Yours, Mine, and Maybe Ours
"You're not being reasonable."
"I am being perfectly reasonable, Wright." Miles glowers at the man currently sprawled on his couch.
Phoenix slouches, expression falling from hopeful to sullen, and his shoulders slump as though Miles has dumped the weight of the world onto him. "It's not that big a favor to ask."
"It is an enormous favor to ask. I do not deal well with... children." Miles makes certain to keep his voice low enough that the girl currently watching the latest animated monstrosity of a movie on his entertainment system in the room next door won't be able to hear. "Just because you have decided to be a father does not mean I have made that decision, as well. And I do believe the day is 'bring your daughter to work day', not 'bring someone else's daughter to work' day."
"I'm pretty sure it's just child now. Bring your child to work day." Phoenix closes his eyes, his hands buried deeper in his jacket pockets, his head sinking into the cushions on the couch as though he were trying to meld with it. As least he's taken off the hat and his shoes, though in his jeans and well-worn hoodie he still looks... out of place in Edgeworth's house. "And fine, if you're really that determined not to do it, whatever. It's not like I can be made much more of a laughingstock than I already am."
"Phoenix..." Miles reaches out toward his old friend, though he stops himself partway through the motion, instead hugging his arm close to his side. He hates hearing that note in Phoenix's voice—that bitter, accepting, defeated note. "You've seen me attempting to deal with children. Cody Hawkins? I'll be having nightmares about trying to get a straight answer out of that boy for the rest of my life."
Miles' attempt at lightening the mood is at least partially successful, getting Phoenix to open one eye, though he still looks small and tired and out of place on Miles' couch. "That was four years ago. I'm sure you've matured to the point where you can have a conversation with someone half your size now without feeling threatened."
"As opposed to certain people who have always shared the maturity level of a child?"
"Hey, let's leave Larry out of this. He's not here to defend himself." The hint of a smile shows on Phoenix's face for the first time since he made his ridiculous request. "Really, though, I think you're making this into a much bigger deal than it would need to be, Edgeworth. Trucy's smart and a good girl. I don't think you'd have any trouble with her."
"Famous last words. Phoenix, I would be responsible for a child for a day." Phoenix's child, a girl that Miles is still getting to know in fits and starts. A girl who has, Miles suspects, been a large part of keeping Phoenix sane these last few months—of keeping Phoenix from doing anything too rash before Miles and Maya and the rest of Phoenix's support group could rally to his side. An important child. "Taking on a child, even for a short amount of time, is a rather large undertaking, and one that I don't wish to incur on top of my other responsibilities." Miles drums his fingers against his arm. "Why is it so important to you, anyway?"
"Because Trucy wants to take the day off school. All her friends are going to be doing it." Phoenix's eyes gravitate towards the room where they left the girl, as they have done frequently, and his smile becomes more honest, less tired and bitter. More like the Phoenix that Miles left behind, and a stab of guilt runs through him again, that he wasn't here when Phoenix most needed him.
"So keep her home with you." Miles spreads his hands, palm up. "Take her in to work with you, even. It's supposed to be a time for fathers to bond with their children, right?"
"Oh, yes, bonding over terrible music, sleazy customers, and borderline-illegal card games." Phoenix grimaces, closing his eyes again as he once more tries to merge with the couch. "It's bad enough I bring her there when I do; I'm not going to make a holiday of it for her."
"So both of you stay at the off... at the talent agency." So many words, so many topics that have become minefields of pain and disappointment, and Miles finds himself hugging his arm again, anger and frustration swirling together in a bitter pool. He will see things made right. He will see Phoenix back in court, no matter what it takes; he will see whoever orchestrated this misery suffer for it.
It would help if Phoenix would talk to him more, tell him more about Kristoph Gavin and about Trucy's biological father, but he finds he can only push so far before Phoenix shuts down, and he will not be a part of breaking this man who has saved him time and again.
Phoenix is fixing him once more with that slightly bitter smile. "If Trucy stays home, she's going to have to give a presentation the day after about what she learned about her parent's career and whether or not she wants to pursue it. To keep people from just giving their kids a free day off instead of actually taking them to work."
Miles shrugs. "So have her talk about you being a freelance pianist."
"And if they ask me to play at some point?"
"...Have you considered possibly taking lessons and actually learning?"
"I have been practicing, you just can't tell by listening to me. Plus Trucy's no good at lying." Phoenix looks from Miles toward the door separating them from Trucy again. "And I actually don't think it's a bad idea, you know? Letting kids see what different jobs are actually like. As long as they have someone with a career, with a calling, it's good for them to see a little bit of what the adult world's like, right? But what I have... that's not something to show off to a bunch of kids."
The noise Miles makes is partway between a growl and a whimper, though he cuts it off immediately. "It doesn't have to be like this, Wright. We can find you decent work."
"For the man who's known as a liar and a criminal? The man who forges evidence and tries to get murderers off the hook?" Phoenix shakes his head. "Trust me, I've looked. The bad thing about all that celebrity we had—people know my face now. They don't want to hire a man who'll stab them in the back."
This time the sound is definitely a growl, and Miles doesn't try to cover it up. The fickleness of the public never ceases to amaze him, though he has experienced it first hand—benefitted by it and been hurt by it, used it and had it used against him. "So come to Europe with me. I'm sure I can get you set up with the documents you need to work, and—"
"No." Phoenix shakes his head. "I've got things I need to do here. We'll be happy to visit—I think it'll be good for Trucy to see more of the world, if you don't mind us visiting—but this is our home. We're not leaving. Besides, you've been spending a lot of time here lately."
Because here is where he's needed most, at the moment, though he vows to bring Phoenix and Trucy with him next time he heads overseas. "You really want me to take her in to work with me for a day?"
"Just for one day." Phoenix sits up a bit straighter, hope flaring bright in his eyes. "Just let her follow you around. I'm sure she won't be any trouble."
"Please stop saying things like that, or I am most definitely not taking her in with me." Miles sighs. "But assuming she would be interested in coming in with me... I suppose I could arrange it."
"Thank you, Miles!" Phoenix bounces off the couch, wrapping Miles in a hug before moving to stand in the entrance to the entertainment room. "Hey, Trucy. I've got a quick question for you."
"I've got some questions for you, too, Daddy." Trucy's voice is bright and cheerful. "What's this?"
"Probably something you should put down before Uncle Edgeworth sees you playing with it. I think it's worth more than Daddy is."
Miles pushes his way up beside Wright, peering into the room, visions of catastrophe playing out in his mind's eye. Nothing is broken, though. The girl is simply placing the Steel Samurai figurine that crowns Miles' shelf of superhero shows back in its rightful place.
"Sorry, Uncle Edgeworth." Trucy looks up at him with solemn eyes. "He just looked really cool. So do a bunch of the videos he's defending."
"Yes, well..." Suppressing a smile, Miles gestures toward the shelf. "He stars in quite a few of those. I'd be happy to watch them with you and your father, if you'd like."
"Is he the same guy that Aunt Maya has on her desk in Kurain? Yours is a lot bigger, but otherwise it looks kind of similar, and she's been telling Daddy he needs to show me those series for a long time now." Trucy smiles innocently up at her father.
"That's because Maya has good taste in shows." Miles turns his smile from daughter to father, allowing some of the smugness through as he does.
"I'll watch it, provided you watch some cryptid hunting with me."
"Deal." At Phoenix's startled reaction, Edgeworth's grin widens. "We'll make it a date for this weekend, then. Before that, though... Trucy, I was wondering if you would be interested in coming in to work with me for a day. For your school project."
"Really?" Trucy's eyes widen as she turns to her father. "Can I, Daddy? Can I really go in with Uncle Edgeworth?"
"Absolutely, Trucy." Phoenix smiles indulgently down at his daughter, as though this weren't something he just spent the last five minutes arguing Miles into doing. "Provided you solemnly swear to be on your best behavior. No tricks unless people ask for them. And you listen to Uncle Edgeworth, all right?"
Trucy raises her right hand, expression and tone becoming very serious. "I solemnly swear to be absolutely good and not cause any trouble for Uncle Edgeworth."
"There's my girl." Phoenix pats Trucy on the shoulder. "We're going to go talk some more about boring adult stuff, so I'll let you finish your movie, okay?"
"Okay, Daddy." Trucy settles back down in front of the television—probably closer than she really should be, but Miles glances at Phoenix, and Phoenix doesn't say anything. Trucy is not Miles' daughter—is the daughter of the man who helped rob Phoenix of his career, though Phoenix clearly loves her dearly anyway. She is not Miles' responsibility.
Phoenix is smiling when they walk back into the living room, a smile that is almost but not quite like his old one. "Thanks for agreeing to babysit for me, Miles. It'll give me a chance to get a few other things done."
"You're welc—wait, what do you mean?" Miles narrows his eyes as he studies his friend and rival. "Wright, you didn't just... you manipulated me?"
"Maybe if I do this often enough you'll stop treating me like I'm broken and made of glass." Phoenix's smile is gentle, though, as he claps Miles on the shoulder. "I didn't lie to you, and I really appreciate it, and so will Trucy. Plus all the impressionable young minds who won't have to hear about what it's like being a card shark for a living."
Miles shakes his head. "She's going to grow up to be a very frightening young lady, isn't she?"
"Like fathers, like daughter." Phoenix throws himself back down on the couch. "Now, tell me more about what you've been doing in Europe."
Settling down next to Phoenix, Miles begins filling him in on anything that seems remotely interesting or relevant, pointedly ignoring the plural that Wright put on father.
It was probably just a slip of the tongue, anyway.
"Oh my God!" Sebastian stares at Trucy, and Edgeworth can practically hear the gears spinning in the young man's mind, coming to an absolutely wrong conclusion.
"It's not what—"
"You have a daughter?" There is a mixture of shock and what sounds frighteningly like wounded betrayal in Sebastian's voice as bends down to peer more closely at Trucy.
Trucy stares back at Sebastian with equal fascination, not seeming intimidated by the prosecutor, though one hand has latched on to the hem of Miles' jacket and doesn't seem likely to let go soon.
"I do not have a daughter." Miles crosses his arms in front of his chest, finger tapping in irritation. "And if you could refrain from yelling such an absurd hypothesis where others might hear and misconstrue, it would be appreciated."
"Oh... but..." Sebastian turns his attention back to Edgeworth, looking sheepish. "It seemed like a very logical conclusion, given the day and the fact that, well, you're here with a girl."
"She's the daughter of a friend." Sighing, Miles looks down at the child. The girl's head is down, her expression hidden, her hand tighter on Miles' jacket, and he frowns, trying to decide if he's upset her. He's not sure what he could have said that would be that upsetting, though, so he just continues on. "Said friend asked me to bring her with me for the day, and I acquiesced."
"I think it's going to be lots of fun." Trucy raises her head, beaming at Sebastian, no sign of distress in her voice or on her face. Apparently she is mitigating any shyness she might feel by clutching onto Miles' jacket, and he frowns down at the fabric crumpled in her hand. Hopefully she doesn't decide to do this all day. "I'd like to see what a lawyer does all day."
"Well, Prosecutor Edgeworth is one of the best in the business, and I'm sure you'll learn a lot from him." Sebastian kneels down so that he's more at a level with the girl, smiling at Trucy with what seems to be genuine enthusiasm. "And if there's ever anything you need, you just let Prosecutor Edgeworth or me—I'm Prosecutor Sebastian DeBeste—or anyone else here know, all right?"
"All right." Trucy nods, smiling back at Sebastian, though her expression falters as she looks up at Edgeworth. "Mr. DeBeste, are you friends with Mr. Edgeworth?"
"Ah—uh—um." Sebastian glances up at Edgeworth with an expression that is suspiciously like embarrassment. "We're collaborators—ah, I mean colleagues. And I respect Prosecutor Edgeworth a great deal."
If Sebastian's face becomes any redder he may spontaneously combust. Taking pity on the young man, Miles sighs. "Sebastian and I have worked together on some very difficult cases. He's an exemplary prosecutor and a trustworthy colleague."
Sebastian practically glows with joy at the compliments.
"Perhaps..." Edgeworth looks between the girl and Sebastian, a new idea taking root. "If you wanted, you could follow Prosecutor DeBeste about for some of the day—"
"No." Trucy stares up at him, her eyes set in stubborn determination, her mouth quivering as though she may cry. "I want to stay with you, Uncle Edgeworth. I won't be any trouble. I promise."
Edgeworth closes his eyes, resisting the urge to sigh and rub at his temples. "Prosecutor Edgeworth, Trucy. We are at the office and I am working."
"Besides..." Sebastian speaks tentatively. "I'm already rather busy today. I agreed to help commiserate lunch—"
"Right, coordinate lunch for everyone—you're coming to lunch, right, Trucy? It should be a lot of fun." Sebastian continues to smile at the girl. "There's going to be a musical performance by some of the detectives and one of the other prosecutors that I think you'll like. Have you heard of the Gav—"
"No." Recognizing the start of the name, Edgeworth cuts the young man off with ruthless determination. "We will not be attending the concert."
Sebastian straightens, clearly startled. "I suppose, if you've something else planned—"
"She's Phoenix Wright's daughter." Miles nods down at the girl, hoping Sebastian will be intelligent enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together. "And thus I am not bringing her anywhere near him, not if I can help it."
It takes a painfully long time for Sebastian to puzzle through what Miles means, his expression staying on confused bewilderment. He does finally seem to understand, though, lifting his head and one hand as he nods decisively. "Ah, because Mr. Wright was disbarred due to Prosecutor Gav—"
"Yes." Miles makes it clear that the conversation is over, not wanting to bring up Klavier Gavin and his ludicrous little band in front of Trucy. Miles still isn't entirely certain of the sequence of events himself, but he has teased out of Phoenix, after one too many drinks, that it was Trucy who brought him the forged evidence. Trucy who was used by someone—her bastard of a biological father, Klavier Gavin, Kristoph Gavin, Miles has too many suspects and not enough motive for any of them—to ruin Phoenix's life. Though Miles is certain—because Phoenix is certain—that Trucy knew nothing about what she was doing, he doesn't want to risk bringing up painful memories for the girl. What if she starts crying? What if she decides she wants to go home? No, better to protect her.
"But..." Sebastian stands with his hands twined together awkwardly, watching Miles with an expression of hesitant sympathy. "Phoenix Wright really did... you know? Right? I... wouldn't have expected you to be such close friends—"
"He didn't." Miles speaks quietly but firmly, his hand falling to rest on Trucy's head. "Phoenix Wright is a good man. I know him, and I know what he would and wouldn't do. There's something dark behind this case, but trust me. He's innocent."
"Phoenix Wright is that man, all right?" Miles finds himself having to tamp down a rage that Sebastian doesn't deserve to have targeting him. It is not Sebastian's fault that every conversation Miles has had involving Phoenix Wright for the last four weeks has included some variation on this theme, everyone eager to accept that the man who bested them did so by cheating, that Phoenix was a part of the corruption in the system rather than a painful remedy for it. "The one I talked about frequently. He is not a criminal or a liar."
Sebastian hesitates for a moment longer before inclining his head. "I'll trust the evidence and logic, like someone very important to me said to do. But I'll also keep what you say in mind."
Miles takes a deep breath, and finds himself smiling slightly at the way Sebastian straightens, head up, spine straight, clearly determined to live up to Miles' expectations even if means countering Miles himself. The boy has grown a lot in the year since his father was sent to prison. Huffing out a soft sigh, Miles looks between Trucy and Sebastian. "Well said, Prosecutor DeBeste. Perhaps we'll take our lunch with you, if that's acceptable?"
"I'd be quite honored." Sebastian's grin makes him look his age, his relief that he didn't upset Miles palpable. "I'll also make sure to forward you the schedule for the day, so you can decide if there are any events you do or really don't want to go see."
"Thank you. I appreciate it." Inclining his head to the younger prosecutor, Miles turns back towards his office. "Come, Trucy. I've quite a bit of paperwork to do—"
"Can I ask Prosecutor DeBeste something really quick?" Trucy pulls on his jacket. "Then I'll be very quiet while you work, promise."
Miles spreads his hands in a gesture for the girl to proceed, not sure why she's asking his permission.
Trucy releases his jacket, scampering over to Sebastian and tugging until Sebastian leans down so she can whisper in his ear. Even straining, Miles finds that he can't make out the words.
When Trucy has said her fill, Sebastian settles down on the ground in front of her, his eyes wide and a faint hint of tears in them. Taking Trucy's hands in his, he meets her gaze. "I will do everything I can to help. But also know that sometimes, when people have been hurt very deeply, it can be hard for them to reach out to others. To accredit others—no, accept others, ignore that other word. Okay?"
"Yeah." Trucy sighs, her shoulders slumping in dejection. "But... you'll still try to help?"
"I will still try to help. I promise."
As soon as Sebastian has said the words Trucy turns and skitters back to Miles' side, her hand once more latching on to the edge of his jacket.
Miles can feel Sebastian's eyes on his back as they finish the walk to his office, the young man's expression somewhere between stricken and accusatory.
Since he's no idea what Trucy might have said to earn that reaction, he endeavors to ignore it for the moment, focusing instead on surviving the rest of the day with the child in tow.
"—and that's how you fill out a request for forensics." Miles signs his name at the end of the document, trying not to sound or look stressed. He's only had the girl with him for ninety minutes, and she has been exemplary in her behavior, staying still in the seat he arranged for her, asking questions politely, sitting on her hands to keep from touching things after he reprimanded her only once.
"And then you put it in the envelope, and then you use the little stamper thing, right?" Trucy nods toward the ink pad and the stamp that he used on a previous requisition.
"No, you only use the stamp if something is needed urgently. Since this case doesn't go to trial for two more days, they should have ample time to complete the task." Miles finds himself wishing that schedules hadn't been rearranged so that there were no court cases today, judges, prosecutors, and those who work at the precinct being encouraged to bring their offspring in instead and attempt to coerce them into a legal profession. At least if there were a trial he could just sit the girl down somewhere, tell her to be quiet, and try to ignore that she's there. "If we stamped everything as urgent, the stamp would lose all meaning, correct?"
Trucy actually seems to think about the answer for a moment before nodding. "I think I get it. I like the red color, though. It's pretty."
The girl looks at him expectantly, then at the stamp.
Miles stares at the stamp, not sure what she wants. What would Franziska have wanted, when she was this age? Or perhaps that's not a very good comparison. Franziska was always trying to best him, to live up to her father's impossible to meet expectations.
What would a normal child want? Assuming that any child of Phoenix's—any child who has already seen death and depression, been abandoned and rescued, been used and cast aside and swept up in events far past her understanding—could be normal.
"Do you..." Miles hesitantly pulls a blank piece of paper from his desk. "Would you like to stamp some things?"
"Yes!" Trucy bounces up in her seat, her hands flying out from under her. "Though I also want to help. I can do anything you want me to. I have very neat handwriting, my teachers say, especially compared to Daddy's."
"Ah, well... if there's anything I think you can help with, I'll certainly allow you to. In the meantime..." Miles pulls all the stamps that he has from various drawers, as well as the other ink pads. "Why don't you have fun with these?"
Trucy settles down on the ground in front of his desk, studying the tools he's given her and the blank white sheet of paper.
"Please try not to get ink on the floor, all right?"
Trucy nods, biting down on her bottom lip. "I'll be very careful."
Returning to his paperwork, Miles continues to keep an eye on the child as she carefully presses stamps to the page, forming some kind of pattern that he doesn't understand. Or he assumes it's a pattern. Perhaps children just like filling blank space.
"Prosecutor Edgeworth." Trucy's voice is small and quiet, her head tucked down. "Do you have any colored pencils or colored pens I could use?"
"I'm afraid I don't."
"Oh. That's okay." Trucy sighs. "I'll just do what I can with this."
Turning one of the stamps at an angle, the girl makes a bright red slash across the paper. She very carefully keeps from getting any ink on the floor, setting the stamp back on the ink pad when she's satisfied with her line.
Miles' finds himself trying to watch the girl as well as do his work, and not succeeding very well at either. He's made four typos and is still utterly confused as to what the girl may be attempting to draw when someone knocks on his office door a handful of minutes later, and Miles has never been happier to be interrupted in his life.
"Mr. Edgeworth, I have—" Gumshoe pushes open the office door and steps inside, freezing immediately as he sees Trucy lying belly-down on the floor, her artwork in front of her. "Why hello there! I'm Detective Gumshoe. Is Mr. Edgeworth helping your mama or papa?"
Well, at least someone is intelligent enough to know that Trucy doesn't belong to Miles. Though when Gumshoe is winning the award for most observant, there is likely a problem. "Detective Gumshoe, this is Trucy Wright. Trucy, this is Detective Dick Gumshoe."
"Phoenix Wright's kid, huh?" Gumshoe settles down on his knees on the ground, grinning at Trucy. "I heard he adopted a kid. Your dad's a pretty cool guy."
"He is." Trucy beams at the detective, sitting up and very carefully setting aside her stamps. "I'm glad that you know him."
"We go back a couple years. I kept meanin' to drop by, see how he was doing, but haven't quite gotten the time yet."
"Daddy's doing all right." Trucy bites her lip again, voice dropping to a lower tone, as though she's sharing secrets. "He's not sad quite as often as he was before, though he still drinks way more than he should. If you're his friend, it would be really nice if you stopped in and saw us."
"I'll have to do that, because we're definitely pals." Gumshoe sticks out a hand. "Just like I'd like us to be pals."
Trucy places her hand in his, her fingers looking delicate and far too breakable against the detective's. "Pals!"
"Let me give this to Mr. Edgeworth." Gumshoe holds up a thick file. "Then, if you don't mind, I'd like to see your drawing there."
"Sure." Trucy's grin is small but incredibly bright, her whole demeanor changed from the quiet, submissive girl she had been before the detective entered.
Miles accepts the file from the detective, flipping through to make sure everything he requested is present. "Thank you, Detective. For the delivery and for your deft handling of the situation."
"Deft handling?" Gumshoe blinks, then glances down at Trucy. "Aw, that's nothing. I've got experience with little kids."
Given the detective's experience with Kay when she was younger and with Pearl Fey during more recent cases, Miles supposes that's true. "Do you have anything pressing you need to do, Detective?"
"Right now?" Gumshoe scratches at his head. "Not really. Thing've been a little slow today. Why? Somethin' you need?"
"Yes. If you don't mind, Detective, I'd like you to take Trucy and go find some colored pencils. Or crayons. Or whatever other drawing implements she needs." Edgeworth gestures down toward the ink-spattered paper on the ground. "When she's satisfied, bring her back. I may have more tasks for you at that point."
"Well, if you're sure—"
"I am very sure, Detective. Please."
Trucy doesn't argue, taking Detective Gumshoe's hand and following him out the door without protest.
Miles settles back in his seat with a sigh, hoping he will be able to use this time to actually complete some of his work.
There is a blessed hour of silence, during which Miles finishes a frightening amount of work. What is he supposed to do when he has nothing else to focus on other than the child? He supposes he can take her on a tour of the courthouse and the precinct—both are scheduled events on the list Sebastian sent him, but Miles thinks it would probably be best if he led the tour for Trucy. That way there's less likelihood of someone bringing up something painful for the girl, and he can try to avoid the areas where Phoenix and Gavin fought.
At least he'll have lunch to entertain her with in a half hour or so. The Gavinners concert isn't supposed to start until after everyone has eaten, and Miles supposes it will be good to show the girl how large and involved the legal system is. How many people have to work together in an attempt to see justice done. How many different potential careers there are. The fact that there will be other children at the lunch is both a blessing and a curse—it will give Trucy people her own age to talk to, but it will also mean Miles will have to deal with more children for a half hour.
The door to the office is flung open, and a small black tornado charges through, a gun held in both hands. Competently held, but Miles still lunges to his feet in horror at the sight of Phoenix's child holding a lethal weapon.
"Stay right where you are with your hands up, pal!" Trucy's expression, sharp and determined as she glowers at Edgeworth, shifts to a bright grin as Gumshoe fills the doorway behind her. "How was that, Detective?"
"That was great, Trucy!" Gumshoe beams down at the child, both hands raised in thumb's up positions. "Perfect form, and just the right amount of force in the command..."
Gumshoe trails off, head steadily lowering and a sheepish expression taking over as he studies Edgeworth.
"Detective." Edgeworth's voice is quiet and icy. "Would that be your service revolver in the girl's hand?"
"Yes, sir, Mr. Edgeworth, sir." Gumshoe's right hand rises, rubbing at the back of his neck. "The safety's on and there aren't any bullets in the chamber, sir..."
"You gave a child a weapon."
"I asked if I could see it, Mr. Edgeworth." Trucy takes Gumshoe's hand, staring up at Edgeworth, chin lifted in defiance. "I thought it was really cool. So if you're going to be mad at someone, be mad at me."
"And I was really careful. I promise. Mr. Wright and I've already had the conversation about not letting children play with loaded weapons when I was helping watch little Pearl." Gumshoe sighs, looking even more dejected. "Still not a good idea though, huh, Mr. Edgeworth?"
"Detective..." Miles resists the urge to bury his face in his hands. Why did he let Wright talk him into this? "Please reclaim your weapon and make yourself presentable for work."
"Yes, sir." Gumshoe holds out a hand, and Trucy passes the gun to him, the revolver somehow seeming to shrink as it passes from girl to detective. Ruffling Trucy's hair, Gumshoe smiles at the girl. "You did do really well. We'll just have to ask your daddy before we do any more practicing, okay?"
"Okay." Trucy nods and smiles before turning back to Edgeworth, her shoulders slumping. "I am really sorry, Mr. Edgeworth. I didn't mean to cause trouble. I just thought... maybe you would think it was funny."
"Weapons are never funny, Trucy. Especially not guns." Edgeworth straightens to his full height, staring down at the girl with a frown. "They're used to hurt people. To end lives."
They have factored into too many of Edgeworth's nightmares for him to ever be really comfortable with them, but that isn't Trucy's fault. He just wants the girl to understand that it's not safe.
"I'm sorry." Trucy's voice is teary, and her eyes are fixed on the floor, her shoulders hunched. "I thought... Daddy said that the police use weapons to keep us safe, so I thought it would be okay. I'm sorry. I didn't want to make you upset."
And Miles suddenly remembers being ten years old, standing in front of a silver-haired man, apologizing for whatever latest failing Von Karma was icily angry with him about. It is not a pleasant memory, and Trucy's body language reminds him far too much of what his own must have looked like.
Moving around his desk, Miles goes down on one knee in front of the child, using a finger to lift her chin so that they're eye to eye. "I'm not angry at you, Trucy. I was just concerned. You're very important to your father, and I don't want anything to happen to you while I'm watching you."
"Because my daddy's important to you. I know." Trucy smiles, but the expression is somehow incredibly sad. "I'll make sure to stay out of trouble. Promise."
"Good." Miles levers himself back to his feet, watching the girl, not certain what to make of her responses. "Are you getting hungry, Trucy?"
"I'm always hungry." Trucy pipes back the response with a more genuine smile, lifting her head from where she's carefully coordinating her colored pencils by her inks. "Daddy says I'm not as bad as Mystic Maya, but that children sure do eat an incredible amount for their body size."
"I suspect he's right. Lunch will be served soon, though, so if you'd like—and you're welcome to join us, Detective."
Gumshoe pauses in his retreat to the door, looking back at Edgeworth in evident surprise. "Me, sir?"
"Unless there is currently another invisible detective in the room who would like to accompany us, yes, I was speaking to you, Detective Gumshoe."
"Sure! I mean, yes, sir, I'd be honored to accompany the two of you."
Gumshoe holds out his hand to Trucy, and the girl accepts it, allowing the detective to haul her up easily. Gumshoe spins the girl in a tight circle, careful not to allow her to hit anything, and then sets her daintily on her feet.
The child is giggling as she skips along at Gumshoe's side, but it's Edgeworth she watches, her eyes never straying far from him, as though he is a puzzle that she is trying to solve.
"—and that's a rather brief synopsis of how Prosecutor Edgeworth and I became acquaintances... and, I like to think, friends." Judge Courtney folds her hands in her lap.
"That is an awesome story." Trucy turns from Justine to Edgeworth, her eyes bright and wide. "You didn't explain how exciting it is being a prosecutor, Mr. Edgeworth! Just about boring paperwork."
"Usually it isn't that exciting. And I tend to prefer the more mundane days." Edgeworth takes a sip of water. "They result in more sleep and far less stress."
"Mundane being a relative term for a man who pursues evil and corruption with a tenacity that would put a pit bull to shame." Justine arches an eyebrow as she takes a dainty bite from her roll.
"That is our job, Judge Courtney. I hardly think I'm alone in either my endeavors or my forcefulness." Miles pours more water into Trucy's glass. "I wouldn't be nearly as effective if I didn't have the good detective here to assist me in investigations or trustworthy judges to try my cases."
Trucy nods, expression solemn. "It takes a lot of people working together really hard to make sure that justice actually is served. But as long as everyone does their job well, doesn't lie or cheat, the truth should win out. Eventually. Even if it takes a long time and a lot of drinks. That's what Daddy says, at least."
Miles fights to keep his smile in place at the bitter turn the saying takes, wishing for a moment that he had a drink of his own. Or that Justine wasn't quite so sharp, her eyes flitting from Trucy to Miles, speculation already starting to build in her expression. "Anyway, we—"
"Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!" Trucy jumps to her feet, which results in very little increase in her actual height. "That's John Marsh, isn't it? Mr. Edgeworth, that's the boy who plays the lead in—"
"We know." Miles points at Trucy's chair, waiting until the girl clambers back up before continuing. "He's Justine's son."
The look that Trucy gives Justine is now truly awe-filled. "Wow. That's super cool."
Justine places a hand to her mouth, covering a smile. "John will be joining us for lunch, if you have no objections. He's been following me around for the day."
"No objections! None at all!" Trucy flashes Edgeworth a fierce look. "Right?"
"I'm quite happy to see John again." Edgeworth cuts a small piece off his chicken. "Unless the detective has an objection?"
"Nope." Gumshoe waves to the young man, though John is already clearly heading toward their table. "It's good to see everyone again! If we could just get Kay and that crazy Interpol guy, it'd be almost like we were fightin' international crime again."
Edgeworth grimaces. "I could do without a reunion like that, personally."
"Hi, guys." John waves as he approaches the table, his shoulders slumped. He has grown a bit since Miles last saw him, but he's still quite small for his age. "Glad you're all here—it makes this sorry excuse for a recruitment drive worth attending."
"That's not very nice!" Trucy's awestruck smile quickly changes to a frown. "You're supposed to be nice, John Marsh. Or at least... you played a really nice person. You were really nice to Moozilla." Miles can practically hear the child's dreams shattering as she sighs, slumping back in her seat. "But I guess you don't have to be like the people you play in the movies, huh? Just like prosecutors and defense attorneys don't have to act the same way out of court as they do in court, which can make it hard to tell who's good and who's bad."
"All right, who's been laying all the heavy corruption stuff on their brat?" John clambers into one of the chairs, his eyes flicking first to Gumshoe and then, with clear uncertainty, to Edgeworth.
Justine is the one who answers. "John, this is Trucy Wright, the daughter of Prosecutor Edgeworth's... very good friend. Trucy, this is my very rude son John."
"It's nice to meet you." Trucy maneuvers so that she is somehow kneeling on her chair, allowing her to reach across the table and offer John her hand in a gesture that Miles knows breaks just about every rule of etiquette ever written.
"Likewise." John seems a bit shy as he shakes Trucy's hand. "So... you like the movie?"
"I thought it was awesome!" Trucy beams. "Unc—Prosecutor Edgeworth took me and my daddy to go see it after he got back from Europe. Did you know he goes to Europe a lot? Because he's very famous and everyone wants his help and that way he can help the most people."
Miles finds himself choking on his water, not certain if Phoenix told Trucy all of that or if Trucy came up with it on her own, not sure which is the more embarrassing (or sweet) option.
"Yeah, I know he's pretty cool for an old geezer." John's smile has thorns as he glances at Edgeworth, but he doesn't argue. Perhaps he recognizes the futility of arguing with someone who has as determined and fierce an expression as Trucy does.
Trucy settles back down in her chair, apparently placated by John's acquiescence. "Your mom also seems really cool, though."
John chokes on the sip of milk he was taking.
Justine covers a laugh with her hand.
"Well..." John glances around the table. "Hey, where's the crybaby prosecutor? Wasn't he also going to be here?"
"John—" Justine's aggrieved rejoinder is cut short by Sebastian's appearance behind John.
"The crybaby prosecutor is right here." Sebastian throws himself down in the empty chair next to John's, looking harried and exasperated. "Though that nickname is getting rather outdated. I would think you could come up with something new now."
"Why would I want to?" John pokes Sebastian's arm. "So what kept you?"
"Everything. Now I know why everyone else ran the other way when they were asking for volunteers to help organize this si—" Sebastian glances at Trucy and draws a steadying breath. "This event. And then on top of everything else this morning Prosecutor Gav—"
Edgeworth clears his throat.
"...a certain blond idiot and his band managed to trip a circuit breaker or whatever it's called and knock out power to half the building." Sebastian pokes at the food on his plate. "I'm starving but too tired to eat."
Trucy kneels again so that she can reach over and pat Sebastian's arm comfortingly. "I know that feeling. It's a bad one. Just sit for a minute and it should go away."
Gumshoe claps Sebastian on the other shoulder, almost causing the boy to fall out of his chair. "Do you need help fixin' the whole power situation? I'm actually pretty good with my hands and electronics."
Edgeworth inclines his head in agreement. "He is, surprisingly."
"No, that's fine. Once Ga—blondie decided that shouting at me and everyone else wasn't fixing things, he took someone from maintenance to go solve the problem. I promptly excused myself." Pushing his salad around with his fork, Sebastian gives another sigh. "And I'm being a little unfair to him. He seemed to be just as stressed out as I was."
"No one here is going to fault you for saying disparaging things about that person." Edgeworth really shouldn't take pleasure in hearing others vent their frustrations about the Gavin boy. The young prosecutor has never been anything but polite to Edgeworth, seeming to desire some sort of friendship. Edgeworth doesn't trust him, though, has no idea how much of the pleasant, professional, honorable front he shows is an act and how much is truth. He is not going to trust someone only to have them betray him again by being part of the corruption slowly eating their legal system from the outside in and the inside out.
"Yes, well..." Sebastian seems to be at a bit of a loss, looking guiltily from Edgeworth to Justine to Trucy to Gumshoe.
Miles sighs. "Or for saying something pleasant about him, if that's your wish. I'm not on a witch-hunt, DeBeste, just trying to find the truth amidst a veritable forest of weeds."
Justine cuts a small piece off her chicken, spearing it with her fork. "Prosecutor Edgeworth, I feel that there are events ongoing that you need to share with us."
Edgeworth glances down at Trucy, who is eating in between stealing glances up at John. "I will be, Judge Courtney. Another day, though. For now—"
Miles goes to pick up his tea and finds that it is no longer where it was.
"Blech." A familiar female voice sounds just behind him. "I still don't understand how you drink this, Prosecutor Edgeworth."
"Kay!" Gumshoe's cry of greeting echoes. "What're you doing here?"
"Looking for you lot." Kay replaces the tea cup, grabbing a roll instead. "The Yatagarasu has information, and I need to get it to people I can trust with it."
"Kay..." Miles narrows his eyes, torn between joy at seeing the girl again and exasperated frustration that she is still playing the part of the vigilante. "What have you been up to?"
"The same thing you have." Kay pops a piece of roll into her mouth. "Fighting corruption wherever I find it. Also doing some college courses, but that's a lot less interesting and not why I'm here right now."
A small hand tugs sharply on Miles' sleeve, and he looks down into Trucy's questioning expression. "Prosecutor Edgeworth, what's a Yata—Yatamasu?"
"Even in the depths of night, when no other bird dares take flight, one alone soars to shine the light of righteousness on the world's blight!" Kay strikes a dramatic pose, the effect somewhat lessened by the half-eaten roll in her hand. "That one is me, for I am the Great Thief, Yatagarasu!"
"But..." Trucy frowns at Edgeworth in confusion. "Shouldn't a thief be running away from you, Prosecutor Edgeworth?"
"It's a long story." Edgeworth sighs. "One I'm sure Kay will be very happy to tell you. Weren't you going to stop with the whole Great Thief thing, Kay?"
"It's not a thing, it's a calling, and I was trying to look into other options but something's come up. Something important." Kay shoves the rest of the roll into her mouth. "And that's why I need you and Gummie."
"Right now?" Edgeworth raises one eyebrow.
"Uh huh." Kay swallows. "It's important. Involves international security."
Miles tries not to glance down at Trucy, knowing how she would interpret that. "I'm a little busy right now."
"There's a kid in danger, Mr. Edgeworth." All trace of levity vanishes from Kay's face. "I need you and Detective Gumshoe."
"Kay—" Edgeworth stands, facing the young woman, and sees by the combination of determination and fear in her face that she isn't exaggerating. Closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose, he nods reluctantly. "Detective, we'll be accompanying Ms. Faraday for a bit, it seems. Trucy, I'm very sorry, but if you don't mind staying with Judge Courtney or Prosecutor DeBeste—"
"No." Trucy latches on to his sleeve.
"Trucy, now is not the time—"
"Daddy said to stay with you. I want to stay with you." Trucy's lip trembles slightly, and her eyes are starting to tear as she stares up at him. "I won't be any trouble. I'll stay out of the way. Plus, I'm supposed to see everything that you do at your job. So that I can give my report. Giving a report about doing lots of paperwork would just be boring."
"As you grow up you're going to find that boring becomes far less of a dirty word." Edgeworth considers his options, then glances again at Kay. "How dangerous do you think this will be?"
"If we move quick? Not very. I don't think the guy has a lot of backbone, and Agent Lang's been putting some international pressure on him. If we get going, we can solve this with just some of your patented logic." Kay's smile is bright. "Plus I'll help look out for the kid. Start getting her trained up as a proper Yatagarasu."
Edgeworth is becoming more and more certain that at least part of Kay's insistence on being a Great Thief is to annoy him. "If you're certain... and Trucy, only if you promise to listen to everything I say, and not do anything that might put yourself in danger. Promise?"
"I promise, Prosecutor Edgeworth." Trucy holds up her pinky finger. "I'll even pinky swear, if you want."
"No, that's quite all right." Miles closes his hand over Trucy's. "I'll trust you to listen to me."
Kay comes around behind Miles, getting a better look at Trucy. "Who are you, anyway?"
"I'm Trucy Wright. Nice to meet you!" Trucy holds out a hand. "I'm that man's daughter—Mr. Edgeworth's very important friend's daughter. That's why he's worried about me."
Edgeworth can practically hear the speculation as Justine and Kay turn from Trucy to him with razor focus. Standing, he holds out a hand for Trucy to take. "Come, detective. Kay. It seems we've work to attend to."
"Agent Lang." Miles pauses as another hail of gunfire chips into the concrete garden wall that they are currently hiding behind. "Why do things always seem to escalate rapidly when you're around?"
"Well..." Lang levers himself up, returning a scatter of shots that at least suppresses the weapon's fire coming their way. "As Lang Zhi says, if you're not seeing escalation, it's because you're not putting enough pressure on the right people."
"I do believe your Lang Zhi was absolutely insane." Edgeworth looks down at the children he is currently pressing to the wall—Trucy, who is watching him with wide eyes and an expression of utter trust, and a bawling six-year-old boy whose inadvertent discovery and attempted rescue resulted in their current situation. "Keep your heads low, children. We don't want anyone being hit by flying shrapnel."
Miles tries hard not to think about how he's going to explain to Phoenix that he and Trucy ended up in the middle of a firefight on what is probably technically international territory, though kidnapping the child of a high-ranking import official likely will result in cessation of diplomatic relationships between their two countries very shortly.
The boy just seems to cry harder.
Trucy puts her arm around the younger child. "Hey, no crying now! You have to be brave. If you're very brave, Mr. Edgeworth and the wolf-man will save us, okay?"
Lang gives a brief, low chuckle that is half-growl. "That's right, kids. Lang's taken you into his pack, and no one messes with Lang's pack."
Edgeworth doesn't say anything more, shifting so that he can try to take a quick look at their attacker's positions. His fingers comes down in something wet—something red, and he recognizes the smell of blood as he lifts his hand. "Agent Lang—"
"Opposite leg to the one Shi-Na got. Guess I'll have matching scars." Lang's grin is fierce, his eyes flicking towards the children. "Didn't hit anything important. Though if this goes on for too much longer I may need your belt to make a bit of a tourniquet, Mr. Prosecutor."
"If that's needed." Miles draws a shaking breath, another shot of adrenaline running through him. At least they are outside, in broad daylight, and he doesn't have to worry about one of his triggers making things more difficult. "How long do you think before Detective Gumshoe and your men extract us?"
"If those pups are smart, they should be here at any moment." Lang levers himself up at a different piece of wall, firing off three shots before dropping down again. His leg drags behind him, but if it hurts, he doesn't let it show in his voice or on his face. "The good guys are going to win, kids. Don't you worry."
Miles begins to wonder if the boy speaks English, his inconsolable crying continuing unabated despite their reassurances.
"Here. Hey, look at me." Trucy thwaps the boy on the head, earning a startled moment of silence. She has picked up a shiny white stone in her right hand. "Pretty, huh? Now, watch what I do. Here it is, there it is, here it is, there—uh oh, where'd it go?"
Miles knows that it must just be sleight of hand. He knows that there must have been some bit of misdirection. But he could still swear that the little stone really did disappear.
The boy ceases his crying, watching Trucy with a mixture of suspicion and awe.
Trucy grins at him. "I can do that any time we need. Make us both invisible. And then when it's safe, I'll make us both visible again. Like this! See?"
The boy takes the stone that Trucy hands him with awe, turning it over and over in his hands. Then he hands it back. "Do it again!"
"Sure. As often as you want." Trucy gathers a few other small stones and leaves to her, forming a pile at her side. "But we won't need to be invisible at all. Because Uncle Edgeworth's going to beat the bad guys and send them to jail for a very long time. Or make them hang. Right?"
"I'm certainly going to try, Trucy." Edgeworth wraps his left arm around the girl, hugging her tight to him for a moment. For a child her age to show such courage and restraint—for her to reach out to someone else when she has every right to be panicking herself—Phoenix has found himself an incredibly strong, resilient, brave child.
And Miles is going to do everything in his power to keep her safe, even if that means shielding her with his own body.
It's Gumshoe, Kay, and Lang's men who save the day.
Kay proves an elegant distraction for the gunmen, creating noises and traps that draw their attention off of Lang and Edgeworth's position.
Gumshoe and Lang's men arrive before Kay runs out of tricks, storming into the embassy compound, court order signed by Judge Justine Courtney in hand.
Lang is immediately surrounded by a cadre of men in black, all striving to apologize for their failure in protecting their chief. Lang doesn't seem too worse for wear, limping toward the ambulances as he alternately congratulates and harangues his men.
Edgeworth sends both children off with Gumshoe, trusting the detective to both protect them from prying questions and ensure that they are looked over by the paramedics.
Which leaves Miles himself, unfortunately, to deal with the other police officers and the prosecutor that has come along with them.
"A very neat piece of work, Herr Edgeworth." Klavier's words all have a trace of a German accent—Edgeworth suspects the younger man is fluent, from the way Klavier tosses German phrases around the office, but he has pointedly refrained from engaging in small talk with the blond prosecutor and isn't certain of that.
"It would have been neater if we hadn't found ourselves trapped and under fire, but it has turned out for the best." Edgeworth tries to keep his tone even, professional, to not let it show that he has dreamed about punching Klavier in the face if he ever finds proof that Klavier is corrupt, was complicit in what happened to Phoenix. Not that it would likely be as satisfying in real life as it is in his imagination—he is under no illusions as to the strength of his arm compared to that of his mind and words. "Is there a reason you accompanied the detective, Gavin?"
"We were unsure what your situation was, and wanted to be certain there was someone here to lead the investigation." Klavier holds up his hands in a clearly placating gesture. "Given that you seem to be relatively unharmed, I am happy to leave things in your control."
Miles closes his eyes. He wishes Klavier wasn't so blasted nice all the time. You aren't supposed to have to feel guilty about wanting to punch an enemy. "Was Prosecutor DeBeste not available?"
Klavier seems to deflate a bit, his shoulders slumping, but his blue eyes harden as he stares up at Edgeworth. "He was in the middle of a speech. I wasn't otherwise occupied."
"Well. Feel free to occupy yourself however you wish. I have this under control." Miles rubs the fingers of his right hand together, Lang's blood flaking off in red streamers of gory confetti.
"I could at least help direct the collecting of evidence while you get cleaned up." Klavier's eyes flick pointedly to Miles' hand. "And reassure the children who were with you."
"No." Miles bites out the word with more venom than is probably actually warranted, but it would be so easy for Klavier to manipulate something while collecting evidence, to lose or misplace or simply direct forensics not to look... "No, thank you, I'll take care of it."
Klavier huffs out a short, sharp breath. Glancing left and right, he takes a step closer to Miles, impinging uncomfortably on his personal space. "What have I done to make you hate me, Herr Edgeworth? Why am I the only one you not only distrust but seem to actively dislike?"
"You aren't, Gavin." Miles refuses to back away, raising his bloody right hand and placing it on Klavier's shoulder, applying just enough pressure to urge the younger man to take a step back. "Do you know anything about my past, or were you too busy playing with your music to pay attention to the political landscape for the last four years? I don't trust people because far too many have proven to be untrustworthy. My mentor; the police chief; the head of the P.I.C.; ambassadors; detectives; other prosecutors. I've helped bring all of them down, bring their crimes to light. It is a very long list of people who have betrayed my trust, Gavin, and a very short list of those who have earned it. Until I know which list you'll be on, no, I will not trust you."
Klavier takes another step back, expression suddenly apprehensive and pensive. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. I thought... I believed it was something you didn't like about me. My apologies, Prosecutor Edgeworth."
And Klavier Gavin inclines his head, a clear gesture of respect and contrition.
If Klavier is corrupt and hiding it, he is doing a frighteningly good job of it.
Miles still doesn't trust him. Too many of the worst monsters he has seen have been far too good at looking innocent. But there is a certain... earnestness, a humility to Klavier Gavin that makes Miles reshuffle his suspect list with Klavier closer to the bottom. "No need for that, Gavin. Entschuldigung. It has been a long day, but you do not deserve to bear the burden of that."
"Apology accepted." Klavier seems to brighten at the German, his blue eyes sharp but somewhat less wary as they rise to meet Miles' again. "And I understand where you're coming from, wanting to ensure that those you trust are not part of the corruption that has been trying to sneak into the system. Especially if you have faced so very many betrayals..."
"It's nothing of import, Prosecutor Gavin. Forget I said anything."
"When it was clearly so heartfelt? I will not forget. I will not tell anyone else what happened, but I will not forget." Klavier smiles, a cocky, pleased, warm expression. "And I will earn your trust, a place on your list of the good guys. Just give me time."
"We'll see." Miles turns toward the ambulance where Lang is currently driving several paramedics crazy. "Guten Abend, Gavin."
"Guten Abend, Prosecutor Edgeworth." Klavier is still smiling as he turns towards the collection of police vehicles, hopefully to escort himself home and out of Miles' hair. Though if making Gavin happy enough to go away is as simple as saying a few words in German...
"Done biting his head off?" Lang makes the observation cheerfully, grinning wolfishly up at Miles. "I bet that was satisfying, after our afternoon."
"I was not biting his head off." Miles shakes his head. "I've no idea why you would think that."
"Because that man is Phoenix Wright, and the blond rock star over there destroyed his reputation and his career and probably made one hell of an enemy out of you." Lang's expression softens. "It really wasn't all that hard to figure out, with the clues you let drop."
"Oh really?" Miles crosses his arms in front of his chest, leaning against the ambulance. "Last I checked logic wasn't exactly your strong point."
"I've got so many others that it doesn't matter. And enough determined and loyal pups in my pack that if I really want to know something, it gets found out." Lang smiles indulgently as he watches the agents currently skittering back and forth across the crime scene. Then he turns back to Miles, and his expression sobers. "I'm sorry. This last year must've been rough on both of you."
Miles hugs his arms a bit tighter to his chest. "I still haven't said that you're right."
"You haven't said that I'm wrong, either."
Miles allows the silence to drag out for a few long seconds, then sighs. "I make it a point to avoid lying to my friends whenever possible."
Lang laughs, the sound easy and carefree as he reaches out to slap Miles on the shoulder. "Don't act so huffy about it, Mr. Prosecutor. From all that you've said about the guy, Phoenix Wright must be pretty amazing."
"You seem very... calm about the whole disbarred-for-corruption scandal, if you've really been reading up on things." Miles eyes the Interpol agent, wondering if someone has slipped him pain medications.
"I make it a point not to distrust my friends unless I have good reason to. And I've seen how you go about dealing with actual corruption—your fangs can be almost as sharp as mine, when they need to be." Lang shrugs, stretching his good leg out in front of him. "I'm sure you'll all get this sorted out. There's no darkness so impenetrable that the light of your logic can't pierce it, right?"
Someone has definitely drugged the agent, and Miles places a hand on Lang's shoulder, keeping him from hopping up on his feet. "I suspect you're not supposed to be standing until they remove the bullet from your leg."
"Pah." Lang sneers down at the bandaged injury. "I've had worse."
"I'm sure you have, but there's no need for you to attempt assistance. Between your men and mine, we have the investigation well in hand." Edgeworth claps Lang on the shoulder. "Let them take you to the hospital and get you patched up. I'll have the detective swing by tomorrow to collect your formal statement and give you an update, all right?"
"I suppose." Lang sighs, but he settles back down. "Tell your kid that I thought she was real brave, all right? Doin' what she did at her age... she takes after her father."
"She does, but that wouldn't be me. She's Phoenix Wright's daughter, not mine." Spreading his hands, Miles gives a shrug. "I'm just babysitting her for the day."
Lang's expression shifts, becoming more thoughtful as he studies Miles for an uncomfortably long period of time. Then he sighs, raising a hand to ruffle the hair on the right side of his head. "Lang Zhi says, the pup who isn't accepted by the whole pack will never grow to its full potential."
Miles blinks. "I beg your pardon?"
"Have you seen the way she watches you?" Lang crosses his arms in front of his chest, scowling up at Miles. "That kid doesn't think of you as a babysitter. You heard her—Uncle Edgeworth. She wants you to accept her. She wants your respect. Your affection."
For several long seconds Miles can't think of what to say. Then he shakes his head. "I think you're reading far too much into a few words."
Lang snorts. "You do the logic thing; I do the people thing. Ignore me if you want. Or decide it doesn't matter. Your choice. But I know I'm right."
"But..." Miles thinks back over the course of the long day—to Trucy asking Sebastian something she didn't want him to hear; to Trucy acting as though he'd said something hurtful every time he said she was important to Phoenix; to Trucy watching him, as Lang says, closely, almost religiously. "But I'm not good with children. And I didn't have anything to do with Phoenix choosing to adopt her!"
"Sometimes you decide when your family grows; other times it happens whether you will it or not." Lang's fist connects with Miles' upper arm. "And come on. A tough, smart kid like that? You'll do great."
"Clearly you haven't actually seen me dealing with her father. Just because someone is intelligent, brave, and resourceful does not mean that they are capable of linear thought progression or even grasping basic grammatical structures."
"He's gotten the best of you sometimes, hasn't he?" Lang's grin only widens. "I'm definitely going to have to meet this guy."
"Some other time. Once... this has all been sorted out." When Phoenix is back to his old self... or as much as he ever will be, because Miles suspects even if he were to solve this case tomorrow it will have left scars on Phoenix that will show for the rest of his life. "I'm going to have to take my leave, Agent Lang. I'll speak more with you tomorrow, as the case moves forward."
"Sounds good." Lang settles back, though he calls out to Miles as Miles is walking away. "Remember to tell her she's a brave, good kid who's earned Shi-Long Lang's respect!"
Miles waves a hand over his shoulder in acknowledgment as he threads his way through the throngs, trying to find where Gumshoe deposited the children to keep them out of the way.
Miles finds Trucy Wright sitting in the back of one of the squad cars, her stamps, colored pencils, and a stack of blank paper sharing space with her.
Trucy jumps up into a sitting position when he opens the door, shoving the page that she was working on to the bottom of the stack. "Prosecutor Edgeworth! Vincent's already been taken home by his father. Detective Gumshoe said that it was all right, they knew where he lived, but—"
"It is quite all right." Edgeworth kneels down, so that he's closer to eye-level with the child. "It was you I was looking for, Trucy."
"Me?" Trucy points at herself. "You don't need to worry about me, Mr. Edgeworth. Daddy says I'm frighteningly good at handling trauma, which I think means that I don't get scared or start crying very easily, which is true. Getting scared and crying just lets the audience know that something's wrong, after all."
Miles winces at the girl's use of the word audience, too many conversations with Von Karma about charming the judge and the gallery and the press flashing through his mind. "Trucy... would you mind if I sat with you in the car for a few minutes, so that we could talk?"
"No." Trucy immediately shifts her art supplies, watching him with wary interest as Miles clambers up into the car.
Shutting the door behind him, Miles tries not to feel trapped or confined. "There. Now we can talk with a bit more freedom, yes?"
"What did you want to talk about?" Trucy looks down at her hands, folded together in her lap.
"Well, for starters... you know that it's all right to show that you're upset to me? That you don't need to worry about any audience?" Miles reaches out to touch the girl's shoulder, his touch gentle but the motion feeling awkward. "If you're scared, it's all right to tell me."
"I was scared." Trucy frowns down at her hands before shifting her gaze up to meet his, and a smile blooms on her face as she does. "It was super scary when we were having to run and hide. But I trusted you and the wolf-man, and you didn't lie to us. Everything's all right now. Vincent gets to go home, and so do I."
"Yes." Miles finds his chest aching in an unfamiliar way as he studies the girl's trusting face. "I'll be taking you home to your father very soon. He's going to be very proud of you."
The girl's smile falters slightly, and she looks back down at her hands.
"The wolf-man, as you are so fond of calling him, also wanted me to tell you he's very proud of you. He thinks you were very mature today—acted far braver than most children your age would have."
Trucy nods, her eyes still fixed on her hands.
"And..." Miles draws a deep breath. "I'm quite proud of you, Trucy. You showed a degree of empathy and strength of spirit that would do credit to someone twice your age."
Trucy's head snaps up, and there is a bright, eager grin on her face. "You really mean that? You're proud of me?"
"I am, Trucy." Miles pats the girl awkwardly on the head. "If I were to ask you to tell me something, would you consider doing so?"
Trucy actually pauses to think for a moment. "As long as I didn't promise someone else that I wouldn't tell, I'll tell you anything you want to know, Mr. Edgeworth."
"What was it that you asked Prosecutor DeBeste earlier?"
Trucy's head drops again, her shoulders hunching in. "Do... do you promise you won't get mad if I tell you?"
"I promise. No matter what it is, I won't get mad."
Raising her right hand, Trucy extends her pinky towards him. "Pinky promise?"
"Pinky promise." Edgeworth raises his right hand, pinky extended, and twines it with the girl's, feeling his face flush. Really, though, this is low on the list of ludicrous things he has been asked to do to acquire a testimony.
"I asked Prosecutor DeBeste how I could get to be your friend and make you like me." Trucy speaks in a quiet rush, her cheeks flaring red. "Because you're really important to Daddy, one of the most important people to him, he's always really happy when you're here instead of over in Europe, and I know Daddy's really important to you, too. But you don't seem to like me."
"Trucy..." Miles takes the girl's hand, not sure exactly what to say. "I'm sorry if I've given you the impression that I dislike you. I'm just... not very comfortable with children."
"It's not because..." Trucy draws a sniffling breath. "Not because I'm responsible for Daddy being so sad? For him not being able to work with you any more?"
"No." Lifting the child's head, Miles gazes down into her eyes. "No, Trucy. You are not responsible for what happened to Phoenix. He doesn't blame you, I don't blame you, and you mustn't blame yourself. Bad people did this, and we will find and stop them. It's just... taking us a bit longer than usual."
"That's all right. As long as you're not mad at me like you're mad as Prosecutor Gavin." Trucy rubs a hand across her face, scrubbing at her eyes.
Miles frowns. "Who told you I was mad at Prosecutor Gavin?"
"You haven't let anyone say his name around you." Trucy's hands twine together in her lap, and she gives a brief shrug. "You were happy when Prosecutor DeBeste was mad at him, too."
"Ah. I thought..." Miles sighs. "I thought perhaps you wouldn't want to hear about him, given that he was involved in your... biological father's disappearance."
"And the case that made Daddy sad. But I don't think either was Prosecutor Gavin's fault." Trucy bites down on her lip. "I'm not sure, because I still don't understand it all and Daddy doesn't like to talk about it, but I don't think it was his fault. Or at least... he was really nice to me before the trial. He got me a freeze pop before my first Daddy's trial."
"That's... admirable." Miles files the information away for the future, not certain how to interpret it. "But I'm not mad at Prosecutor Gavin—"
Trucy crosses her arms, eyeing him dubiously.
"I don't trust Prosecutor Gavin, but I'm not mad at him." Miles runs a hand over the girl's hair again. "And I certainly am not mad at you. You are a very brave and resourceful young woman. You showed me that quite clearly today."
"Does that mean..." Trucy bites down on her lip. "Are you willing to be my friend?"
"You may find that I'm not a very good friend, Trucy. I've been told I'm arrogant, egotistical, and a know-it-all." Miles holds out a hand. "But if you wish to be my friend, I would be honored to accept the—"
The child throws herself on Miles with unrestrained enthusiasm before he can finish his offer, her arms tight around his neck. "Thank you, Uncle Edgeworth, thank you thank you thank you!"
"You're very welcome." Edgeworth pats the girl awkwardly on the back. "Now, if you'll let me go for a few minutes, I can finish directing the investigation and we can head home. All right?"
"All right." Trucy releases him, settling back down where she had been, grinning hugely. "I can't wait to tell Daddy. He's going to be so excited!"
Miles can wait to see Phoenix again, because explaining to Phoenix that he and Trucy were busy being shot at and are thus late to dinner does not seem like it's going to be a pleasant conversation.
Better to have it over with sooner rather than later, he supposes, and he clambers out of the police cruiser with a deep sigh.
Phoenix swoops the girl up into his arms as soon as they walk in the door.
Miles closes the door to his house, takes off his shoes, and waits patiently for Phoenix to be done greeting his child.
Phoenix sets the girl down about three feet from where he picked her up, his hands roaming over her body, pulling her arms out to the side, spinning her around. "Were you hurt? Does anything need bandaging? Is—"
"Daddy, I'm fine." Trucy looks over at Miles and rolls her eye. "Stop fussing over me!"
"You're sure?" Phoenix has both his daughter's hands, is studying her with fierce intensity.
"Not so much as a scratch." Trucy puffs her chest out. "I was very brave and did exactly what I was told, and Uncle Edgeworth and the cool werewolf man kept me very safe."
Phoenix pulls his daughter in for one more quick hug.
Then he is storming towards Miles, and Edgeworth braces himself. He's half expecting Phoenix to punch him or slap him—he probably deserves it, for putting Trucy in danger like he did.
Instead Phoenix pulls him into an embrace that is equal in fierceness to the one he subjected Trucy to, and begins giving Edgeworth the same once-over. "What about you? The news was saying there were officers injured. Do I need to yell at you for driving when you should be in the hospital?"
"No, Phoenix." Miles disentangles himself from Phoenix's hold, straightening his suit. "I am quite all right. Agent Lang was, so far as I know, the only injury, and he will recover."
"Lang... that must be Trucy's werewolf. The guy you've worked with before, right?" Phoenix rubs a hand across his face and sighs deeply. "Oh, god, I am so glad the two of you are all right."
"We're fine, Phoenix." Miles grabs one of Phoenix's hands and squeezes it gently, trying to reassure him. He had expected Phoenix to be upset, but not this distraught.
"I see that. I just..." Phoenix draws a shuddering breath. "I thought... what if you two didn't come back... and..."
"Daddy, that's silly talk." Trucy takes Phoenix's other hand, tugging him deeper into the house. "You know I'm never going to go anywhere without you. Now, we need to have dinner still, because Papa Miles doesn't believe that fast food is actually edible—"
Papa Miles? Phoenix mouths the words at Edgeworth, lingering fear disappearing beneath laughter.
Miles scowls back at Phoenix. This is the first he's heard the nickname, too, and he would correct Trucy, but she seems to be doing a very good job talking Phoenix down from the heights of panic.
"—but after we have food we're going to play games." Trucy says the word with relish. "We're going to learn how to play chess. Well, I'm going to learn, and you're going to be on my team, and we're going to beat Papa Miles at his own game, okay?"
Phoenix smiles indulgently. "Whatever you want, Trucy."
"Don't make promises you can't live up to, Wright." Miles smirks as he watches Phoenix. "There's no way you're beating me at chess."
"You might be surprised what Trucy and I can do together. I'm unpredictable, and she's smart." Phoenix swings his arm, drawing Trucy forward.
"Hmm." Miles studies his opponents, not quite able to suppress a smile as Trucy stares up at him defiantly. "I suppose we'll see."
Two hours later Trucy is sleeping in one of the guest bedrooms, and Miles is splitting a bottle of very expensive wine with Phoenix.
"So." Miles takes a sip from his glass. "How did your errands go today?"
"Pretty well, actually." Phoenix doesn't sip; he swallows long droughts, one of the habits he's picked up over the last year that bothers Miles the most. "Got a lot done. Other than being part of an international shoot-out, how was the rest of your day?"
"It was..." Miles thinks back over the day, from the tense drive into the office with Trucy staring solemnly at him to the drive home, when she chattered happily. "All in all, a remarkably good day. Even with the mortal peril."
"You should really try to avoid that. Especially when you have my daughter in tow."
"Being a prosecutor isn't usually considered a physically dangerous job, Wright." There's no heat to Miles' counter, because he does still feel bad about making Phoenix worry.
"So." Phoenix sits up a bit straighter on the couch. "Papa Miles?"
"No." Narrowing his eyes, Miles studies the man sharing the couch with him. "You are not allowed to say those words."
Phoenix's grin doesn't falter. "But Trucy is now?"
"Trucy has shown remarkable resilience, empathy, maturity, and intelligence." Miles takes another sip from his glass. "She's also ten years old, and if she wants to call me by some ludicrous monicker, so be it."
"Yes!" Phoenix's cheer is soft but heartfelt. "Mission successful."
"Mission—" Miles sets his glass down. "Wright, if you don't stop trying to manipulate me, I am going to assume you're some kind of evil twin or doppleganger."
"Noooo, please don't talk about evil twins." Phoenix's expression shifts to contrite within milliseconds. "I'm sorry. I'm just... really glad to see you bonding with her, finally. She thinks the world of you."
"I know." Miles waits until Phoenix is taking a drink. "Apparently because she's certain you think the world of me."
Phoenix chokes on his wine, and Miles reaches out to pat him on the back.
"Easy there, Wright." Miles allows one of smuggest grins to surface. "I've told you before, small sips, to prevent events like this."
"You cheated." Phoenix's eyes are tearing, but he grins as he finishes coughing and relaxes against Miles. "You are a cheating cheater who cheats."
"Very eloquent, Wright." Miles picks up his glass again, draining the last of his wine.
"I don't have to be eloquent anymore." Phoenix's head comes to rest on Miles' shoulder, his body a warm, somehow comforting weight. "But thanks. For everything. I... wouldn't still be doing as good as I am without you, Miles."
"It's nothing. I'm glad to help any way I can, Phoenix." Miles sets his glass down, very gingerly putting his arm around Phoenix and pulling him closer. "For you or for Trucy, whatever I can do, I will."
"I know." Phoenix smiles, his eyes closing to slits.
They stay like that for a while longer, and it is, all things considered, the perfect ending to the day.
Trucy puts the picture up on his refrigerator, but Miles moves it to a higher location, where he can see it better and it's in less danger of being knocked off.
He's not entirely certain what everything in the picture is, but he's able to figure out enough. The three figures in the center of the image are clearly Trucy, a small stick figure with a top hat; Phoenix, in his still-unfamiliar-to-Miles hat and hoodie, holding Trucy's right hand; and Miles himself, a stick figure with silver hair and a suit jacket that is far too pink, holding Trucy's left hand.
He doesn't understand exactly what everything that surrounds them is—a forest in varying colors and geometric shapes made of legal stamps, everything from URGENT to TOP SECRET—but he understands that center bit, and he hopes that Trucy understands what its place of honor means.