Miles Edgeworth was aware that he had wide-ranging and unpredictable interests. Language, judicial structure, tragically underappreciated thematic arcs in supposedly youth-oriented television shows, dog training strategies, sustainable tea farming methods? All had their own unique mental file drawer.
But what he really, truly loved was case precedent.
Oh, evidence was the guts of a case, but within a common law system, precedent determined which evidence would matter in the first place. If some approach had been disallowed by a previous case, knowledge of that decision could wipe out the defense's supposed ace in the hole. Conversely, proving some fact that the defense hadn't considered but could conceivably apply if viewed from the right angle? He understood why some people dreamed of going into architecture, because constructing a perfect argument on the perfect foundation of case precedent was fun.
"I have never, ever met a bigger dork than you," said Phoenix Wright with that old, damnably huge smile.
The logical connections Miles had been developing flew apart, and he gave a short, irritated sigh. "You promised not to bother me."
"You were grinning. I didn't know your muscles worked that way!" Phoenix actually hopped up on the edge of Miles' desk and sat there. Miles looked between his desk, then Phoenix, then his desk, then Phoenix, and waited for him to take the hint. Phoenix pointedly ignored him. "You were grinning while you read a case on...." Just as pointedly, Phoenix ignored Miles' outraged squawk as Phoenix flipped his legal text around to read it himself. "Tenant agreements? It's not even about a murder?"
Miles spun the book back into place and glared over the rim of his glasses. "The other involved party in the case has set up primary residency in Washington State. There are contradictory state laws that apply to what is now their shared investment property in Reseda."
Oh, Wright could shut right the hell up. He loved resolving legal contradictions. "Which means the case will inevitably go to the 9th Circuit court and they will make a decision that sets precedent for the entire western part of the country."
"About tenant agreements."
"That's what you were grinning about."
"I have never, ever met a bigger dork than you."
"That's it," Miles said, stood, and pointed at his door. "Out."
"But you promised I could use your library," Phoenix said with an expansive gesture at the bank of bookcases, then at the books he had splayed on the table between the two settees.
"We both know your eyes glaze over as soon as you try to read those, Wright."
"Not as soon as I try to read those," Phoenix corrected. His confidence wilted under Miles' level stare. "Just... when I start cross-referencing cases." Right. Because he pulled everything out of his hat in the thick of courtroom confrontations.
"Some of us actually work on a regular basis. Out."
"Fine," he relented and hopped up, although Phoenix made no other move to leave. "I actually was looking through those while you finished working on this case, because I had something else to ask you and I promised I wouldn't let it wait."
"Trucy wants you for her Trivial Pursuit team. Apparently we're doing Tuesday Game Nights and we need more people."
"Oh, and what are you going to do otherwise on Tuesday nights?" Phoenix challenged. "Sit in your apartment alone and iron your frills?"
Miles bit down before he could snap back Of course not, they're dry cleaned. "My Tuesday nights are not of your concern."
"Come on," Phoenix wheedled. "You might try to hide it, but social contact does you good. You're always happy after we go to one of her shows. I can tell. I bet I even have a picture of you smiling."
God, but he was tenacious, and even moreso when he was fighting on someone else's behalf. "So let me get this straight," Miles said with a different strategy. "You're constructing some sort of 'game night' where a team of myself and your teenage daughter would square off against... yourself, Justice, and Cykes, I presume?"
"Yeah, sounds like it."
"That hardly seems fair." Miles smiled, though not in the way Phoenix wanted from him. "Wouldn't your team need another member to have a chance?" Phoenix chuckled despite himself and Miles pointed out, "Besides, you have four people. That divides well already, and I'm busy."
"You've been busy since you were—" Phoenix caught himself, but Miles knew what he'd been about to say: since you were nine years old. "You're always busy." It was a believable enough cover if one hadn't anticipated his original argument. But Miles knew that Phoenix was going to use the behavior harshly imposed upon him by von Karma as some sort of personal failing, as if he had any right to do so, and this conversation was indeed over.
"Fine," Phoenix said glumly as Miles' stare chilled. "Enjoy your tenant agreements."
"I will. You know the way out." Miles sat and returned to his books, waiting for the sound of the closing door, but instead heard footsteps approaching. Irritated, he looked back up and saw Klavier Gavin in front of him rather than Phoenix making one last-ditch attempt to change his mind. "Gavin," he said, and schooled his voice free of any lingering annoyance. "What can I do for you? How's the Dawson case going?"
"That's what I stopped by to ask about," Klavier said with something in his eyes and voice that Miles couldn't quite place. He slipped into German for his next question, in what was a more blatant trick than he thought for treating the two of them like they had some personal connection. "Could you please authorize opening the locked Reidman case files from '21? Incident code CR-14."
This was intriguing enough that Miles went along with Klavier's ploy and answered auf Deutsch. "You've found a connection between the two cases?" Although their personalities couldn't be more different and he often found the man's behavior slicker than an oil spill, he respected Gavin's legal mind. And, he acknowledged as he forced himself into supervisor mode, the same behavior that he personally found eyeroll-worthy was good for office morale.
(Though, taking Skye's side against Gavin in that complaint two months back had filled him with more glee than he was willing to publicly admit. Workplaces needed strict propriety.)
Klavier nodded. "From what I see in the public files, yes, I think so. But there're some confidential files that need your authorization, and the really good stuff might be in there."
Miles brought up the named case and scanned it quickly. He hadn't been around at the time and wasn't familiar with it, but trusted Gavin's judgment. Ah, it was a military contract on classified but now outdated research that had led to some of the files being sealed. Fair enough. "Approved," he said, entered Klavier's employee code for access, and typed in his authorization. "Let me know if you find anything." Klavier nodded but didn't leave, and so Miles asked in English, "Is there anything else I can help you with, Prosecutor Gavin?"
After hesitating, Klavier chuckled and shook his head. "Verzeihung, Herr Prosecutor." The man needed to pick one language and stick to it. "I didn't mean to...."
"Didn't mean to what?"
"I'll need to have a little chat with Herr Forehead this afternoon, I believe," Klavier said in good spirits.
Herr who? Oh, right, his ridiculous nickname for Wright's younger associate. "I don't mind if you consult on some case aspects with your friends, so long as they're not assigned to the defense," Miles said, "but you of course realize that these new files are only authorized for your eyes."
"No worries there," Klavier promised. It looked like he was trying very hard to rein in the size of his smile. "I only want to say how fortunate he is to have me."
"All right, then," Miles said blankly. "Is that everything?"
"Ja. Thank you. I'll get back to work." Klavier bowed his head slightly and walked toward the door. As he passed the settees, his gaze snapped to the books that Phoenix had left open. He chuckled.
Wait a second. "Hold it, Prosecutor," Miles said and walked toward Klavier. "Were you listening to my personal conversation before you came in?"
"Not much," Klavier promised. "I was only waiting until the room was clear so that I didn't interrupt you. I heard you talking with Mr. Wright and...." He grinned, all slouchy twenty-something and tanned and confident and annoying. "Justice is lucky to have such a friendly person as myself paired up with him. It feels like Wright might be made of...." He frowned and considered his words. "Sterner stuff, after everything he's seen at his age."
At his age? That's my age, too. "Paired?" Miles settled on asking with a warning tone. He didn't care what his subordinates did in their personal time, but this wasn't a professional conversation to be holding.
"Forehead's my favorite defense attorney," Klavier said. "Call us what you will, friends or rivals or...." He spread his hands and shrugged. I don't like the possibilities of that 'or,' Gavin, because it feels like you're about to include me in whatever soap opera you're writing. "And everyone knows that Wright is yours."
Yes, they had indeed been heading for that speculation. "Wright is not mine," Miles said in a huff. "Yes, he's my favorite legal partner, but...."
Oh, god. 'Legal partner' had been the wrong phrasing. Gavin was grinning again.
Miles jammed his arms under each other and glowered at Klavier. If he couldn't defend, he'd attack. "And if you think your short association with Justice remotely compares to my entirely platonic and near-lifelong history with Wright, perhaps I should reconsider my assessment of your research skills. You are dismissed."
"I struck a nerve, apologies. I'll get back to work."
"I have put my life in his hands," Miles said when Klavier was almost out the door, "and... retaking the Bar... he...." What was wrong with him? He didn't need to justify himself to this man. And he was irritated with Phoenix, besides. But still, to hear that Justice and Gavin supposedly had any sort of superior relationship was ridiculous! That was all. He hated when people were wrong.
"A very tender nerve," Klavier said with that same loose smile. "Apologies again. I was clearly mistaken. I'm just an open sort of person, I suppose. If I like someone, I let them know without any doubt."
"Not that it is any business of yours, but Wright is perfectly clear on my feelings toward him."
"Ja," Klavier said with mock seriousness. "I heard."
Oof. Was there any law against blatantly fake tans? There should be. And cut your hair. Or untwirl it. And stop grinning all the time!
"You seem convinced of what you're saying," Klavier allowed. Though he sounded sincere, there was still something that Miles couldn't quite identify under his voice and smile. A certain sharp strain of amusement? "And I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong. I'm sure you could show me exactly that, ja?"
"Show you?" Miles repeated uncertainly.
"You can't make an argument without evidence." Klavier tilted his head. "So what about a little wager? Whoever can show their favorite defense attorney that they appreciate them more as a... legal partner will win."
"A wager?" This was absurd. And don't say legal partner again.
"Never mind. Just an idea," Klavier said lightly, like he had never even considered that Miles would actually go for the suggestion. "I suppose it's not the type of thing you'd want to prove. It doesn't seem very... proper, nein?"
Aha, that was the kind of amusement he'd been showing: knowing that Miles would back down and Gavin would win this argument by default. "Your proposal is unacceptable," Miles said and saw Gavin's grin form anew. The grin fell as he continued, replaced by surprise on Klavier's certainly surgically-adjusted face. (And to think, people called Miles a pretty boy. Hmph.) "At least, in its original form. We would need some neutral party to judge the outcome, and wagers typically have some prize beyond the simple satisfaction of victory. As well, there should be a specified duration or limited number of attempts. I expect my prosecutors to form their arguments more fully before they speak, Gavin. You disappoint me." If Klavier could play up his laid-back persona, well, Miles had a famous personality of his own.
"Fair enough. We'll submit judges' names for mutual agreement, give it two weeks, and what do you say to the loser buying the winner dinner?" Klavier asked.
"Agreed. Is there to be any cap on spending?"
Klavier considered it. "We're both hardly short on money, so...." He shrugged. "If you feel cash is the best way to Wright's heart, I suppose it should be left open to you."
Oho, the dismissive subtext there. "No spending cap, then," Miles said and held out his hand. "I expect a list of possible neutral judges before you leave today."
Klavier shook his hand disbelievingly, like the Miles Edgeworth in front of him might vanish into mist. "And the same from you?" he asked.
"Of course. And they can't know about this wager, naturally."
"Of course. Then I'm back to work on the Dawson case, I suppose." Klavier, bemused, actually waved as he left. "Tschau."
Miles pursed his lips as he watched Klavier close the door behind him, and strode back to his desk with purposeful steps.
Precedent and evidence was always key to winning any argument.
Considering how much more he and Phoenix had of both, this would be simple.