March 23rd, 11:34pm
Miles Edgeworth's Townhouse
After the celebrations, Phoenix finds himself drunkenly brokering a deal with Gumshoe. The detective drops the girls off at Phoenix's apartment--Maya raises her eyebrows at him when he doesn't get out of the car with them, but shrugs and smiles devilishly to herself, remembering that Phoenix has cable--then leaves Phoenix on the steps of Miles Edgeworth's townhouse.
"Do you want me to wait around the block?" Gumshoe asks, leaning out of the driver-side window and looking beyond Phoenix to eye the front door warily. He has his doubts that Edgeworth is going to let the defense attorney into the house.
"No," Phoenix says simply, dismissing the detective with an exaggerated sweep of his arms.
Gumshoe regards the other man with a mixture of concern and confusion. Phoenix sways a little on his feet as he waits for Gumshoe to leave before approaching the house. Gumshoe shrugs, says, "When you wake up hung over tomorrow, don't forget you owe me a burger and fries," and drives off.
Phoenix turns and stares at the house, suddenly second-guessing this decision now that his chance of escape has driven away. He nods to himself sharply, then stomps up to the front door, knocking loudly.
He continues knocking as the door opens, leaving him rapping his fingers against the air.
"Wright?" Edgeworth greets him, his surprise apparent.
When first struck with the idea to visit Miles Edgeworth this evening, he had a lot of things he'd wanted to get off of his chest. On the drive over, he'd imagined this meeting, planning what he would say, how he would say it. But all that falls from his mind when he sees the innocent surprise on Edgeworth's face, as though he'd never considered that maybe Phoenix had a few things he wanted to say to him, as though there was nothing left for them to discuss. As though Phoenix hadn't just spent the last year thinking his friend was dead.
Even Phoenix is surprised when his fist connects with the side of Edgeworth's face. The impact makes a sick, wet sound, followed by the crack of Edgeworth's teeth slamming together. He pulls his fist back immediately, horrified with himself.
Edgeworth rubs the side of his face, too surprised to be angry. His tongue darts out to catch the blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth. He regards Phoenix with narrowed, calculating eyes and says, "I suppose I deserved that?"
Phoenix shrugs, feeling embarrassed and guilty, but also sort of mollified. Edgeworth experimentally stretches his jaw, wincing in pain. Watching him, Phoenix's guilt surpasses his satisfaction, and his words come out in a rush: "God, Edgeworth, I'm so sorry. I'm sort of drunk, which you can maybe tell, but that's no excuse. I'm so sorry. I can't believe I did that. Let me get you some ice or something. I'm so sorry."
"Wright," Edgeworth says, holding up the hand that isn't pressed against his cheek. "Shut up."
Edgeworth turns and disappears into the house. He leaves the door open in what must be an invitation, but Phoenix can't quite believe Edgeworth would make that offer until the prosecutor calls, "Come in or don't, but close the door. You're letting the heat out."
Phoenix steps into the house, closing the door gently behind him. The foyer is dark, lit only by the light flooding out of the room at the end of the hall. He can hear movement coming from that direction, so he follows the sound into what turns out to be the kitchen. Edgeworth makes a vague gesture for him to sit while he wraps some ice up in a kitchen towel.
"You should let me do that for you," Phoenix offers meekly. Edgeworth waves his hand dismissively as he takes a seat at the table across from Phoenix. He presses the ice to his face with another wince.
A silence falls between them. Phoenix is painfully uncomfortable, but Edgeworth seems at ease, ignoring the other man to flip through yesterday's news paper.
"I'm sorry," Phoenix says again, lamely, just to fill the silence.
Edgeworth looks up at him, considering. He asks, slightly muffled by the ice pack, "You mean you didn't come here intending to smack me around?"
Phoenix grimaces at Edgeworth's choice of terminology. "That had not been part of my plan, no."
"You had a plan?"
"I had--" Phoenix stops, feeling foolish. "I had some things I wanted to say to you."
"I thought we had discussed things quite a bit over the last few days."
"No," Phoenix says forcefully, feeling egged on by Edgeworth's flippant demeanor. "You talked a lot, and I listened with little input, and now it's my turn to talk."
Edgeworth raises an eyebrow, but he doesn't say anything, acquiescing to Phoenix's demand.
There are easily a hundred questions that Phoenix wants to ask the man sitting in front of him. He looks at Edgeworth, who is drumming his fingers against the table lightly, and the gesture is so familiar, so weirdly comforting that it makes Phoenix's stomach drop, and he asks, "How could you let us think you were dead?"
Edgeworth smiles, but it's a bitter smile, his eyes sliding away from Phoenix to look past him. He asks, "Would you believe me if I told you that wasn't my intent?"
Phoenix laughs, because it's a better alternative than throwing another punch, or curling into the fetal position and crying at the other man's feet.
"What's so funny?" Edgeworth asks, suspicious and guarded.
"Nothing, really. I'm just trying to figure out if you're an idiot, or if you think that I'm one."
Edgeworth frowns. He says, "Obviously I think you're an idiot, but I don't know what that has to do with this."
"You really didn't think for a second that maybe that letter might be interpreted literally?" Phoenix asks, feeling hot with a growing anger at Edgeworth's apparent stupidity.
"Franziska didn't take it literally," Edgeworth offers lamely.
"I am not Franziska!" Phoenix says, almost shouting. He slams a fist against the table. Less loudly, but no more calmly, he says, "I spent a year thinking you were dead. Dead, Edgeworth. Do you understand what I'm saying? Maybe I got your motives wrong, fine, whatever. I'd be willing to apologize for being an asshole who underestimated you, except that you made me think you were fucking dead.
"And then you waltz back in here like nothing ever happened, spouting all this fucking cryptic bullshit, and not once--not once!--do you say, 'Hey, Phoenix, everyone, I'm sorry for all of the pain and grief and despair, the confusion and anger, I must have caused you when you thought I was fucking dead.'
"Not fucking once have you apologized for what you put me through."
Edgeworth puts the ice pack down on the table, folding his hands in his lap. He says, "I apologize for my ambiguity."
"That's not good enough," Phoenix says, looking fierce and angry.
"I'm sorry," Edgeworth says, visibly nervous but still holding Phoenix's gaze, "that I didn't let you know as soon as I'd changed my mind."
Phoenix frowns, trying to decipher this statement. His mind still slightly slowed by alcohol, he repeats, "Changed your mind?"
"About choosing death."
The light clicks in Phoenix's head: "So it wasn't figurative."
"No," Edgeworth says, looking away. He crosses an arm across his chest, hugging himself tightly. "I was being very literal when I wrote it."
"What happened?" Phoenix asks gently, the anger draining out of him. He wants so badly for Edgeworth to look at him.
Edgeworth shrugs, and Phoenix can almost see the wheels turning in his head, trying to figure out how to tell this story. After a pause, Edgeworth says, "Franziska and I now own von Karma's estate. She was still living there until she came to the States, actually. I figured I had a few days until the circumstances of my... departure... reached her, and I wanted to spend some time with her before I..." He stops, grimacing, then continues, "We hadn't seen each other since the funeral. That's not terribly relevant, I guess. Anyway, she was working 14 hour days at the time, and she wasn't particularly pleased to see me in any case, so I spent a lot of time by myself, roaming around the house.
"As I'm sure you can imagine, that was not the healthiest way for someone in my state to be spending their time.
"Somehow I found my way up to the attic, which I don't think I'd ever been in before, and shoved back in the farthest corner was everything I'd brought to Germany with me when von Karma first adopted me."
He stops, smiling bitterly. The motion makes him cringe in pain. Phoenix reaches for the ice and presses it gently against Edgeworth's cheek. It's a more intimate gesture than he'd intended, and they make awkward eye contact until Edgeworth clears his throat and leans back, moving out of Phoenix's reach. He puts the ice back on the table as Edgeworth continues, "von Karma had told me that the airport lost my luggage. The only time I can remember him showing me any kindness was that night, when he let me cry into his chest over my lost belongings.
"When I'd packed for the move, von Karma was adamant that I have no more than two suitcases, so literally every single thing I packed had some kind of special meaning to me. I found the baseball cards I'd collected with my father--I didn't even like baseball--and the only family picture we got to take before my mother died, and some of my father's old law books. I'd packed his college sweatshirt, and a pair of my mother's earrings that I don't even know how I got hold of; my favorite stuffed animal, and the ticket stub from the first time I went to the movies, and a bunch of tests that I'd gotten A's on..."
He stops again, blinking rapidly. Phoenix is patient, letting him collect himself. He continues, "It was overwhelming, to say the least. And I thought... I don't know. I thought I couldn't make it another day. I thought that I would look at every single thing in those suitcases, and then I would take them out to the yard to burn them, and then I would do it.
"At the bottom of the first suitcase, there was a photo album I didn't recognize. I started flipping through it, and I realized it was something my father must have put together, because it was all pictures of me: at school, playing in the backyard, with my friends." He stops again, casting a meaningful look at Phoenix. "And there was this photo of the three of us--me, you, and Larry, I mean--I didn't recognize where the photo would have been taken, it looked like we might have been outside of the school, or maybe the library. Some brick building with wide front steps.
"Anyway, we just looked so happy. I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I'd been that happy. In the picture, we were holding hands, you and I. I thought that was so strange. Was that something we did? Hold hands?" He shakes his head, dismissing the question. "I don't remember, but I guess it doesn't matter. I was just staring at this picture, and everything in those suitcases was a memento of something I could never get back, but this one picture...
"Larry is kind of a muck," Edgeworth says frankly, which surprises a laugh out of Phoenix. Edgeworth smiles a little, too, and then says, "But you're not so bad, Phoenix Wright. And I just started thinking about you, and your part in the last few months of my life, and how you believed in me in spite of all the reasons not to. I kept thinking about how you knew that boy I used to be, before everything that happened, and how you still saw some of that same person in me, even now.
"And I decided that if you thought that person was still inside of me, then maybe he was, and I owed it to myself to find out. I owed it to myself to try to find my way.
"And if I couldn't find my way," Edgeworth adds quietly, "I would go back to my original plan."
"But I didn't, did I? Aren't I sitting here with you now?" He smiles wistfully, looking at Phoenix for the first time since he started this story. "That's twice now you've saved my life, you know."
Edgeworth's bottom lip is beginning to swell, and there's a thin line of dried blood at the corner of his mouth. A shadow of a bruise is forming on his cheek, and Phoenix reaches out impulsively to run his thumb lightly over the skin. Edgeworth flinches at the touch, but he doesn't move away.
"I'm sorry I punched you."
"I'm sorry I made you think I was dead."
Phoenix smiles in spite of himself. "Maybe not, but you're sitting here with me now, aren't you?"
Edgeworth nods, seeming suddenly shy. Phoenix looks at him for a second, then leans in and very gently kisses the corner of Edgeworth's mouth, avoiding the swelling so as not to hurt him. He leans back slightly, their faces still close, and says, "Please never be in another situation where your life needs to be saved. I don't think I could handle it."
"I'll certainly do my best," Edgeworth says quietly. Phoenix moves to kiss him again, but Edgeworth pulls back warily.
"I missed you," Phoenix says, bringing his hand up to cup Edgeworth's uninjured cheek. "I didn't think I would, but I did."
"That's very charming, thank you."
Phoenix grins. "You're welcome."
Phoenix tries again to kiss him, and Edgeworth again evades him, saying, "Wright, don't. You're drunk, and my face hurts."
Phoenix takes one of Edgeworth's hands in both of his own and places a ghost of a kiss on the inside of his wrist. When the other man doesn't protest, he leans in and kisses him on the neck.
"See? Problem solved," he says, sounding please with himself.
"You're still drunk."
"I'm not that drunk."
"Drunk enough to punch me in the face not too long ago."
Phoenix frowns. "What if I came back tomorrow?"
Egeworth smiles ruefully. "You won't come back tomorrow. When you wake up in the morning, I expect you're going to be quite embarrassed by your behavior this evening."
"I wasn't asking what you thought the odds are, I was asking what you would do."
Edgeworth takes a moment to consider this, then says, "I don't know."
Edgeworth stands, and so Phoenix stands, too, following him out of the kitchen and back down the hallway to the front door.
"I'll call you a cab," Edgeworth says, already reaching into his pocket for his cell phone. Phoenix watches him dumbly as he makes the arrangements.
They stand together quietly in the semi-darkness of the foyer. Phoenix can't stop thinking about everything Edgeworth has told him, and how close he was to losing him, and how awful those first few months had been after finding his suicide note--how surprised he'd been by the strength of his emotions. There's a strange yet familiar feeling building in his stomach, one he isn't quite ready to identify.
"It looks like your cab is here," Edgeworth says, opening the door for the other man. They step out onto the stoop together. "It's been an interesting evening."
"I'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay," Edgeworth says, obviously humoring him.
Phoenix grabs him by the shoulders, pulling Edgeworth to him so that their bodies are pressed together, and kisses him gently but thoroughly. Edgeworth tastes faintly of the sweet, metallic tang of blood.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Phoenix says again, locking eyes with Edgeworth, then walks leisurely to the cab without looking back.