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A Long Way to Fall

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Part One

"Objection!"

The sound rang out across the courtroom, full-throated and confident. Phoenix Wright threw out his arm, pointing dramatically at the figure on the witness stand, and listened to the fading echo of his voice. Silence rushed in its wake, filling the gallery with hushed energy, an electric crackle of anticipation.

This was the moment, that glorious instant when all the pieces fell into place, when the defense attorney revealed what had really happened. This was when the courtroom was his stage, when he could turn his case around and revel in the shocked gasps of the audience. This was when his faith, his unyielding belief in his client, was finally rewarded.

Oh yes. This was the moment he lived for.

The woman on the witness stand, a scrawny forty-something bank teller who kept nervously cracking her knuckles, gave him a wary look. On the other side of the courtroom Prosecutor Payne mopped his brow, his sweat-slick forehead gleaming in the fluorescent lights. Looming over them all, gavel in hand, the elderly judge had his eyes comically wide as he waited for the defense to continue.

Phoenix lowered his arm, a triumphant gleam in his eyes.

"Miss Reynolds, what you've just said is a little problematic, don't you think?"

The bank teller narrowed her eyes, and a loud pop was heard as she flexed her fingers. "What do you mean?"

"Yeah, what do you mean, Nick?"

Maya Fey stood at his side, her face scrunched up in confusion. The expression made her look younger, reminding him of the seventeen-year-old she had been when they first met. Though she was still wide-eyed and round-faced, the past year as the Master of her village had given Maya a slightly harder, more adult look. Or perhaps, since they saw each other less and less these days, Phoenix was better able to notice the slight changes as Maya matured. He was still getting used to seeing her in her Master's robes. They were longer, reaching past her knees, and a deep, rich purple color with a lighter shade trim. Most noticeable was the red talisman hanging from her neck surrounded by her beads, symbolizing her new status.

When he first started his career Phoenix never imagined a spirit channeler would serve as his legal aid. But these days he was learning to treasure the few times she could pull herself away from Kurain to visit him.

He nodded at the papers in front of her. "Give me the testimony from yesterday."

She handed him a short bundled stack, which he leafed through as he spoke. "Miss Reynolds, yesterday you told the court you had worked at Three-Fifths Bank for over twenty years."

"Yes, that's right."

"And you stated that you are an observant employee, an excellent employee, with no bad marks on your record."

"I suppose I did, yes."

"But just now you said you were afraid of being fired from your position."

The witness said nothing; she glowered at him, her mouth set in a thin line.

Phoenix tapped his fingers against the papers, finally finding the quote he was searching for. "If you are such an 'outstanding worker,' as you claimed yesterday, then why did you state today that you were terrified of being let go? What reason would the bank have to fire you?"

"Objection!" Payne's voice sounded shrill and tinny as he interjected. "Mr. Wright, what does this line of questioning have to do with the robbery your client committed?"

Phoenix fixed him with a glare. "As I've already stated, my client had no reason to attempt petty robbery." He leaned forward and splayed his hands wide on the bench, making sure everyone would listen to his next words. "But Miss Reynolds does."

The court erupted into surprised murmurs. Payne looked positively floored. The bank teller clenched her hands so tightly together her knuckles turned white. Maya just shot him a mischievous grin, catching on to his plan.

The judge pounded his gavel furiously. "Silence! I will have order in this courtroom!"

As the whispers subsided, the judge turned his attention to Phoenix. "Mister Wright, you think the bank teller held up herself? Surely you can't be serious."

"I am serious," Phoenix replied, and couldn't help the smirk that appeared on his face. "And don't call me Shirley."

He heard Maya's hand smack against her forehead. "That joke is so old, Nick…"

The judge just frowned. "You can be called whatever you like, Mister Wright, but please explain how you think the person who reported the robbery actually committed it."

He squared his shoulders back and drew in a deep breath. "My client, Trent Coates, has been a customer at Three-Fifths for several years. He is in sound financial health. He has no motivation and no need to steal two thousand dollars by holding up a bank teller."

His client, seated next to the bailiff, nodded enthusiastically.

"But our esteemed Miss Reynolds has such a need. She is in debt to the Tender Lender loan company."

The witness winced and cracked her fingers loudly, the sound sickening, like all the bones had snapped at once. Phoenix half expected her to point a set of mangled digits back at him.

Payne, finding his nerve again, slammed his desk. "What proof do you have of that?"

Phoenix met him head on. "My assistant and I paid a visit to their offices after yesterday's trial. If you'll recall, the loan company has accounts at this bank. Through her work, there is ample opportunity for Miss Reynolds to become acquainted with such a, er, reputable business."

Reputable was not the word he would normally use to describe the lender. However, with Viola, the Cadaverini heir, still in charge of the organization, it would be unwise to refer to the mafia's front with anything less than respect.

The judge looked down at the attorney with a puzzled frown. "I'm afraid that's not concrete proof, Mister Wright."

"But this is." Phoenix held up a receipt from his case file. "A record of a loan obtained by Miss Reynolds, for which she is overdue."

He shuddered as he considered what would happen to him were he late with a loan repayment to Tender Lender. He had been terrified enough just accepting their tea. Viola had been cooperative, handing over the papers with an unnerving smile. "We're always interested in… working with you… Mister Wright," she'd said with that peculiar, chilling laugh.

"Th-That's none of your business! You had no right to look into my financial records!"

Miss Reynolds gripped the railing of the witness stand, eyes darting frantically around the room. Phoenix wondered which she was more afraid of: representatives coming to collect, or having it publicly known that she was in debt to such people.

Phoenix shook his head. "This was your motive. You needed the cash quickly, and every day it was right there in front of you, waiting to be taken. But if you just grabbed it out of the till and ran, you'd get fired, right?"

Payne tried to signal the judge's attention. "This is just conjecture, Your Honor."

But all eyes were on the defense attorney.

Phoenix lowered his voice. "That's why you said you were afraid of being fired, isn't it, Miss Reynolds?"

The bank teller cracked her knuckles again.

"You needed to rob your own bank, you thought of it every day, but you were afraid of the consequences. Being fired for stealing money was always on your mind."

The prosecutor let out a loud snort and waved his hand dismissively. "A fine story, Wright, but I don't believe Miss Reynolds is on trial here."

The judge nodded. "You've described a motive, but need to present evidence to support this claim, or I will strike this line of questioning from the record."

They were both right. Phoenix knew all he had managed so far was to cast suspicion on the bank teller. But he needed to let the idea sink in, to show that another person was compelled to commit the crime, to allow his client to have reasonable doubt. He still had to present the final piece of evidence.

"Miss Reynolds, can you describe what my client was wearing the day you claim he tried to rob you?"

The bank teller straightened, regaining a modicum of composure. "He was wearing a big, bulky coat. Something you could hide away a lot of money in. Or something you could hide a weapon in."

"It's true, Your Honor," Payne said, latching onto the incriminating statements. "We have security camera footage that confirms his attire."

"So you saw my client wearing something that seemed sufficiently suspicious to you."

The witness nodded. "Yes. That's why I wasn't surprised when he said he had a gun in his coat and to give him all the money I could." She cracked her knuckles as she spoke, one by one. "I was terrified. I did as he said."

Trent Coates was having trouble staying in his chair. He was shaking his head wildly, his hair a blond blur. The police had arrested him at home, on the accusation of the teller, though the stolen money could not be located.

Phoenix slammed his desk, furious; his client had endured suspicion and misery because of the lies of this woman. It was time to end this. "Miss Reynolds, you were the one who pocketed that cash, out of sight of the camera, and pinned the blame on my client!"

Again the courtroom was filled with angry mutterings.

All the color drained from the teller's face. "No!"

He had her on the ropes. "You just needed the perfect scapegoat. You waited until someone you thought looked suspicious enough came into the bank and you claimed he held you up."

"But he did!" Her eyes were wide, her hands clenching and unclenching spastically. "He threatened me, and I pushed the robbery button beneath the counter, just like I was trained to do, and I gave him the money!"

And here it was: the moment Phoenix snatched his victory.

"If the events happened as you claim, Miss Reynolds, then why did you push the robbery button before my client approached your counter?"

The only sound in the courtroom was a strangled gasp from the witness stand.

"What are you saying, Wright?" Payne had retreated, hunched over and mopping at his brow again.

Phoenix was a little taken aback; it seemed the prosecutor had lost his spark. Could he really admit defeat so quickly? He shook his head slightly as he answered.

"I'm saying you should pay more attention to time stamps. Compare the footage from the security camera, and the electronic report from the robbery button. Miss Reynolds pushed the button nearly a minute before Trent Coates even came up to her. Unless she's psychic, how could she have known he was going to rob her before he even talked to her?"

"I don't think she's psychic, Nick," Maya said as the gallery erupted once more.

Phoenix again pointed at the woman on the witness stand, who was shaking and wringing her hands. "You jumped the gun, Miss Reynolds. In your haste to frame someone else, you put your plan into action too early. Am I wrong?"

To their great surprise, the bank teller collapsed on the floor, sobbing, and confessed to the whole scheme. On a cue from the judge, the bailiff read out her rights and escorted her from the court. The proceedings wrapped up quickly, and Phoenix finally heard those words he'd been waiting for all day:

"The court finds the defendant, Trent Coates, 'Not Guilty.'"


The defendant's lobby was unusually still.

So often after Phoenix's trials, the lobby was a maelstrom of people laughing or crying or huddled together for support. Many of those times he had personal stakes in the trials – as a defendant himself, or defending his friends, or trying to stop someone else from being murdered. He was beginning to associate the lobby with intense feelings: adrenaline running wild, senses heightened, mind frantically trying to tie things together.

He wondered how many years of his life had been lost in this lobby due to emotional toil. Or, examined another way, how many years he had won, both in practical terms by not going to prison, and in a less physical sense by the enormity of relief that flooded through him when bad situations worked out for the best.

It might be better for his health if he stuck to simpler cases, like bank robbery.

Phoenix had just finished speaking with his client, who had to be escorted back to the holding facility for filing his release. The look of relief on his face had been palpable, filling the attorney with a sense of pride. Helping people, especially those who seemed like lost causes, never ceased to amaze him. It was thrilling; it was terrifying; it was the most incredible feeling in the world.

It felt even better if he got paid. He'd need to discuss compensation with his client soon.

He looked eagerly at the cushioned bench against the wall. He was exhausted, and he knew this peace would not last. Perhaps he could put up his feet and catch a quick nap while Maya went off to look for her cousin up in the gallery.

Then again, considering that the last time he fell asleep in the lobby he woke up with a lump on his head and temporary amnesia, he wasn't sure if he could actually let his guard down enough for a few winks.

He decided to take the risk and moved toward the seat when, as if on cue, the lobby doors burst open, spoiling the quiet.

"Mister Nick!"

Pearl Fey bounded across the tiled floor, caught him around the waist, and crushed him in an enormous hug, drawing an involuntary "Ooph!" out of him. Like her cousin, she too had grown in the last year, adding at least an inch to her height. The effect was mitigated somewhat since she left her hair down from the usual pretzel twist, allowing it to hang loose around her shoulders. She was still a skinny thing, but she was starting to grow out of her robes a bit; for a moment, Phoenix had a terrifying vision of a future Pearl spilling out of her child's dress like when she channeled her cousin Mia.

He hoped Maya – and himself – could handle Pearl going through the first years of womanhood.

"One day you're going to knock me out with that hug, Pearls," he said, ruffling the top of her head affectionately. "You know, I can't get used to you without your hair loops."

She finally let go in order to smooth her strands back down. "Mystic Maya and I are still ex-spear-ah-minting," she said, pronouncing the word carefully, "until we find a style I really like."

"We try something new every day," Maya added, a devious glint in her eye. "Most times it just becomes a tangle, so we end up brushing it out and letting it go free."

"Uh-huh." He ran a hand through his spikes, suddenly conscious of his own hairstyle.

Pearl tugged on his blue suit sleeve. "Mister Nick, I'm glad you and Mystic Maya won. You did a…" She chewed on her thumb, looking for the right word. "Oh! He said you did a 'commendable' job."

"Hmm? Who said what now?" As far as he knew, Pearl had been alone in the gallery, seated away from the other members. There were no other children in the courtroom. He felt a surge of protectiveness streak through him – What strange men were talking to Pearls?! – until he realized that Pearl was acting perfectly at ease. She was still uncomfortable around strangers; whoever had spoken to her must have been someone she knew.

She smiled at him, big and bright. "Mister Eh-ji-worth. He and Mister Detective kept me company during your trial."

"Is that so?"

Phoenix felt his pulse quicken; he hadn't seen the prosecutor in a long time. Though he had returned from Europe several months ago, he was busy, so much that Phoenix wouldn't see him for weeks at a time. He still wasn't certain what had cut Edgeworth's travels short – something to do with his sponsor being caught up in some crime ring – but the city had re-instated him immediately, and made him a High Prosecutor to boot, which likely added to his workload.

"You should come say hello." Pearl pulled him to the lobby entrance, where a large figure stood just outside the doors.

He recognized Detective Gumshoe's ratty coat, freshly anointed with a new brown stain. Was it gravy? Or maybe oil?

The detective smiled at all of them. "Hey, look who's back!"

The burly man reached down and scooped Pearl up into his arms, and she let out something between a shriek and a giggle. He plopped her on top of his shoulders, her head nearly reaching the ceiling. Once he had her steadied, he beamed at Phoenix and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good job today, pal!"

"Thanks."

Gumshoe had been in high spirits for the last couple of months, ever since he and Maggey Byrde finally admitted their feelings for one another. He'd become more boisterous and, oddly enough, more competent at work. Phoenix had overheard several of the older officers whispering about how the 'little woman' was inspiring Gumshoe to do his best. They made a cute couple, though it was a bit jarring to see them together. Maggey was nearly a foot shorter than Gumshoe, not quite reaching his shoulders. Phoenix sometimes wondered, with the size difference and all, how things worked out between them during their intimate moments.

Gumshoe moved aside, revealing another figure waiting behind him, and Phoenix couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face.

"Edgeworth."

"Wright."

His smile split into a full-fledged grin, and he saw the prosecutor's mouth twitch up in response. He hesitated, debating whether he should pull his old friend into a hug – a manly hug, of course – or refrain from any contact. Finally, he stuck out his right hand, hoping he didn't seem too awkward.

Edgeworth blinked, looking surprised, as though he was expecting something different. A moment later he returned the handshake, gripping firmly.

His hand was warm, comfortable, and Phoenix felt a familiar fluttering in his stomach. It was always like this with Edgeworth: jumbled feelings of admiration and concern, shared history fuelling each interaction, and a wish for something more than a tenuous friendship.

Even after all this time, he was still coping with his feelings for Edgeworth. He had looked up to the prosecutor ever since they were children, had kept him in his thoughts well beyond the limits of reminiscing about school-yard friends. Miles had ingrained himself so deeply into his life, had burrowed so thoroughly into his heart, that he had turned his whole life around just to see him again.

The more jaded side of him quipped that there was a romantic movie in the plot of his life – but one that left the audience unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Edgeworth had shown him no signs of feeling anything beyond friendship, and even that had been a struggle at first. The prosecutor had been so broken, so trapped in the chains of perfection and duty that to see him now, more open and more alive, was a peace Phoenix had no desire to disrupt.

The saying was tis better to have loved and lost. Phoenix had too much to risk the losing part. He would rather have Edgeworth in his life, as a friend, than to chance losing him again.

He pulled his hand back slowly, reluctant to lose contact. "So, what brings you around?"

Edgeworth sighed, his features pinching in annoyance. "Yearly peer reviews. Payne is up for evaluation, and I needed to observe one of his trials for the report." He looked aside, watching the detective chat with Maya. "Gumshoe mentioned he was facing you today, and I thought it would be a good opportunity."

Ah. That helped explain why Payne gave up his fight so quickly. He likely didn't want to risk looking even more foolish by protesting the obvious evidence; it would look bad on his record. Phoenix was relieved to be a private defense attorney, since he was only accountable to himself and his client. The politics of the Prosecutor's Office were a nebulous and mildly disturbing game.

"Well, I hope you don't go too hard on him. He's had a rough day." Phoenix felt a swell of pride that Edgeworth would choose to watch one of his trials.

"So it appears." Edgeworth's voice had a slight mocking tone, and he returned his attention to Phoenix, smirking. "Though you shouldn't congratulate yourself too much. Any prosecutor with half a brain would have caught the error you presented in trial today and refused the assignment."

Phoenix raised an eyebrow. "Then does that mean the Prosecutor's Office is filled with brainless idiots?"

Edgeworth gave him a flat look, clearly waiting for Phoenix to exclude him from that statement.

He laughed. "Come on, you know I don't mean you," he said, shrugging. "Someone would have figured it out sooner or later. I'm just here to make sure it was sooner."

The prosecutor hesitated, as though considering his next words carefully. "Just pointing out the error would have been enough to exonerate your client. Why did you go through the trouble of implicating the teller?"

Phoenix frowned slightly. "Well, even if it did free him, he would still be under suspicion. Until the true culprit is found, the initial suspect is never really cleared."

The initial trial system had rendered the notion of innocent until proven guilty almost obsolete. It was one of the reasons Phoenix had felt compelled to take up law: to help those with no one on their side.

"I had to find the whole truth, Edgeworth. Nothing else would have put this case to rest."

Edgeworth nodded, grey eyes shining with something like understanding, and Phoenix felt a jolt run down his spine. The prosecutor's look was piercing. "Not many would have had the integrity to follow through."

Phoenix smiled, warmth spreading through his chest.

"Hey Nick, are we going home or what?"

Maya's voice interrupted their conversation. Gumshoe had returned Pearl to the floor, and Maya clasped her hand tightly. When all eyes turned on her, she seemed taken aback, but rallied quickly. "We still gotta pack, you know."

She was smiling, but there was something melancholy in her tone, and Phoenix, in a rare moment of insight, understood what she was feeling.

They were going back to Kurain this evening, on the late train. Over the past week she and Pearl had strewn their belongings all over Phoenix's guest bedroom; he half-way suspected that between them they had more robes and sandals and hairbrushes than most of their village combined. There was certainly more of it now that Maya was the Master. He did not envy them the task of cramming it all back into two suitcases.

He was jealous that at least they had each other for company. Tomorrow he would start watching his calendar again carefully, waiting for their next visit. It could be weeks from now.

He sighed, rubbing his hand behind his neck. "Yeah, I guess we should get going." He glanced sideways at Edgeworth, an idea springing to mind. "I don't suppose we could trouble you for a ride?"

Edgeworth lifted his brows, some smart retort ready to spill across his lips; but he looked over at the Fey girls, and his expression softened. "It would be a tight fit," he said, slowly.

"Do you have your own bus, Mister Eh-ji-worth?" Pearl looked intrigued, her head tilted as she considered the prosecutor driving one of the city transports.

Maya let out a snort of laughter. "No, Pearls, buses are for lots of people going to the same place. Mister Edgeworth drives his own sportscar."

"Oh." She bit her thumb again, looking away in embarrassment.

"It would be my pleasure, Miss Fey." Edgeworth bowed towards Pearl, causing her to flush a deep red. He looked over at Maya. "I'm sure the Master of Kurain would prefer a private car as opposed to a city bus."

Maya stiffened. "Mister Edgeworth, you- you don't need to treat me any differently." She did her best to sound normal, but there was something low, almost lonely, in her voice.

Edgeworth looked at her for a moment longer, then abruptly nodded. "Of course."

Phoenix held out his hand toward Pearl. "Thanks, Edgeworth," he said, trying to diffuse the awkwardness.

They said their farewells to Gumshoe and headed toward the prosecutor's parking lot. Edgeworth walked ahead of them, pace brisk, and the three of them trailed behind, Pearl holding on to each of their hands. She immediately clambered into the tiny backseat when the doors were unlocked. Phoenix followed in after her, after Maya refused to budge from the front seat.

One day, Phoenix vowed, one day he would be able to afford a car such as this. Rich leather seats, a sleek high-tech dashboard, and an engine that almost purred with power. Of course, he would choose a more subtle color than race-car red; something nondescript, like black, or if he was feeling classy, a deep blue. He met Edgeworth's eyes in the rearview mirror, and felt his face heat up, caught so blatantly admiring the vehicle.

He shifted his attention to Maya, who had buckled herself in and immediately swiveled in her seat to talk to Pearl. "Hey, if you're just going to turn around, you should sit back here," he said, sounding more annoyed than he meant as he tried to cover his embarrassment.

Maya waved her hand, dismissing him. "A gentleman always lets the lady sit in front, Nick." She turned toward Edgeworth. "Isn't that right?"

Once more he caught Edgeworth's gaze in the mirror, and saw the quick smirk. "I'm not certain a cretin such as Wright could ever learn how to be a gentleman."

Maya laughed, and as Phoenix was about to retaliate, Pearl tugged on his sleeve again.

"Mister Nick, you- you are a gentleman with Mystic Maya, right? You have to treat your Special Someone with love and respect!"

She had a long look on her face, one that made Phoenix feel as if he had disappointed her. She was still clinging to the idea of him and her cousin being a couple, as if seeing them together, like in a fairy tale, would dispel all the woes she had in her life.

He sighed. "Pearls, I–"

Maya interrupted him. "Pearly, remember what we talked about." Her words were stern, her face unusually serious. Pearl gave her a small, morose nod. The car fell quiet, the air heavy with an unspoken tension. Only the soft stirrings of violin strings, coming from the radio, broke the silence.

As Edgeworth shifted into first gear and pulled out of the lot, Phoenix leaned forward and tapped him on the shoulder. "Can you take us to my office, Edgeworth? I want to drop off this paperwork before we head home."

The prosecutor scowled, briefly looking back at Phoenix before quickly shifting his glance away. Phoenix blinked in confusion, wondering what he had done to sour Edgeworth's mood.

"Don't get in the habit of making me your chauffeur, Wright." But he turned left anyway towards the attorney's office. "As it happens, this is more convenient for me."

"You gotta be somewhere on my side of town?"

Phoenix waited for a response, but Edgeworth kept his attention on the road. The atmosphere in the car was still subdued. He put on his best cheeky grin, trying to lighten the mood. "You got a date or something?"

There was a part of him that didn't really want to hear the answer to that question; it was selfish, he knew. Then again, if Edgeworth surprised him and answered yes then maybe he could put his clinging wish to rest. If hope was left in Pandora's Box for too long, unfulfilled, it would spoil and turn to poison. Better to let it escape along with the monsters.

Edgeworth's eyes flashed at him in the mirror, something wary flitting across his expression before he settled into a glare. "Not that it's any of your business, but no." His mouth pressed into a thin line, and Phoenix thought he'd pried all he could out of him, but after a moment he continued. "The Prosecutor's Office is holding a ceremony at the Gatewater Hotel."

"Ooh, that sounds important," Maya piped in, trying to sound more cheerful. "Are you getting another award?"

"No. Regardless, I expect it will be nothing but a waste of time."

"Oh." She faltered, unsure of whether to prod the prosecutor any further, and then turned around again, facing the backseat. "That reminds me, Pearly, we gotta plan for the novice sessions. Which training halls do you think we should use?"

She and Pearl started talking about buildings and waterfalls, the little girl perking up. Phoenix stayed quiet, watching the city roll past the window, letting his eyes wander over to Edgeworth's reflection. In the low light, the grey hair that framed his face looked shiny and almost white, blending in with his pale skin. He reminded Phoenix of a ghost, that perhaps he really had chosen death and that the last couple of years were all in Phoenix's head.

Sometimes the prosecutor seemed so far away.

Someday, Phoenix feared, he may not have the chance to see Edgeworth anymore, due to work, or travels, or maybe he would get on the prosecutor's nerves so much that Edgeworth finally refused his company.

He swallowed hard and closed his eyes, and tried to ignore the lead weight in his stomach. He listened to the sound of the Fey girls' chatter, not really paying attention, and to the classical music, the sound soothing. The ever-so-slight vibration of the vehicle against the road, a testament to its restrained power, was almost hypnotic.

He only became aware of his surroundings again when the car was quiet and the gentle vibration had finally stopped.

"Wright. You're here." Edgeworth's voice was low, sounding amused.

He abruptly lifted his head from the window and found the prosecutor staring at him in the rearview mirror. The car was parked in front of his office, and Maya and Pearl were already heading into the building. He rubbed his eyes. "Was I asleep?"

Edgeworth scoffed. "If you kept regular hours, you wouldn't need naps."

"Says the work-a-holic who sleeps in his office." Phoenix scooted forward, resting his elbows against the two front seats and moving his head into the space between them. "Thanks for giving us a ride, Edgeworth."

Edgeworth shifted in his seat, angling slightly to look at Phoenix, and his shoulder brushed across Phoenix's arm. "You're welcome."

There was a pause, a weird moment where neither of them moved. Phoenix looked at the prosecutor, saw the slight lines of stress near his eyes. He wanted to reach over and run his finger across them, to feel his skin, to give him some measure of contact-comfort; but he kept his hands still. He was the first to look away.

"You should take a break sometime. Have a little fun." The thought of Edgeworth relaxing, laughing, or just bantering together with him was cruelly enticing.

Edgeworth tapped his fingers against the steering wheel. "Unlike you, I have obligations to keep. I can't skip work for some meaningless amusement."

Phoenix sighed. At some point Edgeworth would need to remember that he, too, was human, and that constant work would derail his spirit. "Well, think about it at least. I don't want my friends to die of heart attacks before they're sixty."

He slid back before Edgeworth could respond. The door opened with a smooth motion and he stepped out, but stuck his head back in one last time. "Thanks again."

Edgeworth leaned his head back against the headrest. "Goodbye, Wright."

He shut the door and walked toward the office, wondering when he would see the prosecutor again. His footsteps were heavy. Later this evening he'd escort the girls to the train station, and his life would be calm and quiet and dull.

Only when he heard the engine start did he turn around, and he watched the red car roll away from him.