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Begone Dull Care

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The first impression Edgeworth got of Wright was of a young man in blue scrubs, struggling to pull an enormously large older man out of a car, and yelling “Narcan!” at the top of his lungs.

Edgeworth was lying on his side on the ambulance bed, staring into nowhere. The ambulance had only just arrived, and the EMTs who had been speaking to him gently for the past half hour were preparing to bring him into the hospital.

They opened the ambulance doors and jumped out, abandoning Edgeworth. Not that he cared.

“Narcan!” The voice yelled again, and Edgeworth finally looked up.

A car had pulled up behind his ambulance. The woman in the driver’s seat appeared to be having a nervous breakdown, and the man in scrubs was still trying to extricate the unconscious man from the back. The EMTs rushed up and helped him.

It was quiet then. The man in scrubs stopped shouting. They all settled down on the pavement. Edgeworth heard gasping.

It was past midnight. It was warm. Edgeworth heard sirens in the distance, and could see the outline of palm trees against the sky, even in the dark.

It had been a long time since he saw so clearly. The smoke from the forest fires must be receding.

One of the EMTs walked back to the ambulance. “Hey, you’re up,” he said. “Think you’re ready to talk?”

Edgeworth didn’t even give him the dignity of a glare in response. He settled back down on the gurney.

The EMT didn’t seem to take it personally. He bent Edgeworth’s arms again, and arranged them so his wrists were elevated. He pulled up the sides of the gurney, and busied himself with some other gear until the other EMT came back. They wheeled him out of the ambulance and into the ER.

Edgeworth didn’t remember much for a while after that. Only the vague feeling that the man in the scrubs had looked familiar.

The next thing he remembered, Edgeworth was lying on a bed in the hallway. He was covered by a thin sheet and an equally thin blanket. He still had his shoes on. His wrists looked the same— bandaged tight, with blood just starting to seep through the pads.

It wasn’t as claustrophobically crowded as Edgeworth might have anticipated, had he ever watched one of those mindless, sensationalist medical dramas. But an emergency room in downtown Los Angeles on a Saturday night was surely a busy place. He was an important person, with good money and good insurance, but was still left in the hallway like so much trash waiting to be taken out. He felt this was appropriate.

There were other beds in the hall. A few were empty. One was occupied by a large, smelly, snoring man. On another sat a young woman with a bandage on her head, looking despondently at her phone. There were several closed doors, and Edgeworth could hear muffled conversation through the door nearest to him.

Around the corner, where Edgeworth presumed was the main part of the emergency room, it was noisy. Even if Edgeworth could have slept, it was not a restful environment.

Edgeworth had not slept in days. But he did have moments where he seemed to “go away,” and would forget long stretches of time. He was simply elsewhere.

After another such diversion elsewhere, he was roused again. The bandages on his wrists had been changed, and a buxom young woman was crouched by his bed, fiddling with his hand.

“Oh, poo!” she muttered, flicking pink hair out of her eyes. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Edgeworth reflected that she probably should be wearing her hair back. Mostly, he felt and thought nothing.

The smelly, snoring man was still there. The young woman with the bandage on her head was gone. A door across the hall was open, and voices drifted out.

The woman with the pink hair cursed, and Edgeworth felt a prick in his hand. He involuntarily flinched.

“Don’t move!” The woman hissed. Her name tag said April May RN. She stabbed a tiny needle in the back of his hand again, as if that area hadn’t been through enough.

Edgeworth couldn’t even muster a sigh.

The young man Edgeworth had seen earlier emerged from the room across the hall, wiping something on his hands. For some reason, Edgeworth watched him. He still mostly felt and thought nothing, but a nagging familiarity stirred somewhere in him.

“You all right, April?” the young man asked.

“Stay over on your side, Trite,” Nurse May snapped.

The man ignored her, and stepped closer. “Do you need help?”

Nurse May huffed. “I can’t find a vein.”

“Well, you’ve torn up that hand pretty good. Maybe it’s time to try somewhere else.” The young man picked up the chart attached to Edgeworth’s bed. “He’s dehydrated anyway, you might not get anything coming out. Do you want me to get a bag for Mr… Edgeworth?”

The man sounded surprised. Maybe he looked at Edgeworth, but Edgeworth was staring at the ceiling now. Maybe they’d get the hint and leave him to dehydrate to death.

“I haven’t had the time. I needed to change his stupid bandages!” Suddenly Nurse May stood with a huff, hands on her hips. “If you want to deal with him, Trite, by all means. I have other patients to take care of!” She stomped off.

“April—” the man called after her, then sighed. He came over to the side at the bed, smiling gently at Edgeworth. “Hello… Edgeworth?” he said, almost questioningly.

Edgeworth felt his gaze slide over to the young man. He was wearing a white shirt under his dark blue scrubs, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His name tag said Phoenix Wright RN. He had black hair that he wore slicked back, and a ridiculous, open, hopeful face. He looked familiar, but it’s not like ridiculous, open, hopeful faces are that unique.

Edgeworth looked away.

“So you can understand me, and you’re responsive, you just don’t want to talk?”

Edgeworth sighed pointedly.

“Okay,” Nurse Wright said affably. “Well, I’m Nurse Wright, or Phoenix if you prefer. I’m going to put an IV in you, because you need fluids, and then I’m going to draw some blood for a blood test.” He started busying himself around the bed. “I know you’ve been waiting, Mr. Edgeworth, but the doctor will stitch you up as soon as he can. Sit tight.”

He went away. When he came back, Edgeworth kept his gaze firmly on the wall. Wright spoke, but gently, and only to explain what he was doing. He wiped alcohol over the other nurse’s attempts at blood work and taped on a cotton ball. Then he put an IV line near Edgeworth’s inner elbow, dripping cool fluid that chilled his whole arm pleasantly. After that, he took a few vials of blood out of Edgeworth’s un-mangled hand.

Edgeworth’s blood was stubborn and slow, and the draw took so long that it started to hurt. Just take the blood from the floor of my kitchen, he thought, but of course, said nothing.

Nurse Wright was quiet as he labelled the blood vials and taped a cotton ball on Edgeworth's hand. “Did she… did Nurse May know you were wet? Did you say anything?”

Oh.

In another life, Edgeworth would have died of mortification right on the spot. Sometime in his interminable wait, when his mind was finding refuge elsewhere, he had wet himself. He didn’t remember doing it, and there were enough unpleasant odours around that he didn’t notice the smell. But it must’ve been some time ago, because it was cold.

All of Edgeworth was cold.

“It’s okay,” said Nurse Wright. “Hold on.”

He left again. Perhaps now that Edgeworth was more aware, the hallway seemed busier. He heard sobbing from one of the closed doors. From the open treatment room Wright had come from, the young woman emerged, now positively drenched in blood, but with her head stitched. She curled up on her bed, bloody face and all. Behind her, another man in scrubs came out, and walked away at a brisk pace.

There was suddenly a loud commotion around the corner. A number of men and women in scrubs, and a few security guards, ran down the hall towards the commotion. There was a great deal of shouting, some authoritative, some threatening.

In another life, he may have been interested in what was going on. In this life, he lay in his own urine without a care.

If only Father could see you now, he thought in a voice that was partly Manfred’s, but mostly his own. The thought evoked no feelings except exhaustion.

The commotion lasted about fifteen minutes, then quieted down. It was another ten minutes before Nurse Wright returned with a small stack of sheets, towels, and blankets.

“Sorry about that,” he breezed. “Now, the easiest thing would be if you just stepped into the bathroom and cleaned yourself up, and I got you a new bed.”

Edgeworth closed his eyes.

“No? Okay, well, I can’t wheel you into the treatment room because there’s not enough space. But I know you’d want your privacy, so we’re going to improvise.” He put the stack of sheets and towels on the rack under the bed. With an office clip, he clipped one corner of a sheet to Edgeworth’s IV pole, and a corner of another sheet to the chart holder on the door near the foot of Edgeworth’s bed. He then clipped the sheets together to create a makeshift curtain, with himself pressed tight against Edgeworth’s bed.

“This is going to be uncomfortable for a while, but you’ll feel better after.”

Edgeworth had a curious out of body experience as Wright stripped his soiled blanket and sheet. The nurse gently removed Edgeworth’s shoes and stashed them under the bed. He then very gently removed Edgeworth’s slacks— expensive, bespoke trousers now ruined by urine— and his silk underwear. He cleaned Edgeworth with a warm cloth.

It was a testament to how little Edgeworth cared anymore that he just laid there and let him.

The real issue was the sheet under him. “Are you going to cooperate while I get under you?”

Obviously not.

It was a struggle to remove a sheet from underneath a stubborn man who couldn’t even bother to stay alive anymore, but Wright persisted. Soon the sheet was off, and Wright was wiping down the waterproof mattress cover around Edgeworth. When he was satisfied, he covered Edgeworth’s lower half with a paper gown, and began the whole struggle anew to get a clean sheet under him, so he wouldn’t be lying on the plastic waterproof cover.

Edgeworth did not cooperate, but he didn’t resist, either. It had been a long, long time since he’d been cosseted and cared for like this.

“Now, there is a bathroom right across the hall,” Wright said. “If you feel like you can’t get up, you can flag me down and I’ll snag you a bed pan.”

Edgeworth shifted to turn away.

“As long as you don’t talk to anyone, the doctor’s not going to let you go,” said Nurse Wright. “If you won’t get up or ask for a bed pan, I can give you a condom catheter so this doesn’t happen again. Which do you want, Edgeworth?”

Edgeworth said nothing.

“Okay,” said Nurse Wright. “Condom cath it is.”

Wright had already cleaned Edgeworth’s privates, but the idea of the nurse installing some kind of apparatus on them made Edgeworth’s mind rush elsewhere in a hurry.

When he roused again, he was snuggled under a clean sheet and a new, thicker blanket. Even his feet were tucked in. Between the IV drip and the warmth, he was starting to feel a little bit more human. Not much, but a bit.

Edgeworth could feel the condom catheter resting on him, much like the name implied. It wasn’t painful, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable. He supposed it was objectively better than wetting the bed again, but not by much.

He had shifted onto his other side when he was elsewhere, and now faced out to the hallway. Nurse Wright was with the girl with the stitches. Her face was now clean of blood, and Wright was bandaging her head and speaking softly.

When he was done, he checked on the smelly, snoring man. As he turned to leave, he noticed Edgeworth watching him. He smiled.

Edgeworth looked away.

He was next roused by the sound of insipid giggling. Nurse May was leaning against his bed and flirting with a tall, handsome man, sharply dressed under a white lab coat. The man— a doctor, if Edgeworth wasn’t being presumptuous — held a clipboard, but had eyes only for the pink-haired nurse.

Someone cleared their throat pointedly. Nurse Wright had appeared around the corner, and stood with his hands on his hips. “April, it’s time to move the guy in curtain six.”

Nurse May must have made some kind of face at Wright, because the doctor stifled a laugh, and Wright frowned. “Cammy and I can’t do it on our own, April, come on!”

May huffed. She pouted and caressed the doctor’s arm. “To be continued,” she purred, before flouncing off.

“Sure thing, kitten,” the doctor said back, watching her go with an appreciative gaze.

Nurse Wright narrowed his eyes at the doctor. “Don’t encourage her,” he said before turning away.

Edgeworth would have rolled his eyes, if he was feeling like himself. His mind felt fuzzy and numb, though as the IV drip fed him his fluids, it was becoming sharper by the minute. He was immensely resentful of this.

The man eyed Edgeworth’s chart, and then turned to smile at him, a very lazy and self-assured smile that might be considered rakish or might be considered arrogant.

“Good evening, Mr. Edgeworth,” he said, and he sounded incredibly polite and cheerful, almost like he was talking to a small child. “I’m Dr. Armando, or Diego, if you like. I’m going to suture your wounds, and we’re going to have a talk. Though I’ve been made to understand you’re not in a talking mood?”

Edgeworth fixed his gaze on the ceiling.

“I see,” said Armando, with a tone at least 80% less compassionate than Wright’s. “Well, don’t expect us to be mind readers.” He used a flashlight to look in Edgeworth’s eyes, and then listened to his heart and lungs. Then he stepped away and came back with a stool.

He sat near Edgeworth’s bed and started carefully unwrapping his right wrist. “Depending on what your blood test says, if you don’t tell me anything, I’ll have to keep you here until a bed opens up in psych. If you cooperate, though, you might be home by sunrise.”

Edgeworth looked over at his exposed wrist. The EMTs had haphazardly closed the wound with a number of butterfly bandages, but blood still seeped out.

“Not bad,” said Armando. “Certainly dramatic. But you missed your target. I’m going to go out on a limb, Mr. Edgeworth, and say you didn’t know what you were doing.”

A barb like that would usually have him recoiling in fury. Now he just sighed. Add it to the long list of failures, he thought.

“I’m giving you a local anesthetic,” Armando said. “This is going to pinch.”

It did pinch, slightly, and there were more pinches down his wrist. Edgeworth looked back up at the ceiling as the doctor worked. He felt his skin tighten, but no pain. A curious thing, not unpleasant.

“That’s a nice shirt, Mr. Edgeworth,” the doctor went on. “You know, our psych ward is full, and so are the psych rooms here in the ER. It’s no place for a man in your condition to convalesce. If you talk to me, we can probably transfer you to a private facility that will be much more your style.”

They were quiet a moment. Suddenly a SNAP startled Edgeworth, and he flinched away, staring at the doctor in bewilderment.

“Thought so,” Armando said, frowning. He had finished stitching the wound, removed his gloves, and snapped his fingers by his patient’s ear. “Mr. Edgeworth, if you can understand me, you have to give me some indication. Otherwise I’m going to have to run some other tests that you’ll find unnecessary and unpleasant.”

Edgeworth glared.

Armando glared right back.

“You’re staying in my ED until a room opens in psych,” he said after a pointed pause. “That could take days. If you speak with us, we can probably discharge you somewhere nicer. Do. You. Understand?”

Edgeworth breathed harder, felt his blood move faster. This whole fruitless effort was to avoid ever having to speak to others ever again.

Stubbornly, he screwed his eyes shut. Finally, he nodded.

“Are you capable of speaking?” the doctor demanded.

Another hesitant nod.

“I’m admitting you on a psych hold. You’ll be here at least three days. If you’re lucky, some of those days will be upstairs.”

Edgeworth turned away.

Armando sighed. “Oh, shit,” he muttered, and stood from his stool. He gently placed Edgeworth’s stitched up arm on the bed. “You stay put. If that nosy little nurse sees I lost another—”

“Dr. Armando?” Nurse Wright appeared again. “What’s wrong?”

Armando, looking on the ground, grunted. “I lost the needle,” he mumbled.

Wright pursed his lips, but knelt down to assist with searching.

Suddenly, Edgeworth was overcome with bizarre mirth over this ridiculous fucking situation. Two grown men, professionals of their field, searching for a lost needle like a grandmother over her quilting. Only the quilt had been his flesh.

He covered his face as his body was wracked with silent laughter.

“Edgeworth!” Nurse Wright cried. “Mr. Edgeworth, what’s wrong?” He pulled the patient’s hands away from his face.

“I’m… I’m laughing…!” Edgeworth choked out. Wright’s face positively melted in relief.

“I thought you were having a seizure!” he cried.

“Calm down, Trite.” Armando stood. “I found it. Here. Fetch me another.”

“Yes, doctor,” Wright mumbled, taking away the discarded needle.

Edgeworth took a few shaky breaths to calm his random, foolish mirth, as the doctor pulled his bed out from the wall and turned it.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Armando. “Laugh at the foolish doctor. Got you to talk.”

Edgeworth shut up in a hurry, all laughter leaving him cold. The doctor pushed his bed against the wall so he was facing the other way, and sat on the stool to work on his left wrist.

Wright returned with fresh tools, and hovered nearby as Armando unwrapped the wrist. The doctor finally looked up at him in annoyance. “Do you need something, Trite?”

“You said I could observe your sutures.”

“You helped with that other patient’s head laceration,” Armando grumbled.

“Oh,” said Wright. “Well, when I see Chief for lunch this week, maybe instead of telling her how you let me help with sutures, I’ll tell her how well you and April have been getting on.”

Edgeworth found himself looking up at Nurse Wright again. He found it hard not to look at Wright, in fact. That tip-of-the-tongue familiarity was maddening.

Armando grunted. “Fine. Here.”

Nurse Wright beamed, then turned that gentle, kind smile on Edgeworth. “I’m giving you the local anesthetic, Mr. Edgeworth,” he repeated the doctor’s words from earlier. “This’ll pinch a bit, but then it will feel better.”

He administered the shots, tongue poking out in studious concentration, and Edgeworth kept watching his face.

“Nurse Wright here is thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner,” Dr. Armando said in that fake, cheerful tone as he started stitching Edgeworth’s wrist. “Then he’ll be able to stitch up wounds and prescribe medicine and almost be a real doctor.”

Nurse Wright rolled his eyes, which were large and dark and hopeful, even in an emergency room in downtown Los Angeles on a Saturday night. “Then I’ll be able to take some work off Dr. Armando’s hands, so he has more time to flirt with nurses.”

“Hey!”

Insomuch as he felt anything, Edgeworth was surprised the doctor would allow such unprofessionalism. But later, he’d realize Armando had been glancing between Edgeworth and Wright, and had perhaps been encouraging it.

For now, Nurse Wright smiled brightly, watching intently as Armando stitched the wound closed. “Soon Dr. Armando is going to let me stitch a wound at his direction, which is all I’m allowed to do as an RN.”

“If you keep your mouth shut.”

“He’s dating a very good friend of mine,” Wright explained. “But don’t worry, if he was actually cheating on her, I’d tell her right away.” He winked at Edgeworth, whose throat tightened suddenly.

“Phoenix!!!” a woman wailed from around the corner. It sounded like Nurse May.

“I should go,” Wright said sadly.

“Alright, kitten,” Armando said breezily. “Next laceration is yours.”

Nurse Wright beamed at the doctor, then at Edgeworth, then he was off.

Edgeworth was stuck on kitten. He scowled.

Armando finished up with the wound. He watched Wright walk off, then caught Edgeworth’s scowl.

“A lot of hot nurses work here, Mr. Edgeworth,” he said as he packed up his tools. “Nothing wrong with looking.”

Edgeworth stubbornly turned his face to the ceiling.

Armando chuckled. “We’re both men, Mr. Edgeworth. I saw how you looked at Nurse Wright, and I know what it means.”

Edgeworth closed his eyes.

“I’m happy to see it,” the doctor went on, “because it means that when you’re not in one of your little dissociative states, you’re right here with us, and that’s a good sign. So I’m going to help you out.”

He leaned in to speak quietly, conspiratorially. “You’re in luck, because Wright plays for the same team you do. But I’d be careful, because he’s dating a lawyer, and you know how they can be. They certainly make terrible patients.”

In another life, Edgeworth would have been horrified for a number of reasons. As it was, he simply had no idea what to do with this information. It was in one ear and out the other.

Armando straightened and talked normally. “I’ll see you again when your blood test comes back. Wright will bandage your wounds. Get some rest, Mr. Edgeworth.”

He went away, and Edgeworth heard him talking to the young woman with the head wound.

Without Nurse Wright there to helplessly stare at, Edgeworth eventually drifted off elsewhere.

When Edgeworth next returned to himself, he realized he had no idea what time it was, and how long his mental diversions elsewhere had lasted. It could have been a mere hour or two that he’d been in the emergency room hallway. It could have been days.

His IV bag was at a lower level than the last time he’d noticed, but not by very much. Unless they had changed it in the meantime, he’d only been here a few hours.

The young woman with the head wound was gone, along with the smelly, snoring man. There were new patients. A middle aged man who looked like he’d started a fight and lost, sitting on his bed with his arms crossed and a scowl on his bloodied face. A teenaged girl who had apparently had too much to drink, and lolled on her bed with an IV in her arm. She had two friends crowding around her bed, talking softly, occasionally giggling nervously. And there was an old man who rocked back and forth on his bed, groaning loudly.

But the groaning was not what had roused Edgeworth.

“Give me a break, pal!” A familiar voice shouted around the corner. “I’m his friend!”

Panicked horror rushed through Edgeworth. He shot up straight in his bed, and immediately started thinking about how to remove the IV and the embarrassing condom apparatus so that he might flee. The only thing that stayed his hand was the presence of the three very young ladies, who certainly didn’t need to be exposed to his worthless manhood this evening.

Nurse Wright came around the corner at a hurried pace. “Mr. Edgeworth!” he stage whispered. “Shh, please, don’t get excited!”

“How— how did he find me?” Edgeworth gasped, his voice small and raspy.

“Your friend?” Nurse Wright gently placed a hand on his shoulder. Edgeworth realized he was trembling all over. “He was the one who called 911. He said he got some weird texts from you. He got to your place after the EMTs had taken you and he… well, he saw the whole scene you left behind.”

Of course. Even in the frazzled state he’d been in, Edgeworth must have sent some last messages tying up loose ends at work. He must have made some foolish, Freudian slip, and Gumshoe was just good enough a detective in this case to piece it together.

“He didn’t know what hospital you’d been taken to, so he’s been driving all over trying to find you.” Nurse Wright pulled another blanket from the stack he’d left under Edgeworth’s bed, and draped him in it. He rubbed Edgeworth’s back to warm him. “And… he said something about a dog?”

“No!” Edgeworth cried. “She was already dead. I mean…!” Edgeworth was choking now, and breathing hard, and tears were starting to come. How ridiculous. He hadn’t even cried when he was attacking himself with a knife. “My dog, Pess. She died some months ago. I didn’t leave her. I wouldn’t.”

“I know. You love dogs.” Nurse Wright rubbed his back for another moment. “Your friend thought you were dead. He’s beside himself.”

“I do not want to see him.”

“Okay. I’ll tell him.”

Well… that was easier than Edgeworth was anticipating. He was still sitting up in bed, clutching his knees, when Nurse Wright returned.

“Your friend wants to know if he should call your sister?” Wright looked and sounded surprised, like he had when he read Edgeworth’s name on his chart.

Edgeworth froze.

“I do not want to see her,” he finally said.

“I understand. It’s okay, we don’t want a bunch of visitors down here anyway.” The nurse stroked his back again softly. “But seeing her and letting her know you’re here are two different things, right?”

Edgeworth shivered and sniffled. Eventually he relented. “He may call her.”

Nurse Wright smiled and squeezed his shoulder.

Edgeworth lay back down and pulled the blanket over his head. It wasn’t long before Wright came back again, and gently touched his arm.

“I’m going to bandage your wrists,” he said, and Edgeworth reluctantly lowered the blanket.

What a tedious day. Back and forth, nurses and doctors, and his useless self in the middle, taking up expensive resources.

The EMTs should have let him die. Gumshoe should not have called 911.

He should not have sent those weird texts.

After the rush of horror and panic and shame subsided, he was quite happily settling back down into numbness. If they insisted on saving his life, he’d have to find a way to stay in this state of feeling nothing at all. Perhaps they’d have a drug for it.

Nurse Wright used some sort of saline solution and cotton balls to clean the remaining blood on Edgeworth’s arms, and from around the stitches.

“Dr. Armando has his days, but he does very nice sutures,” Nurse Wright said admiringly.

Edgeworth only stared at him.

“This is my favourite part,” Nurse Wright went on. “Cleaning, I mean. It’s probably the bulk of what nurses do, at least down here, but I like it.”

The man could certainly chatter, and it was annoying. But Edgeworth watched his face, and his expressive eyes, and found it kept him from slipping away elsewhere.

“I want to get my master’s and be an NP basically just so I can stitch wounds,” Nurse Wright chuckled. “Diagnosing isn’t as interesting to me. It just seems like so much detective work, and I’m not actually that interested in science. I’d just like to stitch up a wound and keep it clean so the person can heal. I could do that all day long.”

He put a thick pad against the clean, dry stitches, and started wrapping it tightly with clean gauze.

“What are you up to these days, Edgeworth?” he asked. “What do you do for work?”

Edgeworth still watched him, but said nothing, his face blank and stony. No more foolish tears or sniffles.

Nurse Wright only smiled gently. “I don’t mind placing lines, either,” he went on, ignoring that Edgeworth had ignored his question. “That was the thing I was most worried about when I started, because I didn’t see how I could do it without hurting someone. Now it’s easy. Same with taking blood. It depends on the veins, though. You were a breeze. You have beautiful veins.”

Edgeworth didn’t respond.

Nurse Wright screwed up his face. “Phoenix, you’re going to get written up,” he muttered. He finished bandaging Edgeworth’s wrist, and gathered his materials. “I’m sorry if that was weird. And I don’t mean to come off as one of those nurses who never shuts up about being a nurse. I was just hoping you’d talk again, and I didn’t know what conversation to make.”

He covered Edgeworth in the blanket again, and Edgeworth resisted snuggling down into them.

“Maybe next time I’ll try the mean nurse routine,” Wright said. “Some people respond to that. Get some rest, Mr. Edgeworth.”

When Dr. Armando next came to speak to him, Edgeworth’s mind had not even fled elsewhere.

“Ah, still with us, Mr. Edgeworth?” drawled Armando, smirking that lazy, arrogant smirk. “Got your blood test results. The EMTs said they didn’t see any pills, but you fooled them, didn’t you?”

Edgeworth closed his eyes.

“Well, unfortunately for you, but perhaps luckily for this hospital, you didn’t take enough codeine to actually do any damage. At worst, you may have hurt your liver about as much as a few nights of heavy drinking.”

Edgeworth sighed quietly. He only vaguely remembered taking the pills. He must have thought they’d make his assault upon himself easier.

“Other than that, you’re in decent shape. Blood sugar is the tiniest bit on the low side, so I’ll have something brought to you.” Armando stared down at Edgeworth. “I know you probably don’t feel like eating. Maybe you can get Wright to hand feed you.” He winked and stalked off, while Edgeworth clenched his teeth.

Soon, Nurse Wright returned with yet another buxom female nurse, this one with sleepy eyes and an abundance of long, blonde hair. Wright smiled brightly at Edgeworth as they pulled his bed from the wall and pushed it along.

“Finally got a partition free for you,” he said cheerfully. “It’s no nice, quiet room upstairs, but you’ll have a bit of privacy at least.”

It was a marked improvement, being in a small, cozy, cordoned off area. It almost felt like being in a room. Though the emergency room was still noisy, there was an illusion of privacy that was calming, and the lights were dimmer, since he had a lamp that Wright turned off.

“Aaaand,” Nurse Wright continued as the blonde nurse slipped away, leaving them alone together. “I have a surprise for you! Your friend came back with some pyjamas.” He gestured to a chair near Edgeworth’s bed, which had a paper bag presumably full of clothes.

Edgeworth was puzzled.

“I hope you’re not stuck here too long, but if you are, then a change of clothes will help a lot,” the nurse continued. “Let me know when you feel up for it and I’ll help you change with all these lines. Okay?”

Edgeworth was still frowning at the bag of clothes. Gumshoe had been concerned that he was dying, called 911, and arrived at his home to find nothing but blood. He’d driven all over town trying to find him, been barred from seeing him, and still went all the way back to fetch clean pyjamas for him? What kind of rube would bother with all that?

“In the meantime, the doctor wants you fed. We don’t get hot food down here, but I’ll see what’s in the canteen. You sit tight.”

He left Edgeworth staring at the clothes. Edgeworth huddled up under his blankets, and let himself enjoy, in a matter of speaking, the relative darkness of his little area.

He heard someone groaning, and realized the nurses were wheeling the unfortunate old man from the hallway to the area next to him. He sighed. So much for peace and quiet.

The old man was carrying on, and seemed to be in a great deal of pain. “I know, Mr. Kudo,” he heard Nurse Wright saying. “We’ll take care of you.”

He tried not to eavesdrop, but it was hard when it was right next to him. Dr. Armando carried out an exam, and the old man grumbled and shouted and complained the whole time.

“Three mikes of morphine,” Edgeworth heard Dr. Armando saying quietly. “Every four hours. Nothing else and nothing sooner.”

“Got it,” said Nurse Wright.

“I’m going to try to track down the GI surgeon and get to the bottom of this. I need a freaking coffee.” Armando grumbled.

After several minutes, the old man’s groaning quieted down. “I’ll be back at 7:00 for another dose, Mr. Kudo,” said Nurse Wright. “Let me know if you need anything before then.”

He mumbled something in response, and the curtains rustled, and Nurse Wright must have finally left for the canteen.

“Dinner time!” he said cheerfully when he came back. “I found a sandwich and a fruit cup. Your lucky night!”

Edgeworth looked at Wright, as he could not resist doing, but pointedly did not acknowledge the food.

Nurse Wright placed the food on a tray that he wheeled over Edgeworth’s bed, and raised the bed so Edgeworth was sitting upright.

“Most people in the ED don’t even get to eat, unless they have a friend bring them something.”

Edgeworth pointedly looked away. He had lost his appetite days ago, and nothing that had happened tonight brought it back.

“Alright,” sighed Nurse Wright. “Guess it’s time for the mean nurse routine.” He straightened up and frowned. “Mr. Edgeworth, I have two rules here. All my patients are clean, and all my patients follow doctor’s orders. The doctor said you have to eat, and neither you or I can do anything to change that.”

Edgeworth almost smirked. Wright’s “mean nurse” routine was entirely too soft and adorable to be effective. Maybe in a few years he thought charitably.

Nurse Wright glared at him, or at least tried to. “If you stay on this dumb little hunger strike long enough, the doctor will tell me to put in a nose tube and you’ll be force fed. I don’t like to do it, and it’ll be extremely unpleasant for you, but doctor’s orders are doctor’s orders.”

Edgeworth scowled. He already had a line feeding him fluids and another line taking his fluids away because he failed to care for himself in the most basic of manners.

This appeal to what remained of his pride worked. He grudgingly took the fruit cup off his little tray and opened it.

“Good!” He was rewarded with one of Nurse Wright’s bright smiles, which was too much to look at.

The nurse brought Edgeworth a styrofoam cup of water, and stayed with him for a while. He watched Edgeworth eat, despite the glares Edgeworth kept shooting him.

Thankfully, there was another commotion out in the main room, with lots of shouting and banging of doors and machinery beeping. Nurse Wright gave him an apologetic look, and left.

Edgeworth made a good faith effort on the sandwich and the fruit cup, but they tasted like cardboard in his mouth, and the whole business of chewing and swallowing was such a chore. He finally pushed the tray away with both items half-eaten. He considered hiding the food somewhere so they would think he’d eaten it all, but he decided Wright would be too clever to fall for that.

He sighed. His bed was still upright, so it was hard to rest, and he couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to lower it.

The commotion continued outside his curtain. It appeared to be an all-hands-on-deck situation.

Edgeworth was stuck without his phone, or anything to read, and his mind was finally not taking refuge elsewhere. He could do nothing but sit and think, which was the last thing he wanted to do, and his brain soon began to get noisy.

Edgeworth prided himself on his orderly, logical thinking, but lately things had been so spotty and confused. He’d realized he simply couldn’t remember vast sections of his teenaged years, and more and more often he’d been “checking out,” as Gumshoe called it, sometimes even in the middle of cases.

When Pess died, it all suddenly got several magnitudes worse. Edgeworth couldn’t bear it. He was losing his mind, and if he did not have his rational, logical mind, then he truly had nothing.

Whatever crisis was occupying the ER staff went on for goodness knows how long. The fuzzy noise in Edgeworth’s head grew louder.

He realized he had no idea where Nurse Wright had taken his trousers. He might not have had his belt on anyway, as he remembered putting away his jacket, waistcoat, and cravat before commencing his assault.

He had his shoes, which might still be stashed under his gurney, unless Nurse Wright had secreted them away somewhere. Shoelaces? No. Edgeworth had seen enough strangulation cases to know it was very difficult to pull off, and one had to be extremely dedicated. He wasn’t dedicated enough to find his arteries.

There must be enough drugs around here to do the trick, he thought, but immediately dismissed it. They were likely locked up, and he was surrounded by health care professionals who knew what they were doing, when he hadn’t even taken enough codeine to do any real damage. It must’ve looked like he’d gotten all his cues from Hollywood films, like a fool.

So much for an orderly, logical mind.

In any case, Edgeworth was beginning to think he didn’t actually want to go through the gruesome action of killing himself.

He just didn’t want this life.

Edgeworth was sleepily sinking into numbness again, just in time— he was dangerously close to the sluggish sort of gloom that had plagued him since early adolescence. A dissociative state sounded marvellous right about now.

But as the crisis in the ER was winding down, the unfortunate old man in the next curtain over started moaning, getting louder in volume until he was howling in pain.

“Nurse! Nurse!”

Nurse Wright was in the area immediately. “Yes, Mr. Kudo?”

“Morphine! Please!” the old man cried. “You said you’d give me more ages ago!”

“It’s barely been an hour, Mr. Kudo,” Nurse Wright said, with infinite patience. “The doctor said you could have it at 7:00, and it’s only 4:00 now.”

“You’re lying! It’s been hours! You said I could have it! It hurts so bad!”

He moaned loudly, and Edgeworth heard his bed rattle as he rocked back and forth. He certainly sounded like he was in pain. He sounded frail and desperate, and surely a soft, bright-smiled man like Wright would cave to such distress.

To Edgeworth’s surprise, Nurse Wright didn’t even sigh. “Sir, the doctor said you can have more morphine at 7:00 and you will, I promise.”

“You’re all trying to kill me! Where is that beaner doctor, anyway? Probably taking a nap instead of doing his job!”

Edgeworth’s brow raised. He might have been sullen and uncooperative with Dr. Armando, but surely slurs were uncalled for.

“Mr. Kudo, please don’t speak about Dr. Armando that way,” Wright said firmly. “He’s working with the specialists to figure out what’s wrong. Your scan didn’t show anything, and he’s running all over trying to get you help.”

“He wants me to die! You’re all trying to kill me!” The old man sounded panicked and wheezy.

There was rustling, and Edgeworth thought Nurse Wright must have been trying to hold the belligerent old man down.

“Give me that dilada stuff! The morphine doesn’t work!” the old man spat.

“The doctor gave you morphine for a reason,” Nurse Wright pleaded. “Please try to rest!”

“Don’t touch me, you homo!”

SMACK!

Edgeworth shot up straight. Had the old man slapped Wright?

“You’re probably in cahoots with that beaner! You’re trying to kill me! You like seeing me in pain!”

Edgeworth had heard enough. He clutched his gown around his lower half, took hold of his IV pole, and marched over to the curtain, which was luckily within reach of his cath line.

“Sir!” he commanded as he ripped open the curtain. Nurse Wright and the old man both gaped at him. “Please cease your tirade! It is indeed 4:00 AM. I assure you that Nurse Wright can tell time correctly. The doctor said you would have your drug again at 7:00 and not a moment sooner. You heard it, I heard it, and so did everyone else in the vicinity!”

“You—!” the old man gasped indignantly, but Edgeworth gave him his full courtroom glower that usually cowed lying witnesses.

“I understand you are having a bad night, sir, but there’s no need to take it out on this young man. He has no power to decide your treatments. And lest you accuse him of conspiracy again, I should tell you that I am a prosecutor for the county of Los Angeles, and we take false allegations very seriously.”

The old man blinked, then scrunched up his face, and turned away to hide under his blankets, muttering hatefully.

Nurse Wright stared at Edgeworth, who closed the curtain and went to sit on his bed.

“I can bring you some Tylenol,” Edgeworth heard Nurse Wright say after a moment. The old man murmured softly. He did not shake the bed anymore.

There was a few more moments of murmuring, and the old man sobbing quietly, and then going silent.

Nurse Wright came into Edgeworth’s area.

“Hey, uh, thanks,” he said. “You didn’t have to do that, though. I can take care of myself.”

Edgeworth looked away.

“Guess I owe you another one,” Nurse Wright muttered, so quietly that perhaps Edgeworth was not meant to hear.

He didn’t wish to talk anymore, but he felt a certain duty. “If he hit you, you should report it to the police.”

Wright huffed a little laugh. “Nah, I’ll save that for the big stuff. This was like a warning swipe from a cat, you know? Even if he’s not really in pain, he thinks he’s in pain, which is just as bad a place to be.”

“He shouldn’t have used that language,” Edgeworth said, and it was the last thing he wanted to say on the subject.

Wright smiled gently. “Thank you. I think he knows that. Since you’re up, want to get changed?”

Edgeworth nodded.

Nurse Wright unhooked the IV from the port in Edgeworth’s arm, and while Edgeworth shrugged out of his bloodied white shirt, Wright got a pyjama top out of the paper bag. He helped him shrug it on. Edgeworth did up the buttons, and Wright pulled something else out of the bag.

“Aww, cute doggo. Should I put these out?”

He was holding two picture frames. Pess looked out cheerfully from one. The other was likely Edgeworth and Franziska on the day she was called to the bar. Gumshoe must have taken them from his mantle.

He shook his head.

Nurse Wright fed his cath bag through one leg of his pyjama pants, and looked away while Edgeworth pulled them on. It did feel a little better to be in one’s own, clean clothes.

Wright connected his IV line. “So you’re a prosecutor now? Thought I saw something about that, but figured it was a mistake.”

Edgeworth frowned.

“Not talking to me again, huh? And I was so excited to tell Dr. Armando.”

He tidied the remains of Edgeworth’s meal. “Solid effort on eating! I was hoping for a few bites of fruit at the most. Thanks.”

He lowered Edgeworth’s bed and pulled the blankets up for him. “When was the last time you slept, Edgeworth?”

Edgeworth shrugged. He stared at the ceiling.

“I can bring you a sedative if you’d like.”

Edgeworth considered it, then shook his head. He was afraid it would make the nightmares worse.

“Oh, I thought I saw… your friend brought earplugs!” Nurse Wright fished again in the paper bag, and produced a drug store package of bright orange ear plugs.

After a moment, Edgeworth nodded. He really wanted to tell Nurse Wright that he and Gumshoe were not friends, but it looked like he would have to tell Gumshoe that first.

He took the earplugs and stuffed them in his ears. Then he settled under the covers and pulled them over his head.

Edgeworth wasn’t sure when he fell asleep. He might have dissociated first, but eventually he started dreaming. For the first time in weeks, it was not a nightmare. It was warm and he felt calm. Pess was there.

Edgeworth’s first dog Arnie died when Edgeworth was about six years old. He took Arnie’s death very hard, because he was only just starting to understand death, and he barely remembered his mother. Arnie had been there before Edgeworth was born, and sort of represented his mother, in that when he died, Edgeworth understood that his mother was dead, too.

A few weeks after Arnie passed, he had a dream that Arnie simply walked through his bedroom door and cuddled with him. It felt like Arnie was visiting him to say goodbye.

His next dog was Atticus, who was with him through his father’s death, and the upheaval of moving away to a new family. At first, Manfred directed his unpleasantness at Atticus, calling him a filthy mongrel, making him sleep outside, and finally kicking him out of his way. When Edgeworth stood up to this last cruelty, it only caused Manfred’s rage to rain down on him instead. This continued until Atticus died, but Edgeworth did not resent him for it. He deserved the poor treatment, as far as he was concerned, and Atticus did not.

He saw it as good training, because at this point, Manfred was starting to belittle and rage at Franziska. Edgeworth had foolishly thought her immune, being Manfred’s biological child, but he was mistaken. By now, it was a habit to step in and direct Manfred’s ire away from her. Loving Atticus had been practice for loving Franziska.

He’d had similar dreams when Atticus died. The dog came to visit him a few times, let the young man pet him and cry into his fur. He forgave Edgeworth for allowing Manfred to hurt him at all, and said goodbye.

(Edgeworth did not believe in ghosts, of course. He knew this was simply his mind healing after the loss of his beloved pets. The only dreams he’d had about his father were those terrible nightmares. He deduced that this was because he knew deep down that he’d done something to cause his father’s death, and he could never be forgiven.)

By and large, Pess had a better life than either Arnie or Atticus. Edgeworth had more disposable income than his parents did, and Pess had a professional dog walker who regularly took her on adventure walks to the beach and the mountains. She had the finest gourmet dog food, access to better veterinary resources, and certainly no deranged old man kicking her whenever he felt like it.

Edgeworth had not dreamed of Pess since she had died three months ago. Maybe because he understood her death was “good,” a long life well lived, passing away at home in her sleep at an age ancient for dogs. Or maybe it was because he could barely sleep at all.

In this dream, he was in his childhood home, in the small back garden, and it was warm and bright. He felt hydrated, and well fed, and his brain was not fuzzy and noisy.

The back gate opened, and Arnie and Atticus bounded through, youthful pups yapping in excitement.

“You two,” he said fondly. He knelt down to pet them both. They wagged their tails happily. “Yes, hello. I’ve missed you, too. Oh, my silly boys.”

The back gate creaked again, and Pess emerged, her tongue lolling out joyfully. Her yellow fur was so shiny she was positively glowing.

“Oh, Pess. Hello, darling,” said Edgeworth.

The other two dogs stepped away as Pess shuffled down the garden towards him. He wondered why she was still old and stately, why she had not been restored to youth like the other two had, even in his dream. Regardless, she was beautiful, and his chest hurt at the sight of her.

“Gorgeous girl. How I’ve missed you.” He was crying now, and he sat fully on the ground.

Pess walked into his arms, and nuzzled him. Her weight felt delightful. He petted and kissed her, and she looked up at him guiltily.

“Now, now,” he scolded. "You mustn’t think this had anything to do with you. You are a good dog, the best dog. It was my own stupid choice, Pess. Please do not blame yourself.”

“You shouldn’t blame yourself either, Miles,” a familiar voice said behind him.

Edgeworth turned and only saw the briefest glimpse. “Father…?”

Curtains rattled on their pole. Edgeworth snapped awake.

“Oh shit,” Nurse Wright whispered. “Were you asleep? Did I wake you?”

Edgeworth blinked and scowled. He saw an orange ear plug lying on his chest. It must have fallen out in his sleep.

Nurse Wright looked mortified. “I was trying to be quiet. I’m sorry. You really need your rest.”

Edgeworth shook his head. How was Wright to know? He looked around in confusion. There was a sealed bottle of water and a muffin wrapped in cling film on his tray.

Nurse Wright shoved his hand in his pockets. He was wearing a hoodie over his scrubs. “It’s almost noon on Sunday. You came in around midnight last night. Does that help?”

Edgeworth looked away, but he didn’t wish to be rude. He nodded.

“I wanted to let you know my shift is done. April was done a while ago, too. So Rhoda will be looking after you.” Nurse Wright shifted on his feet. “Dr. Fey will be here soon. She’s the psychiatrist. Talk to her if you won’t talk to me, okay?”

Edgeworth closed his eyes.

“Tonight’s my night off,” said Nurse Wright. “So I won’t see you. And hopefully you’ll be feeling better and on your way by my next shift, right?”

Edgeworth pulled the covers over his head.

“Bye, Edgeworth,” Nurse Wright said softly. “Take care.”