Miles Edgeworth looked aside from the holograph-display in front of him, sheets of crystalline menus arranged three-square around him. One of his students was standing in his office doorway, shifting nervously, glancing at him through the white window of his inbox. Edgeworth touched the top-right corner of the window with his fingertips and moved it in front of him, overlapping another document.
“Toby.” He nodded toward a chair on the other side of his horseshoe desk. “Have a seat.”
Toby sat down uncomfortably, eyes still shifting around the room. Edgeworth sat back in his seat, moving the menus out of his line of vision with quick flourishes of his fingertips. He smiled in spite of himself. It was stunning, really, how much Toby’s mannerisms resembled his father’s when he was nervous.
“I’m glad you could make it. I’m afraid we need to discuss your grade.”
Toby nodded dumbly. “I really am trying my hardest, Uncle Miles. I just don’t… get a lot of your class.”
“Well, you’re too far in to drop without repercussions, I’m afraid.”
Toby nodded. Miles pulled up another menu and scooted it to the lower-left corner of his range of vision. He removed his glasses, cleaned them on the hem of his vest, and pushed them back over his nose. “…and it looks like even if you get a hundred percent on this final, which I might as well warn you is comprehensive and not easy, you’d scrape a B- with curving and a generous round-up.”
“It’s just not going to happen.”
Miles nodded and sat back in his chair, folding his hands over his stomach. Toby looked up a little.
“I am doing a lot better in Uncle Nick’s class, sir. I… I really like law, and I love what you’re teaching me, but a lot of it just doesn’t make sense.”
“Well, Uncle Nick’s class is discussion-and-participation based. I’m afraid I’m taken with the crusty tradition of papers and textbooks.”
“I’m a hands-on learner.”
“You know, unfortunately, law school is vastly dominated by classes like mine. I’m afraid Uncle Nick is an outlier.”
“An anomaly. Not the norm.” Miles sighed and leaned forward a little, scanning the boy’s face carefully. “And my undergrad class is far less competitive than my law school classes. To be honest, were you in law school, I would have to fail you.”
Toby nodded sedately. Miles waited in case he wanted to put words in order before saying something, and when greeted with silence, continued.
“I’m sure somebody’s told you before that we’re all cut out for different things, right?”
“You’re saying I shouldn’t be a lawyer, huh?”
“I’m saying you should take a serious look at the reality of what you’re trying to get into.” If you even get into law school. “You haven’t got a bad head on your shoulders. I just don’t think it’s best used in… traditional law practice. I really think you’re more of a hands-on man.”
“Like Mom and Dad.”
“I could have told you that when you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye.”
Toby grimaced slightly. “I really hate that saying.”
“So do I. Here’s what I want you to do.” Miles pointed at a hologram-shape of a packet and drug it between himself and Toby. Toby pressed a button on his watch, and the packet contracted, drifted from Miles to Toby as a ball of golden light, and unfolded over the halo of light around the face of Toby’s watch. “I want you to seriously think about some of these programs. Forensics is becoming quite an exciting field. And I really think it’s more suited to your… innate abilities.”
Toby had touched the packet, and it had unfolded into several windows, each containing a pamphlet. He was scanning them quickly, flipping through them with his fingertips. “I was thinking maybe paralegal.”
“You wouldn’t like it. It’s all paperwork.”
Toby nodded and brought his fingers together over the pamphlets, as though he was picking up sand, and they re-condensed into the packet icon. He dragged the packet into the face of his watch, where it disappeared. His eyes darted to the timepiece; it was obvious he wanted to get somewhere, probably meet with his friends. Miles’ face softened.
“Look. If you study for this final, go over all the review questions I gave you in class—” Toby stiffened slightly; it was obvious he hadn’t written them down. “—I can guarantee you at least a D. Okay?”
Toby stood. “Thanks, Uncle Miles.”
He hesitated; it was obvious he wanted to say something else. Edgeworth sat back and arched his eyebrows.
“Did you really… remember when Mom was pregnant with me?”
“Like it was yesterday.”
“But I thought you were in Europe at that time.”
“Your Uncle Nick told me. He was the one who was actually helping your mom and dad when they found out they were going to have you.”
Toby nodded silently. Edgeworth pushed his glasses up his nose and sat up.
“So that’s settled, then. You go and study, and I’ll see you next week.”
“Um, I thought you were coming to dinner on Saturday.”
“Well, then, Uncle Miles will see you on Saturday, and Professor Edgeworth will see you next week.”
“All right, cool. I’ll see you later, then.”
It was amazing how much noise that kid could make just exiting a room. Edgeworth smiled to himself and checked his watch; just after five. He gathered all of the hologram sheets around him in his fingers and pressed them into a small dome on the top of his desk. He gathered the dome and put it in his pocket, glad for his shoulder’s sake he no longer had to carry a briefcase around for every file he may need during the day, locked up his office with his thumbprint, and knocked on the office next-door to his. As expected, he got no answer, and it was dark inside. He smiled to himself and left the Law Building.
It was a beautiful evening; the walk to the Music Building was quite enjoyable. He stepped into the cool antechamber, and as expected, somebody was picking out a melody on the piano, hesitantly, one note at a time. He rounded the corner, and Phoenix Wright was sitting at the old Grand Piano by the staircase, picking something out with his forefinger while talking to two of his law students standing aside him. Edgeworth smiled and leaned against the column rounding the corner, crossing his arms. The acoustics in the building were quite good; he could hear the discussion clearly. One of the girls pulled up a document on her watch, and Phoenix leaned over to read it, his nose almost touching the hologram, squinting. Miles sighed heavily.
“You see, this is why I keep telling him to get glasses. He’s convinced he’s still twenty-five.”
Phoenix turned in his seat and arched his eyebrows at Edgeworth. The girls giggled. He had them both in his class last year, though damned if he could remember their names at the moment. He was certain one of them had changed her hair color again.
“Hey, Professor Edgeworth.”
“I think I’m in trouble for something already.” Phoenix nodded toward Edgeworth and winked at the students. “You girls may want to clear out.”
They exchanged looks and started giggling again. They bid both professors good-bye and left, glancing behind them and whispering. Edgeworth sighed and sat down on the piano bench, placing his hands over Phoenix’s and gently lifting them off.
“You know,” said Phoenix, “I’m fairly convinced that the female students are more on to us than the male students.”
“You should let the students who can actually play have time on the piano. Especially when you’re supposed to have office hours.”
“I’m doing a service. My students know they can find me here if I’m not in my office.”
Miles absent-mindedly fixed the spikes Phoenix still insisted on putting in his hair, though they had thinned, and, had Phoenix not dyed his hair black, would be shot with gray. The medication he was taking was slowing the receding of his hairline, but his forehead was noticeably barer than it was in his youth.
Phoenix started picking out a tune on the piano again, something vaguely familiar, though damned if Miles could remember what it was. He sighed.
“Guess who I just saw in my office?”
“Hmmm.” Phoenix paused, turning his head slightly enough for Miles to see that he was smiling. “God, that whole pregnancy ordeal seems like it happened only yesterday.”
“I know. He even asked me about that.” Miles sighed and gave up on Phoenix’s hair, then wrapped his arms around Phoenix’s waist. It wasn’t as slim as it once was—though they both tried to stay healthy. They kept trying to one-up each other to have the least stomach paunch. Miles smiled and buried his nose in Phoenix’s hair, closing his eyes.
“I can’t believe how old we’re getting,” Phoenix said quietly. He was still picking out that damned song; what was it called…?
“Oh, hush. We’ve years and years yet ahead of us.”
“Yeah, but…” Phoenix stopped playing to run his fingers through his hair. “Don’t you ever wish we were twenty again? Back when we were young heartthrobs?”
“You wouldn’t have half as many wrinkles if you’d just get glasses so you don’t squint so badly. And no, I don’t.”
“What philosophical gem do you have as a reason for that answer?”
“I don’t.” Miles kissed Phoenix on the top of the head. “I just wouldn’t have you in my life if we were twenty again.”
Phoenix leaned back to look up at Miles, smiling. He kissed him softly before straightening back up and continuing with the melody.
“I just meant physically.”
“Ah!” Miles snapped his fingers. “That’s what it is.”
Phoenix kept playing. “What?”
“Son, can you play me a memory? I’m not really sure how it goes…”
Phoenix sighed and shook his head, eyes half-lidded in concentration. “I don’t even like Billy Joel. I don’t know why I’m playing this song.”
“But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes…”
Phoenix stopped playing and turned to face Edgeworth again, arching his eyebrow. “Apparently, you do. You’re not a bad singer, by the way. I keep telling you that.”
Edgeworth shrugged. “Well, maybe it’s synchronicity.”
“Of course, always for you.”
Phoenix punched Miles in the ribs softly. Miles laughed.
“I mean, to be honest, every time I heard this damn song after you started playing at bars, I thought of you.”
Phoenix rubbed between his brows. “Oh Christ—”
“What? I know it’s a superficial association, but—”
“No, do you know how many times people asked me to play that song? And I can’t sing very well.”
Phoenix continued playing, this time a different song, one that also tugged at the edge of Miles’ memory, though his mind was running to the part of ‘Piano Man’ that reminded him most strongly of Phoenix, reminded him mostly strongly of that turbulent period in their lives. He rested his cheek on Phoenix’s head and stared at the sunset light shifting across the marble floor. He would be loathe to admit how many times that song was repeated on his mp3 player back then.
It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday,
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been coming to see
To forget about life for awhile.
And the piano sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say "Man, what are you doin' here?"
This is where Phoenix belongs. Not a bar pecking away at a piano.
Miles turned toward the piano again, suddenly remembering what Phoenix was playing now. He arched his eyebrows. “And what memory are you playing me with this?”
Phoenix shrugged. “It was my vocation for a while, playing memories.”
“You’re not going to make a joke about ‘playing’ memories in court?”
“Well, now there’d be no point.” He stopped playing and stood, turning to face Miles and smiling tiredly. “Ready to go home?”
Miles nodded and smiled. He’d never forgotten what a luxury it was to be able to hear those words, see Phoenix say them, and wind up in the same place, sleeping in the same bed, at the end of the day. Just being able to kiss him good night, and wake up with him in the morning, was heavenly. He could tell by Phoenix’s silence, by the way he squeezed Miles’ hand before they left and kept glancing and smiling at him on the way to the car, that his mind was also back in that period of separation and tribulation. That period of seven years where Phoenix really was the Piano Man. The long darkness before the dawn.
But he also got the feeling that Phoenix’s mind was somewhere lost along another memory, one that Miles was only tangentially-involved in. And even only the tangential involvement made Miles feel warm and happy for those two, though he’d be damned if he’d ever admit it to anybody. Not even to their kid.
He still couldn’t keep himself from smiling as he started the car. Especially as Toby Gumshoe himself light-bladed past and thumped the trunk of the car with his fist playfully, waving behind himself as he sped off.