Content: Edgeworth is...concerned about Sasuke. And who better to ask about him than Might Gai?
Setting: Edgeworth's quarters
Time: Afternoon, during Sasuke's interrogation
Warnings: Obnoxiously vague statements, Gai's winning smile, and unwanted references to Gai's sex life
Everything was in its place. Half of the crew he brought together had gone after the mechanic, while Hijikata was in charge of Uchiha's interrogation. There was only one loose end to tie up: Might Gai. While Edgeworth doubted he had the same malice he suspected of the radio operator, he couldn't afford to overlook any detail, no matter how small or insignificant. If he had any information at all, he'd wring it out of him.
Hopefully it wouldn't be a waste of his time. He turned on his device (what useful things they were), tuned in to his frequency, and left him a short message to arrive at his office as soon as possible.
Gai burst into Edgeworth's office with a huge grin on his face. He might not know what the ship's First Officer wanted with him, but he figured that this was the perfect time to tell him about his idea. It was a really good idea! Gai was proud of it.
"Seaman Gai reporting, sir!" he said, giving a thumbs up in place of a salute.
The corner of Edgeworth's mouth twitched, and Gai's enthusiasm was met with an expression of bland displeasure. Was he always this...energetic?
No matter, it was only a small annoyance. He gestured to the chair in front of his desk, and said, "Sit down. There's some things I'd like to discuss with you."
Gai took the seat. "Thank you, sir! There's things I want to discuss with you, too!"
Now curious, Edgeworth raised his brow and asked, "Really? What sort of things would those be, Gai?"
Gai jumped right into the topic headfirst. "Well, sir! I've noticed that we ave several non-combatants on board, specifically small children! They can't properly defend themselves if attacked. And some of the crew's hand-to-hand skills seem somewhat rusty as well!"
At any other time, Gai's statement would have gotten Edgeworth's attention. He noticed the problem as well, and was ...less than pleased about the trouble it presented. They were the supposed to be the best ship in the navy; anything below perfection was unacceptable.
Unfortunately, the current situation left Edgeworth with little patience for tangents or off topic conversation. He thought over Gai's words for the briefest of moments, before he cleared his throat and replied, "We'll take care of that problem momentarily. First, though, there's something else we must handle."
"Right!" Gai said. "So, what can I do for you, sir?"
"Tell me," he started, "Are you close to the radio operator?"
Oh dear, Gai wasn't sure he liked where this was going. "Which one?" he asked, to stall for time to think of a proper answer.
"The young one, Sasuke Uchiha."
Gai seemed to consider that. "Well...I don't know if close is the word I would use. We know each other, but...there's nothing improper about our relationship, if that's what you were worried about, sir!"
Edgeworth remained silent and impassive at first. Then he winced. Then he grimaced. And then right afterwards, he placed his fingers against his forehead, as if he needed some support so his face wouldn't smash into the desk.
"Trust me," he said, his voice strained, "That's the very least of my concerns."
"Oh, good!" Gai said, relieved. "Because while I have been known to taste of the carnal fruits, he's much too young for me. It wouldn't be proper, sir!"
"I-you don't need-I all ready know that's improper!"
He paused to take a deep breath, and, now composed, he said slowly, "Your...personal tastes aren't being called into question, Gai. I merely wish to know if you two were familiar with each other before you joined the Victoria II."
Edgeworth's reaction had been worth every word of it.
"Oh, yes, Sir. Actually, I've known him practically since he was born! Our families are quite close. Although I hadn't seen him for years until I bumped into him a few months ago, right here on the ship. That was quite a coincidence!"
The best part of it was, that none of this was a lie.
"Quite a coincidence indeed."
He paused for a moment, and asked, "So, if he was to...say, behave strangely, you'd realize it, correct?"
Gai leaned back, considering that. "Well, he was always an odd child. And like I said, I haven't seen him for several years; years that were the primetime of his youthful spirit's development! It might be difficult to judge."
"Possibly. But you'd have a better idea than most of the people on the ship, correct?"
Gai wasn't sure where this was going. "Probably, sir!"
He nodded. "Out of curiosity...how did he react when he saw you again? I'm sure he must have been pleased to meet an old friend."
"Well, mostly surprise. He didn't seem entirely pleased to see me again, but I'm sure that was just nervousness!"
"I see. He is a bit standoffish, isn't he? It's...well, it can be problematic."
"That's one way to put it. Not exactly the most social child, and who can blame him?"
Edgeworth raised his brow again and leaned back in his chair. "Oh? Did something happen?"
"Well, it's not really my place to say, but...I suppose I misspoke earlier when I said that our families are close. It would have been more correct to say that they were close, if you follow me."
There was a moment of silence, and Edgeworth glanced away from Gai for a few brief seconds before he looked back.
"...I see. But I understand that you're still quite friendly with him."
Gai nodded. "I do my best, sir. He's a troubled boy sometimes, and he needs someone to be there for him."
"He's also really fun to mess with, so there's that!"
There was a small, rare smile, and Edgeworth shook his head.
"I suppose there is. Also, I apologize for prying, but I think you can understand my concern."
OK, now, what was this really about? Edgeworth didn't call him in here to talk about Sasuke's childhood...
Enough was enough. It was time to move forward.
"Of course...you aren't his only friend, are you? Don't you two have another acquaintance from the old days?"
Ah, here we go.
"Well, we have several. Is there one in specific that you're referring to?"
"There is one. I believe her name is...Anko, wasn't it?"
He tilted his head, and waited for Gai's response...intentional or otherwise.
Aaaand here we go. Exactly where Gai had thought this was going.
"Ah yes, Mitarashi Anko. The flower of my youth..."
"So you know her, then?"
He braced himself for another idiotic tangent.
And of course, Gai was not in the business of disappointing. "Oh, yes. When I was a young lad, we used to tease her about her height. Ah, those were the halcyon days of my childhood."
Edgeworth remained as calm as ever, and for once, there were no signs of irritation or annoyance. "So she was a childhood friend, I take it."
"Well, in a manner of speaking. I'm about....oh, five years her senior? So not really a friend the way one usually means the term. At one point I even babysat her! She wasn't amused."
Five years her senior? So that would make her about...hrm.
"Most children aren't," he replied. "I assume your families were close as well."
"Yep, that's correct! Mrs. Mitarashi made the best muffins."
Fascinating. "Were you able to keep in touch? I understand people drift apart as they get older."
"Oh, poor Mrs. Mitarashi, she passed on about a year ago. Very tragic."
Yes, OK, now he was just messing with Edgeworth for the fun of it.
"Yes, very," he deadpanned. "But I was referring to her daughter."
There was a pause. "Anko," he added, in case she has any obnoxious siblings for him to go on about.
"Ah! Well, I kept in touch up until I enlisted...but I've re-established contact with her recently! Ah, the wonders of technology."
"It's certainly amazing. Tell me, what's she doing nowadays?"
"She's enlisted on some ship. Being a real terror to the crew, I imagine! I feel sorry for them."
The crew and everyone else, he added silently.
"You'd know better than me," he said. "What sort of ship did she tell you it was?"
"She was never very specific about it, I'm afraid. I can't imagine why."
"Nor can I," he said. "Did it never come up, or...?"
"Not really, no! We had other things to talk about aside from business. You understand."
"I do, but when one is on a ship, a crew is more than mere business. Considering how much time she must have spent with them, I'd be more surprised if they never came up."
And of course, they had, but Gai didn't want to tell Edgeworth more than was necessary.
"Only in general terms. Who was a lazy bum, who was having sex with whom, that sort of thing. Gossip, really."
Edgeworth nodded softly. "What about her work? I imagine she must have had a few complaints about that - after all, being on a ship isn't always easy, is it?"
"Well, of course, but...it's Anko, sir, I didn't think her complaining about her work was anything out of the ordinary."
His brow was raised, and he paused for a brief moment. "So she was talkative about her work, then?"
Oh hell, that had been a mis-step. Gai tried to double back and correct it. "She was talkative about how much she hated it! All of that pretty much sounds the same."
"I can imagine."
He shrugged, and added, "However, not all complaints are created equal. For example, a cook would have far different grievances than a boatswain, would she not?"
"Well, of course."
Gai paused for a moment, and then decided to just bite the bullet and get this over with.
"Sir, is this leading anywhere in particular?"
Well, there was no need to beat around the bush anymore, was there? In a way, it was almost a relief. Edgeworth cleared his throat and looked Gai straight in the eye.
"There were concerns about Uchiha's conversations over the network," he stated simply. "Including his talks with Mitarashi. They would have been benign, if not for one thing."
"And that thing would be?"
"Her ship. The signal from her journal was the exact same signal as communications from the 4423."
His eyes never left Gai's face and he watched intently for his reaction.
Gai reacted with the proper amount of shock.
"S-sir! You mean the 4423? The ship from the DOma poisonings?"
"The very same," he said coolly. "I don't think I need to tell you the conflict of interest inherent in a radio operator for the military talking to someone on a pirate ship."
"Absolutely you do not!" Gai agreed. "Why...sir, I had no idea!"
"Unfortunately, I doubt we can say the same for Uchiha," he replied. "And if he knowingly talked to pirates...well, needless to say, we'll have very little room for him on this ship."
That was troubling. Gai had been hoping to keep an eye on Sasuke, at least for the immediate future. Gai considered trying to rescue him...but he couldn't see a way to do so. Oh well, the kid was smart, he'd be able to get out of his own messes.
"I understand, sir," he said."I'm sure an investigation will clear him of any wrongdoing!"
"Perhaps, perhaps not. Only time will tell. However, I think we can both agree that a quick investigation will be in the best interests of Sasuke Uchiha and the ship, yes?"
"Absolutely. I'd be happy to assist in any capacity, sir!" Have that thumbs up and smile again, Edgeworth.
Did...did his teeth just sparkle at him? Edgeworth was distracted for a brief moment, but he quickly shook it off. He had more important things to focus on than dental hygiene.
"You can start by telling me about Uchiha and Mitarashi. If you have any information that can shed light on these two, I'd like to hear it."
Gai rubbed his chin for a moment, considering. "Well, the two of them don't have a very familiar relationship between them, but they were both students of the same man. That's probably why the one is so interested in the other, and vice-versa."
"And what man was this?"
Edgeworth wasn't entirely sure how relevant this information would be, but he couldn't afford to ignore it, especially if it was what bound them together.
Gai opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it again. He puzzled for a moment, scratching his head, and then said, "I'm sorry, Sir, I've forgotten it. It was long...at least five syllables. I think it started with an O."
Nobody would ever be able to prove that he hadn't forgotten a name like Orochimaru, after all.
The corner of Edgeworth's mouth twitched, and there was a brief pause before he spoke again.
"Do you know anything else about him?" he asked, his voice tense with vague irritation.
Gai considered for a moment...then sat up, thumping his hand with a fist. "Ah! I've got it!"
Edgeworth's eyes widened, and a small part of him dared to be hopeful.
"Oh? What is it?"
"He had a real thing for snakes. He even looked like one!"
There was a moment of silence.
"Is that all you recall?"
Gai managed to look a little sheepish. "Sorry, pal. I didn't spend much time with him myself. I just remember that he was sort of--" Here, Gai makes explanatory wavy motions with his hands to get across that he was spooky.
So the pirate and the traitor were both disciples of a spooky man with a thing for snakes. Wonderful. Edgeworth sighed, and asked, "How did you find out about him?"
Well, Gai couldn't very well say 'oh, we were all of us part of a secret ninja organization'. So, time to stretch the truth a little more.
"Oh, Mitarashi talked about him all the time when she was small," he said. "If you want my opinion, I think she had a bit of a crush on him. But I didn't remember much of that, because I didn't really care."
While Edgeworth wasn't exactly pleased with the answer, there was no way for him to get more information. At least, not until he heard from Hijikata about the interrogation (and got ahold of the journal himself).
"And is that all you recall?"
"I'm afraid so, sir."
He smiled perhaps a little more than he should have at that statement...but, this being Gai, it was unlikely to be noticed.
Gai was right; after one sparkling smile after another, they all tended to blend together in his mind.
"That will be all," he said. "You'll be contacted if there's any more questions. For now, though, consider yourself dismissed."
Gai stood up, and flashed Edgeworth another thumbs up. "Yes, sir! Oh, and sir, about the other topic we were discussing..."
The other topic? What were they - oh, right. That topic.
"The training exercises, you mean?"
Gai nodded vigorously. "Exactly, sir! I have extensive martial arts experienece, and as a teacher thereof! I volunteer my services for providing a course on hand to hand self defense!"
"...I'll take that into consideration," he said. "Give me some time to discuss the matter with the captain, and we'll organize something suitable."
That is, assuming Gai was cleared completely. While he seemed surprised by his friends' actions, Edgeworth still wanted to doublecheck some information. However, if he was...well. Not only would it be useful, it would be a delightful alternative to paycuts.
Gai nodded. "Thank you very much sir! Have a wonderful day!"
And with that, he was gone.