APRIL, 1999

The courtroom was crowded, and full of noise. Among the sea of police officers, government agents, civilians, news people with cameras and journalists, a woman sat, a woman in her early twenties with short black hair and pale blue eyes sat at one of the lawyer's tables, next to the man she was defending.

"You're looking at twenty years, max, if they come back with a guilty sentence on all counts." She stated to the man beside her.

"I'm willing to do it," The man, who couldn't look much older than twenty-five, murmured, and ran a hand through short red hair. His eyes were sunken in, like he hadn't slept in a few days, and the woman felt her heart tug in sympathy. "If it keeps my friends safe. They wouldn't survive in prison. They're too... Fragile. I just hope they took my advice and disbanded the team."

"You did the wrong things for the right reasons and you're taking the fall for it, Orion," The woman said. "But you can't let anyone know about the others. Otherwise you could get a death sentence and I'm trying to make sure you see the light of day again."

She was cut off from saying anything else as the jury walked in. An eerie hush fell over the crowd, as they watched the head juror hand a piece of paper to the baliff. The baliff handed the paper to the judge, who looked at it, and then folded her hands.

"If the defendant will please rise," The judge requested, and both Orion and his lawyer stood. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?"

"We have, your honor," The head juror nodded.

"In one count of stalking, in the first degree, how do you find the defendant?"

"We find the defendant, guilty."

Orion closed his eyes, breathing deeply. That, he had expected.

"In two counts of aggravated assault in the second degree, how do you find the defendant?" The judge asked.

"We find the defendant, guilty."

Orion's lawyer sighed, and murmured, "Expected that."

"In one count of theft in the first degree, how do you find the defendant?"

"We find the defendant, not guilty."

Orion felt his shoulders sag in relief, and a murmur ran through the crowd.

"Order!" The judge tapped her gavel, and turned back to the jury, "And in one count of attempted murder in the second degree, how do you find the defendant?"

"We find the defendant... guilty."

The murmur got louder, and cameras flashed. People tarted talking and Orion let his head fall into his hands. His lawyer patted his shoulder.

"Just wait," She murmured, and while her body language conveyed sympathy, her voice was one of anticipation.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the people of Chicago thank you for your time," The judge turned to Orion, eyes hard and steely. "Mr. Deathstrome, given the fact of the nature of your crimes, and that you have indeed plead guilty to all of your crimes, I hereby sentence you to twenty years in Chicago State Penitentiary. You will be eligible for parole in fifteen years, given the fact you maintain good behavior. Case dismissed."

The judge banged her gavel, but Orion didn't hear it. He heard nothing, barely even registering as the court appointed officers took him by the arms and lead him away.

Worth it... Just remember that it's worth it, he thought to himself. It will always be worth it.