December 18th, 7:15 AM.
It was morning, and Edgeworth was making himself some tea, just as he did every morning. As he waited for the kettle to heat up, he went to his study to grab the notes from an older case. Gumshoe would be here in a bit to take this evidence down to the precinct for storage. Edgeworth had some time; Gumshoe was usually late, after all, but it never hurt to be prepared.
Of course, no one could be prepared for everything. Not even the Chief Prosecutor himself. He had no way of knowing that on that very morning, one of the worst earthquakes the city would see in years would strike. Not that he could tell how bad it was. After all, the moment the earth beneath him began to falter, Edgeworth collapsed, and not even the piercing scream from the kettle would wake him.
December 18th, 1:28 PM.
The office was a mess, more so than it usually was. Phoenix found that the earthquake this morning had done quite a number on it. Charlie had been knocked on his side, spilling dirt all over the floor. Several of the bookshelves had toppled over as well, their contents a messy pile on the ground. He could at least take solace that none of Trucy’s magic props had broken; it would break her little heart if anything bad had happened to that plastic floating spaghetti.
Phoenix had spent the whole day cleaning the office up. There were worse things he could do with his time, and he didn’t have a client at the moment, so sweeping up dirt and scrubbing the toilet didn’t sound that bad. Especially when he compared it to some of the other destruction in the city. All things considered, his office had gotten off pretty easy. He heard some buildings had broken windows, collapsed roofs… there were even a couple of cases of power lines being snagged and collapsed, causing blackouts and other destruction. He heard most of these cases had been taken care of, but it was still scary.
Especially considering Edgeworth hadn’t answered any of his calls.
The moment the earth had stopped shaking and he had made sure Trucy was all right, he had immediately called Edgeworth. From what he knew, that childhood fear had never really gone away; and he knew from experience that even the slightest shaking of the earth rendered the man unconscious. Usually he was all right a few minutes after the quake ended, but Phoenix couldn’t help but be worried. This earthquake had been pretty intense. And each time his call went unanswered, he couldn’t help but worry more and more. What if Edgeworth had gotten hurt? The quake had been especially bad, and his office was on the fourteenth floor. What if the building had collapsed? No, he would’ve heard about that, right? But what if he was in the middle of something? What if he had been driving and wound up getting into an accident? Phoenix tried to focus on cleaning and relax. There was always the chance that Edgeworth was too busy to answer the phone, or maybe he was abroad, seeing how the man traveled a lot with little warning to others. Still, no matter how many times Phoenix tried to reassure himself, he didn’t feel much better, and he couldn’t shake the nagging, anxious feeling in his gut that perhaps something bad had happened.
Thankfully, his anxious whirlwind of thought was interrupted by a knock at the door. Perhaps it was a client. Or maybe it was Apollo or Athena checking up on him. Both of them had called earlier, so they knew he was all right, but he wouldn’t put it past them to check in person anyways.
Honestly, the last person he expected to see at his doorstep was Edgeworth, with Detective Gumshoe right behind him holding Pess in his arms.
“E-edgeworth!” Phoenix exclaimed. It would be a lie to say that he wasn’t relieved to see him here, but just one look told him something bad had happened. He was dressed up nice as usual, but his clothes looked a little disheveled and dirty. Along with that, he looked irritated. Not that that was unusual, but there was something about his bitter expression that made Phoenix uneasy. Despite that, he immediately held the door open and let the two of them inside.
“Thank goodness you’re okay!” He said, shutting the door behind him. “I was so worried about you!! I mean-”
“Wright,” Edgeworth interrupted, “I burnt down my house.”
Phoenix had no idea what Edgeworth was going to say to him, but it certainly wasn’t that.
“Um… what?” Phoenix asked.
“H-hey! Don’t say it like that, sir!” Gumshoe exclaimed. “It wasn’t your fault!”
Edgeworth didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t say anything else, either.
“Alright, can someone please tell me what’s going on?”
“I was making tea, when…” He grimaced, clutching his arm nervously. Gumshoe seemed to pick up on his uneasiness and spoke for him.
“When the earthquake struck, the stove was still on. Mr. Edgeworth’s house was hit pretty bad and… well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened.”
“Oh my god, are you all right?!”
“Obviously.” Edgeworth responded bitterly.
“Edgeworth…” Phoenix sighed. He wanted to ask for more details, but it didn’t seem like he was too keen on talking right now. Not that he was surprised; this wasn’t the first time he had seen Edgeworth after an earthquake. To say they put him on edge was an understatement; he wouldn’t be getting much out of him until he calmed down. “Do you want me to make you a cup of coffee? I know you prefer tea, but I don’t have any. And you look like you could use something.”
“…All right.” Edgeworth finally said.
“Okay. Go ahead and have a seat. You want one, Gumshoe?”
“Sure thing! And I’ll help you, pal.” He replied, putting Pess down on the couch.
Phoenix wasn’t exactly sure why he’d need help making some coffee, but he didn’t turn him down and the two of them headed into the other room. The coffee maker was toppled on its side, but at least it wasn’t broken. Phoenix picked it up and got some coffee grounds out of the cabinet, keenly aware that Gumshoe wasn’t actually trying to help. Maybe he came in with him for another reason?
“Gumshoe,” he said quietly, hoping Edgeworth wouldn’t hear from the other room over, “what really happened?”
“It’s just as Mr. Edgeworth said. There was tea on the stove when the earthquake happened. Enough stuff falls on a lit stove, and… well, you know the rest.” He shrugged. “I’m just thankful he was in the study. If he was in the kitchen, I might not have reached him in time.”
“You? He didn’t leave his house himself?”
“Nope. I was heading over there to pick up some stuff. As soon as I noticed the smoke, I rushed in there without another thought. Not my greatest idea, huh?” He chucked, scratching the back of his neck idly. It was only now that Phoenix noticed he had several bandages placed on his hands, though they did little to hide the burn marks.
“That must’ve really hurt!”
“Nah, not really.” Gumshoe replied, shoving his hands in his coat pockets. “Besides, it’s not like I fell off a burning bridge or anything.”
“W-well-” Phoenix wanted to argue that he wasn’t the one who had gotten into a car accident from talking on the phone while driving and looking at evidence, but if they really wanted to argue about who had gotten hurt in the most ridiculous way, they’d be here all day. “Well, what happened next?”
“He had passed out in the study. I carried him out of there, of course! Then I called the fire department… it was really messy, but they were able to put it out pretty quickly. Took Mr. Edgeworth awhile to wake up though. There was a lot of smoke in that house.”
“Is Edgeworth really all right?” Phoenix asked. Gumshoe hesitated, idly glancing back towards the door.
“I dunno, pal. He’s acting funny. After he woke up, I offered to take him to the hospital. I was worried he breathed in too much smoke, y’know? But he got really upset when I asked. I know he tends to be a bit jumpy after an earthquake, but something seems different this time.”
The coffee was done, and Phoenix poured three cups for Gumshoe, Edgeworth and himself. With Edgeworth’s arrival, Phoenix thought the nervous ache in his gut would’ve settled, but it had only gotten worse with Gumshoe’s news. Earthquakes were already traumatizing enough for Edgeworth; for him to go through something like this… No, Phoenix thought, shaking his head. Edgeworth was strong; stronger than he gave himself credit for. He’d get through this, just like he always did. Phoenix just hoped he could be of some help this time.
Phoenix handed Edgeworth the coffee, and the three of them sat in a strained silence for a moment. Finally, Edgeworth spoke:
“My house wasn’t entirely destroyed.” He said.
“Oh. W-well, that’s good.” Phoenix replied awkwardly.
“I’ve already made arrangements to have it repaired. But… I’m afraid it will be a bit of time before it’s habitable again.”
“Did you need a place to stay?” Phoenix immediately asked.
Edgeworth sighed, placing his empty cup on the table.
“If… it would not be too much trouble… It would only be for about a week or so.”
This certainly was strange. Since when did Edgeworth ever accept an offer to stay the night? He was rich; Phoenix had honestly thought he would turn the offer down and stay in a hotel for a while, or maybe even just go on vacation for the time being. It wasn’t like he couldn’t afford it. Why would he want to stay with him?
“That’s actually the reason why I came here today.”
That just made it stranger. Edgeworth of all people had planned on asking for help? A few years ago, Phoenix had to pry to get Edgeworth to even speak to him after an earthquake; and now he wanted to actually stay with him? It was odd but… no way was Phoenix going to turn it down.
“Of course you can stay with me, Edgeworth. It’s no trouble at all.” He smiled. “My house might be a bit messy, though.”
“I’m sure it can’t be any worse than my place, pal!” Gumshoe laughed.
Despite the jovial atmosphere, Edgeworth didn’t look any more relaxed.
December 18th, 4:11 PM
“Well… here we are!” Phoenix said, opening his door for Edgeworth. He said nothing and entered his home, taking a good look around. Even if Edgeworth looked a bit messy, he still stood out like a sore thumb in Phoenix’s apartment. Seeing him here with his basic, cheap furniture with all of Trucy’s magic supplies thrown across the room made him realize how unglamorous his life must be in comparison to Edgeworth’s. “Uh… sorry about the mess.”
“It’s not that bad.” Edgeworth replied. “Besides… I’m not really in a position to complain.”
As glum as ever, Phoenix thought.
“Well, make yourself at home! Um…” He hesitated, only just now realizing how small his place truly was. “I don’t really have a guest room. You can have my bed if you want.”
“What about you?”
“Eh, the couch is fine. I’ve slept there more times than I can count.”
“…If you insist.” Edgeworth responded.
There was a strained silence for a moment. If things kept up like this, it would be a very long week and a half.
“Did you want to take a bath? Um… I think I’ve got clothes that’ll fit you, if you want to wash your old ones.”
Before Edgeworth could respond, the door opened, and Trucy walked in. There was clearly something on her mind, but once she noticed Edgeworth there, she smiled.
“Oh! Hi, Mr. Edgey!” She exclaimed, waving at him. “What brings you here?”
“Please just call me Edgeworth.” Edgeworth said.
“He’s going to be staying with us for a little bit.” Phoenix added. “Okay?”
“The interior of my house is being redone.” Edgeworth interjected. Phoenix supposed that wasn’t entirely a lie.
“Oh, okay!” She paused for a moment. “Daddy, how come we don’t remodel our place?”
“How was school today, Trucy?” Phoenix asked.
“School?” That energetic smile on her face faltered for a moment. “Um…”
“Did something happen?”
“Well…” She looked hesitant, but finally pulled something out of her bag. “I didn’t do so well on a test today.”
“Oh, it can’t be that bad…” He trailed off when she held the paper out to him. In bright red letters, it read: 21/100 F.
“I’m sorry! I know you told me to study and not stay up late so often, but… there was a new trick I was so close to perfecting! I couldn’t just go to bed early…”
The grade on the paper certainly wasn’t good, but it wasn’t like Phoenix hadn’t failed his fair share of tests back in high school. Besides, this was a rare occurrence; Trucy was a busy girl with both work and school, and most of the time she was able to pass exams with flying colors. There really was no point in getting mad. That, and Trucy already looked so sad; getting angry would just upset her further and he certainly didn’t want that.
“Trucy…” Phoenix smiled, and reached his hand out to ruffle her hair.
However, before he could do that, Edgeworth rushed over, firmly grabbing ahold of his wrist and pulling it back.
“Ow, Edgeworth! What the-?” He exclaimed. At the sound of Phoenix’s cry Edgeworth immediately let go, and backed up.
“M-my apologies.” Edgeworth replied, averting his gaze away. “I just thought… never mind.”
“Uh…” Phoenix wanted to pry, but he didn’t want to make him uncomfortable by doing that in front of Trucy. He held off for now. “A-anyways, Trucy, don’t worry about this test. I’m not mad.”
“Nah. It’s just one test. I don’t think I could count how many I bombed when I was a kid.”
“Yup! I’m sure Edgeworth could vouch for that! Right, Edgeworth?”
Edgeworth didn’t say anything, still looking remorseful.
“Well, anyways, you know what my mom used to do when I was feeling down?”
“She’d let me choose whatever I wanted for dinner.”
“Why? Wouldn’t that just encourage you to get bad grades?”
“That had nothing to do with the test. It just had to do with cheering me up. And I don’t like it when you’re sad, Trucy.” He patted her head and this time, Edgeworth didn’t interrupt. “So, what do you say? What would you like to eat tonight? Anything’s game, I promise!”
“Hmm…” Phoenix noticed her mood brighten substantially. “How about we get some noodles at Eldoons?”
“Really? There?” Pheonix asked. “We go there all the time!”
“You said anything’s game, Daddy!” Trucy pouted. “Besides, I like Mr. Eldoon’s noodles. The saltier, the better!”
“Well… all right. Noodles sound good tonight, Edgeworth?”
Well, at least he was speaking.
“Okay, Trucy. We’ll go out in a little bit. For now… I think you have a trick to work on, right? Can’t wait to see it when it’s done!”
“I’m sure it’ll amaze you, Daddy!” She exclaimed proudly. “You too, Uncle Edgey!”
“It’s just Edgeworth.”
“I’ll let you know when it’s done. But for now no peeking, promise?”
“Promise.” Phoenix replied.
She just nodded in response then headed to her room. As soon as he heard the door shut, Phoenix finally turned his attention back onto Edgeworth.
“What was that about?” Phoenix asked. “Why did you grab my arm like that?”
“…I don’t know.” Edgeworth responded with a sigh. “I suppose I’m just tired.”
The moment the words left his lips, something happened. Thick, heavy chains appeared out of nowhere, framing themselves around Edgeworth. On top of them were bright red locks, fastened tightly to the chains. Phoenix felt his blood run cold at the sight of them. Ever since he had gotten the magatama from Pearls all those years ago, it had become a habit to keep it in his pocket most of the time. It had been wildly helpful during many investigations, but he had never thought he’d see the day when those locks would form around Edgeworth’s words. Gumshoe had been right; there really was something else going on, wasn’t there?
“…Is something the matter, Wright?” Edgeworth asked, seeming to notice Phoenix’s reaction to the invisible chains.
“What? Nope! Nothing’s wrong, not at all…” He trailed off as he mentally counted the locks surrounding Edgeworth. There were five.
“What are you looking at? You don’t seem… wait.” Edgeworth glared. “I know that look. You have that… thing on you, don’t you? Those psycholocks, right?”
“They’re called… Never mind, it’s not that important. But yeah. They’re there.”
“…How many are there?”
Edgeworth just grimaced in response.
“Look, Edgeworth…” Phoenix said. He gently placed his hand on Edgeworth’s shoulder, trying to come off as reassuring as possible. “I’m not interrogating you right now. This isn’t part of a case. I know something’s bothering you, but if you don’t want to tell me… then that’s your decision. I won’t force you. But if you do want to talk… I’m here, alright?”
“We’ll see what happens.” Edgeworth said, after a pause.
“That’s fine.” Phoenix smiled, trying to lighten the mood a bit. “All right, now let me find you some clean clothes. I think I have a hoodie in your size-”
“You’re kidding yourself if you think I’ll ever wear a hoodie, Wright.”
“Oh, c’mon!” Phoenix whined. “It’ll look good on you, I swear!”
“I think I’ll take you up on that offer for a bath.” Edgeworth said, effectively ignoring him. “Which way is it?”
“Down the hall, to the left.” Edgeworth nodded and disappeared down the hall. Phoenix let out a sigh of relief. If Edgeworth was bantering with him, that meant he had relaxed at least a little. Still, Phoenix was worried about those locks; what was Edgeworth hiding that required five psyche-locks? He knew he had given Edgeworth the choice to talk or not, but couldn’t help but be curious – and fearful – of what secrets might be locked away.
December 19th, 11:21 AM
On day one of Edgeworth’s stay, he forced Phoenix to go shopping with him.
Well, not forced. Phoenix had nothing else to do after all; Trucy was at school and he still didn’t have any cases. Plus, Edgeworth had a car so that meant he didn’t have to walk or bike there. Still, it felt like he was being dragged there because the only shops Edgeworth had any interest in were vastly out of Phoenix’s price range.
“Why do we have to go shopping?” Phoenix complained. “My suit fits you just fine!”
“I’m not showing up to the Prosecutor’s office in your suit, Wright.” Edgeworth replied.
“Will anyone really notice?”
“Yes. I don’t think there’s a single person in that building that you haven’t personally upset.”
Phoenix opened his mouth to argue but quickly realized that Edgeworth had a point.
“I still think you look nice in blue, though.”
Unfortunately, Phoenix hadn’t been able to convince Edgeworth to wear one of his hoodies while his own clothes were in the wash. He would’ve paid to see Edgeworth wear one for even a second. But there was something charming about seeing Edgeworth wearing his suit, too. They were almost the same size, but Phoenix noticed the sleeves were a bit short and stopped just below his wrists. Of course it was missing the defense badge on the lapel, but he still looked nice. Phoenix couldn’t help but wonder if he’d wear something more casual like this if he had wound up following in his father’s footsteps…?
Ugh, he would just wind up upsetting himself if he kept thinking like that. He tried to focus on other things and followed Edgeworth into an expensive looking shop.
It didn’t take long for Phoenix to give up and retire to one of the benches in the shop. He looked at one of the pairs of slacks and the price tag made him want to cry and throw up at the same time. But, it could be worse. He kept his gaze on Edgeworth; somehow watching him search through dress shirts and vests was very relaxing. Phoenix was still worried about him, but he seemed to be doing much better today. Perhaps he and Gumshoe worrying over him had been too rash?
Deep down, he knew it wasn’t. He pulled the magatama out of his pocket and ran his fingers over it idly. Psyche-locks only appeared when someone had something really troubling to hide. And Edgeworth had had five.
“Wright.” Edgeworth said, interrupting his depressing train of thought. Phoenix shoved the magatama back in his pocket and quickly looked up at him. Edgeworth had taken off his suit jacket, likely to try something on and he was holding two different dress shirts, which Phoenix honestly couldn’t see any difference between. “Which one do you prefer?”
“Why are you asking me?” Phoenix asked. “Don’t you pick out your own clothes?”
“Of course I do; don’t be ridiculous. This is for you.”
“What? No, you don’t have to get me anything!”
“I insist. Now, which one do you prefer?”
“Can’t you just buy me lunch or something?”
“No. You only have, what? Two dress shirts? And I’m wearing one of them right now. Based on the way it fits me, I assume it’s likely too small for you, too.”
He was right, as usual. That shirt had been too tight on him ever since he had done the laundry incorrectly once a few months ago. He had given in and kept it anyways; now that he had gotten his badge back, he wanted to look professional. And dress shirts were expensive; he just had to hope that no one would notice how snug it was on him beneath his jacket.
“All right. Uh…” Phoenix sighed. He supposed there was little point in turning Edgeworth’s offer down. He looked at the two shirts again, still not seeing any difference. “The left one, I guess.”
Edgeworth turned around, likely to go put the other one back, and Phoenix stood up to follow him. He had to be close to finishing, right? He already had a bag with other things he had picked out. Standing behind him like this, he really could see just how small the shirt was on him. It was hiking up on his back; apparently he hadn’t noticed yet. Phoenix almost wanted to make a joke about it, but then he noticed some strange, thin marks on Edgeworth’s lower back. He immediately recognized them to be scars. Old ones, of course; they weren’t red and had long since faded. But there were quite a few of them. Phoenix didn’t get to look for long; Edgeworth unconsciously reached down and fixed the shirt soon enough. But it was still enough to throw Phoenix’s thoughts into a frenzy. He had remembered going swimming with Edgeworth and Larry once when they were children; there hadn’t been anything there back then. Sure, maybe he was jumping to conclusions. There was plenty of time in twenty-five years for someone to get a scar or two, and Phoenix would know. But for some reason he had a nagging feeling that he knew when exactly Edgeworth had gotten those scars.
“Wright.” Edgeworth said suddenly, turning back around.
“Y-yes?” He sincerely hoped he hadn’t made it too obvious that he was staring.
“Can you get my… I mean, your jacket for me? I think I left it in the dressing room.”
“Sure thing!” Phoenix replied far too enthusiastically. He left to go get it before Edgeworth could say anything. Phoenix was thankful for the distraction; he really, really wanted to ask, but it wasn’t right for him to look in the first place, and bringing up potential childhood trauma in the middle of a high-end clothing store seemed like one of the worst ideas he could have. He reached into his pocket to once again to touch the magatama. It was still up to Edgeworth whether or not he’d confide in him; he wasn’t going to force him, no matter what. But it had only been one day since Edgeworth had decided to stay with him, and his worries had increased tenfold already. Regardless of what Edgeworth decided to do, he seriously hope that he was – and would be – okay.
December 21st, 3:02 AM
On day three of Edgeworth’s stay, Phoenix awoke late at night to the sound of his phone ringing.
Exhausted, he sat up from the couch, rubbing the ache in his back. He had told Edgeworth that he slept on the couch often as a means of making sure he took the bedroom, but now he was starting to regret it a little. That couch was not nearly as comfortable to sleep on as it had been about ten years ago.
Still, he didn’t have time to dwell on it. He could hear his Steel Samurai ringtone going off somewhere in the house… Oh, where did he leave his phone? Why didn’t he ever put it in the same place twice? Part of him wanted to ignore it, roll over and go to back to sleep, but what if it was an emergency? He could never be too sure.
He groggily followed the sound of that theme music into the hall until he reached the last door: his own bedroom. Shoot. He left it in his bedroom? Did it wake Edgeworth up? He didn’t even want to think of what Edgeworth would say to him about being awoken by Steel Samurai theme music at… at… he didn’t actually know how late it was. On the off chance that Edgeworth had somehow managed to sleep through the ringtone, Phoenix opened the door as quietly as he could.
Much to his surprise, Edgeworth wasn’t asleep, nor did he look like he had just been startled awake. He was sitting up in Phoenix’s bed, watching the T.V. Phoenix had long since moved in there from the living room to make room for Trucy’s magic props. In fact, that’s where the music was coming from, Phoenix realized. Edgeworth had put one of his old Steel Samurai DVDs in and Phoenix had groggily mistaken it to be his own phone.
“Edgeworth, what are you doing?” Phoenix finally asked.
“W-Wright!” Edgeworth stammered, grabbing the remote and pausing it as quickly as he could. “My apologies, did I wake you?”
“Yeah, kinda.” Phoenix replied. “That’s the same song as my ringtone, so…”
“All right, I’ll turn it down.”
“Edgeworth,” he glanced at the alarm clock on the cabinet, “why are you watching Steel Samurai at three in the morning?”
“Well…” He hesitated, likely considering lying for a moment, but finally answered: “I couldn’t really sleep, and I noticed you still had all the DVDs I sent you. If I’m not going to sleep I might as well be doing something.”
“Can I join you?”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Well, I’m already up.” Phoenix explained. “Besides, it has been awhile since I’ve watched some Steel Samurai.”
“…I have no objections.”
“Sweet! I’ll go make some popcorn-”
“It’s three in the morning; if you make popcorn you’ll probably wake Trucy.”
“Oh, all right.” Phoenix climbed into bed beside him, and Edgeworth resumed the DVD, turning it down a little. For a while, the two of them just watched the show in silence. It wasn’t uncomfortable, however; it was like they were kids again, enjoying a movie together at a sleepover. He remembered they had had a few before Edgeworth had moved away. They had been fun, but Edgeworth had been kind of a stickler. Sleepovers weren’t actually about sleeping, but he didn’t seem to get that and insisted on going to bed at eleven at the latest. Larry had called him a buzz kill. Not that it mattered; Larry was pretty much asleep the moments the lights went out and snored so loudly Phoenix thought he wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. Thinking about that made this scenario all the stranger; Edgeworth wasn’t one to stay up late doing nothing. As he got older, Phoenix was sure Edgeworth likely spent late nights going over case files to an obsessive degree; he couldn’t even count the times Edgeworth had proudly exclaimed that he had various case files memorized at the start of a trial. But other than that, Phoenix assumed he probably kept a rigid schedule and went to bed early just like he did as a kid. So why was he idly watching Steel Samurai at three in the morning?
Phoenix found himself paying less and less attention to the show, his gaze slowly turning to Edgeworth. Despite seeming wide-awake when Phoenix had entered the room, he looked exhausted. Had he not been getting any sleep at all? Or was it something else?
“Is this bed too uncomfortable?” Phoenix asked abruptly.
“What?” That had certainly caught Edgeworth off guard. “No, it’s not. Why?”
“You said you couldn’t sleep. I thought maybe this old mattress was too banged up for someone like you.”
“I’ll have you know I’ve spent the night in the detention center before, Wright.”
“Okay, but did you actually get any sleep in there?”
“…Your mattress is fine.”
Somehow Phoenix knew he wouldn’t be getting a direct answer out of him anytime soon. He sighed and gazed at the T.V. show again, but his thoughts remained on Edgeworth. Now that Phoenix thought about it, he had looked exhausted throughout the past three days. In fact, he hadn’t seen Edgeworth look this tired since…
No, he was jumping to conclusions too quickly. Ever since he had seen those psyche-locks on him the day he had arrived, his mind had always jumped to the worst possible conclusion about anything. He needed to stop thinking about this. Edgeworth was probably just stressed. Going through an earthquake and having his house burn down could not be easy.
But was that really enough for five psyche-locks?
Phoenix tried to ignore it and focus on the T.V. show. If Edgeworth wanted to tell him what was troubling him, he would. Besides, maybe he was just having trouble sleeping because he was a different bed in a different place; that wasn’t that unusual, was it? Edgeworth was picky about things anyways. It wouldn’t surprise him if that pickiness extended to beds, too.
Could it really be that simple, though?
Before he could mentally debate the answer to that question, he felt something press against his side. Edgeworth had fallen asleep, letting his head rest on Phoenix’s shoulder. Had this occurred ten years ago, Phoenix would’ve been ecstatic. Or embarrassed. He wasn’t sure which. But now, it just made him content. Edgeworth was finally getting the sleep he so obviously needed, and he trusted Phoenix enough to do so by his side.
Okay, maybe Phoenix was a little ecstatic about that.
The urge to stay put and let Edgeworth sleep away on him was strong, but Phoenix soon decided against it. This wouldn’t be that comfortable for either of them for long, and the DVD was still playing. Slowly, he shifted and lowered Edgeworth so he was resting on the pillow, then he climbed out of bed and took the DVD out. He was about to head out and try to sleep on that moderately comfortable couch again, but he decided to take one last look back in case he forgot something.
Right. The glasses. Edgeworth was still wearing them. Phoenix returned and took the glasses off, setting them on the bedside table. Honestly, he liked those glasses; they made Edgeworth look very handsome. He wondered if Edgeworth had always needed them or not. If so, why did he wait so long? Maybe he didn’t like the way glasses looked?
No, he doubted Edgeworth would be that petty. But Phoenix could definitely think of someone else who was. Besides, when Edgeworth wore those glasses, Phoenix couldn’t deny how similar he looked to his late father. Perhaps that man had realized that, too? And wanting so desperately to separate Edgeworth from him, he had forbid it?
Phoenix shut the door and headed back down the hall. He was reading far too much into things again. Sometimes analyzing things was to his benefit, but this was a bit excessive. Edgeworth had likely just gotten sick of contacts or realized he needed glasses one day. Simple as that.
Phoenix laid down on the couch and tried not to think about it, instead hoping that Edgeworth would sleep peacefully through the rest of the night.
December 25th, 8:11 AM
Christmas day rolled around about a week after Edgeworth came to Phoenix’s place.
Phoenix had almost forgotten about the holiday with how hectic things had been recently. He had spent the tail end of this year studying for – and thankfully passing – the bar exam again, and then there was the earthquake and Edgeworth staying over… In fact, the only thing that had reminded him was Trucy putting up a tiny tree Phoenix had forgotten they even owned in the living room. She had decorated it with the usual decorations… which, for Trucy, was a lot of cards and colored scarves. At least she had still put the star at the top. He was thankful that he had a few gifts picked out already; he tended to be a bit of an impulse buyer when it came to friends, and those gifts would just accumulate in his closet until birthdays and holidays rolled around.
He got up early, and headed to the kitchen. He had been sure to make Trucy breakfast as often as he could, even if it was as simple as pouring a bowl of cereal, but on holidays he tried to make her something special. He wasn’t a great cook but once he adopted Truy he had had little choice but to become somewhat adequate at it. He pulled out a frying pan and a carton of eggs and got to work.
Edgeworth was the first to emerge, already fully dressed and looking professional as usual. And tired. Why did he always look so tired? Regardless, he looked surprised to see Phoenix up; this was the first time all week Edgeworth hadn’t been the first one awake.
“Good morning, Edgeworth!” He exclaimed. “How do you like your eggs?”
“Are you making me breakfast?”
“Yup. Now how do you like your eggs?”
“Sunny side up is fine. Why?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I’m making breakfast because it’s Christmas, of course! I always make Trucy something nice on holidays.”
“Christmas…?” Based on that, Phoenix figured that Edgeworth had completely forgotten about the holiday as well.
“Mm-hmm. Go ahead and take a seat; I’m sure Trucy will be up in a second.”
Soon enough, Trucy did get up, excitedly coming into the kitchen with Mr. Hat in tow. Both were wearing Santa hats, however.
“Good morning, Daddy! Merry Christmas!” She exclaimed. “You too, Edgey-Bo-Bedgy!”
“It’s not…” Edgeworth sighed, likely realizing that correcting her would just lead to worse nicknames. “You as well, Trucy.”
They all ate breakfast together, then came the presents. Many would be left unopened until later; Phoenix always held big parties at his place ever since the offices became his. He couldn’t remember how that happened, really. First it was just Maya, Larry and Gumshoe but with each passing year more and more people would show up. For a few years after he had been disbarred, he had stopped throwing the parties. He wasn’t in the financial situation – or the mood – to do so. But now he’d like to get back to that if he could. Parties like that could be hectic but the company was always fun.
Most of the presents were for Trucy. She was his daughter, after all, and even if he was perpetually broke he would still dote upon her when he could. He had gotten her some new clothes, lots of craft supplies for future magic acts… convincing Apollo to ask Klavier for a signed Gavinner’s poster had been tricky, but he had eventually come through. All the while, Phoenix noticed Edgeworth watching intently. Edgeworth had come to a couple of Phoenix’s Christmas parties in the past, (usually dragged there by Gumshoe or Larry), but usually found a reason to leave pretty quickly. Phoenix didn’t judge; holiday parties didn’t seem like his thing. But today, seeing how he didn’t have much to do aside from staying at Phoenix’s place, he stayed put. Though he did look a bit awkward sitting there and staring so intensely as Trucy opened presents. Phoenix grabbed a present from under the tree and handed it to him.
“Here, Edgeworth,” Phoenix said, “this one’s for you.”
“Oh.” This wasn’t the first time Phoenix had gotten him a gift, nor would it be the last, but Edgeworth always seemed so surprised to receive one. “Thank you, Wrig-”
“Hold it!” Trucy exclaimed, shoving a box at Edgeworth. “Open mine first!”
“…You got me something?” Edgeworth asked.
“Nope! I made you something.” Trucy explained proudly. “Or I guess somethings. Now open it before I tell you what it is!”
“All right.” Edgeworth complied, and opened the present with about as much tidiness as he put into everything. Seriously, Phoenix had never met someone so careful not to rip wrapping paper before. Inside the box were two things: a beanie and a cravat. The beanie was very similar to the one Phoenix had worn during the past few years. However, it was bright pink where his was blue, and it bright cyan text it read: “Edgey”. The cravat, on the other hand, looked strangely normal considering it was made by Trucy. The only odd thing about it was the symbols stitched on the lace; they were almost identical to those on Trucy’s cape.
“Trucy…” Edgeworth said, gazing at the gifts. Phoenix wondered if he liked them or not. Edgeworth was a hard man to read, especially since his typical impression seemed to be that of disdain. “Thank you very much.”
“You have to try them on first, okay?” Trucy insisted. “I need to know if I need to change them at all.” Edgeworth glanced at the beanie, then at Phoenix. Phoenix just grinned.
“If you insist.”
The hat fit fine, though it took everything in Phoenix to not laugh at the sight of Edgeworth wearing it. He had never once seen Edgeworth wear a hat, and Trucy’s bright colored beanies were not the best place to start. Not that he’d ever insult her craftsmanship of course. Just seeing Edgeworth’s bitter expression under that bright pink hat made him stifle a laugh, though.
As for the cravat, that fit perfectly as well. It didn’t even clash that much, either. In fact, based on the way Edgeworth was looking at it, Phoenix would almost assume that he was considering keeping it on. Only today, of course. He seriously doubted Edgeworth would wear that to the prosecutor's office.
“Once again Trucy,” he said, doing that over dramatic bow that he tended to do, “thank you for this.”
“Wait! One more thing!” She exclaimed. “That cravat’s magic, you know!”
“They’re like my panties!”
“Here, let me demonstrate!” She reached up and grabbed his cravat then pulled out the present Phoenix had been meaning to give him. Watching Edgeworth open Trucy’s gifts had been so distracting that he hadn’t even noticed her take it.
“Wh-what?” Edgeworth asked, looking surprised.
“See? Magic! You can use that to pull out game-changing evidence during a trial sometime! It’s bound to leave the audience on their toes!”
“I’ll consider it…” Based on his started expression, Phoenix could assume he wasn’t considering it.
Later that day, Phoenix held a Christmas party as usual. There were more people here than there had been in years. There was the usual group consisting of Larry and Gumshoe. Maya and Pearls were absent this year, but Maya had sent a letter wishing him well and sent a gift, too. Athena, Ema and Apollo showed up as well… as did Klavier, shockingly, though he kept to speaking mostly with Apollo and Trucy. Based on the nervous glances he kept shooting Phoenix, he probably still felt a little guilty for getting him disbarred all those years ago. If it was any consolation, Phoenix had helped get his brother thrown in prison. So he supposed they were about equal now.
Honestly, Phoenix was having a great time. He hadn’t felt this lighthearted during the holidays in a very long time. He had been a bit wary about having a party like this ever since he had gotten disbarred. Honestly, it had been a huge blow to his reputation, and he didn’t want his friends to think badly of him. So he had shut them out, simple as that. Now he was beginning to realize how bad of a decision that had been. These people were his friends; they’d stick by him until the end, and he knew that.
But whatever. That was the past, and this was now. Currently, Larry looked a bit drunk, Trucy was putting on a magic act for the guests by pretending to saw a rather begrudging-looking Apollo in half, Klavier, Athena and Ema were watching with great amusement while Gumshoe looked worried that she was actually going to cut him in half. As for Edgeworth… Phoenix found him keeping to himself towards the back of the room. Not that he had been avoiding people, necessarily. He had seen him chatting with Gumshoe, earlier. Larry too, but he actually looked annoyed then, as usual. Phoenix soon joined him, pouring them both a glass of grape juice.
“Here, Edgeworth.” Phoenix said, handing him one. Edgeworth accepted it with a nod. For a moment, the two of them just stood there together, watching the party from a distance.
“My apologies for not getting you or Trucy anything.” Edgeworth suddenly said. “The holiday completely slipped my mind.”
“Oh… it’s fine.” Phoenix replied. “I mean, you got me a shirt the other day that was worth two months of my salary. No worries.”
“If you insist.”
“Edgeworth… you are having fun, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am. I suppose it’s just been awhile since I’ve spent the holidays opening gifts and spending time with other people.”
“Really. It’s been twenty-five years, to be exact.”
“W-wait, that long?!”
“Yes. Christmastime at Von Karma’s was spent with family, which I wasn’t, so I just stayed in my room. And after I became a prosecutor, I was often so busy I forgot about the holidays.”
“That’s awful…” Despite that, Phoenix couldn’t say he was that shocked. He couldn’t imagine that man throwing a fun holiday party under any circumstances, and the latter part came as no surprise, either. Still it was upsetting to hear. Twenty-five years… and here Phoenix had been lamenting on how long seven years had felt.
“It’s not that bad. After all, it’s just a day.”
That was true, but it still rubbed Phoenix the wrong way. Sure, things like holidays didn’t matter that much as one got older, but for a kid they were a huge deal. Having to spend it alone in his room from ten years old onwards would be upsetting, at least to him. Especially that last thing he had said… about not being able to join in because he wasn’t family… He was not surprised in the slightest that man would say such a thing about a child, but it was still upsetting. He hadn’t heard that man’s name in years, but it still managed to make his blood run cold. Not that he should be the one who was upset. He wasn’t the one who had had to live under his rule.
“Say, Edgeworth,” Phoenix finally said, “what do you think about doing this again next year? Trucy’s really loved having you over. And the more the merrier, right?”
“I’m not burning my house down again.” Edgeworth replied.
“You know that’s not what I meant.” Phoenix couldn’t help but chuckle at that.
“I will consider it, Wright.” Edgeworth said, idly playing with the empty glass in his hands. If Phoenix didn’t know any better, he’d almost say Edgeworth looked embarrassed. Phoenix just smiled, happy to have Edgeworth spend the holiday by his side.
December 28th, 11:43 PM
Three days after Christmas, Edgeworth told Phoenix that this would be his last night staying with him.
It was late when he had told him. Trucy had long since gone to bed, and so had Edgeworth. Or so Phoenix had thought until he wandered in about an hour later.
“Wait, already?” Phoenix asked.
“Yes. It’s been about two weeks; that’s more than enough time to make the house habitable again, if not finished.”
Somehow, Phoenix felt like it’d take more time than that. But he didn’t know enough about construction work to argue. And knowing how powerful of a man Edgeworth was, he had probably found some way to speed the process.
“When will you be leaving, then?”
“Probably tomorrow morning. I would hate to take up more of your time.”
“Don’t say that. I’ve been having a lot of fun. And I hope you’ve been having some fun, too.”
“…It would be a lie to say I wasn’t.”
Phoenix appreciated it, but couldn’t help but wonder if Edgeworth was just incapable of answering anything directly.
“But as much as I have enjoyed your company,” Edgeworth continued, “I really should return home. You will have cases soon enough. And as soon as New Year’s is over, I’m sure I’ll be far busier than I am now.”
“I guess so…” Phoenix couldn’t really argue with him. He knew it was inevitable that Edgeworth would go home soon enough. It wasn’t like he planned on staying here forever. A guy like Edgeworth didn’t fit in at all in this cramped, rather untidy place anyways. “Still… I’m going to miss you. If you ever need a place to stay again, just ask.”
“…Wright, there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”
“Sure. What’s up?”
Edgeworth sat down beside him on the couch, looking about as tense as usual.
“Almost two weeks ago, when I first arrived here, I was acting rather strangely. I’m sure you’d like to know the reason why.”
“Oh.” After the festivities of Christmas and how normal things had seemed for a bit, Phoenix had almost forgotten about Edgeworth’s strange actions and the five psyche-locks surrounding him. “Y-yeah, I’d like to know. But only if you want to tell me.”
“I think I do.”
Phoenix slid his hand into his pocket and gripped the magatama. The chains and locks showed up out of nowhere once more, fastening tightly around Edgeworth again. Phoenix took a deep breath; it didn’t matter how many times he did this, it never ceased to make him nervous.
“For starters,” Phoenix said, “if you want to stop just let me know.”
“All right, just checking. Anyways…” Phoenix was at a loss of where to begin. This was so much easier when he was interrogating someone he wasn’t personally close to, but with Edgeworth in front of him it was an entirely different story. Plus, it was late and he was a bit tired.
Tired… That got him thinking.
“So what made you decide to talk to me about this so late? I mean…” He gazed at the clock on the wall. “It’s almost midnight. Why are you still up?”
“I could ask you the same.”
Phoenix was still up because the couch was uncomfortable, but he wasn’t going to tell Edgeworth that.
“Yes, well… it seems like you haven’t been getting much sleep recently.”
“I’m sleeping fine; I guess I’m just a bit stressed out.”
“Is that really it though? I mean, just the other day I found you watching Steel Samurai at three in the morning, claiming that you couldn’t sleep.”
“Edgeworth, you’re exhausted. I haven’t seen you look this tired in a very long time. Maybe I’m reading into things too much, but… have you been having that dream again?”
The first lock burst and disappeared.
Well, that was a start. But Phoenix really wished it hadn’t been like this.
“…It is as you say.”
“I thought you said you stopped having that dream.”
“I did stop having that dream. Consistently, at least. Sometimes, I still have it though. Von Karma’s guilty verdict eased my conscious, but it didn’t erase the trauma.”
“That sounds awful.”
“It’s not as bad as it used to be.”
“But you’re having the dream again, consistently, it looks like. Do you know why?”
Edgeworth didn’t say anything, but Phoenix had a bit of an idea already.
“When you first came here, you looked a bit unsettled.”
“My house had burned down.”
“I know that, and I’m so glad you didn’t get hurt. But I think there was more to it. Detective Gumshoe told me a little more about what happened that day. He said he found you passed out in a room full of smoke. If you found someone in that state, you’d take them to the hospital, wouldn’t you? But Gumshoe told me you freaked out when he offered. Why is that?”
“Th-that’s because…” He trailed off, averting his gaze away.
It didn’t look like Edgeworth was directly going to tell him. He supposed that was the point of the psyche-locks, but it had been worth a shot.
“You had that dream when you passed out that day, didn’t you? That’s what started it.”
The second lock shattered.
“Edgeworth, I’m sorry… That must have been really scary.”
“It’s not your fault. I passed out, so I don’t remember much, but… I remember it being hard to breathe.”
Phoenix figured he knew where this was going. It didn’t matter how many years had passed since he had solved it; he would never forget the details of the DL-6 case. Everyone in the elevator had passed out from oxygen deprivation, giving Von Karma the prime opportunity to murder Gregory. Edgeworth had awoken at the hospital a few hours later to possibly the worst news of his life.
“I guess that sensation triggered the memories. And whenever I have that dream, it feels… real. So to wake up in that mentality, feeling as if I am a frightened child again… you can understand why I would not want to go to the hospital, right?”
“Yes… I think I get it.” Phoenix didn’t have any similar experiences, but he could understand what Edgeworth meant. Going to a hospital would be imitating the events of that day a little too closely. Being unable to breathe had likely been too similar to begin with.
That gave Phoenix an idea, though he didn’t like where his train of thought was going. Not that he hadn’t expected something unpleasant to be hidden beneath those locks.
“When you have that dream, you tend to dwell on it, right?” He paused. “N-not that I don’t understand why, of course!”
“Of course I do.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but the day you showed up here… you were still thinking about it, weren’t you?”
“I think that should be apparent.”
Phoenix had no idea if he was even going down the right track or not, but it never hurt to guess.
“Something tells me it didn’t just stop where the dream ended. You’ve been dwelling on more than that. The other day, at the party, you mentioned a name I thankfully haven’t heard in years. Honestly, it caught me off guard. I’ve been trying to forget about him. And I think you have, too. So it was kind of odd to hear you talk about him. Have you been dwelling on him, too?”
Edgeworth said nothing, and Phoenix took this as a sign to go on.
“I’m talking about Manfred Von Karma, of course.”
The third lock burst, and Phoenix could feel his blood run cold.
Of course that man had something to do with all of this. He had hoped there would be a different explanation, but he couldn’t think of any possible alternative.
“That man… he ties in with that dream.”
“Yes, we’ve already established that.”
“But something tells me you weren’t thinking about what he had done that day. At the party, you talked a little about how he treated you while you were living with him. It sounded awful.”
“It wasn’t that bad. Telling me not to come to dinner because I wasn’t family isn’t mistreatment.”
“No, that technically isn’t. But that didn’t mean he didn’t mistreat you. He treated you horribly, didn’t he?”
“It… could have been worse.”
“It could’ve been a lot better, too.” Phoenix sighed. He didn’t like where this was going at all, but Edgeworth had wanted to talk to him about this. And Phoenix wanted to listen to him, to hear his problems and help, if he could; and it didn’t matter how painful those problems might be. He wanted to be there for him. “The other day, when you took me to that fancy clothing store… I noticed my shirt was really small on you.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“I’m sorry but… when you were walking away, I could see a little bit of your back. And there were scars there.”
Edgeworth looked surprised, but didn’t say anything.
“They looked old, but they looked familiar. After all, I had a million just like them after I got a not guilty verdict for my defendants while facing off against Franziska. Maybe I’m reading into things too much, but she had to get the habit of using a whip from somewhere. Perhaps from watching someone else. Edgeworth… did Von Karma give you those scars when you were younger?”
The fourth lock broke.
Phoenix felt terrible, but he knew that nothing he was feeling right now could even compare to what Edgeworth had gone through. Edgeworth didn’t respond to his comment, instead just gripping his arm. It didn’t take a fancy bracelet to know that he was feeling nervous.
“We can stop if you want.” Phoenix said, reaching his hand out gently to comfort him. The moment he touched his shoulder, Edgeworth seemed to relax slightly, and he let go of his own arm.
“That won’t be necessary. Besides… this is something you deserve to know.”
“I don’t deserve to know anything, Edgeworth.” Phoenix replied. “I’ve told you before, this isn’t an investigation for a case. I’m here for you as your friend, not as an attorney.”
“I do want to tell you this.” Edgeworth said. “I think… I’ve been keeping to myself long enough.”
“If you’re sure.” There was only one lock left, and at this point, he was pretty sure he knew where to go from here to figure out how this connected to Trucy. He just really wished it hadn’t been the case. “Let’s change the subject for a second, okay? Do you know how I wound up adopting Trucy?”
“I do. Her father was accused of murdering her grandfather, and disappeared once you presented the fake evidence that had been planted on you.” He paused, seeming to worry for a second that he might strike a nerve with this line of conversation. Phoenix didn’t mind, however. He had felt devastated after the disbarment, but with little other choice he had accepted that the world would just see him as some lowly, forging ex-attorney. It would take years to prove the truth, and he had done that. It was over now. “A-anyways, after you had been disbarred, you took her in. I’ve done my research, Wright.”
“I know. I was just checking. I was asking because you and Trucy have quite a bit in common.”
“Do we now?”
“When it comes to circumstances, yes. Both of you lost your sole guardian in the courtroom.” Well in Trucy’s case, he had just vanished only to get murdered later. But that wasn’t the point right now. “Both of you wound up being adopted by one of the lawyers on the case. For Trucy it was me and for you it was Von Karma.”
“Interesting. I never thought about it that way.”
There was a chance that was true, but…
“Even if you didn’t find it similar, I know you’re worried about her. Even I’m still worried about her. She was so young when she was abandoned… I can only hope I’m doing a good job.”
“She seems to be very happy.”
“Well, thank you for that. But I know you’re still worried. After all…” He took a deep breath, remembering the events of that day nearly two weeks ago, and what he knew now. Edgeworth had been shaken up. His house had burned down due to an earthquake, and his mind had forced him to relive those horrible events from twenty-five years ago. Disoriented and tense, he had been brought to Phoenix’s place to stay for a while. Then, when Trucy had gotten home, when she had showed her adoptive father her less-than-stellar test score, he had thought… he had probably worried that… “Edgeworth, that day you first arrived here… You grabbed me because you were worried I was going to hurt Trucy, just like how Von Karma hurt you. Right?”
The final lock shattered, letting the chains that were wrapped around Edgeworth fall to the ground and dissipate into nothing.
Phoenix wasn’t sure if he felt better or worse. Sure, now he knew the truth. The five psyche-locks that had been bothering him for nearly two weeks now had been broken. But the truth wasn’t always happy or soothing. Sometimes the truth hurt.
“Edgeworth, I’m so sorry…”
“Don’t be. If anything I should be apologizing. It was wrong of me to assume you would do something like that to Trucy.”
“It’s okay, I completely understand.” He said gently. “Still, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s all right, it’s not like you knew. Besides, you’re the first person I’ve told about this.”
“Because I didn’t think it was wrong for a very long time. And by the time I realized it was… well, it didn’t matter anymore. Von Karma was gone and there was no point in talking about it.”
“Well… would you like to talk about it now? Keeping something like that to yourself for so long must be painful.”
“I suppose… if you’re willing to listen.”
“You know I am.” Phoenix wrapped his arm around Edgeworth’s shoulder in a way he could only hope came off as comforting, and Edgeworth began.
March 1st, 11:49 PM
Twenty-Four Years Ago
Edgeworth awoke with a strangled gasp, that horrible scream still ringing in his ears. It took him a moment to figure out where he was; he didn’t recognize his surroundings. He couldn’t see anything, and for a moment he was worried that he was still stuck in that dark, terrifying elevator.
Lightning flashed outside of the window, and while it initially startled him, it soon brought him comfort. In that split second of light, he had been able to see his surroundings; the dresser across the room, Pess’ bed, the foot of his four-poster bed… Yes, he knew where he was; he was in his bed in his own home. Well… not necessarily his own home. Von Karma had been sure to remind him that it was a privilege to be staying in this home to begin with. It wasn’t his home, nor would it ever be.
He sighed and rolled over, trying to steady his breathing and get back to sleep, but to little avail. His heart was still pounding and no matter how much he curled up under the covers, he couldn’t get himself to stop shaking. Eventually he gave up and got out of bed, wandering over to the dresser. Sitting upon it was a little calendar. Today it read March 1st, 2002. It had been over two months since that horrible incident, yet it kept repeating in his mind over and over again every single night. Why was this still happening? One time had been enough, hadn’t it? And that horrible scream… That was his father’s, wasn’t it…?
He needed to stop thinking about it. He wouldn’t get any sleep if he kept thinking about it. And if he didn’t get sleep, then he’d be tired. And if he was tired, then his grades would suffer. And if his grades suffered…
It didn’t matter how much he tried to rationalize it; sleep evaded him. Edgeworth glanced over at the clock on the wall. It was close to midnight. All things considered, it wasn’t that late. Edgeworth rolled out of bed, and headed out in the hallway. It was a long shot, but he was going to talk to Mr. Von Karma. He was sure that his new guardian wouldn’t be too happy to see him up at this hour but… he had to do something about this. Having the same horrible nightmare every day for two months was draining him. He was perpetually exhausted and it needed to stop. He was beginning to worry that there was something wrong with him. This wasn’t normal, was it?
Perhaps talking to someone would help. That’s what he’d always do when he had a nightmare back in his old home. He’d visit his father’s bedroom and tell him what happened. His father always seemed to know how to make him feel better. Sometimes, he’d make him a glass of warm milk. Other times, he’d let him sleep in his bed for the rest of the night. Sometimes, simply talking to him was enough. Regardless, telling someone always seemed to be the right thing to do.
Edgeworth reached the door to Von Karma’s study and hesitated. The light was still on, meaning he hadn’t left to go to bed yet. That was a start, at least. He wouldn’t want to wake him; that would probably really anger him. But… was this still a good idea? Von Karma didn’t seem to have much interest in being a father to him. He had told him on day one to only address him by name or by “sir”. And in return, he had informed Edgeworth that he would be referring to him solely by his last name; he would never be calling him “Miles”. Edgeworth supposed it was fine… It wasn’t like Von Karma was his father, and he wasn’t sure if he’d ever reach a point where he’d be comfortable enough to call anyone else his father, but it still seemed odd. For being so quick to adopt him, it was strange to see how unenthusiastic he was about being familial.
Still… his new mentor was all he had right now. Well, maybe he could tell Franziska about the dream… but what would she do about it? She wasn’t an adult, and would probably be too mad about him waking her to try and offer any help. No, Von Karma was his best bet; though that didn’t help with his nervousness in the slightest. After much deliberation, he finally knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” He sounded irritated. Then again, he always sounded like that.
“Um…” Edgeworth slowly opened the door and stepped inside the room. “It’s just me, sir.”
“What could you possibly want at this hour of the night?” Based on the curtness of his response, Edgeworth was sure he was irritated. But… he hadn’t told him to leave yet, either. That was a start.
“I… wanted to talk to you about something. Can I, sir?”
“Can’t this wait until morning? I’m very busy.” Edgeworth didn’t doubt that. After all, Von Karma still hadn’t looked away from his paperwork for even a second. “Go back to bed and don’t bother me.”
“That’s the problem.” Edgeworth replied. He was already regretting being in here. Von Karma was a busy, important man. He wouldn’t want to hear Edgeworth’s silly little problems. But still, he was already in here. It was now or never. “I cannot sleep, no matter how hard I try. I keep having nightmares.”
“Nightmares?” Von Karma repeated. “You disturb me from my work at this time of night to talk about nightmares? Don’t be stupid; it’s just your imagination. Now leave me alone.”
“B-but it’s not just my imagination!” Edgeworth shouted desperately. He regretted it the moment the words had come out. Talking back to his guardian was unacceptable enough, but he had just raised his voice at him. That was unforgivable, and the fact that Von Karma’s pen had stopped moving was proof that he had noticed. “I-I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to yell, I just… um… I keep dreaming about the elevator and… and… what happened to my father so… I don’t think it’s my imagination, sir.”
“…Is that so?” Von Karma finally asked, putting his pen down. He finally turned around to face Edgeworth, and if he didn’t know better, he’d almost say he looked intrigued. “What happens in the dream, then?”
“W-well…“ He honestly hadn’t expected to get this far. He was so sure that after that outburst, he’d be in trouble. But it seemed Von Karma was listening, at least for now. “I dream about being locked in that elevator. It’s dark, and I can hear my father and that other man arguing. I’m so scared that my father will be hurt that I… I…” Talking about this hurt; it didn’t matter how long it had been, the memory was still so clear and real to him. “I grab the gun by my feet and throw it at them, hoping to break off the fight. T-then I hear a gunshot and a really, really scary scream. That’s when I wake up.”
“Interesting. And these events are all true, correct?”
“Well, this changes everything, doesn’t it?”
“W-what do you mean?”
“Oh don’t be an idiot, Edgeworth. It’s simple math. There were three people in the elevator. One died, the other was found not guilty. What does that make the last person?”
“W-wait…” It didn’t take long for Edgeworth to connect the pieces at all. “Are you saying that…?”
“You’re the killer? Of course I am.” He smirked. “I had reason to believe so from the start, but now I know for certain.”
“No, that… that can’t be it…!” Edgeworth could feel himself beginning to tear up at Von Karma’s words, and his breath began to hitch. “I… I… I couldn’t have! I was just trying to help! It… it was an accident!”
“Quit sniveling like that, will you? It’s pathetic; you sound like one of those idiotic, bluffing defense attorneys.” Von Karma snapped. “Accident or no, it was murder. You’re still the one who took your father’s life.”
“N-no…! I…” It was no use, the more Edgeworth thought about it, the less evidence he had to possibly refute what Von Karma was saying. He had touched the gun. The bailiff was found not guilty. The only possible person left was himself. “I just… wanted to help. I didn’t want him to get hurt…!”
“And look what your help has done.” Von Karma scoffed. “A worthless child like yourself… did you really think you could do something helpful? If you had just stayed put none of this would’ve happened.”
Edgeworth didn’t have anything to say to that. He just buried his face in his hands, letting the sobs he couldn’t hold back any longer out. Von Karma’s words had to be the truth. His logic was completely sound; Edgeworth couldn’t think of any alternate possibility. He was having this dream due to a guilty conscious. He must have known deep down that he had killed his own father, and waking up each night out of sheer terror was how he was paying for it.
“I’m sorry…” He finally whimpered. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I-I didn’t mean to, I was just trying to help, I-”
He was cut off by a slap to his cheek. In his distraught state, he hadn’t even noticed Von Karma get up. He remained silent, staring up at his guardian fearfully. All things considered it didn’t hurt that much… but he had never been struck before.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself. It’s not going to change anything.” Von Karma muttered. “Edgeworth, do you know why I adopted you?”
Edgeworth was too scared to speak so he just shook his head in response.
“I already had my thoughts that you were the true culprit. Killing your own father is one of the worst sins you can commit. If this were to be found out… I’m sure the courts would show no mercy. Do you understand what I’m saying, boy? If it weren’t for me, you’d be rotting in jail right now.”
Edgeworth didn’t know much about Von Karma before he was adopted. His father was not one to spread gossip and only really said that Von Karma was ruthless and dangerous in his ways and was always determined to get a guilty verdict. If that was really the case, then why did he adopt him? Wouldn’t he welcome throwing him in jail?
“You’re probably wondering why I took you in, then.” Edgeworth stiffened, for a split second worrying that Von Karma could read minds. “Your father was a defense attorney. That pathetic man spent his life protecting criminals from justice. It’s no wonder his own son turned out to be one. You will never be forgiven for the crime you’ve committed. However, I don’t think you’re entirely tainted yet. You can be changed for the better.”
“I… I can?”
“I will train you to become a prosecutor. Prosecutors work to put criminals rightfully behind bars. If you become the perfect prosecutor and ensure that every criminal gets a guilty verdict, then perhaps you can begin make up for what you have done.”
A prosecutor…? Honestly, Edgeworth had never thought about becoming one. He had looked up to his own father so much that being a defense attorney was the only future he had ever envisioned for himself. He had always seen being a defense attorney as being a hero. It was like standing up to bullies; you work to ensure the freedom of innocent people. But what if they’re not innocent? Edgeworth had never asked his father if he wound up defending someone who was guilty… what if he had? What if his father had worked on the side of criminals all along? Not that that mattered. Defending a criminal was different than being one. And Edgeworth was a criminal, wasn’t he? He was sure his father must be absolutely disgusted with him right now. And how could he possibly continue his father’s legacy when he was the one that had cut it short?
“I’ll do my best.” Edgeworth finally said, wiping his eyes as best as he could. “I promise!”
“I expect nothing less than absolute perfection. Is that clear?”
“Good. Now go back to bed. I don’t want to hear from you for the rest of the night.”
Edgeworth complied without another word and headed towards the door. Somehow he doubted Von Karma was the type of person who would want to hear a “good night” before going to bed.
“One more thing, Edgeworth?” Von Karma said right as Edgeworth reached the door. “Never forget how lucky you are to be staying here. If I so wish it, I could throw you in jail for what you’ve done. You will do well to remember that.”
“…Yes, sir.” Edgeworth said, trying his hardest not to shake out of absolute fear. “I will not disappoint you.”
December 29th, 12:26 AM
“From that day onwards, Von Karma had complete control over me.” Edgeworth continued. “The threat of the world learning my crime… of being sent to jail or even executed for it was always hung over my head. Because of that, I let Von Karma do whatever he pleased to me. I was too scared of what might happen should I oppose, so I never did. That… and I guess I always felt as if I deserved it. I figured no punishment was severe enough to make up for killing my own father, so everything Von Karma did to me was justifiable in my eyes. He must have known that one day the weight of it all would be too much and I’d wind up confessing and falsely closing the case for good, but at the time it was perfect information to use to manipulate me. It wasn’t until after you solved the case that I began to realize how wrong that was, but… it didn’t matter anymore. He was already gone. There’s no point in prosecuting a dead man.”
Throughout the entire story, Edgeworth had managed to keep his composure the whole time. While there were a few instances here and there where he had nervously looked away, for the most part his voice hadn’t wavered, and he told the story as calmly as he would have argued his side in court.
Phoenix was the exact opposite and was having a hard time holding the tears back. It had started halfway through the story, but he had kept quiet. The last thing he would’ve wanted was for Edgeworth to stop and comfort him. But now he simply couldn’t stop them and let the tears run down his face. Edgeworth… he had been dealing with this alone, for how many years now? He spent most of his childhood living in fear and guilt all alone, letting Von Karma treat him like dirt because he didn’t feel he deserved any better. After the DL-6 case had been solved, Phoenix had had his ideas about what could’ve possibly happened in their time apart, but to actually hear them… It was overwhelming and he couldn’t help but weep.
“E-edgeworth,” Phoenix sniffled, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “I’m so sorry…!”
“If anything, I should be apologizing. Do you need a tissue?”
“Of course I’m crying! After hearing something like that why wouldn’t I cry?! I can’t believe you’re not crying!”
“Von Karma taught us that extreme emotions were a detriment to logic. I know now that that is wrong, too. But that is quite difficult to unlearn. Regardless, I don’t think I could cry at this story even if I wanted to.”
If anything, that just made it worse and Phoenix started crying harder.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize this story would upset you so much.”
“T-this isn’t about me.” Phoenix said, shaking his head. “I just… I feel so awful about this. You were going through all of this for so long and I… I never knew! If… if I had known, I-”
“Don’t blame yourself for this, Wright.” Edgeworth interrupted. “You would have only been a child too. As great as your intention, you wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Don’t blame yourself for this.”
“Still…” Phoenix knew he was right. Even as a defense attorney, Phoenix had still just barely managed to beat Von Karma. He would’ve been utterly useless to oppose him as a child. “Then maybe I can do something to help now? Has… has talking about this helped at all? Have I been able to help at all?”
“Of course you have. Aren’t you wondering why I chose to stay here instead of a hotel or somewhere else? Just being with you and Trucy… knowing you’re just a few rooms down grounds me. It reminds me that I’m not a scared child who’s completely isolated from the world anymore. No matter what I’m forced to remember, at the end of the day… I still have you.”
Phoenix supposed that was a start, but… he still felt so useless. He knew it was pointless to dwell on it, but he couldn’t help but wish he could change the past. Edgeworth didn’t deserve what he had been through. No person should have grown up like that.
“God, Miles…” Phoenix tried to think desperately of something more he could do to help. Edgeworth had suffered alone for years without any support or friends or love… and by the time he had any of those things, the case had been closed and he felt no need to speak of it. Maybe providing comfort now was the most he could do? “…Can I hug you?”
“Um…” Clearly he hadn’t expected that question, nor for Phoenix to use his first name. He looked confused for a moment, then awkwardly opened his arms. “I don’t see why not.”
Phoenix rushed forward and embraced him, letting his head rest on Edgeworth’s shoulder. Based on the way Edgeworth initially stiffened and how long it took for him to hug him back, Phoenix could assume that Edgeworth didn’t get hugged very often. That just made him want to hold him tighter.
For a moment there was silence as Phoenix just held Edgeworth in his arms. He sincerely hoped Edgworth wouldn’t be too mad if he cried on his suit. Still… he couldn’t even begin to count the number of times he had desperately just wanted to hug Edgeworth over the past ten years, but Edgeworth had been far too determined to shut others out to do so. The fact that he was letting Phoenix hold him, and talk to him about this in the first place, meant he had come so far.
“You’re so strong.” Phoenix said, rubbing Edgeworth’s back gently. “Really, you are. You’ve come so far and I… I’m so proud of you.”
“For… everything, I guess. For trusting others and beginning to open up. For being so compassionate when it comes down to it. For choosing to do what’s right in the end, despite how you were taught. And… for surviving it all, I guess. Sometimes just living against the odds is something to be proud of, y’know?”
“As dramatic as always, aren’t you?” Edgeworth asked.
“I guess it’s just my inner art student speaking.” Phoenix replied with a smile. He couldn’t see Edgeworth, but based on the way his shoulders began to slump, Phoenix could guess that he was beginning to relax a bit. Phoenix felt better himself, honestly. But that didn’t mean this was over yet. While he was happy to know more about Edgeworth and be there to support him, that didn’t solve the problem at hand. What started all of this was a single worry that crossed Edgeworth’s mind and how he had acted upon it.
“There’s one last thing I want to clarify.” Phoenix said. He finally pulled away from the hug and gazed at Edgeworth. For a moment, he saw the child he had befriended all those years ago, the one who had stood up for him when no one else would and had changed his life for what he still truly believed to be the better. God, Edgeworth was so perfect. The fact that anyone could look at him and want to hurt him, especially while he was at his lowest, made his blood boil. What Von Karma had done was unforgivable. To think that anyone could do such a thing to a child… Phoenix thought about Trucy. Intelligent, cute, hard-working Trucy…. She was so precious to him. She had been his light during seven hopelessly dark years, one of his closest friends and his absolutely wonderful daughter. The thought of anything bad happening to her put a pit in his stomach. “I would never hurt Trucy. Ever. I couldn’t even dream of it. I love her so, so much… if anything were to hurt her; I wouldn’t be able to bear it. I completely understand where your worry came from; I just wanted to let you know that.”
Edgeworth just stared at him for a moment before a lovely, rare smile graced his lips.
“You didn’t have to clarify anything to me. I don’t think you could harm a single person, even if you wanted to.”
“I dunno about that… I was this close to fighting Trucy’s real dad the last time I saw him.”
“Still… what I’m saying is that I trust you, Phoenix.”
Phoenix was going to say something else but his train of thought was completely interrupted at hearing Edgeworth say his first name. How many years had it been? Even as they had become very close, he still usually chose to call him by his last name. Honestly, he had missed it.
Phoenix just smiled and hugged Edgeworth again.
December 29th, 11:53 AM
Just as planned, Edgeworth got ready to go the very next morning. Not as early as he had anticipated, but he was still packed and ready to go just a little before noon.
“Do you really have to go so soon, Edgey?” Trucy pouted. “I was planning a magic trick that would involve you.”
“I’m sure your father would be more than happy to participate in my place.” Edgeworth replied.
“Well, all right.” She sighed, then stepped forward and hugged Edgeworth tightly. “I’m gonna miss you, though.”
“Y-yes…” Edgeworth replied, looking a bit surprised by her embrace. Eventually, he returned it, patting her head awkwardly. “I’ll miss you, too.”
“And promise me you’ll come see my next show, okay?”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Edgeworth said, pulling away from her.
“Yay! If you come, I promise I’ll even give you an autographed poster. No charge, obviously!”
“Sounds wonderful, Trucy.” He abruptly turned his attention to Phoenix, who had been watching rather happily the whole time. “Help me with my bags.”
“Huh? Why?” Phoenix asked. Edgeworth had essentially come here with nothing, and after two weeks really all he had to take home with him were Pess, the clothes he had bought for himself and the presents he had gotten from Trucy and Phoenix.
“Because I asked you to.” Edgeworth replied with a glare.
“Fine.” Phoenix just rolled his eyes and picked up Edgeworth’s other bag, and followed him to his car.
“Wright,” Edgeworth said after the two of them had put his few bags away, “I’d like to thank you.”
“Why? That bag barely weighed anything.”
“Not for that. I meant for taking me in when I needed it... And for every moment after.”
“Oh.” Phoenix smiled. “Of course. Don’t worry about it.”
“It seems I’m in your debt once again.”
“What? No, it’s fine! Really.” Phoenix replied. “I’m sure you’d do the same for me, and-”
“Please, I insist.” Edgeworth interrupted, grabbing ahold of Phoenix’s hand tightly. “If there’s anything I can do in return…”
“Well…” Some things just don’t change, Phoenix thought. He thought of something and smiled, squeezing Edgeworth’s hand gently. “A new Italian place opened up a few blocks away. It’s been awhile since we’ve gone somewhere, just the two of us, y’know? Maybe if you’re not too busy, we could go there some time?”
“Wright…” Phoenix almost couldn’t believe it himself, but Edgeworth chuckled. “As hopelessly romantic as always, aren’t you?”
“You know it.” Phoenix replied. “So, what do you say? You free on Thursday?”
“I’ll pick you up at five-thirty.”
“Wait, really?” Edgeworth just nodded. “Okay! Sounds good! I’ll even wear that nice dress shirt you bought me, I promise! No hoodies on our… our date.”
“I’m holding you to that promise.” Edgeworth said. He stepped forward and gave Phoenix a kiss on the cheek. “Take care of Trucy, all right? I’ll see you later.”
“R-right…” Phoenix stammered, still reveling at the fact that Edgeworth of all people had just kissed him.
He was still staring absent-mindedly and waving long after Edgeworth had driven away.
When he returned inside, Trucy was grinning at him.
“You seem happy.” She said. “Did Edgey ask you out on a date? Is that why he wanted to talk to you alone?”
“As perceptive as ever, Trucy.” Phoenix replied. Though technically he was the one who had asked Edgeworth out… close enough, he supposed.
“Still, I’m a little sad.”
“Did Edgeworth really not like being here? From the very start I could tell something was upsetting him. But this morning, I couldn’t sense that anymore. Was he really that happy to go home?”
“Oh, Trucy. That’s not it. I promise. He can be kind of standoffish, but he really likes you. He really worries about you, too.”
“Tell him there’s nothing to worry about. I’m a professional, you know!”
"Professional at everything!"
“Don’t worry, I think he knows that now.”
Honestly, Phoenix was a bit jealous of his daughter’s ability to be so perceptive. He was sure if he had had that ability, it would’ve helped him greatly in the past. Not that Trucy had wasted it, of course. Maybe that’s why she possessed such confidence all the time. He knew that if he was abandoned as a child and had only a random ex-attorney to take care of him, he’d be nervous and scared. But Trucy hadn’t been scared at all. She seemed to be able to tell that Phoenix was trustworthy enough and had immediately trusted him wholeheartedly. Phoenix still wasn’t sure if he was the greatest parent in the world. He couldn’t always afford to give her everything she wanted, and there were times he worried he was a bit too aloof with her than he should’ve been. But at the end of the day… he was glad she was with him. After hearing Edgeworth’s story, it wasn’t difficult to imagine just how easy it would’ve been for her to wind up in the hands of someone much, much worse. He stooped down abruptly and hugged her tight.
“Wh- Daddy?” Trucy asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, Trucy.” Phoenix replied. “I just want you to know that I love you, okay?”
“I love you too, Daddy!” She replied, hugging him back tightly. There wasn’t a shred of hesitation in her voice, and that alone was almost enough to bring him to tears.