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Jumping to Conclusions

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"NOT GUILTY."

The sound of a gavel hitting wood rang throughout the courtroom as there was an eruption of cheers from the stand somewhere behind him. A flash of purple was seen and an exclamation of: "I knew you could do it, Nick!" met his ears as he basked in his victory - trying not to look overly happy about it. It was difficult to suppress his happiness though; especially since this had been such a tough trial.

The defendant, Renae Flynn, had been accused of the murder of her step-brother, Antoni De Luca. The victim had returned from "visiting his grandfather" in Italy and had apparently been involved with another woman during his trip. Suspicions arose back in the United States when his current girlfriend, Danielle Bronfield, discovered emails from the mysterious woman in Italy... and made plans to put an end to it.

Upon her boyfriend's return, she organised a "welcoming dinner" - inviting only three other people: two close friends and the defendant. The three invites were used to distract from the fact that she truly intended for only the step-sister to make it - the other two people were not actually informed of the welcoming dinner, therefore never showed up. Antoni De Luca didn't raise any suspicions.

Phoenix wondered why on earth Renae Flynn had been chosen to fulfil the act of the perpetrator in this case. His answer was brought to light upon the discovery that Danielle secretly held a grudge against her - for reasons unknown. Thus, she had turned to cowardice and framed Flynn for the murder of her boyfriend.

The weapon of choice had been an ordinary glass of white wine - carefully poisoned with a substantial enough dose of strychnine - a lethal poison that foresaw death with the onset of muscular convulsions and asphyxia. The poison, recognised as one of the most bitter substances to stain the palate, somehow wasn't properly detected by the victim, who had developed a bad cold at the time. This had been advantageous for Bronfield, who knew that her boyfriend wouldn't suspect anything until the effects took place.

Decisive evidence had pointed out that Bronfield had organised the entire murder so that traces of the poison were found inside a bottle which had been placed in Flynn's handbag.

The rest of the case had been such a mix-up that Phoenix was more than glad it was over. Relief washed over him and he leant against the defence's bench looking far more content then he had in the last four days, his charismatic grin returning.

Renae Flynn looked as if she was about to cry. She threw a thankful glance in Phoenix's direction as the spectators cheered from the stands, making the courtroom sound more like a sports arena than a house of judgement. After all the celebratory chaos —much to the now-handcuffed Danielle Bronfield's dismay— Renae approached Phoenix and looked down at the floor. The spiky-haired lawyer, who was currently being applauded enthusiastically by Maya and Pearl combined, took notice of his client and exclaimed recognition.

"Hello, Miss Flynn." he said, smiling in greeting as if he hadn't seen her earlier.

"Mr Wright! Thank you so much!" Renae said joyfully, looking up for a short instant. It wasn't long before she lowered her head to gaze at the floor again.

"You're welcome." Phoenix replied, as Maya and Pearl showered confetti over him, making him feel more like a Christmas tree instead of a defence lawyer who had just gotten an innocent client off the hook, "... Uh, is everything alright?"

The woman grasped her left wrist nervously, seeming to fiddle with the clasp of her orange wristwatch. Tendrils of curly brown hair fell over her eyes and she mumbled something that sounded like: "I won't be able to pay you just yet."

"Wh-what?" Phoenix stammered, looking as if his own birthday had been marked off the calendar for all eternity, "I thought you said you would be able to cover the fees..."

I should have known this would happen. Trust me to end up with the clients who can't pay for my services.

"I'm... I'm really sorry!" Renae chewed on her tongue anxiously, feeling ashamed. "But please understand... I only recently realised I had other debts that needed to be cleared first, so I had to make sure that was covered otherwise the repo company would t - "

Phoenix sighed. "It's alright... I'm sure we can work something out."

Hopefully before I end up homeless on the streets.

"A-are you sure? I mean, I could pay instalments, if you want. Well, of course you'd rather that than me not pay at all! I'm so sorry..." The curly-haired woman searched in her handbag frantically for a pen and threw furtive and hopeful glances towards her lawyer.

"That's perfectly fine," Phoenix agreed, nodding his head.

"Oh, thank you so much, Mr Wright! I... I'm sorry. Again. For all these complications."

"Don't worry about it. It's okay, really."

Their exchange was cut short as Renae was approached by a tall bailiff to complete the filing for her release. The uniformed man nodded seriously in professional greeting at Phoenix, before directing his attention to the mop of curls next to him and leading her away.

"I'll deposit my first instalment soon!" she promised happily over her shoulder, waving frantically with the tangled combination of flustered gratitude and rushed farewells. Double doors opened in the distance and she was gently escorted through, almost tripping with enthusiasm at her acquittal.

I get the feeling I'll be waiting a lot longer than that. Phoenix thought, remembering how many other clients had promised similar guarantees of payment, only to abandon them in the end. He glanced over at Maya, watching as she and Pearl busied themselves with making chains out of the wrappers from the sweets they had secretly consumed during the trial.

"Hey, what's all this?" he asked the pair of spirit mediums, picking up a bright green wrapper and surveying it with a sly grin on his face, "Have you two been eating the whole time?"

"N-no, Mr Nick!" Pearl answered shrilly, smiling in that way that children did whenever they were trying to hide their wrong-doings.

"Suuuure, Pearls. And I'm guessing all of these sweet wrappers belong to- OWWW!"

The sound of a sharp whip-crack, accompanied by the searing pain which now blazed across his right shoulder, alerted him to the presence of one haughty-looking Franziska von Karma.

"Phoenix Wright!" she barked, her piercing eyes glinting with anger as she readied her whip for the second time. Phoenix flinched instinctively, cowering under her glare.

What's HER problem?

He grabbed his shoulder in an effort to dull the pain, but his hand was whipped away from it almost instantly.

"OW! What gives?" he yelped, edging backwards. "If this is about losing the trial or somethi— "

"My reputation is always ruined by foolish fools such as yourself! How can you stand there feeling so foolishly proud of your foolish self when I am left like this?!!" She spat, baring her teeth for a moment and sniffing impatiently.

Pearl, who was standing nearby, puffed out her chest indignantly. The little spirit medium trudged up to the nineteen-year-old prosecutor and gave her a grumpy look. Phoenix didn't know whether he should be telling Pearls to run away, or the other way around.

"Don't speak to Mr Nick like that!" she squeaked bravely, rolling up one of her sleeves and causing Maya to shush her and lead her to the side.

"No, let me go!" she retaliated, releasing herself from her cousin's grip and moving back towards the prosecuting attorney, who had an eyebrow raised in a sceptical manner.

"Foolish child, what on earth do you think you are doing, going up against me?" she scoffed, although her voice had softened considerably.

"P-Pearls... Heh... Come on now, stop it." Phoenix laughed nervously, trying to intervene. The young girl then turned to Maya angrily, stomping her foot. Maya gulped.

"Um..."

"Mystic Maya! How can you stand there and watch while this mean lady hurts your special someone?!"

Phoenix blanched and looked away, feeling as if someone had stripped him of his clothing for all the world to see.

"What? Oh Pearly, don't start with that now..."

Franziska laughed icily, looking quite entertained. She rolled up her whip and attached it to the clasp at her hip, before tugging at her gloves to adjust them.

"Special someone?" she repeated, looking from the defence attorney to his assistant. "How foolishly foolish. Well, I suppose it is foolishly fitting for such a foolish pair of fools who foolishly bother to foolishly engage in such foolishly foolish affections of foolishness."

Phoenix blinked.

The hell?

"I suppose you have entertained me enough for the afternoon, Phoenix Wright." Franziska continued, pretending she had not just confused three people with her choice of vocabulary, "I trust that my little brother will not be so easy on you in court next time, either."

Edgeworth? Since when HAS he been easy on me in court, anyway?

"I do not want to see your face for a while, fool," she seethed, turning on her heel and walking away down the corridor with the air of someone who held great importance. "That goes for you two, as well!" she snapped at the two cousins near Phoenix, who merely blinked in surprise.

Maya waited until the prodigy was out of sight before whispering to Phoenix: "What's her problem?"

Phoenix sighed, "Heh. If I knew, I'd tell you, trust me."

"They say you should never trust a lawyer, Nick!"

"Why are you talking to me like I'm not actually a lawyer."

Maya laughed at that statement - that pleasant laugh which reminded Phoenix of the wind chimes in Kurain. It was a strange thing to relate her laugh to, but it was probably the musical, tinkling quality her voice held whenever she expressed joy like that.

"So, anyway... Nick. How about buying us all burgers for dinner!"

"That was more of a demand than a question, Maya." Phoenix scratched his neck in that characteristic fashion of his.

"Wellll..."

"You heard my client! She can't pay me till later!" Phoenix whined, feeling defeated. They made their way out of the building, Pearl holding on to Maya's hand. Phoenix rifled some of his papers as they continued their pace, wanting to make sure everything was in order.

"Can't you do that later, Nick?" Maya complained, as Pearl skipped alongside her.

"Jush wait a shecond..." Phoenix responded, his words muffled by the legal forms he held in his mouth by the corners. He sorted them out into his briefcase skilfully, using a bench as a temporary form of assistance, before straightening up again and continuing to walk as if nothing happened.

The sun was just reaching the hills in the distance. Consulting his wristwatch, he took into account that it was almost 4:00pm.

 "Why don't we just go home and cook something up there? It'll be cheaper," he asked his assistant hopefully, grinning.

Maya stopped in her tracks almost immediately and looked at Phoenix as if he had just cancelled Christmas.

"It's not fair! I cheered you on while you were stuck there in court, and this is the thanks I get? You promised me Nick! And Pearly, too!"

"Wait a minute! If I had known that this would be the price to pay just to have you both cheer me on, I would have sealed duct tape over your mouths at the beginning of the trial!" he retorted, sensing almost too soon that it was the wrong thing to say.

"NIIIICK!" Maya huffed, before Pearl intervened and held out her arms.

"Mystic Maya, I think Mr Nick just wants to treat you to a more romantic dinner at his place!"

"Wha— n-no, Pearls... That's not what I meant, I mean— "

"Huh?" Maya frowned, looking at Phoenix incredulously. "That's so stupid!" she laughed, as Phoenix quirked an eyebrow.

Tell me something I don't know.

Yet he thought that it would be nice to have dinner at home for once, laughing and talking with Maya together... Oh, and Pearls of course.

"Well, your loss. I was planning on making some of that casserole you like so much."

"Hah! As if... Everyone knows you're a terrible cook!"

"I'm pretty sure it's you who's the terrible cook, Maya. I know how to make a good meal, if I say so myself."

"Hey!"

"So, is that a yes or a no?"

Maya sighed and blankly looked up at a nearby signpost which that had the closest street name on it, pretending it was interesting. Her expression changed and she shrugged. "Fine. But only if you wash the dishes, too."

"So you want me to cook and wash up, huh?"

"Duh! That's your punishment for not buying us burg- "

Another voice interrupted their quarrel, and both spirit mediums and the lawyer looked up to see a girl with long brown hair, a pair of dark pink glasses perched above her fringe and a white lab coat pulled over her blue school uniform. Ema Skye looked every bit the science-enthusiast; her shoulder bag filled with all sorts of test tubes and spray bottles.

"Hi, Mr Wright! Hi Maya!" she called out, approaching them. "And you're... Pearl, right?" she added, looking at the young spirit medium who smiled and nodded enthusiastically.

"Hey, Ema!" Phoenix replied, smiling just as widely. "What are you doing here?"

"Eh, nothing much. I came in to see Mr Edgeworth to cheer him in court, but I only just remembered he was up against you... And I can never decide who to cheer for when you're both up against each other... Then I remembered something else! He's not even prosecuting today's trial. It's that... von Karma lady, or something? She's scary..."

She said all of this very fast.

"Well, yeah." Phoenix laughed. "You got that right." he glanced over at Maya who hadn't said anything in response to Ema's greeting yet, and was instead looking to the side with a pink-tinged face.

"Are you okay?" Ema asked her, waving a hand in front of her line of sight, causing the other to jump slightly.

"Oh! Hey...!" Maya said finally, before looking down at her sandals. Pearl gazed at her cousin curiously.

"So anyway," Phoenix said, breaking the tension. "Is Lana about, or is it just you?"

Wow, I totally did not sound a creep just then. Oh god.

Thankfully, Ema was too busy surveying Maya's expression to notice much. She tilted her head to the side, looking back at Phoenix, and smiled pleasantly.

"Lana's busy at the moment," she answered, readjusting her spectacles proudly. Phoenix was aware of how much the young science-fanatic adored her older sister, despite all the twists and turns they had endured together. She was a lot like Maya in a way, but there were still vast differences between them.

Ema shuffled where she stood and piped up again. "So... What are you three up to? Going to get an early dinner?"

Maya frowned. "Well, we were, but Mr Stuck-up here doesn't want to."

"Aw, that's mean." Ema laughed. "He's more of a... Mr I-hardly-get-paid-so-have-pity-on-me-since-I-can't-afford-to-buy-you-dinner kinda guy."

Phoenix's mouth twitched.

Wow, thanks Ema. I'm honoured.

"No, he wants to treat Mystic Maya to a nice dinner at home, that's why!" Pearl interrupted, causing Ema to look down at her in surprise.

The schoolgirl raised her eyebrows. "Really?" she asked, taking out a notepad from one of her pockets and writing something down in a hurried scrawl.

"Hey, what's that for?" Phoenix enquired in surprise, "if you're writing down relationship stuff, you've got the wrong ide— "

But Ema had already written down what she had wanted to write, and had tucked her notepad back where it came from.

She's like the Paparazzi or something.

"Wanna join us?" Phoenix blurted out, trying to distract from the idea that he only wanted to have dinner with Maya. "Pearls is joining us too, it's good to have a few friends about."

"Hehe, sure...!" Ema agreed, practically jumping on the spot. "And don't worry, I'll stop teasing you and Maya."

Pearl frowned as soon as she heard those words.


 

As they entered the apartment, Phoenix removed his suit blazer and threw it unceremoniously onto the old sofa, receiving a yell of: "How many times do I have to tell you to hang it up?" by a certain nineteen-year-old spirit medium.

"Relax, Maya. Home is where you're supposed to not care. It's at work that you have to worry about that kinda stuff."

"Nick, I'm not even gonna bother."

Pearl and Ema watched them argue from the doorway, and Pearl held up both her hands to her cheeks, looking at the pair with an adoring gaze that concerned Ema only a little.

"Mr Nick and Mystic Maya are arguing like a married couple!" she squeaked, sounding much too optimistic about the entire charade.

"Uh..." Ema sounded, feeling confused. "So, Pearl... d-do you think Maya likes Mr Wright in that way?" she asked the little girl next to her, over Phoenix and Maya's arguing.

"Of course!" Pearl responded, a little over-enthusiastically. "Can't you see the love in her eyes?" The little girl sighed. Ema looked at her as if she had watched one too many romance soap-operas.

"Well, not really," the student laughed, as Pearl ignored her.

"Maya, just leave it," Phoenix whined, as Maya made to fold the blazer and place it neatly on the arm of the couch. He grabbed her around the waist in an effort to stop her from doing so.

"What's the big deal Nick? Just let m— "

"I'd ask you the same thing!" Phoenix muttered, laughing. Their small heated argument had somehow turned into a playful fight of sorts. He ended up tackling her onto the couch, wrenching the blazer from her grasp, before quickly standing up again and sticking out his tongue mockingly.

"Hah, you lose!" he jeered, walking off to bedroom to throw the blazer on the bed.

"I'll get you back for that!" Maya shouted at his retreating figure.

"Not if you want dinner any time soon!" Phoenix retorted from the other room, silencing Maya instantly. The teenager pouted and flipped her long, ebony hair to the side, causing the violet-coloured hair beads she wore to glint in the light shining in from the afternoon sun.

Pearl sighed, making the other two girls to turn their heads and stare. "They're perfect for each other!"

Ema burst out laughing, receiving an angry glare from the little child next to her. Pearl sniffed and muttered something that curiously sounded a lot like: "You must be blind not to see that they are destined for one another!"

"Ignore her," Maya said, chuckling. All "vengeance" towards Phoenix was suddenly forgotten.

"Haha, I can't help but wonder, though." Ema spoke, looking directly at the purple-clad teenager.

"What's that?"

"Well, do you like Mr Wright?" Ema bit her tongue at these words, wondering if she shouldn't have asked. For some reason, she felt a tiny hint of jealousy brewing up inside herself. Pearl waited for the answer anxiously.

Maya thought for longer than was required, before finally saying: "I like him as a friend... But I'm not sure if I like him as- "

"Okay, so it's casserole for dinner, then?" the loud voice of the defence attorney cut through Maya's answer, as Phoenix exited the bedroom and made a beeline for the kitchen. He had removed his tie and had rolled up his sleeves in preparation for making the meal.

"Wooo!" Maya cheered, obviously pleased at the choice of food. "Chicken casserole, please!"

"Already decided." Phoenix said, "And it's beef."

"What? Awwwww!" Maya whined, slumping back down onto the couch. Phoenix couldn't help but smile at how cute she was when she did that.

"If it makes you feel better, I'll make chicken casserole tomorrow."

"It would make me feel even better if you took me out for burgers tomorrow instead!" Maya exclaimed brightly, her face lighting up with some sort of hope. Ema found it endearing and sat down next to the spirit medium on the couch as Pearl went to watch some late afternoon kid's show on television.

"Didn't I say earlier that my client couldn't afford to pay me this week? And it's not like the burgers you consume are that CHEAP."

"Ssssh, Nick. Ema's talking to me!"

"Fine."

The lawyer let them be as he started cutting up the thawed out meat on the chopping board in the kitchen.

One minute I HAVE to answer her, the next minute I have to shut up.

Yet he couldn't help but smile.

----

 

"So, Ema..." Maya started, fiddling with one of the purple beads that held a section of her hair in place, "How are you coping with school after your break in Europe?"

Ema, who had been watching the remote control on the coffee table with some interest, looked up. "It's going alright... I'm in my last year of high school now," she explained, "it took me a while to catch up. And I might be going back to Europe again after all this." She fiddled with the strap of her bag, not wanting to put it down like Phoenix suggested she should have some time ago.

"Ah, okay." Maya smiled, "Well, until then, we should hang out more!" she said, clasping her hands together and smiling. Ema took notice of how her grey eyes lit up whenever she made that gesture, as if nothing would make her happier.

"Yeah, that would be awesome!" she agreed, laughing. "I can show you all kinds of neat stuff to do with science!"

Maya blushed. "Well, I'm more of a spiritual person, myself."

"Aw, that's a shame," Ema said, but then went wide-eyed. "O-oh I'm sorry... I didn't mean to offend you or anything!" it was her turn to blush. She nervously looked down and apologised again.

"It's okay, really!" Maya reassured her, trying to keep her voice down to prevent her cousin from getting angry that she was interrupting her cartoon.

"Well, anyway." Ema continued, trying to shake the incident off. "I'm not doing anything this weekend, maybe you and I can take Pearl to the amusement park or something? I've been dying to get out there and do stuff other than homework."

At a glance, Maya was pretty sure that Ema seemed the type to be engrossed in homework without argument. But it seemed that she did yearn for things other than that.

"That's sounds great! Exactly what I had in mind, actually." Maya said happily, before adding, "And we should get burgers for lunch too, while we're at it."

Ema laughed again and leant back in her seat. Maya noticed how Ema's chestnut-coloured hair flowed down past her shoulders, and how she too also wore a top-knot of some sort.

Now people can stop saying I'm the only girl with weird hair, she thought to herself, smiling. She felt at ease around Ema, even though she hadn't known her for too long. But it had been long enough to establish a comfortable friendship. On Sunday they could have lots of fun, showing Pearly the newest rides at the amusement park and maybe Phoenix would tag along. Lost momentarily in her thoughts, she heard a man's voice call out.

"Hey, you three! Dinner's almost ready."

 "That was fast, Mr Wright!" Ema replied, kneeling on the couch the opposite way so she could peer over the back.

"I'm known for being a speedy cook," Phoenix said proudly.

"That's a lie and you know it, Nick!" Maya argued, teasing him. Pearl was still transfixed on the television, watching several colourful characters dance on the screen.

"Jeez, Maya. She's worse than you and your Steel Samurai shows," Phoenix indicated, nodding his head towards the young girl, who still hadn't taken notice.

"Oh, you like the Steel Samurai too?" Ema asked, thrilled, as she turned to the older spirit medium. "They've been making even more episodes! Did you see that new episode last night when the Evil Magistrate held him captive using that deadly, corrosive cage?"

Maya looked delighted that she had come across another fan. "Yes! And then he managed to escape by— "

Phoenix shook his head at the pair of them. Corrosive cage?! "Well, when you're ready to eat, it's on the table," he muttered, going to the small dining area and setting the place mats. Even though Maya liked to talk a lot, he really never got annoyed at her.

In fact, he found it hard to get angry towards her at all.

Maybe I've been hanging around her too long.

No, maybe it was something else. He looked up to stare at the teenagers several metres away, chatting animatedly about their favourite show, two pairs of arms waving around energetically and laughter being projected from the both of them.

Maya's hair danced about her as she moved, her white teeth glinting in the indoor light of the apartment now that Phoenix had drawn the curtains.

Why am I noticing her like this?

He was sure he didn't find her attractive in that way, maybe it was just seeing her happy that made him happy in return.

And he put those thoughts to rest, as eventually the three other people approached the table to join him for dinner - Maya having to practically wrench Pearl away from the screen in order to do so.

"Looks good!" Maya piped up, picking up her fork as Ema and Pearl did the same.

"Thanks, let's hope it tastes just as good..." Phoenix muttered. The words barely left his mouth as Maya gave a satisfied, "Mmm-mm!" after consuming a mouthful.

"I take it that it tasted good, then."

"Yeah it's great, Nick! Really delici— "

The sound of a doorbell rang and Phoenix almost dropped his eating utensils in surprise.

"Wonder who that is?" Ema asked to nobody in particular. Phoenix pushed back his chair with a small squeak and stood up, walking away from the table towards the door.

"Who is it?" he called out, hoping for a succinct response. When none came, he opened the door hastily— to end up looking none other than Miles Edgeworth in the eye.

"Huh?! Edgeworth?!"

"Wright." The initially unfazed expression remained impassive as the prosecutor nodded briefly in greeting, before handing over a document. "Franziska found this extra file left behind on your bench in the courtroom. She demanded that I return it to you because she kept reiterating that she did not want to see your face for quite a while."

Phoenix awkwardly accepted the Manila folder into his hands and flipped it open. "Damn, I forgot about this. Thanks."

Franziska didn't have to be so harsh about it though.

Edgeworth smirked and rolled his eyes insultingly. "Only one as unorganised as you could forget something so important, Wright."

Gee, thanks.

"How do I know you haven't... looked through this, anyway?" Phoenix asked daringly, throwing Edgeworth an accusing look. The prosecutor merely glared and looked down on the defence attorney as if he were a meddlesome fly.

"What kind of man do you think I am?" he asked, almost dangerously.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't mean to imply anything like that!" Phoenix said quickly, "I was just saying... You know, anyone would ask the same thing, doesn't matter who returned it. Ehehehe... "

He scratched his neck and grinned in mild hopes that it would lighten the situation.

"Hmph." Edgeworth snorted, feeling mocked.

"Hey, Nick... Who is it?" Maya called from the dining table, causing the prosecutor in the doorway to frown.

"I trust that I haven't interrupted anything?" he asked curiously, not bothering to peep over Phoenix's shoulder. The sounds of three girls giggling at the table was information enough.

"Wha? No... wait! No, they're just here for dinner!" the defence attorney exclaimed.

"And these people are...?"

"Maya, Pearls and Ema."

"I see. And here I was thinking that it was strange when you started hanging out with one teenage girl a couple of years back. Now there are more."

"Edgeworth, you're being ridiculous. We're friends. And Pearls isn't even a teenager yet."

"You do realise that you just made yourself sound even more suspicious?"

Phoenix pulled a face somewhere between an expression of frustration and bewilderment.

He KNOWS who Pearls is! She's been helping me out with investigations for ages now!

He half-wanted to slam the door in Edgeworth's face, but then again, he also wanted to invite him inside for some reason. Maybe it was because of common courtesy or something like that.

"If anyone's suspicious right now, it's you. How did you find my address?" he asked nervously, wondering whether or not the man had actually spent several hours sifting through the plethora of 'Wrights' in the phone book. He received his answer as Edgeworth blurted out one name.

"Butz."

"Oh. Wait. How?"

"Fortunately, I bumped into him when I stopped for fuel on the way back from the office." Edgeworth looked off to the side as if trying to forget some awful memory, "Well, unfortunately, more like."

Phoenix laughed. "So naturally, he just gave away my address, just like that."

"It's Larry, Wright. What more do you expect?"

"Ah. Of course. When something smells, it's usually the Butz."

Edgeworth gave Phoenix the slightest hint of a smile, which the defence attorney passed off as another one of his I'm-better-than-you smirks.

"Hm. Then again, I suppose it was fortunate after all, seeing as I would have otherwise been forced to spend the afternoon trying to track down your address using less-convenient methods."

"Such as?" Phoenix pressed on, amused. The phone book?

"Such as the phone book."

Bingo.

"Aw, I didn't know you cared that much." Phoenix said in a dramatic voice, causing Maya and Ema to giggle again. Pearl seemed either too involved with eating, or was angry that Phoenix was giving more attention to someone else other than Maya. Whatever the reason, Phoenix thought it was wise not to turn around and face them all just yet.

"I'll have you know I would much rather be dealing with more important matters right now. You can sit here and have fun at the dinner table all you want, but keep in mind that not everybody has the same amount of free time to spend according to their desire."

"You know what?"

"What, Wright."

"I think someone needs a hug."

Edgeworth's default, resigned expression faltered for exactly five seconds before Phoenix burst out laughing.

"Ahahaha! Oh man, you should have seen the look on your face!"

"Th-that is not funny."

"Well, excuse me for having a sense of humour... If you were any more emotionless, you might as well be an inanimate object!"

"Is that so. Well, l will leave you to talk to your living companions in the next room. See you in court, Wright."

In what could only be described as an elegant turn of the body, Edgeworth left Phoenix standing at the doorway without another word. Phoenix bolted after him hesitantly, grabbing him by the arm.

"Edgeworth, I'm only joking! Can't you take a joke?"

An icy glare met up with worried blue eyes as Edgeworth directed his malice at the man gripping his arm. He quickly wrenched it out of Phoenix's grip.

"According to you, I don't have a sense of humour, remember?"

"Well, now you are only proving my point."

"Hmph."

"All of that frowning is gonna give you premature wrinkles, you know."

"Not as wrinkly as your shirts, I hope."

"Hey, I iron my clothes when I have time!"

"Which seems to be never."

"You yourself said I had enough free time to spare! And wait... Why are we even talking about clothes? I wanted to tell you to stop being so stuck-up twenty-four sev— "

"NIIIICK, what the heck is taking you so long? Who are you talking to?" Maya's shrill call seemed to bounce off the corridor walls and ricochet off the stairwell as she poked her head out of the apartment to see where her friend had gone. "Mr Edgeworth, is that you? What are you doing here?" Her dark grey eyes widened curiously towards the two lawyers standing down the hall.

"Leaving." The response was curt, with a swift nod directed at Maya before Edgeworth departed down the nearby set of stairs, choosing to avoid the elevator.

"Aw, why?" Maya enquired loudly, leaning further out of Phoenix's apartment entrance and using the door frame to support herself. "We're having dinner, you should join us!"

Edgeworth was already almost halfway down the first flight of stairs when he paused in his tracks.

"I have better things to do," he mumbled coldly, loud enough for only a certain defence attorney to hear. Phoenix looked back sadly, staring at the burgundy-clad man as he returned to his descent down the stairwell, vanishing from view.