had to shout to get himself heard. "Bailiff! Immediately lock the doors so the person suspected of being Dyson can not leave the room before testifying, and then summon them to the witness stand."

The owner of the phone was dragged to the witness stand. They resembled the photo with a person on it Tyson had presented earlier to the court, but their face appeared to be drained of all color.

Tyson didn't leave the stand. Instead, they remained there and put an arm around the other witness, whispering something to them.

A gavel bang interrupted the two. "Given your apparent mental state, I will allow the previous witness to remain on the stand as emotional support, to help with testifying. But the court still demands your name and occupation, witness!" the judge said, pointing with his gavel towards the person standing next to Tyson, who was receiving some pats on the back by them.

A loud sigh followed, after which Tyson let go of them.

"Dyson Saman. I'm a dance instructor, or rather I would want to be. Currently I work as a sales assistant in a book store."

– "Dyson Saman, was the phone that Ms. Cykes called yours?" the judge asked.

"Yes..." Dyson answered with some hesitancy.

– "So you took the photo of the letter and sent it to Tyson?"

"Y-yeah." They looked away, avoiding eye contact.

– "And you wrote it?"

When Dyson didn't respond, the judge angrily banged his gavel twice. "Answer me, witness: Yes or no?"

"... yes, I did." they finally replied, sniffing.

– "In that case, the defense has raised you as a possible suspect. Were you aware of this?"

"Yes... But I didn't m... I didn't do that, I'm not a murderer!"

Athena slammed the bench of the defense with her arm and fist.

– "Then how did the letter end up on the second floor?" she asked.

"I wrote it there, b-but that doesn't prove I pushed anyone off the railing!"

Tyson was about to open their mouth, but Franziska cut him off.

"Before you say anything, Tyson, let me remind you that it's between Dyson and Ini. Either of them has to be guilty." She cracked her whip against the prosecution desk. "If you were really a witness to the crime, you must know who it was!"

Tyson just stared at her, looking aghast. Dyson tried to look unfazed, but Athena could tell how poor of an attempt it really was. It was time for her to land the last blow, she thought.

"Tyson, Dyson" she began anew, with a calm voice. "It's over. Even if neither of you is going to say anything anymore, we will find out the truth. There is still the other set of fingerprints found on the clothing of the victim left to examine, which I'm sure will give us the answer we have been looking for."

"N-no... n-no, it's not true..." Tyson began, pulling at the strings of their hoodie again, stronger this time, enough to make their eyes disappear. "Dyson didn't..." They started to stumble backwards, as if losing their sense of balance. Covering their ears, as if trying to block out all sounds as well, they softly exclaimed, almost whispered a long "Nooooo..." They tripped over a step and fell, only to be caught by Dyson the moment before their head would have hit the hard floor of the courtroom.

Athena and Phoenix could only look on, frowning. Even Franziska was silent, even showing a hint of concern in her face for the first time in the trial.

– "Bailiff! Quick, bring the witness to the infirmary!" the judge shouted.

The bailiff hesitated, seeing Dyson hold their sibling closer, shaking their head while looking at them. Tyson had their eyes closed and remained entirely silent.

"Tyson, I'm sorry... To have put you through all this as well... It's all my fault."

After some moments of silence that seemed to linger far too long, Athena finally spoke up again. "So, was this a confession, Dyson?"

– "Yes... I admit it." they said, still hugging Tyson. "Tyson earlier tried to cover for me by pretending to have been me and have had my motive, but I never wanted that. And I also never wanted for them to lose someone else so close to them, so I felt I could never turn myself in and face up to the consequences of what I have done."

"Facing trial? Why did you come to court today anyway, then? If you had stayed at home you would have managed to evade testifying." Phoenix asked.

Tyson now looked towards the defense bench.

– "Because I couldn't leave Tyson alone. I sent them a message earlier asking how they were doing, but Tyson's response just got me even more worried. Reading about how harsh it was and that it might still go on for hours... I just couldn't stand away. If only I had switched off my phone entirely rather than just putting it on vibrate..."

"How did you avoid leaving fingerprints on the doorhandles?" Phoenix continued.

– "By pushing them down with the sleeve of my hoodie wrapped around my hand."

"And everything else happened as Tyson claimed earlier?"

– "Yes. I pushed Sam in a fit of anger because I couldn't stand to see him in that moment anymore. He always seemed to one-up me, and as I saw him seemingly get closer to Ini my envy grew unimaginably large. I felt like I couldn't think of anything else anymore. The argument between him and Ini then gave raise to this selfish impulse to me that I could have him for me if I got him and Ini to go separate ways... but I meant to do this with words, not actions." Dyson took a deep breath, now looking at the bottom, tears welling up in their eyes.

"But Sam didn't fall for it. He was always the first to catch on to any kind of trick, really smart... I should have known better. All the envy clouded my mind though and so I pushed him, not even realizing where we were at the moment. I then tried to grab him by the calves as he was falling only to realize I wasn't strong enough and eventually had to let go... all the while Tyson had to watch helplessly."

A single sniff later, they continued. "There was nothing Tyson could have done. It's all on me..."

"Hold it" came a now desperate-sounding voice from behind the prosecution desk. Franziska was back to clutching herself, shaking. "If Dyson is the real culprit, then who was the victim referring to with their final words?"

Tyson slowly opened their eyes, and slowly began to speak. It lacked all the energy and even emotion that it had had earlier "I think... it was still me. I was probably the last person he saw, so... maybe he thought I did it and..."

The sentence was cut off by Dyson. "No! I'm sure it was something else. Maybe he was just asking..."

Tyson didn't let them finish either and said: "It's fine, I don't blame him. I wish I could have taken the blame." Tears were welling up in their eyes now as well, which they tried to wipe away before continuing. "That way you could still live out all your plans for the future... Both you and Sam seemed like you would make amazing dance instructors, you should have worked together, really!"

"B-but Sam... he clearly wanted nothing to do with me, he even went back on his promise to not get together with anyone!" Dyson argued.

– "Did you never realize? Ini and Sam weren't in a relationship. They were more like siblings..."

"But they spent so much more time together lately! I could barely even get a chance to talk to either of them! Was that really just because of the competition?"

Tyson hesitated to answer.

"Tyson, tell me, please, do you... do you know what Ini and Sam were actually arguing about?" Dyson pleaded, streams of tears running down their cheeks.

– "I said I didn't listen to it... but in the past days I had noticed Ini had often been distraught, and once I accidentally overheard her on the phone comforting a friend saying she will get them the money they need for a medical treatment soon, that she just needs to enter and win the dance competition." They sighed. "She often felt absent during the last few meetings, too, as if she really didn't want to be here, and wanted to take any opportunity to get out of town..." Tyson's voice trailed off again, unwilling to continue, face contorting with sorrow.

"I don't mean to interrupt" Phoenix interrupted. "But from the impression I have been getting, I thought Sam would have been understanding and supportive of Ini in such a situation. What ... what happened?"

Dyson was still just silently looking at Tyson, who didn't meet their eyes, staring at the ground, before answering.

"Sam, Sam... he had his own problems but was too proud to really talk about them. Going by how often he excused himself to leave meetings early to help his parents with something, I think he worried that leaving town would make it hard to care for his family. He also visibly flinched whenever a discussion mentioned the other teams at the dance competition, so he might have not liked the thought of performing in public. Sometimes... sometimes he reluctantly talked about how bullies from his old high school had gone on to become successful dance instructors, too, and must have feared the risk of meeting them again."

Phoenix put a finger to his chin, thinking for a moment.

"Wait, so... I'm sorry, is that what the argument was about? Sam saying he doesn't want to go, which Ini found hard to accept? And so Sam's name was crossed out on his own request?" he asked, trying his best to sound sympathizing.

Tyson just nodded. Dyson opened their mouth to speak, but it was as if the words were caught in their throat. It took a minute, or even longer, for them to get out.

“Your Honor” Phoenix now turned to the judge again. “Allow me to summarize my case. I believe we have now gathered all the information we need to get the whole picture of what happened on the evening of the crime.”

At the mention of the word “crime” Dyson winced.

Phoenix didn’t notice it and continued, arms resting on the bench in front of him, eyes firmly locked with the prosecution who, clenching teeth and hands, was now clearly uncomfortable, no trace of smugness remaining.

“There are several key times that allow us to reconstruct the sequence of events. We know what set it in motion was the argument at the top of the stairs connecting the first and second floor between the defendant, Ini Sent, and the victim, Samuel Buhr about the dance competition and the latter’s announcement that they would no longer be coming with the group. This was overheard by Dyson Shaman, who messaged Tyson Sagurl at 6:45 PM.” he said.

“At the same time, Ini Sent left the crime scene to go cross out Samuel Buhr’s name from the booking papers in the office. Dyson Shaman took this chance to talk to the victim, which quickly became an argument.”

Phoenix took a dramatic pause. “The victim had no intention of going along with the plan of Dyson Shaman to sideline Ini in favor of someone else, not just out of loyalty to the defendant, but also because the plan directly contradicted his own intentions to stay at home to care for his family and to not risk facing bullying at the dance competition.”

“He had no ill will against the person making the suggestion, but fatally also refused to explain his motivations. This led to the victim getting into another argument, this time with Dyson Shaman, and in the course of this, at around 7 PM or some time later, the same Dyson Shaman pushed Samuel Buhr, who was sitting on top of the railing of the stairs, causing him to lose balance.”

Phoenix returned his piercing gaze to the witness stand. The person just formally accused was shuddering all over their body and had winced at every mention of their name.

But Phoenix remained entirely unfazed, arm now outstretched.

“While you attempted to pull him up again, you proved to be not strong enough and so were unable to save him and make up for your mistake. As such, you are fully responsible for the death of the man who would have given you everything you wanted… if you had just asked him directly and not been obsessed with your rivalry fantasies!”

"No... Does that mean I was really so... wrong about everything? I should have just asked Sam... and maybe I could have helped and even become the dance instructor at the ...?"

Tyson just nodded again, eyes red from crying. Their sibling let go of them and just held their own head in their hands, breaking down sobbing. "No... no... no... NOOOOO..."

"Dyson!" Athena called out to them, but it went ignored.

Their crying continued even as the bailiff escorted them out of the courtroom, now handcuffed.

After that, the judge spoke the final words of the case.

"At this point this is just a formality, but the court finds the defendant, Ini Sent, Not Guilty. Court is adjourned."

Unlike most of all the previous trials he had won, Phoenix didn't feel like celebrating this time. He simply left the bench he had been standing behind and went through the open court doors, together with Athena.

Tyson took much longer, lingering in the courtroom at the witness stand until they were alone and had to be told to leave.

July 18

Courthouse Lobby

In the end, Phoenix, Athena, Tyson and Franziska all still ended up walking towards the exit together, wordlessly. It was obvious to any onlooker that all of them felt very uncomfortable. The silence had already felt like an eternity when Phoenix finally broke it.

"Tyson..." At hearing their name, they looked towards him, eyes still puffy.

"I'm sorry."

– "But for what? You won! You proved Ini's innocence. What more could I ask for?" Towards the end, the eye contact between both broke, with Tyson looking away again.

"I did, but instead you lost someone else close to you now. Even closer to you than Ini. I didn't expect it to turn out like this."

– Tyson hesitated to answer. "It's ... okay. It's fine, you had to do what you had to do. In fact, I think I should apologize for standing in the way of you and making it needlessly harder for you to pursue justice for everyone."

Athena stopped in front of them, clenching her hands into fists, an unexpectedly angry expression on her face.

"Tyson! Don't you dare! You have nothing to apologize for. I was there the entire time and saw you, fighting back against your own fear and tooth and nail for everyone you cared about. You were the bravest you could possibly be in the courtroom, and braver than anyone else in there today! You didn't stand in anyone's way, if it hadn't been for you, Ini would have gone to prison and we would have never been able to find out what really happened!" she exclaimed.

– "But I could have just told Phoenix directly what I saw..." Tyson said, still avoiding eye contact.

Athena's expression softened into one of concern.

"No, what you did were right. You had trouble believing someone as close to you as Dyson would be capable of doing something like that. No one wants to just accuse their friends or siblings of murder. Believe me, I went through something similar. You did what any good sibling would have done. Believed in them until the end, and let them say what was needed."

Tyson didn't respond.

"Even after their confession, you didn't abandon them, and still believed in the good inside them. No one could ask for a better sibling than you."

– "Thanks... I don't know what else to say, but thanks for everything you did for me, even if I resisted it..."

"¡Ningún problema! No problem!" she flashed a slight smile and started walking again.

They had all walked some steps and were almost at the entrance when Franziska spoke up, her face showing sincere concern, and a much friendlier smile than the one Phoenix had seen so much today.

"Tyson," she began. "I understand you're in a difficult situation now. I don't know what will happen to your support group, so allow me to express my most sincere sympathy to you. Even if we were adversaries in court, this need not be true outside the court, too. If you want, you can come to me if you need someone to listen to. In fact, I was planning on going to the spa at the weekend, and you're welcome to come with me! And the offer extends to Ini, too, should she want to come."

– "Oh man, I could go for a spa visit after this, too" said Phoenix.

"Shush, fool. Some things are meant to be kept between girls." she said, giving a knowing smile to Tyson.

Tyson looked Franziska into the eye, and for the first time since their last testimony, they smiled.