Miles Edgeworth had grown rather accustomed to first appointments. Every therapist had their own modus operandi, but it always began with the same question.
"So, Mr Edgeworth..." they would say, with a quick glance to the paper on their desk, just to check if the name they were using was right.
"...what brings you here today?"
Then they would then look at him, and some may even smile.
And he wouldn't know what to answer and stay silent for a while.
The very first appointment Miles had in his life was the only time he ever saw that therapist. Von Karma had brought him because it was apparently a regular, mandatory step in order to adopt a child.
He had found himself, a nine-year-old boy, orphaned for only two weeks, in front of an old lady who had tried to be a little too cheerful. She had smiled at him and attempted to chat with him:
"So, Miles... how are you now?"
He had just looked at her and her too bright smile and her inquisitive eyes. He may have been only a child, but the absurdity of the question had not been lost on him.
My dad is dead.
Some weird old guy wants to take me away from here.
I miss my dad.
I miss my friends.
Someone killed my dad.
I killed my dad.
I hate myself.
I don't want to go.
I want my dad.
My dad is dead and I killed him and now nothing will ever be the same.
I'm bad .
He had just shaken his head, tried to clarify his thoughts, and kept silent. He had had nothing to say to that person he didn't know, after all. It wouldn't have changed anything.
From the corner of his eyes, he’d seen her write a few things down on the paper on her desk.
"It must be really hard, but you're a very strong boy. You know, you can talk about it if..."
He had tuned her chit-chat down, lost in thoughts. That had never been what he wanted to hear. Not that he had even really known what he needed at that time. Except his dad. He needed his dad . She wrote some more things, then handed him a few papers.
"We're going to do a few games together, alright? Let's try to see if you can fill this."
It hadn’t taken a genius to see that said “games” had just been stupid tests. He knew he wasn’t crazy. He wasn't stupid. He was just
Well, at least those had been easy. He had answered the questions on the papers, filled in the blanks, found out shapes in weird ink blots, calculated a few things really fast, had to draw a little... everytime the woman in front of him had picked his answers up, he could see her eyes widen a little. She had kept attention on her watch, as if timing him, and it had annoyed him, so he’d gone even faster, answering her questions without ever looking at her, writing down answers when needed as if it had been the only thing that mattered. He had just wanted to be done.
It had taken about more than an hour for the test to finally be over. Well, at least it had occupied his mind for that time, and the lady in glasses had seemed rather pleased with herself. She’d summoned Von Karma in the office and showed him some of the papers, while whispering things and casting an occasional glance at Miles. Von Karma had only nodded, as somber as ever, but he couldn't hide the glint in the depth of his eyes.
Before they had left, the woman had given him another final too bright smile and tilted her head, speaking in that annoying voice adults used to speak to young children they were sure couldn't understand very well:
"You're a very clever boy, Miles. I'm not worried about you. You'll have a brilliant future and your guardians will take good care of you."
Even now, sometimes, he dreamt of finding a time-traveling machine, just to tell this obnoxious woman how little she had known, and how little even his nine-year-old self had noticed she had cared.
It took fifteen years, and the downfall of Von Karma, and the bringing of all his lies to the light, for him to get his second first appointment.
This time, the therapist was a man. Greying, about fifty, a knowing look.
Miles had heard the man had written a lot of books and was rather famous for his open mind, but he wasn't sure he really liked his behaviour towards his patient.
"So, Mr Edgeworth... What brings you here today?"
The first of a long series of silence answering this damned question.
He saw the man again three times, until the State vs. Skye trial. Miles was never really convinced by the way his appointments went. He was often frustrated with how little his therapist seemed to realize the efforts it took to get even only a few sentences out during a session.
Miles figured it took time, probably a lot of time, and decided to give it a chance, unwillingly letting a few more words go each session he attended. That is, until they found out about Gant's manipulation, and he realized that things were a lot worse than he thought, and that it would probably be better for everyone if he took the matter in his own hands instead of trying (and failing at) trusting a "professional" with his issues.
Clearly, Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth had to die to be born again.
It was fine then. He was still visiting courthouses, attending trials and taking notes on various judicial systems, but he had stopped practicing law and it was fine. He was teaching now, hoping to show European students how not to make the same mistakes he did. The whole campus hated him and his cold demeanour, but nobody could argue about the quality of his lessons.
And he was fine with that.
So maybe he had left his former life a bit abruptly.
So maybe he could have done things differently (...“ better ?”).
But he was content with his life from the past months, and that was more than he could say for most of the years that went before that.
It took a disastrous elevator ride to bring him to the realization that he might need a third first appointment. That time, he knew why he went there, and he had prepared what to say.
"So, Mr Edgeworth. What brings you here?"
Funny how, no matter the language, the question remained. Were all therapists the same everywhere?
For once, Miles didn't stay silent for too long. He took a deep breath, and briefly explained his trauma, his reaction, what he had come to identify as post-traumatic stress disorder after reading quite a lot on the topic, to try and understand what he had been going through.
"I see. Well, since you've identified the problems, I suggest we work on the risky behaviour, to try and fix your reactions."
Was he broken ?
"That's not exactly..."
"You told me yourself you weren't here for the details, that you didn’t want to dig in too much. I'm just trying to come up with efficient solutions for what seems to put you ill at ease. Maybe you should check with your doctor too, medicine might be necessary."
Miles bolted out of his chair.
"Let's stop here. I'm afraid this won't do."
The therapist's eyes slightly widened, but Miles's glare didn't falter.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm not a mere car you're going to fix, Sir, and I’ll be fine without medicine. Thank you for your time, but it appears this won't do."
He picked his wallet from his pocket, slammed a few bills on the table (so what if the price was wrong? He didn't even stay the whole session), then left with as much dignity as he could. The therapist was too stunned to say anything, and he never called him back.
By then, Miles had understood that not all therapists were good for him. He became picky. He went to a few more first appointments. As they went on, some therapists proved to be more competent than others, or at least more adapted to the needs he had, but he never stayed with them for more than a few months. Miles moved around a lot. He was restless. He was looking for something, although he couldn’t name it at the time.
He ended up in Germany some time later, and stayed there for two years, only interrupted by brief trips to the USA, as he was called for help by…
... friends ?
The German therapist had called them that. No matter what, Miles had a hard time picturing himself as having friends. Gumshoe, Larry, Wright… They were acquaintances. Work partners at most.
Trusted work partners, then , the German therapist had emphasized.
Miles Edgeworth was dubious. As far as he knew, he had no friends. He wasn’t sure he needed any, anyway. He had a hard enough time dealing with himself, he didn’t need to add more complex relationships to his own equation.
Miles Edgeworth, however, found that he rather liked the method of this therapist. He helped direct the session, asking questions, never digging too deep. Miles slowly got used to talking more and more about things that happened during his days there, and before he realized, he was slowly making his way through past memories.
Sometimes he felt exhausted when he got out. Remembering was taxing. He learnt to bottle the things he found back from one session to another, so that they wouldn’t invade his everyday life, but there were moments when it would need a mere sensation, a word, a sound, for him to suddenly be projected into one of his memories.
“So, Mr Edgeworth… Anything you’d like to discuss today?”
He had a hard time remembering what he told the week before, and then to remember what he’d been through the week, and every session felt like a new, blank page.
Following the advice of his therapist, he started taking notes in his journal. Just keywords, almost a code so as to be sure that no one would ever understand what it meant, were anyone to find out. It was not much, but it did trigger more things in him, more memories.
After one year and a half of therapy, Miles Edgeworth still wasn’t sure he was liking it so much. He was definitely making his way towards something, but he wasn’t exactly sure what. Finding the causes in his life that had led to the consequences of what he had become surely helped, but after months of talking and remembering and trying to forget again, he felt like he had reached a dead end.
“Maybe you’ve finally understood what you were seeking to understand, Mr Edgeworth, at least for now.”
Sure, Miles Edgeworth understood things better. He had identified, and analyzed, and managed to find relatively good coping ways for his most intense struggles.
It didn’t feel enough, though. There was something else behind it all. Something deeper. Something that still deprived him from sleep, something rooted far, far away…
“Maybe you need to deal with it from another angle, Mr Edgeworth. Maybe it’s time for you to change perspective. Get a different view.”
And thus Miles Edgeworth had thanked his therapist, paid him for the last time, before gathering his possessions and booking a flight to Los Angeles, where the prosecutor's office welcomed him with open arms.
His mind may have been quite a mess, but the legal system of this country was an even worse one.
As Miles slowly made his way to the job of Chief Prosecutor, life took over his personal turmoil. As responsibilities fell upon him, he ended up giving up on attempting new “first appointments”. He had gone a long way already. He had things to rebuild. He had to feel at ease with himself. He had a former lawyer to get back on his feet, and a system to reform, and trials to look into, to make sure that no one would ever make the same mistakes he did.
For years, he silently marveled at how well he did. Taking the elevator was not an easy task, but he could overcome it. Gunshots and earthquakes never got easier on his mind, but he knew how to deal with them. Find an isolated place, breathe in, breathe out, repeat. His body was doing marvelously well, his spirits were getting higher, and most of all, his self-confidence felt like it was finally built on something worthwhile. Getting named Chief Prosecutor only seemed to confirm this tendency.
Miles Edgeworth finally felt he could be someone to be proud of.
And then he faced Phoenix Wright in court again and it was like getting back to the place he belonged, only ten years too late. As his eyes bore into the eyes of his rival, work partner,
his dear, indispensable friend
, he couldn’t suppress the shudder that overcame him.
Where had all those years gone?
They won, of course they did, and they saved innocents. But the matter of all these suspended years he had spent in questioning remained. The feeling of wasted time and lost opportunities suddenly became overwhelming, and it only increased the amount of work Miles Edgeworth put upon himself, to make sure that no trials had been unfair.
He had lost too much time. He had too much to catch up onto .
He was proud of what he had become, but he would never be proud of what he used to be, and it became obvious that his current duty was to erase every bad thing he had done in the past.
He re-opened files that had been closed decades ago. He reviewed everything. He started sleeping less, and working more, and cancelling friendly outings with Wright even when his daughter ( would he someday manage to accept that Wright had a daughter? ) was hosting a magic show and desperately tried to make him participate. His old schedule came back rushing, it was suddenly a matter of life and death, catching up on those lost years, making everything right again. He had spent years analyzing what he had done wrong. He could do that now. He was a grown man. He would manage.
He would make it. He would save what he could save.
He would manage.
Until his body stopped managing.
The pain started simple enough. Stomach aches were never a good thing for him, but the pain was bearable. He kept on working.
The pain slightly grew. Surely he was getting tired. Just tired. Nothing a bit of sleep wouldn’t cure, if he could just rest a little. He spent more time laying down on his sofa --but still working.
The pain overtook him one night and he had to call the ER. He barely could move anymore.
Appendicitis , doctors said. Emergency operation . They were adamant.
“Do you have any idea what could have happened, had you waited a few weeks more?”
Wright was waiting beside the hospital bed, a frown on his face.
Miles didn’t even know why he was here, but he knew he didn’t care.
He’d made it alright. It was a benign operation. The doctors hadn’t made that much a fuss.
This didn’t satisfy Wright at all.
“I am being serious, Edgeworth! You can’t push your body like that. I know you value logic and analysis more than anything, but what happens to all your beautiful beliefs if your body falters? How do you hope to get through the day? What even gets you through the day when you work yourself ragged to the point of ending up in the hospital?”
At a loss for words, Miles only averted his eyes and mumbled:
“I’m doing the right thing.”
This seemed to fire Wright only more.
“You can’t be serious. You can’t . You’ve got to listen to yourself more, Edgeworth.”
“This is what I’m doing!”
“Sure, that’s why you’re in a hospital bed right now.”
“You can’t go on like this, Edgeworth. If you won’t listen to me or your colleagues--you have no idea what Gumshoe’s going through at the moment, he’s beyond himself knowing you’re in here--you need someone else to listen. You need help . We can’t give you this. You need a way to reconnect your logic with what your body can do.”
Unfortunately, the doctors shared Wright’s point of view, and before he knew it, he was sitting in front of yet another specialist.
“So, Mister Edgeworth…”
At least he had a letter from the hospital explaining the situation this time. The silence didn’t stretch for too long.
When the doctor spoke again, Miles wished he’d enjoyed the silence a bit longer.
“I see. Well, Mister Edgeworth… Considering your past attempts, and your current situation, how would you feel about some medicine to help your mind feel more attuned with your body?”
Miles winced and almost left at once. Then he remembered Wright’s face at the hospital, Wright’s words, and he straightened his back and gave a sharp, uncertain nod.
The first weeks were a nightmare. Miles had to constantly remind himself that it was for his good , but it was like everything he’d repressed as a child came back. His sleep schedule became a mess; his impulse control was terrible. He barked through the prosecutor’s office, suddenly annoyed at things, before he locked himself in his own room, panting and with a racing heart.
It couldn’t be worth it. It couldn’t . The medication had a terrible impact on his mind. It was meant to make him more functional, to prevent him from pushing too hard, to force himself to listen to his own needs more , but it just seemed like unproductive torture. Everyone avoided him. Hell, if he could, he would have avoided himself, too. But he was stuck within his mind and he didn’t feel the least more functional.
“These are the three first weeks, Mister Edgeworth. It removes inhibitions for a little while, before the medication kicks in. It’s perfectly normal.”
Surely it couldn’t be ethical. He was sacrificing his own mind for the sake of being able to work. This couldn’t be allowed. The more he took these meds, the worse he felt--he was poisoning himself.
“Give it time. Just one week more, and you’ll notice.”
He was about to give up during the third week when he realized that facing one of Gumshoe’s many mistakes didn’t irate him as much as it usually did. It only took one deep breath, and he didn’t even feel tired at the effort.
Honestly, it hadn’t even been an effort.
Just like focusing on papers didn’t give him a headache anymore, but he still could feel his stomach growling when he needed to eat, or his eyes drooping when he needed a break.
Attuned , they’d said.
Maybe that was how he felt. Except he had never learnt how to manage it all.
Which made him enter yet another therapist’s office.
“So, Mister Edgeworth…”
This time his therapist was a young woman, younger than him, and somehow it made him uneasy. His mind clearer than usual, and with the habit he’d grown at meeting new therapists by now, he tried to summarize the troubles the best he could.
“The way I see it, Mister Edgeworth, you’ve already gone a long way. You can be proud of yourself.”
Miles didn’t feel proud of himself. He felt like he had done what needed to be done.
When he told the therapist so, she just gave him a small smile.
“Yes, well, then I will tell you you can be proud of yourself, and I’ll repeat it as many times as needed. It seems like you’ve tried a few different therapies already, but your mind feels like it has to protect itself a lot from aggression that don’t exist anymore. It’s a normal reaction considering your past. How do you feel about a new approach?”
Miles shrugged. As she’d said, he’d already tried a lot. What would be yet another new approach?
“How would you feel about alternating clinical sessions like we’re having now with some hypnosis sessions, so we can try and prod at the part of your brain which feels like it still has to protect itself from past aggression's? We would be aiming at rooting you in the present. Think of it as a way to cleanly rewire things that you had to wire in a state of emergency when you were younger, and prevent you from moving on now.”
Miles made a face at the description (it sounded like
again), but ended up agreeing.
The therapist sounded sure enough, and after all, her methods didn’t sound worse than what he’d already gone through.
He'd been mistaken: this was so much worse than the other therapies he’d gone through.
"Wright. I tried to kill myself."
On the other side, he could hear the man almost dropping his phone, catching it back. He could hear the panic rising in the voice of the other man.
"What did you do? Where are you now? Why? Edgeworth, what can I do? Are you home? I can be here in fifteen minutes. Did you call an ambulance?"
Listening to the other man rambling and panicking, he realizes that alright, maybe he could have worded things differently, if only he had thought before making the call. Which he hadn't. Which didn't sound like him, really, he always thought everything carefully before acting. Just not this time.
"No, Wright. Calm down. I... I'm physically fine right now."
"Edgeworth, you just said...!"
"I just got out of an appointment with my therapist."
There was a silence.
"I'm sorry I bothered you with this. It's just..."
What could he say? I just realized? I needed to hear myself say it out loud to someone else and you were the first name to pop up on my phone?
"Wright, I'm sorry for calling you like this. I should go back to work."
"No, wait, Edgeworth!"
Forsaking any common sense, he didn't hang up.
"If you just got out, you should have a bit of free time before going back to work, right? How about we meet for a coffee? There's a nice cafe near the courthouse, let's meet there."
Forsaking even more common sense, he met with Wright at said cafe.
On the way there, the words would not leave his head. They stayed there when he saluted the attorney, when he sat down, when he ordered a simple espresso.
It was getting really noisy in his head, but the two men remained silent.
Wright was tactless, but not enough to pry when something this big was suddenly coming up. Clearly, he didn't know what to do. Miles didn't know either.
Somehow, it was harder to speak the words again when facing the attorney, rather than just blurting them out in a phone line.
"I'm sorry I called you so out of the blue. I don't know what came over me."
Wright seemed to wonder about that too, but he didn't say anything. He just looked at him, encouraging him to go on.
"Today's session was rather... eye-opening."
Wright simply nodded.
"I could gather as much. Do you want to talk about it?"
"It's not that big a..."
As he said the words, he realized that yes, actually, it was a big deal.
"Well. I mean... it is. Somehow. What I mean is... I am not good with that. My therapist says... I need to stop diminishing things."
Wright's eyes softened, but he didn't interrupt.
"As I said, and once again please forgive me for how blunt it was, I assure you it wasn't my intention, I... tried to kill myself."
Miles's eyes widened.
"How would you..."
"Well, you did leave a note, after all."
Of course, Wright would jump to conclusions. This was all a terrible mistake. Why was he even here? Why had he called that man?
Because his name was the first to pop on his phone.
Because his name always came first.
"I... did that, too. It's true. But I didn't mean... that time."
Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth had chosen death. Everybody had heard about that. Even after all those years, he still didn't regret making this choice. It had been poorly planned, poorly executed, and he was still alive, but it had been life-changing and in a way, the prosecutor that he was then had indeed died.
"That time, I had... chosen. Willingly. Consciously. And then I was gone, and you know how I came back. I'm not talking about that."
Miles averted Wright's inquiring eyes. This was getting too personal. Should he even go on? That was not a matter for Wright to know, after all. It was his own life, his own struggle.
Why should he explain?
Because he’s your friend.
Because you trust him .
"There was another time. I just... realized. When I was talking with my therapist."
He took a deep breath and Wright knew better than to press. No matter how harsh he could be in court, it happened that the attorney could also prove to be a very patient man. Especially in such a setting.
Then Miles closed his eyes and he was fourteen again, raiding the pharmacy of the Von Karma estate one night because he had woken up from a nightmare for the fifth time that week, and he still had that horrible headache that just would never go away, and he had an important test the next day, and he really couldn't afford to fail, and he just really, really needed the rest. He was fourteen again and popping the pills in his mouth one by one, tube after tube, until there were none left, and then went back to bed waiting for the effects to kick in so he could finally rest.
"So you... tried to kill yourself with overdose? But you didn't realize it?"
"No, I just... I was so tired, and my head was hurting so much. I just wanted for the pain to stop, I just wanted to feel rested for once."
Wright looked at him in disbelief.
"And... what happened? How did your body react?"
"Badly. When I finally felt myself going back to sleep, I was overcome with a huge stomach ache. I spent the night in the toilets, vomiting food, bile and blood. And probably vomiting most of the pills. I didn't manage to down any water during the night, and I couldn't eat any solid food for one week after that. I lost ten pounds in less than ten days."
And because he didn't sleep, he failed his test. He still remembered Von Karma's wrath, for days, along with the headaches, and the pain, and the food that just wouldn't stay in his stomach.
"But didn't anyone notice?"
"After three days of illness, Von Karma took me to see a doctor. I didn't say anything, except that my stomach and my head hurt. He told us that I probably had a stomach bug, or eaten something I shouldn't have and my digestive system was a bit weak. He prescribed me some kind of painkillers. I didn’t take them."
"And that was it? Nobody... nobody asked ?"
"What would they have asked for? I was just a kid complaining about a stomachache. A suicide attempt is not the first thing that comes to mind."
It was weird, the way the word rolled on his tongue.
Had he been alone, he may have repeated it a few times more.
"And that's how you... tried to kill yourself. At fourteen."
"I did. I tried to commit suicide." ( Su-i-ci-de , echoed the word in his head.)
"But you just realized it... today."
Miles simply nodded.
"I guess it makes sense. I would try to avoid the truth at all cost, pretending I was just tired, I just wanted to rest for once, and if taking pills was what it took it sounded logical to do so. But looking back, I suppose it seems rather obvious. I didn't just take pills. I took all of them . I tried to destroy my body. Purposefully."
"In a way, you did."
"I guess so. For about ten days, at least. I may have some sequels. I never really did a whole check-up. I didn't... Well, I just realized that was what I was trying to do, after all. It was twenty years ago. Still, I must have known, unconsciously, what I had tried to do to my body. I refused to get close to any kind of medicine for more than ten years after that."
Wright looked a little uncertain.
"But then, despite that, years later, you... did it again?"
"I didn't take pills. That wasn't... What happened a few years ago was more of a... social suicide. I killed a persona. It had to disappear. That prosecutor had to disappear. Not my body."
"It... didn't really feel like it."
"Yes, well. I suppose it would appear so from your side. I have to admit the execution of it was a bit... flawed. But I didn't intend to destroy myself. Not physically... not this time."
Wright merely nodded. Miles didn't know if he would ever be forgiven for that stunt, but he had learnt that Wright had come to accept it as a necessary step in his life. In a sense, Wright had come to accept a lot of things with time.
He hadn't expected Wright to break this silence. After all, everything had been said. He had finally said the word. (
He focused on the lawyer. His eyebrows were slightly furrowed, but his eyes were soft, and so was his voice when he spoke next, low but clear.
"I'm glad your fourteen year-old self didn't succeed to destroy his body."
Miles thought back of that self, the one who struggled to read books too complicated for him, who tried to surpass his guardian's expectations, who tried to reach a perfection that never existed in the first place, and he was glad he was not that self anymore.
But are you sure you're really not him anymore?
, his therapist asked during the next appointment, while he recounted this meeting.
Behind her glasses, he could see a hint of a smile in her eyes.
Digging through the past was hard, even though he had already uncovered the worst parts of it in the past years. It was like it would never end, like every appointment brought a new source of trauma, a new thing to ponder on, a new reason to feel how harsh life had been with him.
It was not only analyzing what he’d been through, like he did with his former therapist. It was going through it, again and again, and it wouldn’t leave him alone during the week.
Sometimes, after an appointment, Miles just wanted to give up and never see his therapist again. Sometimes, he would just feel like breaking things, because it was unfair.
But he couldn't just indulge himself in a sudden fit of anger. He couldn't just cry for his mother and father to come and rescue him.
He was a grown man, now, not a nine-year-old, not a fourteen-year-old, not even a twenty-four-year-old. He was thirty-five, and his life was like a firmly planted tree slowly blossoming into something that he thought he could finally enjoy.
Only the roots of the tree were spoiled, almost rotten, and the tree could not develop peacefully.
Miles was not the kind to be deeply moved. He was dignified. He was restrained. But sometimes, after a session, when he thought back to what had been said, when he wasn't engrossed enough in his work that he still had time to think of it all, he felt it. A turmoil, in his chest, something that was heavy and spinning very fast, as if it was trying to get out, but he didn't know how to let it out.
One day he felt it during the session and he talked about it to his therapist. She looked at him from behind her glasses, gave him a small nod, and again her eyes seemed to be slightly smiling.
"Yes, Mr Edgeworth. You've got emotions ."
The sentence struck him like thunder. He remained silent for a while, then tried to carefully explain that of course, he had emotions, but this was different, this wasn't like when he knew how he felt, this wasn't like when he was angry at Detective Gumshoe or proud after a well-wrapped trial. It wasn't those elaborate strings of words that immediately came to his mind when he felt something and was ready to describe it. It was just... inside him. Something that was almost painful, and wouldn't get out. Something he couldn't name.
"Have you ever noticed how, every time I ask you to tell me how you felt, you feel the urge to describe it in a precise, intellectualised way? Everything is already processed in your head. But your emotions are here, raw, and ungraspable for you. Emotions are not logic, Mr Edgeworth."
"This is ridiculous", he said later to Wright, after almost storming out of the office. Somehow, he did not really understand how or why, it had become a habit to meet the other after some of his appointments, as if he needed another therapy right after seeing the therapist. ("Not another therapy, Mr Edgeworth. Maybe you just need to see a friend", she had said when he had raised the topic once, as if encouraging him to continue.)
"Of course I have emotions. We all have emotions. I am not paying a therapist for such nonsense."
"You know, Miles..." (When had he become Miles? Somewhere along the way. He was meeting a friend, after all. It shouldn't be surprising.)
"Don't. Don't tell me she's got a point again . Please. I do know how I feel. I am perfectly in control of my emotions."
"Maybe that's the problem?"
Miles raised an eyebrow at the question.
"That you are in control. Sometimes you can't control emotions. They just... are. You have to let them be."
"And that's what drives you to try and cross a bridge on fire or adopt a daughter when you're unemployed."
"Oh please, Miles. This is not about me. Yes, I probably have lots of problems, but clearly, this one is not one of them."
"Indeed. Clearly it isn't."
"Miles. Seriously. If you're feeling it so strong, why can't you just admit it? You don't have to keep everything inside. You're going to burst."
"I'm not going to burst, Wright. It's not that strong. It's just... frustrating."
"Then just let it go! What are you feeling, now?"
Miles looked at him with a blank face.
"That was a real question, Miles. What are you feeling right now?"
"I feel like a fool talking to you about this all, as you clearly don't seem to understand. I feel rather annoyed at the way my therapist seems to treat me like a child, too. I feel..."
Wright raised a hand, interrupting him effectively.
"No, Miles. No long sentences with complicated words. I am just asking, and I'll allow you only one word to answer. What emotion do you feel right now? "
Miles frowned and opened his mouth to answer bluntly.
Miles closed his mouth, realizing he actually had no idea what to answer. He took some time to think the question through. He could feel the thing growing inside of his chest, and he desperately tried to point to it. Nothing came. His mind was blank. He was at a loss for words.
But Wright wouldn’t let go.
"That's a concept, Miles. Not an emotion."
For once, Miles allowed his frustration to show, and he threw his hands in the air.
"Since when are you a therapist ?!"
"I'm not. Trucy just made me watch Inside Out too many times when she was a kid."
"Trucy did... What the hell are you talking about, Wright?"
But Wright merely shook his head.
"I'm sure there's an emotion you can feel and recognize now."
"Yes. I feel angry. At you. And my therapist. What you are doing is ridiculous, Wright."
But instead of looking insulted, Wright suddenly was beaming.
"You speak too much again, Miles, but there, you got one. Anger. Do you feel anything else?"
You mean, except the urge to punch you?
Miles repressed his impulsive answer and tried to dig in the pit of what seemed to be anger boiling inside his chest. It was confusing. It was like something was hitting him from the inside. It was like trying to catch a butterfly only to see it fly away, every time a bit closer but always it escaped.
"Try to remember what the therapist said, Miles, and then tell me what you feel."
Everything is already processed in your head. Emotions are here, raw and hard to grasp.
The turmoil was growing inside him, and he felt himself falling into it, as if a sudden black hole had opened in his chest and was swallowing his own self. He tried to catch the feeling, but found that he could barely breathe. Suddenly he recognized them, the telltale signs of an anxiety attack, and it made no sense, because he was only angry at them, and he wanted to punch that lawyer's face really bad, and it made no sense that he would get so engulfed in the pit in the middle of his chest just because he was angry, and he tried to breathe and make sense of it all like he did when he had to struggle against an anxiety attack, and he would grasp at the straws of logic just to find his footing again...
Emotions are not logic, Mr Edgeworth.
He barely recognized his own voice, pained and choked as it sounded.
It was just a whisper, as he just gave up trying to make sense of it all, admitting that there was just no sense in it, that the pit in his chest was here to stay, that he could not catch the butterfly, that the roots of his trees had been unfairly mistreated and that everything was to be rebuilt because he didn't even know what emotions were anymore.
He heard Wright move more than he saw him, and suddenly found himself wrapped into a firm hug, a hand making his way to the back of his head, to stroke the hair and pulling it on Wright's shoulder. His vision blurred.
"That's sadness, Miles. That's another emotion, and it's not a bad one."
That night, he stayed at Wright's. In the small flat, they sat on the couch eating noodles while watching
. Miles slept in Trucy's room, turned into a guest room now that she had gone to college. While taking in all the magic props around him, somehow piled up in a rather haphazard way, Miles pondered.
He didn't really know how he should feel about it all.
That's the point, Mr Edgeworth. It's not about how you should feel. It's about how you do feel.
When she said that, during their next appointment, his therapist's eyes were smiling again. Miles started to understand what that shine in her eyes meant, and it was frustrating how easily it seemed for her to grasp things that he had never come even close to understanding.
As time went by, his therapist started giving him homework. Sometimes, he had to focus on the emotions he found in himself during a panic attack. Sometimes, he meditated. Most of all, he tried to let things go.
Miles learnt to cry. Miles learnt to scream. Miles learnt to let fear wash over him and pass on him until it was gone. It took time. Sometimes he felt ridiculous, as if he was becoming a tormented teenager again, a walking cliché of angst and excessive emotions.
But have you ever really been a teenager before, Mr Edgeworth?
"You're not ridiculous, Miles."
He met with Phoenix (when had he become Phoenix, again?) as usual. And as usual, his friend was here to listen to him, unjudging, and way too understanding.
“You told me about the roots of the tree some time ago. I think it’s just like you’re finally allowing them to get healthy and grow again, so that the top of the tree can straighten up and enjoy the sun.”
“That was terrible, Phoenix. Metaphors don’t suit you.”
“Hey! You were the one who started this one!”
Miles shrugged and shook his head.
“Forget the tree. I’m a grown man, and the past is in the past.”
Phoenix’s eyes slightly wrinkled in amusement. Miles didn’t miss it.
“What? What did I say, again?”
“Miles… Have you ever heard of Let It Go ?”
Miles’s eyes narrowed.
“Phoenix, if this is another one of your stupid…”
“Come on, let’s head home. Trucy’s room is ready, and you’re going to really love that movie she was engrossed with when she was a kid.”
Miles didn’t learn much about himself that night, but he still remained up late, frowning at all the magic props against the wall facing his bed with a stupid earworm stuck in his head.
Miles groaned and put a pillow over his head--except the music came from within.
Damn it, he thought, before realising that it wasn’t that bad actually. Phoenix had laughed along the movie. Even he had cracked a smile or two. Miles understood the appeal.
He also thought he could grow accustomed to these movie-watching nights.
Maybe he didn’t have to lock himself into an ice castle anymore.
Maybe his therapist was onto something when she said he could reclaim himself and learn to enjoy the little things.
"Phoenix? It's me."
“Miles? Is your session over already?”
“No, I… I’ve not gone yet.”
“What? You’re going to be late. What’s wrong?”
“I… Phoenix, I have a bad feeling about it. Is it even worth it? I feel like I’m stuck, stalling. We haven’t made any advancement in weeks. Maybe I should stop?”
“Miles Edgeworth, these appointments have helped you for months and you want to stop now?”
“I want to stop the meds too. I feel like I’m done, Phoenix.”
Miles could hear Phoenix’s sight through the line.
“Miles, just… try this session. Just this one more session, ok? And tell your therapist what you just told me. She will be able to tell you. Maybe you really don’t need to do it all anymore, but I’m not the one you should be telling this to, am I?”
“I don’t know, it feels like… It feels like I should tell you.”
“Then tell her too, and see where it goes from there.”
Miles disheartenedly agreed.
It didn't go well.
Miles dialed the number without even really realizing it. Before he knew, his phone was at his ear, and already his call was answered. He took a deep breath.
Nothing came out.
"...Miles? Is everything alright?"
"I'm... sorry, Phoenix. I'm so... sorry."
"...You just got out of your appointment, right?
"I… You were right, I..."
"Alright. Wait for me. I'll pick you up."
"You don't drive, and I have my car."
"Yes, well, I'll join you and you'll drive us then. Or whatever. I'm on my way already."
Miles wanted to try and argue, but Phoenix had already ended the call. He sighed and slowly made his way down the stairs to the parking. He unlocked his car, let himself fall on the driver's seat, crossed his arms on the wheel and dropped his spinning head on them.
He was still sitting in the same position when Phoenix tapped on his car’s window.
He slowly raised his head to acknowledge the presence, but didn’t turn.
“Do you mind if I put my bike in your car? Then we can talk. You’ll drive us when you’re ready.”
Miles numbly nodded and made the mistake to meet Phoenix’s eyes.
They were bright with concern, and it was more than he could take. Miles felt his whole body tense up.
The appointment had been about his relationship to people. The burden he felt he was, and the control he needed over them, and how he hated it when anyone else was in control.
Then it had moved on other topic. He should never have mentioned Phoenix.
He should never have called Phoenix.
He hated the current situation.
Clank , went the passenger’s door when Phoenix sat beside him, his eyes still filled with worry.
“Why are you here, Phoenix?”
Miles’s voice sounded cold, bitter, even to himself.
The attorney’s face looked uncertain.
“You… called me?
Miles made a face.
“I do call you. A lot. What are we doing, Phoenix?”
“I… I thought we were friends. Aren’t we?”
Suddenly, the cold left, and there it was again: the burning rage, the boiling anger, the exact same he felt when he saw the smile in the eyes of his therapist every time he mentioned “his friend Phoenix”. That anger and frustration he felt when it just seemed like everyone was understanding something he couldn’t grasp.
“What are you trying to do to me ?!”
Phoenix looked totally taken aback. Something in the back of Miles’s mind was yelling that it was unfair, that he was being unfair, but he couldn’t shake off the irrational wrath that had built up during the whole session.
“Are you trying to save me , Phoenix? Do you pity me ?”
“Miles, I don’t…”
“You’re like her. You’re doing the same thing as she does. You tell me things and mess up with my mind. It’s my battle, Phoenix. Not yours .”
He wanted to throw Phoenix out of his car, out of his life. This session was the one session too many. He shouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.
“I trusted you , Phoenix. I enjoyed these chats, these evenings. But you’re doing it again. Trying to save me.”
He tried to bat Phoenix’s hands off his shoulders, but the attorney held strong.
“Miles, look at me. I don’t know what happened during the session, but I’m not using you .”
“You’re always trying to save people. You already saved me once, you won’t do it again .”
“Miles, please! Will you listen to me?”
“Go away, Phoenix. I am done with all of these.”
Miles tried to push Phoenix out. The other man resisted again.
“I’m not leaving until you listen to me, Miles Edgeworth, for Heaven’s sake! I am not here to save you, this is your job now and it’s in your hands. The therapist is a professional you pay to help through it, and I'm merely tagging along. Trust me, I have way enough things to deal with for me to try and fix whatever thing you feel like there is to fix in your mind!”
Miles shoved. Phoenix dodged.
“You should go, then, Phoenix. You should stop answering my calls. Why do you even bother ?”
“Miles, oh my God, will you LISTEN TO ME NOW?”
Somehow, seeing Phoenix Wright suddenly lose his cool made Miles freeze, all anger evaporated into thin air.
His brain threw him back images of a weak child someone had just shouted at.
Then his mind re-attuned and he felt like a grown-up again.
It was like looking at himself from the outside, looking at his own irrational fear and anger, and shoving them away with a mind clearer than it had ever been.
But Phoenix could not read his mind, he could not realise all the thoughts and reactions that had crossed it during the short moment he'd lost his temper, and most of all, he was not done.
“For fuck’s sake, Miles Edgeworth, will you understand now ? I care for you! I care so much and I am well aware this won’t save you, and I won’t fight your own battles. These are yours, no matter how hard”
Phoenix sagged against the door and his voice cracked.
When he dropped the hands he had on Miles’s shoulders, the prosecutor thought that was it. His head was cooler now, he was about to apologize, try to mend things.
But Phoenix maintained his composure the best he could, grabbing Miles's hands, forcing him to meet his eyes.
His voice was a bit broken, but he went on.
“I care for you, Miles, and if you let me, I will support you on the way you have to walk. I won't be your therapist. I don't want to. But I want to be here. For you. Do you understand, now?”
Heat was sipping through Phoenix’s shaking hand, through Phoenix’s concerned gaze, and it warmed Miles’s frozen mind and terrified heart.
It’s alright to trust people, Mister Edgeworth , the therapist had said. It’s alright to be wary. It’s alright to be cautious. But it’s also alright to let yourself be approached. To have friends. To establish links. To let someone know you as well as you know yourself.
Somehow, at this precise moment, faced with these eyes, Miles understood indeed.
"So, Mr Edgeworth... How have you been since last time?"
Phoenix had just left him down the building after they’d gone and picked up Trucy for the holidays. After the session, they’d go and have ice cream. Then they’d argue over the plausibility of some weird series about trials Trucy had picked for them. And neither his body, nor his brain was feeling dissonant at the mere idea.
Even though he knew he wouldn’t be borrowing Trucy’s bed that night.
He'd been seeing this therapist for long enough now to trust that her smile, although professional, was a genuine one when she asked the question.
But for the first time in years, he finally let himself answer with a smile that was equally as genuine.
For the first time in years, he found himself able to answer earnestly, without even having to think twice about it, without any silence stretching between them.
"Fine. I've been fine."
As the words fell from his lips, he felt every word go through him, his body, his mind, and he knew without any doubt they were truly how he felt .